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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Wed 30th Mar 2022 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Peach Pubs appoints advisors as it undertakes strategic review, secures further site: Gastropub operator Peach has appointed advisors as it undertakes a strategic review and seeks external investment to continue its growth plans, Propel has learned. The 20-strong business is understood to be working with finnCap Cavendish on the review, which may include the sale of a stake in the business. It comes off the back of strong trading by the group and as it secures a further site, The White Lion in the Warwickshire village of Radford Semele. Co-founder Hamish Stoddart told Propel: “2021 we were solidly over 20% like-for-like. The team was amazingly flexible and enthusiastic, and we got most things right, which continued even with covid pressure. In the last five weeks we have traded at 16% vs 2019, that’s 13% ahead of the Coffer Peach Tracker. We are in a position of strength, with no net debt and a fund of cash ready for acquisitions, and we are acquiring single sites already. We are privately owned, which means we have choices on what to do and when. We do review our strategy regularly, and we have chosen to do it with finnCap Cavendish this time. Our Pub Ebitda is over £6m now, and the business is positioned to grow. We may well choose to accelerate growth, which may require funding.” The company previously explored the market in 2018 and received interest from The Restaurant Group, Punch and Brasserie Bar Co, with the former understood to be in exclusive talks on a deal, before its attention turned to acquiring Wagamama. The company is set to invest £900,000 in The White Lion, which has been trading at £10-15,000 a week. The acquisition brings the company’s “Warwickshire pod” up to six pubs. Stoddart said: “We are really excited about this one, it’s our first destination pub in Warwickshire, all the others are town or suburb centre based. It’s an old character building with 120 covers and a great garden. It’s great to get another one with Greene King. As usual, we worked hard with them to get a deal right for us both.” In January, the company reported sales outperforming pre-pandemic levels and set its sights on securing up to four new pubs in 2022. It opened its latest, The Drummond at Albury in Surrey, last December.

Industry News:

Variety of bakery and coffee shop concepts set to join updated Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies: A variety of bakery and coffee shop concepts are among the 69 new multi-site companies being added to the next edition of the Propel Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies, which will be released on Friday (1 April), at midday. The updated Propel Multi-Site Database, which is produced in association with Virgate, features 87-strong bakery brand Wenzel’s, which is a family-run business, and has recently opened a new bakery at 70 High Street, in Chelmsford. Also added this month is Edinburgh-based coffee shop and bakery Fortitude, which was founded by Helen Coburn in 2014, and has recently opened a third site, in Newington Road. In addition, London-based catering firm Humdingers Catering, which was founded by Robert Hunningher in 2006 and has two bakeries and soup kitchens, will be featured. Meanwhile, bagel concept The Steamhouse, which is owned by Ashley Baker and now has four sites in its portfolio, is included. Premium subscribers will also receive a 5,156-word report on the new additions to the database. The comprehensive database is updated monthly and 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. It features more than 2,000 companies. Premium subscribers will also receive the eighth edition of the New Openings Database, which is produced in association with StarStock, on Friday, 8 April, at midday. It focuses on newly announced openings and upcoming launches in the sector and is updated every month. The eighth edition also includes a 17,700-word report on the new additions to the database. Premium subscribers also receive access to another database – the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which is produced in association with Mapal Group. The Blue Book, which is also updated monthly, provides an insight into UK operator turnover and profitability over five years, profit conversion and directors’ earnings. 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 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.

Helena Hudson to feature in ‘plotting a path forward’ video series: In a new series of Propel videos in conjunction with workforce management tech firm Harri, Propel group editor Mark Wingett talks to leading operators on lessons they learnt during the pandemic, how they are using them to shape their businesses going forward and focus on the opportunities and challenges that are ahead for them, their companies and the sector as a whole. The next video in the series features Helena Hudson, co-founder of the Real Eating Co. The video will be sent at 9am today (Wednesday, 30 March).

