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Nicholls – unless government fixes rent issue all good work will be lost

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitalityUKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls has said unless the government fills in the last piece of the jigsaw – rent – all its good work so far will be lost.

Speaking as part of Propel’s “navigating the coronavirus” series, Nicholls said there was active dialogue with the government regarding rent but it remained the “big unfinished business”.

She said: “The nettle the government hasn’t been willing to grasp is rent. There’s still wishful thinking the market will deliver the solutions but there’s a growing realisation it won’t because of the accumulated liabilities that have built up and, to me, that remains the biggest single issue. You have to link it to jobs.”

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Red's True BarbecueTokyo Industries-owned smokehouse brand Red’s True Barbecue has launched a site in Greater Manchester featuring a new takeaway model, Propel has learned.

The business, which is led by James Douglas and Scott Munro, has opened the site for takeaway and delivery, available through UberEats and Deliveroo, in Wilmslow Road, Fallowfield.


To read the rest of this story and the whole of our latest Morning Briefing, CLICK HERE 
Pret A Manger logoPret A Manger, the JAB Holdings-backed company, has announced the closure of 17 of its US sites, in Boston and Chicago.
Outside of a University of Chicago site, the move sees the chain exit both markets. It is thought sales across Pret’s US locations have fallen 87% year-on-year during the pandemic. It has so far reopened 51 stores across New York, Washington DC and Philadelphia in recent weeks, and expanded delivery options with Grubhub and Seamless.
“It’s a sad day for the whole Pret family, and I’m devastated we will be losing team members,” Pret chief executive Pano Christou said in a statement. “But we must make these changes to adapt to the new retail environment. Our goal now is to bring Pret to more people, through different channels and in new ways, enabling us to grow once more in the medium term.
“We cannot defy gravity and continue with the business model we had before the pandemic. That is why we have adapted our business and found new ways to reach our customers. While Pret may look and feel different in the short term, one thing I know is we will come through this crisis and have a bright future if we take the right steps today.”
In the UK, the company is currently undertaking a restructuring process and has already closed 30 sites.
Parogon Group's new commis chefs following their work experience programme, from left: Jack Wall, Wiktor Pocalunand Kyle Johnson-CooperStaffordshire-based Parogon Group has experienced “buoyant” trading figures for the initial three weeks following the lifting of lock-down restrictions and said it has the finances in place to take advantage of the expected opportunities in the market place.
The company said all seven sites are open and sales are in excess of those achieved in the same period last year and several sites are showing double-digit like-for-like growth.
Managing director Richard Colclough said: “Our sites and brand have proved resilient to the worst challenges that covid-19 have thrown at us. Destination dining in large, well-spaced venues with attractive outside seating have allowed us to capitalise on the appetite to safely socialise from customers, successfully spreading peak demand across the week.”
The company said bookings for August so far, during which the government-backed Eat Out To Help Out scheme will take place, suggested a minimum of an additional £250,000 of revenue during the month. The concise but “attractive” menus put in place since reopening have allowed the business to operate with smaller teams and reduced labour costs.
With a full debt restructure with Santander made during the closure period, £2m secured through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and a swift return to previous trade levels, Colclough believes the group is well placed to take advantage of the expected opportunities that will be available over the next 12 months.
He added: “We have the finance in place to allow us to execute our short-term goals for the business and will potentially be considering other investment to accelerate growth should the expected market place shake out materialise and our outperformance continue.”
Qoot Restaurant Group, which operates a number of fast-growing brands in London, has said it plans new concepts in place of The Dominique Ansel Treehouse and Dominique Ansel Bakery sites. Last week Qoot announced Dominique Ansel Treehouse in Covent Garden will not reopen while Dominique Ansel Bakery will shut on Monday, 31 August. But Qoot has revealed it has plans in place for both locations.
The company stated: “Qoot has exciting plans for both of our locations in Elizabeth Street, Belgravia and Floral Street, Covent Garden. We have already launched the ‘Floral Street Coffee House’ pop-up, which will run throughout the summer, ahead of launching a long-term offering later this year. We will announce what is to come over the coming weeks.”
Ansel previously said: “London has been so wonderful and so supportive to us. Unfortunately, our licenser has told us, in the light of the ongoing restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, it does not think it will be possible to continue operating either location profitably.”
To mark its final month, Dominique Ansel Bakery will be serving up items specially created by Ansel to honour the moment, including The Last Cronut – a milk chocolate and banana cronut filled with milk chocolate and banana ganache and whipped peanut butter ganache, and topped with icing and a banana chip.
StarbucksStarbucks has reported it has reopened seating areas in 30% of its US company-operated stores, which directly resulted in steady like-for-like sales improvement from minus 65% in April to minus 16% by the end of June.
The company also revealed more about how it will accelerate its plan to pivot to new, express-style store formats. Meanwhile, Starbucks rewards members grew 17% in its third quarter and mobile ordering increased 22%.
