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Wed 7th Sep 2022 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

UKHospitality welcomes new prime minister’s energy prices pledge, calls for VAT cut to 10% and business rates holiday: UKHospitality has welcomed new prime minister Liz Truss’ energy prices pledge but renewed calls for VAT to be cut to 10% and a business rates holiday for sector businesses. Following weeks of uncertainty for hospitality operators in the face of rocketing energy prices, warnings of mass closures and little in the way of government action, there was at last some relief yesterday (Tuesday, 6 September) when Truss gave her first speech as prime minister. Truss pledged to “deal hands on with the energy crisis” and said she would “take action this week to deal with energy bills and to secure our future energy supply”. For UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls, the devil will be in the detail of what action is actually taken, but there were at least some positive noises from the new incumbent at Number Ten. “We were encouraged to hear the new prime minister commit to urgent action on energy prices for both families and businesses and we eagerly await the detail,” said Nicholls. “The hospitality sector needs a big, bold package of measures if it is to survive this winter. Among other support, we need VAT cut to 10% and a business rates holiday for all hospitality premises, on top of a freeze on energy prices to help us in the short term. The prime minister gave a very positive vision of growth for the country. Hospitality is an aspiration sector that can power the aspiration nation she aims to deliver, but we need the right support in order to deliver the growth, investment and jobs that will help achieve this.” Simon Jack, the BBC’s business editor, said he understands the government is planning an intervention in the wholesale energy markets benefitting both domestic and business customers. He said an 18-month price freeze would see energy companies take out government guaranteed loans to bridge the gap between the wholesale market prices and the fixed price they charge customers, which would be repaid over the next 10-20 years through supplements to customer bills. “The precise mechanism to help business may be more complicated and would be reviewed more frequently and not last as long, but reports suggest it could see the government mandate energy firms to offer specific reductions on the unit price of the energy businesses use,” he said. “The way that energy companies would be reimbursed for their losses on sales to business customers is also unclear. The government estimates the total package will amount to somewhere between £100bn and £130bn, but the ultimate number will depend on movements in the international energy markets, which have been extremely volatile. It is also unclear how the government will treat its exposure to the energy market through its loan guarantees, as clearly there is a risk that energy companies might be unable to repay their loans if their domestic customers are unable to pay, or their business customers go bust.” Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, said: “As outlined in the PM’s speech, action on energy cannot come soon enough, and it’s right that a decision that will hopefully save thousands of pubs and breweries will come this week. However, for the longevity of the sector, we need the PM to recognise the value and contribution of our industry to the UK. Immediate action on energy is critical, but investment in our sector for the long-term is also essential. As the PM works towards a fiscal statement and full budget, we hope she will seriously consider a cut to business rates and VAT so Britain’s pubs and brewers can get back on their feet fully and thrive in the communities they proudly serve.” Meanwhile, the Night Time Industries Association tweeted: “An energy price freeze” from today won’t help businesses deal with the six-figure debts they have built up from pandemic and current cost inflation. In the last two days I have spoken to multiple businesses either closing or handing keys back, there are many more!”
 

Industry News:

Sponsored message – join your industry at Casual Dining next week: There’s not long left to register for your free trade ticket to Casual Dining. The definitive restaurant, pub and bar event takes place next week, on 14-15 September, at ExCeL London. A spokesman said: “With 35-plus free seminars and a dedicated pub and bar keynote theatre, there’s plenty of inspiration in store. Hear from Tim Martin, chairman of JD Wetherspoon; Clive Watson, co-founder and chairman of City Pub Group; Steve Alton, chief executive of the British Institute of Innkeeping, and many more. You can meet and do business with 200 alcohol, soft drinks, food, technology and equipment suppliers and discover hundreds of new products to help your business and enhance your offering. Register for your free trade ticket today to save the £20 door fee. We look forward to seeing you there!” If you have a sponsored story you would like to see featured in this newsletter position, email paul.charity@propelinfo.com.
 
