Story of the Day:
GDK signs franchise deals to launch more than 100 sites in Saudi Arabia and the US
German Doner Kebab (GDK) has signed a franchise deal to open 100 stores in Saudi Arabia in the next ten years, while it has also struck a separate partnership to launch stores in the US. The Saudi development agreement sees Ajlan & Bros Group, which has estimated assets of $2.9bn, become master franchisees in the kingdom. Ajlan & Bros Group has secured its first property and will open its debut GDK site, in Riyadh, during the first quarter of this year. Ajlan & Bros Group has interests in retail, manufacturing, real estate, tourism and transport, with brands in its Saudi portfolio including Hugo Boss, Puma, Nike, Adidas and Reebok. GDK has also teamed up with Texas-based businessman Tanweer Ahmed, who operates 153 sites for KFC, 58 for Pizza Hut and 24 for Mexican restaurant brand Taco Bell in the US. Ahmed has signed up to open an initial 12 GDK branches in Houston, Dallas and Las Vegas, which will be rolled out during the next two years. He also intends to expand the brand further across Texas and Nevada. GDK global chief executive Imran Sayeed (pictured) said: “We are forging partnerships with some of the biggest players in the global food franchise sector and currently have between 30 and 40 units under development in six countries.” In the UK the group has opened 33 sites in two years, with a store slated to open every fortnight during 2019. Sayeed said: “We have an aggressive pipeline for the UK, with more than 350 units already sold. Internationally, we expect to grow just as quickly.” GDK also operates stores in Bahrain, Dubai, Oman, Sweden and United Arab Emirates, with sites also planned for Canada.
Flat Iron Square founder to launch eating, drinking and arts space in London Bridge
Flat Iron Square founder Benj Scrimgeour is to launch an eating, drinking and arts space in London Bridge next month. Vinegar Yard will open in St Thomas Street on Wednesday, 3 April offering street food traders, bars, pop-up shops, art installations and large indoor and outdoor spaces with seating for hundreds of people. Open seven days a week from “super early until late”, the rotating food line-up will include My Million Pound Menu winners Baba G’s, which accepted a £300,000 investment offer from Atul Kochhar on the BBC show and operates at Pop Brixton and Camden Market. Vinegar Yard will also see The Gentlemen Baristas open its eighth coffee shop in the capital, joined by Argentinian-inspired steak and chimichurri brand Up In My Grill, which operates at three Street Feast sites (two seasonal), and gravy-dipped burger concept Nanny Bill’s, which operates residencies in Dalton and Boxpark Wembley. Other confirmed traders are Sugo (Italian ciabattas) and Borough Market fruit and vegetable brand Turnips. There will also be an open-air bar offering draught beer and a rotating tap for London craft brewers. The site will feature artwork by Joe Rush, known for his scrap metal sculptures at Glastonbury Festival. Vinegar Yard will also host a vintage flea market at weekends. Scrimgeour launched Flat Iron Square in Bankside in 2016 after taking over seven London Bridge railway arches and grade II-listed Devonshire House. Flat Iron Square features 16 traders and an outdoor stage.
Creditors of Giraffe Concepts, the operator of the Ed’s Easy Diner and Giraffe restaurant brands, have approved its proposed company voluntary arrangement (CVA). Will Wright, restructuring partner at KPMG and joint supervisor of the CVA, said: “This is a critical step forward for the business, allowing Giraffe Concepts to complete its financial restructuring plan and embark on a comprehensive operational transformation programme.” Paul Berkovi, director at KPMG, added: “The vote saw a significant majority of all voting creditors choosing to approve the CVA, surpassing the 75% total required in order to pass the resolution.” It comes after Propel exclusively revealed earlier this month Ed’s Easy Diner and Giraffe, which are owned by Boparan Restaurant Group, would undergo a restructure. The CVA document put together by KPMG revealed Ed’s Easy Diner and Giraffe have been experiencing a consistent decline in profitability and management forecasts indicated Giraffe Concepts would be unable to trade within the limits of its banking facilities after this month’s rent quarter date without significant new investment. The CVA document put together by KMPG stated: “While from FY17 to FY18 there was a significant improvement in the level of like-for-like sales decline in both the Giraffe and Ed’s Easy Diner brands, despite continued investment from the shareholder, the business has been experiencing a consistent decline in profitability. Based on historic trends, this Ebitda trajectory will continue if further investment is not made in the core estate and this will, in turn, put further downward pressure on the business and result in the company continuing to have insufficient funds to continue to trade beyond 25 March 2019 without further debt or equity funding.” The document showed for the FY17 the two brands generated turnover of £67.1m, but a negative Ebitda of circa £3m. For FY18, turnover is set to have declined to £61.7m, while negative Ebitda is set to be circa £3.63m. The company said it would close 27 of the brands’ 87 restaurants under the proposed agreement with landlords, whilst rent reductions were being sought on a further 13 sites. It has obtained £6.5m of additional funding from a related undertaking of Boparan Group, Amber REI Holdings (AREIL), which was subject to obtaining the compromises and arrangements set out in the CVA proposal. AREIL has, to date, provided approximately £27m of unsecured funding to cover initial acquisition costs, trading losses and capex requirements. The CVA document stated without this funding, the company would have been unable to make critical payments and to continue to trade as a going concern.
