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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Tue 4th Oct 2022 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Swingers reports all sites trading ‘strongly’, full-year revenue run rate above previous forecasts at £47m: Swingers, the crazy golf brand owned by Competitive Socialising, has reported all four venues in the UK and the US are trading “strongly”. It said as of August 2022 its London venues – in the West End and City – are on a full-year run rate of £18m; Washington DC of $12m (£9m); and New York of $25m (£20m). The total revenue of £47m is above previous forecasts of £35m from earlier this year. It comes as the business reported turnover increased to £14,357,034 for the year ending 26 December 2021, compared with £4,254,520 the year before. UK revenue stood at £10,011,824 (2020: £4,254,520), with US turnover of £4,345,210 (2020: zero). Pre-tax losses increased to £6,705,190 from £3,399,091 the previous year. The business received government grants of £678,785 (2020: £1,603,613) and an insurance claim of £437,658. The highest paid director received remuneration of £290,000 (2020: £313,519). In his report accompanying the accounts, co-founder Matt Grech-Smith stated: “In 2021, the group’s London venues were subject to various covid-19 restrictions and closures as mandated by the UK government. Whenever the venues were allowed to open, there was huge consumer demand and they traded at capacity. In June 2021, Swingers launched its first US venue, in Washington DC, and has performed strongly since opening. A second Swingers US site opened in New York on 17 June 2022. As of August 2022, all venues are trading strongly. The board continues to manage the group’s cost base despite significant macroeconomic cost pressures but is well placed for growth over the coming years. The company has a pipeline of new locations in the US and the UK.” In April, the business, founded in 2014 by Grech-Smith and Jeremy Simmonds, outlined its expansion plans for the next three years as it forecast global revenue of £35m for 2022. Swingers plans to open three locations in 2023, including its second venue in Washington DC. Swingers Navy Yard, a 24,000 square-foot location, will open in February. The business plans five locations in 2024 and 2025, taking the company to 17 sites by the end of 2025. Revenue at the end of 2025 is expected to exceed £170m, and the business is expected to be valued in excess of £550m.

Industry News:

John Gaunt & Partners’ Tim Shield to speak at final Propel Multi-Club Conference of 2022, three free places per company for operators: Tim Shield, partner at John Gaunt & Partners, will be among the speakers at the final Propel Multi-Club Conference of 2022, which takes place on Thursday, 10 November, at the Millennium Gloucester Hotel in London, and is open for bookings. The all-day conference will focus on “new ways of working”. Shield examines all the key legal developments that impacted multi-site operators in 2022, and also looks at what’s coming down the track over the next 12 months. Operators can book up to three free places per company by emailing

Host of food hall operators to feature in the next edition of The New Openings Database, 14,500-word report included: A host of food hall operators will feature in the next edition of The New Openings Database. The database will show the details of 268 newly announced site openings and upcoming launches for Premium subscribers when it is published on Friday (7 October), at midday, including which company has opened a site or its plans to open one in the future. It will have details on what type of site it is and its location, and there will also be a website link to the businesses. The database is published on a monthly basis, and the next edition features food hall concept Market Place London, which has opened a third site, called Market Place Vauxhall, in the arches next door to Vauxhall station. Also added this month is JKS Restaurants, led by Karam, Jyotin and Sunaina Sethi, which has confirmed plans to open a second Arcade Food Hall, at Battersea Power Station in 2023. Meanwhile, former Prescott & Conran operations manager Peter Farrell, who has launched Epsom Social, Surrey’s first food hall, at 1 Derby Square, is included. Premium subscribers will also receive a 14,500-word report on the new additions to the database. Premium subscribers also receive access to three other databases: the Propel Multi-Site Database, produced in association with Virgate, the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book, produced in association with Mapal Group, and the UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database. 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 now 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.

Video series launches to help operators harness technology to drive their business forwards, Yapster to feature: In a new series of Propel videos, leading suppliers explain how operators can harness their technology to drive their businesses forward. In the second video, Rob Liddiard, co-founder and chief executive of Yapster looks at how technology can help you be a better leader. Liddiard will share communications activity and influence data from Bartlett Mitchell, Brewhouse & Kitchen, Buzzworks Holdings, Nobu Hotel Portman Square and many more to illustrate how forward-thinking industry leaders are increasingly fighting wars for wallet and talent with their smartphones. The video will be sent at 9am today (Tuesday, 4 October).

