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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Fri 11th Feb 2022 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Boojum appoints advisors for equity raise as it looks to expand across UK: Belfast-based burrito chain Boojum, which currently operates 14 sites, has appointed advisors for an equity raise in support of its expansion plans, as it looks to become the leading burrito brand in the UK and Ireland, Propel has learned. The David Maxwell-led business has appointed PwC to help it oversee its funding options as it looks to open 25 new sites in England and Scotland over the next three years. It is thought the business has already received interest from financial and strategic parties. Propel understands Boojum has begun contacting further potential investors regarding securing new funding, with a full process to start imminently. Over the last 12 months, the company’s average store sales have been circa £40,000, with its top performing sites often achieving sales in excess of £60,000. The brand’s digital sales sit at 48%, and the company sees this as a part of the market it excels in. Maxwell told Propel: “We are looking at this as an investment in Boojum 3.0, the most optimised, efficient, best version of the brand, with high performing teams, happy and engaged customers and operational excellence. We have done a brilliant job under inflationary headwinds, managing the cost base and maintaining margins. We also have a new sustainability view in the business now, an innovative pipeline of new products, a pipeline of new openings in the UK, and we can see further expansion opportunities in Ireland. The company is actively engaged with landlords on two further sites in Ireland, and on sites in the UK. Our mission is to make Boojum the clear number one choice for burritos in the UK and Ireland. We have had a strong track-record through the pandemic of showing the resilience, creativity and thoughtfulness of the business, and now is the time to build on that strong platform.” Propel revealed last year that Boojum was exploring eight key markets in which it hopes to expand into in the UK, with a focus on the north of England. Leeds is thought to be top of its target list for a debut site in England.

Industry News:

Full speaker line-up revealed for Propel Multi-Club Conference, open for bookings: The full speaker line-up for the first Propel Multi-Club Conference of 2022 has been revealed and the event is open for bookings. The full-day conference – Pivot and Profit – takes place on Friday, 25 March, at the Millennium Gloucester Hotel in London’s Kensington. Operators of multi-site hospitality companies can book two free places each by emailing For the full speaker schedule, click here. The Propel Multi-Club Conference is being expanded from three full-day conferences to four this year, including the much anticipated summer party, to give operators even more opportunities to learn from their peers and even stronger value for sponsors. 

28 new additions to Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book are turning over total of £398.5m: The next edition of the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book, produced in association with Mapal Group, will feature 28 new companies, which are turning over a total of £398.5m. It will be sent to Premium subscribers on Friday, 18 February, at midday. The Blue Book will now feature 536 UK pub, restaurant, cafe and hotel operators with a total turnover of £26.7bn. The Blue Book has begun to reflect the economic damage of the pandemic, with 196 companies reporting a profit and 340 reporting losses. 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. Propel Premium subscribers are also being given access to the entire recording of The Restaurant Marketer & Innovator European Summit Conference. Subscribers will be sent 31 separate video presentations, featuring 67 speakers, at 9am on Thursday, 17 February. 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. 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.

Propel Friday Wrap video series continues with M&B chief executive Phil Urban: Propel’s Friday Wrap video series continues on Friday (11 February) at 3pm. The series, which is sponsored by Mr Yum, the mobile menu, ordering and payment platform used by leading hospitality and entertainment venues, sees Mark Stretton, former sector journalist and now head of sector PR firm Fleet Street Communications, and Propel group editor Mark Wingett discuss this week’s key issues facing the UK’s hospitality sector with a leading sector operator or expert. This week they are joined by Phil Urban, chief executive of Mitchells & Butlers, to discuss how the managed pub and restaurant business has navigated the crisis, how trading has come back over the past few weeks, how the company is looking to evolve its many brands and concepts and where the sector goes from here. 

