Story of the Day:
Food and drink businesses seeing ‘terrifying’ price rises with inflation running at almost 20% for hospitality firms: Food and drink companies are seeing “terrifying” price rises, according to industry bosses, who have warned about a knock-on effect for consumers. Food and Drink Federation chief executive Ian Wright told MPs inflation is running between 14% and 18% for hospitality firms. The price rises for food firms' ingredients would lead to consumer price rises, he said and described the situation as concerning. The UK's rate of inflation was 3.2% in August and is expected to rise further. Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey recently warned it “will have to act”, suggesting UK interest rates may soon rise from the historic low of 0.1%. Wright told MPs on the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy select committee: “Inflation is a bigger scourge than anything else because it discriminates against the poor.” The Office for National Statistics will publish the latest inflation figures for September on Wednesday (20 October). It is expected to rise further above the Bank of England's target of 2% for longer than previously thought. Meanwhile, Des Gunewardena, chief executive of restaurant operator D&D London, told the BBC he expects further inflation increases in January. He said staff shortages are his “number one issue” and has increased salaries by 10%. The business has 1,700 employees across the UK and is currently 150 staff short, which he said could lead to a “nightmare situation” in the busier December period. Table covers have been reduced from 400 on a Friday night at his Quaglino's restaurant to between 300 and 350 due to staff shortages. However, he said the restaurants have seen increased customer spending, so he is stocking up on specific champagne brands ahead of time, to pre-empt possible supply problems. He said: “I think we'll have a very strong Christmas so there's no need to panic yet, but I expect further inflation in January when there won't be the same spending to offset the extra costs.”
Variety of Taiwanese concepts set to join updated Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies:
A variety of Taiwanese concepts are among the 63 new multi-site companies being added to the next edition of the Propel Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies, which will be released on Friday, 29 October, at midday. The updated Propel Multi-Site Database
, which is produced in association with Virgate, features Ji The Chicken Shop
, which started in London’s Chinatown in 2018 and now has eight sites, with the majority run under franchise; and Din Tai Fung
, which operates more than 160 restaurants worldwide, and is opening a second UK site, in Selfridges, London. Also added this month is Mr Bao
– which currently has three sites under brands Mr Bao, Daddy Bao and Master Bao – and is set to open its latest venture, Amazing Grace, at St Thomas’ Church in London Bridge. Premium subscribers will also receive a 6,000-word report on the new additions to the database. The comprehensive database is updated monthly and 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. The database features more than 2,000 companies. Alongside this, Premium subscribers will also receive the fourth edition of the New Openings Database
, which Is produced in association with StarStock, on Wednesday, 3 November, at midday. It focuses on newly announced openings and upcoming launches in the sector and is updated every month. The fourth edition will now include a 10,000-word report on the new additions to the database. Premium subscribers also receive access to another database – the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book
, which is produced in association with Mapal Group. The Blue Book, which is also updated monthly, 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 plus 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 email@example.com
Sector calls on government to change taxation system to help industry play its part in reducing carbon emissions: Sector bosses have called on the government to change the taxation system to help the hospitality industry play its part in meeting its carbon emissions targets. Speaking at the launch by the Zero Carbon Forum of the first roadmap designed to provide hospitality operators with guidance on the steps it can take to decarbonise their businesses and set net zero strategies, Pizza Hut Restaurants chief executive Jens Hofma said it would be “an illusion to think the industry is going to just absorb any oncost of a greener approach”. He said: “Hospitality is not a high margin sector. We are also one of the most heavily taxed sectors in the UK economy, we have quite a squeezed P&L. In the end we either have to find more cost-effective solutions, or at least partly pass it on to the consumer, or, and I think this is where the government has an important role to play, it needs to be shouldered by the government through a much fairer taxation system than the one we are currently enjoying.” The Zero Carbon Forum is a non-competitive industry collaboration comprising some of the biggest brands in hospitality. Revolution Bars Group chief executive Rob Pitcher said it would be up to the leaders on the forum to shoulder some of the cost. He added: “If we share openly that enables the smaller and medium-sized enterprises to benefit from the knowledge that is coming out of this forum. We want to share best practice.” UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “We need to be on the front foot and make sure we have the best ammunition to go into a discussion with government about what we are doing ourselves to put our own house in order, to be promoting some of the objectives the government wants us to do.” Business leaders from the hospitality sector have worked together to quantify the carbon impact across the hospitality industry and shared all the initiatives they had taken to reduce emissions to help define the pathway to net zero. The roadmap outlines current trends, sector emissions hotspots, decarbonisation opportunities and practical steps for setting net zero goals. The action it calls for is consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C and is feasible for a wide range of businesses across the sector. The ambition is to reach a 90% reduction in operational emissions of 57%-78% (scope 1 and 2) and reductions in supply chain (scope 3) emissions by 2040. Nicholls added: “This a significant moment and signals the start of the hospitality sector becoming an industry leader in reducing carbon emissions. It’s vital all hospitality businesses are represented and engaged with this issue.”
