Story of the Day:
Only a third of hospitality businesses currently profitable, almost half reducing opening hours: The profitability of hospitality businesses across the UK is plummeting, with only 37% currently turning a profit, according to a new sector survey. The biggest factors behind this are revealed as being the rising costs of energy (74%), goods (55%) and labour (54%). The survey – conducted by the British Beer & Pub Association, British Institute of Innkeeping and UKHospitality – comes almost a year after the government released its Hospitality Recovery Strategy. This looked to increase the resilience of the sector by improving profitability and putting pubs, bars, and restaurants at the heart of plans to revitalise local economies post-pandemic. However, the picture for hospitality businesses remains bleak, with almost half (45%) forced to reduce opening hours to avoid closing permanently, and one in six reporting they have no cash reserves. Hospitality leaders are now calling on the government to recognise the contribution sector businesses can make to the economy, while noting that less than a third (28%) are currently considering investing in their businesses because of the economic climate. The group highlights three key priorities to get the sector back on track: tackling the current inflationary headwinds facing the sector; reforms that would unleash growth potential; and a new tax and investment regime that facilitates a resilient and productive hospitality sector. In a joint statement, the trade bodies said: “These figures are extremely worrying and demonstrate the critical situation hospitality businesses across the country are currently in. Given the chance, our industry has huge growth potential and the ability to play a critical role in the levelling up of communities in every single part of the UK, but instead we are still struggling to get back on our feet properly after a turbulent two years. In the past few weeks, inflation has hit record levels and costs on key ingredients and utilities has rocketed, while consumer confidence has plummeted, resulting in fewer customers in our venues. We are weathering a perfect storm, but we can’t hold on forever. We need relief as soon as possible before the cost of doing business forces venues to close for good.”
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Three days to go before release of updated Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies, 50 business being added:
A total of 50 new multi-site companies, operating 323 sites, have been 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, includes growing experiential concepts, regional restaurant and pub operators and expanding hotel brands. Premium subscribers will also receive a 4,500-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 18,000-word report on the new additions to the database. Premium subscribers also receive access to the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book
, which is produced in association with Mapal Group. The Blue Book, which is also updated monthly, 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 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 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 email@example.com to upgrade your subscription
. Subscribers also receive access to Propel’s library of lockdown videos and Friday Wrap interviews and now also have access to a curated video library of the sector’s finest leaders and entrepreneurs, offering their insights on running outstanding businesses in the sector. Premium subscribers also receive their morning newsletter 11 hours early, at 7pm the evening before our 6am send-out; regular video content and regular exclusive columns from Propel group editor Mark Wingett.
Andrew Andrea to speak at Propel Multi-Club Conference and summer party, two free places each for operators:
Andrew Andrea, chief executive of Marston’s, 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. Andrea talks to Propel group editor Mark Wingett about the challenges and opportunities of navigating Marston’s through the crisis, where the business goes from here and his views on how the pub sector should evolve. Operators can claim up to two free places each by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
. A room can also be booked for the evening for £120.
Allergen-related incidents fall by almost a quarter, food standards report finds: Allergen-related incidents have fallen by almost a quarter since 2019, a report by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Food Standards Scotland (FSS) has found. Called “Our Food 2021” and published on Monday (27 June), the report has been called the first comprehensive assessment of food standards in the UK. It was welcomed by UKHospitality, at what the trade body called a “challenging” time for the sector. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “Food safety is a key element of the UKHospitality agenda, and although our industry faced numerous challenges during covid, serving our customers safe and healthy food always remained a priority. Indeed, it was during the difficult past two years the hospitality sector implemented two major pieces of food labelling legislation: Natasha’s Law allergen labelling and, in England, menu calorie labelling. We’re delighted, therefore, this new report reveals allergen-related incidents have fallen by almost a quarter compared with 2019. This, of course, reflects the fact many hospitality businesses were closed for part of this period, but also illustrates the sector is stepping up in this area and recognises the continued and ongoing importance of communicating allergen information. We’re also pleased to see 97% of food businesses in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and 94% in Scotland, received a satisfactory or higher rating under the Food Hygiene Rating schemes, and in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, three quarters of food business received the highest rating. UKHospitality will continue to work closely with the FSA and FSS to maintain and improve the high food standards that exist in hospitality.”