Hospitality sales up 3% on 2019 across major UK cities, Glasgow most vibrant: Hospitality businesses are starting to build sales momentum in Britain’s big cities after a steady return of workers, shoppers and visitors – with Glasgow the most vibrant – new research reveals. The latest Top Cities report from CGA and Wireless Social combines sales and device log-in data to assess the performance of Britain’s ten most populous cities over the four weeks to 12 March 2022. Across the cities, sales increased by 3% on the equivalent pre-pandemic period in 2019. It marks a steady recovery from the previous four-week period, when sales were down by 3% on 2019, and from a challenging end to 2021. Every city measured achieved better sales growth than in the mid-February Top Cities report. Top place went to Glasgow, with sales in high single-digit growth from 2019 and check-in numbers increasing for the third period in a row. Birmingham rose five places to second and Manchester was third after recording double-digit sales growth. London is in last place on the list for the third successive period, but while trading and check-ins remain well below the levels of 2019, they did increase over the four weeks to 12 March. CGA client director, Chris Jeffrey, said: “As consumers continue to head back to city centre offices, retail centres and attractions we can hope for further increases in sales and footfall. Appetite for pubs, bars and restaurants is clearly as strong as ever.” Julian Ross, founder and chief executive of Wireless Social, added: “The return to positive, pre-covid sales figures is fantastic news for the sector, with city centres clearly on the way up. It is vitally important that this positive sales uptick continues.”

West End footfall increasing but still below pre-pandemic levels, mayor of London to launch £10m tourism campaign: Visitors are returning to central London hotspots, but numbers are yet to hit pre-pandemic levels, according to new data. The findings, from New West End Company, compares footfall from March 2019 to March 2022 and shows while it’s up compared with 2020, it’s still down 16% on 2019. This comes as the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, announced the launch this spring of a £10m international tourism campaign in a bid to attract more footfall to the capital. Khan said: “I’m committed to doing everything I can to get London back on its feet after the pandemic, and I will continue to work alongside London’s businesses and tourism industry to encourage visitors back to our city. Now that restrictions for travellers coming to the UK have lifted, London is fully open once more, and our new £10m international tourism campaign will help to ensure we retake our place as one of the most visited cities in the world.” The move was welcomed by Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, who said: “London’s hospitality and tourism businesses will be a key economic driver, not just for the capital and the sector, but for wider UK recovery.” Jace Tyrrell, chief executive at New West End Company, added: “While we have seen a strong domestic recovery, with weekly footfall rising by 46% week on week, more needs to be done to entice our much missed and much valued international tourists back to the district as we enter the key summer period.”

Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a hospitality app business based in London looking to recruit a head of people. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “You will drive the continued rapid growth with the amazing team already in place. The head of people position is a challenging role in which you will have the opportunity to impact every employee’s experience and contribute to the delivery of our business vision.” Responsibilities for the role will include setting and driving a people strategy and developing people growth plans that sit perfectly alongside the business growth strategy. Working within the leadership team, the head of people will plan, lead, and deliver on people project activity throughout the business. Taking control of the end-to-end recruitment flow, they will assist in developing great specifications of both jobs and people, overseeing candidate attraction, engagement and the overall candidate experience. The salary is circa £90,000. For more information and to arrange a confidential chat, email

Company News:

Côte unveils first stage of brand evolution with new menu and design: Côte, the French brasserie chain backed by the Partners Group, has marked the start of its brand evolution with a reinvigorated menu. The changes, which will also see the gradual roll-out of a new restaurant design across the Jane Holbrook-chaired, 80-strong business, begin with a menu created by Steve Allen, previously head chef at Gordon Ramsay at Claridge’s. The new menu launch will go live alongside a longer-term refurbishment of the entire Côte estate, which follows on from two new openings in the last year in Solihull and Henley-on-Thames. The company said the changes to its menu include Côte’s French classics alongside regionally inspired dishes such as Monkfish Normande, and new creations including French Toast Américaine. The signature Côte de Boeuf will now be aged for 30 days in the restaurant’s specially built Himalayan rock-salt aging room to give the grass-fed British and Irish beef a deeper, more intense flavour. A revised vegan offering includes Celeriac Fricassée, a “modern and indulgent spin on a classic dish inspired by French Nouveau Cuisine”, while Côte’s new Espresso Martini Crêpes are a “fun twist on a French classic, combining sweet crêpes with the restaurant’s most popular cocktail”. The launch of Côte’s new menu will coincide with the introduction of calorie-labelled menus, in line with government legislation, and will see 38% of main dishes contain less than 700 calories. There will also always be several options to choose a two and three-course meals for 1,000 calories. Holbrook, executive chair of Côte, said: “Côte is known by our loyal guests for high quality French food and our great service. We want to make it even better and showcase the best of modern French cuisine. Led by our team of fabulous chefs, we’re really excited to be launching some new and creative dishes that bring to life what French food is famous for – seasonality, provenance and regionality. It’s also time for us to evolve the look and feel in our restaurants, so, backed by our incredibly supportive owners, Partners Group, we are embarking on an ambitious programme to refresh all our restaurants. Exciting times ahead!” 

