Story of the Day:
Döner Shack aiming for up to 20 openings in 2023, taking first steps into European and US markets:
Döner Shack, the Berlin fast casual kebab concept, has told Propel it is aiming for up to 20 UK openings in 2023 and is taking its first steps into the European and US markets. Founded in 2018 by Sanjeev Sanghera and Laura Bruce, who also own Döner Haus in Glasgow, Döner Shack currently has four UK venues and is gearing up to open its fifth, a flagship store in London’s Baker Street, in late January. “Next year, with the recent increase of franchise partners, we’re aiming to have a minimum of 15 stores for everyone to reach their targets, with an upper level of 20,” Sanghera told Propel. “I am confident we will reach this target, and that doesn’t include any company stores that we are also considering. We are now looking to expand into Ireland and are currently in negotiations for multiple stores in Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland and the north east and north west of England. We will be taking our first steps into the European market with Ireland, and this will hopefully be followed shortly afterwards by Spain, northern Europe and Scandinavia, where we have received enquiries. It’s an exciting time for Döner Shack, particularly as we are also planning to accelerate our growth into the US. This is the core market of where we want to be internationally, so we need to have a clever strategy about how we enter the US market as it is unfamiliar with our product offering. We know we will have to make some small changes and adapt our menu accordingly. We’re also looking to attend a multi-unit franchise convention in Las Vegas in February, and this is when we could potentially launch our first proposal.” Closer to home, the brand’s 2023 pipeline will include an additional four or five new openings in London, as well as a focus on the West Midlands, having recently brought on board Starbucks franchisee Bobby Sidhu. “The Midlands is our next key area and our new franchise partner will be looking to open his first few stores,” Sanghera added. “The east of Scotland is another target location for us and builds on our recently launched Glasgow store.” Döner Shack features in the Propel UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database, which is an exhaustive guide to the companies offering a food and beverage franchise in the UK and is available exclusively to Premium subscribers. The latest edition features 170 companies and almost 80,000 words of content, providing insight on the offer, locations, cost and other key details. The database is updated every two months. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org to upgrade your subscription.
Flat Earth Pizzas co-founder to speak at Restaurant Marketer & Innovator European Summit 2023, open for bookings:
Sarah Brading, co-founder of Flat Earth Pizzas, 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. Brading will talk about how she transferred her experience of working at restaurant groups into the start-up world, developing a concept that has been recognised as one of London’s top eco-eateries. More than 50 industry and agency leaders will take to the stage over two days representing brands including Cornish Bakery, Burger King UK, Gail’s Bakery, The Alchemist, Hawksmoor, 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, MJMK, Lollipop, Chotto Matte, Ping Pong, Nobu, Gusto Italian, BrewDog, Kaleido, Darjeeling Express
and Six by Nico
. For the full speaker schedule for day one click here
and for day two click here
. 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 email@example.com
More than two in five small hospitality businesses plan to close, downsize or restructure if energy relief comes to a sharp end in April: More than two in five (42%) small hospitality businesses have said they plan to close, downsize or restructure if energy relief comes to a sharp end in April, according to new research. The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), which conducted the survey, is warning discontinuing government energy support would force tens of thousands of small firms to close or downsize. This comes ahead of the publication of the Energy Bill Relief Scheme review, which is due imminently – when the government will decide whether current energy support for small firms will continue after the six-month coverage ends. A third (30%) of small firms expect to cancel or scale down planned investment if the government ends support on energy, while more than four in ten (44%) are considering raising prices to cope with soaring bills. The FSB has proposed through the government’s review there should be significant support for small businesses for at least the next six-month period, based on a fixed wholesale price. There should, however, be further controls added on energy suppliers to prevent them cutting vulnerable small businesses off who fall into arrears, hiking their standing charges and enabling them to offer Time To Pay in the same manner as HM Revenue & Customs with tax debts. Continuing to apply support directly to bills, as in the current scheme, will ensure there is no deadweight cost and will minimise the chances of small businesses who should be entitled to support missing out, the FSB said. National chair Martin McTague added: “More than 16 million jobs are in small firms. Our members are telling us their businesses as well as their staff are dependent on government support in this energy price crisis.”
