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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Wed 3rd May 2023 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Hornby – we’re letting our trading do the talking, we’ve got proper volume growth in dine-in: Andy Hornby, chief executive of The Restaurant Group (TRG), the Wagamama and Brunning & Price owner, has said the business is “letting our trading do the talking” after coming under fire from activist shareholders. Shares of TRG climbed 14.3%, or 5.8p, to close at 46.30p on the back of strong like-for-like sales growth in the first four months of its financial year and additional cost savings of £5m. It came after Oasis Management, a Hong Kong-based hedge fund with a stake of 12.3%, urged its fellow shareholders to vote against the company’s remuneration policy. Hornby said: “I think the phrase for today is we’re letting our trading do the talking. I think the numbers are clear, the reaction of our shares has been clear. We are letting the performance do the talking, particularly the performance of all of our businesses. You look at the way pubs and concessions are trading, we are letting our businesses do the talking.” The business saw a 15% increase in dine-in like-for-like sales, VAT adjusted for Wagamama, in the year to date versus the 17 weeks to 30 April 2022, with its pubs up 10%. Hornby said: “The chart we put out, with the dine-in like-for-like sales VAT adjusted shown, really allows you to see that we’ve got proper volume growth in dine-in. When everyone’s been cynical saying ‘can people grow customer numbers in dine in?’ you can see that in both Wagamama and our pubs, where we’ve got double digit like-for-like growth, yes, there is some price in there. But I can look you in the eye and say there is a lot of actual volume growth there, which is real people coming to our restaurants and pubs more than they were last year. I think we can genuinely say both Wagamama and Brunning & Price are showing the phenomenal natural loyalty of their customer bases. I think pubs are benefiting from a genuine end of covid feeling, because those customers were slower to come back after covid, because they were typically older or semi-retired. I think with Wagamama, you’re seeing the real benefit of Generation Z and younger millennials just going out more again. It may be a bit of a cliché that they want to spend their money on experiences rather than material stuff, but it’s true. We’ve not taken too much price, you can’t get over greedy on price. You’ve got to make sure that the proposition is still right, and we have worked very hard on menu quality, pricing and customer service levels generally. I do think improved HR KPIs are also helping our like-for-likes, because we are getting back to greater staff stability, which obviously had such a shake through the covid period.”

Industry News:

Sponsored message: Two weeks ago, CF Commercial, Shelley Sandzer and Nash Bond hosted a launch event at The Tree House in Elephant Park for the final opportunity to join the retail and leisure community in Block H7, which comprises ten new E-class units ranging in size from 1,012 square feet to 4,209 square feet. We are looking to attract ‘London heroes’, social or sustainability champions and brands that match the neighbourhood feel currently in Elephant Park. Elephant Park is one of Zone One London’s most unique and diverse neighbourhoods. There is a vibrant collection of high street environments, created to champion local businesses. We currently have more than 50 units trading from the site across four curated high streets, occupied by a personality-packed blend of retail and leisure occupiers. Elephant Park combines 3,000 homes and the catchment is set to grow by 220,000, including thousands of new residents, with 400 new apartments above Block H7. Over 23 million passengers pass through Elephant & Castle tube station. The owner of Kiki & Miumiu has stated: “It is great working with the Lendlease team, and we’re happy to be part of the Elephant Park community”. Please see the brochure here for information. Anyone interested and wanting further information can contact Gabi Drury (gabrielle@cfcommercial.co.uk) or Craig Fisher (craig@cfcommercial.co.uk) at CF Commercial. If you have a sponsored message you would like to see featured in this newsletter position, email paul.charity@propelinfo.com.
 
Stonegate MD Helen Charlesworth among speakers at Propel Multi-Club Conference featuring all-female line-up of leaders: Helen Charlesworth, managing director of Stonegate Pub Company, will be among the speakers at the second Propel Multi-Club Conference of 2023, which takes place on Thursday, 29 June, at the Millennium Gloucester Hotel in London’s Kensington. Charlesworth will talk about how she motivates and inspires people to do their best. The all-day conference, which is organised in conjunction with Ann Elliott, will feature an all-female line-up of sector leaders on learning lessons from the pandemic and moving forward. More than 300 people have already booked a place. Multi-site operators can book up to three free places each by emailing paul.charity@propelinfo.com.
 
