Star Pubs & Bars

Story of the Day:

Managed pub like-for-likes up 2.7% in July but restaurant sales plummet 4.8%

Peter Martin, CGA PeachThe heatwave in July was good news for Britain’s pubs but heaped more pressure on the country’s restaurant chains, the latest Coffer Peach Business Tracker has revealed. Managed pub and bar groups saw like-for-like sales rise 2.7% against July 2017, while sales across restaurant groups plummeted, down a substantial 4.8% in like-for-like trading. Overall, the differing fortunes of pub and restaurant businesses cancelled each other out, with the combined sector seeing like-for-likes flat in July, recording exactly 0% growth. Peter Martin (pictured), vice-president of CGA, the business insight consultancy that produces the tracker, in partnership with Coffer Group and RSM, said: “Continued sunshine and England’s longer-than-expected participation in the World Cup meant July followed a similar pattern to the previous month of June, when pubs were up 2.8%, except restaurants were hit even harder. The fall of 1.8% in trading in June just got worse in July. Wet-led pubs and bars performed by far the strongest, with like-for-likes up more than restaurants were down. Food-led pubs also suffered in the sun with negative like-for-likes, although not as dramatically as the restaurant operators. It seems people just wanted to go out for a drink. Across managed pubs and bars drink sales were up 6.6% for the month, with food down 3.0%.” Underlying like-for-like growth for the 47 companies in the tracker cohort, which represents both large and small groups, was running at 0.5% for the 12 months to the end of July, down slightly from the 0.7% at the end of June. Trevor Watson, executive director at Davis Coffer Lyons, said: “London had a particularly strong month with overall like-for-like sales up 2.6%. This was driven predominantly by the capital’s pubs market – buoyed by England’s unexpected progression at the World Cup – which was trading 6.1% ahead. The rest of the country had a more difficult period with like-for-like sales down 0.9%. Restaurant trading fell a painful 5.6% – compared with 2.8% in the capital – with pub like-for-likes up just 1.7% despite the football.” Total sales growth across the pub and restaurant cohort, which includes the effect of new openings, was 2.7% in July, reflecting a slowdown in brand roll-outs, and running at 3.6% for the 12 months to the end of July.

Pizza Hut UK reports like-for-likes down 1%, back on acquisition trail for first time in five years:

Pizza Hut Delivery's new concept store in LutonPizza Hut UK has reported like-for-like sales were down 1% for the year ending 3 December 2017 but is back on the acquisition trail for the first time in five years as its refurbishment programme nears completion. Turnover fell 3% to £225,210,000 compared with £232,719,000 the previous year. Trading Ebitda was £30.4m, which was 7% ahead of the year before. The company reported an operating loss, excluding exceptional items, of £390,000 compared with a profit of £7,355,000 the previous year because of an increase in royalty rates under its franchise agreement and the prior financial year being 53 weeks. Pizza Hut UK had exceptional costs of £6.6m, including £4.7m from the early termination of leases, according to accounts filed at Companies House. At the year-end its estate stood at 262 sites, down four from the year before. The company reported a total of 214 restaurants had been refurbished at the year end – about 80% of the estate. It also launched its “counter service” model, in Coventry, and a further 11 sites were rolled out by the end of 2017. The project is focused on restaurants with lower sales, and simplifies the operation with “greet and seat” with customers paying at the till point when they are ready to place their order. It features self-serve condiments, drinks, salad and Ice Cream Factory. The concept is supported by a “modest” capital investment with work continuing in 2018 to refine and further test the model. During 2017, the company opened its first new site since 2012, at the White Rose shopping centre in Leeds. Pizza Hut UK said while there had been “slightly higher” discounting on prices than the prior year, it made “a conscious decision not to embark in widespread discounting seen across many of our competitors”. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “The focus of Pizza Hut over the past five years has been to consolidate, refurbish and strengthen the existing estate. While many competitors have rapidly expanded via roll-out of new locations, it was management’s view there was greater opportunity for Pizza Hut to focus on the existing estate. With the consolidation and refurbishment largely completed, management is now looking at targeted and appropriate new site opportunities.” As a result of the exceptional costs, the company reported a pre-tax loss of £7,512,000 compared with a profit of £5,222,000 the previous year. In April, the management team completed a buyout of the company from Rutland Partners in an estimated £100m deal.

Other News:

Elliotts managing director Anthony KnightElliotts, the integrated agency for the hospitality and leisure sector, has appointed Anthony Knight (pictured) as managing director. Knight, Restaurant Marketer & Innovator’s Future Marketing Leader of the Year, will join Elliotts full-time in September, bringing a wealth of experience in marketing and communications. As well as his role as managing director, he will lead Elliotts’ digital and social teams. Most recently Knight was group sales and marketing director at Maxwell’s Restaurants Group, where he was responsible for leading the marketing and sales strategy for venues such as Café de Paris, Tropicana Beach Club and Maxwell’s Bar and Grill. During that period Knight championed loyalty initiatives and new approaches to customer engagement and experience, in-venue and digitally, generating global coverage for Maxwell’s response to the Pokémon Go phenomenon and the launch of Tropicana Beach Club, which won Maxwell’s a “best use of social media” award. Elliotts chief executive Ann Elliott said: “I am delighted Anthony will join us as managing director. His incredibly strong knowledge and experience in digital marketing and the industry will be pivotal for the agency as we continue our ambitious plans and expand our range of services.” Knight added: “Elliotts has a fantastic reputation for being creative, connected and results driven. Combine this with ambitious growth plans and the opportunity to join them as managing director was irresistible. I am excited at the prospect of working with Ann and to be part of the talented team with high ambitions for the impact we can achieve.” Elliotts recently won three PR accounts – McCain Foodservice, Marston’s (Kirin Ichiban) and new quick-service restaurant concept Pizza Sqr.