Scottish sector leaders call for support for ‘desperate’ businesses in tomorrow’s Budget: Scottish sector leaders have come together to call for support for “desperate” businesses in tomorrow’s (Thursday, 15 December) Budget. The Scottish Beer & Pub Association, Scottish Licensed Trade Association and UKHospitality Scotland are jointly calling on deputy first minister and acting finance secretary, John Swinney, to help hospitality businesses survive the winter with major business rates relief when he delivers the 2023-24 Budget at Holyrood. In a joint statement, the three associations said: “The hospitality industry is vital to the economy of Scotland, to local high streets and communities, but the current economic downturn and a range of other unprecedented challenges will see many unfortunately fail without meaningful intervention on business rates. Not only must the cabinet secretary commit to matching a freeze on the uniform business rates in Scotland, but he must also match the support for the sector in England and Wales, where a 75% rates relief package will be in place. The sector desperately needs this to survive, to continue to provide employment for staff and remain competitive with our neighbours. The hospitality sector faced the brunt of the pandemic but managed to remain resilient, and yet we continue to be held back, in part due to the discriminatory nature of the rating system in Scotland, which disproportionately burdens the sector more than any other. We repeat our calls for a further review of Scotland’s commercial rating system as soon as possible, but right now, the Scottish government must truly see the reality of the situation and lend the same support as that given to our English and Welsh counterparts.”
UKHospitality Cymru – Welsh tourist tax is ‘wrong tax at wrong time’: A Welsh tourist tax is the “wrong tax at the wrong time”, UKHospitality Cymru has said. Responding to the Welsh government’s consultation on the implementation of a discretionary visitor levy, the trade body has called for the proposal to be dropped due to the irreparable damage it would cause businesses in the sector. UKHospitality Cymru highlighted the significant contribution overnight visitors make to local economies in Wales and requested a detailed, independent economic impact assessment be carried out. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “We strongly oppose the introduction of a discretionary visitor levy in Wales, particularly at a time when the hospitality industry is facing a troubling combination of soaring costs and staff shortages. The added burden in administrative costs, time and likely impact on visitor numbers and spend, could prove to be the final straw for some businesses that are the heartbeat of many local communities and the lifeblood of our high streets. Put simply, this is the wrong tax at the wrong time.” UKHospitality Cymru said the Welsh government’s proposed levy differs greatly from the recently announced Manchester Accommodation Business Improvement District initiative. This voluntary, collaborative scheme gives operators full sight and control over the use of funds raised from a £1 guest surcharge that will be used solely to reinvest back into the sector, it added.
Pessimistic employers hiring fewer new workers: Employers have cut back on hiring new staff for a third month in a row, research shows. The Times reports BDO found Britain’s labour market weakened again in November, with a slowdown in hiring intentions in the services sector. The accountancy firm’s employment index measure fell 1.2 points to 111.85 after registering similar declines in September and October. The index is compiled using data from the Bank of England, the Office for National Statistics, the CBI’s economy surveys and other sources. The research also found businesses were less optimistic about their prospects amid higher energy costs and an expected downturn in consumer spending. The optimism index fell to a two-year low of 91.64 in November. A reading below 95 suggests a contraction in business sentiment. BDO said: “The services sector has seen the largest fall in optimism, having been particularly exposed to inflationary pressures and a decline in output, as supply chain disruption and soaring living costs affected consumers and businesses alike.” The Office for Budget Responsibility has said the economy is already in a recession as inflation and interest rate rises limit household spending. The Bank of England has warned a recession could last for up to two years. Investors are betting on a 0.5-point rise in interest rates on Thursday (15 December). Andrew Bailey, the bank’s governor, has said further action is needed to cool down the economy after inflation hit 11.1% last month.
