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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Mon 19th Dec 2022 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day: 

Foodservice inflation hits record 21.5% but expected to begin levelling off: Foodservice price inflation reached a record 21.5% in November, but is now expected to begin levelling off. It marks a tenth consecutive month of double-digit inflation, and the first time in the history of the index that inflation has exceeded 20%. All categories of the index recorded double-digit inflation, and one – oils and fats – remained at unprecedented highs reporting 47% growth year-on-year. There is some evidence to suggest the heat may be dissipating in this sector, with month-on-month increases moderating from earlier highs. The vegetable category of the index rose nearly 4% month-on-month to register year-on-year inflation of 23%. However, the major upstream influencers on the price of food – including oil, exchange rates and volatile commodity markets – are now showing some signs of stabilising, the index showed. The cost of oil fell in November from $93 to $82 per barrel, while sterling was stable against the euro and dollar. Food commodity markets have eased in recent weeks, with the UN’s FAO Food Price Index virtually unchanged compared with October, and month-on-month decreases in the price indices for cereal, dairy and meat almost offsetting increases in vegetable oil and sugar. Prestige Purchasing chief executive Shaun Allen said: “We expect inflation to begin to level off in December, with a gradual decline commencing in the new year as the impacts of the less challenging upstream influences and year-on-year effects begin to feed through into the index. Nevertheless, the average monthly increase in prices during 2022 has been 1.7%, so inflation has a long way to fall before prices (rather than inflation) can start to come down.” James Ashurst, client director at CGA by NielsenIQ, added: “Alongside labour shortages and the cost-of-living crisis, high inflation has placed intense pressure on operators’ margins and made real-terms growth extremely difficult. Businesses across the industry will be holding their breath for respite in 2023.”

Industry News:

TikTok to speak at Restaurant Marketer & Innovator European Summit 2023, open for bookings: Hakim Bukenya, brand partnerships manager, marketplaces and platforms at TikTok, and Rameez Al Aghbar, brand partnerships, quick service restaurants and travel lead at TikTok, 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. Bukenya and Al Aghbar will talk about how hospitality brands can gain traction with the more than one billion monthly active users on the platform. More than 50 industry and agency leaders will take to the stage over two days representing brands including Burger King UK, Cornish Bakery, 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, Red Engine, East Coast Concepts, Coco di Mama, The Cocktail Club, Tattu Restaurants, Hilton, Elior, MJMK, Lollipop, Chotto Matte, Ping Pong, Nobu, Gusto Italian, BrewDog, Kaleido, Darjeeling Express, Flat Earth Pizzas 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

Full-year sector sales rise above pre-pandemic levels for first time but 13% below where they should be in real terms to keep up with inflation: Sector sales are 13% below where they should be in real terms to keep up with inflation, according to new data. The latest UKHospitality Tracker, provided by CGA, showed turnover in the year up to the end of September 2022 was up 1.3% at £135bn, compared with 2019. This is the first time a full-year figure is above pre-covid levels. However, the severe impact of inflation means even a slight year-on-year increase in turnover is wiped out by rising energy, food and labour costs. Based on these figures, the hospitality sector would have to generate an additional £17bn of turnover just to rise in line with inflation. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “These figures are a stark reminder of the challenge facing our sector. The sector’s sales finally rising above pre-pandemic levels should be a cause for celebration but the scale of inflation means it’s actually a warning sign of just how perilous a position hospitality is in. Catching up to these levels of inflation will be almost impossible for businesses, as they grapple with rising costs and dampening consumer confidence as a result of the cost-of-living crisis. On a positive note, the data does show hospitality is capable of returning to pre-pandemic levels, even in these challenging circumstances, and the nation still hugely values the role it plays in our culture and society. That demonstrates the importance of hospitality maintaining its inclusion in the government’s energy relief package post-April to help it weather this storm, in order to deliver the economic growth I’m confident it can achieve.”

