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Wed 13th Sep 2017 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Soho Coffee Co parent company reports £3m losses following acquisitions: BTC Hospitality, which operates Soho Coffee Co, has reported losses of more than £3m for the year ending 29 January 2017 following its acquisitions of Apostrophe Restaurants and Euphorium Bakery. The company said it made the strategic decision to acquire Apostrophe Restaurants in May last year from catering company CH&Co despite the loss-making performance of the legacy Apostrophe-branded stores to “gain an immediate and significant leased property portfolio and presence in the London market from which to drive further growth for the group”. The company added it decided to acquire six leasehold Euphorium Bakery sites in September last year from Tesco despite the “loss-making performance of its legacy operations” to secure a central production unit in London (that would) support all BTC Hospitality’s London-based operations and “add a bakery brand and product range to the portfolio”. In accounts filed at Companies House, BTC Hospitality said it would now focus on expansion of Soho Coffee Co and Euphorium Bakery and was converting the majority of the ten remaining Apostrophe Restaurant sites to the two brands. Turnover increased to £8,419,092, compared with £5,181,611 the previous year. The company reported a pre-tax loss of £3,003,597, compared with a profit of £13,116 the year before. BTC Hospitality operates a managed store portfolio of 31 sites in the UK, including 18 in London, across the three brands. As of May this year, the company had 16 Soho Coffee Co managed stores, including its first sites in London following conversion of the Strand and St Paul’s Apostrophe sites. The company stated: “The average level of weekly sales at the Strand store achieved post-conversion was more than doubled, with St Paul’s trade increasing by about 30% compared with trading under the Apostrophe brand, supporting the business case for future conversions of other Apostrophe sites.” As of May this year, the number of Apostrophe sites fell from 15 to ten, including two disposals (High Holborn and St Bride’s), and three stores transferred to the Soho Coffee Co brand. As for Euphorium Bakery, the report stated: “Since the acquisition the priority of the new management team has been to review and overhaul operations at the existing Euphorium-branded stores and central production unit and gear the company up for planned substantial organic growth. The directors intend to continue the high level of investment in new Soho Coffee Co and Euphorium-branded stores through origination of new property site opportunities and the continued operational transfer and conversion of Apostrophe sites. The directors continue to monitor all opportunities to develop and grow the business, including potential wholesale business from the central production units, further development of franchise operations in the UK and abroad, and further corporate acquisitions.”

Industry News:

Propel Multi Club Conference open for bookings, Imbiba to present, two free places for operators: The final Propel Multi Club Conference of 2017 is open for bookings. The full-day event takes place on Wednesday, 1 November at the Millennium Gloucester hotel in London. Darrel Connell, of investment fund Imbiba, will talk about investing in early-stage multi-site companies through Imbiba’s new £50m Growth Fund, whose advisory board includes Karen Jones, Graham Turner and Karen Forrester. Multi-site operators of pubs, restaurants and foodservice outlets can book up to two free places by emailing Anne Steele on anne.steele@propelinfo.com

Bar and Nightclub Conference open for bookings: This year’s Bar and Nightclub Conference, organised by the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) and Propel, is open for bookings. It takes place on Monday, 9 October at Bafta, Piccadilly. It will be followed by the Dusk ’til Dawn Awards for bar and nightclub operators at Cafe de Paris in the evening. Speakers at the conference will include Peter Stringfellow, who will talk about his career operating late-night venues. Stephen Thomas, godfather of the UK nightclub and bar scene, will offer reflections on the evolving bar and nightclub scene and predict how things will change in the next decade. Meanwhile, Peter Marks, chief executive of Deltic Group, will talk about evolving the company’s estate, the growing importance of social media and entertainment to drive footfall, and the results of Deltic’s own research into the late-night market. For the full schedule click here. Tickets for the Bar and Nightclub Conference are £89 plus VAT for operators who are ALMR members and £129 plus VAT for non-ALMR members. Supplier tickets are £165 plus VAT for ALMR members and £225 plus VAT for non-ALMR members. For the Dusk ’til Dawn Awards, tickets are £150 plus VAT for ALMR members and £195 plus VAT for non-ALMR members. Tickets for both events can be booked by emailing Jo Charity at jo.charity@propelinfo.com