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a leisure and visitor attractions business that operates across the UK and is looking to bring in an operations director for one of its sites in the West Midlands. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “You will be overseeing large teams and large visitor numbers, working with the director of operations, and supporting all areas of the attraction. The business is looking for an experienced area or operations manager from, ideally, branded attractions or leisure environments.” The salary is up to £85,000. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Elliot – we will look to open three to four sites next year and make Midlands debut: Thom Elliot, co-founder of Pizza Pilgrims, the London pizzeria brand, has told Propel the business will look to add three to four sites to its 20-strong estate next year, which includes its debut in the Midlands. Elliot also said the company, which opened its latest site last month, in Cambridge, would look at opportunities to bring back its New York-themed concept Slice. It comes as the business lines up its first opening in the Midlands, in Nottingham. Pizza Pilgrims plans to move into the former Crazy Fish My Love site in Carlton Street, in the Hockley area of the city. It is also understood to be considering openings in London’s Queen’s Park and Paddington for next year. Elliot told Propel: “We are in a position that if opportunities come up, we can do them. I don’t think the limiting factor for us is going to be financial, it’s going to be more about making sure we can operationally deliver them. I’m the first person in the company to say let’s slow down on that particular stuff. But what’s interesting is as it grows, and as we kind of employ more great people who’ve got lots of capacity and energy and excitement, they’re pushing the other way, saying we can do more. I think that’s quite a nice balance, that friction gets us to the right tempo. We’re also looking at Slice again, which had a great moment in the sun. I think the Finsbury Park location was obviously just completely wrong for the model that is now a Pizza Pilgrims and working well. I still really believe in the product and in the model, and I think there’s opportunities for that business that are not opportunities for Pilgrims, which could include sports stadia or festivals.” Elliot said the business has put a lot of work in investing in its existing teams. He said: “We’re not perfect yet, but we’re pretty much at no management gaps. It’s about making people feel like they're growing and to help them develop in a career. For example, we put in a head of chef engagement role, and it has really helped us take our chef team to the next level. It has also allowed us to attract some world class pizza talent.”
Chopstix opens second Livingston site as it ramps up Scottish expansion, more in the pipeline: Fast-growing quick service restaurant brand Chopstix has opened a second Livingston site as it ramps up its Scottish expansion, Propel has learned. The new site, located at The Centre, adds to its site in the Livingston Designer Outlet as well as stores in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee and Aberdeen. Having identified significant growth opportunities north of the border based through strong sales, customer feedback and an analysis of local consumer trends, Chopstix has further Scottish locations in the pipeline, with a site in Glasgow’s Braehead Shopping Centre next on the list. Chopstix managing director, Jon Lake said: “What is most encouraging is the clear cut-through the brand has across the UK, with substantial demand not just in the largest cities, but in towns like Livingston. From the detailed analysis we have carried out, we’re confident there’s sufficient appetite for Chopstix in Livingston to support two thriving stores, and we’ll look to explore this cluster model of multiple sites in high footfall town centre locations in 2023 and beyond.” Chopstix now has 87 UK stores and is set to pass the 100-mark by the end of the financial year.
Shake Shack and PF Chang’s UK operator in negotiations for new sites, substantially reduces losses as turnover exceeds pre-pandemic levels: Diverse Dining, which operates Shake Shack and PF Chang’s in the UK, has said it is in negotiations for new sites and is also aiming to expand its digital channels as the business builds back from the pandemic. It comes as the company reported turnover increased to £34,799,226 for the year ending 31 December 2021 compared with £20,583,282 the year before. The figure also exceeded the £33,733,871 reported for the year ending 31 December 2019 – the last full year before the pandemic. Pre-tax losses narrowed substantially to £2,495,329 from £7,504,991 the previous year. (2019: loss of £7,016,569). The business received £696,984 through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (2020: £2,327,979). No divided was paid (2020: nil). During the period, the business closed its Shake Shack site in London’s Cambridge Circus, which has since been reopened by Boparan Restaurant Group under its Slim Chickens brand. Shake Shack now operates 11 UK sites with its 12th set to open in Argyll Street in London’s Soho. Diverse Dining also operates PF Chang’s in Leicester Square in the capital. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors said: “The company continues looking for the right opportunities within the market and is currently in negations with landlords for new sites. The company is looking at all possible revenue streams for both brands to maximum its market share. During 2022, the trading landscape remains fluid both in sales as well as costs pressures, which the company monitors and reacts to mitigate any negative effects. The company looks to maximise all the support that is available added with innovation to remain competitive. We have kept and developed a full workforce throughout the past couple of years.”
