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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators
Mon 18th Sep 2023 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Tim Hortons plans significant expansion of UK estate, launches franchise model: Canadian quick service restaurant brand Tim Hortons is planning significant growth of its 75-strong UK estate, as it launches a franchise model here for the first time, Propel has learned. Tim Hortons, which first launched in the UK in 2017, told Propel that it was targeting approximately 20-25 site openings every year and expected its franchise partners to invest and open around 50%-60% these. It said: “With huge demand for Tim Hortons in the UK, we would love to eventually reach every town and city nationwide. In the short term, we have opened approximately 20-25 sites every year across the UK for the past three years, and we intend to continue our brand expansion at a similar scale and pace. We will work with franchise partners on tailored opportunities for growth and we have a strong pipeline of locations available across the UK.” The company, which opened 31 sites in 2022, said the launch of the new franchise model follows five years of a test and learn phase. It said that has created a “refined operating model and robust infrastructure that the team is confident will support new franchise partners and help to expand the business from a strategic standpoint”. The brand, which will continue to open and operate both corporate and franchised locations across the UK, said it is providing a nationwide opportunity to develop and open both Tim Hortons drive-thru and high street restaurants. The company, which has more than 1,500 franchisees in Canada, said that consumer demand for Tim Hortons in the UK over the last six years has been high, with each opening across the country seeing huge demand from customers, with some fans camped outside restaurants for up to 40 hours ahead of opening. It said that its Park Royal London opening in 2022 was one of its most successful globally in the past five years. Kevin Hydes, chief commercial officer of Tim Hortons franchise in the UK, said: “The reception to Tim Hortons in the UK has been nothing short of extraordinary. Serving our guests, the highest quality, range of beverages, doughnuts and made-to-order food that suits all parts has been our main priority, and now we also want to take Tim Hortons to more local communities across the nation at pace. We’re confident that our franchise model will be core to us achieving this goal. We have spent the last five years in a test and learn phase, and the last two years building the infrastructure required to support franchisees. We are looking for expert operators from across the UK. with a proven record of delivering brand standards, delighting customers and driving commercial growth. We continue to see high consumer demand for the Tim Hortons brand, with every opening exceeding commercial expectations, so we are confident that our strong market position – being the third largest coffee brand in the world – and our unique customer proposition of a beverage led, quick service restaurant will be of huge interest and will provide commercial value to our franchise partners.”

Industry News:

Five Guys CEO John Eckbert to speak at final Propel Multi-Club Conference of 2023, three free places per company for operators: John Eckbert, chief executive of Five Guys, will be among the speakers at the final Propel Multi-Club Conference of 2023. The conference takes place on Thursday, 16 November, at the Millennium Gloucester Hotel in London's Kensington, and is open for bookings. The all-day conference will focus on “progress in an era of strong headwinds”. Eckbert will discuss ten years of the brand being in the UK, its biggest challenges, how it stays ahead of the pack, and what's the size of the prize here and in Europe. For the full speaker schedule, click here. Operators can book up to three free places per company by emailing Meanwhile, the Talent and Training Conference takes place on Tuesday, 3 October at One Moorgate Place in London. For the full speaker schedule click here. Tickets are £295 plus VAT for operators and £395 plus VAT for suppliers and can be booked by emailing