ALMR – inflation increase highlights need for rate reform: Following the announcement of an increase in the rate of UK inflation, the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) has once again called on the government to bring forward its 2020 switch to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for business rates. Chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “Although the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has announced an increase in the rate of CPI to a one-year high of 2.9%, there is still a pressing need for the government to apply this measure of inflation to business rates at the earliest opportunity. The current system linking to Retail Price Index (RPI), a measure discredited by the ONS itself, needs to be ditched at the earliest opportunity. RPI stands at 3.9% currently, and this could see eating and drinking out businesses facing another massive increase in their business rates bills. The government uses September’s RPI figures as the basis for indexation for business rates increases the following April, even when inflation peaks around September and falls back later in the year. A switch to CPI, along with a cap on inflationary prices similar to that introduced during the financial crash, could help minimise inflationary pressures in the supply chain at a time of considerable economic and political uncertainty for the UK. The government intends to make this switch in 2020 but it needs to push ahead right away if it wants to ensure continued investment and growth from eating and drinking out businesses across the UK.”

Airbnb reports 81% increase in users travelling to the UK: Airbnb has claimed it has boosted UK-bound travel by 81%. The company said 5.9 million people visiting the UK used its platform between July 2016 and July 2017, generating £3.46bn for the economy. Airbnb said the country was its fifth-largest home-sharing community in terms of numbers of listings. James McClure, general manager for northern Europe at Airbnb, told the Daily Mail: “The UK continues to break records on Airbnb – as a world-leading destination and for the benefits hosting generates for local families and their communities.” Britain received the highest number of foreign visitors ever in the second quarter. Airbnb has shaken up the market for travel accommodation and competes with hotels by allowing people to rent out their homes or apartments, either in full or as part of a house-share. London has reached 64,000 active listings, Airbnb said. In December, it introduced a new rule to block hosts from renting out homes in the British capital for more than 90 days in a year, a move welcomed by mayor of London Sadiq Khan.

BBPA – beer tax rise would ‘undo government’s good work’: The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has warned the government its plans to implement an inflation-based increase on beer in the autumn Budget would undo the benefits of the government’s three, one-penny cuts in beer duty in a “single year”. It said tax rise plans were made worse by the government’s use of the widely discredited Retail Price Index, currently 3.9% compared with the Consumer Price Index 2.9%. It said the substantial 3.9% tax rise in the March Budget had cost the sector £130m and with inflation expected to rise in October, the government was in danger of creating a vicious circle, with tax hikes fuelling further inflation. The BBPA said the tax rise, which could put an extra 2p on a pint, would be a big blow for beer drinkers and pubs, where beer accounts for two-thirds of all alcoholic drink sales. It added that with price inflation running ahead of household incomes, the pub trade was particularly vulnerable to new and “unnecessary” cost pressures. BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “A second beer tax hike this year, based on inflation, would undo much of the good work done in tackling Britain’s sky-high rates of beer duty. Abolishing the hated beer duty escalator saved many pubs and jobs after years of unsustainable tax rises. With the challenge of Brexit and a range of other cost pressures, the chancellor should abandon plans for a beer duty increase in the Budget.”

Operator sought for newly refurbished Marylebone pub on free-of-tie lease: A pub in Marylebone that is ready to fit-out has been made available to let on a free-of-tie lease. The Beehive in Homer Street is undergoing a refurbishment, with the landlord willing to contribute up to £100,000 towards fit-out costs. Following the creation of a new entrance, the property will consist of a 701.8 square foot basement and ground-floor space of 451 square feet. The free-of-tie lease is available on full repairing and insuring terms, subject to five-yearly upward-only rent reviews. The property is being marketed through sole agents Drake Property.

Company News:

Zizzi unveils new packaging as it looks to grow out-of-restaurant sales: Azzurri Group-owned Zizzi has unveiled new packaging as it looks to grow its share of the out-of-restaurant channel. The packaging suite includes a box for classic and skinny pizzas as well as a deep box for delivery of Zizzi’s signature Rustica pizza. The new suite also contains a versatile small box for starters, sharers and desserts, a bread bag, nibbles pot and a pasta/salad bowl that replicates the restaurant’s own crockery as well as having an insert that can separate hot menu items from cold. Zizzi said the suite enabled “restaurant-quality dining without compromising on taste and appearance” and enabled the company to offer almost all its dine-in menu for takeaway and delivery. Zizzi marketing director Jo Fawcett said: “We recognised the need to invest in all elements of our out-of-restaurant proposition to ensure we are providing the best possible dining experience for our customers. We are now well placed to grow our share of the growing out-of-restaurant channel.”

