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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Tue 8th Feb 2022 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Hospitality and leisure spending slips into decline after five consecutive months of growth: Overall spending in hospitality and leisure slipped into decline in January compared with last year – falling 6.3% – after five consecutive months of growth, according to the latest research from Barclaycard. The data showed the decline in restaurant spending continued to worsen (minus 17.5% in January, compared with minus 14.1% in December). Bars, pubs and clubs saw a smaller month-on-month uplift (up 14.9%, compared with 21.2% in December). However, while hospitality and leisure declined overall, spending remained stable among both 16-24 and 25-34-year-olds (up 0.9% and 0.5% respectively. Overall, consumer spending rose 7.4% in January compared with the same period in 2020 – the smallest uplift since April 2021. A quarter of UK adults (25%) said they are spending more on items and experiences to lift their spirits and stay motivated during the winter months, with 39% of these Brits planning to eat and drink out more often. Almost three in ten (28%) plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day, with this year’s budget set to increase from an average of £63 during lockdown in 2021, to an average of £77 this year. Those celebrating will be looking to spend this increased budget eating out at a restaurant (30%) and buying a gift for their partner, such as chocolates or jewellery (29%). Meanwhile, the colder weather and “Plan B” guidance resulted in strong growth in “insperiences” (up 50%) –including categories such as digital content, subscriptions and fast food. Spending on non-essential items saw noticeably smaller growth in January (6.1%) than in December (11.5%), likely due to the combination of “Plan B” guidance and the continued rise in the cost of living. This comes as almost nine in ten (89%) Brits say they’re concerned about the impact of rising inflation on their household finances, while three in ten (30%) say they expect increasing household bills to affect the amount they spend on discretionary purchases.

Industry News:

28 new companies to be added to next edition of Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book: The next edition of Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book, produced in association with Mapal Group, will include 536 companies, an increase of 31 companies compared with the January edition. The 536 companies produce total turnover of £26.7bn – 196 are in profit and 340 are reporting a loss. The next edition of the Blue Book will be sent to Premium subscribers on Friday, 19 February, at midday. The Blue Book, which is updated every month, provides an insight into UK operator turnover and profitability over five years, profit conversion and directors’ earnings. Premium subscribers also receive two other databases – the New Openings Database, produce in association with StarStock, and the Multi-Site Operators Database, produced in association with Virgate, which are also updated each month. 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 jo.charity@propelinfo.com 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.

Landlords and tenants urged to reach consensual agreements over unpaid rent: Landlords and tenants have been urged to reach consensual agreements over unpaid rent as the moratorium deadline looms if they are to avoid potentially costly and operationally disruptive legal processes. With the commercial rent moratorium set to expire in seven weeks’ time, Will Wright, head of restructuring for Interpath Advisory, said: “Any business which has taken full advantage of the rent moratorium for the past 18 months and which doesn’t engage in direct negotiation with their landlord is likely to have a sizable rent arrears bill to pay, regardless of the arbitration outcome. Crucially, there will be no formal consideration of the circumstances around not opening. Once lockdown restrictions started to ease, many businesses – particularly those in the leisure and hospitality sector – chose not to open straight away. This may have been for sensible reasons, such as a shortage of labour or stock, premises that weren’t able to be made immediately “covid-safe” or where trading wasn’t deemed viable with social distancing restrictions in place. While all may have been valid reasons to remain closed beyond legal restrictions, it appears that none of these will be classed as extenuating circumstances. Additionally, covid-19 opening restrictions varied across the home nations and for a large proportion of 2020, many areas were covered by the patchwork tiers system. For multi-site operators, getting a handle on the relevant time periods for each location could become extremely complex.” Wright said it remains to be seen what the demand for arbitration services will be, but is expected to cost approximately £1,200 per location. He added: “The arbitration process is likely to be bureaucratically complex, operationally disruptive and will likely result in further deterioration of the relationship between tenant and landlord. In an environment where both parties are dealing with labour cost pressures, supply chain issues and maintaining covid-19 measures, this is just another headache both sides should look to ease. For operators, it remains imperative to get on the front foot and engage proactively with landlords. Consensual agreements can encompass a more holistic solution to the complex issues being faced by tenants, resulting in settlements that work in the long-term interests of both parties.”

