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Mon 16th Jan 2023 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Report forecasts UK foodservice industry to grow by 2.3% in 2023: Despite economic headwinds, a new report forecasts 2.3% growth for the UK hospitality and foodservice market in 2023. The ‘Changing Landscape of the UK Hospitality/Foodservice market’ report, produced by sector analyst and FutureFoodservice founder Simon Stenning, forecasts total market valuation for all hospitality/foodservice for 2023 to grow to £98.6bn, rising above pre-covid levels for the first time. However, as a result of the challenging conditions in the market, the total number of outlets will shrink slightly by 0.3%. The report shows that in 2022, there was a +27.6% increase over 2021 as the market recovered with a full year of relatively uninterrupted trading, despite dramatically increased inflation from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the resultant far higher cost of living/squeezed disposable incomes. But the £96.4bn of revenues in 2022 were still -1.6% lower than in 2019. The report states that due to economic headwinds squeezing consumer spending and business profitability, nearly 1,000 sites will close. At the same time, inflationary increases, inbound tourism and returning city centre usage will all help drive total market growth. The 120-page report says volume has dropped out of the market, and not just from city centre usage; habits have changed, and consumer behaviour is now forming a new normal. It says: “Volumes will remain muted in 2023, predominantly caused by macro-economic factors. However, there will be some increases in customer volumes returning from global inbound tourism, continuing returns to city centres, and from overall, general population growth.” It also describes growth from emerging segments and concepts, while many independent operations either close or move to a franchised, branded format. It states: “Net outlet growth will be seen in certain sectors, such as retail high street cafés and roadside dining, providing consumers with more options and relevant concepts, and there will be continued polarisation in the market between value-driven social refuelling and experiential, premiumised dining.” Concerns right now are for the effects the current economic challenges of energy costs, rising food costs and soon-to-be increased minimum wage will have on foodservice trading, let alone profitable trading. And yet, the report forecasts the market to grow in 2023 and onwards to 2026. Stenning said: “The hospitality and foodservice industry continues to face enormous challenges, with high energy costs, rising food and drink costs and shortages of labour, but also with customers being squeezed with their disposable incomes. The industry is not helped by reducing levels of government support, despite it being an important employer and tax generator. This is a cautious forecast, wary of how consumers are being affected, and recognising that not all businesses will survive the challenging conditions.”
 

Industry News:

Propel to launch The Who’s Who of UK Food and Beverage this week, fifth major database for Premium subscribers: Propel will launch The Who’s Who of UK Food and Beverage on Friday (20 January) – the first time full profiles of more than 650 of the UK’s top food and beverage operators will be available in one place. It is the fifth major database exclusive to Premium subscribers. 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, which will be updated monthly, 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 four other databases: the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book; 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.

Coco di Mama to speak at Restaurant Marketer & Innovator European Summit 2023, open for bookings: Sara McKennedy, commercial brand director at Coco di Mama, 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. McKennedy will discuss the business’ omnichannel evolution. 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, Caprice Holdings, Searcy’s, Press Up Hospitality Group, Vapiano, Popeyes UK, Inception Group, Oakman Group, New World Trading Company, 200 Degrees, Chestnut Group, 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 and Flat Earth Pizzas. 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

Gaynor Mary Warren-Wright joins Propel as its Diversity, Equality and Inclusion advisor: One of the UK’s leading commercial lease arbitrators, Gaynor Mary Warren-Wright, has today joined Propel as its Diversity, Equality and Inclusion advisor. She is a former senior director at CBRE and the sole principal of Warren Wright Associates. Gaynor is also the first transgender arbitrator appointed by the RICS Dispute Resolution Service. Part of Gaynor’s role at Propel will be writing a regular Friday Opinion that will reflect on diversity issues but also tap into her vast experience of the property world in general, and commercial leases in particular. Propel managing director Paul Charity said: “We are delighted to welcome Gaynor aboard. Gaynor has already given me many hours of her time, provided me with an array of reading material and offered me her personal views and insights on a range of diversity issues. At very short notice, she arranged for myself to meet with a large team of experts at the London Transgender Clinic in central London as part of a process by which the team at Propel is seeking to deepen its understanding of inclusivity issues.” Gaynor Mary Warren-Wright said: “I am very pleased to accept Propel’s invitation to become its DE&I advisor. I am a big believer in education as a driver in the process of change. A big part of my role will be advising the team at Propel. It will also be a chance to share my views and experience with the wider hospitality community.”

