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Tue 7th Aug 2018 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Benito’s Hat aims to double company estate following £1m investment, opportunity to add ‘significant numbers’ through franchising: Michael Pearson, managing director of Mexican restaurant brand Benito’s Hat, has told Propel he expects to double its eight-strong company-owned estate over the next three years. He added there were opportunities to add “significant numbers” through franchising after the business secured £1m to fuel growth. Pearson said the expansion would be through larger restaurants and its new smaller-format model, which had been tested outside the capital with openings at the Westgate Centre in Oxford and Highcross shopping centre in Leicester. The company has secured a site at the O2 in London, which will open in the first quarter of 2019, while it is in negotiations over another site at an undisclosed location in the Home Counties. Pearson said: “I hope we will open three or four of our own sites next year and would like to double the number of company sites by the end of the period. We are being flooded with offers from landlords. Some are offering reverse premiums for sites that have been empty for a while and are keen to get a decent brand in. I think much of our growth will come on the high street and in travel hubs.” The company is also looking to expand through franchising in the UK and overseas and Pearson said the company was already in discussions with one major franchise operator that could take Benito’s Hat into markets it “cannot penetrate itself”. He added: “One of our directors is Peter Dickson, who is behind Shakeaway’s growth through franchising, so we plan to grow on his coat-tails. It’s too early to talk about exact figures but there are significant numbers for us to be had via that route.” He added: “We have a model we feel is holding its own in difficult market conditions. We’re confident it works and not just in London.” Pearson said the £1m raised, the majority of which comes from private equity investment firm Calculus Capital, was enough to support its current plans. He added: “Having Calculus backing us is very comforting. I was brought into the business last year to prepare it for growth and this investment allows us to move forward.”

Industry News:

Nominations for 2018 Dusk ‘til Dawn, the bar and nightclub sector awards, now open: Nominations for the 2018 UKHospitality Dusk ‘til Dawn Late Night Awards, the annual celebration of the UK’s late-night hospitality sector, are now open. The eight categories in which the awards will recognise the best in the dynamic late night sector are: Best Late Night Food; Best Late Night Drink; Best Late Night Entertainment; Best Service and Team Development; Best Marketing and Promotions; Best Late Night Bar; Best Late Night Club and Best Late Night Company. The awards will be handed out at the annual Dusk ‘til Dawn event on Monday, 8 October at Café de Paris, which will follow the Bar and Nightclub Conference held at BAFTA in Piccadilly Circus in association with Propel. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The Dusk ‘til Dawn awards are a fantastic celebration of a vibrant and exciting sector, and we are pleased to bring them to Café de Paris for the fourth consecutive year. The quality of nominations in recent years has been extremely high and I am looking forward to this year’s competition immensely. Late-night venues are some of the most important assets of town and city centres across the UK and the evening is a celebration of the vital work they do. The nominations are open to UKHospitality members and non-members and we are encouraging businesses to get involved and celebrate the venues that contribute so much culturally and economically.” Nominations can be made online until Wednesday, 12 September by clicking here

Most Michelin-starred chef Joël Robuchon dies aged 73: Joël Robuchon, who is credited with winning the most Michelin stars in the world, has died aged 73. Robuchon died from cancer on Monday (6 August) in Switzerland, Le Figaro reports, more than a year after being treated for a pancreatic tumour. Named “chef of the century” by restaurant guide Gault Millau in 1989, Robuchon operated 12 restaurants across three continents. Throughout his career he was awarded 32 Michelin stars and owned restaurants in cities across the globe, including L’Atelier in Covent Garden and others in Tokyo, Bangkok, Shanghai, Monaco and Las Vegas. Robuchon made a name for himself at his Paris restaurant, Jamin, in the early 1980s. He was renowned for using as few ingredients as possible, keeping preparation simple and moving away from the excesses of French nouvelle cuisine. Robuchon hosted several cooking shows on French television and was official chef of the Euro 2016 football tournament, hosted by France. French government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux tweeted that Robuchon was a “visionary leader” who would continue to “inspire a young generation of chefs”

