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Morning Briefing Strap Line
Fri 18th Nov 2022 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Emeny – London is getting back to normal, with acquisitions we’ve seen the opportunity to play the long game: Simon Emeny, chief executive of Fuller’s, has said London is “getting back to normal”, and the business was in “a very strong position going forward” when it comes to acquisition opportunities. Fuller’s reported a 13% increase in like-for-like sales for the seven weeks to 12 November 2022 versus the prior year, helped by like-for-like sales growth of 20% across central London. Emeny told Propel: “It was very clear to me early on that when it came to emerging from covid, unfortunately, we'd be one of the last companies to do so because we were so reliant on parts of London, particularly in the City. We always believed London would come back and it’s really getting back to normal again, which is great. People are coming back to offices and Fridays are actually an encouraging period, probably the last piece to get back to normality.” Earlier this week, the company announced the acquisition of De La Hayes in Bourton on the Water in the Cotswolds and The Rising Sun in Wootton in the New Forest. Emeny said: “We’ve incrementally been growing the number of bedrooms in the estate every year, and actually improving the quality of bedrooms as well. That’s not something that's just going to happen off the back of a decent set of numbers. It’s become a very major revenue stream for us. Our acquisition strategy actually hasn’t significantly changed; we’ve been looking to add high-quality freeholds that are in the southern half of England that have good opportunities for food, drink and bedrooms. It's been very interesting watching the market over the last 18 months and watching some companies pay inflated prices for some businesses. It will be interesting to see what happens to pricing now over the next two years. With acquisitions we’ve seen the opportunity to play the long game. We’re delighted to still have a tenanted estate, it’s an integral part of our business model. And I think it now leaves a very strong position going forward with acquisitions.” Emeny said it had been a record year of investment in training and development for the business and “we are going to double down on that”. He added: “Looking forward over the next 12 months it’s all about gaining market share. And doing what we do better and better. However tough the environment is, our plan will be to grow market share.” In terms of consumer behaviour, he said: “We’ve seen our second year in a row of significant growth in cocktails, the growth in premium products and craft beer has also continued. You wouldn’t be looking at our sales data and detecting a significant downward shift in consumer behaviour. We’re not seeing customers lose their desire for the more exotic and expensive products at the bar.”
 

Industry News:

Fifth UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database to feature more than 75,000 words of content, 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 more than 75,000 words of content. It will provide insight on the offer, locations, cost and other key details of 170 companies offering a food and beverage franchise in the UK. Among the 16 new entries is board game concept The Dice Box, launched by husband-and-wife team Trevor and Stephanie Davies in 2018, in Leamington Spa, with a franchise roll out due to begin with openings in Peterborough and Worcester. Also featured is Indian online restaurant company Rebel Foods, founded in 2011 by Jaydeep Barman and Kallol Banerjee as a physical restaurant chain with an online ordering facility, which now operates in 75 cities in India, Indonesia, the UAE, UK, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Bangladesh, Hong Kong, and the Philippines. 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. Premium subscribers are also to be given exclusive access to the recording and slides from this month’s Propel Multi-Club Conference. The videos will be sent on Wednesday, 30 November, at 9am. 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.
 
BBPA welcomes Ofgem intervention on bad energy price practices: The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has welcomed Ofgem’s intervention on bad energy price practices and urged it to keep investigating them. The energy regulator has written to all non-domestic suppliers to highlight concerning reports about the challenges being faced by non-domestic customers. Examples of the issues faced by business consumers include lack of offers to contract, excessive security deposits and risk premiums, delayed responses, unacceptable responses during debt and disconnection activities and concerning increases in standing or management charges. It has asked for responses by Wednesday (23 November), which will informing Ofgem’s next steps. BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin said: “After monitoring these issues closely for months and supplying numerous cases of extremely poor practice by non-domestic energy suppliers from pubs and brewers from across our membership, it is good to see Ofgem recognising and intervening on this issues that has been causing business owners stress, anxiety and extreme extra cost pressures. Outside of the energy cap, suppliers have sought to make money elsewhere by increasing prices on other parts of bills not covered by the cap and cancelling contracts at short notice. At a time when energy bills are still crippling pub and brewing businesses, it is essential Ofgem continues to investigate these practices.”
 
