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Tue 13th Apr 2021 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Sessions Market secures new investment, strengthens head office team: Sessions Market, the food hall concept backed by Imbiba and led by former Deliveroo managing director Dan Warne, has secured further investment and strengthened its head office team, including the appointment of Sourced Market founder Ben O’Brien as chief operating officer, Propel has learned. The company, which will open Shelter Hall, its first food hall, in Brighton later this month, has, alongside O’Brien, hired Abby Hughes who previously worked with Michelin-starred chefs including Albert Roux, Michel Roux Jr and Gary Rhodes, as head of special projects; Luke Thomas, previously of Blacks Club, Cafe Habana, Retro Feasts and Fast Fine Restaurant Group, as creative culinary director; and Roisin Howard, formerly of Deliveroo, as commercial director. They join chief financial officer Ian Banks, formerly of Soho House and Memorable Pubs; and restaurant director Olivia Reid. O’Brien founded Sourced Market in 2007, which has since grown to six sites. He remains the company’s non-executive chairman. The company said the new hires followed a successful round of investment from Perscitus. The hires come as the business plans the rollout of its community-focused food halls. The second site is scheduled to open by the end of 2021 and there are further plans for hospitality pop-ups and concepts throughout the year. The company said the launch in Brighton comes after having taken “thousands of bookings even before menus were published”. Warne said: “This is a very exciting time for the industry as a more positive future for hospitality approaches, and given we first launched Sessions Market during covid-19’s lockdown, myself and the team have great ambitions to take the business to the next level and continue the growth going forward. Having admired the work of our new recruits from afar, I am delighted to have them on board, bringing their collective creativity, expertise and passion to the business. I’m looking forward to seeing how the next chapter of Sessions Market unfolds with the invaluable expertise and ambition of our newly bolstered team at the heart of the business.”
 

Industry News:

Premium subscribers to receive monthly update to multi-site database on 30 April including report detailing changes: Premium subscribers will exclusively receive the monthly update to the multi-site database on Friday, 30 April, at midday. The exhaustive database of businesses comprised 1,628 companies that oversee 56,034 sites when it was issued to subscribers at the end of March. Alongside the database will be a report detailing the new companies and highlighting the changes seen in the multi-site universe over the past month. The go-to database has the most comprehensive multi-site operator information in the sector – it provides company names, the people in charge, how many sites each firm operates, its trading name and its registered name at Companies House if different, and what each business specialises in. In a new feature this year, there is a synopsis of what the business does and significant news associated with it. Companies can now have an unlimited number of people receive access to Propel Premium for a year for £895 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or a supplier. The regular single subscription rate of £395 plus VAT for operators and £495 plus VAT for suppliers remains the same. Premium subscribers already receive access to Propel’s library of lockdown videos and Friday Wrap interviews and will also receive a curated video library of sector’s finest leaders and entrepreneurs, offering their insights on running outstanding businesses in the sector. Propel Premium subscribers also receive their morning newsletter 11 hours early, at 7pm the evening before our 6am send-out; regular video content and regular exclusive columns from Propel insights editor Mark Wingett. Email anne.steele@propelinfo.com to sign up.
 
