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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Wed 24th Apr 2019 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Former Gordon Ramsay Holdings chief executive Gillies plans new venture in Chislehurst: Stuart Gillies, who stepped down as chief executive of Gordon Ramsay Holdings last year after more than 15 years with the company, is to return to the sector with a new bar and restaurant venture, Propel has learned. Gillies is one of the founding directors of Eleven Chislehurst, which plans to open Bank House wine bar and kitchen this summer at a former NatWest Bank branch in Chislehurst High Street. Gillies, who trademarked the name Wood & Wood for restaurant use after leaving Gordon Ramsay Holdings, is joined in the new venture by Jonathan Aucamp, founder and executive chairman of global proprietary trading company OSTC Group, and Guy Osborn, owner of Dial Investments. The new venture, which will launch next to the recently opened Giggling Squid restaurant in the south east London town, will feature a menu serving “freshly cooked small plates and sharing options matched with carefully selected organic wine, craft beer and bespoke cocktails”. Propel understands Angelika Oparczyk, formerly an assistant general manager at the Ivy Collection and ex-group wine co-ordinator at Gordon Ramsay Restaurants, has been appointed general manager for Bank House. Gillies left Gordon Ramsay Holdings, with no official statement or confirmation from Ramsay, in February last year. He was succeeded by managing director Andy Wenlock. Last year, it was reported Ramsay was in talks regarding the sale of a stake in his restaurant business to Lion Capital, which would aid expansion of his restaurant concepts, predominantly in the US.

Industry News:

Propel summer conference and party open for bookings, Jonathan Recanati to present, two free places for operators: The Propel Multi Club summer conference and party has opened for bookings. It takes place on Thursday, 27 June at the Oxford Belfry, which is just off the M40. The conference will be followed by the summer party, with an evening barbecue, the Big Fat Quiz and the legendary sounds of DJ Big Lee. Jonathan Recanati, founder of Farmer J, which received £1.9m of investment from Imbiba earlier this year, will talk about his journey from investment banking to offering restaurant-quality food on the go based on six core values, what he learned from the early Farmer J sites, and future plans. Operators can claim up to two free places by emailing Jo Charity at Rooms (bed and breakfast) are also available at £125 plus VAT and can be booked by emailing Jo.

Propel launches Coffee Conference: Propel has launched the Coffee Conference, which aims to help operators develop their coffee offer and capitalise on opportunities in a market that has undergone 20 consecutive years of growth. The full-day event takes place on Tuesday, 11 June at One Moorgate Place in London and is open for bookings. Turnover in the UK coffee shop market increased 7.9% last year to £10.1bn and, with growth set to continue, some of the sector’s most high-profile operators will share their insights and expertise and reveal opportunities in the market. Dominic Allport, insights director at The NPD Group, will provide analysis of the market and look at some of the key trends. Nick Tolley, co-founder of Taylor St Baristas and Harris+Hoole, will talk about the challenges of growing a successful coffee business in the UK and how to generate and monetise new opportunities. James Horler, chief executive of 3Sixty Restaurants and chairman of Notes Coffee Roasters & Bars, will talk to Propel managing director Paul Charity about how Notes is creating opportunities to steal market share from established high-street brands. Rob Darby, co-founder and chief executive of 200 Degrees, will describe his move from running bars to coffee shops and his plans for continued regional growth into city centres. Henry Ayers, co-founder of The Gentlemen Baristas, will reveal how an Englishman’s moustache helped sculpt a niche for “well-mannered coffee”, giving rise to a growing portfolio of quirky sites and the development of a roastery and wholesaling expertise in coffee, tea, cocoa and spices. Russell Scott, founder of Paddy & Scott’s, will reveal how ethical trade and sustainability has played a key role in the brand’s expansion, while Sam Roberts, co-owner and chief executive of Boston Tea Party, will share his learnings from the company’s ban on disposable cups. Jamie Robertson, UK chief executive of US coffee shop concept Roasting Plant, will reveal its plans for the UK and explain how he sees technology transforming the customer retail experience. Kevin Charity, chief executive of the Coaching Inn Group, will talk about the company’s success with coffee and its drive to develop a first-class coffee shop experience for customers while driving up trade within what is a “traditional inns” concept. Meanwhile, Press Coffee co-founder Andy Wells, Caravan co-founder and creative director Laura Harper-Hinton, Bewiched Coffee founder Matt Fountain and Black Sheep HR director Marco Reick will discuss what they see as the sector’s challenges and how to overcome them. Propel managing director Paul Charity said: “The coffee market is one of our most dynamic and innovative sectors – and this event is a chance to hear from many of our best operators.” Tickets are £295 plus VAT for Propel Premium subscribers and £345 plus VAT for all others. To book, email or call 01444 817691.

