Story of the Day:
Offers invited for Chop’d pending an anticipated administration process: Offers are being invited to acquire salad bar chain Chop’d, pending an anticipated administration process, Propel has learned. Propel understands the 12-strong business, which was acquired by Inc Retail Group in February, is working with Manchester-based advisors Robson Kay on the process, with offers for the business sought by noon this Friday (5 November). It is thought any administration process may see Inc Retail retain ownership, but lead to some of the brand’s sites being disposed of. The company reopened eight of its London-based sites earlier this year, but its sites in Westferry, Liverpool, Leeds and Manchester remain closed. The deal in February saw Inc Retail back the existing management team led by Eddie Holmes and secured the future of the brand’s sites. All jobs at the business, which was founded in 2004, were also kept in the share purchase. The deal for Chop’d, which had been backed by Calculus Capital, came days after Inc Retail, a newly-launched division of Manchester-based marketing and advertising agency Inc & Co, acquired luxury bag and accessories brand Knomo. It is thought as part of the Chop’d deal, there would be significant investment in expanding the brand’s current menu offering, website and back-end ordering systems. In October 2019, Chop’d appointed north west-based advisory firm Cowgills to advise on its funding options, which was thought to involve a short-term funding requirement of £250,000 ahead of a broader strategic review. The funding requirement came as Chop’d launched its virtual brand Vegan Delivered, which delivered freshly made vegan meals prepared in Chop’d kitchens.
Fourth edition of The New Openings Database released tomorrow, to show details of 306 new sites, 15,000-word report included:
The fourth edition of The New Openings Database
, which is produced in association with StarStock, will show the details of 306 newly announced site openings and upcoming launches for Premium subscribers when it is published tomorrow (Friday, 5 November), at midday. The database shows the details of which company has opened a site or its plans to open one in the future. It will have details on what type of site it is and its location. There will also be a website link to the businesses so you can find out more about them. It is published on a monthly basis. The latest database features several international growth brands making their UK debut, new and expanding luxury leisure concepts, and regional brands in growth. For the first time Premium subscribers will also receive a 15,000-word report on the new additions to the database. Premium subscribers also receive access to two other databases. The latest Propel Multi-Site Database
, which is produced in association with Virgate, was sent to Premium subscribers last Friday (29 October). The database contained 66 new companies, bringing the total number of businesses listed up to 2,152. The 446 sites run by those 66 new additions means the entire database of sites has reached 61,740. Premium subscribers also received a 5,000-word report on the new businesses added. The go-to database 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. In a new feature this year, there is a synopsis of what the business does and significant news associated with it. Premium subscribers also receive the Turnover & Profits Blue Book
, which is produced in association with Mapal Group. The Blue Book, which is also updated every month, provides an insight into UK operator turnover and profitability over five years, profit conversion and directors’ earnings. Subscribers also receive access to Propel’s library of lockdown videos and Friday Wrap interviews and now also have access to a curated video library of the sector’s finest leaders and entrepreneurs, offering their insights on running outstanding businesses in the sector. Premium subscribers also receive their morning newsletter 11 hours early, at 7pm the evening before our 6am send-out; regular video content and regular exclusive columns from Propel insights editor Mark Wingett. Companies can now have an unlimited number of people receive access to Propel Premium for a year for £895 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or a supplier. The regular single subscription rate of £395 plus VAT for operators and £495 plus VAT for suppliers remains the same. To subscribe, email email@example.com
Restaurants accused of trying to poach rivals’ staff as recruitment crisis bites, fears over value of covid recovery visas: Hospitality’s hiring crisis has become so acute that some restaurants have tried to poach workers from their rivals, according to one London operator. While demand for eating out has shot up post-lockdowns, many businesses don’t have the staff numbers to operate at full capacity. Philip Inzani, of Liverpool Street’s Polo 24 Hour Bar, said attempts have even been made to entice away his staff by competitors, some of whom have even left them business cards. Branding such practises “unethical”, he has countered by offering better pay and benefits. “The traditional ways of recruiting, I think, are not working,” he told MyLondon. “We’re all in a desperate situation. I have been in the industry for almost 30 years, and now is by far the most difficult period to recruit and retain staff. I don’t think covid is the main perpetrator, I think it’s more to do with the whole Brexit situation. The whole of the industry relies so heavily on workers from abroad who have now found it far more problematic to actually come back to London for various reasons.” London mayor Sadiq Khan recently called on the government to create a covid recovery visa, which would be time-limited and designed to encourage international workers to help plug gaps in the UK labour shortage. Inzani remains sceptical that such a proposal would solve the staffing crisis, however, adding: “I think anything temporary will not work. You're asking people to up sticks from the comfort of their own country and come back to the UK for a short period of time. I just think we need to go back to where people wanted to come to London, and it was the place to come.”