Hospitality year on year sales down 7% in September: Hospitality growth faltered last month, with sales down by nearly 7% versus the same period in 2021, according to S4labour data. The biggest contributor to this figure was food sales, which saw a drop of over 12.5% this year. London saw an increase in turnover of nearly 9%, largely owing to a modest base point in 2021, when much of the capital was still experiencing low footfall due to at-home working. Richard Hartley, chief innovation officer at S4labour, said: “These are a sobering set of figures. This is the first significant indicator of a change in out-of-home eating and drinking habits and is likely to be causing shockwaves through the industry.”

UKHospitality – red tape cuts will boost thousands of sector businesses and allow them to focus on growth: UKHospitality says the government’s red tape cuts will boost thousands of sector businesses and allow them to focus on growth. Business secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg has said that from today (Monday, 3 October), the threshold for larger SMEs to be exempt from certain requirements for the way companies file accounts, among other regulations, has been raised from firms with under 50 employees to those with 500 or fewer. Many businesses had told the government they are spending more than 22 staff days per month, on average, dealing with regulations, and some would deliberately slow their growth as they reach the employee threshold to avoid more paperwork. UKHospitality chief executive, Kate Nicholls, said: “We are delighted the government has listened to our calls to cut the burden of red tape on businesses. The prime minister’s plans to exempt medium sized as well as small businesses from reporting requirements and future and reviewed legislation will be a significant boost for thousands of operators in our sector and others. By removing the burden of time consuming and expensive paperwork, businesses can concentrate their efforts on investment and growth instead. Of course, larger businesses are also affected by regulation and legislation, and we would urge the government to look at minimising the burden for these businesses as well, in order to really turbo charge growth. Applying the move retrospectively would also boost growth by reducing some of the existing strain on operators.”

Price of pint to soar in new carbon dioxide supply crisis: The price of beer and bacon could be driven higher by a fresh carbon dioxide supply crisis. The Telegraph reports that the surging cost of CO2 will add £1.7bn to the cost of British household grocery bills, according to the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (EICU). The war in Ukraine has helped push up the price of a tonne of liquid carbon dioxide by 3,000% in the last year – from £100 per tonne to as much as £3,000, the EICU said. Carbon dioxide is used in a wide array of industries, but in particular food and drink, where it is used to add gas to beer and soft drinks. It is also used to stun and kill animals such as chickens for slaughter, as well as cool critical nuclear reactors and keep medicines cold. Businesses like pubs, farms and supermarkets are already paying far more for their gas than they did last year – a 71% increase when comparing the first three months of 2022 to 2021. Matt Williams, of the ECIU, said the UK’s reliance on fossil fuels could “bring the food and drink system to its knees”. He said: “Rising energy costs are creating an extra cost of hundreds of millions of pounds in the food and drink industry that customers may struggle to avoid. If high gas prices, or even blackouts, force factories to close, it could create real problems for farmers and the food and drink industry.” Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, said the industry was “typically seeing 18% increases in food and drink”. She added: “The most significant impact has been seen in carbon dioxide, where sky-high energy bills have seen plant shutdowns forecast as gas prices make fertile production unviable and pushing carbon dioxide prices above 400%. That has a knock-on effect on the cost and supply of a key component in food manufacturing and will see prices to hospitality and its customers increase further. It is a further indicator of why in the hospitality sector, energy support alone will not be enough to address the cost of doing business, and more will be needed to insulate consumers from further inflationary price increases.”

Liverpool City Council begin consultation on Late Night Levy: Liverpool City Council has begun a consultation on its Late Night Levy and whether it should be varied or removed. The consultation on the levy, which was first introduced in 2017, is now live and will run until 28 October. Following the end of the consultation, the responses will be collated and reviewed by the Licensing Committee to recommend a final decision, which will then go to Full Council for approval. If a decision to vary or remove the levy is approved, it will take effect from 1 April 2023. In September, Nottingham confirmed it would scrap its own levy, introduced in 2014, from the end of this month.

Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a well-established, international hospitality group with a diverse portfolio of brands that is looking for a commercial director. They will help expand the offer, increase customer base, drive conversion, and deliver future growth plans. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “The commercial director will be directly accountable for driving the top-line budget and forecast by implementing a commercial strategy and business plan through to execution using the companies commercial focus process and all available business tools and intelligence available. We are looking for an entrepreneurial and creative individual who is commercial astute and a natural leader with proven results in strategic growth and development.” The salary is up to £125,000 and the position is based in London. For more information, email

Company News:

Chopstix signs long-term agreement with Sparta Foods to add 25 franchise sites: Fast-growing quick service restaurant brand Chopstix has announced a long-term agreement with Sparta Foods, with the franchisee laying out a strategy of growth which will bring a development pipeline of 25 stores over the coming years, Propel has learned. The franchisee, which already has significant experience operating multi-unit QSR businesses, including the German Doner Kebab brand, opened its first Chopstix store in Newcastle-Under-Lyme, Staffordshire, in July, and will next take the noodle brand to Warrington before the end of the year. Sparta said that working closely with Chopstix franchise director Aaron Moore-Saxton, it plans to concentrate its portfolio of stores in the north west of England and north Wales as market mapping undertaken by Chopstix has indicated “sizeable scope for brand growth across these regions”. Established in Camden Market in 2002 by entrepreneurs Sam Elia and Menashe Sadik, the circa 80-strong Chopstix celebrates its 20th anniversary this year and is currently undergoing a busy period of expansion, with franchising considered a vital mechanic in it achieving its growth targets. The group has already launched a partnership with leading UK holiday park operator Haven this year, adding to existing franchisees which include Welcome Break and Applegreen. Saeed Muhammad, managing director of Sparta Foods, said: “Chopstix is one of the fastest growing QSR brands in the country and it’s a great addition to our portfolio. We’re looking forward to working with Aaron and the team to develop the brand.” Moore-Saxton said: “The qualities we look for in a new franchisee partner, Sparta Foods has in abundance. Most importantly, however, the vision the Sparta Foods team has for the brand aligns perfectly with our own. We have no doubt Sparta Foods will make a huge success of the first two sites they operate and look forward to supporting the team as they grow towards their target of 25 locations.” Chopstix plans to open at least 12 new stores in 2022, through a mix of directly owned and operated stores (equity stores) and with partners.

Urban Pubs & Bars acquires three-strong London pub portfolio: London operator Urban Pubs & Bars has taken its estate to 40 sites with the acquisition of three pubs from ZX Ventures, the innovation incubator within AB InBev, for an undisclosed sum, Propel has learned. The business has acquired the Queens Head (formerly the Goose Island site in Shoreditch), the Monarchy in Camden (where Camden Town brewery began its journey as a small start-up) and The Horseshoe in Hampstead. This takes the total sites owned by Urban to 40, which the business said marked it out as “a major player, building success in the highly competitive sector”. The company said: “The additions to the portfolio are all located in popular areas that the group have previously identified, adding to existing locations in areas such as Soho, Highgate, Fitzrovia and Kensal Green amongst many others.” No announcement has yet been made about the concepts that the business plans for the new venues. Nick Pring, co-founder of Urban Pubs & Bars, said: “We have been looking at these sites for some time and are delighted to further increase our presence in these attractive locations in east and north London.” Malcolm Heap, also a co-founder, added: “We are excited to enter this new phase of expansion with the acquisition of these three iconic venues, their positions are a natural fit with our existing portfolio.” Last year, Urban announced a partnership with Davidson Kempner and Global Mutual, which was established to support and accelerate the growth of the business. The company said at the time that it was looking to grow its estate in the capital to up to 70 sites. The transaction on the three sites was brokered by James Grimes of AG&G, who said: “I think this proves that it is not all doom and gloom in the market, and to be fair, Urban were very patient and positive in a deal that took many months. Clearly they remain optimistic about the future.”

