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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Thu 22nd Jun 2023 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Indian street food concept opens sixth site and eyes eight new stores a year as it ramps up franchising drive: Indian street food concept Tikka Nation has opened its sixth site and is eyeing eight new stores a year as it ramps up its franchising drive, Propel has learned. Founders Sumit Jain and Vikas Narula opened their first Tikka Nation in Dorking, Surrey, in July 2020. This has been followed by sites in Uxbridge in west London, Watford, Sutton Coldfield and St Albans, with site number six opening earlier this week at 17 Warwick Road in Manchester. To help with its growth plans, Tikka Nation has brought on board Paolo Peretti, former managing director at Patisserie Valerie, who helped restructure the cafe chain following its administration. Peretti now works as a self-employed franchise consultant and has helped fellow Indian street food brand Karak Chaii grow to circa 20 sites. “My old friends at Tikka Nation are now franchising their concept,” Peretti said. “They are doing something really interesting in terms of their menu, which I think gives them a real edge in the market. It’s a fantastic concept with great tasting food (produced by the same team which produces Karak Chaii’s amazing food), which deserves to be successful. It currently has two franchised and four company-owned stores. The plan it to open at least one franchise store this year and then look to open eight stores per year. Vikas and Sumit have a deep passion for Indian cuisine, particularly Indian street food. Tikka Nation offers a unique twist or concept within the Indian street food market – whether through innovative fusion flavours, modern presentation or focus on specific regional specialties – sharing their family recipes and recreating childhood flavours.” In an interview with Birmingham Live when the Sutton Coldfield site opened, Jain, who hails from Mumbai, said it is a fast-food venue but selling authentic Indian street food and speciality drinks from the country. He said he wanted to bring over a taste of his homeland and described it as the Starbucks of India. On starting the concept, he added: “I was a franchisee with another brand but that went into liquidation, so I needed to start something quickly. The best-selling item there was chicken tikka, so I decided to start Tikka Nation. Chicken tikka masala is a national dish here and everyone recognises tikka as being Indian food. I come from Mumbai and have always craved for this street food – every flavour tells a story!” Tikka Nation 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. The latest version was sent to Premium subscribers yesterday (Wednesday, 21 June) and featured 210 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

Industry News:

Sponsored message – HDI helps operators win locally with launch of Site Intel Pro: Hospitality Data Insights (HDI) has launched Site Intel Pro, a ground-breaking insight tool providing local market insight covering almost every individual pub, restaurant, coffee shop and fast-food outlet in the UK. The launch comes as the business reached the milestone of tracking four billion hospitality card transactions, dating to 2017. Mark Bentley, business development director at HDI, said: “We’re on a mission to help operators and brands make better data-led decisions. Launching Site Intel Pro is a significant milestone, providing unparalleled levels of granularity and accuracy, enabling you to understand what’s happening in a local market area, right down to an individual site level. You can see what’s happening within the four walls of a business including who its customers are and how it trades versus its local competition, helping you identify and act upon local strengths and weaknesses as well as being able to effectively measure the impact of site investments and new openings.” James Gilbert, head of insight, projects and strategy at Punch Pubs & Co, one of the development partners for Site Intel Pro, added: “The ability to look at individual sites, across bespoke time periods, and understand what’s changing across a tonne of different metrics is going to be so powerful in enabling us to set our individual pubs up for success.” To find out how HDI can help your business, email If you have a sponsored message you would like to see featured in this newsletter position, email
CGA’s Karl Chessell to speak at Propel summer conference and party, three free places per company for operators: Karl Chessell, director at CGA Nielsen, 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. Chessell will set out the current eating and drinking-out landscape, the key trends of the year and what will shape the next 12 months. Three free places per company for operators can be claimed. A room can also be booked for the evening. For more details, email
