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Wed 1st Mar 2023 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

BBPA warns 2,000 pubs facing closure as it calls on government to support sector in Budget: The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has warned 2,000 pubs are facing last orders as it called on the government to extend a lifeline to the sector. The trade body is calling on Downing Street to use the spring Budget to show it understands the pressures the sector is facing, and deliver a plan for “sustainable growth with fair, modernised tax rates and a focus on skills and training needed to ensure pubs and breweries can thrive”. The BBPA is calling on chancellor Jeremy Hunt to freeze duty rates, implement a significant increase in the discount for draft beer sold in pubs, and introduce the previously announced reduced rate for lower-strength beer from 1 August. And ahead of the Energy Bill Relief Scheme being significantly reduced from 1 April, the BBPA said it is also continuing to highlight the “poor practice” of energy suppliers and the ongoing impact soaring energy costs is having on the industry, insisting the government holds suppliers accountable and “fixes a broken system that is penalising hospitality businesses”. The BBPA’s call comes as data from Oxford Economics estimates on-trade beer sales will decline by 9% in 2023-24. This equates to one million fewer barrels of beer sold (288 million pints) and 25,000 potential job losses in pubs and the wider industry. It also follows a new survey where 69% of respondents agreed local pubs play an important role in bringing communities together, while more than two thirds (67%) said they play an important role in creating jobs. Six in ten are concerned about an increase in loneliness if more local pubs close down, while 42% agree that closure of their local pub would devastate their community. BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin said: “After almost three years of extremely tough trading conditions due to lockdowns, an energy crisis, supply chain disruptions and more, now is a make-or-break moment to save our locals and breweries from failure now in the years to come. We need the government to act now or risk losing something very special forever.”

Industry News:

Club Mexicana founder Meriel Armitage to speak at first Propel Multi-Club Conference of 2023, three free places per company for operators: Meriel Armitage, founder of Club Mexicana, will be among the speakers at the first Propel Multi-Club Conference of 2023. The conference takes place on Thursday, 23 March, at the Millennium Gloucester Hotel in London’s Kensington, and is open for bookings. The all-day conference will focus on “challenges and opportunities”. Armitage will discuss the expansion and evolution of the 100% vegan concept, the challenge of growing a business in the current environment and where it goes from here. Operators can book up to three free places per company by emailing

Two days to go before next edition of The New Openings Database release, to show details on 165 new sites, 8,000-word report included: The next edition of The New Openings Database will show the details of 165 newly announced site openings and upcoming launches for Premium subscribers when it is published on Friday (3 March) at midday, including which company has opened a site or its plans to open one in the future. It will have details on what type of site it is and its location, and there will also be a website link to the businesses. The database is published on a monthly basis, and the next edition features growing restaurant and bar brands, niche cuisine, and expanding experiential concepts. Premium subscribers will also receive a 8,000-word report on the new additions to the database. Premium subscribers also receive access to four other databases: the Propel Multi-Site Database, produced in association with Virgate; the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book; the UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database; and the Who’s Who of UK Food and Beverage. 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 our 6am send-out; regular video content and regular exclusive columns from Propel group editor Mark Wingett.

Rising pork prices here to stay, cattle prices show no sign of slowing: Rising pork prices are here to stay, while cattle prices show no sign of slowing, according to analysis by catering butcher Birtwistles. Its latest market report said while the British pork price was up by nearly 15p per kg for the second consecutive week, this is merely a reflection of a tight market in Europe. Average EU pig prices were 55% up year-on-year, while the EU piglet price rose by 15% in the space of a few weeks towards the end of the year due to tight supplies. EU production is forecast to decline by at least 4% for the remainder of 2023, which will affect both supply and demand for UK pork and keep prices firm. “Be under no illusion that this does not look like being a short-term forecast and is only bringing the market to where it needs to be,” the report stated. “Pig numbers will remain tight as we approach the third month of 2023, the upward trend is set to continue.” Following on from historic highs in December, British cattle prices continued to rise in January as the all-prime deadweight cattle price averaged 454.7p per kg, up 13p from December’s average and up 48p year-on-year. Lamb volumes are predicted to decline further during 2023 but prices have remained robust as tight supplies keep prices supported, with a notable demand for lamb shanks still challenging. UK producers are still seeing huge demand versus supply for poultry, especially in the hospitality sector, and pricing is reviewed on a weekly basis. Duck legs and breasts are again starting to be in short supply from France as demand has picked up.

