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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Thu 18th May 2023 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Urban – we are well positioned as the macro headwinds subside, Nicholson’s leading the recovery pack: Phil Urban, chief executive of Mitchells & Butlers (M&B), the All Bar One, Toby Carvery and Harvester operator, has told Propel the business is far more efficient than it was three years ago and that it is well placed to capitalise as the macro headwinds subside. Speaking after the business reported like-for-like sales growth of 8.5% for the 28 weeks ended 8 April 2023, Urban said: “I think there is some stability in the marketplace at the moment. We took the pain on energy over the last 18 months, and therefore we think as commodity costs drop, we are best placed to see the advantage of that. I think with those macro cost headwinds, and hopefully food cost inflation to follow on, if those two things start to move in the right direction, which I think they will, then I think the underlying business is in a good place and we’re optimistic about what’s to come. You could look back and say it was by design, but we have a far more efficient business than we had three years ago, and therefore, with price in the market as well, when the macro headwinds subside you are suddenly well placed to take advantage of that.” He said all the group’s brands are recovering, adding: “Inevitably, you’ve got a spread. Leading the pack is Nicholson’s, which is probably benefiting from offices that still have got some room to come back, tourism being back in London and the capital getting stronger in general. Toby Carvery is doing really well, but maybe that talks more to value for money. It’s probably costly to cook a roast at home, so you may as well go out for it and you can help yourself. If you pressed me for the slowest, it is probably All Bar One. But then, if you look at the bar sector, across the industry because it was doing so well last year, it has got a tougher comparable. All the brands are doing well. City, suburban, rural, it’s all moving in the right direction.” The business has been trialling its Browns brand in suburbia, stretching it beyond its usual high street location. The first trial site opened in August 2022 and the second opened in December 2022, with both sites “performing strongly”. Urban said: “We’ve seen enough in Ruislip and Beaconsfield to say we know we are on to something here. We will have a modest conversion programme next year and then that should step up in the coming years.”
 

Industry News:

Latest Who’s Who of UK Food and Beverage to feature 31 updated entries and 13 new companies, released tomorrow: The latest Who’s Who of UK Food and Beverage will feature 31 updated entries and 13 new companies when it is released to Premium subscribers tomorrow (Friday, 19 May). This month’s edition includes 680 companies 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 jo.charity@propelinfo.com 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.

Membership panel discussing how sector organisations are helping women progress and grow to feature at Propel Multi-Club Conference featuring all-female line-up of leaders: A membership panel discussing how organisations are helping women progress and grow within their different sectors will feature 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. 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. The panel will feature Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, chair of the London Tourism Board and chair of ACC Liverpool; Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association and chair of the Worldwide Brewing Alliance; and Katariina Reissaar, chair of the Institute of Hospitality’s Youth Council. Almost 400 people have already booked a place. Multi-site operators can book up to three free places each by emailing paul.charity@propelinfo.com.
 
Bailey – inflation could stay higher than 2% for longer than expected: The risk of inflation staying higher than the Bank of England’s 2% target for longer than it expects is mounting due to the slow reduction of wage pressures and price rises, Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey has warned. Speaking at the British Chambers of Commerce’s (BCC) annual conference, Bailey said the bank’s commitment to the 2% inflation target is, nevertheless, “unwavering”, reports City AM. Inflation has consistently breached the bank’s projections, and in March hit 10.1%, 0.8 percentage points over its prediction. Bailey last week backed a 12th straight interest rise, voting for a 25 basis points increase to 4.5%. Core inflation also firmed in March, suggesting UK inflation is beginning to be driven by factors such as pay growth instead of soaring international energy prices. Last week, the bank raised its medium-term inflation forecasts to around 5% by the end of the year, up from 3.9%, and said it doesn’t expect a return to its 2% target until 2025. This is primarily a result of stronger than expected household spending and food prices accelerating at a historic pace of around 20%. Office for National Statistics figures out next Wednesday (24 May) are expected to show inflation fell markedly in April to around 8%, and UK economic growth is on course to be more than 2% higher over the next few years than the bank expected in February. “Things are looking a bit brighter than they did a couple of months ago,” Bailey added.
 
