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Wed 7th Jul 2021 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Reilley – without the abolition of ten-day self-isolation requirements for all those pinged by Test & Trace hospitality will shut down: Without the abolition of ten-day self-isolation requirements for all those pinged by the NHS Test & Trace service, hospitality will shut down, Alex Reilley, chairman of cafe bar operator Loungers, has warned. Reilley was responding to health secretary Sajid Javid who stated cases of covid could reach 100,000 a day by the summer. Javid subsequently announced those people who have been fully vaccinated and are a close contact of a positive case will not have to self-isolate from 16 August. If someone gets their second dose just before or just after 16 August they would have to wait for two weeks to build up the maximum protection before they can enjoy these new freedoms, Javid said. But Reilley said: “Without the abolition of ten-day self-isolation requirements for all those pinged by Test and Trace, this will shut hospitality down. Two thirds of our near 5,000 employees are under the age of 25 so will need to wait weeks to be double-jabbed. This is going to be utter chaos. If the government is saying people who are pinged by Test and Trace, who aren’t double-jabbed, still have to self-isolate for ten days, there are going to be an increasing number of hospitality venues that are going to be closed by Test and Trace. Young staff won’t be eligible for their second jab for a few weeks and, with rising cases, hospitality businesses will be increasingly paralysed. It will be lockdown in all but name.” He added: “So, 100,000 cases a day means one million people isolating with covid and millions more isolating because of close contacts. Does no one get this is going to be completely unsustainable and will grind the economy to a complete halt?” Richard Ferrier, managing director at Brasserie Bar Co, said: “The harsh reality of this is young people will simply find jobs in other sectors. It’s a total disgrace and we deserve better.” UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls added: “The sector is experiencing severe staff shortages, compounded massively by the absence of team members who have been told to isolate despite not having shared shifts with colleagues who tested positive. Introducing a test-to-release system for fully vaccinated people from the middle of next month not only fails to recognise the carnage the current system is causing but also significantly discriminates against a huge proportion of our workforce. About 60% of our staff are aged between 15 and 34, and the vast majority will not have had the opportunity to receive both jabs by 16 August. With cases predicted to continue to rise, operators will be forced into reducing their hours or closing venues completely.”

Industry News: 

