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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Fri 14th Aug 2020 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Greene King becomes UK’s largest takeaway pub business: Brewer and retailer Greene King has introduced food and drink takeaway across its food-led managed pub estate, which makes it the UK’s largest pub takeaway business. The move follows regional trials of takeaway and delivery from select Greene King pubs since June and means customers at the majority of Greene King’s 1,700 managed pubs will have the option of enjoying pub food and drink at home. More than 1,400 food-led managed pubs have reopened and now offer a takeaway service. All pubs offering takeaway will pass on the VAT cut to give a full 20% discount on normal prices. In addition, about 400 of the pubs are providing home delivery services via Deliveroo or Just Eat. Customers are able to order pub favourites such as fish and chips, steak pie, and hunter’s chicken alongside packaged beer, wine and soft drinks. Takeaway dishes will be available through the Greene King app or by calling the pub, with all sites operating card payment as part of Greene King’s new health and safety guidelines. Matt Todd, group procurement and supply chain director, said: “Our purchasing habits have changed over the past few months and, while nothing replicates the experience of being with friends and family in a pub setting, for many customers, particularly if they have been shielding, it may take time to build confidence to return to the pub. By offering takeaway food and drink across the majority of our estate, customers will have the choice of visiting their local pub as before or enjoying the pub experience at home.”

Industry News:

Mark Wingett to look at test and trace and ongoing impact of Eat Out To Help Out in latest Premium column: Propel insights editor Mark Wingett will look at some of the key issues from this week – including test and trace and the ongoing impact of the government’s Eat Out To Help Out scheme – as part of this week’s Premium column, which will be sent to subscribers on Friday (14 August) at 5pm. He will also explore what is happening at Prezzo. Martin Wolstencroft, co-founder and chief executive of Arc Inspirations, will discuss striking the right balance between ensuring venues are safe to work in and visit while offering a welcoming and enjoyable experience. Premium Diary will also rummage about in the sector’s rumour mill. Propel Premium subscribers also receive their morning newsletter 11 hours early, at 7pm the evening before our 6am send-out, discounts to attend Propel conferences and events, and regular columns from Mark Wingett. Subscribers also receive access to our database of multi-site companies, which has grown to 1,600 businesses. It costs £395 plus VAT per annum for operators and £495 plus VAT for suppliers. Email anne.steele@propelinfo.com to sign up.

Sales continue to surge on back of Eat Out To Help Out, food revenue rises by one-third since introduction: Sales have continued to surge on the back of the government’s Eat Out To Help Out scheme, with food revenue up by one-third following its introduction. Sales data from S4labour, the online labour-scheduling management system from Catton Hospitality, showed on Monday to Wednesday this week overall sales were up 67.8% on the week before the scheme was introduced. This was only slightly down on the first week’s 70.9% growth. Meanwhile, data from CGA’s volume pool of 7,000 managed outlets showed on the first day of the initiative – Monday, 3 August – food sales were 100% up on the previous Monday, with similar surges of 95% and 106% on the following two days. Sales fell during the next four days when the discounts didn’t apply, leaving the week-on-week increase at 31%. CGA’s latest Consumer Pulse survey revealed the initiative has brought a wave of consumers back to restaurants – more than one-quarter (27%) of British adults had used the scheme by Tuesday (11 August). Almost one-third (31%) said they had yet to use the scheme but were likely to do so before the end of August. Almost two-fifths (39%) of those who have used Eat Out To Help Out were making their first visit to the sector since lock-down ended. Of those who have still to eat or drink out, more than one-quarter (26%) said they were likely to make use of the scheme before it ends. More than half (52%) of those who had used the scheme said the experience made them feel more confident about going out in the near future, while 45% said their confidence was unaffected. Almost three-fifths (57%) of consumers who plan to use the scheme said they would do so at least weekly, with 17% saying they would use it only once. The survey showed more than one-quarter (26%) of adults would be less likely to eat out at weekends having made use of the scheme but more than half (54%) said their frequency would be unaffected and 20% would be more likely. S4labour chief product officer Richard Hartley said: “This has been an excellent initiative. It has given consumers the confidence to head out and enjoy themselves. It has taken a little bit away from the Thursday to Sunday trade but overall has had a positive net impact.”
S4labour is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

