Story of the Day:
Rise in alcohol duty will ‘push sector businesses over the edge’ warn industry leaders, price of a pint could hit £7 in some cities: A rise in alcohol duty will “push sector businesses over the edge”, industry leaders have warned. The Night Time Industries Association said a double-digit duty increase to spirits and other categories would decimate already struggling independent clubs, pubs, bars and restaurants across the UK. It said the projected impact of alcohol duty without a retail price increase will reduce the operating liquor margin by more than 5%. With the culmination of trade being down by 15% on average versus 2019 and costs up more than 30% across the board, thousands of small and medium-sized enterprises are at risk, the trade body said. Spiralling production costs could drive up the average price of a pint of beer to £7 in some cities, Scottish brewer Brewgooder has warned. Chief executive Alan Mahon said the price of raw ingredients, such as wheat and barley, were rising faster than the rate of inflation. He added carbon dioxide was now costing 3,000% more than it did this time last year. NTIA chief executive Michael Kill said: “If the government wants us to be part of the great resurgence and growth, it has to give us a stable platform to grow and the financial headroom to survive. We need the government to extend business rates relief, restructure the energy subsidy as a clear cap on energy costs and cut VAT across the board, leaving no one behind.” Rob Star, founder of Electric Star Pubs, added: “We have been hit from every angle over the last 12 months. The cost of the drinks we sell has been steadily increasing since the start of the year, with some suppliers increasing their prices multiple times – there is clearly a limit to how much of this can be passed to the consumer. How many more companies need to throw the towel in before our government realises it is pushing all of us over a very high cliff with nothing to break our fall?” Michelle Armstrong, owner of the four-strong Eden Group in Scotland, said the business will close without immediate action on soaring energy costs, VAT, alcohol duty and interest rates. She added: “Footfall in most pubs and clubs is already down 50% since lockdown, so every possible cut back on operating costs have been made.” The government has now delayed its autumn statement until Thursday, 17 November because it wanted to ensure the programme “reflected the latest and most accurate economic forecasts”.
One day to go before release of updated Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies, 30 businesses being added:
A total of 30 new multi-site companies, operating 190 sites, have been added to the next edition of the Propel Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies, which will be released tomorrow (Friday, 28 October), at midday. The updated Propel Multi-Site Database,
which is produced in association with Virgate, includes regional restaurant and hotel operators, growing bakery brands, and expanding franchise operators. Premium subscribers will also receive a 2,200-word report on the new additions to the database. The comprehensive database is updated monthly and provides company names, the people in charge, how many sites each firm operates, its trading name and its registered name at Companies House if different. The database now features 2,704 companies. Premium subscribers will also receive the next edition of the New Openings Database
on Friday, 4 November, at midday. It focuses on newly announced openings and upcoming launches in the sector and is updated every month. The next edition also includes a 9,000-word report on the new additions to the database. Premium subscribers also receive access to the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book,
which is 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 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.
Industry to stage third protest to urge government to make policy changes to prevent ‘catastrophic’ sector closures: The hospitality industry is to stage a third protest urging the government to make policy changes to prevent “catastrophic” closures within the sector. HospoDemo will return to Parliament Square on Monday, 14 November. Campaigners from across the hospitality industry will come together, clanging the tools of their trade, to stand up for their industry, making three main demands of the government. These are a VAT reduction to 10% on food and drink sales, including alcohol sales; reinstatement of the business rates holiday; and introduce a visa scheme to allow overseas workers to work in the sector again. Dressed in their work uniform, they will come equipped with pots, pans, ladles, cocktail shakers, wooden spoons, last orders bells and other hospitality-related tools with which to make themselves heard. At 11am, all protestors will turn to face the Houses of Parliament and make as much noise as possible to ensure the sound resonates within the building, before marching on to HM Treasury to do the same. Sacha Lord, night-time economy advisor for Greater Manchester, said: “As a sector, we came together over the last few months and unified our calling on the government. We don’t need handouts; we need a reduction in VAT and business rates relief. It is now clear to me that not only do the government not care about the third biggest sector in the UK, it is quite happy to sit back and watch it collapse. If it will not listen to us, we have no alternative but to make it listen. This is businesses, jobs and lives we are fighting for.”