18 of 62 new companies added to next edition of Blue Book for Premium subscribers turning over more than £25m: A total of 18 of the 62 new companies added to the updated Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which will be published for Premium subscribers at midday on Friday (9 July), are turning over in excess of £25m. The second edition will feature a total of 280 companies and will provide an overview of the most recent five years, ranking them by turnover and profit conversion. It will also show directors’ earnings over five years and the top-earning director. Total turnover for the 280 companies is £25.8bn. The minimum company turnover to be included will be £4m. The Blue Book is updated each month, with more companies added. Companies can now have an unlimited number of people receive access to Propel Premium for a year for £895 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or a supplier. The regular single subscription rate of £395 plus VAT for operators and £495 plus VAT for suppliers remains the same. Premium subscribers also receive access to a second exclusive monthly database, The Propel Multi-Site Database. The updated database of multi-site companies for June includes 63 new companies since its previous update in May – making a total of 1,880 listed businesses. Collectively, the 63 new companies operate 565 venues. Subscribers not only received the database as a PDF and an Excel spreadsheet, they were also sent a 10,389-word report on the businesses added during June. Subscribers also receive access to Propel’s library of lockdown videos and Friday Wrap interviews and now also have access to a curated video library of the sector’s finest leaders and entrepreneurs, offering their insights on running outstanding businesses in the sector. Premium subscribers also receive their morning newsletter 11 hours early, at 7pm the evening before our 6am send-out; regular video content and regular exclusive columns from Propel insights editor Mark Wingett. Email to sign up.
Watson – we will continue to encourage mask wearing and table service to ‘avoid a scrum at the bar’: Clive Watson, executive chairman of City Pub Group, said the company will urge customers to continue following some coronavirus rules across its 45 sites to avoid a “free-for-all scrum at the bar”. Speaking to the Today programme on BBC Radio 4, he said: “Staff should be encouraged or instructed to wear masks, I think that’s very important, and I also think, from a customer’s point of view, we will still try to offer as much service as possible at the table. What we don’t want is a free-for-all scrum at the bar with lots of people queuing up. Almost 50% of our customers order their food and drink via the app, we want to continue that with the rest ordering at the table. We want to continue that as well. It’s not like flicking a switch back to February 2020. We’re not going to say you cannot order at the bar – but we’re going to make it as easy as possible to order from the table. We’re not going to be militant about it but we’re not going to encourage people to order at the bar.”
PM extends pub closing times in England for Euro 2020 final: Pubs in England will stay open later as the Euro 2020 final reaches its climax on Sunday (11 July), the government has said. Prime minister Boris Johnson has granted pubs special permission to open until 11.15pm – 15 minutes after normal closing time – in case the game goes to extra time and penalties. A spokesman said: “The entire nation has been gripped by the Euros and this will ensure people can come together to enjoy the final in pubs, should they wish to do so.” England’s progression in the competition – culminating potentially in their first major tournament win since 1966’s World Cup heroics – will be dependent on their semi-final clash with Denmark on Wednesday (7 July).
Marston’s pays tribute to former chairman David Thompson: Marston’s has paid tribute to its former chairman David Thompson, who sadly passed away over the weekend. Thompson had been ill with cancer for some years. He was 67 years old. His family formed Wolverhampton & Dudley Breweries as a public company in 1890. He joined the board as managing director in 1986 and became chairman in 2001. The company was renamed as Marston’s in 2006 and he was succeeded as its chairman by Roger Devlin in 2013. Marston’s chief executive Ralph Findlay said: “Those of us who worked with David will recall a man of tremendous intellect and vigour, who was passionate about the business but also a convivial man with a great sense of humour. I count myself fortunate to have worked with him and was grateful for his advice on many occasions. He was a prominent member of the local community – David and his wife, Marika, served as parish councillors in Boningale, Albrighton. He was a member of the West Midlands Regional Development Agency and the first chairman of the former Wolverhampton Training and Enterprise Council, from 1991 to 1996. Our condolences go to David’s wife Marika, and their family. David will be greatly missed.” JW Lees managing director William Lees-Jones said: “Very sad. A lovely man – first person to write to me when I became managing director at JW Lees.” James Staughton, president of St Austell Brewery, said: “A very special man and someone who was always so generous with his praise for the successful growth we achieved at St Austell Brewery. Coming from such an experienced practitioner, it was high praise indeed. He will be sorely missed by all his many industry friends. RIP David.”

Eating and drinking-out sector provides almost a quarter of new US jobs in June as companies continue launching new efforts to find staff: The eating and drinking-out sector provided almost a quarter of new jobs in the US in June as the unemployment rate remained steady at 5.9%, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported. Employment rose by 850,000 in June, the bureau said in its monthly report, and more than 194,000 of those jobs were gained in foodservice and drinking outlets. Restaurant companies continued to launch new efforts to find workers with Denny’s running a hiring tour across the country in an effort to employ 20,000 nationwide. In addition to the tour, Denny’s is offering another incentive for those who apply nationwide and get invited back for an interview. The first 25 interviewees at each of Denny’s more than 1,600 bricks-and-mortar locations are given a coupon for a free Red, White and Blue Pancake Breakfast to be redeemed by the end of August. The bureau said employment has risen over the past three months, increasing by 850,000 in June, 583,000 in May and 269,000 in April. In June, employment in leisure and hospitality increased by 343,000 as pandemic-related restrictions continued to ease in some parts of the nation. More than half of the jobs gain was in foodservices and drinking places, but employment also rose more than 75,000 in accommodation and more than 75,000 in arts, entertainment and recreation. US employment in leisure and hospitality remained down by 2.2 million, or 12.9%, from its level in February 2020, the bureau said.
Job of the day: COREcruitment is recruiting for a director of talent for a hotel management company. This position, based in London, is paying up to £65,000, plus benefits. The role will be heading up an established HR structure. The individual will focus on the operations as well all head office functions to allow the UK team to provide the best possible quality of service to its customers. The ideal candidate will have an in-depth understanding of HR policies and processes, experience of managing a team, influencing at all levels and presenting at board level. In addition, the incoming director of talent will need to have an in-depth knowledge of employment law, experience of project and change management as well as the ability to oversee management talent planning and development of employee engagement at all levels. Exposure to a company acquisition would be an advantage. Anyone interested can email with their CV.
COREcruitment is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

