Propel Morning Briefing Mast Head CPL Learning Link Paul's Twitter Link Greene King Banner
Morning Briefing Strap Line
Mon 14th Nov 2022 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Planet Organic hits £6.25m crowdfunding target in just over 24 hours, plans 50 sites over next three years: Health-focused retailer Planet Organic has hit its crowdfunding target of £6.25m in just over 24 hours since the launch of the campaign, as it looks to reach 50 stores over the next three years. The 13-strong group has raised the money from circa 225 investors, with a pre-money valuation of £30.2m, with 17.16% of equity offered. Edinburgh-based investor Inverleith, which already had a minority stake in Planet Organic, has invested a further circa £3.25m in the business as part of the crowdfund, while Fenn Wright Manson founder Colin Fenn has invested another circa £2m in the retailer. The company is aiming to have 20 stores across London and the south of England in the next 12 months and 50 stores over the next three years. It said: “This campaign forms the next step in our overall fundraising plan, through which we intend to raise a total of £10m to unlock the next stage of our expansion plans. We have expanded to 12 locations in London and, on 28 October, we opened our first store outside the capital in Henley-on-Thames. We are revolutionising the way we do business and have recently opened a new distribution centre. This will see us reducing from more than 150 deliveries per store per week to one daily delivery to each store.” It said since the arrival of George Dymond as chief executive in December 2021, its drive towards profitability has been addressed in the following ways: the closure of three loss-making stores; and store revenue has improved with average sales per store per week now at £67,800, an increase of 8.7% versus the same period in 2021. The business currently has turnover of circa £44m. It said: “We now plan to expand in the UK by opening more stores to unlock efficiencies in our new supply chain and drive the business towards profitability.” In September, the business reported pre-tax losses of £3,373,420 for the year ending 28 August 2021, compared with a loss of £2,465,741 in 2020, and a loss of £655,217 in 2019. Turnover was down, from £40,680,886 in 2020 to £37,617,630, but up from £35,091,327 in 2019. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “The trend for health has only increased over covid, and we believe there is an opportunity to build a chain of more than 100 stores. The high street is readjusting to the current economic conditions, and the next three years is an opportunity to acquire sites in attractive locations at attractive rents. This is the time to be on the front foot to build a business that matches in size the leading health food chains in France and Germany.” 

Industry News:

Fifth UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database to feature 16 new companies, released on Friday: The fifth UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database, which will be sent to Premium subscribers on Friday (18 November) at midday, will feature 170 companies and more than 75,000 words of content. It will provide insight on the offer, locations, cost and other key details of companies offering a food and beverage franchise in the UK. Several street food concepts are among the 16 new franchisors featured. Among them is Filli, the fast-growing chai and Indian street food business founded in the UAE by Rafih Filli in 2004, which has since expanded to more than 40 fast casual stores in several countries, and which made its UK debut in August 2022. Also featured is Indian street food cafe concept Chai Green, which was founded in 2020 by Hasnain Siddiqi and currently has two locations, both in Birmingham, but has ambitious growth plans. Plan Burrito, a Mexican street food restaurant founded by Stephen Hopper in Loughborough in 2015 and which will open its third site next month, is also featured. So too is Neds Noodle Bar, a noodle-in-a-box concept founded in London by Roberto Narroni and James Breslaw in 1998 and now has six sites. Premium subscribers also receive access to The New Openings Database; the Propel Multi-Site Database, produced in association with Virgate; and the Turnover & Profits Blue Book, produced in association with Mapal Group. Companies can now have an unlimited number of people receive access to Propel Premium for a year for £895 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or a supplier. The single subscription rate is £445 plus VAT for operators and £545 plus VAT for suppliers. Email to upgrade your subscription. Subscribers also receive access to Propel’s library of Friday Wrap interviews and 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. They 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.

