Story of the Day:
UKHospitality requests urgent Treasury meeting, with Rishi Sunak set to delay business rates reform: UKHospitality is requesting an urgent meeting with the Treasury following reports the government’s plans for a major overhaul of business rates have been “thrown into the long grass” and only smaller scale tweaks will be unveiled by chancellor Rishi Sunak later this month. Government sources said Sunak is committed to reforming the system in England but has not had enough time to consider the impact of a significant shake-up due to the pandemic, reports The Telegraph. The Treasury is expected to publish its review into business rates at the Budget on Wednesday, 27 October, after it was delayed beyond the earlier Budget in March this year. Minor changes to the system are expected to be announced, but “wholesale reform” has been shelved until a later date so ministers and officials can undertake further work. It is thought there will not be any change announced to the valuations of properties, which is technically complex and would have significant political consequences. Moves to slash business rates on green investments are also unlikely, it is understood. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls told Propel: “Hospitality is the main victim of the current business rates system, paying disproportionately higher to the tune of £2.7bn – which is 10% of the rates bill for an industry that generates around 3% of GDP. Fundamental reform is crucial to addressing the inequities that are currently cemented in, to better reflect modern industry and the rise of digital to the taxation detriment of bricks and mortar businesses. Prior to March 2020, there was already a significant brake on growth for hospitality and tourism. This has been hugely compounded by the dire impacts of the pandemic. History shows us that our sector can be at the forefront of driving national economic recovery – meaning growth, jobs, investment and a massive contribution to the public purse – so it’s vital government acts to ease the huge rates bill burden for us. We remain ready to engage and work constructively with the government to get this matter right. A fair and workable system is crucial to enable us to invest in our businesses, create jobs and help levelling up. It requires fundamental reform and in the absence of this the government must stand beside the industry and provide meaningful relief, preventing a cliff edge for business, a stalled recovery for the industry, and an inevitable contraction in growth with the associated fallout of jobs lost.”
Next edition of Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book sent to Premium subscribers today:
The latest edition of the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which is produced in association with Mapal Group, will be published today (Friday, 15 October) at midday. The latest Blue Book sees a further 21 companies added, taking the number of UK pub, restaurant, cafe and hotel operators featured to 427, with a total turnover of £30bn. The Blue Book, which is updated every month – on the second Friday of the month – has begun to reflect the economic damage of the pandemic with 208 companies reporting a profit and 219 reporting losses. The Blue Book 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. In this week’s Premium Opinion, which will be sent to subscribers on Friday at 6pm, Mark Wingett looks at the return to the late-night sector of Luminar founder Steve Thomas, and at reports that Burger King UK could be the next sector candidate for an initial public offering. Meanwhile, sector analyst Simon Stenning focuses on the changing nature of hospitality on the high street. 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
Propel Friday Wrap video series continues with Loungers chief executive Nick Collins: Propel continues its Friday Wrap video series on Friday (15 October) at 3pm. The series, which is sponsored by innovative staffing solution provider Stint, sees Mark Stretton, former sector journalist and now head of sector PR firm Fleet Street Communications, and Propel insights editor Mark Wingett discussing this week’s key issues facing the UK’s hospitality sector, with a leading sector operator or expert. This week they are joined by Nick Collins, chief executive of Loungers, to discuss how the group is navigating the current sector challenges; its strong return to the expansion trail, and a look at its latest trading update.
The pressures and pleasures of being a people leader to feature in 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 final episode, Rachael Bolton, director of people and culture for Nobu Hotel Portman Square, gives an inside look at the pressures and pleasures of being a people leader in luxury hospitality. She also explores the challenges of “luxury” hospitality and delivering impeccable service to demanding customers round the clock, and supporting, inspiring and retaining employees. The video will be sent at 9am on Friday (15 October).
