Story of the Day:
Chik’n enters partnership with Soho House, to rebrand as Chicken Shop: Chik’n, the fried chicken concept backed by Sir Charles Dunstone, is to rebrand as Chicken Shop, after entering a new partnership with Soho House Group, Propel has learned. The John Nelson-led business is currently rebranding its two sites in Baker Street and Islington under the new name, which was previously used by Soho House. The company will roll out the rebranding to the rest of its estate over the coming months, including new openings. Chik’n, which was founded by Carl Clarke and David Wolanski, will also take on the former Chicken Shop in Whitechapel for a new opening and will feature on the menu of six Soho House sites. Propel previously revealed Chik’n, which currently also operates a site in Soho, is set to open at 88 Notting Hill Gate; on the former O’Neills site in The Broadway, Wimbledon; and in an empty unit next to the Tesco Express in Camden High Street, later this year. Nelson told Propel: “When Carl and David conceptualised the iconic and much-loved cult Chik’n brand in the fields of Latitude Festival, they had one simple mission in mind – to make the best fried chicken in London. After four years of experimenting, innovating and most importantly, crunching – they’ve nailed it! Our aim has, and always will be to serve-up the best fried chicken in London; so a name that fits this, was super important. This is where our exciting new partnership with Soho House was born. This will see us taking over their existing brand name – Chicken Shop, and putting our fried chicken on menus across selected London-based Soho Houses. The first point of call will be to refurbish and rebrand our existing locations early this year, with the roll-out of new Chicken Shops across London over the next year. We’re very excited about this great partnership and a tasty new name, but as always – our signature food stays the same.” Last year, Propel revealed Dunstone, the backer of Five Guys UK, had become the majority backer of Chik’n, with plans to ramp up its rollout. Chik’n also currently operates out of dark kitchens in Acton, Bermondsey, Battersea and Wandsworth.
One day to go before release of updated Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies, 69 businesses being added: A total of 69 new multi-site companies, operating 496 sites, have been added to the next edition of the Propel Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies, which will be released tomorrow (Friday, 1 April), at midday. The updated Propel Multi-Site Database, which is produced in association with Virgate, includes a number of expanding hotel companies, regional pub and restaurant operators and growing entertainment and gaming concepts. 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 18,100-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 email@example.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.
Charlie Gilkes 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 learned 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 Charlie Gilkes, co-founder of Inception Group. The video will be sent at 9am today (Thursday, 31 March).
Scotland to retain indoor facemask mandate for further fortnight: Laws requiring the wearing of face masks in some indoor settings in Scotland will remain until after Easter. From Easter Monday (18 April), the mask mandate will be downgraded to guidance for hospitality and other indoor settings, including gyms and cinemas, for the first time since summer 2020. First minister Nicola Sturgeon said the decision struck a “sensible balance” amid signs the BA.2 Omicron wave in Scotland is beginning to peak or stabilise, with the covid threat level expected to be reduced from medium to low. Sturgeon said: “This phased approach strikes a sensible balance between our desire to remove this one remaining legal measure, and the common sense need for continued caution while this wave of infection subsides. I recognise face coverings are an inconvenience. However, given all the sacrifice of the past two years, I believe the vast majority of people will accept that for a further two weeks, this is a proportionate precautionary measure while we pass the peak of this latest wave.” Compulsory face coverings have already come to an end in all other parts of the UK, with England the first to drop the requirement at the end of January, followed by Northern Ireland in February and Wales this month.
