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Pubs to trade as food shops as Greene King, Admiral Taverns and St Austell sign up to national initiative

mypubshop.comA ground-breaking national initiative will enable pubs to trade as food shops offering essential items such as bread, eggs and milk. Powered by e-commerce trading platform StarStock, mypubshop.com will allow pubs to process orders online to provide a valuable income stream. The service is a partnership with Brakes, Coca-Cola European Partners and Use Your Local and is open to pubs across the UK.
The initiative has already won the support of Admiral Taverns, which is making mypubshop available to its 1,000 pubs; Greene King Pub Partners, which operates a tenanted and leased estate of more than 1,000 pubs; and Cornwall-based St Austell Brewery, which operates 170 pubs. The partnership with Brakes will also open up the service to the 15,000-plus pubs the wholesaler supplies. It will offer participating venues a food shop “starter kit”, while each transaction made via mypubshop will accrue a 2% fee to cover operational costs. However, the venture is being run as non-profit, with surplus revenue donated to the NHS. 

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

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S4labourS4labour, the online labour-scheduling management system from Catton Hospitality, has offered further advice on the issue of furlough pay. Employers are able to claim a grant from the government to claim 80% of an employees pay, up to £2,500 per month. For salaried staff this should be their salary on 28 February.

For variable-paid staff, S4labour has created a furlough pay type that calculates the higher of their average monthly earnings over the past 12 months or their pay from the comparable month last year. For those employees with less than a year’s service, it should be the average monthly earnings while they have been employed by the company. For weekly paid staff, S4labour advises recalculating last year’s comparable monthly earnings every week during the furloughed period. Employers can also claim for National Insurance contributions and pension contributions up to 3%.

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

Byron has unveiled its new look featuring a reimagined design and menu and first brunch offerByron, the better burger brand led by Simon Wilkinson and backed by Three Hills Capital, has placed its circa 1,200 staff on the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) while directors have taken a “substantial” pay cut. The 51-strong business, which completed a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) in 2018, appointed KPMG last week to explore ways to shore up its balance sheet including options to access emergency funding. Wilkinson told Propel: “Byron has worked with employees during this hibernation period and put everyone on the CJRS. The directors have taken a substantial pay cut to remain with the business and work with KPMG to review options and steer the company through these challenging times.” This week sector peer Carluccio’s, which also completed a CVA in 2018, was placed into administration. Last week both brands held emergency talks regarding a merger, which came to nothing. The CJRS pays up to 80% of employees’ wages with a ceiling of £2,500 a month.

Casual Dining Group's new chief executive James SpraggCasual Dining Group (CDG) has kept about 20% of its circa 115 Bella Italia restaurants open for delivery and click and collect, Propel understands. A spokesman for the company, which is led by James Spragg (pictured), said: “Staying open to provide this service actually costs us more – we’re definitely not in it for the money. The small team working reduced hours in each restaurant to cook and serve food have chosen to do so and are proud to support their communities. If they choose not to work, we fully support their decision and will be assisting them to access support available to them and enrolling all permanent staff at closed sites on the government’s ‘furlough’ scheme.” Bella Italia is offering two levels of discounts to those using its click and collect service, including 50% off the bill for NHS and other key workers. The company said: “Nothing can repay those who are risking their own safety to keep the wheels of society moving but our small gesture is a discount they can use as many times as they like during these worrying times.”

Investment company Sandpiper has pulled out of a deal to buy the Randalls Group of Guernsey because of coronavirus. Sandpiper’s board says the effects of covid-19 and the uncertainty for the future, mean the purchase cannot be completed for The Guernsey Pub Company, which is the holding group of Randalls. If the deal had gone through, it would have been the first major investment of Sandpiper since it was listed on The International Stock Exchange (ISE) at the end of May 2019. However Sandpiper’s directors say it has been unable to meet the final conditions to place shares to the Official List on the ISE, to allow it to buy The Guernsey Pub Company. They say notice has been given to the vendors to terminate the sale and purchase agreement from 1 April 2020.

Rodrigue Trouillet, the new partner and commercial director at VeenoRodrigue Trouillet (pictured), owner and director of Italian wine bar business Veeno, has told Propel staff will be key in the company’s attempts to regain the momentum it had before the coronavirus crisis. Trouillet acquired the company out of administration a year ago and said “real progress” was being made before the country was locked down. Like-for-like sales were up 11% in 2019 and Trouillet said it had seen a great start to 2020, with like-for-likes increasing 25% in January and 29% in February. Veeno was still seeing double-digit like-for-like growth in March until the government told people to avoid pubs, bars and restaurants as the coronavirus crisis accelerated. Veeno has consolidated its estate in the past year and now has eight sites, including a franchised outlet in Reading. However, Trouillet revealed the company had been talking to potential franchisees before the coronavirus outbreak and those talks would restart when the crisis ended. He said: “We may have had to shut our wine bars but we have a concept that works and that will really help us when we reopen. At the moment we’re pushing online sales and it’s going well. We have furloughed all our staff because we want to make sure we keep them. They have been terrific and one of the main reasons we’ve been so successful in the past 12 months. Of course I understand businesses need to preserve cash but our people will be key to helping us re-establish our momentum when all this passes. We were getting some really good reviews, particularly around customer service. Even now we’re getting a lot of messages from people saying how much they miss us. We look forward to seeing them again – hopefully soon.” Trouillet said expansion, which he stressed “wouldn’t happen straight away” after restrictions were lifted, would focus on franchising, which was a “win-win situation all round”. He added: “Our model means the capital investment is quite low. We’ve had about 100 expressions of interest in the past four or five months – we have to find the right profile. We’ll use Reading as a blueprint but franchisees have to understand it’s not a money-making machine straight away – it takes a lot of hard work. We need to be realistic about the type of place we look at and find the right balance between what’s a reasonable-sized site but avoiding high rents and business rates. We need to be smart about it but our message is clear – we are here to stay, thrive and expand.”

