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Wed 15th Jun 2022 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Inglenook Inns & Taverns acquires nine-strong freehold package, adds more than 40 pubs in a year: North-west based pub operator Inglenook Inns & Taverns has taken its estate past the 50-mark with the acquisition of nine freehold pubs from the Bolton-based operator Tonge Leisure for an undisclosed sum. The acquisition of the nine sites in the Bolton and Wigan area brings the total number of freehold properties owned and operated by Inglenook to 55, which represents considerable growth from when the company started from just 12 a year ago. Inglenook said it was committed to “high-quality, well invested pubs run by publicans who are passionate about their products and proud of their customer service”. Propel revealed in December last year that Inglenook had secured £10m of investment through a new joint venture with a private investor to continue to expand its portfolio. The company, which was founded by Waddington in 2012, is understood to be seeking to aggregate a portfolio of 100-plus “community pubs” over the next two years. At the end of last year, it acquired a seven-strong package of pubs for £2.4m. On the acquisition of the Tonge Leisure sites, Waddington said: “Our business is based on family values – hard work, integrity, flexibility and fun, with an eye to the future. This deal unites like-minded people and pubs, allowing an already successful business to continue to thrive and grow. We look forward to working with our new publicans, helping them both to grow their businesses and continue their success in pubs which are pivotal to the heart of the community, a place to enjoy a good pint and good company.” Derek Tonge, director at Tonge Leisure, added: “It was great to work with James and his team at Inglenook and to see the pubs pass on to new owners who are committed to looking after the pubs and the people who operate them.” Matthew Phillips Surveyors acted for Tonge Leisure. 
 

Industry News:

Oglivy UK backs Hospitality Rising, invest today: Rory Sutherland, vice-chairman of branding agency Oglivy UK, is backing Hospitality Rising, but will you? 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. Sutherland said: “Any time prospective candidates have spent working in the hospitality industry is of huge value to the wider service sector, since it provides in abundance the social, practical and diplomatic skills that conventional education does little to provide. I am not entirely sure my daughter did not learn more each day about real life from working in a restaurant (for which she was paid) than she now garners at university (for which she pays). One of the most heinous beliefs pervading modern business is the assumption that time spent specifically in education is uniquely valuable in terms of skills provision and character formation. It really doesn’t work like that.” 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.

Only a quarter of companies in next edition of Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book have profit margin of more than 5%: Only a quarter of the 589 companies in the next edition of the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book have a profit margin of more than 5%. Premium subscribers will receive the latest edition of the Blue Book, which is produced in association with Mapal Group, on Friday, (17 June) at midday. The Blue Book shows the effects of the pandemic, with total losses of £5.8bn being reported by 348 companies. However, a further 241 sector companies are still reporting total profits of £1.1bn. The 589 UK pub, restaurant, cafe and hotel operators featured have a total turnover of £28.6bn. In the next edition, 31 companies have also reported updated accounts. 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. 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 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.

Two Magpies co-founder Steve Magnall to speak at Propel Multi-Club Conference and summer party, two free places each for operators: Steve Magnall, co-founder of Two Magpies Bakery, will be among the speakers at the Propel Multi-Club Conference and summer party, which takes place on Wednesday, 31 August, at the DoubleTree by Hilton Oxford Belfry, and is open for bookings. The all-day conference will focus on “prospering in a post-pandemic world” and will be followed in the evening by the summer party, with a barbecue, live band and more. Magnall will talk about developing and growing the cafe and bakery concept and what comes next for the business dubbed “the Gail’s Bakery of East Anglia”. Operators can claim up to two free places each by emailing jo.charity@propelinfo.com. A room can also be booked for the evening for £120.

