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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Thu 1st Dec 2022 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Collins – we’ve taken more price than we have done historically, nothing so far to suggest dramatic shift in consumer behaviour: Nick Collins, chief executive of café bar operator Loungers, has told Propel the business has “taken more price than we have done historically” as it works hard to strike the right balance between growing market share and managing margin pressures. The company passed through an average of circa 4% price increase across its new autumn menu. Speaking following the company’s interim results, Collins said: “If you think about the kind of inbound cost pressures we’ve had over the last 12 months, particularly food six months ago, it was really significant. We’ve worked really hard to protect our value for money principles and taken tough decisions. We’ve taken more price than we have done historically, but if you look at the like-for-like performance, we’ve consistently been 15% ahead of the Peach tracker for the last 18 months. If you look at the first half of this year, 17% like-for-like, the fact we’re still growing volumes, albeit the split is different on how it has been historically, that’s pretty unique compared with others. We’ve seen a modest deterioration in our underlying margin, but we’re really happy with where we’re positioned heading into the new year from a consumer perspective.” Collins said there are several ongoing initiatives within the 226-strong business focused on its cost base. He said: “We’ve always been very focused on the top line and always been very conscious that with opening 25-30 sites a year, the biggest risk is we take our eye off the customer experience, get overexcited by the new openings and see a deterioration in the hospitality we’re providing. From a conversion perspective, there are parts of the cost base we haven’t challenged to the same degree that other operators would. Despite the fact we’re really well hedged, we’re still saying we can be more efficient and did a big exercise looking at fryer oil yield. There’s no silver bullet, but one of the lessons we’ve learned over the last six months is there are definite opportunities, particularly in our variable cost base, for us to help counter the margin pressure we’re seeing elsewhere.” Collins said trading on Mondays and Tuesdays, adding: “There’s a lot of doom mongering out there, and we don’t know how the consumers are going to behave after Christmas, but there’s nothing to suggest there’s going to be any kind of dramatic shift in behaviour. The consumer is behaving incredibly consistently and has done so for the last 18 months. If we look at how our business has performed, our price points compared with others and our ability to mitigate margin pressure versus others, then we’re really well placed. As long as we have confidence in what we’re doing, then we should be fine.”

Industry News:

East Coast Concepts to speak at Restaurant Marketer & Innovator European Summit 2023, open for bookings: James Mobbs, sales and marketing director at East Coast Concepts, will speak at the Restaurant Marketer & Innovator European Summit 2023. The event is a partnership between Propel and Think Hospitality, aiming to build a community, promote the sharing of ideas, recognise talent and define the future of eating out. Bookings are now open for the two-day conference as the centrepiece of the January event series, taking place on 24 and 25 January at One Moorgate Place in London. Mobbs will discuss marketing for multi-concept portfolios. More than 50 industry and agency leaders will take to the stage over two days, representing brands including Cornish Bakery, Hawksmoor, Burger King UK, Loungers, The Alchemist, Hall & Woodhouse, Gail’s Bakery, Searcy’s, Press Up Hospitality Group, Krispy Kreme, Mission Mars, Inception Group, New World Trading Company, MJMK, Caprice Holdings, Hakkasan, KellyDeli, Tattu Restaurants, Red Engine, Vapiano, The Cocktail Club, Hilton, Elior, Flat Earth Pizzas, Lollipop, Lego Restaurants, Chotto Matte, Ping Pong, Nobu, Gusto Italian, BrewDog and Six by Nico. Day one themes will be consumer and sector trends, start-ups, concepts and creativity and digital evolution, while day two focuses on purpose and responsible business, strategies for growth and communication and culture. Tickets for operators for the two days are £600 plus VAT and £350 plus VAT for one day. Tickets for suppliers are £950 plus VAT for the two days and £525 plus VAT for one day. Tickets can be purchased by contacting Jo Charity at Propel on

One day to go before next edition of The New Openings Database release, to show details on 164 new sites, 9,000-word report included: The next edition of The New Openings Database will show the details of 164 newly announced site openings and upcoming launches for Premium subscribers when it is published tomorrow (Friday, 2 December), at midday, including which company has opened a site or its plans to open one in the future. It will have details on what type of site it is and its location, and there will also be a website link to the businesses. The database is published on a monthly basis, and the next edition features growing restaurant and bakery brands, niche cuisine, and expanding experiential concepts. Premium subscribers will also receive a 9,000-word report on the new additions to the database. Premium subscribers also receive access to three other databases: the Propel Multi-Site Database, produced in association with Virgate; the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book, produced in association with Mapal Group; and the UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database. Premium subscribers have also now been given exclusive access to the recording and slides from this month's Propel Multi-Club Conference. 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 now also have access to a curated video library of the sector’s finest leaders and entrepreneurs, offering their insights on running outstanding businesses in the sector. Premium subscribers also receive their morning newsletter 11 hours early, at 7pm the evening before our 6am send-out; regular video content and regular exclusive columns from Propel group editor Mark Wingett.

