The Vegetarian Butcher Banner

Britain’s managed pub and restaurant sales drop 72.6% in December

David Coffer, chairman of The Coffer GroupBritain’s managed pub and restaurant groups saw total sales drop 72.6% over the festive season, in what should have been the sector’s busiest trading period of the year, according to the latest Coffer Peach Business Tracker. Trading figures for the five weeks from 30 November to 3 January showed drink-led managed pubs and bars were worst hit, with total sales down 83.7% and 87.2% respectively on the same period last year.

Managed food-led pubs and pub restaurants were down 78.2%, while group-owned restaurants saw total sales drop 57.9%. Regionally, London, which was largely open at the beginning of December, also fared slightly better than the rest of the country with sales down 66.8% on last year, compared with 73.9% down outside the M25.

At the beginning of the festive period Tracker figures showed just over half of the country’s managed pubs, bars and restaurants were trading again after November’s lockdown. By the end of December the number was less than 10%. At the end of December, underlying annual sales for the whole market were down 50.5% on the previous 12 months. “Restaurants had a marginally less miserable time, benefiting from people out Christmas shopping at the start of month and more importantly from delivery business,” said Karl Chessell, director of CGA, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker, in partnership with The Coffer Group and RSM.

“Overall in December, delivery accounted for 23% of restaurant chains’ sales. The tier system had already kept pubs and restaurants across large parts of the country closed from the start of the month, but the escalation of measures saw the sector effectively grind to a total standstill by the end of December.” David Coffer (pictured), chairman of The Coffer Group, added: “With most operators now unable to create any turnover whatsoever the accrual of debt has become critical.”


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

Other News:


Restaurant Closed – Economy – CovidHospitality job losses for 2020 hit 660,000, shrinking the workforce by more than a quarter over the past 12 months, according to new research by software provider Fourth. However, December saw the fewest job leavers since May, indicating the continuation of the furlough scheme is helping to protect and preserve a portion of jobs in the market place.

Fourth’s data, which has been aggregated from analysis of more than 700 companies across the restaurant, pub, bar and quick service restaurant (QSR) sectors, revealed there were a further 8,591 workers who lost their jobs over the course of December, bringing the total number of sector job losses to roughly 660,000 for the year.

The data also revealed the workforce shrunk by 28% in December, compared with the same month in 2019. This can be broken down by sector, where pubs experienced the least negative impact with a year-on-year drop in labour of 22%. This is followed by QSRs with a drop of 30%, and the restaurant sector with a 31% drop. The most impacted sector, again, was hotels, where there was a 33% reduction in labour compared with last year.


