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Revolution launches CVA to exit six sites, sales in last five weeks reduced to 49.5% of last year because of 10pm curfew

Revolution de CubaRevolution Bars Group, the operator of 73 premium bars trading across the UK under the Revolution and Revolucion de Cuba brands, has launched a CVA today as its Revolution Bar Limited (RBL) subsidiary to reduce the size of its estate and rental cost base and improve the profitability and return on capital of the group over the long-term. RBL operates 50 Revolution branded bars.

The CVA proposes to reduce the size of RBL’s estate by six bars and reduce its rental cost base, thereby improving the profitability and return on capital of the group over the long-term. RBL operates 50 Revolution branded bars.

The CVA proposes to reduce the size of RBL’s estate by six bars and reduce its rental cost base, thereby improving the profitability and return on capital of the group over the long-term. A comprehensive review of the RBL portfolio has identified 13 trading sites that are either: significantly underperforming due to their location and local trading conditions; significantly over-rented; not expected to generate future profitable returns going forward, or subject to a combination of all three above factors.

Under the terms of the proposed CVA: RBL expects to exit six bars and obtain materially improved rental terms on seven others. Where, improved rental terms are being sought, landlords will have the option to terminate the lease at various junctures over the next two years. The remaining 37 bars in the RBL portfolio will not be materially affected.


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Ranjit Mathrani, chairman and co-founder of MW EatsThe government yesterday warned restaurants not to abuse coronavirus restrictions by exploiting a loophole for ‘business lunches’ to fill their tables during the covid-19 pandemic.
The Financial Times reported: “Downing Street said that where possible it wanted people to conduct business meetings by phone call or video conference rather than in restaurants, in order to reduce the chains of transmission of the disease. The possibility of being able to host business lunches has been seized on by restaurants as a lifeline after Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s new three-tier system of covid-19 restrictions in England hit already depressed sales in the hospitality industry. Under so-called tier two restrictions – introduced in London and Birmingham this month among other areas – members of different households are banned from mixing indoors unless the meeting comes under one of a number of exemptions including if it is ‘reasonably necessary’ for work. This prompted a mass reaction on social media as people mused on ways to use the business lunch loophole to see family and friends.”
The prime minister’s spokesman told the FT he was not aware of people holding ‘fake’ business meetings in restaurants, but added that guidance on business dining was intended specifically for those who could not meet in other venues. “There’s an understanding that it was for people like the self-employed or freelancers who need to have face-to-face meetings but have nowhere else to hold them,” he added. The FT added: “Restaurateurs railed against Downing Street’s apparent attempt to narrow the exemption and said that enforcing the restrictions would be impossible. “How can they regulate this? In what way are they expecting people to be checked in terms of their employment status? It’s taking it to another level of absurdity,” said Ranjit Mathrani (pictured), chairman of MW Eat, which runs the casual dining chain Masala Zone as well as the high-end London restaurants Veeraswamy and Chutney Mary.