Blackwell – Ten Entertainment is ‘in sweet spot of experiential leisure’, three models in place to support growth ambitions: Ten Entertainment Group chief executive Graham Blackwell has told Propel it has three models in place to support its growth ambitions, and the business is “in the sweet spot of experiential leisure”. Speaking following the group’s full-year results, Blackwell said the company would shortly complete on a going concern acquisition in the home counties and was “looking at every opportunity at the moment”. Blackwell also said its first new-build site, at the Printworks in Manchester, had “opened more doors” for the business to grow. He said: “There’s three models we have to support our plans. There’s the traditional retail park, there’s city centre sites similar to the Printworks, and finally there’s those towns with populations of 50,000 to 60,000 people that don’t have a bowling centre. That means there’s significant opportunity for us to expand our UK coverage. There’s a number of greenfield and brownfield sites we are looking at as well as acquisitions, and we have a strong pipeline in place going into 2023. We are in the sweet spot of experiential leisure.” The group, which reported like-for-like sales growth of 41.7% compared to 2019 in the 12 weeks to 20 March 2022, paid out almost £1m in staff bonuses in 2021 as it looked to share its success with its workforce, which Blackwell said was helping drive its successful performance. The business now also has 250,000 followers across its social media platforms. A 7% wage increase this year would be offset by the increase in footfall the business is currently seeing, Blackwell added. The business has previously tied in rates with its utility suppliers until 2024, which means bowling prices have not needed to increase, and while food and drink prices have increased by 5% due to cost rises, Blackwell insisted they were still good value for money. “We’ll continue making inward investment to make sure we sweat our assets,” Blackwell said. “Seven refurbishments are planned this year where we will enhance the experiential offer at those sites. We’ll support this with external growth, continuing rewarding our staff and keep retraining them. It’s a circle that will gain momentum, but the axle will always be a first-class customer experience. We’re adding value to our database, understanding our customers more and it’s indicative in the numbers we are seeing.”

Gusto Italian seeking sites and planning one new opening a year, latest venue a ‘huge success’: Italian casual dining group Gusto is looking to expand at a rate of site a site a year following the success of its first post-company voluntary arrangement (CVA) opening. The Palatine Private Equity-backed group was forced to close six sites following a CVA in September 2020, reducing its estate to 12 sites, but returned to the expansion trail just in December with the opening of a site in Nottingham which introduced the brand’s new look. Chief executive Matt Snell admitted Gusto’s next planned opening – it was in legals on a site in Oxford before Christmas – may fall through, and while 2022 may not see any new openings, more are definitely planned. “We’re trading really well and looking for new sites,” said Snell, speaking in Propel’s Plotting a Path Forward series. “Nottingham has been a huge success, which galvanised us to look for more sites. We tried some new things with the brand which have gone really well, and we’ll be dropping those design icons into existing sites when we do refurbs. We’ve got a really interesting project we’ve nearly signed, but the planners will just not help us, so that could potentially fall by the wayside. We’re looking really carefully in London, and there’s a couple of sites we’re excited about. We want to do something this year but I’m not sure if anything will happen. If it slips into next year, so be it, but we should be opening at least one new restaurant each calendar year going forward.” Snell said the CVA allowed Gusto to cut loose those restaurants which were profitable but “not working for us”, putting it in a healthier and more settled position. He said: “Our business had become over-leveraged with sites which weren’t making a loss but weren’t performing. We removed the risk and reduced it to 12 very profitable restaurants that work for us, which created a stable base we can now build from. We’re in a fantastic position, with every one of our restaurants making lots of money and able to fund new openings from cash flow.”