Lord – the cost of an average pint to rise 16p to 20p over next three months: Sacha Lord, the night-time economy adviser for Greater Manchester, has forecasted a 16p to 20p rise in the cost of an average pint over the next three months as inflation, increased VAT pressures, and surging gas prices hit hospitality operators. Lord predicts the cost of a pint, which now averages £4.07 in the UK, will rise by around 4% to 5%, pushing the price to around £4.25. JD Wetherspoon announced earlier this month it had already increased its prices by 10p across its venues (20p in London) to counter already rising costs, while Patrick Dardis, chief executive of Young’s, warned of price rises of over 70p a pint by Christmas due to significant increase in grain prices and expected energy bills. Lord said: “Our sector looks like it's back to normal with the naked eye, but behind the scenes, operators are barely breaking even. Many operators will be forced to increase customer prices by around 4% to 5% simply to stay afloat and this additional rise will be noticeable to punters. I believe most landlords will try to keep price increases lower than the current 6.2% inflation rate to keep customers coming in, and will look to cut costs elsewhere such in their supply chains or even by reducing trading hours and cutting staff hours.” The forecast comes as VAT costs will rise 60% for pubs, restaurants and bars from 1 April, increasing from its current 12.5% rate to 20%. In addition, some produce and ingredient costs have risen three-fold in the past six months as supply chain, logistics costs and order backlogs take hold. According to a poll conducted by trade organisations UKHospitality, the British Institute of Innkeeping, the British Beer & Pub Association and Hospitality Ulster this March, almost two fifths of operators have already been forced to cut trading hours to combat cost increases across the board.
Soups and salad prices rise by more than a third, sandwiches, wraps and burgers up too: Lunch favourites such as soups, salads and sandwiches are costing customers much more post-pandemic – with some items more than a third higher. New data from software company Square shows that as UK workers continue to return to the office, many of their favourite lunchtime items have soared in price. Soups lead the way, with the average price up 36% year-on-year as of 1 March 2022. Salads are 34% up, followed by burgers (28%), wraps (21%) and sandwiches (20%). Kaushalya Somasundaram, head of UK payments partnerships and industry relations at Square, said: “The increased price of lunch is due to the rising costs faced by restaurants, who’ve seen everything from staff salaries to ingredients become more expensive.” Although in-person orders are still yet to return to pre-pandemic levels, a growing share of lunch orders are being placed in-person this year, the data found.
UKHospitality – licensing hours extension for Queen’s Platinum Jubilee will help aid ‘beleaguered’ sector’s recovery: UKHospitality has said the extension of licensing hours to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee will help aid the recovery of the “beleaguered” sector and urged businesses to make the most of the opportunity. A temporary change in licensing hours in England and Wales will see them extended from 11pm to 1am the following day on June 2, 3 and 4. Having missed out on two years of full and unrestricted trading over dates such as Christmas, Mother’s Day and Easter, this summer’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations to mark 70 years of the queen’s reign, represents an opportunity for hospitality businesses across the UK looking to boost the recovery, UKHospitality said. Chief executive Kate Nicholls added: “The boost to business will be very welcome for operators facing soaring costs and plummeting consumer confidence. With the higher 20% rate of VAT also set to return for the sector in April, businesses will need to capitalise on every opportunity to drive revenue if they are to have any hope of recovery post-pandemic.” The trade body has also called for the relaxation of pavement licences to be made permanent. Responding to a Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities call earlier this month, UKHospitality said the move would be a “low-cost, low admin” helping hand for the sector.
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a tech company focusing on customer service that supplies the hospitality industry, which is looking for a managing director. The business has a range of products and is now deployed to 1,500 sites throughout the UK. Responsibilities of the managing director will include leading teams in sales, customer success and marketing; supporting the sales director in managing sales strategy; and identifying new business opportunities. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “The managing director will be proactive in mitigating potential problems with the customer journey. You will also be creating a customer journey map to gain insight from customers so success can be measured.” This role is based in the Midlands and has a salary of circa £100,000. For more information and to apply, email Hayley@corecruitment.com
