Star Pubs & Bars – The Victoria

Story of the Day:

Amazon invests hundreds of millions in Deliveroo

Deliveroo logoAmazon is leading a new $575m (£450m) Series G preferred shared funding round in Deliveroo alongside existing investors T. Rowe Price, Fidelity Management and Research Company, and Greenoaks. This takes the total Deliveroo has raised to date to $1.53bn. The company stated: “With this funding, Deliveroo will continue to build its world-class service – bringing customers the food they want whenever and wherever they want it, offering even more work for riders, and helping restaurants to grow their businesses by reaching new customers. The new investment will contribute to: Growing Deliveroo’s engineering team based in its London headquarters, creating more high-skilled jobs and building on London’s growing reputation as a tech hub; Expanding Deliveroo’s delivery reach in order to continue offering its service to new customers; New innovations in the food sector, for example through delivery-only super kitchens “Editions”, as well as new formats that will help restaurants expand to new areas at a lower cost and lower risk, bringing more choice to local neighbourhoods; Development of new products for customers to offer a more personalised experience, increased support for restaurant partners, and new tools to offer riders flexible and well-paid work.” Will Shu, founder and chief executive of Deliveroo, said: “This new investment will help Deliveroo to grow and to offer customers even more choice, tailored to their personal tastes, offer restaurants greater opportunities to grow and expand their businesses, and to create more flexible, well-paid work for riders. Amazon has been an inspiration to me personally and to the company, and we look forward to working with such a customer-obsessed organisation. This is great news for the tech and restaurant sectors, and it will help to create jobs in all of the countries in which we operate.” Amazon UK country manager Doug Gurr added: “We’re impressed with Deliveroo’s approach, and their dedication to providing customers with an ever increasing selection of great restaurants along with convenient delivery options. Will and his team have built an innovative technology and service, and we’re excited to see what they do next.” Amazon is the world’s largest internet business, with a market value of roughly $920bn. Its diversification beyond retailing into the provision of a vast range of services has propelled it into the rarefied ranks of companies worth close to – and on brief occasions more than – $1trn.

TRG reports like-for-like sales up 2.8%

WagamamaThe Restaurant Group has reported “current trading is in line with our expectations with group like-for-like sales for the 19 weeks ended 12 May 2019 up 2.8%” – it holds its AGM today. The company added: “Total sales were up 57% in the period reflecting the benefit from the Wagamama acquisition and the record number of new Pubs and Concessions sites opened during 2018. In the period we saw strong performances from Wagamama which has continued to significantly outperform in its core UK market, and from our Pubs business, which consistently traded ahead of the pub restaurant sector. Our Concessions business traded well and we remain focused on optimising our Leisure business against the backdrop of a declining market. We are comfortable with the performance in the first 19 weeks of the current financial year and remain focused on realising the synergies from the Wagamama acquisition, executing on our multi-pronged growth strategy and optimising our Leisure business.”

Other News:

Inception Group founders Duncan Stirling and Charlie GilkesInception Group, which operates an eclectic collection of London bars and restaurants including Mr Fogg’s, Bunga Bunga and Cahoots, has appointed advisors as it looks to assess its growth options, Propel has learned. The 11-strong, London-based business, which was founded in 2009 by Charlie Gilkes and Duncan Stirling (both pictured), is believed to have appointed advisory firm Tamweel Capital to aid the process, although it is understood the company is in no rush to make a decision on its growth plans. Last year, the company secured funding from OakNorth that enabled it to open three Mr Fogg’s sites during the year – in Fitzrovia, the Strand and Broadgate Circle. Propel understands Gilkes and Stirling, who are joint shareholders in the company, will continue leading the business with a view to adding further sites in the capital and branching out into the regions with the likes of Mr Fogg’s, Bunga Bunga and Cahoots. Propel understands the company now has an annual turnover of more than £25m. With a wet-led bias, central London estate, strong experiential content, impressive marketing and pre-booked business, and multi-concept roll-out potential, it is thought the company will attract significant interest from equity and debt providers alike. The business has won multiple awards and been named on the Sunday Times Virgin Fast Track 100 list. Core concept Mr Fogg’s is inspired by the Jules Verne novel Around The World In 80 Days. In 2009, the company launched its first bar, Barts, as a speakeasy-style cocktail venue hidden within a Chelsea apartment block. Even though it was the middle of the recession, the concept took off helped by “word of mouth” on social media, quickly developing a loyal following. At a time when many pubs are closing, Inception believes securing further debt or investment would provide further opportunities for expansion, especially of its Mr Fogg’s and Bunga Bunga concepts. Earlier this year, Tamweel Capital advised experiential brand Swingers on its deal with Cain International.

Inside of Wasabi, Pancras SquareSushi and bento chain Wasabi has seen “strong” trading so far in 2019 as it puts in place plans for further expansion. The company, which has just completed the sale of a minority stake to private equity firm Capdesia Group, said it was “investing strongly in all areas” of the business. It comes as Wasabi published its accounts for the year ending 31 December 2017 at Companies House. The business opened seven stores in 2017, introduced a new central kitchen to improve efficiency across the company, and trialled a partnership with Marks & Spencer. As a result, turnover grew 8.1% to £106,071,204 compared with £98,091,595 the previous year, with gross profit up to £36,400,719 from £35,023,667. The company posted an operating loss of £7,031,264 after an operating profit of £1,439,644 the previous year. Ebitda showed a loss of £1,163,353, down from a profit in 2016 of £5,173,414. Frederic Lluch, managing director of Kimchee and Wasabi UK and US, said: “This is a time of great innovation for our business and we are investing strongly in all areas. We’ve become one of the UK’s more popular high-street food choices thanks to our fantastic teams, both in our new development kitchen and in each of our 51 branches here. Our Stateside offering is also proving popular, with plans to expand on our existing portfolio of five restaurants. As well as Wasabi, our Kimchee restaurants are doing very well and we are constantly looking towards more opportunities for our business. We are a strong brand with a bright future.” Wasabi has also expanded into the ready meal market as part of an exclusive arrangement with Sainsbury’s. Earlier this week, Ashton Crosby, co-founder and managing director of Capdesia, told Propel it sees “amazing potential” for Wasabi in the UK and internationally.

