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Thu 12th Jan 2023 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Harden’s – cost-conscious diners exhibiting push-back against restaurants perceived as overpriced, Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles heads top 100 list: Cost-conscious diners are exhibiting push-back against restaurants perceived as overpriced, according to Harden’s Top 100 Best UK Restaurants. Last year’s list was topped by Sat Bains in Nottingham, but the restaurant, which offers ten-course tasting menus, has this year dropped out of the top 100 entirely. Harden’s co-founder Peter Harden believes this reveals a growing discomfort among diners towards those restaurants whose prices are perceived to outweigh the value of the experiences they provide. “Value is at the heart of the whole Harden’s survey system, therefore any dip in perception of value-change in the restaurants visited by our diners results in them quickly slipping down the rankings,” he said. “We’re really seeing some pricing push-back in the comments being submitted by those surveyed. We all know high quality food comes at a price and diners are accepting of that, but at the same time, we’re witnessing some restaurants charging staggering amounts that would have been inconceivable in the UK only a couple of years ago. Even if supply issues and cost pressures are the root of the issue for chefs, the resulting price hikes have happened so quickly that customers are clearly struggling to confront the new reality. Chefs are faced with a real challenge of where to draw the line and strike that balance in order to fall on the right side of customer perception, especially as the cost-of-living crisis continues to bite.” Replacing Sat Bains in the top spot is Restaurant Andrew Fairlie at The Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire, Scotland, pipping Evelyn’s Table at The Blue Posts, in London. “Chef Andrew Fairlie may sadly no longer be with us, but his spirit lives on in this restaurant which bears his name,” said Harden. “Reaching the top spot this year is a huge credit to his long-time lieutenants, head chef Stephen McLaughlin and general manager Dale Dewsbury.” Outside of London, the cities with the most top 100 listings are Birmingham and Edinburgh, with three each. The counties with the most listings are Cumbria and North Yorkshire, with four each.
 

Industry News:

Next edition of Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book to feature updated figures for 99 companies: The next edition of Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book will feature updated figures for 99 companies. Premium subscribers will receive the next edition of the Blue Book tomorrow (Friday, 13 January), at midday. It now features 692 companies that are turning over a collective £35.4bn. The Blue Book shows 406 companies in profit and 286 reporting losses. The Blue Book is updated each month and ranks companies by turnover, profit and profit conversion, listing directors’ earnings for the past five years. Propel is to add a fifth major database to its Premium service this month. The Who’s Who of UK Food and Beverage will be the first time full profiles of the UK’s top 650 food and beverage operators will be available in one place. The companies, listed in alphabetical order, will have their most recent results reported as well as broader information around Ebitda, plans and trading style available. The database has taken 16 months to pull together, merging Companies House information, interviews and other public information to provide an easy to reference and exhaustive guide to the sector. Premium subscribers also receive access to three other databases: the Propel Multi-Site Database, produced in association with Virgate; the New Openings Database and the UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database. Premium subscribers are also to be given exclusive access to the recording and slides to Propel Multi-Club Conferences. Companies can now have an unlimited number of people receive access to Propel Premium for a year for £895 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or a supplier. The single subscription rate is £445 plus VAT for operators and £545 plus VAT for suppliers. Email jo.charity@propelinfo.com to upgrade your subscription. Subscribers also receive access to Propel's library of Friday Wrap interviews and now also have access to a curated video library of the sector’s finest leaders and entrepreneurs, offering their insights on running outstanding businesses in the sector. Premium subscribers also receive their morning newsletter 11 hours early, at 7pm the evening before.
 
Caprice Holdings to speak at Restaurant Marketer & Innovator European Summit 2023, open for bookings: Simon Allison, head of marketing at Caprice Holdings, 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. Allison will discuss the tactics and strategies to marketing aspirational brands and venues. More than 50 industry and agency leaders will take to the stage over two days representing brands including McDonald’s UK, 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, 200 Degrees, 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 jo.charity@propelinfo.com
 
