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Mon 7th Mar 2022 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Metcalfe – at last we are back to 2019 sales, by June the ‘City will be rocking’: Julian Metcalfe, founder of Itsu, the healthy Asian food chain, has told Propel the company’s sales are at last back to 2019 levels and he believes by June “the City will be rocking”. Metcalfe said the success of the group’s recent regional openings and the backing of Bridgepoint, which acquired 30% of the business from Ambrosia SPV last year, had given the company the confidence to commit to 25 new store openings this year and “also next year and the year after”. On trading since the turn of the year, Metcalfe told Propel: “At last we are back to 2019 sales with quite a few record sales outside London as our hot food sales continue to climb up to 50% of the sales mix. Recent new openings in Bath, St Albans and Guildford have been incredibly successful, enough for us to commit to 25 new store openings this year and also next year and the year after. We are now building a showstopper in the new St James Quarter development in Edinburgh, as well as sites in Woking, Hampstead and Bromley. Bridgepoint’s acquisition of a 30% minority stake has given us huge finance power coupled with a fantastic resurgence of sales and Ebitda, so the 25 new stores a year are on track. At last, nutritious fast food is more in demand than ever. The City of London sales and work from home does still throw a blanket over an otherwise tremendous outlook. By June, the City will be rocking.” Itsu recently made its European debut with the opening of a site in Brussels airport, which Metcalfe said was “doing well”. Propel understands Itsu is close to agreeing a significant multi-site deal in France, with “various other countries on the way”. On rising costs, Metcalfe said the business had so far raised prices by 2.1%. He said: “We have increased efficiency while maintaining quality. We have gone heavily into tech to help the pressure on staff costs, including kiosks rolled out across the whole company.” On the group’s grocery arm, Metcalfe said the company, which has pulled out of its Russian venture, “enjoyed another 65% growth year for the third year running”. He said: “It is on track to do £100m of sales in 2026 and will do about £45m this year alone.” Last year, the business successfully renegotiated and extended its current banking facility, of £10m, until the end of 2022. In the year to the end of 2020, the entire Itsu business reported turnover of £61.7m (2019: £127.8m), with pre-tax losses widening from £1.54m to £18.5m.

Industry News:

Seventh edition of The New Openings Database sent to Premium subscribers, 15,720-word report included: The seventh edition of The New Openings Database, which is produced in association with StarStock, has been sent to Propel Premium subscribers. It shows the details of 279 newly announced site openings and upcoming launches. The database, which is published on a monthly basis, shows the details of which company has opened a site or its plans to open one in the future. It has details on what type of site it is and its location. There is also a website link to the businesses so you can find out more about them. 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 also received 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, 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.

Welsh government urged to remove ‘work from home’ guidance: UKHospitality has urged the Welsh government to go further in its lifting of covid restrictions and remove the guidance to work from home. First minister Mark Drakeford announced Wales’ Together for a Safer Future plan on Friday (4 March), signalling the end of legal rules on mask-wearing and self-isolation by the end of the month. But UKHospitality’s executive director for Wales, Dave Chapman, said: “The hospitality sector was hit first, hardest and longest by the pandemic, and so we welcome this shift to a more long-term focus and more sustainable way of living and working. Footfall remains low, however, particularly in high-street and city centre locations, and so we would urge the Welsh government to remove its guidance to continue to work from home to revive our once vibrant high streets. Business is by no means back to pre-pandemic levels yet, and as we approach the second anniversary of the first lockdown, the Welsh hospitality sector still faces huge challenges. Businesses in the sector remain fragile and still need support. At the very least, we need the UK government to commit to keeping VAT at 12.5% beyond April.”

UKHospitality offers to provide sector-led sponsorship scheme as part of Ukraine crisis support: UKHospitality has offered to provide a sector-led sponsorship scheme as it works alongside the government to offer aid and support to those affected by the crisis in Ukraine. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “Like hundreds of millions of others around the world we’re appalled at the humanitarian disaster unfolding in Ukraine. This is especially distressing to the dedicated Ukrainians who work in our sector and others from nearby countries. Our thoughts are with them all. As ever, though, our industry is showing compassion and rising to this latest, tragic challenge. We have been heartened by the initiatives that business owners and their employees have already taken forward. In the last few days UKHospitality has been in close dialogue with the government about how our sector can further support ongoing efforts to help the thousands of people already displaced by this terrible conflict. Our sector is well placed to be part of the global collaborative effort to help the people of Ukraine and to assist with the new humanitarian supported pathway announced by the government last week. We are ready to coordinate offers of accommodation, community support and jobs and have also offered to provide a sector-led sponsorship scheme.”

Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a leisure concept to hire a chief financial officer. This role will oversee all elements of finance, technology, and HR. Initially the chief financial officer will have a team of about ten, however this is set to grow substantially over the next few years. The ideal candidate will be someone who has delt with yield management, limited capacity operations and dynamic pricing, seasonal businesses, systems, funding, expansions, openings, multifaceted businesses and private equity. Ideal location would be along the M4/Home Counties/south west area. For more information and to apply, email Oliwia@corecruitment.com

Company News:

Papa John’s appoints new head of UK operations: Papa John’s has appointed Gavin Lilley as it new head of UK operations, Propel has learned. Lilley replaces James Oakley as general manager of the UK and Ireland, who has decided to leave to explore other opportunities after just over two years in the role. Lilley was previously vice-president, international operational excellence at Papa John's International. He has been with the business for 16 years having joined as a regional training manager for London in 2006. Liz Williams, senior vice-president international, said: “After six successful years at Papa John's, James Oakley has decided to explore opportunities outside of the business. Gavin Lilley, a 16-year veteran of the company, is now heading up Papa John's UK operations. He has a wealth of experience both in the UK and internationally, which will be a real asset as we move ever forwards in the UK.” Papa John’s has more than 500 sites in the UK and has begun rolling out its new branding, starting at a refurbished store in Potters Bar.

The Alchemist keen to roll out new experiential concept across future sites: Bar and restaurant group The Alchemist will look at rolling out its new four-pronged experiential concept, which will be introduced in its Glasgow site when it opens later this year, in any further future sites. The new approach will see the site in Glasgow’s George Square, which is slated for an October opening, split into four separate areas, each with different concepts. As well as Glasgow, the business is believed to be looking at opening two further sites this year. “There will be an amphitheatre, speakeasy, pharmacopeia and dispensary, with plenty of interactive experiences to enjoy,” brand director, Jenny McPhee, told Propel. “The speakeasy is very much for intimate, relaxed drinking with low tables, while the amphitheatre will be full of light and volcanic rock. The pharmacopeia will be a lounge section with apothecary jars with different herbs and ingredients on display, where guests can sit around a tasting table, while in the dispensary, we’re looking at having taps where you can dispense your own drinks. We’re trialling it in Glasgow to see how the space works operationally, and it’s something we’d definitely consider evolving in other venues we have in the pipeline.” Before that, the 20-strong group will reopen its original site, in Manchester’s Spinningfields, on Tuesday, 29 March following a £600,000 refurbishment – complete with new astrology-based branding. This will be followed be a smaller-scale refit of its venue in London’s Cromwell Road along the same lines, and then, gradually, the rest of the estate. “The next phase of our brand journey is the cosmic era,” said McPhee. “We’ve been through lots of different phases, from medieval alchemy to a steam punk era, and now we need to get into the next evolution. We will be testing it in Manchester and then look to bring the rest of the venues along.” A new cocktail menu will also be rolled out across all venues on Tuesday, 3 May, while the Manchester reopening will see a new food offering unveiled, with a lean towards plant-based produce, which will then roll out across other venues in April. “We’ve been working hard on it and managed to our menu up to 47% plant-based,” said McPhee. 

Salt Brewery acquires Stew & Oyster business: West Yorkshire-based Salt Brewery, part of Ossett Brewing Group, has acquired Leeds-based bar and deli group Stew & Oyster. The Jamie Lawson-led Salt Brewery has taken on the Stew & Oyster sites in Malton, Leeds City Centre, Oakwood and Boston Spa. Lawson said: “Towards the end of last year we acquired Stew & Oyster, Kelham Island, which has already undergone a successful rebrand and extensive refurbishment that created our fifth Salt Tap. We’ve got big plans to rebrand and refurbish the group later this year.” Last month, Salt launched its sixth branded taproom, and second in Leeds. Salt Craft + Falafel opened in the newly refurbished former Craft Asylum site in Granary Wharf. The company’s first Leeds site, Salt Craft + Cocktails, opened in East Parade last 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. 

