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Tue 12th Jul 2022 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Starbucks sets out need to reinvent company, with partners’ well-being a priority: Starbucks founder Howard Shultz has set out the need to reinvent the company because he believes it’s not designed for the future. Schultz unveiled his vision for the future of the business – including a focus on shared power, advancement and opportunity for its partners – in a letter to the company’s partners. Schultz said: “It has long been my deep belief that together we can – and do – play an important part in creating positive change, for partners and our communities. However, like so much of the world right now, the Starbucks business as it is built today is not set up to fully satisfy the evolving behaviours, needs and expectations of our partners or customers. It is not designed for the future we aspire to for ourselves and the communities in which we serve. Today, we find ourselves in a position where we must modernise and transform the Starbucks experience in our stores and recreate an environment that is relevant, welcoming and safe, and where we uplift one another with dignity, respect and kindness. We need to reinvent Starbucks for the future, and to be successful, it will take our collective courage to begin again. We are now laying the foundation for the next Starbucks – a company even more true to our shared mission: To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighbourhood at a time.” Although specific programmes and initiatives will be unveiled in the coming weeks, Schultz revealed some guiding principles gained through surveys and direct conversation with partners. These include creating a safe and welcoming work environment; advancement and opportunity for partners; investing in the mental, physical and financial health of partners; and the sharing of both power and accountability. It will also look to “reimagine” its store experience for “greater connection and ease”, and “reconnect” with its customers by “delivering memorable and personalised moments”. Starbucks has come in for criticism in recent months following tensions with its US workers looking to unionise. Schultz, who returned to lead Starbucks for a third time earlier this year, will remain interim chief executive until early next year.

Industry News:

Sponsored message – Hospitality Rising hits almost 200 investors: The team behind Hospitality Rising would like to thank the scores of sector companies that are already backing the campaign. The initiative aims to unite the industry and create the biggest sector recruitment advertising ever seen. Not listed below? What’s stopping you? Supporters include HOP Vietnamese, Hospitality Data Insights, Hotel Co 51 (Moxy), Humble Grape, Ignite, Interchange & Consort Hotels/Best Western, Julian Church Associates, Jurys Hotel Management (Leonardo Royal Hotel London St Pauls), Jurys Hotel Management (The Midland, Manchester), Jurys Hotel Management (Leonardo Hotel Bristol City), Jurys Hotel Management (NYX Hotel London Holborn), Knot Pretzels, Koop + Kraft, Lauderdale Holidays/Islington Hotel, Leaf Hospitality, Lesley Brett, Lime Wood Group, Lisini Pub Co, Livelyhood Pub Group, Lord Barnard/Raby Estates, Manorview, Market Halls Group, Marugame Udon, Maybourne Hotel Group (Claridges), Milo’s Restaurants, Montpeliers Edinburgh, Monty Accounting, Nathan Outlaw Consultancy, NFS Technology and North Shore Golf Club (Skegness). The campaign has raised £700,000-plus and is now in the creative planning phase and aims to launch nationally in September, with a flood of support still coming in. Back Hospitality Rising today from just £10 per employee here. If you have a sponsored story you would like to see featured in this newsletter position, email
Next edition of Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book shows sector losses of £5.8bn: The next edition of Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book, produced in association with Mapal Group, shows the effects of the pandemic, with total losses of £5.8bn being reported by 344 companies. However, a further 246 sector companies are still reporting total profits of £1.2bn. The next edition will include 590 companies, which produce total turnover of £28.6bn. The next edition will be sent to Premium subscribers on Friday (15 July), at midday. The Blue Book, which is updated every month, provides an insight into UK operator turnover and profitability over five years, profit conversion and directors’ earnings. Premium subscribers also receive the New Openings Database, produced in association with StarStock, and the Multi-Site Operators Database, produced in association with Virgate, which are also updated each month. Premium subscribers also now have access to the UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database, which is an exhaustive guide to the companies offering a food and beverage franchise in the UK and will be updated every two months. Companies can now have an unlimited number of people receive access to Propel Premium for a year for £895 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or a supplier. The single subscription rate is £445 plus VAT for operators and £545 plus VAT for suppliers. Email to upgrade your subscription. Subscribers also receive access to Propel’s library of lockdown videos and Friday Wrap interviews and also have access to a curated video library of the sector’s finest leaders and entrepreneurs, offering their insights on running outstanding businesses in the sector. Premium subscribers also receive their morning newsletter 11 hours early, at 7pm the evening before our 6am send-out; regular video content and regular exclusive columns from Propel group editor Mark Wingett.

