Story of the Day:
Hostmore to replace Fatburger in Dundee with new QSR concept: Hostmore, the parent company of Fridays and the 63rd+1st concept in the UK, has secured the former Fat Burger site in Dundee to trial its new quick service restaurant (QSR) format, Propel understands. The new site is scheduled to open in March in Dundee’s Reform Street. It is thought that the Robert B Cook-led business is in talks on a further site for the QSR concept in London. Propel revealed last July that Hostmore was exploring QSR opportunities with service station providers under the “Fridays and Go” banner. In a presentation to investors, Hostmore chief executive Cook said the company had signed a non-disclosure agreement with a motorway services operator as it looks to progress the opportunity. He said: “This is an area we are looking to go at hard as there is a lot of white space out there for Fridays – we only have a 34% market penetration rate currently. The site will be a drive-up QSR site with click-and-collect and also offering delivery. We are excited at the potential of this format. We think there is scope to grow Fridays to 120 sites quite easily in the next three to five years from the 87 we have at the moment, but the QSR format could provide us with even more opportunities.” This comes as the business reported that revenue for December was 8.3% lower than the comparable period in 2019. It said: “While an increased level of guest reservation cancellations became evident as December progressed and was in line with government guidance relating to the new Omicron variant, this was more than offset by a combination of new reservations and walk-in demand which reflected the short-term nature of customer decision making while the uncertainty prevailed.” The group said trading since 3 January 2022 had been “more in line with expectations and reflects what is usually a quieter period post the festive season”. Cook said: “We are pleased the business has continued to perform strongly through another year of challenge and uncertainty. The past two years have been challenging, but I believe the group, including both my colleagues in-store and at the support centre, have used the time productively to make meaningful and lasting changes for the future. The improvement in our guest satisfaction scores also bears testament to the ongoing support of the many loyal customers who appreciate our efforts.”
Host of hotel companies to join updated Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies:
A host of hotel companies are among the 85 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, 28 January, at midday. The updated Propel Multi-Site Database
, which is produced in association with Virgate, features Macdonald Hotels & Resorts
, which is a 38-strong hotel and resort operator founded by Donald Macdonald more than 30 years ago. Also added this month is Red Carnation Hotels
– which in 2020 celebrated 100 years of hospitality and currently has 20 sites around the world, including 12 in the UK and Ireland. Award-winning Hand Picked Hotels
, which is a collection of 21 country house and spa hotels located throughout the UK and the Channel Islands, has been included this month. In addition, Lake District Hotels
, which is owned and run by Kit and Charles Graves and boasts a collection of six award-winning hotels situated in the surroundings of the Lake District, will be featured. Premium subscribers will also receive a 6,100-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. It features more than 2,000 companies. Premium subscribers will also receive the sixth edition of the New Openings Database
, which is produced in association with StarStock, on Friday, 4 February, at midday. It focuses on newly announced openings and upcoming launches in the sector and is updated every month. The sixth edition also includes a 19,000-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. 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 single subscription rate is £445 plus VAT for operators and £545 plus VAT for suppliers. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to upgrade your subscription
. 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 group editor Mark Wingett.
