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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Thu 2nd Nov 2023 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Exclusive – Glenn Edwards to stand down as Leon managing director: Glenn Edwards is to stand down as managing director of natural fast food brand Leon, Propel understands. Edwards, who has been with Leon since spring 2011, has been managing director of the business since August 2021, on the back of EG Group’s circa £100m acquisition of the company. He previously worked as president of the brand’s US operation,  as director of growth and culture, and as operations director. Before joining Leon, Edwards, who will leave this month, spent 11 years at Itsu as its head of operations. Leon has appointed Ashley Davis, its current grocery managing director, who joined the company in February 2019, as interim managing director and she will lead the business for the foreseeable future. Propel understands that Edwards’ departure is not connected to Asda taking full control of Leon. Earlier this week, Asda took full ownership of the natural fast-food brand after completing the acquisition of EG Group’s UK business for an enterprise value of £2.07bn. The supermarket chain said it would now look to introduce the circa 80-strong Leon brand into its stores. Last year, Leon started selling grocery coffee beans and grounds in 385 Asda stores and began rolling out its coffee-to-go kiosks into the retailer’s supermarkets. EG Group acquired the then circa 70-strong Leon in April 2021 in a deal that valued the business at circa £100m. It planned to open around 20 Leon sites per year. Leon features in the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book. Its turnover of £37,515,376 for the year to 31 December 2021 is the 214th 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 kai.kirkman@propelinfo.com to upgrade your subscription.
 

Industry News:

Number of cafe business launches included in next edition of The New Openings Database, features 107 site openings: Premium subscribers will receive the next edition of The New Openings Database tomorrow (Friday, 3 November) at midday, which features a number of launches by café businesses. The database includes Notes, the London cafe and wine bar concept owned by WSH Group, which has returned to the expansion trail with an opening in Tottenham Court Road. Also included is PappaRoti, the Malaysian café chain, which operates circa 450 sites worldwide and is set to make its UK debut with an opening in Manchester. South African boutique cafe group Tashas, which will open its debut UK site in London’s Battersea, is featured too. The database will show the details of 107 site openings, including which company has opened a site or its plans to open one in the future. It will have details on what type of site it is and its location, and there will also be a website link to the businesses. The database is published on a monthly basis and Premium subscribers will also receive a 7,600-word report on the new additions to the database. Premium subscribers also receive access to five other databases: the Propel Multi-Site Database, produced in association with Virgate; the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book; the UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database; the Who’s Who of UK Food and Beverage; and the UK Food and Beverage Franchisee Database. Companies can now have an unlimited number of people receive access to Propel Premium for a year for £995 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or a supplier. The single subscription rate is £495 plus VAT for operators and £595 plus VAT for suppliers. Email 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.
 
Beer drinkers brace for price rises as support for pubs withdrawn: Pubs and small businesses face a £10,000 tax rise that could force large numbers to close or raise prices, trade bodies have warned. Retail, hospitality and leisure companies can currently access a 75% discount on business rates, but the support will come to an end in March. Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is being urged to extend breaks against the property tax in the autumn statement to help the sector in the aftermath of the pandemic and the energy bills crisis. Paul Wilson, head of policy at the Federation of Small Businesses, told The Telegraph: “If it isn’t extended, if business rates bills do go up substantially for these businesses next April for those that do keep going, that will have a negative impact on inflation because they will have to put up prices.” Wilson said the tax break was worth around £10,000 a year for a typical pub or small shop. The maximum amount that can be claimed by businesses is £110,000 a year. Wilson added: “For some businesses, this will be existential. This could be the difference between them being able to stay open or closed. That will depend on whether they’re able to afford to increase prices or potentially cancel other areas of expenditure.” He said many shops were not able to raise prices to fully cover a surge in costs in the past year. Jane Hunt, a Conservative MP on the Business Select Committee, urged the chancellor to extend the relief. She said “business improvement district” levies should be used if current relief was no longer affordable. Business improvement districts are defined areas in which business owners pay an extra levy to invest in projects to benefit businesses in the local area.
 

