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Thu 14th Apr 2022 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Sethi – JKS set to focus on Thai cuisine, central London rental levels back to pre-covid levels: Jyotin Sethi, co-founder of JKS Restaurants, has told Propel that the next cuisine the business will look to focus on is Thai, and that it hopes to open a restaurant in the category later this year. Earlier this week, the company relaunched the Arcade Food Hall in London’s West End, which includes two concepts from chef Luke Farrell – Thai restaurant Plaza Khao Gaeng and Indonesian street food brand Bebek!Bebek. Talking at the recent Propel Multi Club event, Sethi said: “Thai is a category we’ve been working on since pre-covid. So, I think for us, it is the next one in terms of cuisine type that we’re looking to do more on than just the food hall, even maybe something later this year. That’s something we’re really excited about, and that will operate in the kind of Hoppers, Berenjak, Bao space – what we call fine casual segment. There’s a huge amount for us to do in that kind of south east Asian world, where there’s much more than just Thai, but we’ll start with Thai and see where we go. Each brand has got a different strategy. We have Hoppers, which for us is a growth brand. We’ve got three Hoppers now, and there’ll hopefully be a fourth later this year or very early next year. We have five Baos now across London and will hopefully open a sixth later this year. Berenjak is another one we’re looking to grow. Where we see a scale opportunity, we will scale the brand, but at the same time, we’re not afraid just to do a standalone restaurant which will just exist and be the best at what it does in its category.” Sethi said the business, which currently operates two pubs in the capital, will look to add a third “somewhere in London”, next year. In terms of the property market in central London, Sethi said: “Now the consumers back, prime central London in terms of demand and the kind of rental levels are kind of back to pro-covid levels. If you want a good deal, a two-year package from a landlord, or maybe pushing for three years, you’re looking at newer developments outside central London, so the likes of Battersea and Wood Wharf. But central London is hot. You have international brands coming in, as well new UK entrants or existing business now coming through the other side of covid looking to push the button on growth. There’s some pretty punchy numbers back in the mix in terms of what landlords are asking for.” In terms of a sweet spot for the business, Sethi said the company looked at property costs as opposed to just rent, “so rent rates service charge sub 10% is what we'’e counting on”.
 

Industry News:

Sponsored message – Hawksmoor co-founder Will Beckett backs Hospitality Rising, invest today: Will Beckett, co-founder and chief executive of Hawksmoor, is backing Hospitality Rising. The initiative 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. Beckett said: “We can all argue we should invest in Hospitality Rising because we need the staff, but I believe we should invest because hospitality should be important to the people we want to reach. In America, the industry is proud to say it gives the nation its first job. I’ve heard it said that if you work a year in hospitality then you can stand tall and look anyone in the eye. As we emerge from two years where people’s social lives, and young people’s social development, have been curtailed, hospitality can do something wonderful for those people’s lives. Hospitality is fundamentally a people job. Sounds to me like a better job option than stacking shelves, painting walls, driving packages around or sitting behind a desk. Don’t we owe it to people who don’t know how great hospitality can be to let them know?” Invest in Hospitality Rising now from just £10 per employee here. If you have a sponsored story you would like to see featured in this newsletter position, email paul.charity@propelinfo.com
 