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

Jonathan NeameJonathan Neame (pictured), chief executive of Kent-based brewer and retailer Shepherd Neame, has said he hopes when the sector is allowed to reopen “the restrictions that have been imposed on us are lifted in one go”. Talking on Propel’s Lessons & Learning for Lockdown Three video, Neame said the sector should not be having to “fight tooth and nail for the right for bar service, for the right for two metre distancing, for this, that and the other”. He said: “The critical thing is we are not put to the back of the queue. The real frustration in the autumn of being singled out as a separate environment was completely and utterly wrong. When non-essential retail opens, hospitality should be able to open, with the same restrictions, whatever they are. I think the battleground we are playing for is somewhere between the end of March and the end of April, so it is a relatively tight window and I am sure the health lobby will be pushing in the opposite direction to delay it for as long as possible, but as far as I’m concerned, we need to push back against this increasingly unacceptable authoritarian voice from health care. This is all about risk management. We have given up our freedom to manage the risk of death, and of course if the vaccines get rolled out, the risk of death is reduced by 90% or whatever the numbers are. At that point this becomes a disease we can live with, and people should be allowed to take their own view about managing their own risk. So, when we reopen we open as we were before. We volunteered to give up our freedom to protect the NHS, not for a social re-engineering exercise or for some form of long-term restrictions. We need to be pretty robust about that and stand up very strongly to this health authoritarianism.”
Closed PubCompanies in the Scottish Hospitality Group (SHG) have taken on more than £16m of debt since lockdown started to allow them to stay afloat, the trade body has revealed. It said if all of Scotland’s 16,000 licensed premises were in the same position as its members, the industry as a whole would be carrying a debt burden of anywhere between £800m and £1.2bn. SHG said it expected this figure will rise significantly due to the worst-ever December trading figures and a “major shortfall” in government support, which in many cases is lower than what employers have to pay in national insurance, pensions and holiday accrual. The debt is a combination of funds from the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, bank loans, overdrafts and payment deferrals and is necessary to pay property and equipment rent, among other fixed costs. Servicing and repaying the debt will severely impact on firms’ ability to bounce back from the pandemic and to invest for recovery, SHG said. Spokesman Stephen Montgomery said: “Our members don’t have their usual Christmas reserves to see them through the quieter months and government help doesn’t even cover the costs of employer furlough contributions for most operators. This debt is necessary to keep jobs alive, but it will come at a heavy price to the sector, and that’s if we even survive. Businesses must have clarity and honesty about what’s available and for that help to be in their hands much quicker than it has been so far.” Last week, SHG reported its members took in only 20% of last year’s earnings during December. The figures mean SHG members lost £9.6m of revenue – money that would normally keep businesses alive until the spring.
Richard CaringSerial sector investor Richard Caring (pictured) has lined up at least three new openings, including plans to open on the former La Brasserie site in London’s South Kensington, Propel has learned. Caring, who backs Caprice Holdings, the Ivy Collection and Bill’s, is believed to have secured the La Brasserie site in Brompton Road, which closed in 2017, for a yet unspecified, new restaurant project. Propel has learned he has also secured the former Le Pain Quotidien site next door to the Ivy Chelsea Garden in the Kings Road, to open an Ivy Asia. Caring currently operates two Ivy Asia sites in St Paul’s and Manchester and is thought to be looking at further opportunities to expand the concept, either as standalone sites or adjacent to existing Ivy Collection restaurants. Propel understands Caring is also closing in on announcing what he plans to launch on the ex-Porsche Garage site in Mount Street, Mayfair. He is still working on plans to reopen the former Princess Garden of Mayfair site in North Audley Street, which he acquired in 2016. It had previously been earmarked for a Caprice Café concept but may now become another Ivy Asia.
Douglas Jack, Peel Hunt leisure analystPeel Hunt Leisure analyst Douglas Jack (pictured) has adjusted forecasts for Loungers to reflect the third lockdown in England, which Peel Hunt assumes will end on 31 March, but believes it will have “no negative impact” on the business’ long-term valuation and growth prospects. Issuing a ‘Buy’ note on the shares with a target price of 270p, Jack said: “Loungers’ 25.1% like-for-like sales growth in the first half of its financial year was materially ahead of the sector. This converted to £53.5m of first half sales from just 12 trading weeks versus £79.8m of revenue from 24 trading weeks in the first half of 2020. However, we are adjusting our forecasts to assume just £24m of revenue in the second half. This reflects four weeks of 5% like-for-like sales growth in the early part of the second half, as the restrictions intensified; 16 weeks of full closure (November 2020 and January to March 2021); five weeks of heavily restricted trade in December and early January; and three weeks of disrupted trading in early April. We forecast £49m less sales to cause an £11m drop in Ebitda (IAS 17) after factoring in Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme compensation, lower purchasing costs, additional government grants and extra savings under lockdown. It equates to £0.5m Ebitda over the full year. Alternatively, first half Ebitda: £8.2m; five weeks of trading in the early part of the second half: £1.9m Ebitda; 16 weeks of full closure: £(7.4)m Ebitda; and seven weeks of heavily restricted trade: £(2.2)m.” On expansion, Jack said forecasts now assume Loungers would open six sites this financial year, with three sites opening in April. He added: “The main impact of the third lockdown is to increase net debt forecasts. Our 2022E average sales forecast is similar to 2019’s level despite the subsequent growth in like-for-like sales and the very high quality of new sites. We believe Loungers’ organic expansion model should continue to generate high returns, with margins offering material upside over the long term. The shares are trading well below their peak of 270p in February, since when we believe the company’s medium-term trading prospects have strengthened.”
Hard Rock Cafe in LondonEntertainment and hospitality brand Hard Rock International has acquired the casino premises licence from The Ritz Club in London. The deal will allow Hard Rock to seek out and establish a new casino premises in the capital, “continuing Hard Rock’s expansion into major cities around the world”. Hard Rock International chairman Jim Allen said: “We look forward to expanding our brand offerings within London and bringing our award-winning hospitality, gaming and entertainment to the birthplace of Hard Rock.” The move is expected to see “the creation of a casino that will complement the other company offerings in international gateway cities such as Florida, New York, Paris, Amsterdam, Madrid and many more”. The Ritz Club – which opened in 1998 – and hosted celebrities including Al Pacino, Johnny Depp and Bill Clinton, announced in June last year it would not reopen after lockdown.
