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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Fri 15th Jul 2022 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Foodservice inflation tops 10% for fourth successive month, not expected to fall below 7% before second quarter of next year: Inflation in the foodservice sector topped 10% for the fourth successive month in May, the new edition of the CGA by NielsenIQ and Prestige Foodservice Price Index revealed. All ten of the Index’s food and drink categories recorded both year-on-year and quarter-on-quarter inflation in the month. The oil and fats (up 3.7%), dairy and fruit categories are seeing the highest rates of year-on-year increases. The report predicted there is little chance that inflation will fall below 7% until at least the second quarter of 2023 – and may yet rise further over the remaining months of 2022. The key factors driving inflation include Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the mounting costs of energy and supply. War in Ukraine has severely disrupted the supply of food staples including grain and oil, and pushed up the costs of production and distribution via higher crude oil prices and restricted gas supply. Foodservice is also facing increased wage bills, with UK job vacancies reaching 1.3 million in May, while various micro supply and demand issues continue to affect prices in many areas. Prestige Purchasing chief executive Shaun Allen said: “High levels of inflation are clearly around for the long haul. Our analysis shows the delta between operators with average versus good market pricing is now more than 9%, which is about three percentage points of gross margin.” James Ashurst, client director at CGA by NielsenIQ, added: “Inflation now hasn’t been below double digits since January, and the relentless pressure on prices is squeezing businesses across the food and drink sector. With the war in Ukraine and consumers’ cost-of-living crisis mounting, we must expect challenges to get worse before they get better.”

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 Not Another Beer Co/Lucky Saint, Ole & Steen (Danish Bake UK), Online Media Experts (Whitbread), Open House London, Ottolenghi, Panang (St Vincent Street), Pandox UK (Hilton Garden Inn LHR), Pantechnicon London, PAUL-UK, Peach Pubs, Pho Trading, Pizza Pilgrims, Platform, pointOne, Pollocks Pub Co, Pret, Propeller, Pubs Limited, Punch Pubs, Red Cup Cafe, Resident Hotels, Revolution Bars Group, Richmond Hill Hotel, Rick Stein, Rocco Forte & Family, Rola Wala, Rosa's Thai, Roslyn's Group, Riley's Sports Bars/WPC7, S4labour, Santuario/Sanzio, Savvy Hotel Group, Sessions Market, Simon Parsons/SPE Connect, Smithfield Agency, Soho House, SPE Resourcing, St John Group and State of Play Hospitality. 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


Latest edition of Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book being sent to Premium subscribers today: The latest edition of the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which is produced in association with Mapal Group, will be sent to Premium subscribers today (Friday, 15 July), at midday. The Blue Book, which now features 590 companies, 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 590 UK pub, restaurant, cafe and hotel operators featured have a total turnover of £28.6bn. In the next edition, 33 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 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. In this week’s Premium Opinion, which will be sent tomorrow at 5pm, he delves into the trading updates from Loungers and JD Wetherspoon, and looks at the departure of Jill McDonald from Costa.

Further rail strikes will be ‘catastrophic’ for sector, trade down ‘up to 40%’ during previous walkouts: The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) has warned further rail strikes will be “catastrophic” for sector businesses, which suffered up to a 40% drop in trade during previous walkouts. Train drivers’ union Aslef announced on Thursday (14 July) that drivers from eight companies will strike on Saturday, 30 July, in a dispute over pay. It comes a day after the RMT, which covers workers such as guards and signalling staff, said it would strike on Wednesday, 27 July. All of which follows last month’s strikes involving thousands of train operator and National Rail workers, which proved damaging to a sector already facing challenges on multiple fronts. The night-time economy in particular relies heavily on the rail network to bring audiences and staff safely to and from its venues, according to the NTIA. “Our industry is suffering heavily from rising costs as inflation reaches a high, with most reporting an estimated loss of up to 40% in trade from previous strike activity,” said chief executive Michael Kill. “We must come together to support a recovery we can all benefit from, any consideration of long-term strike action would be catastrophic. Sporadic weekly or daily planned strike action is eating into consumer confidence and will lead to an irreparable loss of business and jobs, after so much hard work has been put into recovery in the last 12 months. Our sector is at a critical point in building to pre covid business levels, as we embark on one of the most important summer festival seasons.”

