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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Thu 5th Jan 2023 - Penny Manuel to step down as Soho Coffee Co MD
Penny Manuel to step down as Soho Coffee Co MD: Penny Manuel will step down as managing director of privately-owned coffee company, Soho Coffee Co, at the end of the month. She will move to the position of advisor to the UK group board, supporting the company’s next phase of growth. Propel understands her replacement will be an external appointment and will be announced in due course. Manuel acquired the company with her business partner, Chris Copner, in 2006 and has since grown it from a four-store business based in the south west of England to a portfolio of more than 40 directly owned and franchised stores, with an international footprint and turnover of £36m. It secured Qatari investment in 2015 but remains privately-owned and was the first high street chain to offer triple-certified coffee. Manuel said: “I am extremely proud of what my energetic and enthusiastic team has achieved – their openness, trust and pride have and continue to inspire me. Resilience and continued investment in innovation over a tricky three years ensures Soho still has its wings and is poised to grow under new leadership.” She added that she is especially proud to have led a business with a “positive gender gap and a cardboard to coats sustainability initiative, supporting underprivileged primary school children”. Last summer, Soho Coffee Co launched its new small footprint concept aimed at the travel market, Soho Piccolo, with a debut site at Northampton Railway Station. Soho Coffee Co 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 to upgrade your subscription.

Sukho Group reports ‘strongest ever sales year’, in advanced talks to open two new northern sites in first half of 2023: Sukho Group has reported its “strongest ever sales year” and a significant increase in Ebitda, and said it is in advanced talks to open two new northern sites in first half of 2023. The restaurant group, which is comprised of the Zaap Thai and Sukhothai brands, has reported an increase in sales from £5.5m in 2021 to £13.5m in the year ending 31 March 2022, “showing the group’s resilience and strength after what was an exceptionally tough period battling restrictions”. Compared to the groups last full year of normal trade, sales have increased 31% from £10.4m in the year ending 31 March 2020. Group Ebitda has also increased from £1.1m to £3.2m in the year, showing a strong return post-covid. In April 2022, the group was able to repay in full the term loan taken out at the time of the management buyout in April 2019, one year ahead of schedule. During the year, the group completed a rebrand of the Sukhothai site in Headingley (Leeds), converting it to a Zaap, since when takings are 2.5 times those of previous levels. The group also opened its sixth Zaap Thai site during the year, in Sheffield, with trade going “very well and exceeding initial expectations”. The group is now in advanced discussions to open two new sites, in the first and second quarters of 2023, in two major northern target cities, and is “well positioned to capitalise on any further new opportunities that may present themselves in 2023 and beyond”. Group managing director Gerrard Marks said: “Following a very difficult period, we’ve bounced back with our strongest ever sales year and a significant increase to our Ebitda. We’ve recently opened our ninth site Zaap Sheffield, creating over 20 new jobs, with trade currently exceeding expectations. We’ve also been focusing on improving our existing sites infrastructures and investing in strengthening our teams. We’re extremely optimistic about our future, with potentially two more sites lined up for early 2023. However, we’re under no illusion the next few months will be difficult for our industry, and we’re more focused than ever to keep offering fantastic food and service to our guests and creating a memorable experience every time.”

Pure to double sales to more than £20m in 2022 as it eyes pre-pandemic level of £25m, enters into new £1m facility with existing shareholders: Healthy food-to-go group Pure has said that its sales in 2022 doubled to over £20m as it continued its recovery from the impact of covid on the business. The 19-strong group reported turnover for the year to 30 December 2021 of £9.63m, with a pre-tax loss of £3.45m (2020: £4.96m). The company had been expecting sales of £35m in 2020 but was hit by the covid pandemic – it had seen sales of £25m in the year to 26 December 2019. The company, which closed two sites during 2022, said: “Pure’s recovery from the impact of covid-19 has been long, slow and unpredictable. In this context, achieving sales of nearly £10m in the year to 30 December 2021 was a significant achievement. During the very short restriction-free period from the end of July to the end of November, the company saw lots of encouraging signs that the work undertaken on operations, menu and marketing during the quieter periods of the year were resonating with its customers. This has been very evident in the company’s continued recovery in 2022, which has seen sales doubled to over £20m. During 2021, Pure also took the opportunity to define its growth opportunities for the future with its three different operating models: high Street, high footfall travel and B2B catering hubs. Defining these three models, each with their own menu and operating model, gives Pure significant opportunities for future growth. Although 2021 was not a return to the growth trajectory of early 2020, it once again showed the resilience of Pure’s team and the great affection that customers have for the brand. With a belief that the high point for working from home has taken place and that consumer trends towards eating healthily and sustainability are as strong as ever, there are exciting growth opportunities for the pure team in 2023 and beyond.” Last month, Pure entered into a £1m facility agreement with its existing shareholders, of which £500,000 was drawn by the end of the year.

Ole & Steen reports turnover almost back to pre-pandemic levels as it narrows losses: Danish baker Ole & Steen has reported turnover close to pre-pandemic levels as it narrowed its losses in the year ending 31 December 2021. Revenue was up 117% from £8,104,431 in 2020 to £17,626,566 and was just short of the last pre-pandemic figure of £19,359,301, reported in 2019. Pre-tax losses were down from minus £447,036 in 2020 to minus £256,148 (2019: minus £203,502). Average employee numbers, which remained at 224 through 2019 and 2020, dropped to 199. The company received £294,759 in furlough payments (2020: £1,754,635) and £522,259 in other government grants (2020: £55). Since the year end, the company has added a further five sites and finished 2022 with a total of 21. It is also lining up openings in Guildford, Henley, Marlow, Greenwich, Kingston, Blackheath and London Wall.

Leon giving away free coffee at self-serve kiosks every Friday in January: Natural fast food brand Leon will give away one free coffee per customer from its self-serve kiosks every Friday in January. Starting today (Friday, 6 January) and running to Friday, 27 January, the offer will be available from Leon’s circa 65 self-serve kiosks across the country. All hot drinks are included in the deal, in any size, with the option to add syrup free of charge too. A company spokesman said: “For every seven cups of coffee served from kiosks on Free Coffee Friday, Leon will save 1m2 of rainforest. We are delighted to invite guests to enjoy a coffee on the house, safe in the knowledge that they are saving the rainforest and their wallet with every cup.” It follows Leon’s announcement in November that the business will more than double the number of its self-serve coffee kiosks in the UK to over 200 before the end of January. The new machines will primarily be in additional convenience stores of owner EG Group, along with a large rollout in Asda supermarkets.

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