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Wed 4th Jul 2012 - New Pub Company, Antic and St Austell

Story of the day:

Official Olympics poster offered to pubs – but not restaurants and “chains”: Two posters that pubs, bars and hotels can use to advertise that they are showing the Olympic Games have been produced by The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG). The rules allow businesses to download the two posters - one for the Olympic Games and one for the Paralympic Games - as “the only ways in which businesses may advertise the screenings”. The LOCOG website states: “These posters are not for use by restaurants (and by that we mean establishments primarily serving food) and are not available to establishments which are part of a chain/franchise business which has multiple locations identified under the same name/brand.” LOCOG added: “Our approach to screening the Games reflects the key principles we apply to carrying out our obligations to protect the rights of our partners. Although we have no desire to dampen public enthusiasm and we always seek to act in a proportionate and sensible way, we are tough on commercial abuse and will not hesitate to take action to address ambush and infringement. Our previous guidance has consistently followed these principles. We take this opportunity to point out that of course none of our guidance should be read as condoning the use of Games references (whether factual or not) in advertising by restaurants or other businesses in sectors directly competitive to our partners, to promote unauthorised association with the Games for commercial advantage.” Other conditions include: only one poster may be displayed per public entrance to the premises at any one time; posters must be taken down with 24 hours of the games finishing; posters must be A3 size; viewing of the games at venues can’t be advertised in any other advertising, including TV, newspaper, print, websites or other media. The poster can de downloaded from LOCOG here: http://www.london2012.com/about-us/our-brand/watch-the-games-here-poster/

Propel Opinion: LOCOG has consistently left a bad taste with its restrictive rules on association with the games in the name of protecting the commercial rights of its sponsors. Its Olympic posters are poorly designed and generally less than inspiring. And extraordinarily it has excluded restaurants and chains from using the poster. 

Industry news:

Court of Appeal backs status quo on Budweiser: The Court of Appeal has upheld the status quo over the use of the name Budweiser in the UK. Both Budweiser Czech brewer Budvar and Anheuser-Busch had been given permission to register the “Budweiser” trade mark in 2000, given their history co-existence in the UK market – yesterday the Court of Appeal confirmed the decision.

Economic secretary to the treasury – beer duty escalator “necessary”: MP Chloe Smith, economic secretary to the Treasury, has defended the beer duty escalator. She told the House of Commons during the adjournment debate on the escalator: “The duty increases that we are talking about — the increases through to 2014-15 — form a vital part of the government’s plan to tackle the debt left by the previous government. It would be worse for everybody if we did not tackle that debt. When I say ‘everybody’, I mean beer drinkers, cider drinkers, spirit drinkers, wine drinkers, brewers, publicans and, of course, all those who never touch a drop. The high interest rates that would result if we abandoned our credible plan to tackle the deficit would not help anybody.”

UK workers taking less time for lunch: A survey of 1,000 people by cheese spread Primula has found 58 per cent of those working full-time or part-time eat lunch at their desk by themselves, taking less than 30 minutes a day to enjoy it. A fifth of respondents - 20 per cent - in full-time employment also stated that they spent less time at lunch than they did 12 months before. Craig Brooks, marketing director for Primula, said: “As a nation we appear to be working increasingly longer and more demanding hours, whilst trying to cram in lunch on the go, so people are looking for convenient options that offer real value for money.” 

Mintel finds traditional breakfast in decline: Fewer than one in ten now eat a cooked breakfast compared with one in five in 1972. Only one in ten go to work on an egg today while 40 years ago three in ten had an egg first thing in the morning. The research to chart changing British tastes by Mintel found one in five adults start the day with healthier options like fruit juice and a banana rather then a fry up. Mintel spokesperson Alexandra Richmond said: “A shortage of time, and the increased availability of healthier breakfast options explain the decline in popularity of the great British fry-up, which has not changed much over the past 40 years - but could potentially make a come-back if we can find ways to make it healthier.”

