Story of the Day:
Sector sales grow for eighth consecutive month as bumper bank holidays help like-for-likes increase 5.6% in May: Britain’s leading managed restaurant, pub and bar groups achieved an eighth consecutive month of year-on-year sales growth in May, the latest Coffer CGA Business Tracker shows. The tracker – which is produced by CGA by NIQ in partnership with The Coffer Group and RSM UK – revealed like-for-like sales increased 5.6% in May, which was boosted by a succession of bank holidays including an extended weekend for the King’s coronation. Pubs also benefited from widespread warm weather with like-for-like sales 8.8% ahead of last May. Trading at restaurants was more muted, with sales up 2.7%. Bars recorded a 6.6% drop in sales to continue a challenging year for the category. While managed groups’ total sales showed solid growth, May trading was dampened in many areas by rail strikes, while fragile consumer confidence continues to impact the frequency of visits to venues. Meanwhile, high inflation means sales remained below the levels of May 2022 in real terms. The tracker also highlighted the ongoing recovery of London’s hospitality sector after the turmoil of the covid-19 pandemic. Managed groups’ sales rose by an above-inflation 12.6% year-on-year, thanks in part to an influx of visitors for the Coronation. This was more than twice the level of the 4.9% growth beyond the M25 in May. Karl Chessell, director – hospitality operators and food, EMEA at CGA by NIQ, said: “Managed hospitality groups continue to be challenged by soaring costs, the squeeze on consumer spending and rail travel disruption, making inflation-adjusted growth tough. Nevertheless, eight positive months in a row have shown demand for eating and drinking out remains strong, especially around holidays and big national occasions. As inflation falls and discretionary spending stabilises, we can be cautiously optimistic about a return to real-terms growth in the second half of 2023.” Mark Sheehan, managing director at Coffer Corporate Leisure, added: “There is increased competition from a wide range of new offers including experiential concepts and food markets, which are competing with more conventional offerings. The sector is hoping the warmer weather in June can help kickstart a real recovery in numbers.”
Panel on the latest recruitment and retention issues facing the sector to be held at Propel summer conference and party, three free places per company for operators:
A panel on the latest recruitment and retention issues being faced across the sector will be held 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. The panel will be led by Krishnan Doyle, managing director of COREcruitment, with Thomas Stroppel, head of learning and development at Dishoom; Maureen Sandbach, people director at Honest Burgers; Oli Cavaliero, group head of talent at Gail’s and The Bread Factory; Rachel Masing, people director at ETM Group and Maven Leisure; Hattie Renshaw, head of talent at Sodexo; and Laura Mills, chief operating officer at The Ivy Collection. Three free places per company for operators can be claimed. A room can also be booked for the evening. For more details, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Latest UK Food & Beverage Franchisor Database to feature more than 98,000 words, released today:
The latest UK Food & Beverage Franchisor Database will feature more than 98,000 words when it is sent to Premium subscribers today (Wednesday, 21 June), at midday. Among them is Boss Pizza
, a pizza concept started as a lockdown project by Ajmal Mushtaq, chef-director at Mushtaqs restaurant in Hamilton, Scotland. Also featured is Paris Baguette
, a South Korean multinational chain of bakery-cafés which plans to expand to 200 UK sites by 2036 through franchising. Pan-n-Ice
, a rolled ice cream concept founded in 2015 when student Henry Milroy discovered it while travelling in Thailand, features too. The database, which is an exhaustive guide to the companies offering a food and beverage franchise in the UK, is updated every two months. 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 Who’s Who of UK Food and Beverage
. Companies can now have an unlimited number of people receive access to Propel Premium for a year for £995 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or a supplier. The single subscription rate is £495 plus VAT for operators and £595 plus VAT for suppliers. Email email@example.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.