Peter Marks, chief executive of Rekom UKPeter Marks (pictured), chief executive of Rekom UK, formerly Deltic Group, has accused the government of acting like a hospital triage department – “evaluating which sectors are going to live, and which are going to die”. Talking on Propel’s Lessons & Learning for Lockdown Three video, Marks said in terms of support the late-night sector has been “sent down the mortuary”. He said: “I understand how difficult it is for the government but the only time we were being listened to in all seriousness about the state of our businesses was when everyone else was open, and we were the only people left on the subs bench. Then I felt we had a chance, but as soon as everyone else came back off the pitch and back on the bench with the lockdown in November, it was game over. Until Rishi Sunak’s recent £9,000 grant, there were 11 strands of government support and we didn’t qualify for eight of them, it was like it was trying to chisel out something that was never going to save the late-night economy, particularly a large, late-night economy business. It has been frustrating beyond belief and I don’t think it is going to give us any more money.” Scandinavian company Rekom Group, which operates circa 120 late-night venues across Finland, Norway and Denmark, acquired 44 out of Deltic’s 55 sites out of administration last year and Marks said the business is now talking about growth and ready to look at opportunities for consolidation. He said: “In many respects we have the luxury of closure now, which allows us to do a lot more in terms of integration and planning and get things right so we can hit the ground running, than you normally would if you were acquiring or being acquired because you then have to carry on your business as normal in the background. To be talking about growth, which we are, and looking at opportunities, which we will be, given the last nine months is fantastic. Rekom has spotted the UK is a good market, and a lot larger than the rest of its markets (Finland, Denmark and Norway). Clearly there will be a lot of people out there who will throw the towel in or landlords who won’t want to keep the same tenant or companies that will have to go through pre-packs, and that will bring opportunities to us. We have a different story and a different feel to our story moving forward now, and I am hugely grateful for that.” Marks also revealed the group’s site – Club Batchwood – in Batchwood Hall, St Albans, had become the first nightclub in the country to be used for the vaccination programme, after the business was approached by the local health authorities.
Prime Minister Boris JohnsonPrime minister Boris Johnson (pictured) is set to reject the idea of having a dedicated hospitality minister. MPs across the political spectrum voiced their support for creating the position during a debate on Monday (11 January) after more than 200,000 people signed the petition #SeatAtTheTable. However, responding to Catherine McKinnell, the Labour MP for Newcastle North, who led the debate into creating the role, Johnson said: “You’re right to identify the troubles of the hospitality sector, and it has been through a very difficult time. We are doing everything we can to support it, and the chancellor, business secretary and I meet regularly with representatives of that sector. We have given all the grants, the recent increase in grants that you know of, on top of the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and bounce back loans, the furlough scheme and many, many other forms of support, but the best thing for the hospitality sector is we all work together to defeat the virus, in the way I’m absolutely certain we can, with disciplined action and the vaccine roll out, and get it back on its feet, and I am sure that is the best thing for it.” McKinnell tweeted afterwards: “Unfortunately the PM hasn’t agreed to meet with @seatat_thetable @chefpublishing to discuss proposal for a dedicated hospitality minister. I will follow up with a letter and in my view, it is in his government’s interest so it can get things right for this vital sector #seatatthetable.” During the debate McKinnell highlighted hospitality was caught between “two crowded departments” – the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport – that “creates an incentive for passing the buck between departments, which reinforces the case for a minister for hospitality”.
Kate NichollsUKHospitality has urged the government to extend the time allowed to pay back covid-related, state-backed loans and amend furlough eligibility requirements. The trade body has written to chief secretary to the Treasury, Steve Barclay, with requests that would increase the chances of survival for hospitality businesses. The letter, signed by UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls (pictured), stated it was thankful for the announcement of additional grants on 5 January and recommended a package that could help the sector bounce back this year. UKHospitality has asked for an extension to the eligibility date for employees on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) – more commonly referred to as furlough. It added: “Many businesses in hospitality took new members of staff on during November expecting a busy Christmas. Government should extend the eligibility date for CJRS to include those employed at the end of December 2020, subject to having had a PAYE RTI submission made on their behalf (likely to be 23 December).” It also asked for an amendment to pay calculation because “pay for many still relates to the 2019-20 national minimum wage rates for some” and said this should be uprated in line with increased national minimum wage rates. It should also “allow furlough for employer-initiated notice periods” in relation to the government’s intent to prevent furlough paying wages in the notice period of a member of staff made redundant, but “where the employee has initiated the notice, we believe this should be covered”. UKHospitality added it is grateful for the government’s move to extend applications for state-backed loans until 31 March 2021 but recommended the government also extend the repayment period for all government-backed loans to ten years; increase the interest-free period on loans for a further 12 months; promote new or increased loan facilities for businesses that need to borrow more; extend the Covid Corporate Financing Facility for new entrants and ensure flexible refinancing dates; and push back the date for repayment of deferred taxation to December 2021.
Rishi SunakThe hospitality and tourism sector is calling on the government to apply a further extension of the reduced rate of VAT in a bid to avoid 310,000 job losses. A survey of 1,144 sector businesses by the Cut Tourism VAT (CTV) Campaign, UKHospitality, the Tourism Alliance and the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions demonstrated the importance of the decision by chancellor Rishi Sunak (pictured) to cut VAT to 5% for the industry. A total of 90% said the VAT cut was important, very important or crucial to their businesses with more than 75% saying they might not have been able to continue trading without it. Most businesses used some of the VAT reduction to meet the additional costs of covid compliance and the next most important use was to pay wages and suppliers. A total of 72% said if the reduction continued they would use it to fund investment. The survey showed if the VAT rate reverts back to 20% in April there will be further cut-backs and job losses and the CTV Campaign estimated this could mean the loss of 310,000 jobs in hospitality and tourism. It would also likely lead to an increase in prices to consumers just before Easter. The survey results suggested turnover in the tourism and hospitality sector would be £9bn greater with VAT at 5%, compared with 20%. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The decision of the chancellor to cut VAT to 5% last July was one of the few bright spots of the year and stimulated economic growth before the second wave began to hit. If the government wants to see a turbo-charged recovery in communities right across the UK then an extension of the VAT cut is the surest way to do it.” Kurt Janson, director of the Tourism Alliance, added: “We believe there is also a huge benefit in combining a reduction in VAT for the tourism and hospitality industry with a reduction in the VAT threshold for businesses.”
Nicola SturgeonFinancial support must be expanded swiftly for Scottish operators following the tightening of rules around the sale of takeaway food and drink, UKHospitality has warned. Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon (pictured) has banned people from drinking outside and making non-essential click-and-collect orders. From Saturday (16 January) people picking up takeaway meals will be barred from entering eateries, instead having to wait outside. Alcohol consumption outdoors in all level four areas of Scotland will be banned, under new regulations, meaning anyone who buys takeaway alcohol must consume it in their own home. In response, UKHospitality Scotland executive director Willie Macleod said: “Only this week we warned about the need for further support to secure the future of the hospitality sector in Scotland. It is now even more important that financial support be expanded swiftly in order to save as many businesses and jobs as possible. Before this tightening of restrictions, there was precious little way for a business in the hospitality sector to generate any revenue. One of the few avenues open to them has now been squeezed. An expansion of support has to come quickly if we expect hospitality to be in any sort of shape to aid the country’s economic recovery after the crisis. An extension of the VAT cut and the business rates holiday are now a must. This has to be confirmed as a bare minimum as soon as possible.”
