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Morning Briefing Strap Line
Mon 11th Apr 2022 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Minor – long-term growth plan for Corbin & King will be ‘sustainable, measured and responsible’: Dillip Rajakarier, group chief executive of Minor International, which took full control of Corbin & King at the start of the month, has told Propel that long-term growth for the restaurant business must be “sustainable, measured and responsible”. Minor, which placed Corbin & King into administration in January, paid circa £67m to regain control of The Wolseley operator, a process that led to co-founder Jeremy King leaving the business. Talking to Propel about what comes next for Corbin & King, which also owns the likes of Colbert and The Delaunay, Rajakarier said: “The short term is all about ensuring stability and setting down the foundations for a sustainable business. It's also about maintaining and building on that exceptional guest experience – investing in the existing restaurants and in our outstanding team, to best serve our valued customers. The medium term is about reactivating the three UK sites already in planning – Manzi’s in Soho, The Wolseley in the City (in King William Street in Monument), and the Notting Hill site. Long term, growth must be sustainable, measured and responsible – the last thing we want to do is dilute the restaurant brands but there are opportunities to introduce them to other international gateway cities and this will be decided on a case-by-case basis in close consultation with our excellent Corbin & King leadership team.” In terms of taking the business overseas, Rajakarier said it was critical for Minor, which also owns the Benihana and Patara restaurant brands, to ensure the “geographical market fits with the brand and the customer segment”. He said there was no intention to follow a franchise model, as “this implies a brand-destructive, large-scale rollout of new restaurants”. He said: “We are not here to fundamentally alter the business model, but rather ensure the long-term sustainability and growth of the business. Corbin & King will be run as a standalone business, which is how we run the different facets of our business already, particularly our luxury portfolio.” Rajakarier said Minor has “full confidence in the brilliant leadership team at Corbin & King, which is already doing a great job at keeping the restaurants full and maintaining exceptional standards”. The team continues to be overseen by managing director Zuleika Fennell. In the longer term, Rajakarier said the business was open to appointing a new chief executive “when we can find an exceptional candidate who shares the Corbin & King values”. He said: “We have no immediate plans to change the Corbin & King name – it’s business as usual and a continuation of the legacy the team has achieved.” Minor is “heavily invested” both in the UK and globally as an owner, operator and joint venture partner of a portfolio of more than 3,300 restaurants. 

Industry News:

Sponsored message – Hospitality Rising project raises £600,000 with 30 days to go: Hospitality Rising aims to unite the industry by asking it to invest in and back its plan to change the perception of hospitality for the better in the biggest sector recruitment advertising campaign the UK has seen. Pret A Manger, Hilton, Welcome Break, Hawksmoor, Pizza Pilgrims, Rosa’s, Pho, Wahaca, Brindisa Kitchen, Comptoir Group, Buzzworks, Peach Pubs, Punch Pubs, Wells & Co, Rocco Forte & Family, Athenaeum Hotels, The Goring, Clevedon Hall, ETM Group, Fortnum & Mason, Hippodrome Casino, Anglian Country Inns, Moxy Hotels, Claridge’s, The Berkeley Hotel, The Connaught, Tom Kerridge, The Fife Arms, Nathan Outlaw, Yotam Ottolenghi, Angela Hartnett OBE, Home Grown Hotels, DRG, Marugame Udon and Montpeliers are among the companies and individuals to have backed the campaign. Hospitality Rising founder Mark McCulloch said: “We have the best plan, creative team (including Google’s lead creative agency and the army’s lead brand recruitment strategist) and momentum to crack this problem once and for all. We must come together to stop the talent who would be prime candidates for hospitality going into retail, fulfilment centres, delivery drivers, manual labour or taking junior office roles.” Hospitality Rising is asking every sector business and supplier to invest just £10 plus VAT per employee to help hit a target of at least £1m needed to double the number of people considering a job or career in hospitality. There is £400,000 still to raise to the investment target by 12 May. To invest, click here. If you have a sponsored story you would like to see featured in this newsletter position, email paul.charity@propelinfo.com

