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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Wed 25th Apr 2012 - TGI Friday's, Whitbread and reduced incomes

Story of the day:

New TGI Friday’s set for Manchester claims “world’s largest” title: A new TGI Friday’s planned for Manchester, set to open in June, will be the biggest in the world. The venue, to be housed in the city’s Royal Exchange, will create 140 jobs and have 318 covers on the ground floor and a further 100 on a mezzanine floor. Chief executive Karen Forrester told Morning Briefing: “(It) will be the biggest Friday’s bar in the world and we will have a master mixologists bar upstairs.” The new TGI Friday's will primarily occupy the ground floor of the Royal Exchange, a Grade II-listed building previously occupied by RBS. Darrell Wade, TGI Friday’s commercial director, said: “The new restaurant will be something special and we’ve put a huge amount of effort into the plans to make sure that it is a fresh new concept for the city.” TGI Friday’s is also set to take the ground floor of a new development in Blackpool that will occupy the landmark site formerly occupied by Yates’s wine lodge on Clifton Street. The former Yates’s had to be pulled down after a devastating fire in February 2009. The company, which opened five sites last year, saw a jump in pre-tax profit to £11,182,000 in the year to 25 December 2011 from £7,349,000 the year before. Turnover at the company rose from £105.3m to £123.9m. The work that Forrester and her team have done on re-energising the brand in the UK has influenced the evolution of the brand globally – there are 50 sites in the UK and almost 1,000 around the world. Forrester has won several industry awards for her role in revitalising TGI Friday’s after it was sold by Whitbread in 2007 to a consortium involving ABN AMRO Capital and Carlson Restaurants Worldwide for £70.4m.

Industry news:

Standard closing time of 2am suggested for Northern Ireland: Environment Minister Alex Attwood has suggested a standard final closing time of 2am be adopted for pubs and clubs in Northern Ireland. Under current rules, most licences have a 11pm closing time but some can stay open until 3am with an entertainments licence granted by the local council. However, last weekend pub and club owners agreed to voluntarily close at 2am. It followed controversy over the death of Joby Murphy, 20, who drowned after drinking £1 vodka shots on a night out. Colin Neill, of industry body Pubs of Ulster, said their members had agreed to the 2am closing time as a voluntary measure.“It follows the storm over irresponsible promotions and allegations of illegal trading. It’s really the industry putting our house in order and showing we can self-regulate.”

The ALMR launches operations managers awards: The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) has launched its operations managers awards, which recognises the skills, enthusiasm and professionalism of the industry’s best operations managers. ALMR chief executive Nick Bish said: “We are exceptionally proud of the Awards and the talent pool of operations managers that lead success at the sharp end of our industry. It is this talent that the ALMR Operations Managers Awards exists to recognise, reward and develop”. Nominations can be made online at, from 20 April, and via the form available direct from the ALMR on 020 8579 2080.

Pubs and restaurants get 11am Sunday Glasgow go-ahead: Pubs and restaurants will be allowed to apply to open at 11am on Sundays in Glasgow. The move was approved by the city council’s licensing board after a public consultation. The decision now leaves Edinburgh and parts of Lanarkshire as the remaining areas in Scotland where Sunday opening remains at 12.30pm.

Starbucks to open at six Disney sites in the US: Coffee giant Starbucks has signed a deal to open a site at each of the six Disney properties in California and Florida. Stores will be very lightly branded and will be designed to blend in with the property at Disney. Passersby might have to look twice to notice that it’s a Starbucks. At Disneyland California, for example, the store will be called The Fiddler, Fifer and Practical Cafe, after the characters in the Three Little Pigs. The Starbucks logo will not be posted outside, although the name will be printed vertically on posts on either side of the entry way.

Asda’s - households £10 worse off in March: Supermarket firm Asda has reported that households were £10 worse off in March due to high inflation compared to a year earlier. Average disposable income dropped by 6.5 per cent on a year earlier to £144 a week. Londoners had the biggest weekly disposable income at £266, around 80 per cent higher than the national average. 