Sunak set to extend help for business energy bills: Prime minister Rishi Sunak is set to extend financial support on energy bills for British businesses by up to a year — but the package could be far less generous. The Times reported Sunak is expected to sign off on an extension of between six and 12 months for the energy bill relief scheme, which was set up in October to shield businesses from the soaring costs of oil and gas. While final decisions have yet to be taken, Sunak is expected to agree to the package remaining open to all firms rather than being limited to certain vulnerable sectors, as originally planned. According to Whitehall sources, however, he has been presented with the option to include top-up subsidies or additional support for energy-intensive industries, such as steel, paper and ceramics, as well as hospitality and other customer-facing sectors. Even if Sunak opts for additional support for these sectors, insiders have cautioned the scheme will be “significantly less generous” than the current support, which ends on 31 March 2023. One said the average subsidy provided to firms was likely to be “less than half” of the current support available. Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, said: “The government’s energy support scheme had been a lifeline for many hospitality businesses, whose bills would have gone up more than 400% had it not been in place. It’s vital this support is extended. Without an extension, the hospitality sector is facing a cliff-edge in April. A steep rise in energy costs, coupled with other inflationary pressures, staffing challenges and rail strike disruption, could prove fatal for many. We also need to see firm action that ensures energy suppliers pass on the benefit of the scheme to businesses, rather than undermining it by inflating prices and imposing punitive charges.” An announcement on the scheme extension is expected as early as Tuesday (20 December) although a Downing Street source said: “No decisions have yet been made.” If Sunak opts for such a big reduction in support, he is likely to face a backlash from business leaders, who warn thousands of firms could go under if wholesale oil and gas prices remain high. 

Pubs, clubs and bars could open for longer to celebrate King's coronation: Pubs, clubs and bars in England and Wales could be allowed to open for longer to celebrate the King's coronation. The government has said it will consult on extending licensing hours from 11pm until 1am on 5, 6, and 7 May across the bank holiday weekend. The Home Office said the move will provide “an opportunity for our communities to come together and celebrate this historic moment, and support our hospitality industry”. Laws allow the hours to be extended to mark occasions of “exceptional national significance”. Home secretary Suella Braverman said: “His majesty the King's coronation will be a historic moment that will see our great nation and the entire Commonwealth joined together in celebration. Our country, and in particular our hospitality industry, has faced many challenges in recent years and the King's coronation is an opportunity to give a boost to our local businesses, and celebrate with our local communities. Over the bank holiday weekend we can raise a glass to our new monarch, and with our friends and families wish him a long and successful reign.”

Toggle launches billboard campaign to encourage hospitality gifting this Christmas: Toggle, the hospitality gift card platform, has invested in a billboard campaign across five major UK cities in a bid to boost sales of festive gift cards at its partner hospitality businesses. The adverts appear in Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham and London, while Bella Italia, YO!, Rosa’s Thai, Gusto Italian and Cosy Club are among the 75 sector brands featured in the campaign. Toggle chief executive Dan Brookman said: “At Toggle, we are 100% hospitality focused, and so this campaign is about persuading consumers to think outside of socks and scented candles this Christmas and to give the gift of hospitality. By purchasing a gift card for one of their favourite local venues, consumers aren’t just giving a unique gift, but also supporting their local high street and community businesses at a time when the hospitality industry is really suffering.” Toggle, which enables hospitality businesses to sell direct digital gift cards, experiences and retail products to consumers via their own websites, was acquired by hospitality technology provider Zonal in October, in a deal which also included sister platform Airship CRM.

Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with an upscale international hospitality business that is looking for a group head of sales. The company is rapidly growing in London, where it has more than five venues, and plans further expansion. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “You will be reporting to the marketing and sales director and be responsible for driving group sales across the UK. Each location has dedicated sales teams, and the head of group sales is responsible for the recruitment, training, and goals for those teams and the processes around all group sales activity. They will work closely with operations, marketing, and technology teams to enhance the products and packages for groups and corporate business in line with trends in group business and guest feedback. In addition, this role seeks to maximise group sales revenue across all locations and implement processes and procedures as the company grows.” The salary is up to £75,000 and the position is based in London. For more information, email 

Company News: 

