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Wed 22nd Jun 2022 - Harald Samuelsson takes executive director role at Tasty, UK inflation hits 9.1%, Harvester et al
Harald Samuelsson takes executive director role at Tasty, business back on expansion trail: Wildwood operator Tasty has announced Harald Samuelsson, the former joint managing director of Cote, will become an executive director of the business with responsibility for food and operational support, with immediate effect. Samuelsson, who has been an independent non-executive director at Tasty since last May, has more than 20 years of experience in the UK restaurant industry. In 2008, he joined Côte as joint managing director and in 2010 became joint managing director at Bill’s restaurants until 2012. The company has also appointed Wendy Dixon as an independent non-executive director, with immediate effect. Dixon spent two decades working with global brands, in a variety of leadership roles in multiple markets within the Publicis Groupe. She then joined Leo Burnett in 1996 working in both North America and Europe, where she helped major brands within Disney and Procter & Gamble to develop integrated communications campaigns and managed agency revenue budgets, until 2018. She was appointed as M&C Saatchi Group’s first chief growth officer in 2019 with responsibility for leading internal collaboration, building the brand of the company externally and bringing together both capabilities and talent in order for new and existing clients to grow. Samuelsson told Propel: “It has been a real coup getting somebody of Wendy’s calibre onboard and we are looking forward to working with her. I decided to take on a more executive role after my non-executive director appointment, firstly after meeting and working with the senior team. I was and am very impressed as it is a great group of committed people where the operators spend a lot of time in the restaurants. Secondly, pre-pandemic, Jonny Plant, the chief executive, and Mayuri Vachhani, the chief financial officer, worked very hard getting the company in a debt-free position. This is now enabling us to take advantage of new opportunities and with money in the bank, we are back on the expansion trail. The next six to 12 months will be challenging with pressures on wages, food inflation, utility cost and staff availability but we believe that we need to trade our way through this and keep offering our great food and service at value for money prices. Our £11.95 two-course weekday lunch menu is a great example. We need to stay attractive in times when our customers’ disposable income is under pressure. As the vast majority of our restaurants are outside London, we have also benefited from the change that more people are working from home. All this has resulted in positive like-for-likes against 2019 and we have been outperforming the Peach Tracker for many months. All in all, exciting times ahead.”

Variety of experiential concepts set to join updated Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies: A variety of experiential concepts are among the 43 new multi-site companies being added to the next edition of the Propel Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies, which will be released on Friday, 1 July, at midday. The updated Propel Multi-Site Database, which is produced in association with Virgate, features The Font, a climbing gym concept co-founded by Joey Powis and Richard Allinson, which operates a site in Wandsworth and is opening a second site, on London’s Southbank. Also added this month is Hologate VR, the Munich-based virtual reality and immersive media company founded by Michael Harrison, which currently has sites at Skegness Pier, Milton Keynes Xscape and MSC Virtuosa in Southampton, and is set to make its London debut at Gravity Southside. In addition, Ambassador Theatre Group, the world’s largest commercial theatre company, which is led by Mark Cornell and currently runs more than 50 venues in Britain, the US and Germany, will be featured. Premium subscribers will also receive a 3,700-word report on the new additions to the database. The comprehensive database is updated monthly and provides company names, the people in charge, how many sites each firm operates, its trading name and its registered name at Companies House if different. It features more than 2,000 companies. Premium subscribers will also receive the next edition of the New Openings Database, which is produced in association with StarStock, on Friday, 8 July, at midday. It focuses on newly announced openings and upcoming launches in the sector and is updated every month. The next edition also includes a 14,000-word report on the new additions to the database. Premium subscribers also receive access to another database – the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which is produced in association with Mapal Group. The Blue Book, which is also updated monthly and was sent to Premium subscribers last Friday (17 June), provides an insight into UK operator turnover and profitability over five years, profit conversion and directors’ earnings. 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 second edition featured 120 companies, providing insight on the offer, locations, cost and other key details. The second edition provides almost 47,000 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.

UK inflation hits 9.1% as food prices jump: The UK’s inflation rate hit another 40-year high in May, reaching 9.1%, its highest level since 1982. Fuelled by higher food prices last month, the rise was in line with economists’ expectations that suggest inflation will march higher in the coming months to move into double digits by the autumn. The Bank of England expects the inflation rate to exceed 11% in October, significantly higher than other similar countries in the G7. The rise in inflation will add to cost of living pressure on households, intensify demands for wage rises to offset higher prices, and make it more difficult to resolve industrial disputes such as those on the railways. Prices rises have been broad-based across goods and services. Food prices rose 1.5% in the month alone with bread, cereal and meat rising fastest in price. In May, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said road fuel prices were 32.8% higher than a year earlier, the largest annual jump in prices seen in this category since detailed indices were first compiled in 1989. Grant Fitzner, ONS chief economist, added there was still more inflation in the pipeline across factories in the UK in a sign that price pressures were still strengthening. “The price of goods leaving factories rose at their fastest rate in 45 years, driven by widespread food price rises, while the cost of raw materials leapt at their fastest rate on record,” he said. In a statement, chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “We are using all the tools at our disposal to bring inflation down and combat rising prices – we can build a stronger economy through independent monetary policy, responsible fiscal policy which doesn’t add to inflationary pressures, and by boosting our long-term productivity and growth.”

