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Mon 24th Nov 2014 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Peter Hansen – Wellington is the best case study of tenanted market’s future: The new tenanted pub company landscape, arising from parliamentary market rent proposals, is likely to mirror the recent history of free-of-tie pub company Wellington, leading mergers and acquisitions expert Peter Hansen, of Sapient Corporate Finance, has told the Propel Multi Club Conference. In an environment where tenants may elect to go free-of-tie, pub companies are likely to reduce investment, he argued. The uncertainty surrounding the tenant’s right to elect for free-of-tie is very likely to depress investment from its current level by pub companies. Wellington has invested just £12,000 per pub in capex in the past six years (£2,000 per annum) compared to an average of £59,000 per pub at Enterprise, Punch and Greene King. Between 2009 and 2014, Wellington suffered a 6% Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) decline in Ebitda per pub in part due to a lack of investment compared to a 2% CAGR decline at Enterprise, Punch and Greene King, where investment has reduced declines. “Wellington is probably the best case study for what’s going to happen going forward,” said Hansen. “Not surprisingly, the tied operators are out-spending Wellington five to one – capex is the responsibility of tenants when they are free-of-tie. In the case of Enterprise, Punch and Greene King, they are trying to invest in their pubs to improve the fabric. The rating agencies argue that Wellington has one of the largest capex liabilities in the sector on a per pub basis – that’s a concern for them because tenants are under-capitalised and can’t afford to invest. Inevitably the fabric of pubs is set to decline.” Hansen stated that the pub companies will have little incentive to invest in free-of-tie pubs, similar to Wellington. “The pub companies are not going to invest in free-of-tie pubs. Nor are they likely to invest at the current level in their estate if there is uncertainty about the future. Enterprise and Punch spend tens of millions a year investing in their pubs, which is likely to decline.” Hansen also argued that the law will be bad for consumers who will lose out because there will be less choice. “The tenanted pub companies are big buyers of cask ale and have increased consumer choice. With the decline in their volumes, sales of beer by SIBA members and family brewers is likely to decline. This is bad news for consumers.” Hansen outlined other winners and losers he expects will emerge through the “law of unintended consequences”. He said: “Whenever the government puts in place new legislation there are always winners and losers. One of the biggest winners will be the national brewers. We saw this with the Guest Ale Provision at the time of the Beer Orders in the early 1990’s. Tenants bought their best-selling ale provided by their brewery landlord rather than introducing a guest ale because that maximised their profits. This will come at the expense of regional brewers and SIBA members. I find it slightly odd that MP’s have voted for a piece of legislation that will benefit national brewers, all of whom are foreign-owned, with little to no benefit for domestic brewers.” He added: “Finally, in the category of be-careful-what-you-wish-for, we are going to see more managed pubs. So if a pub company thinks a pub coming up for lease renewal will go free-of-tie, it will consider whether or not it should convert it to managed for its own use. Enterprise has already established a managed business and I would expect that Punch would do so if the legislation goes through. And it won’t just be Enterprise and Punch who convert pubs from tenanted to managed. Any owner of tenanted pubs will look to convert pubs wherever it can rather than run the risk of a publican electing to go free of the tie. This is bad news for tenants whose agreements are up for renewal in the next few years.”

Industry News:

Propel launches craft beer retail study tour: Propel is launching its first craft beer retail study tour, sponsored by CPL Training, on Thursday 29 January 2015 in London. The tour, led by Thinking Drinkers, the award-wining beer writers Ben McFarland and Tom Sandham, will visit seven of London’s leading craft beer retailers in an eight-hour tour. McFarland and Sandham will provide the latest craft beer fact and figures and market segmentation analysis, and spot up-and-coming trends. Site visits will include Q&A sessions with London’s leading retailers, looking at concept evolution, staff training, direct sourcing, menus, disposable kegs, hybrid models, brewing on site and a host of other issues. The day includes lunch and breakfast and travel between venues by coach. Tickets are £345 for ALMR members and £395 for non-ALMR members. Email adam.dickinson@propelinfo.com to book. Delegates also receive free tickets to see McFarland and Sandham perform their Legends of Liquor show at the Soho Theatre that evening, starting at 7.30pm. Every audience member gets a “craft” beer and four boutique spirits.

