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Wed 30th Jun 2021 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Greene King launches trial of new premium format – Crafted Pubs: Brewer and retailer Greene King has launched the trial of a new premium format in the West Midlands, the first under the new umbrella of Crafted Pubs, Propel has learned. The Nick Mackenzie-led business has invested a six-figure sum in transforming The Boat in the Solihull borough of Catherine De Barnes into the new format. The company said the trial site was the start of “fulfilling our strategy to explore how we might enhance our pub experiences and expand into the premium market”. The site, which was relaunched last month, features a new interior, terraced patio, gardens with an outdoor bar and fire pits, as well as new food and drinks menus. The menus, accompanied by a new brunch offering, include a range of small plates (£4 to £7), artisan pizzas (£11 to £14), vegetarian options, desserts and coffees. Mains, which range from £12 to £19, include beer-battered fish and chips, roast Welsh lamb rump with crispy potatoes, vegan risotto, and beef and ale pie with garlic mash. Karen Bosher, managing director of Greene King Premium, Urban and Venture division, said: “We are delighted to have opened a trial site for Crafted Pubs in The Boat at Catherine De Barnes, which is the start of fulfilling our strategy to explore how we might enhance our pub experiences and expand into the premium market. The team has been highly trained to deliver a compelling customer experience and the initial response has been encouraging. We will take learnings from the trial to build into our strategy for the future.”

Industry News: 

Sponsored message – overcoming the Achilles heel of ordering apps: Customers love digital ordering via well-designed apps because they offer the ultimate in convenience and customer experience – a case well proven by the success of the large food ordering apps. Neri Malinas, chief executive of Arch, said: “Those commission fees quickly mount up though, right? Especially painful when you’re serving your regulars. For quick service and casual dining restaurant businesses looking to build direct relationships with their customers and retain more of their hard-earned profits, the choice of technology matters. Here, apps have long suffered from poor customer adoption. Why? Speed. It takes time to navigate to the app store, download, install and then go through the faff of having to sign up for an account. Arch instant apps overcome this technological Achilles heel. Using the latest technology to provide an in-app experience without having to install an app on your phone. Just an easy-to-use, fully on-brand app that loads for your customer – instantly. No download. No waiting. Just tap, order and pay. Time saving and hassle free, instant apps generate more business and help you to deliver the quick in quick service. Learn more about how to retain more of those hard-earned profits at arch2order.com.” If you have information you would like to feature in a sponsored message, email paul.charity@propelinfo.com
 
Premium subscribers to receive updated database of multi-site businesses today: The updated database of multi-site companies for June, which is available exclusively to Propel Premium subscribers, will be sent out today (Wednesday, 30 June) at midday. It will include 63 new companies since its previous update in May – making a total of 1,880 listed businesses. Collectively, the 63 new companies operate 565 venues. Subscribers will not only receive the database as a PDF and an Excel spreadsheet, they will also be sent a 10,389-word report on the businesses added during June. 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. In a new feature this year, there is a synopsis of what the business does and significant news associated with it. Companies can now have an unlimited number of people receive access to Propel Premium for a year for £895 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or a supplier. The regular single subscription rate of £395 plus VAT for operators and £495 plus VAT for suppliers remains the same. Premium subscribers also receive access to a second exclusive monthly database, The Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book. This database provides an insight into UK operator turnover and profitability over five years, profit conversion and directors’ earnings. 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.
 
Operators call on government to take urgent action over current test and trace rules: Operators have called on the government to take urgent action over test and trace rules, with some saying the current situation will “take the entire hospitality sector out of action”. Charlie Gilkes, co-founder of Inception Group, which owns and operates concepts including Cahoots and Mr Foggs, said: “With cases doubling each week, the current test and trace isolation rules will take the entire hospitality sector out of action and act as an enormous handbrake to the economy. Sensible test and release schemes are needed urgently. Hospitality will only bring ‘significant economic benefit’ if our staff can serve customers and don’t have to isolate as infections rise but can have a negative test instead. Working from home isn’t an option for our sector.” Alex Reilley, chairman of listed cafe-bar operator Loungers, said: “Asking whole teams of people who don’t have covid to isolate for ten days will, very quickly, result in a lockdown of hospitality in all but name. We can’t go on like this – urgent action is required.” Richard Boon, founder of Hub Box, the south west-based burger and barbecue concept, said: “It’s killing hospitality. The schools are getting all the press while our industry is being slowly strangled.” On the current rules, Tim Foster, co-founder of Yummy Pubs, tweeted: “Ten days, seven days, five days, there is absolutely no clarity, it is crazy. So far (touch wood) three off, no contact with team, out on days off, all three tested negative on subsequent tests twice – now sitting at home.”
 