CACI – work from home will have detrimental effect on UK as a whole, not just London: The trend of working from home will have a detrimental effect on the UK as a whole, not just London, according to CACI, the marketing, technology and data company. According to recent research by Morgan Stanley, only about one-third of UK workers have returned to their offices. Londoners in particular are far more likely to still be working five days a week from home than those with similar jobs in other European capitals.  This is despite the government dropping its work from home advice earlier this month. Such consumer behaviour has a significant impact on retail and F&B spend in the capital. While London accounts for 18% of all retail and F&B spend in the UK, more than one-third (33%) of worker spend in the country is from people working in London. This equates to more than £3bn a year. Six of the top ten locations for worker spend in the UK are in the capital, while more than half the top 50 worker spend locations are in London. The London locations in the top 50 are also more heavily reliant on worker spend than counterparts across the country. The average worker spend per location outside London is £64m or 24% of total spend. In the capital, that figure rises to £73m and 41% respectively. CACI director Alex McCulloch said: “Our analysis quantifies the value of workers to the capital and the detrimental impact working from home is having on London’s economy. While retail sales are on the increase nationally, the UK’s long-standing retail and F&B powerhouse is lagging behind by some margin. Without a significant return to offices in the capital, operators and landlords alike face an uncertain future that will have a detrimental effect on the UK as a whole.” Jace Tyrrell, chief executive of New West End Company, which represents West End businesses, said: “It is crucial we support getting our office workers back safely – but en masse. While the covid-19 crisis has changed how the West End operates, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be operating at all.” CACI launched its new performance lease model to aid the retail sector earlier this month.
CACI is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

Sadiq Khan urges government to save central London from covid storm: London mayor Sadiq Khan is urging Boris Johnson to save the West End as the pandemic leaves central London businesses facing a “perfect storm”. In his letter to Johnson, Khan set out eight steps to protect the West End’s future with the area on course to lose one-third of its retail and hospitality workforce and more than £5bn in sales by the end of the year, according to estimates. Khan has asked the government to confirm an extension to the business rates holiday, which is due to end in March, or a guarantee of a discount for central London businesses for the next year. He called for a direct financial aid scheme for hospitality, retail, leisure and cultural businesses in central London and an extension to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for those sectors that would be be unable to operate on a financially sustainable level under continued social distancing requirements. Khan said an overhaul of the business rates system was needed to “create a fair playing field between physical and online retail”, along with the introduction of a support scheme for small and medium-sized businesses that were struggling to meet their rent bills. He added investment should be prioritised in NHS Test and Trace, with more support for hospitality businesses to implement systems. As well as extending support for freelancers and the self-employed, Khan also called on the government to explore other measures that might increase public confidence, such as making face coverings compulsory in the busiest public spaces and commissioning scientific research into the efficacy of such measures. Khan told the Evening Standard: “For decades central London has been the economic engine of the UK, a cultural powerhouse and gateway for global tourism – but now it faces a real existential threat from the covid-19 pandemic. As mayor I’m doing all within my powers to help but, in the face of a perfect economic storm, our businesses need urgent and sustained support from government to ensure they can survive this pandemic.”

More than 2,500 hospitality venues receive AA’s Covid Confident accreditation: The AA has said more than 2,500 hospitality venues have been awarded its Covid Confident accreditation. The accreditation indicates a venue has put the necessary risk assessments, safety measures and staff training in place in line with government and UKHospitality guidelines. The scheme has been backed by more than 20 industry bodies. The list includes 449 hotels, 304 restaurants and 74 pubs as well as self-catering properties and campsites. Devon, Cornwall and North Yorkshire emerged as the counties with the most accredited sites so far, followed by Somerset, Northumberland and Cumbria. The AA said its assessment scheme had been designed to support the hospitality industry in re-establishing and rebuilding consumer confidence. AA Media managing director Simon Numphud said: “It’s clear the hospitality sector is showing incredible resilience, creativity and care in ensuring it is doing all it can to protect staff and customers from covid-19 while striving to rebuild businesses.”

