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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Tue 5th Sep 2023 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Dodo Pizza UK chief ‘frustrated’ at having to scrap ‘fabulous project’ of building up to 100 stores here as last site ceases trading, liquidation ‘not an option’: Dodo Pizza’s UK business development lead David Sweeney has told Propel of his frustration at having to scrap a “fabulous project” of building up to 100 stores over here, but insisted the company will not leave the UK without paying all its bills. Founded in Russia in 2011 by Fyodor Ovchinnikov, Dodo Pizza has since expanded to more than 840 pizzerias in its home country and 90 in 17 other countries around the world. It first came to the UK in 2017 with an opening in Brighton and had grown to five sites – also launching in Coventry, Walsall, Walsall Wood and Leamington Spa – before its growth plans were halted by the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Ovchinnikov said earlier this year the business would exit the UK due to economic sanctions resulting from the war, and its last remaining UK store, in Leamington Spa, closed after its last day of trading on Thursday (31 August), resulting in 15 redundancies. Sweeney, who has been Dodo’s UK business development lead since 2019, is now looking to sell the lease of both the Leamington Spa store and a new production centre in Derbyshire, which was mothballed following the invasion. “It’s been frustrating as it was a fabulous project with really good people and tech that is beyond compare,” Sweeney told Propel. “Everything was in place – we had senior level people who had come over and moved their families here, and suddenly they had 60 days to leave. We had 12 sites in the pipeline to open this year in places such as Oxford, Cheltenham and Bristol before hitting the big cities once our supply chain was in place. We were aiming to get to 50 as quickly as possible, and with the new plant we were building we would have managed 100 stores. Even more frustrating is the fact we were a British company with British shareholders but tainted by the perception of being Russian. Trading was actually okay for the first six months after the invasion as people didn’t make the association, but we had to ask if banks would support us if we needed to raise finance. Sales began to decline after about six months, but if it had just been a six-month skirmish, we probably wouldn’t have pulled out.” Sweeney said Dodo hadn’t suffered as much in other foreign markets as they are already franchised, whereas the UK business has started out as being corporately owned with plans to grow through franchising. Sweeney – whose previous roles include head of franchise sales UK & Scandinavia for Burger King and director of franchising and business development for Papa John’s International – said he will now focus on expanding Dodo and sister brands Doner42 and Drinkit in East Africa. “We won’t have a liquidation and we will pay all our bills – it’s in my DNA to do so,” he added.
 

Industry News:

Sponsored message – reasons to visit Casual Dining: Casual Dining is the ultimate gathering for the restaurant, pub, and bar industry. Here are a few reasons why you should attend! A spokesperson said: “Casual Dining (together with Commercial Kitchen and lunch!) will display more than 600 innovative products and services that can elevate your business. See, smell and taste the latest products and meet the creators behind them. Have meetings face-to-face for quick responses and negotiations. This event attracts a diverse crowd of suppliers, buyers and thought leaders. Connect with influential figures, forge partnerships and gain valuable insights in the show’s seminar programme across three theatres (sponsored by Uber Eats). Gain knowledge on customer experience, sustainability and menu innovation – and hear exclusive interviews from chief executives and directors from Mowgli, Honest Burgers, North Brewing, Peach Pubs, Wahaca and more. Discover the future of the industry, from emerging technologies to game-changing concepts.” Casual Dining returns to ExCeL London on 27-28 September and will co-locate with Commercial Kitchen and lunch! Register here for a free trade ticket. If you have a sponsored message you would like to see featured in this newsletter position, email paul.charity@propelinfo.com.
 
Next edition of Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book shows 68% of companies in profit, up from 60% six months ago: The next Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book, to be sent to Premium subscribers on Friday (8 September), shows 68% of the 754 largest sector companies are now in profit, up from 60% six months ago. The Blue Book shows 514 companies in profit and 240 reporting losses. The Blue Book is updated each month and ranks companies by turnover, profit and profit conversion, listing directors’ earnings for the past five years. Premium subscribers also receive access to five other 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 UK Food and Beverage Franchisee 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 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.
 
Asma Khan to speak at Propel Talent & Training Conference, open for bookings: Indian-born British chef, restaurateur and cookbook author Asma Khan, of Darjeeling Express, 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. Khan will talk to James Hacon 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. 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 kai.kirkman@propelinfo.com.
 
