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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Wed 14th Jun 2023 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Foodservice price inflation jumped back above 20% in April but expected to ease through rest of 2023: Year-on-year inflation in foodservice prices rose unexpectedly to 21.4% in April 2023, according to the new edition of the CGA Prestige Foodservice Price Index, but is expected to ease through the rest of 2023. Price increases had begun to slow in the first quarter of this year, and inflation dipped below 20% in March for the first time since mid-2022. However, the rebound in April underlines the severe cost pressures facing businesses throughout the foodservice sector, said the index. The rise was driven by pressure in the vegetables, fish and sugar and jams and syrups categories, each of which saw prices increase by between 3% and 4% month-on-month. Potatoes, in which the UK is more than 90% self-sufficient, suffered a particularly sharp increase during April in the wake of rising production costs, labour shortages, lower storage crops and short supply in many parts of Europe. This supply/demand imbalance looks set to continue for much of the rest of 2023. More optimistically, conditions within three major upstream influencers on the price of food – oil, exchange rates and commodity markets – are now relatively benign compared with the volatility of 2022. The cost of Brent Crude oil has eased from $87 per barrel at the beginning of April to below $80 at the end of the month, with more falls expected during May, while sterling has remained stable. Inflation in categories affected by high inflation since the start of the war in Ukraine, including oil and fats and dairy, continue to be subdued. Prestige Purchasing chief executive Shaun Allen said: “In spite of these April increases, we expect to see inflation ease slowly over the course of 2023 as commodity pricing and prior year impacts kick in. The major question that remains is the speed of that decline as energy, labour costs and climate change remain significant constraints on progress with inflation reduction.” James Ashurst, client director at CGA by NIQ, added: “On top of soaring costs in other key inputs and the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on consumers, it leaves hospitality businesses facing some seismic challenges. The long-term outlook for this sector remains good, but trading remains exceptionally difficult.”

Industry News:

Judy Joo to speak at Propel summer conference and party, three free places per company for operators: Judy Joo, chef, restaurateur and co-founder of Seoul Bird, will be among the speakers at the Propel Multi-Club Conference and summer party on Wednesday, 6 September, at the DoubleTree by Hilton Oxford Belfry. The all-day conference will focus on “new directions” and will be followed in the evening by the summer party, with a barbecue and five hours of live music, including a three-hour set from the famous house band at Piano Works. Joo will discuss her journey in the sector, going again with a new concept, and the challenges and opportunities of growing a business in the UK and internationally. Three free places per company for operators can be claimed. A room can also be booked for the evening. For more details, email
Latest Who’s Who of UK Food and Beverage to feature 693 companies, released on Friday: The latest Who’s Who of UK Food and Beverage will feature 693 companies when it is released to Premium subscribers on Friday (16 June). This month’s edition includes 13 new companies and 40 updated entries as well as more than 180,000 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.

UKHospitality – sector can deliver £29bn economic boost and create 500,000 jobs by 2027 with right support: The hospitality sector can deliver a £29bn economic boost to the UK and create 500,000 jobs by 2027 with right support, UKHospitality has said. A new report launched at the trade body’s summer conference reveals that in the past six years, hospitality has increased its annual economic contribution by £20bn to £93bn. It also shows that employment in the sector has risen to 3.5 million, making hospitality the third largest employer in the country. The report, produced by Ignite Economics, also sets out how hospitality operates at the very centre of the economy. In 2022 alone – and in spite of post-pandemic challenges still stifling growth – it contributed £54bn in tax receipts to the Treasury, generated £20bn worth of exports and £7bn in business investment. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “These figures show just how much of an economic powerhouse hospitality is. Despite going through a pandemic and a cost-of-living crisis over the past six years, as a sector we have continued to overcome challenges to increase our value to the economy and cement our position as a major employer. This report shows what can be achieved if we can stimulate growth, bear down on inflation and have an enabling and supportive policy environment in place for hospitality.” She added: “I urge the government to seize the opportunities available and unleash the incredible potential of hospitality. This means tackling short-term issues that are stifling further growth, like enormous energy costs, food and drink inflation and damaging labour shortages, and really looking at the long-term structural issues holding businesses back, across business rates, licensing and planning. I’m incredibly proud of the resilience our sector has shown in recent years and the fact we continue to be a significant source of economic growth. Our sector has a long track-record of growing rapidly and driving the economy and I hope the potential of hospitality is harnessed by the government.”