2022’s list of outstanding sector Under 30s recognised: This year’s crop of outstanding young sector individuals has been recognised. The Restaurant Marketer & Innovator “30 Under 30” list recognises 30 talented future leaders in marketing, innovation and strategy roles within the sector who are under 30 years of age. Entrants are assessed on creativity, confidence, commercial awareness, ability to collaborate, leadership skills, strategy, self-development and stakeholder management. The reception for this year’s recognised individuals was held on Monday night (17 January) at the Dickens Inn in London ahead of the two-day Restaurant Marketer and Innovator conference. Individuals chosen this year were: Alan Kell, commercial strategy manager, The Restaurant Group; Alice Leach, head of product innovation, The Cornish Bakery; Angelica Lee, creative executive, Lollipop; Angie Carney, marketing manager, TipJar; Charlotte Cavanagh, account manager, Fleet Street Communications; Clemmie Parrett, founder, Darby & Parrett; Emily Burnett, account manager, Fleet Street Communications; Emily McCarthy, senior customer success consultant, Feed it Back; Frederick Szydlowski, co-founder, Embargo App; Georgie Ross, head of marketing, Mildreds; Jackie Edge, marketing manager, Mission Mars; Jennifer Wong, marketing executive, Marugame Udon Europe; Jessica Watson, assistant marketing manager covering head of marketing (maternity leave), Arc Inspirations; Jessica Green, senior marketing manager guest proposition and capex, Marston’s; Kat Schofield, brand manager, Marston’s; Katherine Merley, senior commercial manager bars and casual dining, SSP Group; Marie Guenot, senior international marketing manager, Chotto Matte; Megan Trimble, lead marketing manager, Tim Horton’s UK and Ireland; Micah Zammit, head of digital marketing, Aqua Restaurant Group; Natasha Zone, founder and chief executive, Zone Capital; Nicola Wheeler, assistant marketing manager, Marston’s; Nika Latynina, category manager food and beverage, Hakkasan Group; Olivia Burns, social media marketing manager , Incipio Group; Polly Lewis, commercial manager franchise brands and new franchise development, SSP UK; Rhiannon Crist, account manager, Wireless Social; Rob Huysinga, founder and CEO, Bubba Oasis; Samantha Weller, marketing manager, Kobas; Tanith West, head of marketing, Bone Daddies and Xavi Molet Munoz, founder, Restokit.
Backman – foodservice sales were down 20% to 25% compared with December 2019: Foodservice analyst Peter Backman has said he believes foodservice sales were down 20% to 25% last month compared with December 2019. He said while it’s still too early to provide definitive answers, he has had a go at providing some initial numbers based on speaking to operators and suppliers and reviewing comments and market measurements published in the month. “Overall, I think sales were down 20% to 25% compared with December 2019,” he said. “But some sectors were broadly unchanged – healthcare, and education for example. Others were very badly hit earlier in 2021 and they certainly didn’t improve in December – the leisure sector, feeding at work, and much of the hotel sector – were down perhaps 40% in the month. Business was ahead of 2019 in the quick service restaurant sector (takeaways, fast food, food to go etc) driven by the growth of delivery. That leaves food sold in pubs, and restaurants which were down perhaps -25% in December – better in the early part but worse in the last couple of weeks of the month. And that slowing trend has continued into 2022. As for the overall picture? The market – both sales to customers and purchases by operators - was down 15% to 20% or so compared with the last pre-covid December two years ago. The picture has been helped by inflation, so volumes – meals served and quantities of food purchased – show lower numbers. That’s my preliminary assessment.”
Scottish hospitality groups tell Holyrood to end restrictions now: Scotland’s leading hospitality operators have called on the Scottish government to end restrictions now, ahead of the first minister’s latest coronavirus briefing. Nicola Sturgeon, who last week announced an end to outdoor event restrictions effective yesterday (17 January), is due to update the Scottish parliament on the state of the pandemic today (18 January). The Scottish Hospitality Group (SHG) has urged her to keep rolling back the restrictions following new data showing increasing numbers of people are choosing to socialise in “uncontrolled” home settings. “The current restrictions on hospitality are indefensible,” said SHG spokesman Stephen Montgomery. “Even the Scottish government has identified they are completely pointless and driving people to socialise at home, which is an uncontrolled environment. Meanwhile, thousands of businesses still wait for financial support, despite being promised a lifeline over six weeks ago. A huge number of them are still not able to access the isolation grants, and Scottish hospitality is still suffocating under a stranglehold of restrictions.” He added: “It’s incredible that yet again, hospitality is the last sector to open. For almost two years the government has been slapping restrictions on our industry, which have ultimately destroyed businesses across the country, and are based on no scientific evidence. We are facing a catastrophic future that will impact thousands of jobs, and we ask that the Scottish government concentrates on working collaboratively with industry to protect our long-term economy.” UKHospitality Scotland echoed the calls for ending restrictions and said it’s also calling on the government to begin to encourage a return to the workplace. Executive director Leon Thompson said: “Our businesses need to know that the Scottish government is supporting them as they attempt to begin recovery from the financial impact of two years of closure and restrictions. Hospitality needs to know that it can begin trading fully, including nightclubs, so we’re calling on the Scottish government to lift restrictions no later than 24 January. This will send a positive message that Scotland is open for business and help our businesses as they set out again on what we all hope will be the road towards recovery.”
