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Wed 29th Aug 2012 - Orchid, New Moon and Greene King

Story of the Day:

Peach Pub Company signs up for sixteenth pub: Peach Pub Company, the award-winning gastro-operator led by Hamish Stoddart and Lee Cash, will open its sixteenth pub in October – and its first this year. The company has secured its fourth pub from within the Greene King tenanted estate – the Star and Garter in Leamington Spa, which is located just off the town centre on Warwick Street. Work began six weeks ago on a £500,000 refurbishment that will add a kitchen to a pub that previously traded as a wet-led community pub. Peach’s pub estate is two-thirds freehold or free-of-tie.  Stoddart told Morning Briefing: “(Taking on a tied pub) is a win-win when you get the deal right. To make the rent right, the brewery has to earn some beer money.” Peach, which has a number of pubs with large beer gardens, has struggled to match last year’s like-for-like sales since the start of April with wet weather discouraging customers. Stoddart described trading in April as “awful” with May and June “bad”.  Last month, like-for-likes sales were down by 1.5 per cent on the year before but in August sales have been up by three per cent on the previous year. In May, brewer Molson Coors made a £500,000 investment in Peach alongside securing a supply deal that still enables the latter to stock a wide range of beers. Peach opened two sites in 2011 – the White Horse in Harpenden and Brookmans in Bradmore Green, Hertfordhsire. The freehold of the latter was sold by owner Enterprise Inns for £1.49m at a CBRE auction in April this year. The pub is let to Peach on a free-of-tie rent of £105,000 per annum for 20 years with annual RPI increases capped at four per cent.

Industry News:

Regular cups of coffee may help ward off cancer: US researchers have reported that drinking several cups of coffee a day could help protect against bowel cancer. A study of almost 500,000 people found that those who drank four or more cups a day saw the risk of bowel or rectal cancer reduce by 15 per cent compared to non-coffee drinkers. For those who drank six cups of coffee or more a day, the risk was reduced by 24 per cent.

Marks and Spencer introduces bakery and deli at flagship store: Marks and Spencer opens a new flagship store in Ellesmere Port’s Cheshire Oak retail development today. The venue will offer bakery and deli counters, free Wi-Fi throughout and self-contained stores within the store, including a skincare department. Staff will carry iPads. The innovations at the 150,000 square foot store will be rolled out to other stores if successful.

MPs criticise attempts to reduce alcohol duty fraud: MPs on the Public Accounts Committee will criticise the HM Revenue & Customs for lacking reliable information on the return on investment in tackling different types of duty evasion, according to The Times.  Alcohol fraud is estimated to be costing £1.2bn a year in uncollected duty. MPs are also expected to criticise HMRC’s reluctance to prosecute offenders. Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, described HMRC’s current methodology as a “finger in the air”. 

Flintshire ale trail tour attracts thousands of visitors: Thousands of visitors from across the country are expected for this Saturday’s Real Ale Trail bus tour of ten top Flintshire pubs. A fleet of buses, organised by the Flintshire Tourism Association, travel between ten of the region’s finest rural pubs. Ticket price is £5 before or £10 on the day for unlimited travel and can be purchased from any participating pub. Buses will run from 11am to 11pm every 30 minutes dropping off and picking at each establishment. All pubs involved in the trail prove a strong commitment to providing tasty well-managed real ales, be part of the Flintshire Tourism Association and where they can, serve locally sourced food.”

Restaurateur starts online platform for the trade: Businessman Michael Li, who runs two restaurants in the Staffordshire town of Tamworth, has come up with a new online booking system that can be used by any eatery in the UK. He has created the 'Yanan' website which allows restaurants nationwide to offer daily discounts at their establishments. Customers who visit Yanan.co.uk will be able to book a table at any of the listed restaurants for a discounted price. The full payment for the transaction goes straight to the restaurant.