Company News:

Coffee#1 achieves record week as first quarter sales rise 21.9%: Coffee#1, the Caffe Nero-owned business, achieved a record sales week last month as it reported strong first quarter sales. The business recorded a first ever £1m sales week for the seven days from 23 October 2023, which is 8% higher than the company’s previous record and underpinned by weekly customer numbers above 275,000 for the first time. It comes as Coffee#1 announced strong trading for the first three months of its financial year (1 June to 31 August), with year-on-year sales growth of 21.9%. The three new stores it opened during the period – in Godalming, Yate and Cwmbran – “have performed ahead of expectations”, with weekly customer visits exceeding the average achieved in its wider estate of 115 stores. At the same time, the strong first quarter sales were supported by robust customer volume growth of 2.6% and a strong performance from the brand’s iced coffee range, which saw 39% like-for-like growth. Coffee#1 also continued to grow its app membership, with more than 28% of its transactions now made through the app. The 600,000 app transactions made in the quarter are 25.6% higher than in the prior year. The quarter also saw the relaunch of the company’s Long Service Legends scheme, with more than 800 of the company’s circa 1,000 employees being recognised. Coffee#1 managing director Bruce Newman said: “The team have come up trumps once again and have delivered a really impressive first quarter. Combined with our record sales week, it’s clear we are starting to build some real momentum, and I’m hugely encouraged by the performance of the business as we head into the festive trading period. Our team is the reason we are seeing positive results, and relaunching the Long Service Legends Scheme is an important part of recognising that contribution and building team strength as we move forward. Despite the significant inflationary pressures and costs we face as a business, I feel cautiously optimistic for the remainder of our financial year.”

Wingstop – debut UK restaurant hitting record sales volumes, UK ‘playbook for future restaurant development’: Wingstop, which is being rolled out in the UK by Lemon Pepper Holdings, has said its debut UK restaurant is hitting record sales volumes, and that the UK is a “playbook for its future restaurant development”. The US quick service restaurant chicken brand opened its first UK site in London’s Shaftesbury Avenue five years ago this month and has since grown to 37 locations here, which it hopes will reach 40 by the end of the year. Chief executive Michael Skipworth said: “In our UK market, our first restaurant that opened five years ago is hitting record sales volume. New restaurants are opening stronger, including in new markets such as Canada and Korea. We expect our newly signed markets Netherlands and Puerto Rico to open within the next two quarters, and our business development pipeline of potential new brand partners is strong. I continue to believe our international business is supercharged for growth.” Senior vice president and chief financial officer Alex Kaleida added: “We would expect international to continue to stair step, and it’s a little bit of the nature of the way we construct our development agreements. In the US, our domestic agreements tend to be three to five years, with smaller amounts of restaurants under commitment. International tend to be ten years, and then they start a little slower in the ramp. And then they get to a place like our UK market, which is our playbook for future restaurant development, where we’re opening restaurants in the mid-teens level, in its fourth or fifth year into its opening rates. We’ve got new markets like Canada and Korea that are following that playbook. We’re really excited about Canada, with four restaurants in a little over a year, and their average unit volumes are already pacing at a level that’s near the US domestic average. They’re starting to turn that corner, just like the UK market did, and ramping up. So, I think we will expect, over time, international to be a much bigger part of our story.” Wingstop last month opened its third Birmingham location and added sites in Dudley, Croydon, Hounslow and Clapham to its openings pipeline.
 
Cornish Bakery closing in on 60 sites, in talks on ten additional locations, generating income of circa £30m: Fast-growing independent chain The Cornish Bakery has said it is closing in on 60 sites and is on talks for ten further locations, with its current estate generating income of circa £30m. It has opened its 58th shop, in a 19th century property in James Street, Harrogate. The launch comes on the back of eight successful openings in the last 12 months, with a new bakery in Cheltenham and a relocation to an enlarged premises in Salisbury to come in the coming weeks. This will take the estate to 59 sites overall (including six Roadchef franchise locations), which the company said is generating annualised net revenues and franchise income of circa £30m. The company reported turnover of £20,892,358 for the period to 30 May 2022 (2021: £11,709,299) and a pre-tax profit of £3,117,769 (2021: £1,474,200). Cornish Bakery is also in active discussions with landlords on ten additional locations as its grows towards its previously stated aim of 100 bakeries within the next two to three years. Founder and owner Steve Grocutt said: “We’re delighted to open our Cornish Bakery in the beautiful spa town of Harrogate. We’re on a constant journey to redefine what a bakery is and what it can be. We also have a belief that our bakeries should be part of the community and so our newly employed team will be actively seeking opportunities to work with and support local organisations in the Harrogate area. Bakery is the new coffee shop, and we’re relentless in our effort to bring our unique experience, delicious products and top-flight customer service to places and spaces all over the country.”
 
