Published 4 January 2022
Catch up on the latest industry news stories of the week from the CODE Bulletin
There hasn’t been a hotel at Selfridges since 2008, but that will soon change as the department store’s new owners have promised to reopen one as part of their ambitious development plans. The Thai retailer Central Group, together with the Austrian property firm Signa, want to overhaul the London flagship by adding a luxury hotel and serviced apartments in part of the building that has been left empty for more than ten years. Both companies, which now operate Selfridges in a 50-50 joint venture, say they will also focus on food. Signa executive chairman Dieter Berninghaus told the FT: “We plan to trade up the food hall of Selfridges. That is one of our core competencies we have in the group. We operate the best fine food delicatessen business in the world.” The revamp follows the Christmas Eve sale of the 113-year-old business, when the Weston family sold it for £4 billion, having bought it for £598m in 2003.
Arriving in London after taking a ludicrously exclusive spot on the Strand is Wolfox Collective, a hyper-modern hospitality group based in Brighton which specialises in coffee, baked goods, and brunch. On the south coast are cafes, restaurants and a hotel, and there are now branches beyond the seaside in Haywards Heath and Leeds. The brand’s London debut will be a “high-end cafe and wine bar”, Hot Dinners reported, and will reside in the historic Savoy Taylors Guild, a Grade II-listed site and a tailors since the early 20th century. The menu might journey from poke bowls to ramen, French toast to overnight oats. Other items include a Sussex cheeseboard, tempura cauliflower, and caramelised pork belly with a sticky rice parcel and hispi greens.
Ever the industry champions, UKHospitality said pub and restaurant businesses lost more than £10,000 on average in the week leading up to Christmas, and reported takings were down 60 per cent compared to 2019. For many businesses, losses well exceeded £10,000, and now it’s January, with all its booze-shunning perversions and veganism. It is curious then that health minister Gillian Keegan recently suggested further financial support for hospitality will not be necessary because pubs and restaurants were “pretty full”. The Conservative MP for Chichester said her experience of dining out in London during the festive season moved her to believe “people are still going out”. The prevailing hope now is people flow before they go – and do go.
Lee Skeet is opening his first permanent restaurant this month. The former Hedone head chef will launch Cora above Cafe Milkwood in Cardiff on 17 January, serving 12 guests an “intimate” £75 tasting menu each night and focusing on seafood and game. “The aim is to create a relaxed and ambitious restaurant where you can enjoy the best quality produce available in the capital, in a laid back and inviting atmosphere, all set to a hip hop soundtrack,” Skeet, who has also cooked for Gordon Ramsay and Marcus Wareing, said on his website. He told Wales Online he hopes to win the Welsh capital its first Michelin star.
Work will start at the much-anticipated St Michael’s development in Manchester in early January 2022, with expected completion in 2024, Gary Neville’s Relentless Developments has announced. As well as office and retail space, the project includes cafes, restaurants, a spa and gym, and a five-star hotel. It is expected to bring in £120m worth of investment into Manchester and create almost 2,000 jobs. The former United star said: “This is such an important project for Manchester. We are really pleased to be announcing the start-on-site in what is another major step forward for this legacy scheme. The aim is to deliver a world class development for our city and the UK.”
Angela Hartnett was awarded an OBE in the New Year’s honours list. The Murano chef-patron received an MBE in 2007 for services to hospitality and has now gone one further, having been particularly recognised for her tireless efforts supporting the NHS over the course of the pandemic. During the first lockdown in 2020, Hartnett set up the charity Cook-19 to create and deliver meals to NHS workers and was among the 54 chefs who contributed to the Chefs at Homecookbook in aid of Hospitality Action a year later. She said: “It’s just amazing to achieve this and it could not have been done without the teams, past and present, at the restaurants.”
Robin Hutson was also awarded an OBE in the 2021 list, having been another leading voice for the hospitality industry during a tumultuous two years. Hutson, who owns the Pig hotel group, spearheaded the ‘Seat at the Table’ campaign, lobbying the Government to better represent and support pubs and restaurants in Parliament. He said: “I am thrilled and humbled in equal measures as there are so many unsung heroes doing great work in our industry. I have been lucky to find hospitality as a career and am very grateful for the rewards, awards and this honour in particular, that I’ve received.”