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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Wed 6th Oct 2021 - Update: ‘National living wage’ to rise to £9.42 an hour, Papa John's UK, Thwaites
PM to reveal ‘national living wage’ rise to £9.42 an hour in a few weeks: Prime minister Boris Johnson will announce a significant rise in the minimum wage within weeks as he pledges to end the “broken” model of a low-wage, low-growth economy. Johnson will accept the recommendations of independent advisers that are likely to boost the pay of the lowest earners to about £9.42 an hour, reports The Times. The announcement will mean the annual earnings of someone on the “national living wage” – the minimum wage paid to people over the age of 23 – increasing by 5.7%. To someone working 35 hours per week, the increase would be worth an extra £928 a year before tax. Johnson will use his conference speech today (Wednesday, 6 October) to say unlike his Conservative predecessors he has the “guts” to change the direction of Britain and level up the country. Ministers see the impending boost to the minimum wage, which would take effect in April, as a way to help tackle what Johnson believes is a “low-wage, low-cost approach” across the economy. A new minimum wage of £9.42 would represent the third biggest annual rise since the financial crash. Recommendations on the rate of the minimum wage are made each year by the Low Pay Commission (LPC), an independent expert advisory body. It will submit its proposals for next year to the government by the end of this month. In a report in April the LPC estimated its 2022 recommendation would be an increase to £9.42 an hour. Sources believe the final recommendation could rise to £9.45 but not significantly higher than that. A government source said Johnson, as other prime ministers had done, was likely to accept the commission’s recommendations in full. The increases are part of a government-set target for the national living wage, which is not the same as the voluntary living wage set by the Living Wage Foundation, to reach two thirds of median earnings by 2024. A significant increase to the minimum wage could hit some small businesses as they emerge from the pandemic and prepare for increased national insurance contributions to fund health and social care. The anticipated recommendation falls short of Labour’s demand that the government immediately increase the minimum wage to £10 an hour.

Third edition of The New Openings Database to be sent to Premium subscribers today: The third edition of The New Openings Database, which is produced in association with StarStock, will be sent to Propel Premium subscribers today (Wednesday, 6 October), at midday. It will show the details of 345 newly announced site openings and upcoming launches. The database shows the details of which company has opened a site or its plans to open one in the future. It will have details on what type of site it is and its location. There will also be a website link to the businesses so you can find out more about them. It is published on a monthly basis. The third edition of the database features regional brands in growth, niche cuisine, new and expanding experiential leisure concepts and a number of international growth brands making their UK debut. Premium subscribers also receive access to two other databases. The latest Propel Multi-Site Database, which is produced in association with Virgate, was sent to Premium subscribers on Friday (1 October). The database contained 70 new companies, bringing the total number of businesses listed up to 2,086. The 398 sites run by those 70 new additions means the entire database of sites has reached 60,531 sites. Premium subscribers also received a 6,100-word report on the new businesses added. 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. Premium subscribers also receive the Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which is produced in association with Mapal Group. The Blue Book, which is also updated every month, 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. 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. To subscribe, email

Papa John’s UK reports full-year turnover up 29.7%, operating profit soars 200%: Papa John’s UK has reported turnover rose 29.7% to £94.9m for the year ending 27 December 2020, compared with £73.2m the previous year. Operating profit soared 199.8% to £7.7m, compared with £2.6m the year before. Pre-tax profit increased to £8.0m, compared with £2.8m the previous year. The company opened 20 stores during the period, taking the total number of UK sites to 467. Since the year end, the company has continued to expand and, as previously reported, last month opened its 500th UK site. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “2020 was a challenging year for the business created by covid-19 and ensuring that our employees, franchisees and customers remained safe. The business was able to continue trading throughout the year and reported a 200% improvement in operating profit to £7.7m. The result contributed to a strong cash generation increasing the year-end cash balance to £8.6m. Our franchisee debt reduced by £3.6m although the loan book overall increased by £4.4m – this was a result of further franchisee consolidation and new store openings. All amounts are due within five years and we expect the loan book to reduce in 2021 to a similar amount reported in 2019.” The directors did not recommend the payment of a final ordinary share dividend. Of total turnover, £1.05m derived from its operations in Ireland, which was down from £1.27m the previous year.

Thwaites acquires Yorkshire Dales pub: North west brewer and retailer Daniel Thwaites has acquired The Red Lion pub in the Yorkshire Dales. The Red Lion, which is located at the bridge over the River Wharfe in Burnsall, dates to the 16th century and has been owned by the Grayshon family since 1991. The current proprietors are four sisters who took the property on from their parents, Andrew and Elizabeth, when they retired. Together with their husbands, the sisters have built up the business, which has 25 bedrooms, a riverside terrace, a function suite and five two-bedroom holiday cottages, each with views over the River Wharfe and the surrounding fells and moors. Eldest sister Sarah Stockdale said: “Over the past three decades we have lovingly restored The Red Lion’s buildings, carefully retaining its historic original features. Now, however, is the right time for us to step back to focus on new challenges. We’re so pleased Thwaites is taking The Red Lion on. It’s great to see another family business with a track record of running fantastic properties take the reins and we wish it every success.” Thwaites is already familiar with the Yorkshire Dales, where it also owns The Lister Arms in Malham and The Golden Lion in Settle. The Red Lion will join its hotel collective, The House of Daniel Thwaites. Executive chairman Rick Bailey said: "The Red Lion is a jewel at the heart of Wharfedale and a walkers paradise. We’re thrilled the Grayshon family has chosen us to take the pub on and we’re excited to have the opportunity to build on its already excellent reputation. The Red Lion is joining a family of outstanding properties in great locations, and is the perfect addition to our growing collection of inns and spa hotels. The Red Lion is very well run so it will continue to trade as normal and we look forward to getting to know the team who are transferring to Thwaites. I am sure that we will have an exciting future together.”

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