Propel insights editor Mark Wingett is to begin a series of video interviews with senior business leaders talking about how they are navigating the current crisis. The first interview will be with Tortilla founder Brandon Stephens – and will be released later today.

If you would like to take part in this series email paul.charity@propelinfo.com

Domino'sDomino’s Pizza Group has announced the appointment of Dominic Paul as chief executive (designate) in the UK with effect from 6 April 2020. Dominic will join the board as chief executive officer on 1 May 2020.

The company stated: “Dominic is a highly experienced leader in the consumer sector, and most recently served as Chief Executive Officer and managing director of Costa Coffee. He led the Costa brand from 2016 to 2019, overseeing its growth ahead of the £3.9bn sale of the business by Whitbread to Coca-Cola last year.

“Dominic strengthened Costa’s position in the UK where it is a clear market leader, grew new segments such as Drive Thru and Costa Express, accelerated its digital development and restructured and grew the international business. Prior to this, Dominic was senior vice president of international with Royal Caribbean Cruise Line where he led the business through a period of strong growth.

“His extensive experience in the travel and leisure industry also includes senior roles at Easyjet, British Midland and British Airways. Dominic has highly relevant experience, which has included building high-performance teams who can collaborate with franchisees to drive high levels of customer satisfaction and achieve outstanding results for shareholders. Dominic will replace David Wild who has previously announced his intention to retire from the business. David will retire from the board on 1 May 2020.”

Matt Shattock, chairman, said: “We are delighted to have attracted a chief executive officer of Dominic’s calibre, and I’m very much looking forward to working with him. He is a high energy leader with great experience of driving powerful consumer brands to new heights, and of partnering with franchisees. These are the skills which will be vital as we seek to take this business to the next level. I’d also like to thank David for his contribution to Domino’s over the last seven years and for his commitment to the business during this period of leadership transition. We wish him well for the future.”

Dominic Paul said: “I am hugely excited to be joining Domino’s. It is a much-loved brand with great people and some of the best franchisees in the world, and there is a strong foundation to build on. I am confident that we can take the business to the next stage of its development, and build a long term and profitable future for our franchisees, colleagues, customers and shareholders.”

Propel and Digital Blonde are partnering to host a free webinar covering the pandemic’s effect on marketing and social media.

The webinar will take place on Friday (3 April) at midday and has been launched following the postponement of this month’s Social Strategy In A Day event. The webinar will include data on current changes in consumer behaviour and how the market is likely to look when people start socialising again. It will also cover how social media usage has changed during the pandemic and what this means for you and your marketing in the long run.

The Digital Blonde team will also reveal the social media messaging you should focus on now and in the coming months as a guide to how brands should behave during the crisis.

Propel managing director Paul Charity said: “We know many people due to attend the Social Strategy In A Day event are keen to keep their learning and knowledge up to date. While we have only planned the first webinar, Propel and Digital Blonde are happy to run more in the coming weeks if enough marketers are interested in this support and learning opportunity.”

To register for this free event, email anne.steele@propelinfo.com

Mick McDonnell, former national co-ordinator of Best Bar None, the Home Office-supported community safety programme operated by pubs and bars, has passed away following a short illness.

Lord Smith of Hindhead, Best Bar None chairman, said: “It is with great sadness I have to report Mick McDonnell passed away on Sunday (29 March). I know he will be greatly missed by his many friends and colleagues in the Best Bar None community. Our thoughts and condolences are with his family at this very sad time.”


Subscribers to Propel Premium will receive an updated version of the database of multi-site companies next week. Another 100 businesses have been added to the list, taking the total to 1,600.

The database features information such as number of sites, type of operation and key people at the business. 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.

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

Drinks distributor Bibendum and owner C&C Group have launched an app – Local – that helps operators offer home delivery or click and collect.

Consumers can place orders online or by phone and find their local delivery area by entering their postcode or visiting the locations page. The only things businesses need to set themselves up on the app are a logo, menu, contact details and a Stripe Connect account.

All costs of developing Local and fees for each site that join will be covered by Bibendum apart from a 2% transaction fee on every order.
Bibendum is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

Prime Minister Boris JohnsonMore than 150,000 people have signed a petition urging the government to help small UK businesses that operate under a limited company and fall outside the “void” of current financial support.

