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Wed 16th Nov 2022 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Costs crisis wipes out hospitality's growth despite increase in October sales, London shows further recovery: Sales at Britain’s top managed restaurant, pub and bar groups in October were 1.5% ahead of last year, the latest edition of the Coffer CGA Business Tracker has revealed. The tracker – produced by CGA by NielsenIQ in partnership with The Coffer Group and RSM UK – also showed growth of 4.3% from October 2019 – meaning sales have beaten pre-pandemic comparatives for nine months in a row. However, with inflation now in double digits, sales are significantly behind 2021 and 2019 in real terms. Pubs were the strongest performer of the tracker’s three segments in October, with year-on-year sales growth of 6.4%. Restaurants endured a tough month with like-for-like sales down by 3.6% on October 2021, while bars’ sales slipped 12.7%. London saw further recovery from its recent rebound from more than two years of covid-related upheaval. Groups’ October sales within the M25 finished 6.4% ahead year-on-year – in sharp contrast to regions beyond the M25, where like-for-likes were up by only 0.3% from October 2021. Karl Chessell, director – hospitality operators and food, EMEA at CGA, said: “It’s been encouraging to see hospitality sales running ahead of pre-covid levels for nearly all of 2022. But after adjusting for the effect of higher prices it’s clear footfall is down, and inflation means sales are even further behind in real terms. Sustained increases in energy, food, property and other costs are putting a very tight squeeze on both consumers’ discretionary spending and operators’ profits, especially in restaurants. The sector must now pin hopes on a strong festive season to make up some of the growth that has been lost over a variety of unprecedented challenges.” Mark Sheehan, managing director at Coffer Corporate Leisure, said: “There is a continuing sense that sales are in the increase, certainly in city centres. While these numbers are not positive in the context of inflation they are at least improving in real terms. There is a sense particularly in London, and not withstanding strikes, trade is returning steadily.”

Industry News:

Propel Las Vegas study tour to stay at first new hotel on the strip in ten years: Propel is heading to Las Vegas in 2023 for a study tour, which has opened for bookings. The group will be staying at Resorts World, the first new addition to the Las Vegas Strip in ten years with a food court that some critics argue is the best in the US. The visit takes place between Saturday, 25 March and Tuesday, 28 March and will be overseen by Myles Doran, managing director of Hospitality Inc, and former commercial director of Revolution Bars Group. After successful trips in the past to Chicago and New York, Propel is returning to Las Vegas. The trip features a jam-packed itinerary, including a variety of restaurant, bar and nightclub tours, where delegates can explore and learn about the hottest concepts in the city. The trip will also provide two casino study tours and two hosted dinners. Propel managing director Paul Charity said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to gain valuable insight into the trends and concepts that are shaping Las Vegas as it bounces back from the covid pandemic, which will no doubt provide fresh ideas and inspiration for delegates.” The cost is £3,295. For more information or to book, email myles@hospitality-inc.co.uk or call 07710 783485.
 
Fifth UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database to feature 170 companies, released on Tuesday: The fifth UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database, which will be sent to Premium subscribers on Tuesday (22 November) at midday, will feature 170 companies, with 16 new additions. It will provide insight on the offer, locations, cost and other key details of companies offering a food and beverage franchise in the UK, with more than 75,000 words of content. Several dessert concepts are among the new franchisors featured. Among them is Love Churros, an “urban dessert experience” founded in London in 2007 by former professional footballer Jake Nicholson, which has UK locations in Brixton, Shoreditch, Croydon and Lakeside. Also featured is premium dessert concept Haute Dolci, launched by Heavenly Desserts founder Nizam Mohamed in 2017, and which has grown to 16 UK sites. Stuffed Gelato, founded in 2021 as a dessert and coffee brand specialising in stuffed doughnuts, and with a debut site in Shoreditch, is also featured. So too is The G Factory, an independent dessert operator created in 2008 by Giuseppe Trivigno and pastry chef Chris Zammit, which now has two 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 jo.charity@propelinfo.com 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.

