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MOD Pizza UK in administration

The new-look dining area at the Pizza Hut Delivery Uk site in Islington following the launch of its fast-casual modelThe future of MOD Pizza UK, which is backed by Sir Charles Dunstone, has been thrown into doubt, after the company behind the business was placed into administration. Propel understands insolvency firm Campbell Crossley & Davis is handling the administration process for MOD Pizza UK.

It is thought the nine-strong pizza concept was placed into administration earlier this month, and circa 250 members of staff have also been made redundant. Dunstone’s Freston Ventures vehicle declined to comment. The group’s nine sites have been closed since March, with no indication as yet of when they will reopen. It has already exited its site in Borehamwood, while its site near Leicester Square was placed on the market last year. Propel revealed earlier this year, Dunstone, the backer of Five Guys UK, had taken full control of MOD Pizza in the UK.

The brand launched in the UK in Leeds in 2016 as a joint venture between Freston Ventures and MOD’s founders Scott and Ally Svenson. The Svensons were leaving the UK business to concentrate on the continued growth of the brand in the US and Canada. A MOD Pizza spokesman told Propel at the time: “As the fastest-growing restaurant chain in America for the past four years, MOD has expanded significantly to 473 locations, system-wide, across the US, UK and Canada. For our next stage of growth, we plan to concentrate our efforts in North America to focus our resources on the most significant opportunities. Therefore, effective immediately, we will be transitioning full operational control of the ten MOD locations in the UK to our local partner, Freston Ventures. As we continue to write the story of MOD as a pioneer in fast casual pizza sector and a leader in using business as a force for good, we are excited for the road ahead and to impact the communities we serve by spreading ‘MODness’.”


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Other News:

British Beer & Pub Association new chief executive Emma McClarkinThe British Beer & Pub Association has renewed its calls for an extension to the furlough scheme and the VAT cut as pubs and restaurants in north east England were subjected to a 10pm curfew and table-only service as part of new local restrictions being introduced in the region. Health secretary Matt Hancock confirmed the measures in a statement to the House of Commons following government talks with north east councils and local MPs. They will come into force from Friday (18 September) in Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Gateshead, Sunderland and County Durham.
BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin (pictured) said: “Pubs and brewers have worked tirelessly to get pubs safely open and stocked since July so this latest announcement is another significant blow. Our data suggests that a third of pubs are still struggling to even break even, which indicates we are at a very delicate moment in our sector’s recovery. Consumer confidence is already very fragile and extra restrictions will inevitably have a further cooling effect on that, not only in the regions where they are in effect, but also nationally.”

To read the rest of this story and the whole of our latest Morning Briefing, CLICK HERE 

Gourmet Burger Kitchen has opened at Meadowhall in SheffieldA group of nine sites has been earmarked for closure by the current management team of Gourmet Burger Kitchen (GBK) if a successful deal for the 67-strong business is completed, Propel understands. Propel revealed earlier this week, the brand’s current owners – Famous Brands – had pushed the button on a sale process for the better burger chain. First-round bids for the business were due on Wednesday (16 September), and Propel understands a mixture of trade players and investment groups has shown an interest in GBK, including Calveton UK, which recently acquired rival Byron via a pre-pack administration. Deloitte, which has been advising the business on its options since April, is carrying out an accelerated sale process, with second-round bids due next Friday (25 September). It is believed, unless a solvent sale can be concluded, a deal via pre-pack administration will be explored. Propel understands the sites earmarked for closure are in Aylesbury, Angel, Clink Street, Maidstone, Cardiff Library, Sheffield, Southampton, Glasgow and Edinburgh. The business is thought to have performed well in the full year to 23 February 202, with the group generating £69m of revenue, £7.1m of restaurant Ebitda and £1.6m of Ebitda. It is currently trading from 40 sites across dine-in and delivery in the UK.
Bill’s is rolling out a more extensive dinner menuBill’s, the Richard Caring-backed restaurant group, is to reopen another batch of sites, after seemingly making a U-turn on a decision to close some of them. In August, Propel revealed Bill’s was set to close parts of its estate. One industry source suggested the number of closures could be more than 20, including Glasgow – the group’s only site in Scotland – Worcester and some in central London. The company has so far reopened 52 sites across the UK, with a further four set to reopen this month. However, it had yet to put a date on when it would open the doors on its remaining 22 sites. According to the Worcester News, staff at the Bill’s in Worcester were told, in July, the restaurant was to close within the next month after the coronavirus crisis impacted the chain’s income. However, the Worcester site is one of the seven that is now set to reopen on 1 October. It also includes the company’s site in Glasgow, which was also understood to be earmarked for permanent closure, plus restaurants in Ealing, Putney, Watford, Cheltenham and Leicester. It still leaves sites in locations including High Street Kensington, Plymouth, Taunton and Oxford still closed. Earlier this month, Propel revealed Bill’s had begun working with adviser KPMG on the future shape of its estate. It is thought KPMG’s work with the 78-strong business is at a very early stage and is examining discussions with the company’s landlords about the group’s future rental terms. However, the fact that it is working with advisers will add to speculation the group will look to shed some of its existing estate.
McManus PubsMcManus Pub Group predicts it will be trading at 77% of its pre-coronavirus levels during the next 12 months. The Northampton-based pub company, which was forced to shut 15 Northampton sites and two in Leigh-on-Sea during lock-down, gave the stark statistic in its latest filed documents for its financial year ending 27 July 2019. The signed-off company statement read: “Business is expected to operate at below pre-covid close-down capacity for 10 months before returning to more normal trading levels. Over the next 12 months, it is forecast to trade at 77% of the pre-covid capacity.” It also stated it has delayed a £285,000 VAT payment that was due in April until 31 March next year; that 100% of pub staff were furloughed from 22 March; it secured £1m loan funding through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and drew a further £250,000 from an HSBC credit facility; and received £160,000 in grant funds. The business’ turnover had dropped from £4,012,259 in 2018 to £3,994,768 while profit before tax had fallen by 29.3% from £458,920 (2018) to £324,157.
One of the dishes at Poke-Don, the new concept from Bone Daddies GroupBone Daddies Group, which comprises the eponymous ramen restaurants, Shack-Fuyu and Flesh & Buns, is to open a site in Richmond, Surrey, Propel has learned. The eight-strong, London-based company is understood to have secured the former Byron site at 26 Hill Street for its eponymous brand. The company has secured a new lease on the site, with an opening planned for mid-October. It will become the sixth site to open under the Bone Daddies brand and the group’s ninth site overall. The company also operates two delivery-only units in Wandsworth and Kentish Town. In March, Ross Shonhan, founder of Japanese ramen bar concept Bone Daddies, announced he was leaving the business. Shonhan stepped away to “pursue other interests”, with business partner Demetri Tomazos continuing to lead the group. Shelley Sandzer and the Etch Group acted on the Richmond deal. 

