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Thu 13th Sep 2012 - Baa Bar, Prezzo and Domino’s UK

Story of the day:

Propel Info publishes comprehensive guide to sector turnover and profits: Propel Info has published a comprehensive guide to turnover and profit at the 200 largest pub, restaurant and foodservice multi-site operators in the UK. “The Propel Info Hospitality Sector Turnover and Profits Blue Book” provides listings of turnover and profit, a five-year overview of how these have changed as well as listing directors’ salaries and site numbers. The 36-page Blue Book shows 23 companies turn over more than £200m a year in the sector and a total of 37 produce turnover of more than £100m. Eight of the top ten companies by turnover operate pubs. Interestingly, the companies that rank between number 11 and 20 in the Propel Blue Book by turnover are overwhelmingly multi-site restaurant companies with no pub companies evident. The ten most profitable companies in the UK made a combined £1.035bn in pre-tax profit in their most recent financial year. The Blue Book finds a total of 140 companies in the sector produce a turnover of £10m or more. Propel Info managing director Paul Charity said: “The Propel Blue Book is the result of months of exhaustive research. It breaks new ground by bringing together all the available information to give operators and suppliers an overview of sector turnover and profitability. The research contains more than a few surprises – 24 of the top 50 companies by turnover operate pubs, for example, and there are three family brewers in the top 25 in profit terms. The Blue Book provides a chance for companies to benchmark themselves against others in areas such as directors’ salaries and profit conversion from turnover.”

More information: To buy a copy of the Propel Info Hospitality Sector Turnover and Profits Blue Book, e-mail Jo Charity or Sharon Dickinson on or

Industry news:

Prezzo joins Jacques Borel VAT club: Restaurant group Prezzo has joined VAT Club JB, the organisation set up to lobby for a reduction in the level of VAT. Prezzo has almost 200 restaurants across the UK. It operates 170 Prezzo Italian restaurants and a further 21 Chimichanga Mexican restaurants. It joins a range of other leading companies backing the campaign, including pub group JD Wetherspoon, motorway services operator Roadchef and restaurant group Pizza Hut. VAT Club JB founder Jacques Borel said: “I am delighted that Prezzo has joined the campaign to reduce the level of VAT on food and drink to five per cent. The restaurant group serves thousands of customers each week and a reduction in VAT will benefit them and their customers and also help to create jobs.” Prezzo chief executive Jonathan Kaye said: “I fully support the aims of VAT Club JB and am delighted that Prezzo has joined the organisation. This is a vital issue for the industry and it is important that restaurateurs back it 100 per cent.”

Hospitality Guild looking for operations director: The Hospitality Guild, headed by former Punch director of central operations Suzy Jackson, is looking for a director of operations, with a salary of £50,000 per annum. The brainchild of sector skills council People 1st, the Hospitality Guild unites 23 of the leading hospitality associations, along with 11 of the largest employers, in a modern-day Guild, the first of its kind, dedicated to the development of professional standards in hospitality.

Campaign launched to tighten law on squatting in commercial premises: A campaign has begun in Kent to make squatting in commercial premises a criminal offence. The move comes after squatters moved into the vacant Blue Bell Hill pub near Chatham. Chatham and Aylesford MP Tracey Crouch said squatting in commercial properties should be considered a serious matter. She added: “This isn't a victimless crime, so it's important that we look into this and try and outlaw it as soon as possible.”

Gastro-pub concept to open in Los Angeles: Grill Concepts is to open a gastropub concept in Los Angeles. Public School 310, which opens in November, will be a beer-focused restaurant with a seasonal menu that promises to offer “an education in the art of beer and food”.

Portas questions the government’s commitment to high streets: So-called 'Queen of Shops' Mary Portas has suggested the government is not fully committed to the high street and town centre improvement proposals she has set out. The government asked Portas last year to investigate the UK’s declining high streets. She proposed a 28-point improvement plan and a number of towns were subsequently designated Portas Pilot towns. But speaking at the BCSC Conference in Liverpool yesterday, Portas doubted the government’s commitment to the pilots and said that she does not speak with Whitehall regularly. She said: “I question if this is a PR stunt. Are they genuinely putting town centres first?”. Portas called on the government to tackle issues such as car parking and cut red tape if it is to tackle the health of high streets seriously.

