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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Wed 17th May 2023 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Delivery and takeaway sales down again year-on-year but decline slows, total sales ‘significantly down in real terms’: Britain’s leading managed restaurant groups saw delivery and takeaway sales drop 1% year-on-year in April, the new Hospitality at Home Tracker from CGA by NIQ shows. Year-on-year trading has now been negative for 17 months in a row, following a boom during the covid-19 lockdowns of 2020 and 2021. But while this would suggest the return of consumers to restaurants in 2022 and 2023, further data shows only modest growth in eat-in sales, meaning total sales are significantly down in real terms. Karl Chessell, CGA’s director of hospitality operators and food, EMEA, said: “Seventeen successive year-on-year drops in delivery and takeaway sales partly reflects the steady return of consumers to restaurants since late 2021. But with our Coffer CGA Business Tracker showing only modest growth in eat-in sales during that time, amid very high inflation, there is no escaping the fact that total sales have been significantly down in real terms. Conditions will remain challenging for some time, but with signs that inflation and household bills may ease in the second half of 2023, we remain very confident about the long-term outlook for hospitality.” Deliveries and takeaways by value attracted 14% of groups’ total sales in April, sharply down from 24% in April 2022. However, the new tracker indicates that year-on-year comparisons are easing. April’s 1% decline compares with 6% in February and 3% in March, which it says raises confidence that demand for deliveries and takeaways is starting to stabilise, despite ongoing pressure on consumers’ spending. Year-on-year trading has been partly protected by rising menu prices, while volumes have fallen significantly. Groups’ delivery order volumes in April were 10% below the same month in 2022, while takeaway and click-and-collect orders contracted by 9%. With inflation in double digits, the value of trading is much further behind in real terms.

Industry News:

Latest Who’s Who of UK Food and Beverage to feature 680 companies, released on Friday: The latest Who’s Who of UK Food and Beverage will feature 680 companies when it is released to Premium subscribers on Friday (19 May). This month’s edition includes 13 new companies and 31 updated entries and more than 178,000 words of content. 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.

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. Almost 400 people have already booked a place. Multi-site operators can book up to three free places each by emailing
Hospitality vacancies fall by almost a quarter over 12 months but ‘remain stubbornly high’: Hospitality vacancies fell by almost a quarter over 12 months but “remain stubbornly high”, said UKHospitality. The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show vacancies in the sector fell by 22% over the last year, and by 9% in the last quarter. But they remain at 132,000, which is still 48% higher than pre-covid levels. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The drop in hospitality vacancies over the past year is testament to the huge effort the sector is putting in to develop our own talent and help people back into the labour market, such as investing in skills and creating more flexible working patterns. While a 22% drop over the past year is significant, it remains the case that vacancies remain stubbornly high and way in excess of pre-covid levels. We continue to hear that worker shortages are forcing venues to reduce opening hours or trading days, demonstrating that vacancies are not reducing quickly enough to fulfil hospitality’s enormous potential.” Nicholls called for the government to add more hospitality roles on to its shortage occupation list and will be making the case for this as part of the migration advisory committee’s review. Last month, sector recruitment initiative Hospitality Rising revealed it had attracted more than 100,000 job applications, less than six months after its official launch to tackle the sector’s high number of job vacancies.