Bar company Burning Night Group has closed its Bierkeller site in Cardiff with redevelopment work around Stadium Plaza where the venue is based having a “unsustainable” impact on the business. Staff at the three bars in the complex – Bierkeller Bavarian bar, sports bar Shooters and Around the World bar and lounge – have been informed, and customers with advanced bookings are being notified. David Howarth, operations manager for Burning Night Group, which owns and operates Bierkellers in six cities across the UK, said the decision was made in the interests of the business as a whole. He said: “It is obviously regrettable we are having to close our Cardiff site but after a detailed cost analysis we felt it was the most beneficial thing to do for the company, which has hundreds of employees around the country. The location of the venue has played a huge part in its success in the past – having the Champions League final at the stadium in 2017 was an incredible night for the city and for us – but unfortunately it has also caused issues that have ultimately contributed to this decision.” Chief executive Allan Harper said ongoing redevelopment work had been highly detrimental to the business. He added: “The closure of Cardiff has been caused primarily by the major city centre redevelopment works surrounding the venue for the past two-and-a-half years. With further disruption planned, and the prospect of work continuing for another two years, the related trade impact has unfortunately made the site unsustainable. We will look to reopen Cardiff in the future should the redevelopment be in its final stages and the area then looks viable.”

Former Champs operator Danny Grayson has teamed up with local businessman James Dobson to launch micro sports bar concept Sport ShackFormer Champs operator Danny Grayson has teamed up with local businessman James Dobson to launch a micro sports bar concept in Sheffield. Grayson, who operated the Champs format with Punch, has created Sport Shack, with the first venue opening in Ecclesall Road in September. Sport Shack will focus on live sports screening Sky and BT Sport throughout the year on a number of 4K televisions. It will also offer locally sourced food and cask ale as well as mainstream keg lager and beer. Grayson said: “There is a niche in the market for this type of establishment. Having owned Champs in Ecclesall Road for six years we found it hard to fill a big venue. Sport Shack will be smaller but will focus on a better atmosphere with our slogan: ‘Small on size, big on atmosphere.’ This brand will be rolled out to more establishments in the near future.”

The Alchemist, which is backed by Palatine Private Equity, has unveiled a new look for its flagship central London site. Bevis Marks has undergone a £280,000 refurbishment to realign with the look and feel of The Alchemist’s most recent openings, including Cardiff. The design focuses on trademark “copper-cased wonderland” decor with interiors featuring amber, copper and red accompanied by gothic artwork to create a “richer, more immersive and shareable bar and restaurant experience”. Bevis Marks is the brand’s first London venue. Opening in 2014, it has sold one million cocktails, the company said. Londoners will soon be able to enjoy two further Alchemist sites with a St Martin’s Lane opening in November and another in Old Street in March 2019. The Alchemist head of brand Jenny McPhee said: “The design of our venues is paramount to the overall Alchemist experience. As the brand has evolved and grown, so has the look and feel of The Alchemist environments. Our guests will really see a difference in our design and offering as we aim to elevate our venues with each launch and refurbishment. We have two further London openings within the next year, and it is important to us that all London venues incorporate the new Alchemist style.” The Alchemist also has sites in Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Newcastle, Chester, Oxford and Nottingham, while it will launch new bar concept Aether in Liverpool next month.

The historic Headland Hotel in Cornwall, which featured in the film adaptation of Roald Dahl story The Witches, has reported a rise in turnover and profit that is being invested back into further upgrades. Headland Hotel Company saw turnover increase to £9,036,568 for the year ending 30 November 2017, compared with £8,394,023 the year before, according to accounts filed at Companies House. Pre-tax profit was up to £1,657,820, compared with £1,333,820 the previous year. The grade II-listed, 96-bedoom, four-star hotel opened in 1900 and was taken over by current owners the Armstrong family in March 1979. In 1987, The Witches, starring Anjelica Huston, was filmed at the venue, which overlooks Fistral Bay, near Newquay. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “The directors are confident their continued investment across the whole business will maintain The Headland’s position as the most iconic and leading hotel in the west country and beyond. At significant expense and substantial capital investment, the new-build Aquatic Centre is under construction and will incorporate an all-weather, year-round, state-of-the-art, multiple pool complex complete with a Mediterranean lead restaurant. This is expected to open the very latter part of 2019.”

St Christopher’s Inns, which is owned by pan-European hostel and bar company Beds and Bars, has launched a joint marketing partnership with Mad Monkey Hostels to increase direct bookings. St Christopher’s Inns operates 21 sites in 11 countries, while Mad Monkey is one of the largest hostel companies in Asia with ten locations in four countries. Both companies will promote each other’s properties and collaborate on marketing initiatives to increase direct bookings via discounts and special rates. They will also collaborate on content and social media communications, while there will be staff discounts across both portfolios. St Christopher’s Inns managing director Murray Roberts said: “With Asian customers becoming a growing percentage of our customer base and with Mad Monkey’s leadership position in Asia, this agreement helps us extend our direct reach.” Mad Monkey Hostels chairman Steve Vaile added: “St Christopher’s hostels have an amazing social atmosphere and offer an excellent food and beverage experience. It is also a socially responsible business with a great impact on its communities. That’s what our customers are looking for and we are confident any Mad Monkey customer will love staying at St Christopher’s, and vice versa.”

Coyote Ugly has opened its fourth UK site, in Swansea. The bar has taken over part of the former Aspers Casino in Wind Street. The first branch in Wales opened in 2016, in Cardiff. The successful US film from 2000, which starred Tyra Banks, John Goodman and Adam Garcia, is the inspiration behind the venues, which feature women, known as “coyotes”, singing and dancing on the bar. Coyote Ugly now operates in 26 locations in seven countries. The Swansea venue features the chain’s longest bar to date, measuring 18 metres. The opening has created 50 jobs.

The Ivy Bush in Carmarthen, which has been acquired by Compass Hospitality GroupThailand-based Compass Hospitality Group has acquired the Ivy Bush Royal Hotel in Carmarthen, Wales, off a guide price of £2.7m. The company has bought the property – its 16th in the UK – from Paul and Ann Jaycock in a deal brokered by agents Christie & Co. The 18th century building in the town centre features 70 en-suite bedrooms, a bar, restaurant, private function spaces, and leisure facilities such as a gym and sauna. The business will continue to be managed by existing staff under the direction of Compass Hospitality Holdings (UK), which operates hotels in Thailand, Malaysia and the UK, including the Citrus Hotel in Cardiff. Compass Hospitality chief executive Harmil Singh said: “Our maiden entry to Wales, in Cardiff, has proven extremely successful and we are pleased to further expand our business in Wales. While the Ivy Bush Royal Hotel is already performing very well, particularly in the food and beverage sector, we feel there is opportunity to further grow the business through synergies with the other hotels in our portfolio as well as a strategic refurbishment programme.” Paul Jaycock added: “After 28 years of active ownership of a number of hospitality businesses in Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion, Ann and I have decided to retire.”