VisitBritain launches new stage of tourism campaign: VisitBritain, which is targeting international tourists with a £13.5m campaign around the world to capitalise on the Olympics, has reported that 75 per cent of recent travellers would consider a holiday in the UK. The campaign targets airlines, hotel companies and tour operators offering deals to increase the chance of travellers who watched the best of the UK on television this summer, will be tempted to make a trip to our shores. It’s part of £125m marketing campaign aimed at bringing an extra 4.6 million people to Britain for their next holiday.

Good Beer Guide – brewery numbers top 1,000: The Good Beer Guide 2013 has reported that 160 new microbreweries have opened in the past year, taking the total in the UK to 1,009, which is the highest in number for 70 years. Editor of the guide Roger Protz said: “People are looking for flavour and character in beer and this is what these breweries offer.”

Company news:

McDonald’s in the US to provide calorie info from next week; plans healthier menu items for 2013: McDonald’s will list calorie information on restaurant and drive-thru menus across the US. The company has also published its first-ever nutrition progress report and revealed several 2013 menu innovations in test that will include recommended food groups from the United States Department of Agriculture’s 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These are the latest in a series of actions to support McDonald’s “Commitments to Offer Improved Nutrition Choices,” announced July 2011. The comprehensive plan aims to help customers and employees make informed nutrition choices whether visiting McDonald’s or eating elsewhere. President Jan Fields said: “At McDonald’s, we recognise customers want to know more about the nutrition content of the food and beverages they order.” McDonald’s will also trial menu items for 2013 that will include more recommended food groups. Among the additions being tested are: more seasonal fruit and vegetables options, such as blueberries and cucumbers, during peak seasons; additional produce side options and grilled chicken choices for Happy Meals; The McWrap, inspired by McDonald’s Europe, features fresh vegetables and is available in three flavors – Chicken & bacon, sweet chili chicken, and chicken & ranch – starting at 350 calories; and new breakfast choices, including an egg-white breakfast sandwich on an English muffin made with eight grams of whole grain.

Marston’s chief executive to receive honorary PhD tomorrow: Ralph Findlay, chief executive of Marston’s, is to receive an honorary degree from the University of Wolverhampton tomorrow. Findlay will become a doctor of business administration in recognition of his contribution to the regional economy. Vice-Chancellor, Professor Geoff Layer, said: “We are proud to award honorary degrees to people who have made an outstanding contribution to their field of expertise. As people who have striven to reach the pinnacle of their profession, they offer inspiration to our graduates as they collect their own awards throughout graduation.”

Coca-Cola Enterprises confirms position as most profitable UK soft drinks firm with quarter billion profit: The UK arm of Coca-Cola, Coca Cola Enterprises has confirmed its position as the UK’s most profitable soft drinks firm by reporting pre-tax profit of £256.8m for the year to the end of 2011 – profit rose by £1.8m compared to the year before. Turnover rose by 5.8 per cent during the year to reach £1.765bn. Dividends of £227.1m were paid compared to £143m the year before. The company stated that it had high hopes for its involvement as sponsor of the London Olympics. “The 2012 London Olympic Games will be a unique opportunity for CCE’s business in Great Britain. We are working hard to maximise the business opportunity while minimising the environmental impact of our operations. The Games are a strong marketing asset that the directors believe will facilitate new customer programmes and increase brand awareness.” Directors were paid £1,762,000 with the highest paid director earning £600,000. The company changed its pension scheme in May 2011 by increasing retirement age to 65 and making other changes – the move is expected to save the company around £10.5m per annum in contributions. 

Luminar re-opens York and Aberdeen nightclubs after £2m investment: Nightclub company Luminar, led by Peter Marks, has re-opened its York site as Kuda after a £750,000 12-week refurbishment. Kuda bar and club, previously called The Gallery, in Clifford Street, was almost gutted in a 12-week renovation project. Kuda has a “South Pacific-themed Tiki Bar” serving cocktails and tapas and a Balearic-themed Mambo Lounge. In Aberdeen, a former Liquid in Bridge Place has re-opened as The Institute after a £1.2m refurbishment. Chief executive Peter Marks told Morning Briefing: “York is doing really well, exceeding budget. Aberdeen opened last week too and (is doing) even better.”

