Star Pubs & Bars

Story of the Day:

Bella Italia launches retail range

Bella ItaliaBella Italia, which is owned by Casual Dining Group, has launched its first retail range following a partnership with Tesco. The frozen ready meal range includes starters, mains and desserts, with all dishes having appeared on Bella Italia’s a la carte menu. The dishes were chosen and refined following cook-offs and stringent tests. Wherever possible, the dishes use ingredients from the same suppliers as those served in Bella Italia’s restaurants. Casual Dining Group chief operating officer James Spragg said: “We are delighted to partner with Tesco to bring an authentic taste of Italy to homes across the UK. We’re restaurant operators at heart with a rich heritage but we also have a wealth of experience that can be utilised to tap into other markets such as retail. As well as focusing on menu innovation and creating exceptional dining experiences, we’re also determined to evolve and find new ways to capitalise on our expertise and experience. We are immensely proud of our Bella brand and the progress we have made on menu innovation, championing authentic and healthy flavours and produce. We are confident the rigorous testing and quality control measures we have put in place with Tesco will guarantee an end product we’re both proud of.” A Tesco spokesman added: “Bella Italia ready meals on Tesco shelves is great news for our customers. It makes it easier than ever to get the fabulous flavours of Italy on the dinner table.” The range is available in Tesco stores across the UK.

Vapiano UK appoints Roberto Moretti as chief executive, Phil Sermon leaves

Vapiano general viewRoberto Moretti has been appointed chief executive of Vapiano UK. South African Moretti has extensive experience in the hospitality sector, starting in his home city of Cape Town followed by ten years at Zizzi in the UK, where he left as operations director to join restaurant group Bill’s as managing director. Moretti was most recently contract managing director at Coco Di Mama. He begins his new role at Vapiano on Tuesday (23 October), taking the reins from outgoing managing director Phil Sermon, who has been in the role since January 2012 and is leaving to pursue a new business venture. Moretti said: “I am excited to join the team at Vapiano UK. The group is renowned for serving truly fresh food made daily on-site. The restaurants are in prominent spots around the UK and offer a relaxed dining environment where food is made to order in front of you by a personal chef. Vapiano’s first restaurant in Great Portland Street celebrates its tenth anniversary this year and is still serving upwards of 10,000 guests a week, which is an incredible achievement in what is a really competitive and challenging environment. It’s an exciting time for Vapiano and I’m really looking forward to building on the group’s achievements to date and to further develop and enhance the brand.” Vapiano will open its One Tower Bridge restaurant on Friday, 26 October, followed by further confirmed London sites – at Centre Point in Tottenham Court Road in late 2018 and Canary Wharf in early 2019. Vapiano currently operates six UK sites – three in London and one each in Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Other News:

Alchemist managing director Simon PottsSimon Potts, managing director of award-winning bar and restaurant brand The Alchemist, has said he is looking to “diversify its offer” as the brand has lost a “little bit of ground in the very late-night space”. Speaking at the Bar and Nightclub Conference, organised by UKHospitality and Propel, he said: “Although we’ve done really well in growing the breakfast, afternoon and early evening dayparts with The Alchemist brand, there are a lot of other operators doing brilliant things in the late-night cocktail space and that’s cut a little bit into our activity in some venues.” One move to counteract this has been to launch Aether, a new concept that opened in Liverpool last month. Potts said: “This concept is designed to pull some of that market share back. It’s still very much a cocktail bar but focuses on some current trends. Essentially it’s a polished tiki bar, is rum-led and design heavy. It has our sense of theatre but done in a different way, with each drink telling its own story. The pace of the venue is very different to The Alchemist, it’s a much smaller venue and the bartenders are more intricately involved in the service of those drinks and the story that sits behind each one. It’s not something we’re looking to roll out at the moment – it will take time to work out how we could do it at scale – but we’ve seen the approach done brilliantly in the past. Revolution Bars Group is probably the best example – a fantastic late-night venue that was partnered with Revolucion de Cuba across the country – and they sit alongside and complement one another. It’s a bit different to the restaurant industry, where if you’re creating a sub-brand out of the original brand you’re directly competing. In bars, you’re hoping to add into the circuit.” The Alchemist’s next opening will be a 6,500 square foot venue, which will launch in St Martin’s Lane, Covent Garden, on Friday, 16 November. Another site will open in Old Street in March 2019 in a development with shared office space provider WeWork.

Deliveroo BikesDeliveroo is to provide restaurant partners with personalised data and insights gleaned from its “Frank” algorithm and powered through new portal Restaurant Home. Deliveroo said Restaurant Home would provide insights and analysis into order volumes, preparation and collection times, refunds, menu click-throughs, comparisons to top performers, and local-area averages. Deliveroo UK and Ireland managing director Dan Warne said: “We have already used data and tech to make delivery more efficient and reliable but we want to make sure we are providing restaurants with the insights that help them grow even more. That’s why we are rolling out tools and analysis for restaurants to help them seize the opportunities delivery provides.” Meanwhile, Deliveroo revealed its first breakdown of data for individual London boroughs, which reveals the most popular dishes in each. Although burgers remain the overall favourite, Islington residents opt for kebabs. Enfield households love Greek food, while French cuisine is the top order in Kingston-upon-Thames. People in Kensington and Chelsea and the City of London order the most late-night takeaways, while Lambeth and Hackney residents order the most alcohol with their meals. Meanwhile, Deliveroo customers in Westminster and Camden order the most desserts. Warne said: “London’s diversity is just one of the things that makes this an amazing city to live, work and eat in.” In July, Deliveroo said its Frank algorithm had cut delivery times by 20%.