Waiter taking coffee order from two young female customers standing at cafe counterUS restaurants and bars are able to apply for loans that will convert into grants under the revamped Paycheck Protection Programme (PPP) – provided certain requirements are met. Operators can apply for a “second-draw” PPP loan if they meet all of the following criteria – their gross receipts declined by 25%; they were open for business by 15 February 2020, except for seasonal employers; they have fewer than 300 employees per location (first-time borrowers can have up to 500 employees per location); and they are not a publicly traded company. The forgivable loan is calculated at 3.5 times their monthly payroll, up to $2m. First-time borrowers can receive up to $10m. Those loans will convert to grants if businesses abide by a variety of strict requirements. These include spending at least 60% of the funds on payroll and maintaining their employee headcount. Loans under $150,000 will have shortened forgiveness applications, in an effort to attract borrowers who can’t afford to employ professional accountants. Restaurants will also be able to use non-payroll funds to pay their suppliers for current or previous orders of “perishable goods” or “worker protection measures” such as drive-thru windows, air ventilators, health screening, and even outdoor dining build-outs. Businesses can elect to use the PPP funds over either an eight-week period, or stretch it out over a longer 24-week period. Any non-forgivable portions of the loan carry an interest rate of 1% and must be repaid within five years. Congress has made $284bn available through the revamped PPP, specifically targeting the hospitality industry for extra help – and setting aside aid for low-income communities and first-time borrowers who were shut out from funding last year. The debut $350bn round of funding last April was exhausted in under two weeks.
Legal – Law CourtThe Supreme Court has revealed its judgement for the appeal of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)’s test case on business interruption insurance relating to the covid-19 pandemic lockdown will be handed down on Friday (15 January). An update on the court website said a judgment will be handed down at 9.45am. The judgement will be available to view live via the Supreme Court website. This judgement is the result of the four-day hearing that started on 16 November after six insurers – Arch Insurance, Argenta, Hiscox, MS Amlin, RSA, and QBE UK – and a policyholder action group joined the FCA on the appeal, which seeks to clarify whether policy wordings cover the business interruption caused by the nationwide coronavirus lockdown last March. The decision upheld by the Supreme Court will be the final say in the matter and could potentially impact 700 types of policies, 60 insurers, and 370,000 policyholders, including thousands of hospitality businesses whose insurers declined to pay out following the enforced closure of premises, resulting in billions in claims.
S4labourHospitality sales fell 51.38% in 2020, characterised mainly by a 98.3% decline in the second quarter driven by the first lockdown, according to analysis from S4labour, the online labour-scheduling management system from Catton Hospitality. In the first two months of the year, prior to the effects of the pandemic, revenue growth was 6.6%. As pubs and restaurants opened up from 4 July, consumers were hesitant leading to low demand levels, and revenue was down 50.9%. Overall, London was more affected, with a revenue decline of 56.0%, with sales outside the capital performing better, at a decline of 50.2%.
S4labour is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member
UK HospitalityUKHospitality Cymru has said it will continue to press the Welsh government for further support while trading restrictions remain as a £180m fund to support tourism, hospitality and leisure businesses launches. The Economic Resilience Fund package will open for applications at noon on Wednesday (13 January). The fund will remain open for two weeks or until funds are fully committed. The funding, announced in December, is part of a live £450m package of support the hospitality, leisure and tourism sectors as well as their supply chains can access and will provide vital support to thousands of firms impacted by level three and four restrictions. The £180m is in addition to a £270m support package for businesses that pay non-domestic rates, which includes non-essential retail businesses, and is being delivered via local authorities. Welsh government estimates under the package of support a typical hospitality business in the country with the equivalent of six full-time staff could be eligible to receive between £12,000 and £14,000 in total. Economy minister Ken Skates said: “Our package of support is the most generous in the UK and since the beginning of the pandemic more than £1.6bn of Welsh government financial assistance has reached businesses. Many hospitality, tourism, leisure and non-essential retail businesses have already received payments of £3,000 or £5,000 in the past month and this additional funding will be absolutely crucial in supporting eligible businesses through the difficult weeks ahead.” UKHospitality Cymru executive director David Chapman said: “We will continue to press for additional funds to help with extended lockdown. After almost a year of little or no trading we now need additional help to carry the companies and their workforces through to the better days we hope will be ahead soon. We call on Welsh government to put together a further package to operate from the end of the month if severe restrictions on trade are to continue.”
Creams dessertDessert parlour operator Creams is to open its first site in Wales, and 91st in total. Set to open in Cardiff’s Queen Street on Monday, 25 January, the company-owned store will initially offer takeaway and delivery only via Just Eat, Deliveroo and UberEats, opening for dine-in when restrictions allow. Creams chief executive Adam Mani said: “Despite the challenges of 2020, I am immensely proud the brand has been able to continue with its expansion plans.” Creams successfully pivoted its business in 2020 through the introduction of an online experience for delivery and click and collect. In October, the group reported a record-breaking October with sales of more than £4m across the estate. The brand has also opened three new stores since March 2020 with another five or six planned for the first quarter of 2021. Creams was founded in 2008 by Balal Aqil and Mani. The brand employs more than 1,400 staff and works with a variety of franchise partners across the UK.
McDonald'sMcDonald’s has introduced click and serve at its UK drive-thrus to reduce waiting times. UK chief executive Paul Pomroy said: “We have heard from some of you who have been unable to access our drive-thru lanes or McDelivery provision in recent days, and I am sorry for any disappointment that has been caused by this temporary change to our services. This week, we will begin reviewing our safety measures for walk-in takeaway, working with third-party experts to assess any changes we could make to enhance the additional safety measures put in place since re-opening our restaurants last year. In the meantime, the click and serve programme has been rolled out at all drive-thrus to help reduce waiting times in queues and for those customers with vehicles deemed unsuitable for the drive-thru lane. Designated parking bays are present in all drive-thru restaurant car parks, enabling you to park, order via the My McDonald’s app, and have your order safely delivered to your vehicle in a numbered bay. We are reviewing how we might introduce a similar provision for customers on-foot and we will begin piloting this provision in the coming weeks. Once again, thank you for your continued patience. I know it is not the service you’re used to, but I do hope you understand the reasons why we’re taking these steps, slowing things down and reviewing our enhanced safety measures. I will continue to write to you regularly with updates as we review, pilot and reintroduce our services.”