Next edition of Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book shows sector losses outstripping profits almost four times over: The damage done to the industry by the pandemic is highlighted in the latest edition of the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book with losses outstripping profits in the sector almost four times over. The Blue Book, which is updated monthly, shows 326 companies making a combined loss of £5.4bn compared with 293 companies in profit – making a combined £1.5bn. Premium subscribers will receive the latest edition of the Blue Book, which is produced in association with Mapal Group, on Friday, 16 September, at midday. The 619 UK pub, restaurant, cafe and hotel operators featured have a collective turnover of £31.3bn. 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 Multi-Site Operators Database, produced in association with Virgate, and the New Openings Database, 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.

Greene King launches ‘competitive’ new maternity leave policy: Brewer and retailer Greene King has launched a new maternity leave policy, which it said will be “one of the most competitive in the industry”. It entitles salaried team members to 26 weeks full pay plus 13 weeks statutory maternity pay, and hourly team members to 13 weeks full pay, 13 weeks half pay and 13 weeks statutory maternity pay. Alongside the policy, a new package of wraparound support will be introduced, designed to support women before they go on maternity leave and make the transition back into work easier. Team members will be able to flex their return to work in the first eight weeks, as well as having access to additional financial support. This follows feedback from the company’s women employee-led inclusion group, which has conducted listening groups with team members across all parts of the business. The group had raised concerns around the support available and the impact to careers that going on maternity leave can have for some women. Andrew Bush, chief people and transformation officer at Greene King, said: “Our research showed that in 2020, only 53% of women returned to work for us following maternity leave. This stark figure showed us it was clear we needed to update our policy so women feel supported to be able to confidently choose the right time to start a family and for them to feel they can return to work at the right time for them, without feeling financially pressured to return. The new maternity leave policy and support package is a huge step forward and is now one of the strongest policies in the marketplace.”

Fish and chips still Britains most wanted pub meal as appetite for premium versions grows: Fish and chips remains Britain’s favourite pub and bar meal, new research from CGA by NielsenIQ reveals – and there is plenty of headroom for growth at the premium end of the market. A survey for CGA’s exclusive new ‘Food Insights 22’ report shows that more than a quarter (28%) of consumers pick fish and chips as one of their three top dishes when eating out in pubs and bars. This puts it ahead of other perennial favourites like carveries and roasts (24%), steak (22%), pizza (21%) and beef burgers (17%) on the report’s rundown of consumers’ most-wanted pub and bar meals. While fish and chips has been a classic dish for decades, CGA’s in-depth report into out-of-home food trends flags significant opportunities to increase sales even further. It indicates that half (48%) of consumers would be willing to try a premium fish and chip restaurant or shop, while three in five (60%) say they are likely to pay more for a better quality version of the dish. Diners are also interested in exploring new variations on the meal, and more than a quarter say they would consider ordering options like tuna (29%), lobster (27%) and crab (27%) if they saw them on a fish and chip shop’s menu. Karl Chessell, CGA’s business unit director – hospitality operators and food, EMEA, said: “Britain’s consumers have never had such a wide choice of options when eating out, so it’s fascinating to see the appetite for fish and chips is undimmed. Even in very mature parts of the eating-out market like this, it’s encouraging to see there is still so much potential to grow sales, especially by helping people trade up to new alternatives and making fish and chip shops destinations in their own right. With spending on eating out under mounting pressure, tempting consumers with exciting twists on popular favourites like fish and chips will be a crucial tactic in the months ahead.” Earlier this month, National Federation of Fish Friers president Andrew Crook called for an immediate return to the 5% rate of VAT, warning that fish and chip shops were closing for good “on a daily basis”. It came after his earlier warning that fish and chip shops are facing “extinction” due to the soaring price of cod, sunflower oil and energy.

Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a facilities management soft services company that is looking for an account manager (cleaning) across multiple sites for a key contract. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “Your key responsibilities will be maintaining strong client relationships with high levels of satisfaction; providing, and maintaining the quality-of-service delivery; managing, recruiting and coaching local service teams; and carrying out ad-hoc and regular activities such as projects, reports and audits as required by the operations manager.” The salary is up to £40,000 and the position is based in Milton Keynes. For more information, email paris@corecruitment.com
 

Company News:

Rekom to take PRYZM nightclub brand to Finland, looks to reach 60 sites in the UK by year end: Rekom, the operator of circa 200 late-night venues internationally and 47 in the UK, is to open a site under the PRYZM nightclub brand in Finland. The opening in Turku, the oldest city in Finland, will mark the first time the company has taken one of its UK brands overseas. It first moved into the UK in December 2020 when it acquired 44 of The Deltic Group’s 55 sites out of administration. Rekom has so far launched Heidi's Bier Bar – a concept that first launched in Copenhagen in 2004 and now boasts 20 venues across Norway, Denmark and Finland – in Cardiff this spring. A second site for the concept in the UK opened earlier this summer in Birmingham. The UK’s first Proud Mary pub will open in Cardiff in October following a £1.2m investment. Peter Marks, chairman of Rekom UK, told Propel that in terms of further UK brands sites transferring onto the Continent, he hoped there would be “others when it is appropriate”. On the first Rekom brands to launch in the UK, he said they “are beating expectations but of course these are early days”. The company has further openings lined up in Cardiff and Swansea and hopes to get to 60 sites in the UK by the end of the year. Marks said: “We hope to have 60 sites and we’ve certainly got the relevant authority and are in legals to get to 60 by the end of the year, but until they are signed, it’s a bit like transfer gossip in the final days of the transfer window!” Earlier this week, the company said there was no sign of young people losing their desire to go out after it reported a strong performance across its 47 clubs and bars since reopening its venues in July last year. It said spend per head had increased 23% to £21.82 (2019: £17.71), while venue Ebitda increased 112% to £26.3m (2019: £12.4m), or 40% when omitting the “post covid surge” between July and September last year. Rekom UK said there had been an increase in total dwell time, with guests arriving earlier and staying longer, while a continued focus on full price sales had resulted in a reduction in free admissions and discounting. 

Young’s acquires family-owned Surrey pub: London pub operator Young’s has acquired a family-owned pub in Surrey. The company has bought the freehold of The Half Moon in Windlesham from the Sturt family, which has owned and operated it for more than a century, in an off-market deal brokered by Fleurets. The site features a premium community-focused pub and restaurant, large beer garden and terrace and car park set in 0.7 acres. The Half Moon will continue to trade initially while Young’s works on plans to further develop the business. It follows the acquisitions by Young’s earlier this summer of two Buckinghamshire pubs – Merlin’s Cave in Chalfont St Giles and The Bedford Arms in Chenies.
 
Grind opens first international site, in Los Angeles: Coffee brand Grind has opened its first international location, with a coffee shop and bar within Soho House’s new venue in Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles. Grind announced its international expansion plans last year, with a focus on the US, and the Los Angeles site adds to its nine locations and three mobile carts in London. The group has had a presence in the US since 2020 due to its partnership with Soho House, for whom it is exclusive coffee supplier. “We’re excited to build on our existing global partnership with Soho House to open our first US location,” said David Abrahamovitch, founder and chief executive at Grind. “It’s been amazing to serve our coffee to all Soho House members over the last two years, and this new store is just another way we continue to build on that partnership.” In August 2021, Grind raised £22m ($30m) of investment off the back of “explosive” growth in its at-home coffee products during the covid lockdowns. It was the group’s third round of equity crowdfunding following those in 2017 and 2019. Grind, founded by Abrahamovitch and Kaz James in Shoreditch in 2011, also moved into a new 15,000 square-foot coffee roasting facility in Bermondsey last year to keep up online demand.