Redcomb Pubs has relaunched Alphabet in IslingtonMulti-site operator Redcomb Pubs, founded by Dan Shotton and Mark Draper, has reported turnover increased to £16,756,797 for the year ending 30 June 2018, compared with £15,155,421 the previous year. Pre-tax profit was up to £707,720 compared with £632,367 the year before, according to accounts filed at Companies House. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “During the year, two acquisitions were made. The freehold of a site in Instow was purchased in December 2017 and reopened in June 2018 as The Boathouse. In spring 2018 a site in Islington was purchased and converted into Alphabet Bar (pictured) serving Mediterranean food and cocktails. It reopened in August 2018. The company continues to make good progress with the expansion and profitability of its existing sites. The Station and The Bickley continue to trade well but, after review, it was decided to sell the Crown & Horns due to its size. A refurbishment was carried out at The Old Manor in Potters Bar in November and, on reopening, the pub increased its performance.” The number of employees during the period increased to 217 from 127. Redcomb currently operates 16 venues in London and surrounding counties, incorporating a number of pubs with rooms.

Pulling a pint in a Greene King pubMore than 105,000 people have signed a petition calling for a cut in beer tax to lessen the significant cost pressure on pubs. The petition – part of the nationwide Long Live The Local campaign backed by Britain’s Beer Alliance – was delivered to Downing Street by actress Jodie Kidd and fellow publicans. The alliance has forecast more than one in ten pubs (12%) could close within five years if the chancellor fails to ease some of that pressure by bringing in measures in the autumn Budget such as a cut in beer duty. More than 46,000 people have also supported the Long Live The Local campaign, which launched in July, by writing to their MP. The petition was delivered as new research revealed almost three-quarters (72%) of people believe pubs are an important part of a local community and more than one-third (36%) said pubs were important for their social life. More than two-thirds (68%) said pub closures were bad for communities, while more than half (55%) said pubs were important for securing the future of struggling high streets. However, almost the same number (53%) said going to the pub was less affordable than five years ago and more than one-third (36%) said they visited the pub less often. Asked what should be done to help pubs, more than two-thirds (71%) said they would like to see the chancellor cut or freeze beer duty in the Budget on Monday, 29 October. Three pubs in the UK close every day due to increasing financial pressures from a range of taxes. As beer makes up 70% of alcoholic drinks sold in a pub, a Retail Price Index-linked increase (3.4%) in beer duty planned in the Budget this month followed by further increases would increase the pressure on pubs further and could lead to more than 12,500 job losses in four years, the alliance warned. Kidd, who operates The Half Moon gastro-pub in Kirdford, West Sussex, said: “Local pubs like mine bring people together and are at the heart of communities. However, mounting financial pressures mean it is already a struggle for many just to keep their doors open.”

Loungers bar staff mixing drinksCafe bar group Loungers, which is backed by Lion Capital, has relocated a site for the first time in its 16-year history. The company has moved Ocho Lounge in Penarth, South Wales, to larger premises. It has moved from Windsor Road, where it opened in June 2008, to a former Prezzo nearby. Loungers said its original venue had been “bursting at the seams for the past couple of years”. The company has invested £650,000 in the new venue, which has 150 covers trading across two floors, more than double the capacity of the original Lounge. Jeremy Burton-Dickie, operations manager for Wales, said: “These are exciting times for Ocho. We’ve enjoyed being part of the Penarth community since we opened ten years ago and it has been fantastic to see the high street develop and evolve. We’ve been looking to give Ocho a bit of a spruce up for some time so getting the opportunity to move over the road to slightly bigger premises was ideal.” Loungers was founded by Dave Reid, Alex Reilley and Jake Bishop in 2002.

Creditors of the Manchester franchise of Soho-based seafood restaurant and oyster bar Randall & Aubin will be left with an estimated total deficiency of more than £1.5m, newly filed documents have revealed. A statement of proposals filed at Companies House by administrators Richard Saville and Andrew Cordon, of CFS Restructuring, show the estimated total deficiency to members was £1,564,274. The administrators said they anticipated there would be insufficient funds to allow a distribution to creditors. The report showed secured creditor Barclays Bank is owed £208,803 and trade creditors £228,000, while the company had outstanding liabilities to HM Revenue & Customs totalling £115,000. James Storey and Abdul Aliyev launched the restaurant in Bridge Street, Manchester, in June last year. However, the report showed the restaurant became insolvent as a result of high set-up costs and insufficient turnover to cover operating costs. Accounts for the 11 months ended 31 January 2018 showed the company sustained a net loss of £552,000 on turnover of £1.44m. Accounts for the four months ended 31 May 2018 showed the company sustained further trading losses of £116,000 on turnover of £509,000. The company’s balance sheet as at 31 May 2018 indicated shareholder funds of £373,000. This resulted primarily from funds injected by the directors totalling £1.04m. As previously reported, Randall & Aubin, which is owned by television chef Ed Baines and restaurateur Jamie Poulton, acquired the franchise operation in a pre-pack arrangement in August. The report revealed the total consideration paid was £35,000, with £25,000 paid on completion of the deal and the remainder over a six-month period. All 28 employees at the restaurant were transferred at the time of the sale. Randall & Aubin started as a butcher’s shop in Soho in 1911 and has been operating as a restaurant in the capital for the past 20 years.