Miers – we are having to turn down bookings and curtail expansion plans due to lack of staff: Thomasina Miers, co-founder of Mexican restaurant brand Wahaca, has said the business is having to turn down bookings and curtail its expansion plans due to a staffing shortage in the industry. Speaking in the latest video to support the Hospitality Rising campaign, Miers, who co-founded the business with Mark Selby, thinks the future of restaurants is in “a crisis right now”. She said: “Quite simply, we can't take as many bookings. We have people wanting to have bookings at our tables, and we don't have enough staff. However, we could feed more people, open more restaurants, and create more jobs if we had the staff to do it. I think the future of restaurants is in a crisis right now. Unless culturally something shifts in this country, we won't be able to go out to dinner. We won't be able to get to that amazing service. Monday nights, Sunday nights, Tuesday nights, forget it – restaurants will be shut because there just aren't enough people to support the industry.” Miers is backing the Hospitality Rising campaign – Rise Fast, Work Young – launched to help fill the industry’s 400,000 vacancies. She said: “Until we tell people, and people really understand, that working in hospitality is infectiously creative, engaging and feels amazing, things aren't going to change. You're making money, and creating business, wealth and jobs, there is something very incredible and emotive and wonderful about hospitality, and until we start realising that, and putting more people into it, it will start shrinking and that will be a great shame. Young people should work in hospitality because it's the fastest way for them to skill themselves up with people skills, managing skills, accounting skills, finance skills and it's the fastest way to run your own business.” Hospitality Rising has so far raised £850,000 to fund a wide-scale recruitment campaign for the hospitality sector.
BBPA calls on chancellor to freeze beer duty after costs for pubs and brewers rise 22% year-on-year: The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has made a final plea to the chancellor ahead of his autumn statement on Thursday (17 November) to reconsider reinstating a freeze on beer duty. The trade body has written to Jeremy Hunt highlighting new figures that show the average costs for pubs and brewers were up 22% at the end of this summer compared with 2021. It stresses that soaring prices are forcing businesses to pass on costs to their customers at the bar, with the average price of a pint up 8% on last year. It says a freeze would help to keep the price of a pint affordable this Christmas, with UK beer sales already down 10% on the same period last year. The letter also cautions that failing to introduce a freeze would take the tax to its highest ever level, whereas reinstating it would channel £360m back to pubs and breweries. BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin said: “We need the beer duty freeze reinstated to alleviate at least some of the cost pressure on our pubs and brewers. The last thing pubs want to do is put prices up for customers who are struggling themselves with the cost of living. They want to provide a warm and welcoming space for their communities, but without relief from the government, it’s difficult to see how many will continue to do so.” Oliver Robinson, joint managing director of Robinsons Brewery, which operates 260 pubs across the north west and North Wales, said: “We are seeing unprecedented price increases across the business, but especially on raw materials, and if these were all passed on, it would make the cost of a pint almost unaffordable in many pubs. News of the beer duty freeze by the former chancellor provided a ray of hope, but the subsequent U-turn has not helped the mood, and we urgently need the chancellor to reinstate it to provide some let up.” Meanwhile, the British Institute of Innkeeping has written to the prime minister Rishi Sunak and the chancellor, urging them to invest in the sector “to ensure it can be at the heart of the economic recovery”. The letter calls on the government to recognise the fragility of pubs, but also the opportunity they represent for growth and employment for the country going forward. The letter calls for further support on energy, an extension to business rates relief and a reduction in the VAT rate.
NTIA – Budget must provide sector with at least the same level of support as during pandemic given sector will bear brunt of recession: The Budget must provide the sector with at least the same level of support as that given during the pandemic with the industry set to bear the brunt of the recession, the Night Time industries Association (NTIA) has said. The economy shrunk 0.2% in the third quarter of the year, according to figures released on Friday (11 November) by the Office for National Statistics, putting the UK on the verge of a recession with another dip expected in the final quarter of 2022. NTIA chief executive Michael Kill said: “Consumer facing businesses like hospitality and the night-time economy will fare badly, which will deepen the levels of uncertainty in the sector and impact consumer confidence even further. The recession is expected to last for several years and see the economy shrink by up to 1.6%, all of which points to a lack of stability from government and will place further pressure on government to deliver on the Budget this week. Sectors at the sharpest end of this crisis will require direct support to weather this hugely challenging trading period. The erosion of profits due to onerous costs has led to even the strongest of businesses barely breaking even. With cost inflation being seen as a worse crisis than the pandemic, the Budget must have a level of support at least in parallel with support given during the pandemic, with VAT, business rates and energy relief extensions at the top of industry asks.”