Heineken to increase beer and cider prices by more than 15% in new year: Heineken will increase the price of its beer and cider by more than 15% in the new year due to “unprecedented cost increases”. An average price rise of 15.8% will see the price of some pints cost more than £7 from 16 January, reports the Daily Mail. Heineken’s draught lager range will rise on average by 36p per pint, with 15% to 17% hikes across the board. All of which means, based on current prices in central London, a pint of Heineken Silver would go from £6.50 to £6.86, Amstel would rise from £5.75 to £6.12, Birra Moretti from £6.60 to £7.01, Kronenbourg 1664 from £5.75 to £6.07, Old Mout Berries and Cherries from £6.45 to £6.86, and Fosters from £5.55 to £5.85. The brewery has also told landlords it will be reducing the alcohol content in Fosters from 4% to 3.7%, citing “consumer trends towards lower strength products”. An email from Heineken seen by the publication said: “Like many UK manufacturers, Heineken UK is facing unprecedented cost increases on a number of critical inputs used to make and distribute beer and cider. This is predominantly driven by the significant rise in energy prices, which is also having a dramatic impact on the costs of other goods, including glass, aluminum and malted barley. We are continually looking at ways to mitigate cost volatility, and throughout the year we have taken a number of steps to drive greater efficiencies in our business. However, due to the scale of recent and ongoing input cost increases, it is necessary to change the price of our products. As a result, we will be increasing our wholesale selling prices by an average of 15.8%. This increase will be duty exclusive.” Budweiser said it is monitoring its prices after Heineken earlier this month announced it was raising the price of beer in Ireland, while Diageo chose not to share its wholesale prices but said it increased prices on Guinness in June. 
 
Sunak set to raise minimum wage in boost for poorest: Prime minister Rishi Sunak is set to announce a significant rise in the national living wage and give eight million households cost of living payments worth up to £1,100 as he prioritises support for the poorest over universal measures. The Times reported Sunak and chancellor Jeremy Hunt will accept an official recommendation to increase the living wage from £9.50 an hour to about £10.40 an hour — a rise of nearly 10% — in a move that will benefit 2.5 million people. One government source suggested the increase could be even higher. Sunak will also give those on means-tested benefits, such as universal credit, cost of living payments worth £650; disability benefit recipients £150; and pensioner households £300. The plans, which extend existing support, will result in some households benefiting from all three payments. All households will, however, still face a significant rise in average energy bills as the government increases the energy price guarantee from an average of £2,500 to as much as £3,100 from April.
 
Trade associations and sector leaders urge government to cancel alcohol duty increase: Trade associations, including UKHospitality, the Wine and Spirit Trade Association and the Scotch Whisky Association, and sector leaders have written an open letter to the government urging it to rethink its decision to reverse the alcohol duty freeze. The group, which features Simon Longbottom, chief executive of Stonegate Group, and Phil Urban, chief executive of Mitchells & Butlers, said it will result in a double-digit tax increase that would fuel inflation, lead to higher prices for consumers and put thousands of jobs at risk. The letter said: “Sir, the government’s decision to reverse the alcohol duty freeze will result in a double-digit tax increase that unnecessarily fuels inflation, leads to higher prices for consumers and to thousands of jobs being put at risk. The U-turn comes on the back of a turbulent time for bars and restaurants, which are struggling to manage ever-increasing costs, supply chain problems and a shrinking customer base as households feel the pinch of the cost-of-living crisis. People are already finding their favourite drinks have become unaffordable. It does not have to be this way. Over the past five years, during a stable period for alcohol duty, government income from taxing alcohol has increased 18%. Despite the challenges of Brexit, the pandemic and disruption to global supply chains, our sector has provided increased revenue to the Exchequer because of, not in spite of, duty freezes. We urge the government to support the drinks industry and cancel the double-digit tax increases on spirits, wine, cider and beer.”
 
