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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Mon 5th Dec 2022 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Mission Mars to invest £30m over the next three years, eyes Albert’s Schloss openings in London and Las Vegas: Mission Mars, the Rudy’s Neapolitana Pizza and Albert’s Schloss operator, plans to invest £25m-£30m over the next three years in doubling the size of the business. The Roy Ellis-led business currently operates 15 Rudy’s sites and three Albert’s Schloss venues, including a site in Liverpool’s Bold Street, which opened last week. As part of its three-year plan, it will look to open six to eight Rudy’s sites per annum and one Albert’s Schloss. The BGF-backed company also hopes to double the size of its current circa 1,000-strong workforce over that three-year period. Speaking at the Propel Multi-Club Conference, Ellis said the business had a pre-covid turnover of £25m and Ebitda of £1.7m but was on-track in its current financial year to report turnover of £60m and Ebitda of £7.5m. In terms of target locations for the Bavarian beer hall concept, Ellis said the business was looking at London, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dublin, Belfast, Newcastle, Leeds, Bristol and Las Vegas. Propel understands that the business is currently in talks on a site in London’s West End. Ellis said a recent process looking into what the concept was all about allowed it to really look into which parts of the design it needs to retain going forward. He said: “There are six things we decided on. Firstly, lots of reclaimed and authentic bits of kit. We needed a giant bar that really makes it stand out. We need open fires. We need high ceilings. We need 12,000 to 20,000 square feet and we need a big stage. The research we did also told us in terms of product, we need to be ‘more Schloss’. We need to do food and drink that was more Bavarian, more alpine, more bohemian. Another key aspect was entertainment. When we opened in Manchester, we spent £8,000 a week on entertainment. We went into covid spending £16,000 and we’ve come out covid spending more like £22,000.” In terms of an exit from the business for BGF and for himself and co-founder Neil Macleod, Ellis said: “BGF, which invested in us in 2018, are very patient investors. But they’re a venture capital firm at the end of the day, and they like timeframes of around six years. We lost two years through covid, so somewhere between 2025 and 2027, they’re probably looking to exit our business. We’re definitely there for the next three years because we’ve got our plan. We would both love to get a site opened in London and we both want to open in Vegas, so, I’d say we’re definitely here for the next three or four years.”
 

Industry News:

Krispy Kreme to speak at Restaurant Marketer & Innovator European Summit 2023, open for bookings: Matthew Steggles, retail marketing lead at Krispy Kreme UK and Ireland, 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. Steggles will discuss the importance of communication and culture at Krispy Kreme. 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, Vapiano, 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, Kaleido 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 jo.charity@propelinfo.com.

NPD to share insights to help operators navigate tightening foodservice market: NPD Group is to host a pre-recorded webinar to help operators navigate the tightening foodservice market. Peter Linden, senior manager, and Gareth Nash, solution lead, will give an analysis of the foodservive market in the UK and how it performs in these difficult times. They will deep-dive into consumer trends, pricing and loyalty dynamics, and give a glimpse of what to expect in 2023. The video of the webinar will be sent today (Monday, 5 December) at 9am.

Ministers urge RMT union to halt rail strikes over Christmas and new year: Ministers have called on Britain’s biggest rail union to be “altruistic” and suspend strike action over Christmas and new year amid warnings that it will cost the economy more than £1.7bn. The RMT union is planning eight days of strikes before Christmas and after the new year, which will lead to widespread disruption on what are traditionally some of the busiest days for pubs, restaurants and shops. Internal government estimates suggest the rail industry alone will lose up to £260m because of the strikes, while the hospitality industry has already warned industrial action will cost it £1.5bn in lost sales. The Times reported Huw Merriman, the rail minister, said the strikes could “break” businesses that have already endured two years of disastrous festive periods because of the coronavirus pandemic. He urged the RMT to show the “spirit of compromise” and reach a deal so businesses can recover “after the terrible time they have had”. A government source said: “This significant disruption to the public is not inevitable. With pubs, bars and restaurants warning it could lose them billions, we want to avoid a triple whammy on businesses and families after two Christmases of covid upheaval.” Meanwhile, rail union TSSA has served notice for strikes at a further six train operating companies and Network Rail. Nine companies will now be affected by strike action by the union on Saturday, 17 December: Network Rail, CrossCountry, East Midlands Railway, Southeastern, South Western Railway, TransPennine Express, West Midlands Trains, Avanti West Coast and c2c. Avanti West Coast will also be affected by strikes on December 13, 14 and 16. The union said further industrial action over the Christmas and new year period was being “actively considered”.

