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Thu 31st Jul 2014 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Whole Food Market UK losses widen to £14.2m: Whole Foods Market, which operates nine sites in the UK, saw its losses mount to £14.21m in the UK last year despite a surge in sales as it benefits from shoppers’ hunt for better quality food. Sales rose by 26% to £81.55m as the company opened one new store and enjoyed an 8.6% rise in like-for-like sales in established outlets in the year to 29 September 2013, according to accounts for Fresh & Wild, the UK parent company. But pre-tax losses widened by 12.6% from £12.61m in 2012 as head office costs increased and it opened a new store in Cheltenham in 2012 and prepared to open outlets in Richmond and Fulham in West London. As it celebrates a decade of trading in the UK, the retailer known for its organic and health foods has now racked up trading losses of £50.6m in the UK since it acquired Fresh & Wild branches in 2004 and launched its first Whole Foods outlet in Kensington, West London, in 2007. The company opened sites in Richmond and Fulham after the year-end, which means it is set to hit the £100m turnover mark this year. The company had an impairment charge of £6.4m on a store site, which came after an £4.5m impairment the year before. It said: “Total administrative expenses (which rose from £37.8m in 2012 to £46.5m last year) improved 147 basis points to 57.1% of sales during the period ended 29 September 2013. The improvement reflects leverage in employment-related expenses as a percentage of sales and decreased costs related to pre-opening and relocation activities during the period. These improvement were partially offset by an increase in rent and tangible fixed assets charges as a percentage of sales.” Jeff Turnas, the company’s UK regional president, said: “We are pleased with our healthy [established] store sales growth, which we believe highlights the increasing awareness of the Whole Foods Market brand and demand for the differentiated shopping experience we offer. We expect our investments to deliver strong returns over the long term.” The company saw UK employee numbers rise 16% to 1,029 during the year.
 

Industry News:

Giraffe, Amber Taverns and Metailer join Professor Chris Muller Multi-site Management Masterclass: Giraffe, Amber Taverns and Metailer have become the latest companies to join the United States’ leading thinker, teacher and author on multi-site foodservice management, Professor Chris Muller, at Propel’s next Multi Site Management Masterclass on Friday, 26 September. The cafe bar brand Loungers has already booked its 13-strong operations team into the seminar. Leading UK businesses such as Mitchells & Butlers and TGI Friday’s have sent staff to be taught by Professor Muller at Boston University’s School of Hospitality. Now Professor Muller is coming to the UK for the first time to lead this bespoke day. His interactive seminar will include contributions from Shake Shack’s chief executive, Randy Garutti, and a live case study from SSP. The event will provide valuable insights for founders and area managers of small and medium-sized multi-site companies and area managers of large companies. Among those also booking tickets so far include Ed’s Easy Diner, Draft House, Castle Rock Brewery, McMullen, Hall & Woodhouse, Bourne Leisure, Beds and Bars, TLC Inns, Dorbiere, Bulldog Hotel Group and Yummy Pub Company. Tickets are £345 plus VAT and £295 plus VAT for ALMR members. To download or view the leaflet as a PDF file please click here www.propelinfo.com/multi-site-management-masterclass-leaflet-sep14.pdf. To book tickets please contact: jo.charity@propelinfo.com

London pubs converted to expensive homes in record numbers: Builders are buying historic and well-positioned London pubs to convert into very expensive homes in record numbers, according to Yahoo Finance. In W1, around Mayfair, Marylebone and Soho, 36 pubs have closed to be converted into new homes or mixed use schemes. Southwark and Waterloo have seen 27 pubs converted, while 13 have had their use changed in Chelsea. The Red Lion, in Mayfair, was recently sold as a £25 million mansion, soon after another property developer paid £27m for the Black Lion in Bayswater. With a housing shortage and pub profits nosediving, landlords and breweries are taking advantage of the value of the buildings and cashing in by selling them to developers. Thackeray Estates, has teamed up with Nicola Fontanella, who was Madonna’s interior designer, to work on one pub. They are converting Dover House, a former hotel and restaurant in Waterloo, South London into luxury residential apartments. The £16m ultra-prime project will provide nine luxury apartments priced from £1m. In Fulham, the Redcliffe Arms is being converted into six luxury apartments costing from £975,000 to £2.95m by Linton Property Developments. Peter Wetherell, from the estate agency Wetherell, spent a number of years growing up above the Cross Keys Public House in Chelsea, a favourite haunt of Bob Marley. He said: “Over the last 15 years there has been a huge wave in public houses across the capital being closing and being turned into new homes or mixed use resi-led schemes. This is because of social change, taxes, the 2007 smoking ban, cheap supermarket alcohol and the impact of the global recession. Redundant public houses across inner London have provided a very significant amount of stock for conversion into new homes or mixed use schemes.”

