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Fri 28th Oct 2022 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

C&C boss – beer, cider and wine categories set for boost as consumers change drinking-out habits due to cost-of-living crisis: David Forde, group chief executive of C&C Group, has told Propel he believes the on-trade beer, cider and wine categories are set for a boost as consumers change their drink habits in light of the cost-of-living crisis. Speaking following the company’s interim results, Forde argued there would be a shift in what people drink while they’re out as they look for more value. “It’s still early days and the situation is so volatile,” said Forde. “I think what you will see is people will still go out ¬– they were stuck at home so much during covid – but their drinking habits will change. I think there will be fewer cocktails and spirit-based drinks being bought – I mean who’s going to want to pay £10-12 a time for a gin ‘n’ tonic for example? So I think there will be a bit of a resurgence with beer and also wine to a certain degree – more people sharing a bottle – as consumers moderate to a certain degree. I also think more women will move to cider, as it is sweet and refreshing, from cocktails.” Forde said while the company’s service levels to the on-trade have improved “quite significantly”, he acknowledged there were still issues with getting some products to operators as they prepare for the FIFA World Cup and festive season. This he said was being driven mainly by shortages of carbon dioxide and glass, but he said suppliers saw the business as an important customer because “our strong balance sheet means they are pretty confident on getting paid”. Forde said it was “inevitable” that it would have to put up prices further “because costs are going up across the board”, but they would be “reasonable”. “Our focus is on having the best price, best service and best range – that’s what we want to be known for,” Forde said. “We have 6,500 stock keeping units in our system, which means our customers can get all their products in one delivery rather than having five or six trucks turning up each week. With labour shortages and increased costs, I think simplification is going to be another emerging theme. While we are doing more business in the off-trade, 80% of our work is with the hospitality sector. We want to do what we can to support it and hope the government does its bit too.” 

Industry News:

Updated Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies released today, 28 businesses being added: A total of 28 new multi-site companies, operating 186 sites, have been added to the next edition of the Propel Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies, which will be released today (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 2,702 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 10,000-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 jo.charity@propelinfo.com 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.

Delivery and takeaway drink sales from on-trade show growing trend: Delivery and takeaway drink sales from hospitality venues are showing a growing trend, according to the latest CGA by NielsenIQ Hospitality at Home Tracker. Out of overall delivery and takeaway sales, the share of drink sales has increased 15% versus the start of 2022. Overall, while delivery and takeaway sales across managed groups are still 91% higher than they were pre-pandemic, versus last year sales have seen a dip of 11%, following the trend seen in August where combined sales were down 7.9% versus 2021. Typically drinks make up a smaller proportion of sales, within monthly delivery and takeaway sales. However, they have been showing steady month-on-month growth over the course of this year. CGA’s Food Insights report also showed of consumers who ordered delivery for the first time or more than usual in 2021, 37% were likely to order delivery from pubs and bars in the future, if available. When it comes to delivery/takeaway formats, alcohol delivery and pick-up/collection of alcohol also made up 19% of orders in 2021. Karl Chessell, CGA’s business unit director – hospitality operators and food, EMEA, said: “Lockdowns saw consumers relying on delivery and takeaways to a much greater extent than they did pre-pandemic, and exploring new options including alcoholic drinks. Operators should be exploring this opportunity given consumer sentiment.”