On-trade loses out on £5.7bn from beer sales alone in 2021: The on-trade lost £5.7bn of revenue from beer sales alone in 2021 – equivalent to 1.4 billion pints, according to new data from the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA). Despite an improvement, pub beer sales were still down 38% last year against pre-pandemic levels. Pubs accounted for 1.1 billion of the lost pints, or £4.5bn in revenue. However, the figures are an improvement from 2020, where pub beer sales were down 55% compared with 2019. BBPA analysis of HM Revenue & Customs tax receipts confirms a significant shift in consumer consumption patterns. Between March 2020 and October 2021, beer receipts dropped 11% while receipts for wine and spirits rose 8% and 13%. In response to the figures, the BBPA is calling for a reduction to beer duty closer to the lower rate proposed for cider; an extension to the proposed relief for draught beer sold in pubs to include smaller kegs below 40 litres; an increase in the threshold to define lower-strength beer from 3.4% ABV to 3.5% ABV and additional support, including reform to business rates and an extension to the reduced 12.5% rate of VAT for hospitality. BBPA chief executive, Emma McClarkin, said: “Our analysis showing falling beer consumption supports the Treasury’s stated objective to incentivise lower-strength products and differentiate beer from stronger wine and spirts as part of planned reforms to the alcohol duty system. We must again ask ministers to go further and support our recovery by continuing to reduce the punitive tax burden on our sector to ensure the sustainability of brewing and pubs.”
London hotel market unlikely to return to growth until at least 2024-25: London’s hotel market will return to pre-pandemic performance levels but is unlikely to return to growth until at least 2024-25, according to operators. The majority (38%) of the 300 attendees of a webinar – organised by consultancy HVS, legal company Bird & Bird, publishing group EP Business in Hospitality and restructuring advisory firm AlixPartners – said in a poll they did not expect hotel revpar to reach 2019 levels until 2023, while 19% were more pessimistic, with estimates of recovery later than 2024. Almost half said a key feature of a successful London hotel post-pandemic would be a hybrid space, offering workspace alongside food and beverage and rooms. When it comes to business travellers, 22% of those polled thought corporate restrictions on travel budgets would be the biggest challenge facing London’s hotels, with 36% believing the availability of online meeting platforms such as Zoom meant there was no longer a need to travel to have effective business meetings.

Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a leisure business that is aiming to double in size within the next three years and is looking to recruit a global chief financial officer based in London. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “We are looking to recruit a very experienced chief financial officer with plc/AIM-listed experience. As well as looking after finance, this role will also get involved in all operations of a growing business – technology, HR, openings and property.” Globally, the business is looking to establish in more markets in the next few years to add to its existing operations. The business will only consider chartered accountants who are available within three months. The salary is between £180,000 and £220,000 plus benefits package. For more information and to apply, email

Company News:

Ex-Thai Leisure Group and Red’s director launches new Indian concept: Jason Almeida, former operations director at Thai Leisure Group, has launched a new concept, Potyo, based on coastal Indian cuisine. Almeida, who was previously commercial director at Red’s True Barbecue and had roles at Loch Fyne Restaurants, Allied London and the Al Shaya group in the Middle East, has launched the new venture with his wife, Milena, who previously worked at Living Ventures. Potyo has launched its debut site in Wilmslow. Almeida told Propel: “With the continuous popularity of Indian cuisine and the trends within Indian restaurants focusing more on regional cuisines, we found a gap in this market to offer coastal Indian cuisine, so we created Potyo. The menu primarily focuses on dishes from Malabar or the west coast of India. We took over a retail unit in Wilmslow town centre and converted it into a 68-cover restaurant over three floors, which also includes two private dining rooms. We thought it was time we created something of our own, but with a difference, in the local neighbourhood. Since opening, it’s been received very well and sales are up week on week. We just signed up with Deliveroo, and that also has got off to a very good start. Long-term, we do see a growth potential to scale the concept, not only on the high streets but in virtual cloud kitchens, and possibly market hall concepts.”