East Anglia Pub Co has acquired its sixth site, the Ship Hotel in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex. Director Paul Barthaud said: “We are proud to be new custodians of the Ship and look forward to reopening the hotel in all its glory in early 2020.” Chris Rogers, of Everard Cole, which brokered the deal, added: “The Ship is a great site and a number of attractive offers were received. It is an excellent addition to East Anglia Pub Co’s portfolio. We look forward to seeing the transformation next year.” East Anglia Pub Co also operates The Peterboat and The Bellhouse in Leigh-on-Sea. Its other pubs, all in Essex, are The Hamlet Court and The Trading Room in Westcliff-on-Sea, and The Exchange in Southend. Its website states: “The East Anglia Pub Company is a family run business benefiting from more than 100 years’ experience and roots that originate in the East End of London. Our traditional pubs are based on friendship, community and family values.”
Renowned restaurateur Giuliano Lotto is to launch his first London restaurant for seven years. Italian restaurant Latteria will open in Essex Road, Islington, later this month at a site formerly occupied by Tuscan deli concept Food Lab. Latteria’s website states: “Latteria is a cafe, restaurant and bar that draws inspiration from the pasticceria, panino shops and pizzerias in Milan. Open for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and aperitivo, everything from the morning pastries to pizza dough and hand-rolled fresh pasta is made in-house, with ingredients sourced from Italy.” Latteria, which means “dairy” in Italian, will join Lotto’s Il Baretto restaurant, which opened in Marylebone in 2008. He also opened Banca in Mayfair in 2012, which has since closed, while his portfolio also included La Petite Maison, which he launched in Mayfair with Peter and Arjun Waney. Lotto gave several world-famous chefs their start in the restaurant world, including Marcus Wareing, Gordon Ramsay and Giorgio Locatelli.
Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has launched a hot-desking initiative at six of its sites. The DeskDog spaces are available at its Brixton, Paddington and Shoreditch venues in London as well as Lothian Road in Edinburgh, Norwich and Sheffield. Remote workers can pay £7 for access to Wi-Fi, unlimited coffee and a pint of Punk IPA. DeskDog is the latest “bar experience” initiative from BrewDog. Earlier this month it launched Local Tap, which sees the company dedicate two taps in each of its 43 UK bars to beer exclusively brewed by local breweries.
SSP Group, the UK-based transport hub foodservice specialist, is expanding its partnership with DB Station & Service in Germany after signing more than 60 new leases and extending existing contracts with the company. SSP Germany currently has 130 contracts in place with DB Station & Service, a subsidiary of Germany’s national railway company Deutsche Bahn. The latest deal will see SSP Germany invest heavily to expand its multi-brand portfolio, with activity at key locations such as Frankfurt, Hamburg, Hannover and Cologne. This will be complemented by new franchise brands from the quick-service sector and exclusive flagship projects with renowned television chefs. Under the new deal, SSP Germany has also signed a franchise agreement for ServiceStore DB – DB Station & Service’s convenience store concept. Jan Kamp, director of business development and properties for the SSP DACH region, said: “We are delighted our long-standing partner DB Station & Service values our brand portfolio and that our retail expertise will help to drive the ServiceStore DB convenience store concept forward.” Horst Mutsch, head of business development leasing at DB Station & Service, added: “We are about to embark on another chapter in our co-operation with SSP. Brand expertise and operational know-how make SSP just the right partner for our attractive stations.”
Crazy golf operator Junkyard Golf has appointed advisors to review options for its next stage of growth, which could include a sale of the five-strong business, Propel has learned. It is understood the company, which was initially launched by Chris Legh, Bart Murphy, Lyndon Higginson and Mat Lakes as a pop-up in Manchester in 2015, has appointed Clearwater International to aid in the process. It is thought Junkyard Golf is set to post full-year turnover of circa £12m to the end of March from its four mature sites. The four directors remain sole owners and have so far funded the growth themselves. It is thought Lakes plans to stay on with the business but the other three could sell the majority of their stakes, which would make the company attractive to private equity, especially in a part of the market – competitive socialising – that is currently in growth. Junkyard Golf operates five sites – in London (Old Truman Brewery, Brick Lane), Manchester (First Street), Oxford (Westgate Shopping Centre), Liverpool (Liverpool ONE) and Leeds (The Light). Its most recent opening was a 17,000 square foot site in Liverpool ONE, which features three nine-hole courses with unusual designs – Pablo, a “polluted paradise”; Gary, a “scrapyard disco”; and Bozo, a “dystopian fairground”. All courses include unusual props constructed from reclaimed and reworked items. The venue also has four bars dotted around the golf courses offering cocktails such as Post Melone and Hotline Ting. The main bunker offers fairground treats, including hotdogs and nachos. The company, which has previously spoken about launching three sites a year to have ten operating by the end of 2020, has lined up an opening at 88 Worship Street in the Broadgate Quarter development, Hackney. This will see the group move out of its Old Truman Brewery site into a unit with a longer-term lease. Rival competitive socialising concepts Swingers and Flight Club both recently secured private equity backing.
The UK hotel market has seen a significant slowdown in revpar after falling 0.9% in February compared with growth of 1.4% in January and 5.8% in December, according to Morgan Stanley’s latest Global Hotel Revpar Tracker. Occupancy fell 0.2% in February compared with 0.1% growth in January, while room rates declined 0.6% versus a 1.4% increase in January. In London, revpar grew 1.8% in February compared with 5.5% in January and 11.6% in December, with occupancy growth of 0.6% and room rate growth of 1.2%. Regional revpar fell 2.7% in February versus a 1.8% fall in January and 0.4% growth in December, with a decline in occupancy of 0.5% and a 2.2% decline in room rates. The midscale and economy segment, in which Whitbread’s Premier Inn operates, saw revpar fall 2.9% in February compared with a 1.3% drop in January and growth of 1.6% in December, with 0.7% occupancy growth offset by a 3.6% decline in room rates. European revpar growth weakened in February with growth of 2.2%, compared with 4.4% the previous year. The revpar increase was driven by room rate growth of 1.7% (2.7% in January), while occupancy grew 0.4% (the same as January). The US saw revpar growth slow to 2.6% from its 2.8% increase in February last year, while revpar growth weakened significantly in the Asia-Pacific region with an increase of 1.4% in February, down from 3.2% the year before.