Brasserie Bar Co seeing strong like-for-like sales growth, large pipeline of openings in place: Richard Ferrier, managing director of Brasserie Bar Co, the White Brasseries owner, which was recently acquired by Alchemy Partners in a circa £40m deal, has told Propel the company has been in strong like-for-like sales growth since restrictions were lifted. Ferrier said it has also built a large pipeline of new openings. Speaking before the 32-strong company filed its annual accounts for the year to 21 June 2021, Ferrier said the recovery of its London estate to above pre-pandemic levels being “particularly pleasing”. On trading for Mother’s Day, Ferrier said the business experienced an “exceptionally busy day with covers well up on 2019”. On the Alchemy investment, the company said it would look to secure up to ten new sites a year, with the emphasis on growing its pub estate over its Brasserie Blanc business. On its expansion plans, Ferrier told Propel: “While we have only been working hard at growing the pipeline since just before Christmas, we have been very encouraged by the quality of opportunities coming through. We have been able to build a large pipeline relatively quickly and should have some sites to announce soon.” Alongside the deal with Alchemy, the business agreed a new banking facility with OakNorth, with £35m of available facilities, £20m of which are currently undrawn. The new facility agreement runs to February 2027. In the financial year to 21 June 2021, the group was able to trade for just 28 weeks, often with limited numbers of sites, outdoors only and always with socially-distanced covers. Despite this, from revenue of just £22.5m the group said it managed to deliver restaurant Ebitda of £6.1m, only £0.5m lower than 2020. Overall loss after tax also showed significant improvement from £10.4m in 2020 to £2.7m in 2021. The company said: “This result includes the beneficial impact of ongoing government support and insurance proceeds received in the year. Gross margins improved during the period from 72.6% to 73.4%, thanks to continued focus on margin control and aided by the reduced rate of VAT on food and non-alcoholic drinks.” The group said trading for the final six weeks of its financial year was “very strong with like-for-like sales 14% up on the same period from 2019”. It said: “Following the conclusion of the Supreme Court test case on 15 January 2021, our insurer adjusted our business interruption claim and made a payment of £4.1m towards the end of the financial year, followed by a further £650,000 in August 2021.”
Shepherd Neame plans return to expansion trail and shake-up of food and drink offer: Kent-based brewer and retailer Shepherd Neame is planning a return to the expansion trail after spending the past few months concentrating on strengthening its balance sheet and reducing debt. Chief executive Jonathan Neame told Propel the business would also be restoring its capital expenditure programme to pre-pandemic levels having had to cut back over the past two years. Speaking following the company’s interim results, in which the business reported a return to profitability, Neame said: “The target was to strengthen the balance sheet and get down our debt by the end of March and we’ve managed to achieve that. Now we will be back in the market and start rebuilding the pipeline.” Neame said the business also anticipated investing £3m in its estate in the final quarter of its current financial year having only spent £2.7m in the year to date. He added: “We’ve got a bit of catching up to do, so we’ve got lots of small refurbishments that we will be doing over the next six to 12 months and we’re also finalising the details of three major projects.” Shepherd Neame is also planning a shake-up of its food and drink offer, which will be led by Jonathon Swaine, who returns to the pub industry this summer after three years, to take up the position of managing director of the company’s pub division. Neame said: “We think there’s still a lot of potential within our existing business as well as through external growth. Jonathon’s expertise will help us exploit that as well as strengthen the team. We think there’s a lot we can do to expands our drink offer and we will be updating our food offer in due course. People’s lifestyles have changed a lot during the pandemic and we need our menus to reflect that more, whether that’s additional plant-based dishes or lower calorie items.” Neame said while the current economic uncertainties are putting inflationary pressure on the business, which will impact margins, the company would not be putting up prices. “Inward inflation is so difficult to plan for at the moment because it’s so volatile,” he added. “We put up prices at the turn of the year – as we do annually. We might be looking at more price pressure towards the end of the year and we may have to think again. For now it’s about finding ways to mitigate that pressure as best as we can – and hopefully trade will continue to improve, which will help. This is a really important moment for us and the industry and we’re looking forward to our first uninterrupted Easter and summer for three years.”
Megan’s eyes 14 openings in 2023, Marlow to open next month: London-based cafe and deli concept Megan’s is looking to open a further 14 sites in 2023, on top of the eight it plans to launch this year. The expansion plans come as the company gears up to open its 16th site on Friday, 15 April, in Marlow. The Sarah Hills-led business will open on the ex-Prezzo site in Marlow’s High Street. The company, which recently opened on the former Laura Ashley site in Kingston, has further openings lined up in Guildford, Welwyn Garden City, East Dulwich, Chelsea, Richmond and Weybridge. Last autumn, the company said it plans to expand to 22 sites by the end of this year.
