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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Fri 5th May 2023 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Hospitality drives city centre growth after robust first quarter but inflation curbs real-terms growth: Pubs, restaurants and bars in Britain’s biggest cities achieved solid year-on-year growth in the first quarter of 2023, with London’s revival continuing and Edinburgh topping the list of most vibrant cities. The new “Top Cities” report from CGA by NIQ and Wireless Social shows sales in each of Britain’s ten biggest cities were higher than the first quarter of 2022, while device check-ins continue to build back towards pre-covid levels. However, the year-on-year comparisons benefit from weak trading in early 2022, when concerns about Omicron kept many consumers away from city venues. Growth has also been impacted by high inflation, which means trading for many operators remains well behind last year’s levels in real terms. The report combines sales data from CGA by NIQ with check-in data from Wi-Fi provider Wireless Social to produce a “vibrancy” ranking of the ten cities in the first quarter. It is led by Edinburgh, where sales and log-ins have both surged back since the end of covid restrictions. London, which was hit hard by covid lockdowns, soared to second on the list after welcoming back many office workers and visitors over the first quarter. Elsewhere in the rankings, third-placed Sheffield is the best performing city in the north of England, while Glasgow was in fourth. At the other end of the table are Leeds, Birmingham and Liverpool. CGA client director Chris Jeffrey said: “Consumers remain very keen to visit city centre pubs, bars and restaurants, despite the squeeze on their discretionary spending. While high inflation continues to make trading conditions difficult, hospitality is a resilient and dynamic sector that is helping to breathe life back into cities’ economies after the turmoil of the pandemic. It deserves targeted and sustained support from government to sustain hard-working businesses through the costs crisis.” Julian Ross, founder and chief executive of Wireless Social, added: “Footfall and sales remain strong in major hubs all over the UK, especially across competitive socialising and more experience-led concepts that have emerged and blossomed since the pandemic. However, the market is still fraught with economic obstacles that are continuing to pose a serious threat to the survival of many businesses. Without the requisite support, the road ahead is set to be extremely rocky for our sector.”

Industry News:

Rebecca Mascarenhas among speakers at Propel Multi-Club Conference featuring all-female line-up of leaders: Rebecca Mascarenhas, who co-owns Michelin-starred Elystan Street in Chelsea and Kitchen W8 in Kensington with chef Phil Howard, 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. Mascarenhas, who has more than three decades of industry experience, will talk about her career to date. 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.

Next edition of The New Openings Database to be sent to Premium subscribers today, to show details of 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 today (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 groups, 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.

Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with an expanding group of bars and restaurants that is looking for a regional operations manager. A COREcruitment spokesperson said: “The company is going from strength to strength with new openings happening regularly. The business prides itself on the customer service and quality product it provides on a day-to-day basis. It take its heritage very seriously. The business is evolving all the time and a candidate who has a track record of business change to keep ahead of market trends will do well.” The salary is up to £80,000 plus car allowance and bonus and the position is based in northern England. For more information, email kate@corecruitment.com
 

Company News:

Imbiba generates six times return on NQ64 investment: Imbiba’s exit of immersive retro arcade bar concept NQ64 saw the sector-focused investment firm generate a six times return in two years, Propel has learned. The deal marks the first exit from the Imbiba growth fund. Alternative lender ThinCats has provided a £10m facility to NQ64, supporting the owners with a share buyback of the minority shareholding from Imbiba and the further rollout of new sites across the UK. Imbiba, now Europe’s largest investor in social entertainment businesses, invested in NQ64 in 2021 having met Andy Haygarth, who founded the business with Matt Robson, two years before when he and the team opened the first venue in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. Venues in Liverpool and Birmingham quickly followed prior to Imbiba’s investment. Following Imbiba’s investment, the NQ64 team opened a further six sites, with a strong current pipeline of future openings including Shoreditch in London and Bristol. Management continues to target new venues of between 4,000 and 10,000 square feet for further expansion. At the time of Imbiba’s investment, David McDowall, currently chief executive of Stonegate Group, joined NQ64 as non-executive chairman. Lizzie Ryan, partner and head of investment at Imbiba, said: “Andy, Matt and the team at NQ64 are the very best at what they do. We are extremely fortunate to have been able to partner with them and we wish them the very best for the future.” Imbiba recently closed a new investment fund to invest into the UK’s leading leisure and entertainment businesses. Following initial funding from ThinCats in 2022, NQ64 expanded its presence in Manchester with the acquisition of Dogbowl, a New York-inspired bowling alley that combines five full-length bowling lanes and a new arcade. 
 
