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Mon 29th Oct 2012 - Hall & Woodhouse, Luminar and Nando’s

Story of the day:

Luminar flagship nightclub has licence suspended for 14 days after fatal stabbing: Nightclub company Luminar’s flagship Oceania site in Kingston-upon-Thames has had its licence suspended for 14 days after the fatal stabbing of a 20-year-old man in the early hours of last Thursday. Kingston councillors made the decision at an emergency licensing meeting on Friday afternoon, which meant it has been closed over the weekend. The council suspended the license after an application from the Metropolitan Police ahead of another committee meeting, where the club will be given the chance to make representations. Council leader Derek Osbourne said: “This is clearly the right thing to do when there has been a stabbing in a nightclub and concerns over security arrangements, particularly as this is a club that in the past his given the police a cause for concern. It is proper that we give ourselves the space to get all the information to make a considered long term decision.” The Kingston site has regularly been the best-performing nightclub in the Luminar estate and was sold for £7.5m on a sale and leaseback deal at the start of October. The administration of Luminar a year ago highlighted the large number of claims faced by a late-night business. Administrator Ernst & Young had to pay a £250,000 insurance premium when it was running the business for a seven-week period up until December. The premium was paid in the context of 75 outstanding personal injury claims totalling £1.2m from the trading period prior to its appointment. The administrator said: “Due to a large number of historic claims and a fatality at the Northampton club prior to the administration, the premium for the period was £250,000, which was considerably higher in proportion to the premium paid pre-appointment.” Ernst & Young also had nine claims during its seven-week administration trading period, with an excess on its insurance policy of £15,000 per claim. 

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

ALMR National Restaurant Show Study Tour in Chicago opens for bookings: The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) has opened its study tour to the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago in May 2013 for bookings. Next year’s visit takes place between Thursday 16 May and Monday 20 May. The ALMR launched its first study tour trip to the NRA show this year, with the trip led by Propel Morning Briefing managing director Paul Charity. The NRA draws 58,000-plus industry professionals from all 50 states and 100 countries, all seeking the newest innovations and up-to-the-minute information about trends and issues. The ALMR trip provides: insights from industry experts on the rise in fast-casual dining, social media, new and emerging brands, menu development, staff management and a host of other issues – with 70 free education sessions; involves a tour of Chicago’s hottest concepts and a market overview briefing sessions from US experts. ALMR chief executive Nick Bish said: “Our first trip in May this year was a tremendous success with our attendees reporting they had benefited enormously from the visit to the Show and the chance to study the key trends in the innovative US market.” Paul Charity, managing director of Propel Info, said: “The NRA show is a fantastic opportunity to find fresh inspiration and understand the emerging trends shaping the fast-changing US market.” To book a place e-mail Jo Charity on or call her (01444) 810304. Places are limited.

Industry news:

Sunday People backs scrapping of beer duty escalator: Sunday tabloid The Sunday People has backed the move to end the beer duty escalator due to be debated in Parliament this Thursday. Andrew Griffiths, leader of the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group, said: “Governments of all colours have clobbered the brewing industry and thousands of pubs have closed as a result. Unless we scrap this tax we could see the death of the traditional British pint in the great British pub.”

Brewery boss Paul Wells urges MPs to support pub trade in escalator debate: Charles Wells chief executive Paul Wells has urged Bedfordshire MPs to attend Thursday’s House of Commons debate on the beer duty escalator. He told Bedfordshire on Sunday: “Duty and VAT on beer cost the typical pub around £66,000 per year, and tax is now on average over a pound a pint. We have seen huge increases in our tax burden, and any further rises are just not sustainable. We want to be creating more local jobs and wealth, which is certainly possible without excessive taxation. I hope that our Bedfordshire MPs will heed local concerns, attend this important debate and support our brewing and pub trade by voting for a review of the beer duty escalator.”

Cheesecake Factory reports profits surge: Cheesecake Factory, the US brand that take $10m a site and is looking for a UK site, has reported a 32 per cent increase in profit in its latest quarter on the back of traffic growth that has defied casual-dining trends. Brands such as Buffalo Wild Wings, Chili’s and Maggiano’s have reported negative like-for-likes or warned of cautious consumers in reporting late summer results so far. But Cheesecake Factory reported meaningful gains in sales during off-peak shoulder periods of mid-afternoon and late night.