Russia consumer watchdog to sue McDonald’s: Russia’s consumer watchdog is suing McDonald’s for quality violations and improper labelling of its food items. A spokeswoman for the consumer watchdog Rospotrebnadzor said: “We found violations that make us doubt the quality and safety of food products in the entire McDonald’s chain,” Interfax reported. The legal action was being taken as the United States increased sanctions on Russia over its backing of rebels in Ukraine. It also coincided with McDonald’s saying its Japanese outlets had stopped selling products with chicken sourced from China after a scandal erupted over expired meat being used. The Russian watchdog said it found violations in two McDonald’s locations in the town of Novgorod, north of Moscow. It filed a lawsuit over alleged improper labelling of the food items’ calorie contents, among other things. “The products did not conform to standards of safety or food value,” Rospotrebnadzor spokeswoman Anna Popova was quoted as saying. “They were quite far from the norms established today.”

Brooklyn Brewery plans one million barrel a year new site: Brooklyn Brewery is planning to construct a new brewery in New York with an investment of around $70m. It will be located on Staten Island’s western shore and is expected to cover an area of around 200,000 sq ft. The brewery will have a capacity to produce one million barrels of beer a year when it becomes operational in 2017. It is expected to create 92 full-time jobs for local people. However, the company will continue production operations at its Brooklyn plant in Williamsburg.

Record 70-plus Newcastle restaurants taking part in city’s Restaurant Week: More than 70 restaurants in Newcastle upon Tyne are taking part in the city’s Restaurant Week, running for the eighth time between 4 and 10 August. It offers diners the chance to discover new restaurants across the city for fixed price menus of either £10 or £15 a head. Organisers said the event has grown in stature and popularity since its launch, with participating businesses experiencing 44% increase in trade during the week. Stephen Patterson, director of communications at NE1 Ltd, said: “Newcastle has a fantastic restaurant scene and hosting events like NE1’s Restaurant Week raises awareness of the amazing restaurants located in the city and attracts customers at traditionally quiet times of the year. NE1’s Restaurant Week’s phenomenal growth has continued year on year, and with the addition of high quality restaurants into the city, this growth looks set to continue into the future. Based on the success of NE1’s Restaurant Week format other cities across the UK have been encouraged to follow suit and host their own events.” Terry Laybourne, of 21 Hospitality Group, said: “NE1 galvanised the city’s restaurateurs. No individual, or business could have delivered the initiative on their own, not only would it have been too time consuming to organise but they would not have had the marketing clout or budget to invest in making it happen.”

Company News:

Itsu to open 50th site today, reports 14% like-for-like sales growth and a further £9m of funding: Itsu, led by Pret A Manger founder Julian Metcalfe, will open its 50th site in Richmond today. The company, which turned over £60m and made profits of £6m Ebita last year, is planning 30 more sites with regional openings in Brighton, Manchester and Leeds scheduled. Its first site outside of London, in Oxford, is now its busiest with 10,000 customers a week being served. Metcalfe said: “It takes at least fifty attempts to get it even half right. Only half right it may be, but customers are clearly enjoying what they have tasted so far! The harmony needed to motivate and nurture lots of young members of staff, offer affordable prices, whilst making outstanding, delicious but light food is challenging to maintain – we are so far succeeding in this tremendously exciting quest. The British customer is smart, they travel, they cook and they’re getting fed up. They deserve beautiful food when out and about. The American fast food giants dominate prime locations globally. It’s time for change. People don’t frequent fast food chains simply because they crave mass-produced deep fried carbs and fat. It’s because too little else is on offer. Itsu is on a crusade for better nutrition – food which tastes as good as it looks. I am delighted at the success of the business so far and look forward to fulfilling our expansion plans throughout other regions in the UK and beyond.” Current like-for-like maturing store sales growth is 14%, alongside Ebitda growth of over 50%, the company stated. Itsu has also recently extended its financing arrangements with HSBC, which will support further national, and possible international expansion, over the next three years. The deal adds a further £9m to the £14m package agreed in early 2013.

