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Mon 26th Apr 2021 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Shell to explore evolving F&B offer across nationwide forecourt estate: Petrol forecourt operator Shell has begun exploring its options to evolve the food and beverage offer across circa 130 of its sites in the UK, Propel has learned. Writing in Friday’s (23 April) Propel Premium Opinion, Propel insights editor Mark Wingett said he understood the company had begun a tendering process to food and beverage operators to take space across said sites. It is thought the petrol forecourt operator is looking for operators to take either in-store concessions, circa 1,000 square foot bolt-on units or develop adjacent land to its sites. It is understood brands including the Azzurri Group-owned Coco Di Mama, Fridays and Chopstix have all expressed an interest in exploring the opportunity to fill some of the space being offered. It comes at a time when rival EG Group is looking to enhance its own food and beverage brand mix across its UK forecourt estate, which last week saw it acquire Leon in a £100m deal. EG Group said the acquisition of Leon as a proprietary brand enhances the already extensive foodservice brand portfolio it operates, with this already including third-party brands such as Starbucks, KFC, Burger King, Greggs, Sbarro, Cinnabon and Subway. In 2019, Shell broadened its food-to-go appeal with the introduction of Jamie Oliver’s Deli by Shell. It features a deli counter and chiller cabinet offering a selection of hot food-to-go items including traditional pastry goods such as a premium hog roast sausage roll, chilli and curry hot pots, sandwiches, wraps, toasties, cakes and pastries. Healthier options include fruit and vegetable snack pots, salad bowls and sushi.

Industry News:

Sponsored message – Harri to host ‘lessons to be learnt from QSR leaders’ webinar: During the pandemic and the consequent lockdown, who were the winners and who were the losers? It might be obvious to say hospitality greatly suffered but not everyone had the same experience – many quick service restaurants (QSR) and delivery outlets managed to stay open and didn’t just survive, but thrived, in an extremely tough climate. There is much to be learnt from QSR restaurants, in their versatility and boundary-pushing usage of tech, be it behind the scenes or in their customer-facing operations. QSR has developed massively during the pandemic on both sides of the Atlantic, driving the acceleration of tech usage, multi-lane drive-thrus, more click and collect and online ordering and less eat-in (at least for the moment). Harri recently invited four hugely successful QSR leaders to a panel discussion where they spoke about the challenges they faced, and successes they enjoyed throughout the pandemic. Hosted by Peter Martin, of the Atlantic Club, and with Pete Willis, from Harri, we speak to Richard Dening-Smitherman, chief operating officer at Burger King; Juliett Campbell, HR director at Papa John’s UK; Jade Casey, head of people at Wingstop; and Grant Read, people and operations director at KFC franchisee Demipower. The webinar will be held on Wednesday (28 April) at 9am – register here. To find out more about Harri click here. If you have information you would like to feature in a sponsored message, email paul.charity@propelinfo.com

Yumpingo looks at upgrading your guest journey in latest Data Masterclass video: Propel has launched a series of videos with its partners to help operators make the most of their data as they rebuild from the pandemic. The latest video from the Data Masterclass, which is sponsored by Airship and Toggle, sees George Wetz, chief product officer and chief technology officer at Yumpingo, cover the digitisation of the guest experience and how forward-thinking brands can leverage more of their data to exceed expectations throughout the guest journey, and rebuild customer confidence and loyalty in this critical time. Other companies taking part in the series are Airship, DataHawks, Reputation, S4labour, Startle, Wireless Social, Yapster and Zonal. The video will be sent at 9am on Monday (26 April).
 