Nightclubs turn to social media to stave off decline: The Economist magazine has reported that social media has become the key tool in the declining nightclub industry. They recruit promoters to post links to their club nights. After a night out, photos of revellers appear on friends’ Facebook feeds, branded with the club’s logo. Peter Marks, chief executive of Luminar, reported that 1.2m people view these pictures every month. A third of nightclubs have shut in the past five years and the market value of the industry has fallen from £1.8 billion to £1.4 billion since 2007, according to Mintel.

Coca-Cola to launch “beauty drinks” in partnership with drugs firm: Soft drinks company Coca-Cola is teaming with a French drugs manufacturer to launch a new line of beauty drinks that it claims will carry weight loss and other well-being benefits. Coca-Cola and pharmaceutical company Sanofi will start selling the Beautific Oenobiol brand later this autumn as part of a small-scale pilot to a limited number of outlets across France. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal the range of four Oenobiol drinks will be made of mineral water, fruit juice and nutrition additives. They will come with claims that they ‘help strengthen hair and nails, embellish skin, lose weight and improve vitality’.

Company news:

Hall & Woodhouse reports turnover and pre-tax profit increase: Dorset brewer and retailer Hall & Woodhouse has reported a four per cent increase in turnover to £94,129,000 in the year to 28 January 2012. Pre-tax profit rose 2.3 per cent to £5,722,00. Chairman Mark Woodhouse said: “Against a backdrop of continued difficult economic conditions (the) company has continued to make good progress both strategically and financially across all business sectors.” He said organic growth across all divisions “is particularly pleasing” in view of the economic headwinds “causing lower consumer confidence and rising material, utility, banking costs and beer duty”. The company had property disposals that raised £2.6m, down from £8m the year before when surplus land next to its Plough in Horsham was sold. “It is vital that we continue to recycle capital out of public houses that are not viable in the long term to reinvest in hose of the future,” said Woodhouse. Despite building a new brewery, net debt only increased £1.63m to £44.96m. The company has a £60m facility in place to allow it to take “advantage of any opportunities in the market place should they met the company’s investment criteria”. Woodhouse added: “During the year I visited all our pubs which are perhaps in the best condition that they have ever been, essential in the highly competitive environment. Our new brewery has turned out exceptionally well and is a real tribute to the British manufacturers who have built us something to be exceptionally proud of.” The company’s gross margin, the ratio of operating profit before interest and property disposals to sales expressed as a percentage, stood at 8.2 per cent, up from 8.1 per cent the year before. Return on invested capital was 7.6 per cent, up from 7.4 per cent the year before. 

Loungers to open in New Brighton, Merseyside before Christmas: Loungers, the café bar chain headed by Alex Reilley, will start work this week on a new site in the north west, located at the Marine Point Leisure Development in New Brighton, Merseyside – it is expected to open before Christmas. The 3,000 square foot venue, to be called Marino Lounge, will join a host of other operators at the development - Prezzo, Café Cream, Hungry Horse, Starbucks and a Brooklyns Restaurant, the first opening of a anticipated roll-out brand by American-born restaurateur Keith Gurney. The leisure development is anchored by an eight-screen cinema.

Nando’s swings into profit after turnover jump: Pipi piri chicken specialist Nando’s has reported a pre-tax profit of £14,730,000 in the year to 26 February 2013 after a loss of £7,080,000 the year before. The company saw turnover jump from £330,760,000 to £419,592,00 in the wake of buying a 70 per cent stake in Gourmet Burger Kitchen – Nando’s acquired a further three per cent stake in the business during the year. The gross profit margin climbed to 30 per cent from 27 per cent the year before. The total number of restaurants operated by Nando’s increased from 295 to 313 during the year, including 53 restaurants acquired through the Gourmet Burger Kitchen deal. Nando’s described the UK restaurant scene as “very competitive and fragmented” and that “new concepts are constantly” being introduced to an “expanding customer base”. However, it argued that Nando’s offers “a unique product” and Gourmet Burger Kitchen offers “superior quality products”. Nando’s paid a royalty fee of five per cent of net turnover – worth £19.1m – to Tortolli BV for the use of the Nando’s brand. 

McDonald’s to start selling bags of ground coffee in Canada: McDonald’s will begin selling bags of ground coffee at its restaurants in Canada next month, a move that is forecast to spread to other countries if the move is successful. The company said the ground coffee will be available in the majority of its 1,400 Canadian stores by 8 November. The packages will weigh about 340 grams (about 12 ounces) and cost about seven Canadian dollars (£5). McDonald’s has filed a trademark for “McCafe” ground and whole bean coffee last month.

