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Tue 1st Nov 2022 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Pret to roll out Express format to more than 50 UK locations by end of year: Pret A Manger, the JAB Holdings-backed brand, plans to have rolled out Pret Express, its “24/7 self-service coffee-to-go solution”, to more than 50 locations in the UK by the end of this year, Propel has learned. The company launched the new vending solution in the RaceTrack Pitstop garage in Bearsden, near Glasgow; the RaceTrack Pitstop store in St James’ Road, Glasgow; and the Garip’s Superstore (Costcutter) in Barking, Essex, in the spring. Propel understands the vending solution is currently in nearly 40 locations including convenience stores, petrol stations, gyms and post offices, with the aim to have more than 50 by the end of the year. Propel revealed in July last year that Pret, which has been seeking new routes to market as its core business in central London was impacted by the crisis, had trademarked the Pret Express name and was set to follow Costa, which operates circa 10,000 Express machines around the world, and introduce a vending format into offices, convenience stores, hospitals and petrol forecourts. Last October, Pret confirmed it had entered into a partnership with JDE Peet’s, the world's leading pure-play coffee and tea company and owner of brands including Peet’s Coffee, Douwe Egberts and Jacob, to launch the trial of Pret Express. JDE Peet’s provides the self-service technology and capabilities, with bespoke furniture designed exclusively for Pret. 
 

Industry News:

Host of American-inspired restaurant concepts to feature in next edition of The New Openings Database, 10,000-word report included: A host of American-inspired restaurant concepts will feature in the next edition of The New Openings Database. The database will show the details of 207 newly announced site openings and upcoming launches for Premium subscribers when it is published on Friday (4 November) at midday, including which company has opened a site or its plans to open one in the future. It will have details on what type of site it is and its location, and there will also be a website link to the businesses. The database is published monthly, and the next edition features North American comfort food outlet Brewski, which is planning to open its first site in Yorkshire. Also added is American-inspired fast food restaurant franchise concept Chickaros, founded in 2019 in Aldridge by childhood friends Shaz and Shudz Miah, which recently opened a site in Glasgow for its Scottish debut. Meanwhile, Scotland-based, American-style restaurant Monterey Jack’s, which is set to make it franchise debut when it opens its tenth site, in Braehead, this autumn, will be featured. Premium subscribers will also receive a 10,000-word report on the new additions to the database. Premium subscribers also receive access to three other databases – the Propel Multi-Site Database, produced in association with Virgate; the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book, produced in association with Mapal Group; and the UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database. Companies can now have an unlimited number of people receive access to Propel Premium for a year for £895 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or a supplier. The single subscription rate is £445 plus VAT for operators and £545 plus VAT for suppliers. Email 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.
 
Entry deadline extended for Restaurant Marketer & Innovator Awards: The deadline has been extended for entries to the Restaurant Marketer & Innovator Awards. The awards, in their fifth year, recognise outstanding marketing and innovation in the sector. The closing date for entries is now 11.59pm on Friday (4 November). Awards are open to restaurant, bar and foodservice outlets. There are 12 categories – Best Communications; Best New Product Development; Best New Website; Best New/Improved Visual Identity; Best Digital Engagement; Best Use of Technology; Best Community or Charitable Initiative; Innovation of the Year; Campaign of the Year; Marketer of the Year; Innovator of the Year; and Future Marketing Leader of the Year. To recognise the important relationship between agencies and their foodservice clients, the awards will recognise both the operator and all agencies involved in the delivery of campaigns and projects. Past winners have recognised more than 50 brands and agencies including Wagamama, Gail’s Bakery, YO!, Grind, Rick Stein, Searcys, Boxpark, Greggs and The Breakfast Club. Finalists will be invited to an awards ceremony on Wednesday, 25 January, in London. The awards will be delivered alongside the Restaurant Marketer & Innovator Summit. Categories, entry information and judges can be found by clicking here.
 
