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Fri 26th May 2023 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Young’s – London bouncing back strongly with sales exceeding pre-pandemic levels, in talks on five pubs: Simon Dodd, chief executive of Young’s, has told Propel the capital is bouncing back strongly, with like-for-like sales in its central London pubs exceeding pre-covid levels. In central London, sales are up 44% on last year and 5% on pre-pandemic levels. In the City, sales are up 32% on last year, and in east London, they’re up 29.2%. Speaking following the company’s full-year results, where revenue increased 19.4% to £368.9m, Dodd said changes in working patterns had resulted in sales in its London pubs increasing between Tuesdays and Thursdays. He also illustrated how the sunshine makes a huge difference to performance. While group like-for-like sales are up 4.8% in the last seven weeks, the warmer weather led to them being up 10% last week, and Dodd said that is set to be repeated again this week. Dodd said the business remained acquisitive and has a “very strong” balance sheet, and added the business is in talks on five sites – all freehold – across the south of England. “We get a lot of opportunities come across our desk, but because of our selective criteria, we probably only pursue one or two in every ten,” he said. Dodd said Young’s has confidence in all its pubs and continues to invest in its entire estate. “We invested in one of our smaller London pubs, The Porchester in Bayswater, and that’s up 80% on the previous year,” Dodd said. “There will always be one or two that we sell because they no longer fit in with the strategy, but in the main, we are happy with all our sites.” Young’s made its usual annual price increase in March, but Dodd said the business had taken a “cautious approach” to make sure it continued to offer value for money. Drink prices went up on average by 3.8%, with food up 2.5%. The business is not planning any further price increases this year, and with energy costs hedged until the end of 2024 and drink costs fixed until March 2024, Dodd said Young’s is doing what it could to mitigate cost headwinds. He added food inflation had started to come down and expected it to be in single digits in the next six months. He added that because of its good geographical spread, the rail strikes were “not hurting us as much as some operators”. He said: “If customers are not drinking in our City pubs, then they are at our London ‘village’ sites. But like everyone else, we’re hoping for a resolution soon.” Dodd said he was optimistic about 2023, with the summer and the Rugby World Cup in the autumn set to be “exciting” for the company. He added: “Hospitality is a resilient industry. Every time the sector has a setback, it seems to come back stronger.” Young’s features in the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book. Its turnover of £309,000,000 for the year to 28 March 2022 is the 27th highest in the database. Its profit of £42,100,000 is the 12th highest in the database. The Blue Book ranks companies by turnover, profit and profit conversion, listing directors’ earnings for the past five years. Companies can now have an unlimited number of people receive access to Propel Premium for a year for £995 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or a supplier. The single subscription rate is £495 plus VAT for operators and £595 plus VAT for suppliers. Email to upgrade your subscription.

Industry News:

Updated Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies released today, 21 businesses being added: A total of 21 new multi-site companies, operating 144 sites, have been added to the next edition of the Propel Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies, which will be released today (Friday, 26 May), at midday. The updated Propel Multi-Site Database, which is produced in association with Virgate, includes regional restaurant operators, growing café brands, and expanding franchise operators. Premium subscribers will also receive a 1,300-word report on the new additions to the database. The comprehensive database is updated monthly and provides company names, the people in charge, how many sites each firm operates, its trading name and its registered name at Companies House if different. The database now features 2,853 companies. Premium subscribers will also receive the next edition of the New Openings Database on Friday, 2 June, at midday. It focuses on newly announced openings and upcoming launches in the sector and is updated every month. The next edition also includes a 5,000-word report on the new additions to the database. Premium subscribers also receive access to three other databases: the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book; the UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database; and the Who’s Who of UK Food and Beverage. Companies can now have an unlimited number of people receive access to Propel Premium for a year for £995 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or a supplier. The single subscription rate is £495 plus VAT for operators and £595 plus VAT for suppliers. Email to upgrade your subscription. Premium subscribers are also to be given exclusive access to the recording and slides to Propel Multi-Club Conferences. Premium subscribers also receive their morning newsletter 11 hours early, at 7pm the evening before; regular video content and regular exclusive columns from Propel group editor Mark Wingett.
