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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Wed 13th Sep 2023 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Big Table Group set to test new fast-casual concepts: The Big Table Group, the operator of Las Iguanas, Banana Tree, Café Rouge and Bella Italia, has appointed Johanna Selin, formerly of Marks & Spencer, Wagamama, Pret and Coco Di Mama, to the new role of head of new concept development. Propel understands that Selin has joined the Alan Morgan-led business to help the group test new concepts in the fast casual space. Selin previously spent 15 months at Wagamama as programme director – growth and helped the brand develop its Mamago grab-and-go concept. She also spent more than five and a half years at Pret, including nearly two and a half years as its group head of e-commerce. Selin, who had a brief stint as an ecommerce consultant at Coco Di Mama, was most recently head of programmes hospitality at Marks & Spencer. In 2021, the Epiris-backed Big Table Group began the trial of pasta delivery brand Super Nonna. It has since rolled the brand out to circa 70 of its restaurant locations across the UK after working on the concept with Coco Di Mama co-founder Daniel Land. Morgan told Propel in July: “We built this brand to take advantage of a gap in the delivery market as well as make our existing kitchens more efficient. While it’s unlikely we will open a standalone site soon, I wouldn’t rule it out.” Earlier this week, The Restaurant Group (TRG) agreed the sale of its leisure division, which includes the Frankie & Benny’s and Chiquito brands, to the Big Table Group for £1. The group said it had entered into an agreement for the sale of the business, comprising 75 trading sites and associated restaurant and management team employees, to Big Table Group. As part of the transaction, TRG said it would pay a cash contribution of £7.5m, with the deal expected to complete next month. Last September, Big Table Group acquired the fast-casual pan-Asian brand Banana Tree. Under its ownership, Banana Tree has since grown from nine to 15 sites, with plans to open at least a further three new locations before the end of the year, through Café Rouge conversions in Henley, Bath and Greenwich. Big Table Group features in the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book, the latest edition of which was sent to Premium subscribers on Friday (8 September). It’s turnover of £206,170,246 for the year to 30 October 2022 is the 46th 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 £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.

Industry News:

Final Propel Multi-Club Conference of 2023 opens for bookings, three free places per company for operators: The final Propel Multi-Club Conference of 2023 is now open for bookings. The full-day conference takes place on Thursday, 16 November, at the Millennium Gloucester Hotel in London’s Kensington and will focus on “progress in an era of strong headwinds”. Multi-site operators can book up to three free places each by emailing Speakers will include Michelle Hazlewood, partner at specialist licensing solicitors John Gaunt & Partners, who will examine all the key legal developments that impacted multi-site operators in 2023 and also looks at what’s coming down the track over the next 12 months. Yolk founder Nick Philpott will talk about the development of the egg-focused concept and how it is looking to muscle into the Pret, Itsu and Greggs space. Laura Mimoun, co-founder of Kaleido Rolls, which specialises in salad rolls and rice paper rolls, will discuss starting out in a lift and growing across London and into Europe. Shereen Ritchie, chief operating officer of Buns from Home, will talk about the rise of the independent bakery concept born out of the pandemic, which is now expanding fast across the capital. David McDowall, chief executive of Stonegate Group, will discuss evolving the UK’s biggest pub business during a cost-of-living crisis, simplifying its structure and providing it the right tools to continue to thrive. Clare Clough, UK managing director at Pret A Manger, will talk about the transformation of the iconic brand from London-focused grab-and-go operator to an omnichannel, nationwide business. Richard Ferrier, chief executive of the Heartwood Collection, will discuss rebranding the business, growing a premium pub estate, moving into the competitive letting rooms sector and growing in a challenging market. John Eckbert, chief executive of Five Guys, will talk about ten years of the brand being in the UK, its biggest challenges, how it stays ahead of the pack and what’s the size of the prize here and in Europe. Jeremy King, the co-founder of Corbin & King and doyenne of London’s dining scene, will talk to Propel group editor Mark Wingett about making his return to the sector, what he plans to do differently, and where he sees the restaurant market in the capital going. There will also be three panel sessions. Emma Bernardez, head of hospitality at haysmacintyre, will talk to David Roberts, corporate partner at CMS McKenna; Chris Miller, chief executive of White Rabbit; Thomas Boszko, partner at Alchemy Partners; Lizzie Ryan-Podbury, partner at Imbiba; and Steve Crosswell, relationship director at Cynergy Bank; about the current investment market, where the buyer activity is centred and current investment criteria in a volatile market. Stephen Owens, managing director of pubs & restaurants at Christie & Co, will discuss how the industry landscape is changing and what buyers are looking for, with Jenny Stratham, property director at McMullen, and Graeme Bunn, property director at Red Oak Taverns. Meanwhile, UberEats; Joe Heather, general manager of UK & Ireland at Deliverect; Johnnie Tate, founder of Yard Sale Pizza; and Mark Murphy, founder of Burgerism; will discuss what comes next as the sector continues to seek the best way of integrating a delivery model after the boom during the pandemic.
