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Wed 15th Mar 2023 - Update: New Bone Daddies MD, Hard Rock Café, no short-term VAT relief, JD Wetherspoon
Bones Daddies appoints new MD: Bone Daddies Group – which comprises the eponymous ramen restaurants, Shack-Fuyu and Flesh & Buns – has appointed Steve Hill as its new managing director, Propel has learned. Hill joined the Bone Daddies Group as operations director in October 2018, having previously held similar senior operations roles with the Jamie Oliver Group, Novus and TGI Fridays. The news follows the recent retirement of Demetri Tomazos, co-founder of both Bone Daddies and Flesh & Buns brands alongside Ross Shonhan, who left the company in March 2020. The Bone Daddies Group currently employs over 400 staff and comprises seven Bone Daddies’ ramen bar sites in Soho, Old Street, Bond Street, Victoria, Richmond, Bermondsey and Kensington; two Flesh & Buns’ izakaya sites in Covent Garden and Oxford Circus, as well as stand-alone restaurant Shackfuyu in Soho. It was founded in 2012 by Shonhan and Tomazos, with Tom Moxon onboard as original head chef. Following an 18 month ‘gap year’ Moxon returned to Bone Daddies as group head chef’ in early 2022. 

Latest Who’s Who of UK Food and Beverage to feature 654 companies, released on Friday: The latest Who’s Who of UK Food and Beverage will feature 654 companies when it is released to Premium subscribers on Friday (17 March). This month’s edition includes 42 updated entries and more than 170,000 words of content. The companies, listed in alphabetical order, 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, merges 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 Multi-Site Database, produced in association with Virgate; the New Openings Database; the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book; 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 jo.charity@propelinfo.com to upgrade your subscription. Subscribers also receive access to Propel’s library of Friday Wrap interviews and now also have access to a curated video library of the sector’s finest leaders and entrepreneurs, offering their insights on running outstanding businesses in the sector. Premium subscribers 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.

Playtech takes an $85m punt on Hard Rock Café: Hard Rock’s global expansion plans were given a boost yesterday when Playtech, the gambling technology firm, placed an $85m bet on the Hard Rock brand as part of a strategic partnership with the operator of cafés, hotels and casinos. The Times reports that Hard Rock Digital (HRD), the brand’s online sports betting and interactive gaming arm, will license technology and so-called iGaming content from Playtech, including slots and live dealer table games in the US and Canada, with additional software and services solutions in other parts of the world. The agreement is based predominantly on a revenue share basis, while Playtech is also investing $85m for a low-single-digit percentage minority equity stake in HRD. It said that the investment “will predominantly be used to help fund HRD’s continued global expansion”. Playtech, a technology, software and games supplier, said it would license the content across Hard Rock’s “global ecosystem” of entertainment, hospitality and bricks-and-mortar casinos.

Nicholls – ‘not confident at all’ that there will be any temporary VAT relief for business owners in the pipeline: The UK’s hospitality sector won’t be getting its much-demanded VAT cut, the boss of UKHospitality has said. The Manchester Evening News reported that talking during a panel discussion at the annual Northern Restaurant and Bar show at Manchester Central Kate Nicholls, UKHospitality chief executive, said she was “not confident at all” that there would be any temporary relief for business owners in the pipeline. She said: “Firstly, it was temporary, so the government is pretty firm on the fact, and Rishi Sunak is quite stubborn with the way he works things through. ‘It was temporary, I reversed it, none of you said thank you, none of you said it was good enough’. If you were to go back to 5%, that’s £8bn. It’s an £8bn bill. In the context of everything else that’s going on, I cannot see politically, given all the pressures that they’ve got, how they can justify doing that. He was very adamant that it was temporary, it’s been reversed, if he did it again it would be open season and everybody would ask for it. Politically, I just don’t see how he can do it at this point in time. We will keep campaigning on it, and we do keep campaigning for duty free sales for overseas visitors. Our valuable overseas visitors are not coming back, they’re down about a third in terms of their spend, they’re going to Paris and Milan instead. But you’ve got to be politically pragmatic when you’ve got public sector finance in such a state. We’d look tin-eared and naïve to be asking for something like that, so I’d rather go in and work with the government to try and get something and then continue to talk with them, and talk to the opposition, because we’re 18 months from a general election.”

JD Wetherspoon pulls plug on £3m New Brighton redevelopment: Work on a major new JD Wetherspoon pub on Merseyside is not set to continue any further with the company announcing that it is pulling out of the project. The Master Mariner in New Brighton, Wirral, had been the subject of a £3m revamp which included expanding into the adjoining Lacy’s Bar. The pub originally opened in 2013 on the site of the former RJs and the Playas Lounge nightclubs. In March 2022 the seaside bar and restaurant closed as works began on the transformation. Works were set to be completed in August of the same year but the pub chain announced that its doors had to remain closed while works continued, with no date given when people could return. Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon said: “Wetherspoon can confirm that it has stopped redevelopment work at The Master Mariner pub (New Brighton) and will not progress with the work. The building and the land is to be put up for sale. All staff will continue to work at other Wetherspoon pubs and there will be no redundancies as a result of the pub being sold. This is a commercial decision by Wetherspoon. The company remains committed to the Wirral and have a number of pubs in the region, including the recently opened pub in Heswall.”

Company insolvencies at their highest in four years: The number of companies entering insolvency rose by almost a fifth last month as a result of the cost of living crisis and higher interest rates. The Times reports registered company insolvencies increased by 17.5% year-on-year to 1,783 in February, according to figures from the Insolvency Service. Nicky Fisher, vice-president of the restructuring industry body R3, said that corporate insolvency figures had hit their highest in four years, driven by directors choosing to close their own businesses using creditors’ voluntary liquidations. The number of CVLs rose by 13% to 1,505. “After nearly three years of lockdowns, supply chain issues, rising costs and falling revenues, many business owners have simply had enough, and are shutting up shop before they are forced to,” Fisher said. “Trading conditions remain tough for many in England and Wales and it seems the traditional Christmas and New Year trading period didn’t give them the boost they needed to survive.” Restructuring advisers have said they expect to see more activity as businesses struggle with the rising cost of debt. Lindsey Cooper, of RSM UK’s restructuring advisory business, said: “The impact of rising interest rates has yet to fully bite and is likely to cause more challenges for those sectors impacted by consumer spending.”

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