Story of the Day:
Caring-backed businesses secure new £168m credit facility: The Richard Caring-backed Caprice Holdings, The Birley Group and Troia UK Restaurants – the parent company of the Ivy Collection – agreed a new £168m revolving credit facility earlier this year, Propel has learned. Company accounts show that the new facility with HSBC covering the three businesses commenced at the end of April. The new facility came as Troia UK Restaurants posted turnover of £125.8m for the 52 weeks to 3 January 2021, compared with £198.7m for the 52 weeks to 29 December 2019. Adjusted Ebitda for the period stood at £26.8m (2019: £34.6m), while pre-tax profit was £12.2m (2019: £17.2m). The company said trading results during the times restaurants had been allowed to open were “extremely strong despite the reduced capacity”. For Troia UK Restaurants, its bank facility with HSBC as at the balance sheet date remained at £96m, of which £84m was outstanding. The company also plans to open two new Ivy sites in 2021, having opened in Exeter earlier this summer, and has recently applied to open a site in Chichester. It also plans expansions at three existing locations whereby an Ivy Asia will be added – with one has so far opened in Chelsea. The business said further openings are in the pipeline for 2022, and it was optimistic that once national restrictions were removed, trading would be strong and consumer demand high. Last month, the company submitted a licensing application for an Ivy Asia site in Cardiff, close to its existing The Ivy site in the city. It has also submitted plans to open an Ivy Asia in Leeds, on the former French Connection store in the city, which will be an extension to its existing The Ivy Victoria Quarter Leeds site. The Ivy Collection has been linked with opening Ivy Asia sites in Guildford, Brighton, and Glasgow too, and is set to open a site under the format in Mayfair’s North Audley Street. Propel understands the company is eyeing the former Bank of England site in Liverpool’s Castle Street for a future opening as well. Turnover for Caprice Holdings, which operates London-based restaurants such as Scott’s in Mount Street; Asian-inspired Sexy Fish in Berkeley Square; and Italian-focused Daphne’s in South Kensington, stood at £28m for the 53 weeks to 3 January 2021 (2019: £64.8m), driven by the closure of all its sites for more than 21 weeks and the permanent closure of Sloane Street Deli and Le Caprice. Adjusted Ebitda for the period was £3.6m (2019: £9.4m). Under his Caprice Holdings vehicle, Caring is planning to open an all-day, fine-dining, Mediterranean-influenced restaurant in the former Porsche Garage site in Mayfair. Caring is also understood to be in talks to take the Armani Shop space above Australasia in Manchester’s Spinningfields Square. Earlier this summer, the serial sector investor confirmed he was to take on the former Revolution site in Richmond to open a second site for his Scott’s concept. He is also believed to have secured the La Brasserie site in Brompton Road, which closed in 2017, for, as yet unspecified, new restaurant project.
Next edition of Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book shows sector losses of £6.6bn:
The next edition of Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book
, produced in association with Mapal Group, shows the effects of the pandemic, with total losses of £6.6bn being reported by 219 companies. However, a further 208 sector companies are still reporting total profits of £1.3bn. The next edition will include 427 companies, an increase of 21 companies compared with the September edition. The 427 companies produce total turnover of £30bn. The next edition of the Blue Book will be sent to Premium subscribers on Friday, 15 October at midday. The Blue Book, which is updated every month, provides an insight into UK operator turnover and profitability over five years, profit conversion and directors’ earnings. Premium subscribers also receive two other databases – the New Openings Database,
produced in association with StarStock, and the Multi-Site Operators Database
, produced in association with Virgate, which are also updated each month. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Hospitality hiring trends to be explored as part of Yapster video mini-series: Yapster has created a mini-series focused entirely on people leaders as part of its Take the Lead Series. In the first episode, chief executive Rob Liddiard chats with Krishnan Doyle, managing director of COREcruitment, about his “key positions” report on current hospitality hiring trends. Doyle dives deep into what hospitality organisations are looking for in emerging talent across people, operations, marketing, finance and other functions as they rebuild and grow post-pandemic; which roles are most easily filled from existing talent within the sector and which roles tend to go to industry “outsiders”. The video will be sent at 9am on Monday (11 October).