Government launches consultation on making business rates revaluations more regular and fairer: The businesses rates system in England will be made fairer and more streamlined with more frequent property revaluations, according to proposals unveiled by the government. The government said that, under the plans, revaluations of non-domestic properties would take place every three years instead of the current system of five – ensuring they “better reflect changing economic conditions”. The proposals are set out in a government consultation that will form one part of its fundamental review of business rates, which will be published later this autumn. Financial secretary to the Treasury Jesse Norman said: “As our economy is recovering, we are supporting businesses to build back better. Proposals set out in this consultation would mean valuations more quickly reflect how the economy is performing, making the business rates system more accurate and responsive, while balancing the burden for ratepayers.”
 
Ireland to limit indoor hospitality to vaccinated people: Ireland is to restrict indoor drinking and dining in bars and restaurants to those who are fully vaccinated or who have previously been infected by covid-19, prime minister Micheal Martin has announced. The move is part of a more cautious approach to the easing of covid-19 restrictions due to concerns about the spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus. Martin said indoor dining would not be reopened on Monday (5 July) as planned but would be delayed until a new system of vaccine certification has been implemented. “A return to other indoor activities, including hospitality, will be delayed given the increased transmissibility for the Delta variant,” Martin said. The safest way to now proceed with a return to indoor hospitality is to limit access to those who have been fully vaccinated or have recovered from covid infection, he added. Ireland would be one of the first places in Europe to introduce such a measure. Moscow introduced similar restrictions on Monday (28 June). Bars, restaurants, and cafes have been closed in Ireland for much of the past 16 months, with the latest national lockdown in place since late December. Outdoor dining and drinking has been allowed since 7 June.
 
No change in restrictions leaves footfall broadly unchanged: Footfall in the UK last week only differed by a few percentage points compared with the previous few weeks, with no change in the restrictions allowing greater freedom, according to the latest data from Wi-Fi solutions provider Wireless Social. London was once again the most recovered city in the UK, followed by Cardiff. Newcastle has the least footfall compared to the pre-covid average of February 2020. Casual dining restaurants have enjoyed the largest share footfall, but that figure is just 36% of the footfall seen in that sector in 2019.
Wireless Social is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

Job of the day: COREcruitment is working on a new commercial manager position for a growing food and beverage-focused, international property business. The company is seeking a commercial manager for a 12-month fixed term contract, who will be responsible for continuing the drive and enhancement of the commerciality of the curation process, the relationship with EMEA and APAC vendors, and to help deliver third-party sponsorship opportunities across all existing and soon-to-open venues. The commercial manager for EMEA and APAC will report to the chief executive and will be accountable for supporting all non-US growth with appropriate commercial deals specific to the country, the city and the area of each market location. The position will pay between £90,000 and £100,000 base salary. The start date will be October. Anyone interested can email Hollie@corecruitment.com
COREcruitment is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

Company News:  

You Me Sushi aims to more than triple in size over the next 18 months: You Me Sushi, the London-based restaurant and takeaway concept, is planning to more than triple its current eight-strong estate over the next months, including the launch of its first franchised sites, Propel has learned. Peter Cossar, formerly of Starbucks and Papa John’s, who was appointed the brand’s new managing director earlier this year, told Propel: “We are looking to build on the success we have seen over the past couple of years and grow the brand to about 30 stores in the next 18 months. This year, we will open a further seven stores, including five franchise stores. Our first franchise store will open in Stratford in July. In 2022, we will open a further 15 stores. We have more than ten franchise stores signed up under development agreements and will open a further three or four ourselves.” Cossar said the company was looking at growing organically from its London base, with all the openings this year and next set to be in the capital before the business explores opportunities outside. Its next opening will be in Ealing Broadway, along the same strip as Starbucks and Wagamama. Founded in 2008, You Me Sushi opened its first site in Marylebone, with a second branch opening two years later at the Westfield shopping centre in Shepherd’s Bush. It has since opened a further six sites across the capital in Gray’s Inn, Tottenham Court Road, Earl’s Court, Chiswick, Brent Cross and, most recently, Twickenham.
 