You Me Sushi set for flurry of openings as it expands through franchising: You Me Sushi, the London restaurant and takeaway brand, is set for a flurry of openings as it expands through franchising. Since launching its flagship Marylebone store in 2008, the brand now boasts 21 sites in its estate, with many more to follow. Its latest site has opened at the Lakeside shopping centre “where business is already booming”. You Me Sushi is also further expanding outside the capital with the launch of a store in Brighton next week, and a site due to open in Luton by the end of the month. All these sites are going to be operated by a mixture of experienced multi-unit franchisees and You Me Sushi’s ex managers. In the coming weeks, You Me Sushi is also set to further bolster its presence in London, with two openings planned in Canary Wharf and another for Canning Town. Propel understands sites are also in the pipeline in New Malden and Battersea in London, the Trafford Centre in Manchester, and Milton Keynes. Head of development Tim Circus said: “Our success as a brand starts with the food: it is freshly made on site every day and supplied at competitive price points. We experience no seasonality in our stores as we offer a diverse range of hot dishes that sell exceptionally well all year round.” Retained franchise consultant Matteo Frigeri, of Seeds Consulting, added: “With a burgeoning market, varied menu and consolidated delivery infrastructure, the You Me Sushi brand is constantly going from strength to strength and is looking forward to extending its franchise journey, with even more developments scheduled around the country in the new year.” In February, You Me Sushi said it was aiming for an eventual estate of 70 sites, and in the summer, it appointed Allan Cook, formerly of Boom Battle Bars, Chop’d and PizzaExpress, as its new managing director.
 
Coffi Lab appoints new FD, gears up to open second site in England: Coffi Lab, the dog-friendly coffee shop concept, has appointed Rob Price, formerly of retailer Jojo Maman Bebe, as its new finance director, Propel has learned. Price joins Coffi Lab, which was launched in 2021 by Coffee#1 founder James Shapland, after 13 years with the maternity wear, babywear and nursery products retailer, including six as its financial controller. Price joins Coffi Lab as its gears up to open its ninth site and second in England, in Somerset. The company – which already operates a site in Marlborough, Wiltshire – will open at the former McColls site in Portishead’s High Street, on Saturday (4 November). The business said: “Rob fully understands our ethos having worked at a fast growing, founder-led business for several years and is joining us at a really exciting time as we are about to open our ninth store in Portishead with more to come.” In May, Shapland told Propel the growth opportunity for the concept “is significant” and that its site pipeline is strong, witha long-term target of 50 Coffi Labs over the next five years. It currently operates five in and around Cardiff. 
 
Milton Keynes gourmet wings concept secures first franchise site with six further locations close to completion: Milton Keynes gourmet wings concept Wing Kingz has secured its first franchise site, with six further locations close to completion. Wing Kingz was founded by Parm Bhangal, Harminder Singh Dhisna and Aaron Murrell in 2021 and opened its debut site within the city’s Xscape destination. Setting out to expand through franchising, it first franchise site will open in Canterbury, Kent, early next year. “A lot of work behind the scenes to be ready for this moment, but after two years, god has willed,” Murrell said. “Wing Kingz will open in Canterbury early 2024 and is currently undergoing construction. Since 2021, we recognised Wing Kingz wasn’t just a restaurant in Milton Keynes, it’s a brand we needed to grow and fast. So, behind the scenes, we got our heads down and worked hard on the franchise side of the business. Legals, operation manuals, systems, training, marketing and so much more had to be in place and clear. Fast forwarding to now, with a new store ready very soon and six more locations close to being finalised and ready for construction. Myself and my partners can’t thank everyone enough for their support, from the very beginning up until now. Without you all, none of this is possible. And finally, a big shout out to the Canterbury team, our first franchise store owned by fantastic individuals who are about to start their journey with Wing Kingz. This journey and the Wing Kingz franchise journey has blown up like we can’t believe.”
 
