Story of the Day:
Lawson – the government has created a crisis of confidence for our customers, energy suppliers behaving in an incredibly hostile manner: Jonathan Lawson, chief executive of Channel Islands and West Country brewer and retailer Liberation Group, has said the government has created a crisis of confidence for customers. He argued any relief provided to them through energy support “pales into insignificance when compared with the impact of rising interest rates and the impact on mortgages and disposable income”. He told Propel: “The current government talking about a focus on growth is a bit like a bad football coach telling their team to score more goals. It has created a crisis of confidence for our customers, and any relief provided to them through energy support pales into insignificance when compared with the impact of rising interest rates and the impact on mortgages and disposable income. We, as a sector, should also not be thanking it for the support on energy when it has failed to finish the job and ensure suppliers actually behave in a constructive and responsible way to us. Currently, with only a few exceptions, suppliers are behaving in an incredibly hostile and aggressive manner, and I would go so far as to suggest some are looking to profiteer out of this situation. The prime minister and chancellor claim to understand what businesses want; all we need above all else is stability and certainty, and what they have provided is the complete opposite and discourages investment to drive growth. Furthermore, they completely ignored the sector’s calls for a reduction in VAT and suspension in business rates, two decisions that would have encouraged us to invest in our businesses, create jobs and invest in our people. The hospitality sector has already proved its major role in driving GDP growth in this country, and I am proud to lead an amazing team of people, which with the support of a fantastic investor, has managed to navigate a two-year pandemic and come out as a stronger and larger business, and one that is excited and positive about the future. But I have held my head in my hands over the last few weeks with the ineptitude of this government, and if that’s its attempt at trying to help businesses, then I would rather it did nothing and just let us get on with it ourselves.”
Roy Ellis to speak at final Propel Multi-Club Conference of 2022, three free places per company for operators:
Roy Ellis, founder of Mission Mars, the Albert’s Schloss and Rudy’s Pizza operator, 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”. Ellis will discuss evolving an award-winning bar and restaurant concept, expanding a pizza brand and creating a sector-leading culture. Operators can book up to three free places per company by emailing email@example.com
Latest edition of Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book being sent to Premium subscribers today:
The latest edition of the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book
, which is produced in association with Mapal Group, will be sent to Premium subscribers today (Friday, 14 October), at midday. The Blue Book now features 638 companies following the addition of another 18 companies, while accounts have been updated for 35 businesses. The Blue Book shows more sector companies are making a profit than a loss for the first time since the pandemic. While total losses of £5.4bn are being reported by 314 companies, a further 324 sector companies are reporting total profits of £1.7bn. They are turning over a collective £32.3bn. 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 access to three other databases: the Propel Multi-Site Database
, produced in association with Virgate, the New Openings Database
, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Almost a third of Brits now opting for cocktails in bars, with martinis rising in popularity: Almost a third of Brits are now opting for cocktails when drinking in bars, pubs and restaurants, with martinis rising in popularity, according to new findings. CGA by NielsenIQ’s latest consumer research, conducted across 12 European territories, revealed 31% of Brits are typically drinking cocktails when they visit the on-premise. This is in line with a trend across the continent as a whole, where 31% of consumers said the same (up three percentage points higher compared with 2021). This compares with 41% in France and 26% in Portugal. Although the mojito remains the most popular choice in the European on-premise as a whole, the martini was up four percentage points on last year in the UK and also saw an uptick in Italy (up one percentage point versus 2021), yet dropped significantly in Germany (down six percentage points versus 2021). By contrast, the espresso martini dipped five percentage points in the UK and one percentage point in France but was up three percentage points in Italy. Graeme Loudon, managing director – EMEA, said: “It’s clear although the cocktail category has continued to grow in popularity with European consumers in the on-premise, tastes can shift dramatically within a short amount of time. Consumers are continuing to explore different flavour profiles, categories and brands.”