Wingstop CEO – UK site economics are at levels comparable with our domestic business: Michael Skipworth, president and chief executive of Wingstop, has said the brand’s UK site economics are at levels comparable with its domestic business. Lemon Pepper Holdings, which is rolling out Wingstop across the UK, currently operates 31 sites here. Skipworth said: “We’re making great progress in our international markets, where we see an opportunity to open more than 3,000 restaurants. Our UK market, which serves as a playbook for future market launches, continues to expand average unit volumes past $2m (£1.59m), while unit economics are at levels comparable with our domestic business.” When asked if the business would be willing to break down the international part of its system-wide sales, Skipworth said: “That’s not really anything we’ve done yet as it still continues to build. But obviously as we progress and it becomes more of the growth story, that’s something we’ll break out. I’ll say the comparables for our international business was really strong in the first quarter, somewhat similar to what we saw in the overall domestic business.” On the pace of expanding the brand into new countries, he said: “As we bring new territories online, the way those development agreements are written is they start out with a little bit of a slower pace. But then as they get up to the pace of what we see in the UK today, which is opening roughly mid-teens units a year, more territories get to that pace when it becomes a more meaningful contribution to the overall unit growth story.” Lemon Pepper Holdings is set to launch its next Wingstop site in the Brewery Quarter in Cardiff, with a further site secured in Chelmsford, Essex, as it eyes double-figure openings in 2023. It follows a year of “aggressive development” for the brand, with 2022 seeing 11 new locations open, headcount increase to circa 1,000 and more than 2.2 million customers served. It expects to exceed those development numbers in 2023, with several new locations already secured for the year.

UK bubble tea brand Cupp eyeing international expansion as it closes in on 30 UK sites: UK bubble tea brand Cupp is eyeing international expansion as it closes in on 30 UK sites, Propel has learned. The franchise brand, founded by Lee Peacock in 2012, has in the last few weeks opened new sites in Blackburn, at 67 Victoria Street, and in Glasgow, at 520 Victoria Road – its third location in the Scottish city. Cupp head of franchise Paul Tanner said: “It’s been a busy few weeks at Cupp! We opened two new sites in Blackburn and Victoria Road (Glasgow). They have been so successful, and the teams have been unbelievable. A massive thank you to all involved. The feedback from our customers has been outstanding and I cannot wait for 2024. Store 30...we are coming for you!” Propel understands Cupp, which is yet to make its overseas debut, currently has a number of international master agreements in place but is actively seeking international master partners in India, Saudi Arabia, France, Germany, the US and Canada. A master partner would need to have liquid capital of £450,000 and be an existing business owner. Cupp is also seeking a master franchise deal for Northern Ireland. Elsewhere in the UK, the company said due to the “overwhelming success” of its bubble tea franchise, it only has five territories left to sell, as three-store regions. These are Stoke, Essex, Greater London, Sheffield and Ipswich/Norwich. Packages are available for a £17,000 franchise fee and £140,000 total investment. Cupp also has sites in Exeter, Guildford and Nottingham “opening soon”. Mikayla Whittle, who is leading the brand’s expansion in Scotland, also said it has ten more stores in the pipeline “across cities including Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee, Inverness, and Edinburgh”. Cupp features in the Propel UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database. The latest edition, which was sent to Premium subscribers last month, featured 200 companies and more than 93,000 words. 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.

Gail’s adds Didsbury site to north west openings pipeline: Fast-growing bakery brand Gail’s is continuing to build its openings pipeline in the north west of England after securing a site in Didsbury. The company, which made its north west debut in February, in Wilmslow, Cheshire, is set to open on the former HSBC bank site in Wilmslow Road, Didsbury. It opened its second site in the region in March, in Shaw Road, Altrincham. The Bain Capital-backed business also has a third northern site in the pipeline, in the former White Stuff unit in Manchester’s King Street. It has also submitted plans to convert the former La Boutique d’Or site in Knutsford. The opening of sites in the region reinforces the circa 110-strong company’s long-standing ties to the area following The Bread Factory, Gail’s sister-brand and wholesale bakery, opening its Manchester bakery in Openshaw in 2017.