Number of franchise operators set to join updated Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies: A number of franchise operators are among the 16 new multi-site companies being added to the next edition of the Propel Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies, which will be released on Friday, 30 June, at midday. The updated Propel Multi-Site Database, which is produced in association with Virgate, features MCD Manchester, a McDonald’s franchisee operating 11 restaurants, which is led by managing director Roger Khoryati. Also added this month is West Midlands McDonald's franchisee A&S Restaurants, which is owned by Ronald McDonald House trustee Afia Sirkhot, and operates seven branches in the region. In addition, ten-strong McDonald’s franchisee K Foley, owned by Kevin Foley, who has been a McDonald’s franchisee since 1999, will be featured. Meanwhile, south London McDonald’s franchisee Manor Restaurants, which is owned by Terry Eagle, and operates four sites, is included. Premium subscribers will also receive a 1,300-word report on the new additions to the database. The comprehensive database is updated monthly and provides company names, the people in charge, how many sites each firm operates, its trading name and its registered name at Companies House if different. The database now features 2,869 companies. Premium subscribers will also receive the next edition of the New Openings Database on Friday, 7 July, at midday. It focuses on newly announced openings and upcoming launches in the sector and is updated every month. The next edition also includes a 2,000-word report on the new additions to the database. Premium subscribers also receive access to three other databases: the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book; the UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database; 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 to upgrade your subscription. Premium subscribers are also to be given exclusive access to the recording and slides to Propel Multi-Club Conferences. 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.
Stagnant inflation holding sector back from full potential, warn industry leaders: Stagnant inflation is holding the sector back from its full potential, sector leaders have warned. Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed inflation remained at 8.7% in May – the same rate as in April. Food inflation came down slightly to 18.3% from 19.1% last month, the ONS said. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls and Night Time Industries Association chief executive Michael Kill said it was clear the ongoing high costs of doing business being passed on in prices is a contributory factor and needs to be tackled with urgency. Nicholls added: “Measures to tackle sky-high energy costs, bring down the cost of food and drink and ease ongoing worker shortages would be effective measures to bring down the cost of doing business, and in turn help reduce inflation.” British Beer & Pub Association chief executive Emma McClarkin said: “Warmer weather has been driving sales for pubs and breweries, but the fact remains that without inflation falling, profits are wiped out and our sector has little to no opportunity for growth. These figures are worrying because while the public have been supporting British pubs and breweries, it’s clear that purse strings will be tightened once again in the coming months and UK businesses will be impacted by that. We need the government to face the reality that inflation is still incredibly high and the critical impact this has on both consumers and the businesses they choose to spend their money with.” Kate Vacovec, chief financial officer, Pizza Hut UK & Europe, added: “While figures show food inflation has dropped to 18.4% compared with 19.1% in April, this is not enough for hospitality businesses to continue operating in confidence. As the cost-of-living crisis continues to put pressure on household spending and with business costs still rising, we’re calling on the government to recognise how integral our industry is for the British economy. That’s why more additional relief on bills for hospitality businesses will be critical, so businesses like ours can better balance the multiple cost burdens we are facing.”
Landsec launches ‘transformation plan’ for retail destinations: Landlord Landsec has announced plans to invest significantly in its prime retail destinations to “further enhance their positive growth outlook”, including the addition of new food and beverage and leisure offerings. It said the new investment will be led by a £45m “transformation plan” for Gunwharf Quays, which will see the Portsmouth shopping outlet cement its position as the “UK’s leading lifestyle waterfront destination”. The targeted investment plan will also include investments in Trinity Leeds and St David’s in Cardiff. The business said the investment in Gunwharf Quays is expected to increase turnover at the site by more than a third over the next five years. At St David’s, Landsec is investing in an initiative that will “enhance guest experience and increase the time consumers spend at the destination”. It intends to remove 160,000 square foot of vacant retail, previously a former Debenhams store, as well as create a new city square and introduce 30,000 square foot of new food and beverage and leisure offerings. At Trinity Leeds, Landsec said it will invest in building on the success of Trinity Kitchen, repurposing under-utilised retail space and delivering a 70,000 square-foot multi-dimensional hospitality destination. Bruce Findlay, managing director, retail at Landsec, said: “We’re focusing our strategic investment on where we can drive growth and deliver attractive returns. Our prime, catchment-dominant retail destinations have recovered strongly since covid and, through targeted investment, we’re ensuring they will remain in demand in the future for consumers and brands alike. We’re confident that best-in-class retail property can deliver high single-digit to low double-digit total returns in the current macroeconomic environment.”