During the company’s third-quarter earnings call, chief executive Kevin Johnson said: “We are having great success bringing new customers on to the app and into the rewards programme. We will build on this momentum in the autumn when we introduce a new pay-as-you-go option for Starbucks Rewards members in the US and Canada. This significant new addition will open up an invitation to join Starbucks Rewards to a much wider audience.”
Johnson said the company was continuing to see improvements in the number of customers visiting during the morning peak period. Besides a 25% growth in average transaction value – mostly down to more group orders – many consumers are buying Starbucks coffee to make at home. Sales of packaged coffee grew 21% during the third quarter, outpacing beverage sales. Kerbside pick-up has already been tested at 250 stores and Starbucks plans to grow that number to 1,000 as “soon as possible”.
As announced in June, Starbucks is accelerating its plan to pivot to new, express-style store formats, with a goal of closing 400 stores in the next 18 months to be replaced with delivery and pick-up stores.
Johnson said: “Each of these Starbucks Pick-up stores will ideally be located within a three to five-minute walk from a traditional Starbucks store, giving customers the flexibility to enjoy their drink in our store or on the go. We plan to accelerate the development of more than 50 of these stores during the next 12 months to 18 months, with a view to have several hundred in the US in the next three years to five years.”
Simon Emeny, chief executive of Fuller’sFuller’s has estimated the cost of coronavirus on trading at in excess of £10m. The company reported over 75% of its managed pubs and hotels and almost all tenanted inns have already reopened. It said it was ‘too early to draw meaningful conclusions for the longer term, but (it was) comfortable with current levels of trade’.
Chief executive Simon Emeny (pictured) said: “When we released our interim statement in December 2019, we were on track to finish the financial year in a good position having received the proceeds from the sale of the Fuller’s Beer Business and with a clear future path laid out before us.
It had been a transformational year for Fuller’s – but we would never have anticipated that we would end it in March with the whole hospitality industry in a state of closure and with no income stream. Against this backdrop, it is easy to forget that the financial year started in April 2019 with the sale of the Fuller’s Beer Business to Asahi Europe Ltd for an enterprise value of £250 million, followed in October 2019 by the acquisition of Cotswold Inns & Hotels – seven stunning hotels in the heart of the Cotswolds – from existing bank facilities.
The decision to sell the Fuller’s Beer Business at that time has proved fortuitous and ensured we were in a strong position, with substantial liquidity headroom, when the coronavirus pandemic struck. While it is still early days, it is pleasing to see our teams welcoming guests back and we have taken a range of actions and measures to ensure our pubs are safe and inviting. The first stage of our three stage plan saw 27 pubs open on 4 July 2020 and another 136 since – meaning over 75% of our managed pubs and hotels are now open.
“Almost all our tenanted inns have also reopened. While it is too early to draw any meaningful conclusions, we are comfortable with the level of trade and we continue to monitor footfall in those areas where our pubs are not yet open. While we are prepared for business, particularly in London, to take some time to return to normal, we are well placed to satisfy the uptick in demand for staycations as many customers holiday closer to home – an opportunity we are supporting with marketing activity for our Beautiful Bedrooms. We continue to focus on minimising cash burn and returning to profitability.
“During August, we will gradually reintroduce rent for Tenants – but on a tapered basis to help with their own return to sustainable trading levels. In these uncertain times, it is challenging to accurately predict the future. But having begun reopening our pubs nearly four weeks ago, it is encouraging to see customers returning to our pubs and this steady growth in consumer confidence will be the key to success – not just of our company or our industry but the economy as a whole.
“We have a well-balanced estate geographically and that, combined with a freehold asset base and the calibre of our people, puts us in a stronger position than many to build towards sustained profitability in this full year and a strong start to the FY2022 financial year. A freehold approach is a fundamental foundation of our long-term business. It is not always fashionable, but yet again it underpins our ability to survive the toughest of times. We are proud to be 175 years old this year and with our balanced and well-invested estate, prudent approach to finance and amazing team of dedicated people, we will still be here for generations to come.”
The company reported profit before tax of £174.5m in the 52 weeks ended 28 March having sold its beer division to Asahi for an enterprise value of £250m in April 2019. The company has also sold the freehold of The Castle, Acton for £10.3m.
London-based, Japanese restaurant business K10 has become the latest casualty as covid-19 continues to hurt the UK’s hospitality sector. The company has instructed insolvency practitioners to assist in putting companies within the group into creditors voluntary liquidation (CVL), Propel has learned.
The directors of K10, which was founded in 1999 and operates five sites in the City, have been working with adviser Begbies Traynor. It has subsequently instructed insolvency and business recovery company Yerrill Murphy to assist in the proposed liquidations as central London-based operators continue to be hit by lack of footfall. The K10 trading subsidiaries will all enter a CVL as “soon as possible”.
K10 founder Chris Kemper said: “We are extremely sorry for the disappointment, loss and impact our CVL will have on our team members, suppliers and creditors. We have team members who have been with K10 for over 15 years and suppliers who have been with us for longer. This will have a devastating effect on all involved.”