UKHospitality – latest GDP figures ‘once again underline the importance of sector in driving economic growth and recovery’: UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls has said the latest GDP figures “once again underline the importance of hospitality in driving economic growth and recovery”. Figures from the Office for National Statistics showed the economy grew by 0.1% in November, boosted by people packing pubs and bars to watch the World Cup. Nicholls said: “The World Cup provided a significant boost in November, with pubs and bars reporting sales up 30-40% on matchdays. This once again shows the power of big sporting events, even in the winter, and the important role our venues play in bringing communities together. However, the figures also highlight the impact strike action had on the sector, and the cost of lost sales is likely to be set out more starkly in next month’s figures. While hospitality has yet to recover to pre-covid levels, in real terms, these figures demonstrate the role the sector can play in boosting the economy. While times are challenging right now, with the right support and investment, the sector can both survive and thrive; delivering long-term economic growth, creating jobs and continuing its tradition of investing in our communities.”

Seren Collection follows four-day week with staff profit-sharing scheme: Seren Collection, operator of luxury hospitality venues in south west Wales, is following the adoption of an optional four-day week for staff by introducing a profit-sharing scheme for employees. Director of operations Thomas Ferrante said the group had looked at ways in which to tackle staff shortages after the “perfect storm” of Brexit and covid left the industry was on a “knife-edge” in terms of worker numbers. Ferrante said the group introduced a four-day working week post-covid, with staff able to opt-in but still retain their weekly hours and wage, and from this year, it has also launched a staff profit-sharing scheme. “What’s nice about what’s happened is it has made us and the industry in general look at how we remunerate staff, at working conditions and benefits,” Ferrante told the BBC. “Hospitality had been getting better, and there was a push to being a generally happier, nicer place to work – but nowadays we’ve gone even further.” The Celtic Collection group, which includes the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport, has focused on employee benefits like free access to online GP appointments and financial advice, while introducing more flexible shift patterns. Hannah Elliott, the group’s talent and development director, said: “We’ve probably had to adapt and try more initiatives to attract and retain people in the last two years than we ever have. We’ve had to evolve in terms of trying to get rid of some of the traditional ways of working in hotels such as split shifts, which no longer exist. From a people perspective, if you stay still with your resourcing and your talent attraction strategy, you will not survive.” Heaneys restaurant in Cardiff has turned office space above its premises into a three-bed flat, which is let to employees at more than 50% below market rates. Owner Tommy Heaney, who has also reduced the length of shifts for staff, with some working four-day weeks, said: “It’s helped with retaining staff and it’s benefitted all parties. We looked at the bigger picture. If I’ve got guys coming in doing five 16-hour days, yes it saves you money, but in the long term they’re not going to stay – so you’ve spent time, energy and money on their training, but you're going to lose them.”

Sector needs additional financial incentives to aid transition to net zero, BBPA tells government: The sector needs additional financial incentives to aid its transition to net zero, the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) has told the government. Chris Skidmore MP’s Net Zero Review, published on Friday (13 January), called for the government to move “further and faster” to realise the economic benefits from the net zero transition. The report sets out 129 recommendations designed to ensure the UK seizes the opportunities associated with the development of a green economy. It also calls on the government to not only stay the course with its 2050 net zero commitments, but accelerate decarbonisation efforts or risk the UK being left behind by its competitors. BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin said: “The review broadly aligns with the view and steps taken to date by the pub and brewing sector, who are determined to play their part in making Britain a world leader for environmental sustainability and are already innovating within their businesses to become greener. It is evident the sector needs additional financial incentives from government to aid its transition to net zero, and we would the urge the government to be mindful of placing any more complex regulatory frameworks upon businesses which will hinder their ability to flexibly deliver on net-zero ambitions.” UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls added: “In our submission to the review, we called for more financial incentives to support hospitality’s transition to net zero, particularly given its vulnerability to high energy prices, which the report noted. We also support the recommendation of a wide-ranging review of the planning system, to support net zero. The planning system as it stands is far too bureaucratic and is in need of streamlining to maximise the economic and sustainable benefits businesses can offer.”