Night-time economy advisor to be appointed in West Midlands: A night-time economy advisor is to be appointed in the West Midlands to support the region’s hospitality businesses build back from the pandemic. The West Midlands plans to build on the successes of the role in London, Greater Manchester and Bristol, where night-time advisors have co-ordinated action for their sector. The unpaid champion will be someone with significant experience and profile in the West Midlands night-time economy, with the credibility to speak for the region’s businesses, lead plans and policies with partners and ensure the region’s night-time economy thrives. To kickstart the process, the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) is opening recruitment for a night-time economy senior policy advisor, whose role will pave the way for the night-time economy advisor. Andy Street, the mayor of the West Midlands and WMCA chair, said: “Despite the challenges and cost pressures facing business, hospitality remains a critical sector for our region and an area with major potential for future growth. But it remains under-represented, and as we bounce back from the economic shock of covid I believe now is the time to bring in a champion for the night-time economy who can help galvanise and lead the sector.” As well as working with the West Midlands Growth Company, the advisor will be co-opted on to the newly convening West Midlands Hospitality and Tourism Advisory Board to ensure a joined-up approach for the sector. They will work together to draw up a night-time strategy for the region and ensure better cohesion and outcomes for the sector.
Smart tech keg rental set to launch in UK: A keg rental firm that uses smart technology to enable “better rotation, fresher deliveries, faster collections and greater reusability” is set to launch in the UK. Konvoy’s technology also logs data such as temperature and removes the need for manual tracking, scanning and administration. Based in Australia and New Zealand, it will enter the UK and Europe market in early 2023, offering both long-term rentals and tracking technology for brewers who wish to retain their own fleet of kegs. Christian Barden will head up the new UK and Europe business as chief executive, while Chris Beardow has been appointed operations director. Adam Trippe-Smith, managing director and founder of Konvoy, said: “Europe particularly has been a hard nut to crack in terms of convincing brewers of the huge potential cost reductions, improved margins and reduced carbon footprint involved in leasing and renting kegs rather than buying your own. We are setting out to change all that and help bring the beverage industry into the 21st century.”
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a contractor specialising in high-end business and industry that is seeking an account director. A COREcuitment spokesman said: “The business is looking for someone who has strong commercial acumen. The role is to develop and lead the team and to enhance the operation. A strong financial understanding and proven KPI focused target achievement is needed. The ideal candidate will have a sound understanding of the foodservice sector but will also understand this role is about more than a catering offering.” The salary is up to £75,000 and the position is based in London. For more information, email email@example.com
Ennismore’s team of ‘bespoke F&B concept creators’ steps up operations with launch of 17 outlets in a year: Carte Blanched, an in-house team of “bespoke food and beverage concept creators” from Gleneagles and Hoxton hotels owner Ennismore, has stepped up its operations with the launch of 17 outlets since 2021. London venues Seabird at The Hoxton and Bibo at Mondrian Shoreditch; Dubai’s Tandoor Tina and Fi’Lia; and Four Corners at The Hoxton in Barcelona are among those added to the 40 brands in its portfolio. In all, Ennismore has 100 lifestyle hotels, featuring 190 restaurants and bars, which generates around 50% of its total revenue. Its Carte Blanched team creates new and develops existing brands for hotel owners – from strategic development and market research to brand identity, recruitment, training and marketing. In addition, before fully launching, it will test a new concept in a three-month pop-up at La Cave, its incubator kitchen situated beneath The Hoxton in Holborn. Ennismore has now unveiled the team of operators, chefs and mixologists creating the concepts for its lifestyle brands. The team includes Ennismore founder Sharan Pasricha; Jules Pearson (formerly of The Hoxton); Wayne Brown (ex-Disruptive Restaurant Group, SBE and Marina Bay Sands); Alex Ghalleb (previously with Soho House, Gold Notting Hill and Pizza East); Nick Comaty (formerly of Nammos Dubai and the Mina group to hotels); Gareth Evans (former operator of Jason Atherton’s bar venues worldwide); Micaela Philippo, (ex-Pachamama, Chicama and Farm Girl); Caroline Strauss (previously of Bar Lab and Starr Restaurants); Carmen Tomasic (formerly of Merivale group, QT hotels and Ultra Music festival); and Peter Macias (ex-Sawyer, Kettle Black and Kimpton La Peer Hotel). Pasricha said: “Carte Blanched is a new approach to how we deliver extraordinary drinking and dining destinations, from concept to execution, for our owners and hotels, and is one of the vital ways that sets Ennismore apart from our competitors.” Pearson added: “Being able to work with incredible partners such as Selin Kiazim and Laura Christie or Monica Berg and Alex Kratena ensures our new food and beverage concepts push boundaries and are best in class. We collaborate with our partners to take what they’re famous for and add a different spin, so it works for the market and brand it’s going into.” Among several new projects being launched by the team are Floating World (a Japanese-influenced restaurant with immersive design and flamboyant cocktails); Dollars (a sandwich bar concept in partnership with Park Bench Deli’s Andre Andrei Soen); Chet’s (a Thai-Americana restaurant in partnership Kris Yenbamroong of Night + Market); Bottega di Carna (an Italian inspired restaurant in partnership with Dario Cecchini); and Mr Nakamoto (an American steakhouse with Japanese flavours inspired by 1950s Manhattan).
