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Wed 16th Mar 2022 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Osmond – investing in fledgling businesses still on the agenda, healthy pipeline in place for all concepts: Hugh Osmond, founder of Various Eateries, the Coppa Club and Tavolino operator, has said acquiring small groups or fledgling businesses is still on the company’s agenda. He added the group has a healthy pipeline of new sites for all of its concepts, including the recently opened Noci. On acquisition opportunities, Osmond told Propel: “We’ve looked at half a dozen things now, but not pulled the trigger. That has been because of a mixture of people not being sure about what is going on in the sector and the wider world or taking an alternative funding route, and us not necessarily needing anything. We are still looking and it is still on the menu but nothing is imminent. It will probably be semi-opportunistic and if someone comes along and needs funding, a deal might happen quite quickly.” When asked about possible future openings in places such as Guildford (where the company has applied to open in the ex-Gap site in the High Street), Farnham and Windsor. Osmond said: “We're definitely looking at all those sorts of places and quite a few others. We've got quite a few sites close to and ready to sign. We have a healthy pipeline with around a dozen potential sites for Coppa, quite a few for Noci – if the first one goes well. I don't want to tell people we're rolling out a concept that hasn't even traded yet. The world is littered with concepts that haven't worked as well as the founders hoped, even when you've got quite a lot of experience on the team. If it does work, we will be able to take the classic 2,000 to 3000 square foot retail or restaurant premises that have really been hammered over the last couple of years. So, the site requirements are much easier for Noci than Tavolino and Coppa. On Tavolino, there will be more, but we need larger prime sites for it. We will know a lot more when we see how Noci opens (it launched on 11 March in Islington Green), see how it goes and the potential there is for it. At the moment we also have two or three potential sites for Tavolino.” On the impact of rising costs, Osmond said: “I think with our customers the fact they've saved a lot of money and been two years in lockdown will outweigh the cost of living. I get that impression from Coppa-type customers anyway. So, I think if we continue to get clean weeks of trade, we will continue to be up on 2019-20 levels. That’s just my gut feel, obviously, notwithstanding if we get escalations of European wars. I think trade will be pretty good for the industry in the kind of more middle class and up sectors. And I don’t think the cost of living will particularly be the end of the world but we'll see. Obviously, utilities will need to be watched. We’ve got most of our electricity and stuff hedged for the time being.”
 

Industry News:

Sponsored message – Heineken Silver shakes up lager category and introduces opportunities for £5,200 extra revenue for operators: Heineken is launching a new lighter, premium lager brand, Heineken Silver. A spokesman said: “You could earn a further £5,200 annually by switching to new Heineken Silver. Heineken Silver is a premium lager brewed at -1°C for an extra-refreshing taste and smooth finish. At 4% ABV, Silver taps into the needs of 18 to 34-year-olds who are looking for lighter, but still high-quality beverages. Premium lager accounts for £1 in every £2 spent on draught beer. The light lager category has grown market share by 40% in five years, but on average light lager is served at just 10p more per pint than the cheapest lager on the bar – leaving £100m of value untapped. Heineken 0.0 recently energised the no and low-alcohol category, and now Heineken UK is poised to build on that track record by shaking up the lager category with the introduction of Heineken Silver.” Available from 4 April in 30-litre keg and 33cl bottles, Heineken Silver will be backed by £20m of marketing investment, with TV advertising, disruptive social media, in-outlet visibility, mass sampling and exposure at major sporting events. Find out more by clicking here. If you have a sponsored story you would like to see featured in this newsletter position, email paul.charity@propelinfo.com
 
Only 24 of 548 companies in next edition of Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book generating pre-tax profit of more than £5m: Only 24 of the 548 companies featured in the next edition of the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book are generating pre-tax profit of more than £5m. Premium subscribers will receive the latest edition of the Blue Book, which is produced in association with Mapal Group, on Friday (18 March) at midday. The Blue Book shows the effects of the pandemic, with total losses of £7.6bn being reported by 350 companies. However, a further 198 sector companies are still reporting total profits of £828.9m. The Blue Book, which is updated every month and has had 12 companies added to the latest edition, provides an insight into UK operator turnover and profitability over five years, profit conversion and directors’ earnings. Premium subscribers also receive 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. Premium subscribers are also to be given exclusive access to a new database early next month. The UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database will be an exhaustive guide to the companies offering a food and beverage franchise in the UK and be updated every two months. The first edition will feature more than 100 companies, providing insight on the offer, locations, cost and other key details. The first edition provides almost 25,000 words of content. 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.
 