Customers attracted by live sport to visit and spend more in pubs this summer: Two thirds of customers surveyed for a new report said live sport on TV will make them visit and spend more in a pub this summer. Two thirds of operators also believe live sport on TV will have a direct influence on attracting customers to their venue, according to KAM’s The Summer of Sport 2022 White Paper, produced in partnership with Sky. The report said most operators expect an incremental increase of more than £13 per head per customer on big sporting occasions. Katy Moses, managing director at KAM said: “Watching live sport in a pub plays a key role in creating a great atmosphere and connecting people from all walks of life. Those pubs which can deliver on the atmosphere and the experience of live sport will be the ones which can realise the biggest opportunity which this summer promises. Driving both footfall, dwell time and spend (on both food and drinks) are all key wins that pubs can benefit from, if they can get their offer right.”
World is on a ‘tipping point’ of permanently high prices: The world is on the “tipping point” of falling into a period of runaway inflation in which soaring prices become embedded and difficult to control, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) has warned. In its annual report, the BIS called on central banks to step up efforts to tackle soaring prices while limiting the impact to growth, reports the Telegraph. Agustín Carstens, general manager of the BIS, said: “The key for central banks is to act quickly and decisively before inflation becomes entrenched. If it does, the costs of bringing it back under control will be higher. The longer-term benefits of preserving stability for households and businesses outweigh any short-term costs.” Central banks around the world, including in the UK and US, hoped last year that rising inflation would be “transitory”. But soaring prices have persisted, forcing monetary policymakers to rapidly raise interest rates. The BIS, which is considered the central bank of central banks, said: “We may be reaching a tipping point, beyond which an inflationary psychology spreads and becomes entrenched. This would mean a major paradigm shift.” The Bank of England has warned of the risk of a wage-price spiral taking hold, as workers push for pay rises to chase inflation, in turn adding to the costs facing businesses. The BIS said this could happen in the event an inflation rise is large and persistent enough to “leave a large imprint on the lives of workers and firms”, but also warned central banks must not wait for clear evidence of this before acting. The report said: “By the time [wage price spirals] are clearly visible, inflation may already be becoming entrenched.”
Company founders see benefit of transferring shares to staff: The number of company founders transferring ownership of their business to employees has increased by 72% in the past year, research has found. Owners are increasingly drawn to selling their business to employee ownership trusts (EOTs) because of a desire to reward workers who had helped them through the pandemic and the tax benefits EOTs can bring, according to a report by the accountants Price Bailey. There were 312 of the ownership trusts authorised by HM Revenue & Customs in the year to March, compared with 181 the previous year and only 15 in the year to March 2019, reports The Times. The data was obtained by Price Bailey using a Freedom of Information request. In total, there are more than 1,000 employee-owned businesses in Britain, according to the Employee Ownership Association (EOA), more than double the figure from 2020. That number includes businesses sold to EOTs and those where employees are direct shareholders in the company and hold a combined majority share. When a business is sold to an EOT, the seller does not pay any capital gains tax provided control passes to the trust. The sale can be funded using existing cash and future profits, meaning there is often no need for external finance. Employees can also benefit from an income tax-free bonus of up to £3,600 each year. Simon Blake, partner at Price Bailey, said: “Owners are exploring ways to incentivise and retain valuable staff [while] rising interest rates provide an added incentive to fund transfer of ownership without the need for increasingly costly external debt.”
BrewDog scheme to ‘tokenise’ investor equity gets strong pushback from shareholders: James Watt, chief executive of Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog, has received strong shareholder pushback from floating the idea of converting investors’ equity into blockchain assets. Watt tweeted on Monday (27 June) that BrewDog is working with fundraising management company Globacap to explore giving its 210,000 “Equity for Punks” investors the opportunity to “tokenise” their equity – adding that it would be optional for shareholders, and such a move would only follow a period of consultation. He went on to say the company would only work with a blockchain with “great sustainability credentials” and insisted the move is “not about non-fungible tokens (NFTs) or crypto”. Instead, he said, it is about “a more efficient way to maintain a shareholder register” and “making it easier for Equity for Punks members to realise the value of their shares”. However, predominantly negative replies ranged from calling it a “terrible idea”, “laughable” and a “gimmick” to “a sell-out” and “the last straw”, with threats to sell shares if it went ahead. One investor tweeted: “Respectfully, James, I would advise not to touch anything crypto or NFT with a 12-foot pole…as an investor, I do not want BrewDog to sink with it, and to ideally have zero touchpoints.” Another tweeted: “Been a Punk investor for nearly a decade, and do not want anything to do with crypto/NFTs. If you do go down this route, I would hope there is an easy way for those of us who would (sadly) want to cash in our chips.” Another added: “Even considering doing this before securing an initial public offering, or providing a more consistent, reliable way for those invested to sell shares than a trading day whenever you feel like it, is unconscionable.”