UKHospitality – immigration system not working for businesses: UKHospitality has said the current immigration system is not working for businesses, as it urged the government to “take stock of the labour market”. It comes as net migration increased to a record level of more than 600,000, despite promises from ministers to bring the total below 245,000. Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show overall migration for 2022 was 606,000, which represents a 24% increase on the previous high of 488,000 last year. Total long-term immigration was estimated at about 1.2 million in 2022, and emigration was 557,000, the ONS said. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “If there is one thing evident from the figures, it’s that the immigration system is not working effectively for businesses. Unfortunately, despite the numbers published, there remain significant shortages across hospitality with 132,000 vacancies, 48% above pre-pandemic levels. While there is enormous investment in skills and training, it’s not enough on its own in the short term, and it’s time we had a sensible and pragmatic discussion about immigration. We need to take stock of the current labour market, where we have shortages and what role the immigration system can play in aiding businesses. For example, adding chefs to the shortage occupation list would be a practical measure to plug a gaping hole for businesses and provide a huge boost to the sector. I urge the government to take a twin-track approach to investing in developing our own skills and making best use of the immigration system to plug vital job roles – both of which can drive economic growth.”

Contract caterers’ sales climb 30% year-on-year to continue post-covid revival: Contract caterers’ sales in the first quarter of 2023 finished 30% above the same period in 2022, the latest Contract Catering Tracker from CGA by NIQ and Bidfood shows. The strong quarter extends the sector’s recovery from the covid crisis and reflects consumers’ steady return to workplaces and other locations served by contract caterers. It represents a small improvement on the 27% growth recorded by the tracker in the fourth quarter of 2022. However, the latest year-on-year comparison benefits from a challenging first quarter of 2022, when the Omicron variant kept some consumers away from public spaces. With inflation running above 10%, growth is also more modest in real terms. Karl Chessell, CGA’s director – hospitality operators and food EMEA, said: “Demand for the sector remains high, and we can expect the positive trends to continue through the spring and summer.” Debra Morrell, business development controller for business and industry at Bidfood, added: “Although there are some variations by month and the trend for March looks to be a little down on the months of January and February, the latest quarterly growth versus last year remains encouraging, sitting at 29.6%, which is ahead of the previous quarter which was 26.8%. Businesses are showing strong resilience, agility and resourcefulness when it comes to encouraging footfall and spend at a time when consumers are counting every penny.” UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “We’ve seen incremental decreases in the rate of food and drink inflation, and I hope this continues to ease pressure for contract caterers.”
Visitor levy must be used effectively to stop Scottish tourism becoming ‘uncompetitive’: Any visitor levy introduced in Scotland must be used effectively to stop Scottish tourism becoming “uncompetitive”, UKHospitality has said. Legislation to give local authorities the power to apply a “tourist tax” has been published, and if passed by MSPs, it will give councils the ability to add a tax to overnight accommodation. The City of Edinburgh Council has already proposed a £2-per-night charge being added to the price of any room for the first week of a stay. UKHospitality Scotland executive director Leon Thompson said: “The introduction of the visitor levy will leave hospitality businesses frustrated that yet another cost is being lumped on to a sector already challenged by record costs. With a visitor levy and a significantly higher rate of VAT than the rest of Europe, there is a real danger that we become uncompetitive compared with our neighbours.” Thompson said one positive is the suggestion that revenue raised should be spent boosting destinations and enhancing visitor experiences. “A key consideration must be a targeted strategy on how these funds can be spent effectively to protect and enhance Scotland’s reputation on the world stage,” he added. The Welsh government has already said it is moving ahead with similar plans for Wales. Earlier this week, the town of St Ives in Cornwall said it is considering introducing a tourist tax. This after Manchester became the first UK city to launch a visitor charge, in April.
