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Fri 22nd Jun 2012 - Starbucks, Oakman Inns and Friday Opinion

Story of the day:

Operators report steady upswing in Father’s Day trade: A number of operators have reported that Father’s Day is gathering in trading importance. Chris Gerard, of six-strong Innventure, said: “Historically, Father’s Day has always been a quiet day compared to Mother’s Day. But we’ve noticed Father’s Day has been getting busier year-by-year. This year, there was a very extensive media campaign by moonpig.com and others in support of Father’s Day and on Sunday we saw a record number of dads being treated to a meal out. In the past we have seen a fraction of the number of people we see on Mother’s Day, when sales normally double compared to a normal Sunday. There is still a way to travel for Father’s Day to match the popularity of Mother’s Day but the gap is closing fast – and Father’s Day has become a landmark occasion in the way it wasn’t in the past.” Alex Reilley, managing director of café bar concept Loungers, said: “I would concur with the suggestion that Father’s Day is getting busier – it used to pass us by without a whimper. We saw busy trading on Sunday up until the early evening.” James Nye, managing director of Anglian Inns, said: “We were completely full-up on Sunday and turning people away. I think it’s becoming more of an institution. We had much more by way of pre-booked trade which would indicate it’s being regarded as an occasion.” Steve Haslam, of TLC Inns, said: “We were up against some big numbers on a like-for-like basis but we had a bit of weather on our side. The White Horse in Peterborough took £11,500 on the day compared to £11,000 last year. Father’s Day probably brings in about 25 per cent over and above a normal Sunday.”

Industry news:

Technomic names fastest growing menu items in the UK: Research firm Technomic has named the five fastest growing menu items in the UK based on research for its Menumonitor survey of 150 UK restaurant chains and independent operators. The top five, from one to five, in each category are: Starters: mixed vegetables, rice/risotto/Caesar salad, ribs/riblets and fish; Main dish: stew, build- your-own-sandwich, fusilli, fried rice, and lobster; Dessert: Triple/layered dessert, donut/beignet, yogurt/sherbet, speciality cookie and pancake/crepe; Beverages: Energy drink, mocktail, speciality tea, milk/chocolate milk and fruit smoothie. Technomic business development director David Wilkinson said: “Consumers and operators alike are struggling between wanting to ensure healthful preparations are available and demanding that foods taste delicious (and that choices shouldn’t be regulated by Parliament). Consumers still say they want healthy items more than they buy healthy items, but in some occasions they are seeking better-for-you dishes that don’t sacrifice flavour.”

Starbucks plans move into tea stores: Coffee giant Starbucks is set to open a Tazo tea store in its home town of Seattle this autumn. The move follows the opening of its first Evolution Fresh juice bar in a Seattle suburb in March and the move a fortnight ago to buy La Boulange bakery owner Bay Bread Group for $100 million in cash. Its planned Tazo store will sell more than 80 varieties of loose-leaf tea and other tea products. It will also offer hot and cold tea drinks, brewing equipment, pastries, packaged chocolates, infused sugars and honey, a spokeswoman said. Starbucks bought Tazo for $8.1 million in 1999 - it is now a $1.4 billion brand for the company. It sells Tazo products through its own shops and the grocery aisles of many retailers.

Pubs most valued amenity in Wales: New research from Santander Business Banking found that for over half (55 per cent) of people, the pub is their most valued local amenity. Indeed, the pub is more valued in Wales than anywhere else in the UK (national average 47 per cent). It is followed by the newsagent (46 per cent) and grocers (43 per cent). The study of more than 2,000 people also revealed the local business environment is evolving to meet the changing requirements of communities across the country. Traditional amenities, such as bakers, butchers and grocers, are increasingly being joined by new ones: nearly three quarters of Welsh people (72 per cent) now live within walking distance of a coffee shop, more than anywhere else in the UK.

Interest rate swap deals criticised by MPs: A debate in the House of Commons yesterday criticised banks for selling interest rate swaps to up to 300,000 small firms. Several MPs who are former bankers and accountants admitted that even they had no idea how they actually worked. Guto Bebb, a Tory MP who organised the debate, said one of his constituents was told he had an exit fee of £9,000 – three years later it had jumped to £135,000. The Daily Mail this morning highlights the case of multi-site pub company Sarumdale which went into administration last week. The company was forced by Barclays into a hedge on interest rates as a condition of a £8m loan that cost it £29,000 a month in extra payments on the hedge on top of £50,000 a month in capital and interest repayments. One MP yesterday dubbed the interest rate swap deals sold by the banks the “new PPI”.

