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Fri 26th Nov 2021 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Urban – we have trials in place to accelerate some brands, annualised sales for delivery now at circa £45m: Phil Urban, chief executive at Mitchells & Butlers, has told Propel the business has “a couple of trials in place on how we might accelerate some of our brands”. He said the group’s star performers over the last few months have been Miller & Carter, which still has “another two or three years of expansion ahead”, and Browns. Urban said: “Consumers have been back in their droves, spending on and enjoying premium food occasions. At the other end is Nicholson’s, which has been one of the top performing brands during my time at the company. It is still a very successful business, and I have to remind the guys running it that they are still doing £50,000 a week [at a particular site], but that brand has been hit by offices not being fully back and tourists not being around. These are the two poles. Anything that is a restaurant is doing well, anything more wet-led has been slower to recover. In recent years we have always looked at adding six or seven sites a year, and the majority will probably be Miller & Carters, but we have a couple of trials in place on how we might accelerate other brands. We have probably got another two or three years of expansion of Miller & Carter, so we have got to find something else to do, and we have some ideas, but we will talk about that if and when they come to fruition.” Urban said he saw more headroom for growth for the company when it comes to delivery. He said: “Three years ago, we would have been talking about getting 100 sites on to delivery, we have now got more than 850, and we have annualised sales of about £45m. I see headroom for that to grow. It is still a relatively new channel for us and we are still learning. If I look at the spread within brands, if we could get the bottom quartile up to the midpoint, then that in itself would see that move on. It cannibalises out-of-home eating to a point, but only to a point, and it is probably a different occasion to most of what we do. I see it as a great way to get our brands out there, and we are really pleased with the momentum we have here.”
 

Industry News:

Updated Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies released today at midday, 54 businesses being added: A total of 54 new multi-site companies, operating 369 sites, have been added to the next edition of the Propel Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies, which will be released today (Friday, 26 November), at midday. The updated Propel Multi-Site Database, which is produced in association with Virgate, includes a number of brands growing through franchise, expanding sports concepts, and regional pub and hotel operators. Premium subscribers will also receive a 3,900-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 fifth edition of the New Openings Database, which is produced in association with StarStock, on Friday, 3 December, at midday. It focuses on newly announced openings and upcoming launches in the sector and is updated every month. The fifth edition also includes a 18,500-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 group editor Mark Wingett. In this week’s column, which will be sent to subscribers on Friday (26 November) at 5pm, he looks ahead to the next couple of months, including the festive season, and the strange paradox that some in the sector find themselves in, where the problem is not sales but everything else. 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 jo.charity@propelinfo.com
 
The Alchemist to feature in Propel video series around challenges of attracting and retaining staff: Propel has created a mini-video series around the challenge of attracting and retaining staff in the sector. In the third episode of the series – which is sponsored by Harri, the enterprise employee experience platform built for hospitality – Hannah Plumb, culture and talent director from The Alchemist, talks to Abi Dunn, from Sixty Eight People, about how re-imagining the people and operations strategy has really helped, the company’s unique approach to training and development, and empowering general managers at site level. The video will be sent at 9am on Friday (26 November).
 
Hospitality workforce finally growing, but rising wages placing pressure on businesses: Last month was the first time the hospitality staff headcount was higher than the same month in 2020, with a 4% increase in workers, according to new data from Fourth. However, the labour shortage is still evident, with overall industry staffing levels some 18% down on the same period two years ago. The data, pulled from Fourth’s network of more than 700 hospitality businesses, also revealed rising wages are placing increasing pressure on pub and restaurant operators. Back-of-house pay rates for the over-23s in pubs have almost hit the £10-an-hour mark, with the average wage in October of £9.98 up 72p in a year, and above the forthcoming new national living wage rate of £9.50 an hour. Hours worked have also increased against the previous year for seven consecutive months and are now 42% up on 2020. Meanwhile, the changing face of the UK’s hospitality workforce post-Brexit is reflected in the fact that British workers now make up 54% of it and EU workers just 31%, with a 26% drop in EU workers since October 2019. Sebastien Sepierre, managing director EMEA Fourth, said: “As economic activity builds and the nation begins to move again, we are beginning to see green shoots in the hospitality sector. While we are not yet back to levels of 2019, more staff are being recruited and more hours are being worked than at this time last year. However, this growth serves to highlight the labour shortage and just how competitive businesses must be to both attract and retain staff. The new national living wage rates will ensure the average hourly rate of pay continues to rise, placing further pressures on hospitality businesses.”
 
