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Fri 3rd Mar 2023 - Update: The Wolseley owner reveals expansion plans, pub investment portfolio on market, Gaucho wins award
The Wolseley owner plans offshoots across UK, Asia and Middle East: The owner of London’s The Wolseley restaurant plans to open offshoots across the UK, Asia and the Middle East as the dining group seeks to move on from a bruising clash with its founder. Dillip Rajakarier, chief executive officer of Thai hotel company Minor International, told Bloomberg he envisaged Wolseley restaurants in Hong Kong, Singapore and Shanghai, as well as London’s financial district. He also plans Cafe Wolseley sites – more relaxed versions of the original in London’s Piccadilly – across other parts of China and the Middle East, as well as Manchester, Birmingham and Oxford in the UK. “Our plan has always been two things,” Rajakarier said. “One is to grow the brand within the UK, and number two is to take the brand outside, because a lot of our international guests love the brand, whether it’s the Middle East or Asia.” Minor took full control of The Wolseley Hospitality Group, which also includes The Delauney, Brasserie Zedel and Colbert in London, last April after a battle for ownership with co-founder Jeremy King. Minor had initially taken a 74% stake in the group in 2017, but fell out with King over the strategic direction of the company. “Sometimes not all joint ventures go the way you want,” Rajakarier said. “It was sad. The guy is one of the best restaurateurs in London, and I value that. So yes, I do have regrets.” The group could grow from seven sites today to 20 or more in five years, Rajakarier estimated. “We should be able to double the portfolio, easily,” he said. Later this year, a second Wolseley restaurant will open in King William Street in the City of London. Two more will shortly follow in Saudi Arabia and Dubai, he said. Dublin is also a potential destination. Minor has venues across Asia and Europe, including restaurants such as Zuma and Benihana in London, along with a string of international hotels. In some countries, Minor plans to find franchise partners to open restaurants, and in others will manage them directly, planting some in its hotels.

Next edition of The New Openings Database to be sent to Premium subscribers today, to show details of 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 today (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 an 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 lockdown videos and 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. In this week’s Propel Premium, Simon Anderson, food hall consultant at Ideas Food Consultancy, and ex-chief operating officer at Market Halls, finishes his look at the food hall category and those smaller local operators that punch well above their size and location. At the same time, Charlie McVeigh, the founder of Draft House and chairman of Butchies, reports back on a recent trip to Japan and the country’s hospitality culture. 

Tavern Propco places 16-strong pub investment portfolio on market: Tavern Propco, which acquired the circa 370-strong commercial properties estate from Ei Group in 2019, has placed a 16-strong pub investment portfolio on the market, with a combined value of circa £12.6m, Propel has learned. Savills has been appointed by Tavern Propco to handle the sale of the 16 free of tie public house investments, which are spread across England. The properties are occupied by a range of “good quality individual and corporate occupiers and offer attractive returns on investment”. Many of the leases are subject to five-yearly open market rent reviews as well as annual uncapped Retail Price Index increases. The properties are considered for sale either individually or in small packages and the occupational businesses will be unaffected by any sale. The portfolio is thought to include the Bourne & Hollingsworth Buildings in London’s Clerkenwell; the Chadwicks Inn in Maltby, North Yorkshire; the Oxford Blue in Oxford; the Green Man in Uxbridge; the Alford Arms near Hemel Hempstead; and the Boardroom in Bristol. In January 2019, Davidson Kempner and Global Mutual backed Tavern Propco on its acquisition of the circa 370-strong commercial properties estate from Ei Group, in a deal valued at £348m.

Older workers returning to labour market: The number of older workers returning to the workforce rose sharply at the end of last year, new research has suggested. The results may indicate the exodus of hundreds of thousands of workers during the pandemic is reversing, according to the analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) of data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The rise in participation among workers aged between 50 and 64 was particularly pronounced among those who had left work since the start of the pandemic to become inactive, analysts said. Workers are considered economically inactive if they are neither working nor available to work. Workers who had left their jobs after the start of the pandemic accounted for 57% of the 197,000 workers aged 50 to 64 who left inactivity to return to work between October and December last year. About half a million workers left their jobs during the pandemic with no plans to return to work. Some of the rise was caused by the ageing of the population, which meant a greater share of workers reaching retirement age, but the trend was driven mainly by older workers aged between 50 and 64 who retired early or were forced to resign because of long-term sickness. The trend has contributed to a shortage of labour supply that central bankers have warned would weigh on economic growth. Unemployment is close to historic lows, but it is not because more people are in work, according to ONS figures. Employment remains below pre-pandemic levels, while the number of people who are “inactive” is at historically high levels. The Times reported the flow of workers back into the jobs market led to a slight drop in the total inactivity rate among 50 to 64-year-olds from a post-covid peak of 27.7% last summer to 27.1% by the end of last year, the IFS said. The figures show signs of the beginnings of a reversal, but more data is needed to establish a change in trend, according to the IFS. The share of inactive older workers who said they would “probably” or “definitely” not work again has fallen for two consecutive quarters, while the share who said they would like to work has risen. Meanwhile, businesses faced renewed difficulties with hiring staff last month as wage and cost pressures remained high, a Bank of England survey shows. Almost half (45%) of businesses said they were finding it “much harder” than usual to recruit, up from 35%. in January, according to the bank’s survey of about 2,500 chief financial officers between 3 February and 17 February. The findings are likely to push up wages as companies compete for workers. Annual wage growth rose to 6.6% in February, up from 6.3%. Respondents expect wage growth to average 5.7% in the next year.

Gaucho and M Restaurants win business of the year award: Rare Restaurants, the hospitality group consisting of Argentinian steak restaurants Gaucho and M Restaurants, has won business of the year at the 2023 City AM Awards. The only hospitality company shortlisted, Rare Restaurants scooped the title, beating fellow nominees Rolls Royce, Lidl, Marex and Yu. The award celebrates the “best of the best of the best”, recognising a company that has navigated economic headwinds and “come out ahead with smart management, an innovative approach and impressive growth”. Rare Restaurants reported record turnover of £53m and delivered an annual profit north of £10m in 2022. The company opened new venues in Canary Wharf and Liverpool and collaborated with charities. Furthermore, Rare Restaurants said its commitment to sustainability, ethical farming and offering “carbon neutral steaks” has remained at the fore of the business. Chief executive Martin Williams said: “The City AM Awards celebrate a wide range of businesses in the Square Mile, Canary Wharf, and the wider business community, which is our company’s heartbeat. We are thrilled to receive the accolade of Business of the Year, particularly in the face of all the headwinds the hospitality industry has navigated. With record breaking turnover last year and three new Gaucho sites opening in 2023, we are excited about the future. Achieving this award is an honour and a testament to our passionate, hard-working and brilliant team.”

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