Irish vintners urge funding for wet-led pub operators amid fears of further reopening delay: The Licensed Vintners Association and the Vintners Federation of Ireland have called for urgent funding for operators of wet-led pubs in the country amid fears of a further delay in them being allowed to reopen. In early August the government announced pubs that didn’t serve food had to remain closed at least until Monday, 31 August  – meaning 3,500 pubs employing 25,000 people across the country would have been unable to trade for at least 168 days. It was the second time in three weeks the reopening had been delayed. There is growing scepticism in the industry that wet-led pubs will be allowed to open at the end of the month given the recent uptick in coronavirus cases and the government prioritising reopening schools. With that in mind, the vintners have called for measures that offer “meaningful support” in the form of grants to operators rather than loans or cuts in indirect tax. They are also calling for a “pub support package”, which would provide direct financial aid to pubs that were closed by order of the government. This grant would be calculated on a pro-rata weekly basis. The vintners groups are also calling for the maintenance of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment and Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme at current rates for all closed pubs until they reopen.

Delivery and takeaway gain most from changes in consumer spending behaviour: Delivery services have been the main beneficiaries of changes in consumer behaviour caused by lock-down, with a 44.4% increase in share of total dining spend, according to data from purchase intelligence platform Cardlytics. Direct to consumer food and drink brands (meal kits and alcohol subscriptions) also benefited from the shift, seeing a 5% increase in share. Pre-lock-down pubs and casual dining make up one-quarter of total dining spend in normal times but during lock-down this plummeted to 1%. Quick serve restaurants fared better, with the share of total dining spend dropping 19%, with some chains able to pivot towards takeaway services. 

US tariff decision on UK beer imports a welcome relief, says BBPA: The US decision not to place tariffs on beer imported from the UK will help the British beer industry recover from the coronavirus crisis, the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has said. The US Trade Representative was considering revising the retaliatory tariffs it has placed on various goods imported from EU countries to include beer made from malt. However, while tariffs will remain on other products such as scotch, beer will continue to be excluded. BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin said: “The decision by the US not to put tariffs on beer is a welcome relief for Britain’s brewers. Our world-class brewers send more beer to the US than to all the non-EU nations combined, worth £107m alone. Due to the fallout they face from the covid-19 lock-down and the impact it has had on domestic beer sales, exports like those to the US will be crucial for Britain’s brewers as they start to recover trade. This is a positive signal of intent from the US for a good future trading relationship with UK brewers, enabling further growth for them in the US market.”

Company News:

Byron eyes consolidation as it ramps up dark kitchens presence: Better burger brand Byron is set to explore consolidation opportunities in the sector, Propel has learned. Earlier this month Byron was sold via pre-pack administration to investment vehicle Calveton UK under newly formed company Famously Proper. Propel understands with the backing of new owner Calveton UK, the Simon Wilkinson-led brand will initially focus on reopening its circa 20-strong estate but will also examine consolidation possibilities, which could include long-time rival Gourmet Burger Kitchen. It’s understood the company will reopen the majority of its estate from Thursday, 27 August. It’s thought to be in negotiations regarding a handful of sites, which would make up its final estate. At the same time the new company is expected to ramp up its delivery strategy. Pre-covid the company’s delivery segment was understood to be posting ahead of a 10% like-for-like revenue. As part of the ramp up, the business is set to open its first dark kitchen sites in London this month, with Foodstars and Karma Kitchen. It’s thought the company will initially look to open five dark kitchens and may also explore the further roll-out of fledgling virtual brand Cheese Louise and smaller delivery/collection hub sites. Propel also understands the company intends to further streamline the brand’s menu and reinforce its core food proposition. As part of the new plans, it is believed Wilkinson has cut the central overheads to less than £2m, a far cry from the figure he inherited – thought to be north of £6m. It’s thought the company may dispense with its head office in favour of its restaurants, shared office space or home working. Calveton is backed by Sandeep Vyas and Haseeb Aziz and was previously owned by Style Group Brands, which included the Jacques Vert brand. Vyas, who was formerly director of international operations at Yum! Brands, has become Byron’s new chairman. The deal saw the stake in the company belonging to current backer Three Hills Capital cut to about 30% and its founder Mauro Moretti step down as chairman.

