Friday Five: The week's top news

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Friday Five: The week's top news

Related tags: Restaurant, Coronavirus

As the Coronavirus crisis continues to dominate the headlines, we round-up some of the main stories regarding how it has affected the hospitality industry in the past week.

- Pret A Manger has called in consultants to advise on aspects of a 'comprehensive transformation plan' for the business​, as it works to recover following the Coronavirus lockdown. The c.500-strong sandwich chain has hired professional services firm Alvarez & Marsal (A&M) and property agent CWM to work on elements of its strategy going forward, including negotiating a new rent package for the group. According to sources close to the company, Pret is seeking to switch to a “turnover rent” model, which links payments to the turnover achieved at each site.

- James Lowe and John Ogier, the team behind Michelin-starred Lyle’s and Borough Market wine bar and bakery Flor, are launching a pizza takeaway brand​ this month. Called ASAP Pizza, the venture is said to be borne from the pair’s long-standing plans to open a larger bread and pizza-led restaurant, and the necessities and pace of a post-Coronavirus world. Described as having a New York style vibe, ASAP Pizza will launch on 10 June and will operate from the Flor kitchen on Borough Market’s Bedale Street via Click & Collect and Deliveroo and will bring the duo’s take on sourdough pizzas made with heritage British wheat.

Eight insurers will go to court next month​ to decide whether their business interruption policies should pay out on claims related to the Coronavirus pandemic. It is hoped the High Court test case, brought forward by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), will provide clarity regarding the issue to both policyholders and insurers. Since originally announcing the action at the beginning of May, the FCA says it has approached 56 insurers; and reviewed more than 500 relevant policies from 40 insurers. From this review, the watchdog has identified a sample of 17 policy wordings that 'capture the majority of the key issues that could be in dispute' from a pool of 16 insurers, eight of whom have been asked to take part in the court case. They are: Arch Insurance, Argenta, Ecclesiastical, Hiscox, MS Amlin, QBE, RSA and Zurich.

- Housing minister Simon Clarke has said the Government intends to maintain a two-metre social distancing rule despite growing calls, particularly from within the hospitality sector, for it to be reduced​. Speaking on Sky News earlier this week, Clarke said the Government believed the two-metre rule minimised the Coronavirus risk to the public, whilst also allowing people to get on with their daily lives. "We're not doing this arbitrarily," he said. "We're doing it because that's the advice we've been given." It comes after a new study, published in medical journal The Lancet, concluded that maintaining a two-metre distance from others is twice as effective at preventing the spread of Coronavirus than a one-metre gap.

- It's been confirmed that Boparan Restaurant Group (BRG) paid just £3.4m in its deal to acquire ailing restaurant chain Carluccio's​. An administrator's report of the sale shows that the Giraffe and Ed’s Easy Diner owner spent £3.225m on its takeover of Carluccio's UK business, which included 30 of the chain's 73 existing sites; with an extra £125,000 spent acquiring a single site in Dublin. At the time of the sale there was online speculation that the deal had cost BRG around £3m. The administrator's report shows that BRG paid £1m for the intellectual property of the brand; with the leaseholds for the 30 UK sites costing £299,966. It also reveals that BRG originally put in an offer of £4.5m, which would have seen the group acquire 47 sites including the one in Dublin. However, that offer was subsequently revised down.

Check below for more of this week's headlines, or click here​.

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