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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Wed 30th Aug 2023 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Insomnia Cookies UK MD – our ambition is to have a national presence: Ben Lacey, UK managing director of Insomnia Cookies, which launched here this week, has told Propel that the brand’s ambition is to have a “national presence across the UK including every major city and town, as well as London”. The Krispy Kreme-owned late-night bakery brand is making its UK debut with a double opening in Manchester. As revealed by Propel last year, Insomnia Cookies has opened in the city’s Royal Exchange in Cross Street with a site at the city’s University Green following later this week. Both sites will deliver warm cookies across the city until 3am. On its potential in the UK and why the brand has decided now is the right time to enter the market here, Lacey said: “Our ambition is to have a national presence across the UK including every major city and town, as well as London. We have started with Manchester due to the strong fit with the brand, particularly the late-night economy and dense student population and will be expanding to cities that fit those criteria next. There’s nothing else like an Insomnia Cookies available in the UK. Our consumer research shows an overwhelming preference for an Insomnia Cookie versus anything else out there today. While the consumer environment may be tough, I believe there will always be demand for exceptional products. Insomnia Cookies offer customers an affordable way to indulge in a unique sweet treat.” In terms of what type of locations the brand is looking at, Lacey said: “Our requirements are that stores are in a high-footfall area (particularly for late-night traffic), and are well suited for delivery (radius and access – we will have our own employed fleet of delivery drivers delivering orders to customers up to 3am). We will be looking at city centre and suburban locations across target geographies. Our stores have a fairly small footprint (800 to 1,200 square-foot is the sweet spot) and we don’t need extraction so can be flexible on the types of units we take.” The brand was founded by US entrepreneurs Seth Berkowitz and Jared Barnett while they were students at the University of Pennsylvania. Opening its debut site in upstate New York, it now has circa 230 sites across the US and was acquired by Krispy Kreme in 2018. Insomnia Cookies made its entry into the Canadian market this month, in the Greater Toronto area. As well as cookies, it offers cookie-based shakes, ice cream, brownies and ice cream sandwiches.

Industry News:

Variety of exclusive benefits available for Propel Premium subscribers: A variety of exclusive benefits are available for Propel Premium subscribers, including six comprehensive databases: the Multi-Site Database, which is produced in association with Virgate; the New Openings Database; the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book; the UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database; the Who’s Who of UK Food and Beverage; and the new 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, was sent out to Premium subscribers for the first time this month. It brings together a wealth of information on an increasingly important part of the market, and the first edition features 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. 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. 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.
 
Dame Karen Jones to speak at Propel Talent & Training Conference, open for bookings: Dame Karen Jones, chair of Hawksmoor and Mowgli, 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. Dame Karen will talk to James McLuckie, group chief learning officer at Mapal, about what the sector does right when it comes to finding and nurturing talent, and also what it could do better. 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 hereTickets are £295 plus VAT for operators and £395 plus VAT for suppliers and can be booked by emailing kai.kirkman@propelinfo.com.
 
BBPA – bank holiday boosts pub sales but staff shortages continue to dampen economic potential: UK pubs benefited from a sales boost over the bank holiday with around 57 million pints poured, according to the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA). But five million more, worth £22m, could have been sold if many weren’t battling with staff shortages, the trade body said. The BBPA said with staff shortages currently holding back many pubs from fulfilling their full potential, revenue across the long weekend was likely down around 8% as a result. A recent cross-industry survey conducted by the BBPA, British Institute of Innkeeping, Hospitality Ulster and UKHospitality showed 61% of hospitality businesses are currently experiencing staff shortages, with 42% reducing opening hours on weekends due to a lack of team members. For more than two years, hospitality has had the highest vacancy rate of any sector, with the most recent Office for National Statistics figures showing the UK’s average vacancy rate is at 3.2%, with hospitality almost 2% higher than that at 5.1%. With £1.6bn usually generated by the industry in tax for the treasury across the whole of the summer season, the BBPA is calling on the government to take action to solve the staffing crisis to allow pubs to unlock their full economic potential. BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin said: “We urgently need to make changes to the youth mobility scheme and widening the shortage occupation list, because brilliant pubs thrive on brilliant people, and we need more of them to reach our full economic potential.”
 
