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Mon 5th Sep 2022 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Industry calls on government to provide immediate comprehensive package of support on energy: The hospitality industry has called on the government to provide an immediate comprehensive package of support on energy, and action on the cost-of-living crisis. Punch Pubs chief executive Clive Chesser has written to leadership candidates Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss, as well as other cabinet ministers, to stress the importance of a full and proper package of support on energy, set out at the earliest possible opportunity, for the industry. His key asks are an immediate cut in VAT of at least 10% for all products (not just food and non-alcoholic drinks) across the sector, and a business rates holiday for all hospitality premises, with no caps applied. In his letter, Chesser said: “The consequences of inaction from the government would be dire, leading to thousands of business failures, tens of thousands of jobs lost and shuttered high streets. Hospitality provides 10% of jobs and 5% of GDP. It can be a powerful driver of economic recovery and growth for the nation, but it urgently needs a kick-start. Business and consumer confidence is suffering, and every day is critical. Our message is clear: this is a pandemic-level crisis, and the clock is ticking. Pubs really do matter.” At the same time, more than 6,000 letters have been sent from night time economy and hospitality businesses to MPs demanding an emergency support package as the “industry fights for survival”. The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) said escalating cost inflation has resulted in 70% of night time economy and hospitality business survival rates being slashed from months to weeks, all of which have stated untenable operating costs as the reason. Michael Kill, chief executive of the NTIA, said: “The industry's future is finely balanced between the delivery of an effective survival package from the new prime minister and government next week and continued consumer spend and confidence. Over 6,000 businesses have written directly to their constituent MPs demanding they make representation to the new prime minister and chancellor, as they take over office, on a survival package which will allow them financial headroom to get through this crisis – urging them to reduce VAT, extend business rates relief and implement an energy cap for small, medium enterprise businesses.” It comes as Richard Walker, the managing director of frozen food retailer Iceland and backer of Individual Restaurants, said he had contacted Downing Street out of concern that the “half-baked response” touted by the potential successors to Boris Johnson would fail to address the scale of people’s needs. Walker warned that a plan mooted by Tory leadership frontrunner Liz Truss to cut business rates for small and medium-sized companies would not meet the size of the challenge. He told The Observer: “Where markets dislocate completely, like they have with the energy markets, it’s time for the government to step in, otherwise what are they for? My fear is they’ll do a half-baked response. I read that Liz Truss is thinking of further rate relief for small businesses. That’s lovely, but it won’t even touch the sides. What they need to understand is [this affects] big business as well as small, because it’s exactly the same trouble we’re in – there’s just more jobs at stake.” He called for an energy cap for all businesses, huge longer-term reforms to the energy market and direct help for vulnerable households.
 

Industry News: 

Next edition of Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book to feature 619 companies, with 22 more added: The next edition of Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book, produced in association with Mapal Group, will feature an additional 22 companies, taking the total to 619. They are turning over a collective £31.3bn. The Blue Book shows the effects of the pandemic, with total losses of £5.4bn being reported by 326 companies. However, a further 293 sector companies are still reporting total profits of £1.5bn. The next edition will be sent to Premium subscribers on Friday, 16 September, 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 have access to the UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database, which will be updated every two months. Companies can now have an unlimited number of people receive access to Propel Premium for a year for £895 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or a supplier. The single subscription rate is £445 plus VAT for operators and £545 plus VAT for suppliers. Email jo.charity@propelinfo.com to upgrade your subscription. Subscribers also receive access to Propel’s library of lockdown videos and Friday Wrap interviews, and 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; plus regular video content and exclusive columns from Propel group editor Mark Wingett.
 
