Propel Morning Briefing Mast HeadAccess Banner  
Propel Morning Briefing Mast Head Propel's LinkedIn LinkPaul's Twitter Link Paul's X Link

Kronenberg Banner
Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Thu 12th Oct 2023 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Incipio Group ‘actively engaged’ in discussions for prospective opportunities in 2024 as FY turnover tops £20m: Incipio Group – operator of venues including Pergola on the Wharf, The Prince and Lost in Brixton – has told Propel it is “actively engaged in discussions for prospective opportunities in 2024”, after it saw turnover for the year to 25 December 2022 pass the £20m mark. The group turned over £20.65m for the period against a prior year of £14.59m, representing 38% year-on-year growth. The group generated adjusted Ebitda of £866,000 (2021: £1.86m). It said the cessation of full business rates relief drove a £71,000 increase in rates costs while grant income in 2022 was nil (2021: £248,000). Total adjusted Ebitda for sites (excluding head office) in 2022 was £3.54m (2021: £3.3m). The business added three new sites in the year. It also received an injection of £2m of additional equity funding, largely from existing shareholders, in November 2022, in order to finance further growth into 2023. Ed Devenport, chief executive of Incipio Group, told Propel: “The addition of three new venues – Dear Grace, The Libertine, and The Palm House – and significant investment in the current estate underscores our commitment to strategic growth and to delivering exceptional guest experiences in venues we are proud to operate. Throughout the year, Incipio demonstrated resolute financial performance, achieving record topline results. In navigating the evolving landscape of the sector, 2022 presented new challenges, including the withdrawal of substantial government support initially instituted to buoy the industry during the throes of the covid pandemic. These difficulties were further compounded by soaring energy costs and constraints on consumer spending. Despite these challenges, Incipio reported a strong sales performance. This year saw the group consolidate its existing estate, with major refurbishments taking place at The Prince, Lost in Brixton and Pergola Paddington. Last month the group opened The 411, a neighbourhood bar in Angel which is trading above expectations. As the first North London venue for the group, it is very encouraging to see a new market respond so positively to an Incipio venue. Looking to the future, Incipio remains positive and excited for new opportunities and openings. It was announced last week the group is leading the F&B offering for Saville Theatre in partnership with Cirque du Soleil and CitizenM Hotels, and we are actively engaged in discussions for prospective opportunities in 2024. As always, the group is prepared to move decisively for the right space in the right location.”

Industry News:

Dame Karen Jones – we’re architects of our own doom in recruitment difficulties, developing universal training key to solving this and unlocking government funds: Dame Karen Jones, chair of Hawksmoor and Mowgli, has argued hospitality is the architect of its own doom in the recruitment difficulties it faces, and that developing universal training is key to solving this and unlocking government funds. “We have been, in no small part, the architects of our own doom in facing difficulties to recruit people,” she told this month’s Propel Talent & Training Conference. “I now think we’re at a deep transition point where we’re trying to fit new ways of doing business and social change into old models. We’re training a new generation who will be fantastic, but they’ve missed two years of social skills. They interact with screens more than people, and we have to think about what that all means. We know anti-social hours aren’t loved by people coming into the industry and that work-life balance is really important, but at the same time we’re a seven-day industry, so we’ve got to work this out. I think artificial intelligence is going to help us a lot with this, and there will be more dynamic rotas, but we need to work out how people can come into our industry. I think new models will emerge, but part of that is going out and selling hospitality and explaining a lot more about what our industry is. It’s innovative, entrepreneurial and full of energy, which should suit a lot of Generation Z people. Going out and selling our industry, bringing those people in and working with them on how we get that work-life balance, plus harnessing new technology into that equation, will bring about a solution.” Through her work with the Hospitality Sector Council, Jones hopes to help find the answers to not only recruitment issues, but also securing more government funding for the industry. “For the stuff we want, we have got to prove that we can do it,” she said. “We waste an awful lot of time and money by all training the same things, whereas if we can had something like a universal entry standard, which takes young people and explains what hospitality is and gets them to opt in or out, you can train the technical skills after that. If somebody came to my company and said they’ve done the universal, here’s my digital passport, I now only have to spend a day rather than five telling them what our company is about as they’ve got the base knowledge. If we could do that and prove it, then we could go to the government and asked for some money to be released from the apprenticeship levy pot.” Jones’ presentation will be among those from the Propel Talent & Training Conference sent to Premium subscribers at 9am on Friday, 27 October. 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 kai.kirkman@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.
 
