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Wed 2nd Jun 2021 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Nightcap appoints new managing director to drive expansion of London Cocktail Club: Nightcap, the listed bar group formed by investors Sarah Willingham and Michael Toxvaerd to back the UK premium bar sector, has appointed a new managing director to lead the growth of its London Cocktail Club (LCC) business that it acquired last year, Propel has learned. Dawn Donohoe joins from Enhanced Hospitality, a food and entertainment-led business that operates several venues situated in London’s Camden Market, including Dingwalls and Shaka Zulu, as well as Blacks private members’ club in Soho and sister company, We Are Bar. She was an original senior team member at Urbium/ Novus that launched its expansion across the West End and subsequent UK rollout. Donohoe replaces Michelle Hall, who is leaving LCC after six years to pursue other opportunities and is relocating abroad. One of the key priorities for Nightcap is to build a pipeline of new sites in prime locations for LCC both in and outside of its London heartland. To this end, Nightcap is currently in negotiations on several new leases as a first step to meet its ambition of expanding from the current ten locations to about 40 during the next five years. Willingham said: “All of us at Nightcap are thrilled to have appointed someone of Dawn’s calibre and talent to drive the growth of London Cocktail Club. She has helped to launch and run a number of fantastic businesses over the years and has an unmatched track record in the late-night sector. While it’s sad to see Michelle leave, we have loved working with her and she leaves behind an incredible business and very happy team thanks to her work over the years.” Donohoe added: “I’m excited to be able to bring my love of the late-night sector and extensive management experience to the Nightcap team. Together, we have ambitious plans to rejuvenate and reimagine the on-trade for the future.” It follows a £10m fundraising last month by Nightcap to further its investment strategy and to roll out its latest acquisition, Adventure Bar Group. 

Industry News: 

Propel Premium subscribers to receive first edition of new sector turnover and profit database: The first edition of a new database for Premium subscribers, The Blue Book, will be released at midday on Friday, 11 June. The new database, which will be updated and expanded each month, ranks the top 200 sector operators by turnover and then by profitability. It also has a five-year overview of turnover and profit, and shows what percentage of turnover is converted to pre-tax profit – or otherwise. The first edition of the Blue Book shows there are 106 companies in the sector turning over more than £30m, with 76 of them turning over more than £50m and 43 turning over more than £100m. The Blue Book shows companies with franchise and tenanted operations converting turnover to profit very efficiently, with family brewers, for example, also performing well. The Blue Book also sees strong performances from some of the outstanding UK restaurant brands and operators. Propel managing director Paul Charity said: “Our Blue Book is the only place where it is possible to compare the performance of our major UK operators with a five-year overview. It is fascinating to see where companies rank on profit and profit conversion. My favourite local UK pub operator, for example, seven-strong south Lincolnshire-based Knead Group, shows quality shines through by ranking a mighty 27th in UK terms based on profit conversion – converting 12.6% of turnover to profit means it ranks slightly higher than Hard Rock Cafe, which has a lot of high-margin merchandise income. Each month, we will be expanding the scope of The Blue Book – we want to add any company either turning over more than £5m or making a £1m pre-tax profit. Email me on paul.charity@propelinfo.com to add your company to the Blue Book universe. The Blue Book will start to show the devastating impact of the pandemic on company profitability but, in due course, will chart the sector’s bounce back. It’s a fascinating document.” Meanwhile, Propel Premium subscribers have just received their monthly update to the multi-site database, which has had 108 companies added since the last release at the end of May. 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. 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. A single subscription costs £395 plus VAT for operators and £495 plus VAT for suppliers. Premium subscribers also get their newsletter 12 hours earlier than everybody else at 7pm each evening. Email jo.charity@propelinfo.com to sign up.
 
Heineken UK to feature in latest The Supplier Perspective video: In the latest of Propel’s video interviews with leading sector suppliers, Propel insights editor Mark Wingett is joined by John Gemmell, trading director at Heineken UK, to look at the reopening of the pubs sector, how consumers have reacted, the opportunity and challenges for pubs from the forthcoming European Football Championships, and the role sport can play for pubs during the sector’s recovery. The video will be sent out as a stand-alone email on Wednesday (2 June) at 3pm.

