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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Wed 12th Jul 2023 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Midlands burger franchise targets 50 UK locations by 2026 as it signs first overseas partnership, launches sister chicken concept: Midlands burger franchise Burger Boi has targeted 50 UK locations by 2026 and signed its first overseas partnership, as well as launching a sister concept, Bird Boi. Burger Boi has 11 sites and hopes to reach 15 by the end of the year, with openings planned in Manchester, Leeds, London, Birmingham. It will follow that with its overseas debut, in the Canadian city of Toronto, early next year, ahead of planned expansion to other foreign markets including the Middle East. “We would be looking to reach 50 locations in the next three years,” head of development Wayne Timbrell told Propel. “The first overseas site will be in Toronto and this is signed and will open by December/January. The overseas market for us is interesting and we have lots of interest from the Middle East looking for a premium concept – we are looking for the right franchisees. Burger Boi is a premium offering and I think it’s about consistency in what we do and our expertise in the burger market – we change the menu quarterly, so new ideas and items come on the menu and it’s always exciting. We also have a sister concept called Bird Boi, which is around premium grilled chicken, with one location so far, in the Mount Tavern pub, Wolverhampton. Both concepts are flexible and also work as a relaxed casual dining format.” Burger Boi was founded by Surge Bassi in 2020 and launched the following year in Wolverhampton. Burger Boi 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 earlier this month 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 jo.charity@propelinfo.com to upgrade your subscription.

Industry News:

Zero Carbon Forum founder Mark Chapman to speak at Propel summer conference and party, three free places per company for operators: Mark Chapman, founder of Zero Carbon Forum, 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. Chapman will talk to Olivia FitzGerald, chief sales and marketing officer at Zonal, about how sector companies are saving money as they drive to achieve net zero. Three free places per company for operators can be claimed. A room can also be booked for the evening. For more details, email jo.charity@propelinfo.com.
 
Next edition of Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book shows 745 largest sector companies turning over total of £48.1bn, up from £46.2bn last month: The next edition of the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which will be sent to Premium subscribers on Friday (14 July), shows 745 of the largest sector companies are turning over a total of £48.1bn – up from £46.42bn the previous month. A total of 504 companies are making a profit while 241 are making a loss. The profit being made by sector companies is now outstripping losses by £511m. The Blue Book shows the total profit of the 745 companies in the list is £3,272,517,901 and losses are £2,761,785,504. The Blue Book is updated each month and ranks companies by turnover, profit and profit conversion, listing directors’ earnings for the past five years. Premium subscribers are also to receive access to all the videos from last month’s Propel Multi-Club Conference featuring the sector’s finest female leaders and entrepreneurs. Premium subscribers will be sent 11 videos on Friday (14 July) at 9am, where female sector leaders share the lessons they have learned and moving forward. Premium subscribers also receive access to four other databases: the Propel Multi-Site Database, produced in association with Virgate; the New Openings Database; the Who’s Who of UK Food and Beverage; and the UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database. Companies can now have an unlimited number of people receive access to Propel Premium for a year for £995 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or a supplier. The single subscription rate is £495 plus VAT for operators and £595 plus VAT for suppliers. Email jo.charity@propelinfo.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.

Cumbria venue voted AA B&B of the Year: The Punch Bowl Inn & Restaurant in Crosthwaite, Cumbria, has been voted AA B&B of the Year in the award’s 27th year. Owner Richard Rose said: “I’ve been running the Punch Bowl for almost 20 years, and I’ve said on many occasions that it takes a special kind of person to really thrive in this line of work. I’m very lucky to have a whole team of special people who always go the extra mile to make sure our guests have an exceptional stay, so this award is for every single one of them.” AA Guest Accommodation of the Year awards went to Market Cross Guest House in Belford, Northumberland (England), The Crusoe in Leven, Fife (Scotland) and Parc-Le-Breos House in Parkmill, Swansea (Wales). AA Breakfast of the Year awards went to The Holcombe in Holcombe, Somerset (England), Craigadam at Castle Douglas in Dumfries & Galloway (Scotland) and The Old Vicarage in Corris, Gywnedd (Wales). An AA Friendliest B&B of the Year award also went to The Fylde International in Blackpool, Lancashire.

Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a contract catering company operating within the education sector that is seeking an operations manager. A COREcruitment spokesperson said: “This role requires strong leadership, experience in managing change and building new teams plus new openings/contract mobilisation. It is preferable you have area management experience in education, but financial accountability and understanding is a must. You will be well presented with an impeccable eye for detail, patient and observant.” The salary is up to £60,000 and the position is based in Northampton. For more information, email dan@corecruitment.com.
 

Company News:

Young’s acquires trio of Revere pubs from Marston’s: Young's has acquired three managed pubs from Marston's Revere Pub Company for an undisclosed sum, Propel has learned. The Simon Dodd-led Young’s has acquired the 260-cover, 4,227 square-foot Libertine in Bournemouth; the 73-cover, 11-room White Hart in Chippenham; and the 149-cover, 15-room White Lion in Tenterden. Young’s said these “three high-quality, freehold sites” are located in growth markets in the south of England, with “attractive characteristics including outside trading and bedrooms”. The acquisitions expand Young's estate in the south of England and are in line with its “proven strategy to continue to invest in its future growth”, through a combination of acquisitions and investment in its existing estate. Dodd told Propel: “Having acquired several pubs in the south of England in recent years, these freehold sites have great potential and fit with our strategy of operating and expanding our premium, well-invested predominantly freehold pub estate.” Last week, Young’s reported revenue in the first 13 weeks of its new financial year was up 8.3% in total and 6.8% on a like-for-like basis compared with last year. Chairman Stephen Goodyear said: “The key driver behind our performance is continued investment in improving and growing our premium estate, which remains central to our strategy. We are already seeing the benefit from the acquisitions we made last year, which included the Griffin Inn in Fletching, East Sussex. We will also benefit from the significant investments we made in our existing estate. More recently we have purchased the freehold interest in The Stag in Belsize Park.” The disposal of the three sites, leaves Marston’s Revere Pub Company estate at 13 sites, including the Curious Pig in the Parlour in Copthorne and The Florentine in Sheffield. Last month, Marston’s sold another of its Revere sites – the Pointing Dog in Cheadle – to Manchester brewer and retailer JW Lees. Sapient Corporate Finance is understood to have acted on behalf of Marston’s on the deal with Young’s. 

Benugo in an ‘incredibly strong position’ as it returns to profit: Benugo, the operator of deli cafes and catering in high-profile venues, has said it is in an “incredibly strong position” as it reported a return to profit as the business builds back from the covid pandemic. Turnover increased to £98,668,000 for the year ending 28 December 2022 compared with £40,982,000 the previous year. Revenue remained below the £121,125,000 reported for the year ending 27 December 2019 – the last full year before the pandemic. The business made a pre-tax profit of £3,740,000 compared with a loss of £1,438,000 the year before (2019: profit of £4,508,000). Cash and cash equivalents increased to £4.4m (2021: £2.2m) while net assets rose to £28.3m (2021: £25.1m). In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “By the latter stages of the year we had evolved into a more streamlined, focused, profitable company. We firmly believe that the hard work through both the pandemic and our rapid recovery over the course of 2022 puts us in an incredibly strong position for the year ahead. We are very proud of our teams' efforts throughout 2022. The directors are pleased with the results for 2022, the strong balance sheet and cash position ensures the company is robustly structured for the opportunities and risks that 2023 will bring.” The business did not receive any government grants (2021: £4.5m). No dividend was paid (2021: nil). The company reported a total of £20,232,000 in tax borne or collected by Benugo, compared with £5,217,000 the previous year.
 
Boparan Restaurant Group looks to expand Slim Chickens across Europe: Boparan Restaurant Group (BRG), the owner of the Giraffe, Carluccio’s and Gourmet Burger Kitchen brands, is looking to expand Slim Chickens, the US brand it operates in the UK, further across Europe, Propel has learned. It is looking to secure partners to open up new territories in France, Spain, the Netherlands and Germany. A BRG spokeswoman told Propel that the main focus for its expansion on the continent will be on Germany and the Netherlands for now. It comes after BRG last week opened its first international concessions site with the launch of a Slim Chickens at Istanbul airport in Turkey. BRG already operates sites under its Giraffe and Carluccio’s brands through its international concessions business. BRG last month opened its latest UK Slim Chickens site on the ex-Carluccio’s site in the at Trinity Leeds scheme. BRG operates circa 40 sites under the Slim Chickens brand in the UK, including under its The Restaurant Hubs format with Sainsbury’s. It plans to operate 350 restaurants in Britain under the US brand in the next few years.