DRS operator goes into administration: The firm hired by the Scottish government to run the deposit return scheme (DRS) has appointed administrators. Lorna Slater, the minister for green skills, circular economy and biodiversity, told Holyrood that the collapse of Circularity Scotland was a “disaster” for its workers. The scheme has now been delayed until 2025, having twice previously had its launch date put back, and the firm said following the latest delay, it would be unable to meet significant contractual obligations without additional funding. Circularity Scotland ceased to trade immediately upon the appointment of joint administrators, Blair Nimmo and Alistair McAlinden, of Interpath Advisory, on Tuesday (20 June). Funding for the firm was provided by various trade associations, which have withdrawn their support. In a joint statement, the British Beer & Pub Association, British Soft Drinks Association and Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “Our members have collectively invested significant time and tens of millions of pounds in good faith to help establish a scheme administrator in Scotland to meet a deadline originally set by the Scottish government. Sadly, a high degree of political uncertainty has now disrupted plans and timings, putting the future of Circularity Scotland at risk. Given this ongoing political uncertainty, we don’t have the confidence required to provide further voluntary funding for the company. It is now a matter for the Circularity Scotland board to determine how it wishes to administer the company’s affairs.”
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a growing accommodation, bar and restaurant business that is strengthening its finance division and is seeking a group financial controller. The business has a circa £50m turnover and operates across the UK and Europe. A COREcruitment spokesperson said: “You will provide financial information to the group financial director for presentation to the board and external parties. The main responsibilities will be to be accountable for the internal control environment and integrity of the group’s financial records and assist with the medium and long-term financial strategy for the group in accordance with the business strategy.” The salary is up to £75,000 and the position is based in London. For more information, email
Licensing update: John Gaunt & Partners licensing solicitors has just published its latest licensing update. This month, there’s a call to action for operators around the Women’s World Cup and ensuring their licensed hours cover the matches – along with updates on the deposit return scheme in Scotland and a few updates on pavement licences. The full update can be accessed here.

Company News:

SSP reports UK and Ireland revenue strengthens to 94% of 2019 levels despite rail strike action: UK-based transport hub foodservice specialist SSP Group has reported revenue in the UK and Ireland for the first ten weeks of the second half of FY2023 strengthened to 94% of 2019 levels, “reflecting strong air sales, despite the impact of ongoing industrial action on the UK rail sector”. The company said group revenue was 110% of 2019 levels with improving underlying trading momentum following the first six weeks trading, as presented at its interim results, offset by the impact of foreign exchange rates, particularly in relation to the euro, and the impact of industrial action affecting UK rail. The strongest performing region remains North America, where revenues were at 123% of 2019 levels, “reflecting the growth of domestic air travel and the scale of net gains in the region”. In Continental Europe, revenue was at 114% of pre-covid levels, “driven by a strong performance across our air business and despite being held back by currency movements and industrial action”. In the rest of the world, revenue rose 115% on 2019 “as we saw further improvements in passenger numbers in Asia led by domestic air travel”. SSP said its acquisition of the units at six of the seven Midfield Concessions airports in the US is now complete, which is slightly earlier than originally anticipated. It said in the FY2023 financial year, the Midfield Concessions business “will now deliver a modest level of sales benefit, with the underlying operating profit benefit broadly offset by acquisition and integration costs”. The company stated: “Our expectation remains for revenue and Ebitda (underlying pre-IFRS 16) to be at the upper end of the range of circa £2.9bn-£3.0bn and circa £250m-£280m respectively for FY2023. We are also increasingly confident in the delivery of our planning assumptions for FY2024, namely revenue in the region of £3.2bn-£3.4bn, with a corresponding Ebitda (underlying pre-IFRS 16) in the region of £325-£375m.” Chief executive Patrick Coveney added: “The strongest regional revenue performance continues to be in North America, reflecting both the growth in domestic air travel as well as the scale of our net gains in the region. Our acquisition of the Midfield Concessions business adds to our excitement about the prospects for our North American business.”
