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Fri 4th Mar 2022 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Ukraine invasion having ‘serious consequences’ for price of poultry: The Russian invasion of Ukraine is having “serious consequences” for the price of poultry in Europe, catering butcher Birtwistles has warned. With supply already running low due to labour issues, Russia and Ukraine both being huge producers and exporters of wheat has added to the problems. Birtwistles reported increases of at least 7% across the poultry supply base and said any downward movement was “way off in the short term. The company said in its latest market report: “Ukraine has a massive influence on wheat prices in the EU, which means that feed costs will go up substantially. How this will impact on milk and meat production in the UK, and how quickly it will impact, we will have to see, but there is a serious concern, and one which has already had an impact on poultry increases from EU suppliers. The price of wheat smashed its previous record high in European trading on 24 February as Russia invaded Ukraine, putting a question mark on the future of exports from two of the world’s biggest producers of the key commodity. This could be just the beginning. This will, and already has, led to requests to EU suppliers being increased with immediate effect. Add to this panic buying across Europe, and everyone is unsure on what the next development will be. Undoubtedly there will be consequences here that people will not have even thought of yet, and which will only surface as the situation develops.” Pork legs from the EU used for gammon production have also increased by 20p per kg following the Ukraine invasion, and there is a chance EU producers will “start to stockpile due to the uncertainty of what will happen next”. The report also stated progress had been made in easing the pig industry crisis, where labour shortages have caused backlogs in getting pigs off farms. Shortages in the beef trim market are being caused by UK and EU producers stockpiling ahead of the spring and summer months, with wholesale prices at record levels of around £4.50 per kilogramme, which represents a 15.3% increase in price from last month. Beef fillets are also under pressure with a “staggering” 35.2% increase in demand.
 

Industry News:

Sponsored message – Sky introduces broadband for licensed premises: Sky has introduced its own business broadband product following the success of its residential broadband offer that currently serves more than six million customers. A spokesman said: “Perfect for powering pubs’, clubs’ and bars’ back-of-house hospitality technology solutions including EPOS, payment systems, digital orders and takeaway apps, Sky Connect’s business broadband is delivered over fibre with download superfast speeds of up to 76/19 Mbps. Sky Connect is underpinned by exceptional customer service and its 30-day money back guarantee. Contracts range from 12, 24 and 36 months and there will be no package price rises within the contract.” Sky Connect’s broadband also gives the option to include business-grade 4G backup, which means devices connected to the internet via the 4G router will automatically switch over to 4G if the broadband service goes down. Sky Connect offers three discounted packages for licensed premises to choose from: Advantage – superfast broadband and phone line – £39 per month now available at £24.95; Pro – superfast or ultrafast broadband, 4G backup and a phone line – from £55 per month now available at £34.95; and Max – superfast or ultrafast broadband, 4G backup and four phone lines – from £95 per month. For more details on how you can power your business with Sky Connect, call 0333 759 4943 or click here. If you have a sponsored story you would like to see featured in this newsletter position, email paul.charity@propelinfo.com

Seventh edition of The New Openings Database to be sent to Premium subscribers today, 15,720-word report included: The seventh edition of The New Openings Database, which is produced in association with StarStock, will be sent to Propel Premium subscribers today (Friday, 4 March), at midday. It will show the details of 279 newly announced site openings and upcoming launches. The database 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. It is published on a monthly basis. The seventh edition of the database features expanding hotel and leisure concepts, several international growth brands making their UK debut, niche cuisine and regional brands in growth. Premium subscribers will also receive a 15,720-word report on the new additions to the database. Premium subscribers also receive access to two other databases. The latest Propel Multi-Site Database, which is produced in association with Virgate, was sent to Premium subscribers last Friday (25 February). The database contained 49 new companies, bringing the total number of businesses listed up to 2,341. The 227 sites run by those 49 new additions means the entire database of sites has reached 64,253 sites. Premium subscribers also received a 3,750-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. There is also 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. 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. In this week’s Premium Opinion, Tim Lowther, general manager Europe and Russia at Carl’s Jr, argues that the QSR industry needs a shake-up, creating ideal conditions for disruptive new brands to thrive. At the same time, Mark Wingett talks to Wahaca co-founder Mark Selby about the rebirth of the Mexican restaurant group and takes a look back at some of key news items of the week.