Chopstix introduces new weekday-only menu item as data shows return of Monday to Friday workers: Fast growing quick service restaurant brand Chopstix has introduced a new weekday-only menu item, as data shows the return of Monday to Friday workers in UK cities, Propel has learned. It has launched the Noodle Super Bowl across all Chopstix equity sites, available Monday to Friday to cater to workers returning to the office. It offers diners a portion of noodles and three spring rolls with katsu curry sauce for £3.95. Rob Burns, Chopstix’s marketing director, said: “We are continually analysing store sales data and customer feedback to ensure our offer reflects the needs and behaviours of our consumers. We have noted an increase in Monday to Friday sales, as more workers return to the office, at the same time people are still feeling the pinch from the cost-of-living crisis. The launch of the Noodle Super Bowl looks to deliver a great tasting dish our customers can enjoy during the working week without breaking the bank. We will continue to innovate our menu as the demand for affordable dishes throughout the week, remains high.” Having opened 26 stores last year, Chopstix plans to open a further 30 sites in 2023. In March, the company reported its system sales are forecast to surpass £65m by the end of FY23, an increase of more than 40% against FY22. Revenue is projected to rise even further in FY24, with the business expecting system sales to surpass £90m over its next financial year. Chopstix features in Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book. For the year ending 24 April 2022, Chopstix turned over £38,675,537, which is the 166th 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 £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.

Co-founder James Croft steps down as Valiant Pubs CFO: Co-founder James Croft has stepped down as Valiant Pub Company’s chief financial officer. Croft, former group strategy and retail director at Ei Group, teamed up with Gerry Carroll and Mark McGinty, who co-founded Hawthorn Leisure, to found the new venture in January 2021. Having stepped down from the circa 50-strong company’s board in March, Croft has now left the business. The board said it would like to note Croft’s “significant contribution to the business” and is “grateful for all his hard work and energy in supporting Valiant through its start-up phase and positioning it for future growth”. Croft added: “I have a tremendous fondness for the Valiant family and I have thoroughly enjoyed the last couple of years. I would like to thank the board, and our fantastic investor Njord, for their support in enabling me to start the next chapter of my career.” The company said it continues to expand rapidly and is “focused on developing a substantial pub business in the coming years”, with support from investment partner Njord Partners.

Bancone set for Borough Yards opening: Bancone, the all-day fresh pasta concept led by Will Ellner and backed by David Ramsey and Jason Myers, is set to open a site near London’s Borough Market. Propel understands that Bancone, which closed its campaign on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube in December after raising more than £900,000, is set to open a site in the Borough Yards development. Bancone was offering 4.32% of equity in the crowdfunding campaign, giving it a pre-money valuation of £15,508,020. Bancone launched in Covent Garden’s William IV Street in 2018 and opened its second site, in Soho’s Lower James Street, the following year. The company said at the time of the fundraise: “We have honed our business model and are now set to expand in London, with sites potentially lined up in Borough, Battersea, Notting Hill and Shoreditch/City (dependent on amount raised). We’ve successfully survived covid and are now serving circa 4,500 customers per week at our popular Soho and Covent Garden restaurants, which now regularly turnover £110,000-£120,000 per week and have generated year-to-date sales (nine months) of £3.8m, which are ramping up (Ebitda £53,000). We’re extremely proud of our credentials as a Michelin endorsed restaurant group, and we believe we have created a scalable business and disruptive model, offering Michelin quality food at casual dining prices.” Distrkt represents Borough Yards.