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Alison Brittain, chief executive of WhitbreadWhitbread has bought a further 15 hotels in Germany that are currently operating under the Centro, Ninetynine and Fourside brands, of which eight are open and seven are pipeline. The company stated: “Subject to competition clearance, the open hotels are expected to join the Premier Inn estate in December 2020, and would take our open estate to 29 hotels and our total open and committed pipeline in Germany to 68 hotels.” The company reported sales down 76.9% in its First Half to £250.8m and a statutory loss before tax of £724.7m. Alison Brittain (pictured), Whitbread chief executive, said: “Our performance following the reopening of our hotels and restaurants in the summer was encouraging and we continue to trade ahead of the market. Taking market share in the UK demonstrates the strength of our trusted Premier Inn brand and the benefits of our unique operating model. Since March we have trebled our open hotel network in Germany to 21 hotels and today announced the acquisition of up to 15 more hotels. This takes our network of open and pipeline hotels to nearly 70 hotels, with broad geographic coverage across many major cities and towns. Throughout the crisis we have taken decisive action and we continue to focus on protecting our guests, our teams and our business in light of the impact of the recent increase in regional and national restrictions. We are also improving the flexibility of our cost model to respond to changes in demand. As a result, we enter this second-wave period in a position of strength, with our customer scores higher than they have ever been, our market share growing in the UK and extending a meaningful network of hotels in Germany, giving us the opportunity to achieve national brand awareness and operate at scale. I am extremely proud of and grateful to our teams for their resilience and for the part they have played in enabling us to successfully navigate this difficult period. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for their tremendous hard work and commitment. I would also like to thank our shareholders for their ongoing support as our successful £1bn Rights Issue ensures that our strong balance sheet continues to be a source of competitive advantage and positions the business for long-term growth. Whitbread’s long-term strategy remains as relevant and compelling as ever. The impact of the covid pandemic on the hotel sector will undoubtedly be significant and we are already seeing signs of distress and constraint in the competitive landscape. This is likely to accelerate the structural changes in the market with supply contraction and constrained investment amongst independent and budget branded operators in both the UK and Germany. We hold a uniquely advantaged position in the UK market as the largest player with the strongest brand. Our financial flexibility and resilience, combined with a strong balance sheet, give us the ability and the confidence to invest with discipline and focus on strong long-term returns. We will be well placed to enhance our market leadership position even further in the UK, and accelerate our growth in Germany, supporting our guests and teams and driving long-term value for all our stakeholders.” On current trading it stated: “Premier Inn UK’s occupancy increased from 51% in August to 58% in September and our total accommodation sales recovery year-on-year was c.6% ahead of the midscale and economy market in September. We continued to see good leisure bookings and a pick-up in business-to-business sales, albeit from a low base. Since the government announcement in early October instructing working from home where possible and the recent regional lock-downs, we have seen a slowdown in the market performance. Our performance has remained ahead of the market, but with the fast-changing nature of the covid-19 environment, near-term visibility remains limited. Despite this, profit and cash sensitivities for this year remain broadly consistent with those articulated in May.”
Edinburgh, ScotlandTrade bodies in Scotland have written to the first minister and MSPs to propose a workable Strategic Framework ahead of a debate on Tuesday (27 October) that will map out the next six months for the hospitality sector. UKHospitality Scotland, the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, Scottish Beer & Pub Association and Scottish Hospitality Group have united to write the letter. While emphasising that hospitality in Scotland is not to blame for the spread of the virus, the trade bodies demanded clarification on a number of issues and have made proposals to support the sector. Its points included if there are to be higher levels of restrictions then there must be higher levels of support for businesses, and they must fall, at least, in line with those in England; economic support made available in the form of grants will not be sufficient and there must be information how the government intends to use its share of the £700m funding allocated to the devolved governments; urgent confirmation of how the Job Support Scheme will work for Scottish businesses to save up to 70,000 jobs; and that support must be provided for sub-sectors, including music and entertainment venues, nightclubs and conference centres, that are unable to open. It also stated anomalies, regarding the serving of meals in cafes but not pubs or restaurants, or hotels unable to serve alcohol to residents, must be reviewed immediately. The government is also urged to ensure restrictions do not last longer than necessary and it has to publish a road map to show how areas facing tighter restrictions can work towards exiting those restrictions. In a joint statement, the trade bodies said: “The framework, as it was announced last week, will clearly have an enormous impact on the lives of people and businesses. No other sector has been as heavily disrupted as hospitality and the planned framework looks set to provide further restrictions that may destroy businesses and wipe out jobs. The objective for everyone must be to contain the spread of the virus. It must, however, be done in a way that gives the incredibly valuable businesses in our sector the best possible chance of survival and a more equal shouldering of the burden at this time. If we are not careful, businesses will be closed for good and jobs permanently lost. Our sector stands to lose the most if the framework is not absolutely right.”
Tim Hortons debut UK shopping centre site – at Silverburn in GlasgowTim Hortons UK & Ireland chief commercial officer Kevin Hydes has told Propel the brand has been building its pipeline for two years in preparation of its plans to accelerate expansion. The Canadian quick service restaurant brand has said it wants to open an outlet in “most major cities and towns” by 2022, with plans to create more than 2,000 jobs. Hydes told Propel the business plans to focus its growth on drive-thrus, having seen a major pick-up in sales via the format since the lock-down was imposed in March. The company has seven drive-thrus currently, which are “all profitable”, and will launch its next in Milton Keynes as it moves further south in England. Hydes said its drive-thrus ranged from between 2,200 square foot to 6,000 square foot, which gives the brand flexibility on location. The dine-in restaurants have been able to operate at about two-thirds of capacity despite social distancing measures. He said: “While we have our own challenges, we are in a really strong position and have had positive growth through the year – in the last quarter we have seen a 37% increase in like-for-like sales. We’re not just looking to open sites in the south but the whole of the UK. We’ve been working on our property pipeline for the past two years. We have spent a lot of time making sure we have the best products for our customers. They appear to have missed us during lock-down because we have seen both average spend and frequency of visits increase while we have also picked up new customers. Our job is to make sure they have a fantastic experience and a reason to come back.”
Fabric LondonIconic London nightclub Fabric has received £1.5m as part of the latest round of the government’s Culture Recovery Fund. The £1.57bn bailout fund for the arts sector was announced earlier this year, and the latest round of grants has seen £75m given to 35 organisations. Five music venues are included in the new grants. Alongside Fabric, money will go to BH Live in Bournemouth (£2.4m); the North Music Trust, which runs the Sage venue in Gateshead (£1.8m); Performances Birmingham Ltd (£2.5m); and the ACC Liverpool Group (£2.9m). “We’re delighted to announce that we’ve been successful in our application for the Culture Recovery Fund,” Fabric wrote on Twitter. “We would like to express our gratitude to Arts Council England and DCMS (the government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) for the faith they’ve shown in us.” The news follows criticism from the dance industry after many of its most prominent venues were denied funding in previous rounds of the Culture Recovery Fund, saying nightclubs were left “trying to rebalance the unjust”. While it emerged that 89% of England’s grassroots music venues that applied for a share of the £1.57bn bailout had been successful, Printworks, The Egg, Studio 338, Oval Space and The Pickle Factory were among the most notable venues to be denied financial assistance, and are still yet to receive funding. While certain dance music institutions and organisations were awarded a grant, including Ministry Of Sound, which gained £975,468, and Boiler Room, which was awarded £791,562, others left out in the cold said the application process did not give them a chance to sufficiently express their cultural worth.
RumThe Wine & Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) has crowned rum the “drink of lock-down”, as their latest figures show that rum enjoyed the biggest growth across all spirits during lock-down. In the three months from April to June 2020, 38% more rum was sold than in the same period in 2019, equating to an extra 1.3 million bottles sold. Total rum sales were worth £119m in the quarter alone. During the past 12 months, rum has enjoyed 8% volume gains and is now worth £430m, placing it behind only whiskies, vodkas and gins in value terms. The biggest growth was found in the flavoured and spiced rum category that, between April and June, grew 53% by volume to make up 3.4 million bottles of the overall category. The popularity of flavoured and spiced rums during lock-down saw the variety outsell white rums over a three-month period for the first time.