Yapster creates operational excellence mini video series, Temper MD to feature: Yapster has created a mini video series focused entirely on operational excellence as part of its Take the Lead Series. In the third episode, chief executive Rob Liddiard talks to Sam Lee, who has more than 20 years’ hospitality leadership experience, with roles at Greene King, Vinopolis and Searcys prior to founding Temper, where she is managing director. Lee talks about how leaders must be seen to live up to their own stated standards and values in order to inspire the best from employees and how openness sits at the heart of his operating philosophy. The video will be sent today (Wednesday, 16 March) at 9am

Hospitality can be part of the solution to the cost-of-living crisis if given right support: The latest Future Shock report illustrates how, given the right support, the sector can play its part in mitigating the looming cost-of-living crisis, insight from UKHospitality and CGA reveals. The report highlights the vulnerable state of the UK’s pubs, bars, restaurants and nightclubs, with the industry losing nearly a tenth of its licensed premises following the pandemic. It found the worst hit sectors were casual dining chains and nightclubs, which lost 17% of venues, and restaurants, which lost 10%, between March 2020 and now. Those businesses that have survived are now facing a tsunami of soaring costs, including a 19% rise in labour costs, a 17% hike in food prices and a 14% growth in drink prices. While many are trying to absorb as much as they can, operators are expecting to have to pass on an 11% increase in prices to guests at a time when UK consumers are facing their own soaring bills. The report shows that 70% of people are concerned about their long-term finances and more than half (55%) are more worried about their personal finances than they were a year ago. A large majority (85%) are expecting prices in pubs and restaurants to rise this year, which will inevitably result in a drop in footfall and revenue. UKHospitality chief executive, Kate Nicholls, said: “Our analysis shows that the sector will likely be contributing 1.7 percentage points to the national rate of CPI, and that the biggest contributing factor will be the planned increase in VAT from 12.5% to 20% this April. This will compound all the other cost increases and further squeeze businesses. With positive action from the government, however, such as keeping VAT at 12.5%, the sector can be part of the solution to the cost-of-living crisis.” Karl Chessell, director hospitality operators and food, EMEA, added: “The latest report reinforces the feeling of cautious optimism. Hospitality is ideally placed to power the UK’s economic recovery.”

Kate Nicholls – hospitality labour market ‘remains tight’ but sector job creation ‘highlights powerful contribution industry making to recovery’: UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls has said the sector’s labour market “remains tight” despite unemployment falling to below pre-pandemic levels. Nicholls also pointed out jobs in the industry were up 252,000 in a year, “highlighting the powerful contribution we make not just to the economic recovery but social recovery too”. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said there were 1.34 million unemployed in the quarter to January, down 88,000 on the previous three months and below the 1.36 million recorded in December to February 2020. But the figures revealed the tightening squeeze of the cost-of-living crisis, as regular pay failed to keep up with soaring inflation, with average weekly earnings excluding bonuses up 3.8% between November and January. When taking rising prices into account, as measured by Consumer Prices Index inflation, wages fell by 1.6% compared with a year earlier, according to the ONS. It came as the number of workers on payrolls jumped by 275,000 between January and February to a fresh record of 29.7 million, with the ONS saying demand for workers “remains strong”. However, Nicholls tweeted: “But there are still a record number of vacancies across the economy and they continue to grow – there were 1.3 million job vacancies December-February, up almost 9% from 1.2 million the previous quarter. Labour market in hospitality remains tight, constraining growth, ability to meet demand and pace of recovery.” She added: “Jobs in the hospitality sector were up 252,000 in a year, highlighting the powerful contribution we make not just to the economic recovery but social recovery too. Jobs at all ages, all skill levels and crucially in all parts of the country – delivering levelling up in spades. If hospitality is to be able to continue to provide jobs and support wider UK recovery and growth, then the sector needs further support from the government. The key to this will be for the chancellor to keep VAT at 12.5% beyond April.”
 