A judge has warned operators the courts will rigorously scrutinise the way in which restaurants discharge the duty of care they owe to customers with allergies after a takeaway boss had his manslaughter conviction quashed. Mohammed Abdul Kuddus was handed a two-year jail sentence in November over the death of 15-year-old Megan Lee, who died from an asthma attack after eating food from the Royal Spice in her home town of Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire. The teenager, who had a nut allergy, and a friend ordered a meal online from the takeaway using the Just Eat website in December 2016. They wrote “prawns, nuts” in the comments section but the food delivered, including a seekh kebab and a peshwari naan, contained peanut proteins. The teenager suffered a severe allergic reaction and died in hospital two days later. A Home Office pathologist concluded her death was caused by a fatal asthma attack precipitated by an allergic reaction to nuts. Kuddus, sole director of the takeaway, who also worked there as a chef, was convicted of manslaughter by a jury at Manchester Crown Court in October last year, along with manager Harun Rashid, who had previously sold the business to him. But the Court of Appeal allowed an appeal by Kuddus, of Blackburn, ruling his manslaughter conviction “cannot stand”. Sir Brian Leveson, announcing the decision, said the order, including the comment about nuts and prawns, was seen by Rashid. However, there was “no evidence” the order print-out or comments on her order were “seen by or passed on to” Kuddus. Sir Brian said: “The difficulty with the approach in this case was it wasn’t suggested the appellant was armed with notice that Megan fell into the category of those in respect of whom a reasonable person in the position of the appellant could have foreseen an obvious and serious risk of death by serving the food he did.” Although the appeal judges overturned Kuddus’ conviction, Sir Brian warned: “There is now a general awareness of the potential risks to those who suffer from allergies and, as a result, it should be understood the courts will rigorously scrutinise the way in which restaurants discharge the duty of care they owe such customers.”

Starbucks Intu Milton KeynesStarbucks and McDonald’s are among the founding members of a digital platform aimed at helping businesses turn their plastic reduction pledges into action. Co-ordinated by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the ReSource: Plastic initiative gives participating companies access to a digital platform that enables them to develop specific actions to reduce reliance on single-use plastic. WWF estimates as few as 100 companies have the potential to prevent ten million tonnes of plastic waste pollution through industry, private sector and government collaboration, while the number could triple via a ripple effect across supply chains and industry sectors. ReSource: Plastic will track and publicly report progress on the amount of plastic waste prevented by participants annually. It will also connect companies with other key stakeholders to share discoveries. Francesca DeBiase, McDonald’s executive vice-president and chief supply chain and sustainability officer, said: “This partnership aligns with our ambition to work with others to develop thoughtful, scalable solutions that will make a significant impact on the plastic pollution challenge.” John Kelly, Starbucks senior vice-president of global public affairs and social impact, said: “We are committed to learning and leading alongside other brands as we work towards our aspiration of sustainable coffee, served sustainably.” The initiative is part of WWF’s No Plastic In Nature campaign to tackle marine litter and unnecessary plastic consumption.

The Restaurant Group (TRG) and Casual Dining Group (CDG) have both made significant inroads into the virtual delivery sector, including the launch of a couple of brands. At the same time, PizzaExpress has launched a dedicated PizzaExpress Vegan delivery option out of a number of its sites across the country. CDG has already rolled out virtual brand Blazing Bird across about 40 of its Las Iguanas sites and has quietly launched a further brand – Bang Bang Burritos – out of a similar number of restaurants. The James Spragg-led company also operates virtual brands Stack & Grill and Chef & Rooster out of some of its Cafe Rouge sites, and Mac N Shack out of some of its Bella Italia restaurants. At the same time TRG, which launched virtual brands Burger Burger and Kick Ass Burrito last year through its Frankie & Benny’s and Chiquito concepts respectively, has added a further two virtual brands to its portfolio. Through Chiquito it now offers the Cornstar Tacos virtual brand in circa 40 sites, while the new Birdbox brand, which focuses on chicken and burgers, is available through Frankie & Benny’s.

By ChloeBy Chloe, the plant-based fast casual concept, has secured a further site in central London. The US concept, which launched in the UK in February 2018, has secured the Byron unit in Langham Place, near Oxford Circus, for an opening next month. It will have 72 covers internally plus a ten-cover terrace. The concept also has an opening lined up in the Icon Outlet at the O2 complex for July. This site will feature its own games zone, with a pinball machine and retro arcade games, as well as a further 36 seats in the interior mall. Co-founder Samantha Wasser said: “We are so excited to grow our brand in London and have been delighted at the demand we’ve received to continue expanding. We couldn’t think of a more perfect location for our third By Chloe location than the iconic Oxford Circus neighbourhood.”