Inn Collection Group acquires Harrogate hotel to expand Yorkshire portfolio: The Inn Collection Group has completed the purchase of the 90-room Hotel St George in Harrogate for an undisclosed fee as it continues to expand across Yorkshire. The site, which includes The Swaledale Restaurant and six function rooms, will continue trading under the group’s ‘Eat, Drink, Sleep and Explore’ pub with rooms brand before undergoing refurbishment works. It follows the Alchemy-backed group’s acquisitions of The Dower House in Knaresborough, The Dean Court in York and The Ripon Spa Hotel in Ripon, supported with banking from OakNorth. Elsewhere in Yorkshire, The Inn Collection Group is redeveloping Northallerton’s former police station into a 32-bedroom pub with rooms called The Northallerton Inn. October saw the group re-open the 15th century The Black Swan in Helmsley following a multi-million-pound refurbishment, while the group made its first expansion into Wales in December with the purchase of The Swallow Falls Hotel in the Snowdonia National Park. Earlier this week, it completed on the 38-room The Glenridding Hotel in Ullswater, and with the Hotel St George, now has 29 sites in total. Its estate also includes sites in Northumberland, County Durham, Tyne & Wear and Lancashire. Sean Donkin, managing director of The Inn Collection Group, said: “The Hotel St George is an exciting acquisition for us as we continue to expand our customer base and imprint in Yorkshire. We have had Harrogate in our sights for a considerable time while identifying a site that is a fit with our ‘Eat, Drink, Sleep and Explore’ brand. We are looking forward to enhancing this stunning building so it delivers its full potential for visitors and customers living in and around the locality.” Ward Hadaway’s Imogen Holland and Silverstone’s Bradley Hall advised on the purchase, while JLL’s Gavin Wright advised on behalf of the vendors.

JW Lees unveils trio of new openings including first new-build in a decade, further acquisitions planned: Manchester-based brewer and retailer JW Lees will open three new pubs over the next six weeks. First up is the newly renovated Stanneyland’s Hotel in Wilmslow, which JW Lees purchased in 2018. Having been furnished with a new reception, bar and restaurant, the venue reopens this week. This will be followed at the end of February by JW Lees’ first new-build pub-restaurant for more than ten years, The Aviator at Woodford Aerodrome, south Manchester. And at the end of March, it will reopen The Red Lion in Withington, also in south Manchester, which the company purchased in February 2020. William Lees-Jones, managing director of JW Lees, said: “It feels good to be back opening new pubs again after so long, and we have 25 significant developments planned on our existing estate of 143 pubs this year. We also have ambitions to grow our estate by acquisition and are actively looking for freehold hotels, inns and pubs in the north west.” Founded in 1928, JW Lees owns 43 managed pubs and lets a further 100 to its pub partners. It also operates the JW Lees brewery, The Alderley Edge Hotel, The Trearddur Bay Hotel and Willoughby’s Wine Merchants.

Neat Burger to open in Canary Wharf next week as London expansion continues following City delivery success: Lewis Hamilton-backed plant-based concept Neat Burger will continue its London expansion next week with the opening of its Canary Wharf store. Based in Cabot Place and spread over 1,800 square feet, the 68-cover venue, which will open on Wednesday (16 February), will have a giant milkshake installation and serve a range of cocktails too. It follows hot on the heels of the opening of Neat Burger’s flagship Bishopsgate site, in the City of London, last month. Neat Burger’s biggest site to date, it covers 2,700 square feet across a mezzanine floor and seats 129 covers, featuring a giant hot dog installation and a large outdoor drinks terrace. The new openings form part of Neat Burger’s ambitious expansion plans – announced in October following a $7m round of funding led by SoftBank’s Rajeev Misra – that will see it open 30 new sites across London as well as expand into the US, UAE and Italy. Further openings in Ealing, Queensway, The O2 and Chelsea’s Kings Road are planned to add to the two new sites and existing Neat Burgers at Camden, Soho, Mayfair, Finsbury Park, Victoria and Westfield Stratford. Earlier this month, the company announced the King’s Road store, set to open this summer, will feature a “secret menu” concept and an experimental “theatre of food” hidden room. The new openings are in areas where Neat Burger experienced “soaring demand” during the pandemic, with delivery orders of its most popular dish, the Neat Burger, rising by 50% in the Square Mile and Canary Wharf in 2021. Zack Bishti, co-founder and managing director of Neat Burger, said: “Last year, sales to customers in the City via our delivery cloud kitchens far exceeded expectations, so we decided to move forward with two bricks and mortar sites. These new openings reflect our confidence not just in Neat Burger’s ambitious expansion programme, but also the City and Canary Wharf’s ability to bounce back after the pandemic.”