North London pub let to Disappearing Dining Club sells for £1.9m: A north London pub which is currently let to Disappearing Dining Club has sold for £1,910,000, reflecting a blended net initial yield of 5.84%. Coffer Corporate Leisure advised a private client on the sale of the Dartmouth Arms at 35 York Rise in Tufnell Park. The freehold site has operated as a pub for more than 150 years and is let to Disappearing Dining Club, the dinner dance events company, for a further 13 years. Jack Higgitt, investment agent at Coffer, said: “Transactional activity in the pub sector has remained stable in recent months, with interest and pricing driven by a lack of quality assets. Investors are comfortable without strong covenants if they have confidence in the operator and the asset has strong property fundamentals. We have been involved in a number of pub transactions this year, both in London and regionally. Those that have occurred have been to experienced purchasers of these types of assets, taking advantage of a limited buyer pool, and in some cases, slightly reduced pricing. We expect this trend to continue into the summer.” Colliers acted for the purchaser, an institutional client. Disappearing Dining Club, which took on the pub in 2019, last month opened its second London pub, Simon the Tanner in Bermondsey.

New Dawn puts freehold of Hampshire gastropub on the market for circa £995,000: New Dawn Pubs, the new vehicle launched last year by the founders of Red Mist Leisure, has put the freehold of a Hampshire gastropub on the market. Agent Fleurets is marketing The Rose & Crown, in the village of Upper Farringdon, with the freehold available for a guide price of £995,000 plus VAT. The property offers a large garden overlooking fields, a front bar with 30 covers, a restaurant with 34 covers and an events room with 34 covers. New Dawn Pubs managing director Mark Robson said: “The Rose & Crown is a destination food-led pub with a great reputation that is well supported by the local community. I am certain that whoever acquires the pub will inherit an invested, vibrant and thriving business with a promising future and opportunity to expand and develop further.” Robson, chair of the British Institute of Innkeeping, founded New Dawn Pubs in July 2022 alongside fellow directors Mark Williams, Julian Clarke and Julie Phipps, who also founded Red Mist Leisure in 2004. Following the sale of Red Mist to Red Lion Holdings, The Rose & Crown was one of four former Red Mist pubs it secured for the new vehicle. The others were The Red Lion in Odiham, The Royal Exchange in Lindford and The Castle Inn in Farnham. The company later acquired The Gomshall Mill, near Guildford, which was formerly operated by The Restaurant Group-owned Brunning & Price.

Qatar cafe brand TeaTime to make UK debut: Qatar cafe brand TeaTime is to make its UK debut this summer, in Leicester. The business will open in the city’s Granby Street, in a unit formerly occupied by Yamli cafe. TeaTime was started in 2002 in Doha, the capital of Qatar. It has grown to more than 100 locations, including 54 in Qatar, 26 in Oman, seven in Bahrain, seven in Saudi Arabia, three in Kuwait and five in UAE. With the slogan “TeaTime anytime”, the cafes aim to offer customers “the chance to relax with a great cup of tea”. A spokesperson told Leicestershire Live the food and drink available will include TeaTime’s “world renowned saffron tea”. There will also be healthy juice, pasta dishes, sandwiches and Italian soufflé. According to the spokesperson, Leicester was chosen as the location for the first UK TeaTime branch due to “its diverse population and reputation for being a foodie destination”. 

Thwaites appoints new operations director for inns division: North west brewer and retailer Daniel Thwaites has appointed David Campbell as operations director of the company’s inns division. Campbell was previously operations director of The Inn Collection and The Coaching Inn Group and has more than 25 years’ experience in the sector. He was also previously part of the senior teams at Greene King and Mitchells & Butlers. Thwaites’ inns division includes the recently acquired Red Lion in Burnsall in the Yorkshire Dales, The Judges Lodgings in York, The Beverley Arms in Beverley and The Fleece in Cirencester. Thwaites chairman Rick Bailey said: “We have built a collection of some of the finest inns in the country over the past few years under the careful watch of Steve Martin, who is now retiring, and to whom I owe a huge debt of gratitude. I am delighted David has chosen to join us at an exciting time when we are looking to grow and develop the business through investment and acquisition. David brings a wealth of experience that will help us to build on strong foundations and take the business from strength to strength.”
 
Rustic Pub Co to open fourth BakeHouse Express site: Essex group Rustic Pub Co is to open the fourth site under its BakeHouse Express cafe concept, in Colchester. The Danielle Kirkham-led business is to take over a vacant unit in Culver Walk, near the city’s Lion Walk Shopping Centre. The concept, which has branches in Maldon, Chelmsford and Witham, offers a range of treats, cakes and baked goods, plus afternoon tea and its own blend of Bakehouse coffee. Rustic Pub Co also operates the Fox and Goose in Chelmsford and the Folly Bistro in East Hanningfield.