KFC UK system sales up 10% in third quarter and 8% year to date: Yum! Brands has reported KFC system sales in the UK were up 10% for the third quarter ended 30 September 2023 compared with the previous year. In the year to date, KFC UK system sales have increased 8%. The UK accounts for 7% of KFC’s system sales worldwide. Globally, KFC like-for-like sales in the quarter increased 6% with US like-for-like sales flat – system sales worldwide were up 10%. Operating margin was up 5.8%. KFC opened 664 gross new restaurants in 57 countries during the period. Operating profit was up 13% to $344m. Meanwhile, Pizza Hut system sales in Europe, including the UK, were up 1% – the continent accounts for 14% of Pizza Hut’s system sales globally. Year-to-date sales are up 1% in the region. Globally, Pizza Hut sales in the quarter were up 3%, while like-for-likes were up 1%. US system sales, which account for 41% of global sales, were up 1%. Operating margin increased 1.3% while operating profit increased 5% to $97m. Pizza Hut opened 383 gross new restaurants in 33 countries during the period. Taco Bell like-for-like sales increased 8% and system sales were up 11%. Operating profit increased 11% to $226m and operating margin increased 0.1%. Taco Bell opened 74 gross new restaurants in 13 countries during the period. Yum! Brands also reported record digital sales exceeded $7bn, with digital making up more than 45% of revenue.
 
Midlands better burger brand seeking more franchisees after doubling store count in 2023: Midlands better burger brand Phat Buns has said it is seeking more franchisees after doubling its store count in 2023. The business, owned by Hussein Sacranie and Ahtesham Moosa, started the year with four sites and has since opened locations in Derby, Beeston, Sheffield, Birmingham (two stores) and London (two stores). Of its 11 stores, seven are currently operated by franchisees. The duo also own Doorstep Desserts, which has four locations spread across Leicester and Nottingham. “The year 2023 has unequivocally been a remarkable year marked by substantial growth,” Sacranie said. “In a significant stride forward, we’re ecstatic to announce that we’ve doubled our store presence for both Phat Buns and Doorstep Desserts. It’s been an incredible journey for our brands, and the future holds even greater promise. Anticipating an extraordinary year ahead, we’re eager to open doors to prospective collaborations and ventures for the year 2024. If you’re keen to be a part of this exciting journey and contribute to our growth story, please don’t hesitate to reach out.” Phat Buns this week spent a day at the University of Nottingham to promote its Beeston store directly to students, while serving up more than 1,000 burgers. “It was a remarkable opportunity to engage first hand with our audience and gather essential insights,” Sacranie added. “We’re immensely proud of our team’s extra effort and the enthusiastic response from the students. Days like these reinforce our belief in the impact of direct engagement.”
 
Wellington Pub Co makes a loss following revaluation losses of £46.8m: Wellington Pub Co, which operates the UK’s largest free-of-tie pub estate with circa 850 tenants, made a loss in the year to 31 March 2023 following revaluation losses of £46.8m, compared with a gain of £30m in 2022. A pre-tax profit of £45,028,000 in 2022 turned into a loss of £31,386,000 despite a rise in rental income from £27,776,000 to £30,406,000. Director Eileen Sawyer, in her statement accompanying the accounts, said: “Rent income has increased by 9.7%, substantially driven by the performance of the additional residential conversions that reached practical completion in the year. Since the end of the first quarter of 2022, real estate markets in the UK have been increasingly challenged by geopolitical events, macroeconomic issues and the associated responses. The effect of significant rise in interest rates, inflation and the cost-of-living crisis have resulted in a negative impact on capital values. Given the continuing uncertain market conditions, the company decided to review and adjust its rental yields across all segments within its portfolio. As a result, this has led to a fall in valuation of 7.5% to £502m (2022: £543m). Operating loss for the year was £25m (2022: profit of £50.8m) including revaluation losses of £46.8m (2022: gain of £30m).” No dividends were paid (2022: nil). Sawyer added that a small number of its sites were assessed for alternative use or disposal, and five pubs were disposed of in the year, generating a net loss of £400,000 (2022: £600,000 gain). She said the directors have continued with a pipeline of developments “that will create value in the long ­term”, and that development expenditure for the year totalled £7.9m (2022: £14m). The rental yield of 6% is an increase of 0.9% (2022: 5.1%), while trade debt of £5.4m is a £2.2m reduction (2022: £7.6m).
 