Propel Friday Wrap video series continues with Pano Christou, chief executive of Pret A Manger: Propel’s Friday Wrap video series continues today (Friday, 4 March) 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’s group editor Mark Wingett discussing this week’s key issues facing the UK’s hospitality sector, with a leading sector operator or expert. This week they are joined by Pano Christou, chief executive of Pret A Manger, to discuss how the business has innovated over the past two years, how trade is recovering in central London, his take on the sector’s recruitment issues and the wider food-to-go market. 

Hospitality businesses reporting increases of 150%-plus on pre-pandemic energy bills with sector facing additional £800m cost, BBPA warns: Hospitality businesses across the UK are reporting increases of 150%-plus on pre-pandemic energy bills, placing them under additional financial burden as they look to recover from the pandemic, the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has warned. Throughout the pandemic the hospitality sector has faced ongoing energy issues which have become increasingly worse. Businesses are reporting an average increase in their bills above 100%, equivalent to an £800m additional cost to the sector. In addition to overly complicated application processes, risk premiums and significant up-front renewal deposits, over recent months there has also been an increase in the number of utilities providers refusing to take on new accounts or renew contracts if they are linked with hospitality, the BBPA claimed. Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the BBPA, said: “Struggling publicans that have managed to keep their heads above water throughout the pandemic now face a further financial hurdle that threatens the viability of their businesses and the ability for the sector to recover. The pub and brewing sector is at a pivotal point in its recovery and the erosion of margins is impossible to sustain. We are urging the energy regulator, the providers and the government to work with us and take a more pragmatic approach with regards to the provision of energy to the hospitality sector.” 

UKHospitality calls for permanent pavement licences: UKHospitality has led calls for making pavement licences permanent, saying such a move would help the sector make a faster post-pandemic recovery. The trade body said outdoor drinking and dining areas have become hugely popular over the past two years, and in some cases ensured the survival of business unable to serve customers indoors due to coronavirus restrictions. Responding to a recent Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities call for views on pavement licences, UKHospitality said the temporary scheme – introduced last April and due to end this September – should become a permanent fixture. Chief executive, Kate Nicholls, said: “Pavement licences have been a really positive success story, and the fact the scheme has been embraced enthusiastically by several local authorities is hugely encouraging. They have also brought benefits to town and city centres previously without alfresco drinking and dining opportunities. Pavement licences also revealed our sector’s ingenuity and creativity, with some truly striking outdoor spaces being created across the UK – from pods to yurts – and significant levels of investment in features such as lighting and heating. It’s crucial, therefore, that we press for the pavement licence scheme to be made permanent – so pubs, bars and restaurants struggling to recover from the pandemic can get back on their feet much quicker. This has the potential to be a hugely beneficial, low-cost, low-admin scheme, and a welcome boost for the industry.” UKHospitality also agreed with a proposed £350 cap on application fees and suggested any new fee system should encourage and allow local authorities to offer subsidised, or even free, pavement licences – which some councils have already done.

Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a hospitality focused private equity company that backs creative and ambitious small businesses on their growth journey and is seeking to recruit a non-executive director. The company is looking at the next stage of growth and wants to support the founder and leadership team by placing an expert leader in the field who can guide, mentor and advise. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “We are looking for candidates who can act in an advisory capacity and look to steer and question the management team on its direction, give leadership support and provide insight into past experiences. This is a role with a mixture of governance, project work and mentorship.” The time commitment for the role is one day a month plus communication ad hoc. The salary is negotiable – circa £15,000 to £30,000 per annum. For more information and to apply, email hollie@corecruitment.com
 

Company News:

