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Mon 28th May 2012 - St Austell, Enterprise Inns, and Brewdog

Story of the day:

St Austell adds voice to complaints over excessive tax: Cornwall brewer and retailer St Austell has joined calls for the tax burden on the sector to be reduced. The company, whose turnover rose 6.6 per cent in the year to 31 December 2011 to £99.08m, has reported it is now paying an “incredible” £25m a year in taxes. Chairman William Michelmore said: “We find the government’s policy on taxation both contradictory and unjustified. At a time when the private sector is being asked to increase investment to create more jobs we are paying an incredible £25m a year in total taxes. Of course we are in challenging times and the company is prepared to pay its fair share to the government’s finances, but the duty escalator is a tax too far and should be scrapped with immediate effect.” Michelmore said the company had pledged its support to the Jacques Borel campaign to reduce VAT charged on drink, food and accommodation to five per cent. Operating profit for 2011 rose 9.1 per cent to £10.46m. The company also reclaimed £1.7m in Corporation Tax from HMRC after a detailed review of capital allowances on property purchased by the company – this meant the tax charge on profits was reduced to £297,000 compared to £3.04m the year before. The company’s own beers saw volumes increase by 18 per cent, with an 11 per cent boost for packaged ales. A £5.6m investment programme in the company’s brewing and bottling facilities will complete this year with the building of a new cask racking line and refrigerated storage.

Free Report: Paul Charity has written a report on menu trends, the drivers of US dining occasions, the franchise business model and other key areas of the US foodservice market and their significance to the UK market. The report, based on a visit to the National Restaurant Association (NRA) show in Chicago, is produced in conjunction with the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers and sponsored by CPL Training. It is free and is available by e-mailing Paul Charity on paul.charity@propelinfo.com.

“The report on the NRA is excellent. I have been going back and forward to the US a lot in the last two years (plus I lived in the US from 1992 to 2000 working in the restaurant business) and your insight is spot on. Thanks for sharing.” 
Alison Vickers,
Business Development Director, YO! Sushi

Weekend catch-up:

The 12 towns to become Portas pilots have been named: The dozen towns to become Portas Pilots under a scheme to revive troubled high streets have been named – they beat off 360 other town bids to win backing for their ideas. There have been so many quality ideas that another round of 12 winners will be announced at the end of July. The towns that will each receive £100,000 - and their winning ideas - are: Bedford, Bedfordshire: offering mentoring support for high street businesses and community use of empty properties; Croydon, Greater London: transforming the riot-stricken area's historic Old Town market into a thriving market, food and cultural quarter; Dartford, Kent: opening up central spaces for use by classes and clubs, from the Scouts to Slimming World and starting a 'school for shopkeepers'; Bedminster, Bristol: putting Bedminster on the map for street art and street theatre. A bicycle rickshaw service and a review of parking will also tackle the traffic environment; Liskeard, Cornwall: competing against the edge of town supermarket by creating a vibrant arts scene; Margate, Kent: putting education and enjoyment at the heart of the town centre's transformation with courses, 'job club' services and pop up shops; Market Rasen, Lincolnshire: drawing customers in by restoring the market town look and feel, advertising free parking and mentoring new businesses; Nelson, Lancashire: attracting local students with a young persons café, sports activities, and a new art and vintage market; Newbiggin by the Sea, Northumberland: better branding of the town to draw people in, improving local transport and hosting pop-up shops; Stockport, Greater Manchester: realising the character and potential of the Markets and Underbanks area with a creative arts complex, outdoor screenings, a new parking strategy and 'street champions'; Stockton on Tees, Teeside: live entertainment at The Globe Theatre to boost the evening leisure economy alongside specialist high street and evening markets; Wolverhampton, West Midlands: bringing the centre to life with modern day town criers and on-street performers and a 'dragon's den' style competition to support local entrepreneurs.

Pubs become tourism info centres: Visit Peak District & Derbyshire has joined forces with the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) to launch innovative new Visitor Information Points (VIPs) in a pilot scheme at nine pubs in the area. The pilot scheme, the first in the country, was launched last Friday at The Wheatsheaf in Baslow, and has been welcomed by tourism Minister John Penrose MP. Participating pubs will receive a specially designed brochure dispenser, which will be regularly filled and updated, free of charge, with a range of local tourism leaflets. Participating pubs will be promoted by Visit Peak District & Derbyshire as places for visitors to obtain information on local attractions, and they will be able to display a recognised sign outside.