London's West End shops and peopleCustomer confidence has improved slightly for the third quarter but concerns remain over a second wave of the pandemic, according to the latest Deloitte Consumer Tracker. It has registered a rise in confidence of one percentage point to minus 16 from its second quarter findings but this is still seven percentage points behind the same period in 2019. Meanwhile, sentiment improved for job security, job opportunities and career progression, and children’s education as hospitality reopened during the summer and the academic year resumed. However, while sentiment on the economy improved six percentage points quarter-on-quarter, the combination of new local lock-down measures, a year-end Brexit transition deadline and the ongoing financial impact of covid-19 saw year-on-year confidence fall by 27 percentage points to minus 82%. Net spending increased quarter-on-quarter across leisure categories including eating out (up 47%), drinking in pubs and bars (up 35%) and visiting coffee and sandwich shops (up 33%). This was attributed to an easing of coronavirus restrictions from early July, combined with warmer weather and continued financial support from government schemes, such as Eat Out To Help Out. Deloitte partner for hospitality and leisure Simon Oaten said: “The gradual reopening of many leisure activities during the third quarter prompted a timid return to social life for consumers. Financial support for the sector has resulted in encouraging signs but the next six months are likely to determine the speed of the leisure sector’s recovery.” Deloitte surveyed 3,000 UK consumers between 25 and 29 September as some workers returned to home working and early closing rules for pubs and restaurants came into effect.
Edinburgh, ScotlandThe Scottish Hospitality Group (SHG) has said the country’s new five-tier system is “unnecessarily complex” and the sector is still left bearing the brunt of restrictions because of “absurd guesswork” by ministers. First minister Nicola Sturgeon has unveiled the new system that comes into force on Monday, 2 November. Under the five tiers, hospitality venues would be forced to close at level three while they would be banned from serving customers indoors or have severely restricted opening hours at level two. SHG spokesman Stephen Montgomery said: “The new financial support package, while welcome, is the equivalent of being abandoned at sea with only a lifejacket. We cannot survive if the intention is to impose these restrictions indefinitely. More levels are just another example of an unnecessarily complex system that leaves both businesses and the public confused. The hospitality industry is still left bearing the brunt with no scientific, statistical, or medical evidence for these restrictions. We are tired of hearing the numbers ‘may’ or ‘might’ or ‘could’ be impacted by our ongoing economic ‘sacrifices’. It seems ludicrous it is too early to see the effect on case numbers for hospitality yet current measures on household gatherings are determined as having an impact. Between July and September our members have served more than 1.8 million customers with only 17 confirmed cases, demonstrating Scotland’s bars and restaurants offer a far safer environment where people can be sure all possible precautions have been taken to look after them properly. We have repeatedly called on the government to work with us on a solution – we now need confidence that ministers are making decisions and putting measures in place based on tangible evidence rather than absurd guesswork.”
Restaurant ClosedCivil servants are reportedly drawing up plans for an extra-tough fourth tier of covid restrictions in England in case the current system fails to make a dent in the coming weeks. The measures could see restaurants and non-essential retailers such as clothes shops forced to close in areas where tier three rules have not brought the virus under control. Whitehall sources told inews a decision could be made by mid-November, when there is enough data to gauge the effectiveness of the three-tier system. Other options under consideration include ramping up existing tier three rules to “tier three-plus”, or “circuit-breaker” total lock-downs in coronavirus hotspots. Local circuit-breakers would look similar to the lock-down Leicester faced over summer, the sources added, shutting down most businesses and banning travel outside the region rather than simply advising against it.
The ConduitThe Conduit, the prominent London members’ club that opened just two years ago following a reported £38m investment, has been placed into administration. Quantuma has been appointed to oversee the administration process, which has come about after negotiations about the future of the business with its bank Metrobank broke down. In a letter to its members, seen by Propel, The Conduit said: “After emerging from lock-down, our business has shown real resilience and we had been increasingly confident we had weathered the storm. Over the past weeks, as many businesses during this period have been doing, we have been in detailed negotiations with our landlord, our shareholders, and our bank, to establish a strategy to buy out our debt and secure the future of the business. While negotiations appeared to have been progressing well, and before considering a revised offer, to our complete surprise and dismay the bank closed negotiations abruptly and appointed administrators. We are therefore devastated to be writing to inform you The Conduit will cease trading and The Conduit on 40 Conduit Street will be permanently closed. The Conduit team is completely committed to finding a new way forward. In recent days we have been extremely gratified by significant shareholder support and we intend to write to you again in due course with our next steps on how we, and your membership, will continue in a new form. We are now starting our search for a new home and we’d welcome any leads or suggestions from members of the community.”
HMSHost International has opened the first UK airport site for KFC, at Manchester airport's Terminal ThreeKFC is planning to create 5,400 jobs across its 965 restaurants in the UK and Ireland by the end of the year. The company said the new roles are in addition to the 4,300 created since March. Boosted by a surge in demand for online deliveries and takeaway meals during the coronavirus pandemic, KFC is currently on track to hire 10,000 people by the end of the year. The new jobs will be partly supported by the government’s “Kickstart Scheme”, which helps employers create opportunities for 16 to 24-year-olds at risk from long-term unemployment. Launched last month, the programme offers businesses funding to pay staff the national minimum wage in a bid to get young people into work. It is expected to run until December 2021. However, KFC confirmed the roles will be on a permanent basis – either full-time or part-time and offering a minimum of 25 hours per week. Paula MacKenzie, UK and Ireland general manager, said: “With new regional and national lock-downs coming into effect, it’s an uncertain time for many businesses – but due to the phenomenal support from our teams and fans, as well as the governments of the UK and the Republic of Ireland, we’re excited to be able to welcome more than 5,000 new team members ahead of Christmas.”
Lussmanns Fish & Grill, the independent brasserie group backed by investor Luke Johnson, has restructured its business, which has led to the closure of one site and a move for another. The Andrei Lussmann-led group has closed its Tring site and moved out of its site in Hertford. After 16 years based in The Egyptian House, the five-strong company is moving to a new location – 83 Fore Street, in Hertford – with an opening planned for next month. The group, which currently has its sites in Hitchen, Harpenden and St Albans open, has restructured its business under new vehicle JL20 Restaurants, in which Johnson remains an investor. Lussmann told Propel the restructuring via JL20 and closure of two of its sites was “the only way we could hold our landlords to account and get them to share the burden”. He said: “The need to follow the ideal of ‘one for all and all for one’ is sadly missed for some of our landlords who seem to live in a time warp. That said, most of our landlords have been pragmatic and supportive as Lussmanns continues to trade well.”
Costa apprenticeA Costa Coffee franchise has secured a £1m-plus facility from HSBC UK to refit its stores and help ambitious growth plans. Altrincham-based Sim Trava is a franchise-operated Costa Coffee network with 39 stores across Greater Manchester, Cheshire and the north east, which employs 334 staff members. Sim Trava managing director Simon Vardy said: “After a difficult period of trading for the business through the covid-19 crisis, we have now recovered enough to be in a strong position to continue with our plans to expand next year. The funding from HSBC UK has been crucial in making our stores as safe as possible throughout these difficult times.” HSBC UK corporate relationship director Zubayr Atcha added: “It has been a testing number of months for the food and drink industry. However, Sim Trava is a great example of a business that has successfully navigated the covid-19 crisis so far and we now look forward to seeing the company recover and continue to grow across the north of England.” Sim Trava was founded in 2005 by Simon and Tracy Vardy. It trades as Costa Coffee under a franchisee partnership with Coca Cola. It opened its 39th store in Trafford Ski Centre in Manchester.
Carlo Mocci, chief business officer, DeliverooDeliveroo has appointed Carlo Mocci (pictured) as chief business officer for the UK and Ireland, Propel has learned. Mocci will have responsibility for running the UK and Ireland markets and report directly to chief executive Will Shu, and also sit on the executive team. Mocci, who will lead Deliveroo’s ambition to expand market share across the UK and Ireland, joins from Amazon where, during the past seven years, he led the Amazon Fresh and Prime Now businesses for Europe and Japan, and the UK health and beauty business. He also established pan-EU infrastructure, systems and operating processes in commercial and supply chain domains. Prior to this, Mocci was at McKinsey for 13 years where he was a partner and a core leader of the retail practice. A Deliveroo spokeswoman said: “This is an incredibly important role for our business. Carlo brings with him an enormous wealth of operating experience. He has the experience and mindset to help us achieve our goals of delivering a fantastic consumer value proposition to all different types of consumers, as well as continuing to develop new partnerships with restaurants large and small across the UK and Ireland.” Deliveroo now works with 44,000 restaurants in the UK, after taking on 11,500 new restaurants in recent months and will expand its rider network by 15,000.
The BabaBoom teamFledgling kebab restaurant concept BabaBoom is recruiting for a managing director as it remains “firmly committed to bringing our delicious kebabs to London and beyond”, Propel has learned. The company said it was recruiting for a managing director “who will take on full responsibility for running all aspects of the business and contribute to deciding our future strategic direction”. The Eve Bugler-founded business recently appointed Graham Ford, formerly of Bill’s, Carluccio’s and Strada, as its interim managing director. Bugler told Propel: “As the largest shareholder in BabaBoom, and given my passion for all things kebab-related, I will continue to relish my involvement as a board member and as guardian of the concept and culture. I am very pleased that Graham Ford, who has been working with us since July, leading on all matters operational, will be taking the helm in an interim role until the end of April. Graham is a very experienced operator having held senior positions in Strada, Bill’s and Carluccio’s. This will give me time to devote to finding the right person, among the exceptional talent currently on the market, while providing stability for the business and our team in the meantime.” Bugler said that trading performance at the company’s Battersea site “had been very resilient”, building through August with Eat Out To Help Out and resulting in positive like-for-like sales through September. She said: “We’re fortunate to be in a neighbourhood location with a solid delivery business.” Having recently secured a 40% reduction in rent, the company was set to reopen its Upper Street site in Islington on Monday but, given the introduction of the “single household” rules, it is now “proceeding cautiously to preserve cash”. In February, the business closed a £1m growth funding round, which included the circa £815,000 it raised through a crowdfunding campaign with Seedrs at the start of the year. Bugler said: “We are active in the property market and remain firmly committed to bringing our delicious kebabs to London and beyond.”