Bulk of Bistrot Pierre business cost £7.48m: The bulk of the Bistrot Pierre business, which was acquired last month by a new company through a pre-pack administration, was secured for a total consideration of £7.48m, Propel has learned. Bistrot Pierre 1994 is named after the year the original company was founded and is backed by the brand’s chairman, John Derkach, chief executive Nick White, existing backer Livingbridge and NatWest. The new company acquired 19 of the 25 Bistrot Pierre sites – in the north, Midlands, Wales and South Coast – with the group’s sites in Bath, Cardiff, Harrogate, Leicester, Middlesbrough and Sheffield closing. The new company fought off competition from three other bidders, including Luke Johnson, to acquire the business, which at the date of administration owed circa £13.7m to NatWest. At the same time it owed about £11m in intercompany loans. For the year to 30 June 2020, Ebitda stood at £600,000 down from £2.5m the previous year and the company was forecasting a cash funding requirement of between £1.7m and £3m from July 2020 to reopen restaurants and continue to trade on a solvent basis. The sales process, which was overseen by KPMG, led to four parties submitting final offers, all of them for select trade and assets on an insolvent pre­pack basis. One was for the trade and assets of the company for £4.5m, structured as £3.5m cash on completion and £1m consideration in the form of a secured loan with the lender in lieu of cash consideration. An alternative offer of £6.5m was made by the same party, structured as £2m cash on completion and £4.5m consideration in the form of a secured loan with the lender in lieu of cash consideration. The second party’s offer was for the trade and assets of the company for £6.5m, structured as £500,000 cash on completion and £6m consideration in the form of a secured loan with the lender in lieu of cash consideration. The third party’s offer was for the trade and assets of the company for £300,000 cash on completion. Bistrot Pierre 1994’s accepted offer was for a pre-packaged sale of select trade and assets of the company for a total consideration of £7.48m. Propel understands TriSpan and RCapital also ran the rule over the business. Livingbridge invested £9.8m in Bistrot Pierre in 2015.

GBK continues to explore options, revenue in July at 49% of last year: South Africa-based Famous Brands has said the board of its better burger brand Gourmet Burger Kitchen (GBK) is continuing to explore all options to ensure the long-term sustainability of the business in the wake of the severe impact of trading restrictions and the slow phased restart of the UK economy. The business is reviewing its options with the help of Deloitte after Famous Brands made the decision earlier this year to provide no further financial assistance to GBK. Famous Brands said deliberations in respect of the matter were still under way. It also reported that of the 62 GBK stores in the UK, 37 were open and offering full service – delivery, collect and dine-in. Of its five stores in Ireland, one is open for full service. The company said: “Under the current prescribed trading restrictions, management is pleased to report our customers have responded positively to the reopening of our restaurants within the government guidelines. The board of GBK is satisfied with the operational performance of the stores that are currently trading.” In a market update issued on 24 July, the company announced 27 GBK restaurants in the UK were open for delivery and collection, of which nine were trialling seated dining. On this basis, it was forecast that for the month of July, under trading restrictions in effect at that time, GBK would generate 49% of the revenue earned in the prior comparable period. Famous Brands said: “It is pleasing to report this was accomplished. This creditable performance is a tribute to the resilience and resourcefulness of our teams. The business remains singularly focused on navigating its recovery from the impact of the covid-19 pandemic on the economy and the industry. This includes flexing the model to capitalise on opportunities to gain market share and leveraging GBK’s equity as the leading burger brand in the UK’s premium burger category. The board of GBK will continue to explore all options to ensure the long-term sustainability of the business in the wake of the severe impact of continued trading restrictions and the slow phased restart of the economy.”