Trade body warns of ‘end of UK’s live music scene as we know it’ as energy bill hikes of up to 1,400% force venues to consider future: Trade body LIVE has warned of “the end of UK’s live music scene as we know it” as energy bill hikes of up to 1,400% force venues to consider their future. LIVE, which unites the 14 main live music associations under one umbrella, said urgent government intervention is needed to prevent the closure of hundreds of music venues across the country. It is calling for an urgent reintroduction of the 5% VAT rate on ticket sales as the quickest way to get money back into the bottom line of struggling businesses. Jon Collins, LIVE chief executive, said: “The triple threat of a cost-of-living crisis, the post-pandemic hangover and skyrocketing energy prices could spell the end of the UK’s live music scene as we know it. Millions of people have just enjoyed a spectacular summer of live music, but this is now under threat. We face cuts to programming, venue closures and an unbearable strain on an already fragile industry. Government must act to protect this world-leading and uniquely British endeavour before it is too late.” The group is also calling for a direct intervention in the energy market and supporting calls from the wider sector for a business rates holiday with no caps applied, covid-style hardship grants, the reinstatement of a generous HM Revenue & Customs Time to Pay scheme and the reintroduction of a trade credit insurance scheme for energy. LIVE said it would also welcome an extension of the current temporary uplift in Orchestra Tax Relief. The group represents 3,150 companies, more than 4,000 artists and 2,000 backstage workers.
 
Ordering in now part of the ‘new normal’ for Brits, but not replacing eating out: New research suggests the huge growth in demand for ordering in seen during the pandemic has resulted in long-term changes to consumer dining behaviour – but not as a replacement for eating out. It has created a “new normal” where some 22 million Brits now order a takeaway or delivery from a restaurant or pub at least once a week, according to KAM’s research, in partnership with e-commerce provider Slerp. Some 34% order as part of their regular weekday dining and 62% regularly order in as a weekend treat, with Generation Z and young families ordering in most frequently. However, 74% of respondents said they order in to replace cooking at home rather than eating out occasions. The research also found most online food orders are likely to come from existing customers, with two thirds admitting they prefer to order from places they know and love, and only 30% said they liked to try new places. Despite many consumers still ordering via marketplace apps, 62% said they’d rather order directly from a restaurant or pub, with a quarter saying they expect to download a restaurant or pub-specific app in the future, and almost half (46%) said a positive online ordering experience would make them more likely to visit a venue in person. Loyalty points also have a significant impact on where consumers order, with 84% saying they’d be more likely to order direct from a restaurant or pub if a loyalty programme was available, and a third stating they’d definitely spend more in order to secure points.

BT and Warner Bros Discovery complete deal to create premium sports offer: BT Group and Warner Bros Discovery have completed a deal to create a new sport offering for the UK and Ireland. Under the terms of the transaction, which was announced in May, BT Sport and Eurosport UK will be brought together to form a premium sports joint venture for customers in the UK and Ireland, which will be owned 50:50 by BT and Warner Bros Discovery. The deal, which was cleared by the Competition and Markets Authority in July, also includes the transfer of the operating businesses of BT Sport to Warner Bros Discovery. BT will receive £93m from Warner Bros Discovery and up to about £540m by way of an earn-out from the joint venture, subject to certain conditions being met. The joint venture will hold the rights to events including the Olympic Games, the Premier League, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, Premiership Rugby, MotoGP, UFC, boxing and tennis. While work to develop the new sports offering for the UK and Ireland is undertaken, BT Sport and Eurosport UK will retain their separate product propositions for a period of time. The board of the joint venture is equally represented between appointees of BT and Warner Bros Discovery. The first chairperson, nominated by each shareholder on a rotating basis, is Marc Allera, chief executive of BT's consumer division. Andrew Georgiou, president and managing director, Warner Bros Discovery Sports Europe, is also a member of the board and will lead the business.
 
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with an established multi-faceted entertainment venue in central London seeking a head of human resources. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “You will manage talent acquisition, show your ability to think outside the box, explore new ways to make the company the most attractive business 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. You will ensure compliance, guaranteeing contracts are issued efficiently and correctly, create and maintain an energetic people-centric work environment, be present and get involved – encourage, nurture, and grow people. You will have the ability to transform traditional HR practices into effective outputs, to help create a new way of working and drive cultural change.” The salary for the position is up to £80,000. For more information, email abbie@corecruitment.com
 

Company News:

Planet Organic looking to raise £30m as it plans to expand to more than 100 stores, focusing on residential and regional openings following City closures: Health-focused retailer Planet Organic is looking to raise £30m to fund plans to expand to more than 100 stores over the next three years, with a focus on residential and regional openings after closing most of its City sites. The 13-strong business reported pre-tax losses of £3,373,420 for the year ending 28 August 2021, compared with a loss of £2,465,741 in 2020, and a loss of £655,217 in 2019. Turnover was down, from £40,680,886 in 2020 to £37,617,630, but up from £35,091,327 in 2019. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “The trend for health has only increased over covid, and we believe there is an opportunity to build a chain of more than 100 stores in the next three years. The high street is readjusting to the current economic conditions, and the next three years is an opportunity to acquire sites in attractive locations at attractive rents. This is the time to be on the front foot to build a business that matches in size the leading health food chains in France and Germany.” The company has opened three suburban London sites post-year end, with two more lined up, and is set to make its first regional opening, in Henley. “We believe it could take the office market some time to recover and tourism will be unpredictable,” it said. “Therefore, our focus is on predominantly residential areas with high footfall density. We have closed all but one of our West End and City stores for this reason and opened stores such as Hampstead, Bermondsey and Hackney. We see this switch as an opportunity to move the business to residential communities, which we believe will have much greater resilience if there is a recession.” In order to fund its expansion, Planet Organic said it is looking to raise £30m over the next two years. Since the year-end, Planet Organic has also opened its own distribution centre, is now available on Deliveroo and click-and-collect and will be rolling out more branded products. Closing cash was £3.2m, while 2020’s balance of £6.5m included £5m borrowed through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme. It also received £722,426 in government grants (2020: £564,578) and a £130,577 insurance payout.
 
Caffe Concerto completes CVA early after director personally borrows £200,000 to fund final dividend payment: Caffe Concerto, the patisserie chain that has a portfolio across London, Birmingham and the Middle East, has completed its company voluntary arrangement (CVA) after one of its company directors personally borrowed £200,000 to inject as a one-off payment. Caffe Concerto entered into the CVA in April last year, where it agreed to pay £10,000 a month for 60 months, with a minimum dividend of 14.79p in the pound paid to unsecured creditors, who were owed a total of £11,022,230. However, following a downturn in the company’s turnover in spring this year and the directors believing they would be unable to maintain the monthly payments, creditors agreed to a variance that saw a director borrow £200,000, allowing for a second and final dividend of 4.65p in the pound to be paid to unsecured creditors. The total dividend they received was 13.35p in the pound and meant the CVA was concluded within 18 months. Secondary preferential creditors were repaid fully. The update came as the business reported turnover of £3,094,394 for the year ending 31 August 2021 versus £18,953,435 the previous year due to its sites being closed for much of the period because of the covid-19 pandemic. The business saw a pre-tax profit of £2,824,792 versus a loss of £16,961,152 the year before. No dividend was paid.

Bill’s makes further site closures: Bill’s, the Richard Caring-backed group, has closed a further handful of sites across the country, Propel has learned. At the end of last year, the company confirmed it had closed 14 sites after a review of its portfolio, leaving it with a 62-strong estate spread across the UK. Over the summer, speculation has increased that the company had placed a number of sites on the market or surrendered leases back to landlords, with some suggesting this included sites that had already been closed, such as those in Plymouth and London’s Holborn. Propel now understands that Bill’s has recently closed another handful of sites, including those in Epsom, Durham and Welwyn Garden City, leaving it with a 55-strong estate. The company declined to comment on the recent closures. 

Pret ends in-store site trial with Tesco: Pret A Manger, the JAB Holdings-backed business, has ended its in-store shops trial with retailer Tesco, Propel has learned. The company announced last May that it was to open sites in Tesco supermarkets. The trial partnership, which followed the launch of Pret frozen croissants and granolas on Tesco shelves, was part of a move by the chain to broaden its appeal as it responded to the toughest year since it opened its first site 36 years ago. Its first “shop-in-shop” with Tesco opened in June at the Tesco Superstore in Kensington, west London. A further three were planned, but only a second site in the Tesco Extra at Serpentine Green, Peterborough, followed. Like existing Pret stores, the Tesco sites served food freshly prepared in an on-site kitchen plus organic coffee and teas prepared by Pret baristas. The shops were operated as concessions run by Pret rather than by Tesco. It comes as Pret’s retail coffee range is delisted by Tesco. It is understood that the company’s frozen bake at home croissants are still available at Tesco and proving to be “exceptionally popular with customers”. While its coffee range isn't currently available at Tesco, customers can still find it at a number of other retailers such as Sainsbury's, Morrisons, Waitrose, Ocado and in the brand’s own sites.