Eckbert – I would like to see how far we can go with Five Guys in Europe, we loved that we weren’t seen as trendy: John Eckbert, chief executive of Five Guys UK, the Sir Charles Dunstone-backed joint venture, has told Propel he would love to see how far the brand can go in mainland Europe, where it currently operates circa 90 sites. Aside from the UK, where the brand operates circa 160 sites, Eckbert has also overseen Five Guy’s launch and growth in France, Germany and Spain, with Portugal and an opening in Lisbon, set to follow later this year. A move in Scandinavia has also been mooted. Eckbert said: “I would love to see how far we can go with it. The other point is how far will the Murrells (the brand’s founding family in the US) let us go with it? They have some interesting things to balance. They have financial advisors who tell them that you need to have a healthy balance between franchise business and your company-owned businesses. But I would love to see how far we can take the culture and the professional approach that we've been able to take inside the joint venture and how far we could go with that. Germany, France and Spain are still adventures too. They are markets that are developing and they are where Five Guys UK was five or six years ago. So, there's a real opportunity there. Germany is a really interesting market. You can walk through many of these secondary cities, there's not much branded businesses there.” Eckbert said one of the things that he and Sir Charles loved about Five Guys from the beginning was “it wasn't trendy”. He said: “Five Guys didn't succeed because it put a slice of avocado on a burger. The 15 free topics that Five Guys offers are the same 15 toppings that our grandparents liked on a burger. And I suspect it'll be the 15 toppings that our grandkids will know. The principles the Murrell family built the business on were, buy the best meat you possibly can, serve it fresh, never frozen, hand-cut fries, which is really hard. Finding people, who are willing to come in and hand cut fries, cook them twice to the very demanding standards the Murrells came up with, that's the brand. I think that's part of the genius of Five Guys – that just absolute simplicity, and sticking to it.” The business also wants to be “as famous for customer service, as we are for burgers and fries”. Eckbert said: “Just treating people the way that you want to be treated. That's actually really hard in fast food. We'll hit 10,000 employees in the next year or so. How do you get that many people thinking about caring about the hungry people who come into your restaurant, especially in a quick service restaurant/fast casual environment? That’s our constant challenge.”

Bloomberg – TRG shareholder Irenic calls for chairman to resign: Irenic Capital Management has called for Ken Hanna to stand down as chairman of The Restaurant Group (TRG), the Wagamama owner, alleging corporate governance failures and policy violations. According to letters seen by Bloomberg, the activist investor, which said it holds a stake of about 3%, charged that Hanna has shown “partiality against certain shareholders”. It said Hanna refused to even consider adding an independent director nominated by “the activist community”. Hanna told Irenic in correspondence dated 22 June that adding board members nominated by activist investors or a shareholder representative isn’t appropriate or acceptable to “longstanding shareholders”. “Hanna’s comments make clear that some shareholders — ‘longstanding’ — are more equal than others,” Irenic Capital responded in a letter. A representative for TRG acknowledged it had declined Irenic’s request for a board seat. The spokesperson said: “TRG constantly reviews the appropriate composition of the board and only last month appointed a new non-executive director in Helen Keays. There are absolutely zero foundations for Irenic’s assertion that TRG’s decline of Irenic’s request for a board seat contravenes any corporate governance guidelines and the chairman enjoys the unanimous support of the entire board.” Irenic said Hanna’s comments were “highly inappropriate” and called the company to set up a subcommittee to investigate whether the nomination committee is biased in evaluating board candidates. According to Irenic, Hanna violated a London Stock Exchange requirement that a listed company should treat all holders of a class of listed securities the same. “Should Mr Hanna not immediately resign, we believe the board must take appropriate steps to exclude Mr Hanna from further deliberations regarding board composition,” Irenic wrote.

