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Tue 16th Jun 2020 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day: 

Sector CEOs and Deliveroo write to PM calling for urgent support for industry: Deliveroo and the chief executives of its leading restaurant partners, including Itsu, Pizza Hut, Pret A Manger and Wagamama, have called on the government to provide urgent support to the restaurant industry. In a letter to prime minister Boris Johnson, the 90 signatories representing more than 1,000 restaurants across the UK set out the need for swift action on key issues, such as cutting VAT on restaurant food and maintaining the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) for restaurants while social distancing measures are in place. Deliveroo said research it had carried out found 75% of its partners were concerned about making a profit while necessary social distancing requirements remain in place. Unless additional government support is provided, the signatories warn the “shuttered restaurants in towns and cities across the country will be a permanent reminder of the damage this pandemic has done”. The signatories state the crisis for the UK restaurant industry is far from over, with thousands of restaurants facing bankruptcy due to ongoing challenges posed by covid-19. In a detailed submission to the government, Deliveroo stated based on extensive consultation with partners large and small, it has formulated a series of key policy proposals, which would help the industry through this challenging period, adapt to the new economic environment and thrive in the future. As well as maintaining the CJRS and cutting VAT, the letter called for action on rent. Deliveroo has proposed a number of solutions, including “mortgage holidays” for landlords to give financial breathing space to restaurants in the form of lower rents, and an extension of the moratorium on evictions for as long as social distancing measures prevent restaurants from operating at full capacity. Other areas for proposed action include helping restaurants meet the cost of becoming covid-secure, a government-led campaign making clear restaurant food is safe and changes to planning law to enable restaurants to adapt operations more easily. On the latter, the submission called on the government to permanently allow restaurants to operate as takeaway services under permitted development rights as the government has allowed them to do on a temporary basis during the lock-down; reform the Licensing Act 2003 so pubs and restaurants with on-site alcohol licences are automatically enabled to sell alcohol via takeaway and delivery services; and enable restaurants to make full use of outside private and public space by ending the need for a “change of use” approval to place tables outside a restaurant or for a pavement licence to use public areas to serve people outside. Deliveroo chief executive and founder Will Shu said: “We are urging the government to implement this package of measures to ensure the UK’s amazing restaurant industry survives and then thrives.”

Industry News:

Sponsored message – Swoopos’ safe entry and ordering system goes live: Hospitality technology specialist Swoopos has worked with local government to develop a cutting-edge “safe entry and table ordering system” – Swoope Eat. Swoope was already one of the market leading table ordering and click-and-collect solutions – used the past four years at the UK hospitality’s largest event for more than 1,200 people on 140 tables all in one place. Swoopos stated: “We have made organic changes to the system in reaction to the covid guidelines in order to help operators safely manage capacity, entry and ordering, which will help build trust with customers again, as 65% of consumers feel nervous about returning to large crowds. The system is totally web based, so no need for apps, and even allows operators to charge for peak time entry slots to make extra cash available in these hard times. Plus the best part is it’s being subsidised with government help, which means for a limited time we can offer it as a free set up, with no licence fees or fixed contracts.” So get in touch today on or call 0121 270 7500 and quote “Propel Help” in order to get free set up. If you have information you would like to feature in a sponsored message, email