Lack of business support ‘unfairly hindering sector in Scotland, says UKHospitality: A lack of business support is unfairly hindering the sector in Scotland, UKHospitality has warned. It said as a result, the country’s industry is now operating at a significant disadvantage to its counterparts in England and Wales. In a letter to the Scottish government’s finance and public administration committee, UKHospitality Scotland highlighted the urgent need for short-term business rates relief. It said Scottish businesses have not benefitted from any business rates relief since June last year. In comparison, English businesses have been supported by relief since the pandemic and will continue to be supported by up to 75% relief on business rates in the coming financial year. In addition, the UK government’s plan to significantly reduce the energy support available to businesses from 1 April will deliver a major financial blow to Scottish hospitality, the trade body said. UKHospitality Scotland executive director Leon Thompson said: “The decisions facing Scottish hospitality businesses early this year are stark and will prove fatal for many. While no business in the UK is free from the effects in inflation, it’s becoming clear the inaction and lack of business rates relief from the Scottish government means we are falling quite sharply behind England and Wales. This has to be avoided at all costs. In the long-term, the lack of parity we see in the business rates system between nations underlines its ineffectiveness and the need for complete root and branch reform.”

BBPA – training and awareness more effective in combating drink spiking than imposing general conditions: The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) has told the government that training and awareness are far more effective in combating drink spiking than imposing general conditions on venues. There was disappointment last week, including from the Night Time Industries Association, when the government said it would not create a specific offence for spiking, despite last year committing to look at new legislation. The government’s position was confirmed in a letter from Home Office minister Sarah Dines to Labour MP Dame Diana Johnson, published last week. The letter said the Home Office would undertake a consultation on amending the Licensing Act 2003 so the guidance “could include explicit reference to spiking, providing a government definition of the crime, highlighting the existing offences which can be used to prosecute incidents of spiking, including examples of spiking and providing signposting to resources for venues”. But BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin said: “Tackling drink spiking is an important issue and one that our members take extremely seriously as part of their wider responsibility to ensure pubs are safe and welcoming spaces for customers and team members, and we support incorporation of drinks spiking within this guidance. However, any measures introduced to prevent incidents and to support victims must be based on actual evidence, so that they are both effective and proportionate. Partnership working, staff training, and customer awareness are key and more effective than imposing general conditions on all venues, which we would not support at this point.”

Comprehensive L&D programmes more important than ever for staff retention: A comprehensive learning and development (L&D) programme is more important than ever for sector businesses, according to COREcruitment. The international hospitality recruitment specialist is focusing on this “important and sometimes undervalued function within the service industry” in its January salary checker focus. Abbie Brennan, HR and marketing specialist consultant at COREcruitment, said: “With many people leaving the hospitality sector in the last two years, it is now more important than ever to provide a comprehensive L&D programme for your staff. Not only for those at entry level, but for those at management level and beyond. A solid L&D structure gives employees an opportunity to carve out a clear career pathway, improves job satisfaction and therefore leads to good staff retention. Investing in a solid L&D programme and upskilling staff also leads to improved employee performance, which directly leads to increased revenue for the business. A win-win.” A 2023 salary checker for L&D functions in hospitality includes new site trainer (£30,000-£35,000), training manager (£35,000-£40,000), L&D manager (£35,000-£55,000), regional/group L&D manager (£55,000-£70,000), head of L&D (up to £85,000) and director of L&D (£85,000+).

Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a leisure company with several venues across London and the UK looking for a head of sales to help the business expand. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “You will be strategic, motivational, proven and passionate. People will be key, and you will thrive in a role that enables team and individual success. You will be able to develop and deliver structured growth across key sectors and achieve key targets. As we know, good salespeople are all about relationships, and this will be exactly that. You will be able to identify synergies and create opportunities while contributing heavily to the direction and growth of the overall business.” The salary is up to £90,000 and the position is based in London, with multiple locations. For more information, email sophie@corecruitment.com
 

Company News: 

Simmons Bars sees ‘exceptionally strong’ Christmas trading, in legals on four sites: Simmons Bars, the 25-strong London cocktail bar operator, has told Propel that Christmas trading across its business was “exceptionally strong despite the challenges from the rail strikes and World Cup (which we chose not to show)”. The Nick Campbell-led company, which is backed by Lonsdale Capital Partner, said total sales were up 89% for the five-week period to 1 January 2023 versus the comparative period in the prior year and 181% up on the comparative period in 2019. Like-for-like sales were up 22% on prior year and up 18% on 2019, with 11 sites breaking their weekly revenue records. Campbell told Propel: “We're proud to say that the growth was all achieved with absolute baseline price increases; only taking a 2% increase at the start of the financial year in April 2022. Again, New Year’s Eve was a great success, with all 25 venues completely selling out prior to the event and revenues increasing by 35% vs. 2022 and +128% versus 2019. January trading has started well, despite the further train strikes, and we currently sit ahead of budget for the year. Our latest new site in Holborn continued its excellent start and was 81% ahead of its Christmas sales budget, which was great to see.” Campbell said the “search for new sites continues”, with four venues currently in legals. Last month, Propel revealed the business had completed the refinancing of its banking facilities with OakNorth Bank. The expanded £5.5m facility further strengthened the group’s balance sheet and supported its new site opening programme. In October, the business said it planned to double its estate to more than 50 sites over the next three to five years. 

Wagamama appoints Matt Crumpler as new CFO: Wagamama, The Restaurant Group (TRG)-owned brand, has appointed Matt Crumpler as its new chief financial officer, Propel has learned. Crumpler has been finance director at TRG since April 2019 and initially joined the business at the start of that year as financial controller. He was previously financial controller at Virgin Active for more than five years, and before that a senior group reporting manager at Whitbread for more than two years. Crumpler will replace David Di Cello at Wagamama, who has decided to leave the business to explore a new challenge. Di Cello joined Wagamama at the end of the first quarter of 2020 from Pret A Manger, where he led the EAT integration and served as finance director and interim chief financial officer. He has also held senior finance roles at Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s and BT.

Penegor – we are excited for UK growth, set to open first drive-thru: Todd Penegor, chief executive of Wendy’s the third-largest quick service restaurant chain in the US, has said the business is “excited for all the growth that’s ahead” for its UK market “in 2023 and beyond”, including its first drive-thru restaurant here, which is expected to open in the coming weeks. Talking after the group’s Q4 update, Penegor said: “Our international business continued to achieve outstanding results supported by growth across all our regions. This sales strength further bolsters our confidence in accelerated international expansion in the coming years. Turning to the UK, we have grown the market to a footprint of almost 30 restaurants in well under two years. As of year-end, this includes 12 company-operated restaurants as well as our first traditional franchise-operated restaurant. We are excited for all the growth that’s ahead for this market in 2023 and beyond, including our first drive-thru restaurant, expected to open in the coming weeks.” The company’s first UK drive-thru is expected to open at Northern Gateway scheme in Colchester, and it is also thought to have lined up a further drive-thru site on Derby’s Normanton Road. Last month, the company opened its first traditional franchise site in the UK, in Sheffield. Square Burger, which is from the team behind the Papas Fish & Chips business, opened a Wendy’s in Sheffield’s High Street, with a further site set to open in the former Monsoon Store, in Lincoln’s High Street. Wendy’s has so far approved six franchisees, who will take on territories including Scotland and Wales. A further franchisee, Blank Table Ltd, which is believed to have secured an agreement to open sites under the brand across the East of England is also believed to have lined up a site at Brampton Hut services at Huntingdon and already accommodates a McDonald’s, Burger King and Brewers Fayre.