McDonald’s levels up pay for its US female and ethnic minority workers: McDonald’s claims to have achieved equal pay for its female employees and those from “historically underrepresented” groups in the US. Non-white workers are now paid the same as their white counterparts for equal work, while women are paid equally to men in its restaurants – with their corporate workforce on track to achieve the same target by next year – according to the company. McDonald’s said the move has impacted 180,000 employees, but only a relatively small number of people have received raises due to progress already made on the pay equality gap. Following criticism of its treatment of women and black employees, McDonald’s has been working for a decade to achieve pay equity among its restaurant and corporate workforce. This includes linking in executive bonuses to specified diversity goals and increasing spending with diverse-owned suppliers. “This is an accomplishment to be proud of, but with new employees starting and pay changes being made regularly, we are committed to continue an annual analysis followed by action, to help maintain equal pay for equal work in the US market,” said McDonald’s chief people officer Heidi Capozzi. “We recognise to realise our aspiration, we must keep actively attacking the systemic biases that negatively impact women and people with marginalised identities.”
Nightclubs in Ireland to reopen on Friday but with restrictions: Nightclubs in Ireland will reopen for the first time since March last year but with strict measures in place, including covid passes and the wearing of face masks. The government has scrapped plans to lift all remaining covid-19 restrictions this Friday (22 October) amid concerns over rising case numbers. Social distancing, covid certificates and table service will continue in restaurants and bars. The restrictions are expected to remain in place until February following advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet). People going to nightclubs will have to wear face masks except when eating, drinking and dancing, taoiseach Micheal Martin said. He added guidance for nightclubs would be “ironed out and worked out” in considerable detail in the next few days. “I think the key overall point that Nphet is making and we agree with, is protective measures have to involve masks, physical distancing, ventilation and mitigation measures,” Martin said. He admitted there would be anomalies in how different sectors operate, saying there would be some differences between nightclubs and bars. Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy was critical of the government’s plan to reopen nightlife. She added: “We’re told, for example, you can dance at nightclubs but you can’t go to the bar for a drink, it’s very confusing. You could probably dance to the bar.”