Trade bodies demand firm reopening date, as operators gamble on 4 July: Sector trade bodies have called on the government to give a clear date for when the hospitality industry can reopen as operators gamble on it still being 4 July. UKHospitality has written to ministers to reiterate the urgent need for clarity in order to bring back workers and resume business. Chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “If the sector is to reopen on 4 July that only gives us two weeks from this weekend, so time is of the essence. Friday’s GDP figures – with hospitality and tourism representing a quarter of the total decline – illustrated the powerful economic might of the sectors, so the country can ill-afford delaying their return to trading.” The BBPA has again asked for a clear, definitive date for when pubs can reopen to give the sector the “confidence and certainty it needs to get ready for reopening”. Fuller’s chief executive Simon Emeny said: “To ensure our pubs can reopen on 4 July I have to decide by Wednesday morning (17 June) whether we bring staff back from furlough and invest in the new safety protocols our pubs require to reopen safely. Without immediate and definitive confirmation from government it will allow pubs to reopen then, I cannot make this decision. This will delay investment, delay bringing our staff back to work to help plan our reopening, increase the costs for government and inevitably will mean our pubs will not be able to reopen.” St Austell Brewery chief executive Kevin Georgel added: “Like many other breweries we have been forced to take a significant gamble and start brewing draught beer again to ensure pubs can reopen on 4 July as per the government roadmap. Cask ale on average takes three weeks to brew and lager can often take longer. If pubs do not now open on 4 July, all of this beer will be lost at huge cost to us during this time of survival. It will join the 70 million pints that were wasted when pubs were forced to close in March. The government cannot allow this to happen again, we need confirmation immediately that pubs can reopen on 4 July.”

Operators consider pooling volumes to make savings: Large-scale hospitality operators from the dining, catering and pubs sectors are considering pooling their volume in order help manage costs. The initiative, which is being co-ordinated by Prestige Purchasing, is focused on high-volume commodity ingredients, such as cooking oil, butter, chicken and chips. These types of products are typically purchased direct from the manufacturer and are generally of similar specification across the whole sector. Initial analysis has shown dependent upon sector these product types represent between 5% and 25% of total spend. The project is open to any hospitality/foodservice business with a total pre-covid annual food spend in excess of £20m. Prestige Purchasing chief executive Shaun Allen said: “Hospitality businesses are facing unprecedented headwinds in the months and years ahead. In an environment where volumes will be weak and the opportunity to raise prices limited, operators need to leave no stone unturned in the quest to reduce cost per transaction. This initiative will provide an affordable means of substantially and measurably lowering costs, without any compromise to the customer experience.” Chairman David Read added: “Our long-standing reputation for integrity, transparency and professional project management has helped greatly with getting this project off the ground. We look forward to working with the sector to create the optimum outcomes for all.” For more information, click here.
Prestige Purchasing is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

Adnams CEO – we need coherence and consistency from the government: Andy Wood, chief executive of Suffolk brewer and retailer Adnams, has said it is crucial the sector gets some consistency in policy making from the government. Speaking as part of Propel’s “navigating the coronavirus” series, Wood said: “I understand from its perspective this is a thoroughly fast-moving environment and there is no roadmap for this but sending signals to an industry, which is as important as ours, such as you can all run around and open up on 22 June is unhelpful. I think sometimes it is underestimated how complex our industry is. You have the downstream issues with staff and customers, and the upstream issues with quite complex supply chains and manufacturing processes. To ramp that up takes time and it needs the industry to be able to plan against a consistent and coherent policy, and not to be too critical, but I would have liked the government to have been more consistent around what it has done.” Wood said he expects 80% to 90% of the company’s managed pubs to open around 4 July, if allowed. He said: “We are working on this in two ways for our managed pubs. Firstly introducing cashless and using online booking, ordering and payment apps. Secondly, in regards to outside areas, we are looking at introducing, where possible, tepees, marquees and more toilet facilities.” Wood will share more of his thoughts in the video, which will be released on Tuesday (16 June).

Review into two-metre rule ‘could take weeks’: A review into the two-metre rule could take weeks, small business minister Paul Scully has said. He said the government did not want to be “rushed into decisions” when asked about reducing the two-metre social distancing rule. The government is coming under increasing pressure from Tory backbenchers and business leaders to reduce the rule to allow more businesses to open. Prime minister Boris Johnson has ordered a “comprehensive” review of the regulation in England. Scully told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme: “It will take a matter of weeks to do but we want to make sure we get the best scientific advice. We can look at the international comparisons because clearly you have countries such as Germany where it’s one-and-a-half metres and in America it’s one-metre so we can see how those differences land in terms of the health guidance.”

