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Tue 7th Mar 2023 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Daily Telegraph reports 50% inflation on prices at leading high street brands: Leading high street retailers, such as Pret a Manger and Costa Coffee, have raised their prices on hot drinks and sandwiches by as much as 50% in the wake of rampant inflation which has prompted three wage increases at each company in the past year. The Daily Telegraph, characterising the price rises as “Pretflation”, reports that Pret has increased the price of a latte and a cappuccino to £3.30. The newspaper stated: “Once well-known for its value 99p filter coffee, it now charges £1.60 at its branches located at railway stations and transport hubs – an increase of more than 60%. The price in other Pret shops in the capital is £1.50. Costa Coffee increased the price of its small lattes and cappuccinos to £3.20 in the capital and £3.05 outside, an increase of 25p. Starbucks has also increased the cost of a latte to £3.55.” The prices have, in fact, risen so much that the average cost of a cup of coffee breached £3 at the end of last year, market researchers World Coffee Portal told the newspaper. The average price of a latte increased by 33p to £3.25, while the price of a cappuccino rose by 11.7%, it said. A combination of staff shortages, energy bill increases and problems sourcing ingredients are to blame for the higher prices, according to industry experts. Paul Rooke, executive director of trade body the British Coffee Association, told The Telegraph: “Coffee is a big energy user in terms of roasting, usually using gas, so energy bill increases have an impact. Availability of labour has been a challenge. Often people come from other countries and work as a barista for a few years before going home, but that hasn’t happened as much because of covid and Brexit. Wages have had to go up to encourage people into the industry.” Jim Winship, director of fellow trade body the British Sandwich Association, said: “The latest issue is the problems with tomatoes. Energy costs went up so lots of farms saw it as too much of a risk to plant last year, and then we had weather issues in Morocco and elsewhere.” But he added: “Whenever we hit difficult times, people trade down from other areas, so people who were perhaps going out to a restaurant at lunchtime are coming in for a sandwich instead.” Jeffrey Young, of the World Coffee Portal, said the pandemic and subsequent drop in commuting had hit businesses. “A lot of those branded coffee chains are in very high footfall areas and, especially in large cities, levels are still not back to normal,” he told The Telegraph. “Places which are very reliant on workplaces have not had as much joy as they would have done before the pandemic.” A spokesman for Pret said it had introduced a new Made Simple range to give customers a cheaper option and also pointed to its coffee subscription model, which offers a discount to frequent customers. He said that the company has been hit by the rising cost of energy and ingredients. Starbucks told The Telegraph it evaluates pricing on a “product-by-product basis” and that many factors play into price rises. Costa said it “absorbed costs where it could”, but did increase prices in June last year. It offers loyalty schemes to help customers save. A spokesman said: “We are committed to ensuring a range of entry price points across our core coffee menu.”

Industry News:

AlixPartners managing director Graeme Smith to speak at first Propel Multi-Club Conference of 2023, three free places per company for operators: AlixPartners managing director Graeme Smith will be among the speakers at the first Propel Multi-Club Conference of 2023, which 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”. Smith will look at where the investment market now sits, who the buyers are and what we can expect in terms of M&A over the course of the year. Operators can book up to three free places per company by emailing
Latest Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book shows sector companies making collective loss of £829m, improvement on loss of £1.04bn last month: The next edition of the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which will be sent to Premium subscribers on Friday (10 March), shows sector companies are making a collective loss of £829m – an improvement on the loss of £1.04bn the previous month. The Blue Book shows the total profit of the 709 companies in the list is £2,589,591,707 and losses are £3,418,115,551. The Blue Book is updated each month and ranks companies by turnover, profit and profit conversion, listing directors’ earnings for the past five years. Premium subscribers also receive access to four other databases: the Propel Multi-Site Database, produced in association with Virgate; the New Openings Database; the Who’s Who of UK Food and Beverage; and the UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database. 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 are also to be given exclusive access to the recording and slides to Propel Multi-Club Conferences. Premium subscribers also receive their morning newsletter 11 hours early, at 7pm the evening before; regular video content and regular exclusive columns from Propel group editor Mark Wingett.