Energy costs set to sink UK pubs and brewers without extension of bill relief scheme: Pubs and breweries will face major financial losses and many will be forced to close if the energy bill relief scheme is not extended for them beyond 31 March 2023, new research has shown. In a new report by Frontier Economics, produced for the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), calculations showed energy bills returning to their regular rate post-March would put pubs and brewers at a loss of 20% on average. The report also lays out different routes for government intervention, ranging from extending the energy support package to reform of the business rates system. Tim Black, associate director in Frontier Economics’ retail and consumer team said: “Our analysis shows the pub and brewery sector is facing a combination of surging costs and falling demand as consumers reduce their spending in the face of severe cost of living pressures. While there are different impacts across businesses and uncertainty on the outlook, the underlying economics of the sector makes absorbing these shocks incredibly difficult – and some firms will struggle to survive.” Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the BBPA, said: “A long-term guarantee that energy costs and contracts will be fair and reasonable come the spring cannot come soon enough for our pubs and brewers. We are urging the government to seriously consider the impact rocketing energy costs will have not just on the businesses that have to pay them, but the communities they are embedded in and serve across the entirety of the UK.” Individual pubs and breweries have also reported cases of poor practice and profiteering by energy suppliers in recent months. Gemma Gardener who runs The York Hotel, a pub with rooms in Morecambe, said: “Not only have our energy bills become extortionate, but our supplier has added on extra unexpected charges outside of our standard rates, from a £2,000 installation fee to doubling our daily hire charge unexpectedly. Not knowing what we’ll be charged month on month is incredibly scary – this isn’t only our business, but our home as well, but we’re at the mercy of our energy suppliers.”

Amount restaurant owners lend to their own businesses increases 12% year-on-year, to £424m: The amount that restaurant business owners have lent to their own businesses has increased 12% in the past year, from £377m to more than £424m, according to new research. The findings by audit, tax and advisory firm Mazars show rising costs and falling restaurant sales has meant more restaurant owners are having to inject extra money into their businesses to keep them afloat. Soaring energy prices and higher food costs have combined with a fall in consumer spending to put more small restaurant businesses in the red, hurting restaurant groups in particular. Despite falling sales, many restaurant owners have had to increase staff pay because of a post-Brexit shortage of staff. Mazars said struggling restaurant owners are increasingly having to lend their own money to their businesses due to difficulties finding funding elsewhere. Its findings showed some restaurant owners have turned to re-mortgaging their own homes to raise funds to lend to their restaurants. Others have needed to cash in on their investments in order to find the funds to keep their businesses going. Insolvency Service statistics show there were 435 restaurant insolvencies in the last quarter, a 15% increase on 395 in the previous three months.

British Gas requests to shut down dozens of companies over unpaid bills: British Gas has applied to shut down dozens of its business customers this year over unpaid bills. The supplier, which is owned by Centrica, has issued 37 winding-up petitions so far this year, 13 of which have led to the business being wound-up, according to analysis of court records by The Telegraph. Rival E.ON is recorded as having issued 21 petitions over the same period, seven of which have led to the customer being liquidated. The pair are two of the largest business suppliers in the market, with British Gas the largest among small to medium-sized companies. It marks a more aggressive approach to debt collection after the pandemic. The government introduced restrictions on winding-up petitions during the pandemic to help businesses struggling to pay off debts during various lockdowns, while some companies put in place their own moratoriums. The lifting of restrictions this year has coincided with a surge in wholesale energy prices, pushing many businesses into difficulty and forcing the government to step in with support. In one case, a company that provided management services to bars suffered a slump in revenue after the venues were handed back to landlords amid restrictions on capacity due to the pandemic. Other cases involve a pub company and social club. All were small businesses. Both British Gas and E.ON insist their debt collection practices are fair and winding-up petitions are rarely used.

Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a small but established pub and bar operator looking for a head of operations. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “The business is looking for a dynamic, established head of operations who is genuinely people focused, with a keen eye for quality service. It is looking for someone who is already a head of operations (or similar seniority level), managing several area managers with ideally a remit of 50 to 100 pubs. They must have worked in branded restaurants, but some experience in a small group with quality food knowledge would be ideal.” The salary is up to £70,000 and the position is based in London. For more information, email stuart@corecruitment.com
 

Company News:

Costa Coffee in process of reviewing structure of UK business: Costa Coffee, the Coca-Cola Company-owned chain, is currently reviewing its structure in the UK, which has led to a number of departures from its head office team, Propel has learned. A spokesperson told Propel: “We are in the process of reviewing our structure and making some changes, it is ongoing currently.” Propel understands as part of that process, Kirsty Elston, the brand’s UK marketing director, and Rob King, its business transformation lead, have both left the business. Elston spent 15 years at Costa, including three as global marketing director for Costa Express, and the past two as UK marketing director for Costa Coffee. King leaves the business after more than ten years, including stints as finance director Europe and commercial director. Coca-Cola acquired the circa 4,000-strong Costa from Whitbread in a near-£4bn deal in 2018. Earlier this year, it was believed that the business explored converting circa 300 equity sites out of its circa 2,150-strong UK store estate to a franchise agreement, which if successful, could have seen up to half of its UK estate make a similar move. It is thought that due to trading continuing to be impacted post-pandemic, the process never took off, although some parcels of equity sites were picked up by existing Costa franchisees including Scoffs Group, the largest Costa Coffee franchisee in the UK, which earlier this year added 19 equity sites based in Cornwall to its now circa 110-strong portfolio.

Five Guys builds 2023 openings pipeline: Better burger brand Five Guys has strengthened its 2023 openings pipeline with the addition of three new sites. The brand will today (Monday, 5 December) open its last site for this year, at The Fort Shopping Park in Birmingham. It will be its 158th site in the UK and means the business will have added another circa 15 sites to its estate here over the past 12 months. The brand has already put in place four new sites for early next year. It recently secured the ex-Bill’s site in Bracknell to add to its 2023 pipeline. The company, which opened its first UK store in Covent Garden in 2013, is set to add to its central London estate with an opening on the ex-Kam Tong restaurant site on Queensway. It is also understood to have lined up openings in the Bridgend Designer Outlet and on the former Pancake and Waffle Shack unit on the Fiveways roundabout at Barton Mills – with the latter set to be the brand’s first opening in Suffolk. Last year, Five Guys chief executive John Eckbert told Propel the business has “a clear shot to 250 to 300 stores” in the UK.

