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Tue 1st Jun 2021 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Operators urged to support new sector campaign demanding government removes all remaining covid restrictions this month: A campaign urging the government to remove all remaining covid restrictions on the sector this month has been launched by the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA). Called “Countdown to Freedom”, the new campaign will remind the government of its roadmap commitment on 21 June – and the trade body has issued a rally call for the industry to get behind it. The campaign will comprise powerful news stories and social media posts using the hashtag #Countdown2Freedom, showing the damage current restrictions are having on the viability of pubs, brewers and hospitality businesses and how they threaten to impede their recovery. It will also highlight the freedoms people miss the most from when they could visit pubs and other hospitality venues as normal before the covid crisis, such as drinking while standing, bar service and cheering on their team while watching live sport. At present, about 95% of the UK’s 47,000 pubs have reopened. However, they face significant restrictions that greatly limit their ability to trade as viable businesses, such as table service-only and one-metre-plus social distancing. Upwards of 2,000 pubs are still closed, unable to reopen under the current restrictions in place. As more and more individuals across the UK receive their vaccination, the BBPA said all restrictions must be removed on 21 June, if safe to do so. Publicans, hospitality operators and interest groups are all encouraged to get involved in the campaign. This will be done by supplying a range of social media assets available for everyone to use to promote the campaign through their own social channels and website, showing their support and the desire of the hospitality sector to fully reopen without restrictions. BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin said: “The time is ticking on the government to stick to its roadmap. The overall goal of the campaign is to ensure the government safely removes all restrictions on our sector on 21 June.”

Industry News:

Sponsored message – Restaurant Collective significantly expands Deals Marketplace: Restaurant Collective, the first of its kind member‐led and owned, non‐profit community for independent restaurateurs, has significantly expanded its Deals Marketplace, giving members access to exclusive business support as the sector looks to bounce back strongly. Restaurant Collective has partnered with several leading suppliers to grow its Deals Marketplace, including access to a delivery and collection platform from tastecard; a free online booking platform through Kuul Eats; and savings on card processing costs via HBSL Procurement. Restaurant Collective co-founder and chief executive Paul Shaw said: “Our Deals Marketplace is fundamental to our mission of helping independent operators thrive as we emerge from the pandemic. We’ve partnered with a wide range of stand-out suppliers to offer some excellent deals on products and services that will help businesses save money and drive sales. With restrictions, hopefully, easing further this month, we’re entering what should be a positive period of trading across the sector.” Restaurant Collective is backed by the former founders of restaurant booking service Livebookings (now Bookatable) and includes celebrated chef Brian Turner and Michelin‐starred Andrew Pern as high‐profile founder members. To sign up and for more details, click here. If you have information you would like to feature in a sponsored message, email paul.charity@propelinfo.com

Propel Premium subscribers receive monthly update to multi-site database with 108 companies added: Propel Premium subscribers have now received the monthly update to the multi-site database, which has had 108 companies added since the last release at the end of April. They not only received the database as a PDF and an Excel spreadsheet, they were also sent a 14,000-word report on the businesses added during May. The go-to database, which now features 1,822 companies that collectively operate 59,197 sites, 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. 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.

UKHospitality reveals extent of sector staffing crisis with shortage of almost 200,000 workers and calls on government to stick to roadmap: The extent of the sector’s staffing crisis has been highlighted by new analysis from UKHospitality with the industry having a shortage of almost 200,000 workers. A survey of hundreds of hospitality operators by the trade body showed the shortage of front-of-house staff and chefs is particularly acute. Four in five (80%) of those surveyed reported vacancies for front-of-house roles, such as waiting and bar staff, and 85% need chefs. Some 47% have housekeeping vacancies and 43% are looking for assistant or general managers. The survey suggested a current vacancy rate across the sector of 9%, which implies a shortage of 188,000 workers. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The government must restore confidence in the hospitality sector so it is again seen as a stable employer and provider of fulfilling careers. To facilitate this, it must stick to the reopening roadmap, lifting all restrictions from 21 June. Beyond this, the single biggest act of support government could give would be to encourage more UK-based workers to join the hospitality sector. It is also time for the government to review its list of shortage occupations and consider the introduction of an Australian-style visa scheme to enable the workers we need, who don’t meet the point-based system, to come and work here.” The survey showed for overseas workers, many of whom returned home at the beginning of the pandemic, travel restrictions were a primary reason they had chosen not to return to the UK. Almost a fifth said the cost of quarantine on return was preventing them from coming back. 