Insurers slam Stonegate’s BI interpretation as landmark high court case reaches closing submissions: Insurers have called pub company Stonegate’s interpretation of its business interruption (BI) coverage a “perversion of language”, as they set out their closing submissions in a landmark £1.1bn covid-19 BI case. The pub company is suing MS Amlin, Zurich and Liberty Mutual in a case that hinges on aggregation, with Stonegate claiming that it is entitled to a payout for each of its 760 premises, in a case that could have extensive implications for overall covid-19 losses.
Gavin Kealey QC, representing insurers, told London’s High Court that insurers did not cover Stonegate for an epidemic or pandemic, but rather for specific occurrence of a disease. He said that it was a “perversion of language” to claim otherwise, and that Stonegate’s submissions represented a “perversion of the indemnity period”. Kealey told the court Stonegate could have “netted off” furlough payments under standard accounting practices, which would reflect the “commercial reality” of the situation. He said furlough payments constituted a “pure saving”, and any other finding would leave the pub company in effect indemnified twice. The QC said: “If Stonegate had its way, it would have been over-indemnified, because it would have received substantial sums from the government in relation to its wage bill, normally payable from its turnover, and now it wants to bank it twice by getting the money from its insurers.”
In the final day of the hearing today (Tuesday, June 28), the insurers and Stonegate will both conclude their closing submissions.
Malkov – there has been an ‘uncorking of opportunities’ for expansion, looking at helping hotels with F&B offer: Yishay Malkov, chief executive of Coppa Club operator Various Eateries, has said the business has seen an “uncorking of opportunities” for expansion over the past few weeks and is well positioned to take advantage. Speaking as part of the Propel Friday Wrap series, Malkov said: “In the last couple of months without a doubt there's been an uncorking of what our chairman Andy Bassadone has called the constipation in the property market. It's been quite closed up because everybody has been thinking, well where are all those retail opportunities, where are the 10,000 licensed premises that are closed now? I think just now it's starting to come up. We've definitely seen a change in that perspective, and there is a lot more to choose from today. And we have different concepts – Coppa, Tavolino, Nico, and because we have different size needs for them, we can have a lot of options to choose from.” Malkov said the last 12 months had shown the importance of having room stock, with the company’s like-for-like hotel room revenue particularly strong, up 19% on 2019. He said: “We’ve definitely seen a massive improvement, both in our room rate and our occupancy. At the moment we've got two 50-bedroom hotels plus the site in Haslemere that has 13 rooms above it. We are definitely now more comfortable at operating that rooms and food and beverage concept. In terms of the hotel market, this August is looking still a bit murky, and rooms are not full, and you may find some are struggling because maybe their offer isn't quite right, and the peak that was just post-lockdown is now starting to come down again. I think if we can give places like that a new lease of life. That’s either by coming in to offer our clubhouse environment alongside the hotel, or do the events and the food and beverage only, but we can bring back to life places that maybe are losing some of that. We can utilise real estate in a better way because we're all dancing, all singing, rooms, events, weddings, and all that kind of stuff. We are talking to a few people about those types of opportunities.”
Creams set for further growth with Manchester Arndale opening, ‘multiple’ sites in legals: Dessert parlour operator Creams is set for further growth with an opening at the Manchester Arndale while it has “multiple” other sites in legals. The brand – which recently opened in Putney, south west London, and has more than 100 UK sites – has agreed a 15-year lease for a 2,325 square-foot space at Manchester Arndale. Othman Shoukat, managing director for Creams, said: “We’re thrilled to be opening in the iconic Manchester Arndale and confident Creams will be a very welcomed addition to the shopping mall’s already impressive line-up of food and beverage outlets. With one successful restaurant already operating in Cheetham Hill, we look forward to bringing our desserts to even more of the Manchester community.” Propel understands Creams has also been able to secure rent concessions at its sites in Bluewater and Exchange Ilford along with a re-gear for its outlet in Broad Street, Birmingham. Meanwhile, Pizza Hut and Caffe Nero have both signed for new five-year terms at Manchester Arndale. Recent lettings and lease renewals mean Manchester Arndale has now reached 95% retail occupancy. A spokesman for Manchester Arndale said: “Having a strong food and beverage offering helps to encourage shoppers to visit in-store as opposed to shopping online. We hope to announce further new lettings and leasing activity across the centre as we seek to maintain Manchester Arndale’s position as a premier retail and leisure destination in the UK.” Metis Real Estate and Time Retail Partners are Manchester Arndale’s retained letting agents. Etch acts for Creams.