High taxation ‘squeezing the industry to breaking point’ says Michelin-starred chef: Michelin-starred chef Aktar Islam has said high taxation is “squeezing the industry to breaking point”. The Great British Menu chef, who runs the Michelin-starred Opheem in Birmingham, said his restaurant made a profit of just £320 in the first quarter of 2023. He said other high-profile chefs are “weeks away” from closure due to the government taking what Aktar describes as a “huge slice of the pie”. “From the outside, the general understanding is that if restaurants are busy then they’re very profitable,” he told Birmingham Live. “That isn’t the case, and it’s important for the industry, and for me, to speak out about that. We need people to realise how important hospitality is to the local economy. Speaking about this is the culmination of conversations I’ve had with chefs up and down the country, some of whom are a couple of weeks away from having to close their doors. Some of them are high-profile chefs, people don’t realise how desperate the situation is.” Aktar, who closed his city centre steak restaurant Pulperia in September, added: “The government, as it stands, has an approach where it’s just milking it for as long as it can. It thinks if one business goes, another will come along and fill the space. We’ll end up in a situation where no one wants to come and fill the space, because who wants to get into a business or sector with no return? We employ more people per pound of revenue we generate as an industry…hospitality is just unfairly taxed. Rather than taking a massive slice of the pie and killing the industry, the government could take a fairer slice and keep the industry alive, vibrant and thriving. In the long term, it will be more beneficial. It’s tough to look at an entire industry and see that it’s being squeezed to breaking point. The metrics don’t add up, it doesn’t make sense anymore.”
All Party Parliamentary Group calls for more pub protection: The All Party Parliamentary Group of Pubs (APPG), a cross-party group of MPs working together to promote the interests of pubs, landlords and communities, has called on the government to ensure high street pubs are safeguarded from developers. It has asked the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities select committee to look at the implications of new government proposals for high street rental auctions. The proposals are designed to regenerate the high street by letting councils auction off leases for vacant buildings, including pubs, which can be converted into shops or offices, divided into multiple units or gutted of their bars, cellars and other fittings – all without using the usual planning process. Pubs APPG chair Charlotte Nichols said: “The pub is a beloved feature of so many high streets, and all recent legislation from the government has recognised their unique status at the heart of communities. I believe these proposals are out of line with the kind of support that pubs should be given by policymakers, and I hope the select committee will take time to consider the full implications of high street rental auctions.” Consumer rights group the Campaign for Real Ale has also written to levelling up minister, Dehenna Davison, and asked its 150,000 members to email their MPs to call for pubs to remain protected.
HGEM acquired by Volaris Group: Hospitality guest platform HGEM has been acquired by CaterTrax, a company owned by Canadian software group Volaris. Founded in 2003, HGEM serves more than 5,000 sites across the UK, including from BrewDog, Pret A Manger, Wagamama, Nando’s, Travelodge and Heineken’s Star Pubs & Bars. Under the umbrella of CaterTrax, a provider of catering management software to operators across Canada, HGEM will continue to operate under the direction of managing director Steven Pike. “HGEM has become a well-known and respected brand serving the hospitality industry and our success has been founded on the close partnerships we have developed with clients,” said Pike. “The acquisition provides us with a valuable opportunity to build on this foundation, position us well for the next phase in our mission and help to further grow our client base.” Volaris Group leader Jeff Luchetti added: “HGEM’s market position and mission-critical ethos made it an attractive pairing for Volaris. Expanding and diversifying the Volaris portfolio of food service and hospitality software companies provides even greater opportunities to share market knowledge and best practices, while encouraging talent development across teams.”