Nick Miller wins business book award: Nick Miller, former chief executive of Meantime and managing director of Miller Brands UK, has won an award for his recently published book, In The Meantime. The book, in which Miller shares some of his learnings from his career in beer, was released in September 2022. It details Miller’s journey from the bingo halls and working men’s clubs of east London to leading Meantime’s turnaround and eventual sale to SABMiller for £120m. It has now been named Business Journey of the Year at the Business Book Awards 2023. The book saw off competition from Passion to Lead by Julio Brano, Panos by Panos Papadopoulos, One Decision Away by Paula Melo Doroff, Catching Giants by Kevin Gaskell and Brompton by Will Butler-Adams and Ben Davies to win the award.
 
Licensing update: John Gaunt & Partners licensing solicitors has just published its latest licensing update. This month it has articles around the tipping law that is almost in place along with some around Martyn’s Law.The full update can be accessed here.
 

Company News:

Heartstone Inns reports sales in 2023 up 17% on pre-pandemic levels, full-year average pub revenue highest ever: Heartstone Inns, the eight-strong, managed pub operator, has seen sales for the four months to the end of April up 13% on last year and 17% higher than 2019, Propel has learned. It comes as Heartstone Inns reported sales of £8.8m for the year ending December 2022, up 49% on the previous year,  and 12% on 2019 on a like-for-like basis. The company had its highest ever average pub sales of £1.1m. Pub Ebitda stood at £1.9m, representing a margin of 21.0% compared with £1.5m and 24.5% in 2021, £0.4m and 8.9% in 2020 and £1.6m and 15.2% in 2019. Company Ebitda of £1.2m represented a margin of 13.5% compared with £1.1m and 18.6% in 2021, a loss of £0.1m in 2020 and a profit of £1.0m and 8.9% in 2019. Net debt stood at £3.9m at the year end, which represents a conservative net debt ratio of 17.6% (2021: 18.0%), slightly lower than previous years. A new five-year £10m bank facility was put in place with HSBC during the year. This included a £6m term loan that was drawn down in full, a £4m revolving credit facility that is currently undrawn and interest rate hedging to protect against significant increases in borrowing rates. The business invested £0.5m in the estate during the period (2021: £0.7m), the largest project being the refurbishment of the bar, restaurant and guest bedrooms of the Woodborough Inn in Somerset. Meanwhile, £0.35m was returned to shareholders in the year. The company stated: “Despite being able to trade without any coronavirus restrictions in 2022, we have had to contend with a range of fresh challenges including increasing interest rates, the highest inflation seen in decades, increasing staff costs and a shortage of skilled staff. We believe our trading performance is testament to the strategic direction of the business, namely the decision to sell our smaller pubs in 2020 and to invest in additional guest bedrooms, which are benefiting from the ongoing demand for ‘staycations’, along with our committed teams and well invested pubs in great locations.” Managing director James Birch said: “Our new banking facility and modest gearing gives us the confidence to plot our way through this period of inflation and economic uncertainty.”
 
Black Sheep Coffee signs franchise agreement to expand into Middle East: Speciality coffee shop operator Black Sheep Coffee has signed a franchise deal with Al Farran Investment to expand into the Middle East, Propel has learned. Propel revealed earlier this month that Black Sheep Coffee signed heads of terms on a franchise agreement in the Middle East that should see the opening of more than 250 shops in the region in its initial 15-year term, and a first opening in Dubai before the year end. It is understood the agreement with Al Farran, which is a new entity set up to oversee the Black Sheep Coffee’s expansion in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, was signed earlier this week. The business, which operates circa 65 sites in the UK, plus two in the Philippines and one in Paris, is set to open its first two sites in the US, in Dallas, before the year end, including a two-lane drive-thru site. During 2022, the business signed 39 new shop leases including two in the US. It built a pipeline of 70 new shops due to open in the next 12 months and signed 21 new unit franchise agreements. It also entered the airport’s market by opening at Heathrow, and is set to open at Luton airport. Black Sheep Coffee features in the Propel UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database, which is an exhaustive guide to the companies offering a food and beverage franchise in the UK and is available exclusively to Premium subscribers. The database is updated every two months and the latest version features 200 businesses. 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.
 