Top food pub, part-owned by Oakman Inns, to launch a cook book: The award-winning British Larder pub, a Punch Taverns pub in Suffolk run by Ross Pike and Madalene Bonvini-Hamel, is to launch its own cook-book. The book “British Larder: A Cookbook For All Seasons”, is published on 22 November. Oakman Inns chief executive Peter Borg-Neal said: “Ross Pike and Madalene Bonvini-Hamel really deserve all this recognition for their incredible hard work, focus and commitment over the last two and a half years. They are pathfinders for the next generation of food-led pubs and I would thoroughly recommend that industry colleagues pay them a visit at some point. Not only will they have a great meal I am sure they will come away inspired.” On Friday, Propel Morning Briefing reported that Oakman Inns had secured its seventh site, a retail unit in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire that will undergo a £800,000 fit-out before opening to the public in April 2013. The acquisition is the second in recent months following The Crown and Thistle in Abingdon-upon-Thames.

Chinese restaurant operator plans biggest restaurant in Liverpool: Grosvenor Developments has let 22,000 square foot of space to Chinese restaurant operator Tai Pan in its leisure block containing the new Premier Inn on the edge of Liverpool One. Tai Pan plans to trade from the largest restaurant unit in Liverpool under the Tai Wu brand. The new letting follows on from the success of the first Tai Wu, opened recently in Manchester, and brings a restaurant to the location of the first ever Chinese restaurant in Liverpool - The Phoenix - which was housed in the former NCP multi-storey which Grosvenor demolished in 2009. The leisure building, called the Beat, comprises seven new retail and leisure units totalling 34,000 sq ft. The development also accommodates a 198-bed Premier Inn sitting above the retail and leisure space.

Total of 15 Harvester sites trial new menu: A small group of around 15 Harvesters, the 205-strong brand owned by Mitchells & Butlers that serves just under 30 million meals a year, are trialing a new menu this month. New dishes include PiriPiri Wings in the starters section, a potato skins platter to share and a back bacon & guacamole gourmet burger off the grill. A new Hall of Flame section has been introduced, which includes combos with twists – new items include lamb & coriander burger, a sticky Jack Daniel’s combo and Fireball chilli combo. Harvester is also offering a free soft drink with takeaways, valid until 14 November.

Crown Carveries offers free kids food for half term: Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) 110-strong Crown Carveries brand, which serves the largest umber of meals per week per pub of any brand at M&B, is offering free meals for under-10s during half term, running 27 October to 3 November. The free offer comes with very adult meal served. Last week, Morning Briefing reported M&B has moved to introduce small plates across its entire 110-strong chain. The expansion of small plates, priced at £3.69, follows a successful trial at 20 sites. The move is counter-intuitive – looking to charge customers less than the normal price for a smaller plate - but could be the route to higher margins at the high-volume business. The Crown Carveries business charges £4.19 for a full-sized carvery Monday to Saturday and £7.29 on a Sunday.

Slug & Lettuce site holds free Costa Coffee giveaway: Stonegate Pub Company is holding a free coffee giveaway at its Slug and Lettuce on Weybridge High Street on the morning of Tuesday 6 November as a way of tempting customers to have a full breakfast at the site. Laura Andrews, from Slug and Lettuce tells customers in publicity material: “We are giving away a free medium cup of Costa coffee – a cup normally starts from £2.25. We are offering both take out and drink-in cups but why not make the most of our generosity and make it a treat with one of our full English breakfasts?”

JD Wetherspoon wins go-ahead in Abingdon: JD Wetherspoon has been granted a drinks licence for the former Post Office building in Abingdon’s High Street. Wetherspoon’s spokesman Eddie Gershon said: “We are delighted to be granted a licence for the old Post Office – this is a massive step for us. We still need to complete on the deal but hopefully this permission will speed up the process.”

Derby micro-pub receives opposition: A plan to transform a former dry-cleaning business into a micro-pub have divided opinion among nearby residents. Walter Scott was granted planning permission in July to create the Little Chester Ale House in Chester Green Road. But an application to Derby City Council for a licence to sell alcohol from the traditional alehouse, which will have room for up to 30 people, has prompted 89 objections and 17 letters of support. The application, which will be discussed by councillors this week, states the pub would only serve beers, wines and soft drinks and would avoid big-screen TVs, playing loud music, and other entertainment. It would be open from 11am until 10.30pm with last orders at 10pm.