Red Engine to launch Electric Shuffle concept in the US: Red Engine, the team behind Flight Club, is to launch the first international site under its Electric Shuffle concept in Texas, US, Propel has learned. Headed by US chief executive Gene Ball, formerly of Topgolf, the site will open this October in Deep Ellum, Dallas, with bookings going live in the coming weeks. Electric Shuffle launched in London’s Canary Wharf in November 2019, and Red Engine recently announced plans to open a second site in London Bridge later this summer. Having reimagined the game of shuffleboard in a spectacular bar, Electric Shuffle sees teams of up to 16 players competing against each other in three games. Red Engine chief executive Steve Moore said: “We are so excited to be taking Electric Shuffle stateside. We’re thrilled to have Gene join the team and can’t wait to bring this spectacular venue to life. We see a huge opportunity in the US market to redefine moments with friends, and we’re confident we’ve created a truly unique experience combining Electric Shuffle with best-in-class hospitality in Texas.” At the same time,  a fourth US site has been lined up for its for darts concept, Flight Club. The brand's sites in the US are operated under licence to State of Play Hospitality. The company, which already operates Flight Club sites in Chicago and Boston, and has a third lined up in Las Vegas, is set to open in Regent Square, Houston, by the end of this year. Meanwhile, Red Engine will open its eighth Flight Club in the UK next month, in Bristol’s Corn Street. Flight Club is also set to open sites in Dublin, and Perth in Australia with licensing partners.
 
Wells & Co to focus on rolling out new managed sites in UK and France as pandemic hits full-year revenue by almost £15m: Bedford-based brewer and retailer Wells & Co has said it is focusing on rolling out new managed sites in the UK and France as it saw revenue fall by almost £15m as a result of the pandemic. The company reported sales fell to £38.5m for the year ending 27 September 2020, compared with £53.2m the previous year. These figures reflect the full impact of the first wave of covid-19 lockdown, with the pandemic causing the closure of all pubs in the UK and France. Despite the pandemic, Wells & Co forged ahead with the opening of Brewpoint, its new brewery, restaurant, bar and offices in Bedford. Brewpoint sees Wells & Co recommence brewing following the sale of the Eagle brewery to Marston’s in 2017. Wells & Co saw net debt levels increase to £29.5m from £16.7m as a result of covid-19 and its planned capital investment in Brewpoint. Wells & Co delivered £3.6m of Ebitda in the year. The company traded under normal conditions for 25 weeks of the year, was fully closed for 15 weeks and traded with restrictions for the final 13 weeks. No dividend was paid. Group managing director Peter Wells said: “To deliver this while also fully supporting our 170 Pub Partner sites – Wells & Co conceded all commercial rent while pubs were closed – is a positive position we can build upon into 2021. We’ve learned from the covid-19 pandemic that, while our business model has proven itself upon reopening, we need to continue to invest in our people and our pubs to allow us to deliver experiences our customers would recommend to their friends. To do this, we will continue to focus on the rollout of new managed sites in both the UK and France.” Since the year end, the company has opened one new managed house, The Flint Cottage in High Wycombe, and started work at The Gordon Arms in Bedford. By March 2021, the group had received £6.6m of support – £4.5m from the UK government and £2.1m from the French government. Furlough support has been £3.9m (UK and France combined), £1.3m has been UK savings on business rates and local grants, and £1.1m has been French support to the hospitality sector, with the VAT reduction to 5% having £0.3m of benefit. Wells said: “While pubs are now reopening and customer demand is returning, there is still a long way to go to get hospitality back to where it was before being so significantly impacted by lockdown policies and the fallout of Brexit, which has helped fuel the chronic staff shortages in the hospitality and logistics industries.” Wells & Co operates 190 pubs in the UK and 17 in France.
 