Restaurants continuing to serve ‘unacceptably high salt dishes’ to children: Restaurant chains are still serving unacceptably high salt dishes to children, with a worrying 34% of meals containing 2g or more of salt, according to new research by Action on Salt. The research found of 302 meals served, 43% of children’s meals exceed the maximum salt target set by the Department of Health. The group said: “Depending on where you chose to eat, a child could be consuming as much as ten times more salt for the same meal. Gourmet Burger Kitchen's cheeseburger and fries contains 4.8g salt compared with Hungry Horse's chicken burger and chips at a much more acceptable 0.8g salt. This clearly shows the food industry can easily reduce these unnecessary amounts of salt in the food.” Of the dishes that appear in both Action on Salt’s 2019 and 2022 survey, 44% have reduced salt content but 24% have also increased salt, and 33% have seen no reductions. Brands found to have made the biggest average reduction in salt content in their dishes include Burger King, Nando’s, Wagamama and PizzaExpress. Meanwhile, Gourmet Burger Kitchen and McDonald’s saw their average meal salt content rise by 7%, and Pizza Hut by 31%. The group is now calling for the government to include mandatory regulations on salt, sugar and calorie levels in food intended for child consumption. 

NTIA calls on government to continue sector deregulation: The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) has called on the government to continue with sector deregulation following the announcement that it will extend the off-sales easement for a further year. Downing Street introduced a new off-sales permission during the covid pandemic to help pubs, bars and restaurants hit by the various lockdowns and restrictions. It allowed premises licences normally only permitted to sell alcohol for consumption on the premises, to sell it for off-site consumption too. The regulatory easement, which was extended last year, was due to expire in September, but has now been extended by a further year. Michael Kill NTIA chief executive, said: “This is without a doubt a step forward, but we must also ask government to consider other areas of deregulation and easement which would support a broader range of businesses within the night time economy and hospitality sectors. These additional considerations would support the recovery of the sector by removing barriers and streamlining process to encourage investment, growth and jobs.”

Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a fast-growing and established co-working concept in London that is looking for a head of people. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “This concept has big national expansion plans and requires a proactive and passionate HR professional to join it on its growth journey. You will be able to think outside the box, explore new ways to make the company the most attractive company to be part of, promote a culture of learning and development to help inspire the team and provide the tools for personal and professional development.” The salary is up to £80,000 plus equity. For more information, email


Company News:

Simmons Bars’ sales now more than double those seen in 2019 following ‘transformational’ couple of years: Nick Campbell, founder of Simmons Bars – the London cocktail bar operator – has told Propel the past couple of years has been transformational for the 23-strong business, with sales now more than double those seen in 2019. The company, which is backed by Lonsdale Capital Partners, has opened seven sites in London since the end of lockdown, the latest being on the former Pillars of Hercules pub in Soho, and plans on opening another ten-15 in the capital over the next couple of years. Campbell told Propel: “It’s been a totally transformational 18-24 months, and FY22 was by far the group’s most successful, profitable and record-breaking year to date. Ebitda more than tripled from pre-pandemic levels. All of this was despite lockdown/restrictions affecting the start of the financial year, and then Omicron limiting our peak Christmas sales. Sales are more than double 2019, while like-for-like sales were up 50% for the majority of 2021 and are sitting well over 20% in 2022. The FY22 period saw the majority of our sites breaking their all-time record sales weeks in the year, as well as numerous record days. We continually manage to maintain very positive margins without having to make any drastic price increases, with the business’ huge growth allowing us to mitigate cost pressures. We managed to navigate a hugely challenging environment from a staffing perspective, not closing a single site through the whole of covid. We are very proud of this and believe it gives testament to the strength of our team, our resilience and ability to adapt.” The company’s head office team has grown by 50% since 2019 and it recently moved to a larger headquarters in Soho. Campbell said the company was “still very much on the expansion trail with a strong pipeline of sites”. The company will open on the former @Bar site in Clapham High Street next month, and on the ex-Parkers site in Kingsway, Holborn, in September. It has a further three sites in legals, and Campbell said there are “plenty more opportunities being followed up/bid on”. He said: “We are continuing to focus on London as we see plenty more opportunities there, but with one eye on regional expansion in key cities such as Manchester and Birmingham in the not-too-distant future. We not only made it through one of the most challenging environments the hospitality industry will ever see, but we came out the other side so much stronger. We are now looking to go from strength to strength and build on the huge momentum we’ve created.”