COREcruitment to host female leaders networking event: COREcruitment will hold its next female leaders networking event on Tuesday, 12 September at the White Space in London’s Borough from 3pm-6pm. COREcruitment has partnered with Ministry Venues for this “inspire and empower” edition, where they will be joined by Lizzie Ryan-Podbury, partner at Imbiba; Lisa Buckley, chief executive at Leisure TV Rights; and Julie Fawcett, executive chair at House of Gods Hotel. Tickets can be reserved here or by emailing elouise@corecruitment.com.
 
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a hospitality, travel company that has destinations throughout the world and is seeking a head of business intelligence. A COREcruitment spokesperson said: “You will have a background in hotels, resorts or the travel sector. Candidates can only be currently based in UK, USA, Canada, Germany, Spain, and Mexico due to employment law.” The salary is up to £160,000 and the position can be remote, depending on location. For more information, email Hayley@corecruitment.com.
 

Company News:

Coffee#1 MD – there is great potential for the brand in the UK: Bruce Newman, managing director of Coffee#1, the Caffe Nero-owned business, has told Propel that he feels there is “great potential” for the brand in the UK, on the back of enjoying “strong and successful growth in the post pandemic period”. Last week, the 113-strong business said its rate of new openings had now returned to the level seen prior to the pandemic, as it reported a strong sales performance in the three months to 31 May 2023. Newman said all its new store openings were performing well and being well received by customers. He told Propel: “We have just opened a new store in Yate, South Gloucestershire, which brings us to 12 stores in the Bristol area, and we will open our next in Cwmbran on 8 September. I think there is significant opportunity to expand at the edge of our current geography, including the East Midlands, Home Counties, north to suburban Manchester and, potentially, Cornwall.” In terms of the pace of that expansion, Newman said: “We are looking for consistent year-on-year growth. We are currently targeting around 12 openings during our year, but we could look to increase that if the right sites in the right locations become available. It’s important we retain the character of the brand, and we choose the locations that we feel are the right fit for us and where we can be a strong part of the community. I’m pleased with how our growth and performance is going and feel positive about the year ahead.”
 
Buttermilk fried chicken restaurant concept Wingers launches franchise offer with ambitions to open 50 UK sites: Buttermilk fried chicken restaurant concept Wingers has launched as a franchise with ambitions to open 50 sites across the UK. The concept was originally set up during the pandemic by business-minded brothers Amran and Dylan Sunner, with the help of their dad Bill. Supported by a team of experienced quick service restaurant franchise professionals ready to drive expansion, Wingers already has five restaurants trading in the Midlands with ten more franchised outlets set to open soon. Amran Sunner said: “The idea to create a fresh buttermilk fried chicken restaurant chain was hatched long ago. It’s exciting to launch the business as a proven franchise opportunity. We are now officially inviting new franchisees to join Wingers and grow their own franchised businesses with the support of our experienced team.” Anthony Round, business development, Wingers, added: “Already we have franchisees wishing to open their second sites and keen to develop into true multi-site operators.” Wingers’ chicken is coated in a range of secret spices and the business said it has already developed a loyal customer base across the Midlands, where it has sites in Aldridge, Hednesford, Lichfield Wolverhampton and Worcester.
 
The Celtic Collection reports turnover exceeds pre-covid levels as it passes £60m, undergoes refinancing: The Celtic Collection, which operates a number of hotels including Celtic Manor, has reported full-year turnover has passed £60m while the company has undergone a refinancing. Revenue increased to £61,146,000 for the year ending 31 December 2022 compared with £41,563,000 the year before and also exceeded the £58,687,000 reported in 2019, the last full year before the covid pandemic. Ebitda was up to £8.1m from £6.6m the previous year. Pre-tax profit rose to £6,324,000 from £1,663,000 the year before (2019: profit of £566,000). In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “The group has renegotiated its loan facilities, through to March 2026, since the year end on favourable terms, including no repayments being due in 2023. The group had net assets at 31 December 2022 of £79.7m (2021: £72.6m). 2022 also saw the group commence its second hotel management contract with the opening of Ty Milford Waterfront.” The company also operates the Coldra Court hotel and Ty Magor Hotel, both in Newport. Average occupancy for the year for the resort hotel was 74% (2021: 50%), with an average room rate of £130 (2021: £135). Total revpar for the resort hotel for the year was £307 (2021: £219). Average occupancy for the Coldra Court hotel was 82% (2021: 73%). with an average room rate of £81 (2021: £77). Average occupancy for the Ty Magor Hotel was 88% (2021: 43'%), with an average room rate of £58 (2021: £63). The company did not receive any government grants (2021: £2.5m). No dividend was paid (2021: nil).
 
