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Tue 19th Apr 2022 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

NPD Group – strong value for money and a multi-channel approach key to success in 2022 and beyond, lunch visits take biggest hit: Strong value for money and a multi-channel approach will be the keys to succeeding in 2022 and beyond, Seton Leung, head of UK foodservice at market research company NPD Group, has said. Speaking at the Propel Multi-Club Conference, Leung was identifying key trends for industry operators in 2022. She said: “Value for money remains the first and foremost trend for 2022, but this is not necessarily about low prices – it also means delivering on great service. The price of living has seen consumers migrate towards more value-based offerings, with 56% of UK consumers saying affordable choices will drive restaurant choice, 54% preferring price promotions and 40% preferring loyalty programmes. Delivery will retain its importance in the market, while the penetration of digital in the industry set to continue. The 2021 success drivers were apps (up 24% on 2020), collection (up 29%), drive-thru (up 33%) and delivery (up 20%) – and they aren’t going anywhere. Some 40% say they use delivery to avoid visiting restaurants, while 15% anticipate more online ordering in the coming months and 80% have used digital app in hospitality setting in last six months. With 33% of consumers claiming to be vegan, vegetarian or flexitarian, it’s not necessarily just for Veganuary, while with the return of events and travel, experience occasions are set to grow.” With inflation up and consumer confidence down, Leung said “we’re in for some tough times ahead”, and while her company projects consumer spending eventually returning to pre-pandemic levels, it won’t be this year. With out-of-home consumer spend down 16% since 2020, she said £9bn has fallen out of the market in the last two years. Quick service restaurants (up 3%) is the only sector that has been able to sustain the covid fall-out, with restaurants down 14% and pubs down 29%. But NPD projects consumer spending will return to 2019 levels of £57.7bn after 2023, with the biggest opportunity in on-premise. Driving footfall and frequency remain key to a full recovery, with traffic currently down 33% and penetration down 10%, and five million consumers still to return. Frequency is also down 31%, but the average transaction value is up 26%, driven mainly by price inflation. The biggest daypart loser has been lunch – down 40% compared with breakfast (down 28%) and dinner (down 17%) – with the pandemic shifting five million lunch visits to breakfast and 21 million to dinner. 
 

Industry News:

Sponsored message – The DRG backs Hospitality Rising and urges you to join campaign: Mario Gizzi, director of The DRG, is backing Hospitality Rising and calling on others to do the same. 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. Gizzi said: “The huge challenges we face in finding the right talent to join our teams are not going to be solved without a concerted effort from us all to promote hospitality as an enjoyable and rewarding career choice. Hospitality Rising will promote hospitality as the fun, varied, positive and rewarding career choice that we all know it to be. It sees the industry come together as one to back a project that takes a different approach to attract more candidates to our sector. We would urge hospitality companies of all sizes to join us and get involved. By investing, you are adding your voice and brand to the collective effort to solve our current recruitment problems and help our industry thrive now and in the future. The current crisis has emphasised the need for a fresh approach, and we believe Hospitality Rising is an ambitious and potentially game-changing campaign to encourage more people to join our exciting industry.” 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
 
Next edition of Turnover & Profits Blue Book to feature more than 550 companies: The next edition of Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which is updated monthly for Premium subscribers, will see 13 companies added, taking the total number to 559. Among the companies being added are Fun & Fries and Loizou Restaurants. Premium subscribers will receive the latest edition of the Blue Book, which is produced in association with Mapal Group, on Friday (22 April) at midday. The Blue Book shows the effects of the pandemic, with total losses of £7.6bn being reported by 347 companies. However, a further 212 sector companies are still reporting total profits of £1bn. The Blue Book, which is updated every month, provides an insight into UK operator turnover and profitability over five years, profit conversion and directors’ earnings. Premium subscribers also receive the New Openings Database, produced in association with StarStock, and the Multi-Site Operators Database, produced in association with Virgate, which are also updated each month. Premium subscribers have also been given exclusive access to a new database. The UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database is an exhaustive guide to the companies offering a food and beverage franchise in the UK and will be updated every two months. The first edition, which was sent on Friday (15 April), features 100 companies, providing insight on the offer, locations, cost and other key details. The first edition provides 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 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.
 