Welcome Break has seen a sharp recovery through the summer thanks to government stimulus, increased traffic volumes and staycations, its owner Applegreen has stated. Chief executive Bob Etchingham said: “The first half of 2020 has been an unprecedented period due to the covid-19 pandemic and I am immensely proud of the tremendous efforts of our people in supporting our customers and local communities throughout this challenging period. Applegreen carried good momentum from last year and traded strongly for the first ten weeks of the year, however, we saw a sudden and significant impact on the business from mid-March, particularly in our motorway service areas. This was most pronounced in April and May, but volumes recovered well by the end of the second quarter. To help mitigate some of this impact, the group took swift and decisive action in managing our cost base and tailoring our retail offer for changing consumer needs. Encouragingly, this recovery has continued over the summer months with the further lifting of restrictions, government stimulus packages and the staycation trend, all of which has improved traffic volumes. This performance further demonstrates the resilience of our business model and of our sector. We have learnt a lot during this crisis and are confident that we will emerge as a stronger organisation that is well positioned to benefit from future opportunities across all of our markets.” Group revenue was €1.1bn in the six months to 30 June, reflecting a sales reduction of 26.6% from the impact of covid-19 lockdown restrictions (H1 2019: €1.5bn). Group adjusted Ebitda was €25.3m (H1 2019: €58.9m). Image: Paul Wishart / Shutterstock.com

Kate NichollsAn arbitrary 9pm curfew for hospitality business would cause serious harm and damage for the sector, UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls (pictured) has said. Nicholls was responding to a report in The Sun, which said pubs could be forced to shut at that time if the government’s new “rule of six” initiative fails to stop the recent rise in coronavirus infections. A source told the newspaper: “Curfew is hurtling up the agenda.” Pubs closing early was also “a tool in the armoury actively under consideration”, another added, though it was not “imminent”. Nicholls told Propel: “Pubs and restaurants are working extremely hard and taking every precaution to keep everyone safe, ensure social distancing is maintained and deliver effective test-and-trace data capture, in venues. Our sector is very willingly taking these important steps to help tackle covid, and is doing so at great expense. It is difficult to see how an arbitrary 9pm curfew could help. What is more certain is the very serious harm and damage it will do to businesses that have already taken a battering, and the impact on jobs, which, again, is already very significant.”
UKHospitality is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member
Itsu has introduced touchscreens to allow guests to customise their food, which includes an extended range of hot dishesItsu, the healthy Asian food chain, created by Pret A Manger co-founder Julian Metcalfe, has opened its first site under its “Store of the Future” concept using the latest robot technology, which it believes sets a template for high street and fast food dining to spark a post-covid recovery. As revealed by Propel last month, the first site under the new concept has opened in London’s Great Portland Street, and the company said there are more to follow across the UK. It said the new store design was completely reimagined in secret during lock-down, specifically for today’s post-covid world. “Leaner and healthier than any Itsu store before it”, the store is the brainchild of Metcalfe and was designed to limit touchpoints in part thanks to the use of sushi robots and digital ordering technology. Unlike any other Itsu, the Great Portland Street store is completely digital. There is a single customer collection point and no front-of-house fridge so multi handling is reduced. The new order-and-pay screens use the latest technology with card only payments, and enable customers’ orders to be placed in under 40 seconds, and allow diners to customise their favourite Itsu hot dishes. The company said further developments to future-proof its on-site kitchen include new maki and nigiri sushi robots from Japan, designed to “guarantee consistency, productivity, and perfect results every time”. Traditionally, sushi chefs mould nigiri by hand, but Itsu said its “advanced robot technology removes unnecessary handling, decreases food wastage and increases speed time for production, as one Nigiri robot can make 4,800 pieces in an hour”. At the same time, the company said its latest and healthiest menu “heroes the anti-fried food solution now being promoted by the government to combat obesity and help the nation become more resilient to the risks of covid-19”. It includes more than 70% of dishes under 500 calories, with more than a third of the menu now plant-based. Metcalfe said: “I’ll put in whatever it takes to continue Itsu’s success despite the obstacles posed by covid. Little expense has been spared on this store of the future – it’s top-class stuff that would not look out of place in Kyoto. It’s far more than a business, it’s an absolute crusade. Not since the 1950s has fast food caught up with changing tastes and nutrition needs. It’s a start. We will lead and many will follow.” Earlier this month, the company told Propel it was looking to, and investing in the future, after its company voluntary arrangement was approved.

Oakman Inns and Restaurants chief investment officer Steven KeneeOakman Inns, which manages 28 pubs and restaurants across the Midlands and Home Counties, secured £2.75m as part of the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) during lockdown. The company secured the additional finance from Santander UK. Oakman’s chief investment officer Steven Kenee (pictured) said: “While the enforced closure was incredibly tough for all our team, we are delighted to have secured the funding from Santander. When combined with the ongoing support from our shareholders, the recent government initiatives and an excellent start to trade, it has put the business in a very strong position from which to both weather any future shocks and, importantly, to continue to grow. I would like to thank both Paul Ray at Browne Jacobson and Paul O’Reilly at Santander for their collaborative approach during the closure period.” Paul O’Reilly, portfolio management at Santander UK, said: “The hospitality sector, more than most, has felt the damaging economic effects of covid-19. We are delighted to support Oakman Inns & Restaurants with this much-needed cash flow facility to ensure the business remains on a strong financial footing and can continue to grow.”