BaxterStorey reports turnover and profits approaching pre-pandemic levels, ‘strong trading performance indication of positive outlook’: Contract catering company BaxterStorey has reported turnover and profits approaching pre-pandemic levels for the year ending 28 December 2022. Turnover was up from £285,164,000 in 2021 to £448,901,000. This compares with £509,561,000 in the last full year before the pandemic, ending 27 December 2019. Pre-tax profit grew from £23,615,000 in 2021 to £24,954,000 (2019: £26,381,000). The company received £137,000 in government grants compared with £32,903,000 in 2021 (including European support schemes). It had £32m cash in the bank and in hand at the year-end (2021: £29m) and net assets of £201m (2021: £181m). No dividend was paid (2021: nil). The company said it spent £389,000 on pandemic-related restructuring costs during the previous year and used retention schemes to preserve as many jobs as possible. “Nevertheless, disappointingly, there was still a need to further right size the business as a direct consequence of the pandemic’s impact on revenue,” it said. Director Marc Bradley added: “Like the rest of the economy, our business also experienced scarcity of labour and cost inflation, particularly in relation to food costs. However, our business model has proved resilient and has enabled us to support clients’ employees returning to the office, to gain new contracts and remain competitive. Our employee base has grown steadily, testament to the business’ ability to attract and retain talent. Despite the challenging trading environment experienced in early 2022, the directors believe the strong trading performance during the balance of the year, particularly in the last quarter, is an indication of the positive outlook for the business.”

Bread & Truffle opens Canary Wharf site: Italian bakery and sandwich concept Bread & Truffle has opened its fourth site in London, in Canary Wharf. The business, which was founded in 2020 by Giorgio De Stefano and Simone Frongia, has launched a site in Jubilee Place. The concept also operates sites in Monument, London Fields and Battersea. The company said: “We're all about pushing the limits of what a sandwich can be and bringing Italian cuisine to the forefront of the sandwich revolution. This is why we started with the decision of making the bread ourselves; operationally, it might seem counter-intuitive, but it is our competitive advantage and also what makes Bread & Truffle different.”

Hannah Berry to swap The Wolseley Hospitality Group for Azumi: Hannah Berry is to step down as director of marketing and communications at The Wolseley Hospitality Group (TWHG) to join restaurant operator Azumi, as its new global head of marketing and communications. Berry leaves TWHG after four years with The Wolseley, The Delaunay and Brasserie Zédel operator. She previously spent nearly six years as marketing director at Aqua Restaurant Group. Azumi, which is led by Sven Koch, operates the Zuma and Roka brands, which have more than 25 restaurants worldwide.

Searcy’s returns to profit as turnover passes pre-pandemic levels, benefits from pent-up demand in events market: Restaurateur and events caterer Searcy’s returned to profit in the year ending 28 December 2022 as turnover passed pre-pandemic levels, with the company benefiting from pent-up demand in the events market. It turned a pre-tax loss of £439,000 in 2021 to a profit of £2,951,000. This compares with a profit of £1,177,000 in the last full year before the pandemic, ending 27 December 2019. Turnover rose from £25,969,000 in 2021 to £62,075,000, exceeding the £60,025,000 reported in 2019. Net cash flow from operations was £2.8m (2021: £900,000) while cash in the bank and in hand was £3m (2021: £2.7m). No dividends were paid (2021: nil) and no government grants were received (2021: £3m). Director Michael Bradley said 2022 “evidenced a rapid recovery from the impact of the pandemic”. He added: “The business benefited from pent-up demand in the events market and strong performance in retail businesses. Margins felt the detrimental impact of inflationary pressures, most notably around utilities and the price of food products, while an extremely tight labour market also drove up labour costs. The business is proud to have been awarded new contracts with some of the most reputable organisations in London including, among others, Stationers' Hall. The business acquired long-standing event caterer Party Ingredients in the year, a company with strong connections in the City of London and obvious comparatives with Searcy’s. The business saw revenue increase 240% on prior year, gross profit increase 340%, and operating profit increase 750%. The significant improvement in results is due to increased turnover as well as the reorganisation of the business portfolio and the continuation of efficiencies driven by necessity during covid impacted years. The directors are confident of continued growth, organic from existing business and from future new contracts wins, to ensure continued positive trajectory.” The business also celebrated its 175th anniversary with a diary of special events throughout the year.