Topgolf to open flagship Glasgow venue this month, sees significant further UK growth as global expansion accelerates: Topgolf, the golf entertainment brand, will open the doors to its flagship venue in Glasgow on 16 December and sees “an opportunity to significantly increase our presence in the UK”, Propel has learned. Topgolf, which currently has more than 80 venues in seven countries worldwide, announced in February that it would be opening a fourth UK site in the Scottish city, adding to its venues in Watford, Surrey and Chigwell. It will be the company’s biggest UK venue yet, with 72 hitting bays over three floors plus numerous bars, dining areas and event spaces. “We’re beyond excited to open our fourth UK venue, and even more excited to be opening in Scotland,” Steve Lane, vice president of Topgolf International, told Propel. “These venues are exciting to build and open, and Glasgow has been custom built from the ground up as a state-of-the-art venue for players to come and play. Beyond Glasgow, we’re always actively looking for new sites, and there’s opportunity to significantly increase our presence in the UK. There are numerous factors we must take into account when exploring new locations, including at least 11 acres of land, and that land requires good visibility, but our development process helps us identify excellent sites for the best footprint. We’ve just opened a full-scale venue in Bangkok, our first in Asia, and we’re currently building our first in China, which is a huge market for the brand.” In addition to UK growth, Topgolf is focusing on helping its existing franchisees build the brand Internationally. “Collectively, with our partners, we are committed to opening a number of venues around the globe that will drive our overall mission to enable players globally to hit 50 billion golf balls between 2022 and 2025,” Lane added. “Topgolf’s technology and size are unrivalled but complex, so our priority is supporting and educating our partners to open venues, open successfully and sustain growth.”

Itsu launches new well-being package: Itsu, the healthy Asian food chain, has launched a new wellbeing package which it said will support its staff during big life transitions. The new policy, which the business described as “marketing leading”, entitles all of the brand’s team leaders and managers up to six-months parental leave, and all staff to paid time off for the menopause and gender reassignment procedures. The business said that to ease financial pressure, the package will also provide team members with paid sick leave and access to an online GP, alongside life assurance and accident cover. Commuting and home deposit costs will also be supported for those wanting to move home. Harry Housen, chief people officer at Itsu, said: “We strive to offer our people a fulfilling career, so it’s essential we support our teams through their big life transitions at a time when the cost-of-living crisis is affecting many people. Through listening to our teams, we have created a wellbeing support package designed to meet the needs of our people in a modern business environment.” At the same time, the company said its people partners have been trained to coach general managers on how best to offer support to expecting mothers. The business said new parents are also able to flex their return to work, to help ease the transition back to working life while looking after their new baby. In September, Itsu announced a new pay package which saw salaries increase by up to 22.6% in the 12 months to September 2022. The business has opened 13 new stores this year, creating more than 200 jobs. 

GSG partners with Secret Diners Club founder for new Liverpool venue: GSG Hospitality has partnered with chef Daniel Heffy, co-founder of the Secret Diners Club, for a new luxury dining venue in Liverpool. The joint venture, Nord, will open on the ground floor of the city’s 18-storey The Plaza building in February 2023. Focusing on ingredients from regional producers and a menu that celebrates northern heritage, it will feature a centrepiece bar surrounded by banquette seating. Having founded Secret Diners Club with Michael Harrison in 2013, Heffy was also head chef at Liverpool neighbourhood bar Buyers Club and was part of the team behind street food concept Cahita, at the city’s Duke Street Market. He then spent some time in Sweden, working at the three Michelin-starred Frantzén and Michelin-starred Adam/Albin. Heffy said: “I’m incredibly excited to be partnering with GSG Hospitality on what is set to be an incredible new dining concept for Liverpool. For me, Nord is a destination restaurant looking to bring a new high quality food experience, focusing on mainly British ingredients and style but also taking influences from my experience in Stockholm.” Matt Farrell, co-founder and executive director of GSG Hospitality, added: “We are beyond thrilled to be working with Daniel on the return to his hometown. He’s bringing back a wealth of experience from working in one of the highest rated, iconic Michelin star restaurants in the world, which is a huge win for the city.” In July, GSG closed its original Santa Chupitos brand and replaced it with speakeasy cocktail bar Manolo. At the time, Farrell told Propel that in terms of expansion, GSG would focus on its hot drinks concept, Bold Street Coffee. The group also operates the Slims, Salt Dog Slims, 81, El Bandito, Duke Street Market and Peppercat Sports concepts in the north west.