Sector trade bodies unite to combat drink spiking: Sector trade bodies have joined forces to ensure customer safety amid growing concerns about drink spiking at UK hospitality venues. UKHospitality, the British Beer & Pub Association, the British Institute of Innkeeping and Hospitality Ulster have teamed up to produce a raft of resources aimed at helping operators combat drink spiking and protect customers. They have jointly produced a factsheet that brings together in one place resources to bolster the work operators are already doing to ensure their venues remain safe. Operators are being encouraged to put off those seeking to commit crimes by using posters and social media to urge customers to be vigilant, training staff to identify issues before they arise and by taking practical measures such as anti-spiking bottle stoppers and drink covers. Other available resources include posters, training for staff, advice and guidance and a film aimed at supporting vulnerable people. In a joint statement, the associations said: “Drink spiking is a despicable crime and cannot be tolerated. Everyone has a right to feel safe during a night out, which is why as a sector we work hard to create a welcoming, inclusive and safe environment. Although the number of drink spiking reports remain low, any such incidents underline the need to protect the welfare and maintain the safety of customers. It is why we continue to collaborate with the police and other local stakeholders to ensure everyone can enjoy a fun night out.”
 
Welsh cinemas report ‘dramatic’ falls in attendances following covid passport introduction: Cinemas in Wales have reported “dramatic” falls in attendances since covid passports were brought in – as operators demand to see more evidence behind the decision to introduce them. Since 15 November, people have needed to be double vaccinated or show a negative lateral flow covid test in order to enter cinemas, theatres and concerts. The Welsh government said the measure will help keep covid rates lower and assist in keeping businesses open over winter. But Phil Clapp, chief executive of the UK Cinema Association, told Business Live: “All we have seen of the introduction of covid passes in Wales has realised our worst fears, with many sites seeing a dramatic reduction in admissions compared with previous levels. Whatever our opposition to the introduction of these measures – for which we have still seen no evidence – we stood ready with our members to implement them as effectively as possible. However, the unwillingness of officials to help us understand their practical application has placed many cinemas in a ‘perfect storm’ of confusion and conflict. Most distressingly, we are seeing many older and disabled customers unaware of the scheme – or unable to navigate its requirements – having to be turned away from cinemas in Wales. We cannot believe that was the intention of ministers, but it is the reality. If the government is not willing to pull back from this illogical measure, then we must urgently see moves to provide financial support for all affected sites of all shapes and sizes, without which the survival of many will soon be called into question.”
 
Job of the day: COREcruitment is looking for a finance manager to join a multi-site retail and hospitality business. This is a new role within the company, reporting to the finance director. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “The finance manager will oversee daily financial activities of the finance team members (reviewing sales ledger and purchase ledger postings) as well as weekly sales reconciliation for retail, online and wholesale. You will also perform monthly, quarterly and annual accounting activities including reconciliations of bank and stock accounts, implement and monitor the monthly, quarterly and year-end closeout accounting schedules for prepayments and accruals. The role will also require meeting and working closely with other teams and managers across the business as well as supporting and mentoring your own team. The incoming finance manager will need to have been a fully qualified accountant for a least two years.” Anyone interested can email Oliwia@corecruitment.com
 

Company News:

