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Wed 1st Aug 2018 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Deliveroo urges government to give restaurants a break and simplify business rates: The government needs to simplify the business rates system to help operators, Deliveroo has said, after its research revealed tens of thousands of restaurants face above-inflation rises. About 41,000 restaurants in England paid £744m in business rates this year, with almost half (19,000) seeing above-inflation rises this year. The increases will lead to £763m being paid out in business rates next year. The survey of Deliveroo’s business partners, compiled in partnership with business rates specialist Gerald Eve, found that of those operators facing inflation-busting rises, almost two-thirds (65% or 12,000 sites) are independent or small restaurants with bills rising by up to 10.7%. Some larger restaurants have seen bills rise by as much as 36%, having already seen rates jump 44.8% last year. Next year, rates for smaller restaurants could rise by as much as 12.5%, with some larger restaurants seeing increases of more than 50%. Respondents to the survey said business rates were one of their top three concerns, with the complex appeals process a major issue. Deliveroo UK and Ireland managing director Dan Warne said: “Too many restaurants – from national chains to independent stores – tell us they are struggling with sky-high business rates that are increasingly complex. Action is needed to protect this vital sector and the jobs it supports.” Jerry Schurder, head of business rates at Gerald Eve, added: “Restaurants are currently paying business rates based on how they were trading more than three years ago, and this will continue until the next revaluation in 2021. The government needs to bring the rates system into the 21st century and make bills reflect more recent economic conditions – through more frequent revaluations and shorter delays between valuation and billing – as is common throughout many countries worldwide.” The study found the city with the most restaurants that face above-inflation business rate rises is London (4,928 sites), followed by Birmingham (459), Leicester (263) and Brighton (246).

Industry News:

BBPA calls on mayor of Hackney to reconsider new licensing policy: The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) has called on Hackney mayor Philip Glanville to reconsider new licensing rules “before it’s too late”. The rules, which are set to come into force this weekend, would restrict venues in the borough from opening past 11pm on weekdays and midnight at weekends. In a letter to Glanville, the BBPA said the borough would “change beyond recognition” under new rules that would leave pub and hospitality businesses in the area “struggling to provide an attractive and competitive offer”. The BBPA pointed out London’s 3,800 pubs directly employ more than 67,000 people, while London’s £26bn night-time economy creates one in every eight jobs in the capital. The trade body said the move also contradicted London mayor Sadiq Khan’s vision for a 24-hour London. BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “Even if the licensing hours for existing businesses in Hackney remain unchanged, local pubs will still be affected by the new licensing policy. It will sadly change the character of Hackney, as less favourable trading conditions will mean fewer pubs and hospitality businesses open in the borough, making it a less vibrant and exciting place.”

Company News:

Talks under way over possible sale of Hakkasan: Hakkasan Group’s Abu Dhabi owner is in talks to sell the restaurant and nightclub operator, according to Bloomberg. The business, which operates restaurant and nightclubs around the world, has drawn interest from Spanish dance-club operator Pacha Group and boutique investment firm Certares. Hakkasan is owned by Alliance International Investment, which is now part of Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment Co. No final decisions have been made and the talks may not lead to a sale. A March 2017 plan to bring Hakkasan into Sam Nazarian’s SBE Entertainment Group – expected to close within 60 days of SBE disclosing it was in advanced talks – fell through this year. France’s Accor SA has since entered into exclusive talks to acquire a 50% stake in SBE, which owns hotel brands including Redbury and Mondrian and restaurant chains such as Umami Burger. Meanwhile, private equity fund Trilantic, MCH Private Equity and GPF Capital agreed in February 2017 to buy a stake for an undisclosed amount in closely held Pacha Group, which runs clubs on the Spanish island of Ibiza, as well as Germany, Australia and Brazil, among others. Certares, founded in 2012, is led by veteran banker Michael Gregory O’Hara. The firm’s investment portfolio is dominated by travel and tourism assets, including stakes in American Express Global Business Travel and Travel Leaders Group.