Hospitality staff shortages at record high despite sector creating almost one in three of all new UK jobs: Hospitality staff shortages are at a record high, despite the sector creating almost one in three of all new UK jobs in the last year. Figures released by the Office for National Statistics showed the hospitality industry is experiencing 83% more vacancies across the sector compared with March-May 2019 (the most recent comparable period). Meanwhile, the sector has created almost 300,000 new jobs over the last 12 months. According to the figures, hospitality currently has 174,000 jobs available, a record high, in a climate where those that are economically inactive and wanting a job has fallen by about 130,000 over the same period. The figures highlight how, despite an improving post-pandemic performance, sector recovery is being thwarted by a shortage of staff, UKHospitality said. Chief executive Kate Nicholls added: “These figures show that the hospitality industry continues to return to growth and is attracting new people into the workforce. However, high vacancy rates are impeding our ability to trade. This is particularly concerning as we enter the summer, a key trading period for much of the sector. Last month, UKHospitality launched its Workforce Strategy in order to tackle this, and we have set out a coherent plan to solve some of the issues, including working with colleges and universities to attract students into work this summer and demonstrating how flexible working will provide opportunities for carers – but we need government support. The points-based system needs to be tweaked to make it easier for seasonal and lower skilled workers to enter the workforce, and the apprenticeship levy should be freed-up to help us attract the workforce we need to recover and grow.”

HGEM – nine in ten consumers already impacted by cost-of-living crisis: Nine in ten (87%) consumers are already affected by the cost-of-living crisis, according to a survey by guest management platform HGEM. The research showed 91% of both Generation Z (18 to 25-year-olds) and those 66-plus felt the impact of the crisis, while the least affected (78%) were in the 56-65 age group. When asked on what they would cut back on first, the top answer was delivery and takeaway, followed by holidays abroad and then eating and drinking out. Furthermore, the results of the study also showed if budgets contracted, almost three quarters (72%) would reduce visit frequency to their favourite hospitality venues rather than find a cheaper alternative. HGEM said this showed a strong signal that brand loyalty will remain robust throughout the crisis. However, Generation Z stood out as the age group that could most likely be swayed by cost.

Just Eat founder appointed as cost-of-living business tsar: David Buttress, the founder and former chief executive of Just Eat, has been appointed as a cost-of-living business tsar to help support people with rising bills. He will work in partnership with the private sector to identify, develop and promise new and existing business-led initiatives that support people with the soaring costs of living, the government said. This will include building on price locking campaign schemes, product offers and the expansion of business-run programmes. Buttress was awarded the role by the chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Steve Barclay, on a voluntary basis and will continue in the position until the end of the year. Barclay said: “Businesses and organisations across the country have stepped up time and time again when the nation needs it most. The financial pressures people are facing as a result of current global challenges will be no different. I am delighted to have David Buttress on board, bringing with him a wealth of experience, along with the vigour and ingenuity of business, to go even further in efforts to support British families throughout this difficult time.” Buttress, who is currently chairman of Dragons Rugby club in Newport and a venture partner at 83North Venture Capital, added: “The rising cost of living that we are all facing, both in the UK and globally, provides business and industry with a unique challenge and opportunity to do our bit.”

Ending of covid restriction sees 40% more pints sold in Q1 2022 compared to 2021, down 4% on 2019: Almost 450 million more pints were sold in the first quarter of 2022 compared to 2021 thanks to the ending of covid restrictions in pubs, new data from the British Beer & Pub Association (BPPA) shows. Some 1,565,300,000 pints of beer were sold in the UK from January to March 2022, a 40% increase on the year before thanks to the ending of all restrictions in pubs on 19 July 2021, but still down 4% on 2019 trading, the last year before the pandemic. The data comes as Brits are encouraged to raise a glass to celebrate the annual Beer Day Britain (Wednesday 15 June). BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin said: “It is brilliant to see that sales of beer are on the up again after a tough two years for pubs and brewers. This data clearly shows that a beer at the local is something many of us missed during the pandemic. However, even as sales start to rise again, our industry is facing enormous pressures with costs rising, supply chain issues and a staffing crisis. So, this Beer Day Britain, we hope people will take a trip to their local pub and raise a toast to the nation’s favourite drink.”

Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a growing international business which is looking for a hotel manager for a five-star property in London. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “You will be responsible for managing the team and overall hotel targets to deliver an excellent guest experience. You also will be required to manage profitability and guest satisfaction measures, be responsible for managing the profitability of the hotel, ensuring revenue and guest satisfaction targets are met and exceeded, and providing effective leadership to hotel team members.” The salary is up to £110,000. For more information, email lara@corecruitment.com.

Licensing update: Licensing solicitor John Gaunt & Partners has published its latest licensing update, providing a useful monthly summary of licensing news, which can be accessed here.
 

Company News:

Thwaites – Q1 has seen encouraging trading, but our continuing recovery has been disjointed and halting: North west brewer and retailer Daniel Thwaites has said the early part of its current financial year “has seen encouraging trading, but our continuing recovery has been disjointed and halting, with a series of strong weeks then inexplicable lapses”. The company said turnover for the year ended 31 March 2022 increased by 198% to £96m (2021: £32.2m). An operating profit of £13.3m was made compared to an operating loss of £9.4m in the prior year, while pre-tax profit was £12.7m (2021: loss of £12.4m). Net debt decreased to £61.6m (2021: £78.8m), while at the year end, the company had banking facilities of £83m. During the year, it acquired The Red Lion at Burnsall to join its Inns division. The company said: “In addition, we have acquired a number of staff houses to assist us in recruiting team members in some of our more rural locations, and we believe this gives us an advantage in these local markets, particularly in Cumbria and the Yorkshire Dales.” The company sold 15 bottom end pubs and its old brewery site in Blackburn, with total proceeds of £7.5m. Chairman Rick Bailey said: “The business has re-established its profitability, albeit with some government support, and saving a disaster, it really does feel like we have been able to move on from the past two years of closure and disruption. The issues now facing the business are different, but no less immediate. Managing high levels of inflation requires us to be nimble in our offering while not diluting it, and be agile in responding to price rises, passing them on wherever possible without overly subduing demand. Our approach in the coming year will therefore not be radically different.” With government interventions behind it, Bailey said the company can now position itself to reinvest in the properties and the business, “to regain our growth and momentum for next year and beyond”. He said: “We are, therefore, in the advanced stages of developing a number of investment schemes that will help to grow our profits, and these will be started once we have a few months clear trading under our belts. The cost-of-living squeeze will no doubt have an impact on the business. We will consider acquisitions on a case-by-case basis, but our focus for the moment must be on the core business. We are likely to have a challenging year or two that will need all our attention. The early part of the year has seen encouraging trading, but our continuing recovery has been disjointed and halting, with a series of strong weeks then inexplicable lapses. The overall trend is, however, positive, and we are forecasting to grow our sales year on year, despite the loss of government support. In the medium to longer term, while we may see some short term challenges, the business is invested in long term sustainable markets. The pub will continue to play its critical role.”
 
Rob Pitcher – Revolution Bars Group aiming to open four or five sites annually, industry facing another tough winter: Rob Pitcher, chief executive of Revolution Bars Group, which operates 67 bars trading mainly under the Revolution and Revolución de Cuba brands, has told Propel the business is aiming to open an average of four or five new sites annually. Speaking following the company’s trading update, where the group revealed it plans six openings in FY23, Pitcher said it was in negotiations on four sites – three for Revolution and one for Revolución de Cuba. Pitcher added trade at its Revolución de Cuba sites was also now beginning to come back as more people returned to the office, while Revolution was continuing to benefit from its younger customer base “who seen to be just pleased to be able to be out enjoying themselves after the past few years”. “While we are seeing opportunities in the market, we are not rushing into anything,” said Pitcher. “It’s going to be another tough winter for the industry. There’s no escaping the cost pressures and the cost-of-living crisis, so we are biding our time a little bit. We’re looking to step up our expansion a bit next year, but then look to open four or five annually. There’s not many operators that would have seen the level of inflation we are currently, and I think better opportunities will come on to the market this winter. We’re doing our best not to pass on all these costs, and we have agreements in place with most of our suppliers for a good period of time, but we’ve had to pass on about 6% or 7% to the consumer, and we’re trying not to have to pass on anything further. In the past few months, while we have seen costs still rise, the rate they are increasing at has slowed.” Pitcher said the business, which will open its first new sites since 2018 this month with Revolution launches in Exeter and Preston, is also hopeful of finding a second site for its Founders & Co concept, which launched in Swansea last year. “I think the main learning from it has been the impact we have seen from creating a community hub,” he added. “Having this place where like-minded people can come together, especially after the last couple of years, and collaborate and share their ideas has been wonderful. We’ve created a space where people want to spend time, and the flexible meeting space is used pretty consistently. We’ve also got a food offering and a coffee shop, and the dwell time is much higher than at Revolution and Revolución de Cuba.”