AA reveals 2023 Rosette Award winners: The AA has announced its 2023 Rosette Award winners, recognising the restaurants achieving the highest culinary standards in the UK. One venue was awarded the four AA Rosettes, marking it out as among the top restaurants in the country, while 14 more were granted three AA Rosettes, rewarding standards which “demand national recognition well beyond their local area”. London restaurant Amethyst, opened in Mayfair in May 2022 by Carlo Scotto, previously head chef at Xier in London’s Marylebone, received four AA Rosettes. Its creativity, boundary-pushing flavours and presentation stood out, earning it a spot as one of the finest UK restaurants. The list of restaurants awarded three AA Rosettes included One Devonshire Gardens by Hotel du Vin, in Scotland; Upstairs by Tom Shepherd, in the West Midlands; Home by James Sommerin, in Wales; Karrek at St Enodoc Hotel, in Cornwall; and Alex Dilling at Hotel Café Royal, in London. Simon Numphud, managing director at AA Hotel & Hospitality Services, said: “This year we’ve seen an exceptional level of culinary excellence demonstrated by those receiving our coveted three and four AA Rosettes. I’m constantly inspired by the resilience, innovation, and quality demonstrated by these trailblazers in our industry.”

Sir Kenny Dalglish signs up for industry charity football tournament Hospitality Kicks: Former Liverpool and Scotland star Sir Kenny Dalglish has signed up for Hospitality Kicks, the industry charity football tournament. Sir Kenny will join a host of hospitality brands at the inaugural event in June, to help raise vital funds for Only A Pavement Away, The Tim Bacon Foundation and the Licensed Trade Charity. Founded by Wireless Social with the goal of raising £50,000 for the three industry charities, Hospitality Kicks will bring together 40 teams from the sector for a seven-a-side football tournament football, the winner of which will be crowned by Sir Kenny. Places are open for operators and suppliers (£300 for operators, £800 for suppliers), while sponsorship opportunities are also now available, from branding up footballs and corner flags to operating food and drink stands and the after-party entertainment. Kick-off is at 9am on Tuesday, 27 June at Wythenshawe Sports Ground, Manchester. Julian Ross, chief executive at Wireless Social, said: “The charities that will benefit from this tournament do such incredible work, so I send my deepest thanks to Sir Kenny, and to everyone who’s already signed up as a sponsor or registered a team. It’s a great cause, and is no doubt going to be a highly memorable day, so if you haven’t already signed up to get involved, do it now!”

Hospitality Rising calls for more investors after passing 72,000 job applications: Hospitality Rising, the world’s biggest sector recruitment initiative, has passed the 72,000-job application mark and called for more investors to help continue its good work. Since officially launching in October in a bid to tackle the sector’s recruitment crisis, the campaign has attracted a total of 72,409 job applications. In fact, it has seen 4,200 applications each week for the 43,707 roles posted to the jobs page to date. Since its inception just over a year ago, Hospitality Rising has gained the backing of more than 300 businesses as well as celebrity chefs and hospitality leaders, but founder Mark McCulloch wants to keep growing that number. “We are over the moon with the success of the campaign so far and to see such an immense number of people coming forward to apply for a role within the hospitality sector,” he said. “By coming together and simply investing a small portion of our budgets into driving forward this major recruitment campaign, we can ensure the industry flourishes once again and gains the recognition it deserves. To achieve that, we need even more businesses to join us, and I would urge any operators or suppliers not already involved to grab the opportunity to come together to help tackle the workforce crisis that is threatening our brilliant industry.”

Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a large-scale, multi-purpose venue in the West Midlands looking for a venue director. The site has multiple offerings around sports, events, and hospitality. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “You will be responsible for all commercial and operational aspects of the venue, managing the profitability of the business. You will also promote a culture that focuses on the customer experience and service excellence throughout all aspects of the business. Working closely with the senior leadership team, you will also be responsible for strategic business planning, operational planning and execution and people development.” The salary is up to £100,000. For more information, email

Company News:

