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Tue 23rd Jul 2019 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

CDG reshapes leadership team, half-year like-for-likes up 3%: Casual Dining Group (CDG) has reshaped its leadership team by appointing three brand directors across Bella Italia, Café Rouge and Las Iguanas, Propel has learned. Following the appointment of James Spragg as chief executive of CDG in May, the business has removed the managing director’s role for its branded businesses in favour of a flatter structure, with brand directors reporting directly to Spragg. The move follows the resignation of Mos Shamel as managing director of Las Iguanas following his 16 years with the brand, and the departure of Gareth Lock, who had been chief operating officer across Bella Italia, Café Rouge and Belgo. Internal succession moves see Lisa Gibbons promoted to brand director of Bella Italia; Julie McEwan promoted to brand director of Las Iguanas; and Greg Gibbons promoted to brand director at Café Rouge. A further appointment sees Sarah Pope join the circa 290-strong, Rooney Anand-chaired company as chief information officer. Pope joins from GLH Hotels, where she was head of technology. Mark Nelson remains managing director of the company’s concessions and international franchising division. The company recently launched its third Ale & Coffee House concept – The Shipyard at Elizabeth Terminal, Jersey Port. However, it’s thought in terms of adding further international franchise partnerships the company is focusing on its UK business at present. Propel understands CDG delivered like-for-like sales growth of 3% across its entire business for the first six months to 30 June 2019. Steve Richards stepped down as chief executive of CDG earlier this year to join Parkdean Holidays as chief executive.

Industry News:

Nominations to close this week for Wireless Social Female Entrepreneur of the Year: Nominations will close this week for the Wireless Social Entrepreneur of the Year, which will be presented on Thursday, 12 September at the end of the Women’s Entrepreneur Conference. Readers are invited to send their nominations to Propel managing director Paul Charity at Building on last year’s debut event, the sector’s only conference to feature an all-female line-up of company leaders, more sector-leading female entrepreneurs will share their stories and expertise alongside two panel sessions. Propel has partnered with Elliotts chief executive Ann Elliott for the full-day event, which will be held at One Moorgate Place, London, and is open for bookings – for men as well as women. Speakers will be Bartlett Mitchell founder Wendy Bartlett; West Brewery founder Petra Wetzel; Chai by Mira founder Mira Manek; Filmore & Union founder Adele Ashley; Tonkotsu founder Emma Reynolds; Giggling Squid founder Pranee Laurillard; sushi expert and KellyDeli head of food product innovation Silla Bjerrum; Stanley Pubs founder Amanda Pritchett; Seafood Pub Company founder Joycelyn Neve; and Prezzo executive chairman Karen Jones. Also taking part are Kanishka Holdings managing director Tina English, Livelyhood chief executive and owner Sarah Wall, Oatopia owner Tamar Coleman, The Chilli Pickle founder Dawn Sperring, Bombay Burrito owner Maria Savage, Farmer Copleys owner Heather Copley, Goldfinger Factory founder Marie Cudennec, Hola Guacamole owner Margarita Garcia, and Yum Bun founder Lisa Meyer. Tickets are £295 plus VAT for Propel Premium subscribers and £345 plus VAT for others. They can be booked by emailing or calling her on 01444 817691.

Almost three-fifths of diners expect minimum four-star hygiene rating: Almost three-fifths (58%) of diners wouldn’t knowingly eat at a food outlet that has a less than four-star hygiene rating, according to new research by health and safety firm Navitas Group. The survey of almost 2,000 people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland who had eaten at a restaurant or bought a takeaway in the past month found a three-star rating was considered adequate by little more than one-quarter (27%), while 45% said fours stars was the minimum rating they look for and 13% would only eat at five-star venues. More than four-fifths (83%) said they would “probably not” or “definitely not” return to a restaurant or takeaway if they discovered it had a low hygiene rating, even if they had enjoyed eating there before. Almost two-fifths (37%) said they would “definitely not” return. The display of food hygiene ratings isn’t mandatory in England as it is in Wales and Northern Ireland, and fewer than one-fifth (19%) of English respondents “always check” the food hygiene rating of a restaurant or takeaway before using them. Navitas Group technical director Bob Mackay said: “Eating out has never been so popular and the choices so varied. Our research shows people want to make informed choices and be confident the food they’re eating away from home has been stored, prepped and cooked safely and correctly and to good hygiene standards.” Last week, Just Eat announced it would publish the food hygiene rating of all restaurants on its delivery platform and has removed all zero-rated restaurants from its platform.