Morris – we are keen not to price our way out of this, trialling joint Chilango/Tortilla delivery site: Richard Morris, chief executive of Tortilla, has said the business is “very keen not to price our way out” the cost-of-living crisis, but it is a question of how long it can hold its nerve. Morris told Propel: “The challenges we’ve had have been all the things that are outside of our control. We’re just going to have to focus for the next few months on working hard with our supply chain to try and find a way of mitigating some of these cost pressures. Outside of that, we’re well priced and we are very keen not to price our way out of this. We want to have a brand at the end of it, and we want to still be considered a value brand. It’s just how long can we hold our nerve on pricing? That’s a decision a lot of businesses are going to have to take, but we’ve got a strong balance sheet, we are cash generative.” In its half-year update, the business said five further sites are planned to open in the second half of FY22, with new store roll-out expected to increase to 12-15 per annum from FY23. Morris said: “We’re keen to take advantage of this property market, the single reason we weren’t able to grow quicker pre-covid is the rents were too high. But we will need to be creative at finding ways of offsetting some of these cost pressures that are not going to go away – they will be here for a year, year and a half. We’re going to do some investing in some tech stuff, because I think for businesses of our size, there are certain aspects that we can get better at. We’ve got a great relationship with our supply chain and there are options out there for us to find some cost savings. The business is in pretty good shape, and obviously our occupation costs have come down quite a lot in relation to pre-covid. This is a business of a price point with tight margins, and it needs to scale. The more we can open, the more efficient we will be. We are optimistic, but we were not stupid – we know it’s going be a very tough 12 to 18 months.” The business has also begun trialling its Chilango brand alongside its eponymous brand through its cloud kitchen in Wood Green, where it is selling the former’s more premium vegetarian and vegan items.

KSL-backed The Pig Hotels returns to profit, turnover above pre-pandemic levels: KSL-backed The Pig Hotels returned to profit in the year ending 31 December 2021, with turnover above pre-pandemic levels. The eight-strong, rural boutique hotels group led by Robin Hutson reported a pre-tax profit of £2,302,798, following losses of £1,128,468 in 2020 and £219,014 in 2019. Turnover was up to £35,383,320 from £21,522,546 in 2020 and £26,099,389 in 2019. Following the year-end, Denver-based private equity firm KSL Capital Partners acquired a stake in the group, in March 2022, and announced plans to open further sites. The company said: “During the months the hotels were open, performance was exceptional. As a group, we have an average occupancy of 91% (2020: 92%) and average restaurant covers of 1,597 (2020: 1,169) for the year to 31 December 2021. Despite the pandemic, we still managed to open the Pig in the South Downs in September 2021. As a business, we are looking to continue expanding our litter of Pigs.” Government grants totalling £2,726,537 were received (2020: £3,374,136). No ordinary dividends were paid, and the directors did not recommend payment of a further dividend.

Costa franchisee Sim Trava’s profits soar after exiting other loss-making franchises and taking on more Costa sites: Altrincham-based Costa franchisee Sim Trava’s profits have soared after exiting its other loss-making franchises and taking on more Costa sites. It reported pre-tax profits of £1,037,119 for the year ending 31 December 2021, compared to £248,298 in 2020 and £333,163 in 2019. Turnover was up to £14,202,245, from £8,854,289 in 2020 and £12,303,864 in 2019. Ebitda also increased to £1,914,962, from £1,156,402 in 2020 and £1,138,345 in 2020. The company said: “The directors previously took the decision to exit other non-Costa franchise operations which had cumulatively lost in excess of £1.6m and have been severely detrimental to our reserves. The year to 31 December 2021 represents the first full year of operating solely as a Costa Coffee franchise following the exit from these other operations. During the year, the group has made a profit before tax of £1,037,119 (2020: £248,298) and has a deficit on shareholders’ funds of £865,404 (2020: £1,453,010). The accumulated losses relate entirely to the discontinued activities of the Pita Pit and Warren’s Bakery franchises. The accounts reflect a period of significant development, with the agreement to acquire a further 17 stores from Costa. The directors believe they have now established the infrastructure to support the growth of the group without any requirement to increase the central administrative overhead. With respect to the 17 new stores, the group’s bankers are providing funding for 85% of the cost. Our primary objective over the 2022 financial year will be the integration of these new stores.” The 17 new sites, the acquisition of which were completed earlier this year, took the group’s total to 57 Costa stores in the north west and north east. It received government grants totalling £1,010,953 (2020: £2,228,549) and dividends of £252,000 were paid (2020: £224,000).

Tapas Revolution set to open in Gateshead: Spanish Restaurant Group (SRG), the team behind Tapas Revolution, has opened its latest site in Basingstoke and lined up a further opening in the Metrocentre, Gateshead, Propel has learned. The company’s latest site opened on the former Pizza Hut unit in Festival Place in Basingstoke and is trading “in-line with expectations”. The James Picton-led company said the new site opened with a newly developed menu, which will now be rolled across the remainder of the group following “positive initial feedback”. It will open on the former Handmade Burger site in the Metrocentre in early November, taking the Tapas Revolution brand to 11 sites, with a 12th believed to be at the heads of terms stage. The business has also added two new team members. Jonathan Saunders, formerly of Novus Leisure, joined the business to develop its drinks offer, initially within trial sites, while Cristian Parisi, formerly executive group chef of Salt Yard Group, will support menu development for the group and develop the overall La Vina offering in London and Manchester. Picton told Propel: “Trading remains challenging in key parts of the country. However, continued focus on food and people development is delivering positive results across the group. We are working hard with our supply chain to mitigate price inflation and managed to secure two-year fixed utility pricing just before the recent market spikes. In such a challenging trading environment, we are positively, but carefully, moving the business forwards and strengthening our teams across the country to enable us to trade robustly.”