Brewhouse & Kitchen reports 115% growth in sales during first six days of Eat Out To Help Out: Brewhouse & Kitchen, the 22-strong brewpub group, has reported a 115% growth in sales during the first six days of Eat Out To Help Out. Chief executive Kris Gumbrell labelled the government scheme the “icing on the cake” for his business. The company added the staggered reopening of its estate had already led to sales growth of 6.1% during the first four weeks of trading, accelerating to 29.4% for the week ending 8 August. The group attributed the strong start to team engagement and development during lock-down that saw its teams “battle ready” for a strong reopening. Brewhouse & Kitchen now operates order and payment at-table platform B&K On Tap that, the company said, had led to a significant uptake in guests buying from the entire portfolio as they could “browse the range at their convenience”. The majority of the estate being on the South Coast has been a particular advantage, the company said, although its London sites, in Highbury and Islington, are “trading ahead of forecast”. The group now has 17 pubs open, with plans to reopen the remaining five in the “coming weeks”. Following a series of trials, Brewhouse & Kitchen said it would expand its food and beer delivery service in the autumn. Chief executive Kris Gumbrell said: “Food sales have been very strong through the week and we saw growth continue every day through Thursday, Friday and Saturday across the group. To have been showing growth prior was really pleasing but the Eat Out To Help Out scheme has been the icing on the cake for our business.”

Rockfish reports like-for-likes only 7% down since reopening as takeaway sales soar: Rockfish, the south west-based seafood restaurant group run by Mitch Tonks, has reported like-for-like sales are only 7% down on last summer since stores reopened, with takeaway sales soaring more than 40%. The company has now welcomed back customers to all nine sites following a phased reopening programme. All staff have been brought back off furlough, while a further 25 team members have been recruited to meet demands and business plans. The Brixham restaurant and takeaway has undergone a refurbishment, with a new bar and extended outdoor eating area on the balcony. The site will also open a fishmongers after the summer in a return to Tonks’ roots – he opened a fishmongers in Bath in 1995. The Eat Out To Help Out scheme saw 75% of covers across the Rockfish estate – about 20,000 – booked up for August within two days of the company announcing the offer to its database. Tonks said: “I am astounded by the guest feedback and numbers for our first month since reopening. We knew staycations and the coast would be a massive draw as the summer arrived but there were too many unknowns and variables to accurately predict customer behaviour. We went into lock-down looking at our best year to date so it was hard to know all we’d done could be lost. However, we’ve used the time while the business has been closed to make what we do better for staff and guests. There will be plenty of challenges ahead – we aren’t in a bubble and have a long winter ahead – but we remain optimistic about people wanting to eat fresh fish by the sea. I have an amazing team and think we are better and stronger than we were. If we can quickly adapt to constant change, I believe the future can be navigated safely.”

Ego makes Welsh debut after delay: 3Sixty Restaurants, led by James Horler, has made its Welsh debut after opening its latest Ego site as part of its joint venture with Mitchells & Butlers. After a four-month delay, Ego at The Scooner Inn has launched in Penarth, Cardiff, following the conversion of a former Harvester site. The launch marks the 22nd site to open under the Ego brand, which earlier this year secured The Running Mare in Chelmsford in Essex. The company intends to start refurbishing the site in early September towards a late October opening. Last month Horler told Propel the company had been taking a gradual approach to its reopening programme as it wanted to ensure it could provide confidence to consumers and staff around new safety measures. The company also secured funding through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme to help finance the business during lock-down.

Stay Original Company to open fifth and largest site, in Dorchester next month: Somerset-based boutique hotel and pub group Stay Original Company is to open its fifth site and largest so far, in Dorchester on Thursday, 17 September. Stay Original acquired The King’s Arms in 2016 after the venue was closed by its former owners. The grade II-listed hotel, which featured in Thomas Hardy’s novels The Mayor Of Casterbridge and Far From The Madding Crowd, has undergone a £5m renovation. The venue now features a ground-floor bar, restaurant and 20 bedrooms, with a further 14 bedrooms launching next year. Executive chef Tom Blake will oversee the menus. Stay Original Company managing director Rob Greacen said: “To say it has been a long and eventful journey would be an understatement. It has been a challenging project, but worth the wait. We’ve carefully and lovingly brought The King’s Arms back to life. Rejuvenating an old building, capturing its character and natural heritage while bringing in modern luxuries requires professionalism and perseverance. We hope we’ve created a very special place to visit.” Founded in 2011, Stay Original Company’s other sites are The Swan in Wedmore, The White Hart in Somerton, Timbrell’s Yard in Bradford-on-Avon, and The Grosvenor Arms in Shaftesbury.