Handa acquires Richoux Piccadilly site: Naveen Handa of leisure company The Cairn Group, who last month acquired the Richoux brand and its intellectual property out of administration, has subsequently acquired its site in London’s Piccadilly, Propel has learned. Handa is set to reopen the site at 172 Piccadilly under the Richoux name later this summer. The brand, which had sites in Piccadilly and Mayfair, was part of Dining Street and its two subsidiaries, Richoux and Newultra, which was placed into administration earlier this year. Handa is part of the family that owns The Cairn Group, which has grown to a portfolio of 32 hotels and more than 30 bars and restaurants across the UK. Handa, who also backs East Coast Concepts and is a partner in the joint venture behind Vapiano UK, plans to expand Richoux in the UK and internationally. The sale of the Richoux brand followed a separate transaction resulting in the assignment of the former Richoux premises in South Audley Street, Mayfair, to an undisclosed party, which Propel understands is led by Disnesh Nair, part of the founding family of The Leela Palaces Hotels & Resorts business, who is behind the nearby Jamavar restaurant in Mount Street. Richard Negus at AG&G acted on the sale of the Piccadilly site.
 
Windsor & Eton Brewery embarks on £600,000 crowdfunding campaign as it looks to expand pub and bar portfolio to 20 sites in five years: Brewer and retailer Windsor & Eton Brewery is aiming to raise £600,000 as it looks to expand its pub and bar portfolio to 20 sites across the Thames Valley within five years. The company, which was founded in 2010 and operates three pubs and two bars, is raising the funds on crowdfunding platform Seedrs. The business was offering up to 10% equity, giving a pre-money valuation of £7.5m. Having launched the campaign privately, within three and a half hours, more than £350,000 was invested, surpassing an initial target of £300,000. The campaign has now already raised more than £400,000. To allow as many people to invest as possible, Windsor & Eton Brewery has now opened up the campaign to the public, offering further equity, bringing the new target to £600,000. Managing director Will Calvert said: “2021 is shaping up to be a really important year for the brewery. Our new taproom is due to open later this summer, offering locals and visitors the chance to enjoy fresh beer and freshly cooked food here at the brewery. Crowdfunding gives our many fans and followers the opportunity to own shares in the brewery and will allow us to expand our pubs and bars beyond Windsor and across the Thames Valley.” The brewery now produces 1.5 million pints a year.

Costley & Costley sees full-year turnover slashed almost in half by pandemic: Ayrshire-based restaurant and hotel operator Costley & Costley has reported its full-year turnover was almost slashed in half as a result of the pandemic. The family-owned company, which operates seven venues, saw turnover fall 45.3% to £5.3m for the year ending 30 September 2020, compared with £9.6m in the previous year. Pre-tax losses increased to £557,000, compared with £136,000 the year before. But the company said it was encouraged by the “extremely strong” level of bookings it has seen for weddings for 2021 and beyond. In the report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “The business was severely impacted with the covid-19 outbreak in March 2020, with all premises required to close its doors to the public for more than four months of the financial year during the first national lockdown. The enforced closure covered the peak summer season, with the majority of the decrease in turnover recorded in wedding revenue, alcohol and restaurant sales for the year. After the first lockdown ended mid-July 2020, the group welcomed the government’s Eat Out To Help Out initiative throughout August 2020, which helped boost the group’s revenue towards the end of the financial year and prior to being placed into level 4 restrictions post year-end. Despite the decrease in revenue, the group managed to maintain the gross profit margin around 70%, with the margin slightly falling from 71.4% to 70.1%. The directors have guided the company through this period, taking advantage of government initiatives and grant funding to minimise the financial impact on the group’s trading performance and help preserve group cash. It is encouraging to see an extremely strong level of bookings for weddings right through 2021 and beyond. The venues have been further developed and are looking in fantastic shape for the wedding and function business.”
 
Provincial Hotels and Inns goes into administration: Provincial Hotels and Inns, owned by hospitality management company Onecall, has gone into administration. The Cumbrian-based company has appointed Patrick Lannagan and Julien Irving, of Mazars, as joint administrators. Provincial Hotels and Inns owns and trades four pubs and a hotel/brasserie in north Lancashire. They are The County Lodge & Brasserie, Carnforth; The Blue Anchor, Bolton-le-Sands; The Windmill Tavern, Preston; The Manor Inn, Lancaster; and the Yorkshire House Hotel, Lancaster. Lannagan said: “Trading will continue while the administrators assess the financial position of the businesses. Given the popularity of the pubs and hotel, the joint administrators are confident of achieving a positive outcome for the sites.” The joint administrators said they will be writing to all creditors over the next few days but would encourage anyone with an interest in taking over the pubs and hotel/brasserie to make contact with Avison Young. Provincial Hotels and Inns was formed in 2016 when it acquired 11 sites from Mitchells of Lancaster. 
 
