Marston’s CEO Ralph Findlay to step down
The CEO of Wolverhampton-based pub operator Marston’s, Ralph Findlay, will step down from his role at the end of the current financial year on 30 September 2021.
Findlay has been CEO of Marston’s since 2001 and has overseen recent developments including the launch of the Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company joint venture with Carlsberg UK and a deal to operate SA Brain’s pub estate in Wales.
"Ralph is widely respected and admired by all those in the hospitality industry and I have thoroughly enjoyed working with him over the past three years,” Marston’s chairman William Rucker commented. “He has overseen the development of Marston’s into one of the leading pub companies in the UK, through operational innovation to drive change and also transforming the business through strategic acquisition.
“Throughout his tenure with the company, Ralph has shown his dedication, passion and ambition in leading its people in a way that embodies Marston’s unique culture and he will be greatly missed by his colleagues and fellow board members alike,” he continued.
“He leaves Marston’s in excellent shape and well-positioned to rebuild trading and go from strength to strength when restrictions are lifted.
“While he remains in his role for another six months, I would like to take this opportunity to thank him publicly on behalf of the board, our people and our shareholders for his outstanding contribution to us, the company and the industry.”
The process to appoint his successor is underway and a further announcement will be made in due course.
Discussing his decision Findlay added: "It has been a great privilege to lead Marston’s for 20 years.
“I joined the board in 1996 and have been fortunate to work with many inspirational, talented and dedicated colleagues in an industry which is very close to my heart.
“Looking ahead to reopening and welcoming customers back into our wonderful pubs, I am confident that we have great people, a fantastic team in place and that my successor will enjoy working with them and the board to take this great company forward to the next phase of its development.”
Government more than trebles State Aid cap
The State Aid cap has been increased to more than £10m, offering larger pub, bar and restaurant firms greater access to Government-backed grants outlined in the Spring Budget.
According to an announcement by the Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Labour Markets, Paul Scully MP, on 4 March, the cap on grant support firms are able to claim will increase from £3.5m to £10.9m.
Taking to Twitter to confirm the news, Scully said: "We continue to back businesses of all sizes through the pandemic and I’m delighted to see the cap on Covid-19 support grants raised to £10.9m.
"Extending our support will help retail and hospitality chains and the thousands of staff they employ."
Seafood Pub Company founder to lead new Oakman division
As reported by The Morning Advertiser (MA), Hertfordshire-based multiple operator The Oakman Group has acquired six pubs from the administrators of Seafood Pub Company.
Furthermore, former managing director and founder of Seafood, Joycelyn Neve will also be joining Oakman to head up the new Seafood Pub division, which will initially be based in the north.
The new sites restore 150 jobs and mean Oakman is on track to have 40 venues in its estate by the end of this year.
Oakman Group CE Dermot King said: “I am delighted we have acquired these sites, which will be the foundation stone for the third brand within our group – with the Seafood Pub Joining the Oakman Inns and Beech House brands within our portfolio.
“Furthermore, these acquisitions will represent the next stage in our strategic development as we look to extend our boundaries beyond our Home Counties heartland.
“There is significant untapped potential in the premium pub sector and I am not placing any upper limits on our ambition.”
City Pub Group hires Emma Fox as an independent non-executive director
The owner and operator of 48 pubs across Southern England and Wales and a further four development sites, City Pub Group, has appointed Emma Fox as an independent non-executive Director with immediate effect.
The current CEO of wine and spirit merchant CEO of Berry Bros & Rudd, Fox has more than 30 years’ experience in the retail, leisure, and drinks sectors including roles at large retailers including Halfords, Walmart Canada and ASDA.
Fox has also spent time with Hollywood Bowl, Bass Brewers and served as a non-executive director at Punch.
Discussing the appointment, Clive Watson, executive chairman of City Pub Group, said: “We are delighted to welcome Emma to the board of City Pub Group to help bring her insight and experience as the company looks to take advantage of growth opportunities post-pandemic.
“Emma is the latest addition to evolve and strengthen our board for the exciting journey ahead.
“Emma has a wealth of experience, particularly in marketing and diversity in businesses, something which City Pub Group is determined to excel in and an area which we feel is critical for future success.
“We believe the long-term growth opportunity for the business is strong and Emma will form a crucial part of the board that will guide and help us achieve our goals.’’
Fox added: “City Pub Group is a vibrant business that has often challenged the status quo – I can’t wait to get started.
“I have been impressed with the company and am very excited by its potential. While the last year has clearly been challenging, City Pub Group is determined to emerge as a winner from the crisis and I’m thrilled to be part of the team that will lead this company forward.’’
Marston’s seeks bondholder waivers for third time
According to reports by The MA’s sister title MCA Insight, Wolverhampton-based pub operator Marston’s has once again asked its bondholders for a number of waivers of its financial covenants covering the second half of 2021.
Following “overwhelming support” from bondholders in May and November, the operator of close to 1,400 pubs is asking once more to accommodate enforced closures since December and measures implemented under the Government’s roadmap.