200 Degrees looking to add five stores a year to estate: Rob Darby, co-founder of Nottingham based coffee roaster 200 Degrees, has said the company is looking to add roughly five stores a year to its estate. The group will open a site at The Glass Works development in Barnsley next month for its 16th outlet, followed by its third Nottingham venue in May. Speaking at Invest Midlands, Darby said: “We are looking to add roughly five stores a year. We could accelerate it more but we have a saying within 200 Degrees that we only do things we can do well, and we don’t feel we want to open a glut of stores and risk doing it badly.” Darby said the company has a few more stores in the pipeline while the wholesale business is turning over just under £2m a year. 200 Degrees also has a subscription online business, which is “growing well. He added: “There is an ecosystem within our business where all aspects of the business help to drive and promote the other aspects. For example, you may well come and look at our online products in our subscription offering, having enjoyed a cup of coffee in one of our stores and you may well look at perhaps having a machine put into your business.”
Roxy Leisure planning six openings in 2022 as it confirms Bristol launch: Roxy Leisure, the operator of the Roxy Lanes and Roxy Ballroom concepts, has said it is planning six new openings this year as it confirmed it will launch a site in Bristol. As revealed by Propel in October, Roxy Leisure has secured the former Fitness4Less gym premises in Union Street. The site, which is set to open in May and will have capacity for 350 people, will include eight bowling lanes, as well as batting cages, shuffleboards, karaoke booths, full size pool tables, beer pong, arcade games and ice-free curling. It will be Roxy Leisure’s 11th venue, adding to sites in Manchester, Birmingham, Nottingham, Liverpool and Leeds. Roxy Leisure commercial manager, Joel Mitchell, told Bristol 24/7: “Bristol is an exciting and vibrant city, full of creative individuals who love to have fun. We’ve been wanting to join the bustling nightlife here for a while; we’re excited about bringing our competitive gaming concept to a new audience.” In November, Propel revealed Roxy Leisure is planning to open a new Roxy Ballroom in Sheffield while it has plans for further sites in York, Edinburgh, Nottingham and Birmingham.
Big Mamma Group set to open debut site for pizza shop concept: Big Mamma Group, the operator behind London-based restaurants Gloria, Circolo Popolare and Ave Mario, is set to open a debut brick-and-mortar site for its pizza concept, Napoli Gang. Launched in 2020 and operating previously as just a pizza delivery service on Deliveroo, Napoli Gang will be opening its first pizza shop at 149 Ladbroke Grove in May. It will be open for click-and-collect, delivery and takeaway, with MTV videos being projected on to the walls and through speakers as customers wait. As well as pizzas like the G.O.A.T, with cream, spinach, goats’ cheese, honey and pecans, it will serve up dishes like deep fried lasagne slices and burrata with truffle cream. Napoli Gang operates across London, Paris, Lyon, Lille, Marseille and Madrid. Propel revealed last month that Big Mamma Group is planning to open a fourth restaurant in the capital, on the site a former HSBC bank in Kensington High Street. It is also planning a “liquidity event” this summer, as it plans further growth across Europe.
Cristiano Ronaldo to return to London restaurant scene after teaming up with Turkish operator: Portuguese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo is set to make a return to the London restaurant scene following the closure of his previous foray into the capital. The Manchester United star was one of the backers behind the Mabel Hospitality-owned Zela, which opened in Covent Garden in 2018 but closed for good during the pandemic. He has now partnered with Turkish restaurateur and social media star Burak Ozdemir, who has 57 million Tik Tok and 32 million Instagram followers, to open a new restaurant in November. Burak currently operates three brands – Cznburak, Burak Burger and Hatay Medeniyetler Sofrasi – but is not clear yet which will be coming to London.
Hudson – the pandemic gave us the opportunity to get a lot closer to our people: Helena Hudson, founder of Real Eating Company, the independent cafe and coffee concept, has said the pandemic gave the business the opportunity to get a lot closer to its people, but more needs to be done to help with the legacy of mental health issues across the sector. Speaking in Propel’s “Plotting a Path Forward” video series, Hudson said: “One of the legacies, to unfortunately come out of the pandemic, is there have been a lot of mental health problems. We have a lot of young people working in the business. As you know, a lot of hospitality businesses do, and they've been quite impacted by this. We've now got mental health first aiders in the business and we've invested a bit of money in that, because our managers are in general young themselves and are also overseeing young people. Some are saying they have got mental health problems, they can't cope, and that's one of the really tough legacies coming out of this pandemic. And that's something that I personally feel we should help with. So, what has come out of this period, is we've built closer relationships with our people. They hopefully have felt well supported. And that will continue, as the problem has not gone away by any stretch. Those links and relationships with our team have become a lot stronger because of what we've all gone through.” In terms of expansion opportunities, Hudson said it will be interesting to see whether the current situation of landlords looking for “something slightly different” for their sites, will continue. She added: “We certainly got quite a lot of momentum coming out of the past two years. We've doubled our turnover through lockdown. We have got quite ambitious plans to grow over the next couple of years. So, in that sense while I never would have wished this pandemic to have happened, I do have to say it presented quite a lot of opportunity for us.”