James Low – rise of delivery is another reason why 20% VAT rate is no longer appropriate for the sector: The rise of delivery during the pandemic and its associated costs means the VAT rate for the hospitality sector can never return to 20%, Deep Blue Restaurants founder and chief executive James Low has argued. The VAT rate has now risen to 12.5% for the hospitality and tourism sector and is due to return to the 20% rate in April. But Low told Propel the dynamics of the takeaway market “have changed considerably” with the Deep Blue and Harry Ramsden’s operator now doing double the number of deliveries it was a year ago. He said: “That comes with an increase in costs in terms of labour as well as fees. The changes in consumer behaviour means a lot of takeaways have seen a shift from collection to delivery and, as a result, their overall profitability has reduced. For this reason and for those very clearly explained by UKHospitality and its VATsEnough campaign, it is absolutely vital the rate remains at 12.5% – 20% VAT is just no longer appropriate for the sector.” Low said Deep Blue Restaurants expects sales to be up 20% for the year ending September 2021 compared with the previous year. The company is set to add further to its estate with Deep Blue openings in Sunninghill in Berkshire and at the Extra MSA service station in Baldock, Hertfordshire, by the end of 2021. This will take the company’s estate to 37 Deep Blue sites along with ten Harry Ramsden’s. The company is also set to refurbish its flagship Harry Ramsden’s site, in Bournemouth, in a £1.2m project. The site has 400 covers and is the biggest fish and chip restaurant in the world. Further refurbishments of the Deep Blue and Harry Ramsden’s estate are also planned with the company rolling out kiosk technology and as a result has seen an increase in average transaction value. Low said the business planned a further “controlled” expansion of the Deep Blue brand in local communities and Harry Ramsden’s in coastal resorts. The group has seen growth in its franchising and licensing business and expects to see further growth of about 40% in the next financial year as it continues to develop this part of the business. Low spoke to Propel as Deep Blue Restaurants reported turnover rose 28% to £20.4m for the year ending 29 September 2020, compared with £15.7m the year before. Ebitda including central costs was up 71.2% to £2.7m, compared with £1.6m the previous year.
Barber – government needs to remember that restaurant owners aren’t ‘fat cats’: Jamie Barber, founder and chief executive of Hache and Cabana, has told the government that if it wants the sector to survive and prosper it needs to remember that restaurant owners are not “fat cats”. He wrote: “‘Fat cats’ and ‘restaurateurs’ are not words that are usually found together. And yet, the disdain in which the government expects the restaurant sector to deal with the coming tsunami of cost pressures makes me think that Boris is confusing apples with Apple, and big tech with big steaks. 2018 and 2019 were the anni horribili for the restaurant sector. A labour intensive and small margin industry found it tricky to navigate the perfect storm of a steep rise in business rates, upward only rent reviews and minimum wage increases. Throw in over-competition driven by drunken fuelled VC expansion, a dip in consumer confidence caused by Brexit and the spectre of Jeremy Corbyn, and it was not difficult to predict the outcome. In some cases, double digit declines in turnover, coupled with rising costs, caused the traditional restaurant estate tail to become the head, and wholesale deforestation occurred, leading to the collapse of previous star players such as Jamie’s Italian, Byron, Prezzo, Carluccio’s, GBK, Cau and Handmade Burger. Then we had covid, and it was awful. Still sweating from the previous two years, restaurateurs went to the mattresses, reinvented, hustled and, thankfully, many survived. This was partly because Rishi came along with a massive sticky plaster called furlough and threw in some grants, a welcomed VAT reduction and business rates relief which kept the sector on life support. But now, that plaster is being ripped off, and sadly, the sore underneath is bigger than it was. The challenges of 2019 are not quarantining in an airport hotel. They are still very much present, but in addition, the sector now finds itself with a depleted workforce, wage inflation so astonishing that it’s almost comical, soaring energy costs and the start of debt repayments racked up from surviving covid. For many, the only solution is to try to pass on the costs to the consumer, and this is a dangerous game – only Salt Bae can get away with £600 steaks. History shows us that price rises can easily backfire and lead to a decline in sales. So, if the government wants the sector to survive and prosper, to grow and to employ, it needs to remember that restaurant owners are not “fat cats”. The sector needs support, and it is inexcusable that the business rates problem has still not been resolved. This is not just an insurmountable burden for small restaurants with rateable values under £50,000 but for all operators, big and small. It needs to act now while it still can. The VAT rate on food needs to be frozen at 12.5% to allow time for the sector to re-calibrate and continue to be one of the largest sector employers in the country. With support comes confidence. With confidence comes investment. With investment comes jobs. Dear Boris – help us, to help you.”
