Story of the Day:
Deltic Group reports like-for-likes up 4.9% as it returns to turnover and Ebitda growth
The Deltic Group, the UK’s largest operator of premium late-night bars and clubs, has reported like-for-like sales increased 4.9% for the year ending 24 February 2018 as it returned to turnover and Ebitda growth. Total sales were up 4.2% to £106.5m, compared with £102.2m the previous year. Underlying Ebitda exceeded the company’s forecast – rising to £14.5m compared with £13.2m the year before. The company had a record 7.5 million admissions during the year, beating last year’s 7.2 million. Pre-booked sales grew 8%. Having had some local market challenges in 2017, the group said it was pleased to have returned to turnover and Ebitda growth. During the year, the group invested £5.7m to refurbish and relaunch ten bars and clubs. The group plans to invest a further £5.5m in the coming year to complete the catch-up refurbishment programme. The company said this would enable it to divert more funding to use on strategic acquisitions – the first of which was completed in March with the addition of The Terrace, a restaurant and club in Exeter. The group has also continued to invest in its customer experience. It has launched dedicated social media and sales teams and invested in the development of an artificial intelligence chatbot – a first for the late-night industry. The product is being trialled ahead of plans to roll it out across the business later this year. The company said it had worked hard to mitigate increasing cost headwinds and had a strong platform for growth. Chief executive Peter Marks (pictured) said: “Our strong performance is testament to the hard work of our staff and management, our continued investment in the estate, and our focus on providing up-to-date contemporary designed clubs and bars, most of which dominate their local target market. It also demonstrates what we already know – there is a continued appetite for a great night out – and we’re pleased to see performance has continued into this year. Current trading is in line with management’s expectations – we’re experiencing the usual seasonal downturn, which is exaggerated by the hot weather and England’s World Cup progress – but we’re confident this will pick up as we build to the peak trading period from September onwards.”
World Cup and weather in June prompt first back-to-back increase in household spend in over a year, hospitality sector best performer with 5.4% rise
Consumer spend rose 0.7% year-on-year in June, boosted by the Fifa World Cup and hot weather, the first back-to-back rise in more than a year, according to Visa’s UK Consumer Spending Index. The hotels, restaurants and bars category was the best-performing sector in June – up 5.4% year-on-year boosted by the football and rising temperatures – followed by food and drink (up 2.0%). There were rises in five of the eight categories covered by the index in June, while the heaviest fall was in recreation and culture (2.5%). Face-to-face spending (+1.1%) outpaced e-commerce spending (+0.4%) for a second month in a row. Visa chief commercial officer Mark Antipof said: “June’s encouraging data marks the first back-to-back monthly increase in consumer expenditure since spring 2017. With the hotels, restaurants and bars, and food and drink categories performing strongly in the month, there are clear signs the British public has been getting into the World Cup spirit while the good weather is also likely to have played its part. It is also noteworthy that face-to-face spending outpaced ecommerce spending for the second month in a row. We have to go back to mid-2012 to find a similar trend. There has been a lot of talk around the difficulties UK’s high street retailers face. However, June data shows UK shoppers still value face-to-face experiences.” The index is based on real spending on all Visa cards, which accounts for more than £1 in every £3 spent in the UK, with a number of adjustments to reflect overall consumer spending that includes cash, cheques and cards.
Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has expanded its presence in Sweden by opening its fifth bar in the country, in the eastern city of Norrköping. Sweden is the company’s longest-standing and largest export market in Europe and has more bars than any country outside the UK. The first opened in Kungsholmen, Stockholm, in 2013 and BrewDog has added bars in Göteborg, Malmo and a second site in Stockholm. BrewDog Norrköping is the company’s ninth bar to open in 2018. The venue has room for 100 people indoors and 80 on a terrace. The bar has 20 beers on tap alongside burgers and wings. Co-founder James Watt said: “Norrköping has been on our radar for a while now – we’ve been excited by the city’s vibrancy and pace of growth. We’re proud to add to an already buzzing beer scene.” BrewDog has so far raised almost raised £19.5m in its Equity for Punks V fund-raise, which the company launched in October to support growth in the UK and overseas.