Wasabi sites now delivering like-for-like sales in excess of 2019 levels, Capdesia looking to inject further funding: Wasabi, the sushi and bento chain backed by Capdesia, has said its restaurants are now delivering sales in excess of 2019 levels on a like-for-like basis, Propel has learned. Wasabi is showing a strong recovery across the store portfolio, including record sales in some of its central London sites,. The 44-strong business said Capdesia, which invested in Wasabi in May 2019, is looking to inject further capital into the business to strengthen the balance sheet and to fund further growth. The company saw its turnover increase 41% during 2021 to £66.3m compared with 2020 and said it saw a return to Ebitda profitability reflecting “a robust recovery post-covid and the strength of the Wasabi brand and offer”. The company said: “Wasabi restaurants returned to 2019 like-for-like sales levels in the latter half of the year, recovering from covid restrictions in the first quarter of 2021, before the subsequent impact of the Omicron outbreak at the end of the fourth quarter. The grocery business delivered strong growth through its partnership with Sainsbury's of 76% on 2020 sales levels, driven by new product lines and extended distribution. Following the impact of Omicron, Wasabi restaurants are now delivering sales in excess of 2019 levels on a like-for-like basis, showing a strong recovery across the store portfolio, including record sales in some of its central London sites. The Wasabi grocery brand grew to become the second largest chilled ready-meal brand in the UK via its Sainsbury's partnership alone and has recently seen the successful launch of the range into Tesco. Wasabi continues to face the same pressures as the rest of the hospitality industry, meaning profitability has been impacted by unprecedented levels of inflation throughout the P&L. A proportion of this has been mitigated by productivity initiatives across the business, alongside selective price increases. Despite these challenges the team is confident about the longer-term opportunities for the brand, particularly given Wasabi's value-for-money positioning, high quality hot and cold food offering and omnichannel footprint.” Henry Birts, chief executive of Wasabi, said: “We have also supported and strengthened our teams at all levels through focused recruiting, increased pay levels and enhanced training and development. There is still a lot of work to do and challenges ahead, but we remain excited and confident about the future.”

Karen Bosher to step down as MD at Greene King: Karen Bosher is to step down as managing director of Greene King’s Premium, Urban and Venture Brands division at the end of the year, to pursue other interests, Propel has learned. Bosher, who was previously at JJB Sports and Mothercare, originally joined Greene King in 2013 as an operations director for its local pubs division. She also had stints as business unit director for Greene King’s London pubs, and for its Metropolitan Pub Company arm. She also ran the locals division after the departure of chief operating officer Richard Lewis in 2019. In February 2020, she was appointed managing director of the pub company’s Premium, Urban and Venture Brands division and joined Greene King’s executive board. Earlier this year, she was named European Diversity Champion of the Year 2022 at the European Diversity Awards. Nick Mackenzie, chief executive of Greene King, told Propel: “Karen has played a pivotal role during her ten years at Greene King, including setting up and leading our Premium, Urban and Venture Brands division and I would like to thank her for her dedication and contribution to the business. She has been a key part of the team that has delivered strong progress and change, and we wish Karen all the best for the future."