Scotland’s hotels, pubs and B&Bs ‘will benefit’ from changes in short-term let laws: Changes in short-term lets laws in will level up the playing field for Scotland’s hotels, pubs and B&Bs, according to industry body UKHospitality. The plan was set out in a letter from social justice secretary Shona Robison to the Local Government, Housing and Planning Committee, ahead of laying the legislation before Scottish Parliament next month. This follows a third round of consultation on licensing, which ran from 25 June to 13 August. The scheme seeks to reduce public liability insurance requirements and remove overprovision powers, while simplifying the way neighbours are notified about licence applications and removing personal names from the public register. Robison said the purpose is to ensure short-term lets are safe and address issues faced by neighbours, while helping licensing authorities know what is happening in their areas and handle complaints effectively. UKHospitality Scotland’s executive director Leon Thompson welcomed the move, saying: “This takes us a step closer to the introduction of parity for all tourism accommodation providers in Scotland. UKHospitality Scotland has consistently called for the introduction of licensing for short-term lets to achieve a level playing field. This is to ensure our members do not continue to be put at a financial and competitive disadvantaged by the expanding rental market. The changes set out demonstrates that the Scottish government has genuinely listened to stakeholders on all sides of this conversation.”
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a leisure and hospitality business as it seeks a new marketing director. The business has multiple concepts attracting a wide customer base and is looking to expand its head office team over the next few months. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “This really is a very diverse position and would suit an outgoing, entrepreneurial marketeer and creative individual who is an expert in their field but also isn’t shy to expand their knowledge. The ideal marketing director will have developed a senior level career in either brand development or marketing and must have large team management and operations experience. The role would suit a creative marketeer who is able to create amazing brand strategy but is also interested and skilled in delivery, change management and roll out of concept.” Anyone interested can email Gemma@corecruitment.com
Portobello Brewery to open first pub outside London: Portobello Brewery, the Mark Crowther-chaired group, is to open its first pub outside London, in Hampshire, Propel has learned. The 15-strong business, which last November took over the management of 13 Antic pubs in the capital, is to reopen the Hart House in the commuter town of Fleet. The company, which will go onsite this week, aims to re-open the business as a “smart high street pub, serving fresh, seasonal food”. Managing director Richard Stringer told Propel: “We are very excited to be bringing our premium brands to Fleet in this, our first town centre bar and restaurant. This will be a different retail offer to our traditional pubs, with a premium all day dining environment and more extensive range of wines and cocktails alongside our core range of draught beers. We shall also be sticking to our principles of supporting local independent brewers, including in-Hart House beers from Hogsback and Siren.” Rob Jenkins, who launched Portobello Brewery in 2012, added: “We already have a healthy mix of free trade and retail customers in Hampshire, and I am delighted to now have our first bar in the county in which to showcase our full range of beers.” Last year, the business agreed to operate the 13 freehold pubs previously operated by Antic, which are located across London villages and suburbs. Former We Are Bar chief executive Stringer joined the business in 2019 as managing director of its pubs business. In 2019, it acquired the Hack & Hop in the City of London for its second site only seven weeks after completing on its first venue, King & Co in Clapham.
