Story of the Day:
Hush wins landmark court case against landlord over new lease option: Hush Collection, the London restaurant group, which includes the Cabana, Hush and Haché brands, has won a landmark court victory against a landlord over an option on a new lease for its Hush Mayfair site. Jamie Barber, executive chairman of Hush Collection, said the ruling was a victory for “all UK hospitality businesses”. He said: “Edward Standring [chief executive of Hush Collection] and I are delighted and overwhelmingly relieved that Hush’s presence in Lancashire Court has been secured into the next decade and beyond. Geoffrey Moore and I founded Hush 22 years ago, and we have been an exemplary tenant throughout that time becoming an institution and creating an oasis in the middle of Mayfair. It is extremely disappointing that a landlord like Royal London Asset Management (RLAM) chose to take commercial advantage of covid by terminating our option for a new lease because of a ‘late payment’ two years ago in the midst of lockdown just days before a rent concession was documented. Thankfully, the court has found in our favour. No one from RLAM has communicated with us at all about the case since covid, and so this process has felt faceless and, in some ways, quite sinister. But for us, it is a big deal! This is a victory for all UK hospitality, for restaurant, bar and retail operators still recovering from covid scars, that have faced unconscionable practices by landlords.”
Vapiano to speak at Restaurant Marketer & Innovator European Summit 2023, open for bookings:
Vikki O'Neill, marketing director at Vapiano, 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. O’Neill will discuss tactics for 2023. 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, East Coast Concepts, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Next edition of The New Openings Database to be sent to Premium subscribers today, to show details of 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 today (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 email@example.com to upgrade your subscription.
Subscribers also receive access to Propel’s library of lockdown videos and Friday Wrap interviews and now also have access to a curated video library of the sector’s finest leaders and entrepreneurs, offering their insights on running outstanding businesses in the sector. Premium subscribers also receive their morning newsletter 11 hours early, at 7pm the evening before our 6am send-out; regular video content and regular exclusive columns from Propel group editor Mark Wingett.
Building back in 2023 – Darwin & Wallace managing director Mel Marriott: 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 the final video of the series, he talks to Darwin & Wallace founder and managing director Mel Marriott about how the London business is continuing to enhance its sustainability credentials, its work on the mental health of its staff, and why providing flexibility for a new generation of employees is becoming increasingly important. The video will be sent today (Friday, 2 December) at 9am.
More than four in five bars plan to increase ranging of no and low alcohol drinks in 2023: More than four in five bars plan to increase their range of no and low alcohol drinks in 2023 to capitalise on consumers’ interest in healthier drinking, new research shows. The “Leading the Way in No/Low Spirits” report, produced by CGA by NielsenIQ and non-alcoholic spirits brand Crossip, indicates two thirds (67%) have increased their no and low alcohol offering in the past 12 months, and even more (82%) will do so over the next 12 months. Almost nine in ten (88%) bars now offer no or low alcohol drinks, the survey shows – and a significant proportion (75%) of team members consume these drinks personally. Two in five (41%) professionals think no/low spirits will see the fastest growth over the next five years, putting it well clear of other categories like beer (24%) and wine (23%). Four in five (80%) bar staff agree their primary target for no and low alcohol drinks are those who are not teetotal, and a similar number (78%) think the category adds new occasions to people’s drinking habits, rather than replacing current ones. Bartenders think a no/low alcohol spirit and mixer should cost an average of £6.62 compared with £7.45 for an alcoholic version, nearly a third (30%) think the no/low alcohol category is currently the most innovative part of the drinks market, and bar staff who have received training have significantly higher knowledge and confidence in the no/low category. Dave Lancaster, client director at CGA, said: “Bar professionals are helping to make the no and low alcohol category one of the most dynamic parts of Britain’s drinking-out market. Alongside consumers’ rising awareness of the range of quality of drinks that are available, it puts this segment in prime position for more success throughout 2023.”
