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Morning Briefing Strap Line
Tue 23rd Oct 2012 - TLC Inns, Marston’s and Whitbread

Story of the day:

Marston’s launches unbranded premium pub initiative called Revere Pub Company: Midlands-based Marston’s has launched a trial aimed at developing ten pubs into a more premium, unbranded experience. The move is being compared to the development of Mitchells & Butlers’ Premium Country Dining pubs. Marston’s has asked its Hammersmith Brands division, headed by Colin Sadler, which looks after Pitcher & Piano and Bluu sites, to oversee development of the pubs under the Revere Pub Company banner. The first two sites to be redeveloped and re-opened next month are The Hogshead in Westbourne, near Bournemouth which will re-open as The Libertine and Ye Olde Saracen’s Head at Balsall Common in the West Midlands. Job adverts for The Libertine describe the venue as offering “fantastic, fresh food, a great range of ales, beers, wines and spirits all served in a comfortable yet traditional atmosphere complimented by the best service”. Peter Dalzell, head of Marston’s Inns and Taverns, said more cash would be released to expand the programme in the New Year if the first two pubs are successful – and he expected it would take two or three years to convert the ten pubs “if all goes well”. He added: “The majority of the pubs are in the countryside in the south of England although Westbourne and Balsall Common are both leafy suburbs. We’re aiming for an independent feel somewhere between Mitchells & Butlers Premium Country Dining brand and (The Restaurant Group’s) Brunning & Price business.” The Libertine’s website is www.thelibertine-westbourne.com
 
Free Report: The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) and CPL Training have teamed up to commission a free report on the key foodservice trends in Europe. The report, written by Propel Info managing director Paul Charity after a visit to the European Foodservice Summit in Zurich, looks at the companies and sectors that are out-performing in Europe and has insight and analysis from some of the world’s top operators.  To receive a free copy, e-mail Paul Charity on paul.charity@propelinfo.com
 

Industry news:

Beer barometer shows beer sales in on-trade down by a further 4.8 per cent in third quarter of 2012; down by 6.5 per cent in off-trade: Government tax policy is damaging the crucial brewing and pub sector, with UK beer sales falling by 5.6 per cent in the third quarter of 2012, according to the British Beer & Pub Association’s (BBPA) latest UK Quarterly ‘Beer Barometer’, published today. The figures mean that despite the benefits of the Olympics and Euro 2012, beer drinkers enjoyed 117 million fewer pints of beer in the third quarter of 2012 compared with 2011. The reduction in sales is hitting Government revenues as well as jobs, said the BBPA. Analysis from Oxford Economics indicates that a duty freeze in March 2013 would save 5,000 jobs in the sector, which employs almost one million people – mostly younger people in Britain’s pubs. The fight for a fairer tax deal moves up a gear today, with MPs who champion the sector pushing for a full Parliamentary debate on the impact of the escalator, following a petition signed by over 100,000 calling for Government action on the issue.  British beer has endured an astonishing 42 per cent tax hike since March 2008. A further, two per cent above inflation increase proposed for Budget 2013 is set to take the figure towards a staggering 50 per cent. Sales of beer in pubs fell by 4.8 per cent in the third quarter, with 51 million less pints poured for pub-goers than in the same period in 2011. Supermarkets and off-license sales were down by 6.5 per cent. Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association said: “If the Government wants to encourage growth, back British business and support local communities, then it must end the Beer Duty escalator. The Chancellor must listen to the thousands of people now calling for a change, so the sector can grow, create jobs and contribute more to UK plc.”

Burger now outselling fish and chip in UK pubs: The burger is a more popular choice than Fish & Chips within Britain’s pubs, now accounting for one in every 12 pounds of food spend, according to research undertaken as part of food and drink consultancy firm CGA Strategy’s Trading Index and Food Price Monitor programmes. Food pubs now sell an average of 160 burgers a week each, with the average sale price of £6.27.  Operators have introduced premium ingredients and flavour innovation to provide a twist on the classic dish. “Burgers have long been a pub food staple – even before demi-brioche buns and pickles became order of the day with this new gourmet junk food revolution,” said CGA Strategy’s Tom Lynch. “Pub operators have capitalised on demand for premiumised burgers by offering innovative ingredients and premium bolt-on options.”  This trend positions burgers ahead of traditional British favourites such as Fish & Chips, which sell an average of 90 per week, with ‘beer and burger’ promotional deals being used by operators to effectively drive wet and dry sales. Added Lynch: “There are many examples of retailers really pushing the boundaries of the humble burger with unique sauces, toppings and accompaniments – these propositions become a real talking point for an outlet and the sheer noise around some of these new concepts highlights that a break from the norm can pay dividends in footfall, as well as margins. It’s an opportunity for retailers to inject some real personality to their food offer and our research indicates that burger sales make up 12 per cent of total sales on average, making it the cornerstone of any menu.”
 
