This is the final Propel newsletter of 2022. We would like to take this opportunity to wish our readers a happy and healthy Christmas and new year
Story of the Day:
Icelandic superfood bar concept looking to break into UK market in 2023, franchisee could open ‘significant number of stores within M25’: Icelandic superfood bar concept Ísey Skyr Bar is looking to break into the UK market in 2023, with one franchisee planning to open “a significant number of stores within the M25”. Offering a menu based around the yogurt-like staple Icelandic dairy product of skyr, the concept currently has 15 venues in Iceland, Finland and the Netherlands. It is now looking to expand to the UK and other territories through a franchise model. “Our ambition is to bring Ísey Skyr Bar to many countries – but we are growing in a controlled way so we can provide the support our franchisees deserve,” managing director Sigríður Jónsdóttir told Propel. “Obviously, we want to leverage the success of the Ísey retail brand, which is already available in 20 markets, so these will be the first ones we enter. Ultimately, the number of stores we open will be limited by demand, but with nine already open in Iceland (with three more opening very soon) with a total population of just under 400,000 there’s plenty of room for growth! Having established a presence in Iceland, Finland and the Netherlands, we are now looking to launch our franchising opportunity in the UK. We are currently in discussion with a number of investors who are really interested in our concept, service offering and franchise structure. We hope to have our first franchisee signed in 2023, and we are currently in advanced discussions with a development franchisee who will open a significant number of stores within the M25. We are also talking to potential partners in Germany, France and Singapore. While we are expecting the UK to become the next market where Ísey Skyr Bar establishes itself, we are continuing to see our concept become even deeper embedded in the markets that we already occupy. At the end of November, we opened our second location in The Netherlands, further affirming our mission of becoming available in more markets anywhere in the world.” Founded in 2017 and first opening as a pop-up at Keflavík airport, the company said it has increased its global skyr sales by 20% over the last year and expects this to continue going forward. Jónsdóttir added: “It’s no longer just about the viability of a concept, as more and more, consumers are seeking a hospitality experience with a story. For centuries, skyr was the cornerstone of the Icelandic diet, which allowed Nordic settlers to not only survive but thrive in harsh weather conditions. Over time, the recipe was forgotten in other Scandinavian countries, but thanks to Icelandic mothers passing the recipe on to their daughters, real Icelandic skyr is still made using the original methods that date more than 1,000 years. Not only has this enabled Ísey Skyr to become a market leader but it is the only real Icelandic skyr exported globally.”
Sponsored message – book your late Christmas work party now at Boxpark:
With Christmas nearly upon us, the hospitality industry has seen a busy December with the World Cup being a big focus for pubs and bars. January is the perfect time to book your work party when the sector has a bit of “downtime” and your employees might benefit from a motivational boost post-Christmas and new year celebrations. At Boxpark, you can host the “ultimate work party with an incredible array of global cuisine, exclusive drinks packages and great entertainment to get your team in good spirits”. A Boxpark spokesperson said: “We have three sites across London and at our amazing Wembley venue, you can even find unique activities such as virtual reality gaming, axe-throwing and a dedicated neon themed PlayBox area with all the best tabletop games. You can choose from a smaller scale gathering or a full venue takeover for up to 2,500. Bookings for January are now available.” For further information, click here
. If you have a sponsored story you would like to see featured in this newsletter position, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Popeyes UK to speak at Restaurant Marketer & Innovator European Summit 2023, open for bookings:
Vicky Barber, marketing director, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen UK, 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. Barber will discuss how the business is balancing efficiencies with customer experience in delivering effective technologies. 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, Searcys, Press Up Hospitality Group, Vapiano, 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 email@example.com.