Contract catering third-quarter sales up year-on-year but still down on pre-covid levels: Sales in the contract catering sector are still lagging pre-pandemic levels despite sharp growth over the last 12 months, according to the latest Contract Catering Tracker from CGA by NielsenIQ and Bidfood. The tracker shows sales from July to September 2022 were 41% higher than in the same quarter of 2021, when contract caterers faced the lingering effects of covid-19 restrictions. However, sales in the third quarter of 2022 were 9% below the equivalent three-month period in 2019, when businesses were trading as normal. With inflation now exceeding 10%, sales are significantly further behind pre-covid levels in real terms. The tracker also shows the number of units served by contract caterers has increased by just over 500 since September 2021 – but it remains more than 800 sites short of the total market at September 2019. While trading remains difficult, the tracker indicates sales have steadily built momentum this year. The 2022-on-2019 comparison of minus 9% in the third quarter of 2022 represents a steady improvement on the figures of minus 20% and minus 12% in the first and second quarters of the year respectively. Karl Chessell, CGA’s director – hospitality operators and food, EMEA, said: “After more than two years of covid upheaval, contract caterers are now besieged by soaring costs that are impacting spending by their clients and consumers alike. Considering the seismic challenges, it is encouraging to see sales are substantially up year-on-year. Contract catering is a resilient and innovative sector, but with business and consumer confidence so fragile there are some tough months ahead.” UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls added: “The fact the sector still remains below pre-covid levels shows the scale of the recovery required.”
Pubs and clubs on brink over bill hike: More than half of night-time venues have said they will go bust within three months when the Energy Bill Relief Scheme ends in April, according to the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA). The scheme gives businesses a discount on gas and electric bills calculated from a daily wholesale price set by the government. But many hospitality venues have said they are paying more for their energy even with the help. Michael Kill, chief executive of the NTIA, told the Sunday Times thousands of jobs could be at risk. 

Jeremy Hunt to deliver business rates blow in autumn statement: Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is unlikely to step in with business rates relief in this week’s autumn statement, dealing a blow to firms that have said they are facing a cocktail of bill rises next year. Government insiders have signalled the chancellor will not bend on calls for a delay in the uprating of business rates or an extension of relief on the tax, which is charged on most non-domestic properties. From April, business rates are expected to be uprated by the Consumer Price Index measure of inflation, which as of September stood at 10.1%. On top of this, certain sectors – including shops, restaurants, cafes, bars, pubs, cinemas and gyms – are benefiting from 50% relief, which is due to expire on 1 April. The government is also expected to press ahead with a revaluation of business rates, which will see bills altered to reflect changes in the rental market. The next review will be based on rental prices in April 2021, during the covid-19 pandemic. Some sectors are concerned the review could leave certain firms facing steeper than expected increases while others will see notable declines. A report published by the Confederation of British Industry last week suggested the retail sector faces increases of up to 25% over the next two years. In an interview with The Sunday Times, Hunt said: “I can’t tell you what I’m going to do on business rates, but what I can say is I think businesses want certainty about what the government’s going to do so they understand where they stand. When there’s so much other instability around, the more certainty I can create the better.”
Last chance to book for inaugural Plan B conference: This is the last chance to book for the ‘Accelerating Change’ conference being held by Plan B, the mentoring platform designed to accelerate women’s representation on boards. The conference, which is supported by Propel, will take place on Wednesday, 23 November at 30 Euston Square, London. The half day, interactive conference will focus on how organisations can create the inclusive cultures where diverse talent will thrive. It is designed for C-level business leaders, founders and HR professionals seeking to learn how to make positive change. Speakers from within hospitality will share lived experiences, proven interventions and “work in progress” strategies and will include Kate Nicholls, Nick Mackenzie, Emma Woods, Rob Pitcher, Bharti Radix, Robin Rowland, Robert Cook, Suzie Welch, Mel Marriott and Lorraine Copes. Plan B was founded five years ago “out of frustration” by industry professionals – Ann Elliott, Holly Addison and Emma Causer – with a mission to accelerate the promotion of women leaders to the board. For details about the conference and to book, click here.
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a multi-faceted entertainment venue in central London that is looking for a head of HR. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “Your duties will include talent acquisition, with the ability to think outside the box, explore new ways to make the company the most attractive company to be part of, promote a culture of learning and development to help inspire the team and provide the tools for personal and professional development. You will ensure HR guidance is compliant, guarantee contracts are issued efficiently and correctly, and create and maintain an energetic people-centric work environment. You will be present, get involved, encourage, nurture and grow people. You will have the ability to transform traditional HR practices into effective outputs to help create a new way of working and drive cultural change and ensure the company culture of positivity and energy is instilled in people.” The salary for the position is up to £80,000. For more information, email