Dubai multi-brand operator looking to launch second concept into UK: Dubai multi-brand operator Yolk Brands is looking to launch a second concept into the UK. Propel revealed earlier this month that the business, led by Dorset-born former chef Stephen Flawith, is looking for a franchise partner to launch its fried chicken concept BonBird here, preferably master or area developers taking on a minimum of ten sites each. It is now looking to do the same with Pickl, the gourmet burger concept it launched in 2019 and which has since grown to 15 stores in the UAE and a franchised site in Bahrain. It is due to launch in Qatar later this year, followed by Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait next year, and wants to enter the UK market in 2024 too. “Award-winning Pickl is all about great burgers,” it told whichfranchise. “Not cheap fast food, not elaborate fine dining, just good food people love. We aim to become a globally recognised food spot, serving the freshest burgers, art and culture daily. Our innovation kitchen is home to our great ideas and we are always developing the next greatest burger invention. We are looking to expand the Pickl brand into the UK and looking for experienced operators – a company with franchise experience in any vertical that is looking to establish a food and beverage arm and wants to bring some new and exciting brands to market, or an experienced quick service restaurant food and beverage operator that wants to complement their portfolio.” Yolk Brands said Pickl experienced 250% growth during the pandemic and 100% bottom line year-on-year growth, as well as offering five different proven site layouts. Earlier this year, Yolk acquired gourmet deli and cafe brand 1796, which has five sites in Dubai and the UAE, and speciality coffee roaster The Climbing Goat, which has two sites in Dubai.
 
London pub company takes on Greene King venue for fourth site: London pub company Doolin Rock Pub Company has taken on a Greene King venue for its fourth site. The Acorn in Barking, which has just reopened following a £400,000 investment from Greene King, is Doolin Rock’s first with the brewer and retailer. The pub has new fixtures and fittings to give it a more premium feel, while the beer garden has been transformed to include a tent for year-round use. Colin Coogan and Austin Whelan, co-founders of Doolin Rock Pub Company, said: “We believe this pub has so much untapped potential and we look forward to establishing it as the pub to visit in Barking. We’ve been very encouraged by Greene King’s willingness to invest in the pub and ourselves as proven multiple operators, and this is very much a partnership we hope to expand in the future.” Phil Arnold, operations director for Greene King Pub Partners, added: “Our £400,000 transformational investment in The Acorn has given this pub a new lease of life and exciting future. It is great to be partnering with Colin and Austin – who are experienced and ambitious operators – to help them grow their pub business.” Doolin Rock Pub Company was formed in April 2022 by Coogan, a former Star Pubs & Bars business development manager, and Whelan, a director of fellow London pub operator Whelan’s Pubs. It was founded “with the aim of building an estate of quality, premium local pubs across London and the south east”. Whelan’s, meanwhile, operates ten pubs across the capital, including several with Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars. Whelan told Propel in February he is hoping to add to up to six more pubs by the summer of 2024.
 
Club Mexicana to open in Brixton next month: Club Mexicana, the vegan restaurant concept that offers Mexican and Californian-inspired street food, is set to open its first South London site next month, in Brixton. The Edition Capital-backed business will open a 35-strong taco bar at 14b-c Market Row on Friday, 15 September, for its fourth site overall. As well as its cult tacos, the restaurant will offer a dish unique to the Brixton location alongside frozen margaritas and tequila-based cocktails. Founder Meriel Armitage said: “Our Club Mex fans have been asking us to open something in South London for years now, so I am so excited to be opening our brand new spot in Brixton Market. Even though our roots will always be in East London, I’ve fallen head over heels in love with Brixton and can’t wait for Club Mexicana to be a part of the action in Market Row. Our Brixton taco bar is such a gorgeous spot and how I always imagined Club Mexicana, and I can’t quite believe we’re now launching our fourth site.”