Two days to go before the next edition of The New Openings Database release, to show details on 90 new sites, 4,000-word report included: The next edition of The New Openings Database will show the details of 90 newly announced site openings and upcoming launches for Premium subscribers when it is published on Friday (5 May), 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, niche cuisine, and expanding experiential concepts. Premium subscribers will also receive a 4,000-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 £995 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or a supplier. The single subscription rate is £495 plus VAT for operators and £595 plus VAT for suppliers. Email jo.charity@propelinfo.com to upgrade your subscription. 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.
 
Government publishes draft ‘Martyn’s Law’ legislation: The government has published draft legislation on “Martyn’s Law”, which will require venues to take steps to improve public safety and offer protection from terrorist attacks. The draft Terrorism (Protection of Premises) Bill sets out the requirements that venues and other organisations will have to meet to ensure public safety. “Martyn’s Law” is a tribute to Martyn Hett, who was killed alongside 21 others in the Manchester Arena terrorist attack in 2017. The draft bill will be subject to pre-legislative scrutiny by the Home Affairs select committee ahead of formal introduction. In December 2022, the government announced “Martyn’s Law” will introduce a tiered model for certain locations depending on the capacity of the premises or event and the activity taking place, to prevent unnecessary burden to business. The legislation will ensure venues are prepared for, and ready to respond in the event of, an attack. Security minister Tom Tugendhat said: “The threat from terrorism is enduring. In recent years, we have seen terrorists target the public at a broad range of locations, causing deaths and casualties among innocent people going about their everyday lives. This is a significant step forward for Martyn’s Law and our ability to further protect the public. I welcome the committee’s scrutiny to ensure this legislation is proportionate while enhancing our national security.”
 
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a luxury members’ club in London that is looking for a head of sales and membership to join its senior leadership team. A COREcruitment spokesperson said: “You will be responsible for driving revenue for the club through membership, table bookings, and a particular focus on private hire and events. The business is looking for a proactive and experienced individual, with a strong background in luxury hospitality and a fantastic network, who can hit the ground running. You will create and develop private hire and event sales strategy; build and nurture relationships to drive sales and repeat business; be responsible for membership acquisition and retention, members’ communications and events; and conduct visits with prospective members and authorised third parties.” The salary is up to £70,000 plus bonus and the position is based in London. For more information, email marlene@corecruitment.com 
 

Company News:

McEwan – TGI Fridays had lost its way and needs to get back to its core proposition: Julie McEwan, the new chief executive of Hostmore, the owners of the TGI Fridays brand, said the business had lost its way and needs to get back to its heritage with the reinvigoration of its bar offer. McEwan has been confirmed as the group’s chief executive after acting as its interim chief executive. She told Propel the business had spread itself too thin and got away from its core proposition, including a name change to Fridays, which has now been dropped. She said: “The excitement the original TGI Fridays drew from guests in 1986, that’s the excitement we want to get back. If you look at all the hospitality brands around the UK, can you name one that is famous for celebrations? You name it, we have the whole package, and we can do that for very little expense. We’ve got motivated teams and our bars are the heroes of our restaurants, but they’re just so underutilised. When I joined last year, I spent a month undercover and went round 54 restaurants. The teams were phenomenal. If you go back to our heritage, we started with bars, and we just want to get those back on the map and be famous for them again. I think we’ve got an ideal platform to do that.” McEwan said the business has a clear strategy in place to leverage its core proposition, underpinned by “quality, relevance and simplicity”. Two of its key focuses will be in branding and improving drink sales. She said: “In early 2020, TGI Fridays’ UK brand name was changed to ‘Fridays’, with the objective of giving the brand a refresh to help appeal to a new, younger audience. However, we identified the move lost us both brand awareness and recognition, and we’ve therefore decided to transition back to TGI Fridays. This supports our broader strategy to go back to our roots and rebuild what we are best at – that’s the original American cocktail bar and restaurant, famous for celebration. Another strategic growth objective for 2023 is going back to our heritage of being famous for cocktails. Drinks as a share of revenue declined from 26% in FY19 to 14% in FY22 as vertical drinking was banned and we became predominantly known as a restaurant, sometimes very transactional. Fun and flair was minimised. Our competitors at present have the edge, but repositioning our bars will attract new guests and support the recovery of sales revenue, especially post 8pm, and become the bedrock of our proposition. This, in turn, will improve our value proposition.” A trial of “two-for-one” rather than “two-for-£12” cocktails saw drinks revenue comprise 25% of revenues versus 14% at non-trial stores. McEwan added: “We’ve since rolled out this to the full estate, with results similar to the trial stores. There is an opportunity for circa £2.8m of incremental revenue to be delivered per annum here.”