McDonald’s testing new to-go format in US: McDonald’s has begun testing a small-format model in the US designed specifically for on-the-go customers. The test restaurant, which is said to be “considerably smaller” than the brand’s traditional US restaurants, is located near Fort Worth, Texas, and includes a mobile-order-ahead lane for customers who want to skip the traditional drive-thru lane by placing their order through the mobile app and picking it up via a conveyor system. McDonald’s said the order-ahead lane deploys technology allowing employees to begin preparing customers’ orders when they’re near the restaurant, while the location’s app updates, food and beverage conveyor, and new kitchen format, all work to streamline operations. McDonald’s said the reason behind the change was the features, inside and outside, are geared toward diners who plan to bring the food home or eat in transit. The restaurant includes a delivery pick-up room for couriers to retrieve orders. There are also kiosks for consumers to place their orders to go, as well as a pick-up shelf. McDonald’s has also incorporated several parking spaces dedicated to kerbside order pick-up alongside designated spots for delivery drivers. Max Carmona, senior director, global design and restaurant development at McDonald’s, said: “At McDonald’s, we’ve been setting the standard for drive-thrus for more than 45 years. As our customers' needs continue to change, we are committed to finding new ways to serve them faster and easier than ever before.”
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a contract catering business that is looking to bring a coffee brand manager into the team to help elevate and develop its internal coffee offering to a diverse portfolio of clients. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “The business is seeking someone that understands and has worked extensively with coffee branding and can deliver a comprehensive commercial plan to drive the offering forward. It is looking for a strategic minded individual who can converse in a business-to-consumer as well as a business-to-business environment. A firm understanding of current coffee trends and an analytical approach are needed.” The salary is up to £55,000 and the position is based in London. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Collins – new sites continue to generate above average levels of sales, analyst sees scope for Loungers to quadruple estate: Nick Collins, chief executive of café bar operator Loungers, has told Propel the 226-strong-group’s site pipeline is in really good shape and new openings “continue to generate above average levels of sales and above average levels of Ebitda”. The Lounge and Cosy Club operator, which opened its latest site – Carlo Lounge in the West Sussex town of East Grinstead – earlier this week, has so far opened 16 of the 30 sites it plans to open across its latest financial year. In the 24 weeks ended 2 October 2022, the group’s capex was £15m including £11.2m on new sites and £1.6m on maintenance. The company said fit-out costs have crept up (Lounge average £750,000, Cosy Clubs now £1.1m) but landlord contributions and rental terms remain better than ever. Collins said: "Expansion opportunities are still coming through from ex-retail sites and former banks. The pipeline is in really good shape. The new sites that are opening continue to generate above average levels of sales and above average levels of Ebitda. We continue to be out on the road one day every two or three weeks looking at new opportunities. And we're excited about what we can do in the next 12 to 18 months. From a design perspective, as the estate grows, we are opening better and better sites. We have never adopted a cookie-cutter approach and the focus on each site's individual design has never been stronger. Our in-house design and construction approach to fitting-out sites is an important factor in achieving the local feel of our sites and also provides us flexibility and cost efficiency. Our levels of capex have nudged higher in this inflationary environment, and we continue to work hard to mitigate these pressures.” The first Brightside location is scheduled to open on the A38, south of Exeter, in February 2023, with a further two to open in early FY24. In time, Loungers believes there is scope to develop a truly national brand. Collins said the company has had “more incoming calls from developers, from operators, from the big groups” in terms of opportunities for the new roadside concept. He said: “It’s definitely the case that we're still finding our way from a pipeline perspective. We don't quite know what the pipeline will look like in 12-24 months’ time. We're really focused on getting these first three or four sites open and demonstrating how they trade and demonstrating why we have such confidence in the model and the opportunity.” The group’s expansion plans come as sector analyst Alex Chatterton, of Panmure Gordon, said he believed there was scope for Loungers to quadruple in size. He said: “Based on our analysis, we believe there is scope for 800 Loungers sites – 600 Lounge, 100 Cosy Club and 100 Brightside. This enlarged estate, based on our analysis, would generate revenue of circa £1bn versus FY21 revenue of circa £240m.”
7Bone Burger Co acquired out of administration for just over £300,000: 7Bone Burger Co, which last month secured new investment after concluding a restructure, was acquired out of administration for £311,067, Propel understands. Last month, Propel revealed 7Bone had undergone a pre-pack administration, which had included the closure of two sites. The restructure left the business with ten trading sites and the backing of a new entity led by Kings Park Capital. An administrator’s report laid out the issues the business faced. It stated during the summer of 2022 the group began to experience significant cash flow pressures. It said: “This was due to a number of reasons including, but not limited to, the forced closure of the group's profitable Southampton site in June 2022 due to a fire; the unusually hot summer of 2022, which resulted in weaker than forecast trading; and the general headwinds facing the hospitality sector.” This led to a circa £3m funding gap. When it came to exploring options for the business, more than 170 parties were approached. The report stated: “Subsequently, two offers were received for the business and majority of the assets of the group, including the company, but neither offer was capable of completion on a solvent basis.” The business was subsequently acquired out of administration for £311,067, which comprised £111,067 in cash, and an additional £200,000 in relation to the intellectual property owned by the company that will be paid by way of a credit bid mechanism – whereby the purchaser’s secured debt will reduce by the £200,000. After the restructure, co-founder Matt Mollicone told Propel: “We have now concluded a restructure through a pre-pack admin. All ten trading sites remain open (with the two we temporarily closed now permanent closures), and 181 employees remain with the business. We are also looking/hoping to reopen a site in Southampton in the next few months following the fire we unfortunately had in the original site.”