The Royal Institute for Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has honoured Pub Is The Hub chief executive John Longden in an initiative to celebrate its 150th anniversary year. Longden has been selected for profile in the RICS’ Pride In The Profession campaign for his work with not-for-profit organisation Pub Is The Hub. Pride In The Profession showcases the positive impact surveyors have made to society. Longden previously spent his career as a chartered surveyor working with Grand Metropolitan in the 1980s and as tied trade director in the north. In 1989 he managed the pub and hotels portfolio for Bass and Holiday Inn, followed by the main board at Greenalls as group director and from 2001 as a consultant in private practice with surveyors Gerald Eve. His work at Pub Is The Hub has seen it grow from a one-man-band to a national organisation with a growing team of largely voluntary, field-based advisors and supporters. In 2012, Pub Is The Hub launched its Community Services Fund with backing from Diageo and the government. Its aim is to fund licensees to help them develop new community services at their pubs. In 2014, Longden was awarded an OBE in the New Year’s Honours list for voluntary services to rural communities in the UK.

Handmade Burger CompanyAn outstanding directors loan account (DLA) of £1.1m owed by three Handmade Burger Company directors is “likely to be irrecoverable”, a new document has revealed. A progress report for The Sargeant Partnership, trading as Handmade Burger Company, filed at Companies House by administrators Conrad Beighton and Paul Masters, of Leonard Curtis, said all three directors – Matthew Sargeant, Richard Sargeant and Christopher Sargeant – had all now been declared bankrupt. The DLA was estimated to be overdrawn by £1,097,000. The report stated: “Based on the financial position of each of the three directors, and the crystallisation of significant personal guarantee liabilities upon the administration of the company, it was considered likely the DLA would be irrecoverable. Creditors will recall Matthew Sargeant and Richard Sargeant had been declared bankrupt and the information available suggested there would be no return the unsecured creditors of either bankruptcy estate. Nonetheless, the administrators submitted a claim in each bankruptcy estate in respect of the amount owing to the company. During the period of this report, and in the absence of a response from Christopher Sargeant for payment of the amount owing in respect of the DLA, the administrators instructed Squire Patton Boggs to issue a statutory demand against Christopher Sargeant in respect of the amount due. However, during the period between issuing instructions to Squire Patton Boggs and issuing the statutory demand, the administrators received notice Christopher Sargeant had declared himself bankrupt on 13 March 2018. Based on the information available at present, it appears likely that there will be no return available to the unsecured creditors of Christopher Sargeant’s bankruptcy estate. Nonetheless, the joint administrators submitted a claim in the bankruptcy estate in respect of the amount owing to the company. It is unlikely any realisation will be achieved in this regard. However, administrators will continue to liaise with the trustees of each director’s bankruptcy estate and creditors will be updated further in this regard in due course.” The report also showed secured creditor Bank of Scotland, which was owed £856,771, had not received a further distribution to the £400,000 it had following the sale of the business to The Burger Chain, which now trades as Handmade Burger Company. The administrators said there “may be sufficient funds available to declare a further distribution in accordance with the terms of its floating charge security” but the timing was uncertain. Meanwhile, fellow secured creditor Birmingham City Council, which is owed £411,000 and previously received a distribution of £30,000 following the sale, was unlikely to receive any further payment. Security Trustee Services, which is owed £280,000, is unlikely to receive any payment. Preferential creditors claims, which are mostly that of employees, total £185,614 and the administrators said after settlement of costs, asset realisations may be sufficient to make a distribution. Unsecured claims are estimated to total £10,627,432 and so far claims totalling £5,885,361 have been received. The administrators said based on the current information, there will not be sufficient funds available to make a distribution. The report also revealed the six restaurants that were not sold as part of the administration has received no further interest. The administrators said they had issued requests to the respective landlords to agree a surrender of the respective restaurants. A deed of surrender has now been completed in respect of the lease relating to Trinity Walk, Wakefield, but the landlords of the remaining restaurants have not accepted the proposal.

Hakkasan Las VegasUK-based restaurant and nightclub company Hakkasan Group has revealed it has been streamlining its portfolio to focus on core performing assets as it reported pre-tax losses jumped to $145.5m. The company saw turnover fall to $313,647,000 for the year ending 30 June 2017, compared with $338,930,000 the previous year. Adjusted Ebitda dropped 88% to $2,247,000 compared with $18,696,000 the year before due to the reduction in turnover and increased non-exceptional administrative costs. Pre-tax losses rose to $145,494,000, compared with a loss of $56,316,000 the previous year. UK revenue dropped 11% to $54,188,000, compared with $60,572,000 the year before. US sales fell 7% to $243,946,000 compared with $262,508,000 the previous year, while rest of the world revenue was down 2% to $15,513,000 compared with $15,850,000 the year before. Since year-end the company has closed or is in the process of shutting five restaurants. The portfolio streamline led to $31m of tangible and intangible assets being impaired during the financial year. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “The year to 30 June 2017 has been a year of moderate growth within the owned-brand portfolio, with openings of two locations of the Yauatcha brand within the US. These were the first two instalments of the Yauatcha brand outside London. Since the year end, there has been some continued growth as we opened a Herringbone in Waikiki (August 2017) and a nightclub and restaurant within the Cosmo Entertainment associate venture (Poppy nightclub in September 2017 and Petit Taqueria restaurant in October 2017). Similarly, there has been growth in our managed portfolio, as multiple managed venues have been opened since the year end with development partners in Bali, Indonesia (Omnia Dayclub and Sake No Hana restaurant, both in early February 2018) and in San Jose del Cabo, Mexico (Omnia Dayclub, Herringbone, Casa Cafavera restaurant, and Shorebar, all in February 2018). By contrast, since the end of the year there has also been an active initiative to streamline the portfolio by closing certain venues to allow a greater focus on core performing assets. Furthering the streamlining efforts, the company also sold its interest in J2 Enterprises (Beautique restaurant in New York) in October 2017, and sold its remaining interest in Cosmo Entertainment, LLC and the Cosmo subsidiaries in June 2018. In the US, revenues fell 7%. The principal movement here was a reduction in revenue from social dining and some nightlife and daylife venues, where specifically Omnia Nightclub in Las Vegas saw a reduction in its revenue of 4%. In addition, the results in the prior year included $12.9m in relation to Cosmo, which has been deconsolidated in the year and is therefore no longer included in turnover. In the UK revenues fell 11%, primarily driven by the weak performance of a specific restaurant in the portfolio. Taking account of this, HKK restaurant was closed in October 2017. In the rest of the world, revenue fell 2% and while Shanghai Hakkasan continues to perform well with revenues increasing 7%, this contrasted with a 10% fall in revenues from our Dubai Hakkasan. The group continued to grow fees from managed services increasing other operating income from $12.4m to $15.1m, an increase of 22%. Going forward, the group intends to selectively fund development with an eye towards reducing upfront capital investment by focusing on brands that are less costly to open, such as Yauatcha. In addition, the group will work with select landlords and partners on deal structures that will showcase existing brands, build equity in new brands, and spur growth while minimising costs.” Earlier this month it was reported Hakkasan’s owner – Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment Co – was in talks to sell the company and had seen interest from Spanish dance-club operator Pacha Group and boutique investment firm Certares.