YO! opens 300th in-store kiosk with Tesco, 35 more lined up: YO!, the Snowfox Group-owned brand, has opened its 300th in-store sushi kiosk with Tesco in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, with plans to add a further 35 sites this year. YO!’s first sushi kiosk opened in Tesco in October 2018 in Sunbury-on-Thames. Over recent weeks, additional Tesco kiosks have opened in Brislington, Taunton, Ludlow and Holyhead. The business said the continued expansion of in-store kiosks shows the “growing popularity and demand for sushi from UK consumers”. It said: “This landmark moment for Tesco and YO! points to the success of the partnership, which continues to grow rapidly, with the 100th kiosk announced just over a year ago. YO! and Tesco plan to expand their partnership across the country, with a further 35 expected to open this year. Since the beginning of the partnership, more than 1,000 people have been employed to serve customers at the YO! kiosks throughout the country.” Each of YO!'s 300 kiosks offer more than 50 food products which include hand-rolled sushi, street food and ready meals of dishes such as chicken katsu curry. Christian Haas, YO!’s managing director UK & Ireland, which also operates 65 restaurants, said: “The opening of our 300th kiosk is a milestone moment for YO! The ongoing popularity of our products highlights the growing love of sushi across the nation. We are seeing customers consistently return to our kiosks, which reflects the quality, affordability, and freshness of our ranges.” The business also operates circa 125 kiosks under its Panku brand within Asda stores. Last year, it began a franchise trial in the UK with a Panku kiosk in an Asda in Peterborough. Propel understands Snowfox is currently exploring the opportunity to launch its new Snowfruit franchise in the UK. It has so far rolled out the Snowfruit franchise to more than 450 stores across 12 states in the US. Last week, Snowfox Group, which also owns the Bento and Taiko brands, was acquired by Japanese foodservice company Zensho Holdings in a deal valued at $621m (£494.5m).
Thwaites in ‘strong position to rebuild profits’ after delivering ‘strong set of results’, business now ‘more orientated towards summer months’: North west brewer and retailer Daniel Thwaites has said it is in a “strong position to rebuild its profits” after delivering a “strong set of results” for the year ending 31 March 2023. Group turnover increased by 13.3% to £108.8m (2022: £96.0m) while pre-tax profits rose to £15.1m (2022: £12.7m), but Ebitda fell to £19.1m (2022: £20.1m). The company said that on a like for like basis, once the withdrawal of £1.7m of government support in the previous year is taken into account, it has “held the line and placed itself in a strong position to rebuild profits over the next few years”. It added: “We are seeing significant falls in utility prices, back towards their historic norms, and there is hope that this will now feed through in terms of lower price inflation or price decreases. It seems that much of the fear over the cost-of-living crisis should recede in the coming months, and as it does, we would expect consumer confidence to increase and our customers to spend more freely. The company is in a good position to take advantage of this, and its well invested property portfolio and premium positioning gives it the scope to be able to grow its margins and profits. We are now focused on regaining the growth and momentum we had prior to the pandemic and growing our business and profits.” Net Debt rose to £66.7m (2022: £61.6m) due to investment in its properties, having pumped £15.6m in capital expenditure during the year. The company has total borrowing facilities of £82m, giving headroom of £15.3m. Chairman Richard Bailey said the company “delivered a strong set of results” against a backdrop of the Ukraine war and rising inflation. He added: “After a strong start in the first half of the year, the environment became significantly more difficult in the second half. Despite reasonably strong increases in top line sales, increased utility costs and rising prices across a broad spectrum of goods, together with a very poor Christmas, meant it was a struggle to convert sales to profit during the quieter months. In recent years, the business has become more orientated towards the summer months and more weather reliant, and last year that certainly played an important factor. The winter was overall mild, but late winter was characterised by a prolonged period of colder and wet weather, which did not kick start the traditional spring uplift in business until after Easter.” During the year, the group sold four bottom end pubs and two ancillary properties, with total proceeds of £3.1m (2022: £7.5m). It has recommended a final dividend of 2.4p (2022: 2.2p). Daniel Thwaites features in the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book. Its turnover of £108.8m is the 64th highest in the database, while its turnover of £15.1m is the 31st highest. 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.