A Tokyo restaurant spends £80m on robots: A restaurant in Tokyo's red light district has spent ten billion yen (£80million) on four custom-made giant female robots controlled by bikini-clad Japanese dancers. It took three years to refit the Robot Restaurant, in Kabukicho, where for 4,000 yen (£32), people can have a drink, eat a bento box and watch robots stage an hour-long mock fight to a Lady Gaga soundtrack. “The concept behind this restaurant is fighting, feisty females, and the robots are part of that theme,” said the restaurant's spokesman.

Charlie Trotter to close this Friday after 25 years: Iconic US restaurateur Charlie Trotter is to mark the 25th anniversary of his Chicago restaurant this Friday (31 August) by closing its doors forever so he can pursue a master's degree in philosophy. The final service will see the restaurant cleared of furniture and “casual” food served from stations to a hand-picked group of 200 invited guests.

Company News:

Domino’s Pizza UK acquires Swiss master franchise rights; secures option to buy Austrian franchise rights: Domino’s Pizza UK has extended its European reach by buying the master franchisor rights in Switzerland for £4.67m. Domino's Switzerland currently operates 12 corporate stores generating annualised sales of £8million in 2011. Four of the stores are in Zurich, four are in Geneva and the remainder are located in other large towns and cities. The company's target is to open at least 25 further stores over the next five years and Domino's believes that the market could ultimately accommodate around 65 stores in total. Domino’s stated: “The Swiss market is an attractive one for development as the quick service restaurant sector is currently performing strongly. In addition, Switzerland's strong economy and metropolitan based population are characteristics well-suited to the development of the Domino's model. Currently, brand recognition of Domino's in Switzerland is very low and the existing stores are not heavily marketed. The company believes it can take the brand to the next level through an improvement in product quality, innovative marketing and its focus on a great delivery service. In addition, internet penetration in Switzerland is higher than it is in the UK, Germany or Republic of Ireland - which is relevant as online sales become ever more important across the Group.” Domino’s has also acquired an option to acquire the master franchise rights for Domino's Pizza in Austria. This option expires on 31 December 2014. The deal means Domino’s UK holds the franchise rights in seven European countries.

New Moon Pub Company to open second site next month: New Moon Pub Company, led by David Mooney and former Living Ventures executive Paul Newman, will open its second site, The Old Sessions House in Knutsford, on Monday 10 September. The pair opened The Lord Binning in Kelsall at the start of 2012. Newman said: “Knutsford is a thriving town, where quality is recognised and expected.” New Moon has commissioned its own ale, Sessions, from Knutsford-based Tatton Brewery, for the new opening.

Tossed to open first site outside the capital: Tossed, the healthy food operator headed by Vincent McKevitt, is to open two new sites this autumn, including its first site outside the capital. It will open a new site at Bankside near Tate Modern as well as a site at the Bluewater shopping centre in Kent in October. The new outlets will bring the Tossed portfolio to ten sites in total.

Orchid moves away from the sandwich: The sandwich, a long-time quick-and-easy staple, is losing favour among pub customers, according to managed company Orchid Group.  Head of food Sarah Thomas said:  “Many of our customers are getting bored of sandwiches – no matter how tasty, they are still just a filling between two slices of bread. People are looking for alternative options that are just as ideal for a light lunch or tasty snack, but that pack a bigger punch. Our sandwich alternatives focus on different types of breads and more exotic options but do not compromise on flavour or value.” As alternatives to a sandwich, Orchid has introduced everything from burritos to naan and fajita. They all follow the same basic principle – a bread-based outer layer encasing the contents – but bring a bit of excitement and novelty. One of the new not-sandwiches that is already proving a big hit is the Chicken Tikka Naan-wich – tikka strips, fresh onion, coriander and tomato salad, iceberg lettuce and minted yoghurt dressing in a naan. And the love affair with exotic spices continues with the La Cantina Combo - a nice and spicy sharing platter of fajita spiced popcorn chicken, southern fried curly fries, Wild Cannon chicken wings, onion rings, breaded mushrooms, chilli pepper Cheddar topped garlic bread and tortilla chips, served with sour cream and sweet chilli sauce. “The naan-wich is particularly popular with female diners as it is quite light and fresh, and things such as burritos are going down well with those who want to try something new,” added Thomas. “It all goes to show that bread-based dishes do not have to be boring and that reinventing a classic to make it better than ever before is possible.”