Mackenzie – the big issue is giving customers a great experience and improving quality while under cost pressures: Nick Mackenzie, chief executive of brewer and retailer Greene King, has told Propel the big issue for the sector over the coming 12-18 months will be improving and maintaining the quality of service and offer while coming under further cost pressures. Speaking after the business reported group revenue for the 52 weeks to 1 January 2023 increased 62.2% to £2.176bn, up from £1.342bn, Mackenzie said: “What we’re trying to do is improve and maintain quality, in terms of the offer but also in terms of service. I think that’s the big thing that a lot of us have got to face over the next 12 to 18 months – how do we give customers a great experience and improve quality while we we’re under cost pressures? Because if you don’t, customers are not going to come back. We’ve seen a bit of a continuation in some ways in volume terms from last year, so volumes are still depressed, and I think that’s consistent across the whole industry. This year has been in line with our expectations so far. We did expect a challenging consumer environment during the first part of the year, but we are broadly where we expect it to be. Yes, sales levels are strong relative to last year, but I think the cost environment is still very challenging, and we do expect that to continue for a little while. You can see that in some of the numbers that came out about closures in the last 12 months. You can certainly see that affecting some of the smaller independent businesses, and that’s a real shame.” In 2021, the business launched Dartboard, a new internal tool for measuring the performance of its leased and tenanted division in FY22, with an objective of focusing on “a balanced view of measuring success”. Mackenzie said: “The first year of using the Dartboard has been a success, with performance highlights including pubs code adjudicator compliance (98%) and licensee satisfaction (78%), which landed ahead of target. It’s very much about getting a balance of performance. It isn’t just about financial, which is very important, but it’s about people, it’s about the customer. One of the many things businesses are having to do is work on operational efficiency and how they can be more efficient to counteract some of the cost pressures we’ve got. That’s from how we work in a pub to how we work back of house to how we run our supply chains. There’s a lot of work going on in the background on that.” 

Mowgli – new openings performing well, set for further growth: Mowgli, the Nisha Katona-led, Indian street food concept, has said its trading since the end of its last financial year, to the end of July 2022, has been good. Earlier this year, Propel revealed that TriSpan, the global private equity firm, had acquired a stake in the business as it looked to back the continued expansion of the then 15-strong Mowgli. Since then, the business has opened new sites in Brighton and, most recently, Edinburgh. The company told Propel: “Trading since July 2022 has been good, and the business is performing in line with our expectations. We are delighted by the new openings.” The business “enjoyed a strong year” in the 12 months to 31 July 2022, following two years heavily impacted by covid-19 and associated trading restrictions. The company said: “A full year of trade saw turnover increase by 214% to £26,877,190 (2021: £8,577,346) driven by four new openings in the financial year and strong underlying sales growth from the existing estate, following the lifting of all covid-19 restrictions. The group operated 15 restaurants across the country at year end with leases secured or in negotiation for further openings in the coming years. Adjusted Ebitda was £4.7m (2021: £0.5m). Net debt (borrowings less cash at bank and in hand) stood at £3.2m, an increase of £1.6m on prior year due to reduced cash at year end due to working capital requirements. Net assets were £257,000 at year end (2021: net liabilities £1.7m). This is a result of £3.5m increase to fixed assets across the estate mainly due to four new openings which was offset by a reduction in cash of £1.5m due to working capital requirements at year end.” Pre-tax profit for the year was £391,117 (2021: loss of £2,953,316). The business has further openings lined up in Bristol and Beverley and is also believed to be in talks on sites in Lincoln and Knutsford.
 