UK consumer confidence edges up but caution remains: UK consumer confidence edged up in the first quarter of 2019 but caution remains, according to the latest Deloitte Consumer Tracker. Confidence increased one percentage point in the period to minus 8% but is down two percentage points year-on-year. A notable drop in discretionary spending in the quarter was partly due to the seasonal effect of Christmas. Deloitte said positive economic news had helped boost confidence particularly with regards to levels of disposable income and job security, with those measures up five and one percentage point respectively. By contrast, a two percentage point fall in sentiment relating to job opportunity and career progression highlighted continued concerns over possible weakening of the job market. Deloitte chief economist Ian Stewart said: “The bounce in consumer sentiment comes against a backdrop of heightened uncertainty around Brexit during the survey period in late March. Consumers also faced headwinds from a slowing global economy while at home, housing activity has softened and consumer credit is less easy to come by. Despite the deluge of bad news consumer confidence has held up, fuelled by rising real incomes, a buoyant jobs market and ultra-low mortgage costs. Earnings growth has now outstripped inflation for 13 consecutive months while unemployment is at its lowest level since 1975. Mortgage rates remain close to all-time lows. The key question for the UK consumer is whether growing corporate nervousness will trigger a squeeze on pay and jobs in the second half of the year.” Ben Perkins, head of consumer research, added: “The uplift in consumer confidence fits with the rebound in retail sales in March yet Brexit remains on the horizon and we will only be able to judge the underlying strength of the consumer market when this uncertainty lifts.”

Coca-Cola to launch ready-to-drink Costa Coffee product: Coca-Cola is gearing up to launch a ready-to-drink Costa Coffee product in the “coming weeks” as it praised “constant innovation” for solid results. Cola-Cola beat estimates for quarterly earnings, with growth boosted by its water, sports drinks and Coca-Cola Zero Sugar beverages. Soft drink sales were up 1% with a 6% increase in sales of water and sports drinks, while juice, tea and coffee sales were flat from the prior year. Speaking on an investor call, Coca-Cola chief executive James Quincey said constant innovation was “crucial for sustained growth”, noting “blurring category lines” had allowed the company to innovate in different areas. He added: “Innovating and investing in our core categories to emerging ones such as kombucha allows us to proactively address and benefit from blurring category lines.” Quincey said a key goal was to accelerate Costa Coffee and Innocent Smoothies, which recently expanded into dairy-free milk alternatives. Coca-Cola paid Whitbread £3.9bn for Costa Coffee earlier this year to tap into the coffee market – primarily with the aim to launch new products. Explaining his plans for the brand, Quincey said: “Costa is our platform in coffee. Overall this requires more and better connectivity than ever before. As we look to the second quarter we are looking to launch our ready-to-drink Costa Coffee.”

Andrew Stones joins Imbiba: Andrew Stones, former managing director of specialist cocktail bar operator Be At One, will join Imbiba this month. Stones worked with Be At One’s founders and private equity partners to grow the company from ten to 39 sites before managing a trade sale to Stonegate Pub Company last year. Stones has worked in the hospitality and leisure sector for more than 30 years and has a broad range of operational experience. His market knowledge is extensive, having worked for hospitality companies such as Whitbread, Spirit Group and JD Wetherspoon and in leisure with Esporta and American Amusements. Imbiba chairman John Connell said: “Andrew is a highly experienced operator and is well respected within the industry. He has an excellent pedigree in business management and leadership and brings a wealth of industry and market experience to the team. Andrew is able to provide operational guidance and expertise to portfolio businesses and we are delighted to welcome him to Imbiba.” Stones added: “Imbiba is the only institutional investor focused exclusively on leisure investing in the UK. This specialist, operator-led approach is unique and adds great value for potential investee companies. I am delighted to have joined such a dynamic, specialist team and, as an operator at heart, I look forward to helping and supporting our portfolio businesses as they grow.”

