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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Tue 1st Feb 2022 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Chesser – the government cannot sit by and expect the labour shortage issue to fix itself, sizeable number of pubs shut at least one day a week: The government cannot sit by and expect the labour shortage issue to fix itself, Clive Chesser, chief executive of Fortress Investment Group-backed Punch Pubs & Co, has told Propel. Chesser revealed Punch still has a sizable number of pubs closed at least one day a week due to the lack of labour supply, “a crisis, exacerbated by a combination of covid and Brexit”. He said: “Worryingly, I do not yet see a strategic response in this regard. The government cannot sit by and expect it to fix itself. We all need to work even harder, finding a long-term solution to remedy the problem and make the sector a more appealing career choice.” Chesser warned there are also “the present and looming cost pressures; labour costs, energy prices as well as food and drink, to be compounded in April with the planned hike in VAT”. He said: “The government must continue to work with the sector to address these challenges and provide support in a permanent manner, such as a lower VAT rate for food and drink sales in pubs, a fundamental reform of the business rates system, alongside a bolder, deeper and quicker draught beer relief policy. These changes would enable us to play a full part in the nation’s economic recovery while supporting the government’s levelling-up aspirations.” Chesser said the crisis still has a long way to run “before we reach a “new normal” and we all have to continue to be “agile and adapt to whatever challenges are thrown at us”. He added: “It manifests itself directly with covid outbreaks and trading restrictions, but also indirectly through the economic turbulence that is already a real factor in consumer behaviour and in our profits and losses. I am confident turnover will bounce back strongly, with pent-up demand evident. However, cost control and profit conversion will be a challenge for the foreseeable future.”

Industry News:

Several London-based hotels to feature in the sixth edition of The New Openings Database, 26,100-word report included: A number of London-based hotels will be featured in the sixth edition of The New Openings Database, which is produced in association with StarStock. The database will show the details of 495 newly announced site openings and upcoming launches for Premium subscribers when it is published on Friday (4 February), at midday. The database, which is published monthly, shows the details of which company has opened a site or its plans to open one in the future. It will have details on what type of site it is and its location. There will also be a website link to the businesses so you can find out more about them. This edition of the database features CitizenM London Victoria, which will be launched early this year by Amsterdam-based hotel operator CitizenM, and Hyatt Regency London Stratford and Hyatt House London Stratford, part of Hyatt hotel group, which will open in the second quarter of this year. Also included this month is Lore Group’s One Hundred Shoreditch hotel, which will open next month, boasting six restaurants, 258 bedrooms and suites. Premium subscribers will also receive a 26,100-word report on the new additions to the database and access to two other databases. The Propel Multi-Site Database, which is produced in association with Virgate, was sent to Premium subscribers last Friday (28 January). The database contained 87 new companies, bringing the total number of businesses listed to 2,293. The 918 sites run by those 87 new additions means the entire database of sites has reached 63,489 sites. Premium subscribers also received a 6,500-word report on the new businesses added. The go-to database 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. In a new feature this year, there is a synopsis of what the business does and significant news associated with it. Premium subscribers also receive the Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which is produced in association with Mapal Group. The Blue Book, which is also updated every month, 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; regular video content and regular exclusive columns from Propel group 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 single subscription rate is £445 plus VAT for operators and £545 plus VAT for suppliers. Email to upgrade your subscription

Marks – we are seeing a gradual return rather than a bursting of the dam: Peter Marks, chief executive of Rekom UK, has told Propel the nightclub operator has seen a gradual return of trade since “Plan B” restrictions were lifted in England last week rather “than a bursting of the dam”. He said: “Business is definitely looking like it is back to normal, albeit still not quite the levels we were seeing when we first reopened after Freedom Day of 19 July 2021. But I do see a gradual return rather than a bursting of the dam. Of significance, of course, for us is that Wales and Scotland are back. Still with vaccine passports, despite everything. During the last few weeks in England, we have seen vaccine passports putting off customers, who are happier to go into smaller late-night businesses.” Marks revealed the business had “probably seen about 20% displaced” to other venues due to vaccine passports. He said: “I’ve always said it should be about risk assessing venue by venue, not by supposed behaviour type set by some 50-year-old on a committee of behavioural science using their own experience of going to a nightclub 30 years before!” Rob Pitcher, chief executive of Revolution Bars Group, added: “The lifting of the Plan B restrictions has seen an immediate return to much stronger trading over the important payday weekend. Sales in England outperformed the other home nations, where covid passports and other restrictions remain. It has been proven that those restrictions have had absolutely no impact on the spread of the virus, and therefore we need them lifted immediately.” 