Alcohol Concern condemned for misleading statement on minimum pricing: Alcohol Concern has claimed that new research from Canada is “evidence that minimum pricing reduces harm for consumers”. However, the Canadian research makes no mention of the relationship between pricing and harm at all and in fact has not measured this relationship. An industry alcohol policy insider told Morning Briefing: “It simply reports a relationship between a price increase and sales. In reality this is no more than basic economic theory whereby if the price of product A rises, then consumers are likely to change to products B or C. What is important here is that the objective of minimum pricing is to reduce alcohol related harm and not merely consumption for the sake of it. This report neither measures nor provides any new “evidence” of such a relationship. (Also) the author of this new Canadian research is Professor Tim Stockwell, the same Tim Stockwell who was on the research team for The Sheffield Report. So we appear to have a researcher conducting new research to prove that his previous research is valid!”
 
Kent licensee starts e-petition on business rates unfairness; writes to local MP Tessa Munt: Kent licensee Steve Wilson, responding to a Morning Briefing request for example of unfair business rates, has reported that he has begun an e-petition and written to his local MP Tessa Munt to highlight how unfair they are. He said: “Business rates are an anachronistic system that have no place in the modern business world. Rates are simply a business tax, and in the modern world the time has long passed since there was any relationship whatsoever between property size and the size of the business it contains. This may have worked during the industrial revolution, or the pre-computer age, but now there is no parity whatsoever between the rates tax and the earnings that are generated to pay for it; it is nothing but a gamble dependant on where you are and on what industry you’re in.”
 
Consumers set to spend more on lunch in the next year: Consumers are set to increase their spend on lunch in the next 12 months, according to research from foodservice analyst Horizons. The average British adult eats out 1.4 times a week, up from once a week in 2011. Horizons said the lunch market already accounts for 35 per cent of foodservice sales, with a value of around £14.9 billion, and expects lunch to account for 36 per cent of the overall market by 2014. “Consumers are also prompted to eat out by money-off vouchers and meal deals, many of which are predominantly lunch-based,” said Emma Read, director of marketing and business development at Horizons.
 

Company news:

Whitbread reports pub restaurant like-for-likes up 3.4 per cent; Costa Coffee’s like-for-likes up 6.8 per cent and total sales up 25 per cent: Whitbread has this morning reported that Costa Coffee has delivered another “outstanding performance” with a 6.8 per cent sales surge and 25 per cent more sales overall as 141 new coffee shops were opened around the world to take total to 2,344. Its pub restaurant division saw total sales up 5.3 per cent and a 3.4 per cent like-for-like sales performance – total covers were up 8.6 per cent. On its pub restaurants, the company stated: “This is a result of our dedicated focus on menu management, margins and operating efficiencies to deliver a better and more consistent guest experience. This has been achieved through stronger menu propositions, increased breakfast sales, which have risen by 20 per cent year-on-year, Buffet Place conversions, which provided a seven per cent sales uplift, and value meals, which now represent 40 per cent of total sales.” On Costa, it said: “The brand continues to strengthen and during the first half, the launch of the new Ice Cold Costa range was a great success with sales rising 29 per cent. We continue to invest in the business and refurbished 91 stores in the period and opened 87 net new UK stores. Innovation remains at the heart of the Costa strategy and we have recently launched a range of new hot drinks including Cortado, Caffe Caramella and Chai Latte as well as successfully introducing a new food range.” Sales in the six months to 30 August were up 14.2 per cent to £1.018bn and underlying profit before tax rose 10.6 per cent to £193.4m. 

Upham Brewery to open third pub through Upham Pub Company sister venture: Hamsphire-based Upham Brewery is to open its third pub - The Spinnaker Inn, Bridge Road, Swanick, as the Navigator after a £500,000 refurbishment. Jamie Atkinson, general manager of the pub, re-opening on 19 November, said the re-naming and refurbishment of the venue would provide a new “top quality” pub for the area. “By bringing a nice modern pub with contemporary food offerings it will give people another option in the higher end of the pub market,” he said. Upham Brewery was set up in 2009 near Winchester. This year, a sister business, the Upham Pub Company, was launched. Its other pubs are The Winning Post, Winkfield and The Thomas Lord, West Meon, both Hampshire.