Brands with big UK growth plans lead the updated multi-site database, only available to Propel Premium subscribers: The updated Propel Premium multi-site database, which will be sent to Premium subscribers on Friday (30 April) at midday, has gained an additional 84 companies during the past month, many of which have big growth ambitions in the UK. Subscribers will receive a 4,600-word report on the 84 new brands, concepts and growth companies. They include: Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, founded in the US in 1972, has announced plans to enter the UK this year, as has Japanese udon noodles and tempura restaurant company Marugame Udon, with a July opening planned for Spitalfields and a second site at The O2 to follow. Others include Australia’s largest Mexican quick-service franchise Zambrero and South Korea’s leading fried chicken brand Pelicana. Doppio Malto has chosen Glasgow for its first opening in the UK, with the owner citing Italy’s connection with the city for the decision – it is the first of 100 planned sites. Miso Group, co-founded by Canadian chef Adria Wu, is planning a UK rollout of a technology-led Middle Eastern-inspired concept called Operation:Falafel. Hero Brands-operated healthy eating concept Choppaluna has announced a UK rollout, with two London sites being looked at to complement its flagship site in Bloomsbury. The debut site for JiJi’s, a new Israeli-Japanese dining concept, will launch in London’s Islington Square development in June. Meanwhile, Australian entrepreneur Dennis Turner and former Deliveroo global head of restaurant strategy Cengiz Rahmioglu are to launch a Thai-focused concept called Burning Rose. The exhaustive database now holds the details of 1,713 companies – and is only available to Propel Premium subscribers. 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 also receive access to Propel’s library of lockdown videos and Friday Wrap interviews and now also have access to a curated video library of the sector’s finest leaders and entrepreneurs, offering their insights on running outstanding businesses in the sector. 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.

Consumer confidence sees record jump, Brits set for spending splurge: The first three months of 2021 saw a record quarterly rise in consumer confidence, rising six percentage points in the first quarter, to minus 11%, according to the latest Deloitte Consumer Tracker. Every measure of confidence saw both year-on-year and quarter-on-quarter growth, as consumers journey out of lockdown with a spring in their step. In an encouraging sign, consumers are preparing for further lockdown easing, with discretionary spending growing in the quarter, albeit by one percentage point. While net spending in most of the discretionary categories remain below where it was a year ago, there was strong quarterly growth in demand for holidays and categories related to socialising, such as going out and eating out. While limited to takeaway options over this period, eating out saw the biggest quarterly rise in net spending, up ten percentage points, to minus 43%, followed by drinking in pubs and bars – up nine percentage points compared with the last quarter. With restaurants and non-essential retail remaining closed, consumers’ disposable cash grew in the quarter. Household disposable income saw a seven percentage point boost to minus 10%; marking a 17 percentage-point improvement compared with the same period last year. Further, consumers’ confidence in their level of debt has tipped over to the black, at 1%, for the first time in ten years. While consumers seek to socialise again, they remain more hesitant, at least in the short term, on attending large events and festivals. Just 7% said they would go to a live event within a month of being permitted to, with 25% preferring to wait six months or more. Deloitte chief economist Ian Stewart said: “The UK is primed for a sharp snap back in consumer activity. High levels of saving, the successful vaccination rollout and the easing of the lockdown set the stage for a surge in spending over the coming months.”

Charlie McVeigh – it's a time of opportunity: Draft House founder and sector investor Charlie McVeigh has argued the pandemic will throw up opportunities. Writing in Friday's (23 April) Propel Premium Opinion, he stated: “It seems we are staring at a minimum five-year restructuring of our city centres to make them relevant again, at a time when government money will be tight and the luxury of rethinking a public realm/space in a beautiful/practical way may not be available to us. Meanwhile, for the first time in a generation, our suburbs and market towns are on top. Companies such as Loungers and Oakman Inns report record sales. Property developers are talking about regenerating long-broken town centres to create ‘office and wellness centres’ to lure traumatised work from home employees out of the broom cupboard office and back into a socialised working environment. So, what’s the opportunity? Assuming we all agree that western civilisation is not coming to an end, we have to believe that from this devastating value destruction there is an almighty property opportunity coming. Think of it as a meal. For a starter, it’s a pre-requisite that any company with a leasehold estate that has any weighting at all in financial districts and/or city centres should embrace the company voluntary arrangement or pre-pack. I don’t think there is a choice. If there is any residual shame in insolvency it will soon have disappeared. Some sites will need to be shed. In the rest, rents need to be brought down to a level where staff can be employed, prices reduced (does anyone still think the £7 pint is a good idea?) and a healthy cash profit returned. We are only just clearing out the zombies from the ‘space race’ and don’t need covid-19 to create any more. The main course will be new prime city centre leases on terms that, even in January, we could only dream about. Yes, there will be risk and low footfall. But sites will have existing Rolls-Royce fit-outs paid for by someone else and competition will be reduced. The chance is there to offer value and quality to the customer.”

