Story of the Day:
UK hotel sector ‘approaching top end of the market’ as softening revpar growth continues, 2017 transaction volumes almost double: UK hotels saw continued softening revpar growth in the fourth quarter of the year suggesting the sector is “approaching the top end of the market” – but transaction volumes for 2017 almost doubled, according to a new report. The latest Hotel Bulletin, published by HVS, AlixPartners and AM:PM, showed more than half of the 12 cities studied recorded declining occupancy in the fourth quarter, with the other half reporting limited growth. The results demonstrate the tough trading conditions hotels faced at the end of 2017, with four cities showing a decline in revpar and only hotels in Belfast recording double-digit growth. Edinburgh was the second best-performing city in the quarter, with 7% revpar growth, while hotels in Cardiff showed a 2% increase despite a small decline in occupancy. Following five consecutive quarters of revpar growth, London’s hotels recorded a 1% decline as the pound started to strengthen against the euro and the US dollar, resulting in tourists getting less value for money. Bath recorded the worst revpar in the survey, with a 4% fall – the city’s second quarter of decline. However, this was against strong 2016 comparables, when revpar grew by 13%. The report showed 2017 transaction values totalled £4.6bn, almost double that of the previous year as “investors rushed to clear out their portfolios” before Brexit. Transaction levels have now returned to figures similar to those seen in 2014 (£4.4bn) and 2015 (£5.3 bn). Over the longer term, performance across UK hotels has steadily improved. Annual occupancy in London’s hotels has remained at about 82% during the past five years, with average room rates rising from £136 to £146 and revpar growing 9%, from £113 to £122. Regional hotels have also been strong over the past five years. Occupancy has grown from 75% to 77% and average room rates have climbed from £67 to £78. Revpar growth has outstripped inflation (9%) since 2013, showing a 21% growth from £50 to £61. HVS chairman Russell Kett said: “Taking a look at performance in the longer term demonstrates why hotels in the UK provinces have become increasingly attractive to hotel investors.”
Propel Multi Club Conference open for bookings, two free places for operators:
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. Multi-site operators of pubs, restaurants and foodservice outlets can book up to two free places by emailing Anne Steele at email@example.com
. Speakers include Tim Barrett, travel and leisure analyst at Numis
, who will examine the unprecedented current cost environment in the foodservice sector and the potential winners and losers. Ian Edward, who is leisure advisor to Canaccord Genuity and sits on the boards of Brasserie Blanc, Seafood Pub Company and Hippo Inns
, will set out his views on mergers and acquisitions trends and the ten key challenges and opportunities in the sector. Jon Collins, former chief executive of CGA Group, who has returned to the UK after living in Chicago for two years
, will contrast the US and UK markets and offer thoughts on trends and practices over there that could be ripe for adoption over here. Sarah Bridge, former Mail on Sunday leisure correspondent and founder of the aLadyofLeisure.com hospitality website
, will offer her top ten moments of hospitality, experienced on her travels in the UK and elsewhere, which could be replicated by UK operators. 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. Max Hilton Jenvey, global head of franchise for Chopstix
, which has 35 outlets, will set out how the brand has evolved since its unlikely birth at a fish and chip shop in Camden, with a focus on its rapid progress in the past two years following simplification of its cooking process, international expansion and franchising – and future plans for new concepts, a breakfast offer in transport hubs, further product development and European penetration. Alex Salussolia, managing director of Glendola Leisure
, will talk about the longevity of the company’s three-strong Waxy O’Connor’s brand, which was conceived 25 years ago and is still winning major awards, and the company’s expansion into restaurant and coffee offerings such as Bar & Beef and Gordon Street Coffee. Paul Wells, chairman of Charles Wells
, will talk about making a “sea-change” decision on strategy in selling its Bedford brewery to Marston’s, developing a managed pub estate, partnering great retailers and developing a pub estate in France. Bob Ivell, chairman of Mitchells & Butlers
, whose brand portfolio includes Miller & Carter, Harvester, All Bar One and Toby Carvery, will talk to Propel managing director Paul Charity
about progress across the company’s estate as it evolves its offer. Nick Taplin, chief executive of Black and White Hospitality, will explain how the company is developing a 50-strong franchised restaurant estate in partnership with chef Marco Pierre White, its unique brands, its USPs, partnership model and future prospects. Meanwhile, Yasha Estraikh, of Piper
, will report on the findings of an exclusive survey of UK foodservice operators, undertaken in partnership with Propel, in relation to the effects of the growth in delivery opportunities on their business.