Operators report record bookings as outdoor hospitality reopens but warn only ‘small step’ towards getting businesses back to viability: Operators have reported record bookings following the reopening of outdoor hospitality but say it is only a “small step” to getting businesses back to viability. Restaurant operator D&D London said it was fully booked across all 20 sites it was reopening for outdoor dining. The group said the numbers “look amazing, like nothing they’ve ever seen before”. It has more than 90,000 bookings for its terraces, which have a combined capacity of 1,000 covers. Its new 14 Hills terrace in the City had 2,000 bookings within a 24-hour period. Chief executive and co-founder Des Gunewardena said: “I’m delighted at the response we’ve seen regarding reservations for reopening week and onwards. We’re basically fully booked for the whole week, let’s just hope the weather holds out.” Jack Stein, chef-director at Rick Stein Group, said more than 5,000 people were booked for outdoor dining in the first week. It is fully booked at its Sandbanks site in Dorset. Stein said: “We’ve got strong booking numbers for the opening week and building up to indoor dining also coming back. Hopefully, we see customer loyalty with bookings and no issues with no-shows.” Marcos Fernandez Pardo, managing director of Iberica and Arros QD, said it had about 1,500 people booked in this week for its outdoor terraces at its La Terraza and Victoria Iberica sites and almost 650 for its new terrace at Arros QD, in Eastcastle Street. He added: “At both Iberica and Arros QD, we prefer people to book because it will help with the track and trace as well as the management of flow in the restaurant. April is a dress rehearsal for what we hope will be a May definitive opening.” Stuart Procter, chief operating officer at The Stafford Collection, said it has about 1,000 covers on the books for the first six days of trading while Fridays and Saturdays for the next six weeks are full. Patrick Hooykaas, UK managing director at TheFork, formerly known as Bookatable, said: “We’ve seen a phenomenal increase in bookings since the government confirmed restaurants can open. This week alone, we’ve seen an 88% uplift in bookings. However, a risk for restaurants right now is people simply not turning up. No-shows will hinder post-covid hospitality recovery. The most expensive thing to a restaurant manager is an empty table because it costs the same amount empty as it does full. Empty tables are also unlikely to be filled at such short notice because the industry places greater emphasis on bookings over walk-ins in its post-covid recovery. We help to combat the risk of no-shows by only displaying live restaurant availability, sending booking reminders, and by only allowing people to make one booking for a time slot in our system.” But Patrick Dardis, chief executive of London pub retailer Young’s, warned outdoor reopening was “just a very small step towards getting our business back to anywhere near viability”. The company has reopened circa 140 pubs and Dardis said at least half of the UK’s pubs and 60% of restaurants would not reopen on Monday (12 April) because the restrictions make it unviable. He added: “The key day for UK pubs, restaurants, the economy and jobs is Freedom Day on 21 June. This is when we get our lives back. It is the first day UK pubs and restaurants, as well as the economy, can start to rebuild. Until then, the weather as much as anything, will determine whether opening outdoors is worthwhile.”

Brits begin spending on restaurant reservations ahead of lockdown easing: One in four Brits (26%) have been booking post-lockdown activities during March, with 41% of these consumers booking restaurant reservations for meals outdoors, according to research from Barclaycard. Meanwhile, the hospitality sector continued to be hit hard by restrictions as pubs and restaurants saw declines of 94.8% and 83.1% respectively versus March 2019. However, March spending on entertainment, which included leisure activities such as family days out, theme parks and gym memberships, saw an improvement with year-on-year spending declining 57.9% compared with 83.2% in February 2021. E-commerce continued to surge across multiple categories, with triple-digit growth recorded in online spending for grocery, eating and drinking, and general retail. Barclaycard head of consumer products Raheel Ahmed said: “With springtime finally here and restrictions starting to ease, it’s encouraging to see a renewed sense of optimism across much of the UK. While it remains a very challenging environment for high street and hospitality outlets, the fact that many consumers are making plans for the future is a positive sign, and we hope to see this pent-up demand lead to growth in more categories as life after lockdown starts to resume.”
  
UK retains top spot for hotel deals despite pandemic: The UK retained its position at the top of the table for hotel transactions in Europe in 2020 despite the coronavirus pandemic. According to the annual European Hotel Transactions 2020, published by HVS and its brokerage and investment services division HVS Hodges Ward Elliott, the UK posted the highest level of investment volume across Europe with a total of €2.1bn (£1.8bn). Some €1.6bn worth (£1.4bn) of UK transactions were London-based. A total of 201 European hotels and more than 44,000 rooms exchanged owners in 2020. Total European hotel transaction volume fell by 69% in the year of the pandemic following a record high the previous year when €27.1bn worth of hotel deals were struck. Hotel transaction volume reached €8.5bn last year with single-asset transactions accounting for 65%, totalling €5.5bn, and portfolio deals representing 35%, at €3bn. Before the pandemic, 2020 was set for record transaction levels. The year started strongly with transactions in January and February up 2.5% on 2019 with volumes of €2.7bn and a 1.8% rise in average sale prices per room to €170,000. Looking ahead, HVS expects the second half of 2021 will begin to show signs of transaction volume recovery as economic support programmes fall away and loans come up for refinancing, but the bulk of the recovery is likely to happen in 2022 in parallel with rising hotel revenue streams.
 