Host of expanding healthy food concepts among franchisors in first UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database, released on Friday: A host of healthy food concepts expanding in the UK and abroad are among the franchisors featured in the first UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database, which will be sent to Premium subscribers on Friday (15 April), at midday. The first edition will feature 100 companies and 27,000 words of content, providing insight on the offer, locations, cost and other key details. Among them is salad concept Choppaluna, from the same Hero Brands family that launched German Doner Kebab, which plans to open ten stores this year. Also featured is healthy fast food brand Leon, which had around 70 outlets when it was acquired by the Issa brothers’ EG Group in 2021 in a reported £100m deal. Slim’s Healthy Kitchen, which operates out of several gyms in Ireland as well as selling meal plans and retail goods, is also featured. So too is Smoothie Factory, which has circa 120 stores offers smoothies, yogurts, juices, sandwiches, superfood bowls, salads, wellness shots and juice cleansing programmes. In addition, The Avocado Show, a Dutch health food brand featuring sustainable dishes made from avocados with circa 11 sites, is included. Wok to Walk, an Asian health food concept that has more than 100 sites worldwide, including 16 in the UK, will also feature. Premium subscribers also receive access to The New Openings Database, the Propel Multi-Site Database and the Turnover & Profits Blue Book. Companies can now have an unlimited number of people receive access to Propel Premium for a year for £895 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or a supplier. The single subscription rate is £445 plus VAT for operators and £545 plus VAT for suppliers. Email jo.charity@propelinfo.com to upgrade your subscription. Subscribers also receive access to Propel’s library of lockdown videos and Friday Wrap interviews and now also have access to a curated video library of the sector’s finest leaders and entrepreneurs, offering their insights on running outstanding businesses in the sector. Premium subscribers also receive their morning newsletter 11 hours early, at 7pm the evening before our 6am send-out; regular video content and regular exclusive columns from Propel group editor Mark Wingett. 
 
Trollip – it’s important to go back to the beginning and think about why your business is a great place to work: Brian Trollip, managing director of Indian restaurant group Dishoom, has said it’s important to go back to the beginning and think about why your business is a great place to work to help solve recruitment and retention issues. Speaking at the recent Propel Multi-Club event, Trollip also said the company was now centrally managing the introduction into the business to help new starters. He said: “For our industry historically because it’s quite a low barrier to entry it is easy to come and join, make some quick money and then go on and do other things. I think a lot of people still think of it that way. I think it's really important to sort of brush everything away and go back to the beginning and really think quite hard about why your business is a great place to work. And be really honest with yourself about whether it is or whether it isn't. Talk to a lot of people – make sure you've got a lot of diversity in the room so you really do understand. Week one, what does that look like? Is it a great place to work for that person? Do that for every single role within your business.” Trollip said it was also important to map out the potential career pathway for individuals “because hospitality is an incredible career”. He added: “What we've done differently recently is we have tried to manage more closely that first couple of weeks into the business and we are doing that a little bit more centrally than previously. Just because we find our restaurant teams have been under a little bit more pressure – those experiences have been a little bit less consistent. We're talking about those two weeks to a month where you lose a lot of people. We're finding that's having a major impact on turnover in the first 90 days. It’s us just being a little bit closer to those people giving them a much more consistent experience into the business, which builds a lot of trust.”
 
Restaurant workers lured with free prosecco and gym discounts in war for talent: Restaurants are offering workers free birthday prosecco, gym discounts and high-end takeaways as the battle for talent heats up. A string of hospitality companies have started highlighting perks, increasing pay and even looked at introducing gardening leave as part of efforts to prevent their staff from being poached amid a shortfall of more than 160,000 workers across the industry. Granger & Co, the all-day dining concept set up by Australian TV chef Bill Granger and former My Kinda Town managing director Peter Webber, told the Telegraph its workers receive a free bottle of prosecco on their birthday, while others including Whitbread have introduced retention bonuses. Whitbread said it is expecting to spend £10m on summer retention bonuses this year. Mitchells & Butlers has recently started giving staff a multi-gym discount and allowing workers to get part of their salary before payday. Galvin Restaurants, led by Michelin-starred chefs Chris and Jeff Galvin, is even considering introducing gardening leave so any staff member who is poached has to go home for their notice period rather than being free to woo colleagues to go with them. Rick Stein's restaurants, meanwhile, has formalised more of its perks, including giving staff a three-course meal for two at any of the sites every year and “staff surprises” such as Rick Stein-themed meal boxes delivered to their homes. It comes as the sector faces a shortage of 164,000 workers in the period between January and March, according to figures from the Office of National Statistics. “For hospitality to feel like a career and not a tolerable stopgap, benefits packages must compete with rival industries,” said Nisha Katona, founder of Indian street food restaurant Mowgli.
 