Peter Backman – suppliers that have refocused on retail may not return to foodservice: Sector analyst Peter Backman has warned suppliers that have refocused their business on retail during lock-down may not return to foodservice. Backman said: “Unlike in America where two supply ecosystems exist – one for retail and one for foodservice – in the UK, with one or two notable exceptions (such as among the larger distributors), there is a single chain in which foodservice plays a subsidiary role to retail. There are two points to note; the first is companies in this food supply chain have generally benefited from the growth in retail markets since lock-down. And the second point is looking forward into the long-term future, I think we can be reassured, although its shape and size is a matter of massive debate, there will be a functioning foodservice sector. When these two considerations are put together, it suggests those businesses that have benefited from growth in retail will want to consider what their role will be in foodservice in the longer term. Some will decide foodservice is not for them (and this could be for any number of reasons perhaps because of a prior bruising experience of the sector), others will decide to put off any consideration for the future. But some manufacturers and others in the supply chain will want to decide that right now is the time to map out the future.”

Sales of DIY meal kits shoot up 114% and takeaways see 39% growth in April, spend on delivery services rises 15% in past year: Sales of DIY meal kits shot up 114% in April compared with last year, while takeaways grew 39%, according to data from purchase intelligence platform Cardlytics. It said the introduction of lock-down has opened the door for online retail and delivery services to flourish as the country sought to recreate restaurant recipes in their kitchens and swapped their meals out for takeaways. Meanwhile, spend in restaurants plummeted 96% as they were forced to shut dine-in operations under the new restrictions. Beyond lock-down, the popularity of delivery services has been on an upward trajectory and shows no sign of slowing, said Cardlytics. Consumer spend on delivery services rose 15% in the year to April, driven by a higher number of transactions per customer. In the past year consumers spent 36% more on meal kits than they did the year before, while takeaway services enjoyed a 21% rise in spending across the year. The number of transactions per customer was up 10% across all delivery services between May 2019 and April 2020 compared with the year before, while spend per customer increased 10% during this period.

Two-thirds of pub-goers confident of returning after reopening: Two-thirds (65%) of pub-goers and beer drinkers are confident about returning to the pub when they reopen, according to new research by the Campaign of Real Ale (CAMRA). A survey of 22,000 pub-goers found only 4% were “extremely unconfident” about returning to their local. CAMRA national chairman Nik Antona said: “It’s really encouraging our survey shows most people are confident they can safely return to pubs, whether that’s outside in beer gardens or inside following social distancing measures. As pubs reopen in the next few weeks in England and then in Scotland it is essential they get support from local communities – especially as many will face reduced trade as a result of social distancing. CAMRA will continue to support those pubs offering takeaway and delivery services while things get back to normal. Now, more than ever, we need to use our pubs or else risk losing them forever.” CAMRA's beer ordering app Brew2You allows people to order takeaway and deliveries from pubs in their area, while the “Pulling Together” campaign page lists services from pubs, breweries and cider producers across the country. 

Northern Ireland brings forward pub and restaurant reopening date to 3 July: The Northern Ireland executive has agreed to bring forward the reopening of pubs, restaurants and hotels to 3 July. Economy minister Diane Dodds made the announcement after the executive met on Monday (15 June) to discuss fast-tracking the hospitality sector’s reopening. She said the indicative dates were “depending on the transmission of the virus and making sure we put public health and safety and lives ahead of everything else”. From Friday, 26 June, caravan parks, camp sites and self-contained tourist accommodation will be able to reopen. A week later on Friday 3 July, hotels, restaurants, cafes, coffee shops, pubs and bars will be able to welcome customers back. Pubs and bars opening on that date will have to offer table service. Leisure and spa facilities at hotels will have to remain closed. No decision has been made by the executive on whether to reduce the social distancing measure in Northern Ireland from two metres to one.

NTIA and Ei Group tenants call for more rent support from landlord: The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) and pub tenants of Global Mutual are calling on the investment and management fund to offer more support over rents. Global Mutual purchased some 370 primarily freehold sites from Ei Group in 2019, with operations overseen by Jersey-registered Tavern Propco. Tenants, many of whom negotiated for a free-of-tie lease from Ei Group, have now united to ask Global Mutual for support over rent given their pubs are closed. NTIA chief executive Michael Kill said: “As demonstrated during the lock-down, the pub and bar culture is so ingrained in our society and so quintessentially British – and it needs help. We are calling on Global Mutual to help its tenants.” 