Scotland a ‘good way off’ reducing one-metre distancing in pubs and restaurants outdoors: There are no plans to reduce social distancing requirements between households at hospitality venues outdoors in the near future, Scottish chief medical officer Gregor Smith has said. It comes after many hospitality venues complained about new guidance released last week, which stipulates guests from different households must maintain a one-metre distance from each other. Industry figures had expected the rules to apply just between tables, which would allow for greater capacity. Asked why the distancing rule also applies outside, as it is known that covid-19 is less easily transmitted outdoors, Smith said the guidance was about “gradients of risk”, and this distance was unlikely to be shortened any time soon. He said: “Outdoor settings are safer than indoor settings, that’s the starting point. But outdoor settings themselves are not completely risk-free. One metre is not as safe as two metres, whether you’re indoors or outdoors – that’s the science behind the dispersal of this virus, particularly around droplet and aerosol spread. It may come that, over time, as we learn more about the way the vaccine programme has an influence on transmission, we will be able to give further advice on that, but we’re a good way off that yet.” Hospitality will be allowed to reopen in Scotland from Monday (26 April), with pubs and restaurants allowed to serve food without alcohol indoors until 8pm, and food with alcohol outdoors until licensing laws allow.
 
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a new, yet growing, pub operator that is on the lookout for an operations director based in Hampshire/Surrey. The company has a few sites so far and will be rapidly expanding across the Midlands and south of England. The operations director will oversee all properties, lead all new openings and focus on building skilled and motivated company-wide teams. In addition to food and drink, there is a rooms element to the business so the company would prefer a candidate who has both rooms and either gastropub or restaurant experience. The operations director will have full financial responsibility and will, ideally, be passionate about cultivating a great brand and driving strong marketing. The position is paying £75,000 to £90,000. Anyone interested can email Stuart@corecruitment.com
COREcruitment is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member
 

Company News:

Greggs to open more stores with extensive sit-down areas as it looks to compete with fast food and coffee shop operators: Food to go operator Greggs is set to open more stores with extensive sit-down areas as it looks to compete with fast food and coffee shop operators. Greggs chief executive Roger Whiteside also said the company had found where it had converted buildings such as pubs and banks, which have a bit of parking space, these were doing “really well” as they were attracting passing trade as well as locals on foot. Speaking on the latest Propel Friday Wrap, Whiteside said: “The other thing we are doing in these suburban locations is what I call our coffee shop format, which is really a Greggs with more seats, and these are doing really well. So even if we don’t need an additional site in a location, we are re-siting to give us better space, and that is a trend we are deploying in city centres as well. One of the things that I think will happen over time is if you are not required to go shopping out of necessity and therefore go on the internet, a lot of people want to go shopping not because they need to, but it is something to do. In that environment that is more of a leisure experience, and here a provision of seats is part of the way of competing for their attention. So, you are going to see more and more Greggs, with more and more seats competing with coffee shop operators and fast food operators that offer that alternative. We want to be there and offer a service to those who don’t just pop in and out of a Greggs but sit down for a few minutes and catch up with their friends.” Whiteside said he was confident city centres would be able to reinvent themselves – albeit “they clearly won’t come back to the levels where they were before the pandemic”. He added: “Students are a big part of cities, and when they come back, I can’t imagine why we wouldn't have as many shops as we have in city centres. Meanwhile we are also well represented in all the places outside city centres where people might reside more now. We have seen a resurgence in local town centres during the pandemic and we are there too. We are covered on all bases really.”