Rowe’s Cornish Bakers posts record profit for second successive year, ramping up supermarket concessions roll-out in 2023: Rowe’s Cornish Bakers, the Falmouth-based baker which boasts circa 20 UK bakery shops and two production sites, has posted record profits for the second successive year and said it is ramping up its supermarket concessions roll-out in 2023. The company reported pre-tax profits of £1,933,267 in the year ending 4 July 2022, a 38% increase on last year’s record figure of £1,401,230. Turnover also rose by 26% from £22,095,603 in 2021 to £27,837,614, exceeding pre-pandemic levels (2019: £22,570,864). This included a 28% rise in its retail estate and 25% in wholesale. The company received £11,172 in Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme payments compared to £815,837 in 2021. In his statement accompanying the accounts, director Kerry Lynch said further growth would come through the supermarket concessions roll-out. According to the company’s website, it is currently present in 12 Tesco and three Adsa stores, in addition to its own bakery shops. “In the first quarter of 2023, we have invested in launching a number of new supermarket concessions in the wider south west region,” he said. “This exciting business model provides a fast-track opportunity to develop highly profitable new markets. We have committed capital in quarters two, three and four to further extend this offering through both new supermarkets and geographical locations. First quarter 2023 results demonstrate continued profit growth despite significant supply chain global inflation. A first quarter roll-out of new retail outlets and offering through supermarkets, both in and out of Cornwall, has delivered our brands to new markets and provided the template to further profitably expand this channel.”

Former Merlin Entertainments president joins Zip World as CEO: Former Merlin Entertainments US president Adrian Jones has joined adventure tourism operator Zip World as chief executive. Jones, who has more than 30 years’ experience in the sector and played a key role in Merlin’s growth in the US, joins Zip World amid ambitious growth plans for the company, which operates 23 adventure activities across multiple UK sites. The company, which launched ten years ago, plans to open more sites on top of its current seven, and Jones is relocating from the US to the Conwy Valley, north Wales, to oversee it. Jones, who started out as general manager for Madame Tussauds Las Vegas and went on to lead the opening teams for the first Legoland Discovery Centre in Chicago and Madame Tussauds Hollywood, became president of Merlin Entertainments USA in 2017, overseeing more than 30 attractions, including Madame Tussauds, Sealife and Legoland Discovery Centres. He said: “Having the opportunity to work on an incredible portfolio of outstanding brands and alongside such a talented and dedicated team is a perfect foundation for growth as we look to expand our existing sites and develop future opportunities.” Sean Taylor, Zip World's founder and president, added: “The appointment of Adrian signifies Zip World’s intent and ambitions to continue on its growth journey. We’re very fortunate to have Adrian onboard, his exposure to big brands in this space will add a layer of expertise which will help shape Zip World’s future.” Last October, Zip World announced it had returned to profit for the first time since 2018 and reported a 180% jump in revenue for the year ending 31 December 2021, citing a rebound in the UK leisure market following the lifting of restrictions.

Sticks’n’Sushi to focus on Greater London openings as UK turnover tops £44m: Sushi chain Sticks’n’Sushi said its next phase of growth will be to add further restaurants in Greater London and continue to explore further delivery only kitchens in key strategic areas, as its posted full-year turnover of more than £44m in the UK. For the year to 30 June 2022, the business, which opened its tenth UK site at the end of last year at Westfield in London, achieved a turnover of £44.0m compared to £26.4m in the financial year 2020/2021. The company realised an Ebitda of £8.8m against £6.5m the year before and an equity of £9.6m compared to £4m the year before. Pre-tax profit for the year stood at £7.07m (2021: £4.77m). The company said: “Our UK restaurants are experiencing a solid like-for-like growth both in terms of increased guest numbers as well as actual sales. This is encouraging for the future years of growth in the UK. We believe we have a very strong portfolio of restaurants, which consist of a good variety of larger and smaller restaurants within London and outside the city. We are continuing exploring further opportunities for both new restaurants and delivery kitchens in London in 2022/2023. We will continue our long-term digital investment programme to enhance our guests’ digital experience with even more convenience and smoothness, to meet the growing expectations from our guests in relation to online ordering of take-away and delivery food. An important part of the group’s strategy is to expand internationally, with restaurant openings in European city metropoles. The first phase of the strategy plan was to build a strong business platform in and outside London, with planned opening of ten to 15 restaurants. Hereafter, the next phase of growth will be to add further restaurants in Greater London and continue to explore further delivery only kitchens in key strategic areas. Internationally, we opened our third Berlin restaurant in October 2022, with a plan to add another to add further restaurants in Berlin in the near future.”