Enterprise Inns to hold London networking event: Enterprise Inns is to hold a networking event on Tuesday 9 December between 4pm and 9pm at The Sir John Balcombe pub on Balcombe Street, Marylebone, London. The event will see the attendance of Enterprise’s Great London team and aim to highlight the new pub business opportunities in London for new and existing business partners, and discuss ideas generally. To attend, email Jo Linforth at jo.linforth@enterpriseinns.com or call on 0121 256 3064. 

Company News:

Mark McQuater – Revolucion de Cuba attracts older customers who spend more: New Inventive Bar Company chief executive Mark McQuater has told the Propel Multi Club Conference that its Cuban-influenced Revolucion De Cuba brand, now at five sites but with plans to open 12 more, is attracting an older audience that is spending more. He reported average spend per head is £32.68 compared to £29.42 at its Revolution lead brand – customers average six years older with a 62% female audience compared to 59% at Revolution. McQuater said that the spend-per-head compares with spend-per-head at restaurants. He said that the company, which has invested £10m in evolving the Revolution estate, has seen its catering performance surge with food growing at 12% per annum and food gross margin up 12%. The re-invigoration of its premium drinks range has seen cocktail sales rise 24%, wine sales grow by 12%, premium draft beer sales rise 16% and cider sales climb by 11%. McQuater added that the Revolution brand now has 420,000 Facebook friends and that pre-booked sales are rising by 10%. He said that the company’s bars are now well-invested – outlets are “lighter, softer and more contemporary” – and are producing “one of the highest average Ebitda per site figures of any UK national bar chain”. The team at Inventive is now a blend of seven new specialist appointments and ten staff members who were already working at the company prior to McQuater’s arrival. The company has also hired an acquisitions manager, Nik Lowery, who will join the company in January from Greene King.

TLC inns eyes £10m turnover: TLC Inns, the operator of five pubs and three-strong Grand Central bar and grill brand, led by Steve and Jo Haslam, is eyeing turnover of £10m once it has added one more Grand Central site, Steve Haslam told the Propel Multi Club Conference. The company is expecting turnover to hit £8m in the current year with Ebitda of £1.2m. In the year that follows, turnover is expected to climb to “comfortably” above £10m and Ebitda in excess of £1.5m. Steve Haslam said the Grand Central brand was founded in Basildon in a former Outback Steakhouse. The company has struggled with early bad reviews from Outback customers but had improved menus and service to create a premium American-themed fast casual offer, with sales up 28% between year two and three to hit circa £1.5m. The second site in Ely, in a smaller 90-cover footprint versus 250 covers at Basildon, has achieved £500,000 of sales in the first six months and 50% ROI. A third Grand Central opened two weeks ago in Colchester, a £250,000 investment to create a 200-cover restaurant, which is so far trading well. This month has also seen £750,000 investment in Ipswich, Grand Central’s first freehold site and the biggest yet with 300 internal covers. It will launch in April 2015 and will be the third Grand Central opening in 12 months.

Claude’s Kitchen team to launch perfect local: The team behind critically acclaimed neighbourhood restaurant Claude’s Kitchen (named fourth in London’s top restaurant openings 2013 by The Evening Standard) and award-winning Champagne Bar, Amuse Bouche is launching The Tommy Tucker in January. It is aimed at being the “local of choice” of founders Claude Compton, Jim Morris and George McCabe. Compton has developed a menu that “bridges flavoursome street food pizazz with the quality and elegance of Claude’s Michelin kitchen experience”. The 80-cover site will offer lunch and dinner, and a ‘carefully selected and adventurous wine, beer and spirits list including home-infused gins and bourbons and experimental takes on pub classics like the Bloody Mary’.
 
