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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Mon 17th Jul 2023 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Toridoll CEO – we will look to make further UK acquisitions, plans to franchise Fulham Shore brands in UK: Takaya Awata, president and chief executive of Toridoll Holdings, the new owner of Fulham Shore – the operator of the Franco Manca and The Real Greek brands – has said the Japanese investment firm plans to explore further UK acquisitions. The company, which also backs Marugame Udon, completed its £93.4m acquisition of the 97-strong Fulham Shore, alongside restaurant sector specialist fund Capdesia, last week. Awata told Propel: “To outsiders, this may have seemed a surprising move. Toridoll is, after all, a Tokyo-listed restaurant group that owns 20 restaurant brands and operates circa 1,800 restaurants, most of which are – for now – situated across Asia, the US, and Europe. But, for us, bringing new, international brands into our portfolio is an important part of our ambitious growth strategy to establish ourselves as a leading global restaurant group, providing ‘Kando’ (in Japanese: experiences that will move customers) for customers all over the world. Globally, the UK is one of the most important markets for hospitality innovation and leadership. It is a melting point of fantastic brands, brilliant and unique concepts, and a starting point for many trends that influence the international hospitality scene. While we acknowledge the customer environment remains challenging in the near term, we firmly believe in the long-term opportunities in the sector.” Awata said Franco Manca and The Real Greek had “significant growth potential alongside strong affinity with our existing brands”. It is understood that in the UK, the company believed the brands can grow to around 200 restaurants combined, with additional growth to come overseas. It is thought the company plans to target double-digit store openings on an annual basis. While Franco Manca, which Propel understands has just reported two record weeks of trading, has already started its international franchise journey, with openings in Greece and Spain, Awata said Toridoll could also explore the franchise route for the brands in the UK. Awata said: “There is opportunity to scale both brands in the UK, internationally, and through retail channels. All three growth areas will be critical but driving further growth in the UK. To capitalise on the long-term growth opportunities, we plan to invest in – and help grow – the UK market by expanding the brands’ national footprint. We will launch new sites in regions and cities where we don’t have a presence. Outside of the UK, we believe Franco Manca and The Real Greek’s strong brand and product offering will resonate in international markets, including Europe and Asia. Both brands specialise in food genres that can easily penetrate international markets and deliver stable market growth in the future. For Franco Manca, in addition to company-managed stores, we will look to build on its existing ventures into franchising in Europe, with plans to expand in prominent markets such as France and Spain in the near term.” Propel revealed last week that Fulham Shore plans to open sites under the Franco Manca brand in Solihull and St Albans, with talks ongoing on locations in Plymouth and Sheffield. At the same time, the business will open a site under The Real Greek in Braintree. 

Industry News:

Sponsored message – Opsyte introduces the AI next generation of hospitality reporting: The hospitality management tools website, Opsyte, has launched its latest product, Insytes, the “game-changing” artificial intelligence-powered hospitality reporting tool. A spokesperson said: “Insytes simplifies and streamlines the reporting process, allowing the Opsyte team to generate customised reports tailored to your business. Gone are the days of spending countless hours compiling and analysing data manually or using rigid off the shelf alternatives. What makes Insytes stand out is its ability to provide actionable and customisable insights. By leveraging the power of artificial intelligence, Insytes goes beyond static data reporting – uncovering valuable trends, highlighting areas for improvement, and guiding your decision-making process. With advanced analytics and intuitive visualisations, you can make informed strategic choices that drive your business forward. Insytes is also seamlessly integrated. As a part of the Opsyte software suite, Insytes seamlessly integrates with an ever-expanding list of EPOS systems and accounting software, ensuring a smooth transition and compatibility with your workflow. With the ability to consolidate data from various sources and transform it into concise, actionable reports, all within a single platform.” To learn more click here or email onboarding@opsyte.com. If you have a sponsored message you would like to see featured in this newsletter position, email paul.charity@propelinfo.com