Comptoir Group, the operator of Lebanese and Eastern Mediterranean restaurants, has announced changes to its board. The company stated: “The company announces the appointment to the board of Mark Carrick as chief financial officer with immediate effect. Mark joined the group in April as chief financial officer and was formerly director of operational finance with Ten Entertainment Group. Mark started his career in hospitality at JD Wetherspoon in 1999, where he qualified as an accountant and has since held several senior roles within a diverse range of multi-site leisure businesses over the past 19 years providing finance, commercial and operational expertise. In addition, Jonathan Kaye has notified the board of his resignation as a non-executive director to focus on his other business interests, with his resignation to take immediate effect. The company has commenced the search for a suitably qualified independent non-executive director and will make a further announcement in due course.” Non-executive chairman Richard Kleiner said: “On behalf of the board I would like to thank Jonathan for his valuable support and contributions to the company over the past couple of years and we wish him well for the future.”
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 lastminute.com, will welcome you to a social media boot camp 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 email@example.com or call 01444 817691.
Liberation Group, the West Country and Channel Island pub company, has reported like-for-like sales at its 44 managed pubs are up 8% during the past ten weeks. The company said its 21 managed pubs in the West Country, located from Dorset to Gloucestershire, have seen a 12.9% uplift in like-for-like sales as they benefited from the warm weather and England’s run to the semi-finals of the Fifa World Cup. Sales in its managed pubs in Jersey and Guernsey saw like-for-like rises of 7.7% and 5.3% respectively. The company stated: “We anticipate we will have seen incremental profit per pub throughout our entire 117-strong estate, including our 73-strong pub tenanted estate, as they will have embraced the exceptional weather and the football.” Chief executive Mark Crowther added: “We have focused heavily on ensuring our sites offer the best and most welcoming atmosphere, be it for the good weather or the football. We worked hard to make our pubs the place to be with outdoor television screens, additional well-stocked bars and barbecues to support the growing numbers and entertain those watching the beautiful game during the tournament. Our pub teams have been exceptional, going the extra mile each day, and we are extremely proud of the hard work and dedication shown.”
Multi-site operator Austin Whelan is to open a fourth pub for his Whelans brand, in Croydon, at the end of August. Having just opened a Whelans site in Kingston, the new venue will be his sixth with Star Pubs & Bars. Whelan and Star Pubs & Bars will jointly invest £400,000 to transform Baskervilles in Selsdon Road, which has been closed since October. As at other Whelans sites, the Croydon pub will feature cabinetry designed to look like an Irish street and a palette of emerald green, black and gold. Alongside wine, craft beer, Irish malt whiskey and gin, there will be light bites for lunch, Irish-influenced dishes and a Sunday roast. The pub will show live sport on 16 screens, plus live music three nights a week. Austin Whelan said: “Having two successful pubs in Croydon already, I know the area well. South Croydon needs a good-quality, affordable pub and its own entertainment spot. Whelans will provide that.” Star Pubs & Bars regional operations director Dugald Macer added: “Austin is very professional and has high standards for himself and his staff. This is his sixth pub with Star Pubs & Bars, two of which are Whelans. His Irish bars are great for bringing communities together to share conversation and enjoy food, drinks and entertainment. Local talent is also given a boost on the back of the live music the pubs host. It’s a win-win all round.”
Jewish soul food trader Monty’s Deli is to embark on a £150,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube at the end of the month to roll out Monty’s sites in a number of new indoor food markets across London and the UK. Mark Ogus and Owen Barratt, who launched the concept as a market stall in 2012, raised £50,000 in late 2016 on crowdfunding platform Kickstarter to open the first bricks and mortar site, at a former bakery in Hoxton Street, Hackney. They have since opened a second site – in the new “Kitchens” development at Old Spitalfields Market. Now Monty’s, which is named after Ogus’ grandfather, is planning further expansion and will launch the fund-raise on Friday, 27 July to support its plans. The company stated: “The idea was to give London something it had been lacking for a very long time – a real ‘kosher-style’ Jewish deli, where the meat and mustard, bread and pastries are all made on-site. This place would hold all the secret recipes that make a great deli. We call this ‘Jewish soul food’ because, in essence, soul food is all about roots.” Ogus said: “Our experience in markets is proven and our love for the food we make is unrivalled. We have spent years perfecting recipes and we now have a year under our belts as restaurateurs. The stage is set for us to roll out Monty’s Deli across London.”