Propel to launch UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database this week, featuring 100 companies and 27,000 words of content: The first edition of The UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database will be sent to Propel Premium subscribers on Thursday (14 April). 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. It will be updated every two months. The companies included in the initial database are: Afrikana, I am Doner, Bewiched Coffee, Black Sheep Coffee, Boom: Battle Bar, Bubblewrap, Burger King, Burger Priest, Cabana, Camile Thai, Caprinos Pizza, Chaiiwala, Chilli Flames, Choppaluna, Chopstix, Chow Asian Kitchen, Coffee-Bike, Cosmo, Costa Coffee, Coyote Ugly, Creams Cafe, Crepeaffaire, Deep Blue Restaurants, Denny’s, Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, Domino’s Pizza, EasyCoffee, Eddie Rocket’s, Esquires Coffee, Fireaway Pizza, Flower Burger, Franco Manca, Franzos, Four Star Pizza, Fresh, Favorite Chicken, GB Pizza Co, German Doner Kebab, Gloria Jean’s, Gravity, Greggs, Heavenly Desserts, Island Poke, Jamie Oliver, Ji The Chicken Shop, Jon Smith Subs, Kaspa’s, KFC, Kokoro, Leon, Le Pain Quotidien, Love Brownies, Marugame Udon, McDonald’s, Miss Millie’s, Muffin Break, Nando’s, Oche, Oodle’s Chinese Restaurant, Otherworld, Papa John’s, Pieminister, Pitaya, Pizza Hut, Pret, Russo’s New York Pizzeria & Italian Kitchen, Santa Nata, San Carlo, Shoryu Ramen, Slim Chickens, Slim’s Healthy Kitchen, Smoothie Factory, Soho Coffee, Southern Fried Chicken, Spitting Pig Co, Starbucks, Street Greek, Sticky Sisters, Subway, Tasters, Taco Bell, The Avocado Show, The Butcher, The Great Greek, Toni Loco, Tortilla, Tossed, TRG Concessions, Treatz, Veggie Master, Veeno, Wagamama, Warrens Bakery, Wayne’s Coffee, Wendy’s, Wimpy, Wok & Go, Wok To Walk, YO!, Yole and You Me Sushi. Email tim.street@propelinfo.com to get your franchise included. Premium subscribers also receive access to The New Openings Database, the Propel Multi-Site Database and the Turnover & Profits Blue Book. 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. 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.

Economic effect of covid needs its own inquiry, says UKHospitality: UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls has called for the economic effects of covid to have its own public inquiry. Nicholls was speaking after being given the opportunity to give evidence to the government’s inquiry into the pandemic, which will look at the country’s preparedness and response from various sectors. The draft terms of reference for the forthcoming inquiry were published last Thursday (7 April). Nicholls said: “We’re grateful to the inquiry seeking views on how proceedings should best be structured. Currently, the draft terms of reference are wide-ranging, and we’re concerned they may be grouped too broadly to allow for effective consideration. This runs the risk of key learnings from individual sectors of the economy – such as hospitality – being missed. We believe the inquiry would benefit from adopting a structure that separates out the public health and economic strands of pandemic decision making and impacts, with a view to producing an early interim economic report. This is important – not just because there’s a clear risk of a return to restrictions should subsequent waves prove dangerous enough – but also because of hospitality’s need to build resilience against future shocks, particularly with recovery looking fragile at a time of soaring cost inflation and the war in Ukraine. Having an interim fast-track economic analysis, accompanied by robust conclusions and recommendations relatively early in the inquiry process – while we remain in a period where economic and regulatory levers could be used again – would be extremely useful for all concerned.”

Scottish government begins consultation on calories on menus: The Scottish government has begun a public consultation on plans to add the number of calories to menus in the out-of-home food sector. A 12-week consultation, which sets out the broad types of food and drink that would be covered, will seek views on how this could applied to food and hospitality businesses. It will inform whether legislation is introduced to make it a legal requirement for calories to be included on menus and forms part of the Scottish government’s wider actions to ensure Scotland is a place “where we eat well and have a healthy weight, including our aim to halve childhood obesity by 2030”. Mandating calorie labelling at the point of choice could support the food and hospitality sector to make a key contribution in improving dietary health, the Scottish government said. Public health minister Maree Todd said: “Before the pandemic, people living in Scotland were consuming more and more food and drink out of home or ordering it in – a trend I expect to resume as we recover from the pandemic. Two-thirds of the population living in Scotland is recorded as living with overweight or obesity – a key factor in our plan to address this is calorie labelling. We know giving people more information, such as the number of calories in meals, will enable people to make healthier choices when eating out, or ordering in. This is not novel practice – calories are already required on retail food purchases and calorie labelling for out of home sites is mandated in many other countries.” Restaurants, cafes and takeaways in England with more than 250 staff must now print how many calories are in meals on their menus, websites, and on delivery platforms following the introduction of new legislation last week. UKHospitality Scotland's executive director, Leon Thompson, said: “There is already anecdotal feedback from businesses in England of the effects calorie labelling is having in terms of cost and resources, as well as customer relations. It is essential we avoid such pitfalls. Our businesses are still very fragile as they strive to rebuild after the pandemic – they need time to recover, free from further regulatory burdens.”