Company News:

Marston’s sees average spend per head up 9% since introduction of new menus, trialling franchise partnership in managed food-led pubs: Andrew Andrea, chief executive of Marston’s, has told Propel it has seen average spend per head increase 9% since the introduction of new food and drink menus in February, with customers still trading up to more premium products. Speaking following the company’s interim results, Andrea said the business has concentrated on simplifying its offer, making sure it was serving “proper pub food at a high standard”. And that work is paying off, with the gap between food and drink sales narrowing. “We’re a pub, not a Michelin-star restaurant, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do food well,” Andrea said. “We’ve simplified the choice, and that appears to be working for both customers and our teams. We’ve seen improvements to our scores for customer satisfaction, and also speed of service. We’ve introduced some specials to the menu at those sites that are trading well. We’ve also made some changes to our drinks menu, and we’ve reduced the spirit lines by more than 50%. For example, we used to have three lemon gins. Spend per head is up on average by 9%, and that’s partly down to price increase, but also by people trading up into more premium products. They are still prepared to spend when they are out.” Andrea also revealed the company has begun trialling a new franchise agreement in its managed food-led pubs. The pilot, which began earlier this month in four sites, has previously been introduced in its wet-led sites. Andrea said although it was early days, he was excited by its prospects. “These franchise partnerships have worked well for us and we very quickly saw a change in the sales dynamics,” he added. “If it goes well, we’ll look to extend it to another 40 pubs in 2024.” Andrea said while the start of the financial year had begun nervously, with not knowing what consumers would do in the face of rising costs, it had been reassuring to see people still want to go out. “We’re seeing trading patterns becoming more predictable,” he added. “On the few warmer days we’ve had so far this year, we’ve seen double-digit growth both in terms of sales and volumes, so that bodes well for the summer. We’ve also locked in our energy costs for next year at a lower level than the first half of this year, and food price inflation appears to be coming down, so some of those pressures we were seeing a year ago are easing.” Marston’s features in the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book. Its turnover of £799,600,000 is the 11th highest in the database. Its pre-tax profit of £163,400,000 is the 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.
Flat Iron – trading since year end ‘consistently strong’, appoints new CFO: Flat Iron, the Piper-backed affordable steak concept, has told Propel trading since its year end has been “consistently strong”, as its reported sales of £23.5m for the 12 months to 28 August 2022. The company said sales for the year were up £15.4m (192.8%) on the previous year and up £5.3m (29.2%) on the year ending 25 August 2019, the last full year results before the covid pandemic. Adjusted Ebitda grew to £3.5m driven by strong sales, operational changes introduced into the business during the pandemic and government support initiatives. During the year to August 2022, the Tom Byng-led business opened two new restaurants in London, near Borough Market and in Waterloo. Westfield London and Young Street in Kensington have also recently opened, taking the current estate to 12 restaurants. It said the four new openings launched well and are trading “significantly ahead of expectations”. As previously revealed by Propel, new openings for 2023 include a debut regional site on Market Street in Cambridge this summer, followed by Deansgate in Manchester at the end of the year. Byng said: “These results are testament to the hard work and focus of our teams, who have weathered the post-covid storm with fortitude, determination and customary good cheer. Performance since the year-end has been consistently strong and we have been surprised by the resilience of recent trading. Despite the well-known challenges facing the sector, we remain cautiously optimistic about the future.” At the same time, Propel understands Simon Boston has joined Flat Iron as its new chief financial officer. Boston joins having spent five years in the same role at Fora, the office space business, and at Byron, from 2013 to 2018. He succeeds Stuart McNamara, who recently stepped down to pursue other opportunities. Byng said: “I am delighted to have persuaded Simon to join the Flat Iron team during a really exciting time for the business. His deep experience of the role and of the sector, coupled with his collaborative but commercial working style, make him an ideal fit for Flat Iron as we grow.” Boston added: “I have long been an admirer of Flat Iron and I’m thrilled to be joining an amazing team.”
MeatLiquor teams up with Sessions to launch across deliver-only kitchens: Scott Collins-led concept MeatLiquor is partnering with Sessions, the growth platform for food brands and food hall concept operator led by former Deliveroo managing director Dan Warne, to expand through delivery-only kitchens for the first time, Propel has learned. Under the new partnership, Sessions will launch MeatLiquor for delivery in London locations later this month, with ambition to bring it to neighbourhoods all across the UK by the end of the year. MeatLiquor currently operates ten sites across London, Brighton and Leeds. The partnership with Sessions opens a new opportunity to “scale the brand in new markets without the high costs of opening new sites”. The first site under the new partnership, in Canary Wharf, will launch on 19 May, with more to follow across the country later in the year. For Sessions, it represents the addition of another brand into its portfolio following the recent additions of Ivan Ramen and Baohaus. Warne, founder and chief executive of Sessions, said: “MeatLiquor is an iconic British burger brand and we look forward to facilitating better access to diners across the country. We provide a compelling model for founders who have built strong brand equity to achieve much faster growth, without the slow, operationally complex and resource intensive bricks and mortar rollout.” Collins said: “We’ve been operating MeatLiquor sites for over a decade now, and in recent years, delivery has become a much bigger part of our operations. When Sessions suggested expanding our reach through delivery-only kitchens, it felt like the right time for this partnership.”