Next Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book shows 763 largest sector companies turning over total of £53.3bn, up from £51.2bn last month: The next edition of the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which will be sent to Premium subscribers tomorrow (Friday, 13 October), shows 763 of the largest sector companies are turning over a total of £53.3bn – up from £51.2bn the previous month. A total of 518 companies are making a profit while 245 are making a loss. The profit being made by sector companies is now outstripping losses by £1.48bn. The Blue Book shows the total profit of the 763 companies in the list is £3,462,090,613 and losses are £1,977,617,666. The Blue Book is updated each month and ranks companies by turnover, profit and profit conversion, listing directors’ earnings for the past five years. Premium subscribers also receive access to five other databases: the Multi-Site Database, which is produced in association with Virgate; the New Openings Database; the UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database; the Who’s Who of UK Food and Beverage; and the UK Food and Beverage Franchisee Database. Premium subscribers are also to get access to the videos from this month’s Talent and Training Conference. They will be sent 13 videos on Friday, 27 October at 9am. 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 kai.kirkman@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.
 
Yolk founder Nick Philpott to speak at final Propel Multi-Club Conference of 2023, three free places per company for operators: Yolk founder Nick Philpott 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”. Philpott will discuss the development of the “fine fast food” concept and how it is looking to muscle into the Pret, Itsu and Greggs space. For the full speaker schedule, click here. Operators can book up to three free places per company by emailing kai.kirkman@propelinfo.com.
 
HGEM – Generation Z have the biggest budgets for Christmas meals: Consumers are determined to celebrate Christmas by eating and drinking out despite the cost-of-living crisis – especially Generation Z – according to new research by guest experience platform HGEM. Its recent consumer survey revealed the top three factors for choosing a festive venue are, in order of importance: total cost, meal quality and value for money. In contrast, last year, value for money was more important than meal quality. The less important factors have not changed position since last year – location, entertainment value and a new and exciting place. The survey also shows the average budget for a Christmas meal (drinks excluded) this year is £21-£30. This is consistent across all age groups apart from Generation Z (18 to 25-year-olds), who are looking to spend £31-£40 on average per meal. The 66-plus age group also bucks the trend, hoping to keep the meal below £20. The results suggest an increase in office-sponsored Christmas parties for 2023 – 47% of consumers are having work do’s, as opposed to 44% in 2022. In terms of how consumers find their Christmas venue, 68% of consumers would trust a recommendation, 64% would look to Google and 62% would consider a venue that’s tried and tested. In terms of dietary requirements, almost half (46%) reported some kind of dietary restrictions, with the majority of those being vegetarians (44%), followed by those on a gluten-free diet (19%) and vegans (19%). Steven Pike, managing director of HGEM, said: “Given how heavily ‘recommended’ and ‘tried and tested’ venues come into play for customers choosing Christmas venues, a good net promoter score should be a primary focus for operators – if it isn’t already.”

Seven in ten over-50s would consider career in hospitality but 88% think sector prefers to hire younger people: Seven in ten (70%) of over-50s have said they would consider a career in hospitality but 88% also think sector businesses prefer hiring younger people, according to a new report from Rest Less, a digital community and advocate for people aged 50 and older. Rest Less surveyed 1,000 of its job seeking members to ask about their attitudes to working in the hospitality sector. Despite positive attitudes to working in the sector, more than three quarters of respondents said that they would be less likely to apply for a hospitality job because they thought their age would count against them. Additionally, respondents were asked what appealed to them about working in the hospitality sector. More than two thirds (68%) said they thought their life skills would be useful and 68% also said that the social aspect was appealing. Nearly two thirds (62%) said the opportunity to work with people of all ages would encourage them to apply. However, when asked for the reasons why they wouldn’t apply for a role in the sector, 68% were worried the hours would be too anti-social and the role would be too physically demanding (46%). A recent report from the Office for National Statistics showed in 2023, there were 1.2 million 50 to 64-year-olds working in the distribution, hotels and restaurants sector – making up 25% of all workers aged 16 to 64 years old in this sector. This made it the sector that was least represented by 50 to 64-year-olds of all. Stuart Lewis, chief executive of Rest Less, said: “With one third of the UKs workforce now aged over 50 and fewer young people entering the labour market, the average age of the workforce continues to increase. This makes age inclusive talent attraction and retention no longer a nice to have, but increasingly a core part of any employers holistic workforce planning.”
 
