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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Wed 7th Dec 2022 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Andrea – we need visibility on energy support to make pricing decisions, introducing one-off cost-of-living supplement payment: Andrew Andrea, chief executive of Marston’s, has said that the business needs visibility on further support from the government on energy costs before it can make pricing decisions for next year. The group hedged its electricity costs for the first half of next year and has fixed its gas bill until 2025. Andrea said it would be “incredibly helpful” if the UK government clarified its plans for the next phase of the business energy price cap after the end of March. “We are actually getting into a six-monthly cycle on menus, because when you look at what we sell, you don’t really need to change an awful lot,” he told Propel. “I think the next one will be spring, and while the final decisions haven’t been made, we’re still comfortable that we’re sitting at the right level of price that enables us to take more price if we need to. What we’re trying to do is leave that decision as late as possible to ensure that we fully understand the landscape we are going into. We’ve got a high degree of confidence in our food costs, but what we don’t know is the post-March energy cost. I know the government has hospitality on the list as an industry to be to be considered for further support, but we need to have visibility of that to enable us to make those decisions. Clearly it will influence pricing. We’ve taken two price increases in 2022, and customers have been okay. I think the days of a 10% increase are probably not there, but customers understand and know it's not cheap.” The company has also cut its menu size by 35-50% to reduce cost pressures. It is also set to make a one-off cost-of-living supplement payment in January 2023 for its lower paid salaried employees. Andrea said: “These supplements are banded to ensure that those paid the least receive the most.  For example, all salaried team members earning under £30,000 per annum will receive the maximum payment of £750. These are meaningful sums to people at that level of income. Whether we like it or not, as a sector we are in a fight for labour, not just between ourselves but trying to attract labour from other sectors. This industry is all about people.” On the benefit of the World Cup, Andrea added: “What’s been interesting is that food sales have also held up. In a typical World Cup on a big England match day, you would see wet sales increase and food sales get clobbered, but we’ve just not seen that. Part of that might be timing of matches, because a lot of the games are in the evening.” Marston’s ‘pushing the boundaries of how far you stretch franchising’ – see Company News.

Industry News:

Coming in January 2023 for Premium subscribers – the Who’s Who of UK Food & Beverage: Propel is to add a fifth major database to its Premium service in January 2023. The Who’s Who of UK Food & Beverage will be the first time full profiles of the UK’s top 700 food and beverage operators will be available in one place. The companies, listed in alphabetical order, will have their most recent results reported as well as broader information around Ebitda, plans and trading style available. The database has taken 16 months to pull together, merging Companies House information, interviews and other public information to provide an easy to reference and exhaustive guide to the sector. Propel managing director Paul Charity said: “This invaluable guide simply hasn’t existed in the UK before. It’s a reference guide to the 700 largest operators in the UK. It will also be updated every month because, on average, 50 or so companies update each month of the year. So, if you want to find out the most up-to-date information on a company, this is the database you will need on your desk at all times. It is also a wonderful complement to our Blue Book of Turnover and Profitability, which is produced in association with Mapal Group, and is also updated each month and ranks these companies by turnover, profit and profit conversion. Together, they provide the UK’s most detailed and insightful profile of absolute and relative performance.” Premium subscribers also receive access to three other databases: the Propel Multi-Site Database, produced in association with Virgate; the New Openings Database and the UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database. Premium subscribers are also to be given exclusive access to the recording and slides to Propel Multi-Club Conferences. 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.

MJMK founders to speak at Restaurant Marketer & Innovator European Summit 2023, open for bookings: Jake Kasumov and Marco Mendes, founders of MJMK, 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. Kasumov and Mendes will discuss the tactics and strategies they deploy when marketing their brand for the best results. More than 50 industry and agency leaders will take to the stage over two days, representing brands including Cornish Bakery, Hawksmoor, Burger King UK, The Alchemist, Gail’s Bakery, Searcy’s, Press Up Hospitality Group, Vapiano, Popeyes UK, Inception Group, Oakman Group, New World Trading Company, Peggy Porschen Cakes, Krispy Kreme, KellyDeli, Tattu Restaurants, Red Engine, East Coast Concepts, Coco di Mama, The Cocktail Club, Hilton, Elior, Flat Earth Pizzas, Lollipop, Chotto Matte, Ping Pong, Nobu, Gusto Italian, BrewDog, Kaleido, Darjeeling Express 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