Propel launches talent and training conference, open for bookings: Propel has launched the talent and training conference, which will showcase examples of outstanding people culture among companies within the sector and how the industry is attracting talent. The full-day conference takes place on Tuesday, 3 October at One Moorgate Place in London and is open for bookings. Speakers will include KAM managing director Katy Moses, who will share exclusive research on the key trends impacting the sector’s ability to recruit and retain staff. Oli Cavaliero, group head of talent at Gail’s, will talk about its recruitment campaign based around enjoying working in hospitality while having a work-life balance, called “The Early Bird Never Works Late”. Leanne Gunson, head of learning and development at Pizza Pilgrims, will discuss the company’s academy, how it is helping it recruit and train new staff, and inspire its existing employees using outside influences. James Hacon will interview Indian-born British chef, restaurateur, and cookbook author Asma Khan, of Darjeeling Express, about the journey to opening her first restaurant, operating an all-female brigade of talented amateur chefs, paying everyone equally and what hospitality means to her. Sixty Eight People’s Abi Dunn will interview Nina Panayiodou and Andrew O’Callaghan, operations director and people director from Dishoom, about the culture that everyone is talking about. Helen Melvin, people director at Heartwood Collection, will discuss the challenges of recruiting and retaining high-class chefs. Hannah Plumb, talent and culture director at The Alchemist, will talk about the opportunities and challenges of building a people culture in a different country. Jo Cole, people director, and Olajide Alabi, equality, inclusion and well-being partner at Turtle Bay, will discuss the impact of the group’s Four Days at The Bay initiative, and the investment the business has made in its equality, inclusion and wellness programme. Kenny Blair, managing director of Scottish independent restaurant and bar operator Buzzworks Holdings, will discuss creating recruitment initiatives, including a cash referral scheme to attract new talent, its use of TikTok to find new employees, and how they are helping the business find and retain staff. Steve Rockey, group people director at The Pig, will talk about the group’s chef academy and how it is a little out of the norm, with beekeeping, foraging, gardening, pickling and animal husbandry, part of its initiatives to recruit and retain staff. Dame Karen Jones, chair of Hawksmoor and Mowgli, will talk to James Hacon about what the sector does right when it comes to finding and nurturing talent, and also what it could do better. There will also be a panel about how the late-night sector is evolving to attract talent featuring Adam Dilks, group people director at Nightcap; Beth Anderson, people director at Revolution Bars Group; Chantal Wilson, people director at NQ64, and Jon Cotterill, director at the Columbo Group. A panel will also be held about the evolution of the people experience through data with Phil Eeles, co-founder of Honest Burgers; Emma Reynolds, co-founder of Tonkotsu; Sunaina Sethi, co-founder and people director at JKS; Will Fraser, ex-Saracens/England rugby player (who will talk about his work in creating cultures through data); and Matt Grimshaw, founder of people experience platform Youda. Tickets are £295 plus VAT for operators and £395 plus VAT for suppliers and can be booked by emailing kai.kirkman@propelinfo.com.

Latest Who’s Who of UK Food and Beverage featuring 715 companies to be released on Friday: The latest Who’s Who of UK Food and Beverage will be published for Premium subscribers on Friday (21 July). A total of 22 companies have been added to the database, which now features 715 companies. This month’s edition also includes 75 updated entries. The companies, listed in alphabetical order, will have their most recent results reported as well as broader information around Ebitda, plans and trading style available. The database merges Companies House information, interviews and other public information to provide an easy to reference and exhaustive guide to the sector. Premium subscribers also receive access to four other databases: the Propel Multi-Site Database, produced in association with Virgate; the New Openings Database; the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book; and the 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.

Time being called on post-work pints, survey suggests: The post-work pint is facing last orders, with six in ten now dodging the end of day drinks, claiming it to be “boring” or “non-inclusive”. Almost 80% used to go to the pub with colleagues at least once-a-week just a decade ago, but according to the study of 2,000 workers, 35% said workplace booze-ups are a “complete waste of their time”. A further 25% said post-work drinks weren’t inclusive and didn't cater for different religious faiths or teetotallers. Of those quizzed, 62% said they would much prefer a foodie evening with no booze at all, reports the Daily Mail. Recent research showed corporate businesses are planning an 80% increase in spending on events for staff in the next year, and event planners Togather, which conducted the poll, said the money would be better spent away from the pub. Hugo Campbell, co-founder of Togather, said: “It is no longer sufficient to rely on beige buffets or the usual Friday night trips to the pub. Instead, businesses must provide meaningful experiences that genuinely demonstrate appreciation for their staff.”