Almost 5,000 hospitality venues start net zero journey: UKHospitality has revealed that 375 companies operating across 4,738 sites have used its carbon calculator to begin their net zero journeys by understanding their emissions and how to reduce them. Unveiled at the trade body’s annual sustainability seminar, it highlighted the success of its partnership with the Zero Carbon Forum and Sky Zero. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “Understanding your carbon footprint is the first step for any business to begin to reduce their emissions and I’m delighted our carbon calculator has helped so many operators do just that. Being able to offer a starting point that businesses can trust is reliable and relevant for their sector is so important. Working with expert partners like the Zero Carbon Forum and Sky Zero only enhances our offering to hospitality businesses and I’d like to thank them for their continued support.”
 

Company News:

Andrea – we’ve taken a lot of duplication out of the business, no reason why we cant participate in consolidation: Andrew Andrea, chief executive of Marston’s, has told Propel the strategy to simplify the group has taken “a lot of duplication out” of the company, and that with some “hard yards done on headquarters”, its focus is now on “how can we operate the business even more effectively and efficiently”. The company reported a 10.1% increase in like-for-like sales for the 52 weeks to 30 September 2023. It also said after “simplifying the business and driving efficiencies”, and following a review of the business structure over the summer, it had reduced head office headcount costs by approximately £5m. Andrea told Propel: “We’ve talked about ‘lifting the lid’ and creating a simple strategy, which is taking a lot of duplication out. Part of the plan was always around can we just be smarter on how we do stuff and run the business with fewer people. It’s about 50 roles altogether right across operations, marketing, finance and HR. A few of our leadership group have moved on, but it is a review of roles right through the organisation. While they’re difficult decisions, the headquarters team understands that the strategy is not changing and everyone is behind it. The hard yards are done on headquarters and our real focus is now on how we can operate the business even more effectively and efficiently. That’s where we see continued opportunity, just to be a bit smarter in what we spend.” The company  expects to dispose of around £50m of additional non-core properties in FY2024. Andrea said: “What we found in the last year is that for the right buyer, there is still demand out there for different types of assets. It’s harder work, but dealing with it as single sites or small groups is where you extract best value. We’ve got a very simple, focused strategy, so we know what we want to run and what we don’t. As part of the exercise in identifying the disposal assets, we did a really detailed cluster planning exercise. We’ve also identified towns and areas where we think we got an opportunity to put another Marston’s pub. There’s no reason why we can’t participate in sector consolidation, whether that be single sites or, as we already demonstrated with the Brains acquisition, something more opportunistic should it arise, and we can do that in a capital-lite way. I think we’re very well placed to participate should that happen, and there’s quite a degree of conjecture as to whether that will or won’t happen next year, but we’ll certainly be in the game.” In terms of growth and whether it was being driven by price or volume, Andrea said: “It’s a bit of both. Clearly, we have all taken price as a sector, but overall volumes are encouraging, both food and drink. This financial year has been the first year post-covid that has been, in consumer terms, clean. We’re now starting to lap real comparisons and volumes are holding up pretty well.”
 