Couple buy Young’s pub in London for £625,000: Roger and Magdalena Davy have bought a former Young’s pub, The Old Anchor, in London’s Marble Hill area, for £625,000. The pub, being eyed by Sainsbury’s at one stage, will re-open on 2 October as The Aleksander – the name of the couple’s two-year-old son. The Davys, who bought the pub from property company Fourteen Investment, plan to serve high quality pizza and pasta dishes, and provide beers from around the world.

Domino’s creates iPad app to get pizza eaters in the mood: Domino’s UK is offering a free iPad app game, launched successfully by its US counterpart, that invites customers to try their pizza making skills – the game is called Pizza Hero. The game allows players to use their hands to stretch fresh dough from scratch, add tomato sauce and then scatter mozzarella cheese and fresh tasty toppings. Once ‘cooked’, pizzas are then cut by hand. Pizzas are scored for each section of the pizza making by a virtual store manager and an overall mark given for speed and quality. The company notes: “If the game makes your mouth water, there’s a direct link through to Domino’s ordering website too.”

Baa Bar reports pre-tax profit just short of a million pounds: Baa Bar, the Merseyside multiple headed by Elaine Clarke, has reported pre-tax profit of £964,002, up from £775,765 the year before. Turnover rose in the year to 30 April to £10,339,460 compared to £10,267,973 the year before. The company stated: “On a like-for-like basis trading at our existing sites was 0.6 per cent down during what continues to be a challenging trading climate. Gross margins have remained strong across the estate but we have seen a reduction in supplier marketing support during the year and increased pressure to accept price increases from our suppliers. Overall costs have reduced as operating costs have been tightly controlled during the year.” The company reported sales fell 8.8 per cent on a like-for-like basis in the eight weeks after its year-end. The company is to open its eleventh site in Leeds at the end of October in Millennium Square. Baa Bar, which launched in Liverpool in 1991, operates late-night city centre venues in Liverpool, Manchester and Nottingham.

Peyton & Byrne moves into profit after contract wins: Peyton & Byrne, the company headed by TV food critic Oliver Peyton that runs public space dining with the Restaurant at the Royal Academy of Arts, The National Café, The Orangery and Pavilion both at Kew Gardens and the ICA Café Bar, has reported a pre-tax profit of £256,301 for the year to 1 April 2012 after losing £662,845 the year before. Turnover rose to £19,971,346 from £16,207,785 after the company won two catering contracts in 2011. The company stated: “The benefit of consolidation is clearly demonstrated in this year’s results. The business performance continues to improve and the company is now in a stronger position to consider suitable new growth opportunities.” Operating profit was £512,252 compared to a loss of £585,777 the year before.

Cinnamon Club Indian restaurant reports profit dip: The Cinnamon Club restaurant, which is located in London’s Great Smith Street and employs 76 staff, has reported a pre-tax profit of £730,921 for the year to 31 March 2012, down from £778,403 the year before. Turnover rose to £4,904,589 from £4,880,157 the year before. The company said its balance sheet continued to strengthen with shareholders’ funds rising 19.2 per cent to £2,517,843.

Hooters broadens appeal to women: Hooters, the US restaurant chain, is to make an attempt to increase its appeal to women. The company will retain the iconic uniforms, but is serving healthier choices, including non-frozen chickens wings and doubled its salad choice to six, replacing iceberg lettuce with mixed greens and added shrimp, spinach and fresh herbs to the menu. It’s also making restaurants lighter to make it clear there is nothing to be ashamed of. “There’s an opportunity to broaden the net without putting wool sweaters on the Hooters girls,” chief executive Terry Marks told Bloomberg. “Everything we do should appeal more to women, but nothing we will do will turn men off.”

