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Wed 29th Feb 2012 - Number Works, Prezzo and Oakman

Story of the Day

Number Works pioneers new value offer: A pub company is pioneering a new style of value-offer that is attracting large numbers of customers. The Number Works Pub Company, run by Martyn Hathaway and his family, has five sites where it is offering food at the bargain price-points of £2, £4, £6, and £8. Industry watchers describe the offer as a clever evolution of the traditional Two for One offer. Martyn set up the company in 2009 after 20 years’ experience in the pub trade. The £2 menu offers, for example, chicken breast salad, two fishcakes with a sweet chilli dipping sauce and soup of the day among a larger range of £2 items. His £8 menu lists 14 oz T-bone steak, a full rack of BBQ pork ribs and mega mixed grill among a range of eight menu items. Sunday roast dinner costs £4. His pubs open for food between 10am and 9pm each day with a coffee and cake offer for £1 to attract customers in the morning. Martyn work to a low Gross Profit on food of 38% but the extra drinks business that is attracted by the drinks offer means his pubs have an overall GP of 55%. Turnover at each pub climbs quickly to £20,000 per week as people flock in for the great value food. Said Martyn: “My view is that earning a Gross Profit of 55% on £20,000 per week of turnover at each pub is a better proposition that 70% of £10,000 per week." One of its pubs opened in September last year and was taking £2,000 per week – the pub is already up to £12,000 per week. Number Works Pub Company opened the Jubilee pub in the large village of Studley, near Redditch, and the Hobs Meadow, Ulleries Road, in Solihull last year. Landlord Punch Taverns made an investment of just over £100,000 across the two pubs alongside a large investment from Number Works. The new openings add to an estate of three other pubs run by Martyn’s company – the Booth Hall and Wye Inn in Hereford, and Ellingtons in Swindon, a former Punch Taverns pub now transferred to Spirit.

News

ALMR launches perceptions campaign: A major new campaign launches today urging MPs and the media to look afresh at modern pubs and bars and recognise their hugely positive impact - creating thousands of jobs and uniting communities. The ‘I’ve Changed My Outlook’ campaign, launched by the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR), the leading national trade body for pubs and bars, is seeking to rebalance the debate - away from, at times, a relentless focus on pub closures and 24-hour drinking and towards celebrating how dynamic and diverse modern licensed hospitality businesses are. It will do this by allowing those who run, work in and visit pubs and bars to speak directly to political audiences and share their experiences. A dedicated campaign website - www.ivechangedmyoutlook.org.uk - features short video clips that people have uploaded from their cameras or mobile phones explaining why they like working in the industry or spending time in our outlets. Contributors are asked for their postcode so we can send a link to their video to their constituency MP.

American restaurants train-in better service: The Wall Street Journal has reported that American restaurants are training staff to “read the table” to ensure service is more personal. Restaurant companies have decided that “standard scripts” sound dated. The Cheesecake Factory chain now provides a two-week training programme that is full of additional tips for waiting staff such always walk first-time customers to the toilet, don’t point and always have at least five employees sing Happy Birthday to tables. Applebee vice president of learning and development Wayne Vandewater said: “We asked ourselves what can we do that will set us apart from the scrum. Food is easy to copy, a building is easy to copy, but it’s not easy to copy our people.”

Satellite ruling favours licensees: City analyst Douglas Jack, of Numis, reports that last week’s High Court victory in favour of pub landlady Karen Murphy, allowing her to use a foreign satellite provider to broadcast Premiership football match, is potentially positive news for tenanted pubs. Pubs typically pay Sky £10,000 plus to screen live football, against less than £1,000 for foreign decoder cards. Jack argues it is doubtful that managed estates will take the risk, but sports/wet-led tenanted pubs may be encouraged to take advantage of the ruling.

Prezzo launches new menu: Prezzo, the Italian restaurant group, has launched its new menu. The menu, available in its 160 UK sites, offers diners the option to enjoy its range of pizza and pasta in three different ways. It has also added a selection of new meals and enhanced its existing offer. Its 13 pizzas are now available in three different styles, classic, light or V.I. Pizza. The classic is its traditional stone-baked, while the light is a smaller flatbread pizza served with a mixed salad and a low calorie Italian dressing (the calories are listed on the menu). The third choice is the V.I. Pizza, described as “the ultimate Prezzo pizza”, which is bigger and crispier with even more toppings. Diners can also enjoy the restaurants’ selection of ten pasta in three different ways. It is served as classic pasta; as well as light, a smaller serving of pasta served with a mixed salad and a low calorie Italian dressing.

Multi-site news

The Restaurant Group plans up to 30 new openings in 2012: The Restaurant  Group, which operates 400 sites, with brands such as Frankie and Benny's and Garfunkel's, is planning between 25 and 30 openings in 2012, in line with 2011. It operates 42 pub restaurants and plans to open between three and five more this year, trading in its Brunning & Price format. Like-for-like sales were up three per cent in 2011 but have dropped to negative two per cent in the eight weeks to 26 February this year.

