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Mon 27th Feb 2012 - M&B, Thorley Taverns and Starbucks

Story of the day:

M&B launches takeaway across the Toby estate: Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) has launched a full takeaway service across its 140 Toby Carvery venues. It’s offering takeaway for both its breakfast offer and full carvery offer at the venues.
 
The launch of takeaway at Toby Carvery follows a year after the company first started trialling the offer at a single site in Watford.  Its trial was extended to 15 sites in April 2011 and to 30 venues in May last year.  A spokesman for M&B said that the full takeaway offer has been launched after the brand team satisfied themselves that “service, branding and packaging had been perfected”.  The tagline for Toby Carvery takeaway is: “take out, tuck in”.
 
M&B has also launched its first Roast Sandwich Express at Toby offering a hot takeaway roast carvery sandwich. It’s located at West Quay Shopping Centre in Southampton, near to a John Lewis and a Marks & Spencer in the shopping centre’s food court. 
 
The company launched takeaway across its 190 Harvester sites in April last year. The most recent figures provided by M&B indicated the company was selling around 10,000 takeaways a week, which suggests in excess of £60,000 of incremental sales per week across the Harvester estate.

Weekend news:

Thorley Taverns buys three pubs for £3m: Thorley Taverns, the Kent-based operator of pubs, restaurants and hotels, has spent £3m acquiring three pubs from Enterprise Inns in a move that takes the estate to 24 sites. The company was the existing tenant at two of the pubs, The Tartar Frigate and The Captain Digby in Broadstairs, for many decades. Thorley Taverns also acquired the Charles Dickens in Broadstairs, the first pub operated in Broadstairs by founder Frank Thorley back in 1975 - at the time Thorley grew the business to a 1,500 barrels a year site.

The company is to invest £500,000 in the Charles Dickens in Broadstairs - it will be a gastro-pub on the ground floor and a restaurant upstairs.

Thorley Taverns had been looking at buying the lease on the pub but jumped at the chance to acquire the freehold. The pub will have a kitchen three times the size of the original and the first-floor restaurant will have sea views – it's due to re-open at Easter.

Phil Thorley told Morning Briefing: "It's a win-win scenario. The pubs weren't on the market but we were able to work out a deal with Enterprise - we're very happy and they're very happy." In 2011, Thorley Taverns sold two small freeholds, The Fayreness Hotel to Shepherd Neame and an Enterprise Inns lease. "There's been a bit of pruning in the garden - we've cut back to grow again," added Thorley.
 
Michelin-starred chef throws in the towel: Michelin-stared chef Skye Gyngell has decided to quit her restaurant at Petersham Nurseries, near London’s Richmond Park, describing the award as a curse. Michelin awarded the star at the restaurant despite its “rickety tables”, "haphazard service” and “loos in a wooden shed”. Of the Michelin star, Gyngell told The Daily Telegraph: ”It’s been a curse. That probably sounds very ungrateful. Since we got the star we’ve been rammed every single day, which is really hard for such a tiny restaurant. And we’ve had lots more complaints. People have certain expectations of Michelin restaurant but we don’t have cloths on the tables and the service isn’t very formal.”
 
Starbucks plans 300 new UK openings: Starbucks plans to expand its UK estate of outlets by 300 to 1,000 in total over the next three to five years, according to the Sunday Telegraph. The company will target the regions as well as service stations and concessions in airports, train stations and hotels. The company is investing £8m in a re-design of sites In London to give them a more local feel, using British designers. The Seattle-based company has under-performed in Europe compared to the US – sales are up just two per cent compared to eight per cent.
 
Pubs and restaurants to be given Diamond Jubilee extensions: Pubs and restaurants will be allowed to open until 1am on the Friday and Saturday night of the Golden Jubilee celebrations without applying for a licence. Festivities to mark the Queen’s six decades on the throne are being held over four days with the traditional May Bank Holiday moved to Monday 4 June and an extra day off created on Tuesday 5 June.
 
Hawksmoor steakhouse chain places in Best Employer list: Hawksmoor, the three-strong restaurant chain, founded by Will Beckett and Huw Gott, has placed 36th in the Sunday Times list of "Best Small Companies to Work For”. Staff are expected to support and coach their juniors. “Train people to take your place – it’s how we know you’re ready to be promoted,” is the company motto.