Brighton Pier Group planning to expand into accommodation, seeking new interactive experiences from abroad: Brighton Pier Group is planning to expand into accommodation for the first time by looking at the feasibility of opening a hotel at its Lightwater Valley theme park. The group is also looking into new interactive experiences for the Yorkshire venue, as well as improving the attractions on offer at Brighton Pier. Speaking to shareholders in an online investor meet following this week’s publication of the company’s interim results, chief executive Anne Ackford said: “There’s a lot of potential for organic growth at Lightwater. It’s on a huge scale, and the attraction only takes up a small part of that. The potential is huge in the retail and food and beverage side of things there, and there is potential also to introduce an accommodation element, which we’re looking at quite seriously at the moment.” Ackford also said the company is looking abroad for possible new additions to the experience offering at its venues. “We’re always looking for new attractions to add in,” she said. “There’s a lot of new things coming on. Five or six years ago, escape rooms were new, and now they’re fairly common. In Lightwater in particular, we have a lot of space to add more in. Lots of different areas to develop, lots of different demographics, but definitely looking at things that come to us from outside the UK. There’s some very interesting interactive stuff coming in that we’re looking at for Lightwater.” In terms of Brighton Pier, Ackford added: “It isn’t physically impossible to increase the footprint of the pier but it’s incredibly expensive to do so. I think it’s more likely that we will utilise the existing space better. We’ve tried to stay abreast of the modern and put lots of new things in while retaining the traditional, but there’s ways of doing it better. There’s a lot of new very exciting things in leisure these days, and I see us bringing more and more of those onto the pier.”

Arc Inspirations secures approval for Manahatta in Newcastle, largest ever investment: Leeds-based multi-site operator Arc Inspirations is set to expand its portfolio of venues with its biggest ever development – having secured approval to launch a £2.5m Manahatta bar in Newcastle. On the site of a former Allied Irish Bank that has been vacant for ten years, Arc Inspirations had to demonstrate its status as an “exceptional” operator in order to overcome significant opposition, given the city’s established “cumulative impact” policy and location of the proposed bar in a designated so-called “stress” area. The scale of the development of the grade-II listed building in Collingwood Street means it is the largest investment in the group’s history. With a capacity for 500 guests, the development will create almost 100 jobs. The Newcastle Manahatta will be the eighth site for the brand, with current locations including Leeds, Manchester, York, Harrogate and, most recently, Birmingham, which opened six months ago. The group currently operates a total of 18 premium bars under the brands of Banyan Bar & Kitchen, Box and Manahatta. The new location is close to Arc Inspirations’ existing Newcastle Banyan branch, in nearby Blackett Street, aligning to the group’s strategy of operating in clusters, with complementary brands located in close proximity to each other in key towns and cities. Arc Inspirations founder and chief executive, Martin Wolstencroft, said: “Expanding our Manahatta brand in Newcastle perfectly aligns with our growth strategy following our new banking agreement with HSBC, and after a record-breaking trading performance last year, both in profit and in sales. We are confident the Manahatta brand will be a popular addition to both the Newcastle social scene and our business, as we seek to significantly expand over the next three-to-five years.”

Rockwater Group appoints Graham Hollinshead as managing director: Rockwater Group, the Luke Davis-led business, has appointed Graham Hollinshead, formerly of Caravan and Wagamama, as its new managing director, Propel has learned. Hollinshead stepped down as operations director of the London-based restaurant and coffee-roasting concept Caravan last month, after more than two years with the business. Prior to joining Caravan, he was managing director of the Soho House joint venture Quentin Restaurants, which oversaw Cafe Monico, Chicken Shop, Dirty Burger, Farm Shop and Pizza East among other concepts. He also worked on the Mollie’s Motel & Diner concept. Hollinshead also spent more than five years at Wagamama. In January, the team behind Rockwater, the three-storey food and beverage destination and community hub in Hove, confirmed it will open a similar venture in Dorset. It intends to turn restaurants and kiosks at Sandbanks and Branksome Beach into a Rockwater Village. The company said the two prime seafront sites will help drive tourist footfall, and it plans to invest £8.7m on the new venture. Rockwater Hove opened at the end of 2020 after a £4m investment, including £3m from Davis, who is chief executive of investment company IW Capital.

Dirty Bones appoints Richard Downs as operations director: US comfort food and cocktails brand Dirty Bones has appointed Richard Downs, formerly of Yumpingo, The Restaurant Group (TRG) and Casual Dining Group, as its new operations director, Propel has learned. Downs joins Dirty Bones from Yumpingo where he spent just a year as its enterprise sales director. Previous to that, he was international concessions director at TRG Concessions, and spent more than 11 years at the Casual Dining Group, including a stint as its director of franchising and business development. Dirty Bones, which operates across six venues in London and Oxford, reopened its restaurant in Soho’s Kingly Court last autumn after having moved from its first-floor site to the ground floor, where it replaced oyster specialist and seafood wholesaler Wright Brothers. The team behind Dirty Bones is set to launch Roxanne, the “world’s first hip hop speakeasy”, in London’s Shoreditch this spring. 