Australian hospitality group Seagrass is to launch its Butcher and the Farmer concept in the UK later this year. Propel understands the business, which already operates Ribs & Burgers in Teddington, south west London, has lined up a site in the O2 Arena for the new concept. Butcher and the Farmer is described as a full-service, casual dining, “farm to table” concept that offers the “best produce the seasons have to offer from the land, sea and garden”. Dishes are created to showcase the “produce and meat with recipes that let the ingredients speak for themselves”. Seagrass currently operates one site under the brand, in New South Wales, Australia. The group, which has circa 30 sites in Australia across six brands, opened its Ribs & Burgers concept in Teddington in September 2016. All Seagrass restaurants are company-owned rather than operated under franchise.

Soft drinkThe number of non-alcoholic drinks launched in the past 12 months presents an opportunity for operators, according to new research by independent drinks accelerator Distill Ventures in conjunction with trends and insights consultancies CGA and IWSR. The study, outlined on a white paper, found the growth of non-alcoholic drinks is most evident in key cities such as London, New York and Los Angeles through new products and “increasing menu visibility”. There have been 271 premium soft drink launches in the UK in the past 12 months, while there were 42 non-alcoholic spirits on the market in October 2018, up from only four in April. More than half (55%) of restaurants in London provide non-alcoholic spirits, while more than two-fifths (42%) of respondents who work in the capital’s on-trade expect non-alcoholic spirits, aperitifs, beer and wine to play a key role in their overall sales mix during the next 12 months. The study said growth in the sector was being driven by consumer demand, with more than three-fifths (61%) of respondents wanting a better choice of non-alcoholic drinks, while key trends focus on meaningful experiences, curiosity around flavour and more options. In the UK, almost three-fifths (59%) of people order non-alcoholic drinks on a night out when they are also drinking alcohol, while three-quarters (75%) of “influential consumers” expect venues to offer “niche and interesting drinks”. Online searches for “mocktails” are up 42%, according to the study. Distill Ventures co-founder Shilen Patel said: “Non-alcoholic, founder-led brands now account for about 25% of the brands within our company’s portfolio.”

Pub operator Electric Star, founded by Rob Star, has added a Hackney Wick pub to its portfolio for its seventh site. The company has acquired The Lord Napier in White Post Lane. The pub closed in 1995 and has since become iconic for its illegal raves and graffiti-covered outside. Street artists have contributed to the walls on which graffiti changes every few months. Electric Star has secured a licence from Tower Hamlets Council to reopen the pub. Star told the East London Advertiser: “The pub is in quite a state of disrepair – I used to go to squat parties there in the early 2000s. We’ll be getting it fully refurbished but I know what an iconic building it has become and we respect what it means to the community. We are working with local artists and still want to see the exterior change every six months to a year as it does now.”

Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the BBPAThe British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has called on Southwark and Redbridge councils to reconsider their proposals to introduce late-night levies. Responding to recent consultations by both authorities, the BBPA has outlined its opposition to late-night levies, arguing they are in effect a “direct and punitive tax on local businesses that are already disproportionately burdened with a range of taxes, business rates and other overheads”, while a recent House of Lords committee report recommended they should be abolished. The trade body claimed the beer and pub sector alone already pays £58.6m in tax in Southwark and £16.5m in tax in Redbridge. BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds (pictured) said: “Introducing a late-night levy is a backward step for any local authority. The current framework doesn’t work effectively in addressing late-night alcohol-related issues. It is a tax and is unfair to well-run and responsible businesses such as pubs – many of which are already struggling to get by. A late-night levy will be a nail in the coffin for some community pubs. Southwark and Redbridge should look at working in partnership with their late-night sectors, not tax them out of existence.”

A growing movement of consumers seeking food and drink that’s healthy, respects the environment, is seasonal and sourced “hyper locally” is leading the key foodservice trends in 2019, according to the second Food & Drinks Trends Report by Catalan beer brand Estrella Damm. The study highlights a generation of customers it labels “Fresh”, which is turning to “intuitive healthy eating”. The report said a growing number of people were choosing to “savour the slowness of food” and demanding more small plates and dishes to share in groups. Consumers are also demanding restaurants demonstrate they respect their supply chain and are working to improve it, including soil sustainability, animal welfare and inclusion in the workplace. The environment remains high on the public agenda, the study said, with packaging, sustainable sourcing and waste management at the forefront of consumers’ minds. Chefs involved in the study agreed seasonality and British produce were the key trends to follow, with customers wanting to know more about where products come from. Other key trends for 2019 include the increase of low and no-alcohol drinks, casual dining, local sourcing to counteract Brexit uncertainty, and the use of traditional cooking techniques. James Healey, UK country manager for Estrella Damm, said: “In a climate of uncertainty, innovation and so many options to choose from, it’s interesting to see UK food lovers continue to champion localness, provenance, seasonality and sustainability in their restaurant and menu choices.”

SSP Group has launched Par + Eagle at Glasgow Prestwick airportUK-based transport hub foodservice specialist SSP Group has expanded its food and beverage offer at Glasgow Prestwick airport by opening bar and kitchen Par + Eagle. Paying homage to Prestwick’s rich golfing heritage, Par + Eagle, which is in the departure lounge, offers an all-day menu with a range of pub classics and house specials. There is also a range of draught beer, wine and cocktails. SSP UK and Ireland chief executive Simon Smith said: “We are delighted to have opened our Par + Eagle concept at Glasgow Prestwick airport. It’s the perfect place to unwind and enjoy hearty, wholesome food in a friendly and relaxed environment.” Zoe Kilpatrick, commercial director at Glasgow Prestwick airport, added: “This significant investment from SSP has created a modern environment for our passengers to enjoy the high-quality menu and service the Par + Eagle offers.”