HGEM finds climate awareness impacts consumers’ spending habits: Almost half (47%) of consumers have reconsidered their perception of luxury because of climate awareness, according to a consumer survey by customer feedback platform HGEM. Almost four in five respondents experience an element of guilt that comes with buying luxury goods, due to excessive packaging, which may be the reason why most customers (83%) now prefer to spend their earnings on experiences, rather than goods, HGEM said. For now, consumers are happy to pursue traditional luxury experiences, such as Michelin-star restaurants and five-star hotels. For most sought-after food experiences, Michelin-star restaurants were favoured by 70% of consumers, followed by local independent pub/restaurant (22%), high street favourites (5%) and street markets (3%). With regards to accommodation, half (50%) of respondents opt for a five-star hotel, almost a quarter (24%) choose a luxurious country inn, 10% of consumers prefer a cottage rental, and only 8% would select to either stay at an ultramodern aparthotel, or to go glamping. Sustainability has already impacted the grocery sector, with more people favouring local farm shops (36%) than premium supermarkets (32%) – if money or location convenience were no object. As per the results of its monthly “covid safety tracker”, HGEM found consumer confidence is at the highest it’s been since October 2020, with the average safety score now at 8.34, in contrast to 7.07 when tracking began last October.
Job of the day: COREcruitment is helping a growing bar/pub/restaurant group based in London recruit a managing director. The business is entering a new phase of growth and is looking for a strong, commercially focused, managing director who has proven experience of scaling a small, similar business. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “The business currently has eight venues and has a clear expansion plan for 2022-23. However, the incoming managing director will have the opportunity to impact this journey, guiding key decision and working with the founders on a long-term strategy. They will oversee all of the properties within the group, launching all the new sites across London. As well as strategy, they will work with both financial and marketing teams to ensure the profitability of the business and the growth of the customer base. Additionally, they will work at a hands-on level with the team, driving the senior operations teams and working to build a strong company culture. The position is paying between £130,000 and £150,000.” Anyone interested can email Stuart@corecruitment.com
Punch grows Big Smoke Brew Co joint venture: Punch Pubs & Co, the Clive Chesser-led, circa 1,350-strong company, has expanded its joint venture with Surrey-based brewer and retailer Big Smoke Brew Co to six pubs, with another two in the pipeline, Propel has learned. Propel revealed in May the companies were to invest and launch a collection of craft beer and food pubs across the south east of England. James Morgan and Richard Craig, who founded Big Smoke in 2014, said they were looking to expand their pub portfolio with a strategic partner to achieve their ambitious plans for growth. The joint venture started with the launch of The Prince of Wales Townhouse in Hammersmith, and the White Horse in Welwyn. This was followed by The Old Wheatsheaf in Enfield and The White Lion in St Albans. More recently, Big Smoke has opened the Queens Head in Harpenden and the Rising Sun in Epsom. Propel understands the joint venture is set to also open the Crystal Palace in Berkhamsted and the Abercorn Arms in Teddington, with a number of other sites also under consideration for next year’s pipeline. Talking to Propel about the new joint venture earlier this year, Chesser said: “We have been keen to look at opportunities to partner in a slightly more sophisticated way with some more specialist operators that do things we don’t do specifically within Punch, within our leased and tenanted model or within our managed partnership model, and it is slightly different to the Laine business, which is also within our group. Rich and James are really talented operators. We can help to firepower their own ambitions, find them sites and work hand in hand with them. It is their business and they will continue to run it. They are proving to be good partners.”