Abbot Grange secured creditor faces £500,000 shortfall despite £2m hotel sales: Coutts, secured creditor of East Midlands-based hotel group Abbot Grange, is facing a shortfall of more than £500,000 in its total debt despite receiving £2m following the sale of the company’s two hotels, new documents have revealed. A progress report from joint administrators Matthew Ingram and Sarah Helen, of Duff & Phelps, covering the start of the administration on 16 February 2016 until 15 August 2017, showed Coutts was owed £2,797,574. A total of £2m had been distributed to Coutts following the sales of the 15-bedroom Bridge Hotel in Thrapston and the grade II-listed Dovecliff Hall in Stretton, near Burton upon Trent. The report showed Dovecliff Hall was sold on 27 June this year to REDML Hotel for a net consideration of £1,834,893 following a competitive bidding process between two parties. Meanwhile, the Bridge Hotel was acquired by Simitra on 30 March this year for a net consideration of £681,513. Abbot Grange had unbanked cash of £1,468 that was paid into the administration bank account during the reporting period. The report stated: “Following the sale of the hotels, a total of £2m has been distributed to Coutts. It is anticipated up to a further £0.2m may be available to Coutts meaning the bank will be facing a shortfall against its total debt.” The report also revealed estimated preferential creditors’ claims amounted to £3,305 relating to wages and holiday pay arrears for five employees. The administrators said it was anticipated there would be insufficient funds to make a distribution. Non-preferential unsecured creditors were owed a total of £506,981 with claims received to date of £127,215.05. Again, the administrators said there was unlikely to be sufficient funds to enable a distribution. Following the sale of both hotels and the end of administration trading, the total fee payable to the administrators was £127,775. They said no further fees were likely to be withdrawn.

MeatLiquor launches second delivery-only site in partnership with Deliveroo, in Battersea: MeatLiquor has opened its second delivery-only site in partnership with Deliveroo, in Battersea, south west London. MeatLiquor said the launch of the delivery-only service follows the success of its Canary Wharf offering and a strong partnership between the company and Deliveroo across 12 sites nationwide. Customers in Battersea and a number of neighbouring postcodes can order MeatLiquor food through the Deliveroo website from 5.30pm to 11pm on weekdays and noon to 11pm at weekends. MeatLiquor co-founder and managing director Scott Collins said: “MeatLiquor was an early adopter of the Deliveroo model in the UK and one of the first Deliveroo editions. Having seen the benefits of the delivery-only model, both for us and the wider restaurant category, the move to Battersea was a no-brainer as we felt it was something that could easily be replicated for customers living in south west London where there is clearly demand.” Collins founded MeatLiquor with Yianni Papoutsis in 2011, initially operating from a burger van. It opened its first permanent site shortly after and there are now 13 sites across the UK, including the Deliveroo-only site in Canary Wharf. The company, which forecast sales to rise 55% to £17m in 2017, remains privately held by a small group of investors and is plotting further growth under its existing ownership.

City Pub Company takes Flyt: Independent pub operator The City Pub Company, which operates more than 30 pubs across southern England, has become the latest firm to partner with Flypay’s Flyt platform. Flyt will provide The City Pub Company with access to faster, frictionless payments across its East and West estates through Flypay’s Pay At Table and Bar Tabs technologies, which will be built into the company’s new bespoke app that has been developed by mobile solutions company The App Business. The City Pub Company app integrates with Zonal’s point-of-sale system and incorporates its iZone loyalty scheme meaning customers who use Pay At Table or Bar Tabs will receive offers and incentives to drive repeat visits. Kyle Gibson, digital marketing manager at The City Pub Company, said: “We are obsessive about our beer, passionate about our food, and our customers are at the forefront of everything we do. As such, we are constantly in search of ways to improve their experience and we believe Flypay’s frictionless payment technologies will do just that.” Flypay chief executive Tom Weaver added: “Our Flyt platform has the capabilities to dramatically enhance the experience for customers before allowing them to move on to their next destination with ease.”

Sandwich and snack company Around Noon secures investment to fund five-year growth plan: Sandwich and snack business Around Noon has received £750,000 investment from the £50m Growth Loan Fund to “significantly grow turnover during the next five years”. Sheila Chambers founded the company in 1989 in her kitchen in Newry, Northern Ireland. Around Noon now employs 300 staff and produces sandwiches, wraps, paninis, salads and snacks under its Scribbles brand, and cold-pressed juices and bakery items via Dublin-based baker Sweet Things, which it acquired last year. Chief executive Gareth Chambers completed a management buyout of Around Noon last year, partnering with chairman Howard Farquhar. Around Noon also acquired Slough-based sandwich supplier Chef In A Box in June. Chambers told Insider Media: “The business started from humble beginnings. This loan will help us invest in developing our IT systems and infrastructure and further develop our newly acquired (Slough) operation. In the next five years we want to grow our turnover significantly and the backing of the Growth Loan Fund will help make this a reality.” Jenna Mairs, investment manager at WhiteRock Capital Partners, which manages the Growth Loan Fund, added: “The acquisition of Chef In A Box shows the ambition of the owners to strengthen the brand and gain a major foothold in the food sector.”