Peter Backman – operators facing cost increases in excess of 20% this year, franchise model could become more prevalent: Foodservice operators are facing an increase in costs of more than 20% later this year, sector analyst Peter Backman has warned. Backman argued rising labour costs due to the current workforce shortage (5% cost increase), food prices (3%) plus the end of the lower VAT rate in October (14%) leave operators with tough choices to make. He said: “Will customers be prepared to pay increases of anything approaching this level? I think not – they may be willing to spend an extra 20% a week on eating out but that increase will have to pay for another meal – not an increase on just one meal. Meanwhile, another express train is picking up speed. That is the rent backlog of six quarters that will have to be repaid – somehow, and over maybe an extended period of time, and with perhaps some reductions. Thus, the timetable includes operating costs going up by 20% (perhaps), customers not too likely to pay the extra 20%, and a pile of debt to be repaid. Thus, are the specifics of the dangers facing restaurant operators falling into place? The express train is rounding the hill, will it stop in time?” Meanwhile, Backman also believes the franchise model could become more prevalent. He said: “The disappearing tide of covid has left franchise-focused business afloat; many brands with other business models have been sunk. What is it about franchising that has this power of success? It seems there are three features in particular. First is the release of entrepreneurial spirit that franchising conveys. In essence, this spirit is evoked right at the front line – where the investment is made – by people and companies who have everything to gain from their success. The second feature is that franchising walls off risk – in other words, the failure of one franchisee does not bring down the edifice. Instead, the business can mend the tear in its structure and move on. And finally, franchising has the power to accelerate rapid rollout because it relies on many different parties to finance its growth – a feature not lost in the US where it is fundamental to driving quick service restaurant expansion.”
 
UKHospitality – any potential delay on further relaxation of restrictions will have ‘devastating effect on already-fragile sector’: Any potential delay of the further relaxation of restrictions this month would have a “devastating effect on an already-fragile hospitality sector”, UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls has said. It comes as prime minister Boris Johnson’s plans to ease England’s coronavirus restrictions completely on 21 June appear increasingly in doubt after a number of advisers to the government urged ministers to delay. In response, Nicholls said: “The latest market data shows a quarter of hospitality venues are still shut and those that are open cannot turn a profit because of the current restrictions – a delay would push many businesses closer to the cliff edge of failure, meaning more job losses. Should the timings slip and restrictions remain beyond 21 June, it’s vital further financial support from the government is forthcoming, including business rates payments being postponed until at least October, and an extension of the rent moratorium while a long-term solution is found, as well as permanent lowering of VAT on hospitality goods and services. Businesses need a swift, publicly stated commitment that such support will be in place in the event of a delay, giving them much-needed reassurance after more than 15 months of closure and severely disrupted trading.” Chris Soley, chief executive of north east-based brewer and pub operator Camerons Brewery, tweeted: “A few extra weeks of restricted trading means the end of the road for many more pub operators. It’s that finely balanced. Many are surviving by a thread. Scientists and journalists in secure lockdown jobs have no idea of the physical mental and financial anguish – 21 June it ends.” Night time economy adviser for Greater Manchester Sacha Lord told the i newspaper: “The next two weeks will be critical for our industry. With variants surging, the sector is mindful of the need for safety and has, to its credit, always followed guidance. But we must not let ourselves get carried away in a blind panic without the data to justify continued restrictions. So long as hospitalisations remain low, we must continue on our path to normality.”
 
Urgent beer duty cut and commitment to sticking to roadmap vital to save pubs, say MPs: An urgent beer duty cut and a commitment to sticking to the roadmap is vital to save pubs, MPs have said. They are two of five recommendations in a new report, issued by the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group (APPBG) of MPs. The report has been released during a review of alcohol duty, which is expected to be completed during the summer. The report noted the pandemic has already brought about the closure of more than 2,000 pubs and breweries in the UK, and has saddled them with enormous debts. Without intervention, the report warned, even more community pubs will soon be lost for good. The report recommended government reduces the overall burden on brewers and pubs through lower overall duty, VAT and business rates, and to urgently consider the specific merits of a lower rate of duty for on-sales of draught beers to encourage footfall back into pubs. It said the government must stick to the roadmap for reopening and run a public information campaign to restore consumer confidence that pubs are safe. Even so, sales will not be get back to pre-pandemic levels until the end of 2022 at the earliest. The report said the government should consider targeted covid debt-forgiveness and measures to ameliorate the impact of crown debt. It also suggested the industry convenes a working group to capitalise on the possibilities for cask beer as an environmentally friendly, locally focused, premium British product and the government incentivises/supports investment in the UK’s hop sector, to tide it over a period of unprecedented uncertainty. APPBG chair Mike Wood said: “Supermarkets have flourished over the past year, with sales of wine and spirits soaring. But now, we need to make sure pubs and breweries come out of this fighting too.”

