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Thu 19th Jan 2023 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Majority of Byron business acquired for £856k, £2.5m of working capital to be made available: The majority of the Famously Proper business, which operated the Byron and Mother Clucker brands, was acquired out of administration for a total consideration of £856,000, Propel has learned. Last week, Tristar Foods, a new company owned by Sandeep Vyas, co-founder of Calveton, the parent company of Famously Proper, acquired 12 of Byron’s 21 sites as part of a pre-pack administration process. Propel understands that of the total consideration paid £800,000 was for goodwill and intellectual property. A report by administrators Interpath states: “The consideration for goodwill and intellectual property is a fixed charge realisation and relates to the procurement by the purchaser of the release of £800,000 of secured indebtedness owed by the company in respect of the vendor loan notes.” The remaining consideration of £56,000 is a floating charge realisation and was paid in cash on completion of the deal. In addition, under the terms of the purchaser’s offer, it is anticipated that working capital of £2.5m will be made available to the business. The report states: “The company faced challenges trading in its first financial year ended July 2021 which included periods of national lock-downs as a result of covid-19. However, performance improved, and in the five months ended December 2021, the company was making positive Ebitda each month. However, recent financial performance reflects a decline since the start of 2022 driven by the rising costs of the business (primarily food and utility costs) together with a reduction in customer spending as a result of the current cost-of-living crisis. Against this backdrop, the company generated an Ebitda loss of £1.6m in the year ended 31 July 2022.” In the year to July 2022, Famously Proper posted turnover of £31.4m (2021: £19.9m), with losses of £1.6m (2021 (£600,000)). The restaurants transferring to Tristar Foods are the Byron sites in Bury St Edmunds, Cambridge, Edinburgh Royal Mile, Ipswich, Liverpool, London – Central St Giles, London – Covent Garden, London – Old Brompton Road, London – White City, Norwich, Oxford and York. The remaining nine restaurants closed with immediate effect. They are Bluewater, Chelmsford, Edinburgh Lothian Road, Leeds, London – Wembley, Manchester, Milton Keynes, Salisbury and Southampton. Of those nine, Propel understands that Savills has been appointed to market six – Chelmsford, London – Wembley, Manchester, Milton Keynes, Salisbury and Southampton – plus the Mother Clucker site in Islington, and a Mother Clucker delivery kitchen unit in Wood Green. It is thought that Byron will continue to be led by chief executive Gavin Cox, who joined the business in the summer of 2021. 

Industry News:

Propel’s The Who’s Who of UK Food and Beverage to launch on Monday: Propel’s The Who’s Who of UK Food and Beverage will launch on Monday (23 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 and will feature more than 165,000 words of content. 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 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.

New World Trading Company to speak at Restaurant Marketer & Innovator European Summit 2023, open for bookings: Alex Hardcastle, activations and partnerships manager at New World Trading Company, 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 open for the two-day conference as the centrepiece of the January event series, taking place next Tuesday and Wednesday (24 and 25 January) at One Moorgate Place in London. Hardcastle will share his top tips for building brand awareness and visitation for new openings. 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, Coco di Mama, Oakman Group, Searcy’s, Press Up Hospitality Group, Vapiano, Popeyes UK, Inception Group, Incipio Group, 200 Degrees, Chestnut Group, Peggy Porschen Cakes, Krispy Kreme, KellyDeli, Red Engine, East Coast Concepts, 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