Gravity launches first Reef Food Hall with seven restaurant brands and plans estate roll-out, includes UK debut for 800 Degrees Pizza: Experiential leisure operator Gravity has launched a Reef Food Hall featuring seven restaurant brands at its Gravity Southside venue in Wandsworth. One of the concepts available is Sides, the Virtual Hero brand from YouTube collective The Sidemen, which opened at Southside last week for its second physical site. Other featured menus include Azzurri Group brand Coco di Mama, Dirty Bones, Choppaluna, Crepeaffaire and Another Wing from Grammy-winning artist DJ Khaled. In the coming weeks, it will also launch the first UK location of US brand 800 Degrees Pizza. Using Reef’s technology, guests will be able to order from multiple brands in a single contactless transaction. Gravity now plans to roll out multiple Reef Food Hall’s across its estate in 2023, including at Westfield Stratford City and Liverpool ONE. Harvey Jenkinson, co-founder and chief executive at Gravity, said: “Our partnership with Reef will allow Gravity Wandsworth to deliver not only three storeys of amusement and excitement, but an incredible food offering too.” Kenneth Rourke, president of Reef Kitchens, added: “Leveraging technology to connect amazing brands with every neighbourhood is our core mission. We’re thrilled to be partnering with Gravity to continue innovating in hospitality and delighting guests with incredible food concepts.” Gravity also launched cocktail bar concept Newtons at its Southside venue earlier this year.
Vapiano to open first restaurant since 2018 today, smallest UK site: Vapiano, which is owned by the Mario C Bauer-led consortium Love & Food Restaurant Holdings, will today (Wednesday, 14 December) open the smallest of its six UK restaurants. The 4,500 square-foot site, at 50 Eastbourne Terrace in Paddington, offers 168 covers, almost half of its other sites, which average 350. The restaurant is the first Vapiano to open since London’s Tottenham Court Road in 2018 and is its fourth site in the capital. It also operates UK sites in Manchester and Edinburgh. Overseen by manager Marco Dechecco, it will offer antipasti dishes and salads as well as pasta and pizza that can be customised to taste by guests. It will feature sharing tables, laid-back seating areas and a separate bar. In June, Vapiano opened delivery kitchens in London’s Nine Elms and Brent, adding to the one it opened in Kentish Town last year.
Greene King makes biggest Hive Pub investment yet as former JD Wetherspoon managers become franchisees: Brewer and retailer Greene King has made it biggest investment in a Hive Pub yet by ploughing £940,000 into The Victoria in Thurston, Suffolk. The pub has now reopened and will be operated by David and Natasha Riggs, who both left their positions as JD Wetherspoon pub managers to become Hive Pubs franchisees. As part of the renovation works, The Victoria has had an extension added, while a dedicated sports area has been introduced with two dartboards and a contactless pool table. Outside, beach huts have been added along with covered outdoor seating and an outside bar and servery. In line with the Hive Pubs branded concept, it will serve a menu of pub classics curated by the food team at Greene King, and a range of standard and premium range drinks including alcohol-free options. David and Natasha Riggs said: “Having managed successful pubs, we wanted to take the next step and run our own pub business. Going down the franchise route was the obvious way to make our dream a reality.” Aimed at those with experience of running a pub, the Hive Pubs franchise agreement gives licensees a ready-to-trade pub for just £5,000 ingoing cost. Franchisees get a minimum guaranteed income of £20,000 as well as a percentage of food and drink sales and a share of the profits in their pub.
