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Thu 25th Jan 2018 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Boparan to franchise Slim Chickens in the UK: Boparan Restaurant Group, which owns Giraffe, Ed’s Easy Diner and Harry Ramsden’s, has partnered with Slim Chickens USA to bring the fast-casual, fresh chicken brand to the UK market. Slim Chickens co-founders Tom Gordon and Greg Smart launched the brand 15 years ago. From humble beginnings in Tom’s garage, the duo quickly secured their first official locations, opening in Fayetteville, Arkansas in 2003. Since then, the team has launched over 70 locations across the US, with ambitious growth plans to open a further 600 stateside restaurants. Slim Chickens is teaming up with Boparan Restaurant Group to replicate its USA success and bring its own brand of southern hospitality to a UK audience. The UK menu will feature Slim Chicken’s signature hand-breaded Chicken Tenders, as well as fresh chicken sandwiches and marinated wings. Everything is cooked to order and served with the Slim Chickens homemade sauces – just like you’d get them in the south. Tom Gordon, co-founder and chief executive officer of Slim Chickens said: “We can’t wait to bring a little bit of Southern USA Hospitality and our fresh quality chicken brand to the UK. The Boparan Restaurant group was a logical choice when it came to choosing a franchise partner due to their strong operating capability, and their years of experience in the restaurant industry. We’re confident this will be the start of a prosperous relationship for years to come.” Tom Crowley, chief executive of Boparan Restaurant Group added: “We are very excited about bringing Slim Chickens to the UK. The founders Tom and Greg have created an incredible concept. There is something totally unique about Slims freshly cooked chicken and house sauces, its modern blues music and its awesome hospitality. We believe there is opportunity in the UK for a “better chicken” brand like Slims and we are very excited by what we could achieve together. Working in partnership with our new friends at Slims, we have firm plans to open restaurants around the UK over the coming months and years securing Slim Chickens’ as a renowned market leader in the sector. Our first site opening will be opening in London in spring this year.”

Industry News:

Propel Multi Club Conference open for bookings, Iqbal Wahhab to present: The first Propel Multi Club Conference of 2018 is open for bookings. The full-day event takes place on Wednesday, 7 March at the Grange Hotel in St Paul’s, London. Iqbal Wahhab, founder of Cinnamon Club and Roast, will talk about the genesis and development of his new US southern barbecue concept Atticus and give his views on how foodservice entrepreneurs can make a difference in their communities. Multi-site operators of pubs, restaurants and foodservice outlets can book up to two free places by emailing Anne Steele at

Supply Chain Masterclass open for bookings: Supply Chain Masterclass, which will look at how to achieve best-in-class supply chain efficiency, is open for bookings. The one-day event, launched by Propel in partnership with Food Partners founder and managing director Campbell Askwith, will take place in the Fifth Floor State Rooms at 30 Euston Square, London, on Wednesday, 21 February. The event will pose the question: “Who should be responsible for a restaurant, pub or hotel group’s purchasing strategy?” Askwith will ask a panel including James Nye, managing director of Anglian Country Inns, Christian Hall, finance director of Thai Leisure Group, and John Wood, a former Michelin-starred and world-renowned executive chef and now managing director of Kitchen Cut, who does purchasing best – chef, purchasing manager or outsource? Other speakers will include brand, growth and development strategist James Hacon, who will ask if there is a commercial strategy around “provenance” or whether it’s simply marketing and provide thoughts, facts and recommendations. International business coach Gerard Hargreaves will share his thoughts on how best to leverage the most from your supplier meetings. Tickets are £295 for Propel premium members and £345 for others. To book, email Anne Steele on or call 01444 817691.

JD Wetherspoon steak supplier investigated by food safety inspectors ahead of recall: The steak supplier behind a recall across JD Wetherspoon’s estate is being investigated by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) over non-compliance with hygiene regulations. The FSA said it became aware of instances of “serious non-compliance with food hygiene regulations” at Russell Hume on 12 January, which led inspectors to investigate the company’s sites. Russell Hume said the product recall, which led many customers attending Wetherspoon’s weekly Steak Club on Tuesday (23 January) to complain that steak was unavailable, was a precautionary measure due to mislabelling. The FSA stated: “There is no indication people have become ill from eating meat supplied by Russell Hume. However, we are concerned about poor practices at its premises so we have taken proportionate action to ensure no meat can leave its sites at present.” The FSA said Russell Hume distributed meat to a range of outlets, including hospitality and catering businesses, care homes and schools. Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon told the Express & Star: “Currently rump steak, sirloin steak and gammon steak are not available – but we hope to resolve this soon.”