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with an international hospitality business that is seeking a chief people officer. This role will be based in London but does require international travel. The chief people officer will report directly into the chief executive and will manage a team of around 25-30. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “This business has big plans for the next few years and is hoping to take on board someone who can help build structure, develop the culture and drive innovation. This is a fast-moving environment with a strong senior management team and aspirations to grow globally. We are looking for an individual who is resilient and proactive in their approach to work and who understands start-up vision. Hospitality or tech experience is a real advantage, or a really strong understanding of the sector is needed. The business is looking for someone who has extensive international experience who has a proven track record or supporting a scaling business.” The salary is negotiable plus shares and bonus. For more information and to arrange for a confidential chat, email Hollie@corecruitment.com
 

Company News:

M&B to open Browns Brasserie & Bar in Beaconsfield: Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) is planning to open a new site under its Browns Brasserie & Bar brand in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, Propel has learned. The company, which currently operates 23 sites across the country under the brand, is understood to be set to convert its Vintage Inns site, The White Hart, into a Browns. It would be the first opening under the brand in a market town location. Last November, Phil Urban, chief executive at M&B, told Propel the group’s star performers over the previous few months had been Miller & Carter, which still has “another two or three years of expansion ahead”, and Browns. Jeremy Mogford opened the first Browns restaurant and bar in 1973 in Brighton. Over the next 15 years, he established a chain of five sites under the brand, with further openings in Oxford, Bristol, Mayfair and Covent Garden, before the business was acquired by Bass Brewery, which would eventually become, in part, M&B, in a circa £35m deal. Over the next six years, the company steadily built the business up to 14 sites. However, it would take another six years before another Browns would open, after the conversion of the Athenaeum in Manchester’s Spring Gardens in November 2010. At the time, M&B mooted it would like to add 35 sites to the Browns brand to get to 50 sites. 
 
Resolution Pubs founder to begin expansion of burger and games-inspired concept with double opening: Adam Noble, founder of Norfolk-based Resolution Pubs, has secured two sites as he begins expansion of his new burger and games-inspired concept, Propel has learned. Noble began trialling Burger & Social at the company’s Jolly Brewers pub in the village of Shouldham Thorpe at the start of the year as he aimed to get “people back out and socialising”. The concept is all about a “cool neighbourhood hangout to enjoy fantastic burgers, super shakes and a game of pool and some arcade games”. Now Noble is opening new Burger & Social sites, in King’s Lynn and Norwich. He has secured the Soul Cafe and Restaurant premises in King’s Lynn with the Tower Street site set to be refurbished before reopening next month. Noble is also set to bring Burger & Social to Norwich by opening in the former Bourgee premises at the Castle Square shopping centre. Noble told Propel: “We’re still running Burger & Social at the Jolly Brewers for now while we look at what we’re going to do next with the site – we’ve got a few ideas.” Meanwhile, Resolution Pubs has closed its Italian restaurant in Spalding's South Holland Centre after a six-month trial. The top-floor Moninna’s Ristorante and Pizzeria has shut due to “logistics”. Noble said: “It's just purely a space thing. The building has so many uses – for example if there's a function on you have to close the restaurant. We were running those functions but when it came to the investment needed to make it work the numbers just didn’t add up.” Staff at Moninna’s have been offered roles in Resolution Pubs other businesses, which also include the New Inn in Hockwold and Raymond’s Bar & Eatery at Sutton Bridge Golf Club. Noble added: “We’re still interested in opening in Spalding if we can find suitable premises. I’d love to bring Burger & Social there if possible.” 
 