Company News:

Caravan team to launch new concept in Chelsea: The team behind London-based restaurant, bar and coffee-roasting concept Caravan is to launch a new venture in Chelsea’s Duke of York Square. Founders Laura Harper-Hinton, Miles Kirby and Chris Ammermann will launch the venture at The Pavilion this autumn, complete with new name, menu and design. Active Partners-backed Caravan currently operates five London sites – in King’s Cross, the City, Exmouth Market, Bankside and Fitzrovia. In February, Harper-Hinton told Propel current trading at those sites was “fantastic”, with like-for-like sales up about 10%. For the year to 30 June 2018, the company saw like-for-likes grow 1.3% against a “challenging backdrop of strong sales in the previous year” and disruptive weather. Total sales in the year grew 31.7%, from £7,186,391 to £9,435,682. The company took a small step back in terms of Ebitda year-on-year, down from £284,281 to £173,751, due to a one-off investment in additional head office capability and the “ongoing backdrop of cost increases affecting the businesses in our sector”. Speaking in February regarding potential expansion, Harper-Hinton said: “We are looking at a couple of things. We’re keen to keep growing but at a sensible pace while making sure we’re picking the right sites.”

Chapati Man heads to US as it sells New York franchise rights: London-based street food Indian wraps concept Chapati Man is heading to the US after selling the master franchise rights for New York. The Chaat Is Safe, headed by Tejas Vemparala, has purchased the Chapati Man licence rights to open fixed food-to-go sites and food trucks across the Big Apple and state of New York. Chris Rai, owner and co-founder of Chapati Man, said it was a “huge statement” for the concept. He added: “Breaking into the US market is a massive achievement. I can’t wait to see our Indian elephant branding on the streets of the Big Apple. They’re going to love our product. Fingers crossed other US states will follow soon.” His wife Andrea said: “Food trucks and kiosks are part of the city scene over there so it’s a natural fit. We have the upmost faith in Tejas and his team to deliver the Chapati Man concept to New York.” Vemparala added: “We have observed the growth in popularity of Chapati Man in the UK and are confident we can hit the ground running in New York, one of the icon cities of street food.” Building on the sale of franchise rights in London, the master franchise rights for Sri Lanka and with an eye on further UK and international expansion, Chris Rai said: “We don’t really see any limits. New York was a dream for us but as the song goes if we can boom it there, we’ll boom it anywhere.” Chris and Andrea Rai launched Chapati Man in 2007.

North west pub operator reveals plans for up to seven sites after launching third venue: North west pub operator CJW Pubs has revealed plans for up to seven sites after launching its third. The company, owned by Kelly Vickers and Jamie Whitaker, has reopened The Pig On The Wall in Droylsden – its first venue with Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars. The pub, which is Vickers’ and Whitaker’s local, has undergone a £380,000 refurbishment. Originally a farmhouse, parts of the pub are 400 years old. The project has retained a traditional country feel inside, with retained features such as beams and a snug and fireplaces brought back into use. Upgrades include high-definition screens for sport and a barista-quality coffee machine. CJW Pubs is looking to expand further in the north west and is targeting pubs in suburban locations with scope to put its own stamp on the business and develop consistent year-round trade. While also considering freehold sites, the company prefers a lease option where major works are required. Vickers said: “Investment is vital to the pub’s success. We expect to shift trade from 90/10 wet/dry to 60/40 thanks to the refurbishment.” Star Pubs & Bars operations director David Pritchard added: “Jamie and Kelly have fantastic experience in the trade both with big organisations and running individual leased pubs. They’re completely engaged with the community around The Pig On The Wall and know what it needs to succeed. Their expertise in food will also maximise trade and take the pub to another level.”