Rare Restaurants joins Black and White Hospitality in ongoing business interruption insurance battle: Gaucho owner Rare Restaurants has joined Black and White Hospitality, which owns and manages the franchise rights to Marco Pierre White Restaurants, as it prepares for an arbitration with Tokio Marine. The Japan-based insurance company has, to date, refused to pay up on policies that provided coverage due to enforced closures during the pandemic. The hospitality campaign was launched almost two years ago by Black and White’s in-house lawyer, Rob Atkinson. It led to a successful group action against several insurers that contributed to a Supreme Court decision, hailed as a landmark case in the fight to get insurers to pay out for covid-related business interruption. The original focus in the Tokio Marine case was on the hotel sector, but since launching the campaign, Atkinson came across a host of restaurant businesses in the same predicament, who have since joined. Atkinson said: “Our policy wording, and that of those who have joined the campaign, is very clear. If there is a closure by a statutory body, then the policy should provide coverage. Given that the government ordered us and many others to close, it’s hard to see how there can be any ambiguity around this. Yet, despite rulings from the Supreme Court and Financial Conduct Authority, our insurers continue to play games. We are left with no other choice but to press on with arbitration. We have grouped together with other policy holders across the UK and are ready to take this as far as we need to. It’s great that such a high-profile and well-respected business as Gaucho has joined the campaign and gives added strength to our fight. Businesses like Gaucho and Black and White Hospitality took out policies in good faith, so it’s very disappointing that Tokio Marine are still prepared to take this stance, almost two years after covid-19 had such a devastating impact on the hospitality sector.” This follows London-based restaurant group Corbin & King taking AXA to court over similar issues.

Service standards slipped during pandemic, survey reveals: Almost two thirds of consumers (61%) believe service standards within the industry have fallen during the pandemic, according to a survey by customer feedback platform HGEM. The main issues have been quality (43%) and speed (32%) of service. The survey also points out that three out of four customers (71%) would be more lenient about service mishaps if they knew the venue was actively trying to recruit more staff. However, they would expect results by their next visit, as 67% suggested they would not accept recruitment-related excuses for poor service a second time. For venues struggling with staffing levels, 51% of customers polled would be happy to accept a reduced number of tables or serving area as a short-term solution. A third would be happy to order from a reduced menu, and 13% would prefer the venue to operate on reduced hours. A small percentage (5%) also believe a venue should “power through it” and not use any temporary measures to help alleviate staffing pressures.

Don’t ditch junk food curbs, plead health chiefs: Plans to water down anti-obesity regulations have caused alarm among leading health organisations. The anti-obesity strategy announced by the government in 2020 included plans to ban the display of unhealthy snacks and drinks at checkouts in England this year, and to limit the use of “buy one, get one free” offers. The rules would have also applied to websites, restricting their ability to promote unhealthy foods, and included plans to ban the advertising of junk foods before the 9pm watershed. Last week, it was reported prime minister Boris Johnson was planning to drop the plans to placate MPs already angered by the stories about Downing Street parties during lockdown. Writing in a letter to The Times, senior representatives of the British Heart Foundation, the British Medical Association, Cancer Research UK and the Royal College of Physicians said doing so would imperil the nation’s health.

Young bounce back into work after lockdowns: Youth unemployment is now at lower levels than before the pandemic, The Times reports. A report by think tank Resolution Foundation said the unemployment rate for 18 to 24-year-olds fell to 9.8% in the three months to November, below the pre-pandemic unemployment rate of 10.5%. This rebound was despite one in three young people who had been working in February 2020 experiencing at least three months of worklessness, although furlough support kept them out of unemployment. However, while young people returned rapidly to work as shops, restaurants and bars reopened, the foundation warned they were now more likely to be on a temporary or zero-hours contract, doing agency work or variable hours. According to the foundation’s survey of 6,100 young adults, one in three of those who had returned to work were employed on insecure terms, compared with 12% before covid hit. Furthermore, one in four of those who had returned to work were looking for a new job, compared with 19% of those who were in work throughout the past two years. While youth unemployment had not increased during the pandemic, the number of 18 to 24-year-olds who were economically inactive and not in full-time study had risen, especially among young men – increasing by 47,000 compared with spring 2021.