Caravan appoints Jo Fleet as managing director: London-based restaurant, bar and coffee-roasting concept Caravan has appointed Jo Fleet, formerly of Wahaca, Flat Iron and Hawksmoor, as its new managing director, Propel has learned. Fleet will work alongside founders Laura Harper Hinton, Chris Ammermann and Miles Kirby, to oversee the continued improvement of Caravan’s restaurants and be responsible for growth of the company through “measured expansion”. She joins Caravan after completing a successful project at Hawksmoor setting up its Hawksmoor at Home meal kit offer. The offer was launched in lockdown and remains an important part of the Hawksmoor business. Fleet joins Caravan after three years at Flat Iron, the single steak concept backed by Piper. Prior to this she spent seven years at Wahaca, the Mexican restaurant concept, where she saw the growth to 29 sites throughout the UK. She said: “I feel that with my previous experience in growing successful companies I can bring my skills and expertise to be part of the next phase in Caravan's growth.” Harper-Hinton added: “We are building the team for growth in both coffee and restaurants and are delighted to have Jo in the leadership team alongside us.” Propel also understands Caravan’s finance director, Greg Hinchliffe, has moved into a commercial director role. The company said Hinchcliffe will be “developing the financial team to fill the finance director position alongside his continued financial leadership”. Caravan recently opened its latest eponymous site in London’s Canary Wharf. The Active Partners-backed company opened on the ex-Carluccio’s site in Canada Square, underneath The Alchemist. The business currently operates a further five eponymous restaurants across London, Vardo in Chelsea and a roastery headquarters in Islington, both of which opened in 2019.

Just Eat trials smaller chip portions to help combat food waste: Just Eat is giving its restaurant partners the option to offer smaller chip portions after finding it’s the most wasted takeaway item. Having undertaken a new study, The Food Waste Race, with environmental charity Hubbub ahead of Food Waste Action Week, Just Eat reported 72% of participants said they had leftover chips from their takeaways. From this month, customers buying from a select number of Just Eat restaurants will be able to choose between a standard and “waste less” portion to help reduce food waste. The survey also found more than half (53%) of participants said they had leftovers from their takeaways due to portion sizes being too big, and let them go to waste through fear that they would be unsafe to eat later. In addition to the “waste less” chip portion trial, Just Eat is also enabling restaurants to display portion sizes and calories on its menus more easily, and support customers on how to safely store and reuse leftovers through information and inspiration on its app and website. Robin Clark, senior director of global partnerships, sponsorships and sustainability at Just Eat Takeaway.com, said: “The Food Waste Race has brought to light how waste from takeaways can be reduced if people are able to order smaller portion sizes and feel more confident transforming their leftovers into new meals. We’re excited to be trialling our ‘waste less’ chip portions and want to make sure all our customers know how to store, reheat and reuse their leftovers safely so we can tackle food waste in the UK.” The Food Waste Race builds on previous research from Just Eat, carried out with the Sustainable Restaurant Association in 2019, which found that £1.8bn worth of takeaway food is thrown away every year in the UK.

Five Guys secures further London flagship site in Marylebone: Better burger brand Five Guys is set to open a further flagship site in central London, after securing an opening in Marylebone. Propel understands the 136-strong brand has acquired the former Pelican State site in Wigmore Street for an opening later this year. The business, which is backed by Sir Charles Dunstone, has also lined up openings in Tunbridge Wells and the Scotch Corner Designer Village, off the A1 near Richmond. The Tunbridge Wells site will be on the site of home and haberdashery store Close & Hamblin in the Kent town’s Mount Pleasant. Last year, Five Guys chief executive John Eckbert told Propel the diversity of the better burger brand’s consumer base provided it with further growth opportunities, and the business has “a clear shot to 250 to 300 stores” in the UK. At the end of 2021, the brand made its first move into the delivery kitchen segment, with the opening of two trial sites in London, with Deliveroo Editions in Brent Cross and Dulwich. It also has restaurant sites in Manchester Piccadilly and Cardiff’s Newport Road in its 2022 opening’s pipeline. Pelican State, the American seafood restaurant concept, opened a site in the Brunswick Centre last year. The first Pelican State opened on the former Fancy Crab site in Wigmore Street in November 2020.