Baer – sales up double-digit on this time last year, consumers still value the community pub: James Baer, managing director of Amber Taverns, the wet-led, freehold community pub operator, has told Propel the business has traded ahead of 2019 over the last few weeks and “up double digit on this time last year”. Baer said: “Trade in the last ten weeks has actually moved ahead further than where it was in the summer. In the summer, a lot of consumer emphasis was on getting a holiday in the sun, which obviously had been denied to them for the previous couple of years. We also felt some of our customers were taking advantage of going to music festivals again, which again had disappeared. In the last few weeks, we've traded ahead of 2019 and up double-digit on this time last year. We're generally pleased with where trade is. Consumers still value the community pub. We opened a new pub in Ashton-under-Lyne in Greater Manchester around two weeks ago, which has started encouragingly. We’ve got another three sites in development or just about to start development, which will open before Christmas.” Baer said the business was looking at both retail and licensed premises opportunities for growth. He said: “Our site in Bridlington is an ex-M&S store, while planners are getting more supportive in recognising the role hospitality has in keeping high streets alive. We see that trend continuing. The rise in interest rates will maybe make some freeholders who thought they would tough it out with an empty property think a bit more carefully about that. The Ashton site was an existing pub, and only one of the three we are developing now is ex-retail.” Earlier this year, Propel revealed the business had appointed Sapient Corporate Finance to help it review its options. Baer wouldn’t be drawn on how that was going but said: “Continued growth has to be our focus and to keep doing a good job for our existing community customers.” In the year to 30 January 2022, the business reported sales of £56,165,941 (2021: £29,990,081), up 87% year on year due to the severity of the impact of the covid-19 pandemic on trading during the prior year. Operating profit was £7,972,888 (2021 loss of £7,936,103), while company Ebitda stood at £14.24m (2021: £2.08m). It said as part of a strategic review, the company engaged Savills to perform a valuation of its estate in June 2022 that better “reflected the post-pandemic trading results”. The valuation, dated 18 July 2022, of its 158 pub estate stood at £217,610,000 (2021: £145,395,000).