German Doner Kebab reaches 150-store landmark globally, aims for 400 by 2030: German Doner Kebab (GDK), owned by Hero Brands, has opened its 150th store worldwide, as it aims for 400 globally by 2030. The landmark store, at 90-92 High Street in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, is also the brand’s 128th in the UK. As part of its international growth plans, GDK has sold its master franchise for the UAE to Maristo Hospitality, one of the fastest-growing hospitality groups in the Middle East. It is also just about to open its first restaurant in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and has recently opened in New York and Houston, Texas, as it aims for 12 new US restaurants in 2023. Simon Wallis, who was appointed GDK’s new chief executive in March, said: “Reaching 150 restaurants worldwide with our Weston-super-Mare opening is a testament to our incredible growth and commitment to delivering a new dining experience across the globe. This unique innovation on a traditional dish has captured the imagination of a global audience to elevate GDK into becoming a market leader in the food and beverage space. At GDK, we are committed to growth and strengthening our position as the UK’s fastest-growing restaurant chain. Beyond that, our global demand reflects our position as one of the world’s most exciting fast-casual brands.” Earlier this year, GDK said it was targeting 500 restaurants over the next decade and was looking to add to its Canadian portfolio.
 
Thai chain Lemongrass closes half of estate: The future of the Thai chain Lemongrass has been thrown into doubt after the business closed half its estate. Propel understands Lemongrass, which came under the Aspirational Brands umbrella, has closed its sites in Cranleigh, Esher, Horsham and Walton, over the past fortnight. It leaves the business with restaurants in Brentwood, Burgess Hill, Petersfield and Hove. Aspirational Brands also operated the Japanese Canteen, Issa Sushi and Handmade Burger Co businesses. Propel revealed earlier this month that the future of the Handmade Burger Co brand had again come under doubt, after its remaining site in Sheffield’s Meadowhall was closed. The Handmade Burger Co name was resurrected in 2021 after Aspirational Brands acquired the intellectual property for the brand.
 
Tasty appoints Gordon Browne as new FD: Wildwood operator Tasty has appointed Gordon Browne, formerly of Oakman Group and Chopstix, as its new finance director, Propel has learned. Browne recently had a second stint at Oakman, where he was director of finance, after spending just over a year as finance director at Park Chinois. He also spent a year as finance director at Chopstix and before that spent five years at Oakman as its head of finance. In February, Tasty announced Mayuri Vachhani was to step down as its chief financial officer to pursue other opportunities. At the end of March, the company, which also operates the Dim T brand, said it was considering rebranding more of its estate and selling underperforming restaurants as it reviewed its expansion plans, with like-for-like sales compared with pre-covid levels ‘encouraging’. It said it was currently trading from 52 of its 54 restaurants.
 
Bewiched Coffee opens second franchise site with Heart Of England Co-operative Society, in legals on three company-owned stores: Midlands cafe operator Bewiched Coffee has extended its franchise partnership with Heart Of England Co-operative Society. The first site under the partnership opened in October at the Balsall Common Co-op store in the West Midlands. Now a second outlet has launched in Leamington Spa. The 1,027 square-foot site at Leamington Retail Park was secured by agents Harris Lamb, which has been retained by Heart of England Co-Operative Society to identify suitable sites throughout the Midlands to establish coffee shops. The Leamington store is Bewiched’s 16th location in the Midlands. Managing director Matt Fountain told Propel that Bewiched is in legals on three other sites for this year, all of which will be equity openings. “We are excited to expand our partnership with The Heart of England Co-op and bring Bewiched to a new community in Leamington Retail Park,” he said. “Our commitment to quality freshly roasted coffee, with exceptional customer service remains at the core of our brand. We look forward to sharing our passion with even more people.” Steve Browne, food division head of The Heart of England Co-operative Society, added: “Bewiched’s dedication to quality and customer service aligns perfectly with our values, and we are confident the new branch will be a great addition to our community.” Xprop acted for the landlord.
 