Hippodrome Casino trading profitably and cash generative: The company behind the Hippodrome Casino in London’s Leicester Square has reported the business is trading profitably and is cash generative. It comes as the company reported turnover increased to £57,503,885 for the year ending 31 December 2021 compared with £31,433,821. However, this still was substantially down on the £92,248,635 reported in 2019 – the last full year before the pandemic. Ebitda rose to £5.0m from minus £7.9m the previous year. Pre-tax losses were up to £10,590,116 from £5,804,645 the year before (2019: pre-tax profit of £8,479,496). The group paid out £23.2m in duties, social security, PAYE, VAT and licensing costs. The tax burden accounted for 40% of turnover. The company received £3,143,626 through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (2020: £7,311,993). The number of staff reduced from 701 to 573. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “The last two years have been difficult. A reorganisation and redundancy programme in 2020, needed to limit the level of financial losses caused by covid and the residual threat of further lock downs and restrictions throughout 2021, created an environment of perpetual uncertainty. Our staff reacted magnificently, continuing to smile while coping with changed work practices and procedures and continuing to deliver to our customers an unbeatable entertainment experience. This has continued into 2022. The business is trading profitably, all deferred taxes have been repaid and strong cash flow has kept us comfortably within banking covenants and facilitated the scheduled repayment of bank debt. Customer attendance and spend remain strong and we have pushed forwarded with investments in new bar and food outlets opening in the second half of 2022. The prospects for the business are positive. As at the balance sheet date, the parent company had an outstanding loan of £14.7m made under the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme, which replaced a previous facility and cash reserves of £22.5m.”

Cubitt House in ‘strong position to increase and improve estate’: London gastropub operator Cubitt House, which is backed by funds managed by TDR Capital, the owner of Stonegate Group, has said it is in a strong position to increase and improve its nine-strong estate. The business, which recently opened the Barley Mow in Mayfair, said its focus over the next 12 months is to continue to improve its offering for guests and successfully build on the challenges experienced during the pandemic. In the year to 31 December 2021, the company posted turnover of £9.96m (2020: £6.5m), as pre-tax losses narrowed from £3.3m in 2020 to £2.26m. The company invested in its executive team, with the arrival of Sam Pearman and Georgie Pearman (the Lucky Onion group founders and Country Creatures owners), plus Sebastian Fogg, Ben Tish and Laura Montana. It used the pandemic period to develop its growth strategy, which includes the acquisition of new sites as well as investing in its staff, improving service and developing a new food offering. The business agreed with Barclays a new £5m facility in November 2021 to execute its growth and refurbishment plans. Of this, £3m was drawn down last November, and the remainder executed in April this year. The facility is due for repayment in November 2024.

Papa John’s appoints Lee Reed as senior director of operations: Papa John’s UK has appointed Lee Reed, formerly of KFC UK & Ireland, as its new senior director of operations, Propel has learned. Reed joins the delivery brand, which has more than 500 UK sites, after nearly nine years with KFC. He spent the last three years as head of franchise operations, and then director of franchise operations at the fried chicken brand. Earlier this summer, Propel revealed that Papa John’s UK had appointed Rob Payne as its new managing director. Payne joined the business from The Haulfryn Group, the family-owned UK park owner and operator of luxury holiday and residential park homes, where he was group commercial director. Last month, Papa John’s temporarily closed a number of sites across the country “while some issues are resolved”. Several Papa John's sites, which are all franchisee-owned and independently operated, closed across the country, including sites in Cardiff, Newport and Hereford as well as branches in Stoke-on-Trent, Plymouth, Guildford and Chorlton, Manchester.