Patty & Bun to launch site at Wood Wharf: Patty & Bun, the better burger concept led by Joe Grossman, is to open a site in Wood Wharf, a new part of Canary Wharf, next year, Propel has learned. Patty & Bun, which in September appointed Marta Velez, formerly of Itsu and Black Sheep Coffee, as its new chief operating officer, is set to open at the new development next April, with the site set to include a Sidechick delivery aspect. Patty & Bun operates eight sites under its eponymous brand in London, plus one in Brighton. Earlier this year it opened the first stand-alone site for Sidechick, its delivery-only, chicken focused, concept, in James Street, Marylebone, next door to its existing Patty & Bun site. In 2019, Patty & Bun “tested the water” by operating chicken concept Jefferies as part of the summer line-up at The Prince and at Pergola Olympia, which are both operated by Incipio Group. Propel understands Patty & Bun is in talks on a further site for Sidechick in the capital. Wood Wharf will eventually provide up to 3,600 new homes, two million square foot of office space, 350,000 square foot of retail space and more than nine acres of public spaces, squares and parks.
Numis – Hostmore is revitalising an iconic brand in Fridays, well positioned to rebuild demand quickly: Numis leisure analyst Tim Barrett has said Hostmore, the master franchisee of Fridays in the UK, is “revitalising an iconic brand” and has innovative plans for growth. He has issued a “Buy” note on the shares following Hostmore’s admission to the London Stock Exchange, with a target price of 211p. Barrett said: “The focus on ‘Famous at Fridays’ will appeal to lapsed customers, as well as target higher-margin drinks sales. Importantly, its core demographic is 18 to 29-year-olds (47% of the population) and with only 14% of sites in city centres we deem it well positioned to rebuild demand quickly. Fridays is currently only represented in 34% of the top 50 casual dining markets in the UK (versus Nando’s at 94%, for example). It is sensibly diversifying into the drinks-led category and has developed the 63rd+1st concept as ‘Fridays for grown ups’. This will be an important part of the annual target of eight restaurant openings per annum. which will underpin 7% to 8% annual estate growth. We see Hostmore in the sweet spot of recovering demand and market supply withdrawal. Our base case forecasts assume FY22 like-for-like sales reach 96% of pre-pandemic levels. Assuming a gross margin of 79.5% and labour sales ratio of 30.5% we arrive at an Ebitda margin of 12.7%. Within the Electra portfolio it was hard to value Hostmore and the underlying qualities of the business were hidden we believe. The current market cap of £168m and net debt of £31m give an EV of £200m, a multiple of just 6.8 times Ebitda (IAS 17 basis) on our base case 2022E forecasts. Our target price of 211p is based on the average of nine times Ebitda and a discounted cash flow, suggesting 57% upside.”
Fridays features in Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which is updated monthly for Premium subscribers. Fridays has turned over an average of £208.2m in the past five years. The Blue Book, which is produced in association with Mapal Group, provides a five-year overview of turnover and profit, ranks 427 companies according to turnover, pre-tax profit and profit conversion. It also provides details of directors’ earnings and highest paid directors. Companies can now have an unlimited number of people receive access to Propel Premium for a year for £895 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or a supplier. The regular single subscription rate of £395 plus VAT for operators and £495 plus VAT for suppliers remains the same. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up.