Company News:

SFG Club seeking investment to fund Birdies growth plans, regional expansion to begin in 2025 as ‘still a lot to do in London’: SFG Club, which operates the bar and entertainment at London’s biggest outdoor competitive socialising venue, Roof East in east London, has said it is seeking investment to fund its growth plans for Birdies – its cocktails, crazy golf and street food concept. The second Birdies site opened in July, in London’s Angel, and as Propel reported at the time, it is planning five further London sites before branching out. “We're looking to raise funds for expansion in 2023, and we’ll look at institutional investors to raise the money as with that comes expertise and know-how,” co-founder Nick Frow told Propel. “The regions will probably be in about three years’ time as we’ve still got a lot of opportunity here in London. We’re looking at Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool, and we’d love to be all around the UK by 2030. We have created an award-winning golf course design that can fit into 5,500-6,000 square feet, which opens up a lot of doors on the high street, like former retail sites, and should mean we can scale pretty quickly.” Birdies’ debut site launched at Battersea Power Station in November 2019 and received a trading boost last month with the official opening of the south London destination. “Battersea has seen an instant impact in footfall since the official opening, and there’s a lot of strong brands that are attracting more people there,” said Frow. “Angel’s trading has continued to improve since opening during the peak of a heatwave. The latter part of the week and weekends are trading well, and it's great to see the return of corporate business midweek as we move into the winter. The outlook remains uncertain as we look ahead into 2023, so we have to work harder to be the venue that customers choose to visit and come back to, as people are going to be much more sensitive to where they spend their money.” As part of its own reaction to current cost pressures, Birdies is looking at introducing more value packages for its guests. “Guests want quality as well as value, so we’re elevating the experience with innovative cocktails, increasing the level of service and hosting to make sure we’re offering the best experience we can,” Frow added. “It’s challenging for experiential leisure operators to cut costs as it affects the product so much, but guests need escapism more than ever, and we offer an elevated experience by combining entertainment and competition alongside food and drinks, so we feel we’re in a good space.” 

