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Mon 23rd Oct 2017 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

BrewDog’s Equity for Punks V raises £1m in two days: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has said its latest crowdfunding scheme, Equity for Punks V, raised more than £1m in the first two days. The fifth round of Equity for Punks is looking to raise £10m, with the potential to extend to £50m, by releasing 421,052 new B shares. BrewDog will use the investment to further its global expansion, including constructing breweries in Australia and Asia, opening 15 craft beer bars in the UK, increasing capacity at its UK brewery, and creating a dedicated craft beer television network. The initiative will run for an initial three months, closing on 15 January. Shares will cost £23.75 each and be issued in blocks of two, with a minimum investment of two shares for £47.50. BrewDog stated in its blog: “We have smashed through the £1m mark already! Within two days of Equity for Punks V breaking cover, we have also added more than 2,000 beer-obsessed men and women to our ever-growing community. Equity Punks are the heart and soul of BrewDog and we are proud to be an alternative company owned by more than 55,000 people who love craft beer every bit as much as we do. Every penny of the amount raised in Equity for Punks V will be reinvested in our business to help grow BrewDog for those who have become shareholders.” BrewDog has seen its value increase by 2,765% since 2010 – it now has an 800-strong global team, 47 bars, and two breweries. Much of its growth has been supported by Equity for Punks, which has raised £41m since 2009. Earlier this year, BrewDog sold a 22% stake to US private equity firm TSG Consumer Partners for £213m, giving BrewDog an enterprise value of £1bn.

Industry News:

Intu trials queue-jumping technology and robotic retail assistants with foodservice operators: Queue-jumping technology and robotic retail assistants have been unveiled at Intu shopping centres to test shoppers and retailers’ reactions. Intu is working with WoraPay to trial queue-jumping technology at Intu Trafford Centre in Greater Manchester in partnership with several of the shopping centre’s cafes and coffee shops including healthy eating brand Leon and milkshake and desserts concept Shake Lab. It allows customers to order and pay for food and drink on their phone as they shop and then collect them when they are ready, bypassing any queues. Meanwhile, Bo, Europe’s first shopping centre robot, interacted with shoppers at Intu Milton Keynes over the weekend, directing them to different parts of the centre and collecting feedback about their shopping experience. It also told them about special offers they could take up at Starbucks and Pret A Manger to test the potential of the technology to drive shoppers to stores and other locations. Robot specialist BotsandUs, the brains behind the one-metre-high “shop-bot”, is one of seven startup businesses collaborating with Intu to test new retail technology at its shopping centres across the UK and online. The robots have been used in the hospitality sector before but this was the first time the company has run a shopping centre trial. The innovations are being trialled as part of Intu Accelerate, a ten-week startup incubator being run by Intu to develop new technologies for UK retail. Intu chief executive David Fischel said: “Retail has always been an inventive industry and the UK has remained at the forefront of this. We’ve launched Intu Accelerate to drive forward innovative technology that will entertain and engage shoppers and help businesses to flourish. It’s giving talented new businesses such as BotsandUs and WoraPay the opportunity to trial their ideas within live environments and test their potential to shape the future of retail.”

Second-cheapest bottle of wine on restaurant menu has average markup price of 208%: The second-cheapest bottle of wine on a restaurant menu has an average markup price of 208%, according to a new survey. A study of wine prices by consumer group Which? also found the pricey end of the wine list offered better value for money because the most expensive bottles have the smallest markup, with the lowest found being 25%. The average markup across the wine lists of 15 of the UK’s most recognised restaurant chains and fine dining venues was 167%. The greatest single markup found was 367%, with a restaurant in Chelsea selling a bottle for £33 that could be bought at a wine merchant for £7.06. It did not name the restaurant, reports The Times. The Which? report said: “We found a 208% markup on average on the second-cheapest wine – an option restaurants know many of us tend to pick. So, for instance, a bottle that costs £10 in a shop would be about £31 in the restaurant. On average, fizz has the smallest markup and red wine has the largest – so go ahead and order that bottle of bubbly.”