Brucan Pubs aiming to expand to ten sites within five years: Former ETM operations director James Lyon-Shaw and ex-The Ivy Collection head chef Jamie Dobbin are aiming to more than double the size of their Brucan Pubs estate over the next five years. Propel revealed last week that Lyons-Shaw and Dobbin had taken on The Star, which is owned by Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars, in the village of Witley, near Guildford, for their fourth site, opening this summer. They are now looking for further leased and freehold sites to meet their ambition of building an estate of ten gastropubs by 2027. Lyon-Shaw said: “We search for sites that will sustain a high percentage of food sales, and where we can build a strong business by optimising or transforming the current offer. The Star ticks all the boxes and is in our core operating area south west of London. Good freeholds rarely come to market and are either very expensive or extremely run down when they do. The tied model is proving an affordable way for us to access great pubs.” The Star will join the existing Brucan estate of The Greene Oak (Windsor), The Drumming Snipe (Mayford) and The Greyhound (Finchampstead) when it opens following a £400,000 refurbishment. It will have a weekly-changing menu of pub classics and daily seasonal specials, focused on locally and sustainably sourced British game, meat and fish. These include cheddar cheese, spring onion and potato peel pie with creamed kale; and whole Cornish plaice with cockles and sorrel sauce. There will also be rotating cask ales and a carefully curated wine list.
Cake Box continuing to trade ‘robustly’ as it reports full-year sales up 50%: Cake Box, the specialist retailer of fresh cream cakes, has reported it continues to trade “robustly” as it reported full-year sales up by 50%. Revenue was up to £33m for the year ending 31 March 2022, compared with £21.9m the previous year. Pre-tax profit grew 83.3% to £7.7m. There was 41% growth in online sales for the financial year in which 31 new franchise stores opened. There were 185 sites operating at the end of the year with 15 supermarket kiosks and 20 kiosks in shopping centres. A new warehouse opened in Enfield in December to support ongoing expansion. Chief executive Sukh Chamdal said: “Despite a challenging economic and trading environment, we have delivered yet another strong set of results and continue to trade robustly post period end. I founded Cake Box at the height of the financial crisis in 2008. These are difficult times for everyone, but as we've seen before, the group's unique customer and franchisee proposition remains both exciting and enticing. Our people have proven their resilience and commitment through tough times and now is the time for the Cake Box family of extraordinary entrepreneurs to shine, with support from a bigger, better and more experienced group function.”
SSP launches new fresh-to-go concept, plans UK roll-out: UK-based transport hub foodservice specialist SSP Group has added a new fresh-to-go concept to its portfolio with the opening of Soul + Grain at London’s Victoria station. Soul + Grain offers a variety of vegan, vegetarian and nutritionally balanced options, displayed with nutritional information to help customers “make more informed choices”. These include hummus and grilled aubergine beetroot roll garnished with sun-blushed tomatoes and wild rocket; a katsu chicken and brown rice hot box; and a raw green crunchy salad with smashed avocado, tender-stem broccoli, edamame, and cucumber. There is also “ethically sourced artisan coffee” from Extract Coffee Roasters. The Victoria store is planned to be the first of several, and plans are under way to open more Soul + Grain outlets at other UK stations and airports. Richard Lewis, chief executive of SSP UK & Ireland, said: “We are proud to be launching Soul + Grain to the UK travel market. In response to the demand for balanced menu choices, the brand is focused on giving our customers a premium, nutritionally balanced menu alongside fantastic artisan coffee. Delicious pastries, bright, tasty salads, and freshly made sandwiches and toasties served in a relaxed, welcoming style, provide customers with a diverse offer to meet all their needs.” SSP operates in 36 countries around the world and has a portfolio of more than 550 international, national and local brands.
Clean Kitchen Club looks to extend latest funding round: Clean Kitchen Club – which was founded by former YouTube celebrity Michael Pearce, with Made in Chelsea TV star Verity Bowditch joining in 2020 – is looking to extend its latest fundraising round to £2.5m. Earlier this year, the business launched a fundraising round, with the target of raising £2m. Propel has learned Clean Kitchen Club, which recently opened in Notting Hill, and has sites lined up in the Battersea Power Station development and Soho, has so far raised £1.8m out of that £2m, and is aiming higher. Bowditch said: “We are thinking about overfunding to £2.5m to propel us into our third year of business to get us to the £10m annualised revenue mark.” Last November, Bowditch and Pearce closed a £1.4m seed-funding round for the business, announcing plans to open 40 locations across the UK.