Online beer distributor EeBria has returned to crowdfunding platform Seedrs in a bid to raise £200,000 to expand internationally. The company, founded by David and Rachael Jackson and whose customers include BrewDog and Innis & Gunn, is running a convertible share equity campaign with a 20% discount. The pitch states: “We operate a unique market place model where beer, cider and other drinks are listed on the EeBriaTrade site by the producers who make them. They set the prices, control the imagery and descriptions, and manage the stock levels. When products sell, we use our nationwide network of fulfilment partners to collect the order from the producer and deliver it directly the next working day to the pub, bar, shop or restaurant. We have more than 500 producers actively listed on the platform and more than 3,500 active products at any one time. To our knowledge this is considerably more than any competitor using a more traditional warehouse approach. The proceeds would primarily be used to launch our international platforms. This is a combination of staff costs – new country managers and operations staff and significant growth of our in-house technology team to ensure the platform builds are completed quickly – while also continuing development of the platform and new features. We intend to increase headcount by ten over a couple of months. The proceeds will also be required to cover initial losses for the international platforms, with marketing spend as well as subsidies on early cross-border shipments while sales volumes are building to a critical mass.” In 2017, EeBria raised £750,000 on Crowdcube to support its growth having previously raised £288,000 on Seedrs in 2015.
Numis leisure analyst Tim Barrett has said The Restaurant Group is an “attractive buying opportunity” with the company back in profit growth in the second half of its 2018 financial year. Issuing a ‘Buy’ note on the shares with a target price of 225p, Barrett said: “Growth in the second half of 2018 in profit before tax marks an important turning point. While The Restaurant Group’s profit before tax fell by circa £5m (7%) in FY18, that masked an important distinction between the 20% decline in the first half (minus £5.4m) and stability in the second half (up £0.5m, removing the £0.5m contribution from Wagamama). The like-for-like profile during this period was volatile but, for the second half as a whole, we estimate group like-for-likes were down 0.3% as the early part of the period was affected by the Fifa World Cup and abnormal weather. This is evidence that measures taken to offset cost inflation and restructure the leisure estate are starting to produce positive results and lacklustre sales growth has been no impediment to stabilising profits. The pubs and concessions businesses continue to operate in attractive growth markets and, in the case of the former, enjoy freehold asset backing (£148m). Acquiring Wagamama has diversified the business into a high-growth segment – in the three months to end of January, Wagamama grew like-for-likes 9.1% and Ebitda 19%. In aggregate, the three growth businesses account for more than 70% of outlet Ebitda, implying only £59m for the leisure division. We acknowledge this is only a source of advantage if the earnings in the structurally challenged leisure business can be stabilised with obsolete sites exited over time. The signs here are encouraging – 41% of the leisure estate has a lease end within five years, implying it will be able to continue to scale back this division and could exit 20 to 30 sites per annum. The market will need reassurance a new chief executive will be able to execute on the ambitious business case underpinning the acquisition. This is mostly based on self-help such as synergies (£15m), 16 site conversions, and expansion into delivery kitchens and grab-and-go formats. We are reassured Allan Leighton will become senior non-executive director at The Restaurant Group as he has been involved with Wagamama for four years (becoming chairman in 2015) and should offer welcome continuity and insight. The Restaurant Group’s share price is down 15% during the past three months and 43% below the level prior to the announcement of the acquisition of Wagamama in October. The £300m reduction in value since that time is equivalent to a 3.4 times Ebitda de-rating on the legacy TRG business and creates an attractive buying opportunity in our view.”
Barbecue food author and chef Christian Stevenson, aka DJ BBQ, is to launch a campaign on crowdfunding platform Kickstarter to turn a Suffolk bakery and cafe into his debut restaurant. Stevenson has partnered with David Wright, of Fire Station Café and the adjacent Cake Shop Bakery in Woodbridge, to turn the site into an all-day restaurant and cafe celebrating food cooked with fire. The venue will combine bread, coffee and wood-fired pizza with Stevenson’s burgers and barbecue dishes. The £75,000 campaign will launch on Thursday, 4 April on the day Stevenson publishes his third book. Stevenson is a live fire chef and pit master and has fronted shows for MTV, Channel 4 and Channel 5. His YouTube channel has 175,000 followers. He said: “This is an incredible opportunity for me to team up with David, who in my opinion is the best baker in the world. Combining his skill set with my knowledge of meat and fat gives us an unbeatable offer! I’ve been coming to Suffolk for five years to host Jimmy’s Festival and, staying with Jimmy Doherty and his family, I’ve come to love the area.” The Cake Shop Bakery was opened by Wright’s grandparents in 1946. Wright said: “Making the most of what we have and showing there is life in an established business is what we’ve done for more than 70 years. Now we must adapt, take some risks and go all in so the business is still going for my grandchildren to enjoy.”