Arc Inspirations reports record trading figures since reopening, sales up 42% on 2019, new openings planned for 2022: Leeds-based operator Arc Inspirations has reported record trading figures since reopening, with sales since “Freedom Day” in July up 42% on the same period in 2019. The group, which operates bar concepts Banyan, Box and Manahatta, has delivered total sales of £17.5m since April 2021 and Ebitda in the first half of its financial year of £3.7m, more than double the same period 12 months ago. This included a record week in August, when the group achieved sales of more than £1m across its 18 venues. All of which means it is on course for a record year in terms of both revenue and profit, which in the full year to 31 March 2022 is expected to see revenue surpass £38m, and profit projected to reach beyond £8m (Ebitda). This comes as the group plans further openings next year, with deals close to completion in cities in the north and Midlands. These will follow hot on the heels of the new 8,000 square-foot Box sports bar, which opens in Manchester’s Deansgate on Saturday (27 November), and the new 7,000 square-foot Manhatta in Birmingham, which has taken more than £75,000 per week since opening in October. Chief executive Martin Wolstencroft said: “We are delighted with this outstanding performance and are extremely proud of the tremendous, continuous efforts shown by our teams – our success is testament to their strength and resilience. We’re determined to continue to build on this very strong momentum and are making excellent progress on our growth ambitions. We have secured two further new sites, which we expect to open in the next 12 months, and are actively exploring more opportunities in new cities as we continue to build a meaningful pipeline for our brands. Therefore, while it has of course been the most challenging of times, we look forward to the future with great confidence.”
 
NQ64 eyes four openings a year, appoints Clinton Ghent as operations director: NQ64, the immersive retro arcade bar concept backed by Imbiba, is planning to open up to four to five new sites a year, as it targets growing to 20 to 25 sites in its latest stage of growth. Andy Haygarth, who founded NQ64 with Matt Robson, told Propel he believes the business can initially grow to up to 25 sites expanding into major towns and cities across the UK, before exploring a further rollout into smaller demographics. He said the business, which recently opened its sixth site, in Cardiff, is set to open in Newcastle and Glasgow in the first quarter of next year, while it is also exploring openings in Leeds and London. In August, the business opened on the former Badabing bar site in Edinburgh’s Lothian Road, and Haygarth said the popularity of that site had meant it had already paid back its return on investment. He also said the success of the Edinburgh site and the more recent opening in Cardiff has given the brand the confidence to look at larger sites of 4,000 to 6,000 square feet. The David McDowall-chaired business also operates sites in Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham. Earlier this year, it opened a second bar in Manchester after securing the former Club Liv unit in Peter Street. In February, Propel revealed Imbiba had invested £1.4m in NQ64 to aid its further growth plans. Propel also understands Clinton Ghent is to join the business at the start of next year, as its new operations director. Ghent has spent the last 11 years with Revolution Bars Group, most recently as brand operations director for its Revolucion de Cuba brand. 
 
Five Guys set to make move into delivery kitchens: Better burger brand Five Guys is set to make its first move into the delivery kitchen segment, with the opening of two trial sites in London, Propel has learned. It is understood the John Eckbert-led business is set to open two sites with Deliveroo Editions in Brent Cross and Dulwich. The move comes as the group gears up to open another two restaurants next Monday (29 November), in Northampton (Sixfield Leisure Park) and Orpington (Nugent Shopping Park). The circa 130-strong brand, which is backed by Sir Charles Dunstone, recently opened in St Albans, Castleford, Walton-on-Thames, Bournemouth, and Trafford Retail Park. It also has openings lined up in Basingstoke and in Manchester Piccadilly. The company has also agreed a deal to take space at the forthcoming Grantham Designer Outlet Village in Lincolnshire. Eckbert told Propel earlier this month the diversity of the better burger brand’s consumer base provides it with further growth opportunities, and the business has “a clear shot to 250 to 300 stores” here. Its move into the delivery kitchen category comes as US peer Wendy’s has recently opened its fifth kitchen site under its partnership with Reef, in Silex Street, Southwark. Propel understands Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, the US fried chicken quick-service restaurant brand, which opened its first UK restaurant – at a former KFC site in Westfield Stratford – at the weekend, is also in advanced talks to open delivery kitchen sites here.
 
Belfast-based Mexican chain Boojum plans launch in England next year: Belfast-based burrito chain Boojum, which currently operates 17 sites across Ireland, is planning to launch in England next year, Propel has learned. The David Maxwell-led business is believed to be currently exploring eight key markets in which it hopes to expand into, with a focus on the north of England. Leeds is thought to be top of its target list. The group’s more recent trading has been underpinned by the strength of its digital channels, including its own click and collect model. The brand’s top performing sites have generated sales in excess of £60,000 a week, over a “significant period of time”. Maxwell told Propel: “We are a UK business based in Belfast, and have always had an outlook that is not purely focused on growing in Ireland. We believe we are now in a good position to look at expanding into England, and have the right concept and offer in which to do so successfully. We have had multiple stores break the £60,000-a-week sales mark over the course of the pandemic, underpinned by a high performance of takeaway, delivery and click and collect. Digital sales are currently running at circa 45%, which includes our own click and collect. We had an estate pre-pandemic of 17 sites and are currently trading from 13 by design, because of the growth in our digital capabilities, we have been able to become more efficient, leaner and have been able to consolidate sales into fewer sites.” 