Prezzo braces for landlord showdown over restaurant closures: Prezzo, the high street restaurant chain, is bracing for a court showdown with landlords over the closure of a third of its sites. Sky News writes that Prezzo will write to the owners of its 143-strong estate this week to notify them of the legal process through which it intends to shut unprofitable stores. City sources said the chain, which is owned by Cain International, intended to use a formal restructuring plan to force through the overhaul. Propel revealed last week that the business was working with FRP Advisory on its options. Prezzo announced last week that it was axing 46 outlets with the loss of more than 800 jobs. It said rising energy bills and double-digit cost inflation on items including dough balls and spaghetti had hit the financial performance of many of its sites. Landlords, who include some of Britain’s biggest commercial property-owners, will be able to vote at a hearing on 22 May, according to an insider. However, the plan is certain to be approved because of Cain’s status as Prezzo’s largest creditor, the insider added. The chain’s remaining sites will not be the subject of any rent cuts.
 
Dorbiere returns to pre-pandemic turnover levels as profits soar: Pub operator Dorbiere returned to pre-pandemic levels of turnover in the year ending 30 September 2022 as profits soared. Turnover was up from £7,170,440 in 2021 to £13,952,846. This compares with £13,119,363 in the last full year before covid, ending 30 September 2019. Pre-tax profit rose from £1,563,319 in 2021 to £2,955,232 (2019: £1,503,510). The company received £159,804 in government grants compared with £1,403,972 in 2021. At year-end, the company had net assets of £18,935,954 (2021: £16,524,477). Average monthly staffing levels jumped from 53 in 2021 to 68. Having disposed of two underperforming sites during the previous year, the company disposed of a further site post year-end, “to allow us to concentrate on our better performing units”. It said: “This, together with improved margin and cost control with an established management team, will combine to maintain current company profitability.” It still operates an estate of circa 40 pubs in the north of England. Director Ebrahim Mukadam, in his statement accompanying the accounts, added: “The ongoing business is secure, solvent and has access to funds if necessary.”
 
South west pub group Buccaneer reports business remains profitable despite energy costs: Buccaneer Holdings, which runs nine managed pubs in the south west of England, has said the business remains profitable despite the pressure of energy prices on the company. It comes as the business reported turnover increased to £9,633,565 for the year ending 1 November 2022 compared with £5,818,345 the year before. Revenue was also up on the £8,855,227 reported for the year ending 1 November 2019 – the last full year before the pandemic. Pre-tax profit was down to £290,496 from £374,781 the previous year (2019: £196,203). A dividend of £6,334 was paid (2021: £6,334). The company was founded in 1974 by Michael Ruthven and remains in family ownership. 
 
Former Gordon Ramsay and Galvin alumni to open Cardiff restaurant and bar: A new high-end restaurant and bar is set to open next month in Cardiff, by a duo who have worked for Gordon Ramsay and the Galvin brothers. The venue – Silures – will offer modern European cuisine and a signature cocktail menu at the former site of Cameo Club, in Wellfield Road, from Friday, 19 May. Silures is the flagship venue for Andrei Maxim and Daf Andrews, of the newly founded A&M Hospitality Group. The duo have worked at London venues such as Savoy Grill by Gordon Ramsay, Galvin Bar & Grill and The Coral Room. Silures will seat up to 100-guests in the reimagined space that includes a dedicated dog-friendly area in the rear terrace. Executive head chef Byron Moussouris joins Silures following five years at luxury hotel The Bloomsbury and four years at The Marylebone as head chef. Born and bred in South Africa, Moussouris was classically trained in some of the top restaurants and hotels in Cape Town. Andrews said: “Silures will be high end and high quality but completely accessible at the same time. It’s a homecoming for myself and a new home for Andrei. We’re looking forward to bringing a sense of Silures to Cardiff.”
 
Sale of Authentic Alehouses pub falls through, set to go to market again: The sale of an Authentic Alehouses pub, the Ponty Tavern in Pontefract, has fallen through, but it is set to go to market again. The administrators of the once seven-strong company have been looking for buyers for the Ponty Tavern and two other pubs – The Fountain Inn in Barnoldswick and The Albert in Hull – as previously reported. At the start of the year, offers had been accepted on both the Ponty Tavern and The Fountain, while alternative options were being considered for the site of The Albert. The Ponty Tavern sale has since fallen through as “the buyer repeatedly wanted price reductions”, but the pub continues to trade under management and will be remarketed for sale. Progress has been slow on selling The Fountain Inn, for which an offer has been accepted in line with the RICS valuation, while the buyer is in the process of providing funding for the sale, which is anticipated to complete within the next quarter. The Albert, which had continued to trade strongly but was hit by the unprecedented inflation in energy bills and other costs, has now closed while alternative plans are considered for the site. The update was revealed in an email to investors by secured creditor Crowdstacker, which has been seen by Propel. Allan Harper-led Authentic Alehouses, which launched in 2017, entered administration in March 2019.
 
