Story of the Day:
Graphite sells investment in Corbin & King to Minor Hotels
Private equity company Graphite Capital has sold its investment in London-based restaurant group Corbin & King. The sale, for an undisclosed amount, forms part of a wider transaction in which Minor Hotels, one of the largest hospitality and leisure groups in the Asia-Pacific region, took a majority interest in the group. Minor is best known as the operator of Anantara Hotels. In 2012, Graphite provided development finance to fund the company’s expansion. At the time Corbin & King operated two restaurants – the Wolseley, which had been open since 2003 and the recently opened Delaunay. Graphite said both have continued to grow strongly. Subsequently Corbin & King opened four more restaurants – Colbert, Brasserie Zédel, Fischer’s and Bellanger. Graphite said the expansion has been “highly successful” and the new restaurants have won numerous industry awards. Revenues of the restaurant group have more than trebled and are now more than £45m. In 2014, Corbin & King opened The Beaumont, a luxury hotel in Mayfair. The Beaumont is regularly rated in the top five hotels in London by TripAdvisor and won the AA’s “Hotel of the Year in London” award in 2016. Graphite said revenues have grown steadily since the opening and the hotel now makes an important contribution to group profits. Employee numbers have increased by more than 150% since Graphite invested and Corbin & King now employs nearly 900 staff. Graphite senior partner Andy Gray said: “Chris Corbin and Jeremy King have built a reputation as London’s most successful restaurateurs over the past 35 years. We are pleased to have played an important part in the development of such an iconic business and are delighted it has shown consistent growth during our investment period. The company is highly profitable and we believe it has found an excellent partner in Minor Hotels.” Senior partner Andy Gray and partner Omar Kayat managed the transaction for Graphite.
Giggling Squid reports Ebitda boost as turnover increases 56% to £18.4m
Thai restaurant group Giggling Squid, which is backed by the Business Growth Fund, has reported turnover grew 56% to £18.4m for the year ended 2 April 2017 compared with £11.8m the year before. Group Ebitda was up 50% to £2.1m compared with £1.4m the previous year. At the year end, the brand was operating 20 sites, six more than the prior year with openings in Bury St Edmunds, Berkhamsted, Norwich, Warwick, Wokingham and Farnham. The company said while new sites generally traded well ahead of expectations, Giggling Squid reported strong growth in mature sites in FY17, with ten out of 11 established restaurants ending ahead of the previous year. It said this pattern of growth had continued into the current financial year. The group’s 22nd restaurant opened in November, which was its first London site in Wimbledon Village, and a further three openings are to take place in early 2018. Giggling Squid stated: “During the year, the company made considerable investment in training, infrastructure, systems and people with a view to preparing the business for further expansion. Giggling Squid remains well financed with substantial undrawn bank facilities and high quality and supportive investors in the Business Growth Fund. In FY17, we launched a ‘Little Tapas for Little People’ menu, a new drinks menu including a very successful cocktail offer and plenty of exciting new dishes.” Co-owners Andy and Pranee Laurillard said: “Last year was great and this year is even better. Our team has really taken shape and achieved some amazing results – our existing sites remain ahead of last year, our new sites have traded well and our margins have improved considerably despite serious headwinds. Tentacles are about to spread once more, with new openings in fantastic locations. We feel very positive about our future!” Giggling Squid took a £6.4m investment from the Business Growth Fund in 2015 to accelerate growth plans. Founded in the basement of a tiny fisherman’s cottage, now Giggling Squid’s Brighton restaurant, the couple opened their first site in Hove in 2009.
Chopstix Group, which owns and operates the eponymous chain of 75 noodle restaurants across the country, has promoted Max Hilton Jenvey to the newly created post of global head of franchise to lead international expansion. Jenvey joined Chopstix in 2015 as chief operating officer and during his tenure the brand has tripled its estate to 75 sites. With UK expansion plans in place for the next 18 months, Chopstix founders Sam Elia and Menashe Sadik have turned their attention overseas. Elia said: “Max has played a key role in establishing Chopstix across the UK in terms of company-owned sites and securing and supporting our increasing base of franchise partners. As we look to introduce the brand overseas, there is no-one better qualified than Max to spearhead our ambitious strategy.” Sadik added: “Max is to be credited for the vital role he has played in the UK growth of the Chopstix brand. During the past year, however, he has been actively working with us on our international strategy and has already generated an enormous amount of interest.” Jenvey said: “Chopstix has come an immensely long way in a relatively short time. The time is right to embark on the next phase of growth.” Last month, Chopstix Group completed its first acquisition after buying the Yangtze chain of restaurants from The Wok for an undisclosed sum.
Catering UK, owner of the 13-outlet Thai Square restaurant chain, has reported turnover fell to £13,566,760 for the year ending 30 June 2017 compared with £13,999,527 the previous year. Pre-tax profit was down to £196,898 compared with £246,751 the year before, according to accounts filed at Companies House. Spa revenue was up to £712,832 compared with £669,895 the previous year. The company stated: “The director was satisfied with the performance of the business in the year, which was in line with expectations. The company expects to continue to trade profitably from existing sites and will look for new opportunities to extend the existing estate as and when opportunities arise.” The company has 11 sites in London along with venues in St Albans and Windsor.