Park Holidays UK acquires Park Leisure: Holiday park operator Park Holidays UK has acquired Yorkshire company, Park Leisure, in an undisclosed deal. Park Leisure owns 11 holiday parks in locations in England, Scotland and North Wales. The deal means Park Holidays UK now has 54 parks across the UK, and it follows the company’s acquisition of nine parks from Bridge Leisure in 2021. The deal represents further consolidation within the industry as both businesses have been bought by US real estate investment trust Sun Communities in recent months. Just two months ago Park Leisure was sold to Sun Communities for £182m, and last November Sun Communities agreed to buy Park Holidays UK for £950m. Park Holidays UK director Tony Clish said the coming together of the two groups “presented exciting new opportunities in one of tourism’s most dynamic sectors”. He added: “Both companies have invested substantially in their parks over recent years and created a range of high-quality holiday products that people clearly enjoy. We will continue to invest in all of our parks to ensure that their facilities and standards of service are maintained to the highest possible levels.” Park Holidays UK was formed more than 35 years ago, and it now has parks from Cornwall in the west to Moray in northern Scotland. Meanwhile, Park Leisure has operated holidays parks for more than 20 years. The parks that make up the acquired group are Chantry, Littondale and Yorkshire Dales in Yorkshire; Oyster Bay, Par Sands and Pentire in Cornwall, Brynteg and Plas Coch in Wales; Ribble Valley in Lancashire, Amble Links in Northumberland and Malvern View in Herefordshire. Sites within both groups provide leisure facilities and family entertainment, together with landscaped grounds in which holiday lodges and caravans are located. Clish added: “The domestic holiday market continues to gain traction in the post-Brexit and post-pandemic market, and we are continuing to see an ever-increasing demand for UK holidays.”

Harvester ditches all-you-can-eat salad due to cost-of-living crisis: Harvester looks like it is ditching its all-you-can-eat salad as the cost-of-living crisis bites. The restaurant chain, owned by Mitchells & Butlers (M&B), will still offer the option with meals, but diners are banned from loading up bowls themselves. Instead they will have to stand in line to be served by a member of staff. Some pricier items such as bacon bits, olives and beetroot chunks also appear to have been phased out. Customer Naomi Johnston, of Peacehaven, East Sussex, said: “We’ve always loved going to Harvester as a family, but this has made us think again. The salad bar is one of the best parts. When we complained we were told it was a company-wide measure caused by rising costs.” Other customers took to social media and one declared: “I’m boycotting Harvester until I can serve my own salad.” For almost 40 years Harvester has boasted of having “the nation’s favourite salad bar”, previously stating on its website: “Pile your bowl high and take as many trips as you like.” The chain initially removed its self-service salad tongs due to covid. An M&B spokesman told The Sun: “We’re currently researching how to give our guests the best version of the unlimited salad bar in 2022 and beyond. We’re looking at consumer feedback.”

London’s restaurants deemed too noisy: With a feast of Michelin stars, London’s restaurants are among the loudest in Europe, according to a survey. The Times reported more than half of the capital’s food venues are too noisy to hold a conversation, with decibel levels the same as a lawn mower. Sound data was collected randomly at 1,350 popular London eateries for a survey. In more than half of cases, decibel levels were above 76 dBA, defined as safe for hearing but difficult for conversation. Anything above 80 dBA is considered unsafe for the human ear. The readings for London showed noise levels were the highest in Europe and second only to San Francisco worldwide. During peak times, 50% of London restaurants exceeded the dangerous noise level, and 80% hit the point at which chitchat becomes a struggle. The figures were released by SoundPrint, a global app that allows users to search for restaurants, cafes and bars by sound levels on a database generated from recordings and sound measurements submitted by other users. The app was created by Gregory Scott, who suffers from hearing loss. As a single man living in New York, he often found it impossible to hear women he went on dates with. He started recording the decibels in venues so he could adjust his hearing aid and shared his list of “quiet places” with people in similar situations, which led to the idea of a crowdsourced database. “Forty or fifty years ago restaurants were a place for conversation, they had soft furnishing, carpets, drapes which meant that even in a packed dining room you could talk with ease over a meal,” said Scott. “But things have changed in the last 30 years. Some restaurants are now like a nightclub or bar.” London restaurants with comfortable sonic atmospheres included Locanda Locatelli, Tamarind, the Ledbury, Lutyen’s Grill at the Ned, Rules and Indigo at One Aldwych Hotel.

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