Kate Nicholls – sector seeing cancellation rates of up to 40% due to planned rail strikes: UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls has said sector businesses are seeing cancellation rates of up to 40% due to the planned rail strikes. The RMT has announced a fresh series of strikes will take place from Saturday, 24 December through to Tuesday, 27 December. This is in addition to the strikes that were already due to take place on 13 and 14 December and again on 16 and 17 December. More are scheduled for 3, 4, 6 and 7 January. Nicholls told the BBC the cancellations were totalling losses to the effect of the Omicron variant last year. She added: “Nicholls said: “It seems almost guaranteed we will be facing a heavily disrupted Christmas for the third year in a row. Our estimate of the cost of these strikes already stood at £1.5bn in lost sales, and it’s incredibly frustrating a solution has yet to be reached to avoid this disruption during the golden month of trade for our sector.” Night Time Industries Association chief executive Michael Kill said: “Further strike action across the Christmas period will be the death knell for many night-time economy businesses. Our sector will not survive the current cost inflation crisis and further industrial action and will require a government intervention and further support for businesses at the sharpest end of this crisis.” Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, said: “The week of the strikes is usually the busiest of the year for our industry, but instead of being able to trade normally for the first time in three years, pubs in towns and cities across the UK are now seeing swathes of people rearranging Christmas parties and cancelling bookings. Pubs really need this Christmas trade to see them through the quieter months that follow, especially after two years of restrictions, but now it’s becoming increasingly difficult to see how many will make it through until spring because December trade is being decimated.”
UberEats to pay millions for listing Chicago restaurants without consent: Uber has agreed to a $10m (£8.2m) settlement with the City of Chicago for listing local restaurants in the UberEats and Postmates food delivery apps without the restaurants’ consent, as well as for charging excess commission fees. TechCrunch reports more than $5m will go toward paying damages back to Chicago restaurants that were affected, and $1.5m will go to Chicago for the costs incurred during the city’s two-year investigation into the matter. Under the settlement, Uber will pay an additional $2.25m to restaurants that were allegedly charged commissions higher than the fee cap; $500,000 to restaurants that Uber listed on its platforms without consent and that don’t currently contract with Uber; and $2.5m in commission waivers to affected restaurants. More than 2,500 Chicago restaurants are estimated to be eligible to benefit from the Uber settlement, according to the Chicago Tribune. The claims against Uber mirror separate lawsuits from Chicago against Grubhub and DoorDash last summer that alleged similar deceptive business practices. Both cases are ongoing. An Uber spokesperson said: “We are committed to supporting UberEats restaurant partners in Chicago and are pleased to put this matter behind us.”

Job of the day: COREcruitment are working with an independent organisation in the food manufacturing industry that is looking for an operations director. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “The business is growing and looking for an operations director to manage a team, maintain and grow group contracts. They will oversee the cleaning contract for high profile clients and have the responsibility of managing a portfolio worth £30m. The business is looking for someone innovative and who thinks outside of normal working methods to inspire changes. You will have experience in managing senior managers and must be able to coach and mentor managers who are experiencing difficulties. Your responsibilities will also include driving the performance of the business and production of operating strategies for the region.” The salary is up to £95,000 and the position is based in London. For more information, email

Company News:

Marugame Udon to accelerate growth plans after securing further funding from backers: International udon noodles and tempura restaurant brand Marugame Udon has secured further support from its existing backers to accelerate its growth in the UK and Europe, Propel understands. The business, which is a European joint venture backed by Capdesia and Toridoll (the brand owner), opened its first site here near Liverpool Street, in the City of London, last July. It has since opened a further six sites in the capital and Bromley. The company said: “The shareholders have committed further support to fund this accelerated growth.” It is thought the extra funding comes off the back of good trading across the brand’s initial openings in the UK, despite the challenging trading environment. In October, the business unveiled plans to open 150 kitchens across Europe by 2027. The roll out will commence with five new UK kitchens that are set to open by spring 2023, including its first out-of-London site, in Reading. It will also add further sites in London – in Kensington, Liverpool Street and Waterloo stations, and The Strand. The growth to 150 will comprise a mix of company-owned and franchise kitchens as the brand starts to engage with potential partners for multi-unit franchise opportunities. For the period from 3 July 2020 to 2 January 2022, the business reported turnover of £1.4m, which includes six months of trading, and a pre-tax loss of £3.9m, covering its pre-trading start-up phase.