Existing management team completes deal for Roxie Steak & Wine: The bulk of the London-based steak specialist business Roxie Steak & Wine business has been acquired by its existing management team, Propel has learned. In January, Propel revealed the business, which had sites across south London – in Earlsfield, Putney, Wimbledon, Fulham and Twickenham – had appointed Hilco Global to review its options, which could involve a restructure and sale of the business. It has now learned the existing management were the preferred bidders and the sale has now gone through. A spokesman for the company told Propel: “We have restructured to a more compact group of three restaurants in Wimbledon, Putney and Earlsfield, with butchery continuing at our central Roxie kitchen. Going forward, the business will be led by Sue Hollway, with Richard Hollway taking on a strategic advisory role. The last couple of years have been both challenging and emotional, but the successful restructure of Roxie means we can now get back to doing what we love and do best: delivering incredible steak, value and hospitality to our loyal guests. The future is very exciting as we look to build on our success to date with a brilliant and dedicated team.” It is thought up to eight parties submitted offers for parts or all of the business last month. They are thought to have included offers from the Hush Collection, Buenos Aires Restaurants, and Rosa’s Thai. The restaurants in Twickenham and Fulham have been closed, with the former currently being marketed by Hilco.

UK bubble tea brand Cupp signs 30-site franchise deal: UK bubble tea brand Cupp has signed a new franchise deal to open 30 sites in Scotland over the next five years, Propel has learned. The business, which was founded by Lee Peacock in Bristol in 2012,  has signed the new agreement for Scotland with Adeel Asghar and Mikayla Whittle, of Franchise&. Peacock said: “Franchise& was an obvious choice in partnering with as it has an extensive property, design and build portfolio.” The franchise agreement comes as Cupp, which currently operates 11 sites across Bristol, Cardiff, London, Leeds, Salisbury, and Leicester, looks to add five further sites to its estate in England. Later this spring, the company is scheduled to open three new London sites in The Parkway, Camden; Green Street; and Harrow. It has also secured a site in Reading, and in Wilmslow Road, Manchester. Aiming to set itself apart from other bubble tea operators, Cupp is described as a premium bubble tea brand with an emphasis on being healthy by using real fruit and quality ingredients. Peacock launched the business after he returned from living in Taiwan for three years, where bubble tea is the national drink.

Roadchef set to change hands in £900m deal: Motorway services operator Roadchef is set to change hands in a £900m deal. Macquarie, the Australian financial services giant, has agreed a deal to buy Roadchef from Antin Infrastructure Partners, reports Sky News. City sources said on Thursday (3 March) that a deal was likely to be announced in the next few days. Roadchef is the third-largest motorway services operator in Britain behind Moto and Welcome Break. According to Antin's website, Roadchef has a 22% share of the market by number of sites, with 30 locations across the UK serving 52 million visitors annually. Antin initially invested in the business in 2014 in a deal reported at the time to be worth about £150m. The sale is understood to be to Macquarie's asset management arm, which runs money for third-party investors. The Australian banking group previously owned Moto, selling it to the universities pension scheme USS in 2015.

Blackrose raises £5m to invest in Wear Inns estate, begins Dirty Habit concept roll out: Blackrose, the pub company backed by real estate investment company Aprirose, has raised £5m of new funding to invest in the Wear Inns estate, Propel has learned. Aprirose paid £22.4m for the then 25-strong Wear Inns in July 2018. The Daren Knipe-led Blackrose, which operates circa 40 pubs in total, has raised the new funding from existing investors and its banks in order to carry out an extensive refurbishment programme of the Wear Inns sites. Propel also understands Blackrose has begun to roll out the Dirty Habit concept, which it launched at the end of last year. The concept, which features a new food and cocktail menu as well as an urban, industrial interior, was launched at the group’s site in Whickham, Gateshead. The group is set to open a further Dirty Habit site in Leeds, while its the Porter Cottage site in Sheffield will be relabelled as “Porter Cottage by Dirty Habit”. The company is understood to have a further two sites under consideration for the new concept. The Whickham site features a sports “fan zone” complete with benches, faux grass and multiple TVs.

Papa John’s UK unveils new logo and branding: Papa John’s UK has unveiled its new look branding, starting at a refurbished store in Potters Bar. The updated logo removes the word “pizza”, the possessive apostrophe and the green border and puts the wording in block red capitals. Amit Pancholi, business development director for Papa John’s UK, said: “We are excited to introduce a new look to our branding, which will be gradually rolled out across our 500-plus stores in the UK, starting with Potter Bar. The changes are designed to refresh the brand to give it a fresh bold look.”