UK hotel industry posts solid growth in 2017 following record-breaking first half: The UK hotel industry posted solid growth across the three key performance metrics during 2017 following a record-breaking first half, according to data from STR. The occupancy level increased 0.5% to 77.4%, while average daily rate rose 3.6% to £92.32 and revpar increased 4.1% to £71.49. STR analysts said performance figures for the final months of 2017 showed the “Brexit effect” appeared to be waning as the pound continued to climb following the slump seen in the wake of the June 2016 EU referendum. While occupancy levels decreased slightly for seven straight months to end the year, it grew year-on-year in each month in 2017. London hotels posted a 4.1% increase in average daily rate for the year, with relatively flat occupancy heavily affected by strong, continued supply growth. The UK capital also showed resilience in the wake of multiple terror attacks in 2017, with minimal impact on hotel performance, STR said. For the European hotel industry as a whole, the occupancy level increased 2.4% to 71.9%, while average daily rate rose 3.1% to €110.51. Revpar increased 5.6% to €79.46. STR’s report focused on three key markets – the UK, the Netherlands and Spain – with all showing marked increases across the key performance metrics.

Plans for Britain’s first 24-hour fish and chip shop hit by crime concerns: Plans to open Britain’s first permanent 24-hour fish and chip shop, in Cardiff city centre, have been hit by concerns it could lead to a rise in antisocial behaviour. Police, residents and other operators are worried the new hours would increase alcohol-related crime and make the city centre a no-go area at night. Parc Lane Fish & Chips also wants to extend its licence to serve alcohol until midnight. An objection letter on behalf of the nearby Jurys Inn stated: “Our clients are extremely concerned the additional hours sought for the sale of alcohol, the provision of late-night refreshment and the provision of regulated entertainment will adversely affect hotel residents staying at Jurys Inn.” Parc Lane Fish & Chips is in Queen Street – one of Cardiff’s busiest roads. The National Federation of Fish Friers told The Sun the chip shop would be the first in the UK to trade round the clock if the application was successful, although one opens in Blackpool in the peak summer season.

Company News:

Hop Stuff Brewery returns to Crowdcube with £800,000 campaign for taproom estate expansion: Hop Stuff Brewery will this week return to crowdfunding platform Crowdcube for the third time as it bids to raise up to £800,000 to grow its taproom estate from three to eight sites by the end of 2019. Founder James Yeomans is offering a 1.57% equity stake in the business as it seeks to raise a minimum of £400,000, with an £800,000 upper limit. The campaign is set to go live on Friday (26 January) but 104 investors known to the business have already pledged £232,520. Hop Stuff Brewery was founded in 2013 following a crowdfunding campaign, and raised a further £750,000 on Crowdcube in 2016. It has since confirmed a new bar will open in Ashford, Kent, and moved into a new 65,000HL brewhouse in Thamesmead, south east London. Last month, the company opened its second taproom, SE8, in Deptford, south east London, and hopes to launch two more this year. Yeomans said: “This fund-raise is a huge step for the brewery. Originally we planned four taprooms. However, the response to our opening in Deptford and the news we’re opening a site in Kent created such a buzz we were keen to expand on it. Each taproom allows us to help people experience Hop Stuff Brewery in the environment we want – a friendly, social and welcoming team educating people in the crazy world of craft beer.” Hop Stuff Brewery is now forecasting revenue of £4.6m for 2018, rising to £11.1m in 2019. Yeomans added: “The driving force of this growth is in making craft beer more approachable to everyday people. The goal for Hop Stuff and the taprooms is to help people new to craft beer enjoy their journey. At each taproom we have at least 50% guest beers, ranging from the weird and wonderful to the simple and approachable, so people can enjoy different styles and flavours at their own pace!”

Des McDonald closes £3m Japanese rooftop restaurant at Birmingham hotel: Restaurateur Des McDonald has closed his £3m izakaya-style rooftop restaurant Rofuto at the Park Regis Hotel in Birmingham. The Japanese restaurant, and accompanying cocktail lounge and sake bar Kurabu, opened in April 2016 on the 16th floor of the hotel offering 360-degree views of the city’s skyline at more than 141 feet. However, the restaurant has closed because of “inconsistency in the market and fluctuation in trading”. It said on its website: “For just short of two years we’ve been shaking up Birmingham’s culinary scene but, unfortunately, we have closed our doors for the final time.” A Park Regis Hotel spokesman told the Birmingham Mail: “The rooftop restaurant has proved tremendously popular later in the week and at weekends, while busy periods earlier in the week have only tended to come from less-frequent private and corporate bookings rather than individual groups. Inconsistency and fluctuation in trade at the start of the week makes planning difficult so hotel managers are looking to change the way the restaurant operates within the context of the whole business and its dining and conferencing offer.”