European branded coffee shop market grows 3.2% as chains bounce back from covid, UK remains largest segment: The UK remains the largest branded coffee shop market in Europe as it bounces back from covid, but rising costs and the Ukraine conflict are casting a shadow over its recovery. The Project Café Europe 2022 report revealed the European branded coffee shop market grew 3.2% over the last 12 months to reach 40,675 outlets. Indicating improved trading for many operators following the pandemic, 29 out of the largest 40 European markets by outlets have expanded in size over the last 12 months. The UK still has the most branded outlets, with 9,540, ahead of Germany with 5,464, and Russia with 4,318. Major branded chains still dominate Europe, with the 20 largest operators holding a 48% share of the total market and 63% of outlets belonging to multi-national operators. UK-based Costa Coffee remains Europe’s largest coffee chain with 3,263 outlets across 19 markets having opened 87 net stores over the last year. US-based McCafé, Russia’s One Price Coffee and Starbucks are the fastest growing coffee shop brands in Europe, opening 305, 240 and 108 net new stores over the last 12 months. Despite rising costs and the associated dampening of consumer confidence across Europe, 60% of European industry leaders surveyed believe trading conditions will improve over the next 12 months. World Coffee Portal predicts the total European branded coffee shop market will exceed 40,890 outlets within the next 12 months, rising to 44,600 outlets by March 2027 at a growth of 1.9% compound annual growth rate (CAGR). The coffee-focused segment is expected to lead this growth, exceeding 26,900 outlets by March 2027 at a growth of 2.3% CAGR.

Landlords to be forced to let out retail units that have been vacant for six months: Empty shops will be given a new lease of life under a radical plan to revitalise high streets. The Daily Mail reports that landlords will be forced to let out retail units that have been vacant for longer than six months under the government’s new plans. It will allow community groups and small businesses to take over boarded-up properties that blight once thriving town centres, hopefully returning them to their former glories. The new powers will be introduced as part of the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, which will be announced in the Queen’s Speech next month. Under the new plan, local authorities will be able to force landlords to rent out commercial property on high streets through a Compulsory Rental Auction. After a short grace period for landlords to fill the shop, local authorities will be able to instigate an auction, inviting bids from interested parties. A government source said: “The government’s mission to level up will breathe new life into these great towns and end the scourge of boarded- up shops sucking the soul out of once-bustling high streets.” Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, said: “We welcome these new proposals to rejuvenate empty properties, which can blight an area, stimulate innovation and accelerate economic growth and recovery.” JD Wetherspoon chief executive Tim Martin welcomed the plan but called for further support for high streets, urging the government to address the tax imbalance between hospitality businesses and supermarkets. He said: “Unless the government grasps this nettle, its high street initiatives will be doomed to failure. Tax equality is the elixir that will encourage people to convert boarded-up shops into tax-paying employment-generating businesses.”

City-centre pubs and cafes suffer as part-time working from home persists: Pubs, cafes and restaurants in city and town centres stand to lose £3bn of spending a year as office staff continue to work some of the week from home. The Telegraph reports that the typical worker will spend an extra day a week at home this year compared with their pre-pandemic habits, according to research presented at the Royal Economic Society last week. As many as 77,000 jobs in retail and hospitality could either be lost or relocated with a permanent reduction in the amount spent on coffees and lunches in central locations. Overall, this amounts to removing 1.5% of all retail and hospitality spending, but in areas with lots of office workers the proportion will be far higher. The City of London will be most affected, as the economists estimate spending could fall by almost a third. Jesse Matheson at the University of Sheffield, who conducted the research along with economists at the universities of Nottingham and Birmingham, said cities such as Leeds and Manchester will also be heavily affected. Similarly money saved on a bus, car or train to work can also be directed to more little luxuries such as a meal at a local restaurant. That depends on the presence of hospitality outlets in residential areas, which may not have existed pre-covid when office workers were largely based in central locations. More cafes and restaurants may be set up in the suburbs to cater for this shift in demand, but Matheson said the economics of running a business away from town centres meant there was likely to be an overall drop in employment in hospitality as a result. 