Covid recovery campaign for London's battered tourism sector pulls in £70m, night tube to resume next month: London mayor Sadiq Khan’s pandemic recovery campaign for the capital’s battered tourism sector has pulled £70m into the industry, according to London & Partners chief executive Allen Simpson. The campaign, which launched in May, was to bring a well needed boost to London’s tourism sector after emergency covid-19 restrictions decimated the industry. Speaking at City Hall, Simpson said: “The Let’s Do London campaign has, I think, been very necessary and very effective. It’s had a roughly £70m impact on the tourism sector in terms of increased spend. The impact on protecting jobs, I think, has been very strong. We will continue to see that effect over the autumn and the winter seasons.” The campaign drew about 280,000 visitors to the capital over the summer, Simpson added. Khan told City AM: “Getting London’s economy back on its feet has been one of my top priorities since being re-elected and I am delighted my Let’s Do London campaign – the biggest domestic tourism campaign the capital has ever seen – has had such a positive impact for the city. Too many businesses and jobs have been lost due to the pandemic, that’s why I will continue to do everything I can to support London’s recovery, because when London succeeds, the whole country succeeds.” Meanwhile, the night tube is to reopen on two London Underground lines. Services between 1am and 5.30am will begin on the Central and Victoria lines from Saturday, 27 November. Khan said the Central and Victoria lines were selected “because they're the busiest” and “people have more confidence using the busiest lines”. Other lines will reopen once enough staff are available, he added. The night tube, which first began in August 2016 and ran on selected lines on Fridays and Saturdays, was halted when lockdown began last year.
Brits filling more sector jobs than ever before as number of EU workers drops further: British workers are filling greater numbers of jobs in pubs, restaurants and hotels than ever before, according to new data from software provider Fourth. This trend has been consistent over the last six months, where the number of British workers in the sector has increased markedly, while the proportion of workers from the EU has decreased, accelerated by disruption caused by the pandemic, changes to immigration policy and travel restrictions. The data, aggregated from the analysis of more than 700 companies across the restaurant, pub, bar and hotel sectors, revealed EU workers currently make up 32% of the hospitality workforce, compared with 42% in October 2019. British workers currently make up 53% of the workforce, compared with 46% in October 2019. Workers from non-EU countries currently make up 15% of the workforce, compared with 11% in October 2019. The total sector headcount is tracking in line with this time last year, but is still down 18% compared with September 2019. The size of the workforce grew marginally by 0.3% in September compared with August as operators upped their recruitment efforts. According to the data, there has been no furlough “cliff edge” when it comes to job losses; there was only a 10% increase in people leaving the sector at the end of September compared with the end of August. The restaurant sector has experienced the biggest shift, with British workers currently making up 46% of the total workforce, compared with 40% six months ago. The proportion of EU restaurant workers has dropped from 47% in April to 39% now. This is closely followed by the pub sector, where British workers currently make up 73% of the workforce, increasing from 68% in April. This has been offset by a decline in workers from the EU, as they represent just 20% of the workforce now, compared with 28% in April. The hotel sector has experienced the smallest shift over the six-month period. The proportion of British hotel workers has still grown from 57% in April to 60% currently; the number of EU workers has dropped from 28% to 24%.
Glynn Davis – bigger bills are a fair price to pay for sustainability: Leading retail trends commentator Glynn Davis has argued bigger bills are a fair price to pay for sustainability. Some chefs have come under criticism for their high-end prices with Tom Kerridge charging £87 for steak and chips at his Hand & Flowers pub in Marlow, and Gordon Ramsay asking customers for £32 for the fish and chips dish on his menu at The River Restaurant in The Savoy Hotel. But Davis, writing in the latest Friday Opinion column, argued properly sourced food is worth paying more for. “The consensus is that these are indeed large numbers, but I’d argue they are not the rip-off prices that many people have suggested,” he said. “There is no doubt these two chefs will be sourcing top-notch ethically reared/produced/farmed ingredients and, I certainly expect, paying their employees a full and proper wage. On top of this, we all know the pricing of a dish of food considers way more than simply the food on the plate. Would anybody in their right mind believe fish and chips at their local cafe is the same experience as a night out at The Savoy, or within the cosy environs of Tom Kerridge’s two-Michelin-star dining room in Marlow?” But Davis said some operators might be pushing it too far and highlighted the “extravagant pricing” at Nusret “Salt Bae” Gökçe's Knightsbridge venue, where gold wrapped burgers will set customers back £100, and Tomahawk steaks £800. “Sadly, these prices seem calculated purely to extract the maximum profit from customers,” Davis added. “It’s certainly one way to earn a chunky profit, but I’m not so sure about the long-term sustainability of the project.” Davis will share more of his thoughts in this week’s Friday Opinion, which will be published on Friday (15 October) at 11am.