Job of the day: COREcruitment is on the hunt for an experienced general manager for a growing and expanding late-night operator. This nightclub is part of a group that is acquiring new sites and is looking for some fresh talent to come on this new journey with it. The general manager will have full accountability for the venue and the incoming candidate will need to have a strong management background in high volume, late-night venues. The position is based in Leeds and paying up to £55,000. Anyone interested can email Stuart@coercruitment.com
COREcruitment is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member
 

Company News:

Peter Marks – we will look to introduce Rekom Group brands into the UK: Peter Marks, chief executive of Rekom UK, formerly Deltic Group, has told Propel the company will look to expand its estate cautiously through single-site acquisitions and plans to introduce brands from its new parent company here. Scandinavian company Rekom Group, which operates circa 120 late-night venues across Finland, Norway and Denmark, acquired 44 of Deltic’s 55 sites out of administration at the end of last year in a circa £10m deal. Speaking as part of Propel Friday Wrap video series, Marks said: “Our number one goal will be to expand our estate more cautiously by finding individual business premises that may have been retail or may have been casual dining, and make them one of the Rekom brands. We really like some of their brands. I haven’t been able to see them first-hand but from the walk-throughs that we have been doing remotely, there is one brand I particularly like the look of called Heidi’s Bier Bar, and that is probably going to be one of the focuses to roll out a number of those. There is one called Rabalder Bar, which is another one they have got that might also work here. So that might be the route for us when it comes to expansion. What Rekom loves is one big club in a town or city and then a number of bars that feed off it and to it where they can share management, and that way of working is something we are very much looking at. That is not to say that if something of a decent scale and of a decent brand came along, and it was the right price, then we wouldn’t look at it but I don’t think that needs to be our core or primary focus. I would love to start up with a new brand and prove that as a success.” Rekom Group currently operates circa 20 sites under its Heidi’s brand across Scandinavia and a handful of Rabalder Bars.
 
YO! signs trial partnership with WHSmith: YO!, the multi-brand, multi-channel Japanese and Asian food group, has signed an agreement to supply YO! Food to Go products to WHSmith. Launching this month, the trial will see a specially selected range of YO! Food to Go items such as chicken katsu bites, vegan sushi, and salmon and avocado poké initially on offer in seven WHSmith stores. The initial trial will run in hospitals at Pinderfields in Yorkshire, and Southampton, as well as several travel hubs. This includes Victoria, Waterloo, Liverpool Street and Euston stations, as well as Heathrow Terminal 2. The company said the move reinforced YO!’s growth into retail channels, and specifically its expansion in the grab-and-go market. YO! Food to Go pre-packaged sushi is already available in 600 Sainsbury’s stores, 160 Co-op stores and 100 David Lloyd Leisure Centres. The group’s Taiko brand is also available in Waitrose. In addition, the YO! Group has 52 kiosks in Tesco stores and 37 kiosks under the Panku brand in Asda offering food for now and food for later. David Hampton, managing director of retail at YO!, said: “With an extensive network of stores on the high street and in travel hubs, as well as hospitals, WHSmith is a great partner as we look to increase the availability of high-quality, Japanese food across the UK.” This week, Emma Deabill, managing director restaurants UK & International at YO! Group told Propel the company was excited about the future potential of its YO! To Go format after the opening of the second site under the grab-and-go concept, in Bath. Debuted in November 2019 in Manchester Piccadilly station, the second site opened on Brunel Square at the start of this month. The opening of the new site also saw the launch of YO!’s first takeaway breakfast range.

3Sixty seeks opportunities for expansion, secures £2m CBILS: 3Sixty Restaurants, led by James Horler, which operates Ego restaurants under a joint venture with Mitchells & Butlers (M&B), has reported it is seeking opportunities for expansion while it secured £2m through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) last year. The company said the loan, along with other government support such as grants and the furlough scheme, had assisted in maintaining the liquidity of the company through the various lockdowns over the past 12 months. Horler told Propel that Ego has reopened 17 of its 23 sites for outdoor dining and has 18,000 covers booked over the next week. The company stated: “With a strong balance sheet and a clear focus on opening more Ego sites, we are in a very strong position going forward. We took quick action across the business to support employees, preserve cash, seek government grant and loan funding and maintain communication with creditors and landlords. Following the period end a further £2m CBILS bank loan was drawn down in Ego Restaurants Holdings to fund the closure of the sites due to the covid-19 pandemic. The directors are confident turnover will recover as our sites are mainly in suburban locations and we have re-engaged with our 410,000 Ego Club members, the group’s social media database, to give them the best Ego experience ever.” The company provided the update as it reported turnover increased to £26.8m for the year ending 29 March 2020, compared with £19.5m the previous year. It made a pre-tax profit of £288,000, compared with a loss of £827,000 the previous year. Ego opened five new restaurants in the period, which together with the organic growth of existing sites contributed to the growth in sales, the company said. The group generated Ebitda of £1.8m during a period of expansion where it invested £3m into the five new sites. M&B formed the partnership in August 2018 when it bought sector investor Luke Johnson’s minority share in 3Sixty.