SBPA slams Scottish government proposals to restrict alcohol advertising: The Scottish Beer & Pub Association (SBPA) has slammed Holyrood proposals to restrict alcohol advertising in the country. The Scottish government has published a consultation on restricting alcohol advertising and promotion, which it hopes will help reduce the appeal of alcohol both to young people and heavy drinkers. The responses it receives will be used as part of the government’s decision-making process. But the SBPA has warned of the potential devastating economic impact to Scottish businesses and events infrastructure should the any restrictions be brought into force. Chief executive Emma McClarkin said:  “If enacted, these proposals would have a devasting impact on investment and jobs across a range of sectors, while hitting small, Scottish-owned businesses the hardest. There is already robust regulation of alcohol marketing, and a recent report by Credos found ‘little evidence’ of a relationship between alcohol advertising and consumption trends in Scotland. It would also be negative for public health goals by stifling innovation and growth in no-and-low alcohol products, that have a vital, recognised role in helping people moderate consumption and reduce health harms. Now is not the time to be risking investment and jobs.” 
 
Budweiser promotes app to help women plan safe journeys home from nights out: Budweiser is promoting an app that helps women plan safer journeys home following nights out. It is working with WalkSafe+, a mapping app that allows users to plan their route home using the digital tools and information based on police data, whether a live incident or a warning about a lack of streetlights. It follows research from Budweiser that found 81% of women who visit pubs, clubs and bars said they consider their safety when getting home, and 63% of females said they plan their route home before heading out. It also found 20% of women were altering their behaviour by walking more and taking fewer taxis, while 37% said if they had access to a personal safety app, they would feel safer on a night out. Jean-David Thumelaire, on-trade director at Budweiser Brewing Group UK & Ireland, said: “We are proud to be collaborating with WalkSafe+ to promote digital tools that address safety concerns disproportionately affecting women and vulnerable groups.” Among the first operators to have signed up to support uptake of the app is Punch Pubs, the Fortress Group-backed business that owns around 1,300 UK pubs. Jackie Burn, HR director at Punch Pubs, added: “We’re confident the WalkSafe+ app will help empower and raise awareness of an issue that particularly affects women, and often the more vulnerable within a community, and we look forward to sharing it with our employees and pubs.”
 
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with an independent premium restaurant based on the London/Essex border that is seeking an experienced executive chef. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “You will help oversee a team of 18 chefs plus porters, and manage lunch and dinner services in a restaurant that serves up to 2,000 covers per week. Your background will include working in high quality independent restaurants with volume and Rosette experience is required in previous roles at a senior level. You will also mentor the team; be hands on; possess strong cooking ability; and have knowledge of kitchen financials, stock taking, menu writing and all health and safety procedures.” The salary is up to £52,000 basic plus bonus of £12,000 paid quarterly based on KPIs. For more information, email clive@corecruitment.com
 

Company News:

Soho House not seeing any ‘recessionary behaviour’ among UK members, seeking more diversity in food offerings: Andrew Carnie, the new chief executive of Membership Collective Group (MCG), the New York-listed company behind the Soho House chain of members’ clubs, has said the business is not seeing any recessionary behaviour among its UK membership. Speaking after MCG’s third-quarter update, Carnie, who is succeeding founder Nick Jones, said: “In the UK, in the third quarter our members in our houses are higher than they were in 2019. We have not seen any change in our members’ behaviour. In fact, we actually grew quarter-on-quarter on our revenues and our spend. What we focus a lot on is what we can control, which is making sure we have the best service in our houses, that we have value options for our members if they want them. The UK waitlist is actually one of our strongest waitlist. We’ve got a super waitlist on every single house across the UK. Our applications in the third quarter are at record levels, pretty much in all our regions, but in particular, the UK. So, we feel cautiously optimistic about the UK. But as always, we want to make sure that we’re delivering the best value, the best service, and the best experience for our members when they do come into the houses.” The company has opened five new houses this year and Carnie said demand has been “very strong”. He said: “Nashville already has more than 2,500 members, Brighton 1,500 and Holloway House more than 1,000 and Copenhagen and Balham approaching 1,000, all ahead of our typical maturation curves, which has houses starting at 750 members and ramping up to 1,500 at the end of the first year.” Carnie said the company’s first global member survey had shown “our members love us, they love what we’re doing” and they want us to open more houses “around the world”. He said: “The things they want us to try and improve is service around all our houses, the speed of service, the quality of service, and they want us to have more diversity of food and differentiated offerings across the different houses, which is great news for us, and we're already working on these bands. We need to be more targeted and give our members what they really want and in the way we invest in the member experience. This will involve a greater focus on the Soho House business as the key driver of future growth and improved profitability.”
 