WC Rowe reports strong start to current financial year, returns to expansion trail: Cornish bakery WC Rowe, which has stores and supermarket concessions across the south west, has said its current financial year has started strongly as it reported record full-year pre-tax profits. The company is also returning to the expansion trail with the opening of new retail outlets, including one that will begin trading before Christmas. WC Rowe stated: “FY2022 has started strongly, with first quarter results delivering continued gross and net profit growth. Potential supply chain and capacity issues have been mitigated through a combination of margin focused operational planning improvements alongside price increases in both our wholesale and retail divisions. Our latest 2022 forecast shows we are on track to deliver a further upward step change in profitability.” It comes as WC Rowe reported turnover increased 1.6% to £22.1m for the year ending 3 July 2021, compared with £21.8m the previous year. Pre-tax profit was up to £1.4m from £169,000 the year before. Gross profit margin increased to 35.5% from 30.8% the previous year. During the period the company received government grants totalling £954,000. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “The year was subject to a number of national lockdowns and tiered restrictions as covid-19 continued to present a major trading disruption. Despite this the company delivered a record pre-tax profit, with overall annual sales recovering to pre-pandemic levels. The step change in net profit was driven initially by an autumn 2020 restructure in our production departments and retail estate. As customer demand increased through the year, resource was deployed in a flexible and creative way to ensure labour efficiencies were maintained.” WC Rowe was founded in 1949 and trades from 18 stores and five branded concessions in Asda and Tesco across the region.
Riding House Cafe team plans Bloomsbury opening: House Cafe Company, the Adam White-led, London-based business, is planning to open a third site in the capital, in Bloomsbury. Propel understands the business, which currently operates Riding House Café in Fitzrovia and Rail House Café in Victoria, is set to take on the former Carluccio’s at Brunswick Square for an as-yet, unnamed new restaurant and bar. The site has been closed since Italian restaurant chain Carluccio’s went into administration last spring.
Island Poke appoints Sophie Street as head of property: Island Poké, the London-based, White Rabbit Projects and Hero Brands-backed business, has appointed Sophie Street, formerly of the Ivy Collection and Bill’s, as its new head of property. Street joins Island Poké after most recently working on the launch of Zambrero, Australia’s largest Mexican quick-service franchise, into the UK. She was previously head of property for Diverse Dining, which oversees Shake Shack in the UK; head of estates and acquisitions at Bill’s; and acquisitions manager at The Ivy Collection. Island Poké recently opened in Islington and Richmond. Further plans include sites in Clapham and Notting Hill, which are set to open in early 2022. The company said its development plans will initially focus on London. However, discussions are also underway with further partners, which have the potential for a further 50 sites throughout the UK. It operates 15 sites in London, including four delivery kitchen units, plus nine sites in France. In May, the company announced it had signed up its first two UK franchise partners. The new partnerships will bring a development pipeline of 23 sites over the next five years, trebling its current ten-strong UK footprint, alongside the 42 already planned in France and Benelux over the same period.
Beefeater makes move into at-home market: Whitbread-owned Beefeater pubs has, for the first time in its 47-year history, launched a sauce that customers can take home. The brand’s signature ‘74 BBQ sauce is now available to purchase nationwide from its 173 restaurants, priced at £2.99 for a 260ml bottle. The recipe includes dark porter as a nod to Whitbread once being among the UK’s largest porter brewers. Chris Seaby, head of food and beverage development at Whitbread, said: “We wanted to create a barbecue sauce that really captured the essence of our brand. Beefeater is all about the grill, so our mission was to create sauce that tastes as good straight off the grill as it does on its own. It hasn’t been easy to achieve and required extensive recipe testing and research, but the hard work has paid off.”
Caravan to open Canary Wharf site early next year: London-based restaurant, bar and coffee-roasting concept Caravan is to open a new site in Canary Wharf, early next year. The Active Partners-backed company will open on the ex-Carluccio’s site in Canada Square, underneath The Alchemist, in January. The business currently operates five eponymous restaurants across London, Vardo in Chelsea and a roastery headquarters in Islington, both of which opened in 2019. Talking in September, co-founder Laura Harper-Hinton said a public opening for the roastery, followed by expansion outside London, was also on the company’s to-do list. She said the business was looking to open internationally too. She added: “Expanding outside London is something we definitely want to do, but we’d be looking to create a hub with retail, a roastery, a coffee shop and a coffee school.” The company had previously been linked with an opening at the Paradise development in Birmingham.