Mitchell – Brexit has ‘absolutely screwed’ the food industry: Brexit has “absolutely screwed” the food industry after it “ripped away” its labour source, according to Simon Mitchell, chief executive of street food collective Kerb. Mitchell told City AM the businesses at the group’s Seven Dials Market are facing staff shortages “for every single shift, every single day”. He pointed to an exodus of overseas workers from the country following Brexit and said a domestic labour pool of enthusiastic British workers “does not exist”. Food firms were struggling to hire bartenders and kitchen porters, with just six people turning up to a recent Kerb open day and then “nobody turning up for their first shift”, Mitchell said. A labour shortfall has exacerbated price inflation for diners, as businesses were having to pay “more and more” to entice workers, which was then being passed on to “the price of dishes consumers are buying at the end of the day”, Mitchell added. Independent retailers may be forced to shut shop while “mega global chains” such as McDonald’s and Tesco can afford to keep prices competitive, Mitchell warned. He called on the government to relax visa rules for overseas workers, as well as a five or 10% cut to VAT and reform of business rates for hospitality firms. The government should also support the industry’s ambitions to further promote hospitality as a career in schools, he said. After the pandemic, tourists and Londoners alike want to put their money behind independent businesses, Mitchell said. “The days of being excited about going to an ASK or Jamie’s Italian are gone.” He said trading was a two-day week affair in the City and Canary Wharf financial districts.  There was “no doubt” London had changed, with Kerb’s market in West India Quay “really struggling” as financial workers are “not back anywhere [to] near the numbers they used to be”, Mitchell said. Despite many workers in London’s financial districts continuing to work from home, Mitchell refused to declare these locations as “done and dusted.”

UKHospitality – sector needs additional financial incentives to help with net zero transition: The sector needs additional financial incentives from government to aid its transition to net zero, UKHospitality has said. In its submission to the government’s Net Zero Review, the trade body said businesses across the sector were committed to prioritising sustainability and reducing their carbon footprint but due to the ongoing cost of doing business, they need some financial assistance. UKHospitality suggested introducing targeted measures to incentivise the investment in sustainability through grants, loans or tax credits such as reintroducing the enhanced capital allowances scheme for energy and water-efficient plant and machinery that ceased in March 2020. The trade body also said there could be tax relief for businesses replacing major equipment, due to the importance of replacing old equipment with newer, more energy efficient equipment as early as possible as well as government support to upskill businesses, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises, with practical steps on how they can reduce their carbon footprint and aid the transition to net zero. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “Working towards our sustainability goals is an absolute priority for the hospitality sector and there has been a huge amount of work that has already gone into this. Unfortunately, the situation for many businesses now is that, due to the energy crisis, they are fighting to survive the winter. That does mean that cash flow is tight and confidence to invest is being quickly eroded. This reality does mean the sector would really benefit from a partnership with government to aid its transition to net zero, through financial incentives such as grants or tax credits that can allow businesses to replace equipment with greener alternatives or take part in training to boost our net zero knowledge.”

Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a catering group based in Macclesfield, Cheshire, which is looking for someone to lead on day-to-day recruitment activity. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “The position will have a particular focus on senior head office and operational appointments, providing solutions to challenging roles. In addition to having input into the longer-term planning of the recruitment function, the role will continuously review and develop recruitment practice with active involvement in various recruitment projects. As part of a small team, the successful candidate will lead the recruitment advisor and administrator in ensuring a high standard of support and recruitment resources.” The salary for the position is up to £45,000. For more information, email abbie@corecruitment.com

Company News: 

Kempczinski – even as UK customers grapple with cost of living and energy impacts, they are coming back to McDonald's because of the value we offer: Chris Kempczinski, global chief executive at McDonald’s, has said even as UK customers grapple with the impact of the cost of living and energy, the brand’s customers are coming back to it because of “the value we offer”. Speaking after the company’s third quarter update, he said: “Over the last few months, I've visited markets around the world hearing from employees, franchisees and restaurant teams about how the challenges we face globally impact our restaurants locally. Some themes came through loud and clear. There is increasing uncertainty and unease about the economic environment, and the resilience of the McFamily alongside our scale and efforts to build a more connected and convenient McDonald's set us apart. Our franchisees remain confident we have the right business plans to work together and drive growth as a system. We see this in real time. Even as UK customers grapple with cost of living and energy impacts, our customers are coming back to McDonald's because of the value we offer. No matter the issues our customers face, we are dedicated to meeting their needs. Ray Croc said it best, when we look after our customers, the business will look after itself. And I'm proud our business can be there to provide a warm space and a hot meal for families when they need it most.” McDonald’s chief financial officer Ian Borden added: “The UK built on the successful rollout driving additional adoption with exclusive app offers throughout the quarter. The focus on driving digital engagement paid off as our active loyalty members grew to more than three million in just the first three months. While the expiration of VAT benefits impacted our quarterly comparable sales in the market, we continued to grow our market share. Although our business performance has remained resilient, we recognise this is a challenging environment. The inflationary impact on costs is putting pressure on restaurant cash flows for our franchisees, particularly in our European markets. Similar to actions we took during covid, our financial strength puts us in a position to be there for franchisees that may need temporary and targeted support to ensure our system is financially healthy and aligned on continuing to drive growth.”