Burgerism strengthens management team as it eyes further growth: Burgerism, the fast-growing Manchester-based smash burger concept, has strengthened its management team, including the appointment of a new finance director, as its gears up for further growth, Propel has learned. The business, which launched its latest site in Liverpool earlier this year, has appointed Ben Barsky, formerly of Sedulo and the Sheridan Group, as its new finance director. At the same time, Emily Hawkley, formerly of Slim Chickens, Leon and TGI Fridays, has joined the business as its new director of operations. The senior appointments come as Burgerism gears up to make its London debut next month, partnering with NQ64, the immersive retro arcade bar concept, at its new site in Old Street, Shoreditch. The company maintains extensive expansion plans and recently signed its first license agreement for 2024, as the brand continues on its mission to become the “Domino’s for burgers”. Burgerism Shoreditch will open under the brand’s delivery and collection format but will also offer space within NQ64’s premises for eating in.
Greggs aiming to keep prices stable, wins right to trade until 2am at Leicester Square as 24-hour hopes dashed: Roisin Currie, chief executive of food-to-go operator Greggs, has said he company’s priority will be to keep prices at current levels to help customers during the cost-of-living crisis. Speaking after the business said it “performed strongly” in the first 19 weeks of 2023, Currie said the company was aiming to keep its prices stable in the coming months. She said: “Protecting value for us is critical. We want to remain a value leader in the market, so we’re working extremely hard to mitigate the impact of inflation as it comes through. Inflation is one of the key issues that we’re all dealing with given the national living wage rises, as well as energy inflation and commodity inflation. But we continue to work hard to try and mitigate wherever possible, so that’s constantly under review. The quest for us is to make sure we hold our prices and continue to offer that value proposition for customers.” She also said that Greggs’ value ratings were currently “the highest ever”, which had, in part, helped it take some customers from higher-priced rivals. Currie said Greggs was working hard to keep a lid on price rises as it had fixed the cost of energy and packaging for several months. The chain has been trialling made-to-order sandwiches at some of its stores in Newcastle through its click-and-collect service, and will now be expanding that trial to around 40 shops in the north east. It is also set to expand its vegan food range. At the same time, Currie said the business had cancelled a planned appeal hearing over its site in Leicester Square after cutting a deal which will enable it to trade until 2am, although falling short of its hopes of 24-hour trading. She said the hearing had been cancelled after discussions with Westminster City Council had “reached a good solution for both parties”. She said Greggs would be able to open “over the midnight cusp” and be allowed to sell hot drinks, sausage rolls and pasties after 11pm, but not items from its hot food menu. It must also have bouncers on the door.
Boparan Restaurant Group lines up Slim Chickens drive-thru site: Boparan Restaurant Group (BRG) – the owner and operator of brands including Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Carluccio’s, Giraffe and Ed’s Easy Diner – is planning to open its first UK drive-thru site, in Leicester. The US brand, which already operates a site in the city’s Highcross scheme, is planning to open a drive-thru “pod” in the Tesco car park in the Hamilton area of the city. It would only feature six covers internally. BRG currently operates 38 sites under the Slim Chickens brand in the UK, which includes ten units in The Restaurant Hubs format with Sainsbury’s. The company will open a further standalone site in Meadowhall, Sheffield, this summer. BRG plans to be operating 350 restaurants in Britain under the US brand in the next few years. Under its partnership with Sainsbury’s, it is developing food courts at 150 of the retailer’s stores that will feature a clutch of BRG’s brands, including Slim Chickens.