Marston’s ‘pushing the boundaries of how far you stretch franchising’: Andrew Andrea, chief executive of Marston’s, has told Propel the company is “really pushing the boundaries of just how far you stretch franchising” as it gears up to extend the trial of its franchise-style agreement Pillar to underperforming food-led sites. Last year, the business introduced Pillar, which enabled pubs with an independent food offer to receive all the “positive elements of a franchise-style arrangement without compromising their food proposition”. The company now has 64 pubs operating under a Pillar agreement. In addition, it is trialling the franchise model in four food-led pubs that were formerly part of its managed estate, and Andrea said it was the group’s intention to extend this trial further in 2023, including sites in Wales. Andrea said: “Marston’s has been the forerunner of the franchise-style model since its introduction in 2009, and it is clear that the owner/entrepreneur mentality of a turnover pub partner drives sales growth in our pubs. It is a strategic intention to continue to expand franchising. It is a proven model, which is attractive to new licensees and drives sales and earnings growth. Pillar is specific for pub operators wanting to run their own menus. They run their menu, we put that through our tills, and we get a share of food and drink sales, just like a normal franchise. We’ve got a proper critical mass now, so we’re just ensuring that in taking the agreement forward, we’ve got a model that has got longevity. Effectively, it’s our menu, our formats being operated. That for me is really exciting, because when you’ve got outreaches in the estate, where a local operator might be better suited, if you’re prepared to run our commercial format, you can manage the labour locally in the way you see fit. It opens up a whole new raft of sites for us. We’re really pushing the boundaries of just how far you stretch franchising.” The company has a clear journey to reposition the trading formats of its food-led estate over the course of the next four years, and Andrea said it has now concluded the same exercise with its circa 900 managed and franchised wet-led pubs. He added: “The review indicated that circa 90 pubs should be converted to the Signature format over the next four years, and we are planning the first Signature wet-led pubs in 2023.” These sites will have a lower capital requirement and utilise heritage buildings. The company said that the proposed conversion spend will be circa £150,000-200,000, with a minimum target return of 30%, and it expects to convert 20 sites per annum from 2024.
Ex-Leon MD John Upton joins Burgerism as non-executive director, lines up Liverpool opening: Burgerism, the fast-growing smash burger concept from Foodomnia, has appointed John Upton, formerly of Leon and McDonald’s UK, as a non-executive director, Propel has learned. Upton spent more than 13 years at McDonald’s UK, including time as its director of operations and as a senior director. He also spent two years as managing director of Leon. Upton, who also previously chaired the Naked Deli and Mother Clucker businesses, is currently chief executive at London Southend airport. Previously, he led No1 Lounges, the international airport lounge business backed by NVM and Santander, driving change to enable the company to double in size, opening new sites across the world as well as securing new deals with airlines and airports. Burgerism co-founder Mark Murphy said: “We started working with John in the summer and we’re delighted to have him on our team. John has considerable experience of relevant growth businesses and brings a fantastic blend of experience to our business as we accelerate our mission to be the number one delivery burger brand in the UK.” Burgerism, which started trading in 2018, recently launched its fifth site, and first “on street” venue, in Stockport, with growth being driven by cash flow from existing operations, and is set to launch in Liverpool early next year as part of its roadmap toward 12 sites by the end of 2023. The new Liverpool site will open under the company’s concession format and will see it take over the kitchen at Jimmy’s Bar in Bold Street. Murphy said: “Jimmy’s is a well-established venue, set over three floors, and there’s a strong overlap in terms of customer base, so we think it's a great partnership for both brands and a really nice way for us to launch into a new city.” Propel revealed last month that the business is in late-stage discussions on its first licence agreement and understands it is in talks with a well-capitalised operator, which could add three to ten sites over the next three to five years.