Portobello Starboard adds Catford pub to estate: Portobello Starboard, the new acquisition platform backed by private equity firm Zetland Capital and operated by Portobello Brewery, has added to its growing estate with a new site in Catford, south east London, Propel has learned. The Mark Crowther-chaired Portobello business is understood to have acquired the freehold of the Catford Bridge Tavern, in a deal valued at circa £1.6m. The pub reopened this week and takes Portobello’s estate to circa 25 sites. Last year, Portobello secured a £40m loan from OakNorth Bank to help expand its portfolio. The funds were to be used to support the acquisition of high-quality freehold pubs across London and the south of England. It included last spring’s acquisition of five pubs from City Pub Group for a total consideration of £16.2m. Paul Tallentyre, of DCL, and AG&G acted on the Catford deal.
 
Mike Tye named chairman of The Club Company: Mike Tye, the former chief executive of Spirit Group and current chairman of the Big Table Group, has been named non-executive chairman of The Club Company, which owns and operates 15 country clubs across the UK. The Club Company operates venues that combine a traditional golf environment with state-of-the-art health and fitness facilities, restaurants and bars. Tye, who is also currently chairman of Arc Inspirations, will take over from outgoing chairman Steve Burns. Richard Calvert, chief executive of The Club Company, said: “I’m delighted Mike has agreed to become our non-executive chairman and looking forward to being able to tap into the vast experience and success that he has under his belt, especially in the consumer and leisure sectors. This will undoubtedly help us on our growth journey at The Club Company.” Tye added: “I’m looking forward to supporting Richard and his team: and excited to help fulfil the enormous potential that we have in The Club Company – through organic growth, additional facilities and acquisition of new clubs.”
 
Pret opens first site in Luxembourg: Pret A Manger has opened its first site in Luxembourg, in the central district of Ville-Haute. Set within the heart of Luxembourg in the Royal-Hamilius shopping centre, the new site has 25 seats inside, alongside 20 on its outdoor terrace. Luxembourg becomes Pret’s seventh European market after the UK, France, Ireland, Belgium, Germany and Switzerland. Stéphane Klein, managing director of Pret A Manger Europe, said: “Opening our first Pret in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is a fantastic moment for Pret. Unfortunately, the health crisis delayed this wonderful project, but we are now all very proud of this first opening. We would like to thank FIRCE Capital for its confidence. We are all very optimistic, and I hope we will have the pleasure of welcoming many customers in this first shop to build together the success of Pret in Luxembourg.”
 
West Midlands operators acquire second site as part of plans to build six-strong estate: West Midlands operators Russell Moreton and Melissa Nicholls have acquired their second site as part of plans to build a six-strong estate. The duo have taken the lease of The Wall Heath Tavern in Wall Heath, which belongs to Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars, as part of a two-year expansion plan. They also operate The Mount Tavern in Penn, Wolverhampton. Nicholls said: “The West Midlands is buoyant, there’s a lot of money still around in the area. Our strategy is to create multi-faceted pubs that attract an eclectic mix of customers as we believe this is the most resilient style of operation. We’re looking forward to growing the business further on the back of the upgrade.” Moreton and Nicholls, together with Star Pubs & Bars, are undertaking a joint £300,000 investment of the pub, which starts on Monday (22 May). It will reopen at the end of June. Funds are being spent on a complete internal and external redecoration, with a refurbished bar area and new furniture. Outside, there will be a new seating area. Sandi Tipton, business development manager at Star Pubs & Bars, said: “Russell and Melissa know the local area well having run the pub on a temporary basis for the last 14 months. Having run The Mount Tavern in Penn for more than ten years, they also have a real understanding of pub-goers’ increased expectations and of what customers want.” The investment is part of £40m being spent by Heineken on its Star Pubs & Bars estate in 2023.
 