The Inn Collection has joined the Refill campaign, offering people the charge to replenish their water bottles free of chargeThe Inn Collection Group, which is backed by Alchemy Partners, has joined the Refill campaign. Refill aims to slash the number of plastic bottles that end up in the world’s oceans each year, which totals millions. The company has registered each of its inns as refill stations, where people can replenish their water bottles for free rather than buying a new one. Operations manager Paul Brown said: “The plastic crisis is a global issue but we can all take matters into our own hands to make a difference in our own communities to tackle plastic pollution. Each of our inns is on or close to the coast and waterways so this is a cause close to our hearts.” Charlotte Hawkins, north east regional co-ordinator for Refill, added: “It is a really simple concept with a really big potential result. It’s great to see larger companies get involved with the campaign.”

Sharp's Brewery beer sommelier Ed Hughes (left) with Paul and Emma Ainsworth at The Mariners in Rock, CornwallRestaurateur Paul Ainsworth has reopened The Mariners gastro-pub in Rock, Cornwall. The Mariners lies across the Camel Estuary from Padstow, which is home to Ainsworth and wife Emma’s four other businesses – Michelin-starred restaurant No.6, Rojano’s In The Square, boutique hotel Padstow Townhouse, and Mahé cookery school and chef’s table, which they will open this month. The 130-cover Mariners, which is owned by Cornwall-based Sharp’s Brewery, has reopened with a new all-day menu and interiors. Dishes include battered Cornish haddock with triple-cooked chips; Cornish rarebit on toast; and Goan chicken curry with braised rice, kachumba and homemade naan bread. Drinks include a range of Sharp’s beer, a short wine list, and a selection of soft drinks and spirits. Ainsworth has taken over running The Mariners after the departure of Michelin-starred chef Nathan Outlaw in February following five years at the venue. Ainsworth said: “I plan to keep this Cornish jewel a destination for the community and holidaymakers alike.”

Giggling Squid founders Pranee and Andy LaurillardGiggling Squid, the Thai tapas brand founded by Andy and Pranee Laurillard and backed by BGF, has updated on its pipeline as it expands its geographical footprint. The company plans to open another four restaurants this financial year as it expands further into the Midlands and within the M25. The group, which appointed advisors earlier this year to assess options for the next stage of its growth, also revealed trading in both mature sites and new openings continues to be strong and all of the group’s 32 sites are profitable. In the 12 months to April 2019, the group has opened eight Thai restaurants, including in Chichester, Cheltenham, Windsor, Kingston upon Thames, Bishops Stortford and Harpenden. Last month, two new restaurants opened, in Oxford and Chislehurst, both of which are trading well and to expectations. The pipeline for new sites into 2019/20 is strong as Giggling Squid looks to open between six to ten new restaurants each year as well as embarking on a refurbishment programme of its more mature restaurants. Giggling Squid has just signed for the former CAU site in Leamington Spa, which, subject to planning, is due to open in the autumn. Propel also understands Giggling Squid is looking at a site in St Albans. The company said it was being offered a significant number of attractive new site opportunities, from existing restaurant units to new-build and conversion opportunities. Andy Laurillard said: “We are delighted our contemporary take on high quality Thai cuisine, at a competitive price-point, continues to resonate with customers. Our new openings are performing well and our proven roll-out model and success to date underpins the opportunity we have to extend the brand’s presence further beyond our southern heartland, bringing the Giggling Squid experience to new locations. We have exciting plans ahead with a strong pipeline of new sites, as well as the infrastructure in place to support a significantly larger business, as we progress our measured expansion and growth ambitions.” Giggling Squid, which secured a £6.4m investment from BGF in 2015 to support its expansion plans, opened its first site in Brighton in 2009.

Niche Katona founder of MowgliIndian street food concept Mowgli has further strengthened its openings pipeline after securing a site in Bristol. The company, which is led by founder Nisha Katona (pictured) and backed by the Foresight Group, is set to take over the PizzaExpress restaurant in the city’s Corn Street for an opening scheduled for October. The current eight-strong Mowgli recently opened in the former Cat’s Pyjamas site in Sheffield’s Ecclesall Road. Mowgli also has openings lined up this year in Cardiff’s Church Street and Leicester’s St Martins, whilst a launch in Preston has also been mooted by Katona. Mowgli currently operates two restaurants in Liverpool, two in Manchester and venues in Birmingham, Nottingham and Oxford.

Gordon RamsayHigh-profile chef Gordon Ramsay is set to ramp up his presence in the US on the back of a new investment deal. Propel understands the chef is close to concluding a deal with Lion Capital, the private equity firm that formerly backed Wagamama and Loungers, which would provide the backing for him to open up to 100 sites in the US across several different concepts in the next six to seven years. Talks between Lion and Ramsay were reported to have opened last year. The private equity firm, which previously backed Weetabix, is thought to have proposed to back ramping up the high-profile chef’s operations in the US while underpinning his restaurant business in the UK. It’s understood the new investment would also see Ramsay work with a US-based operator/entrepreneur, which would aid expansion across the pond. Last year the chef registered a new trademark, prompting speculation he might launch a chain of burger restaurants. Ramsay registered trademarks for Great Burger in the EU and the US. Ramsay began working with advisors at BDO at the end of 2014 to explore the sale of a circa 50% stake in his restaurant business to help fund its expansion, which at the time operated more than 20 restaurants around the world, before securing new bank funding. The chef’s group currently has about 40 restaurants globally. Since arriving in the US in 2004, Ramsay has become a television phenomenon. His Hell’s Kitchen show launched in the US in May 2005 and has run for 17 series. He has opened 11 restaurants across the US. While at least three of the restaurants have shuttered, several remain open in cities including Las Vegas, Atlantic City and Baltimore, with the chef understood to be generating impressive sales especially through his concepts in Las Vegas such as Gordon Ramsay Steak and Gordon Ramsay Fish & Chips.

