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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Tue 19th Sep 2023 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Market Halls to return to the expansion trail on the back of strong FY performance: Market Halls, the London-based food market hall operator, is to return to the expansion trail, with plans to launch regionally. It comes after the Gees Court Partners-backed company reported revenue increased 155% to £22m in the 12 months to July 2023 compared with £8.6m the year before. The business – which operates sites in London’s Oxford Street, Canary Wharf and Victoria – said it was its intention to open an average of two to three Market Halls sites per year over the next five years in major cities and regional hubs across the country, with an ambition to become the UK’s largest food hall operator. Target cities include Birmingham, Brighton, Bristol, Liverpool, Leeds, Cardiff, Manchester, Glasgow and Edinburgh. It said it would achieve this through “pursuing a combination of developing new venues and acquiring existing businesses in a market ripe for consolidation”. The business said while the sales increase was in part attributable to covid-related soft trading in the previous financial year, it also “demonstrates strong underlying growth”, with like-for-like sales up 40%. Ebitda before headquarters costs grew to £2.6m during the year. The company said it had subsequently had an “impressive start” to the new financial year, achieving consecutive record trading weeks and like-for-like sales growth in the first four trading weeks of 38%. It said sales at Victoria, Market Halls’ most established venue, are now performing well above pre-covid levels. The company said: “The group’s site in Oxford Street continues to grow and, with Canary Wharf now firmly established as a destination for both business and pleasure, the newest Market Halls venue is comfortably surpassing expectations, with annualised sales of £11m-plus.” Andy Lewis-Pratt, chief executive of Market Halls, said: “To have seen the popularity of our venues surge despite the tough economic environment is testament to the strength of the Market Halls proposition. Our model is built to be resilient, and it’s heartening to see the hard work of our teams paying off in numbers like these. With the momentum we built through FY22 and FY23 and the exceptionally strong start to FY24, we are confident in our ability to keep growing and becoming increasingly profitable as we work towards our goal of becoming the UK’s largest food hall operator.” Market Halls said it welcomed three million guests through its doors in FY23 and now has 43,000 social media followers and 66,000 email subscribers. Esat Kolege, founding partner at Gees Court, said: “Now that we have three great venues demonstrating solid unit economics and cash flow, we are looking forward to building an exciting line-up of new venues and potential partnerships with independent food halls across the UK.”

Industry News:

Sponsored message – introducing Site Universe to transform hospitality insights: Hospitality Data Insights (HDI) has introduced Site Universe, an innovative product that offers “unparalleled” insights into more than 160,000 UK hospitality venues, including pubs, restaurants, coffee shops, sandwich shops, and fast-food outlets. Site Universe provides more than 100 data points per venue, derived from the spending habits of 10.2 million unique customers. These metrics cover sales profiles, customer demographics and venue quality classifications, “providing a wealth of information for both suppliers and operators”. HDI said for suppliers, Site Universe helps with identifying prospect accounts, refining brand targeting for specific venues and enhancing their understanding of existing and potential customers. It added operators benefit from deep local market insights, supporting location and estate planning efforts. Mark Bentley, business development director at HDI, said: “Launching Site Universe is another significant milestone for us as a business, further elevating data quality within the hospitality sector. Site Universe complements its sister product, Site Intel Pro, which enables operators to understand the performance of individual sites compared with their local competitors. It’s been great to see a number of our partners switch to Site Universe in the immediate weeks since its launch and we’re excited about the possibilities of welcoming more businesses on board to leverage our unique site-level data sources.” To find out more, email hello@hdinsights.com. If you have a sponsored message you would like to see featured in this newsletter position, email paul.charity@propelinfo.com.
 
Heartwood Collection CEO Richard Ferrier to speak at final Propel Multi-Club Conference of 2023, three free places per company for operators: Richard Ferrier, chief executive of the Heartwood Collection, will be among the speakers at the final Propel Multi-Club Conference of 2023. The conference takes place on Thursday, 16 November, at the Millennium Gloucester Hotel in London’s Kensington, and is open for bookings. The all-day conference will focus on “progress in an era of strong headwinds”. Ferrier will discuss rebranding the business, growing a premium pub estate, moving into the competitive letting rooms sector and growing in a challenging market. For the full speaker schedule, click here. Operators can book up to three free places per company by emailing kai.kirkman@propelinfo.com. Meanwhile, the Talent and Training Conference takes place on Tuesday, 3 October at One Moorgate Place in London. 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.
 
