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Mon 17th May 2021 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

IPO remains favoured route for Hawthorn despite private equity interest: A London stock exchange listing remains the favoured route for community pub company Hawthorn despite reported interest from private equity firms in the Mark Davies-led circa 700-strong pub business. Parent group NewRiver announced it would explore the potential for an initial public offering (IPO) of Hawthorn last month, following a strategic review. Propel understands the business has already received a high level of interest from institutions wishing to participate in the process. It is thought this process is well advanced, with the company understood to have completed an initial roadshow of up to 20 large institutions and securing take up from the majority. Meanwhile, a number of private equity firms and investment vehicles are understood to have expressed an interest in Hawthorn. The Sunday Times reported this included RedCat Pub Company, the investment vehicle led by Rooney Anand, with Hawthorn valued at £200m. Propel understands RedCat is one of a number of businesses to have expressed an interest although it is not thought to be currently a priority target for the Oaktree Capital-backed vehicle. A source close to the process told Propel: “It’s clear people see an opportunity to back a high-quality business, with a highly-regarded management team and a significant scale/growth opportunity. It would be more worrying if there were no such expressions of interest. Hawthorn and NewRiver have a fiduciary duty to shareholders to ensure they deliver the best value from the IPO process, and therefore the IPO valuation needs to be tested against other options.” Last month, Davies told Propel that Hawthorn was looking to expand to between 2,000 and 3,000 community wet-led pubs under its plans to float as a standalone business. He said an IPO would allow it to accelerate its growth ambitions and would put it in a great position to consolidate the leased and tenanted market. Davies said it would also allow Hawthorn to handle bigger packages of deals given its current REIT restrictions.

Industry News:

Nation’s love for coffee continues to rise as more sites open and operators added to updated Premium multi-site database: The UK’s love for coffee continues to rise as demonstrated by new coffee sites opening and their operators being added to the Propel Premium multi-site database in May. The updated database, which has the most comprehensive multi-site operator information in the sector, will include a minimum of 80 new companies when it is released on Friday, 28 May, at midday – and seven of those are coffee businesses. New additions include London-based Hermanos Colombian Coffee Roasters, Northern Ireland coffee and doughnut shop Guilt Trip, a Manchester opening for Gloria Jean’s, New Zealand-founded Allpress Espresso, Starbuck’s franchisee OCO Westend, an opening at LabTech’s Hawley Wharf for Amar Cafe, and coffee and brunch specialist Mule. Available only to subscribers, the exhaustive database was most recently sent at the end of April and included the details of 1,717 companies. The go-to database 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 are also to receive access to a second exclusive monthly database, The Propel Blue Book. This database will provide an insight into UK operator turnover and profitability over five years, profit conversion and directors’ earnings. It will be available on Friday, 4 June, at midday. 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 jo.charity@propelinfo.com to sign up.

Number of licensed premises down 7.4% since start of pandemic, just a third reopen for outdoor-only trading: The number of licensed premises has fallen 7.4% since the start of the pandemic, according to the latest Market Recovery Monitor from CGA and AlixPartners. It showed Britain had 106,548 licensed premises at the end of April—8,560 fewer than it did in March 2020. With the sector allowed to serve customers indoors again from today (Monday, 17 May), the Monitor showed just under a third (32.9%) of all licensed premises traded during Britain’s first phase of post-lockdown reopening. Just over 35,000 sites have welcomed guests since Monday, 12 April, with pubs returning in significantly higher numbers than restaurants. Across Britain, almost half (49.0%) of all food pubs and more than a third of community pubs (38.7%) and high street pubs (36.0%) traded in the first phase of reopening, compared with three in ten (29.2%) casual dining restaurants and one in six (16.6%) other restaurants. In England, 29.6% of venues have traded since venues were permitted to open for outdoor-only service. The figure was slightly higher (31.1%) in Scotland, where operators had to wait until Monday, 26 April, but were given the extra freedom to serve food indoors without alcohol until 8pm. Capacity was notably lower in Wales (24.6%). The Monitor highlighted some strong reopening rates in major city centres during this phase, including Leeds (41.7%), Newcastle (37.9%) and Manchester (37.3%), but lower numbers in London (29.1%). It suggests a good first phase of reopening for managed sites, with just over half (52.4%) of these trading—more than twice the number of independents (24.0%). Karl Chessell, CGA’s director for hospitality operators and food, EMEA, said: “The fact remains more than two thirds of Britain’s licensed premises were still unable able to welcome guests, and thousands of pubs, bars and restaurants have been closed for good during the pandemic. As we enter the second phase of hospitality’s reboot, the landscape of eating and drinking out is going to be much changed from pre-covid.” AlixPartners managing director Graeme Smith added: “The big test will be to see how many sites open their doors from today as we expect all those that are able to reopen to do so, other than some city centre sites reliant on office workers. This may provide the best indication as to the level of permanent closures caused by the lockdown restrictions.”
AlixPartners is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