UKHospitality welcomes plans to make temporary off-sales and events notice legislation permanent, urges overhaul of Ofgem powers: UKHospitality has welcomed government plans to make permanent its temporary legislation concerning off-sales and events notices. The Home Office is currently consulting on making two temporary measures introduced during the pandemic into permanent legislation. Among them is the ability of pubs and restaurants to sell alcohol for takeaway, as allowed when they were forced to close during the lockdowns. Also open for consultation is the change in temporary events notices, allowing venues to use them 20 rather than 15 times a year, and for a maximum of 26 rather than 21 days. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The proposals to make permanent a number of temporary measures introduced during the pandemic are overwhelmingly positive and we strongly urge the government to do so.” Meanwhile, Nicholls has written to energy secretary Grant Shapps, calling on him to overhaul energy regulator Ofgem’s powers.

Hospitality businesses urged to tap into potential ‘talent pipeline’ of prison leavers and ex-offenders: Hospitality businesses have been urged to tap into the potential “talent pipeline” of prison leavers and other ex-offenders. It comes as a study commissioned by Sodexo, the foodservices and facilities management business that runs six UK prisons, shows one in three (30%) UK businesses in the private sector do not currently employ any ex-offenders, despite the majority (62%) saying they are struggling to fill positions. The poll of 1,000 owners and senior leaders with hiring responsibilities across UK businesses found nearly two thirds (61%) will be hiring ex-offenders in 2023, while 21% said they will not. Specifically in the retail, leisure and catering sector, 36% said they don’t currently hire any ex-offenders, but 52% said they will be considering doing so in the next 12 months. When asked what might attract them to hiring ex-offenders, 26% said a need to fill crucial skills gaps. But while 43% believe prisoners can gain cookery skills while in prison, only 14% believed they can gain waiting/waitressing skills. In an effort to help remove barriers to employment for ex-offenders, Sodexo has launched a “Starting Fresh” campaign, collaborating with several organisations. Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, said: “Most hospitality businesses cannot currently operate at full capacity due to ongoing labour shortages. As such, hospitality employers cannot afford to turn their back on any talent pipeline that could provide vital resource. The issue is that employers don’t know how to access at scale the volume of recruits – prison leavers and other ex-offenders – potentially available to them. It’s great, therefore, to see Sodexo launch Starting Fresh, which will really help demystify the process.” 
Midweek sport ‘huge opportunity’ for pubs: As the UEFA Champions league gears up for its last 16, second leg, fixtures this week, new research from KAM has found showing live sport can be a more important driver of footfall for pubs during weekdays than at weekends. The research, in partnership with BT Sport, showed 43% of sports fans said watching live sport is the main reason they go to a pub midweek, whereas at the weekend, there are many other factors at play. Although still a significant reason to visit, with 35% saying live sport was the biggest driver at the weekend, 92% of sports fans said showing live sport during the week positively influences their visit frequency to a pub. KAM founder Katy Moses said: “Midweek trading has made the headlines recently, as operators explore options to reduce opening hours and therefore associated costs, and understandably so. But If operators are looking at ways to pull people off their sofas and into venues in the week, then the opportunities to attract sport fans and associated spend during traditionally quiet midweek times is huge.”
Greene King launches new sector support service for independent venues: Brewer and retailer Greene King has launched a new sector support service for independent venues. The route-to-market service is aimed at supporting both independent businesses and the sector as a whole in the current “gruelling financial climate”. Called Value for Venues, it offers a package of product catalogue, logistics, business management and financial support services. Greene King said companies can avoid dealing with multiple suppliers, delivery slots and points of contact by instead signing up to an extensive range of drinks in one delivery. The service also offers over-the-phone troubleshooting and cellar support 363 days a year. Scottish free trade venues are able to access the service through Belhaven Brewery, which has been a part of Greene King since 2005. Paul Downing, sales director for brewing and brands at Greene King, said: “We’re pleased to be announcing this launch as our passion lies in championing and supporting the hospitality industry and sharing our knowledge. Value For Venues is an important and unique offering for independent venues because of how extensive the package of support is, and it’s backed with a wealth of experience. Alongside offering excellent range freedom in one handy delivery and year-round customer support, the service also assists on a financial business level too. There is no other service quite like it on the market that provides so much for independent venues, all in one place.”