ETM Group secures more than £11m of new funding: ETM Group, which operates 12 premium bars, pubs and restaurants in central London, has secured more than £11m in funding from ThinCats. ETM will use the funds to refinance the entirety of its bank loans as well as providing “suitable working capital headroom to underpin further organic growth”. Founded in 2000, ETM operates sites including the sports-focused concepts Greenwood and Redwood, as well as food-led pubs and restaurants such as The Jugged Hare and The Botanist Sloane Square. Despite a challenging period for the sector, ETM said it had navigated its way through successive lockdowns, with solid trading “largely down to the experience of the management team and the strength of its brands” and it was in “a great position to build on an already impressive portfolio”. For the year to 27 February 2022, the business reported turnover of £21.6m (2021: £6.8m) and a return to “healthy Ebitda profitability”. Ed Martin, co-founder and chief executive of ETM, said: “We remain optimistic about growth for the sector and are grateful to the ThinCats team for its support and commitment. This funding ensures we can continue to offer lasting experiences for our customers in unique and exciting venues in beautiful settings across the capital.” Dave Sherrington, regional head of sales at ThinCats, added: “ETM has an incredible collection of venues, recognisable brands that have fantastic reputations in London. We also believe in the management team and its ability to thrive in uncertain times, which is why we have backed it.”
TRG leisure and concessions secures UK debut for Jones the Grocer with double Heathrow airport opening: The Restaurant Group’s (TRG) leisure and concessions division has secured a UK debut for Dubai-based artisan café, bakery and deli concept Jones the Grocer, with a double opening at Heathrow airport slated for next year. The partnership will see a Jones the Grocer and Jones the Grocer Express open in Terminal 2 in 2023, with The Jones the Grocer site, featuring more than 170 covers, set to be its largest airport store in the world and first in the UK. Comprising more than 5,900 square feet in the terminal’s international departure lounge, it will serve craft beer, wine and cocktails alongside artisan cheese and meat boards as well as sharing plates. An island bao bar will serve savoury buns and noodle bowls, while an Italian pizza oven and pasta bar will be part of the offer. Jones the Grocer Express, located immediately in front of Jones the Grocer, will be a grab-and-go concept offering pastries, pies, sandwiches, wraps, soups and salads, alongside smoothies, leaf tea, and a selection of hot and cold drinks. The openings will mark a strategic phase in Jones the Grocer’s expansion. Yunib Siddiqui, chief executive of Jones the Grocer, said: “Winning this award demonstrates TRG’s commitment, passion and belief in Jones the Grocer as a world-class brand, as well as its desire to bring the best in food retail to the UK airport travel space.” Mark Chambers, chief executive of leisure and concessions at TRG, added: “We are delighted to have won this large concession award in partnership with Jones the Grocer, an excellent brand bringing a vast range of quality food options to passengers at Heathrow airport. Our agreement with Jones the Grocer is testament to our team’s ability to identify exciting brands worldwide and introduce new concepts to the travelling public.”
BrewDog loses B Corp status: Brewer and retailer BrewDog has lost its status as a B Corp, which offers certification of a company’s ethical commitment to the environment, community and staff, less than two years after joining the scheme. The company achieved B Corp status last February, saying at the time that it achieved its highest scores in the workers and environmental assessment areas. “BrewDog is no longer a Certified B Corp,” a spokesperson for B Lab told The Guardian. “B Lab does not comment on companies that are no longer in the B Corp community.” Businesses with B Corp status are required to sign up to targets such as carbon neutrality and gender pay parity and have to reverify every three years. BrewDog is understood to have been subject to an investigation by B Lab after staff submitted complaints following a BBC documentary that looked at the brewer’s workplace culture. BrewDog has submitted complaints to the TV regulator, Ofcom, about the documentary, which aired earlier this year. B Lab said it investigates “material, credible and specific claims” against a company on the grounds of either “intentional misrepresentation of practices, policies, or outcomes claimed during a company’s certification process”, or “breaches of the B Corp community’s core values”. BrewDog is understood to have completed some of the remediation steps required by B Lab after its investigation, but due to cost, did not complete all that was required to maintain its certified status. BrewDog scored 81.8 out of a potential 200, but B Corp has been criticised for its scoring system, as well as being accused of losing its relevance and integrity.