PizzaExpressPizzaExpress has relaunched its site in London’s Bankside following an extensive refurbishment, under its new-look design. The site becomes the brand’s second to include a dedicated cocktail and espresso bar, after the group’s restaurant in Langham Place, Oxford Circus. The Zoe Bowley-led company said the renovation took five months to complete and is the latest in several new-look restaurants opening across London for the business, alongside The Strand and Abbey Road. The open kitchen now takes centre stage at the heart of the Bankside restaurant, which originally opened in 2003, with a choice of different dining experiences offering across two floors and a terrace for up to 167 diners. In addition, a dedicated bar and lounge area has been developed to offer an alternative space for occasions outside of mealtime. Bowley, managing director at PizzaExpress, said: “The refurbishment of our Bankside pizzeria is one of our biggest yet, and we’re absolutely thrilled with the final look. With such a great destination on our doorstep, our design team has maximised the space so that we can best serve customers whether they’re visiting to enjoy their menu favourites, or a more relaxed visit for a drink with a friend. Feedback from customers and the team has been wonderful so far, so we’re looking forward to welcoming more customers back.”

Island Poké, the London-based, White Rabbit Fund-backed business, has teamed up with Little Yellow Door to launch a dark kitchen from its site in Notting Hill. The James Porter-founded business offers click and collect and delivery on Wednesdays to Sundays out of the site in All Saints Road. It is the second dark kitchen site for Island Poké, which currently has seven of its eight stand-alone sites back open. It also operates a dark kitchen site with Jacuna in Battersea. The company also plans to further expand its delivery reach across London, with other dark kitchens in more residential areas such as Camden, which is thought to be in the pipeline.

Nick Collins, chief executive of LoungersLoungers has reported 29.9% like-for-like sales growth in the ten weeks since reopening on 4 July to 13 September.

The like-for-like sales benefit from Eat Out To Help Out and the VAT cut on food and non-alcoholic drinks.

The company stated: “Excluding these positive impacts, like-for-like sales have been positive over the nine weeks from 13 July to 13 September. The company has opened two new sites – and plans to open four more by the end of the current financial year.”

Chief executive Nick Collins (pictured) said: “I am delighted with the strength of our performance since reopening, which highlights how strategically well-positioned we are in both Lounge and Cosy Club. Our like-for-like sales increase of 30% over the past ten weeks includes the remarkable four weeks of the Eat Out To Help Out scheme and the government’s support for our sector continues to be much appreciated. More importantly, however, having fully reopened, our underlying sales are in growth even without this support.

“We have focused on providing amazing hospitality, while reassuring our teams and customers the Lounges and Cosy Clubs are a safe environment, and our customers have been quick to return. During lock-down we were confident the flexibility of our all-day offer, our suburban and market-town locations and our focus on hospitality and community would ensure we emerged strongly. I believe these results have confirmed that to be the case. Clearly we don’t know what is around the corner.

“We anticipate further interruption to trade on either a local or regional basis in the short-term and have the balance sheet and liquidity to withstand significant further covid impacts. Covid has, however, strengthened our belief in the potential scale of both brands in the longer-term and the behavioural shifts being witnessed further underline this. In the second half of the year we will cautiously restart the roll-out and we are excited about the property opportunities available to us and getting back to opening 25 sites a year in due course. I would like to thank our team across the UK for their extraordinary contribution over the last six months. It has been an immensely challenging period and their determination and hard-work have allowed us to not just get through it, but to emerge a better business.”

Chairman Alex Reilley added: “At the turn of the calendar year I imagined my inaugural Loungers plc chairman’s statement would be a relatively straightforward affair. While we are reporting on FY20, the reality is we are providing more detailed commentary on the final weeks of FY20 and the subsequent months of the current financial year, in regard to how the business has dealt with the monumental challenge of covid-19 in particular. Consequently, and for good reason, my statement is a lengthy one. Having successfully listed the business in April 2019, I think it’s fair to say we always expected FY20 would be a challenging year as the business adjusted to life as a plc. Little did we know that a far greater challenge lay ahead and, that by the end of the financial year, we’d have a business that was generating no revenue and we’d have no certainty as to when we would be permitted to reopen.

“There are many aspects of the events of the past few months that will live with us for many years to come. The business has faced enormous challenges and I am extremely proud of the roles the board, the executive/senior management team and the operations team have played in dealing with these challenges head-on and making the right calls at the right time. Putting the impact of covid aside, it was a historic year for Loungers and, as a co-founder of the business, I am extremely proud Loungers is a plc. I am also thrilled we currently have 480 employees who are now shareholders in the company and very much look forward to being able to see the success of Loungers shared with an ever-increasing number of our people in future.

“The business continued to trade very strongly right up until the week before lock-down and we remained on track to meet the objectives we had set out at the time of the initial public offering. We continued to deliver sector-leading like-for-like sales and were expanding at a rate of 25 new sites a year. Pleasingly, we opened some particularly profitable sites over the course of the financial year with FY20 new openings looking like an especially strong vintage. We continued to evolve our offer in both brands, making a number of improvements to our food menus and undertaking a significant and exciting overhaul of our drinks offering. We also continued to see margin improvement as we increasingly reaped the benefits of greater scale.

“Ultimately FY20 saw an 8.8% increase in net turnover to £166.5m (FY19: £153.0m) and, while it is pleasing to register another year of year-on-year growth, covid-19 clearly stopped us in our tracks in March, five weeks prior to our year end. Having successfully listed the business against a challenging backdrop in April 2019 (as Brexit negotiations to-ed and fro-ed), the executive team immediately set about executing and delivering the plan.

