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Tue 7th Aug 2012 - Nando’s, Costa Coffee and St Austell

Story of the day:

Nando’s saves £600,000 on rates at two sites: Chicken restaurant chain Nando’s has had its business rates bill slashed by almost £600,000 over five years at two restaurants. The rateable value for the Nando’s restaurant at The Fort in Birmingham has been slashed from £213,000 to £103,000 a year. At the Nando’s in One New Change (St Pauls) in the City of London, the rateable value has more than halved from £287,500 to £126,000. The actual rate payable is approximately 45 pence in the pound, which means the annual rates payable for each restaurant has been massively reduced. Anthony Alder, of agent AG&G, which represented Nando’s, said: “One New Change opened with great expectations in October 2010 and this was reflected in the exuberant values placed on the entire scheme by the valuation officer of the Inland Revenue. After extensive consultation, the valuation officer has now realised that these values were excessive and has agreed to reduce the values across the scheme. Elsewhere, tough trading conditions and authorities determined to raise every possible penny make rating challenges very topical. Business rates are a major overhead for any business and need to be contained. This shows that specialist advice and support can lead to substantial savings and make the effort of a challenge well worthwhile.”

Industry news:

The Sun reports again on industry VAT campaign: The industry campaign to reduce VAT to five per cent, led by Jacques Borel, has caught the attention of The Sun newspaper again. It reported on its business page: “An Olympics sponsor is urging the Chancellor to slash VAT on food and drink to just five per cent. Heineken signed up to a campaign calling for action, claiming a cut would give a boost to the pub trade. Lawson Mountstevens, Heineken UK pubs chief, said: “We are committed to the Great British pub.” The push is being led by veteran French tax campaigner Jacques Borel. He told The Sun in March the Chancellor could create 300,000 jobs by slashing VAT in the hospitality trade.”

Andrew Bourne defends decision to redevelop The Cross Keys, Chelsea: Businessman Andrew Bourne has defended his decision to close The Cross Keys in Chelsea and apply to turn it into a house with a basement swimming pool – estimated to be worth £10m. He bought the pub for £3.1 million from Scottish & Newcastle and invested a further £1m refurbishing it. He then employed a Michelin-starred chef but lost money for three years. He told The Daily Telegraph: “Drinking culture has changed. People can go to Starbucks and Costa instead.” He reports that the pub had been offered it to a number of operators, all of whom turned it down. “I should have shut The Cross Keys a year ago,” he says. “Do I owe it to the community to keep losing money?” But Simon Clarke, a chartered surveyor, claimed £3.1 million was an inflated price that possibly factored in “hope value” for a future redevelopment of the building. Camra’s Jonathan Mail said: “Pubs in vibrant areas are profitable but if someone overpays initially, the figures aren’t going to stack up.”

Operators invited to take part in Olympics survey: Pub, restaurant and foodservice operators are being invited to take part in the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers’ (ALMR) survey on how the Olympics has affected trade. The survey takes five minutes to complete and all responses will be treated anonymously. ALMR chief executive Nick Bish said: “It’s important to build a picture of how operators have fared so that we can react accordingly. Our survey takes just takes five minutes to complete.” The link to the survey is: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/R7R5GGQ

Company news:

Greggs opens artisan breads shop: Greggs, which operates 1,600 bakery shops in the UK, has opened its first Greggs the Bakery shop in Newcastle upon Tyne, giving customers a more traditional baker’s shop experience, offering 75 new lines including a wide range of artisan breads and “made to order” sandwiches alongside its best-loved products. There are also four “Greggs moment” coffee shops trading and a fifth shop opening this Thursday (9 August) in Gateshead. Elsewhere, the company reported the market remained challenging and was particularly impacted by the record levels of rainfall in the second quarter with UK High Street footfall down over seven per cent. Greggs like-for-like sales fell by 3.5 per cent in the second quarter and by 2.3 per cent in the first half overall. Sales were up 4.5 per cent to £350m in the 26 weeks ended 30 June. The company plans 90 new shops this year, with 39 opened in the first half and six closed.

Totnes, Devon loses No Costa battle: Totnes in Devon has lost a battle to block Costa Coffee from opening in the town. The genteel Devon town took the same approach as Southwold in Suffolk and Bakewell in Derbyshire in trying to prevent an opening. A campaign group, No To Costa, staged a protest march in support of the 30 independent coffee shops in the historic Devon town and gathered 5,500 signatures opposing Costa's plans to expand into Fore Street. But South Hams District Council approved the application. In Southwold, a re-submitted application by Costa Coffee has met with 500 objections and seven letters of support – the first application had just 87 objections. Posters have been stuck up in the town calling for the plans to be thrown out under planning policy CS10, which stresses the importance of protecting existing “retail, leisure and office facilities to ensure continued vitality and viability”. Meanwhile, both Costa Coffee and McDonald’s have had a plan to open drive-thru restaurants on a site of a fire-ravaged Indian restaurant next to the A428 at Caxton Gibbet, South Cambridgeshire, closed since 2009, turned down – on design grounds. Coun Robert Turner said: “We were quite happy with seeing restaurants on that site, even to see fast food outlets like McDonald’s and Costa, but the design was completely out of keeping for South Cambridgeshire and that part of the district. We had hoped for a modern design that would be a beacon for South Cambridgeshire but the designs were really 1970s and McDonald’s can do far better.”