In addition to its five sites, K10 had three sites in the pipeline before the pandemic, with legals almost complete on two of them. Those deals were pulled in the first week of lock-down. A company spokesman said 2020 was set to be the year in which K10 transformed from a restaurant company to a food-to-go firm. K10 was also due to open its first site outside the City of London, in September.
The spokesman said: “We examined every possible way of raising funds. We had a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan approved but decided to forgo it as it wouldn’t allow us to carry out any form of restructuring. We have since been in discussions with several potential funders but, given the City is a ghost town with current tenant occupancy rates of about 10%, no-one would commit the funds required. It’s clear from conversations with landlords and our corporate customer base the City is unlikely to pick up significantly before spring 2021.”
K10 has industry veteran Ian Neill as chairman, industry investor Maurice Abboudi as a director and Chrysalis VCT as an investor.
Former Flip Out managing director Elliott Shuttleworth has launched an adventure bar franchise in Norwich and told Propel he is in talks over six further sites in the UK.
The concept, Boom: Battle Bar, has opened in Norwich’s Castle Quarter and offers axe-throwing, electronic darts, beer pong, nine-hole mini-golf, giant shuffleboard, boules, pool and arcade games. The urban-themed bar spans 10,000 square feet across four previously unused units. The 200-capacity venue is currently limited to 150 guests because of social distancing guidelines.
Shuttleworth, who is based in Stoke-on-Trent and has further experience in gyms and leisure parks, said: “I have learned about creating amazing customer experiences and that’s what’s at the heart of Boom: Battle Bars. Plans are already in an advanced stage to roll out the franchise to London, Liverpool, Oxford, Cambridge, Newcastle and Hull.”
Store franchisee David Moore, who also owns Congo Rapids adventure golf in Norwich and Suffolk, added: “We are thrilled to be part of this special project. It’s the first one in the country and we’re proud it’s in Norwich – a huge first for the town. Boom: Battle Bar has it all, brilliant social activities as well as bringing new games to the city centre. This will be the number-one place in Norwich to socialise and create fun, lasting memories. The floor space is amazing. I’ve never seen anything like it!”
The venue also offers non-alcoholic drinks, Boom: Battle Bar beer on tap, a gin range, cider and cocktails.
Nando'sNando’s has reopened a further 42 of its UK sites for dine-in and said it would take part in the government’s Eat Out To Help Out scheme next month. The 42 reopenings include Crawley, Dalston, Milton Keynes, Portsmouth and Telford. The company initially reopened ten of its UK sites for dine-in on 8 July, with new health and safety measures in place.
In a message to customers, the company stated: “We have made sure all our tables are spaced out in line with social distancing and we’ve got a virtual queue in place so you just need to scan a QR code to enter it when you arrive and we’ll text you when your table is ready. We’re also offering a slightly reduced menu for now and we’ve also gone cashless. We’ll bring everything to your table too, including drinks, sauces and cutlery.”
Nando’s told customers the 50% offer under the government scheme would only be available at its dine-in restaurants. It also said there would be a £10 maximum redemption per person, per transaction on the offer, while it couldn’t be used with any other discount.
TGI Friday's NewcastleElectra Private Equity has reported that TGI Fridays sites have exceeded expectations since re-opening.
The company stated: “TGI Fridays now has 71 of its 85 stores fully open with a further nine being reopened within the next week. The remaining stores will reopen as location specific circumstances develop (e.g. at event driven destinations such as the London O2). Throughout the phased reopening to date the level of trading activity has exceeded our expectations.
“Whilst the future trading environment remains highly uncertain with many competitors yet to re-open, the year on year sales performance and weekly sales progression that we have seen since reopening, combined with the excess capacity that has come out of the market and the early reaction to the new initiatives being implemented by Fridays, give us grounds for optimism.
“Fridays’ chief executive, Robert Cook and his team are implementing a development strategy in response to a detailed review of customers’ aspirations which has an increased focus on consistent quality, provenance, simplification and point of relevance. The ‘click and collect’ channel successfully launched in May marked the first of a series of brand and channel developments that will be launched in the coming months. Fridays has acquired two new sites (Cobham and Lincoln) at attractive prices that will open in the fourth quarter and continues to explore other opportunities for measured expansion.”
Abokado managing director Kara AlderinKara Alderin, who stepped down as managing director of London-based healthy eating chain Abokado earlier this month, has joined London pub retailer Young’s, Propel has learned.
Alderin, who spent over two and a half years at Abokado, has joined Young’s as its new director of operations. She initially joined the 19-strong Abokado as operations director in early 2018 after almost nine years at Fuller’s. She was promoted into the newly created role of managing director in March 2019, taking overall responsibility for the day-to-day running of Abokado.
She also took a position on the company’s board. Abokado said it currently had no plans to fill the managing director’s role. Young’s began the phased reopening of its managed house estate on 17 July. The Patrick Dardis-led business reopened six pubs – The Adam & Eve in Fitzrovia; The Red Barn in Lingfield; The Northcote near Clapham Junction; the Leather Bottle in Earlsfield; the Cutty Sark in Greenwich and the Clock House in East Dulwich.