McDonald’s planning to open restaurants in the metaverse: McDonald’s is making its way into the metaverse by registering for ten trademarks in the virtual space. The filing was noted by Trademark attorney Josh Gerben, who tweeted that McDonald’s had submitted the trademark applications on 4 February. Forbes reports the McDonald’s filings request to trademark, among other things, “operating a virtual restaurant featuring actual and virtual goods,” and “operating a virtual restaurant online featuring home delivery”. It also aims to trademark “online actual and virtual concerts” and other entertainment services within its virtual McCafe. The requests follow Panera Bread’s 3 February filing for the “Paneraverse,” a request from the company to trademark its downloadable, virtual food and beverage items “for use in virtual worlds,” along with non-fungible tokens and the option to purchase actual goods in the virtual world to be delivered. “I think you’re going to see every brand that you can think of make these filings within the next 12 months,” Gerben told Forbes.

Chaiiwala lining up another London opening, other sites to follow: An Indian street food brand that has 50 branches across the country, including 25 in London, is lining up another opening in the capital.  Chaiiwala started in Delhi in 1927 before branching out into the UK with an opening in Leicester four years ago and spreading rapidly through a franchise model. Last month’s opening in Knightsbridge was its 50th, and the chain has now set its sights further east in the capital with an opening in Dalston later this year. It has taken on the former Costa Coffee site in Kingsland High Street, by Dalston Junction station, according to Hot Dinners. Also “coming soon”, according to Chaiiwala’s website, are further London branches in Wood Green, Norbury and Acton, plus sites further afield in Northampton, Watford, Slough and Milton Keynes. In October, the company said it has targeted five times growth in site numbers, with 156 new branches by 2023.

UberEats records its first profit: Uber has reported its second quarterly operating profit as demand for its ride-hailing service approached pre-pandemic levels, and its food delivery business turned profitable for the first time – but the first-quarter outlook fell short of Wall Street’s expectations. Uber has forecast lower-than-expected adjusted profit in the first three months of this year as the Omicron coronavirus variant dampened travel demand in January. The company, founded in 2009, said first-quarter adjusted Ebitda is forecast to be between $100m and $130m, against previous estimates of almost $150m. But the company said business had started picking up. Uber’s shares rose 9.5%, or $3.61, to $43.80 in late trading on Wall Street. For the fourth quarter of 2021, Uber reported $5.8bn in revenue. Its delivery unit, largely its UberEats restaurant service, posted its first adjusted Ebitda profit of $25m. The California-based company reported adjusted Ebitda of $86m for the quarter to the end of December against a loss on that basis of $454m a year earlier and beat analyst expectations. Uber also posted net income of $892m, as it revalued its stakes in south east Asian app, Grab, and Aurora Innovation, its self-driving company.

