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Wed 11th May 2022 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Exclusive – St Austell Brewery makes strong recovery and returns to profit, company ‘in good stead for 2022 and beyond’: Cornwall-based St Austell Brewery, which operates 180 pubs, inns and hotels across the south west, returned to profitability in 2021 as it made a strong recovery from the impact of the pandemic, Propel has learned. Despite all its pubs and hotels being closed for the first four months of the financial year, the business reported an underlying pre-tax profit of £9.4m in the 52-week period to 1 January 2022 (2020 loss of £4.5m). The company’s annual turnover increased by 33% to £156.6m, up from £117.6m in 2020. Total revenue in its pubs, inns and hotels division was £62.6m (2020: £47.1m), with the company’s managed sites up 30% on 2020, and pubs in its tenanted estate up 38%. Its beer and brands division saw revenues up 37% at £93.2m (2020: £68.1m), while overall, the company generated £17.9m of underlying Ebitda (2020: £3.7m) and had an underlying operating profit of £11.3m (2020: loss of £2.9m). The company’s statutory operating profit was £11.7m (2020: loss of £7.9m), and its statutory profit before tax was £10.5m (2020: loss of £10m). Non-executive chairman Will Michelmore said: “Due to lockdown and pubs remaining closed, the financial year started under a cloud of uncertainty. It’s very encouraging to report that once pubs were able to reopen, we managed to enjoy strong trading results. This will stand us in good stead for 2022 and beyond, as we look to build on our solid foundations and release the full potential of the business. While we know there will continue to be significant headwinds, we are confident we have the leadership, team, assets and strategy to ensure our future success.” Chief executive Kevin Georgel added: “We entered 2022 in a much stronger financial position with a clear strategic direction that will enable us to unlock our potential. We have significant headroom in our available funding, which will allow us to invest in growing the business, while pursuing fitting acquisition opportunities. We are continuing to invest in our pub estate, which is well positioned to take advantage of emerging consumer trends. We recognise we will continue to face significant headwinds due to the inflationary pressures affecting all businesses and the ongoing challenges in the labour market, which are particularly acute in our region. Despite all this, we remain confident and optimistic about our long-term growth prospects.” As well as its estate of more than 180 pubs, inns and hotels, the company also operates two breweries, in St Austell and Bath.

Industry News:

Sponsored message – overcoming Hospitality Rising campaign doubts: 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 – but why are some people not backing us? You told us: “This project is too expensive with no direct results. We need to see something more tangible.” We get it. It’s hard to paint a clear picture of a project as large as Hospitality Rising. But know this – we are listening to your concerns and making sure we produce the results you need to see. Yes, investment in our core “Army: Be the Best”-style campaign will be significant – but its impact will be huge. By pushing it out across digital platforms, billboards, television channels and print media, alongside local campaigns around your restaurants, we will milk every drop of value out of that production cost. We are aiming to double the number of potential applicants to hospitality jobs, which will reduce your spend on recruitment fees, and bring you more committed candidates in greater numbers. You’re right to question the spend – this campaign is not a silver bullet, but it’s designed to underpin each of our individual recruitment efforts to improve the pool we’re fishing from. If you’ve got concerns, or want to get involved, email the team via If you have a sponsored story you would like to see featured in this newsletter position, email
Next edition of Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book to feature 583 companies turning over £28.3bn: The next edition of Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book, produced in association with Mapal Group, will feature 583 companies that are turning over a total of £28.3bn. The Blue Book shows the effects of the pandemic, with total losses of £5.9bn being reported by 352 companies. However, a further 231 sector companies are still reporting total profits of £1bn. A total of 31 companies have also updated their accounts since the March edition. The next edition of the Blue Book will be sent to Premium subscribers on Friday (13 April), at midday. 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 also now have access to the UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database, which 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 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 to upgrade your subscription. Subscribers also receive access to Propel’s library of lockdown videos and Friday Wrap interviews and 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.