Hilton MD Steve Cassidy to become UKHospitality chair as Steve Richards moves to president: Hilton managing director Steve Cassidy will today (Wednesday, 14 June) become the new chair of UKHospitality, as Parkdean chief executive Steve Richards moves to the position of president. Cassidy has been a key member of the UKHospitality board since it was formed, most recently as vice-chair, and has more than 30 years’ experience in the travel industry. He joined Hilton in 2009 and heads up its business in the UK, Ireland and Israel, where it has more than 170 hotels. “I am proud to become chair of UKHospitality, an organisation that has supported and championed our industry with such passion and drive, especially through the recent tough years we have endured,” he said. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls added: “I’m delighted Steve has taken on the role of our chair, to which he will bring a wealth of knowledge from decades working in hospitality, tourism and travel.” Nicholls also paid tribute to Richards, who has served as chair since 2018 and now succeeds Nick Varney as president. “I’d like to thank Steve for his diligent service to UKHospitality since its inception five years ago, and for his dedication in his time as chair, where his leadership and ability to bring people together had a hugely positive impact on our sector, particularly during the pandemic,” she added. As part of constitutionally scheduled changes, joining the board are: Fiona Eastwood, chief operating officer, midway and resort theme parks at Merlin Entertainments; Fuller’s chief executive Simon Emeny; Azzurri Group chief executive Steve Holmes; Stonegate Group chief executive Dave McDowall; Revolution Bars Group chief executive Rob Pitcher; Martin Robinson, non-executive director of Burger King, Parkdean Resorts and Travelodge; and Elior chief executive Catherine Roe. Leaving the board are: BM Caterers chair Wendy Bartlett; Rekom UK executive chair Peter Marks; Calum Ross, proprietor, Loch Melfort Hotel and Restaurant; Varney; and All Our Bars chief executive Paul Wigham.
A third of consumers prepared to pay more for sustainable choices when dining out: A third of UK consumers are prepared to pay more for sustainable choices when dining out, a new report from CGA by NIQ and foodservice technology company Nutritics has found. It said 34% of UK pub and restaurant goers are prepared to spend more than usual in venues with strong sustainability credentials, with Generation Z and Millennials most inclined (47%) to splash out on greener choices. The report surveyed 5,000 UK hospitality consumers and found 70% of Brits are now actively trying to live a more sustainable lifestyle, while only 23% say sustainability is unimportant in their choice of venue. However, nearly half (47%) said they want more information about carbon footprints on menus, and 41% said it would influence their order. Nutritics chief executive Stephen Nolan said: “The climate crisis has focused consumers’ minds on environmental impact — not just their own, but they also want to see hospitality playing its part in reducing its environmental impact. Operators who seize the opportunity to capitalise on this demand, through better customer communication of credible initiatives, will profit from an ever-increasing competitive advantage.” The report also identified customers of Bella Italia as the most eco-conscious, with 79% saying they try to lead an environmentally friendly lifestyle, with McDonald’s customers the least likely (68%). It found sustainability matters most to casual dining customers of restaurants like YO! Sushi, PizzaExpress, Wagamama and Frankie & Benny’s, while customers of JD Wetherspoon, Greggs and McDonald’s were the least likely to consider sustainability when choosing where to eat or drink. However, Wetherspoons and Greggs customers both over-indexed on engagement with recyclable materials and locally sourced products, while Burger King and KFC customers over-indexed in areas including leading an environmentally friendly lifestyle and the importance of both a venue’s environmental credentials. Karl Chessell, director hospitality operators and food EMEA at CGA, added: “Despite the fallout from the pandemic and cost-of-living pressures, consumers still care about sustainability and want to be equipped to be able to make informed choices. Pubs, bars and restaurants that show good practice can improve brand trust and increase guest spend.” 