BBPA – Pubs Code ‘working in an acceptable way’: Most aspects of the Pubs Code are “working in an acceptable way” considering the complexity of the legislation and how long it has been in place, the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has stated. Responding to the statutory review of the code, the BBPA said feedback it had received from the six pub companies covered by the code indicated the average length of occupation and number of enquiries regarding new tenancies had increased since the code came into place. It said new tenancy options introduced to the market had given prospective tenants wider choice on “how they ran their pub to suit their financial position and operating experience”. The BBPA said the majority of tenants and lessees were “satisfied with their pub company overall” and were “more likely than not to recommend them to another licensee”. However, the BBPA raised concerns some aspects of the code, such as Market Rent Only (MRO) agreements, should be improved to provide “clarity and certainty for all parties involved”. BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “It is still early days for a code that had no transition period and where guidance and decision-making has been slow. On that basis, this review should acknowledge the code is a work in progress. The government and adjudicator should work more closely with industry and tenants to ensure leased and tenanted pubs remain a great way to run a business for many generations to come.”

Hospitality Scotland calls for short-term letting registration and licensing scheme: Hospitality Scotland has written to the Scottish government calling for a mandatory registration and licensing scheme for short-term letting. Responding to a consultation on the matter, UKHospitality executive director for Scotland Willie Macleod said: “Home-sharing and short-term letting platforms continue to operate at an unfair advantage, arguably sometimes at the margins of the law, and the time has come for mandatory registration. The rise in popularity of home-sharing platforms has revolutionised tourism and hospitality and has provided a huge amount of choice for consumers. That is to be welcomed but those who wish to let rooms should do so in compliance with the law. A registration and licensing scheme would help local authorities enforce rules, which are designed to keep people safe. There is also the potential for people to abuse the system as things stand. By acting in bad faith they can avoid the restrictions other businesses comply with and are estimated to deny the taxman hundreds of millions of pounds. Everyone ought to play by the rules. We don’t want to take away choice for customers or prevent people from letting their room. We want a fair and level playing field for everyone and that’s why we need a registration and licensing system.”

Operators support first Team Margot Pinkspiration Week: Operators are lending their support to the first Team Margot Pinkspiration Week, which runs until Tuesday, 30 July. Pub, bar and casual dining operators, with more than 700 outlets between them, are joining the activity including All Our Bars, Arc Inspirations, Beds and Bars, Casual Dining Group, Cirrus Inns, Fuller’s, Glendola Leisure, New World Trading Company and Yummy Pubs, while UKHospitality and the British Institute of Innkeeping are encouraging members to back the campaign. Unlike most charity initiatives, Pinkspiration Week doesn’t aim to raise money but encourages people to register as stem cell and bone marrow donors. The campaign links to the Team Margot Atlantic Row, when a team of four fathers will take part in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge in December. Their aim is to encourage 1.5 million new registrations to correspond with the number of strokes it will take them to complete the 3,000-mile journey under the banner “We Row, You Register”. Team Margot was founded by industry entrepreneur Yaser Martini in 2015 in memory of his daughter Margot and to honour her legacy after she lost her battle with blood cancer aged two. Anyone who is in general good health and aged between 17 and 55 can join the register via a simple swab test.