“We genuinely believe the Loungers team is operationally one of the finest in the sector. Under Nick Collins’ collaborative and steadfast leadership, everyone has responded to the monumental challenge brought about by covid-19, clearly demonstrating the talent and tenacity we have within our ranks. I’d like to thank our teams at every level but would like to reserve special praise for the immense effort put in by the small group of head office staff who worked tirelessly throughout lock-down, often in very difficult circumstances, to ensure the business was in the very best possible position to rise to the challenges of the past few months. I am also delighted at how well the relationship between the executive team and non-executive directors has developed and I’d like to thank the non-executive directors for their guidance and contribution over the past 16 months in bringing challenge, wisdom and experience to the Loungers’ table. When assembling the plc board, the executive team were keen to ensure board meetings retained the same level of intensity and challenge we’d been accustomed to under private equity partnership and I am delighted we have achieved this as a public company.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the non-executive directors for their dedication and commitment to the business during the period of closure resulting from covid-19. Having temporarily closed the entire business and secure in the knowledge that the livelihoods of our workforce would be protected through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, the executive team worked closely with the board to set about ensuring the business had sufficient liquidity to survive a prolonged period of full closure, well beyond 2020 should that be required. We agreed an additional £15m revolving credit facility with our existing lenders and raised a further £8.1m through the issue of equity. We were grateful and extremely encouraged by the support from our shareholders, which not only ensured the placing was successful but was ultimately oversubscribed.

“With the liquidity of the business secured, the executive/senior management team set about tackling a number of significant challenges. The key areas of focus were on culture and communication, rent negotiations and the reopening of 27 sites during lock-down for takeout. We also started planning the reopening of the business and considered what changes we would need to make to menu, service style and site layouts. This was a significant piece of work and required the team to be very entrepreneurial and at times fleet of foot – our ‘at-seat’ ordering capability being an excellent example of something that has been an undeniable game- changer for the business and was developed and implemented in just four weeks. With regards to social distancing, we adopted a positive mindset and approached what we needed to do with a mentality that we had decided to make the changes ourselves and not because we had been forced to.

“I genuinely believe the team could not have done a more sterling job and I believe the decisions and changes we made, and subsequently implemented, ensured the business was very much on the front foot when we were permitted to reopen. I am also of the view the unprecedented challenges of lock-down resulted in an acceleration of changes in the business that had been more mid to long-term objectives. As a result, we face the future in a much stronger, and better equipped, position.

“Over a seven-week period from early June, I made a conscious effort to visit 103 of our sites personally, with our logistics team who were busy removing furniture to go into storage and delivering our bespoke social distancing partitions. This gave me an opportunity to spend time with our operators, to catch up with some of our teams as they returned to work ahead of reopening and to oversee the implementation of our plan to ensure our sites felt safe and reassuring but, critically, they still retained our unique look and feel and very much felt like a Lounge or Cosy Club. It was a gruelling but hugely rewarding few weeks that left me feeling very positively charged at how our operators and teams felt about the way we had looked after them during lock-down and about how excited they were to welcome back their customers. I was also hugely encouraged at how good, and normal, our sites looked – while adhering to covid-19 social distancing requirements, which I genuinely believe has been a major reason as to why we have reopened so strongly.

“It was also really encouraging to see how busy the vast majority of the high streets and locations we operate from were ahead of us reopening and I felt cautiously optimistic we would trade significantly better than we have anticipated. Consequently, I wasn’t surprised that within a week of our initial phase of reopening we opted to accelerate the reopening process, which resulted in all 165 sites being reopen by 7 August. Our approach to reopening has had a number of benefits.

“Most notably, we have learnt and adapted to trading in a covid-compliant environment, which has enabled us to improve the overall customer experience. We also fully benefitted from the Eat Out To Help Out initiative, which has resulted in record sales for the business during the month of August. We are delighted to have 90% of our team back from furlough and doing what they do best.

“We are clearly still in unprecedented times and the coming weeks and months are almost certainly going to be uncertain at best and possibly challenging. That said I think we have every reason to be optimistic and excited for the future. Trading since we reopened has been remarkable and, while we have clearly benefited enormously from the government’s Eat Out To Help Out scheme, to date trading outside of the Eat Out To Help Out days has been – and continues to be – very encouraging.

“Having reopened has given us significant competitive advantage over those businesses that have been slower to do so. With the undeniable change underway in the way people live, and more specifically work, we believe we are extremely well-placed to benefit. The suburban and small town locations of the vast majority of our Lounge estate have remained strong and our large, airy Cosy Club venues – coupled with an offer that is sufficiently differentiated from our competitors – mean both brands are in a strong position to prosper. Our lack of exposure to central London and travel hubs has meant the strength of performance across the business is both sustainable and consistent. This, together with a reduction in the number of food and drink operators, positions Loungers well to benefit from a significant contraction in supply. Following reopening, we are sufficiently confident and excited to be resuming our roll-out – albeit we will do so cautiously and it will take some months for us to get back up to a run-rate of 25 sites a year. However, we have some high quality sites within our current pipeline and will be able to benefit from some exciting opportunities against a backdrop of an extremely soft property market.

“Our opportunity remains exciting as we have barely reached 30% of the potential scale in the UK of both brands and, in the case of Lounge, our stated target of 400 sites feels increasingly conservative. Our team has the drive, determination, and talent to deliver our long-term objectives but, importantly, working through the challenges of lock-down has further enhanced the entrepreneurial flame inherent within the business. I genuinely believe this could be ‘our time’ and the burning ambition within Loungers has never been stronger.”

Joel Wilkinson and Adelaide Winter, founder of the Manchester-based Trof Group, which became Mission Mars, are to launch a new concept in the city.