KFC aiming for third of new hires by 2030 to be young people who have faced barriers to employment, puts together four-point government action plan: KFC is aiming for a third of all new hires by 2030 to be young people, aged between 16 and 24, who have faced barriers to employment. The company has also put together a four-point action plan for the government to give the next generation the practical tools and support they need to enter and thrive in the workplace. Through a new employability programme, “Hatch”, developed and delivered with youth charity UK Youth, KFC aims to help more young people access employment, specifically those who have been excluded from employment and training opportunities. “Hatch” will help some 6,000 young people across the UK build their work skills, confidence and get their first job, through a tailored programme of one-to-one training, youth work, and practical work experience, with an interview at KFC on graduating from the programme. A new report from UK Youth and KFC has found a significant lack of investment in young people’s work skills and confidence, and a growing “generation gap” between young people and employers, is fuelling the current labour and skills shortage. It found despite nine in ten (87%) employers saying it’s important to them to foster young talent, employers aren’t currently investing in young people. Practical work experience or on-the-job training (42%) is what young people say they need most from employers, but a third (37%) of employers don’t currently offer work experience opportunities to young people. That’s despite half (55%) of employers ranking practical work experience as the primary consideration when hiring. As many as one in ten (11%) employers don’t offer any support or training to young employees with a lack of time (26%) and money (23%) the top reasons given. However, the research found four in five (79%) young people would be more likely to choose to work for an employer who invested in developing young people’s skills. In response, a four-point action plan published by KFC and UK Youth is calling for a post 16-education and apprenticeship policy designed to provide young people with the skills businesses need; a government funded “Hatch” scheme, designed with businesses to give young people in-work training and job opportunities; a cross-government strategy to join up young people with local jobs; and tax incentives for businesses to invest in skills development for young employees. Meghan Farren, general manager at KFC UK & Ireland, said: “If we’re to tackle the labour shortage and provide better jobs and economic growth across the country for the next generation, then we urgently need to help those who have been excluded from education and training opportunities to find their feet and their voice in the workplace. But we can’t make that change alone. We need government to give the next generation the tools and support they need.”

McDonald’s UK ramping up hunt for new sites, on the lookout for ‘drive-tos’: McDonald’s UK is to ramp up its hunt for new sites, with a target of opening 50 a year, including “drive-tos” and home delivery hubs. With a fifth of its customers now ordering home deliveries, McDonald’s UK online arm alone is said to be bringing in more than £1bn of sales annually, more than KFC’s entire British business. The sheer number of couriers darting in and out of restaurants to service those online customers means about half of McDonald’s sites may be trading at or beyond their capacity within a few years. “We have had to think about the experience of someone walking in and ordering a meal for table service with their family, and not being disrupted by a courier collecting a delivery order,” Alistair Macrow, chief executive for McDonald’s UK & Ireland, told the Sunday Times. “We have many restaurants still operating out of footprints that were designed when the only three options for customers were drive-thru, eat in or walking in for takeaway.” As well as drive-thrus, McDonald’s is on the lookout for “drive-tos” – small restaurants designed to cater primarily for click-and-collect orders. The company is also looking for home delivery hubs, which will cut back heavily on restaurant space to make room for couriers picking up online orders, as well as dark kitchens on industrial parks. On top of that, McDonald’s and its franchisees are spending £250m to reconfigure 800 restaurants over the next four years. The intention is online orders can be prepared and served in a way that does not compromise the experience for those eating in. Each day, McDonald’s feeds almost 1% of the world’s population from 40,031 restaurants in 119 countries. 
Benito’s Hat placed on market: Benito’s Hat, the Mexican restaurant brand, which underwent a restructure in 2020 that saw half of the business acquired out of administration, has been placed on the market, Propel has learned. It is understood G J Wisdom & Co has been instructed to seek offers for the business and assets of the four-strong group. The business was acquired out of administration in April 2020 by new company DGMP UK, in a deal that secured four of the brand’s sites, in Covent Garden, Farringdon, Oxford Circus and Oxford Westgate. The Farringdon site was subsequently closed, while a new site opened earlier this year in Hinckley, Leicestershire. The business opened in the former Quartz club in Hinckley town centre in February, but the site closed in the summer. The Oxford Circus site in Great Castle Street has also subsequently shut. It is believed offers for the group or individual sites are being sought by close of play on Wednesday (16 November). 