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a food and beverage brand that is seeking an experienced people and culture director. A COREcruitment spokesperson said: “This role will focus on the operations as well all head office functions to allow the UK team to provide the best possible quality of service to its customers. You will implement a people and culture strategy, assist with the management of all budgets in line with financial procedures and manage the HR budget economically. You will also ensure the development, maintenance, and review of efficient HR administration systems to cover all aspects of employment so that a quality and compliant service is provided to managers and staff. You will also review, adjust, implement, and manage all aspects of remuneration, bonuses and benefits.” The salary is up to £100,000 and the position is based in London. For more information, email

Company News:

Fireaway lines up Turkey and Spain openings: Fast pizza brand Fireaway, the Mario Aleppo-led business, is gearing up to further increase its international presence with openings in Turkey and Spain. Propel understands that Fireaway is gearing up to make Turkey its next international territory, where a store is under construction in Istanbul and is due to open in September. The business, which has opened circa 145 sites since its launch in south London in 2017, is also under offer on a site in Madrid, Spain, with an opening scheduled for October. Fireaway made its international debut with a site in Amsterdam last spring, while master franchisees have also been signed up in Dubai, India, Canada, Australia, Pakistan, New Zealand and France. This week, the brand will increase its presence in Northern Ireland with an opening in Belfast’s Lisburn Road, as part of the country’s biggest independent halal food court. Last month, the business said it was in investment talks with an unnamed England international footballer. The brand secured investment from six new backers in October last year, and while Aleppo said he does not want to let too big a slice of his operation go, he is once more in discussions. “We’re in talks at the moment with one of the England players who is interested in taking a slice, but I don’t think I’d want to give away too much as I don’t want to risk losing interest,” he told The Ground Floor podcast. “We can raise a little bit, but I think I’d always want to keep 51%.” The company plans to have 170 sites by the end of the year, 200 by the end of next year and 500 within five years. Fireaway features in the Propel UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database, which is an exhaustive guide to the companies offering a food and beverage franchise in the UK and is available exclusively to Premium subscribers. The database is updated every two months and the latest version features 200 businesses. Companies can now have an unlimited number of people receive access to Propel Premium for a year for £995 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or a supplier. The single subscription rate is £495 plus VAT for operators and £595 plus VAT for suppliers. Email to upgrade your subscription.
Oodles Chinese opens in Walsall, ten more locations in pipeline as concept closes in on first overseas sites: Indo-Chinese concept Oodles Chinese has opened in Walsall ahead of a pipeline of ten more UK locations and is closing in on its first overseas sites. The Walsall restaurant, in Unit 1 The Quarter, 44 High Street, is the franchise company’s 36th overall, with several more lined up for the coming months, including a third and fourth site in Birmingham and a ninth in London. “We have opened our 36th Oodles restaurant, in Walsall,” said operations director Simon Robinson. “Yet another of our ten new sites opening within the next few months, and the list continues to grow. Whitechapel, Newcastle, Northampton, Elephant & Castle, Aberdeen, Glasgow and Birmingham (three and four), get ready, we’re coming soon! It won’t be too long until we announce our first overseas locations.”
Pret opens second ‘hub’ kitchen site, Guy Meakin moves to UK shops and franchise director role: Pret A Manger, the JAB Holdings-backed company, has begun the roll out of its fledgling “hub” kitchen format, Propel has learned. First debuted in Hong Kong, Pret has opened a second site under the format, in Dubai, with franchise partner Emirates Leisure Retail. The “hub” kitchen format serves freshly prepared food and organic coffee to delivery customers, while also supplying nearby Pret shops. It is part of Pret’s plans to expand into new markets and bring the brand to more people, by trialling new formats. Pret’s shops in the United Arab Emirates are located at Dubai International airport (in terminals one and three) and in Dubai’s International Financial Centre. A Pret spokesperson told Propel: “Two years ago, we announced our plan to double the size of the business within five years and bring Pret to more people around the world. We’re making good progress against this goal and we’re excited to be expanding our footprint in the United Arab Emirates with our franchise partner, Emirate Leisure Retail. Our ambition is to open 20 shops in the region within the next five years.” Last month, Pret opened its debut site in India, in Maker Maxity, Mumbai. It said it would be the first of many shops set to open under the brand in the country later this year under its partnership with Reliance Brands. A second site in Mumbai, in Phoenix Palladium, opened last week. Meanwhile, Propel understands Guy Meakin, who had been Pret UK’s interim managing director, has moved to a new role as shops and franchise director, with the return of Clare Clough as UK managing director.
