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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Fri 1st Apr 2022 - KSL invests in Pig Hotels, Jeremy King to leave Corbin & King
KSL invests in The Pig Hotels, plans further sites: Denver-based private equity firm KSL Capital Partners has acquired a stake in The Pig Hotels, the eight-strong, rural boutique hotels group led by Robin Hutson, for an undisclosed sum. The company announced that an affiliate of KSL, which previously backed Malmaison and Hotel du Vin, had acquired the parent company of The Pig Hotels in partnership with its co-founder Hutson, who will continue as chairman and will retain a stake in the business. Tom Ross, previously group operations director, has taken on the role of managing director. With KSL’s backing, the company, which was founded in 2011, said it will seek to add additional Pig hotels through the “acquisition and development of complementary properties” throughout the UK. Each of the group’s eight properties is located in the countryside throughout southern England, including The Pig on the Beach in Studland, Dorset; The Pig in the New Forest, Hampshire; and The Pig at Harlyn Bay, Cornwall. Each Pig hotel has approximately 30 bedrooms housed in a historic building complete with a garden-inspired restaurant, a kitchen garden and land for animals, serving food that is either grown on property or locally sourced. Hutson, who earlier this year was awarded an OBE for services to the hospitality industry and philanthropy, said: “This is an exciting opportunity for us all at The Pig to focus on the future with an experienced team specialising in hospitality. KSL invests in some of the most iconic and well-known hotels in the world and has had great success preserving what makes each asset unique. The investment will allow us to continue to grow and expand our collection, while offering our guests the same home away from home quality they expect at each of our hotels.” Tina Yu, principal at KSL Capital Partners, said: “Having been admirers of what Robin has built over the last decade, we could not be more excited to work hand-in-hand with him and the entire team, and to help continue the growth of The Pig. The team at The Pig has created something truly unique and exceptional: hotels set in the English countryside which are dedicated to providing genuine hospitality and are at the forefront of environmental responsibility. We look forward to being part of this journey and supporting the management team.”

Updated Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies released today at midday, 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 today (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 19,000-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 in early April. 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 more than 27,000 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.

Jeremy King to leave Corbin & King after Minor wins ownership battle: Sky News has reported that Jeremy King is to leave Corbin & King after losing a battle to buy the company he founded from administrators. Minor International, which placed Corbin & King into administration in January, paid more than £60m in an overnight auction to regain control of the group. Sky News reported: “Its winning bid will trigger the departure of Jeremy King, one-half of the company’s founding team and arguably the best-known figure in London’s upmarket dining scene.” A spokesman for Minor said it was “now time to focus on growing the business in the UK and internationally without the involvement of Messrs Corbin and King”. “We wish them success in their future endeavours and have no doubt that the outstanding Corbin & King team will build upon their legacy, taking it to new heights as we invest significantly in the company’s and our employees’ future growth. However, as time passed it became clear that Mr King had significantly different views on the appropriate strategy for the business.” In a message sent in the early hours of Friday morning to regular customers of restaurants including The Wolseley, The Delaunay and Colbert, Mr King wrote: “As you know, after our shareholder Minor Hotel Group appointed administrators over the Corbin & King ‘TopCo’, we were assisted by Knighthead of New York in taking on the debt that was at issue, with a view to fully acquiring the company. We left the appointed administrator in place in order to resolve our dispute with Minor by having a sales process to establish the new owners.The final stage of that process – an auction – took place in the early hours of today.We took part in the auction to try and buy the business and assets of Corbin & King that we didn’t already own, including of course all the restaurants.Regrettably, that attempt failed and Minor Hotel Group was the successful bidder, buying the entire business.bAs a result, I no longer have any equity interest in the business although for the time being, I remain an employee. I assume Minor will take immediate control of the restaurants.” One source said it had been “inevitable” that Mr King would leave the business if Minor won the auction given the fractious dispute – including several legal battles – between the two sides which erupted in the last three months. Dillip Rajakarier, group chief executive of Minor International, said: “Given the global appeal of Corbin & King Limited’s iconic portfolio of brands, it is no surprise that competition for the business was so strong.We are delighted that our offer was accepted, and we can now look forward to building on the existing strong foundations to drive growth in the UK and internationally.”

Megan’s FY like-for-likes up 31%: London-based cafe and deli concept Megan’s has reported like-for-like sales growth of 31% in the 52 weeks to 31 March 2021. The company, which will open its 16th site later this month, in Marlow, said revenue for the period stood at £8m, from trading ten sites across the year including three new store openings. For the year in question, it said that statutory profit before tax was £533,000 and underlying profit before tax stood at £986k. It said: “Despite the challenges of covid, the business continued to deliver strong like-for-like sales with growth of 31% across the year. The business traded well ahead of management expectations and, including covid closure periods, generated profitable results across all sites. Over the last year the business has continued with its planned growth trajectory; executing five new stores funded wholly through self-generated cash flow, with our 16th site in Marlow due to open on the 15 of April. Every location has been successful, continuing to generate a profit within its first month of trade.” Managing director Sarah Hills said: “It has been a delight to lead the Megan’s team through the last few years of growth. We are very confident in our plans for the future and look forward to opening more restaurants, building some great careers and welcoming new guests into our restaurants over the next few months and years” The company is looking to open a further 14 sites in 2023, on top of the eight it plans to launch this year. The business, 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.

Sheffield’s Leadmill under threat of closure after landlord serves notice: A legendary club widely regarded as one of the UK’s premier live music venues has been told it must close. The Leadmill, in Sheffield, opened its doors in 1980 and has hosted artists including Pulp, Coldplay, The Stone Roses and Oasis. Venue bosses said their landlord had served them with an eviction notice requiring them to quit the building next year.Fans, artists and a local MP have backed a campaign to save the Leadmill. Based near Sheffield’s main railway station, the venue is regularly voted as the city’s best for live music and has won national awards. It also hosts comedy acts and regular club nights. A spokesperson said: “Since 1980, The Leadmill has spent millions of pounds on what was a derelict warehouse, transforming it into one of the UK’s most respected venues, where countless acts from across the globe have performed over the years.” The club has launched a social media campaign – #WeCantLoseLeadmill – urging fans to help them make the case against closure. Music Venue Trust, a charity which acts to protect grassroots music venues, said it was aware of the situation and working with the venue to try and ensure its survival. Bosses at the Leadmill have previously spoken about the venue’s struggles during the pandemic. An Arts Council grant of £241,571, and £128,544 from Arctic Monkeys singer Alex Turner – who auctioned off a guitar in aid of the club – helped it to stay afloat.

Barkby Group acquires Oxfordshire-based freehold pub: Premium gastropub operator Barkby Group has acquired the freehold of The Coach and Horses, a 16th century village pub with nine rooms in Chiselhampton, Oxfordshire. The company will now undertake a comprehensive refurbishment of the pub with reopening scheduled for June 2022. Barkby Pubs’ portfolio now consists of eight premises with a total of 69 rooms. Charles Dickson, executive chairman of Barkby Group, said: “The Coach and Horses’ location in the Oxfordshire countryside is highly complementary to our existing portfolio of premium pubs. The pub will offer customers a high-class drinking, dining and sleeping experience, and I very much welcome them into the Barkby Group.” Earlier this week, Barkby said it is to focus on its pub and property businesses as it revealed plans to dispose of its Workshop Coffee and Cambridge Sleep Sciences businesses in the near future. The company said trade across its seven-strong pub business has been in line with expectations and was looking for further acquisitions to grow the business.

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