Warfield – F&B offering just as important as the entertainment for experiential concepts: The food and beverage offering is just as important as the entertainment in the ever-growing market for experiential concepts, Troy Warfield, chief executive of The Social Gaming Group (TSGG), has said. The gastro-gaming concept earlier this year made its UK debut with an Oche venue in London’s Strand, which offers interactive darts as well as a premium menu. “We’ve created this concept of gastro-gaming,” Warfield told Propel. “We took insights from guests that used other competitive socialising experiences, which told us that if you could combine the entertainment with a food and beverage experience, they'd be delighted. We’ve now got Michelin-starred and gastronomically trained chefs, and they curate our menus and train the chefs we bring on board. We still have all the classics, all the things you’d get at any competitive socialising place, but we also have another elevated option, and we have many people coming in just to eat and not play any darts. We serve food at the oche, but we also have dining areas away from the boards. We still cater for people who just want comfort food, but we’re probably the only experiential concept to have two tasting menus. We’re also really conscious in our pricing that it’s not gastro food at gastro prices – four sharing plates and a dessert for under £20 – we want it to be an experience for everyone.” Warfield said the London venue has 15 oches for six to eight people and a further 40 traditional covers, both of which will turn that over two to three times a night, meaning a typical evening will see about 450 come through the door. Those guests, given the venue’s proximity to London’s theatres, often include stars of West End shows. “We’ve had West End singers come in wandering around and getting people involved,” Warfield added. “You need those USPs, and this was true to the postcode.” Warfield told Propel last month that TSGG aims to eventually grow to 100 bars worldwide, and it last month opened its seventh venue, an Oche in Singapore.
Campaign for Pubs urges government to take action to stop spate of small brewery closures: The Campaign for Pubs has written to the government urging it to take action to stop the spate of small brewery closures. The organisation said there have now been more than 80 small independent brewery closures this year, with the current level of energy prices and the cost-of-living crisis seeing many brewers shut down. The letter to chancellor Jeremy Hunt and secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy, Grant Shapps, calls for an extension of business rates relief to small brewers; further and “more meaningful” action on energy bills for businesses; changes to draught duty relief to allow pubs to sell takeaway cask/draught beer; and changes to the Deposit Return Scheme to make it work for smaller brewers, as opposed to only working for big brewers. Phil Saltonstall, brewer co-ordinator of the Campaign for Pubs and a founder of Brass Castle Brewery, said: “The growth of small breweries in the UK has been a major success story. The government is now in serious danger of actively allowing this important growth industry to fade away. Small businesses like ours need dedicated and ongoing help with rising energy prices and certainty over planned policy measures, to know what our costs will be in the medium term and to allow us to chart a course through the current storm.”
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with an events business in the south west of England that is seeking a director of operations. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “You must come from a strong events background, with excellent leadership skills, and can really hit the ground running. This is a hands-on role with fantastic opportunities for progression within this growing company. The ideal candidate will have experience as a senior operations manager or director. Experience within an events or catering business is essential and you must be confident in all aspects of financial planning.” For more information, email Marlene@corecruitment.com
Domino’s opens 1,200th UK store: Domino’s Pizza has opened its 1,200th store in the UK. The landmark was reached with the launch in Newtown in Wales, which has created 30 jobs and is part of the company’s wider growth plans in mid-Wales and surrounding areas. Newtown is the fourth store opened by long-standing franchise partner, Shayban Alibrahim, in the last two years. Domino’s interim chief executive Elias Diaz Sese said: “This milestone comes at the end of another exciting year for Domino’s. I’m very proud of all the business has achieved over the last 12 months, thanks to the hard work of our franchise partners, like Shayban and his family, together with the UK and Ireland Domino's team. We have made impressive progress in executing our strategy, and we are looking forward to many more store openings in 2023.”