The company said a phased reopening would give the business a chance to trial its service cycle and fully-integrated “on tap” app. Young’s previously said it was eyeing reopening its pubs on Monday, 3 August although some larger pubs with gardens could open in mid-July. Late last month the company reported the completion of an equity issue raising gross proceeds of £88.4m.
McDonald's CEO Chris KempczinskiMcDonald’s is preparing to spend a “sizeable marketing war chest” in the second half of 2020, as it aims to boost growth and speed up its recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
The company posted a 23.9% year-on-year fall in like-for-like sales for the second quarter ended 30 June, dragged down by international markets including the UK where its restaurants were closed for almost three months. In the US like-for-like sales fell 8.7% as most locations were able to stay open with drive-thru and delivery options.
McDonald’s said the vast majority of its restaurants – about 96% – have now reopened and it believes its strong presence in drive-thru, delivery and digital position it well to rebound from coronavirus. To boost that rebound, McDonald’s plans to increase marketing spend. It cut investment in most markets in the first half of the year.
Marketing spend and value activity, for example, was down 70% in the US as the company “chose to conserve resources until the situation stabilised”, according to chief executive Chris Kempczinski (pictured). It now plans to “reinvest” in marketing in the third and fourth quarters, including an incremental $200m in US and international markets to “accelerate recovery”. That, said Kempczinski, is equal to one additional month of media in every owned market. “We have amassed a sizeable marketing war chest to invest in the back half of 2020,” said Kempczinski in an investor call “[There will be a] sizeable increase in marketing spend in the balance of the year.”
The majority will be spent on core menu items and service opportunities such as digital ordering and delivery, rather than innovations. McDonald’s is planning to launch some menu items, particularly in the US, in the second half but said the focus is on the main business. Its marketing spend will also look to position McDonald’s for any economic recession, which Kempczinski said is a bigger concern among consumers now than health.
While McDonald’s has previously proved “pretty resilient” through recessionary times, a focus on affordability and value in its marketing mix will be important, he said. Looking ahead, McDonald’s strategy will focus on the three “Ds” – delivery, drive-thru and digital – where it expects the biggest opportunities for growth.
Greggs chief executive Roger WhitesideRoger Whiteside, chief executive of food-to-go retailer Greggs, has said the pandemic has accelerated trends it was “already seeing”. As a result, the company will roll out click and collect across its estate and extend delivery by the end of autumn.
During a press call following the company’s interim results, Whiteside said the group would continue to make use of the furlough scheme until it ended in October to give the “best possible chance” for customer demand to increase and prevent job cuts. About 25% of employees remain on furlough.
Whiteside said: “As demand hopefully continues to rise, we’ll be able to bring more people back.” Greggs’ delivery partnership with Just Eat will be extended to 250 shops and cover about 150 towns and cities. Whiteside is also keen to extend its supermarket concessions – it operates four sites with Asda – and add more drive-thrus.
Whiteside said: “Coronavirus has accelerated trends we were already seeing. People were being more flexible where they worked, for instance, but now more are working from home. I don’t think everyone will continue to do so in the long term – creativity will suffer otherwise. Brainstorming ideas doesn’t work as well in a digital environment as it does in a physical one – you need that to spark off one another. The pandemic has changed our priorities.
“We still want to look at dine-in and continue to bring new products to the menu but in the current climate those things are going to have to wait. Right now we are concentrating on getting all the customer favourites back so we think it will be next year before there are new additions to the menu. We continue to focus on delivery and click and collect, therefore our efforts to serve people later into the day will be around those channels rather than opening shops for dine-in longer.”
Whiteside also shed more light on the current trading situation. Having earlier revealed sales had hit 72% of 2019 levels, Whiteside said those sites accessed by car were at circa 85% of last year’s level and more than 70% in towns and suburbs. The areas where its estate had less exposure – city centres and transport locations – were trading at about 55% and 30% respectively compared with 2019. However, they make up only 14% of the portfolio.
Greggs is also working with its banks to secure a new revolving credit facility for the medium and long term and to help the business in the event of a second national lock-down. Finance director Richard Hutton said while the company was still working on the figures, it would probably not be as much as the £150m borrowed under the government’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility.
Whiteside also said he welcomed the government’s new measures to tackle obesity and pointed out while the company “might be famous for those things that need to be eaten in moderation”, its balanced choice range was the “largest in the food-to-go sector”. He added: “We remain confident about our long-term prospects and growth of the business.”
Jeremy King, co-founder, Corbin & KingCorbin & King co-founder Jeremy King (pictured) has told customers trading has been better than expected since reopening.
In a newsletter, he stated: “I get asked a lot whether we can make it work at our current occupancy. The truth is that over these three weeks we have traded above what we expected – but at the same time varying between 50-70% of last year. Very encouraging but clearly we need to go beyond these levels to achieve any sustained significant profitability and try to pay off all those rent arrears and other accrued debts!