BBPA – estimated 45,000 pubs to reopen with resumption of indoor trading but beer sales expected to be 65% below pre-pandemic levels: An estimated 45,000 pubs will reopen on Monday (17 May) following the lifting of restrictions but beer sales are expected to be 65% lower than pre-pandemic, according to the British Beer & Pub Association. The trade body said with the sector still facing heavier restrictions compared with normal, including venues required to ensure one-metre-plus social distancing is in place and able to operate table service-only, it predicts about three million pints will be sold – 1.6 million lower than a normal Monday. The BBPA also estimated some 2,000 pubs – 5% of all the pubs in the UK – would still remain closed despite indoor reopening because they are reliant on people being able to stand due to their small footprints. It is, therefore, urging the government to commit to 21 June for the lifting of all restrictions, including removal of social distancing and allowing vertical drinking and bar service to resume. BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin said: “This is by no means the end of the crisis for our sector. We need pubs fully reopened without any restrictions at all on 21 June if they are to survive and trade viably. The countdown to freedom, and recovery, is on.”
 
Scottish operator hits out at short notice Glasgow restrictions extension: A Glasgow operator has criticised the decision to keep Glasgow and Moray in level 3. First minister Nicola Sturgeon said on Friday (14 May) the areas will remain at level 3 of Scotland's five-tier system of coronavirus restrictions until a further decision is made at the end of next week. She said the situation in Glasgow is causing even more concern than Moray, with initial research suggesting the outbreak could be being driven by the Indian variant. Glasgow operator Mario Gizzi said: “It’s an absolute disgrace. Not only have our plans been thrown up in the air but it’s been done last thing on a Friday night. At just one of our sites, The Citizen in Glasgow, we’ve spent more than £6,000 in staff costs getting ready and roughly the same in fresh produce. As a standalone unit, all this food will be wasted and can’t be transferred to another restaurant. Even worse I’m now having to pay for extra staff in our call centre to cancel all this week’s bookings. It’s outrageous to have these hugely damaging decisions taken by people who have no idea of how the hospitality industry runs. When you look at the figures the offer of £750 in grant compensation really is a joke.” Scottish Hospitality Group spokesman Stephen Montgomery added: “I asked the Scottish government on Wednesday (12 May) for a heads-up about any changes and we didn’t get anything back. We’re in exactly the situation we wanted to avoid for the hospitality businesses in Glasgow. You can’t just turn this stuff on and off like flicking a light switch.”
 
Patisserie Valerie auditor rejects responsibility for collapse: The Sunday Times has reported Grant Thornton has rejected responsibility for the collapse of Patisserie Valerie, arguing the company’s directors were reckless and it did not have a duty to detect fraud. FRP Advisory filed a £225m claim against Grant Thornton, which audited Patisserie Valerie’s accounts for 12 years, in February. Papers lodged by FRP said Grant Thornton’s negligence meant directors were unaware the group had run out of cash. Grant Thornton’s defence said FRP is, in effect, asking the accountancy firm to “underwrite the entirety of the losses” suffered by Patisserie Valerie investors as it “continued to trade on the basis of inaccurate, and allegedly fraudulently manipulated, financial information”. It said FRP has failed to make a proper case for that, and claimed directors were reckless or negligent. Grant Thornton also argued an audit “is not designed to, and does not guarantee” financial statements are fraud-free. A statement to The Sunday Times from Grant Thornton said: “We will continue to rigorously defend the claim. As set out in our defence, Patisserie Valerie is a case that involves sustained and collusive fraud, including widespread deception of the auditors and ignores the failings of the board and management who were primarily responsible for the group’s accounts and the running of the business.” 
 