Northampton-based cafe operator Bewiched Coffee is set to open its 11th site, in July, with plans to open another two sites this year along with what it hopes will be its debut drive-thru. Situated in Peterborough’s Fletton Quays, a 6.4 hectare riverfront development, the latest site will be the brand’s largest to date at 2,000 square feet and promote Bewiched’s formula of premium food to go and coffee. It will be Bewiched’s second site in Peterborough. Founder Matt Fountain, who launched the company in 2010, told Propel the Fletton Quays site would once again take it into direct competition with the big high-street players as it will be next door to food-to-go retailer Greggs. Fountain, who reported year-on-year double-digit sales growth in all Bewiched sites to date, said: “It is part of Peterborough City Council’s new headquarters and will be an interesting one for us to watch as we expect it to trade well Monday to Friday but we’ll have to see what happens over the weekends.” Fountain has been actively looking to open a drive-thru for some time but has become frustrated by a lack of suitable sites and continually losing out to the likes of Costa and Starbucks. However, he hopes to sign a deal for a Northamptonshire location soon. In October, Bewiched opened a central distribution hub to service its sites with freshly made food. However, Fountain said he was looking to trial a “more Pret A Manger-style food model” in the future, with fresh sandwiches prepared on-site at the two sites opening later this year to fully “drive the fresh food” message in-store. Fountain will discuss the future and what he sees as the challenges for independent operators at the Propel Coffee Conference on Tuesday, 11 June, when he’ll join Caravan’s Laura Harper-Hinton, Black Sheep’s Marco Reick and Press Coffee’s Andy Well on the panel debate “Where do we go from here?” Tickets are £295 plus VAT for Propel Premium subscribers and £345 plus VAT for all others. To book, email or call 01444 817691.

Brewdog logoScottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has revealed it is close to agreeing a deal for its first franchise site. The initiative, which was announced last year in its “new blueprint” document, aims to allow Equity for Punks shareholders to establish their own BrewDog bar in their home town. In an update six months on since the launch of its “manifesto” for the next ten years, BrewDog stated: “Our Equity for Punks franchise day held in Ellon in November went well and we are currently in late-stage negotiations to agree legals on our first Equity for Punks franchise site!” BrewDog hasn’t revealed the location of the site but has previously said it plans to trial the franchise programme in ten UK locations. In the update, BrewDog also revealed it has broken ground on its brewery in Brisbane, Australia, which will be operational by the end of the year – a “little later than outlined in the initial blueprint”. The company also admitted it needed to “do better” in terms of its commitment to cut payment terms to small breweries to seven days. It said: “Due to an under-resourced finance department (we are working on fixing this), we haven’t always managed to meet this commitment. We strive to do this where possible but, on some occasions, we aren’t keeping up with seven days due to volumes and delays in our internal processes – but we are working on improvements to meet this commitment every single time.”

Administrators of bar company Burning Night Group have revealed their ongoing investigations have “provided the foundation for actions against third parties that could lead to recoveries for the benefit of the estate”. In their progress report Andrew Mackenzie and Julian Pitts, of Begbies Traynor, said the administration process was “complex”, while a “significant number of matters needed to be dealt with”. The report stated: “We have a duty to examine the conduct of the company and its directors to identify what assets are available to realise for the benefit of the creditors, including any actions against directors or other parties, such as challenging transactions at undervalue or preferences. Detailed forensic investigations have been carried out (and are ongoing) into the conduct of the company, its directors and other connected third parties. This has included examining the company’s books and records in our possession, both electronic and hard copy, information provided by third parties, creditors and the company’s advisors. Our in-house forensic team has carried out detailed investigations and forensic analysis of the company’s records, including bank statement analysis and forensic review of the company’s accounting systems. Considerable investigative work has been required to better understand the company’s structure, trading history and to assess the actions available to us as administrators. Our investigations are continuing and have provided the foundation for actions against third parties, which have been notified and could lead to recoveries for the benefit of the estate.” Burning Night Group went into administration in October owing £11.2m. Two-thirds of the debt (£7.5m) was money raised from 936 investors on crowdfunding platform Crowdstacker in summer 2017. The ongoing investigation means the outcome for creditors cannot yet be determined but, as previously reported, secured creditor Crowdstacker will suffer a “significant if not a full shortfall on its lending”. Unsecured creditor claims are estimated to total £2,259,439. Burning Night Group was subsequently acquired by a special purpose vehicle created by Leeds-based turnaround specialist Access Commercial Finance, which was a secured creditor of Burning Night Group. It now operates four Bierkeller sites – in Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham and Nottingham – following the closure of its Leeds venue last month after its new owners were refused a permanent tenancy.