New Argentinian pastries concept to launch in London next month: De Nadas, a new pastry-based Argentinian concept from chef Nico Buyo and former Kerrang! magazine editor Ñako Martinez, will launch in London next month. It is set to be the capital’s first restaurant specialising in baked hand-shaped empanadas –traditional half-moon shaped pastries featuring 15 different meat, vegetarian and plant-based fillings. Located at 61 Golborne Road, it promises to “bring a touch of Buenos Aires to London”. Fillings include ham and cheese, chorizo, spicy lamb, blue cheese and pear, and butternut squash and kale. Bought individually or in boxes of six, nine, 12 or more, the empanadas will be available to eat in or take out. Lunch boxes will feature from 11-3pm Monday to Friday, and will include up to three empanadas with salad. The venue will also offer artisanal coffees and a deli stocking Argentinian produce, plus a wine room which will also host private events.
Heidi’s Patisserie to close six out of seven branches: Hampshire bakery Heidi’s Patisserie, which was founded in 1969 by Ernst Strassman, former head patisserie of Fortnum & Mason in London, is set to close six of its seven branches. It plans to close its outlets in Mengham, West Town, Havant, Alresford, Drayton and Cowplain, leaving only its Emsworth store, which will be refurbished to house its relocated bakery. Heidi’s will close its Alresford patisserie at the end of September when the lease expires, while those at Hayling, Drayton, Cowplain and Havant will shut in December. The company has blamed the current economic climate and the effects of the pandemic, together with the war in Ukraine, for its downsizing plans, reports the Portsmouth News. “Running Heidi’s for the past 30 years has been a privilege, a challenge and an amazing way to have been part of the local community,” said owner Heidi Elliott. “I look forward to continuing the Heidi’s name at our refurbished branch in Emsworth. The reason we’re downsizing and relocating is just because it’s not financially viable for us to continue. It's been a very hard decision but there isn't a choice really. It isn’t sustainable as it is.”
Manorview acquires Lanarkshire hotel for 11th site: Scottish independent hotel group Manorview has added the 11th venue to its collection with the acquisition of Bothwell Bridge Hotel in Bothwell, South Lanarkshire. The 90-bedroom hotel with dining, wedding and function facilities, which dates to the 19th century, was initially known as The Clyde Hotel and has been run by the Martalo family in 1980. Manorview will continue to operate the hotel as is, honouring all existing bookings, but also plans to invest heavily in the property in the near future. Steve Graham, founder and director of Manorview, said: “We look forward to taking the baton from the Martalo family and continuing the legacy and story of this wonderful hotel and historic property. Opportunities to acquire properties of this kind don’t come along often, so we are delighted to be bringing Bothwell Bridge into the Manorview collection. While our initial focus will be on getting to know the business better, looking after customers, and supporting the existing team, we fully intend to invest heavily in the interior and exterior of the venue in the coming years. This is something we’ve done on varying levels with every venue we’ve acquired since our inception in 2006.” Manorview, which last year became Living Wage accredited, only last month acquired its tenth site – the Brisbane House Hotel in Largs. Armando Cirignaco, former general manager of Bothwell Bridge Hotel, added: “The Martalo family is proud to have served the Bothwell community for more than four decades and, as we pass the reins to Manorview, we know we are leaving the business we have built in excellent hands with another family firm.”