Nominations invited for list of industry’s LGBT+ ‘champions’: Checking-IN, the LGBT+ hospitality network, is inviting nominations for its 50 LGBT+ Champions List, to be announced on Wednesday, 31 May. The list aims to highlight the LGBT+ people and allies who are blazing a trail in the hospitality industry. It celebrates those making positive contributions to the community, making an impact as role models, effecting change and ensuring that hospitality is a safe, welcoming, diverse and inclusive sector for employees and customers. A panel of judges from across the sector will consider all the nominations and select the 50 outstanding candidates to make up the final list. Nominations will close on Friday, 31 March, and can be submitted by employers, peers, team members, clients or individuals themselves. Checking-IN was founded in 2018 by Liam Rezende, former marketing manager EMEA at Hyatt Hotels, and Will Davies, director at HBD Partners Hospitality Recruitment, to provide opportunities to network, share best practices and champion diversity and inclusion in the industry. They said: “Hospitality deserves its reputation as a welcoming, inclusive industry to work in for the LGBT+ community, but it’s important not to be complacent and to recognise that doesn’t happen by magic.”
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with an established and growing national quick service restaurant group in London that is looking for a HR business partner. A COREcruitment spokesperson said: “You will be proactive and have a passion for people. A background in a multi-site hospitality business is advantageous but previous HR experience in a fast-paced business is a must! Your key responsibilities will be to manage the annual talent cycle and work with managers to develop their high potential performers, advise the operations team on pay and manage the annual pay review, develop and deliver the annual employee engagement survey and action planning, contribute to the people plan to ensure the group people strategy is delivered and the activities reflect the needs of your stakeholders, manage employee retention cases from start to finish, and advise and coach line managers to resolution and agree actions to prevent future issues. You will also work alongside the resourcing manager to ensure the best person for the job is recruited, with focus on internal opportunities.” The role in based in London and the salary is up to £70,000. For more information, email

Company News:

Wolstencroft – 2023 set to be a transformational year, to invest record amounts in its people: Martin Wolstencroft, co-founder and chief executive of Arc Inspirations, has said 2023 is set to be a transformational year for the bar group, with a further three sites set to open. The 19-strong company recently opened its first site in Sheffield, under its Manahatta brand, which will be followed by multimillion-pound venue launches in Birmingham, Newcastle and Nottingham. The BGF-backed company said the new site in Sheffield city centre has “outperformed all expectations in its opening weeks, with outstanding guest feedback, and strong pre-booked sales”. The Sheffield launch follows a “strong Christmas period”, with total like-for-like sales for the six weeks to the end of 2022 across the business up 3.2% on 2021, and 25.5% on 2020. Pre-booked sales accounted for a record 49% of total sales. Banyan saw like-for-like Christmas Eve sales increase 16.5% across the brand. On New Year’s Eve, total like-for-like sales across the Arc estate were up 10.3% year-on-year, and 14.7% on 2020 figures. Sales at Manahatta in Temple Street in Birmingham were up 68% year-on-year. The group will open its next site, under its Box concept, in Birmingham’s Brindleyplace, in early June. It said the new opening follows a period of strong trading for the concept, where like-for-like sales in the six weeks to the end of 2022 were up 22% year-on-year, and the Deansgate site in Manchester posted a company record gross sales week, turning over more than £200,000 thanks to two England games in the Fifa World Cup, and the Tyson Fury versus Derek Chisora boxing fight. The company is planning to open at least two more sites in the next 12 months – Box in Nottingham, and Manahatta in Newcastle. To supplement a year of significant growth, Arc said it is also investing record amounts in its people, with the announcement of its first company-wide summer party. Arc In The Park, for its more than 1,000 team members, will take place in a secret location on Tuesday, 4 July, with all 20 sites closing for the day. Arc has also invested more than £50,000 in a four-night ski trip to Meribel, for 26 team members, as a reward for top performers across the group, which will take place later this month. Wolstencroft said: “2023 is going to be a transformational year for us, so we’re delighted to have delivered such an incredible opening for Manahatta in Sheffield. This has been a fantastic effort from all our team, who have worked together to open so smoothly and with such great impact, resulting in brilliant feedback and very encouraging trading so far. As we continue to grow, it becomes more important to attract and retain the best people, and we’re always looking at ways to incentivise and reward them for their hard work.”