Peggy Porschen gears up for international expansion, in talks with potential franchisees: London bakery brand Peggy Porschen is gearing up for international expansion and is in talks with potential franchisees, Propel has learned. The brand, founded by Peggy Porschen in 2003 as a bespoke cake business, opened a debut brick-and-mortar site in Belgravia in 2010 followed by a second, in Chelsea, in 2019. It is now exploring opportunities for growth in the Middle East and has appointed David Singleton, founder of Dubai-based strategic advisory practice Oraculi, as its advisor on global growth. “We’ve been considering our next move for some time, and a combination of brand strength, international opportunity and strategic advice brings us to the Middle East in the search for our first location,” Porschen told Propel. “We’re an ambitious brand, but we are also determined to protect what we have so carefully built in the UK. We’d love to see multiple openings across the Gulf region over the next five years, with a strong interest in other major international cities too, but we will only do so in the right locations and with the right partners. London will always be our home, but we have long held a foothold on the international stage, and it’s time for us to step up and realise the brand’s potential in a global setting.” The company’s growth will be through a mixture of company-owned and franchised sites, ensuring it grows in a “sustainable way” and is “here for the long term”. Porschen said: “It’s so easy for a brand to lose relevance, and we are mindful of what could happen if the wrong steps are taken. With this in mind, we are employing a hybrid growth model of fundraising and franchising. We are engaged in several conversations and are excited by the opportunities on the table, and we remain open to talking with equally passionate parties who feel they identify with our brand.” Porschen added the company saw a return to pre-pandemic levels of footfall over the summer, helped by events such as the Platinum Jubilee and introducing a summer collection at its parlours. “We are a small team and remain nimble when it comes to our menus and how we connect with our audience,” she added. “Our afternoon tea offering has really taken off since its launch in 2020, and this is something we’ve been able to evolve and become well-known for.”
Flat Iron set for Kensington opening: Flat Iron, the Piper-backed affordable steak concept, is set to open in London’s Kensington next spring, Propel has learned. The Tom Byng-led business is understood to have secured the ex-Le Pain Quotidien site in Young Street for what will become its 12th site in the capital. Propel understands Flat Iron is looking for further opportunities to grow next year in both London and regionally. Earlier this month, the business opened its latest site on the former Le Pain Quotidien site in Westfield London. It followed an opening earlier this year in Waterloo, opposite The Young Vic in The Cut. Richard Negus, of AG&G, acted on the Kensington deal.
Pho secures Bournemouth site: Vietnamese street food restaurant group Pho is to open a site in Bournemouth before the end of the year, Propel has learned. The TriSpan-backed, 36-strong business has secured the former XOXO site in the Dorset town’s Bourne Avenue, with an opening scheduled for early December. The restaurant will open just along from the Ivy Collection, which is set to open next spring. Last month, Pho – which earlier this summer opened on the ex-Solita site in Low Petersgate, York – appointed Colin Williams, formerly of Honest Burgers, as its new head of property. Williams joined Pho after more than three years at Honest, where he was head of property and head of maintenance. The Patrick Marrinan-led Pho, which earlier this year opened in Royal William Yard in Plymouth, has further openings lined up in London’s Borough and Jubilee Place, Canary Wharf. The latter is believed to be a smaller site for the business and will focus more on grab and go and delivery. It is also believed to have lined up a further site in the north that is close to completion.
Rico Sabor to open fourth site in the south east: Latin American-influenced restaurant concept Rico Sabor is set to open its fourth site in the south east, in Greenwich, Propel has learned. Rico Sabor, which is the brainchild of husband-and-wife team Julian and Marcella Ramirez, will open its latest restaurant before the end of the year on the former Market Table site in Cutter Lane. The company opened its first restaurant in Gravesend offering Spanish and Mexican food in 2016. Three years later it opened in Rochester, and in October last year launched a third restaurant, in Dover. The couple also operate Mexican street food diner and deli, Mexicano, just a few doors away from their Rico Sabor site in Rochester High Street.
Breakfast potato waffles among five new McDonald’s menu items, three for a limited time: Breakfast potato waffles are among five new menu items being introduced by McDonald’s – three of which will be available for a limited time only. From Wednesday (19 October), customers will be able to buy three waffles for £1.39, or as a side to other breakfast meals, until 11am. The Bacon BBQ Stack burger, which was first introduced last year, will also be returning, while a Twirl option will be added to the McFlurry menu, available in regular (£1.69) and mini (£1.19) sizes. All three will be available until the end of November. Some more permanent arrivals will be the new McCrispy chicken burger, which will replace the Chicken Legend from next Wednesday, and nacho cheese wedges, which will land a week later – on Wednesday, 26 October – priced at £5.99 for a sharing box.