Fledgling delivery business Foodstuff raises £1.1m toward expansion, Charlie McVeigh becomes chairman: Foodstuff has raised £1.1m in new funding to accelerate the expansion of its food delivery business, and at the same time appointed Draft House founder Charlie McVeigh as its non-executive chairman. The company, which is currently operating in six UK cities, brings together ethically conscious foodies, with “tried and tasted” independent local restaurants. Each order is delivered via 100% emission free vehicles, by drivers that are paid a fair wage for a real job. The latest seed funding round was led by Base Investments UK, with participation from others including McVeigh. The company said the funding will enable it to accelerate its expansion into additional locations across the UK, as well as “turbo-charging the future development of its recently-released Foodstuff mobile app”. Toby Savill, co-founder and chief executive, said: “We're in a game-changing moment for Foodstuff and this funding gives us the firepower to scale-up and connect loads more foodies, with even more high-quality independent restaurants. Our next milestone is to take our brand of ‘food delivery with a conscience’ to ten new operating cities in the UK, with a very ambitious plan beyond.” The business, which is fixing what founders Savill and James Perry think is a broken model, started in Cambridge in May 2020. The company said it had “enjoyed an impressive average monthly growth rate in excess of 10% since January 2021”, prior to the launch of the company's mobile app in November. The company said since launching the app, which has already had more than 20,000 total downloads, the average monthly growth rate has jumped to 36%. McVeigh said: “It’s abundantly clear that there is a community of independent restaurants and aspirational foodies out there who do not feel represented by the delivery giants. Foodstuff is already demonstrating in six UK cities that it can offer an ethical, curated, eco-friendly alternative and the accelerating viral success of each successive city launch confirms there is a market out there looking for something new.”
 
UKHospitality – continuation of face masks in Scottish hospitality settings ‘disappointing’: UKHospitality has expressed its disappointment that face masks will still be required in Scottish hospitality settings. First minister Nicola Sturgeon, giving her latest covid update to Holyrood, on Tuesday (15 March) confirmed hospitality venues in Scotland will no longer have to take customer details. However, face masks will still be required in pubs, bars and restaurants for now. UKHospitality Scotland’s executive director, Leon Thompson, said: “Hospitality businesses will be pleased that the collection of customer details will end as planned next Monday (21 March). However, the extension of the compulsory wearing of face coverings when entering, exiting, and moving around in venues will cause disappointment for many business owners, workers and customers who were looking forward to the end of this most visible of restrictions. As well as the symbolic significance of face coverings, they continue to create practical problems for hospitality workers – as particularly in relation to communication and providing that welcoming smile that guests missed for too long. With no evidence provided that masks are making a difference in combatting the spread of covid in Scotland, businesses will hope for better news ahead of the Scottish parliament’s Easter recess.”
 
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a street food concept in London that is looking for a digital marketing manager. Key responsibilities for the role will include delivering a blend of structured annual plans with the ability to react to tactical business needs, launching new concepts with well-planned campaigns and working with the team to deliver multi-channel campaigns that reach and excite target audiences. The company is looking to speak to people with more than three years’ experience in digital marketing, particularly strong experience in producing and deploying strategic marketing plans. The individual should be able to build the strategy of the digital campaign and coordinate projects while also being creative and have excellent analytical abilities. The role is London based with hybrid/flexible working available and the salary is circa £50,000. For more information and to apply, email Abbie@corecruitment.com
 
Licensing update: Licensing solicitor John Gaunt & Partners has published its latest licensing update providing a useful monthly summary of licensing news. This can be accessed here

Company News:

Global amusement park operator to make UK debut with new leisure concept: Global amusement park operator, Babylon Park, is to make its UK debut with a new leisure concept. The company is opening the site at Camden Market’s Hawley Wharf development in north London. Babylon Park has agreed a deal with LabTech for a 35,000 square foot space, which will be its largest to date. The three-floor leisure venue will be Babylon Park’s flagship location, providing a multitude of activities. These include a roller coaster, drop tower, and bumper cars, alongside video and simulator arcade machines, soft play areas, and karaoke rooms. It is set to open later this spring, with an intergalactic theme that also encourages learning about living more sustainably, and a family-friendly food and beverage offer including soft and hot drinks, ice creams, and waffles. Babylon Park has 19 sites in three different countries, and has plans for further worldwide expansion in the coming years. Efi Malka, owner of Babylon Park, said: “Opening our first venue in the UK, within a space that champions family-friendly concepts in an inviting atmosphere is a great move for Babylon Park. We are looking forward to bringing our new concept here, which will define and set the tone for our expansion across the rest of Europe.” Colliers and CBRE represent Camden Market Hawley Wharf.
 