Maven Leisure to open debut site in Shoreditch: Maven Leisure – the new venture from ETM Group co-founder Ed Martin, chief financial officer Landen Prescott Brann and non-executive chairman Graham Turner – will open its debut site next month in Shoreditch, Propel has learned. The business, which earlier this summer closed a £4.3m fundraise, has secured the former Drake & Morgan site, The Allegory in Principal Place, which it will reopen as the Beechwood Sports Pub & Kitchen. Propel understands that the business is planning to open a further two sites in London in the first half of next year. This will include a landmark rooftop site in King William Street in the City of London, on the former House of Fraser department store, which will feature an all-day, premium indoor bar and restaurant space, with terraces heated and lit for year-round use and 360-degree views of the London skyline. It is looking to add another four venues by February 2024. Martin told Propel that ETM Group had seen like-for-like sales over the past four weeks up to the same period in 2019, and that Christmas bookings were “tracking at a healthy level compared to two years ago”. ETM Group currently operates 13 premium bars, pubs and restaurants in central London including the rooftop bar Aviary, The Botanist Sloane Square and premium sports bars Greenwood and Redwood.
Lina Stores confirmed for Marylebone opening: Delicatessen brand Lina Stores has confirmed it will open a new site in London’s Marylebone. As revealed by Propel at the start of August, the White Rabbit Projects-backed company is taking over the former Sourced Markets site in Wigmore Street. The business recently confirmed it was to take over the Bloomberg Arcade site in the city that was previously home to Andrew Wong’s Michelin-starred Kym’s restaurant. It has also been linked to an opening in Clapham, although it is thought a deal on a mooted site there has yet to be signed. Lina, which earlier this summer opened its first site outside the UK in Shibuya in Tokyo, currently operates restaurants in London’s Soho and King’s Cross as well as its original delicatessen in Brewer Street.
Fallow finds permanent home in St James’s Market: Fallow, the fledgling restaurant concept from chefs Jack Croft and Will Murray – who met while working at Heston Blumenthal’s two Michelin-starred restaurant Dinner – is to open its first permanent site in London’s St James’s Market this November. Having launched as a 12-week pop-up in March 2020 at 10 Heddon Street, The Crown Estate’s revolving restaurant site, Fallow’s residency was extended due to the covid lockdowns. The new 150-cover site, which will open on the former Duck & Waffle Local site, will open all day and boast a 65-cover dining room with a bar, wraparound terrace, and seven-seater chef’s counter overlooking the open kitchen. There will be particular focus on whole animal butchery, with the kitchen downstairs boasting a dry ageing room. Joining Croft and Murray in the kitchen is chef Anna Williams, previously head pastry chef at Dinner by Heston. Chairman James Robson said: “Navigating a start-up during the various lockdowns has been the business challenge of a lifetime but greatly fulfilling. The guest response has been tremendous, and working with The Crown Estate to secure a substantial West End lease will give Fallow a permanent home to cement their future potential and ambitions.” Murray and Croft added: “We are over the moon with the support for Fallow so far, and we are striving to make the new site better than ever before. We’re currently in experimentation mode and can’t wait to showcase the new ingredients we’ve recently discovered and grown on our small holding.” Fallow Heddon Street will close its doors on 3 October before Fallow St James’s launches in early November. Propel understands that Filipino-concept Sarap is in talks to replace Fallow in Heddon Street.
Pret to ramp up Moto partnership: Pret A Manger, the JAB Holdings-backed chain, is to ramp up its partnership with services operators Moto with a handful of new sites, Propel understands. In October 2020, Pret announced a new partnership with Moto. The first shop at Cherwell Valley opened in December, followed by a second at Moto’s new Rugby service station earlier this year. Propel now understands that Pret will open further sites at Moto’s Exeter, Wetherby and Donnington Park service stations. Earlier this summer, Pret announced it was to open new shops in petrol stations owned by Motor Fuel Group (MFG), the largest forecourt operator in the UK with more than 900 sites nationwide. Through the partnership, Pret has initially trialled one shop in the MFG-owned and BP-branded station in Southgate, north London – its first foray into forecourts globally – with a view to opening a second shop by the end of 2022.