Fast growing dessert concepts among 56 new businesses joining updated Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies: A number of fast growing dessert concepts are among the 56 new multi-site companies being added to the next edition of the Propel Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies, which will be released on Friday, 29 September, at midday. The updated Propel Multi-Site Database, which is produced in association with Virgate, features London operator Urban Chocolatier, which has nine sites and is aiming for 50 UK stores by 2030. It also includes US brand Insomnia Cookies, which has 230 sites across America, has now debuted in the UK with a double opening in Manchester along with Canadian pancake brand Fluffy Fluffy, which is aiming for 25 UK sites by 2025 as it works towards an eventual estate here of 100. Also featured is the After School Cookie Club, described as the “first vegan and gluten free cookie brand”, which has the backing of John Vincent, co-founder and former chief executive of Leon. Premium subscribers will also receive a 4,000-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 2,983 companies. Premium subscribers are also to receive access to all the videos from this month's Propel Multi-Club Conference and summer party. They will be sent 12 videos on Friday, 29 September at 9am. Premium subscribers also receive access to five other databases: the New Openings Database; the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book; the UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database; the UK Food and Beverage Franchisee 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 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.
Restaurant Marketer & Innovator calls for Rising Stars nominations: The Restaurant Marketer & Innovator Rising Stars programme – which recognises talented future leaders in marketing, innovation and strategy roles within the sector who are under 30 years of age – has opened its nominations for 2024. Judges will look for creativity, confidence, commercial awareness, ability to collaborate, leadership skills and perseverance. They will also look for experience in senior stakeholder management, understanding of how to develop strategy, ability to self-reflect, and clear potential to be an industry leader of the future. Nominees should have at least three years' experience in the hospitality sector. Nominations close on Friday, 27 October. They can be made by anybody by clicking here. Self-nominations are accepted. Selected candidates will be invited to attend the Restaurant Marketer & Innovator conference and Rising Stars presentation evening at the newly launched Theseleff Group venue, Viajante 87, in Notting Hill in January. All those applying for a place will be automatically considered for the Future Marketing Leader of the Year prize at the Restaurant Marketer & Innovator Awards. Restaurant Marketer & Innovator co-founder James Hacon said: “The Rising Stars programme is great recognition by the industry of your achievements to date and highlights you as a leader of the future. As part of the programme you will be in a network of like-minded professionals, who you will meet and get to know. Our alumni from this programme from the past five years have created close bonds and have seen their careers propelled forward.”

Frequency of visits growing with almost half of consumers visiting on-premise weekly: The frequency of visits to the sector is growing, with almost half of consumers visiting the on-premise weekly, according to CGA Neilson director Karl Chessell. Speaking at this month's Propel Multi-Club Conference, Chessell said a growing number of consumers are returning at higher frequencies, with 43% visiting the on-premise weekly, the highest figure since September 2022. They are also not looking to down trade in terms of venues visited or drinks consumed, he said. “Visit levels and spend levels have been consistent across that period (August 2022 to June 2023),” Chessell said. “We have seen an ebb and flow, and we have seen some consumers that understandably can't afford to go out at the same level, but the most engaged consumer within the sector does continue to go out with the same level of frequency.” It follows data that shows consumers are planning to protect their on-premise spend in the future above all discretional options, with 44% prioritising it over clothing, home improvements, holidays and day trips. “The good news is a lot of the headwinds we talk about are not of the sector's making, and the underlying demand from consumers is there, with visits to on-premise coming up consistently high when we ask consumers how they intend to prioritise their spending over the next 12 months, and growing month on month as well,” Chessell said. “People are saying if have less money they will dial back on big house purchases and home developments but want an affordable treat to look forward to at the end of the week or month. More than 60% are saying they could not do without eating or drinking out in some capacity. It's a real part of what they do and it's in their DNA.” Chessell added the sector has adapted to the current cost pressures and “does what it always does in delivering great experiences”, with consumer satisfaction high in quality of food, drink, service and overall experience, and while consumer satisfaction is lower in value for money, it still sits at 55%. He went on to say that offering good experiences need not be restricted to competitive socialising concepts and pointed to the “stand-out example” of the Prince of Peckham pub in London, which has tapped into its community by offering events like Zumba classes and children's storytelling.
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with an award-winning food business that is looking for a commercial director to join its team. A COREcruitment spokesperson said: “You will be responsible for taking charge of the commercial operations by shaping the commercial strategy, driving revenue growth, and expanding the business' market presence.” The salary is up to £120,000 and the position is based in London. For more information, email

Company News:

Big Fang Collective to open six new sites by 2025 as Chris Morgan returns to business as CEO: Big Fang Collective, the Imbiba-backed entertainment venue operator that owns the Golf Fang brand, has revealed plans to open six new sites over the next two years with Chris Morgan returning to the business to lead the expansion. Morgan joins as chief executive, replacing Natasha Waterfield, who joined the business in November last year. Morgan will “help drive the group forward”, with new experiential concepts planned for rollout in 2024, including a Nottingham opening. Previously, Morgan held the role of managing director until 2022, and brings strong business development experience having worked across leisure, retail, healthcare and hospitality sectors, and most recently as a property and project consultant. The group has set targets of securing a presence in every major UK city by 2025. To aid its ambitious expansion plans, Big Fang Collective has committed to growing its team with a series of strategic hires. These include new head of marketing, Jack Edge (previously Mission Mars and Tokyo Industries) and Morgane Pavier (previously New World Trading Company) as head of sales. Morgan said: “I am delighted to be returning. My vision is for Big Fang Collective to have a presence in every major UK city, where we will continue to regenerate urban spaces and create new and innovative experiential concepts, changing the way the UK enjoys itself.” Kip Piper, co-founder of Big Fang Collective, added: “Having previously been managing director for the business from 2018, and with his experience as a property and project consultant, Chris is the perfect person to drive the business forward both in the UK and internationally.” The first concept initially launched in Liverpool in 2016 as Ghetto Golf, and was then refined in 2022 to become Golf Fang following a £5m investment from Imbiba. The investment was aimed at accelerating Big Fang Collective's growth and readying the brand's multi-concept international rollout. The group will open its latest concept, Big Fang Karaoke, in Liverpool at the end of this month. In the last 12 months, Big Fang Collective has also used the investment to introduce the Golf Fang brand to new cities, with sites launching in Glasgow, Sheffield and Cardiff. 

Gravity CEO – we are ahead on like-for-like sales versus last year, close to securing two new sites: Harvey Jenkinson, co-founder and chief executive of experiential leisure operator Gravity, has told Propel that the group’s like-for-like sales this year are ahead of 2022’s figures, with the business close to securing its next two sites in “major city centres”. The company, which earlier this year secured up to £30m of new funding from US investment fund Sculptor Real Estate to aid its growth and expansion plans, recently opened its new flagship Gravity Max at Liverpool ONE, after a £10m investment. It operates a further 17 locations nationwide. The company, which launched the Gravity Max concept in London’s Wandsworth in August 2021, will open its next Gravity Max site at Westfield Stratford next spring. Jenkinson told Propel: “Trading this year is going very well. We are ahead like-for-like versus last year and the new opening in Liverpool has gone ahead of expectations. Its first four weeks trade was significantly ahead of Wandsworth's first four weeks at exactly the same time of year in 2021 and continues to trade very well. Westfield Gravity Max is under construction and will open in March 2024. We are close to securing the next two sites in major city centres that will open in the fourth quarter of 2024 and the second quarter of 2025 and have a combined size of more than 250,000 square foot.” It comes as the business posted revenue of £25,023,971 (2021: £14,274,414) for the 12 months to 31 December 2022, with Ebitda of £2,222,904 (2021: £1,781,830). Pre-tax profit for the year stood at £383,426 (2021: £386,920), which included covid-19 related government grants totalling £68,300 (2021: £1,708,991). On 28 February 2023, its parent company received finance of £18,350,000 to fund “certain capital expenditure and working capital”. Gravity features in the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book. Its turnover of £25,023,971 for the year to 31 December 2022 is the 285th 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.
White Rabbit Projects appoints Paul Deeming as new group CFO: Specialist hospitality incubator, White Rabbit Projects (WRP), has appointed Paul Deeming as its new group chief financial officer, Propel has learned. Joining the business following WRP’s multimillion-pound investment from McWin secured earlier this year, Deeming comes with 20 years of experience leading and growing hospitality, leisure and marketing businesses. He joins WRP from André Balazs Properties, the international group of hotels and properties across the US and Europe, including Chiltern Firehouse, where he had been chief financial officer since 2017. As co-founder and chief financial officer of the Ignite Group, he grew the business, both in the UK and internationally, with restaurant, bar and members’ clubs divisions; ultimately selling after ten years. He then joined Hakkasan Group as interim chief financial officer overseeing the company’s global expansion plans before being appointed chief financial officer at the BGF-backed Peyton & Byrne Group. WRP said Deeming joins the business at a “critical time in its growth and expansion journey”. WRP is currently focused on growing its existing portfolio as well as developing and investing in new concepts. Its current portfolio includes Lina Stores, Kricket, Island Poké and its in-house, bespoke hospitality creative business, White Rabbit Studio, which designs, develops and operates bespoke hospitality concepts for hotels and landlords. Its next opening will be EVE Kensington in partnership with Ember Locke opening this month. Additional investment is going towards international expansion following success in both Japan and France. WRP founder and chief executive Chris Miller said: “With his more than two decades’ worth of industry knowledge Paul will materially enhance our support platform incubating hospitality brands, as we continue developing the portfolio both nationally and internationally.” Deeming said: “WRP has been disrupting the hospitality market for years through unique hospitality concepts, by supporting, incubating, and scaling these high-quality brands. I am thrilled to be able to bring my experience to this fantastic business and helping to develop over the coming years.”