Wingstop CEO – the resilience of our brand is showcasing itself in a challenging UK environment: Michael Skipworth, president and chief executive of Wingstop, has said the resilience of the brand is “showcasing itself in a challenging environment in the UK”, where it continues to demonstrate strong sales. Propel reported earlier this month Lemon Pepper Holdings, which is rolling out Wingstop across the UK, had secured an opening in Newcastle, as it looks to end the year with a 30-strong estate. The company, which recently opened its largest UK site to date here under the US chicken brand, in Manchester’s Trafford Centre, has secured a site in the MetroCentre, with an opening planned before the end of the year. The business will also open in the former TSB Bank site in London Road, Southend, and in the ex-Limeyard site in Staines, over the next two months. On the brand’s international growth, Skipworth said: “We continue to expand around that south east Asia region, in addition to the success we're seeing in Europe, particularly in the UK where we're 25 restaurants strong and on target for a record development year, and even with some of the challenging macro environment the UK consumer is having to navigate, our business there continues to demonstrate strong sales. And in fact, over the past couple of months, they've actually seen margin strengthened. So, I think that’s another really strong case behind our international growth story. And not only is our brand transportable around the globe, but the resilience of our brand is showcasing itself in a challenging environment in the UK.” Earlier this year, Skipworth said the brand’s success in the UK was a “clear demonstration of the power of our international growth strategy”.

Costa Coffee begins expansion in US, brand’s performance aids Coca-Cola’s third-quarter revenue growth: Costa Coffee, the Coca-Cola Company-owned chain, has begun its rollout in the US, with an opening of a second site in Atlanta, with a third lined up. In August, the company launched its first physical Costa site at the Coda Tech Square, in midtown Atlanta. It has now opened a second in the city, inside the Goizueta Business School at Emory University. The brand has joined 14 other dining locations at Emory’s Atlanta campus, but is the only coffee shop in the business school. A third site in the city is set to open next spring in the currently being developed Lee and White food hall in Atlanta’s West End. In August, the Coca-Cola Company told Propel it is taking a “disciplined approach” to expanding Costa in the US. Up to this summer, Coca-Cola, which acquired the circa 4,000-strong Costa from Whitbread in a near-£4bn deal in 2018, had launched the coffee brand in the US as a retail range. It comes as the Coca-Cola Company said trading for Costa Coffee in the UK, as well as the expansion of the coffee chain globally, strongly contributed to 10% third-quarter revenue growth for the business. Coca-Cola reported net revenue growth of 10% to reach $11.1bn for the three months ended 30 September 2022. Sales in the company’s coffee segment grew 5%, which it said was primarily driven by the continued recovery of Costa Coffee stores in the UK following the pandemic, as well as the expansion of the Costa Coffee brand across international markets.

Paris-based Italian Trattoria concept eyes London launch: Daroco, the Paris-based, Italian trattoria concept, is planning to launch in London’s Soho, Propel understands. The business, which launched in Paris in 2016 by Alexandre Giesbert and Julien Ross, is believed to be in talks to open a site at Ilona Rose House, the mixed-use redevelopment of the old Foyle’s Bookshop site in Charing Cross Road. If successful, the new Daroco site would join Kapara, the new restaurant from former Ottolenghi chef Eran Tibi, and all-day Australian restaurant Milk Beach. Giesbert and Ross have operated a number of restaurants in Paris, including currently Daroco 16 in the French capital. 