Next Who’s Who of UK Food and Beverage to feature 730 companies, released on Friday: The next Who’s Who of UK Food and Beverage will feature 730 companies when it is released to Premium subscribers on Friday (15 September). This month’s edition includes five new companies and 25 updated entries as well as more than 195,000 words of content. The companies, listed in alphabetical order, will have their most recent results reported as well as broader information around Ebitda, plans and trading style available. The database merges Companies House information, interviews and other public information to provide an easy to reference and exhaustive guide to the sector. Premium subscribers also receive access to five other databases: the Multi-Site Database, which is produced in association with Virgate; the New Openings Database; the UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database; the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book; 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 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.

Managed like-for-likes up 5.3% in August but growth at lowest rate since March as weather dampens sales: Britain’s managed restaurant, pub and bar groups overcame some dismal summer weather to record like-for-like sales growth of 5.3% in August, the latest Coffer CGA Business Tracker shows. The tracker – produced by CGA by NIQ in partnership with and the Coffer Group and RSM UK – has now been in year-on-year growth for 11 months in a row. However, August’s figure marks a drop from 7.8% in July. Growth in the tracker is at its lowest point since March and has dipped slightly below the UK’s rate of inflation. Widespread cool weather kept many consumers indoors and made August a good month for the restaurant sector, where like-for-like sales finished 8.6% ahead of August 2022. With beer gardens and terraces emptier than usual, pubs recorded 4.9% growth. Bars continue to be the worst performing of the three segments in the tracker, with sales down 7.5% year-on-year. For the 16th month in a row, London outpaced the rest of the UK for sales growth. Managed groups’ like-for-like sales within the M25 were 7.1% ahead in August, compared with 4.9% beyond the M25. Karl Chessell, director – hospitality operators and food, EMEA at CGA by NIQ, said: “Against a backdrop of grey skies and cool temperatures, 5.3% growth represents a decent August for managed groups. However, persistent high inflation and the tracker’s downward trajectory means year-on-year sales are marginally down in real terms. There are signs that consumer confidence may pick up as we move towards the crucial Christmas trading period, but high costs are going to make trading conditions difficult in hospitality for some time to come.”
Majority of guests’ spending habits changed by cost-of-living crisis but a third still see eating and drinking out as ‘essential spending’: The majority of guests’ spending habits have been changed by the cost-of-living crisis but a third still see eating and drinking out as “essential spending”, a new survey has revealed. Booking platform DesignMyNight’s City Survey found 84% of its 3.9 million monthly users who responded said cost pressures have altered their spending habits but almost 36% still class going out to restaurants and bars as essential. Almost 46% of respondents would happily spend up to £60 on a meal, while 73% stated they’d spent between £4-£6 on their last pint. When asked what event people would most likely splash the cash on, 85% said birthdays, 20% promotions or getting a new job and 9% graduations. Katie Kirwan, head of brand and business-to-consumer at DesignMyNight, said: “The going may be tough right now, but going out remains important to our audience across all price points. While we’ve seen that a demand for affordability is propping up the industry, quality of spending is equally as important, and people aren’t willing to sacrifice their money for the mediocre.”