Established fast food franchises among 56 new businesses joining updated Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies: A number of established fast food franchises are among the 56 new multi-site companies being added to the next edition of the Propel Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies, which will be released on Friday, 29 September, at midday. The updated Propel Multi-Site Database, which is produced in association with Virgate, features Pizza GoGo, the franchise that has grown to more than 100 UK sites, predominantly in the south east of England, which is aiming to open new branches across the UK. Milkshake bar company Shakeaway, founded in Bournemouth in 1999, which has more than 50 stores in the UK and abroad – including Jordan, Poland and Timor – will also be featured. Also added is Dixy Chicken, the fast food chain that specialises in halal chicken, which was created in 1986 and has 80 outlets, plus the chicken and ribs brand Favorite Chicken, which started out in 1986 and operates approximately 80 outlets. Premium subscribers will also receive a 4,000-word report on the new additions to the database. The comprehensive database is updated monthly and provides company names, the people in charge, how many sites each firm operates, its trading name and its registered name at Companies House if different. The database now features 2,983 companies. Premium subscribers are also to receive access to all the videos from this month's Propel Multi-Club Conference and summer party. They will be sent 12 videos on Friday, 29 September at 9am. Premium subscribers also receive access to five other databases: the New Openings Database; the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book; the UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database; the UK Food and Beverage Franchisee Database; and the Who's Who of UK Food and Beverage. 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 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.
 
Business rates relief vital if more pubs aren’t to join the hundreds lost in first half of 2023: Trade bodies and pressure groups have united in demanding business rates relief for pubs if more aren’t to join the hundreds lost in the first half of 2023. It follows new government statistics that show 383 pubs were lost for good in the first six months of the year, the equivalent of two pubs a day. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “These figures are a stark reminder of the realities facing pubs. Even with rising costs and interest rates, more pain is set to come with an almost billion-pound hike in business rates next April. If the government wants to back the nation’s hospitality venues, not lose them, it needs to urgently commit to an extension of business rates relief and a freeze in the current multiplier.” British Beer & Pub Association chief executive Emma McClarkin added: “These figures don’t just tell the story of the hard times pubs have faced the past few years but indicate what’s to come if the government fails to extend the business rates relief and implement wider business reform.” Nik Antona, chairman of the Campaign for Real Ale, said: “Governments across the UK need to reform and replace the deeply unfair business rates systems to give pubs a fighting chance of surviving and thriving.” One pub that has disappeared in recent months is the Crooked House, the historic former Marston’s pub in the West Midlands that burned down in August after being sold to new owners, and is now subject of a criminal investigation. Antona added: “On the back of the Crooked House affair, we are also calling on the government to strengthen planning laws to make sure councils in England can protect pubs and require them to be converted back to their original use, or rebuilt brick by brick, if they are unlawfully converted or demolished.”

Hospitality leaders turn to technology to combat staff retention and churn challenge: Technology is helping hospitality improve staffing related challenges such as retention and churn, but more investment is needed to maximise efficiencies, according to the latest Business Confidence Survey from CGA by NIQ and Fourth. The exclusive poll of business leaders shows 42% currently have a digital solution to help retain staff, with another 31% planning to invest in one over the next 12 months. Staff retention is the joint highest selection when it comes to where leaders are planning further investment in technology over the next 12 months, along with waste reduction. Half (49%) of leaders said they plan to increase their spending on technology over the next 12 months, making it the third biggest priority after staff training and site expansion. Shortages of budget, time and in-house skills are the three main barriers facing those who are not currently investing. The research also reveals widespread interest in artificial intelligence (AI)-powered solutions, with 51% believing it can have a medium level impact on their day-to-day operations, while 5% believe it will have a high impact. The remainder (44%) expect no or minimal impact from the implementation of AI-powered solutions. Sebastien Sepierre, managing director – EMEA, Fourth, said: “Hospitality leaders are looking for ways to relieve operational pressures in the current economic climate while also protecting the customer experience. It’s clear that operators see technology as a solution to mitigate staff shortages, maximise available resources and reduce the admin burden on managers.” Karl Chessell, CGA by NIQ’s director – hospitality operators and food, EMEA, added: “Digital expertise in the industry has accelerated over the last few years, but targeted investment is still needed to unleash its full potential to reduce admin burdens, staff turnover and food waste.”

Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a premium casual dining brand that has ambitious growth plans and is seeking an area manager. A COREcruitment spokesperson said: “You will currently be managing multiple sites, have a keen eye for fresh food and provide exceptional service. Stability and a strong track record with quality brands are key. You'll need to be a charismatic leader, capable of coaching and mentoring your team while consistently achieving outstanding sales and results.” The salary is up to £75,000 and the position is based in London. For more information, email kate@corecruitment.com.

Company News:

Maguro Group to make BUNSIK its first franchise with aim of 20 sites by 2026, K-pop culture opening up opportunities for Korean concepts: Maguro Group is set to make BUNSIK its first franchise, with an aim of 20 sites by 2026, director Jae Cho has told Propel. Founded in 2009, the north west London group has grown to nine restaurants across several brands including Maguro Sushi, GOGI, BULLGOGI, Itaewon Burger & Chicken and its latest addition, Pochawa Grill in Chinatown London. But its Korean street food concept BUNSIK, which after making its debut in 2021 has already grown to three London sites and one in Manchester. “BUNSIK has been going really well and we’re preparing to roll it out as a franchise next year,” Cho said. “We see it as having 20 sites over the next two to three years, ten franchised and ten company owned. We opened our first site outside of London two months ago, in Manchester, and it has exceeded all expectations. We’re looking at places like Birmingham, Leeds and Cambridge for it, and more in London too. We chose it to franchise as it’s easier to run with a simple menu, a good value price point and the fact it is aimed at the younger generation.” Maguro’s other concepts are all currently single sites, but that’s not to say they will stay that way as BUNSIK grows, with a second BULLGOGI (Korean BBQ) site planned for Manchester early next year. “There’s no proper Korean barbecue in Manchester,” Cho said. “In fact, there’s a lack of real Korean restaurants everywhere.” Cho sees all that changing due to the influence of K-pop culture among younger generations in global markets such as the UK. “It’s definitely an opportunity for Korean concepts as people now know a lot more about Korean culture,” he added. “It’s really big in the US – Korean restaurants are everywhere in New York – but when I first came here as a student 23 years ago, I was meeting people who hadn’t even heard of Seoul. Now everybody knows about Korea, but we have had a bit of a head start. When I first started out with a GOGI (Korean BBQ) restaurant, the first five years were really bad, but the last two or three years have been really big for us.”
 
Haven owner Bourne Leisure returns to profit as business builds back from pandemic: Haven owner Bourne Leisure has reported it returned to profit in its first full year of trading under new ownership as the business bounced back from the covid pandemic. The company, which also operates the 15-strong Warner Leisure Hotels, saw revenue of £1,193,117,000 for the year ending 31 December 2022 versus £984,929,000 for the previous ten months, with Bourne Leisure having been bought in February 2021 by private equity firm Blackstone. The 2022 figures also included ten months of trading for Butlin’s, which was sold in October 2022 for £300m to the Harris family, which jointly established Bourne Leisure in 1964. Ebitda was £276,010,000 versus £279,514,000 for the prior ten months. It made a pre-tax profit of £64,987,000 versus a loss of £19,483,000 in the previous ten months. During the period, Bourne Leisure acquired Walter John Cook & Sons for £21.4m, which operated a holiday park in Skegness, Lincolnshire, and that has now reopened under the circa 40-strong Haven brand. Bourne Leisure also bought the Runnymede on Thames Hotel in Egham, Surrey, for £50.6m, and that is being converted to the Warner brand and is due to open in 2024. Capital expenditure was £219.4m in 2022 (2021: £99.1m) including £10.6m (2021: £9.7m) for the development of guest focused applications and websites “to enhance the guest experience and improve efficiency”. The 2022 expenditure included continued investment in hire fleet, pitches, entertainment complexes and swimming pools at Haven and improving the guest experience and accommodation at Warner and Butlin’s. It also included the conversion of its Heythrop Park hotel in the Cotswolds into a Warner hotel, which opened in the second half of 2022. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “In 2022, the group saw an increase in demand for holidays within the UK, which has seen the group thrive and return a positive performance (in line with pre-covid levels). The group is in a strong position, with profitability expected to increase in 2023.” No dividend was paid (2021: nil). Bourne Leisure features in the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book. Its revenue of revenue of £1,193,117,000 for the year ending 31 December 2022 is the tenth 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.
 