Starbucks Intu Milton KeynesStarbucks is proposing to introduce a new support centre structure at its London head office as it looks to deliver long-term and profitable growth in the EMEA region through strategic licensed partnerships. The new structure in London, which has served as the company’s regional headquarters since 2014, would see Starbucks close its support centre in Amsterdam. The company would continue to operate its manufacturing site in the Dutch capital, which roasts and packages its Arabica coffee for the region. As part of the changes, Starbucks intends to fully licence operations in France, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg to its long-standing strategic partner Alsea, the largest independent chain restaurant operator in Latin America. Under the proposal, Alsea would have the rights to operate and develop Starbucks stores in those markets. Starbucks EMEA president Martin Brok said: “This new structure will be the culmination of a long and thoughtful process to simplify our organisation so it can best service our increasingly licensed store market strategy while continuing to embed our mission and values in how we operate every day.” Starbucks opened its first store in Europe 20 years ago and has grown in partnership with strategic licensees to more than 3,200 stores in 43 markets across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Recently the company opened a Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Milan. Meanwhile, Starbucks will open its third standalone Princi bakery in the US, in New York next Thursday (25 October). The new Princi will open on the corner of 51st and Broadway in Paramount Plaza, a 40-storey skyscraper in the Theater District. The launch follows openings in Seattle and Chicago.

Healthy restaurant and dry bar concept Redemption, which raised £363,000 on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube earlier this year for expansion, has secured its third site. The company, founded by Catherine Salway and Andrea Waters, has signed for a site at Neal’s Yard in London’s Seven Dials having agreed a deal with landlord Shaftesbury. The venue will be Redemption’s flagship site and, at 1,650 square foot, the brand’s largest to date when it opens in December. The Seven Dials site will offer exclusive features such as takeaway options and a retail space where visitors can buy merchandise including cookbooks and candles. Salway said: “It is a tremendous step for our brand to have this beautiful space, which gives us the opportunity to exercise our ‘spoil yourself without spoiling yourself’ concept fully.” Redemption’s other sites are in Notting Hill and Shoreditch. Meanwhile, St John Bakery has selected Seven Dials to house its first permanent standalone site. The 550 square foot bakery offers produce made on-site including pastries, sourdough and doughnuts. Julia Wilkinson, portfolio and group restaurant strategy executive at Shaftesbury, said: “Redemption’s creative, healthy and alcohol-free concept is a perfect addition to the eclectic lifestyle mix of shops, restaurants and cafes within Neal’s Yard, while St John’s quirky take on a traditional bakery creates a new element for Seven Dials visitors.” Hanover Green Retail represented Shaftesbury in both deals. Redemption and St John Bakery dealt directly.

Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the BBPAThe Scottish Beer & Pub Association (SBPA) has said a “tourism tax” in Edinburgh would be “bad news” for the city’s pub and beer sector. City of Edinburgh Council is currently consulting on the proposal. SBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds (pictured) said: “In Scotland our industry supports nearly 60,000 jobs and contributes £1.73bn to the economy. It is also a crucial part of the nation’s tourism offer, with a visit to a traditional pub ranking third on the list of things tourists do when they visit. Pubs have faced a number of challenges over the past decade and still face increasing and considerable tax pressures from a range of sources – particularly high beer duty, unfair business rates and VAT. Any introduction of a ‘tourism tax’ in Edinburgh would see tourists having less money to spend in the city and would only add to the challenges. Any introduction must therefore be accompanied by a reduction in tax elsewhere. Surely we should be encouraging rather than discouraging tourists who visit and stay in Edinburgh’s great pubs? On average, every pub contributes £100,000 to its local economy each year and, with tourism such an important backbone to Edinburgh’s economy, a ‘tourism tax’ on one of Edinburgh’s most successful businesses could be bad news for the city.”

Food from Xier, the debut restaurant from chef Carlo Scotto, which is launching in MaryleboneChef Carlo Scotto is to launch his debut restaurant, in Marylebone. Xier will open in Thayer Street, off Oxford Street, in December. The restaurant will be split into two distinct spaces – 62-cover, ground-floor casual dining concept XR, which will offer lunch and dinner menus, and Xier, a 38-cover, first-floor dining room offering an evening tasting menu. XR’s menu will feature dishes such as yellowfin tuna tartar with aubergine caviar and taro chips, while the tasting menu at Xier will include rose-cured salmon with foie gras and burnt figs. The decor will be inspired by Scotto’s experience in kitchens across Europe and Asia. Aged only 13, Scotto took a job as an apprentice chef at Michelin-starred restaurant Don Salvatore in Naples. He moved to London where he worked with Corbin & King before joining Gordon Ramsay’s Michelin-starred Murano under Angela Hartnett, who he credits as his mentor. He then moved to Michelin-starred Galvin La Chapelle before taking his first head chef role, at Italian restaurant Babbo in Mayfair. He said: “London is a place that has brought me incredible opportunities so it felt right to open here and showcase fantastic British produce. I’m excited to open a venue that will take people on their own culinary journey.”

London-based bar and restaurant operator Ciku Holdings has secured the Vinyl Bar in St Paul’s for its fourth site. Agents James A Baker acted on behalf of Marston’s and was able to sub-let the site to Ciku Holdings. William Baker, of James A Baker, said: “We are very pleased at the outcome of this site, which represents a good deal for both our client and the ingoing tenant. I wish the new tenant every success in their project.”

Greene King chief executive Rooney AnandBrewer and retailer Greene King has been recognised for its work with young people by winning the recruitment programme of the year category at this year’s UK Social Mobility Awards. The awards, organised by Making The Leap, were launched last year and recognise businesses that develop new methods to encourage and advance social mobility strategies and conversations in the UK. Greene King partnered with The Prince’s Trust in 2016 and has so far supported almost 240 young people from typically disadvantaged backgrounds. Greene King chief executive Rooney Anand (pictured) said: “Pubs play an important role in the heart of a community and there is great scope for pubs to support disadvantaged and unrepresented people within their local area. Our work with The Prince’s Trust through our Get Into Hospitality programme aims to support this, helping provide unemployed young people with the confidence and skills to move into the workplace and our apprenticeship scheme, and then continuing to develop their career with us.”