Market report reveals drinks winners in 2020: Argentinian wine, rosé and ready to drink beverages (RTDs) were some of the alcoholic drinks that saw a remarkable uplift in retail sales during lockdowns and restrictions in 2020. The Wine and Spirit Trade Association’s latest market report that gathers alcohol sales data – covering sales in supermarkets, shops and pubs, bars and restaurants – showed consumers were experimenting with new tipples during the pandemic. In the 12 months to 26 December 2020, sales of wine from Argentina in UK supermarkets and shops went up 41% compared with the year before. Five years ago in 2016, UK wine drinkers bought just under seven million bottles of Argentinian wine. Last year, Brits bought more than 50 million bottles. Wine proved to be a big hit with UK shoppers during 2020 with rosé seeing the biggest uplift in sales compared with 2019, up 22% in volume, with more than 113 million bottles sold. This compares with just over 22 million bottles sold in 2016. Although rosé wine sales have seen a meteoric rise in the past five years, sales of red and white wine still remain considerably higher. Last year, shops and supermarkets sold almost 508 million bottles of white wine and close to 434 million bottles of red. Another notable trend last year was a big increase in the number of RTDs – for example gin and tonic and cocktails in cans, along with new products such as hard seltzers – sold in supermarkets and shops. In 2020, Brits spent £412m on beverages from the RTD category, up 23% on the previous year. This is almost double the value of RTDs five years ago when the category was worth £234m.
 
Job of the day: COREcruitment is on the lookout for a general manager for a boutique hotel in Richmond. It is seeking an experienced general manager/deputy general manager with a luxury property background to lead the team. They will manage the ongoing profitability of the hotel, ensuring revenue and guest satisfaction targets are met and exceeded while developing the team in order to ensure career progression and effective succession planning. The position is paying between £65,000 and £70,000, plus bonus package. Anyone interested can email Lara@corecruitment.com 
COREcruitment is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member
 
Licensing update: Licensing solicitor John Gaunt & Partners has produced a useful monthly summary of licensing news featuring information regarding the easing of restrictions as set out in the roadmap, including the reopening of premises indoors from Monday (17 May), and also some John Gaunt & Partners news about promotions. This can be accessed here.
John Gaunt & Partners is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

Company News:

Willingham – we are winning conversations on property based on covenant, financial security and reliability rather than a bigger cheque: Sarah Willingham, chief executive of listed bar group Nightcap, has said the fascinating thing about the current property market is it is like “we are starting again and winning conversation based on covenant, financial security and reliability rather than a bigger cheque”. Speaking as part of Propel’s Friday Wrap series, Willingham said: “I had a conversation with Hugh Osmond a couple of weeks back and he said the property opportunity is one of the most interesting areas of growth for the sector but it is like you have to literally throw away anything you have learnt about taking on property for hospitality and start again. It is difficult because we are so used to being up against loads of people and whoever has got the biggest cheque, putting more money for the premium, gets the property. What’s fascinating now is it is like we are starting again and we are winning conversations based on covenant, financial security and reliability rather than a bigger cheque. In my entire career that has never happened before. Landlords going into new and empty properties are looking at reverse premiums, helping with the fit out, offering two-years rent free and at actually sensible rents. What is happening for us is we are looking at sites where the model is very similar to what we have had historically but the site is miles better – great sites on great streets in the middle of big cities, when previously for London Cocktail Club we were always thought of for two streets down from there, around the back. We are now coming right forward but also matching our needs in terms of the rent we need to pay and our return on investment is going to be higher than it has ever been because we are not paying premiums, the rent is low, but they are better sites and the turnover will be better. It is very frustrating for a lot of businesses and entrepreneurs, who are growth entrepreneurs, but are backed by either private equity or banks who are just saying for 18 months you must pay this debt down and we are not interested in a roll out. It is a shame because the opportunities really are there.”