Stephen Crawley’s brewing business continue to trade following pre-pack administration: Love Lane Brewing, based in Liverpool and resurrected by former Caledonian Brewing managing director Stephen Crawley, has secured investment from Cheshire retailer Nick Canning as part of a pre-pack administration. The administration, handled by Steven Muncaster and Steve Clancy, of Kroll, means the bar and brewery business will stay open. Love Lane Brewing, a subsidiary of Higsons 1780, went into administration on 20 June, following which the company changed name to LLB Realisations. The new company is Love Lane Brewery. Higsons 1780 continues to trade. Love Lane Brewery serves as a brewery, a gin distillery, a bar and restaurant and events space at its site in Liverpool’s Baltic Triangle. Canning has been appointed a director of Higsons 1780 after the company received a £300,000 investment for 60,000 shares at the start of June. He had previously held a minority stake of almost 28,000 shares in Higsons 1780. Canning is also a director of the new subsidiary company, Love Lane Brewery. Canning spent 15 years at Iceland Foods, ending as joint managing director after spells as chairman of the company’s charitable foundation and its subsidiary Cooltrader. Canning joins Crawley, who has more than 25 years’ experience in the brewing industry and left Caledonian in 2013. Work began in 2016 on transforming an old rubber factory in the Baltic Triangle into an 18,000 hectolitre brewery, capable of brewing 3.2 million pints. The venture was launched in 2017 as H1780 in recognition of Higsons, the Liverpool beer that was first brewed in Liverpool in 1780. A revamped Higsons pint was one of the launchpads for the new business. It then changed its name the following year to Love Lane Brewing.
Roxy Leisure lines up second Birmingham site: Roxy Leisure, the operator of the Roxy Lanes and Roxy Ballroom concepts, has lined up a second opening in Birmingham. The company, which already operates a site in the city’s Digbeth area, is planning to launch a site at 1 Victoria Square in the city centre. The business recently opened its 12th site, and first in Bristol, in the former Fitness4Less gym premises in the city’s Union Street. It also operates sites in Manchester, Birmingham, Nottingham, Liverpool and Leeds. In March, Roxy Leisure said it planned to open six sites in 2022 with venues lined up in Birmingham, Edinburgh, Nottingham. Sheffield and York.
Robin Gill to open Parisian-style wine bar in Brixton: Chef entrepreneur Robin Gill is set to launch a small-scale Parisian-style wine bar, Bottle & Rye, in Brixton next month. The 28-cover venue will open on the ground floor of 404-406 Market Row in mid-July. The announcement comes in the same week that Gill opens his Italian-inspired restaurant, Maria G’s, in South Kensington. Both sites will join Brentford’s Rye by the Water and south London stalwarts Darby’s, Sorella and Bermondsey Larder in Gill’s portfolio. “We love how these little gems are embraced by the city,” said Gill. “I’m excited to be opening my first restaurant in Brixton, an area where I’ve lived for most of my London life.” Ex-Lino chef Ben Hughes-Gage will head up a kitchen serving dishes including Ogleshield gougères with pickled walnut, and Vichyssoise oyster tartare with smoked eel. A wine list that will “focus on minimal intervention wine from across Europe” will be led by Lewis Wright, one of Gill's long-term collaborators.
Whitbread urged to launch share £1bn buyback: Whitbread should launch a £1bn share buyback or sell and lease back hotel properties to lift its depressed share price, analysts at its house broker Morgan Stanley have said. The Times reported in a note to clients, Jamie Rollo said the owner of the Premier Inn hotel chain could find ways to “release considerable shareholder value”, adding: “We discussed options with the company and it told us it is currently reviewing its capital structure and nothing is ruled in or out.” About 60% of Whitbread’s hotel estate is freehold. However, Rollo said the shares were trading about 20% below the group’s estimated £6bn net asset value, with a 50% discount to its “£10bn sum-of-the-parts once we value the property separate to the operating business”. It also had a “very conservative” funding structure, sitting on £100m net cash after June 2020’s £1bn rights issue, on which Morgan Stanley was a key adviser. Rollo suggested “two ways” in which the hotelier could release value. He said it had “the firepower for a 20% buyback, effectively reversing the 2020 rights issue”, a move that would still leave it with a loan-to-value ratio of “only 15%”. Alternatively, he suggested a “£100m rolling sale and leaseback” of Whitbread’s properties via which it could fund a doubling of the dividend. Rollo emphasised his views were independent of any Morgan Stanley banking relationships. Rollo recognised the value of retaining a “majority freehold business”, particularly in an economic downturn. Whitbread has long been seen as a potential target for a bidder that may try to unlock the value of the property estate. The company declined to comment, though it is understood to keep its capital structure under regular review.
Japanese restaurant concept Intoku lines up third site: Intoku, the Japanese restaurant concept founded by Greg and Mia Lumakin, is set to open its third site in the south east, in Reading. The concept, which was originally launched in Manchester, is set to open on the former Tasting House unit, in Reading’s Chain Street. Intoku started as a small stall in Manchester before it opened a first bricks-and-mortar site in the city’s Arndale Market. In March 2020, the Lumakins decided to close the site and open new restaurants in London and Windsor. Intoku Windsor was opened in September 2020, with Intoku Chelsea opening a month later. The business has also been linked with a further opening in Weybridge, Surrey.
