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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Tue 1st Aug 2023 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Horler – I think there is potential to have more than 80 Ego sites across the UK, trading ahead of budget: James Horler, founder of the Mitchells & Butlers (M&B)-owned Ego brand, has told Propel he believes there is potential to have more than 80 sites across the UK. Ego currently operates 26 sites, with a further three set to be added before the end of this year. Horler told Propel: “We've had conversations about the potential size of the business. I mean, it's not something I am focused on because we only have 26 currently. Do I think we can have 80 sites in the UK? Absolutely, no question. I think there is huge capacity for Ego across the UK. Over the next 12 months growth will be within our current geography, and I want to focus on developing our people ready for a greater speed of expansion. And then the following year, we will push on and that will bring us into the south east, the south coast and then potentially into Scotland. We've got two sites in Wales that trade very well, so we could definitely do more there. What really matters is our ability to deliver the correct experience and this takes time, nurturing, support, mentoring and lots more. It takes us three months to become comfortable with an opening. The challenge going forward is how we maintain our culture while benefiting from the significant support from M&B. It is very important we retain that.” The next opening will be The Wyke Lion, near Bradford, which is due to open in August. It will be followed by the Flying Fox in Woburn, near Milton Keynes, which is scheduled to open at the end of September. Horler said: “We have another site that we've agreed terms and should open before the end of November. Then we have pretty much agreed to five sites to take us through until September 2024, all of which will be conversions.” Sales for the year to 26 March 2023 stood at £44,104,038 (2022: £38,753,089), with Ebitda of £4,413,000 (2022: £6,476,152). Pre-tax profit stood at £2,776,663 (2022: £4,971,434). Horler said: “The Ebitda figure is behind the previous year because of utilities and rates. The business is debt free and has just been building cash, which is up to circa £6m. And on top of that we have the Ego Club, which has 600,000 members and gives us a small competitive advantage to drive footfall at times we need it.” In terms of current trading, Horler said: “The business was a little soft when we had the good weather in May and June, and then we have had very strong trading for the last few weeks, which has kept us ahead of budget.”

Industry News:

Dishoom to speak at Propel Talent & Training Conference, open for bookings: Nina Panayiodou and Andrew O’Callaghan, operations director and people director from Dishoom, will be among the speakers at the Propel Talent & Training Conference. The all-day conference takes place on Tuesday, 3 October at One Moorgate Place in London and is open for bookings. Panayiodou and O’Callaghan will talk to Sixty Eight People’s Abi Dunn about the culture that everyone is talking about. The conference will showcase examples of outstanding people culture among companies within the sector and how the industry is attracting talent. For the full speaker schedule, click here. Tickets are £295 plus VAT for operators and £395 plus VAT for suppliers and can be booked by emailing

Three days to go before next edition of The New Openings Database release, to show details of 108 new sites, 6,000-word report included: The next edition of The New Openings Database will show the details of 108 newly announced site openings and upcoming launches for Premium subscribers when it is published on Friday (4 August), 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 café brands, niche cuisine, and expanding experiential concepts. Premium subscribers will also receive a 6,000-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. This month, Propel will launch the UK Food and Beverage Franchisee Database – the first time that profiles of 100 of the top food and beverage franchisees have been available in one place in the UK. The go-to database, which features many of the big franchise operators running Costa Coffee, McDonald’s and Domino’s sites, brings together a wealth of information on an increasingly important part of the market, and the first edition will feature more than 32,000 words of content. The sixth major database exclusive to Premium subscribers, it will be sent out bi-monthly, including new entries and updates to existing entries. The companies, listed in alphabetical order, will have their most recent results reported as well as broader information around the company’s background, site numbers and board make-up. 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 being given exclusive access to the recording and slides to Propel Multi-Club Conferences. They 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. 