Edinburgh, ScotlandThe new package of financial support for Scottish operators will not be enough to prevent some sector businesses from failure and jobs being permanently lost, UKHospitality has warned. The Scottish government has announced, in addition to the grants businesses receive through the Strategic Business Framework Fund, businesses closed by level four restrictions are to receive a one-off grant of up to £25,000. The £25,000 grant is being made available to larger hospitality businesses on top of the four-weekly £3,000 through the fund. Meanwhile, smaller hospitality businesses will get £6,000 on top of the four-weekly payment of £2,000. UKHospitality Scotland executive director Willie Macleod said: “Additional financial assistance is always welcome, but the reality is this is not going to be enough. We are talking about businesses that now have no revenue, or next to no revenue, whatsoever. The sector’s ability to generate any sort of income is almost non-existent, particularly for businesses in mainland Scotland. Financial support must go further if we want businesses to stay afloat and jobs to survive. We need confirmation the VAT cut and business rates holiday will be extended. This will, at least, give hospitality businesses some sense of stability and allow them to plan for what is going to be a very difficult year.” Finance secretary Kate Forbes said: “Crucially this essential funding will also help to close the gaps in UK-wide support for these impacted sectors and our one-off support for larger hospitality premises of £25,000 is considerably more generous than the £9,000 grant on offer in England. Of course we are acutely aware this support can never compensate for the full impact on business, but we must work within the resources that are available to us, and we continue to respond to the evolving economic challenges arising from the pandemic.”