Quarter of Britain’s licensed premises still to reopen following lockdown: One in four (23.7%) of Britain’s restaurants, pubs, bars and other licensed premises have yet to reopen despite the return of inside service, new Market Recovery Monitor research from CGA and AlixPartners has revealed. The data showed just under 25,000 venues are still shut. It indicated similar trading numbers in England (76.6%) and Scotland (77.4%), with a notably slower return in Wales (69.6%). The Monitor showed slightly more pubs have reopened than restaurants. About nine in ten high-street pubs (92.9%), food pubs (91.8%) and community pubs (89.6%) are now back trading, alongside 89.2% of casual dining and other restaurants. However, social distancing and restrictions in place still make it unviable for swathes of venues to open, and 45.2% of Britain’s sports and social clubs remain closed, alongside 50.9% of large venues and 27.0% of bars. Previous editions of the Monitor have revealed only a third (32.9%) of Britain’s licensed premises traded during the first phase of reopening ahead of the return of inside service on Monday, 17 May. More than 8,500 premises – 7.4% of Britain’s pre-COVID-19 total¬ – have already closed for good. Karl Chessell, CGA director for hospitality operators and food, EMEA, said: “The return of large parts of hospitality for indoor service was a landmark moment for consumers and businesses alike, but it is alarming to see that so many venues have still not been able to welcome guests. It will be an anxious wait to see how many of the venues that are holding on until the final easing of restrictions will be able to make it through. Sustained support is clearly going to be needed to save thousands of vulnerable businesses and jobs.” AlixPartners managing director Graeme Smith added: “The removal of all covid-19 restrictions on 21 June remains a critical hurdle to overcome. Without restrictions being removed, many sites will not be viable and we may see these recent positive reopening trends reverse.”
AlixPartners is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

Sector businesses urged to seek support from local authorities with new business rates payments kicking in: Sector businesses in England are being urged by UKHospitality to fully prepare for new business rates payments that will kick in from 1 July – and to contact their local authority for support. The business rates holiday is coming to an end in June and all rate-paying hospitality businesses will shortly receive bills. Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced in March’s Budget, a full business rates holiday for all hospitality businesses for the first quarter of the financial year – up to the end of June – and then a 66% discount for the remainder of the year. However, a cap on relief available to individual firms means those businesses with an annual rates bill of more than £8m will see their relief capped. UKHospitality is proposing affected businesses maximise their cap at the earliest opportunity by contacting their local authority and, for example, proposing that relief is received in the early months of bills being paid. In turn, this will reduce the administrative burden and allow businesses to receive early benefit. Those businesses that will struggle to pay any rates from 1 July are also urged to get in touch with their local authority at the earliest opportunity to discuss payment plans. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “Local authorities have the power to offer discretionary discounts or adjusted payment plans to those businesses facing hardship and we urge them to enter into constructive dialogue with those seeking support. This reinforces why it is crucial for the government to deliver on its commitment to dropping covid restrictions and measures on 21 June. The hospitality sector stands ready to play its part in helping to create jobs and reinvigorate local communities, but that will only be possible if our businesses return to viability at the earliest opportunity.” Cllr Sharon Taylor, chair of the Local Government Association’s resources board, added: “Councils remain ready to continue to support businesses as we come through this crisis and would urge them to contact their local authority.” 
 
Nine in ten nightlife businesses fear roadmap delay threatens survival: Nine in ten nightlife operators fear any delay to the full reopening of nightlife and hospitality on 21 June could threaten the survival of their businesses. The flash survey of members of the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) also found 85% of businesses require at least two weeks’ notice to prepare to reopen or restart their business activity while more than a third will need at least four weeks’ notice. A total of 95% of businesses have already made financial commitments and logistical preparations to reopen on 21 June, 54% have ordered stock, 73% have called in staff, 60% have sold tickets, 64% have booked entertainment, and 80% have financed marketing and promotional materials. The NTIA has warned any diversion from the planned roadmap will be financially and emotionally catastrophic for businesses that have pinned their hopes, and invested heavily, on a 21 June reopening date. While prime minister Boris Johnson has stated the government plans to adhere to the scheduled reopening date, he has urged caution in response to the new Indian covid-19 variant. NTIA chief executive Michael Kill said: “Our survey shows, overwhelmingly, any change to the government’s roadmap will wreak havoc on nightlife businesses. The stark reality for both the industry and for government is thousands of businesses risk being plunged into further financial hardship by a deviation from the reopening plan.” Sacha Lord, night-time economy adviser for Greater Manchester, added: “It’s time for the government to stand strong. These businesses are already overburdened with debt, struggling to rebuild the workforce and under pressure to prepare for opening in an extremely short period of time. Let’s not make things harder by moving the goal posts.”
 
