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Pret confirms plans to enter self-service vending machine market with Pret Express trial

Pret ExpressPret A Manger, the JAB Holdings-backed brand, is to attempt to rival Costa Coffee in the self-service vending machine market, with the trial of Pret Express, “24/7 self-service coffee-to-go solution”.

Propel revealed in July that Pret, which has been seeking new routes to market as its core business in central London was impacted by the crisis, had trademarked the Pret Express name and may look to follow Costa, which operates circa 10,000 Express machines around the world, and introduce a vending format into offices, convenience stores, hospitals and petrol forecourts.

Pret has entered into a partnership with JDE Peet’s, the world’s leading pure-play coffee and tea company and owner of brands including Peet’s Coffee, Douwe Egberts and Jacob, to launch the trial. JDE Peet’s will provide the self-service technology and capabilities, with bespoke furniture designed exclusively for Pret.

The trial follows the recent introduction of a new aluminium coffee pods range, the first venture under the partnership between Pret and JDE Peet’s. Pret said Pret Express will be introduced in convenience stores, forecourts, universities, healthcare facilities and workplaces, offering the same “organic coffee and tea customers enjoy in Pret shops in places where Pret baristas aren’t able to operate”.

Each Pret Express coffee station will offer a wide range of slow roasted, 100% organic speciality coffee and fresh organic milk combinations, as well as tea, a first in the self-serve coffee-to-go sector. Each solution will create up to 21 drink recipes and everything is included; from ingredients to machine and housing installation, with each station having its own cashless payment terminal and service package as standard. Pret said the move was the next step in its transformation strategy, designed to bring the brand to more people, including plans to open 200 new UK shops over the next two years.

The Pano Christou-led business recently announced plans to double the size of its business within the next five years and is aiming to hire at least 3,000 team members and baristas by the end of 2023. Last year Pret launched the UK’s first coffee subscription. Guy Meakin, UK trading director at Pret A Manger, said: “We are excited to be working with JDE Peet’s to launch Pret Express, our first self-serve coffee machines. This is new territory for Pret, which will allow more people across the country to enjoy Pret’s organic coffee and tea on the go, in places where there isn’t the right space to set up a new Pret shop. Using the latest technology from JDE Peet’s, Pret Express will give people a delicious and convenient coffee boost, at the touch of a button.”

 

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Britain’s leading managed restaurant and pub groups more than doubled their delivery and takeaway sales from pre-pandemic levels in September, the latest edition of the CGA & Slerp Hospitality at Home Tracker shows.
 
Combined sales were 130% higher than in September 2019, when businesses were trading as normal; and 35% higher than in September 2020, when they were operating under covid restrictions. Deliveries and takeaways were worth 29% of the total sales of all businesses contributing data to the Tracker.
 
September’s growth in delivery sales was more than five times higher than takeaways, reflecting the popularity of third-party delivery platforms. Drinks accounted for just under 10% of all sales. CGA data suggests delivery and takeaway sales are not compromising consumers’ spending on eating and drinking out. The September edition of the separate CGA Coffer Business Tracker, with a different cohort of contributing companies, indicated managed restaurants, pubs and bars grew their sales by 8% on September 2019.
 
“Delivery and takeaway sales have dipped from the heights of lockdown, but September’s figures show they will stay a crucial part of restaurant and pub operations,” said Karl Chessell, director at CGA. “It’s particularly pleasing to see that at-home sales seem to be complementing rather than cannibalising eat-out spending, even as restaurants and pubs settle back towards normality.”
 

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Alastair ScottMalvern Inns founder Alastair Scott (pictured) is considering absorbing service charges into menu prices so staff can more easily work out their take-home pay. Scott, whose Malvern Inns portfolio includes The George at Bakewell, The Square & Compass in North Rigton and The Castle Inn at Spofforth, fears team members have left as they haven’t properly understood their earnings. With staff shortages leading to higher wages across the industry, Scott feels the tips “puzzle” needs resolving before pay packets are bumped up. “I am really puzzled by the challenge we seem to face in tips,” said Scott, writing exclusively in Propel’s Friday Opinion. “I don’t think our staff actually understand what they earn when they add base pay and tips together, and we have lost staff who think they are being paid more in other jobs when the opposite is true. We are seriously thinking about whether we can morph our service charge into price and remove tips from the equation, but it is another big step that may then prove to be wrong. Pay matters, and we need to help people understand the pay they already receive before piling more on the top.” Scott, a former Mitchells & Butlers operations director who also founded Catton Hospitality, also fears the innovations companies were showing during lockdown have been replaced by “firefighting” to just survive. “I think we had all hoped that life would return to normal post-pandemic, but it feels like the repercussions of the coronavirus are set to last far longer than the virus itself,” he added. “The lockdowns gave us the head space to plan and give real thought as to how we can improve our people, training and innovate our business. But all of this has now been completely overtaken by a cocktail of challenges, and the result is that firefighting has taken over and we are not spending enough time on innovation and growth.”