Company News:

TRG launches south east Asian delivery concept: The Restaurant Group (TRG), the Wagamama and Frankie & Benny’s operator, has further ramped up its portfolio of delivery brands by launching south east Asian concept Jumping Pans, Propel has learned. The concept joins the group’s other delivery brand – Pyjama Hotel – in being made available through UberEats and Just Eat out of the Foodstars unit in Battersea, south London. A TRG spokesman said research for Jumping Pans had seen its team venture across south east Asia “cherry-picking the best, most flavourful recipes”. He added: “Inspired from real insights, local culture and pan-Asian energetic cooking methods, our dishes allow you to travel through taste within one order, enjoyed in the comfort of your own home.” Chinese mains include, beef and black bean, and kung pao beef (both £9.95); Thai and Malaysian mains include pad kra pao chicken (£9.95) and Massaman duck curry (£10.95); while vegetarian and vegan mains include chow mein (£7.50) and vegan coconut jungle curry (£7.95). Last week, Propel revealed TRG had added a further burger delivery concept through its Frankie & Benny’s brand. The group has started to roll out Stacks, which comes with the slogan: “Stack it up, pack it in and we’ll begin.” Stacks offers eight burgers priced between £5 and £8 including chicken katsu, buffalo blue and smoky beet. Last year TRG launched virtual brands Burger Burger and Kick Ass Burrito through its Frankie & Benny’s and Chiquito concepts respectively. Earlier this year Propel revealed it had added a further two virtual brands to its portfolio. Through Chiquito it now offers the Cornstar Tacos virtual brand in circa 40 sites, while the new Birdbox brand, which focuses on chicken and burgers, is available through Frankie & Benny’s.

Franco Manca founders to launch pasta concept: The founders of Franco Manca are to launch a pasta concept that will make its debut at the Seven Dials Market being launched by street food business Kerb. Bridget Hugo and Giuseppe Mascoli, who founded Franco Manco in 2008, will launch Strozzapreti with Andrea Beccaceci. Strozzapreti will aim to introduce a fresh approach to pasta with its three-course menu featuring simple antipasti and twists on classic Italian pudding ingredients. Fresh pasta will be made from durum flour and organic English spelt. Hugo said: “Tasting and designing is the most creative and fun part of producing food and I’ve taken a lot of inspiration working with Beccaceci and Mascoli to establish these entirely new pasta dishes. After a decade working in Italian cooking, I am still impressed how Italians seem to know better than anyone what good ingredients taste like and how to make them work in a simple and healthy way.” The concept will launch in September at Seven Dials Market, which will be housed in 19th century Thomas Neal’s Warehouse. It will be joined by a second site for Japanese soul food restaurant Nanban, which was founded by 2011 MasterChef winner Tim Anderson. Nanban Central will take influences from Afro-Caribbean, Latin American and Middle Eastern cuisine for its ramen flavours and builds on Anderson’s Brixton site that opened in 2015. The 22,000 square foot Seven Dials market will feature 26 traders over two floors. Strozzapreti and Nanban will join the world’s first cheese conveyer belt restaurant, which is being launched by Cheese Truck founder Mathew Carver, alongside other operators such as Mexican-inspired vegan street food restaurant Club Mexicana, bao concept Yum Bun and fried fish trader Ink.

Wirral-based restaurant Silk Rd reveals plans for seven-strong estate as it prepares to open fourth site: Wirral-based Silk Rd, the restaurant concept inspired by the Silk Road trail, has revealed plans for a seven-strong estate as it prepares to open its fourth venue. Silk Rd will double its presence in Liverpool city centre by launching a venue in Hope Street on Wednesday (24 July) to add to its Beetham Plaza outlet. Founders Chris Williams and Javier Mellado have invested more than £200,000 in the new restaurant and taken on 25 staff. Williams said: “Having established our business in the heart of the business district it’s great to expand into Hope Street. It’s an exciting time to run a small and independent group of restaurants in the north west and we have plans to grow to seven in the coming years.” Williams and Mellado opened the debut Silk Rd in Heswall in July 2017. It also has a site in Bramhall, Greater Manchester.