NTIA calls for ULEZ reform as London night workers hit with double charges: London’s night workers are at risk of being hit with double ULEZ charges, according to the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA). The trade body has called for a revision of the system as tens of thousands of night workers can currently be charged twice in one shift. People whose shift crosses the midnight threshold and have a non-compliant vehicle will be charged once for each 24 hour period pre and post-midnight under the current rigid guidelines. As the ULEZ scheme expands across London, the NTIA said the system’s limitations exposes night workers to disproportionate additional costs. “The potential impact on the workforce at night is quite considerable, and we would urge a review of the scheme to account for a rolling 24 hour period within its charge structure, to create a fair and considered charge which does not penalise night workers for their hours of work,” said NTIA chief executive Michael Kill. “The night-time economy sector has struggled to maintain a consistent workforce for the last three years, and exposure to these additional charges will not help businesses to recruit people within the sector in the future.”
Hospitality gift card sales set to grow by 76% in lead up to Father’s Day and exceed £1m in June: Hospitality gift card sales via e-commerce platform Toggle are set to grow by 76% to £600,000 in the lead up to Father’s Day compared to last year – while overall sales are expected to exceed a record-breaking £1m for June. Toggle’s digital gift card sales have grown by 1,900% since Father’s Day in 2019, when total sales were £30,000. The following year, sales hit £60,000 before rising to £210,000 in 2021, and £340,000 last year. Based on current sales, which are running far ahead of previous years, Toggle is expecting to hit £600,000 this year. Father’s Day is in the top three annual occasions when it comes to gifting, joining Mother’s Day and Christmas. Dan Brookman, chief executive at Airship & Toggle, said: “The hospitality gift card market has sky-rocketed around Father’s Day in recent years. When combined with a strong marketing push, it makes for one of the most effective ways to bolster sales and attract more guests.” Azzuri Group-owned Zizzi experienced a 27% uplift in gift card sales in the two-week run up to Father’s Day in 2022, as well as a 52% increase in sales value per gift card sold versus the all year round average. Dom South, marketing director at Zizzi, added: “Father’s Day is a core moment in the calendar for us and gift cards have become a key revenue driver around this occasion.”
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a food brand that is looking for a senior purchasing manager. A COREcruitment spokesperson said: “You will be responsible for managing the food and beverage categories working closely with suppliers to ensure the best products are bought for the best price, introducing successful and sustainable procurement practices, and liaising closely with all business departments to guarantee the optimum performance of the business.” The salary is up to £55,000 and the position is based in London. For more information, email 

Company News:

Rolled ice cream concept makes UK franchise debut, sees runway for ‘hundreds’ of sites overseas: Rolled ice cream concept Pan-n-Ice has made its UK franchise debut and told Propel it sees a runway for “hundreds” of overseas sites – where the climate is better suited. Pan-n-Ice was founded in 2015 when student Henry Milroy went travelling in Thailand and discovered the concept, which involves pouring a base liquid onto a frozen metal pan and adding fresh ingredients, which is then rolled up using a scraping device similar to those used to de-ice car windows. Back in the UK, he dropped out of university to focus on his new business, which grew to ten locations pre-covid and came out of the pandemic with two permanent sites, having closed its kiosks. It has since grown back to five sites – two in Manchester (Trafford Centre and Arndale) and three in London (Westfield White City and Stratford, and Argyll Street). The Argyll Street site, which has just opened, is not only its first franchise location but also its first not based in a shopping centre. It is also in talks for a site in Boxpark Shoreditch, and for a second within the Trafford Centre. “We don’t want to grow too fast too quickly, but with the right partner, we can see hundreds of international sites in the Middle East and America, and we’re looking for development franchisees to take regions,” Milroy told Propel. “There is potential