Sector NPS increases by average of six points in first half of 2023 with all sector parts seeing rise: Net promoter scores (NPS) have increased by an average of six points in the first half of 2023 compared with last year, with all parts of the sector having seen a rise, according to new research by guest feedback service, Feed It Back. Competitive socialising and fast casual led the way with ten point increases to reach 73 and 60 respectively with casual dining seeing a nine point rise to 63. Pub dining was up five points to 61, bars and premium casual both saw a four point increase to 75 and 66 respectively, while all-day dining was up three points to 61. The industry score increased six points to 64. Feed It Back’s analysis of 1.5 million pieces of guest feedback also highlighted significant improvements in speed of service, which was previously the most common area of guest complaints during the first half of last year. The research indicated order accuracy and staff attitude are two crucial factors that significantly harm the NPS. Additionally, 25% of guests who raised concerns about bill handling registered as “passive” on the NPS. After analysing demographic data and feedback metrics, Feed It Back observed guests with a focus on family are more difficult to satisfy, scoring lower on NPS for family-related occasions and celebrations. Specifically, when it comes to celebrations, the NPS in casual dining was only 36 over a six-month period, while bars and competitive socialising scored much higher at 71 and 70, respectively. Looking at dish level detail, Feed It Back's product rating has seen an increase of 7.5% compared with last year, with an average score of 90% based on 1.8 million product ratings. Premium casual establishments are leading the industry in terms of rating (92%). Lunch dishes in the industry have an average score of 95%. The pub dining sector has the lowest dish rating, with an average score of 85%. Sunday roasts were the biggest issue for this sector in terms of product quality. 

Restaurant groups' delivery and takeaway sales return to year-on-year growth as price rises drive increase: Delivery and takeaway sales at Britain’s leading managed restaurant groups in June were 4% ahead of the same month in 2022, CGA by NIQ’s latest Hospitality at Home Tracker shows. It is the first year-on-year growth in the tracker since late 2021, following 18 consecutive negative months in the wake of the post-covid reopening of restaurants. Delivery and takeaway/click and collect sales were up by 2% and 7% respectively in June. However, growth in the delivery channel was driven by increased menu prices, with order volumes falling 8% year-on-year. With inflation as measured by the Consumer Prices Index standing at nearly 8%, combined sales were down on June 2022 in real terms. The tracker shows deliveries and takeaways accounted for 14% of managed restaurant groups’ total sales in June – substantially down from the figure of 24% in 2022. Food took a 90% share of at-home sales while drinks had a 10% split – a slight increase from 8% last year. Karl Chessell, CGA’s business unit director – hospitality operators and food, EMEA, said: “After a surge in delivery and takeaway sales during covid and a steady decline after the end of lockdowns, the balance of eating-out and ordering-in is finally settling down. Steady growth of in-restaurant sales has been positive for managed groups, but the return to year-on-year increases in delivery and takeaway channels is now welcome too. However, the ongoing drop in order volumes is a sign that consumers are keeping a close eye on their spending, and real-terms growth is likely to remain challenging until household bills ease.”

BBPA – beer tax rises to cost industry £225m extra a year: UK brewers and pubs have pleaded with the government “no more costs”, as they prepare for costs increases from today (Tuesday, 1 August), as beer duty reaches the highest level ever. From today brewers will pay 10.1% more tax on bottles and cans of beer, meaning tax will make up around 30% of the cost of a 500ml bottle, the British Beer & Pub Association claimed. Duty paid on draught beer in pubs will be frozen but the tax increase on packaged beer is set to have an impact on both breweries and pubs, with the BBPA saying it will add an extra £225m of costs per year across the industry. The changes, which are being introduced as part of wider reforms announced in 2021, simplify the regime so that duty paid on all alcoholic drinks is relative to their strength (ABV). The move is part of the government's plan to incentivise the production of lower-strength alcoholic drinks, with products qualifying for the new lower rate of duty now being anything less than 3.5%, up from 2.8% in the previous system. The BBPA said the new system is a positive step forward, but with other cost increases showing no signs of let up, pubs and brewers are pleading for government to guarantee an end to price increases and stop further hikes to duty in the future. Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the BBPA, said: “Our duty system was long-overdue reform, to better incentivise the production of lower-strength products and nudge consumers towards them. This is a very welcome change for our industry that will help to generate even more variety and greater innovation in our sector, as is the freeze for draught beer to support pubs. But brewers don't just supply draught products, they package beer in bottles and cans, so the 10.1% duty increase will have a huge impact, and overall will likely lead to costs going up across the whole category.”