Christie & Co – distress hasn’t materialised with pubs but more restaurant CVAs set to come: Stephen Owens, managing director of pubs and restaurants at Christie & Co, has told Propel distress hasn’t materialised with pubs and values have held up reasonably well, but warned that he expects more restaurant CVAs in 2023. Speaking as Christie & Co releases its Business Outlook 2023 report today, Owens said: “The first half of the year for pubs pretty much carried on where 2021 left off, with strong interest from pub companies looking to acquire quality premium pubs, so we saw the imbalance between demand and supply continue, and that kept pricing relatively strong. The second half of the year saw a more cautious approach, but what we didn’t see was a whole raft of property come on the market, so the supply side was still fairly restrictive. Even though there was more caution, we didn’t necessarily see that translate into prices and values being reduced or held back significantly. Volumes held up well in the first half of the year and was probably impacted in the second half. Every year we keep predicting distress which never seems to arrive. We still have operators out there who are acquisitive, but what has changed is we’re seeing more property come to the market. If you see a dramatic increase in supply, that may impact on prices. Those are the two key things to keep an eye on – is that supply side going to change dramatically and is that distress side going to take hold in 2023? I think we’re seeing some evidence of that in restaurants, but we’ve not seen that kind of activity in the pub sector. There’s lots of different factors at play, but from a property perspective, that supply side is still very tight, and there’s still good demand for quality assets. On the restaurant side, we’ve already seen a number of CVAs, and I don’t see that diminishing. What we’ve seen on the restaurant side is volumes decreasing. Freehold restaurants are still very popular, and there are a number of opportunities available from restaurants who have been through CVAs. So, where you see some positive price movement on pubs, we’ve seen a marginal negative price movement on restaurants, and that’s probably balanced out by freeholds holding up reasonably well.” According to the report, freehold restaurant sales showed a 30% increase in transactional volumes in 2022, with prices achieved within 10% of the final asking price. But 85% of transactions being cash funded caused offer levels to drop and saw the number of leasehold restaurant transactions with a premium at an all-time low. Christie & Co also saw a 29% increase in new instructions for pubs compared to 2021, and a 4.8% increase in those achieving their asking price. Overall, 87% of pubs sold were purchased for continued use as a pub and just 5% were distressed sales. Freehold pub assets remained most attractive to buyers, although there was still demand for free-of-tie leasehold sites in prime locations. And while deal times remain protracted and soaring interest rates and difficulty in pricing debt has dampened the mergers and acquisitions market, Christie & Co expects this to pick up in 2023.

Sector businesses who received insurance settlement because of pandemic losses entitled to more money, claims loss assessors firm: A UK firm of loss assessors, Salmon Assessors, has said hospitality firms who received a settlement from insurers because of pandemic losses are entitled to more money. The firm is starting a nationwide advertising campaign aimed at the 370,000 firms – including thousands of hospitality businesses – whose business interruption claims in relation to covid lockdowns were initially refused by their insurers but upheld by the Supreme Court decisions. The campaign is branded Chief executive Jeff Salmon told Propel: “We now believe every business that made a successful business interruption claim after the Supreme Court judgement, is due a further significant payment – over and above any settlements that insurers have already made. The additional payment is due even though insurers have already settled most claims.” Salmon stressed the additional payment only relates to successful claimants – it does not apply to those insurers that did not have to settle claims because of the wording of their policies. Salmon added: “We have already helped one of our clients, who we used as a test case, to achieve a very sizeable additional settlement from a major insurer after receiving what her insurers had already deemed a total settlement. We have every confidence we can replicate this success for all policyholders we will be representing. BIClaimBack centres around our belief that every policyholder who was subjected to an inordinate wait for their claims to be met, through what was determined by both courts to have been an incorrect decision by those insurers not to have settled promptly, should receive appropriate compensation for their decision.” Salmon Assessors is working on a “no further settlement – no fee” structure. Salmon Assessors represented 720 businesses between 2020 and 2022, negotiating business interruption claims.

Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a premium restaurant concept that is looking for a head of operations. The company operates three sites with a view to expanding in the near future. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “This is a strategic role, ensuring sites are coming in at the right place and planning for future openings. You will be able to run a P&L; be strong at marketing and looking for new revenue streams; be able to create memorable experiences, helping to live and breathe the company ethos through your people. You will have two to three years’ experience at operations level. This must be within a quality led premium restaurant group. You will be a leader and a mentor, standards driven and not afraid to get stuck in and lead by example.” The salary is up to £75,000 and the position is based in London. For more information, email

Company News: 

Pasta Evangelists launches own takeaway service, plans to open more than 800 takeaway units: Pasta Evangelists has announced the launch of its own takeaway service in London, with an ambition to cover all major UK cities by mid-2023 and plans to eventually open more than 800 takeaway units. The company, which was founded in 2016 by Alessandro Savelli, first entered the takeaway market with a single unit in East London with Deliveroo, but now operates more than 30 takeaway units across the capital. It said the successful launches of its London kitchens paved the way for generating high footfall across some of the UK’s biggest cities including Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Nottingham, Cambridge and Bristol. Savelli, managing director of Pasta Evangelists, said: “Pasta has previously been seen as the last frontier in takeaway due to its notorious difficulties with being transported and maintaining its temperature for last mile delivery. Since we started experimenting with takeaway with Deliveroo a few years ago, we have managed to overcome the challenges faced by other brands in the industry using a test-and-learn strategy, carefully calibrating and adapting our range to ensure we only offer the highest-quality sauce and pasta combinations which can stand up to delivery.” The launch comes after a period of rapid growth for Pasta Evangelists. Following a majority stake sale to Barilla in 2021, in a deal worth around £40m, Pasta Evangelists said its sales have grown three-fold, doubling its revenue from 2021 to 2022. It said it now stands as the biggest pasta brand in the UK by revenue and is “only continuing to grow”. The previously DTC-only brand credits this growth to its expansion into new channels, which have included a high-end restaurant in Harrods, a cooking school in Central London, and a growing takeaway business with Deliveroo, Uber Eats and Just Eat.