space for the UK too with the right partner, but the right climates for the concept are abroad. We hope to open the first overseas within the next year. We’ve had a lot of discussions and had a lot of interest, it’s just finding the right partner. The ecommerce side that we started during covid, selling the machines, is probably more scalable in the UK. Of all the challenges facing hospitality, we’re affected more by the weather than anything – we’re expecting a busy summer, but winter will be interesting. Trading is positive, and school holidays are amazing for us, but it’s challenging outside of them.” Milroy said the concept was still fairly new in Thailand when he discovered it and had gone viral in the region. He found only one other UK company with the same offer when he founded Pan-n-Ice, which closed after a year or so, and while others have come along, “they usually close after a few months”. He said: “We were the first main company in Europe to do it, we’re the main name in the game. It’s an experience for people who buy it – they film it being made and film themselves eating it. We started out just doing festivals, ordered the machines from China, and they were delivered literally the night before our first event, which was a country show in Hampshire. For the first couple of years we were operating out of a truck, but when we did the Taste of London event at Westfield, the Westfield owner said he’d like us to operate a permanent store there, and it exploded from there.” Pan-n-Ice will feature in the next 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 to upgrade your subscription.

UK division of Soho House sees losses increase to £60m with turnover two-thirds of pre-pandemic levels: The UK division of Soho House has reported turnover increased 28% to £126,602,382 for the year ending 2 January 2022 compared with £98,563,283 the previous year, predominately driven by operations resuming after long-term closures caused by the covid pandemic. Prior to the pandemic, for the year ending 31 December 2019, the business turned over £182,033,088. Adjusted Ebitda was minus £21.6m compared with minus £28.2m the year before (2019: positive £9.0m). Pre-tax losses increased to £59,748,210 from £52,151,752 the year before (2019: loss of £20,283,415). Administrative expenses were up 18% to £175.3m (2021: £148.9m), which reflected “houses” operating as normal after reduced operations and measures in response to the pandemic. The company operates 11 “houses”, two townhouses, eight public restaurants, two spas, three cinemas and 345 hotel rooms across the UK. Two new sites opened in the period – in Balham in south London and Brighton. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “In response to the economic challenges and uncertainty resulting from the pandemic and its impact on our businesses, we accelerated our cost efficiencies programmes, which reduced group head office employee headcount by 19%. We offered credits to members who have not been able to use our ‘houses’, thus keeping the allegiance of the members. When our physical sites were forced to close during the pandemic, there was minimal impact on the retention of Soho House members. In addition, we reorganised our clubs, restaurants-and working spaces to keep the business going. Additionally, we delayed some development programmes and other capital expenditure.” The UK business received government grants of £7,780,301 (2021: £13,699,234).
Malta-based fast-casual concept Eeetwell to make UK debut: Eeetwell, the Malta-based, health-focused, fast-casual concept, is to make its UK debut after securing a site in London’s Notting Hill, Propel has learned. Eeetwell, which was launched in Malta in mid-2015 by founder Ammar Soltan, is understood to have secured the ex-Clean Kitchen site in Portobello Road, with a launch planned for later this year. The business currently operates circa 25 sites across Malta, Belgium, Italy and the UAE. It is thought it hopes to open further sites in London and the UK, dependent on the success of the Notting Hill site. Cities under consideration for future openings include Manchester, Birmingham and Brighton. The concept offers “healthy and sustainable food, juice and smoothies using fresh and locally sourced ingredients”. The company said: “The vision for the next five years is to continue expanding the brand’s reach in our home markets while spreading our wings in multiple countries within Europe, the UAE, UK, Australia and North America.” Samuel Nassimi, of CDG Leisure, acts on behalf of Eeetwell, while Ben Martin, of Etch, acted on behalf of the landlord in the Portobello Road deal.