Home working knocks froth off cafe chain: A coffee shop chain with outlets in railway stations across the country is poised to collapse after losing customers to the working from home trend. AMT Coffee, which has about 50 cafes, largely serving commuters, has lined up Interpath Advisory to put it into administration, putting about 350 jobs at risk. A source told The Sunday Times a pre-pack deal was a possible outcome, with hopes a deal in the coming days could rescue jobs. AMT had hired Interpath to help it find fresh funding, but the advisory firm is now on hand to run the administration process. AMT’s collapse will be seen as one of the classic results of the covid-19 crisis, and its troubles are reflected at a string of businesses reliant on commuting office workers. Sales more than halved to £7.6m in the 12 months ended January 2021, dragging it to a £3.2m loss. The AMT name comes from the initials of Alistair, Angus and Allan McCallum-Toppin, the brothers who started the business in 1993 as a coffee cart in Oxford. Property entrepreneur David Maxwell bought an 85% stake in the company last year. AMT could not be reached for comment. Interpath declined to comment.

Nightcap appoints Lizi Hills as group finance director: Nightcap – the owner of The Cocktail Club, the Adventure Bar Group and the Barrio Familia group of bars – has appointed Lizi Hills as its new group finance director, Propel has learned. Hills joins Nightcap after 15 months as head of finance at Various Eateries, the Coppa Club and Noci operator. Previous to that she spent three and a half years at Burger King UK as its commercial finance director. She was also at the Casual Dining Group (now Big Table Group) for two years as finance director – concessions and international franchising. Last week, Nightcap said trading in the first 13 weeks of its new financial year has been adversely impacted by record warm weather, train strikes and the cost-of-living crisis. It said with the uncertainty in the economic climate in mind, it will slow down its expansion plans of new site openings during its current financial year and focus on maximising returns from its existing and newly opened sites and then continue its roll out programme as market conditions improve.

Ole & Steen appoints Suzanne Peacock as chief people officer: Danish baker Ole & Steen has appointed Suzanne Peacock as its new chief people officer, Propel understands. Peacock stepped down from Hostmore, the Friday’s operator, at the end of last year, after two years with the business. She joined as the group’s people and culture director at the end of 2019, before being promoted to chief operating officer in November 2020. She was previously group talent and development director at Merlin Entertainments for more than four and a half years. Ole & Steen is set to further add to its regional estate in the UK, with an opening in Guildford. The 21-strong business, which is working with RAB Retail on its expansion plans, will open in the town’s High Street. It has also been linked with further openings at London Wall, One New Change, Blackheath, Greenwich and Kingston as well as Marlow and Henley. 