Company News:

Potts – current trading is varied by region, pace of growth slower than we’d like, secures Victoria site: Simon Potts, chief executive of bar and restaurant brand The Alchemist, has told Propel that current trading for the 23-strong group is “varied by region”, with London and Scotland performing well against 2022. Potts said: “We are likely seeing the effects of the cost-of-living crisis play out more in northern cities, where weekday trading has been a little softer, a situation that is being exacerbated by the ongoing train strikes and a general public mistrust of Network Rail and the operators to provide a consistent service. As a long-established business, we are relaxed about the current environment and expect a gradual upturn over the next couple of years. We’ve taken sensible measures to manage margins during this period and are pleased with ongoing Ebitda performance in venues. Our NPS rating remains extremely high across the group and value scores are unchanged from pre-pandemic numbers, reflecting the long-term view we have taken on pricing and the efforts we’ve made to protect the quality of our offer, environment and level of service.” It comes as the business, which operates 22 sites across the UK and one in Berlin, Germany, has lined up its sixth opening in London, opposite Victoria station. The company is to invest £1.8m in fitting out the new 4,858 square-foot venue, which will open next year in Grosvenor Gardens. The brand said the venue will be more geared towards its late-night offering. Potts said: “With our first overseas project in Berlin now fully open and growing nicely, we’re pleased to be turning our attention back to London and are delighted with the new site at vibrant Victoria. We’ve had great success within our existing estate with venues that have the ability to draw on both tourists and office workers – and this part of the city firmly ticks those boxes.” On future growth plans, Potts told Propel: “There remains a strong appetite among us to continue to grow the business, as evidenced by the new venue at Victoria – but pressures created by current intertest rates mean the pace of growth is much slower than we’d perhaps like. That said, we expect to add a further site in London in 2024 as well as a second location in Germany, following the success of our Berlin opening in May.” Earlier this year, the business said it had lined up two further London venues, both near transport hubs. Earlier this summer, the company opened a third Scottish site, and second in Edinburgh, at 51 George Street.
BrewDog to open first bar under Budweiser China JV with new Hong Kong site: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog is to open a new bar in Hong Kong this autumn. It will be the first site to open under the joint venture with Budweiser China announced earlier this year, as part of BrewDog’s plans to accelerate its growth into the world’s biggest beer market. The long-term agreement with Budweiser China is focused on expanding the BrewDog brand across Greater China. The new bar is located close to the Lan Kwai Fong district in central Hong Kong and will feature a range of classic BrewDog beer on tap and its signature food menu. The partnership with Budweiser China marked BrewDog’s second such joint venture in Asia following the announcement of its partnership in Japan with Asahi in September 2021. BrewDog said sales in Japan have doubled since the deal was announced, in line with the highly ambitious growth plans for the country. James Watt, chief executive of BrewDog, said: “This is the first of many bold plans with our joint-venture partner Budweiser China, which will see us bring BrewDog to every corner of the world’s biggest beer market. Over the coming years, we will be opening more venues and locations across China and throughout Asia, which will be genuinely transformational for us as we grow globally and continue to spread our passion for quality beer.” BrewDog recently revealed its ambitions plans to expand its global bar estate, targeting 300 bars by 2030. It currently operates more than 100 bars and hotels across the world. Other new openings this year include bar venues in the UK, Italy, Netherlands, Australia and US – as well as the opening of the first US franchise location in Denver, Colorado. Within the next five years, the craft brewer anticipates its total system revenue from bars (which includes its owned bars and franchise locations) to exceed £1bn.