UK bubble tea brand Cupp closing in on overseas debut as it holds talks with potential international master franchisees: UK bubble tea brand Cupp is closing in on an overseas debut as it holds talks with several potential international master franchisees, Propel has learned. The franchise brand, founded by Lee Peacock in 2012, has now grown to 33 UK stores, and earlier this year stated an ambition to reach 50 sites by Christmas. It has also been exploring international expansion this year and could well enter its first overseas market by the end of 2023. “Cupp is pleased to announce ongoing discussions with four potential international master franchisees,” the business said. “These discussions signify the brand’s ambitious global expansion plans, aimed at introducing Cupp to new markets around the world. More details about these international partnerships will be unveiled in the coming months.” In May, Propel revealed that Cupp was seeking international master partners in India, Saudi Arabia, France, Germany, the US and Canada, and was also seeking a master franchise deal for Northern Ireland. It comes as Cupp, which previously focused on multi-site franchise agreements, said it is taking a “significant development in its franchising journey” by now offering single store franchise deals. Peacock said: “Cupp was founded on the idea of bringing authentic boba tea and the culture of the famous Taiwanese drinks to the UK. We’ve witnessed incredible growth through franchising, and we are excited to take the next step by offering single store franchise opportunities. This is a testament to our commitment to making boba tea accessible to even more people.”
 
BrewDog sets out openings pipeline, to add Waterloo pub: James Watt, chief executive and co-founder of Scottish brewer and pub operator BrewDog, has set out the group’s opening programme for the rest of the year and into 2024, including the addition of a pub in London’s Waterloo. Earlier this year, the company, which opened a 26,000 square-foot flagship site in Waterloo in August 2022, announced ambitious plans to expand its current circa 100-strong global bar estate, targeting 300 bars by 2030. Watt said: “We have our outstanding location in Amsterdam Centraal Station due to open week commencing 9 October. Our new Hong Kong location looks set to open week commencing 16 October, and on the week of 20 October, we are going to add to our presence in Waterloo station by opening a BrewDog pub concept in the station, building on bars like the Duke of Battersea and Birdcage. The week commencing 4 December will see us open the door to our show-stopping site in Gatwick airport as well as our long-awaited new location in Perth, Australia. Chandigarh, our fifth Indian location, is almost ready to go, and we are just waiting for the final sign off from building control, and there is also an outside chance that Milan and Lincoln could also open later this year. As we look into 2024, we are on track to open Dubai, Denver and an Edinburgh Waverley location in January and February, and the pipeline beyond that looks just as exciting as the brilliant opening schedule we are ending 2023 with.”
 
Aldi to launch pizza delivery service for one day: Discount supermarket chain Aldi is to launch its first pizza delivery service across three cities on Tuesday, 3 October. Customers can pre-order pizzas from the company’s new Ultimate Takeaway range for £3.99 each, no delivery cost incurred. Launching in Manchester, Edinburgh and Cardiff to coincide with Fresher’s Week, consumers within selected postcodes are able to pre-book their delivery time slot via a dedicated website. Within the new Ultimate Takeaway range are three Domino’s inspired flavours: The Meaty One (inspired by Meateor), The Banger (inspired by Absolute Banger) and The Texas Style BBQ Chicken & Bacon (inspired by Texas barbecue). The delivery service will allow customers to select up to two of these new flavours to be delivered hot to their door. The range, which Aldi said is its “most Domino’s-like pizza offering yet”, is launching in stores nationwide from Monday, 9 October. Julie Ashfield, managing director of buying at Aldi UK, said: “With prices of takeaways soaring, we’re excited to be able to offer shoppers delicious pizzas at a fraction of the price of expensive high-street chains. The quality ingredients and affordable price of the Ultimate Takeaway range will no doubt change people’s idea of the supermarket pizza. Better yet, we’re thrilled to be able to deliver this product hot to shoppers’ doors and treat our customers to the full takeaway experience.”
 