Gordon Ramsay to open Lucky Cat and Bread Street Kitchen sites at 22 Bishopsgate: Gordon Ramsay Restaurants is planning to open two restaurants spread across four floors of the 22 Bishopsgate building in the City of London, Propel has learned. The business is set to open a site under its Asian-inspired Lucky Cat brand at the property, and a Bread Street Kitchen restaurant and bar. Both will be spread over floors 58 to 61 of 22 Bishopsgate. The company currently operates Lucky Cat sites in London’s Mayfair and Manchester. It currently operates seven sites in the UK under its Bread Street Kitchen brand. It comes after the business, which is owned by chef Gordon Ramsay, has been consolidating its existing UK estate. Last month, Propel revealed that the site which is currently home to Ramsay’s restaurant, bar and hotel near London’s Regent’s Park, the York & Albany, had been placed on the market. Comptoir Group, the Comptoir Libanais and Shawa operator, recently returned to the expansion trail in the UK with an opening on Ramsay’s former Bread Street Café site in Ealing Broadway. Earlier this summer, Turkish restaurant brand Bursa Kebap Evi secured its third site in London, in Islington, after acquiring Ramsay’s former Street Pizza site in Upper Street. Last year, Ramsay reopened his The Narrow pub site, which is situated on the Thames near Limehouse, east London, under his Bread Street Kitchen concept, with the new name of Bread Street Kitchen on the River. Earlier this month, Gordon Ramsay Restaurants signed a multi-restaurant partnership with Tanachira Group, the company behind the Cath Kidston retail brand, to open 14 sites in Thailand.
 
Malaysian café chain PappaRoti to make UK debut: PappaRoti, the Malaysian café chain, which operates circa 450 sites worldwide, is to make its UK debut with an opening in Manchester, Propel has learned. The brand, which was founded in Malaysia by Rasha Al Danhani in 2003, will open a site in the city’s Tib Street before the end of the year. It is being launched in the UK by franchisee PR Holdings UK. The concept, which specialises in offering freshly baked roti buns, currently operates kiosk and cafe sites in Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Australia, Egypt, Singapore, Dubai, Canada and the US.
 
Cambscuisine adds new site, experiencing double digit sales growth in 2023: Pub and restaurant operator Cambscuisine, led by Oliver Thain, has added a new site to its portfolio and reported it is experiencing double digit sales growth in 2023. The business has opened the Astronomer in Eddington on the outskirts of Cambridge. The site is on a separate lease but forms part of the Hyatt Centric hotel and is open all day. In addition, Cambscuisine has completed the purchase of the Three Horseshoes freehold site it has run for five years in Madingley, meaning the company now operates four freehold sites and four leaseholds. Thain said: “We are delighted to be open in Eddington and to have completed the purchase of the Three Horseshoes. The business is really performing strongly with double digit sales growth since the start of the year. We remain actively looking for new sites in our heartland of Cambridgeshire to build on the progress made by our fantastic teams who continue to deliver exceptional freshly prepared food, quality drinks and outstanding service to our guests in our fantastic sites.”
 
Bowland Inns & Hotels secures £25m loan to support expansion plans: Lancashire hotel, pub and restaurant operator Bowland Inns & Hotels has secured £25m to support its expansion plans. The loan, provided by OakNorth, will be used to refinance the existing portfolio of properties and complete the acquisition and refurbishment of Wennington Hall, near Lancaster, which Bowland Inns & Hotels bought in August. The funds will also be used to expand the number of bedrooms at the Waddington Arms near Clitheroe. Founded in 1996 and owned by James Warburton, Bowland Inns & Hotels consists of two sub-brands – James’ Places and Dream Venues Collection – which operates its award-winning wedding venues. Headquartered in Clitheroe, the firm’s portfolio has continued to grow through its “buy and build” strategy, with it now operating 11 separate venues across the Ribble Valley, Lune Valley, Yorkshire Dales and the South Lakes. Wennington Hall is to be transformed into a luxury hotel, retreat and exclusive-use wedding and events venue. Opening in late-spring 2024, the site will join Mitton Hall near Whalley, Eaves Hall near Clitheroe and Falcon Manor near Settle among others in the Dream Venues Collection. The work at the Waddington Arms will see the number of bedrooms rise from six to 14 and also an increase in dining capacity. Warburton said: “Since starting the business I have always had an eye on growth, always looking out for the next opportunity, the next building to get excited about. As the business has grown, ‘I’ became a ‘we’, and the appetite for growth has got stronger and stronger. Finding the right funding partner for each stage of our growth has been one of the biggest challenges we have had to face.”