North west London sushi bar concept set to open fifth site: North west London sushi bar concept Kiyoto Sushi is set to open a fifth site, in Hatch End. The business, founded by brothers Jason and Adam Balsam in 2015, has taken on a site at 312 Uxbridge Road, joining its other locations in Borehamwood, Mill Hill, West Hampstead and Cockfosters. Before founding the company, Jason was a city trader while Adam was working in the manufacturing of beauty products in China. “At the time, you needed to travel into town for great sushi and pay high prices at places like Roka or Zuma,” Adam told Jewish News. “I wanted to serve the same quality but make it accessible. From the beginning we wanted to do good food at good quality at a good price, and I think that’s what we did. Everything is made fresh every day using the same process, so we get consistency across the branches. We personally oversee everything we do from morning to night ourselves.” On sushi’s growing popularity, he added: “It’s such a clean meal – you don’t feel unhealthy afterwards, but you do feel full. Food fashions come and go but it’s had the longest run. We choose our areas carefully and we get quite a few emails from customers asking if we’d consider open in their areas, which is a compliment. One thing we would never consider is franchising as we wouldn’t be in total control of our product. We are so involved in the day-to-day running of how everything works.”
 
Ex-Gymkhana head chef to oversee new Indian restaurant Kachori in Elephant Park: Kachori, a new regional Indian restaurant, will open in London’s Elephant Park in June. The venue will seek to showcase the cooking of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and the Punjab, with the concept dreamt up by Sorowar Khan, founder of Mango in Borough, and hospitality consultant Humayun Hussain. Former executive chef of Benares and head chef at Gymkhana Brinder Narula will oversee the 132-cover restaurant’s menu, which will feature small plates like Indian-style corn ribs; calamari with ginger, chilli and lime; and guinea fowl tikka. There will also be a smashed cheeseburger with masala gravy, spiced fried chicken and Parsi lamb keema. Kachori will also serve traditional dishes from the tandoor, as well as larger plates including prawn curries, butter chicken, and Keralan beef. Guy Thomas, head of retail and place assets at landlord Lendlease, said: “The opening of this debut concept at Elephant Park is testament to our long-standing commitment to promote and support a diverse line-up of independents.”
 
Team behind two Newcastle bars and pubs opening new shipping container leisure complex: The team behind two Newcastle bars and a pub are opening a new shipping container leisure complex in the city. Frate is being created by the curators of Market Shaker, Pumphreys and The Dog & Parrot and will open on Friday, 26 May, on a site behind Grey Street, just off High Bridge. Set over two levels, the venue will feature murals from street artists and offer alfresco dining, offering barbecue and Mezze-style dishes alongside creative drinks, live sport, DJ sets and live music. Frate will also host pop-up workshops and events including open cinema nights, record fayres, vintage clothing markets and yoga classes. Co-curator of Frate, Rob Clarkson, said: “Frate is bringing together the best of our local and independent food, drink, art and music within the city. We are excited to be bringing our new concept to life.”

Welsh fish and chip shop owner to launch second site: Welsh fish and chip shop owner Lee Humphreys is set to launch his second restaurant in a Caerphilly town. Humphreys, who is the owner of Fish Kitchen 1854 in the village of Maesycwmmer, is to open Fish Kitchen 1931 on Monday, 29 May, in Bargoed. The restaurant has undergone a refurbishment, with a new mezzanine floor created above the kitchen. The restaurant area will have table booths, designed in theme of a viaduct, with each one being named after the local coalmines. Also celebrated will be the history of the town, with each having screens regaling the heritage of the area. Humphreys said there are also plans to apply for a licence to serve alcohol on the premises and provide high-end fish delicacies. Fish Kitchen 1931 received two grants from the UK government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF), amounting to £50,000. The business also received a further £10,000 grant from Caerphilly Enterprise Fund and a £25,000 grant from the Transforming Towns Fund. Humphreys said: “I’m excited to open this new concept, giving Bargoed a historic fish and chips experience.”

