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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Mon 5th Sep 2022 - Exclusive: Peckwater acquires Honest Food Company to become Europe's largest virtual food brand operator
Exclusive – Peckwater acquires Honest Food Company to become Europe’s largest virtual food brand operator, plans crowdfund: Peckwater Brands, in which Stonegate Group has a stake, has acquired the operations of Honest Food Company (HFC) in four European countries, Propel has learned. The deal sees Peckwater become Europe’s largest operator of virtual food brands, operating from more than 500 locations. The deal sees the company, which already has operations in five countries – UK, US, France, Belgium, and the UAE – expand its international footprint by adding HFC’s operations in Finland, Sweden, Hungary, and Czechia. It comes as the business gears up to launch a new crowdfunding campaign with a target of raising £14.65m. The crowdfund, which will launch through Seedrs, will see the business offer 22.66% of equity, with a pre-money valuation of £50m attached. Founded in 2019, Peckwater Brands builds delivery-only food brands, delivered through a data-driven software solution, which are prepared in kitchens worldwide alongside their day-to-day operations. The business operates a mix of licensed brands spanning several categories including chicken (Seoul Chikin, Flip the Bird, Katsu), burgers (Dukes, Proper Tasty) and have also run shared brands with partners such as Unilever, Buzzfeed, and Heinz. The move to acquire HFC comes shortly after Peckwater’s £15m Series A funding round in June, which was backed by Stonegate, SBI Investments, Fuel Ventures, and Pembroke VCT. HFC is owned by Delivery Hero having been acquired by the German-listed delivery aggregator in 2020. Leo Bradshaw, executive chair of Peckwater, said: “We’re excited to bring HFC’s excellent operations under the Peckwater banner. Under Delivery Hero’s ownership, HFC has established a leading position in the European market and combining this with the UK’s largest estate will create Europe’s largest virtual brand operation. We announced our intention to accelerate international expansion with our Series A funding, and this represents a massive step forward for Peckwater Brands. Having opened our French and Belgian operations organically in the three months since our funding round, we’re delighted to be adding operations in four more mature markets.” Sam Martin, chief executive of Peckwater, added: “The growth and development we’ve seen at Peckwater in recent months is astonishing – the dedication of our team and their faultless execution of our strategy has been integral to our success. The HFC team have shown the same level of focus, talent, and opportunity in building their impressive position in the European market. With their brands now under our banner, I am sure that our rate of growth won’t just be sustained – it will accelerate further.”

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 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.

Watt – we need to think about this as ‘covid II’, puts forward five ways the government could help: James Watt, co-founder and chief executive of Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog, has said the government needs to think about the current crisis as “covid II” and act accordingly when it comes to providing support for the sector. Watt said: “Obviously covid was a huge tragedy, which left many thousands of families with devastating losses. But what covid also showed was the power of governments to act, which meant unemployment rose by far less than everyone feared. I passionately believe in the power of entrepreneurs and business to create great brands and companies like ours, but what we’re facing here is bigger than all of us. There is no ‘market’ solution or clever fix if a business sees its energy bills and other costs rise tenfold – more likely than not it will just die. To be clear, despite of the challenges all businesses face, BrewDog continues to grow strongly in 2022 after strong growth in 2020 and 2021, even though we had to take the tough decision to close six venues, as in the current environment, there was simply no way we could every make these viable. But we’ve also opened the UK’s biggest bar at Waterloo with more than 20,000 visitors so far and we have a lot more plans in the pipeline. The bigger picture, though, is that we need to think about this as ‘covid II’ – and act accordingly. Here’s my starter for ten on what I would do if I were Liz Truss (or Rishi): Reverse the rise in employers’ national insurance contributions introduced in April. The government want to protect people’s jobs so why not make it cheaper to keep them in work?; Business rates. Cut them in half for a year, or better still make them zero; VAT holiday for hospitality for a year. Everybody will be cutting back on budgets but every little helps. Pubs and bars like ours are vital parts of a community and we need to protect them; state-backed loans. Pubs and bars can borrow from a pot guaranteed by the state, and begin repayments, say, in 12 months’ time; and extend the household energy cap approach by implementing an energy price cap for businesses as soon as is practically possible. The nay-sayers will claim this is just an industry after state money. I guarantee you the government will end up paying for this one way or another. For me, it is better spending on supporting business through this nightmare and helping them to manage costs over the longer term, than spending the money on unemployment benefits and all the rest of it when tens of thousands of businesses inevitably collapse. Over to you Liz (or Rishi).”

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