War pushes global food prices to record levels: Global food prices rose 13% to a new record high last month as the war in Ukraine caused turmoil in markets for staple grains and vegetable oil. The Times reported the food prices index published by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation, which tracks the most globally traded food commodities, measured 159.3 points after recording its fastest monthly rise in 14 years. Prices for vegetable oil, cereal and meat all hit records, while those of sugar and dairy products also rose sharply. The world is facing a grain shortage as the conflict disrupts the supply of wheat from Russia and Ukraine, which together produce more than a quarter of the world’s wheat and a fifth of corn exports. The price of cereal, including wheat and coarse grains, rose 17.1% in March, according to the agency. It has cut its estimate of world wheat production in 2022 to 784 million tonnes from a forecast of 790 million last month to take account of the possibility that at least 20% of Ukraine’s winter crop area would not be harvested. It also lowered its projection of global cereal trade in 2021-22 as disruption to Black Sea exports were only partially offset by increased exports from India, the EU, Argentina and the US. A 23% rise in vegetable oil prices was driven by higher sunflower, palm, soya and rapeseed oil prices. Russia and Ukraine account for 80% of the global supply of sunflower oil. With exports from those regions cut as a result of the conflict, demand has risen for alternative oils, including palm, soya and rapeseed, pushing up prices. The meat price index rose 4.8% in March to a high of 120 points. The price of sugar rose by 6.7% in March, according to the agency, reaching levels more than 20% higher than those recorded in the same month last year. Global dairy prices rose 2.6% in March, marking the seventh consecutive monthly increase and lifting the index 23.6% above its value a year ago.

Hill – sector needs to battle for sustainability as well as against inflation: Nando’s UK chief executive Colin Hill insists battling inflationary cost measures should not come at the expense of the fight for sustainability. Sector investor Paul Campbell warned at the recent Propel Multi-Club Conference that inflation would be the next big challenge facing the sector. Speaking at the same event, Hill said this should not stop companies’ efforts to become more sustainable. He said: “You could easily make a decision today not to do it when you look at inflation, which is very real and present. But the first small step can cost just a few grand – going into the Net Zero Forum to understand what your footprint is – you can then look at it and start to say how can we affect this? The industry needs to come as one voice to create that movement with the supply chain. I’ve come in from the retail sector, and I’d say we’re a decade behind where we need to be. Everybody needs to be on this journey, and I’d urge people to step into this space and say for a few grand I can get a carbon footprint and a roadmap and start seeing where I can go.” Nando’s announced in November it had become carbon neutral across its scope one, two and three emissions and was working towards becoming net zero by 2030 – which Hill admits wasn’t the easiest of decisions to take during a pandemic. He added: “It was one of the toughest decisions when you’re in the middle of a crisis and you’ve lost money – when you need to invest more in chicken, and the footprint will go up because they live for longer and take more carbon. To square all that and still make the commitment – the business aspires to do the hard stuff and make hard decisions, but it’s no reason not to do it. We’re working really hard to decarbonise our supply chain, and it won’t be easy, but we’re working with our partners towards it.”

Parliamentary inquiry to launch into impact of Scottish deposit return scheme: The Cross-Party Group on Beer and Pubs in Scotland is launching an inquiry into the Scottish deposit return scheme. The scheme is due to go live in August 2023, changing the way consumers buy and recycle bottles and cans and aiming to achieve at least 90% collection rates by 2024. The group is interested to explore what this means for Scotland’s beer and pubs sector, in particular the impact of the scheme on brewers, pubs, consumers and the environment; the preparedness of the sector to meet the go live date next year; and the steps that need to be taken in the next 12 months to prepare for a successful launch. Convenor of the cross-party group, Craig Hoy, said: “Scotland is planning on introducing one of the most environmentally ambitious deposit return schemes yet, involving tens of thousands of producers and retailers, all in 16 months’ time. While welcoming its ambitions, we’re aware that significant changes will need to be made – to systems, to practices and to behaviour – that may come at a cost. For Scotland’s brewing and pubs sector in particular, this timing may be problematic as it’s already facing a wall of inflationary and energy related pressures while fighting back from covid. We’re holding this inquiry to help us understand what needs to happen to make the scheme a success for all.” The group intends to hold an oral session in May for a panel of MSPs to hear from expert witnesses, before publishing a short report in June with recommendations for action. 

Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a company in the property and facilities sector to recruit a head of property. A COREcruitment spokesman said, “The company has seen its business grow by 70% in the last year and now bringing a head of property into the fold. The head of property will be joining to take care of and reshape a varied estate of more than 40 properties. There are offices, depots, branches and stores and what is really key to the role is the part you will play in helping design the offices of the future programme – looking at how people work and want to work and transitioning the offices from traditional, light industrial units into modern offices that are functional but are also places people want to congregate, work and play. A huge part of the groups’ success has been its work in communities, and it is keen to see how it can incorporate community spaces into some of the depots. Alongside that is the potential to develop its retail brand via shops in key locations.” This is a nationwide role with a salary package of circa £100,000. For more information and to apply, email Sheila@corecruitment.com

Company News:

Tequila Mockingbird appoints FD, lines up two more sites: South London-based bar operator Tequila Mockingbird has appointed David Jenkinson as its new finance director, who will help “raise finances to execute further expansion” for the business over the next few years, Propel has learned. Jenkinson started his career with EY Audit, building a strong base working with a wide range of small and medium-sized enterprise clients. The company said: “Since then he has helped businesses such as Red Sea Holidays, Mothership (Queen of Hoxton, Book Club, Colours (was Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen), and Patterns), Village Underground, Earth Dalston, Homeslice and Symplicity Foods, supporting their expansions and helping them successfully manage the impacts of the pandemic. Most recently, David set up his own accountancy business, In Step Accounting, focusing on leisure and hospitality providing full accountancy services offered in partnership with clients as well as finance director services. David’s appointment is an exciting step for Tequila Mockingbird and we believe he fits well with our company ethics.” The seven-strong group, which was founded in 2015 by cousins Jonathan Bas and Jake Brennan, will open a new flagship site, and its first in the West End, later this month at 42 William IV Street, Covent Garden, underneath Curious Restaurants’ The Jones Family Affair venue. Brennan told Propel: “We have performed exceedingly well over the past 24 months, despite the pandemic, and continue to propel forward in 2022. We open our new site in Covent Garden this month with two other venues in the pipeline for the rest of the year.”

Mowgli to open in Beverley next year: Mowgli, the Indian street food concept led by Nisha Katona, will open in the East Yorkshire market town of Beverley next year. The company, which will make its debut in Scotland next week, in Glasgow, is understood to have secured the former Solita site in North Bar Within in Beverley. The Foresight-backed business, which has opened in Cheltenham and London’s Charlotte Street over the past six months, has a pipeline of five further openings in place. Announcing the Beverley news on Instagram, Katona wrote: “Mowgli Beverley is confirmed. My property strategy for Mowgli has always been, from the beginning, to go where you ask for us! As a result we are taking Mowgli to Glasgow next week, Preston in July, Brighton Mowgli aims for November, Bristol, Edinburgh and Beverley will aim for early 2023. The hunt goes on for Newcastle, Cambridge, York and the like but I wait for sensible rents. I’m full of enthusiasm for growth because for every Mowgli we create 30 jobs, aim to pay over £40,000 per year to local charities and sponsor a child in need for every full-time employee. I remain executive chef, everything is cooked fresh to my recipes every morning and every day we know we are only as good as our last curry. Growth does not mean dilution if it’s done with heart.” Earlier this year, the business closed its site in University Green, Manchester. Propel revealed last December that Mowgli had appointed advisors to help review its funding options for its next stage of growth. The 12-strong business, which has been backed by Foresight since 2017 and is chaired by Karen Jones, is understood to be working with PwC on its options. 