Company News:

The Know Group reveals plans to expand Piri-Piri Express across UK through franchise model: Liverpool-based The Know Group has revealed plans to expand recently acquired Portuguese fast casual chain Piri-Piri Express across the UK via a franchise model. The most recent opening saw the chain launch in Smithdown Road, Allerton, which has become its flagship outlet. Founder Paulo Alves told The Business Desk: “It is incredible to witness the growth my company is undergoing, having started out more than ten years ago armed with my mother’s piri-piri recipe and little idea what the future held. Now, with three restaurants open and more to come, it’s an exciting time for the business. The Smithdown Road branch will act as a training site for franchisees. I’m grateful The Know Group and people of Liverpool have such belief in my vision.” The Smithdown Road restaurant opened with a brand refresh, unveiling a new logo, menu and uniforms. This is set to be rolled out across the Aintree and Maghull sites and will set the tone for each new opening. The Know Group chief executive Steven Hesketh said: “We look forward to continuing growth throughout the north west and on a national scale. The authenticity of the food is what makes the restaurant unique. Paulo makes all the sauces, marinades and seasonings himself from scratch, and we’re keen to keep that at the heart of the offering, regardless of how many franchises open.” The Know Group is undergoing a period of rapid expansion with its collection including The Richmond Hotel, two Love Thy Neighbour restaurants in Liverpool and Chorlton, The Townhouse Hotel and 1699 Brasserie in Chester, and recently opened “poshtel” Sleep Eat Love in Hatton Gardens. The company also plans to launch a hospitality training academy at a landmark Merseyside site.  

Boxpark confirms bid to revive Brighton beachfront: Boxpark has confirmed the company proposes to revive the beachfront at founder and chief executive Roger Wade’s home city of Brighton and Hove, as revealed by Propel on Thursday (2 August). The company has submitted plans to Brighton and Hove City Council in a bid to secure a 12-month exclusivity period to explore design, funding and management opportunities for the regeneration project, which would restore the crumbling Victorian architecture of Madeira Terrace. The project aims to create a “world-class retail and leisure development, incorporating a new premium hotel operator”. The development would see the arches augmented with a new building and urban green spaces that would aim to substantially increase commercial performance in the area. Wade has developed the plans with Paul Nicholson, of Brighton-based Chalk Architecture, with development partners including agent Morgan Williams. Wade said: “As a Brighton and Hove resident, I’m passionate about the regeneration of our outstanding seafront. Madeira Terrace is the embodiment of the Victorian grandeur that saw Brighton become the UK’s favourite seaside destination. Our proposal aims to redevelop this much-loved area to create a year-round retail and leisure destination to be enjoyed by residents and visitors alike. We look forward to the opportunity to work with Brighton & Hove City Council, local stakeholders and businesses, and our development partners over the next 12 months to explore how we bring the Boxpark concept to Brighton while retaining the architecture and heritage our seafront is synonymous with.” Morgan Williams development investment advisor Paul Williams added: “Boxpark’s innovative and refreshing approach to the retail and leisure sectors will be a perfect match for this potentially iconic development. I have absolute confidence we will secure strong investor interest from a wide range of UK institutions, property companies and international investors, including sovereign wealth funds, many of whom may normally be constrained to investing in London.” Boxpark, whose chairman is Charles Dunstone, will launch its third eponymous site in Wembley at the end of the year.