Rishi SunakChancellor Rishi Sunak (pictured) has said as the UK comes out of the covid-19 crisis it will be important the hospitality industry is “given every possible chance to succeed and flourish”. Speaking in the House of Commons and replying to a question on future further support for the sector, Sunak said: “I will bear in mind other avenues for future support. As we come out of this it will be important the hospitality industry is given every possible chance to succeed and flourish.” However, he was less forthcoming on what that support would look like, side-stepping a question on the possibility of extending business rates relief and the current VAT cut, and refusing to be drawn on whether the furlough scheme could be extended past the end of April.

Closed PubPubs across the UK will be lost for good if they cannot reopen until May and do not get extended financial support from government, the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has warned. The trade body has also said Downing Street needs to be clear on its roadmap for the reopening of pubs. BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin said: “We really hope the speculation about pubs being forced to stay closed until May is not true. We strongly believe pubs are safe places to socialise and can play an important role in our social and economic recovery. If pubs are forced to stay close until May, it would mean they have faced 14 months of lockdowns and restrictions. How on earth could the government expect them to survive? UK pubs will be screaming ‘mayday’ long before a May reopening without significantly more financial support from government. The government has a duty to tell publicans when it plans to let them reopen with a clear roadmap alongside the vaccination programme. If it won’t be until May then it needs to extend financial support for them to survive and to brewers whose businesses also face jeopardy. In the more immediate future this means an extension to the chancellor’s latest grant support package and not just for pubs, but also breweries. In the longer term it means extensions to the business rates holiday and VAT cut, as well as a beer duty cut throughout 2021 and beyond. Without such support, local pubs in communities across the country will be lost forever.”