Developers flout pub protection regulations in third of closures, pub stock increases: A third of pub losses happen without the required planning permission, according to new research. The data – published as part of the Campaign for Real Ale’s (CAMRA) biennial pub closure figures – shows a total of 95 pubs lost to conversion or demolition across the UK in the first six months of the year, with 31 of those lacking planning permission. Pubs in England cannot be converted or demolished without planning permission. A further 772 were classed as “long-term closed”, equivalent to 30 pubs a week, and by far the highest figures CAMRA said it had seen since it started producing comparable figures in 2021. But CAMRA found that despite 95 pubs being demolished or converted, a total of 127 new ones had opened – slightly increasing the UK's pub stock. These figures come as calls mount for the government to change its plans for High Street Rental Auctions. Pitched as a regeneration scheme, these auctions would see developers gain the ability to gut and convert vacant pubs without the need to apply for planning permission. CAMRA pub and club campaigns director Gary Timmins said: “We believe if local planning authorities are not able to apply pub protections as set out in legislation, then government in Westminster must step in to provide clearer guidance. These are national policies in England and yet the variation that our campaigners see between councils with the strongest pub protection policies, and those that view pubs as an inconvenience, is shocking. We are also calling on the Welsh government to urgently introduce and enforce planning protections for pubs in Wales – and for the Scottish government to end the current loophole where pubs can be demolished without planning permission.”

Company set up to administer Scotland’s deposit return scheme went into administration with debts of more than £86m: The company set up to administer Scotland’s deposit return scheme (DRS) had debts and liabilities of more than £86m when it fell into administration. Circularity Scotland, a not-for-profit company funded by the drinks industry, called in administrators in June. Companies House documents show it had liabilities of £86.2m and assets of £2.1m. The Scottish government is bracing itself for millions of pounds of compensation claims from companies left out of pocket, including thousands of drinks producers and retailers, with taxpayers on the hook. More than 60 staff lost their jobs when the company folded, following the decision to delay the DRS until at least October 2025 in order to bring it in line with a planned date for a UK-wide scheme. The Scottish government blamed Westminster’s refusal to allow glass in the scheme for the latest delay, accusing the Conservatives of sinking Scotland’s DRS and undermining devolution. However, the UK government said the delay was entirely the decision of ministers in Edinburgh, who failed to design the scheme properly. The Companies House documents showed Biffa is the largest creditor with a liability of £65m. The company was contracted to provide logistics for the DRS. The Scottish government said Circularity Scotland was always intended to be industry-led and it would not be covering the debts.

Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with an award-winning business that is searching for a general manager for its key site in the north of England. A COREcruitment spokesperson said: “You will be responsible for running a modern bar/restaurant. This venue is in a setting with many different moving components under one roof. The venue has been open for two years and is still gaining great reviews. The operation’s weekly sales can hit about £100,000/150,000 depending on the time of year. The business has a collection of venues in its portfolio and offers clear career progression.” The salary is up to £90,000 and the position is based in Manchester. For more information, email 

Company News:

Boston Tea Party – traded well over last quarter, expects ever more interesting opportunities to materialise: Paul Hooker, chief operating officer of all-day dining casual cafe brand Boston Tea Party, has told Propel that the 25-strong business traded well over the last quarter, and when it comes to expansion opportunities, it expects “ever more interesting opportunities to materialise”. Last week, Propel reported the company said team stability was key to its sales recovery as it saw net sales increase 71% to £22.8m in the year to 19 October 2022 (2021: £13.3m). Hooker said: “We have traded well over the last quarter with July being particularly strong. We are ahead of expectations for sales and ahead of budgeted profit year to date. The summer holidays are looking positive and we are well set up to maximise this period with very few team vacancies and our lowest ever team turnover. The overall economic picture remains uncertain and we continue to face food supply issues and inflationary effects which we are working hard to mitigate. Consumer confidence and the cost-of-living crisis continues to be a concern but we are focused on delivering a consistently excellent customer experience at each café that means customers keep coming back. Our team makes the difference and are the reason our customers come and we continue to invest in staff through our focus on culture, leadership and development.” On what expansion will look like over the next 12 months, Hooker said: “We remain vigilant, looking to develop opportunities that suit our proposition, especially in more affluent community focused locations. As the economic backdrop continues to deteriorate, we expect ever more interesting opportunities to materialise, especially from landlords looking for a differentiated daytime footfall driving offer. The shareholders remain positive about future growth opportunities and are well positioned to take advantage of the improving trading environment and investment in growing the business.” Boston Tea Party features in the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book. Its turnover of £22.8m is the 285th 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 £895 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.

Rudy’s eyes third opening in London: Mission Mars is looking to further strengthen the openings pipeline for its Rudy’s pizza Napoletana brand in London, with its sights set on an opening in Fitzrovia. Propel understands that Rudy’s has lined up an opening at 53-54 Tottenham Court Road. Earlier this month, Propel revealed Rudy’s, which made its London debut in spring 2021, in Wardour Street, Soho, had secured a site in Montacute Yards, in Shoreditch High Street, for an opening later this year. Mission Mars opened its third Birmingham site under its Rudy’s brand, earlier this month, 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. Joshua Rose, of Raven Rose, acts for Mission Mars.

Chickpea Group lines up further opening in Wiltshire: Chickpea Group, which was founded in 2019 by siblings Ethan and Jordan Davids, along with their friend Tommy Tullis, has lined up its sixth pub with rooms opening. The business has acquired the Silver Plough in Pitton, on the outskirts of Salisbury. The pub, which has its own skittle alley, is currently closed for renovation, with a reopening scheduled for late August. As part of a two-phase project, the plan is to then renovate the upstairs and the old skittle alley to form seven bedrooms and work is set to start on these in spring 2024. The renovated site will also feature three large areas for dining inside with space for around 100 covers. In May, Chickpea Group co-founder Ethan Davids told Propel the business was exploring expansion outside of its Wiltshire heartland as “trading is strong and people are buying into what we're trying to do”. The group opened its fifth pub with rooms – the 19th century The Queen’s Head in Broad Chalke – this spring. But the group is now looking at sites “along the A303 line” – which stretches from Hampshire to Devon via Stonehenge. Ethan Davids said. “We’ve been having a look at a few opportunities – we’re looking at one in Somerset and a few in Hampshire. Growing along the A303 line would be operationally quite straightforward. We’re in a strong position at the moment to grow the business, with a few new projects in the pipeline. It’s been organic growth with no outside investors, and we grew a lot through covid.” Ethan Davids is also looking at a couple of sites to potentially add to his Great Boozers vehicle, which currently operates two pubs, in Bath and Salisbury. But he is unlikely to expand Nole, the two-site pizza concept that started as a lockdown project.

Lancashire McDonald’s franchisee falls to loss as costs rise: R&L Restaurants, which operates five McDonald’s sites in Lancashire, has reported turnover fell to £16,137,377 for the year ending 31 December 2022 compared with £17,756,320 the year before. It made a pre-tax loss of £13,700 compared with a profit of £1,152,601 the previous year due to rising costs. Gross profit as a percentage of sales decreased 3.84% due to increased food costs. One store was refurbished during the period. In his report accompanying the accounts, owner Lawrence Hilliker stated: “Sales through digital channels, including McDelivery, mobile and self-order kiosks have increased during the year. However, food cost inflation is at its highest level in more than 40 years and energy costs have continued to increase, which has affected the financial performance of the company. Government support packages such as the 50% business rates relief in the retail and hospitality industry and rent assistance from the franchisor have helped soften the impact. The company will be reviewing its prices to reduce the impact of food cost inflation, while still offering great value and quality.” Net assets stood at £914,219, down by £211,479 from the year before. A dividend of £210,000 was paid (2021: £350,000). Hilliker became a McDonald’s franchisee in 1982.

