- Filipino fast food chain Jollibee is planning to open 10 new restaurants in the UK this year as part of a £30m expansion drive. The group, which currently operates three sites in London, Liverpool and Leicester respectively, wants to be in 'every major city in the UK'. Last year Jollibee announced plans to open 50 restaurants across the UK in the next three to five years, as well as grow its presence in Italy, Spain and other European markets. The group will open a new flagship UK site in London's Leicester Square in May, after lockdown restrictions on restaurants are lifted, with another nine sites expected to launch before the end of the year. A further 15 to 20 openings are planned for 2022. BigHospitality understands that sites in Edinburgh, Leeds and Cardiff are under consideration, with cities including Manchester and Birmingham also being targeted for expansion.
- Six former Seafood Pub Company sites have been acquired from administrators by the Oakman Group, with its founder Joycelyn Neve joining Oakman to oversee a new Seafood Pub division. The deal, which will give Oakman a foothold in the North of England, will restore some 150 jobs that were lost when The Seafood Pub Company fell into administration in June last year. Oakman says the new acquisitions will strengthen its aspirations to have 40 pubs in its portfolio by the end of 2021. It currently operates an estate of 33 sites, the bulk of which are concentrated in the home counties. The six Seafood Pub Company sites acquired by Oakman include Alma Inn in Colne; Derby Arms in Longridge; Farmers Arms in Great Eccleston; Fenwick Arms in Claughton; Fleece Inn in Addingham; and Forest Inn in Fence. It is expected that all six pubs will reopen when lockdown restrictions on indoor hospitality begin to ease on 17 May.
- The Government has confirmed another extension of the lease forfeiture moratorium and is to launch a call for evidence to help it monitor the overall progress of commercial rent negotiations. The Government states that its current position is to support commercial landlords and tenants to agree their own arrangements for paying or writing off rent debts by the time the moratorium is now due to expire on 30 June. However, it adds that if these discussions do not happen and there remains 'a significant risk to jobs', the Government is prepared to take 'further steps'. As such, it plans to launch a call for evidence on commercial rents to help monitor the overall progress of negotiations between tenants and landlords. The call for evidence will set out potential steps the Government could take after 30 June, ranging from a phased withdrawal of current protections to legislative options targeted at those businesses most impacted by Covid-19.
- Deliveroo has confirmed it is 'considering an initial public offering'. It follows reports from late last year that the delivery service was intending to launch an IPO, which last week it confirmed would be on the London Stock Exchange (LSE). In a letter published on the LSE, Will Shu, founder and chief executive of Deliveroo, said the business have grown bigger than he thought possible, and was now taking the next big step in its journey “allowing everyone to have a share in our future”. “That’s why we are planning to take Deliveroo public here in London, the city where it all started - and we plan to offer our customers across the UK the chance to own a part of the business,” he said. “We are proud to be enabling our customers to participate in a future float and have the chance to buy shares.”
- The Government has extended planning exemptions designed to make it easier for hospitality businesses to set up al fresco dining areas by another year. Ahead of the planned reopening of outdoor hospitality settings on 12 April, Housing and Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick has written to every council leader in the country, urging them to give restaurant and pub owners a break after a year of enforced closures. He told them that planning rules for al fresco dining and temporary shelters must be waived unless there are exceptional circumstances. And in a further boost for the industry, he has extended the concession until the end of September 2022.
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