Gym chain backed by Rishi Sunak’s wife to call in administrators: A gym chain backed by chancellor Rishi Sunak’s wife is on the verge of collapse after suffering “extraordinary” challenges during successive lockdowns. The Telegraph reports Digme Fitness, in which Sunak’s wife Akshata Murthy holds a 4.2% stake, has filed a notice of its intention to appoint administrators after failing to relaunch itself as an online business in the pandemic. The company has also hired Shoosmiths, the law firm, to advise on a restructuring. The court filing will protect Digme Fitness from its creditors for 14 days. Digme’s sites in London have been hit by a decline in office working during the pandemic, with its sites in the capital concentrated in city centre locations. Digme has eight gyms, some of which are also in Oxford. The gym chain tried to offset the steep drop in footfall from office workers by offering online classes and renting out exercise bikes to customers through a subscription model. Digme was set up in 2015 by husband-and-wife team Caoimhe and Geoff Bamber, just as indoor spinning studios were taking off in London. Digme’s early investors included West Hill Capital, which also backed Metro Bank. In its most recent accounts, Digme outlined the financial pressures facing the business. The company said: “As a consequence of the covid-19 pandemic, 2020 has become an extraordinary challenge for us. Our team has shown incredible determination and motivation to weather the storm. The company has taken advantage of the crisis and made a rapid strategic pivot to become an omnichannel fit-tech business.”

Food safety compliance platform FoodDocs raises £1.8m to support growth: Food safety compliance platform FoodDocs has raised £1.8m to support its growth and further improve its artificial intelligence capabilities. The funding was led by Bonnier Ventures with Forward Venture Capital, and Spring Capital also joining the round with existing investor United Angels VC. The funds will also be used to drive further expansion in the US and the UK to reach more clients and partners. “The food industry is hungry for change because of the pandemic”, said Katrin Liivat, co-founder and chief executive of FoodDocs. “Compliance processes need to become more efficient and company-friendly – by leveraging artificial intelligence, that’s where we change the game.” The solutions FoodDocs have developed are already used by more than 15,000 customers.

Gravity gets green light for £2m e-karting experience at Xscape Yorkshire: Experiential leisure operator Gravity has gained planning approval to construct a £2m e-karting experience at Xscape Yorkshire in Castleford. The plan will add 24,000 square feet to the venue, which was Gravity’s first UK site when it opened as a trampoline park in 2015. It has since had sky coaster, free-falling and rock-climbing experiences Gravity Aerial Adventures, Leap of Faith and Gravity Rocks added. The latest addition will be Gravity’s second e-karting track after the concept, which features high powered karts on a multi-layered track, made its debut at Gravity Southside, Wandsworth, in August 2021. Gravity operates 17 sites in the UK, and in December took its first steps into European expansion with a franchise for a multi-attraction venue in Leipzig, Germany. The business now employs 600 people, having almost doubled its workforce since 2019. The firm also intends to carry out a full refurbishment of the trampoline park at Xscape Yorkshire this year. Harvey Jenkinson, co-founder and chief executive at Gravity, said: “We aim to be at the forefront of leisure offerings in the UK and can’t wait to introduce more people to Gravity GT e-karting. We are at a pivotal moment in our development and are excited to see what the future has in store.” Gravity was advised by law firm Irwin Mitchell, assisted by real estate solicitor Laura Jones.

Greene King to roll out surplus beer scheme following successful trial: Greene King will roll out an initiative that allows people to buy surplus beer reaching it best-by date to hundreds more of its pubs. Following a successful trial during the last lockdown, the Magic Pints scheme has already been extended to Greene King’s Destination Food Brands pubs, encompassing around 650 pubs across the UK. This will now be rolled out across the rest of its managed estate, around 900 further pubs, throughout 2022. The project is in partnership with the Too Good To Go app, which lets people buy surplus food and drink from various outlets to stop it from going to waste. Greene King has already previously partnered with Too Good To Go by offering leftover food from its carvery pubs. For the new initiative, users of the app can search for their local Greene King pub and buy a reusable Magic Pints bag, which will contain four pints of excess ale, for £5.75 and collect it at an allotted time. More than 2,500 pints of cask ale have already been saved from 50 pubs in just two weeks. Andy Wilson, managing director of Greene King’s Destination Food Brands pubs, said: “Reducing waste is really important to us, so this is a brilliant way to stop great cask ale being thrown away needlessly.” 