“Landlords have been generally supportive but it only goes so far and I have one who refuses to concede a single penny and is relentless in his pursuit of full rents even though covered by insurance. One thing for certain is that this pandemic has brought out both the best and worst in people. The Wolseley has surprised many with its apparent rapid return to normality and whist it might be easier to find a breakfast table than before I is surprisingly well-attended in the absence of business guests.
“With all the restaurants it is worth looking out for changes though which revolve around greater accessibility and even more enhanced value. Meanwhile Colbert slipped back into its ‘terrace & Rosé driven’ comparative languor as though nothing had happened and whilst Zédel was always potentially a concern because of the sheer size and need for so many guests it is gaining momentum. We decided against opening at lunch other than at the weekend and it is now really lively and buzzing aided and abetted by the lifting of the ban on live music a fantastic energy prevails both in the bars and brasserie.
“The toughest decision was whether to open Fischer’s or Soutine and in the end we went for the more established Fischer’s. Although the trading has been excellent we kept thinking that maybe we could have plumped for Soutine too – what with the Congestion Charge factor. So, with gratifying local pressure exerted, we have opened Soutine after all and have been rewarded by a wonderful response from the denizens of St John’s Wood and beyond.
“It just remains for The Delaunay to join the party but we do need to ascertain some life in Aldwych first. But there is another reopening on the horizon – one that seems to have not only pleasantly surprised the residents of Islington but has also caught their imagination. After last Summer’s closure Bellanger was due to be sold but two deals fell through pre-lockdown so what with more workers keen to stay home we have been able to ‘scratch an itch’ that has bothered us since we closed the doors. Were we too precipitous in closing and should we have tried changing the offer and having another go? Well that question has now been asked by way of a survey of the database and some 4,000 local customers have responded with a resounding ‘Yes!’.
“The new version is best described as more akin to Zédel in terms of menu and price. Whilst it will remain familiar to our old regulars the décor will take a new turn and the overall feeling will be one of cheaper prices, more fun, and greater casualness – but all in the Corbin & King style. We are looking forward to the challenge and aim to open 14 August under the careful control of our popular previous General Manager – Jo Cromwell – Islington born and bred.”
Jonathan Lawson, chief executive of The Liberation GroupChannel Islands and West Country-based brewer and retailer Liberation Group has restructured its management team, a move that has created two new roles and led to Christine Oxford leaving her role as managing director of the company’s Tenanted Pubs arm.
Jayson Perfect has been appointed group managing director Liberation Pubs and Inns, which covers the Managed and Tenanted divisions. Marc McGuigan has been appointed group managing director Liberation Brewing and Drinks, covering the UK and Channel Islands. Tim Hubert, managing director of Victor Hugo, and Dave Robilliard, managing director of Bucktrouts, will report directly into McGuigan but continue to remain part of Liberation’s senior team.
After three years with Liberation, Oxford will leave the company following the restructure and redundancy of her position. Liberation said Oxford had not only made a “significant impact on the Tenanted pub business” but had “directly contributed to the culture and energy of the group and had been a passionate advocate of the potential within our own brewed products”.
Liberation Group chief executive Jonathan Lawson (pictured) said: “These are challenging times and we’ve had to make some difficult decisions. However, I’m confident these changes will enable us to respond quickly to our customers, make decisions swiftly and focus on execution. We have ambitious plans for all parts of our business and that ambition hasn’t been diminished by the difficulties faced during the past few months.
“Our reopenings are progressing ahead of plan and the response to our revitalised range of beers from both breweries has been really encouraging. As expected, certain trends we saw developing before lock-down have accelerated – demand for local food and drink, staycations and personalised service. With our award-winning food and drink offer our pub estate in the Channel Islands and the UK is well positioned to take advantage of those trends.”
Alistair Darby, chief executive of BrainsWelsh brewer and retailer SA Brain has launched an additional package for its pub partners to support them “all the way into 2021”. Measures include a phased rent plan, discounted draught pricing and an enhanced staff training programme.
The move comes ahead of venues in Wales being allowed to open fully on Monday, 3 August. Brains said it would initially reopen 40 of its managed pubs on the day and expects the majority of its 60 partners to follow suit.
Chief executive Alistair Darby (pictured) said: “As we entered lock-down we suspended all rent for our partners and our intention is to support them all the way into 2021 as they adapt to the ‘new normal’ and its impact on trading. Our support is tailored to give us flexibility to ensure our partners’ businesses and our own business will be sustainable in the long term.”
Founded in 1882, Brains operates more than 160 pubs in Wales and recently moved into its multimillion-pound Dragon Brewery in Cardiff Bay. Brains decided not to reopen its managed pubs on Monday, 13 July when hospitality businesses in Wales were allowed to open outdoor spaces only.
The company stated at the time: “We want our customers to be able to use all the facilities in our pubs come rain or shine and receive a warm welcome back in safe surroundings. We won’t be able to do that by opening outdoors only.” The company sold a majority stake in its coffee business, Coffee#1, to Caffe Nero last year.
Shamil and Kavi Thakrar, Dishoom foundersIndian restaurant concept Dishoom has launched four delivery-only kitchens so it can cover large swathes of London.