Revolution Bars Group appoints Alex McMillan as brand operations director: Revolution Bars Group has appointed Alex McMillan, formerly of Mitchells & Butlers (M&B), as brand operations director for its Revolución de Cuba brand, Propel has learned. McMillan joins the Rob Pitcher-led business after more than eight years with M&B, including six years as a regional operations manager. In that role, she has responsibility for four areas – the south west, Wales, Birmingham and Manchester and the north west – comprising circa 60 businesses with sales totalling £50m per annum. She has also had stints at Welcome Break and KFC. She replaces Clinton Ghent, who joined NQ64, the immersive retro arcade bar concept backed by Imbiba, as its new operations director earlier this year. Last week, Revolution Bars Group, which operates 67 bars trading mainly under the Revolution and Revolución de Cuba brands, reported like-for-likes up 6% since “Plan B” restrictions ended compared with the same period in 2020. The company said notwithstanding some ongoing restricted trading in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, like-for-like sales for the year to date since “Freedom Day” on 19 July 2021 are up 0.5%. It now expects to deliver full-year adjusted Ebitda at the top end of market expectations.

Marston’s appoints Sam Wignell as operations director of Premium Food: Marston’s has appointed Sam Wignell, formerly of Boparan Restaurant Group (BRG) and S4labour, as its operations director of Premium Food, Propel has learned. Wignell previously spent more than two years as chief customer officer at S4labour. He joined S4Labour after three years at BRG where he was brand operations director. He also previously worked at Mitchells & Butlers and Tesco Family Dining. He spent more than ten years at M&B, including the last two and a half years as a retail director. While at Tesco, he spent a time as chief operating officer of coffee brand Harris + Hoole. At Marston’s he will report into Sharon Singh, the company’s operations director for its food-led pubs.

Douglas Jack – we estimate Domino’s franchisees have shared a £0.25bn profit windfall over the past 18 months, which could finance planned expansion: Peel Hunt leisure analyst Douglas Jack has estimated Domino’s franchisees have shared a £0.25bn profit windfall over the past 18 months, which could finance planned expansion. Issuing a “Buy” note on the shares with a target price of 475p ahead of the company’s full-year results on Tuesday (8 March), Jack said: “Domino's already stated in January that these results should be in line and as a consequence of its three-year agreement with franchisees. The food delivery market has shown no sign of slowing since covid-19 restrictions started to ease in early January. The first half comparatives for this year are difficult at 19.3% (due partly to lockdown in the first quarter of 2021), assuming Domino's reports current trading versus this time last year. If it compares like-for-like sales to pre-pandemic levels, like the rest of the leisure sector, then 2021E should be up more than 20%, in our view. It should also continue to show underlying like-for-like sales, ex-VAT impact. Margins should be under pressure from higher food and fuel prices in 2022E. However, we estimate that purchasing costs are little more than 15% of system sales, and all products but cheese are passed on via a gross profit margin basis. We estimate Domino's franchisees have shared a £0.25bn profit windfall over the past 18 months, which could finance planned expansion and accommodate incremental operating costs over the medium term. However, some of these costs should be passed on, a trend that is likely to occur across the hospitality sector. Working together, the company and franchisees have a great opportunity to drive up system sales, albeit with the company giving up some margin in the process. Reflecting the franchisee agreement, the shares re-rated to 21 times price-to-earnings ratio (versus a 23 times historical average), but have slipped back into 17 times (2022E, on an IAS 17 basis). We view this as a good buying level given £0.55bn could potentially be returned to shareholders over the next three years.”