Inn Collection Group looks to Welsh expansion, trade ‘significantly’ up on pre-covid levels: The Inn Collection Group is looking to expand its footprint in Wales as part of its growth plans in 2023. Having entered the Welsh market last year with the purchase of the Swallow Falls Hotel in Snowdonia, three of the group’s 34 sites are now in the country. By the end of 2022, it will have grown its employee base from about 600 to 1,000, and over the next 12 months, plans to double that number to 2,000, managing director Sean Donkin told Insider Media. Donkin said 2022 has been a “relatively successful year” against a backdrop of economic uncertainty, with trade “significantly” up on the pre-covid period of 2019. He said the group plans to relocate its 60-strong head office to Quorum Park, Newcastle, in June, and has invested £53m in ongoing work to its current portfolio, with a further £2m also earmarked for refurbishments. While the business focuses on its current estate, Donkin did not rule out further acquisitions, saying: “If something was to come along that was a suitable quality for the right price, we would never say no.” Moving into the new year, Donkin said the business will be “sitting quite tightly” and “focusing on the things we can control, which are people development and quality of product”. He added: “As things get tight for the customer, we have to deliver on value for money.”

Vue eyes acquisitions ahead of possible float: Cinema operator Vue is ready to swoop on a rival in a “huge consolidation play” ahead of a possible stock market flotation. Tim Richards, who founded Vue International in 1999, told The Times that Vue was ready to take advantage of any opportunities that presented themselves as speculation mounts Cineworld could be broken up. Vue, which is Britain’s third biggest cinema company behind Odeon and Cineworld, has 91 venues across the UK and Ireland with 870 screens. Overall, it has 227 sites in nine countries with 10,000 employees. Just a few months ago, the business went through a £1bn restructuring that wiped out both its Canadian backers and management’s 26% equity stake. Omers and Alberta Investment Management Corporation ceded control of the company to its lenders under a debt-for-equity swap that converted £465m of debt into equity and gave the company an additional £75m of liquidity to recapitalise it. At the time the biggest lenders, according to data from Bloomberg, were Barings, Invesco, Dryden Leveraged Loan CDO and Carlyle. Richards acknowledged the lenders would not be long-term holders of the equity, although when asked if he would need to find fresh shareholders to back his ambitions, he replied: “No, we can participate.” On the prospect of a stock market listing for Vue, he said: “I think because of our size and scale, our next exit would likely be a flotation. And that would probably be in a couple of years.”

Pizza Triangle secures Nottingham site for fifth outlet: Midlands pizza operator Pizza Triangle has secured its fifth site. The company is opening the outlet at the £30m Teal Park development in Nottingham and is due to start welcoming customers in the new year. Pizza Triangle was founded in 2018 and currently operates restaurants in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Solihull, Walsall and Hackney. Teal Park was developed by Warwickshire-based AC Lloyd Commercial and Nottingham-based Henry Davidson Developments. Birds Bakery and the Valley CiDS charity recently opened premises at the Netherfield site, which has now been fully let.

England cricket star Stuart Broad opens first pub following Peach Pubs founder investment: England fast bowler Stuart Broad has opened his first pub since taking investment from Peach Pubs founder Lee Cash. Propel revealed in October that Cash had acquired a stake in The Cat & Wickets Pub Company, founded by Broad in partnership with fellow cricketer Harry Gurney. It has now moved quickly to acquire The Griffin Inn in Swithland, Leicestershire, which it will operate alongside its flagship venue, The Tap & Run in Upper Broughton, following a £50,000 refurbishment. The company also had The Three Crowns in Wymeswold in its portfolio but decided not to renew the lease on the venue when it expired in May 2021. “When Everards called to say The Griffin was about to become available, it was an opportunity we jumped at,” said Gurney. “As a Loughborough lad, I know the reputation this pub has, and I’m thrilled and honoured to take the baton from John and Jay (Cooledge, previous owners) after 20 years.” The group intends to recreate the premium gastro pub menu and drinks list from The Tap & Run, as well as Friday night live music. Cash added: “I have viewed hundreds of pubs in the last 20 years and not many got me as excited as the Griffin does.” Propel revealed at the time of Cash’s investment that the group’s vision is to have “five quality gastropubs in the Midlands, based on our successful model at The Tap & Run”. The Tap & Run is currently being rebuilt following a fire earlier this year and is due to reopen in the spring of 2023.