Called Swan Street Firehouse, the new venue will open on the former Pull Up site in the city’s Swan Street.

Mission Mars was launched in 2015 with a portfolio of already-popular sites built up by Wilkinson and Winter, including Trof, Gorilla and The Deaf Institute.

Revolution Vodka Bar founders Roy Ellis and Neil Macleod acquired a 50% stake in Trof with a view to opening the “best entertainment venues and bars in the world” under then new vehicle Mission Mars.

The Deaf Institute in Grosvenor Street and Gorilla in Whitworth Street were closed earlier this year in the wake of the pandemic.

In July, terms were agreed for Aaron Mellor’s led Tokyo Industries to acquire both venues.

Keir StarmerLabour leader Sir Keir Starmer has called on the government to replace the furlough scheme and put an end to companies “firing and rehiring”.

He made an “open offer” to work with the prime minister on a scheme to target sector-specific support, which would include input from trade unions and businesses.

The furlough initiative, also known as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, has paved the way for almost 10 million workers to claim 80% of their wages (capped at £2,500) since March but is set to end on 31 October.

Sir Keir’s speech was held via a video call at this year’s Trades Union Congress annual conference.

He said: “We all know the furlough scheme can’t go on as it is forever, but the truth is the virus is still with us and infections are increasing. It just isn’t possible to get back to work or reopen businesses. It isn’t a choice. It’s the cold reality of this crisis. So it makes no sense at all for the government to pull support away now in one fell swoop.”

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has said he will be “creative” in helping unemployed people find work but that keeping people out of work indefinitely is not the answer. However, employment minister Mims Davies hinted there could be a more targeted approach when Sunak unveils his Budget later in the year for “sectors that take longer to come back”.

Sir Keir wants to a team effort to create “new targeted support that can replace the job retention scheme and develop those sectors where it is most needed”, which includes hospitality, retail and aviation.

He hailed trade unions as “unsung heroes”, and added: “Without you, there would have been no furlough scheme, no life raft for seven million people.” Trade Union Congress leader Frances O’Grady warned: “If the government doesn’t act, we face a tsunami of job losses.”

Nationwide footfall continued to grow in the first two weeks of September following the August bank holiday and the conclusion of the Eat Out To Help Out scheme, according to the latest data from Wi-Fi solutions provider Wireless Social.

Footfall on Sunday, 13 September, and Sunday 6, September – at 38% and 37% below pre-lock-down levels respectively – was 5% lower than Sunday, 30 August, but this was likely due to the warm weather seen over the bank holiday weekend, Wireless Social said.

In London, footfall on Saturday, 12 September, and Saturday, 5 September, was tracking at 40% below pre-lock-down levels, which was an increase of 3% compared with Saturday, 29 August.

The figures showed much of this increased traffic is being driven by the London “village” areas, such as Richmond, Wimbledon and Hampstead, where footfall on Saturday, 5 September, was much higher – at 25% below pre-lock-down levels, compared with the West End (minus 56%), the City (minus 62%) and Canary Wharf (minus 68%).

But some cities have seen a drop, with Liverpool down 19% on Saturday, 12 September, from the bank holiday weekend, as was Edinburgh.

Wireless Social chief executive Julian Ross said: “It’s really encouraging that overall footfall is continuing to climb, and people have been gaining confidence in returning to support their favourite bars and restaurants. However, with the recent government announcements around social restrictions, it may have an impact on that level of trust and comfort and we are already seeing a decline in some cities.”
Wireless Social is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

JD Wetherspoon is set to start work on two new pubs in the coming weeks.

It will spend a combined £6.6m on the sites in Northallerton (population circa 17,000) and Headingley (population circa 20,500).

Development work on the Northallerton site, in North Yorkshire, is to begin on Monday, 28 September, with an expected opening date in March 2021.

The Headingley site in Leeds, West Yorkshire, is expected to open in April next year with work beginning on 5 October, and more than 125 jobs will be created at the pubs.

Wetherspoon chief executive John Hutson said: “We are delighted that development work is due to begin soon. We believe both pubs will be assets to their respective areas and hopefully act as a catalyst for further investment. We are confident that both pubs will appeal to a wide range of people.”

Wetherspoon is also developing Keavan’s Port – a pub and 89-bedroom hotel in the centre of Dublin. The development will cost €21m and is set to open “in the near future”.