High Court rules in favour of PizzaExpress on insurance payouts: The High Court has ruled in favour of a group of businesses, including PizzaExpress, London’s ExCeL venue and a Mayfair nightclub, which are seeking insurance payouts for covid-19 losses, in a closely watched judgment predicted to unleash a fresh wave of claims. The FT reported the judgment applied to ExCeL – which is seeking a £16m payout against insurers including RSA and Allianz – and a dozen other claimants, including PizzaExpress, in one of the most significant legal battles since a Supreme Court victory for policyholders two years ago. In that January ruling, the Supreme Court decided that businesses with applicable policies could claim if there had been a case of covid in the vicinity of their premises. The latest judgment extends that logic to another group of insurance policies with clauses that cover businesses for the closure of their sites due to covid occurring “at the premises”. “This seems to me to be an appropriate result, since any other conclusion would give rise to anomalies which it would be difficult rationally to explain to a reasonable [small or medium-sized business] policyholder who read the policy,” said Mr Justice Jacobs. To say otherwise, he added, would hypothetically give rise to a situation where one restaurateur who caught covid could not claim on his own “at the premises” policy, but his next-door neighbour could use that infection to claim on their policy requiring an infection in the “vicinity”. “It’s possible there might be some very big claims to come out of this as well as a lot of small claims,” said Aaron Le Marquer, head of policyholder disputes at law firm Stewarts, which acted for ExCeL. He predicted the result could lead to hundreds of thousands more claims that would “significantly increase the sector’s exposure”.
Fewer than a third of Brits say their workplace adequately supports LGBTQ+ community: Fewer than a third of Brits (28%) have said their workplace adequately supports the LGBTQ+ community, according to research from Greene King. The brewer and retailer surveyed 2,000 Brits to explore how employees and customers can support the LGBTQ+ community, and use of pronouns (30%) came top of the list of ways employees can do so. Other include having a dedicated gender identity policy (25%), having gender neutral bathrooms (23%), having an LGBTQ+ employee group (20%) and donating to LGBTQ+ charities (20%). While the research showed a clear appetite for LGBTQ+ support among Brits, some areas such as gender identity are still an unknown quantity to many. When questioned on use of a transgender person’s chosen name, 34% said while they would use it, they’d struggle to remember it. A further 17% said they’d only use the name if they had to, and 8% said they’d never use it at all. The pub was voted as the perfect place to have an open discussion about LGBTQ+ issues by 38% of Brits, ahead of restaurants (29%) and the workplace (14%). Assad Malic, Greene King’s chief communications and sustainability officer, and board sponsor for The Village Greene, said: “We’re proud of the steps we’ve taken, from the creation of The Village Greene to the fundraising work for Switchboard LGBT, but we have more to do. It’s clear both employers and customers want to see more action when it comes to LGBTQ+ support, and we’re committed to offering this at every level of the business, to ensure pubs remain at the heart of the community for all. It’s clear from our study that the humble pub is a fantastic place to open up a conversation about issues experienced by members of the LGBTQ+ community. Therefore, we need to do everything we can to ensure our pubs are a safe and welcoming space for all, regardless of gender or sexual identity.”
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a high volume leisure venue that is seeking an HR director. A COREcruitment spokesperson said: “The business is looking for an experienced and HR qualified candidate with passion for people, strategy, the ability to deliver on short-term and long-term goals, and provide strong leadership and direction for the HR function. Some of your responsibilities will include developing and implementing HR strategies and programmes that support the overall mission and goals of the brand; providing guidance and direction to department managers and employees on all HR matters; and managing employee relations issues, staff wellness, benefits and performance reviews.” The salary is up to £120,000 and the position is based in Staffordshire. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chestnut Group diversifies business with acquisition of regional wine merchant as part of growth strategy:
East Anglian pub company Chestnut Group has diversified its business with the acquisition of regional wine merchant Peter Graham Wines (PGW) as part of its growth strategy. PGW, which had worked closely with Chestnut over the last ten years, will continue to operate as a separately branded business within the Chestnut portfolio. “This is a great fit for both companies and we have ambitious plans to build on the existing success of PGW,” said Philip Turner, Chestnut founder and chief executive. “PGW’s East Anglian footprint dovetails perfectly with our regional ambition and focus, both brands are very closely aligned and share similar core values. This is particularly evident in the desire to transition to a more sustainable business model, and we already have plans in place to reduce our carbon footprint by optimising the logistics operations. We also have the ability to support growth plans within PGW.” PGW founder Louisa Turner added: “Having spent 26 years building the business, I am obviously sad to be moving on, but think Chestnut is the perfect guardian of our team, customers and brand. Chestnut has been a core component of PGW’s growth in the last ten years, and cementing this strong relationship provides PGW with a great platform to grow further.” Earlier this month, Chestnut launched seven experience-led luxury lodges at The Weeping Willow in Barrow, Suffolk, as it targets the short-stay family market. The group, founded in 2012 by Turner, operates 17 sites across Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Essex and Norfolk. In January, the company said it saw like-for-like sales increase 23% in December, on a VAT adjusted basis, compared with the previous year, with total sales up 38%. Total group turnover for the nine months to 31 December 2022 was £17.2m and the company said it was on target to deliver £21.2m in the full year to March 2023. This represents 18% growth year-on-year, a 115% increase on the year to March 2020, and 330% increase on the year to March 2019. It came as the business reported its first profit since first posting full accounts in 2018, for the year ending 31 March 2022. It made a pre-tax profit of £23,457 compared with a loss of £579,433 in 2021 and a loss of £1,482,124 in 2020. Turnover more than doubled from £7,035,189 in 2021 to £18,856,991. Chestnut Group features in the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book. Its turnover of £18,856,991 is the 313th 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 email@example.com to upgrade your subscription
Doughnut company Project D secures Liverpool and York sites: Derbyshire doughnut company Project D has secured sites in Liverpool and York as part of its expansion plans, Propel has learned. Project D, which is currently raising funds to support its growth through crowdfunding platform Crowdcube, is opening in Parliament Street in York and outside Liverpool ONE. The business, which is preparing to open its debut bricks and mortar site at Meadowhall in Sheffield, is also in active discussions on a number of other locations. The company stated: “In our relentless quest to bring our world-class doughnuts to every corner of the country, we’re planting our flag in two new prime locations. Our first step in this exciting expansion phase is a 500 square-foot retail store in Parliament Street in York in the heart of the city. We’re also opening an optimally located kiosk outside Liverpool ONE, one of the country’s busiest shopping complexes. We are excited about the huge potential for increased brand visibility and accessibility that this location has to offer. These new locations are just the beginning of a much larger expansion plan. We are in active discussions regarding numerous other prime locations across the country. Each new location represents another step forward in our mission to become a beloved national brand.” The business was founded by three former school friends – Max Poynton, Matthew Bond and Jacob Watts – in 2018, selling thousands of homemade doughnuts weekly via pop-up events and at shopping centre kiosks. It now employs more than 120 staff and produces more than 50,000 doughnuts each week at its 11,000 square-foot bakery in Spondon. Project D is aiming to raise £400,000 and is offering 3.94% equity in return for the investment, giving a pre-money valuation of £9,740,250. So far, more than 600 people have invested a total of £375,000, with seven days of the campaign remaining.
Bob & Berts to make Yorkshire debut: Cafe brand Bob & Berts is set to make its debut in Yorkshire after securing a site in Wakefield. The 25-strong business has secured a site at the Trinity Walk shopping centre in the town for an opening later this year. The company plans to open six new sites this year and will soon launch in Blackpool’s Houndshill Centre and open a second site in Belfast. The company, which is in legals on other sites, is also set to open an outlet in Glasgow later this year. In April, the BGF-backed business reported a 58% jump in turnover to £17,750,690 for the year ending 30 June 2022 compared with £11,222,452 the year before. Pre-tax profit was down to £1,103,318 from £1,646,892 following a year of rising costs. The company currently operates 14 sites in Northern Ireland, six in Scotland and five in England. It has a long-term goal of reaching 50 sites. Jim Bishop, of James Property Consulting, acts for Bob & Berts.
Truffle Burger opens in West Hampstead: Burger specialist Truffle has opened its fifth bricks-and-mortar burger restaurant, in London’s West Hampstead, Propel has learned. The Tom Bickers-founded concept has opened a 30-cover site on the former Trattoria Urbana restaurant space in West End Lane. It is the second opening of the year for the concept,after it launched on the ex-Honest Burgers site in Picton Place, near St Christopher’s Place, earlier this spring. Truffle launched its first permanent site in Soho’s Bateman Street in 2020, and has also opened in Stoke Newington and Liverpool Street. It also operates pop-up sites in Seven Dials Market and on the Southbank.
