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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Thu 14th Sep 2023 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Exclusive – Amber Taverns like-for-likes up 12.5% on back of strong FY trading and continued expansion: Amber Taverns, the wet-led, freehold community pub operator, has said current like-for-likes sales across its circa 165-strong estate are up 12.5% compared with 2022 as it continues to looks to add 14-16 sites to its estate a year. The company, which operates sites across the north east, north west, Midlands, Wales and Scotland, said for the 53 weeks to 5 February 2023, it delivered sales of £95.7m (2022: £56.2m), which increased 70% year on year (excluding local authority grants of circa £610,000). Ebitda was £22.5m (2022: £14.2m) and operating profit was £15.8m (2022: £7.9m), which the James Baer-led business said demonstrated an “encouraging performance” versus 2022, with like-for-like sales back to pre-pandemic levels. The group said based on a revaluation of its estate, it believes the fair value as at 5 February 2023 was £219.1m (2022: £198.4m). Amber said it has benefited from having long-term fixed energy contracts in place (energy is 100% hedged out to September 2025), and as a purely wet-led business, it has not been impacted by food cost inflation or rising chef labour costs. It said it had implemented price increases during the period and trading had “withstood this well”. In April, the group said it secured an extension to its bank facilities to July 2024. The business said it will seek further investment or undertake a full refinancing during the next 12 months. During the course of the financial year, Amber recommenced its expansion programme, which is self-funded. The group opened four pubs – in Shrewsbury, Brighouse, Peterlee and Ashton under Lyne – all of which are “trading ahead of expectations”. Post year end, it has opened sites in Skegness, Chester, County Durham and Ayrshire, all of which are “trading well”. The company has sold three non-core sites – in Morecambe, Blyth and Plungington. In addition, two sites acquired in July are under refurbishment – in North Shields, Tyneside, and Bellshill in Lanarkshire, ahead of opening in the autumn. Since the year end, the business said it has continued to perform well with trading continuing to build in momentum. It said: “Unit Ebitda is ahead of pre-covid levels across the core estate, driven by Amber’s value proposition, and like-for-like sales are now seeing 12.5% growth compared with last year.” Amber said it has “an encouraging pipeline with a variety of good new site opportunities”. It said it has consistently achieved historic high returns of more than 20% on new freehold acquisitions and has lots of target towns, both within regions where it has a presence and new geographies. Baer said: “We are pleased to have delivered such a strong trading performance, underpinning our belief that our numbers continue to demonstrate the resilience of our model and the importance local communities place on having a welcoming, well invested and good value pub at their heart. This is not discretionary spend on the part of our customers but more of an essential part of their daily lives.”
 

Industry News:

Propel launches Chicago study tour for 2024 including visit to National Restaurant Association Show, open for bookings: Propel is heading to Chicago in 2024 for a study tour, which has opened for bookings. After successful trips there in the past, as well as to New York and Las Vegas, Propel is returning to Chicago. The visit takes place between Saturday, 18 May and Tuesday, 21 May and will be overseen by Myles Doran, managing director of Hospitality Inc, and former commercial director of Revolution Bars Group. The trip features a jam-packed itinerary, including a variety of restaurant, bar and nightclub tours, where delegates can explore and learn about the hottest concepts in the city, and a full day at the National Restaurant Association Show. Featuring more than 2,000 exhibitors and covering in excess of 11 football fields of space, the show will offer tastings with celebrated chefs, expert-led education sessions, keynotes from industry heavyweights and the opportunity to build vital industry connections – all under one roof. There will also be a tour of the Fulton Market neighbourhood and a pizza-making masterclass at Uno Pizzeria & Grill – the restaurant that created the deep-dish pizza. The trip will also include hosted dinners at Gibsons and The Gage restaurants. Propel managing director Paul Charity said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to gain valuable insight into the trends and concepts that are shaping Chicago and leading the way in the US market, as well as the chance to visit one of the world’s biggest industry shows, which will no doubt provide fresh ideas and inspiration for delegates.” The single occupancy price is £3,500 and twin occupancy is £3,250 with the price also including flights, three nights’ accommodation, transfers and a welcome drinks reception. For more information or to book, email myles@hospitality-inc.co.uk or call 07710 783485.
 
