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Mon 20th Aug 2018 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Managed pub like-for-likes up 2.7% in July but restaurant sales plummet 4.8%: The heatwave in July was good news for Britain’s pubs but heaped more pressure on the country’s restaurant chains, the latest Coffer Peach Business Tracker has revealed. Managed pub and bar groups saw like-for-like sales rise 2.7% against July 2017, while sales across restaurant groups plummeted, down a substantial 4.8% in like-for-like trading. Overall, the differing fortunes of pub and restaurant businesses cancelled each other out, with the combined sector seeing like-for-likes flat in July, recording exactly 0% growth. Peter Martin, vice-president of CGA, the business insight consultancy that produces the tracker, in partnership with Coffer Group and RSM, said: “Continued sunshine and England’s longer-than-expected participation in the World Cup meant July followed a similar pattern to the previous month of June, when pubs were up 2.8%, except restaurants were hit even harder. The fall of 1.8% in trading in June just got worse in July. Wet-led pubs and bars performed by far the strongest, with like-for-likes up more than restaurants were down. Food-led pubs also suffered in the sun with negative like-for-likes, although not as dramatically as the restaurant operators. It seems people just wanted to go out for a drink. Across managed pubs and bars drink sales were up 6.6% for the month, with food down 3.0%.” Underlying like-for-like growth for the 47 companies in the tracker cohort, which represents both large and small groups, was running at 0.5% for the 12 months to the end of July, down slightly from the 0.7% at the end of June. Trevor Watson, executive director at Davis Coffer Lyons, said: “London had a particularly strong month with overall like-for-like sales up 2.6%. This was driven predominantly by the capital’s pubs market – buoyed by England’s unexpected progression at the World Cup – which was trading 6.1% ahead. The rest of the country had a more difficult period with like-for-like sales down 0.9%. Restaurant trading fell a painful 5.6% – compared with 2.8% in the capital – with pub like-for-likes up just 1.7% despite the football.” Total sales growth across the pub and restaurant cohort, which includes the effect of new openings, was 2.7% in July, reflecting a slowdown in brand roll-outs, and running at 3.6% for the 12 months to the end of July.

Industry News: 

Bar and Nightclub Conference open for bookings: This year’s Bar and Nightclub Conference, organised by UKHospitality and Propel, has opened for bookings. It takes place on Monday, 8 October at Bafta, Piccadilly. Speakers will be Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, chair of the Mayor’s Night-time Commission and a panel member of the government's cultural cities inquiry; Karl Chessell, who heads CGA’s retailer business unit; Simon Potts, managing director of award-winning bar and restaurant brand The Alchemist; Toby Smith, chief executive of Novus; Alan Lorrimer, founder and managing director of House of Song; Charlie Gilkes, founder of Inception Group; Andrew Stones, managing director of cocktail bar brand Be At One; and leading licensing barrister Sarah Clover. Meanwhile, Nicholls will talk to Tokyo Industries founder Aaron Mellor, Richard Hamlin of First Merchant, Peter Marks of Deltic Group, Tim Kidd of Adventure Bars and Lord Smith about the current trading and regulatory landscape in the late-night market. Tickets are £139 plus VAT for operators who are UKHospitality members and £195 plus VAT for non-UKHospitality members. Supplier tickets are £185 plus VAT for UKHospitality members and £285 plus VAT for non-UKHospitality members. To book tickets, email Anne Steele at anne.steele@propelinfo.com

Government poised to introduce ‘latte levy’ on throwaway coffee cups: The government is poised to slap a “latte levy” on throwaway coffee cups after overwhelming public backing for radical action on waste. Taxes could also be introduced on other single-use items as part of the war on plastic pollution. A record 162,000 Britons responded to a Treasury consultation on how to deal with problem packaging and the vast majority supported action on disposable coffee cups and takeaway trays. The unprecedented response means ministers will now use the Budget in the autumn to set out a range of tough measures. Chancellor Philip Hammond signalled single-use coffee cups, takeaway boxes and difficult to recycle black plastic boxes were all in his sights. Earlier this year, Parliament’s cross-party environmental audit committee called for a “latte levy” of 25p on disposable coffee cups – that have a plastic lining – to help reduce waste and encourage recycling. The revenue would be used to improve reprocessing facilities. Hammond announced a consultation on new plastic taxes earlier this year. Hammond said the government would now “consider the most promising policies in more depth” over the coming months. Ideas would include using tax to “reduce demand for commonly-littered single-use plastic items, including single-use coffee cups and takeaway boxes, and to ensure the right incentives are in place to encourage recycling of waste that is currently incinerated”. A number of foodservice companies have already introduced measures to try to combat the issue, including Starbucks, which has rolled out a 5p paper cup charge, while Boston Tea Party has halted the sale of single-use cups for takeaway coffee. 