Virtual Hero to launch second permanent Sides site with Gravity partnership, more outlets to follow: Virtual Hero – which is owned by Hero Brands, the company behind German Doner Kebab, Choppaluna and Island Poké – is set to open a second physical site for its virtual fried chicken concept, Sides. Developed in collaboration with YouTube collective The Sidemen, the venue will open at Gravity Southside in Wandsworth on Wednesday (7 December) while further outlets are set to follow. Sides already has a number of delivery sites across the UK – including London, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds and Southampton – and earlier this year launched its first physical location, at Boxpark Wembley. Sides marketing director, Adam Maddock, said: “Gravity is a fantastic entertainment venue with a similar audience to that of Sides, and we can't wait to join forces and be a part of the team. With plans to launch several sites over the next 12 months, this is just the start of an epic era for us.” Harvey Jenkinson, co-founder and chief executive at Gravity, added: “Our partnership with Sides and the wider Reef family will allow Gravity Wandsworth to deliver not only three storeys of amusement and excitement, but an incredible food offering too.” Gravity will be announcing a series of new Reef food partners over 2023.

Newcastle bagel shop set to reopen after being bought out by local bakery: Newcastle bagel shop Dot Bagel is set to reopen after being bought out by local bakery Kennedy & Rhind. The takeaway, which first launched on Chillingham Road, Heaton, in 2020, has been closed since the company behind it was liquidated in October. Now the team behind Jesmond’s Kennedy & Rhind bakery and café, which runs a Holly Avenue West shop, plan to have the site up and running again this month. Companies House documents show Dot Bagel, which also had a Jesmond site, collapsed with liabilities of £368,775. Stuart Young, owner of Kennedy & Rhind, told Chronicle Live: “We will be offering a range of bagels as Dot Bagel did in the past, but customers will also now be able to enjoy the range of baked goods that we offer at Kennedy & Rhind and at the various pop-ups we run. We are delighted to not only have taken over the brand, but also to have been able to give most of the old team their jobs back. We have initially created around 12 jobs, and hopefully that number will continue to grow. We believe the new look Dot Bagel, with its expanded product range, will be really popular, and we are looking forward to unveiling the full menu in the very near future.”

Hospitality consultant behind south west venues Bandook and The Mint Room to launch new London casual-dining concept: Hospitality consultant Humayun Hussain, whose past projects include award-winning Indian restaurants Bandook in Bath and The Mint Room in Bristol, is behind the concept for a new venue opening in south east London. Casual dining Indian restaurant Kachori has signed for a 2,850 square-foot site in Ash Avenue, within Elephant Park, opening in early 2023. The 150-cover venue, with indoor and outdoor seating, will be headed up by experienced restaurateur Sorowar Khan, with dishes including the brand’s signature namesake kachori, a contemporary take on the Indian street food favourite of deep-fried bread stuffed with moong dal. Also on offer will be breakfast items, Sunday brunch, cocktails, craft beers, wines and spirits. Khan said: “Elephant Park is an exciting new development in a diverse area of London, and we are very much looking forward to introducing visitors to our fresh and innovative take on Indian dining.”

New coffee shop-cocktail bar concept opens in Liverpool: A speciality coffee shop that becomes a cocktail bar by night has opened in the former William Hill bookmakers on Liverpool’s Castle Street. Co.Co serves coffees from 10am alongside fresh pastries from local independent bakers, before offering classic cocktails, spirits, wines and beers in the evening. Sam Preston, bar manager, said: “At Co.Co, we aim to provide a relaxed environment where guests can enjoy a cup of coffee in beautiful surroundings. By day, guests can work from Co.Co with a coffee and pastry to hand, and by night, the venue will transition so couples, friends and colleagues can take to the bar for an expertly created cocktail in sophisticated surroundings.”