Marston’s to feature in Channel 5 documentary: The brewer and pub operator Marston’s is to feature in a new Channel 5 documentary series. The broadcaster has commissioned three 60-minute episodes of a series called One Ale of a Job, which will head behind the scenes at one of Britain’s oldest brewery companies. Marston’s has 14,000 staff, five breweries and 13 distribution centres from Ringwood to Cockermouth. One Ale of a Job will follow employees as they try to stay ahead of the competition. C5 is hoping that Marston’s Brewery: One Ale of a Job can replicate the success of Princess Productions’ Eddie Stobart: Trucks & Trailers. The series was commissioned by Greg Barnett, commissioning editor for entertainment, daytime and soaps and executive-produced by Shine TV’s Lorna-Dawn Creanor. It is set to air in September. Barnett said: “The men and women we follow in this new series do everything they do out of passion for the perfect pint. There’s a terrific mix of characters, stories, facts and fun and I very much hope viewers develop a taste for it. Making beer and running a brewery is a fascinating process, add into the mix entertaining and charismatic characters and you have a recipe for must-see TV.”

Chilango ‘burrito bond’ sees funding jump: The restaurant chain Chilango has seen a funding jump for its so-called “burrito bond”, which is raising money for expansion by paying interest of 8% on a bond promoted on the crowd-sourcing website Crowdcube. The fund-raising has now raised £1.425m from 458 investors, which means it is 142% funded with nine days of the fund-raising left.

Ed’s Easy Diner launches brand extension: Ed’s Easy Diner has launched a new brand extension, called Ed’s Dinerette. The first outlet replaces the existing Shakes ’N’ Dogs venues in the food courts at the Meadowhall and Bluewater shopping malls in Sheffield and Kent. Ed’s Dinerette will open in locations with high footfall, targeting customers with a brief dwell time and those “on the go”, the company said. The short menu will focus solely on hamburgers, hot-dogs, fries and shakes, encouraging a quick delivery at point of sale, the company said. Smaller hamburgers will be available at a lower price point, with the option to add a patty and go from a 3oz single to a 6oz double burger. There will be a choice of three hot-dogs and fries as well as a new hamburger “meal deal” which includes fries and a fizzy drink for £6.45. Beverages include the usual soft drinks, hot drinks and milkshakes. Andrew Guy, chief executive of Ed’s Easy Diner, said: “Ed’s Dinerette will allow us to go for smaller units and at the same time promote our core offering of hamburgers, shakes and dogs. We’re confident that Ed’s Dinerette will become known for great value and fast and efficient service – served with a smile. The new brand extension will hopefully open up options for further growth across the UK.” Ed’s Easy Diner opened at Churchill Square shopping centre in Brighton at the beginning of July, with two more sites due to open at Victoria Place, Victoria Station in London at the end of the month and County Mall in Crawley, Sussex in August.

Stonegate Pub Company opens ‘new generation’ student pub in York: Stonegate Pub Company is investing £305,000 creating a so-called “new generation” student pub in York called The Graduate. It will sell five craft beers and offer super-fast broadband connections and interactive digital entertainment. Stonegate said The Graduate will provide “a one-stop shop” for its customers from early morning breakfast through to late night entertainment, opening from 8am with a coffee shop-style counter serving tea, coffee, snacks and pastries to eat in or take away. It will also have a free Wi-Fi-linked printer for printing off last -minute assignments and plugs and USB ports on tables for phone and computer charging. The pub will sell its craft beers in third-pint taster trays or two or three-pint flagons. A large blackboard will display the pub’s favourite tweet of the day or invite customers to vote in the poll of the day. A dedicated games area has pool tables and board games.