Island Poké to make Scottish debut this month, lines up Brighton and Bristol openings: Island Poké, the White Rabbit Projects and Hero Brands-backed business, will make its Scottish debut next month, followed by further regional openings in Brighton and Bristol this summer. The Scottish site, in Edinburgh, will be the brand’s 17th in the UK and second outside of London following last month’s launch in Newcastle. Opening on Wednesday, 5 July at 4 Hanover Street, it will offer Scottish salmon and sashimi grade tuna, chicken and plant-based poke bowls and award-winning bao, from lunch through to dinner to eat-in, collect or have delivered. Launching in time for the new opening is a new hot food menu featuring an Island Katsu and Pacific Coconut Curry with a choice of blackened miso chicken or teriyaki mushrooms, plus sesame infused brown rice or udon noodles. Following the regional openings, Island Poké said it has “a number of further locations in central London being considered for later in the year”. Founder James Gould-Porter added: “We’re thrilled to be opening our first Island in Scotland. It’s another real milestone for the Island Poké brand and a great opportunity to expand the poké fan base.” Last year, the company said it had sold more than 80 locations across the UK due to open over the next five years, plus a further 150 potential locations identified but yet to be sold.
Mitchells & Butlers launches new flexible working app to ‘engage with new generation of talent’: Mitchells & Butlers (M&B), the Harvester, All Bar One and Miller & Carter operator, has launched its new flexible working app, M&B Flexible. The company said the digital platform aims to engage with a new generation of talent looking to work more flexibly by offering potential new team members the chance to pick their working hours, the type of role they would like to work in and the venue they would like to work from, with a choice of sites from across all of its brands. By launching M&B Flexible, the company believes it can better compete in the employment market by offering “another way of working” and making more efficient use of talent through a “more fluid workforce”. M&B Flexible has been created in partnership with flexible working start-up Limber and has initially launched across sites in London and the south east. Prospective employees can sign up, complete a profile and apply to work shifts at the sites of their choice. There are no minimum requirements and they can work as little or as often as they like. Craig Provett, director of compensation, benefits and employee relations at M&B, said: “At M&B, it’s the people and culture that make working life fulfilling, and we’re passionate about giving our people the support and flexibility they need. In the first phase of our roll out with Limber, its technology has enabled us to build flexible teams of talent that have gone on to complete 15,000 shifts at our businesses in London.”
Britannia returns to profit as turnover exceeds pre-pandemic levels: Britannia Hotels, the UK’s largest private hotel group with 61 locations offering more than 10,000 bedrooms, returned to profit in the year ending 31 March 2022 as turnover exceeded pre-pandemic levels. The company reported a pre-tax profit of £33,355,000 for the period compared with a loss of £9,549,000 in 2021. In the last full year before covid, ending 31 March 2019, it made a pre-tax profit of £19,362,000. Turnover rose more than 300% from £38,311,000 in 2021 to £117,847,000. In 2019, it reported turnover of £115,433,000. It received £956,683 in furlough payments (2021: £5,396,810). No dividends were paid (2021: nil). In his statement accompanying the accounts, director Robert Ferrari said: “This result represents a return to performance levels comparable to pre covid-19 achieved during a period of difficult trading conditions, which continues to limit opportunities for growth. Our priority continually remains to maintain occupancy levels and manage operating costs so that the business is well placed to exploit further investment in new properties.” Britannia Hotels features in the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book, the latest edition of which was sent to Premium subscribers on Friday, 9 June. Its turnover of £117,847,000 is the 60th highest in the database. Its profit of £33,355,000 is the 16th 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 to upgrade your subscription.