Pano Christou – cost pressures are coming from every direction: Pret A Manger chief executive Pano Christou has said cost pressures are coming from every direction, insisting on comparing prices every two weeks with the company’s rivals to remain competitive. The company has been forced to hike prices as the UK stares down the barrel of double-digit inflation, while the same rise in the cost of living threatens to dent consumer spending. Pret’s bestseller, a tuna and cucumber baguette, has risen from £2.99 in December to £3.15 today – a jump of 5.4%. A chicken Caesar and bacon baguette has gone up 6.5% from £3.99 to £4.25. As previously revealed by Propel, Pret’s coffee and drinks subscription, which allows customers up to five drinks a day, is up by £5 to £25. Ukraine is the largest exporter of sunflower oil in the world and the spring sowing season has been hit by the war. It is also a big exporter of wheat, which has jumped in price since the invasion and is a key ingredient in almost every Pret product. Then there’s VAT, which went back to the pre-pandemic level of 20% this month and the price of coffee beans is due to increase by 40% this year. “You can see it everywhere,” Christou told the Sunday Times. “My sense is we could get there by the end of the year [with double-digit inflation].” As previously reported, Christou thinks there is space for Pret to more than double the number of stores in the UK. The business is expanding into the Middle East with a franchise partner and has signed a deal for a trial in Canada. It also has sites in the US, Hong Kong and Dubai. Last week it completed a deal in Ireland, with the company set to open in the ex-Starbucks premises in Dawson Street in Dublin. Pret has also branched into delivery. In Tooting, where Christou spent his childhood, delivery makes up 50% of sales.

Alison Brittain tells Whitbread board to scrap controversial £729,000 bonus: Whitbread chief executive Alison Brittain has asked the company to scrap a controversial £729,000 bonus deferred by the board last year. Brittain was due to receive the bonus this summer. However, The Mail on Sunday reported she has relinquished the award – in a move that will be welcomed by campaigners. Last year, Whitbread, which owns Premier Inn, faced criticism over the bonus from shareholders and politicians because the company has claimed £370m in support from the taxpayer. None of it has been paid back. The High Pay Centre has described taking bonuses while drawing taxpayer support as “a line that no company should cross”. Legal & General Investment Management, which is one of Whitbread's biggest investors, said the bonus “should not have been awarded and deferred” in the first place. The bonus was due to be made on top of her £877,000 basic pay. A deferred award would have been paid alongside this year's salary of £895,000. Brittain is understood to have told Whitbread's remuneration committee she will give up the bonus. Her decision is set to be ratified by the board as soon as this month. She is said to have recognised it would be inappropriate to receive the award after the company had claimed such a huge amount of public money. Chief financial officer Nicholas Cadbury was also in line to collect a bonus – amounting to £492,000 – deferred from last year. He has followed suit and given up the award. However, Brittain could still receive her bonus for the most recent financial year. Whitbread also leaned on the taxpayer during that period. Last week, The Sunday Times reported Whitbread has begun working with headhunters at Spencer Stuart on succession planning for Brittain as she prepares to step down after seven years as chief executive.

Greggs reveals new sustainability targets including first eco-shop as it reports on first year of strategy progress: Food-to-go operator Greggs has revealed new sustainability targets for 2022, including opening its first eco-shop, as it reported on progress made in the first year of its strategy. In February 2021, Greggs launched its first sustainability plan – The Greggs Pledge – setting itself ten commitments to help make the world a better place by 2025, with the aim of developing these over the years to come. A year on, the business said it has made significant progress on its ten commitments and has reached some key milestones. This include launching 686 Breakfast Clubs, feeding more than 44,500 children every school day; reduced the ratio of manufacturing food waste to sales by 31% and redistributed 28% of unsold food from shops; donating more than 1,000 tonnes of food to charity partners and making 32% of the products on the shelves in Greggs stores “healthier choices”. The company’s 2022 targets include supporting 760 breakfast clubs, reducing the amount of food waste created in manufacturing operations by an additional 10% and increased food redistribution by a further 10%, making at least 30% of all new products created as “healthier choices” and publishing a deforestation policy. Roger Whiteside, Greggs chief executive, said: “As a business we have a strong sense of responsibility to do the right thing for our people, customers, suppliers and communities and to lead positive change. Although there is still work to be done, with our clear plan for the next year I believe we are well-placed to meet our ambitious targets for 2025 and beyond, as our business continues to grow and evolve and we work together to make the world a better place.”

Zia Lucia confirms Stoke Newington opening, eighth site to follow: London-based pizzeria Zia Lucia has confirmed it will open a seventh site in London, in Stoke Newington. The business, which opened in Balham last December, will open on the ex-Il Bacio site at 61 Stoke Newington Church Street, on Friday (15 April). Founders Claudio Vescovo and Gianluca D’Angelo opened the first Zia Lucia in Holloway Road, Islington, in 2016, and have since added sites in Aldgate East, Hammersmith, Wembley and Wandsworth. A further opening in South Quay is also in the pipeline for later this year. Last year, the pair combined their Zia Lucia restaurant in Islington with their neighbouring pasta restaurant Berto to bring the two concepts together under one roof. 