RedCat Pub Company takes on trio of Great Northern Group sites: RedCat Pub Company, the investment vehicle from ex-Greene King chief executive Rooney Anand, has added the historic Cross Keys pub in Nottingham to its portfolio of circa 100 sites. The pub, in Byard Lane, has for the last decade been in the hands of the Nottingham-based Great Northern Group, which reopened it in 2011 after taking over the freehold. This follows RedCat’s acquisitions of cafe-bars Copper City, in Nottingham’s Market Street, and Copper in Woodborough Road, Mapperley, reducing Great Northern Group’s portfolio from 11 to eight venues in and around the city. RedCat last month acquired The Crown Hotel in Boroughbridge, Yorkshire, to bring its total hotel room estate to 1,000 rooms. It also this week made Steve Trowbridge its new chief financial officer, adding to the recent appointment of Ed Little as property director.

Taco concept from Breddos Tacos team to open Manchester site: Madre, the taco restaurant and bar concept from the founders of the Liverpool-based Belzan and Volpi and London’s Breddos Tacos, is planning to open a permanent site in Manchester, Propel understands. The Mexican concept plans to open in the city’s Chorlton Street, as part of the Kampus scheme. and comprise 90 covers. The collaboration started in 2018, when Belzan founders Sam Grainger, Owain Williams and Chris Edwards hosted a collaboration event with Nud Dudhia and Chris Whitney of Breddos Tacos, in Liverpool, which sold out in less than an hour. Since then, Madre has been operating at the Escape to Freight Island food hall and entertainment complex in Manchester.

Street Greek lines up two further openings in London: Street Greek, the London-based fast-casual concept, is set to further increase its presence in the capital, after securing two new sites. The Kristina Koncova-led business is understood to have secured a site at 7 Artillery Lane, Bishopsgate, and a site at 88 Upper Street, Islington, for openings later this spring. The business, which was launched in 2019 in Covent Garden, has since grown to seven sites in the capital through a mixture of company-owned and franchise sites. In November, it opened a site in Hawley Wharf Market, Camden. Marc Rogers, of MKR Property, acted on the Bishopsgate and Islington deals. 

Snowfox Group opens 100th Panku concession: Snowfox Group, which owns the YO!, Taiko and Bento brands, has opened the 100th concession site under its pan-Asian street food concept Panku. The opening in the Asda Mount Pleasant superstore sees Panku hit the milestone two years after its launch. It has been rolled out to superstores across the UK. In October last year, Propel revealed Snowfox planned to take the Panku estate from 42 sites to 142 in the space of less than ten months. The concept was developed by Andy Upton and Neil Nugent through YO!’s Taiko Foods arm. Meanwhile, Propel understands that Emma Deabill, who until recently was YO! Restaurants managing director, has been confirmed as Snowfox Group’s new group business development director. Propel revealed last month the business had restructured its management team, which included the appointment of Christian Haas, to the newly formed role of managing director of YO! UK & Ireland. Deabill was understood to be moving to the group’s US business in a senior leadership position. She will report in to Stacy Kwon, who becomes president and chief executive of the company’s US division.

Fletchergate Industries to open eighth site in coming months at flagship Beeston development alongside new Italian restaurant: Two multi-site operators are to open in Beeston’s flagship Square development in the coming months. Italian restaurant Ottimo is due to open in the first week of April, while The Beeston Social, a bar, kitchen and arcade run by Nottingham-based Fletchergate Industries, looks set to be up and running by early May. Daniel Ellis, director of Fletchergate Industries, said the 8,000 square foot Beeston Social will be “somewhere to eat, drink and play, with something for all the family”. He added: “It’s the first time we’ve combined all these features in to one venue and we really hope the people of Beeston enjoy it. The town has so much going for it and we can’t wait to be a part of such a wonderful community.” The venue, which will be the company’s eighth in total, will employ around 70 people. Ottimo will be an Italian restaurant from the team behind Nottingham venues Sans Patrie and Bar Sans Patrie. Owner Ross Considine said: “It’s not going to be like your typical Italian chain restaurant. This will be really well-executed, authentic Italian food, served in relaxed but stylish surroundings. What we’re creating here is something very special and we’re excited to be bringing it to Beeston.” The 3,000 square-foot, 150-seater venue, will create 45 jobs. The multimillion-pound Square redevelopment, masterminded by Broxtowe Borough Council, is currently home to an Arc cinema, which opened in May last year. 

