Exclusive – Cote appoints Keith Lloyd as new MD; Lisa Buckley to take special projects role: Cote, the French brasserie chain backed by the Partners Group, has appointed Keith Lloyd, currently central head of operations for UK and Ireland at Nando’s, as its new managing director, Propel has learned. Propel understands that Lloyd, who has been with Nando’s for over eight years, will join the Jane Holbrook-chaired Cote later this autumn. At the same time, Lisa Buckley, the 84-strong brand’s current managing director, will move into a newly created role overseeing special projects. Buckley joined Cote at the turn of the year, after almost five years at Wagamama, where she was most recently UK operations director. Holbrook told Propel: “We are very excited to welcome Keith as our new managing director as we move into our next phase of growth for Cote. And I’m delighted that Lisa will be heading up some very exciting things that we can’t talk about yet!” It is thought that part of Buckley’s new remit will be to aid the refurbishment programme of the group’s estate, which began earlier this year with the trial of a new evolution site at its most recent opening in Solihull. The launch of the trial site followed an extensive piece of research and a new design, which includes a lighter colour palate. The business hopes to take learnings from the new restaurant to help it update the rest of its estate in time as it looks to make the brand more “everyday special”. It is thought that some of the findings will be incorporated in the brand’s next new opening later this year, in Henley. At the same time, Amy Sawbridge, former brand director and head of people experience at Virgin Group, has officially joined the business as its new chief people officer. During her ten years at the Virgin Group, Strawbridge led the employee experience function as part of the company’s global brand team.
No 10 to press on with plans for covid vaccine passports in England: Downing Street has said the government will press ahead with plans to introduce vaccine passports for nightclubs and other crowded indoor venues in England from the end of next month. Boris Johnson’s official spokesperson was asked on Tuesday (31 August) about reports suggesting ministers could back away from the proposal in the face of objections from Conservative MPs, but said there was no change to the policy. “We set out broadly our intention to require vaccination for nightclubs and some other settings. We will be coming forward in the coming weeks with detail for that,” he said. The requirement is meant to come into effect at the end of September and will be based on use of the existing NHS app, which allows users to generate proof of vaccination. Asked whether the prime minister remained 100% committed to the plan, the spokesperson said: “Yes, there is no change in our position.” Last month, a letter written on behalf of Sajid Javid, the health secretary, the Government Legal Department stated that “no final policy decision has yet been taken” in relation to the issue, adding that “any further announcements will be made in due course”. The letter, a copy of which was leaked to the Sunday Telegraph, was written to solicitors representing Hugh Osmond, the founder of Punch Taverns and director of Various Eateries, who has threatened to sue the government over the proposed move. Osmond tweeted yesterday: “It appears the government’s legal department lied to us in writing when it said no decision had been made about vaccine passports.”
Shake Shack closes Cambridge Circus site: Shake Shack, the US better burger brand, has closed one of its flagship UK sites, in London’s Cambridge Circus. The site, which was formerly home to Jacob Kenedy and Victor Hugo’s Vico restaurant and before that a Pizza Hut, became the US brand’s eight site in the UK, when it launched in October 2017. The closure of the Cambridge Circus site leaves Shake Shack with 10 restaurants in the UK, including eight in London, one in Cardiff and one in Lakeside, Essex. It also operates nine delivery kitchen sites.
PPHE Hotel group reports domestic leisure still key driver as international travel still subdued: PPHE Hotel Group, the company which develops, owns and operates hotels and resorts, has total revenue in the six months to the end of June was £25.8 million (H1 2020: £61.9 million, which included a pre-covid January and February). In Q2, total revenue was £20.4 million, up 95.8% versus Q2 2020. Ebitda loss was limited to £14 million in H1 through decisive actions to mitigate the impact of the covid-19 pandemic (H1 2020: loss of £3.3 million, which included a pre-covid January and February). The company said the majority of properties are in operation, following a prolonged period of lockdowns and temporary closures since the onset of the pandemic. Occupancy in the group’s key cities is currently dominated by domestic leisure demand as air travel is still subdued. Positive booking trends continued into July and August in the UK, the Netherlands and Germany, again driven by predominantly domestic leisure activity. In Croatia, July and August performance exceeded expectations, with the aggregrate revenue during this key demand period at approximately 90% of the revenue generated in the same period in 2019. In the UK, the group is encouraged by the increasing number of meeting and event enquiries, which are at the highest level since the start of the pandemic and demonstrate the demand when markets stabilise, albeit enquiry levels are still some way behind 2019. Boris Ivesha, president and chief executive officer, PPHE Hotel Group said: “We were delighted to welcome back guests to our properties and see improving demand as restrictions eased across our markets in Q2 following a long period of lockdown measures and ongoing domestic and international travel restrictions which impacted trading in the period. In the period, we secured some exclusive contracts across several of our London properties and our flagship Park Plaza Westminster Bridge London was the proud host hotel for the players and support teams of the Wimbledon Championships. We also continued to make progress on our £200+ million development pipeline and through a partnership on two London properties we were able to unlock £113.7 million of equity at the group’s latest NAV to grow our group to further increase our financial flexibility and support our recovery. Post period end, we have seen the increasing trend for leisure demand continue, while the number of enquiries for meetings and events in the UK is at the highest level since the pandemic started. In Croatia we have reported a strong July and August performance, with revenues at approximately 90% of those generated during the same period in 2019.”
SSP appoints Jonathan Davies as deputy chief executive: SSP Group, the leading operator of food and beverage outlets in travel locations worldwide, has announced that Jonathan Davies has been appointed as its deputy chief executive, alongside his current role of chief financial officer, with immediate effect. The company said that following the recent announcement that Simon Smith will step down from his role as chief executive at the end of the year, the process to identify his successor is progressing well. Mike Clasper, chairman, said: “I’m delighted that Jonathan is taking on this role, which will ensure continuity of leadership during the transition period and provide invaluable support to the new chief executive when appointed. Jonathan’s long experience and extensive knowledge of the business have been key to SSP in responding to the challenges of the pandemic. Under his stewardship, SSP has maintained a tight control of its operating costs and created a strong liquidity position. His financial and commercial expertise will continue to be essential as we move into the next phase of our strategy, re-opening the estate and taking advantage of the many new opportunities we anticipate as the travel sector recovers.”