British journalist, writer, broadcaster and food critic Jay Rayner has joined the Restaurant Of The Future lock-down at Restaurant Marketer & Innovator, the most comprehensive marketing series the sector has seen. Restaurant Of The Future will see experts debate the future trends likely to have an impact on the way the industry looks and feels, particularly to consumers. More than 350 senior executives have now booked for Restaurant Marketer & Innovator, the most comprehensive marketing series the sector has seen. Propel will stage the two-day event in partnership with Think Hospitality on Wednesday, 17 January and Thursday, 18 January at One Moorgate Place in London. An array of marketers from agencies and early-stage, growing and rejuvenating brands will take to the stage to share their strategies and winning tactics. Companies and brands attending include Novus, Signature Pubs, Cafe Rouge, Wagamama, Brasserie Bar Co, Las Iguanas, YO! Sushi, Fuller’s, ASK Italian, Mitchells & Butlers, G1 Group, Costa Coffee, Ei Group, Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group, Brewhouse & Kitchen, Stonegate Pub Company, Be At One, Revolution Bars Group, Cabana, Thai Leisure Group, New World Trading Company, Pho, Maxwell’s Group, Gather & Gather, Oakman Inns & Restaurants, The Breakfast Club, The Coaching Inn Group, Gail’s Bakery, Gordon Ramsay Restaurants, K10, Giggling Squid, San Carlo Group, Ennismore, TLC Inns, Polpo, FrogPubs, The Real Eating Company, Claus Meyer Holding, VIP Pizza, 200 Degrees, Coppa Club, Snug Bars, Albion & East, Pint Shop, True North Brew Co, Darwin & Wallace, Chit Chat Chai, BabaBoom, Electric Star and Eat Poke. For full details of the two days, co-ordinated by James Hacon and Ann Elliott respectively, click here. Prices for the two days are £525 plus VAT for operators and £795 plus VAT for suppliers. A one-day rate of £345 plus VAT is available to operators only. For more information and to book please contact either Jo Charity on 01444 810304 or email@example.com or Anne Steele on 01444 817691 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Beer line-cleaner business FullClear, which is currently running a £250,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube, has revealed strong December sales after securing further operator deals. The company stated: “December is typically a slow month for the dispense industry in term of venues wanting to adopt new solutions as their focus is on trading through the busiest period of the year. Despite this, FullClear has seen another month of strong sales with Brakspear purchasing FullClear for its managed estate. FullClear has also signed up more Burning Night Group venues and several independents have come on board along with more significant sales to Admiral licensees. FullClear also started pilots with Shepherd Neame and Ei Group, ensuring continued growth in subscriptions in January.” FullClear is offering a 12.82% equity stake in return for the £250,000 investment. So far, 167 investors have pledged £161,550 with six days remaining. The largest investment to date is £15,000. FullClear is a scientifically formulated beer line-cleaning solution that is non-corrosive, non-toxic and non-hazardous, allowing safe, monthly beer line cleaning, the company said. It will use the investment to further its expansion in the UK and globally alongside building its sales and marketing capabilities. FullClear also has an exclusive partnership with beer quality and waste management systems company Vianet, allowing operators “total oversight over their line-cleaning processes”.
Bellfield has become the first UK brewer to embrace new voice-controlled devices, using artificial intelligence to drive sales. The Edinburgh-based company, which is the UK’s only dedicated gluten-free micro-brewer, is seeking to grow digital sales to a point where it represents 20% of the company’s total sales volume by the end of 2018. Using Amazon’s voice-controlled digital assistant Alexa, consumers can find a local stockist of the beer and order it online using voice commands. Users can also ask the digital assistant to “tell me about Bellfield” to hear the brewery’s back story through an audio clip and get product information. Director Marie Brown said research showed nearly one in four millennials would try voice-controlled ordering of products and about 10% had already used it. She said: “This isn’t just a gimmick. Research indicates artificial intelligence-powered shopping is growing fast. It’s predicted three-in-four households in the US will have ‘smart speakers’ in their homes in the next three years. Ordering food and drink through voice-controlled devices will become as common as popping round to the corner shop is now.”
London-based steakhouse and beer restaurant concept Beef & Brew has hit its £250,000 target on crowdfunding platform Seedrs as it looks to open its second site. The concept was launched by Michelin-trained Jessica Simmonds and Daniel Nathan in September 2015 in Kentish Town and hit its revenue target in its first year. Now it is raising funds to open its second site and is offering a 24.94% equity stake in return for the investment. So far, 181 investors have pledged £251,476 and the campaign is now “overfunding”. The pitch states: “Beef & Brew was established with a multi-site plan in mind. We focus on quality but also simplicity, ensuring what we do is replicable while maintaining the quality required to be successful in the competitive UK dining scene. We’re now looking to open our second site, building on our success to date. We’ve identified various locations, with a shortlist of sites we are actively pursuing. The funds raised in this campaign will be used to support the opening of our next site. We have identified a number of possibilities, with two primary sites we are pursuing. Locations we are pursuing include strong Zone 2 locations, akin to Kentish Town but with higher footfall. These include West Hampstead, Brixton, Dalston and various other London neighbourhoods. We would also consider central districts such as London Bridge, Hoxton, Shoreditch and Soho, depending on affordability and deliverability. Primarily, the strategy is to roll out a coherent brand, with shareholder exit achieved via a business sale.”
Former L’Atelier des Chefs managing director Tom McNeile has told Propel he plans “cautious, measured expansion” after opening the second site for his informal steak restaurant concept Arlo’s. McNeile has opened the 65-cover venue in Northcote Road, Battersea, on the site of the former Indian Moment restaurant. Like the inaugural site in Balham that opened last July, the Battersea restaurant serves a simple all-day menu of grass-fed British beef with an expanded drinks and cocktails list. McNeile said: “Our Balham site is trading very well and it felt like the right time to look at opening further sites. I’m local to Northcote Road and I’ve always seen it as the perfect location for Arlo’s, all the more so as there are so many much bigger operators there and I want to zero in on that competition. Battersea is the perfect spot for us to pause and evaluate before moving ahead with our expansion plans.” McNeile said trading at the Balham site was “above expectations” with its brunch menu and cocktails – particularly martinis – proving to be real drivers. McNeile said: “I think we have a different approach at Arlo’s and I am utterly focused on doing one thing – steak – and doing it very well. Expansion was my hope from the very start and I am fortunate to have such a breadth of experience among our advisors.” Jonny Brackenbury, seed investor and senior board director of Soho House Group from 1997 to 2008, is an original backer of Arlo’s and sits on the board alongside Lindsay McNeile, chairman of Fortune 500 financial services firm INTL FCStone. McNeile is also planning to launch an Arlo’s food truck in the new year to build on his work with local schools. MKR Property acted on behalf of the seller in the Northcote Road deal.