Irish clubs set to stay open until 6am under new laws: Nightclubs in Ireland are set to stay open until 6am under new laws from 2023. Irish nightclubs currently have to close at 2.30am with a special exemption order that venues have to apply for at a cost of €410 (£356) per night. But under new licensing laws being drafted this week, that is set to change with venues being permitted to sell alcohol until 5am with a licence, while dancing will be allowed to continue until 6am. The new legislation aims to overhaul existing licensing laws and bring Ireland up to speed with other European countries.
UKHospitality endorses learning and skills report: UKHospitality has endorsed Lord Blunkett’s Learning and Skills report, saying the recommendations could bring an array of benefits to the sector. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The recommendations echo much of what we have been calling for over many years, such as the introduction of an apprenticeship and learning levy. There is a huge amount of work already happening within hospitality to invest in our people and correct the historical culture of underinvestment in skills and training in the UK. Initiatives recommended in the report such as a National Skills Taskforce, individual learning accounts to share the cost of development and a learning and skills passport are all practical measures that could deliver great success. However, it’s important new measures don’t simply replace and duplicate work already happening so there needs to be an assessment of how best these recommendations could be implemented. In addition to investing in the next generation’s skills, there are unprecedented vacancies in the sector now. There needs to be a dual approach from government in addressing both the immediate needs of the sector and future-proofing to ensure we build sustainable solutions.”
Uncertain times pull City staff back to the office: More office workers have returned to their desks in the City than at any time since the onset of the pandemic as economic warning signs flash red. The Times reported as bond markets struggled to recover from the government’s mini-Budget, more than 75% of workers in the City were at their desks on Thursday, 13 October, according to data compiled by Google, which tracks the movement of some of its users. However, office attendance continues to be lower on Mondays and Fridays as staff opt for hybrid working and go to the office three days a week, Bloomberg reported. In recent months there has been a significant rise in hybrid working and it is now the most common pattern for British office workers. Clarity on hybrid working plays a significant role in attracting workers, with 80% of office staff listing home working as a factor in a new job. However, in research conducted by Landsec, the commercial property landlord, and Censuswide, a research firm, 29% of respondents said they felt dissatisfied with their employer’s arrangements for hybrid working. This rose to 52% for those in graduate and entry-level roles. The survey found hybrid work had become an important working model for the well-being of workers, with 70% of respondents stating they found it easier to protect their mental health when dividing their work between the office and home.
Pub Governing Body reports highest level of compliance yet in latest audit: The Pub Governing Body has reported the highest level of compliance yet in its sixth annual audit of companies operating up to 499 leased and tenanted pubs. The audit is based on codes of practice published by the Pub Governing Body and covers 1 August 2021 to 31 July 2022. The audit found no referrals were made to both the Pubs Independent Conciliation & Arbitration Service and to the Pubs Independent Rent Review Scheme. Pub Governing Body chairman Sir Peter Luff said: “The fact no tenant has had to resort to these dispute resolution services over this period is the clearest proof the codes overseen by the Pub Governing Body are working. Indeed, the sixth report of the board of the Pub Governing Body shows the highest level of compliance with those codes yet, and this after five very encouraging years of reports.” Sir Peter is to stand down as chairman after eight years in the role with James Anderson, a partner at licensing solicitors Poppleston Allen, taking over from Sunday, 1 January.