Rohit Ghai returns to Mayfair for new restaurant venture: Rohit Ghai, former executive chef of Michelin-starred Indian restaurant Jamavar, is making a return to London’s Mayfair to launch a new venture. Ghai is launching Manthan, an Indian restaurant with a focus on sharing plates, cocktails and mocktails. Taking over the former Lucknow 49 premises in Maddox Street, the restaurant is set to open later this summer. The name means “to churn and reflect” and the restaurant both draws on Ghai’s childhood in Madhya Pradesh as well as his experience in some of London’s best Indian restaurants. The menu will feature “traditional flavours with a contemporary twist” while almost half of the dishes on the menu will be vegetarian. Dishes include Sarson chicken chop with mustard, kachumber salad and mint chutney; and a Burford brown egg curry with paratha. The cocktail menu will be inspired by the seven oceans of the world. Asian spirits, fine and new world wine will also be available along with an extensive non-alcoholic cocktail menu. Ghai said: “After a difficult time, I am so appreciative and humbled to be launching a new restaurant in the part of London where I have such great memories.” In 2018, Ghai launched his first stand-alone restaurant with business partner Abhi Sangwan, Kutir in Chelsea. Ghai, who also operates Koolcha at Boxpark Wembley, will also open Ishka 360, in Doha, later this year.
 
Experienced operators return to same Stratford street where journey began for latest venture: Experienced operators Sue and Rachel Hawkins have opened a pub in the same street in Stratford-upon-Avon where their journey began. The duo opened No 6 Union Street 27 years ago and, after launching numerous bars around the Cotswolds area, they’re back in the town to launch their tenth venture. The team, who are aunt and niece, have taken on The Phoenix in Guild Street, which has reopened after an extensive £350,000 refurbishment and includes an “Instagram-worthy” roof terrace. Sue Hawkins told Propel the first week had been “phenomenal”. She said: “There is such a pent-up demand for fun out there and I’m hoping we’ve hit just the right note with The Phoenix. We’re hoping to offer a little slice of London. We’ve pulled together all of our expertise from over the years and this is the big one.” The Hawkins’ have specialised in bringing pubs back to life. Previous ventures from the duo include Bar Hum Bug, Embargo, Fox and Goose in Armscote, The George in Shipston, The Bell in Stow, Stuart House and The Milton Hare.
 
Mexican-born chef Adriana Cavita to launch debut solo venture: Mexican-born chef Adriana Cavita is launching her solo venture, in London. Cavita, who is currently hosting a residency on the rooftop at The Dorchester, is getting ready to open her own restaurant, in November. The chef, who trained at some of the world’s top restaurants including El Bulli and Pujol, is launching the eponymous restaurant in Wigmore Street, Marylebone. The menu will be inspired by the flavors of her childhood with dishes including Pollo al Carbon – char-grilled corn-fed chicken, fresh herby verde mole with tomatillo and roasted poblano; and Puerto Nuevo lobster – crispy fried half lobster, ajillo sauce with garlic and mixed chillies, avocado and tomato salsa and black beans. The restaurant will have a chef’s table as well as a downstairs stand-alone mezcal bar called Mayahuel, which will also have its own street entrance. Mayahuel will serve margaritas alongside snacking plates such as tuna tostada and esquites with added bone marrow. Cavita said: “Cuisines are constantly evolving, never set in stone for eternity. So words like ‘real’ or ‘authentic’ are always a little loaded, but I do my best to get to the heart of authentic Mexican cuisine and showcase it in my cooking.” 
 