7Bone7Bone Burger Co, which is backed by Kings Park Capital, has lined up four new openings, including its first London-based site, Propel has learned. The Matt Mollicone-led business is currently on site at the former Café Rouge in Maidstone, with a target to open at the back end of next month. It has also started work on the ex-PizzaExpress in Clarence Road, Staines, with an opening scheduled for early next year. Propel also understands the 11-strong business is set to open a site at the Charter Quay scheme in Kingston, next year, which would be its first move into the capital. It is also set to take a site in Station Road, Solihull, for an opening next year, and is thought to be close to securing further sites for its 2022 openings pipeline. Earlier this year the business opened in Coventry and more recently at the ex-Byron site in Canterbury. Mollicone told Propel this summer: “Where we’ve seen rental markets soften (and stayed militant around rent levels in our model, it’s enabled us to maintain a rent to revenue ratio of under 5%), we’ve been able to pick up sites in target towns where previously we wouldn’t have been able to afford to. Trade through the pandemic has been solid and given real confidence to the next phase of growth, as we’ve been able to maintain sales, on average, of more than 60% of pre-covid levels while solely operating as takeaway/delivery, which has meant the business has remained profitable throughout.” 7Bone opened its first restaurant in Southampton in 2013 with Kings Park Capital taking an equity stake in the business in August 2016. 7Bone’s other sites are in Bournemouth, Camberley, Eastbourne, Hove, Newbury, Northampton, Portsmouth and Reading.

Dundee-based group Macmerry 300, which operates a number of concepts in Scotland, has secured a debut London site for its Abandon Ship Bar brand, Propel has learned. Macmerry 300, which is led by Phil Donaldson, a former professional footballer with Dundee FC, has secured the former Pix Bar site in Neal Street, Covent Garden. The business opened the second site under the Abandon Ship brand, which launched in Dundee, in Glasgow’s Mitchell Street this summer. The company plans to open up to ten sites under the concept, which takes inspiration from a clothing brand set up more than a decade ago, across the UK over the next ten years. It is understood to be looking at openings in Leeds, Manchester, Brighton and Edinburgh. Pre-pandemic the business had looked at launching a site in Camden. The company said: “Almost 18 months after covid stopped our first toe dip into London it is great to finally be moving ahead in the city. Covent Garden, however, will be a more stripped-down version of what we do. Good drinks and good vibes.” The Macmerry 300 group also includes Dundee venues Fly South, Bird & Bear, Draffens, The King of Islington, Still not Dead and pasta bar Frank. It recently launched another nightspot in the city – the 120-cover Nola. It has also made inroads into Glasgow over the past year, opening Mexican eatery The Luchador, cocktail lounge Mr Lincoln and bar/restaurant The Bull. CDG Leisure acted for landlord Pearl & Coutts on the Neal Street deal.

Bourse BooksSteak and lobster restaurant concept Bourgee is to return to the expansion trail with a further opening in Essex. Propel understands Bourgee has secured the former Cafe Rouge at Lakeside for a new site. Bourgee, which was founded in Essex in 2014, was forced to close three of its locations – in Southend, Chelmsford and Bury St Edmunds – after going into administration in 2018. On announcing the closure of the sites, co-founders James Welling and Mark Baumann said the company was able to retain its Luxe Lounge in Southend airport and would soon open new venues. Bourgee also operates a site in Chelmsford’s High Chelmer restaurant quarter. Jake Bernstone, of Stonebrook London, acted on the Lakeside deal.

Nusa KitchenNusa Kitchen, the south east Asian takeaway concept, has reopened the majority of its six-strong, central London-based estate after undergoing a company voluntary arrangement (CVA), Propel has learned. The Hubert Zanier-led business has managed to hold on to all of its sites and its central production unit. It is thought the CVA allowed the business to overcome its rent arrears and to move to a turnover-based rent. It has reopened five of its six sites, with its site in Queen Victoria Street set to reopen in the next few weeks. The business currently also has sites open in Moorgate, Plough Place, Old Street, Adams Court and Cannon Street.