200 Degrees to open second Liverpool site: Coffee roaster and retailer 200 Degrees, which is backed by Foresight, is to open its second Liverpool site. The shop in Bold Street will be the third opening since April and 21st overall. Work will begin shortly on the site at 17-19 Bold Street, on the ground floor below Indian street food and craft beer concept Bundobust, with the coffee shop due to open by early November. 200 Degrees managing director Stephen Fern said is keen to see the company build on its already strong reputation in the north west. “In the last few years, we’ve really been made to feel at home in key locations like Liverpool, Manchester and Chester,” he added. “Bringing better coffee to these cities and sharing our knowledge and passion through our barista schools in Chester and Manchester has gained us the trust of the north west’s discerning coffee drinkers! We’re now in a position to increase our offering to the people of Merseyside with a coffee shop in one of the best streets for food and drink in the city.” Founded in 2012 by Rob Darby and Tom Vincent, 200 Degrees has expanded its footprint across the Midlands and north of England. The company’s other site in Liverpool – in the Met Quarter – opened in July 2019.
Six By Nico to launch second Manchester site before end of year: The team behind the Six by Nico restaurant business has confirmed it will open its second eponymous site in Manchester, before the end of the year. The restaurant will open in the city’s Deansgate area, in John Dalton Street, underneath the Yotel hotel, this November. It opened its debut site in the city’s Spring Gardens in summer 2019. Last month, the business opened its 12th site, and first in Wales, on the ex-Zizzi restaurant site in the Castle Quarter Arcades in Cardiff. Earlier this summer, Six by Nico opened in Leeds after taking space at 9 East Parade in the city. In February, Six by Nico opened a third site under its eponymous concept in Glasgow. Last month, Propel revealed that Six by Nico was lining up an opening in Birmingham, with plans to open a site in the Chatwin Building in the city’s Colmore Row. At the start of the year, the company announced it was set to open four new sites under its core brand, as well as new bar and bakery ventures, and an international launch, on the back of a “robust financial performance”. In the spring, its bakery concept Valaria opened in Glasgow’s West End.
Buttermilk fried chicken restaurant concept’s latest site ‘exceeding all expectations’ as franchisee eyes further opportunities: Buttermilk fried chicken restaurant concept Wingers has said its latest site is “exceeding all expectations”. The franchise site, located at 17 High Street in Aldridge, near Walsall, was recently opened by electrician Jack Davis and his dad, Kem. It is the concept’s fifth location to open after launching in Lichfield in 2020, followed by sites in Wolverhampton, Hednesford and Worcester. Further sites in Leamington Spa, Shrewsbury, Nottingham and Birmingham International train station are among several in the pipeline. “We’ve completed the electrical installation for five high street Wingers restaurants and a dark kitchen,” Jack said. “As a customer, I loved the succulent, fresh fried buttermilk chicken, and it sparked an idea. I spoke to one of the founders, Bill Sunner, about investment opportunities, and some weeks later he phoned to say he’d found the perfect site in Aldridge high street. Suddenly the idea of becoming a Wingers franchisee took off! Aldridge has been busy from day one, exceeding all targets and expectations. I’ve chosen to go into the franchise in partnership with my father and uncle so we can build something together for the future. However, I’m not planning to give up the day job just yet and will continue being an electrician. Therefore, once Aldridge is fully established, I will appoint a trusted manager to run the restaurant along with our team. Who knows what the future holds, there is plenty of opportunities for expansion with Wingers, so watch this space.” Wingers launched its franchise offer last month, saying it has ambitions to grow to 50 UK sites. It offers a full turn-key franchise offering, with the company looking after the site sourcing and store build. It said it also offers “a simple operation, with low staff overheads and low cost of entry and the potential for excellent returns”.