Pho MD – current trading is strong, new smaller format a potential bridgehead into more avenues: Patrick Marrinan, managing director of Vietnamese street food restaurant group Pho, has told Propel that recent trading at the 40-strong group has been “strong” and its new smaller format site at Canary Wharf could be a potential bridgehead into more expansion avenues for the brand. Marrinan said: “Our current year ended just after the half-term week, when we did a record week, which was a nice way to sign off FY23. Like-for-likes have been strong, they’ve been upper quartile consistently against the market based on peer group data. We’re seeing stronger eat-in sales and sticky delivery sales, which is a positive place to be at the moment.” The group, which is backed by TriSpan, opened its new smaller format site in Canary Wharf last month, and Marrinan said the venue had traded “really well”. He said: “It’s a relatively unique offer for us, a very small unit that does full table service, which we think the customers appreciate, and our initial performance shows that, but also, we’ve married a tech-based takeaway business with it. We’ve introduced ordering screens, which the customers have taken to very well, and really does help us with that throughput between midday and 2.30pm. One of the main strengths of our businesses is how it works in many different locations. We now have this almost quasi-tech focused offer, which caters for professionals in busy areas, so it does perhaps give us potential for us to expand in a different way.” For its FY22, the company saw turnover reach £43.7m, which included 12 weeks of no eat-in sales (FY21: £20.9m), while Ebitda stood at £8.17m (FY21: £3.2m) and pre-tax profit was £5.6m. Marrinan said: “We saw a strong rebound, but clearly that was helped, in part, by various government support through the pandemic. However, it’s been a very positive springboard into this financial year, which based on pre-covid will show a material uplift in sales and profit.” He said the business – which hopes to open its next site, in Borough in the spring – has five sites in legals, which will take the brand through to November and it was “looking to grow that pipeline for the new calendar year”. 
YO! to open first UK franchise restaurant, eyes further European expansion: Snowfox Group – the Bento, Panku and Taiko brands operator – is to open its first UK franchise YO! restaurant, at London Luton airport, Propel has learned. Opening next month, the new site will be run in partnership with Lagardère Travel Retail UK & Ireland. It will also mark Lagardère’s first entry into food & beverage in the UK and Ireland, adding to their global portfolio of more than 1,100 restaurants. Lagardère operates more than 20 retail and duty free stores across major and regional airports of the UK & Ireland. The new YO! restaurant will have a full dine-in kaiten conveyor belt, plus a large separate grab-and-go area where passengers can pick up cold food from the fridges or order freshly prepared hot food to go. In addition to London Luton airport, YO! will be opening franchise sites in the first half of this year in Norway and Doha. The group is also currently actively seeking out area developer franchise partners across several European countries as part of its international expansion plans. David Dillon, international general manager at YO!, said: “We are excited to be opening at London Luton airport, where we are confident that YO!’s fresh, healthy and convenient Japanese food offer will be ideally suited for departing passengers. At LLA, passengers will be able to dine in at our famous kaiten conveyor belt, or for more time-pressed travellers, they will be able to take advantage of our comprehensive grab-and-go offer. The expertise of Lagardère in travel retail is second to none, and they are the ideal partner for our first franchise restaurant in the UK.” Marion Engelhard, managing director, Lagardère Travel Retail UK & Ireland, said: “We are very excited for the upcoming opening of YO! at London Luton airport and are delighted to be working with both YO! and the LLA team to deliver the best possible experience for our customers. YO!’s healthy and fresh menu offers something for everyone and is perfectly catered to serve London Luton airport travellers. Just as important, YO!’s commitment to sustainability and making a positive difference in the communities that we serve aligns perfectly with Lagardère Travel Retail’s CSR commitments and makes this the perfect partnership.”

Bingo club operator reports positive start to 2023 but expects increased pressures from high inflation and ‘changing customer needs’: Bingo club operator Castle Leisure has reported a positive start to 2023, but said it expects increased pressures from high inflation and “changing customer needs”. The company, which was formed in 1856 and constructed the UK’s first purpose-built bingo hall, now operates 11 of them – predominantly in Wales but also in Birmingham, Bootle and Corby. In its accounts for the year ending 25 December 2022, the company reported turnover of £30,647, 275, rising from £16,664,365 in 2021. This is almost back to pre-pandemic levels, with figures of £33,216,851 reported in the year ending 27 December 2019. Of the 2022 figure, more than half (£15,931,159) came from bingo, with £9,559,462 coming from gaming machines and £5,156,654 from the sale of other goods. Pre-tax profits rose from £3,000,308 in 2021 to £8,700,173 (2019: 3,140,024). In her report accompanying the accounts, director Lisa Morgan said: “2023 has started positively, with spends and visit patterns improving. The high level of inflation is expected to continue through 2023. This will adversely affect both the disposable income of our customers and will lead to increased pressures on our expense lines, primarily in relation to utility and payroll costs. Long-term change in retail, leisure and hospitality consumer spending patterns are resulting in lower industry numbers of customer visits. The company actively pursues a focused policy approach to maintain the relevance of our customer proposition by evolving our product and service offer for both existing and new customers.” Dividends of £554,270 were paid, with the directors recommending a final dividend of £2 per share. The company received no government grants (2021: £2,583,124). It also reported exceptional item income of £7,357,788, the main bulk of which (£6.9m) was a VAT refund relating to tax paid on gaming machines in previous years. During the year, the company spent £5.2m on major projects at its Bootle, Corby, Bridgend and Barnes Hill sites, to give a year-end fixed asset valuation of £51.2m. Staff levels also rose from 520 to 528.