Cancellations still outweighing bookings across UK hotels: Cancellations are still outweighing bookings across UK hotel markets, according to the latest data from STR. Director Thomas Emanuel said while there were some forward booking “peaks” in Edinburgh and Belfast for August and September, business on the books for London remains below 10%. Looking at the data, Emanuel said cancellations were currently outweighing bookings until at least October and while there was a slight pick-up from then “there were still no signs of a recovery as yet”. Emanuel also pointed out the 14-day quarantine period introduced by the government for people coming into the UK would also have a major impact “and we can only hope while public health has to be the number one priority, this restriction is able to be lifted soon”. Across the UK, occupancy remained static in the week ending 7 June, at about 30% on weekdays and 20% at weekends, with demand coming from long-stay guests and key workers. Average daily rate was down 44% compared with the previous year, while revpar during the period was down between 80% and 89% over the seven-day period.

Plan B to stage ‘Authentic Leadership’ webinar: Plan B, the mentoring platform that helps women in the sector move up to board-level roles, is holding the first in a series of webinars with the theme of “Authentic Leadership” on Monday, 22 June from 2pm to 3pm. Speakers will include Aisling Kemp, director of Teampak consulting, who was previously board director and non-executive director at The Billington Group; Jackie Cupper, hospitality and facility management services consultant, who was previously head of service performance and development at GSK; and Hugh Dickerson, senior industry head at Google. Plan B founders Ann Elliott, Emma Causer and Holly Addison said the webinar was being staged after noticing three consistent themes emerging from mentees. These have been “how to be an authentic leader”, “how to avoid imposter syndrome” and “how to promote yourself”. To register for the webinar, click here.

Foodservice operators launch Responsible Business Recovery Forum: Foodservice operators, including brewer and retailer Greene King, InterContinental Hotels Group and TGI Friday’s, have united with sustainability expert Footprint to form the Responsible Business Recovery Forum (RBRF). The forum has been formed to promote peer-to-peer learning and industry collaboration as operators and supply chains “grapple with a very different, post-covid, market place”. The group’s objective is to collaborate to aid an “efficient, industry-wide recovery, while anticipating future trends”. The RBBF said it features “a community of progressive businesses learning and sharing for past, present and the future”. It said: “Businesses will need to plan for future scenarios and as we emerge from the crisis, the focus will once again be on sustainability. There will be pressure from government, investors, non-government organisations and media to address environmental issues such as single-use plastic, food waste, supply chains and sustainable diets. Not to mention issues such as employment, Brexit impact and financial constraints in the face of a changing political and international landscape. Being on the front foot will be vital.”

Job of the day: COREcruitment is supporting a hospitality and leisure business as it looks to appoint a HR director. Based in London with the opportunity of flexible working, the role will have a strong management responsibility with a team of four, including HR and learning and development. The role will report into and support the chief executive as they look to implement systems and structure for future growth. This position will suite a HR director who is very operational while also having good strategy experience. It is essential the incoming HR director has extensive hospitality or leisure experience as well as proven management skills. Anyone interested in finding out more can email 
COREcruitment is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

Company News:

Shepherd Neame announces further rental concessions for tenants: Kent brewer and retailer Shepherd Neame has announced further rental concessions for its tenants over the next few months to allow a phased recovery for licensees from the current crisis. This follows its cancellation of all pub rent for licensees throughout the period of closure, totalling more than £2.5m to date. The new temporary policy will provide licensees with a 70% discount on their prevailing contractual rent, effective for four weeks from the date pubs are allowed to reopen. This will then be followed by a 50% discount in month two, a 40% discount in month three and a 30% discount in month four. This is on the assumption pubs open with two-metre social distancing, reduced to one metre by the end of July. If the social distancing guidelines result in licensees being unable to open their pub due to the small nature of their premises, further individual support will be considered. Shepherd Neame will issue a further communication during October on the proposed rent concessions from 2 November until April 2021 when it is anticipated full rent will recommence. In addition, Shepherd Neame is also providing covid-19 risk assessment templates, signage and thermometers to help licensees reopen safely, and assistance in processing beer ullage. Chief executive Jonathan Neame said: “We want to ensure we continue to support our licensees financially in the reopening process, to protect their businesses for the future.” Shepherd Neame has also resumed brewing cask ale having focused its efforts on producing bottled beer for supermarkets and its online shop during lock-down.