BrewDog signs lease on Las Vegas rooftop site: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has signed a lease to open a rooftop bar in Las Vegas. The new bar is set to open on the roof of the Showcase Mall, alongside a swimming pool and urban forest, a ten-barrel brewing system and a beer museum. Co-founder James Watt tweeted in January: “BrewDog Las Vegas anyone? Currently in talks for this amazing rooftop terrace location in the heart of the neon-soaked Las Vegas strip. Watch this space.” BrewDog has been steadily expanding its bar network in the US since it launched its brewery in Columbus, Ohio, in 2017, and is due to open a site in Cleveland.

JKS Restaurants to launch new restaurant Bibi in Mayfair: JKS Restaurants, led by Karam, Jyotin and Sunaina Sethi, is set to open a new high-end restaurant called Bibi in London’s Mayfair. According to Eater London, the new venture, which will open in June and be led by chef Chet Sharma, will launch on the former Truc Vert site in North Audley Street, with the cooking “rooted in south Asian traditions and flavour profiles but will apply the principles of modern Indian cuisine so well established in the wealthy and upmarket Mayfair environs”. JKS Restaurants also owns Michelin-starred Trishna in Marylebone, Indian restaurant and bar Brigadiers in the City, and backs Michelin-starred Kitchen Table, Lyles and Sabor. Its portfolio also includes delivery brand Motu and Iranian-influenced restaurant Berenjak. It also backs the Bao and Hopper concepts. 

Indo-Chinese concept Fatt Pundit to replace Polpo in Covent Garden: Indo-Chinese restaurant concept Fatt Pundit is to open its second site in London’s Covent Garden. The company, which opened its debut site in Soho’s Berwick Street in 2019, has secured the former Polpo site in Maiden Lane. Owned by Huzefa and Hamza Sajawal, two brothers from Mumbai, Fatt Pundit serves up Hakka food. Hakka is an Indo-Chinese combination that melds traditional Chinese ingredients and techniques such as wok cooking with bold Indian flavours. This culinary fusion originated in Kolkata when the Hakka people migrated from the Chinese province of Canton to India. Tom Crosthwaite at CDG Leisure acted on behalf of Fatt Pundit. 

Various Eateries adds Putney to Coppa Club pipeline: Various Eateries, the AIM-listed Andy Bassadone-chaired business, has added a possible opening in Putney to the site pipeline for its Coppa Club brand. Propel understands the 11-strong group has applied to open a site in Brewhouse Lane, Putney Wharf. It is thought if successful, the group will look to open at the site later this year, alongside other potential openings for the brand in Bristol and Haslemere, Surrey. Propel revealed last week Various Eateries was in advanced talks to take the former Georgian Hotel in Haslemere for an opening later this year. Propel also understands Various Eateries is in talks to take on the ex-PizzaExpress site in Bristol’s Regent Street. Last September, Various Eateries raised £25m through an initial public offering and said it believed there was potential to open up to 100 sites under its fledgling Tavolino brand, and capacity for more than 50 Coppa Clubs across the UK. It launched its latest Coppa Club – the seventh under the brand, in Cobham – at the start of last December. 

Company behind Yorkshire theme park Flamingo Land repays £1.5m of £5m CBILS after 2020 trading outside of lockdown ‘better than expected’: The company behind Yorkshire theme park Flamingo Land has repaid £1.5m of £5m it borrowed through the Coronavirus Business Loan Interruption Scheme after trading last year outside of lockdown was “better than expected”. The group said it was optimistic about a successful trading season in 2021 and believes it will see improved visitor numbers “as long as there are no further lockdowns”. It said despite the various lockdowns during 2020, the company remained in profit. It plans to continue development of the former Ashfield Manor Country Manor property into hotel accommodation “as soon as it is reasonably practical” and hopes to complete its new ten-inversion roller coaster during 2021. An area of land in Scotland that is earmarked for a potential future leisure development remains in the pipeline. A planning application was submitted in 2019 but subsequently withdrawn to allow the plans to be reviewed and resubmitted and “this remains in hand”. The company stated: “At the onset of covid-19, the first and immediate decision was to pause all elective expenditure including work on the new ride and the hotel project. Most of the workforce was furloughed, and the company was fortunate to be able to agree arrangements to defer some loan repayments.” The company provided the update as it reported turnover fell to £29.6m for the year ending 31 March 2020, compared with £32m the previous year. Pre-tax profit was down to £1.3m, compared with £3.3m the year before. The theme park, holiday village and zoo is based in Malton, North Yorkshire, and employs almost 400 staff. 
 