Roxy Leisure to launch new family bowling concept King Pins next year: Roxy Leisure, the operator of the Roxy Lanes and Roxy Ballroom concepts, is to launch a new family bowling format called King Pins, next year, in Manchester, Propel has learned. The Foresight-backed business will launch the new format at Trafford Palazzo, within Trafford City, in the spring. The company said: “King Pins is the evolution of the family bowling alley and aims to become the UK’s premium choice for bowling in high-footfall shopping centres, out-of-town retail, and on the high street. Daytimes will be predominantly family trade but when the night comes it will morph into an adult-based offering.” The new venue will feature 15 tenpin bowling lanes and six duckpin bowling lanes. The company is currently seeking two food partners to join the new opening. Matt Jones, founder and chief executive of King Pins, said: “We are excited to be launching our flagship venue in Manchester. The venue will be family friendly during the day with plenty of activities. When the evening comes the lights will go down, the music will go up, and the atmosphere will become electric.” Last month, Roxy Leisure opened its first Scottish site, in Edinburgh. Located in Rose Street, the 300-capacity venue is its 13th altogether and includes eight full-sized bowling lanes. It also brings batting cages to Roxy Lanes for the first time, and features Edinburgh’s first ice-free curling lanes. The business plans to open five sites next year, including a first opening in Wales, in Cardiff’s Queen Street, and a second site in Birmingham.
TRG extends debt facilities: The Restaurant Group (TRG) has amended and extended its debt facilities. The revised £340m package comprises a £220m term loan facility and a £120m revolving credit facility (RCF) with its existing lenders. This represents a circa £21m early repayment of its previous facilities. TRG said it continues to have a strong liquidity position with more than £140m of cash headroom. TRG stated: “This provides the group with an additional two years of debt facilities with the maturities of the term loan and the RCF extended to April 2028 and March 2027, respectively. The covenant package provides additional covenant headroom for the group until March 2025. For the next financial year, the group’s net leverage covenant (as measured on a pre-IFRS 16 basis) shall be set at 5.0 times for the June 2023 covenant test (previous position 4.5 times) and 4.75 times for the December 2023 covenant test (previous position 4.0 times).” As previously reported, TRG has purchased interest rate caps that reduces the risk of interest rate changes on its debt over the next four years.
Döner Shack – hitting headline numbers is good, but we’ve been able to sustain them: Sanjeev Sanghera, founder of Berlin fast casual kebab concept Döner Shack, has said while it was pleasing to hit headline numbers with his latest opening, sustaining them has shown his business is going in the right direction. The company reported record breaking numbers when it opened in Glasgow in October with a footfall of more than 2,500 in its first week of trading. “The key word here is sustained level of business,” Sanghera told Propel. “A lot of brand owners forget when you’re developing a brand, the big push for the big opening is always exciting, and it’s always good to hit those headline numbers, but can you continue to sustain the business with just these numbers? We’ve been able to do this with each of our restaurant launches, so it’s a step in the right direction. The business has grown to a place where we are now able to do everything we want, with the resources and right team in place to be able to do a really strong pre-launch and post-launch strategy, and this is certainly reaping the rewards. The standard is set and there’s a level of expectation in the team now.” Sanghera would be delighted to see records broken when Döner Shack launches its next site, a flagship venue in London’s Baker Street, in late January. “This restaurant opening has taken longer than we had expected, with one of the hold-ups being able to get a three-base power supply,” he said. “There was an element of frustration, but when the engineer told us he was having to disconnect the power supply from a number of independent businesses, it grounded us and made us realise how lucky we were to still be in position to be opening new stores. We’re taking 2,500 square feet over two floors and had to think how to combine the kitchen and front of house when they’re on different floors. We’ve labelled it an ‘innovation store’ as we’ve got camera systems set up behind the main order so we can switch between our adverts, products and the kitchen. Customers will be able to see their food being prepared and the chefs will then see the customers waiting so neither side feels disconnected. Being from a chef background, I know it can be quite challenging working in basement kitchens for long periods of time! We also have a travellator that takes the food up to the first floor, plus a little bit of animation and theatre. It’s going to be a very exciting restaurant and we can’t wait to see it full of customers enjoying the experience. It will really be putting a marker down as to how we can grow the business off the back of that.”