Ashley Palmer-Watts named co-founder of soon-to-open The Devonshire: Ashley Palmer-Watts, the former The Fat Duck executive chef, has been revealed as a co-founder of The Devonshire pub and restaurant in London’s Soho, which is set to open tomorrow (Friday, 3 November). He joins Oisin Rogers, formerly of The Guinea Grill, and Charlie Carroll, the founder of Flat Iron, in the new venture, which sits on the former Jamie’s Italian site in Denman Street. The pub, which will have ground floor space for 150 and three dining rooms with space for a further 150 covers, will feature regular live Irish music and a piano for singalongs. As an independent freehouse, it will offer a wide range of drinks. Rogers and Carroll said Palmer-Watts was instantly hooked by their vision and joined the business as a co-founder, spending more than a year developing the menu, overseen by head chef Jamie Guy, who was right hand man to Mark Hix for many years. The upstairs restaurant covers two floors and a roof terrace, and will centre on a three-metre-long bespoke wood ember grill, the first of its kind in the UK. Aged beef from the on-site aging chamber is the biggest in central London, with space for more than 5,000 steaks, as well as Ibérico pork farmed by Brett Graham, chef/owner of the two Michelin-starred The Ledbury in west London. Lobsters and langoustines will sit on the menu alongside homemade duck fat chips and a signature beef cheek and Guinness suet pudding. The bar menu will include “next-level” bacon sandwiches, scotch eggs, sausage rolls and cheese and ham hock toasties. Carroll said: “In the egalitarian spirit of Soho, we want great food and great times to be accessible to all, so day and night, the restaurant will always offer a set menu with three courses for less than £30.” Rogers added: “I have always thought I had the dream job, making people happy and serving beautiful pints and fantastic food, but I was always doing it for other people. Now, I finally have my own place and am working with brilliant partners in Charlie and Ash.”
 
Gourmet chicken concept opens fifth site: Gourmet chicken concept Rooster Shack has opened fifth site, in Godalming. It has opened at 13 Farnacombe Street in the Surrey town, adding to existing sites in Woking, Aldershot, Birmingham and Stockport. Founded in 2016 by Imran Mamud, Rooster Shack built a customer base of more than 6,000 from a single store in Woking before expanding. In June, Mamud said he is looking to grow the concept through franchising and is targeting 80 locations across the UK over the next ten years.
 
Pizzarova secures fourth site: Bristol sourdough pizza brand Pizzarova is set to open a fourth restaurant in the city. The company has secured the former Hub Box site in Whiteladies Road. Pizzarova began life in 2013, operating out the back of a Land Rover fitted with a pizza oven, serving pizzas at festivals and in villages. Since then, founder Alex Corbett has opened permanent bases in Park Street and Gloucester Road, as well as a pop-up at Wapping Wharf. Last summer, it opened its third bricks-and-mortar premises, in 237 North Street, Southville. The brand prides itself on using slowly fermenting sourdough, with dishes including double chorizo and hot honey and a vegan njuda. Jack Lander, managing director of Pizzarova, said: “Excited for Pizzarova Whiteladies Road, another iconic Bristol high street, home to some of the best independent restaurants and retailers in the city. Number 113 has deep hospitality roots, it was home to the first Las Iguanas in 1991 and has had some awesome operators, most recently Hub Box, which I’m sure will be back with a bang soon enough. As with every Pizzarova, we’ll offer eat-in, takeaway and delivery, open kitchen, Bristol beers, simple menu featuring loads of amazing local suppliers, dough and prep kitchen with sourdough made on site every day, and all run by an awesome team of people. The team is busy getting everything ready for opening later this month.”
 