Freehold of East Dulwich site let to Stonegate sold for £2.21m: The freehold of The Lordship pub in Lordship Lane, East Dulwich, which is let to Stonegate Group, has been acquired by a private investor for £2.21m. The property, arranged over three storeys and totalling circa 7,000 square feet, is let to Stonegate for a further 24 years. The sales price reflected a net initial yield of 3.19%. Jack Silvani, director at Coffer Corporate Leisure, which acted on behalf of the vendor, a private consortium, said: “Although property prices are not linked to inflation there is a strong correlation between the two. Real estate is therefore considered a strong hedge against inflation. We are in an uncertain economic and political environment. Secure, long-term investments are incredibly difficult to find. We believe the pub sector, which has battled through enforced closures as a result of covid-19 and emerged in rude health, will remain robust in-spite of the short-term economic challenges. Consequently, we expect the market for prime investment assets to remain strong in the pub, and wider leisure sector.” AG&G acted on behalf of the purchaser. 

Depop founder Simon Beckerman secures $7.2m of new investment for new Delli app: Delli, the new venture from Depop founder Simon Beckerman, has announced a $7.2m (£6.2m) capital raise. The funding was co-led by Balderton and HV Capital, the VC investment firms, that were also original investors of Depop.  The company said that the app was created by Beckerman after spotting a shift in behaviour and trends within the world of food, in a manner similar to his observations of the fashion industry and subsequent creation of Depop. Delli was created as a platform for the new generation of food makers in the UK. Marie Petrovicka, former vice-president of Markets at Depop, joined Beckerman as co-founder and chief operating officer earlier this year. The company said: “Delli wants to inspire the next generation to express themselves with food and be seen at the forefront of all these side hustles and support young people finding new ways to experiment with food and showcase their creativity. Delli uses the ‘drop’ model seen in fashion to sell products (where a limited amount of a new product is released at a set time) — this mechanic helps build excitement around each product, but also importantly to Delli's mission - combats obstacles small producers can face like managing food waste, cash and ingredient flow. By supporting the small producers of this world, Delli aims to change the broken food industry.” Beckerman said: “Delli's success over the year, from the 200 makers already signed up to the app to units sold, highlights that there is space in the market for Delli and a consumer desire for its service.”
 
Boparan Restaurant Group opens second Sainsbury’s Restaurant Hub to kick-start roll-out: Boparan Restaurant Group (BRG) – the owner and operator of brands including Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Carluccio’s, Giraffe and Ed’s Easy Diner – has kick-started the roll-out of its food courts within Sainsbury’s stores with a second opening. The first Restaurant Hub under the partnership launched last year, on a trial basis, at the Sainsbury’s superstore in Selly Oak, Birmingham. A second site has now opened at the Sainsbury’s in Sydenham, south London – the first of at least 30 the supermarket company  plans to open this year, followed by up to 250 over the next three years if the concept proves popular. “We’re excited to have opened our second The Restaurant Hub in partnership with BRG, giving customers in Sydenham the chance to enjoy a meal in-store, or at home, from a great selection of restaurant brands,” said Sainsbury’s commercial food director Rhian Bartlett. “We have worked really hard to create a brilliant destination for local customers, and I feel sure the new offer will be enjoyed for many years to come. We look forward to using the learnings from The Restaurant Hub in Sydenham, together with ongoing feedback from Sainsbury’s customers and colleagues, to help us as we open more. Our investment in this programme is part of our wider ambition to ensure our stores are a hub of inspiration that delight our customers with great value and distinctive, tasty food.”
 
Fridays launches £10 meal deal: Fridays has launched a £10 meal deal. The deal, which is available all day Monday to Thursday until 29 September, allows customers to enjoy any appetiser of their choice, a portion of house fries or house salad and an endless refill soda from the Coca-Cola range. Included in the offer is Fridays new corndog ­– smoked hotdogs in a crispy batter and drizzled with mustard and ketchup; tacos with garlic and lemon chicken, lettuce, pineapple, chilli, coriander, lime and pico de gallo; loaded potato skins; and sesame chicken strips, which are also available as a plant-based version. Rhiannon Scarlett, chief marketing officer at Fridays, said: “At Fridays we believe in spreading positivity and giving people a reason to celebrate no matter what day of the week. We are pleased to be bringing this great offer to our guests throughout September to continue the summer feeling as life adjusts back to post-holiday routine.”
 