Collyer – Spirit’s managed versus leased conundrum: Deutsche Bank analyst Geof Collyer has issued a hold note on Spirit shares. He said: “Spirit‘s conundrum is that its retail business is performing well, helped by a significant London and south east trading bias. Offsetting this, is an underperforming tenanted and leased estate that likely will be down around nine per cent again this year. The balance sheet is improving under the new management team though fixed charge cover remains very low versus the peer group at 1.5x. In addition, write-offs to the demerger accounts and in its first full year amount to four times the current equity value, which undermines the quality of what is being invested in. Retail performance was, as expected, benefiting from operational gearing and a marginal increase in provision credits. Within the tenanted and leased estate, disposals exacerbated general underperformance in part caused by the process of rent rebasing that is nearing its end.”

Fuller’s plans nine home development in Southall: London brewer and retailer Fuller’s is working with developers to develop an unused bowling green next to its Plough pub in Southall as a housing site with nine homes. A spokesman for Fullers said: “The bowling green and stable block near The Plough have been unused for many years and do not form part of the lease for the pub itself.”

Financial Times - Pub operators focus on accommodation: The Financial Times has reported on the trend for pub operators to develop good quality accommodation to attract customers away from soulless alternatives. Fuller’s group managing director Simon Emeny told the FT: “We pull trade in from three-star hotels which may have fallen on bad times. We target people who want something extra for their money than what’s offered at a budget hotel or something a bit more quirky than a corporate chain like a Holiday Inn.” Fuller’s built or acquired 134 new rooms last year while Young’s has expanded its bedroom stock from 340 to more than 400 in the last three years with plans to develop another 27 rooms by April. “We’re pubs first and hotels second but (accommodation) is becoming more than second fiddle, it’s becoming an important part of the mix,” said chief executive Stephen Goodyear.
 
Greene King in consultation over 12 redundancies: Greene King is in consultation with staff over job losses arising from shift changes at its Moreton Hall bottling plant and outsourcing of cellar services. The Cellar Service Stores operation at the Bury St Edmunds brewery site will be ‘outsourced to a third party’ and the company is in consultation with nine affected employees. In addition, the shift patterns are likely to change at its bottling hall, known as Hen Hall, with ‘up to three jobs’ likely to be lost. Euan Venters, managing director at Greene King Brewing and Brands, said: “We will be offering the best possible support to team members in finding new jobs.”
 
Luminar re-opens Gloucester Liquid nightclub after refurbishment: Luminar has completed its latest refurbishment, re-opening Liquid in Gloucester. Manager Andy Mclachlan said: “When the company went into administration it was a very tough time for us, as was the case with most bars in the area. Bars had to chase every penny to draw people in and that meant cheap drinks, but that is changing now and we no longer have to rely on that.” Meanwhile, Luminar will re-open the closed Liquid/Envy in Crawley as Moka this Thursday (25 October). 
 
TLC Inns to open UK’s first ice rink at a pub: TLC Inns, the award-winning multiple operated by Steve Haslam and Jo Drain, is to offer its own synthetic ice rink through the winter months in a first for the pub sector. The White Horse in Ramsden Heath will open its own ice rink this Saturday, in time for school half-term, after a £20,000 investment. The ice rink was previously sited on the roof of Harrods and the store’s Father Christmas could be spotted skating on it. Haslam said: “The pub has a very large garden equipped with a big play area for children. But it’s closed in the winter and we decided that it would be terrific fun to open an ice-skating rink. We’ve spent the past couple of weeks building the ice rink and it opens this Saturday in time for half-term. It’s amazing how quickly the word gets around – we’ve had 20 bookings already.” The all-weather ice rink measures 16 metres by eight metres and has capacity for 42 skaters at a time. It will open from 12pm to 8pm during the school holidays and weekends – and between 12pm and 3pm and 4pm to 8pm the rest of the time. Haslam added: “We think the rink will be a great attraction for families but also for office parties, team-building events and other celebrations.”  
 
Prezzo aims to raise Poppy Appeal cash with dedicated desert: Restaurant group Prezzo is aiming to raise thousands of pounds for the Poppy Appeal with a special dessert. Each of its restaurants across the UK is serving the Poppy Appeal chocolate truffle, with 40p from the sale of each dessert donated to the Royal British Legion. The dessert is described as a “rich chocolate ice cream with a zabaglione centre, coated with crushed hazelnuts and dusted cocoa powder”. It is available on the menu until Sunday 11 December.
 
JW Lees work with CPL to deliver training diary: CPL Training has developed a suite of 14 bespoke face-to-face courses for JW Lees covering a wide range of topics. These courses will be delivered on scheduled dates at various locations and include effective communication, getting the best out of your kitchen team, merchandising, recruiting the best, financial management, employment law basics  and exceeding customer expectations. This annual training diary will break down barriers to learning and will enable managers, tenants and their staff to improve their understanding and skills. Vicki Jackson, human resources manager, said:  “We want to ensure that training continues to play an important part in promoting our ‘Be Yourself’ policy.   We believe that every aspect of our business - the people, the pubs, the beer, the food - will measure up to our ‘Be Yourself standard and our mission to be most exciting brewery in the North. We want to be recognised as an employer that does not have any barriers to training and development and that we are here to help people to develop their careers.” The face-to-face training is running alongside the e-learning platform and apprenticeships already delivered by CPL across the estate.