UKHospitality urges lobbying of MPs to keep reduced rate of VAT for hospitality:
Trade group UKHospitality has urged operators to write to their MPs and demand hospitality be allowed to stay at the reduced VAT rate of 12.5%. To support the sector during the pandemic, the government introduced an initial reduced rate of 5% in July 2020, which was increased to 12.5% in October 2021. But Downing Street plans to increase this to 20% in April 2022, which UKHospitality insists will put fresh pressures on business suffering from covid-enforced restriction to trade over the festive season. “As you will be acutely aware, inflationary pressures coupled with increasing VAT will damage business viability as higher prices will deter customers and erode margins; and it will damage economic growth and further contribute to inflation at the national level,” a statement read. “It is therefore critical that the government extends the reduced rate of VAT until at least the end of 2022.” UKHospitality added that hospitality lost more than £100m in sales during the first 15 months of the pandemic and had to shed 600,000 jobs, while omicron set the sector’s recovery back by up to six months. It went on to say that December saw up to £3bn in lost sales, leaving a large portion of business with little or no cash reserves, and that the sector has racked up £8.5bn in rent, bank and government debts. UKHospitality has prepared a template letter, which can be accessed here
. It has also extended the deadline for its new year trading survey, which can be accessed here
, until 5pm on Wednesday (19 January). UKHospitality are keen to use the data to give ministers an up-to-date view of trading as it seeks government support.
Four-day working week pilot launched in UK: A six-month trial period of a four-day working week has been launched across the UK. The Metro reports some 30 British companies are expected to take part in the pilot, which will see no loss in pay for employees working one fewer day a week. Instead, they will be asked to maintain 100% productivity for 80% of their time. The pilot has been launched by 4 Day Week Global in partnership with think tank Autonomy, the 4 Day Week UK Campaign and researchers at Cambridge University, Oxford University and Boston College. Joe O’Connor, pilot programme manager for 4 Day Week Global, said: “More and more businesses are moving to productivity focused strategies to enable them to reduce worker hours without reducing pay. We are excited by the growing momentum and interest in our pilot program and in the four-day week more broadly. The four-day week challenges the current model of work and helps companies move away from simply measuring how long people are ‘at work’, to a sharper focus on the output being produced. 2022 will be the year that heralds in this bold new future of work.” The UK pilot will run alongside other trials across the US, Ireland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Researchers will work with each organisation to measure the impact on productivity, the wellbeing of workers and the impact on the environment and gender equality.
Antony Worrall Thompson insists he is not against vaccinations but keeps anti-vax group sign in pub window: Celebrity chef Antony Worrall Thompson confirmed he has kept a sign made by an anti-vax group in his Oxfordshire pub’s window but insists he is not against vaccines himself. The sign, in the window of The Greyhound in the village of Rotherfield Peppard, reads: “We do not discriminate. Race, gender, age, disability, vaccinated or unvaccinated. Everyone equal here. Everyone welcome.” Worrall Thompson, who is triple vaccinated, told the Oxford Mail: “The sign is still up but we deleted who it came from when we realised who they were, and they were anti-vax. I’m not anti-vax, I’m anti-discrimination. It’s absolutely nothing about anti vax – 90% of the people we’ve had in have in have been in support of it. We have had a huge amount of bookings from it, I can’t say it’s gone down badly. Considering it’s January, we’ve been really chuffed – we’ve had one of our best weeks since pre-Christmas. I do support protecting the NHS, but not making people put things in their body if they do not want to. I feel it’s time to move on now, Omicron is not as bad as we thought it was. Everyone’s entitled to make their own choices, I don’t think it’s irresponsible at all. You know you have the choice – freedom of choice to get vaccinated, freedom of choice to come to The Greyhound.” Worrall Thompson also operates a new pop-up bistro restaurant, Grill off the Green, in Kew, west London, which was formerly Kew Grill.