More than £3.5m owed by Boujee when it went into administration: More than £3.5m was owed by Boujee, the north west bar and restaurant concept, when it entered administration, it has been revealed. Boujee had operated three venues in Liverpool, Manchester and Chester before being forced to close two and the other was bought. The company's first venue opened at the end of 2020 at Liverpool ONE but closed in August 2022. Its Manchester site opened in Bridge Street in May 2021 but closed in October this year shortly after Real Wives of Cheshire star Lystra Adams resigned as a director. The company's Chester venue opened in November 2021 in Pepper Street and was acquired in October this year by one of the founding directors in a move that secured the jobs of all 32 staff. Boujee was set up in September 2020 by Stephen Cliff, with Minesh Parekh and Adams joining as directors two months later. Administrators Dow Schofield Watts said in their report the Liverpool site was forced to close on 30 December 2020, because of covid-19 restrictions and could only reopen on 17 May 2021. The administrators added throughout late 2021 and early 2022, the Liverpool venue was “failing to achieve its expected turnover” and the company accumulated arrears of rent with the landlord and also fell into arrears with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) over VAT and PAYE payments. The Liverpool venue shut in July 2022 after the landlord was not willing to enter into a new lease agreement because of the rent arrears and all staff were made redundant. The administrators said: “The company's financial position continued to deteriorate with turnover significantly reducing across the Chester and Manchester venues. As a consequence, the company was unable to discharge trade creditor payments.” After Dow Schofield Watts was formally instructed to assist the company in September, its Manchester venue closed, with all staff made redundant. As previously reported, Zobra Conference and Events, whose sole director is Parekh, acquired the company's Chester site for £75,000. The report showed unsecured creditors were owed more than £2.8m but the administrators said it is “currently expected realisations will be insufficient to allow a distribution”. HMRC was also owed £802,783 but it is also currently expected there will not be enough money for a repayment. While a dividend will be paid to former employees who are owed almost £50,000 collectively, how much they will receive is “currently uncertain”.
Schroders pays €260m for two Hoxton hotels: Sharan Pasricha, the entrepreneur behind Gleneagles and the Hoxton hotel chain, has collected an estimated €260m by selling the underlying assets of the hotels in Amsterdam and Paris. The near €1m per room paid by Schroders, the buyer of the two properties, is thought to be the biggest per-room price ever paid in Europe for a hotel without suites, reports The Times. It is understood the £230m deal, brokered by Eastdil Secured, will have no impact on the management of the two Hoxtons, which will continue to be run by Ennismore, the lifestyle hotel joint venture set up last October by Pasricha and French hospitality company Accor. There are currently 12 Hoxtons, with the latest opening being in west London. There are another ten in the pipeline, including in Brussels, Vienna, Edinburgh, Berlin and a second in Amsterdam, all opening next year. When Pasricha set up the joint venture, he and his family retained ownership of the assets under a holding company, Norlake Hospitality. It is understood in light of the price reached, he may look to sell other Hoxton assets next year. The original Hoxton hotel in Shoreditch, east London, was established by Pret A Manger co-founder Sinclair Beecham. After buying the first Hoxton, Pasricha acquired the Gleneagles hotel from Diageo in 2015. The Indian-born entrepreneur is co-chief executive of the Ennismore venture alongside Gaurav Bhushan, head of Accor’s lifestyle division. Accor is Europe’s biggest hotel group, and the brands it has injected into the joint venture include 25hours, SLS, Mama Shelter, Mondrian, Delano and Hudson.
Papa John’s tops-off 2022 with six new stores: Papa John’s has served up six new store openings to top-off 2022. The pizza franchise is now open for business in Hailsham, East Sussex; Biggleswade, Bedfordshire; Stowmarket, Suffolk; Consett, County Durham; Burntwood, Staffordshire; and Frome, Somerset. Amit Pancholi, director of business development, Papa John’s UK, said: “We’ve had a bumper December with 11 stores opening and six in the two weeks leading up to Christmas. Our teams are now looking forward to serving all those customers with our quality pizza over the festive period. We have seen demand increase over the years, and we now have well over 500 stores across the UK. For us, it’s all about being where our customers are and so we are now opening up in more compact trade zones to minimise delivery times and offer even more convenience for people across the UK.”