London-based honey craft beer company Hiver launches £350,000 crowdfunding campaign to expand and open second retail site: London-based honey craft beer company Hiver has launched a £350,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube as it looks to expand and open a flagship retail site. The company, which was founded by Hannah Rhodes in 2013 and distributes to pub companies such as Young’s and Mitchells & Butlers, is offering an 8.05% equity stake in return for the investment. The pitch states: “We have successfully grown the brand out of its heartland in London, hitting a turnover of £472,000 in the year ending 2017 – 99% growth year-on-year. We have an ethical and sustainable approach to business, supporting pollinator charities and sourcing our ingredients and supplies only from the UK. Hiver is doing something unique, offering a different beer style in a booming craft market place and a unique flavour profile to consumers, which we’ve demonstrated has national appeal and real potential internationally. We are seeking to raise £350,000 to accelerate Hiver’s growth through building our sales and marketing team, investing in the Hiver brand and the new Putting The Bee Into Beer campaign, as well as launching a second retail site in summer 2018. As we grow we envisage forming partnerships in the UK and abroad to help realise potential for the business, which would create opportunities for acquisition. We can also see potential for share buybacks.”

JKS Restaurants opens second Hoppers site, in Marylebone: JKS Restaurants has opened a second London site for its Hoppers concept, which offers snacks from southern India and Sri Lanka. The company launched the concept in Soho in late 2015. The much larger, 85-cover sister restaurant is set across two floors of a site in St Christopher’s Place, Marylebone, and also features outside seating for 16. There is also space for 24 people in the four private dining vaults. The menu includes new dishes such as Jaffna beef rib fry, tuna and tapioca cutlets with avocado sambol, claypot baby chicken, and black pork ribs with fennel and turmeric sambol. There is also a daily changing rice and kari dish alongside new cocktails featuring arrack as a main ingredient. JKS Restaurants was founded by the Sethi family and also operates Michelin-starred Indian restaurants Gymkhana and Trishna, Indian food delivery concept Motu Kitchen, and gourmet hotdog and champagne concept Bubbledogs.

BrewDog outlines US expansion plans: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has said the recent launch of its US brewery and headquarters is “only the start”. The company recently began distributing beer from its brewery in Columbus, Ohio, and closed its first round of US crowdfunding after raising $7m. The company said it would break ground next month on its first hotel, which will be built next to the Canal Winchester brewery, and open its first US bar – in The Short North neighbourhood of Columbus – in December. BrewDog is also set to open a brewpub in Franklinton in spring 2018. Tanisha Robinson, chief executive of BrewDog’s US operation, said: “It’s like jumping on to an already moving ship.” Robinson was hired by BrewDog as a “growth guru” before being quickly promoted to chief executive. She said that after opening bars in central Ohio and expanding retail distribution to neighbouring states in the next four to six months, BrewDog would open bars in Cincinnati and Cleveland, where it is “scouting locations right now”. Robinson said BrewDog would then expand to neighbouring states such as Indiana, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Revolution Bars Group acquires JD Wetherspoon site in Putney: Revolution Bars Group has acquired the site of a JD Wetherspoon pub in Putney, south west London. The Railway, on the corner of Upper Richmond Road and High Street, shut on Sunday (10 September) having opened almost 24 years ago. The site has now been sub-let to Revolution Bars Group. Revolution Bars Group currently trades from 68 sites, 54 under the Revolution format and 14 under its Revolución de Cuba brand. Last month, Stonegate Pub Company reached an agreement to buy Revolution Bars Group for £101.5m, although the deal is still subject to shareholder approval. The Deltic Group is also considering making an offer.