Danish espresso bar concept Hagen opens Knightsbridge: Danish espresso bar concept Hagen has continued its expansion in London with an opening in Knightsbridge. Hagen has opened its ninth site in the capital at 8/8A West Halkin Street. Earlier this spring, the business acquired the ex-Bread Ahead bakery site at 70 Hampstead High Street in an off-market deal. Hagen also operates sites in Chelsea, Mayfair, Belgravia, Marylebone, South Kensington, Fitzrovia and Notting Hill. Born out of Copenhagen and founded in London, Hagen focuses on creating hygge (Danish for “comfortable conviviality”) spaces and serving premium specialty coffee in London’s affluent locations. The business, which is led by founder Tim Schroeder, is understood to be looking at further site opportunities in the capital for openings this year. Schroeder said: “Each one of our sites is carefully chosen and we are very selective with the landlords we partner with.” George Collison, of Savills, acts for Hagen.
Sixes makes US debut: Sixes, the cricket-based competitive socialising concept from the founders of Mac & Wild, has made its debut in the US. The business has opened at Grandscape, a shopping and entertainment destination in Dallas, Texas, which marks its first international site. In April, Michael Hay, international head of marketing at Sixes, told Propel the business had “big plans” in the States and was “looking at 100 sites across the US, comprising a combination of operated/company-owned and franchised openings”. Earlier this month, 4CAST Investment Group, which includes England international cricketers Ben Stokes, Stuart Broad and Jofra Archer, invested in Sixes to aid its expansion in the UK and internationally. Created by Calum Mackinnon and Andy Waugh, Sixes opened its inaugural site in Fulham in December 2020. There are now four sites across London, plus further locations in Manchester, Birmingham and Leicester. It is set to open in the current on-site restaurant space at Brighton i360, in Brighton, next month.
Europe’s first indoor baseball hub to open in London: Related Argent and Barnet council have signed what they describe as Europe’s first indoor baseball and softball destination at Brent Cross Town, their mixed-use development in north London. The 108, a 40,000-square-foot hub, will open in the autumn. The new venue will comprise training facilities that can be used by professional teams through to youth and social games players, as well as for indoor softball and casual hitting practice. It will include a food and beverage offer, big screens to watch games, a retail store and space to host parties and events. It will also feature four dual-sport batting cages equipped with HitTrax, which provides hitting simulation that can test and measure the launch angle, exit velocity and distance. The concept is the brainchild of baseball enthusiasts Maxwell Trautman and Michael Wakelam and is supported by the UK’s governing bodies for baseball and softball and US Major League Baseball. Wakelam and Trautman said: “As passionate baseball fans, our goal has always been to make baseball and softball more accessible to both those aiming to reach elite levels in the sport, and those wanting to try these great sports for the first time.”
Marugame Udon eyes Romford opening: International udon noodles and tempura restaurant brand Marugame Udon is looking to add to its openings pipeline with a site in Romford, east London. The Keith Bird-led business has applied to open on the ex-Gap store site in the town’s The Brewery scheme. Marugame Udon made its UK and European debut in London in 2021 with its flagship site off Liverpool Street. Earlier this year, it opened a site in Reading, its 11th in the UK, and first outside the capital. Its next opening is set to be in Liverpool Street station later this summer. It is understood to have lined up an ex-Carluccio’s restaurant in Milton Keynes for its second regional opening, and is in legals on a number of other sites both inside and outside London.
Chinese global cuisine concept makes European debut in London’s Fitzrovia: Chinese global cuisine concept MealTime Malatang has made its European debut with a restaurant in London’s Fitzrovia. The brand, founded in 2018 in Shanghai and now with more than 50 restaurants in China, has opened at 34 Goodge Street having agreed a deal with landlord Shaftesbury Capital. The 500 square-foot venue offers 26 covers, with a standalone counter allowing customers to make their choice of fresh ingredients ready to be “Malatanged” by a chef in a signature spicy broth. Malatang is a traditional Sichuan street food similar to hotpot. Li Yanxi, chief executive at MealTime Malatang, said: “We are proud to be opening our first venture outside China in an area known for its global cuisine, and look forward to bringing our fresh and flavoursome food to this vibrant community in central London.”