BBPA – Ofgem must act quickly to avoid winter of misery for businesses: The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has insisted Ofgem must act quickly to enact recommendations and ensure businesses avoid another winter energy crisis. Responding to Ofgem’s non-domestic market review consultation, the trade body supported most measures put forward by the regulator, but stressed the need for urgency if businesses are to avoid sky-high energy costs again this winter. It said with 15% of pubs saying they are at risk of failure in the next 12 months, and 95% of those flagging energy as a significant contributor to possible failure, Ofgem must ensure it can fairly regulate the non-domestic market as soon as possible. The BBPA also said there should be parity between the protection of domestic and non-domestic energy users. Chief executive Emma McClarkin said: “Just last week we saw Ofgem rightly step in once again for domestic users, but we must not forget that thousands of businesses are still struggling with their energy bills, and this will only get worse as we head into the colder months. We support Ofgem’s recommendations, which are sound and sensible, but they mean very little if they are not implemented quickly to protect businesses from future energy price hikes. In turn, the government must also recognise the severity of this issue has not gone away and ensure Ofgem has the power to regulate effectively now.”
 
John Gaunt & Partners to run licensing and legal drop-in at this week’s Propel Multi-Club Conference: Licensing solicitor John Gaunt & Partners will be running a licensing and legal drop-in at the end of the Propel Multi-Club Conference this Wednesday (6 September). John Gaunt partners Luke Elford, Michelle Hazlewood and Chris Grunert will be on hand at the end of the day to provide advice about any legal issues you or your company may be experiencing. Areas around licensing that may be of interest could be onerous conditions on your premises licence and ongoing costs to them, regulatory issues occurring within your estate, or advice around the due diligence that should be undertaken on acquiring businesses or sites. If you would like to schedule a time for a private chat, email LElford@john-gaunt.co.uk.
 
Hospitality Apprenticeship Showcase returns for eighth year to highlight diverse range of roles in sector: The Hospitality Apprenticeship Showcase will return for an eighth year in 2024, taking place on Wednesday, 7 February in the House of Commons. The HAS aims to showcase the diverse range of roles within the sector and reiterate the importance of cross-party support for hospitality. Over the years, more than 1,200 apprentices from the hospitality sector have showcased their skills and met with Lords, Ladies and MPs to mark National Apprenticeship Week, accompanied by employers, parents and colleagues. The inclusive and diverse day will showcase a myriad of professions within the industry, from chefs to expert mixologists, brewers and professional support team apprentices. At the 2024 event, attendees can hear from those who attended an earlier showcase while on an apprenticeship and where that has now led them along their career path.
 
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with an award winning and premium supplier of soft drinks and mixers across the UK that is looking for a wholesale national account manager. A COREcruitment spokesperson said: “You will be responsible for heading up the route to market and wholesale. You will need to explore the foodservice industry as a sales path along with forward planning across the sector. You will also need to manage the field sales team to ensure targets are met across the business. This company offers a fantastic package and will require three days in the office based in west London.” The salary is up to £60,000 plus bonus. For more information, email mark@corecruitment.com.  
 

Company News:

Comptoir Group to return to UK expansion trail with Ealing site: Comptoir Group, the Comptoir Libanais and Shawa operator, is to return to the expansion trail in the UK with an opening in London’s Ealing next month, Propel has learned. The Nick Ayerst-led business has secured the former Bread Street Café site in Ealing Broadway, which Gordon Ramsay opened two years ago but closed late last month. The 3,325 square-foot restaurant is expected to open in early October. Comptoir Group said the Ealing restaurant, which will be its first UK restaurant opening in four years, will offer breakfast, lunch and dinner for both dine-in and takeaway. Comptoir Group founder Tony Kitous said: “My dream is for Lebanese cuisine and culture to achieve the same popularity as Italian food, and this restaurant in Ealing will continue my passion for both the food and the culture, which I’m eager to share with our valued guests. I’m thrilled to be building our vibrant brand and look forward to creating an inviting atmosphere at our new restaurant that will provide an authentic setting to savour Middle Eastern hospitality.” Ayerst added: “I am delighted to announce the opening of the first restaurant in four years. Ealing is a thriving hub and our new location will serve guests from across west London, as we continue to deliver our well-loved authentic Middle Eastern food and culture.” In May, the business said in terms of expansion, it would like to open two or three company-owned Comptoir Libanais sites in the UK by the year-end. On the franchising front, it has got a restaurant under the Shawa concept in Abu Dhabi, which is due to go on-site shortly. Ayerst added: “It’s a new airport terminal opening, and that terminal is due to open in November. We’ve also been in discussions with a franchise partner, also within the travel hub marketplace, and we have signed heads of terms on a location in a major European airport, which looks like it could be autumn time as well.” Marc Rogers, of MKR Property, acted on the Ealing deal.
 