Soho House still committed to motel scheme near Oxford: Soho House has said it is still proceeding with plans to open a motel at a petrol station near Oxford – despite no action for almost a year. The company said it remained committed to its scheme at Buckland Services on the A420 near Faringdon, even though it has yet to start construction work. It received planning permission in January to build a 79-bedroom motel with a 132-cover American-style diner and drive-thru. The plan is to “reboot” the American diner and motel Chariots and Cherry Pie, which was run on the site by Oxfordshire couple Jonathan and Claire Hilsdon briefly in 2014 before the business collapsed, reports the Oxford Mail. In the planning application, Soho House’s agent Paul Butt said the development would result in “additional roadside services – in particular the motel and diner – being provided on a site that is allocated for such purposes”.

Australian lifestyle brand The Dayrooms starts expansion of cafe concept with second London site: Australian boutique lifestyle brand The Dayrooms has started expansion of its cafe concept by opening a second site in London, this time in Holborn. The company, which operates a store in Westbourne Grove, launched The Dayrooms Café in another Notting Hill street in July specialising in Melbourne-inspired brunch and coffee. The new venue has opened in Theobalds Road and, unlike the debut site, focuses on grab-and-go options for busy City workers rather than long lunches and brunches. The cafe offers freshly baked sourdough sandwiches such as kimchi with pickled red onion alongside toasted mac and cheese and even kangaroo, Hot Dinners reports. Other dishes on the menu include coconut waffles, grilled prawn tostadas, and sticky sesame chicken alongside salads, smoothies and coffee from Ozone Coffee Roasters. The Dayrooms was founded by Zumrud Mammadova and Aytan Mehdiyeva to provide a “UK stage for rising stars and emerging young Australian talent”.

Goodbody – M&B’s estate refurbishment programme starting to pay off: Goodbody Leisure analyst Brian Devitt has said the estate refurbishment programme at Mitchells & Butlers is starting to pay off. Issuing a ‘Hold’ note on the company’s shares with a target price of 270p following its third-quarter trading update and pension agreement, Devitt said: “Overall, we make minor downgrades to Ebit in FY17 (-1.4%) and FY18 (-0.6%). We also include the newly agreed pension deficit (£451m) in our numbers. Recent trading has been strong, with like-for-likes accelerating throughout FY17. An exercise we have conducted for others in the sector, if we were to add back our estimates of the external cost headwinds the first half showed a decent underlying improvement in Ebit. Investors should take comfort the estate refurbishment programme is not just benefiting the top line but also the bottom. We expect medium-term material cost inflation (National Living Wage, input costs etc). Greene King’s recent update aside, sector trading has been relatively resilient. However, the UK consumer backdrop is uncertain and we believe discounting has become more prevalent in 2017. We believe our forecasts adequately consider these factors, although there is potential for the environment to worsen from here. Following the pension resolution, we believe investors should now focus on management’s estate refurbishment strategy, which we continue to believe will pay off. However, sector risks remain. We reduce our target price to 270p (from 275p) as we omit historical price-to-earnings ratio from our calculation. Recent share price strength leaves just 7% upside from here so we move to a ‘Hold’ recommendation.”

Moy Park’s $1.3bn acquisition is positive development, says chief executive: Moy Park chief executive Janet McCollum has branded the company’s $1.3bn acquisition by US-based poultry producer Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation a “positive development”. Pilgrim’s acquired the Northern Ireland-based poultry firm from JBS earlier this week and said its management team, led by McCollum, would continue to lead the business. Moy Park will remain headquartered in Craigavon. McCollum told Insider Media: “This announcement is a positive development for Moy Park and all our colleagues employed across the business. Pilgrim’s is one of the leading chicken producers in the world with a proven track record and we see great opportunities for Moy Park as part of this successful business. Joining Pilgrim’s gives us the opportunity to accelerate our growth plans, share best practices and leverage Pilgrim’s expertise and operational excellence.” Pilgrim’s chief executive Bill Lovette added: “The acquisition gives us access to the attractive UK and European markets, which advances our strategy of diversifying our portfolio to be more global while reducing volatility across our businesses.” Moy Park processes more than 5.7 million birds a week at 13 processing plants in the UK, Ireland, France and the Netherlands, supplying major food retailers and restaurant chains. Pilgrim’s claims it produces one-in-five chickens in the US. JBS USA controls 78.5% of the company’s stock.