Hotel Football spent £3m hosting NHS staff over course of pandemic: Hotel Football, the business venture run by Gary Neville and his former Manchester United teammate Ryan Giggs, spent more than £3m in the past two years hosting NHS staff. Two hotels, both in Manchester, closed to the public in March 2020 and were made available to health workers who were not able to live with their families during the covid pandemic, free of charge. Former England footballer Neville spoke out on Saturday after several media outlets reported that Hotel Football had lost a staggering £3m in two years and owes £10m in loans. Speaking to PoliticsJOE Neville said: “We funded the £3m over two years with either our own cash or loans and paid our staff in full. We also looked after the NHS staff locally that couldn’t stay at home in the first wave of the pandemic.” Stock Exchange Hotel in Manchester had been open only five months before it closed its doors, shortly after being named one of the world's best new luxury hotels for 2020. "We look after our teams and we wanted to offer some support at a worrying time for everyone,” said Neville. “We’d also seen in Italy that doctors and nurses were struggling to find accommodation away from vulnerable family members, so we partnered with the Manchester NHS foundation trust. We were the first to do it, and we were pretty full for the whole first wave in Hotel Football, and had 25-30 in the Stock Exchange Hotel.” Reports over the weekend said parent company Orchid Leisure had loaned the business £10.2m to keep the hotels afloat.

Kent brewery hailed as Brexit ‘export champion’ has one EU customer left: A Kent brewery chosen to help champion export opportunities for the government after Brexit has revealed that burdensome customs checks and paperwork have left it with just one remaining customer in the EU. The Guardian reports that the Old Dairy Brewery in Kent – a Department for International Trade export champion for the south-east – appeared in a government video last year promoting the potential to boost Brexit export sales. However, its exports of bottled and keg Kent ale to countries including Italy, Germany and Sweden have slumped since the UK left the EU because of the onerous paperwork. The brewery now has just one EU customer, a Berlin pub operator who travels to England by van to pick up the beer. The value of the Kent brewery’s annual beer exports have fallen from £600,000 to £2,000. Virginia Hodge, export manager at the brewery, based at Tenterden, said: “Some transport companies won’t take alcohol now because of all the transit documents you need. I used to be able to make up a case of beer and send it by courier [to the EU] and now I have to send it through the full customs declaration. Our customers in Europe say they want to take British beer, but it’s just not cost effective. They’ve got to do a lot more paperwork.” She said the brewery’s one remaining EU customer had faced multiple challenges. She said: “The first time he came over, we were up all night trying to get him through customs at Dover and out of the country. He was stuck because of the paperwork. He used to come over for just one night, but now it takes four days because of all the problems.” Hodge said small businesses were not given sufficient support. She said: “There is nobody to ask and there is no system.” She said advisers on government helplines referred questions about export problems to the government website.
 
Foodstuff closes crowdfunding campaign after raising more than £1.1m: Fledgling delivery business Foodstuff has closed its campaign on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube after raising more than £1.1m. The business, which was founded by Toby Savill and James Perry, aims to use the funds to help it expand into four more major UK cities, including London. Foodstuff had set a target of raising £900,000, with an offer of 9.1% of equity in the business, which gave it a pre-money valuation of £9,905,441. The campaign has now closed, having raised £1,165,346 from 741 investors. Among those who invested in the latest round was Jake Bishop, co-founder of cafe brand Loungers. Foodstuff has delivered 70,000-plus orders across four major UK cities since its launch in Cambridge in May 2020. The company, which is chaired by Draft House founder Charlie McVeigh, said it is on “a mission to redefine the industry, focusing on quality food from indie restaurants aiming to deliver with fewer emissions”. It said 40,000 customers have spent more than £1.7m on the platform to date. The company said: “We charge partners a £50 monthly fee, alongside a 15% commission for exclusive partners, or 25% if they're multi-platform, keeping money in the pockets of restaurants and local communities. With 63% of consumers actively choosing local, 1,700 indie restaurants added to the delivery market since 2019 and a ratio of 4:1 versus chains, we believe we’re perfectly placed to take our bite of a UK delivery market expected to reach £13bn in 2022, and has no plans to slow down.”