Mission Mars to focus on smaller Rudy’s sites, lines up second Birmingham opening: Mission Mars is to focus on smaller sites for its Rudy’s Pizza Napoletana concept, after the success of openings under 3,000 square-foot since the end of covid restrictions, as its looks to open six to eight sites per annum under the brand. Speaking at this month’s Propel Multi-Club Conference, chief executive Roy Ellis said pre-covid, the business was focused on sites that had an average size of 5,000 square foot, which had an average fit-out of £450,000, average rent of £100,000, average covers of 130, and average weekly turnover of £30,000. Post covid, the shift has focused to sites with an average size of 2,600 square foot, average fit-out of £300,000, average rent of £55,000, average covers of 130, which are still producing an average weekly turnover of £30,000. The larger sites have seen average turnover increase to £45,000 post covid, but the returns the business is getting from the smaller sites means the majority of the six to eight sites it plans to open per annum will come under that format. Mission Mars, which recently brought the branding for its pizza concept under one name – Rudy’s Pizza Napoletana ­– will open its 15th site, and third in Liverpool, before the end of the year, in the city’s Royal Albert Dock. The business has also applied to open a second Rudy’s in Birmingham. The brand, which already has an outlet at 9-10 Bennetts Hill in the city, has made a licence application for 6 Brindleyplace – the former home of fine dining restaurant Maribel. It is thought to also has several other sites in legals.
 
Boxpark to expand PlayBox concept and launch new HotBox and Nanny Bill’s outlets: Boxpark, the hospitality and leisure operator, is set to expand its PlayBox leisure concept following a successful launch at its Wembley site, Propel has learned. The PlayBox concept – which features ultra-violet pool and table tennis tables, shuffleboard, glow-pong and air hockey amid a neon backdrop – will be rolled out to Boxpark’s Croydon site this winter. PlayBox launched at Boxpark Wembley in 2018, but the Croydon site will be its biggest yet, spanning more than 3,000 square feet. Also launching at Boxpark Croydon will be a third outlet for smoked barbecue meat restaurant HotBox, and a fourth for handmade burger business Nanny Bill’s. HotBox, which started out as street food business, has two existing sites, in Fulham and Victoria. Nanny Bill’s, which opened its debut site in in 2017, has other sites at Boxpark Wembley, London Bridge and Wood Green (delivery and takeaway only). HotBox and Nanny Bill’s will open at Boxpark Croydon in December, while PlayBox will launch in early 2023. All will be found on the first-floor unit formerly occupied by MeatLiquor, which exited over the autumn after six years there. One of the site’s earliest restaurants, MeatLiquor ended its tenancy agreement under a break clause to explore other avenues. Simon Champion, Boxpark chief executive, said: “Our PlayBox concept has been a roaring success in Wembley and we can’t wait to launch PlayBox to Croydon, to add a complementary element to our existing programming. We’re equally delighted to support the success and growth of Nanny Bill’s and look forward to welcoming it to Croydon as we prepare for the World Cup.”
 
Three Cheers Pub Co sees profits and turnover exceed pre-pandemic levels: Three Cheers Pub Co, led by former schoolfriends Tom Peake, Mark Reynolds and Nick Fox, saw its profits and turnover exceed pre-pandemic levels in the year ending 31 March 2022. The company, which operates an estate of nine pubs across London, saw pre-tax profit rise from £287,606 in 2021 to £1,883,877. This was also an increase on the pre-pandemic figure of £1,225,559 for the year ending 31 March 2020. Turnover was also up from £4,241,741 in 2021 to £10,924,992, which again represented a slight increase on the 2020 figure of £10,753,903. It received £498,928 in government grants, compared with £1,496,022 in 2021. The company said: “The year ending March 2022 showed a highly satisfactory performance with better than expected results when compared with the pre-pandemic period’s financial performance. Although this was an impressive performance, the directors do not believe this level of profitability can be maintained in the next financial period considering high level of inflation and the UK slipping into recession.”
 