Job of the day: COREcruitment has partnered with a cafe and restaurant concept in London that is hiring a marketing director. The business has recently secured extensive funding and has big plans for growth in 2022. It has fewer than ten sites in the UK but has started to expand internationally and is developing its partnerships and franchise agreements to continue expanding abroad. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “The company is looking for a confident, experienced director of marketing who can come on board and hit the ground running. This role focuses on implementing marketing strategy for the existing business as well as developing strong relationships and strategies in collaboration with brand partners. The role would suit a well-rounded marketing expert who has good general and digital skills and an innovative approach. While the company is small, it has the backing of major investors and a management team of very established operators, so experience in both a growing business, as well as some corporate experience, would be ideal.” The circa £70,000 role is London-based, but some international travel may be required. For more information and to apply, email

Company News:

Coffi Lab builds openings pipeline, eyes 15 sites by end of 2022: Coffi Lab, the new concept form James Shapland, the co-founder of Caffe Nero-owned brand Coffee#1, has lined up a further two openings in Cardiff as it looks to grow its four-strong estate to 15 sites by the end of this year, Propel has learned. The company, which opened its fourth site last November in Cardiff’s Llandaff High Street, will open its next one on 26 February in the Whitchurch area of the Welsh capital. It will follow this up with openings in the Rhiwbina and Llanishen areas of Cardiff. Last September, Shapland told Propel that Coffi Lab was planning to open 50 sites over the next five years. Sites in Malvern, Chepstow, Ledbury and Bristol are also being targeted, with the company working with property firm EJ Hales on its pipeline. Shapland co-founded Coffee#1 in 2000 and went on to grow it to 15 sites across Wales and the south west, with an annual turnover of £5m a year, before selling it for an undisclosed sum to Welsh brewer and retailer SA Brain in 2011. He launched Coffi Lab last year in Monmouth, with further sites following in the summer in Marlborough and Abergavenny.

Franco Manca to open second Greece site: Franco Manca, the Fulham Shore-owned pizza brand, is opening its second site in Greece. The David Page-chaired business is doubling up in Athens, this time in the suburb of Peristeri. It follows a franchise agreement signed last year with James Ravano, a Greek who spent 20 years working for PizzaExpress and Zizzi. Ravano has plans for a minimum of six restaurants to be opened over the next three years in the country. Propel revealed last year that Fulham Shore had also signed heads of terms to launch its Franco Manca brand in Switzerland and is in talks to take the pizza concept and its sister format, The Real Greek, to the Middle East. Fulham Shore currently operates 57 Franco Manca outlets and 21 Real Greeks in the UK, and said in December it had another 21 potential sites in solicitors’ hands for both concepts. As part of its opening pipeline, Franco Manca is understood to have secured the former Bill’s restaurant in North Street in Bishop’s Stortford, while it has also applied to open a restaurant in Cardiff’s Church Street, on the former site of the Cornish Bakehouse.

Diageo to invest £73m in Guinness brewery in Covent Garden: Diageo has unveiled plans to build a £73m Guinness microbrewery and culture hub in London, which it said will be a boost for Britain's hospitality industry in the aftermath of the pandemic. The company said Guinness at Old Brewer’s Yard – a 50,000 square foot venue in Covent Garden – will create up to 150 jobs to support the brewery, as well as training 100 bartenders each year. The new site, which will become the southern UK hub of Diageo’s Learning for Life Bartending and Hospitality Programme, will include a microbrewery, event spaces, a central covered courtyard, a Guinness store, an open-fire kitchen, restaurant and 360-degrees glass rooftop space. The site will cover locations linking Mercer Walk, Langley Street, Neal Street and Shelton Street and is expected to open in autumn 2023. Diageo said the move demonstrated its confidence in London and the UK as a go-to destination for tourists. Dayalan Nayager, the managing director for Diageo Great Britain, said: “Guinness at Old Brewer’s Yard will strengthen London’s hospitality community. Coming out of the pandemic, the long-term vitality of the trade will be significantly helped by the alcohol duty review and continued freezes in duty.” The company said Guinness sales in Great Britain have grown by more than 30% in the last six months and one in every ten pints sold in London is now a Guinness. Rob Abernethy, chief executive of the Mercers’ Company, which is the landlord, added: “We have worked closely with Diageo to develop proposals that will restore Old Brewer’s Yard’s historic origins in a contemporary context. The significant level of investment is a major boost to London’s recovering economy and will provide a one-of-a-kind immersive experience.”