Subway has revealed plans to extend its partnership with Gillett’s Callington, which operates 69 stores in the West Country under the Spar banner. There are nine Subway outlets within Gillett’s Callington Spar stores, with further sites planned. Venues are in development at stores in Pinhoe, Exeter and Bugle, near St Austell, with others planned for Wool and Wareham in Dorset later this year. Gillett’s Callington has been a Subway partner since 2012. Kevin Graham, regional development agent for Subway in the south west, said: “Gillett’s Callington is a valued partner for Subway in the south west and we are delighted with its ongoing commitment.” Gillett’s Callington operations director Phil Darch added: “We were attracted to Subway as we felt it would be a good, complementary fit for our stores and appeal to a younger demographic.” Subway recently unveiled its Fresh Forward format, which includes digital menu boards, free charging ports, and a revamped fresh vegetable display. The new look can be seen at Gillett’s Callington stores in Launceston and Hayle and will be extended to further sites. Through its partnerships, Subway has more than 800 stores in non-traditional locations in the UK and Ireland, including hospitals, transport hubs, universities and colleges, petrol forecourts and convenience stores.
A fall in EU net migration is leading to a severe skills shortage in the UK takeaway sector, the British Takeaway Campaign (BTC) has said. The campaign, an industry umbrella body led by Just Eat, responded to figures in the latest Quarterly Migration Report, which revealed a further fall in EU net migration. The BTC is calling for measures that include an immigration system that doesn’t discriminate between EU and non-EU migrants; an immigration system based not on country of origin or skill level but on areas of skills shortage; and an amendment to the Shortage Occupation List (SOL) to make it more functional. BTC chairman Ibrahim Dogus said: “With over a third of takeaway restaurants experiencing skills shortages, particularly for chefs in specialist cuisines, and more than a third saying Brexit will make it more difficult to recruit staff, it’s vital the immigration system enables the sector to access the skills it needs from inside and outside the EU. That’s why the BTC is calling for the development of a long-term immigration system that does not discriminate between EU and non-EU migrants and prioritises areas of skills shortage instead. We also urge the government to address the absurd anomaly in the SOL that allows the recruitment of specialist chefs for restaurants but, bizarrely, not for those working in takeaways. This needs to go hand in hand with investment in high-quality vocational training to build a pipeline of home-grown talent.”
Independent craft beer retailer Two Heads Beer Co, which is currently fund-raising on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube, is eyeing a site in Gipsy Hill, south London, as it reports a “very strong” period of trading. The company, which is led by former BrewDog head of retail acquisitions James Hickson, is also set to introduce pizza by the slice to its sites and plans to expand its coffee pop-up, launched in Putney, to other stores. It stated: “June was a bumper month of sales and July is shaping up to be even bigger as we continue to grow the momentum we’ve built going into the summer. Our coffee pop-up in Putney is proving very popular. Its initial performance has vindicated our belief our customers and locals were crying out for good coffee and we will be putting it into a couple of other stores. Meanwhile, we are working on our plan to introduce pizza by the slice into our stores, something we think would enhance the customer experience and grow incremental revenue. This is something we are really excited to introduce, initially in our Clapham Junction store, followed by Tunbridge Wells. Beer and pizza is a match made in heaven. We are also actively looking for new sites and have entered very early negotiations on a new site in Gipsy Hill.” Two Heads Beer Co has so far raised £372,800 from 311 investors in its crowdfunding campaign as it looks to open four stores. The company, which operates six sites, was initially looking to raise £350,000 and was offering 14.9% equity in return for the investment. The company remains in negotiations over potential sites in Herne Hill and Surbiton. Hickson founded We Brought Beer in 2014. It merged with fellow bottle shop business The Beer Boutique in January, with founder Jon Kaye becoming executive chairman of Two Heads Beer Co.
Hastings Hotels, which owns and operates seven venues across Northern Ireland, has reported turnover increased 7.8% to £39,632,526 for the year ending 31 October 2017, compared with £36,763,548 the year before. Pre-tax profit was up to £5,235,783, compared with £4,918,796 the previous year. Gross margin rose to 85.98% compared with 85.79% the year before, according to accounts filed at Companies House. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors described the financial results as “satisfactory” and pledged to continue to “seek every opportunity to increase profitable turnover”. They also paid tribute to group founder Sir William Hastings, who died in December at the age of 89. The group opened the £53m, 300-bedroom Grand Central Hotel in Belfast last month and the venue includes a Sir William Suite. Its other hotels include Belfast’s Europa, Stormont and Culloden hotels, while it also owns a 50% stake in Dublin’s Merrion Hotel.