Tortilla CEO remains ‘quietly confident’ despite investment challenges: The boss of fast-food Mexican chain Tortilla, Richard Morris, has told City AM that soaring costs and a tumultuous two years for restaurants has led the sector to be hit “quite badly” from a lack of investment. Tortilla floated in 2021 on London’s junior AIM market, as part of a five-year expansion plan to double its estate. Morris said since the float it has been “quite challenging” in the public market to get people to invest in Britain’s fast-casual dining scene. “The truth is the restaurant sector has been hit quite badly from an investment perspective, which is understandable,” Morris said. “It has had more headwinds [than] probably most other businesses [such as] utility costs, staffing costs and food costs.” Morris said he has no current plans to take Tortilla private, with the business “quietly confident,” about plans to expand the business into mainland Europe. He said: “We’re very happy where we are. And we still believe we will deliver what we said we were going to deliver.” Tortilla – which also owns 62 sites across the UK – posted revenue of £32.7m during the first part of the year, up 22% compared with last year. Morris credited the lift to new store openings, and “happy hour” promotional deals for late-night diners. This year the business has opened five new stores in London, as demand for lunchtime meals picks up as workers return to the office, “London has been incredibly resilient during all these challenging times,” Morris said. He added he was keen to further expand Tortilla’s presence in northern and southern Ireland – recently opening its first store in Belfast.

Coco Di Mama co-founder ends advisory role with Big Table Group: Daniel Land, the co-founder of Italian food-to-go brand Coco di Mama, has ended his advisory role with the Big Table Group, the Las Iguanas, Bella Italia and Café Rouge operator, after helping it develop and launch its pasta delivery brand, Super Nonna. Propel revealed last year that Land, who founded Coco Di Mama in 2011 with Jeremy Sanders, was working with Big Table Group on its pasta delivery options. Coco Di Mama grew to six sites in London before it was acquired by Azzurri Group, the Zizzi and ASK Italian owner, in 2015 for an undisclosed sum. Land left the business two years later. From his work with Big Table Group, the Alan Morgan-led business launched its delivery brand Super Nonna, which it expects to have rolled out to more than 70 sites by the end of this summer. The launch of a standalone Super Nonna site hasn’t also been ruled out. Propel understands Land is now looking to take up a wider consultancy role in the sector. Morgan told Propel: “Dan was contracted to help us create a new pasta delivery brand – Super Nonna – and roll it out. That initial piece of work has now concluded and we’re very happy with the results so far. Dan’s contract has ended, however we’re sure there will be opportunities to work with him again in the future, either if we decide to develop a physical Super Nonna site, or on other projects.”

John Fowler Holidays reports demand for 2024 ‘remains strong’, looking to add further sites: West Country holiday park operator John Fowler Holidays has said demand for 2024 “remains strong” and is looking to add further sites to its 12-strong portfolio. It comes as the business reported turnover increased to £35,933,558 for the year ending 31 October 2022 compared with £33,166,616 the previous year. Ebitda, excluding head office, was down to £9,366,488 from £12,327,468 the year before. Pre-tax profit was down to £5,301,425 from £9,717,972 the previous year. In their statement accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “While trading for the year was strong, results also reflect some one-off benefits from government measures to assist with the effects of covid, including a lower rate of VAT on advance bookings. Some costs have been assisted over the period by grants on wages and business rates, and the benefits from a successful claim for an overpayment on gaming machine duty. Conversely, following the introduction of new tariffs, energy costs increased by almost £300,000 in the last quarter. Demand for 2024 holidays remains strong, and advance bookings compare favourably with those of the previous season. It is evident the British holiday park market continues to be a robust and successful business sector, and we continually seek opportunities to expand our business and add new locations.” The business received government grants of £60,000 (2021: £534,200). No dividend was paid (2021: nil). The company operates six sites in Cornwall, three in Devon, two in Somerset and one in Wales.