Wing Shack to open five new London sites and expand outside capital: Wings-based concept Wing Shack is to open five new sites in London along with two outlets outside of the capital in 2021. The group is pressing on with its ambitious expansion plans and will set up shop in Brixton, Bromley, Finchley, Camden and Soho, along with Manchester and St Albans, all to open by the end of the year. Following its first opening in Loughton in 2017, Wing Shack has been growing across the capital over the past few years and can be found at Camden’s Good Mixer and in London’s Selfridges, along with delivery kitchens in Canary Wharf, Battersea and Clerkenwell. Co-founder Josh Jarvis said: “It’s been a crazy year for everyone, but I really believe it’s been a year of opportunity for us. We’ve managed to remain positive throughout and so many great opportunities have arisen for us to expand our business quicker than we could have imagined. We are extremely confident about our brand and can’t wait to open our planned stores so more people can have that Wing Shack experience.” Wing Shack’s menu includes its signature Jarvis tangy buffalo wings and boneless chicken fillets covered in southern rub.

Boxpark boss says flexible business model has enabled it to withstand pandemic challenges as company reports full-year turnover boost: Boxpark chief executive and founder Roger Wade has said its flexible business model has enabled it to withstand the challenges of the pandemic as it reported full-year rises in turnover and net profit. The company saw turnover for the year ending April 2020 increase 22% to £15.2m, compared with £12.5m the previous year and net profit rose 40% to £2.2m. Stripping out exceptional costs, operating profits were at £3.4m, representing a 15% increase in 2020. This was despite the temporary closure of all sites from 20 March 2020, six weeks prior to the reporting period end. Boxpark said it had also maintained a strong financial position throughout the pandemic without needing to take out any government loan. As well as investing in staff recruitment, where the team has quadrupled from 44 to 204 employees in the past two years, Boxpark has been focused on improving existing operating practices and investing in the business ahead of the company’s expansion plans. During the national lockdown, Boxpark committed to giving its tenants rent relief and exemption from service charges. The group utilised the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to continue paying employees during lockdown. Boxpark reopened its outdoor dining spaces on Monday (12 April) and said it remains optimistic about the remainder of 2021. Wade said: “The past 12 months have been devastating for the hospitality and retail industries. However, we are delighted with our performance and growth over the past few years. We’ve sadly seen many businesses collapse due to the impact of covid-19, but our flexible business model has enabled us to withstand the challenges we’ve encountered while maintaining a strong financial position. We are optimistic once covid-19 restrictions ease, we can make up for some of what we lost during the course of the pandemic and bounce back as quickly as possible.”
 
Haidilao lines up Manchester opening: Haidilao, China’s largest hot pot restaurant chain, is set to open its second regional site in the UK, after lining up a site in Manchester. Propel understands the company, which currently operates two sites in London, at The O2 Shopping Centre and in Piccadilly Circus, is to take space in the city’s Corn Exchange scheme for an opening later this year. Last August, the company agreed a deal with Hammerson to open a venue at the Bullring shopping centre in Birmingham. The 8,073 square foot restaurant will join Mitchells & Butlers brand Brown’s and Wagamama, which is owned by The Restaurant Group, in St Martin’s Square when it launches this year. Founded in 1994 in China’s Sichuan province, Haidilao has more than 750 restaurants globally, including in China, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, South Korea, Japan, the US, Canada and Australia, as well as the UK. 

Joule’s secures £1m CBILS: Shropshire brewer and retailer Joule’s, which is headed by Steve Nuttall, has secured £1m through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) to provide it with increased liquidity through the pandemic. Joule’s said despite the impact of the pandemic it was continuing to seek freehold opportunities for its 41-strong brewery tap estate in Cheshire, Shropshire and Staffordshire. The company’s planned return to its heartland in Stone in Shropshire, the home of the original brewery that was closed by Bass in 1974, has been delayed until this summer as a result of the pandemic. Joule’s said the estimated cost to the business for the final two weeks of its full financial year was £200,000 following the lockdown in March 2020. The company stated: “The business is grateful for the grants that were made available, including business rates relief, discretionary grants and the job retention scheme, which have helped to keep the business going despite zero trade. The board of directors also took the decision to access a £1m CBILS from our bank NatWest. This has provided us with increased liquidity to ensure we get through the pandemic and despite the uncertainty, the business is in a good position.” It comes as the company reported turnover fell to £6.6m for the year ending 31 March 2020, compared with £7.4m the year before. Pre-tax profit rose to £1.1m, compared with £921,000 the previous year. During the period, the company acquired the Offley Arms in Madeley and Swan in Forton and disposed of the Lord Hill in Market Drayton and the Mainwaring Arms in Whitmore.