Pret – London’s finance hubs are almost back to normal: London’s financial districts are getting busier and busier as life returns to normal in the capital, according to Bloomberg’s Pret Index, which last week soared to a pandemic high in the City and Canary Wharf. The Index found transactions are 88% of pre-covid-19 levels there, a performance the company had last reached in November before cases soared the following month. The figure puts banks’ return-to-office efforts in London well ahead of New York’s, with Pret’s sales in the cluster that includes Wall Street standing at 55% of pre-pandemic levels last week. Sales in London’s entertainment and shopping district climbed past pre-pandemic levels for the first time since early December, while Pret’s business in London’s airport terminals rose for the seventh consecutive week as business travel continued to recover. Pret sales in London’s suburbs were broadly unchanged from a week earlier when they had risen sharply as a public transport strike compelled some residents to work from home. The Index also found sales in Pret’s London train station sites are closing in on a pandemic high set in November and are almost entirely back to normal. Pret chief executive Pano Christou said: “Our business continues to recover across the UK, especially as people get back into the office more regularly and life looks like it’s returning to normal. We also see that recovery across our other markets, including Paris and New York, which is an encouraging sign.” The Pret Index is calculated against a baseline from January 2020, before the pandemic upended the cities tracked, and compares transaction data starting from 8 March against the average from that month.
 
German Doner Kebab appoints new UK MD: German Doner Kebab (GDK), owned by Hero Brands, has appointed Sofia Dimen as its new UK managing director to help realise its ambitious growth plans. Dimen, the founder of Basepoint Consulting, is a former senior commercial consultant at law firm Oxygy, where she has worked with brands including Greggs, Pret A Manger, Halo Burger, Daimon Brewery and Wagamama. Her work has involved improving the understanding of franchisee and franchisor relationship as well as auditing departments and boosting profitability. She replaces Daniel Bunce, who was earlier this month promoted to GDK international global chief operating officer. Dimen’s appointment follows a busy 2021 for GDK in which it opened 39 new UK restaurants, with plans to open a further 78 this year. The 2021 period also saw the brand deliver a significant rise in UK total sales, up 75% from the previous 12 months, with like-for-like sales also up 27% on 2020. Now employing more than 3,500 people across the country, the brand boasts a development pipeline of 350 franchise units over the next seven years, and further growth is set to be announced for Ireland and Spain. Imran Sayeed, group chief executive, said: “I fully expect Sofia to not only be influential in helping us meet our ambitions of opening 78 restaurants in 2022, but drive the growth of our footprint in the next few years as we aim to reach 350 stores. We are growing at a great pace, and in her new role, Sofia will also be leveraging her significant experience to support operations, marketing and developing franchise business relationships. Her experience within the retail and hospitality sectors will be invaluable from an operations and franchise relationship perspective as we bring greater momentum to our growth ambitions in the UK.”
 
Paul Dunford joins Zizzi as people director: Paul Dunford, formerly of Nando’s and Five Guys, has joined the Azzurri Group-owned Zizzi as its new people director, Propel has learned. Dunford was previously people director of better burger brand Five Guys from summer 2020 to the end of last year. Prior to that, he spent almost 11 years at Nando’s, most recently as head of people, architecture and reward. Last month, Propel reported the TowerBrook Capital-backed Azzurri Group is to add two further Zizzi sites to its estate over the coming months. The Steve Holmes-led group is on site for openings in Leicester’s Fosse Park and on an ex-BHS unit in Lancaster. Azzurri currently operates 129 sites under its Zizzi brand in the UK, plus three in Ireland.
 
