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Wed 20th Apr 2022 - UKHospitality – beefed up powers for CMA should help stamp out fake reviews
UKHospitality – beefed up powers for CMA should help stamp out fake reviews: The government is to give the Competition and Markets Authority enhanced powers – these include, for the CMA’s Digital Markets Unit, creating enforceable codes of conduct for the biggest tech firms. The rules will include making it “clearly illegal” to pay someone to write a fake review. These will be tackled by consultation on a new law against commissioning someone to write or submit a fake review, hosting consumer reviews without taking reasonable steps to check they are genuine and offering or advertising to submit, commission or facilitate fake reviews. Andrea Coscelli, chief executive of the CMA, said: “This is a significant milestone on the road to helping the CMA make markets work better for consumers and businesses. These changes will enable us to take swifter, stronger action against companies which break the law and to tackle tech giants whose market power is a threat, using DMU powers. The CMA will be able to respond more quickly and effectively to the many concerns raised with us about poor outcomes for consumers and small businesses in a number of UK markets.” UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “We welcome these moves, which will help create a more level playing field for both businesses and consumers. In particular, we recognise that enhanced powers for the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) will help stamp out the practice of fake reviews, which do irreparable damage to businesses. We therefore believe it is imperative that online review platforms be required to act and remove malicious and false reviews where appropriate. As ever, the devil will be in the detail and so we will be actively engaging in the consultation process in order that consumers are safeguarded without placing any further unnecessary burdens on businesses. We need also be satisfied that the new CMA powers will not unfairly punish businesses and, as 70% of hospitality businesses are SMEs, that a clear right of appeal is put in place that is accessible to operators big and small. Fairness for both businesses and consumers, particularly when it comes to offering refunds, will be crucial and any new measures must also be made in the context of a sector facing an onslaught of challenges after a difficult two years. Soaring costs, chronic staff shortages and plunging consumer confidence continue to affect the sector, which needs ongoing support if it is to play its full role in the UK’s recovery.”

Mark Wingett’s latest Ones to Watch to appear in next edition of Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book: The next edition of Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book will feature group editor Mark Wingett’s latest pick of the companies well-placed to grow in the post-pandemic era. His picks are: Big Mamma Holdings, Ole & Steen, Wahaca, Parogon, Rekom UK, Itsu, Soho House and New World Trading Company. 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. 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 last 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 Mark Wingett.

Nightcap lines up second Bristol opening: Nightcap, the owner of The Cocktail Club, the Adventure Bar Group and the Barrio Familia group of bars, has announced a further planned opening in Bristol for the Adventure Bar Group – under its Blame Gloria brand. The latest Blame Gloria opening will be located at 22 Small Street, Bristol, BS1 1DW and covers an area of approximately 8,000 square feet. The site has a 2:00 am license and an unrestricted capacity of 350. The venue will open later this year. This will be the first new opening for the Blame Gloria brand outside of London, where it operates successfully in both Covent Garden and Clapham, and is the second new site opening for Adventure Bar Group in the last week following the announcement of the opening of a Tonight Josephine in Hanover Street, Liverpool. Nightcap now has three sites across two of its brands in Bristol and it takes the total number of sites within its estate to 33, with an additional 23 premises under offer or in legal negotiations across the UK for all of Nightcap’s brands. Chief executive Sarah Willingham said: “After another successful site opening of The Cocktail Club in Corn Street back in November of last year, we are excited to start trading a new Blame Gloria in an equally amazing site with underground arches which works so well for the flower themed branding. This is our first Blame Gloria outside of London as we seek to share a brand Londoners have enjoyed in Covent Garden for years with its well-known brunches and late night partying. Since adding the Adventure Bar Group to the Nightcap group back in May 2021, the business has performed very well and we are now starting to see the significant efforts invested in readying their brands for nationwide roll-out, as we announce the second, of several new sites, in just the last week.”

Just Eat maintains pandemic order levels in First Quarter of 2022: Just Eat Takeaway.com has maintained the high level of orders that were processed during the covid-19 restrictions in the first quarter of last year. In the first quarter of 2022, Just Eat Takeaway.com processed 264 million orders, roughly flat compared with the same period in 2021. Gross Transaction Value amounted to €7.2 billion in the first quarter of 2022, up 4% compared with the same period of 2021, driven by a higher Average Transaction Value. The company stated: “During the pandemic, the company benefitted from a rapidly increasing consumer base in a short period of time , adding more than 20 million active consumers since April 2020. As a result, the company temporarily experiences a corresponding higher-than-normal absolute churn level in the first half of 2022, despite a lower relative churn level of this new consumer group versus pre-pandemic cohorts. While growth in the second quarter of 2022 will remain challenging, key growth drivers, such as Average Monthly Order Frequency and Returning Consumers are expected to remain above pre-pandemic and even above pandemic levels. The company’s new, long-term global strategic partnership with McDonald’s is expected to drive operational and efficiency improvements, as well as additional marketing exposure.” Jitse Groen, chief executive of Just Eat Takeaway.com: “After two years of exceptional growth, we maintain the same high level of orders that were processed during the covid-19 restrictions. Our priority for 2022 lies in enhancing profitability and strengthening our business. We expect profitability to gradually improve throughout the year, and to return to positive adjusted Ebitda in 2023.”

JD Wetherspoon calls time on Belfast ‘super pub’ plan as it puts property on market: JD Wetherspoon has called time on its eight-year-long battle to open a ‘super pub’ in Belfast city centre. The company bought the four-storey former JJB Sports premises in Royal Avenue, next door to CastleCourt shopping centre, in 2014 and has secured permission to turn it into a pub. At the time it said it hoped to cash in on the influx of 15,000 students when the new Ulster University campus opened, originally in 2017, but delayed until later this year. But Wetherspoon has now asked Lambert Smith Hampton to sell the property and another building in Belfast, the former Methodist Church in University Road in the south of the city, which Wetherspoon also acquired eight years ago. The two properties are being sold with the benefit of vacant possession, with both being marketed for their “excellent redevelopment potential”. The Royal Avenue building, with a total floor space of 12,306 square foot and an extensive outside area, has an asking price of £850,000. Meanwhile, the 9,260 square foot church is on the market for offers of £750,000 or above. The most recent planning approval was granted in 2017 for change of use from a place of worship to a pub, reports the Irish News.

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