Richoux Group makes first acquisition for The Broadwick format: Richoux Group has made the first acquisition for its The Broadwick format. The company launched the concept earlier this year by converting its Richoux site in Chislehurst and its Zipper restaurant in Chatham, Kent. Now it has acquired its first sites for the brand. The restaurant in Maidenhead, Berkshire, is in a former Prezzo unit in Bridge Street. A fourth outlet is set to follow in Radlett, Hertfordshire, with a new site “opening soon” in Watling Street, according to its website. The Broadwick is described as a restaurant and bar offering “popular global food made on the premises”. Portions are “hearty” and the drink offer “extensive”. The restaurant designs are “bright, vibrant and individual”. At its year-end results in May, the company said the early signs of the new format were “encouraging”.

Indoor climbing business secures private equity backing for roll out: An indoor climbing business with three sites across the country has been backed by private equity firm NVM. The Climbing Hangar (TCH) was founded in 2010 in Liverpool and also has sites in London and Plymouth. It targets climbers and non-climbers looking for a sociable way to keep fit. The investment from NVM Private Equity will allow TCH to roll out its brand ahead of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, when it expects interest in the sport to increase. TCH founder Ged Macdomhnaill told Insider Media: “I am delighted to partner with NVM to deliver our vision of social climbing. It has taken time to get under the skin of the business and understand how important our culture is for success. With the support they have shown so far, I’m confident this will be a brilliant venture.” NVM investment director Liam May added: “TCH has built a strong, vibrant and recognisable brand and is well placed to capitalise on the growth of bouldering and the alternative leisure market. TCH has some exciting plans and NVM looks forward to supporting Ged and the team as the business continues to grow.”

Arc Inspirations to launch £1.4m experiential Box site in Leeds as concept evolves: Arc Inspirations, the Leeds-based operator of a number of fast-growing brands, is to launch a £1.4m experiential site for its The Box concept in the city next month. The two-storey site, which will take the group’s portfolio of bars to 18, will open in the city centre close to its Banyan Bar & Kitchen and Manahatta sites. It will be the second Box site in Leeds, joining the bar in Headingley. The company said the new site would show how the concept had “significantly evolved”. The Box will include two full-size shuffleboard tables, a 40-seat electronic dartboard area called The Strong Room, and widescreen televisions screening sports. An “apres ski” band will feature regularly in the upstairs bar with DJs on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. The Vault – a private bar seating 60 – and The Strong Room will be available for private bookings. The food menu will feature Neapolitan pizza, premium burgers and bubble waffles. To drive midweek lunch trade, Arc has created a “Box Grab ‘n’ Go” concept, while the bar will feature Leeds’ first Budvar tank beer alongside draught lager and Yorkshire craft beer and cider. Arc Inspirations chief executive Martin Wolstencroft said: “We have put considerable time, effort and investment in creating an experiential space that offers a little something for everyone. We’ve really focused on doing things a bit differently, with the aim of creating memorable experiences and moments that will drive footfall and loyalty throughout the year. Quality, consistency and speed of service are key features of this evolved food and drink offer. Yes, pizza and burgers are a well-trodden path but we have spent considerable time fine tuning these menu items and we’re delighted with the results. We’re an ambitious company that is confident in our brands and hungry to grow.” Last week, Arc Inspirations announced a new senior debt deal with banking partner Santander that will double funding to almost £7m to enable expansion. 

Fever-Tree founders to sell two million shares: Fever-Tree founders Charles Rolls and Tim Warrillow have announced plans to sell about two million shares in the company, split evenly. The company stated: “Fever-Tree announces it has been advised by Charles Rolls and Tim Warrillow, the company’s founders and its non-executive deputy chairman and chief executive respectively, that in response to institutional demand they intend to sell about 2,000,000 ordinary shares in the company via an accelerated book-build placing to institutional investors. The placing shares represent about 1.7% of the issued share capital of Fever-Tree. In order to partially source some of the placing shares, Charles Rolls intends to exercise options over 275,820 ordinary shares at an exercise price of £1.34 per ordinary share and Tim Warrillow intends to exercise options over 275,820 ordinary shares at an exercise price of £1.34 per ordinary share. Assuming all the placing shares are sold, Charles Rolls would continue to have an interest in 9,203,325 ordinary shares in the company, representing about 8.0% of the company’s issued share capital. Tim Warrillow would continue to have an interest in 5,460,172 ordinary shares in the company, representing approximately 4.7% of the company’s issued share capital.”