Three Joes reports double-digit like-for-like growth at both sites in first half of year, strengthens team: Sourdough pizza restaurant Three Joes, co-founded by Tim Hall, founder of London-based healthy eating brand Pod, has reported double-digit like-for-like growth at both its sites in the first half of 2019. The company, which Hall co-owns with ex-Pod food director Emma Blackmore and former Byron operations director Peter Bruton, is focusing on further growth. With that in mind Ollie Spratley, who was responsible for the “centre of excellence” at Byron, has recently joined Three Joes to support new stores opening manager Sarah Goode. Three Joes, which has sites in Fareham and Winchester, is also ranked number one on TripAdvisor for pizzerias in Hampshire. Hall said: “Both Three Joes sites have been buzzing in 2019. We have everything we need now to grow this business so we are focused on finding great sites in new towns with foodie customers. We hope to make an announcement soon about next steps.” Blackmore added: “To see such storming growth for the first half of 2019 is remarkable. You never quite know with a new brand whether you are delivering an experience that’s going to excite customers or feel run of the mill in such a saturated market but we’re clearly ripping a disproportionate volume of business away from the chain restaurants nearby, which is something we hear a lot from our customers. They’re rewarding us for taking personal risk and being truly independent.” Bruton said: “The most positive thing for me is loyal customers now trust us sufficiently that participation level in Emma’s one-off creations such as our new Greek salad pizza and local craft beer range are off the scale. People believe in her creativity and judgment and are cheerleading us on to keep innovating. For me, that represents the hallmark of a brand that has legs in today’s market place.”

JD Wetherspoon stops issuing receipts: JD Wetherspoon has become the first large business to stop using receipts, although customers can still request them. Stephen Simpson, of Keighley, West Yorkshire, asked founder Tim Martin in a letter published in the company’s latest magazine: “I am wondering why you have stopped issuing receipts for meals at your pubs? Twice I have ordered meals with side orders as extras. Both times the side orders never arrived, leaving me wondering whether I had ordered them in the first place. With a receipt, I would be able to see exactly what I ordered and show the staff what may be missing.” Martin replied: “We no longer issue receipts as a matter of course. However, if you ask a member of staff you can get one this way.” Shops are gradually reducing their use of paper. Stores such as Topshop, Urban Outfitters, Gap, Clarks, New Look, Mothercare and Halfords all offer e-receipts as an alternative as many shopping receipts can’t be recycled. A Wetherspoon spokesman told the Daily Telegraph: “We stopped because it created a mess at the bar, was a hassle for the pub teams, and was a waste of paper and money as the customers didn’t really want them either.”

Padella team eyes Shoreditch for next opening: The team behind Padella is looking to open a second site for the pasta restaurant concept, in Shoreditch, Propel understands. Tim Siadatan and Jordan Frieda, who are also behind Italian restaurant Trullo in Highbury, north London, are thought to have lined up a unit in the Workspace building in Phipp Street. They opened the first Padella in Borough Market, Southwark Street, three years ago at the site of former cafe De Gustibus. All pasta is made fresh on-site shortly before being served. Padella has built a reputation for good value and generating queues around the block.

Matt Healy’s Seventh Course to open first site with Star Pubs & Bars this week, plans period of consolidation: MasterChef finalist Matt Healy and his company Seventh Course will open their first pub, The Beehive in Thorner, near Leeds, on Saturday (27 July) following a joint £180,000 refurbishment with Star Pubs & Bars. The Beehive will be the third Seventh Course site following Matt Healy x The Foundry and Grön Kafé, both in Leeds. The venue will offer a gastro-pub feel under the strapline “nowt fancy” and focus on simple pub classics. Seventh Course expects The Beehive to have a 40/60 wet/dry split. Healy said: “The Beehive is perfect for our first gastro pub-style venture. Leeds has a shortage of high-quality destination pubs away from the city centre. Thorner is a beautiful village and easy to reach from the middle of Leeds so we hope The Beehive will start to fill that gap while catering for the community.” Seventh Course director Dale Wynter added: “Our business is growing and we don’t want to tie up capital in buying property at this stage so a leased pub is ideal. We’ll consider more pubs with Star but in the short term we are concentrating on consolidation of our three sites.” Star Pubs & Bars operations director Grant Morgan-Tolworthy said: “The Seventh Course directors have a brilliant range of business experience between them and bring a fresh approach to the pub industry. Their entrepreneurialism, combined with Matt’s talent, promises to make The Beehive another success.” Healy was runner-up on the 2016 series of MasterChef: The Professionals.