M&B secures licence variation to turn Newcastle Browns into All Bar One: Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) has secured a variation of its licence for its Browns site in Newcastle with help from licensing solicitor Poppleston Allen, despite the restaurant being in a Special Stress Area. The application to the city council’s licensing committee was to vary the licence to convert the premises to operate as M&B’s All Bar One brand. As part of this, the company was seeking to extend the hours for the sale of alcohol until 1am on Fridays and Saturdays and remove conditions that required the premises to primarily operate as a restaurant with alcohol being ancillary to food. M&B was also seeking to remove conditions requiring part of the premises to be set aside and reserved for diners. The premises are in a Special Stress Area in Newcastle’s Grey Street, where there is a presumption to refuse applications unless the applicant can demonstrate exceptional circumstances and no negative impact on licensing objectives. Poppleston Allen managing partner Lisa Sharkey said: “The key point was highlighting food was an important part of the offer and on average food accounted for 35% of sales. However, we didn’t want restaurant conditions or areas set aside for diners because it didn’t suit the flexible use M&B wanted for All Bar One.” On granting the application, Cllr George Pattison said the committee was satisfied M&B had demonstrated exceptional circumstances and was persuaded the grant wouldn’t adversely impact on the licensing objectives. M&B is set to invest circa £700,000 to refurbish the premises ahead of reopening this summer.

Flight Club to open Birmingham site this summer: Social darts concept Flight Club will open a site in Birmingham this summer. The company will launch the venue at a former TSB bank branch in Temple Street. The Birmingham site’s decor will have a nod to dart’s fairground roots with a carousel-style bar and carnival lights. Flight Club co-founder Steve Moore told Birmingham Live: “"While our Birmingham venue will have its own unique personality, all our venues are inspired by the Victorian heritage of darts; the pub and the fairground. We can't say much more for now, but we’re excited to be opening in Birmingham." Flight Club operates three sites in London – in Bloomsbury, Shoreditch and Victoria – plus a venue in Manchester.

SSP completes purchase of 49% stake in Indian joint venture: UK-based transport hub foodservice specialist SSP Group has completed its acquisition of a 49% stake in Travel Food Services, one of India’s largest travel food companies. In line with terms of the acquisition originally announced in October 2016, SSP agreed to create the joint venture with K Hospitality Corp and acquire a 49% stake in two stages. The acquisition of the initial 33% stake completed in March 2017 and SSP Group has now completed the second stage of the agreement to acquire a further 16% stake. The acquisition provides an entry point for SSP Group into the Indian market and is in line with the company’s strategy as set out at its initial public offering, which includes expansion into new markets that offer the opportunity for value-creating growth. SSP Group stated: “Travel Food Services has performed well since the onset of the partnership and the combination of SSP’s international expertise in the travel sector and Travel Food Services’ strong local presence continue to provide an excellent platform for growth in the Indian travel market.”

Robert Ortiz to open Birmingham restaurant: Robert Ortiz, the Michelin-starred chef behind acclaimed Peruvian restaurant Lima, is to open a site in Birmingham. Ortiz will launch Chakana in the suburb of Moseley. The site on the corner of Alcester Road and Woodbridge Road was a Lloyds Bank branch until it closed in 2016, with planning permission to convert it into a restaurant granted by the city council last year. Chakana is another name for religious symbol the Inca cross, reports The Business Desk. Ortiz grew up in Peru’s Amazon region and began his career at the Costa Verde restaurant in Lima before moving to London. He spent several years at The Landmark Hotel and the Four Seasons at Canary Wharf before heading back to Peru for four years. He returned to London in 2012 as head chef of Lima in Fitzrovia. He gained his Michelin star in 2014, making Lima Europe’s first Peruvian restaurant to receive the honour.

Real Food Festival to launch independent weekly market at Battersea Power Station: Real Food Festival is to launch an independent weekly market at the Battersea Power Station development in south London on Saturday (27 April). River Walk Market’s line-up will feature 25 brands including Isidora Popovic’s modern European deli Popina, which operates a bricks-and-mortar site in Mayfair; artisan sourdough baker The Flour Station; micro-brewer Battersea Brewery; Sicilian cannoli concept Casa Cannoli; American soul food concept Outsider Tart, which operates a bakery and restaurant in Chiswick; and cheese and charcuterie trader Heritage Cheese. A guest pitch will be reserved to showcase emerging talent such as Deep South concept Bayou and Italian-inspired sustainable burger brand Tongue n’ Cheek. The market will also host craft-makers, live musicians and DJs. Real Food Festival director Fabio Diu said: “We are really looking forward to becoming part of this community and offering a new space for people to enjoy their weekend eating, shopping and drinking.” Battersea Power Station brand director Nicola Casperson added: “We are delighted to welcome a new weekly food and craft market to complement the array of restaurants, shops, cafes, bars and leisure offers at the first chapter of the Battersea Power Station regeneration.” The first annual Real Food Festival took place at Earls Court in 2008. Alongside other projects the company also runs the weekly Real Food Market outside King’s Cross station.