YouTube star to make London debut with plant-based delivery kitchen concept: Clean Cut Kitchen, the plant-based delivery kitchen concept from YouTube star and food entrepreneur Mikey Pearce, will make its London debut next week, in Chelsea. The opening on Tuesday (18 August) follows the success the brand has seen in Brighton since its debut site launched on 18 June. A second Brighton site opened last month in Shelter Hall Raw, the debut venture by Sessions Market, the food hall concept backed by Imbiba and led by former Deliveroo managing director Dan Warne. Pearce plans further openings in Bournemouth, Edinburgh, Manchester, Tunbridge Wells and Wandsworth in the coming weeks. Clean Kitchen Club opened its first site during the lock-down, with Pearce deciding to invest £20,000 of savings made from his YouTuber career into creating what he hopes will become the UK’s “fastest-growing plant-based brand”. The business said it was on track to turn over in excess of £1m in its first year alone. Peace said: “The focus from the get go has been to bring people delicious, guilt-free food. We’ve made sure we’ve sourced the freshest ingredients we can to create some special dishes and we’re happy to report everyone seems to be loving them, no matter whether they follow a plant-based diet or not. We’ve felt so blessed the Brighton community has got behind us and we aim to become the UK’s fastest-growing plant-based brand, opening sites in every major city. Chelsea will be our first London site but by no means our last. We’re already planning to open an east London site in the coming weeks.”

Tipjar hits £300,000 crowdfunding target: Tipjar, the peer-to-peer tipping and tip-sharing concept, has hit its £300,000 fund-raise target on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube within three days of its public launch. As revealed by Propel last month, Tipjar founder James Brown, who is retail director of Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog, and Rosa’s Thai Café co-founder Alex Moore, who invested in Tipjar a year ago, are raising the funds as it looks to grow. Tipjar is offering 6.25% equity in return for the investment, giving the company a pre-money valuation of £4.5m. So far 384 investors have pledged £322,693 and the campaign is “overfunding” with 27 days remaining. The pitch states: “Tipjar provides a solution for guests to tip workers in less than eight seconds via their phones, with no app required. Tipjar set out to solve three problems – tipped workers are earning less each year as cash transactions reduce; businesses are struggling under the administration burden, tax compliance and levels of transparency needed to manage tips; and consumer confidence in tipping is at an all-time low. We’ve used tech to allow customers to tip staff directly. This transparency gives consumers confidence the money goes to who it was intended. By facilitating the direct payment of tips between customers and staff, we remove the business from the equation, removing its liabilities, the burden of complying with tax legislation and reducing the cost of running a compliant tronc system. We’ve estimated the global tipping market to be worth $100bn per year. Tipjar is the world’s first multi-currency, scalable solution, which allows us to quickly solve this problem in multiple countries around the world. We’ve already appointed a chief executive in the US with the aim of having live clients by November and have plans to expand across the EU and Australia.”

Covent Garden Social Club begins live-streaming performances into venue: Covent Garden Social Club, the cocktail bar and theatre above the Arts Theatre in Leicester Square, has started live-streaming performances into the venue in the wake of the continued ban on indoor entertainment. The club’s pianists play live in an upstairs rehearsal room, with the performances projected on to the black and gold-cladded stage. Guests can still request songs from the artists. Director JJ Goodman said “It’s a shame we can’t get more clarity from the powers that be but we need to get our artists, as well as our mixologists, back to work. This pandemic has been devastating for bars and theatres. Unfortunately, we happen to be both. We can’t wait for our bars to return to normal. We miss doing our jobs and that’s simply making people happy and normal again. A lot of musicians are out of work so we need the support of the public more than ever. We hope they’ll come and have a drink and enjoy something as close to live performance as we can currently manage.” Plans for the venue when government guidelines allow include cabaret performances on Monday nights and comedy on Sunday evenings. The venue’s Basement Bar is due to reopen in September.