Updated plans for UK's first ‘city-based well-being resort’ approved: Updated plans for the £250m Therme spa, water park and wellness centre, which would be based in Manchester, have been approved. Billed the UK's first “city-based well-being resort”, Therme Manchester will include swimming pools, slides, warm water lagoons, saunas and gardens. The German-based Therme Group said the development, next to the Trafford Centre, is scheduled to open in 2025. Attractions would include large family and adults-only zones designed to benefit mental and physical health. There will also be water-based fitness classes and therapies, urban farms and educational activities. Chief executive Professor David Russell said: “Our ambition is to make a positive difference in millions of people's lives.” The firm has a similar centre in Bucharest, Romania, which attracts 1.2 million visitors a year. Amendments to the scheme approved by Trafford Council include changing from primarily a single building with zones and an undulating roofline, to a pavilion-style concept, a revised location for car parking and enhanced connectivity with public transport.

Global Taiwanese bubble tea brand looking to expand outside Central London as it launches franchise offer: Global Taiwanese bubble tea brand The Alley is looking to expand outside Central London as it launches its franchise offer over here. Since launching here in 2019, it has opened six sites across the capital, including its first two pilot UK franchise stores, in Westfield Stratford and Westfield White City, which are both owned by a multi-brand franchise investor. The brand, which has more than 450 stores globally, will officially launch its franchise offer at the start of next month, ahead of the National Franchise Exhibition in Birmingham, and has brought food and beverage franchise specialist Krishma Vaghela on board. “We're looking for more multi-unit operators with experience in food and beverage and first-time ambitious entrepreneurs, regardless of whether they have franchise experience or not, to grow The Alley in high footfall areas through high street stores, and kiosk concepts in shopping centres or travel hubs,” Vaghela told Propel. “As the bubble tea market continues to experience strong demand and rising popularity, it has yet to peak in the UK, sitting alongside the coffee market as an addictive beverage. The Alley has a lot more opportunity for scalability than its rivals, and we've already had interest. We want to take it outside of Central London, UK-wide but England first. Although it's a premium drinks offer, we're looking at university towns like Brighton, Oxford, Cambridge, Leeds, Bristol, Manchester and Birmingham, and we hope to open the first new franchise store next year. We see big opportunities in travel hubs and brand partnerships, and we see takeaway being the highest percentage of revenue.” The Alley also offers food and branded merchandise and is fully halal certified.
Pre-pack deals struck for seven Pizza Hut branded franchise stores: Seven Pizza Hut branded franchise stores have been acquired through pre-pack sales. Situl Raithatha, of Leicester-based Springfields Advisory, was appointed administrator of PH Leicester, PH Leicester 1 and PH Crawley on 7 September 2023. Immediately upon appointment, seven Pizza Hut branded franchise stores were sold through pre-pack sales to unconnected parties. The companies operated sites across the Midlands and West Sussex. The franchise businesses came under cash flow difficulties and, after exploring their options, accelerated sale processes were pursued in conjunction with the franchisor and other key stakeholders. It is understood that the purchasers are planning to reopen the sites. The newly acquired stores include three in Leicester, two in Crawley and one in both Loughborough and Tamworth. The franchisor, Pizza Hut, will look to support affected employees and where possible assist with finding roles at other Pizza Hut or Yum! branded sites. Nicolas Burquier, managing director, Pizza Hut UK & Europe, said: “Responding to an ever-shifting consumer landscape, our business and operating models are evolving. We remain confident and committed in our vision to be the number one choice in pizza; for consumers to order our pizza, employees to choose to be a part of our business and to be the partner of choice for franchisees.” No other Pizza Hut franchised stores and restaurants are affected and continue to operate as normal. Raithatha added: “The sale of the stores has in the circumstances delivered the best outcome for the various stakeholders. The businesses had been affected by market conditions, level of finance costs and other factors which led to significant financial difficulties. We are pleased to have completed the sales, which have helped to secure the future of the sites.” Earlier this year Raithatha sold eight Pizza Hut branded franchise stores following an appointment as administrators of Sania (PH) and of a connected company, Sania.