Job of the day: COREcruitment is on the lookout for a managing director to join a contract catering and events business. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “This business is recruiting a managing director who can shape the strategic direction and development of existing client accounts across all its venues that will be reopening soon. Leading by example, they will mentor and guide the existing team to troubleshoot and develop accounts. They will be present in day-to-day operations while working with the founders on future planning. They will lead client meetings and chair team development meetings, which will be instrumental to driving business forward.” Anyone interested can email Stuart@corecruitment.com
Licensing solicitor John Gaunt & Partners has produced a useful monthly summary of licensing news, including a reminder about an extra hour along with various articles relating to covid. This can be accessed here
Hall & Woodhouse reports managed pubs outside London trading strongly since reopening, refinances banking facilities: Dorset-based brewer and retailer Hall & Woodhouse has reported its managed pubs outside London have traded strongly since reopening “albeit hampered in some locations by seasonal team shortages and supply issues”. The company has refinanced all its banking facilities, with Barclays providing a £45m facility with a tenor of three years. Hall & Woodhouse executive chairman Anthony Woodhouse said the company was “not only surviving the pandemic, but is well placed to recover quickly”. He said this was due to the company being built over many generations on a freehold basis with limited borrowings; the work of the team getting “into battle formation” and then opening its pubs safely a number of times; and the “family culture” that has supported the team, its business partners and communities “through the dark days”. He added: “We are very grateful for the support our industry has received from government. It is worth noting, however, that even after netting off monies received, Hall & Woodhouse was still a significant net contributor to HM Revenue & Customs. The business partnerships pubs reopened without a single vacancy reflecting the market leading support that Hall & Woodhouse provided during the pandemic.” It comes as Hall & Woodhouse reported it limited its operating cash loss after interest and tax to £4.5m for the year ended 30 January 2021. In a year dominated by the pandemic and the closure of pubs for many months, turnover fell 38.7% to £71.5m. Over the past 18 months, Hall & Woodhouse has secured or agreed terms on three managed and seven business partner freehold sites across its trading area. These have been funded in part by the disposal of a number of smaller business partnership sites that did not fit its long-term strategy. Managing director Matt Kearsey said: “Throughout our history, we have managed the business prudently so we can ride out challenging times, and also take advantage of the market opportunities that inevitably arise from disruption. The site purchases we are making are high quality and rarely come on to the market.” Hall & Woodhouse operates about 170 pubs across the south of England.
Oakman plans 11 new openings by end of 2023, sales up 36%: The Oakman Group, the Dermot King-led pub-restaurant operator, has said it hopes to have opened 11 new sites by the end of 2023, as it reported sales growth of 36% since July versus the same period in 2019. King said: “Our strategy of investing in destination sites and large covered spaces and an indigenous supply chain has certainly helped to produce impressive performances and attract new investment. This is an exciting time for Oakman. We have started work on our site in Buckingham which will open next spring and a further ten sites in our pipeline could all be trading by the end of 2023. These will be part-funded by an innovative scheme that will allow customers to support us while earning tax-free income from a business-backed ISA.” Propel revealed last month Oakman was launching an innovative finance ISA offer aimed at its existing investors, allowing them to earn tax free interest while backing the group’s freehold expansion plans. The company invests an average of about £4m per freehold investment and is looking to add four to five freehold sites a year to its estate. It will look to raise £12m to £15m a year through the innovative finance ISA offer, which will be offered on a site-by-site basis. This week the business reopened The Rose Inn in Wokingham, its 36th site in total. The group, which acquired the empty site in 2019, reopened the 19th century venue following a “painstaking” £2.1m restoration and redesign. It became the group’s eighth since March 2020. King said: “We are very proud of what we’ve created in Wokingham’s town centre and encouraged by the feedback we’ve received so far.” The new pub and restaurant can accommodate up to 185 guests across a range of settings. The ground floor can cater for 120, while its vaulted first floor has been transformed into a new lounge named The Oakroom linking the Oakman Group’s name and the town’s old name Oakingham. This will also be available for private events.
Oakman Group features in Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which is updated monthly for Premium subscribers. Oakman Group has turned over an average of £19.3m in the past five years. The Blue Book, which is produced in association with Mapal Group, provides a five-year overview of turnover and profit, ranks 427 companies according to turnover, pre-tax profit and profit conversion. It also provides details of directors’ earnings and highest paid directors. 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. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up.