Meaningful financial support must be provided to industry amid delay in loosening restrictions in much of Scotland, says UKHospitality: Meaningful levels of financial support must be provided to the sector by the Scottish government amid a delay in loosening restrictions further for much of the country, UKHospitality Scotland has said. First minister Nicola Surgeon has announced Glasgow will move to level 2 from level 3 this weekend while the majority of the islands will move from level 1 to level 0. However, many parts of Scotland will not proceed to the next step of the country’s roadmap out of lockdown and remain at level 2. UKHospitality Scotland executive director Leon Thompson said: “The delay in moving 14 of Scotland’s 32 local authorities to level 1 from level 2 now begs the question of when they might be able to move – an answer is important if businesses are to best plan for survival. The hospitality sector remains fragile after more than 15 months of closure and severely disrupted trading. While the announcement provides progress for some, businesses need to hear the Scottish government will provide meaningful levels of financial support to help them continue to trade and safeguard the jobs of their employees.” Scottish Hospitality Group spokesman Stephen Montgomery added: “The further reduction in hospitalised covid admissions shows the vaccination effort is working, so surely case numbers don’t matter if those people who do test positive remain fit and healthy. We don’t place restrictions on entire cities when it’s winter flu season, so why on earth are we doing it now? And how can businesses trust what the government is saying about the future when the objectives keep changing?”

Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with an internationally successful, tech-backed hospitality business that is creating innovative foodservice and restaurant solutions. As the business begins its European expansion, it is building a team of motivated and forward-thinking individuals. The business performance team is looking for a senior management consultant, ideally with reputable agency experience and a genuine interest in the hospitality and service sector. This business is well funded and has proved successful in the US. It has a rapid growth plan in place for the next three years. This role will grow a team of consultants, sales experts and analysts as the business grows. The position is based in central London, paying circa £80,000 to 85,000, plus bonus, equity package, private healthcare and other benefits. Anyone interested can email Hollie@corecruitment.com. 
COREcruitment is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member
 

Company News:

Pret launches click and collect trial: Pret A Manger, the JAB Holdings-backed chain, is launching a click and collect trial. From Wednesday (2 June), eight of Pret’s 11 Manchester shops will be offering this new service. It follows a surge of Pret coffee subscription sign-ups in Manchester, and a successful initial trial of click and collect in the Pret shop in Media City, Manchester. Similar to online ordering through third-party delivery partners, a 50p click and collect fee will be applied to any transaction. Since May 2020, Pret has been transforming its business model to bring it to more people in different ways. This includes launching the UK’s first high-street coffee subscription service, allowing customers the chance to redeem up to five barista-prepared drinks per day for £20 a month, as well as expanding delivery partnerships with Deliveroo, Just Eat and UberEats. Pret has also launched its products in supermarkets as well as announced plans to open shops in petrol stations and Tesco stores. Subscribers to Pret’s coffee subscription can order their drinks through the click and collect service. Dan Burdett, chief customer and growth officer at Pret, said: “The brand has always prided itself on serving our customers great-quality food and drink, with a smile, and fast, so the evolution of click and collect in our shops estate is an example of how we’re working to digitise the things that make Pret, Pret.” The Manchester sites where click and collect is available are Cross Street, Deansgate, Media City, Oxford Street, Piccadilly Station, Portland Street, Spinningfields and University Square.
 