Hooters plans Greater Manchester opening: US sports bar and grill chain Hooters has applied to open a site in Greater Manchester. The brand, which is operated in the UK by West End Wings, a subsidiary of US firm Amergent Hospitality Group, has applied to take on the ex-Frankie & Benny’s unit at Salford Quays. Last month, the business, which is overseen in the UK by Julian Mills, had permission granted to open a second UK venue, in Liverpool, despite objections. Hooters announced plans for 36 new UK locations in 2008 but only Cardiff and Bristol opened, and both have since closed, leaving a single UK branch in Nottingham. But the American chain now has the go-ahead to open in New Zealand House in Liverpool’s Water Street, having been granted a licence to operate to 1am Sunday to Thursday and 2am at weekends. 

Liverpool-based Movement Group set to open third site in city: Liverpool-based independent operator Movement Group is set to open its third site in the city, Asian-inspired restaurant and bar Zenn Liverpool. The 350-seat venue, located close to Liverpool ONE and the Met Quarter, will feature a rooftop space, restaurant, bar and garden, and will open in time for the start of summer. Movement Group also operates Ink Bar at 78-82 Wood Street and 54 Liverpool at 19-21 Seel Street. Cat Roberts, group head of business development for Zenn Liverpool, said: “Our demographic is the stylish over-25 crowd, who expect excellence. Zenn offers somewhere to dine, drink, and dance not just under one roof – but on our rooftop too! The interest we have received has already been incredible, and we can’t wait to share the vision we have for the brand and the concept as a whole. We are in the middle of building an incredibly talented team around us who all share a passion within our Zenn-DNA for great hospitality.”

Maven Leisure to open rooftop bar and restaurant in Monument next month for second site: Maven Leisure, the new venture from ETM Group’s co-founder Ed Martin, chief financial officer Landen Prescott Brann and non-executive chairman Graham Turner, will open its second site next month. The company will launch Wagtail in London’s Monument. Opening on Thursday, 12 May, the rooftop bar and restaurant will be housed in the former House of Fraser department store in King William Street. The rooftop bar, offering 360-degree views of the London skyline, will also serve a selection of small plates. Downstairs will host the restaurant and terrace offering a dining experience led by head chef, Michelin-trained Philip Kearsey, and mixologist, Angelos Bafas. The private dining room will offer bespoke feasting menus. Martin said: “Following what has been a challenging few years for the hospitality industry, we’re thrilled to be building on to our portfolio. The highly skilled craftmanship of Philip and Angelos, coupled with the breath-taking views from this iconic building, will ensure Wagtail is a luxury experience like no other.” Last October, Propel revealed Maven Leisure, which last summer closed a £4.3m fundraise, had secured the former Drake & Morgan site, The Allegory in Principal Place, which it reopened as the Beechwood Sports Pub & Kitchen. Maven Leisure is looking to add another four sites to the portfolio by February 2024.

South Wales-based coffee roasters to open second coffee shop: South-Wales based Coaltown Coffee is set to open a second coffee shop, in a new development in Swansea city centre. The company has taken a unit in Cupid Way. Leasing the unit from Swansea City Council, it will open a specialist espresso bar and small batch coffee roastery. Coaltown Coffee, which supplies more than 300 independent businesses across the UK and also has an online coffee subscription service, also operates a coffee shop and roastery in nearby Ammanford, which opened in 2018. Scott James, Coaltown Coffee founder and sales director, said: “Being part of this new development in our local city is an exciting step for our business.” Other businesses to have signed up for units at Cupid Way include Frozziyo Frozen Yoghurt, Imperial Candy and KoKoDoo Korean Fried Chicken.

The Celtic Collection opens new Pembrokeshire hotel featuring seafood-inspired restaurant: The Celtic Collection, which operates a number of hotels including Celtic Manor, has opened its new Pembrokeshire hotel. Ty Hotel Milford Waterfront features a seafood-inspired bar and restaurant called Dulse after the edible variety of seaweed that grows in abundance around the local coastline. The restaurant is led by executive head chef Simon Crockford, inspired by the fresh seafood of his Pembrokeshire childhood. There is also a private dining area and bar. The hotel itself has 100 guest bedrooms across four floors. The Celtic Collection – which also includes the five-star Resort Hotel, the 19th century Manor House, Coldra Court, the Newbridge on Usk and Tŷ Hotel Magor – most recently opened the Parkgate Hotel in Cardiff, in partnership with the Welsh Rugby Union. Milford Waterfront is a multimillion-pound regeneration project around the Milford Haven marina and docks, which includes floating camping cabins plus fish, beer and street food festivals.

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