Business owners are lobbying for the same assistance that’s given to PAYE and self-employed staff. These are individuals who have their own company and take their income from the business as a small salary and the rest as dividends.

Under current government support, directors of limited companies can claim 80% of their PAYE payments but are unable to work while doing so while their dividend payments, which make up the bulk of their income, aren’t taken into account.

Small business owners want to be entitled to 80% of their filed average earnings up to £2,500 – just as employed and self-employed workers are. They said this should include dividends, which are already taxed.

Nick Steele, operations director of hospitality recruitment company Coniston Scott, told Propel: “Many small supplier businesses within catering and hospitality are in exactly this situation. Many people are in financial trouble with little or no help from government compared with that which normal ‘employed people’ or technically ‘self-employed’ get. There are a large population of law-abiding tax-paying small business owners – who were asked to trade as limited companies by a previous government – that are on average mid incomes and fall into this trap but there’s little or no help for them.”

So far, more than 153,000 people have signed the petition on Change.org

West Dorset-based brewery and pub company Palmers has cancelled its tenants’ rent for April and will review the situation on a “month by month basis”. The company, which runs 53 pubs in Dorset, Somerset and Devon, has furloughed the majority of staff with no redundancies, while board members have made “substantial” salary sacrifices.

Chairman and managing director Jonathan Palmer said: “We put together a financial support package of retrospective rent reduction of 50% for March before the virus hit. This package has been expanded to zero rent for April and will be reviewed monthly. We won’t be collecting this at a later date, hence we’ll continue to support all our licensees during this difficult period.

“We’re in this together with our wonderful licensee partners and hope that, with our support and their drive and determination, we’ll be in the best position to hit the ground running when it’s safe to do so. As a small business ourselves, we have also been hit for six. We took the difficult but inevitable decision to pause brewing at the Old Brewery in Bridport for the first time in its 226-year history.

“With the exception of key essential functions, all Palmers employees are now on furloughed leave at the government’s reduced salary level of 80% to maintain job security in the long run. Nobody has been made redundant and we aim to keep it that way as we look to the future and an eventual return to normality. The prime minister has asked us all to ‘stand by our people’, and we have done exactly that. We are busy planning for the future and helping our licensees work on exciting new menus and reasons to visit when the time comes.”

Pizza PunksPizza, music and cocktails concept Pizza Punks has launched a campaign to feed 2,500 NHS staff. The company, which is led by Brad Stevens and has outlets in Glasgow, Belfast and Newcastle, has partnered with suppliers Italicatessen and Eco Runners to launch the initiative by donating enough pizza to feed 500 people in each city.

Stevens said: “We would love to feed more and are asking for donations of £10, £20 or £50 via our online voucher store. All funds go directly towards making and delivering pizza to staff at the Royal Infirmary and Queen Elizabeth hospitals in Glasgow and RVI in Newcastle. This is a non-profit scheme – our teams are volunteering their time.”

Meanwhile, London-based Yard Sale Pizza’s NHS fund to feed 5,000 NHS staff, which it launched with supplier Salvo 1968 on Friday (27 March), has already raised £10,000, providing enough pizza to feed 1,000 people. As part of the crowdfunding campaign people can buy meals for NHS workers. The business has also been carrying out regular pizza drops to hospitals in the capital including Homerton, Whipps Cross and The Royal London.

Yum! Brands chief executive David Gibbs will forgo all salary for the rest of 2020 with the money redirected to general managers and an employee relief fund. Gibbs was set to earn a base salary this year of $900,000, according to an SEC filing made by the company.

Gibbs’ salary will be redirected as one-time $1,000 bonuses to the company’s almost 1,200 general managers at KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and The Habit Burger Grill to “acknowledge their efforts managing teams and business continuity affected by covid-19”. The salary will also be redirected to the Yum! Brands Foundation Global Employee Medical Relief Fund.

The fund will provide “financial hardship grants to those directly impacted by covid-19, including company and franchise restaurant employees with a covid-19 diagnosis or who are caring for someone with a confirmed diagnosis”. It will also help other front-line workers and “those facing food insecurity”. Yum! said it intends to grow this fund through voluntary donations.

Last week Taco Bell chief executive Mark King announced initiatives to help employees and the wider community, including donating $1m to a campaign to end childhood hunger in America and donating excess produce to food banks.

Independent neighbourhood cafe Beam is pressing ahead with plans to open its third London site, in Notting Hill in the summer.

Beam focuses on healthy breakfast, brunch and lunch dishes inspired by Mediterranean and British cuisine. The site in Westbourne Grove will feature mid-century modern interiors to create a “warm, cosy and chic vibe”.

The Beam menu includes goat’s cheese and beetroot benedict, Turkish eggs and a vegan breakfast alongside halloumi wraps, gluten-free buttermilk pancakes and brioche French toast. Family-run Beam made its debut in Crouch End in 2013, opening a second site, in Highbury, five years later.