Arc Inspirations reorganises senior team: Arc Inspirations, the Martin Wolstencroft-led business which operates the Banyan and Box concepts, has reorganised its senior team, with Kirsty Clarke, ex-TGI Fridays, joining to lead its new openings and people teams, Propel has learned. Clarke joins the 19-strong group, which recently opened a site in Sheffield under its Manahatta brand, after more than two years as operations director at Baa Bar Group. At the same time, Nazareen Johnson has stepped down as Arc’s people and culture director to set up her own consultancy business. Johnson joined Arc in summer 2021 after previously working at Next, Morrisons and Asda. Wolstencroft, co-founder and chief executive of Arc Inspirations, told Propel: “We have reorganised our senior team to make sure we’re best-placed to deliver against our growth plans for 2023 and beyond, and we’re delighted that Kirsty Clarke has joined us to lead our new openings and people teams. Kirsty has a fantastic background rolling out TGI Fridays and was most recently operations director of Baa Bar group. Naz Johnson made a fantastic impact on the business, and we’re pleased that she will continue to work with us, developing our management teams on a consultancy basis.”

Chance & Counters to open second Bristol site, plans to ramp up pace of expansion: Chance & Counters, the board game bar/café group, will open a new flagship site in Bristol, as it looks to ramp up the pace of its expansion from next year onwards, Propel has learned. Chance & Counters, which was founded in Bristol in 2016 by friends and board game fans, Steve Cownie, Luke Neal and Richard Scarsbrook, will open its second site in the city, on the ex-Purezza site in Gloucester Road, this April. At 3,500 square feet, the premises is the group’s largest to date, and will double up as a group HQ. Chance & Counters will be collaborating with Purezza to retain a small selection of vegan pizzas at the site for the foreseeable future. The Gloucester Road venue will offer space for more than 100 customers and be open daily. The site will also include a significantly expanded food operation, overseen by the group’s executive chef Nathan Wright, and include staples like smash burgers and loaded fries offered alongside extensive vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options. The group’s debut site, at the city’s Christmas Steps, will continue to operate unchanged after Chance & Counters signed a new ten-year lease on the site in June. The three friends opened the Christmas Steps site following a successful crowdfunding campaign, and since then, the business has expanded to Cardiff and Birmingham, now employing more than 75 staff and hosting nearly 200,000 board gaming sessions every year. Cownie said: “We’ve been on the hunt for a new site in Bristol for nearly three years. The Christmas Steps site will always be massively important to us, but we realised pretty early on we just didn’t have the space and facilities there to meet demand in Bristol. We’re expecting to secure a new site in the north this year, it’s just taking time to lock it down. There are still plenty of cities in the UK where we think our offering would sit perfectly, and we have the backing and the confidence to go after them. If we can find opportunities in those cities, we’re hoping to ramp up our pace of openings to one a year from next year onwards.” CDG Leisure acted on the Gloucester Road deal. 
Boojum co-founder to open digital first ‘whole food’ restaurant concept: A new digital first, whole food concept is set to open in Belfast in the spring following a £350,000 investment. Meaning “true”, Vero has been set-up by entrepreneur Andrew Maxwell, who has a proven track record of building and scaling restaurants over the last 15 years – including the Mexican food chain, Boojum. Maxwell said the solo venture reflects his passion for helping to make it easier for people to incorporate whole food into their day-to-day life. Located on the ground floor of Bedford House in Bedford Street, the 2,000 square-foot eatery, which will create 35 jobs, will have seating for 35 diners and a separate digital hub entrance dedicated to the processing and collection of online orders. Maxwell said: “The ethos of Vero is simple – we make good food that is good for people. We don’t do salads. We do whole food that is true, of the highest quality and fully customisable to each individual customer’s choices. It’s a unique food concept that Northern Ireland hasn’t seen before offering an omnichannel experience with in-store, click and collect, delivery and catering options using innovative technology solutions to make it easy for people to get the right food wherever they are. Over the last three years, how we think about our health, how we order and how we socialise has changed and we have built Vero around this. We aim to help educate people on the fantastic array of fresh produce that they can incorporate into their daily life, so they can make the right food choices and ultimately learn to love food that loves them back.” Maxwell said like a lot of people, “the pandemic made me look at things differently” and with that in mind, and to create a good work-life balance, Vero will open Monday to Saturday from 11am to 8pm and will be closed on Sundays.