Center Parcs reports bookings remain ‘strong’, secured £189.9m of support from parent company since start of pandemic: Center Parcs, which offers 4,300 units of accommodation across five sites in the UK, has said bookings remain “strong” for the remainder of its current financial year, which ends in April 2022. The company has secured £189.9m from its parent company Brookfield to strengthen its balance sheet since the start of the pandemic with a further £40m available, if required. Brookfield has also indicated additional funding could be made available should the need arise and Center Parcs has a £90m committed liquidity facility that remains undrawn. Center Parcs provided the update as it reported turnover was down to £122.2m for the year ending 22 April 2021, compared with £443.7m the year before as a result of sites being closed for extensive periods due to lockdown. Adjusted Ebitda was a loss of £11.9m, compared with a profit of £200m the year before. Pre-tax losses after adjusted items were £157.1m, compared with a profit of £43m the year before. The occupancy rate for the period was 22.4% against 88% the previous year. During the period, the group incurred exceptional/non-underlying administrative costs of £2.2m. In July, Center Parcs revealed plans for a £400m holiday park in West Sussex. The company has secured an option agreement to acquire privately owned woodland at Oldhouse Warren in Worth, near Crawley.
Cirrus Inns extends loan facilities: Cirrus Inns, which owns 19 freehold pubs and five long leaseholds, has extended its £8.5m loan facility with Metro Bank until April next year to help support its recovery from the pandemic. The company also secured shareholder loans of £4.6m last year and £1.6m of that remains available to the business should the need arise. Since reopening for outdoor trading in April this year, the company said early indications are trade has “beaten our expectations and we are confident our strategic review has significantly strengthened our operating model to deliver an improved performance going forward”. The changes include reducing trading days in certain pubs, restructuring the cost base at the pubs and head office and consolidating its supplier base to improve food and beverage margins. The group has also invested in gardens and created additional covers to maximise trade in pubs with outdoor space. Cirrus Inns provided the update as it reported turnover fell 32% to £16.0m for the year ending 30 June 2020, compared with £23.8m the previous year. The company said this was a result of the significant impact on the final quarter when all its pubs were shut, with the similar period the previous year contributing almost 30% of annual turnover. The loss of trade was partially offset by the government support package, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (£1.7m), cash grants (£145,000) and the business rates holiday. Pre-tax losses increased to £5.8m from £4.3m the previous year.
Darwin & Wallace to open Little Sister site in Battersea Rise: Darwin & Wallace, the London-based, Imbiba-backed, neighbourhood bar group, is to open a new site next month. Propel has learned the Mel Marriott-led business will open an all-day cafe and bar, Little Sister, on the former Cote site in Battersea Rise. Darwin & Wallace said the new site, which will be its ninth, is neatly positioned between sister site No 32 The Old Town, Clapham Common, the “bustling hub” of Northcote Road and its No 29 Power Station West site, adjacent to Battersea Power Station. Marriott said the inspiration for Little Sister was the desire for “a slightly smaller iteration, a lively local haunt, individually designed and of its area”. She said the smaller format might open up more opportunities in other London “villages” or suburban towns. The company said: “Little Sister will offer the same hand-picked style, more open plan than private rooms. The same all-day menu concept, more virtuous (or indulgent) burger – than big plates. The same modern local, more cafe and bar. Coffee and juice that stretch to lunch, and linger to sundowners. Great ingredients turned into scratch-cooked food and all-day drinks; delicious things in buns, bowls and bottles. As much – or as little – attention as you need, in quiet corners or communal tables.” Marriott said: “After a tumultuous and turbulent 18 months we are really excited and it feels very positive to have the opportunity to bring to life what we hope will become another brilliant local haunt.” Paul Tallentyre, of Davis Coffer Lyons, acted for Darwin & Wallace on the Battersea Rise deal.