Industry warns jump in music royalties levy may mean ‘death of the DJ’: Pubs and clubs are warning about the “death of the DJ” if they are hit with a threatened 480% hike in levies charged by the music industry. Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL), a licensing organisation that collects royalties on behalf of thousands of music companies, wants to increase fees from 3.8p to 22p per person per hour. The levy rise would cost pubs, bars and nightclubs about £72m, according to UKHospitality. The fee Deltic Group, Britain’s biggest nightclub operator, pays to play music would jump from £700,000 to more than £4m. The company made profit before tax of £3.7m in the year to February 2018. Finance director Alex Millington called the planned increase “unsustainable” and said the company would be forced to reduce capital expenditure. A consultation of the changes concludes on Friday, 5 October. It is understood an industry coalition could be convened to launch a legal challenge if PPL decides to push ahead with its plans. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls told The Sunday Telegraph: “(The PPL increases) would result in massive increases in costs for operators, inevitably leading to higher prices for customers and the real possibility of the death knell of the DJ in pubs, bars and nightclubs across the UK.” PPL distributed £179m to its members, according to its latest accounts – a 7.3% year-on-year increase. Boss Peter Leatham said the tariff structure had been in place for 30 years and added: “It is right to expect a fair return for those people who created the music.”

McDonald’s and Sodexo receive recognition for environmental and ethical stances: McDonald’s and catering company Sodexo are among the top ten companies that have been recognised for their leadership on environmental issues, and human and animal rights. The quarterly ranking, produced by research and strategy consultancy Sigwatch, is based on global monitoring of more than 9,000 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and what activists are saying about brands and industry sectors. The two foodservice companies have won the admiration of NGOs in the past quarter on the back of their leadership on climate change and animal welfare. McDonald’s, which was seventh on the list, has been commended for its efforts to reduce its impact on the environment, for example by sourcing food responsibly, promoting renewable energy and reducing waste. Meanwhile Sodexo, which came ninth, has been praised for its stance on animal rights, notably on caged eggs. The firm has pledged to source cage-free eggs only by 2025.
 
Professional body honours Pub Is The Hub boss: The Royal Institute for Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has honoured Pub Is The Hub chief executive John Longden in an initiative to celebrate its 150th anniversary year. Longden has been selected for profile in the RICS’ Pride In The Profession campaign for his work with not-for-profit organisation Pub Is The Hub. Pride In The Profession showcases the positive impact surveyors have made to society. Longden previously spent his career as a chartered surveyor working with Grand Metropolitan in the 1980s and as tied trade director in the north. In 1989 he managed the pub and hotels portfolio for Bass and Holiday Inn, followed by the main board at Greenalls as group director and from 2001 as a consultant in private practice with surveyors Gerald Eve. His work at Pub Is The Hub has seen it grow from a one-man-band to a national organisation with a growing team of largely voluntary, field-based advisors and supporters. In 2012, Pub Is The Hub launched its Community Services Fund with backing from Diageo and the government. Its aim is to fund licensees to help them develop new community services at their pubs. In 2014, Longden was awarded an OBE in the New Year’s Honours list for voluntary services to rural communities in the UK.
 

Company News: 

