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Tue 4th Aug 2020 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Nicholls – unless government fixes rent issue all good work will be lost: UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls has said unless the government fills in the last piece of the jigsaw – rent – all its good work so far will be lost. Speaking as part of Propel’s “navigating the coronavirus” series, Nicholls said there was active dialogue with the government regarding rent but it remained the “big unfinished business”. She said: “The nettle the government hasn’t been willing to grasp is rent. There’s still wishful thinking the market will deliver the solutions but there’s a growing realisation it won’t because of the accumulated liabilities that have built up and, to me, that remains the biggest single issue. You have to link it to jobs. The reason the government helped hospitality wasn’t because of hospitality, it was because of 3.2 million possible job losses from a sector that employs half its workforce from the 16 to 24 age group, the generation that’s going to miss out on opportunities. That’s what is in the government’s mind. We have to tell them unless they fill in the last piece of the jigsaw, all that good work will be lost and those jobs will be lost. I still think there’s work to do. There’s active dialogue but that remains the big unfinished business for me.” Nicholls said it was heartening to hear the government talk about longer-term reform of the rent market and property values. She said: “The government is not going to move away from the fundamental principle that the landlord and lessee need to negotiate a solution, but it’s heartening to hear it talk about longer-term reform of the rent market and property values, not just business rates but the Landlord and Tenant Act. The government has grasped the fact our regulatory structure isn’t fit for purpose. It’s about how you incentivise both parties to reach that agreement and I think the sticking point is accumulated debt. The other point I keep making to the government is as all these companies appoint advisers, it isn’t just costing those companies money, it’s also costing the government money. They have all deferred PAYE, VAT payments and tax, and The Crown isn’t a preferred creditor in all these things. We need to go that little bit further on this issue to prevent those redundancies and administrations, or as many as we can. That’s the shift we’ve had in The Treasury during the past four months. I think if they could do something a bit more, The Crown would also get the benefit of the money and we would protect more of those jobs.” Nicholls will share more of her thoughts in the video, which will be released on Tuesday (4 August). Meanwhile, readers can support independent sector journalism and get their news 12 hours early (at 7pm each night) with a Propel Premium subscription. It costs £395 plus VAT per annum for operators and £495 plus VAT for suppliers. Email anne.steele@propelinfo.com to sign up.

Industry News:

Sponsored message – Airship track and trace check-ins pass 500,000: Hospitality technology specialist Airship’s Trck.to track and trace solution has notched up 500,000 customer check-ins from 6,000 locations. Since track and trace guidelines were announced in June, Airship has been rolling out Trck.to in hundreds of hospitality outlets every day and refining the product to deliver a smooth journey for customers and operators. Airship chief executive Dan Brookman said: “With half a million customer check-ins, we think we are now the largest provider of a track and trace solution to the hospitality industry – and we’re still getting many new enquiries every week. If customers see an operator is taking track and trace seriously, they feel they’re in safe hands. It starts to rebuild consumer confidence, which is vital for the hospitality industry’s quick recovery.” When customers check-in on Trck.to, they’re encouraged to opt in to receive the operator’s marketing emails. On average, operators are seeing a 25% opt-in rate, with some as high as 50%. Operators already signed up to Trck.to include Costa Coffee, Pret A Manger, Leon, Caffe Nero, Mildreds, Mission Mars, Camden Town Brewery and Roadchef. Trck.to is charged on an initial £30 to £50 per location depending on estate size, with a small monthly fee – up to £5 per location – charged after 30 days. For further information, click here. If you have information you would like to feature in a sponsored message, email paul.charity@propelinfo.com
Airship is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

More than four-fifths of businesses plan to take part in Eat Out To Help out: More than four-fifths (84%) of businesses are planning to take part in the government’s Eat Out To Help Out scheme, which began on Monday (3 August). The UKHospitality survey also showed more than half intend to roll out the scheme across their estate. The trade body has also urged businesses to support the scheme, which gives customers a 50% discount on food and non-alcoholic drinks up to a maximum of £10 per diner, Monday to Wednesday throughout August. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “It is great to see so many businesses embrace the scheme. The chancellor recognised our sector had been hit the hardest of all and this scheme goes some way to delivering the support vulnerable hospitality businesses need. It is encouraging to see our sector being recognised for its importance and the Treasury delivering decisive support quickly. Confidence is going to be key to securing the future of our sector and keeping jobs safe. We hope as many people as possible take this one-off chance to have a fantastic experience at a significant discount and rediscover eating out throughout August.”
UKHospitality is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

