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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Tue 4th Jul 2023 - Update: Company behind Le Pain Quotidien UK placed into administration
Company behind Le Pain Quotidien UK placed into administration: The business behind the UK arm of Le Pain Quotidien, the Belgian restaurant and boulangerie brand, has been placed into administration, with the closure of nine of its sites and the loss of 250 jobs. Propel revealed in May that BrunchCo UK had appointed Kroll Advisory to aid it consider its options, including a sale of the business. It is thought interested parties had been given until the close of business on 25 May to submit interest in the business. However, no viable offers were received, and it ceased trading on 29 June. Sarah Rayment and Phil Dakin, of Kroll were appointed joint administrators of BrunchCo UK on 30 June. Eight of the brand’s London cafes and its site in Oxford’s Westgate centre have all subsequently closed. Its site in London’s St Pancras International station continues to trade as it is run by a separate company – SPQ Holdings. Kroll said the business had struggled with a drop in sales due to reduced footfall in London, as well as rising rents and wage costs. BrunchCo, a then newly established vehicle, acquired 16 (15 in London and one in Oxford) of Le Pain Quotidien’s 26 UK sites through a pre-pack administration in June 2020. The company has since exited several unprofitable restaurants. It is understood to have generated turnover of circa £21m in FY22 with a gross profit of circa £14.4m. BrunchCo did not own the intellectual property rights to the brand name and trademarks. Any party wanting to take the business forward would need to enter into a franchise agreement with the company’s parent. Rayment said: “Pressures on parts of the hospitality and casual dining sector have been well highlighted. BrunchCo UK, which is predominantly located in London, has suffered from reduced revenues as a result of decreased footfall in the capital, high rents and increased wage costs. As part of the next steps of the insolvency, we will be looking to realise value from the company’s leasehold interests and other assets.” Le Pain Quotidien operates about 220 sites globally across its franchise and company-owned models. The brand operates in 15 countries around the world and already operates a mixture of company-owned and franchise estates in the likes of Belgium and France, while it has master franchisees in the US and Brazil. Earlier this year, the brand told Propel it was planning to launch a franchising model in the UK, as it looked to expand across the country. It had begun working with franchising broker Platinum Wave as it looks to build relationships with existing and prospective single site and multi-unit franchisees.

Three days to go before next edition of The New Openings Database release, to show details of more than 50 new sites, 3,000-word report included: The next edition of The New Openings Database will show the details of more than 50 newly announced site openings and upcoming launches for Premium subscribers when it is published on Friday (7 July), at midday, including which company has opened a site or its plans to open one in the future. It will have details on what type of site it is and its location, and there will also be a website link to the businesses. The database is published on a monthly basis, and the next edition features growing restaurant and bakery brands, niche cuisine, and expanding experiential concepts. Premium subscribers will also receive a 3,000-word report on the new additions to the database. Premium subscribers also receive access to four other databases: the Propel Multi-Site Database, produced in association with Virgate; 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 jo.charity@propelinfo.com 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.

Masala Zone co-owner – City has lost its appetite for daytime dining: The number of people eating out at lunchtime, particularly in the City, has not recovered from the pandemic, but dinner has become more popular, according to a leading London restaurateur. Ranjit Mathrani, chairman and co-owner of MW Eat, which is behind nine Indian restaurants including the Masala Zone chain, told The Times: “Lunch covers [or the number of guests] as a whole are 70% and dinner covers are 10% up. Since, in our case, lunch covers are 30 %of total covers, the combined effect is for total covers to be about 11% less than pre-pandemic.” He said this applied particularly to the City and Canary Wharf, but not to the suburbs or rural areas. Mathrani has opened a new Masala Zone in Piccadilly Circus. It adds to outlets in Covent Garden, Soho, Earl’s Court, Bayswater and Camden. “I’ve been looking at the area for 15 years,” he said. “The [business] rates were absurd, then Brexit hit. It would have been unaffordable pre-pandemic.” The new branch is staffed by students from India and Mathrani believes rising labour costs mean the future of informal dining lies in larger-format restaurants. Mathrani, who is also behind the upmarket Amaya, Chutney Mary and Veeraswamy restaurants, describes the company’s style as “Indian decadent themes combined with modern design”. “India is a great resource to plunder,” he said. A restaurant outside London could be on the cards, but “not yet”. Chutney Mary, MW Eat’s first restaurant, was opened in 1990. Amaya was awarded a Michelin star within 12 months of opening in 2005, while Veeraswamy is believed to be the UK’s oldest Indian restaurant.

Sky News – Cinepolis executive Acuna screened for top Cineworld job: An executive at a major Mexican cinema operator has been identified as a potential candidate to take over at Cineworld as it prepares to emerge from bankruptcy proceedings. Sky News reported that Eduardo Acuna, who runs Cinepolis’s operations in the Americas, has been sounded out about taking over the British-based business. It was unclear whether Acuna was formally in the frame to take the job or how quickly Cineworld’s new owners – its syndicate of lenders ­– were seeking to make an appointment. News of Acuna’s potential candidacy comes days after Cineworld confirmed a Sky News report that it was filing to place its London-listed holding company into administration. A new chief executive will replace Mooky Greidinger, who helped to found the business but is expected to step down in the wake of its rebirth under a new holding company. Under the plans agreed with lenders, more than $4.5bn (£3.5bn) of debt is being wiped out, with $800m of new equity injected into the business and a further $1.46bn (£1.2bn) of debt raised to support the company. It has also announced the appointment of Eric Foss, a former Pepsi executive, as its new chairman.

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