Mobile units set up to deal with drunken revellers: A number of field hospitals are to be set up to cope with an anticipated increase in revellers enjoying the series of major events planned for the UK this summer. Staff at St Thomas’s hospital in London are being placed on “semi internal major incident mode” from next week in preparation for the Diamond Jubilee Bank Holiday. Other hospitals are increasing front line staff and in Portsmouth mobile treatment units are being placed near popular nightclubs.

Scotland set to lower drink drive limit: Scotland is planning to reduce the drink drive limit from 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood to 50mg in a move that would see Scotland aligned with Germany, France and Spain. Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said he would publish proposals later this year “with a view to the change taking effect as soon a possible”.

Curry-a-day can stave off infections: Eating a curry every day can keep infections at bay. US researchers have found that turmeric causes a sizeable increase in a protein that boosts the immune system, helping the body to fight bacteria and viruses, including those that cause tuberculosis.

Tesco to stock ready meals that last 18 months: The Grocer magazine reports that Tesco is to start selling ready meals that can be stored at room temperature for 18 months. The range, produced by Princes, includes chilli con carne, chicken curry, chicken supreme and beef in red wine with potato. 

Spending at pre-recession levels until 2015: The Ernst & Young Item Club has forecast that household spending will fail to return to pre-recession levels before at least 2015. The high street will under-perform until the end of the decade. However, the average worker will be £482 better off this year and £624 better off next year thanks to falling inflation and tax cuts.

Company news:

Whitbread searches for Costa strategy director: Whitbread is looking to recruit a strategy director for Costa Coffee. The job, which offers a six figure basic and bonus, will focus on “providing insightful competitor analysis and offering recommendations on future product and market development” and have full responsibility for the assessment of mergers and acquisitions.

Mitchells & Butlers starts print media campaign for Toby Carvery: With the weather turning warmer last weak, which is unhelpful for carvery operations, Mitchells & Butlers took adverts in national newspapers offering customers a free dairy ice cream with a carvery meal with an added stipulation – customers have to clear their plates.

Spirit Pub Company launches “Great Grandparents Day”: Managed operator Spirit has created “Great Grandparents Day” at its Fayre & Square pubs. The event, which was held yesterday, looks to give something back by dedicating the day to great grandparents. When all four generations eat together at a Fayre & Square on the day, great grandparents got their main meal free between 2pm and 5pm. Fayre & Square spokesperson Sally Wainwright said: “Everyone leads very busy lives so it’s often hard to see elderly relatives, especially as many people have moved away from their home town. But it’s important to keep in touch. We know many great grandparents who often dine here with their families so we wanted to give people the chance to say thank you and celebrate with them. We mark Mothers Day, Fathers Day and even Grandparents Day but nothing to celebrate our eldest generation – until now.”

Pub sub-let to Antic Pub Company sells for £1.46m: The freehold of Pratts and Payne in Steatham, a pub sub-let to Antic Pub Company by head lessee Mitchells and Butlers has sold for £1.46m at an Allsop auction, well over the guide price of between £1.2m to £1.3m. Total rent payable on the premises, which includes a dance studio on the second floor, is £103,100, which means the buyer receives a 7.06 per cent yield on their investment.

Freehold of Food & Fuel pub Prince of Wales sells for £1.52m: The freehold of The Prince of Wales pub in Putney, a pub whose lease was acquired by Karen Jones’s Food & Fuel at the start of 2012, has sold for £1.52m at an Allsop auction, well over the guide price of between £1.4m to £1.5m. Current rent payable per annum is £105,000, which means the buyer earns a yield of 6.91 per cent on their investment. The pub’s head lessee is Punch Taverns, which has a lease until 2029.

JD Wetherspoon plans pub in Abingdon (again): Managed operator JD Wetherspoon has lodged a planning application to convert the former post office in Abingdon, which has a population of 33,000, into a pub. Nine years ago the company lost a controversial battle to open a pub at the town’s former Congregational Church, in Pulpit House, which is now an Ask pizza restaurant. Abingdon is reportedly quieter at weekends after the closure of its nightclub a while back. Meanwhile, the company has re-opened The Bear in Melksham, Wilkshire, which has a population of 27,835, after a £1.4m investment. The venue was closed by owner Wadworth in March last year and sold to Wetherspoon in July.

Restaurant manager takes over Thwaites pub: The former manager of The Thyme Restaurant in Longridge, Alex Coward, has taken over Thwaites White Bull in Alston, near Longridge. The pub has reopened after a £70,000 joint investment between Thwaites and Coward. 