Boston Tea Party reports turnover up, but profits down: Cafe company Boston Tea Party Group, which was founded in Bristol in 1995, has reported turnover rose to £16.7m in the year to October 2017, up from £14.9m in 2016, with sales bolstered by branch openings in Birmingham and Bristol. However, Ebitda fell from £1.05m to £823,782, while pre-tax profits dropped to £37,183 from £351,346. A statement accompanying the results hailed “another successful trading period” for Boston Tea Party. It added: “Ebitda and profit for the financial period were both impacted by the more challenging trading conditions in place during the past financial period and some internal restructuring has been necessary to strengthen the business for future growth. This restructuring and other action taken to improve profitability has yielded positive results in the new financial period. The directors are confident Boston Tea Party is a strong and sustainable brand that will continue to perform well in the next financial period and beyond.” Since its year-end, Boston Tea Party has opened a branch in Solihull and will launch in Chichester later this year, bringing its estate to 22 cafes. It has also halted the sale of single-use cups for takeaway coffee, selling reusable cups at cost. However sales have taken a hit, with takeaway sales down 24% in the first month of its current financial year compared with 12 months ago. Sam Roberts, owner and managing director, said: “We always knew we would see a drop in takeaway coffee sales with the ban – being the first to make the move means if customers choose not to get behind it there are still plenty of competitors using disposable cups. We did this because it’s the right thing to do, not the easy option. This is the start of the story for us. We’ve had calls from cafes and coffee chains asking us to guide them through a ban, and that is the real success story here. We can’t solve this problem on our own. We’re on the hunt for organisations, however big or small, to help this campaign gather momentum.”

Soho House to open Spanish coastal retreat: Soho House is to open a beach-side hotel on Monday, 6 August. Called the Little Beach House Barcelona, it is located in Garraf. The small fishing village is 30 minutes away from Barcelona by car. The hotel is in a 1950s-style building, with 17 bedrooms facing the bay, a Cowshed spa, a Mediterranean restaurant and a bar with a view. The entire hotel is also decorated with vintage pieces salvaged from the surrounding area.

Holiday park operator Coppergreen doubles portfolio following £10m BGF investment: UK holiday park operator Coppergreen has acquired Kenwick Park in Lincolnshire and Clumber Park in Nottinghamshire, doubling the size of its portfolio. The deals follow a further £10m investment of growth capital by Business Growth Fund (BGF), while HSBC has provided £15.3m towards the purchases and general group capital expenditure. The latest funding takes BGF’s total investment in Coppergreen to £21m. Coppergreen, led by founders David and Donna Copley, specialises in holiday lodge parks and also owns and operates Woodland Lakes in North Yorkshire and Piperdam Golf & Leisure Resort in Scotland. Kenwick Park is in the Lincolnshire Wolds and offers 90 lodges and a 34-bedroom hotel and spa. Clumber Park, near Worksop, has planning permission for 129 lodges and a shop, gym, swimming pool, restaurant and reception. Development of the park will begin immediately and create 120 jobs. David Copley said: “Kenwick Park and Clumber Park are fantastic additions to the group and fit perfectly with our mission to provide visitors with quality accommodation in some of the most beautiful settings in the UK. BGF’s first investment was instrumental in the first phase of our expansion, and the new investment enables us to continue our growth plans at pace.”

Starbucks opens first standalone Princi in the US: Starbucks has opened the first standalone Princi bakery in the US. The venue has launched in downtown Seattle, on the corner of Westlake at 9th Avenue. Starbucks became an investor in the Italian Princi brand, founded in Milan, in 2016. “When you first walk into a Princi bakery you’re suddenly hit by the energy, the theatre, the smell,” said Christian Davies, Starbucks vice-president, creative global design and innovation. “Your first impression is the abundance and seduction of food. That’s what we’re trying to create with a distinctly Italian look and feel to bring that passion to life.” The new store features the full Princi menu of artisan baked goods, starting at breakfast with steel-cut oats with Italian jam, baked eggs in a spicy tomato sauce, and cornetti sandwiches made with prosciutto cotto and fontina. At lunchtime, the menu offers soup, salads, focaccia sandwiches, pizza and hot entrees. Afternoons expand to a wider selection of Italian cakes, tarts and other desserts. Starbucks Reserve Princi Blend is the signature coffee offering, along with espresso beverages made on a manual espresso machine.