MJMK appoints Dan Wonfor as operations director: London bar and restaurant operator MJMK, which is behind the Casa do Frango concept, has appointed Dan Wonfor as its new operations director, Propel has learned. Wonfor joins MJMK after a year and a half as operations director at the Richard Caring-backed Bill’s. Formerly of Food and Fuel and Geronimo Inns, Wonfor spent more than 11 years at Cote, which was previously backed by Caring, and was for the last two years a regional operations director at the Partners Group-backed brasserie brand. In September, Marco Mendes, one of the co-owners of MJMK, said he and his partner, Jake Kasumov, were looking at expanding the Casa do Frango concept to perhaps ten to 12 locations. The first Casa do Frango opened in July 2018 at London Bridge, with a second site, in Shoreditch, following a year later. MJMK also operates Kol, a Michelin-starred Mexican establishment; Lisboeta, a Portuguese restaurant; and a Cuban outfit called La Rampa. Casa do Frango opened its first central London venue on the former Ice Bar site in Heddon Street, last month. A further opening for the concept in Victoria, on the unit formerly occupied by Hai Cenato in the Nova development, is earmarked for next year. MJMK is also set to launch a permanent site for AngloThai, the concept from husband-and-wife team John and Desiree Chantarasak, in Fitzrovia next year.
 
UK bubble tea brand Cupp secures Worcester site, plans additional two Glasgow openings: UK bubble tea brand Cupp has secured a site in Worcester. The company has agreed a ten-year lease on a retail unit at 58 High Street in a deal brokered by Centrick Commercial. Cupp has taken the whole building, including a ground floor retail unit and three upper floors, and plans to complete an extensive fit-out. The business, which was founded by Lee Peacock in Bristol in 2012, has sites lined up in Lancaster, Derby, Nottingham, Enfield, Aberdeen, Winchester, Blackburn, Exeter and Guildford. Cupp is also planning two additional Glasgow stores in the first quarter of next year – one in the city centre and one in the Southside. It comes as the business prepares to make its Scottish debut with an opening in Byres Road, Glasgow, on Friday, 2 December. It will be Cupp’s 20th UK store and follows the signing of a franchise deal earlier this year with Adeel Asghar and Mikayla Whittle, of Franchise&, to open 30 sites in Scotland by 2027, as previously revealed by Propel.
 
Sticks ‘n’ Sushi appoints Nick Eaton as people director: Japanese restaurant group Sticks ‘n’ Sushi has appointed Nick Eaton as its new people director, Propel understands. Eaton joins Sticks ‘n’ Sushi, which will open its tenth UK site next month at Westfield London, after eight and a half years at Specsavers, including the past three and a half years as its director of people operations. Prior to that he spent six years at AstraZeneca, including three as change manager. Sticks ‘n’ Sushi’s opening in Westfield London will mark the ten-year anniversary of the brand's launch in the UK. The White City site will be the group’s eighth restaurant in London. It also operates sites in Cambridge and Oxford. The company said the opening, which will create 50 jobs, continues its “measured and highly successful expansion” over the past decade. The chain operates 12 restaurants in Denmark, nine in the UK and three in Germany.
 
Incipio Group founder launches debut creche and family hub venture: The founder of Incipio Group, the Edition Capital-backed operator of venues including The Prince and Lost In Brixton, has launched his first venture in the nursery and soft play market. Charlie Gardiner, who founded Incipio in 2016, has opened Jaego’s House in Kensal Rise as the first venue for his new vehicle, The Little Houses Group. Branded as a club for all the family, it features a jungle gym, crèche, child-minding service and kids’ cinema for children, plus a co-working office, gym, treatment room and library for adults. A restaurant and waterside cafe, seating 85 inside and 24 on a canalside terrace, offers three specially curated menus – for kids, adults, and a “one-handed” menu for breastfeeding guests. Kensal House Nursery will be a major part of the venture, located in a grade II-listed building adjoining Jaego’s House and offering a bespoke curriculum for up to 100 children. “The dream for most parents is to find somewhere that they love visiting just as much as their children do,” said Gardiner. “That is exactly how we want our members and pay and play guests to feel about Jaego’s House. I lived in Kensal Rise for six years and walked past the same building daily, thinking that it could be transformed into an amazing space. My son, Jaego, was born just 500 metres away, and so it felt like the perfect fit.” Set over 20,000 square feet, Jaego’s House offers annual memberships as well as “affordable pay and play” options without a long-term commitment.
 