Soho House plans four openings: Private members club Soho House has openings in Barcelona, Istanbul, Mumbai and Toronto lined up before the end of 2014. Another opening in Chicago is planned. The company is expected to report turnover up 32 per cent in the year to January 2012, with profit before tax up 16 per cent to £18m. 

Pair plan Odyssey nightclub for Plymouth: Businessmen Ashley Fletcher and Scott Maidmen have lodged a planning application to re-open the former Millennium nightclub in Plymouth’s Union Street as a new venue called Odyssey. The pair intend to include two cocktail rooms, a cider lounge and a main bar area in the club, to be called Odyssey. An area which was known as Sgt Peppers will also become a sit-down cafe open "day and night". The application will be decided be councilors tomorrow.

Enterprise Inns raises £4m at auction: Enterprise has raised £4,010,000 at an Allsops auction by selling three freeholds subject to free-of-tie leases – the money raised is well over the anticipated £3,250,000. The additional money is thanks largely to the Dysart gastro-pub on Petersham Road, Richmond-upon-Thames, selling for £1.5m, way above its guide price of £850,00 to £900,000. The pub is let to Reylink on a rent of £56,500 per annum and the buyer earns a return of 3.73 per cent on their investment. The Prophecy on Wimbledon’s Broadway, used as a private members’ club, sold for £1.06m – it had a guide price of £1m to £1.1m. The pub is let to Raw Scott on a rent of £79,758 per annum and the buyer earns a return of 7.55 per cent on their investment. Bluebells on Sunningdale’s London Road, sold for £1.45m, well above its guide price of £1.15m to £1.25m. The pub is let to Gallanbur on a current rent of £87,359 per annum and the buyer earns a six per cent yield. The sales are consistent with earlier auction freehold disposals where a free-of-tie lease is in place. 

Ennismore Capital buys Hoxton Hotel: Boutique investment company Ennismore Capital has acquired Shoreditch hotel The Hoxton, which was founded six years ago by Pret A Manger boss Sinclair Beacham. The Times reports that plans to roll out The Hoxton as a chain are likely to be revived.

Brewdog reports strong 2011: Brewer and retailer Brewdog has reported a pre-tax profit of £424,101 for the year ended 31 December 2011 - almost 100 per cent more than the £221,571 it reported the year before. Turnover climbed to £5,918,508 from £3,331,717 in 2010. The company stated: “2011 was a great year for our young business. We opened three new craft beer bars, almost doubled our turnover, opened up new export markets, added great new people to the team and remained solidly profitable. In addition our Equity for Punks II fundraising was a huge success as we welcomed over 5,000 new shareholders and raised over £2m to help us further grow our business. In 2011 we also purchased the land and started the planning process for our new brewery which should be operational by late 2012 giving us much needed additional production capacity to help us keep up with the global demand for our craft beers. However, this is just the beginning for BrewDog. We are determined to completely redefine the beer drinking culture in the UK showing beer drinkers there is an alternative to the tasteless and mass-produced fizzy yellow beers that dominate the UK market.

Punch lists three SIBA beers: Cask ales from three local brewers are going on sale in up to 1,000 Punch Taverns in time for the Diamond Jubilee Bank Holiday and Euro 2012 tournament, following their success in the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) National Beer Competition earlier this year. The three brews being offered to Jubilee revellers and football spectators are: Oakham Ales’ Citra, Lemon Dream from Salopian Brewery in Shrewsbury and Hill Climb from Cheltenham-based Prescott Brewery. All are included in Punch’s Finest Cask guest ale scheme, which features 18 ‘Award winning British Beers’ during May and June.

Barber to open brasserie version of Hush: Restaurateur Jamie Barber has raised additional cash from a number of his existing investors to open a brasserie variant of his Hush restaurant - at a site in High Holborn. Barber’s other brand Cabana, which focuses on Brazilian street food, has two London sites and has now raised a total of £4 million from investors. He said: “London is buoyant if the restaurant offer is right. People want good value, whether it is £10 or £50 a head.” Barber opened Hush in 1999 and has also founded chains Kitchen Italia and Villandry.

Tribeca goes multi-site: Tribeca Bar and Pizzeria has unveiled plans to open a second site in Liverpool this week. Located near Penny Lane in south Liverpool, the 226sq m restaurant aims to recreate the informal neighbourhood feel of its sister site Tribeca Berry Street, which opened two years ago. The menu will feature gourmet pizzas, salads and homemade cheesecakes, and the team will launch 'Tribeca Breakfast Club', which will offer breakfasts on weekend mornings.

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