London better burger brand opens 17th site, 18th to follow later this month: London better burger brand Amigos Burgers & Shakes has opened its 17th site, with number 18 to follow later this month. The business, launched in Acton, west London, in 2011 by Waqas Siddique and Kasim Akhter, has opened at 158 The Centre in Feltham. A further site is set to open on Saturday, 13 May, although the location has not yet been revealed.

East Midlands burrito franchise set to open fourth site: East Midlands burrito franchise Plan Burrito is set to open its fourth site. Plan Burrito, which was founded by Stephen Hopper in 2015 after finding himself disappointed at the high street Tex-Mex offerings, will open at 7 Sun Street in Hitchin, Hertfordshire, later this month. An official opening date is yet to be confirmed, with an announcement on the restaurant’s website reading: “Hitchin, we are coming in May. We are proud to announce that Plan Burrito is bringing its multi award-winning food to Hitchin. Come eat with us at 7 Sun Street.” Plan Burrito also has sites in Loughborough, London’s Southampton Row, and in Whitburn, in the Scottish district of West Lothian. 

Southport family-run pub group acquires third site: Southport family-run pub group Lottie’s Property has acquired its third site, The Cock & Rabbit, located at 69 Manchester Road in the Merseyside town. The former wet-led pub includes a lounge, snug area, public bar with a pool table and games area and a small outdoor seating area. Lottie’s Property director Charlotte Pickthall said: “We are thrilled with our purchase of The Cock & Rabbit. This is the third pub we have bought in the last 12 months, and we are on the hunt for more.” The pub’s previous owner, Leeds-based Mood Developments, acquired the business as part of a wider portfolio sale six years ago but decided to sell to focus on its other interests. Director Peter Matson added: “Mood Developments initially purchased this pub as part of a portfolio of pubs that had gone into receivership. We always knew this one would be the most difficult to operate and we decided in the end it was better to let it go.” Christie & Co acted on the sale.

Wafflemeister makes first move into continental European retail market after striking Costco deal: Wafflemeister, the Belgian waffle operator, has made its first move into the continental European retail market after striking a deal with Costco UK. The brand, which earlier this year landed its first UK retail deal with Waitrose, has created a 28-box pack of its classic liege waffles, which will be available in all UK Costco warehouses. As part of the deal, the waffles will also be made available across CostCo’s warehouses in Sweden and Iceland, the first time the group’s retail products will be sold in Europe outside of the UK. Rikos Leong-Son, co-chief executive of Wafflemeister said: “We’re over the moon to be taking our first steps into the continental Europe retail market. Ultimately, we want to make our waffles accessible globally to more consumers, businesses and operators.” Founded in 2009, Wafflemeister has opened more than 35 locations across the UK, including at Alton Towers, Legoland, Thorpe Park and Butlin’s Bognor Regis. It launched in foodservice in 2021 and now sells more than 40 million waffles a year in the hospitality, contract catering, education, travel and healthcare sectors.
 
Freedom Brewery reports record year, shareholders invest £1m as its eyes £10m in sales by 2026: Staffordshire-based Freedom Brewery, which was founded in 1995, has reported a record year for the 12 months ending December 2022. It reported turnover of £5.3m, with volume exceeding 25,000 hectolitres for the first time in the company’s history. Sales were up 16% versus the previous year and 44% ahead of 2019, driven by its award-winning craft lager, which now represents more than 70% of sales. Freedom ran a crowdfunding campaign last year, raising £750,000 for a new canning line, and shareholders have now committed a further £1m, which will contribute to the ongoing expansion of the brewery as it seeks to achieve sales of £10m in the next three years. Managing director Matt Willson said: “Over the last 12 months, we have seen strong double-digit growth in the on-trade channel as more pubs, bars and restaurants switch to Freedom 4% craft lager as their craft offering. This, coupled with securing new distribution across the off-trade following the recent installation of our canning line, has driven record volume and sales for the business. Consumer trends for both premium and authenticity have coincided with UK brewed craft lager reaching wider awareness among drinkers, and we are perfectly positioned to maximise the opportunity over the coming years.” The brewery has also been awarded a gold medal in the European Beer Challenge 2023 for Freedom Lager.