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with an international leading consultancy firm that is looking for a food and beverage project manager based in Romford. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “You will ideally have experience within the hospitality food and beverage sector and a great track record of delivering complex food and beverage projects. While working closely with the internal design team, it will be your responsibility to take ownership of the allocated projects and manage them through the design process from concept creation to completion. It will also be your responsibility for liaising with clients, hotel, food and beverage operators as well as the project design team while ensuring all internal resources are scheduled for timely management of project deliverables. You must have a vast amount of knowledge and experience leading food and beverage projects in hotels and restaurants and be comfortable presenting at senior board level.” The salary is up to £85,000. For more information, email email@example.com
Rosa’s Thai makes international debut with Dubai opening: Rosa’s Thai, which is backed by TriSpan, has made its international debut, with an opening in Dubai. The Gavin Adair-led business, which was founded in 2007 by Alex and Saiphin Moore, opened its first site in the Middle East earlier this week in The Walk, at the Jumeirah Beach Residence. The launch in the region has been done in partnership with Eathos, which has launched seven concepts in close to 40 locations across the Middle East, including Tortilla. Nadim Majdalani, chief executive of Eathos, said: “Rosa’s Thai Dubai will have its own unique and distinctive character, while still staying true to the flavours and family recipes created by founder and chef Saiphin. The brand will fill a void in the local Thai casual dining scene, and we look forward to celebrating its success across the GCC.” Adair said: “Dubai is a thriving melting pot of cultures, people and, of course, cuisines, making it an ideal site for the group’s very first location outside of the UK. We are delighted to work hand-in-hand with Eathos, seasoned restaurant operators and brand creators that are behind almost 40 exceptional existing restaurant-locations in the UAE and Saudi Arabia.” Propel revealed last month that Rosa’s is set to open a site in Nottingham before the end of the year. The business, which operates 30 sites in the UK, has secured the ex-Loch Fyne site in the city’s King Street. In September, the brand opened on the former Fielders retail unit at 54 Wimbledon Hill Road. The company also operates two delivery-only kitchens in London, in Dulwich and Blackwall. The Wimbledon launch followed openings earlier this year in Cardiff, York and London’s King’s Cross. Propel also revealed in April that Rosa’s Thai is set to take a unit at the Jackson’s Corner scheme in Reading.
Hostmore appoints Debby Newman as marketing director: Hostmore, the parent company of Fridays and Fridays and Go, has appointed Debby Newman as its new marketing director, Propel has learned. Newman was at The Body Shop for almost four years, most recently as its head of event planning and activation. Prior to that she spent more than two years as a marketing manager at Merlin Entertainments. Earlier this week, Propel reported Hostmore is to close its 63rd+1st site in Harrogate next month, just one year after opening in the town. The concept named after the street that the Fridays brand hails from also operates sites in Cobham, Edinburgh and Glasgow. Earlier this month, it was reported Hostmore has been targeted by veteran fund manager Christopher Mills, who has demanded it scale back expansion plans and instead return cash to shareholders. Last month, Hostmore said it would pause new openings until it began to see some “green shoots of recovery” in the UK. Chief executive Robert Cook told investors while it was on track to deliver 100 Fridays and 25 of its 63rd+1st cocktail bars, it was not planning on opening any new restaurants in the first half of 2023.
Exclusive Hotels and Venues parent returns to profit as turnover nears pre-pandemic levels, secures new £35m banking facility: The Manor House Hotel (Castle Combe), the parent company of Exclusive Hotels and Venues, has reported a return to profit as the business saw turnover back above £50m. The business has also secured a new £35m banking facility. Turnover increased to £52,228,840 for the year ending 27 March 2022 compared with £16,093,045 the previous year when it was severely impacted by the covid pandemic. Turnover was almost on a par with pre-covid levels with the company reporting revenue of £52,568,698 in 2020 when the final month of trading was also impacted by covid. The business reported a pre-tax profit of £10,719,114 compared with a loss of £3,958,921 the year before (2020: profit of £3,351,837). Ebitda increased to £14.5m from £30,000 the previous year. No dividend was paid (2021: zero). In March this year, the business secured a new banking facility of £35m to replace existing bank loans, including a £5m revolving credit facility. The group also has a bank overdraft facility of £4m. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “We continue to invest in the product with an emphasis on bedroom refurbishments around the group. We have also continued to add experiential features such as hot tubs around the properties and put an emphasis on upgrading the experiential elements of the bathrooms such as feature showers. Where possible we have upgraded outdoor space.” The company has a six-strong estate of luxury hotels across the south of England that feature golf clubs, spas and Michelin-starred restaurants. Its portfolio comprises 14th century hotel and golf club The Manor House in Wiltshire; Surrey’s Pennyhill Park; Winchester wedding destination Lainston House; South Lodge in West Sussex; Royal Berkshire country house, near Ascot; and Fanhams Hall in Hertfordshire. It also operates the Castle Inn pub in Castle Combe in the Cotswolds.