Company News:

Fridays secures two new sites for fledgling 63rd+1st concept: Fridays has secured two new sites in Glasgow and Harrogate, for its fledgling 63rd+1st concept, Propel has learned. The Robert Cook-led business has secured the former Gusto site in Glasgow’s Bothwell Street, and the ex-ASK Italian site in Harrogate’s Albert Street, for openings before the end of this year. In May, the company, which currently operates 87 restaurants, said it had three Fridays and four sites under its new 63rd+1st concept in the pipeline for opening over the coming months. Last month, Fridays’ backers Electra Private Equity announced Hostmore as the name of the new parent company for Electra’s hospitality brands, which are intended to be demerged by Electra and admitted to the main market of the London Stock Exchange late in the third quarter of this year. These brands comprise the rejuvenated American-themed casual dining brand, and the start-up 63rd+1st, its new city-based, cocktail-led bar and restaurant brand. David Muslin at Ecliptic acted on the Harrogate deal.
Carter and Leach planning Manteca opening in Shoreditch: David Carter, chef and founder of Smokestak, and Chris Leach, who has worked as a chef at Petersham Nurseries and Kitty Fisher’s, are planning to open a site under their pasta restaurant concept Manteca in London’s Shoreditch. Propel understands the pair are set to open on the former PizzaExpress site in Curtain Road. Initially operated as a pop-up at 10 Heddon Street in Mayfair in the summer of 2019, Manteca launched its first restaurant later that same year in Great Marlborough Street, Soho. Focusing on handmade pasta and fire-cooked meat, Manteca is inspired by Leach’s travels through Rome and Naples. Leach previously said the concept aims to capture the conviviality of Italian dining as well as taking cues from the food scenes of Los Angeles and New York.
Veeno returns to the expansion trail: Italian wine bar business Veeno has returned to the expansion trail with two new openings lined up. Later this month, the company will open a site at 86 High Street, Reigate, Surrey, though new franchisee John Spriggs. Later this summer, the company will also open a site at 11 High Street, Banbury, Oxfordshire. Veeno, which has sites across the UK in Bristol, Chester, Edinburgh, Leeds, Leicester, Reading and Stratford-upon-Avon, was formed in 2013. It takes its inspiration from the Caruso and Minini family vineyard in Sicily, established by Antonio Caruso, great-grandfather to Veeno’s founder, Nino Caruso. Alongside its family-grown Sicilian wine, Veeno serves a food menu that includes sharing boards of meats, cheeses and other appetisers imported from individually selected producers in Italy. On the Reigate opening, Veeno owner Rodrigue Trouillet said: “We are very excited to be part of this fantastic town that has so much to offer – Veeno will fit in seamlessly. We felt there was a gap in the market in Reigate for an outlet such as ours, which provides a genuine authentic Italian experience, a superb lunchtime menu and an excellent venue for weekend drinking and dining. We’re excited to give Reigate the opportunity to sample the Veeno experience.”