Frank’s Café and The Camberwell Arms co-founder to open London Fields site: James Dye, the co-owner of Frank’s Café in Peckham and The Camberwell Arms in London, is to open a new music-led wine bar and restaurant in London Fields next month called Bambi. Taking on the ex-Bright site in Westgate Street, the site is named after James’ great-grandmother. It will offer up “great music, wine, and food in equal measure”, with the kitchen headed up by chef Henry Freestone, who previously won a Bib Gourmand at Peckham Cellars. Bambi will operate as a wine bar and restaurant in the early evening, while after dinner, resident DJs will take over until 1am on weekends. During the day, it will be open for coffee and deli-style sandwiches. Dye, who is also behind Gladwell’s in Camberwell Green, said: “Bambi will be a new neighbourhood spot for wine, drinks, food and music.” The new site opens on Friday, 6 October.
Sector investors Dominic Ford and Krishan Katyal partner with Liberty Wines chairman David Gleave to acquire west London Italian restaurant: Sector investors Dominic Ford and Krishan Katyal have partnered with Liberty Wines chairman David Gleave to acquire an Italian restaurant in west London. They have acquired Enoteca Turi at 87 Pimlico Road in Chelsea in a deal that includes the leasehold of the restaurant premises, the brand and a wine cellar curated over many years. Giuseppe and Pam Turi started the business in 1990 with a small trattoria in Putney before moving to Chelsea. “We are delighted to hand over the reins to Dominic, Krishan and David, who are very experienced operators, and we have every confidence they will successfully take Enoteca Turi into the next exciting phase,” they said. Ford, the former restaurants and food retail director at Harvey Nichols, said: “We are excited and honoured to be the new owners of one of the most iconic Italian restaurants in London. It is an extremely unusual opportunity to be able to take over a restaurant with a 30-year heritage and we feel privileged that Giuseppe and Pam are trusting us to continue their good work.” Gleave, who has been managing director of Liberty Wines for 26 years, added: “When Dominic approached me to join the team to acquire Enoteca Turi, I had no hesitation to have the opportunity to inherit and be the custodian of what I believe to be one of the best and most celebrated Italian wine lists in London. Giuseppe has bought extremely well over the years, which will help to maintain the extraordinary selections of fine Italian wine and continue with the competitive pricing and value moving forward.” Ford and Katyal are behind development vehicle Restaurants Inc. Last year, through Bowl Life, a subsidiary of Restaurants Inc, Katyal and Ford launched the debut franchise for Shoryu Ramen, which specialises in kyushu cuisine from the southernmost of Japan’s main islands.
Oche concept owner Social Gaming Group signs deal to launch in UAE: The Social Gaming Group, the company behind gastro-gaming entertainment brand, Oche, which made its UK debut last summer, is to expand into the UAE. The business has agreed a new franchise partnership with UAE-based hospitality company RMAL Hospitality as part of its continued international expansion plans for Oche. The brand’s first site in the UAE will be the seventh market for Oche, with other sites already situated in the UK, Singapore, Norway, The Netherlands, Sweden and Australia. The company said the move into the UAE is part of a multi-venue deal to grow the brand across the region and will see Oche expand into “desirable, city centre entertainment hubs”, with a debut site set to open in Dubai. Troy Warfield, chief executive of The Social Gaming Group, said: “We are delighted to announce our new franchise partnership with RMAL Hospitality, to continue our international development by bringing Oche and the gastro gaming concept to the UAE. Dubai is famed globally for its world class hospitality and social scene, and Oche is bringing something unique to the table, with high quality and innovative cuisine and the best in gastro gaming.” Oche Dubai will launch in early 2024. The Oche concept made its UK debut with an opening in London’s Strand last summer. Warfield told Propel last year that the company aims to eventually grow to 100 bars worldwide. It currently operates seven sites across Norway, Sweden, The Netherlands, Australia and Japan, with a US debut planned in Houston.