Caring sells further stake in restaurant empire to former Qatar PM, sales up 18%, Bill’s back in the black: Serial sector investor Richard Caring has sold a further 25% of his restaurant business, which includes Bill’s and the Ivy Collection, to Sheikh Hamad Bin-Jassim Bin-Jaber Al Thani, the former prime minister of Qatar, making them 50/50 partners, the FT reports. Thani, known as HBJ, first bought a quarter of the group, which also includes Caprice Holdings, for £200m in 2019, valuing the businesses at £800m, as part of a deal that gave him the option to become a joint owner. Caring retains complete operational control under the terms of the deal. Through the partnership, HBJ gets first refusal on freeholds of sought-after real estate in London and beyond. “He was interested in property, I was interested in selling a position in the company,” Caring said. HBJ’s decision to increase his stake, which was conditional on the business meeting certain performance targets, comes after a strong year for Caring’s restaurants and members’ clubs, which have recovered quickly from the covid-19 pandemic. Sales across Caring’s companies are up between 15-18% compared with 2019 levels, putting the group on course for revenues of more than £600m. “It sounds great until you start taking inflation into [account but] it’s very positive,” he said. The companies are turning a profit again after booking steep losses during the pandemic. Even Bill’s, which has languished in recent years, has edged back into the black. “Bill’s is not a basket case. I can’t sit here smugly and say luxury [dining] is totally safe [from the cost-of-living crisis. I believe the top end of the market is slightly more insulated but it will probably be felt across the board.” At the end of last year, Baton Berisha left as chief executive of Caring’s restaurant companies. Caring stepped back into a more day-to-day operational role and he promoted Laura Bamber, a long-time employee, to head up Troia, the biggest company in his group. Caring said he is now “leaning a bit more towards America”. The New York site he has scouted out for Annabel’s in the city’s Meatpacking district “will be completely insane”, he said. The renovation of Annabel’s in London took around a year, costing £65m. He estimated the New York outpost would take three years to develop.

Rekom UK aims to quadruple estate to 200 sites: Rekom UK, the Peter Marks-led nightclub operator, wants to quadruple its number of venues to 200. The company, whose brands include Pryzm and Fiction, already has 51 clubs and bars. It aims to hit the new target by 2028 and is looking to snap up sites in major cities such as Manchester and Liverpool. Demand is strong on Saturday nights despite the cost-of-living crisis, Marks told The Mail on Sunday. But weeknights are becoming more subdued. “What we're seeing now is more movement to the weekend and people are very led by big events such as Hallowe’en, new year and birthdays,” Marks said. “Monday to Thursday were never a big part of trading, they've definitely dropped back a bit. Friday is stronger and then Saturday is ok.” The company said its main customers – young people and students – are less likely to be hit by rising household prices and see clubbing as an “affordable treat”. Marks said he is keen to open Rekom’s first central London venue. However, he is focusing efforts on regional cities where it can have multiple bars and clubs in “clusters”, which it has done in Cardiff. “We've got nothing in Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle or Glasgow, so these are obviously targets for us,” he said.

Shapland – we see 2023 as a great opportunity to further grow Coffi Lab: James Shapland, founder of Coffi Lab, has said he sees next year as a great opportunity to further grow the dog-friendly coffee shop brand. Launched last year by Coffee#1 founder Shapland, Coffi Lab opened its seventh site earlier this month, at 32-34 Station Road in Llanishen, Cardiff. The business hopes to reach double figures by the end of March next year, with a longer-term target of having 50 Coffi Lab sites open over the next five years. Shapland, who returned to the coffee sector last year having previously founded Coffee#1 in 2000 and sold it 11 years later to SA Brain, said: “We’re seeing wonderful responses to our brand and returns per site are running 23% ahead of forecast. Coffi Lab is in excellent shape with an encouraging pipeline of new units coming through.”

Oxygen appoints agents to support expansion plans: Indoor family activity brand, Oxygen, has appointed leisure real estate advisory business, Stärka, to support the brand’s expansion throughout the UK. Stärka’s brief is to secure strategically located sites of between 20,000 square-foot to 30,000 square-foot. Stephen Wilson, managing director of Oxygen, said: “Oxygen is breaking new ground, leading the trampolining sector’s consolidation and transforming it by delivering an enhanced customer experience.” Stärka has already identified a number of locations, and is in detailed negotiations to build a pipeline of 2023 openings for the brand, which has expanded significantly since its acquisition by Literacy Capital in 2021. Oxygen has introduced an experience-led proposition at its Wilmslow and Acton sites. The investments of £1m each includes enhanced facilities for children and adults, a “comprehensive” customer engagement training programme for staff and the use of technology “to support every stage of the experience”. In November, Oxygen acquired RedKangaroo, with the brand buying the operator’s sites in Reading, Nottingham and Coventry to take the portfolio to nine locations. 