Weekly like-for-like sales continue to rise, trade at 70% of last year’s level during July: Weekly like-for-like sales have continued to rise, with sites trading at 70% of last year’s levels during July. Data from S4labour, the online labour-scheduling management system from Catton Hospitality, showed like-for-like sales continue to gain momentum, up 9.4% last week on the previous week. It was the fourth week in a row sales have grown since restrictions were lifted on 4 July. Throughout July sites in London fared slightly worse than the rest of the country, with like-for-likes down 33%, compared with 29.6% down outside the capital. Food-led outlets in London were particularly badly hit – down 41.2% – with drink down 30.3% compared with the previous year. Nationally, there was a less defined difference between food (down 33.8%) and drink (down 27.5%). Although the week-on-week like-for-like trend has continually moved upwards through July, growth has slowed. The second week of July was up 21.5% on the first week, the third week was up 13.4% on the second week and there was a further 9.4% rise in like-for-likes on last week. Chief customer officer Sam Wignell argued there was likely to be supressed appetite from those waiting until the Eat Out To Help Out scheme kicked in this week. Wignall added: “We are seeing steadily rising sales, indicating public confidence in the safety of eating and drinking out is slowly returning to the sector. Once existing government support begins to ease, we’ll get a clearer picture of the health of hospitality.”
S4labour is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

Working from home costs London hospitality sector £2.3bn: About £2.3bn of spending has been lost or displaced from shops, pubs and restaurants near London’s employment hubs because of the pandemic, according to the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr). It also estimated the capital would lose out on roughly £178m a month of spending compared with pre-coronavirus levels as many people stopped working in London’s business centres. Google mobility data showed in April the number of people going to places of work on weekdays was down 77% compared with pre-coronavirus levels. By June, that figure was still 60% lower than before the pandemic. Senior economist Pablo Shah said: “We looked at the categories of lunch, after-work drinks, coffee/tea, snacks, stationery and other office equipment. Spend on those goods and services near a place of work are about £202 per person per month. Taking the Google data in addition to those spending statistics and scaling up to the number of employees in London prior to the crisis provides an estimate of the amount of money that isn’t being spent in shops and food and drink establishments near employment hubs in London during the coronavirus crisis. We calculate that figure to be £2.3bn between March and June.” Cebr said there was unlikely to be a full return to the office when the “new normal” emerged in 2021. It said it was likely for London that almost one-third (30%) of employees would still work from home on any one day. Cebr’s report coincides with the company returning to its own London office. Shah said when he returned to the office the city “looked like a ghost town”. The think-tank’s founder, Douglas McWilliams, has previous argued London attracts people because it is “fun”. However, Shah said: “London last week didn’t look very attractive to the talent it needs.”

Consumer confidence in sector remains strong but fast casual lags in satisfaction scores: Consumer confidence in the hospitality sector remains strong, with 95% feeling confident to return to venues, but the growing customer base is still seeking improvements, according to this week’s Customer Sentiment Tracker from Feed It Back and KAM Media. According to 7,395 customers who visited a hospitality venue in the past week, more than two-thirds (70%) would “definitely recommend” the venue to friends or family. The net promoter score (NPS) is creeping up week by week and is currently 59. Despite a high score overall, some segments are doing better than others in their customers’ eyes, with NPS varying wildly. The fast casual segment in particular has seen a considerable drop in NPS since lock-down (from 64 to 23 this week). Satisfaction ratings for fast casual operators have also fallen with cleanliness ratings dropping from 4.6 out of five pre-lock-down to 4.0 this week. Value for money has fallen from 4.4 to 3.6. The number-one complaint relating to service in fast casual alluded to “speed of service” (22%). Food accuracy came a close second (18%). Feed It Back chief executive Carlo Platia said: “Obviously these scores will differ by operator but this should be a call to action for venues that sit within this segment. Only by listening carefully to customers’ feedback and concerns on a regular basis will the industry be able to continue to grow.” Operators can trial the Feed It Back system for free and see how they compare with industry peers. To receive the tracker directly to your inbox, click here
Feed it Back and KAM Media are Propel BeatTheVirus campaign members