EL&N to double up in France: Cafe and lifestyle brand EL&N, which made its debut in Asia earlier this month, is to open a second site in France. The business will open a second site in Paris this week, at Carrousel du Louvre, with the company describing it as being its “most iconic store opening yet”. The brand made its debut in France last year, with an opening on the fourth floor at the Galeries Lafayette department store in the French capital. The group’s debut site in Malaysia, opened in the Pavilion Mall, Kuala Lumpur. At the same time, it opened its second site in Italy, and second in Milan, at the Piazza Gae Aulenti. The second site in Paris will be its 32nd opening overall. Last month, the brand opened its first store in Bahrain, at The Avenues Mall. In the spring, the business signed a franchise partnership agreement to launch in India. It agreed a franchise deal with Reliance Brands to open sites in the country, which will become its eighth market globally. In February, EL&N, which operates ten sites in London, signed a deal with Lagardère Travel Retail to launch franchise sites in travel locations. The business, which was founded in 2017 by Alexandra Miller, is set to strengthen its regional UK estate with an opening in Birmingham’s Bullring. 

Heineken profits decline as drinkers baulk at higher prices: Heineken has reported a decline in first-half profits as drinkers were put off by higher prices. The brewer said its sales volumes fell 5.4% in the first half, including a 7.6% in the second quarter, hit by “the cumulative effect of pricing actions”. Revenue climbed 6.3% to €17.4bn in the first half but operating profit fell 22% to €1.6bn as the business absorbed higher input and energy costs, spent more on marketing and recorded an impairment on its Russia business. Underlying operating profit fell by 8.8% to €1.94bn, which the brewing giant said was partially due to the fact it was among the first to hike its prices. On average, its prices were up by 11.8%, with the most significant increases in Europe where inflation is highest. Heineken said pressure on prices should ease next year, as “the unprecedented commodity and energy cost inflation in recent years will be partially reversed”. Alongside the impact of price rises, Heineken also underperformed in Asia, due to an economic slowdown in the region. Volume in Europe performed “broadly in line” with its expectations for the first six months, gaining or holding market share in more than half of its markets.

Cocktail bar brand Kuckoo lines up fifth site: North west rock ‘n’ roll cocktail bar concept Kuckoo has lined up a fifth opening, in Warrington. The concept, which was founded in 2010 by Richard Powell, will open in the town’s Palmyra Square and will be based in The Treasury Building in the former site of Institution Bar. It will become the town’s first “dedicated rock ‘n’ roll cocktail bar” when it opens in late September. Powell said: “Warrington has never seen a bar with such a single-minded view to cocktail making before. The dedicated staff are trained to the highest level and have a passion for excellent customer service as well as creating fun and fantastic tasting cocktails. The refurbishment will create a glamorous, feel-good atmosphere that sets Kuckoo apart from the competition.” Four years ago, the business acquired three sites from Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars, two in Preston and one in Knutsford. Kuckoo was the tenant at all three sites. It also operates sites in Chester and Sheffield.

Zizzi eyes further retail growth as it invests in frozen meal range: Azzurri Group-owned Zizzi is planning to expand its at-home frozen meal range with investment in its in-house team, a programme of new products this autumn and quality improvements. Zizzi at Home sold more than three million units in its first 12 months in Tesco, with its most popular product its Zizzi Rustica Piccante Pepperoni Pizza. Its plant-based products make up more than 12% of overall sales. Zizzi debuted at-home frozen rustica pizza in Sainsbury’s in 2020, expanding the range to include pasta dishes, which were launched in Tesco in March 2022. Zizzi has invested in several product improvements, including balancing the ratio of sauce to pasta, and reducing the calories and saturated fat in its frozen pasta meals. It has also enhanced the prebaking time of its Rustica pizza bases and introduced more browning on the base, so it more closely replicates the restaurant version. Harry Heeley, managing director at Zizzi Restaurants and Azzurri Group said; “Our Zizzi at Home range is relatively new to market, but we’re heartened that shoppers have embraced its quality and value for money. We are committed to expanding our range with a raft of new products and additional listings to enable our restaurant and takeaway customer to experience Zizzi in more places. We took the step to bring the brand in-house and move away from a licensed model of production. We have huge expertise in-house and this is enabling us to strengthen our offer and laser-focus on innovation.”