Ei Group has signed the Diversity in Hospitality, Travel and Leisure Charter, part of the Women in Hospitality, Travel and Leisure 2020 (WiH2020) campaign. The charter asks companies to commit to ten action points and encourages firms to set their own objectives and priorities within the field of diversity and inclusion while sharing best practice, collaborating on joint initiatives and participating in industry-wide surveys and projects. Ei Group chief executive Simon Townsend said: “We are determined to make a meaningful contribution to improving diversity and inclusion, not just within our business but across the wider hospitality industry.” WiH2020 founder Tea Colaianni added: “Ei Group has joined a group of pioneer companies determined to make a difference for the good of the sector as a whole.” Read more about the ten charter action points at www.wih2020.com
Marston’s scooped two accolades at the Menu Innovation & Development Awards (MIDAS). The company won best neighbourhood pub menu for its Village format, which is available across 48 pubs, while head of food category management Nicola Arrow became Marston’s first female winner of the head of food industry award. The accolade celebrates individual performance and experience in developing creative menus. Claire Yates, assistant menu development manager for Village, said: “This award is an amazing achievement to everyone who has been involved with Village – from the team at head office that creates and develops the offer to the operators who bring the menu alive in their pubs.”
YO! Sushi, the Mayfair Equity Partners-backed group, has placed a package of six UK sites on the market as it looks to consolidate its restaurant estate and further pivot towards becoming a multi-channel, multi-platform business. Propel has learned the Richard Hodgson-led group has appointed property advisor GCW to market its sites in Aberdeen Bon Accord, Bath, Chelmsford, Glasgow Fort, Oxford and in the Whiteley Shopping Centre, Hampshire. The company, which operates circa 70 sites in the UK, has already closed the sites in Aberdeen, Bath and Oxford. During the past 18 months the company has moved to diversify its business model by acquiring Bento Sushi, one of the largest sushi brands in North America, and leading wholesaler Taiko to meet growing demand for sushi via restaurants, kiosks and supermarkets. A YO! Sushi spokesman said: “As is normal with a large and established brand, we continually review our estate to make sure we have the best proposition in the right site and right location. In line with the wider company strategy to focus on building a multi-brand, multi-platform business, we have decided to consolidate parts of the current restaurant estate, including these six restaurants.” Late last year, YO! agreed a deal with Tesco to pilot YO! To Go counters at two UK stores. The first two trial sites are in the Sunbury Extra store in Surrey and the Bournemouth Extra store.
Ten Entertainment Group chief executive Duncan Garrood has told Propel he is looking to improve his company’s food and beverage offer by tailoring it to each site’s location. Food and drink makes up more than one-quarter (26%) of the company’s sales and Garrood, who joined from Bill’s in December, wants to change the current “national” approach with a more “local feel” to resonate with customers. His plans include introducing products such as Tennent’s lager to its Scottish sites and a wider range of cider in the West Country. He added: “Our food and beverage offer is standardised and I’m looking to change that. We don’t have a proper range of Asian flavours, halal or vegan options so there are opportunities around that as well. We’re not trying to turn into a restaurant business – that’s not why people come to us – but they do expect an offer that’s good value for money.” The company is also trialling escape rooms at its Southampton sites and a technology-based darts game at its Star City site in Birmingham that features an automated scoring system. Garrood said it was part of a strategy to establish what he called “department stores of entertainment” but he said bowling and the associated food and beverage offer would remain anchor parts of the business. He added: “We have what I call a third space we can change according to trends and give people another reason to visit our centres. We’re excited about these trials and will continue to monitor their progress this year. Ten Entertainment Group has also launched a bowling format – Hyperbowl – at Star City, aimed at families. It is based around an interactive bumper system where lights on the bumpers create moving targets that players aim to hit or avoid before hitting the pins. The score is multiplied depending on the colour a bowler hits. It is designed on the principle it “plays like a video game on a bowling lane”. Garrood said: “There hasn’t really been innovation in bowling since Fred Flintstone went! I liken it to Twenty20 cricket in that it’s played on the same pitch with the same number of players but with different rules. Hyperbowl is great for families because the bumpers level out the skillset and I think it will attract a whole new audience to our centres.”
The Restaurant Group (TRG) Concessions has partnered with Giraffe founder Russel Joffe to launch casual dining concept Sonoma. The table service concept, based on the “relaxed, fun and vibrant” dining style of California’s premier wine region, will open in Gatwick airport’s North Terminal in time for the Easter holidays. It is designed to “meet the demands of modern airport travellers” through its menu, internal design and technology with “pay at table” capabilities, a click-and-collect partnership, and digital menu and foodservice time displays at the entrance. The 6,500 square foot space will have 300 covers in the restaurant as well as a dedicated bar with wine on tap and a selection of craft beer and spirits. It will also feature an open kitchen. Sonoma represents a large investment from TRG Concessions, amounting to close to £3m, and is expected to serve more than one million passengers a year, replacing both the Garfunkel’s and Armadillo restaurants. Nick Ayerst, managing director of TRG Concessions, said: “We are delighted to have retained this restaurant space within Gatwick North Terminal and excited to introduce this fresh new concept to Gatwick’s passengers. It has been a fantastic development process and collaboration with such a skilled and experienced restaurateur as Russel Joffe. Sonoma will bring a unique family dining offer to North Terminal, catering to different dietary requirements and bringing together current food and drink trends as well as offering the favourites we know are well loved in this space. Joffe added: “I am delighted to work with TRG Concessions again in bringing a new and fresh all-day dining concept to North Terminal. Having operated airport restaurants with TRG for more than 15 years, I understand the needs of business and leisure travellers and Sonoma will deliver high quality and great value dishes in a unique environment.” Rachel Bulford, head of retail at Gatwick, said: “North Terminal is going through a significant period of transition and the opening of Sonoma is an exciting milestone in that development. It has been great working with TRG on bringing this innovative restaurant concept to life. We have an impressive array of food and beverage outlets in place at Gatwick but Sonoma succeeds in offering something new for our passengers.”