BBPA urges government to keep £1bn in grant scheme funding open to save pubs: The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has backed calls from the Local Government Association (LGA) to ring-fence £1bn in grant funding that would otherwise be clawed back by government. According to the LGA, the government has written to councils to say it will shut three funding schemes – the small business grants fund; the retail, hospitality and leisure business grants fund; and the discretionary grants fund – on Friday, 28 August. The BBPA is backing the LGA’s call for government to keep funding available so councils can redistribute unspent resources to support businesses and local economies through the coronavirus crisis. The BBPA said such a measure would enable councils to continue supporting businesses severely damaged by lock-down, particularly pubs with a rateable value above £51,000, which weren’t eligible for the retail, hospitality and leisure business grants fund. BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin said: “Our sector may have reopened but it’s far from out the woods. Our pubs still need all the support they can get and many are still waiting on it so withdrawing £1bn in possible funding is short sighted to say the least. The government should focus on supporting businesses such as pubs that can help the economies of communities grow, not withdrawing vital funding at a time when businesses need it most.”

Legal & General launches new leasing model: Legal & General (L&G) has said it is moving away from traditional retail leases in favour of flexible terms linked to store performance. The company is launching a new commercial leasing framework across its £4.5bn retail and leisure portfolio. Hospitality businesses will be offered four leasing structures featuring rent linked with turnover. The most flexible offer, aimed at emerging brands and new concepts, will be for three to 36 months. More established operators will be able to sign up to leases of between three and five years, with turnover rent and break clauses linked to store performance. The four core packages start with Flexi, which is aimed at startups for three to 36 months on turnover deals. Flexi packages are aimed at emerging brands, new concepts and seasonal businesses, which L&G said would reduce the initial cost, complexity and commitment length for small businesses while providing the most “innovative and exciting occupiers” for its customers. Operational is a turnover deal with an owner break linked to performance, with mid-term leases of three to five years. Operational is aimed at operators L&G wants to work with and remain important partners but for whom the traditional leasing model no longer fits. L&G said the option was a collaborative sharing of risk and reward between owner and occupier, driving “stronger performance through partnership and offering more involvement from owners to drive audience group”. Flagship is a traditional lease on a term of five-plus years for “resilient occupiers that are financially solid, guarantee footfall and prefer the traditional model”. L&G said the Flagship option was for occupiers that were happy with longer-term commitments with an offer “resilient and fit for the future”. Flexi Flagship combines the turnover flexibility of Flexi with the lease length of Flagship. This is for operators L&G wants to partner with but which need longer-term security. 

CACI – consumers placing greater value on community and sustainability: Consumers are placing greater value on community and sustainability and have shifted their perception of safety and enjoyment, according to a new report by CACI, the marketing, technology and data company. CACI said those views had “hardened” even as lock-down eased, suggesting “they are here to stay”. The company’s Adapting To The New Consumer Reality report identifies four trends in consumer behaviour. The first is consumer re-engagement, with UK consumer mobility remaining well below pre-lock-down levels, currently at an average of 62%, having recovered from a low of 32%. Mobility is unevenly distributed, with local towns and high streets reaching an engaged 70% of pre-lock-down footfall, mainly reflecting affluent groups in rural areas with access to independent shops. Meanwhile, city centres are still at 30% because of a lack of workers, tourists and shoppers, with visitors predominantly consisting of key workers in service sectors. The second trend regards consumer sentiment and attitudes to brands and places. CACI said sentiment towards brands had “undergone a transformation” during lock-down. Value for money, once the most important factor, had fallen behind safety, sustainability, green credentials, convenience, supply chain, localism and staff welfare. The third trend regards implications for consumer spend, with CACI’s July data showing signs of recovery. Compared with May, there has been a 12% increase in people returning to the office and a corresponding 8% reduction in those working from home, with affluent groups more likely to continue to do so long-term. There has also been an improvement in levels of disposable income, with 21% reporting a decline compared with 24% during lock-down. CACI said its spend forecasts anticipate a long-term shift to online spending, with an increase in comparison goods from 30% in 2019 to 40% in 2022 with a spike to 42% in 2020, reflecting the impact of lock-down. The fourth trend regards consumer behaviour, with lock-down having a “lasting impact”. CACI said a general aversion to public transport was leading to a rise in bicycle and car usage and sales, which it expects to increase further. CACI director Alex McCulloch said: “It used to be that affluence bought you freedom of mobility but it now buys you freedom of immobility. The most affluent live in rural areas and can more easily afford independent local shops, have houses with gardens, and can work from home. By contrast, the least affluent live in urban areas, are key workers in the service sector and, as a result, are more mobile and make up a greater proportion of city centre footfall than before. The new data also shows consumers are carefully balancing risk and reward, which is particularly affecting the retail and leisure industry, with most indoor and crowded spaces considered high risk and therefore not enjoyable. It’s a challenging time for all sectors but, as our report shows, understanding the consumer is key to re-engaging.”
CACI is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