Andrew Nutter to close his flagship Rochdale restaurant for good after almost three decades: Celebrity chef Andrew Nutter’s fine dining Rochdale restaurant Nutters will shut its doors next weekend after 28 years. The restaurant, which has been based at the historic Wolstenholme Hall since 2003, will stop trading on 17 October. The venue, based in the village of Norden, is in the process of being sold to the independent Albert's Group, which owns restaurants in Castleford, Worsley, Didsbury and Standish. Nutter’s Gastro pub The Bird at Birtle in nearby Birtle, which he took over in 2014 and relaunched in 2016, will continue to operate as normal, and vouchers for Nutters will be accepted at the venue. Nutter, a former Savoy Hotel chef, blamed the turmoil of lockdown and continuing staffing crisis as being behind his reasons to sell up. “We got approached by an independent restaurateur around about a year ago, and literally we weren’t thinking anything of it at the time”, Nutter told the Manchester Evening News. “But as the industry changed, we decided it was time to carry on with the sale. It’s a mixture of everything really, the industry as a whole, especially now with the staffing crisis, it feels like it’s all come to a head. We’re working with a minimum skeleton staff, and I don’t want people who come to the restaurant to have anything less than the best experience.” A spokesperson for the family-run Albert's Group confirmed it is in the process of buying the restaurant and hopes to take over the site in the coming weeks. In the weeks following the closure there will be a series of “last supper” events, celebrating some of the restaurant's best-loved dishes from the past three decades. Nutter himself then plans to explore the world of private dining, adding: “I’m planning to go into events and providing private dinner parties in people's homes in various locations around the world. It’s not all doom and gloom, we wanted to go out on top.”
BrewDog to open six bars in Italy after partnering with Milan F&B group, first launch set for next year: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has partnered with Milan-based F&B group 4 Food for a six-bar franchise across northern Italy over the next three years. The bars will be based in Milan, Turin and Genova, with the first set to open early next year. The openings are part of BrewDog’s long term plans to expand its worldwide presence through franchises and follows recent bar openings in Wiesbaden, Germany. This will be followed by three more this year in Frankfurt and Berlin, through franchisee Bruton Hospitality, and a new opening in the United States – where it already has five bars, a craft beer hotel and brewery – in New Albany. BrewDog founder James Watt said: “When we first started shipping beer overseas many years ago, Italy was one of the first markets to stock Punk IPA, so we’ve always felt a strong connection with this amazing country and the beer drinkers who live there. Which is why we’re delighted to be working with 4 Food to open six new BrewDog bars, we can’t wait for this project to get under way.” Founded by Barbara Balistreri and Maurizio Raviolo, 4 Food were the first Wagamama franchisees for Italy and have grown several other brands across the UK and Italy. Balistreri and Raviolo said: “We are honoured to represent the BrewDog brand in the north-west regions of Italy and are proud to bring a brand that excels for high quality produce, unique positioning on the market and great respect for the environment.” Last month, BrewDog opened its first 18-room hotel, bar and rooftop garden, Doghouse Manchester, in the heart of Manchester. It also recently announced its first international joint venture, partnering with Asahi to market its beers in Japan, with the aim of increasing sales there sixfold over the next five years.