Starbucks plans 1,000 new apprentices: Starbucks is aiming to take on 1,000 new apprentices over the next two years. Around 700 of the new apprenticeships will be in the Greater London area. Starbucks UK and Ireland boss Kris Engskov said: “This scheme is a great way to attract new talent into our business to improve our employee retention and support our future growth, as well as upping the skill-set of the coffee industry.”

Ramada Hemel Hempstead sold to Icon Hotels: The 137-bedroom Ramada Hemel Hempstead has been sold off an asking price of £6m by specialist property adviser Christie + Co to Icon Hotels on behalf of the joint administrators. Ramada Hemel Hempstead is set in six acres of gardens and woodlands and has six conference and meeting rooms in addition to its 137 guest rooms.

Eighteen Enterprise Inns pubs win £5,000: Eighteen Enterprise Inns pubs have been awarded £5,000 each by the company in recognition of making “inspiring contributions” to the community. The 18 regional winners are: Lion Hotel, Treorchy; The Arion, Southport; The Castle Hotel, Southend on Sea; The Hare Inn, Linslade; The Three Crowns, Bushey; The Swan, West Wickham; The Nightingale, Huddersfield; Myrtle Tavern, Meanwood; The Hinds Head, Stockport; The Hastings Hill, Sunderland; The Cross Keys, Fulstow; The Rose in June, Portsmouth; Six Bells, Northfleet; The White Lion, Alcester; The Globe Inn, Chagford; The Rock Inn, Brighton; Dog and Fox, Bradford On Avon; and The Plough Inn, Wellington. The company stated: “From charity fundraising projects and assisting less able individuals, to building community support networks, the continual efforts of these publicans are outstanding.” Judge John Longden said: “I think the most wonderful thing is the wide range of employment, jobs and just other simple things that publicans do in the communities to improve not only the heart and soul of their communities, but actually benefit the wider national community.” A national winner will be selected from these 18 winners, to be announced at a special awards ceremony taking place on 27 September.

Host buys Juice for Life: Host Management has made its second acquisition in two months with the purchase of Juice for Life (trading as OJ’s), operator of retail catering contracts in the leisure sector. Juice for Life was set up in 1994 by Julian and Caroline Davis Smith and, under the OJ’s brand, manages and operates coffee bars, juice bars, restaurants and function services for corporate clients, councils and charitable trusts including nine local authority leisure centres. The acquisition brings £2m worth of turnover to Host, giving a total annualised turnover of £25m.

Four restaurant brands for Stoke: PizzaExpress, Nando’s, Frankie and Benny’s and Chiquito are lined up to take space in Stoke-on-Trent's new £350 million City Sentral shopping centre to be built on the current bus station site. The complex, due to open in 2015, will include 80 shops, an 80-bedroom hotel and Vue Cinemas.

Shore Capital - Greggs set for significant growth: Analysts at Shore Capital have forecast that Greggs is set for significant growth with plans to acquire up to 25 per cent more retail space. Store openings will be stepped up to 90 a year and Shore forecast a compound annual growth rate of 8.6 per cent underpinned by exploring “exciting complementary retail streams” such as the coffee shop market in the form of Greggs Moment.

Crown Estate buys The Gate leisure centre for £60m: The Crown Estate has bought The Gate entertainments centre in Newcastle city centre, which has an Empire Cinema and houses a host of pubs and restaurants, including a Pizza Hut, Nando’s and JD Wetherspoon. The centre was bought from Delancey, which is owned by real estate magnate Jamie Ritblat, who acquired the complex two years ago in partnership with the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Wells and Young’s launches original social network advert: Wells & Young’s is to launch a new ad campaign through autumn 2012 to re-engage ale drinkers with the brand and champion a new era of real, quality interactions with friends and family. Wells and Young’s commercial director David Revell said: “The increasingly frantic pace of modern life has led to a social media revolution in the past few years, with many people opting to connect with friends via technology rather than in person. However, a summer of Jubilee celebrations and the successful summer of sport have created a real buzz in Great Britain, uniting people with a sense of national pride. This provides a key opportunity to reconnect with our target market to reawaken the quintessential British pastime of meeting friends in the pub, and to put Young’s pubs and beers at the heart of real social networking.” The new campaign, launching this month is targeted at 35 plus year old ale drinkers across London and the south east.

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