Innventure tastes success with Olympics challenge: A challenge to provide a bit of fun for non-couch potatoes during the Olympics has proved a marketing success for six-strong destination bar restaurant group Innventure.  The company, headed by former Mitchells & Butlers’ executive Chris Gerard, tempted customers to dine at as many of its pubs as possible during the Olympics and receive a prize. The challenge was intended to centre around five of Innventure’s sites that lie within a 40-minute drive of one-another – the Rusty Gun, in St Ippolyts, Hertfordshire;  the Wellington in Welwyn, Hertfordshire; the Broadway Hotel in Letchworth, Hertfordshire; Cross Keys, Saffron Walden, Essex; and d’Arry’s in Cambridge. The sixth site, the Foresters at Church Crookham in Hampshire, was deemed to be too far away from the other five to feature in any competitor’s itinerary. Not so for Brian Duffus and his wife who wined and dined at all six venues. Gerard said: “I did not expect anyone to complete a tour of all six businesses in the three weeks available. Brian and his wife spent over £450 in our six businesses and must have travelled nearly the same number of miles to achieve this. They did it because Brian says he likes a challenge and despite the fact that his wife had a PhD (doctor of philosophy) dissertation to complete in three weeks.” Gerard added: “I asked him what he would like as his special prize and he chose to join me and my wife Fiona for supper in September!”

Sam Smith’s landlord quits in five per cent surplus row: Another Samuel Smith’s landlord has resigned over company demands that he achieves a five per cent stock surplus. Mark Anderson, of the Windmill Inn, reports that Sam Smith’s bosses told him to make sure five per cent of each pint was made up of head rather than beer to achieve the stock surplus. Anderson resigned last month after getting a second letter warning him about missing the target. He said: “My latest stock-take was showing a surplus of 1.7 per cent instead of five per cent. We don’t want to leave but customers don’t want huge heads on their beer. It is just wrong.”

New £3m pub and hotel opens on edge of Loch Lomond: The new-build £3m Loch Lomond Arms hotel has opened in Luss, on the edge of Loch Lomond. It has been built by The Luss Estates Company, chaired by Sir Malcolm Colquhoun. Each of the individually styled 14 en-suite bedrooms are named after a different Scottish Clan and at the heart of the hotel is a traditional pub.

New restaurants unveiled for The Shard: London’s iconic Shard building has signed up the Aqua Restaurant Group and Zuma and Roka founders Rainer Becker and Arjun Waney to operate bars and restaurants on floors 31 to 33.  Becker and Waney will open a rotisserie and bar. Diners will have their own entrance and two express lift will take them directly to the restaurant atrium on floor 32. Work on the new restaurants at the London Bridge building, Europe’s tallest at 310 metres – is about to start with the sites set to open in spring next year.

Douglas Jack moves from add to hold on Greene King shares: Numis Securities leisure analyst Douglas Jack has moved his recommendation on Greene King shares from “add” to “hold” ahead of the company’s first quarter results announcement on 4 September.  He said: “The shares have re-rated to 9x EV/EBITDA, a nine per cent premium to Marston’s, which is high enough in our opinion. After recent strength, we are moving our stance to “hold” from “add”. Managed like-for-like sales were up 7.1 per cent in the first eight weeks (boosted by Euro 2012 and an easy comparable of just 1%). After adjusting for holidays and events, underlying like-for-like sales growth would have been circa 4.5 per cent (rather than 7.1 per cent). We expect like-for-like sales to slow to 4-4.5 per cent for the first 16 weeks, consistent with comparatives becoming tougher, poor weather in July and the Olympics being potentially detrimental in August. Our full year forecasts cautiously assume that managed like-for-like sales rise by two per cent.