Nicholson’s Pubs launches National Beer Showcase: Mitchells & Butlers’ Nicholson’s Pubs brand has launched National Beer Showcase 2017 across its 77 pubs. The event will run until Sunday, 22 October and this year features 28 new beers alongside guest talks, workshops and tastings across the brand’s estate. Nicholson’s “cask masters” have created six “district beers” from six regions including offerings from Hop Stuff Brewery, London Brewing Co and West Berkshire Brewery. Attendees can pick up a free There’s A Beer For That guidebook to learn more about the district beers, which include a brew created by indie band Shed Seven and a transatlantic collaboration between Adnams and Cigar City. Nicholson’s app users can access special offers and exclusive content during the event including a chance to win tastings with Scottish brewer and retailer Brewdog. Ben Lockwood, beer and cider procurement manager at Mitchells & Butlers, said: “With this campaign showcasing everything that’s great about Britain’s beer and pubs, we’re excited to have engaged with our own regional cask masters and given them the freedom to create six cask ales.”

Leicestershire-based operator acquires third site: Leicestershire-based operator Stephanie Hamblin has acquired her third site. She has acquired the free-of-tie lease of the Old Swan in Kibworth through agents Everard Cole. The property, based in High Street, previously traded as Scotts at the Swan and features a lounge bar area, restaurant area with 20 covers, and a bar and snug area. There is also a private dining room, The Barn, which has about 30 covers. Hambin, who also operates the Foxton Locks and The Waterfront in Market Harborough, plans a major refurbishment and rebranding of the pub with a focus on providing a more family-friendly venue. Everard Cole director Jon Heald said: “The Old Swan had a bit of a chequered history but has the potential to be a great site and the marketing generated terrific interest from a number of operators. Stephanie has a fantastic track record and we’re sure she’ll make the Old Swan an enormous success.”

Harcourt Developments opens £28m Titanic Hotel in Belfast: Harcourt Developments has opened its £28m Titanic Hotel in Belfast. The 119-bedroom venue is based in Harland & Wolff’s former headquarters and drawing offices. The building, where the Titanic and more than 1,000 other ships were designed, has taken two years to complete and created 90 jobs. Boasting 360-degree views of the Titanic Quarter, the hotel includes a 166-seater dining room, The Wolff Grill, with its own private dining area, and is fronted by executive chef Nigel Mannion. The project was backed by a £5m grant secured by the Titanic Foundation from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Harcourt Developments creative director John Doherty told Insider Media: “To be finally ready to open this historical and authentic hotel is another mark in the history of Queen’s Island. Titanic Hotel Belfast is a hub of heritage and legacy, and we’re delighted to open the doors to the public and our first guests.” Titanic Foundation chief executive Kerrie Sweeney added: “Where one of Northern Ireland’s biggest commercial ventures once stood more than 100 years ago, now stands a fitting tribute and another fantastic venture to shine a light on what was the largest shipyard in the world.”

Nine Group buys historic hotel and pub near Gatwick out of administration: Watford-based investment company Nine Group has bought a historic hotel near Gatwick that closed four years ago out of administration in a deal that has created 60 jobs. Chequers Hotel in Horley has been closed since it entered administration in November 2013. The 19th century building was previously owned by Menzies Hotels. Nine Group will refurbish the hotel to provide four-star facilities under an international hotel brand. Nine Group director Vivek Chadha told Insider Media: “We’ll be bringing new life into the area, putting this landmark hotel back on the map. Nine Group is investing substantially in the renovation to transform this Victorian building into an internationally branded hotel. We plan to retain the hotel’s on-site pub as a destination for locals and guests alike to enjoy a drink.” Nine Group’s portfolio includes the Mercure St Albans Noke Hotel, Holiday Inn London Watford Junction and the recently acquired Trafford Park hotel in the centre of Manchester.

Compass Hospitality acquires Scarborough spa hotel for 12th UK site: Thailand-based Compass Hospitality Group has acquired its 12th UK site and first with an on-site spa. The company has bought the Crown Spa Hotel in Scarborough, Yorkshire, in a deal brokered by agents Christie & Co on behalf of the Frank family. The 116-bedroom, four-storey hotel also offers a European restaurant and a health club with gymnasium, aerobics studio, steam and sauna rooms, 20ft hot tub, 40ft indoor pool, beauty salon, spa and massage facilities. It is Scarborough’s only four-star hotel and features seven meeting rooms. Matthew Welbourn, executive vice-president of UK operations for Compass Hospitality, said: “Compass Hospitality is always searching for the right three and four-star business and leisure properties across the UK and we plan several more openings in 2017 and 2018.” Compass Hospitality president and chief executive Harmil Singh added: “The UK continues to be an exciting market for Compass. We are constantly learning to adapt and ultimately shine in a market where we see real potential for growth.” Compass Hospitality now has 44 hotels under management in the UK, Thailand and Malaysia. The company was represented by Brodies Solicitors, Edwards Veeder and AIB in the deal.

 
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