Pret expands US presence with Dallas Holdings deal: Pret A Manger is set to expand its presence in the US after signing a partnership with Dallas Holdings to bring a network of stores to Southern California. The agreement, part of a strategic shift to grow Pret’s franchise partnerships and expand to new markets, will also see its first New York addition, in the city’s Hudson Yards neighbourhood. It also builds on the success of a partnership with Pret A Manger UK, where Dallas Holdings operates a growing number of shops. Pret announced last year it would use franchise partnerships to accelerate growth and double the size of the business within the next five years. Pret A Manger North America president Jorrie Bruffett said: “We’ve been seeing steady growth week over week as customers and businesses continue to come back to the office. This shift has aided in our recovery efforts, and even our coffee orders have surpassed pre-pandemic levels. We believe this is the right time to identify new partners to help us enter new markets where we know there is a demand for Pret.” Shane Thakrar, president and chief executive of Dallas Holdings, added: “We are extremely excited about bringing the Pret brand to the Southern California market, while also adding to Pret’s own strong New York network. We feel California is a great new market for Pret, with many strong initial locations across Los Angeles and Orange County planned for our launch.” Pret’s began its North American expansion earlier this year through a pilot launch with A&W Canada, which is developing and operating several Pret pop-ups in Vancouver and Toronto. The first Dallas Holdings-operated shop is expected to open in Hudson Yards in early 2023, followed by openings in California soon after.
ETM Group seeing ‘encouraging’ trading as it reports return to Ebitda profitability: ETM Group, which operates 13 premium bars, pubs and restaurants in central London, has said trading has been encouraging as it reported a return to Ebitda profitability. The company saw turnover increase to £21,609,000 for the year ending 28 February 2022 compared with £6,746,000 the previous year. However, it remained below the £31,588,000 reported for the year ending 28 February 2020 – the last full year before the pandemic. Group adjusted Ebitda increased to £1,287,000 from minus £1,526,000 the previous year. Pre-tax losses narrowed to £1,370,000 from £4,913,000 the year before (2020: loss of £2,313,000). To mitigate the “extreme” trading conditions, the group's shareholders reviewed their property assets and sold The White Swan in Fetter Lane in January, enabling the directors to lend the group on a long-term basis “significant” funds to provide working capital and reduce bank debt. The business received government grants of £747,000 during the period (2021: £4,484,000). No dividend was paid (2021: nil). In his report accompanying the accounts, co-founder Ed Martin said: “During the current financial year, trading has been encouraging and provides optimism for the future of the group. With such a challenging year, we are pleased with the results, and most importantly, are incredibly proud of the team that enabled the group to successfully navigate the pandemic trading period. The business is now exceptionally well positioned for the future.” Last week, ETM 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”.
Gail’s to open debut north west site in early 2023: Fast-growing bakery brand Gail’s will open its debut site in the north west early next year, in the Cheshire town of Wilmslow. The company, which opened its 100th site at the end of October, in East Sheen, said further locations in the region will be announced in the new year. The brand submitted plans in September to fit the former White Stuff unit in Manchester’s King Street to transform it into a café, but the application is still pending a decision. The opening of sites in the region reinforces the company’s long-standing ties to the area following The Bread Factory, Gail’s sister-brand and wholesale bakery, opening its Manchester bakery in Openshaw in 2017. The company has recently opened new sites in London’s Holborn and East Dulwich, with a further opening planned in Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire. Its recent opening in Kensington Arcade has a takeaway focus, and Tom Molnar, co-founder and chief executive of Gail’s, told Propel the business’ variety of formats allows it to take advantage of different property opportunities to support its expansion. “It’s a small space so it doesn’t have any seats – like our South Kensington site,” he added. “We are first and foremost a bakery, so it’s about the kitchen, and then if we have space for seating, we will add it in. We are always experimenting with new formats as it allows us to take advantage of different real estate opportunities that present themselves.”