Interesting Hotels returns to profit as it builds back from pandemic: Interesting Hotels, which is owned by West Midlands businessman Roger Hancox, has reported turnover increased 60.5% to £15,974,000 for the year ending 31 December 2021 compared with £9,955,000 the year before. However, the figure was still below the £17,507,000 reported in 2019 – the last full year prior to the pandemic. The business saw a pre-tax profit of £3,143,000 compared with a £235,000 loss the previous year (2019: profit of £500,000). No dividend was paid. In his report accompanying the accounts, Hancox said: “During the periods we were able to open, pent-up demand led to a significant uplift in sales. This demand, together with successful implementation of a number of strategies, tight control of costs and the government's support including VAT reductions and kick-start grants enabled us to maintain a good level of profitability. During the year we continued with our programme of capital investments aimed at enhancing the guest experience. Despite our ongoing search for acquisitions we were unable to identify any suitable opportunities. This shortage of suitable properties has continued into 2022.” Hancox founded Interesting Hotels, which operates seven sites across the UK, in 2012.
 
Former Soho House Group GM to oversee launch of new bar and restaurant concepts at PPHE: PPHE Hotel Group, the company which develops, owns and operates hotels and resorts, has appointed former Soho House Group general manager, Jamie Kerr, as executive vice-president restaurants and bars. He will oversee the launch of JOIA, the flagship restaurant, bar and rooftop at art’otel London Battersea Power Station, due to open later this year. He will also lead and develop the new concepts going into art’otel London Hoxton, set to open in early 2024. Kerr will oversee the group’s established TOZI Restaurant & Bar, Chino Latino and ARCA concepts too. As well as Soho House, he has also worked as general manager at Mama Shelter Shoreditch and held entertainment sales roles with Firmdale Hotels. As part of his team, Velio di Nolfo has been promoted to restaurant and bars operations director Europe, holding responsibility for ARCA Amsterdam, TOZI Amsterdam, Carstens Brasserie and developing new concepts in Rome, Zagreb and across mainland Europe. Greg Hegarty, chief operating officer at PPHE Hotel Group, said: “It is a very exciting time for the group, and the creation of the restaurant and bars division builds on our well-established passion for food and beverage operations. Jamie’s wealth of experience adds another layer of expertise as we develop the division further. Our congratulations also go to Velio. Having already played a significant role in our restaurant and bar operations, we are excited to see what he brings to our concepts across mainland Europe.”
 
Alton Towers landlord agrees ‘innovative’ £257m property deal: Property investor LXi REIT has agreed an unusual deal to forward-sell income from theme parks Alton Towers and Thorpe Park to pay off £232m of debt. LXi agreed a £385m takeover of Secure Income REIT earlier this year. Secure Income’s portfolio included Alton Towers, Thorpe Park and Warwick Castle, with long-term deals in place with leisure operator Merlin Entertainments. LXi has sold a 65-year “income strip” to an unnamed UK institution for £257m. It represents 30% of the annual rental income received from the Thorpe Park and Alton Towers assets, operated by Merlin. The proceeds will be used to fully repay the £232m of debt LXi has secured against Thorpe Park and Alton Towers, as well as Warwick Castle. The deal is structured so LXi has sold the freehold of the properties, but taken 999-year leases and will pay annual rent of £8.2m. LXi said this is “a small proportion” of the underlying profits from the Merlin deal. LXi can then acquire the freehold back from the buyer for a nominal price of £1 in 2087. Merlin currently has 55 years left until its first break. Simon Lee, fund manager of LXi REIT, said: “We are delighted to have signed this innovative transaction, which materially reduces the company’s debt levels while generating significant earnings accretion.” The debt that is being repaid was costing 4.95% per year, so the deal “has created a material level of earnings accretion”, the company said.
 