Concept bar specialist Ormsborough has opened its fourth Potting Shed site, in Guiseley, near Leeds, following a multimillion-pound investment that includes the addition of a “lawned” roof terrace. The company has converted a former HSBC bank branch in Oxford Road into its latest venue, creating more than 40 jobs. The terrace has a retractable roof, while there is also a gin bar and a large outdoor shed providing booth seating. A three-level extension has also been added to the rear of the building. The Potting Shed’s signature menu focuses on wood-fired pizza and stacked burgers alongside craft beer, cocktails and artisan spirits. Operations director Rebecca Eastwood said: “Creating the extension has given us much more space on the ground and first floors so we can now seat about 100 downstairs and 50 upstairs. We have green touches right through the bar, lots of hanging baskets and plant pots but especially the roof terrace – it has artificial grass and hedging so you really get that garden feeling out there.” Ormsborough is being backed by industry investor Downing, which has already invested more than £8m in the business. Ormsborough director Allan Harper said: “We take a lot of care in finding all our sites and a landmark building like this fits perfectly with our brand.” The other Potting Shed sites are in Bingley, Beverley and Northallerton.
Ei Group has partnered with Diageo for its global programme Johnnie Walker #JoinThePact, which has secured more than seven million pledges from people stating they will never drink and drive. The number of pledges has beaten the campaign’s five million target a year ahead of its goal, with Diageo now increasing that target tenfold in a bid to secure 50 million pledges by 2025. Diageo launched the campaign in 2008 and it is now active in more than 40 countries. Ei Group is encouraging its customers to pledge to never drink and drive and provide safe rides home during the festive period. Commercial director Paul Harbottle said: “Giving people a positive action they can take, like making a pledge never to drink and drive through #JoinThePact in return for a safe ride home, is a great way to engage people on an important issue like drink-driving at this time of year.” Charles Ireland, general manager of Diageo Great Britain, Ireland and France, added: “Our partnership with Ei Group will ensure the message to never drink and drive is seen by people as they are celebrating and potentially deciding how to get home.”
Leeds-based Authentic Alehouses, led by Burning Night Group boss Allan Harper, has extended its fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdstacker having raised more than £4.3m. The company launched its funding bid to revive the fortunes of underperforming pubs by attracting a new generation of customers with a menu of “quality artisan food and drink, updated decor and a variety of entertainment”. It opened its first venue last month having relaunched The Albert Hotel in Hull following a £1m refurbishment. Authentic Alehouses is aiming to raise £5m on the platform, offering investors a 6.5% per annum interest rate through a peer-to-peer loan. Backers are also given the potential to earn income tax-free by investing via Crowdstacker’s Innovative Finance ISA. Authentic Alehouses launched the campaign in July and has so far raised £4,377,299. The next closing is on Wednesday, 24 January. Authentic Alehouses plans to use the capital to refurbish sites in prime locations, streamline and modernise its operation to cut waste, and introduce higher-quality food, a broader range of drinks, and more family-orientated entertainment.
The Pubs Code adjudicator’s regulatory compliance handbook could “create another level of complexity”, the British Beer & Pub Association has said. Chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “While we welcome these examples of best practice in code compliance, there is a concern this could create another level of complexity in addition to the existing code. It does, however, reflect discussions between the chief executives of individual companies covered by the statutory code and the adjudicator and we believe we are already adhering to much of this proposed best practice. We will continue to engage with the Pubs Code Adjudicator’s office in a positive way and ensure the code works as it should for all parties, with clarity and consistency for all concerned.”
Transport hub foodservice specialist SSP has launched new concept Factory Bar & Kitchen at Birmingham airport. The bar and restaurant has been inspired by Birmingham’s heritage and pays tribute to the pivotal role the city played in the industrial revolution. Factory Bar & Kitchen serves an array of British classics alongside local favourites. The menu includes pizza as well as a selection of dishes with a nod to the Indian flavours at the heart of Birmingham’s food culture. The restaurant also has a breakfast menu and a selection of artisan coffees. The bar offers 13 premium draught beers, bottled beer and a selection of wine and spirits. SSP UK and Ireland chief executive Simon Smith said: “The Factory Bar & Kitchen has been designed in partnership with our clients at Birmingham airport to offer all our customers a fantastic experience. We are delighted to provide local favourites to create a sense of place, all served in a warm and inviting environment.” Birmingham airport commercial director Jo Lloyd added: “We are delighted to be opening another fantastic catering outlet with SSP UK. This new concept will be a welcome addition to the departure lounge.”
Conviviality, the UK alcohol wholesaler serving consumers through the on-trade and its franchise retail estate, has acquired Central Convenience for £25m through its wholly-owned subsidiary Bargain Booze. The deal sees the business and assets of 109 convenience stores transfer from WS Retail, along with the rights as franchisor of a further 18 franchisee-operated stores trading under Central Convenience. WS Retail is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Palmer & Harvey McLane, which entered administration on 28 November. Conviviality stated: “The company can confirm Matthew Boyd Callaghan, Ian David Green and Zelf Hussain, insolvency practitioners of PricewaterhouseCoopers, have been appointed as joint administrators of WS Retail and have accepted the offer and entered into the acquisition agreement with Bargain Booze, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the company, to effect the sale of the business and assets of the Central Convenience business formerly carried on by WS Retail to Bargain Booze. Accordingly, Bargain Booze has completed the acquisition of the entire business, assets and goodwill of WS Retail, including the assignment of the agreements with franchisees, for an aggregate cash consideration of £25.0m. Application has been made to the London Stock Exchange for 8,000,000 placing shares to be admitted to trading on AIM and it is expected admission will occur and dealings will commence at 8am on Tuesday (19 December).” Conviviality chief executive Diana Hunter said: “We are delighted to have completed the acquisition, and to have the Central Convenience business join the Conviviality Group. We now welcome our new colleagues and franchisees to the group. Conviviality Retail now comprises 836 stores, serving more customers in the south and south west of England.”