Brewdog plans two autumn openings: Scottish craft brewer Brewdog plans two bar openings this autumn. The company has sites in Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Camden, Nottingham, Newcastle and Manchester – and will open in Bristol in mid October and in Birmingham in mid-November.

Chef Michael Nadra to open second site: Chef Michael Nadra, who has worked in a number of Michelin-starred restaurants, including Petrus, Chez Bruce and La Trompette, is to open his second restaurant next week. Nadra, whose first restaurant is in Chiswick, is to open a larger site, Michael Nadra Primrose Hill, with 130 covers on Saturday (1 September). He said: “This is an incredibly exciting time for me. After the success of the Chiswick restaurant, it has been my ambition to open a second, larger venue.  The Primrose Hill site offered the perfect opportunity and we’re thrilled to be in such a sought after area of London.” In addition to Nadra’s signature al carte and six course tasting menus, there will be an Prix Fixe menu priced at £10, £14 and £18 for one, two and three courses respectively.

Fluid Group is to open a new venue on Tyneside: Highly rated bar, coffee shop and deli operator Fluid Group, headed by David King and Oliver Vaulkard, is to open a new venue next month, the Hood Street Club, which aims to replicate the exclusive private drinking clubs of London and New York. “There is nothing else in Newcastle like Hood Street Club,” said Fluid Group director David King. “What we are going to offer is unrivalled service and an experience which discerning adults will enjoy, people who want a night out in luxurious surroundings and who want to be looked after. The club, in the former site of Bar 42 in Hood Street, has been created after a “significant investment” by Fluid Group, which runs a number of sites including Barluga Newcastle, Barluga Morpeth and Perdu in Newcastle. Fluid Group runs three Central Bean Coffee shops in the Gallowgate area of Newcastle, Morpeth and Jesmond and is hoping to establish six coffee shops in the North West in the next few years.  Central Beans classic espresso includes high quality speciality coffees from Brazil, Mexico and Indonesia, blended using techniques originating from the Pacific NorthWest and roasted in the Northern Italian style.

Spirit Pub Company launches work academy: Spirit Pub Company has launched a new work academy to provide job seekers looking for a career in catering with relevant kitchen work experience. The academy, which has been put together in conjunction with Northampton Job Centre Plus and Blue Training, was launched at Spirit's Northampton Learning and Development Centre with 18 candidates signed up to participate.The five-week course aims to provide candidates with an interest in a career at Spirit some hands on experience of life working in a kitchen. Joseph Masini, resourcing manager for Spirit Pub Company, said: "Our Hospitality Work Academy will not only provide candidates with invaluable practical kitchen work experience but also give them key employability skills and a guaranteed interview for a role in one our pubs. Our mission is to take on high calibre candidates and then invest and develop them to reach team leader and kitchen manager positions - having the best kitchen teams will support our goal in providing the best guest experience."

Barracuda joins free kids food push: Managed pub operator Barracuda has become the latest operator to provide free kids meals as part of a tactical push to attract families. Ember Inns is offering free children’s meals in August along with Beefeater while Orchid has been offering kids meals for a pound on a Tuesday at selected sites. Barracuda also offered free food for kids, when an accompanying adult orders a main meal, for the Saturday, Sunday and Monday of the Bank Holiday at selected sites. Kate Eastwood, of Barracuda, said: “As the summer draws to a close and thoughts turn to returning back to school, we wanted to give our customers the opportunity to get together as a family and enjoy some of the great food available at the pub.”

Nightclub owner to launch pizzeria: The founders of the Project London nightclub are to open a pizza restaurant and cocktail bar called B-Soho. The restaurant, to be located on London’s Poland Street, is a joint venture with Alula Leisure, the health and fitness company that launched the 52 Degrees North Bar & Kitchen.  


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