Government considers boot camps to train staff for the sector: The Sunday Telegraph has reported that the government is plotting hospitality “boot camps” to get unemployed people back to work and help the hospitality sector fill more than 100,000 vacancies. Ministers have held meetings with industry representatives to discuss how to make it easier for unemployed people to find work or in the sector. One idea being considered is the creation of boot camps where Job Centre candidates would be trained on basic hospitality skills such as food preparation and food safety, setting them up to easily take-up roles in the hospitality industry. It is understood ministers are hoping to roll out a pilot scheme in the autumn. Conservative MP Alun Cairns, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Beer Group, told The Telegraph: “There’s a significant number of people that are economically inactive, and the hospitality sector offers an ideal opportunity for employment. This boot camp could play a key part in developing young people who are far away from the workplace.”

UberEats reports £700m of UK food delivery sales: The Sunday Times has reported that UberEats achieved £700m of food delivery sales out of a total of £3.3bn of UK revenue at Uber. Just Eat has £1.2bn of annual sales while Deliveroo has £1.1bn of annual sales. The numbers, revealed in accounts for the year to December 2022 filed at Companies House, show the total amount that Uber takes in orders, before the money is split with drivers and restaurants. The Sunday Times reported: “It is the first time Uber has given a clear picture of its UK business since it implemented changes to its structure in March. Uber was forced to alter its business model last year after a Supreme Court ruling in 2021 on a case brought by drivers, who had demanded recognition as full-time workers. The court found in their favour, ruling the company was a transport provider and not merely a ‘middle man’ between users and drivers. As a consequence of that, Uber now books all the revenue from its fares, rather than just a portion. In addition, the company has stopped routing UK revenue via its Netherlands business. As the changes to Uber’s model took effect at the end of March, its accounts provide only a snapshot of the business for three-quarters of the year. It means turnover is likely to jump again in 2023, the first full year of the changes.”

Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a venue in London that is seeking someone to oversee its food and beverage operations. A COREcruitment spokesperson said: “The group is looking for a multi-venue operator who really understands private members, food, restaurants, and bars. This role will oversee all the food and beverage operations, which consists of five restaurants, two private dining rooms, five bars and a terrace with a 3am licence. Hospitality needs to be in your DNA along with the training and development of your team. The business is looking for candidates who have high energy and are happy to be on the floor.” The salary is up to £100,000 and the position is based in London. For more information, email kate@corecruitment.com.
 

Company News:

Big Table Group acquired Banana Tree for total consideration of £8.6m, eyes Windsor opening: The Big Table Group, the operator of Las Iguanas, Bella Italia and Café Rouge, acquired Banana Tree, the fast-casual pan-Asian brand, last year for a total consideration of £8.6m, Propel has learned. The Alan Morgan-led, Epiris-backed business acquired the then nine-strong Banana Tree business in September last year. Propel understands the total consideration of £8.6m was satisfied by the payment of £5.5m in cash on completion, as well as “directly attributable costs” of £300,000. Further consideration of £2.8m is payable subject to the achievement of certain performance targets of the acquired business 12 to 36 months post-acquisition. Propel understands of the £5.5m already paid toward the deal, it includes £2.5m of cash in the Banana Tree business that Big Table Group had to acquire. The company has so far converted Café Rouge sites in Covent Garden, The O2, Haywards Heath and Reigate to the Banana Tree brand. Propel understands that a further conversion of the Café Rouge in Windsor to a Banana Tree is also being lined up. Talking to Propel last week, Morgan said the group was “really pleased” with how Banana Tree is performing. He said: “The pan-Asian offering and wide range of meat-free options aligns well with key consumer trends, and we’re excited about the opportunity to grow the brand. Our initial approach has been to identify sites in our existing portfolio that we think will have a bigger upside operating as Banana Tree, and we’ve converted sites in Covent Garden, The O2, Haywards Heath and Reigate so far. We will evaluate the performance of our conversions to understand future rollout options, and the early indications from the trial are very positive.” Last week, Big Table Group reported an “encouraging” performance in the first half of its current financial year to April 2023, with sales up 9% year-on-year (excluding prior year VAT benefit). It said trading Ebitda is “well-ahead of the prior year and ahead of expectations, even after accounting for significant additional energy costs”.