Urban – If utility costs double, we won’t be able to mitigate for that fully: Phil Urban, chief executive of Mitchells & Butlers, has warned if utility costs double, the Harvester and All Bar One operator won’t be able to mitigate “for that fully” in its current financial year. Urban told Propel: “The irony is we have a much stronger balance sheet now than when we went into the pandemic, so the capital programme is fine. The issue here is our contractors are also not immune to cost increases and driver shortages. At the moment, they are flagging a risk they can’t get material. So, if our capital programme isn’t as big as we want it to be, it will be contractor driven and not from our side. We would back ourselves to mitigate cost increases, the difference this year is utility costs. In April, the living wages goes up 6.6%, VAT moves back up to 20%, that is unwelcome but we would back ourselves to mitigate for those sorts of things. The one thing we can’t mitigate for is utility costs, which are forecast to double. If that comes to pass, then we won’t mitigate for that fully this year. Looking at this financial year, if our energy prices double while we are trying to mitigate as much costs as possible, we won’t be able to cover all of that, without damaging the business.” Urban said the business was “pretty much back to its full complement on staffing”, but on a local level it still has some sites that have problems, especially around back of house staff. In line with many of his peers, Urban said Christmas bookings five weeks ago were looking much slower but it had caught up very quickly since. He said: “I imagine we will back up to normal levels of bookings this week, which will be encouraging. It is walk-in business that can make a difference, and that is more difficult to call this year. I am cautiously optimistic providing no media or politicians say anything stupid about hospitality venues. I think it is still fragile, the recovery, and guest confidence is critical.”

SSP appoints new group chief executive: SSP Group, the UK-based transport hub foodservice specialist, has appointed Patrick Coveney as its new group chief executive. Coveney, who will take up the role on 31 March 2022, will replace Simon Smith, who announced in July he would leave the business in December. Jonathan Davies, in his role as deputy chief executive and chief financial officer, will lead the group executive committee and oversee day-to-day business prior to Coveney joining. Coveney will join from Greencore Group, a leading producer of convenience foods in the UK and Ireland, where he has been group chief executive since 2008. SSP stated: “Under Patrick’s leadership, Greencore transformed into an international leader in value added convenience food, most notably in food-to-go. He delivered a strong track record of growth, combining organic and strategic expansion, forging deep, long-term partnerships with Greencore’s customers across the UK, US and Europe. Patrick has also been instrumental in driving significant cultural change, building capability, developing people, and embedding sustainability into Greencore's strategy.” SSP chairman Mike Clasper said: “Patrick is a strong and strategic leader, combining this with proven financial and operational experience in some of the most competitive categories in the food sector. His customer and colleague focus make him ideally placed to lead SSP to future success. On behalf of the board, I would also like to take the opportunity to thank Simon for his significant contribution to the group during his time at SSP.”
 
Neuner to step down as vice-president operations UK and Europe at Hakkasan Group: Michael Neuner is to step down as vice-president operations UK and Europe at Hakkasan Group, the international hospitality operator, after more than four years in the role. Neuner joined Hakkasan Group, which earlier this year was acquired by the US-based Tao Group Hospitality, from MH Alshaya, where he was vice-president of its food division, catering and delivery. During his time at Hakkasan, he has overseen a restructuring of the business, its route through the pandemic, the creation of its delivery business and the launch of its Casa Calavera concept as a virtual brand. He said: “I have decided to leave the Hakkasan Group in January next year. With a business flourishing beyond expectations and the fantastic team I had the privilege to lead and have enjoyed every minute of working with, now is the right time for me to move on. I know they will be in good hands and have an incredibly bright future ahead in London and abroad.” In April, Tao Group Hospitality acquired Hakkasan Group, creating what it called “a premium hospitality powerhouse that includes a global portfolio of brands and properties with significant potential for future growth”. The newly combined company operates 61 entertainment dining and nightlife venues in 22 markets across five continents. 
 