Harrison Leisure UK eyes national expansion after acquiring first site outside north of England: Holiday park operator Harrison Leisure UK is eyeing national expansion after acquiring its first site outside the north of England. The business, which has been operating since 1974, has bought the Cakes & Ale Holiday Park in Suffolk to take its portfolio – which also spans the north west, Cumbria, Yorkshire and Northumberland – to nine sites. Cakes & Ale, in Leiston, has been family-run for decades and includes a 45-acre site made up of 200 owned statics and lodges, 55 touring pitches and three rental cottages. It also offers tennis courts, golf, boules, football goals and a golf practice range. “This is an exciting time for the Harrison Leisure Group,” said William Harrison, director at Harrison Leisure Group. “We are delighted to be taking over Cakes & Ale, which is a wonderful holiday park in beautiful Suffolk that has a strong family ethos, making it the perfect fit. This is also a special moment because it is our first holiday park in the south of England and, as we look forward, we will be continuing to seek opportunities to expand the Harrison offer into other areas of the country.”
 
Massarella Catering Group reports turnover boost but revenue still down by a third on pre-covid levels: Massarella Catering Group, a family-run company that traces its origins to an ice cream business founded in 1864 by Italian émigrés to Sheffield, has reported turnover increased to £19,823,078 for the year ending 31 December 2022 compared with £11,845,498 the previous year. However, revenue remained below the £28,588,658 reported for the year ending 31 December 2019 – the last full year before the covid pandemic. The company – which offers cafes and restaurants in shopping centres, department stores, garden centres and on high street sites – saw Ebitda excluding rates-based government support rise to £1,386,163 from £1,099,096 the year before. Pre-tax profit was down to £792,379 from £1,363,069 the previous year due to increased costs and the end of government support (2019: loss of £88,952). The group owes £791,667 of the £1,800,000 it borrowed through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme that is due to mature in June 2025 (2021: £1,575,000). In their statement accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “The group has continued to adapt to the changing market within the retail and leisure sectors and to manage its portfolio and to operate all its locations. It has managed to build on the success of the trading performance the was achieved in the final quarter of 2021. The group also took advantage of the councils rates incentive and continued to benefit from the governments reduction in VAT for the first quarter 2022. The group has managed to increase its cash reserves to enable it to consider opening new sites when economically viable.” The business did not receive any government grants (2021: £2,615,833). A dividend of £100,000 was paid (2021: nil).
 
Domino’s Pizza Group announces £70m share buyback programme: Domino’s Pizza Group has announced a discretionary programme to purchase up to £70m of the company’s ordinary shares of 25/48p each. The programme will last until 30 June 2024. Domino’s stated: “The purpose of the programme is to reduce the company’s share capital, and accordingly, the company intends to cancel the ordinary shares purchased under the programme. Any purchases will be conducted in compliance with the relevant conditions for trading, restrictions regarding time and volume, disclosure and reporting obligations,and price conditions.” Domino’s has appointed its broker Numis Securities to manage the programme.

Liverpool hospitality veteran set to open new ‘tikeasy’ bar: Liverpool hospitality veteran Danny Cunningham is set to open a new ‘tikeasy’ bar – taking the best elements of a tiki bar and a speakeasy. Opening in the former Super Megabite site on Liverpool’s Seel Street, Danny C’s will specialise in classic cocktails and new creations inspired by Cunningham’s extensive travels. Opening this autumn, the 35-seat venue will feature food and drink from the Middle East, south east Asia and the Americas. Ireland native Cunningham started out working at Barback Alma de Cuba while studying in Liverpool before becoming part of the opening team for Salt Dog Slims and 81 Ltd. He then worked as an independent beverage consultant across the globe and opened his own bar in Singapore before consulting on the opening of several rum distilleries in the Caribbean. Arriving back in Liverpool following the pandemic, he continued working in the hospitality industry in the north west and is now embarking on his own venture once more. “Danny C’s will reflect my personal experience from travelling around the world, experiencing the beauty of many different styles of hospitality,” Cunningham said. “Every country has its own approach depending on its culture and diversity and each location has great ideas that can be implemented to compliment each other. My Tikeasy will incorporate these special styles of service to create the best level of service possible.”