Burger & Sauce opens in Derby: Multi-unit franchisee Subhan Munir has opened his third site with burger franchise concept Burger & Sauce. The new outlet has opened at Derby’s Derbion destination, for Burger & Sauce’s seventh site overall, with three more “coming soon”. Its opening, which created 15 new jobs, is part of a £2m upgrade of the shopping centre’s food hall. Munir, who also runs the Alum Rock, Birmingham, and Nottingham Burger & Sauce venues, said: “It’s been an incredible year. There are certainly challenges with increased costs which all businesses are facing right now, but we’ve worked hard to continue to offer great value to our customers without any compromise on the quality food we offer. All our outlets have exceeded trading expectations, and we are now proud to partner with Derbion to help create that ultimate shopping experience for visitors.”

Former Ginger Pig and Coal Shed head chef opens first solo restaurant, in Brighton: Former Ginger Pig and Coal Shed head chef Dave Mothersill has opened his first solo restaurant venture. The 37-cover Furma, located in Brighton’s New Road, features a regularly changing menu highlighting the season’s best produce, and places an emphasis on whole animal cookery, dry aged meat and a combination of classic and modern techniques. Dishes on a multi-course tasting menu include baked potato parker house rolls with roasted yeast butter and fermented honey; and barbecue oysters with bonito butter, walnut and caviar. A wine pairing designed to accompany the tasting menu features a wide-ranging selection from the UK, Japan, Lebanon, Italy and more, while cocktails make use of waste products from the kitchen.

More than £18m owed by Southport four-star hotel as it collapsed into administration: More than £18m was owed to creditors when a four-star hotel in Southport entered administration, new documents have revealed. Bliss Hotel remains open and none of the 90 members of staff have been made redundant while a new buyer is being sought. Prospective owners have until Friday (9 December) to submit a bid. Parent company Waterfront Southport Properties, along with subsidiary Waterfront Hotels (Southport), appointed Paul Davies and Sandra Mundy, of James Cowper Kreston, to manage the administration process in October. The 131-bedroom hotel, which is located on Southport’s waterfront, was put on the market at the end of September. According to a statement of administrators proposal, Waterfront Southport Properties owed £18.2m to its creditors when it entered administration. More than £16.2m of that was due to ICG-Longbow Senior Secured UK Property Debt Investments – the charge holder that forced the two businesses into administration. The charge holder was the primary source of funding for the two businesses. However, the charge holder said the businesses had not fulfilled its interest payment obligations, not complied with property reporting obligations and net operating income and loan to value obligations. The joint administrators said: “We consider there will be a significant shortfall to the secured lender under its fixed charge, albeit the charge holder is likely to recover some of its indebtedness in the associated company that is also subject to administration.” The joint administrators also warned unsecured creditors “cannot expect a distribution from this estate”.

Former Great British menu contestant finds permanent home for 80s and 90s-inspired pop-up: Former Great British menu contestant Robbie Lorraine has found a permanent home for his 80s and 90s-inspired pop-up, Only Food and Courses. Lorraine, who has worked at high-profile restaurants, venues and events ranging from Roux Fine Dining and The Shard to Royal Ascot and Chelsea FC, opened the retro-inspired restaurant at Pop Brixton in 2020. He has now taken over the food offering at The Cheshire Cheese at 5 Little Essex Street in London’s Temple, which was recently acquired by the Blighty Pub Company. Lorraine will be serving up pub snacks and small plates, reports Hot Dinners, while upstairs, the chef will run his supper club, serving a six-course menu that will change monthly. In September, Lorraine was appointed to lead the menu at Boys House in Kent, the new restaurant from former East London Pub Co operations director Bradley Lomas and Drink Shop & Do founder Kristie Lomas.