Kaspa’s aiming for seven new stores by end of second quarter: Dessert parlour brand Kaspa’s is aiming to add seven new stores to its rapidly growing portfolio by the end of June, Propel has learned. It will begin with the soft launch of a site in Bury on Friday (3 March), followed by an opening in Taunton in the middle of March. Kaspa’s has more than 100 restaurants around the UK, and founder Azhar Rehman told Propel in December that he sees a runway for up to 500 UK sites, focusing his next rollout on kiosks and smaller stores. Rehman also owns the UK, Ireland and European master franchise rights for Doner & Gyros, which Propel revealed this week was poised to open its third UK site this month, in Rugby. Rehman added that a further three Doner & Gyros sites are set to open by the end of June.

London ‘elevated chicken wings’ concept led by former Soho House Group and Gordon Ramsay chef set to open second site: A London “elevated chicken wings concept” led by former Soho House Group and Gordon Ramsay chef Ben Harrington is set to open its second site. WingLab launched in January 2022 after founder Lucas Kyraciou teamed up with Harrington, now head chef at The Stratford Hotel, to spend the pandemic perfecting their recipes. Opening its debut site in Tottenham, offering wings, burgers, waffles and more “lab-tested for flavour”, it is now expanding to Camden. Site number two will open at Hawley Wharf on Thursday, 16 March, catering for in-house dining, takeaway and delivery. Among the dining options are a wing roulette for £13.95, which gives guests a selection of 12 wings in three different flavours, while vegetarian options include  a halloumi burger (£8.95) and cauliflower wings (six for £7.45).

London social enterprise cafe looking to expand across capital: Fair Shot Cafe, a London cafe providing on-the-job training for young people with learning disabilities, has said it is looking to expand across the capital in the coming years. Fair Shot, which opened in Mayfair’s South Moulton Street in December 2021 after raising £300,000 in private funding, last month reopened after moving to a new site in The Yards, Covent Garden. “Being only one year old, we are at the very beginning of our journey, and it is wonderful that we have already been able to accomplish so much,” chief executive Bianca Tavella told Propel. “We look forward to expanding our training and employment programmes, our retail platforms and more cafes around London. After a wonderful year at our first home, we had to leave due to regeneration in the area. We could never have imagined finding such a beautiful second home and flagship location at The Yards, and we could not be more grateful to our team, funders and incredible pro bono support. We have been so lucky to be able to design a space from scratch purely with our trainees and team in mind. Our bigger premises at The Yards permits bigger scope for impact. We can take on more trainees, widen our revenue streams to support our charity and have a more welcoming office space for our team to flourish.” Tavella said the concept was originally born out of a conversation with a friend who has autism, and whose dream was to open a restaurant. “There is an alarmingly high unemployment rate among young adults with learning disabilities, with only 5% of the population in employment,” she added. “Far too many people are missing out on the basic right to aspire to a career, have emotional and physical health and increased independence that comes from having a job. Our vision is to start a movement that will lead to real change in the lives of people with learning disabilities and the way they are perceived by employers and society as whole.”

Wiltshire luxury hotel and spa makes first profit in four years as turnover passes pre-pandemic levels: Wiltshire luxury hotel and spa Lucknam Park made its first profit in four years in the year ending 31 May 2022, as turnover passed pre-pandemic levels. The company made a pre-tax profit of £2,035,852 compared with a loss of £94,313 in 2021. It was its first pre-tax profit since reporting £238,830 in 2018. Turnover rose from £4,293,429 in 2021 to £10,965,525, “reflecting the easing of covid-19 pandemic restrictions”. This was also higher than the last full year before the pandemic, ending 31 May 2019, when turnover of £8,234,579 was reported. Ebitda for the year was £3,247,203 (2021: £993,518) while net assets at the year-end were £5,704,042 (2021: £3,668,190). It received £18,679 in government grants (2021: £731,765) and no dividends were paid (2021: nil). Director Sarah Reynolds, in her report accompanying the accounts, said the year saw high demand and a strong trading performance, and while cost control was a continuing focus, investment in the hotel has continued. She added: “With outstanding facilities, service and reputation, the hotel is well placed for the future, although an economic downturn and inflationary pressures are likely to have an impact in the coming year.”