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a client to recruit a head of Sustainability for the EMEA region. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “The role will require leading the sustainability team across Europe, which will be a team of circa 40 to 50 by the end of 2022, and driving focus on areas such as the environmental, social and governance strategy, climate risk mitigation, EU green taxonomy and asset decarbonisation. The second element to this role requires being the face of the business on all matters relating to sustainability, including at events, conferences and in the media. The candidate needs to be someone with presence and knowledge of the sector.” For more information on this role and to apply, send an updated CV to Sheila@corecruitment.com
Inn Collection Group surpasses 2022 portfolio target and secures £42m to support future growth: Inn Collection Group has surpassed its 2022 portfolio target and secured a £42m loan from OakNorth to refurbish 13 of its sites and support continued redevelopment of the 26-strong portfolio. The Black Swan in Helmsley and The Pheasant Inn in Bassenthwaite are two properties funded via the OakNorth capital that have now reopened after refurbishments. Established in 2006, Inn Collection Group provides accommodation, food and drink at its sites across Northumberland, County Durham, the Lake District, Tyne and Wear and Wales. The business is backed by private equity firm Alchemy Partners. In 2019, with equity capital from Alchemy and debt capital from OakNorth Bank, the Inn Collection Group set out to grow from 271 rooms across nine sites to almost 900 across 21 by 2022. However, it has managed to exceed this target with a portfolio that’s grown to more than 1,000 rooms across 26 sites, including its first in Wales, in the heart of the Snowdonia National Park. It’s keen to capitalise on the staycation trend and so is refurbishing 13 of its sites and continuing to develop the current property portfolio. Sean Donkin, managing director of Inn Collection Group, said: “Covid has of course been hugely challenging for the sector, but as with any good business, we’ve tried to find opportunity in times of turmoil. That is why we are keen to continue developing our portfolio with sites that fit with our proposition of providing high-quality accommodation, service, food and beverages.”
Surf park operator eyes six new sites in planned £200m expansion: A surf park operator that was forced to close soon after launching its debut site due to the pandemic has announced £200m expansion plans, which could take in up to six new sites. The Wave opened its first facility in Bristol in 2019 but has endured a stop-start existence through various lockdowns and restrictions. Despite this, it managed to attract around 200,000 visitors in 2021, with more than 300,000 customers to date. It plans to begin construction on its second site in Enfield, north London, next year, followed by further sites in the Peak District and Ireland over the over the next five to seven years. More could then follow in other parts of the UK, and even on the continent, if they prove successful. Craig Stoddard, The Wave’s chief executive, said demand had been growing for inland surf facilities and told The Telegraph he believes more than 100 surf parks will open around the world in the coming years as their popularity increases. The Wave’s technology is licensed from Wavegarden, a company based in Spain, and the firm recently signed a £2m deal that gives it exclusivity in most of southern England, the Peak District and both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Using machinery and computer software, The Wave’s parks can generate artificial waves in 650ft-wide lakes that can be tailored by frequency or size. Up to 1,000 waves an hour, reaching a height of more than seven feet, can be generated, meaning surfers can practice without having to wait on a beach for the perfect wave. Stoddard said: “What you do not get often on British beaches is world-class waves, but our park can literally serve them up every day.” The company had to furlough almost all its staff to survive the pandemic but is now optimistic about the future, Stoddard added. Beginner lessons lasting 90 minutes start at £50 at the Bristol park.
JW Lees reports first sales growth since ‘Plan B’ restrictions began: Manchester-based brewer and retailer JW Lees has reported its first growth in sales since “Plan B” restrictions were introduced. Managing director William Lees-Jones tweeted: Trade starting to come back as consumer confidence grows, with Friday/Saturday/Sunday up 4%/6%/7% on 2020 after a slow start to the week (first growth since ‘Plan B’) – food doing better than drink but business travel and Wales sites still struggling. We’re on the way back up.”