Pizza Hut UK reports like-for-likes down 1%, back on acquisition trail for first time in five years: Pizza Hut UK has reported like-for-like sales were down 1% for the year ending 3 December 2017 but is back on the acquisition trail for the first time in five years as its refurbishment programme nears completion. Turnover fell 3% to £225,210,000 compared with £232,719,000 the previous year. Trading Ebitda was £30.4m, which was 7% ahead of the year before. The company reported an operating loss, excluding exceptional items, of £390,000 compared with a profit of £7,355,000 the previous year because of an increase in royalty rates under its franchise agreement and the prior financial year being 53 weeks. Pizza Hut UK had exceptional costs of £6.6m, including £4.7m from the early termination of leases, according to accounts filed at Companies House. At the year-end its estate stood at 262 sites, down four from the year before. The company reported a total of 214 restaurants had been refurbished at the year end – about 80% of the estate. It also launched its “counter service” model, in Coventry, and a further 11 sites were rolled out by the end of 2017. The project is focused on restaurants with lower sales, and simplifies the operation with "greet and seat” with customers paying at the till point when they are ready to place their order. It features self-serve condiments, drinks, salad and Ice Cream Factory. The concept is supported by a “modest” capital investment with work continuing in 2018 to refine and further test the model. During 2017, the company opened its first new site since 2012, at the White Rose shopping centre in Leeds. Pizza Hut UK said while there had been “slightly higher” discounting on prices than the prior year, it made “a conscious decision not to embark in widespread discounting seen across many of our competitors”. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “The focus of Pizza Hut over the past five years has been to consolidate, refurbish and strengthen the existing estate. While many competitors have rapidly expanded via roll-out of new locations, it was management's view there was greater opportunity for Pizza Hut to focus on the existing estate. With the consolidation and refurbishment largely completed, management is now looking at targeted and appropriate new site opportunities.” As a result of the exceptional costs, the company reported a pre-tax loss of £7,512,000 compared with a profit of £5,222,000 the previous year. In April, the management team completed a buyout of the company from Rutland Partners in an estimated £100m deal. 

Elliotts appoints Anthony Knight as managing director: Elliotts, the integrated agency for the hospitality and leisure sector, has appointed Anthony Knight as managing director. Knight, Restaurant Marketer & Innovator’s Future Marketing Leader of the Year, will join Elliotts full-time in September, bringing a wealth of experience in marketing and communications. As well as his role as managing director, he will lead Elliotts’ digital and social teams. Most recently Knight was group sales and marketing director at Maxwell’s Restaurants Group, where he was responsible for leading the marketing and sales strategy for venues such as Café de Paris, Tropicana Beach Club and Maxwell’s Bar and Grill. During that period Knight championed loyalty initiatives and new approaches to customer engagement and experience, in-venue and digitally, generating global coverage for Maxwell’s response to the Pokémon Go phenomenon and the launch of Tropicana Beach Club, which won Maxwell’s a “best use of social media” award. Elliotts chief executive Ann Elliott said: “I am delighted Anthony will join us as managing director. His incredibly strong knowledge and experience in digital marketing and the industry will be pivotal for the agency as we continue our ambitious plans and expand our range of services.” Knight added: “Elliotts has a fantastic reputation for being creative, connected and results driven. Combine this with ambitious growth plans and the opportunity to join them as managing director was irresistible. I am excited at the prospect of working with Ann and to be part of the talented team with high ambitions for the impact we can achieve.” Elliotts recently won three PR accounts – McCain Foodservice, Marston’s (Kirin Ichiban) and new quick-service restaurant concept Pizza Sqr.

Burning Night Group closes Cardiff Bierkeller following ‘unsustainable’ impact on business from surrounding redevelopment work: Bar company Burning Night Group has closed its Bierkeller site in Cardiff with redevelopment work around Stadium Plaza where the venue is based having a “unsustainable” impact on the business. Staff at the three bars in the complex – Bierkeller Bavarian bar, sports bar Shooters and Around the World bar and lounge – have been informed, and customers with advanced bookings are being notified. David Howarth, operations manager for Burning Night Group, which owns and operates Bierkellers in six cities across the UK, said the decision was made in the interests of the business as a whole. He said: “It is obviously regrettable we are having to close our Cardiff site but after a detailed cost analysis we felt it was the most beneficial thing to do for the company, which has hundreds of employees around the country. The location of the venue has played a huge part in its success in the past – having the Champions League final at the stadium in 2017 was an incredible night for the city and for us – but unfortunately it has also caused issues that have ultimately contributed to this decision.” Chief executive Allan Harper said ongoing redevelopment work had been highly detrimental to the business. He added: “The closure of Cardiff has been caused primarily by the major city centre redevelopment works surrounding the venue for the past two-and-a-half years. With further disruption planned, and the prospect of work continuing for another two years, the related trade impact has unfortunately made the site unsustainable. We will look to reopen Cardiff in the future should the redevelopment be in its final stages and the area then looks viable.”
 