BrewDog to open first international brewpub next week as it makes South Korea debut: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog is to launch its debut site in South Korea next week, which will be the company’s first international Outpost (brewpub). The venue will open in Seoul’s Itaewon neighbourhood on Friday, 10 August. The company stated in its blog: “Since we opened BrewDog Roppongi in Tokyo four years ago, the craft beer scene in Asia has exploded – and one of its new centres is Seoul. We are heading for the region of the Korean capital renowned for its nightlife and eating options from around the world. BrewDog Itaewon will pour from 25 taps of craft beer, featuring beers from ourselves and local Korean breweries. The main thing we are excited about is the ten-hectolitre brewkit. Following hot on the heels of our first ever Outpost at Tower Hill in London, we are planting a flag for freshly brewed craft beer in Seoul. Brewer SJ Min will be on hand to turn out a selection of super-fresh exclusive beers for the bar. BrewDog Itaewon will also serve a range of Korean dishes as well as our legendary pizza, burger and wings menu. The bar also has a large external area of seating.” Last week, BrewDog opened its 37th UK bar and 70th worldwide, in Milton Keynes.

Food supplier reports turnover nears £100m: Turnover has jumped towards the £100m mark at Holdsworth Foods, which supplies thousands of products to restaurants, bars and catering companies across the UK. The company, which is headquartered in Tideswell, Derbyshire, has reported a turnover of £95.6m for the year to 28 February 2018, a rise from £87.8m during the prior 12 months. The accounts for Holdsworth Holdings also revealed the company’s pre-tax profits dipped slightly from £3.7m to £3.3m during the same period. The family-owned business was founded by chairman Michael Holdsworth in 1969 and employs more than 400 staff at depots in Derbyshire, Lincolnshire, Worcestershire, Bedford, Essex and Powys. A statement in Companies House accounts said: “Our overall performance this year has been very good and achieved through continued investment in the business. Sales have increased again by 9% and our gross profit has risen 8%, mainly due to more strategic buying activities.”

Harbour Hotels buys two Cornish hotels out of administration: Harbour Hotels has acquired two four-star hotels in Cornwall out of administration. The Metropole Hotel in Padstow and the Fowey Hotel in Fowey were brought to market following the administration of Richardson Hotels and Fowey Hotel, part of the Richardson Group hotel chain. Harbour Hotels bought them off a guide price of £10m and £5.5m respectively. The Metropole Hotel is on a 1.5-acre site on the banks of the Camel Estuary. It offers 58 en-suite rooms and a brasserie, bar and restaurant. The Fowey was Richardson Hotels’ flagship site and overlooks the Fowey Estuary with 37 en-suite rooms, a bar and restaurant. Harbour Hotels operates 14 other venues in the south of England. Managing director Mike Warren said: “We are excited to take the Harbour brand further into Cornwall. Fowey and Padstow are popular, well-known locations making the hotels great acquisitions. We are really excited to have the group expand across the West Country.” Ed Jefferson, from the hotels team at Colliers International, which brokered the deal, added: “We experienced unprecedented demand for these assets. The region is on the map for top-level hoteliers and, as a result of this process, we are looking for alternative acquisitions for a number of under-bidders.” The two remaining hotels from the Richardson Hotels and Fowey Hotel portfolio – the Falmouth Hotel and Grand Hotel in Torquay – continue to trade on a business-as-usual basis.