The Alchemist begins initial work on exploring opportunities in US and UAE: Bar and restaurant concept The Alchemist, which will make its international debut in Germany, in May, has begun exploring opportunities in the US and the UAE. The 20-strong company will open its first German venture in Potsdamer Platz, Berlin, as part of the redevelopment project of The Playce. The 5,887 square-foot space will feature 212 covers internally and a further 50 external covers. As it gears up to explore further international opportunities, the company has announced two new appointments to aid the “continued trajectory of its UK business”. David Oxtoby has been appointed the company’s new director of operations. Previously operations manager and regional operations director, Oxtoby has been with the business for ten years, having been general manager when it opened in Leeds in 2013, its first venue outside of Manchester. He will be taking responsibility for venue operations across the UK as the brand moves forward with its next phase of growth. Meanwhile, Michelle Gandy has been appointed director of finance and continues to work closely with the group’s chief financial officer Vic Stewart, managing all aspects of finance across the wider company. Gandy has worked for the brand since its inception in 2010. Simon Potts, chief executive, said: “Germany is a very exciting development for us – the start of a new adventure for our city brand, with excellent opportunities for growth over the next few years. We’ve also begun some initial work on exploring opportunities in the US and the Emirates. Following our takeover project in Singapore last year, we’re confident in the brand’s ability to resonate with an international audience. Of course, future expansion is contingent on the continued performance of our UK business; we’re very happy to recognise and secure the services of David and Michelle, both of whom have been involved with the company since its inception in 2010. The dedication to quality, passion for their teams and rigour they have shown in their respective roles has provided us with a great platform for success over the years and it is fantastic for us to have that ongoing commitment to the future success of The Alchemist.”
The Inn Collection Group acquires Northumberland hotel for 36th site: The Inn Collection Group has strengthened its presence in Northumberland with the acquisition of The Links Hotel in Seahouses for its 36th site. The company has bought the ten-bedroom property, which also has a bar, restaurant and terrace, from Julie Dawson and Malcolm Sutton, who have decided to pursue other business interests after 22 years as owners. Sean Donkin, managing director of The Inn Collection Group, said: “While the focus of The Inn Collection Group is on consolidation and completing the refurbishments that are currently underway or about to begin, we remain active in the market should the right opportunities become available.” Mark Worley, Christie & Co’s north east hotel director, handled the sale on behalf of the sellers, while property consultancy Bradley Hall led the acquisition. It comes as the Inn Collection Group prepares to reopen 12 of its prime sites and looks to trigger a recruitment drive that will create almost 1,000 additional jobs. Already employing 900 people across its portfolio of properties, filling the positions created by the reopenings will see the company headcount increase to almost 2,000. Two of the sites reopening are The Ripon Spa Hotel, which will now be known as The Ripon Inn, and the Hotel St George in Harrogate, which has been renamed The Harrogate Inn. Group marketing manager Zoe Cooper said: “As with the new names we have unveiled for other sites recently, we have looked to embrace the history of the wider area, and we hope the new look will create a talking point that serves as a link to the past while the site embarks on an exciting future.” Propel revealed this week David Campbell has stepped down as operations director at The Inn Collection Group after almost two years in the role. There has been no new appointment, with Donkin assuming the responsibilities previously overseen by Campbell. The Inn Collection Group features in the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book. Its turnover of £24,682,000 is the 240th highest in the database. The Blue Book 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.