Leeds-based Authentic Alehouses, which entered administration earlier this month, has brought its portfolio of seven freehold pubs to market. The pubs, located across north east and north west England, have been put up for sale by joint administrators Simon Bonney and Michael Kielyon, of Quantuma. The pubs are The Albert Hotel in Hull, the Countess of Rosse in Shipley, the Crown Inn in Addingham, The Fountain Inn (pictured) in Barnoldswick, The Ponty Tavern in Pontefract, The Red Lion in Driffield, and The Wakey Tavern in Wakefield. The Red Lion, The Wakey Tavern and the Crown are currently closed for refurbishment, while the others are trading. Neil Morgan, managing director – pubs and restaurants at Christie & Co, which is handling the sale, said: “We expect to receive strong interest from a range of buyers, including regional operators looking to strengthen their portfolio or investors looking to create a presence in the north.” Offers are invited for the freehold interest of the portfolio, with offers for sub-groups or individual pubs also considered. The deadline for all bids is midday on Monday, 15 April. The Allan Harper-led pub group entered administration despite raising £6.4m in peer-to-peer loans via Crowdstacker. Harper also led Burning Night Group, which went into administration in October after raising £7.5m on the same platform. On Christmas Eve, Burning Night Group was bought out of administration by a special purpose vehicle created by turnaround specialist Access Commercial Finance, which was a secured creditor of Burning Night Group. The deal saved more than 300 jobs.
Starbucks has chosen London to trial new cups that can be recycled or composted as part of a pilot in several global markets. The move was announced at Starbucks’ annual general meeting in which chief executive Kevin Johnson set out his vision to build an “enduring company”. Starbucks customers in New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Vancouver and London will test a number of cups, both recyclable and compostable, which will be produced by the NextGen Cup Challenge winners announced earlier this month. As well as the greener cups, Starbucks will roll out recyclable strawless lids in the US and Canada. Starbucks has also unveiled a feature for its app that shows its coffee’s journey from bean to cup. Johnson said: “We are reimagining the future for Starbucks, and the more than 30,000 communities we serve each day, with a great sense of responsibility for a more sustainable planet.” Johnson also announced the company would invest $100m in Valor Siren Ventures, a new venture fund led by private equity firm Valor Equity Partners. The fund will serve as an incubator for the next generation of food and retail technology startups, while Starbucks will seek to raise an additional $300m from other investors and key partners in the coming months. This is the first time Starbucks has made this type of investment as it aims to support new ideas in food technology and retail products and explores commercial partnerships with retail startup companies.
Mosaic Pub and Dining is to launch a darts bar in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter. The Mosaic companies, led by James Watson and Peter McDonald, will open 180 Club in St Paul’s Square next month. It will house six oches, including a private room, and be able to host 14 players per oche. The launch follows the group’s acquisition of The Rectory last September alongside two other Birmingham pubs for a total of £1.3m. Aiming to attract a new demographic to darts, 180 Club will also offer sharer cocktails and New York-style snacks. McDonald told The Business Desk: “This is a new concept for Birmingham as well as Mosaic Pub and Dining but we know this underground darts experience will work and we’re proud Birmingham is going to be our pioneer city. Since our acquisition of three pubs last summer we now have six sites in the city, all of them thriving, so it was a no-brainer to choose Birmingham as the location for the first 180 Club. The concept is simple. We’re making darts cool, bringing the fast-paced competitive nature of the sport into the 21st century and giving consumers a great experience. The experiential bar scene is becoming increasingly important and this is the next step in our dedication to giving Mosaic Pub and Dining venues a point of difference.” The Rectory (pictured) adds to Mosaic Pub and Dining’s other venues in the city – The Button Factory, The Distillery, Frederick Street Townhouse, Queens Arms, and The Florence. Last month, Mosaic Pub and Dining added three London sites to its portfolio, taking its total to 24.
Brunning & Price, The Restaurant Group (TRG)-owned pub business, has secured three sites for its 2019 openings pipeline, including the former Cafe Rouge near Kew Bridge. The company, which opened 21 sites in 2018 including the acquisition of Ribble Valley Inns and Food & Fuel, will open the Plough & Harrow in the Malvern Hills and The Roe Deer near Kidderminster this summer. At the same time, the business is understood to have acquired the former Cafe Rouge at Strand-On-The-Green, Chiswick. It is thought this site might eventually come under the Food & Fuel banner. At its full-year trading update last week, TRG said its six single-site Brunning & Price acquisitions were trading well and it expects at least seven openings for 2019. It stated: “We have now refurbished three of the Ribble Valley sites and these are delivering a sales uplift in excess of 30% post refurbishment. The Food & Fuel sites are trading in line with expectations and plans are in place to further develop these propositions through 2019.” The company’s pubs business has a freehold asset base in excess of £90m.