Peckham pub operators launch vegan restaurant and live music concept: Parched London, the team behind The Montpelier and White Horse pubs in Peckham, has launched vegan restaurant and live music concept Wildflower and Ghost Notes. The dual operation has opened in Peckham Levels and offers vegetarian and vegan food at a venue that also focuses on south London’s thriving music scene. Wildflower offers daytime and evening menus with dishes including purple sprouting broccoli with labneh and almonds, and fried cauliflower with bramley apple, walnut and pickled onions. The weekend brunch menu takes influences from Europe, the Middle East and North Africa with dishes such as eggs with roasted pepper sauce, yogurt and flatbread, and harissa-scrambled tofu on brickhouse sourdough toast. Ghost Notes hosts the night-time music programme. Parched London operates eight London pubs in total. The other sites are The Roebuck, Edwins, and The Trinity in Borough, The Railway in Streatham, The Queen’s Head in Stockwell, and Brixton Port Authority.

Starbucks to give US staff pay rises and stock grants following tax law changes: Starbucks is giving its US staff pay rises and stock grants this year, citing recent changes to the country’s tax law. Employees will also be able to earn paid sick time, while the company’s parental leave benefits will include all non-birth parents. Starbucks said the changes, which will cost the company more than $250m, would affect about 150,000 full-time, part-time, hourly and salaried employees, most of them baristas or shop managers. The new benefits will apply to workers at more than 8,200 company-owned stores but not at its 5,700 licensed locations, such as those inside supermarkets. Starbucks is boosting pay and benefits following the passage of the Republican tax plan, which slashed the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%. Starbucks said workers would get a pay rise in April – their second increase this year – but declined to reveal figures. In the same month, the company will give Starbucks stock worth at least $500 to employees at stores, support centres or bean-roasting plants. Store managers will get $2,000 in stock grants, with the amount coming on top of what they were already due to receive. All workers will also be able to earn paid sick time off based on the hours they worked, starting in July. Previously, only those who worked in states with sick-leave laws were paid for time off due to illness.

Harcourt Inns opens second site: Harcourt Inns, the new venture from former Racine chef patron Henry Harris and James McCulloch, owner of The Harcourt in Marylebone, has opened its second site, The Coach in Clerkenwell. The pub offers dining rooms on the ground and first floors, as well as a spacious bar and garden. The menus feature Harris’ blend of French and British influences, while The Coach also offers Sunday roasts and daily specials. The drinks list focuses on France and Italy, alongside champagne from independent vineyards and cocktails. The interior design by Liana Goatman reflects the building’s heritage, with oak-panelled walls and stained-glass windows. The “bear garden” – so called because the area once hosted bear-baiting – features lights and arched mirrors, while the first-floor dining room leads to the Blue Room, which seats ten. Last month, Harcourt Inns reopened the Three Cranes in the City of London for its debut site. The company will reopen The Truscott Arms in Maida Vale in March as the Hero of Maida. McCulloch said he bought the three sites to save them from being converted into “real estate or non-descript chains”. He added: “We originally asked Henry to join as a consultant but, thanks to our mutual desire to create noteworthy pubs with exceptional dining, we invited him to become a partner.”

Pub manager looks to raise £125,000 to launch fantasy-themed gastro-bar in York with plans for five further sites: Bartender and pub manager Elliot Howden-Roberts is aiming to raise £125,000 to launch a fantasy-themed gastro-bar in York that would specialise in cocktails and local ale – eventually leading to the launch of five further sites. Howden-Roberts, who has worked in the industry for ten years, is seeking the funds via the Angel Investment Network platform, which connects angel investors with entrepreneurs. He aims to take over the former Fiesta Latina Mexican restaurant in York as a going concern and transform it into The Quest Inn before opening sites in Leeds, Lincoln, Newcastle, Sheffield and Whitby. The pitch states: “The first goal is to take over Fiesta Latina as a going concern and convert it into The Quest Inn. The offer of £125,000 (stock included) for the 100-cover restaurant has been accepted. After two years of trading we expect to be financially able to expand into a venue in Leeds. This will be sci-fi in theme and require new staff. Within the following two years we will expand to Whitby for a vampire/gothic horror theme (to maximise on the lacking Bram Stoker evening entertainment scene); Sheffield (post apocalyptic/fallout theme); Newcastle (mad scientist); and Lincoln (steampunk). Howden-Roberts forecasts a profit of £87,039 on turnover of £474,397 this year, rising to a profit of £190,678 on turnover of £681,945 in 2020 and a profit of £350,570 on turnover of £1,125,209 in 2022.