Robinsons reports 59% rise in sales of no and low-alcohol brands: North west brewer and retailer Robinsons has reported a 59% year-on-year increase in sales of no and low-alcohol beer and cider. The company said sales in its managed pubs were up 209%, with almost every site seeing treble-digit growth, while 75% of its tenanted businesses were in category growth. Robinsons said the key to its success was promoting better-known brands accompanied by a few lesser-known ones, while marketing director David Bremner also attributed the increase to the introduction of Heineken 0.0% on draught using the blade system. Bremner said: “We need to keep this in context but three of our top ten packaged beers are now no or low alcohol and represent more than 16% of packaged beer sales, which is way above industry average. This is obviously influenced by more health-conscious millennials but we’re finding groups of core customers are also switching on certain occasions, particularly for draught.” In May, Robinsons sold its “free trade” beer business to licensed drinks company LWC.

House of Fraser appoints CDG Leisure to develop Frasers F&B strategy with turnover-based agreements: Department store House of Fraser has appointed CDG Leisure to oversee and develop the food and beverage strategy for Frasers, the new breed of luxury lifestyle stores unveiled earlier this year. A number of Frasers stores will open across the UK in the next five years under Sports Direct Group’s head of elevation Michael Murray, turning House of Fraser sites into “modern, agile, inspiring spaces”. Each new Frasers store will house a localised selection of the group’s brands with a strong food and beverage offer key to the new approach. CDG Leisure chairman David Abramson said: “CDG Leisure is seeking to secure food and beverage operators for prime spaces in Frasers under turnover-based agreements. By avoiding fixed property costs, which have become problematic for many high-street operators, they can focus on bringing elevated quality and value to the consumer – something that’s clearly key to the Frasers strategy. In essence, this new breed of lifestyle stores will offer a win-win, sustainable approach to leasing, which is in line with operator demand.”

Travelodge reveals plans for more seaside sites on back of staycation boom: Travelodge has revealed plans to open more hotels in seaside resorts as it looks to take advantage of the staycation boom. The company said it was looking to open 26 hotels in coastal towns under a multimillion-pound investment, creating 650 jobs. Travelodge opened its first seaside hotel in Brighton in 1999 and has now opened its 36th, in Rhyl, North Wales. New locations include Lerwick on the Shetlands, Pwllheli in North Wales and areas of Cornwall, Jersey and Guernsey. Travelodge UK development director Tony O’Brien said: “We are seeing the rebirth of British seaside resorts and coastal towns as a result of Britons’ changing holiday habits. We are becoming a strong staycation nation that likes to take lots of short breaks throughout the year rather than a traditional two-week holiday. To support this growing trend we are looking to enter new markets and extend our network of coastal location hotels so we can offer more choice and greater value. There are significant regeneration and modernisation projects taking place in seaside towns and cities across the UK and we have identified 26 coastal areas that could benefit from a Travelodge hotel.”

Barshu Group to open third BaoziInn site, in Borough this week: The team behind Barshu Restaurant in Soho, which offers spicy Sichuan specialities, will open a third London site for its BaoziInn concept this week. The debut BaoziInn, which means “people’s canteen”, is in Stoney Street, Southwark, with a second site having launched in Try Market Halls Victoria. Now the team will open a flagship site in Southwark Street, Borough, on Saturday (27 July). The venue will span three floors and include a large open kitchen on the ground floor and a cocktail bar and lounge on the first floor. The concept offers all-day Cantonese dim sum with Sichuan and Hunan influences. Signature dishes include prawn and pork wontons, and handmade dan dan noodles. Decor is a “modern, yet comfortable take on a Mao-style canteen”. Cantonese roast meat will be a central part of the Borough restaurant, with new dishes such as chef’s special recipe barbeque roast duck and caramelised barbeque roast pork, reports Hot Dinners.