Hickory’s sales up 39%, confirms Rushworth as new ops director: American-style smokehouse and barbecue brand Hickory’s Smokehouse has reported that its like-for-like sales for the 50-week period since reopening fully last year are up 39% compared with the pre-covid period of 2019-20. The company, which is gearing up to open its 16th site next month, in Hutton, near Preston, said its sales are up 33% since April 2022. Hickory’s, which was recently crowned the UK’s best large employer in the “Best Large Companies To Work For 2022” awards, said it had achieved a record year of profitability. It added more sites are in the pipeline in the coming months. It comes as the company confirmed it has appointed Ben Rushworth, formerly of Bill’s, Wahaca and Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group, as its new operations director. Rushworth was most recently at Bill’s as operations director. He joined the Richard Caring-backed group from Albert Bartlett, the Spud U Like owner, where he has spent just under a year and a half as its operations director. Before that, he was senior operations at Wahaca, head of operations at Red’s and spent almost eight years at Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group. Hickory’s managing director John Welsh said: “We’re delighted to welcome Ben to the Hickory’s team. His experience and operational skills will be hugely valuable to us as we continue growing our estate. We’re so grateful to our amazing team and all our wonderful guests for their support and are actively looking for new sites so we can bring our unique Hickory’s experience to an even wider audience.” Last November, Propel revealed Hickory’s, which has been backed by Piper since 2014, had appointed advisory firm BDO to help review its funding options for its next stage of growth.


Inn Collection Group continues with plans to add up to eight new sites annually after revenue jumps 79%: The Inn Collection Group has said it is continuing with plans to add up to eight new venues a year, after seeing revenue jump 79%. The company, which has previously outlined plans to double its 30-strong portfolio, saw sales rise to £24.7m for the year ending 2 January 2022, compared with £13.8m the previous year despite trading being severely impacted by covid-19 restrictions. Pre-tax losses were up slightly to £10.7m from £10.4m, driven by another year of sizeable property investments. The group said the year was impacted by the significant effect of covid-19 as the UK went back into lockdown at the beginning of January 2021, effectively closing the hospitality sector until May. However, the period from May to December saw trade bolstered by the government reduction in VAT on food and accommodation. The group received £2.1m in support through the various government schemes. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “Significant investment continued in 2021 into the management and operating infrastructure to support execution of the long-term expansion plan and delivery of the high-quality standards and customer service levels expected throughout the group. A strong pipeline of further acquisition opportunities has been developed gradually at the time of issuing the financial statements, all at different stages of progress through to near completion. The management team and investors have increasing confidence in the potential of the existing portfolio and potential priority acquisitions.” In November, the group was sold by previous owners Alchemy Partners to a new company owned by the Harris family in conjunction with Kings Park Capital, three months after OakNorth amended its facility to give £63.5m of committed facilities to fund the refurbishment of a number of sites as well as fuel further expansion.


Crêpeaffaire appoints former McDonald’s chief franchising officer as non-executive chairman: Crepe concept Crêpeaffaire has appointed João Noronha Lopes as non-executive chairman. His appointment comes as the group gears up for growth, with ambitions to take the brand to 50-plus new locations over the next five years through a combination of company-owned and franchised openings in the UK and internationally. Crêpeaffaire has 26 UK and international sites, including ten in Saudi Arabia, Lopes is a highly experienced executive who has spent the past two decades in senior management globally. A specialist in franchising, he spent 18 years with McDonald’s – joining as director of franchising for south Europe and working his way up to corporate vice-president and chief franchising officer for the business globally – before founding VIRA Frangos and taking on additional advisory roles. Daniel Spinath, founder of Crêpeaffaire, said: “João has an unrivalled wealth of international experience in hospitality, and we are delighted to have him on board at this critical moment for our brand and its growth. He shares our vision and excitement, and I look forward to working closely with him as we take the business through its next stage of expansion, both in the UK and overseas.” Lopes added: “Crêpeaffaire’s unique positioning provides a huge opportunity for development through partnerships and franchising, both in the UK and globally.” Crêpeaffaire features in Propel’s UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database, which is available exclusively to Propel Premium subscribers. The database is an exhaustive guide to the companies offering a food and beverage franchise in the UK. The third edition will be published this month – providing insight on the offer, locations, cost, business background, contacts and other key details. It will be updated and sent out again 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.