Malhotra Group reveals details of restaurant concept to launch in Newcastle: Newcastle-based pub, restaurant and hotel operator Malhotra Group has revealed details of the restaurant concept it will launch as part of its £5m redevelopment of the New Northumbria Hotel. The 100-cover El Paso restaurant will open at the site in Osborne Road, Jesmond, at the end of March, specialising in Spanish and Mexican-influenced dishes. It will also feature a private dining area. Further changes at the hotel will include 13 new apartment rooms and suites, some with a kitchen and dining area, and a new wedding suite. The reception will also undergo a full refurbishment, with the addition of a residents’ lounge and conferencing facilities. Director of operations Atul Malhotra told Chronicle Live: “We are confident El Paso will be a welcome and successful addition to Jesmond’s thriving hospitality scene.” Malhotra Group is also set to work on two Newcastle city centre leisure schemes, the largest a multimillion-pound hotel in Grey Street. Last month, the company saw total group turnover increase 6.7% to £32,178,493 compared with £30,152,727 the previous year, according to accounts filed at Companies House. Pre-tax profit fell to £4,551,390, compared with £5,209,088 the year before.

Lincoln-based cafe operator Stokes Tea & Coffee opens barista training centre: Lincoln-based cafe operator Stokes Tea & Coffee has opened a barista training centre. The centre is at The Lawn complex in Lincoln, adjacent to the company’s newly refurbished roastery, and is the first of its kind in the East Midlands. The space will be used primarily to provide bespoke barista training within the industry but Stokes will also offer courses for members of the public. The centre covers disciplines such as barista training, latte art and customer service along with general coffee and tea knowledge. The centre is able to train up to six people per session. Stokes managing director Nick Peel said: “We are excited to launch the barista training centre as a new phase of the Stokes’ coffee legacy. We have been roasting for more than 100 years and would like to help train professionals for the next century.” The centre is part of a £2m renovation of the historic Lawn complex and is accredited by the Beverage Standards Association, offering City & Guilds courses as well as Stokes’ own training courses.

Fuller’s appoints former Molson Coors chief executive as independent non-executive director: London brewer and retailer Fuller’s has appointed Peter Swinburn as an independent non-executive director with effect from 21 March. The appointment follows the retirement from the board of Alastair Kerr, who joined in July 2011. His role as chairman of the remuneration committee will be taken over by John Dunsmore. Fuller’s stated: “Peter brings more than 40 years of international brewing experience to the board, having most recently held the position of chief executive at Molson Coors Brewing Company from 2008 to 2015. He also holds a broad range of non-executive roles in the UK and the US in industries as diverse as fashion, software development and leisure.” Swinburn said: “I have known and admired Fuller’s as a business for many years and it is a pleasure to be asked to serve on its board.” Kerr added: “I have thoroughly enjoyed my six years with Fuller’s but feel the time has come for a new person to bring fresh ideas and thinking to the board. Fuller’s has an excellent management team and I shall continue to follow closely the future of this great business as a shareholder.” Chairman Michael Turner said: “I would like to thank Alastair for his hard work and dedication. His wide experience in retail has been of immense value. He has been an excellent advisor and spent much time mentoring our senior team. I am delighted to welcome Peter – he is a true industry guru and I am excited by the expertise and knowledge he brings with him. He has a wide breadth of experience in a range of other industries too, which will add further depth to our board. I think he will challenge the business and our senior team, which will help take Fuller’s on to future growth and success.”

Robin Gill relaunches Clapham restaurant as Amalfi Coast concept Sorella: Chef entrepreneur Robin Gill has relaunched his Clapham restaurant The Manor as Italian concept Sorella, focusing on “classic coastal” food. Gill, who operates Counter Culture and The Dairy, both in Clapham, has created a menu inspired by the Amalfi Coast, where he spent a considerable time learning his trade. Main dishes at the venue in Clapham Manor Street include crab linguine, gnocchi and wild mushrooms, and Pump Street chocolate with fennel gelato. The drinks list features seasonal bellinis, cherry-smoked negronis, and a house spritz alongside homemade liquors and a concise and purely Italian wine list. Gill told Hot Dinners: “My time spent working in Campania in southern Italy has probably had the biggest impression on my approach to cooking. Sorella will home in on all we love about the Italian attitude to cooking and eating.” Gill closed his only restaurant outside Clapham, Paradise Garage in Bethnal Green, in October.