Next Who’s Who of UK Food and Beverage to feature 25 updated entries and five new companies, released tomorrow: The next Who’s Who of UK Food and Beverage will feature 25 updated entries and five new companies when it is released to Premium subscribers tomorrow (Friday, 15 September), at midday. This month’s edition includes 730 companies and 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 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.
 

Company News:

Inception Group on track for record sales year but continues to see squeeze on margins: Inception Group, the London hospitality group behind Mr Fogg’s, Maggie’s, Bunga Bunga and Cahoots, is on track to post a record sales year after turnover topped £22m in 2022, Propel has learned. The 14-strong business posted turnover of £22.7m in the year to 31 December 2022 (2021: £12.7m), with site Ebitda of £5.9m and company Ebitda of £3.4m (2021: £2.4m). Co-founder Charlie Gilkes said: “2022 was a very strong year with record Ebitda for the group. Despite a difficult January (adversely affected by the Omicron covid wave), sales recovered well across the board. In July 2022 we opened Mr Fogg’s Apothecary in Mayfair and Control Room B at Battersea Power Station in October. Both sites contributed positive site operating profits in their first year. From the summer onwards, train strikes had a material impact on sales, and like many operators, we started to feel the impact of inflationary pressures on our margins.” Gilkes said while sales have remained in positive like-for-like growth during the current year and the business is on course to “considerably exceed our 2022 revenue with a record year of sales”, it has continued to see a squeeze on its margins. He said: “We have had two new openings so far this year – Mr Fogg’s Pawnbrokers and Mr Fogg’s Hat Tavern and Gin Club, both in Soho – and they have made strong starts in line with our expectations. We have also signed another new lease on a site in Borough Yards that will open early next year.” In terms of looking outside the capital for future growth, Gilkes told Propel: “We believe that our concepts would travel well to other cities. We are very excited at the prospect of opening outside of London. We are looking at sites in other cities but we are taking our time so we can fully understand the trading nuances of operating outside of London.” In May, the company secured £6.7m of new funding via a loan provided by OakNorth, to help support its expansion plans. Gilkes said: “We don’t have any immediate need to refinance next year, but we are of course regularly reviewing our capital requirements and the cost of our debt to ensure we have enough available funding at competitive rates to support our growth plans.” Inception Group features in the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book, the latest edition of which was sent to Premium subscribers on Friday (8 September). Its turnover of £12,706,366 for the year to 31 December 2021 is the 455th 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 jo.charity@propelinfo.com to upgrade your subscription.

Yolk close to closing fundraising round to aid double opening: Fast-growing “fine fast food” business Yolk is close to closing the £1.75m fundraise it launched in May, as it gears up for further growth across London, Propel has learned. The Nick Philpot-led concept, which is “aiming to disrupt the chain-led monotony of the grab and go market”, currently operates five sites in London, in Canary Wharf, London Bridge, New Street Square, Soho and Broadgate, all of which it said are already profitable. It is targeting more than 25 sites within the next three financial years, with three of those already agreed with landlords. By June 2024, the company plans to be at ten-plus sites and strongly net profitable at group level. Philpot told Propel that the new capital, which the business is raising through private equity firm Growthdeck, will help with new openings in Victoria and The Strand. He said that “several further locations are being explored for early 2024”. Last month, Yolk reported it saw record sales in July, with average weekly takings up 10% on its previous record.