New £45m Stockport leisure development to open next month: A new £45m leisure development in Stockport town centre featuring restaurants and a multi-screen cinema will open next month. The Redrock scheme will launch on Friday, 24 November following two years of construction. The ten-screen Light Cinema as well as Azzurri Group-owned Zizzi and PizzaExpress will open that day with Gourmet Burger Kitchen and Newcastle-based coffee shop Mangobean following shortly after. Stockport Council executive member for economy and regeneration Cllr Kate Butler told the Manchester Evening News: “It is a significant development and is going to bring a huge amount of new people into the town centre. If you look at Redrock, not in isolation, but in terms of everything else going on in the town centre, then it is a massive piece of a jigsaw that is all coming together. It is about exploiting the potential of Stockport, it is what we have needed for some time. It is a really good reason to come into the town centre in the day but also, crucially, the early evening.”

Company News:

Two freehold restaurants let to Prezzo sell at auction: The freehold of two restaurants let to Prezzo have each been sold at an Allsop auction. A site in Queens Road, Buckhurst Hill, was sold for £1,670,000. Prezzo holds a lease expiring in 2045 with no breaks, paying £65,000 per annum rent and annual Retail Price Index reviews, which represented a 3.89% gross initial yield for the buyer. Meanwhile, a freehold site in Fore Street, Hertford, was sold for £1,450,000. Prezzo holds a lease until 2022, paying a rent of £53,750 per annum, representing a gross initial yield of 3.67% for the buyer. Allsop raised a total of £148.5m from 220 lots at the auction. A total of 40 lots sold for more than £1m. George Walker, partner and auctioneer, said: “There was tremendous depth of demand in the room from both UK and overseas investors across all sectors. Demand for long income was strong, resulting in some impressive prices being achieved such as for a Prezzo in Buckhurst Hill let until 2045. Investor demand for covenant strength and location was also very clear with the sale of a short letting to Prezzo in Hertford, which sold for 3.5%, reflecting a price of £1.45m. The auction room clearly has access to a wide range of private investors.”

Carluccio’s launches apprenticeship programme: Carluccio’s has teamed up with HIT Training to launch an apprenticeship programme across its restaurants in England. The training programme, which will support more than 80 apprentices each year, will develop and train staff to equip them with the skills to carve out a long-standing career in hospitality. The course consists of 80% learning on the job and 20% online work and participation in specialist masterclasses. The training has been designed to fit the culture, demands and requirements of being a Carluccio’s team member. With the support of HIT, the restaurant chain is offering staff the choice of three, year-long apprenticeships covering hospitality team member food production (level 2); hospitality team member food and beverage service (level 2) and hospitality supervisor (level 3). Carluccio’s training consultant Suzie Brown said: “We understand that to get the best from our team we need to support them to develop the skills they need to build a career that is right for them. By launching our apprenticeship programme with HIT Training, we want to create as many opportunities as possible to keep our talented team with us and in the hospitality sector as a whole.” HIT Training managing director Jill Whittaker added: “Bespoke, high-quality training plans such as this are a fantastic way to aid recruitment and retention – a challenge businesses across the sector face daily.”

Peel Entertainment Group invests £2.2m in first restaurant opening: Skipton-based company The Peel Entertainment Group, which provides entertainment on cruise ships, has invested £2.2m in the opening of the 790 square metre Alexander’s European Bar & restaurant in the high street – its first restaurant venture. Peel has a 23-year history in entertainment and is in the business of creating “memorable experiences for audiences across the globe” with a client list that includes Thomson Cruises, Carnival, Crystal, Fred Olsen, SAGA, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Disney, Cunard and P&O. The Peel Entertainment Group owner and managing director Susannah Daley said: “I am thrilled we have finally found the perfect venue to produce an amazing customer experience on land that mirrors the exceptional standard of work we have been producing at sea for years. This is a real boost for Skipton – a five-star quality experience but with a relaxed, informal and welcoming feel.” Based in Skipton since 2002, Peel, which employs more than 40 people in the town and more than 300 on cruise ships and various other worldwide locations, said the new bar and restaurant would create 37 full and part-time jobs in the local area.