Closed PubUp to 20,000 pubs could be at risk of business failure putting 200,000 jobs in jeopardy if business rates are increased back to previous years, the government has been warned. This would be further compounded by VAT increasing from 12.5% to 20% and the planned increase to beer duty, according to the Long Live The Local campaign on the back of new research by CGA. The rate of pub closures is accelerating, with more than 1,000 having closed in the first half of this year, according to CGA. The initiative, supported by a wide alliance of Britain’s pubs and breweries is asking the government for lower VAT, beer duty and business rates to help pubs and breweries not only recover from the pandemic, but also accelerate the return to growth. David Cunningham, campaign director of Local Long Live Local, said: “Although pubs fully reopened in July, many are still operating at less than 90% of their 2019 trading levels and have large debts to pay and increasing costs. They need help not only to fully recover, but to thrive in the future. In return, thriving pubs and breweries will help Britain level up by delivering stronger economic growth, new investment and jobs.” The message was highlighted by model-turned-publican Jodie Kidd, who got behind the wheel of a special lorry loaded with beer kegs to deliver a 125,000-signature Long Live The Local campaign petition to Downing Street. Kidd said: “My own pub is still only operating at 30% of 2019 trading revenue levels. The whole pub and brewing sectors recovery is still extremely fragile, but next week Rishi Sunak has the chance to secure the future of up to 20,000 pubs at risk of business failure by reversing his plans to increase VAT and beer duty.”

Mark Warburton, managing director of The OHH Pub CompanyMark Warburton (pictured), managing director of West Country-based The OHH Pub Company, is to launch a restaurant venture in Bristol, Propel has learned. Warburton has acquired the former Graze restaurant site in Queens Square after agreeing a deal with St Austell Brewery. Warburton will launch The Cow & Sow, which will be a steak restaurant “with a twist”. The venue is expected to open in January following a refurbishment. “I feel now is not only the ideal time to diversify our offering, but I firmly believe our city centres, and restaurants in particular, are going to bounce back really strong having been hit particularly hard throughout the pandemic,” Warburton told Propel. “I am a huge fan of the Bristol dining scene and I can’t wait to be a part of it.” The restaurant will focus on prime cuts of beef and pork and provenance will be “key”. Warburton added: “The planned facelift will inject a real fresh vibe to accompany the brand as we will be looking to trade from brunch through to dinner, serving fresh coffee and light bites through to prime steaks, ribs and epic burgers.” OHH Pub Company operates four sites – The Rising Sun, Backwell; The Old House At Home, Burton; The Northey Arms, Box; and The Bear & Swan, Chew Magna. Warburton said: “Following a difficult 18 months for hospitality, a lot has changed in the world of OHH. Our pubs look better than ever and our teams are stronger than ever. We are looking to introduce operator partnerships into some of our pubs and we continue to look for additional sites to suit our ambitions to grow organically.”

Boston Tea PartyAll-day dining casual cafe brand Boston Tea Party (BTP) has bounced back to above pre-pandemic trading levels, the company has reported. BTP saw a 21% drop in net sales over its financial year ending October 2020 – £14.6m compared with £18.6m the year before. It ended the year with 23 cafes following the sale of two sites and the acquisition of two more, and following delays due to the pandemic, BTP is set to open in Leamington Spa next Thursday (28 October) and Torquay in early 2022. BTP chief executive Sam Roberts said: “At the start of the pandemic we recognised the need to set out some guiding principles, and since then the business’s decisions have been centred around them. They’ve helped us navigate the closing and reopening of the cafes, the use of the furlough scheme and the honest and open communication we had with the team throughout. We’re proud to have fought so fiercely to protect the team and ensured no one was made redundant.” BTP saw team turnover figures drop to 53.3% in the same period, and also benefited from the government-backed Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme with the support of Santander. By year-end it had drawn £2.5m in term debt, with an unused £1m overdraft facility and a further £1m in term debt undrawn and available. Post year-end, the company drew down the additional £1m term loan facility before its expiry to provide further working capital headroom. It has produced conservative forecasts and cash flows for the next 12 months that assumes modest growth on 2019 sales, and is confident it will withstand any further pressure caused by the pandemic.