Cake Box eyes 52 new sites ahead of expected record year of revenue: Cake Box, the specialist retailer of fresh cream cakes, is eyeing 52 new stores ahead of an expected record year of revenue. The company said it anticipates delivering a strong performance for the year ending 31 March 2021. Cake Box opened 17 new stores in the second half of the year, including in Gloucester, Epsom, Newport, Ipswich and Hove, taking the total number of new sites to 24 last year. The group has 157 sites in total. It said it was heading for a record revenue for the year, estimated to be up about 16% on the previous period. Co-founder and chief executive Sukh Chamdal said: “Customer appetite for our products has continued to grow, with good traction across our expanded online and delivery services. Our tested recipe of backing our franchisees has helped us deliver another year of growth, and it is thanks to the dedication of them and everyone in the Cake Box family that we have been able to emerge stronger from a year marked by the global pandemic.”
 
New egg-based concept EggoLand plans launch in London’s Fitzrovia: EggoLand, a new egg-based concept, is set to launch just off Tottenham Court Road in London’s Fitzrovia, Propel has learned. The new concept, which is the brainchild of Sohail Khan, a former professional boxer, is understood to be close to securing the former Pod site in Tottenham Street for its debut location. With the strap line of “BuildYourEggos”, the concept will feature a fully customisable menu featuring, among other things, egg pots and buns. It hopes to open in early summer for grab-and-go breakfast and lunch. Adam Bowers at Stonebrook London is understood to be working with EggoLand on its expansion plans.
 
BrewDog plans to launch Edinburgh beer hotel this summer: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog plans to launch a site in Edinburgh this summer under its beer hotel concept, after securing a site in the city’s Old Town area. The DogHouse-branded boutique hotel will be in a former school opposite the city council headquarters in Market Street. Chief executive and co-founder James Watt tweeted the new venture would be an “amazing beer hotel, bar and terrace in the heart of Scotland's capital”. The company told shareholders at its annual general meeting at the weekend its circa 100-strong bar business will continue its expansion this year, with openings in places including Las Vegas, Atlanta, Lyon and Milan. Three further outlets opened open for the first time on Monday (12 April) in southern England – in Plymouth, Exeter and Ealing – as covid restrictions are eased. The company is also looking for a brewery in France to support further European expansion and distribution, alongside a taproom and bar space slated to open in South Africa. Meanwhile, BrewDog plans to further reduce its carbon offset via its Lost Forest. The site, located west of Aviemore, will play host to the biggest reforestation project the UK has seen as BrewDog looks to plant millions of native trees and create a bio-diverse broadleaf woodland and ecosystem. Further plans for the land include a hotel with sustainable cabins and a new distillery.
 
Goldman Sachs set to provide £560m loan to Soho House ahead of float: Goldman Sachs is set to provide a $770m (£560m) loan to Soho House as it prepares to go public in New York. Soho House has struck a deal with Goldman Sachs to replace existing debt facilities with Permira Debt Managers (PDM), part of which had been syndicated to the wealthy Reuben family, Sky News reported. Sources said the new financing from Goldman’s merchant banking arm would repay an existing PDM loan of £406m and provide further growth capital for the London-based hospitality group. The new facility would be over the “long term”. Goldman is not currently involved in Soho House’s forthcoming initial public offering (IPO) on the New York Stock Exchange, but could be added to a syndicate led by JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley. Last week, Sky News reported Soho House had confidentially submitted an S-1 filing for its IPO, which could value the company at as much as $4bn (£2.9bn). Despite the pandemic forcing many of its clubs around the world to close, the business has proved to be resilient, with barely 10% of its 110,000 members cancelling their subscription. Soho House members pay in excess of £1,000 per year in fees to gain access to its venues, as well as discounted hotel rooms and consumer products sold under the Cowshed brand. Founder Nick Jones opened its first site in Greek Street in central London in 1995. Soho House’s expansion has been facilitated by a series of deals, including the sale by Jones of a controlling stake in the company to Richard Caring in 2008. Soho House raised another chunk of private funding last summer, but has decided that the capital required for future growth is better accessed via public markets.
 