Goodbody – Greggs showing impressive recovery, upgrades Ebit forecasts by 18%: Goodbody leisure analyst Jason Mollins has said food-to-go operator Greggs has had an impressive recovery to date and has upgraded Ebit forecasts by 18%. Issuing a “Hold” note on the shares with a target price of 2,800p, Mollins said: “In a recent trading update, Greggs indicated that despite increased competition and some easing of initial pent-up demand, its recovery has continued into the end of the first half with two-year company-managed shop like-for-like sales up 1% to 3%. We expect this to continue into the second half as restrictions and mobility improve further, which results in a circa 18% upgrade to our FY21 Ebit forecast to circa £141m. While there are some temporary cost benefits, this represents an impressive 16% growth versus FY19, illustrating the popularity of the offering and robustness of the model. Greggs reports first-half results on 3 August for which we forecast reported sales decline of 1.7% versus. 2019 with like-for-like sales declining 9.5% offset by a 7.8% contribution from 78 net new stores (also includes 28 net new stores from 2020). The like-for-like outcome highlights the strength of the group’s recovery since restrictions were eased with the first ten weeks down 23%. Combined with cost savings and the temporary benefit of business rates relief, this results in our first-half Ebit forecast of £59.3m. Greggs share price has recovered in line with earnings and is now trading above all-time highs. Despite this, it continues to trade at a circa 40% discount to global quick-service restaurant peers (35% historically). We believe this gap should tighten, underpinned by the strength of the model, as illustrated by its recovery to date. Consequently, based off the average of our discounted cash flow and relative valuation, we increase our target price to £2,800p. As a result, while we retain our positive stance on the company’s medium-term prospects, we feel this is reflected in the share price at these levels.”
Greggs features in Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which is now available to Premium subscribers. Greggs has turned over an average of £972.5m in the past five years with an average pre-tax profit of £64.9m. The Blue Book provides a five-year overview of turnover and profit, ranks companies according to turnover, pre-tax profit and profit conversion. It also provides details of directors earnings and highest paid directors. Companies can now have an unlimited number of people receive access to Propel Premium for a year for £895 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or a supplier. The regular single subscription rate of £395 plus VAT for operators and £495 plus VAT for suppliers remains the same. Email to sign up.
Tequila Mockingbird appoints Tony Scott as operations director: South London-based bar operator Tequila Mockingbird has appointed Tony Scott, formerly of Adventure Bar Group and Be At One, as its new operations director, as it looks to build a head office team that will fuel further expansion over the next five years, Propel has learned. Scott, who has extensive experience within the bar sector, was previously head of operations for Nightcap-owned Adventure Bar Group and an area manager for Stonegate Pub Company and Be At One. Tequila Mockingbird, which was founded in 2015 by cousins Jonathan Bas and Jake Brennan, has doubled the size of its estate over the past 12 months, with its most recent additions of Putney and Wimbledon. The company will open its seventh site later this summer after taking on the Bar Prague unit in Kingsland Road, Shoreditch. It said that Scott’s appointment represents the beginning of building a head office team that will fuel further expansion over the next five years. Bas, managing director, said: “We welcome Tony into our team at this exciting time and can’t wait for him to get stuck into the new role.”

Zia Lucia to open sixth site, in Balham: London-based pizzeria Zia Lucia is to open its sixth site, in Balham. Founders Claudio Vescovo and Gianluca D’Angelo will launch the site in Balham High Road next month. Zia Lucia first opened in Holloway Road, Islington, in 2016, with four types of pizza dough and has since added sites in Aldgate East, Hammersmith, Wembley and, most recently, Wandsworth. Vescovo and D’Angelo are in the process of combining their Zia Lucia restaurant in Islington with their neighbouring pasta restaurant Berto to bring the two concepts together under one roof.

The Chesterford Group opens Eastbourne site with mixed trading model: Fish and chip operator The Chesterford Group has opened a new Churchill’s Fish & Chips site, in Eastbourne, East Sussex, with a mixed trading model. The company has opened the site at the Langney Shopping Centre, creating 30 jobs. The venue, which serves Churchill’s sustainably sourced fish and chips, features an innovative quick-service restaurant concept – combining self-service kiosk ordering, click and collect, home delivery and a traditional takeaway service. The Chesterford Group managing director Paul Goodgame said: “We are continuing to evolve and use technology to provide great food and put a smile on our customers’ faces. This site has given us the opportunity to adapt our operational set-up to all the changes around digital ordering and delivery trends that have grown significantly during the pandemic.” The Chesterford Group operates circa 40 sites under the Churchill’s, Bankers Fish & Chips and FishnChickn.
Starbucks tests secret menu items via social media: Starbucks has begun a test that allows select digital customers to order secret menu items popularised on social media via an invitation from Instagram and Facebook. The company is leaning into ongoing social media trends – often led by influencers – that come up with new ways to customise Starbucks drinks that you can’t find on the menu board. These include the mixed iced matcha latte/iced chai latte, which was a craze on TikTok earlier this year, and The Pink Drink Remix, which is a version of the Pink Drink topped with vanilla sweet cream cold foam. Select Starbucks customers are invited via Facebook or Instagram to participate in the test and taken to a separate website where they are able to order one (or both) of the custom drinks, or they can also place their orders via the Starbucks app. “Starbucks is always exploring innovative ways to enhance the customer experience,” a Starbucks spokesman told Nation’s Restaurant News. “Our customers and partners often come up with creative customisations and we look forward to hearing feedback on their experience using this digital ordering feature.”
Burger specialist signs for new site at Bullring & Grand Central shopping centre: Birmingham-based burger brand Burger & Sauce has signed for a site at Bullring & Grand Central shopping centre. It will be the business’ fourth location and will open in a 1,200 square foot unit on Link Street later this month. The menu features its original handmade burgers, alongside a rotating selection of limited beef and chicken burger ranges, with a variety of sauces, chips and milkshakes. Saad Masoon of Burger & Sauce said: “Our food is our craft and we are proud to have built a successful brand, based on our simple concept and love of handmade burgers.” Iain Mitchell, UK commercial director at Hammerson, which owns the Bullring & Grand Central site, added:  “Burger & Sauce is following in the footsteps of Vietnamese Street Kitchen, both prime examples of local entrepreneurship taking space with us, and it is always exciting to see Birmingham-based businesses succeed here.”