Live-streaming brewery launches in Worcester: A brewery that live-streams the brewing process has launched in Worcester. GanderBrewCo is the brainchild of brothers Aaron and Lee Bushell and aims to combine beer with technology. The company, which has set up home at Top Barn Business Centre, will live-stream the brewing process on YouTube and Amazon service Twitch. Stuart Emmerson, director of investment and partnership at Worcestershire LEP, told Insider Media: “We are delighted to see GanderBrewCo choose Worcestershire to build its business. What’s particularly exciting is its efforts to harness great beer with cutting-edge technology. This is a fantastic addition to the county and we look forward to supporting its journey.”

Brewhouse & Kitchen revives beer-can chicken in customisable format as part of summer menu: Brewhouse & Kitchen, the UK’s largest brewpub group, is bringing back beer-can chicken as part of its new summer menu. The recipe has been updated and made fully customisable, from size to sauce and sides. Coated in a special dry rub and roasted over a can of Brewhouse & Kitchen American Pale Ale, the beer-can chicken, available as a quarter, half or whole, comes with a choice of sauces – garlic beer butter, “bar-beer-que”, and spicy sriracha and honey beer – as well as a selection of 12 sides such as skin-on fries, lemon and garlic broccoli and mac ‘n’ cheese. Other new dishes on the menu include moules frites cooked in house-made wheat beer sauce and a passionfruit Eton mess with whipped cream and fruit coulis. There are also 21 vegan and vegetarian dishes. The new menu is available from Friday (26 April).

Loungers to launch Lounge in Barnsley next month, gets go-ahead for Cosy Club in Nottingham: Cafe bar group Loungers, which plans to float on the AIM market, is to open a Lounges site in Barnsley next month. The company will launch Falco Lounge at The Glass Works development on Thursday, 30 May. It will be the first venue to open at the town centre scheme, creating 30 jobs. Its name is a nod to the movie Kes, which is set in Barnsley and based on a boy’s relationship with a bird of prey. Falco is Latin for falcon. Lounges operations manager Phil Kinsella told Insider Media: “We are really looking forward to throwing open the doors at Falco Lounge and showing the locals how to lounge in style.” David Shepherd, Barnsley Council’s service director of regeneration and culture, added: “We look forward to welcoming Falco Lounge to Barnsley and confident it will play a key role in helping us create a thriving and vibrant town centre.” Meanwhile, Loungers has been given the go-ahead by Nottingham City Council to turn the former Victoria Club casino into a 21,000 square foot Cosy Club set over three floors. Loungers, which is backed by Lion Capital, revealed its plans to float on AIM earlier this month. The company operates 122 Lounge cafe bars and 24 sites under the Cosy Club banner.

Costa Coffee joins surplus food redistribution scheme: Costa Coffee, owned by Coca-Cola, has joined a surplus food redistribution scheme in Hull. The business-led initiative, Food Waste Hero, was launched by food supplier Cranswick and food redistribution app OLIO. Costa will start by redistributing surplus food from its Anlaby Retail Park through the app on a first come, first served basis. If the trial is successful, Costa is set to roll out the programme to its other stores in Hull. The move builds on Costa’s partnership with food redistribution platform FareShare, which enables store managers to make donations directly to local charities on demand. The company also sends all organic waste from stores it manages directly for anaerobic digestion. Costa requires all stores to offer a 50% discount on food that can’t be sold the following day during the last hour of trading. Head of sustainability Victoria Moorhouse told Edie: “We are working hard to minimise food waste throughout Costa stores.”