The Shire Collection to open boutique hotel and immersive Greek restaurant in Shrewsbury: Shropshire operator The Shire Collection is to open a boutique hotel and immersive Greek restaurant in Shrewsbury. Owners Michael Halford and Ben Anderson have bought the old Severn Social hotel in Frankwell. They are relaunching it as the Shire Residence boutique hotel, which will include Hush, an immersive Greek-themed restaurant inspired by the movie Mamma Mia! The new venture follows on from the company saving The Peach Tree restaurant in Shrewsbury from closure in December. The company also operates The Buttercross in Market Drayton and Havana Republic and The Boujee Lounge in Shrewsbury. Halford told Shropshire Live. “Our recent success in saving The Peach Tree has given us the confidence to expand and offer our guests an even more unique and unforgettable experience. We are committed to providing exceptional service and hospitality, and we believe that both the hotel and the restaurant will achieve this.” The Shire Residence and Hush are set to open at the end of May.

The Gym Group appoints new CEO: The Gym Group, the operator of 230 gyms across the UK, has appointed Will Orr as its new chief executive. Orr joins the business from Times Media, publisher of The Times and The Sunday Times newspapers. He has previously held the role of managing director at the RAC and British Gas. It follows Richard Darwin’s decision in January to step down. Darwin will stay with the company until July to ensure a smooth handover. Orr said: “The Gym Group is a business I’ve admired for some time, both for its impressive growth and for its founding mission to democratise fitness – something that’s even more important now than when its first gym opened 15 years ago. I’m looking forward to building on the success the team has achieved to date, leading the company through this next exciting phase of its development.” The Gym Group’s founder, John Treharne, has been acting as executive chair since January and oversaw Orr’s appointment. Treharne said: “Will brings valuable skills and experience from customer-led growth in membership businesses, particularly through digital growth strategies, which are perfectly suited to deliver on our strategic ambitions for the business.”

Kirkstall Brewery to reopen former Arc Inspirations site as Indian tapas bar and restaurant: Leeds brewer and retailer Kirkstall Brewery will reopen the former Arc Inspirations Banyan site in Horsforth as a craft beer and Indian tapas bar and restaurant. Kirkstall acquired the New Road Side last month after Arc decided to exit the venue as part of its ongoing repositioning to be more prime and city-centre-led, as previously reported. The brewery has now partnered with Dastaan Indian restaurant, in the Adel area of Leeds, for the new venue, which is currently under refurbishment. The working title for the collaboration is Karobar, meaning business in Hindi, reports Yorkshire Live. The brewery’s owner, Steve Holt, said: “We know the concept works really well. To have something that is accessible in terms of affordability, and give people really good quality – that was an important part of it. We pride ourselves on making really good quality beer, Dastaan prides itself on making really good quality food. It’s something new, and one of the things that excites me is pushing the boundaries.” Sanjay Gour, co-founder and head chef at Dastaan, added: “It’s something different. We keep the classics because you can’t go away from them, but we try and bring something else.” Karobar will also serve cocktails made with Indian spices and wine.

Gravity secures new headquarters: Experiential leisure operator Gravity, which secured a £30m investment earlier this year to support expansion, is to move to a new head office in West Yorkshire. The company has taken 6,683 square feet of office space at 2 Burgage Square at Merchant Gate in Wakefield on a five-year lease. Gravity launched as a trampoline park operation in 2014 next to the indoor ski slope Xscape at Castleford. The company now has a turnover of £27m and is bringing a host of indoor leisure activities to 17 locations nationwide. Last month, Gravity said it was set to step up its expansion plans and appointed real estate advisory business Stärka to secure a series of new sites in the UK and internationally. Harvey Jenkinson, co-founder of Gravity, which is relocating from Colorado Way at the Junction 32 development in Castleford next month, said: “Wakefield is the perfect base for a head office from a recruitment and logistical standpoint. We are also expanding and this move will help our drive for growth.” Knight Frank and JLL acted for the landlord, while Savills advised Gravity.

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