Just Eat reports more than one million orders as England beat Ukraine at Euros: More than one million orders were made on Just Eat on Saturday evening (3 July) as England eased past Ukraine to reach the Euro 2020 semi-finals. The most popular time for orders was 7pm, as fans settled down ahead of the match. During this peak period, 2,500 orders were made every minute, a figure that Just Eat expects to be matched on Wednesday (7 July) as England face Denmark. Burgers were the most popular choice on Saturday, followed by pizza. Chinese, Indian and chicken made up the rest of the top five. The north west drove the most orders, followed by London and the north east. Matt Bushby, UK marketing director at Just Eat, said: “Food is an essential part of the match-day experience as the nation cheers England on from their sofas. The demand for food delivery over the tournament has been huge.”
Just Eat is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member
Prospect Pubs & Bars secures funding to aid expansion plans: Dan Shotton and Mark Draper, former owners of Redcomb Pubs, which was sold to Young’s in 2019, have secured funding to help with the expansion of their Prospect Pubs & Bars business. Cynergy Bank provided Prospect Pubs & Bars with a £1.6m loan through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme in November 2020 followed by another loan of £187,500 in June 2021, which will help them to open a further three pubs and create about 50 jobs. Prospect Pubs was launched in 2019 following the acquisition of its first site, The Evenlode in Eynsham, Oxfordshire. The company also currently runs The Victoria in Woodham, Surrey; The Royal Oak in Marlow, Buckinghamshire; and The Blue Ball in Walton-on-the-Hill, Surrey. The bank was advised by Trevor Watson of Davis Coffer Lyons. Steve Crosswell, relationship director at Cynergy Bank, said: “Cynergy Bank is delighted to have been able to support Dan and Mark with a refinance, plus additional funding to help them quickly grow to five sites. They are a proven management team having successfully exited Redcomb Pubs in 2019 and I’ve known the team for some time so it was great to formalise the relationship with them and be part of their new journey in growing Prospect Pubs.” Propel previously revealed Prospect Pubs & Bars plans to open two further sites this year, with one expected to be in north Oxfordshire and the other in Hampshire. As previously reported, Prospect Pubs & Bars plans to increase its rate of openings to between five and seven sites a year from 2022.

Digital menu-publishing platform Ten Kites acquired by Nutritics: Digital menu-publishing platform Ten Kites has been acquired by food and health software solution company Nutritics. The deal, for an undisclosed amount, will enable Nutritics to include the Ten Kites solution as part of its overall software offering to customers across 100 countries. It also enables Ten Kites to continue its international expansion with access to new market segments across Europe, Middle East and Australia. The combined entity currently employs 50 staff and this number is expected to continue to grow quickly to support further international expansion. Ten Kites was founded in 2013 by Stuart Wilson to meet a growing need in the sector, the ability to publish accurate and up-to-date allergen information to menu pages. Ten Kites is used by operators including Carluccio’s, Fridays, Fuller’s, Shepherd Neame and Wagamama. Nutritics managing director Stephen Nolan said: “We are delighted to be able to complete this significant acquisition and start to bring Ten Kites’ remarkable technology to our customers worldwide as we continue to scale internationally.” Wilson added: “This is the next step in our journey – one that opens up new opportunities for our brand, both at home and abroad. Ten Kites will continue to serve its customers and partners with the same level of collaboration and support, while also growing our reach in overseas markets, with support from Nutritics.”
Ten Kites is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member 