Spending on dining and drinking out continues to slow amid cost-of-living squeeze: Spending on dining and drinking out in June continued to slow as the cost-of-living squeeze impacts consumer spending. According to the latest data from Barclaycard, spending in restaurants was up 0.8% month-on-month but down 3.3% year-on-year while in bars, pubs and clubs, spending was flat month-on-month. Takeaways and fast food did see increases, recording growth of 2.3% month-on-month and 9.4% year-on-year respectively. The entertainment industry benefited from blockbuster bookings at the cinema, as Brits went to see Top Gun: Maverick and Jurassic World Dominion, resulting in a 5.3% boost compared with May 2022. Hotels, resorts and accommodation saw monthly growth of 3.3% as holidaymakers booked getaways for the summer. Overall, consumer card spending grew 6.2% in June compared with the same period in 2021, inflated both by the rising cost of living, and spending on essentials, with spending on utilities jumping 39.6% year-on-year. More Brits (91%) than last month (88%) are concerned about the negative impact of rising household bills on their personal finances. Consumers are also feeling less optimistic about their ability to live within their means (66% versus 71% in May), and their ability to spend on non-essential items (48% versus 54%). In addition, confidence in the future of the UK economy has decreased slightly to 25%, down from 27% in May.
UKHospitality calls for abolition of late-night levy: UKHospitality has called for abolition of the late-night levy, saying it has no obvious meaningful benefits and is hindering the sector’s recovery. The levy was introduced by the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011, allowing licensing authorities to charge premises that operate late at night an additional fee. The money generated from these funds is then used to contribute to the costs of policing the late-night economy. But its usefulness has been called into question in the new House of Lords select committee follow-up report on the Licensing Act 2003: Post-Legislative Scrutiny. In response to the report, UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “We support the recommendation the government should consult the industry and affected stakeholders on the efficacy of the late-night levy. Unless some meaningful benefits can be identified, we strongly believe the levy should be abolished as soon as practically possible to aid the sector’s recovery. This is critical time for the sector as it strives to rebuild after the pandemic under the most challenging conditions. The new report recognises while things are improving in licensing and signs of more co-ordination and partnerships are emerging, some areas of inconsistency remain.” Some local authorities have already looked into scrapping the levy. Nottingham City Council announced in May its licensing committee is assessing whether to revoke it in order to reduce the “financial burden” on businesses and “revitalise” the city’s night-time economy. 
Hunt to take over from Scully as business minister: Jane Hunt has been appointed as business minister taking over from Paul Scully, who has been moved to a role as minister of state at the department for levelling up, housing and communities. Hunt, who has been MP for Loughborough since 2019, will like Scully have responsibility for sectors including hospitality. She has been parliamentary private secretary to the Chancellor of Duchy of Lancaster since September 2021. On the back of Hunt’s appointment, UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls tweeted: “Congratulations and look forward to working with Jane Hunt on hospitality strategy and consumer affairs.” Scully, who held the business minister post from 2020, remains minister for London. JW Lees managing director William Lees-Jones tweeted: “We’ll miss you Paul. Thanks for listening and for understanding the perils that hospitality felt at the height of the crisis. It’s still not over and I hope Jane Hunt will continue to engage with the sector.”