The Climbing Hangar looks to expand: Indoor climbing operator The Climbing Hangar is looking to expand and has targeted ten cities as its “primary locations”, Propel has learned. The Liverpool-based business, founded in 2011 by Ged MacDomhnaill, currently operates two sites in its home city as well as one each in Plymouth, Exeter, Sheffield, Swansea and London. It is understood to be looking to add to its London portfolio as well as expand into towns and cities such as Bristol, Cardiff, Stockport, Manchester, Brighton & Hove, Cambridge, Oxford, Edinburgh and Glasgow. It is believed to be seeking 10,000-20,000 square-foot sites on ten to 15-year unexpired leases, with good transport links and local populations of 75,000-100,000. It is thought to be targeting commercial space within residential blocks, units in industrial and retail parks, basements and retail, leisure or office spaces. Last summer, the business was assisted by boutique leisure advisory business Tamweel in a multimillion-pound funding round as it looked to accelerate its growth.
The Little Door & Co confirms Soho opening for fourth site: Kam Dehdashti and Jamie Hazeel, who operate The Little Door house party-style bar and restaurant concepts, have confirmed they will open a fourth site. Propel revealed in October that duo had lined up the former Miabella nightclub site in Soho’s Greek Street for the Edition Capital-backed concept’s next venue. The company, which already operates The Little Blue Door in Fulham, The Little Yellow Door in Notting Hill and The Little Orange Door in Clapham, will name the new site The Little Scarlet Door. Opening in June and occupying a 2,200 square-foot space across two floors, the site will, in line with the other venues, be based around a fictional flatshare, while the lower ground floor will also be available for hire. Dehdashti said: “It’s long been our goal to open in Soho – an area with rich history, a naughty vibrancy and a sizzling energy that excites us all – and we know that Scarlet will fit right in.” Hazeel added: “The Little Scarlet Door marks a key milestone for the group, which sees us travel beyond south and west London for the first time.”
Digital workforce management platform Sona raises $6.8m from Google: Digital workforce management platform Sona has raised $6.8m in a seed round led by Google’s Gradient Ventures and coming just four months after the company’s pre-seed raise. Prominent new angel investors include Anthony Danon (partner at Cocoa), Maximillian Bittner (chief executive at Vestiarie Collective), Graham Paterson (product partner at Connect Ventures), Andrej-Nicolai Henkler (chief executive at Leblon Capital), Invested (Anna Brandt and Noor van Boven) and Sri Pangular. Existing investors also participating include Monzo founder Tom Blomfield, Andy Leaver (operating partner at Notion Capital), Lorenzo Franzi (partner at Flash Ventures), and several partners from Novator Partners. In addition, Asif Moonsani (investor at Gradient Ventures) and Markus Lang (partner at Speedinvest) are joining Sona’s board. In just six months, the London-based start-up has built a customer base of 10,000 deskless workers, including hospitality workers, within the UK and Ireland, going from pre-revenue to six-figure annual recurring revenue since July 2021. Founded by Oli Johnson, Steffen Wulff Petersen and Ben Dixon, it has raised $9m since August 2021 and will use the investment to triple its team and to continue its strong growth trajectory.