Akoko owner to open second West African restaurant: Aji Akokomi, the owner of fine dining West African restaurant Akoko in London’s Fitzrovia, is set to open a second restaurant, Akara, in Borough Yards. Taking its name from the black-eye bean fritter that will feature on the menu, the 40-cover restaurant will, like its sister venue, champion traditional flavours of the region. The à la carte menu will feature a variety of akaras with different fillings such as carabinero prawns and vatapa, hand dived scallops, ox cheeks and chanterelle mushroom pate. The main dishes include labu aged beef, dibi lamb, aubergine dressed with chilli oil and nokoss sea bream, while there will also be an eclectic cocktail menu and a concise wine list. Opening this autumn, Akara will feature an open kitchen and a mezzanine-level private dining room for 12 guests. Aji said: “The Akara concept has been a labour of love for quite some time, and we’ve always envisioned it here in Borough. We’re thrilled to bring Akara to this exceptional location, where the restaurant will serve as a vibrant celebration of the unique dishes, ingredients and techniques that excite and inspire us.” Akokomi opened Akoko in Berners Street, Fitzrovia, in August 2020 with MasterChef: The Professionals finalist, William Chilila.
The O2 Academy Brixton proposes stronger safety measures including more secure doors: The O2 Academy Brixton has pledged to make its doors “more secure” as it fights to stay open following a deadly crush in December last year. The south London venue was temporarily stripped of its licence after security guard Gaby Hutchinson and Rebecca Ikumelo were killed at the venue when fans without tickets tried to force their way into a show by Nigerian artist Asake. Its future is being decided by Lambeth Council’s licensing sub-committee, which is currently holding a two-day hearing to determine whether the venue is safe for use. Stronger doors are among several measures being proposed by the Academy Music Group (AMG), which runs the venue, reports the BBC. AMG said changes to its operating policies had been developed by “leading professionals” to prevent a repeat of last year’s events. The doors were breached when the crowd poured into the lobby towards the auditorium and surged over people who had fallen to the floor. Philip Kolvin KC, representing AMG, said AMG’s proposed safety measures would be “stronger” than those in place last year and would include making “the doors more secure”. AMG, which has operated the venue for 20 years, had done “all in its power to analyse what went wrong,” and has spent £1.2m on maintenance and improvements in 2023, despite being closed, Kolvin added. The venue is proposing to complete a more detailed risk assessment for every show based on the type of music and the demographic of attendees, details of which will be shared with the council and Met Police beforehand.
Michelin-starred London restaurant Sola to double in size: Michelin-starred modern Californian restaurant Sola, based in London’s Soho, is to undergo a refurbishment that will see it double in size. The expansion will see a new lower-ground floor with lounge area and private dining room added. Chef-patron Victor Garvey said the Dean Street restaurant will open “in time for Thanksgiving” in November following the revamp, which is being supported by landlord Soho Estates. Following the reopening, guests will begin their experience on the new lower-ground floor with cocktails and canapés in the lounge area before moving upstairs to their table. The private dining room seating 18 will have concertina doors that can be opened to transform the entire lower-ground floor into an exclusive-hire events space. The ground floor, which currently comprises the entire restaurant, will house the main dining room – where capacity will increase from 24 to 32, with new banquette-style seating – as well as a much-enlarged, open service-kitchen. Garvey said: “I’m stoked the team will have a much bigger kitchen, as well as a prep kitchen downstairs, in which to experiment, innovate, and of course execute the very high standard of food we’ve become known for. With so much more room to work in, and even better equipment, we can really push things towards attaining the kind of standard we want and that I know the team is capable of.” Throughout September and October, Sola’s kitchen team will be cooking on various dates at Carousel, the Fitzrovia restaurant and events space known for its ever-changing roster of chef residencies.