Wagamama pulls out of plans to open restaurant in Chelmsford: Wagamama has pulled out of plans to open a restaurant in Chelmsford, Essex. The company was one of three brands set to come to the city as part of a redevelopment of the Argos site in Springfield Road. The planning application showed the unit in Chelmsford city centre could be converted into three separate restaurants that would be home to Wagamama, Gourmet Burger Kitchen and Loungers brand Cosy Club. Under the plans, which have been approved by the city council, Cosy Club would occupy the first floor with Wagamama and Gourmet Burger Kitchen downstairs. However, a Wagamama spokesman told Propel it would now not open the site although it was looking to open a restaurant in the area next year. Schroder UK Real Estate Fund, the company managing the development project, said it was still in talks with Argos about providing the space and hoped work would start on the project in late 2017.

Greggs pledges more vegetables in its food: UK food-on-the-go retailer Greggs is preparing to help its customers enjoy an extra 15 million portions of vegetables by 2020 by reformulating its freshly prepared soups and salads. The company will make a “Pledge for Veg” at this week’s Vegetable Summit, organised by food think tank the Food Foundation. Greggs will tell the summit 100% of its soup and leaf-based salads will provide at least one portion of vegetables from January. It is also committing to growing the like-for-like volume of these ranges each year between January and October 2020. It will also pledge 50% of its cold sandwich range will provide half a portion of vegetables by next January. In total, Greggs said this would mean at least 15 million portions of extra vegetables were consumed by its customers. In 2014, Greggs launched its Balanced Choice range, offering customers a choice of wraps, sandwiches, salads, soups, porridge, fruit, yoghurt and drinks, which are all fewer than 400 calories and meet amber and green on the Department of Health traffic light system for fat, saturated fat, salt and sugar. Greggs commercial director Malcolm Copland said: “Currently more than 10% of our sales come from our Balanced Choice range, which highlights there is growing demand from our customers. We’re pleased to be making a ‘Pledge for Veg’ at the Vegetable Summit and will be looking at ways to increase the use of vegetables and salad in even more new products in the future.”
 
Tommi’s Burger Joint to open Oxford restaurant this week, first UK site outside London: Icelandic brand Tommi’s Burger Joint is to open a restaurant in Oxford on Tuesday (24 October) for its first UK site outside London. The restaurant will launch in the £440m Westgate Shopping Centre redevelopment, offering Tommi’s classic burger menu alongside fries, homemade sauces and draught beer, the only venue inside the new food court to do so. Diners will be able to sit around the centrepiece American gas grill to watch food being prepared. A Tommi’s Burger Joint spokesperson said: “When the opportunity to open in Westgate came we were really excited because of the location and quality of the whole project. Oxford is a quintessential English city steeped in history and heritage. We thought it would be the ideal location for the next Tommi’s Burger Joint with its bustling city centre and strong student presence.” Tommi’s Burger Joint was launched in Iceland in 1981 by Tomas Tómasson, who brought the brand to the UK in August 2012, opening as a pop-up before permanent sites launched in Marylebone, Chelsea and Soho. There are also Tommi’s Burger Joints in Berlin and Copenhagen. In August, Tommi’s said it was looking to bring its food truck over from Germany to try out new locations before taking permanent sites in UK towns and cities.