Pub and restaurant operator Cambscuisine, led by Oliver Thain and Max Freeman, is launching a concept that operates as a sandwich shop during the day and a bar in the evening, Propel has learned. The company will open the venture in a former hairdresser’s next to its Smokeworks site in Bene’t Street. Cambscuisine is investing £300,000 in the vacant unit. The basement will be converted into additional restaurant space that will be accessed via the existing premises, adding an additional 20 covers. The ground floor will house the new concept, which will launch next month. It will have 24 covers and serve wraps and coffee during the day before turning into a bar offering beer and cocktails. Thain told Propel: “The existing restaurant is very busy and we were turning people away so we decided to add some extra space – but then we had this empty area above and decided to develop it into a sandwich shop and bar. It’s a new concept for us and will allow us to take advantage of the lunchtime trade. Bene’t Street is one of the key thoroughfares so it should be busy. We think it could add an extra £550,000 net to the business without needing to add a general manager or kitchen. We’ll further improve our coffee, cocktails and keg beer to bring some other skills and products into the business.” Thain said if the wraps prove a success he would look to add them as a menu item at other sites. Cambscuisine’s portfolio consists of two Smokeworks, two Chop Houses, modern brasserie Millworks and four country pub restaurants. Last year, the company raised £750,000 on online investing website SyndicateRoom for expansion.
BrewBroker, an online market place for the global brewing industry, is set to launch its platform in the US. BrewBroker, which currently works with 400-plus traders in Britain and Europe, will begin rolling out its transatlantic platform from April. Kicking off the launch at the Craft Brewers Conference in Denver, BrewBroker will become one of the first of its kind to provide solutions to the US and UK brewing markets on such a large scale. The business will also look to provide in-country solutions for the US brewing industry in the coming months. BrewBroker’s aim is to enable businesses to search, sell and buy brewing services from each other. The company is set to invest more than £400,000 in the platform’s functionality, with the addition of multiple languages, new currencies and even tax calculations. Co-founder and chief executive Daniel Rowntree (pictured on left) said: “We are so excited to launch in America and can’t wait to show people how powerful our platform is. We have aspired to be able to facilitate transatlantic brewing and our most recent investment is a bold step towards making that dream a reality. America is widely considered the home of craft beer so it’s great to be taking our platform to the roots of our sector.” Ben Morgan-Smith (pictured on right), chief technical officer and co-founder, added: “From inception, BrewBroker has always aimed to make its platform international. We are keen to further support our global buyers and suppliers with functionality designed around their needs.”
Tortilla, the Quilvest-backed restaurant group, has secured a site in Southwark for its “Baby” concept. The company will open the venue in The Cut, opposite Southwark tube station. The unit spans 1,100 square feet across basement and ground floor, with space for 32 covers. The first Baby venue opened in Putney in November 2017. Tortilla, which has 36 sites and is led by Richard Morris (pictured), recently reported record sales in 2018, with like-for-likes up 6%. Property director Rob Lucy said: “2018 was a good year for Tortilla and we are excited to continue this momentum with a number of openings in 2019.” Tortilla has started planning its next stage of growth by appointing advisors to help set a roadmap for the business in the next 12 to 18 months, which could lead to a sale. The company, which Quilvest has backed since 2012, has started working with advisors at Spayne Lindsay to determine the best strategy for its long-term future. It is understood discussions on those options are at an early stage and talk of an imminent sales process are wide of the mark. The company expects to open six sites in 2019. Shelley Sandzer acted for Tortilla on the latest Southwark deal and recently concluded rent reviews for Tortilla at its sites in Westfield Stratford, Islington, Bankside, Brighton and Canary Wharf. It is also instructed at various locations across the capital, including Clapham, Camden and Market Place.
Aparthotel operator Staycity will open its first resort-style property, in August. Staycity Aparthotels Paris, Marne-la-Vallée will comprise 284 apartments, 22 holiday villas, an outdoor swimming pool, cafe, restaurant and gardens. The new-build property will offer studio and one-bed apartments as well as 12 four-bed villas and ten five-bed villas. The venue, the company’s second in the Paris area, is a ten-minute drive from Disneyland Paris and will offer a free shuttle bus to the attraction. Staycity chief executive and co-founder Tom Walsh said: “Marne-la-Vallée will particularly appeal to leisure guests and the villas will be popular with families or groups of friends, although our guest profile is still expected to be 20% to 30% corporate business.” Staycity, which has 7,000 apartments operational and in the pipeline across Europe, will open properties in Berlin, Venice, Edinburgh and Manchester this year. Staycity operates under the Staycity Aparthotels brand and its premium Wilde Aparthotels by Staycity brand. The group’s growth target is to reach 15,000 apartments by the end of 2023.
Nominations are now open for the 2019 Operations Managers Awards. The awards, now in their 24th year, recognise the skill, professionalism and flair the best operations managers bring to licensed retail businesses. Nominations are open to area managers working in managed outlets and business development managers working in leased or tenanted outlets. Awards founder Nick Bish said: “Operations managers are essential to the successful running of venues and they need to be dynamic, responsive and intuitive. The awards celebrate the valuable work they do and the unique role they play.” Nominations can be made at www.opsawards.org.uk and close on Friday, 31 May. Up to 20 finalists will proceed to a three-day masterclass in July before panel interviews in October. The winners will be announced at a gala event later in the year.
Industry-led charity Only A Pavement Away (OAPA) has called for sector support for two new campaigns to help the homeless. Summer Sips will provide every rough sleeper with a bottle of water every night for 12 weeks during the summer. The bottles will carry the OAPA logo to raise awareness of the charity. For the other campaign, Winter Warmers, OAPA is asking companies to donate sleeping bags, blankets and good-quality coats that will be distributed to homeless charities around the country during winter. The campaigns were unveiled at the inaugural OAPA conference, which took place in Covent Garden’s H Club this week. More than 150 people attended representing charities and organisations associated with the homeless, vulnerable veterans, ex-offenders and disenfranchised youngsters, as well as hospitality businesses and leaders. Brewpub group Brewhouse & Kitchen; PubLove, the London-based pub company that houses backpacker hostels and serves its own “burger craft” food; and London pub retailer Young’s were among companies that described the success they have had recruiting employees though OAPA. The charity was founded by Greg Mangham (pictured speaking) last year to help the homeless, former offenders and ex-service personnel find employment in the hospitality industry.