New World Trading Company boss – more leisure businesses could benefit from private equity: New World Trading Company chief executive Chris Hill has said he believes more leisure businesses could benefit from bringing in private equity investment. The company was acquired by Graphite Capital in June 2016 for £50m with the management team, led by Hill, reinvesting alongside the private equity firm for a stake in the business. Hill told Insider Media: “We’ve had a really good time going down the private equity route but I appreciate it’s not for everyone. You’ve got to be ready to scale up and expand at a certain pace because growth is really important. But it’s a great way of getting necessary cash to get your roll-out going. And, if you can find a great private equity partner who’s had success in the past at helping businesses to grow and ultimately realise big ambitions, then go for it.” Hill said the company expected to achieve revenues “around the £50m mark” for the year to April 2018, with profits of “£5.5m to £6m”.
Fall in on-trade beer sales underlines need for business rates reform, says ALMR: The fall in on-trade beer sales underlines the need for business rates reform, the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) has said. The latest quarterly Beer Barometer from the British Beer & Pub Association showed sales in pubs and bars fell 2.4% in 2017 – the biggest drop in four years. Overall beer sales rose 0.7%. ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The beer sales upturn reflects government having listened to the united industry that lobbied on beer duty. However, the continued downturn of beer sales in pubs only emphasises the urgent need for government action to address the other prong of our campaigning – business rates. The inequitable skew of the current business rates system favours digital enterprises and punishes pubs. It’s just not compatible with successful high streets and pubs. Pubs are facing ever-increasing costs and something has to give. The government’s manifesto committed to reforming business rates and today’s figures are just the latest proof that swift action is critical.”
Steve Wynn steps down as Wynn Resorts chief executive in wake of ‘unwanted advances’ accusations: Las Vegas casino mogul Steve Wynn has stepped down as chief executive and chairman of Wynn Resorts. His resignation comes almost a fortnight after the Wall Street Journal reported Wynn had subjected women who worked for him to unwanted sexual advances – accusations Wynn denies. Wynn Resorts has appointed president Matt Maddox as its new chief executive and Boone Wayson as non-executive chairman with immediate effect. Wynn said in a statement: “In the past couple of weeks I have found myself the focus of an avalanche of negative publicity. As I have reflected on the environment this has created – one in which a rush to judgment takes precedence over everything else, including the facts – I have reached the conclusion I cannot continue to be effective in my current roles. The succession plan laid out by the board of directors, which I wholeheartedly endorse, now places Matt Maddox in the chief executive seat. With Matt, Wynn Resorts is in good hands. He and his team are well positioned to carry on the plans and vision for the company I created.” The company stated: “Wynn Resorts remains as committed as ever to upholding the highest standards and being an inclusive and supportive employer. In fact, more than 40% of all Wynn Las Vegas management is women – the highest in the gaming industry. The company will continue to fully focus on its operations at Wynn Macau, Wynn Palace and Wynn Las Vegas; the development and opening of the first phase of Wynn Paradise Park, currently under construction on the former Wynn golf course; as well as the construction of Wynn Boston Harbour, which will open in June 2019.”
Best Bar None national winners revealed: Best Bar None, the Home Office-supported community safety programme operated by pubs and bars in the UK, has revealed the winners of this year’s Best Bar None Awards. Plymouth picked up the title for best overall scheme, while Torquay was highly commended in the same category. Meanwhile, Bolton was awarded best new scheme and Sheffield took the most innovative scheme accolade. PC Natalie Dolan, of Greater Manchester Police, won the outstanding commitment award, which is presented to an individual who has shown commitment above and beyond that which is normally required to support a Best Bar None scheme. Bolton and Plymouth both have Stonegate Pub Company licensees at the forefront of the schemes. Stonegate commercial director Suzanne Baker said: “A large number of the pubs in our estate are involved with Best Bar None at a local level. It plays a very important role in reducing alcohol-related crime and creating a safer environment within the communities in which it operates. We are proud to support such an important initiative and delighted many of our pubs have won top accolades as a result of their involvement in the scheme.”