Turtle Bay confirms next three openings, including 50th site: Caribbean restaurant brand Turtle Bay, which is backed by Piper, has confirmed its next three openings as part of plans to open six sites this year. Following an opening in Hammersmith in March, the Nick Crossley-led business has confirmed it will open in Blackpool – on the ground floor of The Brook Group-owned newly restored Forshaws Hotel in Talbot Square – next month. It will follow this in August with the opening of its 50th site, in Camden, in the former Fatburger premises in Jamestown Road. A month later it will open in Lincoln, in the city’s Cornhill Quarter. It also has an opening lined up in Chester’s Northgate scheme. Crossley said: “We are excited to continue our expansion of Turtle Bay over the summer months. I frequently receive communication from guests asking for Turtle Bay to open in their city. We have a strong pipeline for the rest of 2023 and beyond, and we look forward to bringing our Caribbean good times to new towns and cities across the country.” At the end of last year, Crossley told Propel he sees a runway of 120-plus UK openings for the brand.
Over Under makes international debut with Saudi Arabia launch: Over Under, the coffee brand founded by Ed Barry in 2017 and owned by US chain Blank Street Coffee, has made its international debut, in Saudi Arabia. The business, which operates four sites under its eponymous brand in London, has opened a site in Via Riyadh, the new luxury shopping and entertainment that opened earlier this month. Last October, Blank Street Coffee, which made its UK debut last July, boosted its presence in the capital after acquiring Over Under. The deal saw Blank Street take on Over Under’s eight sites across London, and it has so far rebranded four of the sites to Blank Street. Over Under will be joined at Via Riyadh next month by JKS Restaurants’ Michelin-starred Indian restaurant Gymkhana concept. Both are opening under a joint venture with the Middle East-based hospitality group Cool. The original Gymkhana site opened in London’s Mayfair in 2013. The Richard Caring-backed Caprice Holdings is also set to open two restaurants at Via Riyadh under its Sexy Fish and Scott’s brands.
Pho set to open in Milton Keynes: Trispan-backed Vietnamese street food group Pho is set to open in Milton Keynes. The 4,133 square-foot restaurant in centre:mk will seat around 100 customers, offering healthy Vietnamese food prepared from scratch each day. Dishes include, phở noodle soup, aromatic curries, rice bowls and wok-fried rice and noodles, plus light salads and homemade spring rolls with peanut sauce for dipping. The menu will also feature freshly prepared juices, homemade lemonade with a spicy twist and Vietnamese coffee and beers. Stephen Wall, co-founder at Pho, said: “We’re really happy to be opening in Milton Keynes as we’ve been looking for the right opportunity for some time, and this location in centre:mk couldn’t be better. We can’t wait to open our doors and showcase the brilliant food of Vietnam.” The signing follows a strong first half of the year for centre:mk, with total sales and footfall across the destination up by 5.7% and 10.7%, with April footfall up 11.2% versus 2022. MMX Retail and CBRE acted for centre:mk. 
Masala Zone to open in historic Criterion site: MW Eat — owner of Michelin-starred Amaya, Chutney Mary and Veeraswamy – is to open a further restaurant under its Masala Zone brand in London, in the former Criterion site in Piccadilly. The 150-cover restaurant, which will open next month, will initially open for lunch and dinner, but will soon also offer afternoon tea, followed shortly by breakfast. The restaurant, the group’s seventh, will also offer private dining in the form of the 32-cover “The Leopard Room”. Ranjit Mathrani, chairman of MW Eat, said: “We are delighted to be adding Masala Zone Piccadilly Circus to the MW Eat portfolio. To be opening in such a central location is exciting, and we look forward to welcoming customers to enjoy the wealth of tastes India offers.” The business also operates Masala Zone sites in Covent Garden, Soho and Earl’s Court.