Jewish soul food trader Monty’s Deli launches £150,000 crowdfunding campaign for roll-out: Jewish soul food trader Monty’s Deli has launched a £150,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to roll out sites in a number of new indoor food markets across the UK. Mark Ogus and Owen Barratt, who launched the concept as a market stall in 2012, raised £50,000 in late 2016 on crowdfunding platform Kickstarter to open the first bricks and mortar site, at a former bakery in Hoxton Street, Hackney. They have since opened a second site – in the new “Kitchens” development at Old Spitalfields Market. Now Monty’s, which is named after Ogus’ grandfather, is planning further expansion and has launched the new fund-raise, offering 9.68% equity in return for investment. The company stated: “The idea was to give London something it had been lacking for a long time – a real ‘kosher-style’ Jewish deli, where the meat and mustard, bread and pastries are all made on-site. This place would hold all the secret recipes that make a great deli. We call this ‘Jewish soul food’ because, in essence, soul food is all about roots.” Ogus said: “Our experience in markets is proven and our love for the food we make unrivalled. We have spent years perfecting recipes and we now have a year under our belts as restaurateurs. The stage is set for us to roll out Monty’s Deli across London.”

Giggling Squid to open 28th site, in Kingston next month: Thai restaurant group Giggling Squid, which is backed by the Business Growth Fund, is to open its 28th site, in Kingston-upon-Thames next month. The 120-cover venue will launch in High Street on Sunday, 16 September and offer takeaway and delivery options. Although the brand has been growing rapidly, the new venue in Zone 6 will be only Giggling Squid’s second London site, having opened in Wimbledon last year. Last month the company opened a restaurant in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, while its website lists sites in Bishop’s Stortford and Harpenden as “coming soon”. The company, which secured a £6.4m investment from the Business Growth Fund in 2015 to support expansion plans, opened its first site in Brighton in 2009.

Hog & Hedge secures first in-town site, in Newbury, as it looks to expand across the south: Coffee and fresh food brand Hog & Hedge has secured its first in-town site, in Newbury. The company has agreed a new ten-year lease on a 2,418 square foot (224 square metre) store in Northbrook Street. Hog & Hedge opened its first venue at Whiddon Down Services in Devon in 2014. The brand offers barista-quality coffee and homemade food. The letting in Newbury is part of a wider expansion into the south of England. Located next to Marks & Spencer, the store is in the heart of the Berkshire market town. Nicola Pring, of the retail team at Savills, which brokered the deal, said: “We are delighted to have secured Hog & Hedge as the new tenants at 21 Northbrook Street. This store will be its first in a town centre and marks an exciting new chapter for the company and its expansion in the south west.” Hog & Hedge was advised by David England, of commercial property advisor Ashwell Rogers, and is seeking similar locations in comparable towns and cities in the south of England. England said: “I believe Hog & Hedge’s class-leading operation and high-quality shop fit will raise the bar in the cafe restaurant sector.”

Albert Adrià to launch all-dessert restaurant in Soho for first permanent site outside Spain: Albert Adrià, known as the “world’s best pastry chef”, is to launch all-dessert restaurant Cakes and Bubbles in Soho. The venue will open in Hotel Cafe Royal in Air Street in November and be Adrià’s first permanent restaurant outside Spain. The menu will include a renowned cheesecake from his Barcelona restaurant Tickets alongside egg flan with dark caramel, pineapple fruit cake with palm honey, and chocolate ninoyoyaki cake balls. The bubbles side of the concept will come from the Champagne and sparkling wine that will be available by glass or bottle. Adrià told Hot Dinners: “It’s a project that excites me as a pastry chef. I’ve never opened anything specifically related to the sweet world. Our approach and menu will be a cross between the classical and contemporary. With meat and fish there are restrictions but pastry is a blank canvas – the possibilities are endless.” Adrià, who was voted world’s best pastry chef by The World’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2015, started work at his brother Ferran’s El Bulli restaurant in Girona, Spain, aged 15. In May, the Adriàs announced they would debut in the US after signing for José Andrés’ Spanish food hall, Mercado Little Spain, which is set to open at Hudson Yards, New York, next year. The three chefs have eight Michelin stars between them. Albert Adrià operates five restaurants in Barcelona.