Gleneagles Hotel’s current performance ‘exceeding expectations’ as it reports return to profit: The company behind the Gleneagles Hotel in Scotland has said performance in its current financial year to 31 March 2023 is “exceeding expectations” as it reported a return to profit for the first time since 2018. It said average daily rate and occupancy were ahead of forecasts while revpar is at a historically high level “as we benefit from the pent-up demand during the pandemic”. The business said availability of staff remains a challenge, but changes to its approach of staff recruitment and management, including a review of pay and benefits, “has eased the pressure”. It comes as the company reported turnover was up to £68,998,000 for the year ending 31 March 2022 compared with £19,711,000 the previous year as the business still felt the impact of the pandemic. The hotel did not reopen until 26 April 2021 and operated under numerous restrictions for the first month. For the 15 months to 31 March 2020, turnover stood at £66,388,000. It made a pre-tax profit of £7,021,000 versus a loss of £8,958,000 the year before (15 months to 31 March 2020: loss of £5,237,000). The multimillion-pound refurbishment of the hotel continued during the period, including a refresh of its Birnam restaurant. The business also acquired the British School of Falconry to further develop its outdoor activities. The company received £802,000 through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (2021: £8,750,000). No dividend was paid (2021: nil).

Papa John’s franchisee opens in Greenock for fifth site, planning another two outlets: Papa John’s franchisee Nazim Vadiwala has opened a site in Greenock, Scotland, for his fifth site. The opening in the Renfrewshire town is the first of three Papa John’s set to be launched over the next few months by Vadiwala, supported by his 70-strong team who also manage stores in Leithwalk in Edinburgh, Perth, Clydebank and Whitley Bay. Vadiwala, who worked for a rival pizza firm for ten years before joining Papa John’s in 2018, said: “My team is the secret of my success and for us, pizza is all about the people and we are growing!” Vadiwala, who likes everyone from his Papa John’s family to be involved in developing the brand’s local presence, has started encouraging ideas for regional and social media marketing through WhatsApp. He said: “It’s fun and motivating and means everyone can contribute to our success. As a business, we must do more than simply satisfy demand. We need to stand out and working together as a team gives us an edge.”

Pizza Union returns to profit but turnover not yet back to pre-pandemic levels: Pizza Union, the London operator that has five restaurants in the capital, returned to profit in the year ending 2 January 2022, but turnover is not yet back to pre-pandemic levels. The company, which was founded by Babak Hashemi, one of the founders of Coffee Republic, made a pre-tax profit of £105,338 compared with a loss of £637,531 in 2021. In the last full year before the pandemic, Pizza Union made a profit of £1,244,360. Turnover was up 121% from £2,539,380 in 2021 to £5,609,563 but is still below the last pre-pandemic figure of £7,744,268. It received £141,480 from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (2021: £724,894) and £144,857 in local restriction support grants (2021: £30,471). The company said: “All five sites remained open during the year, albeit with various covid trading restrictions, whereas in 2020 all five sites were completely closed for six months. Throughout the year we focused on staffing efficiencies and cost controls given the challenging sales environment resulting from the government trading restrictions, low office attendance and low high street traffic due to the dearth of shoppers and tourists. The higher sales resulted in a net profit of £105,338 for 2021 as compared with a net loss of £597,582 for 2020. We also maintained our focus on cash flow management and preservation and tightly managed all outgoing expenses. We were able to honour all our agreements with our landlords, suppliers and creditors on revised payment plans and terms that had been previously agreed in 2020.”

Maguro Group opens sixth London site with new casual Korean BBQ concept: Maguro Group has opened casual Korean barbecue concept, Pochawa Grill, in London’s Chinatown for its sixth site. The 1,670 square foot venue at 29 Wardour Street. “champions Korean culture in food, drink, and music” and has space for 50 covers. The menu includes tofu kimchi and a ramen-tteokbokki hybrid called rabokki, alongside sharing dishes such as a spicy squid and pork stir-fry known as osam-bulgogi. As well as exclusively importing Korean spirit Soju, the restaurant’s drinks menu features traditional east Asian drinks and a cocktail menu. Jae Cho, director of Maguro Group, said: “Our relaxed Korean barbecue concept fits comfortably alongside the great line-up in Chinatown London and we are pleased to be part of the community.” Julia Wilkinson, restaurant director at Shaftesbury, added: “Combining both the traditions and modern-day trends of Korea, Pochawa Grill is another milestone opening, rounding off what has been a fantastic year of new openings and innovation for Chinatown London.”