Infinite Base looks for initial central London sites to launch ‘virtual reality gaming arenas’: Competitive socialising firm Infinite Base is looking for suitable sites in London to launch “virtual reality gaming arenas”. The arenas, which would be accompanied by a bar and cafe and host groups of up to ten people, would host a range of concepts including zombie-shooting games, puzzles and experiences themed on film franchises. The company’s requirement is for an initial 8,000 to 10,000 square foot site in central London or on the fringes of the City, before opening another two London sites ahead of a possible roll-out to other large UK cities. Infinite Base said it was looking at former retail premises, basements or the ground floors of office buildings that could accommodate a bar and cafe as well as a single arena. Aimed at the millennial market, Infinite Base was founded by Andy Dekany and Caroline Corteen, who have backgrounds in financial services and technology. Dekany told Property Week: “Entertainment and leisure is a huge sector and has taken over from retail on the high street. We are providing co-operative experiences that will take our customers to a different world.” Rob Jones, director of AS Retail, which is advising Infinite Base on its initial acquisitions, added: “There is a big gap in the market for this and it would perform strongly alongside other competitive socialising concepts.”
 
Former Champs operator to launch micro sports bar concept: Former Champs operator Danny Grayson has teamed up with local businessman James Dobson to launch a micro sports bar concept in Sheffield. Grayson, who operated the Champs format with Punch, has created Sport Shack, with the first venue opening in Ecclesall Road in September. Sport Shack will focus on live sports screening Sky and BT Sport throughout the year on a number of 4K televisions. It will also offer locally sourced food and cask ale as well as mainstream keg lager and beer. Grayson said: “There is a niche in the market for this type of establishment. Having owned Champs in Ecclesall Road for six years we found it hard to fill a big venue. Sport Shack will be smaller but will focus on a better atmosphere with our slogan: ‘Small on size, big on atmosphere.’ This brand will be rolled out to more establishments in the near future.”
 
Caprice Holdings and Homeslice sign for St Christopher’s Place: Caprice Holdings, owned by Richard Caring, and better pizza brand Homeslice are to open sites at St Christopher’s Place in central London after agreeing leases with F&C Commercial Property Trust. Caprice Holdings has agreed to take a 3,567 square foot space for Harry’s Bar, which will be a sister site to Harry’s Dolce Vita in Knightsbridge. Homeslice has signed a lease on a 1,920 square foot space set across four floors. The venue will be the brand’s sixth London restaurant, while Homeslice will relocate its head office to the third floor. Richard Kirby, fund manager of F&C, which is managed by BMO Real Estate Partners, told Property Week: “These latest lettings are a clear demonstration of our ability to curate a compelling tenant line-up that constantly evolves in response to the latest market trends.” Located between Oxford Street and Marylebone, St Christopher’s Place comprises 43 buildings and 169 letting units, as well as residential apartments and office space. Caprice Holdings launched premium casual concept Harry’s Dolce Vita in late December 2017 offering seasonal Italian plates and “all the elegance and glamour of 1950s Italy”. Homeslice was founded by Mark Wogan, Alan Wogan and Ry Jessup in 2011, with sites currently in Covent Garden, Queen Street, Old Street, White City and Fitzrovia.
 
East London Pub Co takes on Camden music venue for fourth site: East London Pub Co has taken on Camden live music venue The Lock Tavern for its fourth site. The company said the pub in Chalk Farm Road would have “a full schedule of live music and DJs on a weekly basis”. It will invest more than £500,000 into the restoration of the venue, which will take place over six months and aim to “[preserve] the original atmosphere, much-loved aesthetics and traditional interiors”. It will also introduce a new bar, roof terrace and rear garden. Bradley Lomas, who leads the company with Patrick Frawley, told the Evening Standard: “The Lock Tavern has a fantastic history and we are looking forward to breathing new life into this Camden institution and honouring its musical heritage. The pub has been around for decades and host to some of the UK’s best up-and-coming and established talent, which is why we want to ensure music remains at the heart of this venue.” The pub will close briefly on Wednesday, 29 August and reopen two days later. East London Pub Co, which was founded in 2014, also operates the Ten Bells and The Gun, both in Spitalfields, and Edgeley Road in Clapham.