Little Houses Group plans more London sites including East Sheen as it confirms 2024 opening for second venue: Little Houses Group, the nursery, soft play and cafe concept from Incipio Group co-founder Charlie Gardiner, has said it is planning more London sites, including one in East Sheen, as it gears up to launch its second venue in 2024. Propel revealed in January that the Imbiba-backed business would launch Jesse’s House and Parsons House Nursery in Heathman’s Road, near Parsons Green tube station, and registration has now opened. “Offering parents and children a welcoming, safe and inclusive space to hang out, play, work and unwind as a family, Little Houses Group will open Jesse’s House and Parson’s House Nursery in April 2024, followed by other London houses including East Sheen,” the business said. “Jesse’s House, named after Charlie’s second son, will be a home-away-from-home for the whole family to enjoy.” It follows the opening of the first site for the concept, Jaego’s House – named after Gardiner’s first son – in Kensal Rise last summer. Featuring a similar offer, Jesse’s House will have a Mediterranean feel, with indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a sundeck terrace, a jungle gym, soft play and outdoor playground. It will also be home to a nursery, crèche, kids’ club and games room alongside adult-only spaces such as pilates studios, treatment rooms, a living room and a study. Gardiner said: “The dream for most parents is to find somewhere that they love visiting just as much as their children do, and that is exactly how we want our guests to feel about Jesse’s House. We have had such positive feedback and aimed to build a loving community, so we wanted to offer a similar experience to a different part of the city. Parsons Green has a fantastic family-friendly vibe, and we have definitely been using that as inspiration when creating Jesse’s House.”
 
Wagamama set for Northampton opening: Wagamama, The Restaurant Group-owned business, is set to open a new restaurant in Northampton next month. Located in the town’s Sixfields Leisure, it will create 70 jobs and bring Wagamama’s total number of restaurants to 158 across the UK. Open daily, it will have 140 covers and launch on Monday, 16 October with the brand’s new autumn menu. Milly Pearson, regional marketing manager for the north, said: “Our fantastic new team have been working hard to ensure we’ll bring our much-loved Wagamama experience to our guests and they’re excited to land in their beautiful new restaurant once works are complete.”
 
Rudy’s and Fat Hippo among five new ‘local favourite’ brands to join Uber Eats: Rudy’s, the 19-strong Napoletana pizza brand from Mission Mars, and 18-site better burger brand Fat Hippo are among five new “local favourite” brands to have joined Uber Eats. Independent Greek street-food group The Athenian, which also has 18 sites, and Hub Box, the 12-strong south west burger and barbecue restaurant led by Richard Boon, have also signed up. So too has Manchester better burger brand Archies, which has ten restaurants, joining the 60% of Uber Eats’ 63,000 available restaurants that are small and medium sized businesses. Matthew Price, Uber Eats general manager, UK, Ireland and Northern Europe, said: “Local favourites, the brands that Brits up and down the country know and love, are the beating heart of our business, and I am delighted five more of the best have recently joined Uber Eats. It is my mission to be the platform of choice for customers across the country, and with these brilliant brands joining us, we are doing just that, all at the touch of a button.”
 
Pig Hotels parent company eyes further acquisitions as profits increase and turnover soars past £50m: The parent company of Pig Hotels, the rural boutique hotels group led by Robin Hutson, has said it is eyeing further acquisitions as profits increased and turnover soared past £50m in the year ending 31 December 2022. Since Denver-based private equity firm KSL Capital Partners acquired a stake in parent company Home Grown Hotels in April 2022, it has added two further sites to take its portfolio to ten. The Pig on the Farm is due to open at 16th century farm house Thornton Manor, in Stratford-upon-Avon, in 2024, while The Pig at Groombridge will open in a moated manor house near Tunbridge Wells in 2025. They will represent a first expansion into Warwickshire and Kent respectively for the group and are both larger than the other eight Pig sites. Director Tom Ross, in his statement accompanying the accounts, said: “The directors are expanding the portfolio, with the purchase of Thornton Manor in November 2022, and a post year end purchase of Groombridge in March 2023. The recent purchase of two new Pig sites supports our vision of the continued growth of the number of hotels within The Pig Group.” It comes as the company reported record turnover of £51,441,388 for the period, up from £35,383,320 in 2021. Its pre-tax profit rose from £2,250,820 in 2021 to £2,512,819. This compares with turnover of £26,099,389 and a pre-tax loss of £219,014 in the last full year before covid, ending 31 December 2019, when it had six hotels. Ebitda was down from £6,133,945 in 2021 to £5,243,984 while average room occupancy was 91% (2021: 91%) and average restaurant covers 1,445 (2021: 1,597). No dividends were paid (2021: nil) and no government grants were received (2021: £2,726,537).
 
