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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Wed 22nd Aug 2012 - M&B, Heineken and Adnams

Story of the day:

Mitchells & Butlers insights and innovation director to leave: Ian Dunstall, insights and innovation director at Mitchells & Butlers (M&B), is to leave to set up his own consultancy after 16 years with the company. Dunstall has had an illustrious career at M&B. He worked as director of concept development for four years – he oversaw the creation of Miller & Carter and Village Pub and Kitchen. Dunstall also oversaw marketing for the company’s City and County channel for four years, leading a marketing team of 17. He became insight and innovation director in March this year, with responsibility for digital development and guest experience. One source told Morning Briefing: “Ian is very thoughtful and very smart – excellent at challenging the company in a constructive way.” A spokeswoman for M&B said: “Ian Dunstall has decided to leave M&B to set up his own consultancy. We wish Ian well in his new venture and thank him for the contribution he has made to the company over the years. Ian will officially leave M&B in mid-September. To ensure continuity, marketing director Simon Cope will be taking on additional responsibility for insight, innovation and digital following Ian's departure.” The departure of Dunstall comes as M&B still looks for a new chief executive some 17 months after the last full-time chief executive, Adam Fowle, left. The M&B search, according to company updates, has had three stages so far this year – “progress” at the start of the year, “good progress” a few months later and “continuing” at the most recent results. At one stage this year, M&B executive chairman Bob Ivell indicated it had a preferred candidate. But Deutsche Bank Geof Collyer has claimed that the search for a chief executive may be “going back to close to square one” after Novus chief executive Steve Richards, hotly tipped as the preferred candidate, decided to stay with the company in the wake of attracting new investors.

Industry news:

App is launched to help find quality beer in London: A new iPhone app, Craft Beer London, has been launched to help consumers find microbreweries in London and the shops and pubs selling their products. Craft Beer London, costing £1.99, includes reviews, maps and news. The App marketing literature promises: “Carefully curated, Craft Beer London ensures that you will never drink a bad pint again.” One early review states: “Very good app. Easy to use and provides sufficient information to let you seek out craft beer in London without overwhelming you with detail. Now we want one for the rest of the country!”

Pret A Manger director of food to speak at Lunch! event: Pret A Manger director of food Caroline Cromer will present on the company’s 25-year vision at the Lunch! Conference taking place at the Business Design Centre on 20 and 21 September. “Talking at Lunch! is a great opportunity to spark debate and conversation around some of the challenges we are all facing in the industry,” said Cromer. Richard Johnson will also be presenting on the ‘Street Food Revolution’. “The success of street food is about a change in Britain’s food culture,” he said. “We don’t want starter-main course-dessert any more. We want tapas and tasting plates. We want supper clubs and pop-up restaurants. We want a bit of fun served up with our dinner. And cafes, delis and food businesses everywhere would do well to understand that.”

Turkish diner beats top London restaurants on TripAdvisor: A family-owned Turkish diner in Lewisham has beaten a host of London’s most expensive restaurants in terms of customer satisfaction. Meze Mangal has been open for 12 years and ranks higher than The Ritz and Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley. The venue has a 95 per cent approval rating. Only six restaurants rank higher - Gordon Ramsay’s Petrus and Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, Brett Graham’s The Ledbury, Michael Roux’s La Gavroche, Da Palo’s in Charlotte Street and Mayfair’s Goodman steakhouse.

Walt Disney World closes “expensive” French restaurant: Walt Disney World in Florida is to close its expensive “Bistro de Paris” French restaurant in Epcot to make way for less formal but unnamed restaurant that will open by mid-December. Disney is also opening “Be Our Guest”, a Beauty and the Beast-themed restaurant built as part of the $425 million Fantasyland expansion. Be Our Guest will operate as a counter-service restaurant during the day but switch to higher-priced table service in the evenings.