Ecosse Inns has opened The Scottish Engineer in Edinburgh for its sixth site in partnership with BelhavenEdinburgh-based operator Ecosse Inns has opened its latest pub in partnership with Belhaven Brewery, which is owned by Greene King. The Telford Arms in Telford Road has reopened as The Scottish Engineer following a joint £500,000 investment, creating 30 jobs. The pub is the sixth site Ecosse Inns has taken on with Belhaven and follows a £500,000 investment by the companies last year to turn Edinburgh’s Cameo Bar into The Barologist. Andrena Smith-Bowes, of Ecosse Inns, said: “The Scottish Engineer has 172 seats inside and 132 seats outside. It’s perfect timing for the summer and is a tribute to all the great engineers of Scotland such as Alexander Graham Bell and John Logie Baird. We’ve relandscaped the outside, put in raised decking, lights and a feature water wheel. It feels amazing to see my business growing and to me it’s all about the people.” Greene King Pub Partners managing director Wayne Shurvinton added: “The Scottish Engineer looks amazing. We’re always looking to support our pubs and we’re thrilled to have invested significantly to reinvent two brilliant pubs.” The other pubs in the partnership are The Elizabethan in Dunfermline and The Scottie, The Terrace and The Clermiston Inn, all in Edinburgh.

Leicestershire-based Steamin’ Billy has reported a boost in profits, while boss Billy Allingham has branched out by launching an experiential-led venture with his children. Allingham told Propel Steamin’ Billy had seen a “steady 12 months”, with turnover for the year to 31 March 2019 down 2.2% to £5.7m but profit increasing 4.2% to £370,000. During the period, the 11-strong company returned The Paget in Loughborough to Leicestershire-based brewer and pub retailer Everards because Allingham felt the “student market had moved”. Allingham has also launched a venture with his children – Tabitha, Jessica and Kipp – to “capitalise on the rise of competitive socialising and experience-led drinking venues”. Crazy golf concept Caddyshackers, which opened in Leicester in November, has so far welcomed 36,000 golfers. A bowling alley called East Street Lanes will open above Caddyshackers in September, which will also feature a 200-capacity events space. It will offer pizza, burgers, craft beer and cocktails and is aimed at the 18 and over market. Allingham said there was space for a coffee shop and 1960s-style record store, which it hopes to introduce early next year. Steamin’ Billy will further tap into the experiential theme by launching Club 180 Darts at its Parcel Yard site in Leicester this week. Three interactive dartboards have been installed offering five games for up to 12 players per oche, alongside sharing food platters, cocktails and craft beer. Allingham said: “I am looking at Nottingham for a Caddyshackers. Meanwhile, there’s space at The White Bear in Hinckley where there could be potential for something similar to Club 180 for Steamin’ Billy. Dartboards have been in pubs for years but technology has revolutionised the experience – and we recognise this is where the market is going.”

Eric’s Fish And Chips, which is owned by Eric SnaithEric Snaith, executive chef and owner of Eric’s Fish & Chips in Thornham, Norfolk, is to open two sites next month. Snaith will open an outlet in St Ives, Cambridgeshire, on Saturday, 1 June, followed by a venue in Holt in Norfolk on Thursday, 20 June. Located in Abbey Retail Park in Harrison Way, Eric’s Fish & Chips St Ives will feature a 66-cover restaurant and takeaway and 24-cover terrace. The menu will offer traditional British fish and chips with modern European influences inspired by Snaith’s three-AA Rosette restaurant Titchwell Manor, near Brancaster. In keeping with the signature tiled walls and subtle maritime theme of the Thornham restaurant, the 1,875 square foot site will feature exposed brick, stripped-back lighting and blue leather banquette seating. Signature dishes will include classic cod and chips fried in Greene King IPA batter and traditional beef dripping, a Japanese-style fish burger, and gruyere and spinach arancini, all accompanied by homemade sauces. The restaurant will also feature an ice cream station, serving gelatos and sorbets. Drinks will include beer, wine and champagne alongside homemade soft drinks and batch cocktails. Snaith said: “We are excited to open our newest restaurant in Cambridgeshire’s most iconic market town. The St Ives site will have its own look and feel while continuing the tradition of serving the highest-quality sustainably sourced fish.”

Propel insights editor Mark Wingett will look at Pret A Manger’s potential acquisition of rival EAT as part of his latest opinion piece, which will be sent to Propel Premium subscribers on Friday (17 May) at 5pm. Pret is reported to be in advanced negotiations to buy 90-strong EAT, which was placed on the market earlier this year. Meanwhile, Chilango co-founder Dan Houghton will explore the battle for the future of food, looking at delivery aggregators, virtual brands and dark kitchens. 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 video recordings of key speakers. They also receive access to our database of multi-site companies, which has now grown to 1,400 businesses. An annual premium subscription costs £345 plus VAT for operators and £445 plus VAT for suppliers – plus £50 each for additional team members. Email

CoqfighterChicken and beer concept Coqfighter is to open its first table-service restaurant, in Soho next week. The concept, which is the brainchild of Troy Sawyer, Deacon Rose and Tristan Clough, will open in the former Ma Plucker site in Beak Street on Wednesday, 22 May. The 40-cover restaurant’s menu will include vodka-battered wings, panko-fried whole chicken leg burgers, and fried chicken bao with Szechuan mayo, pickled daikon, coriander and Korean hot sauce. There will be old and new world wine to match the dishes as well as cocktails and beer. Originally from Melbourne in Australia, Sawyer, Rose and Clough moved to London in 2013 and launched Coqfighter in 2015 as a pop-up in The Star By Hackney Downs. From there they moved on to pop-ups and residencies in pubs across London. Coqfighter opened its first semi-permanent site in Boxpark Croydon, followed by further sites in Boxpark Shoreditch and Incipio Group’s The Prince in West Brompton. Rose said: “Soho has something really special about it – we knew early doors we had to open a restaurant in the area. It was our dream and to be able to do it within a few years of starting out in pop-ups has been an amazingly spicy ride.”