Shapland – we’re demonstrating the ability to take share from the larger chains: James Shapland, founder of Coffi Lab, the dog-friendly coffee shop brand, has told Propel the seven-strong business is demonstrating the ability to take share from the larger chains and that growth opportunity for concept “is significant”. The business was launched in 2021 by Coffee#1 founder Shapland and opened its latest site last December, in Llanishen, Cardiff. It is currently in talks to take a site in central Cardiff, and Shapland said the company’s site pipeline is strong. He said: “We are due to start drip feeding a number of large, well-positioned Labs from H2.” In terms of trading, he said: “It is exceptionally strong across both our small town and neighbourhood formats. Our brand is clearly resonating and we’re demonstrating the ability to take share from the larger chains. The growth opportunity for Coffi Lab is significant.” The company has a long-term target of having 50 Coffi Lab sites open over the next five years. Shapland returned to the coffee sector last year having previously founded Coffee#1 in 2000 and sold it 11 years later to SA Brain. Coffi Lab operates six sites in Wales, and one in Marlborough, Wiltshire.
Tokyo Industries JV launches new cafe, bar and events space in London’s Piccadilly: Bar and nightclub operator Tokyo Industries has launched a new cafe, bar and events space called Neon 194, in London’s Piccadilly, as part of a new joint venture. Propel revealed in March that the Aaron Mellor-led business has secured the ex-Barbecoa site at 194 Piccadilly for the project, which is a joint venture with Cymon Eckel’s Boys Own record label. The venue has a 550 capacity spread over two floors, with the ground floor featuring a café and bar, and the lower floor for exhibitions, music and comedy performances, cinema screenings and private parties. “We’re aiming to cultivate an exciting, dynamic location, where London’s creative freelance community can come together – where a community can be built in a location normally exclusive by pricing alone,” said Cymon. Mellor operates circa 50 bars, clubs and venues in the UK, plus several international sites. 

Two Magpies begins rollout of new smaller format: Suffolk bakery Two Magpies has begun the rollout of its new smaller format, with an opening in Wells-Next-The-Sea, Norfolk. The new site, the group’s ninth in total, follows the launch of the new “Mini Magpies” format earlier this year in the Suffolk town of Beccles, and the conversion of the group’s original Southwold site. Two Magpies director Steve Magnall told Propel: “Wells-Next-The-Sea is the same format as Beccles although slightly larger, with 20 covers in total, so double Beccles. We have also got a broader menu for eating in (although not chef-led – so filled croissants, filled brioche rolls etc). First day’s trading at Wells-Next-The-Sea was above expectations, and so far, today the same. Opening hours are as per a normal Magpies at 8am-5pm, so not reduced like Beccles. Beccles itself is doing well and on track with our expectations.” Earlier this year, Magnall said that if the new smaller format was successful, the group’s saw a mixture of Mini Magpies and fully serviced Magpies being opened going forward. Last year, Magnall told Propel the business was seeking investment to triple the company’s then seven-site estate and he saw potential for up to 50 sites in East Anglia.
Zia Lucia set to open ninth site and launch insect-based dough: London pizzeria concept Zia Lucia is set to open its ninth site, from where it will also launch an insect-based dough. The 40-cover restaurant will open in West End Lane, West Hampstead, in mid-June, featuring outdoor seating and a dedicated bar serving Zia Lucia’s own brand beer, Cabriole. It will also debut the brand’s new insect-derived dough, made from cricket flour, which will initially be available exclusively from the location. Using flour made from finely milled roasted crickets, “lending a light and nutty flavour to the pizza”, it will join Zia Lucia’s four other signature doughs. It is seen as a sustainable option as it needs little water, energy and land for farming and production. The company said: “As we look to replace our dependency on traditional grains and mitigate the rising cost of animal proteins, insects like these may soon become the food of the future. As well as helping the environment, crickets are also high in protein, fibre, and essential vitamins and minerals, and include mostly unsaturated fat.” Zia Lucia founders Gianluca D’Angelo and Claudio Vescovo said they have spent five years trying to find “the perfect site” in West Hampstead. They added: “We are excited to be taking the brand even further with an innovative new dough that is paving the way for the future, and where better than West Hampstead, an area close to our hearts, where we personally spend lots of our free time. It is also the ideal location for our brand and our ethos as it perfectly matches the relaxed neighbourhood feel that we want to convey.” Propel revealed in February that Zia Lucia, which was founded in 2015, is assessing option for its next stage of growth.