Knoops plans to reach 20-site mark by end of March, to include debut in Scotland: Luxury hot chocolate shop concept Knoops plans to reach the 20-site mark by the end of next March, which will include new openings in Guildford and Edinburgh, Propel has learned. Earlier this week, Knoops opened its latest site, and 13th overall, in Bath’s Old Bond Street. It is also lining up an opening at the former Blackstocks fish and chips shop at 33 Northgate in Chester. Propel now understands that Knoops has secured a site in Guildford’s Market Street and is close to securing a site in Edinburgh, which would mark its debut in Scotland. On the back of the Bath opening, chief executive William Gordon-Harris said: “With Chester, Guildford and Edinburgh all in production and the next few far into negotiations, we should hit our 20-store milestone in this financial year.” The business plans to open more than 120 sites in the UK and 3,000 globally within the next seven years.

Smokestak founder David Carter linked to Borough opening: Chef David Carter, the founder of Smokestak and co-founder of Manteca, is being linked with the opening of a new restaurant in London’s Borough Market. Propel understands that Carter has applied to open a new restaurant on the ex-Rabot 1745 site in Bedale Street, under the name Oma Restaurant. It is thought the site could trade under the names Oma and Agora and could have a Greek-influence. Carter opened Smokestak in Sclater Street, Shoreditch, in 2016. At the end of 2021, he teamed up with fellow chef Chris Leach to open the first bricks-and-mortar site for their pop-up pasta concept Manteca, in Curtain Road, Shoreditch.

Taster launches spicy fried chicken concept in collaboration with UK rapper as it targets Generation Z customers: Delivery-only kitchen concept Taster, which was founded by early Deliveroo executive Anton Soulie,r has launched its latest concept, in collaboration with UK rapper ArrDee. “Ugly Chicken”, a new spicy fried chicken concept, is launching on Deliveroo, UberEats and Just Eat from four locations across London, Brighton and Birmingham, with further expansion planned into 2024. The rapper has worked with Taster, which has more than 30 franchise locations across the UK and four other European countries, to craft the fried chicken menu that is designed to Generation Z; 50% of which are ordering food on delivery services at least once per week, said Taster. The menu includes the Ugly Burger, XL Uglylicious Tenders and UK Wings, with customers able to choose the level of spice added to their meal. Sides include hot waffle fries and mac ‘n’ cheese bites. All meals come with Ugly Chicken’s 24 carat gold ranch sauce. The concept is initially launching on delivery platforms from two locations in London – Islington and Queens Park – as well as sites in central Birmingham and Brighton. Ugly Chicken expects to launch in further locations over the coming months – including Manchester, Leeds, Glasgow and Bristol. “Ugly Chicken isn’t just about food; it’s about bringing people together through a shared love for flavour, spice, and style,” said ArrDee. Soulier added: “The launch of Ugly Chicken is a significant moment for Taster in the UK market. We’re giving power to the most exciting up and coming creators – like ArrDee – to build delivery concepts that resonate with their massive and extremely engaged Generation Z audiences. ArrDee has brought a lot of energy to this process and has put his unique creative stamp on this concept.”

Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company to close Wychwood Brewery: Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company (CMBC) has announced plans to close Wychwood Brewery in Oxfordshire from November this year. The company said the closure was in line with the break clause on CMBC’s lease with the landlord. The brewery, located in Witney in the Cotswolds, will continue to operate as normal for the coming months. Wychwood brands – such as Hobgoblin, Firecatcher and Dry Neck – will continue to be brewed in the CMBC network. The business said it is providing support to the six colleagues employed at the brewery during the consultation period over the proposals and will also explore any opportunities for redeployment within the business. CMBC said it will be working with partners and customers in the region to ensure they are prepared and supported through the change. Paul Davies, chief executive of CMBC, said: “We understand the depth of feeling towards Wychwood Brewery, and have tremendous pride in our team there. Our number one focus is giving staff all the support they need as we begin the consultation on this proposal. The UK ale market is an incredibly competitive space, and combined with a turbulent economic outlook for the UK, provides for a challenging environment for industry to navigate. By making use of the break clause in our lease for Wychwood Brewery, we can consolidate our brewing network to achieve greater efficiency and productivity, supporting ongoing investment in our people and business.” Over the past year, CMBC has closed the Jennings Brewery in Cockermouth, sold the Eagle Brewery in Bedford to its long-term partner Spanish brewer SA Damm, and put the Ringwood Brewery in Hampshire on the market.
 