JD Wetherspoon puts up price of a pint by 20p in London and 10p elsewhere, eyes new Marlow pub: JD Wetherspoon has increased the price of a pint in its pubs by 10p across the UK, and 20p in London. The increase works out at around 4% in the capital and 2% across the rest of the country, a company spokesman said. He added: “Occasionally, Wetherspoon does increase the price of its drinks. We always aim to keep our prices as competitive as possible. We believe our drinks offer still represents great value-for money.” This comes after Wetherspoon slashed the prices of many of its drinks and meals towards the end of last year – the cut-price offers having come to an end in February. Meanwhile, Wetherspoon could soon be opening a new pub in Marlow after confirming it has acquired a former clothes shop in the town’s Market Square in a deal believed to be worth around £3.5m. A company spokesman told the Bucks Free Press there are no details on opening dates yet as it still needs to obtain both planning and licensing permission. The pub would be based next door to a former kitchenware shop, which is currently undergoing works to transform it into an Everyman Cinema. Wetherspoon also recently revealed plans to spend £2m turning a former Prezzo building in nearby Beaconsfield into a new pub. Elsewhere, Wetherspoon is investing £3m in extending its Master Mariner pub in New Brighton, incorporating the adjacent Lacy’s Bar, into a new-look pub with beer garden. The existing pub will close on Monday (21 March) and the new one will open in August.
 
GSG Hospitality to expand Bold Street Coffee concept to four sites by doubling up in Manchester, more set to follow: Independent restaurant and bar business GSG Hospitality will open a fourth site for its Bold Street Coffee concept later this year, at the University of Manchester’s University Green. The outlet will open in time for the return of students in September and will have an outside terrace area plus space for up to 80 people inside. Serving up speciality coffee roasted in-house and featuring independent guest roasters on rotation, the new site will offer a full breakfast, lunch and brunch menu. It will also sell its own range of coffee beans, guest roasts and home brewing equipment. Matt Farrell, co-founder of GSG Hospitality, said: “The transformation to the Oxford Road corridor in the last few years has been dramatic, and the ever-expanding vibrant university makes this a diverse and exciting place to set up the next Bold Street Coffee. We are pleased at GSG to be adding extra roots in the Manchester food and drink scene, with more to follow later in the year. After such a difficult few years, there is an air of expectation around, and I think this marks the start of an exciting time for the city, speciality coffee and northern hospitality.” Bold Street Coffee made its debut in the Liverpool street it’s named after in 2010, adding a second site, in Manchester’s Cross Street, in December 2021, and a third, in Liverpool’s The Plaza, last month.
 
Fleet Street appoints Steve Sharp to head new brand and creative services division: Fleet Street, the strategic communications agency that specialises in food, drink, leisure and hospitality, has appointed Steve Sharp to head a new brand, visual and creative services arm. Sharp, who has previously led creative and marketing functions at two London-based hospitality and lifestyle design agencies, Mystery and Tonik Associates, has joined Fleet Street with immediate effect. He will work with the senior team at Fleet Street, led by Mark Stretton and Tess Pennington, to build the new division that will sit alongside and complement the agency’s existing suite of communications services. Fleet Street chairman Steve Dann said: “This is a natural and timely step for our business. A comprehensive brand and creative design service fits very well with our existing client services and also reflects the increasing need to develop campaigns that are fully integrated, with a bank of rich creative assets at their heart, that can live digitally, and across social media, as well as elsewhere within the media environment.” Sharp added: “It will help businesses streamline their operations and achieve greater results in a market that is more competitive than ever. The power of brand is key throughout the entire customer experience, and we want to help maximise every opportunity.” Stretton said: “We will continue to look at additional opportunities to build and develop new services, as part of our ambition to become the leading strategic communications consultancy in UK food, drink, leisure and hospitality.”
 
200 Degrees to open in Barnsley for 16th site next month: Nottingham-based coffee roasters 200 Degrees will next month open its 16th site, in Barnsley’s new The Glass Works development. Opening on Monday, 25 April, the 101-seat coffee shop will be located in Cheapside at the entrance point to the scheme’s shopping concourse, and will also boast an enclosed outdoor seating area for up to 25 people. 200 Degrees co-founder, Tom Vincent, said: “We are thrilled to be coming to Barnsley and can’t wait to become ingrained in the community. We will of course be bringing our signature roast to Barnsley, along with a wide selection of freshly prepared breakfast and lunch options, accompanied by cakes and pastries that we’re sure will be popular.” The Glass Works, a new leisure, food and drink and retail space, was unveiled in September last year and will house branches of Nando’s and Fridays as well as a 13-screen Cineworld multiplex. In November, Hill Street Capital founder, Paul Campbell, joined 200 Degrees Coffee as chair to assist with its expansion plans.
 