CMA launches investigation into proposed £3.8bn Shaftesbury and Capco merger: The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has launched an investigation into the proposed £3.8bn merger between West End landlords Shaftesbury and Capital & Counties (Capco). The watchdog is inviting comments from interested parties as it assesses whether the deal will lead to a substantial lessening of competition. Shaftesbury and Capco shareholders voted in favour of the merger in July. Shaftesbury – which has a portfolio spanning parts of Soho, Chinatown and Carnaby Street – has a market capitalisation of £2bn while Capco said the valuation of its Covent Garden estate was about £1.82bn. The structure of the deal will see shareholders in Shaftesbury, excluding the quarter of the business held by Capco, owning 53% of the combined company, with Capco shareholders owning the remainder. It is intended the combined group will be called Shaftesbury Capital on completion and retain Capco’s listing on the stock exchange. If approved by the CMA, the merger is expected to be completed in the first quarter of next year. The deadline for comments is Friday, 2 December.
 
Generation Z spending £857m a week on hospitality, but restaurants must ‘up social media game’: New research has revealed Generation Z are spending £857m a week on hospitality, but restaurants must “up their social media game” in order to tap into the resource. According to the study from guest experience and retention platform SevenRooms, while many consumers are tightening their belts, those aged 16-24 are parting with an average of £68.02 per week in venues, which is 68% more than the average consumer. Given there are an estimated 12.6 million Generation Z consumers in the UK, the group is worth a huge £857m a week to the sector, SevenRooms said. Its study polled 2,012 UK consumers aged 16 and over on the impact social media has on their restaurant and dining habits. It found almost half (49%) have visited a restaurant because it went viral on social media, and nearly a third (31%) will only visit restaurants that are seen as “Instagrammable”. Meanwhile. 92% of Generation Z’s are willing to travel to visit a social media-famous venue, while more than a third (36%) have visited a restaurant just so they could post about it on social media. More than half (58%) of Generation Z consumers said they would visit more restaurants they found through social media if they could book there and then, but a large number of UK restaurants don’t take reservations through social media. Danilo Mangano, managing director, international at SevenRooms, said: “To reach these younger consumers and capture this spend, restaurants have to meet them where they are. Almost half are saying they follow restaurants they want to visit on social media, so there is a ready-made audience to target.”
 
London hotel market sees average daily rate and revpar exceed pre-pandemic levels in October: The London hotel market saw average daily rate and revpar exceed pre-pandemic levels in October, according to data from STR. Average daily rate stood at £199.95 while revpar was £167.60, which were also both higher than the month before. Occupancy stood at 83.8%, which remained 4.0% below the 2019 comparable. The market continued to show high occupancy levels on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, pointing to business demand, with the highest daily occupancy for the month (93.0%) recorded on Wednesday, 12 October.
 
Fortified wine sales on the rise in Scotland since introduction of MUP: Buckfast sales in Scotland surged 40% after first minister Nicola Sturgeon introduced alcohol minimum unit pricing (MUP), according to a Public Health Scotland (PHS) report. It found in the year following the introduction of the minimum price of 50p per unit, sales of fortified wine surged by nearly a fifth (18%), with the volume of Buckfast sold increasing by the highest amount. In contrast, sales of the caffeinated tonic wine, which has been linked to anti-social behaviour, fell in both England and Wales and were a fraction of those in Scotland, reports The Telegraph. The price of the tonic wine was unaffected by MUP’s introduction in May 2018 as it costs around £8 per bottle, more than 50p per unit of alcohol. The PHS analysis also reported a marked increase in the volume sales of MD 20/20, another fortified wine. However, cider sales fell, with “substantial declines” recorded, particularly for high-strength brands. Cider was one of the drinks with the “most pronounced” price rises following the introduction of MUP, along with own-brand spirits. The sharp increase in Buckfast sales came after a final evaluation of MUP, published in June, found it had failed to change the habits of the heaviest drinkers. Tess White, the Scottish shadow public health minister, said: “This report shows that far from discouraging drinking, MUP may just be encouraging people to buy stronger alcohol. This is just the latest evidence that minimum pricing may be doing more harm than good.” But Maree Todd, the SNP’s public health minister, said: “This report shows the introduction of MUP has driven down consumption of cheap high-strength alcohol, which is often drunk by people drinking at harmful levels.”
 