Building back in 2023 – Rare Restaurants' Martin Williams: In a new series of videos in partnership with Fourth, leading industry provider of inventory and workforce management solutions, Propel group editor Mark Wingett talks with leading sector operators about how they see the next 12 months playing out, the challenges they will face and the trends that will shape the market. In this latest video, he talks to Martin Williams, chief executive of Rare Restaurants, the Gaucho and M Restaurants operator, about how the group has evolved over the past 12 months, its stance on sustainability, its work on recruitment and how this will stand it in good stead for the coming 12 months. The video will be sent today (Thursday, 1 December) at 9am

Food prices rise at record rate: Food prices rose at a record rate in the year to November, with meat, eggs, dairy and coffee climbing particularly sharply, new data shows. Food inflation hit 12.4%, up from 11.6% in October due to the rocketing cost of energy, animal feed and transport, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC). Its index showed overall shop price annual inflation accelerated to 7.4% in November, up from 6.6% in October, the fastest rate since the index began in 2005. It added surging food prices were largely to blame, with fresh food prices up by 14.3%, compared with 13.3% in October. “Winter looks increasingly bleak as pressures on prices continue unabated,” BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson told the BBC. “Food prices have continued to soar, especially for meat, eggs and dairy, which have been hit by rocketing energy costs, and rising costs of animal feed and transport. Coffee prices also shot up on last month as high input costs filtered through to price tags.” Dickinson said there were signs cost pressures and price rises might start to ease next year.

England versus Wales World Cup clash sees UK pub sales up 84% on previous Tuesday: The England versus Wales FIFA World Cup clash on Tuesday (29 November) saw UK pub sales rise 84% on the previous Tuesday, data from The Oxford Partnership has shown. The market intelligence business said 9.2 million pints were sold across the UK on the day on the group match in Qatar, with the average pub serving 300 pints. This was an extra 136 pints compared with a typical Tuesday, with England fans drinking an additional 151 pints and Wales fans an extra 82. England, who won the match 3-0, now take on Senegal in the last 16 on Sunday evening (4 December), while the defeat saw Wales head home from the tournament.

Plan B evolves to Balance the Board: Plan B, the mentoring platform founded five years ago by Emma Causer, Holly Addison and Ann Elliott to accelerate women’s representation on boards, is to rebrand and restructure in line with a “refreshed, broader purpose”. The new identity – Balance the Board – was revealed at last week’s Accelerating Change conference, which was supported by Propel and held at 30 Euston Square in London. Addison said: “We recognise the need to take our efforts beyond just gender equity, supporting wider communities and embracing all dimensions of difference; encouraging greater balance on boards and championing more inclusive cultures. We have to change mindsets and behaviours to proactively seek out, attract and retain more diverse talent, to ensure our leadership teams are truly reflective of society around us.” Balance the Board will be run by Addison and Causer, who will be supported by an advisory board of business leaders and experts.

Former Costa and Fridays CFO made OBE: Former Costa Coffee and Fridays chief financial officer Mohan Mansigani has been made an OBE in Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s 2021 birthday honours list. Mansigani played a key leadership role in establishing Casual Dining Group, which operated brands such as Café Rouge and Strada, as a major UK restaurant business. He also led the business through two private equity transactions, including the £267m sale to Blackstone in 2007. “My father came to London in 1951 with the aim of supporting his family back in India, thinking that he would return as soon as he achieved this goal,” Mansigani said. “In the event he stayed, and from humble beginnings, built a successful business and raised a young family. I was the first in my family to go to university and went on to qualify as a chartered accountant. From there, I had a career as finance director of a number of restaurant chains including Costa Coffee and Cafe Rouge.”

Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a London hotel group that is looking for a sustainability and utilities category manager to join its team. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “You will be responsible for all strategic sourcing and category management activities including contract and supplier relationship management for sustainability, utility and waste management categories, for the whole group.” The salary is up to £75,000 and the position is based in London. For more information, email

Company News:

Turtle Bay boss sees runway to 120-plus UK openings, expanding four-day week trial: Turtle Bay chief executive Nick Crossley has said he sees a runway of 120-plus UK openings for the Piper-backed Caribbean restaurant brand, starting with five more in 2023. Earlier this year, Crossley said the then 44-strong business, which now has 47 sites, was planning to open 40 more over the next five years. Looking further down the road, Crossley told the Propel Multi-Club Conference: “We think we’ve got a really big runway ahead of us – there’s a lot of places we’re not in – like Reading, Portsmouth and Brighton. We think there’s potential for 120-plus Turtle Bays in the UK, and the 2023 pipeline is five. We’ve got huge potential and we need to aggressively pursue that. Our research showed us 46% of UK adults and 70% of 18 to 35-year-olds have heard of us, but the highest awareness of us is actually in central London, which is really interesting as we don’t have a Turtle Bay in central London! That provides me with a lot of confidence we have huge opportunity for expansion, because one of the groups we looked at is people who are aware of us but don’t use us. We asked them why, and 52% said there isn’t one near where they live, and can you bring one to our town? That gives us strong confidence about a potential roadmap into the future.” Turtle Bay’s most recent opening was in Romford’s Brewery Walk earlier this week, while among its next batch of openings will be Blackpool, Chester and London’s Hammersmith. Crossley also said the business is expanding the four-day week it has been trialling in some sites, as he believes ensuring a supportive staff environment will help build on 2022’s record trading levels. “We’re playing with four-day working weeks at the moment and looking to find a way to get management teams working to them,” he said. “We rolled out some trials and are expanding that across the brand. People work hard in hospitality, so giving people three clear days off is really important to us. We had an amazing return to trading in the immediate aftermath of the pandemic, and this year continues to trade at superior levels. It’s our people that have made all the difference, and an environment that is supportive and takes care of their needs is important to us. Great teams stay with you longer, help with stability and improve service and efficiency, which will see people come back more frequently, spend more money with you and tell their friends and family about you.”

Lake – Chopstix set to have commitments for 150 new stores by end of 2022 as it ‘accelerates’ into franchising: Jon Lake, managing director at fast-growing quick service restaurant brand Chopstix, said he expects to have commitments for 150 new stores by end of 2022 as the company “accelerates” into franchising. Speaking at this month's Propel Multi-Club Conference, Lake said: “We’re two thirds company-owned and about a third franchising, and we’ll probably see that change quite markedly over the next 18-24 months as we accelerate into franchising more. What we saw two years ago as we came out of the first stage of the pandemic was the loosening up of the property market. We felt that we could take advantage of that and started to build up a property pipeline. At the same time, we started to engage more with new franchise partners with the plan being to continue the equity stores growth and build up the franchise pipeline. It means we’ve used the last two years to really turbo charge the equity store growth and whilst we still see opportunities in the equity store estate, the vast majority of new stores will likely come through franchising. By the end of the year, we will probably have commitments for 150 new stores over the next five years from our franchise partners alone.” Lake said capex has gone up “probably 20-30%” over the last six to 12 months, and while the company “can manage that to a degree”, it is looking at several cost-saving measures. Lake said: “You also have to look at ways you can innovate alongside your partners – we had a franchise partner open in Newcastle-under-Lyme, a 2,000 square-foot unit which was probably slightly too big for a Chopstix. We agreed with the partner for them to co-locate another complementary brand and so they opened a Planet Doughnut alongside. We remain the main focus, but the franchise partner can sweat the asset better.”

US juice bar brand to make English debut early in 2023 with two London sites: US Juice bar brand Smoothie Factory, which made its UK debut earlier this year with an opening in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter, will open its first English stores in the first quarter of 2023. The American franchise brand, which has more than 120 stores in 20 countries, is lining up a couple of London stores – one in the east of the city and one in the west. It will also be looking to open a second Northern Ireland site early next year, this time a kiosk, as it works towards an eventual target of 25 UK sites, as reported by Propel last month. “We are looking for further expansion throughout the UK and Ireland and have a number of interested parties already,” Andrew McQueen, managing director of Smoothie Factory UK and Ireland, told Propel. “We believe our model can work in any major city in the UK and Ireland, but shopping centres would be a particularly good fit. Great Britain will be rolled out through our master franchise partner, but there are still investment options for regions, cities and individual stores available within that area. Ireland is available to a master franchise partner, and we’re looking for a strong business or individual with previous food and beverage experience to launch the brand into the Republic. They’ll be required to open a minimum of five stores within five years, including one ‘model’ outlet (store or kiosk), after which they’ll be able to sub franchise. Phase one objectives were to stand up the model store, secure a master agreement for Great Britain and another for Ireland. Phase two will be supporting our master franchise partners to open a minimum of 15 stores – five in Northern Ireland, five in the rest of the UK and five in Ireland – by 2026.”