Workers who are sick on holiday entitled to extra holiday: The European Court ruled yesterday that staff who are sick on holiday are entitled to extra holiday to replace the days they were incapacitated. Employer groups complained the ruling would add burdens to businesses “which at this time they can ill afford”. 

Judges praise Tim Brooke-Webb: The judges who awarded Tim Brooke-Webb Publisher of the Year in Wednesday night’s prestigious Professional Publishers Association awards have provided detail on the reasons he won. Of Brooke-Webb’s oversight of industry journal Publican’s Morning Advertiser, they said: “Tim’s strategy for turning around a failing title has been outstanding. By strengthening the business in all areas he has made sure this brand will be here for many years to come.”

Company news:

JD Wetherspoon plans to add 20 bedrooms to proposed Whitby site: JD Wetherspoon has submitted a planning application to refurbish The New Angel Inn on Whitby’s New Quay Road – and add 20 bedrooms. The restored New Angel Inn will include two bars, an extended hotel and a pavement cafe. There will be significant internal remodelling, including the creation of 20 extra hotel rooms on the building’s third and fourth floors, known previously as Laughton’s nightclub. At the site of a currently derelict burger bar there will also be a pavement cafe.

Oakman Inns to create bakery at Tring site: Oakman Inns, the award-winning multiple headed by Peter Borg-Neal, is to create a bakery in the premises next to its Akeman business in Tring, Herfordshire. Work is expected to start at the end of the summer on a £250,000 investment to create the bakery, which will produce fresh bread and cakes. Said Borg-Neal: “We want to create a flow through the two businesses so customers can pick up their fresh bread and come through and have coffee.” The Akeman won an award for Best Design at the Publican awards in 2009.

Bath Ales pilots new kitchen video technology: Bath Ales is piloting an video screen solution, from Intelligent Business Systems, that controls the path of food orders through busy periods. “This is a really smart business tool that not only improves the guest experience but also shows the service levels achieved by staff. The Bath Ales team at Graze has extended its use beyond the kitchen installing a screen in the service area so waiting staff can chart the progress of orders too,” said IBS commercial director, Dee Powell. Said Bath Ales retail operations manager Robin Couling: “Our EPOS systems already give us a great insight into our business – and the addition of kitchen video technology adds great value. Staff are responding very positively to the screens as they help them do their jobs more effectively.” 

Analyst Collyer provides takings estimates for Greene King brands: Deutsche Bank analyst Geof Collyer has provided estimates for average per site takings at major Greene King brands. He estimates: Hungry Horse’s 180 sites take an average of £988,000 per annum each (or £19,000 per week each); Old English Inns’ 114 venues take an average of £936,000 (or £18,000 a week each); the 42 Loch Fyne restaurants take an average of £1,352,000 per annum each (or £26,000 per week); the 37 Eating Inn sites take an average of £936,000 each (or £18,000 per week) and its 12 Cloverleaf restaurants take £2,213,250 each (or £42,562 each). 

Pod plans three new openings: Pod, the healthy eating chain founded in 2005 by Tim Hall which prices main course meals at £5, is planning three new openings in London – it is opening sites in Gracechurch Street, Lombard Street and Leather Lane. It has recently opened sites in Queen Victoria Street, Monument and Great Eastern Street, Islington to take estate size to 20. Every Pod is built from sustainable or recycled materials.

Mitchells & Butlers Browns freehold on the market for £2.6m: The freehold of a site on Myers Street in central Manchester occupied by Mitchells & Butlers brand Browns on the ground floor is on the market for £2.6m. M&B pays a rent of £135,000 per annum with a law firm upstairs paying a further £135,000. The site is on the market through GVA.

Southwold blocks Costa Coffee plan: A plan to open a Costa Coffee in Southwold, Suffolk has been blocked by councillors. John Perkins, secretary of the Southwold and Reydon Society, said: “Had this gone through it would have been a tipping point, it would have led to a flood of High Street chains saying let's open up in Southwold, apply for a change of use and start selling sandwiches and pies.” The decision to reject the application was made in the belief the coffee shop would be detrimental to the “viability and vitality” of the town centre where they are 20 coffee shops already.

Chef to open landmark Manchester restaurant: Chef Frank Bordoni, who has appeared on Saturday Kitchen, is to open a landmark new restaurant and cocktail bar in Manchester. The venue, to open on 6 July, will be set within the new National Football Museum and occupies a site on the top floor of the Urbis building. The restaurant will be called Kaleido and opens the same day as the National Football Museum. Kaleido 'will serve British cuisine using the local produce, plus influences from across the globe'. Bordoni said: “This is a stunning Manchester landmark building and we are delighted to be part of what is set to be a fantastic attraction not just for the city, but for the UK.”