Lord – footfall across Greater Manchester above expectations, but still a long way to go: Sacha Lord, the night-time economy adviser for Greater Manchester, has praised the city-region’s strength and resilience as figures show footfall is outpacing London in its recovery, but warned “there is still a long way to go”. The latest data released by CGA and Wireless Social, which combines sales and device log-in data to assess the footfall performance of Britain’s ten most populous cities, revealed Manchester ranked third in its hospitality recovery behind Glasgow and Bristol. Lord said: “This data shows that we’re moving in the right direction, despite the economic difficulties currently being faced by the leisure, tourism and hospitality sectors. Not only are we seeing a tourism boost as a result of the unique and cultural events Manchester has to offer, but we’re also seeing good recovery in the day time trade for hospitality, buoyed by lunchtime and after work sales, as offices continue to attract employees back. There’s no doubt we’ve seen a shift in working patterns, and flexibility is something we continue to support, but I believe there’s a real opportunity now for the sector to adapt and offer points of differences, not just on Saturday and Sunday but throughout the week. The heatwave across the weeks ahead will also provide a boost and bring much-needed confidence back to the sector. But while footfall in the city centre and across our urban boroughs is above expectations, there is still a long way to go. We need to ensure that amid the Westminster drama and politics, small and medium businesses remain supported, and the ‘levelling up’ strategy is brought back on to the agenda – it’s a topic that has fallen off a cliff.”
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a hotel in Dublin that is looking for an experienced hotel manager/general manager. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “They will have overall responsibility for customer management and the day-to-day operation of the hotel while contributing to the overall achievement of business goals; ensuring consistent standards of service are maintained. They will contribute to the profitability of the property through the monitoring of revenue and budgets, management of the team, and maintaining effective cost controls. They will create an environment where the team are motivated and encouraged to maximise sales.” The salary is up to €110,000. For more information, email

Company News:

Burger & Lobster founder winds up Neyba after unsuccessful search for right lead investor: Neyba, the “multi-cuisine kitchen and grocer” concept from Burger & Lobster founder Misha Zelman which was launched earlier this year, has been wound up, Propel has learned. The decision was made after an unsuccessful search for a lead investor with the correct profile to take the business forward. The concept, which saw well-known chefs collaborate on a multi-cuisine menu in one place, opened its first site in London’s Westbourne Grove, earlier this year. It subsequently launched a £15m Series A funding round, with plans to get to 14 sites across the capital including in Chelsea, Clapham, Hampstead, Islington, Wimbledon Village and Dulwich. Propel understands that despite the first site being successful, without the investment to scale and while the owners reassess where it goes from here, they felt it was best practice to wind it up. It is thought in terms of a lead investor, that despite interest, the company couldn’t find one with the correct profile and its experience. Partnered chefs at the Westbourne Grove site included Tony Singh (south and north Indian curries), Miguel Barclay (Miguel’s Pizza) and Yoko Nakada (Makes Miso Hungry), while an exclusive cook-at-home Japanese dish has been created by Endo Kazotushi for takeaway and delivery.
Crossley – exiting the business will only be considered in an environment in which the potential of Turtle Bay is fully valued: Nick Crossley, chief executive of Caribbean restaurant brand Turtle Bay, has told Propel that for its shareholders, exiting the business will only be considered in an environment in which the group’s potential is “fully valued”. Earlier this year, Propel revealed Turtle Bay had appointed advisors as it seeks a new investment partner to help drive its further growth ambitions, with Rothschild & Co overseeing the process. Earlier this week, the 44-strong company reported its highest ever sales – £85.4m in the year ended 27 March 2022, with adjusted Ebitda standing at £17.8m (2021: £1.7m). Crossley told Propel: “The business continues to trade strongly and well ahead of the market. Clearly, the macro environment has changed materially over recent weeks and months but the shareholders remain very supportive of management’s growth plans. Exiting the business will only be considered in an environment in which the potential of Turtle Bay is fully valued.” The business said it aims to open 40 new sites over the next five years, and Crossley said nothing has changed his view the brand can more than double in size in the UK. He said: “Our growth plans continue at pace, and we are looking forward to several new openings in the current financial year. Our research has validated the business has the potential to triple in size in the UK.” In terms of returning to overseas expansion, after the business previously operated a couple of sites in Germany. Crossley said: “We really believe Turtle Bay has the potential to thrive internationally. Our current priority lies in exploring the considerable expansion opportunity in the UK, but we will continue to review international opportunities over time.” The company will open in Salford Quays this August, followed by Brindleyplace (Birmingham) in September and Romford shortly after.