Trade bodies lambast Scottish government over ‘counter-productive’ decision to keep Glasgow under level 3 restrictions: Sector trade bodies have lambasted the Scottish government over its move to leave Glasgow under level 3 restrictions for another week, arguing the move is “counter-productive” and “makes no sense”. First minister Nicola Sturgeon said while case numbers were stabilising, it would be “premature” to move the city to level 2 while the situation remains “so fragile”. She said she hoped to move Glasgow to level 2 this weekend and would decide on Wednesday (2 June). UKHospitality Scotland executive director Leon Thompson described the news as a “bitter blow” that would “sap morale further”. He added: “It is essential the Scottish government fully recognises the devastation being caused to Glasgow’s most important business sector and provides the necessary financial support to hospitality businesses, to avoid closures and job losses.” Scottish Hospitality Group spokesman Stephen Montgomery added: “All that’s going to happen is people will continue to travel outside Glasgow city centre, further spreading the virus. So, if things are really that bad that there needs to be this continued lockdown then this is a counter-productive move and makes no sense as far as the government’s policy is concerned. It is quite staggering to think the plan for the fan zone at Glasgow Green is in full swing, but here we have a situation where Scottish government thinks keeping Glasgow in level 3 and throwing hospitality businesses a pitiful £750 per week is acceptable.”

BII opens entries for Licensee of the Year 2021 as contest returns: The British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) has opened entries for its annual Licensee of the Year award, which has returned after last year’s postponement due to the pandemic. The competition is open to managers, lessees, tenants and free traders. A four-month judging process will culminate with the winner crowned at the BII Winter Event on Tuesday, 23 November. As well as the title, the winner will receive a year’s free Sky Sports pubs and clubs subscription for their venue and £500 towards a celebration with their whole team in their pub. Licensees can nominate themselves or be nominated by colleagues, customers or suppliers at www.bii.org. Entrants must have been operating their business for at least two years, hold a personal licence and have a food hygiene rating of four or five. The closing date for entries is Friday, 9 July. BII chief executive Steven Alton said: “Our focus for 2021 will be on how licensees have weathered the storm over the past year, but also about the positive impact they have had on their teams and communities. We are looking forward to, once again, welcoming the very best licensees to be put through their paces and recognising and celebrating the fantastic work that they do, especially over the past 18 months.” The 2019 winners were Mark Osborne and David Hage, of The Railway in the Nottinghamshire village of Lowdham.
  
Waitrose pulls plug on The Good Food Guide: The Good Food Guide is no more after Waitrose announced it would no longer be printed. Waitrose bought the guide from Which? for an undisclosed fee in 2013 and ceased publication last year due to the pandemic. But it was believed the guide, founded in 1951, would start back up again once restaurants had reopened. A statement from Waitrose said: “Regrettably, we have taken the decision not to publish the Waitrose Good Food Guide during 2021. We are very appreciative of the efforts of all our partners, inspectors and those who have contributed to the guide during the seven years since we acquired it. We retain the brand but currently have no plans to publish future guides. We will continue to champion the industry through our publications, including Waitrose Food and Waitrose Weekend.”
 
Job of the day: COREcruitment is looking to speak to sales experts for a head of sales position with an established multi-site hospitality company based in London. The company is looking to expand its corporate reach through a strong sales approach. The ideal candidate will have extensive experience of creating corporate sales pipelines within hospitality and an understanding of self-management and motivation. The incoming head of sales will build a pipeline of opportunities and future business contacts, establish a strong corporate network and manage stakeholder relationships. In addition, they will be responsible for controlling and monitoring the financial performance and maintaining costs within budgeted targets, working closely with the executive team on future strategy. The position is paying between £50,000 and £60,000 with a commission structure on top. Anyone interested can email Dan@corecruitment.com with their CV.
COREcruitment is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member
 

Company News:

YO! to launch first virtual delivery brand: YO!, the global multi-channel, multi-brand Japanese and Asian food group, is to launch its first virtual delivery brand, called Lucky 7, Propel has learned. Lucky 7 is a “contemporary, quality pan-Asian fried chicken brand, which will specialise in higher welfare chicken burgers, wraps and wings”. The delivery brand will launch with a trial in mid-June through delivery partners, including Deliveroo, out of 11 YO! restaurants across the UK. The menu will include Asian influenced burgers such as The Katsu Curry One, The Korean Sweet Chilli One wrap, Kimchi Buffalo wings, Smokey Sesame BBQ tenders and Sweet Miso Corn as a side along with signature fries. Pricing for the new brand is still to be confirmed. It is understood the Richard Hodgson-led business believes Lucky 7 will give the group an opportunity to maximise at-home evening sales as that market continues to grow. 