Sector leaders to sleep out to fight homelessness: More than 100 chief executives and business leaders across London, including those from the hospitality sector, will give up their warm beds on Monday (21 November) to spend the night sleeping outdoors at Lord’s Cricket Ground, in a bid to tackle homelessness in the capital. Industry leaders joining the CEO Sleepout 2022 include Martin Williams, chief executive of Gaucho and M Restaurants; Andy Hornby, chief executive of The Restaurant Group; Una O’Reilly, group chief of people at Caprice Holdings; Tony Sophoclides, public affairs and media practitioner at UKHospitality; and Yishay Malkov, chief executive of Various Eateries. Henrik Muehle, managing director of Flemings Mayfair Hotel, currently takes the lead on the fundraising board, securing more than £17,000 in donations so far. Last year, he donated more than £13,000 via CEO Sleepout to Charity Begins at Home. The UK registered charity runs food distribution every Friday, relying solely on volunteers and donations, and Muehie has been a volunteer for the past two and a half years. CEO Sleepout has partnered with local charities including Borderline, Only a Pavement Away and The YES Charity, ensuring the vast majority of funds raised stay in the London area to support people facing homelessness this winter. Since CEO Sleepout was founded in 2013, events have raised £3.2m, with funds being donated to charities across the UK. CEO Sleepout has so far raised more than £450,000 at the London events and organisers are hoping to reach £600,000 from this year’s contributions to support charities across the city.
 
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a premium restaurant group that is launching a new concept centred around seafood in Mayfair this month and is seeking a head of operations. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “You will be primarily responsible for the day-to-day operations of the business, reporting into the managing director with a general manager taking responsibility for the service of the restaurant. The company currently has one site in the UK that is trading well and has planned growth with new sites planned for opening. You will have a strong hold on all finances and commercials and have new openings in your locker and also be comfortable with the prospect of international travel.” The salary for the position is up to £75,000. For more information, email kate@corecruitment.com
 
Licensing update: John Gaunt & Partners licensing solicitors has published its latest licensing update providing a useful monthly summary of licensing news. This month, there’s articles relating to the government response to the follow-up report of the House of Lords Committee in relation to the Licensing Act 2003, along with a reminder about temporary event notices for any Christmas or World Cup events. The full update can be accessed here.
 

Company News:

Rosa’s Thai secures Exeter site: Rosa’s Thai, which is backed by TriSpan, has secured its first opening for 2023, in Exeter, Propel has learned. Rosa’s Thai, which made its international debut last month in Dubai, is understood to have secured the former Absurd Bird site in the city’s Queen Street, for an opening at the end of January. It comes as the Gavin Adair-led company confirmed it will open in Nottingham next month. As previously revealed by Propel, Rosa’s Thai will open on the former Loch Fyne site in the city’s King Street. The launch of the 58-cover restaurant marks the 31st opening for the group. Propel revealed in April that Rosa’s Thai is also set to take a unit at the Jackson’s Corner scheme in Reading. Adair said: “After another great year for the Rosa's Thai family, we couldn't be happier to be ending on a high with the launch of Nottingham.” Propel revealed in September the parent company of Absurd Bird, the five-strong, fried chicken brand, which went into administration earlier this summer, invested more than £8m in the business since it was founded in 2015.
 
Fuller’s adds two pubs in tourist honeypots to portfolio: London pub operator Fuller’s has added two sites in tourist honeypots to its portfolio. The company has acquired De La Hayes in Bourton on the Water in the Cotswolds and The Rising Sun in Wootton in the New Forest. De La Hayes, which is a grade II-listed property, will undergo a refurbishment to create an all-encompassing pub, with work starting next month and a reopening planned next summer. The Rising Sun has a large ground floor trading area, customer beer garden, children’s play area and a paddock that can be used for events. Kevin Marsh, head of licensed leisure at Savills, said: “We are pleased to complete the sale of these two beautiful pubs in sought after tourist honeypot locations. The properties have an enormous amount of character and history that will add to the exceptional experience that Fuller’s is well-known for. We continue to see strong demand for pubs in tourist heavy locations.”
 