Leon's Broadwick Street siteNatural fast food brand Leon, which is owned by EG Group, has promoted Beth Emmens to head of acquisitions. Emmens, who has worked at Leon for nine years, steps up to the new role, taking the reins from Adam Blaker, and will look after all new UK site acquisitions for the company within the core estate. Emmens joined Leon in October 2012 and alongside Blaker has been a key part of growing Leon to 70 sites. A run of new Leon openings is slated for this autumn including Kings Road, Camden, the brand’s first drive-thru in Gildersome in West Yorkshire, along with a concession at the new Asda on the Move site in Holtspur, Buckinghamshire. Leon managing director Glenn Edwards said: “Beth is a natural fit to take the lead as head of acquisitions, continuing Adam’s legacy making Leon even more accessible throughout the UK.” Emmens added: “I’m delighted to get back to looking for great new sites and bringing our naturally fast food to more people in London and across the UK. I’m working closely with the EG team on regional acquisitions to accelerate our growth outside of London, where there is a huge opportunity for us.” EG Group was founded by the billionaire Issa brothers in 2001 and acquired Leon in a circa £100m deal earlier this year.
 
Leon features in Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which is updated monthly for Premium subscribers. Leon has turned over an average of £53.3m in the past five years. The Blue Book, which is produced in association with Mapal Group, provides a five-year overview of turnover and profit, ranks 427 companies according to turnover, pre-tax profit and profit conversion. It also provides details of directors’ earnings and highest paid directors. Companies can now have an unlimited number of people receive access to Propel Premium for a year for £895 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or a supplier. The regular single subscription rate of £395 plus VAT for operators and £495 plus VAT for suppliers remains the same. Email jo.charity@propelinfo.com to sign up.

Your Friendly Local – The Three Horseshoes in HeadingleyMulti-site pub operator Your Friendly Local, led by Chris Windle, is looking to add another two sites to its portfolio after taking on his sixth venue with Greene King Pub Partners. Your Friendly Local has acquired the lease of The Three Horseshoes in Headingley, which has undergone a £150,000 joint investment converting the Otley Run venue into a music and sports pub. Large screens have been introduced throughout and the décor celebrates the sporting history in the area. Windle said: “I operate six pubs with Greene King and am looking to extend this to eight with the company. When the Three Horseshoes came on the market, I grabbed the opportunity to take it.” Steve Look, operations director for Greene King multiples division, said: “Chris has been in this business for 42 years so he knows what he is doing. We are looking forward to seeing the Three Horseshoes go from strength to strength.” Your Friendly Local also operates the Droppingwell, Rotherham; the Liversedge in Liversedge; The Colin, Kimberworth; The Banner Cross in Sheffield; and The Cross Keys in York. Greene King Pub Partners operates 995 tenanted and leased pubs across England, Wales and Scotland and has a plan of investments for the next year.

Deliveroo has reported “strong” performance in the third quarter of 2021 and has increased its full-year guidance for gross transaction value (GTV) growth. The company said GTV growth was up 58% year-on-year in the quarter in constant currency. It said orders were “resilient” despite the full reopening of bars and restaurants, with a modest reduction in average order value. In the UK and Ireland, GTV was £852m in the third quarter, down from £921m in the second quarter, “reflecting typical seasonality”. In the third quarter, year-on-year GTV growth was 56% in constant currency, modestly below order growth of 59% due to a slight decrease in average order value. Compared with 2019, GTV growth in constant currency was 193% in the third quarter of 2021 and order growth was 182%. In International, GTV was £742m in the third quarter, down from £818m in the second quarter “reflecting typical seasonality”. In the third quarter, year-on-year GTV growth was 60% in constant currency, below order growth of 70% due to a decrease in average order value. Compared with 2019, GTV growth in constant currency was 155% in the third quarter of 2021 and order growth was 162%. Deliveroo’s consumer base continued to grow compared with prior years, with an average of 7.5 million monthly active consumers in the third quarter of 2021, up 56% compared with the same period in 2020 and up 142% compared with 2019. Deliveroo reported excellent initial traction from Deliveroo Plus partnership with Amazon Prime. The number of Plus subscribers in UK and Ireland has more than doubled since the partnership launched in mid-September. Full-year GTV growth guidance has increased to 60% to 70% growth versus prior guidance of 50% to 60%. Full-year gross profit margin (as a percentage of GTV): remains unchanged in the range of 7.50% to 7.75%. Will Shu, founder and chief executive of Deliveroo, said: “We have continued to make good progress executing against our strategy, resulting in strong performance in the third quarter. This quarter we have partnered with Amazon to offer their Prime customers in the UK and Ireland access to our Deliveroo Plus subscription programme. We have also successfully launched a new rapid grocery service, Deliveroo Hop, in partnership with Morrisons. These are just two examples of innovations introduced this quarter that are consistently improving our consumer value proposition. While we are mindful of current and potential macroeconomic disruptions and uncertainties, we expect further strong performance in the remainder of the year and we are increasing our full-year GTV growth guidance. We remain excited about the opportunity ahead and our plans to deliver better value to our consumers, help our restaurant and grocery partners to grow, and provide further opportunities for riders.”