Former head of development at Benugo reveals plans for pizza chain: The former head of development at the restaurant and cafe operator Benugo, now running his own cafe business in Brighton, has revealed plans for expansion that include more cafes and a pizzeria chain. Rupert Davidson, a former chef who opened the Bread and Milk cafe in Brighton two years ago, is now due to open a pizza operation in the city. He told The Brighton and Hove Independent: “I’m sick and tired of the PizzaExpresses of this world. Their product is okay, but they’re not places you can just nip to with the kids – you’re looking at a bill in the region of £70 for four pizzas and drinks. With our place, Fatto a Mano [meaning “handmade”], think a wood-fired oven at the heart of the restaurant, beautiful, freshly-made traditional Neapolitan pizzas, diners sitting either at tables or at the bar. Kids under ten will eat free. I’ve done a lot of research, spent a lot of time in Naples, and I think this concept has a lot of opportunity to succeed and to become a brand.” Earlier this year, Bread and Milk opened its first corporate catering branch at the offices of the Pensions Regulator on Trafalgar Street, Brighton, an area of the business Davidson hopes to develop further. At the same time he is looking to enlarge the main operation. Davidson told The Independent: “We’re currently on the hunt for a new, bigger premises that will incorporate an open bakery, so customers can see what’s being made. While we want to expand, we’ve no plans to branch out into London or anything. Bread and Milk will remain unique to this town.”
 
Gail’s Artisan Bakery delays flotation plans: Gail’s Artisan Bakery, which is 60% owned by Luke Johnson’s Risk Capital Partners, has delayed flotation plans until 2015, according to The Sunday Telegraph. The newspaper reported that Johnson had held discussions with brokerage firm FinnCap in recent weeks but a flotation has been postponed until the New Year after it was decided that the firm needed to grow further to generate the kind of returns that shareholder would be happy with. Gail’s was set up by former McKinsey consultants Ran Avidan and Tom Molnar who teamed up with baker Gail Mejia to open the first Gail’s Artisan Bakery in 2006 – Johnson invested £10.5m in 2011. Another bakery is due to open in Blackheath, south London in the next few week weeks. Johnson told the Propel Multi Club Conference a year ago that profits at Gail’s Artisan Bakery were set to treble to £6.5m this year compared to when Risk originally invested. He told the Propel conference that Risk had been involved in many aspects of developing the business, including recruiting a new finance director as well as IT, marketing and operations executives, choosing a new EPoS system, finding new property agents, PR support, architects and builders and negotiating a new loan facility. Other practical and strategic help has included finding and negotiating new sites, finding new auditors, introducing the company’s biggest wholesale customer, choosing new website designers – and even finding a publisher for its cookery book published this year.

Grub Club overfunds on Crowdcube: The new food start-up Grub Club, which brings “adventurous” dining experiences to Londoners through an online pop-up network, has over-funded crowd-funding website Crowdcube, raising £284,000, compared to its target of £250,000 it is seeking, in return for 15.63% of its equity. Grub Club founders Olivia Sibony and Siddarth Vijayakumar hope to expand internationally. Grub Club had £100,000 pledged by their network of diners ahead of the launch. Revenue in the first year was over £200,000, and is set to double in 2014. In the first 18 months, Grub Club has hosted 1,000 events, with 200 chefs cooking for more than 20,000 diners in 450 venues across London. The fund-raising push ends today.

Meat industry experts to launch US-style steakhouse: Meat industry experts Steve and Dave Patten, son of Worshipful Company of Butchers liveryman Colin Patten, are to open a US-style steak restaurant and cocktail bar, Chop Bloc in mid-January 2015 in Chelmsford, Essex, specialising in reasonably priced, high-quality cuts of meat butchered and dry-aged on-site. Spread over three floors, Chop Bloc’s 6,500 sq ft site is housed inside an 18th Century former brewery, with 200 covers across the ground and first floor along with additional outside seating. A separate second floor cocktail bar, the Bloc Bar, will also feature. The brothers have worked for market-leading meat companies, gaining first-hand experience in all areas of the business – Steve Patten also completed a training program at an abattoir, learning about all parts of the farm-to-fork process, including the finishing farm, the lairage, the slaughterhouse floor and the cold rooms. At Chop Bloc, all meats will be sourced from the highest quality grass-fed Hertfordshire cattle and then dry-aged on site. Cuts will be sold by the gram and sliced by chefs who have been trained to butcher whole cuts of meat including bone-in cuts – rarely seen in the UK. Chop Bloc will also offer burgers, which will be made in-house using 28-day matured British chuck steak and cooked using the traditional 1940s American ‘smash’ technique to create a crust on the outside while leaving a juicy burger on the inside. A three-course meal will cost between £25 and £35 on average. The upstairs Bloc Bar will serve classic cocktails, craft beers and an extensive selection of wines.
 