Stange & Co reports turnover and profit boost as it builds back from pandemic: Stange & Co, which operates venues in Merseyside and North Wales, has reported turnover increased to £10,722,758 for the year ending 28 February 2022 compared with £4,327,325 the year before. However, turnover remained below the £11,804,014 for the year ending 28 February 2020 – the last full year before the pandemic. Ebitda increased to £1.72m from a loss of £502,000 the previous year and was also up on 2020 (£1.1m). The business, which is chaired by Brunning & Price co-founder Graham Price, made a pre-tax profit of £1,120,882 compared with £57,635 the year before (2020: £693,000). Two of its pubs – The Ship in Parkgate and the Glengower in Aberystwyth – were refurbished during the period. Although the closures impacted revenue by £700,000 and £200,000 and Ebitda by £310,000 and £97,000 respectively, the venues have traded “strongly ahead of expectations” since reopening in April this year. Its latest site, the Ring O’Bells in West Kirby, is set to open in the spring with work now taking its place on the property, which will become its tenth venue. The group said it was on a variable rate for gas and a “very favourable” fixed rate for electricity until 2025. No dividend was paid (2021: nil). The business received £467,337 through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (2021: £2,094,039). In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “We have made good strides in repayment of our borrowings through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (£601,236 outstanding at year end on first loan and £200,000 on second loan). During the year we built up a healthy cash surplus. The decision was taken to invest this in the two refurbishments rather than early repayment of loans. This was based on the strength of trading coming out of the pandemic and the very favourable terms the loans were arranged on. Both projects were funded fully via cash.”

PizzaExpress introduces first of its kind Bagasse box bases: PizzaExpress has begun rolling out Bagasse bases to be used in all of its pizza boxes delivering the brand’s thinner, crispier 14-inch Romana pizzas. The bases have been extensively tested, on average increasing the temperature retention of a Romana pizza by five degrees Celsius. PizzaExpress has pledged to be a net zero company by 2040, and the base was developed with its sustainability ambitions in mind. The material used for the insert is the waste product of farmed wheat, is compostable and can be disposed of with food waste. The product is unique to PizzaExpress and is the first of its kind to roll out. Jane Treasure, director of food and beverages at PizzaExpress, said: “However customers choose to enjoy a pizza – dining in, from a supermarket or for delivery – we want the taste and experience to reflect the care and passion that’s gone into creating it. As a team, we’re going to continue to innovate to ensure we’re responding to the growing demand for quality delivery.”

Eden Gardens Entertainment returns to profit, Shoreditch nightclub to restaurant conversion ‘not performing as anticipated’: Bar, restaurant and nightclub operator Eden Gardens Entertainment has reported turnover increased to £13,139,337 for the year ending 30 November 2021 compared with £10,398,191 the previous year. The business, which disposed of 18 of its venues in 2019 and now operates four venues, made a pre-tax profit of £408,419 compared with a loss of £275,391 the year before. The business received £608,599 in government grants (2020: £967,962). A dividend of £280,000 was paid (2020: £1,135,000). The company converted its Cargo nightclub in London’s Shoreditch into a restaurant, taproom and cocktail bar, which opened this summer. However, the business revealed turnover has “remained low and not reached the anticipated level”. It said efforts to attract more custom were continuing “by exploring all avenues”. 

Margate restaurant Barletta to close after losing £50,000 through bank scam: Margate restaurant Barletta has announced it will cease trading from Friday, 9 December, after the couple who run it lost £50,000 through a bank scam. Jackson Berg and Natalia Ribbe, who also operate wine bar Sète in the Cliftonville area of the Kent town, said the loss from their business accounts has left them unable to continue running Barletta, which last year moved to Turner Contemporary from Margate’s Dreamland theme park. A GoFundMe campaign raised almost £6,500 but wasn’t enough to save the business, and those who donated will now be offered their money back. A statement from the couple said: “We are deeply saddened to share the news Barletta will be closing. The impact of fraudulent activity on our bank account, compounded by the increase in energy bills and cost-of-living crisis, has made it impossible for us to carry on. This was not the outcome we were hoping for, but it is the one we must make. To everyone who donated to help keep us afloat, a refund can be requested at any time. Any remaining funds will be donated to Hospitality Action.” Ribbe told The Isle of Thanet News the scammers tricked them into believing she was talking to a bank official on the phone, and while the banks in question – Monzo and Tide – are in the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, the couple are not covered due to it being an authorised push payment scam. Tide said it had managed to retrieve a portion of the money, understood to be around £2,000, and said it continuously encourages all its members to be vigilant on fraud prevention. The couple will continue to operate Sète, while a Turner Contemporary spokesperson said it will explore opportunities for a new food offer in the new year.