BrewDog founder complains to BBC and Ofcom and calls for apology: BrewDog founder James Watt has formally complained to the BBC and media regulator Ofcom over the BBC Scotland documentary The Truth About BrewDog, which was broadcast on 24 January. Watt has previously called the programme a “hatchet job” containing dozens of inaccuracies and false claims. The BBC broadcast the documentary again on 23 February with eight corrections, but still containing what BrewDog claims are “the most serious claims” against Watt. The company said it has evidence to prove that claims that some female workers were deliberately scheduled off-shift or accompanied by others to avoid attention from Watt are false. In an article on the BrewDog website, Watt said: “The so-called ‘Truth about BrewDog’ was anything but. The grossly false picture painted by this documentary is simply not true. These are deeply hurtful and damaging lies based on the claims of a very small group of ex-employees working directly with the BBC, and I will fight to put the record straight. The BBC should apologise.” BrewDog said its lawyers have written to the broadcaster citing Section 5.2 of Ofcom’s Broadcasting Code, which states that “significant mistakes in news should normally be acknowledged and corrected on air quickly”. It has followed up with a complaint directly to Ofcom over two further alleged breaches of the code, including Section 7.9, which seeks to ensure that “material facts have not been presented, disregarded or omitted in a way that is unfair to an individual or organisation”. Watt said in January that BrewDog plans to open more than 30 sites this year.

Soho House to open Brighton members’ club later this month: Soho House, operator of members clubs, restaurants, spas, workspaces and cinemas across the globe, will open Little Beach House Brighton at the end of March. Its third UK Soho House outside of London and first coastal site, Little Beach House is a long-time ambition for founder and chief executive Nick Jones, as a place for Brighton’s creative community to “come together to eat, drink and collaborate”. Situated in Madeira Drive, the grade II-listed building overlooking the beach will include event spaces, a terrace pool looking, a club space with a bar, and a Club Cecconi’s restaurant serving northern Italian dishes. It is also connected by a courtyard to the Soho Works building, which will launch later in 2022. Jones said: “So many of our existing members live in Brighton, so it seemed like a natural step to open a local House in the city. It is a brilliant place, full of progressive spirit that our members love.” Little Beach House Brighton will be accessible to members and their guests only.

Gary Usher lines up first pub site: Chef Gary Usher, who is behind the north west-based Elite Bistros business, has announced he is in talks to acquire his first pub, the White Horse in the Cheshire village of Churton. Situated on the main road between Chester and Wrexham, the Admiral Taverns-owned pub has been on the market since the start of last year through Everard Cole. As of last November, freehold offers in excess of £375,000 were being sought for the pub. Usher, who is set to launch a £2m crowdfunding offer next month, tweeted over the weekend: “We are in the middle of buying the White Horse pub in Churton but it’s not complete. I’ve always loved it there and it would be a dream for us to run it. If we get it, I don’t want to rip it apart and change the way it looks. I love it. Our plans at The White Horse are pretty simple, we want to serve great drinks, delicious unpretentious food by a team that loves what it does. I’m keen to hear what the local community likes. All I ask is go easy on us, this is our first pub, we won’t get it all right straight away.” Usher announced last month he plans to launch a new crowdfunding campaign to raise £2m to “strengthen the business, create a new brand within it and open three new sites”. One of the new sites is expected to be a tapas restaurant called Joya Tapas. Usher is no stranger to crowdfunding. Elite Bistros’ sites include Sticky Walnut in Hoole, Chester, which opened in 2011; Burnt Truffle in Heswall on the Wirral; Hispi in Didsbury, south Manchester; Wreckfish in Liverpool; Pinion in Prescot; and Kala in Manchester, which opened in 2019. All sites apart from Sticky Walnut were crowdfunded. The group also crowdfunded the launch of the catering arm of its business that was founded out of lockdown following the popularity of the Elite Bistros at Home meal kits.

DoorDash looked at buying Deliveroo: American food delivery company DoorDash explored a takeover of Deliveroo as part of a move to expand into Europe, it can be revealed. DoorDash and Deliveroo are understood to have met over the summer and discussed a tie-up that would have created a delivery giant with almost £4bn in annual sales, reports The Sunday Times. But a deal did not materialise. In November, DoorDash swooped on Finnish rival Wolt in an all-share transaction worth €7bn (£5.8bn). Deliveroo was among a handful of tech firms that shunned a premium listing on the London Stock Exchange in favour of a standard one. Its dual-class structure hands founder and chief executive Will Shu outsized power and voting rights – a status that bars it from a premium listing. Deliveroo sold shares worth £1.5bn in its £7.6bn float last March, with existing shareholders cashing in £500m. Since then, the shares have fallen to 107.75p – 72% below their listing price of 390p. They have closed at or above the listing level on just two days and the company’s current market value is £1.9bn. Hedge fund, Marshall Wace, has taken an £11m short position in Deliveroo, reports The Mail on Sunday. Until now, no short positions – where traders gamble on the price falling – have been listed on the Financial Conduct Authority monitoring list. Only shorts above a certain threshold need to be published. 