Popeyes confirms Manchester site, says ‘most recent openings have been some of biggest to date’: Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, the US fried chicken quick-service brand, has confirmed it will open its first site in Manchester later this year, as it said that its most recent openings have been “some of the biggest to date, not just in the UK but for Popeyes globally”. The new Manchester site will be situated in the city’s Piccadilly Gardens, and will mark the brand's 15th opening in 2023, and the chain's 32nd opening since debuting in the UK in November 2021. It will seat up to 67 people for dine-in, with 32 seats outside. Tom Crowley, chief executive at Popeyes UK, said: “Manchester has been a key location for us since we first landed in the UK, and we're looking forward to bringing the spirit of New Orleans to Piccadilly Gardens. Our most recent openings have been some of the biggest to date, not just in the UK but for Popeyes globally. After many requests for a Popeyes UK in Manchester, we are confident the new restaurant will be just as popular.” Recent openings for the brand include sites in Richmond, Woolwich, Northampton and Plymouth. Propel also understands the brand plans to open a drive-thru site in Manchester, in Bury Road, Salford, opposite an existing Tim Hortons site. Propel revealed earlier this month that the brand was lining up a first opening in central Glasgow. Propel understands that Popeyes is looking to open on the former Tower Records site in the city’s Argyle Street. Popeyes has also been linked with opening a drive-thru site at the Barrhead Retail Park, on the outskirts of the city.

Barons Eden undergoes refinancing after ‘strong’ year: Barons Eden, the luxury hotel and spa group, has undergone a refinancing as it reported a “strong” year with its first full 12 months of trading since the covid pandemic. Revenue at the group, which operates Hoar Cross Hall in Burton-on-Trent and Eden Hall in Newark, increased to £29,123,704 for the year ending 31 December 2022 compared with £18,797,322 the year before. Turnover also exceeded the £20,104,201 reported for the year ending 31 July 2019 – the last full year before the covid pandemic. Ebitda increased to £5,619,302 from £2,658,951 the previous year (2019: £2.7m). Pre-tax profit was up to £3,991,154 from £240,285 the year before (2019: loss of £1,930,262). The company also entered into new energy contracts in April 2023 that has brought costs down “from the historic highs of the winter”, but are still twice the rate seen prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In his report accompanying the accounts, director Edward Law stated: “Investment in capital expenditure continued with the refurbishment of existing properties. Key projects included construction of a new spa garden at Eden Hall that has added a 20-metre outdoor hydrotherapy pool, new restaurant, saunarium and relaxation lounge and the completion of a biomass heating solution at Hoar Cross Hall that went live in December 2022 at a total cost of £1.5m. This will reduce carbon emissions for heating by up to 95% and remove reliance of kerosene as the principle source of heating. The company completed a refinancing of all facilities with its banking partner Santander in June 2023 for a further three-year period. The new facility will make an additional £5m available to the group to finance capital projects.” No government grants were received (2021: £1,136,693). A dividend of £1.2m was paid (2021: nil).

Team behind Taka and Maru gears up to launch bakery concept: The team behind London restaurants Taka and Maru is gearing up to open its new bakery concept in Notting Hill. As revealed by Propel last summer, Hachi will be a new Japanese bakery from Andrey Datsenko. It will open on the former American Dry Cleaners site at 11 Blenheim Crescent on Friday (4 August). Beyond a traditional bakery, Hachi will offer “a unique experience, delivering premium loaf bread, imbued with a refined Japanese spirit, in the heart of London”. Datsenko opened Maru, which is led by executive chef Taiji Maruyama, in Shepherd Market, Mayfair, last year. Datsenko and his sister Anastasia are also behind Japanese restaurant Taka in Marylebone Village. Hachi is now looking for its second site in London, ideally in Marylebone. Tom Richards, of ARC, acts for Hachi.

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