PubLove reports bumper year with 26% like-for-like growth in food and record 92% occupancy across hostels: PubLove, the hostel-pub company founded in 2007 by Ben Stackhouse, has reported its Burger Craft Kitchens have seen 26% like-for-like sales growth while its hostels have delivered average occupancy of 92% across the last 12 months. The company is predicting a bumper Christmas to top off what has been a record year. With six sites across London, PubLove this week unveiled its Christmas Pudding Burger, which will spearhead its food offer through December. “The Burger Craft brand is just going from strength to strength as we become known for the best burgers in the capital,” said Stackhouse. “We’ve seen really healthy growth and much of it is down to brilliant food at really good value.” He also believes value sits at the heart of its 400-plus beds across the estate, which are running ahead of pre-pandemic levels for their highest occupancy and room rates on record: “We continue to defy the market,” Stackhouse said. “We’ve seen a particularly solid overseas visitor and student business – the audience is definitely out there. We are finding they not only stay with us, but then want to spend time in the pubs and enjoy our food. If we doubled our bed nights, we could fill them.” The Christmas Pudding Burger comes with charcoaled buns, Cumberland sausage patties, smoked streaky Somerset bacon, Christmas pudding chutney and a Wensleydale custard. Meanwhile, festive drinks feature the Holy Negroni made with Sacred Christmas pudding gin, English spiced vermouth, rosehip cup and dried orange; and a gingerbread espresso martini.
Itsu makes its debut in France, franchisee Savvi Dining Group to open second Midlands site: Itsu, the healthy Asian food chain, has opened its debut site in France, in Paris. The site is at 4 Avenue du Président Wilson. The opening is part of the franchise agreement the Julian Metcalfe-led business signed with Groupe Betrand earlier this summer, which will see Itsu restaurants open across France. The 2,093 square-foot, 67-cover site marks the start of the plan to expand to 50 restaurants in five years, with three new stores set to open by the end of 2023. The company said the Paris opening is the next step on a journey to expand further into Europe, with a launch in Germany understood to be under consideration. Groupe Betrand, founded in 1997 by Olivier Betrand, is a multi-brand restaurant operator with a projected turnover of €2.2bn this year. Metcalfe said: “Groupe Bertrand has an incredible wealth of experience opening restaurants for some of the largest fast-food chains in the world. Its passion and commitment to quality, healthy food at an affordable price, cements Olivier Bertrand as a perfect partner to help make Itsu available to more people in more places across France.” Bertrand added: “The desire to eat healthily has increased in recent years and Itsu’s high standards and quality offering is certain to bring something new to the people of France over the next few years.” The move into France is part of Itsu’s expansion of its franchising model launched last year when it opened its first European restaurant in partnership with Autogrill in Brussels. The brand currently operates 78 franchised and owned restaurants in the UK and EU, with its franchise operation, now totalling nine sites. Itsu is also set to open a second site with the Savvi Dining Group, its franchise for the Midlands, in Nottingham. Propel understands Savvi, which is led by Ghanshyam Ramparia, the co-owner of the Temple of Seitan concept and a Costa Coffee franchisee, will open an Itsu in the Clocktower Dining Quarter at Victoria Centre, in the new year. Last year, Savvi opened its first Itsu site, at Leicester’s Fosse Park Shopping Centre. Ramparia was born and raised in Leicester and has operated business concepts and franchises in the area for more than 25 years.
Rosa’s Thai secures Bath site: Rosa’s Thai, which is backed by TriSpan, has further added to its 2023 openings pipeline, after securing a site in Bath, Propel has learned. The Gavin Adair-led company has secured an empty unit in the city’s Cheap Street for an opening in the first quarter of next year. Last month, Propel revealed Rosa’s Thai, which made its international debut in September in Dubai, had secured the former Absurd Bird site in Exeter’s Queen Street, for an opening at the end of January. The business will open its final site of this year, in Nottingham next week. It 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.