First round bids due for D&D London: First round bids are due on Friday (21 July) for D&D London, which owns and operates circa 40 restaurants across the UK and internationally, with the company’s co-founder and former chief executive Des Gunewardena, believed to be among the early interested parties. Propel understands that Minor International, the backers of The Wolseley Hospitality Group, has also shown an interest in the process, which goes under the name Project Sandon, and is being overseen by advisory firm Interpath. It is thought whoever is successful in securing D&D may have to pursue a restructuring of the business as part of any deal, with the majority of the group’s growth/sales understood to be coming from circa 15 of its current sites. Last month, Propel revealed that private equity firm LDC had exited its investment in D&D London after a decade of supporting the company. LDC transferred shareholder control in D&D to Beechbrook Capital. Beechbrook has been “committed investors” in D&D since 2017, when it provided a mezzanine loan to part-refinance LDC’s and the management’s shareholder loans. Interpath, which had previously been advising the business, has now been reappointed to sound out the market as D&D seeks further investment to support its transformation plan. Gunewardena left the company to pursue other ventures last September. Earlier this month, D&D closed its Plateau restaurant in London’s Canary Wharf, citing covid’s “major impact on the corporate market”. Earlier this year, D&D ceased trading four of its UK- sites – East 59th (Leeds), Klosterhaus (Bristol) and Avenue and Radici (London). Klosterhaus, East 59th and Avenue were included in the seven sites Propel revealed that D&D had placed on the market last November. D&D London features in the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book. Group revenue over the 15 months to June 2022 was £163m, or 90% of pre-covid levels, while earnings were £17m, or 122% of pre-covid. 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 jo.charity@propelinfo.com to upgrade your subscription.
 
TRG rolls out virtual delivery brand Street Feud: The Restaurant Group (TRG), the Wagamama and Brunning & Price owner, has begun the roll out of its new delivering concept, Street Feud, which it launched earlier this year. The virtual delivery concept, which comprises “popular bits” from its other delivery brands, initially went live on Deliveroo and UberEats, and has since been extended to Just Eat. Described as a “one-stop shop to order various brands and cuisines together”, Street Feud’s menu includes items from the delivery brands such as BirdBox, Stacks, Bao Now, BoneJam and Puddo. It was originally available through a handful of Frankie & Benny’s sites, including in The Fort (Birmingham) and Great Yarmouth. However, Propel now understands that a roll out to other parts of TRG’s Leisure division has commenced, with the brand now available in places including Camberley, Birmingham, Swindon and Croydon, through its Frankie & Benny’s and Chiquito sites.
 
Loungers sets out Lounge expansion potential: Café bar operator Loungers has set out why it believes its Lounge brand could reach 600 sites across the UK, by highlighting the group’s home city of Bristol as an example of the scale of the opportunity. Last week, the Nick Collins-led business said it now sees scope for at least 600 Lounges across the UK, which is up from its previous 400-site suggestion, and one that it still sees as conservative. Collins said: “Our in-house property team has produced an in-depth model of potential locations based on our detailed knowledge of the UK, while performance within the existing estate alongside references to competitor scale and performance suggest this is a conservative target.” In the presentation that followed the company’s latest trading update, Collins highlighted the group’s home city of Bristol as an example of the scale of the opportunity for Lounge. The business currently operates five Lounges and one Cosy Club in the city and believes there is still an opportunity to double the size of the estate in Bristol. Of its existing sites there, Porto Lounge relocated to bigger premises during the year, Barranco Lounge opened during the year in the Abbeywood Retail Park, while its three existing Lounges all continue to trade strongly, and Cosy Club Bristol is one of the best Ebitda sites in its estate. Collins said the company would still strongly consider opening new Lounges in Cribbs Causeway, Emersons Green, Brislington, Bristol Harbourside and Clifton. He said the relocation of Porto Lounge has more than doubled sales and Ebitda, “demonstrating our ability to generate high returns on capital in secondary suburban high streets”. The original Porto Lounge opened in October 2004, with a rent of £24,000 and no landlord package. It generated average weekly sales of £18,250, with a net capex of £334,000, and produced a cash return on capital invested of 40.5%. The relocated Porto Lounge opened in February 2023 on a 15-year lease, with a rent of £57,500, and a landlord package of 12-month rent free. In its first 21 weeks of being open it has generated gross average weekly sales of £43,100, with a net capex of £972,000, and is forecast to produce a cash return on capital invested of 43%.