Second UK site for boutique fitness studio, new franchise-led gym brand to make debut: Boutique fitness studio Rumble is set to double its UK portfolio, while new franchise-led gym brand Circuit Society is being lined up for a debut site. Both concepts have signed for a share of a unit at 86-88 Delancey Street in Camden. Rumble, which also has three sites in Paris, offers fitness experiences centred around low carbon footprints and environmentally conscious products. Set over a single floor, its Camden site will include a café area serving food from Covent Garden superfood restaurant Avobar. Lenka Chubuklieva, director of Rumble, said: “The junction between Primrose Hill and Camden is the perfect location to open our second UK site for Rumble and begin this next phase of our brand’s journey.” Newcomer Circuit Society will span a two-floor gym space, with a business model designed to make gym owners out of its staff and clients. Founded by the owner of Kobox, the London-based boutique boxing studio, it intends to expand across the UK. Shelley Sandzer acted for the landlord, while Torridon represented Rumble and Lewis Craig represented Circuit Society.
New sake-focused shop and bar concept to open in Shoreditch: Tokyo-based Mirai Sake Company is to launch a bottle shop and bar concept in London’s Shoreditch, this spring. The Sake Collective will open this spring at 144 Commercial Street, claiming to offer the “largest selection of sake in the UK”. The new venue is set to “celebrate Japanese food and drink culture”. Over the past month, the business has been running as a pop-up offering free sake tastings. As part of the tastings, consumers are given ten different types of sake to try and then rank on an online app that calculates their “full, personalised taste profile”, also determining which of the 12 “sake types” they are.
SSP appoints new MD for Finnish business: UK-based transport hub foodservice specialist SSP Group has appointed Elena Heiska as managing director for SSP Finland. She will join the business early May, reporting into Jeremy Fennell, chief executive of Nordics and continental Europe. Heiska has 20 years’ experience in the industry, most recently as commercial director with Nordic Hotels & Resorts where she led the Kamp Collection Hotels. Since 2019 she has played a key role in the strategic integration of Kamp Hotels into the Nordic Choice Hospitality Group, and for ten years she led the commercial strategy to grow sales and market share organically and through acquisition. Earlier in her career, Heiska worked for Hilton Hotels and IHG. Fennell said: “Elena’s industry experience will be great assets for SSP, and I’m confident her passion for people and customers will deliver great value, support and innovation to our colleagues, customers and partners as we head into the future.”
Haute Dolci to open in Harrow for 15th site: Premium dessert and gourmet burger concept Haute Dolci is to open a site in Harrow, north west London. The company is launching the outlet in St George Shopping Centre in the premises previously occupied by The Restaurant Group brand Frankie & Benny’s. The restaurant, which opens next month and will be its 15th to date, will create 30 jobs. Operations director Hadi Roslan told Harrow Online: “We’re delighted to be able to bring Haute Dolci to another location, following success in other areas of the UK.”
Zizzi to open second Northern Ireland site: Azzurri Group-owned Zizzi is set to open its second outlet in Northern Ireland at the refurbished Odyssey Pavilion in Belfast as part of longer-term plans to expand its Irish portfolio. The first Zizzi restaurant opened in the Victoria Square shopping complex in 2016. The brand has now launched a recruitment campaign to open its second outlet in the north. But it’s understood the company is eyeing a larger expansion across Ireland, reports the Irish News. Zizzi currently has three outlets in Dublin. The move comes 20 months after the Azzurri Group, which also includes ASK Italian and Coco di Mama, was bought out of administration by US investment firm Towerbrook Capital Partners for £109.5m. Zizzi is among a number of restaurant and leisure operators opening in the new-look Odyssey Pavilion. Cineworld has already opened its first Northern Ireland outlet at the complex, while bowling alley operator Hollywood Bowl will open there on Thursday, 14 April.
Tortilla to open Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet restaurant this week: Mexican restaurant brand Tortilla will open a new restaurant at Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet, Ellesmere Port, on Friday (1 April). The restaurant, based in unit 61 at the complex, will create 30 jobs. Chief operations officer Jason Thomas said: “We have a fantastic location in the outlet and look forward to playing our part in this thriving community.” The Richard Morris-led company is set for further regional expansion having secured sites in Bath, Lincoln, Birmingham, Portsmouth and Bournemouth while it is also set to make its Northern Ireland debut, with a restaurant in Belfast. Earlier this year, the 64-strong company said it remained confident in its ability to make good progress against its store roll-out strategy to open 45 new sites in the next five years.