Costa Coffee launches first in-store dedicated zone for remote workers: Costa Coffee, owned by Coca-Cola, has launched its first dedicated in-store dedicated zone for remote workers. The area will open on Monday (17 May) within the revamped store in West Hampstead in north London, which also includes a range of new enhanced digital features. The site in West End Lane also has a street-facing service counter and is only the second UK Costa Coffee store to offer a half-caffeine option. Positioned across the ground floor level of the store, the zone for remote workers features individual pods to work from. These spaces have been divided by screens to ensure personal space and privacy, with each section featuring a power socket and the use of free Wi-Fi. The renovated store is also equipped with new intelligent digital menu boards. These screens, which are positioned both behind the inside counter and at the street-facing counter, ensure product information from Costa Coffee’s menu can be updated quickly and efficiently. Customers can personalise the amount of caffeine in their coffee – standard caffeine, half-caffeine or decaf, with the help of a state-of-the-art grinder, which can accommodate multiple blends. Jamie Awdry, head of propositions at Costa Coffee, said: “Costa Coffee looks to provide customers with a range of choices, and this store does that; from the half-caffeine option, the street-facing service counter and the true stand-out feature: the dedicated work zones – a first for Costa Coffee in the UK – and an exciting new addition for customers to enjoy.”

Pret to have 366 shops open for dine-in, takeaway and delivery: Pret A Manger, the JAB Holdings-backed chain, will have 366 shops from its 389-strong estate open for dine-in, takeaway and delivery today (Monday, 17 May). Pret will bring back indoor seating in England and Wales and also reopen eight more shops. The sites will continue to operate with reduced hours and the company said menu items available will also vary by shop for the time being. The company said: “We have conducted a full review of our safety processes and believe we have strong protocols in place to ensure our shops can operate safely. Specific steps that we are taking to protect customers and those working in our shops include ensuring all employees and customers visiting Pret wear face coverings, unless exempt, or eating at a table, in line with the current government guidance; protective Perspex screens fitted a to the till counter; restricted customer flow into shops; provision of hand sanitiser gel to be available to customers as well as team members; and safety ‘refreshers’ for team members. Covid safety rules are currently in place in staff rooms to ensure teams are reminded daily. The latest guidance is also shared regularly with team members to ensure they remain front of mind. We will not allow for groups of more than six per table for indoor dining and tables and chairs will be sanitised after every use.”

Clare Smyth – I did not know if restaurants were going to exist again, sells three months of bookings in 20 minutes: Clare Smyth, the first female British chef to win three Michelin stars, has said at the height of the pandemic she did not know if restaurants “were going to exist again”. Smyth also revealed she sold out three months of bookings in 20 minutes when announcing her Core restaurant in London was reopening. During lockdown, Smyth has been training her team online. Staff members have been cooking for 600 people a week at the restaurant through various charity initiatives, as well as creating a tasting menu for customers in the capital that has seen all employees able to be retained. She told City AM: “Reopening is going to be quite emotional but the whole team is pumping and on fire. But it has been a challenge. We were all so shocked when this started. We did not know what the future held and I did not even know if restaurants were going to exist again. Now, I think people appreciate more than ever being able to go out and being able to have that experience. Cooking at home is one thing, having delivery boxes is another, but going somewhere with an atmosphere and having people serve and cook for you is a completely different thing.”
 
Aspirational Brands to open two entertainment venues in Cheshire: Aspirational Brands, a new growth vehicle that was formed to roll out a number of concepts across the UK, including Handmade Burger Co and Thai brand Lemongrass, is to open two leisure developments in Cheshire. Cheshire House Bar and Grill in Knutsford and Recardo’s in Hale will have an emphasis on entertainment, including a late-night drinking licence until 2.30am. Directing the creative development of the new ventures is Recardo Patrick, who was lead singer of the 1970s band Sweet Sensation. Recently appointed as associate director of acquisitions for Aspirational Brands, Patrick will be drawing on his years of experience and contacts to spearhead the development of the two concepts. Based in the former Brasserie Blanc in Knutsford, the 4,000 square foot Cheshire House Bar and Grill will open on Monday, 24 May. Set to open in August is Recardo’s in Hale, which has taken over the former Suburbia club. By day, Recardo’s will offer light bites, patisserie, coffee and tea, along with a selection of plant-based nibbles. At night, it will transform into an entertainment venue with capacity for 350 people, featuring a line-up of live performers playing 1970s, 1980s and disco classics. Howitt said: “Each venue will have its own identity, which is the foundation of our core beliefs. We are not a large commercial outfit pumping out chain restaurants. We are experts at nurturing independent brands built on community spirit.” Aspirational Brands has retained all of the former Brasserie Blanc staff for Cheshire House Bar and Grill and is adding another 30 positions across both sites.
 