Groups think outside the box to boost retention levels: The Cubitt House Group has turned to God in an effort to prevent staff from leaving as hospitality companies fight off fierce competition for talent. The Telegraph said that the company, which owns pubs including the Thomas Cubitt in Belgravia and the Orange in Pimlico, has brought in a vicar from a local church to deliver empathy lessons to employees so the company is a happy place to work. Meanwhile, restaurant chain Blacklock is giving workers “pawternity leave” if they get a new puppy as well as round-the-world flights for those with long service. The hospitality industry is locked in a perks arms race amid severe staff shortages as they prepare for the first summer since the post-covid reopening. Seb Fogg, managing director of Cubitt House Group, said: “There’s a big myth out there about staff shortages. There are thousands of people out there who want to work but might not be experienced in our industry. What we need to do as operators is get them in, look after them and train them well. If they’re happy and willing to work then that’s all we need. We’ve brought a Belgravia-based vicar from one of the local churches into the business who will work to introduce empathy across our staff base.” Gordon Ker, the founder of Blacklock, said the company offers free foot massages in addition to leave for staff who get a dog, as well as anniversary gifts for those who stay for a certain number of years including a round the world plane ticket or a fully paid four-week sabbatical. David Moore, owner of Michelin-starred London restaurant Pied à Terre, said his company is about to restart annual bonuses to any staff who have been with the firm for more than a year. Many workers left for other industries during lockdowns and never returned, while those who did are now demanding better pay and conditions. One restaurant boss said that staff who earned £26,000 before covid have returned demanding £38,000 and saying they won’t work weekends or Friday nights.
 
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a premium, high volume, restaurant concept that is looking for an operations director. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “We are looking for a solid operations director who can lead and inspire this team. People are at the heart of the company, and this role will ensure the learning and development part of the business is of the utmost importance and the team is organically developed. It’s a roll your sleeves up position and for someone who still loves to be among their teams in the restaurants. You will have full financial accountability for the sites and ensure the performance of the restaurants, while maintaining excellent service standards and guest experience. You will embody the brand but also put people first – you will be inspirational to your people, so you must be an ambassador for the group.” The on-target earnings for the role is £100,000 and the position is based in north west England with national travel. For more information and to apply, email Kate@corecruitment.com

Company News:

Metcalfe – I think it takes getting to 100 sites before you can prove your concept for franchising: Julian Metcalfe, founder of Itsu, the healthy Asian food chain, has told Propel he thinks a brand needs to reach 100 sites before “you can prove your concept” when it comes to franchising. The company is set to open its third site with franchisee – Heart with Smart Group, which is operated by the team behind Pizza Hut Restaurants, this Friday (22 April) in Chelmsford’s Chelmer Village Retail Park. Further franchise sites are set to open in the Trafford Retail Park, Manchester, and in Union Square, Aberdeen. Alongside the Heart with Smart Group, Itsu has also opened a franchise site in Fosse Park, Leicester, with Savvi Dining Group. Metcalfe said: “90% of our style of hospitality businesses franchise so it's our job to make sure we are a brilliant franchisor. We will probably only ever have two or three people in England, maybe four, who we work with who can do it very, very well. If your disciplines, procedures and processes of your business are good enough, I don't see why you can't franchise. McDonald's has proven you can. I think it takes about 100 sites before you can prove your concept. So, we are different there. That's quite a confrontational thing to say for some people, but it's true. I really honestly believe you need to have at least 100 sites before you can turn to someone and say right I have a really valuable system, process, venue and staff trading and all the hundreds of things that you need to be able to hand business over to somebody to run.” Last week, Pret A Manger announced it had signed a franchise deal to expand into Ireland. Metcalfe said Itsu at present had nothing lined up in terms of making the same move, but would do in the future if it found a “dynamic partner” to link up with. The new Chelmsford site will have more than 100 covers, and Metcalfe said he would like to have 100-plus covers in all of his sites “but that’s just not possible”. He said: “Sometimes you've got a great site and it only has 20 seats, but that's okay. If there are 100-plus covers there's no barriers to customers coming in. You don't have to book a table. You can use it exactly the same way you use fast food. In other words, you're completely free. Come in have as little as much as you want, sit down when you want. It’s a logical approach to affordable, healthy, fast food, and that's what that's what we're trying to do.” Metcalfe said many of the brand’s regional sites are “way up on 2019” when it comes to current trading, but that its sites in central London, remain “sluggish”. 