Sourced Market to open third transport hub site: Sourced Market, the hybrid deli and dining brand, is to open its third site in a transport hub, and second roadside services unit, Propel has learned. Sourced Market is set to open a Sourced Market & Kitchen at the Cobham services near junction 10 on the M25, before the end of the year. Managing director Colin Hughes said: “Opening Sourced Market & Kitchen at Cobham Services is another exciting step forward for us as part of our growing travel hub strategy. We’re proud to be bringing a curated flavour of the local region to the busy M25 as well as creating a pit stop for the surrounding community to also discover some of the best kept foodie secrets from across the region.” In September last year Sourced Market made its debut outside London – at Leeds Skelton Lake services at junction 45 of the M1, in partnership with Extra MSA Group. Sourced Market also operates a site at St Pancras International train station in London. Over the past 12 months, the business has consolidated its estate in the capital, exiting sites in Nova, Victoria, and Wigmore Street, Marylebone. Otherworld, the Imbiba-backed immersive entertainment business, has opened on the former site, while Lina Stores is set to open on the latter.
Bosco Pizzeria working on smaller, more delivery-focused concept: Bosco Pizzeria, the Bristol-based business that includes Steve Hill, former chief executive of Wagamama and non-executive director of Pho, as a backer, is working on a smaller, more delivery-focused pizza concept called Pizzucci, Propel has learned. The business is understood to be in talks on a site in Gloucester Road, Bristol, for the new format, which will have circa 40 covers and be more focused on delivery and takeout than its core eponymous brand. The Miles Johnson-led company will open its fourth Bosco site in December, at the refurbished Quadrangle complex in Cheltenham. It will occupy a spacious corner unit, housing an open kitchen with a wood-fired pizza oven. Bosco Pizzeria currently operates two sites in Bristol – Whiteladies Road and Clifton Village – and another in Bath. The site in Clifton Village is currently closed for a refit. Propel understands trading across the other two sites has been strong since both reopened fully earlier this summer.
JD Wetherspoon chip portions come under scrutiny from ‘viral’ Facebook group: A Facebook group bemoaning what it deems to be measly chip portions at JD Wetherspoon pubs has gone viral, with more than 40,000 members signing up. It features people posting pictures of them counting their chips, with some portions seemingly as low as ten but others as high as 62, and measuring the length of their snacks. One member even took a set of scales into the pub to measure out his portion, which weighed in at 189kg, or 7.27g per chip. Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon told the Mail: “A few years back Wetherspoon carpets were all the rage on Facebook, so it’s probably no surprise that someone has now started a chip account. All pubs should serve the same weight of chips, but the number of chips might vary depending on the size of chip.”
Castle Rock introduces national minimum wage increase five months early: Nottingham-based brewery and pub group Castle Rock will implement the national minimum wage rise, expected to come into being in April 2022, from next month for its employees. Minimum wage is expected to increase from £8.91 per hour to £9.42 next year, but Castle Rock’s directors have chosen to make the change from Monday, 1 November – resulting in more than £1,000 extra per year for full-time employees. “This is a big investment for us, especially with rising business costs” said managing director Colin Wilde. “However, the cost of living is rising too, and we recognise that a little bit extra can go a long way to help with bills during winter and the expense of Christmas.” In the early days of the pandemic, senior management at Castle Rock took substantial salary cuts, with Wilde himself taking a minimum wage salary, and launched the Castle Rock Hardship Fund to provide emergency financial support for employees. Wilde added: “Our people are everything. We want to ensure they are looked after and supported as we navigate our way out of the pandemic.” Established in 1977 by Chris Holmes, Castle Rock operate Nottingham’s largest independent brewery and manage 16 pubs in the East Midlands and beyond.