Team behind Fallow to launch fast-casual concept: The team behind London-based restaurant concept Fallow is to launch a fast-casual concept in the capital for their second site. Propel understands that the business from James Robson, Jack Croft and Will Murray, which opened its first permanent site in London's St James's Market, in November 2021, is to take on the nearby ex-The Beau Brummell site for the new venture. The site was previously operated as a pub by Cubitt House. Earlier this summer Fallow made two key appointments as it gears up for further expansion. The business appointed Paul Robinson-Webster as its operations and projects director, and Jon Bowring as its new executive chef. Robson told Propel: “The market turmoil and challenges continue to provide an abundance of opportunities. We are mid build on a substantial site in east London due to open early 2024. The Beau site was an interim opportunity we could not turn down with our current team bursting with ideas and talent. This will be a quick turnaround and we expect to be trading within a month with an energy fuelled more quick service restaurant-style operation.”
Chester and Flintshire McDonald's franchisee sees turnover rise but profit falls as cost increases bite: McDonald's franchisee Northgate Restaurants, which operates restaurants in Chester and Flintshire, saw its turnover rise but profits fall as cost increases started to bite in the year ending 31 December 2022. The company, which is owned by Jeanette Roe, reported turnover was up from £14,386,506 in 2021 to £15,706,534. Its pre-tax profit fell from £1,317,271 in 2021 to £25,626 as costs rose by £1,167,695. It received no government grants compared with £15,715 in 2021. This compares with turnover of £13,431,150 and a profit of £586,311 in the last full year before covid, ending 31 December 2019, when it also operated three restaurants. “Turnover for the year increased by 9.18%, with a decrease in gross profit of 6.63% compared with the previous year,” Roe said in her statement accompanying the accounts. “In common with many other similar businesses and industries, the war in Ukraine has had a significant impact on raw product costs, fuel costs and utility costs, with labour costs also increasing considerably along with other overheads, with the result that the years trading produced an operating profit of £30,023. During the year, the company carried out a major refurbishment at one of its restaurants. There were also a number of one-off costs that had a significant impact on the company's financial performance.” Dividends of £168,000 were paid (2021: £208,000). Roe joined McDonald's more than 30 years ago on a graduate recruitment programme and has been a franchisee since 2001, while also raising twin sons.
Trust Inns strengthens Scottish estate with Peeblesshire village site: Trust Inns, which is owned by the family interests of the late Trevor Hemmings, has strengthened its Scottish estate with the addition of the Gordon Arms Hotel in the village of West Linton, Peeblesshire. Located in Dolphinton Road on the A702, ten miles south of Edinburgh, the Gordon Arms has four bedrooms along with a newly refurbished restaurant and pub. Trust Inns has secured Craig McLaughlin, as the new tenant to run the business, which was owned by Stephen Harper and Fiona Ingrim, who have decided to sell in order to retire. A Trust Inns spokesperson said: “We are delighted to add the Gordon Arms to our estate and look forward to working with Craig McLaughlin and his team to continue the great work undertaken by the previous owners.” Last month, Trust Inns, which owns more than 350 leased and tenanted pubs across the UK, acquired three Scottish pubs from Glasgow hospitality group, Dundas Heritable. Trust Inns bought The Park Bar in Argyle Street, Glasgow; the Scarecrow in Main Street, Kilsyth; and the Brass Monkey in Argyle Street, Glasgow. Christie & Co acted on the Gordon Arms Hotel deal.
Taiwanese bubble tea brand closing in on 50 UK sites with Elephant & Castle opening: Taiwanese bubble tea brand T4 is closing in on 50 UK sites as it prepares for its latest opening, in London's Elephant & Castle. It is set to open within a newly enlarged unit for independent pan-Asian food market, Kiki & Miumiu, in Lendlease's Elephant Park. Kiki & Miumiu will double its footprint at the Walworth Road destination with the launch of a new 4,745 square-foot unit, including the T4 site. T4, led in the UK by chief executive Luis Liu, was founded in Taiwan in 2004 by Allen Cheng, and Elephant & Castle will be its 46th location here. It also has a strong pipeline of upcoming openings – including Hackney, Clapham Junction, Dalston, Wood Green and Greenwich – that will push it past the 50-mark. The business said: “Our mission is to bring happiness to customers and their friends, in the UK and worldwide. Our tea is prepared from the finest tea leaves – whole leaves, never tea bags or powder. We grow the tea ourselves, at precisely the right altitudes, at our tea fields in the beautiful hills and mountains of Taiwan. In our shops, the focus on quality continues, with artisan tea prepared for you in small batches, with the temperature and other conditions carefully managed. If it's not perfect, we make a whole new batch.”