El Mexicana appoints advisors to explore strategic options: Mexican burrito brand El Mexicana has appointed advisors to explore its strategic options, including seeking further investment into the business, Propel has learned. The 11-strong company is understood to be working with Interpath on its options, which could include a sale of the business. El Mexicana was founded in 2011 by John Coverley, a former head of convenience stores at Sainsbury’s, with its first restaurant opening at Meadowhall shopping centre in Sheffield. The business traded under a franchised QSR model and at its peak in 2018 had 23 stores. The franchise model was phased out from 2018, with all stores brought “in-house” from 2020 by Coverley and the largest individual franchise operator. Its current estate includes a site at Luton Airport, plus five locations with motorway services operator Extra – Baldock, Beaconsfield, Cambridge Cobham, Peterborough. The company, which secured a seven-figure funding deal from alternative lender ThinCats at the start of 2020, also operates sites in Chelmsford, Romford, Stevenage, Swindon and Worcester. The company is understood to have posted turnover of £4.1m for FY21, with Ebitda of £70,000. In the 11 months to November 2022, its turnover stood at £4.2m, with a negative Ebitda of £570,000. The business is expected to be of interest to the likes of peers, such as Tortilla and The Restaurant Group-owned Barburrito, both of which are looking to increase their UK estates and presence in the transport hub category. El Mexicana and Interpath declined to comment.

Starbucks’ largest UK franchisee 23.5 Degrees reports turnover hits £75m, pipeline of new stores increases to 50: Starbucks’ first and largest UK franchisee, 23.5 Degrees, has reported turnover increased to £74,979,078 for the year ending 31 August 2022 compared with £66,716,851 the previous year as the company further built its portfolio. Pre-tax profit was down to £8,032,900 from £10,004,677 the year before. The company said over the past 12 months the pipeline of new stores has also increased to 50 from a base of 25-30 in previous years, with a focus on drive-thrus. 23.5 Degrees is seeking both freehold and leasehold drive-thru opportunities on main arterial routes, close to major retail destinations or on large industrial estates. The business added all stores traded throughout the year, with the exception of the Salisbury site, which closed in April 2022. The business has also extended its delivery channel. During the year, six stores were opened – all drive-thrus, bringing total store count to 90. Since the year end, the business has opened a further two drive-thrus. No dividend was paid (2021: nil). In August, the business reaffirmed plans to reach 300 stores by 2027. The company opened its first Starbucks store in Liphook, Hampshire, in February 2013. 23.5 Degrees features in Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book – one of five databases exclusive to Premium subscribers. The Blue Book is updated each month and ranks companies by turnover, profit and profit conversion, listing directors’ earnings for the past five years. 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.

Karamay Uyghur Kitchen secures ex-Benito’s Hat site: Karamay Uyghur Kitchen, which specialises in cuisine from Western China, has secured its third site and second in London, near Oxford Street. The business, which has sites in Leicester and the City, has secured the former Benito’s Hat in Great Castle Street after an assignment of the existing 15-year lease. Karamay secured the 1,797 square-foot restaurant, located between Market Place and Regent Street in the heart of London’s West End, for a premium in excess of £100,000. The company’s first site opened in Leicester in 2015, which it claims made them the “very first authentic Uyghur cuisine in UK”. Benito’s Hat currently has two sites, one in the Oxford Westgate scheme and one in London’s New Row, which is currently closed and believed to be under offer. Marc Rogers at MKR Property acted for Benito’s Hat, while Richard Souber at DMR acted for Karamay.

Sam Wignell steps down as operations director at Marston’s: Sam Wignell has stepped down as operations director of Premium Food at Marston’s after a year with the business. Wignell previously spent more than two years as chief customer officer at S4labour. He joined S4Labour after three years at BRG, where he was brand operations director. He also previously worked at Mitchells & Butlers and Tesco Family Dining. He spent more than ten years at M&B, including the last two and a half as a retail director. While at Tesco, he spent a time as chief operating officer of coffee brand Harris + Hoole. At Marston’s, he reported into Sharon Singh, the company’s operations director for its food-led pubs. Propel understands that Marston’s is actively looking for a replacement for Wignell.