Fuller’s launches chef recruitment drive: The London brewer and pub operator Fuller, Smith & Turner is to begin a recruitment drive for top chefs and kitchen staff, with open days across the UK and Ireland in August. Recruitment days are to be held in Manchester, Birmingham, Belfast, Cardiff, Dublin, York and Glasgow. Paul Dickinson, Fuller’s head of food, said: “We’re looking for talented chefs of all levels to join our team. We want to be the best by making sure we have the very best people working for us.” Fuller’s currently has more than 380 pubs in its estate, mainly in London and the South East, but also reaching as far as Birmingham, Bristol, the Isle of Wight and Brighton.

Nottingham brewery embarks on major expansion: A Nottingham brewery plans to treble production and tap new markets across the world. The Navigation Brewery, run by Great Northern Inns and based in Meadow Lane, Nottingham is to undergo a £200,000 renovation adding six new brewing tanks. The expansion will allow the company to produce 16,000 hectolitres a year, including three new keg beers. Negotiations are taking place to export across the world, including to China, Africa and New Zealand. Chris Cocking, a director at Great Northern Inns, said: “It’s quite a big thing for such a young company, especially in the economic climate. We can do around 17,000 pints a week [5,000 hectolitres a year] at the moment. We’re up to that now and we need more vessels and a different style of vessels to be able to do keg products, too. We’re very optimistic. It’s a lot of hard work and we didn’t expect anything else, but it’s a good team and we’re always look at getting new people in and expanding.” The Navigation Brewery was launched in 2012 and has already produced two million pints (11,000 hectolitres).

PizzaExpress opens in Tamworth: PizzaExpress opened a new site in Tamworth, Staffordshire yesterday. The new venue is on Ventura Park, next to Sainsbury’s, and will be joined by Nando’s and Costa on the former Allied Carpets site. Workers moved onto the building site in February to demolish the old carpet chain building, to make way for the new openings.

Taco Bell lines up fourth UK site in Chelmsford: The American Tex-Mex brand Taco Bell is lining up a fourth UK opening in Chelmsford, Essex. The company has applied to Chelmsford Council for permission to put up illuminated signs at 213 Moulsham Street, formerly occupied by the Futon Company. The brand has outlets at Thurrock Lakeside, Basildon Eastgate Shopping Centre and the Arndale Centre in Manchester.

Coal Shed owner looks to expand in Brighton: Restaurant owner Raz Helalat, who operates the Coal Shed in Brighton, wants to open a second venue in the centre of the city. Helalat has applied for planning permission for a restaurant on the seafront close to the site of the i360, currently under construction, which will be on the UK’s tallest observation tower outside London. According to the Brighton and Hove Independent, Helalat hopes to open a restaurant called the Salt Room in the part of the Hilton Brighton Metropole building in King’s Road that currently houses Bar 106. The aim is to specialise in modern British dining. His current establishment has won plaudits for its steak and seafood-based menu. The Observer described the Coal Shed as one of the best restaurants in the country.

Eighth and largest Banana Tree opens in Milton Keynes: The eighth and largest outlet for Banana Tree, the 23-year-old Indochinese restaurant chain ,opened in The Hub in Milton Keynes yesterday. The opening came after three months of building time to convert three smaller units into one venue. The largest Banana Tree venue to date includes a fully licensed bar serving Indochina-inspired cocktails plus a variety of different dining areas, suitable, the company said, for couples as well as groups or corporate bookings. Simon Spavins, from Broadoak Management, which manages The Hub, said “We are delighted to welcome Banana Tree to The Hub, they offer a completely different dining experience and they introduce a new cuisine into the mix for Hub customers to discover and enjoy.”

Planners back Wetherspoon’s plan to convert former Wallsend cinema: Planning officers have backed a application by JD Wetherspoon to convert the former cinema on Wallsend high street in Tyneside into a pub. The Ritz opened in 1939 with a seating capacity of 1,636 and was the work of North East of England cinema designers Percy L Browne, Son and Harding. The cinema closed in 1962 and until 2011 was operated by Mecca as a bingo hall. It has since remained empty. The former cinema is on North Tyneside Council’s list of buildings of interest. Next Tuesday, North Tyneside councillors will be advised by planners to agree to the conversion of the building by Wetherspoon into a pub. The company plans to restore the original frontage of the building. It said: “The proposal would have a positive impact on the vitality and viability of Wallsend town centre.”