Shonhan to launch flagship Flesh & Buns site, in Fitzrovia next month: Ross Shonhan, founder of Japanese ramen bar concept Bone Daddies, is to open a second site for his bao bun concept Flesh & Buns, in Fitzrovia next month. Shonhan will launch the venue in Berners Street on Friday, 21 September. It will differ from the original Flesh & Buns in Covent Garden by exploring Nikkei Peruvian cuisine and drinks inspired by Shonhan and his team’s recent research trips to Peru. The venue will feature a wood-smoker for smoked meat dishes, while Shonhan has worked closely with local fisherman to source fish that are normally shipped to other countries instead of being consumed in the UK. Guests will also be able to push a button at their table to summon the Peruvian Pisco Sour trolley. The 170-cover restaurant will be divided into three sections, while there will be an open kitchen with counter dining for 22 customers and a semi-private dining room seating 18. Shonhan said: “We were the first dedicated bao restaurant to open in London. It was met with a mixture of surprise, intrigue and interest and I vowed I would never open another one! Half a decade later, we have a fantastically loyal following and my wounds have healed. We refurbished Flesh & Buns Covent Garden last year to begin to separate the Flesh & Buns brand from the ramen bars. Fitzrovia will be its flagship.” Shonhan operates six Bone Daddies as well as Asian fusion restaurant Shackfuyu in Soho.

St Andrews Brewing Company gets go-ahead to launch taproom: Craft brewer St Andrews Brewing Company, which hit its £400,000 target on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube last week, has got the go-ahead from Fife Council to expand its brewery to include a taproom. The company, owned by Philip Mackey and Tim Butler, is offering 5.06% equity in return for the investment. So far it has raised £486,830 from 428 investors and the campaign is “overfunding” with 15 days remaining. Mackey wrote on Crowdcube: “It is great we have been granted a licence for the brewery by Fife Council. This means we now have an honest to goodness taproom to add to the list of places where you can buy our beer. It also means we can positively respond to the numerous requests we receive each year for brewery tours. The licence also gives us greater scope for online sales so this will give a great boost to our revenues.” St Andrews Brewing Company plans to put funds raised towards the cost of its new venue in Dundee – Caird Hall – as it adds to its pubs in St Andrews and Edinburgh. 

Kent boutique hotel comes to market: A boutique hotel and wedding venue in Kent has been brought to market. Agent Christie & Co is marketing Little Silver Country Hotel in St Michaels, near Tenterden. Little Silver Country Hotel occupies a Tudor-style detached property built as a house in 1935. The building was converted into a hotel during the 1980s and now has 16 en-suite guest bedrooms. Christie & Co director Andrew Moore, who is handling the sale, said: “Little Silver Country Hotel presents an excellent opportunity, ideally suited for an experienced operator or a first timer looking for a lifestyle change.” Christie & Co is seeking an asking price of £2,750,000 for the freehold interest of the hotel.

Gunpowder to open Tower Bridge site this month: Harneet and Devina Baweja, the restaurateurs behind home-style Indian kitchen Gunpowder, will launch a second site for their concept this month. Gunpowder will open on Sunday, 15 August at the One Tower Bridge development and feature bakery and wine bar concept Custard. Gunpowder will be a 60-cover, Calcutta-inspired restaurant with dishes such as Madras-style chicken lollipop and Bengali fish fingers with crisps. Custard will open soon on the ground floor as a 40-cover bakery by day specialising in savouries, pastries and sandwiches from across the Indian subcontinent alongside coffee by Ozone Coffee Roasters. Custard will transform into a wine bar in the evening. Harneet Baweja told Hot Dinners: “We have got a great location at Tower Bridge and I want to recreate the relaxed atmosphere of the old coffee houses of Kolkata.” Last week, the Bawejas announced the closure of their Himalayan concept Madame D’s, and Raj-influenced Gul and Sepoy, both in Shoreditch, to focus on Gunpowder.