Island Poke appoints Mark Cromer as FD: Island Poké, the London-based White Rabbit Projects and Hero Brands-backed business, has appointed Mark Comer, formerly of Loungers, as its new finance director as it embarks on a “period of huge growth”. Cromer spent five years at Loungers as its commercial finance director and has an extensive background within mergers and acquisitions in the retail and hospitality sector following eight years at PwC. He joins as Island Poké gets set to embark on its biggest growth ambition yet, with plans to open 100 locations across the UK in the next five years. The brand currently has 18 sites in London and nine in France, and it plans including four new restaurants in Edinburgh over the next two years, plus a new partnership with dark-kitchen operator Reef. Propel understands that the company has lined up an opening in Bicester Village and is in the design phase on a few other out-of-town sites. Island Poké founder James Gould-Porter said: “We are delighted to welcome Mark to the team. I admire the work he has done with Loungers and his expertise will be a key asset as we forge ahead with our mission to grow our ohana across London and beyond.” Comer added: “I am excited to be joining Island Poké at such a key phase in its growth strategy. It is an incredible brand and I am looking forward to using my experience and insight to grow their reach across the UK and beyond.”

Burhill Group lodges plans for fourth Ninja Warrior UK site, in Swansea: Burhill Group, owner and operator of 22 golf courses across ten UK golf clubs as well as ten Adventure Leisure facilities, is eyeing its fourth Ninja Warrior UK site, in Swansea. In a proposal lodged by CDN Planning on behalf of the applicant, approval is sought to change the use of a vacant retail unit in Parc Tawe. Inspired by the Ninja Warrior UK television show, the 20,000 square-foot unit will allow visitors to jump, climb, balance and swing across various obstacles using ninja skills. A mezzanine floor will also provide a cafe and kitchen plus five private party rooms, reports Insider Media. In May last year, Burhill Group became an officially licensed operator of two of ITV’s Ninja Warrior UK adventure parks in England. The appointment saw Burhill Group and Adventure Leisure take over operations at the Ninja Warrior UK venue in Sheffield, as well as the facility in Southampton, with an agreement in principle to develop three new sites per year over the initial five-year partnership period. Burhill Group has since opened a site in Leeds. As part of the deal, it will also explore opportunities to license other ITV Studios programme brands. There are currently 14 Ninja Warrior UK sites.

One Aldwych raises £1.3m from shareholders to help combat effects of pandemic: London-based independent luxury hotel One Aldwych has been given £1.3m in additional funding from its shareholders to help battle the effects of the pandemic. The sum was paid in the period following its most recent results, which have just been published with Companies House. These show a pre-tax loss of £5.6m for the year ending 31 March 2021, compared with £6.3m the previous year. In the same period, its turnover plummeted from £9m in 2020 to just £503,000. Noting that the hotel trade was “among the hardest hit” by the pandemic, the company made use of government support schemes by placing 170 staff on furlough and claiming £2.3m in wages under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. The 86-bedroom and 16-suite hotel, which opened in a former newspaper office in 1998, underwent a refurbishment three years ago which saw both its bar and restaurant remodelled.

Canada-based concept Delicious Pho launches debut UK site after delay: Canada-based Vietnamese concept Delicious Pho has made its UK debut following a delay due to the pandemic. The concept, which was founded by Chau Tran, has opened on the former Byron site in Steward Street in London’s Spitalfields. The restaurant, which had been due to originally launch in August, offers more than ten variations of the traditional Vietnamese dish, using local ingredients sourced daily from Spitalfields Market. Chau moved to Canada in 1992 and worked as a chef in numerous Vietnamese restaurants before embarking on her own solo venture. She opened her first restaurant in 2003 and now oversees 12 restaurants throughout Canada.