Moscow restaurateur plans third London site for Bocconcino concept: Bocconcino Pizzeria, the high-end pizzeria concept led by Moscow restaurateur Mikhail Gokhner, is planning to open a third site in central London, in Soho. Propel understands that Bocconcino Pizzeria plans to open at 58-59 Great Marlborough Street. In February, Propel revealed that Gokhner was to open Bocconcino on the ex-Barclays Bank site at 366-368 The Strand. It is thought the Soho site will open first of the two. The concept made its debut in the UK in November 2014, in London’s Mayfair at 19 Berkeley Street. Inspired by the quality pizza and Italian cuisine Gokhner experienced in Forte dei Marmi, a seaside town in northern Tuscany, Bocconcino Pizzeria specialises in authentic wood-fired pizza and freshly made pasta dishes featuring premium, seasonal ingredients. Gokner previously said: “Bocconcino Pizzeria is founded upon the finest Italian traditions – first class service, the best quality fresh ingredients and classic Italian dishes, presented here in an elegant and contemporary dining environment.” Savills was acting on The Strand site. 

Norwich operator that sold restaurant chain to RedCat made more than £7m from disposal of assets: Norwich operator Anglian Restaurants, which in 2022 sold a restaurant chain to RedCat, the investment vehicle from ex-Greene King chief executive Rooney Anand, made more than £7m from disposal of assets in the year. Anglian Restaurants, owned by husband-and-wife team Arthur and Michelle Williams, sold Castle Carvey, which had four branches across Norfolk, to RedCat in April last year. In its accounts for the year ending 31 January 2023, it reported a £7,407,557 profit on disposal of investment in a subsidiary. As a result, pre-tax profit, including discontinued operations, was down from £11,350,746 in 2022 to £92,843. Turnover, also including discontinued operations, was down from £7,668,444 in 2022 to £1,114,533. The accounts reported during the period, “the lease on the site traded under the Artorio’s brand was surrendered, leaving one remaining trading site that is traded under the Fasto’s brand”. Mediterranean grill concept Artorio’s, which was located in Norwich Riverside Entertainment Centre, had closed in 2019 and was replaced by American diner concept Fatso’s. At the time of the sale to RedCat, the Eastern Daily Press reported the Williamses were planning to take partial-retirement and hand over the remaining business to their son. The company said it continues to own the Fatso’s restaurant concept, which then had two locations in Norwich. Michelle Williams added the business hopes to open more of them across Norfolk and Suffolk. No dividends were paid during the period (2022: £400,000). The company received £6,266 in government grants and other support compared with £1,254,798 in 2022.

Boswells reports turnover and profits pass pre-pandemic levels, looking to open more stores: West Country cafe chain Boswells reported turnover and profits passed pre-pandemic levels in the year ending 30 October 2022 and said it was looking to open more stores. The 18-strong business, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, reported turnover of £11,966,355 for the period. This rose from £7,030,872 in 2021 and is also up on the £10,562,000 reported in the last full year before the pandemic, ending 25 October 2019. Pre-tax profit was up from £123,821 in 2021 to £195,794 (2019: £170,000). Director Nicholas Burn said: “A key part of the company’s strategy is to increase the scale where appropriate. The key measure of this is the number of profitable new branches opened. We aim to only open new branches that will contribute financially to the company. The company seeks to increase profitability by increasing the sales of branches open for more than one year.” In April 2023, Boswells reopened its Swindon branch in the former Forces Support charity shop unit in Regent Street, having shut its previous location in the town’s Brunel shopping centre.

Bristol artisan gin brand acquires former floating restaurant to turn into bar and events space: Bristol artisan gin brand 6 O’clock Gin has acquired a former floating restaurant in the city to turn into a bar and events space. The Glassboat was built on a barge near Bristol Bridge by multi-site operator Arne Ringner in 1986 after he was refused permission to use it as a floating botanical garden, operating instead as a French-style brasserie. It was relaunched as seafood restaurant and takeaway The Fish during lockdown but was put up for sale in May 2022 by Ringner, who also owns the Lido restaurant, pool and spa in Clifton and the Three Brothers burger restaurant in Welsh Back. It has now been acquired by 6 O’clock Gin, with a relaunch scheduled for this summer. It will offer gin and tonics and gin-based cocktails, as well a retail offering and immersive experiences including gin tastings, cocktail masterclasses and gin blending experiences. Paul Sullivan, managing director of 6 O’clock Gin, said: “Our plan is to retain as many original features as possible while breathing new life into this historic site. The relaunch of the Glassboat marks a significant milestone for us as we are able to bring our 6 O’clock Gin experiences right into the heart of the city.” 6 O’clock Gin was founded three decades ago as a sideline for fruit farmers Edward and Penny Kain, before their children, Michael Kain and Felicity Hall, took over the business. Its distillery in Thornbury also offers tours and experiences.