New sushi bar opening in London’s Seven Dials Market: A new sushi bar, Sukoshi Sushi, will launch on 18 September in Cucumber Alley at London’s Seven Dials Market. Founded by chef Andrew Le and his father, Sukoshi Sushi will include a theatrical bar where diners can watch chefs freshly prepare sushi rolls, sashimi and other Japanese delicacies to order. There will also be a side bar seating area for up to 12 diners. The family-owned business has over 20 years experience in the art of sushi-making and will be feature a team of chefs who have honed their craft in some of London’s top sushi restaurants. Among the dishes will be crunchy tuna roll – a blanched asparagus and tuna roll, coated in tempura flakes, layered with seared tuna and topped with a soy based mix; and shumai – steamed prawns with a soy based dipping sauce. Le said: “Opening a sushi bar in Seven Dials Market is a dream come true for us. It’s the result of hard work, dedication, and a genuine love for crafting delectable sushi. Creating mouthwatering rolls and sashimi, and sharing them with others, brings immense joy and fulfillment.”

SSP extends Swedish airport presence with ten new F&B sites: SSP Group, the operator of food and beverage outlets in travel locations worldwide, has agreed new contracts with Swedavia which will see it open a total of ten food and beverage units at airports across Sweden. SSP’s partnership with Swedish artisan bakery,Gateau,is being further developed with four new units opening across Stockholm Arlanda airport – at Sky City, T5 Market Place, T2, and T5 Pier F. At Luleå airport, a new Cornelius Coffee unit offers a traditional cafe option with an on-trend Swedish twist, while Craft n’ Draft provides an assortment of drinks – from locally brewed beer to an international assortment of drinks, spirits, and alcohol-free ranges. At Malmö airport, SSP will open Husman, which has a specific focus on Swedish “husmanskost” (traditional, home-cooked Swedish food), and Bistro & Bar, which will offer casual dining influenced by popular international and local flavours. Swedish coffee concept Fika and KIOSK will also be brought to Malmö airport. Björn Olsson, managing director at SSP Sweden, said: “In the many years we’ve been operating in Sweden, we’ve built strong relationships with the teams at Swedavia across the country. We’ve also spent this time developing innovative concepts, inspired by the regions in which they are located.” Charlotte Ljunggren, chief commercial officer at Swedavia, added: “It’s important for us to offer a selection of food options at different price points, and our ambition is always to offer both high quality and value for money.”
 
Mojo Bars opens new Liverpool site: Voodoo Doll, the company behind the Mojo Bars business, has opened its new Liverpool venue. After 15 years at Back Berry Street, it has moved to a new larger, two-storey venue at Liverpool ONE on Hanover Street. Spread over 3,500 square feet, it offers a menu of more than 100 cocktails, beer pong, bottomless brunches, cocktail masterclasses and live sport. Martin Greenhow, managing director at Mojo, said: “We are pleased to have relocated within the city that we love, right in the heart of one of Liverpool’s liveliest destinations. This marks a new era for Mojo in Liverpool, with longer opening hours and an additional floor to celebrate on.” The launch brings the Mojo Bars estate back up to seven sites across the north of England. Metis and Starka acted for Liverpool ONE while Harlow Property Consultants acted for Mojo.
 
Leeds travel and events company acquires Coast & Country hotel in Scotland: Leeds travel and events company Caledonian Leisure has acquired a Coast & Country hotel in Scotland. Caledonian Leisure, which offers coach holidays and family breaks under its Caledonian Travel and UKBreakaways brands, has completed the purchase of the Claymore Hotel in Arrochar. Following the acquisition, the hotel, which is situated on the banks of Loch Long and comprises 96 bedrooms and two restaurants, will be rebranded as The Caledonian Claymore Hotel. Graham Rogers, managing director at Caledonian Leisure, said: “The completion of the Claymore Hotel firmly enhances Caledonian’s position as one of the fastest growing stories in the travel sector as our brands continue to go from strength to strength. The growth of our business and the response from our customers has been exceptional, and we look forward to this continued investment to deliver more excellent and diverse leisure products to our customers.” The sale was brokered by Christie & Co, which is marketing several leisure-focused hotels from Coast & Country’s estate after 18 of its hotels were placed on the market in May. Coast & Country operates more than 30 hotels across the UK and was previously part of Shearings Hotels, which went into administration in May 2020. Bespoke Hotels signed a five-year management agreement soon after to take over the running of most of the hotels, rebranding them under the Coast & Country Hotel Collection.
 