Paris Baguette ramping up franchise partner recruitment as it looks to expand in London, stores ‘already achieving high level of sales’: Paris Baguette, the South Korean bakery cafe chain that made its debut in the UK last year, is ramping up its franchise partner recruitment as it looks to expand in London. The business, which now has more than 4,000 stores across ten countries, operates sites at Kensington High Street and Battersea Power Station, which opened in October and November 2022 respectively. It plans to open its first UK franchise site this year and operate 20 locations across the country by 2026, ahead of more ambitious plans to reach 200 sites here by 2036. “Following the successful launch of its first stores in London at the iconic Battersea Power Station and in Kensington High Street, Paris Baguette is seeking franchise partners in the areas within a few miles of Battersea and High Street Kensington,” the business said. “The two flagship stores in prime locations in London were opened at the end of 2022 and are already achieving a high level of sales. Paris Baguette’s franchise model has been particularly successful in the US, where there are more than 125 franchise stores. The business is opening a new store every week and several stores are producing annual revenues upwards of $5m, while Paris Baguette is ranked 25th in the US Franchise Times Top 500 list.” The business is offering franchises for an up-front fee of £50,000 for one site or £40,000 for multiple sites, with the overall investment to take on a franchise expected to be about £330,000. There is also an ongoing royalty of 5%, while loan facilities are available at HSBC. Paris Baguette is especially looking at areas such as Richmond, Putney, Wandsworth, Tower Bridge, South Kensington, Sloane Square and Victoria to open stores. Paris Baguette features in the next Propel UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database, which is an exhaustive guide to the companies offering a food and beverage franchise in the UK and is available exclusively to Premium subscribers. The database is updated every two months and the latest version features 210 businesses. Companies can now have an unlimited number of people receive access to Propel Premium for a year for £995 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or a supplier. The single subscription rate is £495 plus VAT for operators and £595 plus VAT for suppliers. Email jo.charity@propelinfo.com to upgrade your subscription.
 
Mowgli eyes Newcastle opening: Mowgli, the Nisha Katona-led, Indian street food concept, is looking to add a site in Newcastle to its opening pipeline. Propel understands the TriSpan-backed, 18-strong business is in talks to take on part of the former Cafe Royal, in the city’s Nelson Street, which closed in 2020 after 20 years of trading when previous owners Sir John Fitzgerald announced it would be shutting with immediate effect. Last month, Propel revealed Mowgli was looking to take on the former Bill’s in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, to its opening pipeline. Earlier this summer, Propel reported Mowgli had secured the former Byron site in Bond Street, Chelmsford, which closed earlier this year, with the aim of opening before Christmas. Mowgli opened its latest site last week, in Beverley. A long-anticipated site in Bristol’s Corn Street is due to open in November, while a site in Knutsford’s King Street is also scheduled to open this year. The company has also applied to open in the former Two Seasons store in Lincoln’s High Street.
 
Rosa’s Thai to replace 63rd+1st in Edinburgh: Rosa’s Thai, the TriSpan-backed business, has secured the former 63rd+1st site in Edinburgh for its second opening in Scotland. The site in the city’s Frederick Street closed at the end of last month, leaving the TGI Fridays-owned concept with sites in Cobham in Surrey and Glasgow. The Gavin Adair-led Rosa’s Thai will make its Scottish debut later this month with an opening on the former Cote site in Glasgow’s West Nile Street. It also has openings lined up in Bristol, Guildford, Reading and Westfield London. Last week, Tsara Taylor, financial director at Rosa’s Thai, told Propel the company’s dine-in like-for-like sales are “running at 20%-plus”. Taylor also said the Trispan-backed business remains on track for the outlined eight openings in this fiscal year. TGI Fridays launched 63rd+1st in 2020, inspired by the original TGI Fridays, which opened in 1965 in Manhattan on the corner of 63rd Street and 1st Avenue. The cocktail and bar concept was set to be a new growth driver for the business, and there was talk of up to four more openings, but the pandemic curtailed its roll out and TGI Fridays UK’s parent company is now focusing on its eponymous core brand. David Muslin, of Ecliptic, acted on the Edinburgh deal.
 