UKHospitality – plenty in Queen’s Speech to ‘unshackle’ sector and create growth but measures do little to help industry in short term: UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls has said there is plenty in the Queen’s Speech to “unshackle” the sector and create growth but warned the measures will do little to bring immediate relief to help struggling businesses stay afloat. The trade body welcomed legislation that will see pavement licences made permanent. Nicholls said: “Pavement licences also revealed the hospitality industry’s ingenuity and creativity, and significant levels of investment that will now continue to return value. That same innovation must also ensure this opportunity for venues pays due regard to accessibility, so that all customers can benefit.” With regards to proposals to look at the planning system, Nicholls said: “To unlock hospitality’s potential to drive regeneration we need to see reforms that speed up and ease the process. We want to work proactively with local authorities to make sure the planning system is right for businesses and for residents.” High street landlords who allow shops to lie empty for more than a year will be forced to rent them out under government plans to revive town centres, and Nicholls said hospitality “can make a massive contribution to recovery and levelling up”. Nicholls said she was “encouraged” the government was taking action to simplify and update the business rates system “but this needs to be combined with concrete action to reduce the overall burden of rates on hospitality”. She added: “Cutting the rates hospitality businesses pay will play a crucial role in regenerating high streets and levelling up the nation. The government’s consultation on an online sales tax offers an opportunity to do this in a cost-neutral manner.” In terms of the overall content, Nicholls said: “There’s plenty that will unshackle our businesses, to better enable them to create growth. It must be recognised, however, the measures will do little to bring immediate relief to the pains that hospitality businesses are feeling in the short term, so we urge the government to ensure regulatory reliefs come as soon as possible, to help struggling businesses stay afloat.”
Small firms ‘struggle just to break even’: Small businesses are struggling to turn a profit amid rising prices and supply chain disruption, according to research by Bibby Financial Services. The Times reported just under two in five small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) said they were “just about breaking even” with the environment causing “friction and fragility” for business owners. Inflation, Russia’s war in Ukraine and supply chain problems were key concerns for respondents in a poll of 500 companies. More than a quarter highlighted cash flow as a worry. Almost one in five said they needed short term financial support more now than before the pandemic as more companies reported issues with late payment of invoices. More than a quarter of respondents, which Bibby said equated to 1.5 million businesses, said they had suffered from bad debt over the previous 12 months, where sums have been written off owing to customer non-payment. This is higher than when the lender asked the same question last year, when one in five reported bad debt. Bibby said SMEs had written off an average of £10,329 in the last year alone. Despite the issues, businesses reported feeling slightly more confident than they did a year ago, which Derek Ryan, UK managing director of the lender, said demonstrated “stoic resilience”. However, he added “many are still struggling to keep their heads above water and [are] operating on a day-to-day basis, rather than looking ahead to growth”. 
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a food retail brand in London that is looking for a talent manager. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “The talent manager will manage and develop a team of two current recruiters responsible for end-to-end. This will include researching and building recruitment pipelines for skills and roles for now and the future. The talent manager will source, assess, interview, and manage the offer process but also managing critical positions while coaching/managing a team.” The salary is up to £60,000. For more information, email

Company News:

US coffee chain Blank Street hires Ignacio Llado as MD to oversee UK expansion plans: Blank Street Coffee, the fast-growing, New York-based chain, has hired Ignacio Llado, formerly of the Singapore-based Flash Coffee, as managing director to oversee its UK expansion, Propel has learned. Llado was previously managing director of “tech-enabled coffee chain” Flash Coffee, overseeing its growth from launch to its expansion to circa 250 stores across seven markets in less than two years. Blank Street will launch in the UK next month and earlier this year, said it plans to make London its “second-biggest city”. The first UK location for the business is set for Fitzrovia, near University College London. The company plans to open additional locations in quick succession in the area while expanding into the Marylebone neighbourhood. The chain was started in Williamsburg in summer 2020 by Vinay Menda and Issam Freiha, and now has 29 sites around New York. The brand plans to have 100 locations in the US city by the end of this year. It also plans to open two-dozen shops in the UK this year. Last year, the company raised $60m, including $25m in Series A Funding from General Catalyst Partners and Tiger Global Management, to fuel its expansion plans. Key to the Blank Street formula is to undersell its competitors. A Blank Street latte sells for $3.50; at Starbucks, a grande latte costs $4.95; at Dunkin’ Donuts, a medium latte goes for $4.29.