Casual Dining Group closes Cafe Rouge in Newcastle: Casual Dining Group has closed its Cafe Rouge site in Newcastle. The restaurant opened on the ground floor of grade II-listed Gainsborough House six years ago, becoming a popular addition to the growing dining scene in Grey Street. A note beside the front entrance states: “We’d like to say a big thank you for your custom over the years. Au revoir!” The note also directs diners to Casual Dining Group’s three Bella Italia restaurants in the city. A Cafe Rouge spokesman told Propel: “After careful deliberation we have taken the decision to accept an offer on our site in Newcastle. We would like to thank our team and guests who have supported us. We are currently looking at other possible locations in Newcastle and hope to find an alternative site that can suit the all-day trading nature of Cafe Rouge.” It is understood the company has redeployed the majority of the Newcastle team to its other local restaurants and is confident remaining staff will be offered alternative opportunities ahead of the planned handover of the site. Last month, Casual Dining Group announced a new cash investment of £30m to fund growth opportunities as part of refinancing.

YO! Sushi launches six summer specials: YO! Sushi has launched six summer specials across its UK estate. The new dishes include four salads – salmon and orange ponzu, smashed cucumber, chicken and tangerine, and Asian noodle – plus YO! Sushi’s take on a summer roll featuring fresh vegetables, vermicelli noodles, pineapple and avocado. Each dish is between 40 and 207 calories, while there is also a new dessert – Mango Passion Pot from Freaks of Nature – a vegan pudding topped with cashew nut posset. The summer specials are available nationwide until mid-September.

Inception Group opens fourth Mister Fogg’s Collection site, in Fitzrovia: Bar and nightclub operator Inception Group has opened a fourth site for its Mr Fogg’s Collection brand. The company has launched Mr Fogg’s House Of Botanicals in Newman Street, Fitzrovia. The venue takes guests on a sensory journey to an “enchanted land of plants, herbs and spices”. Downstairs features a seating area with plants and a handmade oak wooden bar, while the cocktail list uses Amazonian plants, leaves and spices. Upstairs offers a more “intimate cocktail experience”. The food menu includes confit chicken and pine nut croquettes with roasted chicken gravy and chives. Co-founder Charlie Gilkes said: “It has been five years since we opened our first Mr Fogg’s and we’re thrilled to add a fourth venue to the collection.” Inception Group was founded in 2009 by Gilkes and Duncan Stirling and operates ten venues across the capital. There are two Fogg’s sites in Covent Garden and one in Mayfair, while the company is planning two further venues – Mrs Fogg’s in Broadgate Circus, which will be its first foray into the City, and Mr Fogg’s Society Of Exploration, just off the Strand.

Waterside dining destination plan for Lowry Outlet: A multimillion-pound scheme to turn the Lowry Outlet in Salford into a waterside dining destination have been revealed by Lifestyle Outlets. The Watergardens dining concept has been designed by architects Chapman Taylor to maximise the waterfront location. In addition, a new waterfront promenade, improved public realm and integrated planting along the canal would connect the Millennium Bridge to the Outlet Mall, creating a landscaped waterside location. The Watergardens would incorporate principles designed to “strengthen the connection between natural elements and the man-made environment”. Lifestyle Outlets, which is part of The Peel Group, has already invested heavily in the Lowry Outlet since it acquired the site and plans to invest a further £26m that would secure more than 1,900 jobs. Lifestyle Outlets managing director Jason Pullen said: “The redevelopment will transform the southern waterside of the Lowry Outlet, allowing people to relax and dine with some of the finest waterfront views. When the work is complete, the Lowry Outlet will be a unique shopping and leisure destination that will draw people from across the region to Salford Quays and MediaCityUK.” Prior to submitting a planning application to Salford City Council, Lifestyle Outlets will showcase its plans at a public consultation on Saturday (4 August).