Escapism Bar Group to open first site outside of Leeds: Escapism Bar Group, the Leeds bar business founded in 2004 by husband-and-wife team Phil and Mel Harrison, is to open its first site outside its home city, in Liverpool. The company will open the second site under its Mean-Eyed Cat bar concept in Seel Street, Liverpool, in February next year. The original Mean-Eyed Cat Bar opened in Merrion Street in Leeds, in 2004. The concept is described as a “dive bar inspired by rock’n’roll legend Johnny Cash”. The bar offers free homemade pizzas with every drink ordered before 9pm, an array of cocktails and a fun dice game – where customers can roll the dice for the chance to win a free round. Phil said: “Liverpool is the perfect location for our first venue outside of Leeds. It’s a homecoming for me. Growing up in Merseyside, it had to be Liverpool. Knowing the city’s love of music and the positive energy of the people, made it a simple decision to bring Mean-Eyed Cat Bar to Liverpool. Having already established ourselves as a firm favourite in Leeds bar scene over the last 18 years, we can’t wait to show Liverpool what we have to offer. We also have some other surprises up our sleeves for when the bar opens early next year.” Escapism Bar Group operates a further six sites in Leeds, including Call Lane Social, Cuckoo and the Brooklyn Bar. 
Whitbread to open first new Beefeater restaurant in more than a year as brand hits 175 sites: Whitbread is to open its first Beefeater site in more than a year as the brand grows to 175 sites. The restaurant will open in the Nottinghamshire town of Worksop on Tuesday (15 November). “The Dukes” will launch alongside the new Premier Inn in the retail park in High Grounds Road. The restaurant and bar will have 130 covers inside, with an additional 54 covers in the garden. The Beefeater brand was conceived in 1974, and offers an all-day menu with a focus on dishes from the grill. Rebecca Donaldson, commercial marketing director at Whitbread, said: “We are delighted to be joining the local community of Worksop. The new site marks Beefeater’s first opening in more than a year and is a welcome addition to the brand as we continue to grow across the UK.” The new opening marks the continued expansion of Whitbread’s core restaurant brands, with further site openings planned for Bar + Block and Brewers Fayre.
En Root opens first 100% plant-based restaurant in a UK cinema: South London Indian inspired plant-based restaurant, En Root, has opened its third site, in Brixton. The venue inside the Ritzy Cinema makes it the first UK cinema to house a 100% plant-based kitchen. “En Root at The Ritzy” follows in the footsteps of its Clapham and Peckham siblings, serving up healthy, home-cooked Indian meals. Dishes include its classic Raja Wrap and Don Dada Platter alongside exclusive cinema-style small bites including the “Poppanachos”, where India meets Mexico with a poppadom base snack topped with dhal, pickled cabbage, avocado, raita and spice krispies and a gluten-free beetroot blueberry cacao brownie. Nish Modasia, co-founder of En Root, said: “We are excited to bring our plant power to the iconic Ritzy in Brixton. Born and raised locally, we grew up going to the cinema, meeting friends outside and dancing to music upstairs. We have catered events in Windrush Square, the heart of our Brixton community and thus we feel a perfect fit to this space, place and time. It is a truly magical moment to nourish such a venue and we are grateful for the opportunity. The journey never stops… forwards ever!”
Gunpowder to open first overseas site: Harneet and Devina Baweja are to open a first overseas site for their home-style Indian kitchen concept Gunpowder. They will open Gunpowder Lisbon in the Portuguese capital later this month, “bringing forth the very best produce from Portugal’s coastline and implementing the flavours of south west India to each dish”. The 60-cover restaurant will feature both an open kitchen and a 12-seater terrace, while the menu will showcase recipes collected from Harneet’s travels to Bombay and Goa, with seasonal plates centred around fresh seafood from carefully selected local fishermen. Dishes such as tandoori plaice; grilled razor clams with moilee sauce and pickled onions; and Ambedi black cod with green coorgi sauce will sit alongside Gunpowder classics such as Karwari soft shell crab and a spin on the vermicelli doughnut, which will feature lamb in place of venison. “Portugal has heavily influenced Indian cuisine over the years, so it feels right to open Gunpowder’s first restaurant outside of the UK here,” said Harneet. “I spent a lot of my childhood exploring the coastal towns of Goa and Mumbai, enjoying traditional dishes and incredible seafood. I am looking forward to sharing these experiences with our friends in Lisbon and using the abundance of incredible produce on offer.” The Bawejas opened their first Gunpowder restaurant in London’s Spitalfields in 2015, with a second site overlooking Tower Bridge launching in 2018, followed by a Soho site in September 2021.
Tao Group Hospitality sees Hakkasan site in Abu Dhabi awarded Michelin star: Tao Group Hospitality has seen its Hakkasan site in Abu Dhabi awarded a Michelin star in the inaugural Abu Dhabi Michelin Guide. Hakkasan Abu Dhabi joins Hakkasan Hanway Place, Hakkasan Mayfair and Hakkasan Dubai in holding a Michelin star. Having opened in Emirates Palace Hotel in June 2010, Hakkasan Abu Dhabi’s menus are spearheaded by executive chef Lee Kok Hua, with guidance from global executive chef Andrew Yeo. Lee’s menus take inspiration from the seven years he spent at Hakkasan Hanway Place, with the year he started at the restaurant (2003) coinciding with the year it first gained a Michelin star, which it has since retained. Hakkasan Hanway Place was the first Chinese restaurant to receive a Michelin star in the UK guide in 2003 and has now retained it for 19 years, being joined in 2011 by Hakkasan Mayfair. All Hakkasan locations are overseen by Yeo, who now holds four Michelin stars. Tao Group Hospitality acquired Hakkasan, which was founded by Alan Yau, last year.
UK’s first gaming suite to be launched in Soho: Soho hotel W London is launching the UK’s first gaming suite. The bookable, personalised gaming suite will see YouTube star Vikkstar123, of The Sideman, kick-off the opening with a live stream of Warzone 2.0 on Wednesday (16 November). The gaming suite will be decked out with “state-of-the-art” equipment transforming into a “high-end, gaming paradise”. Gamers can expect to play on both an Xbox and CyberPower PC. W London has created a designated “brain food” menu available to order through in-room technology to the suite. Housed within W’s WOW suite, the suite will “combine the sensation of casual gaming with the luxury world of hospitality in the comfort of your own hotel room”. The gaming suite can be booked for an overnight stay package, with in-room dining and personalised touches.