Researchers – oregano can beat prostate cancer: Researchers from Long Island University have found oregano, a seasoning commonly found in pizza, has the potential to be a powerful weapon in fighting prostate cancer. They found carvacrol, a chemical found in oregano, rapidly wiped out prostate cancer cells in tests. After four days, the oregano killed nearly all the prostate cancer cells.

British teenagers among worst for binge drinking: A survey of 40 high-income countries has found England has the fourth highest percentage of youths who have been drunk by the age of 13. Wales ranked fifth and Scotland came eighth. The study did, however, rely on figures from 2006.

Dark chocolate good for the heart: A study by San Diageo State University has found that dark chocolate eaten in moderate quantities lowers blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Researchers found that dark chocolate may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by improving blood glucose levels and lipid profiles.

Company news:

Kitchen appliance firm to open cookery school: A new cookery school, the 102 Cookery School, is opening in Bristol’s Gloucester Road. The venue is being launched by kitchen appliance shop Nailsea Electrical, in affiliation with Samsung. The school is opening in a church conversion next to Nailsea Electrical in Bishopston. The school will play host to a number of classes and courses, including ‘demonstration and dine’ evenings led by the South West-based Michelin-starred and AA Rosette rated chefs. Ben Gilks, director of Nailsea Electrical and 102 Cookery School, said: “After expanding our business by opening a fully working showroom we have seen that the public has a genuine interest in food and the methods by which it is cooked to get the best results. We’ve been inspired by this to create a food and drink venue like no other.”

Gordon Ramsay to open a Las Vegas venue in May: Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay is to open a steak restaurant, Gordon Ramsay Steak, at the Paris Las Vegas venue in Las Vegas on 11 May. The menu will include fish and chips and pork belly. A 35-selection beer list will feature Innis & Gunn Original Oak Aged Beer and John’s Smith’s.

Whitbread – no news likely on demerger this week: Paul Hickman, leisure analyst at Peel Hunt, has argued that it is unlikely Whitbread will announce the demerger of its Costa coffee arm at results tomorrow (26 April). He said: “Following the speculation on a potential demerger of Costa on the announcement of the resignation of John Derkach and his replacement with finance director Chris Rogers, we expect no new news on this subject. The move seems to us to heighten the possibility that the demerger will eventually take place. The shares have accelerated on this sentiment, up ten per cent since our March sector review, and are now close to our previous target price of 1,860p, which we put under review.” 

Freeholds of five sites let to Botanic Inns set to be sold: The freeholds of five Belfast pubs effectively repossessed by the Irish government’s National Asset Management Agency (Nama) are likely to be sold, with a value of around £13m. Last year Nama appointed an administrator to two companies, Lanyon Trading and Lisk. They own the freeholds of The Bot, The King’s Head, Madison’s, The Globe and The Northern Whig. The premises are all leased to Botanic Inns, which continues to trade them. The valuation is contained in statement of affairs submitted by the directors of Lanyon Trading and Lisk. The book value of the bars - which will reflect roughly what they were bought for - is listed at around £20m.

The Times - Greene King benefiting from community bias: Patrick Hosking, writing the Tempus column in The Times, has stated that Greene King is benefiting, like Marston’s, from having a strong bias to community sites. He said: “Consumers may not have the money to catch a train or taxi into town for a night out, but popping round the corner for a pie and a pint remains an affordable treat – no more so than on special occasions such as Valentine’s Day, St Patrick’s Day and Mother’s Day, when it sold 220,000 meals.” 

Newton Abbey plan to involve Marston’s pub gets go-ahead: A £10m plan to build a Marston’s pub alongside a livestock market, religious meeting hall, and new homes on the outskirts of Newton Abbot has got the go-ahead. The development, which involves moving the town’s livestock market from the centre of the town, could be open within 12 months, 

Car dealership tycoon plans boutique hotel: Car dealership tycoon Archie Maclean has won planning consent to turn the derelict Raeburn Hotel in Edinburgh into a boutique hotel. Maclean paid £1.5m for the property, narrowly outbidding JD Wetherspoon. Work is expected to begin by July and last around 15 months, with the boutique hotel opening in September 2013.