Middle Eastern restaurant group Nothing But Love to bring two further brands to UK: Middle Eastern restaurant group Nothing But Love, which made its UK debut late last year, is set to launch two more of its brands here, Propel has learned. Nothing But Love, which launched Mayha in London’s Marylebone, is set to add a site in Mayfair under its contemporary Lebanese eatery concept Maryool. It is also planning to open a site in Chelsea, under its Meat the Fish brand. Established in 2012 as “a response to private client demand”, Meat the Fish began as a premium meat and fish home delivery service. As an extension of the brand, its first retail shop and restaurant opened to the public in 2014, in Beirut. Its UK site is set to open between Duke of York Square and Pavillion Road, just off the King’s Road. The company said: “Remaining authentic to our aesthetic, our shops feature our signature wooden crates and showcase our product first hand, whether presented fresh in the crates or as part of our food menu. Our shop menus change daily and are adapted seasonally.” Founded 20 years ago, Nothing But Love, which originated in Lebanon, operates ten brands in the Middle East including Meat the Fish, Maryool, Skirt and The Backburner. Last year, it launched Nothing But Love Kitchens, a gourmet cloud kitchen venture catering to seven in-house brands and one external brand. The company opened its first UK site, under the omakase restaurant concept Mayha, over two floors at 43 Chiltern Street.
Former Chop’d MD to launch salad bar concept: Eddie Holmes, the former managing director of London salad bar chain Chop’d, is to launch a new concept in the capital. Propel understands Holmes will open Green Shoots, a salad bar concept, on the former Chop’d site in Curzon Street, Mayfair. Chop’d was placed into administration at the end of last year, which saw the closure of sites in Long Acre, Mark Lane, St Paul’s, Curzon Street and at the ExCeL centre. In February 2021, the then 12-strong business was acquired by Inc Retail Group, which was led by Dan Shaw. A new vehicle, Chop’d Holdings, which also had Shaw as a director, acquired the business and five of its remaining sites out of administration earlier this year. 
XP Factory set to open first overseas Boom Battle Bar, in Middle East: XP Factory, owner of experiential concepts Boom Battle Bar and Escape Hunt, is preparing to open its first overseas Boom Battle Bar, in the Middle East. The business is currently recruiting for a general manager to operate the site, which will be based in Dubai’s Jumeirah Beach Residence waterfront community. It already operates Escape Hunts overseas, both franchised and owner operated, but no Boom Battle Bars. In January, the group said a “transformational year of growth” saw its Boom Battle Bar estate grew to 27 sites (11 owner-operated and 16 franchised), while five new owner-operated Escape Hunts opened, taking the total to 23 (plus 23 franchised). It came as it reported group revenue growth of more than 300%, to £21.9m, with group Ebitda of £2.6m expected. That same month, Propel revealed that Boom Battle Bar founder Elliott Shuttleworth is set to launch Guacabowlé, a new concept that will involve Mexican-themed bowling with a food offering to match, in the third quarter of 2023. Shuttleworth, who is no longer involved with Boom Battle Bar, said he is also planning 40 new sites for crazy golf concept Putt Putt Noodle, and 20 for trampolining brand Flip Out, by 2026. Boom Battle Bar features in the Propel UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database, which is an exhaustive guide to the companies offering a food and beverage franchise in the UK and is available exclusively to Premium subscribers. The database is updated every two months. 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.
Rare Restaurants confirms closure of two sites, lfl growth up 24%: Rare Restaurants, the hospitality group consisting of Argentinian steak restaurants Gaucho and M Restaurants, has confirmed the closure of two of its London sites. The company, which has openings lined up this year for its Gaucho brand in Covent Garden, Liverpool and Cardiff, closed its M site in Victoria and Gaucho in Smithfield last month. A spokesperson for Rare Restaurants said: “Rare Restaurants continually monitors and optimises its portfolio. We have not renewed the leases at two of our sites – one in Victoria and one in Smithfield market – as they no longer meet our criteria [and therefore were closed last month]. With like-for-like growth across our estate running at 24% and three new sites opening this year, including Gaucho Newcastle this week and a further venue in Covent Garden, all our staff have been offered roles elsewhere in the group.” 