Goring Hotel owner seeing strong bounce back in trade as it reports return to profit but turnover still below pre-pandemic levels: The owner of the Goring Hotel in London’s Belgravia has seen a strong bounce back in trade in recent months as it reported a return to profit. The business reported turnover increased to £10,491,197 for the year ending 31 March 2022 compared with £1,270,314 the previous year when the 69-bedroom property was closed for eight of the 12 months in the period. However, turnover remained below the £15,902,238 for the year ending 31 March 2020 when the final month of trade was also affected by the pandemic. The business made a pre-tax profit of £118,407 compared with a loss of £4,743,710 the year before (2020: profit of £534,692). No dividend was paid (2021: nil). In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “With the local and international travel restrictions relaxed, we have enjoyed the return of our loyal guests and the positive impact of months of pent-up demand. We have experienced a strong bounce back to trade in the last few months, mostly driven by the increased average room rates in the London market.”

Sticks’n’Sushi celebrates decade of UK operations with tenth opening here: Sushi chain Sticks’n’Sushi has celebrated a decade of operating in the UK by opening a tenth site over here. The Danish-owned group has opened in Westfield White City for its eighth London restaurant, alongside regional sites in Cambridge and Oxford. The 120-cover restaurant is set across two floors and offers a combination of traditional sushi and yakitori sticks from the grill, with drinks including Japanese-inspired cocktails, sake and Japanese tea. Andreas Karlsson, group chief executive, said: “We are delighted to be able to open another restaurant where we can welcome new and loyal guests. This is a testament to our exceptional teams across the group who all contribute to our ongoing success.” Both delivery and collection options will be available. Sticks’n’Sushi also operates 12 restaurants in Copenhagen and opened its third Berlin restaurant in late September.

West Yorkshire chef to open debut restaurant: West Yorkshire chef Rowan Boon is to open his debut restaurant. Boon will launch Marrow by RB on Friday (2 December), which will operate out of The Cat I’th Well pub in Wainstalls, Halifax. Marrow by RB will serve “high-end pub comfort food” with ingredients that have been sourced locally. Featured on the menu will be local horseshoe gammon steak, handcrafted burgers and pot pies. Boon, from Halifax, said: “I believe the best food is not mass produced. When people dine out, they want the best, and that can only come from sourcing the best ingredients. We’re proud to have partnered with amazing local producers to support Yorkshire businesses. I’m really proud and excited to be launching my own restaurant. It’s a vision that has been years in the making.”

The Lowry reports return to profit in 2022 after losing more than £3m during covid: The Lowry Hotel, a five-star hotel in Salford, Greater Manchester, has reported it has returned to profit this year after losing more than £3m during the course of the covid-19 pandemic as it battled with government-enforced closures. The hotel saw pre-tax losses of £2,837,000 in 2020 and £211,000 in 2021. It had previously made a pre-tax profit of £545,000 in 2019. Its turnover also dropped from £12,886,000 in 2019 to £4,144,000 in 2020 but it rose to £8,076,000 for the year ending 31 December 2021 after a “very strong” recovery period in the second half of last year. Over the course of the pandemic the hotel received more than £1.5m through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. The number of people employed fell from 207 at the end of 2019 to 183 at the end of 2021. The hotel added after the end of 2021 it has returned to profitability. In their statement accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “The hotel reopened in May 2021 and the recovery period for the last six months of 2021 was very strong. The pent-up demand for celebrations and leisure stays was very evident and this resulted in good occupancies, improved average rates and good spend in the spa, restaurant and bar. The onset of the Omicron variant impacted the end of the year and the early part of 2022 with a lower level of business evident in January and February 2022 as a result of the cautious nature of business following the advice from government. However, since the lifting of restrictions in March 2022, the confidence levels from guests and event organisers has improved and business levels have increased significantly for the spring season and onwards for the remaining months of 2022.” In May 2017, Singapore-based CDL Hospitality Trusts acquired the hotel from North Low SARL for £53m. The Lowry opened in 2001 and has 165 bedrooms.