JD Wetherspoon to open £3m pub at The O2: JD Wetherspoon is to open a pub at The O2 in London. The company has agreed a deal with Waterfront Limited Partnership, a joint venture between AEG and Crosstree Real Estate Partners, for a site within The O2’s Entertainment District, adjacent to Mamma Mia! The Party. With building work beginning this week, Wetherspoon is investing almost £3m in the pub that is set to open in February. It will be named The Stargazer, paying homage to its North Greenwich home and its strong association with astronomy. The pub will feature a 3,800 square-foot beer garden, offering views across the Thames and Canary Wharf, and will create up to 70 jobs. Chairman Tim Martin said: “We are delighted to be opening a pub at The O2. We believe it will prove popular with customers of all ages.” Janine Constantin-Russell, managing director at the Entertainment District and Icon Outlet at The O2, added: “Like The O2, Wetherspoon is a household name, and we’re thrilled it is joining our diverse line-up of bars and restaurants.”
 
Rhumshack Group closes Camden Social as lease goes on market: Rhumshack Group has closed its British-European brasserie, Camden Social, in north London with the lease of the site up for sale. Christie & Co has been appointed to market the property in Camden Town. The restaurant previously operated as a Byron Burger, and received a full fit-out when it reopened as Camden Social in 2021. The large, open plan trading area is serviced by an open kitchen and bar area that can seat up to 90 customers. For offers in excess of £50,000, a 15-year lease that began on 7 April 2021 is available to purchase with either a six-month rent deposit or personal guarantee. The current rent is £120,000 per annum, rising to £140,000 in April 2024 and open market rent reviews will take place every five years. Rhumshack Group operates four Cottons sites, in Camden, Notting Hill, Shoreditch and Vauxhall; Caribbean diner concept, Ma Petite Jamaica, in Shoreditch; Asian food cooperative Tai Pan Alley and Spanish brunch venue Bar Gansa, both in Camden; and two branches of bubble waffle concept Bubblemania, in Camden and Brent Cross.

Rockfish confirms Topsham site plans, Sidmouth opening gets go ahead: Rockfish, the nine-strong seafood restaurant group led by Mitch Tonks, has confirmed it will open a new site in Topsham, Devon, next year, and be given the green light to open in Sidmouth. Propel revealed in July that the company had secured the former L’Estuaire Bistro and Bar site in Topsham, near Exeter. A spokesman for Rockfish told the Exmouth Journal: “Our quayside Topsham restaurant will be opening in early 2023. We are looking forward to serving our signature sustainable seafood, landed in Brixham, seasonal side dishes and delicious drinks in this wonderful town and becoming part of the Topsham community. As with all new openings, things do take time, and we do not have an exact opening date confirmed yet. We will update our website with all new opening information as soon as we have it.” At the same time, the business is set to open in the derelict Drill Hall site in Sidmouth. Local councillor Paul Hayward said: “Delighted to report that contracts have been exchanged and project is a goer. Great news for Sidmouth and locale. Rockfish keen to start work. Delays caused by third parties. Roll on 2023 and the grand opening.” The group, which is chaired by Hawksmoor co-founder Will Beckett and backed by Gresham House, is also set to open a 100-cover site in Salcombe next year.  

Danieli Group lodges plans for Stack site in Carlisle: North east operator Danieli Group has lodged plans to bring its Stack container leisure venue concept to Carlisle. The company has applied to the city council to convert part of the Lowther Street car park into an entertainment, food and drink venue. If approved, it will see the creation of a container village made up of around 50 shipping containers. The venue, which will have a retractable glass roof, will house five bars, ten street food outlets, a central plaza with a balcony and a stage area for live music and create around 160 jobs. Neill Winch, chief executive of Danieli Group, said: “Stack is a fast-growing brand that has a proven track record in creating venues that have something for everyone and will bring a real boost to the area. We are excited about coming to Carlisle.” Danieli Group runs a Stack site in Sunderland and also previously had a venue in Newcastle that shut earlier this year due to office development work, although there are plans afoot for a new location in the city. The company is also taking Stack to Lincoln and last week unveiled proposals to invest more than £7m in venues in Durham and Bishop Auckland.
 