D&D London begins reopening estate as Bluebird Chelsea and German Gymnasium offer takeaway and delivery: Restaurant operator D&D London has begun reopening, with its Bluebird site in Chelsea and German Gymnasium restaurant in King’s Cross offering takeaway and delivery. Bluebird is offering a selection of dishes from Wednesday to Sunday between noon and 9pm including half or whole rotisserie Lancashire chicken, served with potato salad, spring coleslaw and gravy; and its Bluebird burger, cheese, gem lettuce, house sauce, pickles and fries. There is also a range of drinks to purchase, including beer, wine and champagne. Meanwhile, German Gymnasium is offering its Mittal-European-inspired menu from Wednesday to Sunday between noon and 8.30pm. Dishes on the menu include Käsekrainer – smoked and grilled cheese pork sausage, sauerkraut, truffled potato puree and crispy onions; and Chicken Jäger Schnitzel – breaded chicken breast, mushroom sauce and chips. There is also a selection of German beer as well as soft drinks and wine. Delivery is being offered via Deliveroo.

Creams click-and-collect sales up almost 11% week on week: Dessert parlour operator Creams has said in the week to 12 June its click-and-collect sales through Just Eat increased almost 11% on the prior week. It said this increase built on “steady week-on-week growth” in click-and-collect orders through May and into June. Since the beginning of April, Creams said it had achieved a 67% increase in year-on-year delivery sales, supported by increased geo-targeted digital marketing. Since early May, an increasing trend for click-and-collect fulfilment has emerged, which the company said it believed could be an important indicator that consumers are ready to return to restaurants once lock-down ends. Chief executive Adam Mani said: “While we have achieved exceptionally strong year-on-year growth in delivery sales since April, we are particularly encouraged by the noticeable and consistent growth trend in click-and-collect orders in recent weeks. The near-11% week-on-week growth last week was achieved despite wetter and colder weather up and down the country. This gives us real confidence there has been a shift in consumers’ mindsets, which can only be positive for restaurants when we are able to reopen.”

Comptoir Libanais starts reopening for delivery and takeaway: Comptoir Group, the owner and operator of Lebanese and eastern Mediterranean restaurants, has begun the reopening of its Comptoir Libanais estate for delivery and takeaway. Propel understands the company has reopened its site in London’s Gloucester Road for delivery and takeaway through Deliveroo and UberEats. It is thought other sites will come online over the next few weeks. 

Hawthorn Leisure promotes three senior leaders to executive committee: Hawthorn Leisure, the community pub company of NewRiver, has promoted three senior leaders to its executive committee. Ed Little, Andy Parker and Mark Brooke will all take up new positions, joining chief executive Mark Davies, chief financial officer Matt Ward and chief operating officer Edith Monfries. Parker is promoted to director of leased and tenanted operations. Having previously held the role of operations director, north, he will now oversee Hawthorn Leisure’s entire leased and tenanted portfolio of almost 600 pubs across the UK. Brooke, who joined Hawthorn Leisure earlier this year, becomes director of managed operations. Previously working at Ei Group, where he had been divisional director, running the Beacon division, Brooke’s promotion will see him continue to take responsibility for Hawthorn’s growing operator managed division, which now constitutes more than 100 pubs across the UK. Property director Little was a founding member of the Hawthorn Leisure team, and is promoted to the executive committee having returned to the business in 2019 after a year at MOD Pizza as head of acquisitions. Davies said: “We pride ourselves on developing great people right throughout our business, and it’s a sign of real strength and depth we’ve been able to promote three people from within to join our executive committee. I’m looking forward to the fresh perspectives and insight they will bring to the executive committee as we and our tenants and partners navigate a period that will present challenges and opportunities in the future.” In addition, Davies has recently joined the board of the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), as well as taking up the role of chairman of the BBPA finance committee.