Crispin founders to open ‘Bar Crispin’ concept in Soho: Dominic Hamdy and Oliver Hiam, founders of Spitalfields’ all-day restaurant Crispin, will open a new concept “Bar Crispin” – a natural wine bar with food, on Kingly Street, Soho, this summer. Located on the former Urban Tearooms site, Bar Crispin will offer 42 covers in total – encompassing 20 seats in the main bar, 12 in the downstairs private dining room and a further ten on the outside terrace. The site will operate daily from early morning until late – serving breakfast pastries and specialty coffee first thing, through lunch service and into the evening where an ever-evolving natural wine list will be served along a concise bar snack menu, offering small plates, cheese and charcuterie, and weekly house specials. Hamdy and Hiam also operate speciality coffee shop Lundenwic in Aldwych, and Scotchtails at Borough Market. Hamdy said: “We are right behind the iconic Liberty, just off Carnaby Street in Kingly Street, which is a great location for our first real central London site. And after such a shocker of a year for hospitality, and the country in general, we hope we can offer some much-needed positive vibes and bring the fun back to dining and drinking out, Crispin-style.” Distrkt acted on the Soho deal.

Purezza confirmed for Manchester opening: Brighton-based vegan pizzeria Purezza has confirmed it is to make its debut in the north west, with an opening in Manchester next month. As revealed by Propel last month, the company, which raised £2.4m from multiple investors, including MVK Group and Veg Capital last November, will take over the former Dough premises in the city’s Northern Quarter for its fifth site in total. Tim Barclay, co-founder and co-owner of Purezza, said: “Manchester has been on our agenda for years now as we know it has a vibrant foodie scene, which will only grow once lockdown restrictions are lifted. We’ve had more requests on social media to open in Manchester than any other city in the UK, and it’s a pleasure to honour those requests and to finally make it happen.”

Cue Point to launch barbecue drive-thru in Chiswick: Cue Point, the fusion concept founded by Josh Moroney, previously of Smokestak, The Lockhart and Shotgun, and his partner Mursal Saiq, are opening what they believe is London’s first barbecue drive-thru, in Chiswick. The drive-thru will be at Chiswick Pavilion, Riverside Drive, W4, with time slots and menus all bookable via the company’s website from Tuesday (13 April) onwards. The menu will include a “Feast Box for one – 16-hour oak-smoked brisket, buffalo wings, lamb barbecoa, chunky chips, a hushpuppy (deep-fried balls of corn, cheese, polenta and chives), Afghan chutney and chilli aioli all served up on a large naan”, and “Bun Meal Platters – featuring brisket with chutney, fried chicken with chilli aioli, lettuce or vegan hash brown – all with chips”. 

Vegan subscription box company raises £3.5m: Vegan subscription box company TheVeganKind has raised £3.5m in a Series A funding round. The company, based in London, has secured the funding from Literacy Capital, supported by PwC. As part of the £3.5m investment, additional retail and consumer experience will be added to the business in the short term. Chief executive Scott McCulloch said: “We are so proud to announce this monumental day in our history. In Literacy Capital, we have found incredible partners and a value-aligned fund that operates with an added charitable mission.” Richard Pindar, chief information officer of Literacy Capital, added: “The tailwinds in the sector, as well as the health, welfare and environmental benefits that TheVeganKind is providing are really encouraging. The aims and objectives of the founders resonate really well with our own charitable and business objectives. We look forward to assisting the team and helping expand TheVeganKind even further.”

Chipotle to pay tuition for select degrees for employees: Chipotle is to begin offering debt-free college degrees for employees in related fields, including agriculture, culinary, supply chain and hospitality. The programme, which is open to all employees who have worked at the company for at least four months in the US, offers 100 different degree options at ten US universities. Chipotle covers all costs up front – including tuition – for these debt-free programmes for select degrees and colleges. “Diversifying our debt-free degree programme with new majors and partner universities makes our educational benefits even more inclusive,” Marissa Andrada, chief diversity, inclusion and people officer at Chipotle said. “Through our partnership with Guild, we are committed to accelerating our employees’ professional growth and helping them achieve personal success by offering opportunities to pursue career paths in their particular area of interest.” The eligible degrees are in fields that relate to Chipotle’s purpose and mission as a planet-friendly foodservice company. 

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