Hospitality employees worked longer hours to meet festive demand but recruitment challenges set to continue in 2023: Hospitality employees worked longer hours to meet festive demand but recruitment challenges are set to continue into 2023, new figures from workforce management specialist Bizimply reveal. Bizimply analysed customer data from hundreds of UK hospitality operators, equating to thousands of outlets and tens of thousands of employees. More than half (55%) said Christmas and new year trading was as strong as they’d hoped but 66% did not have enough staff available. A third do not expect front-of-house recruitment problems to improve this year, and two thirds do not expect kitchen recruitment problems to improve. The figures show average hours per employee per week increased from around 28 hours in October to around 32 hours in the second half of December. Top-end restaurants made the biggest demands on their staff, with employees in this sector working an average of 48 hours per week in the run-up to Christmas and the new year, up from 40 hours a week at the start of December. Having increased steadily throughout 2022, the number of active employees in hospitality was close to its post-pandemic high in December, matching the levels seen at the height of the summer of 2022. This was particularly true in wet-led businesses, which saw an increase of around 10% during December, compared with an increase of around 5% for the sector. There has since been a decrease in those numbers as employers plan for the traditional January lull in trade. However, after a sharp fall in the first week of January, when total active employees declined by close to 5% and average shift lengths to 25 hours, there have been signs of an upturn in the second week.
 
London hotel market sees average daily rate and revpar above pre-pandemic levels for eighth consecutive month: The London hotel market saw average daily rate and revpar above pre-pandemic levels for an eighth consecutive month in December, according to data from STR. Average daily rate stood at £206.87, up 31% on the 2019 comparable, while revpar was £158.89, an increase of 25.1% on pre-pandemic levels. Occupancy stood at 76.8%, which like the rest of the year remained below the 2019 comparable (down 4.5%). Daily data showed London’s highest occupancy levels were recorded on Saturday, 3 December (93.4%), and Wednesday, 7 December (93.7%). The market recorded daily occupancy levels of 60% or higher throughout the month with only three days falling below the 60% mark (22-24 December).
 
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a business that is a supplier to the hospitality and foodservice industry which is seeking a procurement manager. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “You will have strong project and stakeholder management skills and will be responsible for leading several procurement and supply chain projects for the company’s clients.” The salary is up to £55,000 plus benefits. The business’ head office is in Hertfordshire. For more information, email mikey@corecruitment.com
 

Company News:

Iberica looks to secure funding to open 25 restaurants in Spain over five-year period, rail strikes and staff shortages hitting business ‘hard’: Spanish restaurant group Iberica is aiming to secure funding that will allow the business to open 25 restaurants in Spain over a five-year period. Managing director Marcos Fernandez Pardo told Propel he was preparing a business plan for ICEX – a Spanish government initiative set up to support businesses to open in the country – to look at financing through COFIDES, a state-owned trading company that provides funding for businesses, and the state-owned bank, ICO, for the proposed expansion. It would involve setting up joint ventures with some of the country’s hotel chains to open Iberica restaurants. Pardo said he wanted to “spread our wings and not have all our eggs in one basket by being in one country”. He added while festive trade at its six UK restaurants had been at similar levels to 2019, the rail strikes were hitting the business hard. “We were 30% down and last week we shut our five London restaurants because it was cheaper to do so than open,” he said. “And the businesses that are suffering from the strike action are the ones that were hit hardest by the pandemic – hospitality and retail. People just work from home so they are not spending in those sectors that rely on them. Hopefully, they can resolve the dispute and trade will pick up in the spring.” Pardo said 2023 would be a “tough year” for the business with energy costs having tripled despite some of its contracts being fixed until the end of the year, while the labour crisis meant the business now only operates six days a week, with the restaurants closed on Sundays. “Getting people in is such a bureaucratic and expensive process,” he added. “It took four months just to be able to get a general manager in from Spain. The government have got to look at the system – and urgently.” Iberica also reported turnover increased 80.8% to £9,041,700 for the year ending 30 September 2022 compared with the previous year. In the last full year before the pandemic, the business turned over £10,096,200. Restaurant Ebitda rose 16.3% to £1,476,200 from £838,500 the year before (2019: £1,591,700).  

200 Degrees promotes Stephen Fern to MD: Coffee roaster and retailer 200 Degrees, which is backed by Foresight, has promoted Stephen Fern to managing director. Having held the position of financial director since 2019, Fern has taken over the new role from co-owner and chief executive, Rob Darby. He will oversee the company’s operations, growth, team and customer experience as 200 Degrees expands its shop, roast house and central teams as well as driving forward its barista school network, home subscription, e-commerce and wholesale offering. Fern said: “We have fantastic teams across 200 Degrees, and my aim will be to help facilitate each and every employee in achieving their personal goals, which in turn will allow 200 Degrees to achieve our growth and community-focused ambitions. I will continue to learn from co-owners Rob and his business partner Tom Vincent, while also building the culture and driving continuous improvements across the business.” Darby added: “As we continue to expand the business, I want to ensure we are doing everything we can to guarantee all employees, and our customers, have the same great experience. Stephen has a deep understanding of 200 Degrees and embedded himself not only in our operations, but our culture too, and is the right person to move into the managing director role as we deliver our next stage of expansion.” Founded in Nottingham in 2012, 200 Degrees marked several significant milestones last year – celebrating its tenth year in business, reaching 200 team members and opening its 18th coffee shop.
 