Travelodge opens Ireland’s ‘largest budget hotel’: Travelodge has opened its 11th site in Ireland – and what it claims is the largest budget hotel in the country. The eight-storey, 393-bedroom hotel in Dublin city centre has launched under its franchise agreement with Tifco, which manages Travelodge’s sites in Ireland. It features 175 SuperRooms – Travelodge’s premium economy concept – which include coffee pod machines, 43-inch TVs and USB power points. The ground floor bar menu includes a range of cocktails, fine wine and spirits, and on the same floor, a restaurant offers an all-day menu and outdoor terrace. Steve Bennett, Travelodge chief property and development officer, said: “We are delighted to open the largest branded budget hotel in Ireland in a key location in the heart of Dublin city centre with Tifco. It showcases just how far the budget hotel sector has grown over the last three decades. This opening marks a step change for budget hotels in Ireland. Britain and Ireland are now nations of budget travellers, with more of us choosing to stay in budget hotels than any other hotel type. As we look to the future, we are looking forward to growing our hotel network across Ireland, and we look forward to working with Tifco on our Irish estate.” Travelodge operates almost 600 hotels across the UK, Ireland and Spain.
Bonnie & Wild unveils initiative to boost start-ups with appetite for growth: Bonnie & Wild – the Edinburgh food hall concept from the founders of Scottish restaurant brand Mac & Wild – has unveiled an initiative to boost start-ups with an appetite for growth. It is to host a series of innovative collaborations with small and start-up businesses, kicking off with the launch of a new pop-up restaurant this weekend. The collaborations will see food-led concepts, craft breweries and distilleries take over the food hall’s event space and bars. It will begin with the award-winning team behind Sri Lankan street food kitchen Kochchi, which will launch its latest creation, Okanda, and will be cooking up a curated menu of Thai noodles, Vietnamese rolls and Nepalese momos. The Okanda kitchen concept is the latest creation of Suki Jayaratne and Shehan Fernando, whose Sri Lankan-focused Kochchi is based within Bonnie & Wild. Jayaratne said: “Okanda is the culmination of our lifelong love affair with the rich tapestry of flavours found throughout south east Asia. Shehan and I have travelled, lived and breathed these flavours, and can’t wait to show off these authentic dishes to guests at Bonnie & Wild as we look to expand the business.” Bonnie & Wild managing director Ryan Barrie added: “Since day one, we’ve wanted to use Bonnie & Wild as a platform to champion Scotland’s amazing food and drink businesses. Giving our events space over to talented and driven chefs and entrepreneurs is just the next step.” Bonnie & Wild opened in 2021 at the St James Quarter development.
Butlin’s opening new £15m entertainment centre: Butlin’s is to open a brand-new indoor activity centre, Playxperience, at its Bognor Regis resort. The new £15m space will feature a variety of “cutting-edge experiences”. Set over two floors and covering nearly 50,000 square feet, each room will be filled with “adrenaline-pumping activities in the daytime and competitive, interactive bar games in the evening”. Opening in autumn 2024, Playxperience will feature a variety of state-of-the-art including escape rooms, ‘Digi Darts’,‘TechPutt’, laser tag, an AI technology-powered batting cage, shuffleboard, ‘Glow Pong’, and a games arena. Jon Hendry Pickup, chief executive at Butlin’s said: “This fantastic indoor space will be perfect for both our family guests and friends who join us on adult only Big Weekenders throughout the year. Playxperience will allow our guests to take their already jam-packed holidays to the next level, both day and night, whatever the weather. We’re working with some of the very best in the industry to bring an incredible activity centre to Butlin’s.”
South west Papa John’s franchisee expands portfolio to six with Exeter site: Papa John’s franchisee Dr Renato Raho has expanded his portfolio to six sites after taking on one of the company’s venues in Exeter. The store, in St Thomas Street, has reopened with the brand’s fresh design, which includes a show kitchen window so customers can see their pizza being made. Raho also operates stores in Newquay, Barnstaple, Newton Abbot, Torbay and Exmouth. Amit Pancholi, UK director of business development at Papa John’s, said: “Pizza is all about sharing, so we wanted to share the experience of how our fresh pizzas are made with our customers too.”