Cricket-based concept Sixes secures debut regional site: Sixes, the cricket-based competitive socialising concept from the founders of Mac & Wild, has secured its debut regional site, in Manchester. Propel has learned Sixes, which earlier this year secured a flagship site in London’s Great Portland Street, will open on the former Alston Bar & Beef site in Manchester’s Corn Exchange scheme, later this summer. Propel understands the group is also in talks on a further regional site. The concept is the brainchild of Mac & Wild founders Andy Waugh and Calum Mackinnon, but run as a separate business from their restaurant operation. Launched briefly last December in Fulham’s Farm Lane, the business is backed by a number of former professional cricket players, including ex-England captain Sir Andrew Strauss. The concept features a cricket simulator, restaurant and bar. Will Biggart, of Torridon, acts for Sixes.
 
North west pub operators target ten-strong estate after taking on second site: North west pub operators Chris and Jon Nevin are targeting a ten-strong estate after taking on their second site in 16 months. The brothers are undertaking a joint £500,000 refurbishment with Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars of The Bay Horse in Worsthorne, Lancashire. The pub, which has been closed for more than 18 months, will feature more drinking and dining space, a new private dining area and a heated and covered courtyard. The opening will create 30 jobs. It comes after the brothers reopened The Golden Lion in Rainford, which is also owned by Star Pubs & Bars, in 2020. Chris Nevin has more than 20 years’ experience in the pub industry, working as an area manager for Bass, Mitchells & Butlers, Travelodge, Spirit Pub Company and Greene King. His brother has complementary experience in IT and finance. Chris Nevin said: “Our plan is to build an estate of ten pubs in the medium term, taking on a new site every six months. We are interested in sites in locations across the north, from Cheshire and the Lake District to West Yorkshire and the North York Moors. Our business model is based on selecting sites with the optimal demographic guest base and transforming underperforming sites in suburban or village locations into businesses offering fresh food, premium drinks and excellent service.” Star Pubs & Bars business development manager Chris Newsham added: “The Bay Horse is a great pub in a fantastic village. It is sad it has been closed for so long but it was important the right operators take it forward.”
 
M&B to streamline board: Mitchells & Butlers is to streamline its board. Ron Robson, who joined the board in 2010 and is a nominated representative of the group’s largest shareholder, the Odyzean Group; Imelda Walsh, chair of the remuneration committee; and Colin Rutherford, chair of the audit committee – who both joined the board in 2013 – will all retire from the board at the end of July. Following these changes, the board will comprise non-executive chairman Bob Ivell, two executive directors (chief executive Phil Urban and chief financial officer Tim Jones), three independent non-executive directors (Susan Murray, who will remain as senior independent director; Jane Moriarty, who will assume the role of chair of the audit committee; and Dave Coplin, who will continue in his role as non-executive director nominated for representation of the “workforce voice”) and three non-executive directors representing the interests of the Odyzean Group (Eddie Irwin, Josh Levy and Keith Browne). An announcement in relation to the chairmanship of the remuneration committee is expected in the next few months while the office of deputy chairman, currently held by Robson, will not be continued. Ivell said: “By making these changes now, the smaller, more agile board is in line with the company’s stated intentions at the time of the equity raise and it can now focus on supporting and challenging management over the coming months as the business first recovers then moves forward again.”
 
Wright & Bell places Kitty Hawk and Lino into administration after failing to reach agreement with landlords: Restaurant and bar company Wright & Bell has placed its Kitty Hawk and Lino businesses into administration after being unable to reach agreement with landlords. The Imbiba-backed operator’s City businesses were said to have been significantly impacted by the pandemic, with Kitty Hawk remaining closed since March 2020. Quantuma has been appointed as administrator. Wright & Bell managing director Sarah Clarke said: “We have been unable to reach a suitable agreement with our landlords so have made the difficult, but necessary, decision to appoint an administrator.” Other companies within Wright & Bell Holdings will not be impacted by the administration. These include Green Room, which was acquired in July 2020; new opening Marsha in Gabriel’s Wharf; and Whyte & Brown in Kingly Court. Clarke added: “We plan to continue to trade Lino, allowing time to realise its potential over the coming months. We would like to thank our incredible teams and all our stakeholders for their continued support and are looking forward to the future.”
 