Cameron Ventures Group sells Best Western hotel in Suffolk: Cameron Ventures Group, which owns and operates hotels in East Anglia, has sold the Best Western Brome Grange Hotel, near Eye in Suffolk, for an undisclosed sum. The property has been bought by Instol Group, which also owns and operates a country house hotel near Bristol, in a deal brokered by Christie & Co. The 44-bedroom hotel has been extensively refurbished and extended since it was acquired by Cameron Ventures Group in 2012 and has a three AA star rating. The hotel features a lounge, restaurant, and spa facilities, together with the Tithe Barn, a wedding and events space. The deal leaves Cameron Ventures Group with three hotels – in Bury St Edmunds, Ipswich and Stowmarket.
North Brewing Co to open Manchester taproom next month: Leeds brewer and retailer North Brewing Co will open its new site in Manchester next month. The company, which operates eight bars across Leeds and Harrogate as well as a taproom at its brewery, is launching the venue at the new Circle Square development in Oxford Road on Tuesday, 3 January. The site will have 100 seats inside, space for an additional 40 standing guests and a large outside seating area. The bar will have draught 24 lines showcasing the core range from its Leeds brewery, alongside limited-edition specials and guest beers, which will be served alongside an extensive and ever-changing line-up of wine, cocktails, cider and spirits. Fellow Leeds concept, Little Bao Boy, will be taking care of the food menu, serving contemporary Asian street food daily. A small selection of sides will include gyoza and loaded fries, as well as occasional specials. The taproom will also sell takeaway beer and gluten-free and alcohol-free options. Last month, North Brewing Co, founded by John Gyngell and Christian Townsley in 1997, opened a site at One Snowhill in Queensway, Birmingham, as it expands outside its West Yorkshire heartland.
Liverpool hotel operators set to double up with second site in city: Liverpool hotel operators Rob Edwards and James Winters, of Edwards Winters Developments, are planning to open a second site in the city. The pair opened The Phoenix Hotel in March 2020 after investing £1m in a dilapidated former pub at 46 Foley Street North, Kirkdale, which had stood empty for two decades. The 19-bedroom hotel and pub was forced to close once more on the same day it launched due to the first covid lockdown but has since reopened. Winters and Edwards have now invested a further £500,000 in the creation of the Phoenix Pods, which they plan to launch as a 32-bedroom venue on the edge of Liverpool city centre.
Yorkshire McDonald’s franchisee opens eighth restaurant: Yorkshire McDonald’s franchisee Anne Wainwright has opened her eighth restaurant with the chain. She has opened a site in Shaw Cross, Dewsbury, creating 120 jobs and offering dine-in, takeaway, delivery and click-and-serve services. It also features self-ordering kiosks, an outside patio area with a children’s play area and a drive-thru with smart digital menu boards. Wainwright told the Yorkshire Post: “We are delighted to open another new McDonald’s restaurant in Yorkshire. People are at the heart of our business, and we’re committed to investing in our people no matter their age, life stage or background, promoting flexibility and opportunity.”
Kent Turkish restaurant chain set to open fourth site: Kent Turkish restaurant chain A La Turka is set to open a fourth site. Owner Mehmet Dari, who also has branches in Canterbury, Herne Bay and Ramsgate, will open his latest restaurant, in a former Job Centre in Whitstable High Street, today (Friday, 23 December). The restaurant, which is spread over two floors and will have covers for 150 including outside, had been due to open a year ago but was delayed due to being designed differently to his other sites. “The Whitstable branch is more upmarket and modern rather than traditional,” Dari told Kent Live. “The other ones are more authentic with the Turkish lights and atmosphere, but this one is more modern-looking. I think it will brighten up Whitstable, it will make it a more upmarket area. We have spent a lot of time and the costs have been big.”