NightclubThe newly formed All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for the night time economy has launched an urgent inquiry into the devastating impact of covid-19 on British nightlife. The inquiry is being led by APPG chair Jeff Smith, who worked in the sector for several years in his earlier career. The APPG is calling for evidence from night-time economy businesses, employees, freelancers and consumers to share their views on the challenges facing the sector, its importance to society and economy, and how nightlife can be reopened. Consultations will run throughout the month of January for a report scheduled to be released in February. Evidence for the inquiry can be submitted via an online survey accessed at The group will also be contacting several night-time economy organisations and representatives from the government and local authorities to provide written testimony. The APPG was formed in December to provide a cross-party voice for the sector in parliament. Smith said: “As we move now into a third national lockdown, there has never been a more important time for government to address the urgent needs of night-time economy businesses, their supply chains and those that rely on them for employment. Despite playing such a vital role in our local communities and UK economy, nightlife businesses have been repeatedly overlooked by the government, and we are determined to ensure the specific challenges facing the sector are addressed. This inquiry will be a vital first step in our work.”

More than three quarters of businesses in the accommodation and foodservice sectors, including hotels and restaurants, experienced a drop in profits and turnover during the past few weeks compared with expectations in normal times, new data suggests. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) found half of businesses in the accommodation and foodservice sectors that took part in the latest poll had less than three months’ worth of cash reserves left. Some 28% of surveyed accommodation and food firms said they had no or low confidence that they would survive the next three months, the ONS’ latest voluntary fortnightly business survey covering the period from 14 to 23 December said. In the latest survey period covered, 41% of businesses in the accommodation and foodservice sectors were temporarily closed or paused trading, compared with 13% across all industries. The ONS said: “When splitting the industry into finer detail, the accommodation industry had 28% of its businesses temporarily closed or paused trading, compared with 43% in the food and beverage service activities industry.”

GravityExperiential leisure operator Gravity is make its London debut at Southside Shopping Centre, Wandsworth, for an 80,000 square foot entertainment venue set to launch in the former Debenhams in summer 2021. Gravity started as a trampoline park company in 2015 and has since expanded into innovative entertainment concepts, helping to revitalise shopping centres and the high street across the UK. The Southside site will feature gaming experiences such as e-karting, augmented reality bowling, crazy golf, pool, ping-pong and shuffleboards. It will also offer an array of dining and drinking options, including a noodle kitchen, American diner and cocktail bar. The Southside joint venture (a joint venture between Landsec and Invesco Real Estate) and Gravity are investing £4m to redevelop the former Debenhams department store unit as part of a combined strategy to reimagine the destination and incorporate new and innovative concepts. David Heaford, managing director, development, at Landsec, said: “Leisure is an increasingly important component of a complete destination and Gravity is a significant addition that complements Southside’s existing offer. Southside is designed to offer everything the community needs, and this signing, at a challenging time for the industry, is a testament to the strength of our customer base and the centre’s appeal. Gravity’s exciting concept will inspire locals and draw people from across London, so we are excited to see this prominent site come to life later this year.” Harvey Jenkinson, co-founder and chief executive at Gravity, added: “This is a huge milestone for Gravity as we look to not just grow our business, but also the types of venues we are creating. We believe concepts like this will be the future of the high street and shopping centres, offering a solution for landlords who are looking to diversify and secure the future of their assets. This exciting entertainment hub will showcase Gravity’s ability to create venues that cater to a varied audience, which is so immersive they will feel like they could be in a completely different place in the world.”