Bear opens first site in partnership with fashion brand Jack Wills as it heads to London: Staffordshire-based cafe bar concept Bear has opened its first site in partnership with fashion brand Jack Wills. Bear has opened the venue within Jack Wills’ flagship store off Carnaby Street, Soho, and is its debut venue in London. Bear, which operates stores in Derby, Stone and Uttoxeter, brands itself as an “alternative to the traditional coffee house or bar” and harbours ambitions to open up to 30 sites in major cities and market towns in the next five years. The latest Bear site serves sustainably sourced speciality coffee, fresh baked goods, craft beer and cocktails. The collaboration is the result of a visit by Jack Wills global property director Neil Beaman to Bear’s Derby site early last year. Jack Wills said the move would create a fresh experience in-store to help the brand meet the changes of “modern consumers’ shopping habits and the ever-evolving high street”. Craig Bunting and Michael Thorley founded Bear in 2014, opening a debut site in their home town, Uttoxeter, in 2016.

Former Will Ricker executive chef launches tarte flambée concept in Old Street: Former Will Ricker executive chef Neil Witney has launched a tarte flambée concept in London’s Old Street. Flamboree specialises in the traditional dish from Alsace, eastern France, with a contemporary fast casual spin. Tarte flambée is similar to pizza but the dough has no yeast and is rolled thinly so the base comes out flakey and crisp after a quick blast in the restaurant’s gas-fired rotating deck oven, Hot Dinners reports. Dishes include Ma’Classique (smoky bacon lardons with crème fraiche, red onions, emmental and herb aioli) and Royal Levantine (roasted peppers and aubergines with crème fraiche, feta, tahini, pomegranate pearls and molasses, and za’atar). Flamboree also offers raclette, salad and desserts, while the drinks list includes wine from Alsace and Flamboree’s own range of beer brewed in conjunction with London’s Reunion Brewery.

Liverpool-based cafe concept opens second site: Liverpool-based cafe concept The Little Shoe has opened a second site in the city. Owner Paul Durand recently rebranded the business from its previous name of East Avenue Bakehouse, which has operated in Bold Street for five years. Now he has expanded the concept with an opening at St George’s Hall. The Little Shoe is based in what was formerly Heritage Cafe. It offers coffee and tea as well as cakes and light bites. Durand told the Liverpool Echo: “We jumped at the chance to bring a local independent business into a building that’s not only a major attraction in Liverpool but also the emotional heart of the city.” Alan Smith, general manager of St George’s Hall, added: “For a world-renowned neo-classical building of St George’s Hall’s stature, there was a desire to breathe new life into our food and drink offering. We have an impressive history that wows visitors – now we have a premier food service to match.”

Salisbury-based pub operator takes on second Ei Group site: Salisbury-based operator Ilia Klekovkin has taken on his second Ei Group pub in the city. Klekovkin has reopened The Cloisters in Catherine Street as The Bell & Crown. The pub has undergone a £130,000 refurbishment while retaining its traditional features, reports the Salisbury Journal. Klekovkin also operates the Haunch Of Venison in Minster Street, which he took on three years ago with Ei Group through its Ei Publican Partnerships division.

Manchester-based vegetarian restaurant closes two years after moving to larger site: Vegetarian restaurant concept 1847 has closed its site in Manchester less than two years after moving to a new venue in the city centre. Named after the year the Vegetarian Society was formed in the city, the original restaurant opened in Mosley Street in 2010 and closed in May 2017 as owner Damien Davenport searched for a bigger site. It relocated to a larger unit in King Street that September but Davenport is now leaving the business to move overseas with his partner, reports the Manchester Evening News. Announcing the closure on Facebook, he said: “2018 was an amazing year for me as my partner and I tied the knot. We also purchased a house overseas and we’re moving there to continue our next adventure. With everyone jumping on the veggie/vegan bandwagon, the time feels right and I’m proud 1847 led the way for meat-free dining. It has continued to trade well and the amount of positive feedback is overwhelming.” The Birmingham branch of 1847 will continue to trade as normal after being taken over by its head and sous chefs last summer.

Blackpool hotel let to Travelodge goes on market for almost £10m: A Blackpool hotel is on the market for close to £10m. Property consultancy Lambert Smith Hampton has been instructed to sell the 124-bedroom Blackpool South Shore Travelodge in Seasiders Way by joint receivers David Rubin & Partners. Purpose-built in 2008, the venue has a price tag of £9.68m. It is let to Travelodge with 14 years remaining on the lease, reports Insider Media. The hotel’s listing on the open market follows a 2017 High Court ruling that decreed the owner – Blackpool Football Club (Properties) – must divest assets to settle a £25m debt to former director Valeri Belokon.

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