Il Portico owners to launch sister site in Kensington: The owners of Il Portico, London’s oldest family restaurant, are to launch a new Italian restaurant and wine bar in the capital. Pino, which will offer Italian plates with a focus on Emilia-Romagna, arrives in Kensington on Tuesday, 29 June. The 60-cover site, which features an outside terrace for 52 people, was formerly Pizzicotto and is owned by James Chiavarini and his wife Marianna, who have run the Il Portico next door for decades. Named in homage to James’ father, Pino Chiavarini, who was part of the first wave of Italian restaurateurs, the whole ethos is heavily influenced by the family origins of the heart of the Italian food valley between Bologna, Parma and Modena. From the wood fired oven will come pizza and focaccia to share while other dishes will include Campari-cured salmon with caperberries and beetroot; and native Colchester oysters with house apple balsamic and tropea onion vinegar. The drinks list will include cocktails and wine. James Chiavarini said: “I want Pino to inject some life to Kensington’s dining out scene post covid. Pino is really a building on of everything our family has achieved at Il Portico – the solid, reliable, traditional Italian – by creating a fun, cheeky little sister restaurant.”

Daylesford Farm owner Lady Bamford confirms second pub opening: Carole Bamford, wife of JCB owner Sir Anthony Bamford, has confirmed she is to open a second pub with rooms. As previously revealed by Propel, Lady Bamford, who also owns Daylesford Farm, has acquired The Fox in Lower Oddington, Gloucestershire. The 16th century inn will reopen at the beginning of next year serving a menu with classic pub dishes such as burgers, fish and chips and Sunday roasts, made with local organic ingredients. Seating up to 90 covers inside, a terrace will accommodate a further 40 people. The pub will house eight bedrooms, all decorated in Daylesford’s signature style, and The Coach House, opposite, will offer a self-catering alternative. Daylesford Farm is set in more than 2,500 acres of countryside. Recently awarded a Green Star by the Michelin Guide, the farm is home to the flagship farmshop, Bamford Wellness Spa and three restaurants – The Old Spot, The Trough Café and The Legbar. There is also a cookery school and a schedule of events. Lady Bamford acquired her first pub, the Wild Rabbit in Kingham in the Cotswolds, in 2013. It was for an undisclosed price by Colliers on behalf of previous owner Ian MacKenzie.
 
MasterChef the Professionals finalist Dean Banks to take over Pompadour in Edinburgh: MasterChef the Professionals finalist Dean Banks will take over the Pompadour restaurant at Hilton Hotels’ Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh. The venue, at the Caledonian hotel, is set to reopen on Wednesday, 9 June, and Banks has devised a new set menu to run between Wednesdays and Sundays using only Scottish produce. Banks said: “You think of iconic locations for food in the whole of Scotland and the legendary Pompadour is one of them.” The Pompadour first opened in 1925. It was run by the Galvins from 2012 until 2019 and has been somewhat separate to the hotel for some time. Banks was a finalist on MasterChef the Professionals in 2018 and was heading up Haar at the Kinnettles hotel in St Andrews before his latest venture. He said: “The concept has changed in that Haar is that relaxed dining idea of coming off the beach from walking the dog, whereas our Edinburgh restaurant is more refined. We still want to use the term ‘relaxed dining’ but want to make it even more premium, more of an occasion.” Emma Banks, vice-president, food and beverage strategy and development, EMEA, Hilton, said: “The opening of Dean’s restaurant at Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh highlights our commitment to working with talented local chefs. As a company with a focus on responsible hospitality, we are also delighted to be partnering with a chef who has such a passion for locally sourced produce.”
 
Chef Joe Gould to take over kitchen at Glenapp Castle ahead of new restaurant launch: Chef Joe Gould will head up Glenapp Castle in Ayrshire, Scotland, as the venue gears up to launch a new restaurant and events space. Gould will join as executive chef having been head chef at Fishmore Hotel in Shropshire, where he won the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs UK Young Chef of the Year award in 2015. Gould was also a senior sous chef at Lainston House in Winchester until 2016 and has cooked at Coworth Park in Ascot. Glenapp Castle is readying itself to unveil its new Azalea Glasshouse restaurant and events space, which is located in its walled garden. Glenapp Castle managing director Jill Chalmers said: “We are confident Joe will take the hotel and the food and beverage offering to new heights. We are committed to developing our offering and to growing our already flourishing business.”
 