Di Maggio’s Restaurant Group gets go-ahead for debut site in England: Scottish restaurant operator Di Maggio’s Restaurant Group has been given the go-ahead to open its debut site in England. The company has been granted permission by Newcastle City Council to bring its Cafe Andaluz tapas restaurant brand to Grey Street. It has secured the former Carluccio’s premises and the new bar and restaurant is expected to create 60 jobs. Rhian Thomas, associate at P4 Planning, which secured permission for Di Maggio’s Restaurant Group, said: “The new Cafe Andaluz will be the first of its kind in England and the decision by Newcastle City Council will see the building brought back to use in a quick timescale, boosting the vibrant restaurant offer in the city centre.” Di Maggio’s Restaurant Group operates 18 restaurants and five food court outlets across a number of different concepts and brands in Scotland. These include five sites under the Cafe Andaluz brand, with two each in Glasgow and Edinburgh, and one in Aberdeen. The company also operates the Di Maggio’s and Amarone brands in Scotland.
 
Raymond Blanc sells £1m of Nightcap shares: Chef Raymond Blanc has made £1m by selling shares in Nightcap, the bar group founded by Dragons’ Den star Sarah Willingham. Nightcap raised £10m in a share placing on 12 May that was oversubscribed. It said to satisfy demand, Blanc and restaurateur David Moore, another big shareholder, sold some of their stock at the same price as the placing. Blanc sold 4,347,826 shares at 23p each for a total of £1m and Moore sold 2,350,000 shares, receiving £540,500. The sales leave Blanc owning 3.93% of Nightcap and Moore with a 4.16% stake. Willingham founded Nightcap with Michael Toxvaerd to help bar and late-night entrepreneurs and businesses recapitalise balance sheets, and to access growth funding as the UK hospitality and leisure sector emerges from the pandemic, and guests return to venues. The company floated in January and bought London Cocktail Club, a business Willingham had already invested in with Blanc and Moore. Earlier this month, Nightcap agreed to buy a second business, Adventure Bar Group. Nightcap raised £10m to further its investment strategy and to roll out Adventure Bar Group, as well as reduce its debt.
 
‘UK’s first’ mochi bar opens at Japan Centre: The “UK’s first” mochi bar has opened at Japan Centre, the Japanese food hall in Soho led by Shoryu Ramen founder Tak Tokumine. The site will specialise in the brand’s signature Japanese baked goods, including mochi donuts pon de ring, mochi cookies, mochi daifuku, mochi pan bread, Mochi dango and Mochi ice cream. In addition, the venue offers a range of bubble tea. Japan Centre, which was founded in London, is one of the largest Japanese food halls in Europe.
 
Black Sheep Hotels invests £20m in portfolio in anticipation of tourism surge: Scottish operator Black Sheep Hotels has invested more than £20m in its Highland portfolio of boutique hotels, lodges and restaurants in Lochaber and Inverness-shire ahead of an anticipated surge in tourism in the region. The investment has created more than 80 jobs in time for the further lifting of restrictions in the country, with the company set to welcome more than 1,250 guests to its three hotels and four restaurants in two weeks’ time. In addition, the business is adding a pop-up version of its Inverness-based Asian restaurant, Tiger on the Wall, in Fort William and a bakery in Glenmoriston. The company, which operates The Whispering Pine Lodge on the shores of Loch Lochy in Lochaber, Rokeby Manor in Invergarry and the Cluanie Inn in Glenmoriston, has added an additional 19 bedrooms to these properties in the form of self-catering cabins. The pop-up restaurant will be located opposite fort William’s Highland Cinema, which opened last year. The restaurant will be open throughout the main tourist season and will close briefly in the autumn for a full refurbishment. Black Sheep Hotels will also open the Landour Bake House opposite The Cluanie Inn, which will serve homemade cakes, pastries and sandwiches from recipes dating to the 1890s. Sanjay Narang, owner of Black Sheep Hotels, said: “We anticipate a surge in demand in tourism, especially from within the UK at the start of the season and we think this popularity is set to stay. Our £20m investment and expansion of our portfolio reflects both the market opportunities we predict as well as our commitment to the Highland economy and creating sustainable employment.”
 