Nottinghamshire operator opens second pub, third site planned for new year: Nottinghamshire operator Sean Reddington has opened a second pub through his Reddington Pubs Company business. Reddington, who is also the founder of learning and skills platform Thrive, has opened The Reindeer in the village of Hoveringham, a pub which dates to the 1800s. It comes a year after he acquired The Old Vol in the village of Caythorpe and turned it into a gastro-fusion pub, since when it has won two AA rosettes. A third location, which will be a fine-dining restaurant in Nottingham’s city centre, will open in the new year. The opening has coincided with the arrival of former Great British Menu contestant and head chef at Sky Garden’s Level 37 in London, Michael Carr, as culinary director. Reddington said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to bring one of the country’s best chefs to Nottingham and inject innovation and daring into its culinary scene. With The Old Vol’s gastro-fusion menu, The Reindeer’s pub classics and plans for a fine dining experience in the city centre soon, our vision is to offer somewhere to eat for every occasion, with the finest food and incredible service as standard.”

Oodles Chinese opens in Preston: Indo-Chinese concept Oodles Chinese has opened in Preston for its 36th UK site. The store, at 51-52 Friargate, is a first opening for new franchisees Raj Asre and Rizwan Malik. It follows the recent appointment of former German Doner Kebab people capability leader Rachel Morris as head of learning and development at Oodles. In her new role, Morris will be supporting its franchise partners and developing the company’s learning and developing platform. In September, Propel reported Oodles had set a target of 100 sites by 2025, and a key part of that growth will be expansion in Scotland through a partnership with Franchise&. This saw a first store open in Aberdeen last month, which will be followed by a second Glasgow store in the first quarter of 2023. It is also looking for franchise partners in, but not limited to, Hamilton, Falkirk, Stirling, Cumbernauld, East Kilbride, Dunfermline, Livingston and Paisley.

Nettleton Collection sees profits soar as turnover exceeds pre-pandemic levels: Hotel group The Nettleton Collection, which operates three hotels in Devon and Cornwall, saw profits soar in the year ending 31 March 2022, with turnover exceeding pre-pandemic levels. Pre-tax profit of £3,651,464 was up significantly both on the 2021 figure of £853,498 and on the £592,120 in the year ending 31 March 2020, when the final month of trade was impacted by the start of the covid pandemic. Turnover not only rose from £6,684,672 in 2021 to £16,571,071 but also far exceeded the £11,114,763 reported for 2020. The business received £341,833 in government grants compared with £2,084,127 in 2020. In June this year, the group renegotiated its loan facilities and consolidated certain loans into a £4.1m facility. Dividends of £446,667 were paid (2021: nil). A total of £1.6m was spent on a collection of new suites at Boringdon Hall during the year. In his report accompanying the accounts, director James Nettleton said demand has been strong since being allowed to reopen in June 2021, and further capex was planned to reflect that. Among the group’s future plans are further partnerships with health and wellness businesses such as Gaia, for its Gaia Spa at Boringdon Hall. “The Gaia Spa is the flagship spa for the recently developed Gaia skincare and treatment range,” said Nettleton. “Management have been actively looking for partnership opportunities with like-minded locations, in addition to our sister spa, the Fistral Spa in Newquay, also offering Gaia products. The directors are confident the continued success of the spa will unlock further partnership opportunities in the future. A number of arrangements have been entered into in the year, and this has continued to be an area of success post year end.”