Wetherspoon Glasgow site sells for £4m: International property fund manager Cordea Savills has bought The Counting House public house on Glasgow’s George Square for £4 million, which produces an initial yield of 6.32 per cent. The property was purchased from Scottish Widows Investment Partnership Property Trust. The site is reported to be one of Wetherspoon’s top three trading pubs in the UK. The ground floor of the listed building was converted into a pub in 1996.

Birmingham bar, restaurant and nightclub company appoints operations manager: Birmingham-based GB Holdings, which bought the Nightingale nightclub in Birmingham, a nightclub with a 2,000 capacity, out of administration last year, has appointed David Nash as its new operations manager. GB Holdings also operates The Village, The Loft Lounge and The Penthouse, and has an annual turnover in excess of £5 million.

Heart Attack Grill fells a second victim: A Las Vegas restaurant renowned for its massively calorific meals has claimed a second suspected heart attack victim. Heart Attack Grill, which serves the Triple Bypass Burger and has waitresses dressed as nurses, saw a customer collapse at the weekend and taken to hospital – a customer was hospitalised in February after a heart attack on the premises. The latest victim, a female customer, was eating a double-patty burger inside two lard-covered buns at the time of the collapse.

Just-Eat buys UK’s third largest takeaway service: Just-Eat, the world’s largest online takeaway ordering service, has bought the UK’s third biggest takeaway ordering service Just-Eat already provides its services in 13 countries around the world, offering customers a choice of 20,000 takeaway restaurants via its website. The acquisition sees the company add another 1,400 UK restaurant partners to its service, with Bertie Cordingley, founder and owner, continuing to lead the day-to-day operations of the business. David Buttress, managing director of Just-Eat UK, said: “This acquisition cements Just-Eat’s position as the only truly national online takeaway website, which means that our customers can enjoy the widest range of cuisines from thousands of restaurants across the country.”

Villagers buy pub for £400,000: A village pub is back in business after locals raised £400,000 to buy it. Around 40 residents from the Shelford and Newton area clubbed together to buy The Earl of Chesterfield Arms in Shelford, Nottinghamshire. Now The Shelford Pub Company, run by four members of the group, has agreed a deal with Jodie and Steve McCabe for them to become tenants.

Domino’s pizza franchisee to defend worth title: A Domino’s Pizza franchisee from Surrey will be flying off to Las Vegas in May to defend his title as the World’s Fastest Pizza Maker. Pali Grewal, who won the title back in 2010 in Las Vegas as part of an event that happens every two years, has been polishing up his skills by spending as much time as possible in his Surrey store. Grewal set a new world record for pizza making in 2010 - and became the first entrant from the UK to win the Domino’s title. He made three large pizzas in just 39.1 seconds - 13 seconds per pizza.

SSP reports Norway’s Oslo Airport success: Global concessionaire SSP has reported that several recently opened cafés and restaurants at Oslo Airport are trading “at least 50 per cent above target”. The new venues, which opened in January and February, form part of a major five-year contract awarded to SSP last May to operate 30 outlets across the terminal, making it the sole F&B operator airside and on the landside departure level. SSP opened a French restaurant called Le Grand Comptoir, a YO! Sushi, a Starbucks and an Upper Crust.

James Martin re-opens second restaurant: Celebrity chef James Martin has helped re-open The Talbot Hotel in Malton, Yorkshire, his home town. Previously under lease with English Rose Hotels, the listed building was taken back into the management of the owners, the Fitzwilliam Estate, last year – a £4m restoration project followed. Martin has overseen the revamp of the hotel’s kitchen and restaurant but head chef is Craig Aitchison. Martin opened the Leeds Kitchen restaurant in Leeds a year ago.

Noodle House to open in the UK: Jumeirah Restaurants has signed a license agreement with the EQ Group to open 27 Noodle House restaurants across Great Britain - the first is expected to open later this year. Phil Broad, managing director of Jumeirah Restaurants, said: “I have seen how best-in-class brands deliver superior results to an increasingly sophisticated consumer. We have no doubt that the Noodle House will prove to be an amazing success when it opens in this exciting market.”

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