High street brands were the Olympics winners: An analysis by Livebookings has found that high street branded restaurants saw a 23 per cent increase in like-for-like sales during the two weeks of the Olympics. The week before the Olympics started high street restaurant brands year-on-year sales were up eight per cent. Colin Tenwick, Livebookings chief executive, said: “What is encouraging is that on average London’s restaurants saw an increase in diners of six per cent during the two-week Olympics period but that the real winners were the high street branded restaurants - an impressive 23 per cent year-on-year growth.”

Gastro-pub pioneers vending machine that could revolutionise the milk industry: The Kingham Plough, a gastro-pub in West Oxfordshire, is trialing a scheme that could help dairy farmers chop out the middleman and sell directly to the public. The pub has installed a vending machine that dispenses milk outside its premises - it sells a bottle of Guernsey milk for £2 produced at nearby Nell’s Dairy, of Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire. Kingham Plough owner and chef Emily Watkins said: “It’s going really well. It’s totally different from your usual bog-standard milk. It’s really sweet. We use about 20 litres of it a week. We use it to make all of our desserts and ice cream, and I’ve just made my own clotted cream from it, too. Farmers have been caught out so badly over the years.”

First disposable income increase in two years: Families are £1 a week better off than they were a year ago, marking the strongest improvement in disposable incomes in more than two years, a study found yesterday. UK households had £151 a week left over after paying essential bills in July, the highest amount of discretionary income recorded in 16 months, following a “marginal” improvement in incomes recorded in June compared with a year earlier, Asda’s monthly study found.

Yum Brands opens 300th KFC in Chinese capital: Yum! Brands has opened its 300th Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise in Beijing, 25 years after entering the Chinese mainland market. The new KFC drive-through restaurant is located in a furniture mall along the fourth ring road in southern Beijing. There are no more than 3,800 KFC restaurants on the Chinese mainland.

Green Tea is new weapon against cancer: Scientists have found that a green tea extract dramatically shrinks cancers. Population studies have also shown that those who drink large amounts of green tea tend to have lower cancer rates.

Company news:

Heineken - minimum pricing will affect UK investment and employment: Heineken, the UK’s largest brewer, has submitted evidence to the heath select committee, arguing that “there is no evidence that minimum pricing will reduce harmful drinking—It assumes a link between price and reducing harm that is not supported by the evidence”. The company stated: “Minimum pricing will have an impact on UK investment and employment—there is uncertainty on the legality of minimum pricing and whether the policy will be implemented. This will have a significant impact on investment decisions in the UK market. By announcing minimum pricing without definitive legal advice, the government has put the industry in a position of uncertainty. This uncertainty will have an impact on investment decisions in the UK market. The brands most likely to be affected will be domestically produced beers and ciders—which are more likely to be sold in the UK market. As a business we tend to only import premium products, which attract a premium price. Domestically produced products support more jobs but are more reliant on UK demand and investment. We believe government should focus on targeted interventions for different types of alcohol misuse, be that under-age drinking, town centre disorder or long-term chronic drinking. Each problem is different and therefore the solution is different. International examples of the effects of marketing on alcohol consumption suggest that advertising does not have an effect on total consumption. For instance, Sweden introduced an advertising ban in 1979 and yet continues to have significant issues with immoderate consumption. Italy, by contrast, has far fewer marketing restrictions for alcohol yet does not suffer the same problems with irresponsible consumption as countries like Sweden.”

Adnams hits out at duty escalator; points out small brewer tax breaks exacerbated: Suffolk-based brewer and retailer Adnams has criticised the government for its “misguided duty escalator”. The company stated this morning: “Pubs are important employers and this policy has also imposed a cost on many of our unemployed younger generation who are being denied the jobs that they might otherwise have had in the hospitality industry. The duty escalator has also widened the differential between UK duties and those elsewhere and produced a predictable escalation of duty fraud, now estimated at £500m per annum. Rather than addressing the root cause of this type of fraud, the duty differential, the government has been looking into the costly imposition of duty stamps on bottles. The duty escalator has exacerbated another unfairness for medium sized brewers. The duty subsidy to microbrewers now rises to about £200,000 per annum per small brewer, hugely in excess of what is available in most other European countries or to other small firms in the UK.” The company reported a 5.5 per cent increase in operating profit to £857,000 in its first half year and a 5.1 per cent increase in turnover. The company added: “Making comments about the future seems particularly problematic in times such as these, but Adnams will continue to take a long term view and seek to build the trust and confidence of its stakeholders.”