Founders Ozgur and Sidar Akyuz said: “We are excited to bring Beam to west London. We hope to provide locals with a space to catch up with friends and family over breakfast and brunch.”

Kevin Georgel, Chief Executive, Admiral TavernsCornwall-based St Austell Brewery has announced plans for a temporary staffing structure, protecting the employment and incomes of all 2,000 of its employees.

Despite pub closures as part of the lock-down, which has reduced the company’s income by 90%, the company said it hadn’t made a single redundancy. With government support, the group has furloughed more than 75% of its staff across its pub estate, St Austell Brewery and Bath Ales’ Hare Brewery, which it acquired in 2016. All furloughed employees will continue to receive 80% of their normal pay, regardless of salary.

Chief executive Kevin Georgel (pictured) said: “To have the strongest opportunity to safeguard our business and employees for the long term, we’ve made the difficult decision to temporarily move a number of our team into a period of furlough. We’ll continue to keep this under regular review until normal trading resumes and we can all return to work safely.”

With increased precautionary measures in place – St Austell Brewery and Bath Ales are continuing to brew for supermarkets, shops and off-licences nationwide as well as delivering to homes.

Colin Wilde, Castle Rock BreweryNottingham-based brewery and pub group Castle Rock has launched a hardship fund to support its most vulnerable staff during the pandemic.

Castle Rock said it also intends to pay all staff and suppliers in March and will be able to cover the 80% pay rate in April – even if the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme hasn’t been received by then. Earlier this month, Castle Rock managing director Colin Wilde (pictured) cut his take home pay to match the minimum wage.

He said: “There remains a lot of uncertainty ahead and we expect to have to make some difficult decisions. However, we’re doing what we said we’d do from the start, which is to look after the Castle Rock family as best we can, try to keep the economy going and support our suppliers and peers. Our bank, Santander, has been very supportive so we thank them for that. We’d like to thank our landlords for foregoing rent payments for three months and the people we have sold to who have been good enough to pay us.”

Castle Rock owns more than 20 pubs in the East Midlands and Yorkshire.

Stewart Mcallister, head chef at G1 Group's Corinthian Club in Glasgow gives pupils a taste of working in the hospitality industryScotland’s largest managed pub, restaurant and hotel operator G1 Group has said it will retain all staff during the covid-19 crisis.

In a letter to staff reassuring them of the company’s position, the group said: “Every one of our jobs is safe, including staff with less than two years’ service and those paid hourly. That means more than 1,500 jobs saved, including a 100-strong workforce at our head office.

“We have committed, with support from the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, to pay 80% of basic wages to every employee for three months, as laid out by the government. While the detail of the scheme is worked through in full, G1 has made arrangements with its banking partners to cover the costs of all its employees’ salaries to ensure no staff member is disadvantaged while waiting on the scheme to formally kick in.

“For any members of our teams where 80% of their standard salary was above the £2,500 cap, G1 will bear the costs of any required top-up in full, in every case. The safety and well-being of our staff and customers is our primary concern and, in line with government-issued guidelines, our entire estate has been closed. The exception to this is our chain of One O One Convenience stores, which remain open to serve our communities. We have therefore announced an immediate 10% pay rise to all our in-store staff and support teams as a token of thanks.”

Sector licensing law firm John Gaunt & Partners has provided further guidance for operators after the government introduced new legislation amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The measures, which apply in England only, have seen the former Business Closure Regulations revoked and replaced by the Restriction Regulations, which effectively puts the country into lock-down. Pubs, restaurants, cafes and other foodservice businesses that consider breaching the ban of selling food consumed on the premises will be subject to a fixed penalty notice and/or fine under the regulations.

John Gaunt & Partners warned outside seating would be considered part of the premises. It also confirmed operators could remain open for takeaway and delivery. The measures will remain in place for what is described as the “emergency period” under the legislation. The regulations must be reviewed at least once every 21 days, with the first review required by 16 April.

Tim Shield, partner at John Gaunt & Partners, told Propel: “These regulations essentially combine a number of announcements and advice government has given in the past few days to promote social distancing. A lot has happened very quickly and matters will undoubtedly continue to evolve.”

John Gaunt and Partners is a BeatThe Virus campaign member

Josh Simons, co-founder of Dorset-based Chicken & Blues, has told Propel the company had sold 500 meal vouchers in the first 48 hours of its new “pay it forward” NHS voucher scheme.

Customers can buy £5 meal vouchers on website Elite Living for meals the company will prepare and deliver to staff at Poole and Bournemouth hospitals. The move followed an earlier campaign, which saw the company offer half-price meals to NHS workers.

Chicken & Blues owns three restaurants – in Boscombe, Winton and Poole.

Budweiser Brewing Group – the new name for Anheuser Busch InBev in the UK and IrelandBudweiser UK has vowed to donate at least £1m to British pubs after launching its Save Pub Life scheme to support the sector during the lock-down.

Pub-goers are being encouraged to buy a gift card to spend at their local when it reopens. All funds will go directly to pubs and bars within two weeks to generate critical financial support during the closure. The scheme is open to all pubs in England, Wales and Scotland.