London-based Jamaican restaurant concept Rudie’s, which made its debut in Dalston in 2015, is to launch a grab and go site next month, in Boxpark Shoreditch. The 30-cover venue will open in two units at the park on Monday, 15 January and showcase a range of Jamaican tapas-style dishes alongside Rudie’s regulars such as jerk chicken, curried goat and the Boss Burger. Grab and go options such as the Jerk-It-Up box (signature real jerk chicken with sweet potato and rice ‘n’ peas or chow chow slaw), Hellshire Beach (king prawns sautéed in pepper sauce with avocado salsa and fried bammy), and the vegan Ital Vital (plantain with Appleton rum sauce, sweet potatoes and chow chow slaw) will be available to take away or for delivery. Rudie’s renowned roti wraps will remain on the menu with curried goat, jerk chicken, jerk pork, and callaloo and mushroom fillings. Beverages will include Jamaican soft drinks alongside fresh juice and a range of rum and punch to match the food.
The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has called for pubs to be allowed to extend opening hours on the weekend of the royal wedding, which would give a £10m boost to the trade. With the wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced for Saturday, 19 May, the BBPA wants to see extended hours on the Friday and Saturday night. Past national celebrations where the government has used the “special occasions order” have included the royal wedding in 2011, the Queen’s diamond jubilee in 2012, the 2014 World Cup and the Queen’s 90th birthday in 2016. BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “A royal wedding is a great national celebration and a wonderful opportunity for us all to get together in the pub. I know an extension would be warmly welcomed by pub-goers and the pub trade. It would put pubs at the heart of the celebrations, something that has been a great success for previous major royal events. I hope the government will embrace this idea.”
Real Greek and Franco Manca operator Fulham Shore has reported turnover for the six months ended 24 September 2017 rose to £27.5m, compared with £19.9m the year before. The company reported headline profit for the period of £2.8m (2015: £2.6m). It achieved headline Ebitda of £4.5m, compared with £3.8m the previous year. Operating profit increased to £600,000 compared with £500,000 the previous year. The company also revealed Franca Manca had made a £200,000 minority investment in London-based pizza concept Made of Dough. Chairman David Page said: “The group’s growth has been driven primarily by new restaurant openings. During the six months ended 24 September 2017, the group opened three The Real Greek restaurants, seven Franco Manca pizzerias in the UK and one Franco Manca franchise pizzeria in Salina, Italy. In line with the group’s expansion strategy, these openings included a number of locations outside London, including Bournemouth and Reading. In September 2017, the group announced in its annual general meeting statement and trading update that it had taken the decision to simplify operations and focus on the group’s core brands by selling its business and property at D’Arblay Street, Soho. Discussions have commenced with suitable parties and as such we have, in the results, impaired the asset by some £0.3m and reflected the property as held for sale and a discontinued operation in the interim results. We have continued to invest in our teams and infrastructure to support our long-term growth plans. During the six months ended 24 September 2017, and as previously indicated, we commenced investing in the central team of The Real Greek as this business begins its national expansion. We also continued to invest in the team we have in place to support the continued expansion of Franco Manca. During the period ended 24 September 2017, the group had lower net cash inflow from operating activities of £3.3m (2016: £6.4m) due primarily to the group benefiting last year from an increase in trade and other payables. During the same period the group invested £7.0m (2016: £6.0m), the majority of which was in new restaurant openings. Included in investing activities is a minority equity investment of £200,000 by Franco Manca in Made of Dough, a new pizza concept, as part of Franco Manca’s pursuit of best in class pizza operations. Overall there was a net cash inflow for the period of £0.8m (2016: £1.1m). At the beginning of the current financial year, the group increased its facilities with HSBC Bank from £6.5m to £15m. Net debt as at 24 September 2017 was £9.7m (2016: £3.0m). No dividend is being proposed by the board. It remains the board’s policy that, subject to the availability of distributable reserves, dividends will be paid to shareholders when the directors believe it is appropriate and prudent to do so. Since 24 September 2017, the group has opened one The Real Greek restaurant in Bristol and two Franco Manca pizzerias in Kings Cross (London) and Bristol. This takes the number of restaurants operated today by the Group to a total of 58 in the UK, made up of 16 The Real Greek, 41 Franco Manca and one Bukowski Grill. We expect to open a further one or two new restaurants by the end of the current financial year to 25 March 2018. Some of our planned openings this year have been delayed by as much as six months as we seek better deals from landlords thus protracting lease negotiations. These delays have had the beneficial side-effect of improving our cash position and lessening our peak borrowings. We will keep under review our opening programme for the rest of the current and following financial years. We intend that our new restaurants will be selected to give us an average return on capital at the higher end of the scale previously recorded. We will achieve this with more rigorous site selection and increased contributions from landlords thereby lowering our costs, in cash terms, for new sites while at the same time negotiating rents off the lower levels that are increasingly evident. We also intend to commit to sites which follow our returns requirement rather than to sign up purely to fill a formulaic pipeline. As indicated in September 2017, the summer should have been one of the busiest periods of our financial year and the weak trading across the dining out market that we also experienced has impacted this year’s overall performance. Some of our pre-2017 restaurants, particularly in the London suburbs, are still experiencing revenue below the equivalent period a year earlier with increased volatility and some expected cannibalisation from our new restaurants in nearby locations. However, revenue from these restaurants have seen slight improvements from the poor summer period of July to September. Although we believe our half-year figures to 24 September 2017 were satisfactory, our full-year headline Ebitda to 25 March 2018 will depend on how our suburban estate performs in the second half of the year and also on the timing and performance of new openings. The slowdown in the UK retail and restaurant sector has been noted by many commentators, and is, we believe, the result principally of rising inflation, poor consumer confidence and a weakening economy. These factors, together with a number of rising costs, means that our pre-2017 estate, while profitable, is contributing less, on an average site by site basis, than last year. We will respond to the economic climate in the next 24 months as we find it, as we believe these factors will continue to affect the restaurant sector in the coming years, limiting our visibility for the second-half and beyond. Despite this challenging backdrop I am confident Fulham Shore is well placed; we have an experienced management team, who have navigated through several industry cycles, two strong brands that are renowned for their great quality, ambience and value, and a good site portfolio. We believe that our brands have significant customer appeal, which is underpinned by the food quality and value of their offerings. As a result, and despite the challenging backdrop, we are confident that the group will continue to grow over the coming years.”