Chopstix signs up Slim Chickens franchisee for south west openings: KK Foods SW, the franchisee for Slim Chickens in the south west, has signed a multi-unit deal to expand leading Asian quick service restaurant (QSR) brand Chopstix in the region. The Jon Lake-led Chopstix said the deal further accelerates the brand’s growth trajectory, with KK looking to develop a pipeline of stores across the region. KK recently opened its first Chopstix store, in Plymouth’s New George Street, recording a record first week of sales for a Chopstix franchise site, with a second site launch planned in Portsmouth later this year. Working closely with Chopstix franchise director Aaron Moore-Saxton, KK will oversee the full management of the sites, with all employees undergoing an extensive Chopstix induction. Moore-Saxton said: “KK already has an impressive track record operating highly successful QSR sites, and the team’s vision and buy-in of the Chopstix brand made a partnership a really natural fit. KK has extensive knowledge of the south west, a region our market mapping indicates has high potential for growth for Chopstix. We’re therefore confident KK will have great success with the Plymouth location, and are excited to support the team as it expands across the south west.” KK, an established franchise operator with a track record in rolling out hospitality brands including Pizza Hut Delivery and Costa Coffee, has so far opened three sites under the Slim Chickens brand, in Bristol, Exeter and Plymouth. KK director Noah Wright said: “Chopstix is a brand that complements our existing portfolio perfectly, so I’m delighted we’ve agreed to this long-term partnership. We see significant opportunity to build a strong pipeline of new sites in the south west, particularly because of the wide range of sites that Chopstix can succeed in, and have already begun exploring potential locations to add to those already secured in Plymouth and Portsmouth.”
Timpson family owned pub company sees revenue exceed £5m: Flock Inns, which is owned by the Timpson family, has reported turnover of £5,515,019 for the year ending 1 October 2022 versus £4,527,375 for the 15 months previously. The business, which was incorporated in June 2020, operates three pubs – The White Eagle and The Oyster Catcher in Anglesey and The Partridge in Cheshire – along with Le Tremplin Hotel in Morzine, which it acquired in December 2022. Pre-tax profit in the 12 months to 1 October 2022 stood at £174,113 (previous 15 months: £540,726). Timpson is a family-owned group that was founded in 1865. The three-star Le Tremplin Hotel was established in 1936 by Jeanne and Gaston Taberlet and was one of the first to be set up at the Morzine resort. The hotel also features the Tremplin restaurant, which offers a menu of gourmet dishes alongside pastries, desserts and other sweet treats. For the 12 months to 1 October 2022, the Timpson group posted pre-tax profit of £40.7m (2021: £24.5m). Turnover increased from £212.2m to £297.6m.
Coffi Lab secures second site in England: Coffi Lab, the dog-friendly coffee shop concept, is to further increase its presence in England after securing a site in Portishead, Somerset, Propel has learned. Coffi Lab – which was launched in 2021 by Coffee#1 founder James Shapland and already operates a site in Marlborough, Wiltshire – will open at the former McColls site in the town’s High Street, for its ninth site in total. Last week, the company secured its fifth site in Cardiff. The business has begun fitting out 8-10 Wellfield Road, in the city’s Roath area. The large double unit will comprise circa 80 covers internally and 20 externally. The company operates seven outlets and is currently in talks to take a site in central Cardiff. Last month, Shapland told Propel the business was demonstrating the ability to take share from the larger chains and the growth opportunity for the concept “is significant”. He said the company’s site pipeline is strong, and the company has a long-term target of 50 Coffi Lab sites over the next five years.
Six by Nico eyes Welsh debut: The team behind the Six by Nico restaurant business is lining up its debut site in Wales, with an opening in Cardiff. Propel understands Six by Nico is set to take on the ex-Zizzi restaurant in the Castle Quarter Arcades in the Welsh capital. Last month, the company was linked to a second opening under its eponymous brand, in Manchester. The business has applied to open a site in the city’s John Dalton Street, underneath Yotel hotel. It opened its debut site in the city’s Spring Gardens in summer 2019. In March, Propel revealed Six by Nico had lined up an opening in Leeds for its eponymous brand. The business is taking space at 9 East Parade in the city. In February, Six by Nico opened a third site under its eponymous concept in Glasgow, taking Scottish-Italian chef Nico Simeone’s total UK portfolio to 11. In January, the company announced it was set to open four new sites under its core brand, as well as new bar and bakery ventures, and an international launch, on the back of a “robust financial performance”. This spring, its bakery concept Valaria opened in Glasgow’s West End.