Mission Mars secures second London site for Rudy’s brand: Mission Mars has further strengthened the openings pipeline for its Rudy’s pizza Napoletana brand, after lining up a second opening in London. Propel understands that Rudy’s, which made its London debut in spring 2021, in Wardour Street, Soho, has secured a site in Montacute Yards, in Shoreditch High Street, for an opening later this year. Earlier this month, Mission Mars opened its third Birmingham site under its Rudy’s brand, on the former Hawkshead Taphouse at 77 High Street, Harborne. It has also lined up an opening in the old Midlands Bank site in Nottingham’s Victoria Street. As part of its three-year plan, Mission Mars is looking to open six to eight Rudy’s sites per year. It currently operates 18 and has several others in legals. It is also set to open a new hospitality academy and relaunch its bake-at-home business at its new Portland Street site in Manchester, which opened in May. Joshua Rose, of Raven Rose, acts for Mission Mars.

Page – chain restaurants overcharge and the food’s not great: Chain restaurants are going out of business because they are overcharging and for “not very good” food, David Page, chairman of Fulham Shore, the Franco Manca and The Real Greek operator, has told The Telegraph. Page said the pizza chain had prospered by being “cheaper than Pret A Manger” and keeping its menu simple. He said: “The menus are too big. They’re trying to do many too many things. You need a skilled kitchen that costs money. At £30 per head and not very good, that’s the problem sector and that’s where they’re all going bust.” Page believes Franco Manca has weathered the storm by undercutting rivals even as the cost of everything from dairy to tomatoes soared. He said: “Our maxim at the beginning was that we would be 30% cheaper than anybody else. Obviously, margins are under pressure because of the economy but customers are still coming in because of the value in the product. You’d struggle to spend more than £10, we’re cheaper than a Pret A Manger.” He claimed Franco Manca was able to keep down costs by cutting out the middleman and sourcing directly from farmers in Italy. “There’s no middleman in Italy and there’s no middleman in England taking 2% or 3%,” he said. “So we go to the grower, and we go to the people making the cheese, the chickens. We try to find out who is in charge of the production and what the quality control is. We buy direct from them and then we arrange the transportation.” Page said Franco Manca and its sister chain, The Real Greek, had been able to take advantage of rivals closing and secure cheaper rents. “I’m afraid to say we have done and we are taking advantage of other businesses going under,” he said. “My best site in the UK is a Real Greek where it cost us £200,000 to convert from a Carluccio’s and the landlord gave us £200,000.”
 
Mash Inns reports current trading ‘in line with expectations’: Mash Inns, the joint venture between Laine Pub Company and Stonegate Pub Company, has told Propel current trading “is in line with expectations”. It comes as the business reported turnover increased to £2,024,000 for the year ending 30 September 2022 compared with £1,120,000 the previous year. The company, which was incorporated in February 2016, made an operating loss of £4,000 compared with a profit of £71,000 the year before. Pre-tax losses were up to £74,000 from £1,000 the previous year. The business received local authority grants of £13,000 (2021: £201,000). No divided was paid (2021: nil). Mash Inns operates four sites – New Unity and St George’s Inn in Brighton, Old Albion in Hove and Ladywell Tavern in Lewisham.

Heavenly Desserts to open at least eight more sites this year with Tooting its 50th, another menu collaboration in pipeline: Dessert restaurant franchise Heavenly Desserts is set to open at least eight more sites this year, with Tooting as its 50th, and launch another menu collaboration. The brand took its UK estate to 49 stores earlier this month when it opened in the former Mountain Warehouse retail store at 102 The Parade in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire. That store was its fourth opening this year, following in the footsteps of Brighton, Beckton in east London and Hull. A store at 48 Upper Tooting Road in Tooting Bec, south London, will be its landmark 50th site and is one of three ready to open “imminently”, according to managing director Yousef Islam. The other two almost ready to open are in Aberdeen and Slough. These will be followed by five more sites in the third quarter – Milton Keynes, Burnley, a second Manchester site, a third Birmingham store and a third Glasgow location. Having last month launched a menu collaboration with Itsu, it will unveil another one this autumn, and has almost completed a branding refresh too.