Lost Boys Chicken founder launches new takeaway concept, continues Sessions partnership: Tomas Samandi, founder of Lost Boys Chicken, which now has more than 30 UK locations, has launched a new takeaway concept, Chick Chick Crew. Seen as an “extension” of the Lost Boys model he founded in 2015, Samandi has launched Chick Chick Crew at Market Halls Oxford Street and on Deliveroo across the country, with a second site, at Market Halls Canary Wharf, to open later this month. It will offer a tailored menu, which has taken into account customers feedback from Lost Boys Chicken and incorporates chicken burgers, wings, vegan options, sides and sauces. Starting out as a pop-up in a Brighton pub, Lost Boys then opened at a local food hall in partnership with Sessions, the food hall concept led by former Deliveroo managing director, Dan Warne. Lost Boys’ expansion to circa 35 delivery-only sites was also in partnership with Sessions, and Chick Chick Crew continues the link-up with the Imbiba-backed concept. 
 
Madre confirms plans to open permanent site in Manchester: Madre, the taco restaurant and bar concept from the founders of the Liverpool-based Belzan and Volpi and London’s Breddos Tacos, has confirmed it will open a permanent site in Manchester. As revealed by Propel last month, the Mexican concept will open in the city’s Chorlton Street, as part of the Kampus scheme, this spring. The new site will offer tacos, small plates, ceviche, tequila and mezcal. Chris Edwards, co-founder of Madre, said: “Madre is perfect for a party city like Manchester. Taquerias can be pretty raucous, social spaces but at the same time have a family feel, where people come together to share amazing food. We’ll be bringing that vibe to Kampus, with iconic favourites alongside a drinks menu stacked with margaritas, natural wine and local beer. Madre de-mystifies traditional Mexican food, serving up new plates made with top quality local produce and a love for authentic flavours. We knew we had to be part of Kampus, we love the heritage building and we’ll be in top company with the other independents signed up.” The Madre 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.
 
Fulham Shore lines up Windsor opening for Franco Manca: Fulham Shore is to open a site in Windsor, under its fast-growing pizza concept Franco Manca. The David Page-chaired company is to take on the former White Stuff site in the town’s Peascod Street, for an opening later this year. It will open sites under the brand in Bishop’s Stortford and Cheltenham this month, with sites in Canterbury and Didsbury set to come online next month. The business recently applied to turn a former clothes shop in Lincoln High Street into a Franco Manca. Last month, Fulham Shore secured the lease for a former PizzaExpress restaurant in Stockbridge, Edinburgh for a second Franco Manca site in the city. It has also applied to bring Franco Manco to Wales, via a former Cornish Bakehouse site in Cardiff, and plans are in the pipeline for openings in Esher, Chichester, Salisbury, Liverpool and Lewes too. Fulham Shore currently operates 57 Franco Manca outlets and 21 Real Greeks in the UK, and said in December it had another 21 potential sites in solicitors’ hands for both concepts. A new Real Greek will also open later this month, in the former home of world buffet chain Big Lukes in Old Eldon Square, Newcastle.

South London-based pub group doubles up with second venue, third to follow later this year: South London-based pub group, Queen House, will open its second venue, The Greyhound, this Friday (18 March). Set on the corner of Peckham High and Hill Streets, the gastropub joins sister venue The Paxton, in Norwood’s Gipsy Road, in the Queen House portfolio, with a third site, The Royal Oak, to follow later this year. The Greyhound will offer independent craft beer, cocktails, vegan street food, artisan pizza and drag-inspired Sunday roasts. It will also provide, for £10 a day, co-working spaces with bottomless coffee or tea, lunch and a beer or cocktail at the end of the day. It is also planning a programme of live events including live acoustic sets, DJs, open mic nights, dance, comedy and theatre.

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