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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Mon 25th Oct 2021 - Exclusive – BrewDog to open flagship 26,500 square foot site
BrewDog to open 26,500sq ft global flagship site in London’s Waterloo: Scottish brewer and bar operator BrewDog is to open its biggest site to date, complete with bars, brewery, workspaces, bowling alley and coffee shop, in London’s Waterloo, Propel has learned. The company will launch the new 26,500sq ft global flagship site next summer over two floors of the former international Eurostar terminal, which was previously set to be a UK debut site for Time Out Market. BrewDog Waterloo will be the biggest BrewDog location in the world, encompassing two floors of “amazing craft beer, spirits, food and entertainment in the centre of the city”. The site will feature a pop-up food truck and an innovative gaming area complete with duckpin bowling alley, shuffle boards and a slide to get between floors. Other features will include a speakeasy-style cocktail bar and lounge, and a spacious outdoor terrace for enjoying drinks “amidst the greenery of a not-for-profit florist, selling flowers and potted plants to customers and those passing by”. The site will also offer meeting rooms and extensive workspaces. In addition, BrewDog will be partnering with coffee brand Grind, which will be opening a coffee shop within BrewDog Waterloo, serving coffee from 7am daily. BrewDog co-founder James Watt, said: “London’s beer scene is the rival of any in the world, and our supersized plans for BrewDog Waterloo, at the epicentre of the UK’s busiest railway station, are a testament to that; this is quite simply one of the biggest things we have ever announced. We can’t wait for Londoners and visitors to the city alike to see our new flagship for the capital. Beer, bowling, cocktails and coffee; BrewDog Waterloo will be a destination for anyone seeking out great food, great drinks and an amazing time.” David Abrahamovitch, chief executive and founder of Grind, said: “BrewDog’s plans for their new flagship are incredible, and we’re really excited to be a part of it. Grind coffee is already served in BrewDog bars across the country, and we’re excited to take our partnership further with the launch of a Grind café inside the new space at Waterloo.”

Broad variety of multi-site concepts set to join updated Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies: A broad variety of multi-site concepts are among the 67 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 Extrawurst, one of the leading German bratwurst fast-food to go brands, which has a global audience with sites in Asia, South America and Europe. The business is now branching into the UK with three sites set to open this year. Also among the new additions is Aberdeen-based Big Manny’s Pizza, which is set to expand following a recent six-figure investment with a new site near Pittodrie Stadium; and Oseyo, the Korean food and culture hub concept, which has secured its seventh site – and sixth in London – in Hammersmith. Also added this month is 83-strong adventure course operator Go Ape, which opened a new site at Dalkeith Country Park, Edinburgh, this year and has also added a new dual Zip Experience activity at its site in Aberfoyle, Scotland. Premium subscribers will also receive a 5,200-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 12,500-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. Email to sign up.

Scottish hospitality attacks covid vaccine passport disaster: The first weekend of enforcement of Scotland’s vaccine passport scheme has been an “unmitigated disaster”, according to a hospitality sector body. The Scottish Hospitality Group said that staff had faced “intolerable levels of abuse” and some venues saw a drop in footfall of up to 40% The Times reported. It is calling on the Scottish government to scrap the scheme, which has been legally enforceable since 18 October. Proof of full vaccination is required to enter nightclubs and large events as part of ministers’ efforts to limit the spread of the coronavirus and increase vaccine take-up. Stephen Montgomery, a spokesman for the hospitality group, told The Times: “The first weekend of the vaccine passports scheme has been one of unmitigated disaster and that responsibility lies entirely at the door of the Scottish government. The Scottish Hospitality Group has been warning the government for weeks that their vaccine passports scheme is not ready but the government’s attitude has been to tell us to ‘get on with it’ whilst offering no safety net of support for businesses or our hard-working staff.” It said that over the weekend members reported more than 550 instances where venue staff had to refuse entry to a customer over the issue. There was also a “concerning number” of reports of abuse of hospitality staff over rejections and queues at venues, and continuing problems were reported with the vaccine passport app and its update. The vaccine certification scheme applies to premises with music, alcohol and dancing between midnight and 5am.