Daisy Green confirms launch of most ‘ambitious and largest project to date’: Australian restaurant group Daisy Green Collection has confirmed it will launch Paradise Green, its most “ambitious and largest project to date”, in London’s Bishopsgate, next Wednesday (19 October). As revealed by Propel this summer, the 13-strong business will open at 100 Bishopsgate, alongside Fazenda and WatchHouse. The new 10,000 square-foot space has been designed to bring together “art, design and food on an epic scale in an art gallery-style restaurant”. The company said the new concept is playfully inspired by Surfers Paradise on Queensland’s Gold Coast, where co-founder Prue Freeman spent her university years. The company recently opened Johnny Green on the former Gate site in Allitsen Road, St John’s Wood. Earlier this summer, Daisy Green launched floating barge restaurant Peggy Jean, which is moored on the Thames at Richmond Bridge.
Ice cream and frozen yogurt brand Yolé seeking franchisees to aid expansion in UK and abroad: Yolé, the world’s first no-sugar ice cream and frozen yogurt brand, is seeking franchisees to aid its expansion in the UK, US and Europe. The Spanish brand, which this year added plant-based vegan ice cream and sugar-free bubble waffles to its menu, arrived in the UK last summer after building a presence in countries such as Portugal, Singapore, Cambodia, and Indonesia. Having opened five UK sites by January 2022, this September saw the opening of the first Yolé and Wok & Go, the Chinese noodle takeaway bar, under one roof, in London’s Shoreditch. The move was led by former Subway franchisees Milad Nawaz and Salman Qureshi, who are the UK master franchisors for both brands. The pair are now looking to sign up more franchisees as they move into the next stage of their expansion. Qureshi said: “Our plan initially was to open one store to see if the brand would work in this country. To our surprise, despite the challenges that the hospitality industry has faced we were able to open five stores in our first year, and the response has been incredible. Now we want to roll it out across the UK, and to do that we need franchises. Our aim is to sign up potential franchises to at least three stores.” Nawaz added: “We started in London as we felt if we could successfully launch the brand here, then it could be something we could take across the country.”
More than £56m owed by three Signature Living hotels and a gym before they collapsed into administration: More than £56m was owed by the companies behind three hotels and a gym owned by aparthotel developer and operator Signature Living before they collapsed into administration, it has been revealed. The firms behind The Dixie Dean Hotel in Liverpool, Rainhill Hall near Prescot, Shankly Hotel in Preston and a gym in Liverpool’s Shankly Hotel all called in Kroll Advisory in August. Each company operated separately from one another, but were all part of the wider Signature Living family of companies. Signature Living itself went into administration in April 2020. Signature Eden, which is the company behind the 100-bedroom The Dixie Dean Hotel in Liverpool, owed more than £15.5m to its creditors when it entered administration. More than £6.4m is owed to unsecured creditors. Since the administration, all staff have been retained to run the hotel, which opened in 2019, while a sale of the business and assets is being sought. Rainhill Hall has operated as a hotel and wedding venue since 2017. Loyola Hall owes its creditors more than £10.4m – £2.1m of which is to unsecured creditors. Kroll said it is currently talking to agents with a view to selling the business and its assets. Signature Living Preston is the company behind the Shankly Hotel in Preston, which has yet to open. The company had been in the process of a £15m development of the hotel, which is housed in a 118-year old former Post Office building in Market Street. When finished, the grade II-listed building is set to include a 65-room hotel with bar, restaurant and wedding and events suite. Signature Living Preston owes more than £22m to its creditors, including £6.8m to unsecured creditors. Kroll said it is in talks about putting the business and its assets up for sale. Signature Living Lifestyles holds the leasehold interest to a gym in Liverpool’s Shankly Hotel. The company owed more than £8.2m to creditors when it entered administration.
BrewDog to open ‘biggest and boldest site’ yet with Las Vegas rooftop brewpub launching in December: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog will open its rooftop brewpub in Las Vegas in December. The company said the site in downtown Sin City, its ninth in the US, will be its “biggest, boldest, and most ambitious craft beer venue to date”. Located atop the Showcase Mall in the Paradise Strip, opposite the MGM Park Casino, the 30,000 square-foot venue will open on Friday, 2 December. The taproom will benefit from a ten-barrel brewhouse, creating exclusive small-batch brews. It will also hold 96 taps, which is one of the largest beer offerings in any BrewDog bar in the world. Alongside the staple BrewDog pizzas and burgers will be seafood platters, lobster and haggis. Co-founder James Watt said: “Nothing tops Vegas, but our rooftop brewpub and urban oasis is our most epic BrewDog location yet. Las Vegas is a city where everything is turned up to 11, all the time, and now it has the ultimate craft beer experience; one that is carbon negative.”