Marugame Udon secures flagship site on The Strand: International udon noodles and tempura restaurant brand Marugame Udon is to open a flagship site on The Strand, London, Propel has learned. The company, which is backed by Capdesia in the UK, has exchanged on a site that combines the Jigsaw and Cool Britannia units on the street. Keith Bird, chief executive of Marugame Udon Europe, told Propel: “We’re excited to be adding this fantastic flagship location as one of our eight to ten sites that we intend to land in 2022. We are also building a strong accelerated pipeline for 2023, as we get ready to open our first franchisee sites with some great franchise partners’ and speed up from there.” Earlier this month, Bird told Propel that the brand was trading well ahead of expectations in the UK, which has “encouraged us to accelerate our growth plans”. The brand opened its first site here near Liverpool Street in the City of London last July. It has added sites in the O2, Canary Wharf and St Christopher’s Place, and has openings lined up in Argyll Street – on the former Frankie & Benny’s unit – and at the Brent Cross shopping scheme. Marugame Udon has also secured the former Carluccio’s site on The Balcony, at Waterloo station, for its transport hub debut in the UK. The brand has more than 850 restaurants in Japan and a further 250 across Asia and the US. The Times reported earlier this year that the brand plans to have at least 100 outlets within five years in the UK and on the continent. The site on The Strand was delivered jointly by Marc Rogers at MKR Property and Richard Brown of RAB Retail. 

Gymbox founder Richard Hilton and sector investor Paul Campbell to launch Fairgame concept: The upcoming competitive socialising concept from Richard Hilton, the founder of Gymbox, and sector investor Paul Campbell, which will launch in Canary Wharf later this year, will be called Fairgame. As previously revealed by Propel, the new venture will spread over 15,500 square feet at Frobisher Passage in Canary Wharf, and offer customers the chance to play a range of nostalgic games in a carnival-inspired setting. The venue will feature three bars, private hire areas, three street-food kitchens and a 400-person-capacity covered riverside terrace, with food trucks and an outside bar. The new venture is backed by BGF. Earlier this year, Propel revealed that a new competitive socialising concept was set to be launched by Hilton and Campbell. Toby Cowan, formerly of Cote, Young’s and Urban Pubs and Bars, has been appointed chief operating officer of the new business. Stuart Fyfe, managing director, retail leasing, at Canary Wharf Group, said: “As Canary Wharf evolves, the addition of world-class leisure attractions will become critical. Fairgame will undoubtedly be a huge addition to our offer, with a first-class experienced team, a stunning fitout and an amazing concept. It is certain to be really popular.”

Padel4all raises more than £3m for expansion: Padel4all, the padel tennis concept, which was founded three years ago, has raised more than £3m from family and friends, to fuel its expansion plans. The Times reports that the business, which currently has two sites, in Swindon and Southend, plans to open at least three this year, including two at golf clubs. In five years’ time it is aiming to have 20 centres with at least 80 courts turning over £8m. A fresh fundraising of perhaps £2 million is planned in the next 12 months. Christopher Wilkinson, founder and chief executive, is a former managing director of Numis Securities. He estimated that court fees accounted for 75% of revenues, with 20% in membership fees and the rest from retail. “It’s all about court occupancy,” he said. “We incentivise staff on occupancy.” The cost of building a four-court padel centre was about £500,000, depending on whether it was indoors or outdoors, but soaring steel, concrete and transport costs have pushed that up to about £700,000. Wilkinson, who plays both real tennis and padel tennis, said that at maturity he would expect a four-court padel centre to take £375,000 a year, assuming that it achieves the company’s target for court occupancy of 64%. Kevin McCollum, Padel4all’s chairman, knows how to build a leisure club business, having been chief executive of Invicta Leisure, a health club chain that he sold to Esporta in 2002 in a deal worth £140m. He believes padel tennis has huge potential. “Planners are becoming very receptive to the idea of padel tennis because they’re beginning to appreciate what a lovely sport it is. It’s relatively easy to pick up, play and enjoy and is good exercise. It’s a little bit more forgiving than tennis, which is more technical.”