JD Wetherspoon introduces £1.49 pints following drop in beer and cider sales: JD Wetherspoon has responded to a drop in beer and cider sales by introducing £1.49 pints at 763 of its pubs across the UK. The business reported earlier this week that while sales of spirits (up 4.4%), cocktails (up 18.6%) and food (up 2.1%) were all positive in the fourth quarter of its current financial year, sales of draught ale, lager and cider – historically the largest contributors to pub sales – were 8% below 2019. It is now serving pints of Ruddles Best (or Greene King IPA in some pubs) for the reduced price. Wetherspoon founder and chairman Tim Martin said: “Our pubs have always offered a great choice of real ale at excellent prices. At a time when prices are increasing on almost everything, we are delighted to be able to buck the trend. The last time a pint of beer averaged less than £1.50 was in 1992.” Martin told Propel this week that despite expected losses of £30m for the year to the end of July, the company is preparing to step up expansion once more, with 15 pubs planned in the next financial year.


SSP reports sales continue to strengthen: Travel hub company SSP Group has reported revenue has continued to strengthen, running at 89% of 2019 levels in the seven weeks since 24 May, leaving revenues at 87% of 2019 levels for the third quarter as a whole. The company stated: “This includes a benefit from net gains and pricing compared with the same period in 2019. Our revenue performance has been driven by an ongoing recovery in passenger numbers and has also benefitted from longer passenger dwell times in some markets. The recovery has been led by domestic and leisure travel in both air and rail. Rail commuter travel continues to recover well, albeit at a slower pace than leisure travel. Geographically, we have seen a strong recovery across all divisions, led by continental Europe, where sales in the third quarter averaged 93% of 2019 levels, and North America, averaging 91%. In the UK, sales averaged 82% for the quarter, driven by a further strengthening of sales in air, whereas trading in rail was impacted by the recent industrial action. Encouragingly, we have seen a good recovery in the rest of the world, where sales averaged 75%, with strong performances in India, Australia and Thailand. In China and Hong Kong, passenger travel remains at very low levels, reflecting the ongoing travel restrictions. For the nine-month period from 1 October 2021 to 30 June 2022, total group revenues averaged 72% of 2019 levels. Our medium-term expectation for a recovery of the like-for-like business to 2019 levels of profitability remains unchanged. As previously reported, by 2025 our pipeline of new contracts is expected to add approximately £500m to revenues compared with 2019. As the business continues to recover, we expect the mobilisation of this pipeline to accelerate. For the current year, based on our performance to date and the current strength of the travel recovery, we now expect to deliver sales in the region of £2.1bn and Ebitda margin (on a pre-IFRS 16 basis) in the region of 6%, which is at the upper end of our previous full-year guidance range.”


Island Poké to open 19th UK site this month, in Wimbledon: Island Poké, the London-based White Rabbit Projects and Hero Brands-backed business, will open its 19th UK site later this month, in Wimbledon. The James Gould-Porter-led business, which also has 11 locations in France, will open at 8 The Broadway. As well as the usual poké bowl range and “build your own” bowl options, the site will also feature the brand’s new bao range, introduced last month. Gould-Porter said: “Opening in Wimbledon is a huge moment for us, and we are delighted to be bringing our fresh Pacific flavours to the area. It’s our mission to bring people a great and fresh alternative to the traditional lunch and dine-out offering.” Island Poké has ambitions to open 100 locations across the UK in the next five years, and earlier this month appointed former Loungers property manager Hux Norman as its new head of property, to help drive its expansion plans.


D&D London to look at relaunching Aster at new site after Victoria closure: Restaurant operator D&D London has said it will consider relaunching its Aster venue at a new site. D&D has closed Aster, which opened in 2017 at 150 Victoria Street – in the £380m Nova Victoria development – after deciding the location was not right for the concept. All staff have been redeployed to other D&D venues in London. Des Gunewardena, chief executive of D&D London, said: “Aster is a lovely restaurant and has developed a loyal following since we opened the venue some five years ago. But we have concluded that going forward, Nova Victoria is not the right location for the concept. We are in active discussions with landlords on a number of new sites and we will, in due course, consider relaunching Aster in another location.” D&D owns and operates some 40 restaurants in major cities in the UK, including London, Manchester and Leeds, and overseas, in New York and Paris. It last month opened French restaurant Orelle in Birmingham, and the previous month launched Le Pont de la Tour Bistrot at its riverside French restaurant, Le Pont de la Tour.