New World Trading Company brand The BotanistGraphite Capital-backed pub restaurant group The New World Trading Company (NWTC) is to double its presence in Sheffield, with the opening of a site under its The Trading House brand in the city. Propel understands the Jesper Friis-led business has secured a site in Charter Row as part of the Heart of the City 2 development. The 28-strong company already operates a site under its The Botanist brand in the city, in Leopold Square. Earlier this year, the company appointed Friis as its new chief executive, replacing Chris Hill. He joined NWTC from Ole & Steen (Lagkagehuset) where, as chief executive, he led the Danish bakery group’s expansion from 35 to more than 100 outlets, including stores in the UK and New York. NWTC operates seven brands – The Oast House, The Botanist, The Canal House, The Trading House, The Club House, Smugglers Cove and The Florist.
Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers chief executive Kate NichollsThe future of 2,000 hospitality venues and 43,000 sector jobs in South Yorkshire hang in the balance without additional financial support, trade bodies have warned, with the region moving into tier three restrictions. Bars and pubs across areas including Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield, will have to close from Saturday (24 October) as they join Greater Manchester, Lancashire and the Liverpool City Region in the highest level of coronavirus restrictions. Under the rules, people are banned from socialising with other households both indoors and in private gardens, while bars and pubs are closed unless they can operate as restaurants only. The rule of six applies outdoors and overnight stays are banned. Casinos, bingo halls, bookmakers, betting shops and soft play areas must also close. UKHospitality and the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) have again called for a broader support package in affected areas. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls (pictured) said: “Another region placed into tier three puts even more strain on an already devastated sector and puts more jobs at risk. We need the government to provide a much more comprehensive package of support for the region’s businesses immediately. Too many businesses are being forced into a kind of hibernation from which they may not emerge.” BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin added: “This will kill the business model of 327 food-led pubs. The remaining 655 pubs that don’t serve substantial meals will be forced to close completely. The survival of all pubs in either of these categories is hanging in the balance.” Total funding available to South Yorkshire agreed with government for the latest restrictions is £41m, including £30m to support the region’s businesses, and £11m for local authorities to support public health measures such as Test and Trace to stop the spread of the virus.
Edinburgh, ScotlandThe Scottish Hospitality Group (SHG) has said the extension of restrictions in the country means the industry can expect a “continued government stranglehold on hospitality that will have devastating consequences”. First minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced hospitality businesses in the central belt will remain shut for an additional week – until Monday, 2 November, when the country will move to a five-tier system of virus alert levels. Bars and restaurants in the central belt were closed on 9 October, as part of what Sturgeon called a “short, sharp action to arrest a worrying increase in infection”. Hospitality venues in other parts of the country can only serve alcohol outdoors. The new multi-tier system will involve different levels of restrictions that can be applied nationally or regionally, depending on the level of infection. It is due to be published on Friday (23 October), and debated by the Scottish parliament after Holyrood’s half-term recess. Sturgeon said the middle three tiers would be “broadly equivalent” to the three-tier system in use in England. The Scottish system will add an extra tier at the bottom, which Sturgeon said will be “the closest to normality we can reasonably expect to live with until we have a vaccine”, and one at the top “not identical to but perhaps close to a full lock-down”. But SHG spokesman Stephen Montgomery said: “Recent restrictions were framed as a ‘temporary’ short, sharp shock, but the extension is an indication that we can only expect a continued government stranglehold on hospitality that will have devastating consequences. With current restrictions remaining in place until 2 November, and no indication of what the new tier system will entail, the financial support package must be increased or countless venues will be forced to close for good, and tens of thousands of people will lose their jobs.” Willie Macleod, UKHospitality executive director for Scotland, added: “The support on offer isn’t going to be enough to save the sector. The £40m announced by the Scottish government was intended to cover a 16-day period to 25 October. That sum was inadequate when it was announced and it is only going to be diluted further. It is vital the Scottish government outlines plans for additional support to keep the sector from being totally wiped out.”
London's West End shops and peopleUK footfall dropped 5% week-on-week as the government’s new tier system came into force, according to data from Wi-Fi solutions provider Wireless Social. At the weekend, footfall across Britain was down 47% of that seen on average in February. In London, which was placed into tier two restrictions on Friday (16 October), footfall on Saturday (17 October) was 45% below February’s level while the previous week it was 41% down. Liverpool’s footfall dropped heavily last weekend also, as expected, as the city was placed into tier three restrictions. On Saturday, footfall was down 65% on February’s level – a 16% drop from the previous Saturday. Glasgow’s footfall has dropped following the introduction of restrictions in the central belt on 9 October. Prior to the measures, footfall had fallen 46% on February’s baseline, but on Saturday, 10 October, it dropped 63% against pre-coronavirus levels, and at the weekend it was down 68%. Edinburgh also saw a decline in footfall, but not as drastic as Glasgow. On Saturday, it was 60% below February’s level, and down 61% on Sunday (18 October). Wi-Fi log-in data also showed people aged 25 to 34 are visiting venues most between 9am and 1pm and 18 to 24-year-olds represent the biggest proportion of guests between 5pm and 9pm. Wireless Social data also suggested people are heading earlier to the pub so they can get just as many hours in prior to the 10pm curfew. When comparing the time that guests logged into the Wi-Fi during September pre-curfew and last week, every hour time slot before 8pm last week had higher log-ins than in September. Last week, once it got to 8pm, log-ins declined compared with September, suggesting fewer people entered pubs and restaurants after this time.
Wireless Social is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member
Generic Restaurant Breakfast imageFood delivery platform Foodhub has claimed 84% of restaurants believe the government must do more to help the sector and 79% fear a second lock-down will negatively impact their business. Almost two thirds (64%) of survey respondents said the chancellor’s winter spending plan is not enough to support businesses, 81% believe covid-19 is the biggest barrier to growth yet 72% have claimed they have seen significant upturn in online orders. Some 48% of survey respondents want a longer furlough scheme and 41% believe a recession will harm trade. Some 88% said they offer a takeaway or delivery service with 10% investigating such options – of these, 27% cite the biggest challenges to be around a lack of drivers and 21% said mounting costs puts them off. Foodhub chief operating officer Philip Mostyn said: “This year has been a challenging year for all sectors. The hospitality industry, in particular, has suffered a drastic blow since the first lock-down in March when many were forced to close down all operations. With new restrictions in place, these businesses are now being told their hours will be reduced and sentiments across the sector are of uncertainty and anxiety. Our research has highlighted concerns but also found the industry is remaining resilient and optimistic towards their growth.”
Stonegate LogoSeveral parties have submitted bids to acquire the entire 42-strong package of pubs, which were originally placed on the market to address competition concerns surrounding Stonegate Pub Company’s £3bn acquisition of Ei Group. Propel understands bids were due on Monday (19 October) for the package, which Stonegate agreed to sell at the end of last year to get Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) approval for its £3bn acquisition. The package comprises 30 freehold and 12 leasehold sites and consists of 32 Ei Group-owned properties and ten Stonegate. The pubs, which are being marketed by CBRE, need to be divested in a maximum of three packages unless otherwise agreed in writing by the CMA. Propel understands Admiral Taverns and real estate investment company Aprirose are among the parties interested in the pubs. Last year, Aprirose launched Blackrose, its pub management company. Blackrose has circa 40 pubs under management with 12 operating under the Blackrose brand, and set out plans earlier this summer to have 200 new site acquisitions by the end of 2021. Stonegate declined to comment.
Koh Thai founder Andy LennoxAndy Lennox (pictured), the founder of the Koh Thai brand, is to re-enter the Thai food market with a new high-end concept called Nusara. Lennox said the new concept will combine the “age-old tradition of fire grilling alongside time-honoured recipes with a balanced Thai menu of meat, fish and plant” to deliver “an innovative healthy, fresh menu for Thai lovers everywhere to explore”. The first Nusara will open next month, on the former Koh Thai site in Christchurch, Bournemouth. The launch will see Lennox who founded the Koh Thai brand in 2009, then sold and exited the business in 2018, going on to found Zim Braai, re-enter the Thai market after two years. He will be joined in the new venture by chef Thammanoon Thurasan and Zim Braai operations director Sophie Cox, who will also take up the position of group operations director. Lennox said: “What’s in a name? Nusara is a labour of love, born to create something truly special, a safe home, and a mecca for Thai Lovers everywhere. Nusara is about family, about exploring Thai food to its next level and delivering a truly exceptional dining experience.” Lennox currently operates two Zim Braai sites. The concept was launched in Ashley Cross, Dorset, in December 2018, with a second site opening in the Poole Hill area of Bournemouth, earlier this summer.