PizzaExpress appoints Ian Watson as learning and development director: PizzaExpress has appointed Ian Watson as its new director of learning and development, Propel has learned. Watson joins the Paula MacKenzie-led business after a year as group head of learning and development at Snowfox Group, the YO! and Bento operator. Previous to that he was managing director of learning and development at consultancy business Academy Doctor. He also spent 18 years at Pret, including nine years as group head of the Pret Academy. 
 
Eden Collection turns profit for first time in six years as turnover approaches pre-pandemic levels: Eden Collection – which operates six luxury hotels across the Midlands, Cotswolds and south west – turned a profit for the first time in six years in the year ending 31 March 2022. It reported a pre-tax profit of £789,506, compared with a loss of £2,423,273 in 2021. It is the first profit the group has made since 2016, when it reported a pre-tax profit of £540,885. Turnover more than doubled from £6,436,704 in 2021 to £16,026,757, but not quite reaching the £19,471,501 in 2020 when the last few weeks of trade were affected by the pandemic. The business received £1,065,696 in government grants (2021: £2,771,423) and no dividends were paid. The sale of Devon country house Buckland Tout Saints was completed during the year, which allowed a programme of renovation and refurbishment at its other properties to begin, including the addition of a three-bedroom lodge at Brockencote Hall in Worcestershire. Gaining an international sponsorship licence helped combat staffing issues by filling some senior roles post-year end, as did ensuring all employees moved off minimum wage and on to a benefits programme launched post-year end. In-house supervisor and management training programs were also both launched post-year end. The company said: “Together, all these moves are intended to differentiate the group as an employer from the competition.”
 
Itsu set to open in Milton Keynes this winter: Itsu, the healthy Asian food chain, is set to open a new site in Milton Keynes this winter. It has taken a 2,600 square-foot site in Midsummer Arcade in centre:mk, where it will serve Itsu’s signature fresh, Asian-inspired menu. The majority of the meals on the menu are less than 500 calories and a third of the dishes are plant-based. Any unsold meals will also be sold half-price every evening in an efforts to avoid food waste. Vishal Talreja, property director at Itsu, said: “We are pleased to be taking the next step in our brand journey at centre:mk, a destination that really embodies our ethos that Itsu is for everyone, everywhere. We are always on the lookout for prime city locations, and centre:mk is just that. We feel confident our brand will be well received here.” MMX Retail and CBRE acted for centre:mk while KLM represented Itsu. Founder Julian Metcalfe last month said Itsu dwarfs Pret’s historic potential and he plans to float the business in four-and-a-half years.

Chef behind London Italian restaurant to open new bakery and deli in January, aiming to raise £60,000: Chef Mitshel Ibrahim, who is behind Italian restaurant Ombra in London’s Hackney, is aiming to raise £60,000 towards opening a new bakery and deli in January. Forno will be an all-day bakery, pastificio and deli, opening under the arches just next to Regent’s Canal in Hackney. It will offer filled, short and stuffed pasta, fresh sauces, cold cuts, Italian cheeses, freshly baked breads and wines to take away or eat in, with ten seats inside and 20 outside. Breakfasts will include freshly baked cornetti, maritozzi and sfogliatelle with strong Italian coffee, followed by lunch menu of stuffed focaccia sandwiches and daily changing soups, and on occasional evenings, it will open for Roman pizza and pasta making with wines and negronis. Ibrahim is also looking to raise £60,000 towards the costs by creating a rewards-based Kickstarter fund-raiser. Rewards include the possibility of having a pizza named after you for a month. 
 