BrewDog's site in Canary WharfScottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has opened a bar in Canary Wharf, its tenth venue in London and 70th worldwide. To coincide with the opening the company has launched Hop Exchange, a draught beer sold at a price that reacts to the FTSE 100 Index. An electronic sign above the bar relays the day’s trading results and how it affects the brew’s price. The 300-capacity bar, which has opened in a former Jamie’s Italian in Churchill Place, offers 20 draught lines alongside bottled beer and a burgers and wings menu. The Canary Wharf site is also the company’s first to accept cryptocurrency and joins its venue in Clerkenwell as its second cashless bar. BrewDog co-founder James Watt said: “Our Canary Wharf bar further strengthens London’s claim to be the new craft beer capital of the world. The demand for better beer keeps growing every month and it reaches every community in the city. As more Londoners join the craft beer revolution we’re more than happy to keep opening more bars and quenching their thirst. We’ve always prided ourselves on our desire to keep innovating. We’ve done it with beer, we’ve done it with our business model and now we are championing a new way of paying for a pint.” Earlier this week, the company closed its Equity for Punks V crowdfunding campaign on Crowdcube after raising £26.2m.

Graphite Capital-backed pub restaurant group New World Trading Company (NWTC) has appointed Wi-Fi solutions provider Wireless Social to measure its brand impact through the installation of Presence Analytics across its estate of 25 sites. The five-year agreement will see NWTC use Presence Analytics to monitor customer footfall, visit frequency, and dwell time to analyse the success of brand campaigns. Presence Analytics uses the venue’s Wi-Fi to collect customer data including detailed information on who is entering a venue and the dates, times and frequency. NWTC chief executive Chris Hill said: “With ambitious plans it’s pivotal for us to invest in a platform that provides us with a comprehensive understanding of our guests. Wireless Social and Presence Analytics open up so many opportunities to inform our plans from both a marketing and operational perspective.” Wireless Social managing director Julian Ross added: “Now NWTC will not only be able to see whether campaigns have driven additional footfall into specific venues, it will also be able to use the insight to fully understand the needs of its customers and connect on a personal level.”

Domino'sPeel Hunt leisure analyst Douglas Jack has said Domino’s Pizza is growing cash flow and increasing market dominance in the UK. Issuing a ‘Buy’ note on the shares with a target price of 350p following its third-quarter results, Jack said: “Total UK and Republic of Ireland sales grew 6.0% in the third quarter, with the UK up 6.1% (Republic of Ireland 5.2%). UK like-for-like sales rose 2.2% in the UK, comprising 1.7% volume (minus 1.4% orders; 3.1% items per order) and average prices up 0.5%. The impact of store splits was 2.5%. Total sales were held back by increased site immaturity following last year’s surge in openings. The two-year like-for-like sales figure is now 10.3%, a big increase on the second-quarter’s 6.3%. Innovation is technology-focused. GPS Tracker is now in 603 stores, of which almost all allow customers to track their pizza, benefiting labour efficiency and the customer experience. UK online sales growth (delivery and collection) was up 11.4% in the third quarter and are now at 78.3% of UK system sales. After a record year with 95 openings in 2017 there was naturally a pause in the first half, when 22 stores opened. Some commentators misinterpreted this as franchisees being unhappy. If that were true they would now be joyous having opened 20 stores in the third quarter, with circa 20 more expected in the fourth quarter and 28 different franchisees participating year to date targeting higher-footfall locations. Overseas is expected to return to profit growth in the second half driven by expansion and better cost control, even though like-for-like sales were flat to slightly negative in most countries due to hot weather. UK margins fell ten basis points in the first half and are cautiously forecast to fall 175 basis points in the second half due to the additional operational costs of running the Warrington and Penrith supply chain centres, both in the north of England. However, not only have cheese prices fallen recently, which is good for margins, Warrington is already supplying 281 stores and Penrith is due to be decommissioned in March 2019. We believe this leaves upside to our assumptions of minimal margin growth in 2019E and 2020E. Domino’s confidence is reflected in its decision to increase this year’s share buy-back programme from £50m to £75m, taking net debt/Ebitda to circa 1.75 times. We still forecast the company returning £100m per annum via share buybacks and dividends over the next two years. Given this, growing cash flow, increasing operational efficiency, increasing market dominance in the UK and profitability overseas, we recommend buying the shares at the current ten-year record low price-to-earnings ratio valuation.”

Only A Pavement Away (OAPA), a new industry-led nationwide charity formed to assist the homeless and ex-service personnel get into hospitality careers, has partnered with Acceptcards. The independent payment broker is supporting the OAPA programme by providing a free card payments review for all businesses in the leisure sector. Companies can opt to donate any identified savings to OAPA. The charity was founded by industry consultant Greg Mangham and wife Gill and officially launched earlier this month. Acceptcards chief executive Richard Bradley said: “Given that in every case we’ll be able to identify a saving in pricing or administration costs, or even both, this is a great way to benefit businesses in the leisure sector while providing valuable support to the vital work Greg and his team are doing. Acceptcards will also commit to providing OAPA with a percentage of the income we receive.”

Stonegate Pub Company is to roll out a new menu across its Town, Pub & Kitchen venues from Tuesday (23 October). It will focus on stone-baked sourdough pizza and small plates, with a wider range of vegetarian and vegan options. The new range of pizza will include the Louisiana (pulled pork, hickory-smoked barbecued burnt ends and barbecue pork crumb) and Hello-Me (sliced halloumi and wilted baby spinach). The number of small plates and desserts on the menu will increase, with new offerings including crab and prawn mac ‘n’ cheese bites and duck croquettes. Lunch specials will include new “mix-ups” such as half pizza/half salad and wraps as alternatives for sandwiches. New vegan and vegetarian options based on traditional comfort food will include smoked cheddar and lemon blueberry bites in prosecco syrup. Stonegate marketing manager Liam Wall said: “The new menu is simpler, with a broad customer appeal.” Stonegate Pub Company operates 724 pubs split into two divisions – Branded (Slug and Lettuce, Yates’s, Walkabout, Be At One and Venues); and Traditional (Proper Pubs, Town Pub & Kitchen, Classic Inns and Common Room).