Atherton – with 350 unfilled jobs, I’ll have to start closing my restaurants in the new year: Chef Jason Atherton has warned he will have to start closing thriving restaurants in the new year because it has become impossible to recruit staff. The Michelin-starred restaurateur, who has seven venues in the capital, including his Mayfair flagship Pollen Street Social, told the Evening Standard he will only have a big enough team to operate “two or three” effectively if the recruitment crisis does not ease. Atherton said he has 350 unfilled vacancies – representing about a third of his workforce – and faces having to make “heartbreaking” decisions because of the unprecedented shortfall. He said January will be the “crunch time” when he would have to decide whether to mothball restaurants and just pay the rent until the crisis eases. He said: “I can’t open the Berners Tavern at lunchtime because I have no staff. I can only open for breakfast for hotel guests. Social Eating House is on its knees. I just can’t get any chefs for that kitchen whatsoever. Little Social is really struggling to get chefs as well. I can’t even find a qualified corporate chef on a big salary who would fly around the world in business class. I can’t do anything to fill that position. The people left standing are working seven days a week, 18 hours a day to keep us propped up. I’ve just had one member of my team saying they’re done with it, they're not going to put up with this rubbish anymore.” Atherton said he was furious with the government for allowing Brexit to hobble the sector. He said: “There is a really simple step that would help and that is to rejoin the single market.” Atherton said the government had made recruitment from outside the EU a bureaucratic nightmare that could not possibly make up the shortfall. He added: “We have a licence that cost us £50,000 to get talent from abroad. But the process takes six to eight months to get one visa for someone from India or the Philippines. It’s just such a slow process, it’s like putting a sticking plaster over a bullet wound.”
 
More than half of UK hospitality, travel, leisure, and retail businesses lack ethnic diversity at board level: A new report has revealed more than half of UK hospitality, travel, leisure, and retail businesses lack ethnic diversity at board level. Called “Maintaining Momentum” and published by diversity community WiTHL and sister organisation Diversity in Retail (DiR) in partnership with The MBS Group, the study supports previous research revealing more than a third of UK retail businesses have no ethnic diversity in the boardroom. It said while progress has been made towards greater diversity, the pace of change needs to accelerate if gender and ethnic parity are to be reached. Founder and chair of WiTHL and DiR, Tea Colaianni, said: “Our research clearly illustrates that while we are making progress, we still have work to do.”
 
Northern Restaurant & Bar acquired by Diversified Communications: Annual trade show Northern Restaurant & Bar (NR&B), which brings together operators and suppliers representing the sector in the north of England, has been acquired by trade show operators Diversified Communications, which is behind Casual Dining and Lunch. NR&B’s most recent edition, held at Manchester Central last March, was the most successful to date – with 8,416 visitors, 296 exhibitors, and around 60 speakers. NR&B chief executive Thom Hetherington will be leaving to focus on his non-executive roles and hospitality and cultural consultancy, while event director Andy Clayfield will remain with the show and join Diversified Communications. Hetherington said: “I am so proud of what we have achieved since acquiring NR&B almost 20 years ago. We had a very clear vision for the event, which was to make northern hospitality feel proud of it and part of it. The time has come to hand over the baton, and I am therefore delighted we have been able to find a new long-term home for NR&B in a company that shares our values and philosophy and has a very similar culture and work ethos to our own.” The 22nd NR&B takes place at Manchester Central on 14-15 March 2023. Mayfield Merger Strategies acted as adviser to NR&B owners, Holden Media.
 
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a new restaurant, bar and events space that is due to open in 2023 and is seeking to bring an experienced general manager to help build the team. This is the first of a few planned ventures. The venue will be high-end and operate across a couple of floors with a turnover that should hit about £2.5m. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “You will have a commercial and guest experience focus mindset, lead from the front to build you team, look after a front of house team of 40 plus three managers and work with the head chef. This is an instrumental and key position in the business.” The salary is up to £100,000 and the position is based in central London. For more information, email stuart@corecruitment.com
 

Company News:

Thai Leisure Group exits CVA three months earlier than expected, reports strong trading and profitability: Thai Leisure Group, operator of Thaikhun and Chaophraya, continued to trade strongly during the first half of its current financial year, which saw it exit its company voluntary arrangement (CVA) earlier than expected. The Ian Leigh-led business underwent two CVAs during the pandemic, with the second presented to a meeting of the company’s creditors on 17 September 2020, attracting “overwhelming support”. During the first half of the following 2022-23 financial year, the company said it continued to trade strongly, reporting “strong sales and profitability and a continued healthy cash position”. Following the strong trading performance, the business said it successfully exited its CVA in June 2022 – three months earlier than anticipated. It said: “Furthermore, the company has renegotiated the banking covenants to allow for investment to be made into the core estate to further enhance the revenues and profitability of some of its sites. Following the completion of the CVA, renegotiation of the banking covenants and the strong cash position, the directors believe the company to be resilient to future challenges.” It also reiterated its decision to curtail its expansion plans and focus on refreshing its existing estate and refocus on its Chaophraya and Thaikun brands. Turnover for the year to 30 January 2022 was £26,664,756 – up from £12,976,654 in 2021, as it posted a pre-tax profit of £1,820,521, against a loss of £1,881,945. 
 