Ego lines up two new sites, plans six next year: Ego, the James Horler-led, Mitchells & Butlers (M&B)-owned brand, will open two new sites by the end of the year, with a target of a further six over the course of 2024, Propel has learned. The next Ego opening will be a conversion of a Vintage Inns site – The Wyke Lion, near Bradford, which is due to open in August. It will follow this with a further Vintage Inns conversion – the Flying Fox in Woburn, near Milton Keynes, which is scheduled to open in October. Propel revealed in April that M&B had agreed to acquire the remaining 60% stake in Ego Restaurants. It entered a joint venture with Ego’s parent company, 3Sixty Restaurants, in August 2018. Horler told Propel that after a period of focusing on the group’s operations and completing the deal, the brand was now back on the expansion trail. He said: “Trading is not without its challenges but remains good, and we are looking forward to opening two new sites before the end of this year. We will then look to ramp that up again next year, with a target of adding six further sites.” Under the joint venture with Ego, the Mediterranean-themed business doubled in size from 13 to 26 sites. M&B said it foresaw scope for circa 20 to 30 conversions using the Ego format over the next three to five years. Speaking to Propel last month, M&B chief executive Phil Urban said he saw opportunity around Vintage Inns that could drive the expansion of Ego.
Heavenly Desserts and Itsu in menu collaboration: Dessert restaurant franchise Heavenly Desserts has teamed up with Itsu on a menu collaboration. Propel has learned Heavenly Desserts is launching Itsu’s sweet bao buns on menus across its circa 50-strong UK estate, which it said was its “biggest brand collaboration to date”. Yousif Islam, co-founder and managing director of Heavenly Desserts, said: “This is an exciting collaboration that will no doubt create value for both brands. Well done to our development team for pulling this one out of the hat and delivering on our promise of sector leading menu innovation. And if you thought this was a big collaboration, wait till you see what we have up our sleeves next.” Earlier this month, the dessert brand said it was planning further expansion in Scotland, with three new locations in the country lined up this year. Heavenly Desserts has further openings planned this summer in Leamington Spa, Hull and Tooting in south London, while openings in Milton Keynes, Manchester and Slough are also in the pipeline. Having made its international debut late last year, in Canada, Heavenly Desserts plans to launch in a second international market this year, in Pakistan, and is also working with franchise consultants FranGlobal to enter India.
Domino’s UK’s largest franchisee opens 250th store: SK Group, the largest franchisee for Domino’s Pizza UK & Ireland, has opened its 250th store, in Telford. The new store, in Birchfield Way, Lawley Square, has created 25 jobs. SK Group, which is led by Surinder Kandola, also backed the UK launch of Canadian cafe and bake shop Tim Hortons in 2016. “Domino’s said. “We would like to congratulate SK Group for this mega milestone and thank it for everything it has done for its teams, and for Domino’s Pizza Group, over the last 25 years. SK’s story, culminating in this opening, is a brilliant example of the great things we can achieve when we work closely and collaboratively with our franchise partners. We look forward to celebrating more milestone openings in the future.” Ricky Kandola, operations director of SK Group, told the Shropshire Star: “We are a family business that has grown from one store to 250 – we wouldn’t have been able to achieve this without the hard work, passion and incredible service from the entire team and, of course, our Domino’s family. Domino’s has changed our lives and the lives of so many people – the relationship is extremely important to us as we all need to work together as we are going to be part of this brand for years to come. We are excited for the future – I’ll dress up as a Spartan when we reach 300! We’ve never set ourselves a store target, but we recognise this is an important milestone that we are extremely proud to have reached. Telford has held a special place in our hearts since we acquired the Oakengates store in 2007. Not only do we celebrate our annual SK Awards here, but also many precious personal events in this wonderful town. We now have four stores here, with another store on the way.” SK Group’s journey to its landmark opening was completed with a flurry of launches in recent weeks. These included sites in Attleborough and Watton, both in Norfolk, Currie in Edinburgh, Bannockburn in Stirling and Desborough in Northamptonshire.