D&D London overhauls Quaglino’s menu as part of sustainability drive: D&D London has overhauled the food and drinks menu at Mayfair restaurant Quaglino’s ahead of its 90th anniversary in a bid to enter its “next decade sustainably”. The restaurant has taken steps to remove unsustainable products from its business model, including using surplus food, removing unethical items such as foie gras from the menu, cutting plastic waste and transforming the kitchen to cut its carbon footprint. All Quaglino’s herbs are now grown in Vauxhall-based gardens and delivered by bike, while the restaurant also accepts surplus food and wonky vegetables to minimise waste. Cocktails using surplus food prep have also been created, including Blossom, which the restaurant claims is the “world’s most sustainable cocktail”. A fuel-efficient grill will use less energy and cut the restaurant’s carbon footprint by 40%. Executive chef Nuno Goncalves told the Evening Standard: “We are taking all steps possible to reduce unethical and unsustainable products from our menu and keep our menu as local as possible. We have also removed foie gras from the menu because the way it is produced is unethical. No-one has asked for it since the change.” D&D London operates 41 restaurants and bars and one hotel, principally in London but with venues in Leeds, Manchester, Paris and New York.

Flight Club opens Birmingham site for fifth UK venue: Social darts concept Flight Club has opened a site in Birmingham. The company has launched the venue at a former TSB bank branch in Temple Street. The decor is a nod to darts’ fairground roots, with a carousel-style bar and carnival lights. Flight Club operates three sites in London – in Bloomsbury, Shoreditch and Victoria – plus a venue in Manchester. It also has a site in Chicago, which is operated under licence by Social Entertainment Ventures, while a second US venue will open this autumn, in Boston. Meanwhile the team behind Flight Club will launch its shuffleboard concept, Electric Shuffle, in Canary Wharf before the end of the year.

Southwark Council leader ‘confident’ new home will be found for borough’s last LGBT+ club: Southwark Council leader Peter John has said he is confident a new venue will be found for XXL, the borough’s last LGBT+ nightclub. The venue has operated from railway arches near Blackfriars Bridge since 2011. However the site, along with adjacent Ludgate House and Sampson House, has been earmarked for a £1.3bn redevelopment that would include 34-storey towers with 489 apartments, a hotel, offices and shops. XXL opened in 2000 but has been served with an eviction notice after losing a court appeal. Club owners James McNeil and Mark Ames addressed a council assembly, asking for more protection for LGBT+ venues and for help to remain in Southwark. John said he was confident a solution would be found and he would add his voice to calls for the club to remain open.

Northamptonshire-based operators open dinosaur-themed diner in former Chimichanga site in Kettering: Northamptonshire-based operators Joe Mordawska and Natalie Matts have opened a dinosaur-themed diner in Kettering for their second site. They have invested £125,000 to convert the former Prezzo-owned Chimichanga site in Market Place into Jurassic Grill. The venue features a “smoke-filled volcano” and 30 “life-like” dinosaurs under a rainforest canopy, reports The Northants Telegraph. The restaurant serves themed dishes focusing on grilled and smoked meat. Mordawska and Matts also run the Little Country Smokehouse in Cransley.

Cokey Sulkin talks about inspiration behind Dirty Bones in exclusive interview: Cokey Sulkin, co-founder and chief executive of US comfort food and cocktails brand Dirty Bones, has talked about the inspiration behind the brand in an exclusive interview. Sulkin talks to Mario C Bauer, AmRest brand ambassador and Curtice Brothers co-founder and WhiteSpace partner, as part of the Curtice Brothers’ “Teddy Talks” series. Sulkin also discusses the importance of company culture and why obsession might be the “best thing for business”. Propel readers have been given access to the 30-minute interview, which can be seen here. Dirty Bones operates four sites in London and one in Oxford.

Whitbread to open Premier Inn and Bar + Block at Reading shopping centre: Whitbread is set to open a 101-bedroom Premier Inn with a 150-cover Bar + Block restaurant at Broad Street Mall in Reading. Inception (Reading) Sarl, which owns the shopping centre, has been granted approval for the scheme by Reading Borough Council. Broad Street Mall is managed by Moorgarth Group. Managing director Gary Lewis told Insider Media “Premier Inn and Bar + Block are two great additions to the centre’s line-up and go some way to kick-starting ours and the council’s aspirations for the regeneration of this part of the town centre.” Moorgarth also gained permission from the council recently to launch a food hall concept at the centre.

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