Plans for JD Wetherspoon pub in North Walsham in doubt with site earmarked for flexible business space: Plans to open a JD Wetherspoon in North Walsham, Norfolk, have been thrown into doubt, with the site it has earmarked set to be flexible business space. Discussions had been ongoing with the pub company since 2014 to open a branch at The Cedars, the former offices of North Walsham Town Council in New Road. However, North Norfolk District Council said Wetherspoon was unable to commit to buying the site due to the pandemic, although the company insisted it still wants the property. Now the council is planning to refurbish the building with £3.2m of High Street Heritage Action Zone funding from Historic England and the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, before using it as flexible space for businesses and community groups. As well as letting out the main building, the council is also discussing proposals to sell adjoining land to maximise financial return on the site. Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon told the Eastern Daily Press: “Wetherspoon is still keen to purchase the site and develop it into a pub and would be more than happy to speak with the council members on this matter.” Deputy leader of the district council and North Walsham town councillor, Eric Seward, said: “The proposal for the Cedar House New Road site to be sold to Wetherspoon has been going on for almost seven years. The district council under different political administrations has twice agreed to sell the site to them. However, the covid pandemic has understandably delayed any chance of a pub being opened on this site for some years. The council, therefore, has to find alternative ways for this derelict prominent town centre site to be brought back into use.” 
 
Monte Forte Neapolitan Pizza set to open second site: Surrey-based concept Monte Forte Neapolitan Pizza is set to open its second site next month, in Horsham, West Sussex. The concept, which is the brainchild of brothers Paolo and Luca Malavasi, has taken a site in the town’s East Street. Monte Forte already operates a site in Reigate. The concept said it has a “vision of creating the best Neapolitan pizza available at prices for everyone, using the freshest ingredients and not forgetting good vibes to go along with”.
 
German Doner Kebab to open third Greater Manchester site as it secures former Revolution premises in Fallowfield: German Doner Kebab, the Hero Brands-backed business, is to open its third Greater Manchester site. The company has secured the former Revolution site in Wilmslow Road, Fallowfield. The building has been shut since early 2020 when Revolution closed some of its sites as part of a company voluntary arrangement. The site went up for auction in June last year and was acquired by Manchester property developer Nabeel Mussarat on behalf of his company, Property Hub. In addition to the restaurant, the first floor is being converted into four flats. Mussarat said: “This project has ensured that a very interesting and vibrant area has remained undeterred from its usual excitement, with the addition of the German Doner Kebab restaurant only complementing the landscape of the local area.” The restaurant, which is expected to open in late summer, is part of German Doner Kebab plans to open 47 new restaurants in the UK during 2021, building significantly on the 12 opened during 2020.
 
Molson Coors makes £25m investment in Burton brewery: Molson Coors is making a £25m investment in its Burton-upon-Trent brewery that includes a new hard seltzer canning line and upgrades to its beer and cider packaging facilities to drive efficiencies. The investment in the new hard seltzer canning line follows the success of the category in the US, which saw retail sales of $2.7bn in the 12 months to June last year and already commands 2.6% market share of all beverage alcohol in the US. The new canning line will package Molson Coors’ 4% ABV hard seltzer brand Three Fold as well as support future innovation in the ready-to-drink (RTD) category and premium beer. Phil Whitehead, managing director of Molson Coors in western Europe, said: “The hard seltzer and RTD categories present a huge opportunity for growth. This investment will allow us to scale up at speed and help our customers to rapidly respond to that growing demand from consumers.” Work to install the new hard seltzer canning line will begin in late 2021 and the first cans are due to be produced from the new line in late spring 2022. Molson Coors will also upgrade its beer and cider packaging lines with this work also beginning later this year and expected to be complete by early 2022. The ongoing modernisation programme has seen Molson Coors invest more than £100m in its Burton brewery over the past decade, where the company employs more than 1,000 people.

Leonardo Hotels makes Bristol debut, signs agreement for Chester city centre site: Leonardo Hotels has made its debut in Bristol. The newly built Leonardo Hotel Bristol Glassfields in Temple Way features 197 bedrooms, a fully equipped gym and an on-site bar and restaurant. It is Leonardo Hotels’ 13th UK site. Jason Carruthers, managing director for Jurys Inn and Leonardo Hotels UK, said: “After expanding our offering in the capital, we are excited to be launching in one of the UK’s most vibrant cities.” Meanwhile, Leonardo Hotels has signed an agreement to open a hotel in Chester city centre. The company said the 94-bedroom hotel will open in the fourth quarter of this year, and although it did not reveal the exact location, added it would occupy a “prime position” within the city's historic Roman walls. It will be named the Leonardo Hotel Chester, and feature a restaurant and bar offering with on-street access. The group operates 47 hotels in the UK. 
 