The kitchens are in Battersea (covering Chelsea, Battersea, Clapham, Stockwell, Brixton, Streatham, Balham and Wandsworth); Whitechapel (covering Shoreditch, Bethnal Green, Hackney, Mile End, Bow, Limehouse, Poplar and Shadwell); Park Royal (Kensal Rise, Queen’s Park, Kilburn, Willesden and Wembley) and Swiss Cottage (King’s Cross, Camden, Kentish Town, Hampstead, Kilburn and Marylebone).
New dishes will be made specifically for the Dishoom delivery service. Earlier this month Dishoom opened its long-awaited Birmingham restaurant on soft launch ahead of an official opening on Thursday, 6 August. The venue is in One Chamberlain Square, part of the Paradise Birmingham development.
Dishoom is led by founders Shamil and Kavi Thakrar (pictured) and pays homage to the Irani cafes once prevalent in Bombay. Each Dishoom has a “founding myth”, with the Birmingham site inspired by the “city of a thousand trades”. Dishoom’s restaurants in Carnaby, Edinburgh, Kensington, King’s Cross, Manchester and Shoreditch all reopened this month, while its Covent Garden venue is still undergoing a major redesign. All cafes operate with fewer tables and added screens.
The City Pub GroupCity Pub Group has reported sale 63% of previous levels in the first three weeks of reopening. Ahead of the Annual General Meeting to be held later today, the company stated: “On 4 July, the group reopened 24 of its 48 pubs, with a further eight pubs reopening over the last two weeks, taking the total number of pubs open and trading to 32. It is our intention to open the remaining pubs over the course of the next two months, or earlier if social distancing measures are relaxed further.
“We are pleased with our encouraging performance to date since reopening, with our staff working under new rules and adapting to the new socially distanced trading environment with pubs operating at reduced capacities. Stand out performances have been delivered by a number of our pubs, such as the Hoste, North Norfolk, which is benefitting from a significant increase in domestic tourism.
“Total sales for the three week period since 4 July were £1.8m. On a like-for-like basis, sales were at 63% of previous levels. Following thorough work during lockdown, significant reductions have been made across our cost base, including payroll costs, consumables, satellite TV, entertainment, recruitment, and these together with operational efficiencies from our streamlined offering, have allowed the company to trade profitably and generate cash during the three-week period.
“Furthermore, the board is continuing to review of the group’s head office and pub costs. Savings have already been made at these levels and further savings have been identified, with the review expected to be completed by the end of September. The group has also implemented a centralised sales and marketing department, which has replaced many functions that were previously managed at site and regional level.
“The profitable performance since reopening is a reflection of the quality of our asset base and the professionalism demonstrated by all of our staff, a large number of whom have been with the group for a number of years. Again, the board wishes to put on record its gratitude to all its stakeholders. The board remains confident it will be able to rebuild its sales to previous levels on a much lower cost base.”
Flat Iron, the nine-strong “single steak” dining concept backed by private equity firm Piper, will reopen its second site this week following a positive response from consumers to the reopening of its London Bridge restaurant earlier this month.
The Jo Fleet-led company said the response from consumers to the reopening of its Tolley Street site had given it confidence to reopen another. On Tuesday (28 July), the business will reopen its site in Commercial Street, opposite Spitalfields market. The business is also set to take part in the government’s Eat Out To Help Out scheme. The company said any of its restaurants that reopened in August would also take part in the scheme.
Joule’s has acquired a former fire station in Stone, Staffordshire, to house a heritage centreShropshire brewer and retailer Joule’s, which is headed by Steve Nuttall, has launched its latest brewery taphouse, The Swan Hotel in Forton, Shropshire. The venue is the first hotel in Joule’s estate.
The Swan has undergone a six-month renovation and focuses on locally sourced seasonal food and Joule’s beer from the company’s brewery only 11 miles down the road. The £250,000 investment includes reclaimed panelling from a mansion in Lowestoft, Suffolk.
Joule’s brand director Victoria Colclough said: “The Walnut Room is made of solid English walnut, featuring four pairs of pilasters, each hand-carved and tapering. Two very finely carved central fireplaces of classical design with a hand-carved monogram make up the centrepiece. When we saw the pieces, they were a perfect match for The Swan to reflect the pub’s quality and our ambition for its bright future.”
The pub will be run by brothers Alex and Rich Marsh. Market Drayton-based Joule’s estate stretches across Shropshire, Staffordshire, Cheshire and Wales.
Premier InnPremier Inn owner Whitbread has said it may cut circa 250 head office roles as it hauls itself out of the coronavirus crisis. The company shut all its hotels at the beginning of lock-down and is attempting to save costs as it expects business to be slow “for some time to come”.
Whitbread employs 1,300 staff in head office roles and said some of the proposed job losses would be offset by the creation of 75 posts. Final numbers would be confirmed in September, it added.
A spokeswoman said: While we’re delighted to reopen our doors, we are acutely aware demand and revenue remain reduced. We anticipate this will be the case for some time to come. Proposed changes are never easy and we’re committed to supporting our support centre colleagues throughout the consultation process.”
Whitbread furloughed 27,000 staff and signed up to borrow £600m through the Bank of England’s Corporate Funding Facility. Last month it raised £1bn by selling new shares.
Brewer and retailer Greene King has announced a £2m package of measures to support its 6,500 independent free trade customers as they ease out of lock-down and reopen their pubs, clubs and licensed premises.