JD Wetherspoon plans Covent Garden opening: JD Wetherspoon is planning to open a new pub in London’s Covent Garden, on a former Friday’s site, Propel has learned. Wetherspoon has exchanged contracts on the former Fridays in Bedford Street, which closed last September. The deal is subject to planning and licensing. If successful, Propel understands Wetherspoon aims to invest £2.4m fitting out the site and employ circa 100-120 full and part time staff. The site became the second UK opening for the Fridays brand in 1987, after its debut a year before in Birmingham. At the start of the year, parent company Hostmore began stripping the site, increasing speculation a new occupier was imminent. Last October, Propel revealed Wetherspoon and Albert's Schloss-operator Mission Mars were believed to be two of the parties interested in taking on the site.
 
Carluccio’s administrators abandon business interruption insurance claim due to ‘insufficient financial data’: The administrators of Carluccio’s have abandoned a business interruption insurance claim for covid-19 due to “insufficient financial data” being available. In a progress report, administrators Geoff Rowley and Phil Reynolds, partners at FRP Advisory, stated: “As previously advised, the joint administrators were in the process of gathering information to ascertain whether the company was eligible to make a business interruption insurance claim against its insurers because of the covid-19 lockdown. The insurers required six-12 months of financial data for each individual restaurant both before, during and after lockdown to determine the level of the loss. After reviewing the electronic data obtained from the company there is unfortunately insufficient financial data available to evidence the claim to the level required and we were unable to secure the support of the former finance staff to assist for what would have been a major exercise. Due to being unable to provide insurers with the information required, the claim cannot proceed and has been abandoned.” The report also revealed a further lease surrender has been completed, after being agreed by the respective landlord. A couple of leases remain for vacant restaurant premises that are awaiting agreement to a surrender by their landlords, the report added. In June 2020, Boparan Restaurant Group paid £3,225,000 to acquire 30 Carluccio’s sites and buy the rights to the brand.
 
Sunset Hospitality Group secures $35m of new funding: Sunset Hospitality Group (SHG), the UAE-based hospitality group, has secured $35m (£30.4m) of new funding from Goldman Sachs Asset Management to support “ambitious international expansion plans”. The company, which previously operated the Sweet Chick concept near London’s Oxford Circus, said it aims to operate more than 60 venues and grow its presence to 14 countries within the next 12 months. SHG was founded in Dubai ten years ago and is currently present across nine countries worldwide. The group owns and operates hospitality brands including METT Hotels & Resorts, AURA, Azure Beach, Sushisamba, Isola, Black Tap, L’amo, Ammos and Drift Beach. The business, which previously explored launching its Black Tap burger concept in London, said its expansion plans would include the opening in summer 2023 of flagship property METT Hotel & Beach Resort, in Marbella. It said it is also actively exploring additional opportunities within the Mediterranean region, UK, USA and Asia. Antonio Gonzalez, chief executive of SHG, said: “The investment is a sign of confidence in Dubai and the UAE as a hub of entrepreneurship and a growing centre for hospitality. We are very excited for this new chapter, and we look forward to proving our potential and accelerating our growth.” Patrick Ordynans, managing director at Goldman Sachs Asset Management, added: “Sunset has developed a number of strong brands over the last decade, underpinned by a strong management team and solid financial profile. We look forward to supporting the company’s ambitious growth plans and being part of the journey ahead.” Upcoming openings this year include Mott 32, a Chinese restaurant founded in Hong Kong; and a new high-energy lounge concept, Attiko, on the rooftop of W Mina Seyahi. Beyond Dubai, SHG aims to open 15 additional international venues. “We remain committed to growth within the UAE and wider GCC region,” said Gonzalez. “However, we also want to take our team’s talent and ambition further afield and apply all the know-how we have developed over the past decade, and export the Dubai standards of hospitality to a wider stage.”
 