C&C Group-owned businesses to push through price increases next month: Drinks wholesalers Matthew Clark and Bibendum, which are both owned by C&C Group, are set to push through significant price increases from next month. Letters sent this week to trade customers show both wholesalers plan to raise their prices, and they warn “any future government-imposed changes to excise duty, tax, or tariffs, will be passed on in full”. A letter from Kenny Gray, GB on-trade director at Matthew Clark, seen by Propel, states: “As our industry recovers from the impact of the covid-19 pandemic, the resulting, well documented pressure on UK and global supply chains has continued to add increased cost and complexity in the manufacturing and distribution of our products. This has been further compounded by increased labour costs and fuel price inflation. While we continue to work closely with our industry partners to endeavour to mitigate the immediate and future impact of these pressures, in order to maintain the service we provide our customers, we will apply a price increase of 3.5% to our products, effective Monday, 1 November. Please note any future government-imposed changes to excise duty, tax, or tariffs, will be passed on in full.” Between them, Matthew Clark and Bibendum have circa 28,000 customers across hospitality, retail and foodservice.
Almost two-thirds want compulsory jab proof requirement to enter bars and restaurants: Almost two-thirds of voters would support the introduction of rules demanding covid passports to enter pubs and restaurants in England, a poll has revealed. More than six in ten (62%) of those quizzed for MailOnline backed the country following the lead of Scotland and Wales in bringing in laws demanding proof of a jab. Both countries have brought in laws requiring a vaccine certificate in order to enter nightclubs and other mass-attendance venues. However, despite majority support in the poll by Redfield and Wilton Strategies, not many people believe pubs and restaurants would follow the rules. Little more than a third (35%) thought they would be enforced by venues, with 37% saying it was unlikely. Meanwhile a second poll found most working-age Britons have already cut back on spending to make ends meet amid fears over soaring prices. Research for MailOnline showed growing alarm among the public at cost-of-living pressures pushing up bills for energy and other essentials. Some 60% of those aged 18 to 64 said they have trimmed expenditure over the past month in response to the situation, and 57% said they plan to do so over the next three months.
Whitbread and Budweiser Brewing Group UK & Ireland scoop honours at Footprint Drinks Sustainability Awards: Whitbread and Budweiser Brewing Group UK & Ireland were among the winners at the Footprint Drinks Sustainability Awards, in association with Matthew Clark. Whitbread and Waterscan picked up the sustainable use of water accolade while Budweiser Brewing Group UK & Ireland came top in the economic sustainability award for its “Pub Life” campaign. The energy efficient award went to Molson Coors with Coca-Cola Europacific Partners taking home the packaging innovation award. The social impact award went to Nemi Teas while Warners Distillery scooped two prizes – the stakeholder engagement and waste prevention and management awards. The sustainable supplier award was won by Owlet at Loddington while Good Living Brewery was victorious in the sustainable use of raw materials category. Meanwhile, Sipsmith’s Ellie Stirk won the special achievement award. The Footprint Drinks Sustainability Awards is the barometer for sustainability and responsible business practice for the drinks industry and represents the annual celebration of businesses and individuals making a difference to sustainability in the on-trade drinks sector and its supply chain.