EL&N makes Dubai debut, plans Saudi Arabia launch: High-class cafe brand EL&N, which last summer made its international debut in the Middle East, has opened its first site in Dubai. The group has opened a site, its 14th in total, at the Dubai International Financial Centre. Last summer, the business opened its first international site in the Galleria Mall, in Qatar. It followed this with an opening in Kuwait. Propel understands the company plans to open in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia later this year. Last September, the company opened its first site in France, in the upmarket French department store chain Galeries Lafayette’s flagship store in Boulevard Haussman, Paris. In the UK, it most recently opened its first airport-based site, at Heathrow. Last year, the business appointed Michael Logos, formerly chief executive of Presman & Colard, the UK and UAE-based franchise and licensing consultancy, as its new group managing director.
Essex-based Baker Hospitality to open third site: Essex-based Baker Hospitality, owned by Piers Baker, will open its third site in the spring. The company will relaunch The White Hart Inn on Mersea Island as a pub with restaurant and rooms, adding to its other properties – Dedham’s The Sun Inn and Colchester bar and restaurant Church Street Tavern. The White Hart Inn, which has been closed since 2013, will benefit from a partial rebuild and major refurbishment including a bar, dining room and open kitchen plus lounge with an open fire, outdoor seating in a terraced garden and six individually designed en-suite bedrooms, some with sea views. The regularly changing menu will be a mix of casual bar food along with a restaurant menu using local ingredients. There will be roasts on Sunday and options for kids. On the bar, there’ll be real ale, craft lager and cider, non-alcoholic options and a wine list similar to that at its sister venues. Baker said: “If someone told me back in March 2020 that I’d be opening a new, third venture in spring 2022, I would never have believed them! The turmoil of the covid-19 pandemic, with subsequent trials and tribulations of lockdowns, reopenings, restrictions and more lockdowns, made it impossible to look too far ahead. But when local businessman Lee Tyler, landlord of the White Hart Inn, approached me and was keen to work with Baker Hospitality on the basis of our reputation and local networks, I could immediately see the opportunity the site offered.” The pub is expected to open around late-May.
Steve Pilling to launch Italian restaurant Matterello in Manchester: North west-based restaurateur Steve Pilling is to launch a new luxury Italian restaurant called Matterello in Manchester. Pilling has agreed a 15-year deal with landlord Peel L&P on a 2,454 square-foot unit in Trafford Palazzo, formerly Barton Square, part of Trafford City, for the new venture, which will also offer on-site pasta making classes. Pilling, of the Northern Restaurants Group, which also operates the likes of The Dockyard at Media City and the Roost rotisserie restaurants in Heaton Moor and Wilmslow, said: “Trafford Palazzo provides a wonderful backdrop to launch our new concept. Matterello aims to be famous for its contemporary Italian cuisine with traditional values, inspired by the palette of Southern Italy, which will also include pasta-making courses alongside the food and beverage offering.”
SpiceBox closes crowdfunding campaign for third site after raising more than £360,000: London-based vegan curry house concept SpiceBox, which started out five years ago as a street food stall, has closed its campaign on crowdfunding platform Seedrs to open a third site after raising more than £360,000. Founder Grace Regan opened her first SpiceBox site in Walthamstow in 2019, followed by a second, in Leytonstone, in October last year. The third site will be in south east London, although an exact location has not yet been revealed. The company was looking to raise £350,000 and was offering 7.57% equity for the investment, giving a pre-money valuation of £4.3m. It has now closed the campaign with £361,564 being raised from 351 investors. Regan told Propel at the time of the fundraise launch: “We saw some good growth over covid, and our newly opened Leytonstone site has gotten off to a great start. Our new site presents a fantastic opportunity – I couldn’t be more excited for the future of SpiceBox.”