200 Degrees unveils new recyclable packaging and launches coffee pods: Coffee roaster and retailer 200 Degrees, which is backed by Foresight, has unveiled new recyclable packaging. The new black and easy resealable coffee bags represent 200 Degrees’ core “house beans” such as Brazilian Love Affair. The white coffee bags showcase its “guest beans”, which are rotating single origin selections for those who are looking to experiment and discover new flavours from Africa, Asia and Central America. 200 Degrees is also offering another way to enjoy its signature blends at home, with the launch of coffee pods – in partnership with coffee pod recycling service PodBack – that will be compatible with Nespresso original machines. Commercial director Will Kenney said: “As we hit our milestone of ten years in business this year, we felt it was time to refresh our 200 Degrees packaging and create something that was not only 100% recyclable but also practical and contemporary. We wanted to provide customers with better accessible coffee to drink and enjoy at home, and also make the roast that people know and love more recognisable when coming into our shops.” 200 Degrees operates 17 coffee shops across the Midlands and north of England.

Burleighs Gin temporarily closes distillery as it edges towards administration: Leicestershire-based Burleighs Gin has temporarily closed its distillery and posted a notice of intention to appoint administrators. Posting on social media, the company said it was unable to accept orders and it was postponing all events and Gin Academy sessions in November. A statement said: “We thank you for your patience and understanding in this matter and will update with more information as soon as we can. Ticket holders for the Burleighs Gin Academy will be contacted directly in due course.” A notice on Burleighs website said it was unable to take orders “due to unforeseen circumstances.” Burleighs Gin has posted a notice of intention to appoint administrators through SBP Law. The notice of intention provides a ten-day moratorium from other creditor action and is designed to give a business the opportunity to find a way to prevent entering administration. Last year, Burleighs secured a £250,000 investment to scale-up its operations and create jobs through the Midlands Engine Investment Fund. At the time, the company revealed plans to expand into the US.

Return to Archive Click Here to Return to the Archive Listing
Punch Taverns Link
Return to Archive Click Here to Return to the Archive Listing
Propel Premium
Pernod Banner
Star Pubs & Bars Banner
Matthew Clark Banner
St Austell Banner
Santa Maria Banner
Rum Chata Banner
Bizimply Banner
Knorr Banner
Peppadew Banner
Camile Thai Banner
Matthew Clark Banner
Contract Furniture Group Banner
Stella Artois Banner
Propel Banner
Hospitality Rising Banner
Access Banner
Caleno Banner
Reputation Banner
Cynergy Bank Banner
St Pierre Banner
Zonal Banner
Frobishers Banner
The Licensees Association Banner
Airship – Toggle Banner
John Gaunt Banner
Libeo Banner
COREcruitment Banner
St Austell Banner