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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Wed 9th Feb 2022 - Young’s set to acquire ‘handful of pubs’ from The Lucky Onion Group
Young’s set to acquire ‘handful of pubs’ from The Lucky Onion Group: The Lucky Onion Group, owned by Superdry founder Julian Dunkerton, is to sell some of its pubs and hotels to London pub retailer Young’s. While it is understood The Lucky Onion’s flagship No 131 restaurant, bar and boutique hotel in The Promenade in Cheltenham is not part of the deal, it’s not yet clear which of the Cheltenham-headquartered firm’s venues will change hands. The Lucky Onion Group currently owns The Hollow Bottom, The Wild Duck, The Wheatsheaf, No. 38 The Park, Tavern and The Crown, with paperwork yet to be signed. A spokesman for Young’s told So Glos: “We can confirm that Young’s has agreed to acquire a handful of pubs and hotels in the Cotswolds from The Lucky Onion Group.” Young’s already owns Cotswold businesses the Blue Boar in Chipping Norton and the Bell in Stow-on-the-Wold. The Lucky Onion was founded in 2006 by former lawyer Georgie Pearman and her husband and former Gloucester Rugby player Sam Pearman, before Superdry-founder Dunkerton took control in 2017. Hit hard by the pandemic, in 2021 the business saw staff numbers fall from 94 in 2020 to 66. Dunkerton continues to have a number of business interests, but since his return to the board of Superdry in 2019 his attentions have been drawn more and more towards turning around the fortunes of the company he founded back in 2003.

Next edition of Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book shows sector losses of £7.4bn: The next edition of Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book, produced in association with Mapal Group, shows the effects of the pandemic, with total losses of £7.4bn being reported by 340 companies. However, a further 196 sector companies are still reporting total profits of £788.4m. The next edition will include 536 companies, an increase of 28 companies compared with the January edition. The 536 companies produce total turnover of £26.7bn. 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, produced 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.

BrewDog culture clean-up ‘doesn’t go far enough’: Bosses at Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog have failed to go far enough in overhauling the beer company’s “toxic” culture, a group of former employees have said. The Telegraph reports BrewDog’s former workers said “some progress has been made” at the company since they published an open letter last summer in which they accused management of creating a culture of fear. However, the group claimed BrewDog had not gone far enough in its shake-up. They said: “By centering itself in the process and engaging with former staff only on its own terms, BrewDog has skirted past several areas of concern that we have repeatedly raised with it.” It comes weeks after BrewDog published the findings of an independent review into the claims, which included allegations that workers had “suffered mental illness as a result of working at BrewDog”. The company said it had “moved on a long way” in terms of how it looked after its staff. It added that it was considering expanding its HR team and bringing back quarterly career reviews. The group of former workers said they had discussed the review with a third-party consultancy, and spoken to current and former workers. They said: “We have come to the conclusion that our concerns about the culture review are justified. The document lacks crucial contextual detail, glosses over some really serious issues, and was ultimately overseen by BrewDog’s board, which does not instil confidence in its impartiality.” The group said it was joining forces with business consultancy, Hand & Heart, to independently register cases from any former and current staff who want their stories to be kept on record. It said it was doing this “in the hope that BrewDog will engage with – and address – these experiences”. A spokesman for BrewDog said: “There is work to be done but we are listening and taking action.” It said it had brought in changes such as a structure review and launched a new workplace code to be clearer on standards. The company added: “If any of our colleagues feel they are unable to raise concerns directly with their line manager they can call an independently managed ethics hotline.”

Households feel the squeeze as living costs soar: Britons’ confidence in their financial situation has fallen to its lowest level since 2017, a report suggests. The Times reports the Bank of America said British households had not scored so low on this measure of confidence since it started the survey five years ago. Soaring prices, combined with a rise in National Insurance contributions and energy bills, are set to squeeze households this spring. The Bank of England has warned the country is facing the worst hit to take-home pay in more than 30 years. Bank of America’s overall consumer confidence indicator fell to its lowest level since February last year as Britons become increasingly worried about rising costs. The online survey of 5,729 people was conducted in January by RIWI. However, consumers are more positive about life returning to normal, according to the index. “We would have expected this improved covid outlook to translate into stronger overall consumer confidence, but that has been offset by worsening personal finances,” researchers said in the report. “Pay growth has stabilised well below inflation expectations, meaning increasing real wage cuts.” With an energy price rise looming, half the households surveyed planned to cut back on spending. More than 300,000 workers have left the labour market since the start of the pandemic. Of those who fell into this category, 41% planned to return this year. Those most likely to say that they would return to work were students and those who had left because of temporary illness.

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