Midlands McDonald’s franchisee sees turnover and profit exceed pre-pandemic levels: McDonald’s franchisee Lemaca, which operates 14 restaurants in the Stoke and Derby areas, has reported turnover increased 54% to £65,198,056 compared with £42,761,344 the year before. This also exceeded the £48,305,972 reported in 2019 – the last full year before the pandemic. Pre-tax profit rose to £4,432,061 compared with £1,606,826 the previous year (2019: £2,290,487). Gross profit stood at 65.58% compared with 65.72% and is in line with expectations. The company received £1,023,991 under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (2020: £3,609,438). The company said it plans to acquire more restaurants should the opportunity arise. The business employs more than 1,500 people. Total dividends of £177,627 were paid (2020: £113,102).

Los Mochis to double up with rooftop restaurant at London’s 100 Liverpool Street: Los Mochis, the Baja-Nihon restaurant, is to open its second site, on the rooftop of 100 Liverpool Street at Broadgate. Founder Markus Thesleff has agreed a deal with British Land to open the open flagship 14,000 square-foot restaurant in autumn 2023. The venue follows in the footsteps of Los Mochis’ first restaurant, in Notting Hill, which opened last year. As well as a pan-Pacific menu, the venue will include the ‘Tequileria’, featuring an expansive selection of rare tequilas and mezcals. Thesleff said: “The success of our debut Los Mochis restaurant is testament to the appeal of our unique cuisine and experience. We’re excited to be able to translate this success at Broadgate, pairing our Mexican spirit and Japanese elegance with one of London’s prime rooftop settings.” British Land was advised by Davis Coffer Lyons and Nash Bond.

Deliveroo opens first physical grocery store: Deliveroo has opened its debut “Deliveroo HOP” grocery store. The site has opened in London’s New Oxford Street in partnership with supermarket company Morrisons. It offers more than 1,750 grocery items, from Morrisons “Ready to Eat” and “The Best” ranges to store cupboard staples, snacks and dinner ingredients, with Deliveroo’s dedicated site team picking and packing the orders for collection or delivery. Eric French, chief operating officer at Deliveroo, said: “Our New Oxford Street store promises a new way to shop for Deliveroo customers, giving them even greater flexibility and choice.” Hannah Horsfall, head of wholesale at Morrisons, added: “The launch of Deliveroo Hop's first bricks-and-mortar store represents another key moment in our partnership.” Ahead of the launch, Deliveroo research found on average, 40% of shoppers reported buying groceries once every two to three days, bucking the age-old weekly shop trends. Younger people champion convenience, with almost half (42%) of 18 to 34-year-olds ranking it as the number one determining factor when purchasing groceries, while 38% rank price as most important. A quarter (24%) of Londoners now use rapid grocery services once a week to get their groceries. Deliveroo HOP first launched in September 2021 and now operates across 16 sites in the UK, France, Italy, Hong Kong and the UAE. Deliveroo has close to 7,000 grocery sites in the UK and Ireland, across major partners and smaller independent partners, an increase of 17% year-on-year.

Leeds operator takes on first Star Pubs & Bars lease, eyes UK and overseas roll-out: Leeds operator Ray Chan, who is behind events company Candypants as well as the Mans Market restaurant and food truck in the city, has taken on his first Star Pubs & Bars lease with Heineken. The Greedy Duck in Scotchman Lane, Morley, is a first pub venture for Chan. He will operate it under the company name Eloquent Animal Pubs, with a view to rolling out the brand in the UK and abroad. The site, which has been closed since October 2021, was formerly known as The Needless Inn and is reopening following a £250,000 joint refurbishment. Chan said: “We are keen to grow our portfolio of businesses, and the pub industry appeals due to its versatile nature. Our food truck has expanded into catering for large-scale festivals, and we discovered the derelict pub while searching for a space to centralise our Leeds operation. The pub concept has grown organically from this search, and through working with Star Pubs and Bars. We started running events 15 years ago in Leeds and have expanded to places like Miami, Las Vegas, Ibiza and the Middle East. Our Mans Market and Greedy Duck brands are being built so that they can be rolled out to any of the markets where we have operated. The Greedy Duck is an exciting project as we’ll be able to put on events and operate a dark kitchen from the premises as well.” The food offering will include ‘Yorkshire tapas’ such as Otley reared sausages with a Henderson relish, and Swaledale pork crackling with rhubarb and ginger compote. Among the drinks will be barista style coffee, ales, premium lagers, wines, spirits and made-to-order cocktails.

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