US chef-restaurateur Jody Williams is to make her UK debut with the launch of her Buvette restaurant brand in London’s Notting Hill, Propel has learned. Williams is understood to have secured 9 Blenheim Crescent for her first UK opening. Williams currently operates restaurants under the Buvette name in New York, Paris and Tokyo, with a launch in Mexico City also in the pipeline. Buvette is described as “part restaurant, part bar, part cafe”, which combines the “elegance of an old-world cafe with the casual nature of a neighbourhood eatery”. Williams is also the co-owner of the Italian restaurant, Via Carato, in New York. George Collison at Colliers International acted on behalf of the landlord Warrior Capital in the Blenheim Crescent deal.
Japanese and Latin American fusion concept Sugoi JPN, with its sister brand Arepita Sliders, will launch its fourth dark kitchen in association with The Chelsea Lodge. The Chelsea Lodge will continue to run its Italian dining and bar restaurant on King’s Road while Sugoi JPN and Arepita Sliders operates takeaway and delivery services from the kitchen. The creators of Sugoi JPN previously launched its “Under One Kitchen” project, which aims to help and support fellow hospitality brands during the global pandemic. By opening multiple “dark kitchens” across London, Sugoi JPN enables both start-ups and established brands to work alongside each other, but as distinct businesses, to maximise their offer while cutting costs. The brand has ambitious plans to launch 50 dark kitchens across the capital. Sugoi JPN owner Felipe Preece said: “We must not see this pandemic as a crisis, but an opportunity. Covid-19 has left the restaurant industry in flux and we must all do what we can to support our industry colleagues, and we are excited to be working with The Chelsea Lodge to reinforce that message.” Available for delivery or takeaway from Wednesday through to Sunday, customers can choose from three different menu concepts; Japanese-Latin fusion street food from Sugoi JPN, authentic Italian cuisine from The Chelsea Lodge, and Venezuelan-inspired “FYI – fill it yourself” arepas – pan-fried corn buns that originated in the area of South America that is now Venezuela and Columbia – from Arepita Sliders. The Chelsea Lodge will be accepting walk-ins for those who wish to enjoy their takeaway, but in the comfort of the restaurant. Delivery is available within a 2.5-mile radius of the south west London-based site.
Ellen ChewSingaporean restaurateur Ellen Chew (pictured) and Alix Andre are to launch a site under their Arome Bakery brand, in London’s Covent Garden. Launched last year in Soho, Arome Bakery has now secured a site at 9 Mercer Street. Last year, it opened its debut site on the former Gourmet Burger Kitchen premises in Frith Street. Earlier this summer, Chew – who is behind Rasa Sayang in Chinatown and Lobos Tapas in London Bridge and Soho – secured the former Herman Ze German site plus a unit next door in Birmingham’s Grand Central to launch Mrs Chew’s Chinese Kitchen. George Collison at Colliers International acted on the Covent Garden deal.
Philippe ConticiniFrench pastry chef Philippe Conticini (pictured) has reopened his Camden boutique patisserie Salon de Thé, which only launched a few days before lock-down in March. He also plans to open a second cafe in Buck Street Market in November – with a third site in the pipeline for spring 2021 that will be joined by three more openings in France. Continici said: “It has been a lifelong ambition to own my own patisserie in London. Londoners have always fascinated me, how they eat, how they enjoy their food. They welcome creativity and I am excited to introduce them to my unique approach to pastry. It will be a challenge, but I believe if you can be a success in London, you can be a success anywhere. Camden Market is one of the UK’s most iconic markets, a melting pot of creativity, international cuisine and culture and Buck Street Market is a new and exciting concept in sustainable consumerism. With global travel on pause for many, we’re providing an opportunity for Londoners to indulge in the finest French patisseries that we hope will transport them, if just for a second, to the romance of Paris, without leaving the capital.” The 60-cover Camden reopening is a tearoom that features a boulangerie and all-day dining with an afternoon tea also available. The second site, scheduled to open in November, is the 40-seater Conticini Cafe, which will cover two floors and offer a more casual grab-and-go element. The third site planned to open in spring will also debut at about the same time three more sites will be unveiled in France. Conticini currently has an open site in London, two in Paris and one in Tokyo.
S4labourIndustry sales were down 26.3% last week compared with last year, according to according to S4labour, the online labour-scheduling management system from Catton Hospitality. Food sales fell 9.8% while drink revenue dropped 37.1%. Early indicative figures show a clear correlation between the tier levels and a sales decline, with tiers one, two and three having a week-on-week decline of 6.2%, 18.2% and 46.2% respectively, Thursday to Sunday. Chief customer office Sam Wignell said: “Despite it being early days, it’s clear to see the impact these measures are having on people’s confidence to eat and drink out.”
S4labour is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member
Individual Restaurants' Piccolino site in ManchesterIndividual Restaurants, which operates circa 30 sites under the Piccolino and Restaurant Bar & Grill brands, has said since reopening, sales and profits have exceeded its expectations. In its group accounts filed at Companies House, the business stated: “As for all of us in the sector, lock-down was a painful and worrying time. Since reopening, sales and profits have exceeded our expectations. The size of our restaurants has allowed us to meet demand even with strict social distancing and dine-safe measures in place. We have limited exposure to central London, which has been the hardest hit and our affluent suburban locations have traded very well with the shift change towards home working and staycation Britain. Online continues to beat expectations. As we look to the winter with this second wave of the virus and restrictions imposed on eating out, there are challenging and uncertain times ahead. However, we are ready to weather the storm with the same resilience the business has delivered in lock-down, reopening and performance to date.” Earlier this year, the business launched its own premium collection and delivery service. It said: “The business goes from strength to strength, and with the changing consumer behaviour towards online it will be a further focus for our growth in the future.” Post the group’s year end to 30 March 2019, the business finalised a new £36m banking facility and acquired a majority stake in Gino D’Acampo Worldwide Restaurants. In 2015, the company entered into a joint venture with the chef, to launch new restaurant brand Gino D’Acampo – My Restaurant. The combined group comprises 37 restaurants (21 Piccolino, eight Bar & Grills and eight Gino D’Acampo). It is understood Individual Restaurants backer Sir Malcolm Walker, the founder of frozen food chain Iceland, supported the Gino D’Acampo chain with a loan that was registered earlier in October. This came after the business led by the chef posted full-year sales of £12.4m, but losses of £2.9m. Sales in the 12 months to 30 March 2019 for Individual Restaurants declined from £61.8m to £58.4m, while group Ebitda fell from £7.1m to £6.5m.
Mark Davies, chief executive of Hawthorn LeisureHawthorn Leisure, the pub operations arm of NewRiver, has extended its rent support in response to local lock-downs because it does not feel the government’s financial package is sufficient. The additional support will see pubs affected by the Welsh “fire break” and tier three restrictions in England and the equivalent in Scotland will have their rent credited at 100% for up to an initial four-week period. Pubs within tier two areas will be offered rent relief ranging from 33% to 80%, based on the affordability of their rent against their turnover. Pubs in tier one continue to be eligible for its support grant where operators can apply for individual support where they are not able to meet all outgoings. Chief executive Mark Davies (pictured) said: “The government support offered to pubs in tier three in England, and to those affected by widespread closures in Scotland, and the ‘fire break’ in Wales from this Friday, simply does not go far enough. Pubs still have to cover all normal overheads and ensure there is food on the tables of their own families at the end of the week. The grants made available by the various governments, while welcome, fail to cover the weekly overheads most businesses encounter. We are also offering all of our partners the chance to co-invest with us through our ‘Partner Investment Fund’ where we will match every £1 spent up to £5,000 each, which does not need to be repaid. This is to help improve outside space and increase internal covers to enable our pubs to maximise their trading opportunity against the ever-changing restrictions in place.”
Natural KitchenDeli and cafe concept The Natural Kitchen has become the latest London-based operator to be placed into administration. Propel understands restructuring firm Quantuma has been appointed as administrator to the nine-strong brand’s parent company TNK. Propel revealed last month, the Justin Green-led business was working with property advisers Lambert Smith Hampton in regards to the marketing of its business. It is thought that a deadline for offers had been set for Monday, 21 September. The company opened its latest site, at St Katharine Docks, in summer 2018 after taking over the former Tom’s Kitchen site. Earlier this year, it was linked with taking a site on the ground floor at 100 Bishopsgate. The company also operates sites in Angel Court, Marylebone High Street, Tudor Street, Baker Street, New Street Square, Waterloo Station, Aldersgate and Trinity Square. All of the sites remain temporarily closed. Posting on the company’s website on the continued closures, managing director Green said: “With the continued uncertainty surrounding the covid-19 virus crisis, The Natural Kitchen will remain closed beyond the 4 July government reopening date. The reasons for this decision are the challenging social distancing restrictions and the continuing advice to you, our customers, to work from home whenever possible. Therefore, without the majority of our customers back in the city, The Natural Kitchen cannot trade successfully and opening too early could jeopardise the whole business. After such a long and enforced lock-down and, so far, surviving this crisis, we believe it foolhardy to reopen just yet with the persisting uncertainty.”