Lundenwic team to launch Spitalfields cafe concept this month: Dominic Hamdy and Oliver Hiam, founders of Aldwych speciality coffee shop Lundenwic and Borough Market-based scotch egg company Scotchtails, are to launch cafe concept Crispin in Spitalfields this month. The cafe will open in White’s Row on Monday, 20 August offering breakfast through to dinner alongside wine and classic cocktails. Located in a purpose-built zinc and glass pavilion next to Spitalfields Market, the cafe will offer 40 covers inside and 30 on a terrace. Coffee will come from Brixton-based Assembly, while Fernando Berry, of Otros Vinos, will create a rotating wine list with an emphasis on natural and low intervention bottles. Food will change seasonally and showcase local produce. Hiam, who owns record label Tessellate, will curate the playlist at Crispin’s “listening bar”, which will allow customers to listen to his record collection through one of seven pairs of headphones. A retail unit will sell magazines, cookbooks, limited edition prints and handmade ceramics.

Greenland appoints Bruce Gillingham Pollard as joint leasing agent for Ram Brewery development: Greenland (UK) Investment has appointed Bruce Gillingham Pollard as joint leasing agent alongside CBRE to market more than 70,000 square feet of new retail and restaurant space at its Ram Quarter development in Wandsworth, south London. Greenland, part of Shanghai-based Greenland Group, is regenerating Young’s former Ram Brewery in the town centre to provide retail and leisure space alongside more than 700 homes. The scheme includes retail and restaurant units within the converted brewery buildings set around a main square. Work has been completed on 17,000 square feet of flexible restaurant space with riverside terraces. Greenland UK managing director Taotao Song said: “The transformation of the Ram Brewery site is opening exciting opportunities for Wandsworth. Our focus will be on providing premium brands and independent operators to complement the existing retail offer at Southside shopping centre and along Garratt Lane.” Bruce Gillingham Pollard director Woody Bruce added: “We look forward to working alongside CBRE to help bring Greenland’s vision to life and attract bespoke and exciting brands to this prestigious location.”

Soho restaurateurs launch Leicestershire brewery: Luke Wilson and Cameron Emirali, who operate Soho restaurant 10 Greek Street, have launched a brewery in Leicestershire. They have partnered with Nick Trower, founder of craft beer distributor Biercraft, and Stephan Michel, owner of Mahr’s Bräu brewery in Germany, to launch Braybrooke Beer Co in a former grain-drying store on a Market Harborough farm. The first product from head brewer Mario Canestrelli will be Braybrooke Keller Lager, an unfiltered and unpasteurised amber lager brewed using German malt and hops. The lager will be initially available at 10 Greek Street and to the on and off-trade through Biercraft.

Stonegate Pub Company launches Slug and Lettuce summer menu: Stonegate Pub Company has launched a summer menu for its Slug and Lettuce brand. Additions include small plates such as duck steam buns and chicken and chorizo croquettes, while a “less than 600 calorie” section includes vegetable beetroot linguine, and rump streak and superfood salad. New sharing dishes include Chicken Feast With Friends, while the cocktail menu has been updated and includes a “Sober Scene” section for those looking for less alcohol. Slug and Lettuce head of marketing Samantha Maynard said: “Whether it be a drink after work, celebratory lunch or an afternoon tea with your mum, we are proud to offer an accessible menu to cater for all visits.” Stonegate Pub Company operates 692 pubs split into two divisions – Branded (Slug and Lettuce, Yates’s, Walkabout, Common Room and Venues) and Traditional (Proper Pubs, Town Pub & Kitchen, and Classic Inns).

Kopparberg to launch ‘mountain’ experience: Swedish cider-maker Kopparberg is to launch a “mountain” experience in London. KopparMountain will appear at Mudchute Park And Farm in London’s Docklands from 15 to 18 August as part of the brand’s £6m Outside Is Ours marketing campaign. Modelled on a mountain in the Swedish town of Kopparberg, the four-storey KopparMountain will offer five immersive experiences, from a mountain stream with stepping stones and summer meadow to a rocky mountain tundra and summit with snow. A slide will run from the summit to a party inside. Marketing manager Rob Salvesen said: “Kopparberg literally means ‘copper mountain’ so we are building one! It’s important for us to be able to say thank you to the pub and bar industry for their ongoing support.”

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