Marugame Udon secures UK flagship site near Oxford Circus: International udon noodles and tempura restaurant brand Marugame Udon, which launched in the UK earlier this summer, has secured a flagship site near London’s Oxford Circus, Propel has learned. Marugame Udon, which is led in the UK by Keith Bird, has secured the former Frankie & Benny’s site in Argyll Street. Marugame Udon, which has more than 850 restaurants in Japan and a further 250 across Asia, the US and Russia, opened its debut site in the UK, on the former Wahaca site in Middlesex Street in Spitalfields, earlier this summer. It will open a second UK site, at The O2 in Greenwich, later this month, and has further openings lined up in Canary Wharf (ex-Byron site) and St Christopher’s Place. It is working with Marc Rogers, of MKR Property, on its expansion plans. Propel also understands Marugame Udon wants to build an estate of company-owned sites in the capital before exploring franchise opportunities for the concept across the UK. Capdesia Group, the backer of Wasabi, and Toridoll Holdings Corporation, the backer of Shoryu Ramen and Wok to Walk, and the owner of the Marugame brand, announced last summer they had formed a new joint venture to launch Marugame Udon in London.
Barworks to open new King’s Cross site – Gas Station: London bar and pub operator Barworks is to open a new restaurant and bar in King’s Cross, called Gas Station, Propel has learned. The new site from the Marc Francis-Baum-led group, which operates 19 pubs/bars in the capital, plus Mare Street Market, will be located in Goods Way, on the canal side, just off Granary Square/Coal Drop Yard. It will comprise three bars over two floors and a large, all-seasons garden planted in collaboration with Kew Gardens. Gas Station will centre its food menu around a large fresh seafood section, alongside modern seasonal dishes.
EG Group begins rollout of Asda on the Move concept, sites to include Leon concessions: Forecourt and roadside operator EG Group has begun the rollout of its Asda on the Move concept with a site near Beaconsfield. The 2,500 square foot store in Holtspur features a Greggs, Starbucks on the go and Krispy Kreme, with a Leon set to open soon. Last month, Asda announced plans to expand in the convenience market by partnering with EG Group to launch 28 new Asda on the Move stores this year, up to 200 sites next year and the ambition to roll out further stores in 2023. The launch follows the successful trial of five Asda on the Move stores, which have opened on EG Group forecourt sites since last October. The Asda on the Move rollout will continue with sites opening in Knowsley, Crewe and Skelmersdale over the next few weeks. Asda will supply the products on a wholesale agreement to EG Group, which will own and operate each site. Each site will be up to 3,000 square foot in size and stock up to 2,500 products, including a selection of Asda’s premium “Extra Special” range and a more extensive selection of fresh produce and chilled lines than is traditionally found on fuel forecourts. They will also include foodservice offerings from EG Group and their partner brands such as Greggs, Leon and Subway.
Just Eat to create more than 500 jobs in Nottingham as part of new worker model: Just Eat has revealed plans to create more than 500 jobs in Nottingham as part of its expansion of the new UK worker model for couriers. Nottingham is the sixth city in the UK in which Just Eat is offering the new model, following its launch in London, Birmingham, Brighton, Cambridge and Liverpool. The move has already created more than 6,000 jobs. All couriers contracted through the model are entitled to hourly pay, minimum/living wage, pension contributions and certain statutory benefits including holiday pay and sick pay. All workers benefit from bespoke training to deliver the best food delivery experience to both customers and restaurants. To help protect couriers, they are covered by the relevant insurance. Alongside this, couriers are provided with e-bikes for launch. Just Eat UK managing director Andrew Kenny said: “We recognise our responsibility to provide couriers with the best possible opportunities and we’re delighted that more than 6,000 jobs have already been created as part of this model. We’ve reached this milestone significantly ahead of schedule and, we’re excited to now be rolling this out to Nottingham, creating more than 500 roles over the next year. We believe giving couriers access to the benefits and security associated with a model like this is the right thing to do and we’re hugely ambitious to grow this further out across the UK.” Couriers in Nottingham will have the option to work remotely or operate from a central hub, located in New Basford, a space that they can also use to take breaks. Just Eat Takeaway.com operates the model across 13 markets.