Multi-format padel concept coming to London’s O2: Multi-format padel concept Padel Social Club is coming to London’s The O2 arena. It has received planning permission to build a new facility at the venue as the popularity of the sport “continues to soar”, with “demand far outweighing the number of courts available”. Designed to be a social hub for padel players, Padel Social Club at The O2 will occupy 13,000 square feet and feature three indoor courts, social areas, a bar, a cafe with menus from rotating partnerships with restaurants and chefs, and a mezzanine with riverside views. Although the business has mainly operated as a pop-up concept, its location at The O2 will be a permanent fixture that it is hoped will become a gateway to hosting professional international padel events. It follows Padel Social Club’s courts at Soho House’s Babington House, which launched last year, and a pop-up in Cannes, plus a further pop-up that will launch at Empress Place in Earls Court later this month. Kristian Hunter, chief executive of Padel Social Club, said: “Since we started the business, we’ve been focused on trying to bring our clubs to iconic locations, and there is hardly anything more iconic than The O2. This, alongside our imminent show court in Earls Court, will be a great platform to showcase the Padel Social Club experience. We’ve always felt there was a market in the UK to build padel clubs, with a big part of the experience focused on the social nature of the game.” According to the Playtomic’s Global Padel Report, the sport has been growing by more than 25% year on year. In 2022, courts in the UK were up 100%, but it still holds some of the lowest numbers by comparison to its European neighbours. Scandinavian padel operator Rocket Padel made its debut UK earlier this year, with sites in Bristol and Battersea, as part of plans to open up to 20 new sites across the country, while fellow padel concept Club de Padel is set to open its first site, in Manchester.

Zonal strengthens executive team with trio of appointments: Hospitality technology supplier Zonal has strengthened its executive team with a new chief operating officer, chief customer officer and chief financial officer. Joel Chapman, formerly chief customer officer, has taken on the role of chief operating officer, having worked at Zonal for more than 20 years. At the same time, account services director Max Gee has been promoted to chief customer officer, filling the role left vacant by Chapman’s new appointment. He is also a long-term employee of Zonal, having first arrived in the business in 2012. The third appointment is Kris Rushton who has become the company’s new chief financial officer, a promotion from his previous role as finance director. He has climbed the ranks at Zonal, having joined in 2016 as a finance manager. Zonal chief executive Stuart McLean said: “We are excited to make these appointments and they are all great examples of what a successful career at Zonal can look like. All these appointments are well-deserved, and I am looking forward to working with them all and the wider executive team to really catapult Zonal to the next level.”
 
SSP to further roll out Point travel market brand with Thailand launch: SSP Group, the operator of food and beverage outlets in travel locations worldwide, is to open seven Point stores at Thailand’s Suvarnabhumi airport, offering passengers a range of food options en route to their departure gate. Six of the new stores are compact units, while a larger unit will also serve as a kitchen to serve the other outlets. They will be located across various airside locations in the international terminal. Reflecting the varying passenger demographic of each concourse, the food-led offer will include a mix of western staples such as sandwiches and pastries, and Asian favourites including steamed buns, rice boxes and rolls, as well as Thai comfort foods such as fried rice. Food items will be freshly prepared on site rather than being supplied pre-packaged. The stores will also sell branded confectionery and bean-to-cup coffee. The Point brand was developed in 2006 in Norway specifically for the travel market before the look and feel was updated so it would work in other geographies. The offer was then rolled out to the Spanish market, and openings are now planned in other markets. Jonathan Robinson, chief executive of SSP Asia Pacific said; “Our experience, supported by the findings of our latest customer survey, shows convenience matters more than ever to airport passengers. These new Point outlets will offer passengers travelling through Suvarnabhumi a selection of great quality, delicious meals and snacks to enjoy.”
 