Budweiser, part of the AB InBev brewing group, will match the value of the gift card up to a combined total of £1m. Budweiser Brewing Group will provide marketing materials and social media templates for venues that sign up to the Save Pub Life website.

Paula Lindenberg, president of Budweiser Brewing Group, said: “We hope pubs and pub-goers throughout the country get involved to help secure the future of the industry.”

Kate NichollsUKHospitality has written to the chancellor calling for urgent clarification on the details of the government-backed funding available to business and the new Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). The trade body is warning thousands of pubs, restaurants, bars, hotels and leisure attractions are experiencing difficulties accessing loan schemes and without this liquidity are unlikely to be able to survive long enough to access the CJRS, resulting in hundreds of thousands of more jobs lost. UKHospitality estimates already across the sector, in the three weeks since the impact of the coronavirus was truly felt in the UK, the industry has shorn around 500,000 jobs, with an additional 500,000 seasonal workers no longer being offered jobs. A further one million jobs-plus are on the line and will be protected if access to loans unlocks and companies receive clarification on when the CJRS funding will flow. In its letter, UKHospitality has outlined a number of areas on the CJRS that require clarification and highlights firms’ experience of accessing funds from banks under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan scheme has been almost universally negative. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “In trying to get these loans into companies our banks appear to be applying their normal rules of business – rules that were created and put in place for very good reasons in normal times but now need to give way to emergency measures that deliver the oxygen of working cash to companies and their staff in this emergency environment. We have a squeezed middle of companies that currently cannot access either of the government-backed loan schemes, which will result in some having to wait for alternative government help, such as the wage guarantee scheme at the end of April.” The trade body also wants furloughed employees to be given the freedom to volunteer for good causes during this period, helping the community or contributing towards the army of NHS volunteers needed. In addition, the group believes there are grounds for employees to supplement key workers in other sectors on a short-term basis, and said individuals should not be penalised for this.

The City Pub GroupCity Pub Group is looking to raise £22m by way of a Placing to raise £15m and an open offer at 50p a share to raise £7m. The company stated: “The company has taken a number of steps to significantly reduce its monthly costs including temporary and permanent reductions in the number of employees, unpaid leave and salary sacrifice of staff, reduction in the salary of directors by 50% until the pubs re-open and halting training and recruitment costs. Certain variable costs have been suspended e.g. BT, Sky and other entertainment and promotional activities. The company will also be pursuing the government’s announced support of reimbursement of 80% of employees costs for those on salaries of £30,000 pa or less, is in discussions with Landlords with a view to achieving rent holidays and reduce other commitments, is in discussions with suppliers regarding extending credit terms and is also intending to submit claims under relevant insurance policies for both covid-19 and for its pubs being closed down. The company will also benefit from a business rates holiday in line with government announcements. The company intends to retain key head office staff and pub managers in order to protect the business. Whilst headcount will be reduced in the near term, it is important that the company maintains a nucleus of experienced staff who directors’ believe will help the business to hit the ground running when normal trading conditions return. The directors also intend to implement new sales and marketing technology platforms in order to further centralize marketing and sales activities and streamline operations. As announced on 17 March the board is confident the company has sufficient working capital to maintain its operations for at least another six months without further capital. The directors estimate that the monthly cash requirement, including retained employee costs and no deferral in rent, will be approximately £350,000 per month. Current net debt is approximately £32 million against a portfolio consisting of freehold assets (90%), with a net book value of £116 million as at 29 December 2019. The company has a strong and supportive relationship with its bank. Whilst its bank have waived key covenant tests until December 2020, its £35 million bank facility, repayable in 2022 is fully drawn and its £15 million accordion facility remains subject to credit committee approval. The company is therefore proposing to raise funds via a Placing to raise up to £15 million (before expenses) and up to a further approximately £7 million via the Open Offer in order to: strengthen the company’s balance sheet in the event that the ongoing suspended trading environment is extended; improve operational execution as a result of a more streamlined business; enable the company to plan ahead for when more normal levels of business return; and position the company, should the right opportunities arise, to expand the company’s portfolio of pubs at a time when the directors’ believe short-term acquisition prices will be reduced. The directors believe that if the Placing is successful, the company will be well placed to grow the business and recover shareholder value once its pubs reopen. The cost base will be reduced and, although the cost base will increase when the pubs reopen, the company will be well financed to enable the pub portfolio to be expanded at a time when the directors believe acquisition prices will be reduced.”