Loch Lomond Brewery closes crowdfunding campaign after raising almost £555,000: Loch Lomond Brewery has closed its campaign on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube after raising almost £555,000 to double production and bring packaging in-house. Co-founders Euan and Fiona MacEachern were initially looking to raise £350,000 and were offering 10.36% equity in return for the investment. They have now closed the campaign with 572 investors pledging £554,070. The Scottish company’s beers are stocked in major retailers including Marks & Spencer, Co-op, Morrisons, Aldi and Lidl, while it exports to Europe, Asia and the Nordics – selling more than 415,000 pints last year – and has just entered the Canadian market. It also plans to build a brewery, taproom, restaurant and visitors’ centre on the shores of Loch Lomond. The pitch stated: “Due to the increasing popularity of our beers we are near production capacity. We also outsource our packaging adding extra mileage to our beers before they reach customers. Investment will enable us to purchase equipment to double production and bring our packaging operation in-house, enabling us to meet demand. We are in the planning stage with developers to open our first combined brewery and taproom on the shores of Loch Lomond, aiming to open by 2020. The footprint of the building will be 1,200 square metres, with a third of that space dedicated to a restaurant, visitors’ centre and store. We want this to become a key attraction for the loch’s annual four million visitors.”

Nottingham hotel bids to add 500-capacity banqueting suite: Grade II-listed Colwick Hall Hotel in Nottingham has submitted plans to build a 500-capacity banqueting suite. The 14,230 square foot space would replace a semi-permanent marquee currently on-site. The present hall dates to 1775 but there has been a building with the same name on the site since 1362, when it was built by William de Colwick. Today, the hall is a four-star hotel, The Business Desk reports. A statement accompanying the plans says: “The high cost of maintaining the listed building and the relatively small number of bedrooms means the financial viability of the hotel business is finely balanced. To ensure viability, an events business operates in parallel to the hotel. Functions are accommodated within a temporary marquee, which is currently on the site.”

Dorbiere sells ‘unviable’ Wigan pub: Manchester-based pub operator Dorbiere has sold an “unviable” site in Wigan. The company has sold the Amberswood Tavern in Manchester Road to Westwood Motor Group as it plans to expand its site. A Dorbiere Pub Group spokesman told Wigan Today: “The pub trade in the UK has been going through a very difficult time over the past ten years, with more than 38 pubs closing down a week at the height of this. Unfortunately, the Amberswood Tavern has become unviable as a pub and it is with sincere regret we have had to make the difficult decision to close. The property has been sold for alternative use, as have many other pubs in the UK. It has been reported more than 60% of pubs are sold for alternative use in the UK due to the impact of trade in this sector.” Dorbiere, which operates about 50 pubs, is currently embarking on a refurbishment programme that will see at least ten of its sites undergo revamps this year.

Beverley-based Indian restaurant owner launches food service for village pubs: Beverley-based Indian restaurant Yo! Tuk Tuk has launched a scheme to “save village pubs in East Yorkshire”. The company has bought a kitchen space in Hull and will send meals out to pubs in a bid to boost trade. The Hare & Hounds in Leven has already signed up to the scheme, with Indian dishes on offer to customers to eat in or take away. Yo! Tuk Tuk owner Aminul Choudhury told Hull Live: “We have had a chain of pub owners interested in getting involved. We can combine Indian restaurants and pubs to create a niche market that will hopefully create a lot of jobs and bring good food to people. We have invested a lot of money in the new kitchen. Pubs will place an order for how many dishes they want and we will send them out in time for the evening. Village pubs are struggling and it is no secret Indian restaurants are also in decline. You will soon be able to go to your local pub, have a pint and get a tub of Indian restaurant food to go with it.”