Vegan artisan food stall launches £150,000 crowdfunding campaign to open permanent site in central London: Vegan artisan food stall Pomodoro e Basilico has launched a £150,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to open London’s first Italian, vegan deli-bistro. The concept, founded by self-taught vegan chef Sara Mittersteiner, is offering a 20% equity stake in return for the investment. The pitch states: “At the heart of our business is a popular vegan deli-bistro, born with the aim to fill a gap in the market for great, Italian-inspired, vegan delis. It’s now time to open our first fixed premises in the heart of London. Previously trading as a sole trader, Pomodoro e Basilico has demonstrated multiple revenue streams including market stall sales, supper clubs, cooking classes and events, online and wholesale orders, festivals (UK and US) and recipe development. Now a limited company, the addition of a bricks-and-mortar location will provide the opportunity for in-shop sales of food, in house events and office catering and expansion of our popular online and wholesale revenue streams. This investment will be used to secure a location in central London, including refitting costs, salaries, marketing, equipment, furnishings, insurance, accounting services and six months’ working capital. We have a four to six-year exit strategy and anticipate investors could make a return on investment via share repurchase in future funding rounds or in secondary markets and/or mergers and acquisitions or friendly sale.”

Ormsborough to open fourth Potting Shed, in Guiseley in December: Concept bar specialists Ormsborough will open its fourth Potting Shed site, in Guiseley, in December. The company is making a multimillion-pound investment converting the former HSBC bank in Oxford Road into its latest venue, which is due to launch on Thursday, 7 December, creating more than 40 jobs. The garden-themed pub specialises in craft beers, cocktails and artisan spirits, and fresh homemade food. All the bars have a distinctive, quirky outdoors design with a row of trademark brightly-coloured wooden sheds in the gardens for private bench seating, hanging baskets and an indoor lawned area. Ormsborough is being backed by industry investor Downing, which has already invested more than £8m into the business. Ormsborough director Allan Harper said: “We take a lot of care in finding all of our sites and a landmark building like this fits perfectly with our brand and gives us a great opportunity. Potting Shed bars don’t only focus on the quality of the food and drink served, and on our unique design elements, they also become very much a part of the community they’re in, so we look forward to being able to do that in Guiseley.” The company’s other Potting Shed sites are in Bingley, Beverley and Northallerton.

Liverpool-based Pub Investment Group opens 1980 and 1990s-style bar and club for 11th site: Liverpool-based Pub Invest Group has opened a new 1980s and 1990s-style bar and club for its 11th site in the city. The company has launched Rewind in Mathew Street beneath Legends Sports Bar. The bar features vaulted ceilings covered in Smash Hits magazine covers, and exposed brick walls. The faces on the covers include names such as Bros, Jon Bon Jovi, Michael Jackson and Frankie Goes to Hollywood. Big screen televisions play classic movies including ET, Top Gun and The Goonies while music features artists such as Dire Straits, Wham and Duran Duran. There are also smoke machines, neon lights and lasers, reports the Liverpool Echo. Pub Invest Group’s other venues are McCooley’s, Soho, Level, Brooklyn Mixer, Peacock, Fusion, Blind Tiger, Smokey Moe’s and Rubber Soul.

Krispy Kreme secures site for Irish debut: Krispy Kreme has secured a site to make its debut in Ireland. The company has agreed a deal to open an outlet at the Blanchardstown Centre in Dublin. It has been more than a year since agents for Krispy Kreme announced it was scouting for locations in the country, reports Independent ie. Last year, Krispy Kreme UK abandoned its planned £200m London flotation in favour of a sale to its US parent. Krispy Kreme has more than 100 sites in the UK having reached the landmark with an opening in Nottingham in August. In its latest accounts, Krispy Kreme reported sales in the UK rose to £66,689,000 in the 11 months to 1 January 2017, up 8% on 12 months ago. Adjusted Ebitda was £14,620,000 (21.9% of sales) compared with £13,688,000 (22.2% of sales) the previous year. Pre-tax profit was £10,292,000, compared with £11,759,000 the year before.
 