YO! Sushi reports turnover up 15 per cent to £57.8m: Conveyor belt sushi firm YO! Sushi, owned by private equity firm Quilvest and headed by Robin Rowland, has reported that sales rose 15 per cent to £57.8m in the year to 27 November 2011 from £50.3m the year before. Ebitda was up by eight per cent to £8.8m. A total of six restaurants were opened in the UK and two closed due to landlord redevelopment, bringing the total number in the UK to 58. Two were opened and two were closed by franchise partners overseas to bring overseas sites to 11 locations. A total of a dozen sites are planned for this year, with the first US site opened in Washington DC and a second set to open in the city’s Chinatown area. The company’s Oslo Airport branch won the Best Self Service/Assisted Service award at the annual Airport Food and Beverage Awards run by the Foodie Report. In the year, YO! Sushi earned £57,187,153 in the UK (2010: £49,914,398) and £613,203 overseas (2010: £397,282). Directors’ remuneration dropped to £377,662 from £571,711 the year before.

Ember Inns follows Harvester, Crown Carveries and Toby Carvery in adding takeaway: Ember Inns has become the fourth major Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) brand to offer takeaway. M&B began to permit children to use Ember Inns sites earlier this year and is also offering the opportunity for kids up to the age of 12 to eat free from the kids menu at sites throughout August on presentation of a voucher downloadable from its website. The Ember Inns’ takeaway menu consists of six burgers, priced between £6.75 and £7.95, a choice of six sandwiches, priced between £4.25 and £5.95 with four “Ember favourites” – haddock & chips (£7.95), fish & chips (£6.50), scamp & chips (£6.25) and steak & Timothy Taylor ale pie (£6.75). Harvester was the first M&B brand to offer takeaway with sales currently averaging around two per cent of site turnover - M&B believes the sales are mainly incremental. The company is understood to have undertaken research on customer views on takeaway at Harvester prior to placing fresh emphasis on the takeaway offer in the autumn. Ember’s brand operations director, Martin Gosling said: “Around 90 per cent of our guests come from within a three kilometre radius of our pubs, which are generally surrounded by suburban housing estates. Our current food menu is priced competitively against many takeaway shops. So, by placing popular dishes on to a specific Ember takeaway menu, we’re creating yet another reason to visit.”

Five brands line up for Glasgow shopping centre extension: An eight-screen cinema and five new restaurants are to be added to one of Glasgow's largest shopping centres - a Vue cinema complex, TGI Friday’s , Pizza Express, Harvester, Chiquito and a Prezzo will open at the venue. The 45,000 square foot expansion is expected to create up to 200 new jobs at the Fort shopping centre, located off the M8 near Easterhouse. The £9m project will start next week with opening set for summer 2013.

Caffe Nero gets Devizes go-ahead despite starting work: Coffee shop chain Caffe Nero has been given planning consent to turn the former Currys electrical store in The Brittox, Devizes, into a coffee shop. The go-ahead came despite several councillors voicing anger that the company had started work on converting the building before planning permission had been granted. However, planning councillors accepted there was not a valid planning reason for turning the application down - and voted 4-3 in favour of granting permission.

Bristol based pub and hotel operator @ Leisure PRH takes Punch pub after £200,000 investment: Bristol-based hotel and pub operator @Leisure PRH, headed by Dave Deans, has taken over The Kings Head in Bedminster Down after a £200,000 co-investment. Changes have been made to give the pub a stronger focus on food, with a new split-level dining area and better access to the bar. @Leisure PRH also operates the 11-bedroom George in Hetherleigh, which was re-opened in November 2010 by owner Scottish & Newcastle Pub Company after a £2.5m refurbishment in the wake of a fire that destroyed the property in 2008.