Molson Coors Europe CEO Simon Cox to retire: Simon Cox, who for the last seven years has led Molson Coors’ European business unit, most recently as president and chief executive, will retire at the end of this year, after 16 years with the company. Sergey Yeskov, who is currently managing director of the company’s central and eastern Europe region, will take over effective 1 January. Molson Coors president and chief executive Gavin Hattersley said: “Sergey’s well-rounded experience across geographies and business functions, along with his people-first approach, will be an asset to our Europe team and for our entire global business. Simon has brought our European business to where it is today, and all of us owe him a debt of gratitude for what he has helped us deliver and who he has helped us become.”
Premier Inn opens debut Dublin hotel following €19m investment, others planned for city to start opening next year: Whitbread has opened its debut Premier Inn in Dublin city centre, and the four set to follow in the Irish capital will start opening in late 2022. Situated in South Great George’s Street, the hotel has a history dating to the 1890s and took over a previously unoccupied corner block that was once a department store. Following a €19m overhaul, the hotel has 97 bedrooms as well as a restaurant and bar. The opening is the first of five planned for Dublin city centre, along with an additional 187-bedroom site being built in Cork. Premier Inn managing director Simon Ewins said: “We are thrilled to open our first hotel in Dublin city centre. Dublin is known for being one of the world’s most captivating, lively and historic cities, so we couldn’t be more delighted to open our doors here, and we see a very bright future for Premier Inn in the city. The opening is an important moment for us as we grow Premier Inn in Dublin.” Whitbread is seeking 2,500 Premier Inn rooms in Dublin as it seeks to expand the brand across the city. The other five pipeline sites in Dublin and Cork are a mixture of freehold and leasehold acquisitions. Last month, Whitbread reported that Premier Inn’s recovery during the six months to 29 August 2021 was ahead of expectations, with potential for a full recovery during 2022. However, the group also announced it’s set to pay out millions in wage rises and bonuses to try to combat persistent staff shortages.
Wahaca launches sustainable avocado-free guacamole: Mexican restaurant group Wahaca has launched an avocado-free guacamole. Specially created by Wahaca co-founder Thomasina Miers in response to the impact that environmental damage that intense avocado farming can cause, the Wahacamole dish replaces the fruit with organic British-grown fava beans, from Hodmedod’s. While a traditional guacamole will remain on the menu, Miers hopes the development of new dishes such as Wahacamole will help Wacaha move towards a gradual reduction of avocado use. She said: “Putting delicious food on people’s plates is at the heart of everything we do at Wahaca, but it is closely followed by treading as lightly on the planet as we can. While we won’t be seeing avocados leaving our menu any time soon, we felt the time was right for a new twist on our guacamole by creating a bespoke, sustainable dip made with the incredibly pulses grown by Hodmedod’s co-operative of organic farmers. We our customers feel inspired to try something that’s not just a little bit different, but has been created with sustainability firmly in mind.”
Chef Harry Guy to open debut solo restaurant in Wildes Group’s Chester boutique hotel: Former Savoy Grill, Le Carré Gourmand and Mallory Court Hotel chef Harry Guy will make his solo restaurant debut at the boutique hotel being opened by Wildes Group in Chester next year. The 50-cover restaurant will be named X by Harry Guy after the chef, who also has spells at L’enclume, Roganic and Aulis on his CV, alongside a Roux scholarship. He said: “X has been a long time in the making and is something that dreams are made of for a chef like me. I am essentially creating my perfect restaurant, from the dishes I have had brewing in my mind for years to the look and feel of the space itself. After working in some of the best kitchens in the world, I’m now ready to do things my way and have big ambitions for X.” The site for the restaurant, the 18-bedroom Wildes Chester, launching next summer, is the brainchild of Wildes Group chief executive Paul Wildes. His group's portfolio of hotels in the north of England include Van Dyk in Chesterfield and Holiday Inn Express sites in Hoylake and Crewe. Wildes said: “It feels fantastic that X is no longer just a pipedream. Harry’s vision is really quite special and completely unique for the city. Like many city centres, Chester is currently undergoing a massive period of change, particularly on the hospitality front, with so many interesting venues popping up. We have ambitious plans for X and feel confident the restaurant will put Chester on the map as a real culinary destination.” Wildes Group also plans to open “W”, an exclusive private members club, in Chester next summer – featuring a cinema, casino, gym and cocktail bar.