Staffordshire-based artisan coffee shop and bar to open second site, plans 30 venues in next five years: Staffordshire-based artisan coffee shop and bar concept Bear will open its second site in December, this time in Derby, and has revealed plans for 30 sites in the next five years. Craig Bunting and Michael Thorley launched the concept in Uttoxeter in January last year. Now they are opening a site in Derby’s Cathedral Quarter on Friday, 1 December. As well as coffee, the venue will also serve cocktails, craft beers and wines. Bunting told The Business Desk: “Our vision is to combine better coffee during the day with an alternative bar experience in the evenings – served by skilled, passionate staff. We have worked hard to ensure Bear is part of a growing movement that breaks the mould and offers a unique and addictive vibe.” The company said it was working to expand first throughout the Midlands, and then beyond, with hopes to open 30 sites nationwide over the next five years.

Arc Inspirations to open seventh Banyan site next month at former Wildwood venue in Ilkley: Arc Inspirations is to open a site for its rapidly expanding flagship brand Banyan Bar & Kitchen next month at a site that formerly housed Tasty brand Wildwood in Ilkley, West Yorkshire. The 5,000 square foot site will feature a new bar and restaurant over two floors, creating 35 jobs. The venue will be the seventh Banyan Bar & Kitchen in the north of England. The company said the deal to acquire the site’s lease in August was signed following a record-breaking three-day exchange. Arc Inspirations chief executive Martin Wolstencroft said at the time: “I’m proud to have exchanged on this venue in fewer than three days – that’s a record for us. The results we’ve seen in the past 12 months truly demonstrate our vision of ‘nobody does it better’ and I’m looking forward to an even more successful 2018 for Arc Inspirations with more openings planned.” Founded in 1999, the company operates 16 bars and restaurants across seven brands grouped into five core markets – student suburban bars, aspirational neighbourhood venues, American bars, high-street retail, and late-night experience.

Nottinghamshire-based fledgling pub group opens first site and hopes to develop a model for future ventures: Nottinghamshire-based fledgling pub group Secret Pub Company has opened its first site and hopes to develop a model for future ventures. The company has relaunched The Railway in the village of Lowdham. Secret Pub Company is run by chef Mark Osborne and David Hage, who worked together at The Riverbank in Nottingham before it was sold to Brewhouse & Kitchen last year. The pub has been refurbished to reflect the name with period leather suitcases supporting the backs of diners’ benches and prints from the railway poster era include one of Robin Hood pinging an arrow across a Sherwood Forest glade and encouraging travellers to catch a train to Nottinghamshire. The seasonal menu will change monthly with main courses including confit Cready Calver duck leg and braised beef cheek in beer with creamed potatoes, caramelised carrots and char-grilled hispi cabbage. Osborne told the Nottingham Post: “I’ve always liked simple food and I don’t mess around with it. That means good brasserie-style food with three or four ingredients.”

Smoking Goat to start expansion this week with Shoreditch opening: London-based Thai barbecue restaurant Smoking Goat is to start expansion by opening its second site, in Shoreditch, on Friday (27 October). The restaurant will launch in Redchurch Street at the former White Horse pub. Ali Borer is moving from Smoking Goat’s other site in Denmark Street, Soho, to head the kitchen and become co-owner alongside Ben Chapman and Brian Hannon. The restaurant will seat about 100 and feature an open kitchen and bar with some counter seating through the centre of the building and canteen-like large tables elsewhere. It will have a short barbecue and seafood menu including tom yam nam sai with other dishes featuring prawns, velvet crab and wild mussels. There will be three or four white and red wines on a daily changing list all by the glass. There will also be a range of beers focusing on pale ale, reports Hot Dinners. Chapman and Hannon also operate side-of-the-road restaurant Kiln in Soho.