Breakspear chief executive Tom DaviesTom Davies (pictured), chief executive of Henley-based pub operator and brewer Brakspear, has told Propel the opening of its largest site to date – the Frogmill in Gloucestershire – will be the blueprint for its managed estate. Davies said the company was focused on trying to open bigger sites that were multifaceted as it grew the 12-strong division. The Frogmill in Shipton Oliffe, near Andoversford, opened last month following an extensive eight-month redevelopment of the 16th century inn. Comprising a 100-cover restaurant, bar, 28 boutique bedrooms and wedding and conference facilities for up to 150 guests, it is the biggest project in Brakspear’s 240-year history. Davies said: “The Frogmill has given us a new dimension to our business and that’s the line we’re looking at. We’ve taken a risk with it but it’s been trading its socks off. It’s a more multifaceted business. It’s a wedding venue, which is a new avenue for us and offers various income streams. This is something I’d like to see us doing more of. When we started the managed business we were looking at sites doing £1m net a year. That level for our managed houses is not really enough any more. We’re looking for businesses that can add £40,000 to £50,000 a week to our turnover.” Brakspear previously stated it was looking to build a 20-strong managed estate by 2020 but Davies said it might not reach that mark now. He added: “It could be a stretch given we’re looking for bigger properties. There’s nothing else in the pipeline as of today – over the next six months we’re concentrating on bedding in the new management team in the division following the restructure in the first quarter of the year. Staffing is also a big headache, not just for us but the whole industry, so having fewer sites where staff are more concentrated would help. We are a freehold business – I’m still not interested in leases. It’s about finding the right sites. I’m in no rush – the business has been around a long time and will continue to be in the future.” While the managed division has become a key focus for the company, Davies said the leased and tenanted estate was, and would remain, the core part of the business. He said: “We have about 125 leased and tenanted properties versus 12 managed. There’s a lot of noise around the managed estate because it’s newer but we’re continuing to invest in the tenanted and leased side – it’s of huge importance.” Davies said trading in 2018 was up on last year although the snow in March meant things started “pretty grim”. He added: “The World Cup was fantastic and the hot weather has also helped trading, although we have found food sales are coming under pressure as people enjoy barbecues at home. The drinks side of the business is certainly holding up well.”

The Black Horse in Monkseaton, which is the 250th pub under Ei Group's Beacon tenancy modelEi Group’s leased and tenanted division Ei Publican Partnerships has opened the 250th pub under its Beacon managed tenancy model. The Black Horse in Monkseaton, run by Danny Cox and Phil Campo, has been trading well since opening and has already secured a nomination for the Ei Awards of Excellence. Beacon director Mark Brooke said: “We will take momentum from this as we target further growth over the coming years. The Beacon model gives publicans regular contact, support and access to the decades of knowledge our business has amounted. Combined with passion and enthusiasm, it’s proved time and again to be a recipe for success.” Ei Publican Partnerships regional manager Marcus Parton added: “The Beacon model gives publicans the support needed to create community-focused pubs that deliver exceptional experiences and memories. Danny and Phil have fast become excellent operators, going above and beyond by running events, engaging with regulars and keeping a keen attention to detail. I look forward to working with them and watching them thrive.” Campo said: “The Beacon model has been pivotal in providing us with the support, knowledge and operational knowhow we need to drive the business forward. Trading is going extremely well and we are exploring opportunities to extend our lease at the site and renovate an upstairs function room while looking at taking on further sites under the model.”

London-based Urban Pubs and Bars, the company founded by Nick Pring and Malcolm Heap after they sold their previous business Realpubs to Greene King, has secured its 14th site, giving the company the same number of sites the pair ran when Realpubs was sold. Pring told Propel: “We are turning over a lot more money than Realpubs was at the same size – and we have hardly any bank debt. We have been seeing high double-digit like-for-like sales for quite some time.” The company has exchanged contracts on The Opera Tavern in Covent Garden, a Shaftesbury leasehold site formerly run by four-strong Salt Yard Group. Pring said: “All the Salt Yard Group venues are great – we eat in them regularly. We have a lot of admiration for what they are doing. This is a great opportunity for us to get into central London, an area we’re not really in at the moment.” Urban Pubs and Bars is understood to have a number of other sites in legals and has grown its head office team to cope with a pipeline of new sites. The company is also close to securing a second site for its pizza concept, Well Street Pizza, which launched three years ago in Hackney. Pring said: “The site has got stronger and stronger over the three years – we saw 35% growth last year. Our pizza is really good – and quality food prevails. Delivery accounts for half the sales at the site.” A recent TripAdvisor review of the venue stated: “I love pizza and this place does some of the best in London. Simple pizzas, well made and delish. Great wine list, warm friendly service. Genuinely, what’s not to like?”