Campaigners urge public to support independent restaurants during Eat Out To Help Out: Bristol Food Union and the Welsh Independent Restaurant Collective (WIRC) are urging people to support independent restaurants during the government’s Eat Out To Help Out scheme. The Eat Independent, Support Local campaign sees participating businesses in Wales and Bristol display stickers in their windows and use social media hashtags #EatIndieWales and #EatIndieBristol. Simon Wright, restaurateur and WIRC co-founder, said: “Independent restaurants are the heart and soul of towns and villages throughout Wales. They create jobs, bring people out to the high street, underpin tourism and support our farmers and producers. As restaurants in Wales begin reopening indoors, they face reduced capacity and increased costs from covid-proofing premises and a huge dent in consumer confidence. That’s on top of the hit they’ve taken through lock-down. Customers choosing to use Eat Out To Help Out at independent businesses will direct government support where it’s needed most – protecting jobs in local economies.” Bristol Food Union founder Aine Morris said: “While we welcome the government’s support of the hospitality industry, it leaves an unpleasant taste to realise the biggest beneficiaries of the scheme will be multinational fast food chains. These businesses can afford to ride out the economic downturn, while many of the smaller independents can’t. Bristol’s food community did an exceptional job of keeping the city fed during lock-down, we hope the public will now lend its support by using their discount with participating independents as much as possible.”

Yapster makes mobile messaging service free permanently: Yapster, the mobile communications platform for hospitality teams, has announced three new pricing plans for its customers, including a free option (no set-up or monthly costs) for organisations requiring fewer than 200 profiles. Above the free plan, paid options are available for organisations that need integrations to industry platforms such as CPL, Feed It Back, Flow, Fourth, Kobas, Perkbox, Polaris, Reward Gateway, S4, TipJar, Trail and Wireless Social. Yapster’s top plan includes KPI Gamification, which was co-designed with the Revere division of Marston’s to deliver a 7% like-for-like sales increase of coffee, desserts and second drinks. This premium feature enables in-app “match play” between sites using Yapster, with sales data presented as a scoreboard for fun, service and sales motivation. Yapster co-founder and chief executive Rob Liddiard said: “The best reputations are often made in the worst times. While the economy might be shrinking now, there will never be a better time to lay new foundations for growth.” For more information, click here
Yapster is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

Company News:

Tony Macaroni reveals £50m expansion plans for a restaurant in every UK town and city: Scottish restaurant company Tony Macaroni is to expand its business model to create franchises in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Sep Marini, boss of the Glasgow-based, family-run chain of Italian restaurants, said his ambitious plans could see £50m invested in the hospitality sector during the next three years, creating 2,000 jobs and 100 restaurants, with a Tony Macaroni restaurant in “every UK town and city”. Part of the Viva Italia Group, Tony Macaroni opened its first restaurant in 2007 and now has 19 venues. It employs about 500 staff in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Marini said: “The next year to 18 months will be exciting for everyone at Tony Macaroni. We are perfectly positioned to come out of the covid-19 storm stronger and better than ever. Our restaurants have already seen pleasing levels of trade since lock-down eased because of the strength of our brand and quality of food and service. Ultimately, I want the brand to become a prized fixture in every city and large town across the UK. While we’ll continue to open more restaurants ourselves across Scotland the time is right for us to offer experienced franchise operators with the best locations in England, Wales and Northern Ireland the chance to bring this much-loved brand into their portfolios. Tony Macaroni has embraced the trend for takeaway and delivery, which can add up to 20% incremental sales. We have optimised our menus to ensure customers enjoy the same quality of food through takeaway as they would in our restaurants.”