SushiDog to open two new London sites with more to follow: Quick service sushi roll restaurant SushiDog is to double its portfolio with the opening of two new sites in London – with more to follow. The concept, founded by childhood friends Greg Ilsen and Nick Goldstein, currently has two sites, in Covent Garden’s Tower Street and within Westfield White City. The duo will add to that with launches in Brewer Street, Soho, on Wednesday, 27 April, while the second site will open in Bishopsgate on Wednesday, 25 May. Both sites will replicate the existing grab-and-go format that allows customers to personalise their order, or choose from the range of signature rolls, bowls and salads. Both sites will also offer delivery. As well as the traditional menu, new items will see pulled yakitori chicken join the range of protein options, and a peanut sauce added to the range of dressings. SushiDog is also set for further expansion, with plans to confirm two further London locations in late 2022 and a further three in 2023, with a view to securing locations outside of London and, eventually, abroad further down the line. Ilsen said: “It was a massive achievement for us to secure sites in Brewer Street and in Bishopsgate – two really buzzing London locations. The chance to get our rolls into more hands is a really exciting prospect.”

Mahiki founder Piers Adam acquires landmark Notting Hill pub: Mahiki founder Piers Adam has acquired the Walmer Castle pub in London’s Notting Hill. Adam has converted the venue, which was previously owned by film producer Guy Ritchie and ex-footballer David Beckham, into a new pub and restaurant that will reopen next month. The new-look venue takes its inspiration from the Craigellachie Hotel in Speyside, which is Scotland’s oldest whisky hotel and was bought by Adam in 2014. The venue will span two floors, with a ground floor dining room and bar serving modern Highland cuisine, a mezzanine available for private hire and the first-floor Spey Bar with more than 400 of the world’s finest whiskies. Sarah Burgess, who has joined Adam’s company as creative director, told Propel: “Piers wants to bring a touch of Speyside to London and to further diversify his portfolio outside the late-night scene. We’re delighted to be able to do that with the Walmer Castle, which is a such a wonderful and iconic property.” Burgess, who has worked in the drinks industry for 25 years and was previously lead blender at Macallan, is now working with Adam on a new range of drinks “using the flavours of Speyside” that will be available at the Walmer Castle and in other venues. These include a variety of sodas, gin and vodka, with cider and beer set to follow. First Merchant supported Adam with finance for the Walmer Castle project.

Slim Chickens builds openings pipeline: Boparan Restaurant Group (BRG) is continuing to build its openings pipeline for the Slim Chickens brand, with openings lined up in Leicester and Milton Keynes. The company, which currently has 16 sites under the US brand in the UK, plans to open sites on Avebury Boulevard, Milton Keynes, and in the Highcross scheme in Leicester. Later this spring, it will open a third site with franchisee JRK Restaurants in Brighton. BRG recently opened in Guildford, where it is trialling the use of service robots, and is understood to also be in talks on a site in Leeds’ White Rose Shopping scheme and Plymouth. Propel revealed earlier this year that the company plans to open a further flagship site under the Slim Chickens brand on the former Shake Shack site in Cambridge Circus. It is also understood to be in talks to take on a unit at 224 Bishopsgate.

Old Spot Pub Company opens first pub-with-rooms: The Old Spot Pub Company, the Ei Managed Investments venture in partnership with Field to Fork director Dave Ford and Productivity Mentor director Bernard O’Neill, has opened its first premium pub and boutique inn. The company, which is now part of Stonegate Group, has re-opened The Miller of Mansfield in Goring-on-Thames, Berkshire. The pub was previously operated by Mary and Nick Galer but reverted back to Stonegate’s managed division earlier this year. It becomes the 17th site to be opened by Old Spot Pub Company since its launch in spring 2018.

KFC announces new commitments to tackle litter: KFC has announced a series of new commitments to tackle litter around its restaurants. Launched as part of KFC’s partnership with Keep Britain Tidy’s Great British Spring Clean, KFC’s commitment will see a record 3,000 team members across the UK take part in the brand’s biggest ever litter pick, aiming to collect more than 20,000 bags of litter. KFC has also announced the creation of a £40,000 fund to support and equip local litter picking groups in their efforts to tidy up local areas, which will be distributed by Keep Britain Tidy. There is also a commitment to partner with three local councils across the UK to trial new ways to tackle littering, such as testing localised anti-littering marketing messages and the creation of new concept rubbish bins. Against this backdrop, KFC is helping keep local areas tidy with a new marketing campaign that aims to raise awareness of littering and encourage people to be more mindful about how they dispose of their litter. Jenny Packwood, chief corporate affairs and sustainability officer, KFC, said: “We take our responsibility to tackle litter seriously and want to be part of the longer-term solution to reduce the impact in all the communities we serve. Through the launch of our new fund for local litter picking groups and partnerships and trials with local councils, we hope to help toss the nation’s litter problem in the dustbin of history once and for all.”