Retailers in Pangbourne move to block Costa opening: Retailers in Pangbourne, Berkshire have joined forces to campaign against Costa Coffee moving into the village. Costa Coffee has applied to change the use of a shop to a cafe. However, opponents say there are already four coffee shops in the area and no more are needed. Retailers have collected more than 200 signatures opposing the plans since the weekend and an online petition has reached 101 names. Rhianon Williams, owner of Food Kick, in Whitchurch Road, said: “Together, we feel that with four existing coffee shops in Pangbourne and the falling number of visitors, particularly with the Whitchurch Bridge closure, the addition of another coffee shop will be detrimental to these existing independent businesses.”

Giggling Squid’s Hove site closed by hailstones the size of golf balls: The Thai restaurant brand Giggling Squid has been forced to close its site in Hove, Sussex after it was hit by hailstones “the size of golf balls”, which tore through the roof. All bookings for the next six weeks have been cancelled after the storm, which caused damage to all for four floors of the venue. The repair bill is expected to be up to £150,000, owner Andy Laurillard told Brighton and Hove News. He said: “I’m told the hailstones were the size of goofballs. This must have meant the volume of water and ice just piled up and went into the roof rather than through the gutters. It must have been 500 to 1,000 litres of water coming in – it was six inches deep in the basement. We have lost the ceilings and floors all the way through the restaurant, from the second floor to the basement. The electrics are out, the decor is knackered.” Regulars to the Hove site have been offered a discount at the nearby Giggling Squid in Brighton, while Laurillard promised a new and improved restaurant when it reopens. He said: “We will be back. We are going to make it look amazing.”

Bills acquires south London site: Bills, the eponymous all-day restaurant created by Bill Collison and backed by Richard Caring, has acquired another site through agent Shelley Sandzer, on the Northcote Road in Battersea, South London. The 3,000 sq ft restaurant, set over two floors, is due to open at the end of summer. Northcote Road is one London’s most affluent areas and houses a large population of affluent young professionals and new and expectant mothers. Casey Phillips, acquisitions agent at Shelley Sandzer, said: “Northcote Road is extremely sought after and as such the area boasts an extremely impressive tenant mix. Sites in London locations such as this are seldom available nor have the correct capacity or A3 planning consent. However with our wealth of experience at Shelley Sandzer and our detailed knowledge of the London market we were able to secure this deal for Bills.”

Diageo appoints digital expert as non-executive director: Diageo has moved to bolster its board-level digital marketing expertise by appointing Facebook’s European boss, Nicola Mendelsohn, as a non-executive director. The company is investing heavily in digital marketing channels such as Facebook, seen by some as a more targeted and cost-efficient way to drive efficiencies in its media spend. Mendelsohn is currently EMEA vice-president of Facebook, the most senior role outside its US base. She joined from the agency she owned, Karmarama. In a statement announcing her appointment, Diageo’s chairman, Dr Franz Humer, said: “I am delighted Nicola is joining Diageo’s Board. Her senior experience at the forefront of digital marketing and communications will be of great benefit to Diageo and its brands, as we seek to pursue long-term profitable growth through innovation in all areas of our business.” Mendelsohn will take her place in the boardroom on 1 September.

Jagermeister advert banned: A Jagermeister ad featuring surfers riding extreme waves on a windswept Icelandic beach has been banned for linking alcohol to “tough and daring behaviour”. The Advertising Standards Authority decided it breached rule 1.2 of the code for broadcast advertising and ruled it must not appear again in its current format. The watchdog received a complaint from Alcohol Concern’s Youth Alcohol Advertising Council, a group of children that monitors alcohol marketing, claiming the ad linked alcohol with tough, daring behaviour, encouraged irresponsible and immoderate drinking and implied that alcohol was key to the social success of the occasion. The ASA dismissed the latter complaints but decided the ad breached the rules because it “made a clear association between an alcoholic product and tough and daring behaviour”.