Former Jamie’s Italian chief executive to lead Swoon Gelato: Simon Blagden, who was one of the main driving forces behind the launch and success of Jamie’s Italian, is to lead the next stage in the development of Swoon Gelato as chief executive, Propel has learned. The concept has sites in Bath, Bristol and Oxford and is the brainchild of founders Bruno Forte and Pat Powell. It’s thought Blagden will help plan and lead Swoon Gelato through its next stage of growth, which will include further expansion. He joined Jamie’s Italian as managing director in 2008 from PizzaExpress and spearheaded the growth and development of Jamie Oliver’s brand before stepping down in October 2017. Last year he reunited with Jules Hunt, former executive chef of Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group, to launch Backyard Chicken in Bristol. It’s understood the chicken-led restaurant concept was performing well before the pandemic but Blagden and Hunt have decided to keep the business closed as they wait for students to return to nearby Bristol University, which is a big part of the site’s consumer base.

Red’s True Barbecue launches site featuring takeaway model: Tokyo Industries-owned smokehouse brand Red’s True Barbecue has launched a site in Greater Manchester featuring a new takeaway model, Propel has learned. The business, which is led by James Douglas and Scott Munro, has opened the site for takeaway and delivery, available through UberEats and Deliveroo, in Wilmslow Road, Fallowfield. The group’s other sites are in Leeds, Manchester, Nottingham, Leicester and Headingley. Tokyo Industries, the bar and nightclub operator led by Aaron Mellor, acquired Red’s out of administration last summer, with initial plans to expand the brand into the UK festival and international markets.

Mission Mars lines up sixth Rudy’s, in Sale: Neapolitan pizza concept Rudy’s, which is owned by Mission Mars, has lined up its sixth site, in Sale, Greater Manchester. The company has submitted a licensing application to Trafford Council to open the premises in Northcote Road. The restaurant will have 50 seats in the main restaurant, 12 outside under a traditional canopy and 20 covers behind the open kitchen. Mission Mars chief executive Roy Ellis told Propel: “We are going back to our roots a bit here with a local pizzeria. Ancoats, the original Rudy’s, was a 2,300 square foot venue with 30 covers in the main restaurant and an overflow in the back area of about 22 seats plus external seating for 12. In Sale we aim to create something similar.” Ellis said if planning and licensing can be secured quickly, it aims to have the site open before Christmas. Rudy’s makes its dough on-site each day, taking 24 hours to double ferment and 60 seconds to cook. It also operates sites in Manchester’s Peter Street, Birmingham, Liverpool and Leeds.

Patisserie Valerie starts reopening estate for dine-in: Patisserie Valerie, which is backed by Irish private equity firm Causeway Capital, has started reopening its estate for dine-in. The circa 70-strong company has reopened 20 sites, including in Bromley, Cambridge, Leicester Square, Nottingham, Victoria and Windsor, for full table service as well as click and collect. A further 15 sites are set to reopen this week, including those in Belfast, Exeter, Edinburgh, Milton Keynes and Sheffield. The group is also taking part in the government’s Eat Out To Help Out scheme during August. Earlier this year, Causeway merged Patisserie Valerie and Bakers + Baristas to create a high-quality patisserie and coffee group with more than 125 locations in the UK and Ireland. The new group is led by group chief executive James Fleming. Causeway Capital said the merger would enable both businesses to benefit from shared baking, coffee and customer service resources as well as new product development.  

The Clink launches takeaway service: The Clink, the charity that aims to reduce reoffending by training and qualifying prisoners for employment as chefs on release, has launched a takeaway service. Clink@Home is available within a five-mile radius of Brixton prison, which includes Battersea, Camberwell, Crystal Palace, Fulham, Mayfair, Mitcham, Putney and Westminster. Orders can be placed for deliveries each Wednesday, Thursday and Friday between 10am and 5pm. A two-hour delivery slot will be confirmed on the day. The Clink operates restaurants in four prisons in England and Wales but is currently unable to open its restaurants to the public because of coronavirus-related restrictions across the prison network. The charity said the new service would ensure it was able to continue its training programme. The Clink chief executive Chris Moore said: “The menu has been designed by our chef trainers at Brixton so customers can heat and serve freshly prepared dishes at home. Prepared in our kitchens at The Clink Brixton, our chef trainers are supported by our students in training to create the menu, allowing us to help them continue their work towards their City and Guilds National Vocational qualifications. Our team at Brixton has been amazing, providing takeaway meals for HMP Brixton staff on duty during lock-down and also a take-home facility for them via our Clink & Collect service. They all look forward to serving the public again through this initiative.”