Ex-Big Table Group CMO Andrew Carlill joins Punch on interim basis: Andrew Carlill has joined Punch Pubs as interim marketing and strategy director, Propel has learned. Carlill has joined Punch while the company’s current marketing and strategic director Russell Danks takes a six-month sabbatical. Carlill was previously chief marketing officer at the Big Table Group, the Epiris-backed operator of Café Rouge, Bella Italia and Las Iguanas. Carlill joined the Alan Morgan-led business last October, after 15 years at Marston’s, including time as its group marketing and commercial director, and managing director of pubs and bars. He left in the summer. Last month, Propel revealed Big Table Group, which also owns the Banana Tree brand, had restructured its business team to ensure greater focus on brand performance. As a result, Morgan, who will continue as chief executive, has also taken the role of managing director of Las Iguanas, with Lisa Gibbons appointed as managing director of a portfolio of brands including Café Rouge, Amalfi, Center Parcs concessions and Big Table Group’s franchised business. The group is currently recruiting for a managing director for Bella Italia. As part of the restructure, the business created new chief operating officer and HR director roles within Las Iguanas and Bella Italia, and also streamlined some of the group/shared roles, including chief marketing officer, to focus more on the individual brands.
EG Group opens Cinnabon store in Chester for 25th UK site and largest to date: Roadside and forecourt operator EG Group has opened a flagship store in Chester city centre for US bakery brand Cinnabon. Spread over two floors and spanning 1,635 square feet, it is the largest Cinnabon store in the UK. The store can accommodate more than 30 customers dining in, and outdoor seating is also available. As well as Cinnabon’s signature cinnamon rolls, customers can also order the newly introduced ice cream brand, Carvel. The menu includes soft serve, sundaes, waffle cones and milkshakes. EG Group now operates 25 Cinnabon stores in the UK. EG Group signed a deal in late-2020 to roll out 150 sites under the US bakery brand across the UK over the next five years.
Greggs extends Primark partnership with cafe opening at London store: Food-to-go operator Greggs has extended its partnership with Primark by opening a cafe on the top floor of the department store’s London flagship Oxford Street East store. The new cafe follows other recently opened, high-profile Greggs shops in London including Leicester Square, Liverpool Street station and Tottenham Hale station. It is also the latest in the line-up of a range of services in the Primark store, including a nail and beauty bar and WornWell by the Vintage Wholesale Company, a new vintage clothing concession. The 110-seater cafe offers sausage rolls, bakes, pizza, sweet treats and freshly ground coffee. It features a double decker inspired bus with booths for those dining in, a Greggs phone box with interactive digital games, and a vintage style free-standing bike. Tony Rowson, property director at Greggs, said: “Since opening our first Tasty by Greggs in February this year, it’s been brilliant to see fans enjoying the world’s biggest and most Instagrammable Greggs in Primark, Birmingham. Opening our second in Primark’s flagship Oxford Street East store will be yet another milestone in our wider London expansion.”
Greene King partners with Burton chef to launch new Jamaican inspired dishes: Brewer and retailer Greene King has partnered with Burton-on-Trent chef, Monica Holton, to create new Jamaican dishes. Following an introduction to the business via Unity, Greene King’s employee-led inclusion group, Holton – who is head chef at Dattie’s Soul Food – was invited to host a cook-along to celebrate Black History Month in 2021, where she demonstrated her unique take on home-cooked Jamaican classics. Given the growing trend for Caribbean cuisine, the food development team at Greene King invited Holton to work with it to create two new exclusive dishes – jerk chicken and ribs, and a classic Jamaican chicken curry, which have since made their debuts nationwide in Hungry Horse and Flaming Grill pubs respectively. Jason Marshall, business analyst and Unity lead, said: “It’s exciting that what started as Unity raising awareness of Black History Month with a cook-along celebrating Jamaican heritage and cuisine, has now led to a great collaboration between Monica and Greene King. Our food development team was really impressed with Monica’s dishes and could see the opportunity to add authentic Jamaican dishes to our menus.” Holton added: “Our goal at Dattie’s Soul Food is to share the wonders of Jamaican heritage and culture with the world, so we were delighted when Jason invited me to cook with the team.”