Nando’s launches school leaver apprenticeship programme: Nando’s has launched its school leaver programme, offering level 2 apprenticeships at more than 200 of its restaurants across England. The business said the launch of the programme is part of its ongoing commitment to invest in promoting and providing careers in the sector. The programme, eligible to school leavers and young people over the age of 16, will offer a hospitality team member apprenticeship in all regions across England. The 15-month syllabus, provided in partnership with Lifetime Training, will cover customer service, team leadership and personal development, while providing opportunities to learn alongside team members in-restaurant. Claire Smith, head of people at Nando’s, said: “The launch of the school leaver apprenticeship programme enables us to further invest in providing clear career paths within our industry, with our ambition to develop 70% of our managers from within the Nando’s business. We are proud that all our apprenticeships receive the same salary as our full-time team members alongside our extensive package of benefits such as free meals every shift, up to 40% discount including five guests, and a paid sabbatical after five years of service. A career in hospitality offers the opportunity to work in a fast-paced, engaging and varied environment, and at Nando’s we prioritise investing in our people to build their futures together.”
Caribbean food concept rebrands and begins investor talks to support growth plans, including opening of first bricks-and-mortar site: Caribbean food concept Juici Jerk has begun talks to find investment and is aiming to open its first bricks-and-mortar site by 2024, and unveiled a rebrand as it expects to accelerate growth in the next two years. At the heart of the rebranding is a change of the company name to Sweet Dee’s Jerk – a dedication to the founders’ late father Derek Johnson. The concept offers a new age British-Caribbean taste. The rebrand strategy includes a new name and logo design, an extended menu to highlight signature dishes and drink suppliers with its slushie concept, a refocus on its catering and corporate events, and a refinement of its mission, values and vision. Earlier this year, Sweet Dee’s Jerk received a grant as part of The Uber Black Business Fund, recognised as an emerging black-owned food business. During the pandemic, it rolled out the UK’s first Caribbean cook-at-home meal kit service. Sweet Dee’s Jerk co-founder and director Troy Johnson said: “We founded the business six years ago, and since then we’ve achieved more than we expected. We are beginning talks to find an investor. At the moment, we are still fully self-funded, but we’ve realised that we’ve hit a ceiling now, and in order to really grow where we want to on a national scale, we need a capital injection and some infrastructure from someone who has that experience.”
Waterloo opening marks 70th site for Black Sheep Coffee: Speciality coffee shop operator Black Sheep Coffee has opened its newest location, its 70th, in The Sidings, the new destination space within the former Eurostar terminal at London’s Waterloo station. The opening of the new 1,660 square-foot location coincides with Black Sheep Coffee introducing a new range of drinks for the summer, including a mango and dragonfruit smoothie, and a series of bubble tea drinks. Peter Hawthorne, chief executive of The Sidings’ landlord, LCR, said: “Black Sheep Coffee is fast developing a reputation for its quality and ability to offer something new. The Sidings, then, represents a natural next location as it continues to deliver its innovative take on coffee, food and cocktails.” Black Sheep Coffee has more than ten sites confirmed for its openings pipeline in the UK, including sites in London, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Manchester, Warrington, Cardiff and Colchester. It is also set to open a site at Luton airport.