Camden Market Hawley Wharf adds six more independent F&B brands: Six more independent food and beverage brands have signed up at Camden Market Hawley Wharf, which officially opened in August. They include Afghan street food operators 2 Lads Kitchen, Greek fast-casual brand Mikos Gyros and Pakistani filled naan specialist Khaoo. Chingon, from the creators of Hotbox London, will be offering vibrant Mexican street food, while The Great British Cheesecake and gourmet finger doughnut concept Longboys will add to the sweet offerings. Their arrivals take the food and beverage outlets at Hawley Wharf to more than 30, while a Curzon cinema is also due to open soon. Jonny Perkins, retail asset manager at landlords LabTech, said: “Camden Market Hawley Wharf has become a diverse arena for all types of food, celebrating culinary culture and emphasising its position as a go-to destination to experience something new and exciting. We are proud to be working with these operators, helping them become a part of the Camden community or expand their presence here, while giving them exposure to the area’s amazing visitors.” Colliers and CBRE represent Camden’s Hawley Wharf. Other F&B operators to have recently opened at Hawley Wharf include Camden-born seafood specialists Shrimpy Shrimpy, pan-Asian concept Zen and Mexican street food concept Hola Guacamole.
Tom Moxon makes Bone Daddies return as executive group chef: Bone Daddies Group, which comprises the eponymous ramen restaurants, Shack-Fuyu and Flesh & Buns, has confirmed the return of original head chef Tom Moxon to the group. Moxon, who helped launch the very first Bone Daddies ramen bar in Soho in 2012, left the brand in late 2019 but returns as executive group chef. He will oversee the menu development at the group’s seven ramen bar sites, as well as the delivery arm of the business. Moxon said: “It was made clear when I left the door was open should I want to return at some point. Of course, at that stage, nobody knew we were going to experience a global pandemic and almost complete shutdown of the UK’s hospitality industry. When I got the call to come back it was a bit of a no-brainer for me to say yes as we achieved great things with Bone Daddies over the last ten years. Most people were not even familiar with ramen when we opened the first site in Soho, so to be re-joining the team ahead of its tenth anniversary year feels pretty special. I’ve got some new ideas to shake the menu up a bit and maybe bring back some old school Bone Daddies’ classics too.” Bone Daddies, which was founded by Ross Shonhan and Demetri Tomazos, has a year-long calendar of activity planned in 2022 for its tenth anniversary. Shonhan stepped away from the business in early 2020, leaving Tomazos to take the brand forward. The group currently operates seven Bone Daddies sites – the latest having opened in Putney in February – as well as two Flesh & Buns restaurants and a Shack-Fuyu.
New ‘apothecary style’ cocktail bar to open in Kings Cross this week: The Megaro Hotel in London’s Kings Cross will this Thursday (21 October) launch its new late-night “apothecary style” cocktail bar, Hokus Pokus Alchemy Lab. The drinks list is inspired by 19th century physician Dr James Morison’s botanical remedies and include the 1828 – which features the herbal liquor Becherovka as well as sugar, lemon, and peppermint foam. In charge of the cocktail list is Tomas Vykopal, former bar manager at Buddha Bar and Old Bengal and restaurant and bars manager at Forest on the Roof in Selfridges. The 100-person capacity venue will host a resident DJ as well as guest artists.
Arc Inspirations’ fourth Manchester site to open next month with Box launch, 18th in total: Leeds-based operator Arc Inspirations will open a new Box sports bar in Manchester’s Deansgate in November – a first site outside its home city for the brand. Arc, which already runs three Box sites in Leeds, also operates Banyan Corn Exchange, Banyan Spinningfields and Manahatta in Manchester. Box offers guests the chance to eat, drink, watch and play sports all under one roof – with the new site including two 21-foot European shuffleboard tables. Measuring 8,000 square feet, the Deansgate venue will be based opposite Spinningfields and spread across two floors, boasting more than 20 screens for sport and an outdoors terrace. Arc Inspirations chief executive Martin Wolstencroft said: “We’re delighted to finally be introducing our Box brand to Manchester. It’s exciting to be opening the doors next month to guests, especially after what’s been a challenging time for everyone, and the bar will also create 70 jobs.” The new Box site is the 18th in total for Arc, which recently opened its latest Manahatta cocktail bar in Birmingham’s Temple Street. Its three brands – Box, Banyan and Manahatta – extend into other towns and cities across the north of England including York, Harrogate and Newcastle.