BrewDog appoints new COO: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has appointed James Arrow as its new chief operating officer. Arrow, who will report to chief executive and co-founder James Watt in his new global role, joins BrewDog from Boots Opticians, where is he is currently managing director. Under Arrow’s leadership, profits for Boots Opticians almost doubled, and in 2022, he led a team that launched a new brand identity alongside a prominent public health campaign. Prior to joining Boots Opticians in 2019, he spent more than a decade at Dixons Carphone in a variety of senior roles including e-commerce, trading, operations, sales and transformation. During the merger of Dixons and Carphone Warehouse, Arrow was part of the senior leadership integration team. His other operational roles have included being a regional manager in supply chain for Currys, and he began his career as graduate in grocery retail for Asda. Watt said: “Over the past few years we’ve focused on hiring exceptional new talent into the business and strengthening our leadership team. James brings an incredible array of experience and is a critical hire as we evolve as a brand, scale globally and, importantly, drive profitability across our business.” Arrow added: “I am looking forward to bringing my experience to the company as it embarks on the next stage of its growth journey. In particular we will aim to profitably capitalise on the huge opportunity of the global bar roll-out programme, as well as further taking market share from the majors.” Arrow’s appointment follows that of Chris Fielden as BrewDog’s first chief supply chain officer and John Graham as chief executive of BrewDog USA, and the news C&A chief executive Giny Boer had joined BrewDog’s board as an independent non-executive director. 
 
Loungers gears up to open 200th Lounge site: Cafe bar operator Loungers is gearing up to open the 200th site under its Lounge concept next week, in Buckinghamshire. The Nick Collins-led business will open the Verdetto Lounge on the ex-M&Co site in Market Hill, Buckingham, on Wednesday, 13 September. The first Lounge opened in North Street in Bedminster, Bristol, in 2002. At the end of last month, the company opened its 199th Lounge (237th site overall), Candelo Lounge in Thame, in a former bank. Last month, it also opened its first site in the north east, in the Northumberland town of Morpeth. It is also set to open further sites in the north east when it launches Muro Lounge on the former Argos site in Hexham in October, and Costello Lounge, in the Manor Walks shopping centre, Cramlington, in December. The business is set to expand its opening rate from 29 sites to 34 next year and has identified potential for at least 600 Lounges across the UK.
 
Lansdowne Club reports record turnover, 2023 sees positive membership and Ebitda growth but ‘must keep growing to become fully sustainable’: London gentleman’s club Lansdowne Club has reported record turnover for the year to 3 December 2022, while 2023 has seen positive membership and Ebitda growth, but it “must keep growing” for the club to become “fully sustainable”. The club, which was established at 9 Fitzmaurice Place in London’s Mayfair in 1935, reported turnover of £10,526,461, up from £6,265,495 in 2021. Its pre-tax loss narrowed from £292,050 in 2021 to £71,914 despite it facing costs increases of £2,698,758. It received government grants of £4,912 compared with £335,488 in 2021. “This year’s turnover is the highest recorded by the club,” treasurer Fraser Tennant said in his statement accompanying the accounts. “New members applications since the start of 2023 are higher than the attrition rate, showing positive membership growth, and exit interview data for those members resigning does not suggest a trend associated with the cost of living. 2023 year-to-date Ebitda is positive and net results significantly better than budget. Forecast accommodation occupancy levels for the coming months are above budgeted levels as is booked banqueting business. Ebitda of £1,077,574 was an increase of 40% on 2021. Going forward, in order to make the club fully sustainable without incurring debt, the club needs to generate an Ebitda of more than £2m. Hopefully, during the next few years, this will be achieved.” Tennant said membership of 7,318 at the end of 2022 was down 830 since covid, and from a 2013 high of 8,676. Attrition rate was 9.1% compared with 6.7% in 2021 but the club still increased membership income by £496,393. Occupancy levels and rates were up from 29.3% and £1,415,822 respectively in 2021 to 76.2% and £3,683,759. A decline in catering in 2021 was reversed as revenue increased by £1,300,444 to £2,659,268. In April, the club was successful in its appeal against the increase in rateable value of the premises that saw it receive a total refund of £472,320. Chairman Jason Dobson, who took over the position during the year, said increasing members’ fees had allowed for £750,000 to be spent on capex projects. “I became the chair in July 2022 and have worked hard to bring the club back to be an enjoyable place to dine, stay and have a drink,” he added. “So many of our members have approached me or written and said ‘the buzz’ is finally coming back to the club.”
 