Wildwood operator Tasty has said it does not intend to open any restaurants in 2019 as it continues to focus on restructuring the business and improving profitability from the existing portfolio. It comes as the company announced its preliminary results for the year ending 30 December 2018. Revenue was down 6% to £47.28m, compared with £50.31m the year before due to site closures and like-for-like sales decline. Adjusted Ebitda dropped to £1.58m, compared with £3m the previous year. The company sold three restaurants and closed one in 2018. Post year-end, the company sold one site and assigned two. One further site has been exchanged and is waiting for completion. The group currently operates 58 restaurants, comprising six Dim t and 52 Wildwood sites. The company said market conditions have been increasingly challenging through 2018 and the board’s expectation was there would be no significant improvement in 2019. The group gave a rundown of sites it has disposed of as follows: Canary Wharf Wildwood – lease for the property was assigned on 5 January 2018 for a premium receivable by the group of £1.45m. Abingdon Wildwood Kitchen – a surrender of the lease was agreed on 14 January 2018. Barnes Wildwood Kitchen – the lease was assigned at £nil value to the group; Gloucester Road Wildwood – on 8 March 2018 the unit was sold as a going concern for £2.7m. Highgate Centuno –closed in May 2018 and the company is looking to dispose. Cobham Wildwood – on 8 January 2019 this unit was sold as a going concern for a consideration of £0.35m to the landlord of the site. South Woodford Wildwood – On 31 January 2019 this was assigned for a total consideration of £0.15m. Tunbridge Wells – this site was previously sub-let to CAU and a new tenant from 6 March 2019 for a consideration of £0.05m. The group said it continues to review the estate and will make further disposals in 2019 if appropriate. Chairman Keith Lassman said: “As highlighted previously, the market conditions for 2018 continued to remain extremely challenging. In addition, unfavourable weather conditions and the World Cup impacted 2018 performance. The exceptionally cold and snowy winter supressed sales. Trading over the Christmas period was positive, though the uncertainty of Brexit has meant that 2019 has started slowly. 2018 has been a transitional year for Tasty. In line with the agreed strategy, three restaurants were sold, one closed and no new restaurants were opened in 2018. There are a number of sites that the group is still planning to dispose of and at present the board has no plans to open any new sites in 2019. Despite the fall in financial performance experienced in 2018 the group remains cash generative. We have undertaken a full review of our food offering and customer journey and we continue to take steps to ensure our menu remains relevant and we are able to differentiate ourselves from the competition in the sector. The directors believe that the group’s brands remain attractive to customers and the group has the right strategic plan in place to ensure future growth.”
The Ivy Collection has appointed Jonathan Peters as chief financial officer. Peters joins from Everyman Media Group, where he has been chief financial officer for the past four years. Ivy Collection chief executive David Campbell said: “Richard Caring and I look forward to welcoming Jonathan to the executive team at The Ivy Collection. Jonathan is a very commercial chief financial officer, with extensive international experience, and at Everyman has shown a well proven ability to help drive both top and bottom-line results in a multi-site environment. All of The Ivy Collection is trading well, and we have further openings planned for June in Glasgow and September in Oxford, and an ever-growing number of potential sites, which we hope to progress with very soon.” Peters will remain with Everyman until Friday, 14 June “to ensure an orderly handover of his role and responsibilities”. Everyman has begun the process to identify a successor and said a further announcement would be made in due course. Chairman Paul Wise said: “The board would like to express its thanks to Jonathan for his valuable contribution to the group over the past four years and wish him every success in his future endeavours.”
Leeds-based investment firm YFM Equity Partners is in talks to back Tonkotsu, the Emma Reynolds and Ken Yamada-founded ramen concept, Propel has learned. It is understood YFM, which also backs Friska, Bagel Nash and leisure brand Go Outdoors, is in advanced talks to take a stake in ten-strong Tonkotsu and back its ongoing expansion. Tonkotsu, which is led by Stephen Evans, former development director of Gourmet Burger Kitchen, appointed advisers in October as it looked to secure new investment to fund its next stage of growth. The group appointed Grant Thornton and Dow Schofield Watts to oversee the funding process. London-based Tonkotsu, which was founded by Reynolds and Yamada in Soho in 2012, is believed to have generated full-year turnover close to £7m. The business opened its latest site, at Dicken’s Yard, Ealing, in November. Tonkotsu also operates two concessions at Selfridges in Birmingham and London’s Oxford Street. It is thought to be close to opening a further site in Peckham, while a further opening for this year has been mooted for Shoreditch. YFM acquired a minority stake in healthy eating brand Friska for £3m in summer 2017 to support its expansion plans.