Dorset-based brewer and retailer Hall & Woodhouse has reported its managed pubs outside London have traded strongly since reopening “albeit hampered in some locations by seasonal team shortages and supply issues”. The company has refinanced all its banking facilities, with Barclays providing a £45m facility with a tenor of three years. Hall & Woodhouse executive chairman Anthony Woodhouse said the company was “not only surviving the pandemic, but is well placed to recover quickly”. He said this was due to the company being built over many generations on a freehold basis with limited borrowings; the work of the team getting “into battle formation” and then opening its pubs safely a number of times; and the “family culture” that has supported the team, its business partners and communities “through the dark days”. He added: “We are very grateful for the support our industry has received from government. It is worth noting, however, that even after netting off monies received, Hall & Woodhouse was still a significant net contributor to HM Revenue & Customs. The business partnerships pubs reopened without a single vacancy reflecting the market leading support that Hall & Woodhouse provided during the pandemic.” It comes as Hall & Woodhouse reported it limited its operating cash loss after interest and tax to £4.5m for the year ended 30 January 2021. In a year dominated by the pandemic and the closure of pubs for many months, turnover fell 38.7% to £71.5m. Over the past 18 months, Hall & Woodhouse has secured or agreed terms on three managed and seven business partner freehold sites across its trading area. These have been funded in part by the disposal of a number of smaller business partnership sites that did not fit its long-term strategy. Managing director Matt Kearsey said: “Throughout our history, we have managed the business prudently so we can ride out challenging times, and also take advantage of the market opportunities that inevitably arise from disruption. The site purchases we are making are high quality and rarely come on to the market.” Hall & Woodhouse operates about 170 pubs across the south of England.

Oakman Group, Rose InnThe Oakman Group, the Dermot King-led pub-restaurant operator, has said it hopes to have opened 11 new sites by the end of 2023, as it reported sales growth of 36% since July versus the same period in 2019. King said: “Our strategy of investing in destination sites and large covered spaces and an indigenous supply chain has certainly helped to produce impressive performances and attract new investment. This is an exciting time for Oakman. We have started work on our site in Buckingham which will open next spring and a further ten sites in our pipeline could all be trading by the end of 2023. These will be part-funded by an innovative scheme that will allow customers to support us while earning tax-free income from a business-backed ISA.” Propel revealed last month Oakman was launching an innovative finance ISA offer aimed at its existing investors, allowing them to earn tax free interest while backing the group’s freehold expansion plans. The company invests an average of about £4m per freehold investment and is looking to add four to five freehold sites a year to its estate. It will look to raise £12m to £15m a year through the innovative finance ISA offer, which will be offered on a site-by-site basis. This week the business reopened The Rose Inn in Wokingham, its 36th site in total. The group, which acquired the empty site in 2019, reopened the 19th century venue following a “painstaking” £2.1m restoration and redesign. It became the group’s eighth since March 2020. King said: “We are very proud of what we’ve created in Wokingham’s town centre and encouraged by the feedback we’ve received so far.” The new pub and restaurant can accommodate up to 185 guests across a range of settings. The ground floor can cater for 120, while its vaulted first floor has been transformed into a new lounge named The Oakroom linking the Oakman Group’s name and the town’s old name Oakingham. This will also be available for private events.
 
Oakman Group features in Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which is updated monthly for Premium subscribers. Oakman Group has turned over an average of £19.3m in the past five years. The Blue Book, which is produced in association with Mapal Group, provides a five-year overview of turnover and profit, ranks 427 companies according to turnover, pre-tax profit and profit conversion. It also provides details of directors’ earnings and highest paid directors. Companies can now have an unlimited number of people receive access to Propel Premium for a year for £895 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or a supplier. The regular single subscription rate of £395 plus VAT for operators and £495 plus VAT for suppliers remains the same. Email jo.charity@propelinfo.com to sign up.