Gordon Ramsay Restaurants confirms Scotland debut site for Street Burger concept: Gordon Ramsay Restaurants has confirmed it is to open a site under its Street Burger concept in Edinburgh. Propel revealed last month that Gordon Ramsay Restaurants had applied to open a site in St James Crescent, which is part of the St James Quarter scheme. It has secured a 5,600 square foot site across two floors of the development. The new site, the ninth under the brand, will feature a games lounge and DJ booth alongside a dining area. The chef is understood to have also applied to take the ex-By Chloe site at One Tower Bridge for his fast-growing burger concept, and is believed to be in talks on a site in Farringdon. Last month, Gordon Ramsay Restaurants opened the latest site for its Bread Street Kitchen & Bar premium casual dining concept, in Liverpool. Ramsay has launched the venue in the former Jamie’s Italian in Liverpool ONE. Ramsay currently operates three Bread Street Kitchen & Bar sites in London, plus a Bread Street Cafe in Ealing, and recently opened a Bread Street Kitchen in Edinburgh. Ramsay will also be opening Bread Street Kitchen & Bar, inside the Battersea Power Station development. 

Benugo launches at Coventry’s Warwick Arts Centre: Benugo, the operator of deli cafes and catering in high-profile venues such as the Natural History Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum, has launched a site at Coventry’s Warwick Arts Centre. The largest arts centre outside of London, the venue has recently undergone the largest transformation in its 48-year history. Situated in the building’s new foyer, the Benugo Bar & Kitchen is open daily from 9am-11pm, serving carbon neutral coffee and pastries alongside freshly made pizzas and dishes such as harissa and chilli pulled lamb shoulder, and cucumber sambal and tzatziki on flat bread. A special children’s menu will be available at weekends, while Benugo will also run the theatre bar. Warwick Arts Centre director, Doreen Forster, said: “With our amazing new cinemas and superb reconfigured gallery spaces now open, the arrival of Benugo Bar & Kitchen completes our transformation.”

SSP signs deal to develop F&B offer at new Chinese airport: SSP Group, the operator of food and beverage outlets in travel locations worldwide, has signed a deal to develop the food and beverage offering at the new Huaguoshan International airport, in the Chinese city of Lianyungang. The three to five-year contract will see SSP operate five concession units throughout the airport, two landside and three airside, all of which will be self-service and mobile ordering-enabled. The line-up will include SSP’s Italian-style coffee brand Ritazza; Burger King; Chinese restaurant A’Xiang Rice Noodle, which has more than 600 stores across China; and Rong Li Ji, which delivers Sichuan cuisine with a modern twist. The introduction of Rong Li Ji marks SSP’s first venture with the brand, and further units are expected to open at other locations across the regions. Jonathan Robinson, SSP chief executive Asia-Pacific, said: “Over the past two years, we have seen a marked shift in the way customers wish to interact with food and beverage outlets. With this latest contract, we endeavour to elevate the experience that customers have come to expect from us through the implementation of digital ordering services. Passengers that visit Huaguoshan airport can now order from their favourite local and international brands in the way that suits them.”

M&B appoints new non-executive director: Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) has appointed Amanda Brown as a new non-executive director. Brown will join the board with effect from 4 July and will also join the audit committee, which she will chair, along with the remuneration and nomination committees. Brown is currently the chief HR officer of Hiscox, from which she will be stepping down with effect from the end of June and a non-executive director and chair of the remuneration committee of Micro Focus International. Brown has previously held senior executive roles with Whitbread, PepsiCo, and Mars. Bob Ivell, chairman of M&B, said: “As indicated in the 2021 annual report, the board and its nomination committee has continued to review the composition of the board and its balance of skills and experience. We are sure Amanda's experience and contribution will be hugely valuable in the continued progression of M&B.”

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