Heineken acquires stake in Served: Heineken UK has acquired a “significant minority stake” in Served, a cocktails-in-a-can business co-owned by the pop star Ellie Goulding. Served was founded by brothers Dean and Ryan Ginsberg, as well as Goulding, in 2020. Dean Ginsberg told the Sunday Times that Goulding is “a long-time friend” and a former regular in a restaurant they ran. A dig into the group's Companies House accounts shows that Goulding is far from being the only high-profile investor to have bought into the vision of the brothers Ginsberg. Private equity firm owner Guy Hands and Justin King, the former chief executive of Sainsbury’s, both hold stakes. So do the footballer Daniel Sturridge and the children’s TV presenter Andi Peters.
Yorkshire holiday park business uses proceeds from sales of two sites to pay back £10m of loans, challenging year as 'staycation' boom recedes: Yorkshire holiday park business Leisure Resorts has used the proceeds from the sales of two sites to pay back £10m worth of loans. It sold Lakesway Holiday Home & Lodge Park in Kendal to Pure Leisure in March 2023 and Rivers Edge Country Park to UK Leisure Parks a month later. The sales left it with a portfolio of three parks – Angrove in North Yorkshire, Aysgarth in the Yorkshire Dales and Ullswater Heights in the Lake District. “The funds raised from these sales were used to repay £9.2m of bank borrowings and £1.0m of director's loans, with the remainder utilised for further capital expenditure projects on the company's holiday parks,” said director Gary Molloy, in his statement accompanying the accounts for the year to 31 December 2022. “The company continued its existing capital development programme during 2022, a total investment of £6.75m. The company will continue to improve the facilities available to existing and new customers in order to maintain the exclusive Leisure Resorts brand and grow the business.” It comes as the company reported a £2,217,250 pre-tax profit in 2021 turned into a £223,635 pre-tax loss for the period. Revenue fell from £28,228,161 to £25,204,108 while Ebitda dropped from £7,046,054 to £2,845,390. It received £26,000 in government grants compared with £491,794 in 2021. No dividends were paid (2021: £14,725). “The company experienced a challenging year as the UK ‘staycation’ boom receded and the demand for overseas holiday travel returned after the global covid-19 pandemic, impacting on the domestic holiday market,” Molloy added.