KFC UK & Ireland promotes Jack Hinchliffe to chief marketing officer: Jack Hinchliffe is to be promoted from marketing director to chief marketing officer at KFC UK and Ireland, according to Marketing Week. Hinchliffe has spent almost seven years at KFC, joining in 2015 as senior marketing manager and quickly gaining promotion to head of innovation later that same year. He was then named innovation director in 2016, before becoming marketing director in 2019. His promotion follows the announcement of Meghan Farren’s departure to become chief customer officer at Asda in October. KFC UK and Ireland general manager Paula MacKenzie said: “Jack is the perfect choice, having played such a huge part in transforming our brand in recent years, working alongside Meg and the team. His outstanding ability to pair his deep commercial understanding and operational expertise make him a great leader, not just a great marketer. As Meg hands the baton to Jack, our brand health has never been in a better place or our sales performance so strong.”

Thunderbird Fried Chicken opens second restaurant in association with Parkdean Resorts: Thunderbird Fried Chicken, the wings and fried chicken concept backed by TriSpan, opened its latest restaurant at Parkdean Resorts’ Trecco Bay Holiday Park in Porthcawl, south Wales, on Wednesday (7 July). The opening marks the second franchise unit to launch with Parkdean Resorts, following the opening at its Camber Sands park in June – and Thunderbird has five more sites in the pipeline. Thunderbird chief executive Paul Gilchrist said: “It’s been great working with the Parkdean Resorts team to open two franchise restaurants within the past three weeks. We’re really happy with the look and feel of both sites and wish the teams the best of luck heading into a busy summer.” Thunderbird Fried Chicken operates restaurants at Earl’s Court, Charing Cross and The O2, and delivery kitchens at Battersea, Shoreditch and Streatham.

The Athenian to open three more London delivery kitchens: Greek street food restaurant group The Athenian is to open three further delivery kitchens across London. The company will open at the Deliveroo Editions site in Balham this month, followed by Kentish Town and Wandsworth in August. The new kitchens will join the business’ existing delivery kitchens in Wood Green in north London, Brighton, Leeds, Nottingham and Manchester. Launched in 2014, The Athenian operates restaurants in Shoreditch, White City and Victoria in London, as well as Bristol. The Athenian offers Greek street food such as souvlaki, gyros, handmade halloumi fries and tomato croquettes, alongside Greek wine and craft beer.

Better burger brand Fat Hippo to make debut in Scotland with Lane7 concession: Better burger brand Fat Hippo is set to make its debut in Scotland, with an opening of a concession site in Edinburgh. The company, which recently opened a restaurant in Liverpool’s Bold Street, will open the concession in the newly launched Lane7 site in Edinburgh’s new St James Quarter. It will become the third link-up between Fat Hippo and Lane7, with the former operating concessions in the latter’s sites in Manchester and Sheffield. On the Edinburgh site, Fat Hippo, which was founded in 2010 by Michael Phillips, said: “We’re thrilled to announce your favourite independent burger joint is crossing the Scottish border. Once again, we’re teaming up with one of the sickest brands out there – Lane7 – and setting up a concession inside their new site in St James Quarter. Geared up with our massive menu of signature beef and boneless buttermilk chicken patties that come with free fries as standard, we’ve also got a carefully designed range of vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free options available as always. The future is burgers, bowling and beers.” In February, the business opened a site in Headingley, Leeds. The company also operates sites in Newcastle, Jesmond, Durham and Nottingham.
Deliveroo to create 400 technology jobs, launches new features to help restaurant partners: Deliveroo is to create 400 high-skilled technology jobs as it looks to support its rapid growth. The company is seeking to hire across a range of skillsets including software engineers, product managers, user researchers, designers and data scientists. Deliveroo said the expansion would enable the company to improve the experience of all three sides of the marketplace and allow the company to improve quality of service while gaining efficiency at the same time. The expanded team will work on a range of projects to support growth, such as improving Deliveroo’s on-demand grocery delivery offering, expanding its Signature service and growing the company’s delivery-only Editions kitchens. It comes as Deliveroo revealed new technology features that will help restaurant partners to improve connection with their customers and enable them to strengthen their offering. The new features will allow restaurants to receive real-time feedback and reviews from customers – visible only to each restaurant – on their service. Restaurants will benefit from direct restaurant-to-customer communication within the app, allowing restaurants to respond to feedback, send vouchers, remedy order issues in real-time and give personal touches to new or loyal customers. The new tools and features were developed following engagement with restaurants. Deliveroo chief technology officer Dan Winn said: “These new team members will play a vital role in building best-in-class technology to help restaurants reach new customers, improve rider experience and give customers access to the food they love.”