Veg Capital invests in SpiceBox retail subsidiary: Vegan investment fund Veg Capital has made an investment into the retail subsidiary of vegan Indian restaurant business SpiceBox. The new funds will support the development of a new ready-to-eat curry range set to launch later this year and increase retail footprint. Founded in 2016 by Grace Regan, SpiceBox produces fully vegan dishes using the same ingredients and recipes as used in the London restaurants. The first retail product, a ready-to-eat dhal range, was launched in Planet Organic in January this year and is now available at CLF, Cotswold Fayre and Wholegood, and imminently at Ocado Zoom. Regan said: “It’s fantastic to partner with Veg Capital to help grow the retail arm of our business. It’s so important for us to have investors who share in our mission of protecting the environment and people’s health. We plan to use the investment to help grow our presence in retailers nationwide and launch a new range of products in the autumn.” Veg Capital managing director Matthew Glover added: “I met Grace at a Vevolution Pitch & Plant event a couple of years ago and was struck by her business savvy and our shared love of a good curry. We are excited to support SpiceBox grow its range of vegan curries to give British consumers access to delicious, healthy versions of our well-loved adopted national dishes.” In January, SpiceBox, which started out five years ago as a street food stall, closed its campaign on crowdfunding platform Seedrs to open a third site after raising more than £360,000. Regan opened her first SpiceBox site in Walthamstow in 2019, followed by a second, in Leytonstone, in October last year.
Snowfox Group trials new concept Uzuzu in Middle East: Snowfox Group, which owns the YO!, Taiko and Bento brands, has launched the trial of a new concept called Uzuzu By YO! in the Middle East, Propel has learned. The Richard Hodgson-led business has launched the trial site in the new Forsan Central Mall, Abu Dhabi. It is a beltless concept and the company said it will build on the popularity of the YO! brand and food in the UAE. The concept’s name comes from Japanese onomatopoeia – Uzu Uzu becomes Uzuzu because of the double vowel and means “itching to get started”. The food offered is Japanese and a mixture of sushi, street food and robata grill, and is made for sharing. Earlier this year, Snowfox Group opened the 100th concession site under its pan-Asian street food concept Panku. The opening in the Asda Mount Pleasant superstore saw Panku hit the milestone two years after its launch. 
Shaker Group eyes five more sites in next three years as it acquires first Star Pubs & Bars lease: Shaker Group is eyeing five more sites in the next three years as it acquired its first Star Pubs & Bars lease with Heineken. Established in 2001 by husband-and-wife team Adam and Theresa Freeth, Shaker Group is a hospitality consultancy, training and events company that also operates venues including The Orangery, Gas Street Social and Old Rectory House in the Midlands, and Shaker & Company in London’s Euston. It has now acquired The White Hart in Redditch, together with group operations manager Victoria Coliandris, which the team will reopen in September following a £400,000 joint refurbishment with Star. Adam said: “We will grow our estate as and when members of our team are ready to take on sites. With our background of running our own restaurant, pubs and hotels together with our consultancy expertise, we can help ambitious team members progress to the next level. We’ve had our eye on the White Hart for ten years – it’s a fantastic pub in a great location with the potential for multiple income streams. If it works well, we hope to look at other Star pubs in the future for our expansion plans.” The investment will see the pub rebranded as The Hart at Headless Cross and introduce a menu of homemade pub classics. A large courtyard for alfresco dining will double the pub’s capacity, while an upstairs cocktail bar for 40 will open in time for Christmas. This will be followed in 2023 by a function space for up to 200 guests. Phil Mardon, Star Pubs & Bars’ area manager, added: “It’s great to have The Shaker Group on board, and I look forward to building a long-term relationship.”