Starbucks opens in India with low-price strategy: Starbucks has opened its first site in India with a low-pricing strategy – the strategy will even be applied at its next opening at the premium Taj Hotel. Starbucks has opted to charge nearly half the coffee chain’s prices elsewhere in the world - with a cup of coffee costing about 80 ruppees for a small offering and 165 for a large one. Starbucks chief executive Howard Schultz said: “The pricing will be the same across all outlets, despite Starbucks having the reputation of being a high-end premium brand.”
 
Bar Chocolate opens second gastro-pub with “crow-to-go” food servery: Bar Chocolate, the operator of The Elk in the Woods gastro-pub in Islington owned by Astrid Skelly and Katy Rumm, has opened a second site, The Hundred Crows Rising on the corner of Chapel Market and Penton Street – it was previously called The Compass.  It’s operating a “crow-on-the-go’ service from a stable door on Penton Street where customers can “grab breakfast, lunch or dinner from a hatch if they don’t have time to stay.  The site has a passing rent and was acquired with an existing rent of £50,000 per annum from Big Nose Promotions.
 
Jamie’s Italian set for Greenwich: Jamie’s Italian will open in Greenwich next year on the site of the former Bar du Musee, in Nelson Road, which was operated by Frank Dowling’s Inc Group. Bar du Musee had been operating from the site since the 1960s, first starting out as a wine bar. Meanwhile, Inc Group has plans to re-launch Inc Bar in November as well as a complete refurbishment of the Trafalgar Tavern, with the installment of 15 hotel rooms.

Antic walks away from Norwood site: Antic, the fast-expanding and highly regarded London operator, has decided not to develop a new pub in Norwood which it had planned to call Knowles of Norwood. The company has said it is “actively looking for a new site” in Norwood.
 
Punch Taverns pub to re-open with tuck shop in the garden: A West Midlands pub, The Queen’s Head in Wednesbury, is to re-open on 2 November after a £250,000 with a tuck shop in the garden. The pub, originally dating back to the early 1900s, has received a joint investment costing £250,000 by leaseholder Tim Swain and owners Punch. Swain said: “We also wanted the pub to appeal to families and be more user-friendly overall, so we have invested in outdoor facilities.”

Café Jika Jika to open second Bath site: Bath café Jika Jika is to open a second branch in the city. Jika Jika is the latest name to sign up to The Vaults development at Southgate. The George Street cafe was opened by former Bath Rugby prop Matt Stevens and his onetime team-mate Lee Mears three years ago. The business will be joining Bertinet Bakery and The Graze Bar, Brewery and Chophouse, owned by Bath Ales, which have both confirmed they will be part of the new Brunel Square development next to Bath Spa station, which is due to open next month.

Domino’s to be offered as an option at 50-plus UK stadia after successful Leicester trial: Lindley Venue Catering is to expand Domino’s Pizza as an option to its client base of 50-plus football and rugby stadia after pizza sales increased ten-fold at the first site – Leicester Tiger’s Welford Road ground. The move opens up a new sector for Domino’s as the business seeks to find new distribution channels for the business.  Domino’s chief executive Lance Bachelor told Morning Briefing: “Every day in Britain there are thousands of people in airports, railway stations, supermarkets and service stations who are not our customers and we want them to try our product because we are so proud of it. We believe once they have tried it they will come back to us in a more traditional shopping environment.  We are now open in the Leicester Tigers Stadium and that means that every Saturday 20,000 people are exposed to Domino’s pizza. And once they have tried it we believe they will then purchase from their local franchisee. Tesco and Moto are a couple of trials we did in the last couple of years that did not pay out the kind of numbers we were looking for – that’s fine, we are not embarrassed about that. The Leicester Tigers Stadium trial started a few weeks ago and we are learning lots of really interesting stuff.  We are trialing being able to order from your seats and the other is hawking – this has been successful in Australia so there is no reason why this won’t work too.” Jonathan Davies, Lindley Group’s sales & marketing director, said: “We decided to team up with Domino’s because it’s the leading brand in the take home pizza market and we wanted a dynamic and ambitious partner who we could work with to tailor the offering to suit a sports stadia and large venue environment. We also want to offer fans pizzas which use fresh ingredients and are made and cooked to order - rather than reheating a frozen or chilled product - and the arrangement with Domino’s enables us to do this.” The range of individual seven-inch Domino’s pizzas with a choice of three toppings was created specifically for hand-held eating in a match-day environment.

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