Center Parc CrawleyCenter Parcs, which offers 4,300 units of accommodation across five sites in the UK, has said bookings remain “strong” for the remainder of its current financial year, which ends in April 2022. The company has secured £189.9m from its parent company Brookfield to strengthen its balance sheet since the start of the pandemic with a further £40m available, if required. Brookfield has also indicated additional funding could be made available should the need arise and Center Parcs has a £90m committed liquidity facility that remains undrawn. Center Parcs provided the update as it reported turnover was down to £122.2m for the year ending 22 April 2021, compared with £443.7m the year before as a result of sites being closed for extensive periods due to lockdown. Adjusted Ebitda was a loss of £11.9m, compared with a profit of £200m the year before. Pre-tax losses after adjusted items were £157.1m, compared with a profit of £43m the year before. The occupancy rate for the period was 22.4% against 88% the previous year. During the period, the group incurred exceptional/non-underlying administrative costs of £2.2m. In July, Center Parcs revealed plans for a £400m holiday park in West Sussex (pictured). The company has secured an option agreement to acquire privately owned woodland at Oldhouse Warren in Worth, near Crawley.

Cirrus Inns, which owns 19 freehold pubs and five long leaseholds, has extended its £8.5m loan facility with Metro Bank until April next year to help support its recovery from the pandemic. The company also secured shareholder loans of £4.6m last year and £1.6m of that remains available to the business should the need arise. Since reopening for outdoor trading in April this year, the company said early indications are trade has “beaten our expectations and we are confident our strategic review has significantly strengthened our operating model to deliver an improved performance going forward”. The changes include reducing trading days in certain pubs, restructuring the cost base at the pubs and head office and consolidating its supplier base to improve food and beverage margins. The group has also invested in gardens and created additional covers to maximise trade in pubs with outdoor space. Cirrus Inns provided the update as it reported turnover fell 32% to £16.0m for the year ending 30 June 2020, compared with £23.8m the previous year. The company said this was a result of the significant impact on the final quarter when all its pubs were shut, with the similar period the previous year contributing almost 30% of annual turnover. The loss of trade was partially offset by the government support package, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (£1.7m), cash grants (£145,000) and the business rates holiday. Pre-tax losses increased to £5.8m from £4.3m the previous year.

Dessert parlour operator Creams has signed its first international franchise partner with Cairo-based Mori International, to open 22 stores over the next five years in Egypt. Creating about 500 jobs for the country, the openings will include full-size stores and kiosk formats. Mori International, an established multi-brand hospitality business, will open the first Creams in December in Cairo’s Garden 8 shopping mall, located in the Fifth Settlement district. The restaurant will span 3,000 square foot, accommodating 120 covers. The menu will offer all of Creams’ signature serves, from sundaes and waffles to cookie dough desserts and milkshakes, while incorporating local flavours and toppings. Creams founder and chief executive Adam Mani said: “I’m proud to announce the first stage of our plans to expand Creams internationally. We are delighted to have found a like-minded, seasoned multi-site operator such as Mori International, to grow the brand in Egypt.” Hossam Fahmy, founder and chief executive of Mori International, added: “This partnership extends the diversity of Mori International’s brand offering as well as fortifying our position as the leading casual dining group in Egypt.” Creams’ expansion into Egypt is the first of several international agreements in the pipeline, with plans to take the brand, which has 100 sites in the UK, around the globe.

Andy Naylor, chief financial officer at Tortilla, has said having the headroom to offset delivery commission costs is going to define restaurant businesses that do well over the next five to ten years. Speaking as part of an investor presentation for the recently listed business, Naylor also said the group’s delivery sales had remained strong even after more competitors had reopened over the summer. He said: “Our customers stuck with us and our sales have gone through some phenomenal growth over the summer, well above pre-pandemic levels. Everyone was a little bit surprised that when dining in was allowed again, delivery sales didn’t drop away that much. I think everyone in the industry was expecting delivery customers to switch back, and that has happened a little bit, but that channel does look like it is permanently higher now. Before we were predominantly a lunchtime business but what delivery has done is rather than cannibalise our key daypart like it may have done for casual dining businesses, it has helped grow a daypart that was a bit quieter. Secondly, and more importantly certainly from a financial point of view, is that we deliver a similar level of profit on our delivered transactions, because our price point is so keen in-store we have that headroom to offset the commission costs. I think that is going to define restaurant businesses that do well over the next five to ten years because you need to be making the same amount of money on these different channels so you have got the ability to push them all with equal prominence.” The business reported like-for-like sales growth for the year to date of 22.4% versus the same period in 2019, with like-for-like sales in August up by 34%. Propel understands Tortilla launched a trial site with Middlesex University last month, which may lead to further campus-based openings. Meanwhile, Tortilla said it was looking to grow its partnership with SSP further, after reporting that trading was going well at its sites in Euston station, Gatwick and Leeds Skelton Lakes services. Naylor said: “SSP is looking to rationalise the brands it works with and we have outperformed its expectations in the sites that we have opened. Its Mi Casa at Euston was doing about £8,000 a week before we took it over and we are now doing £22,000 to £23,000 a week there.”