Raymond Blanc partners with Sodexo for culinary apprenticeship programme: Chef Raymond Blanc has partnered with Sodexo Live!, the events and hospitality arm of catering company Sodexo, to launch a new culinary apprenticeship programme. The Sodexo Live! Academy with Raymond Blanc will give six apprentices the chance to achieve either a commis chef level 2 or level 3 chef de partie qualification. The apprentices will take part in events such as the RHS Chelsea Flower Show and Royal Ascot, and work at venues including the Royal Academy of Arts, the RAF Museum and river cruise dining experience Bateaux London.  The programme also involves a two-month placement at Blanc’s Oxfordshire hotel and restaurant, Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons. Blanc said: “The apprentices will be able to explore not only how a Michelin star restaurant works, but also how to hone their fine dining and event skills with guidance from myself.” Sue Davison, head of apprenticeships at Sodexo, added: “This programme will give apprentices the chance to learn from Raymond, and our expert chefs to gain experience to boost their culinary careers.” The programme will also focus on sustainability, with Sodexo having last year announced ambitious plans to become carbon neutral by 2025.

Gaucho to open Scotland’s first carbon-free steak restaurant next month: Gaucho, the Rare Restaurants-owned and Martin Williams-led brand, will open Scotland’s first carbon-free steak restaurant when it launches in Glasgow next month. The site, a former Benihana restaurant at 7 Nile Street, will be a 17th venue for the modern Argentinian steak brand. It has also lodged plans for an 18th, at the former Virgin Money site on the corner of Market Street and Pilgrim Street in Newcastle. The 120-cover Glasgow venue will be Gaucho’s first new restaurant since 2016. It will offset carbon emissions by serving beef from specially selected farms that focus on methane and greenhouse gas reduction. Gaucho last year launched the Sustainable Steak Movement and now has a carbon neutral steak and wine offering at all its restaurants, which sits alongside its zero-food waste and green energy policies.

Eataly confirms February opening for Terra Italian grill restaurant to complete its London development: Italian grill restaurant Terra will become the fourth and final venue at the Italian food emporium when it open as part of the Eataly London development in London’s Broadgate next week. An October 2021 opening had originally been slated for the restaurant, but it will instead open its doors for the first time on Tuesday, 15 February. Focusing on seasonal ingredients using ancient Italian wood-cooking techniques, Terra will join Cucina del Mercato, Pizza e Pasta and Al Fresco as the final restaurant at the Italian food emporium at 100 Liverpool Street. The menu at Terra will change quarterly, with mains including beef fillet, slow roasted pork belly, whole lemon sole and grilled swordfish. Diners can also choose sharing cuts from the fresh meat and fish counters to be finished over fire and served with a selection of sauces and sides. Gorgonzola and Maritozzi carts will provide sweet and savoury dessert options, while more than 2,000 wines will be available to choose from, along with Italian-inspired cocktails and “low and no” options. Founded in 2007 by Oscar Farinetti, Eatley operates more than 40 food markets across 16 countries around the world.

Vinoteca to open Borough Yards site on Valentine’s Day: Wine bar, shop and restaurant concept Vinoteca will open its sixth site, at London’s Borough Yards, on Monday, 14 February. The two-storey site will offer an informal set up on the ground floor, with a particular focus on small, sustainable producers. A mezzanine floor will provide a view straight down to Southwark Cathedral, and the site will have about 100 covers in total. A menu of bar snacks and small plates will come via produce from Borough Market neighbours like Ginger Pig, Flor and Neal’s Yard, with breakfast served all week plus brunch at weekends. The wine list will also champion small, independent producers. Created by Elena Ares, Brett Woonton and Charlie Young, Vinoteca Borough will be the group’s sixth site, with others in Marylebone, Chiswick, King’s Cross and the City following their debut 2005 site in Farringdon. The venues have also hosted various workshops over the years, and Monday Cork Club will be a firm fixture at Vinoteca Borough, where regulars will be able to pay retail price only on wines.