Beer prices will have to rise, says Cobra founder: The founder of beer brand Cobra has said prices will have to rise because of a “vicious cycle” of cost pressures. Lord Bilimoria said “virtually every business in every sector” is being squeezed by inflation, interest rate rises and tax increases. The Cobra chairman, who is also president of the CBI employers’ group, said the picture had become really challenging for firms and consumers. Lord Bilimoria told BBC 5 Live’s Wake up to Money programme: “Our input costs in every way – bottling, energy – are up. Freight costs have soared, sometimes ten-times. Wages are increasing, and on top of that there are labour shortages. It does mean that businesses have to put up prices, but the consumer is already feeling the squeeze. It is a really challenging situation for everyone.” He declined to say how much bottles of beer would increase, but said price rises “were a necessity”. Lord Bilimoria repeated his opposition to planned tax rises in April. Chancellor Rishi Sunak has come under pressure to scrap a planned increase in national insurance but has vowed the rise will go ahead. “This is completely the wrong time to do this,” Lord Bilimoria added. “It will stifle investment. It will stifle growth.”

Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a London-based food-led hospitality brand that is looking to appoint an international operations director. This will be the first senior hire for this growing business, which is expanding in 2022-2023. With recent investment, the company is expanding into the US and Europe and is looking for a senior director to take ownership of this expansion. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “Working alongside the founder, the company is looking for someone with a pure love for food, who can think outside the box and bring something new to the table, not take themselves too seriously and wants to be involved in a very cool foodie concept. It is essential candidates applying are from a hospitality business.” The role is London-based with extensive travel to Europe and the US, with a salary of up to £120,000. For more information or to arrange a confidential chat, email kate@corecruitment.com
 

Company News:

NQ64 secures London flagship site in Soho: NQ64, the immersive retro arcade bar concept backed by Imbiba, is to make its debut in London later this summer with an opening in Soho, Propel has learned. The six-strong business is to take on the ex-Ballie Ballerson site in Berwick Street for an opening in early summer. At over 6,000 square feet, the Soho site will be the company’s largest to date. Before the launch in Soho, the company will open its second site in Scotland, in Glasgow’s Merchants Square. The business has secured the former Distrikt nightclub site in the city for an opening next month. The company also hopes to open a site in Newcastle’s Pilgrim Street before the end of the year. Last November, co-founder Andy Haygarth told Propel that the business was 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. 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. The David McDowall-chaired business also operates sites in Manchester, Liverpool, Edinburgh and Birmingham. Clinton Ghent joined the business at the start of the year as its new operations director having spent the last 11 years with Revolution Bars Group, most recently as brand operations director for its Revolucion de Cuba brand.

Heart with Smart to open second Itsu franchise site in Edinburgh: The Heart with Smart Group, which is operated by the team behind Pizza Hut Restaurants, will launch its second Itsu franchise site next month, in Edinburgh. The business will launch what will be the healthy Asian food brand’s first site in Scotland, at the St James Quarter development, at the end of March. Itsu opened its first franchise restaurants in the UK last year. The first opened in Reading in partnership with Heart with Smarts, while a second opening, in Leicester, opened with Savvi Dining Group. Propel understands that Hearts with Smarts is looking at a possible third Itsu site in Manchester. Itsu plans to open 100 new outlets, creating 2,000 jobs in the UK alone, within the next five years. Last month, it continued to build its regional pipeline after securing a site in Woking, Surrey. At the end of last year, the business also secured sites in Guildford and Bromley.

Kerb to relaunch Kerb Counter concept to support food entrepreneurs and emerging talents: Street food collective Kerb will relaunch its Kerb Counter concept as an all-day bar and test kitchen in Shoreditch to support budding food entrepreneurs and emerging talents. Opening on Thursday (10 February) at Rivington Studios, the site promises to host “exclusive collaborations, pop-ups and food residencies” as well as a “roster of food entrepreneurs”. The space will launch with a residency by From The Ashes BBQ, a nose-to-tail concept from ex-Temper chefs, born out of lockdown. It will showcase a menu of Mexican-inspired barbecue dishes focused on sharing plates. Kerb Counter initially launched as Kerb’s debut bricks-and-mortar site in Camden Market in 2017, hosting beer pairings, supper clubs and private events as well as evening “trader takeovers”, but has since closed. Alongside the test kitchen will be an all-day bar that will see the development of new cocktails and a rotating range of drinks. Kerb chief executive Simon Mitchell said: “Kerb Counter is an exciting opportunity for Kerb to showcase exactly what we are about. Incubation and acceleration of food entrepreneurs – whether they’re in the Kerb fold or not – is what we formed Kerb to do back in 2012, and it’s still massively important to us today. I’m excited by the roster of talent we’ll be supporting through Kerb Counter.” Walk-ins for drinks and snacks will be available in the upstairs space, with reserved tables for sit-down dining in the main dining room downstairs. The dining element will be open Wednesday to Saturday to give chefs the time off they need, with the cafe open daily for coffee and light bites Monday to Saturday. Nick Garston, of the Found Agency, acted on the deal.