Ready Burger confirms flagship restaurant opening, complete with retro games space: Ready Burger, the plant-based restaurant concept founded by boxer Anthony Joshua’s former personal chef Adam Clark, has confirmed the opening of its first restaurant site, which includes a retro games space. As revealed by Propel earlier this week, Ready Burger, which closed its latest crowdfunding campaign on Crowdcube earlier this summer after raising more than £290,000, has opened on the former Bill’s site in Watford’s High Street. The company was aiming to raise £250,000, offering 3.5% equity, with a pre-money valuation of £6,902,385. The campaign ended up raising £291,460 from 255 investors. Co-founder and chief executive Max Miller said: “After closing our round in late July, we took on a monumental task to open a store in four weeks in a prime high street location on a super tight budget. We’ve been hard at work, with a view to bring something quite unique to the market. In this incredible 4,500 square-foot space, we’ve installed new technology-focused systems to enable order at table via phone, new kiosk technology and built a whole range of new products, increasing our menu by more than 40%, including a plant-based dessert range! We’ve added some real fun to the space from a range of free-play games, table tennis, air hockey, four retro arcade machines and a Nintendo 64 area with three stations set up for some old-school game play, not to mention a great range of slushies and milkshakes and one of the UK’s largest range of plant based refillable sodas. All while maintaining highly competitive, affordable prices with a truly enhanced experience. Burgers start from as little as £2.99!” Last year, Ready Burger converted its only site in London’s Crouch End into a dark kitchen. Adam Bowers, of onepoint2, acted on the Watford deal.
 
Liverpool operators set to open new all-day restaurant: Liverpool father and son operators, Donato and Antonio Cillo, are set to open a new all-day restaurant in the city. The duo, who are behind the Italian Quarter in the city centre, will next month open Botanico in South Liverpool. It will open in the former Il Ristorante by Crust site in Woolton Village, offering a full brunch menu followed by afternoon tea and a bistro evening menu. It will also have an all-day pizza offering and fresh bakery section, where bread and pastries are made in house each day. Creating 25 jobs, Botanico will have a capacity of 90 in the main restaurant plus 30 in a dedicated tea room. Donato said: “Botanico will bring an exciting and fresh approach to this space in Woolton Village.” The Cillos have operated venues such as Brunchin, Hey Farina, P&D Gran Caffe and Antonietta Cakes and Gelato in Liverpool’s Italian quarter since 2010. Donato, originally from Potenza in Basilicata, previously had his own restaurant in Italy. He originally came to Liverpool a few times a year as a consultant to train staff at the Il Forno restaurant in Duke Street, before deciding to start his own business in the city.
 
Hotel company Veladail returns to profit, renews £62m bank loan: Hotel company Veladail returned to profit in the year ending 31 December 2022 as it renewed a bank loan of more than £62m. The company, which operates hotels in central London and Hatfield and a golf course in Watford, alongside a property portfolio, turned a £3,668,499 pre-tax loss in 2021 into a profit of £223,425. This compares with a £2,337,293 loss in the last year before covid, ending 31 December 2019. Turnover rose from £8,748,298 in 2021 to £18,936,774 (2019: £20, 362,109). It received £12,000 in government grants compared with £885,000 in 2021. No dividends were paid (2021: nil). Director Sudha Gulhati, in his statement accompanying the accounts, said: “During the year, the group has faced new challenges such as increased costs of operation, supply shortages, a tight labour market and the instability in the property market. However, the group has adapted effectively to these challenges and has managed to navigate through the difficulties. Despite the obstacles, the group has shown resilience and has successfully adjusted its operations to meet the evolving demands of the post-covid environment. The directors consider the financial position and future prospects to be in line with expectations. Overall, the balance sheet remains strong and well-positioned for future growth from both a liquidity and capital perspective.” The company said a “substantial movement” in net current liabilities to £60,859,479 from £14,942,673 can be attributed primarily to the inclusion of the bank loan of £62,300,000 due within one year, which was renewed after the year-end. It added that the group’s financial position has shown “a significant improvement”, notably reflected in total net assets, which increased to £64,194,200 from £61,480,502. The directors also noted that as they continue to explore the redevelopment of the golf course and surrounding grounds – resulting in the closure of operations there in October 2019 – there was no turnover from it during the year (2021: nil), and none is expected in the foreseeable future.
 