TRG Leisure & Concessions division appoints Andreia Harwood as marketing director: The Restaurant Group’s (TRG) Leisure & Concessions division has appointed Andreia Harwood as its new marketing director. Harwood, who has more than ten years of experience in the UK and international markets, has joined TRG from Lemon Pepper Holdings, which is rolling out Wingstop across the UK, where she was marketing director. Prior to her time at Wingstop, Andreia spent more than a decade as a marketing executive at Wasabi, Wagamama and the Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group. During 2023, TRG will be continuing the Frankie & Benny’s refurbishment programme, adding to the 22 locations already refreshed, and launching a completely new look version of its Chiquito Mexican restaurant brand. It also plans to open several Concessions businesses across its airport estate and sign one new major franchise partnership.
 
Poke House appoints Rob Wickenden as co-country head for UK business: Poke House, Europe’s largest poké restaurant chain, has appointed Rob Wickenden as its new co-country head for the UK. For the past two years, Wickenden has been senior expansion manager (international markets) at Deliveroo. Before that he worked at AB InBev with responsibility for finding sites to roll out its fledgling Goose Island bars format in Europe. He also spent just over 18 months as real estate and development manager (UK and Europe) for Vapiano and was formerly a property acquisitions manager at Mitchells & Butlers, and an acquisitions surveyor at Wagamama. Earlier this month, Poke House confirmed it will make its regional debut early next year. Propel revealed in August the brand, which made its UK debut last year and currently has eight sites here, all in London, had targeted Cambridge for its first location outside the capital. That will now open early in 2023, ahead of expansion to other cities, which co-founder Matteo Pichi told Propel would include Manchester, Edinburgh, Liverpool and Brighton. The business, which recently opened in Battersea Power Station, will have further London sites to follow in Mayfair, Harvey Nichols, Borough Market and St John’s Wood. Founded in 2018, Poke House has more than 100 restaurants around the globe.
 
Fledgling London pub company takes second pub with Star Pubs & Bars, eyes three more: Fledgling London pub company Pubs Next Door has taken its second pub with Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars and is eyeing three more. The company, founded by Aaron Wilson last year, has just reopened The Three Compasses in Hornsey’s High Street as a premium local following a £230,000 joint refurbishment with Star. It follows their combined £175,000 revamp of The Henley Arms, North Woolwich, in November 2021. Pubs Next Door now plans to build its portfolio of community pubs across north and east London to five. Wilson said: “I’m in no rush to expand, the most important thing is to find the right sites. A prime location with good passing footfall and the potential for all day trade are critical. I’m only looking at leased pubs – freeholds are out of the question as they’re so expensive in London.” The makeover at The Three Compasses, which dates to 1896, includes corner booth seating and Chesterfield sofas, as well as a new raised dining area that can be booked for private functions. It has also introduced a water-saving SmartDispense system, has banned single-use plastic and will use biodegradable packaging or reusable containers wherever possible.
 
Farm Girl hits crowdfunding target, now overfunding: Farm Girl, the London healthy eating cafe concept, has hit its crowdfunding target of £400,002, and is now overfunding with 23 days of its campaign left. The business, which said it “survived the pandemic and came out stronger than ever”, launched a campaign through Seedrs earlier this month, with a goal to have ten Farm Girl sites and 25 Roll Baby sites operating across London by 2027. It was offering 4.2% of equity for the investment, giving a pre-money valuation of £9m. The company, which recently opened a central production unit in Fulham, has so far raised almost £420,000 from circa 120 investors. Co-founder and chief executive Anthony Hood said: “Our total gross revenues for the first six months of our current financial year 2023 (April-September 2022) reached £1,936,839, recording an impressive 168.6% increase from £720,998 in the same period last year. Average spend per transaction increased by 19% to £20.35 in the first six months of this financial year, from £17.10 in the same period last year.” The business opened its first site in Notting Hill in 2015, with a second following two years later in Soho. It currently operates five sites in total across the capital. Last year, the company launched Roll Baby, with the opening of a kiosk site in South Kensington underground station. It plans to add on average one all-day brunch Farm Girl cafe with 50-70 seats each year and four to five Roll Baby sites annually. The company said: “We have a strong pipeline of sites in various stages of development, with several already secured under agreed heads of terms.”
 