Planet Organic nears £7m mark as crowdfunding draws to close, appoints customer director, secures Teddington site: Health-focused retailer Planet Organic is closing in on the £7m mark as its crowdfunding campaign draws to a close. The 13-strong business, which is looking to reach 50 stores over the next three years, hit its crowdfunding target of £6.25m in just over 24 hours of the launch of the campaign in the middle of last month. It has so far raised £6,848,024 from 643 investors, with a day to go. The fundraise came with a pre-money valuation of £30.2m, with 17.16% of equity offered. The business has also announced Joanne Gunn has officially joined as its new customer director. Gunn arrives from Naked Wines, where she has been growth director since 2020, overseeing a substantial period of expansion for the business, delivering in excess of 300,000 new customers per year. In her new role at Planet Organic, she will oversee customer acquisition, marketing, digital and customer services. The company has also confirmed its next new store will open in Teddington at the end of February 2023. The re-fit and construction works are set to begin this month. Nick Ridley, Planet Organic’s property and operations director, said: “In the coming weeks we will be converting 2,809 square foot at 60-62 Broad Street, continuing our exciting expansion in key London locations.” The company opened its first store outside the capital, in Henley-on-Thames, earlier this year.
Wendy’s opens first traditional franchise site in UK: Wendy’s, the third-largest quick service restaurant chain in the US, has opened its first traditional franchise site in the UK, in Sheffield. Square Burger, which is from the team behind the Papas Fish & Chips business, has opened a Wendy’s in Sheffield’s High Street, with a further site set to open in the former Monsoon Store, in Lincoln’s High Street. Wendy’s, which has opened 27 outlets since its return to the UK last summer and believes that it could comfortably reach 300 to 400 restaurants over the next few years, has so far approved six franchisees who will take on territories including Scotland and Wales. The company has opened its latest company-owned site, and its 12th in total, in Eden Street, Kingston. It also operates 15 dark kitchen sites in partnership with Reef. Abigail Pringle, president of Wendy’s international operations and chief development officer, told The Times last month the company would probably end up with 20 to 25 of its own restaurants and the remainder would be franchises. Meanwhile, company-owned units will open in Liverpool and Greater Manchester, while drive-thru sites are planned for Colchester and Peterborough.
McDonald’s franchisee in Kent sees turnover pass £100m for first time: McDonald’s franchisee Peter Crocker, who operates 19 restaurants in Kent, saw turnover pass £100m for first time in the year ending 31 December 2021. Crocker, who ran several petrol station businesses before first becoming a McDonald’s franchise in 1995, now employs more than 2,800 staff. His company, PA Crocker, reported turnover of £103,496,043 compared with £66,768,173 in 2020. It was also a considerable increase on the last full year before the pandemic, with revenue of £72,300,612 in 2019. Pre-tax profits more than doubled from £3,707,547 in 2020 to £8,379,283 (2019: £2,860,198). The company received £182,454 from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme compared to £3,337,012 in 2020. It said: “The company has had a strong year, with both positive turnover and profit growth as a result of both strong demand for delivery and a return in to in store dining. The company’s balance sheet position at the year-end was healthy, with £11.9m of retained profits. Sales for the year stood at £103.5m, an increase of £36.7m from 2020, an overall sales increase of approximately 55.01%. This growth in sales is predominantly due to stores being closed for several weeks during 2020, along with an uplift in delivery sales and the addition of a new store during 2021. Gross profit stands at 69.14% compared to 69.12% in 2020 and is in line with expectations. The company plans to acquire more restaurants should the opportunity arise.”