Principal Hotel Company pays back more than £10m in bank loans following hotel sale, returns to profit: Principal Hotel Company has paid back more than £10m in bank loans following the sale of one of its sites. The group, which operates 12 hotels under the De Vere brand, including the Cotswold Water Park, sold the Selsdon Park Hotel in Surrey to Aprirose in February 2022 for an undisclosed price. In its accounts for the year ending 31 December 2022, the business said it repaid bank loans of £10.2m following the disposal. Further analysis shows the business made £7,871,000 from profit in disposal of hotels and venues in the period. It comes as the business returned to profit. It turned a pre-tax loss of £16,590,000 in 2021 into a profit of £375,000. Turnover increased from £58,165,000 to £111,667,000 while Ebitda rose from £9,405,000 to £25,584,000. This compares with revenue of £149,039,000 and Ebitda of £45,691,000 in pre-covid 2019, when it also made a pre-tax loss of £3,618,000. It received government grants of £42,000 compared with £4,280,000 in 2021. “The group’s revenue and operating profitability increased during the year despite the legacy of covid-19 pandemic impacting on trading activity during the first two months of the year,” said chief executive James Burrell. “The group’s trade is returning to pre covid-19 levels. The group’s independent hotel, The Grand Hotel Birmingham, has also traded well during its first full year of operations since opening. Despite the inflationary and consumer challenges in the UK economy, the directors can see that the trends reported in the 2022 results continue to be reflected in the 2023 trading results. The directors continue to be confident on the long-term prospects of the group.” In 2020, the group agreed an extension to its banking facilities to October 2025 at the earliest. The business is owned by funds managed by Starwood Capital Group, a private investment firm that currently manages more than $115bn in global real estate.
 
Prezzo launches new online benefits platform: Prezzo, the Cain International-backed Italian dining group, has launched a new online benefits platform called Prezzo Perks. The 97-strong business said the new platform was a one-stop-shop for “all our team members to view and choose their benefits available as part of their role at Prezzo”. The company said it was partnering with a range of providers to offer new benefits as part of the launch, including saving accounts and ISAs with Cushon; voluntary dental cover with Bupa Dental Care UK; voluntary critical illness cover with Unum UK; and voluntary healthcare cash plan with Simplyhealth. The company said: “What makes these perks even better is that they’re what our team members told us they wanted to see. From feedback in surveys and focus groups, we’ve been able to focus on the benefits that have real value.” 
 
Six By Nico to open two sites on same day with Birmingham and Manchester launches: The team behind the Six by Nico restaurant business is opening two restaurants on the same day, in Birmingham and Manchester. The Manchester launch is its second in the city. The restaurant, the group’s 15th, will open in the city’s Deansgate area, underneath the Yotel hotel in John Dalton Street, on Thursday, 30 November. The site will accommodate 72 covers and adds to its debut site in the city, which opened in Spring Gardens in the summer of 2019. The business is also opening a site in Birmingham on the same day, in the Chatwin Building in Colmore Row. Founded by chef Nico Simeone, Six by Nico offers a six-course tasting menu that changes every six weeks, drawing inspiration from a theme, destination or concept. Simeone said: “Since launching in 2019, our Spring Gardens venue has gone from strength to strength, prompting demand for a second site in the heart of the city. The support we have had from the people of Manchester and further afield, as well as the team we have had there since day one, have all helped make a second-site possible.” Since opening in Finnieston in 2017, Six by Nico now has locations in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Manchester, Liverpool, London, Leeds, Cardiff, Belfast, Dublin, and Aberdeen.
 
London luxury health club brand Third Space returns to profit as turnover more than doubles: London luxury health club brand Third Space returned to profit in the year to 31 December 2022 as turnover more than doubled. It turned a pre-tax loss of £7,392,316 in 2021 to a profit of £46,065 as turnover grew from £24,951,636 to £51,424,485. This compares with turnover of £45,477,721 and a profit of £2,643,951 in 2019 – the last full year before the covid pandemic. Adjusted Ebitda also increased from £960,841 in 2021 to £7,386,405. No government grants were received compared with £1,868,724 in 2021. No dividends were paid (2021: nil). Director Colin Waggett said: “2022 was a positive year for the business as it saw a strong recovery in membership levels and profitability after the impact of covid-19 in the UK during 2020 and 2021. The business continued to invest in various capital investment projects and in the service propositions.” Third Space operates nine London gyms, with a tenth opening next year, in Battersea. In September, it secured funding of almost £90m from OakNorth Bank and private equity firm Searchlight Capital Partners to fund new openings. At the time, Waggett said the business is targeting up to 30 clubs in the capital before looking at big cities abroad.
 