Dartmouth operator takes on riverside cafe-bar: Dartmouth operator Mark Readman has taken on The Crab & Bucket, a cafe-bar in the Devon town overlooking the River Dart. Readman is the former general manager at Holland Group, which operates several businesses in the town including restaurants The Angel and Platform 1. The Crab & Bucket has covers for 26, a central serving bar and waitress station, plus an outside area for 30 people overlooking the estuary. Charles Darrow director Jon Clyne, who handled the sale, said: “I think we are all acutely aware of the challenges the hospitality industry is facing currently, but profitable sites in prime locations are still experiencing much interest, and we wish Mark all the best with his plans moving forward.”

Dalata opens 50th hotel and 17th in UK: Irish hotel operator Dalata has opened its 50th hotel and 17th in the UK, Clayton Hotel Glasgow City in Clyde Street. It is Dalata’s second hotel in Scotland, following the opening of Maldron Hotel Glasgow in August 2021, and first under the group’s Clayton brand. The group operates 11 Clayton hotels and six Maldron hotels in the UK and has four under construction – in Brighton, Manchester, Liverpool and London. The four-star Clayton Hotel Glasgow City is situated on the site of the city’s Grade A-listed Custom House building, and its opening is part of a wider restoration of the historical St Enoch area. It features a reception, public area, ballroom and event spaces alongside 303 bedrooms, and a seventh-floor terrace with panoramic views across the city. Dermot Crowley, chief executive of Dalata Hotel Group, said: “The opening of our 50th hotel is a significant milestone for us and is a further demonstration of the excellent team we have, which continues to deliver on our ambitious growth strategy. The hotel, our first with investment partners Union Investment, has been expertly developed in an iconic listed building that has been part of Glasgow for 180 years.”

Sessions partners with Lexington Catering to give independent food brands access to wider audience: Sessions, the food hall concept led by former Deliveroo managing director Dan Warne, has signed a partnership agreement with Lexington Catering to give independent food brands access to a wider audience. The partnership will provide Lexington’s clients with access to Sessions’ stable of brands. Catherine Ainsley, commercial director at Sessions, said: “We’re all about turning the spotlight on the most talented chefs in the industry right now and we’re thrilled to have a new channel to showcase them. It is a wonderful opportunity for us to partner with Lexington Catering, which shares our enthusiasm to support market leading small and medium-sized enterprises. It enables our brands to reach a wider audience and their clients and customers to access some outstanding food concepts.” Sessions’ eponymously named showcase venue brings brands in its portfolio to Islington in London for limited-time residencies. Its brands are also available at its Brighton seafront venue, Shelter Hall.

Odeon to launch first Luxe cinema in Wales: Cinema operator Odeon is launching its first Luxe cinema in Wales next month. Odeon Luxe Bridgend will offer guests more than 600 recliner seats across the nine screens, with three times the standard legroom and more personal space. Odeon Luxe’s premium food and drink offering will be available as well as a selection of wine, beer and cocktails available at Oscar’s Bar, named in honour of Odeon founder Oscar Deutsch. The new Odeon Luxe Bridgend marks the launch of the first full Luxe cinema experience in Wales. Carol Welch, managing director Odeon UK & Ireland, said: “Bringing our Luxe experience to Bridgend highlights our continued commitment to providing the best and most immersive moviegoing experience for as many of our guests as possible. We remain hugely confident in the upcoming films and by our guests’ desire to come and socialise at the cinema and enjoy films as they were meant to be seen – on the big screen.”

New Forest boutique hotel set to reopen with three new restaurants and bars following £4m renovation: New Forest boutique hotel Stanwell House is set to reopen with three new restaurants and bars following a £4m renovation. The privately owned venue in Lymington, which features 27 boutique rooms, will open its doors once more on Friday, 16 December. The new dining options include the seafood focused The Samphire Restaurant and The Orangery, a cocktail bar offering afternoon tea and a new champagne and oyster menu. Also launching is The Salt Bar, which will be open to non-residents and guests alike, offering light bites and seasonal dishes. Lance Bartlett, general manager at Stanwell House, said: “We can’t wait for our guests to experience all the hard work and money that has gone into making the hotel a luxury boutique for everyone to enjoy.”

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