Dorchester Best Western goes on market: The Best Western Wessex Royale Hotel in Dorchester, Dorset, has been put on the market. The Georgian grade II-listed property, which has been extensively renovated in recent years, is being marketed by Christie & Co. The hotel offers 29 en-suite guest bedrooms, a dining room and lounge bar that seats up to 64 guests, and a function room with 70 covers. The current owner has independently owned and run the hotel since 2002 is selling up to focus on other business ventures. Stephen Champion, director in Christie & Co’s hotels team, said: “The Wessex Royale has an established reputation, appealing to both leisure and business guests due to its town centre location and proximity to Dorset’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. There is significant scope for a new operator to grow the business and we expect interest to come from a wide range of buyers.”
North Wales holiday resort sees turnover exceed pre-pandemic levels but profits fall, pays back £797,000 in bank loans and spends £1.6m on improvements: North Wales holiday resort Portmeirion saw turnover increase but profits fall in the year ending 31 January 2023. Revenue grew by 13% from £9,901,474 in 2022 to £11,220,419. This compares with £9,210,961 in the last full year before the pandemic, ending 31 January 2020. Wages increased by £559,620, resulting in a pre-tax profit of £308,693, down from £1,543,635 in 2022 (2020: £344,504). It received £29,449 in government grants compared with £828,314 in 2022. At the year-end, the financial position of the company “remained strong”, with net assets of £4.7m (2022: £4.4m). It spent £1.6m on improvements to facilities during the year and paid back bank loans of £797,000 from cash flow.
Future of Liverpool hotel remains uncertain as building control sign-off delays sale process: The future of The Shankly Hotel in Liverpool remains uncertain two years after it was put up for sale. The hotel, which was previously run by aparthotel operator and developer Signature Living, was placed on the market in May 2021 after the company behind it fell into administration. In new documents filed at Companies House, Kroll, which is handling the administration, said: “There were several interested parties that were in an advanced phase of the bidding process with the agents in the latter part of 2021, and the joint administrators entered a period of exclusivity with one interested party who put forward the best offer. The interested party withdraw their interest, and therefore the hotel will be brought back to market as soon as possible. The hotel has not yet secured the required building control sign-off for the development works that have been completed on the hotel.” Further work is currently being undertaken to secure the sign-off, with the hotel continuing to trade in the4 meantime. “The marketing of the hotel will recommence once building control sign off has been obtained, although discussions are ongoing with a number of parties interested in purchasing the hotel,” Kroll added. “The lack of building control was a stumbling block to progress potential buyers’ interests and was being used as a reason to deflate the price buyers were prepared to pay.”
The Depot completes move to bigger space in Cardiff: Cardiff independent warehouse events venue The Depot has completed its move to a bigger space. Eight years since its creation – and just over three years after it was last relocated – The Depot has moved to a new 30,000 square-foot venue in Curran Road. With the move and refurbishment costing more than £500,000 in total, The Depot now has a total capacity of 2,500, up from 1,600 at the previous venue. The new site includes three permanent street-food kitchens based inside shipping containers, as well as a second, smaller room for putting on more intimate shows and events. Nick Saunders, founder and managing director of The Depot, said: “It has been a mammoth task and a huge amount of work for us to get our new venue ready to move in, while also continuing to deliver our schedule of events without causing any interruptions for our customers – but we did it. We’re excited to have more space to put on even bigger and better events in 2023 and beyond.”