The Restaurant Group (TRG) has placed Food & Fuel its 12-strong London-based pub vehicle, into administration and filed notice of intention to do the same with the majority of its Chiquito-branded estate. The company has appointed restructuring firm RSM as administrator to Food & Fuel and filed a notice of its intention to do the same with Chiquito Limited, which owns 61 Chiquito outlets. Another 20 Chiquito sites that form part of the group’s airport concessions unit are unaffected. A TRG spokesman told Propel: “As we announced in our update to the market on 18 March, covid-19 has had an immediate and significant impact on trading across the group. We have conducted a review of the performance of our business divisions, with a particular focus on the expected cash generation profile of each of our business units. The group believes Food & Fuel Limited and Chiquito Limited will achieve negative Ebitda in the financial year ending 27 December 2020. As a result, the group has taken the difficult decision to appoint an administrator for Food & Fuel Limited and filed a notice of intention to appoint an administrator for Chiquito Limited. The decisions have been incredibly difficult and we recognise the significant impact on all our colleagues that are affected. We thank them for their hard work and commitment during these testing times.” It is understood the administration of Food & Fuel has no impact on the group’s other 74 pubs trading within the Brunning & Price and Ribble Valley Inns entities. The total impact on this is circa 10% of TRG’s roughly 650 sites. TRG acquired the then 11-strong Food & Fuel in September 2018 for £14.9m. Food & Fuel comprises leasehold pubs and cafe bars predominately in affluent London neighbourhoods, providing a premium offering tailored to local markets.

Shepherd Neame chief executive Jonathan NeameBrewer and retailer Shepherd Neame has announced a temporary change to its staffing structure and salary levels to protect jobs for the long term. The company will access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) in which the government will pay 80% of the wages of those affected up to £30,000 per annum. On top of that, Shepherd Neame will fund the wages of all those affected who earn more than £30,000 so they continue to receive 80% of normal pay. All pub staff who are paid hourly will have their pay settled in full for March and on the normal date. Shepherd Neame has requested about 85% of its people step aside from their current roles on a temporary basis. That will affect about 1,300 people across the company’s managed pub estate and head office. For staff that remain in active work, Shepherd Neame will ask the higher-paid members of its team to support the collective effort by implementing a temporary salary cut of between 10% and 15%. The move follows last week’s announcement the company’s directors had volunteered to take a 20% cut in salary. These measures will be implemented in a phased approach in line with business demand, beginning on Sunday (29 March). The company said it was taking these steps in the absence of detailed information from the government and at this stage the initiatives would only apply until the end of April, with the situation regularly reviewed. Chief executive Jonathan Neame (pictured) said: “I am incredibly proud of our people, who have shown great spirit and dedication. Our focus is to protect our people, teams and company for the long term. To do this, we have to ask members of our team to stand aside on a temporary basis while our operational focus is restricted to producing beer for the supermarkets. As soon as the situation improves we will focus our efforts on resuming normal activity.”

Major operators have been warned their stance to withhold payments could force small suppliers and landlords out of business. The owner of a major industry supplier told Propel that while he sympathised with the hospitality sector and understood the actions of operators as they try to save money in the current circumstances, it “might have consequences for others”. He said while small operators might need to make such decisions, he argued the bigger operators, such as JD Wetherspoon, which has asked to withhold supplier payments while its pubs are closed, could afford to continue paying – and should do so. He has asked larger operators what approach they are taking and hopes they will “do the right thing”. He said: “We are 99% allied to the hospitality sector, servicing restaurants and supplying new projects worldwide. Our business and revenue stream also fell off a cliff last week and we have had several letters or emails stating customers are putting a lock-down on payments. While I get this and, of course, we’re also having to manage our payments to our suppliers, I would like to have some clarity on what approach the bigger operators are taking with this. Are they going to pay or part pay their suppliers for work or goods that have already been carried out or supplied or simply also lock down their payments?” Campaign for Real Ale chief executive Tom Stainer said: “This crisis has been devastating for the entire pub and brewery industry but what has been particularly pleasing is the positive way most have pulled together to offer mutual support. We call on all in the industry, especially the larger companies that may be better placed to survive this crisis, to do all they can to help out the suppliers that could be facing permanent closure if payments due are withheld.”

Chris Chapman, Hall & WoodhouseDorset-based brewer and retailer Hall & Woodhouse has extended support for its Business Partner estate by cancelling all rent and service charges and suspending loan repayments for eight weeks. This company was originally going to suspend the payments for four weeks. Head of business partnerships Chris Chapman (pictured) said: “We are grateful to the government for making employee retention support available and providing business interruption loans or grants to our business partners but feel it’s only right we enhance that help. We will adjust our support according to any advancement. We will come through this together and, when we do, we want our business partners to have the finances in place to allow them to recover as quickly as possible.” The family-owned brewer operates 180 pubs stretching from Bristol to Brighton. Mark Woodhouse stepped down as chairman earlier this year to be replaced by Anthony Woodhouse. Mark Woodhouse is now the company’s family director.