Kaleido aiming to attract Pret Club members through ‘disloyalty programme’: Healthy food concept Kaleido, which specialises in salad rolls, is seeking to attract Pret Club members by launching a “disloyalty programme”. Customers who visit Kaleido Rolls stores in September and show their Pret Club subscription card will receive a free roll of their choice. It said it is aiming to “break the lunch hour pattern of stepping into a multi-billion-pound chain luring customers in with discounts and bundles” and “inspire consumers to try something different while supporting independent businesses”. The programme ends on Saturday, 30 September. Kaleido Rolls co-founder Laura Mimoun said: “It’s time to cheat on Pret! Our disloyalty programme is a fun way to encourage customers to give Kaleido Rolls a go and explore the unexplored. Who knows – they might even discover their new favourite lunch spot.” Founded in 2017, Kaleido Rolls has five kiosks around the capital including its new flagship location in Kingly Street, Carnaby, which opened in June. It made its international debut in April with an opening in Amsterdam and plans to grow its estate to 25 sites by 2025. The menu consists of ten flavour combinations wrapped in gluten-free rice paper, with half of the menu vegan or vegetarian. It comes as Pret’s expansion of its subscription offer kicks in today (Tuesday, 5 September), which will see Club Pret member discounts double from 10% to 20%. The brand said Club Pret transactions are also up 33% month-on-month since its launch in April, and that on the back of its success in the UK, Club Pret will launch in its first international markets, starting with the US in September and France in November.
 
Brack Burger opens fifth site as it replaces mac ‘n’ cheese concept ‘heading in new direction’: North east burger concept Brack Burger has opened its fifth site. The concept, set up by brothers Joe and Ollie Brack in 2020 after their work in hospitality and events dried up during the pandemic, has joined the line-up at Danieli Holdings’ Stack leisure complex in Sunderland. Brack Burgers’ freshly made patties became a hit when they were sold as takeaway items from a Newcastle pub, leading to the pair opening three outlets in bars and cafes on Tyneside and one in Tynemouth. Now it has set up at Stack Seaburn, taking over the space occupied by Redheads Mac ‘n’ Cheese, which has moved out with plans to take the company “in a different direction”. “We have decided to go back to our roots, which is all about street food and will be looking to get a van and be out and about at festivals, events and parties,” said Redheads Mac ‘n’ Cheese owner, Jamie Pagett. “We are also looking at growing our retail range of frozen microwaved meals as well as operating our other two outlets in Newcastle.” The changes will also see the current Boojie Burger, operated by Stack itself, closing and that space used to extend the existing coffee shop, which will also now be able to serve directly into the plaza via a hatch.
 
Fait Maison opens fourth site in London: Fait Maison, the “French traiteur-inspired concept”, has opened its fourth site in London, in Mayfair. The business, which is led by Mohamed Osman and was founded in 2001, has opened a site at 48 South Molton Street. It also operates a site in Stratford Road, Kensington, and two sites in Gloucester Road. The business also operates a site in the Middle East, in Doha. CDG Leisure acted on the Mayfair deal.
 
JD Wetherspoon to cut prices to mark Tax Equality Day: JD Wetherspoon pubs will cut the price of all food and drinks by 7.5% next Thursday (14 September) – to highlight the benefit of a permanent VAT reduction in the hospitality industry. Prices at the pubs will be reduced for one day only to mark Tax Equality Day. In Scotland, prices will be reduced on food and non-alcoholic drinks in line with Scottish licensing laws. For example, a customer spending £10 on food and drink will pay £9.25 on Tax Equality Day. All food and drink in pubs is subject to 20% VAT. By comparison, supermarkets pay zero VAT on food, which Wetherspoon founder and chairman Tim Martin said allows them to use that saving to sell alcohol to customers at a discounted price. He added: “The biggest threat to the hospitality industry is the vast disparity in tax treatment among pubs, restaurants and supermarkets. Pubs have been under fantastic pressure for decades because of the tax disadvantages that they have with supermarkets. It doesn’t make sense for the hospitality industry to subsidise supermarkets. We urge the chancellor to create tax equality between pubs and supermarkets.”
 