Wrapchic reopens first batch of sites for delivery and takeout: Fusion fast-food business Wrapchic has begun a phased reopening of its 18-strong estate, with four of its sites launching delivery and takeaway from Monday (15 June). Propel understands the company, which was acquired out of administration last year, has initially reopened its sites in Watford, Birmingham’s Bullring, Milton Keynes and Wembley. The company collapsed into administration last year after shareholders refused to lend further funds as it continued making losses as a result of being responsible for franchisees’ liabilities. The business, which at one point operated 27 sites across the UK, was purchased by Zampor, with the company’s intellectual property being assigned to Fairway Commerce. Both companies are registered at the same address as Wrapchic. The director of the companies is Atul Patel, who is also a director of Wrapchic.

200 Degrees shelves expansion plans: Nottingham-based coffee roaster and retailer 200 Degrees has said it has shelved its plans for further expansion following the coronavirus pandemic. The company, which has 11 outlets across the UK, has reopened a number of its outlets for takeaway, but said any new sites have been mothballed. Speaking at a webinar organised by PR firm Cartwright Communications, 200 Degrees co-owner Rob Darby said: “We reopened with a range of measures to keep our customers and staff safe and we have found leaner ways of working but the foundations of our business are built on personal service and our relationships with our customers, which we will never want to let go of. While we’ve seen massive growth in the last number of years, a few sites we were in agreement on with landlords have all now been mothballed. We are not looking to expand now, just to get through this, come out the other side, and reach a point where we are trading profitably again. Once we’ve found the platform of stability, then hopefully we’ll continue our expansion in the future.”

Uber abandons delivery kitchens plan: Uber has abandoned a plan to run its own food delivery kitchens. Since November 2018, Uber had run an “Eats Delivery Hub” in Paris, renting kitchen space to restaurateurs to make delivery food for its Eats business. But as part of a drive to cut costs and focus on profitability, it quietly closed the operation. Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty, head of Uber Eats, told the FT: “At this point, we don’t have a desire ourselves to own real estate. We’ve had a few pilots, but no intention at this stage to start our own proprietary network of dark kitchens, or warehouses or however you call them.” Uber said it would focus on persuading existing restaurants to create new menus and brands to be cooked at the same location. 

JD Wetherspoon to consider name change for Wrexham pub due to slave trade links: JD Wetherspoon has said it will consider a change of name for a Wrexham pub due to links to the slave trade. It follows the launch of a petition asking for The Elihu Yale in Regent Street to be retitled in light of the Black Lives Matters movement, which saw hundreds turn out to a peaceful protest against racism in the Welsh town. As an official for the East India Company in Madras, Yale presided over a key part of the Indian Ocean slave trade, and is better known as the benefactor of Yale University in the United States. A Wetherspoon spokesman told “We were not aware of any connections with the slave trade. We called it The Elihu Yale because he was involved in the foundation of what is now Yale University in the US, as we understand it. We will look into these allegations, which are very concerning. Wetherspoon is certainly willing to consider a change of name.”

The Columbo Group confirms first regional opening for The Blues Kitchen, in Manchester: The Columbo Group, led by Steve Ball and Riz Shaik, has confirmed the first regional opening for its The Blues Kitchen concept, in Manchester. As revealed by Propel earlier this month, The Columbo Group has secured the former Walkabout site in Quay Street, in the Deansgate area of the city. Launching in early 2021, the venue will have capacity for 600 people. Ball said: “When we decided to spread our wings it had to be Manchester – it’s such a cool city. It’s the only other city we’d consider doing anything in.” The Columbo Group, which was founded in 2006, currently operates three sites under the bar, restaurant and live music concept – in Camden, Brixton and Shoreditch. The company’s other London-based venues include the Jazz Café, XOYO, Phonox, The Old Queens Head and The Camden Assembly.