Liverpool distillery saved from closure: Liverpool-based Turncoat Distillery has been saved from closure after six years in operation. The distillery has been acquired by city entrepreneur, Edward Ridding. Production at the distillery ceased in December after its founder, Terry Langton, announced all of the brand's operations would be wound down. After significant investment and upgrades in the distillery’s labelling and bottling facilities, production is expected to restart in early March with a hope that wholesale and retail sales will follow by April. Ridding said: “I’ve been working hard since Terry made the decision to close the doors at Turncoat to secure its future and make sure the brand doesn’t disappear into obscurity. My immediate plans are to get the distillery back up and running and fulfil the demand of our loyal customers. My team and I will also be working hard to increase our footprint across the UK over the next 12 months.” Turncoat Distillery was set up in 2016 by Terry and Joanne Langton, with the promise of being an independent brand for independent drinkers. The brand produces a range of premium craft gin and vodka as well as offering a range of premium cocktail bitters from its distillery in the Baltic Quarter. Ridding was the co-founder of Liverpool’s first Spanish pinchos bar, Roja Pinchos. His career has also seen him work for the soft drinks brand, Vimto, and the gin brand, Bombay Sapphire.

Travelodge acquires Madrid hotel in €1m investment as it looks to expand Spanish portfolio: Travelodge has acquired a Madrid hotel in a €1m investment, as it puts plans in motion to expand its Spanish portfolio. Having acquired the lease of the NH Villa de Coslada hotel, it has appointed Aldaba Partners to help grow its footprint in the country. It follows research, carried out by Christie & Co on behalf of Travelodge, that Spain is one of the world’s fastest growing hotel markets, but with a significant lack of “branded, low cost and good quality” accommodation in the midscale and economy segment. The research indicates a “significant opportunity” for Travelodge to grow in Spain, with key growth locations including Barcelona, Madrid, Alicante, Bilbao, Granada, Malaga, Palma, Seville and Valencia. Travelodge hopes NH Villa De Coslada, which features 78 bedrooms and a restaurant and bar, will be the first of many additions. It has acquired a 20-year lease to operate the hotel from Grupo Veintidos, and the hotel will be renamed Travelodge Madrid Coslada Aeropuerto. The group will invest about €1m in acquiring the lease and refurbishing the hotel to the new Travelodge “budget-luxe” premium look hotel design, with work set to start in May and be completed by the summer. It will be the group’s sixth hotel in Spain and third in Madrid, with two more in Barcelona and one in Valencia. Steve Bennett, chief property and development officer at Travelodge, which now operates almost 600 hotels across the UK, Ireland and Spain, said: “We are delighted to launch our Spanish expansion programme. The Spanish hotel market is growing at pace, with demand exceeding supply, and we want to take this opportunity to take the Travelodge brand to new business and leisure locations across Spain.”

Leicester coffee shop chain opens sixth site and second in city: Leicester coffee shop chain Bru Coffee & Gelato has opened its sixth site and second in the city. Bru was founded in Leicester in 2014, opening a branch in Granby Street in the city centre before launching further sites in Cardiff, Harrow, Reading and Walthamstow. It has now returned to Leicester to open in the former HSBC bank on the corner of Chestnut Avenue and The Parade in Oadby. “We chose The Parade in Oadby for a Bru as it’s a gem of a town centre and connects nearby areas such as Oadby, Wigston, Great Glen, Stoneygate and Knighton,” a Bru spokesman told Leicestershire Live: “Coffee is not just a morning product, and we’re known for our early morning to late-night operating hours to marry up to our all-day menu offering. With lots of families in the area, and professionals now working from home, we’re looking forward to being a local neighbourhood coffee house, perfect for catching up with work, friends and family throughout the day.” In addition to serving coffee made from a blend of handpicked speciality Arabica beans from Brazil, El Salvador and India, Bru has a range of loose leaf tea, hot chocolate and cold drinks. Customers can also enjoy sandwiches, bagels, waffles, desserts and gelato, handmade in Bru’s own facilities.

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