Linda’s Inns targeting 15-strong estate by end of 2025 as it acquires third site: Linda’s Inns, the pub company owned by Linda Green and her son Matthew, has acquired its third site and is targeting a 15-strong estate by the end of 2025. The company has bought the freehold of The Duke of York, in the West Yorkshire village of Stainland. Green said pub will mirror the operation of its first, The Murgatroyd Arms in Halifax, which was acquired in 2018, and where the premiumisation of the offer has seen sales triple. The introduction of Madri and the weekly tapas menu has been at the forefront of this. The company also operates The Standard of Freedom in Halifax, which the group acquired in June last year. Linda’s Inns is now targeting other freehold sites in West Yorkshire and is hoping to acquire two more by the end of the year. Green was previously retail director of Batemans before launching Linda’s Inns in 2017.

Brunning & Price adds to Yorkshire presence: Brunning & Price, the pub operator owned by The Restaurant Group (TRG), has furthered its presence in Yorkshire by acquiring The Nelson in Harrogate. The company will now spend the next few months refurbishing and restoring the historic building, which was built in 1776 and was a private house until the early 19th century, with the aim of reopening in October. Brunning & Price also owns the nearby trio of the Highwayman in Kirkby Lonsdale, the Bull at Broughton and the Aspinall Arms in Mitton. Mary Willcock, manager director at Brunning & Price, said: “We love to restore old buildings, learning about the character they have within them. Being foodies, our menu, which will be published on our website each morning, will be something of an eclectic mix, striking a balance of hearty pub classics, complemented by more exotic influences from around the world. It changes regularly and reflects the seasons, but there’s always a mix of traditional British dishes alongside something a little different.” Brunning & Price operates 80 pub-restaurants, mainly in the north west of England and north Wales, but also now has a substantial estate in the south. TRG said last year it planned to double the size of Brunning & Price’s then 70-strong estate, and a push for new sites begun following the group’s £175m recapitalisation in September 2021. Since then, it has added the Rake Hall in Little Stanley, The Mallard in Tidbury Green, The Architect in Bath and the Mytton & Mermaid in Atcham, among others.

Just Eat gives back more than £9m to restaurant partners: Just Eat has announced it gave £9.3m back to restaurants last year, the largest amount on record, through its Booker partnership. The partnership with market leading wholesale provider Booker has meant the food delivery platform was able to give back more than £9m to over 6,500 restaurant partners through the partnership’s cashback scheme, with more partners now claiming than ever before. As a Just Eat restaurant partner, an exclusive cashback rate at Booker and Makro can earn them up to 7% cashback on almost every purchase they make, as well as further exclusive prices on over 18,000 products. Andrew Kenny, managing director UK at Just Eat, said: “We are only successful if our restaurant partners are successful. Supporting our restaurant partners is paramount, and our partnership with Booker is one way we can ensure we get the best discounts and offers available to them. We’ll continue to drive these deals over the next year to make sure partners are always getting the best value in everything we provide and continue to secure further savings to help them thrive.”