German Doner Kebab appoints Kevin Giudici as finance director: German Doner Kebab (GDK), owned by Hero Brands, has appointed Kevin Giudici, former managing director of Harviestoun Brewery, as its new finance director, Propel has learned. Giudici spent four years as managing director of Harviestoun Brewery and prior to more than over nine years as group financial controller of Highland Spring. Last month, GDK opened a site at the Merry Hill shopping centre in Dudley. The restaurant, which has created 40 jobs, forms part of plans by the brand to open 78 new outlets across the UK in 2022. GDK now has more than 130 restaurants worldwide and plans to open 106 new sites globally this year. 

Björn Frantzén to make UK restaurant debut with Harrods opening next month: Swedish chef Björn Frantzén, who heralds six Michelin stars across a growing empire of restaurants, will open his first UK restaurant, in London’s Harrods next month. Studio Frantzén will be a restaurant, rooftop terrace and bar spanning two floors in a custom-built space within the department store. It will be a neo-Nordic concept infused with Asian influences. The 112-seat restaurant – which will open on Monday, 28 November – will offer a curated à la carte menu, with additional seating available on Studio Frantzén’s mezzanine and terrace. A Nordic inspired drinks list will be served at the bar. The rooftop terrace is the first to be custom built at Harrods. Dishes will include veal minute “ma-la” made with fermented kampot pepper jus, sichuan pepper oil, crispy shiso salad with ceps aioli and sake braised maitake; and “Sweden versus Japan” – braised Swedish dairy cow beef brisket served alongside grilled Japanese wagyu with lemongrass jus and Japanese mustard. Although it will be Frantzén’s first UK restaurant, he has worked in the capital before having had spells at both Chez Nico's and Pied a Terre at the start of his career. His self-named restaurant in Stockholm, Frantzén, holds three of his six Michelin stars. Frantzén said: “The UK was my home for a long time, and the experience that I gained here early on my career played an informative role in my education as a chef. I am overwhelmingly proud to be back in London, one of the most interesting cities in the world, to open my restaurant at Harrods.” Ashley Saxton, director of restaurants and kitchens at Harrods, added: “Bringing Björn Frantzén – arguably the most talked-about and decorated chef in the world at the moment – to Harrods is an incredible coup for the business. This will be the flagship restaurant in our already world-leading collection of the finest luxury dining experiences, and put Knightsbridge on the map as the new culinary destination for London.”

Starbucks opens 50th in-store site with Sainsbury's: Starbucks has opened its 50th in-store site in partnership with Sainsbury’s, as part of plans to open 30 new cafes within the retailer’s stores by the end of 2022. Located in the Sainsbury's West Park Farm superstore in Folkestone, and operated by regional licensee Cobra Coffee, the new cafe welcomed its first customers this week. Elizabeth Newman, Sainsbury’s director of commercial partnerships, said: “We’re delighted to have reached this important milestone with Starbucks as we work together to deliver on our plans. Starbucks has proven to be very popular with Sainsbury’s customers and I know the local community in West Park Farm has been looking forward to the launch of its new Starbucks cafe this week. We’re excited to bring Starbucks cafes to many more customers as our rollout programme progresses in the coming months, and as our partnership continues to thrive.” Rehan Sardar, director of store development at Starbucks, added: “We are pleased to be opening our 50th in-store Starbucks café in Folkestone, in partnership with Sainsbury’s. We look forward to welcoming the local community to enjoy our new dining-in and takeaway moments as we introduce the Starbucks experience across more Sainsbury’s stores nationwide.”

Five Guys set to replace Bill’s in Bracknell: Better burger brand Five Guys has applied to open a site in Bracknell, which would see it replace Bill’s in the Berkshire town. The circa 155-strong brand has applied to take on the Bill’s site at 20 Braccan Walk, in The Lexicon scheme, with the Richard Caring-backed business understood to be vacating the unit. It follows recent openings for Five Guys in London’s Victoria and Tunbridge Wells. It will open two sites on the same day on Monday (31 October) – in Camberley and Telford. The company, which opened its first UK store in Covent Garden in 2013, has further openings lined up this year in Newcastle Silverlink, Poole and Romford. Shelley Sandzer acted for Five Guys on the Bracknell deal.