Dorset-based chef Harriet Mansell to launch wine bar and taproom for second site: Dorset-based chef Harriet Mansell is to launch a wine bar and taproom in Lyme Regis for her second site. Mansell will open Lilac in Broad Street in July, which will have 40 covers and focus on low intervention wine and small plates. It will “echo the ethos” of Mansell’s debut restaurant – Robin Wylde, which launched in nearby Silver Street in October. Lilac will sit in a 400-year-old cellar and offer a selection of wine sourced from small-scale Dorset vineyards. A continuously changing menu of seasonal small plates will accompany the drinks, with a focus on vegetables, zero waste and sustainability. Example dishes include tempura sea vegetables with smoked roe, elderflower and mint; mackerel crudo with watercress oil and pine vinegar, as well as lobster on the fire with strawberry, rose and verbena. Freshly baked bread with house charcuterie and cheese will also be on the menu. Mansell said: “Lilac has been a long time in the planning, and with the lifting of lockdown restrictions and a general sense of optimism in the air, now feels like the perfect time to bring something new to Lyme.” Robin Wylde, which has 26-covers, will reopen on Wednesday, 19 May. There, Mansell serves a single, ten to 12-course tasting menu with a strong focus on the area’s array of seafood, alongside wild and foraged ingredients. 
 
Chef Thomas Straker launches pop-up at Carousel ahead of debut restaurant opening, Kerridge and Padoan pop-ups launched: Chef Thomas Straker, previously of Elystan Street and Casa Cruz, has launched a rotating culinary pop-up at Carousel in Marylebone. Right Then, serving new dishes each weekend until the end of spring, will act as a precursor to opening his first restaurant, Acre. Named after the line with which he opens all his Instagram recipe videos, the pop-up features dishes including potato gnocchi with beef and pork ragu. Acre, which is set to serve Mediterranean-inspired food, will open in London later this year. Tom Kerridge has opened an outdoors pop-up called Garden Grill at the Corinthia London. Kerridge operates his restaurant Kerridge’s Bar and Grill at the Corinthia London but it doesn’t have any outside space. Garden Grill operates at weekends until mid-May, with head chef Nick Beardshaw focusing on the likes of whole lobster and turbot on the bone. Meanwhile, Popham Bakery’s chef de partie Jack Padoan has launched his pop-up restaurant Hotel Savioli at Hackney’s Silver Lining. The name is inspired by the hotel Padoan’s late great aunt and uncle ran in Riccione, Italy, and has a flagship sandwich – a brioche bun with smoked ox tongue and panko-crusted cod cheeks, topped with rich bone marrow aioli and horseradish. Hotel Savioli is expected to appear as a residency at other sites throughout the year. 
 
Suffolk-based non-alcoholic craft kombucha brand closes crowdfunding campaign after raising £1.35m: Suffolk-based non-alcoholic craft kombucha brand LA Brewery has closed its campaign on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube after raising £1.35m – more than double its original target. The company, founded in 2017 by entrepreneur Louise Avery, was aiming to raise £500,000 as part of a bigger £2m package of growth capital funding and was offering 10.55% equity in return for the Crowdcube investment. It has now closed the campaign with 818 investors pledging £1.35m. The business will use the new funds to complete expansion works at its Suffolk brewery site and for working capital purposes as it invests behind brand development and the launch of more innovative non-alcoholic craft drinks. Avery said: “We’ve seen brilliant success with our latest products Citrus Hops and Sparkling English Rose, and fantastic growth with our new online shop. January was a record month for us as we saw a 171% increase in online orders compared with December 2020. The crowdfund is part of a total raise for up to £2m including the Future Fund scheme.”
 