The company has launched a bounce-back loan scheme applicable for all existing and new trade customers to help support the independent trade as they rebuild their businesses. Greene King has committed £2m to the scheme, with loans of up to £10,000 per pub. During the past month, 105 pub licensees have benefited from the scheme, while hundreds of payment plans have been revised favourably to support customers as they bounce back.
In addition, Greene King has been offering its free trade customers one-to-one advice on safely reopening premises and bespoke business-building marketing plans. It also provides specialist in-house cellar service technicians who will assist with startup and maintain all brands supplied by Greene King, and a dedicated customer telesales team to guide licensees through drinks ordering and co-ordinating distribution to suit their business.
Greene King has been able to secure other benefits for its independent customers including significant product discounts, discounted access to online service and order portal Round, and personal protective equipment at cost price.
Paul Downing, sale director – on-trade at Greene King Brewing & Brands, said: “Supporting our customers through reopening and the challenges ahead is a priority to us. Pubs are the hubs of their communities and we will work hand in hand with licensees to help them navigate the months ahead. Our teams have been working hard to support free trade customers, not just financially but with practical solutions and advice to put them on the best footing as they begin to trade again.”
Leon naturally fast foodNatural fast food brand Leon is opening four new restaurants at motorway service stations in the next few months in response to a predicted staycation boom.
The company launched the first of these this week at the westbound Clacket Lane services on the M25 in Kent, with the eastbound services following next Thursday (30 July). Both services are operated by Roadchef.
On the same day it will unveil a restaurant at the new Extra MSA Group’s Leeds Skelton Lake services on the M1 followed by its Cobham services on the M25 in August. The two MSA restaurants will be operated by franchise partner SSP and feature digital kiosks. Leon said the openings highlighted the “brand’s resilience while strengthening its relationship with key franchise partners” as the economy reopened and people began to travel more frequently as well as the expected boom in staycations.
Leon founder and chief executive John Vincent said: “One of the big reasons we started Leon was because we were travelling every day from London, often working long hours as most people do, and there was a lack of good food at some motorway service stations.”
Various Eateries-owned brand Coppa Club is to launch a site in Cobham in October, Propel understands.
The Hugh Osmond-backed business is understood to be planning a seventh site under the Coppa Club brand at the former Strada unit in the Surrey town. The brand reopened its fourth site yesterday (22 July) in Brighton, with its Maidenhead venue set to reopen on Friday (24 July).
The company has yet to put a date on when its Henley site will reopen. The company reopened its Coppa sites in Tower Bridge, Sonning and Streatley on 4 July. The group’s new Italian restaurant, Tavolino, will open at More London Riverside on Friday, 31 July after a delay of almost three months.
Hard Rock Cafe in LondonHard Rock Cafe is to extend the government’s Eat Out To Help Out scheme at its three UK sites to include Thursdays and Fridays. Currently the scheme only offers diners 50% off food and soft drinks to the value of £10 per person on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays in August.
Stefano Pandin, area vice-president of operations Europe at Hard Rock International, said: “We have chosen to not only embrace the generous government scheme but offer our guests an additional two days to come in, have a good time for less, and create lasting memories.”
Hard Rock Cafe reopened its sites this month under its Safe & Sound programme. The programme includes thermal temperature screening for staff and guests before they enter the venue, hand-sanitiser stations, contactless menu options and reduced capacity. Retail returns in the Rock Shops will be kept for 72 hours off the shop floor. In total, Hard Rock International operates 256 sites in 76 countries.
This week chancellor Rishi Sunak revealed more than 32,000 restaurants had registered for Eat Out To Help Out so far.
Social Media For Profits Sep19This year’s Social Media for Profit event will be held virtually on the afternoon of Tuesday, 15 September and is open for bookings.
Mark McCulloch, who has more than 20 years’ brand, marketing digital and social media experience including senior positions at Pret A Manger and YO!, will host the social media boot camp. The event will provide insights into how to build sales and brands using social media to help operators bounce back following lock-down.
McCulloch will be joined by Alison Battisby, founder and director of social media consultancy Avocado Social. With almost ten years of social media experience, Battisby is a Facebook-accredited trainer and will bring the latest algorithm-busting insights. She will explore how to make the most of Instagram to tell your stories and connect with your community and look at how brands are embracing TikTok, which has disrupted this year’s social media landscape.
McCulloch will focus on how the social media landscape has changed and how to approach your content strategy to ensure you stand out, while providing great examples of how hospitality brands have adapted to the new normal. He will also explore how Twitter has moved on from a promotional platform to a conversation-led environment and how businesses need to adapt.
There will also be a session with a leading industry influencer to explore how best to approach an influencer, how to incentivise them to work with you, what to expect in return and how to build a long-lasting relationship. The session will also explore the latest legalities and recent best practice examples of influencer campaigns. The event will end with a question and answer session.
Tickets are £99 plus VAT for Propel Premium members, £149 plus VAT for operators and £199 plus VAT for suppliers. To book, email anne.steele@propelinfo.com

