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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Thu 17th Aug 2023 - Loungers appoints Lucy Knowles as new Cosy Club MD
Loungers appoints Lucy Knowles as new Cosy Club MD: Cafe bar operator Loungers has appointed Lucy Knowles as the new managing director of its Cosy Club brand. Knowles previously held the same role at London bar chain Corney & Barrow, later joining SSP, the operator of food and beverage outlets in travel locations worldwide, as group marketing director. During her time at SSP, Knowles led brand and menu innovation for over 150 brands and innovated several new global brand concepts. She will join Loungers in September, replacing Amber Wood, who Propel recently revealed had left to become New World Trading Company’s new chief operating officer. Nick Collins, Loungers’ chief executive, said: “I am delighted to welcome Lucy to the Loungers team. Lucy’s impressive operational and leadership expertise alongside her wealth of experience in branding, food and concept evolution, will bring a huge amount of value to our team. Cosy Club is well placed as we continue to open new sites and out-perform the market, and I am excited for the future of the brand under Lucy’s leadership.” Loungers operates 235 sites across the UK including 197 Lounges, 35 Cosy Clubs and three Brightside restaurants. It has ambitions to open at least 30 sites a year across its brand portfolio and recently announced its latest Cosy Club will be opening in Oxford in early October, as part of the city’s Northgate House development. Earlier this month, the group opened the third site under its fledgling roadside diner concept Brightside. Last month, the business said it now sees scope for at least 600 Lounges across the UK, which is up from its previous 400-site suggestion. Loungers features in Propel’s Who’s Who of UK Food and Beverage, the latest edition of which will be sent to Premium subscribers tomorrow (Friday, 18 August), at midday. This month’s edition will feature 64 updated entries and 12 new companies, bringing its total to 726 companies. Listed in alphabetical order, each 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. 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.
Calls for government to allow pubs early beer service on Sunday for Women’s World Cup final: Trade bodies and operators have called on the government to allow pub to serve beers early on Sunday as fans look to cheer on England in the Women’s World Cup final. The Lionesses will take on Spain in Sydney at 11am GMT, looking to be crowned world champions for the first time. Pubs have the ability to open their doors early but, under current regulations, most are only likely to be able to sell alcoholic drinks from 11am on Sundays. The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) wants all pubs to be able to provide full service from 10am in recognition of the England team’s historic achievement. BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin said: “As England enter their first World Cup Final since 1966, we need the government to step in and allow the necessary regulatory easement to allow pubs to serve the public from 10am on final day, so fan and communities can come together and cheer the Lionesses to victory at the best place to watch live sport, the pub.” UK Hospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “We’ve seen venues already make a huge effort for the Women’s World Cup and we expect that to go even further this Sunday, which will inevitably lead to a boost for hospitality businesses.” Alun Cairns MP, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group, said: “I have raised the issue with the home secretary directly, who is looking in to see what is possible.” Chris Jowsey, chief executive of Admiral Taverns, added: “We urge the prime minister to allow pubs to open at 10am on Sunday to support our Lionesses and bring communities together to cheer on the team.” Clive Watson, chair of the City Pub company, said: “It would be great if the government could relax the licensing laws. It’s not just about pubs selling more pints, it’s bringing everyone together to cheer the Lionesses on.” Boxpark said 2,500 tickets were sold in just eight minutes across its sites in Shoreditch, Wembley and Croydon after the team confirmed its place at the final.

Midlands MP calls for new law to protect historic pubs following Crooked House blaze: A Midlands MP has called for a new law to protect historic pubs following the blaze and subsequent demolition of the Crooked House by its new owners. The pub, in Himley, West Midlands, burned down on 5 August and was demolished without permission on 7 August, with Staffordshire Police treating the fire as arson. The historic site, known as Britain’s wonkiest pub, was sold by Marston’s to a private buyer two weeks prior to the fire. At a public meeting on Wednesday, Dudley North MP Marcus Longhi told an audience of more than 100 people that he was pushing for a new “Crooked House law”, reports the Daily Mail. He said he was committed to taking the issue to parliament and to Michael Gove, secretary of state for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, when MPs return from summer recess next month. He added: “I don’t believe our current legislative framework is strong enough. You have my cast iron guarantee that when Parliament is back in session, I will be knocking on Michael Gove’s door. I would love to see, in future, a Crooked House law. It is important we make a change in the law. Our historic pubs and buildings are not protected adequately. We need to change what we have in place now so the risk of what has already happened happening again is zero. Developers, and I’m not necessarily talking specifically about this case, may feel they can get away with it, but you have my assurance I will be pursuing this every day until we get that changed.”

Decaying Oxford Street risks becoming blueprint for Britain’s high streets: Oxford Street’s decline risks becoming the blueprint for Britain’s high streets if ministers fail to support regeneration efforts, retail chiefs have warned. The Telegraph writes that a report authored by the Retail Sector Council, whose members include the chief executives of Sainsbury’s, Boots and Primark, urged ministers to support the industry by reforming competition law and levelling the playing field between online retailers and bricks-and-mortar stores. Richard Pennycook, the former Co-op chief executive and co-chairman of the council, said more towns and cities were at risk of becoming “wastelands” because of a lack of incentives for retailers to invest in stores. Pennycook, who is also the former chairman of department store Fenwick, said the government needed to be “very mindful” of encouraging regeneration on Britain’s high streets. He said: “If we don’t incentivise regeneration, then these places are getting hollowed out. Perhaps a sort of secondary benefit of the current discussion around Oxford Street is that it brings it closer to home.  What are we collectively going to do about that? The last five years in Chester, Northampton, pretty much any large town in the UK, this has been going on.” Its report said the rise of online shopping meant retailers were deciding to close stores, which then meant shopping centres became less attractive places to visit. This in turn encouraged more consumers to go online or to larger shopping centres further afield, it said. The report added: “This is the vicious spiral faced by many towns and high streets – the more stores that close, the more stores that are likely to close.” It highlights how the government could step in, including by levelling the playing field between online and bricks and mortar retailers on tax, reforming planning rules which lead retail units to remain vacant rather than be repurposed, and relaxing competition law to allow retailers to collaborate on sustainability.

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