Brad Carter set to launch new doner bar concept in Birmingham: Brad Carter, chef-director of the Michelin-starred Carters of Moseley in Birmingham, is set to launch a new doner bar concept in the city. Located inside the Hare & Hounds pub in Kings Heath, One Star Döner Bar will open in February. Inspired by Berlin’s Gemüse Kebab and the rave scene, the concept was born from one of Carter’s side projects during lockdown while Carters was closed, which operated at Escape to Freight Island in Manchester. He is collaborating for the project with DJ and producer Adam Regan, who now owns the Hare & Hounds pub. The menu will feature two kebabs and two shawarmas, made from the same high-quality ingredients as dishes on the menu at Carters. Carter said: “I am chuffed to bring One Star Döner Bar home to Birmingham. Our kebabs are as good at 2pm as they are at 2am, and I can’t think of anywhere better suited than the iconic Hare & Hounds to serve them.” Regan added: “We’ve wanted to introduce a food offer at the Hare & Hounds for some time, and we are made up that Brad will be bringing his trademark doner kebabs to the venue. We know they are going to be a big hit.”

Bloc Hotels narrows losses as it starts building back from pandemic: Bloc Hotels, which operates hotels at Gatwick airport and in the St Paul’s area of Birmingham, has reported turnover increased to £2,761,933 for the year ending 31 March 2022 compared with £2,561 the previous year as the business began building back from the pandemic. Pre-pandemic, the business was turning over about £9,000,000. Pre-tax losses narrowed to £450,896 from £1,122,743 the year before (2020: profit of £1,490,023). The St Paul’s hotel reopened on 10 June 2021, experiencing a “rapid recovery” to pre-pandemic levels of activity and “exceeding them in the second half of the year”. Due to the Gatwick hotel's position within the South Terminal of the airport, it was not reopened until 22 September 2021. The company said the delayed reopening of the South Terminal until 29 March 2022 and the discovery of the Omicron variant of covid further impacted the hotels recovery during the year. However a “dramatic” improvement in occupancy and average daily rate were seen post year-end after covid related restrictions were removed and the terminal reopened. The business received £245,170 in government support (2021: £683,615). No dividend was paid (2021: nil).

St Austell COO among two new directors at Cask Marque: Andrew Turner, chief operating officer of Cornwall brewer and retailer St Austell Brewery, has joined the board of Cask Marque. Turner is one of two new directors, with Martyn Cozens, on-trade director at Molson Coors, having also joined. Prior to joining St Austell, Turner spent 20 years with Heineken covering senior commercial roles in marketing and was latterly the trading director. “I am pleased to be joining Cask Marque and playing a part in shaping the future of cask, re-energising the category and help to continue to raise the bar on quality standards right across the industry,” he said. Cozens has spent more than 30 years in the industry and has cross functional experience at senior levels in procurement, sales and marketing and mergers and acquisitions. This led to him leading and completing the acquisition of Sharps Brewery and the Doom Bar brand in 2011 and he assumed overall responsibility for the business. Paul Nunny, founder of Cask Marque, said: “Cask exists in a challenging marketplace but has an important role to play in being the only beer unique to the British pub.”

Potential new owner found for Leicester gin distiller Burleighs after it goes into administration: A potential new owner has been found for Leicester gin distiller and retailer Burleighs, which was forced into administration. Administrators David Elliott and Bai Cham, of Begbies Traynor, said they are in talks with a possible new owner to take on the business and hope a deal will be concluded by Christmas. They were brought in as administrators for Burleighs last week following a winding up petition from HM Revenue & Customs. Burleighs website stopped taking drinks orders several weeks ago citing “unforeseen circumstances”. The administration comes after the firm posted two notices on intention (NOIs) to appoint administrators in November. The NOIs, a ten-day moratorium from other creditor action, is designed to give a business the opportunity to find a way to prevent entering administration. Elliott told Business Live: “After reviewing the company’s financial position, the directors of Burleighs concluded a successful resolution to a very long-standing debt could not be reached. As such, one of the secured lenders had no other option but to move the business into administration so a successful outcome could be reached for as many stakeholders as possible. Following the appointment, Begbies has successfully marketed the business for sale and a preferred bidder has been selected.” In 2021 Burleighs announced it had received £250,000 of investment from the Midlands Engine Investment Fund, to help it expand its market. The previous year a crowdfunding campaign brought in £130,000.

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