Stephen Crawley’s brewing business owed more than £1.5m before being rescued by former Iceland boss: Love Lane Brewing, based in Liverpool and resurrected by former Caledonian Brewing managing director Stephen Crawley, owed more than £1.5m when it collapsed into administration before being rescued, new documents have revealed. Last month it was reported how the business was saved after former Iceland boss Nick Canning invested a further £300,000 in the business. Canning has increased his shareholding after it underwent a pre-pack administration deal that was overseen by Steven Muncaster and Steve Clancy, of Kroll. Now documents have revealed Love Lane Brewing’s parent company, LLB Realisations, which had previously gone under the name Higsons 1780, was sold to Love Lane Brewery for £235,000. They also show HSBC was owed about £375,000 through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, but will only recover £35,000. HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) was owed in the region of £250,000 in relation to unpaid VAT, PAYE and national insurance contributions. Kroll added there was likely to be enough funds to reimburse HMRC but the exact amount was not yet known. Kroll also said that there would not be enough funds to repay the company's unsecured creditors, who are owed a total of £950,000. On the events leading up to the business entering administration, Kroll said: “The company encountered a number of challenges since [the] onset of the covid-19 pandemic and the trading restrictions faced as a result of the UK government closures on the hospitality industry. The business took steps to mitigate the trading underperformance and reached out to several investors to secure funding to recapitalise the company.” Kroll added by the start of January 2022 trading had improved but the extent of the debts incurred to investors, HSBC and unpaid taxes was hindering the company's financial viability. The company explored other opportunities to raise further investment but was unable to do so.


Turquoise founder secures Winchester site for new Mediterranean concept: Cevdet Mutlu, the founder of Turkish restaurant brand Turquoise Kitchen, has secured a site in Winchester for his new Mediterranean concept, Turquaz. Propel revealed in April a site in Winchester was under consideration for the concept, and Mutlu has now signed for the grade II-listed former Loch Fyne unit in Jewry Street, for an opening in early September. Mutlu currently operates sites under the Turquaz brand in Dorking, Crawley and Tunbridge Wells, and is set to take the ex-Bella Italia site in Newbury for an opening this summer. The company is also understood to have applied to open a Turquaz in the Piries Place scheme in Horsham. The 4,526 square-foot Winchester site, which can accommodate covers for around 150 inside, plus 26 in a central courtyard, has been secured on a 15-year lease. Mutlu said: “We are delighted to be opening one of our restaurants in the wonderful city of Winchester and in such a historic building.” The new Turquaz will be a 15th site for Turquoise Kitchen, the Turkish concept from the team behind the Real China brand, which is working with property adviser DMR to find sites in affluent towns across the UK. Savills acted on the letting on behalf of a private landlord, while Turquaz was represented by Mark Hiller, of DMR.


Chopstix opens flagship Canary Wharf venue, already in top five performing sites: Fast-growing quick service restaurant brand Chopstix has opened a new flagship store in London’s Canary Wharf, as it continues a steady programme of growth in 2022. Located in South Colonnade, Canary Wharf DLR station, the store reported an exceptional first week of trading and has already established itself as one of the top five performing stores in the estate. Jon Lake, managing director for Chopstix, said: “We have been looking to expand our footprint in the capital for some time and a site in Canary Wharf topped the list, so we’re thrilled we’re finally in a position to open. We have invested significant energy in market mapping research and this new location is ideally suited for Chopstix so we’re confident this restaurant will be highly successful.” The Canary Wharf restaurant opening is the next step in a busy year of growth for the group, having already announced the appointment of Aaron Moore-Saxton as the company’s first franchise director and a new partnership with UK holiday operator Haven. In 2022, Chopstix plans to open at least 12 new stores, through a mix of directly owned and operated stores (equity stores), and also in concert with partners, building on its franchise operation. It has openings lined up in Brixton, Bromley and Kingston in the next few weeks. Established by entrepreneurs Sam Elia and Menashe Sadik, Chopstix, which comprises more than 80 locations across the UK and Ireland, celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. 