More than one-quarter (27%) of UK diners use third-party websites when deciding where to dine out, compared with one-fifth (20%) who use a restaurant’s own web page, according to new research by digital platform Yext. The Hungry Searcher report found one-fifth (20%) of customer journeys start with a restaurant’s own website, while half (50%) start with a search engine, followed by map apps (12%), review sites (7%) and delivery company sites (5%). More than half (51%) of consumers rely on searching by food type, for example “Italian food”, a 6% increase from 2017, while 13% search for specific food items such as “burger” or “pizza”. More than four-fifths (81%) of consumers search for terms such as “takes reservations”, “has outdoor seating”, “drive-thru” and “gluten-free options”. Regarding the timing of searches, 12% of respondents expect information at their fingertips one hour before they visit a restaurant or pick up an order. Jon Buss, Yext managing director UK, said: “Third-party services have enabled consumers to make more informed decisions on the go. This shift is having an impact on restaurants more than any other. An average restaurant may see more than ten times the amount of traffic happening across these new experiences compared with 2.7 times in other industries.” Lee Zucker, head of industry, food services and hospitality at Yext, added: “Restaurant chains have to start tackling some of the big questions when it comes to data architecture. It’s no longer enough to promote the brand on its own or simply list menu items on a page inside the restaurant’s website. Restaurants have to be able to publish the information customers want across the whole network of sites and apps they use daily. When this is done properly, there’s significant return on investment for restaurant brands across all segments.” The survey questioned 2,000 people in the UK who use a smartphone and had searched for a restaurant online in the past three months.

Beer Day Britain logo 2019Operators are being encouraged to take advantage of the business opportunities surrounding Beer Day Britain 2019, the UK’s annual national beer day, which takes place on 15 June. As the event falls on a Saturday this year, operators should expect to see increased custom via lunchtime, afternoon and evening opportunities. The event, in its fifth year, encourages people to visit a pub to celebrate Britain’s national drink by raising a glass at 7pm and using the hashtag #CheersToBeer on social media. Last year there were 8.25 million social media engagements. Pubs are being encouraged to host special events such as beer and food pairings and mini-beer festivals. Event founder Jane Peyton said: “Everyone in the hospitality industry should be able to take advantage of Beer Day Britain to encourage an uplift in footfall and sales.”

The first cross-industry returners programme in hospitality, travel and leisure has been launched. Comeback To HTL – part of Women in Hospitality, Travel and Leisure 2020 (WiH2020) – is an industry-wide initiative that aims to rally hospitality, travel and leisure employers around the objectives of making the sector attractive to returners by fostering a culture of inclusivity and supporting more flexible working practices, resulting in greater diversity in leadership positions. Sector companies supporting the initiative include Casual Dining Group, Mitchells & Butlers and Revolution Bars Group. New analysis of gender diversity in the hospitality, travel and leisure sector published by WiH2020 showed the industry has made positive progress in the past year to address the number of women in senior positions. It said while improvements had been made, work was still required to meet the target set by the Hampton-Alexander review of 33% female representation on boards and executive committees by 2020. Comeback To HTL is one of the initiatives WiH2020 is launching this year to strengthen the talent pipeline across the sector and reduce the gender pay gap. WIH2020 chairman Tea Colaianni said: “Experienced talent adds a great deal of value to the workplace but we realise it’s not always easy to find the right opportunity after a career break. This programme aims to give returners the opportunity to receive advice from experts in their respective fields, network with peers and meet employers. We aim to make it easier for returners to integrate into a new role.”

Imbiba-backed events and hospitality group Camm & Hooper is to launch South Place Society within Wright & Bell’s The Kitty Hawk bar in the City of London, Propel has learned. The Kitty Hawk’s lower floor will operate as South Place Society from next month owing to an “increased demand for events and experiences”. The space will be dedicated solely to events, with sales and enquiries managed through Camm & Hooper’s sales team and booking engine. Wright & Bell managing director Sarah Clark said: “The Kitty Hawk will continue to extend its all-day and late-night offering and is enjoying continued growth along with sister companies Whyte & Brown in Kingly Court and Lino, which opened earlier this year at St Barts in the City.” Wright & Bell, which is also backed by Imbiba, launched The Kitty Hawk in South Place in 2016.