Costa broadens into events with new partnership: Costa Coffee has launched a new events partnership with Freemans Event Partners, which saw it offer its signature range at last weekend’s British Masters golf at The Belfrey. The partnership will now expand into various other sporting events, including the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth and multiple rugby union fixtures at Twickenham. The collaboration is one of the first to bring a major high street coffee chain into an events setting, according to Stephen Freeman, chief executive of Freemans Event Partners. “Coffee has always been a consistently high seller in our concessions, and Costa Coffee is the most recognisable coffee brand in the UK,” he said. “Taking the lead in delivering an innovative high street coffee shop experience into the event channel is an exciting prospect. From now until December, we will be working with Costa Coffee across a number of events.” Marian Fagbemiro, Costa Coffee corporate partnerships director, added: “We’re excited to be working with Freemans Event Partners to bring our new Costa Coffee mobile outlet to some amazing live events this year. The new ‘store’ provides coffee fans with all their favourite Costa products, including our new summer menu and Costa Coffee Now Serving M&S Food range. No matter the location, customers will be able to enjoy their Costa food and drink in the heart of any live event.” Costa launched its food range partnership with M&S in March, available across more than 2,500 UK Costa Coffee stores and via click-and-collect.
Zia Lucia – we planned to become a destination and not play the high-footfall game unlike many of our peers: Claudio Vescovo and Gianluca D’Angelo, owners of the London-based pizzeria concept Zia Lucia, have told Propel that from day one “we planned to become a destination and not play the high-footfall game unlike many of our peers”. It comes as the business, which recently opened its seventh site in London, in Stoke Newington, gears up to open a site in South Quay this summer, and looks ahead to expanding into more residential areas in the capital and major UK cities. Vescovo and D’Angelo, who opened the first Zia Lucia in Holloway Road, Islington, in 2016, said: “We remain very careful to execute our growth plan. We do not want to rush things. We want to remain obsessed with the quality of our products and deliver a superior customer experience. We will never compromise on these two pillars. There are lots of residential areas we like and continue to visit regularly to identify the best spots. From day one, we planned to become a destination and not play the high-footfall game unlike many of our peers. We have many areas identified and are in active discussions with various landlords. Similarly, we think the Zia Lucia brand and its format would work perfectly in other UK cities as fundamentally we offer something that nobody has. More news to come on this side too.” The founders said they had been approached in regards to external funding, but at present the company’s “cash position is strong”. The business also operates pasta concept Berto in Islington and hasn’t ruled out opening further sites under the format. The founders said: “Berto had an incredibly strong start but only after five months covid hit and that has affected the growth of the concept, which has continued to perform well. We think there is a huge opportunity for further growth in the fresh made pasta market and we are currently assessing Berto growth strategy for the next 24 months.” The company is also planning to develop its beer brand Birra Cabriole further to create a “unique experience that will give our customers an additional reason to choose us”. 

Zanna Hospitality Group to open four venues in new Liverpool department store: North west-based Zanna Hospitality Group is to open four concepts at the new Flannels department store in Liverpool. On the ground floor, Bacino will offer modern Italian cuisine with the all-day menu including pizza and pasta alongside aperitivo cocktails, coffee and desserts. On the sixth floor, three additional venues will open this autumn featuring a rooftop brasserie, bar and pan-Asian restaurant. With their own entrance to the Owen building, the sixth-floor venues will open outside of store hours. The pan-Asian restaurant will take inspiration from some of the globes’ most famous venues with an open kitchen allowing guests to watch the chefs at work. The rooftop bar will offer cocktails alongside a curated wine and beer list, with DJs every weekend and special events planned throughout the year. The brasserie will serve brunch, small plates and classic mains, alongside cocktails, coffee and wine. Zanna Hospitality Group is behind five venues in Manchester and Les Deux Pizza Bar in Alderley Edge as well as some of Flannel’s most recent dining venues – Sienna Kitchen and Bar in Sheffield and Cafe Clo in Leicester. Sax Arshad, managing director of Zanna, said: “We’ve been looking to open in Liverpool for a while now, it’s such a vibrant city with an exciting food and drink scene that we’ve always wanted to be part of. This space has given us the opportunity to bring not just one but four new concepts to the city. Each of our spaces will offer something slightly different.”