Pizza Sqr, which has been launched by Cosmo Group founder Tom ChanCosmo Group founder Tom Chan is to launch grab-and-go concept Pizza Sqr at Intu Merry Hill shopping centre in the Midlands on Saturday (18 August). The 800 square foot site will offer square pizza slices alongside handmade sandwiches, soup, pastries and authentic Italian coffee. The menu, available to eat in or take away, will see a rotation of recipes with more than 20 pizzas available daily, while the opening has created 50 jobs. Pizza Sqr operations manager Davide Cason said: “We believe everyone deserves a taste of what’s good in life and we have spent more than 18 months researching, training and sourcing our ingredients to offer a unique and authentic concept. We have based our menu on traditional recipes from Rome, combining the freshest ingredients and seasonal toppings to offer real Italian pizza. We can’t wait for the people of Dudley to try it.” Intu plans to build a 180,000 square foot leisure extension at Merry Hill, which will introduce more restaurants and a cinema. Intu regional managing director Nick Round said: “We are investing millions to transform Intu Merry Hill. Exciting new dining concepts such as Pizza Sqr are a key focus of our plans to update the centre’s leisure offer.” The company has said it harbours ambitious expansion plans to open 100 stores in the next five years.

Crowdcube has reported more than £500m has been pledged by investors on the crowdfunding platform since its launch in 2011. This has resulted in more than 700 successful fund-raises, with sector businesses such as Australia-inspired restaurant group Daisy Green Collection, Harts Group, and London-based coffee shop and wine bar concept Notes among those companies to benefit. Crowdcube said one common trait among the growing number of fund-raises was the increased participation by venture capital firms. The majority (60%) of pledged investment via Crowdcube’s platform comes from high net worth and sophisticated investors, who typically invest larger sums. The platform has also opened opportunities to everyday investors of all ages. Since Crowdcube was founded, there have been more than 40,000 investments worth £21m from under-30s and more than 25,000 investments worth almost £60m from people aged 60 or above. The levels of sophistication in crowdfunding investor strategy are growing, with the average portfolio on Crowdcube now holding six investments. Crowdcube stated: “We have investors from more than 100 countries and in 2018 so far more than 13% of investments have come from outside the UK. Last year, £6.5m was invested via Crowdcube from non-UK Europe, and that figure has already been exceeded in 2018. We can see investor demand is continually growing, with more than £95m of the £500m pledged invested in 2017 alone. Two record quarters mean we’re on track to exceed that figure by some margin this year.”

Two former sites of Delisserie, the New York deli and grill concept, have been snapped up by a pair of American-style operators. North London eatery Hudsons American Brasserie and Pinner-based dessert parlour Indulge Dessert Lounge have secured the properties through agents CDG Leisure. CDG worked with insolvency agents Williams and Partners to secure a 2,830 square foot unit at the former Delisserie restaurant in Shenley Road, Borehamwood, for Hudsons and a 1,700 square foot unit in Buckingham Parade, Stanmore, for Indulge. Hudsons is the brainchild of former Delisserie director Martin Ment. Established in 2015, Hudsons offers American-inspired cuisine and has venues in Mill Hill and Whetstone. Indulge Dessert Lounge offers waffles, crepes and pancakes made to order, alongside 25 varieties of ice cream and sorbet. This is the concept’s second site. Emma Cousins, of CDG Leisure, who brokered the deals on behalf of Mark Reynolds, of Valentine & Co, and Adam Harris, of Mazars, the joint liquidators of Delisserie, said: “This is a great outcome for Delisserie and a testament to the strength of the two brands.” Lewis Craig acted as joint agent. CDG Leisure has now secured concepts for four Delisserie restaurants since its instruction on the business earlier in the year. Vegan restaurant group The Gate has taken the restaurant in St John’s Wood for its fourth venue, while all-day bistro Bob’s Café, a concept by Laurel Canyon Ventures, opened its third site at the former Delisserie in Mill Hill in April.

BigDish, the UK-quoted foodservice tech company that operates a yield management platform for restaurants, has bought Looloo, a web and app-based restaurant and travel discovery business focused on the Philippines. BigDish chief executive Joost Boer said: “Looloo is one of the Philippines’ leading platforms in the restaurant and travel discovery space. Founded in 2012, it contains information, recommendations and reviews on restaurants, hotels and travel in the region. It has more than 28,000 restaurants recorded, a monthly average of up to 500,000 unique visits, about 200,000 app installs and more than 320,000 reviews. Across its social media platforms, Looloo has more than 370,000 Facebook and tens of thousands of Instagram and Twitter followers, which have been grown organically.” BigDish directors said they saw great opportunity in Looloo’s platform and large user base, which generates revenue through paid-for content with low overheads and was approaching break-even with strong growth potential. They said: “There are a number of potential synergies between a discovery platform such as Looloo and the BigDish yield management platform we will be exploring in the coming months.” The company stated: “The initial stage of Looloo’s incorporation into BigDish will be to commence marketing the company to Looloo’s current user base via content and email marketing, with a view to organically driving restaurant bookings in the Philippines through the BigDish platform. Additionally, the BigDish logo and a link to the website will be added to every webpage of the Looloo website, which has thousands of web pages within the month, and is expected to increase the company’s brand image in the Philippines. Further consideration to enhance the synergies between the Looloo and BigDish platforms continue to be explored, with the prospect of integrating BigDish reservation functions into Looloo’s website and app in due course.”

London pub retailer Young’s has launched new-build pub restaurant The Naturalist in north London. The venue has opened at new Berkeley development Woodberry Down, near Finsbury Park. The Naturalist is set on the banks of one of the development’s two reservoirs and features outdoor seating, seasonal dishes and a bar serving local craft beer, wine and bespoke cocktails. The Naturalist offers a number of menus throughout the day. As well as fresh pastries, smoothies and hot drinks, dishes on the breakfast and brunch menus include The Naturalist fry up and Suffolk chicken and ham hock with house pickles. Sharing plates include vegetarian option The Woodberry Down (vegetable crudité with squash and white bean dip, black olive pesto, aubergine dip, rapeseed oil and seeded crackers). Main dishes include beetroot and feta barley cakes and 28 day-aged sirloin steak, while there are seasonal fish dishes and a Sunday roast menu. The Woodberry Down development also features cafes and restaurants such as Zer Café & Juice Bar, Italian restaurant Bon Italy and Simply Organique, a health food store and coffee shop. It is set to eventually feature 5,500 homes, three public parks, a community centre, library, schools and a children’s centre.