Ten Entertainment Group pays out more in staff bonuses in 2022 than previous ten years combined: Ten Entertainment Group chief executive Graham Blackwell has told Propel the business paid out more in staff bonuses in 2022 than in the past ten years combined. Although Blackwell would not say exactly how much had been paid, he said the “substantial sum” had been worth every penny. Speaking following the company’s full-year trading update, where the business reported a record-breaking 2022, Blackwell said: “Our staff are one of the key reasons for our success and it’s important we recognise that. Happy staff also means happy customers, and if they have a good time then there is every chance they will return.” Blackwell added its venues were now seen as being more of a “destination” rather than “just as a place to go bowling”. “If someone wants to sit in the bar and watch the football, then we offer that,” he said. “Our venues have other activities besides bowling – we provide family entertainment. People want to socialise following covid and we provide an affordable opportunity for them to be able to do so. We will continue to invest in our venues to make sure we offer the best experience possible.” The group is looking to open four new sites in 2023 but Blackwell said he believed there was “every chance” that target would be exceeded. He added: “We don’t know what 2023 will bring, but we are going into it with a strong balance sheet and brand. Our strategy is working and there is every chance we can better 2022’s results in 2023. There’s still plenty of opportunity to improve our core estate and we’re working hard to do that. While I’m optimistic about our prospects, I’m also aware of the pressures consumers are facing, and we must make sure they believe every penny they spend with us is worthwhile.”
 
Team behind Peruvian restaurant Andina launches concept in Middle East: The owners of the Peruvian restaurant Andinain London have launched a site in the Middle East under the concept. Propel revealed last summer the brand, which is owned alongside sister concept Ceviche by Alex and Saiphin Moore, founders of Rosa’s Thai, would open in Dubai’s Marina Gate area. Andina relaunched in London’s Spitalfields in 2021 and is part of the Peruvian Restaurant Group. Andina Dubai is a “cool neighbourhood restaurant and Picanteria and promises guests a unique experience with a laid-back feel where delicious Peruvian cuisine is presented in a welcoming and comfortable, yet vibrant atmosphere”. Co-owner Tom Kristensen told imagesretailme: “After ten years of operating in London, we are excited to see this milestone as the Andina journey comes to life in Dubai signifying the first step in our international growth. We could not be happier about launching in Dubai as our first international outpost. The city has a dynamic dining scene and energetic marketplace that will be drawn to our well-priced neighbourhood eatery.” Alex Moore told Propel last year the idea would be to expand the Andina brand across the Middle East “if we can make this first site fly”.
 
Jupiter Hotels returns to profit but turnover not yet back to pre-pandemic levels: Jupiter Hotels, which is owned by S Hotels and Resorts and currently has 29 UK sites under the Mercure and Holiday Inn brands, returned to profit in the year ending 3 December 2021, but turnover is not yet back to pre-pandemic levels. The company reported a pre-tax profit of £2,871,000 following a loss of £15,566,000 in 2020 (2019: £9,213,000 profit). Turnover rose 85.8% to £56,544,000 from £30,430,000 in 2020 but is still some way off the last figure before the pandemic of £81,895,000 in 2019. Average daily rate increased slightly from £60.02 in 2020 to £60.92, while occupancy was up from 26.2% to 53.6% Revpar also rose from £15.72 in 2020 to £32.68. During the year, the company sold the Mercure in Newbury for £4,275,000 – a gain on disposal of £1,168,000. Following the year end, the company completed the sales of the Mercure Hotels in Burton-on-Trent, in May 2022, for £2m, and in Watford, in October 2022, for £17m. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors said: “The company has performed positively throughout 2022 as the world returns to normality post-pandemic and combined with the successful refinancing of the [parent group] FS JV Co Group on 30 June 2022, a programme of refurbishment of the hotels has begun in 2022, which will benefit the business in the years to come.” The company received £2,205,000 in government funding compared with £6,907,000 in 2020.
 