Fridays partners with Illy for new coffee menu: Fridays, part of newly listed Hostmore, has partnered with coffee brand Illy for a range of 12 new Italian coffees at every Fridays UK location, following a trial at selected restaurants. The new drinks include café Viennese, cappuccino Viennese, Irish coffee and black forest hot chocolate plus vanilla, salted caramel, chocolate orange and almond espresso martinis.  They will be available throughout the day to drink in or for takeaway and delivery at most locations. Alyson Scott, Fridays procurement and supply chain director, said: “Illy are the connoisseurs of coffee and we are delighted to be adding this fantastic premium range of coffees and espresso martinis to our new and improved drinks menu.” Julian Hollis, national accounts manager at Illy, added: “Having recently become the first Italian coffee brand to secure a BCorp credential, it is these larger partnerships in the UK that will allow us to spread the word of our ethical supply chain.”

SFG Club confirms second site under Birdies concept: SFG Club, which operates competitive socialising venue Roof East in Stratford, east London, has confirmed a second site in the capital under its crazy golf experience, street food eatery and cocktail bar concept Birdies. As previously revealed by Propel, Birdies will open the venue at Angel Central in Islington. The concept has agreed a deal with CBRE Investment Management to take on the former JD Wetherspoon site, The Glassworks. The 5,558 square foot venue will launch in the summer. Birdies will also street food and a cocktail menu as it builds on its site that opened in Battersea in 2019. Neil Garner, creative director at Birdies, said: “It’s a huge milestone for us. Angel Central provides the perfect space and proximity to increase our exposure and awareness throughout the capital.” CBRE and CWM represent Angel Central for both retail and leisure enquiries.
Erich Ribeiro to launch new plant-based restaurant venture: Erich Ribeiro, who was behind Covent Garden plant-based restaurant Redemption Bar that shut in September due to the pandemic, is returning with a new venture in the capital. Ribeiro is launching plant-based pasta restaurant Punk Pasta at the Brunswick centre in Bloomsbury this spring. The egg-free pasta restaurant will include pasta infused with matcha, hemp pesto, vegan chocolate cake and CBD infused cocktails, according to a post on Instagram.

Flor permanently closes Borough Market site: Flor, the restaurant-turned-bakery and wine shop in London’s Borough Market from Lyle’s James Lowe and John Ogier, has shut permanently. The site in Bedale Street opened in the summer of 2019 and was repositioned as a bakery and wine shop last October. Flor Bakery at Spa Terminus in Bermondsey, which launched in December, will continue to trade, overseen by pastry chef Helen Evans. In an Instagram post, Lowe said: "We’re terribly sad to close, but we are very excited to see how Flor Bakery develops.” Flor was launched in partnership with JKS Restaurants, which also owns Michelin-starred Trishna in Marylebone and Indian restaurant and bar Brigadiers in the City. Kit also backs Michelin-starred Kitchen Table and Sabor, as well as the Bao and Hopper concepts. In a separate Instagram post, JKS said: “The site at 1 Bedale Street remains within the JKS family – stay tuned for updates very soon.”

Cawley Hotels & Restaurants stays profitable through pandemic thanks to government support, looking to expand: Cawley Hotels & Restaurants, operators of five venues across the west coast of Scotland, stayed profitable through the pandemic thanks to support from the government. Its results for the year ending 31 April 2021 showed that although turnover was down 48% from £6.7m in 2020 to £3.5m, the group took advantage of government grants to the tune of £2.8m to post a pre-tax profit of £383,000, down from £774,000 in 2020. Owners Bobby and Margaret Cawley started out with Loch Lomond’s Duck Bay Hotel in 1985 and have since added Broadwalk in Falkirk, River House in Stirling, Coast in Langbank and The Loch House in Lochwinnoch to their portfolio. The Loch House is currently being refurbished and is due to open this spring under a new name and concept. It also used to operate the House of Darrach retail and restaurant destination, formerly the Hungry Monk, in Gartocham, which closed in June 2021. The site is now being repurposed as a staff training centre and central kitchen with events space. The business is also looking to expand, with group manager Stuart King telling Scottish Licensed Trade News: “Business has been great since we reopened, and we’re on the lookout for another outlet. It’s got to be the right outlet for us, we’re not going to expand for the sake of it.” Of the Loch House renovation, King said: “It’s a full rebrand – a new name, a new identity and it will pull in a whole new market”, and of the new Gartocham facility, he added: “The training area will be great, and having a central production kitchen will streamline things and give us greater control and consistency.”