McDonald’s brings back more menu items: McDonald’s has brought back more menu items at its UK restaurants. The company has gradually been restoring items having reopened its sites with a limited menu as it adjusted to smaller teams and social distancing in its kitchens. It has now brought back the double quarter pounder with cheese, the Chicken Legend, apple pie, toffee latte, millionaire’s doughnut and carrot sticks. McDonald’s said the Chicken Legend and apple pie were among the public’s most-missed items.

Japan Centre Ichiba to begin phased reopening: Europe’s largest Japanese food hall, Japan Centre Ichiba, is to begin a phased reopening from Monday (17 August). The venue in Westfield London will at first allow shoppers to pick up their Japanese essentials and groceries, including its expanded Asian range that features umami noodles. The fresh counters will reopen from Thursday, 20 August serving noodles, curry and Japanese soul food. Sushi will also be available from Monday, 24 August, including salmon and tuna nigiri. Japan Centre Ichiba will also take part in the Eat Out To Help scheme from that date, which will be the final week of the offer.

Carlsberg warns on profit and suspends share buyback: Carlsberg has issued a profit warning for 2020 as it forecasts disappointing sales in the second half of the year. The Danish brewer saw a fall of 8.9% in operating profit for the first half of 2020 and is expecting an overall drop of between 10% and 15% for the whole year. It is significantly worse than expectations and the company has cited renewed lock-downs in China – one of its biggest markets – during the third quarter as a key reason, as well as an increase in marketing expenditure. Carlsberg has also revealed it will suspend the second half of its share buyback programme because of covid-19 and uncertainty ahead. Chief executive Cees’t Hart said all the brewer’s markets had been hit by the pandemic. He added: “Recognising we face a new market reality, including changed consumer preferences and a reduced level of on-trade activity, we’re taking measures to adapt our business accordingly.” Carlsberg’s share price slid 4.7% following the warning.

Stafford Collection to launch Norma ‘at-home’ service: The Stafford Collection, the luxury hospitality group that includes the Stafford London and Northcote, is to offer an at-home service for its Sicilian-inspired restaurant Norma. Launching on Thursday, 20 August there will be three new ways to “dine with Norma”. The Norma At Home offer will be a “full and proper restaurant experience brought to the home  – from catered and waited barbecues to canapé parties and sharing feasting menus”. Feast With Norma will offer family-style sharing platters available for collection to be heated at home. There will also be Norma Delivered – with the venue’s classic dishes and pasta kits available via Deliveroo and Supper. The restaurant in Charlotte Street reopened for dine-in on 3 August. 

Northumberland-based pub operator to open second site, in Alnwick this week: Northumberland-based pub operator Jake Castleman is to open his second site in the county, in Alnwick this week. The Pig In Muck will launch on Friday (14 August) at a site in Market Place formerly occupied by Caffe Piazza. It will be a sister site to the Cock & Bull in Amble. The Pig In Muck will be primarily a micro-pub offering independent craft and keg beer alongside local gin, charcuterie, cocktails, coffee and a food menu using the former cafe’s kitchen. It will also feature outdoor seating. A licence has been granted from 11am to 10.30pm, seven days a week. Castleman told the Northumberland Gazette: “We are doing well in Amble now we are open again. The tourist trade in both Alnwick and Amble has gone a bit off the scale. Speaking to B&B owners, they are saying it’s looking like it’s going to be their best season or certainly their best spell.” The Cock & Bull took over the former tourist information centre in Amble’s Town Square.