Zia Lucia hires former Harts Group HR chief as new head of people: London pizzeria brand Zia Lucia has hired former Harts Group HR chief Jonathan Napier as its new head of people. In his role as head of HR at Harts Group, Napier led a team responsible for the well-being and development of around 550 employees. There, the group said his innovative approach to HR and leadership directly contributed to the its growth and employee satisfaction. Colin Doyle, managing director at Zia Lucia, said: “We’re thrilled to welcome Jonathan to Zia Lucia as our head of people. His extensive experience and successful track record in HR and operations make him an ideal fit for our organisaton. We believe that our people are at the heart of our future success, and Jonathan’s leadership will further elevate our commitment to nurturing our team.” In his new role, Napier will lead the shaping of Zia Lucia’s employee experience as the company enters its next phase of growth. He will focus on reducing recruitment and retention challenges, creating career pathways, introducing engaging rewards and benefits packages and establishing a robust feedback system.
 
Bunsik to launch food court model for fifth site with Westfield Stratford City opening: Korean street food concept Bunsik, part of Maguro Group, is to open a fourth London site, at Westfield Stratford City as it tries a new food court model. Launching in December, the outlet will be based in the food court on the lower ground level. Bunsik’s will be the first and only Korean restaurant within the shopping centre. Bunsik is introducing a range of vegetarian options to its menu, including the debut of its first veggie burger, and will continue to offer its signature Korean street food classics along with a variety of bubble tea. The opening will be a fifth venue for Bunsik following the concept’s first venture out of London, in Manchester this summer, which has “surpassed all expectations”. Last month, Maguro Group director Jae Cho told Propel it is set to make Bunsik its first franchise, with an aim of 20 sites by 2026. Of the Westfield Stratford site, Cho said: “This next location for us within Westfield Stratford is an exciting one as we are trying a new food court model. We do so with great confidence; having this fantastic opportunity to partner with a global brand as well renowned as Westfield.” Maguro Group also operates the Maguro Sushi, Gogi, Bullgogi, Itaewon Burger & Chicken and Pochawa Grill concepts.
 
James Watt-backed Yum Bug to open pop-up restaurant: Yum Bug – the cricket-meat company backed by BrewDog co-founder James Watt and Holly Branson, chief purpose and vision officer at Virgin – is to open a pop-up restaurant in east London. Running from Thursday, 26 October for three weeks at Old Street’s “The Bower”, Yum Bug will offer seasonal small plates all featuring the sustainable superfood of crickets. The north London start-up, pioneered by entomologist Aaron Thomas and designer Leo Taylor, has partnered with chefs including Chantelle Nicholson, chef-owner of Apricity, and Clem Haxby, culinary director at the Salad Project, who have designing bug-based recipes exclusively for the menu. Dishes will include cricket mince topped hummus with seasonal crudites; and cricket ragu with polenta and golden garlic. Taylor said: “We are buzzing to see Yum Bug pop up in east London this autumn. The backing of James Watt and some incredible chefs bring us one step closer to our mission to show people that bugs are banging – not only in taste, but also for our health and the environment.” Watt, who backed Yum Bug with £200,000 as part of his unicorn business funding competition earlier this year, added: “Yum Bug could be the next Impossible Burger.”
 