The Alchemist unveils new look for flagship central London site: The Alchemist, which is backed by Palatine Private Equity, has unveiled a new look for its flagship central London site. Bevis Marks has undergone a £280,000 refurbishment to realign with the look and feel of The Alchemist’s most recent openings, including Cardiff. The design focuses on trademark “copper-cased wonderland” decor with interiors featuring amber, copper and red accompanied by gothic artwork to create a “richer, more immersive and shareable bar and restaurant experience”. Bevis Marks is the brand’s first London venue. Opening in 2014, it has sold one million cocktails, the company said. Londoners will soon be able to enjoy two further Alchemist sites with a St Martin’s Lane opening in November and another in Old Street in March 2019. The Alchemist head of brand Jenny McPhee said: “The design of our venues is paramount to the overall Alchemist experience. As the brand has evolved and grown, so has the look and feel of The Alchemist environments. Our guests will really see a difference in our design and offering as we aim to elevate our venues with each launch and refurbishment. We have two further London openings within the next year, and it is important to us that all London venues incorporate the new Alchemist style.” The Alchemist also has sites in Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Newcastle, Chester, Oxford and Nottingham, while it will launch new bar concept Aether in Liverpool next month. 

Historic Cornish hotel featured in The Witches film makes further investment following turnover and profit boost: The historic Headland Hotel in Cornwall, which featured in the film adaptation of Roald Dahl story The Witches, has reported a rise in turnover and profit that is being invested back into further upgrades. Headland Hotel Company saw turnover increase to £9,036,568 for the year ending 30 November 2017, compared with £8,394,023 the year before, according to accounts filed at Companies House. Pre-tax profit was up to £1,657,820, compared with £1,333,820 the previous year. The grade II-listed, 96-bedoom, four-star hotel opened in 1900 and was taken over by current owners the Armstrong family in March 1979. In 1987, The Witches, starring Anjelica Huston, was filmed at the venue, which overlooks Fistral Bay, near Newquay. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “The directors are confident their continued investment across the whole business will maintain The Headland's position as the most iconic and leading hotel in the west country and beyond. At significant expense and substantial capital investment, the new-build Aquatic Centre is under construction and will incorporate an all-weather, year-round, state-of-the-art, multiple pool complex complete with a Mediterranean lead restaurant. This is expected to open the very latter part of 2019.”

St Christopher’s teams up with Asian hostel operator to drive direct bookings: St Christopher’s Inns, which is owned by pan-European hostel and bar company Beds and Bars, has launched a joint marketing partnership with Mad Monkey Hostels to increase direct bookings. St Christopher’s Inns operates 21 sites in 11 countries, while Mad Monkey is one of the largest hostel companies in Asia with ten locations in four countries. Both companies will promote each other’s properties and collaborate on marketing initiatives to increase direct bookings via discounts and special rates. They will also collaborate on content and social media communications, while there will be staff discounts across both portfolios. St Christopher’s Inns managing director Murray Roberts said: “With Asian customers becoming a growing percentage of our customer base and with Mad Monkey’s leadership position in Asia, this agreement helps us extend our direct reach.” Mad Monkey Hostels chairman Steve Vaile added: “St Christopher’s hostels have an amazing social atmosphere and offer an excellent food and beverage experience. It is also a socially responsible business with a great impact on its communities. That’s what our customers are looking for and we are confident any Mad Monkey customer will love staying at St Christopher’s, and vice versa.”

BrewDog to open bar in Carlisle: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog is to open a site in Carlisle. The company is opening the bar in Botchergate in the former Victory Amusements building next to JD Wetherspoon’s Woodrow Wilson pub. A spokeswoman told the News & Star: "Carlisle has been in our sights for a long time. We have many passionate fans from Carlisle and they have been very vocal with their calls for a BrewDog outpost in the city. We’ve scouted the city for years and recently came upon a great location in Botchergate that puts us bang in the centre of the city." BrewDog has 37 bars across the UK, as well as in cities abroad such as Berlin, Florence and Stockholm.
 
Manchester-based restaurant The Infamous Diner goes into liquidation: Manchester-based restaurant The Infamous Diner has gone into liquidation. The venue, in Nicholas Croft in the Northern Quarter, has gone out of business after joint liquidators were appointed. The 1950s America-themed diner was put up for sale by its then owner Mark Andrew Developments (MAD) in January 2017. The Infamous Diner opened in July 2015 and was listed on Christie & Co’s website for £500,000 in January 2017 with a 25-year lease starting from its opening date. At the time a MAD spokesman said: “Infamous Diner has been a great asset to the MAD portfolio. It’s a successful business with a great location and fantastic, committed staff and we will continue to operate the restaurant until a suitable buyer is found. It is very much business as usual until then.” The restaurant’s website has been closed but it still has a Twitter account, reports The Business Desk.

