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Mon 7th Mar 2022 - Nick Varney joins Marston’s board
Nick Varney joins Marston’s board: Marston’s has appointed Nick Varney as a non-executive director to the board, with effect from 1 July 2022. Varney will also join the Nomination Committee and the Remuneration Committee. He has over 30 years’ experience in the leisure industry and was appointed chief executive of Merlin Entertainments in 1999. Having started his career in consumer goods marketing, initially with Nestle Rowntree (1984-1988) and then with Reckitt & Colman (1988-90), he went on to hold senior positions within The Tussauds Group (Pearson, prior to becoming managing director of Vardon Attractions and a main board director of Vardon between 1995 to 1999). The company added: “In 1999, Nick led the management buyout of Vardon Attractions to form Merlin Entertainments, driving the company’s dynamic growth strategy through several private equity partnerships and a successful IPO in 2013 as a FTSE250 constituent company through to its subsequent privatisation in 2019. Merlin continues to grow under his leadership and currently operates 136 theme parks and attractions, as well as hotels and holiday villages in 24 countries across four continents. In addition, Nick is a board member of UK Hospitality, the trade body representing the UK’s hospitality and tourism industry.” William Rucker, chairman of Marston’s, said: “I am delighted to welcome Nick to the Marston’s board. Under his stewardship, Merlin Entertainments has become a world-class international business with customer experience at its core, delivering digital transformation through customer-friendly platforms. This, together with his brand-building insight and expertise in building a diverse portfolio of family-based leisure brands and attractions, will be invaluable to Marston’s at this exciting juncture. We very much look forward to working with Nick and benefitting from his highly complementary skillset.”

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.

Nightcap lines up further Cardiff opening, removes Russian vodka from all bars: Nightcap, the owner of The Cocktail Club, the Adventure Bar Group and the Barrio Familia group of bars, has announced a further opening for The Cocktail Club in Cardiff in early May – and is to remove Russian vodka from all its bars. The company stated: “The latest The Cocktail Club, which is located at 75 St Mary Street, Cardiff, covers an area of approximately 3,400 square feet over three floors. The site has a 3:00 am license Monday to Sunday and has an unrestricted capacity of 220. This opening is the second new opening in Cardiff for Nightcap after it announced it would open a new Tonight Josephine in Cardiff in early April 2022. In addition to the three new openings scheduled for this year and alongside its existing 27 sites, Nightcap has a further 24 premises under offer or in legal negotiations and continues to see favourable market conditions for site acquisitions across the country. The board, management team and entire staff within Nightcap decided on 28 February 2022 to remove the sale of Russian Vodka across all 27 venues. On 4 March 2022, we introduced Ukrainian Vodka to our menu as a replacement across the entire estate.” Sarah Willingham, chief executive of Nightcap, said: “Cardiff has been high on our list for new openings for some time, therefore I am delighted to announce the latest lease signing for The Cocktail Club following hot on the heels of Tonight Josephine’s planned opening in Cardiff in the coming weeks. Just as we have already proven in Clapham and Shoreditch, we can successfully launch several of our brands into the most relevant locations for late night drinking and partying across the country. With our second venue in Bristol trading ahead of management’s expectations since its opening in November and knowing that Cardiff is a vibrant city, our expectation for this new site is high. We can’t wait to bring The Cocktail Club energy and magic to St Mary Street in early May. This is the fifth completed lease for The Cocktail Club since Nightcap acquired it little over a year ago and the second in successive weeks following the lease signing in Exeter which demonstrates how committed our teams are to execute on our plan to become the leading bar group in the UK.”

Various Eateries reports very strong trading: Coppa Club operator Various Eateries has reported very strong trading post re-opening facilitated by large outdoor spaces. It reported better ‘than expected Coppa Club estate like-for-like growth of +21% from full reopening on 17 May 2021 to its full year end on 3 October (compared to 2019)’. It stated: “Several Coppa Club sites delivered multiple record weekly and monthly sales performances in the period (and we saw an) encouraging reopening performance from Tavolino site in central London, building to positive monthly like-for-like trading in September 2021 (compared to 2019).” It opened Coppa Club Cobham (December 2020) and Coppa Club Clifton Village (July 2021) with both performing ahead of internal budgets. The company appointed property director Raj Manek (non-board position) to accelerate site acquisition programme. In the four full weeks since Plan B measures were lifted, sales from Coppa Club sites outside of London were up 25% (compared to 2020).The company said it is ‘poised to capitalise on unprecedented site opportunity in terms of both availability and terms’. It opened Coppa Club Putney in November 2021 with Coppa Club Haslemere and Coppa Club Bath expected to open in the first half of calendar year 2022. It reported a pipeline of high-quality prime sites ‘continues to grow, with several agreed or in advanced negotiation’. It added: “Management experience coupled with healthy liquidity and a robust balance sheet puts the group in a strong position to accelerate growth as the effects of the pandemic subside. Total group revenue for the year was up 36% to £22.3m (2020: £16.5m) Adjusted Ebitda was £1.2m (2020: loss of £0.8m). There was a total loss of £3.7m (2020: £14.4m). It has cash at bank of £19.7m as at 3 October 2021 (2020: £0.9m).” Andy Bassadone, executive chairman of Various Eateries, said: “I am incredibly proud of all our people, and all the resilience they’ve shown through another volatile and challenging year. It is thanks to them that we have been able to bounce back from periods of closure, delivering exceptional results in times of unrestricted trading. What is clear is that the appeal of our brands holds strong. While open, Coppa Clubs have been in high demand, breakfast through to evening drinks, while Tavolino continues to be popular with City-dwellers. Our hotels, similarly, saw great wedding and staycation trade in the Summer. Our newest Coppa openings, Cobham and Clifton Village, have performed ahead of internal budgets and are fast becoming community favourites. Post-period, notwithstanding the impact the introduction of ‘Plan B’ had on our estate over the Christmas period and through much of January this year, recent trading has been encouraging with momentum building as consumer confidence increases. This trend underpins our positive expectations for the future, and with more new site openings on the horizon, together with solid consumer demand and a management team at the helm with a track record of success, we look forward with confidence.”

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