Boxpark gets go-ahead for BoxHall site in London’s Liverpool Street: Boxpark has been given the go-ahead to open a site under its BoxHall concept in London’s Liverpool Street. Following approval of its licensing by the City of London Corporation earlier this year, the BoxHall City proposals have been granted planning permission, with the venue set to open in summer 2024. Boxpark has agreed a lease with Transport for London, the site’s freehold owners, for the Metropolitan Arcade building. The property is set to be transformed into an all-day dining destination, offering food and drink from independent food traders and restaurant operators. The approved proposals include 16 kitchen units, two internal bars, and a roof terrace. The 17,000 square-foot building will have a ground floor, with 280 internal seating covers, and the garden roof terrace will boast an additional 170 covers. Simon Champion, chief executive of Boxpark, said: “Our team has worked extremely hard to secure this incredible central location in the City, and we are excited about creating an all-day social dining destination.” BoxHall is the group’s new high-end street food concept, with all sites to be developed in existing buildings. The Liverpool Street venue is part of Boxpark’s expansion plans following its recent announcement of the debut BoxHall concept in Bristol. BoxHall City will be the first of its kind in London, with further sites to be announced later this year.
C&C Group takes on first batch of employees in new partnership to help those facing barriers into employment: C&C Group has taken on its first batch of employees in a new partnership to help those facing barriers into employment. It has welcomed six new colleagues as part of an employment pathway with Big Issue Recruit, a specialist recruitment service from the Big Issue Group. The three-year partnership will see C&C provide at least 45 job opportunities for people to transition into supported employment by 2025. Doug Haggart, C&C’s HR lead for customer service and logistics, said: “It’s been exciting to be involved with Big Issue Recruit and identify how to bring its candidates into C&C. The colleagues who’ve joined us all interviewed strongly, had really researched us and have settled in well.” One of the six new recruits at C&C is Mokhammed Moradi, who fled Ukraine with his young family following the Russian invasion and now works as a warehouse operative in a London depot. Shak Dean, Big Issue Recruit’s job coach, added: “I’ve been buzzing since Mokhammed got the job. You’re living your life, and something happens to turn it upside down.”
MrBeast puts future of MrBeast Burger virtual brand in doubt: YouTube star MrBeast tweeted that he is “moving on” from MrBeast Burger, the delivery-only restaurant brand he helped create in partnership with Virtual Dining Concepts, after saying quality-control problems with the virtual band are hurting his image. Restaurant Business reported that in the now-deleted tweet, MrBeast, aka Jimmy Donaldson, wrote it had become impossible to guarantee the quality of the brand across the 2,000 different restaurants that are selling it. He also said he wanted to focus more on his snack brand, Feastables. The tweet casts uncertainty on the future of MrBeast Burger, one of the most popular concepts to emerge from the virtual brand wave of 2020 and 2021. In a second tweet that was also deleted, Donaldson wrote he wanted to shut down MrBeast Burger, “but the company I partnered with won’t let me stop, even though it’s terrible for my brand”. MrBeast Burger launched in late 2020 and quickly went viral thanks to MrBeast’s tens of millions of online followers. It opened in 300 locations in its first week and vaulted to the top of the mobile app charts for Apple and Google. It’s now in about 2,000 locations globally and has one physical location at the American Dream Mall in New Jersey. Last April, Propel revealed it had expanded to more than 30 sites across the UK after linking up with KSL Capital Partners-owned Village Hotels. Locations the brand is available from include Aberdeen, Blackpool, Bournemouth, Edinburgh, Maidstone, Swindon and Walsall.
Cinema operator The Light opens 13th site as it eyes UK expansion: Cinema operator The Light has opened its 13th site, a 45,000 square-foot cinema and multi-leisure venue in Redhill, Surrey, as it looks to expand across the UK. It has opened as part of a multimillion-pound mixed-use regeneration of the town centre with Reigate & Banstead Borough Council. The venue features a six-screen premium cinema and more than 11 leisure activities including bowling, mini golf, a climbing arena, interactive darts and shuffleboard. For the first time, The Light is also introducing axe throwing, curling and duckpin bowling to its offering. James Morris, The Light’s chief executive, said: “We are excited to be opening our latest venue, which builds on the successful concept that we introduced last year in Banbury, offering a multi-destination leisure and hospitality experience. Our opening in Redhill is an important step in the business’ strategic growth, as we look to expand our footprint of sites across the UK and the number of leisure activities we have for our guests.”