Five Points launches open-air taproom at new brewery site: London-based Five Points Brewing Company has launched its new open-air taproom. It is part of a move by the company that sees it merge its separate production and warehousing sites into a new flagship headquarters in Mare Street, Hackney. The new outdoor taproom currently has capacity for 300 guests, offering table service in line with the current restrictions. As part of the opening, pizza concept, Ace Pizza, led by executive chef Rachel Jones, has set up a residency. Ace Pizza has previously worked with Five Points at its nearby Pembury Tavern pub. Later this year, Five Points will also launch an indoor taproom bar. Last month, Five Points closed a fundraise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube towards the brewery project after raising more than £950,000. 
 
Plans for Northern Ireland floating hotel get go-ahead: Plans to create a floating hotel in Northern Ireland that would generate 50 jobs have been given the go-ahead. The owner of the Cranagh Marina Complex in Coleraine is behind the proposals. It will have 36 en-suite rooms, a restaurant and conferencing and function facilities upon completion. Seamus Carey, owner of Cranagh Marina Complex, said: “We are delighted to receive approval for what will be a completely new facility on the island of Ireland. We are in a unique situation, being the only business on this island that can do this. The port of Coleraine remains open and the Bann has no bridges or locks in the way, which, therefore, makes a project like this both viable and attractive. We are also excited about the opportunity this project will present to Coleraine and the Bann Valley. We believe it will revitalise the environs and improve and facilitate connections between the area, including Inishowen and Scotland, not to mention the economic impact that will be felt by residents and surrounding businesses.”
 
Bourne Leisure ‘planning to acquire’ north Wales castle: Blackstone-owned Bourne Leisure, the UK’s largest holiday parks provider, is understood to be “planning to acquire” a north Wales castle that closed in 2019. The grade II-listed Bodelwyddan Castle was forced to shut its doors two years ago following the loss of its annual £144,000 grant from Denbighshire County Council. The castle trust’s remaining 99-year lease was sold back to the landlord, Denbighshire County Council, after being valued at £1m by agent Lambert Smith Hampton. It is located next to the Bodelwyddan Castle Hotel, which is owned by Warner Leisure Hotels, part of the Bourne Leisure Group. Alan Coleman, from Cowgills business advisory team, which brokered the lease deal, said: “We understand Bourne Leisure, which owns the neighbouring hotel, is planning to acquire the remaining part of the castle from Denbighshire County Council and undergo a full refurbishment that will ensure the future for this superb building.” Jayne Williams who was the caretaker manager of the castle for 20 years was instrumental in managing the castle on behalf of the liquidators and the trustees. Dr Kevin Mason acted for the trustees as a general consultant and Salisburys Chartered Accountants and Aaron & Partners Solicitors also acted for the trust.
 
Caravan park operator expands beachfront site in Northumberland as demand soars for seaside staycation holidays: Caravan park operator Northumbrian Leisure has expanded its Golden Sands beachfront site in Cresswell, Northumberland, as consumer demand soars for seaside staycation holidays across the UK. The development, called Water’s Edge, has created 50 new static holiday caravan pitches, bringing with it visitor spend into the local area of about £550,000 a year. The ten-acre development is the most recent phase of planned expansion works at the coastal park since the Thompson family acquired the site 30 years ago. Nigel Thompson said: “Despite the impact of the lockdown, we’ve remained focused on completing our expansion at Golden Sands as we continue to grow and develop our park for static caravan owners. A combination of people not wanting to or being unable to holiday abroad or go on a cruise as a result of covid or Brexit has led to a surge in demand for static caravan holiday home ownership – especially in prime seaside locations like the Northumberland coast.” As well as its Golden Sands park, Northumbrian Leisure’s caravan site portfolio includes Glororum Holiday Park in Bamburgh, Cliff Top and Stone Close in Seahouses, Riverside Holiday Park in Warkworth and Sandhaven Holiday Park in South Shields.
 
Distillery and tourist centre in Belfast gets go-ahead: Plans to create a whiskey distillery with a tourist centre in a former wing of the Crumlin Road Gaol in Belfast have been given the go-ahead by the city council. The space, known as wing A, has been earmarked for the development by Belfast Distillery Company. It is one of four three-storey wings of the decommissioned Victorian prison that was built between 1840 and 1859. Tourist facilities would comprise guided tours, a bar and restaurant, while the plans also include a new car park, reports Insider Media. The scheme represents an investment of more than £25m. Part of the former prison has already been converted into a museum, while the remaining wings are still vacant.

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