Aldi to set up pop-up restaurants: Discount supermarket Aldi is set to open a number of pop-up restaurants in the run up to Christmas, serving up a luxury meal planned by celebrity chef Jean-Christophe Novelli. The ‘restaurant’ will be hosted in top-rated hotel, including the Blythswood Square Hotel and Home House, across five cities between 21 November and 10 December. Members of the public can win a reservation tweeting @AldiUK using #AldiFestiveFeast. The dinner is set to feature products from Aldi’s Specially Selected range which includes caviar, crab, turkey wellington and a 12 month matured Christmas pudding. Joint managing director of corporate buying, Tony Baines, said the pop-up restaurants are aimed at showing what can be achieved at home with Aldi products.

McDonald’s holds “hackathon” in London to find fresh ideas for using digital media to win customers: McDonald’s European division held its first “hackathon” in London at the weekend, inviting software developers to collaborate to “build the restaurant experience for the next generation”. Attendees were encouraged to build apps that push mobile into the customer journey in-stores using iBeacons and NFC (“near field communication”) technology, or focus on gamifcation once customers have left. Ideas on how to expand incentives beyond the traditional discounts, coupons and promotions were expected from the event, alongside ways McDonald’s can better market its sustainability work. The initiative is led by the European brand and strategy team, led by the company’s new senior director of digital strategy, Lex Bradshaw-Zanger, who joined from Facebook earlier this year, and its vice-president of digital Luke Vinogrodov. McDonald’s has no immediate plans to launch other hackathons but says it will consider future developments. The hackathon is in contrast to how McDonald’s is tackling the digital divide in the United States, where it has set up its own innovation hub. McDonald’s said its scheme supports its own internal developments, which have already seen it trial a mobile coupon app in some parts of Europe. 

Former £2m Carlisle nightclub to be auctioned for £250,000 plus: The former Mood2 nightclub in Carlisle is to be sold at auction next month. The 12,000 square foot premises in Botchergate have stood empty for six years. The three-storey building once changed hands for more than £2m but will be auctioned in Manchester with a guide price of “£250,000 plus”. It is one of 134 lots being offered by auctioneer Eddisons at the Premier Inn, Trafford Park, on 9 December. Tony Webber, director and auctioneer at Eddisons, describes it as a “major development opportunity”. He added: “This is a sizeable property, right in the heart of the city’s leisure circuit and close to the railway station.” Planning consent was granted last year for Mood2’s premises to be subdivided into five units, allowing them to trade as shops or takeaways. The sale is on the instruction of receivers Zolfo Cooper. A Manchester company, Carlisle Assets, bought the Mood site for £2.06m in 1996. It was let to Bakersfield Leisure, operator of the original Mood nightclub, on a 25-year lease in 2000. The club became Mood2 after a £1m makeover. Shortly after Mood2 closed, in July 2008, the business that ran it, Herald Inns and Bars, went into administration.

First Urbano32 opens its doors in Chester: The first of a planned chain of Mediterranean-style pizza restaurants and bars operating under the name Urbano32 opened its door in Bridge Street, Chester on Friday (21 November). Urbano32 has been started by Ian Wade, the award-winning owner of The Ring O’ Bells in Christleton, Cheshire, and his business partner John Roberts, who hope to have up to four more branches in the west Cheshire area in the next three years. Urbano32 will be open from 8am, with the bar open until 1am, with food served until 11.30pm at weekends. Its decor is described as “semi-industrial”, with test tube lights hanging next to exposed brick walls. Wade, who used to run Modern British Inns, said: “Urbano32 will have the same family friendly policy as the Ring O’ Bells during the day and early evening – a great children’s menu, colouring in at the table, high chairs, et cetera. In the evening, I think the fact that we’ll be serving high-quality food until 11.30pm, with the opportunity to stay on and enjoy our fantastic range of drinks until 1am will make us stand out from the crowd. This will all add up to making Urbano32 a unique restaurant, bar and social meeting place.”

Cote to open second restaurant in Cardiff: Cote is to open a second restaurant in Cardiff next month, making the Welsh capital the only location outside London with two Cote restaurants. It will open at the former home of Kapu Lounge on Monday, 8 December. Harald Samuelsson, joint managing director of Cote said: “Our Cardiff Bay restaurant has proved a massive hit with locals and tourists, alike, becoming a key part of the local community. Due to this success we listened to what people in the area wanted and kept our eyes open for the perfect spot to become available for us to launch in central Cardiff. We’re very excited that our new brasserie, on Mill Lane, is right in the heart of a buzzing and vibrant area and we will bring further variety to the fast-growing dining scene around us.”