Anand reiterates support for minimum pricing in The Scotsman interview: Greene King chief executive Rooney Anand has reiterated his support for minimum pricing in an interview with The Scotsman. He told the newspaper: “Alcohol is a valued part of everyday life. Most people consume it sensibly and there’s no need to punish everybody unnecessarily, but equally there is a segment of the population that has been trained to drink more than they might have done if it wasn’t as cheap. We support Downing Street’s position on minimum pricing, but if you’re going to set one it needs to be not so high that it’s punitive for the responsible majority, but it needs to be high enough to curb the behaviour of those who are sadly giving alcohol a bad name.”

Company news:

Kurnia down to a single outlet: Kurnia, the Lincolnshire-based company headed by Michael Kheng, is down to a single site in Lincoln after agent Fleurets found tenants for its three sites in Mablethorpe. Kheng is focused on growing his consultancy business, Kurnia Licensing Consultants, which has grown to over 400 clients since it was founded. Kheng said: “We have created new leases to suit a tenant so as to retain the freeholds within my company's existing rental portfolio, made up of a mix of retail and residential units in Lincolnshire. Fleurets has done exceptional work in finding quality tenants for these businesses. Eight years ago, I started up Kurnia Licensing Consultants and what started as a hobby, where I wanted a couple of dozen clients, has grown to over 400 clients throughout England and most of my time is now spent on the consultancy side. Current changes in legislation will see the consultancy requiring more of my time.” Meanwhile, the leasehold interest in the company's remaining restaurant and bar, Cloud Bar, in the trendy uphill area of Lincoln, is on the market for £160,000. The turnover last year for the 259 square metres, two-floor contemporary bar and restaurant was £420,314 excluding VAT. The property has a 24-hour licence. Cloud Bar is on the market through Fleurets.

New Pub Company set to hit £1m site Ebitda: New Pub Company, the operator of seven Scottish & Newcastle Pub Company tied leased pubs in the south-east led by Peter Linacre, has reported that site Ebitda is set to exceed £1m on annual turnover of around £6m in the current financial year. The company, whose Camden Eye venue is run by current BII Licensee of the Year Mahdis Neghabian, has forecast that Ebitda will hit £1.5m in the next 18 to 24 months as turnover grows to £7.1m on the back of further investment. The company has ear-marked investment for four of its sites. A project to develop the ground floor and basement of The Camden Eye completes early next month. A function room project is planned for The Glasshouse, New Malden, with a completion date of October this year while The Hare and Hounds, Claygate, Surrey, will be developed early next year. The Cricketers, Hartley Wintney, Hampshire, will see development that will be completed by March 2014. The company, which is debt-free, is expected to extend its current 25-year leases with S&NPC to 35 years shortly. Rent is currently running at less that eight per cent of turnover with the next rent review in 2015. Managing director Peter Linacre said: “All our development plans to date have been funded from free cash flow and there are four ongoing projects that will further underpin growth in the next few years.”

Antic plans three summer openings: Antic Pub Company, the London pub operator, is planning to open three more pubs during the summer to take the estate size to just short of 30. Openings planned over the next two months are: The Bohemia, a former O’Neill’s in North Finchley, the conversion of The Redback pub in Acton to The Acton Arms and The Graveney & Meadow in Tooting Broadway, a bakery project that offers cakes and coffee in a café environment with alcohol where Antic is involved on a “collaborative basis”.

Jack – Wetherspoon expansion paying for tax and cost increases: Numis Securities analyst Douglas Jack has issued a “Hold” recommendation on Wetherspoon shares ahead of next Wednesday’s trading update. He said: “Wetherspoon’s market positioning remains compromised by tax increases. Its entire tax bill in 2012 (including VAT, excise duty, corporation and other taxes) is expected to increase by £50m to circa £500m. With profit before tax remaining static, all the upside from expansion is being taken by tax and cost increases - marginal earnings per share growth is being generated by share buy backs and a lower corporation tax rate. Management has therefore cut expansion - to 25 from 50 new units in 2013 - creating greater firepower to buy back shares. We expect to hold our 2012 earnings forecasts, but fear there is downside risk to both our and consensus forecasts due to ongoing cost increases (hedged to September 2013, energy costs should rise by £1m next year). We forecast margins remaining at nine per cent in 2013, but there is a risk of margins falling further.”