Urban Pubs & Bars appoints Glenn Pearson as CFO: London-based operator Urban Pubs & Bars has appointed Glenn Pearson, formerly of Admiral Taverns, as its new chief financial officer, Propel has learned. Pearson spent over 12 years as chief financial officer at Admiral Taverns from July 2007 to March 2020. Last year, Urban Pubs & Bars partnered with Davidson Kempner and Global Mutual to help accelerate its growth plans. Last October, the company acquired 13 sites from London bar group Barworks, including the latter’s remaining The Diner site in Camden, which is currently being refurbished. At the end of last year, the group opened its 35th site, the Black Horse pub in Fitzrovia. Situated in Rathbone Place, the pub is the group’s 35th site. It is set to open two sites under its Salt Yard umbrella, in Borough and Westfield London.

Laine Pub Company opens The Spark House in east London: Multiple pub operator and brewer The Laine Pub Company has opened its second new site in as many months, with the launch of The Spark House in east London. Located on the border of Leyton and Walthamstow, the freehold of the former Drum public house was acquired by Laine in early 2022 and has subsequently been refurbished, renamed and relaunched with a completely new proposition. The company, which last month reopened the former Boutique nightclub in Brighton, as The Oculist, said inspiration for the new venue comes from the idea of “light as a spark for the imagination, an idea that stretches back into antiquity with magic lanterns and fireside story telling”. It said: “And in the early days of silent film, Walthamstow was one of the original centres of movie making in the UK.” In paying homage to this legacy, Laine has incorporated the work of light artists into the fabric of the pub with Walthamstow-based visual artist and director Daisy Dickinson in charge of curating the light-based installations. Laine chief executive Gavin George told Propel: “It’s been highly satisfying to provide a platform for these incredible artists, doing so in a way that blends seamlessly with the pub environment and provides a link to the fascinating history of the area. The pub really does gain an otherworldly feeling from the light projections. We are very excited about the creative treatment of the Spark House and hope that it ignites a sense of inspiration in everyone who visits.” Whilst experiencing the art, guests will also be able to enjoy the pub’s all-day menu alongside drinks, which includes a special collaboration beer with East London Brewing Company, called “Ignite”.

Rosa’s Thai lines up Reading opening: Rosa’s Thai, which is backed by TriSpan, is to further add to its regional presence, with an opening in Reading. Propel has learned the Gavin Adair-led business is set to take a site at the Jackson’s Corner scheme in the city, for an opening later this year. The 29-strong group, which also operates a pair of delivery kitchen sites in London, recently made its debut in Wales, with an opening in Cardiff’s Church Street scheme, which also houses Pho, Mowgli, The Botanist and Honest Burgers. Rosa’s also recently opened in Caledonian Road, King’s Cross. The company has also secured the ex-Joe’s Kitchen unit in Coney Street, York, and will replace the Fielders retail unit in Wimbledon Hill Road in Wimbledon, for openings later this year. At the end of last year, Rosa’s appointed Steve Seager, formerly of Cote Restaurants, as its new property director, to further accelerate site growth. Thomas Rose, of P-Three, acts for Rosa’s.
 