Boparan starts hunt for franchise partners to expand brands into Europe: Boparan Restaurant Group, which owns Giraffe, Ed’s Easy Diner and Harry Ramsden’s, has said it is looking to expand the brands into Europe and is seeking master franchisees or area developers. The company brought the brands together in early 2017 following a series of acquisitions, rebranding and relaunching them with new menus and designs while adding assisted service and quick-service options. Boparan Restaurant Group franchise director Brett Boyers said: “We are delighted with the success of these brands and have decided the time is right to expand further overseas. We are targeting master franchisees or area developers in Europe that have the necessary funds and experience behind them to launch these brands and replicate and build on the UK success. Europe is an exciting, growing market place with huge potential. Investment levels will vary depending on criteria such as seating capacity and range from circa £280,000 to £1.1m per unit plus a master/area developer’s fee and local training provision and marketing development costs. Last month, Boparan Restaurant Group partnered with Slim Chickens USA to bring the fast-casual, fresh chicken brand to the UK market, with a London opening scheduled for spring.
Giggling Squid plans eight openings for 2018, evolves brand: Thai restaurant group Giggling Squid, which is backed by the Business Growth Fund, has revealed it will open a further eight sites this year, taking the group to 30. Following the recent launch of its 23rd venue, in the new Saw Close development in Bath, Giggling Squid is set to open a 200-cover site in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, in early April. That will be followed in the early summer by a restaurant in Cheltenham with the site, which will have capacity for 110 diners inside and 50 outdoors, opening in the upmarket Montpellier dining district. Further confirmed sites in the immediate pipeline are a 5,500 square foot venue in Eastgate Square in Chichester, West Sussex; a 3,500 square foot site in Amenbury Lane in Harpenden, Hertfordshire; a 3,700 square foot restaurant in North Street in Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire; and a 3,000 square foot site in Thames Street, Windsor. Andy Laurillard, who owns the business with wife Pranee, said: “All our restaurants are ahead of last year apart from one – an amazing result. Recent openings have been particularly successful proving demand for our offer is stronger than ever. We look forward to bringing our fresh take on Thai food to more people as we spread our tentacles at an accelerating rate.” Giggling Squid also began evolving the brand towards the end of last year. The recently opened restaurants in Wimbledon and Bath have a refreshed design with various floral wallpapers combined with intricate stencil work and handcrafted artwork. Meanwhile, the Bath venue features two large, Thai-style aviaries that offer guests a semi-private, quirky dining experience. With bigger sites, informal versatile zones have been introduced with Bath and the upcoming Beaconsfield restaurants hosting separate bar lounges with a “bar bites” menu – a first for Giggling Squid. The company, which secured a £6.4m investment from the Business Growth Fund in 2015 to support its expansion plans, opened its first site in Brighton in 2009.
Arc Inspirations boss – casual dining market slowdown will provide us with ‘superb opportunities’ for expansion: Arc Inspirations chief executive Martin Wolstencroft has told Propel he believes the slowdown in the casual dining market will provide the company with “superb opportunities” for expansion during the next 18 months. Wolstencroft said the company, which has just secured its second Banyan Bar & Kitchen venue in Manchester, was ready to take advantage as operators looked to shed sites. He added: “There’s going to be some superb opportunities for us. The next 18 months is going to see the market levelling out, with a slowdown in openings. Companies have been paying high wages and looking to secure the best staff – paying over the odds is going to slow too. We’ve seen the problems encountered by the casual dining market and some of those businesses are going to go to the wall. What we have been about for probably the past four to five years is making sure that as well as providing great food, drink and customer service, we provide a fantastic atmosphere and experience. It means that while other operators are closing or slowing their expansion plans at present, we’re ready to take advantage. We’re like vultures hunting our prey. Existing restaurants are ideal because you only have to invest about 50% of what you need compared with a fit-out from a shell and, because the facilities are there, you can also get the sites open quicker. We’ve brought in Nik Lowry as property director as we look to continue opening four to five sites a year for the foreseeable future.” The latest Banyan Bar & Kitchen in Manchester, which the company announced earlier this week, will be in a former office block in Spinningfields. Wolstencroft said there was scope for further expansion in the city and he was looking at sites in the suburbs. He added current trading was “going very well” and the company is on course for another record year of turnover and profit.