Nobu’s Mayfair restaurant exceeds pre-pandemic levels of turnover and profit: Nobu’s restaurant in London’s Mayfair exceeded pre-pandemic levels of turnover and profit in the year ending 31 December 2022. Revenue increased 26.9% during the period from £8,083,398 to £10,261,012. This compares with £10,043,143 in the last full year before covid-19, ending 31 December 2019. Pre-tax profits rose from £1,112,998 in 2021 to £1,339,622 (2019: 1,164,505). The company received £6,000 in business rates relief payments (2021: £43,832) and no furlough payments (2021: £282,852). It incurred no significant capital expenditure during the year but is planning to refurbish the restaurant in 2023. Director Andrew Roberts said: “The directors expect an increase in turnover in the coming year, with increased activity forecast in the market, in addition to a proactive increased impetus on marketing activities.” Nobu also operates hotels with restaurants in London’s Shoreditch and Portman Square, among a global portfolio of 57 restaurants and hotels.
San Carlo to relocate Piccadilly restaurant into larger site: Italian restaurant chain San Carlo is to relocate its Cicchetti site in London’s Piccadilly, which will see it double in size, Propel has learned. San Carlo has signed a lease for Cicchetti at 172-173 Piccadilly, which will see it move from 215 Piccadilly. The new 7,000 square-foot site forms part of the grade II-listed Piccadilly Arcade and covers two units spread over two floors. Opening in spring 2024, Cicchetti Piccadilly will offer its “trademark and elevated take on cicchetti”, the authentic Italian plates designed for sharing and typically served in traditional bácari (informal bars) in Venice. Marcello Distefano, managing director of San Carlo, said: “We’re excited to be doubling our Cicchetti footprint in Piccadilly and opening what will be our flagship site. This is a significant milestone for the group as we look to expand our restaurant sites across the capital. We’ve scaled up both in the UK, with three new openings in the last couple of years, and internationally, with Dubai and Miami opening soon. This new larger site will mean we can continue to cater for increased demand.” San Carlo was founded in 1992 and the group currently trades from 24 sites across the UK, seven of which are within London. Its current international sites are located in Qatar, Riyadh, Jeddah, Bahrain and Bangkok.
Barworks set to open second Mare Street Market for biggest site to date: London bar group Barworks is set to open a second site for its Mare Street Market concept in what will be its biggest site ever. The 18,000 square-foot multi-use space in Lewis Cubitt Square will trade over three floors when it opens this autumn, housing multiple dining, co-working, bar and retail concepts. It will offer 70% more space than the original Mare Street Market in Hackney and is the second largest retail deal in the history of King’s Cross – eclipsed only by the 20,000 square-foot SamsungKX experience store in Coal Drops Yard. There will also be indoor and outdoor seating for up to 700 covers. Barworks founder Marc Francis-Baum said: “As a creative and vibrant corner of London, I can’t think of a better home for our second Mare Street Market. This is a real opportunity to create a unique and magical place where anyone can meet, work, eat, drink, shop and enjoy life. Our mission at Mare Street Market has always been to help new businesses on their journey to success, and in turn, they help us provide a unique place and offer. Many of these businesses opened their first physical unit in our Hackney site and have now gone on to have their own shops and places.” The original Mare Street Market opened in Hackney’s Mare Street in March 2018. In October 2021, following Barworks’ £16m sale of 13 sites to Urban Pubs & Bars, Francis-Baum told Propel that it had the opportunity to do another Mare Street Market and called the concept a “colossal business for us”. Barworks also operates Gas Station in King’s Cross and The Starman in Mayfair, and will reopen Two Floors in Soho early next year.