Wolfox Collective to open third site under Brod + Wolf concept: Wolfox Collective – the Brighton restaurant, coffee shop and bakery operator – is to open a third site under its Brod + Wolf format, in Horsham, West Sussex. Propel revealed in January that Wolfox, which is led by Fabio Lauro, was set to launch a site in Horsham’s Carfax area. It already operates two sites under Brod + Wolf, which is described as a “a stone oven artisan and organic bakery, and coffee shop concept”, in Hove. Wolfox currently operates 13 sites across the south east, plus one in Leeds, under its eponymous brand. It also operates Japanese restaurant Kusaki in New England Road, Brighton, and is set to open a second, Fumi, on the ground floor of the £130m residential and commercial Circus Street development in the city. 
 
Asahi UK proposes closure of Dark Star Brewery at end of year: Asahi UK is proposing to close the West Sussex-based Dark Star Brewery and move production to its Meantime Brewery in London. Dark Star Brewery was founded in 1994 in Brighton, before moving to Partridge Green, West Sussex, in 2001. The brewery was acquired by Fuller’s in 2018 and became part of the Asahi portfolio when the Japanese business purchased Fuller’s beer business three years ago. An Asahi UK spokesperson told Propel: “We have put forward a proposal for Dark Star to cease trading at its current site as of 31 December 2022, and for operations for the brand to move to the Meantime brewery in Greenwich. This is not a step we have taken lightly. However, there are significant challenges in the current economic and operating environment that make this the right course of action for the business and the brand. The Dark Star site operates significantly below capacity, which is unfortunately not sustainable. We believe strongly in Dark Star and remain committed to building for its future success. The Dark Star beer will remain exactly as it is today – brewed to the same recipe and taste expected by its loyal fans, while retaining its distinct visual brand identity. Our absolute priority right now is to support all colleagues who may be impacted by this proposal, and we are in the process of consultation with them. It would therefore be inappropriate to provide any further detail at this time, but we will share more on our plans for the brand and its future brewing arrangements in due course.”
 
Freehold investment in M&B site sold for circa £3.8m: The freehold investment of the property housing the O’Neill’s in Oxford has been sold to a private investor for ££3,775,000. The property in the city’s George Street comprises a public house arranged over ground and basement levels with 22 residential apartments above (sold off on long leases). The pub is let on a long lease to Mitchells & Butlers, trading under its O’Neills brand. The price reflected a net initial yield of 5.82%. Jack Silvani, director at Coffer Corporate Leisure, who advised the vendor, said: “We are observing a flight to quality, with strong property fundamentals key to liquidity. This is further polarising pricing – resulting in stability for best-in-class investments but softening yields for secondary assets.” Lawson & Partners advised the purchaser.
 
Developer to reopen Birmingham restaurant following £1.15m investment: Local developer Land & Estate Development is set to reopen an Indian restaurant in Birmingham after securing a £1.15m investment. The cash, from Frontier Development Capital, will fund the relaunch of Deolali Indian restaurant in Moseley, creating 15 jobs. The restaurant, founded in 2005, closed due to the impact of the pandemic and has since operated as a “street kitchen”. Alfred Bartlett, director at Land & Estate Developments, said: “We saw Deolali as a unique restaurant opportunity in Moseley, and our new business plan will build on the previous restaurant, and then some. The new street kitchen will offer vibrancy and culinary delights during the day, while the wider restaurant and bar will surpass the old Deolali and build on the prestige cuisine that people flocked to.” Fellow director Kam Sanghera added: “Deolali had both a loyal customer base in the Midlands and a reputation with big names that came to visit. We aim to bring this restaurant back to life, and with it, the high-quality dishes that its customers loved previously.”
 
Bubble CiTea set to make Manchester debut for 35th site: Bubble tea brand Bubble CiTea is set to make its Manchester debut for its 35th site. Founded in Portsmouth by Suneet Sachdeva following his travels in Asia and Australia, CiTea opened its first site, in Guildford, Surrey, in 2013, which has since been followed by 33 others across the UK. It has now taken a 683 square-foot site in Manchester’s Arndale centre, its first in the city, on a five-year lease. It offers fruit tea and milk tea with various toppings, with flavours including Mango Fruit Tea with Rainbow Bubbles and Taro Milk Tea with Crystal Bubbles.
 