Crest Hotels acquires Welsh property for seventh site: Privately-owned hotel group Crest Hotels has acquired the Metropole Hotel & Spa in Powys, Wales, for its seventh site. The hotel in the spa town of Llandrindod Wells has been independently owned and operated by the Baird-Murray family since 1897 and has more recently been under the stewardship of the fifth generation of the family – Justin Baird-Murray and Sarah Hill. The property features 109 bedrooms and extensive function facilities. Crest Hotels directors Gurjinder and Parminder Singh said: “We are proud to bring this iconic hotel into our existing portfolio and look forward to working with the team in situ to further build on its reputation and stature. Justin and Sarah, including previous generations, have worked incredibly hard to create a fantastic legacy with The Metropole Hotel and we want to assure them it is in safe hands.” Christie & Co acted on the deal.
 
Green & Fortune strengthens senior team: Independent restaurant and hospitality company Green & Fortune has strengthened its senior team. Brendan Fyldes has re-joined as chef director and will be responsible for developing Green & Fortune’s food offering from menu design, seasonal sourcing, and responsible supply chain management, along with the personal development of the company’s chefs. Fyldes has led Michelin-starred kitchens, headed five-star hotels including The Stafford and launched destination restaurants such as Bentley’s. He re-joins Greene & Fortune having fulfilled several personal goals including learning the craft of artisan butcher. Baptiste McGregor has been promoted to director of operations for the group and will oversee its four London venues. McGregor has worked for Green & Fortune for more than four years and prior to joining the company worked for Yumchaa helping with the roll out of the brand. Alina Zurovaite has joined as people business partner and has previously worked for Tortilla and Big Easy Restaurants. Greene & Fortune operates cafes and events within four London venues – Kings Place in King’s Cross, Sea Containers on the South Bank, Rose Court on the South Bank and Central Hall Westminster. Chief executive John Nugent said: “We’ve created a very strong senior team with defined specialisms and outstanding experience. Our sites are firmly set on growth and expansion and we’re excited by our new line-up as we again look to raise the bar into 2023 and beyond.”
 
Marston’s signs Race at Work Charter: Marston’s has signed up to the Business in the Community’s Race at Work Charter. The initiative is designed for businesses to collectively commit to improving equal opportunities for black, Asian, mixed race and ethnically diverse employees in the UK. Launched in 2018, the charter requires companies to commit to five calls to action – appoint an executive sponsor for race; capture ethnicity data and publicise progress; commit at board level to zero tolerance of harassment and bullying; make clear supporting equality in the workplace is the responsibility of all leaders and managers; and take action that supports ethnic minority career progression. It builds on the work of the 2017 McGregor-Smith Review, which found people from black, Asian, mixed race and ethnically diverse backgrounds are still underemployed, underpromoted and under-represented at senior levels. Hayleigh Lupino, Marston’s chief finance officer and lead on the Marston’s inclusion taskforce, said: “Marston’s is taking practical steps to provide equality of opportunity for all, regardless of race and ethnicity and is tackling barriers that people face in recruitment and progression and that we are representative of our communities, guests, team members, and stakeholders. We will benefit from the wealth of diverse talent on offer and ensure people have a great experience and feel included.”
 
Zizzi reopens debut restaurant following revamp: Azzurri Group-owned Zizzi has reopened its debut restaurant following a revamp. Zizzi has grown to 130 UK and Ireland restaurants since first opening in Chiswick in April 1999, and that first site has now become the latest to benefit from the roll out of the chain’s new look, with designs inspired by the River Thames. Among the dishes available are updated items including Orkney crab and hake fishcake bites, black truffle salami and mushroom rustica pizza, vegan aubergine and pesto rustica pizza, Creste Di Gallo sausage ragu and Zillionaire’s fudge cake. General manager Gzim Dana, who has been with Zizzi since its 1999 launch, said: “When we first opened at Zizzi Chiswick more than 20 years ago, we had a menu packed with flavour, a playful and warm team and friendly customers. All those things remain the same at Zizzi, despite the impressive refurbishment and menu enhancement.” Zizzi last month launched its Zillionaires’ Club loyalty platform, and secured a site at Preston’s Animate leisure complex.

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