Former SSP and Corney & Barrow executive takes on MD role with independent school caterer: Lucy Knowles, former group marketing director at travel hub foodservice company SSP Group and managing director of London wine bar company Corney & Barrow, has joined independent school caterer Holroyd Howe. Knowles will start as managing director in the new year, succeeding Ronan Harte, who was recently appointed as chief executive at independent hospitality operator BaxterStorey, which like Holroyd Howe is part of Westbury Street Holdings (WSH). WSH chairman Alastair Storey said: “Lucy brings with her a wealth of experience and a passion for food and nutrition. Equally important is Lucy’s track record as a champion of training and development. She believes passionately in progression from within and establishing an environment that unlocks and grows talent, offering our team members long and fulfilling careers with us.” Knowles added: “Food development has been an important part of my career to date. I am excited to work with the Holroyd Howe team to deliver continued innovation and creativity for the pupils we serve.” Meanwhile, BaxterStorey has hired its first food data and nutrition manager, Lizzie Hennig. A former well-being consultant for corporate wellness company ToHealth, Hennig will provide nutrition support to colleagues and clients, deliver internal training, consult on recipe development and advise on health legislation.
New Japanese-Peruvian fusion restaurant Nakanojo opens in Chelsea: Japanese-Peruvian fusion restaurant Nakanojo has launched its debut site in London’s Chelsea. The concept, which is the brainchild of entrepreneur Josh Ahmet, has opened in the former Busaba Eathai site in King’s Road. Nakanojo is described as “a casual fine dining Nikkei-inspired restaurant, offering premium sushi and robata grill cuisine, with a focus on fresh and high-quality ingredients”. Nakanojo spans the basement and ground floor of the 4,512 square-foot space, with 90 covers and a menu with “an emphasis on fresh ingredients and fun cocktails”. Ahmet said: “Our venue brings something different to the King’s Road and offers a unique blend of two cultures that fit seamlessly together. At Nakanojo, we pride ourselves on serving authentic, quality food in a relaxed atmosphere, and Chelsea’s stylish, easy-going atmosphere makes the King’s Road an ideal location for launching our new concept.” James Commercial acted on behalf of Nakanojo, while Davis Coffer Lyons represented landlords Sloane Stanley. Hannah Grievson, property director at Sloane Stanley, added: “With renewed consumer interest in localism as well as experiential retail and dining, it is a great opportunity for unique operators like Nakanojo to make their debut, and we feel confident the new concept will feel at home alongside so many other dynamic operators.”
New food hall with at least 12 operators to open in Hull next month: A new food hall in the renovated Hammonds building in Hull will open next month. HoH Food Hall combines a collection of dining, organic grocery, retail, food, music and art offerings. It will create more than 200 jobs, and the 30,000 square-foot industrial space will feature at least 12 different food and beverage locations such as the Vinyl Lounge, the Tin Man Bar, and 1821 Cocktail and Coffee bar. Eann Smith, creator and operator of HoH Food Hall, said: “HoH is a hive of local producers, makers and bakers. We aim to attract two million visitors a year and breathe life back into the city centre. Every week we will hand-select producers to offer experience-led tasting workshops and masterclasses, so our customers get to meet the people behind the produce. We also have pop-up opportunities for aspiring producers to promote their brand or concepts in our food hall. This gives a platform to those talented individuals, helping launch their products to the public. This rotation will keep HoH fluid with a vibrant mix of creative independent businesses.” HoH will also feature “Guerrilla Street Kitchen” – designed to give an opening to local chefs who may not have the opportunities to open their own restaurant. HoH Food Hall will open on Friday, 3 December.
Taco Bell to make Gloucestershire debut with Cheltenham site: Mexican restaurant brand Taco Bell is to open a restaurant in Cheltenham. The brand is opening the outlet in the former Caffe Nero premises in High Street on Monday, 22 November. Taco Bell has signed a new ten-year lease on the property, which will be the brand’s first in Gloucestershire, reports So Glos. Taco Bell is also set to open a drive-thru restaurant in Gloucester. The brand currently has 67 sites across the UK.