Richard Zivkovic steps down as Island Poke COO to join Egg Free Cake Box: Richard Zivkovic has stepped down as chief operating officer at Island Poke, the London-based White Rabbit Projects and Hero Brands-backed business, to take up the same position at Egg Free Cake Box, the specialist retailer of fresh cream cakes. Zivkovic, formerly of Abokado, Costa and Pret, joined Island Poke initially as operations director at the start of March 2019. The company, which operates 18 sites in London, including four delivery kitchens, and 11 sites in France, recently made its regional debut with an opening in Pringle Drive, Bicester Village. The business, which plans to open 100 locations across the UK in the next five years, is currently in the process of hiring a managing director. Egg Free Cake Box, which currently has circa 190 stores in the UK, announced in 2021 that it planned to open at a rate of two to three new sites a month.

Immersive restaurant company Wonderland to cover guests’ taxi fares during upcoming train strikes: Immersive restaurant company Wonderland is offering to cover guests’ incoming taxi fares, up to £30 per person, at its Park Row restaurant during the upcoming train strikes. Guests can show their taxi receipt to receive the deduction from their bill at the DC-inspired restaurant, on Brewer Street in London’s Soho, on 21, 23 and 25 June. Wonderland, which opened Park Row as its debut restaurant in July 2021, hope the move will encourage guests to head into London despite the RMT strikes. Founder James Bulmer, former Disney executive and chief executive of The Fat Duck Group, said: “Despite the pandemic bringing hospitality to its knees, we are faced with yet another challenge and one that causes a huge loss of covers, hitting businesses hard. As much as Londoners have learnt how to deal with the strikes, many companies will no doubt offer their employees to work from home. By covering in the most part taxi fares for our guests, we’re trying to turn a negative into a positive.”

Real Eating Company launches staff share scheme: Real Eating Company, the independent cafe and coffee concept led by Helena Hudson, has launched a staff share scheme, Propel has learned. Hudson said: “I am very happy to say that after months of bureaucratic paperwork, our people now own some of the business. I hope it will be the first step towards wider share ownership for our people. Let’s face it – hospitality is only ever about the people working in the business. So, it seemed like a no-brainer for me to gift some of the company to long-standing team members. And we’ve tripled in size since the pandemic. These people have been through the highs and lows with me, building a hospitality business from scratch. It’s bloody hard work! And, coincidentally, several of the new shareholders are women. It’s a good step that more women can have some skin in the hospitality game. There are still too few of us.” Earlier this year, the nine-strong company appointed Brian Gillan, formerly of Wagamama, Honest Burgers and Nando’s, as its new operations director.

Costa to roll out combined hot and iced drinks machines after successful trial: Costa Coffee, which is owned by Coca-Cola, is to roll out new integrated hot and cold self-serve Costa Express machines across the UK this summer after a successful trial. The company said its Costa Express machines have been upgraded to deliver both hot and iced drinks, and 1,100 new machines will now be available across England, Scotland and Wales. It follows a successful trial at more than 40 Costa Express locations across Bristol last summer, alongside testing dairy alternative milks in a small number of machines. Customers will now be able to choose from a large variety of hot and iced drinks, ranging from hot or cold lattes and cappuccinos to iced fruit cordials and milk coolers. The machine also offers a selection of iced fruit cordials, including a strawberry and lime flavour. Nick Orrin, Costa Express Director UK & Ireland, said: “Costa Express is synonymous with exceptional coffee on-the-go, so we’re delighted to be able to roll out our Costa Express hot and iced drinks machine this summer. The technology used in these state-of-the-art machines is nothing short of a gold-standard level of innovation – a world’s first for the self-service coffee machine industry. What’s more, we are giving our customers what they have been asking for from us – their favourite crafted coffee, personalised for how they want it and when they want it.”

Ballie Ballerson secures Edinburgh site: Ball-pit cocktail bar concept Ballie Ballerson is to open a site in Edinburgh this summer. The company has secured the former McSorley’s Irish Bar in Forrest Road, adding to its flagship site in London’s Shoreditch. The 300-capacity, 7,500 square-foot bar will be spread over two floors, creating 40 jobs. There will also be an on-site wellness room managed by first-aiders for customers to use as a safe space.  Founder Wenny Armstrong said: “Scotland was an easy choice when expanding Ballie Ballerson outside of England because we know Scots are always up for a good time.” Ballie Ballerson also previously operated a site in Berwick Street, in London’s Soho, which is now home to NQ64, the immersive retro arcade bar concept.