Buenasado plans triple opening: Argentine steakhouse concept Buenasado plans to open three new sites, including an opening in the Bluewater shopping scheme, Kent, Propel has learned. The concept, which currently operates sites in Reading and Walton-on-Thames, is set to take on the ex-Loch Fyne Restaurants site in Bluewater, with an opening planned for later this year. The business will open its third site next month, on the former The Ox unit in Bristol’s Whiteladies Road. Propel understands the business is in talks on a further site for an opening this year. Buenasado first opened in 2011, in Wimbledon, which is one of five sites – including those in Richmond, Horsham, Reigate and Chiswick – now operating under its sister brand, Buenos Aires Argentine Steakhouse. In 2018, Buenasado’s parent company, Buenos Aires Restaurant Holdings, announced a share merger with High Road Restaurants Group BidCo, owner of the Koh Thai Tapas chain of Thai restaurants, to form a multi-branded restaurant group. Koh Thai will open its fifth site on Friday (15 April) in Port Solent. Richard Negus, of AG&G, acted on the Bluewater deal. 

Chris Welham joins Robinsons as a non-executive director: Chris Welham, the former chief executive of Wadworth, has joined north west-based brewer and retailer Robinsons Brewery as a non-executive director. Prior to his time at Wadworth, Welham was previously divisional managing director at Spirit and operations director at Greene King. Earlier this year, he joined research consultancy KAM Media as its non-executive chairman. He is also currently managing director at S4Labour. At the same time, Propel understands that Stephen Oliver, former managing director at Marston’s, has stepped down from the Robinsons’ board after seven years of being a non-executive director. In January, Robinsons announced it was planning to relocate its Stockport town centre brewing and head office operations to its packaging centre site in Bredbury. The relocation – an investment of more than £12m – will include the installation of a new brewhouse and will mean all operations including brewing, cask racking, kegging, bottling lines, logistics and a new office facility will be housed on one site for the first time since 1949.

Boxpark comes to the City for second Boxhall site with Liverpool Street deal: Boxpark has signed a deal to open a new 17,000 square foot site in Liverpool Street next year. Dubbed “BoxHall City”, the site will replace the existing Metropolitan Arcade at Liverpool Street station with a collection of food and drink outlets and event venues. The arcade was built in 1912 on the site of the former Metropolitan Railway station, which is now served by Circle, Metropolitan and Hammersmith & City line tubes. The site will open in summer 2023 as part of a 15-year lease signed with freehold owner, Transport for London (TfL). Boxpark founder Roger Wade said: “We are excited to repurpose the building and make it home to a premium food, beer and music hall – BoxHall – while retaining its character and feel.” BoxHall City will be the fourth Boxpark site in London. Its first venue opened in Shoreditch in 2010, with subsequent sites in Croydon and Wembley. The name comes from the use of old shipping containers, which house bars and restaurants and are used to construct venues. Expansion comes after the group secured “significant investment” from Lloyds Development Capital, the private equity arm of Lloyds Bank, last year. The group created its first BoxHall concept in Bristol, repurposing an existing building rather than building a new structure out of containers. The current Metropolitan arcade is a mixture of retail outlets, cafes and office space. Under current plans, the existing Edwardian features of the building will be retained and restored, accompanying the introduction of high-end food counters, craft beer outlets and a new music hall. TfL’s head of commercial property, Nigel Pickup, said: “This will provide a range of food and beverage options to the thousands of people who visit, work or pass through Liverpool Street station every day.” In December, Wade told Propel that Boxpark plans to grow to 12 sites over the next three years.
 
Hagen plans Portobello opening for sixth site: Danish espresso bar concept Hagen is planning to open a sixth site in London, in Portobello, Propel understands. Born out of Copenhagen and founded in London, Hagen focuses on creating hygge spaces and serving premium specialty coffee in London’s affluent locations. Hagen, which is led by founder Tim Schroeder, is to open on the former Anya Hindmarch site in Ledbury Road. The company opened its latest site at the end of last year, after taking on a 1,500 square foot of space at 82 Marylebone High Street. Hagen also operates sites in Chelsea, Mayfair, Pimlico Road and South Kensington.
 