Gail’s backers secure agreement for Burger King brand in Poland: Food industry entrepreneurs Henry McGovern and Steven Winegar, who’ve backed brands including bakery concept Gail’s and pasta chain Vapiano, have signed a deal to become the master franchisee for Burger King in Poland, with a commitment to open more than 200 restaurants in the country. The pair’s investment firm, McWin, will manage the brand in Poland, which has been present in the country since 2007, including its existing franchisees, and start operating 20 stores as a result of its acquisition of BK SEE Poland S.A. David Shear, president, Burger King international markets, said: "We’re excited to share big news from Poland, where we have announced plans to expand Burger King throughout Poland with McWin as our new master franchisee. We know that guests here love our world-famous flame-grilled flavour and experience our brand their way through personalised digital innovation. We see this project as an important part of a larger plan to expand in central and eastern Europe, that will allow us to bring our iconic brand featuring our great-tasting food to more guests than ever before.” McGovern said: “This is the first investment of our €525m McWin Restaurant Fund, which we closed a few weeks ago. We are incredibly proud to expand the Burger King brand across Poland, leveraging synergies across the McWin platform. We will be putting special emphasis on improving the brand’s digitalization and sustainability efforts in Poland.” McGovern and Winegar launched their McWin Restaurant Fund last month, with primary backing from the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority. It brings total capital managed by McWin, which also runs smaller food tech and ecosystem funds, to more than €1bn. The new vehicle will make equity investments of at least €100m to help localised restaurant brands become more digital and expand abroad.
 
London luxury health club brand almost halves losses, increases turnover by £7m: London luxury health club brand Third Space saw its losses almost halve in the year ending 31 December 2021, with revenue up by more than £7m. Pre-tax losses narrowed from £13,436,840 in 2020 to £7,392,316 – the company made a pre-tax profit of £2,643,951 in the last year before covid. Turnover was up from £17,852,983 to £24,951,636 but was still down on the £43,178,846 in 2019. It received £1,628,157 in Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme payments compared with £3,614,583 in 2020, and £240,567 in Covid Restrictions Support Scheme payments compared with £9,000 in 2020. During the year, the group was acquired by an investment fund managed by KSL Capital Partners. Last month, Propel reported Third Space is set to generate revenue of more than £50m in 2022, “comfortably ahead” of 2019 levels. It has secured two new sites as part of its UK expansion plans and is preparing to launch its eighth site in the capital, in Moorgate, in November. It has also signed for sites in Battersea and Wimbledon, with both sites set to launch in 2023. Both clubs will offer a selection of natural fitness foods made freshly on site, which will also be available for delivery.
 
Merlin Entertainments to run UK’s largest indoor waterpark: Merlin Entertainments has been awarded a contract to run the UK’s largest indoor waterpark, in Blackpool. The company was successful in a tender process by Blackpool Council to manage the Sandcastle Waterpark. The venue, at South Beach, has almost 20 slides and attractions in a tropical 84-degree climate. The waterpark will join Merlin’s seven other attractions in Blackpool including The Blackpool Tower, Madame Tussauds Blackpool and Sea Life Blackpool. The Sandcastle Waterpark contract supports Merlin’s strategy to establish clusters of attractions in key strategic locations and further expands its offering within Blackpool, following the opening of a new £1m attraction for young children, Peter Rabbit Explore & Play, earlier this year. Kate Shane, regional director for Merlin Entertainments, said: “We are thrilled to be adding the UK's largest indoor waterpark to our Blackpool portfolio. We firmly support Blackpool’s ambition to be the UK’s number one family seaside resort, and this partnership is another step forward in delivering this vision.”
 
Bannatyne Group launches academy scheme to help with staff recruitment: The Bannatyne Group, led by Duncan Bannatyne, has launched an academy scheme to help overcome recruitment issues in the fitness and well-being sectors. The first Fitness Academy, in partnership with Learning Curve Group, will be based at the Bannatyne Health Club in Darlington. The academies will provide level two courses in gym instruction, running for ten weeks, and those who complete it will have the chance to progress to a six-week level three course in personal training. The pilot scheme has been launched with a view to rolling the academies out to more Bannatyne Group health clubs and spas across England. Duncan Bannatyne, group chief executive and chairman, said: “As a leading fitness, well-being and healthy lifestyle advocate, Bannatyne Group is well aware staff recruitment is becoming an issue throughout the sector. Our bespoke academies, in partnership with Learning Curve Group, are aimed at helping overcome that challenge. We want to ensure our health clubs and spas, and the industry in general, are able to maintain a strong presence on the country's business, economic, leisure and social scene.” 
 