Greggs opens 30th Outlet shop in bid to help tackle food waste and poverty, on target for 50 by 2025: Food-to-go operator Greggs has opened its 30th Outlet shop, in Newham, east London. Greggs Outlet shops are a company-wide initiative originally set up in 1972 to support socially deprived areas and redistribute unsold food items at a reduced price. The Cundy Road opening is part Greggs’ commitment to open 50 Outlet shops by 2025. A share of the profits from each Outlet shop is donated to The Greggs Foundation, with approximately £370,000 raised for charity through Outlet shops in 2021. In the same year, 880 tonnes of food was passed onto the Outlet shops, and overall, Greggs was able to redistribute 28% of all unsold food, up from 12% in 2018. Roisin Currie, chief executive at Greggs said: “It’s important we do our bit to put an end to food waste and help to tackle poverty, hunger and deprivation across all the communities we operate in. The expansion of our Outlet shop estate is a core part of the Greggs Pledge and a testament to the commitment we make every day in supporting our customers’ health, our communities, and our planet, that we are on track to deliver against our 2025 targets.” More Outlet shops are already in the pipeline as Greggs works towards a target of 38 shops by 2023. They are predominantly situated in the north and Midlands.

Sarap founder launches crowdfund to fund reopening concept in London’s Soho: Ferdinand ‘Budgie’ Montoya, founder of Brixton Filipino restaurant Sarap Baon, is launching a crowdfunding campaign to fund its reopening in a new location. Montoya, who started Sarap as a supper club in 2017, opened Sarap Baon in Brixton Village early in 2020. In November last year, he also took over the former Fallow site at 10 Heddon Street, just off London’s Regent Street, to open sister venue Sarap Filipino Bistro as a temporary residence. The Brixton site then closed “due to the impact of covid” in April, and Montaya now wants to move the concept to a permanent home in Kingly Court, Soho. He will launch the fundraising campaign on Seedrs on Monday, 12 December. He said: “I’m really excited about this next phase of Sarap’s journey, and to be able to keep building on what we’ve achieved so far. I’ve always hoped that Sarap will one day find a permanent home, so I can’t wait to be able to open the doors to Sarap Kingly Court!” The new restaurant, located just off Carnaby Street, will seat 45 diners in the main space, with six bar stools for those looking for a more casual dining experience. The menu will ifeature a selection of dishes “that celebrate the sweet, salty, tangy and sour flavours of Filipino cuisine by combining traditional recipes and flavours with a modern flair”.

Danieli Group outlines plans to bring Stack concept to Middlesbrough: North east operator Danieli Group has outlined plans to bring its Stack container leisure venue concept to Middlesbrough. The company is responsible for Stack Seaburn in Sunderland and recently revealed its planned schemes for Newcastle, Durham, Bishop Auckland, Carlisle and Lincoln. Now it has submitted plans for a site in the arcaded undercroft of the A66 flyover adjacent to Exchange Square in Middlesbrough, creating around 115 jobs. The venue would be constructed using 25 shipping containers, designed around a central plaza with seating, and would be in place for three years. If planning permission is granted, work will commence immediately, with the hope of being open for Easter 2023. The new development follows Danieli Group outlining plans to roll out Stack nationwide. Neill Winch, chief executive of Daniel Group, said: “We have a very strong growth strategy for Stack and have announced a number of new sites in recent months. Given the rapid expansion of the brand, we would also hope to identify a site for a permanent Stack in Middlesbrough in the long term.” In October, Danieli Group announced plans to bring its pan-Asian restaurant concept The Muddler to Middlesbrough as part of its growth plans.

I am Döner opens first UK franchise site, forecasts ‘transformational’ 2023 for business: I am Döner, the award-winning better kebab brand backed by Think Hospitality, has opened its first UK franchise store, in Stanley Road, Bootle, Liverpool. In a deal supported by Seeds Consulting, it has opened in partnership with Optimum Group, the company operating 27 franchise Costa Coffee and Kaspa’s locations in Merseyside. As reported previously, the 1,200 square-foot site seats 40 people as well as operating a takeaway delivery service. I am Doner chairman James Hacon said: “This is an exciting part of our evolution as a brand, being our first dine-in store. We are looking forward to opening further stores in Merseyside in partnership with Optimum Group next year, alongside many other openings planned with partners across the UK and Middle East. Interest from potential franchisees has been phenomenal, especially from experienced multi-brand operators, and we are confident next year will be a transformational year of accelerated growth for our business.” Optimum Group chief executive Dave Connor added: “We just knew from the start that we had to bring this brand to Liverpool. I am Döner offers something that is truly different, and it’s a concept we’ve never seen before in the city, so we’re keen to showcase just what it has to offer.”

Sleeperz pursuing ‘a number of city centre sites’ as it reports return to profit: UK budget hotel operator Sleeperz has said it is pursuing “a number of city centre sites” for new properties as it reported a return to profit. The company currently operates Sleeperz hotels in Cardiff, Dundee and Newcastle along with a Cityroomz site in Edinburgh. Sleeperz stated: “The group is currently pursuing a number of other city centre sites including Manchester, Glasgow and Wolverhampton, with the aim of developing Sleeperz into a leading UK premium budget hotel operator. These opportunities will be primarily by agreeing full repairing and insurance lease terms with hotel developers, or as Sleeperz has done in the past, by funding and building as hotel developers/operators.” Sleeperz provided the update as it reported turnover increased to £5,816,197 for the year ending 28 February 2022 compared with £1,588,131 the year before. However, turnover remained below the £8,413,198 reported for the year ending 28 February 2020 – the last full year before the pandemic. Hotel Ebitda increased to £1,228,000 from minus £674,000 the previous year. The business made a pre-tax profit of £54,321 compared with a loss of £2,651,856 the year before (2020: profit of £169,000). Sleeperz received £281,991 in support through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (2021: £769,229) and £137,135 in council lockdown grants (2021: £145,609). No dividend was paid (2021: nil). The Sleeperz brand is operated and managed on behalf of the owners by Resident Hotels under an agreement that took effect from September 2022.