Dan Brookman, AirshipDan Brookman (pictured), of CRM agency Airship, has reminded operators it is a mandatory obligation to register customers’ details when visiting their sites from Friday (18 September). Brookman said this would continue to be the case even when the NHS Test and Trace app goes live next week. He added: “Since early July, the official covid-secure guidance for restaurants and bars has been recommendatory and this has had mixed results, with UKHospitality pushing for operators to do a better job. It was, once again, a case of the government simply not going far enough in the first place, despite knowing that their guidance was likely to fail.” He added using technology already in place, such as booking systems, will help store customers’ details, as can companies such as Airship, which can install QR codes at hospitality sites that guests can use quickly and efficiently. The second version of the NHS Test and Trace app will be rolled out on Thursday, 24 September, but because it is only voluntary, Brookman said operators must continue registering people’s names, addresses and contact numbers.
Airship is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member
The Lost Alhambra in Leicester Square, which is being launched by Adventure BarLondon bar operator Adventure Bar Group is launching a series of West End, theatre-themed, immersive evenings in its The Lost Alhambra cocktail bar in Leicester Square. The Show Must Go On experiences will feature West End stars and take place every Thursday, Friday and Saturday starting on 8 October, beginning with Chicago: The Musical, starring Laura Tyrer as Velma (Chicago, 9 to 5), Hayley Flaherty as Roxie (Matilda, Rocky Horror) and Oliver Tompsett as Billy Flynn (& Juliet, Kinky Boots). Later weekends in the run will include songs and stars from Hairspray; Mamma Mia; Priscilla, Queen of the Desert; and The Rocky Horror Picture Show with a Halloween Villains’ Night special, offering performances over the last weekend in October. For every ticket sold, £1.50 will go to the Acting For Others group of charities that help theatre workers with financial and emotional support throughout the pandemic. In addition to three hours of performance, the evening will include a two-course meal with vegan options, bubbles and cocktails, all in a safe environment, putting the social into social distancing. Tyrer who starred as Velma Kelly in Chicago: The Musical said: “Like most people in our wonderful industry, I’ve been desperate to get back on a stage and entertain. Hopefully, theatres can reopen sometime soon but, in the meantime, this initiative is the next best thing. It’s a blessing and a necessity in equal measure for us all.”
Brewer and retailer Greene King is trialling a new virtual delivery brand called Proper Pub Classics Co, Propel has learned. Currently available through select pubs under its Local Pubs division and with Just Eat, the virtual brand’s menu features pub classic such as fish and chips (£6.99), and steak & ale pie (£7.79), plus a small selection of burgers, a chicken wings sharing dish, sides and kids’ meals. A Greene King spokesman told Propel: “During lock-down, we saw an increase in people using takeaway and delivery, and we’re adapting to that new marketplace. We’re looking at how we can offer proper pub food for people who may not live close to their local pub. This test involves a reasonably small number of our Local pubs as we look to serve classic pub meals for people looking for this type of cuisine through Just Eat.” Last month, Greene King said it had introduced food and drink takeaway across its food-led managed pub estate, which made it the UK’s largest pub takeaway business. The move followed regional trials of takeaway and delivery from select Greene King pubs since June and means customers at the majority of the company’s 1,700 managed pubs will have the option of enjoying pub food and drink at home. In addition, about 400 of the pubs are providing home delivery services via Deliveroo or Just Eat.
West Country-based The OHH Pub Company, led by Mark Warburton, is trialling a 30% discount on food but is seeing better like-for-like sales at its outlets not offering the discount. Warburton told Propel the business purposely selected one site on the Bristol side of the estate: The Rising Sun, Backwell, and another on the Bath side: The Old House At Home, Burton, for the offer. Meanwhile, its other two sites – The Northey Arms, Box; and The Bear & Swan, Chew Magna – have a set menu offer in place. Warburton said like-for-like sales across the group are up 4.4% since the start of September – but at the sites not offering the discount they have risen 8.1%. “All sites had a facelift during lock-down so they are on a level playing field. It’s really interesting reviewing the figures since the end of Eat Out To Help Out,” he said. “It’s encouraging to see sales are not being directly driven by discounts and the Ebitda for those sites is looking positive as the margins are holding up nicely.” Warbuton added: “Eat Out To Help Out was a fantastic lifeline for the hospitality sector, but it could not have continued forever. Quite frankly, this type of deal would be commercial suicide for us as a relatively small family business. It is important we wean the general public away from chasing the discounts and I admire the attitude of those such as Hawksmoor that are of the opinion that if we work hard at what we are do, why should people pay such discounted prices for the privilege? This all boils down to ‘value’. It is the food, drink, service, atmosphere and a safe environment that will see those prosper the most through these hard times. We are not perfect, we make mistakes, but with my wonderful teams with me, those are the key points we will be working hard at during these coming months.”
James Watt, BrewDogScottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has raised £1m in four days for its “final” crowdfunding programme – Equity For Punks Tomorrow. The scheme has a target of £7.5m –
with a stretch goal of £50m – and is 14% of the way there with 140 days remaining. The prospectus states every penny raised will be committed to sustainability projects including direct wind power, carbon dioxide recovery, electric vehicle fleets and converting waste into energy. It also revealed how covid-19 had taken its toll against budget predictions and created an overall net loss of £8,151,071 in H1. The latest round of Equity for Punks will result in the issuing of 298,210 B shares. Shares will cost £25.15 each and be issued in blocks of two, with the minimum investment of two shares for £50.30. Any funds raised above its initial target will support a wider set of projects from a £10m investment into solar panels at its breweries across the globe; a £12.5m brewery to be built in France, the brewer’s biggest export market in order to reduce its carbon footprint when selling beer in the region; to a brewery in Asia to more efficiently service growth markets in China, Japan and India by reducing the environmental impact. BrewDog co-founder James Watt (pictured) said: “In 2009, we launched Equity for Punks, and pioneered a new kind of business model. Equity for Punks Tomorrow is the next evolution of this, uniting investors across the globe to make a change today to ensure we have a planet to brew beer on tomorrow. We believe in action not promises, change is not happening fast enough, it’s time to set a new standard for sustainability, and invest in a future we’re proud of.” BrewDog also agreed a deal with Bruton Capital within the past week to open ten bars in Germany.
Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers chief executive Kate NichollsUKHospitality has called on the government to act now on the rent crisis to avoid a “bloodbath” of closed businesses and thousands of jobs lost. The trade body has written to the chancellor of the exchequer and the secretary of state for housing, communities and local government to ask for help in three areas: to extend the rent moratoria until 31 March 2021; ensure county court judgments are prohibited for rent debt; and to work with landlord and tenant bodies on levers to encourage negotiations – eg, mandatory rent reviews where landlords are currently not negotiating. UKHospitality claimed there is estimated £760m owed in rent costs, which will rise to £1.06bn after the rents are due nationwide on 29 September. It also said many landlords intend to use the end of the moratoria to issue winding-up petitions to tenants, both large high-street chains and individual businesses. The government has so far shielded businesses from eviction and the worst aggressive enforcement activity by landlords during the past six months through the lease forfeiture and debt enforcement moratoria. However, these come to an end on 1 October. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls (pictured) said: “The rent crisis, with the September quarterly rent day fast approaching, is the biggest threat to the recovery and future of hospitality. As things stand, later this month, many businesses will not be able to pay rent that is due. Landlords will be able to take back the keys and thousands of sites and the jobs they support will be lost. More time is needed to come to agreements. A moratorium that goes on until the end of March 2021 will allow businesses to trade through Christmas and new year. While the hospitality sector has suffered through this crisis, we appreciate the landlord community has too. We would be keen to work with Government to build on our constructive partnership to ensure any future moratorium is targeted at those most in need and, potentially, conditional so that it brings parties together.” UKHospitality argued a six-month extension of the moratorium will help businesses get back up to speed and retain staff while landlords will be forced to come to the table and find sustainable future agreements.
Bella ItaliaThe Big Table, which was recently formed to acquire and operate the Bella Italia, Café Rouge and Las Iguanas restaurant brands, has appointed Mike Tye as its non-executive chairman. With extensive board-level experience across the out-of-home food and drink market, Tye will work closely with Epiris, the private equity firm which supported the acquisition in August, and a senior management team led by chief executive James Spragg and chief financial officer Adrian Walker. Tye has more than 30 years’ board and leadership experience in the UK restaurant and eating-out market. He is currently chairman of private equity-backed Moto Hospitality, and of privately-owned Haulfryn Group and vice-chairman of Prostate Cancer UK. He is former chief executive of Spirit Group and recently stepped down as a non-executive director of The Restaurant Group PLC. Additionally, he has led Costa Coffee, David Lloyd Leisure and Premier Travel Inn. Mike also sits on the Council of UKHospitality. Epiris Managing Partner Alex Fortescue said: “We’re delighted to be working with Mike. There are very few individuals in the UK leisure and hospitality market with Mike’s accomplishments, standing and experience, and we are confident he will be a tremendous asset to James and the team at The Big Table.” Tye added: “With a talented management team in place and supportive, experienced investors, The Big Table represents an exceptional opportunity to build a first-class UK restaurant business. These are challenging times, but this is a strong business with brands that are popular with customers, and it is well placed to overcome the current uncertainty and deliver growth over the years ahead.” The Big Table comprises over 150 restaurants across its three core brands and its formation safeguarded more than 4,000 jobs across the UK. Epiris’ investment in the business has enabled it to reopen its restaurants over the past month. Around 140 sites are now welcoming guests, with the remaining openings planned for the coming weeks.