West Yorkshire operator sells Bradford pub to two of its customers: West Yorkshire operator Beerhouses has sold one of its pubs, in Bradford, to two of its customers. In a deal brokered by Christie & Co, Jessica Taylor and Stacey Pedley have acquired the leasehold of The Terrace in the village of Idle from the company. Beerhouses has operated the pub, in Albion Road, since 2017, having acquired it from fellow Yorkshire operator, Market Taverns. The new owners, who are both new entrants to the pub market, plan to return the venue to its former name of Symposium. Beerhouses director Sarah Barnes said: “We have loved every minute of running the pub, but having recently undergone a review of our portfolio, we decided to sell off this business. We are delighted Jess and Stacey are taking it over and wish them the best of luck.” The new owners added: “We consider ourselves incredibly lucky to now own this gem of a local landmark and we’re excited to bring back a name the people of Idle hold dear. We’ve been regulars here for well over a decade, and it was here where we met many years ago and became best friends. It’s a dream come true to have purchased the venue and we want to make sure it’s here to stay for years to come.” Beerhouses now operates six pubs in Stalybridge, Huddersfield, Horbury and Dewsbury.
Honest Burgers appoints Lee Nixon as ops director: Honest Burgers, the Active Partners-backed business, has appointed Lee Nixon, former managing director of Danish bakery concept Ole & Steen, as its new operations director. Propel revealed in April that Nixon had stepped down as managing director of Ole & Steen after joining the business in summer 2020. Nixon was also formerly at Costa Coffee, where he spent more than ten years, and Le Pain Quotidien, where he was director of UK & Ireland operations for 15 months. He oversaw the expansion of Ole & Steen from 12 sites to 26. In February, Frank Hayes, chief executive of Honest Burgers, told Propel the circa 40-strong company was “performing strongly” and beginning to again look at expansion opportunities. Hayes said the company was seeing strong sales momentum. 
JD Wetherspoon scores average food hygiene rating of 4.99 out of five in English, Welsh and Northern Irish pubs: JD Wetherspoon has scored an average rating of 4.99 out of five in the latest food hygiene rating league for its 763 pubs in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS) is the only independent government scheme assessing the level of hygiene standards in pubs, restaurants, takeaways, clubs and cafes. The scheme scores outlets zero to five, with the highest possible rating of five meaning “very good” hygiene practices and safety systems in place, fully complying with the law. The ratings of FHRS follow an independent assessment of food hygiene at the various premises, determined by local authority environmental health officers visiting outlets to assess hygiene levels. Environmental health officers assess three areas – food hygiene and safety procedures, structural compliance and confidence in management. Wetherspoon’s personnel and retail audit director, James Ullman, said: “We are proud of our pubs’ hygiene ratings. This is a wonderful achievement by our pub managers and staff. We will continue to strive to maintain the highest standards of hygiene in our pubs at all times.”
Tomahawk Steakhouse closes Nottingham site after lease expires, seeking new site in city: North east multi-site operator Howard Eggleston has closed his Tomahawk Steakhouse in Nottingham after the lease expired but is seeking a new site in the city. The restaurant, at 12 Low Pavement, only opened seven months ago in the former Carluccio’s unit. In a statement, Tomahawk said: “Due to our lease expiring we are sad to see Tomahawk Steakhouse Nottingham close its doors one final time. We hope to be back in Nottingham soon when we secure a new site, but for now, our bookings are closed.” It comes after Propel revealed earlier this month that Eggleston had closed the Tomahawk Steakhouse in Ponteland, Northumberland, in preparation for introducing a new “big name” concept there. Earlier this year, he also closed his Tomahawk Steakhouse in Chester to convert it to a Rio Brazilian, which will reopen on Friday (16 June). The group now operates 11 Tomahawk Steakhouses and six Rio Brazilian locations, with sites secured for Rio Brazilians in Sunderland and York to open this year.

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