Six by Nico to open in Dublin: Scottish-Italian chef Nico Simeone is to open a site in Dublin under his Six by Nico concept. Six by Nico Dublin’s new 3,000 square foot site replaces Le Pain Quotidien at 1 Molesworth Street. The site, which will be Six by Nico’s ninth when it opens next month, will house a 56-cover restaurant including a dedicated bar and an outdoor dining area. The business – which has sites in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Manchester, Liverpool, Belfast and London Fitzrovia – recently opened a flagship site in Canary Wharf. Simeone said: “We are very proud to bring our unforgettable culinary experience to Dublin. Customers have dined at our restaurants from Edinburgh to London to try each of our menus since our first Six by Nico opened in Glasgow in 2017. Dublin is a city known for its vibrant food and drink scene, and we are looking forward to welcoming customers very soon.” The concept’s ever evolving six-course set menu, will be priced at €45 per person to match the brands London counterparts. Wine pairings alongside the tasting menu will be priced at €39 per person.
Roasting Plant Coffee secures fourth UK site: US coffee shop concept Roasting Plant Coffee has secured its fourth UK site, in London’s Holborn. The new site will open in the LabTech building opposite the Rosewood Hotel in High Holborn. Last month, the business opened a site in the food hall at the Oxford Street-based department store Selfridges. In August, Propel revealed Roasting Plant Coffee had secured £1m of growth capital, including investment from former Marks & Spencer chairman Lord Stuart Rose, to aid its further expansion. The company is also in advanced talks on a site in the West End. The business made its UK debut in London, in Borough High Street under the stewardship of chief executive Jamie Robertson in January 2019. It launched a second site in London last year in The Strand. Raven Rose acted on the High Holborn deal.
London-based cheese and wine shop Provisions to double up with Hackney launch: London-based cheese and wine shop Provisions is to double up. Founder Hugo Meyer Esquerré is adding to its existing site in Islington with an opening in Hackney in February. The new 650 square foot site will “retain many elements of our original concept while also showcasing new products that we have been sourcing in recent years”. The shop in Hackney Road will, as with the original, focus on organic wine and farmhouse cheese. But there will be a different selection here to Islington. For wine there will be a focus on the regions of the Languedoc, Roussillon and Southern Rhone and the cheese will be from different producers. A monthly themed specialty cheese subscription service will be introduced. In addition there will be a weekly changing selection of sandwiches made using the ingredients in the shop alongside spices, coffee, and more deli goods. The store will play host to a programme of chef dinners, wine tastings and events, which will take place downstairs, which will also be used for Provisions’ growing wholesale preparation. Esquerré said: “Hackney is the place I feel most connected to in London, having lived here since 2009. There is a real sense of community here, and the fact there are many great restaurants, outdoor markets and specialty food stores has led the residents to be more curious and enthusiastic about high quality products and the story associated with them. We want to bring a special retail experience to Hackney, by sharing our knowledge and expertise and showing our customers how best to use our produce in the kitchen.” Provisions opened its debut site in Holloway Road in 2015.
Adam Handling launches his sustainable casual restaurant and bar concept in Cornwall: Chef Adam Handling’s zero-waste casual restaurant and bar concept Ugly Butterfly has opened at Carbis Bay in St Ives. Handling initially trialled the concept, which sees trims and offcuts from ingredients used in the restaurant to create drinks and bar snacks, in London in November 2019, but the restaurant closed during the pandemic and never reopened. At the new Ugly Butterfly, the leftovers will be preserved, fermented and displayed in kiln jars before being made into cocktails, resulting in ingredients like spent coffee syrup, beef fat whisky and strawberry vinegar. Other sustainable methods include using gorse flowers used to replace the coconut in a pina colada and foraging for the skins of lemons and limes from other local bars to create citrus flavour syrups. Handling’s Adam Handling Restaurant Group also owns the Frog restaurant and Eve’s Bar in Covent Garden, and The Loch & The Tyne pub and restaurant in Old Windsor. However, its consultancy contract at the Cadogan Hotel in Chelsea – including the Adam Handling Chelsea restaurant, which opened in March 2019 – came to an end this month, and this week saw the final week of operation for the restaurant.