Abokado gears up for growth with appointments: Healthy eating chain Abokado, which is backed by Kings Park Capital, is gearing up for growth as it appoints a new operations director and operations manager, promising further senior hires in 2018. The company has appointed Kara Alderin, formerly head of operations at London brewer and retailer Fuller’s, as its new operations director. She replaces Richard Zivkovic, who is leaving to pursue other interests. The company has also appointed Stuart Macnab-Grieve, formerly of Wildwood Restaurants, as operations manager and has invested further in the segment by creating two new roles that include a brand standards executive. Abokado chief executive Mark Lilley said: “Kara believes passionately in our vision and values and I’m sure she will add enormously to our business. She heads up an operations team that has seen considerable investment over the past few months, which is already translating to an improved customer experience and positive sales momentum. I’d like to thank Richard for his contribution to Abokado over the past three years. Further senior hires are planned for 2018 as we look to take advantage of a weak trading and property environment and gear up for growth.”
Inn Collection Group appoints Sean Donkin as managing director: Pub operator The Inn Collection Group has appointed Sean Donkin as managing director. Donkin has been promoted from his role as operations director after joining the business as general manager of the group’s Bamburgh Castle Inn in Seahouses in 2008. His focus will be to lead the group’s expansion within its heartland in the north east and further afield. Group founder Keith Liddell will move across from chief executive to executive deputy chairman. Donkin said he sees the group’s 250-strong workforce as a key component for growth. He will lead the roll-out of a new staff academy, which will introduce an intranet for online training and development. He said: “Having been promoted through the ranks of the company myself, developing our people to meet their full potential and enjoy long and successful careers with us is close to my heart.” The company, which is backed by Kings Park Capital, operates eight pubs with rooms. It will open The Amble Inn in Northumberland in October following a £4.2m investment, while it recently acquired properties next to The Bamburgh Castle Inn that will add 13 bedrooms to the site.
K10 opens third takeaway unit, in legals over two more sites: London-based K10, the sushi brand led by Chris Kemper and Maurice Abboudi, has opened its third takeaway unit and is in legals over another two sites. The company has launched its latest venue in Fetter Lane, Farringdon. It features the brand’s core menu alongside new items such as poké, bao buns and udon. A spokesman told Propel: “It’s the first K10 site outside the heart of the City but we have been surprised quite a few people know us already. We are in legals over another two sites but we’re not rushing into anything in this environment where we see great operators unable to cope with the margin pressures the industry is under. We are focused on serving great food and giving great service. We won’t skimp on the quality. In fact, we are doubling down on the quality and service.” Last month, K10 revealed it was looking at funding options to develop its Beer & Buns concept as it closed in on a second site.
Cabana and Rub Smokehouse & Bar shut Newcastle sites: Cabana, the Brazilian barbecue group founded by Jamie Barber and David Ponte, has closed its “unprofitable” Newcastle site. Cabana spent £1m to fit out the restaurant in the Co-op Building in Newgate Street, which became its third venture outside London and seventh in total when it opened in April 2016. A spokeswoman told Propel: “We made a significant commitment and investment in Newcastle but unfortunately the restaurant wasn’t profitable. We’re looking to assign the unit.” Meanwhile, Rub Smokehouse, which opened in The Gate in October 2016, has also closed. The company, which also has restaurants in Birmingham and Nottingham, invested a significant sum into the 150-cover venue, which no longer appears on its website. The concept is the brainchild of Luke Billingham, Sean Singer and Jason Rowe and features “huge plates” of meat smoked over hickory alongside burgers, desserts and inventions called Epicspecials such as the Burshake – a burger and beer shake with a waffle.