Fridays targets apprentices at every UK site as it launches refreshed scheme: Fridays, part of Hostmore, is looking to hire apprentices at each of its 85 stores, along with each functional area in its support centre, within the next two years. It comes as Fridays launches Leading The Way, a refreshed apprenticeship scheme in partnership with training provider Lifetime, which is designed to showcase the value of jobs in the sector. The apprenticeship programmes available range from level two (entry-level) up to level five (regional directors) and take a minimum of 12-16 months to complete. The programmes are all “earn while you learn”, and can be completed at the participants’ own pace alongside their jobs at Fridays. All apprentices will have access to an online learning platform that includes a tailored learning plan, e-learning resources and a “skills radar” to track progress against various milestones. At the end of the scheme, participants receive a nationally recognised apprenticeship standard from the Institute of Apprenticeships. Karen Barnard, people and culture director at Fridays, said: “Our fabulous Fridays people are our most important asset. We’ve always been committed to investing in their development, but after the rollercoaster of the last two years, we want to reinforce our efforts to meet that commitment. Our new apprenticeship scheme is a key part of that.”

Stem & Glory’s latest crowdfunds opens to public, 64% of £500,000 target already raised: Vegan restaurant Stem & Glory’s latest campaign on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube has opened to the public and already raised 64% of its £500,000 target. The plant-based brand launched the campaign a fortnight ago to support the opening of its third site, in London’s Broadgate, and develop its ready meal range. It started out as being available only to selected investors but is now fully open, having raised £324,000 through more than 200 investors with 30 days left. Stem & Glory is offering 7.69% equity in return for the investment, giving the company a pre-money valuation of £6m. The business, founded by Louise Palmer-Masterton, is set to launch its third site, and second in London, in April, adding to its sites in Cambridge and Barts Square, which are both profitable. Palmer-Masterton previously told Propel the business was looking to add one site per year to the portfolio but “could possibly step that up”. Sales between July and November were up 88% on 2019 levels, with the London and Cambridge sites having a combined Ebitda for the same period of £122,000. Since relocating its Cambridge site in July last year following a £250,000 fundraise on Seedrs & SeedLegals, the venue has seen 122% net sales growth versus its previous home and was profitable in the first full month of trading. Stem & Glory is also growing its range of ready meals and retail merchandise, which it successfully piloted during the lockdowns. In 2018, it reached its £350,000 target on Crowdcube within five hours of its public launch to support its growth plans.
 
RedCat adds to The Coaching Inn Group estate with Yorkshire site acquisition: RedCat Pub Company, the investment vehicle from ex-Greene King chief executive Rooney Anand, has acquired The Crown Hotel in Boroughbridge, Yorkshire, bringing its total hotel room estate to 1,000 rooms. The hotel will be operated by RedCat’s subsidiary, The Coaching Inn Group, which was acquired last August. The Coaching Inn Group will now operate 24 historic coaching inns in market towns across the UK, in areas including the Cotswolds, Peak District, Leicestershire, Staffordshire, and Cambridgeshire. Since acquiring the group, RedCat has supported Coaching Inn Group’s rapid expansion through the acquisition of six additional sites. The Crown Hotel consists of 37 bedrooms and also benefits from leisure facilities with an indoor swimming pool, sauna, gym, fitness suite and sun shower. RedCat was launched in February 2021, with this deal adding to its estate of about 100 pubs and pub hotels. Kevin Charity, chief executive of The Coaching Inn Group, said: “We’re pleased to have added The Crown Hotel to our high quality and fast-growing estate. I’m delighted with how The Coaching Inn Group is accelerating its growth with RedCat’s support. We’re actively looking for new opportunities to expand our estate of historic coaching inns even further.” Julian Troup, head of UK hotels agency at Colliers, brokered the sale, acting on behalf of the owners.