Ireland-based Hogs & Heifers concept plans further expansion: The Wright Group, the Ireland-based leisure group, has announced plans to expand its Hogs & Heifers restaurant brand and is actively seeking new locations in Ireland and Northern Ireland, and is also examining a potential future expansion into the UK. The group currently employs more than 750 staff, with more than 120 employed in the two existing Hogs & Heifers locations. The planned expansion would create up to 360 jobs. The Wright Group, owned by businessman Michael JF Wright, is planning on adding up to six new Hogs & Heifers outlets to the existing two and is now appealing to owners of potential venues to make contact. It is now actively seeking new locations of between 5,000 to 6,000 square foot in high footfall areas in Irish cities and towns and in Belfast. It said the ideal locations would preferably, be located next to or near to, other retail or entertainment venues. The group opened its first Hogs & Heifers restaurant in Airside Retail Park in Swords in Dublin in 2013 and recently invested €1m in opening a second 300-cover site in Liffey Valley shopping centre in June of this year. Wright said: “We have a super team of more than 120 people working in our Hogs & Heifers outlets and we are excited to be investing in new restaurants and creating new job opportunities. As of now, we are actively seeking potential premises in leading locations across Ireland and in Belfast. We are also examining a possible expansion into the UK and we look forward to announcing our new restaurants soon.”

North east hospitality group Unveiled Venues opens third site: North east hospitality group Unveiled Venues has opened its third site. The company has relaunched The Highlander, near Ponteland, which it bought from Stonegate Group last summer off a guide price of £500,000. The grade II-listed pub had been shut for five years. Unveiled Venues – which also owns Ellingham Hall and also operates the 18th century Lemmington Hall, in nearby Edlingham – has spent the past year restoring its restaurant area, open plan lounge bar and function room. While The Highlander is the company's first pub investment, the company said its experience in developing heritage venues will help it make the new venue a success. Unveiled Venues’ group director Anthony Hunter told Business Live: “We have been keen on opening an additional site that reflects our wedding venues for some time, and The Highlander – Ponteland fits perfectly with our brand.”
Franco Manca and The Real Greek strengthen delivery options with Just Eat deal: Fulham Shore brands Franco Manca, the sourdough pizza concept, and The Real Greek have strengthened their delivery options by partnering with Just Eat. Following a rapid rollout, all 94 Franco Manca and The Real Greek restaurants now offer delivery through Just Eat. Nabil Mankarious, managing director of Franco Manca and The Real Greek, said: “This partnership is an important step in our growth strategy for both brands. We're excited to reach new customers and introduce them to the joy of our food, which is made with passion, love and the highest quality ingredients.” In July, Fulham Shore was bought for £93.4m by Great Sea Kitchens, a newly incorporated company established on behalf of Toridoll Holdings Corporation. Toridoll, which is a global food company listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange with circa £1bn consolidated net sales and a current market capitalisation of approximately £1.5bn, set up a new company called Bidco to oversee the acquisition of Fulham Shore. It partnered with restaurant sector specialist fund Capdesia on the acquisition.

Correction: In a story over the weekend, titled “ASK co-founder to launch new concept”, we wrote: “Adam Kaye, who with his brother Sam, founded the ASK Italian and Zizzi restaurant brands, is to launch a new concept called Chubby Bunny, in central London.” We are happy to correct that Adam Kaye is not behind the concept, but is the landlord of the site – 30-34 New Oxford Street – in which the concept will be housed.

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