South African boutique café group Tashas plans UK launch: South African boutique cafe group Tashas plans to launch in the UK later this year. Founded by Natasha Sideris and her brother Savva in 2005, the brand has since expanded to 24 locations in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town, Durban, Dubai, and Abu Dhabi. The business, which is part of the wider Sideris Group, was acquired by former Gourmet Burger Kitchen owner Famous Brands in 2008, but bought back its shares in 2019. Sideris sees the group – which also owns the Flamingo Room by Tashas, Bungalo34, Le Parc, and Nala concepts – operating between 50-70 restaurants globally within the next five to ten years. The expansion will see Tashas – which will continue to expand in South Africa and the UAE – open its first restaurant in the UK this year. Natasha Sideris told South African publication The Daily Maverick: “Tashas will open in Lynnwood Bridge in Pretoria later this year and the next stop will be in London where the team is close to finalising details on its first location.” Sideris has business partners in the UAE and the UK who are providing the additional finance necessary for the expansion. On the UK market, Sideris said she is cautious and believes it has tough barriers to entry. She said she will assess the launch of the first Tashas here before rushing to open more.


Rockfish plans Topsham opening: South west seafood restaurant group Rockfish is lining up an opening in Topsham, near Exeter, as part of plans to open three new sites over the next year. The Mitch Tonks-led business is understood to have secured the former L’Estuaire Bistro and Bar site, which closed last month, in the Devon town. The eight-strong group, which is chaired by Hawksmoor co-founder Will Beckett and backed by Gresham House, is also set to open a 100-cover site in Salcombe and is though to still be planning to open on the derelict Drill Hall site in Sidmouth. 


Derby Brewing Co set to open seventh site: Brewer and retailer Derby Brewing Co is set to expand by opening a seventh site. The company, which recently launched its sixth venue, The Clubhouse, in Friar Gate in Derby city centre, will now open a further pub in Dale Road in Matlock. The Pointing Dogs, located on the site of a former branch of NatWest, will be split across three levels, including a main bar, mezzanine, a restaurant with riverside views and a cellar bar. The site was previously occupied by Herd Steakhouse after NatWest moved out. Work on the pub is due to begin immediately with opening scheduled for August. Founded in 2004 by Trevor Harris, Derby Brewing Co produces a wide range of ale and craft beer. As well as The Clubhouse, the company operates the Derby Brewing Tap House and The Greyhound in Derby city centre, The Hole in the Wall in Mickleover, The Middle Bell in Barton under Needwood and The Pig in Lichfield. Paul Harris, managing director of Derby Brewing Co, said: “Matlock has been a target location for us for some time and we are delighted to have secured such a fantastic venue.”


Big Fang Collective to reopen three Ghetto Golfs as Golf Fangs following £500,000 investment: Big Fang Collective, the Imbiba-backed, entertainment venue operator that owns the Ghetto Golf and Golf Fang brands, will later this month reopen three Ghetto Golf sites as Golf Fangs following a £500,000 investment. Its Ghetto Golf sites in Birmingham, Liverpool and Newcastle will all reopen on Friday, 29 July under the new branding and with a range of new courses. Founded by Kip Piper and Daniel Bolger in 2016, Big Fang Collective opened its first Ghetto Golf in Liverpool and now operates five sites across the UK. It is looking to expand further and acquire new venues across the UK, with seven already planned to launch across the next two years, following a £5m investment from Imbiba. The Golf Fang concept offers an 18-hole course combining crazy golf with theatre, cocktails, DJs and street food. Piper said: “It’s great to have a cohesive brand across all of our sites now that our Birmingham, Newcastle and Liverpool sites are joining Sheffield, Glasgow and Leeds, which opens this winter, under the Golf Fang umbrella. The refurbishment will feature some new experiential elements and new courses.”


Manchester-based distillery seeks £3m investment to develop new ‘super distillery’: The Spirit of Manchester Distillery, known for its Manchester Gin, is seeking a £3m investment to help develop a “super distillery” for its new whisky line. The company is finalising plans to build a new 15,000 square-foot whisky distillery and visitor attraction on the outskirts of Greater Manchester, which co-founder Jen Heeley-Wiggins said is a “pivotal moment” for the business. Founded in 2016, the company's current £1m distillery in Watson Street, Manchester, is capable of producing more than a million bottles a year of its spirits. The new distillery, which will be developed during the next three years, will boost its UK and international distribution, increasing revenues by a forecasted 300%. “We are seeking investors who share our passion for the English premium spirits market, and who can help us unlock the potential of the brand equity we have developed over the past six years,” Heeley-Wiggins said. “We have developed a strong and viable business model that is ripe for expansion. This is a pivotal moment in our business history, and I am confident that, at this stage of our journey, now is the right time to bring outside investor expertise on board.”

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