Pret joins Podback scheme for recycling at-home coffee pods: Pret A Manger has announced it has become the first UK food-to-go retailer to become a member of the Podback recycling scheme, helping customers to recycle their aluminum Pret at-home coffee pods. Podback, created by Nestlé and Jacobs Douwe Egberts UK (JDE UK), says it is the UK’s first nationwide, not-for-profit service providing customers with several easy ways to recycle their coffee pods, whether they are aluminum or plastic. Through Podback, used pods are turned into ingots and used in the manufacture of new products – such as drink cans – while the used coffee grounds go through anaerobic digestion to produce a combination of biogas and soil improver. Guy Meakin, UK managing director of Pret A Manger, said: “We’re always looking for new ways to reduce our impact on the environment, whether through introducing coffee cup recycling stations in-shop or our 50p reusable cup discount. Now that our coffee is increasingly enjoyed in homes around the country, we wanted to find a solution that would help our customers recycle their Pret coffee pods easily. We’re excited to join the Podback scheme to make this possible.” 

Lancaster Landmark Hotel Company appoints group director of HR: The Lancaster Landmark Hotel Company has promoted Nicola Forshaw to group director of HR. The new role will enable the business to create a unified approach to HR across all its properties for the first time as it continues to invest in the wellbeing of its people and seeks to expand the size of its team from 700 to 1,000 employees in 2022. The company’s portfolio includes The Landmark London, Royal Lancaster, K West Hotel & Spa and Basil Street Apartments. Forshaw, who was previously director of HR at The Landmark London, will report to Fergus Stewart, the company’s deputy managing director. Throughout her time at The Landmark London, Forshaw delivered innovative new HR policies, most recently an initiative to enable the hotel’s chefs to work a four-day week, with increased pay. Stewart said: “Nicola’s fantastic experience and work at The Landmark London makes her the right choice to lead this change alongside myself as the business delivers a flexible and agile working culture that supports team members and delivers excellence for our guests.”

Bespoke acquires Scottish islands hotel out of administration: Hotel management company Bespoke Hotels has acquired the Glenburn Hotel on the Isle of Bute in Scotland out of administration for an undisclosed sum. It adds to Bespoke’s portfolio of 90 hotels in the UK, including 23 in Scotland. The hotel features 134 guest bedrooms, ballroom, restaurants, bars, terrace, conference facilities and extensive terraced gardens. The hotel filed for administration last August, having been closed since November 2020, with staff initially placed on furlough. Stuart Robb and Chad Griffin, partners with FRP Advisory, were responsible for the sale, where offers above £1.1m were invited. Haydn Fentum, Bespoke Hotels chairman, said: “We are delighted to have agreed a deal with FRP to acquire the Glenburn Hotel and look forward to integrating it into our expanding portfolio. We hope to reopen the hotel very soon and have exciting plans to invest in the business and create new jobs.” The administration had been caused by significant operating costs, coupled with a fall in revenue due to the pandemic, while still having to meet significant maintenance and running costs. CDLH acted for the joint administrators as selling agent for the hotel.

Newcastle-based ice cream business with two retail outlets to remain in family following sale: Newcastle-based ice cream business Mark Toney & Co has been sold – but will remain within its current family. The business was up for sale in its entirety as a going concern. This included a factory/production facility and offices in Benton Square Industrial Estate, along with two long-standing ice cream parlours/coffee shops – in Grainger Street and Percy Street. Established in 1892 by Giovanni Marcantonio, Mark Toney & Co has been sold by his great grandson Antony Marcantonio to Chris Raynes, who is Giovanni Marcantonio’s great great-grandson, for an undisclosed sum. Raynes said: “To be in a position to be able to continue in the footsteps of my ancestors is an absolute privilege and honour. Having spent many of my younger years working both in the factory and on the ice cream vans, the business has enormous sentimental value for me and is certainly not simply an investment.” Christie & Co acted on the deal.

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