Wing Shack secures Soho site: Wings-based concept Wing Shack has secured a flagship site in London’s Soho. Propel understands Wing Shack, which was founded by Joshua Jarvis and business partner Nurudeen Shiro in 2018, is set to open on the former Melati restaurant site in Great Windmill Street, later this summer. Wing Shack recently launched its third site and biggest yet, when it opened a 90-cover site on the restaurant terrace at The Glades Shopping Centre in Bromley. This added to its restaurants in Holloway in north London and Loughton in Essex, which have operated alongside several pop-ups in sites such as Selfridges and Soho House. Further Wing Shack restaurants are due to open in Brixton Village and Manchester, with a St Albans site also in the pipeline. Taylor Gershon, of CBA Leisure, acted for Wing Shack on the Soho deal, while Louie Gazdar, of DCL, acted for the landlord. 
Wells & Co promotes Shirley Couchman to chief operating officer: Bedford-based brewer and retailer Wells & Co has promoted Shirley Couchman to chief operating officer. Couchman, who was previously retail director, joined the business in July 2020. Previously, she was at UK-based transport hub foodservice specialist SSP Group for more than three years and prior to that was with brewer and retailer Greene King for almost 14 years. In February, Wells & Co said its pipeline of sites “remains strong” as the business gears up for an “exciting period of growth”. The company reported turnover for the year ending 3 October 2021 fell by £8m to £30.5m, with its UK pubs shut for 19 weeks of the period, and for 30 weeks in France. The company added its managed business was entering the new financial year in a robust position, with the 42-strong estate set to move to 50 sites by the end of 2022.
Loungers to open Lounge site in landmark Plymouth property: Loungers, the cafe bar operator, is to open its third site in Plymouth, after securing part of a landmark, historic grade II-listed building on the Devon city’s seafront. The Nick Collins-led business is set to open Pescado Lounge in the property in the city’s The Barbican, in what was formerly the old fish market, which has views over Sutton Harbour. This week the company, which also operates the 31-strong Cosy Club brand, will open its latest Lounge site, its 165th, when it launches the Morello Lounge in Uxbridge, west London. It also has Lounge openings lined up in Newport (Isle of Wight), Egham, Wembley and Fleet. Propel revealed in March that Loungers had lined up three new openings for its Cosy Club brand. The business is understood to have applied to open a Cosy Club on the ex-Jamie’s Italian site in Silbury Arcade, Milton Keynes, which closed in 2018. Loungers is also believed to be in advanced talks to take on the ex-Cross & Hamblin retail unit in the centre of Canterbury. Finally, Propel understands Loungers has also applied to Harrogate Borough Council for a premises licence at 37 Cambridge Street in the town. The group has already secured an opening for Cosy Club in Chester later this year. Last month, Loungers announced record sales for the 52 weeks ending 17 April 2022.