M&B to convert O’Neill’s site in Newcastle to Nicholson’s brand: Mitchells & Butlers is to convert an O’Neill’s site in Newcastle to the first Nicholson’s in the city – it’s a pub that featured in the Michael Caine gangster classic Get Carter. The Victoria and Comet in Neville Street has been an O’Neill’s outlet in recent years, but had a starring role in the 1972 film as the smoky bar that Caine’s Cockney hitman Jack Carter walks straight into on his arrival in Newcastle. Now the iconic pub opens next month after refurbishment as The Victoria Comet. A spokesman for the Mitchells & Butlers-owned Nicholson’s chain said: “We’ve continued to be selective, building a collection of rare gems, each with a unique heritage and a compelling story to tell. This building has been used as a pub since the 1800s – in fact, it once housed two pubs – The Victoria on the left and The Comet on the right eventually merged to become the Victoria and Comet Hotel. It closed 75 years later but now it’s been restored to its former glory and christened the Victoria Comet in homage to its glorious past.” The Victoria Comet will open for business on 11 December.
 
Marston’s and Frankie & Benny’s announce Yarmouth opening dates: Marston’s and Frankie & Benny’s have announced opening dates for their new venues close to each other in Great Yarmouth. The new Marston’s carvery, called the Grayling, after the freshwater fish, on Jones Way, is due to open on Monday 8 December. More than 15,000 people applied for jobs at the new pub, and 55 from the local area have now been appointed and will start their training in the next two weeks. A spokesman for Marston’s, whose nearest other pub is The Spring Tide in Lowestoft, said the Grayling would offer carveries seven days a week and will be able to seat 220 customers. The Restaurant Group’s Frankie & Benny’s brand, meanwhile, has announced that its new restaurant off Jones Way, and in front of a Tesco Extra supermarket, will welcome its first customers just after Christmas. The site also has outline permission for an as-yet-unnamed drive-through coffee shop.
 
Freehold of M&B pub for sale for £1.25m: The freehold of a Mitchells & Butlers pub in Grimsby, The Friary on Victoria Street, is for sale with a guide price of £1.25m. The pub, built in 1860, is being sold by Savills, acting on behalf of a private individual and is let to M&B at a passing rent of £95,000 a year on a 40-year lease with 23 years unexpired. The pub has a ground floor trading area of 4,637 sq ft plus 2,682 sq ft of additional space on the first and second floors, which is currently used for storage. Tom Cunningham, associate director of licensed leisure at Savills, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to invest in a popular pub on one of the busiest streets in Grimsby town centre. With an established tenant in place, it offers the buyer a stable long-term income.” 
 
New Moon looks to expand urban pub brand Beef & Pudding: New Moon Pub Company, the Knutsford-based company founded three years ago by former the Living Ventures sales and marketing director Paul Newman and the chef David Mooney, is looking to expand its urban pub brand Beef & Pudding into Chester and Liverpool and then into Yorkshire. Mooney and Newman said the response to the first Beef & Pudding on Booth Street in Manchester had given them the confidence to grow. The company is close to sealing £1m from a European institution to fund its expansion, and is also selling one of its six pubs, The Hanging Gate in Weaverham, Cheshire, to raise finance. Newman told TheBusinessDesk.com: “We are at a very exciting time as we look to roll out Beef & Pudding – we have been really pleased with the response to what was a fresh and unique concept for Manchester. We’re looking first to Chester and Liverpool and then further afield.” The pair have just opened up a new venue in Chester, Mockingbird Taproom, themed round “pan-Gulf” food and offering a new take on Tex-Mex cuisine which they think could work in Manchester too. Mooney said: “We’re cleaning up ‘dirty’ food – and it’s a massive opportunity for us.”