Approval given for £125m Eden Project North: A development of a new £125m Eden Project North in Morecambe has moved a step closer after the plans were approved by Lancaster City Council. Councillors unanimously approved the proposals, saying it would help transform what is one of the UK’s most deprived coastal areas by bringing in more than 760,000 visitors every year and generating £47m annually for the local economy. Situated on the former site of the Bubbles leisure complex, the new project will be like the Eden Project in Cornwall, with four shell-like domes surrounded by outdoor gardens. The domes will have hundreds of plants and fauna inside, as well as theatrical experiences and education programmes for kids and adults. Also housed at the new Eden Project will be two restaurants with both indoor and outdoor seating and views of Morecambe Bay. The team behind the project is still working on securing funding and, in September, submitted a business case to the government for £70m of public investment toward the £125m project. David Harland, chief executive of Eden Project International, said: “The project is now definitively shovel-ready and a compelling financial case has been made to the government. We are primed and ready to create this beacon to a green and sustainable future, be part of ‘levelling up’ and drive economic and social enhancements across the region. While we are incredibly proud of what we and our partners have achieved so far, we now need UK government support to quickly bring this to fruition and maintain momentum.”

Camerons strengthens vegan range at Head of Steam pubs: North east-based brewer and pub operator Camerons Brewery has continued to develop the range of vegan options at its managed pub group The Head of Steam, as part of a new menu launch for 2022. Nine of The Head of Steam venues that serve food have increased their vegan options, and this now accounts for 50% of the meal choices on the menu. Vegan alternatives of its kebabs, burgers, pizzas and desserts are now available to order alongside several vegan friendly beers. Mark Connor, head of operations and brand at The Head of Steam, said: “We have been working hard with our suppliers and our head of food development, Andy Cherry, to increase our vegan options over the last few years. This has been driven by a huge demand for vegan food and drink options from our customers.” The new menu is available to sample in the Birmingham, Cardiff, Durham, Headingley, Hull, Leeds Park Row, Liverpool, Quayside and Sheffield venues.

Plans revealed for £80m leisure complex development in Sunderland: Plans for an £80m leisure development have been unveiled for Sunderland city centre, which will include an indoor arena, food hall, restaurants and a hotel. Sunderland City Council has outlined plans for the former Crowtree Leisure Centre site, which will be anchored by a new 10,000 capacity arena. The authority said it is in talks with a range of partners to deliver the project. The project has already attracted more than £20m in funding from the city council and the government and will move into advanced design stages as and when the city’s cabinet signs off the proposed budget. The arena forms part of the council’s successful bid to the government’s Future High Street Fund, which is earmarked to enable the demolition of the remains of the former leisure centre and undertake associated works to accelerate the plans. The development will be subject to a long-term lease agreement with a leisure operator, the income from which will recoup the council’s initial investment.

Merlin appoints Aramark as F&B partner: Merlin Entertainments has appointed Aramark as its food and beverage partner for five locations in the UK and two in the US. The locations for the multi-year contract are Alton Towers, Chessington World of Adventures, Thorpe Park, Warwick Castle and Legoland Windsor in the UK, and the Legoland resorts in California and Florida. Each resort and hotel will have its own portfolio of food and beverage offerings based on the personality of the location. Food and beverage operations at the respective attractions will begin to operate under Aramark from March this year in the UK, with the transfer expected to complete by the end of March 2023 in the US. “Building an innovative and high-quality food and beverage offering for our guests is part of our continued business strategy to deliver the very best guest days out and short breaks.” said Nick Varney, chief executive of Merlin Entertainments. 

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