Paul Halsey to step down as Purity Brewing Co CEO: Paul Halsey is to step down as chief executive of Warwickshire-based Purity Brewing Company to take up a non-executive role at the company he founded in 2005 with Jim Minkin. Halsey will hand over the day-to-day running of the business to Andy Maddock, who will step up from managing director to chief executive next month. Maddock, who joined the BGF-backed business last spring, has vast experience across brewing and brands, with his most recent senior positions including European agile transformation director and trading director national groups and festivals with Heineken UK, following two years as managing director of Caledonian Brewery in Edinburgh. Halsey said: “I am immensely proud of what we have achieved over the years. I have never had a day working in this industry that I have not genuinely enjoyed, never a chore. But from 1 July, I will be moving to a non-executive director role with Purity Group and handing the day-to-day reigns to our excellent senior leadership team and the very capable Andy Maddock, who will assume the position of chief executive. I am every bit confident that Purity, Purecraft Bar & Kitchen and now Pure Booch Co will realise their full potential over the coming years, and I am looking forward to watching them grow. Purity has been a wonderful journey and one that I will never forget.”

Pret A Manger set to continue overseas expansion with Spain and Portugal launch: Pret A Manger is set to continue its overseas expansion in Spain and Portugal after signing an agreement with Ibersol Group. Headquartered in Portugal, Ibersol Group operates more than 600 restaurants in the two countries as well as in Angola. It manages its own brands, including Pans & Company, Ribs, Santamaría and FrescCo, as well as licenses for Burger King, Pizza Hut, KFC and Taco Bell. The agreement comes as Pret steps up its global growth plans as it aims to double its size within five years, and launch into five new markets by the end of 2023. In the past year, Pret has announced agreements that will introduce the brand in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Canada and the Middle East. Pano Christou, chief executive at Pret, said: “It’s been a long-term ambition for me to introduce Pret to customers across Spain and Portugal, and so I’m absolutely thrilled that we’ll soon be serving our freshly made food and 100% organic coffee here. The team at Ibersol have huge experience, and we’re really looking forward to working together to grow our business across the region.” Dr Alberto Teixeira, co-president of Ibersol Group, added: “This new agreement with Pret A Manger is a great business opportunity for Ibersol Group, allowing us to further strengthen our position in the food-to-go market across Iberia. We are confident that Pret will be very well received by Spanish and Portuguese customers, known for its emblematic British-style sandwiches and fresh coffee.” Earlier this month, Pret announced that its first Canadian store, under its agreement with A&W Food Services, will open in Vancouver this summer.

Freedom Brewery passes £500,000 crowdfunding target after raising 99% before public launch: Staffordshire-based Freedom Brewery has passed its £500,000 crowdfunding target after raising 99% of it ahead of the campaign going live to the public on Tuesday (14 June). Propel revealed last month that the craft lager specialist, which is chaired by James Coyle, the former managing director of Scottish brewer and retailer Innis & Gunn, was launching the fundraise to expand its brewing, production and marketing capabilities. Before the campaign opened to the public, it had already raised £497,000 through more than 200 current and pre-registered investors, who were offered 2.24% equity. There are two weeks left on the campaign. As it went live to the public on Crowdcube, executive chairman James Coyle said: “We are absolutely delighted and humbled by the backing of our fans and current investors, who have shown their commitment to Freedom even before this campaign opens to the wider public. The more we are able to raise, the more we will be able to achieve, so this is an incredibly exciting time for the business.” Over the last five years, Freedom’s current private equity investors, including Oakfield Capital, have invested in the production infrastructure to grow the business to a projected £6m turnover this year, and £10m by 2025. Freedom’s vision is now to become one the UK’s largest independent craft lager brewers.