Sector property advisory firms merge: Raven Rose and Stonebrook London have merged to form a new agency, focusing on retail and leisure acquisitions in London, across the UK and internationally. The founders – Jake Bernstone, James Raven and Josh Rose – have been responsible for a number of high-profile deals, including the recent flagship acquisition of the 18,000 square-foot former Rainforest Café in Piccadilly Circus on behalf of Albert’s Schloss; 30,000 square feet at Shipyard Spinningfields in Manchester on behalf of Sessions Market; and the disposals of Pizza East Shoreditch and Notting Hill on behalf of Soho House Group. They have also represented operators including JKS Restaurants and Caprice Holdings. Having begun his career at Davis Coffer Lyons in 2012, Bernstone moved to head up retail and leisure within the newly formed “London Unlimited” team at JLL before setting up his own business, Stonebrook, in 2017. Prior to setting up Raven Rose in 2020, Raven and Rose both followed similar career paths, starting at agencies CBRE and Shelley Sandzer respectively before going in-house at their then clients, Doddle and Soho House Group. Rose said: “Following on from a number of successful collaborations and deals together, we’re delighted to merge our business with Stonebrook London, which is one of the most active agencies in our sector.” Bernstone added: “It’s been a fantastic experience to start up and run Stonebrook by myself, earning a great reputation along the way. However, within the restaurant and leisure agency world, it feels like there is a changing of the guard and I have actively been seeking the right partners to take advantage of this.”
 
London Polish deli reports modest growth and falls to loss following ‘year of two halves’, lost Polish customer base replaced by growing number of Ukrainians: London Polish deli Mleczko Delikatesy reported modest growth and fell to a loss following a “year of two halves” ending 25 December 2022. The business, which operates a chain of 14 Polish delis in the capital, also said the customer base it had lost through Poles returning home from the UK had been replaced by “a growing number of Ukrainian nationals”. Directors Anthony and Michael Mleczko, in their statement accompanying the accounts for the period, said a 1.6% rise in sales turnover from £31,842,063 in 2021 to £32,361,415 “represents modest growth”. They added: “However, the overall growth figures mask the fact that we had two very different six-month periods in 2022. In the first half, our sales of £15.49m showed a 4.9% decline on the same period in 2021 (£16.28m). The business recovered strongly in the second half with sales of £16.87m, which represented growth of 8.4% on the same period in 2021 (£15.56m). We believe the decline in sales in the first half resulted in a combination of the economic uncertainty relating to the war that began in Ukraine in February 2022 and some of our Polish customer base returning to Poland. The second half saw some economic stability return and we were undoubtedly helped by the increased number of Ukrainian nationals in the UK choosing to shop in our delicatessens.” The company reported a pre-tax loss of £206,217 compared with a pre-tax profit of £483,999 in 2021as overheads increased by 8.6%, with a 53% rise in energy costs plus a £100,000 rates increase. “The key focus over the next financial year will be to monitor the recovery of the UK economy and continue looking at all ways of increasing the profitability of the business, concentrating on increasing both gross and net profit margins by focusing on the price at which products are bought, and reviewing all overhead costs,” the directors added. “Thereafter, we will consider further opportunities to expand into new shops only if they meet strict criteria on return on investment.” No government grants were received (2021: £41,539) and dividends of £211,454 were paid (2021: £193,093). 
 
US themed events company set to take Friends experience to Dublin: US themed events company Original X is set to take its experience based on hit TV show Friends to Dublin. The Friends Experience, which has enjoyed successful runs in the US as well as Paris and Brussels, launched in the UK at NEC Birmingham in July. It is now heading for Dublin’s Theatre Of Light from Tuesday, 24 October, giving guests the chance to explore the show’s history and recreate their favourite scenes. “We are excited to bring The Friends Experience to Dublin for the very first time,” said Stacy Moscatelli, chief executive officer of Original X Productions. “Friends fans will be able to step inside the world of the iconic series, relive their favourite moments and celebrate the show like never before.” Original X was previously known as Superfly X and was also responsible for The Office Experience and Harry Potter: Magic at Play.
 