South Queensferry’s Boathouse bistro and seafood restaurant for sale for £1.2m: The Boathouse, the bistro and seafood restaurant located on the banks of the Firth of Forth in South Queensferry, near Edinburgh, and operated by Paul Steward for ten years, is for sale with the property agent Christie + Co for £1.2m. It is currently run as a bistro and seafood restaurant. Barry McNeil of Christie + Co in Edinburgh, said: “Our client has decided to sell the Boathouse after ten successful years in order to concentrate on a smaller business project. He leaves a superb opportunity for a highly motivated individual or chef to acquire first-class premises with wonderful views in one of the most sought-after areas of Scotland.”

Frescobaldi family to open first restaurant outside Italy in Mayfair: The Frescobaldi family, which has produced in Tuscany since 1308, will open its first restaurant and wine bar outside Italy this autumn, Harden’s Restaurants reports. The restaurant guide said Dei Frescobaldi is following in the footsteps of Quattro Passi and Assunta Madre by choosing Mayfair for its first international site. It said Dei Frescobaldi, which already has outposts in Florence and Rome’s Fiumicino airport, will open in New Burlington Street, on a former Strada site. The restaurant will offer an extensive array of wines, many produced by Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi’s nine estates. The project is a joint venture between the Frescobaldis and Good Food Society, a new hospitality venture promoted by Levent Büyükuğur, founder of Istanbul Doors, an international restaurant group with more than 40 venues in Turkey, the UK, Russia and Azerbaijan, Harden’s said.

Panera Bread reports 4% income decline in second quarter: Panera Bread, the US cafe bakery brand, has reported a 4% decline in net income for the second quarter and downgraded its outlook for the year. Ron Shaich, Panera’s chief executive, said the chain was making progress toward its goal of increasing transactions. During the quarter, transactions rose 0.4% at company-owned bakery-cafes. “This gives us confidence in the potency of our plan,” Shaich said in a statement. “While our average [transaction size] declined modestly in the second quarter, primarily as a result of mix, we expect this will remain only a shorter-term drag. Looking longer-term, we remain confident in the initiatives under way.” The company is maintaining its expectations that 115 to 125 new bakery-cafes will open in the financial year 2014. At the end of its second quarter, on 1 July, the company had 1,818 bakery-cafes in 45 US states and Canada operating under the Panera Bread, Saint Louis Bread Co or Paradise Bakery & Cafe names.

TGI Friday’s to open at Gloucester Quays tomorrow: TGI Friday’s is to open its latest UK site at Gloucester Quays tomorrow (1 August). Housed inside a red-bricked, glass-fronted, waterside building, the restaurant will feature an “island kitchen” allowing customers to sit at the grill and see their food cooked. Cocktails will come courtesy of a “shotgun”-style bar.

Black Corries Estate buys Glencoe hotel: Black Corries Estate, which operates a 20,000 acre estate in Scotland, has bought the 22-bedroom King’s House Hotel in Glencoe, Scotland, with views over the 3,345ft Buachaille Etive Mhor, through the property agent Christie + Co for an undisclosed price. The inn, at the eastern end of Glencoe, was built for travellers crossing Rannoch Moor on their way from Ballachulish to Loch Lomond via Tyndrum, in an area of 50 sq miles of lochans, peat bogs and streams. The business has been owned by Rod and Kerry Leitch who decided to sell as they are moving their family to Ireland. Graeme Ferguson at Bidwells acted for the purchaser, which is planning a major refurbishment in 2015. Ken Sims, of Christie + Co in Edinburgh, said: “There was substantial interest in the Kings House Hotel from all over the world including South Africa and Sri Lanka, which resulted in a number of offers being received for this business. This is an iconic hotel in a spectacular setting, which proves that there is substantial investor interest in businesses such as this.”