El Mexicana to open first of two Norwich sites next month for new casual dining concept: Mexican burrito specialist El Mexicana is to open the first of two sites in Norwich next month for its new Cocina concept. The restaurant will launch at The Terrace in Castle Mall, on Wednesday, 1 November focusing on Mexican food and margaritas. Cocina is a sister concept aimed at the casual dining sector and El Mexicana, which operates 21 stores across the UK, is set to launch a second Cocina store in Norwich as well as others in Hatfield, Milton Keynes and Swansea. Cocina’s menu features a variety of twists on classic Mexican dishes such as tacos and burritos as well as burgers, chicken wing roulette and a selection of cocktails. The restaurant will open from 10am to 11pm, Monday to Thursday, and from 10am to midnight the rest of the week. The second Cocina site is set to open in Tombland before the end of the year, the Eastern Daily Press reports. El Mexicana was founded in 2011, with its first restaurant opening at the Meadowhall shopping centre in Sheffield.

Foster + Partners ordered to pay £3.6m over five-star hotel that was never built: Architectural company Foster + Partners has been ordered to pay £3.6m for negligence over its design of a five-star hotel that was never built. Entrepreneur John Dhanoa hired the company in 2007 to design a hotel near Heathrow, asking for a £100m project that could be built by the end of the 2012 Olympics. However, Foster + Partners “blew the budget” with its vision of a 13-storey building with pavilions enclosed in a giant glass biosphere. The company came up with a costing of £195m but the High Court heard Foster + Partners told Dhanoa it would be possible to almost halve that estimate to be within his own budget. Fosters denied a string of failings over the development, arguing it had been unaware of Dhanoa’s strict budget. But in a scathing judgment, Mr Justice Fraser said: “Fosters embarked on designing the project with no thought or consideration for the budget at all.” Dhanoa bought the land for £14.5m and agreed he would pay up to £100m for a 500-bedroom hotel that would open in September 2012. When Fosters produced the £195m design in 2008, Dhanoa was told to apply for planning permission and assured the scheme would be “value engineered” to the budget. The judge said experts had given evidence that “if such advice was given, it was negligent”. Planning consent lapsed as Dhanoa realised the design was unbuildable in his budget. The court awarded his company Riva Properties £3.6m for money it spent on the project, the Evening Standard reports.

Brixton restaurant Salon to launch wine store next month: Founder and head chef Nicholas Balfe is to launch a wine store next to his Brixton restaurant – Salon – on Monday, 13 November. Last month, Balfe relaunched Salon with a new ground-floor bar and upstairs dining room with banquette seating made from reclaimed timber. Salon Wine Store guests will be able to drink low-intervention, artisan wine in-store or bring bottles into Salon’s bar and restaurant for a small corkage fee. The kitchen has created a menu to accompany the extensive new wine list, including smoked aubergine with black onion and seed crackers, and slow-cooked rabbit ragu with house-made pappardelle. Balfe said: “We’ve always been into low-intervention wine at Salon – it goes hand-in-hand with our ethos for sustainable cooking. The Wine Store is an opportunity for us to extend our offering, introducing some even more exciting wines to the list and hosting some fun collaborations.” Balfe founded Salon in 2012 as a pop-up above a cheese shop in Brixton Market before becoming a permanent fixture the following year.
 
Jewish-inspired French chicken concept Schmaltz to launch in City of London this week: Jewish-inspired French chicken concept Schmaltz is to launch at the Finsbury Avenue Square development in the City of London this week. The restaurant will open at British Land’s street food space at Broadgate on Wednesday (25 October) offering Label Rouge, teardrop-shaped chicken sandwiches alongside salad and soup. The menu has been developed by Michelin-trained chef Karl Burdock, with the bespoke, dandelion print-wrapped kitchen led by head chef George Clark. Label Rouge certification in France promises heritage-bred birds, with Schmaltz searing and roasting each chicken with the skin on to add distinctive crunch and flavour. The dishes will be accompanied by homemade sauces. Burdock said: “Lightness was an imperative for developing each product. I think it’s critical we use the entire bird, beak to tail, purchased direct from the farm in France. It’s consistent with the Michelin philosophy and there is a quality in each £7 product you’d expect in a £25 dish.” Schmaltz joins other brands at Finsbury Avenue Square that include Anglo-American bagel-brioche concept Sub Cult, Italian restaurant Wolf, bhangra burger brand BaBa G’s, eggs-centred diner Yolk, and crab burger concept Claw.