London property investment firm expands hotel portfolio with new boutique concept in Bromley: London property investment firm Castleforge will expand its hotel portfolio when it opens a new boutique concept in Bromley next week. Brama, which will open on Monday (29 May), is part of the major £20m renovation of Bromley Old Town Hall, which had lay empty since 2007. The hotel is housed within a two-storey roof extension at the grade II-listed building, which first opened in 1907. Brama joins a 62,000 square-foot flexible workspace by Clockwise – including a members’ lounge, café and terrace – and all-day restaurant Dorothy and Marshall at the new multi-use destination. Castleforge made its first investments in the hospitality sector in 2021 when it acquired the Best Western Plus Bruntsfield Hotel in Edinburgh and the Hilton hotel in Cardiff. As previously reported, Dorothy and Marshall, which will be based in the building’s courtyard, will be Castleforge’s first restaurant.
Tommy Banks opens new North Yorkshire pub with rooms: Michelin-starred chef Tommy Banks has opened his new pub with rooms, the 19th century Abbey Inn, in Oldstead, North Yorkshire. The grade II-listed 70-cover pub is located just down the road from the family’s Michelin-starred restaurant, The Black Swan, and has been refurbished by the Banks family, preserving and highlighting its original features. “Washing pots in this building was one of my very first jobs when I was a kid, so to now open my own pub in it is a dream,” Banks said. “One of my main goals in opening a third place is to continue my mission for championing hyper-local, sustainable produce. We’ve been rearing our own cattle, sheep and pigs for a while now, and The Abbey Inn allows us to get one stop further in our journey to complete carcass balance and true nose-to-tail dining.” Head chef Charlie Smith oversees a menu featuring the likes of the Byland burger, with a patty made up of Dexter chuck brisket and short rib, and halibut cooked over charcoal with Charlotte potatoes, yoghurt whey and chamomile sauce. There is also a 30-bin wine list, showcasing producers from lesser-known regions, and cocktails highlighting produce grown or foraged in and around Oldstead. Banks also operates Roots in York as well as Made in Oldstead, a premium nationwide food box delivery and events service.
Project D eyes bigger target as crowdfunding beats expectations: Doughnut brand Project D is set to raise the ceiling on its crowdfunding campaign after attracting five times its prospective investment target in just two weeks. The business launched a £400,000 crowdfunding campaign at the beginning of May in an effort to inject cash to speed up its expansion. On the first day of launch alone, the pre-registration figure totalled more than £500,000. Within two weeks of launching on Crowdcube, Project D received expressions of interest amounting to more than £2m, in addition to the £150,000 lead investment generated prior to the launch. Max Poynton, co-founder and marketing director for Project D, told Insider Media: “Given the level of interest, we will probably now look to overfund our original investment target. It’s unbelievable how many individuals want to be a part of our company. I’m blown away by the numbers our crowdfund registration campaign has generated so far.” The business was founded by three former school friends – Poynton, Matthew Bond and Jacob Watts – in 2018, selling thousands of homemade doughnuts weekly via pop-up events and at shopping centre kiosks. It now employs more than 120 staff and produces more than 50,000 doughnuts each week at its 11,000 square-foot bakery in Spondon. It is now gearing up to open its first bricks and mortar location, in Sheffield’s Meadowhall shopping centre, which will be swiftly followed by two more openings.

Team behind Officina 00 launches cook-at-home pasta kits: The team behind London pasta workshop and restaurant concept Officina 00 has introduced a range of cook-at-home Neapolitan pasta kits. The business – which was founded by Elia Sebregondi, former Bone Daddies head chef and sous chef at Kiln, and Enzo Mirto, ex-general manager of Mexican restaurant Ella Canta – has launched Casa 00, a no-subscription service with a seasonally-changing menu, highlighting the best of Italian and British ingredients. Offering a selection of three courses, dishes include freshly baked sourdough bread with whipped truffle parmigiana butter and panko lasagna for starters; tagliatelle with wild mushrooms, homemade pork sausage and parsley for mains; and a twist on traditional tiramisu with orange zest and Cointreau for dessert. Customers will also receive in-depth videos explaining the inspiration and origins of each dish, along with step-by-step cooking and presentation instructions. Officina 00 launched in London’s Old Street in 2019, followed by a second site, in Fitzrovia, last year.

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