Go Ape pays off bank loans to clear external debt, footfall down 16% as ‘exceptional demand’ post covid eases: The UK arm of high-ropes adventure course operator Go Ape has paid off its remaining bank loans to clear its external debts. Parent company Adventure Forest Leisure, in its accounts for the year ending 31 December 2022, said post year end, the company repaid in full the remaining bank loan of £413,727 together with accrued interest, “leaving the company free of any external debt”. It comes as the business, which operates 99 adventure activities and two cafes in locations throughout the UK, reported footfall was down 16% during the year to 1,305,000 “due to the exceptional demand experienced in 2021 following national lockdowns”. Turnover was down from £40,916,000 in 2021 to £29,942,000 while pre-tax profit dropped from £18,215,000 to £10,362,000. No government grants were received compared with £1,562,000 in 2021, while £2m was profit was received on disposal of assets compared with £10m in 2021. Interim dividends of £550,000 were paid (2021: nil). Average revenue per customer decreased by £3.52 compared with 2021 due to the VAT increases in October 2021 and April 2022. Just prior to the period, on 31 December 2021, and following a strong period of trading, the company repaid a £1,873,436 facility B bank loan debt, while in March 2022, it removed the working capital revolving credit facility after increasing the minimum cash reserve. Several locations damaged by Storm Arwen in November 2021 were repaired during the first quarter of 2022 but the damage caused to the course at Aberdeen was beyond repair, with no alternative location to rebuild the course. During the year, new treetop adventure and treetop adventure-plus courses were added at the Whinlatter site, along with an axe throwing range at Southampton and a new Mini Land Rovers activity at Coventry. Post year end, the company has opened its first standalone treetop adventure and treetop adventure-plus course, in Blackburn, as well as new treetop adventure, treetop adventure-plus and treetop challenge courses in Chelmsford.
 
DGB Hospitality to open new café and cocktail bar at Liverpool ONE: Liverpool-based, independent restaurant and bar operator DGB Hospitality is to open a new café and cocktail bar in the city later this month. The Paul Senior-led business will open Loretta’s Tavern at Liverpool ONE on 26 October. It will open on the site previously home to The Alchemist-owned concept Aether, atop the shopping complex. DGB Hospitality operates a number of venues across Liverpool including Irish pub Pogue Mahone, American-inspired dive bar Teddy’s and the Three Piggies Alehouse & Canteen, which it acquired last November.
 
Acai brand Oakberry to open second London site this weekend: Acai brand Oakberry is to open its second London site on Saturday (14 October). The outlet will launch in Portobello Road, adding to its debut venue in the capital, which opened in Rathbone Place last month. The brand also operates a site in Brighton. While primarily a grab-and-go outlet, the Portobello Road site will offer seating for about 12 people. Oakberry was founded in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in 2016 and has grown to 600 locations worldwide. Customers can create and customise their açai bowls, choosing from three different sizes and a selection of unlimited toppings. A spokesperson said: “Our commitment to quality, sustainability and providing a wide range of delicious and healthy options is at the core of our brand. We look forward to becoming a beloved part of the Portobello Road neighbourhood and continuing to expand our presence across London and the UK.”
 
North west McDonald's franchisee reports ‘encouraging’ performance, but margins further squeezed: W Liddy and Co, a McDonald’s franchisee in the north west of England led by Bill Liddy and operating seven sites, reported “an encouraging performance” in the year to 31 December 2022, despite posting a pre-tax loss and seeing its margins further squeezed. The business posted a pre-tax loss for the year of £726,268 (2021: profit of £2,992,051), sales of £33,439,359 (2021: £31,421,618) and net assets of £2,586,186 (2021: £3,250,916). It said the results for the year have been “encouraging, in light of the economic effects of the pandemic”. It said: “The impact of covid-19 in 2020 and 2021 has been carefully managed and resulted in a very strong growth in turnover, mostly due to drive-thru and delivery sales. Unfortunately, however, little could be done this year to manage the significant increase in labour and food costs that the business has suffered, while still coming to terms with the increased costs of delivery sales felt in 2021. Due to market competition, the company was restricted in its ability to raise prices significantly, and this resulted in margins being adversely affected. The director considers that the impact of covid-19 has now been sufficiently managed and the business can return to normal operating activities, but now faces the challenge of managing margins, currently affected by a combination of market driven price restrictions with higher food and labour costs, which are outside control of the business. Turnover grew approximately 6.5%, which is broadly in line with inflation, whereas food and labour costs have increased by approximately 18-21% during the year. Overall, these factors have resulted in a 5% drop in gross margin. The pandemic caused a staff shortage, and when the labour market improved, extra staff were recruited to cope with higher levels of turnover. As a result, staff numbers increased from 691 to 817 during the year. Additionally, the cost-of-living crisis resulted in significant pay increases, meaning the labour cost increased from 27% of turnover to 31%. This has greatly impacted margin.”