Brakspear appoints head of food for Honeycomb Houses managed division: Pub operator Brakspear has appointed Ken Umasanthiram as head of food of its Honeycomb Houses managed division. Umasanthiram will oversee all aspects of the food offer in the ten-strong estate. He will work with the chefs and general managers at each pub and the Honeycomb Houses marketing team. Umasanthiram has worked across the hospitality sector, including a number of years at Bill's, where he held senior roles involving menu development, chef training and operations. He has also worked in the USA, opened the first Popeyes UK site and was personal chef to bands Kaiser Chiefs and Korn. Brakspear has also appointed James White as operations manager, responsible for five Honeycomb Houses including the recently redeveloped Bull in Henley, and the Nag's Head, set on its own island at Abingdon Bridge. Brakspear chief executive Tom Davies said: “We're delighted to welcome James and Ken, whose skills and industry experience will be an enormous asset. Like all operators, we are facing a raft of challenges from team shortages to supply chain issues and spiralling energy costs. We believe, though, the Honeycomb Houses ethos of ‘Our House, Your Home', is creating a culture among our teams where they are focused on delivering high standards, happy in their work and loyal to their pub. We will continue to build on this and are confident it will stand us in good stead both to weather adverse trading conditions, and to further develop the Honeycomb Houses division.”
 
Just Eat Pay launches in Ireland: Just Eat for Business, the delivery company’s corporate catering and office food arm, has launched its flexible food service for businesses, Just Eat Pay, in Ireland. Just Eat Pay is designed for a hybrid workforce and allows employees to order from a wide variety of food options via Just Eat’s 3,300 Irish restaurant and convenience partners. There are no fixed costs and companies can manage their account online through a customised dashboard. Amanda Roche-Kelly, managing director of Just Eat Takeaway Ireland, said: “With a complete overhaul of how we work post pandemic, Just Eat Pay will allow corporations to offer its employees next level food benefits, no matter where they choose to work.” Just Eat Pay launched in 2019 and is already in operation in a number of Just Eat Takeaway markets across the UK and Europe. It has also launched the Just Eat Pay Card, a new debit card that not only works through the Just Eat website and app, but also at selected Mastercard and Maestro merchants in Ireland and internationally. Matt Ephgrave, managing director of Just Eat for Business, added: “We are delighted to continue to add further markets such as Ireland to this product offering. Just Eat Pay has been hugely successful in the UK market for corporate businesses, and the UK market has seen great uptake of the service.”
 
Caprice Holdings to open Scott’s on the River in Richmond this month: The Richard Caring-backed Caprice Holdings will open its new Scott’s on the River site, in London’s Richmond this month. As Propel revealed in May last year, Caring has taken on the former Revolution site in Whittaker Avenue for a Scott’s on the River concept he has been toying with for a while. The riverside restaurant – which opens on Monday, 26 September – 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 of the River Thames and the perfect backdrop for year-round alfresco dining”. Open daily for lunch and dinner, the kitchen will be overseen by chef director Tim Hughes and head chef Tom Fraser.
 
Haute Dolci to make Scottish debut: Premium dessert and gourmet burger concept Haute Dolci is to open its first Scottish site on Friday (9 September). It will open in Edinburgh’s St James Quarter, its 14th site overall, creating 30 jobs. Nizam Mohammed, chief executive of Haute Dolci, said: “At Haute Dolci, everything is designed and fashioned with care, using the finest ingredients sourced from gourmet food suppliers around the world. Combined with the highest level of service and an unrivalled ambience, we are creating that ultimate dining experience. Haute Dolci is all about the experience and this is reflected in everything this concept is about. It’s all about perfecting those finer details and exceeding every aspect of the guest experience from the ambience, service and the food.” Mohammed also founded artisan dessert restaurant chain Heavenly Desserts but sold the brand’s rights in July 2021 to focus on rolling out Haute Dolci and his other gourmet burger concept, Iceburg.
 