Domino’s recruiting 5,000 workers as many staff members return to pre-pandemic jobs: Domino’s Pizza is recruiting 5,000 chefs and delivery drivers, as many of the staff members who joined during the pandemic have returned to their former roles. The company said it had offered work to people in roles as diverse as hairdressing and events management whose jobs had been affected because of lockdowns. While many had chosen to stay at Domino’s and build management careers, it said, others have returned to their pre-pandemic roles. Operations director Nicola Frampton said: “We were privileged to be able to keep our doors open during the past 18 months, supporting the nation to stay safe at home during lockdown. Throughout our recruitment drive last year, we were overwhelmed by the response from people of all walks of life. I’m proud we were able to play a part by offering people the opportunity to continue working and earning when times were tough. But as people start to reunite, customer demand is showing no signs of slowing and so we’re now looking for 5,000 new recruits.” The company is also offering 1,400 work placements to 16 to 24-year-olds through the government’s Kickstart scheme. Their six-month placements will begin this month and will involve on-the-job training and e-learning in employability skills such as timekeeping and teamwork. Those on the scheme will receive pay in line with current store levels and will have the ability to apply for permanent positions at the end of their placement. This week, UKHospitality revealed 80% of its members had vacancies in front-of-house roles such as bar and waiting staff, while 85% were recruiting chefs. It estimated the industry was short of 188,000 workers – a vacancy rate of 9%.
 
Woodforde’s acquires second pub as part of strategy to grow retail estate: Norfolk brewer Woodforde’s has acquired its second pub as part of its strategy to grow its retail estate. The company has taken on the Lord Nelson in the village of Burnham Thorpe, which is owned by The Holkham Estate. The pub was closed in 2016 prior to the sale to Holkham Estate in 2018 having been originally acquired by brewer and retailer Greene King in 1937. Extensive refurbishment and extensions were completed by Holkham Estate in early 2021 and the pub will open this week. A Woodforde’s spokesman said: “Woodforde’s are excited to be working with Holkham Estate and to be given the opportunity to operate the Lord Nelson as part of our strategy to grow our retail estate.” Originally named The Plough, the pub is known to have been frequented by Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson when he returned to Burnham Thorpe in the 1780s and 1790s. It was renamed in his honour in 1798 after the battle of the Nile (Abu Qir). Woodforde’s also operates the Fur & Feather Inn, which is next to its brewery in Salhouse. Everard Cole acted for Holkham Estate on the Lord Nelson deal.
 
Time Out reopens original market site in Lisbon: Time Out Group, the global media and entertainment business, reopened its Time Out Market Lisbon site in Portugal, on Tuesday (1 June). The Lisbon venue was the first of its markets to open, in 2014, and joins branches in New York, Boston and Miami in reopening recently. Customers in Lisbon have a choice of more than 25 restaurants, six kiosks, seven bars, four shops, cooking school Academia Time Out, co-working space Second Home and an events room (Estúdio Time Out). New additions, including Crush Doughnuts and mixed drinks bar To Bar, have also opened. In March, the company announced it had withdrawn plans to open a Time Out Market in London’s Waterloo “due to the impact of the covid-19 pandemic” and was reviewing an equity funding proposal. There are Time Out Markets planned to open in Porto in 2022, Abu Dhabi in 2023 and Prague in 2025. 
 
Stonegate ‘significantly’ increases cask and craft ale choices for pub partners: Stonegate Group has “significantly” increased the range of cask and craft ale choices for its pub partners. The latest round of tenders for cask ale distribution has seen The Beer Company awarded the contract. The former 3,200-plus Ei pub estate, which joined forces with Stonegate prior to the 2020 lockdown, has received a range of support from its new owner throughout the pandemic with rent and trade credits as well as access to competitively priced deals on wine and spirits. This latest move sees Stonegate Group extend its commitment to supporting cask ale and craft brewers as its portfolio of suppliers increases, enabling tenants to have a variety of choice across thousands of cask ales, craft lagers and local ciders. The Beer Company will be in touch with all suppliers over the next few weeks. The Society of Independent Brewers said: “Our bid focused on the diverse and high-quality range of beer available from independent breweries, on best-in-class technology and on premiumising the category. We are understandably disappointed not to have been chosen to move forwards in partnership with Stonegate. However, this was a competitive tender process and we respect the decision of Stonegate to work with The Beer Company.”