Starbucks UK appoints Dolly Vora as new marketing director: Starbucks UK has appointed Dolly Vora, formerly of Pizza Hut UK & Europe, as its new marketing, innovation, digital and sustainability director. Vora joins Starbucks UK after five and a half years at Pizza Hut, including the last two as head of marketing, innovation and insights. Previous to working at Pizza Hut, she had stints at GSK Consumer Healthcare and Mars. Last month, Starbucks said it is to open 140 new coffee shops in the UK this year after its British operation swung back into profit after losses in 2020 and resumed paying corporation tax. In the first year of the pandemic, the US-owned company received a tax credit of £4.4m in the UK after racking up a pre-tax loss of £40.9m. The business, which has more than 1,000 outlets in Britain, was forced to seek a £25m loan from its US parent to help offset a decline in trading. It has paid back the loan and confirmed that it had taken none of the government support in the form of covid loans or furlough money.
 
Wendy’s plans Guildford opening: Wendy’s, the third-largest quick service restaurant chain in the US, has added to its UK openings pipeline, after lining up a site in Guildford. Propel understands Wendy’s, which made its return to the UK last summer, is planning an opening in the Surrey town’s former Mothercare site in Church Street. Last month, Propel reported the US brand was planning an opening in Sutton High Street and had lined up a further drive-thru site in the UK, in Peterborough. The company is set to join Taco Bell and Costa Coffee in opening drive-thrus on the former Royal Mail ParcelForce sorting and distribution site in Peterborough. The business secured a drive-thru site in Colchester last year. The brand is also set to return to Uxbridge, with an opening on the former Bonmarche unit in the town’s High Street. Earlier this year, the company said it plans to “build about ten restaurants in the UK in 2022”, and open circa 50 dark kitchen sites under its partnership with Reef. At the start of March, the company opened its sixth UK restaurant, in Brighton’s Western Road.
 
The Secret Hospitality Group acquires Swansea restaurant, expects turnover to exceed £7m this year: Swansea-based The Secret Hospitality Group has acquired Castellamare Restaurant in Mumbles after a seven-figure investment supported by Barclays. The family business, which also runs the Secret Beach Bar on Swansea seafront, expects group turnover to exceed £7m this year, following the acquisition. The deal has created 50 jobs with the restaurant set to undergo a £500,000 refurbishment. Ryan Hole, who owns the group with sister Lucy, said: “This is an iconic Swansea landmark and we were always interested when we heard the venue was available. We have major expansion plans for the restaurant. Finding quality staff is a real challenge as many employees left the sector during the pandemic and we as business owners within the sector need to attract and provide genuine job satisfaction and a quality work-life balance within a challenging environment to retain great talent. We are well positioned within the local market, with a loyal client base and can use this investment supported by Barclays to grow and diversify our business offering.” The Secret Hospitality Group opened its first restaurant in the city – Green Room Bar & Kitchen – in 2017 before adding Secret Beach Bar in 2019. The group is also due to open a restaurant at the new Copr Bay development in Swansea. 
 
Peel Hotels puts Bournemouth property on market for £8.5m as business looks to clear debts by end of year: Peel Hotels has put the Norfolk Royale Hotel in Bournemouth on the market for £8.5m as the business look to enter 2023 debt-free. Chairman Robert Peel said he wanted to clear the company’s £5m debts before the end of the year. Peel said the 95-bedroom, four-star, hotel may not be sold, depending on whether any of their other hotels in its portfolio sell. Our bank is ceasing lending at the end of this year and we have got a huge debt with it,” Peel said. “The second thing is I am 75 years old now and I want to run a company with no debt at all.” Christie & Co is managing the sale of the hotel, which was originally converted from two imposing Victorian villas. Peel Hotels owns six sites in the UK.
 