Merlin Entertainments launches world’s first Jumanji-themed attraction: Merlin Entertainments has launched the world’s first Jumanji-themed attraction, at Chessington World of Adventures. It is the single largest investment made at the Surrey resort and features a Jumanji rollercoaster, with Chessington’s first inversion and sees riders flipped upside down at 42 miles per hour. There are also two additional rides – Mamba Strike and Ostrich Stampede – as well as a themed food and beverage offer. Following in the footsteps of the film series’ intrepid characters, guests have the opportunity to locate the Jaguar’s Eye Jewel, lift the curse and save Jumanji. There are also six new World of Jumanji themed bedrooms at the Chessington Safari Hotel. Scott O’Neil, chief executive of Merlin Entertainments, said: “Whether you are a fan of the films, a fan of rollercoasters or are looking to take your family adventures to The Next Level, the amazing World of Jumanji is ready to welcome all ‘those who seek to find, a way to leave their world behind’. Years in the making by the best teams in the business and full of ‘firsts’, we can’t wait to share the adventures within World of Jumanji.” Jeffrey Godsick, European vice-president of global partnerships and brand management and head of location based entertainment at Sony Pictures Entertainment, added: “We are excited to have collaborated on a global scale with Merlin Entertainments and Chessington World of Adventures for this achievement. The Jumanji franchise has generations of fans who can now enjoy the story in a whole new way.”
Former MD of Corbin & King Mayfair hotel launches new hospitality management company, set to open two new London hotels: The former managing director of Corbin & King’s Beaumont Hotel in London’s Mayfair has launched a new hospitality management company, and will open two new London hotels over the next three years. Paul Brackley, who was also general manager of the Shangri-La at The Shard London, has founded the privately-owned Kinsfolk & Co. Joining him is people and culture director Ninoska Leppard, who spent 19 years with Corbin & King and eight at Caprice Holdings, and commercial director Rachel Fearon, who spent 22 years at Firmdale Hotels and also worked at One Aldwych in London. Also coming on board are chief financial officer Heymo Nyoni, who most recently worked for Standard International, and restaurants and innovations director Stas Anastasiades, who spent 20 years with Milsom Hotels and Restaurants. As it looks to build a managed portfolio of sector businesses, the company’s secured pipeline will include the launch of three luxury boutique hotels – two in central London and one in Europe. The first London property will open in Fitzrovia in 2024, and the second in Westminster in 2026. Brackley said: “We are incredibly fortunate to start a completely fresh company where we can build a community with a shared vision – be that with our team, our partners or our investors. We believe in the power of hospitality, working together within our wider industry.”
Mollie’s launches career pathway plan and apprenticeship scheme: Mollie’s, the motel concept designed by Soho House, has launched a career pathway plan designed to attract, develop and nurture talent in the sector. Under the scheme, each employee is given guidance and structure as they move through the organisation, with the aim of bringing people into hospitality “with a focus on a longstanding career rather than merely a job”. It focuses on areas such as leadership, people development, communication and finance, as well as mental health awareness, equality, diversity and inclusion and sustainability. Mollie’s is also working with local education partners to offer an apprenticeship scheme within some of the pathways. Trudi Parr, head of people and development at Mollie’s, said: “The importance of talent development planning in the hospitality industry cannot be overstated, and Mollie’s wants to lead the way in this regard. As the industry continues to evolve, programmes such as this will be critical in attracting and retaining top talent, driving success and creating memorable experiences for customers.” Mollie’s, which has locations in Oxfordshire and Bristol, is set to open its first city centre site later this year, in Manchester, ahead of further planned UK expansion.