North east McDonald’s franchisee returns to profit after refinancing and selling restaurant back to parent company, like-for-like sales up since year-end: North east McDonald’s franchisee A Khan Restaurants returned to profit in the 18 months to 31 August 2022 after refinancing and selling a restaurant back to its parent company. Its turnover increased 93% from £5,826,905 in the year to 28 February 2021 to £16,840,218 in the 18 months to 31 August 2022. A pre-tax loss of £201,648 in 2021 turned into a profit of £627,073, while Ebitda increased from £604,387 in 2021 to £2,556,962. Ordinary dividends were paid amounting to £41,000. It received £919,417 in government grants compared with £1,547,870 in 2021. The company previously operated four stores in the region but now has three, employing more than 250 staff. Director Ahmed Khan, in his statement accompanying the accounts, said: “During the period, one of the stores the company operated was closed and sold back to McDonald’s head office. The sale of the store’s assets is reflected in the loss incurred on disposals of tangible fixed assets of £526,756. Despite this, company revenue and profits both increased as a result of strong demand for delivery and a return to in store dining. The company refinanced its existing bank loans with HSBC Bank in March 2022. The director is optimistic about the long-term prospects for the continued profitability of the business. Since the year end, like-for-like sales have increased due to the strength of the brand and continued success of delivery and drive-thru services.” 

Karen’s Diner reports ‘steady growth’ in UK and eyes further expansion here despite shutting three of its original restaurants in Australia: Karen’s Diner has reported “steady growth” in the UK and is eyeing further expansion here, despite shutting three of its original restaurants in Australia. The interactive burger bar concept, where customers pay for staff to insult them, has nine UK sites including Newport, where it made its Welsh debut earlier this year. It also has one each in the US, New Zealand and Indonesia, and until recently, had ten locations in its native Australia. Its sites in Surfers Paradise, Perth, and Melbourne have all shut after being placed into voluntary liquidation, with the company writing on Facebook: “Unfortunately, all good things come to an end and Karen can’t stay forever!” But the brand’s UK and European operations team confirmed the British sites were unaffected by the Australian closures. It told The Manc that the company managing the recently closed Australian sites is just one of nine subsidiaries within the Viral Ventures Holdings Group in Australia. “We understand these short-term leases were due to expire and poor management within this company led to this inevitable conclusion,” said Paul Levin, who oversees the brand’s operations here. “We accept that Karen haters will look to jump on an opportunity to question the longevity of dining’s most outrageous brand. They will be disappointed. The principal group in Australia continues to be rude to all, and the never-ending demand globally is ensuring that growth worldwide continues. It’s hard to understand the problems that have needed to be dealt with on the other side of the world. However, our UK businesses operate autonomously, and despite challenging conditions, we are delighted to report continuous steady growth. On Sunday, 13 August, our next restaurant will be opening on the promenade in Brighton’s Marina. Our next mission then is to be rude to the whole of Ireland and our ‘experience’ will be landing in both Northern and the Republic of Ireland during October. Our millions of social media followers can rest assured that our mission to serve great food while being rude to the whole world remains firmly on track.”

Six by Nico plans Birmingham launch: The team behind the Six by Nico restaurant business is continuing to build its openings pipeline after lining up an opening in Birmingham. Propel understands the Six by Nico team plans to open a site in the Chatwin Building in the city’s Colmore Row. Next month, the brand will open its debut site in Wales, in Cardiff. As revealed by Propel in May, Six by Nico has acquired the ex-Zizzi restaurant in the Castle Quarter Arcades in Cardiff. The new site, which will be the 12th under the concept, will open on Monday, 14 August, creating up to 50 jobs. Founded by chef Nico Simeone, Six by Nico offers diners a six-course tasting menu inspired by a theme, destination or concept. The creative tasting menu changes every six weeks, each with a different theme – inspiring the name Six by Nico. Earlier this summer, the company was linked to a second opening under its eponymous brand, in Manchester. The business has applied to open a site in the city’s John Dalton Street, underneath Yotel hotel. It opened its debut site in the city’s Spring Gardens in summer 2019. Earlier this month, Six by Nico opened in Leeds, after taking space at 9 East Parade in the city. In February, Six by Nico opened a third site under its eponymous concept in Glasgow, taking Simeone’s total UK portfolio to 11. In January, the company announced it was set to open four new sites under its core brand, as well as new bar and bakery ventures, and an international launch, on the back of a “robust financial performance”. In the spring, its bakery concept Valaria opened in Glasgow’s West End.