Luke JohnsonPatisserie Holdings bosses could be hauled before parliament following the shock £40m black hole being uncovered in its accounts. Executive chairman Luke Johnson (pictured) is facing calls to account for his governance of the business in parliament. Trading in the company’s shares has been suspended and chief financial officer Chris Marsh was arrested on suspicion of fraud following the discovery last week. The Serious Fraud Office has launched an investigation into what happened. Johnson has since struck a rescue deal with investors to plug the business with £20m – saving its 2,800 staff and 206 Patisserie Valerie cafes. But MPs said management could still be called upon to explain why it did not detect any warning signs. Labour MP Peter Kyle, a member of the business select committee, told the Daily Mail: “Patisserie Valerie’s situation only exemplifies the need for a wholesale look at how we ensure our companies get the right governance and the right external scrutiny, so that shareholders, customers and our broader economy can be reassured that best practice is being followed. We have mostly focused on the big firms so far, such as Carillion and the like, but Patisserie Valerie shows it is not just a problem that exists at big companies.” Grant Thornton, which has audited Patisserie Holdings since 2006, is facing civil legal action over why it failed to spot the problems. The accountancy firm could also face an investigation by the committee, with chairman Rachel Reeves, a Labour MP, saying the firm had serious questions to answer. The auditor pocketed £600,000 in fees in the past four years for its work with Patisserie Holdings. Reeves said: “The rising number of accounting failures undermines trust in business and it’s vital government and regulators take action to ensure that audits provide a true picture of the financial position of the firms they audit, not works of fiction. The audit industry is simply not fit for purpose. The government needs to quickly get a grip of the audit industry if we are to get audits that business, investors, and employees can believe in.” Meanwhile, Johnson’s plans to sell Gail’s Artisan Bakery have reportedly been delayed by Brexit. Last year the company was reported to be exploring options for fresh funding, including a possible sale that could have valued the company as high as £200m. Gail’s Bakery’s parent company Bread Holdings, backed by Johnson, had appointed KPMG to advise on sale options. The auction process was expected to get under way this year but plans have been halted until after the UK leaves the European Union in March 2019, reports the Press Association. Gail’s Bakery opened its first store in London in 2005 and has grown to nearly 40 outlets since Johnson’s investment in 2011.

JollibeeJollibee, the Philippines fast food group, is targeting 25 sites in Britain as it opens its debut UK store. The company has opened the site in London’s Earl’s Court having secured a former Wagamama unit earlier this year. Jollibee, which offers single plates combining fried chicken, tomato spaghetti, beef with gravy and rice, has plans for rapid expansion across Europe. Global chief executive Ernesto Tanmantiong told The Daily Telegraph Jollibee was targeting 25 stores in Britain and 50 across Europe over the next five years. He said: “We see the UK has a very big fried chicken market.” Jollibee Foods Corporation is a $5.2bn market cap company headquartered in Manila. It operates 14 brands across 4,300 outlets worldwide. It is the sixth biggest food service company in the US by virtue of its controlling stake in Smashburger. In September last year it made a $1bn approach for Pret A Manger. The company’s flagship brand is Jollibee itself, which has 1,200 stores. Meanwhile, Tanmantiong shrugged off growing concerns over healthy eating. “We are looking into that as well,” he said. “But customers come to Jollibee for the ‘Chickenjoy’.”

Abokado founder Mark LilleyHealthy eating chain Abokado, which is backed by Kings Park Capital, has reported like-for-like sales up 6% in its current financial year. The announcement comes as the company revealed record profits for the year ending 31 March 2018. Profits increased 24% to £726,000, while site Ebitda increased to £1.7m. Founder and chief executive Mark Lilley (pictured) said: “I am pleased with this set of results, which have been achieved in the toughest market conditions we’ve experienced since we started Abokado. Our formula is simple – everything we do revolves around bringing Londoners the freshest and healthiest options for breakfast and lunch – and it’s great to be getting a resounding thumbs up from our customers. Our current-year sales growth is particularly pleasing as this comes entirely from in-store sales. Delivery still represents a tiny proportion of Abokado’s sales but with the delivery market established and fast growing and with a menu that lends itself extremely well to delivery, we’re excited about the growth opportunity this presents over the coming years.” Abokado, which currently operates 23 sites across the capital, has also revealed it will open its next store, in Hammersmith in November. The company said further sites were under offer and will be announced in due course as management capitalises on opportunities within a weakening property market. Abokado has also announced several key new hires over the past year, underlying its commitment to growth. Lilley added: “Our management and leadership team is now the strongest we’ve enjoyed. The new skills these individuals bring are enabling us to enhance the Abokado customer experience further, attracting new customers and increasing brand loyalty among our existing market. I would like to thank our leadership team and the entire Abokado family who have worked tirelessly to deliver these solid results and cement Abokado’s position as London’s leading healthy grab-and-go brand.”