SSP Group SSP Group, the UK-based transport hub foodservice specialist, has raised £216m through an emergency share placing to try to ride out the coronavirus crisis. A total of 86,195,459 new ordinary shares in the capital of the company were placed at a price of 250p each and represented about 19.3% of its share capital prior to the placing. Among the investors were existing shareholders Blackrock and Merian Global Investors, which acquired 21 million and 7.7 million shares respectively, while group chief executive Simon Smith acquired 60,000 shares. The company said it had agreed a new £112m, 18-month credit facility with HSBC, Lloyds and NatWest banks, which would bolster its cash reserves. It also said it expected to qualify for the UK government’s scheme for supporting businesses through the coronavirus shutdown. The company also deferred payment of its final dividend to June and said it wouldn’t pay a dividend for the first half of 2020, while also suspending share buybacks. Like-for-like sales in the UK and Europe are running between 80% and 85% lower year-on-year, with air worse than rail. It said in North America like-for-likes were down 80% and 60% in the rest of the world. SSP said it had temporarily shut some units and cut opening hours at others and was halting openings planned for the second half of the year while “significantly” cutting salary across its senior management. On debt issues the company said it was confident in its ability to meet its covenant thresholds on 31 March and expected to have up to £200m of cash and undrawn committed facilities before the new funding, at the end of the first half. It forecast March revenue would drop up to 45% compared with a year ago, reducing revenue by about £125m – to £135m – and operating profit by up to £60m. SSP stated: “Looking into the second half of the financial year (April to September 2020) our central planning assumption is recent trading conditions seen through March 2020 are likely to deteriorate further.”

Box park chief executive Roger WadeBoxpark has said it won’t charge its tenants rent or service fees while its venues are closed. Chief executive Roger Wade (pictured) said the business would work closely with food delivery companies to boost its traders’ online presence and help them get on to delivery platforms. He added the company was exploring operating delivery-only kitchens for traders who wished to remain open. The company shut its sites in Shoreditch, Croydon and Wembley at midnight on Friday (20 March). Wade said: “Boxpark’s success would be nothing without its loyal customers, fantastic traders and hard-working staff. This is undoubtedly a challenging time for our traders and we’re determined to do everything we can to support them throughout this crisis. We’re working with each of our traders to ensure they know how to apply for government support and access it quickly if they need to. Let’s remember this is only a temporary situation and we’re confident we’ll be back soon to welcome everyone home. We’re all in this together.”

KFCYum Brands has temporarily closed 7,000 restaurants around the globe and said the impact of coronavirus on like-for-like sales would grow progressively worse. The company, which has more than 50,000 outlets, has firmed up its cash position as a precaution and borrowed $525m from its revolving credit facility. It stated in a regulatory filing that like-for-like sales for the quarter ended 31 March will decline in a range of mid-to-high single digits. However, because the duration of the crisis is unclear, the company said like-for-like sales are likely to slide even more for the quarter ended 30 June. The plunge in sales comes as governments around the world have ordered restaurants to close dine-in operations, limiting sales to delivery, takeaway or drive-thru. All four of Yum’s brands – Taco Bell, KFC, Pizza Hut and The Habit Burger Grill – have switched to a “low contact” to-go model, where permitted. Some Taco Bell restaurants have stopped serving breakfast. With the UK on lock-down, more than 900 KFCs have closed. Yum Brands said it was helping franchisees navigate by keeping off-premise operations open in the safest manner possible for employees and consumers. It added: “We are also working with franchisees who need more access to capital and are in good standing with the company to provide assistance, including grace periods for certain near-term payments where necessary.” As for employees, Yum said workers employed at company-owned restaurants would get paid if they were required to stay at home or if they worked at a restaurant that had closed. Payment will be based on their regularly scheduled hours during their time away from work. “Yum is actively working with its franchise partners to encourage a similar approach,” the company said.

Businesses will be allowed to apply for a three-month extension before filing their accounts. The joint initiative between the government and Companies House will mean businesses can prioritise managing the impact of the coronavirus crisis. Under normal circumstances, companies are issued with an automatic penalty if they file their accounts late. As part of the agreed measures, while companies will still have to apply for the three-month extension, those citing issues to do with covid-19 will be automatically and immediately granted an extension. Applications can be made through a fast-track online system. Business secretary Alok Sharma said: “We have outlined a business support package on an unprecedented scale, backing companies and their employees through these challenging times. But it’s important our support isn’t limited to financial assistance. We’re determined to help businesses in any way we can so they can focus efforts on dealing with the impact of coronavirus. This new offer of a three-month extension for filing accounts is part of that.” Companies House chief executive Louise Smyth added: “By easing the burden, we can help businesses through this period and enable them to thrive in the future.”

Lina Stores Delicatessen brand Lina Stores has raised more than £21,000 in the first week since launching a Go Fund Me page to help Londoners in need. For each £10,000 raised, Lina Stores can provide 4,000 meals by sending meal kits to those in the capital who need it most. Each kit contains enough food to make ten meals and includes handmade pasta, sauces and cheese. All donations are being spent on supplies and to pay staff to produce the kits. The Italian delicatessen first opened in Soho 75 years ago. The company opened a second site, in King’s Cross, in November. White Rabbit Fund-backed Lina Stores also opened a 51-cover restaurant in Greek Street, Soho, in 2018. Lina Stores head chef Masha Rener said: “We want to look after London – the community that has been supporting us for over 75 years. We have the resources and the team and we now need your support to feed as many people as we can.” To donate, visit the Go Fund Me website and search for “Lina Stores”. Meanwhile, game expert Mac & Wild, which operates two Scottish restaurants in London and one in the Highlands, has moved its butcher’s counter online. Produce from the Highlands is available for delivery across the UK and comes with cooking recommendations, recipes and details on storage and freezing.