Australian-inspired restaurant group Daisy Green Collection has secured a £3.4m debt investment to almost double its size. The company, which operates eight sites including two barges, aims to use the funds from challenger bank OakNorth to expand to 14 sites by 2020. Founded in 2012 by two former City bankers, Prue Freeman (pictured right) and her husband Tom Onions, Daisy Green began life as a Ford transit van below the Gherkin selling coffee and smoothies. The business now spans London from Liverpool Street to Southwark, and its next project will be opening a 4,000 square foot space in Soho. Earlier this month, it launched its floating bar and restaurant in Paddington, west London. Two 50-metre barges – Darcie Green and May Green – are based on the Grand Union Canal outside Paddington Station and have been designed by British artist Peter Blake. OakNorth co-founder Ben Barbanel said: “The Daisy Green Collection is an extremely strong, invested business – despite being incredibly young it is already Ebitda positive across all its mature sites, no doubt down to the commitment and passion of its founders.” Freeman, a former UBS investment banker, and Onions, who has held positions at UBS, Santander and Citi, aimed to create a chain that brought the flavours of Australasia to London. The business has been recognised by Vogue magazine as a “leading” vegetarian and vegan restaurant, serving dishes from bacon rolls with paratha roti to roasted aubergine with crispy rice and miso tahini sauce. OakNorth now has a loan book of more than £900m, and plans to lend a further £1.5bn next year.
Domino’s Pizza Group has announced it will commence an irrevocable, discretionary programme to purchase up to £20m of the company’s ordinary shares of 25/48 pence each. The programme will run until 8 March 2018. The company stated: “The purpose of the programme is to reduce the company’s share capital and accordingly the company intends to cancel the ordinary shares purchased under the programme. Any purchases will be conducted in compliance with the relevant conditions for trading, restrictions regarding time and volume, disclosure and reporting obligations, and price conditions. The company confirms that it currently has no unpublished inside information. The programme will be conducted by the company in accordance with and under the terms of the general authority granted by the company’s shareholders at the company’s annual general meeting on 20 April 2017, which authority will expire at the end of the next annual general meeting of the company in 2018 or, if earlier, at the close of business on 20 July 2018. The aggregate maximum consideration payable by the company in respect of the purchase of shares under the programme up to 8 March 2018 is £20m. The maximum number of shares that may be purchased under the programme is 44,526,635 (being the number of shares able to be purchased under the 2017 authority, less shares purchased to date under the 2017 authority).”
The company behind three-strong London-based restaurant business Zebrano was sold out of administration for a total consideration of £750,000, a new document has revealed. A report by administrators Darren Edwards and Michael Wellard, of Aspect Plus, showed the business and assets of Automa was sold in September to Zebrano Bars and Clubs, a connected company of which Donald Cameron and Cevat Riza were directors. An initial consideration of £400,000 was paid, with the remaining £350,000 being paid over 18 months in equal monthly instalments. The report also revealed there was sufficient funds to pay back secured creditor Lloyds Bank in full and enable a distribution to unsecured creditors, although it was not possible at the time of the report to quantify the dividend. Lloyds was owed a total of £303,882. Zebrano opened its first site in Ganton Street, Soho, in December 2004 before adding sites in Greek Street, Soho, in 2008 and Houndsditch in 2015. As part of the deal, the jobs of 87 employees were preserved. The report also revealed trading difficulties at the Houndsditch site, largely blamed on substantial construction work in the area, which led to the company eventually entering administration in August this year. The report stated: “Trading at the two Soho sites has historically been strong but the company encountered difficulties at the Houndsditch site. Since opening, Houndsditch never met forecast turnover levels. In large part this was due to the substantial amount of construction work ongoing in the area, which had been delayed from its initial estimated completion in 2016. In order to continue to operate Houndsditch the resources of the other two sites were effectively drained. Furthermore, equipping and decorating the Houndsditch site had led to the company being increasingly reliant on HP finance and other leases, alongside acquiring some £500,000 of debt, both secured and unsecured.” Automa entered into a Company Voluntary Arrangement in September 2016 but ongoing trading losses at the Houndsditch site meant it struggled to meet its agreed payments and breached the terms in June, which eventually led to the company entering administration. Draft management accounts for the year ending 31 December 2016 showed the company had turnover of £5,408,569.
Conviviality, the UK alcohol wholesaler serving consumers through the on-trade and through its franchise retail estate, has revealed its wholly-owned subsidiary Bargain Booze has made an offer to acquire the business and assets of 109 convenience stores and the rights as franchisor of a further 18 franchisee-operated stores trading under Central Convenience from WS Retail for a cash consideration of £25.0m. WSR is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Palmer & Harvey McLane, which entered administration on 28 November 2017. The company stated: “If the offer is accepted, the company will fund the acquisition through the completed placing of 8,000,000 new ordinary shares of £0.0002 each in the capital of the company at a price of 375p per placing share to raise gross proceeds of £30.0m. The placing is conditional inter alia on the acquisition being completed by 4.30pm today (Friday, 15 December) and has been fully underwritten by Investec, the company’s sole bookrunner, broker and nominated adviser. The company will issue a further announcement today to update on the satisfaction (or otherwise) of this condition. Central Convenience provides enhanced scale and reach for the Conviviality retail division, strengthening the group’s retail presence, particularly in the south and south west of England. It will add, in aggregate, 127 convenience stores, including 20 petrol forecourts, stores incorporating 47 post offices and 18 franchisee operated stores; securing wholesale supply to owned and franchised stores, allowing the group to realise further economies of scale. The acquisition is expected to facilitate acceleration of the group’s strategy to satisfy customers who wish to consume alcoholic beverages at home or out of home, whatever the occasion, serving customers directly via retail outlets and indirectly through hospitality and foodservice channels. Together, the acquisition and the placing are expected to be earnings enhancing in the group’s first full financial year of ownership of Central Convenience. For the 53 weeks ended 8 April 2017, WSR generated unaudited turnover of circa £75.7m and unaudited Ebitda of circa £3.5m. The directors of the company believe that potential exists for operational, buying and distribution synergies to be realised from the proposed combination of Central Convenience and Conviviality Retail.” Diana Hunter, chief executive of Conviviality, said: “We are pleased to have finalised terms for a potential acquisition of Central Convenience as it provides a clear opportunity to accelerate the growth and reach of the existing Conviviality Retail business, notably broadening our geographic footprint in the south and south west of England. The acquisition, if effected, will support our strategic goal to be the drinks and impulse sector’s leading independent distributor and we believe that potential exists for a range of synergies and increased returns for Conviviality’s shareholders. We look forward to welcoming colleagues from Central Convenience to the Conviviality Group.”