Food being prepared by female chef in a pubThe pub and bar sector continued to outperform restaurants and casual dining in driving positive social reviews during September, according to Feed It Back’s latest monthly social review tracker. The statistics, which were taken from thousands of social reviews across the restaurant, quick-service restaurant and pub industries, revealed the pub and bar sector’s average social review score rose from 4.1 out of 5.0 in August, to 4.2 in September. Meanwhile, the average score for the restaurant and casual dining sectors remained flat at 4.0. TripAdvisor scores, which moved from an average of 3.9 to 4.0, drove positive reviews for pubs and bars in September, while Google reviews remained flat at 4.2. Facebook moved from 4.3 to 4.4, driven in part by its polarised methodology change last month. In the restaurant and casual dining sectors, TripAdvisor scores stayed at 3.9, with Google also flat at 4.0 and Facebook reviews seeing a positive spike from 4.1 in August to 4.3 in September, again influenced by the methodology change. Across all sectors, Google remained the most prominent channel for feedback with 59% of all social reviews submitted via this platform in September (up from 56% in August). TripAdvisor accounted for 32% of reviews (down from 34% in August) and Facebook just 9% (down from 10% in August). The data revealed time was a key determining factor across all sectors in both positive and negative reviews. In particular, allowing guests time to enjoy their meal without being rushed was a key driver in positive reviews, while waiting times continued to drive negative reviews across all sectors. Feed It Back chief executive Carlo Platia said: “The data clearly reveals pubs and bars are winning the battle with restaurants and casual dining outlets to create positive dining experiences. Google reviews remain the most prominent channel for feedback, a statistic that surprises many operators who focus the lion’s share of their attention on TripAdvisor and, in doing so, miss out on a wealth of vital insight about their business. Elsewhere, last month’s Facebook algorithm change has continued to have an impact on results on the platform. It will be fascinating to see how these numbers fluctuate and have an impact on Facebook’s percentage of reviews as it looks to grow its presence with location-based prompts.” This data is part of a regular report Feed It Back runs across social reviews To sign up for a monthly copy of this report, email

Cabana, the Brazilian barbecue group founded by Jamie Barber and David Ponte, has reported its core estate has returned to growth this year. The company has also signed its first franchise agreement – in Saudi Arabia – and is “entertaining approaches” in three other territories. The details were revealed in Cabana’s latest accounts submitted at Companies House, which saw losses jump to £5.9m as the firm shut underperforming sites. Turnover fell 1.7% to £12,026,376 for the year ending 31 December 2017, compared with £12,234,391 the previous year. Adjusted Ebitda dropped to minus £1,149,087, compared with minus £665,126 the year before. Pre-tax losses increased to £5,879,544, compared with £2,276,609 the year before. This followed a number of impairments, resulting in a charge of £3.62m. In his report accompanying the accounts, Barber said: “In common with most operators in the sector, Cabana faced a challenging period, navigating rising wages, higher input costs resulting from post-Brexit currency changes, business rates revaluation and industry-wide sales pressures. Sales for the year were £12.03m, down 1.7% on the prior year driven by underperformance at some sites, which masked significant growth at others including the 02 Arena. After the year end, two of these underperforming restaurants were sold for lease premiums and one has been closed and an offer is being negotiated. As a result of these actions, a number of impairments have been recognised during the year resulting in a charge of £3.62m (2016: zero). To strengthen the underlying performance of the core business, central overheads have been reduced and are currently running at more than 40% lower than 2016. A new menu strategy geared towards current tastes and trends, including a materially larger range of vegetarian, vegan and non-meat options, has been introduced, which is driving noticeable improvement in performance. Cabana has now signed its first franchise agreement for Saudi Arabia and is entertaining approaches for partnerships in three other territories. Despite the sector pressures, Cabana’s core estate returned to growth in the second quarter of 2018. We remain confident Cabana occupies a popular and differentiated part of the eating-out market and despite all these challenges we continue to consider investing in opening restaurants.”

Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers chief executive Kate NichollsThe sector is facing a £113m business rates “bombshell” following the announcement of September’s inflation figures, UKHospitality has warned. Inflation fell to 2.4% during the month from 2.7% in August, according to the Office for National Statistics. The drop was largely driven by lower prices for food and non-alcoholic drinks. Despite the fall, UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said the sector still faced the hike in business rates next April because of the “outdated system” used to set the tax. She added: “These inflation figures are used to set the annual increase in business rates and our analysis shows thousands of businesses will be hit by rises totalling a £113m bombshell. Hospitality businesses and the millions of jobs they support are in urgent need of help from the chancellor in this month’s Budget. They are increasingly struggling from the effects of a disastrous rates revaluation last year and an archaic tax system that is shutting down the UK’s growth engine and resulting in a bloodbath on our high streets. At a time when consumer confidence is dipping, now is not the time to pile additional costs on a sector that will result in businesses closing their doors, lost jobs and higher prices for hard-pressed consumers. Business rates are an outdated part of our tax system and urgently require reform. We call on the chancellor to announce a freeze in the Budget and introduce a new digital tax to slash the business rates burden on hospitality from April 2020.”

Operators have been urged to be wary of price rises in a number of products critical to Christmas menus on. The autumn 2018 market forecast by buyers Lynx Purchasing has highlighted some of the categories that could suffer. It said turkey prices were expected to be volatile this year, reflecting the wider poultry market. Problems in Brazil, expected increases in feed costs and trade arrangements, and high demand in Europe will all have an impact on poultry prices in the run-up to the festive period. Meanwhile, beef prices have moved steadily upwards this year after a cold winter followed by a hot, dry summer hit feed prices. Potatoes and potato products are both expected to see higher prices this autumn and winter as a result of planting being delayed by the cold spring weather. North Sea salmon prices are down from their highest point this year but still well above 2017 levels. Elsewhere, the forecast said dairy inflation has seen UK butter prices increase 50% in the first half of the year and, while prices have stabilised to an extent, they are still higher than many operators will have budgeted for. Cream and full fat milk have also seen price increase due to the higher fat content. Eggs are also expected to continue to increase in price as producers pass on higher feed costs. Lynx Purchasing managing director Rachel Dobson said: “We suggest using menu descriptions such as ‘served with seasonal vegetables’ to maintain flexibility and being ready to switch supplier contracts to get the best prices on commodities such as cooking oil.” The forecast also urges operators to take steps now to “Brexit-proof” their businesses in advance of the UK’s exit from the EU. These include using suppliers that source from the UK or outside the EU and design menus that can be changed quickly and cost-effectively.