Stonegate and Punch Pubs owners among suitors for Butlin’s: The owners of some of Britain’s most prominent leisure and retail businesses are among the suitors exploring takeover bids for Butlin’s. Sky News reports that Fortress Investment Group, which owns Punch Pubs, and TDR Capital, the owner of Stonegate and one of the principal shareholders in Asda, are among the parties that submitted indicative offers for Butlin's in the last few days. City sources said other parties had bid for the business too, with bankers suggesting another offer may have come from KSL Capital Partners, a prolific investor in UK leisure assets. Butlin's is being sold by Bourne Leisure, which also trades under the Haven and Warner Leisure Hotels brands. Bourne's owner, the private equity giant Blackstone, appointed Rothschild last autumn to conduct an auction of Butlin's after concluding that it did not fit with the rest of the group. Butlin’s currently operates holiday camps in Skegness, Bognor Regis and Minehead. Blackstone bought Bourne just under 18 months ago in a deal valuing the group at about £3bn. Blackstone, Fortress and TDR all declined to comment.
 
Five Guys adds three more sites to 2022 openings pipeline: Better burger brand Five Guys has added a further three sites to its openings pipeline in the UK for this year. The 137-strong brand has lined up openings in Preston, Basildon and Tunbridge Wells. The company plans to open on the former Frankie & Benny's site at Preston’s Deepdale Retail Park. It has also secured the ex-Villagio site at Festival Leisure Park, Basildon, and plans to open on the former Close & Hamblin store in Tunbridge Wells. Last month, Propel revealed Five Guys had secured a further flagship site in the capital in Marylebone, with the former Pelican State site in Wigmore Street. The business also has openings lined up for this year in Cheshunt, Cardiff, Staines, Tamworth, and Scotch Corner Designer Village, off the A1 near Richmond. The company recently opened sites in Newport Road, Cardiff, and in Manchester Piccadilly. 
 
Leicestershire-based restaurant operators acquire second site: Leicestershire-based restaurant operators Roberto Isella and Liberato Mazza have acquired their second site. The duo have added Ferarri – an Italian trattoria in Quorn – for an undisclosed sum, following the retirement of its long-time owners, the Buttarazzi family. The deal has involved the purchase of the restaurant business and the grant of a new lease for the building to Isella and Mazza. During the lockdown, my team and I were looking for a fresh challenge and came across Ferrari when searching for a restaurant with an excellent reputation,” said Mazza. “Quorn is a fantastic area with a healthy customer base, which we are excited to welcome back to the restaurant. We redesigned the interior but kept the same menu that customers have come to expect from Ferrari.” Isella and Mazzo have operated the Timo restaurant and wine bar in Stoneygate, Leicester for 15 years, and have worked together for more than two decades after Isella arrived in the UK to study restaurant management. Leicester-based law firm Nelsons advised Isella and Mazza on the deal.
 
Bath-based independent brewery under new ownership: Bath-based independent brewery Electric Bear Brewing Company is under new ownership. The business, based in Brassmill Lane, has been acquired by local couple David and Mary Horner for an undisclosed sum. Formed by a group of homebrewers in 2015, Electric Bear supplies the on and off-trade as well as operating online shop and taproom within the brewery. David Horner, who is managing director of another Bath business Chelverton Asset Management, said: “I’ve always wanted to own a brewery and have missed out on a number of occasions over the years, so when I heard Bath’s only craft brewery, right here on my doorstep, was available, it was too good an opportunity to miss. The brewery has so much untapped potential and an excellent brewing team, so we are very much looking forward to further developing the brand over the next few years.” During the second national lockdown the business saw its online sales surge by more than 400. Electric Bear’s new owners have begun an investment programme which will see expansion of the company’s sales team, development of sustainability objectives and new brewing equipment, as part of plans to make the business “one of the best-known craft breweries in the region.”
 