New World Trading Company to launch The Florist in Bristol this month: Graphite Capital-backed pub restaurant group New World Trading Company is set to launch new concept The Florist in Bristol this month. The venue will open in a grade II-listed building in Park Street that was formerly occupied by cafe, champagne bar and rooftop restaurant Goldbrick House on Monday, 26 February. The three-storey space will feature an “abundance of flowers” and rustic textures. The concept offers a cocktail menu inspired by three styles of floristry – English summer garden, ikebana and modern contemporary – alongside 60 beers. The food menu will feature deli, rotisserie and grill-inspired dishes. The Florist will also host masterclasses on cocktails, floristry, photography, gin and ale. DJs will play every evening, joined by musicians from Thursday to Sunday. New World Trading Company is looking to open a second site for The Florist, in Liverpool. The company, which also operates The Botanist, The Oast House, The Trading House and The Canal House, was acquired by Graphite Capital for £50m in June 2016.
Plant-based brand By Chloe opens Covent Garden site for first venue outside US: Plant-based brand By Chloe, which operates ten sites in the US, has opened its first site outside America, in Covent Garden. The fast casual brand has opened the restaurant in Russell Street seating 70 diners and offering a takeaway service. By Chloe has partnered with TGP International to bring the brand to the UK, Europe and the Middle East. Further sites are in the pipeline, including a venue secured at One Tower Bridge in London that is due to open soon, with partners being sought for expansion across all regions. The entirely vegan menu will include quinoa taco salad, matcha kelp noodles, and vegan mac ‘n’ cheese, alongside dairy-free ice cream, baked goods, sandwiches, salads and soup. The brand launched in New York City in 2015 and has grown to six locations in New York, one each in Los Angeles and Providence, and two in Boston, as well as a standalone bakery, Sweets By Chloe. TGP International managing director Simon Wright said: “With the brand so established in New York, we saw London as the perfect market for its expansion.” By Chloe is an operating partner of New York-based group ESquared Hospitality, which co-founded the concept with chef Chloe Coscarelli.
Franco Manca to replace Grillstock restaurant in Bath: Pizza brand Franco Manca, which is owned by Fulham Shore, is set to open a site in Bath – in place of American-style barbecue restaurant Grillstock, which has closed. Franco Manca has applied to Bath & North East Somerset Council for a premises licence for the venue in Brunel Square. Grillstock went into administration in November after owing more than £445,000 to HM Revenue & Customs and was bought out by a group of former company directors. The Bath restaurant was expected to remain open but has now shut, with some staff relocated to the company’s Bristol venue, reports the Bath Chronicle. The Grillstock branch in Bath opened in June 2014.
Nando’s signs for new Didcot shopping centre extension: Nando’s has signed to open a unit at Hammerson’s extension of the Orchard Centre in Didcot, Oxfordshire. The 2,604 square foot restaurant will form part of a new dining offer for the town centre. The £50m shopping centre expansion will deliver an additional 21 shops, seven restaurants and 325 car parking spaces. Nando’s joins other major names already signed up for the 150,000 square foot extension including Costa Coffee and Starbucks, with the first stores due to open in the spring. The expansion is part of wider plans to transform Didcot into a garden town, creating 20,000 jobs and 15,000 homes in the next 20 years. Andrew Berger-North, UK director of retail parks at Hammerson, said: “Nando’s will complement and enhance the town’s growing restaurant offer.” Nando’s has more than 1,000 restaurants across the globe, with almost 400 in the UK and Ireland. Last week, the company agreed to open a site at the Rushmere Shopping Centre in County Amargh, Northern Ireland.