Yori to add Shoreditch site to London estate: London-based Korean barbecue brand Yori is to further increase its presence in the capital, with an opening in Shoreditch. The business, which made its regional debut at the start of last year in Cambridge, is to replace the recently closed Hache site in Curtain Road, for what will be its eighth opening in the capital. Earlier this year, it opened on the ex-Café Rouge in Brighton’s Prince Albert Street. At the same time, the business launched a new concept, Yori BBQ, in Cambridge’s Green Street. It already operates a site under its eponymous brand on the former Varsity site in Cambridge’s St Andrew’s Street. Yori, which means “cooked food” in Korean, was founded in 2016 by Jong Soon Kim, who is also behind Japanese restaurant Nori and Korean dessert cafe Cake & Bingsoo – both in New Malden, Surrey – and Japanese dessert parlour Cafe Mori in Wimbledon. Yori also operates a site in Staines. Tom Richards of ARC acted on behalf of Yori on the Shoreditch deal.
Derbyshire operator acquires third site: Derbyshire operator Sam Bell has acquired his third site. Bell is to reopen the former family-run Dore Grill Restaurant in Dore, with a £350,000 refurbishment underway to transform it into The Dore Bar and Grill. The 100-seater open plan restaurant in Church Lane will create 30 jobs. It will have an all-day offer using fresh, locally sourced seasonal produce accompanied by a selection of wine, spirits, beer and cocktails. Bell said: “The Dore will be a quality all day offering with an Italian-influenced menu of steak, pizza, pasta and salads. The restaurant is in an ideal location in Dore and will include an on-site coffee shop and bakery.” Bell also operates the Bank House in Hathersage and Castleton Coffee Co in Castleton. The former Dore Grill Restaurant closed in November after 36 years in business.
Focus Hotels Management appoints new chief executive: Focus Hotels Management has appointed Devin Grosse as its new chief executive. Prior to joining, Grosse spent ten years as vice-president of operations at Aimbridge, managing an extensive portfolio of luxury hotels across the UK. He also worked with Chardon Management before its sale to Interstate Hotels & Resorts and subsequent rebrand to Aimbridge, supporting the growth from 13 hotels to the larger portfolio it has today. Peter Cashman, chairman of Focus Hotels Management, said: “We are delighted Devin is joining us to add strength and expertise to our already strong management team and underlining our commitment to the long-term successful development of the company.” Grosse added: “I look forward to working with the Focus leadership team to support the future growth of the company and will be focusing on supporting the hotel teams to drive exceptional quality, revenues, and ultimately deliver the best possible returns for our owners.”
Hummus Bros co-founder announces $5M Series A funding round for hospitality tech platform: Christian Mouysset, co-founder of former London-based hummus restaurant chain Hummus Bros, has announced a $5M Series A funding round for Tenzo, the restaurant performance app he founded in 2017 with Adam Taylor. The funding round, led by Amadeus Capital Partners and S28 Capital, comes after Tenzo tripled its number of customer locations during the pandemic. The platform is now used by more than 1,500 restaurants worldwide, including Nando’s, TGI Fridays and Vapiano. It said the funding will help it deliver on ambitious growth goals centred around using artificial intelligence to develop accurate sales forecasting for restaurants. As well as allowing for better collaboration between team members and avoiding venues being understaffed or overstaffed, it also helps avoid food wastage. “Digitisation, especially action from data-driven insight, has been slow to penetrate the food and beverage industry,” said Manjari Chandran-Ramesh, partner at Amadeus Capital Partners. “Tenzo’s innovative solution enables restaurants of all sizes to optimise their operations and reduce food waste, making them more sustainable and profitable.” Hummus Bros, which Mouysset co-founded with Ronen Givon in 2005, went in administration in 2018.