Whitbread strengthens property team as it targets 125,000 bedrooms in UK and Ireland: Whitbread has strengthened its property acquisition team to drive the expansion of Premier Inn and hub by Premier Inn across the UK and Ireland. Jill Anderson, who joins the business as a property acquisition manager after almost ten years with Costa Coffee, will lead the expansion of Premier Inn in the north of England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. She has more than 25 years’ experience working in property acquisition and development having also worked in similar roles at Tesco and Somerfield. The appointment follows Whitbread’s announcement of a new long-term network target for Premier Inn in the UK and Ireland of 125,000 bedrooms – equivalent to a 17% market share – made during Whitbread’s FY23 interim results on Tuesday (25 October). Whitbread currently operates a network of 82,700 hotel rooms in the UK and Ireland with a further 8,875 bedrooms in its committed development pipeline. The business is on course to open between 1,500 and 2,000 new Premier Inn rooms this financial year and will return to opening 2,000 to 3,000 rooms per year going forward. Derek Griffin, head of acquisitions for Premier Inn, said: “We are focused on maintaining our position as the UK’s number one hotel business. Our network of hotels is trading well and with the backing of Whitbread’s strong covenant and financial firepower we are well-placed to invest in growing our estate through the cycle and deliver long-term value for our shareholders. Adding Jill to our experienced team of in-house property acquisition managers demonstrates our continued appetite to expand the business and deliver the next generation of new locations for Premier Inn customers.” Whitbread’s new long-term expansion targets for Premier Inn and hub by Premier Inn are being driven by structural changes in the UK hotels market. The company believes the supply of hotel bedrooms is 4% lower that it was pre-pandemic

Wirefox starts expansion of hotel business with St Andrews property purchase: Northern Irish private investment company Wirefox has acquired the Ardgowan Hotel in St Andrews as it begins expansion of its Marram Hotels business. The privately owned St Andrews property was acquired from the McLachlan family for an undisclosed sum. Marram plans to operate the three-star rated Ardgowan Hotel in its current form, with the existing team in situ. The purchase follows the acquisition of Northern Ireland hotel, The Bushmills Inn, earlier this year, making this the second property in the Marram portfolio. Kathryn Robinson, investment director at Wirefox, said: “As an iconic golfing hotel, it’s a great time for us to be adding the Ardgowan Hotel to our portfolio, with all indicators pointing towards a bumper year for golf enthusiasts off the back of The Open. Welcoming the current staff to Wirefox’s extended team, while continuing to trade, will allow us to gain a deeper understanding of the business and continue to provide the much-loved service guests have become accustomed to. We’re grateful the McLachlan family has agreed to work with us to ensure a smooth transition.” Housed in a B-listed Georgian townhouse, the hotel comprises 29 en-suite bedrooms, with a further seven en-suite rooms in a section of the property dating to 1820. The hotel’s Playfair's Restaurant and Steakhouse has been awarded an AA Rosette every year since 2015. It is understood Wirefox will continue to grow its Marram portfolio in the coming months.

North east Asian tapas restaurant to double up with Sunderland site: North east Asian tapas restaurant Buddha Beat is to double up. Buddha Beat offers a mix of meat, fish and vegan tapas dishes inspired by chef Andy Drape's travels in Singapore, Vietnam, Hong Kong, China, Japan and Malaysia. Drape opened the debut restaurant in Gateshead Quays seven years ago and is expanding with a sister site in Sunderland. Buddha Beat will open in John Street in the premises previously occupied by the Undisclosed restaurant. Drape has signed a ten-year-lease for the grade II-listed basement site. Drape said: “There's so much exciting work and development happening in Sunderland, and we're thrilled to be part of it.”

Nottingham late-night bar and restaurant Coco Tang goes on market: Nottingham late-night bar and restaurant Coco Tang Vietnamese Café Bar and Cocktail has been put up for sale. The venue, which has entrances in Byard Lane and Bridlesmith Gate, is being marketed by Savills with “substantial premium offers” being sought. Coco Tang opened in 2009 and is arranged over five levels extending to more than 9,000 square foot. It is held on two separate leases that both expire in September 2033 at a combined rent of £91,000 per annum. The venue benefits from a 3am licence. A spokesperson for Coco Tang said: “Built with passion, dedication and an outstanding team, Coco Tang has hosted in excess of two million guests over many years. In growth, ever popular and changing with the times, we are excited to embrace a new chapter for Coco Tang and the realisation of its potential under fresh leadership.”