Franco Manca opens second Hove site: Franco Manca, the Fulham Shore-owned sourdough pizza brand, has open a second site in Hove. Propel revealed in February the David Page-chaired business was exploring an option in the East Sussex city, where it already has a store at 1-2 Regent Street. The new location is at 128 Church Road. Franco Manca operations manager Steve Smith said he is “delighted” to follow up on the “phenomenal demand” of the restaurant’s first Hove location. He added: “Our one-of-a-kind sourdough offering has proved to be very popular with diners in the area, and we’re thrilled to be able to cater to more residents and tourists alike.” Fulham Shore now operates circa 70 Franco Manca sites and more than 20 Real Greek restaurants. The company said last month it is still on track to deliver 18 new restaurants in the current financial year.
 
92 Degrees eyes Scottish debut: Independent coffee roaster 92 Degrees is lining up its first site in Scotland. The company, which operates 11 sites in Liverpool, Leeds, Manchester, London and Southport, has submitted plans to take over the former Henderson’s vegetarian cafe at 92 Hanover Street, Edinburgh. Henderson’s closed in 2020 after nearly 60 years in business, and the building has lay vacant since. Last week, 92 Degrees, which was founded in 2014, secured a unit in Spinningfields for its third Manchester site, which is set to open in the coming weeks. The opening marks part of the next stage of the brand’s nationwide growth plans, which will see it open another eight sites after securing £1.4m of private investment in June. The group aims to have a 15-strong portfolio by the end of the year and to grow to 30 sites by the end of 2023.

London Lebanese restaurant set to double up following six-figure HSBC investment: London Lebanese restaurant Yamal Alsham is set to open a second venue following a six-figure investment from HSBC. The funding package has allowed the venue, located a 5 The Boulevard in Sands End, Chelsea, to acquire a new 39,000-square foot space at nearby Imperial Wharf. The new restaurant will feature indoor and outdoor dining for up to 140 diners alongside a deli, pizzeria and fast-food stalls. It also has a state-of-the-art events space that will be able to host up to 30 events a month and will provide 48 jobs. Owners of the restaurant, which was founded in 1971 and offers “Syrian and Lebanese cuisine that blends traditional and innovative recipes against a backdrop of fantastic entertainment”, are anticipating a £5m turnover over the next 12 months. Ioannis Antypas, head of marketing at Yamal Alsham, said: “Yamal Alsham has always been a family-owned and run business, and this incredible investment gives us the opportunity to expand our reach further and continue to develop the hospitality experience our customers enjoy. We are working hard to create a truly stunning facility that will allow patrons to enjoy mouth-watering Lebanese and Syrian dining, alongside providing further jobs for the local community.”
 
Permission sought to demolish EventCity and SoccerDome in Manchester for £250m water park and well-being resort: Permission is being sought to demolish EventCity and the vacant SoccerDome in Manchester to make way for a £250m water park and well-being resort. Peel L&P is behind the application that would lead to the creation of Therme Manchester. The company has submitted plans to Trafford Council to knock down the 28,000 square-metre EventCity conference and exhibition space in Barton Dock Road. If approved, the 18-acre resort would be located opposite Trafford Palazzo and The Trafford Centre and is expected to be open in 2025, creating 1,200 jobs. The development is expected to feature a waterpark, thermal bathing, a well-being spa, "immersive" digital art, an on-site urban farm and botanical gardens. It will also include a green “vertical forest” multi-storey car park to be located at Peel L&P’s Trafford Palazzo as well as an all-season urban beach and waterslides surrounded by plants. There will also be a snow room, multi-sensory showers, oxygen rooms and a visitor and education centre. James Whittaker, Peel L&P’s executive director of development, said: “Therme Manchester is an attraction like no other and it’s exciting to be making preparations to bring the UK’s first resort of this kind to TraffordCity.”

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