Blacklock awarded B-Corp status: Skinny chops concept Blacklock has become B-Corp certified. Following an 18-month assessment process, the five-strong, London-based Blacklock joins a global community of businesses “striving to prioritise purpose over profit”. B-Corp businesses are certified by non-profit global organisation, B Lab, and are audited on their commitment to bring benefit to not only shareholders, but also their stakeholders, including their staff, customers, communities, supply chain and the planet. Gordon Ker, founder of Blacklock, said: “When we first heard about B Corp back in lockdown it immediately resonated with us and how we do things that puts our people at the heart of everything, seeking to be a brilliant place to work first and foremost and have a positive impact more widely while running great restaurants. The journey to becoming certified has been both rigorous and rewarding, rubber stamping where we are doing well and shining a light on where we can improve. Certification is really just the start. We’re far from perfect and I’m excited (if a little apprehensive) about the community of inspiring businesses we’re joining and the opportunities that lie ahead to be a part of something bigger.” Earlier this month, Propel revealed Blacklock is set to make its regional debut with an opening in Manchester early next year. It has lined up an opening in the grade II-listed Freetrade Exchange building, at 37 Peter Street in the city.
 
Scottish health spa resort refinances almost £3m of loans after returning to profit: Scottish health spa resort Stobo Castle refinanced almost £3m of loans after returning to profit in the year ending 31 December 2022. It turned a pre-tax loss of £615,921 in 2021 into a profit of £589,219. This compares with a profit of £828,141 in the last full year before covid, ending 31 December 2019. Turnover grew from £4,205,988 in 2021 to £8,782,657 (2019: £8,409,803). It received no government grants compared with £984,882 in 2021. Dividends of £256,734 were paid (2021: nil). Director Elliott Winyard, in his statement accompanying the accounts, said the business generated cash through the pandemic through the sale of gift cards. He added: “2022 has been a successful year of trading, with trading and profitability returning to pre-pandemic levels. Since 1 July 2021 (post lockdown), the company has seen huge demand for its services. The cash balance remains strong, allowing the company to meet liabilities as they fall due.” The company’s bank loans were refinanced in April 2023 – one for £2m and the other for £900,000. They are both subject to interest at 1.78% over the base rate and repayable over ten years.
 
Rowley Leigh launches Laylow residency: Chef, restaurateur and author Rowley Leigh has launched a residency at the Laylow club and restaurant in London’s Notting Hill. Leigh, who is behind Le Café Anglais and Kensington Place, has opened the doors to bistro Chez Rowley, taking inspiration from family holidays across Europe. It features a menu that is Italian leaning and showcases dishes which “always use one ingredient less rather than one more”. These include seasonal tomatoes and stracciatella; escalivada with girolles; cuttlefish and clams on toast; and seared mackerel with bread sauce and pickled gooseberries. Drinks will feature an extensive selection of spirits, including a specialist range of tequilas and mezcals. “Chez Rowley will bring forth a sense of comfort, holiday nostalgia and the dishes we like to eat,” said Rowley. Laylow co-founder Taz Fustok added: “Rowley’s such an inspiration who will bring a sense of old school romance to Notting Hill – just what it’s missing!”
 