London Chinese comfort food concept opens second site: London Chinese comfort food concept Rice Guys has opened its second site. It has opened at 164 London Wall, in the City, adding to its Canary Wharf kiosk, which is located in Reuters Plaza. Rice Guys also operates pop-ups and a food truck in places including Canopy Market King’s Cross, Paddington Merchant Square, City Pont and Here East in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Rice Guys was founded in 2017 when Kea Hong Teo, Venessa Heng and Andrew Yu decided there wasn’t enough good Chinese food on offer to London’s office workers. “While pursuing careers in the corporate world, we craved the kind of food that we would cook at home but never seemed to have the time to prepare with the gruelling hours we were putting in at the office,” the trio said. “We became increasingly aware of (and a little bit frustrated with) the lack of a recognisable Chinese quick service brand in the city that was affordable and delicious. We asked ourselves why. Could it be the stereotype that Chinese takeaway is greasy, unhealthy or unappealing? Or was it simply too complex to cater to the masses? Our rebellious selves mustered the guts to quit our cushy jobs and set out creating a concept that would challenge these beliefs.”
 
London hotel operator returns to profit as turnover exceeds pre-covid levels: Countess Holdings, which operates the Blakemore Hyde Park hotel and the Norfolk Towers in Paddington under the Starcrown Hotels brand, has reported turnover increased to £10,727,936 for the year ending 31 December 2022 compared with £4,087,776 the year before. Revenue also exceeded the £10,700,347 reported for the year ending 31 December 2019 – the last full year before the covid pandemic. The company, headed by Bhagwant Singh Gurtata, made a pre-tax profit of £2,114,155 compared with a loss of £1,039,533 the previous year (2019: profit of £1,533,814). In his report accompanying the accounts, Gurtata stated: “Given the economic challenges we face today, our priorities are to maintain focus on managing costs and rebuilding additional revenue by fully opening up our food and beverage departments.” The business received government grants of £12,875 (2021: £395,842). No dividend was paid (2021: nil).
 
Knoops to open in Bath next month: Luxury hot chocolate shop Knoops will open its latest site, in Bath, next month. The site, at 21 Old Bond Street, launches on Monday, 11 September, and is Knoops’ fifth opening of 2023 and 13th overall. Chief executive William Gordon-Harris said: “Bath is a beautiful city drenched in history, the ideal spot for exploring with a drink in hand. The city has strong parallels with Cambridge and Oxford, two other locations with a Knoops offering, and we’re excited to get our first visitors through the door while we continue our rollout of new stores across the UK.” Founder Jens Knoop added: “It’s marvellous that we are opening in the city of Bath. I have such a love for historical cities and our shop will be based in a beautiful grade II-listed building in the heart of one of the UK’s most prominent cities for culture. I’m thrilled to continue our growth journey for the Knoops brand.” Propel reported earlier this month that Knoops is also lining up an opening at the former Blackstocks fish and chips shop at 33 Northgate in Chester.
 
Manchester hotel owned by Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs gets £3.45m cash injection: The company behind Manchester’s Stock Exchange Hotel, which is owned by Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs, has received a boost worth more than £3m. Finestday, the business behind the hotel that is based in a grade II-listed property in Norfolk Street, has issued a new lot of shares worth £3.45m, reports Business Live. The former Manchester United pair are the only directors of the company. The move comes after Neville said the hotel is “outperforming its competitors” and that its recovery from the covid-19 pandemic has been “very encouraging”. According to its most recently published set of financial accounts, for 2021, the hotel’s turnover increased from £1.6m to £3.9m, while its pre-tax losses were cut from £2.3m to £1m.
 