London dessert concept eyes 50 UK stores by 2030 as it prepares to open ninth site: London dessert concept Urban Chocolatier is aiming for 50 UK stores by 2030 as it prepares to open its ninth site, in Harrow. It is due to open in the former Bon Marche unit in Station Road, reports We Are Harrow. It will join the concept’s locations in Ilford, Walthamstow, Barkingside, Upton Park, Romford, Wood Green, Whitechapel and Wembley. Founded in 2013 by the Ali brothers, Sadaq and Waqas, it offers gelato, French toast, cookie dough, crepes, pancakes, waffles, sundaes and drinks including milkshakes and mocktails. It is seeking to bring new franchisees on board in order to reach its 50-store aim, reports Business Live. The company is working on its first out-of-London store, in Cardiff, and is looking to set up in other major UK cities such as Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle, Bradford, Leeds, Brighton, Coventry, Liverpool, Reading, Southampton, Sheffield, Edinburgh, Leicester and Derby.

Miso Group places sole UK Operation:Falafel site on the market: Miso Group, from chef Adria Wu and Dubai-based investor Tamer Bazzari, has placed the UK debut site for the Operation:Falafel brand in London’s Camden, on the market. Operation:Falafel made its UK debut last September. The brand, which was founded by Manhal Naser, opened at 59 Chalk Farm Road. The site is now listed as temporarily closed and is understood to be being marketed by property firm Shelley Sandzer. Operation:Falafel operates sites in the Middle East and the US, balancing “traditional old-street Arabic flavours with fresh tastes” through an offering including shawarma pitas, kofta bowls, salads and flavoured hummus. Miso Group previously said it was targeting ten Operation:Falafel UK franchises by 2024, which would include a second flagship store in central London.

Welsh hotel group boosts turnover but profits fall as overheads increase: Welsh hotel group Snowdonia Hospitality and Leisure boosted its turnover in the year ending 31 January 2023 but saw it profits fall as overheads increased. The group – which operates the Royal Oak Hotel, the Waterloo Hotels, Stables Lodge and Y Stablau in Betws y Coed – reported turnover of £7,367,678, up from £5,745,414 in 2022. This compares with £6,956,600 in the last full year before covid, ending 31 January 2020. Pre-tax profit fell from £1,016,604 in 2022 to £472,000 (2019: £754,100). Director Gareth Evans, who was last year appointed vice-chair of North Wales Tourism, said: “Overheads increased in part due to delayed covid repairs and maintenance as well as additional needs within the business. Overall, this allowed the company to return a profit before tax which, while lower than previous years, still represents strong demand. This has enabled the company to continue to invest in the business.” The company has been granted planning permission for a new stand-alone extension of “high quality rooms” at the former filling station next to the Waterloo Hotel. It also continues to invest in live-in staff accommodation and last year became a Living Wage Employer, meaning its minimum hourly wage is now nearly £1 over the statutory rate. The company received £1,272 in government grants compared with £484,304 in 2022. Dividends of £148,764 were paid (2022: £148,764).

London social enterprise brewery Toast Ale to open microbrewery at new Milton Keynes leisure destination: Toast Ale, the London social enterprise brewery that uses surplus bakery bread that would otherwise be wasted, is set to open a microbrewery at a new multi-use leisure destination in Milton Keynes. Due to open in September, Unity Place will feature a restaurant, cafes, street food vendors, retail outlets, event space and a work café open to the public, together with co-working space for businesses. This will be followed later in the year by the microbrewery, where Toast will brew with surplus bread from the on-site bakery, the Baker’s Room. Toast’s beer will also be served on-site elsewhere at Unity Place upon its opening. Toast co-founder Robert Wilson said: “We’re thrilled to be opening a new microbrewery within this amazing new venue in Milton Keynes. Partnering with like-minded business is so important to us, and Unity Place’s ethos in the environment and sustainability made this opportunity a no-brainer.” Rhodri Adrian, account director (Unity Place) at Restaurant Associates, added: “Toast Ale's award-winning beer is the perfect accompaniment to our Urban Food Market traders and an ideal choice for a sundowner on our roof terrace, Unity Sky Lounge. We can’t wait for the brewery to bubble into action and are delighted that Toast will be part of the Unity Place family.”