Underground ping pong concept launches in Birmingham, plans for three more: Underground ping pong concept Serve has launched in Birmingham city centre, with its owners planning at least three further openings in the next 12 months. Serve is the brainchild of James Day and David Smith, who met in New York and developed an idea for a venue combining food, cocktails and table tennis, which would be family friendly by day and a ping pong party palace by night. Their debut site is at a 12,000 square foot unit in Temple Row. The venue features 15 ping pong tables and a private room, while the food menu spans snacks, flatbread, skewers, steamed bao buns and desserts alongside cocktails, wine and beer in bottles and on draught. Smith told Insider Media: “Ping pong social venues have taken off in the States, with a new generation of players enjoying the social side of table tennis in cool bars and clubs. Our aim is to quickly establish Serve as the iconic, go-to venue in Birmingham offering something cool, contemporary and fun.”

Cafe bar concept Bear to open third site, in Stone: Staffordshire-based cafe bar concept Bear is to open its third site, in Stone. Craig Bunting and Michael Thorley launched the concept in Uttoxeter in January 2016 before adding a second site, in Derby. Now they are converting the former HSBC site in Stone, which is due to open in early October. Plans for the building include a mezzanine level halfway across the room with seating for around 110 people in total, including outside space. Bear combines speciality coffee and fresh seasonal food during the day, while offering cocktails, craft beer, wine and informal dining during the evening. Bunting told: “Stone feels like a home from home for us as we’re in that familiar market town setting and the tight-knit community has already given us such a warm welcome.”

Coyote Ugly opens fourth UK site, in Swansea: Coyote Ugly has opened its fourth UK site, in Swansea. The bar has taken over part of the former Aspers Casino in Wind Street. The first branch in Wales opened in 2016, in Cardiff. The successful US film from 2000, which starred Tyra Banks, John Goodman and Adam Garcia, is the inspiration behind the venues, which feature women, known as “coyotes”, singing and dancing on the bar. Coyote Ugly now operates in 26 locations in seven countries. The Swansea venue features the chain’s longest bar to date, measuring 18 metres. The opening has created 50 jobs.

St John Bakery to open debut permanent site, in Covent Garden: St John Bakery, which has operated pop-ups in Bermondsey and Old Street, is to launch its debut permanent site next month, in Covent Garden. The bakery will open in Neal’s Yard at a site formerly occupied by wild food restaurant Native, which has relocated to Southwark. St John Bakery’s offerings include doughnuts, pastries, Eccles cakes, sourdough, raisin loaves and rye loaves. The company is also seeking a licence to enable it to sell its own wine, Hot Dinners reports. The bakery is the concept of St John Restaurant, which is led by Fergus Henderson and Trevor Gulliver and operates sites in Clerkenwell and Spitalfields.
  
Compass Hospitality acquires Carmarthen hotel off £2.7m guide price: Thailand-based Compass Hospitality Group has acquired the Ivy Bush Royal Hotel in Carmarthen, Wales, off a guide price of £2.7m. The company has bought the property – its 16th in the UK – from Paul and Ann Jaycock in a deal brokered by agents Christie & Co. The 18th century building in the town centre features 70 en-suite bedrooms, a bar, restaurant, private function spaces, and leisure facilities such as a gym and sauna. The business will continue to be managed by existing staff under the direction of Compass Hospitality Holdings (UK), which operates hotels in Thailand, Malaysia and the UK, including the Citrus Hotel in Cardiff. Compass Hospitality chief executive Harmil Singh said: “Our maiden entry to Wales, in Cardiff, has proven extremely successful and we are pleased to further expand our business in Wales. While the Ivy Bush Royal Hotel is already performing very well, particularly in the food and beverage sector, we feel there is opportunity to further grow the business through synergies with the other hotels in our portfolio as well as a strategic refurbishment programme.” Paul Jaycock added: “After 28 years of active ownership of a number of hospitality businesses in Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion, Ann and I have decided to retire.”

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