US seafood concept Angry Crab Shack opens first UK location: US seafood concept Angry Crab Shack has opened its first UK location. Propel reported in December that the business, launched in 2013 by former NFL player Ron Lou, was to make its UK debut in the spring after signing its first international development agreement. It has now opened the site, at 19a Rupert Street near Leicester Square in central London. The business, which has circa 19 locations in the US, signed a development agreement with Mason and M, which comprises director and sole shareholder Xiaoyong Li, operations director Lucy Liang and general manager Sonia Sheng. Mason and M plans to open two additional restaurants, in London and Cambridge, and will have the option to enter into a master agreement for the UK. Brian Herskovets was appointed as the company’s director of franchise operations last summer. Herskovets has more than 20 years of experience in managing operations for both independent and franchised concepts and most recently served as regional director of operations for Canada-based Kahala Brands.
Bewiched Coffee secures second franchise site with Heart Of England Co-operative Society: Midlands cafe operator Bewiched Coffee is set to extend its franchise partnership with Heart Of England Co-operative Society. The first site under the partnership opened in October at the Balsall Common Co-op store in the West Midlands. Now a second outlet is set to open in Leamington Spa. A 1,027 square-foot site at Leamington Shopping Park has been secured by agents Harris Lamb, which has been retained by Heart of England Co-Operative Society to identify suitable sites throughout the Midlands to establish coffee shops. The Leamington store, which is currently being fitted out to open this summer, will be Bewiched’s 16th location in the Midlands. David Walton, head of retail at Harris Lamb, said: “Heart of England Co-Operative Society is on a huge acquisition drive to source sites across the region suitable for its coffee shop offering, with particular emphasis on drive-thru opportunities and retail park locations.” Xprop acted for the landlord.

Tortilla appoints Andrew Brook as new head of IT: Tortilla, the UK’s largest fast-casual Mexican restaurant brand, has appointed Andrew Brook as its new head of IT. Brook most recently served as head of IT at Whole Foods Market, where he was responsible for the restructuring of regional IT support across the company and implementing technology at its stores and corporate offices. He has also held senior IT positions at Pod and Itsu. In his role, he will be responsible for driving forward the group’s IT strategy in line with its growth objectives. Tortilla recently appointed Holly Foot as people director. It said: “Both Andrew and Holly bring a significant amount of industry experience to Tortilla and will play important roles in its senior leadership team in the months ahead”. Andy Naylor, chief financial officer of Tortilla, said: “Andrew brings a wealth of sector expertise to the role, as well as significant experience in the development and implementation of industry-leading IT strategies, which we believe will prove invaluable as we scale up.”  
Leon owner EG Group agrees sale and leaseback of $1.5bn US-based portfolio of sites: EG Group, the owner of Leon, has agreed to the sale and leaseback of a portfolio of its sites on the east coast of the US to Realty Income Corporation for about $1.5bn. The portfolio – which EG America will continue to operate and trade – comprises 415 store assets under the Cumberland Farms, Fastrac, Tom Thumb and Sprint banners. EG Group said it “received a high degree of interest from multiple blue-chip investors and attractive terms for the transaction”. The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2023, subject to customary closing conditions, and the group will use net proceeds to repay debt. The assets represent just circa 15% of the group’s total freehold property in ten markets, reflecting how its estate “continues to be underpinned by strong asset backing globally”. Following completion, EG Group will pay an initial rent of $103m per annum with respect to these assets. The business said the transaction is in line with management’s commitment to reduce total net leverage through debt reduction and free cash flow generation. Zuber Issa, co-founder and co-chief executive of EG Group, said: “This announcement demonstrates the progress we continue to make to put in place a robust capital structure for the medium term that will underpin our long-term strategy and represents an important first step in this process.” New York Stock Exchange-listed Realty Income is an S&P 500 company structured as a real estate investment trust.