Mambow to open first permanent site: London-based Malaysian bowls concept Mambow will launch its first permanent site next month. Chef Abby Lee launched the concept in Commercial Street, Shoreditch, in January 2020, before pivoting to an at-home offer during lockdown. It made its return with a unit at the Market Peckham complex in south east London last summer, and will now open its first permanent site, at 78 Lower Clapton Road in Lower Clapton. Featuring an extended menu and drinks list, the space will have 40 covers, with 20 seats inside and 20 seats on a semi-covered garden terrace, plus an open kitchen. “I’m excited to be opening our first permanent site – it feels like the natural next step for Mambow, and I can't wait to be part of the community in Clapton,” Lee said. “It’s been a lot of fun playing around with the menu in a bigger kitchen and coming up with new dishes. People have been so receptive to everything I’ve had on the menu so far, so it’ll be nice to be able to introduce even more Malaysian flavours to everyone who comes down to visit in Clapton.”
 
Michelin-starred chef Tom Shepherd reveals plans for second site: Michelin-starred chef Tom Shepherd has revealed plans to open a second site. Shepherd, who runs Michelin star-rated Upstairs in Lichfield, told The Staff Canteen’s Grilled podcast that he had set his sights on a second restaurants that would be “very different” from his existing spot. Upstairs is situated above Shepherd’s father’s jewellery shop in Bore Street and was awarded a Michelin star last year after just four months of being in business. On the podcast, Shepherd said that the new restaurant would be in Lichfield and would be “combined” with Upstairs, which is the first and only Michelin star restaurant in Staffordshire. “We are going to try and combine the experiences,” he said. “Instead of going to Upstairs first, you may be able to go to this second venue before or after your meal and enjoy what we have to offer there. My plan is to place an incredible chef in there who will take the food to its own level, but we’re going to open up with the mindset of small plates, drinks orientated, and the small plates will develop so you can almost have your own tasting menu.” Shepherd was born in Sutton Coldfield and worked in some of the country’s top kitchens, including at Restaurant Sat Bains in Nottingham, Michael Wignall at The Latymer and Adams in Birmingham.
 
London pub operator acquires second site: London pub operator Zora Singh has acquired her second site. Singh will reopen The KPH in Notting Hill as The Knight of Notting Hill later this month following a revamp, reports Hot Dinners. The menu will include pork belly tacos with piquillo pepper and homemade ketchup; and pappardelle with blue cheese and crispy sage. The KPH was known as a music pub, and that is set to continue in the new era with “live music with events featuring rappers, singers and DJs”. Singh also operates the Three Falcons in St John’s Wood. 

French dining experience opens at Millennium Gloucester Hotel in London’s Kensington: A French dining experience has opened at the Millennium Gloucester Hotel in London’s Kensington. South West 7 Restaurant offers a traditional brasserie-style menu with flavours from across France – from Provençal dishes to Parisian traditions. The menu by head chef Franck Katemesha includes dishes such as brochette of monkfish and prawn; butternut squash risotto; plus a full grill menu. Katemesha joined the hotel from Chez Lindsay, located on the banks of the River Thames in Richmond, and known for its French cuisine. After completing his training in France at Chambre des métiers du Loiret, Katemesha has headed up kitchens including Sunborn London Yacht Hotel, Intercontinental London The O2 and The Royal Horseguards.

Team behind north east restaurant to open new venture in Gosforth: The team behind north east restaurant Lovage has acquired a second site for a new venture. Lovage opened at St George’s Terrace, Jesmond, less than a year ago, offering Mediterranean-style food. Headed up by chef Kleo Tabaku and front of house manager Lisa Hide, the pair joined forces with hospitality entrepreneur Stuart Young, of Northern Bar Management, to create a restaurant that was inspired by Tabaku’s upbringing. Now the partners are adding another venue, with Osters, which is scheduled to open in Gosforth’s High Street in mid-November. The restaurant, in what was formerly Stock Gosforth, will focus mainly on seafood and fish. Tabaku told BDaily: “This is an exciting new venture for us and the opportunity to showcase new dishes, but at the same level and with the same attention to detail that we have at Lovage. It will still reflect my style of food and hopefully will have the same amazing reception that we have had at Lovage.” Work is underway on revamping the restaurant, which will have a “cool, Scandinavian-style feel” to the décor.

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