Toy is key healthy eating bribe for kids at McDonald’s: Research by the University of Waterloo in Canada has found that when a toy was offered to children with a healthy meal, and not with an unhealthy option, 40 per cent opted to forgo the unhealthy option. Conversely, when given the choice between a McDonald’s Happy Meal with apple slices and water or fries and a can of Coke, both with a toy, just 19 per cent of six to 12-year-olds chose the healthier meal. Meanwhile, McDonald’s is trialing mobile payment with PayPal in 30 restaurants throughout France, with consumers able to order food online. Customers taking part in the trial will be able to chose their meal using the McDonald’s smartphone app and pay for it using PayPal, with users having a separate line to pick up their food from.

Whitbread switches Table Table site to Brewers Fayre buffet venue: Whitbread has converted its Table Table venue in Donnington to a Brewers Fayre with a Buffet Place offer. In April, Whitbread reported sales in its pub restaurant division had been boosted by the expansion of its “all-you-can-eat” Buffet Place concept to a further 71 Brewers Fayre sites to bring the total to 95 – average sales uplift is six per cent on conversion and a further 25 are being opened. Chief executive Andy Harrison said that “value offer” meals now account for 39 per cent of all meal sales, a rise of five per cent in a year. Buffet Place sites serve a Chinese Buffet on Mondays from 5pm, a Curry Buffet on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5pm, a Mexican Buffet on Wednesdays from 5pm, a Chip Shop Buffet on Fridays from 5pm and a two-course Sunday Carvery on the Sabbath.

Hall and Woodhouse acquires four shepherd huts for pub camping: Dorset-based family brewer Hall & Woodhouse has acquired four “shepherd huts” for two of their public houses with campsites. Tanya Sullivan, Hall and Woodhouse’s tenant at The Bat and Ball, Billingshurst, said: “We believe these Shepherd Huts will really complement the existing camping facility we have to offer at The Bat and Ball. We are located in a beautiful setting, in the heart of the Sussex countryside and we’re sure our guests will enjoy staying in our new, quirky accommodation.” The huts are 14 foot by six foot six inches. They contain a double bed, two chairs, a small work surface, lighting throughout additional power points, electric under-floor heating and a small wood-burning stove.

Waitrose opens café at busiest site outside of London: Waitrose has opened a café at its busiest store outside of London in Bath. A spokesman said: “Everything that we sell is from our own food sources and we have little menu cards that you can take home for free and replicate the food you’ve had in the café at home.”

Krispy Kreme UK to launch a decadent range in September: Doughnut firm Krispy Kreme will launch a new line of decadent doughnuts next month - the Kreme de la Kreme Collection. Three new “decadent” doughnuts will join Krispy Kreme UK’s 13 other varieties. The Kreme de la Kreme collection will be available until January 2013.

Marston’s opens Stoke-on-Trent new-build: Marston’s has opened a new-build pub, The Peppermill, on the Phoenix Park development in Longton, Staffordshire. Manager Harry Holland said: “We received over 1,000 job applications when we first advertised, which was heartbreaking in a way.”

Dorbiere gets go-ahead for £180,000 improvement to Staffordshire pub: Manchester-based multiple Dorbiere has got the planning go-ahead to invest £180,000 in its Park Inn site in Dresden. The proposals include changes to the outdoor smoking area, improvements to the disabled facilities and changes to the entrance of the pub, including the installation of a Victorian-style canopy. The plans would also see the two current entertainment rooms merged into one, the relocation of the bar and an extension to the beer garden. Martin Lowe, area manager for Dorbiere, said: “We are basically starting from scratch with this. We want to make some big improvements. We want to make a good job of it. The Park Inn is very active in the community, especially in terms of football, so the refurbishment will be a big benefit to our customers.”

Punch licensee takes on second site with £180,000 investment: Licensee Tim Turner is to take on his second Punch Taverns pub, The Spanker Inn in Nether Heage, Derbyshire, which is to receive a £170,000 co-investment to take it upmarket with the introduction of fresh, home-made food. Turner has already made a success of his first pub, Punch’s The Greyhound, in Belper's Whitemoor Lane.

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