Cheltenham licensees go multi-site: Licensees Sam and Georgie Peraman are to open their second pub in Cheltenham. The couple who run the Wheatsheaf in Norhleach, are opening The Tavern on 12 March. The couple have been inspired by their trips to bars and restaurants in London, Paris and New York. Georgie said: “The Royal Well’s décor needed a change and so we decided to bring the best of what we had seen in restaurants and bars abroad to The Tavern.”

Oakman Inns explores funding options: Oakman Inns, the six-strong multiple led by Peter Borg-Neal, is exploring funding options for the next stage of its growth. The company opened the Blue Boar in Witney, Oxfordshire at the end of last year. The venue is a freehold formerly known as the Marlborough Hotel that Oakman acquired for £1.4m where it invested a similar sum on a refurbishment – the venue is now taking £30,000 net of VAT per week. Borg-Neal told Morning Briefing that the company is looking at funding options for the next stage of its “steady” growth, which will be focused on opening two high quality sites in the next financial year.

ALMR celebrates 12 new members: Twelve new members have joined The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers. The new members include eight operators, representing over 300 sites and four supplier members. The new operator members are: Heron & Brearley, Intertain, Amber Taverns, Livelyhood Pubs, Oxford Hotels & Inns, Sports Bar & Grill, Route Organisation and Platinum Lace, bringing the total number of current operator members to 98. The new supplier members are: Unilever Food Services, Costa Coffee, Drinks21 and BSkyB.

Successful restaurateurs open first pub: Well-known restaurateurs Wendy and Matthew Brown, who have run the successful Wesley House restaurant in Winchcombe for the last 20 years, featured in restaurant bible Harden’s, are re-opening The Royal Oak in Gretton after a major refurbishment. The Browns promise to “breathe new life” into the popular village pub and build on the Royal Oak’s strong reputation as a good country pub.

Timothy Taylor joins forces with Yorkshire family businesses: Timothy Taylor has introduced a traditional British dish of fruitcake, made with Taylor’s own award-winning Landlord bitter, and cheese, with local Yorkshire bakers Just Desserts and artisan cheese maker Shepherds Purse. Adrian Sykes, Timothy Taylor’s food development manager said: “As one of only a few independently run traditional Yorkshire brewers, it is great to be able to deal with two successful Yorkshire businesses producing traditional, high quality, handcrafted products.”

Marston’s set to sell off landmark Nottingham pub: Marston’s has applied for planning permission to convert historic Nottingham pub the Vernon Arms into alternative use. The pub is due to cease trading on the 3 June and local media suggests it will become a Sainsbury’s Local.

Greene King makes way for pub dart board: Following a plea from Birmingham city planners, Greene King have agreed to allow space for a dart board when the derelict Baldwin Pub in Hall Green is re-opened after a major restoration. Local councilor John Clancy has been campaigning for more dart boards in pubs. He said: “We have received a letter from Greene King confirming that they have designated space for a darts area in the Baldwin.”

Nottingham pubs overwhelmed with job-seekers: Mitchells and Butlers newly-refurbished Flaming Grill branded pubs The Sherwin Arms in Bramcote and the Old Colonial in West Bridgford were inundated with over 100 applicants turning up for a recruitment day. General manager Chris Blackmore said: “The response was overwhelming. We had a lot of interest after we advertised in the Nottingham Post and a lot of people called. I was expecting to do around 30 interviews and ended up doing 70.”

Survey reveals decline in US restaurant market: Market survey CHD reports that in 2011 the number of restaurants in the US marketplace declined by 2.5 per cent, representing a net change of 16,000 fewer restaurants across the country with more establishments closing in the final three month quarter. Full service restaurants took the brunt of the closures, with 12,000 fewer operators, which is almost three times the amount of market decline than the previous year. Limited service restaurants suffered a decline of 4,000 operators, but “American Traditional” and “American Regional” menu types increased in the marketplace by more than 7.5 per cent, with Bars & Grills and Asian restaurants rising over two per cent.

Anglian Country Inns reports strong sales at Hermitage Road: Anglian Country Inns, the award-winning four-strong operator, has reported very strong sales at their latest opening, Hermitage Road Bar and Restaurant. The venue opened in October last year on the high street in Hitchen in an upstairs ballroom.  It is a departure for Anglian – its first three sites are country pubs. Managing director James Nye told Morning Briefing: “It’s been phenomenal – incredibly busy. “We’ve beaten budget by 30% in the past two months.” The site is run by James’s brother Howard and partner Ellene. Anglian is now building up cash reserves before looking at expansion opportunities in the autumn.

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