Estates Gazette - Norcross buys Enterprise freehold: Estates Gazette has reported that 'The Only Way is Essex' star Mick Norcross has been successful in buying the Enterprise Inns freehold of The Sugar Hut nightclub and restaurant he operates in Brentwood, Essex. The property, which is let to Norcross on a lease expiring in 2025, was being sold with a guide of £1.3m to £1.4m. Norcross, who pays a rent £72,000 per annum, secured the property for £1.3m.

Boston Spa businessmen propose “premium small hotel” to thwart Tesco: A group of Boston Spa residents are proposing a premium hotel bar and restaurant plan for an Enterprise Inns hotel being eyed by Tesco. A group of eight local businessmen have made a formal approach to Enterprise Inns, which owns The Crown Hotel. An application had been sent to Leeds City Council to convert The Crown Hotel into a small convenience store by supermarket giant Tesco. Spokesman for the local businessmen Paul Martin said: “We strongly feel that the village needs to retain its only hotel and we can raise the funds necessary to create a thriving hotel, restaurant and bar.”

Orchid closes The Organ and Dragon in Ewell: The Organ and Dragon in Ewell, a Thai restaurant and English pub operated by Orchid Pub Company, has closed. A spokeswoman for pub company Orchid Group, which leased the pub from the owners, Punch Taverns, confirmed that its leasehold had reverted back to the company.

Harrison – there will be hundreds of Premier Inns in the Middle East and India: Whitbread chief executive Andy Harrison has forecast that its Premier Inn brand will grow internationally to several hundred sites, with India a big target. He told The Financial Times: “There will be hundreds of Premier Inns internationally – we need to have an economy of scale. There is a steady shift from independent (operators) towards brands (and) we are looking at growing the business internationally.” There are just four Premier Inns sites in the Middle East and two in India at the moment. “We target both international and domestic travellers but the big market will be when the domestic market grows. Low-cost airlines are growing fast in India and in ten years’ time there will be a big middle-class – it’s a long-term strategy.”

Hotel Du Vin director of wine and spirits leaves: The Hotel director of wine and spirits Ronan Sayburn MS is leaving to join the Dorchester Collection. He joins the company on 3 September and will focus on developing the wine lists at Dorcester’s three sites in London. Stephane Lafon is also joining the Dorchester Collection as director of food and beverage.

St Austell brewery boss become Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Cornwall: St Austell brewery boss James Staughton has become a Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Cornwall. Staughton is also a director of the Cornwall Development Company and chairman of the St Austell Bay Economic Forum. His voluntary work includes founding the Clean Cornwall initiative. Staughton has turned St Austell into the UK’s most profitable private family-owned brewer and retailer. Since 2007, turnover has increased from £85,9111,000 to £99,081,000 with pre-tax profit climbing from £8,448,000 to £10,304,000. The company has made a total of £44m of pre-tax profit in the past five years.

Hall & Woodhouse new development to be built out of shipping containers: A flagship Hall & Woodhouse development in Portishead marina is being built out of 130 shipping containers. The unique building is being constructed alongside a new Hall & Woodhouse pub and restaurant in the centre of the marina. The pub and restaurant is being built using a steel frame that will be covered in glass to create a light, bright, open space. Colin Wood, head of construction for Hall & Woodhouse, said: “This project is an important contribution to our vision to operate the most highly-regarded, pub-restaurant estate in the UK. Developing such a landmark building is a clear demonstration of our ambition and we believe that the building will be a draw to our guests in its own right. It will create a wonderful environment within which to enjoy the hospitality for which Hall & Woodhouse is renowned. The containers will not only look striking, but are an inventive solution that allows us the opportunity to add further floors to grow the business in the future, with minimal disruption to the existing operation and our neighbours.”

Free trade ale supplier launches new micro-brewery: Businessman Steve Lees, a director of leading East Sussex free trade ale supplier HT White, has launched a new micro-brewery, The Long Man Brewery, in partnership with farmer Duncan Ellis. The brewery, at a disused flint barn in Church Farm, Litlington, will be selling three ales: Long Blonde (3.8 per cent) described as light, golden and hoppy, the traditional Sussex Best Bitter (4 per cent) and Sussex Pride (4.5 per cent), a classic pale ale. Funding from the Wealden and Rother Rural Partnership (WARR) has helped to install a 20 brewer’s-barrel plant, powered by green energy from the farm’s recently installed photoelectric array. The ales are produced using malting barley grown on the farm. Duncan Ellis, brewery co-director, said: “This link enables the brewery to promote the increasingly important themes of traceability, home grown ingredients, and reduced food miles. At the end of the cycle, spent grain is returned to the farm, where it is used to feed the livestock, which further helps to boost our environmental credentials.”