Lane7 grows 2023 pipeline with Altrincham site: Boutique bowling company Lane7 has grown its 2023 openings pipeline after securing a site in Altrincham. The 11-strong business is the first operator signed up to take space at Bruntwood and Trafford Council’s Foundation scheme in the town, which is due to open this summer. The company will be taking over the 12,640 square-foot lower ground floor of Foundation with an eight-lane bowling destination. It will also feature American pool, shuffleboard and other games, as well as a bar and food offering. Bruntwood said Lane7 will provide an anchor for Foundation and for the Stamford Quarter as a whole, creating a “fresh new leisure offering and delivering a boost for the area as it’s set to become an all day and night destination as part of Altrincham town centre”. Graeme Smith, Lane7's chief operating officer, said: “The opportunity with this venue was exceptional and gives us an amazing blank canvas to be really creative. We opened Lane7 Manchester and the response from our guests in the city has been phenomenal since opening more than two years ago and Altrincham seemed like the perfect fit.” Propel revealed last month that Lane7, which is led by Tim Wilks, had lined up a second opening in Birmingham and a first in Bath. Will Biggart, of Torridon, acts for Lane7.
 
Cheshire piemakers to open third cafe next month following 20% year-on-year growth: Great North Pie, the Cheshire handmade pie company, will open a third pie and mash cafe next month. Propel reported last year that husband and wife team Neil and Sarah Broomfield, who started their business 12 years ago, had taken a site in Little David Street, in Manchester’s Kampus neighbourhood. It is now set to open in February, as a flagship venue to its other pie and mash shops in Altrincham and the Lake District. Neil said: “We started from scratch without any knowledge or background in food production, so we’ve had to learn everything as we go. We always try to stay loyal and work with the same suppliers to help each other and to grow with them. We’ve always invested back in the business to make it more productive and a nicer place to work for everyone. There are difficult times ahead, but we just need to focus, keep our heads down and keep on producing quality products.” The new site comes as Great North Pie announced it has achieved 20% year-on-year sales growth since 2011 and now has a team of 25 supplying 25,000 pies a week to more than 300 pubs and restaurants nationwide, including to Robinsons Brewery and Peach Pubs. It recently struck deals to supply pies to professional football clubs Leeds United and Stockport County, adding to its existing partnerships with the likes of Virgin Trains and supermarket Booths.
 
Bart & Taylor Collection to open third site: Bart & Taylor Collection, which operates sites in the south east and north of England, is to open its third site in March, in Croydon, Propel understands. The business, which is led by Andrew Taylor, will open an all-day venue, Fern, at 100 George Street. The company said the new venue would be a “seven-day operation, trading from early for commuter coffees and pre-work breakfasts, to business brunches and catch-up lunches, through to family gatherings and romantic meals in the evening”. Bart & Taylor also operates the Adam & Eve pub in Alnwick, Northumberland, and the Mr Fox pub in Surrey Street, Croydon. 
 
London McDonald’s franchisee sees profits soar as revenue almost doubles, sells restaurant for £1.3m: London McDonald’s franchisee A&L Restaurants saw its profits soar in the year ending 31 March 2022 as its revenue almost doubled. The company reported pre-tax profits of £1,996,182, a significant increase on 2021’s figure of £224,511 and almost back to pre-pandemic levels, with a £2,175,923 profit reported in 2020. Revenue increased from £11,663,733 in 2021 to £21,300,052 and was also up on the last full year before the pandemic, £20,290,986 in 2020. Since the year-end, the company sold its franchise restaurant in Kentish Town, north west London, for £1.3m. Dividends of £831,239 were paid to the director (2021: £117,077). In his statement accompanying the accounts, director Amir Atefi said: “The revenue growth in the year was also driven by a significant increase in demand for delivery and the continued benefit of the reduction in VAT to 5% up to 30 September 2021, and then at 12.5% from 1 October 2021 to the year end. The net assets of the company were £2.5m (2021: £1.7m) at the balance sheet date, reflecting the solid position from a solvency point of view, and this strong balance sheet is the foundation on which the company can continue to grow and prosper.”
 