Former Brindisa head chef launches Argentinian parrilla concept in Southwark: Former Brindisa head chef Nicolas Modad has launched Argentinian parrilla concept Chimichurris in Southwark, south east London. Modad has opened the parrilla – an Argentinian grill – in Southwark Bridge Road in partnership with Federico Fugazza, who runs Porteña, an Argentinian street food stall in Borough Market. They have taken over a site formerly occupied by Chilean restaurant El Vergel, whose owner has retired. Starters include grilled provolone cheese with chimichurri, peppers and mushrooms, and mollejas (sweetbread with lemon sauce). There are also traditional snacks such as empanadas with daily changing fillings, Just Opened London reports. Mains dishes include chargrilled octopus with stuffed polenta and onion salsa, alongside Argentinian sirloin and rib-eye steaks and lamb cutlets, all served with “bright, punchy sauces”. Desserts include dulce de leche, while the short drinks list features Argentinian beer.

Krispy Kreme to open stores in Windsor and Brighton: Krispy Kreme is to open a doughnut store in Windsor next month as well as launching a second site in Brighton. The Windsor venue will open in Peascod Street on Saturday, 6 February, while the Brighton store will open two days later in Churchill Square shopping centre. The new openings are part of Krispy Kreme’s expansion plans, which saw it open its 100th UK site last summer, in Nottingham. In its latest accounts, the company reported sales in the UK rose to £66,689,000 in the 11 months to 1 January 2017, up 8% on 12 months ago. Adjusted Ebitda was £14,620,000 (21.9% of sales), compared with £13,688,000 (22.2% of sales) the previous year. Pre-tax profit was £10,292,000, compared with £11,759,000 the year before.

Marston’s eyes pub restaurant and hotel in Falmouth: Marston’s is eyeing a new pub and hotel in Falmouth, Cornwall. The company has sought advice from Cornwall Council ahead of lodging plans for a 120-cover pub restaurant and 46-bedroom hotel on Ponsharden Industrial Estate. The scheme would also include a terrace, garden and 90 parking spaces. It would be Marston’s second site in Cornwall, after The Falcon in Wadebridge. The industrial site measures 1.6 acres and currently houses six units. Its freehold has been marketed for some time as having “development potential subject to planning permission”. The selling agents also said a scheme had been formerly drawn up to accommodate a restaurant and hotel on the site. Each of the six units is let on a “short-term and unprotected” basis, reports the Falmouth Packet.

Goodbody – we expect JD Wetherspoon to continue outperforming the wider market, set to upgrade forecasts: Goodbody leisure analyst Brian Devitt has said he expects JD Wetherspoon to continue outperforming the wider market and is set to upgrade forecasts. Issuing a ‘Buy’ note on the shares following the company’s second-quarter results, Devitt said: “Like-for-like sales for the period were +6%, while total sales were +4.3%. In the year to date (25 weeks to January 21), like-for-like sales were +6% and total sales +4.3%. In the year to date, the group has opened three new pubs and sold ten and intends to open circa ten pubs in the full year. It spent circa £15m on the purchase of freehold pubs, which were previously tenants, and the group has bought back £51m of shares. On outlook the statement notes that given a strong sales performance year to date, underlying profit before tax is slightly ahead of the group’s expectations. However, it is noted that a similar performance will be difficult to achieve in the second half as comparatives become tougher. Management goes on to say the group will face significant cost headwinds (as has been well-flagged at this stage) and there are uncertainties around the effects on the business from the World Cup. Nevertheless, the group expects a slightly improved trading outcome for the full year. The group expects net debt at the end of this year to be circa £30m, broadly in line with our forecasts. This reads as yet another positive trading statement from Wetherspoon. At first glance, we expect to increase our forecasts by circa 2%. A 6% like-for-like growth in quarter two is a stellar outperformance of the market which, based on the Coffer Peach Business Tracker, appears to have grown at circa 1% over that period. Wetherspoon continues to be our preferred stock in the sector and we expect its outperformance of the wider market to continue in 2018.”