Boparan confirms next batch of Slim Chickens openings: Boparan Restaurant Group (BRG) has confirmed four further openings under the Slim Chickens brand in the UK, in Leicester, Liverpool, Milton Keynes and London’s Bishopsgate. As previously revealed by Propel, the company will open in Leicester’s Highcross scheme, Liverpool ONE, at 224 Bishopsgate in the City, and in Avebury Boulevard, Milton Keynes. All four new sites are set to open simultaneously on Monday, 4 July, and brings the brand’s UK portfolio up to 26 sites. It follows recent openings for Slim Chickens in Brighton, Bristol and London’s Cambridge Circus. The group said it continues “to work to a strong pipeline of openings, with non-traditional concepts including drive-thru locations planned for later in the year”. The business said the four new restaurants “will each occupy premium, 2,500-plus square-foot locations, with new interior schemes referencing the brand’s US roots with exposed brick, industrial beams and the brand’s signature red colourway”. Satnam Leihal, chief executive of BRG, said: “We are delighted to be opening four new sites on 4 July, an incredibly special day in the US, where the Slim Chickens brand was born. As we now raise Slims in the UK, demand is overwhelming, which is why we are working to an ambitious growth pipeline here in the UK, and it’s fantastic to see such a positive response from customers.” BRG recently partnered with Bourne Leisure to roll out its Slim Chickens brand in UK holiday parks. The first opening under the new deal was at the Haven holiday park in Hafan Y Mor, Wales.
Tasty Korea secures second restaurant site in London: Operator and events catering business Tasty Korea has secured a second restaurant site in London. The company has taken a new lease on a 3,132 square-foot site at 29 Kensington High Street. The company is set to launch a new concept at the site, which will consist of a restaurant, lounge/bar, grocery store, karaoke room and music studio. Tasty Korea currently operates Hanrue Restaurant in Kensington High Street and a delivery kitchen in Waterloo. Louie Gazdar, of DCL, acted on behalf of the landlord on the 29 Kensington High Street deal.
Miznon confirms July launch for London debut: Miznon, the Mediterranean-inspired street food concept created by chef Eyal Shani, has confirmed it will make its London debut next month. Propel revealed in March the concept had applied to open on the former Pret A Manger site at 8-12 Broadwick Street, Soho. Miznon will now open on Friday, 15 July, offering dishes such as lamb kebab with grilled tomato, onions, tahini spices and pickles; and “minute steak” flashed and served with tahini, salsa, spices, tomato and fresh parsley. Shani said: “I feel like Alice in Wonderland entering London, and I look forward to seeing how the magic we bring can put colour in the city’s story. I feel passionate about bringing the beautiful spirit of London into my pita, and already feel inspired by the colour and creativity of this magical land.” Miznon first opened in Tel Aviv in 2011 and has since expanded to Paris, Vienna, New York, Melbourne, Singapore and Boston. Shani and partner Shahar Segal also operate Port Said, Romano, North Abraxas, HaSalon and Malka in Tel Aviv.
Former Crepeaffaire operations director opens second south coast site: Jon Abrahams, formerly operations director at Crepeaffaire and Le Pain Quotidien, has opened his second restaurant on the south coast, in Brighton. The all-day concept Kooks has opened in the city’s Gardner Street, in the North Laines. Since taking over the business, Abraham’s has added a delivery service and started providing an evening service at the weekend which are “getting some traction”. Abraham, who was operations director at crepe concept Crepeaffaire for a year and a half, launched his debut restaurant, Jonny’s, in Worthing, West Sussex, in 2019.
Honest Burgers switches to Uber Eats: Honest Burgers, the Active Partners-backed business, has signed an exclusive delivery deal with Uber Eats. The new partnership will see 43 of Honest Burgers sites making delivery available via the Uber Eats app. Matthew Price, general manager at Uber Eats UK said: “Honest Burgers is a hugely popular, pioneering burger restaurant which delivers exceptional quality. We are really excited that it is now exclusively available for delivery via Uber Eats, so whether you’re looking to tuck into a juicy, sustainably sourced beef patty or if you're craving a meat free alternative, Honest Burgers and Uber Eats has got you covered.” Frank Hayes, chief executive at Honest Burgers, said: “At Honest Burgers, we are keen to continue to grow our delivery business and to offer our customers a great experience and maximum convenience in this important channel. As a result we are really excited to partner with Uber Eats given our aligned growth ambitions, their logistics expertise and the recent launch of their Uber One loyalty program.” Honest Burgers recently announced its switch to using regeneratively farmed British beef in partnership with farming collective GrassRoots, a move which the company said transforms its supply chain to reduce its carbon footprint and the environmental impact of eating beef.