Croeso Pubs secures former Brains pub for sixth site: Cardiff-based Croeso Pubs, led by Craig Davies and Simon Little, has secured its sixth site after adding the former Marston’s Brains pub The Dock, in Cardiff Bay, to its portfolio. Originally opened as Terra Nova, the bar underwent a £1.25m refurbishment in 2016 and was renamed as The Dock. Now it will be run by the team, which already operates The Philharmonic, Brewhouse, Retro, Blue Bell and Daffodil in Cardiff. It isn’t the first Brains pub that Croeso Pubs has taken over as it refurbished the former Goat Major pub on the city’s High Street and reinstated it to its original name of the Blue Bell in 2021. Davies said: “I remember when the pub first opened, how busy it was and how key it was to any night out in Cardiff Bay, so we were very sad when we heard that it was closing. We felt if we jumped in and took over the bar, we could really make a difference and turn it around, and so decided to go for it.” Little added: “It is a massive venue that has huge potential, and we can’t wait to get it open again and return it to its rightful place as the number one venue in Cardiff Bay. We are offering all former staff members their jobs back as well as creating around 20 more full time and part time positions. The Dock will be open for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner using local fresh produce with a menu created by our very own executive chef, Jamie Newman. We look forward to welcoming former regulars and new customers through the doors on 26 January.”

Shoryu Ramen sees losses narrow but turnover remains behind pre-pandemic levels: Shoryu Ramen Restaurant Group saw its losses narrow in the year ending 31 December 2021, but turnover remains behind pre-pandemic levels. The group, which operates nine restaurants in London and one each in Oxford and Manchester, as well as three further delivery-only sites, saw its pre-tax losses come down from minus £2,138,759 in 2020 to minus £450,319. This compares to a profit of £833,103 in the last full year before the pandemic, ending 31 December 2019. Turnover rose from £6,969,359 in 2020 to £10,043,968 but remains behind the last full pre-pandemic figure of £17,954,842 in 2019. The company received £734,804 in government grants (2020: £1,614,046). The group has net current liabilities of £1,499,189 (2020: £1,143,949) but overall net assets of £ 518,395 (2020: £928,317). A five-year Recovery Loan Scheme (RLS) loan of £750,000, included in creditors falling due within one year, has been reclassified to creditors due within one year due to a covenant breach, and the bank has “indicated it is possible that the same will apply for the financial year ended 31 December 2022”. A letter of comfort states it “does not intend to take any potential action as a result of the identified or potential future breaches.” During the year, pandemic related disruptions and closures saw the mature locations record a sales decline of 44.8% compared to pre-pandemic levels, while the emerging sites recorded a decline of 55.1%, and the out of London locations recorded a 38.1% decline. The New Oxford Street site permanently closed in October 2021, with the lease being surrendered in March 2022. Like-for like-sales for the year declined by 47.4% compared to pre-pandemic levels. In his report accompanying the accounts, director Kunizou Tokumine said: “The directors estimate a 5.6% reduction in like for like sales in 2023 compared to the pre-pandemic level based on the underlying assumptions any further covid variants will be less severe, government effectively control inflation and the socio-political environment in the UK and internationally does not deteriorate. The directors have also taken into consideration factors that may slow down the pace of central London footfall recovery where most of the trading sites are located, such as resurgences in new covid-19 variants, trade union strike action, higher than normal summer temperatures and heatwaves as seen in 2022, slower than expected return rate of workers and city offices adopting hybrid working models. The success of the DIY meal kit launch and test-kitchen-only operations in 2021, and the launch of the first full franchise site in Kensington High Street, are testament to the company’s commitment to bring high quality authentic Tonkotsu ramen, creating unique and engaging experiences to its growing customer base.”