Top Norfolk coaching inn bounces back on hygiene rating: A top Norfolk coaching inn, the Hoste Arms in Burnham Market, has been awarded a five-out-o-five food hygiene rating, just over three months after it was rated one out of five. The Hoste’s top mark comes after the installation of a new state-of-the-art £150,000 kitchen. Co-owner Brendan Hopkins said: “We are delighted with the best ever results of the inspection. Not only does this most accurately reflect the high standards we pride ourselves on at the Hoste, but it’s the first time the hotel has received the maximum five-star rating. It’s an absolute credit to the team here at the Hoste.”

Britons ‘are becoming cider snobs’: Britons “are becoming cider snobs” as drinkers seek out premium versions of the drink, according to the National Association of Cider Makers (NACM). The association said that in a buoyant market, consumers are enjoying more cider than ever before and trading up for pricier, artisan versions of the drink. Industry figures show that sales of top tier premium cider in the take-home sector reached £75m in June this year, an increase of £10m compared to the same time in 2013. The chair of the NACM, Paul Bartlett, said: “For a number of years, cider has been the star performer and what is clear is that people are seeking out excellent drinks, both good quality mainstream ciders and really premium products often enjoyed with food. It is quite an achievement for the sector when you consider that we have just come through a period of economic difficulty. It proves that, even when times are tough, cider drinkers are prepared to pay more for a high quality product that they really enjoy. On average, the price of premium and artisan ciders has increased by 5%in the past 12 months, way ahead of the rate of inflation.”

SIBA members dominate Indie Beer Can competition: The first round of judging for the inaugural Indie Beer Can Festival competition has taken place and brewers within the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) have won the majority of finalist places. Of the dozen shortlisted beers in the competition, sponsored by the Can Makers, ten are brewed by SIBA members. The Indie Beer Can competition was launched earlier this year in partnership with SIBA and attracted more than 100 entrants. All 12 shortlisted beers, selected from paper applications, will now be canned – unless already available in a can – and judged at the Indie Beer Can Festival in September, where Gold, Silver and Bronze medal winners will be announced. Nick Stafford, SIBA commercial director, said, “We’re delighted that our members have impressed at the initial stage of judging. The finalists include brewers large and very small, and a wonderful diversity of beer styles, which will now be showcased to buyers, beer writers and other influencers at the Indie Beer Can Festival. The Indie Beer Can Festival takes place on 11th September in London. Judges for the final include Tesco beer buyer Chiara Nesbitt; industry experts Adrian Tierney Jones and Jane Peyton; President of Cask Brewing Systems inc, Peter Love and Chairman of the Can Makers, Graham Fenton. The 12 finalists are: Adnams: Ghost Ship (SIBA); Arbor Ales: Breakfast Stout (SIBA); Bateman’s Brewery: Orange Barley (SIBA); Blacks of Kinsale: Kinsale Pale Ale; Butcombe Brewery: Butcombe Gold (SIBA); Concrete Cow Brewery: Dirty Cow (SIBA); Fyne Ales: Sanda Blonde (SIBA); Purity Brewing Company: Longhorn IPA (SIBA); Springhead Brewery: Roaring Meg (SIBA); Thwaites:13 Guns; Wadworth & Co: Beer Kitchen Orange Peel (SIBA) and Windsor & Eton Brewery: Republika (SIBA).”

Merseyside restaurant bans smoking in garden: A restaurant on Merseyside has banned smoking from its outdoor dining area as well as inside the premises. Barbacoa, in Crosby, is believed to be the first bar/restaurant in the UK to bring in such a ban, which it said was brought in after complaints from customers. Barbacoa’s owner, Gordon Tartt, said: “Customers were complaining that the outside of the restaurant was becoming an al-fresco smoking lounge, so we’ve created a place where people can eat and drink in a smoke-free environment. During the fine weather, people want to go outside, but many were turned off by the huddle of smokers. It’s already proving extremely popular.” The restaurant has made an area available for smokers at the front of the building. At the same time it has been awarded the first ever Clean Air Award from the lung cancer charity Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation. Melody Holt, tobacco control manager at the foundation, said: “This is the first smoke-free beer garden that we’re aware of and we would encourage other establishments to follow their lead. We believe it’s really important that when people step outside for fresh air, that’s what they should get rather than clouds of smoke. The dangers of passive smoking are well-known.”

 
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