Propel Multi ClubThe next Propel Multi Club Conference will take place on Thursday, 5 November and will take the form of a day-long digital live webinar focusing on “navigating the new normal”. The event, which starts at 10am, is free for operators, who can claim two places by emailing Speakers include Stephen Owens, managing director of pubs and restaurants at Christie & Co, who will provide an overview of the effect of covid-19 on the pub, restaurant and hotel property market – and where it goes from here. Tim Shield, of John Gaunt & Partners, will talk about the opportunities and challenges that face the sector as it adapts to the covid era – and emerges from it. Andrew Ball, partner at hospitality specialist haymacintyre, which has 140 clients in the sector, will provide insights on the key accountancy issues all operators need to be aware of generated by covid-19. Robert Cook, chief executive of TGI Friday’s, will talk to Propel insights editor Mark Wingett about how the business has navigated lock-down with a new management team and new ideas. Richard Hodgson, chief executive of YO!, will discuss how the company used the crisis to evolve into a fast casual operator. Simon Potts, chief executive of The Alchemist, will talk to Mark Wingett about navigating the crisis, opening new sites, listening to its teams and evolving its culture. BrewDog chief operating officer David McDowall will talk about how the company fought back against the crisis and lessons it learned from its international businesses. The NPD Group’s Dominic Allport will talk about the impact of covid-19 on consumer behaviour and trading, and looks forward to highlight the likely winners and losers from the market rebound over the next 12 to 18 months. Andy Hornby, chief executive of The Restaurant Group,will talk to Mark Wingett about how the Wagamama owner approached the crisis, the restructuring of the business and the lessons learned. There will also be two panel sessions. Mark Wingett will talk to Kevin Charity, founder of Coaching Inn Group; Andy Laurillard, founder of Giggling Squid; Peter Borg-Neal, founder of Oakman Inns; andPrue Freeman, founder of Daisy Green about how covid-19 changed their businesses, their leadership style and the sector for the better and the worse. Meanwhile, sector investor Luke Johnson, UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls, Robin Rowland andLondon Union founder Jonathan Downey will talk to Mark Wingett about what comes next for the sector.