Craft brewer St Andrews Brewing Company has launched a £400,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to expand its pub estate and brewery. The company, owned by Philip Mackey and Tim Butler, is offering 5.06% equity in return for the investment. It plans to use the funds towards the cost of its new venue in Dundee – Caird Hall – as it adds to its pubs in St Andrews and Edinburgh. It will also use the investment to expand production at its brewery. The pitch states: “Our vision is to establish our brand worldwide as a creator of brilliant beers and the perfect places to enjoy them. Running great venues in tandem with our brewery provides a showcase for 25% of our beer. Our St Andrews and Edinburgh pubs will soon be joined by our Caird Hall venue near Dundee’s new V&A museum and £1bn waterfront redevelopment. With this raise we aim to make this a flagship destination for the best of Scottish beer, food and hospitality. Since returning brewing to St Andrews after a 100-year absence, we’ve scooped a World Beer award, plus Society of Independent Brewers and Great Taste awards. To meet growing demand, we need to expand our brewery. Investment will fund kit capable of quintupling our production to one million pints in 2019.”
Peter Joseph, former executive chef at the world’s first Michelin-starred Indian restaurant, is to launch his first solo venture. Joseph, who was in charge of the kitchen at Mayfair’s Tamarind for ten years, will launch Kahani in Chelsea in September. Inspiration for the 90-cover restaurant comes from the chef’s upbringing in Tamil Nadu in southern India, with diners encouraged to forgo the formalities of fine dining for the first course by using their fingers. Seasonal British ingredients will be cooked on a central Robata grill and in an Indian tandoor oven. The menu will focus on grilled meat, fish and vegetables, with only three or four ingredients used per dish and only two curries. The restaurant, which will also include a private dining room with ten covers above the main dining area, will make use of brightly coloured Indian-style fabrics for decoration. The drinks menu will feature a selection of carefully sourced wines from around the world as well as spice-infused cocktails. Joseph said: “Kahani means ‘story’ and I am thrilled to be embarking on this new chapter in my life. Love for food and a pursuit of excellence has taken me on a fascinating journey and I want to keep innovating and pushing boundaries with my food to ensure people keep following my story and coming back for more.”
Franchisee Khawaja Hassan has opened his debut Creams Cafe – in Epsom in Surrey – and is planning further venues. Hassan funded the opening of the dessert parlour in High Street with a £284,000 finance package from HSBC. Creams serves waffles, milkshakes, freakshakes and 36 varieties of Italian gelato-style ice cream. It also offers a wide range of sundaes, including the hot chocolate fudge volcano, and crepes such as the Belgian banana burrito. Hassan said: “I am excited to be opening Epsom’s first Creams franchise with HSBC’s support. I can’t wait to hear what our customers think of the cafe and our Italian and American-inspired desserts.” David Hamblin, HSBC’s area director for south London business banking, added: “My team has worked closely with Khawaja to secure the most suitable funding package for this new outlet. He has big plans to open more sites in the future and we hope to continue our support.” Creams Cafe was founded in 2008 and operates more than 70 sites in the UK.
Investor appetite for UK hotels is “geared towards more substantial deals” despite a rise in competition, according to agent Christie & Co’s half-year review of the market. The company said investment and demand in UK hotels remained strong as the market enjoyed a “stellar period” as one of the few sectors to fully benefit from the post-Brexit decline in sterling. As the demand continues to rise, big-ticket transactions are becoming increasingly frequent, with investor appetite “clearly geared towards more substantial deals”. Christie & Co said openings in London should add 9,000 rooms in the second half of the year, while the regions had enjoyed a 1.5% revpar increase in the first five months of 2018. Despite trading challenges due to cost pressures, optimism is high over the market’s ability to deal with these headwinds as investors continue to seek opportunities. Christie & Co said UK hotels should be able to maintain revpar growth during 2018. Exchange rate impacts are not as dramatic as last year, which might affect visitor numbers, but there is still strong demand from overseas. Additionally, staycations will continue to grow in 2018. Christie & Co forecast investor demand would remain strong from UK, European and Far Eastern investors this year. In the first half of 2018, Indian, Israeli and Asian investor funds had become increasingly active in the market, offering competition to traditional UK and European investors. The company pointed to some significant deals in the sector, including the Hallmark Hotel Bournemouth West Cliff, which was sold on behalf of Topland Group to Motoring And Leisure Services, and the Hilton Coylumbridge in Scotland, which was sold on behalf of US REIT, Park Hotels & Resorts.