Shaftesbury launches pop-up incubation space at Chinatown London: West End landlord Shaftesbury has launched a pop-up incubation space at Chinatown London, with wheelcake concept Dragon Cat Café the first occupant. The unit, at 15A Little Newport Street, has been designed by Shaftesbury to host small businesses on a short-term basis. As part of Chinatown London, the incubator space will focus on operators that create authentic east and south east Asian products. Dragon Cat Café is an independent concept founded in 2018, selling bubble tea and an array of hot and cold Taiwanese snacks. From the incubator space, it will be able to focus purely on freshly made wheelcakes, a fluffy, filled Taiwanese pancake. Classic flavours such as red bean, matcha, and vanilla custard will be on offer alongside unique creations such as Oreo cheesecake and cheeseburger as the business explores new flavours. Julia Wilkinson, restaurant director at Shaftesbury, said: “Nurturing emerging brands has long been a key part of Shaftesbury’s strategy, and Chinatown London has a great history of doing just that; dozens of our existing tenants trialled their concepts here, and many have since taken further sites across the portfolio and elsewhere.”
Nottingham restaurateur steps in to save city fine dining venue from permanent closure: Nottingham restaurateur Amita Sawhney has rescued a city centre venue that was forced to close due to “sky-rocketing” costs. Indian restaurant Masala Junction closed on 15 October after a series of “unrelenting challenges” exacerbated by the pandemic hit its bottom line. It was opened seven years ago by Naj Aziz. Now, Sawhney, who owns fine dining Indian restaurant MemSaab in Maid Marian Way, has stepped in to save the day and plans to reopen Masala Junction on Monday (31 October). Aziz said: “Moved by the sad circumstances of our closure, Amita felt strongly this was not how the journey of our beautiful restaurant should end. Much to my surprise and delight, and I hope yours too, Amita offered her energy and resources to ensure Masala Junction will continue to stay open and thrive! I’m delighted the legacy of Masala Junction will continue and the team will stay together.”
SSP extends relationship with Swedish airports to operate 18 new F&B and convenience store outlets: UK-based transport hub foodservice specialist SSP Group has agreed a new deal that will see it open a total of 18 food and beverage and convenience store outlets at Stockholm Arlanda and Gothenburg Landvetter airports. Across all five of Stockholm Arlanda airport’s terminals, the new outlets will be a mix of renowned international brands, bespoke concepts tailored exclusively for the airport, and on-trend local names. They include casual dining concept Eatery Garden and a food market area named Sky Market that will allow passengers to choose from a range of international food options. The new units are scheduled to begin opening from summer 2023. The Gothenburg Landvetter airport offer will include a new coffee concept called Fika, which has been designed to evoke authentic Swedish cafe culture. Björn Olsson, managing director at SSP Sweden, said: “Throughout a number of decades, we have built a strong relationship with the teams at Arlanda and Landvetter. This has enabled us to understand their needs and those of their customers to create a food and beverage offer that will appeal today as well as in years to come.”
Gareth Bale and The Depot to open second Par 59 site in December: Football star Gareth Bale and Welsh independent entertainment brand The Depot will open a second site for their new mini-golf bar and restaurant concept, Par 59, on Friday, 9 December. The venue will be located above Lane7 in Millennium Promenade and follows the original bar in Cardiff, which launched earlier this year. The new site will be home to a “premium bar, exceptional food from independent kitchen, Dirty Birdie, with plenty of space for casual dining and socialising”. There will be two nine-hole mini golf courses and four interactive dart boards. Nick Saunders, founder and managing director of The Depot, and co-founder of Par 59, said: “We’ve had a really great response to Par 59 in Cardiff, and hopefully, we can replicate that here in Bristol.” In March, Bale’s company, Elevens Group, and The Depot opened the first Par 59 at the 23,000 square-foot site of the former Liquid/Life nightclub in St Mary Street, Cardiff. It is understood the concept is working with Cardiff-based property advisors Fletcher Morgan to build a pipeline of new openings, with sites in Exeter, Bath, Newcastle, Southampton, Liverpool, Manchester and Edinburgh under consideration. It is also thought the business will look overseas, with an opening in Dubai on its target list.