Duo behind The Oystermen to open West Dulwich restaurant and bar next month: Rob Hampton and Matt Lovell, who are behind Covent Garden seafood bar and kitchen The Oystermen, will open their new neighbourhood restaurant and bar next month. Walter’s, based in West Dulwich’s Park Hall Road, will open on Wednesday, 2 March, offering British-inspired classics and a selection of wines and cocktails from lunch through to dinner. Head chef Khalid Hassan, formerly of Social Eating House, L’Atelier De Joel Robuchon and Murano, has worked closely with Lovell and Hampton on a menu which will include braised ox cheek with buttered mash and balsamic shallots, roasted hake with romesco sauce and a mushroom orzo risotto with a slow cooked duck egg and salsa verde. With the menu changing seasonally changing, March will see the likes of ox cheek and mushroom pie and whole sea bass served up. With covers for 50, the site will be split into a front dining room and a lounge area to the rear, with an open kitchen and wine cellar too. Lovell and Hampton said: “We have had such a journey since opening The Oystermen, our first bricks and mortar site just over four years ago. Walter’s feels like a very natural next step for us. We are moving down south, to a neighborhood we know and love.” As well as opening The Oystermen in 2017, Lovell and Hampton have also hosted a series of pop-up oyster bars around London, including a ten-month residence at The Sampler.

Gusbourne anticipates revenue will almost double: Kent-based winemaker Gusbourne is anticipating a sizeable rise in revenue. In an unaudited trading update for the 12 months to 31 December 2021, the company said sales during the period were expected to be up by 95%, from £2.1m to £4.1m. The figures reflect “continued and accelerating sales growth”. Gusbourne benefited from significant growth in UK trade sales as the sector “continued to recover from the prior year effects of covid-19”. Direct to consumer also showed a strong performance driven by online sales and cellar door operations in Kent. Chief executive and chief winemaker, Charlie Holland, said: “We are delighted to have almost doubled our revenues as customer numbers continue to increase across all major sales channels. This, together with the fundraising at the end of last year and a significantly strengthened balance sheet, allows us to look confidently to the future as we continue to invest in building our brand and strengthening Gusbourne’s position as one of the UK's most significant producers of fine English wine.”

Compass Cymru partners with Bridgend College for new hospitality-based academy: Compass Cymru, the Welsh arm of catering company Compass Group, has partnered with Bridgend College to offer a new management academy, offering hospitality apprenticeship and career development opportunities. Jane Byrd, managing director of Compass Cymru, said: “By implementing partnerships like this academy with Bridgend College, we provide our colleagues with best-in-class opportunities and support the growth of the hospitality and catering industry in Wales.” Matt Williams, executive director of work-based learning at Bridgend College, added: “The plans Compass Cymru has for their new academy are forward thinking and extremely positive for their staff and the hospitality industry here in Wales.”

London-based social enterprise cafe set to open later this month: A new cafe that helps refugees enter the UK workforce will open in London’s Angel on Saturday, 19 February. Trampoline, which will be based at 27 Camden Passage, is the brainchild of Pranav Chopra, who will be working with Groundwork London and Hotel School to devise a hospitality training programme for his workers. The drinks menu will be led by former The Gentlemen Baristas head of coffee, Antonio Orria, with blends from Redemption Rosters set to be among those on offer. The cafe’s workers will be encouraged to share recipes and ingredients from their backgrounds to put on the food menu. Chopra is also the founder of Nemi Teas, a tea company and social enterprise that also provides job opportunities to refugees living in the UK.

Southampton-based sports centre set to open new gym and cafe as part of £16.85m revamp: A gym and a cafe look set to be added to a 56-acre outdoor sports hub in Southampton. They form part of a plan for the development of a new hub at the Outdoor Sports Centre as part of a “much needed” £16.85 revamp of the 1930s facility. The initial plan, which also includes a new ski lodge and changing facilities, was this week approved by Southampton City Council, with more detailed plans going before the authority later this year ahead of a planned autumn start date. As well as multiple sports pitches, a crazy golf course and athletics track and stadium, the facility is also home to The Powerhouse, an indoor venue that specialises in fitness boot camps.

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