Joule’s acquires flagship Shrewsbury pub: Shropshire-based brewer and retailer Joule’s has acquired the Henry Tudor House pub in Shrewsbury. The company has bought the grade I-listed property in Wyle Cop from Graham and Clare Jenkins, who have owned the business since 2011. The pub will join Joule’s other taphouses, which also includes Shrewsbury pubs The Dolphin and The White Horse, which is currently being refurbished. Anna Brakel, Joule’s operations manager, said: “It has always been a goal for us to have a taphouse in the centre of Shrewsbury, we really wanted a flagship in the heart of our county town to showcase our beer – this is our first choice building and Wyle Cop is just right for us.” Graham Jenkins added: “Once we took the difficult decision to seek retirement after ten fantastic years, the challenge was to find a new owner for our beloved building – someone who shared our values and beliefs of the business and its team – and we have done that.” Joule’s said it would “take its time” in crafting Henry Tudor House into a taphouse, with a “gentle” refurbishment planned at the start of next year.
 
Truman’s brand acquired by management team, rebrand and relocation of brewery planned: The Truman’s Beer brand has been acquired by part of the management team at its brewery in Brick Lane – with a rebrand coming later in the year. The beer was brewed for many years at the east London brewery until it stopped brewing in 1989, and when Truman’s Beer was re-established in 2010, it was from a new brewery in Hackney Wick. The Hackney Wick brewery will now close in May, with everything related to the Truman’s Beer brand returning to Brick Lane. The company will then announce a new brand name in September. The new brand will focus on development of its venues – the Newman Arms pub in Fitzrovia, a bar in London City airport and its flagship Social Club venue in Blackhorse Lane. Michael-George Hemus, founder of the company formerly known as Truman’s Beer, said: “We’re excited about the upcoming launch of our new brand and the new opportunity it represents. The offer for the Truman’s Beer name came right at the centre of the pandemic and represented a chance for the company to navigate a way through the crisis, guaranteeing our future and protecting more than 60 jobs. All that will change is the name – the venues, the people and the values that define us as a company are all the same. We will also continue to sell our beer, which will be contract brewed under our new brand. It is great to see the Truman’s Beer name returning to Brick Lane, where it all started.”
 
The Restaurant Group appoints Kirsten Pottinger as new commercial director: The Restaurant Group (TRG) has appointed Kirsten Pottinger, formerly of FatFace and New Look, as its new commercial director for its leisure and concessions divisions, Propel has learned. Pottinger spent ten years at FatFace, including more than three and a half years as its head of global partnerships and wholesale. She will report to Jon Knight, managing director of leisure and concessions at TRG. Last month, TRG reported its leisure division, which includes the Frankie & Benny’s brand, had delivered an encouraging trading performance, achieving like-for-like sales growth of 14% in the 33 weeks from 17 May 2021 to 2 January 2022, outperforming the market by 7%. On its concessions business, the company said: “Like-for-like sales declined by 41%, 18% ahead of the passenger volume decline in the period (for the 33-week period ending 2 January 2022). Sales have benefited from a higher average spend per passenger (due to longer dwell times and the benefit of a reduced VAT rate) and reduced competition as other food and beverage operators manage their reopening profile. We expect the level of outperformance to reduce as competitors reopen more sites and VAT reverts to 20%.”

Popeyes eyes Romford opening: Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, the US fried chicken quick-service restaurant brand, is planning to open a site in Romford, east London. Propel understands the business, which is led by Tom Crowley in the UK, has applied to open on the ex-Superdrug site in the town’s South Street, a couple of doors down from rival US brand Wendy’s. Earlier this month, Popeyes confirmed it will open a site in Chelmsford’s High Street. Popeyes UK, the master franchisee for the UK, launched its debut site in Britain in November at Westfield Stratford, which is already ranked in the top ten globally for sales out of 3,600 Popeyes restaurants. It is aiming to open hundreds of sites across the next decade in the UK. The brand has also launched additional delivery kitchens with Deliveroo Editions in Battersea and Whitechapel. Popeyes has also been linked to further openings in White City, the MetroCentre in Gateshead, and Oxford’s Queen Street.
 