Domino’s seeks 8,000 drivers in run-up to Christmas: Domino’s Pizza has said it intends to hire more than 8,000 drivers in the UK and Ireland in the run-up to Christmas. The company has already recruited thousands of workers in the past year or so to keep up with demand. Domino’s said it offered good long-term prospects, as more than 90% of store managers had started in the kitchen or as delivery drivers. It also stressed most of the jobs on offer were permanent and not just for Christmas. In June, Domino’s said it was hiring 5,000 cooks and delivery drivers, as staff who joined during the pandemic headed back to former roles after covid restrictions eased. Domino's operations director Nicola Frampton said 2021 had been a busy year for the firm so far, but the busiest period was “just around the corner”. She added: “Our delivery drivers are vital to the service we provide our customers and the success of our business.”
Cardiff site let to Revolution Bars Group sold for £3.45m: Real estate investment trust AEW UK has acquired the freehold investment of the Revolution bar in Cardiff, for £3.45m, Propel has learned. The freehold investment of the site in Castle Street comprises a three-storey property arranged over basement, ground and two upper levels, totalling circa 23,900 square foot. The ground, basement and first floors trade as Revolution, while the second floor comprises four separate office suites. Coffer Corporate Leisure advised AEW UK on the acquisition. Mark Sheehan, managing director at Coffer Corporate Leisure, said “This is yet another example of appetite for hospitality investments with strong underlying fundamentals. The property is well located in a popular late-night city and Revolution is an excellent operator”. Revolution recently announced they were experiencing strong demand with same site sales growth of circa 17% for the period July to October 2021 compared with the same period in 2019 before the pandemic. Sheehan said: “Consumers are embracing the bar sector once again since the full easement of covid-19 restrictions, and we believe Revolution are well placed to continue this encouraging performance in the face of this growing demand. AEW identified this opportunity as very defensive and exactly the type of investment they target.” TT&G acted on behalf of the vendor.
PureGym close to shelving £1.5bn London float: PureGym, Britain's biggest health and fitness club operator, is close to abandoning a £1.5bn stock market listing amid market volatility. The company, which is majority-owned by the private equity firm Leonard Green & Partners, could decide as soon as this week to shelve its proposed initial public offering (IPO), reports Sky News. PureGym has bounced back after the shock of the pandemic when forced closures cost it losses of £500,000 a day. The company has not formally announced an IPO but said in August it was considering one among options to raise capital. The business appointed Morgan Stanley and Barclays to spearhead the listing, with Berenberg, Jefferies and Royal Bank of Canada in supporting roles. City sources said an IPO had emerged as the favoured option for the company, which trades from more than 500 sites across Europe, including more than 285 in the UK. It was unclear whether PureGym would examine other capital-raising options if it does pull its listing, or when an IPO might be revived. The proceeds were to be used for accelerating new gym openings and paying down its large debt-pile. The company is chaired by Tony Ball, the former BSkyB boss, and run by chief executive Humphrey Cobbold. “The pandemic highlighted what critical community assets gyms are and we were delighted to welcome our members back when we reopened,” Cobbold said in August. He added it was “natural” for the company to be looking to raise new funding. A PureGym spokesman declined to comment.
Freehold of Wendy’s site in Reading town centre goes on market for offers in excess of £2m: Agent Allsop is marketing the freehold of 1 Station Road in Reading, currently let to Wendy’s Restaurants, for offers in excess of £2m. The sale price represents a net yield of 5.53%. Included in the sale is the ground floor and basement of the property, measuring approximately 2,775 square feet, but not the upper floors. It is currently let to Wendy’s until October 2040, with a tenant’s break in 2035, at £117,500 per annum, and there will be five-yearly rent reviews subject to retail price index linked-uplifts. The Reading site was the first Wendy’s to open in the UK since the burger chain quit these shores in 1999, when it opened in May. Wendy’s aims to open new sites in Stratford, Oxford, Croydon and Romford as well by the end of the year, as part of plans to open about 400 sites across the country over the next five years. These include dark kitchens, which will prepare food purely for delivery and will be run in partnership with franchise partner Reef. The first of these have already opened at Regis Road in Kentish Town and Blackwall in London’s Docklands.