Aviary Hospitality Group targets £8m revenue with opening of second Flamingo site: Bournemouth operator Aviary Hospitality Group, founded by entrepreneurs Joshua Simons and Steve Crawford, has opened its second Flamingo Café Bar just a stone’s throw from the beach at Boscombe Spa. The site, formerly Reef Encounter and James & White, has 70 covers with a roadside pergola, electric roof and perimeter glass, allowing year-round use. This is the third launch of the year for the group, coming after the opening of its third Chicken & Blues site in Christchurch in March, and a Chicken & Blues food truck that is now catering for public and private events across the region. With this opening, the group is targeting £8m revenue, with further sites pipelined for both concepts. Simons said: “We’ve had a busy year so far with multiple openings and our team growing to more than 150 members. Both concepts are beating forecasts and gaining momentum. With this in mind, now is as good a time as any to drive the group forward with further openings. We believe Flamingo Café Bar has the potential for up to six locations across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole. We’ve also been eyeing up a few Bournemouth town centre sites for a sizeable Chicken & Blues. We’ll see how things progress and what opportunities come our way. It’s an exciting time for the team.”

Scottish inflatable theme park operator to open fifth site and first in Wales: Scottish inflatable theme park operator Innoflate is to open its fifth site and first in Wales. The company – that offers inflatable climbing walls, slides and other obstacles together with fitness classes and Nerf War sessions – has secured a unit at Newport Leisure Park in Spytty, South Wales. It has taken on the 19,616 square-foot unit 2 at the leisure destination on a ten-year lease at a headline rent of £215,000 per annum. Innoflate, which began trading in 2018, has sites in Aberdeen, Livingston, Cumbernauld and Dundee in Scotland. Darren Margach, chief executive of Innoflate Group, told Insider Media: “The expansion and significant investment we are committed to in order to create Innoflate Newport in Wales is a very significant milestone for the group, and we are delighted with the warmth of the welcome we have received from Newport stakeholders. Exciting times ahead, and we look forward to building a strong relationship with Newport and Wales over the months and years to come.”

Daish’s Holidays doubles turnover but profits remain below pre-pandemic levels: Hotel operator Daish’s Holidays more than doubled its turnover in the year ending 30 September 2022 but its profits remain below pre-pandemic levels. Its turnover increased from £14,812,129 in 2021 to £29,183,521. This compares with £19,740,065 in the last full year before covid, ending 30 September 2019. Its pre-tax profit rose slightly from £641,670 in 2021 to £765,871 but still lags behind the 2019 figure of £830,327. The company received £43,170 in government grants (2021: £3,143,970) and £21,000 in insurance claims (2021: nil). Dividends of £437,070 were paid (2021: £601,708). It reported costs of £3,978 relating to a fire at the Claremont Hotel in Eastbourne in November 2019 (2021: £40,959). Director George Brown, in his statement accompanying the accounts, said: “The financial year saw a return to trading uninterrupted by covid restrictions, although the legacy affected first quarter and second quarter trading, and we also now face other challenges from the fallout of these restrictions, with inflation, rising interest rates and continuing staff shortages. As such, the main challenge to the business is to return the group back to the profitability it used to enjoy pre¬-covid. This remains a challenge given the inflationary and staffing pressures, but the directors continue to strengthen the support teams to ensure we can get back to the levels in the next 18 months and expect to see continued profit improvements next year and beyond.”

Surya Hotels reports turnover exceeds pre-pandemic levels: Surya Hotels, owned by Essex-based Flying Trade Group, exceeded pre-pandemic levels of turnover in the year ending 31 December 2022. Turnover was up from £18,311,643 in 2021 to £24,775,765. This compares with £19,057, 581 in the last full year before covid, ending 31 December 2019. Its pre-tax profit grew from £2,938,170 in 2021 to £3,264,077 (2019: loss of £250,551). Rooms revenue was up 36% and food and beverage revenue up 32%. The company received £80,000 in government grants compared with £1,184,170 in 2021. Director Harjit Dulai, in his statement accompanying the accounts, said: “The hotels and leisure business suffered a significant setback with the coronavirus pandemic from 2020 to early part of 2022. However, the industry appears to be out of the impact of the same in later part of 2022 and the lingering impact of the pandemic has appeared to settle. The business continued its refurbishment and improvement programme across the Dragon Fly Hotels brand and Hogs Back Spa, investing significant sums to ensure a high standard is maintained.” The company operates 13 hotels across Suffolk, Hertfordshire, Surrey, Norfolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire, including four under its Dragonfly brand.

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