South Devon Hospitality adds Dawlish pub to growing estate: South Devon Hospitality, the Christopher Billing-led business, has added Smugglers Inn, near Dawlish, Devon, to its growing estate of venues. The site Holcombe Rogus, which had been under the same ownership for 22 years, was sold off a guide price of £200,000 for the leasehold interest. It comprises a main bar (36 covers), family room (48) and carvery restaurant (72). The Smugglers Inn, which was owned by Nick Stentiford, achieved a net turnover of £1.5m for the last financial year. South Devon Hospitality Limited owns several high profile sites in the region, including On The Waterfront at Exeter Quay and The Kents in Torquay. Billing said: “The Smuggler’s Inn is a well-established part of the community and has been run by Nick and his team fantastically for the last 20 years. We plan to help take The Smuggler’s to the next level with a gradual updating of the food and drinks offering and updating the décor over the next couple of years and planning lots of events the community can get involved in, but we will not be reinventing the wheel of an already very successful business.” Charles Darrow acted on the Dawlish deal. 
Holiday park operator The Partington Group secures £5m to invest in portfolio: Holiday park operator The Partington Group has secured £5m to invest in its six-strong portfolio across the north west of England. The funding from HSBC will be used across its sites including a new themed family entertainment centre at Newton Hall Holiday Park in Blackpool. Included in the centre will be a bar, cafe, ten pin bowling, interactive games and karaoke booths. The Partington Group also has plans to upgrade the facilities at Tarn House near Skipton, Black Beck in the Lake District and Broadwater and Windy Harbour Holiday Parks located near Blackpool. Rob Kearsley, joint chief executive of The Partington Group, said: “Funding from HSBC UK has allowed us to embark on several exciting new projects across our sites. This investment allows us to continue with our plans to provide a portfolio of high-quality parks and create the best possible experience for holiday home owners and short break guests. We look forward to welcoming more visitors from across the UK and seizing further opportunities in the future.”
Adam Handling Restaurant Group appoints new bar director: The Adam Handling Restaurant Group, owned by chef Adam Handling, has promoted Josh Linfitt to bar director. He will be responsible for overseeing all existing bars in the group – Eve Bar in London, Ugly Butterfly in Cornwall and The Loch & the Tyne in Old Windsor – and will play a key role in the set-up of any future bars. Linfitt joined the group as bar manager at Ugly Butterfly in 2021 and has been working in the bar industry for more than 20 years. Handling said: “Josh lives and breathes the Adam Handling Group and he has shown immense determination to further the group’s name in the bar world, showcasing our commitment to zero-waste and utilising techniques from the kitchen behind the bar.” Linfitt said a large part of his new role will be staff development and introducing tailored programmes for each bar team member. “As someone who struggled with conventional education, I know that everyone learns differently, and we will be working out what staff want to learn and how they can best absorb what we love to share in an innovative and inspiring way,” he added. The group earlier this year opened a new staff training and well-being centre in London’s Covent Garden.
Birmingham hotel management company to open new aparthotel: Birmingham hotel management company, Switch Hospitality, is to open a new aparthotel in the city centre later this year. Acquired by SevenCapital in August 2020, the 92,000 square-foot Royal Angus Hotel will be managed by Switch Hospitality as part of its asset management portfolio, which includes the Park Regis Birmingham, Holiday Inn Express Birmingham South and the reopening of the fully refurbished Nite Nite hotel. The redevelopment of Royal Angus into a serviced aparthotel will offer guests the choice of 161 studios, one and two-bedroom apartments and suites across nine floors. John Angus, managing director at Switch Hospitality, said: “We are committed to providing all the comforts of a home away from home, with the Switch-standard level of service guaranteed.” Damien Siviter, group managing director at SevenCapital, added: "Aparthotel Birmingham will prove a fantastic asset to the hospitality provision in Birmingham city centre, with very few of this kind currently in operation in its locality. We're pleased to have Switch Hospitality Management on board to manage its operations.”

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