The group is also seeking to extend other technical waivers and amendments which were agreed to by the holders of its Secured Class A Notes in May 2020.
“The waivers/amendments being requested are required solely as a consequence of the enforced temporary re-closure of its pubs in England, Scotland and Wales by the UK government and the devolved administrations, as a result of the covid 19 pandemic measures,” Marston’s said in an update on the London Stock Exchange.
“The financial and liquidity position of Marston’s and its subsidiaries remains sound. As previously announced, the Group had £176m of headroom under its bank facilities as at 2 January 2021. Bondholders also benefit from the £120m Liquidity Facility which is expected to be only around £30m drawn at its peak.”
Bondholders have been asked to respond by 24 March.
Double Dutch launches scholarship for aspiring female bartenders
Premium tonic and mixer brand Double Dutch celebrated International Women’s Day 2021 by unveiling its Female Bartender Scholarship Programme.
Open to women aged 18 and over who are already working within the industry or looking to break into bartending, the Double Dutch Female Bartender Scholarship programme has been set up to empower aspiring female bartenders and mixologists in the UK.
The initiative, which was due to launch in spring 2020 but had to be postponed due to Covid-19, hopes to tackle the under-representation of women in the drinks and bar sectors.
It will feature everything from professional training and bespoke mentoring to financial assistance and will pair participants with globally acclaimed bartending schools and training providers to find suitable courses for the first cohort of successful candidates.
Topics will range from molecular pairing, creating classic cocktails and competing in competitions to networking, branding, social media and wellness.
Arc Inspirations collaborates with award-winning Schofield brothers to launch training school
Bar operator Arc Inspirations has announced that it is to collaborate with leading bartenders and trainers Daniel and Joe Schofield to launch the ARCademy training school to develop and upskill the group’s bar teams.
As part of the partnership, Arc Inspirations CEO Martin Wolstencroft will act as a mentor to the brothers as they look to launch new cocktail venue Schofield’s Bar in Manchester.
CEO and co-founder of the 17-site operator of the Banyan Bar & Kitchen, Box and Manahatta brands, Wolstencroft, described the partnership as a “tremendous coup”.
“To have the opportunity to tap into Joe and Daniel’s experience, knowledge and craft at this time is a game-changer for our people,” he said. “I have known them for a long time and am really pleased that we will have two of the best in the business helping us deliver the new ARCademy programme.”
Joe Schofield added: “Daniel and I are thrilled at the opportunity to be able to spend some time with the team at Arc Inspirations.
“Their alumni have gone on to do incredible things for the hospitality sector, many of whom we consider dear friends.
“We are excited to be part of the journey for the current Arc team, who without a doubt, will continue to shape our wonderful industry for the better."
JDW, Loungers, Oakman Group and Drake & Morgan join the BBPA
The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has expanded its membership with the addition of JD Wetherspoon, Loungers, the Oakman Group and Drake & Morgan.
The BBPA – whose members account for around 90% of beer brewed in Britain and own around 20,000 of the nation’s pubs – stated that the growth in membership and more than £2bn in supportive measures in the Budget highlighted the value in having a strong voice for the pub and brewing sectors.
It added that the type of organisations that were now joining represented the transformation of the beer and pub sector into a “modern, innovative and forward-looking industry”.
According to its founder and executive chairman, Peter Borg-Neal, the Oakman Group has established a new concept of the “modern public house”, while Drake & Morgan’s stable comprises a unique collection of cocktail bars and restaurants across London, Manchester and Edinburgh.
Additionally, the operator of 168 café bars under its Lounge and Cosy Club concepts, Loungers is a rapidly expanding café bar operator with sites spread nationwide.
“We warmly welcome our latest members, many of whom represent a shift we have seen in the sector to that of modern, innovative offer to beer drinkers and pubgoers,” Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the BBPA said.
Small hospitality operators spent £9,750 of savings to pay pandemic staff
New research from small business accounting software provider, QuickBooks, has found that small business owners in hospitality stumped up on average £9,750 of their own savings to keep paying staff during the pandemic – over £2,000 more than small businesses in other industries.
On top of this, the data found that more than three quarters (77%) of hospitality businesses comprising 1-10 employees have been forced to make “challenging business decisions” in the past year to stay afloat.
What’s more, 62% of those running small hospitality businesses have had to work extra hours or on the weekend to stay across new payroll regulations.
“I know first-hand the human impact of payroll – not being able to pay my staff could affect someone’s ability to pay their rent or mortgage,” Carina Lepore, winner of The Apprentice 2019 and owner of South London bakery Dough Bakehouse, said. “The sense of responsibility is huge.
“Through lockdown we managed to pivot quickly through digital to takeaway which allowed us to stay open and trading, but like most other small businesses we were hit by the pandemic.
“To keep all my staff on I had to make a number of personal sacrifices, but I wanted to do this as my staff are my priority.”