German Doner Kebab opens restaurant in Winchester: German Doner Kebab, owned by Hero Brands, has opened a restaurant in Winchester. The company has launched the venue through franchise partner Khan Group in the Hampshire city’s high street. German Doner Kebab now has more than 130 restaurants worldwide.
Bradford Indian restaurant opens second site in city after 46 years: Bradford Indian restaurant International, which has had a presence in the city for almost 50 years, has opened a second site there. It has spent £350,000 to acquire and renovate the former Three Singhs site in Sticker Lane, which has 280 covers and features a large bar and waiting area at the front. International manager Safeer Khan confirmed it would continue to operate its existing 110-seat restaurant in Mannville Terrace, Morley Street, which first opened in 1976. “Everybody can’t wait, we have been around for a long time,” he told The Bradford Telegraph and Argus. “We are not big enough at Morley Street, we decided we needed a bigger place, and it was too good an opportunity to turn down. To take us to the next level, it’s something that we needed. Over the last four years we have just excelled and been really busy. As long as it is financially sustainable, we will be keeping them both open.”
Michelin-starred chef makes restaurant debut: Michelin-starred chef Amy Stone has opened her own restaurant with her partner, in Eastbourne. The couple, who have spent more than a decade working in the industry, previously ran The Hide and Fox in Kent, earning it a Michelin star and three AA rosettes. They have now opened Journeys Wine Bar and Restaurant in Station Parade in the East Sussex town. The venue specialises in premium and organic wine with a selection of small plates and sharing boards. The couple said: “It (The Hide and Fox) wasn’t established at all before, but we worked so hard, and it was very rewarding. Seeing that achievement was really inspiring and made us want our own place. It felt like it was time to open our own place and work for ourselves.”
XP Factory to finish 2022 with Boom Battle Bar opening in Stevenage: XP Factory will finish its 2022 roll-out with an opening for its Boom Battle Bar concept in Stevenage, Hertfordshire. It will open in the former Bar & Beyond site in Stevenage Leisure Park on Friday, 30 December, offering axe-throwing, augmented reality darts, curling, shuffleboard and beer pong among other games. It will be a 27th site for the concept following recent openings in Southampton, Leeds and London’s Oxford Street. The flagship Oxford Street site covers 15,000 feet and also houses an Escape Hunt venue.
Self-taught London baker finds permanent home for bakery, coffee shop and dessert bar concept: Self-taught London baker Francesca Strange has found a permanent home for her The Proof concept. Strange has opened the bakery, coffee shop and dessert bar in Dalston Square. It has a big focus on profiteroles, with customers able to choose fillings, sauces and toppings, as well as cakes, available whole or by the slice, reports Hot Dinners. There are also cafe staples such as sandwiches, sausage rolls and avocado on toast.
Health club and spa operator upgrades Ipswich site after securing £2.3m funding package: Health club and spa operator Mosaic Group has upgraded its Riverhills site in Ipswich after securing a £2.3m funding package from Lloyds Bank. The company, which operates 15 health clubs and day spas across England, has doubled the capacity of the venue as part of the refurbishment programme. Having bought the property in June last year, the revamp includes a mud serail chamber and an outdoor relaxation area with fire pits. In addition to these new facilities, the existing reception and cafe bar area has been revamped. The business now has more than 2,100 members, which is above pre-pandemic levels and is the highest it has been since Mosaic acquired the club. Plans are also in pipeline to roll out further expansions and improvements at two of the group's other sites, Holmer Park in Hereford and The Shrewsbury Club in Shrewsbury. For the latter, which has more than 5,500 members, Mosaic already has plans in place to bring forward an additional swimming pool and develop a new 150-room hotel. Dave Courteen, managing director at Mosaic, said: “The pandemic reinforced the value of health clubs, both for physical and mental health. As we move on from the last two years, our members’ needs have also changed. We’re increasingly seeing members spend the day with us to relax, get fit, and also work.”