Tipjar appoints Dan Hawkie as new chief commercial officer: Cashless tipping platform Tipjar has appointed Dan Hawkie, currently managing director of guest feedback platform Feed It Back, as its new chief commercial officer, effective December 2023. Tipjar said this marks a significant milestone for the business as it continues its mission to revolutionise tipping and tronc across the restaurant and hospitality industry. Tipjar co-founder James Brown said: “I’ve known Dan for many years and admired his approach to leadership and sales. We are thrilled to have him bolster our team as we gear up for further growth in the upcoming year.” Tipjar enables businesses to streamline tip administration, enhance staff transparency and fairness, and remain compliant in the ever-changing landscape of tipping, with new legislation set to take effect in early 2024. Hawkie said: “I’ve been excited about the Tipar technology and the value it can add to operators since I first saw it, which is why Feed It Back was the first partner to integrate with Tipjar. I am delighted to be joining the team on the next stage of its journey.”
 
Wingstop further grows openings pipeline, looking to break 40-site make by year end: Lemon Pepper Holdings, the company behind the rollout of Wingstop in the UK, has added a further two sites, in Dudley and Croydon, to its openings pipeline as it looks to break the 40-site mark by the end of this year. The 36-strong business, which recently opened in Islington, has secured a site in the new leisure extension at Dudley’s Merry Hill shopping scheme. At the same time, the brand has secured a site in part of the former Chiquito unit in Croydon Valley Leisure Park. It has split the ex-Chiquito site with Five Guys. It is thought that the business is close to confirming three to four further sites and is understood to be in discussions on openings in Hounslow and Clapham. It has openings already confirmed for Birmingham’s New Street, Glasgow’s St Enoch scheme and Edinburgh’s Fountain Park shopping centre. In August, Lemon Pepper Holdings told Propel it has an “exciting roadmap of openings ahead”. The company said it was seeing strong performance across its estate, including record £100,000-plus weekly sales at its flagship site in London’s Cambridge Circus. David Muslin, of Ecliptic, acted on the Croydon deal. 
 
Historic Parisian restaurant opens debut UK site: Historic Parisian restaurant Café Lapérouse, owned by French hospitality company Moma Group, has opened its debut UK site. Located in the Hotel de la Marine on Place de la Concorde, Café Lapérouse has two French outposts – in Saint Tropez’s Port des Pecheurs and inside Printemps Haussmann, one of the largest department stores in Paris. Now it has added a site in London with an opening at The Owo in Whitehall. Situated in the building’s central courtyard, the 174-cover restaurant offers an intrinsically French menu. Dishes include burgundy snails in the shell with parsley butter, Lapérouse style; “Lapérouse” beef tartare with fries; and sole with meunière butter and capers and mashed potato. There is also a tailored cocktail and wine list. Café Lapérouse is made up of three main dining areas. The Pavilion houses the circular dining room and has an outdoor terrace and bar offering counter dining and a display of fresh seafood. Two further spaces – the Lobby Orient and Salon Orient – open in the evening only. The Lobby Orient features displays of the restaurant’s pastries, while the Salon Orient offers a fine dining menu. Moma Group chief executive Benjamin Patou said: “We are honoured to partner with The Owo for our first London opening. Café Lapérouse brings its own sophisticated French presence to a London audience, which will excite, amaze and thrill diners.”
 
Allergen management system Ingredifind appoints David Charlton as NED: Ingredifind, an allergen management system that “simplifies the complex world of allergens” for restaurants and customers, has appointed David Charlton as a non-executive director. Charlton has worked in the hospitality technology sector for 15 years, having played pivotal roles in companies such as Yumpingo, Bookatable and Zonal. Ingredifind said Charlton’s expertise in helping restaurant technology companies scale and amplify their market share in the UK and the US is “unparalleled”. Living with a mushroom allergy, Charlton said he understands the challenges of dining out and how most allergen menus don’t help him. “Almost 20 million people in the UK are living with food allergies or dietary restrictions, and I know first-hand just how difficult navigating menus can be,” he said. “Ingredifind is that beacon of clarity for many like me, who’s allergy isn’t one of the common 14 allergens. The days of paper-based, out-of-date allergen menus are gone, and consumers expect real-time digital versions at the touch of their fingertips that provide ingredient-level information in every single dish. Technology in hospitality should be there to provide an enhanced customer experience, and Ingredifind certainly does that.” Founded in 2021 by Mark White, Nick White, and Hanna Ogburn, Ingredifind’s allergen management system allows restaurant owners and chefs to “seamlessly track allergens in dishes, ensuring transparency and safety for diners”.