Catering company Bovingdons unveils new brand identity: Catering company Bovingdons has marked the latest chapter in its 35-year history by unveiling a new brand identity. The catering and venue management company is updating its look and feel following its acquisition by Oak View Group in October last year. Bovingdons operates in venues across London including 87 Barts Close in the City, Fulham Palace, and St John’s Waterloo. Managing director Jay Burgesson-Carter said: “The new branding of Bovingdons encapsulates the company’s heritage and commitment to sustainability. The prominent green colour evokes a sense of tradition, paying homage to the company’s longstanding history and deep-rooted values. It also signifies Bovingdons’ dedication to environmental responsibility and its mission to promote sustainable practices within the catering industry. The modern font choice reflects the company's forward-thinking approach and adaptability to changing times, while simultaneously maintaining a personal touch. Just as Bovingdons prides itself on delivering personalised experiences, the new typography conveys a sense of warmth and individuality, ensuring that every interaction with Bovingdons feels personal and memorable. With Oak View Group’s support and expertise, we can now combine international expertise, insight and support with the boutique and personal care that we have always provided – hopefully the new identity reflects this.”
Freehold interest of retail and leisure scheme in the Wirral goes on market for £2.5m: The freehold interest of a retail and leisure scheme in the Wirral is being marketed, with a guide price of £2.5m. CBRE’s operational real estate team in Manchester and LBL Real Estate have been jointly instructed to sell the freehold interest of The Curve, in Heswall town centre. The two-storey, 15,366 square-foot scheme, fronting Telegraph Road and The Mount, has seen significant redevelopment and modernisation since the building’s origins as a supermarket in the 1950s. The building comprises seven retail, leisure and bar restaurant tenants anchored by WHSmith, café-bar brand Loungers and Snap Fitness. The first floor houses two offices and a gym with adjoining 14-space car park. The immediate vicinity forms the town’s retail and bar restaurant area, which is home to a number of national and regional occupiers including Italian restaurant brand Gusto and JD Wetherspoon.
Northamptonshire hospitality group plans to transform former golf course and hotel into major leisure destination: Northamptonshire hospitality group Fifty Five Hospitality is planning to transform a former golf course and hotel into a major leisure destination. It wants to redevelop the Farthingstone Hotel & Golf Course in Towcester into a resort with 60 holiday huts and a family suite. Also proposed is a three-building hub, linked by a central courtyard, which would feature a restaurant, workshop, café and bakery. The 92.9-acre site currently has a 16-bedroom hotel, bar, restaurant, 18-hole golf course and three-bedroom bungalow – which will all be demolished under the plans. Fifty Five Hospitality acquired the site in May 2022. “The hotel and golf course has long been established as a leisure destination but has experienced a period of decline and is no longer fit for purpose, failing to make best use of the site,” a statement from the applicant said. “As such, the application presents an exciting and significant opportunity to put Northamptonshire on the map as a visitor destination.”
Soho restaurant 10 Greek Street partners with The Shed: 10 Greek Street, the independent, neighbourhood restaurant and wine bar in London’s Soho, has partnered with live music concept The Shed for a pop-up menu centred around seasonal Mediterranean small plates. It will include burrata served with toast, lemon zest and olive oil; chorizo, chickpeas, guindillas and aioli; and polenta with slow roasted red pepper, ricotta, sun blushed tomatoes and basil. The new dishes can be enjoyed alongside The Shed’s live jazz, be-bop, hard-swing and hard-bop performances. The Shed is one of three music venues operated by the team at Soho Live Studios since 2012, with a fourth, The Carnaby, opening later this year. 10 Greek Street, meanwhile, was founded in the same year by Luke Wilson and chef Cameron Emirali, with the two having met at The Wapping Project. Alongside business partner Nick Trower, they also own Braybrooke Beer Co. Non-members and their guests must book in advance and are charged a music cover fee, while Soho Live Music Club members have their cover fees waived, and that of up to three guests.