Subway sees record-breaking sales with Subway Series campaign: Subway is celebrating its Subway Series marketing campaign, which has led to record-breaking sales numbers. The company reported an 8.4% increase in like-for-like sales year-on-year for the third quarter, with a nearly 11% increase in September. More record-breaking numbers include an increase in like-for-like sales of 7.4% for the eight-week launch of the campaign versus the same eight-week timespan for the chain’s 2021 Eat Fresh Refresh campaign. “The results from the Subway Series launch and the positive reaction from guests and franchisees demonstrates our transformation strategy is working,” said Trevor Haynes, president of Subway North America. “As we continue to evolve from a default choice to a destination for our guests, our priority remains working alongside our franchisees to find new and exciting opportunities to elevate the guest experience and drive profitability and traffic.” In the third quarter, the chain also consistently exceeded weekly average unit volume records set in 2012. The Subway Series, a campaign of new sandwiches and a simplified ordering process that removes the restaurant’s famous customisation element, launched earlier this year.
Deliveroo criticised for linking up with buy now, pay later provider Klarna: Deliveroo has been criticised for its new partnership with buy now, pay later provider Klarna, that allows customers to buy takeaways and groceries on credit. The Klarna payment option allows people to order a takeaway on Deliveroo and pay for it either in full within 30 days or in three instalments over 60 days. The latter option is for orders of £30 or more. Carlo Mocci, chief business officer UK & Ireland at Deliveroo, said: “Millions of people are already choosing Klarna and we’re giving customers more choice and more flexibility with a safe, secure way to pay online.” However, the move has been criticised by finance experts and politicians. Martin Lewis, MoneySaving Expert founder, tweeted: “Dear Deliveroo, do you really need to pump debt as a way to pay for takeaways? Borrowing should only be if needed, for planned one-off budgeted purchase, not a cheeky Nando’s.” The move was also condemned by Rosie Parry, Labour councillor for Deptford in south east London, who called both brands “gross predators” for encouraging customers to use buy now, pay later services amid the cost-of-living crisis.
Owner of Park Lane hotel reports trading improving ‘considerably’ and expects 2022 performance to be ‘towards pre-pandemic levels’: The owner of the Como Metropolitan Hotel in London’s Park Lane has said trading has improved “considerably” in 2022 and expects its financial performance this year to be “towards pre-pandemic levels”. The company reported turnover increased 66% to £7,096,715 for the year ending 31 December 2021 compared with £4,283,755 the previous year. However, the figure was still down more than half on the £20,013,012 reported in 2019 – the last full year before the pandemic. Pre-tax losses narrowed to £3,316,658 from £6,519,234 the previous year (2019: profit of £479,281). The company received £549,607 through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (2020: £1,552,194) and a further government grant of £40,832 (2020: £3,000). The business has invested £3.2m in refurbishing its block of nine apartment suites in nearby Hertford Street, which reopened in April this year. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “The improvement in financial performance during the financial year reflects a gradual recovery as the UK hospitality industry emerges from the covid-19 pandemic. The company continues to review the scope and cost of refurbishment at the Metropolitan Hotel in order to encourage growth in revenue and maintain a competitive edge with similar class of hotels operating within its vicinity.”
East Sussex cafe operator secures third site: East Sussex cafe operator Ahcene Zemouri has secured his third site. Zemouri has acquired the lease of the former Barclays Bank premises in Broad Street, Seaford, for his latest venture in a deal brokered by Flude Property Consultants. The site is arranged over the ground, first and second floors and offers more than 2,000 square-foot of space. Zemouri currently operates cafes in Bexhill and Eastbourne.