DoorDash cuts 1,250 jobs after pandemic hiring surge: American food delivery company DoorDash is cutting circa 1,250 corporate jobs, or about 6% of its workforce, after saying it hired too many people when delivery demand surged during the pandemic. Chief executive Tony Xu said in a message to employees that DoorDash was undersized before the pandemic and sped up hiring to catch up with its growth. He said: “Most of our investments are paying off, and while we've always been disciplined in how we have managed our business and operational metrics, we were not as rigorous as we should have been in managing our team growth. That's on me. As a result, operating expenses grew quickly.” He added the company is seeking to lower its operating costs, but it was unable to bring spending in line without job cuts. He said: "This hard reality ultimately led me to make this painful decision to reduce our team size.” DoorDash said early this month revenue rose 33% to $1.7bn in the third quarter, but costs also ballooned and it almost tripled its losses from $101m during the same period last year, to $296m in 2022.
London operators double up with Kensal Rise pub: London operators Zac Lichman and Lucien Laviscount, who are behind pan-Asian tapas bar The Shop NW10 in north west London, have opened The Wealthy Beggar pub in Kensal Rise. Lichman, a former boy band member and Big Brother contestant, and actor Laviscount, who stars in Emily in Paris, have partnered once more for the “go-to five star dive bar” at 109 Chamberlayne Road. Offering a creative cocktail menu, seasonally changing food and event programming, its team also includes film director and musician Don Letts. Jack Owen, who has worked in bars from London to New York, has created the cocktails, while chef Gareth Drew, previously of Nobu London and Buddha Bar, is behind dishes such as wagyu tartare with truffle miso, whipped foie gras, yuzu and caviar; and langoustine tartare with parmesan hijiki tuile and sake bisque foam. Split between two floors, the venue features a bar with booths upstairs, while downstairs serves as an event space with a DJ booth.
Ex-Oakman chief investment officer Steve Kenee joins Sapient as director: Former Oakman Inns & Restaurants chief investment officer Steve Kenee has joined Sapient, a corporate finance advisory firm in the UK pubs and brewing sector, as a director. Alongside fellow director Robert Cockcroft, and partners Peter Hansen and Fraser Anderson, he will further strengthen Sapient’s senior-led advisory approach. In three years with Oakman, Kenee helped the business navigate the covid pandemic, raised significant debt and equity and played a key role in facilitating the growth of the business from 24 to 38 sites. He was previously a partner and head of the hospitality and leisure team at investment manager Downing, leading the firm’s private equity investments in the pub and bar sector with deals including Oakman Inns, Antic, Upham, Redcomb and Pub People. Anderson and Hansen said: “Steven has held senior leadership roles as both an investor and operator. The insight gained from these roles, combined with his ability to build strong relationships and structure deals across debt and equity, adds further depth to the firm’s existing expertise and will be of huge value to our clients.” Kenee, who is also currently a non-executive director at wedding venue operator Artemis Venues, added: “Sapient’s deep market knowledge, sector expertise and ability to execute successful mergers and acquisitions transactions are well known. Having been a client, I have first-hand experience of the professionalism and quality that runs throughout the firm, and I am excited to be joining.”
Ole & Steen confirms Greenwich site plans: Danish baker Ole & Steen has confirmed it plans to open a site in London’s Greenwich. As revealed by Propel in September, the 21-strong business, which is working with RAB Retail on its expansion plans, will open at 6 Crescent Arcade, Cutty Sark. The business, which last month appointed Suzanne Peacock, formerly of Hostmore, as its new chief people officer, is gearing up to further add to its regional estate in the UK, with an opening in Guildford’s High Street. It has also been linked with further openings at London Wall, One New Change, Blackheath, and Kingston as well as Marlow and Henley.
PureGym reports like-for-like revenue increase but drop in Ebitda in latest quarter, opens 11 new sites: PureGym, Britain’s biggest health and fitness club operator, has reported revenue of £120m for the three months to 30 September 2022, up 8% from £111m in the same period of 2021. Adjusted Ebitda in in the quarter was £24m, marginally behind the £25m recorded last year due to investment in growth that saw 11 new gyms open during the period, including three new franchise sites in the Middle East. PureGym finished the quarter with about 1.67 million members, up 2% on the end of September 2021. The company had 535 gyms in total across its estate and plans to open 20 more in the fourth quarter of 2022, with £9m allocated for maintenance and refurbishment works across the estate. The company said: “Despite the many near-term challenges, we and our investors remain confident of the long-term prospects of the business.” The group, which is also behind Denmark-based Fitness World and Basefit in Switzerland, announced a £300m investment from private equity firm KKR to support expansion at the end of last year.