Bespoke van that hosts changing line-up of chefs and street food traders becomes permanent part of Trinity Leeds: A new bespoke van that hosts a changing line-up of cooks, chefs and street food traders has become a permanent part of the Trinity Leeds shopping centre. Trinity Kitchen, which hosts food trucks and vans from across the country, has announced the van has taken up a place on its first floor. It also gives street food businesses the chance to be part of the kitchen without having to own a van. Josie Towning, food and beverage manager at Trinity Leeds, said: “Trinity Kitchen has transformed the idea of food courts, creating a unique concept and providing the perfect platform for independent street food traders. Now we’re going one step further and inviting up-and-coming cooks, chefs and foodies to showcase their talents without having to be an established brand with its own set-up. It’s also a chance for any restaurants or food businesses that might have struggled during lockdown or have had to close their doors to get back on the scene without having to fork out for any expensive overheads.”
 
New whisky distillery to launch in Wiltshire with team embarking on £3m fundraise to start production: A new whisky distillery is launching in Wiltshire with the team currently aiming to raise £3m with a view to starting production later this year. Alistair Munro, Alasdair Large and Jon Carson, who have a wealth of experience in the industry, are behind The Wiltshire Whisky Distillery Company that is setting up home on the Fonthill Estate, near Salisbury. Every ingredient will originate from the land upon which The Wiltshire Whisky Distillery Company stands and alongside the core whisky offering will be a series of botanical spirits and gin. The trio will be guided by an expert advisory board of industry experts including James Espey, who was awarded an OBE for services to the whisky industry in 2013; Alan Rutherford, who is former production director at Diageo; and Antonia Jamison, a founding director of Sipsmith. Munro said: “It is a dream realised to be building our distillery within such a culturally significant estate as Fonthill. Not only does it provide a rich backdrop for the development of our British brand, it also enables us to achieve our ambition of creating a highly sustainable, single-estate offering.” Fonthill Estate owner Lord Margadale said: “We look generations ahead with all our plans for the estate and could immediately see our long-term ambitions and values fit perfectly with those of The Wiltshire Whisky Distillery Company.” The Wiltshire Whisky Distillery Company aims to release the distillery's first spirits in early 2022. 
 
Pub snack brand backed by BrewDog co-founder closes second crowdfunding campaign after raising more than £800,000: Pub snack brand Serious Pig, which is backed by James Watt, co-founder of Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog, has closed its second fundraise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube after raising in excess of £800,000 – more than twice its original target. The company was aiming to raise £400,000 to “turbo-charge the business”, offering equity of 3.38%, giving it a pre-money valuation of £15m. It has now closed the campaign with 2,264 investors pledging £814,020. The company’s first raise in 2019 attracted more than 1,600 investors and raised £895,000 after setting an initial target of £350,000. Serious Pig said the capital raised allowed the company to expand its range, grow its sales and marketing operations, and helped to treble its revenues. Founder George Rice said: “Our first crowdfunding with Crowdcube was a huge success and gave us the ability to massively grow the business, despite the challenges of covid. Now, we want to build on our momentum and turbo-charge the business. Our plans are to invest in sales and marketing, move to a bigger and better site, add tasty new products to our range and become a more sustainable business.” 
   
Fleet Street Communications appoints Robyn Black as senior editor and content strategist: Fleet Street Communications (FSC) has appointed experienced sector journalist Robyn Black to the new role of senior editor and content strategist. Black joins FSC having previously edited on-trade drinks title Imbibe, and enjoyed a number of other senior editorial roles at other publications. In her new role, she will support the company’s clients in the food, drink, hospitality and leisure sectors in creating content-led campaigns. FSC managing director Mark Stretton said: “Robyn brings an enormous wealth of knowledge and experience gained operating at a senior level in industry media for many years. As well as adding significant value to clients with fresh thinking, Robyn will bring first-hand insights from many years working at the sharp end of drinks journalism. Robyn’s appointment plays well to our strengths of sector specialisms, expertise and knowledge.” Black added: “FSC has long excelled at content generation and I am looking forward to using my two decades of experience as a trade journalist to take things to the next level for our clients.”
Fleet Street Communications is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member 

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