Crussh, the London-based healthy food and juice brand, has reported like-for-like sales increased 2.9% in a year of “significant developments”. The company saw turnover increase to £14,404,673 for the year ending 2 April 2017, compared with £13,800,507 the year before. Ebitda fell to £61,739 compared with £269,294 the previous year, according to accounts filed at Companies House. Pre-tax losses were up to £451,728, compared with a loss of £241,418 the year before. In May, the company issued 1,500,000 10% fixed-rate convertible unsecured loan notes. The loan notes are repayable on 30 April 2042 or are otherwise convertible into shares by individual request of the loan note holders. The purpose of the issue was to provide working capital for store refurbishments and future growth. The company stated: “The year saw a number of significant developments for Crussh. Following the arrival of Shane Kavanagh as chief executive in spring 2016, he and the team created a platform for future growth, further strengthening the senior team, implementing several new IT developments, further shaping the Crussh brand direction, look and feel, developing range disciplines, and improving the capability of Crussh in the deliveries sector. During the year we refitted our main Canary Wharf store and opened a new-concept store in New Street Square. Trading throughout the year has been characterised by a contrasting store sales mix across the estate. Like-for-like store-level contribution grew by 2.9% to £1.82m in a year that saw unprecedented cost headwinds. Through decisive management actions, we were able to mitigate the majority of these cost pressures.”
Clive Watson has stepped down as a director at West Berkshire Brewery to concentrate on growing City Pub Group following its initial public offering last month. Watson told Propel: “More and more of my time is being taken up by City Pub Group so the decision makes sense. It means there is no conflict of interest.” Watson, who is chairman of City Pub Group, joined the West Berkshire Brewery board in 2014. City Pub Group, the owner and operator of an estate of 34 premium pubs across southern England, now trades on AIM.
Old World Hospitality has opened a first UK site for its Indian Accent brand. The company has launched the venue in Albemarle Street at a site formerly occupied by its restaurant Chor Bizarre, which had been there 20 years and featured on the world’s best 50 restaurants list. Old World Hospitality operates Indian Accent sites in New Delhi and New York, with group chef Manish Mehrotra’s menu featuring home-style cooking using unusual ingredients from across the globe. The restaurant’s decor features combed, pearl-lustred plastered walls, reminiscent of Indian Accent’s other sites, while the lower ground floor offers private dining. Old World Hospitality founder and chairman Rohit Khattar said: “The decision to close Chor Bizarre was hard. However, it did need major refurbishment after so long and, while we were looking for a home for Indian Accent, we realised there was no space more perfect. We hope London embraces Indian Accent as warmly as New York has.”
Ei Group’s leased and tenanted division Ei Publican Partnerships has partnered with a Devon-based fish and chip shop owner to launch a US-themed seafood offer. Daniel Boatwright, an experienced publican, hotelier, restaurateur and chef, took over The Old Coach House Inn in Torquay in October. Working with daughter Sophie, they have reopened the pub as American-themed seafood venue Route 16 following a joint £155,000 investment with Ei Publican Partnerships. Renovations include a New England-themed interior and a herb terrace in the newly designed garden. The menu includes New England clam chowder, and Alaskan-fried fish and chips. A hot smoker has been installed on the terrace for barbecues. Daniel Boatwright said: “My family and I jumped at running this much-loved pub. We have previously run pubs in Kent and currently own a fish and chip shop in town. It will be an all-family affair as my daughter is keen to follow in our footsteps and will manage front of house.” Ei Publican Partnerships regional manager Alan Turner added: “Daniel is the perfect example of the publicans we have in our estate. I have no doubt he and his family will thrive at Route 16.”
Next year will be a challenging one for UK hotel operators with flat occupancy levels and increasing overheads despite positive global and EU economic growth, according to Russell Kett, chairman of global hotel consultancy HVS. However, he said average room rates should see modest growth. Kett warned a combination of rising wages and food and utility costs – alongside staff shortages, higher property taxes and business rates, and a strong pipeline of new hotels – would put pressure on UK hotel operating margins during the next 12 months. However, despite little or no occupancy growth, yields were likely to increase slightly, with Kett forecasting an average daily rate and revpar rise of 5% in London and 3% in the regions. Kett said leisure travel would remain strong in the UK in 2018, particularly while sterling was relatively weak, although corporate business looked set to be squeezed as companies sought to contain costs. He said security concerns in key cities also remained in the background but had yet to materially affect hotel demand. He added that the overall outlook for travel into the UK remained positive but hoteliers would have to focus on service, quality, outperforming competition and encouraging direct bookings. He said: “Next year will truly sift the good from the average, particularly in cities with an increasing supply of hotels such as London. Operators need to maximise revenue from every bit of space and keep a tight control on overheads. The message to tourists must be the UK is still very much open for business.”