Prospect Pubs & Bars opens fifth site: Prospect Pubs & Bars, owned by Dan Shotton and Mark Draper, who sold Redcomb Pubs to Young’s in 2019, has opened its fifth site. The pair have reopened the Joiners Arms in Bloxham, Oxfordshire, having secured the venue in December. A major refurbishment of the grade-II listed property has been undertaken to enhance the venue’s dining and outdoor areas. Inside, there is space for 130 dining covers thanks to a new orangery restaurant, while outside, an extended 70-cover terraced patio boosts the alfresco drinking and dining options. The food offering focuses on locally-sourced seasonal produce, with pub classics sitting alongside daily specials and vegan and vegetarian options. The drinks offer includes beer, ale, cider, spirits, wine, low and no-alcoholic options and a range of barista-made Fairtrade coffee and tea. As previously reported, the group plans to increase its rate of openings to between five and seven sites annually from this year and is set to open its debut London site, The Cambria in Camberwell.

Michelin Guide-listed restaurant Ka Pao to open at Edinburgh St James scheme this month: Glasgow-based, Michelin Guide-listed, restaurant Ka Pao will open its second site, at the Edinburgh St James scheme this month. As revealed by Propel last year, the south east Asian restaurant concept by Scoop Restaurants, which is behind the awarding-winning Ox & Finch restaurant in Glasgow, will open a 92-cover 3,400 square foot site in the St James Quarter on level four, overlooking St James Square. Ka Pao, a play on the Thai word for holy basil, offers a menu of sharing plates that “unites the very best of UK produce with ingredients, flavour combinations and cooking techniques gleaned from the core team’s travels and experiences working in northern Thailand and Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore, and sampling the uniquely knit Asian influences found in Australia’s modern cuisine”. Scoop managing director, Jonathan MacDonald, said: “Ka Pao is a really good fit to be in a retail led, lifestyle district like St James Quarter.” Ka Pao began life as a pop-up residency and its Glasgow restaurant was awarded a Bib Gourmand in the 2022 Michelin Guide.

Former Prism senior sous chef set to open new Edinburgh restaurant: Chef Tyler King, who was previously senior sous chef at German Michelin-starred restaurant Prism, will be open a new restaurant in Edinburgh later this month. Bridge 15, based within The Bridge Inn on the banks of the Union Canal in Ratho, will open its doors on 15 March. The evening restaurant, which will open Tuesday to Saturday from 6pm- 9pm, will focus heavily on local, seasonal ingredients showcased through simple cooking. King, who before moving to Germany honed his skills at Number One at The Balmoral and Castle Terrace, said his decision to move back to Scotland was influenced by his love for Scottish produce. He said: “I always knew I wanted to come back to Scotland to open a restaurant and showcase the top-quality produce we have here, and I am ecstatic to be part of such an iconic Edinburgh gastropub. The menus at Bridge 15 will be constantly evolving, with daily specials changing depending on what we receive from local suppliers. Being able to work on dishes with vegetables and pork sourced from the pub’s own garden is phenomenal.” Dishes will include Arbroath smokie doughnut with spring onion emulsion and Monkfish mussel XO with burnt leek, pine nut and vermouth sauce.

Former MasterChef: The Professionals semi-finalist to open new restaurant in Harrogate: Josh Whitehead, who reached the last four of MasterChef: The Professionals in 2016, will launch new restaurant and bar Samsons in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, later this month. Situated in Cheltenham Crescent, the venue is set to offer guests “a vibrant yet elegant dining and drinking destination” with an all-day dining menu that will “honour British produce”. It will have space for up to 182 guests and a private wine tasting snug. For the past four years, Whitehead has worked as executive chef at the Harewood Estate, based between Leeds and Harrogate, where he was responsible for the offering at the Harewood Food & Drink Project and Muddy Boots Cafe – making use of produce found on the 4,500-acre estate. He also previously worked as sous chef at the Ox Club in Leeds. Mark Morris, managing director of Samsons, said: “I am thrilled to bring the people of Harrogate and the surrounding area a unique drink and dining location in the heart of the town.”