Greggs to open Leicester Square flagship site: Food-to-go operator Greggs is to open a flagship site in London’s Leicester Square. The company shared the news on social media, with a post that read: “Freshly baked goods premiering in London’s Leicester Square soon”, and shared a picture of the work-in-progress shopfront, which is being covered by a giant photo of one of the brand’s bakes in a Greggs wrapper. The company plans to open circa 150 new sites over the next year, taking the total number of Greggs across the UK to just under 2,500. Greggs has upped its presence in London over the past year, with new openings in Canary Wharf, Paddington, St Pancras station, Kings Cross, and The Strand, as it looks to take advantage of more favourable rental levels in the capital. Greggs said the Leicester Square site will offer local delicacies “such as London Cheesecake and Tottenham Cake”, as well as its regular selection of baked goods. A Greggs spokesman said: “The opening of our new flagship shop in Leicester Square will be a huge moment as we continue to expand our presence across prime locations in central London. We’re excited to premiere our delicious food to new customers, including many tourists from outside of the UK who will get the opportunity to experience Greggs for the first time.”

Boxpark teams up with Josh Eggleton on Bristol launch: Boxpark, the Roger Wade-led business, has teamed up with Michelin-starred chef Josh Eggleton to help with the curation of food and drink at its first regional BoxHall site, which is now set to open in Bristol next year. Building work has begun on the new venue, which is situated in the Welsh Back buildings on the city’s harbourside. It will feature seven kitchens with food from local restaurants, street food traders, pop-ups and suppliers. Eggleton, who co-owns the Pony Restaurant Group, which includes the Michelin-starred Pony & Trap gastropub in Chew Magna, will be food and beverage ambassador to the new venue and will advise on the trader selection process. In addition, BoxHall will be the new home to Josh Eggleton’s ‘Team Canteen’ initiative – designed to support underrepresented communities in the city through food. Wade told the BBC: “Bristol has a really strong cultural and alternative centre to it and we love that. We want to embrace the local and independent communities there and make it affordable at a street food price. We'll feature the best of local cuisine and support local talent by investing £100,000 in each one of the kitchens so the operators don't need finance to set up. As long as they produce great food, we'll do all the rest.” 

Park Leisure sold to Sun Communities in £182m deal: Holiday park operator Park Leisure has been sold to US-based real estate investment trust Sun Communities for an enterprise value of £182m by investment and advisory firm, Midlothian Capital Partners (MCP), and a consortium of investors. The deal remains subject to regulatory approvals, as well as the now-confirmed completion of Sun’s acquisition of Park Holidays for £950m, and is expected to close in the second half of this year. Founded in 1998, Park Leisure operates 11 sites all located in coastal areas or areas of outstanding natural beauty across the UK. In the meantime, the group has built a portfolio of owner-led parks with approximately 2,900 pitches. Having acquired Park Leisure in 2017, MCP said it had overseen a period of operational enhancements, as well as “exceptional” growth with Ebitda having more than doubled during its tenure. Park Leisure chief executive Richard Bates said: “As one of the leading holiday operators in the UK, we are excited by the opportunity to grow our holiday park footprint even further, continue to enhance our customer experience and to be able to offer more park landscapes and facilities.” Sun Communities announced the agreed purchase of Park Holidays UK – which owns 42 holiday parks in Britain – in November, with the acquisition representing around 7% of Sun’s properties and 8% of the company’s total pro forma real estate asset value.
 
Wagamama expands cook-at-home range with new mayonnaise products: Wagamama, The Restaurant Group-owned brand, has expanded its cook-at-home range with a collection of new mayonnaise products. The new katsu mayo and firecracker mayo are both now available in Tesco, with both products priced at £2.25. Building on the range of sauces and meal kits it launched last summer, including the katsu curry meal kit, both sauces are vegan and suitable for plant-based diets. Wagamama global executive chef, Steve Mangleshot, said: “We’ve bottled our iconic flavours and spices to create the perfect condiments to add that Wagamama touch to your classic barbecue line-up. Mayo is a fridge staple and carries big flavour brilliantly, which is why we chose it as the vehicle for our bold katsu and firecracker curry flavours.” Wagamama launched its home-cooking range in June 2021, initially in Waitrose before expanding into Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Ocado.

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