New operator sought for Simpson’s in The Strand: A new operator is being sought for Simpson’s in The Strand, one of London’s most historic restaurants. Established in 1828, the venue has played host to the likes of prime ministers Winston Churchill, Benjamin Disraeli and William Gladstone and was also a favourite of author Charles Dickens. The venue near Covent Garden was forced to close in March 2020 owing to covid restrictions. Propel understands Davis Coffer Lyons has been hired to find a chef or brand willing to take over the site. Located adjacent to the Savoy Hotel, the site provides 20,000 square-foot over four floors in a “series of historic rooms with flexible planning to allow a host of hospitality uses”. The site also has a licence allowing trade through to 3.30am on Wednesdays to Saturdays.
South west hotel group hands staff almost £200,000 as reward for summer work: South west hotel group Philema Hospitality Management has rewarded its staff with a nearly £200,000 bonus pay out after a surge in demand over the summer. The family-owned company operates the Fistral Beach Hotel and Spa and The Esplanade Hotel in Newquay, in Cornwall, and Boringdon Hall Hotel & Gaia Spa, in Devon. The business said its staff had offered “great service” during the busy peak summer season amid the huge demand for UK staycations. A total of £182,166 was paid out to 325 employees who worked for the hotel group between April and September, in addition to commission, service charges and manager bonus. The company said the individual bonus figure for each staff member would vary depending on the hours worked. “We appreciate the last few years have been difficult for the hospitality industry and with the surge in demand for staycations, our teams have had to go above and beyond to offer an exceptional service to each and every guest who visited us this summer,” said Laura Cameron, operations director at Philema Hospitality Management. “We wanted to ensure this hard work was rewarded and their commitment to our family-run business was felt. We have been exceedingly fortunate during the past 12 to 18 months and have managed to retain much of our talented staff and invest in the future of our team.” The business has six apprentice employees and said it was looking to expand the scheme next year.
London dessert lounge concept opens fifth site: London dessert lounge concept Scooperb has opened its fifth site. The business, owned by Ram and Deepali Prabhu, has opened in St Albans Road, Watford, adding to locations in Rayners Lane, Alperton, Hounslow and Basingstoke. Inspired by the flavours and aromatic spices of south Asia, it offers eggless, vegetarian and vegan handcrafted ice creams, as well as milkshakes, waffles, crepes, sorbets, sundaes, baklava, cookie dough, brownies and falooda. The Prabhus said: “Customers have been travelling to our other locations and asking us when Scooperb will be opening in Watford, and now the Watford community will be able to enjoy amazing unique ice cream flavours and desserts.”
Five Guys to open in former Frankie & Benny’s site in Telford: Better burger brand Five Guys is to open a new site in Telford, Shropshire, on Monday (31 October). The restaurant will be at Forge Retail Park in the town centre in the premises previously occupied by The Restaurant Group-owned brand Frankie & Benny's, reports Shropshire Live. Five Guys opened its first UK store in Covent Garden in 2013 and rapidly spread across the UK, with 155 branches now open.
Kokoro lines up Coventry site: Sushi and bento brand Kokoro is lining up an opening in Coventry. The company has lodged plans with the city council to open in the former Holland & Barrett store in Broadgate. The site would have a takeaway focus “with some seating available”, reports Coventry Live. The business, which was founded in 2010 by Ray-Kyu Park, operates 57 sites in the UK having opened its latest store, in Durham this month. The company also has further openings lined up in Hastings and Portsmouth.