San Carlo to open Signor Sassi restaurant in Dubai: San Carlo Restaurant Group, the north west-based operator, is to open the first site in the UAE, under its Signor Sassi brand. The company is teaming up with UAE-based operators Sunset Hospitality Group (SHG) to bring the restaurant brand to the St Regis Dubai, The Palm. Slated to open in 2023, Signor Sassi Dubai will be the third Signor Sassi in the Middle East, with the brand already operating sites in Riyadh and Doha. Marcello Distefano, managing director of San Carlo Restaurant Group, said: “We’re thrilled to be working with SHG – we’ve been looking for a partner in Dubai that shares our passion for delivering the best contemporary hospitality concepts for several years.” Antonio Gonzalez, chief executive of SHG, added: “Signor Sassi has been an icon of the London culinary scene, renowned for its famous clientele, superb Italian menu, and signature dishes. Bringing this authentic concept to Dubai’s culinary scene is another milestone for SHG and a great addition to our award-winning dining venues.” Earlier this month, Distefano told Propel that trading for San Carlo has “been very strong” this year, and the company is set to make its US debut in 2023. The 25-strong business said it should finish its current financial year with gross turnover of circa £85m, with an operating Ebitda of £12m. 
 
UK bubble tea brand Cupp set to make Scottish debut: UK bubble tea brand Cupp is set to make its Scottish debut later this month with an opening in Byres Road, Glasgow. It will be Cupp’s 20th UK store and follows the signing of a franchise deal earlier this year to open 30 sites in Scotland by 2027, as revealed by Propel. The business, which was founded by Lee Peacock in Bristol in 2012, signed the agreement for Scotland with Adeel Asghar and Mikayla Whittle, of Franchise&. Cupp opened its 19th store, in Lincoln, at the end of September, and also had sites in Plymouth and London’s Walthamstow and Woolwich lined up this month. Beyond that, its pipeline includes openings in Worcester, Lancaster, Derby, Nottingham, Enfield, Aberdeen, Winchester, Blackburn, Exeter, Guildford and a second Glasgow site, in Sauchiehall.
 
North east operator sees Ebitda and profits exceed pre-pandemic levels: STR Enterprises, operator of three hotels and several holiday cottages and leisure facilities in the north east of England, saw Ebitda and pre-tax profits return to pre-pandemic levels in the year ending 31 January 2022. Ebitda rose 107% from £475,028 in 2021 to £984,361, which was also an increase on the last full year before the pandemic (to 31 January 2020), when the figure was £822,584. Pre-tax profits more than doubled from £161,690 in 2021 to £518,788 and were also up on the 2020 figure of £426,857. Although turnover also rose from £2,806,160 in 2021 to £5,427,597 it is yet to return to the last pre-pandemic figure of £6,938,761. It received £300,000 in Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme payments (2021: £821,958) and £160,294 in local authority grants (2021: £229,181). During the year, £346,910 was spent on revamping the spa and bedrooms at The Manor House Hotel in Durham; and £44,568 on upgrading the Honest Lawyer Hotel in Durham. A further £210,55 was spent on repairs and renewals (2021: £221,038). A 15-year loan facility with HSBC was also refinanced in July 2021, with all agreed repayments met. The company said it has “performed strongly after the lockdowns ended, and the results for the year are very encouraging for the future”.
 
Burger & Sauce to open sixth site this week, franchisee eyes further openings: Burger franchise concept Burger & Sauce will open its sixth site this week, with new franchisee Adil Hussain eyeing further openings. Hussain will open his debut restaurant, in Stafford Street, Walsall, on Friday (4 November), having left a career in banking and finance to pursue his dream of running a chain of restaurants. It is one of seven new sites Burger & Sauce said in September that it will be opening over the next six months – with others to follow in Leicester, Coventry, West Bromwich, Derby, Birmingham and Sutton Coldfield. Hussain said: “I’ve always wanted to work for myself, and my family are into food. My father is a caterer, and my brother works in the industry too, so I was just looking for the right opportunity. A Burger & Sauce opened near to where I live in Birmingham, and I was impressed with the brand. I saw the vision of what could be and spoke to the founder, Saad Massod, to make it happen. It’s been all about learning the ropes, and once Walsall is established, my goal is to open more Burger & Sauce outlets one at a time. I anticipate it will be the first of many!” Burger & Sauce is currently offering franchisees exclusive territories within two hours’ drive of Birmingham on a ten-year licence, with multi-site development deals also available. In August, the company said it was targeting a UK estate of 300-plus stores.
 