Tim Hortons to open Penrith and Burnley sites: Canadian quick service restaurant brand Tim Hortons will open a site in Penrith, Cumbria, this month. SK Group, which is leading the rollout of the brand in the UK, is launching the restaurant in the former KFC drive-thru unit in Bridge Lane on Thursday, 15 December, creating up to 50 jobs. The KFC branch closed in May after the lease on the building ran out and was not renewed. Kevin Hydes, chief commercial officer of Tim Hortons franchise in the UK, told the Cumbria Crack: “We have a huge fan base in the north of England, so we are excited to bring Tim Hortons to Penrith for the first time.” Tim Hortons opened its 50th UK drive-thru this week, in Watford, and has added to that with an opening in Burnley – the brand’s debut site in Lancashire – at the Anchor Retail Park. SK Group also revealed last week it plans to add to its 65-strong Tim Hortons estate with a further 40 restaurants by the end of 2023.

London’s The Strand set for new Japanese-Peruvian restaurant: A new Japanese-Peruvian Nikkei cuisine restaurant is set to open in London’s The Strand. Contigo will open in the spring at 1-3 Grand Building, the former home of Strand Dining Rooms and Blue Garden. The 200-cover restaurant will feature a dining room with an open kitchen called Osaka and a seven-seater sushi counter and main bar called Lima, reports Hot Dinners. Drinks will include Central and South American spirits alongside signature and classic cocktails. Founder Keith Dube said: “My vision for Contigo is to be an unexpected discovery in the heart of London. A place to meet, eat and celebrate life that’s completely inclusive.”

Shropshire operator steps in to save trio of Shrewsbury venues from closure: Shropshire operator The Shire Collection has stepped in to save a trio of venues in Shrewsbury from closure. The future of The Peach Tree restaurant in Abbey Foregate, which opened in 1997, looked uncertain after its owners announced the restaurant was closing. However, the venue, along with neighbouring Havana Republic cocktail bar and Spirit Venue, are now being operated by The Shire Collection, which is owned by Michael Halford. He told the Shropshire Star: “The Peach Tree and Havana Republic, and C:21 as Spirit Venue was previously called, are all iconic and much-loved venues that have been trailblazers throughout the last couple of decades, and I look forward to taking all the venues to the next stage. It’s exciting times ahead.” The Shire Collection operates Shropshire venues including The Buttercross in Market Drayton, and the recently opened The Boujee Lounge in Shrewsbury.

London wine bar and restaurant concept expands into coffee for fourth site: London wine bar concept Sager + Wilde has expanded into a coffee offering for its fourth site. The company launched its debut site in Hackney Road a decade ago, which was followed by a second wine bar, Fare in Old Street, and the Paradise Row restaurant in Bethnal Green. It has now opened Equal Parts, located at 245 Hackney Road, just up the road from its original site, reports Hot Dinners. As well as “next level rare and fancy wine”, it offers Assembly Roast coffee, and plans to branch out into an Amaro and Aperitivo bar in the new year. “Ever since opening Sager + Wilde in Hackney Road, I was dreaming of one day having the opportunity to open up shop down the road,” said co-founder Michael Sagar, who has also worked at Milk and Honey, Quo Vadis and Happiness Forgets. “Ten years later, the day is finally here.”

Admiral Taverns sells Brighton pub to London investor: Admiral Taverns, the Proprium-backed pub business, has sold the former Royal Standard pub in Brighton to an unnamed London investor. The pub sits on the ground floor of a five-story building in Queens Road, with the first-floor home to a one-bedroom managers’ flat. The flats on the upper floors have been sold off separately on long-term leases. The new owner is looking to reopen the pub once refurbishment works are completed. Flude director, Will Thomas, who handled the sale, said: “While there is increased uncertainty relating to the market and specifically the leisure sector, Brighton still seems to be a popular destination for operators to be.”

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