Compass Group UK & Ireland makes commitment to reach net zero by 2030: Contract caterer Compass Group UK & Ireland has announced its commitment to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions across its own operations and its value chain by 2030. The business, which serves three million customers a year in the UK, has become a signatory of Business Ambition for 1.5°C, making the commitment to align its climate targets with the Paris Agreement. To help in its aim, Compass Group UK & Ireland is introducing initiatives including the launch of a seed investment fund of £1m to support the development of carbon reduction and sustainable food production innovation. The company is looking to achieve a reduction in carbon emissions of at least 55% by 2025 and at least 65% across its operations and value chain by 2030 from a 2019 baseline. By 2030, there will be a 40% switch towards plant-based proteins with an interim target of at least 25% by 2025. Moreover, 70% of the top five food categories – dairy and cheese, fruit and vegetables, pork, beef and chicken – is to be sourced from regenerative agriculture by 2030. It will also rework its supplier auditing process to include key environmental performance criteria, including energy and resources efficiency, renewable energy, waste management and green logistics. In addition, the business is already working to remove all single-use plastic cutlery, expanded polystyrene and unnecessary single-use plastic plates and bowls before July 2021. All fleet cars will be 100% plug-in electric by May 2024.
 
Ex-Stonegate operations director Ben Levick joins door supervision and security firm: Ben Levick, former operations director at Stonegate Group, has joined Leeds-based door supervision and security firm Professional Security as its head of operations in the north. Levick spent almost four years with Stonegate, leaving the business in September last year. Prior to that he was managing director of north east-based leisure operator The Apartment Group for six months and before that he spent 11 years at Tattershall Castle Group, leaving the company in March 2016 following its acquisition by Stonegate.
 
Newcastle-based ice cream business with two retail outlets marketed as going concern: Newcastle-based ice cream business Mark Toney & Co, which also operates two retail outlets in the city, is being sold as a going concern. Established in 1892 by Giovanni Marcantonio, Mark Toney & Co comprises a factory/production facility and offices in Benton Square Industrial Estate, fully equipped for the manufacture and storage of its product range. The building is also the headquarters for the wholesale arm of the business that services in excess of 200 customers across leisure sites, retailers, restaurants and cafes. In addition are two, long-standing ice cream parlours/coffee shops – one is in Grainger Street, which has traded since 1962 and is the oldest coffee shop in the city. Meanwhile, the Percy Street site opened in 1974. The current owner, Antony Marcantonio, is Giovanni’s great grandson and is now looking to retire. Mark Toney & Co is being marketed by Christie & Co with a guide price of £425,000, plus stock at valuation for the going concern.
Christie & Co is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member
 
Starwood Capital Group to open second UK Treehouse hotel, in Manchester: Starwood Capital Group is to open a hotel under its Treehouse brand in Manchester. The venue, due to open in 2023, will be the second Treehouse location in the UK, joining the Marylebone hotel in London. Treehouse Hotel Manchester is being developed in partnership with Property Alliance Group. It marks the first phase of the £200m Renaissance Hotel redevelopment in Deansgate. Starwood Capital Group chairman and chief executive Barry Sternlicht said: “Our Treehouse will introduce a new execution of fun and witty, and provide an imaginative hospitality experience. As a sustainable brand, we will reuse and repurpose the existing building. We are thrilled to set roots in the city of Manchester.” Property Alliance Group managing director Alex Russell added: “The brand will inject much-needed life and personality into this prominent landmark site, changing the perception of the building and driving footfall and activity to the area.” The site currently includes the former 206-bedroom hotel as well as a vacant office building and car park.
 
Aparthotel operator iStay Liverpool opens debut bar: Aparthotel operator iStay Liverpool has opened its debut bar within its properties. The company operates sites in Temple Court, Water Street, Duke Street, Rodney Street and The Merchant in the city. It has now opened its first bar, Tres, underneath its Temple Court aparthotel, creating more than 20 jobs. Director Ann Chambers said: “We are thrilled to be launching our new venture Tres because this will mean our guests will be able to enjoy drinks and cocktails with us for the whole evening or as part of their night out.” The business is also preparing to add further venues to its portfolio. 
 