Slim Chickens franchisee lines up Plymouth opening: KK Restaurants SW, the franchisee for Slim Chickens in the south west, has lined up its second opening for the US brand, in Plymouth. The company is set to take on the former Bill’s Restaurant unit in the city’s Drake Circus Shopping Centre, which closed in 2020. KK Restaurants SW, an established franchise operator with a track record in rolling out hospitality brands including Pizza Hut Delivery and Costa Coffee, in the region, signed an agreement to operate the Slim Chickens brand in the south west with Boparan Restaurant Group (BRG) in autumn 2020. In December that same year, it opened its first site under the agreement on the former Giraffe unit in Exeter’s Princesshay scheme. Propel revealed earlier this month that BRG is to expand the partnership between its Slim Chickens brand and the Bourne Leisure-owned holiday park business Haven, including a debut opening in Scotland. BRG partnered with Bourne Leisure to roll out its Slim Chickens brand in UK holiday parks last summer, with the first opening under the new deal at the Haven holiday park in Hafan Y Mor, Wales. It opened subsequent Slim Chickens sites at the Haven parks in Devon Cliffs and Primrose Valley, and Propel understands further openings will follow at Perran Sands and Thorpe Park. At the same time, Haven has applied to open a Slim Chickens on the grounds of its Craig Tara Holiday Park, in Ayrshire, which would see the chicken brand make its debut in Scotland. The company currently operates 29 Slim Chickens sites in the UK, including three in its Restaurant Hub format within Sainsbury’s superstores. It plans to develop food courts at 150 of the supermarket chain’s stores that will feature a clutch of BRG’s brands.

Oodles Chinese set to make Scottish debut: Indo-Chinese concept Oodles Chinese is set to make its Scottish debut. The franchise brand, which opened its 36th UK site in December, in Preston, has openings lined up in both Glasgow and Aberdeen in the coming months. Leading the roll out in the region is franchise consultant Mikayla Whittle, of Franchise&, which recently oversaw the Scottish debut of bubble tea brand Cupp. “Franchise& took on Oodles Chinese as developer for Scotland in 2021,” said Whittle. “Since then, it has sold nine territories across multi-unit franchisees across both the north east of England and Scotland. We still have a number of great territories available in Scotland.” Founded in Leicester in 2010, Oodles started franchising in 2019, and last September unveiled plans for 100 UK sites by 2025, including 50 by the end of 2023. At the same time, the company appointed Ian Jeffrey – former global development at Chicken Cottage and senior operations manager at Starbucks and KFC – as commercial and global director, and Simon Robinson – formerly of German Doner Kebab, Heavenly Desserts and Starbucks – as operations director.

Swingers to open third US site in March: Swingers, the crazy golf brand owned by Competitive Socialising, will open its third US site in March. The company will launch the venue at Navy Yard in Washington DC’s Ballpark District, marking the third US opening in less than two years. The venue will span more than 23,000 square feet over two floors and will feature three nine-hole crazy golf courses, a 750-square-foot patio, multiple cocktail bars and a gourmet street food offering. It will feature a classic English pub (The Swinger’s Arms), with funfair inspired crazy golf courses, and even references the venue’s location close to the waterfront with its Boathouse Bar and Pontoon private hire. The menu will include Mexican street food from Tu Taco, a southern take on burgers and sandwiches from Lil’ Succotash, oven-fired pizza from Kneadza and sweet treats from Mah-Ze-Dahr Bakery. The cocktail offering will incorporate signature cocktails from the London and New York locations, as well as a number of cocktails created specifically for Swingers Navy Yard. “We’ve been blown away by the response from our guests at both Swingers Dupont Circle (Washington DC) and Swingers NoMad (New York) who love our experiential entertainment, and we can’t wait to bring the same crazy, fun experience to the Ballpark District,” said Matt Grech-Smith, co-chief executive and co-founder of Swingers. “Swingers Navy Yard is the perfect fit for a neighbourhood known for its love of sports and entertainment.” Last year, Swingers, which operates two London venues – in the West End and City – said it plans to open two more sites in 2023 and five locations in 2024 and 2025, taking the company to 17 sites. Revenue at the end of 2025 is expected to exceed £170m, and the business is expected to be valued in excess of £550m.