Morty & Bob’s confirms Kensal Rise opening: Cafe and bar concept Morty & Bob’s, which is backed by Edition Capital, has confirmed it is to open a second restaurant in London, in Kensal Rise. As revealed earlier this month by Propel, the concept, which is the brainchild of Charlie Phillips and Jesse Bliss, will open a circa 65-cover site at 118 College Road later this summer. The business opened a restaurant and bar site at Coal Drops Yard in King’s Cross in 2018 having closed its original site in Hackney. It followed this in 2019 with the opening of a hot sandwich bar in the newly refurbished food court opposite the Apple store in Westfield White City. It is thought the Kensal Rise opening is part of plans to add four new restaurants within the next two years. In 2019, the business secured a £650,000 investment from Edition.
Spanish siblings launch delivery-only debut restaurant: Spanish siblings Gabriel Larraz and Marta Verdu have launched their debut restaurant, the delivery-only Broken Eggs, with a dark kitchen in London’s Fitzrovia. The tortilla, charcuterie and snacks-led offering is available now on Deliveroo in the central London area. Gabriel, a former investment banker, and his half-sister have lived in London for 11 years, and both used cooking “as a way to feel closer to home”. They chose to launch as delivery-only as “they want Broken Eggs to give people a way to connect with each other through food, and to make people feel like they are home”. The tortillas come in a range of flavours, to which can be added artisan ciabatta from Sciascia Storey Bakery, or plates of Manchego cheese and Iberico ham. Other classic Spanish dishes will be added to the menu as the concept grows. Larraz said: “I grew up eating tortillas at my grandmother’s house, but also at bars with my friends, so I have a lot of memories associated with the dish. With Broken Eggs, I saw an opportunity to create something personal and unique, but importantly, something truly and authentically Spanish.” All orders are wrapped in sustainable packaging including boxes that are made from seaweed and completely compostable.
Ghanaian-British restaurateur launches crowdfunding campaign to support opening of pan-African concept: Ghanaian-British restaurateur Akwasi Brenya-Mensa has launched a crowdfunding campaign to support the opening of his debut London restaurant and bar next month. Brenya-Mensa is aiming to raise £50,000 on Kickstarter as he prepares to open Tatale on Thursday, 14 July. The funds will be used to cover the initial set-up costs of the restaurant. Celebrating African flavours and “chop bar” cooking traditions, the venue will be based at The Africa Centre, a charity that has recently moved to Gunpowder House in Southwark. The concept aims to “tell stories through food, art and culture” and takes its name from a Ghanaian plantain pancake. Brenya-Mensa has spent the first half of 2022 gathering cultural knowledge of the cuisines, with his travels taking him to Puerto Rico, Ghana, Germany, the Netherlands, Ireland and Portugal. The opening follows more than a year of experimenting with dishes at pop-ups and festivals. Dishes will include chichinga buttermilk fried chicken wings and dill emulsion from Ghana; ackee Croquettes and curry emulsion from the Caribbean; and red snapper moqueca with onion and tarragon from Brazil. The 33-cover restaurant and 100-cover bar will be situated on the ground and first floors, with an outside street-level terrace and balcony.
Cycas to take over management of design-led Marriott hotel: Pan-European hotel operator Cycas Hospitality has signed an agreement to take over the management of the Bankside Hotel, part of Marriott International’s Autograph Collection, this month. This comes after the hotel was acquired by Vertiq Capital, a private equity investor group active in the sector across Europe. Located on London’s South Bank, the 161-room boutique hotel offers an artist-in-residence programme from its ground floor gallery space as well as “eclectic artwork” throughout. It also houses all-day restaurant Art Yard Bar & Kitchen, a private dining room, an outdoor terrace area, a gym, and four meeting rooms. Cycas has appointed Zac Pearse as general manager, who joins from Malmaison London. having previously managed hotels with the deVere Group and Guoman and Thistle hotels. Matt Luscombe, chief executive officer at Cycas Hospitality, said: “We’re proud to have added our first luxury property, the intimate Bankside Hotel, to our fast-growing portfolio, and very excited to be working with Marriott International on one of its most prestigious London hotels.”