Neil Rankin to open third Temper site next month, in Covent Garden: Neil Rankin is set to open a third London site for his Imbiba-backed concept Temper next month, this time in Covent Garden. Following on from his Soho and City sites, the third Temper will launch in the Mercers Walk development in Seven Dials. Whereas the debut Temper in Soho featured modern barbecue and Temper City focused on curry, the new site will turn the spotlight on pizza. The menu will offer two types of pizza cooked in a wood-fired oven and a range of ragu using game, goat and pork with gnocchi. In a Temper first, the site will also be open for breakfast, including freshly baked croissants and home-cured bacon and sausages. Continuing Rankin’s aim to eliminate factory farming from the production line, Temper will continue to work with small farms and breeders so the meat is 100% traceable. There will also be an extensive range of vermouth, The Handbook reports.
TGI Friday’s to remove plastic straws from its UK restaurants: TGI Friday’s is to remove plastic straws from its UK restaurants by Tuesday, 13 March and replace them with fully biodegradable and 100% recyclable alternatives. The company said the move is in response to staff and guest demands to reduce plastic waste and help protect the environment. Additionally, unless requested by a customer, straws will only be offered to children and those purchasing blended drinks and milkshakes. The move is part of the brand’s wider CSR strategy, which looks at ways to improve guest experience and tackle challenges across the estate, including food and plastic waste. Alyson Scott, procurement and supply chain director at TGI Friday’s UK, said: “We have a responsibility to our guests and our planet to lead the way when it comes to corporate social responsibility and set an example to others when it comes to important issues that affect us all, like plastic waste. We’re always looking at ways to make a difference and the opinion of our guests is incredibly important to us, which is why we’re proud to be taking this step in the right direction.”
St Peter’s Brewery sees 26% rise in on-trade alcohol-free beer sales during Dry January: Suffolk-based St Peter’s Brewery has said on-trade sales of its alcohol-free beer brand Without were up 26% during Dry January, with independents and freehouses seeing the biggest uptake. The range is available in Mitchells & Butlers and Vintage Inns venues nationwide, with both operators seeing increased uptake. However, the brewer said the biggest increase in sales was in independent freehouses and restaurants. Chief executive Steve Magnall said: “Dry January has been a huge success for us and has helped to increase brand awareness of our Without range. There’s growing consumer demand in pubs, bars and restaurants for high-quality alcohol-free drinks and initiatives such as the Dry January campaign prove the on-trade needs to up its game and provide a greater range of products within this category.”
Stonegate Pub Company launches Popworld Loves You campaign for fourth year: Stonegate Pub Company has launched a customer appreciation campaign for its Popworld nightclub brand for a fourth year running. In 2017, the campaign threw a surprise Popworld party for its “number one fan” in her living room, complete with fully stocked bar and DJ. The company has boosted the prize this year so there will be three winners of the Popworld House Party competition. Throughout February, VIP booths and Popworld-branded Smirnoff bottles will be up for grabs from each of the brand’s 24 sites via social media competitions, while events will range from Popworld Loves Boy/Girl Bands to a Love Heart Valentines Party. Alan Armstrong, head of marketing for Stonegate Pub Company’s Venues division, said: “Popworld is one of our most popular brands and we’re lucky to have incredibly loyal customers. We think it’s only right we give back to them and this year we’re going bigger and better.” The 25th Popworld venue will open in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, next month with “many more” openings in the pipeline. The company said the brand had seen a 94% return on investment in the past year.
Scottish hotel operators invest £1m in Loch Lomond site: Scottish hotel operators Niall and Ann Colquhoun have invested £1m to upgrade rooms, suites and restaurant facilities at the Lodge On Loch Lomond in Luss. The hotel’s major refurbishment follows a £6m refinance package that the husband-and-wife team secured from Royal Bank of Scotland. The venue offers 47 rooms, luxury suites, a health spa and restaurant Colquhoun’s, which holds two AA rosettes. The venue is also popular for weddings and can hold up to 200 guests. It offers panoramic views of Loch Lomond, while visitors have included former US presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. The Colquhouns also operate the Inn On Loch Lomond, three miles north of Luss, employing 128 staff in total. Niall Colquhoun told BQ: “Following our refurbishment, we now have a new bar and kitchen, we’ve renovated all 20 balconies in our suites and our guest rooms have also been upgraded.” Stuart Hamilton, relationship director at Royal Bank of Scotland, added: “The ambition and vision of the family has been key to the Lodge On Loch Lomond’s success.”