Friday Five: the week's top news

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Friday Five: the week's top news

Related tags: Hospitality

This week's main hospitality news stories include warnings of double-digit price increases as VAT rises, SushiDog's plans for expansion, and Jeremy King losing control of Corbin & King.

- UKHospitality has warned the increase in VAT for hospitality businesses will give operators no choice but to pass on costs to consumers, with double-digit price rises expected​. VAT in hospitality will rose from 12.5% to its pre-pandemic level of 20% today (1 April), at the same time as the sector is forecasting cost inflation running at 18%. Recent business surveys by UKHospitality show the industry is facing a 95% hike in energy bills, 19% in labour costs, and a 17% and 14% rise in food and drink prices, respectively. Keeping VAT at 12.5% would have supported operators trying to absorb this tidal wave of cost increases, the trade body says, adding that raising prices at this time is expected to 'wreak havoc' on consumer demand and could lead to a wave of business failures. Meanwhile, restaurateurs are being told to 'get ready for another difficult year'​ as costs spiral across the sector.

- Quick service sushi roll concept SushiDog is planning a raft of openings in the capital with an eye to also expanding outside of London and eventually overseas​. SushiDog, which currently operates sites in Covent Garden and Westfield White City, will open two new locations in the coming months - beginning with a site on Brewer Street in Soho that's set to launch in late April, and followed by a location in Bishopsgate that's scheduled for June. Both sites will replicate the existing grab-and-go format and offer a menu of customisable poke bowls, salads and made-to-order sushi rolls that are wrapped up in a similar size to a burrito. The group is expected to confirm two further London locations in late 2022 and a further three in 2023, with a view to securing locations outside of London and, eventually, outside the UK further down the line.

Jeremy King has lost control of the group that bears his and business partner Chris Corbin's name​ after its major shareholder, Minor International, fully acquired it in an auction held overnight. Minor confirmed that its MINT subsidiary made a winning offer in the final round of bidding for the Corbin & King business this morning (1 April), having already held a 74% interest and controlling board position since 2017. In a separate statement, King confirmed that his attempt to buy the company, with the support of American investment fund Knighthead, had failed. “We took part in the auction to try and buy the business and assets of Corbin & King that we didn’t already own, including of course all the restaurants,” he wrote. “Regrettably, that attempt failed and Minor Hotel Group was the successful bidder, buying the entire business.”

- Humble Chicken chef Angelo Sato is to bring back his QSR Japanese brand Yatai following the acquisition of a site in Fitzrovia​. The concept was originally part of the opening line up at Market Hall’s flagship West End site but only traded for a few months due to the pandemic. The Goodge Street site is set to open in May and will have a focus on takeaway and delivery, although there will be some seating. Sato - who has worked in some of the best restaurants in Japan as well as top restaurants in London - says his new site won’t be identical to the one he launched at Market Halls but will still be focused on rice balls, sandos, katsu dishes, sushi bowls and donburi.

- 'Ethically conscious' delivery business Foodstuff is set to grow its UK presence having recently raised £1.1m in a seed round​. The money will enable Foodstuff, which currently operates in six cities across England and Scotland, to accelerate its expansion into 10 new locations, as well as turbo-charging the future development of its recently-released mobile app. Foodstuff was founded in 2020 and positions itself as offering 'food delivery with a conscience' that partners exclusively with 'tried and tasted independent local restaurants'. Each order is delivered via 100% emission-free vehicles, by drivers that are 'paid a fair wage for a real job'. “We're in a game-changing moment for Foodstuff and this funding gives us the firepower to scaleup and connect loads more foodies, with even more high quality independent restaurants,” says Toby Savill, co-founder and CEO at Foodstuff.

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

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