New Zealand outdoor leisure company plans UK debut with Swansea scheme including luge runs and sky swing: New Zealand outdoor leisure company Skyline Enterprises is planning a UK debut with a Swansea scheme that will include luge runs and a sky swing. It would also include a chair lift system, walking trails, a zipline, food and drink offerings and a 193m-tall cable car system that would run to the top of Kilvey Hill from the area of the Hafod Morfa Copperworks. Site investigation works are currently underway at Kilvey Hill, paving the way for the submission of a planning application. Swansea Council leader Rob Stewart said: “What’s being proposed by Skyline Enterprises for Kilvey Hill is a world-class leisure attraction for the people of Swansea and visitors to the city. If the scheme gets the go-ahead, it’s expected to attract significant visitor numbers, while also creating jobs and giving our city a further economic boost.” Skyline Enterprises owns and operates two outdoor adventure parks featuring similar attractions and restaurants in New Zealand, as well as luge parks in Canada, South Korea and Singapore, and has another coming soon in Malaysia.
Leeds Asian street food company on track to turn over £1m, plans further outlets: Leeds Asian street food company Little Bao Boy, founded by former investment broker James Ooi in 2018, is on track to turn over £1m this year and plans further outlets. Little Bao Boy, which has three venues in the city, makes and sells 20,000 bao buns to wholesalers and franchisees, and also has three trucks to go to festivals and franchise partners in London and Scotland. Its plan is to increase the number of outlets in Leeds from three to five, and to have about 50 franchisees, all buying supplies from it. The business also plans to expand its core team of eight staff to cope with sales, which have shot up in the last year, with turnover expected to top £1m this year. To help with his plans, Ooi has secured a £25,000 grant from business support programme AD:VENTURE, which is part-funded by the European Development Fund. He said: “The grant was pivotal. It was a crucial part of us being able to do what we do. It would have been a big financial risk for us to take in our early 30s, so it relieved a bit of stress and pressure and allowed us to have more breathing space.” Little Boy Bao, which has provided the food offering at North Brewing Co’s debut off-site taproom since 2018, has also made the move to Birmingham, at the Leeds brewer and retailer new site at One Snowhill in Queensway.
Former MasterChef: The Professionals champion’s Park Lane pop-up becomes permanent: Former MasterChef: The Professionals champion Alex Webb’s pop-up in London’s Mayfair has become permanent. Webb, who won the BBC programme in 2020, launched a restaurant residency at InterContinental London Park Lane in October 2022. Following its successful opening months, Alex Webb on Park Lane will now continue into 2023. Guests can choose from four-course (£75 per person) or seven-course (£110 per person) menus, with current seasonal dishes including chicken stuffed with cranberry, sage and pork stuffing, black pudding and shredded Brussels sprouts; and Christmas pudding with eggnog ice cream, candied orange and redcurrant. The restaurant is also offering special set menus for both Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, and in 2023, it will offer a new selection of dishes focusing on seasonal, British produce. The venue also has a bar serving cocktails, natural wine and cider, with both cider and wine pairings available alongside Webb’s menus (from £25 per person).
New Dawn Pubs opens first acquisition: New Dawn Pubs, the new vehicle launched earlier this year from the founders of Red Mist Leisure, has opened its first acquisition. The company has opened The Gomshall Mill, near Guildford, having acquired it in September and carried out a £1m-plus refurbishment. Formerly operated by The Restaurant Group-owned Brunning & Price, it is the fifth site to join New Dawn Pubs, which has sites in Surrey and Hampshire. Renovation works undertake so far include new bathrooms, bar and furnishings throughout, while the next phase will focus on the exterior and surroundings, including the pub garden and patio. Mark Robson, New Dawn Pubs co-founder, said: “We are thrilled to have opened the doors to our first, newly acquired pub since establishing New Dawn Pubs. The Gomshall Mill is such a fantastic site, and we are looking forward to becoming a key part of the community, creating jobs, supporting the local supply chain and building a reputable and enviable destination pub.”
Burleighs Gin edges closer to administration: Leicestershire-based Burleighs Gin has edged closed to administration after posting a second notice of intention to appoint administrators. The company last month temporarily closed its distillery and posted an initial notice of intention to appoint administrators. The second notice, which comes from funder FSE Group, provides a ten-day moratorium from other creditor action and is designed to give a business the opportunity to find a way to prevent entering administration. The move comes less than two years after Burleighs Gin secured £250,000 from the Midlands Engine Investment Fund, designed to allow the company to further establish its export sales – expanding its presence in Europe and the Far East with further plans to move into the US.