Laros expands outside north west for fourth site: Greek street food restaurant Laros has expanded outside of its north west heartland for its fourth site, which opens in Birmingham today (Thursday, 12 January). The company, which has two restaurants in Liverpool and a dark kitchen in Manchester, will open a further dark kitchen in Birmingham’s St George’s Street. Owner Nikolaos Fylladitakis opened the first Laros in Liverpool’s Bold Street site in May 2021 and expanded into Manchester later that same year before returning to Merseyside in September 2022 for an opening in South Liverpool. “We’re very excited to be bringing Laros to Birmingham for the first time and to introduce the city to authentic Greek street food that we create,” he said. “This is a huge step for us, having a presence outside of the north west, and myself and the team couldn’t be more delighted to have landed in Birmingham, a bustling city that’s bursting with an exciting and diverse culinary scene.” The menu will include Laros’ chicken and honey or pork and tzatiziki gyros as well as its souvlaki skewers. Vegan options include courgette fritters, tomato cakes, falafel, and oyster mushrooms. Laros will be available to order via Deliveroo and UberEats initially, and will also soon be available on Just Eat too.
 
New immersive games concept secures space at Islington Square: Energize Games, a new immersive games concept from the team behind the Breakin’ Escape Rooms business, has secured space for its debut site within the Islington Square development in London. Cain International has let 7,800 square feet within the development to Energize Games, which is the brainchild of Stefan Vargolici, who also operates the Breakin’ Escape Rooms concept in London’s Holloway Road. The new concept will see teams of players compete in a technologically state-of-the-art room in challenges that test them both physically and mentally through activities such as jumping, ducking, throwing and moving quickly, finding patterns and working together. Energize Games expects to open its debut arcade in the first quarter of this year. Vargolici said: “Kickstarting 2023 with this unique concept, we knew we had to find a location with an innovative spirit that would appeal to people hungry for new experiences, and Islington Square checked all the boxes in providing exactly that. Following the success of our Breakin’ Escape Rooms experience, we are confident that the launch of this new concept driven by consumer demand for experiences that emphasise mental and physical wellbeing will be equally enjoyed by our fans, as well as a new generation thanks to Islington Square’s compelling customer base.”
 
Hospitality group Selina opens HOWN restaurant in Liverpool: Hospitality group Selina has opened the first UK restaurant under its HOWN concept in Liverpool. The new restaurant has opened at the Selina Hotel in Mount Pleasant, Liverpool, and aims to “offer warm and welcoming spaces, where tourists and locals alike can share small and larger plates featuring ingredients and cuisines relevant to the area”. HOWN, which already has sites in North and Latin America, comprises an all-day restaurant, coffee and cocktail bar, with a flexible working and events space. Selina currently has a portfolio of circa 150 open or secured properties across 25 countries and six continents. At the end of 2019, it signed an £80m, five-year partnership with UK-based investment company Cogress to fund expansion. The deal saw Cogress become Selina’s exclusive funding partner with the aim to kick-start the Latin American start-up’s expansion into the UK and Portugal.
 
Hallsworth confirms March launch for Freak Scene comeback: Former Nobu head chef Scott Hallsworth has confirmed he will bring his pan-Asian concept Freak Scene back in March. Propel revealed last week that Hallsworth had secured the former Quadra site in Parsons Green Lane, London, for the return of the concept. It previously operated as a pop-up in Farringdon, in 2017, before a permanent site opened the next year on the ex-Barrafina site in Frith Street, Soho. However, this site did not reopen post-covid lockdown. Seating will be split between a bar/counter and traditional restaurant places, with 46 covers, while a “creative small plates menu” will feature Freak Scene favourites with a refined, elevated twist, alongside fresh and seasonal sushi, sashimi and fish dishes. Freak Scene is inspired by Hallsworth’s experience in Japanese, Singaporean and Malay cooking, and its return comes following a partnership with Australian comedian and Freak Scene fan, Adam Hills. Hallsworth, who also founded Japanese rock ‘n’ roll concept Kurobuta, has most recently been operating the Double Dragon pop-up in Clerkenwell.
 
St John to operate all-day cafe and bar at new arts venue in King’s Cross: St John, the restaurant concept from Fergus Henderson and Trevor Gulliver, is to open an all-day cafe and bar at The Lightroom – the new arts venue in London’s King’s Cross. The company behind The Lightroom also operates The Bridge Theatre in the capital, where St John already runs a cafe and bar. The Lightroom cafe and bar – which will open on Wednesday, 22 February – will offer a range of snacks along with doughnuts and fresh madeleines, reports Hot Dinners. 
 