Peckham Cellars team confirms September opening for second site: The team behind London wine shop and neighbourhood restaurant Peckham Cellars has confirmed its second site will open next month. Helen Hall, Luke West-Whylie and Ben McVeigh will launch wine bar concept Little Cellars at 75 Camberwell Church Street on Thursday, 7 September. The corner unit site will offer 40 covers in total – comprising 24 indoor seats and a further 16 on the outdoor terrace. Like its Peckham sibling, the site will serve an eclectic mix of old and new world wine by the glass, alongside a bar snack menu courtesy of ex-Terroirs chef, Ollie Lawrence. This will include dishes such as confit chicken leg with coco beans and girolles; courgettes Provençal and truffled polenta; and poached trout, artichoke and seaweed beurre blanc. There will also be Saturday Special sandwiches that will change every weekend, reports Hot Dinners.

Yorkshire gin maker set to begin work on new £1.8m distillery and visitor centre project: Yorkshire gin maker Whitby Distillery is set to begin work on a new £1.8m distillery and visitor centre project. It will renovate two derelict barns on the south-west corner of the Whitby Abbey grounds to create a distillery visitor experience and leisure and function space. The project, which has been partly funded by the Whitby Distillers Founders Club, is scheduled to be completed by the end of next year. Whitby Distillery, makers of Whitby Gin, was founded in 2017 by Jessica Slater and Luke Pentith, who have grown their business from a passion project to one whose gin is stocked in more than 500 outlets across the UK. Pentith said: “This move is a gamechanger for us. While we have been very happy in our current premises in Botany Way in Whitby, our new home will take Whitby Distillery to the next level, stepping up production and giving visitors the opportunity to see us distilling and bottling through the week with our tour experiences.” Slater added: “Our new distillery is a serious commitment to Whitby. As well as the distillery, our plans include a visitor centre, which will showcase our production process and our various spirits, as well as providing an educational and corporate business space.”
 
Mildenhall Indian restaurant owner set to launch new chicken wings concept: Shaz Begg, who owns Indian restaurant Ghandi in Mildenhall, is set to launch a new chicken wings concept in the Suffolk town. Begg has partnered with long-time friend Paul Stannard for Top G Wings, which will open in the former En-thai-sing site at 42 Saint Andrew’s Street, in October. “Paul and I were actually in the cinema when a Facebook post came up from the previous owner,” Begg told the East Anglian Daily Times. “I remember saying it was a shame because it’s a prime location, then Paul said we should do something together. I didn’t take him too seriously, but the next morning I received a text saying he’d already sent off a message! I love chicken wings – I used to go around the country reviewing them with my friends and even go to London Wing Fest.” Gandhi is one of the oldest Indian restaurants in East Anglia under the ownership of one family, and Begg’s 15-year-old son, Sharyan, became the third generation of the family to work at the business last year. “He’s very eager to help at Top G Wings and has great ideas for our socials already,” added Begg.

Dakota set to get green light for Newcastle location: Boutique hotel brand Dakota is set to get the green light to transform a vacant building in Newcastle’s quayside for its sixth site. It wants to convert St Ann’s Wharf at 112 Quayside into a 118-room boutique-style venue, complete with a ground floor bar and grill area. The scheme has been recommended for approval when it goes before the city council’s planning committee on Friday (1 September). “The change of use of this building to a hotel will further act to promote the quayside area as a world-famous leisure destination,” the application stated. “The resultant enhanced quality of accommodation available for visitors and associated dining and drinking facilities arising from this development will add to the vibrancy of the quayside and wider city centre.” Dakota, which was founded by Ken McCulloch in 2004, also has sites in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Motherwell, Leeds and Manchester.

Second Honda dealership planning to open ‘destination café for bike enthusiasts’: A second Honda dealership is planning to open a “destination café for bike enthusiasts”. The John Banks Group has applied to create the cafe at its Honda site in Scotts Corner, in Ipswich Road, Colchester. It has submitted plans with Colchester Council to create a cafe for “motorcycle enthusiasts and the local community alike” at the site. It follows H’s Café, which is located at a Honda dealership on the A2 between Canterbury and Dover. The application said the café will be “designed to provide a unique experience to customers, both motorcycle enthusiasts and the general public”, offering a range of beverages and light refreshments, and would only be open during normal trading hours for the business. The application added: “The establishment of a destination cafe within the Honda Colchester aligns perfectly with our vision to create a thriving and vibrant hub for motorcycle enthusiasts and the local community alike.”

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