Fife restaurant operator to open Indian-Nepalese concept after acquiring lease of former Bruce Taverns pub: Fife restaurant operator Kashiram Bhandari is to open an Indian-Nepalese concept after acquiring the lease of a former village pub owned by Scottish operator Bruce Taverns. Bhandari has taken on the former Eighty Five pub in the village of Leslie in a deal brokered by Christie & Co. Bhandari, who owns several other restaurants and properties in the area, is renovating the property ahead of the restaurant opening. Bruce Taverns owner Scott Piatkowski said: “It is great to have a local entrepreneur working with us and I’m confident Kashiram will bring something new to the local area.”
 
Whitbread appoints new independent non-executive director: Whitbread has appointed Shelley Roberts as an independent non-executive director. Roberts, who will also join the audit committee, is group chief commercial officer at Compass Group, where she is responsible for leading the group’s global clients, strategy, M&A, health and safety, sustainability, digital and procurement functions. She has also served as managing director of Compass Group’s Australian business. Prior to Compass, she held leadership roles in a number of consumer facing businesses in the travel sector including EasyJet, Tiger Airways and Sydney airport. Roberts has served as a non-executive director at Webjet, a digital travel business listed on the Australian Stock Exchange since 2016. She will step down from that position on 22 November 2023. Whitbread chairman Adam Crozier said: “Shelley has vast experience in the travel and hospitality sector, and in M&A, environmental social and governance and corporate transformation, which will be of great benefit to the Whitbread board as we continue to deliver on our key strategic priorities.”
 
Nando’s expands Scottish estate with Perth opening: Nando’s has expanded its estate in Scotland with an opening in Perth. The restaurant at Inveralmond Retail Park in Ruthvenfield Road has created 25 jobs. The restaurant seats 72 inside and ten outside. It also operates click and collect and delivery. Restaurant manager Kenneth Gray said: “We’re excited to open our new restaurant in Perth. We’re looking forward to welcoming our new customers with our iconic flame-grilled peri-peri and good vibes.”
 
Lakedown opens new brewing facility: East Sussex-based Lakedown Brewing Co has opened its new brewing facility in Burwash after two years in construction. The new 32-hectolitre brewery sees the team move away from cuckoo brewing to its own brewery, based on the 600-acre farm, owned by actor and The Who singer Roger Daltrey, who is also a partner in the business. Daltrey, his son Jamie and two sons-in-law’s, Des Murphy and Chris Rule (managing partner), are all involved in the day-to-day running of the business. Jamie Daltrey said: “Contract brewing has been a valuable learning experience, giving us a unique insight to how different brewers approach the process. With our head brewer, Clark Coslett-Hughes, who joined us from Bedlam Brewery earlier this year, it’s great to finally be bringing everything together under one roof.” The business said that its beer sales have “increased dramatically” during 2023 spearheaded by the popularity of its “Silver Lake” pilsner, Sussex Pale Ale and “Harmonium” IPA. Earlier this year, James Cuthbertson, previously managing director of the Dark Star Brewing Co, was appointed to the management team as part of the plan for growth and establishing a successful craft brewery.
 
Company behind four-star west London hotel returns to profit but revenue remains below pre-covid levels, plans significant investment over next two years: The company behind the four-star K West Hotel & Spa in Shepherds Bush, west London, has reported turnover increased to £8,998,000 for the year ending 31 December 2022 compared with £3,908,000 the previous year. Revenue remained below the £10,768,000 for the year ending 31 December 2019 – the last full year before the covid pandemic. The business made a pre-tax profit of £145,000 compared with a loss of £529,000 the year before (2019: loss of £1,538,000). It was the first time the company had made a profit since 2012. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “The hotel has seen a further improvement in fortunes as confidence has returned to the market and there is a return to profitability in 2022 having made up a large amount, but not all, of the ground lost during the pandemic. Utility bills continue to increase at above the rate of inflation. A lack of optimism on the macroeconomic front will continue to affect revenues and profitability through 2023. Significant investment is expected to be made in the hotel by the company’s immediate parent over the course of the next two years, which is currently in the planning stage.” Occupancy for the year stood at 60%. Revpar increased from £55 to £85. Net assets increased from £2.6m to £2.7m while cash was up to £1.43m from £1.16m the previous year as the business returned to positive cash flow. The business did not receive any government grants (2021: £542,000).
 