Duo behind The Oystermen to open neighbourhood restaurant and bar in West Dulwich: Rob Hampton and Matt Lovell, who are behind Covent Garden seafood bar and kitchen The Oystermen, are opening a new neighbourhood restaurant and bar. The duo will launch Walter’s in West Dulwich in January. Named after Walter Hathaway, a local master milliner, costumier and first owner of the Park Hall Road address where the venue is based, the bar and restaurant will offer a “considered menu of British-inspired classics” and a selection of wine and cocktails. Head chef Khalid Hassan, formerly of Social Eating House, L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon and Murano, has worked closely with Hampton and Lovell to devise the menu. Mains will include roasted venison loin and parsnip, and roasted hake with romesco sauce along with spiced cabbage and a slow cooked duck egg. Seating 50, Walter’s will be split into two distinct spaces – a front dining room, and a lounge area to the rear. There will also be a wine cellar that guests will be able to explore. Hampton and Lovell said: “We have had such a journey since opening The Oystermen, our first bricks and mortar site just over four years ago. Walter’s feels like a very natural next step for us, we are moving down south, to a neighbourhood we know and love.”
 
Merlin Entertainments to open £1m Peter Rabbit immersive attraction: Merlin Entertainments is to open an attraction based on the children’s television programme Peter Rabbit. The £1m entertainment venue will launch on Blackpool seafront next year. Developed in partnership with Peter Rabbit producers Silvergate Media, Penguin Ventures (on behalf of Peter Rabbit brand owner Frederick Warne & Co), and Blackpool Council, the attraction will open next to Madame Tussauds Blackpool as part of a new standalone experience. The addition will join Merlin’s six other attractions in Blackpool including The Blackpool Tower and Sealife Blackpool. The interactive play attraction will offer five themed zones. Guests will have to complete challenges and earn badges to join the secret treehouse club. Kate Shane, regional director for Merlin Entertainments, said: “Peter Rabbit is a well-loved household name for young and old and is globally renowned. We are delighted this new attraction concept will be created here in Blackpool first.” Lisa Macdonald, senior vice-president consumer products and content sales at Silvergate Media, added: “Harnessing the multi-generational appeal of Peter Rabbit to create a unique brand experience and unforgettable day out will enhance its enduring popularity for generations to come.”
 
Team behind Dirty Bones to launch ‘world’s first hip hop speakeasy’ in London: The team behind US comfort food and cocktails brand Dirty Bones will launch Roxanne, the “world’s first hip hop speakeasy”, in London’s Shoreditch in February. Offering a taste of 1980s New York block parties and music, the lounge space and bar will be accessible via a secret door next to Dirty Bones’ Club Row site. DJs and live performers will blast out hip hop, soul and funk, while the drinks-focused menu will serve new twists on classic cocktails alongside food offerings such as smashed burgers, fries and signature dips. Roxanne will initially open every Wednesday to Sunday evening. Dirty Bones, which operates across six venues in London and Oxford, recently reopened its restaurant in Soho’s Kingly Court, having moved from its first-floor site to the ground floor, where it replaced oyster specialist and seafood wholesaler Wright Brothers.
 
Wagamama applies to open in former Las Iguanas site in Braintree: Wagamama, the pan-Asian brand owned by The Restaurant Group, is looking to open a new restaurant in Braintree, Essex. The company has applied to Braintree District Council for a premises licence at the former Las Iguanas site at the Braintree Village shopping outlet. Wagamama intends to trade daily from 8am to 12.30am, reports Essex Live. The restaurant would mark a fifth site in Essex for the brand, adding to its venues in Basildon, Chelmsford, Colchester and Thurrock. Las Iguanas closed the site last year when Casual Dining Group went into administration.
 