Brewhouse & Kitchen, the brewpub business led by Kris Gumbrell and Simon Bunn, will open its latest site – in east London’s Hoxton – this week. The site, which is the company’s 21st, housed former restaurant, cafe and bar The Beagle and is next to the newly developed Hoxton train station. The venue has been refurbished ahead of its opening on Thursday (19 July) and will feature a 50-capacity restaurant and outdoor seating. It will also feature two seated bars – one outside. The venue will offer the company’s new summer menu, complete with seasonal beer pairing suggestions and 23 vegan and vegetarian options. Bunn said: “We are excited to open a brewpub in Hoxton and look forward to making lots of local friends, providing a service to the growing community.” In May, Brewhouse & Kitchen exchanged contracts to buy the freehold of Wabi restaurant in Horsham, which will be its first site in West Sussex. The company told Propel it was also “in legals on two further venues”.
Kensington-based Indian restaurant Chakra has started expansion by opening a second site in London, in Kingston-upon-Thames. The restaurant is perched on the banks of the river and offers a contemporary fine-dining take on Indian cuisine. Arjun Varma launched Chakra’s Kensington restaurant seven years ago. The site underwent a refurbishment and reopened last month sporting a new look and menu. The brand’s menu features dishes such as Chakra Channa (Assam tea-infused chickpea with channa masala and tomatoes), and fish moile (Kerala-style sea bream in coconut milk gravy). In May, Propel reported Chakra was looking to expand across London by launching a number of key delivery kitchens under the brand Chakra To Go and rolling out restaurants. The first delivery kitchen opened in Wimbledon in June.
A new fish and seafood restaurant has opened in Hull inspired by the city’s maritime heritage and London’s Wright Brothers concept. James and Paula Stockdale have launched Humber Fish Co in the regenerated Fruit Market waterside district. Humber Fish Co features chilled seafood and fish displays, with customers dining at marble-topped tables or around a counter surrounding the open kitchen. The 1,350 square foot restaurant has 50 covers inside and 36 outside. The restaurant’s decor features an upturned “clinker” fishing boat. The venue also takes inspiration from Wright Brothers’ restaurant in London’s Borough Market. Stockdale said: “We want to bring the quality of food and surroundings you get at Wright Brothers and other leading seafood restaurants around the country to Hull.” The £80m Fruit Market regeneration is driven by Wykeland Beal, a joint venture formed by commercial developer Wykeland Group and housebuilder Beal Homes in partnership with Hull City Council.
Novus, the London bar and restaurant operator, has won the customer review and feedback category at the UK Digital Experience Awards. The company also took third place in the digital change and transformation – software category at the awards final in London. The customer review and feedback award identifies companies that have used customer reviews to generate sales. Novus developed a customer experience dashboard to review, respond to and analyse customer feedback from one central place, allowing it to track online review sites, customer surveys and social media. The digital change and transformation – software category recognises companies that are making huge changes across their customer and internal channels while retraining or transforming their capability and skills. Novus customer experience director Simon Gaske said: “As a business we are committed to revolution, with our customers at the heart of every decision we make. It is so important to us we take on board every piece of feedback and make the late-night experience as fantastic as possible.”
Britain’s pubs enjoyed a mini sales boom in June thanks to the hot weather and the start of the World Cup, according to the latest figures from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker. But while the country’s managed pub and bar groups saw collective like-for-like sales rise 2.8% against June 2017, restaurant groups suffered a 1.8% fall in like-for-like trading. Overall, the combined managed pub, bar and restaurant sector saw like-for-likes up 1.1% in June. “Sun and football are usually good news for the pub trade – and with England’s World Cup run and the hot weather continuing into July, we should expect more positive trading,” said Peter Martin (pictured), vice-president of CGA, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker in partnership with Coffer Group and RSM. “Better news is that the usual drop-off in restaurant sales during good weather and big sporting events is not cancelling out the boost for pubs and bars. Overall the market is up, and that follows a 1.4% increase for the sector as a whole in May.” Regionally, London did better than the rest of the country in June, with pub sales up 3.7% and restaurants down only 0.4% compared with a 2.3% like-for-like decline outside the M25. “Not surprisingly, drinks-led pubs have performed particularly well and across the managed pub market drink sales were ahead 5.1%, with food up only 0.3%,” Martin said. Underlying like-for-like growth for the 45 companies in the Tracker cohort, which represents large and small groups, is slowly improving after a tough period, running at 0.7% for the 12 months to the end of June, up from 0.6% at the end of May. “The consumer appears to be in more confident mood, buoyed by a remarkable summer and football success for England,” said Trevor Watson, executive director at Davis Coffer Lyons. “We expect the July data to see a continuation of this trend. Adverse publicity around the casual dining market is not leading to reduced eating out. Similarly, the effect of discounting in restaurants appears to be marginal.” Total sales growth across the pub and restaurant cohort, which includes the effect of new openings, was 4.2% in June, reflecting continuing if slower brand roll-outs and running at 3.8% for the 12 months to the end of the month.