Kent Argentine steakhouse concept plans third site: Kent Argentine steakhouse concept Buenos Aires Nights is planning a third site in the county. It has applied to open in the former Subway unit near Canterbury Cathedral, joining its sites in Maidstone and Ashford. Owner Linda Pontoreiro, who is originally from Argentina, told Kent Online she hopes to be open by early next year. Specialising in Latino-American cuisine, the concept offers Argentinian-sourced cuts of meat such as chorizo sausage and ribeye steaks, alongside vegan burgers and pasta. The Maidstone branch opened in 2009, followed by the Ashford site in 2020.
 
Former escape room chain owners launch new business combining the concept with cocktails, plans to take it across the UK: The former owners of a chain of escape rooms have launched a new business combining the experiential concept with cocktails. Hollie and Gilan Kelly were behind Breakout Games, which they launched in their native Aberdeen in 2015 before expanding it to other Scottish towns and cities, plus south of the border to York in 2018. They then sold the business, along with the Battle Grounds paintball and activity centre they owned in Banchory, with the intention of emigrating to New Zealand, until their plans were halted by covid. They have now instead turned their attention back to Aberdeen and have opened ShapeShifters, which combines escape rooms with molecular cocktails and mixology – including dedicating half the menu to no and low-alcohol creations. It has opened in the former Steinhaus pub site in Windmill Brae, off Union Street. Hollie said: “Creating the venue has been a labour of love, and when you step through the doors you will experience the magic of incredible cocktail mixology, the thrill of solving puzzles and escape into new worlds. What we want to create is a molecular cocktail experience. These would be like ‘Heston Blumenthal cocktails’ that are reactive and taste different. We want to elevate the cocktail experience by bringing something new to the market.” Kelly added if the Aberdeen site is a hit, they hope to grow it with branches elsewhere in the UK “in quick succession”, reports the Press & Journal.
 
New David Lloyd health club in Midlands acquired by South Yorkshire Pensions Authority: Local government pension scheme, South Yorkshire Pensions Authority (SYPA), has acquired a new David Lloyd health and fitness club in the Midlands. It has bought the recently completed venue in the new Houlton residential scheme in Houlton Way, Rugby, for an undisclosed sum. The property has a site area of around five acres and an internal floor area of circa 62,592 square feet. James McLean, SYPA fund manager, said: “The asset was attractive to SYPA given it provides long let indexed income in an area of the market we believe has strong underlying demand.” SYPA was advised by Savills, while Coffer Corporate Leisure acted for the vendor.

Return to Archive Click Here to Return to the Archive Listing
 
Punch Taverns Link
Return to Archive Click Here to Return to the Archive Listing
Propel Premium
 
Pepper Banner
 
Butcombe Banner
 
Jameson Banner
 
UCC Coffee Banner
 
Heinz Banner
 
Alcumus Banner
 
St Austell Brewery Banner
 
Sideways Banner
 
Nory Banner
 
Solo Coffee Banner
 
Heinz Banner
 
Small Beer Banner
 
Meaningful Vision Banner
 
Mccain Banner
 
Pringles Banner
 
Quorn Pro Banner
 
Propel Banner
 
Access Banner
 
Propel Banner
 
Christie & Co Banner
 
Kurve Banner
 
CACI Banner
 
Airship – Toggle Banner
 
Wireless Social Banner
 
Payments Managed Banner
 
Deliverect Banner
 
Zonal Banner
 
HGEM Banner
 
Venners Banner
 
Zonal Banner
 
Kronenberg Banner