Airlines UK, the trade body for UK-registered airlines, has said licensing laws at airports need “tightening up”, with airside terminals subject to the same licensing controls as landside. There have already been more than 200 reports from UK airlines in 2018 of incidents involving disruptive passengers, licensing solicitor John Gaunt & Partners told Propel. The latest UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) figures mirror previous years, which have seen more than 400 incidents reported for the past two full years, many involving acts of violent and intimidating behaviour. The number of reports has risen from 98 in 2013 to 417 in 2017. So far there have been 202 reports in 2018, with a total of 1,472 in the past five-and-a-half years. The CAA is calling on airlines and enforcement agencies to “make better use of laws that are already in place” and called for “more travellers to be prosecuted for violent and drunken behaviour”.

CarlsbergCarlsberg has reported total volumes declined 5% in the UK in the first half of the year as its mainstream brand lost market share but its premium brands showed double-digit growth. The company reported total volume growth of 3.4% during the period. Volumes of the Carlsberg brand grew 4%, with “good” growth in several markets including China, India, Malaysia, Russia, Poland and Denmark, partly offset by a decline in the UK. The company’s other premium brands all had strong volume growth – Tuborg (8%), Grimbergen (11%), and 1664 Blanc (55%). Carlsberg saw craft and speciality volume growth of 26% in Western Europe, with alcohol-free brews growing 26% in the region. The company stated: “Based on the strong first-half performance, the upgrade of the expected Funding The Journey benefits and a good start to the third quarter, we adjust our earnings expectations upwards to high single-digit percentage organic growth in operating profit (previously mid single-digit). Chief executive Cees ’t Hart said: “We delivered strong results for the first six months of 2018 with healthy top-line growth, margin improvements across the regions, strong cash flow and continued debt reduction. We’re pleased to be able to adjust our earnings outlook upwards. This is a proof point our SAIL’22 investments support our ambition of sustainable top-line growth.”

BrewDog has offered anyone who invests more than £50,000 in its Equity for Punks V crowdfunding campaign the chance to have a craft beer bar built in their homeScottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has offered anyone who invests more than £50,000 in its Equity for Punks V crowdfunding campaign the chance to have a craft beer bar built in their home. The bar would be designed in BrewDog’s signature industrial style complete with three-tap bar, a fully stocked fridge and a keg of Punk IPA. Earlier this month, BrewDog passed the £20m mark in Equity for Punks V. The company set out in October 2017 to raise £10m in an initial 90-day period and has now secured £20,484,660 from 40,139 investors. The campaign was due to finish in January but was extended until Monday, 15 October or until the maximum potential raise of £50m is reached. With 2.8% equity in the business made available at £23.75 per share, it means BrewDog values its business at £1.8bn. Co-founder James Watt said: “Through Equity for Punks we can offer money-can’t-buy benefits our community will love, and this one is the most exciting yet.”

Marston’s has appointed head brewers at its Oxfordshire and Hampshire breweries, with both rising through the ranks. Following the retirement of Jeff Drew, Maurice Walton has taken over as head brewer at Ringwood Brewery, while Jon Tillson is the new head brewer at Wychwood Brewery in Witney. Walton joined Ringwood Brewery in 2004, while Tillson began at Wychwood on a two-week work experience from school in 1992. Marston’s director of brewing Emma Gilleland said: “It always gives me enormous pleasure to recruit from within the business so the team can see real career progression without leaving the company. I wish Maurice and Jon all the best in their new roles.” Marston’s operates six breweries.

Rosa’s Thai Cafe managing director Gavin Adair has told Propel the company is consistently trading well above the Peach Tracker and is finding “super property deals all over”. The company set up by husband-and-wife team Saiphin and Alex Moore sold a majority stake to private equity firm TriSpan in June, with Adair leading the group’s next phase of growth. Speaking in his first interview since the investment, he said: “We’re trading well above the Peach Tracker and have been for pretty much as long as I can remember. We’re trading against some really big comparables from last year. It’s not price-driven – it’s partly cover-driven and partly delivery-driven out of our existing estate. It’s really encouraging we’ve stayed in significant, positive like-for-like territory, consistently well above Peach, but we’re not resting on our laurels. It’s a difficult market but we don’t want to take price – customers are going to be increasingly under pressure for some time – so the challenge is to keep that going and keep finding the right sites to drive the overall growth, which will be significant with the number of sites we have lined up.” Rosa’s Thai Cafe launched its latest site at One Tower Bridge last month, the fourth opening since Adair joined about 12 months ago. The company has a site lined up in the Albert Docks area of Liverpool, which will act as a “bulkhead for a cluster of restaurants in the north west”. Adair said: “There are deals that are super all over the place but the big risk is to try to go too fast and not control the quality.” Of the company’s new investors, Adair said: “TriSpan is just as excited as I am by the company’s potential. Our business plan is obviously to grow the business by building on the success we’ve had to date. It’s early days but I think TriSpan will be a great partner because it doesn’t want growth for growth’s sake and genuinely seems to buy into my strategy, which is to focus on our teams’ happiness that will, in turn, increase our customers’ happiness and that of our investors. It’s a difficult time in the sector as a whole but we are confident it’s a good time to have invested.” Read the full, exclusive interview with Gavin Adair in the next issue of Propel Quarterly magazine

D&D London founders David Loewi and Des GunewardenaRestaurant operator D&D London is to launch its Bluebird brand in New York next month. The venue will open in Manhattan on Wednesday, 5 September in a 10,400 square foot space on the third floor of the Time Warner Centre, near Central Park. D&D London chairman and chief executive Des Gunewardena said the opening would mark a new international era for Bluebird as the brand looked to expand across the world. He said the sister site would bring the “buzz and familiar charm” of the Chelsea original to New York. The venue will consist of an 88-cover cafe, 102-cover restaurant, private dining room, bar and lounge. Led by executive chef Nicolas Houlbert, Bluebird’s menu will combine influences from both sides of the Atlantic and change with the seasons. British classics such as fish and chips will remain on the menu alongside a British take on American Cobb salad. Desserts will include an almond and sour cherry Chelsea bun and an orange marmalade Bakewell tart with yogurt sorbet. The drinks list will feature British and American cocktails, beer and wine. Gunewardena said: “Bluebird is quintessentially British – celebrated for its buzz, glamour and food in London – and we are thrilled to be bringing this to New York City.” D&D London plans to open another restaurant in New York next year, in the Hudson Yards development. Gunewardena and David Loewi (both pictured) founded the company in 2006 following a buyout of Conran Restaurants, a deal that included the original Bluebird in King’s Road. A second Bluebird opened in White City in April.