Tortilla set to open in Derby: Tortilla, the UK’s largest fast-casual Mexican restaurant brand, is set to become the latest tenant at Derby’s flagship retail and leisure destination, Derbion. It will open at the shopping centre next month, joining the likes of Popeyes and Burger & Sauce as recent additions. Derbion has invested more than £3.6m in its food offering in the past few years and recently spent £2m on food court refurbishments. Adam Tamsett, centre director of Derbion, said: “We’re delighted to announce that Tortilla will be arriving to our Food Terrace. We’re committed to bringing a range of dining experiences to our visitors and we’re confident that Tortilla will be a big hit.” Jason Thomas, chief operations officer at Tortilla, added: “We can’t wait to introduce our brand to Derby. We look forward to welcoming plenty of happy customers in store and playing our part in this thriving community.” Tortilla earlier this week announced UK like-for-like revenue growth of 16.0% on FY19 and a FY22 performance in line with market expectations. Following the trading update, chief executive Richard Morris told Propel the business is refocusing on its in-house service and standards, and said delivery is now 30% of its sales.

Manorview returns to profit as turnover exceeds pre-pandemic levels: Scottish independent hotel group Manorview returned to profit in the year ending 31 March 2022 as turnover exceeded pre-pandemic levels. The group, which grew its estate to 11 hotels during the period with the acquisitions of the Brisbane House Hotel in Largs and the Bothwell Bridge Hotel in Bothwell, made a pre-tax profit of £1,509,889. This compares to a loss of £2,281,022 in 2021 and is also up on the last pre-pandemic figure of £787,622, in the year ending 31 March 2020. Turnover grew significantly from £2,448,656 to £16,659,529, which is also an increase on the 2020 figure of £14,789,198. The company received government grants of £698,005 (2021: £3,386,846) while Ebitda rose from minus £0.69m to £4.6m. Staff levels grew from 412 to 550. Founder and director Steve Graham, in a report accompanying the accounts, said: “Postponed wedding business from 2020 was a main driver in the strong trading performance, albeit there was significant challenge to deliver services including supply chain, labour market and the coronavirus variant Omicron, which caused disruption during the winter months. The board is pleased with the company’s performance, and in particular the management of costs and cashflow during this period.” As well as adding two new hotels, Manorview completed a full refurbishment of the Redhurst Hotel in Glasgow, where first year trading has since been positive. It also completed the development of seven luxury lodges at Cornhill Castle and refurbished the spa and swimming area at Bowfield Hotel, including a new cafe, leading to a 50% rise in memberships. The Redhurst also got a new garden area and honeymoon suite, while The Torrance Hotel’s honeymoon suite received a makeover. Planning applications are in place for new cabins at Cornhill Castle, lodges at Bowfield and a new honeymoon suite at Brisbane House. During the period, the company committed to paying the Real Living Wage and scrapped all individual financial incentive schemes, replacing them with competitive salaries and a collective reward through an annual profit share scheme payment. “Our belief is one common reward will enhance our culture and teamwork ethos,” Graham added.

Just Eat launches grocery delivery partnership with Sainsbury’s: Just Eat has launched a grocery delivery partnership with Sainsbury’s. The partnership will launch with more than 175 stores by the end of February in locations including London, Edinburgh and Bristol, with plans to roll out to more cities and towns across 2023. With more than 2,000 grocery sites already on the platform, Just Eat said this marks a significant step in its plan to expand its grocery offer even further and to give customers “the greatest choice and convenience”. The partnership will widen the range of products available, starting with more than 3,000 items ready for consumers to buy online. Amy Heather, director of strategic accounts at Just Eat, said: “Just Eat’s grocery offering is going from strength to strength and continues to be an area of significant focus. We’re excited to be working with Sainsbury’s to bring even more choice and flexibility to our customers when ordering the food and products they want, when they want.” Siobhan McMullan-Finnegan-Dehn, director of e-commerce at Sainsbury’s, added: “Just Eat will offer another fast and convenient way for customers to get Sainsbury’s groceries delivered to their door.” Just Eat Takeaway already supports more than 30,000 grocery and convenience stores on its platforms globally.

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