Black Country pub group sees revenue approach pre-pandemic levels again: Family brewer and pub operator Bathams, which has been in operation for nearly 150 years, saw an increase in revenue and profits in the year ended 30 June 2022. Turnover for the period was £5,281,435 compared to £2,879,540 in the year to June 2021, with profits before tax increasing from £705,355 to £1,082,254. Dividends totalling £500,388 were paid. The growth in revenue saw the group return close to pre-pandemic levels – revenue in the year to June 2020 was £4,698,597 (2019: £6,235,187). In the accounts, the directors identified the expanding number of micro-breweries and micro-pubs as a potential future threat to the business, as well as progressive taxation and duties being imposed on the industry. Founded in 1877 by Daniel Batham, the company is now in its sixth generation of ownership by the family and runs 12 pubs around the Black Country, while supplying beer to establishments across the country.
 
London kosher restaurant Novellino to open in Hove for third site: London kosher restaurant Novellino is to open a third site, in the city of Brighton & Hove. The company is launching at the Jewish-led housing development in New Church Road, Hove. The kosher bistro restaurant, cafe and sushi bar aims to open in March. Novellino Brighton will be run by Gordon Ramsey trained chef, Yanir Mrejen, who helped launch Novellino Bistro in London. He told Brighton & Hove News: “I hope our restaurant will bring good competition to the restaurant scene in the city. As the only kosher restaurant in Brighton & Hove, I want to go beyond what people expect.” During the day, Novellino Brighton will operate as a contemporary cafe serving breakfast and lunch, and in the evening, will serve a fusion of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine. Novellino operates its eponymous restaurant and a separate bistro in Golders Green, north west London.
 
West Midlands McDonald’s franchisee reports 50% sales growth as profits increase significantly: West Midlands McDonald's franchisee A&S Restaurants reported 50% sales growth in the year ending 31 December 2021 as the company saw its profits increase significantly. A&S, which operates seven branches in the region and is owned by Ronald McDonald House trustee Afia Sirkhot, saw turnover rise 50.8% from £25,247223 in 2020 to £38,073,218. It was also up on the last pre-pandemic figure of £29,263,429, reported in 2019. Pre-tax profits rose from £1,045,420 in 2020 to £3,723,291 (2019: £752,692). The company said it has positive cashflows and a balance sheet showing net assets of £3,900,320, an increase of £2,304,515 on 2020. It received £374,798 in government grants compared to £1,679,104 in 2020. The directors’ report stated the company had invested self-service kiosks and digital drive-thru lanes, which “continued to have a positive impact on sales growth”. Sirkhot, who has been a McDonald's franchisee for 20 years, was the first Asian woman to run a McDonald’s franchise globally and her business employs approximately 600 members of staff.
 
Brend Hotels sees profits soar as turnover exceeds pre-pandemic levels: Brend Hotels, which operates a portfolio of 11 three and four-star hotels in Devon and Cornwall, saw its profits soar in the year ending 31 March 2022 as turnover exceeded pre-pandemic levels. The company, which was founded by butcher Percy Brend in 1955, reported pre-tax profits of £6,110,756, up from £737,399 in 2021. In the last full year before the pandemic, ending 31 March 2020, it made a pre-tax loss of minus £492,539. Turnover increased from £18,473,298 to £44,220,154. This was also up in the last pre-pandemic figure of £38,295,040 in 2020. It received £1,404,256 in government grants compared to £8,259,978 in 2021. Director John Brand, in his statement accompanying the accounts, said: “The directors are satisfied with the results for the year, and as expected, turnover returned to better than normal levels. In respect of the year 2022/23, turnover is similar to last year as operations have been open for the whole of the financial year. However, with the VAT rate back to 20% since April, the turnover will be lower than 21/22 by the end of the financial year. The general economy and fluctuating energy prices are affecting the discretionary expenditure of our customers and is having an impact on our costs of running the hotels. The government assistance on energy costs is useful but relatively short-lived. The directors expect the latter will affect profitability for 2022/23 but are optimistic that the results will still be positive. The directors anticipate that our loyal customer base and normal summer season demand will maintain turnover at normal levels. However, increased wage costs and utility costs, together with further inflation, will impact on profitability.”

SA Brain closes Cardiff Bay venue: Welsh brewer and retailer SA Brain has closed its Cardiff Bay venue The Dock. The bar and restaurant overlooking the docks and bay at Mermaid Quay announced the news on Facebook. It said: “Cardiff Bay loses precious cargo. It’s with a heavy heart we announce our time has come to an end. Thank you for all of the memories. We have loved hosting your celebrations, dancing and dining with you. We would like to thank you for your support and custom over the years. From all of us at The Dock, may you have fair winds and following seas!” The venue opened in 2016 after a £1.25m refurbishment. At the time it said it would offer “eclectic food and drink menus themed on world discovery, from its iconic waterside location”.

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