Starbucks reverses stance over ban on Black Lives Matter gear: Starbucks has reversed its stance banning baristas from wearing Black Lives Matter gear. In a letter to employees, the company said it was designing T-shirts for baristas to wear to “demonstrate our support and show we stand together in unity”. Until then, Starbucks employees will be permitted to wear Black Lives Matter pins and shirts, reports Nation’s Restaurant News. Starbucks has outwardly promoted the Black Lives Matter movement, and donated $1m to organisations that promote racial equality. But in the original internal memo, Starbucks expressed concern wearing gear in support of Black Lives Matter was against the company dress code policy, which specifically bans pins or buttons that “advocate a political, religious, or personal issue”. A Starbucks spokesman told BuzzFeed on Friday (12 June) the company was “dedicated to helping end systemic racism”, but the dress code would be remaining in place because it wanted to “create a safe and welcoming” work environment for employees and customers. In the revised letter to employees, Starbucks said: “Together, we’re saying: Black Lives Matter and it’s going to take all of us, working together, to affect change. That means using our voice to vote in our elections, volunteering in our black communities, joining local peaceful protests, ensuring our diverse slates of job candidates translate into diverse hires, mentoring and sponsoring partners of colour so they can reach their maximum potential and taking steps to build greater understanding with empathy. Most importantly, it means ensuring we create a safe third place where you are seen, heard and valued.”

Peel Hunt – we’re more confident Cineworld can trade profitably post-lock-down, expects Cineplex acquisition to still proceed: Peel Hunt leisure analyst Ivor Jones has said he is more confident Cineworld can trade profitably post-lock-down and expects its acquisition of Canadian operator Cineplex to still proceed “when tempers have cooled” Cineworld has said the $2.1bn deal will not go ahead on the previously agreed terms, claiming Cineplex is in breach of certain covenants, which the Canadian operator denied. Issuing a ‘Buy’ note on the Cineworld shares with a target price of 180p, Jones said: “We believe this is positive news from a Cineworld point of view. In the best case it does not complete a deal which, with the benefit of covid-19-adjusted hindsight, was agreed at the wrong price. Worst case – Cineworld is compelled to pay very material damages such that it would have been better off completing the acquisition but presumably it has taken advice on this risk. Cineplex's shares were trading at C$15 and the cash offer was C$34, so termination will, presumably, not come as a surprise to investors. Other positive news from last week for Cineworld was fellow operator AMC's first quarter 2020 discussion about how it could trade profitably at low levels of occupancy. AMC and Cinemark both commented on the strength of the upcoming slate, noting a mix of sequels and new releases. Marvel will release another film into its popular 'Cinematic Universe' with Black Widow, while rival DC has a follow­up to the well-received Wonder Women (Wonder Women 1984). Pixar's Soul and the live-action remake of Disney's Mulan, both scheduled for release this year, will offer entertainment for younger generations. Post the AMC news, we are more confident management will be able to bring the business back to cash flow positive trading post-lock-down. We are increasing our target price to 180p from 140p to reflect this additional confidence. At 180p, the shares would be trading on 8.4 times recovered earnings and would be 37% off their 52-week high reached on 17 June 2019.” 

Pan Pacific moves London hotel opening to early 2021: Hotel group Pan Pacific has announced its new London hotel – its first in Europe – will now open in early 2021. The 237-bedroom hotel within the mixed-use development opposite Liverpool Street station had been slated to open in the autumn. It will feature two restaurants and bars as well as a well-being floor with treatment rooms. General manager Anne Golden said: “The covid-19 pandemic has brought the world of travel and hospitality to an abrupt standstill. Every opening is a challenge and as we ride through covid-19, this is certainly a new one we’re facing. Gradually, and in line with directives from local authorities, construction operations are now continuing on site and early 2021 is a realistic time-frame for opening.” Pan Pacific is owned by Singapore’s UOL Group. It manages almost 50 hotels, resorts and serviced suites.

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