West Midlands-based hotel Hampton Manor to further boost F&B offer with immersive farm-to-table restaurant experience: West Midlands-based hotel Hampton Manor is further boosting its food and beverage offer with the opening of a new farm-to-table restaurant and development kitchen. The Solihull hotel, which is owned by the Hill family, is already home to Michelin-starred restaurant Peels and in September it was joined by Smoke, which is headed by MasterChef The Professionals winner Stuart Deeley, along with a Danish-inspired bakery and shop run by Min Go. The latest addition will see Grace & Savour, an immersive restaurant experience and development kitchen with five adjoining garden bedrooms set in the historic Walled Garden, open in February. Head chef David Taylor and his wife Anette will create an experience “that celebrates a movement in growing and farming that is shifting away from the industrial model towards a more diverse, naturally resilient future”. David trained under the guidance of Glynn Purnell before moving to Norway where he was part of the team that won three Michelin stars at Oslo’s Maaemo. Dishes at Grace & Savour will be based on the ingredients available from the garden with the menu developed under guidance from Dr Sally Bell, a family director of the estate and a specialist in lifestyle medicine. The dishes will be paired with specially created kombucha, tea and small-batch wine. The Hill family has been running Hampton Manor and its 45-acre estate since 1986.
 
Former Cordon Bleu alumnus to open deli kitchen concept in Henley-on-Thames: A new fine-foods deli, selling produce cooked in an on-site open kitchen, will open in Henley-on-Thames this winter. Pavilion will be the first site to be launched under the Pavilion Foods brand, which is the brainchild of Henley resident Micah Judah, who is a former Cordon Bleu alumnus with many years’ experience in food retail. He said: “At a time when people are trading bricks for clicks, I strongly believe in supporting our high streets through delivering food theatre. Our ethos at Pavilion is very much about forging a community through food.” Among the produce on offer will be charcuterie, smoked fish, cheese, beer, wine and spirits, while the freshly cooked food to take away will include rotisserie dishes, salads, sandwiches and soups. The kitchen team will be led by head chef Tania Steytler, formerly of Severn & Wye Smokery, Westbury and London’s Jeow Jeow, who said: “Our aim is to provide our customers with restaurant-standard food that they can easily enjoy at home.” Steylter will also lead an on-site cookery school, featuring guest chefs too, which is scheduled to open in early 2022.
 
Paddington Bear-themed cafe launches at Paddington station: A new Paddington Bear-inspired cafe has opened at Paddington station. Offerings include freshly baked pastries and muffins as well as Fairtrade Peruvian single origin coffee, giving a nod to the character’s home country. Located on The Lawn in Unit 22 of the station, the cafe is operated by Copyrights Group, an intellectual property development agency that owns the copyright to the Paddington Bear brand. Chief executive Sophie Kopaczynski said: “We are thrilled to open our first Paddington Cafe. The warm ambiance, subtly inspired by Paddington, will offer a relaxing moment to all our customers, who will be able to enjoy carefully sourced fresh products and premium quality coffee and tea – and also marmalade sandwiches! We do believe we’ll offer a unique cafe experience to commuters, travellers and Paddington fans.”
 
Historic Northampton pub set to be restored via £2.5m charitable project, operators being sought: A £2.5m project to bring an historic Northampton pub that has been closed since 2018 back to life has been launched. The Churches Conservation Trust (CTT) plans to restore and reopen the 16th century grade-II listed Old Black Lion, in Mare Fair, in the city centre. The pub sits adjacent to the 12th century grade-I listed St Peter’s Church, which closed in 1995 and which the CCT has been responsible for since 1998. With break-ins and criminal activity at the derelict pub having had a negative effect on the church and churchyard, the CTT plans to regenerate the Old Black Lion as a community pub that would also provide hospitality facilities for events at St Peter’s. The pub is owned by West Northamptonshire Council, and the CTT is exploring taking on a long lease so it can invest properly in its repair and regeneration. The CCT has been awarded a National Lottery Heritage Fund Enterprise Grant of £1.8m towards the £2.5m costs. Subject to planning permission and fundraising, it is anticipated that work will begin in 2022, with the aim of a 2023 opening, and the CTT is now seeking hospitality operators for the business. The first round of applications will close on Monday, 6 December. As part of the plans, an historic carriage passage leading to the pub’s courtyard will be restored, a new dining room extension will be built and the courtyard will become a beer garden. Upstairs will be five bedrooms and a function room. The plan delivers 175 square metres of tradable space, with room for at least 100 covers.

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