Staycation boom sees Scottish holiday parks operator report turnover and profits above pre-pandemic levels: Wood Leisure, the operator of six holiday parks in Scotland, has reported turnover and profits above pre-pandemic levels in the year ending 31 January 2022 thanks to a staycation boom. Pre-tax profits were up to £2,075,691 from £1,141,980 in 2021 and £1,026,909 in 2020. Turnover rose to £8,876,785 from £5,870,870 in 2021 and was also above the £6,250,873 in the year ending 31 January 2020, the last full year before the pandemic. The company said: “The peak summer months were exceptional once we were allowed to open. A boom in staycations, bookings transferred (rather than cancelled) from 2020 and a demand for holiday home ownership all contributed to a successful year overall.” The company received £88,936 in Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme payments (2021: £358,621) and £145,546 in other government grants (2021: £261,714). Dividends of £91,800 were paid (2021: £108,334). The company has also upgraded its website and introduced both contactless check-ins and an app for guests. It has also invested in electric vehicles and charging points, staff training and retention and is working towards introducing the Real Living Wage.
 
Birds extends Just Eat partnership: East Midlands bakery business Birds has extended its partnership with Just Eat from 11 of its outlets to nine more across Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and East Staffordshire. The latest Birds stores signed up are Albert Street and Ascot Drive (Derby); Ilkeston (Derbyshire); Branston (Staffordshire); and Chilwell, Mapperley, Wollaton, Victoria Centre and Teal Park (all Nottingham). Tim Bird, who has been managing the bakery’s Just Eat partnership, said: “The initial popularity of Just Eat deliveries has been outstanding. While we have many customers who love popping into store for a chat, we also know that there’s a whole new generation of customers who like to shop in a different way. It’s all about being able to offer choice and convenience to our shoppers. Our sweet classics have been incredibly popular on Just Eat, and there have also been lots of orders for freshly baked bread.” Birds, which has 63 stores across the region, recently opened a new 1,200 square-foot outlet in Netherfield and said it was looking at further sites across the East Midlands.
 
Cardiff brewery launches £200,000 crowdfunding campaign to help open second taproom and expand offering: Cardiff’s Mad Dog brewery has launched a £200,000 crowdfunding campaign to help open a second taproom and expand its product offering. The business, acquired by the Waters family last year, has four weeks left on the campaign launched on Seedrs, which has so far raised more than £150,000 from in excess of 40 investors. It is offering 11.76% equity, giving it a pre-money valuation of £1.5m. The proceeds will also be used to employ a new marketing and events manager to help with promotions and brand growth. Since last year, the business has moved from a rural setting that had little or no footfall to a new city centre location in Cardiff. During its first four months of trading at the new site, it passed 2021’s revenue numbers, and has also introduced brewery tours and corporate dining events.
 
Nightcap opens first Tonight Josephine in the north and biggest yet: Nightcap, the owner of The Cocktail Club, the Adventure Bar Group and the Barrio Familia group of bars, has opened its first Tonight Josephine in the north of England. As previously reported, the Sarah Willingham-led group secured a lease for the former City Buffet site at 85-89 Hanover Street, Liverpool, last November. Split across a ground floor entrance, basement and lower basement, the 7,893 square-foot venue is one of Nightcap’s largest venues, and the biggest Tonight Josephine yet. Willingham said: “Liverpool is known for its incredible people, culture and, of course, nightlife, so it felt like the perfect location to open our first northern venue and the right fit for Tonight Josephine. We’ve seen great success from our sister sites across London, Bristol and Birmingham, so it only seemed right that we introduced Tonight Josephine to the ultimate party city.”
 
Oakman plants millionth tree after selling a million coffees in just over a year: Oakman Group, the Dermot King-led pub-restaurant operator, has planted its millionth tree after selling the same number of coffees in just over a year. The company planted its first 1,400 trees – one for each of its employees – in September 2021, as part of a pledge to plant a million trees a year. Since then, through a collaboration with not-for-profit organisation Tree-nation, every cup of coffee sold across the group’s pubs and hotels has seen a tree planted, helping offset some of its daily carbon emissions. The millionth tree has now been planted by Oakman founder and chairman, Peter Borg-Neal, in the recently opened 1.2-acre kitchen garden at The Akeman Inn in Kingswood, Buckinghamshire. Borg-Neal said: “We were the first pub group to ban plastic straws, eventually leading to their national disappearance, and we were the first pub group to install electric charging points in our new pub car parks. We always seek ways to make a difference without losing sight of our commercial responsibilities, but we couldn’t have achieved our first year’s target without the support of our guests.” The three Oakman Group pubs contributing the greatest number of trees through their daily coffee sales were Beech House in Beaconsfield, The Royal Foresters in Ascot and The Cherry Tree in Olney.

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