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

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

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

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

Readers can email questions for our experts to paul.charity@propelinfo.com. Please use BeatTheVirus in the subject line.

Richard Hartley, chief product officer of S4labour, the online labour-scheduling management system from Catton Hospitality, has offered readers advice on the issue of furlough pay.

He said: “We are awaiting further information from the government but for those of you that need to pay your teams now, this is how we are treating furlough pay. In the absence of any advice we’re treating this as a normal pay element. It therefore attracts National Insurance payments, pension payments and is subject to holiday accrual.

“If the government changes any element regarding this, we plan to make adjustments in the next pay run to reflect those changes. The government is creating a portal for employers to claim back the furlough pay and aims to have this up and running by the end of April – presumably in time for April’s pay run.

“This will mean organisations need to fund any payments up to this point out of current cash reserves, which will undoubtedly take its toll on some operators. The intention is that organisations use the additional support available to bridge these payments. We will update this advice as we receive more information.”

Hartley said S4labour had also drafted a key worker letter. He added: “Our payroll team has moved to remote working and is working tirelessly to ensure we accurately process the pay for so many of our customers in these difficult times and with the additional pressure of furlough adjustments.

“We are, therefore, grateful the government has afforded them key worker status. As such, we have drafted a key worker letter they can pass on to relevant parties. For a copy of this letter, email Sam@s4labour.co.uk
S4labour is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

Readers can email questions for our experts to paul.charity@propelinfo.com. Please use BeatTheVirus in the subject line.

Propel has launched The Delivery Conference, which is open for bookings. The ground-breaking event, which takes place at One Moorgate Place, London, on Wednesday, 30 September, will cover all aspects of this fast-growing sector, offering expertise, ideas and insights.

NPD Group foodservice director Dominic Allport will talk about the delivery market’s growth, key developing trends and where the sector goes from here. KAM Media managing director Katy Moses will reveal consumer perceptions of the market and how they use and interact with delivery operators.

Robin Himmels, of Eatclever, will explain how the company has become one of the leading virtual delivery brand operators in Europe and how he sees this part of the market developing. Alasdair Murdoch, chief executive of Burger King UK, will talk to Mark Wingett about early adoption of delivery during his time at Gourmet Burger Kitchen, challenges and opportunities, and how delivery is working for Burger King.

Just Eat UK head of strategic accounts Amy Heather, who leads the company’s relationships with QSR, casual dining and mid-market operators, will discuss major trends Just Eat is seeing, key things it has learned, and how it is using data and insights to help operators improve the delivery experience.

AlixPartners US director Eric Dzwonczyk and UK counterpart Steve Braude will talk about the US delivery market and how it differs with our own. Susan Martindale, group HR director at Mitchells & Butlers, will look at building a delivery strategy for pubs, the company’s use of virtual brands and a possible move into dark kitchens.

Richard Morris, chief executive of Tortilla, will reveal how delivery has forced an evolution of his business for the better. Wagamama’s Andre Johnstone will reveal how the brand has incorporated delivery and click and collect into its model and how it strikes a balance between in-store and digital sales. Deliveroo director of national accounts Matt Ring will talk to Mark Wingett about how the business continues to innovate, its use of data to create virtual brands and the challenges it faces to stay ahead.

Meanwhile, a panel featuring Macro Foods founder Kirsty-Lee Griffiths, Crosstown Doughnuts’ JP Then, Yard Sale Pizza founder Johnnie Tate, and Bababoom founder Eve Bugler will discuss launching, operating and growing in a delivery-focused world.

Propel managing director Paul Charity said: “Given delivery is one of the fastest-growing channels in the sector – and as its importance continues to rise – we are delighted to present this ground-breaking conference, which will allow operators to make the most of the opportunity delivery offers.”

Tickets to the event cost £295 for Propel Premium members, £345 for operators and £395 for suppliers. Email anne.steele@propelinfo.com

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

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

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

An annual premium subscription costs £395 plus VAT for operators and £495 plus VAT for suppliers. Email anne.steele@propelinfo.com

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

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

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

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

To order, call Anne Steele on 01444 817691 or email anne.steele@propelinfo.com

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Propel Premium Club

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

CONTACT: Anne Steele on anne.steele@propelinfo.com

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality

Propel coronavirus crisis interviews

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, interviewed by Mark Wingett

CLICK HERE to view

The Propel Insights Series: Lease Restructuring Webinar – Mark Wingett hosts: Menashe Sadik, co-founder of Chopstix, Vernon Dennis, partner at Howard Kennedy David Abramson, chief executive of the Cedar Dean Group

The Propel Insights Series:
Lease Restructuring Webinar

Hosted by Mark Wingett

CLICK HERE to view

Prask Sutton, founder and chief executive of Wi5

The Supplier Perspective

Prask Sutton, founder and chief executive of Wi5, interviewed by Mark Wingett

CLICK HERE to view