Love Coffee opens in Stratford: Love Coffee, the successful coffee chain with 18 stores across the UK, has taken its first London premises at Stratford International through Davis Coffer Lyons on behalf of landlords High Speed 1 Ltd (HS1). The operator, which took over 13 BB's Coffee & Muffins stores in 2009, has taken a ten-year lease at Unit B within Stratford International, comprising 1,263 sq ft. It will become the first coffee outlet at the station when it opens in time for the London Olympics next month. Alice Keown, associate director within Davis Coffer Lyons’ development leasing team, said, “This summer, Stratford International will play a crucial role in supporting the high volumes of visitors to the Olympic Park and we are really pleased that Love Coffee is enhancing the offer available to travellers. Having taken over much of the BB's franchise and substantially grown its own portfolio, Love Coffee is certainly a brand to watch as the UK’s coffee market continues to increase its dominance in the leisure sector.”

Red Hot World Buffet & Bar invests £250,000 to create Manchester flagship: The seven-strong Red Hot World Buffet restaurant chain has invested £250,000 to expand its Manchester venue, which it plans to make its flagship. It has added 10,000 square foot of space where it has created five booths for private and corporate events and 150 more covers, taking capacity to 500. The group will also use part of the additional space for in-house training and accommodation for staff. The Manchester outlet opened in 2011. Director Parmjit Dhaliwal said: “There has been a demand from the corporate sector for meetings and events but, as the main restaurant space is open-plan, there was no room to facilitate this. We see Manchester fast-becoming our flagship branch and it was important to invest in adding space.”

Rainforest Café starts green tour: London’s Rainforest Café, operated under franchise by Glendola Leisure, is launching a new green initiative – an educational tour. A trained safari guide will show school groups around the venue, stopping at key places to present interesting facts and stories about the environment, rainforests, and the various animals encountered on the tour, as well as discussing the importance of conservation. By paying to take part in the tour, each participant actively saves 80 square metres of rainforest through a land purchase scheme in conjunction with the World Land Trust.

Panera Bread opens fourth pay-what-you-want site: Panera Bread, the 1,600-strong US market-leading bakery café concept, has opened its fourth Panera Cares site where customers pay what they feel is appropriate – there is a donation box on site. The venues – the fourth has opened in Chicago - has no cash registers and no posted prices. Instead, customers pay what they can as a donation or volunteer for an hour to eat for free if they can't pay anything. Ron Schaich, founder and President of the Panera Bread Foundation, said: “The vision of Panera Cares is to use Panera’s unique restaurant skills to address real societal needs and make a direct impact in communities,” Schaich said in a statement. Other Panera Cares locations in Missouri, Michigan and Oregon have proven to be successful, even turning a profit since opening two years ago.

Friday Opinion:

Subjects: The female touch, alcohol pricing
Authors: Paul Chase, Ann Elliott

Alcohol pricing and the cultural landscape by Paul Chase: Earlier this month Professor Sir Ian Gilmour told the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health that “Price changes culture”. Now, I do think that Gilmour is a man who should be listened to, but not uncritically. He’s a liver doctor, not the Professor of Everything. But parliamentarians are clearly impressed by white coats and stethoscopes, so the assumption appears to be that if you understand liver function then understanding how a drinking culture functions should be a doddle. I mean, why do we even need social scientists when medical doctors know it all? The implication of Gilmour’s, and of the Alcohol Health Alliance’s support for minimum pricing and the duty-escalator is that alcohol is relatively cheaper than it was 10 or 20 years ago. This is used to justify government action in intervening with minimum pricing and a duty-escalator to correct this “market failure”. This is also the view held by John Appleby, Chief Economist, Health Policy for The Kings Fund. The instrument he uses to demonstrate this is the ‘Affordability of Alcohol Index’ published by the NHS Information Centre (NHSIC). In an article published online in the British Medical Journal he cites this index to show that alcohol is more affordable than it was 30 years ago. But price and affordability are not the same thing. As the same NHS index makes clear, in the period from 1980 to the present, the price of alcohol rose by 23 per cent more than retail prices as a whole. So, actually, alcohol across the board, in real terms, is more expensive than ever before, notwithstanding examples of cheap supermarket booze. Saying that alcohol is nevertheless more affordable than 30 years ago is merely a way of saying that peoples’ disposable incomes have risen. Rising disposable income is a consequence of economic growth. When the economy grows, and wage inflation rises faster than price inflation, then people have more disposable income and everything, not just alcohol, becomes more affordable. But until very recently the NHSIC index calculated “affordability” in a rather strange way. They calculated it on the basis of gross disposable income, not gross disposable income per head. So this calculated not how much alcohol the average individual could afford to buy, but how much the entire country could afford – so, even if disposable income remains static, as population increases, so does the “affordability” of alcohol. Whoops! Activist medics are seeking to persuade the government that a 40p minimum unit price is too low. They claim, on the basis of a theoretical mathematical model, that whilst a 40p minimum price will save 1,100 lives a year, a 50p minimum price will double that benefit – and within the first year – so no “lagging indicators”. As I’ve argued elsewhere, the notion that there is a direct causal connection between price and alcohol-harms has been confounded in recent years by the fact that alcohol-related hospital admissions continue to rise despite the fact the alcohol consumption is falling. Hardly a month goes by without another tenet of the medical temperance case being exposed as a statistical sham. And yet the rational case for a targeted approach to reducing alcohol-related harms barely gets a hearing in the press or tele-visual media. It is crowded out by a medical temperance propaganda machine that remorselessly rehearses old arguments and distorted statistics to suppress the mass market for alcohol.
Paul Chase is director and head of UK Compliance at CPL Training


