James Halliwell

James is the Editor of MCA.

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  • Manchester 3

    Kate Nicholls: “The UK needs to get used to sudden lockdowns”


    The sudden introduction of restrictive measures in Greater Manchester at the weekend was chaotic, but could turn out to be a good thing if the result of the Leicester-lockdown is anything to go by, UK Hospitality CEO Kate Nicholls has told MCA. Speaking at MCA’s virtual event The Conversation, Nicholls said the rushed announcement meant initially there was “great confusion about what the rules meant, great uncertainty for a lot of customers, and it took quite a long time to get the details of what people were allowed to do in pubs and bars and what they were allowed to do outdoors.”

  • GettyImages-1169593492 (1)

    CACI warns of lasting impacts on consumer behaviour


    CACI has released a report into what it describes as the “new consumer reality” and the impact the coronavirus will have on destinations, landlords, brands and operators throughout 2020 and beyond. It identifies four key consumer trends seen throughout July. It says mobility is well below pre-lockdown levels, currently at an average of 62%, which is up from low of 32%. In terms of how that is split between city centres and more rural areas, city centres are pegged well down at 30% due to a combination of a lack of workers, tourists and shoppers.

  • Star Pubs & Bars

    Pubs and restaurants see sales continue to slowly rise


    Coffer Peach Business Tracker figures for w/c 20 July 20 show that collective like-for-like sales were down 28.5% year on year, but up on the 31.6% decline the week before, and the 39.8% decline the week before that. The rise has been helped by more sites reopening, with 68% of group-operated sites open compared to 60% the week before. “Trading at just over 70% of pre-covid norms is an improvement on the week before for those businesses operating, but it’s more steady than sensational,” said CGA director Karl Chessell.“Operators are still taking it cautiously as demand edges up, and that’s been particularly true among restaurant chains.”

  • Puttshack

    Puttshack back in the swing from 8 August


    Puttshack will open its White City site on 8 August followed by its Lakeside venue later in the month. Bookings will be available to make from 3 August. Several safety measures have been introduced, including PPE for staff, who will also be temperature checked before every shift. Hand sanitiser will also be prevalent while clubs and golf balls will be cleaned after every use. For customers, groups will be limited to six people

  • starbucks cup

    Starbucks sales slump


    Starbucks has reported a 40% fall in global sales as a result of the coronavirus, though average orders increased in value by 23%. “Since the beginning of the covid-19 outbreak in January, we have taken a principled approach to navigate the crisis,” said president and CEO Kevin Johnson. “Every step of the way, we have thoughtfully addressed the needs of Starbucks stakeholders and are particularly proud of the industry-leading investments we have made to support our partners while creating a safe, familiar and convenient experience for our customers.

  • obesity fat bench unhealthy

    Big fat stats put the obesity debate back on the menu


    There are times everyone needs a juicy bacon cheeseburger, a big portion of chips, a three piece KFC, a pepperoni pizza, lots of chocolate, a few scoops of ice cream or some crisps. Not altogether obviously, that would be far too delicious. But individually, and as an occasional treat, where’s the harm? The trouble is the UK has long suffered from a lack of restraint. Couple that with our love of takeaways and a national diet rooted in stodgy classics and we have reached a point where the government estimates that 63% of adults in England are overweight or obese. It says one in three kids leaves primary school overweight or obese. Obesity related illness costs the NHS over £6bn every year. Those are big fat stats.

  • Waitress

    Over 53,000 restaurants sign up to Eat Out scheme


    The HMRC has said over 53,000 outlets have signed up to the government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme - and has set up an online finder so consumers can find participating restaurants. It’s also released stickers and posters for participating restaurants to display in their windows to advertise they are taking part. “Restaurants, cafes and bars play a vital role in our economy, employing more than a million people,” said chancellor Rishi Sunak. “They have been hit hard by coronavirus, so it’s vital we do everything we can to help them recover.

  • Whitbread

    Whitbread scraps £10 cap on industry discount


    Whitbread has scrapped the £10 Eat Out to Help Out discount limit and will give guests 50% off the food bill and soft drinks on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday during August. All its 750 restaurants, whose brands include Beefeater, Brewers Fayre, Table Table, Whitbread Inns, Cookhouse + Pub and Bar + Block will have reopened by 5 August and all will participate without any cap on the 50% discount.

  • Business handshake

    Deals fall sharply in Q2 2020


    Grant Thornton has said deals are still closing amidst the coronavirus pandemic, but the numbers are well down on Q1. Its ‘Food and beverage insights’ report said 27 deals were announced in Q2 2020 compared to 44 in Q1 and that 52 deals were done in Q2 last year, a 39% and 48% fall respectively. However, the total disclosed deal value for Q2 2020 was £2bn from 11 with publicly disclosed values, a significant increase on Q1 2020’s value of £298.8m million. A large part of this 578% increase was down to the £780m JV between Marston’s and Carlsberg to form Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company.