Hollywood Bowl Group, the UK’s largest ten-pin bowling operator, has signed to open at the Intu Broadmarsh shopping centre redevelopment. The company has committed to a 22,000 square foot space next to co-anchor The Light cinema. The redevelopment will also include restaurants and is due to be completed in 2020. It has been designed to complement the offering at Intu Victoria Centre, which is also in Nottingham. Hollywood Bowl recently signed for space at Intu Lakeside and Intu Watford, and opened at Intu Derby earlier this year. Hollywood Bowl Group chief financial officer Laurence Keen said: “Intu is leading the way in driving growth in retail and leisure and its prime, high-footfall destinations enable us to execute our new centre opening strategy across its UK-wide portfolio.” Intu development director Martin Breeden added: “Hollywood Bowl will give our customers another great reason to visit our centre and stay for longer. It will be part of a great tenant mix that will help our retailers and restaurants flourish.” Meanwhile, Hollywood Bowl Group will open a site in Yeovil, Somerset, in the spring after taking over a tenpin bowling alley at Yeo Leisure Park that was formerly operated by MFA Bowl but closed in September. Earlier this week, Hollywood Bowl Group reported sales up 8.8% to £114m for the year ended 30 September 2017, with like-for-like sales up 3.5%. Group adjusted Ebitda was 13.7% to £33.4m.
The Scottish business rates proposals are a welcome trigger for wider reform, the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) has said. Scottish finance minister Derek Mackay has unveiled a set of new reliefs, which include almost all the Barclay Review recommendations. ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The impact of business rates in the hospitality sector cannot be sustained so this package of measures is good news for Scottish pubs, restaurants and clubs. Better still is the move to Consumer Price Index, which the Barclay Review felt was outside its remit, will replace the higher Retail Price Index and larger businesses will benefit from a cut in the supplementary charge for large business premises, in line with England. Scotland is leading the way on business rates but there is still a real urgency for England and Wales to undertake root-and-branch reform of their systems to deliver fairness to bricks-and-mortar businesses and hospitality operators that are among the worst hit. This will hopefully prompt further and swifter action in England and Wales.”
Hop Stuff Brewery, which raised almost £750,000 on Crowdcube earlier this year for expansion, has secured a venue in Ashford, Kent, to add to its SE18 brewery taproom in Woolwich and SE8, which opened in Deptford on 1 December. The company’s third taproom will launch in Bank Street early next year at a site formerly occupied by Vinnie’s Bar And Club in a deal brokered by agent Christie & Co. The venue is a 3,500 square foot, ground-floor corner plot close to the town’s new cinema. The property is owned by a private landlord who set up a new lease. Hop Stuff Brewery will refurbish the venue to feature a micro-brewery alongside sourdough pizza, its own craft beer, and a small selection from other brewers, particularly from Kent. Last month, Hop Stuff Brewery founder James Yeomans told Propel he was considering another crowdfunding round to accelerate the growth of his taproom concept. He said: “We’re very excited to have our first site outside London and I don’t want to stop growing. We’ve managed three taprooms and a new brewery with the funds so far and I’d love to have taprooms across the south of England.” Yeomans said he expected revenue to hit the £3.5m mark in 2018.
The Ivy Collection has opened two brasseries, in Cheltenham and York. The Cheltenham site has opened in the grade I-listed Rotunda building in Montpellier that formerly housed a Lloyds TSB bank branch, while the 120-cover York venue is in St Helen’s Square at a former Blacks outdoor clothing shop featuring a marble-top bar, pendant lighting, leather banquettes and artwork reflecting the city of York. Last week, The Ivy Collection opened Granary Square Brasserie in King’s Cross, while there are further openings lined up for early next year in Guildford, Leeds and Winchester.
New concept 39 Steps Coffee Haus is to launch in Soho next month. The 25-cover venue in D’Arblay Street will roast and grind coffee on-site, with experts able to tell consumers the name of the farmer who grew the beans, which way the slope faced and how long the beans ripened for. Head roaster Jens Rettig (pictured) buys beans from independent growers in India, Brazil, Mexico and El Salvador. The venue will also offer hand brews, cold brews, nitro brews, coffee smoothies and coffee milkshakes alongside cold-pressed juices. The all-day menu will feature homemade soups, salads, sandwiches and freshly made cakes and desserts.
Clean eating, vegetarian and vegan haute cuisine, solo dining, and a growth in activity-driven experiences will be among the key trends in 2018, according to The Change Group. The recruitment company said other key trends next year would include catering to the growing number of dietary requirements, particularly gluten and dairy intolerances, and street food chefs combining top-calibre cooking with casual dining formats. It said the increase in solo dining would come as single people started to feel more comfortable eating out alone, while there would be a rise in experience hospitality where performance, dance and games add an extra dimension to the fine dining experience. The Change Group added that satisfying consumer behaviour would also be key, especially with millennials becoming a more significant proportion of the dining out public, while concerns over sustainability and nutrition would require restaurants to find new ways to attract people to eat out more often. The Change Group co-founder Craig Allen said: “Smartphone-empowered millennials now have a high disposable income and want something different from eating out. They love experiences and adventures. The rise in fine dining delivery services means they can get excellent food from many top restaurants at home, making the experience and ambience of dining out key to restaurant strategies. Additionally, millennials are well informed about nutrition and diet and are far more conscious about their food requirements than past generations. They have already helped to shift the avocado centre stage in every brunch experience and this is likely to be just the beginning.”