Jamie Oliver Group achieves B Corp certification: The Jamie Oliver Group has been certificated as a B Corporation (B Corp). The certification is issued by not-for-profit organisation B Lab and covers governance, workers, community, environment and customers. Jamie Oliver Group was assessed and audited against rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. The company said the recognition gave it the “ideal framework” to pursue its campaign goal of halving childhood obesity by 2030. Oliver said: “I have always believed businesses can and must be a key driver for positive change and our communities, audiences and customers rightfully expect us to lead by example.” Jamie Oliver Group chief executive Paul Hunt added: “We have always believed doing good is good business and commercial success can be combined with making a meaningful impact on our communities and industry as a whole. We’re thrilled to achieve B-Corp certification at the first attempt and have an even stronger framework to deliver our vision for a business that champions best practice across everything we do.”

Operators sign up for Rusholme scheme: Operators including Ecco Pizzeria and Heavenly Desserts have signed up to open at the San Court scheme in Rusholme, Greater Manchester. San Court was built by Eamar Developments UK in 2019 and comprises 9,900 square feet of retail space across eight units, alongside 54 residential apartments. The latest lettings, which total 2,211 square feet, are to Neapolitan pizza restaurant Ecco Pizzeria, which has a site in Headingley, and artisan dessert restaurant Heavenly Desserts, which operates circa 25 stores. They join Halal Smokehouse in signing up for the scheme. It’s also thought burger concept Iceburg, which has a site in Preston, is in talks to take the final food and beverage unit at the scheme.

Indian chef Sanjeev Kapoor opens debut UK site: Indian chef Sanjeev Kapoor has opened his debut UK restaurant. Kapoor, who has his own television channel in India and a number of restaurants, has brought his Yellow Chilli restaurant group to Wembley, north London. The venue has opened at Wembley Central Shopping Centre. The menu, based on Kapoor’s extensive travels across India, includes banana leaf salmon “pollichathu” and Hadippa paneer tikka, reports Hot Dinners. 

Homeslice launches cupboard sauce range: London-based better pizza brand Homeslice has launched a cupboard sauce range. The company, founded by Mark and Alan Wogan, has developed a collection of five sauces. As well as the tomato sauce used on all its pizzas the range comprises jalapeño salsa, truffle creme fraiche, soy truffle glaze and signature chilli oil. The sauces are available to purchase in the brand’s restaurants and online. Last month Homeslice launched a “take and bake” delivery service within the M25, meaning customers can order pizzas to cook at home. Homeslice’s traditional 20-inch pizzas are still available for eat-in, delivery and collection from its sites in Shoreditch, Marylebone, City and White City. No reopening dates have been confirmed for its sites in Covent Garden and Fitzrovia.

Events company BeSixth bids to build live music and cultural centre in Manchester: BeSixth, the events company known for the Pickle Factory and Oval Space in east London, has kick-started plans to build a live music, events and entertainment centre in Manchester. Canvas Manchester would be part of Circle Square, a joint venture between Bruntwood SciTech and Vita Group to create a neighbourhood for the city’s entrepreneurial, academic and creative communities. Canvas Manchester’s three distinctive areas – Canvas Kitchen, Canvas Club and Canvas Events – would also provide space for the community to socialise, meet, work, eat and drink. Canvas Kitchen would be a 100-cover, ground-floor restaurant open daily from 7am to 4am, whereas Canvas Club lounge would be an “affordable take” on a private members’ club. Canvas Events would be an underground, 400-capacity live music and events space focusing on health and well-being sessions, workshops and a bi-weekly club and gig programme. Canvas Manchester would be led by a team that has launched or operated venues including Hammersmith Apollo, Shepherd’s Bush Empire, Brixton Academy, G-A-Y Manchester and Ritz Manchester. The project is BeSixth’s first outside London and, subject to planning permission, would open in 2021. BeSixth chief executive Gavin Aldrich said: “We will be in the heart of a thriving city centre neighbourhood that brings together people from all walks of life – students, shoppers, business owners, academics. It’s this community that makes us confident Circle Square will be the perfect destination to launch Canvas Manchester.” Once complete, Circle Square will offer 1,700 homes, 1.2 million square feet of workspace and more than 100,000 square feet of retail and leisure space, including restaurants, bars and pavement cafes centred around a new park. 