Costa Coffee announces 6.7% pay rise for more than 16,000 UK staff: Costa Coffee has announced a 6.7% pay rise for team members across its 1,520 company-owned stores in the UK. From Saturday, 1 April, base pay rates for Costa’s baristas will increase from £10 per hour to at least £10.70 per hour, while more experienced “barista maestros” will see an uplift from £10.53 to at least £11.23 per hour, depending on location and role. The company said all store team members, regardless of age, will receive at least £10.70 per hour. Upon completion of a comprehensive introductory training programme, baristas can quickly receive an extra uplift of 20p per hour, with “barista maestros” seeing a boost of 50p per hour. This means three-quarters of its team members will be on at least £10.90 per hour from April. This is the third time Costa has increased its pay rates in the last 12 months. In this time, the company's base rate of pay has risen from £9.36 to £10.70 per hour – an increase of more than 14%. Nick Orrin, interim UK & Ireland managing director, said: “Our expert baristas are at the heart of our business and the communities we serve, and we are proud to be rewarding their amazing work. This increase reflects everything they continue to do for our customers to make their day that little bit better.” Alongside the higher rates of pay, Costa said it has also enhanced its wider offer to team members as part of a total annual investment of more than £12m. This includes a bonus linked to the performance of their store, free drinks on shift and a team member discount across its entire menu, which this year has increased from 25% to 50%. Team members continue to be able to access wide-ranging discounts on household purchases, bills, and entertainment; up to 10% matching on pension contributions; income protection, life assurance; and a cycle-to-work scheme. Orrin said: “We continue to live in uncertain times, but we are passionate about putting our teams and communities first. By always investing in our stores and our teams, we can give everyone a little boost each time they step inside their local Costa Coffee.” 
Gordon Ramsay to reopen Pizza East site next week: Gordon Ramsay Restaurants has announced it will reopen the recently acquired Pizza East business in London’s Shoreditch, next Wednesday (15 March). Andy Wenlock, Gordon Ramsay Restaurants chief executive, said: “Our restaurant group and the Soho House Group have always had a great relationship, as colleagues, friends, and leaders in hospitality. Pizza East is a brand that is and will continue to be, cherished for years to come, as well as sitting proudly in our portfolio offering great food and great service to all our guests.” Gordon Ramsay Restaurants acquired the Pizza East brand and site in London’s Shoreditch from Soho House Group last month. It was reported at the end of last year that both Pizza East sites, in Shoreditch High Street and Notting Hill, had been shuttered. However, while the Notting Hill site remained closed, the Shoreditch site reopened after Christmas, but shut again last month. Propel understands the former Pizza East site in Notting Hill is under offer to a local operator. At the same time, it is thought Ramsay has placed his Bread Street Café site in Ealing, which opened in June 2021, on the market.
Slim Chickens south west franchisee opens third site: KK Restaurants SW, the franchisee for Slim Chickens in the south west, has opened its third site under the US brand, in Plymouth. The company has opened in 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, and followed this with an opening at Cabots Circus in Bristol. 
Soho restaurant 10 Greek Street launches events company: 10 Greek Street, the independent, neighbourhood restaurant and wine bar in London’s Soho, has launched an events company to mark its tenth anniversary. 10GS Events is a full-service catering company operating via its bespoke airstream trailer featuring a wood fired oven. Founders Cameron Emirali and Luke Wilson said: “Everything has been carefully designed to ensure the guest experience known and loved at 10 Greek Street can be replicated at any venue around the UK.” All menus are largely based around sharing plates with dishes such as onglet and Welsh black short rib with roasted hispi cabbage, fried potatoes, shallots and green peppercorns. The drinks list features a range of wine as well as kegs or bottles of beer from its sister brewery, Braybrooke Beer Co.

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