Innis & Gunn starts supplying tank beer outside estate: Scottish brewer and retailer Innis & Gunn has started supplying its tank beer outside its estate. The company has introduced the offer at the revamped Drum and Monkey in Glasgow. The bar in St Vincent Street has undergone a £300,000 refurbishment and one of the key features is the first Innis and Gunn tank beer available outside its own brand of Beer Kitchen bars. Drum and Monkey manager Bryan Murrin told Glasgow Live: “A key feature is our new copper tank beer install, serving brewery-fresh tank beer. It’s delivered direct from Innis and Gunn’s Inveralmond brewery to our tanks. We are also well known for our range of real ales and gins, and we have upped our ales selection from five to seven and stock more than 40 gins.”

Beannchor Group opens rooftop cocktail bar at Bullitt Hotel in Belfast: Northern Ireland hospitality company Beannchor Group has opened a rooftop cocktail bar at its Bullitt Hotel in Belfast. The 250-capacity rooftop bar and garden, Babel, is part of the hotel’s £1.75m expansion, which includes 31 new bedrooms. The open-air terrace offers panoramic views of the city, an interior living wall made up of 300 fresh plants and herbs, and a vertical exterior garden wall that is visible from ground level. The drinks menu is based around “shrub cocktails”, with the living walls providing a fresh supply of herbs for use as ingredients and garnishes. The menu is influenced by south and east Asian cuisine. Beannchor director Conall Wolsey told Belfast Live: “The vision behind the hotel is for it to offer much more than bed space, we want it to be a place where people come to work, relax and socialise. The addition of the rooftop bar and garden only add to this vision and the stunning views across Belfast were the selling point for us when deciding how to utilise this space. We continuously want to push the boundaries and the living walls will enable us to introduce a new cocktail-led concept.” In May, Beannchor Group acquired the headquarters of stage show Riverdance in Capel Street, Dublin, with plans to turn it into a 100-bedroom Bullitt Hotel.
 
Cardiff-based steakhouse Charleston’s acquires second site: Cardiff-based steakhouse Charleston’s has acquired its second site in the city. The company is opening the venue in Whitchurch Road in part of the former Cardiff Sportsgear shop, which closed last year after 50 years of trading. The building will undergo an extensive refurbishment to create a two-storey Mediterranean-style restaurant. The name of the venue and its opening date has yet to be confirmed. The remainder of the former Cardiff Sportsgear building is under offer. Matthew Jones, of the Cardiff office of agents Fletcher Morgan, which acted on the property deal, told Wales Online: “The sale highlights the popularity of Whitchurch Road for good-quality restaurants and cafes.”

Whitbread to open £8.6m 100-bedroom Premier Inn at Bridgwater business park: Whitbread-owned Premier Inn is to open a 100-bedroom hotel in Bridgwater, Somerset. The company is opening the hotel at the £150m Bridgwater Gateway business park, on the southern side of the entrance to the 100-acre site, off junction 24 of the M5 motorway. Whitbread will invest £8.6m in the hotel, creating 32 jobs. Bridgwater Gateway development manager Phil Wade told the Bridgwater Mercury: “We are delighted Bridgwater Gateway has been chosen as the setting for Premier Inn’s latest hotel, and we know it will play an important role in meeting huge demand for hotel rooms in the area as a result of factors such as construction of Hinkley Point C power station, and the proximity of Bristol Airport.” The first phase of the Bridgwater Gateway development will feature a range of new office and commercial buildings, together with a new 150-bedroom four-star hotel with conference facilities in addition to the Premier Inn. Whitbread plans to grow its Premier Inn and hub by Premier Inn estate to 85,000 bedrooms in the UK and Ireland by 2020, up from about 70,000 currently. 

 
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