Cozy Pubs looks to add more sites after acquiring fourth pub: Cozy Pubs is looking to acquire pubs with bed rooms or small hotels after adding Marco Pierre White’s former site The Angel in Lavenham, Suffolk, to its estate. The company has purchased the leasehold interest in the site from Colossus Inns, and is to invest £100,000. Cozy Pubs’ director Leanne Langman said: “This is a cracking pub and we’re really pleased to have got it. There’s so much we can do here and we can’t wait to bring The Angel into the Cozy Pubs’ fold and give the whole place a new lease of life. We’re looking to invest £100,000 on a complete refurbishment of the pub to get the hotel bedrooms to the high standard we want, and bring the pub back to the town. What we really want to do is to put the pub back into The Angel, with an emphasis on seasonal freshly prepared food and our own brand of warm, friendly Cozy hospitality.” The company was set up in 2010 by Langman, Timothy Doyle and Paul Cutsforth. They currently run The Eight Bells in Saffron Walden, The Cricketers Arms in nearby Rickling Green and The Saracens Head Hotel and its sister business Saracens Fitness Gym in Great Dunmow. Last year, the Essex based company had sales of just under £3 million and a group Ebitda of £350,000 (2013). Overall revenue grew by 25% and like-for-like sales by 3% in the same period. 2014 has continued in the same vein with sales remaining buoyant and 4% like-for-like growth to the half year. Accommodation revenue in particular has been strong in 2014 with over 10% growth and Christmas bookings are also in excellent shape. The company is still looking for sites across Essex, Cambridge, Hertfordshire and Suffolk.
 
University looks at opening nightclub on campus: The University of York is looking at building a nightclub on campus. The existing squash courts at Derwent College, in Heslington, will be turned into a clubbing venue with a mirrored wall, elevated DJ booth and a seated lounge area by the end of the current academic year. A spokesman for the university told The York Press: “We believe a nightclub is a good idea. The space could be readily converted to provide a high quality venue on campus. Of course, students will still visit clubs in town, but it would be great to have the option of a venue on campus. We would ensure the nightclub is fully accessible to disabled students and provides a safe environment. The club would be competitive with venues in the city.” Initial reports in the campus newspaper York Vision suggested it could cost £200,000 to transform the area and open the 150 to 250-capacity club two days a week between 11pm and 3am. Sam Maguire, the president of York University Students’ Union, said: “It may potentially provide an alternative event space on campus for students to use. However, an integral part of the York student experience is the city nightlife, and this should be protected.”
 
TGI Friday’s opens its greenest UK site: TGI Friday’s has opened its second site in Milton Keynes, this one located at the new MK1 Leisure Park, claiming it as the most environmentally friendly TGI Friday’s ever. Features include solar PV panels on the roof that generate part of the electrical supply required for the building. The restaurant, can serve 266 guests, and has created 85 new jobs in the town. Antonia Osborne, general manager for TGI Friday’s MK1 Leisure Park, said: “We’re thrilled to not only be opening our second restaurant here in Milton Keynes, where there’s clearly a huge appetite for Friday’s, but also proud to be green trailblazers for TGI Friday’s in the UK. We’ve already experienced a huge influx of customers who have given us tremendous feedback.”
 
Restaurant company walks away after bank ‘overpriced’ premises: A restaurant operator has walked away from the leasehold premises it was trying to buy after the bank selling the property on behalf of its owner allegedly overvalued the premises by more than £100,000. The pub, restaurant and live entertainment venue One Ashton Road in Gourock, Inverclyde, Scotland, run by Speirs Leisure for the past 18 months, is now closed, with manager Kay Speirs telling The Greenock Telegraph newspaper: “They wouldn’t do a deal with us. Our valuations were miles apart and there was no middle ground. We just couldn’t do a deal. It was a good going concern.” Speirs said full-time staff will now be offered a move to the former Port & Harbour Hotel and restaurant in Greenock, which the company also owns. The unnamed bank involved was arranging the sale of the property on behalf of its owner, the former Inverclyde businessman Ahmed Zulfiqar, who used to operate a host of other premises including the now closed Wemyss Bay Hotel. Speirs said Zulfiqar was not to blame for the collapsed deal: “Mr Ahmed did everything in his power to make the deal happen, but unfortunately the final decision rests with the ‘suits’ somewhere in London.”
 