Chopstix appoints Aaron Moore-Saxton as first franchise director: Fast-growing quick service restaurant brand Chopstix has appointed Aaron Moore-Saxton, formerly of Itsu, as the company’s first franchise director, to support its continued growth plans. Moore-Saxton brings a wealth of franchise, development and operational experience, and joins from Itsu, where he was director of partnerships, creating and leading the brand’s franchise global growth development strategy. From 2015 to 2020, he was managing director at Aspirational Pub Company. Before that, he served in a number of senior operations roles at Pizza Hut UK & Ireland over nine years, becoming chief operating officer in 2014, where he led the team managing 44 company-owned stores, as well as overseeing franchise leadership in 298 Delivery stores and 318 Restaurants. At Chopstix, he will be responsible for the continued growth of the brand’s franchise operation, which currently amounts to 22 franchise stores, run by partners including the likes of Welcome Break and Applegreen. The company said Moore-Saxton will collaborate with existing partners to support and develop their operations, as well as working with new partners to help accelerate the brand’s longer-term growth. Jon Lake, managing director of Chopstix, which currently operates more than 75 sites, said: “It’s a real coup to be able to bring in somebody with Aaron’s experience, network and skillset. Franchising is central to our long-term growth plans, and Aaron is the perfect man to drive our strategy forward.” Chopstix, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, is on track to open at least 12 sites before the end of 2022 through a mix of directly owned and operated stores, and its established franchise operation.
Orée Boulangeries continues London expansion with Muswell Hill opening: French artisan patisserie concept Orée Boulangeries has continued its expansion across London, with an opening in Muswell Hill. The nine-strong business, which launched its first UK site in 2016 in Fulham Road, has taken on the former Barnardo's unit at 121 Muswell Hill Road. It follows an opening in St John’s Wood High Street at the end of 2021. Founded by Laurent d’Orey, Orée is known for its artisan recipes, including 12 different varieties of bread such as rye, sourdough, buckwheat, Nordic and Japanese, as well as a seasonal “bread of the month”. It currently operates sites in locations including Richmond, Battersea and Covent Garden.
Boparan Restaurant Group appoints new HR director, confirms Liverpool opening for Slim Chickens: Boparan Restaurant Group (BRG) – the owner and operator of brands including Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Giraffe, Ed’s Easy Diner, Rebel Vegan and Slim Chickens – has appointed Martin Owen as its new HR director. He joins the group, which has more than 100 sites across the UK, after 21 years in retail with Next. He said: “I’m delighted to be a part of BRG. It’s an exciting time to join, particularly as every employee within the group plays an increasingly important role in helping drive continued growth and innovation within the business in challenging market conditions. I hope my experience and knowledge can build on the great work that has already been done as we continue to develop our brands as great places to work.” Satnam Leihal, BRG chief executive, added: “I’m pleased to be welcoming Martin, who comes with great pedigree. At BRG, we have bold ambitious plans that can only be executed by having a great people plan.” Last month, Propel revealed that BRG is planning a city debut in Liverpool for its Slim Chickens brand, which it has now confirmed will open in Liverpool ONE later this year. The 5,000 square-foot flagship store will be based on The Terrace, with covers for 175 diners, including an alfresco dining area. Paul Gilligan, BRG property director, said: “At Slim Chickens, we are all about bringing fresh, handmade food as well as a dose of Southern Hospitality to social, community-driven locations, which is exactly what Liverpool ONE represents for us. We are experiencing great success with the brand in the UK and are very much looking forward to launching our next Slim Chickens flagship site at Liverpool ONE later this year, following longstanding interest in the destination.” A second Slim Chicken site in Brighton is also set to open on Thursday, 12 May, at 12-13 North Street. Metis and Starka advised Liverpool ONE on the deal.
KFC and Quorn to launch meat-free range across Europe: KFC and meat alternative brand Quorn are to roll out meat-free, fast-food products into the quick-service restaurant brand’s sites across “multiple” European countries this year. Building on the launch of the KFC Vegan Burger in the UK, Quorn said it is working with KFC to develop a range of meat-free menu options, including veggie wraps and big buckets, which will initially launch in Germany and then roll out into several thousand KFC restaurants around Europe. The KFC Original Recipe Vegan Burger made with Quorn was a huge success in the UK and Ireland where stocks were sold out within four days in the initial 2019 trial, with the item returning as a permanent addition this January due to popular demand. Kate Wall, strategy and innovation director at KFC, said: “Our fans were thrilled to see the launch of our Vegan Burger in 2020. The Original Recipe Vegan Burger proved to be such a success in the UK and Ireland that we have already tested Quorn-based products in several other countries, and plan to extend into multiple European markets in the coming months.” 