Lyle’s and Flor founders reveal reopening plans: James Lowe and John Ogier, who are behind Michelin-starred Lyle’s, wine bar and bakery Flor, and New York-style pizzeria ASAP Pizza, have announced reopening plans for their restaurants. Lyle’s, the modern British restaurant based in Shoreditch, will reopen from Wednesday, 12 August. The restaurant, which will offer daily changing menus, will take part in the government’s Eat Out To Help Out scheme. Flor will continue to operate in its current model throughout the summer, opening on Fridays and Saturdays selling bread, pastries, wine and soft-serve ice cream for takeaway only. News on Flor’s reopening for sit-down will be revealed at the end of the summer. ASAP Pizza, currently based in the Flor kitchen, will continue to serve its New York-style sourdough pizza between Wednesday and Sunday. Diners can now “eat in”, with outdoor dining available in the evenings and all day on Sundays. There are also daily specials, salads and soft-serve ice cream. ASAP Pizza will continue its takeaway service via Flor’s hatch and has launched its own direct delivery service. It will also continue to operate via Deliveroo.

Adam Byatt reopens Clapham venues: Michelin-starred chef Adam Byatt has reopened Trinity, Upstairs At Trinity and Bistro Union, which are all in Clapham, London. A spokeswoman said the team had kept “connected and busy” during lock-down with dish testing and training. A classics menu has been introduced at Trinity featuring a selection of the most popular dishes at the Michelin-starred restaurant over the years. Dishes include Cornish mackerel, almond gazpacho and salted caramel custard tart. The menu is available for lunch and dinner. Upstairs At Trinity will also be available for private dining and will host Sunday Lunch Club, which will relaunch on 9 August. Byatt’s Trinity At Home service has seen the chef and his team cater in customers’ homes privately for years and the service is now taking bookings following increased demand. Bistro Union is a “quintessentially British neighbourhood bistro” in Abbeville Village, Clapham. Tables at all three venues have been spaced in accordance to guidance, with increased measures introduced to ensure safety.

Hollywood Bowl to open second Puttstars site, in Rochdale this week: Hollywood Bowl Group, the UK’s largest ten-pin bowling operator, is to open a second site for its mini-golf concept Puttstars. The company has invested £2.5m in the venue, which will launch at the Rochdale Riverside development on Friday (7 August), creating 25 jobs. It will feature three interactive nine-hole courses. Scores are digitally calculated using high-tech screens at each hole. As well as mini-golf, there will be an amusement area alongside a bar and diner offering pizza, hotdogs and shakes. The centre will have extensive cleaning and social distancing measures in place. All games will be limited to control capacity, while amusement machines and bar and diner seating will be spaced out throughout the venue. Hollywood Bowl Group opened its debut Puttstars site earlier this year, in Leeds.

Lucky Penny unveils first F&B experience at Wirral development: Liverpool-based hospitality consultancy Lucky Penny has unveiled the first food and drink experience at the redevelopment of Hoylake Town Hall in Wirral. The multimillion-pound redesign of the historic building will include a cinema and 18 creative studio and retail spaces for artists and craft workers following a grant from the government’s Coastal Community Fund. Lucky Penny, which was founded by Steven Burgess and Josh Moore, will operate three offerings at the £3.64m Beacon Arts Village scheme – a restaurant, bar and cafe bistro in the central courtyard. The cafe will be called Beldi, offering a “fresh and buzzy take” on eastern Mediterranean and North African cuisine with Levantine influences. The menu is still being developed but dishes are likely to include fried chickpea-battered chicken with sesame honey, Beirut hot sauce and garlic tahini; and Lebanese-cured salmon with mint and rose pickles. Beldi will also offer its own blends of homemade soda alongside cocktails, mocktails and locally brewed beer. Burgess said: “With Beldi we’re creating something unavailable in the area that will complement the other offers in the building and the high street to further boost Hoylake’s growing appeal. In time, we hope to be able to use produce provided by growers from local allotments to keep our spend hyper local, help us be more self-sufficient and engender a genuine sense of community ownership.”