Vegan Shack hits £180,000 fundraising target to help develop delivery kitchens and ‘test new cities’: Vegan Shack, the sister brand of wing-based concept Wing Shack, has hit its £180,000 target on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to help it develop delivery kitchens and “test new cities”. Vegan Shack currently has two stores – in Manchester and London – with £104,000 revenue in the year to date (February to April 2023) and positive Ebitda of £21,000. This compares with £272,000 revenue in FY22, up 23% on FY21, and Ebitda of £25,500. It is offering investors on Crowdcube 11.39% equity, giving it a pre-money valuation of £1.4m. So far, circa 130 investors have invested £182,000 with six days of the campaign remaining. Vegan Shack said: “From humble beginnings as a side hustle – and all while fully bootstrapped – we’ve opened stores in Manchester and London and have sales via UberEats, Deliveroo, in-store and through our own site, and amassed almost 20,000 Instagram followers. We also have an 82% repeat order rate for delivery and collection and rave reviews from our customers. We’re now set to build on our success and shake up the fast-food industry with delivery kitchens and testing new cities.”
Ramside Estates reports ‘healthy financial performance’ as turnover exceeds pre-pandemic levels: North east bar and hotel group Ramside Estates has reported a “healthy financial performance” and “significant increase in revenues and profits” in the year ending 30 November 2022. Turnover increased from £23,312,244 in 2021 to £35,906,916. This compares with £28,211,595 in the last full year before the pandemic, ending 30 November 2019. Pre-tax profit grew from £3,519,678 in 2021 to £4,424,492 (2019: £2,513,349). No government grants were received (2021: £1,711,583). Director John Adamson, in his statement accompanying the accounts, said they “indicate a healthy financial performance, with a significant increase in revenue and profit compared with the previous year”. He added: “The growth in revenue can be attributed to increased hotel room income, increased spa revenue and increased food and drink income due to a greater footfall following covid, and more events taking place due to the lifting of restrictions. The company also supported some large music festivals during the year such as The Kubix Festival, Stone Valey and Loosefest.” Capital investments included £2.2m on several treehouses, and it plans to invest further in treehouses and lodges. The business has also built up a large cash balance of more than £12m, “which it will need in the challenging months ahead”. Adamson said: “These challenges include large additional costs as a direct result of Inflationary pressures, many of which It will find difficult to pass on to customers.” Another substantial portion of the cash balance is earmarked for future development projects, including major expansions of Hardwick Hall in Sedgefield and Ramside Hall in Durham. Ramside’s portfolio also includes Bar Beyond and Colonel Porter’s Emporium in Newcastle, Bowburn Hall Hotel in Durham and Ramside Event Catering.
Aqua Restaurants Group set to open Mediterranean restaurant in London’s West End: Hong Kong-based Aqua Restaurant Group, the David Yeo-founded business that operates a portfolio of restaurants across the globe, is planning to open a new site in London’s West End, Propel has learned. Aqua Restaurant Group is planning to launch a restaurant called Luci in The Yard’s development, in Covent Garden. The all-day venue is set to be spread across two floors, and hold 200 covers set across a first-floor restaurant and a ground-floor grab and go counter. The company said the new opening will see its “brand of modern Mediterranean food and hospitality find a new and more casual home” in the two-storey site. It will be the sixth opening in London for Aqua Restaurant Group. At the end of last year, it opened sushi spot Shiro at 100 Liverpool Street. It also operates Aqua Shard, Hutong, Aqua Kyoto and Aqua Nueva in the capital. Chief executive Yeo said: “Luci was born from a love of Italian food, and we want to bring that passion to The Yards, Covent Garden. No matter what time of the day, we want our customers to be able to enjoy delicious, top-quality food and drinks. That is where Luci will fill a gap for Covent Garden.” Abi Labbett, asset manager at CBRE, on behalf of Longmartin Properties, added : “Over the last year, we have welcomed several new restaurants to The Yards, curating a destination which delivers authenticity, vibrance, and choice. The arrival of Luci will elevate this even further, providing consumers with a bespoke Italian experience that can be enjoyed day or night, reinforcing The Yards’ position as a go-to destination in the West End.”