The National Innovation in Training Awards (NITAs), run by the British Institute of Innkeeping (BII), is open for entries – with three new categories added for 2020. The event, organised in partnership with Propel, highlights individuals and businesses in the sector who put their people first. Recent challenges surrounding the support and retention of hospitality teams through the pandemic have hugely increased the focus on well-being as a unique and important part of their development. The BII said, therefore, the NITAs this year will be a platform to recognise not only those who have continued with their existing training programmes, but also those who have developed and created new ways to support their staff and colleagues, despite the unprecedented challenges facing them. Three new categories have been added this year – The BII Heart of the Community Award; Staff Wellbeing Award; and Hospitality Support Programme Award. They join the other categories of Best Managed Training Programme Companies under 50 outlets; Best Managed Training Programme Companies 50 outlets and over; Best Training Programme – Leased & Tenanted Companies; Best Apprenticeship Training Programme; Best Individual Operator Training Programme; Training Professional of the Year; HR Manager of the Year; and the Franca Knowles Lifetime Achievement Award, which is an industry recognition award. The winner of the Franca Knowles Lifetime Achievement Award will be chosen by a panel led by Keith Knowles, chief executive and founder of Beds and Bars. The award will identify and recognise an individual who leads by example and can demonstrate people are at the core of what they do. The award is in memory of the late Franca Knowles, who was a multiple winner of NITA awards and passionate about people and training. Entrants have until Monday, 2 November, to complete their entries and can enter more than one category. Criteria for each award and registration forms can be found on the NITAs page at Each category will have a judging panel consisting of industry experts and the winners will be announced at the end of November.