Tim MartinPub company Wetherspoon has reported that it has had approximately 32 million customer visits to its 861 open pubs in the ten weeks since 4 July. There have been 66 positive tests for covid-19 among its 41,564 employees during this time. 811 pubs have reported zero positive tests, 40 pubs have reported one, six pubs two, two pubs three and two pubs four. Most of the reported cases have been mild or asymptomatic and 28 of the 66 employees have already returned to work, after self-isolating in accordance with medical guidelines. Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin (pictured) said: “The situation with regard to pubs has been widely misunderstood. For example, Professor Hugh Pennington, of Aberdeen University, has said, without scientific evidence, that pubs are ‘dangerous places to be’ (Daily Express, 14 August). This sort of negative view about pubs may have been fuelled by inaccurate press headlines. The Daily Mail (11 September), for example, said ‘Britons have promised to run riot’ during the weekend and referred to the situation as being like ‘the last days of Rome’. In fact, trade was very quiet over the weekend, as the public weighed up the evidence about the alleged dangers of going out – Wetherspoon sales were 22.5% below the equivalent Saturday last year. It is clearly not the case that pubs are ‘dangerous places to be’. There have been more positive cases at one farm in Hereford than at all Wetherspoon pubs- and over four times as many at one sandwich-making facility in Northampton. As Swedish epidemiologist Johan Giesecke has said, strong scientific evidence shows that handwashing and social distancing, as practised by most pubs, work. In this connection, Wetherspoon has invested around £15 million on comprehensive social distancing and hygiene measures. These include reducing capacity, spacing out tables, the installation of screens between tables and around tills, and an average of ten hand sanitisers per pub. Bad decisions are built on false presumptions, like those of Professor Pennington and the Daily Mail. As Councillor Ian Ward, leader of Birmingham City Council, has recently said: ‘The data we have shows that the infection rate has risen, mainly due to social interactions, particularly private household gatherings. In shops and hospitality venues there are strict measures in place to ensure they are covid-free, whereas it is much easier to inadvertently pass on the virus in someone’s house, where people are more relaxed and less vigilant’.” Martin added: “If pubs are closed, or restricted so much that they become unprofitable, a great deal of the strenuous effort of the hospitality industry’s 3.2 million employees, currently engaged on upholding hygiene and social distancing standards, will be lost – leaving the public to socialise at home or elsewhere, in unsupervised circumstances. A major difference between the UK’s and Sweden’s approach, as reflected in comments from the Daily Mail and the approach of the government, is a lack of trust in the public. The UK has adopted a colossally expensive ‘big brother’ approach, based on exhortation, lockdowns, bewilderingly frequent changes of direction and other heavy-handed initiatives. In Sweden, public policy is based on trusting the people and this will eventually lead to far superior results. Although it is clearly possible for covid-19 infections to take place in pubs and shops, the evidence indicates that the risk is low, provided social distancing and hygiene rules are followed, and common sense is used, in line with the views of Professor Giesecke and Councillor Ward.”
Brighton PierBrighton Pier Group has reported trade is 77% of last year’s levels. The company stated: “We can confirm that Brighton Palace Pier, six of our eight golf sites and two of our twelve bars reopened on 4 July and the remaining two golf sites and soft play on the Pier reopened on 24 August. Extensive measures have been put into place at all our locations to ensure that social distancing complies with the government’s covid-19 guidelines. Group trading for the period from 4 July to the 6 September has been better than the board expected, with total revenue from all the group’s open operations at 77% of the same period last year. On a divisional basis, during this same period, revenue for the Pier was 78% compared to last year, for the open Golf sites was 86% compared to last year, and for the open Bar sites was 59% compared to last year. As has been widely reported, most of the late-night venues such as those that dominate the group’s Bars division have not been permitted to reopen, with two exceptions in its food led operations: ‘Lowlander’ (in central London) and the outside terrace at ‘Coalition’ (in Brighton).Re-opening of the late-night bars had been scheduled to commence in October, but as time has progressed the government has continued to avoid making any commitment to an opening date. This lack of certainty coupled with the government’s intention to end the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme by the end of October has resulted in the Bars division having to terminate the contracts for those members of staff for whom we cannot currently provide any prospect of work for the foreseeable future. The very nature of the late-night, live DJ-led dancing experience presents significant challenges given current government regulations. The potential need to repurpose dancefloors and to seat customers in a socially distanced fashion, with an absence of live music and dancing, will fundamentally change the business model with significant reduction in capacity. Given the uncertainty surrounding reopening dates, the group has been working on plans to trial this new model in some of its larger venues. So far, we have traded six nights in Putney ‘Le Fez’ and six nights in Chelsea’s ‘Embargo’. We have been encouraged by the support from our customers and will continue to trial these and potentially more nights until the end of September. We continue to work with our landlords in both the Golf division and late night Bars division to secure rent concessions and on-going turnover rent so as to mitigate the cost from the closed period, the sales impact of covid-19 restrictions during the re-opening phase and the continuing extended closures in the Bars division. The directors will report back to shareholders once these negotiations are completed.” Chief executive Anne Ackord added: “I am pleased with trading on the Pier, in our golf sites and the two food led bars that opened on the 4 July. At 77% of last year, it is better than expectations and while visitor numbers are down on last year spend per head has grown by 20%.There remains however an urgent need for the government to agree a plan for the re-opening of our late night estate so that we can manage their return to business as quickly and effectively as possible.”
Hugh Osmond, founder of Sun Capital PartnersBroadstone Acquisition Corp, the “blank check” company from serial sector investor Hugh Osmond (pictured), has announced the pricing of its initial public offering of 30,000,000 units (shares) at a price of $10.00 per unit. The units are listed on the New York Stock Exchange and trade under the ticker symbol BSN.U. The company began trading on Friday (11 September) and closed the day with a price of $9.86 per unit. Each unit consists of one class A ordinary share and one half of one redeemable warrant, with each whole warrant exercisable to purchase one class A ordinary share at a price of $11.50 per share. After the securities comprising the units begin separate trading, the class A ordinary shares and the warrants are expected to be listed on the NYSE under the symbols “BSN” and “BSN WS,” respectively. The offering is expected to close on 15 September, 2020. The new company aims to find a combination target in the UK or other European markets that has been adversely affected by the covid-19 outbreak but is otherwise fundamentally healthy. It is led by chairman and director Osmond; chief executive and director Marc Jonas, who co-founded Wellington Pub Company and Punch Taverns; and chief financial officer and director Edward Hawkes. Filings in the US have also confirmed the three independent directors who will sit on the new vehicle’s board. They are Rory Cullinan, the former RBS Investment Banking chief; Philip Bassett, former partner and head of investor relations at private equity firm Permira; and Ian Cormack, who had a successful City career in leading international and UK roles at AIG, Citigroup and Citibank, where he spent over 30 years.
Kate NichollsCross-party support has been voiced for a long-term reduction in tourism VAT. MPs from the Conservative Party, Labour, the SNP and Liberal Democrats each suggested at a backbench business debate in the House of Commons on Thursday (10 September) an extension of the reduction in VAT beyond January would be an effective way to protect businesses over the winter and stimulate the UK’s tourist economy. Hospitality and tourism businesses welcomed the government’s decision earlier this summer to reduce VAT to 5% until January 2021. Prior to the cut, the UK’s rate of VAT for accommodation and tourism attractions was approximately twice the average of other major European destinations such as Spain, Germany and Italy, imposing higher costs and stifling demand. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls (pictured), said: “The expression of so much cross-party backbench support for extending the VAT cut is a very positive signal the value of hospitality and tourism is rightly being recognised. As we move away from the peak tourism season, it is encouraging to see all parties looking at ways in which government can support these vital sectors through the winter. A permanent cut in VAT would level the playing field with the UK’s international competitors, enabling tourism and hospitality businesses to survive over the winter, before helping to drive the UK’s economic recovery in 2021.”
UKHospitality is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