The directors of American smokehouse chain Red’s True Barbecue are in advanced discussions with Santander to restructure the company’s debt after breaching its banking facility. Despite the breaches, Santander issued a letter of support indicating it would continue to make funds available to the business. The details were revealed in a report accompanying the accounts for Red’s True Barbecue filed at Companies House for the year ending 26 March 2017, which showed losses increased to £2.5m. The report stated: “During the year the business suffered breaches of the facility. However, the bank remains supportive of the business and the group is in discussions with the bank to refinance its current facilities. In addition the bank has issued a letter of support indicating it intends to continue to make funding available to the business. The business will need to renegotiate current debt facilities to ensure the repayment profile for the current borrowings match the future cash generation of the business. The directors are in advanced discussions with their bank with a view to restructuring their current debt facility and amortisation of existing debt. These discussions have met with a favourable response from the bank.” Turnover for the year increased 26.4% to £14,229,406, compared with £11,257,416 the year before. Adjusted Ebitda dropped to £133,630, compared with £561,949 the previous year. Pre-tax loses rose to £2,528,495, compared with £659,853 the year before. Gross margin was down to 68.6%, compared with 69.9% the previous year. The directors stated: “The increase in turnover reflected a full-year effect of new site openings in the prior year and the opening of two new sites during the period, in Sheffield and Newcastle. The directors see the next 12 months as an appropriate time to consolidate Red’s position within the market place and ensure the existing sites are operating efficiently and giving the best guest experience possible.” In March this year, the company, founded by James Douglas and Scott Munro, closed its only London site, in Shoreditch, leaving it with seven sites.
McDonald’s is stopping the sale of salads at 3,000 restaurants in the US after people became sick from a parasite-causing intestinal illness. The company said it was acting “out of an abundance of caution” until switching to another supplier. Health officials in Illinois and Iowa said they had identified roughly 100 combined cases of cyclosporiasis apparently linked to consuming McDonald’s salads. The illness is caused by the cyclospora parasite. McDonald’s is removing the lettuce blend from identified restaurants and distribution centres. At least one of the affected restaurants is in each of the following states – Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Kentucky, West Virginia and Missouri.
Ajith Jayawickrema, who moved to the UK from Sri Lanka at the age of 15, has revealed singer Leona Lewis unknowingly inspired him to launch his Caribbean restaurant chain Turtle Bay. Speaking during the fourth podcast in the “How I Grew My Brand” series by specialist investor Piper, Jayawickrema told broadcaster Mary Nightingale: “My girls were young and we were watching X Factor – Leona Lewis won it. As an immigrant, I thought it incredible – 22 million ordinary people had voted for her. Her race, colour, ethnic background didn’t matter.” Her victory gave Jayawickrema, who had previously co-founded Latin American restaurant chain Las Iguanas, now a Casual Dining Group brand, the confidence to bring the full Caribbean food and drink experience to the UK. He launched Turtle Bay in Milton Keynes in 2010 with Piper founder Crispin Tweddell. Today the company has 44 restaurants in the UK and two in Germany, employs 1,500 staff and turns over almost £70m. Piper invested growth capital in Turtle Bay in June 2013. Asked what advice he would give entrepreneurs who were thinking of seeking venture capital or private equity investment, Jayawickrema said: “I think there is money everywhere but the quality of that money depends on the quality of the people. In the short term, it’s really easy to take money from somebody but do you want to work with that person for the next five, seven, eight, ten years when things are going to get tough and never go according to plan? Who do you want to work with? If you think ‘things might get tough but the people I’m with will back me, help me and make sure we all benefit’ – that’s the answer. You want people to back you when things are down as well as up.” The first three How I Grew My Brand podcasts featured Propercorn co-founder Cassandra Stavrou, Loungers co-founder Alex Reilley and Neom Organics co-founder Nicola Elliott.