Heineken cautious on outlook after June pick-up, eponymous brand sees double-digit UK growth: Heineken saw a gradual recovery in its business after global coronavirus lock-downs in April but uncertainty over the future impact of the pandemic left it unable to give a forecast for the rest of the year. The company said sales of its eponymous brand grew by double digits in the UK, while its low and no-alcohol portfolio also saw particularly strong growth. In Europe, off-trade beer volume grew in the mid-teens and market share increased in key markets. However, the company said given its strong position in the on-trade and the structural differences between channels, operating profit was disproportionally affected as pubs and bars were closed for a large part of the second quarter. Heineken chief executive Dolf van den Brink said overall business had improved to June but this was partly due to restocking, particularly in territories such as Mexico, its largest market, where brewing was forced to halt in April and May. The company said Europe, Mexico and South Africa had led the sales decline, while its large Vietnam market fared better. South Africa has reinstated an alcohol ban, while Mexico, the country with the world’s third-largest number of coronavirus fatalities, had tighter lock-downs in some regions. The company issued preliminary first-half results in mid-July showing it sold 11.5% less beer compared with the previous year and suffered a sharp drop in revenue as consumers opted for cheaper brews. Heineken’s operating profit fell by about half and the brewer took £493m of impairments, largely for its operations in Papua New Guinea and Jamaica, resulting in an overall net loss of circa £270m.

James Knappett to launch at-home service, expands Kitchen Table into Bubbledogs space: Chef patron James Knappett is to launch his debut at-home delivery service through his two Michelin-starred London restaurant Kitchen Table. Launching on Wednesday (5 August), the & Home boxes will come with either a seven or 11-course fine-dining menu plus add-ons such as wine and grower Champagne selected by Knappett’s wife, Sandia Chang. The boxes use the same suppliers as Kitchen Table and offer accessible tasting menus to be finished at home. The monthly-changing menus will be available across London and include dishes such as hand-dived Orkney Island scallops with toasted hazelnut and herb butter; burrata from Puglia with English cherries and wild fig leaf oil; and baked cheesecake with extra virgin olive oil and summer berry compote. Boxes will be delivered on a Friday, with orders placed before midnight the previous Sunday. In a message to customers, Knappett wrote: “Thank you for inviting us into your home. Although we’re currently unable to host you at Kitchen Table, Sandia and I hope to continue doing what we love – celebrating exceptional produce and sharing good food and wine.” Meanwhile, Knappett is expanding Kitchen Table to take over the space occupied by his champagne and hotdogs concept Bubbledogs. A new lounge and bar will complement existing counter dining to create two spaces. Bubbledogs will move online and evolve into Bubbleshop By Sandia Chang, offering grower Champagne.

DW Sports aims to restructure business to preserve as many gyms as possible after going into administration: Retail and fitness group DW Sports has gone into administration but plans to restructure the business to try to preserve as many of its 73 gyms as possible. About 1,700 jobs are at risk at the company, which also operates 75 retail sites in the UK. Last month the company announced plans to close 25 of its stores. The retail business will be wound down, while its website has already been taken down. Chief executive Martin Long said: “The decision to appoint administrators hasn’t been taken lightly but will give us the best chance to protect viable parts of the business, return them to profitability and secure as many jobs as possible. Having exhausted all other available options for the business, we firmly believe this process can be a platform to restructure the business and preserve many of our gyms for our members and also protect the maximum number of jobs possible for our team members.” Sister company Fitness First will continue to operate as a separate company and is unaffected by the administration. DW Sports Fitness was founded in March 2009 when former Wigan Athletic FC owner Dave Whelan purchased the 50 JJB Sports Fitness Clubs and the attached retail stores for £83.4m.

Looping Group acquires Staffordshire theme park out of administration: Looping Group, which owns 15 parks in Europe including West Midlands Safari Park and Pleasurewood Hills in the UK, has acquired Drayton Manor Theme Park out of administration. Mike Denny and Peter Dickens, of PwC, were appointed joint administrators of the group operating the Staffordshire theme park, which features Thomas The Tank Engine-themed Thomas Land. The transaction includes all the business and assets of the group, with 599 employees transferring to the new business. Denny said: “In February, Storm Dennis forced the park to close while its planned reopening in March was delayed due to covid-19. These factors combined exacerbated cash flow pressures on the group. We are delighted to have helped secure a sale that preserves 599 jobs and ensures the survival of a much-loved leisure park.” Laurent Bruloy, chief executive of Looping Group, said: “We are thrilled and proud to welcome Drayton Manor Park and its talented team to our group. I would like to commend the Bryan family which, over three generations, has developed the park. The park’s offering is the perfect fit, with its extensive range of award-winning rides and attractions including Europe’s only Thomas Land.”

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