Chop and Wok opens in Walsall for ninth site: Birmingham-based wrap and noodle brand Chop and Wok has opened a site in Walsall for its ninth outlet. The company has opened the restaurant in Bridge Street. Franchisee Haydor Ali told the Express & Star: “I really wanted to contribute to the regeneration of the Bridge Street area in Walsall and knew straight away Chop and Wok would be the perfect contribution.” Chop and Wok, which opened its debut restaurant in 2009, operates six sites in Birmingham and one each in Wellington and Wolverhampton. The brand offers dishes such as noodles, rice, soup, curries and a range of sides.
 
Mediterranean restaurant concept La’De Kitchen lines up two new openings: Mediterranean restaurant concept La’De Kitchen is to grow its south east-based estate to five sites after lining up two new openings. The group, which is led by Sukru Soydas, is set to open on the former Café Rouge site in Newbury's Parkway shopping centre. Propel also understands La’De Kitchen has lined up an opening on the former Frankie & Benny’s site in The Atrium scheme in Camberley. La’De Kitchen, which specialises in Turkish, Greek and Italian food, already has restaurants in Pangbourne, Woodley and Muswell Hill, London.
 
Neat Burger, Honi Poke and Lokma sign up for Westfield Stratford: Lewis Hamilton-backed plant-based concept Neat Burger, Turkish restaurant and cocktail bar Lokma, and Hawaiian poké specialist Honi Poké have all signed up to open at Westfield Stratford. Lokma, which currently operates a site in Bermondsey Square, will open a 6,000 square foot offering at the scheme’s The Street this summer including an outdoor Shisha terrace. Meanwhile, Westfield Stratford’s food courts will be enhanced with Honi Poke, Neat Burger and Polish seafood restaurant brand North Fish all taking space. New food and beverage outlets to open at the west London destination include Filipino ice cream concept Mamasons Dirty Ice Cream and Bindas Eatery in Westfield Square, which won Westfield’s restaurant entrepreneur competition in 2018.
 
Store Retail Group to open at Manchester’s Kampus neighbourhood for sixth site: Independent food hall operator and food and drink retailer Store Retail Group is to open a site at the Kampus neighbourhood in Manchester for its sixth outlet. The company has agreed a deal with developers Capital&Centric and HBD for the 4,500 square foot store, which is due to open in the autumn. With a village market feel, the Kampus General Store will have independent, artisan food and drink sitting alongside daily essentials and well-known brands. A regular series of local collaborators will showcase produce with a focus on local specialists from butchers and greengrocers to gin makers and wine merchants. Store Retail Group founder Mital Morar said: “Kampus is a neighbourhood with a strong sense of community and a very independent feel, which is exactly what we’re about. Kampus General Store will be right at the heart of the neighbourhood, where the convenience of a corner shop meets local artisan food and drink.” The Kampus site follows General Store openings in Ancoats, MediaCity, Sale and Stretford, with a Deansgate Square outlet also launching later this year.
  
West Yorkshire multiple expands with Star Pubs & Bars, targets five-strong estate by end of year: West Yorkshire-based multiple operator Jason Smith has reopened The White Swan in Otley following a joint £228,000 sympathetic upgrade with Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars. It will have been 14 months since the refurbishment was due to start and seven months since the last pint was pulled in this local. Originally scheduled for March 2020, the refurbishment was postponed until October due to lockdown and its reopening put back until Monday (17 May). Smith also took on the lease of another Star Pubs & Bars pub in Otley, The Junction, in November, and will be taking on The King’s Arms, Silsden, in June. He plans to grow his estate with Star Pubs & Bars further over the next 12 months. He said: “I am confident business will come back to near normal in the next year. So much so that my plan is to increase my pub estate to five pubs in West Yorkshire by the end of the year. They’ll all be wet-led pubs offering a little bit of pub food.” 

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