An investigation into independent Lincolnshire brewer Tom Wood Beers has uncovered potential falsifying of accounts lodged with administrators, a new document has revealed. In his progress report administrator Charles Ranby-Gorwood, of Grimsby-based CRG Insolvency & Financial Recovery, said he made the discovery while looking into how the company was managed prior to the administration. He said: “I undertook an initial investigation into the company’s affairs to establish whether there were any potential asset recoveries or conduct matters that justified further investigation, taking account of the public interest, potential recoveries, funds likely to be available to fund an investigation, and the costs involved. Specifically, I recovered, listed and reviewed the company’s accounting records; obtained and reviewed bank statements for a number of months prior to the company ceasing to trade; and compared information in the company’s last set of accounts with that contained in the statement of affairs lodged in the administration and made enquiries about the reasons for the changes. These investigations are continuing and I will report in due course. Within three months of my appointment as administrator I was required to submit a confidential report to the secretary of state and include any matters that might indicate the conduct of any past or present director that could make them unfit to be concerned with the management of the company. My report has been submitted.” Ranby-Gorwood said it was not possible to say at this stage what the potential dividend for unsecured creditors would be until the investigation was complete. He added: “The purpose of the investigation is centred around the potential for recoveries to unsecured creditors. My investigation will continue and the outcome of these will determine the likely final funds available for creditors, if any.” The report said there were 48 non-preferential unsecured creditors with an estimated total deficiency of £535,520. As previously reported, the company has no secured creditors. The business was sold in November last year to Lincolnshire Craft Beers, a company connected to Mark Smith, who was a director of Tom Wood Beers.
Keighley-based brewer Timothy Taylor has appointed Steve Cash as its interim estate operations director. Cash is former brand operations director of Mitchells & Butlers, responsible for the Harvester, Miller & Carter and Vintage Inns brands. He will now be responsible for Timothy Taylor’s pub estate until a permanent appointment is made. Timothy Taylor chief executive Tim Dewey said: “While we remain very focused on our core brewing activities, we are also at an exciting time in the development of our pub estate and we need someone of Steve’s experience to help us as we take the necessary time to make the right permanent appointment.” Cash added: “I am delighted to be involved with a company with flagship quality beers that stand out among all others. The pub estate is very varied – from great wet-led pubs and stunning destination outlets in the Bronte heartland to well-positioned outlets in Leeds and Harrogate.” On Tuesday (10 July), Timothy Taylor reported a turnover boost helped by a beer launch and the acquisition of a hotel and restaurant in Harrogate. Turnover increased 2% to £22,187,485 for the year ending 30 September 2017, compared with £21,637,292 the year before. Pre-tax profit fell 1.5% to £2,742,083 compared with £2,782,510 the previous year, according to accounts filed at Companies House.
London-based startup Sonicjobs, the first virtual recruiter in the hospitality sector, has closed a £1m funding round, bringing its total raised to date to £1.6m. The funding round was led by Angel Co-Fund, recruitment entrepreneurs Paul Huntingdon, Rod Leefe, Andy Winterburgh, Dan Mulholland and Jas Gujral, and existing investor Velocity Capital Partners. Sonicjobs uses chatbot and artificial intelligence to create a virtual recruiter. The chatbot, Julie, tests how candidates behave in specific hospitality situations and scores them on responses. Fewer than one-third (30%) of candidates on Sonicjobs make it through, meaning employers spend 70% less time filtering candidates, the company said. Launched two years ago, Sonicjobs works with more than 2,200 restaurants and bars in London including Mitchells & Butlers brand All Bar One and Greene King. Sonicjobs chief executive and co-founder Mikhil Raja said: “Job boards and apps enable managers to put up jobs and receive lots of applications, which they have to filter one-by-one. On the other hand, agencies provide a tailored solution but are expensive. We believe technology can provide the service of a traditional recruitment agency, at a fraction of the price. This is particularly important at entry-level, where good people can drive the success of the business but where managers spend lots of time recruiting and are plagued by high staff turnover.” Huntingdon, founder of £120m revenue recruitment firm Serocor Group, added: “When I look to invest, I look at people, product and problem. Hospitality recruitment has been a key problem ever since I entered recruitment 20 years ago and is only getting worse with increasing wages and Brexit. I believe Sonicjobs has huge potential to expand rapidly and become a key player.” Sonicjobs has just partnered with Deliveroo to help its restaurants in London and the UK to recruit staff. Meanwhile Nick Deverell-Smith, chef patron of Cotswolds pub The Churchill Arms and who has worked with Gordon Ramsay, Marcus Wareing and Eric Chavot, is joining Sonicjobs’ advisory board.