New Irish pub opens in Highgate: A new Irish pub has opened in Highgate, north London. Local musician John Rynne and head chef Michael Spurgeon, who was previously at the Nickel restaurant in Crouch End and Season Kitchen in Finsbury Park, have launched Brendan the Navigator. It has opened in Highgate Hill for alfresco dining, after taking over the building that used to be The Tourian Lounge and, before that, the Old Crown Inn. The food menu includes fresh Cornish fish, burgers and Middle Eastern lamb wraps, reports The Ham & High. The pub will also offer live folk music when restrictions are lifted.
 
Town Hotels to open two new sites in Liverpool following £11m investment: Town Hotels, the hospitality division of Liverpool-based property development company Living Brick, will open two new hotels in the city this year following an £11m investment. The company will launch the £4.2m, 30-bedroom, Duke Street Hotel next month. Town will also open the Baltic Triangle’s first hotel in July after investing about £7m into the project. The 58-bedroom hotel will include “Shoreditch-style” dining facilities and bars, in a nod to the similarities between London’s east End and the city’s burgeoning Baltic area. The hotels have been created by Kevin Doran, founder of Living Brick, and his business partner, Phil Walsh. The pair already operate York Street Studios and Chavasse apartments – a portfolio of modern serviced apartments in Liverpool city centre. Doran said: “Both hotels will be pitched to UK and European visitors to the city looking for stylish, but uncomplicated accommodation.”
 
New open-air multi-purpose events space to launch in Canning Town: A new open-air multi-purpose events space, featuring a food area and multiple bars, is to launch in London this summer. Co-created by the founders of The Cause and Costa Del Tottenham, Ernie’s Yard will be situated in an ex-east end scrapyard in Canning Town. The 12,000 square foot site will be built from repurposed shipping containers and be licensed until 11pm. With multiple areas, one will feature stacked shipping containers creating an enclosed double-height clubbing space with a balcony split into booths overlooking the dance floor. The food area will feature street food traders with the line-up to be announced soon. Co-founder Stuart Glen said: “We’ve been juggling where to put 19 40-foot shipping containers for two years. It’s been a sticky situation to say the least but somehow we’ve managed to pull in some favours and Ernie’s Yard was born – a killer new daytime space for London.”
 
Distillery closes crowdfunding campaign to launch gin school franchise after raising more than £315,000: Gin distillery Nelson’s has closed its campaign on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to launch a global gin school franchise after raising more than £315,000. The company, founded by former chef Neil Harrison, had been aiming to raise £300,000 and was offering 5.67% equity in return for the investment, giving a pre-money valuation of £5m. A total of 370 investors have pledged £317,868. In 2019, Nelson’s Distillery & School was formed in Uttoxeter, Staffordshire, by acquiring a 290-litre state-of-the-art still and the construction of a 28-seat gin school. The pitch stated: “We’ve already developed an e-commerce solution, gin school management platform and a gin school franchise model, so we’re well-positioned to take advantage of the forecasted growth in the premium gin market. The goal is to have a Nelson’s gin school in all major cities.”
 
North Brewing Co opens new multimillion-pound home as it doubles production capacity: Leeds-based brewer North Brewing Co has opened its new multimillion-pound home. Springwell, based in a former tannery in Buslingthorpe Lane in the north of the city, sees North Brewing Co double its capacity, open a 500-person taproom, and move its bar and brewery headquarters under one roof. North Brewing Co’s brewing output will increase to 16,000 hectolitres (2.8 million pints a year). Springwell provides a central hub for the brewery and its family of seven bars and taprooms. The 21,000 square foot space also provides a training space for its bar teams. The business received a Business Growth Programme Fund grant from the West Yorkshire Combined Authority to support the project. North Brewing Co co-founder John Gyngell said: “The past five years have seen fantastic growth at the brewery. We have consistently doubled our production year-on-year and have reached the limits of our capacity to brew at our current site.”
 