Former Aspall executive launches drinks agency: Former Aspall executive David Wood has launched The Liana Collection agency, which will introduce four spirit brands and one cider to the London market. The collection consists of Devon craft cider Sandford Orchards; 30 et 40, a French calvados blended with Normandy cider; Westerhall Rum; Mòr Gin, sourced from Ireland; and Kavka, a new Polish vodka launched in collaboration with Baltic Restaurants owner Jan Woroniecki. Wood said: “I worked for Martin Miller’s Gin as the category exploded in 2013. I then worked at Camden Town Brewery and watched the craft beer scene follow suit before spending the past 18 months at Aspall, where I witnessed a number of challenger brands achieve distribution across the UK. I wanted to use my experience in the drinks industry to give a community of smaller brands a voice in London. I met more than 200 brands from a range of categories and couldn’t be happier with the five partners we work with today.” Molson Coors acquired Suffolk-based cider-maker Aspall earlier this month for an undisclosed sum.

Wirral-based restaurant Silk Rd opens second site: Wirral-based Silk Rd, the restaurant concept inspired by the Silk Road trail, has opened its second site in the city. Owners Javier Mellado and Chris Williams launched the first restaurant in Heswall last summer. Now they have opened a second site – in Beetham Plaza in the city centre. The venue offers cuisine inspired by the Silk Road trail, which runs from the Pacific to the Mediterranean. The 4,000 square foot site has capacity for 140 diners and includes a mezzanine level for private dining, an outdoor terrace with views of the city, and an in-house bar. Mellado told Click Liverpool: “The location in Beetham Plaza fits the Silk Rd concept perfectly – a hidden gem within the city reminiscent of Greece or Spain. Williams added: “Our dishes capture the authenticity of the Silk Rd trail, with organic and fresh ingredients playing a huge role in our menu. We aim to offer a true taste of Asia through to the Med.”

Young’s appoints former Scottish & Newcastle group finance head as non-executive director: London pub retailer Young’s has appointed former Scottish & Newcastle group finance director Ian Philip McHoul as a non-executive director with immediate effect. McHoul qualified as a chartered accountant with KPMG in 1984 and spent his early career in the brewing industry. In 1985 he joined Courage – subsequently acquired by Foster’s Brewing Group – where he spent ten years. He went on to become finance and strategy director of Inntrepreneur Pub Company before moving to Scottish & Newcastle, where he was finance director of Scottish Courage before being appointed group finance director. Most recently, McHoul was chief financial officer of multinational consultancy Amec Foster Wheeler and a member of its board. In a non-executive capacity, McHoul was appointed to the board of Britvic in March 2014, becoming senior independent director in September 2017. He joined the board of John Wood Group the following month after it acquired Amec Foster Wheeler. McHoul was also non-executive director of Premier Foods for nine years until 2013. Young’s chairman Stephen Goodyear said: “I am delighted Ian has agreed to join our board. He has operated at the highest level as a chief financial officer of some well-known businesses and has strong experience as a non-executive. My colleagues and I are looking forward to working with him.”

Signature Living to start work on £10m Dixie Dean Hotel in Liverpool: Signature Living, the company behind the Shankly Hotel named after former Liverpool manager Bill Shankly, is set to please Everton fans in the city after its plans to build a hotel commemorating the football club’s legendary striker Dixie Dean were approved. Work on the £10m development in Victoria Street will now begin. Signature Living also hopes to pedestrianise the area and create a boulevard of statues of Everton and Liverpool legends as part of the world’s first “football quarter”. The 100-bedroom hotel is due to open in late summer offering restaurants, bars and an events space and creating 150 jobs. Signature Living chairman Lawrence Kenwright told the Liverpool Echo: “Our vision of an iconic football quarter is another step nearer. Liverpool is steeped in footballing history. This will be an amazing tribute to our great football teams.” Dean scored 349 goals for Everton in 399 matches. In November, Signature Living lodged plans to open its first hotel in Manchester. The company is also looking to open a Belfast hotel named after the late Manchester United and Northern Ireland football star George Best.

PizzaExpress to join restaurant line-up at Rushden Lakes next month: PizzaExpress will join the restaurant line-up at the Rushden Lakes development in Northamptonshire next month. The company will open the 196-seater venue on Thursday, 8 February, creating 25 jobs. It will draw heavy inspiration from its lakeside location, bringing a mixture of “classic design with a modern twist”, reports the Northants Telegraph. PizzaExpress will join a number of operators at the complex, including Tasty-owned Wildwood, Bill’s, Foodco-owned international cafe restaurant brand Jamaica Blue and Patisserie Valerie.

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