Leeds coffee company to open new takeaway shop for second site: Leeds coffee company North Star will open a new takeaway coffee shop next month for its second site. The outlet in Sovereign Street will serve specialty grade coffee supplied by North Star’s network of producing partners in Brazil, Rwanda, Columbia, Costa Rica, Kenya, Guatemala, Peru and El Salvador. The family-run business was founded in 2013 by Alex and Holly Kragioupoulos, who are both from Leeds. North Star, which received B Corp status in June and was the first coffee roaster in the UK to have 100% home compostable packaging, has designed its new shop to be sustainable. Holly said: “Opening our second shop in Leeds is a key step in our growth and impact strategy. As we approach our tenth year in business, our commitment to building a coffee industry that works for everyone is unwavering and just as vital as it was when we opened our roastery in Leeds almost ten years ago.”
 
Independent London brewer set to launch new brewery and taproom: Independent London brewer, Pretty Decent Beer Co, is set to launch a new brewery and taproom in a former motor repair shop in Blackhorse Road. Opening on Friday, 9 December, the site will feature a state-of-the-art 1,500-litre brewhouse, as well as 20 taps of ever-changing beer including weekly special releases. Adding to the company’s original taproom in Forest Gate, it will allow the brewery to double the 5,000 pints a week it currently produces, with plans to produce up to 20,000 a week within the next two years. “We were pretty sure we’d be financially ruined by this point, so to make this move and join the community in Blackhorse Road is pretty ace,” said co-founders Sarah and James Casey, who started the business in 2017. “More capacity allows us to get more specials in, to get more experimental while ensuring we still have the favourites available all year round. It also allows us more space to focus on what we can offer the community down in Forest Gate – and we have something exciting coming in 2023 there!” Pretty Decent Beer also work closely with local businesses, partnering with Walthamstow’s It’s Not Big Dough for a full menu of Neapolitan style pizza, including rotating weekly specials.
 
Hollywood Bowl opens Puttstars in Peterborough as part of centre’s £60m extension: Puttstars, the indoor mini-golf brand operated by the Hollywood Bowl Group, has made its regional debut as part of a £60m extension at Peterborough’s Queensgate Shopping Centre. The 20,000 square-foot space features three unique interactive nine-hole golf courses, a selection of food and drink and the latest arcade games. The £2.6m site marks the first opening in the centre’s leisure extension, with a ten-screen Empire cinema set to join the line-up next year. Laurence Keen, chief financial officer of Hollywood Bowl Group, added: “We are excited to launch Puttstars Peterborough, at Queensgate’s new leisure complex, our first in this region. Not only are we positioned in the heart of the city centre, but we are the first in this major leisure expansion project – we are delighted to have put down roots in Peterborough.” Peterborough is the fifth Puttstars opened by Hollywood Bowl Group, creating 30 jobs.
 
Molo Hotel Group acquires first site in continental Europe: Hotel owner and developer, Molo Hotel Group, has acquired its first site in continental Europe. The company has bought the Hotel Alexandra in Rome following last years’ purchase of the Manchebo Beach Resort and Spa in Aruba in the Caribbean, adding to its presence in the UK. The expansion is part of Molo’s ambitious plans for 2023, which includes three properties currently under construction and scheduled to open by spring, alongside the four hotels that are currently owned by the group. Rome continues Molo’s ambition to acquire or develop in key destinations such as Edinburgh, Liverpool, and Manchester, with further acquisitions planned in Europe and the Caribbean. As with all Molo properties, Hotel Alexandra will be operated by Lighthouse Hotel Management, and plans are currently underfoot to begin major refurbishments on the hotel, allowing for upscale repositioning of the property.

Roxy Leisure secures site and confirms 2023 opening for Welsh debut venue: Roxy Leisure, the operator of the Roxy Lanes and Roxy Ballroom concepts, has secured the site and confirmed a 2023 opening for its first Welsh venue. Propel reported in September that Roxy Leisure had applied to open in the former JJB Sports site Cardiff’s Queen Street for an opening under its Roxy Lanes concept. It will now open the site early next year, offering ten-pin bowling, ice-free curling, American pool, air hockey, karaoke, arcade games, basketball, beer pong and shuffleboard. The Roxy Leisure group now has 13 sites across the UK, with its latest due to open in Edinburgh’s today (Friday, 18 November). Cardiff is one of up to five new sites it has lined up for 2023, including a second one in Birmingham. Commercial manager Joel Mitchell said: “We’ve been searching for the right location in Cardiff for a while now, and we’ve finally found the perfect place. We’re bringing Roxy Lanes to cities across the UK, and thanks to Cardiff’s abundance of clubs, bars, restaurants, and event spaces, we know the people of Cardiff will not only love us for the games, but the Roxy atmosphere and party too.”

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