St Austell re-opens site after £1.8m investment: Cornish brewer and retailer St Austell has re-opened The Three Crowns in Chagford, Devon, after a £1.8m refurbishment that took 18 months. The venue has 100 covers inside and 40 outside and St Austell is aiming for between £18,000 and £20,000 of food trade per week. The reopening comes hot on the heels of a similar restoration project undertaken by the brewery – the renovation of The Globe, a 16th Century coaching inn, in Exeter’s historic estuary town of Topsham, which reopened just last month. Adam Luck, estate director for St Austell Brewery, said: “After an extensive refurbishment programme we’re delighted to be able to re-open The Three Crowns having restored it to its former glory, albeit with a new twist and 21st Century comfort! Visitors can expect a very traditional inn experience, complete with a stylish, comfortable décor. When we bought The Three Crowns in 2009, we recognised its potential to be a jewel in our family of inns and hotels so to invest substantially and give it the aesthetic attention it required was a natural development.”

Britvic product withdrawal could cost up to £5m: The withdrawal by Britvic of Fruit Shoot drinks because of a faulty “magic cap” could cost the company between £1m and £5m. Britvic has insisted the move is a precautionary measure and that no one has been harmed or injured. But in a stock exchange announcement it said: “The potential financial impact of the recall is being analysed. At this very early stage it is anticipated that there will be a limited cost, estimated at between £1m and £5m, to profits before tax in the current financial year.”

Up-scale £1m all-you-can-eat restaurant opens in Manchester: An upscale all-you-can-eat buffet restaurant Tops has opened in Manchester’s Portland Street. The venue, on the site of the former Jumpin Jaks venue, features 300 dishes for customer to choose from and has 400 covers. Its main competitor in the city centre is Red Hot World Buffet on Blackfriars Street, off Deansgate. It prices all-you-can-eat at £7.99 for lunchtime, £13.99 during the week at dinner and £14.99 in the evenings on Friday and Saturday. It's £13.99 all day on Sunday. Kids up to three years old eat free and those under 150cm tall eat for half price. The restaurant offers Chinese, Indian, Italian and Japanese dishes.

Fluid Movement to open its first restaurant: Fluid Movement, the company that operates London cocktail bars Purl and Worship Street Whistling Shop, is to open its first restaurant. Dach & Sons will open in London’s Hampstead in September and will be a New York-inspired restaurant and cocktail bar serving hot dogs and sliders alongside craft beers and whiskies.

Fat Cat Bars – Northampton site will re-open in a year: Fat Cat Bars, the company headed by Matt Saunders, will re-open its fire destroyed Northampton site in a year’s time. The Fat Cat, in the Grade II-listed former Angel Hotel building, in Bridge Street, was forced to close following the New Year's Day fire. Matt Saunders, the managing director of Fat Cat, said following an agreement with insurers a timetable was now in place for repair and refurbishment. Saunders said: “We are half way through a 20-year lease so we will definitely be reopening. We would expect to be in within eight to nine months from now, which would give us three months for a refurbishment. It's a big rebuild, there was a lot of damage.”

Hall & Woodhouse invests £200,000 in training: Dorset based brewer and retailer Hall & Woodhouse has invested £200,000 in developing its people during the 2011/2012 financial year. With the launch of the Hall & Woodhouse Academy in 2011, as its centre for learning and development, the brewer has continued to push the importance of training, launching a number of initiatives aimed to drive excellence in its staff. Head of operations Chris Stagg said: “We have such a strong family ethos here at Hall & Woodhouse and this is reflected in the way we look after our people. We recognise the importance of training in running a successful business and take interest and pride in the development opportunities we offer our staff.”

New craft beer bar opens in Islington: A new craft beer bar, The North Pole, formally known as The North Star, has opened in Islington. The bar offers over 22 draught products and 30 bottled beers from independent suppliers in a contemporary pub environment that features a retro games room, two semi-private spaces and alfresco courtyard. Owing to its original premises as an off-licence and wholesalers, the pub provides a unique drinks take-away service in the form of four-pint jugs of draught ale and mixed bottle six-packs to enjoy at home. The venue is a project by James Morgan, who operates The Butcher and Barrel and Twickenham Taverns multi-site businesses, and Richard Craig.

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