Waterlooville pub and Southsea nightclub owners team up for new venture: Waterlooville pub owner Mick Forfar and Southsea nightclub owner Steve Kingsley have teamed up for a new venture in Southsea. The duo are transforming The Italian Bar and Grill restaurant in Great Southsea Street into a food-led pub and boutique hotel with a £250,000 investment. The grade II-listed building has lain empty for the past year and the property is now returning to its pub roots. The 140-seat venue, called Carter and Co, will also feature seven en-suite bedrooms upstairs, which will become a “boutique hotel”. Forfar, who owns the Number 73 bar and hotel in Waterlooville, told the Portsmouth News: “The focus is good food and wine, and we’re hoping to open in May.”
 
London-based operators to launch monthly wine club subscriptions: Peckham-based wine shop and neighbourhood restaurant Peckham Cellars and Islington wine bar and shop Provisions are launching monthly wine club subscriptions from next month. Club Del Vino from Peckham Cellars will deliver bottles direct to subscriber’s doorsteps, with customers able to opt for either four or six bottles of their choice. There is no sign-up fee or minimum membership period, and subscribers get 10% off in the wine shop – both online and in store – and in the restaurant at Peckham Cellars. Helen Hall, Luke West-Whylie and Ben McVeigh launched Peckham Cellars in late 2019. Meanwhile, Provisions, in Holloway Road, is offering an exploration of low-intervention wines via themed cases each month. Each case will contain six different wines and tell a story, inviting subscribers to learn while they drink, with tasting sheets on hand to guide them through each bottle. The theme for the first month is Orange Crush, taking customers on a journey through the world of orange wine.
 
New £250,000 indoor inflatable park to launch in Preston next month: A new £250,000 indoor inflatable park is set to open in Preston next month. Jump Maniax has been designed as a 20,000 square foot covid-secure site and is the biggest of its kind in the north west. The attraction, off Mercer Street, will launch on Monday, 17 May when step three of the government roadmap is due to come into force. Director Samir Patel said: “We were ready to open earlier this year, so we're thrilled to finally be bringing the next generation of leisure attractions to Preston for the whole city to enjoy. This is the biggest indoor inflatable park in the region with 15 different inflatables all joined together to create a huge bouncy playground.”
 
D&D London receives covid-19 training recognition: Restaurant group D&D London has won the Springboard Award of Excellence for best internal covid-19 training programme. The company was recognised for its dedication to the safety of both staff and visitors. As part of its reaction to the pandemic, D&D London hosted a series of webinars and developing detailed and contextual online training resources for its 1,200-plus strong workforce. The Springboard judges said D&D London demonstrated “a complete all-rounded approach to safely training staff and reopening sites”. They were impressed with the “incredible feedback of staff who, not only felt safe with the procedures in place, but had a firm understanding in their own role to play in the overall process”.
 
Barons Eden reopens Staffordshire site following £14m investment: Barons Eden, the luxury hotel and spa group, has begun reopening its Staffordshire property, Hoar Cross Hall, following the group’s largest investment ever, in excess of £14m. The 150-year-old property has seen the retreat’s 97 bedrooms, full-service spa and communal areas all receive significant upgrades. The objective behind the overhaul, which spanned more than two years, was to update the property in line with its luxury offering while maintaining the property’s rich history and heritage. Barons Eden director Edward Law said: “This is a significant investment for the group as we wanted to ensure Hoar Cross Hall, as one of the biggest spa resorts in Europe, both met and exceeded expectations. We are expecting a huge surge in demand following a period of such uncertainty and are already seeing an increase in bookings for the summer months and beyond.”

Yorkshire’s ‘first dedicated festival site’ to be created with £5m investment: The team behind a Yorkshire music festival has invested £5m in the purchase and transformation of a permanent site for the event. MiNT Festival has bought a new 136-acre site at Newsam Green Farm, just outside Leeds city centre, which it said is Yorkshire’s “first ever dedicated festival site”. The site was originally an open coal mine before becoming a livestock farm. This comes after a year in which festivals, including MiNT, were cancelled, with the event set to return on 25 September. Shane Graham, founder of the festival, said: “We have taken MiNT Festival all over Leeds, Wetherby and as far as Lincoln showground in search for a home that provided an atmosphere the attendees deserve. We have been looking for a permanent site for the past three years and have finally found the location that ticks all the boxes.”

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