Tiny Rebel's £2.6m brewerySouth Wales-based brewer Tiny Rebel has appointed Paul Alexander, formerly of Loungers, as managing director of its bars business, Propel has learned. Earlier this year, Alexander left Loungers after more than 11 years with the listed-owner of the Lounge and Cosy Club brands. Alexander spent the past four years as operations director of Cosy Club. He joins the Brad Cummings-founded Tiny Rebel as it looks to add to its bar estate. It opened its first bar in Cardiff in 2013, and has since added two bars in Newport, including one at its brewery. Cummings said: “Paul brings stand-out experience in driving growth through building an impressive portfolio of bars in his previous role as operations director at Loungers. In this role Paul’s primary focus will be growing our UK bar division. When others are doubting the resilience of the hospitality sector, we’re going to do what we do best…rebel and disrupt.”

ETM Group co-founder Ed MartinETM Group, which operates 13 premium bars, pubs and restaurants in central London, and Maven Leisure, the new venture from ETM Group’s co-founder Ed Martin (pictured), chief financial officer Landen Prescott Brann and non-executive chairman Graham Turner, have appointed George Copeman as property director. Copeman has taken on the newly created role for both ventures following the successful £4.3m fundraise by Maven Leisure as it looks to open at least seven premium bars in central London. Copeman, who founded leisure property consultancy GC2 Property in 2010, has acted for ETM since 2015 acquiring sites including premium sports lounges Broadleaf, in the City of London, and Redwood at London Bridge station. Maven Leisure has secured its anchor site, a landmark rooftop location in King William Street in the City of London, on the former House of Fraser department store, which will open in the spring. It will feature an all-day, premium indoor bar and restaurant space, with heated terraces for year-round use with 360-degree views of the London skyline. The venture has further sites in the pipeline and is actively searching for venues for its premium sports bars and premium bars and restaurants divisions. Propel revealed earlier this month Maven Leisure has secured the former Drake & Morgan site, The Allegory in Principal Place, which it will reopen as the Beechwood Sports Pub & Kitchen in November. Copeman said: “This is an exciting time for hospitality, and we are ideally positioned to build on the opportunities this creates.” Martin added: “George knows our business well and has great experience in building and delivering a pipeline of new venues. We have a superb team, funding, and broad range of proven concepts with which to rapidly build the Maven Leisure business in these unprecedented times.”
 
ETM Group features in Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which is updated monthly for Premium subscribers. ETM Group has turned over an average of £23m in the past five years. The Blue Book, which is produced in association with Mapal Group, provides a five-year overview of turnover and profit, ranks 427 companies according to turnover, pre-tax profit and profit conversion. It also provides details of directors’ earnings and highest paid directors. Companies can now have an unlimited number of people receive access to Propel Premium for a year for £895 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or a supplier. The regular single subscription rate of £395 plus VAT for operators and £495 plus VAT for suppliers remains the same. Email jo.charity@propelinfo.com to sign up.

Itsu, the healthy Asian food chain created by Julian Metcalfe, is to further add to its regional presence with an opening in Guildford, Surrey. Propel understands the Bridgepoint-backed business has secured the former French Connection site in the town’s High Street, and will start fitting it out soon. Last week, the business opened its latest company-owned site, in Bath, which followed an opening in St Albans. In September, the brand opened its first restaurant in the Midlands when it launched at Leicester’s Fosse Park Shopping Centre with its second franchisee, Savvi Dining Group. Further openings are expected this year, with work under way at sites in Bromley and Edinburgh, as Itsu pushes to open a further 100 UK restaurants by 2026.

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