Midlands bakery to open tenth site early next year: Midlands bakery Butterwick will open its tenth site early next year. The business announced in June that it would be opening a new shop in the former Shoe Zone store in Melton Mowbray’s South Parade, in the centre of the town. A statement posted on Butterwick’s social media pages gave an update, reports Leicestershire Live. It said: “Hey people of Melton. We’ve had lots of messages and comments asking if we are still coming. Fear not! We are definitely still bringing Butterwick to South Parade. We are experiencing some delays that are out of our control though we are aiming to be open by early 2024. Thanks so much for all the messages and comments, we’re so glad the people of Melton are as excited as we are.” Butterwick was started in 2017 by husband-and-wife duo Ryan and Fiona Scarborough, who originally set out as a bespoke wedding cake specialist which sold smaller bakes on the side. However, due to increasing demand, they adjusted the business model and began to focus on creating hand crafted products including doughnuts, brownies, cupcakes and cookie sandwiches. It already has two sites in both Corby and Market Harborough and one each in Kettering, Northampton, Rugby, Rushden Lakes and Wellingborough. A further new site in Hinckley is also in the pipeline, and it also plans to open a second production facility.
 
Nottingham bar owners to open third site on same street: Nottingham bar owners Will Chambers and Lau Wensink are set to open their third site on the same street in the city. The owners of cocktail bar 31K and breakfast bar Yolk in Hockley’s Goose Gate are preparing to open a casual fine dining restaurant in a former bubble tea shop on the corner with Brightmoor Street. A makeover is underway, and while funds are being raised to equip the kitchen, the two-storey building will be used for private hire for drinks and canapes, reports Nottingham Live. “We have been looking at this particular shop for some time,” Lau said. “It has been empty for about three years. It’s right next door to us, it makes sense to keep everything close. We’ve had a few offers of doing things in other cities or other parts of Nottingham, such as Beeston or West Bridgford, but me and Will feel very strongly if we have to split our time between two separate sites, the quality of what we have tried to build is going to diminish. Since this is so close, we can dedicate all our attention to just this bit and keep this team together rather than trying to run two separate teams. It’s a natural progression. Why do we want to do it? We can’t sit still! Hockley is a great place. We’ve believed in it for years and I think this just makes sense to us in terms of an addition. We can run it well with what we have right next door.” While a name has not yet been agreed, Lau added: “I can confirm is it will have a K in it because we have Yolk and 31K, and it’s our tradition now.”
 
New coffee shop and pizza and wine bar opens in London’s Notting Hill: A new coffee shop by day which turns into a pizza and natural wine bar by night has opened in London’s Notting Hill. Ria’s has launched in the former Cafe De Thai at 29 All Saints Road, a first site for Ria Morgan and husband Dave, reports Hot Dinners. Ria wrote on Instagram that they’re “both hugely passionate about creating a space that feels like home, for the community that we build and the employees who make it happen”. She added that Ria’s will provide staff with mental health days every quarter and a living wage. “We’re on a mission to change hospitality for the better, creating spaces that feel like home, all while caring for the people that make it that way,” she said. The deep pan-style Detroit pizza pies are made with wildfarmed flour, which can be bought whole or by the slice, with toppings including whipped ricotta and tomato, garlic wild mushroom, roasted king prawns and vegan n’duja. There is also a selection of small plates, and cocktails on tap or from the bottle.
 
London hot doughnut business Treats Club to open six-month pop-up in Soho: London hot doughnut business Treats Club is to operate a six-month pop-up in Soho. The company has agreed a deal with Shaftesbury Capital to open at 1 Kingly Street from Friday (15 September). From the 85 square-foot kiosk, Treats Club will offer a selection of its doughnuts, plus exclusive products and rotating specials every month, including strawberry white chocolate and cornflake cereal milk. The business will also be serving its “do-ssaint” (a doughnut-croissant hybrid) alongside new pastries and bakes. Hot chocolate, soft serve ice cream and coffee will also feature on the menu.

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