Where are the women by Ann Elliott: Earlier this week I was a guest of Brian Wisdom’s at The Women 1st Top 100 Club and Shine Awards 2012 dinner (which is actually the top 130 club now as another 30 joined this week). I am very fortunate to be on the list with such fabulous women as Angela Hartnett, Delia Smith, Helene Darroze, Julia Hands and Sara Jayne Stanes – it feels an honour to be included in that group of outstanding women. Lots of wonderful women were at the dinner including teams from Mitchells & Butlers, Whitbread and Spirit. The top 130 list included three female pub and bar operators - Jillian Maclean, Lynne D’Arcy and Jackie Cupper - whilst restaurant operators included Helen Jones, Jill Stein, Juliet Joffe, Ruth Rogers and Jill McDonald. It has to be said, though, that were lots of women there in other roles from our sector, including HR, Finance and IT, which was hugely encouraging. It was a great evening. The M&C Report Diary, I read, was intrigued to hear that the Awards were arranged on the evening of England’s crunch match against Ukraine. For those that missed it, It stated: “As an enlightened chap, Diary wouldn’t dare suggest that only a bunch of women would organise an awards ceremony to coincide with the national football team’s finest hour for several years. Diary’s female spy spotted a few token men in the hall, checking their iPhones every few minutes.” Stereotyping just a bit here guys?! I think so. If Diary was a bit more observant it would have seen Brigid Simmonds, amongst many women, also checking their phones for the score! Four of my team also attended the Women 1st conference during the day and found it a truly uplifting and engaging experience with workshops, presentations and interactive sessions tailored to women. Women 1st are involved in training, mentoring and helping women to lead in order to fulfil their career aspirations and any operator, wanting to bring out the best in their female employees, should be involved. The Women’s Foodservice forum in the US, strongly supported by the wonderful Tony Hughes, is another great example of women mentoring women. So with all this help why aren’t there more women running pub or restaurant groups? Where they are involved like Becky Salisbury, Jo Clevely, Jo Drain, Jo Cumming, Jo Eames or Karen Jones, they seem to bring a different dimension to how those pub companies operate. They seem to understand the female take on pub and restaurant life. Just look at their pubs – female-friendly, warm and welcoming. Mitchells & Butlers, when they had a number of female operators, also seemed to ‘get it’. I once ran a research programme for a client who wanted to understand what women wanted in pubs – and I can understand why they wanted to do it. After our research presentation, they changed an awful lot in terms of their interior décor, their ambiance, food presentation, menu copy and their hospitality. As a result they saw double digit like-for-like sales growth. I suspect those pub and restaurant companies who have women directors in their top jobs don’t need to commission that type of research, they just instinctively know. I don’t honestly know why more women don’t run pub groups. It’s a hard job if you have children (and you do need a ‘wife’ at home) but then that’s the same for any sector. It’s long hours - ditto. It’s male dominated - but that applies to many other sectors too. You need strong leadership and emotional intelligence skills, which I think women have in spades. Perhaps more role models and female mentors will help but I suspect it might be a bit of a long, hard slog.
Ann Elliott is chief executive of Elliott PR & Marketing

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