Harts Group, the parent company of London restaurants Barrafina and Quo Vadis, has closed its fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube after raising almost £2.5m. The campaign was launched with an initial £750,000 target and raised more than £1.6m within the first two hours. The company was offering 9.12% equity in return for investment, with the funds supporting an expansion to King’s Cross. The brothers plan to open a Barrafina site in Coal Drops Yard in October offering 34 covers inside, 60 on a terrace and a 20-cover private dining room. In total, 972 investors pledged £2,499,000 and the campaign has now closed. It is the first time the company, which is led by Sam and James Hart, has offered a chance to invest in the business. Harts Group’s Ebitda growth has averaged 19.9% per year since 2013. In 2017, the company turned over £10.3m with Ebitda of £1.04m. Quo Vadis is a British restaurant offering produce-led food from much-respected chef Jeremy Lee. It also has a members’ club in Soho. Barrafina offers top-quality Spanish tapas, bar dining and private events spaces. The original Barrafina opened in Soho in 2007, with two more launching in 2014 and 2015 in Adelaide Street and Drury Lane, Covent Garden. The brothers also teamed up with Crispin Somerville to launch tortilla factory and taco bar Tortilleria El Pastor in Bermondsey in April.
Essex-based artisan cider producer Big Bear Cider Mill has passed the halfway mark in its £300,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to scale up production. Earlier this month, the company increased its equity offer to 15% from the original 10% in return for investment. So far, 134 investors have pledged £151,800 with ten days of the campaign remaining. The company is looking for funds to create an “apple to can” production facility able to produce more than one million litres of craft cider a year. The pitch states: “We plan to make quality craft cider marketed with a strong brand appeal and year-round supply. Essex orchards were ripped up in the 1960s and 1970s to make way for gravel pits. We buy disused gravel pits and turn them into flourishing orchards – making great cider and having a positive environmental impact.”
Europe’s largest Japanese Food Hall – Ichiba – has opened at Westfield London as part of the Shepherd’s Bush centre’s £600m expansion. Ichiba is the first joint venture between the Japan Centre Group and Cool Japan Fund, which helps support businesses to promote Japanese food and culture overseas. The 17,400 square foot flagship store features food stations dedicated to freshly prepared and cooked food. The main food hall offers a range of Japanese staples including a selection of sake, rice crackers and confectionery, plus books and hand-picked ceramics. In-store experiences are also a key part of the new-format concept. Theatrical kitchens are set around seating for more than 200 covers with a changing schedule of weekly cooking demonstrations and workshops, events, regional food and drink festivals and sake-tasting seminars. Tak Tokumine, chief executive of Japan Centre, said: “Ichiba is a dynamic and inspiring addition to the expanded centre and retail landscape in the capital.” Keith Mabbett, director of leasing, Westfield UK and Europe, added: “Ichiba is a fantastic concept that will offer our visitors the opportunity to dine, shop and experience Japanese cuisine and culture with an element of theatre – and we know it will be hugely popular.”
London-based Mamuska Restaurants, which owns and operates casual dining concept Mamuska! Polish Kitchen and Bar, is to close its Elephant and Castle site after the lease expired. The company will shut the site on Friday, 27 July with all furniture auctioned off and half the proceeds going to Polonia Ladies Volleyball Club. Mamuska stated: “We have had a blast over the past eight years, the past three of which have been at 16 Elephant and Castle. We asked to stay but the landlord refused to extend the lease.” Founder Ian McColl will focus on opening the company’s flagship site in Waterloo. The 240-cover, 400 square metre venue is set to open in LCR’s new Leake Street Arches development. McColl is also looking to expand the concept further. Areas of interest listed on the company’s website include Camden, Lewisham, King’s Cross, Shoreditch and White City.
Dog-friendly restaurant brand Megan’s has opened its third site in London. Megan’s On The Hill has launched at a former Starbucks site in Balham. It is the company’s first site south of the Thames, joining sister venues in Chelsea and Parsons Green. The venues operate as a cafe by day and transform into a restaurant in the evening, with dogs welcome at any time. Additions to the menu at the new venue in Bedford Hill include sourdough pizza, shakshouka and “deconstructed kebabs”.
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 www.bii.org. 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.
Which female entrepreneur has most impressed you in the past year? Propel is inviting nominations for the Wireless Social Entrepreneur of the Year, which will be presented on Tuesday, 4 September at the end of the Women’s Entrepreneur Conference. Readers are invited to sent their nominations to Propel managing director Paul Charity at firstname.lastname@example.org
Propel has partnered with Elliotts chief executive Ann Elliott (pictured) to launch the sector’s first conference featuring an all-female line-up of company leaders. The event 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”). 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 at senior levels by women. We hope companies send their brightest female talent to the conference to pick up inspiration and develop their entrepreneurial talent.” 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 email@example.com or calling her on 01444 817691.
Propel Multi Club & Summer Party
5th July 2018
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