Brunning & Price founder Jerry Brunning opens fourth site under Pubs Limited vehicle: Jerry Brunning, co-founder of Brunning & Price, has opened a fourth site under his Pubs Limited vehicle. Propel revealed in February that Brunning, who founded Brunning & Price with Graham Price, had acquired the Big Hand Alehouse in Watergate Street, Chester. For many years, it was known as The Fat Cat, which closed in 2013 following the collapse of its parent company of the same name. Since then, there have been several short-lived incarnations at the site, most recently Big Hand Alehouse in 2018, operated by the Wrexham brewery of the same name. The pub has now reopened as The Henry Potts following a major investment, and under the stewardship of experienced publican Jonney Cox, who launched Brunning’s Hare at Farndon in 2020. Cox said: “We have an exciting offer with Potts. Everyone loves a village pub, and we see Potts working in the same way – as a top-class local pub in the city while being very welcoming to visitors.” The pub is named after the grade II-listed building’s first owner, who was clerk of the peace for Cheshire when it was built in 1820. Many of its original features, including alcoves, beams and posts, have been retained. Brunning’s other pubs are The Swan at Marbury and The Black Bear in Whitchurch.
Balfour Hospitality adds East Sussex pub to its growing estate: Balfour Hospitality, the parent company of Hush Heath Inns, the managed joint venture between Stonegate and Hush Heath Estate, has added The Greyhound Inn in East Sussex to its portfolio. The pub in the village of Wadhurst becomes the group’s 11th site. The company is currently gearing up to reopen the Bow Wine Vaults in the City, which will become the Balfour at Bow and offer the “perfect opportunity to showcase fantastic homegrown wine, straight from the Balfour Winery” – its award-winning winery in Staplehurst, Kent. Last year, the company, which is owned by the Balfour-Lynn family, opened its first site in the Cotswolds after taking on a pub and boutique hotel, the Falcon Inn, in Painswick. Balfour Hospitality also currently operates pubs and hotels across central London, East Sussex and Kent.
Jason Atherton departs Biltmore Mayfair: Chef Jason Atherton has left The Biltmore Mayfair following a three-year partnership in an “amicable parting of ways”. Atherton, of the Social Company, has led the offerings at the hotel’s dining outlets, Café Biltmore and The Tea Lounge, since it opened in 2019 – bringing his “classic training and innovative use of modern British ingredients”. Executive chef Paul Walsh will be taking over from September, having worked under Atherton for more than a decade, working in Restaurant Gordon Ramsay and launching fine wine establishment 28-50. Walsh said: “I’m excited to be taking over from Jason fully at one of Mayfair’s prime hotels, working with the team at The Biltmore and hope to carry on delivering signature dishes for both our international and London guests to enjoy, as well as developing new menus to put my stamp on this new chapter.”
The Rocksalt Group sells Folkestone fish and chip restaurant: Kent operator The Rocksalt Group has sold its fish and chip restaurant, The Smokehouse, in Folkestone to new owners. The Rocksalt Group is owned by Josh De Haan, and includes eight other venues – Rocksalt Restaurant, The Wife of Bath, The Duke William, The Five Bells Inn, The Radnor Arms, The Woolpack Inn, The Pilot Bar and Little Rock. A statement on The Smokehouse website said: “The Smokehouse in Folkestone Harbour is no longer under the ownership of The Rocksalt Group, and is trading as a separate business.” Chef Mark Sargeant was previously a partner in The Rocksalt Group until 2021, when he left citing “unresolvable differences” with De Haan.