Knightsbridge Italian restaurant and famed celebrity hangout closes after almost 60 years: Italian restaurant San Lorenzo, based in London’s Knightsbridge, has closed for good. The restaurant, located at 22 Beauchamp Place, was opened by Mara Berni and husband Lorenzo in 1963, and since 2012 has been run by their daughter, Marina. It was a favourite of Princess Diana and attracted other celebrities including Rod Stewart, Kate Moss, Johnny Depp, Jack Nicholson, Madonna, Marianne Faithful and Al Pacino. It started out with just nine tables but quickly grew to a 180-cover restaurant with six private dining rooms and a cocktail bar offering cocktail classes. The restaurant’s management had pledged to reopen it following the pandemic last September, but those plans have now been scrapped. “It’s the end of an era,” a source told the Daily Mail. “San Lorenzo won’t be reopening. It’s very sad, but like so many businesses in central London, it hasn’t survived the pandemic.”

GSG Hospitality to debut new Asian concept in Liverpool: Independent restaurant and bar business GSG Hospitality – which owns Bold Street Coffee, Duke Street Food and Drink Market, Salt Dog Slims, 81 Ltd, Slim’s and Santa Chupitos – will debut its new Asian cuisine concept in Liverpool later this year. The concept, which does not yet have a name, will open in the city’s Plaza Building and will be led, on a consultancy basis, by chef Dave Critchley. A former Great British Menu contestant, Critchley started out working at Alma de Cuba, The Noble House, The London Carriage Works and Hope Street Hotel before pursuing an interest in Chinese cuisine four years ago. Awarded the first ever international Master chef apprentice in Chinese culinary arts, he was also the last ever apprentice of the renowned Chinese chef Master Wu. Last week, he won Visit England’s Taste of England award for Lu Ban in Liverpool, where he is executive chef director. There are already discussions on the potential for Critchley’s future involvement with GSG. John Ennis, director of GSG Hospitality, said: “We’re incredibly excited to have Dave on board and collaborating on the development of what will be one of Liverpool’s primary culinary destinations. We have huge ideas for this space, and Dave’s experience will add another dimension to the concept development.” Critchley added: “It’s fantastic to be teaming up with GSG Hospitality on their latest project in Liverpool. I’m really looking forward to working with the team and adding Asian influences to the menu development.” In March, GSG said it will open a fourth site for its Bold Street Coffee concept in September, at the University of Manchester’s University Green, with more to follow later in the year.

Boston Tea Party saves more than 800,000 single use cups from going to landfill: All-day dining casual cafe brand Boston Tea Party (BTP) has revealed its single use coffee cup ban has saved more than 800,000 from going into landfill. The company introduced the ban in June 2018. Now, as part of World Refill Day on Thursday (16 June), BTP is giving away a total of 1,200 reusable coffee cups across its 25 cafes to encourage more people to “choose to reuse”. BTP chief executive Sam Roberts said: “Our purpose at BTP is making things better, and in 2018 we took a bold decision to protect planet over profit by stopping using single use coffee cups. Four years on, we’re delighted to have saved more than 800,000 cups from going to landfill, but the scale of single use cup waste remains huge. We’re giving away 1,200 Ecoffee Cups to encourage more people to join us on this mission.” Customers are able to bring any reusable cup, borrow one from the fully refundable cup loan scheme or buy an Ecoffee Cup in one of its cafes.

Small investors in failed George Best hotel project in Belfast face losing all their money: Small investors in the failed George Best hotel project in Belfast face losing all the money they put in after a judge agreed the building could be sold. The bedroom investors are now unlikely to recoup any of their investment. They had been trying to delay the sale in the hope that a developer would work with them to recoup their money. The hotel went into administration in April 2020 without ever opening. It was being developed by the Liverpool businessman Lawrence Kenwright. No viable proposals were put forward to recover the investments, which the judge said in some cases would involve “lifetime savings”. Individual investors put almost £6m to buy individual bedrooms from which they hoped to earn a return. However, they ranked behind the major lenders to the project, a finance firm called Lyell Trading. The administrators had asked the judge to make an order to remove liens, or legal claims, which the bedroom investors had over the project. That would allow the building to be sold and Lyell to recoup some of its debt, reports the BBC. The judge said time had been given to explore the possibility of another investor after an early proposal from the Martin Property Group. But that proposal was incomplete and contingent on a number of matters, which were never agreed upon. Therefore, the application by the joint administrators to sell the building was granted.