South London brunch spot set to open second site after 17 years: South London brunch spot The Table is set to open its second site after 17 years. Paul Appleton opened the original The Table at 83 Southwark Street in 2006, and its new site will open at 35-37 Battersea Rise at the end of July, featuring an outdoor terrace. Having been “heavily impacted” by the pandemic, Appleton brought in a new director, Venus Loudon, who now co-owns the restaurant alongside him. Loudon was general manager at the Southwark site from 2015 to 2017 and went on to hold the same role at fellow London venues, the Dominique Ansel Bakery and Cake & Bubbles at Hotel Royal Cafe. Having “worked tirelessly over the last few years to rebuild their existing site”, they are now “immensely proud to be opening their second”, serving brunch options made with high-quality locally sourced ingredients. The menu will include smoked ham hock and chorizo hash served with wilted spinach, a fried egg and Southwark hot sauce; and Brunch Club, which sees bacon, sausages and scrambled eggs with chives drizzled with maple syrup and served on either pancakes or gluten-free waffles. The new location will also be open in the evenings, when it will offer a selection of small plates and cocktails. Loudon said: “This launch is an exciting new chapter for The Table, and we can’t wait to share our fantastic food and service with a new community. After 17 years of serving our loyal customers, we felt it was time to spread our wings and offer our brunch experience to a wider audience.”
Inamo to launch new fully touch sensitive tables by end of month: London futuristic restaurant brand Inamo will launch its new fully touch sensitive tables by the end of the month. The brand announced last year that it would replace the world’s first interactive restaurant tables using overhead projection technology, which it introduced 15 years ago, with “new era of touch-sensitive table surfaces”. They started being installed this week, with the refurbishment due to be completed by Thursday, 28 June. The new tables will allow guests to order their meal before using the same touch-screen technology to play air hockey, pool, space invaders, archery and more than 20 more other games – including kids’ games and puzzles – as well as draw on the tables. Last year, Inamo renewed the lease on its Soho site and reported record turnover of £5,730,032 for the year ending 30 June 2022, representing 61% growth on the last full year of trading before the pandemic. It also operates fusion street food sub-brand Inamo Sukoshi at Market Halls Oxford Street and Canary Wharf.
BrewDog certificated as top employer: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has been certificated as a top employer in the UK for 2023. The certification by the Top Employers Institute recognises excellence in people practices. It also includes talent acquisition, learning, well-being and diversity and inclusion. The certification follows a significant period of investment in workplace well-being, HR and people by BrewDog. Co-founder and chief executive James Watt said: “Being certified as a UK top employer really says so much about how far we have come as a business. Every company faces challenges along the way, and we were determined to use ours as a catalyst to work even closer with our teams and improve everything we do as a business. This isn’t a journey that reaches an ‘end point’. We are always looking to get better, looking to recruit and retain the best talent around and help our people build fantastic careers with us. But I am also really pleased to see our efforts are now being recognised.” The certification follows BrewDog recently being named in The Sunday Times Best Places to Work 2023 list.
Sushi Daily launches on Just Eat: International sushi franchise Sushi Daily is launching on its second food delivery platform Just Eat, following its partnership with Deliveroo. Sushi Daily’s menu on Just Eat will comprise more than 60 items, from nigiri (£5.30) to Sushi Daily’s specialty crunch rolls (£7.00) – sushi with crispy fried onions on top. Ian Roberts, managing director of KellyDeli, the brand’s parent company, said: “It means that we can deliver high-quality sushi to even more people across the UK and quickly too, as we pride ourselves on providing fresh sushi and want our customers to have the best experience. Our goal has always been for convenience and quality sushi to go hand in hand together.” Sushi Daily has more than 1,000 kiosks and partners with 40 different retailers across the UK, Europe, Mexico and the UAE.

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