Gail’s appoints Sarah Maclot as group learning and development director: Sarah Maclot, formerly of Costa Coffee and Wagamama, has been appointed group learning and development director of Breads Holdings, the parent company of the fast-growing Gail’s Bakery. Maclot joins the business after just under a year and a half at Costa, where she was head of global development and learning. She previously spent more than seven years at Wagamama, including a stint as its director of culture and people development. Over the past few months, the circa 80-strong Gail’s has opened new sites in Harpenden, Woking, Marlow and Henley. It also has openings lined up in Brentwood and London’s Barons Court. Last summer, Bain Capital Credit acquired a stake in Bread Holdings, in a deal that valued the company at more than £200m.
Gusto Italian launches new degree-level apprenticeship scheme: Gusto Italian, the premium casual dining restaurant group, has launched a new apprenticeship scheme, which it said will enable team members to achieve a degree-level qualification. Through a partnership with Dove Nest, 13 of the group’s junior managers have been selected for the first cohort. Over the next 18 months, they will study for a Level 5 Apprenticeship in operational management, alongside their roles within the business, earning a qualification from the Institute of Leadership & Management. Junior managers from a number of different roles have been given the opportunity to study for the qualification and each apprentice will follow a programme that has been tailored specifically to support them in their desired development path. Anne Marie Sarantis, head of people at Gusto Italian, said: “The Gusto people team has been looking for ways to help narrow the skills gap between junior managers and senior managers. We’re delighted to have created this bespoke programme with Dove Nest, providing different experiences for each apprentice. We are also giving our team the time protected on the rota for them to complete their work. Our Gusto family and their development is really important to us and we’re excited to support everybody’s journey over the next year and a half.” As part of the new training programme, apprentices will take on new responsibilities in the business and attend workshops run by Dove Nest and Gusto Italian, as well as shadow the support team on projects to support learnings. They will also be given assignments, and receive one-to-one professional coaching, with all work going towards the portfolio they will complete to gain the final qualifications. Last month, the 13-strong, Matt Snell-led company announced a new partnership with PayCaptain, which it said further strengthened its employee proposition and pushed financial awareness and well-being up the agenda for its people.
Flamingo Land set to complete two delayed major capital projects in 2022, repays £5m CBILS and refinances pension fund loan: The company behind Yorkshire theme park Flamingo Land is set to complete two delayed major capital projects – a hotel and restaurant and the 10-Inversion Roller Coaster – this year. Flamingo Land Resort said due to the pandemic, both projects were put on hold “until such time as cash flow allowed works to resume”. Works did resume over the winter, and both projects should be “completed and opened during the 2022 season,” the company said in its accounts for the year ending 31 March 2021. The delays did, however, reduce upkeep and repair costs by £2.6m, while the periods of closure reduced wages and salaries by £3.8m, and £1m was saved on advertising costs. Business rates were also reduced by £507,000, while £1.9m was received in furlough payments, £23,000 in local authority grants and £250,000 in business interruption insurance. The company also took out £5m through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, of which £1.5m was paid back during the period. The remaining balance has been repaid since. Noting that covid hit just as the resort was preparing to open for the 2020 season, the company reported turnover fell from £29.6m to £15.2m during the period, but pre-tax profits rose from £1.3m to £4m. During the previous year, a £3.4m loan was secured from the family pension fund to help finance the new roller coaster, with a view to full repayment by September 2024. A loan payment holiday was granted to cover the pandemic period, with payments recommencing in April 2021 and then refinanced in February 2022, with the new balance of £3.2m repayable over five years. The company said: “Having regard for the huge amount of uncertainty at the start of the accounting period, the directors are very pleased with the results for the year, which enable them to look forward to the future with renewed confidence after such a period of uncertainty.”