Camerons installs mobile interactive television system into pub: Hartlepool-based Camerons has installed a mobile phone interactive television system, ivuTV, into its pubs. Chris Soley, director and general manager of Camerons Brewery, said: “ivuTV brings a whole new dimension to watching TV in the pub.”Licensess can use part of a TV screen during sports events as advertising space, so that it can persuade local firms and organisations to take out adverts on their specific TV screen.” The system also allows the pub to offer interactive games and social media with its own customers, such as in-house competitions that customers can access through their own mobile phone links to the TV. The hope is that customers will be persuaded to stay longer to see if they have won prizes. Soley added: “This platform offers a range of options for recouping some of (the) cost and adding further returns on showing live sport.”

Greene King gets go-ahead for “boring” Hungry Horse; asked to move kids play area at proposed Stafford site: Greene King has won planning consent to build a new Hungry Horse on a former school site in Brislington, Bristol. There were 71 objections to the proposals and 14 comments in support of the pub. Local resident Catherine Lillis-James told the local newspaper: “Many residents will be disappointed that this application has been allowed. It doesn’t fit in with the creative and imaginative aspirations of the area. Brislington is known for The Paintworks and being a creative area. This pub is boring and there is nothing about it that is inspirational or interesting.” Meanwhile, an application to build a Hungry Horse in Castlefields, Stafford has been sent back to Greene King after concerns that a children’s play area is too close to the road.

Barrister opens £1m Leicester nightclub: Former barrister Panos Toulouras has opened a £1 million nightclub, Sosho, in Leicester’s Humberstone Gate, occupying a building that was most recently occupied by Life nightclub. The club has capacity for 1,500 people and the £1 million investment has seen the installation of a cocktail and champagne bar, booths, an LED dancefloor and Moroccan theme terrace complete with sheesha pipes. Toulouras said: “It has a boutique feel, it looks quite plush but we’ve made sure it is value for money too because we understand people don’t have a lot of extra cash – we don’t want to price ourselves out. We want to make the night-time economy in Leicester healthier because we need to have more people coming into the city.”

Chimichanga set for Halifax Broad Street Plaza: Mexican restaurant chain Chimichanga has confirmed it will move into the Broad Street Plaza in Halifax. Chimichanga, owned by Prezzo , has committed to take unit 13, between a Harvester and Pure Gym, on a 25-year lease. It will be the ninth restaurant in the Plaza after Nando’s, TGI Friday, Frankie and Benny’s, PizzaExpress, The Chinese Buffet, JD Wetherspoon, the aforementioned Harvester and a Beefeater.

Burnham café businesses mobilise to oppose Costa opening: Businesses in Burnham are following the lead of Totnes, Devon in opposing a Costa Coffee opening in the High Street where a Lloyds Pharmacy is currently located. Penny Fuchs, owner of neighbouring Mulberry Bites, said: “It gets my blood boiling. When I found out I was obviously very upset. It’s four doors down and we will be in direct competition with them. It won’t be good news for us if they open.” She has teamed up with the owners of Woodstock Café, also in High Street, to hand out leaflets encouraging people to oppose the application, and has written to South Bucks District Council to voice her concerns.

Joseph Holt buys south Manchester pub: Manchester brewer and retailer Joseph Holt has bought the Horse & Jockey, a pub in south Manchester, from the Hoi Polloi Pub Company for an undisclosed sum. Hoi Polloi had undertaken major renovations at the site, in the suburb of Chorlton, since it acquired it in 2008. Rebecca Daniels, marketing manager for Joseph Holt, said: “We are so excited about the addition of the Horse & Jockey to our estate. It is a pub that oozes charm and is located in a vibrant and funky area, which is hugely reflected by its clientele. Holts has very much adopted the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it approach’ with this pub. The staff will remain the same, along with the beer offering and friendly atmosphere.”

Boisdale swings from loss to profit: Boisdale, the four-strong chain of Tartan-carpeted steak and seafood restaurants, has reported a pre-tax profit of £235,000 in the year to April 2012, compared to a loss of £585,000 the year before. Turnover doubled to £10.5m. On Friday, the company will open a pop-up bar and oyster shack at the ice-rink at Canary Wharf in east London.

Former Eldridge Pope brewery site re-opens as restaurant and cinema complex: Part of the former Eldridge Pope brewery site in Dorchester, Dorset, has re-opened as a multiplex cinema and restaurant site, Brewery Square. Among the restaurants to occupy the site are Nando’s, Carluccio’s, PizzaExpress, Wagamama, Café Rouge and Zizzi. Brewing on the site ended in 2003.

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