Libertine Burger eyes UK expansion as it moves debut restaurant to bigger home: Warwickshire-based independent restaurant group Libertine Burger is eyeing expansion across the UK as it moves its debut site to a bigger home. The company has upgraded its Leamington Spa venue by moving to a property opposite its former base in Warwick Street. Libertine, which also has a site in Rugby, is now looking to open more branches around the UK in 2022 and beyond. Founder, Charles Harris, told Coventry Live: “We’ve spent five years building the foundations of a business that has not only weathered the storm of a difficult period, but has continued to grow and serve our customers both locally and further afield. The introduction of our delivery kits during the pandemic allowed people across the country to enjoy our burgers, but our local customers will always be close to our hearts, so we are thrilled to be able to offer them even more space in Leamington, along with the added bonus of the space to install more technology to make our operation more efficient and scope to expand. The new Leamington restaurant is the product of months of planning and will form the blueprint for what we’re planning will be a national rollout of Libertine Burger.” Libertine started as a decked-out street food van in 2017 before establishing itself touring street food markets and events across the Midlands, and then moving into bricks and mortar restaurants.

PizzaExpress boosts workforce as it strikes Stint deal: PizzaExpress has struck a deal with student work platform Stint that will see students using the app work in a third of its restaurants across the UK, following a trial. The locations will include London, Edinburgh, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham and Cardiff, with more to follow as Stint’s network expands into new towns and cities. The relationship is a first national partnership for Stint, which connects hospitality operators with its pool of more than 115,000 students looking for short, flexible shifts. Zoe Bowley, managing director at PizzaExpress, said: “Working with Stint allows us to deploy our teams with more precision and dedicate resource during daily lunch and dinner rushes, when it is most needed, enabling our core team to spend all their time delivering an exceptional service for our loyal customers.” Sol Schlagman, co-founder of Stint, added: “PizzaExpress is an iconic British brand, and the national roll-out represents a major milestone in the growth of our business. We built Stint to help university students earn money in a way that fits around their studies and helps hospitality businesses operate in a smarter way.” Stint last month appointed Harry Lang as its first chief marketing officer, then brought in Jason Atlas and Mark Harris as chief technology officer and chief people officer respectively. In December, it added hospitality strategist, connector and adviser Ann Elliott to its advisory board.

Salt to launch second branded taproom in Leeds and sixth altogether: West Yorkshire-based Salt Brewery, part of Ossett Brewing Group, will later this month launch its sixth branded taproom, and second in Leeds. Salt Craft + Falafel will open in the newly refurbished former Craft Asylum site on Granary Wharf, on Friday, 18 February. The company’s first Leeds site, Salt Craft + Cocktails, opened on East Parade in August, offering cocktails on tap with an all-day two-for-£12 offer. It has previously successfully paired street food and craft beer through its Craft + Pizza concepts in Woolwich and Deptford and Craft + Bao concept in Sheffield, and also operates a taproom and a bar and kitchen in Saltaire, near Bradford. The food offerings in the new site will come from Falafel Guys, who sell Middle Eastern cuisine from a food van on Briggate. Salt Brewery founder, Jamie Lawson, said: “We wanted to extend our presence in Leeds while still offering something different. We were blown away by the reception to Salt Leeds Craft + Cocktails and wanted to offer a little bit of diversity in a fast-growing area of the city centre.” Falafel Guys co-owner, Abdalla Ramzy, added: “We are always actively looking to expand, and when the opportunity with Salt came up, we had to go for it. We are super excited to be opening another location, we’ve been planning our next move for some time now. We’ve been doing our research into locations where there is a gap in the market for tasty fresh falafels.” In November, Salt acquired two former Hop Stuff taprooms and its ex-brewery in London, as it looks to grow on a national scale.

VQ Restaurants lines up Islington opening to bring its estate back up to four sites: VQ Restaurants, the extended-hours restaurant concept, has lined up a new site, in Islington, to bring its estate back up to four London venues. Due to open later this year, according to Hot Dinners, the group has lined up the space which used to house Argentine steak restaurant, Comedor Grill and Bar, on Upper Street, to add to its sites in Chelsea, Bloomsbury and Aldgate. Launched in 1995 as Vingt-Quatre (London’s first 24-hour restaurant), VQ boasted a six-strong estate three years ago but has since closed its sites in Euston, Notting Hill (which was an “early-to-late” rather than a 24-hour restaurant) and Clapham. The Clapham site launched in 2019 as a smaller format, focusing predominantly on takeaway and delivery, and has since been taken on by London-based chicken sandwich concept Butchies. It was also the home of VQ’s virtual delivery hot dog brand Top Dogs, which was also launched in 2019, in partnership with Deliveroo. The new site will offer an all-day breakfast offering, from a full English to buttermilk pancakes, as well as pasta dishes, burgers and sandwiches.

