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Mon 15th May 2023 - Update: Buns from Home appoints Shereen Ritchie as COO, Vianet acquisition, lending, food costs, coffee
Buns from Home appoints Shereen Ritchie as COO, lines up four new openings: London-based, independent bakery business Buns from Home, has appointed Shereen Ritchie, the former chief operating officer of Irish healthy fast-food brand, Sprout & Co, and ex-managing director of Leon, as its new chief operating officer. Ritchie, who led Sprout for 18 months, joins the eight-strong Buns from Home brand as it readies itself for multinational expansion. She joins Buns from Home after it recently opened its eighth site in the capital, just three years after its launch. The business, which started out as a pandemic project for west Londoner Barney Goff, opened its latest site at the end of last month, at 166 Piccadilly just across from the Burlington Arcade. It has four further openings lined up this quarter in Baker Street, Fulham, and two locations in Canary Wharf. Robbie Miller, chief executive, said: “We’ll always be Buns from Home but we’re equally excited to become Buns from Home from all over the world, and we trust Shereen’s exceptional industry expertise to help guide us on that journey. Not only does she bring a wealth of knowledge, experience and energy but also a laser focus on delivering a consistent, best in class, guest journey.” Ritchie said: “I’m thrilled to be joining the beloved Buns from Home brand as it focuses on expanding its global presence. I couldn’t think of a more exciting opportunity right now and I can’t wait to play my part in further developing Buns from Home. The strength of brand, exceptional team and world class product are all reasons why Buns from Home has a tremendous future.” Earlier this month, Propel revealed that the company had appointed Rebecca Rose, formerly of Nightcap and Various Eateries, as its new people director. 

Latest Who’s Who of UK Food and Beverage featuring 680 companies to be released on Friday: The latest Who’s Who of UK Food and Beverage will be published for Premium subscribers on Friday (19 May). A total of 13 companies have been added to the database, which now features 680 companies. This month’s edition also includes 31 updated entries. The companies, listed in alphabetical order, will have their most recent results reported as well as broader information around Ebitda, plans and trading style available. The database 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 £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 to upgrade your subscription. 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.

Lending to increase as confidence grows: Lending is expected to rise this year after the economy proved more robust than forecasters previously expected, new projections show. The Times reports that total bank loans are expected to rise by 1.2% in 2023, reflecting an extra £29bn in lending, upgraded from a 0.1% fall that was forecast in February, amid growing confidence that Britain will avoid a recession. The EY Item Club, the forecasting group, said bank lending was set to rise by a further 2.1% in 2024 as confidence among businesses and consumers continued to improve. The combination of stronger economic growth, falling inflation and the sharp drop in wholesale gas prices has boosted optimism among businesses that conditions will continue to improve this year. Last autumn, the Office for Budget Responsibility, the government’s tax and spending watchdog, warned of the biggest fall in living standards since the Second World War. The UK narrowly avoided a recession last year and consumer spending has held up better than expected, partly because of government energy bill subsidies that capped the average household energy bill at £2,500 a year. Anna Anthony, UK financial services managing partner at EY, said enthusiasm about the economic outlook “should be measured, in the short term at least. UK banks continue to face a tough environment, with historically low lending growth rates. However, the sector is in a strong capital position and continues to provide support to customers, businesses and the wider economy”. The Item Club also expects mortgage lending to rise by 1.2% this year, climbing to 1.8% in 2024 and to 2.7% in 2025. Its previous quarterly forecasts, published in February, projected a marginal rise of 0.4%. A rise in consumer confidence and a lack of a significant tightening in lending criteria have boosted activity in recent months. Mortgage approvals rose to 52,011 in March, according to the Bank of England. Lending by banks to businesses is still expected to contract by 0.8% this year, but the decline is much smaller than previously expected.