Rare Restaurants confirms summer openings for Welsh debut and first London restaurant in 14 years: Rare Restaurants, the Martin Williams-led operator, has confirmed summer 2023 openings for its Welsh debut and its first London restaurant in 14 years. Propel revealed last August that the brand had lined up a site in Cardiff for its first Welsh restaurant. That venue, an 8,500 square-foot site in located over two storeys in Bridge Street and offering 220 covers, will now open in May. Propel also revealed earlier this month that Rare Restaurants was eyeing the former Wahlburgers site at 8-9 James Street, in London’s Covent Garden, for a new flagship restaurant. The 7,000 square-foot site, which will offer 120 covers and also open for breakfast, will now open in June – the brand’s first in the capital since 2009. They will both follow the opening of a 140-cover Gaucho in Newcastle’s Pilgrim Street in March, as reported by Propel earlier this week. Martin Williams, chief executive of Gaucho, said: “I’m delighted to announce a wave of new Gaucho openings across the UK, particularly our first London opening for over a decade. With all the headwinds facing our sector (in London more than anywhere else) it would be easy to focus outside of London – but Gaucho was born in the West End. We have enjoyed fantastic post-pandemic trading in the capital and are beyond confident that Gaucho Covent Garden will be a triumph. Our recent openings in Glasgow and Liverpool have been incredibly well received, and I have no doubt that Cardiff and Newcastle will be too.” Propel also revealed last October that the company had appointed Clearwater International to assess its options, which could include a sale of the business.

Former Anglo alumni to double up with second London restaurant: Nick Gilkinson, who has worked front of house at Mark Jarvis’ Anglo in Farringdon, is set to open his second London restaurant in March. Gilkinson, who launched all-day restaurant Townsend at The Whitechapel Gallery in east London in January 2020, is preparing to open ‘European bistro culture’ restaurant and bar Maene atop a 14,000 square-foot, four-storey Victorian warehouse, in Fashion Street, Spitalfields. Maene will have its own private lift entrance leading guests to the open restaurant made up of different areas – with counter seating, an open kitchen, an 18-seater sharing table, a cocktail lounge, intimate banquettes and a large terrace looking out over the city skyline. The 54-cover restaurant will be open all day, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. Menu highlights include Mersea oysters with pickled jalapeno and sorrel (£4.50) and allotment fritto misto with smoked chilli aioli (£6).

Sunset Leisure Resorts acquires Lancashire holiday park: Holiday park operator Sunset Leisure Resorts has acquired Bank Lane Caravan Park in Lancashire for an undisclosed sum. The resort in the village of Warton has been developed to accommodate 183 serviced static holiday caravan pitches and 59 touring caravan pitches with planning permission to grow the park further. The site spans approximately 14.1 acres. It has been in the same family ownership since the 1960s and the sale is due to the owner's retirement. Sunset Leisure Resorts plans to upgrade the park in line with its “five-star vision”. Savills acted on the deal.

Aberdeen operator PB Devco turns profit for first time in five years, sells pub for £1.5m: Aberdeen operator PB Devco, which operates circa ten sites in the city, turned a profit for the first time in five years in the year ending 31 March 2022 and has since sold one of its pubs for £1.5m. The company reported a pre-tax profit of £534,659 compared with a loss of £377,802 in 2021. It is the first time it has turned a profit since reporting figures of £299,265 in 2017. Turnover rose from £2,026,507 in 2021 to £6,613,036 and is almost back to pre-pandemic levels, with a figure of £6,850,998 being reported for the year ending 31 March 2020. It received £288,754 in government grants compared with £1,344,589 in 2021. The average monthly number of employees rose from 158 in 2021 to 181. Since the year-end, in May 2022, the company sold The Bieldside Inn, in North Deeside Road, which PB Devco owner Stuart Clarkson bought from Signature Pubs in 2011, for £1.5m. It was acquired by husband-and-wife team Simon and Christie Cruickshank, with business partner Morgan Munter, who also own The Albyn in Aberdeen. The acquisition bought ownership of The Bieldside Inn full circle as it was owned by Simon’s father, also named Simon, from 1989 to 2003.