From left: Be At One co-founder Steve Locke, chief financial officer Toby Rolph, co-founder Rhys Oldfield, chief operating officer Andrew Stones and co-founder Leigh MillerAll-day concept The Breakfast Club has appointed Steve Locke (pictured left), co-founder of the Be At One cocktail chain, as its interim managing director, Propel has learned. Locke, who remains committed to Lockes, the bar he launched in 2019 in Covent Garden, left Be At One in 2018 after the 33-strong chain’s circa £50m sale to Stonegate Pub Company. Locke formed Be At One with Rhys Oldfield and Leigh Miller in 1998. Propel revealed The Breakfast Club had begun the search for a managing director last November as it looks to grow the Charlie McVeigh-chaired, 12-strong business to 30-plus sites. Co-founder Jonathan Arana-Morton told Propel: “In November, I signed up to a LinkedIn premium account and made my first ever LinkedIn post, a speculative job advert for a managing director. The response (more than 3,000 views and 70 applicants) from people in and outside this industry was phenomenal and completely unexpected. I had the pleasure of spending most of December meeting some wonderfully talented people. This industry is in good hands. A process like this leads you to a solution you weren’t necessarily expecting. We are delighted to announce the appointment of Steve Locke as managing director of The Breakfast Club. The appointment is initially on an interim, part-time basis, to help set the business on a course to fly out of the post-pandemic traps. Steve comes from a background that puts ‘arms wide open’ hospitality front and centre. I’ve always maintained great hospitality will be the key driver as we move out of a covid eat-at-home, delivery-driven world. Steve is also one of only a handful of people in our sector who has made the exact journey we’re embarking on. His experience in scaling a business our size is priceless and as I said to him after our first meeting ‘you had me at Be At One’ – I’m a huge fan. Steve will be tasked with building the structure to enable The Breakfast Club to scale over the next five years. But this is not just about the next five years, he is also here to help us build a vision for a business we can be proud of 30 years from now. This is about building a legacy brand – we want to be the nation’s best-loved ‘caf’ and we hope these are the next steps on that journey.” Locke said: “Jonathan’s post really resonated with me as it had so many parallels with the Be At One journey. Everything I have ever done has been about working with great people and building personal relationships and Jonathan evidently sees things the same way. Together, we see plenty of opportunities in the hospitality industry as we move into 2021.” McVeigh added: “Our great challenge for 2021 is to remake The Breakfast Club into a business that is ready to grow to 30-plus sites when we bounce out of this crisis. Steve’s job is to get us ‘set for success’ on people, systems and mindset as we prepare to navigate the new normal that awaits.”

Wing Wing
West End landlord Shaftesbury has announced the signing of Wing Wing, the London-based Korean crispy chicken specialist, for a site at 47-49 Charing Cross Road, Chinatown. Wing Wing takes inspiration from Korean food and popular culture, with a dining offer focused on ‘Chimaek’ – a combination of chicken and maekju, the Korean word for beer. Light, crispy wings come in a variety of flavours – each piece cooked to order and hand-brushed with a signature glaze – and sit alongside burgers, wraps, rice boxes, and salads on the brand’s menu. Wing Wing was also the first UK brand to have ‘bottoms-up’ beer dispensers that allow customers to serve themselves beer at the table. The Chinatown London restaurant, spanning 2,500 square foot across three floors, will be Wing Wing’s flagship location, and its third in the capital following Tavistock Square and Hammersmith, also featuring event spaces and KTV karaoke rooms. The store is set to open in spring 2021 and will implement appropriate covid-safe protocols and follow government guidelines for both the restaurant and event spaces. Carl Kjellqvist, managing director at Wing Wing, said: “Wing Wing brings two Korean institutions together – food and music. Our signature, hand-glazed crispy chicken has been incredibly popular since we started in London a few years ago, and we cannot wait to open the flagship restaurant in Chinatown, in the heart of cosmopolitan London and the ideal place to have a flagship for any east Asian brand.”

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

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

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

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

Readers can email questions for our experts to Please use BeatTheVirus in the subject line.

Star Pubs & Bars Banner

Jonathan Neame
Lessons & Learning
for Lockdown Three

Mark Wingett talks to Jonathan Neame

CLICK HERE to view

Startle Logo

John Gaunt
Legal Briefing

from John Gaunt & Partners

CLICK HERE to view the latest briefing

CLICK HERE to view archive

Friday Wrap with Charlie McVeigh
The Propel Friday Wrap:

Featuring Mark Stretton, Mark Wingett and Charlie McVeigh

CLICK HERE to view

Krishnan Doyle – Supplier interview
The Supplier Perspective

Mark Wingett talks to Krishnan Doyle

CLICK HERE to view