Thunderbird Fried Chicken to open latest London store this week, in Clapham: Thunderbird Fried Chicken, the wings and fried chicken concept backed by TriSpan, will open its latest outlet on Wednesday (9 February), in Clapham. As previously reported by Propel, Thunderbird Fried Chicken will open on the former Good Morning Vietnam site in St John’s Hill, near Clapham Junction station. The casual restaurant chain, founded by Matt Harris and backed by private equity firm TriSpan since October 2018, has gone “from strength to strength over the past few years” as it looks to continue its expansion across the capital. Last month, chief executive, Paul Gilchrist told Propel it had four sites potentially lined up for its joint venture with Jurys Inn, following a successful delivery trial at the hotel chain’s Milton Keynes site. This built on the partnership Thunderbird Fried Chicken already has with Parkdean Resorts, which is set to grow from two to five sites later this year. The brand has also secured the former Creams British Luxury site in The Broadway, Wimbledon, for an opening next month. It currently operates restaurants at Earl’s Court, Charing Cross, Westfield Stratford and The O2.

Peel Hotels reports business cash generative since August, incurs property impairment loss of £7.3m: Yorkshire-based Peel Hotels has reported the business has been cash generative since August with performance in its current financial year “exceeding expectations”. The company incurred a pandemic induced property impairment loss of £7.3m. It reported revenue of £4.8m for the year ending 24 January 2021 versus £15.6m the previous year. Ebitda was a loss of £9.5m versus a profit of £1.1m the year before. Pre-tax losses were £10.2m versus a profit of £18,000 the previous year. Revpar was down 65.4%, with occupancy down 66.1 % and average room rate up 2.2%. During the period, the business secured £2.5m through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and sold the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Leeds city centre for £4.35m – £450,000 less than its book value. This allowed Peel Hotels to pay down £3.4m of its original £8.9m loan with Allied Irish Bank. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “We are clear in our strategy, which is to recover our Ebitda lost to covid and thereafter sell down a proportion of our assets to become debt free in the future. We have exceeded our own expectations in the current financial year month by month, and we have benefited across the board from staycation and the reluctance of many to put up with the travel hassle understandably caused by covid. The added benefits afforded to us through the reduction of VAT, rates holidays and government grants has added value to our results. Furthermore, the group has renewed its arrangement with its principal funders, obtaining a one-year extension to 31 December 2022 on its bank loans and agreeing a reduced capital repayment profile of £1min the same year. This is significantly less than forecast cash flows to 31 December 2022.” Peel Hotels owns six sites in the UK. 

Manchester-based independent hotel, bar and restaurant opens: A new independent hotel, bar and restaurant has opened its doors on Manchester’s Princess Street. The Alan is set in a six-storey grade II-listed building with 137 rooms, an open-plan kitchen, bar and pop-up event space. Taking a sustainable approach to its design, the team behind The Alan aimed, where possible, to reuse old materials rejected by the construction industry. The tech-heavy hotel also features smart TVs with pay-per-view movies, speedy wi-fi and bluetooth speakers in each room and is also one of only four UK hotels to offer Google Nest smart concierge in all its rooms. The restaurant offers an all-day menu of seasonal dishes created using local suppliers, headed up by Iain Thomas, whose previous experience includes stints at Northern Quarter’s Edinburgh Castle and Establishment in Manchester. Dishes will include Cheshire beef, salt baked celeriac and lamb fat cabbage, alongside cuts of meat from The Butcher’s Quarter, a local artisanal butcher. The bar stocks beers from local craft breweries Pomona Island and Cloudwater Brew Co as well as gins and cocktail. Later this year, the hotel will introduce Situ, a pop-up events space housed in the lower ground floor, with a full calendar of events and collaborations. To celebrate the opening, The Alan will offer guests 50% off their total food bill from 5pm throughout February, or for those who wish to pay full price, the hotel will donate 50% of the bill to the Greater Manchester Mayor’s Charity to help end rough sleeping.

Papa John’s multi-franchisee opens ninth restaurant, eyes further sites: Multi-franchisee Sukhy Bains has opened his ninth Papa John’s restaurant in Carlton, Nottingham and set his sights on further sites.  Bains said: “I joined Papa John’s in 2010, and with the help of my wife, Kam, and three daughters, have built the business over the years. We live in Nottingham, but no Papa John’s was able to deliver to our own home, so we went about changing that. The new Carlton store is close to our other stores and now means we pretty much have the Nottingham area covered! We have ambitious plans to open more Papa John’s over the next few years in even more locations.” Amit Pancholi, business development director for Papa John’s UK, added: “Sukhy and his family are an inspiration to any aspiring multi-unit franchisee. They have already made a significant contribution to growing the Papa John’s brand in the UK, and we look forward to supporting them as they develop their portfolio of stores further.” 