Chicken wings restaurant concept Wing Trapp to open in Birmingham for second site, pipeline lined up in Midlands: Chicken wings restaurant concept Wing Trapp is set to open its second site, in Birmingham – and has a pipeline of franchise outlets lined up in the Midlands. The opening follows the launch of the concept in Leicester more than three and a half years ago. Property agents Creative Retail and Bond Wolfe have let 2,048 square feet at 37a Great Charles Queensway in Birmingham to Great Charles Street, trading as Wing Trapp, on behalf of landlord Real Estate Investors. Wing Trapp director Sapphire Carter said the new Birmingham franchise would open mid-March and it had several other franchise outlets in the pipeline across the Midlands. “We are excited about opening in Birmingham as we believe that Wing Trapp, with its freshly prepared gourmet wings, fills a much-needed gap in the city’s exciting food offering,” she said. “Our new venture is in a prime location, and with the accelerating return of office workers and the growing number of people moving into the city’s new apartments and townhouses, it is a great time to be launching our first franchise.” Wing Trapp has signed a ten-year lease to occupy the part-ground floor and part-basement space. Robertson Brown acted for the tenants.
Red Dog Saloon team opens second Shebang site: The team behind barbecue restaurant brand Red Dog Saloon has opened a second site under its Indian and Turkish street food concept Shebang. Launched in Nottingham in September 2019, the Tom Brooke-led company has now launched a further site under the concept, which offers a fusion of Indian and Turkish cuisine, above its Red Dog Saloon site in Liverpool’s Bold Street. Zsolt Zahorecz, general manager of both Red Dog Saloon and Shebang, told the Liverpool Echo: “Red Dog Saloon has been very popular since opening in 2017, but the upstairs was really only used for private parties. To have a new restaurant concept there now is really exciting, and there’s nothing quite like it in the city. Shebang has gone down a storm in Nottingham, so we’re looking forward to introducing it to the people of Liverpool. The official launch has been delayed due to the pandemic, but now we’re open and we can’t wait to show people some of these incredible dishes.” The company currently operates five Red Dog Saloon sites in Liverpool, Nottingham, Soho, Hoxton Square and Southampton.
Food delivery marketplace Cook My Grub eyes £1.5m boost for UK expansion: Food delivery marketplace Cook My Grub is embarking on its next funding round, eyeing a £1.5m boost. The platform allows home chefs to develop personal profiles before preparing healthy meals that are delivered to their locals’ doors. It has provided a new source of income for those in the food industry who have been hit hard over the last two years. With the aim of reaching a £3m gross merchandise value before the end of 2022, the next phase of growth will see some of the best home cooks from across the country aggregated by the company, providing them with expert training, more opportunities to earn and new career prospects. Having exceeded its initial fundraising target by 150% in just four weeks 12 months ago, the Maidenhead business is now seeking to raise £1.5m through a combination of venture capital, high net worth individuals, private and angel investors. After initial funds were used to invest in technology and build the sales, marketing and operations teams, Cook My Grub saw customer growth of more than 250% last year. Funds from the next raise will be utilised to rapidly build Cook My Grub’s presence across the whole of the UK through operational upgrades, investment in technology and increased marketing spend. Founders Dinesh Patil and Shabbir Mookhtiar said: “We expect to welcome an extra 200 chefs on to our platform next year – we are putting our efforts into helping up-and-coming as well as established chefs get back into the world of work, building their reputations and helping them make a living out of their passion for cooking.”
Cheshire operators take on second pub with Greene King Pub Partners: A couple who have successfully run The Wellington pub in Bebington have taken on a second Cheshire site with Greene King Pub Partners. Tenants Marc Edmunds and Jess Bennett have relaunched The Red Lion in Parkgate following a joint £250,000 investment with owners Greene King. The renovations have included a new kitchen so a new menu of pub classics can be served, while a larger drinks range, including “proper coffee”, has been added alongside the pub’s four cask ale hand pubs. Edmunds said: “This pub has such a standout location and looks beautiful now inside and out. We have lots of tourism here, so we are really looking forward to welcoming back the local community and visitors alike.” Peter Cunningham, business development manager for Greene King Pub Partners, added: “The Red Lion is in safe hands with Marc and Jess at its helm. They know what makes a pub great and how to become central to the community, and we wish them every success in this new venture.” Greene King Pub Partners operates more than 1,000 pubs across the UK.”