Burnley leisure operator reports ‘positive’ trading despite cost-of-living crisis: Andrew Brown Leisure, which operates the Crow Wood leisure development in Burnley, has said trading has been “positive” despite the cost-of-living crisis. It comes as the business reported turnover increased slightly to £16,219,395 for the year ending 30 April 2023 compared with £16,034,030 the previous year. Pre-tax profit fell to £1,493,090 from £2,679,507 the year before due to increased costs and the prior year “being flattered by the temporary VAT reduction and rates relief”. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “The cost-of-living crisis has had a negative impact on the wider economy, however the group has seen positive trading results. The directors are optimistic about future trading performance as bookings continue to be made across all facilities offered within the group's trading sectors. The group has commenced construction of a major project that will double the size of the spa and increase the capacity of one of the restaurants that is due to finish in summer 2024. Our gym and dance studios have received a total refurbishment following a £2m investment and membership revenue is at record levels.” The company received government grants of £195,664 (2022: £226,131). No dividend was paid (2022: nil).
 
Searcy’s set to open champagne bar at Battersea Power Station: Restaurateur and events caterer Searcy’s is set to open a new champagne bar in Battersea Power Station. Having already operated a vintage Rolls Royce Champagne Coupé pop-up at the venue, it will open Searcy’s Champagne Bar at Level 1 in Turbine Hall A next month, serving an extensive list of champagne and English sparkling wine paired with small bites and seafood platters. Opening on Wednesday, 18 October, the 76-cover space will include a 15-cover marble-topped bar and a semi-private booth, available to book for up to ten guests. It will also have brass “Press for Champagne” buzzers at each table – inspired by those at its sister site at St Pancras International, which opened more than 14 years ago. Searcy’s managing director Paul Jackson said: “We are excited to be expanding south of the river to launch within the fantastic retail and gastronomic hub at Battersea Power Station. As connoisseurs of champagne since 1847, we want to create an experience that showcases our hand-picked selection for our guests to enjoy.” Searcy’s collection of bars also including Searcy’s at the Gherkin and The Champagne Bar at 116 Pall Mall.
 
TEG to open XOYO site in Birmingham: TEG MJR, the UK subsidiary of Australian live events firm TEG, is to open a second site under its nightclub brand XOYO, in Birmingham later this month. The business will convert its The Mill site in Lower Trinity Street, Digbeth, to the concept, creating a “new modular, multi-room venue” with a total capacity of nearly 3,000. XOYO will have five different spaces at the venue – with a strong focus on electronic music and live programming. The five individual spaces inside the Digbeth club will be the main room XOYO, A/V, an open-air roof garden, The Factory and another open-air space, The Yard. TEG said it has invested more than £500,000 in the venue and is committed to providing a “safe, inclusive dancefloor as part of a quality clubbing experience”. In June 2021, TEG acquired London music venues the XOYO in Shoreditch and the Camden Assembly from The Columbo Group. The TEG Group includes TEG Europe; Ticketek UK; Propaganda; XOYO London; Camden Assembly; Engine Rooms in Southampton; The Foundry in Sheffield; Tramshed in Cardiff; The Warehouse in Leeds; Sub89 in Reading; and The Globe in Cardiff. 
 
Rockwater gears up to open Branksome site: Rockwater Group, the Luke Davis-led business, will open its latest coastal community hub, restaurant and bar site, on Branksome Chine beach in Dorset, on Thursday (7 September). Rockwater Branksome will offer a beachside home; “from sunrise yoga to sunset cocktails, providing the perfect spot to enjoy locally sourced food and drink, as well as a curated series of events”. On the roof terrace, a roster of live music will be performing into the late evening. Rockwater’s Bar & Kitchen will feature an all-day menu and wood-fired grill. Davis said: “I wanted to create a space that takes people from early morning through to late night – with something for everyone. The space will offer a packed calendar of events, whether wellness and relaxation are what you are after, or something a little more high tempo. We hope to become the coastal go-to for people to enjoy gorgeous food, drinks and a sense of belonging to a like-minded community.” Davis opened Rockwater Hove at the end of 2020 after a £4m investment. Last year, the business said it was preparing to spend £12m between the Branksome project and a similar proposal at Sandbanks.

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