Shoreditch-based seafood restaurant and wine bar to open next month: Goddards & Gibbs, a new seafood-focused restaurant and wine bar, will launch at the Lore Group’s One Hundred Shoreditch hotel next month. The 150-cover restaurant and 40-cover wine bar, which will also feature a takeaway “hatch”, will open its doors on Thursday, 3 March. Inspired by the UK’s fishing villages and seaside towns, it will specialise in seafood and be focused on ethical sourcing and local suppliers. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, head chef Tom Moore will lead a menu including several new creations and an extensive raw bar. Among the mains will be roasted skate wing and fried fillet of fish burger, while fried doughnuts with malt ice cream and poached rhubarb with brandy snap and custard are just some of the desserts. The cocktail offering will include a sage and butter gimlet with gin, lime and sage, and a marine martini with vodka, Cocchi, lemon and “everleaf marine”, made with 16 different botanicals. The wine bar, based in Shoreditch High Street, will also offer a selection of wine and sharing plates including marinated Cornish sardines and clam pizza pie. The recently opened One Hundred Shoreditch is the latest hotel from the Lore Group and its second in London, boasting 258 bedrooms and suites. It will have six restaurants and bars in total, including a cocktail bar and rooftop bar and terrace, plus a coffee shop using local roasters Ozone Coffee. Lore Group’s international portfolio includes Pulitzer Amsterdam, Sea Containers London, Riggs Washington DC and Lyle Washington DC.

Beamish Hotel reports strong demand as business returns to profit: County Durham-based Beamish Hotel has reported it is seeing strong demand for its accommodation and food and beverage outlets as the business continues to recover from the pandemic. The company reported turnover increase to £3m for the year ending 31 October 2021, compared with £2.4m the previous year, despite being hampered by various restrictions throughout the period. Beamish Hotel saw a pre-tax profit of £555,000, compared with a loss of £600,000 the year before. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “The company utilised the furlough scheme to retain the majority of the workforce, benefited from the rates relief for the hospitality sector and also successfully secured additional financial support and grants from the local authority. As restrictions were eased, we have seen a strong demand in accommodation as well as our food and beverage outlets. This, combined with fiscal support measures have seen the company return to a profit-making position.” The business received government grants of £578,000 during the period. The four-star hotel is located in the village of Beamish, near Durham.

Stonegate shortlisted for three categories at British Credit Awards: Stonegate Group, which became the UK’s largest pub company following its £1.27bn acquisition of Ei Group in 2020, has been shortlisted for three categories at the British Credit Awards. The only pub company to have been shortlisted, its credit control team is a finalist in the categories of B2B Team of the Year, Best Employer of the Year and Resilience and Continuity Award. The winners will be announced on Thursday, 24 March, at The Royal Lancaster in London. Dave Ross, chief financial officer at Stonegate Group, said: “I am very proud of the team’s dedication and hard work. Moreover, being the only pub company in the final is humbling and testament to the great work Stonegate, and indeed, our industry, is doing.” Stonegate’s portfolio is comprised of 1,270 sites within its managed division and 3,200 leased and tenanted businesses.  

Bristol-based cafe to double up with second site in city: Bristol’s The Crafty Egg cafe is set to open its second site in the city, in the former New Moon pub in Fishponds Road, next month. Owner Ben Bennett opened the original The Crafty Egg at Stokes Croft in 2016 and branched out to selling plants during lockdown, when garden centres were allowed to open. In September last year, Bennett told Bristol Live he had ambitions to open more The Crafty Egg branches across Bristol but was finding it “almost impossible" to find good venues. However, he has settled on the former pub, which closed last year, for a second site, which will be open from 8am until late, offering brunch as well as beer and pizza. “The aesthetic will be casual, funky and full of plants, in a similar vein to our original Stokes Croft site, only much bigger,” the team wrote on its social media channels. “As we move into the late afternoon and evening, brunch will close and the venue will go back to its roots – a pub, but with food. To top it all off we’re putting our hand to pizza, using only top-notch ingredients. Our doors are also open to pop-ups.”

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