Craft soft drinks company Gunna hits target in £500,000 crowdfunding campaign: Craft soft drinks company Gunna has hit the target in its £500,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube. The company is offering 17.54% equity in return for investment to fund expansion. So far, 162 investors have pledged £804,230 and the campaign is “overfunding” with 11 days remaining. The largest single investment to date is £500,000, which saw the campaign suddenly shoot past its target. The pitch states: “The UK soft drinks market was worth £15.2bn in 2017, with 1.4% in market growth. Gunna competes in the carbonates sector, which has more than 30% of the market share. In the same way craft beer has transformed its market, consumer research shows there is an opportunity for craft soft drinks because millennials are looking for great-tasting, healthier and more natural soft drinks. Gunna is currently growing with revenue up 300% versus 2017 (average loss month-on-month in 2017 of £45,000; 2018 average loss of £42,000). It is already stocked in more than 3,500 outlets. Funds raised will be used for trade marketing to drive Gunna into more outlets, recruitment of new sales people and consumer marketing to increase awareness.” Gunna was founded by Melvin Jay, who launched marketing strategy and innovation consultancy Clear Ideas in 2002. Clear Ideas was acquired by M&C Saatchi for £18.4m in 2007.

Shropshire hotel hit by legionnaires outbreak enters administration: A Shropshire hotel that suffered trading difficulties following a legionnaires outbreak has entered administration. The outbreak hit The Feathers Hotel in Ludlow in 2017, leading to an investigation by Public Health England (PHE) in the West Midlands and Shropshire. The hotel, which employs 30 people, will remain open for business while options are assessed, administrators have said. No redundancies have been made. Raj Mittal and Steve Stokes, partners at FRP Advisory, have been appointed joint administrators. Mittal told Insider Media: “The Feathers Hotel worked closely with PHE in the West Midlands and Shropshire to enable a staged reopening of the business. Unfortunately, the impact of the initial closure and restricted trading conditions resulted in severe cash flow difficulties, which led to the company entering administration. We’re now working closely with the directors to evaluate all routes forward for the business over the coming weeks.”

Wadworth revamps websites across managed estate: Devizes-based brewer and retailer Wadworth has revamped the websites of its 55 managed pubs. Each website includes new features such as online table booking, gallery pages for food and accommodation, events pages and news. Developed by Wiltshire-based creative agency Resolution, the websites allow pubs to promote their own activities and communicate directly with customers who have signed up for updates, offers and promotions. Wadworth chief executive Chris Welham said: “We have a fantastic selection of high-quality pubs in the West Country and these new websites really show off what they have to offer to local and international visitors. It’s imperative the websites showcase what’s on offer in a simple and interactive way.” In June, Wadworth invested more than £500,000 in outside areas across its estate ahead of the summer season.

Greene King employee becomes world’s youngest master brewer: Brewer and retailer Greene King’s new product development brewer, Ross O’Hara, has qualified as a master brewer from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling (IBD), making him the youngest in the world to hold the title. O’Hara, 28, who joined Greene King in 2016, has been studying for the IBD qualification for four years alongside his day job of developing new products at the Westgate Brewery and overseeing Greene King’s apprentice brewers at its London micro-brewery, Craft Academy. There are currently 578 master brewers – the highest level of brewing qualification offered by the IBD – globally. Greene King head of operations David Carr said: “We are all proud of Ross’ dedication and commitment to reaching master brewer level. He is passionate about brewing and has exceptional technical ability as well as flair and innovation.” 

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