Team behind Camden’s The Black Cow launches American diner with Middle Eastern influences: Chefs Shiri Kraus and Amir Batito, who are behind Camden steakhouse The Black Cow, have opened an American diner with Middle Eastern influences in north London. The duo have launch Epicurus in Camden’s North Yard. The menu includes beef short rib rack glazed with pomegranate molasses and date honey, and sharing dishes such as Canadian poutine and a mixed grill platter that includes beef rib cap, confit pork belly, jalapeno and cheddar sausage and lamb leg steak, reports Hot Dinners. The drinks list features alcoholic shakes including tangerine, pistachio and gin; and banana, melon, date and rum. Kraus, formerly of Palomar and The Barbary, and Batito, previously of Machneyuda, opened The Black Cow in Camden’s Hawley Wharf development in September 2021.

Australian gym franchise to open in former Chiquito site in Colchester: Australian gym franchise Jetts Fitness is to open a site in Colchester for its debut venue in Essex. The business is set to launch in the premises previously occupied by The Restaurant Group-owned brand Chiquito at the Tollgate shopping park, reports Essex Live. The 24-hour fitness company was founded in Australia in 2007 by husband-and-wife team Brendon and Cristy Levenson. Since then, it has expanded globally, with chains in New Zealand, The Netherlands, Thailand and England. There are currently 12 outlets across England with four upcoming launches, including the impending Colchester site. Future opening will see gyms opens in Farnham, Newquay and Wandsworth. Chiquito closed in 2020 after TRG announced it would reduce its leisure business size by around 30%.

Kokoro to open Coventry site: Sushi and bento brand Kokoro is to open a site in Coventry. The company has been granted permission by the city council to convert the former Holland & Barrett store in Broadgate. The site will have a takeaway focus “with some seating available”, reports Coventry Live. The business, which was founded in 2010 by Ray-Kyu Park, operates 68 sites in the UK.

Nottingham Italian restaurant to open West Bridgford site: Nottingham Italian restaurant Sexy Mamma Love Spaghetti is set to open a West Bridgford venue. The concept will open in Tudor Square in the Nottingham suburb, in the premises previously occupied by gift shop Connaught House, which closed in January. Sexy Mamma Love Spaghetti has been operating in Heathcote Street, in the Hockley area of Nottingham, for around seven years and has also opened Botti de Mama in Broad Street. A statement from Sexy Mamma Love Spaghetti on social media said: “We will make the new venue as local as one can do. Let's have fun.” FHP acted on the West Bridgford deal.

Freehold of Lincoln property let to Prezzo and Nando’s goes on market for £3.25m: The freehold of a property in Lincoln let to Prezzo, the Cain International-backed Italian dining group, and Nando’s has gone on the market for £3,250,000. The property in Brayford Wharf North was converted in the mid-2000s by developer Lindum, to create three restaurant units, which are currently let to Prezzo, Nando’s and Lincoln Burger, trading as Handmade Burger. Handmade Burger closed in July 2022 and “discussions are ongoing with a number of national operators interested in taking a new lease”. The restaurants pay a total rent of £265,100 per annum and have ten years and eight months left on their leases, reports Lincolnshire Live. Although the Lincoln branch hasn’t been affected, Prezzo announced last week it would close 46 loss-making restaurants across the UK. The company said it has seen the cost of spaghetti rise 40%, pizza sauce go up 28%, and the cost of its dough balls increase 15%.

Sunderland coffee shop founders launch roastery: The founders of Sunderland coffee shop concept Fausto have established a new speciality coffee bean roastery in the city. FC Roast was founded by Peter Riddell, Louise Curtis-Robertson and John Curtis-Robertson, who began roasting beans to be used in their four Fausto shops across the city. After positive feedback from customers, the business has now set up its own site in Southwick, where it roasts ethically sourced coffee beans from Brazil, Ethiopia, Colombia, Peru and Yemen. FC Roast worked with the business investment team at Sunderland City Council to secure the premises. Riddell said: “We knew we wanted to keep the business in Sunderland. The regeneration taking place in the city is amazing, and I think it’s a great place to be for growing businesses. We’re looking to be able to supply more local venues and sell wholesale in the city and beyond.”

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