Restaurant Associates hires new culinary director: Restaurant Associates, part of Compass Group UK & Ireland, has hired Adam Thomason as its new culinary director. Thomason previously worked for Restaurant Associates, and the wider Compass Group business, for a number of years before leaving in 2021. Since then, he has been working as culinary director at Absolute Taste, which provides catering to high-profile clients and events. Matt Thomas, managing director at Restaurant Associates, said: “I am delighted to be welcoming Adam back to our business. We have kept in touch over the years. and I can’t think of a better person to drive forward our food and people first strategy.” Thomason added: “I have so many ideas and plans that will see great food, as well as our people, at the centre of our offer. It’s a really exciting time in the contract catering and hospitality industry.”
 
Belfast pizza chain set to open third site: Belfast pizza restaurant chain Orto Pizzabar looks set to open a third location in the city. The business opened in Stranmillis, in the former Cafe Conor site, in March 2022 before opening a second spot, in the Cathedral Quarter, eight months later. A cryptic post on social media suggests it could be preparing to open a new store, reports Belfast Live. While there is no confirmation of the location yet, there is speculation that it could be located at the former site of health food restaurant Vero in Bedford Street, which closed this week after opening in April. A company called Orto Bedford Street was founded in July 2023, with the directors named as Ashley French and Paul Catterson, the partners behind Orto Pizza. French is the managing director of bake house and bistro business French Village, which has a number of locations across the city, and Catterson is a partner in two-strong burger brand Tribal Burger.
 
Company behind north London bowling and leisure complex back in profit as turnover returns to pre-covid levels: The company behind Rowans Bowling, the bowling and leisure complex in Finsbury Park, north London, has reported turnover increased to £4,757,592 for the year ending 24 April 2022 compared with £384,347 the year before as the business bounced back from the covid pandemic. In the last full year before the pandemic – ending 28 April 2019 – the company turned over £4,769,906. The business made a pre-tax profit of £2,206,782 compared with a loss of £487,438 the previous year (2019: profit of £1,840,719). Net assets increased to £5.28m from £5.12m the previous year. A dividend of £1,750,000 was paid (2021: nil).
 
Southampton street food concept to open debut bricks and mortar location: Southampton street food concept Kwackers is set to open its first bricks and mortar location. Founded by Ken and Himat Bhakar in 2014, Kwackers has spent the past decade operating at festivals and events, as well as a kiosk at the city’s West Quay scheme. It is now preparing to launch a kitchen and sports bar at a new location in West Quay South. “From humble beginnings of running food vans at local events and festivals, and then eventually launching our kiosk in West Quay level four, we’ve worked tirelessly to create a brand that we’re proud of, serving up western food with an Asian twist,” the business said. “Our new restaurant will be an addition to the existing Kwackers offering, meaning that on top of being able to pick up our food at sporting events and festivals, or for a quick bite in the food court, you’ll also now be able to come and enjoy some larger dishes of quality wholesome food while sitting down with a drink and enjoying sports on our huge screens.” Ken Bhakar also operates mobile catering business Yum Street.
 
Former Barrafina head chef leads menu at new Latin restaurant by London’s Tower Bridge: Tomasz Baranski, a former head chef at Harts Group concept Barrafina, is leading the menu at a new Latin restaurant in London’s Tower Bridge. Chayote has launched at 2 Tower Bridge House in St Katherine’s Way – combining Mexican, Spanish and Peruvian food. For Chayote, Baranski, who also helped launch Donostia tapas in Marylebone, has teamed up with husband-and-wife team Georgy Vershinin and Susannah Hall. Vershinin also operates the nearby Tower Bridge Vault Bar, within the landmark monument itself. Dishes include lamb barbacoa in adoba and banana leaf, and Iberico pork carnitas with roast chayote and red mole, while among the drinks is South American wine and tequila, mezcal and pisco, reports Hot Dinners.

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