Young’s applies to develop pub with rooms in Farnham: Young’s has applied for planning to convert a bank in Farnham, Surrey, into a pub with seven bedrooms. The Simon Dodd-led business has submitted a planning application to transform a grade-II listed building in Castle Street in the town, which is currently operating as a branch of Lloyds bank. Under the application, the site would be converted into a restaurant, bar and bedrooms when its lease expires in the spring. Talking to Propel last month, Dodd said while the business has made several off-market individual acquisitions recently – including the Griffin Inn in the East Sussex village of Fletching and the Carpenters Arms in Tonbridge, Kent – it has the firepower to do more substantial deals if the right opportunities arise. “We have an extremely strong balance sheet, so if there’s a ten, 20, 30-stong pub business that we like the look of, then we can do that,” he added.

Welsh boulangerie and coffee house concept Ground Bakery opens take-out site in Glamorgan: Welsh boulangerie and coffee house concept Ground Bakery has opened a take-out site in Cowbridge, Vale of Glamorgan. Launched by Welsh chef Thomas Simmons and his wife Lois, along with investors including Welsh rugby international George North, in June 2021, Ground Bakery is backed by the Development Bank of Wales – with three investments to date totalling £220,000 being used to fund fit-out costs. The business has sites in Penarth and Pontcanna, with a commercial bakery premises in Barry supplying all three coffee houses, and a range of trade customers. Simmons said: “Our vision for Ground is a chain of welcoming artisanal boulangerie and speciality coffee houses located in the very best spots. With the help of the Development Bank, Pontcanna and Penarth have both got off to an excellent start. We’ve got really exciting plans to grow with the potential of also offering baking classes and dine-in facilities.” Simmons also operates his Thomas by Tom Simmons restaurant, which is close to Ground Bakery’s first coffee house in Pontcanna. He also runs a restaurant at One Tower Bridge in London, which is temporarily closed, according to its website.

Luxury serviced apartments group Mansley Leisure acquires York site: Luxury serviced apartments group Mansley Leisure has acquired a site in York. The company has added the former New Look store in Parliament Street to its portfolio. The site will feature 19 self-catering apartments providing 23 bedrooms, including four feature duplex apartments, while ancillary areas and new external spaces will be created for guests. Construction is due to commence in the first quarter of 2023. Mansley Leisure operates properties in Mayfair, Kensington, Cheltenham, Edinburgh (Old and New Town) and Inverness. Sir Richard Rowley, chief executive of Mansley Leisure, said: “York is such a beautiful city with excellent transport links in an outstanding part of the UK and has always been a target for us. This acquisition makes a perfect addition to our existing portfolio.” Christie & Co acted on behalf of the developers, Grantside and North Star Developments.

Stuart Ralston to open third Edinburgh restaurant: Scottish chef and Gordon Ramsay protégé Stuart Ralston will open a third Edinburgh restaurant next year. Ralston, chef patron at Aizle and Noto, in partnership with group operations director Jade Johnston, will open Tipo in March 2023. Named after the Italian flour most commonly used for making pasta, the casual dining restaurant will serve small plates with a focus on fresh pasta and cured and aged charcuterie alongside cocktails and artisanal wines. The 178 square-metre venue will have 50 covers including six bar seats. Joining the venture as head chef is Stuart’s brother, Scott, who was previously executive chef with Compass Group Edinburgh. Ralston said: “Jade and I have been talking about a new restaurant for a long time, and it’s taken us a while to find the perfect location. We want to offer a neighbourhood style restaurant that will focus on simple pastas, dishes to share and vegetables prepared in ways you’d find in Europe alongside artisanal wines.”

Creative Restaurant Group to open wood-fired concept in London’s Mayfair: Creative Restaurant Group, which is behind London restaurants, Michelin-starred Endo at the Rotunda and sushi spot Sumi, is set to open a new site in Mayfair. Humo is billed as a wood fire concept that’s opening in January in the old Wild Honey premises in St George’s Square, reports Hot Dinners. The menu is set to influenced by both Japanese and South American cooking styles, with dishes cooked over charcoal on a custom-built grill or flavoured with smoked wood.

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