South London-based operators set to open third site: Julian Porter and Lauren Johns, who operate Tooting-based brunch spot Juliets Quality Food and Milk Cafe in Balham, are set to open a third site this summer. Juliets Cafe & Bar will take over the cafe space at Clapham’s Studio Voltaire, which last year hosted a residency by the Italian Supper Club, in Nelsons Row. Porter and Johns launched Milk Cafe together in 2012, then opened Milk Teeth at 110 Mitcham Road in 2017, which went on to become Juliets Quality Food. Former drama student Johns, who had a minor part in the 2014 hit film Pride, has also worked on renovating the basement bar at The Old Vic, which was transformed into the Penny Bar & Cafe. Introducing their new concept on Instagram, the pair said: “It will be exactly the sort of neighbourhood cafe we love, serving simple, thoughtful food that is led by the seasons, with the best coffee and honest, real wine.”
Just Eat expands grocery offering as it extends Central England Co-op partnership: Just Eat has extended its partnership with Central England Co-op in order to meet demand. The deal initially began with ten of the retailer’s food stores in February, but the decision has been made to extend to more sites following the success of the first phase. Stores in the new roll-out include Dibdale Road West in Dudley, Birmingham Road in Sutton Coldfield and Stoney Lane in Yardley. Claire Koziol, head of stores at Central England Co-op, said: “We’re excited to be extending our partnership with Just Eat to give our customers and members in even more locations an easy way to get their groceries delivered to their door in quick time. This partnership gives us the opportunity to not only provide another option for our communities, but also work with a recognised and respected brand in home delivery.” Andrew Kenny, managing director UK at Just Eat, added: “With more than 60,000 restaurant and grocery partners on the Just Eat platform and an extensive delivery reach across 97% of all UK postcodes, this partnership with Central England Co-op marks the next stage in Just Eat’s commitment to delivering the best service and range of options for our customers.”
Jurys Inn and Leonardo Hotels set to launch rooftop bar at London venue: Jurys Inn and Leonardo Hotels UK is set to launch a new rooftop bar at the NYX Hotel London Holborn. Called Glasshouse on the Roof, the bar, which opens in June, will be based ten storeys up and 125 feet high – offering panoramic views across the capital. With covers for 100 standing and 46 seated, it will offer specially crafted cocktails from 4pm, Wednesday to Sunday. NYX Hotel London Holborn has 213 luxury bedrooms and suites with free Wi-Fi, air conditioning, 49-inch flat screen TVs, en-suite bathrooms and Nespresso machines, with a spa and pool available for guests. It is owned and operated by Jurys Inn and Leonardo Hotels UK & Ireland hotel group, which operates 35 hotels under the Jurys Inn brand, one under the NYX brand and 15 hotels under the Leonardo brand – 47 in the UK and four in Ireland. Last month, the group revealed it would rebrand its Jurys inn hotels to its Leonardo brand.
Gleneagles to open first venture outside Perthshire with Edinburgh launch next month: Gleneagles will open the first venture outside of Perthshire in the hotel's almost 100-year history next month. Gleneagles Townhouse, a 33-bedroom hotel, members’ club and all-day restaurant, based at 39 St Andrew Square in Edinburgh, will launch on Monday, 6 June. The Townhouse and its all-day restaurant, The Spence, will open exclusively to members and hotel guests for the opening period before the wider public is invited to experience the venue in early summer. Marking a new chapter in the listed building’s history, the Townhouse was originally home to the British Linen Company before later becoming the Bank of Scotland. The kitchen at The Spence will be led by head chef Jonny Wright, who returns to his native Scotland with more than 16 years’ experience. Signature dishes, which Wright describes as “rooted in classics with a modern twist” will include wild mushroom tart with goats curd and hazelnuts; and whole roasted turbot with fennel and chilli. Within The Spence, a central bar will offer cocktails, whisky, beer, spirits, and wine. Down in the bank’s former vault, there will be a dedicated training, treatments and therapies space – The Strong Rooms – that will open later in June. The roof terrace bar, Lamplighters, will be open exclusively to members.

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