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Sun 2nd Jul 2023 - Heartwood Collection secures £100m funding to support ambitious growth plans
Heartwood Collection secures £100m funding to support ambitious growth plans, group trading positively: Heartwood Collection, formerly Brasserie Bar Co, has secured £100m of funding to support its ambitious growth plans. A new facility of £50m has been agreed with OakNorth Bank, with an additional £50m to be invested by new owners Alchemy Partners – on top of the £50m it has already committed. It comes after Propel last month revealed that the group, which currently operates 20 pubs and 14 Brasserie Blanc restaurants across the UK, is on track to grow to 61 sites and up to 500 bedrooms by 2027 following its rebrand. The group, which said it is trading positively, will use the funding to acquire freehold pubs and pubs-with-rooms. Heartwood has immediate access to the new funding as it continues to “seek out active opportunities to buy characterful pubs – where it can renovate and refurbish where required”. It said it comes on the back of strong recent trading and progress in acquiring new sites, with 11 freehold sites acquired over the past 12 months and a further five due to be completed this summer. Heartwood Collection managing director Richard Ferrier said: “This additional support from OakNorth and Alchemy is testament to the strength of the business that the team at Heartwood is building. It will enable us to build on our success to date as we focus on growing Heartwood Collection into the UK’s leading premium pubs and pubs-with-rooms business.” Heartwood Collection chairman Mark Derry said: “This new funding will be deployed for acquiring additional freehold sites and it will underpin our target of reaching over 60 sites and 500 rooms over the next four years. While ambitious, we are confident that our combination of highly skilled chefs, warm hospitality and character-filled pubs leaves us ideally placed within a market which is considerably underserved.” Ben Barbanel, head of debt finance at OakNorth Bank, said: “Heartwood Collection is one of our longest standing clients and Mark Derry and the team are a great example of the excellent entrepreneurs we have in the UK. The Heartwood Inns and Brasserie Blanc brands are some of the finest the UK hospitality sector has to offer. Despite ongoing economic challenges, the business is set for future growth, which is testament to Heartwood’s leadership and the brilliant team that’s been built.” Thomas Boszko, partner at Alchemy Partners, added: “I believe that Heartwood Inns are the best food pubs out there. The pubs provide an offer that guests love, and I’d like there to be a lot more of them, and I’d like them all to be freehold. OakNorth has been a superb partner to Alchemy many times before, and their support, combined with Alchemy’s continued equity investment, provides new funding which will help fuel our ambitious growth plans.” Brasserie Bar Co features in Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book. Its turnover of £57,493,0008 in the year to 26 June 2022 is the 123rd 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.

Pret MD – pandemic helped us become a national brand quicker: Managing director Clare Clough has told the Daily Mail that the pandemic helped Pret A Manger become a national brand quicker than it otherwise would have. It comes as the newspaper reports Pret experiencing “massive expansion” over the past year and opening in places “it would not previously have waved a cucumber at”. This, it argues, is a result of the brand facing “an existential crisis when the pandemic emptied the offices that were its bloodline”. With workers increasingly returning to the office alongside Pret’s expansion into new areas, Clough told the newspaper that in the last week of May, the chain hit an all-time weekly sales record. “I don’t think you can ever look back on the pandemic fondly, but I think we always had ambitions to be a truly national brand, and what we learned during covid means we’ll get there quicker,” she said. “I do think there has been this synergy between British habits and Pret over the years. We were a business built mainly where people came to work – we used to say we would follow the skyscrapers. But we’ve learnt in the past three years that it’s not the public’s job to come to Pret; it’s our job to come to them.” Data from Bloomberg’s Pret Index showed that both London suburbs and regional stores hit pre-pandemic levels in May and August 2021 respectively. Since then, as Pret has opened more stores in these places, trade has settled in at about 130% of pre-pandemic levels in the suburbs, and not much less in regional towns. Even the City of London stores that once sustained the whole business are almost back to pre-pandemic levels, currently hovering at around 90%. The data also shows that Mondays, which used to be the busiest weekday in its inner-city stores, are now relatively quiet as hybrid workers tend to start the week at home. There is also a steadier stream of sales as people take a more flexible approach to the traditional lunch hour, while customers are also more likely to eat-in at Pret’s newer, non-central stores, so the firm has sought out locations with more space for seating. Pret has also responded to inflation with a “made simple” range of basic sandwiches priced from £2.99. Jim Winship, head of the British Sandwich Association, said. “In a way, Pret is in a privileged position, because while the sandwich industry tends to lose people from the bottom end of the market in hard times, an equal number of people who were going out for lunch [at a restaurant] start buying sandwiches at the premium end.”

Interactive map reveals cheapest and most expensive JD Wetherspoon drinks in UK: A new interactive map from food advice website Pantry & Larder has revealed the cheapest and most expensive JD Wetherspoon drinks in the UK. The map analysed 16,000 prices across Wetherspoon branches and found a “surprising amount of discrepancy”, reports the Daily Mail, with a pint of Carling costing anything from £1.99 to £5.79. London was found to have some of the most expensive drinks, while Scotland offered some of the cheapest. In fact, Scotland offers the cheapest pints in Britain overall, with 330ml of Camden Hells costing just £1.75 at ten Wetherspoon pubs in the country. The most expensive Merlot, Coldwater Creek, costs an eye-watering £8.35 at the The Crown Rivers in Heathrow T5. Outside of airport lounges, the most expensive glass of 250ml Merlot is £5.25 in Westminster. In Cardiff’s The Mount Stuart, a single Gordons with a mixer costs £4.85, but in neighbouring Newport, at The John Wallace Linton, the same drink is £3.10. Pantry & Larder’s Veronica Fletcher said: “Drink prices vary massively across the UK, and it's not just as simple as London being more expensive than the rest of the UK. For example, a bottle of Prosecco at my local costs £16.39. Less than three miles away, the exact same drink is 39% cheaper. Interestingly, certain drinks such as Camden Hells lager are significantly cheaper in Scotland.”

Wingstop named 23rd fastest growing business in UK: Wingstop, which is being rolled out here by Lemon Pepper Holdings, has been named one of fastest growing business in the UK. It came 23rd in the Sunday Times Hundred 2023 – the newspaper’s guide to the fastest-growing private companies in Britain. Tom Grogan, co-founder at Lemon Pepper Holdings, said: “I am delighted to share that Wingstop UK has been honoured as the 23rd fastest growing business in the UK by Sunday Times 100, and the fastest growing restaurant group in the country! This recognition is a testament to the incredible journey we've embarked upon, and I couldn't be more humbled by this achievement. This remarkable milestone, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 134%, would not have been possible without the support and dedication of our extraordinary team from all areas of the company. Each member has played an integral role in shaping our success to date.” Propel revealed last month that Lemon Pepper Holdings had further strengthened its openings pipeline as its looks to reach 40 sites and a revenue of more than £60m by the end of this year. Wingstop recently open its 35th UK site, at Grey’s Brewery Yard in Chelmsford, and new restaurants will also be opening this year in Islington’s Upper Street and Birmingham’s New Street. It is understood to also be in discussions to bring restaurants to Southampton, Hounslow, Edinburgh and Glasgow this year. Meanwhile, third in the Sunday Times list was Bayford, which has a hospitality portfolio alongside interests in energy, properties and investments. Its venues include The Yorke Arms and Bowcliffe Hall in Yorkshire, and the Laudale Estate in Scotland.

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