Inn Collection Group acquires Lake District hotel off £1.2m guide price for staff accommodation: The Inn Collection Group has acquired the Ravensworth Hotel, situated near Bowness-on-Windermere in the Lake District, to convert into staff accommodation. The property, which was originally built in the 1850s as a family residence, was subsequently converted into a 12-bedroom hotel and has undergone significant refurbishment and reconfiguration over the years. It was sold off a guide asking price of £1.2m to the Inn Collection Group, which has built its portfolio of hotels and inns to 32 sites across the north of England and north Wales over the past few years. Sean Donkin, managing director of the group, which is owned by the Harris family Trust and backed by Kings Park Capital, said: “The Lake District has so much to offer people from the UK and further afield, but the challenges around housing, especially for those working in the tourism sector, are well known. We have acquired The Ravensworth to help ease that burden for our staff and bring people into the community, as well as ensuring the best possible experience for the guests at our hotels throughout the region.” Nick Hood, the former owner of the Ravensworth, added: “It’s been a joy to be the custodian of The Ravensworth over the last 13 years and we are certain that it is in good hands. It is exciting to hear about the Inn Collection Group’s plans for the property and help bring more skilled people into the vibrant tourism industry in the Lake District.” Graham + Sibbald facilitated the sale. Earlier this month, the Inn Collection Group reopened the former Northallerton Police Station in Yorkshire as a new pub-with-rooms venue. This after Donkin told Propel the group planned to open four to five more new sites this year.

Tensions rise between Starbucks and workers following closure of unionised store: Tensions have risen between Starbucks and its circa 150 newly unionised stores in the US following the company’s decision to close a store in Ithaca, New York, which voted in favour of unionisation in April. Employees at the store and the SB Workers United union have both claimed the closure is in retaliation to the vote to unionise, according to US publication NRN, with workers claiming they were only given a week’s notice. The union has organised a protest against the closure and is filing an unfair practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). “This is clearly retaliation for our small grasps at dignity as workers, but our strike showed them what power we have,” said Benjamin South, a now-former employee at Starbucks’ Ithaca store. “Taking a corporation to task is unprecedented, but our 100+ union stores are proof positive that there is an army of partners that won’t let Starbucks bully us.” Starbucks told Bloomberg the closure was due to lack of facilities, staffing and attendance issues. “We open and close stores as a regular part of our operations,” a company spokesman said. It follows Starbucks last week winning a wrongful dismissal case with the NLRB over the dismissal of three union organisers at a store in Phoenix, and Starbucks interim chief executive Howard Schultz telling The New York Times he does not believe a union “should lead our people”. At the same time, SB Workers United has launched a $1m “strike and defence” fund to support and pay Starbucks workers that go on strike. In March, Starbucks investor group Trillium Access Management wrote to the company asking it to find common ground rather than fight its employees trying to gain representation.

Panera Bread opens digital-only restaurant: US restaurant chain Panera Bread has opened its first digital-only site in Chicago. “Panera To Go” will offer Panera’s Rapid Pick-Up and delivery orders only. The company, which is backed by Pret A Manger owner JAB Holdings, plans to open two more Panera To Go test locations, in California and Washington DC, this year. The stores are designed for densely populated areas that cannot accommodate a dine-in bakery-café. The Panera To Go front-of-house does not offer any seating and is currently testing delivery and rapid pick-up on shelves that customers and delivery drivers can easily access. Eduardo Luz, chief brand and concept officer at Panera Bread, said: “We strive to make it easy for our guests to access Panera’s chef-curated menu, in the most convenient way. Panera To Go creates yet another access point for our guests, via rapid pick-up or delivery, in locations where Panera has not historically operated. This is a labour-light model with no cashiers and no front-of-house to maintain, and it doesn’t have a drive-thru.”

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