Slim Chickens franchisee lines up Guildford opening for Wendy’s: JRK Restaurants, which is a franchisee for Slim Chickens along the south coast of England, has lined up an opening for Wendy’s, the third-largest quick service restaurant chain in the US, in Guildford, Surrey. JRK is planning an opening in the former Mothercare site in the city’s Church Street. Propel revealed in February that JRK was set to also aid the roll out of Wendy’s in the UK. It is thought a site in Portsmouth is also under consideration for the Wendy’s brand. It is thought JRK is planning to open more than 25 units in the next three years across the UK with the different brands it represents. It has so far opened four Slim Chickens sites – in Bournemouth, Brighton, Crawley and Southampton. At the end of last year, Wendy’s opened its first traditional franchise site in the UK, in Sheffield. Square Burger, which is from the team behind the Papas Fish & Chips business, opened a Wendy’s in Sheffield’s High Street. It has since opened a second site, in the former Monsoon Store, in Lincoln’s High Street. Wendy’s has so far approved six franchisees, who will take on territories including Scotland and Wales. In January, Wendy’s opened its debut UK drive-thru site in Cambridgeshire, operated by Blank Table, the brand’s second UK franchisee. Blank Table has since opened a site in Wisbech, with further openings in Cambridge and Peterborough to follow.
 
Essex hotel and spa reduces debts and reports strong trading post-covid as guests ‘continue to spend’ during cost-of-living crisis: Thorpe Hall Leisure, which operates the Lifehouse Hotel & Spa in Frinton-on-Sea, Essex, has reduced its debts and reported strong trading post-covid, as guests “continue to spend” during the cost-of-living crisis. The company reported turnover of £7,826,466 for the year ending 30 December 2022, up from £5,127,218 in 2021, when only almost eight months of trading was possible. It is also up on the £6,860,045 reported in the last full year before covid, ending 30 December 2019. Pre-tax profit grew from £121,163 in 2021 to £182,442 (2019: £79,749), while Ebitda rose from £653,094 to £810,561 (2019: £836,175). The company received £6,000 in government grants compared with £603,279 in 2021. In September 2022, following “significant cash balances accumulated due to the trading success”, the directors made a voluntary debt repayment of £300,000. This was in addition to the annual debt reduction of £200,000, resulting in long term debt reducing by £500,000 in 2022. Director Gordon Emslie, in his report accompanying the accounts, said: “Post-pandemic, trading has been strong, with good demand from guests for rooms and treatments, and with very high levels of diners in the restaurant. It is clear the demand for domestic vacations will continue, and with the location of Lifehouse in the countryside close to the seaside, it will remain a very attractive location for short breaks. Many of the operational changes introduced during covid were retained as they were found to be more efficient and resulted in a better customer journey and experience. A key risk that became apparent at the beginning of 2022 was the cost-of-living increases being experienced. It was thought this would influence levels of discretionary spend available within guests’ household budgets. Over the year, this was found not to be the case, and guests at Lifehouse continued to spend when on the resort.” The business, which reported 68% room occupancy during the year, invested in both its indoor and outdoor facilities and also launched its own TikTok channel to boost guest engagement.
 
MJMK confirms June opening for Casa do Frango’s fourth site: London bar and restaurant operator MJMK has confirmed the fourth site for its Casa do Frango piri-piri chicken concept will open next month. The restaurant, in the Nova scheme in London’s Victoria, will open on Monday, 26 June, set across two floors and seating 260 guests. There will be a large ground floor, a second-floor mezzanine and a street-side terrace. It will offer a new selection of fresh, seasonal dishes to complement the favourites already on the menu at its other sites. New for the summer will be crispy fried green beans served with piri-piri mayo; baby gem salad with chargrilled peppers and sweet white onion; and a heritage tomato salad. MJMK, founded by Marco Mendes and Jake Kasumov, last week launched a £1m crowdfunding campaign on Crowdcube – which overfunded before going public – to fund the new opening as well as a new concept. It has raised £1,345,680 from 277 investors with nine days remaining. It is currently offering 6.99% of equity with a pre-money valuation of £17.9m.
 