Suffolk entrepreneur in £250,000 premiumisation of Greene King pub: Suffolk businessman Martin Russell is to transform The Tolgate in Bury St Edmund, a Greene King pub, into a premium restaurant, bar and grill, specialising in steaks and burgers. He said: “Our head chef Ben Fry has worked in Michelin Star restaurants, including The Dorchester. We will have a full gallery kitchen so people can watch their food cook, and outside is being completely landscaped. The whole pub will have a fresh open-plan, rustic feel.” Russell also runs The Linden Tree pub in Bury St Edmunds.

Cook & Garcia opens in Richmond: Former Aramark food development manager Richard Garcia has opened a new artisan food-to-go outlet in Richmond, with plans to expand across London and the south-east in the future. Cook & Garcia serves grab-and-go sandwiches, salads, pastries, muffins, cakes, soups, hot beverages and smoothies. Richard’s wife Janet said: “We are a cross between Carluccio's for the deli side, Pret a Manger with the grab-and-go sandwich offering, and Starbucks for our coffee.”

Glendola Leisure renews lease on flagship Waxy O’Connor: Glendola Leisure has renewed the lease on its flagship Waxy O’Connor’s site in Soho’s Rupert Street, which the company has operated since 1997. Agent for Glendola AG&G’s Anthony Alder said: “It’s a hugely successful and established business covering a lot of space in an expensive area. It is also a business with a huge amount of goodwill and has high overheads, so the rent has to be affordable. At the same time, the West End of London is experiencing huge demand for sites, with rental levels being buoyed by demand from international restaurant and bar operators. Despite evidence immediately across the road on a similar sized basement unit at almost £60 per sq ft, I was delighted to secure a rent at less than £40 per square foot on Waxy’s. This will help to maintain the long-term viability of this great business.”

Cirrus buys Marco Pierre White’s Yew Tree: Cirrus, the investment vehicle launched to back a premium estate of freehold pubs with rooms, has acquired The Yew Tree, a 17th Century Berkshire pub that was owned by Marco Pierre White and his former business partners. The Yew Tree in Highclere, near Newbury, instructed agent Davis Coffer Lyons (DCL) to sell the freehold property earlier in 2012. DCL sought freehold offers in excess of £1.65 million for the property, which was used to film Marco Pierre White’s 2008 series, Marco’s Great British Feast. Paul Tallentyre, director of pubs at DCL, said: “This is a excellent addition to Cirrus’s portfolio, and they have some great plans to modernise the premises. It is very pleasing to see that large freehold pubs in areas outside of London are still very much sought-after despite the current market conditions.” Cirrus Inns was co-founded by 333 Holdings founder Alex Langlands Pearse (Langy) and Mark Askew, former executive head chef at Gordon Ramsay Holdings.

PizzaExpress picks up Epping site: PizzaExpress has acquired the leasehold interest of 212 Epping High Street, a former retail unit in Epping, Essex after an A3 licence was obtained from Epping District Council. Davis Coffer Lyons acted on behalf of the vendors, Edgewest Epping Limited.

Compass takes foie gras off the menu: Compass, the UK’s biggest catering company, is to stop serving foie gras. Head of Compass UK Ian Sarson said: “Ethically, we feel strongly that we should not be sourcing this product.” 

Crumbs Bake Shop in tie-up with Starbucks: Crumbs Bake Shop, the US speciality cupcake retailer that has 51 sites, has unveiled a partnership with Starbucks that will see the full range of Starbucks brewed coffees, teas and espresso-based drinks sold at all Crumbs locations. “Starbucks coffee is perfectly suited for Crumbs cupcakes,” said Crumbs chief executive Julian Geiger. “We believe that the availability of Starbucks drinks in our stores will greatly enhance the Crumbs experience for our customers and significantly increase our beverage business. As our beverage business increases, we also expect to see an increase in the demand for our baked goods.”

Everards invests £380,000 in The Bulls Head, Ratby: Leicestershire brewer and retailer Everards has invested £380,000 in The Bull’s Head, Ratby. Major structural alterations undertaken include joining the front bar to the middle lounge and rear dining area creating a more open feel for customers to drink and dine. In turn there has been a new link at the rear of the pub to join to a brand new triple level decking area and beer garden. A refurbishment of the skittle alley has taken place with improvements made to the skittle alley court yard and side terrace. Everards managing director Stephen Gould said: “The Bulls Head project is one of our biggest refurbishment projects undertaken this year.”

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