Taco Bell to open Folkestone restaurant: Mexican restaurant brand Taco Bell is expanding its presence in Kent with an opening in Folkestone. The restaurant will launch on Wednesday (2 November) in the former Argos premises in West Terrace and is Taco Bell’s 111th UK site. Lucy Dee, head of marketing at Taco Bell UK, told Kent Live: “We’re thrilled to be able to bring Taco Bell to Folkestone. The Kent community has been asking for more Taco Bells and we’re pleased to be able to deliver; creating jobs despite challenging circumstances.” The brand’s other locations in Kent are in Maidstone, Dartford, Canterbury and Dover. 

Manchester cocktail bar and restaurant to open third site: Manchester cocktail bar and restaurant The Jane Eyre is to open its third site in the city. The venue will launch in Beech Road, Chorlton, in the premises that previously operated as The Parlour, which was owned by Coronation Street stars Rupert Hill and Jonny Booth. The Jane Eyre opened its original space in Cutting Room Square in Ancoats in 2018 and then a space inside the city’s Escape to Freight Island scheme. The business is named after owners Joe and Jonny Eyre’s late mother. Joe told the Manchester Evening News: “We’ve always fancied Chorlton as an area we’d like to open. It’s kind of similar to Ancoats in that it has a neighbourhood village feel. We thought we’d fit in nicely, and it’s a good next step.” The Chorlton site – which will open on Thursday, 1 December – will also offer a small plates menu, alongside breakfast and brunch dishes. 
 
London natural wine bar concept to open next month: London natural wine bar concept Oranj, which started life as an online shop and delivery service during lockdown, will open its first permanent site next month. Founder Jasper Delamonthe, a bar designer, has taken a 2,000 square-foot site at 14 Bacon Street in Shoreditch, which will feature rotating guest chefs performing residencies in a dedicated bar and kitchen, reports Hot Dinners. As well as natural wine, Oranj will be serving up Belgian beer and classic cocktails, as well as small plates like cured meat and cheese, croquetas, and tortilla de patatas. The bar will open on Wednesday, 16 November, following a soft launch earlier in the month.
 
Tim Hortons gets go-ahead for Coventry restaurant: Canadian quick service restaurant brand Tim Hortons has been given the go-ahead to open a site in Coventry. SK Group, which is leading the rollout of the brand in the UK, has been granted permission by the city council to convert the former Topshop store in Broadgate into a new 160-seat restaurant, reports Coventry Live. Tim Hortons, which made its UK debut in 2017, now has circa 65 UK outlets and a further nine “coming soon”, according to its website.
 
Newcastle operators open upmarket Japanese restaurant for third site: Newcastle operators Robert Lao, Chin Teow and Charles Tang have opened an upmarket Japanese restaurant for their third site. The trio have launched Butakun, which means “Master Pig”, in Percy Street. They believe they have identified a gap in the Newcastle market for high-quality Japanese cuisine and drinks, including sushi and ramen. Tang told Chronicle Live: “We are one of the first Japanese restaurants in the north east to serve premium Wagyu beef directly imported from Japan, which we serve cooked on lava stone. Most of our sake selection is also not available anywhere else in the region.” Lao, Teow and Tang are also behind the city's Tsujiri dessert teahouse and Chilli Padi pan-Asian restaurant.
 
Pepe’s Piri Piri lines up Basildon site: Flame-grilled chicken brand Pepe’s Piri Piri, which operates circa 150 UK sites as well as five in Pakistan and one in the UAE, is lining up a site in Basildon, Essex. The business has applied to Basildon Council to open a 24-seat restaurant in Southernhay, creating 15 jobs. Pepe’s offer a range of grilled chicken items including wraps, sandwiches, wings and tortillas. A statement with the application said: “The proposed change of use would be beneficial for the local community as it would provide for a healthy style of food, which is limited in the area.”

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