This year’s Bar and Nightclub Conference, organised by UKHospitality and Propel, has opened for bookings. It takes place on Monday, 8 October at Bafta, Piccadilly. Speakers will be Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, chair of the Mayor’s Night-time Commission and a panel member of the government’s cultural cities inquiry; Karl Chessell, who heads CGA’s retailer business unit; Simon Potts, managing director of award-winning bar and restaurant brand The Alchemist; Toby Smith, chief executive of Novus; Alan Lorrimer, founder and managing director of House of Song; Charlie Gilkes, founder of Inception Group; Andrew Stones, managing director of cocktail bar brand Be At One; and leading licensing barrister Sarah Clover. Meanwhile, Nicholls will talk to Tokyo Industries founder Aaron Mellor, Richard Hamlin of First Merchant, Peter Marks of Deltic Group, Tim Kidd of Adventure Bars and Lord Smith about the current trading and regulatory landscape in the late-night market. Tickets are £139 plus VAT for operators who are UKHospitality members and £195 plus VAT for non-UKHospitality members. Supplier tickets are £185 plus VAT for UKHospitality members and £285 plus VAT for non-UKHospitality members. To book tickets, email Anne Steele at

Propel will host Professor Chris Muller, the leading thinker, teacher and author on multi-site foodservice management in the US, at its next Multi-site Management Masterclass. The event, which will focus on growth through innovation and branding and features all-new material, will take place on Friday, 28 September at One Moorgate Place in London and is open for bookings. Leading UK businesses such as Mitchells & Butlers and TGI Friday’s have sent staff to be taught by Professor Muller at Boston University’s School of Hospitality – now Professor Muller is returning to the UK to lead this bespoke interactive masterclass. The event will provide valuable insights as well as new perspectives and practical knowledge for founders, area managers of small and medium-sized multi-site companies and area managers of large companies. The sessions will include building a culture of profitable sales and service, using a restaurant brand as a competitive tool and becoming a leader of change. Tickets are £295 plus VAT for Propel Premium members, £345 plus VAT for operators and £445 plus VAT for suppliers. To book tickets, email Anne Steele at

Restaurant Marketer & Innovator LiveThe last chance is approaching to nominate for the Restaurant Marketer & Innovator “30 Under 30” list, which recognises 30 talented future leaders in marketing, innovation and strategy roles within the sector who are under 30 years of age. Judges will look for creativity, confidence, commercial awareness, ability to collaborate, leadership skills and perseverance. They will also look for experience in senior stakeholder management, understanding of how to develop strategy, ability to self-reflect, and clear potential to be an industry leader of the future. Nominees should have at least three years’ experience in the hospitality sector. Nominations close on Friday, 31 August. They are anonymous and can be made by anybody by clicking here. Self-nominations are accepted. Selected candidates will be invited to a boot camp day and 30 Under 30 presentation evening on 15 January 2019 at The Ned, London. All those applying for a place will be automatically considered for the Future Marketing Leader of the Year prize at the Restaurant Marketer & Innovator Awards. The award is the pinnacle of the 30 Under 30 programme and up to ten candidates will be shortlisted. This year the prize will be accompanied by a scholarship for the first time, with the package including an eight-day, fully-funded trip to the US to visit the SXSW Brand & Marketing Conference in Austin, Texas; immersion days with the marketing team at Union Square Hospitality Group in New York; and mentoring days with senior marketers for leading UK companies including Nando’s and Just Eat. With the introduction of the scholarship for 2019, 30 Under 30 2018 award-winners can enter and will be considered for the scholarship independently. Propel managing director Paul Charity said: “The 30 Under 30 programme is great recognition by the industry of your achievements to date and highlights you as a leader of the future. As part of the programme you will be in a network of like-minded professionals, who you will meet and get to know. You will be our guest at a complimentary training day and be invited to take part in fun networking events throughout the year.”

The second Social Media for Profit masterclass has opened for bookings. Mark McCulloch, founder and group chief executive of WE ARE Spectacular and formerly of Pret A Manger, YO! Sushi and, will welcome you to a social media boot camp with all-new content that will provide insights into how to build your sales and brand using social media. McCulloch will be joined by Alison Battisby, founder and director of social media consultancy Avocado Social. With almost ten years of social media experience, Battisby is a Facebook-accredited trainer and will bring the latest algorithm-busting insights to the afternoon. She will reveal the key trends you need to know – from Insta Stories stickers and IGTV to top hashtags and video hacks. Battisby will also reveal how Facebook, Instagram and Twitter algorithms work, what content is given priority and how you can get your posts seen by more people. She will also look at the best ways to use Facebook and Instagram ads to get a return for your business, including what makes a good advert and how to measure it. McCulloch will talk about designing your venue for Instagram and how to encourage user-generated content. He will also look at Instagram Stories and demonstrate the most interesting features and hacks to ensure your posts get seen. McCulloch will also talk about influencer marketing – does paying someone to post about your product really work? How are brands approaching influencer marketing and does the average customer trust a sponsored post on Instagram? There will also be a rundown of the ten key social media actions to take away. The half-day event takes place on the afternoon of Thursday, 13 September at One Moorgate Place in London. Tickets are £345 plus VAT for operators, £445 plus VAT for suppliers, and £295 plus VAT for Propel Premium subscribers. To book a place, email or call 01444 817691.