Itsu and Burger King UK backer Bridgepoint confirms IPO plans: Bridgepoint, the private equity group behind Itsu and Burger King UK, has confirmed plans to raise £300m with a stock market flotation in London. The private equity firm, which has about £27.4bn of assets under management across equity and debt funds, announced it is seeking to sell a quarter of its shares while a further 15% will be available through an over-allotment option. Bridgepoint said the funds raised would go to supporting its growth plans, provide greater strategic flexibility, drive long-term shareholder returns and repay debt. Executive chairman William Jackson said: “Over the past 30 years, we’ve built the global leader in middle market growth investing, with strength and depth across two very complementary strategies in private equity and private credit. Bridgepoint operates across the middle market at scale, providing access for some of the world’s most experienced investors to attractive growth businesses through its unique local insight and expertise, and its well-resourced platform. We have delivered strong and consistent returns for investors and shareholders through different economic cycles.”

Dalata expects to break even in first half but summer demand to remain below pre-pandemic levels: Irish hotel operator Dalata, which has a growing presence in the UK, has said it expects to break even in the first half of the year but added summer demand would remain below pre-pandemic levels until the return of international travel. The group is mitigating the impact of reduced trading levels through proactive cost control and the utilisation of available government support. As a result, the group expects to be close to break-even at adjusted Ebitda for the first six months of 2021. Since reopening, trading had been better than expected and while the lead time on bookings remains short, the group’s forward bookings continue to improve. The group also said its Birmingham hotel would not be proceeding (expected in 2024), owing to developer issues. However, the remainder of the pipeline remains on track. Occupancies for the second quarter were 30% in the UK, 24% in Dublin and 32% in regional Ireland. Occupancies for June were 44% in the UK, 37% in Dublin and 60% in regional Ireland. As seen in July and August 2020, when restrictions were relaxed, Dalata said there has been a bounce in leisure demand at its hotels in the regions, driven by staycations during the summer months. Looking ahead, the company said demand for its Dublin and London hotels in the summer months is expected to be ahead of the level achieved in 2020 but will remain “significantly” below 2019 levels. The company said both cities require the return of international travel for occupancies to recover more substantially. Goodbody leisure analyst Paul Ruddy said: “Importantly, the group managed to limit cash burn to €27m during the period despite being subject to significant government restrictions for the vast majority of the period and cash burn was negligible in the second quarter. Dalata trades on 10.2 times 2023 EV/Ebitda, at a discount to Whitbread (12.3 times) and offers a 9.4% free cash flow yield (before development capex). We would perceive this update positively.”
London-based food market operator The Spread signs for site at Hawley Wharf Camden: London-based food market operator The Spread has signed for a site at Hawley Wharf Camden. The company will open the 4,000 square foot site after agreeing a deal with landlord LabTech. The outdoor market will be home to more than 40 independent traders, providing an array of food and drink, focused on fresh produce. The Spread has operated food markets in London for more than five years, with experience throughout the city in areas such as Finchley, Hackney, Southbank, White City and Camden itself. Using simple turnover-based agreements, The Spread’s trade partners have included both start-ups and established brands across the capital. The Spread managing director Mike Norledge said: “Camden has always championed independents and emerging brands, so our operation will sit perfectly within Hawley Wharf Camden. The pandemic has encouraged entrepreneurship and we are looking forward to working with people in Camden who have embraced this spirit.” Veronika Chrascova, asset manager at LabTech, added: “The Spread adds yet another point of difference for Hawley Wharf Camden. The open space at the heart of the scheme has been designed with such a use in mind.” Colliers and CBRE represent Hawley Wharf Camden, The Spread dealt direct.

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