Staffordshire leisure group pays off £1.7m bank loan ‘in anticipation of interest rate hikes’, 2023 in line with forecasts ‘despite continuing headwinds’: Staffordshire leisure group Waterworld Leisure has paid off its bank loans of £1.7m “in anticipation of interest rate hikes” and said 2023 is so far in line with forecasts “despite continuing headwinds”. It follows a “satisfactory year of trading” for the business, which operates an indoor aqua park, adventure mini-indoor golf attraction, four fitness clubs, a swim school and childcare business. Director Mohammed Chaudhry, in his statement accompanying the accounts for the year ending 22 December 2022, said: “Overall, the group has had a satisfactory trading year. All bank debt has been repaid post year-end in anticipation of interest rate hikes. The 2023 year so far is in line with forecasts, despite continuing headwinds, and we have a number of income streams in the pipeline that will help to bolster the earnings in the foreseeable future. We have a substantial net balance sheet with a sizable net current assets. This will allow us to capitalise on any new commercial opportunities as and when they present themselves.” The business reported a pre-tax profit of £25,658,3245, up from £4,438,259 in 2021, due to exceptional items relating to a reorganisation of properties within its portfolio. Turnover was up from £7,716,771 in 2021 to £9,810,210, while adjusted Ebita rose from £5.1m to £6.5m. This compares with turnover of £6,511,306, adjusted Ebitda of £2,856,223 and a pre-tax profit of £549,486 in the last full year before covid, ending 31 December 2019. “The business has successfully recovered from the pandemic, which impacted the leisure sector significantly,” Choudhry added. “The group has performed well despite many new challenges, including the cost-of-living crisis and the resulting negative impact on discretionary spends.” The company received no government grants compared with £389,270 in 2021 and paid dividends of £4,150,000 compared with £2,452,240 in 2021.
Family-run Kent pub group opens third site: Family-run Kent pub group Contemporary Pubs has opened its third site. The business, founded by husband-and-wife team Will and Nadine Sheldon in 2019, has reopened the Kings Arms in Elham, having acquired it from Stonegate Group last October. The duo have carried out a major refurbishment at the grade-II listed 15th century venue and relaunched it as a gastropub and freehouse. Will said: “We’ve created a successful model to ensure the future of the village pub. We take unloved pubs and sensitively refurbish them, hiring a team focused on the customer and providing great service, with a strong connection with the local community. I’ve known The Kings Arms all my life, even before Contemporary Pubs existed. Nadine and I were once in the pub’s beer garden after a walk with the dogs and joked to each other that if we could run a pub, this would be the one. Today, our dream is a reality. We’ve built a great team, with the company growing from within, each with the drive to be the best and looking for a long-term career in what is still a great industry.” Contemporary Pubs is also behind The Marquis of Granby in Alkham and The Tiger Inn in Stowting.
Luxury hotel chain makes London debut: The first UK hotel by the luxury Peninsula chain, Peninsula London, has opened. Launched at 1 Grosvenor Place in Belgravia, it has 190 rooms, a spa and wellness centre, a luxury retail arcade and five different food and beverage concepts. The Lobby offers an all-day menu and afternoon tea while The Peninsula Boutique and Café is stocked with patisserie and viennoiserie, alongside freshly made produce and curated gift items. Cantonese restaurant Canton Blue offers Chinese haute cuisine, while adjoining cocktail bar Little Blue features an extensive cocktail list. Also opening on Wednesday, 4 October will be Brooklands, the hotel’s rooftop restaurant, led by chef director Claude Bosi. The Peninsula Hotels portfolio also includes venues in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Tokyo, New York, Chicago, Beverly Hills, Paris, Istanbul, Bangkok and Manila.

London North Macedonian-style pie concept goes from pop-up to permanent: London North Macedonian-style pie concept Mystic Burek is to go from pop-up to permanent. Founded during covid by Spasia Dinkovski, the concept operated initially as an online service, selling baked goods via Instragram, and also appeared at pop-ups around the capital. Mystic Burek is now preparing to launch its debut bricks and mortar site, at 227 Dartmouth Road in Sydenham, reports Hot Dinners. It will offer böreks (flaky dough pies) – with fillings such as taleggio, truffled slow cooked greens and pickled peppers; and Bulgarian white cheese, lamiri harrisa butter and wild garlic – alongside Balkan snacks, tea, coffee and soft drinks. The shop will have room inside for 16 plus benches outside and has also teamed up with nearby 161 Food and Drink for pre-ordered natural wine.

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