Music licensing company PPL’s new specially featured entertainment (SFE) tariff, which comes into effect on 1 July, could be the final straw for the UK’s hard-pressed music venues, trade bodies have said. UKHospitality said the new tariff, which relates to playing recorded music in public at nightclubs, pubs, bars, cafes, restaurants and hotels, could cost the sector £49m. The new tariff follows a three-month consultation and will include changes such as the fee increasing in direct proportion to the size of the audience (measured in bands of 25 people); and two new, smaller tariff bands for SFE events with attendances of one to 25 and 26 to 50 people. There will be a phased introduction of increased fees during a five-year period from July based on an initial rate of 4p per person per hour (a rise of 0.1p from the current rate). This would move to 9p per person per hour by 2023, subject to annual indexation. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls (pictured) said: “This new tax will see venues hit with an average 130% increase, which we estimate will cost the hospitality sector upwards of £49m. Music plays an enormous role in our lives culturally and socially as well as economically, but extra fees such as PPL’s will only wring the last life out of venues. UKHospitality has been in discussions with PPL and repeatedly highlighted the problems this new tariff would lead to. We had some success in avoiding proposed structural changes but it is disappointing to see them ignore our warnings and push ahead with a hike.” Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: “We are extremely disappointed by PPL’s decision to raise the tariff on the SFE licence by 130% on average. For the past 18 months we have been in discussions with PPL and have highlighted how the changes proposed to the tariff would be disproportionate and unwarranted.” London Union co-founder Jonathan Downey tweeted: “This is a massive issue for us. On top of ridiculous rates hikes, we’re now faced with extortionate fee increases from a monopoly body. Last year, we paid £31,500 to PPL. This year, they want £104,000. We’re not going to pay this. We’ve cut DJs at all venues. Everyone loses.”
Greene King has become the first pub company to partner with food waste solution app Too Good To Go. All Greene King Pub and Carveries and Farmhouse Inns sites will partner with the app from next month to coincide with the launch of the company’s spring and summer menus. The move follows a trial in 19 Greene King pubs last year in which venues offered surplus carveries at a discount at the end of the day. The free app allows users to view a map showing how many unsold meals are available at sites near them. They can choose their meal and pay for it through the app before collecting it. Greene King said more than 1,000 carveries were saved from going to waste during the trial. Each meal is served as a takeaway and contains a serving of meat, roast potatoes and vegetables in a recyclable container along with a pot of gravy. Greene King supply chain director Vance Fairman-Smith said: “I am pleased to see how successful our trial has been with Too Good To Go. It’s a win-win as it offers customers a great-value meal while reducing food waste.” Too Good To Go co-founder Jamie Crummie added: “With more than 500 new customers visiting Greene King pubs during the trial, our partnership has demonstrated fighting food waste makes not only environmental sense but good business sense too.” Greene King is the first pub company to pledge zero waste to landfill by 2020. It currently diverts 98.6% of its waste from landfill.
Delivery-only kitchen concept Taster, which was founded by one of Deliveroo’s early executives Anton Soulier, has started its UK roll-out following a three-month trial in Hackney, east London. Operating out of delivery-only kitchens, Taster works with third-party online food distribution channels such as Deliveroo. Taster offers its own restaurant brands and works with chef consultants such as two Michelin-starred Korean chef Sang Hoon Degeimbre. Taster offers three pan-Asian brands – Mission Saigon (Vietnamese), O Ke Kai (Hawaiian poke bowls) and Out-Fry (Korean fried chicken). Following its launch in Paris in June 2017, Taster has opened eight kitchens across three countries – France, Spain and now the UK. Soulier said he planned a rapid expansion for Taster in the next few years. He said: “Restaurants often don’t have the infrastructure for delivery – customers are disappointed with how long it takes to prepare, the packaging or how fresh the meal is. We can challenge all these points head on and deliver authentic Asian food within 20 minutes. We were overwhelmed by the initial response to Taster from our Hackney customers and can’t wait to bring Mission Saigon, O Ke Kai and Out-Fry to a wider London audience.” Taster has secured more than $4m in funding from European investors including Local Globe and Heartcore Capital, with Soulier focusing on expanding the concept throughout Europe, starting with London.
A host of operators, including Azzurri Group, The Restaurant Group, Gaucho, Chilango, Loungers, PizzaExpress, Brasserie Bar Co, Greene King, Barworks, LT Management and EAT, are among those to sign up for Propel’s Premium service in the past two weeks. More than 200 companies now receive the Premium service from Propel. Meanwhile, Martyn Cornell will offer his views on why the Portman Group’s guidance on strong beer is “misguided” – and the threat it has to British brewers and retailers – in an article to be sent to Premium subscribers on Thursday (7 March) at 5pm. Propel Premium subscribers will also receive a 30-minute video on Friday (8 March) of Alasdair Murdoch, chief executive of Burger King, speaking about the role of leadership in business turnarounds. Propel Premium subscribers also receive their morning newsletter 11 hours early, at 7pm the evening before our 6am send-out, access to our database of 1,300 multi-site companies, discounts to attend Propel conferences and events, regular video recordings of key speakers from Propel events and conferences, and regular columns from insights editor Mark Wingett. An annual premium subscription costs £345 plus VAT for operators and £445 plus VAT for suppliers – plus £50 each for additional team members. Email email@example.com
Social Strategy In A Day, an event aimed at allowing companies to develop and hone their social media strategy, has launched and is open for bookings. The event features all-new content and insights to allow companies to increase brand exposure, broaden their reach and ensure their digital marketing really delivers. Propel has partnered with digital marketing company Digital Blonde for the one-day advanced workshop, which will cover everything a marketing department should be thinking about when it comes to social strategy. The event takes place on Thursday, 4 April at One Moorgate Place in London. Insights will include how to drive business via social media; which social media activity works best for each generation; the key to successful storytelling; and the latest findings in consumer psychology and how they can benefit your social media communications. There will also be tips on how to boost your food and drink photography and rebuild trust on social media in the wake of fake news alongside insights on key apps, how to make the most of Instagram and Facebook, and how to make your social spend count. Those who book tickets can submit questions ahead of the event for the Digital Blonde team to answer in special “20 questions in 20 minutes” sessions. Tickets are £295 plus VAT for Propel Premium members and £345 plus VAT for non-members and can be booked by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
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