Mitchells & Butlers named as Top 100 Apprenticeship Employer: Mitchells & Butlers has been recognised in the prestigious Top 100 Apprenticeship Employers list which is compiled annually by the National Apprenticeship Service in partnership with City & Guilds and recognises excellence in businesses that employ apprentices. The list was announced at the National Apprenticeship Awards which took place during the Skills Show in Birmingham – an event to inspire people with exciting opportunities in further education, skills and apprenticeships. The list includes a diverse mix of businesses, selecting only three from the hospitality sector and acknowledges Mitchells & Butlers commitment to growing its own talent, and showcases opportunities available to other employers considering creating an apprenticeship programme. Jan Smallbone, director of learning and talent development, Mitchells & Butlers, said: “Starting as an apprentice at Mitchells & Butlers gives talented young people a genuine ‘earn while you learn alternative’ and a path to a fantastic retail career. Not only do our apprentices gain technical skills in both cookery and hospitality, they also build transferable skills that are essential to getting ahead in their careers, as well as the opportunity to further their studies to degree level and beyond.”
 
Habit becomes first of ‘better burger’ chains to make IPO as shares double on day one: Habit Burger of California has become the first of the American “better burger” chains, which include Five Guys and Shake Shack, to take the IPO route, with its shares doubling from their launch price of $18 to close at $39.54 on day one. Russ Bendel, Habit Restaurants’ chief executive, said the $90m raised in the IPO will go toward retiring debt and long-term expansion. “The net result is that this gives us an incredibly strong balance sheet and allows us to focus on building and running restaurants,” Bendel said. Founded in 1969, the chain currently has 104 outlets in California, Utah, Arizona and New Jersey. Habit Burger plans to have opened open 22 to 24 restaurants in 2014 and 26 to 28 locations in 2015, before moving into the Washington area and Florida. Franchising will also begin in 2015, with the first of such units scheduled to open in Las Vegas and Seattle, Bendel said. However, the primary focus will remain on corporate restaurant growth. “We are primarily focused on owning and operating restaurants. That is what we do,” Bendel said. “Long term, we would see our total population of franchised restaurants being less than 20%.” The company has projected that Habit Burger could reach 2,000 outlets in the US. Analysts believe Shake Shack could be the next “better burger” chain to go for an IPO.

Manchester restaurant group to open pop-up in Alderley Edge: The Indian restaurant group Mughli, which has outlets in Rusholme and Knutsford in Manchester, is to open a ten-week “pop-up” restaurant called the Railway Cafe in the first week of December at a location next to the train station on London Road in Alderley Edge, Cheshire. A former North West Chef of the Year, David Gale, previously of the Hilton Hotel and most recently at The Lawn Club in Manchester, has been working closely with Mughli to create an Indian-inspired small plates menu and will be executive chef during the pop-up’s limited run. The pop-up will also feature a specialist gin bar headed by the multi-award-winning bartender Craig Harper and Jamie Jones. The brothers behind Mughli, Sax and Haz Arshad, said: “We had been talking with David Gale for some time and when we were asked to launch a pop-up restaurant in one of our favourite suburbs, it seemed the perfect fit for the exciting, collaborative style of menu we were looking to introduce to the north west.” 

College buys sector troubled training firm: Sector training firm Charnwood Training Group has been acquired by North Nottinghamshire College. Last month, Charnwood entered into a Company Voluntary Agreement in relation to debts of around £840,000. The training company, led by Jeremy Scorer and Stephen Smith, owed £529,000 to HMRC, £37,000 to the BII and £127,000 to IT Skills Management. A total of 98.7% of the creditors voted to accept the CVA scheme. Management and key stakeholders believe the investment offer from NNC provided the best long-term solution for Charnwood, which would allow it to emerge better capitalised, and under the control of the wider NNC group. Charnwood Training group managing partner Jeremy Scorer said: “Over the last 16 years we have built a solid team of hospitality industry management and training specialists. I am delighted that the support from NNC will secure the future of that team, the continued support for our apprentices and employers and, moving forward, enable us to achieve controlled growth – particularly in the licensed retail sector.”

Newquay nightclub to go under hammer: A former Newquay nightclub is to be auctioned off. The Salt nightclub will go under the hammer on 18 December during a sale at the St Mellion Golf and Country Club. Agent Miller Commercial in conjunction with Clive Emson Auctioneers acting on behalf of FRP Advisory LLP have been instructed to sell the former nightclub. A spokesman for the firm said the premises were available off a guide price of £230,000 to £260,000. The premises are laid out over three floors and offer 4,500 square foot of space. The spokesman said: “It has historically traded as a nightclub although it is felt that the premises may suit a number of alternative commercial uses subject to planning permission.”

 
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