4C Hotel Group lines up new restaurant at its Canopy by Hilton London City development: Hotel management and development group 4C Hotel Group will this month open a new restaurant as part of its Canopy by Hilton London City development in Aldgate. Opening in mid-March, Penny Squares will be “inspired by the international flavours of London’s vibrant east end neighbourhoods”, offering a “fresh take on the tastes that define the area, rich with spice and flavour”. It will form the cornerstone of the recently opened first Canopy hotel in the UK for the brand, and part of a growing portfolio of locally inspired hotels that encourage guests to experience their surrounding neighbourhood. Leading a menu featuring dishes like baba ghanoush with sesame breadsticks, lemon garlic tahini and pitta will be executive chef Walid Farag – formerly of The Lanesborough, Conrad St James Hotel and Corinthia Hotel – while Daniel Garcia – previously of L'orchidee Boutique Patisserie, La Dame de Pic and The Berkeley Hotel – joins as head pastry chef.

Verdant Leisure makes fourth acquisition in three months to take portfolio to 14 sites: Lancaster-based holiday park operator Verdant Leisure has bought Ballintuim Caravan Park in Perthshire for its fourth acquisition in three months and 14th site altogether. Situated near Blairgowrie in Perthshire, the 127-pitch Ballintuim offers holiday home ownership with spectacular views of the Perthshire countryside. Graham Hodgson, chief executive of Verdant Leisure, said: “Ballintuim is a beautiful park and a perfect fit. Following our acquisition of Erigmore in 2020, we have seen increased demand for holiday home ownership in Perthshire, so we are excited to further expand our portfolio in the region.” After being backed by Pears Partnership Capital in December, Verdant outlined its growth strategy to create a national group. Mark Harper, operating partner at Pears Partnership Capital, added: “The recent acquisitions perfectly complement Verdant Leisure’s existing portfolio of parks. The market is currently full of opportunity, and we are delighted to support Verdant’s growth through further strategic acquisitions.” Verdant Leisure was founded in 2010 and now operates more than 4,500 pitches of privately owned holiday homes and hired luxury holiday accommodation.

Actually Group set to develop new £3m luxury holiday park in Newport: Hospitality and leisure developer Actually Group is set to develop a new £3m luxury holiday lodge park in Newport, Wales. The group has acquired Penrhos Quarry in Caerleon for £1.5m and will now spend double that amount transforming it into an upmarket resort. It has planning permission for four lodges and 24 holiday pods, alongside parking facilities, an office and maintenance building, with work due to get underway in the coming months. Chief executive, Andy Sutton, said: “We are delighted to be welcoming the Penrhos Quarry site to the Actually Group portfolio. We look forward to creating a sustainable site that will complement its beautiful natural setting and inspire more visitors to come and explore this uniquely beautiful part of Wales.” This follows Actually Group’s recently £1.3m acquisition of Anglesey-based holiday retreat Glan Morfa, which it said it would pump £1.5m into upgrading. The group, which specialises in low-carbon and environmentally sensitive holiday developments, also operates sites in Cornwall, the Cotswolds, Cumbria, Devon, Northumberland, North Wales, North Yorkshire and the Usk Valley, and is “coming soon” to Scotland.

Metropolitan Pub Company reopens Wimbledon site as premium gastropub: Metropolitan Pub Company, part of brewer and retailer Greene King’s Premium, Urban and Venture division, has reopened The Swan in Wimbledon as premium gastropub The Rushmere following an extensive renovation. Dating back to the 1860s, the refurbished pub has been named after the iconic pond of the same name on Wimbledon Common. Both the food and drink offering have been revamped, made possible with a brand-new kitchen installed on the first floor. Working closely with Wimbledon Brewery, its drinks list will include a selection of local draught options including Wimbledon Lager and Wimbledon Pale. Outside, a garden area with covers and a pergola has been added. Alex Lockwood-Wells, general manager at The Rushmere, said: “The Swan has always been an incredibly popular local pub, and we’re confident the refurbishment and re-naming will only enhance the site, transforming it into a quality space and making it much more appealing for locals and visitors alike.” This comes after the predominantly London-based Metropolitan Pub Company extended its portfolio north with the opening of The Fountain in Manchester’s Albert Square in November.

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