MasterChef The Professionals finalist to launch bar and events space in Hoxton: Yann Florio, a MasterChef: The Professionals 2019 finalist, is to open a bar, kitchen, events space and media studio in Hoxton, east London. Florio has teamed up with Far Out Food director Graham Brittain to launch Kreidel. The venue in Hoxton Street will open on Friday (14 August) offering six booths and 12 counter seats at the bar, where guests will be served free canape-style dishes matched with the drinks they order. The menu will change regularly, with initial dishes including cured wild sea bass with pea bavarois and gooseberries; and quail with fermented cherries and confit courgette. The bar will offer a rotating list of wine and cocktails made with foraged and seasonal ingredients. The kitchen will also operate as a development space for other chefs and restaurateurs, reports London On The Inside. Brittain will manage the studio side of Kreidel, which can host cookery demos and live streaming with the space available to hire. An online wine shop and deli selling condiments and preserves made in the kitchen will launch later this month.

Oxfordshire-based pub operators take on second site: Matt and Katie Beamish, who run Oxfordshire pub The Kingham Plough in Kingham, near Chipping Norton, have taken on a second site in the county. The couple have taken a 15-year lease on The Hare in Milton-under-Wychwood. Matt Beamish told Insider Media: “We look forward to utilising our experience in running The Kingham Plough to build on the success of The Hare.” Peter Brunt, director in the hotels agency team at Colliers International, who brokered the deal, added: “The Hare has built a fantastic reputation following its refurbishment in 2016. It’s great to have been able to secure someone with local success under their belt and an understanding of how well-loved the pub is with locals and visitors.”

Latin American concept Cha Cha relocates to Notting Hill through vintage clothes tie-up: Latin American concept Cha Cha will relocate to Notting Hill, west London, next month. Cha Cha owners Rayhana Karim and Max Parfentieff and chief executive Alexandre Santamaria, formerly of Hakkasan, will open the restaurant in Golborne Road in partnership with vintage-inspired clothing label Sister Jane. Moving from its home in Maida Vale, Cha Cha will be housed on the ground floor of the 3,000 square foot space, with the label’s showroom and studio above. The menu, developed by Anthony Garlando, formerly of Zuma and Pierre Gagnaire, will include acai bowls, sharing plates and main dishes from the Robata grill. The venue – which opens on Tuesday, 8 September – will also feature a rooftop bar offering cocktails and bar snacks. 

Bespoke Hotels finalises hotel management agreement on 40 former Shearings sites: Independent hotel group Bespoke Hotels has finalised a five-year hotel management agreement on 40 former Shearings sites after the company was put into administration in May. Almost all the hotels from the Bay, Coast & Country and Country Living collections have joined the Bespoke Hotels banner. Effective immediately, these include The Caledonian in Fort William, The Ship and Castle in St Mawes and the newly refurbished St George in Harrogate. Having been closed since March, Bespoke Hotels will gradually start to reopen the hotels in the coming months. Bespoke Hotels regional director Paul FitzGerald, who will lead the project, said: “Two great hotels in the Lake District – The Derwentwater Hotel & Manor Apartments and The Windermere – as well as The Pitlochry Hydro have been earmarked to reopen first, in late August. This news is particularly welcome in these trying times for our industry.” Chief executive Thomas Greenall added: “This new arrangement ensures we can create jobs at a challenging time for employees in the sector.” Founded in 2000, Bespoke Hotels represents more than 200 properties worldwide.

Plans to transform Nottingham Guildhall into hotel, restaurant and conference space set for go-ahead: The £120m transformation of Nottingham Guildhall into a hotel, restaurant and conference space is set for approval. The planning application has been submitted by a joint venture between Locksley Hotels and hotel group Ascena for the centrepiece of the Guildhall development, which would create more than 250 jobs. The plans are for a 162-bedroom hotel with a rooftop restaurant, spa and wedding and conference facilities. The development would house “larger than average” hotel rooms, with the guildhall’s court rooms converted into bars and restaurants while retaining listed features. John Wilby, project lead for Ascena, told The Business Desk: “It is a landmark development for the city and a key destination for people across the East Midlands.” Ascena director Jack Turton added: “With the building sitting derelict for the best part of a decade, it has been a long time coming!” Built in 1887, the guildhall has hosted a magistrates’ court, police station and fire station during its history. Ascena owns and operates a number of hotels and restaurants, including Michelin-starred Opheem in Birmingham, which is a partnership with Aktar Islam, former winner of The Great British Menu. 

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