Puttshack aims to raise £10,000 for trans+ adult charity: Indoor mini golf experience Puttshack is aiming to raise £10,000 for trans+ adult charity Not A Phase in June. Putt for Pride will see every hole in one scored across all four UK Puttshack venues – Bank, White City, Watford and Lakeside – throughout the month achieve a 5p donation. Founded in 2020, Not A Phase is committed to uplifting and improving the lives of trans+ adults. This Pride month, Puttshack will support the charity in its vision for a world where trans+ people have equal opportunity and feel safe to thrive as their true selves. The partnership will also see the return of the Drag Brunch to Puttshack’s venues, featuring drag queens, live DJs and bottomless brunches. Puttshack is also launching its new spring and summer menu, with dishes such as a sharing skewer tower, oyster mushroom bao buns and mac ‘n’ cheese croquettes. In October, Puttshack completed a $150m growth capital round to build on its then two sites in the US. It has since opened four more locations in the States, with 13 more in the pipeline.
 
Curious Brewery appoints Danny Hoskins as group sales and marketing director: Curious Brewery, which is backed by Risk Capital Partners, Luke Johnson’s private equity firm, has appointed Danny Hoskins as its new group sales and marketing director. Hoskins joins the Mark Crowther-chaired business after five years as sales and marketing director at Bedlam Brewery. He also spent more than a year as sales director at Truman’s Brewery, and almost four years at C&C Group, including two years as national account director – on-trade retail. At the start of the year, Curious acquired the brands of Wild Beer Co, the Somerset brewer, out of administration. The deal with Curious involved the beer brands and intellectual property of Wild Beer Co but excluded the craft brewery and production facilities in Somerset.
 
Cotswolds hotel and spa exceeds pre-pandemic revenue levels following ‘staycation’ boost: Cotswolds hotel and spa Whatley Manor exceeded pre-pandemic levels of revenue in the year ending 30 June 2022 following a boost from the “staycation market”. The company, trading as MAC Hotels, reported turnover of £5,631,558, up from £3,806,157 in 2021 and on the £4,289,113 reported in the last full year before covid, ending 30 June 2019. Pre-tax profit grew from £151,345 in 2021 to £272,344 (2019: loss of £872,392). It received no government grants compared with £500,734 in 2021. No dividends were paid (2021: nil). Director Christian Landlot, in his statement accompanying the accounts, said: “The company’s revenues have increased owing to recovery following the covid-19 pandemic and a very strong staycation market, particularly during the latter half of the financial year. This has had a corresponding positive effect on the profit before tax.”
 
Civerinos to expand to Glasgow with three new sites planned: Edinburgh pizza concept Civerinos is to expand to Glasgow, with three new sites in the city planned. The concept, which operates three sites in the Scottish capital, will open its first Glasgow site, in the former Le Petit Conchon site in Radnor Street in September following a £500,000 makeover. This will be followed by further locations in Glasgow’s Southside and city centre. Owner Michele Civiera said: “I’m proud of what we’ve built in Edinburgh, but that counts for nothing. When we open in Glasgow in September, it will be day one all over again. We’re starting from scratch, I’m treating this like it’s my first business. We’ll be here for a long time, and this is just the first of our Glasgow venues.” The company had grown to five sites in 2021 but Civerinos Slice (West Slice) has since shut, while The High Dive bar was acquired by Nightcap. Civerinos still operates its eponymous site and two Civerinos Slices in Edinburgh.

Welsh luxury holiday park invests £30m in 80 new lodges and restaurant: Welsh luxury holiday park business Bluestone Resorts has invested £30m in several new projects including the launch of 80 new platinum lodges and transformation of a disused 19th century mill into a restaurant. The lodges alone are estimated to increase visitor spend by £1m a year at the Pembrokeshire resort, and 100 jobs will be created in addition to the 800 people it currently employs. The lion’s share of the investment has gone towards the development of the lodges, while some £3m has been spent on the Black Pool Mill restaurant, which is set to launch on Friday (19 May), and a further £3m will be spent on creating a solar farm, which is part of the company’s commitment to become Net Zero by 2040. Bluestone Resorts returned to profit in the year ending 6 January 2022, with turnover almost back to pre-covid levels. It turned a pre-tax loss of £1,607,000 the previous year into a £7,509,000 profit (2019: £3,346,000 profit). Revenue was up 57% from £16,179,000 in 2021 to £25,325,000 (2019: £26,111,000) and company Ebitda increased from £1,637,000 in 2021 to £10,445,000 (2019: £6,032,000).

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