Brakspear warns of challenges for ‘many months to come’ as it sees full-year turnover drop 45%: Henley-based pub operator Brakspear has warned of challenges for “many months to come” as it reported turnover decreased 45% to £19.4m for the year ending 27 December 2020. Closures of all its 125 pubs during the pandemic meant the company suffered a pre-tax loss of £221,000 for 2020, the first reported loss since J T Davies & Sons bought Brakspear in 2007, and a decline of 103% on its pre-tax profit of £6.38m in 2019. Despite these difficulties, the company managed to acquire the Egypt Mill in Nailsworth, boasting 28 bedrooms as well as a large private waterside garden and two working waterwheels, in March 2020. It also sold the Crown at Nuffield, the Rose & Crown in Henley, the Lamb in Crawley and the Black Boys in Hurley, with sale proceeds available for future acquisitions. Chief executive Tom Davies said: “While 2020 was a very unexpected year and we’re glad it’s behind us, the impact of the pandemic is still being felt. All our pubs closed for the first three-and-a-half months of this year and operated under restrictions for a further three. Sales bounced back when we were allowed to reopen in April, and we were optimistic about the year ahead, but during our peak trading summer months with all restrictions lifted we were challenged with staff shortages and price rises, as well as supply chain and logistical issues. We anticipate facing these challenges for many months to come.” Davies also echoed calls from industry body UKHospitality for a permanently lower VAT rate for hospitality, adding: “Current policy risks halting the UK’s recovery when VAT and business rates are returning to pre-pandemic levels. Wage inflation will inevitably lead to price increases, which will hit customers’ pockets.”
SA Brain puts 99-strong freehold investment portfolio on market for in excess of £87.3m, net yield of 5.75%: Welsh brewer and retailer SA Brain has put the freehold investment of 99 pubs on the market for in excess of £87.3m. The purchase at this level reflects a net initial yield of 5.75% in return. The portfolio provides an annual gross rent roll of £5,420,000 (£5,410,518 net) and has a weighted average unexpired lease term of 24.35 years to expiries, and 14.35 years to tenant break options. Propel revealed in July that the portfolio, consisting of 93 freehold and six long leasehold properties let to Marston’s on 25-year leases, was being put on the market. Real estate advisor Avison Young was instructed by SA Brain to sell the investment interest, which is split between managed and tenanted outlets, with a mix of town and city centre, suburban and rural locations. They are mainly based around Cardiff, Newport and Swansea in the south, with clusters also in west, mid and north Wales. The sale is being handled by Peter Constantine and John Coggins of Avison Young’s leisure team, and Chris Gore, Andrew Gibson and Alex John of its investment team. At the end of last year, SA Brain announced contracts had been exchanged with Marston’s to operate its portfolio of 145 pubs in Wales on a combination of leased and management contract arrangements. Marston’s has been operating 135 freehold pubs on a leasehold basis since February and is operating the remaining ten short-leasehold sites on a management contract basis for a period of two years. SA Brain insists the portfolio has created significant interest, with several off-market offers being received for packages of assets and single-asset sales, a number of which have been moved to heads of terms. It is thought the company will also examine options for the remaining circa 55 pubs not included in the portfolio.
Ben Tish steps down as culinary director of The Stafford London and Norma: Ben Tish has left his role as culinary director at the Norma Restaurant in Fitzrovia and The Stafford London in St James. Tish joined the Stafford in 2018 to oversee the 105-bedroom hotel’s food offering, as well as launch several new independent restaurants, and oversaw the opening of the Sicily-inspired Norma in 2019. Before that, he was chef director and partner at the Salt Yard Group – a group of five modern Spanish/Italian restaurants in central London including Salt Yard (Fitzrovia), Dehesa (Soho), Opera Tavern (Covent Garden), Ember Yard (Soho), and Veneta (St James) – launching four of the five during his 11 years with the group. Having spent his formative years working with Michelin-starred chefs Jason Atherton and Stephen Terry at various London restaurants, Tish also went on to head up his own operations at the Italian restaurant Al Duca in St James, and The Crinan Hotel in the West Highlands. Stuart Procter, chief Operating Officer of The Stafford Collection comments: “I would like to thank Ben for his contribution to over recent years, and we wish him all the best for the future. Giovann Attard, who has been at Norma since its launch in 2019, will continue to lead the kitchen as executive head chef. At The Stafford London, executive chef Jozef Rogulski will continue to work alongside Lisa Goodwin-Allen to oversee the food offering at our flagship hotel, including The Game Bird restaurant and The American Bar.”