Former East London Pub Co director and Drink, Shop & Do founder’s Kent restaurant to open this week: The new restaurant from husband-and-wife team Bradley and Kristie Lomas, at Boys House in Kent, will open this week. Propel reported in January that Bradley, the former operations director of East London Pub Co, and Kristie, the founder of King’s Cross venues Drink, Shop & Do and Keystone Crescent, were restoring a 17th century manor house in Ashford as a luxury pub and restaurant-with-rooms. The grade II-listed Boys House opened in June, offering ten luxury bedrooms, two outdoor terraces and its very own pub. The 70-cover restaurant will open for the first time this week, with chef Robbie Lorraine leading a menu centred around seasonal, local produce, with daily changing dishes and home-cooked favourites. Lorraine, a former Great British Menu contestant who has worked at high-profile restaurants, venues and events ranging from Roux Fine Dining and The Shard to Royal Ascot and Chelsea FC, opened retro-inspired restaurant Only Food and Courses at Pop Brixton last year. The concept, developed with Martyn Barrett, who has led and launched multiple businesses including major food halls at Selfridges & Co in London and Birmingham and high-end restaurants at London City airport, started out as a series of pop-ups in Kent. 
 
Hong Kong-style tea restaurant opens in London’s Chinatown for UK debut: Hong Kong-style tea restaurant The Eight has made its UK debut with an opening in London’s Chinatown. Propel reported in May that the concept, which is inspired by the traditional Hong Kong tearooms of the 1950s, had taken an 80-cover 1,500 square-foot space at 68-70 Shaftesbury Avenue. It serves a selection of traditional Hong Kong dishes, including signature abalone wanton noodles, rice wrapped in omelette with wagyu beef and rickshaw noodles. It also offers snacks such as Hong Kong curry fish balls and red bean pudding cake, alongside traditional milk tea and the brand’s home brewed Ginseng drink. Meanwhile, Zhang Liang Malatang, which secured a lease for a Chinatown site with landlords Shaftesbury at the same time as The Eight, is also set to make its UK debut this week. The China brand, which has more than 5,500 sites, is set to open its 1,200 square-foot site at 112 Shaftesbury Avenue on Wednesday (7 September). The Sichuan concept will allow diners to customise their hotpot with a choice of fresh ingredients, including crab legs, fish balls, and seafood sausages.

Jupiter Hotels owner acquires long leasehold of Mercure Perth off £2.25m guide price: S Hotels and Resorts, owner of Jupiter Hotels – which operates 29 UK hotels under the Mercure and Holiday Inn brands – has added the Mercure Perth to its portfolio. It acquired the long leasehold of the 76-bedroom hotel, which has a restaurant, bar and conferencing facilities, off a guide price of £2.25m from a private client. Dirk De Cuyper, chief executive of S Hotels and Resorts, said: “The Mercure Perth is in a key location and an important part of our portfolio in the UK. We will now be embarking on a refurbishment programme that will include the 76 bedrooms and the public areas of the hotel.” Savills acted on the deal. As well as its UK portfolio – which includes 26 Mercures, two Holiday Inns and The Lion Hotel in Shrewsbury – S Hotels and Resorts also operates several hotels and resorts, cafes, bars, restaurants and well-being centres in Thailand, Mauritius, Fiji and the Maldives.

North London bakery doubles up: North London artisan bakery, Margot Bakery, has opened its second site. Launched by Michelle Eshkeri in East Finchley in 2016, Margot has now expanded to a former metalworks at 66 St George’s Road, in Lower Holloway. It offers sourdough bread and pastries, including challah, babka, croissants, cakes and other sweet treats, reports Hot Dinners.
 
Tim Hortons gets go-ahead for fourth Essex site, in Basildon: Canadian quick service restaurant brand Tim Hortons has secured planning permission for a fourth Essex site, in Basildon. SK Group, which is leading the rollout of the brand in the UK, has been given the green light by Basildon Council to open in the former Burger Brats and Outback Steakhouse unit in Miles Gray Road. Tim Hortons already operates sites in Harlow, Thurrock and Braintree in the county. The new site will offer a drive-thru service as well as a 158 square-metre indoor eating space. Tim Hortons now has circa 70 UK outlets and a further ten “coming soon”, including a site in Fosse Park, Leicester, opening on Wednesday, 14 September.

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