What are you doing? How are you diverting your resources? Email paul.charity@propelinfo.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Millennials / Students enjoying soft drinksMore than two-thirds (70%) of people aim to return to their previous patterns of behaviour when the coronavirus pandemic ends, while 5% plan to increase their spend, according to research by marketing, technology and data company CACI.

Its report highlighting the outbreak’s impact on the property and retail sectors also showed the crisis is likely to accelerate underlying consumer trends such as increased digital and social engagement; rising localism and local delivery; and a greater connection to community.

The report said these evolving consumer trends would, in turn, accelerate industry trends such as the merging of physical and digital; the growth of the online halo effect; and the changing role of outlets to connect brand and customer. CACI said there was an opportunity to capitalise on the rapid changes with retailers and landlords working together to deliver a cohesive, community-led offer.

CACI director Alex McCulloch said: “Our findings reflect that despite the extraordinary times we are in, people are focused on coming out the other side. At these early stages, with government restrictions being put in place across the country, it can be difficult to see light at the end of the tunnel. However, this is also a time of opportunity, with the biggest winners being local shops and online shopping. The property and retail sector has the opportunity to capitalise on the rapid changes. When restrictions lift, the industry needs to listen and adapt to changing consumer trends.”

CACI is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

Wasabi, Pancras SquareWasabi, the sushi and bento chain led by Henry Birts, is looking to work with more operators to provide food for those that need it most as it looks to leverage its central production unit (CPU) and distribution capabilities.

The move comes after the business temporarily closed the seven sites it had continued to operate for delivery and takeaway only.

Birts told Propel: “We tried to keep as many stores open for as long as possible while it was safe for staff and customers to provide food for key workers and NHS staff. Now we want to be part of the solution of getting food to people who need it most.

“Through our CPU at Park Royal and our vans, we’re able to provide meals through our Home Bento range that can be distributed across the capital. We can leverage the CPU to produce more of these or support distribution of food where required. We are already working with great initiatives such as the Felix Project and City Harvest to make sure our surplus stock doesn’t go to waste. We are also working with other operators and UKHospitality to make sure we can distribute more food to those that need it – but it would be great to see others join us.”

Wasabi, which is backed by Capdesia, launched its ready-made meals range in Sainsbury’s stores in early 2019.

Grind coffee tinCoffee and cocktail brand Grind has said the government’s support package will ensure there are no job losses at the company. Grind has now closed its last three sites that were offering takeaway only – in Exmouth Market, Greenwich and Shoreditch.

In an email to customers, Grind founder David Abrahamovitch wrote: “The past week has been the hardest we’ve faced at Grind, throwing the life and livelihoods of the entire Grind family into question.

“We promised to stand behind our teams and, thanks to the support from the government, we couldn’t be more relieved to say we will financially support our entire team through the next few months. No-one at Grind will lose their job as a result of this virus.

“For almost ten years we’ve brought you together across London but now it’s more important than ever we remain apart for the safety of our teams and customers. When this is over, we’ll see you at the Grind.”

Meanwhile KFC, which will have closed all its sites by Wednesday (25 March), told the Evening Standard jobs would be “waiting for staff when we reopen”. A spokesman said: “All our franchise partners are committed to doing all they can – with support from the UK and Irish governments – to protect their teams’ typical earnings as much as possible.”

Greek street food restaurant group The Athenian, meanwhile, is looking to open several delivery-only kitchens with Deliveroo Editions, inside and outside London. Until then, all Athenian staff are being given a weekly parcel with items such as lentils, tomatoes, pasta, olive oil, lettuce and toilet roll in addition to the free meals they receive during their shifts. The company said it would try to retain every member of staff during the crisis.

TipjarThe founders of Tipjar, the peer-to-peer tipping and tip-sharing concept, have launched the Hospitality Workers Emergency Fund in partnership with Hospitality Action. James Brown, who is also BrewDog retail director, said: “This industry built so many of us we wanted to do what we could to help in return and we had access to the technology to do so. We have partnered with Hospitality Action and built a platform for businesses and communities to donate funds for workers in their city or town. If they want to raise money for staff in a specific local pub, they can apply to do so. We hoped the government would announce something better and our project would be a waste of our time but, sadly, I’m not sure we got that.” Tipjar chairman Alex Moore added: “We are donating 100% of money raised to Hospitality Action. We would love other organisations and industry bodies to work with us to raise as much money as we can and get it to those who need it most. These are our people and we need to do whatever we can to help them now.” People can request their own town to have its own page or request a donation page to be set up for a specific pub, with Tipjar donating proceeds to pub staff directly.

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

BT Banner March 2020

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

Brandon Stephens interview

Propel coronavirus crisis interviews

Brandon Stephens, founder of Tortilla interviewed by Mark Wingett

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Propel Quarterly Spring 2020

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