West Midlands holiday park business secures £12.5m loan to complete acquisition of two sites: West Midlands holiday park business Allens Caravans, which operates eight sites across the UK, has secured a £12.5m loan to complete the acquisition of two sites. The funding package from Lloyds Bank will be used predominantly to complete the acquisition and development of two flagship sites, Aber Bay in Wales and Bredon View in Worcestershire. Some of it is also being used to redevelop the Aber Bay site, adding an additional 57 plots to take its total number of caravans to 217. John Russ, sales director, said: “We’ve seen a real boom in demand for our accommodation in recent years as UK holidaymakers’ enthusiasm for luxury staycations continues to gather pace. Bringing these additional sites to our portfolio marks the latest phase of our ongoing expansion ambitions, and we remain committed to rolling out continued investment in our parks. What's more, with 79% of total revenue for the UK travel and tourism market expected to be generated by online sales by 2026, we also needed to invest in our digital offering to better meet the needs of our customer booking habits.”
G-A-Y nightclub group returns to profit as business benefits from pent-up consumer demand: The G-A-Y nightclub group has reported turnover increased to £11,628,184 for the year ending 27 April 2022 compared with £1,810,675 the previous year as the business benefited from “pent-up consumer demand” and fewer covid restrictions. Turnover was only slightly down on the £11,839,239 reported for the year ending 30 April 2020, although the final six weeks of trade were impacted by the start of the covid pandemic. The company, owned by Jeremy Joseph, made a pre-tax profit of £2,529,171 compared with a loss of £665,363 the year before (2020: profit of £1,150,642). In October 2021, the group sold the business and assets of its venue in Manchester leaving it to operate G-A-Y Bar, G-A-Y Late and Heaven in London. The group received government grants of £131,140 (2021: £1,215,964). A dividend of £700,509 was paid (2021: £583,600).
Bancone overfunding as it breaks through £700,000 crowdfunding target: Bancone, the all-day fresh pasta concept led by Will Ellner and backed by David Ramsey and Jason Myers, is overfunding after breaking through its £700,000 crowdfunding target with seven days of the raise remaining. The business, which launched the campaign earlier this month through Crowdcube, has so far raised £714,474 from 614 investors. Bancone launched in Covent Garden’s William IV Street in 2018 and opened its second site, in Soho’s Lower James Street, the following year. It is offering 4.32% of equity with a pre-money valuation of £15,508,020. The company said: “We have honed our business model and are now set to expand in London, with sites potentially lined up in Borough, Battersea, Notting Hill and Shoreditch/City (dependent on amount raised). We’ve successfully survived covid and are now serving circa 4,500 customers per week at our popular Soho and Covent Garden restaurants, which now regularly turnover £110,000-£120,000 per week and have generated year-to-date sales (nine months) of £3.8m, which are ramping up (Ebitda £53,000). We’re extremely proud of our credentials as a Michelin endorsed restaurant group, and we believe we have created a scalable business and disruptive model, offering Michelin quality food at casual dining prices.”
Center Parcs appoints Katrina Jamieson as new CFO: Center Parcs, Britain’s biggest chain of upmarket holiday villages, has appointed Katrina Jamieson as its new chief finance officer. Jamieson joins the five-strong group from Currys, where she has served as financial controller since April 2019. She also spent 18 years at Halfords, including stints as its digital director and business transformation director. Colin McKinlay will step down from the position to focus on his role as chief executive. McKinlay said: “The board of directors and I welcome Katrina to Center Parcs. Katrina brings with her a wealth of experience in financial, commercial and operational management across a broad range of retail environments.”
Brewhouse & Kitchen commits to ‘earn and learn’ by joining The 5% Club: Brewhouse & Kitchen, the 23 strong brewpub chain, has joined The 5% Club, the movement of employers campaigning for greater skills training through ‘earn and learn’ job opportunities. The group, initiated by Balfour Beatty group chief executive Leo Quinn in 2013, is a movement of more than 700 employers providing opportunities to develop the skills people need to become more employable. Companies joining commit to raising the number of apprentices, sponsored students and graduates on formal programmes to 5% of their total workforce within five years. Jody Bennett, people director at Brewhouse & Kitchen, said: “We’re proud to be part of this initiative and to already be achieving more than 5% of apprenticeships. We’re delighted that we’re now part of a movement which actively promotes earn and learn, and in turn, this has reduced our overall vacancies as people commit to longer term apprenticeship pathways with us.” Brewhouse & Kitchen chief executive Kris Gumbrell added: "Hospitality is currently experiencing significant challenges, like many other sectors, but we must make sure that we are truly competitive as an employer, educator and career developer, and as such, a credible choice for young people. Being a part of The 5% Club means we hold ourselves to account to ensure we do our best for new entrants to hospitality.”