Nashville-inspired fried chicken concept opens in Clapham: A new Nashville-inspired fried chicken concept has opened in Clapham, south London. Bird and Tie has launched in The Pavement having started life as a ghost kitchen during the pandemic. The team said on its website it was inspired to create the concept by trips to the Deep South to visit family. The menu includes a range of chicken sandwiches and wings – the choice is southern, mild, Nashville hot and “Poultrygeist”, which features a touch of ghost chilli in it – once certified by the Guinness Book of Records as being the hottest in the world. The drinks range includes mojitos and frozen daiquiris that are all alcohol-free.
 
Mr Bao co-founder joins foodservice supplier as vice-president of impact: Nick Birkett, co-founder of the Mr Bao restaurant group, has joined Collectiv Food as its vice-president of impact. In a new role for the foodservice supplier, Birkett’s responsibilities encompass sustainability and growth, helping Collectiv Food achieve its vision of a greener, fairer, and more transparent food supply chain. Birkett brings experience from both ends of the chain to the role. He has previously built two multimillion-pound restaurant groups and provided sustainability consultancy to UK farms. Birkett said: “I know from experience the challenges restaurateurs face with customers demanding improved sustainability credentials while simultaneously resisting increased prices. The challenge we face in salvaging our planet is huge, but connecting this vast spectrum of food producers with the restaurateurs I’ve built relationships with over the past 15 years will be a an incredibly exciting step in solving it.”
 
The Real Greek makes north east debut: The Real Greek, the Fulham Shore-owned brand, has made its north east debut. Propel revealed in January that The Real Greek had secured the former Prezzo until in Newcastle’s Eldon Square scheme, and the restaurant has now opened. The 154-cover restaurant, with both indoor and outdoor seating, is The Real Greek’s 24th site, its 11th outlet outside the capital and its second new opening in 2022. Offerings include traditional and contemporary Greek meze dishes, flame-grilled meat, souvlaki wraps and salads. Nabil Mankarious, managing director at The Real Greek, said: “We’re thrilled to be opening another restaurant in the north of England, this is our next big step in expanding our popular offering in the north. Following strong demand for authentic Greek cuisine, The Real Greek continues to expand its portfolio of restaurants around the country, with a focus currently on the north.” Last week, Fulham Shore, which also operates Franco Manca, reported it expects revenue, Ebitda and adjusted headline Ebitda for the financial year ended 27 March 2022 to be ahead of last year’s figures and “comfortably ahead of market expectations”.
 
Richard Fuller joins Cotswold Cider Company as chairman: Richard Fuller, non-executive director at London pub retailer Fuller’s, has been appointed chairman of Cotswold Cider Company. Founder Rory Souter said: “Richard joins us at a great time for the company as we expand our operations, and we're very fortunate to be able to draw on his depth of experience in the trade. His previous involvement with Cornish Orchards cider, prior to its sale to Asahi, will be invaluable in taking our regional company forward and to help give real cider the recognition it deserves.” Fuller added: “There is a great opportunity for growth, both at home and abroad, and I am excited about helping Rory and The Cotswold Cider Company realise its potential.” The Cotswold Cider Company was founded in 2009 in Coleshill, Oxfordshire.
 
Tim Hortons set for further Midlands growth with Merry Hill site: Canadian quick service restaurant brand Tim Hortons is eyeing further growth in the Midlands with a site at the Merry Hill shopping centre in Dudley. SK Group, which is leading the rollout of the brand in the UK, is set to open a drive-thru and restaurant in Station Drive in the premises previously occupied by The Restaurant Group brand Frankie & Benny's. The site, which will be open round the clock, will create about 60 jobs, reports the Stourbridge News. Tim Hortons has rapidly expanded across the UK in recent years and now has 51 sites over here. A further seven are “opening soon” – in Dunstable, Plymouth, Oldbury, Teesside, Mansfield, Market Street in Manchester and Portadown. It has also submitted plans for sites in Coventry, Nuneaton and Burton as it plans further expansion in the Midlands while a drive-thru in Bolton and a debut Kent site, in Broadstairs, are also in the pipeline.

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