Karali Group makes strategic hire: Karali Group has appointed Karim Janmohamed as head of investments and strategy. It comes following the divestment of its 74-strong portfolio of Burger King restaurants in October and ahead of its “strong plans for growth”. Janmohamed joins from a background in M&A at Evercore where he advised on numerous transactions in the consumer and retail space. Karali Group also has the rights to operate concepts including El Taco Loco, Dirty Dog Shack, Roosters, Sticky Sisters and Cafe Italiano.

Burger King partners with charity UK Youth: Burger King UK, the Bridgepoint-backed business, has partnered with UK Youth, a leading charity that “amplifies the voices of young people and nurtures their individual ambitions to reach their full potential”. The Alasdair Murdoch-led business said the new partnership will provide essential funding over the next two years to progress its strategy to 2025, ‘Unlocking Youth Work’. Nicola Pierce, director of commercial Planning & ESG at Burger King UK, said: “UK Youth plays a crucial role in empowering young people to overcome obstacles and achieve their maximum potential. These ambitions resonate strongly with Burger King UK, and we are proud to become official charity partners, supporting UK Youth to create meaningful positive change.” A UK Youth spokesperson added: “Burger King’s support comes at a critical time, with the youth sector being hit especially hard by the cost-of-living crisis in the UK. We are incredibly grateful for this funding, which will allow us to continue to support the sector and deliver on targets to triple our reach through the skills development programmes, giving young people access to a wide range of expertise.”

Cambridgeshire craft beer distributers secure investment: Cambridgeshire craft beer distributers Jolly Good Beer have secured investment from the Hedges and Fardel group of companies. The company, founded in 2014 and located near Wisbech, has joined the owners of Fardel Shipping and Hedges Chilled Distribution, which will help expand its existing chilled wholesale distribution platform. Jolly Good Beer owner Yvan Seth said: “We’ve enjoyed working with Fardel and Hedges in the past and know they provide excellent chilled logistics services. This is a highly complimentary joining of forces, combining their resources and service model with our direct to trade wholesale network. Beyond significantly stabilising JGB after three years of difficult times, this partnership gives us access to a wealth of capabilities that will allow us to expand coverage, range and services to better serve brewers and trade customers.”

Creative Restaurant Group launches wood-fired concept in Mayfair: Creative Restaurant Group, which is behind London restaurants, Michelin-starred Endo at the Rotunda and sushi spot Sumi, has opened a new wood-fired concept in Mayfair. Humo has launched in the old Wild Honey premises in St George’s Square. Directly translated as “smoke” in Spanish, Humo revolves around a four-metre long grill, with no electricity or gas utilised as cooking fuel. Colombian chef Miller Prada, protégé of Endo Kazutoshi at Endo at the Rotunda, is heading up the kitchen. Dishes include 14-day aged ike-jime Hampshire trout, with three-month aged caviar and grilled wrapped in kombu kelp. This is complimented by a wine list, sake and signature cocktails. The 34-cover restaurant features counter seating surrounding the grill, and there is also a ten-cover chef’s table in the lower ground floor designed for private dining, tastings and exclusive events. Creative Restaurant Group was co-founded in 2021 by Misha Zelman, founder of Goodman, Burger & Lobster, Beast, Zelman Meats and Sumi; alongside chef patron Kazutoshi and led by managing director Alex D’Aguiar.

Young’s appoints new non-executive director: London pub operator Young’s has appointed Sarah Sergeant as a non-executive director with effect from Wednesday, 1 March. Sergeant is currently chief financial officer of construction company Watkin Jones and previously held the same position with the UK and Ireland region at Compass Group. She held a number of senior finance and operational roles over her 13-year tenure at Compass, including group financial controller, M&A director, and chief financial officer of the Asia Pacific region, based in Singapore. Young’s chairman Stephen Goodyear said: “Sarah has a wealth of experience in the leisure/hospitality and property sectors and will bring considerable financial, strategic, and operational experience to the Young's board.”

Boparan Restaurant Group to open Restaurant Hub at Kidderminster Sainsbury’s: Boparan Restaurant Group – the owner and operator of brands including Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Carluccio’s, Giraffe and Ed’s Easy Diner – is opening a site for its The Restaurant Hub concept in partnership with Sainsbury’s, in Kidderminster. The venue, which will open at the Carpet Trades Way store at the end of this month, will house Caffe Carluccio’s, Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Slim Chickens, Ed’s Easy Diner and Harry Ramsdens, in collaboration with Deep Blue Restaurants. The store is the third in the West Midlands to add The Restaurant Hub following openings in Wolverhampton and Selly Oak, Birmingham, last year, reports the Express & Star.

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