Other news: 

McDonald’s suffering image problem: Advertiser Age reports that, according to people close to the company, McDonald’s internal tracking system finds that McDonald’s consistently ranks near the bottom in quality perception when compared with its rivals. Global like-for-likes rose 5.6% last year – its eighth consecutive year of growth. But the company is taking action by addressing issues related to perceptions about its food quality, sourcing and nutritional value and sustainability practices, including suppliers’ treatment of animals, service and the conditions of its sites.  Scott Banbury, chief executive of market research company Brandstream, said: “For any company to ignore what consumers are saying and instead take comfort in their revenue numbers is ill-advised.”
 
Entrepreneur Mark Fuller backs 18-year-old chef: Leisure entrepreneur Mark Fuller, who runs Concept Venues, the umbrella company for Embassy nightclub, Geales restaurants and the Sanctum Hotel chain, has backed 18-year-old chef Luke Thomas in opening his first restaurant. Luke’s Dining Room is opening at Sanctum on the Green Hotel, near Marlow, in Berkshire, in March. Thomas has had experience at Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck in Bray, Alinea in Chicago and the French Laundry pop-up restaurant at Harrods. 
 
Most Bars re-open Punch’s Essex Arms:  Most Bars, the company run by Paul Wigham and Stephen Brook, has re-opened the Essex Arms in Brentwood, a Punch Taverns site that has undergone a £150,000 refurbishment. The venue hosts one of the UK’s best-known specialist blues clubs, The Seaxe.  The re-opening has seen the cask ale offer increase from four to six.
 
Wye Valley Brewery buys fifth pub: Wye Valley Brewery, the microbrewery founded by Peter Amor, has acquired its fifth pub, The Old Pelican in Gloucester. The company, founded by ex-Guinness brewer Peter Amor and now led by his son Vernon, who trained with Young’s as a brewer, won Best Drinks Producer in the 2010 BBC Food and Farming Awards. Vernon Armor said: “At Wye Valley we are passionate about pubs. We believe they play an important role in our communities, as they are the outlet for our national drink – cask-conditioned beer.

Private company results:

Hook Norton: Oxfordshire brewer Hook Norton has reported a jump in pre-tax profit for the year ending 30 September 2011. The company has reported pre-tax profit of £458,000 on turnover of  £7.445m – the year before it has pre-tax profit of £331,034 on turnover only four thousand lower. A directors’ report stated: “The company is securely capitalised, has falling bank debt, has increased its investment to overcome the historic under-investment in its assets and operations, and is becoming more efficient and entrepreneurial.” The company now has joint managing directors – James Clarke and Adrian Staley. 
 
Market Town Taverns: Market Town Taverns, the 15-strong Yorkshire cask ale specialist led by Ian Fozard and acquired by Isle of Man-based Heron and Brearley last year, has reported a rise in pre-tax profits to £523,561 compared to £428,220 the year before. Turnover rose to £6,592,578 in the year ended 30 September 2011 from £5,120,331 the year before.  The company, which was founded in 1999, added three sites during the year. A report to Companies House stated: “Sales performance again showed a strong improvement of 28% over the previous year as a result of like-for-like sales increases as well as expansion of the estate. Year-on-year administrative costs including staff costs, increased by 30%, partly due to inflationary pressures, but mostly as a consequence of the expansion of the estate.”  Three new directors were added to the board in the wake of the Heron and Brearley purchase: Ian Lennox, Steve Taylor and Jonathan Clague. Heron and Brearley operates a managed estate of 48 pubs – the acquisition of Market Town Taverns is part of a plan to increase its presence on the mainland.
 
Patisserie Valerie trebles profits: Patisserie Valerie, the cake shop business owned by Luke Johnson’s Risk Capital Partners, has reported a 21 per cent jump in sales to £43m in the year to September 2011.  Earnings before interest, tax and accounting charges rose 31 per cent to £8m. Pre-tax profits more than trebled to £4.8m. Luke Johnson told the Sunday Times: “We have had various approaches from bidders and private equity firms but we think it is too early to sell. We think there is more to go for.”

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