The Big Table Group plans 50 new openings: The Big Table Group, operator of Las Iguanas, Bella Italia and Café Rouge, plans to open 50 new restaurants and refurbish 70 sites over the next three years, investing in excess of £50m and creating 1,250 new jobs in the process. The group’s ambition is to invest £35m in new openings, which would take the estate to 200 restaurants across the UK, while the company intends to invest a further £19m to refurbish its restaurants, with 70 major renovations in the pipeline. The Big Table hopes to almost double the current number of Las Iguanas restaurants in the next three years, opening 35 locations in major towns and city centres. The group recently appointed Paul Stokes – former head of franchise development at KFC UKI – as head of acquisitions, and further expanded its acquisitions team, to deliver the growth programme. Having traded well pre-covid, Las Iguanas has exceeded all expectations on reopening, with its fun and relaxed Latin American vibes, cocktails, and authentic street-food menu hitting the right notes with consumers coming out of lockdown. With 2-for-1 cocktails all day, every day, and a hugely popular Bottomless Brunch offering, the brand has consistently outperformed its competitors since reopening, and as a result, The Big Table is looking to accelerate its openings plan. The company opened a site in Plymouth’s Barcode last week, and is set to open its first restaurant in Southampton later this year. Alan Morgan, chief executive, The Big Table Group, said: “Las Iguanas has consistently proven to be an extremely popular choice with consumers, and now is the perfect time to grow the brand across the country, targeting high footfall locations in major towns and city centres.” The Big Table Group is owned by Epiris, which acquired the business with the aim of supporting and accelerating new site growth opportunities, and is probably the best capitalised restaurant group in the UK. With no external debt, the expected strong recovery in the sector, and the funding support of Epiris, the group is ready and able to proceed with its growth plan. Epiris’ expertise as an investor includes far-reaching experience and knowledge of the leisure and hospitality sector, and its senior team has a proven track record of creating value in consumer-facing businesses by supporting management to invest in long-term strategic opportunities, helping create businesses which are simpler, larger, higher quality, and high-growth. Alex Fortescue, managing partner, Epiris, added: “We are excited about the growth prospects of The Big Table. With strong recovery in the sector, we are ready to fund additional pipeline opportunities and look forward to expanding our brands. Given that we are probably the best capitalised restaurant group in the UK, we represent a compelling partner for landlords.” While the company’s main priority is the rapid expansion of Las Iguanas, The Big Table is also looking to open new Bella Italia sites, targeting leisure parks as well as town and city centres. Every single existing Bella Italia site will be refurbished in the next three years, with renovations also planned for several Café Rouge sites. The Big Table has recently extended its successful partnership with Center Parcs, and will add two more Las Iguanas sites to take its total number of restaurants at Center Parcs’ five holiday villages in the UK to fourteen. The group is also trialling new brands, including premium Italian restaurant brand, Amalfi – a casual dining concept serving a menu of Italian food and drink inspired by the Amalfi Coast. After the success of the first outlet, which opened at Center Parcs, Woburn, there are further locations in the pipeline, including London’s Argyll Street, as well as other locations outside the capital. In addition, The Big Table opened its first ever dark kitchen in Battersea this month, with a second site opening in Birmingham in the new year. The new delivery-only sites will sell menu items from Café Rouge, Bella Italia and Las Iguanas.

Giggling Squid reports strong performance in pandemic: Giggling Squid, the UK’s leading operator of Thai restaurants, with 40 sites located predominantly in affluent provincial market towns and cities, has reported another year of strong growth despite the challenges associated with the covid pandemic, which the company weathered exceptionally well. Total income, including £6.1m of government support, increased by 4.7% to £40.2m in the 53 weeks to 4 April 2021 and adjusted Ebitda was £5.5m, up 25% from £4.4m in the previous financial year. The company benefitted during the pandemic from being largely situated in regional locations and offering an accessible, healthy, delivery friendly cuisine. Throughout the year, the company pivoted successfully from an ‘off site’ trading model of takeaway/delivery during lockdowns, to normal trading at its restaurants (albeit with social distancing measures in place). In addition, the opportunity was taken during lockdowns to refurbish several restaurants in the more mature estate. The company secured a CBIL at the start of the financial year as a precautionary measure, however, it has remained unutilised. The company added: “In the current financial year, trading since re-opening for indoor dining in mid May 2021, has been excellent, with exceptional gross like-for-like performance and superb customer service scores continuing to hold firm into the Autumn. New restaurants have been opened in the current financial year to date, in Harborne (Birmingham), West Bridgford (Nottingham) and Mere Green (Sutton Coldfield), all of which are trading ahead of management’s initial expectations. A fourth site opened in Hornchurch last week and a further two new sites are due to open before Christmas in Welwyn Garden City and Chelmsford. The company has a commanding liquidity position and, with an excellent pipeline, now plans to open a minimum of seven new sites in the current financial year. Giggling Squid continues to be supported by Barclays Bank and the Business Growth Fund. The company currently operates 40 restaurants, remains well financed and is looking to acquire top- quality retail units nationwide in order to continue to build a strong site pipeline and fulfil its expansion ambitions. Whilst being mindful to expand at a measured pace, management are seeing excellent opportunities in some exciting new locations and have sites for next year already secured in locations such as Winchester and Maidstone, together with a number of additional sites currently in legals.” Andy Laurillard, co-founder and chief executive, added: “It’s great to be back to some sort of normality. The company has proved to be highly resilient over the last 18 months and we have bounced back strongly since reopening our doors in May which is encouraging. Terrific work from our leadership team has meant that we have coped effectively so far with many of the widely reported sector issues, such as staffing constraints and supply chain shortages, and we are taking full advantage of consumers eagerness to eat healthy, well-priced cuisine in great locations. Strong trading across all of our restaurants underlines the importance of the hospitality sector to the public and it’s been lovely to welcome our customers back. Giggling Squid’s proven roll out model continues to impress, demonstrating the versatility of the brand’s appeal in a wide range of sites and regions. This, together with the strength of our pipeline, has encouraged us to increase our opening programme to at least seven new restaurants this year and we look forward to bringing our unique and authentic Thai hospitality to new locations over the coming months.”

Simon Barnes to leave Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company: Simon Barnes, vice president sales, free on trade at Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company (CMBC) has taken the decision to leave the business later this month in order to pursue new opportunities. Barnes has enjoyed a 30-year career in the beer and pubs industry, beginning with Whitbread Beer Company in 1994 and later moving into tenancies with Brakspear Pub Company. He joined Marston’s in 2002 and has held various senior roles, before becoming free trade sales director in 2015. In the past 12 months he has played a critical role in the formation of CMBC and successfully integrating the Carlsberg and Marston’s Free Trade sales teams. Paul Davies, chief executive, CMBC, said: “On behalf of the management team I would like to thank Simon for his leadership and passion for our business, and the broader beer and pubs industry, and we wish him every success in the future.”

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