Propel Multi ClubThe next Propel Multi Club Conference, taking place on Thursday, 8 October, will take the form of a day-long digital live webinar and will focus on the opportunity offered to operators by delivery. The event, which starts at 10am, is free for operators, who can claim two places by emailing anne.steele@propelinfo.com. Speakers include NPD Group foodservice director Dominic Allport talking about the growth of the delivery market, the key trends that are developing and where the sector goes from here. Elton Gray, commercial and operations director at Creams, will discuss the challenges and considerations of delivery working within a franchised business model. Thom Elliot, co-founder of Pizza Pilgrims, will discuss the evolution of the concept’s delivery strategy, plus the development and success of its pizza at home offer. Alasdair Murdoch, chief executive of Burger King UK, will talk to Propel insights editor Mark Wingett about being an early adopter of delivery during his time at Gourmet Burger Kitchen, the challenges and opportunities, and how delivery is working for Burger King. Just Eat managing director UK Andrew Kenny will discuss the key trends Just Eat is currently seeing; the key things it has learned since setting up its delivery operation; and how it is using data and insights to help operators improve the delivery experience. AlixPartners director Steve Braude will talk about the delivery market across the Pond and the differences with our own here. 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. Andre Johnstone, the former Wagamama executive and founder of Delivery Insider, will give his views on how business can navigate through the confusing world of food delivery, from menu set-up to aggregator management. Richard Morris, chief executive of Tortilla, will explain how delivery has forced an evolution of the business for the better. Deliveroo’s 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 in terms of growing its consumer base. There will also be a panel session involving JP Then, founder of Crosstown Doughnuts; and Johnnie Tate, founder of Yard Sale Pizza on launching, operating and growing in a delivery-focused world.

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