Bowland Inns & Hotels makes first post-pandemic acquisition, more to follow: Lancashire hotel, pub and restaurant operator Bowland Inns & Hotels has completed its first acquisition post-pandemic, with owner James Warburton saying more will follow. The company behind the Bowland Brewery and James’ Places collection of hotels, inns and restaurants has reached a lease agreement with the trustees of the Downham Estate for the Assheton Arms in Downham, Lancashire. The country inn is set to re-open its doors under new ownership in February 2023, and Warburton is now planning further expansion of his ten-strong estate. “We are absolutely delighted to announce that we have secured the Assheston Arms and will be bringing it into our family of local hotels and inns,” he said. “As a big admirer and customer of this wonderful pub, and past resident of Downham itself, I know just how fond of the pub people are. Bringing the Assheton Arms into the James’ Places family is the first step of a much-delayed expansion plan, and hopefully there are one or two others that we can announce soon. There’s no change of direction and no scaling up, just one or two pieces falling into place – great buildings and great locations that just need a bit of love and attention. The past couple of years have been unkind to many types of businesses, few more so than hospitality. But with the support of our fantastic employees, great suppliers and wonderfully loyal customers, we are delighted to have made it through.”
Papa John’s franchisee opens fourth outlet with Exmouth launch, company makes return to Dover after five-year absence: Papa John’s franchisee Dr Renato Raho has opened his fourth site as he expands his portfolio in the south west of England. Raho has launched the store in The Parade, in the Devon town of Exmouth, in a premises previously occupied by food-to-go operator Greggs. Raho – who also operates stores in Newquay, Barnstaple and Newton Abbot – described Exmouth as “a great location likely to attract customer collections”. Meanwhile, Papa John’s has made its return to Dover after a five-year absence. The store has opened at St James Retail Park and is run by Amir Afzal, who also operates a site in Folkestone, previously ran his own travel agency in Singapore, and prior to that, worked for Levi’s in Pakistan as a HR executive before joining Papa John’s as a franchisee in 2017.
Cineworld boss given suspended jail term: Cineworld’s chief executive Mooky Greidinger has been given a six-month suspended prison sentence in his native Israel. The Times reports Greidinger, who has been battling to save Cineworld from the fallout caused by the pandemic, was found by Israel’s anti-trust authority to have breached the terms of a merger agreement dating to 2010. Greidinger is said to have failed to provide eight movies to a rival cinema chain in Tel Aviv following the merger deal, and Greidinger was deemed to be indirectly responsible for failing to prevent the breach. An Israeli court fined Forum Film, Cineworld’s Israeli distribution arm, £150,000 while Greidinger was personally fined about £23,000. The sentence, which was suspended as part of a plea bargain, was imposed on him after he admitted violating the terms of the merger. Cineworld is seeking to bounce back from the closure of its venues during the pandemic, while it has also been laid low by debt taken on to fuel expansion in North America. The group’s woes have prompted suggestions the world’s second largest cinema operator could be split up and sold next year, with one scenario being a break-up by country. Cineworld, which started in 1995, has 9,139 screens at 747 sites across ten countries, including the Regal chain in the United States, which it acquired for $5.8bn in 2018. It went on to launch a recommended circa $2.8bn takeover of Toronto-based Cineplex, only to pull out after the pandemic hit. Cineplex sued its British suitor, winning a damages award of circa $1.23bn. In America, Cineworld is seeking to push through a significant reduction in its debt under a Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection process. Cineworld said the judgment was “not expected to have any impact on the continued operations of Forum Film, Cineworld Group or Greidinger’s position as chief of Cineworld Group”.