Costly food here to stay, warns National Farmers’ Union: Higher food prices are here for the foreseeable future, the head of the National Farmers’ Union has warned before a meeting at No 10. The “farm to fork” talks, attended by supermarkets, food companies and farmers, were promised by Rishi Sunak during last year’s Tory party leadership contest. Minette Batters, president of the NFU, told The Times consumers in many other European countries were paying much more for food but “with the cost-of-living crisis, nobody wants to [talk] about people being forced into paying more”. She said: “I don’t see the situation changing any time soon. While the war in Ukraine continues, pressure on gas prices is going to remain higher.” Batters said she had found it impossible to get food to register with the former leaders Boris Johnson and Liz Truss. But she said Sunak “had rapidly moved the dial on”. “I hope that this marks the start of government taking food seriously, and putting domestic food security on the same level as what it has done with energy security,” she said. The NFU wants a pledge to make the UK 60% self-sufficient in food. It currently stands at 54%. Conservationists said there would be no food security without protecting nature. Gas prices matter for farmers because natural gas is a key component in the production of fertiliser and UK electricity generation is still mostly dominated by gas plants. 

Climate change will cut land available for coffee by more than half: Climate change will reduce the land available for coffee by 54% by 2100 even if global temperatures are contained to internationally agreed targets, according to a new report. The Independent reports that coffee growers from Honduras to Ethiopia said they are already suffering from climate destabilisation and the charity Christian Aid is calling on the UK government to help by cancelling historic debts and raising money to pay for climate loss and damage. The charity has calculated that rising temperatures and unpredictable conditions will shrink the world’s land suitable for growing coffee by 54.4%, even if global temperatures are limited to 1.5-2C above pre-industrial levels. Around 98 million cups of coffee are drank in the UK a day and it supports more than 210,000 domestic jobs, according to 2017 figures from the British Coffee Association. More than half the coffee drank in the UK comes from Brazil and Vietnam, two countries particularly vulnerable to climate change. Vietnam clocked its highest ever temperature on record last week at 44.1C, while neighbouring countries also experienced new extremes. Rising temperatures, as well as erratic rainfall, disease, droughts and landslides brought on by human-induced climate change, threaten to shrink the coffee industry and impoverish its producers. Christian Aid also polled 2,181 UK adults about coffee and climate change alongside its report and found 57% of respondents to be concerned about how climate change will impact the cost, taste and availability of coffee in the UK. It also showed 69% agree that the UK government should do more to reduce the impact of climate destabilisation on the UK’s food supply chain, for example by supporting farmers to diversify their income.

Vianet acquires US-based software solutions business: Vianet Group, the international provider of actionable data and business insight, has acquired the trade and assets of Beverage Metrics Inc (BMI), a Denver-based provider of inventory software solutions to the US hospitality sector. The acquisition consists of customers, an established operating platform, software IP, patents for barcode 3D scanning and advanced technology for point-of-sale data integration. BMI’s five employees will be incorporated into Vianet’s USA subsidiary Vianet Americas Inc. (VAI) which has worked closely with BMI over the past couple of years. The initial consideration payable to BMI is £577,500 and will be satisfied in the form of the issue of 700,000 new ordinary Vianet shares at a price of 82.5p each with deferred consideration payable dependent on revenue performance metrics. The deferred consideration is 7% of net revenue of VAI for the period 1 April 2024 through 31 December 2028, payable in cash and capped at a maximum of £4m. The company said the combination of Vianet’s SmartDraught draft beer management solution with BMI’s inventory platform provides a “comprehensive one stop drinks management solution which enables operators to reduce costs, improve productivity and maximise sales, thereby driving improved profitability across the entire drinks category”. SmartDraught integration with the inventory platform will also enable Vianet to provide a more cost effective and competitive brand monitoring and market insight solution for the brewers. James Dickson, chairman of Vianet, said: “We are delighted to acquire the trade and assets of BMI. Having worked alongside the team for some years we understand both the quality of the people and the excellence of the software and we believe that combining their products and skillset into the Vianet business will give us a truly market leading offering. This increased presence in the USA together with our evolving strategic relationships will give us a significant boost in growing our presence in what is a huge market, as well as providing us with increased opportunities in our UK hospitality operations. Vianet has had an encouraging start to FY2024 and looks forward to the future with great confidence.”

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