Demand is growing for exotic, organic and gluten-free sauces as consumers’ appetite for new flavours continues to rise, according to new research. The annual survey by food company Mizkan revealed more than one in three opt for exotic sauces over British varieties when trying something new, with 35 to 54-year-olds more likely to be adventurous in their choices than millennials. The research also showed consumers are turning towards more natural accompaniments, with one-quarter actively looking for organic sauces compared with one-fifth in 2017.  More than one-fifth (22%) request gluten-free options, up from 19%. Almost four-fifths (89%) would be willing to try a new sauce if given the opportunity – an increase of 6% on 2017 – with this number rising to 93% among 16 to 34-year-olds. Almost one-third (30%) would be put off a restaurant that didn’t have a wide range of sauces, while ketchup (58%) and mayonnaise (52%) were the most requested sauces for a second year in a row. New to the results was malt vinegar (40%) in third place. When it comes to chicken, 39% of consumers listed piri-piri sauce as their favourite followed by chilli sauce (32%). With a focus on more environmentally friendly packaging, the amount of sauces served in bottles has increased 7% year-on-year as consumers drive a change away from sachets. Jenny Tran, brand manager for Branston Foodservice, said: “Our research has revealed a clear demand for new and exciting flavours. Operators should be looking to capitalise on this, utilising trends from around the globe. That said, it’s still important for restaurants to stock more traditional sauces and a broad variety will help to keep all consumers happy.”

Peel Hotels has reported turnover fell 6.4% to £8,096,128 in the 28 weeks ended 12 August 2018, compared with £8,648,145 the previous year. Ebitda decreased 42.0% to £649,534, compared with £1,119,749 the year before. Profit before tax was down to £8,972, compared with £319,293 the previous year. Revpar decreased 3.1%, occupancy was down 6.4% while average room rate was up 3.5%. Chairman Robert Peel said: “The comparative shortfall in Ebitda in the first three periods will be difficult to make up by the end of the financial year. However sales have now stabilised and for the first time in many periods increased in the current period, ended 7 October 2018. Ebitda is broadly neutral from a comparative point of view over the past three periods to 7 October 2018. If we can consistently achieve increases in sales, our profits will quickly return to growth. We have recently signed up a marketing agreement with Best Western Hotels and hope to derive additional sales benefit from this partnership going forward.”

Air Haus logoAir Haus, the UK’s first interactive inflatable park, will make its debut at the Meadowhall shopping centre in Sheffield this autumn. Designed in Holland, Air Haus will combine the latest interactive technology with “competitive games suitable for all ages”. The 15,000 square foot site will challenge visitors to race each other across its course, scale the park’s eight-metre peak, and then relax under sensory lights. An on-site restaurant will complete the Air Haus offer. Air Haus director Jack Pendlebury said: “Air Haus offers a new and exciting concept for families and friends to enjoy, bringing the very best of technology and traditional games together. Meadowhall’s recent £60m refurbishment has made it the perfect location to launch our UK debut site and we are proud to join such a great venue.” Richard Crowther, asset manager for British Land, which owns Meadowhall, added: “Air Haus’ selection of Meadowhall for the UK’s first interactive inflatable park highlights Meadowhall’s position as a leading retail and leisure destination in the country.” Colliers International acted for British Land and Air Haus dealt direct.

Merseyside-based operator Mikhail Investments is aiming to open 20 venues in the next three years for its Irish-themed bar concept Punch Tarmey’s on the back of strong growth. Punch Tarmey’s is named after company owner Andrew Mikhail’s Irish great-grandfather Michael Tarmey, who was a champion boxer in the early 1900s. Mikhail recently opened the third Punch Tarmey’s, within the former Cains brewery in Liverpool, and believes there is scope for wider expansion. He told The Business Desk: “I have seen countless Irish pubs that have popped up over the years and the only Irish thing about them was the name. Any Irish person that goes into one of our venues always says, ‘this feels like home’, which can only build the brand reputation on a solid footing. I admire Tim Martin and how he created JD Wetherspoon. He took on the industry and changed the pub game almost overnight – the man is a legend. He saw an opportunity, took it and smashed it.” Mikhail Investments also operates Punch Tarmey’s in St Helens and Southport. Mikhail said the plan was to hit “all the big cities” in the next three years. The company’s portfolio also incudes the Bold Hotel in Southport and the Eccleston Arms in St Helens.

Yapster, the mobile messaging app for retail and hospitality teams, has appointed Nicci Setchell as its first chief financial officer. She will also take on chief operating officer responsibilities in a joint role. Setchell joins from Just Eat, where she spent the past six years, most recently as global strategic lead. Before that she was head of finance, mergers and acquisitions, and integration, completing 18 acquisitions. She grew the international finance team from eight to 24 across 12 countries. Her other prior roles include international financial controller for NFL Europe and management accountant for Tottenham Hotspur. Yapster, whose customers include Caffe Nero and Krispy Kreme, recently raised a further round of funding from private investors to meet growing demand. Setchell is responsible for all financial planning and reporting as well as building the team and infrastructure to achieve significant scale over the next 18 months. Setchell said: “When I was introduced to Yapster I was struck by the quality of the team, the brands already on board, and the potential market size for technology that serves the ‘deskless’ workers in our economy. We want to become a category leader and I’m excited to be taking on this new challenge and helping us get there.” Co-founder and chief executive Rob Liddiard added: “I can’t imagine someone better suited to this job than Nicci – we’re all thrilled to have her on board. Not only does she bring a wealth of financial, operational, and leadership experience, she knows exactly what it takes to achieve Just Eat’s level of success.”