Gipsy Hill closes crowdfunding campaign after raising almost £900,000: South London brewery Gipsy Hill has closed its crowdfunding campaign after raising almost £900,000. One of London’s largest independent and employee-owned breweries, Gipsy Hill was founded nine years ago and was crowdfunding for the first time to further increase its efficiency and capacity and invest in sustainability initiatives. It was aiming to raise £500,000 and was offering 2.93% equity for the investment, giving a pre-money valuation of £20.9m. The campaign has now closed having raised £899,464 from 623 investors. Gipsy Hill reported FY2021 sales growth of 23%, with revenue totalling £3.89m and adjusted Ebitda of £407,000. It currently has brand partnerships with street food collective Kerb, Pizza Pilgrims, Gousto and DJ BBQ, and is working on a project to produce a zero offset, carbon negative beer. The company, which delivered two million pints in 2021, is aiming to more than double its production to five million pints per year. It also wants to invest in new equipment to improve efficiency and quality and double the size of its on-site taproom over the next 18 months. The company is led by co-founder and chief executive Sam McMeekin, while among the investors on board in the funding round are Meantime Brewery founder Alistair Hook.
UK property investment company acquires Burger King and KFC drive-thru restaurants at North Yorkshire retail park for £3m: UK property investment company, Custodian REIT, has bought two drive-thru restaurants at a North Yorkshire retail park for £3m. The units on Clifton Moor Retail Park in York are occupied by Burger King and KFC franchisees and have an aggregate passing rent of £163,250 per annum, reflecting a net initial yield of 5.07%. The acquisition was funded from Custodian REIT’s existing debt facilities. Richard Shepherd-Cross, managing director of Custodian Capital – the buyer’s discretionary investment manager – said: “The drive-thru sector continues to show considerable growth, which we believe will drive rents over the medium term resulting in an increasingly attractive yield.”
Greene King launches week of well-being activities for staff: Brewer and retailer Greene King has launched a range of activities and classes to support its employees’ health and wellness as part its annual Well-being Week. This year’s activities, which takes place during a cost-of-living crisis, will have a heavy focus on financial well-being, and the company has offered a free webinar to advise on protecting and managing personal finances. Other areas employees will explore include mental, physical, and social well-being, including exercise workshops and health checks. The activities will complement the brand’s existing support packages, which includes an app that allows access to 50% of wages ahead of pay day, and a confidential advice and counselling programme. Employees can also enjoy a 33% discount on all food and drink across the Greene King estate, and up to 50% off the best room rate available in Greene King hotels across the UK. Andrew Bush, chief people and talent officer at Greene King, said: “Greene King is first and foremost a people business, so it’s essential we make the mental and physical well-being of all our team members a top priority. We are incredibly proud of the year-round support available to our team members, and Well-being Week is the perfect time to make sure everyone, no matter what function of the business they work in, is aware of these and takes full advantages of the fantastic resources available to them.”
Caprice Holdings reveals details of upcoming Scott’s on the River opening: The Richard Caring-backed Caprice Holdings has revealed details of its upcoming new Scott’s on the River site, which will open in London’s Richmond later this autumn. As Propel revealed in May last year, Caring has taken on the former Revolutions site in Whittaker Avenue for a Scott’s on the River concept he has been toying with for a while. The riverside restaurant will span across two floors; the lower with an “impressive crustacean bar serving oysters, wine, Champagne and cocktails, as well as the upstairs with its central bar hosting DJs every Thursday to Saturday, appealing to a younger audience”. A 32-cover terrace will offer “outstanding views and the perfect backdrop for year-round al fresco dining”, and offer diners “the most direct views of the River Thames”. Open seven days a week for lunch and dinner, the kitchen will be overseen by chef director Tim Hughes and head chef Tom Fraser. Hughes said: “We are very excited to open Scott’s in the heart of Richmond. The opportunity to have a great seafood restaurant on the river is very special considering the Thames’ history as a gateway for fish merchants. It is the first time we have ventured out of the heartland of Mayfair, and I cannot wait to celebrate the opening with locals, visitors and regulars alike.”