Coffee ConferencePropel has launched the Coffee Conference, which aims to help operators develop their coffee offer and capitalise on opportunities in a market that has undergone 20 consecutive years of growth. The full-day event takes place on Tuesday, 11 June at One Moorgate Place in London and is open for bookings. Turnover in the UK coffee shop market increased 7.9% last year to £10.1bn and, with growth set to continue, some of the sector’s most high-profile operators will share their insights and expertise and reveal opportunities in the market. Dominic Allport, insights director at The NPD Group, will provide analysis of the market and look at some of the key trends. Nick Tolley, co-founder of Taylor St Baristas and Harris+Hoole, will talk about the challenges of growing a successful coffee business in the UK and how to generate and monetise new opportunities. James Horler, chief executive of 3Sixty Restaurants and chairman of Notes Coffee Roasters & Bars, will talk to Propel managing director Paul Charity about how Notes is creating opportunities to steal market share from established high-street brands. Rob Darby, co-founder and chief executive of 200 Degrees, will describe his move from running bars to coffee shops and his plans for continued regional growth into city centres. Henry Ayers, co-founder of The Gentlemen Baristas, will reveal how an Englishman’s moustache helped sculpt a niche for “well-mannered coffee”, giving rise to a growing portfolio of quirky sites and the development of a roastery and wholesaling expertise in coffee, tea, cocoa and spices. Russell Scott, founder of Paddy & Scott’s, will reveal how ethical trade and sustainability has played a key role in the brand’s expansion, while Sam Roberts, co-owner and chief executive of Boston Tea Party, will share his learnings from the company’s ban on disposable cups. Jamie Robertson, UK chief executive of US coffee shop concept Roasting Plant, will reveal its plans for the UK and explain how he sees technology transforming the customer retail experience. Kevin Charity, chief executive of the Coaching Inn Group, will talk about the company’s success with coffee and its drive to develop a first-class coffee shop experience for customers while driving up trade within what is a “traditional inns” concept. Meanwhile, Press Coffee co-founder Andy Wells, Caravan co-founder and creative director Laura Harper-Hinton, Bewiched Coffee founder Matt Fountain and Black Sheep HR director Marco Reick will discuss what they see as the sector’s challenges and how to overcome them. Propel managing director Paul Charity said: “The coffee market is one of our most dynamic and innovative sectors – and this event is a chance to hear from many of our best operators.” Tickets are £295 plus VAT for Propel Premium subscribers and £345 plus VAT for all others. To book, email or call 01444 817691.

The full speaker schedule for the Propel Multi Club summer conference and party has been revealed. The event takes place on Thursday, 27 June at the Oxford Belfry, which is just off the M40. The speaker line-up is The NPD Group insights director Dominic Allport; Farmer J founder Jonathan Recanati; Ted Kennedy, owner of Pebble Hotels and veteran operator of pub assets; Three Joes co-founder Tim Hall; Las Iguanas chief executive Mos Shamel; Remarkable Pubs managing director Elton Mouna; Think Hospitality founder James Hacon; Mario C Bauer, advisor to Vapiano and former chief executive of franchising; The Glee Club founder Mark Tughan; Graffiti Spirits Group founder Matt Farrell; and Crepeaffaire founder Daniel Spinath. The conference will be followed by the summer party, with an evening barbecue, the Big Fat Quiz and the legendary sounds of DJ Big Lee. Operators can claim up to two free places by emailing Anne Steele at Rooms (bed and breakfast) are also available at £125 plus VAT and can be booked by emailing Anne.

Finance ConferenceJKS Restaurants co-founder Jyotin Sethi and Andrew Stones, of Imbiba and formerly managing director of Be At One, have joined the line-up at the Propel Finance and Investment Conference, which is open for bookings. The full-day event takes place on Friday, 24 May at One Moorgate Place, London EC2R 6EA. Sethi and his siblings Karam and Sunaina have backed a number of restaurants that have helped shape London’s dining scene during the past five years. JKS backs Michelin-starred restaurants of its own, Trishna and Gymkhana, and leading concepts such as Hoppers, Bao and Brigadiers. Sethi will join a panel consisting of Imbiba partner Darrel Connell; TriSpan advisory partner Brandon Stephens; Tamweel Capital partner Ali Aneizi and Numis Securities leisure analyst Tim Barrett to discuss the sector’s prospects, growth opportunities, and mergers and acquisitions trends. Stones, meanwhile, will talk about the challenge of moving a business forward while optimising it for sale. Other speakers at the event will include Christie & Co director Ramzi Qattan; haysmacintyre partner Andrew Ball; Mission Mars chief executive Roy Ellis; Sapient Corporate Finance partner Fraser Anderson; Oakman Inns and Restaurants chief executive Peter Borg-Neal; TriSpan European operating partner Robin Rowland; Draft House founder Charlie McVeigh; White Rabbit Fund founder Chris Miller; and Bill’s Restaurants chairman David Campbell. Tickets are £295 plus VAT for Propel Premium subscribers and £345 plus VAT for all others. To book, email

A host of operators, including Azzurri Group, The Restaurant Group, Gaucho, Chilango, Loungers, PizzaExpress, Brasserie Bar Co, Greene King, Barworks, LT Management and EAT, are among those to sign up for Propel’s Premium service in the past two weeks. More than 200 companies now receive the Premium service from Propel. Meanwhile, Martyn Cornell will offer his views on why the Portman Group’s guidance on strong beer is “misguided” – and the threat it has to British brewers and retailers – in an article to be sent to Premium subscribers on Thursday (7 March) at 5pm. Propel Premium subscribers will also receive a 30-minute video on Friday (8 March) of Alasdair Murdoch, chief executive of Burger King, speaking about the role of leadership in business turnarounds. Propel Premium subscribers also receive their morning newsletter 11 hours early, at 7pm the evening before our 6am send-out, access to our database of 1,300 multi-site companies, discounts to attend Propel conferences and events, regular video recordings of key speakers from Propel events and conferences, and regular columns from insights editor Mark Wingett. An annual premium subscription costs £345 plus VAT for operators and £445 plus VAT for suppliers – plus £50 each for additional team members. Email

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Propel Multi Club March 2019

Propel Multi Club

7th March 2019

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