Finalists have been announced for Restaurant Marketer & Innovator Awards, the inaugural awards staged by Propel and Think Hospitality to recognise success in marketing and innovation in the foodservice sector. More than 90 entries were judged by a panel of 16 industry and agency leaders. The finalists are Innovator Of The Year: Lizzy Barber (Cabana, Hache and Hush); Aaron Mellor (Tokyo Industries); Martin Morales (Ceviche and Andina); and Roger Wade (Boxpark). Marketer Of The Year: Simon Cope (Byron); Lucy Knowles (SSP); Andrew Rayner (Nando’s); Monica Pool (KFC); and Celia Pronto (Casual Dining Group). Future Marketing Leader Of The Year: Anthony Knight (group sales and marketing director, Maxwell’s); Liz Cranney (brand manager, Tank & Paddle, Novus); Hayley Simpson (head of marketing, communication and events, The Breakfast Club); Amy Gatt (brand manager, Late Night London, Novus); and Lexie Brown (marketing manager, Cabana). Integrated Campaign Of The Year: ASK Italian for Purple Basil Pesto with W Communications; Aqua Shard for Roald Dahl 100 with Bacchus PR; CAU Restaurants for CAUnival with Me:Mo Interactive; Castle Pubs for Craft Beer Festival; Chef & Brewer for Gin-ius Campaign with WPR Agency; Chop’d for Eggs Campaign with WE ARE Spectacular and Woof London; Fuller’s for The Beautiful Game with WE ARE Spectacular and True Digital; Greene King Local Pubs for Summer of Sound with Keane; Las Iguanas for Iggy & Friends with Aardman Animations; and Pho for Christmas Campaign with Ignite Hospitality. Best Use Of Video: Bistrot Pierre with Ergo Films; Dip & Flip with Kings Road Creative and Belt & Braces; Florentine Restaurant & Bar with Me:Mo Interactive; The Alchemist; and Wreckfish with Natural Selection Design. Digital Campaign Of The Year: Cote Restaurants for Cote to Table with Me:Mo Interactive; Fuller’s for Kick & Collect Mobile with WE ARE Spectacular and True Digital; and Greene King Hungry Horse for Hungry for Summer with WPR. Best New Website: Brewhouse & Kitchen with Propeller; Everards with Rock Kitchen Harris; Thaikhun with WiseTiger; The Breakfast Club with ShopTalk London; The Regent Balham with Captivate Hospitality; and The Botanist with Marmalade on Toast. Best New Or Improved Visual Identity: Busaba with WE ARE Spectacular; Brewhouse & Kitchen with Richard Keeling and Feature Design; Chop’d with WE ARE Spectacular; Chopstix Noodle Bar with Mystery and Emjay PR; Hache with POP, Fusion DNA and This Is Now Agency; and Tropicana Beach Club with Bespoke Barware, Cheeky Tiki and Propeller. Best Use Of Research, Insight & Data: Bistrot Pierre; Casual Dining Group with Tahola; Gather & Gather; Las Iguanas with Feed It Back; and Thai Leisure Group with WiseTiger. Best Use Of Social Media: Belushi’s; The Good Life Eatery; Maxwell’s; The Alchemist; and Vapiano. Launch Campaign Of The Year: Aquavit with Sauce Communications; Bistrot Pierre (Mumbles); Chop’d Manchester with WE ARE Spectacular, Woof London and Phil Curtis; Ella Canta with Sauce Communications; New World Trading Company (The Canal House); The Alchemist (Media City); and Wreckfish with Natural Selection Design. Best Use Of Technology: Chop’d with WE ARE Spectacular; Gather & Gather with WioPay and Masterpass; Inamo Restaurants with Ordamo; Shake Smart with BPL Digital; Young’s with Propeller. For full speaker details, click here. Prices for two days are £525 plus VAT for operators and £795 plus VAT for suppliers. Companies buying two tickets will receive a third one free. A one-day rate of £345 plus VAT is available to operators only. For more information and to book, call Jo Charity on 01444 810304 or email email@example.com or Anne Steele on 01444 817691 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Restaurant Marketer & Innovator, the new event in January run by Propel and Think Hospitality, is calling for nominations for its inaugural “30 Under 30” list, which looks to recognise 30 talented future leaders in marketing, innovation and strategy roles within the sector who are under 30 years of age. Propel managing director Paul Charity said: “We are looking for nominations for outstanding young marketing and innovation professionals working within the eating and drinking out sector, whether working for a brand or an agency. Our panel of experts will then draw up a 30-strong list of outstanding professionals who will be recognised at a special reception in January.” Nominations should highlight (in one page) the name, position and title of the individual; why they believe the individual deserves recognition; how the individual has demonstrated success in their career to date; and relevant achievements and/or career history. Nominations can be made by emailing email@example.com
A total of £729m worth of gin was sold in bars and restaurants in the past year as it surpassed whisky and vodka to become Britain’s favourite spirit. Britons have bought more than 47 million bottles of gin in the past year, seven million more than in the same period a year ago, according to the Wine and Spirit Trade Association’s (WSTA) latest report. The figures, which were released as a YouGov poll, also found gin had become the most sought-after spirit, with 29% voting it their favourite ahead of whisky (25%) and vodka (23%). It came third in the same poll a year ago. Gin sales in Britain have doubled in value in the past six years, with consumers buying £630m worth in 2011 compared with more than £1.2bn in the 12 months to September 2017. The WSTA market report showed the equivalent of more than 8.8 million bottles were sold in pubs and bars in the same 12 months but the majority is bought from shops and supermarkets, where 38.7 million bottles were sold in the same period. Exports in 2016 reached a record £474m. IWSR, a market research company for alcoholic drinks, has predicted gin sales will grow by 37.2% by 2021. WSTA chief executive Miles Beale said: “Gin’s versatility has proved it is attractive to consumers who have increasingly sophisticated palettes.” There were 45 distilleries opened in Britain during 2016, according to HM Revenue & Customs, bringing the total to an estimated 273, compared with 128 in 2012.
Accidents, arguments and underperformance are the real impact of sleep-deprivation on hospitality workers, according to a new survey. The Worldwide Sleep Census carried out by bed manufacturer Sealy found hospitality is the most sleep-deprived profession in the UK, with more than four-fifths (86%) of hospitality workers admitting they could function better at work if they slept better. Almost two-thirds (65%) of hospitality respondents said they regularly lose their temper or have been irritable to a colleague, while nearly a third (30%) claimed they suffer a lack of productivity and 19% are often late or have time off as a result of lack of sleep. While 4% admitted falling asleep at work, 11% of hospitality staff put a recent accident at work down to feeling tired. Sealy has produced a guide to managing staff sleep deprivation with Russell HR Consulting. The Worldwide Sleep Census questioned 5,000 workers from across the UK.
National Innovation in Training Awards
21st November 2017
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