People & Training ConferenceThe People and Training Conference, organised by the British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) in association with Propel, is open for bookings. The event, which will showcase outstanding people culture among companies in the sector takes place at Bafta Piccadilly on Tuesday, 20 November. Speakers will feature BII chairman Anthony Pender; Susan Martindale, human resources director of Mitchells & Butlers; Charley O’Toole, head of HR at Bill’s; Edward Barlow, managing director of 16 Hospitality; Kenny Blair, managing director of Buzzworks Holdings; Jamie Campbell, chief commercial officer of online training and staff engagement business CPL Online, which is now part of CGA; Rob Liddiard, founder of hospitality chat app Yapster; Joe Cripps, managing director and founder of Trail; Colonel Mike Tanner, commandant of the Royal Marines Commando Training Centre; and Linda Moir, who created the customer services strategy at the London Olympics and was director of customer services at Virgin Atlantic. Propel managing director Paul Charity will also talk to JD Wetherspoon founder Tim Martin about his “people philosophy”, touching on rewards, longevity, inclusiveness, training and applying his time to the front end of retail. Tickets are £65 plus VAT for operators who are BII members and BIIAB members and £200 plus VAT for operators who are non-BII members. Supplier tickets are £95 plus VAT for BII members and BIIAB members and £245 plus VAT for all other organisations. To book, email

The Restaurant Marketer & Innovator Awards has been launched. The awards, in their second year, recognise outstanding marketing and innovation in the sector. Finalists will be invited to an awards ceremony, which will be held at Cafe de Paris in London on Thursday, 17 January, which is the grand finale of the Restaurant Marketer & Innovator European Summit, which takes place over two days. Awards are open to any eating or drinking out brand or outlet in Europe. There are 13 categories – Integrated Campaign of the Year, Digital Campaign of the Year, Innovation of the Year, Launch Campaign of the Year, Best Use of Technology, Best New Website, Best Use of Video, Best New/Improved Visual Identity, Best Use of Social Media, Best Use of Research/Insight/Data, Marketer of the Year, Innovator of the Year and Future Marketing Leader of the Year. Propel managing director Paul Charity said: “We launched this event last year and had 850 people, coming from across Europe, attend over the various segments. The awards recognise the very best within the spheres of foodservice marketing and innovation.” Awards co-founder James Hacon (pictured) added: “We’re back after a stellar inaugural awards in 2018 that attracted more than 90 entries. We set out creating the awards to recognise the growing importance of marketing, innovation and strategy professions within the restaurant and foodservice sector. We saw a superb calibre last year and have amazing momentum with our events throughout the year. We’re expecting an even more impressive list of entrants this year.” Entries are now open. The closing date is 11.59pm on Monday, 5 November. Entry information and criteria can be found here.

Propel and Think Hospitality are launching the Immersive Experiences Conference, designed to bring together the community of operators, landlords and investors in the UK’s emerging immersive experiences sector. The half-day event takes place on Friday, 9 November at One Moorgate Place in London and is open for bookings. James Hacon, of Think Hospitality, will provide an overview of global innovation and trends in creating immersive experiences. Virgin Experience Days will outline its overview of the immersive experience sector, sharing key trends and potential growth areas. Matt Greco-Smith (pictured), co-founder of Swingers, will talk about the company’s progress opening two crazy golf venues in London, its food and beverage model and plans to open in New York. Frankie Edwards, head of the Jamie Oliver Cook School, will share how it has maximised sales from a large site through the addition of a hands-on cooking experience, effectively representing one of the UK’s most successful celebrity chefs. Jozef Youssef, founder and chef at Kitchen Theory, will discuss the principles of experience design in gastronomy based on joint research into the field with the University of Oxford. Tiffany Ng, co-founder and chief executive of RSVP, founder of Silver.Spoon, and co-founder and partner of Vinatic, will talk about the global pop-up and underground dining scene, and share her learnings of driving awareness and commercial returns from her experience running an online booking platform for the sector and a number of branded experiences in Copenhagen. Toby Harris, chief executive of Social Entertainment Venues, will introduce its concepts, share how it has differentiated from key competitors and where it sees the growth opportunities for its brands. Propel managing director Paul Charity said: “With consumers now demanding truly memorable experiences, the immersive market has become a key battleground for operators in an ever-challenging environment. This conference will provide valuable insight into making the most of that opportunity.” Tickets are £345 plus VAT for operators, £445 plus VAT for suppliers, and £295 plus VAT for Propel Premium subscribers. To book a place, email or call 01444 817691.

Propel Multi ClubA new speaker has been added to the schedule for the Propel Multi-Club conference on Thursday 1 November. Daniel Davies, founder of CPL Training and chairman of the Institute of Licensing, will outline his plans to breathe new life into his local coastal community with his latest venture Rock Point Leisure. Multi-site operators of pubs, restaurants and foodservice outlets can book up to two free places by emailing Anne Steele at The other speakers are James Nye, managing director of award-winning, nine-strong Anglian Country Inns; Matt Snell, managing director of 19-strong Gusto; Good Life Eatery founder Yasmine Larizadeh; John Upton, former managing director of Leon, member of the McDonald’s UK leadership team and now board member of Motherclucker and Naked Deli; Mark Jones, chief executive of Carluccio’s; Joe Grossman, founder of 12-strong Patty & Bun; David Singleton, area vice-president, franchise operations and development EMEA/south Asia, Hard Rock International; Christie & Co managing director of pubs and restaurants Neil Morgan; Zonal marketing director Clive Consterdine; Andrew Ball, of sector accountancy specialist haysmacintyre; and Martin Dinkele, deputy managing director of Morar HPI.

The Icon award recognising outstanding contribution to the sector was given to Tokyo Industries managing director Aaron Mellor, at Dusk 'til Dawn 2018

Dusk ’til Dawn

8th October 2018

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Propel Quarterly Autumn 2018

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