The Gym Group continues rapid expansion with Woking site: The Gym Group, the operator of 211 gyms, has opened a new site in Woking, Surrey. The 11,500 square-foot gym, which is located in Victoria Place, is fitted with a wide range of exercise equipment and open round the clock. Oliver Tester, head of property acquisition at The Gym Group, said: “We are excited about this latest gym opening, demonstrating the progress we are making towards reaching our target of 300-plus sites across the UK by 2025. We are committed to providing high quality and affordable health and fitness to all our members, both old and new.” Cllr Ann-Marie Barker, leader of Woking Borough Council, added: “The community is at the forefront of everything we do in Woking. Offering residents and visitors the opportunity to access an affordable, high-quality gym is a key part of that.” JLL and Nash Bond acted for Victoria Place. Price Property Consultants acted for The Gym Group. Last week, The Gym Group opened its fourth Nottingham site.
London-based African spirits group raises $3m to fund entry into US market: London-based African spirits group Spearhead has raised $3m to fund its entry into the US market. Its funding has come from Pendulum, a strategic investment and advisory platform for founders and leaders of colour, and will also allow Spearhead to accelerate its global reach, introduce new product lines and scale marketing efforts. Spearhead was launched in March 2021 when co-founders Chris Frederick, a former international basketball player and NBA agent, and brand and marketing expert Damola Timeyin noticed a lack of diversity in the spirits category. Their spirits, which have sold 35,000 units since launching to market, are distilled with botanicals from across the continent, highlighting the unique flavours of many of Africa's different terrains and countries. Frederick said: “With a lack of black-owned African spirits brands exported globally, we have made it our mission to connect the world to Africa through our spirits. Pendulum’s investment will allow us to realise this vision globally.” Robbie Robinson, co-founder and chief executive of Pendulum, added: “We couldn’t be more excited to work with Spearhead and its founders. With this investment, we’re also thrilled to partner with Kenny Burns and Donae Burston, long-time industry veterans, to propel Spearhead’s growth and launch into the US market.”
Kent husband-and-wife team acquire third site: Kent husband-and-wife team Darren and Nong Sterling-Weller have acquired their third site in the county. They have bought the former Stag Coffee site in Ashford High Street and will reopen it later this summer as Wonder Coffee, which by night will become a second branch for Thai takeaway, Tilucks Thai. The Sterling-Wellers acquired Tilucks in Sandgate High Street three years ago, then bought the Paper Duck world buffet in Ashford’s North Street in February and changed the menu to include Thai dishes. They hope to have the keys for the new business later this month and plan to only make minor changes to the coffee shop during the day. “We are not changing it a lot, we are just changing the coffee we’ll use and the name,” Darren told Kent Live. “It will be called Wonder Coffee and Tilucks. Two of my managers have got a coffee factory and a plantation in Bangladesh called Wonder Coffee, so we are going to be importing it and selling it. Then we will turn the property into a Thai restaurant and takeaway in the evening and serve Tilucks’ food. There will be two or three Thai chefs in the evening, so it will be traditional, just like it is in Sandgate.” Stag Coffee was opened in Ashford in 2016 by founder Freddie Hewett, who added a Tex-Mex takeaway service last year. He also opened a branch in Canterbury, which will remain unchanged under his ownership.

Franco Manca opens second Edinburgh site in former PizzaExpress unit: Franco Manca, the Fulham Shore-owned sourdough pizza brand, has opened a second Edinburgh site. The restaurant has opened in Stocksbridge, overlooking the Water of Leith, in a former bank that was most recently occupied by PizzaExpress. It follows a debut site for Franco Manca in the Scottish capital, which opened in South St Andrew Street in 2019, and which the company said regularly welcomes up to 2,000 customers a week. Simone Annette, area manager at Franco Manca, said: “Following the success of our Edinburgh debut in South St Andrew Street, we wanted to offer pizza lovers even more choice with the launch of an incredible new location.” Fulham Shore currently operates 66 UK Franco Manca sites, with seven more “coming soon”. The company, which also operates The Real Greek, said last month further Franco Manca sites are being fitted out in Peterborough, Hove and Windsor, as well as three in Greater Manchester. It has also exchanged contracts on sites for Franco Manca in Lincoln, and for The Real Greek in Gloucester Quays. It is on track to open 11 new restaurants in the first half of this financial year to March 2023, which will go some way to reach its total target of 18 sites for the whole year.

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