Newswire - 21 July

21 July 2020Newswire Topics: Hotels & Guest Houses, Leisure & Nightclubs, Pubs & Bars, Rental, Restaurants
Newswire - 21 July

Towerbrook acquires Azzurri Group

The private equity firm has bought the operator of brands ASK Italian, Zizzi and Coco Di Mama, via a pre-pack administration. TowerBrook will be injecting more than £70m into the business. The deal secures the future of circa 225 restaurants but about 75 sites will not reopen.

Buzz (Gala) to close 26 sites as part of CVA

The Bingo operator is set to permanently close 26 sites as part of a restructure. The deal will see backer Caledonia Investments inject £22m in the business. Buzz said 91 of its clubs would continue to trade, with plans to reopen 12 sites from 6 August.

The rent elephant is still in the room

Morgan Davies, CEO of Barburrito, has told Propel unless there is government intervention or landlords change their stance, the sector will see "an explosion of administrations in September. How can anyone commit to high base rents if they don't know what's going to happen to the sales line over the next six months.

Pizza Express in possible debt for equity swap

The Times has reported that owner Hony Capital is now thought to be resigned to bondholders taking control. There are talks that a financial restructuring, possibly including some restaurant closures, could come as early as this week.

Face coverings to apply to retail but not hospitality

Environment secretary George Eustice has said the mandatory use of face coverings in England will apply to "all shops" but not pubs and restaurants.

Bistrot Pierre completes pre-pack sale

The bulk of the business has been acquired by a new company through a pre-pack administration. The new company has acquired 19 of the 25 Bistrot Pierre sites - located in the north, Midlands, Wales and South Coast.

Out Of The Woods Restaurant Group in restructure talks

The operator of four pubs across London, has had its future thrown into doubt. The business is understood to be working with restructuring firm ReSolve.

East Coast Concepts is working with advisers

5 strong Manchester-based restaurant and bar group (operator of Neighbourhood and Victors brands) is in talks with FRP to identify options for the business. Options are thought to include a further equity injection.

Licensing update from John Gaunt

A summary of licensing news relating to the covid-19 situation can be found here.

Summary of reopening surveys 11-12 July

A review of various surveys from CGA, HIM, MCA, Coffer Peach, Deloitte include the following points:-
57% of businesses polled opened with 29% saying they were busy and a very similar 31% saying they were quiet
Sales were a little disappointing but came without any trouble
Villages & community units did better than city centres. - Some re-openings in towns could shut again.
Travel hubs are particularly quiet.
Total wet sales in managed pubs were 49% down on pre-lockdown levels on Saturday and 52% down on Sunday
Beer sales did best -36% Sat, -43% Sun
Spirits were -50% Sat and -45% Sun.
Soft drinks were weak at -58% Sat and -55% Sun
A different survey saw overall like-for-like trading in the managed pub, bar and restaurant sector down 45% on the same weekend last year.'
Only 11% of consumers now plan to cut back their spend in restaurants and takeaway during the next month, down from one-quarter (25%) on the previous survey two weeks ago.

Travelodge sites under threat from rival operator

Various unnamed landlords (up to 40) are in discussions with Room2 to replace Travelodge with the serviced apartment operator, which wants to launch a low-cost version of its "hometel" concept, which combines serviced apartments with some extra add-ons normally found in hotels.

Byron set to shed circa 20 sites under possible pre-pack administration

The better burger brand could drop about 20 sites from its 51-strong estate, if as predicted, it undergoes a pre-pack administration.

And Finally...the Pubs Code Adjudicator (PCA) has published a new factsheet about trigger events..

The PCA has already confirmed coronavirus could not in itself be a trigger event. However, the significant business impact of any event connected to the trading of an individual pub after it reopens may be a trigger event, if it satisfies all of the conditions in the code, which are set out in the new factsheet. Showing there has been a trigger event entitles the tied tenant to a Rent Assessment Proposal by which their tied rent is reviewed and a Market Rent Only option to go free-of-tie.

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Graeme Bunn

Graeme Bunn

Managing Director

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