The National Innovation in Training Awards (NITAs), run by the British Institute of Innkeepers (BII), is open for entries. The event, organised in partnership with Propel, highlights individuals and businesses in the sector who put their people first. The BII recognises the importance of raising standards and professionalism across the industry, as well as sharing best practice in training and people development. Successful NITAs entrants will be those that provide really great training – be they individuals, training organisations or pub companies. Judges will be looking for examples of those that truly put people at the heart of what they do – investing in their teams, innovating, motivating and striving for training excellence. The award categories for the 2018 competition are: Best Training Programme – Leased & Tenanted Companies under 200 outlets; Best Training Programme – Leased & Tenanted Companies over 200 outlets; Best Managed Training Programme Companies under 50 outlets; Best Managed Training Programme Companies over 50 outlets; Licensee Trainer of the Year Award; Professional Trainer of the Year Award; Best Apprenticeship Training Programme; Best Casual Dining Training Programme; and the Franca Knowles Lifetime Achievement Award. The Franca Knowles Lifetime Achievement Award is an industry recognition award. The winner will be chosen by a panel led by Keith Knowles, chief executive and founder of Beds and Bars. The award will identify and recognise an individual who leads by example and can demonstrate that people are at the core of what they do. The award is in memory of the late Franca Knowles, who herself was a multiple winner of NITA awards and was passionate about people and training. BII chief executive Mike Clist said: “The NITAs are a key platform that not only help us highlight how vital the training and development of staff is to our industry but, crucially, demonstrate hospitality can offer individuals a rewarding and varied career – it’s so much more than just a job.” The NITAs is the ultimate benchmark for training ingenuity in the industry – rewarding individuals and businesses who deliver outstanding mentorship and development for their people.” The awards ceremony will once again take place at the glamorous Café de Paris in London on 20 November. Entrants have until Friday, 31 August to complete their entries and can enter more than one category for consideration. Criteria for each award and entry forms can be found at Each category will have a judging panel consisting of industry experts, which will decide who has best showcased their knowledge, understanding and enthusiasm for their respective category. Finalists will be announced before the end of September and will need to attend the NITA finals judging day in mid-October.

The shortlist for the Wireless Social Women’s Entrepreneur of the Year has been unveiled. The shortlist, which has been selected from industry nominations, is Nisha Katona (Mowgli), Yasmine Larizadeh (Good Life Eatery), Pranee Laurillard (Giggling Squid), Mel Marriott (Darwin & Wallace), Raquel de Oliveira (Ceviche) and Joycelyn Neve (Seafood Pub Company). The winner will be announced at the Women’s Entrepreneur Conference, which takes place on Tuesday, 4 September at One Moorgate Place, London. Speakers at the conference are Wahaca founder Thomasina Miers (“How to ascertain if your business idea is genius or madness”); Mowgli founder Nisha Katona (“From barrister to bunny chow: why risk it all for restaurants?”); Sophie Bathgate, of Sophie’s Steakhouse (“What I would do differently next time”); Artizian founder Alison Frith (“How to market a startup”); Cheshire Cat Pubs & Bars founder Mary Mclaughlin (“Growing an idea from startup to sustainable”); Eve Bugler, founder of BabaBoom (“How to keep the joy when it’s all on your shoulders”); Jane O’Riordan, founder of The Dynamo (“The importance of patience”); Sally Jackson, owner of The Pink Pig Farm (“The ten hardest lessons I’ve learned”); Christine Winton, of Siam Eatery (“Can you have work-life balance when you start a business?”); Vanessa Hall, co-founder of Jack & Alice (“The importance of staying true to your values when you start and expand your business”); and Laura Harper-Hinton, co-founder of Caravan (“Why people are key to your success”). Wireless Social chief executive Julian Ross said: “We are delighted to be sponsoring this award for the UK’s top women entrepreneurs – they are making an incredible contribution to the vitality of the UK foodservice scene and recognition is long overdue.” Event co-organiser Ann Elliott added: “Female entrepreneurs are making an enormous contribution to the hospitality sector – but we need even more of them. The conference is intended as a showcase for some of the sector’s best female entrepreneurs and to encourage even more of them to take the plunge.” Propel managing director Paul Charity said: “If our sector is to truly serve its market, we need more companies led by women at senior levels. We hope companies send their brightest female talent to the conference to pick up inspiration and develop their entrepreneurial talent. We also believe it’s a great opportunity for male colleagues to gain insights into female entrepreneurial skills.” Tickets, which are £195 plus VAT for Propel Premium subscribers, £245 plus VAT for operators and £395 plus VAT for suppliers, can be booked by emailing or calling her on 01444 817691.

Ann ElliottPropel has partnered with Elliotts chief executive Ann Elliott to launch the sector’s first conference featuring an all-female line-up of company leaders. The event, which is open for bookings, takes place on Tuesday, 4 September at One Moorgate Place, London. Speakers will be Wahaca founder Thomasina Miers (“How to ascertain if your business idea is genius or madness”); Mowgli founder Nisha Katona (“From barrister to bunny chow: why risk it all for restaurants?”); Sophie Bathgate, of Sophie’s Steakhouse (“What I would do differently next time”); Artizian founder Alison Frith (“How to market a startup”); Cheshire Cat Pubs & Bars founder Mary Mclaughlin (“Growing an idea from startup to sustainable”); Eve Bugler, founder of BabaBoom (“How to keep the joy when it’s all on your shoulders”); Jane O’Riordan, founder of The Dynamo (“The importance of patience”); Sally Jackson, owner of The Pink Pig Farm (“The ten hardest lessons I’ve learned”); Christine Winton, of Siam Eatery (“Can you have work-life balance when you start a business?”); Vanessa Hall, co-founder of Jack & Alice (“The importance of staying true to your values when you start and expand your business”); and Laura Harper-Hinton, co-founder of Caravan (“Why people are key to your success”). The event will also see an award given to the Wireless Social Female Entrepreneur of the Year. Elliott said: “Female entrepreneurs are making an enormous contribution to the hospitality sector – but we need even more of them. The conference is intended as a showcase of some of the sector’s best female entrepreneurs and to encourage even more of them to take the plunge.” Propel managing director Paul Charity added: “If our sector is to truly serve its market, we need more companies led by women at senior levels. We hope companies send their brightest female talent to the conference to pick up inspiration and develop their entrepreneurial talent. We also believe it’s a great opportunity for male colleagues to gain insights into female entrepreneurial skills.” Tickets are £195 plus VAT for Propel Premium subscribers, £245 plus VAT for operators and £395 plus VAT for suppliers and can be booked by emailing or calling her on 01444 817691.

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Propel Multi Club July 2018

Propel Multi Club & Summer Party

5th July 2018

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Propel Quarterly Summer 2018
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