London taco restaurant set to reopen at new home: London taco restaurant Sonora Taqueria will tomorrow (Thursday, 22 June) reopen in its new home. Michelle Salazar de la Rocha and Sam Napier closed the doors to the restaurant, which they had operated since 2020 at Netil Market, in London Fields, in July 2022 as they sought a larger and more permanent site. Having operated new concept Mexa at JKS Restaurants’ Arcade Food Hall in the meantime, they are now preparing to relaunch Sonora Taqueria at 208 Stoke Newington High Street. The site, which will be open for breakfast and lunch offering a range of burritos and tacos, used to be Indian takeaway Massala, reports Hot Dinners.
New Cupp franchisees eyeing further sites as they prepare to open brand’s first Kent location: New Cupp franchisees Jenny and Younnis Abbad-Andaloussi are eyeing further sites as they prepare to open the bubble tea brand’s first Kent location. The husband and wife team will open their first Cupp site next month in the former The Hardware Centre site at 36-42 London Road, Sevenoaks, three years after moving to the town from London. “We are the franchise owners for the whole of Kent, so the goal will be in the next couple of months or years to have more stores in the area,” Abbad-Andaloussi told Kent Live. “Thankfully we work really well together – I’m the one to go and do things and Jenny is very much the brains behind it all. We both come from an IT background and never have done anything involving bricks and mortar. It’s great to be doing something that you can physically see instead of sitting behind a computer. We are learning a lot and expanding our skills. It’s a great product and I believe the people in the community will love it.” Cupp, founded by Lee Peacock in Bristol in 2012, recently opened its 30th UK site, in Nottingham, and this Friday (23 June) will open in Aberdeen for its fourth Scottish location. The company has previously said it is aiming to have 50 sites here by Christmas and has several international master agreements in place.
KFC and Energie Fitness set to open in Lichfield development: KFC and gym franchise Energie Fitness are both set to open new sites in the Three Spires development in Lichfield, Staffordshire. KFC has signed a 20-year lease for a 2,500 square-foot unit at 4 Gresley Row, while national gym chain Energie Fitness has agreed a 15-year lease for 6a Gresley Row, for a first-floor gym with ground floor entrance totalling 6,652 square feet. The new signings come as landlords M Core progresses its plans to bring the city’s first multiscreen cinema in decades as part of a joint venture with Lichfield District Council. As well as the cinema, M Core has redesigned the wider proposal to include more leisure space and is in detailed discussions with several operators to bring their brands to the city for the first time, reports The Business Desk.
Chef who once cooked for US president set to open second Middlesbrough venue: A chef who once cooked for a US president during their visit to Britain is set to open his second Middlesbrough venue. Tarek Thoma, the owner of the Oven restaurant in Linthorpe Road, was working at the Dun Cow in Sedgefield when George Bush and then prime minister Tony Blair dropped in for a bite to eat in 2003. Thoma, who has also worked at Michelin-starred restaurants including the L’Escargot in London and Chapter One in Kent, opened his first Oven two years later, in Darlington. In 2015, he relocated the restaurant to Middlesbrough in a £500,000 investment, saying at the time that he intended to roll out further Ovens across the country. Thoma is now investing £2m in transforming a former coffee shop in Captain Cook Square into a high-end food market and cocktail bar. He has secured planning permission for a change of use, with the proposal forming part of a major overhaul of the square, which was purchased by the council in June 2020. The ground floor will operate from 6am, selling fresh pizza, pasta, rotisserie and bakery, while a high-end cocktail bar on the first floor will operate in the evenings, reports Insider Media.
Birmingham gourmet fried chicken shop opens dive bar: Birmingham gourmet fried chicken shop Bonehead has opened a dive bar in the city. Deadbeat offers six beers on tap, six rotating wines and six house cocktails, as well as a summer series of “chef-led pop-ups” at its site in Stirchley. Bonehead was launched in Lower Severn Street, in the city centre, in 2018 by the Rezmar Group, led by Shamrez Marawat. It offers gourmet fried chicken, burgers, loaded waffle fries and craft beer, with 32 covers.