Leekes owner takes control of Hensol Castle Distillery: Leekes Retail & Leisure Group – owner of Leekes, the Vale Resort and Hensol Castle in South Wales – has become the sole owner of Hensol Castle Distillery following a buyout of the minority shareholder. Original investors, father and son duo Andy and Rhys Mallows, have sold their 25% shareholding of the distillery to the group, which already owned the remaining share, to pursue their ambition of starting a family-owned business. The distillery is located in the cellars of the 17th century, grade I-listed Hensol Castle, which has already been transformed into a wedding and conference venue, following a multimillion-pound investment in 2015. Hensol Castle Distillery, which started production in spring 2019, has enjoyed a successful initial 24 months of trading. New managing director Christopher Leeke said: “These are exciting times for the distillery. Our contract bottling division is extremely busy with new enquiries arriving weekly, while our own brands are gaining in popularity via retail outlets throughout the UK.” Hensol Castle Distillery is also set to become a flagship tourism destination with a visitor experience, tasting bar and gin school. This is gearing up to open this September – 18 months after it was originally meant to launch in March 2020, before the initial lockdown. Law firm Geldards, in Cardiff, worked on the deal.
 
Foodhub appoints new chief revenue officer: Food delivery platform Foodhub has appointed Martin Hawkes as its new chief revenue officer. Hawkes has more than 25 years of dedicated sales experience, oversees field sales, telesales and marketing on a global scale. He is working with a core team of five managers, between them responsible for more than 160 staff worldwide. Hawkes, who was previously the vice-president of sales for Micros, a global POS provider, ran the retail division of the company where he was responsible for a turnover of about £60m. Foodhub said it has brought in Hawkes to maximise growth potential across multiple territories, while streamlining processes within the rapidly growing business. Hawkes said: “What we’re doing is creating a commercial model that is unique on this scale; one that has the potential to completely change the market as we know it.” Launched in 2017 by Ardian Mula and Mohammed Shakil, Foodhub has established a turnover of about £30m in three years due to accelerated expansion across the globe and month-on-month order growth.
 
Pub operators to sell lease on pub to focus on new site: Pub operators Su and Chris Duxbury have announced plans to offer the lease for sale on one of their pubs so they can focus on running their remaining site. The husband and wife team have run the Ring O Bells pub in Kendal, Cumbria, for the past 11 years but have decided to give up the lease of the pub to concentrate on running the Castle Inn, also in Kendal, which they bought last year. Chris told In Cumbria: “It’s been 11 years, in March, since we ran the pub but we were shut during covid. The lockdown was a major influence in our decision to focus on the Castle Inn. We already bought the Castle Inn in Kendal and we were originally going to run both, but we ended up changing our minds. We’ve always done our best with the pub but, since we opened the Castle Inn, we’ve noticed there is a lot more potential in that one.” 
 
Edinburgh-based distillery appoints new managing director and changes name: Edinburgh-based The Old Curiosity Distillery has appointed a new managing director and is changed its name to accentuate its values, which are “rooted in nature”. Founded by Hamish Martin in 2017, the distillery, which has its own gin botanical garden, has become The Secret Garden Distillery and its gin is now called Secret Garden Gin. It has also appointed André de Almeida as its new managing director to continue the expansion of its brand and the range of spirits available in the UK and internationally. He will be responsible for expanding The Secret Garden Distillery’s presence across its markets and will work with existing distributors and customers as well as developing new partnerships. He brings a wealth of experience in the spirits business to the role, having worked in senior roles for Edrington, William Grant & Sons and Loch Lomond Group, among others. Martin said: “Having Andre at the helm means I can dedicate all my time to the development of our botanics and garden, and highlight our total commitment to working hand in hand with nature.”
 
Sodexo wins new ten-year contract with Hampden Park: Catering company Sodexo has won a new ten-year contract as venue partner for Hampden Park in Scotland, covering catering, retail, hospitality, conferences, events, marketing and sales. The new agreement will see Sodexo and the Scottish FA, who have worked together since 1999, form a strategic upweighted commercial partnership. As part of the deal, Sodexo is investing £1.7m in upgraded hospitality facilities and re-engineering the venue for a new product mix, in addition to new sales and marketing roles. Eight of the existing hospitality boxes will be combined to create two “Superboxes” with a terrace offering panoramic views over the pitch. The existing cafe, Nevis Suite, Lomond Suite and two of the Silver Lounges will also be upgraded as part of a new tiering strategy for all hospitality at the venue. Nick Byrom, business development director of Sodexo Sports & Leisure UK, said: “In the new contract, we are bringing together our breadth of experience across hospitality, retail, guests services, ticketing, and sales and marketing, to offer a compelling venue partnership approach. This is a model we are applying right across our business as we rebuild out of covid-19 and develop more strategic partnerships.”

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