Plymouth pub with its own beach goes on market with £1.5m guide price: A Plymouth pub with its own beach has gone on the market with a guide price of £1.5m. Agent Bettesworths is handling the sale of the Eddystone Inn in the village of Heybrook Bay, which includes Heybrook Beach, two refurbished apartments, a one-bedroom flat and a car park. Although privately owned, Heybrook Beach which is located in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, is currently open to the public. The agent said the business is being sold with a strong financial performance record, a dedicated and experienced team of staff and an established reputation. Bettesworths said the owner currently operates it at arm's length, with the pub closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, while the apartments are unoccupied.

Honey & Co confirms plans for fourth site: Honey & Co has confirmed it is to open a new site in London’s Store Street. As revealed by Propel earlier this week, Honey & Co, which was founded by Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich, will open Honey & Co Daily, a deli, bakery and cafe, for its fourth site in the capital. Opening in September, the site will be divided into two sections, with a dedicated deli-takeaway area at the entrance – offering coffees, pastries, cakes and lunches to go – and a casual 40-seater dining room, with a more substantial eat-in menu, located beyond. The project has been a long-term dream for the couple, especially for Srulovich, who sees it as a tribute to his long-suffering wife Packer. He said: “Our whole operation is powered by my wife Sarit, not least our pastry section – a fairy of sugar, fruit and flour, she conjures up incredible baked goods seemingly without moving, certainly without measuring too much, performing something not far from pure magic. This place is truly the space she deserves, a new kitchen dedicated to her art, plus a dining space that is so beautiful.” Last summer, the pair closed their original site in London’s Warren Street, but subsequently reopened a new Honey & Co at 54 Lamb’s Conduit Street in Bloomsbury. That site holds more than double the number of diners – with 55 covers as opposed to 25 – than the original, which they opened 11 years ago. The duo also run Honey & Smoke in Great Portland Street and deli Honey & Spice in Warren Street.

Waitrose partners with UberEats for ’20-minute’ rapid delivery: Waitrose has teamed up with UberEats for a multi-year partnership aiming to deliver groceries in as little as 20 minutes. The partnership has initially launched on the delivery service’s platform in five London stores, including Finchley Road, West Hampstead, Clerkenwell, St Katharine Docks, and Greenwich. It will then roll out to more than 200 shops across the UK by the end of August. Waitrose said customers will be able to order from “thousands upon thousands” of items, including its value Essential Waitrose range, as well as Waitrose No 1, Waitrose Duchy Organic and the supermarket’s latest summer ranges. Brands such as Gail’s Bakery and Deliciously Ella will also be included, as well as a range of fresh ready meals and free-from and vegan items. Wine, beer and spirits will also be offered. UberEats said it has seen bookings from supermarkets increase by almost 60% in the first quarter of 2023 compared with last year. Alex Troughton, UberEats UK head of commerce, said: “We are delighted Waitrose is joining the UberEats platform across the UK from today. Our partnership is the ultimate in modern day food shopping, combining the benefits of technology, convenience and speed with premium quality and huge product choice. It is the latest step in UberEats’ mission to help customers get anything they want, in a matter of minutes, at the touch of a button.” The move builds on Waitrose’s current partnership with Deliveroo.
 
Home Bargains to open in-store bakeries at more than 60 stores across the UK: Budget retailer Home Bargains has confirmed it will be opening in-store bakeries at more than 60 stores across the UK. It has already introduced bakeries in stores such as Darlington, Basingstoke and Merthyr and will add another 20 over the next 12 months, reports Chronicle Live. A spokesperson for Home Bargains said: “In recent years, the market for fresh baked goods in the UK has grown significantly, and the bakeries we have introduced at stores nationwide have allowed customers to enjoy our competitively priced fresh bakery range. We are looking forward to introducing more bakeries in stores as we roll out our fresh bakery range for customers across the UK to enjoy.” Visitors can expect a selection of baked goods, from baguettes and tiger rolls to pastries, muffins and doughnuts. All bakeries operate the same opening hours as the stores they are located in and baked goods available will include a pack of five sausage rolls for £1.09, baguettes for 75p, a pack of four scotch rolls for 85p, and cheese twists for 59p. Other items include cinnamon whirls for 55p, two vanilla crowns for 79p, ten mini jam, sugar or chocolate doughnuts for £1, and a four pack of iced, sugared or chocolate ring donuts for 99p.

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