  • nandos sauces

    Nando’s boosts welfare standards and aims for zero carbon emissions


    Nando’s is making sweeping changes to improve the welfare of its chickens as well as the overall sustainability of its business. Nando’s already used fresh Red Tractor assured chickens and will continue to do so, but has now signed up to the Better Chicken Commitment, which means implementing higher standards of welfare in its supply chain by 2026, including not using chickens reared in cages or multi-tiered systems.

  • GettyImages-1124650136

    Trade improves two weeks post-lockdown


    Pub, bars and restaurants open in England have said sales improved in the second week after the lockdown was lifted as more sites reopened, according to the latest Coffer Peach Business Tracker. Like-for-like sales remain well down on pre-coronavirus levels, with sales down 31.6% on last year, but that still represents and improvement on the 39.8% level recorded in the first week back. Some 60% of group-operated sites were open for indoor eating and drinking, up 55% trading during the first week.

  • restaurant cafe table

    Editorial: Huge events, important people and big decisions


    Where to begin? The events of the last four months have been disastrous for everyone, from the smallest SME to the global economy, not to mention the general public. And the face of hospitality has significantly changed. Since lockdown lifted I’ve been served by people in branded face masks, full face transparent visors and had my temperature taken with a thermo-imaging gun. I’ve been barked at for stepping the wrong way, smiled at for stepping the right way

  • Deliveroo pub

    Deliveroo launches table service element to its app


    Deliveroo has added a table service element to its app so customers in restaurants in pubs and bars can order their food via the Deliveroo app, reducing contact between staff and customers. Over 2,000 restaurants are already using it, and there is zero commission on any orders placed. Deliveroo also said it was seeing a “steady growth” of pubs and bars on its platform, including chains like Mitchells and Butlers, Greene King and Brewdog.

  • Waitress

    One in three hospitality workers could lose jobs, warns PWC


    PWC has warned that one in three hospitality workers could lose their jobs by the end of the year. It said that workers in “accommodation and food services” were most at risk because of the impact of the coronavirus on trade and the high number of furloughed staff, and predicted that 32% of furloughed staff face redundancy.

  • Eggslut masks

    Eggslut opens second UK outlet


    Eggslut has opened its 10th location worldwide and second UK outlet in London’s Fitzrovia, at 19 Percy Street. The two level restaurant from the cult brand has worked with street-artist Woskerski and installation experts Bompas and Parr on the interior, and teamed up with regular supply partners Clarence Court eggs, Bread Ahead bakery and Nude Coffee Roasters. The site has launched with the now-familiar social distancing measures, cashless payment, a one-way walking system and plastic screens at tills. All staff will wear plastic gloves and masks.

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    D&D receives 963 applications for single role


    The stark reality for employment in the hospitality industry has been laid bare by D&D London receiving almost 1,000 applications in 24 hours for a receptionist position at its 20 Stories restaurant in Manchester. D&D said it had received 963 online applications for the role before it was closed due to the “unprecedented” interest, which it said showed the dearth of hospitality roles currently available in the industry, as well as the huge rise in unemployment caused by the lockdown.

  • Restaurant

    Hospitality Leaders Poll: Confidence is growing


    Confidence is on the up among operators, according to the latest weekly Hospitality Leaders Poll by MCA/HIM. Last week, when asked how confident they were in the future for their business, of the 308 polled 57% expressed a level of confidence, with 11% saying they were ‘confident’ about the future, 42% saying they were ‘quite confident’ and just 3% saying they were ‘very confident’ about the future for their business. This week, of the 271 respondents, all of whom are board level operators or founders, that figure jumped to 68%, possibly as a result of the VAT cut and Eat Out to Help Out scheme unveiled by chancellor Rishi Sunak.

  • ASK Italian

    Azzurri latest to announce closures after rescue deal


    The Azzurri Group has been acquired by TowerBrook Capital Partners via a pre-pack administration process, but 75 sites will close. Azzurri, which is made up of 301 restaurants including Zizzi, Ask and Coco di Mama, said when the coronavirus hit it acted “swiftly to protect its employees and customers, deciding to close all restaurants ahead of the government’s lockdown. Azzurri took all possible steps to protect the financial position of the business by ceasing all capex, renegotiating rental payments and food supplier costs and furloughing all restaurant staff and non-critical central staff.”

  • greene

    Greene King: 99% feel safe in the pub


    Some 70% of people have said going to the pub for a post-lockdown pint was a top priority, ahead of visiting family and friends, according to a survey by Greene King. Greene King surveyed over 25,000 people to understand their views on returning to pubs and how they found the experience. Despite warnings that the prevalence of PPE and other enhanced safety measures might spoil the traditional pub vibe, 86% of respondents said the pub they visited still had the atmosphere they had been hoping for.

  • Pizza Express

    Potential restructure at Pizza Express


    Hony Capital, which owns Pizza Express, could be “all but wiped out in a restructuring” according to a report in the Times. It said Hony Capital, which bought the 627 strong chain for £873m in 2014, had “looked at the possibility of injecting more equity into the business but is now thought to be resigned to ceding control to its bondholders.” It went on to say that “none of the parties involved would comment” but there “were suggestions last night that a financial restructuring, possibly including some restaurant closures, could come as early as next week.”

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