Propel has launched a campaign called BeatTheVirus to help operators through the coronavirus crisis.

We have teamed up with Propel Multi Club conference series partners to offer the sector their expertise. Partners will offer more general advice and highlight some of the initiatives they are doing.

Companies supporting the BeatTheVirus campaign include Airship, Bums on Seats, CACI, Christie & Co, COREcruitment, CPL Learning, Cynergy Bank, Elliotts, Hastee, haysmacintyre, John Gaunt & Partners, KAM Media, Prestige Purchasing, S4labour, Startle, Ten Kites, The NPD Group, Toggle, Trail, Venners, Wireless Social, Yapster and sector trade body UKHospitality.

Propel managing director Paul Charity said: “It is amazing to see how the industry has come together during this crisis and here at Propel we want to do our bit. This is why we are working with Multi Club partners to offer expert support and advice to our readers and to answer their questions at what is a tough time for everyone.”

Readers can email questions for our experts to Please use BeatTheVirus in the subject line.

More than 300 readers have now signed up to Propel Premium – while those joining the new-look Propel Premium Club can save money by receiving a pair of free tickets to one of four conferences in 2020.

Propel Premium subscribers also receive their morning newsletter 11 hours early, at 7pm the evening before our 6am send-out, discounts to attend Propel conferences and events, and regular columns from insights editor Mark Wingett. Subscribers also receive access to our database of multi-site companies, which has grown to 1,500 businesses.

Meanwhile, subscribers to the new-look Propel Premium Club will be able to choose to use a pair of free tickets to one of the following conferences – The Delivery Conference (Tuesday, 21 April), The Finance and Investment Conference (Thursday, 14 May), The Casual Dining Summit (Monday, 12 October) or The New Concept Conference (Monday, 19 October). The normal cost of two tickets to these events is £490 plus VAT for operators and £690 plus VAT for suppliers.

An annual premium subscription costs £395 plus VAT for operators and £495 plus VAT for suppliers. Email

Mark McCullochOperators can map their marketing strategy for 2020 through a video collection that features all sessions from the Social Media for Profit Masterclass. The videos reveal how to build sales and brands using social media and are taken from the social media boot camp hosted by Mark McCulloch (pictured), who has more than 20 years’ brand, marketing, digital and social media experience that includes senior positions at Pret A Manger and YO!

McCulloch reveals the hot trends and tips for 2020 and what social media strategists should focus on including channels, content and untapped areas you may be neglecting. He also reveals how businesses can grow their reach by creating a personal brand and using their most senior people to make that brand more human, relevant and accessible.

McCulloch is joined in the video series by Alison Battisby, founder and director of social media consultancy Avocado Social, who has ten years of social media experience and is a Facebook-accredited trainer. She reveals the best way to use Instagram to drive bookings and the do’s and don’ts of working with influencers. She also reveals how to ensure your social media adverts are working successfully.

Meanwhile, Move Digital founder and managing director Geraint John reveals why voice activation is so important, what it can do for your business, where to start and how to build your voice strategy before you launch a new way to reach your customers that will leave your competitors behind. The full video collection is £295 plus VAT.

To order, call Anne Steele on 01444 817691 or email

Friday Wrap with Will Beckett

The Propel Friday Wrap:

Featuring Mark Stretton, Mark Wingett and Will Beckett

CLICK HERE to view

Dusk 'til Dawn 2020 Webinar Heading

Dusk 'til Dawn 2020 Webinar

Dusk ’til Dawn webinar in conjunction with UKHospitality

Mark Wingett talks to UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls, Deltic Group chief executive Peter Marks, Revolution Bars Group chief executive Rob Pitcher, and The Piano Works operations director Tristan Moffat

CLICK HERE to view

Propel Premium Club

Propel Premium Club annual subscription operator subscription costs £395 plus VAT and a supplier subscription costs £495 plus VAT
Benefits include:
  • A pair of free tickets to an event of your choice
  • Regular exclusive videos
  • Access to the Propel database of 1,600 multi-site companies, updated twice a year
  • Read Propel insight editor Mark Wingett’s weekly analysis column and City
  • Diary Discounts to attend other events
  • Plus insight from leading sector commentators from the UK and internationally

CONTACT: Anne Steele on