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Tue 6th Nov 2012 - Bill’s, SA Brains and Chester Bars

Story of the day:

Rosinter hires more UK expertise; Premium Country Dining Group consultants to reinvigorate Il Patio concept: Rosinter, the Russian restaurant operator headed by former Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) executive Kevin Todd, has hired the brains behind M&B’s Premium Country Dining Group to turn its Il Patio restaurant brand into an all-day offer. Todd has hired Paul Salisbury, Paul Hales and Sue Salisbury on a 12-month contract to re-launch the brand. The first new generation site will open in central Moscow on 9 December, with plans to open three in total within six months. Paul Salisbury told Morning Briefing: “We’re bringing our touches to things like décor, uniforms and improving the quality of ingredients. We’re working on two pilot sites, both in central Moscow. The brand is very much a restaurant at the moment and we’re aiming to strengthen the day-parts and make it more informal. There are some great concepts in Moscow but I think we can make a difference. The people we’re working with are very keen, very easy to communicate with and keen to see a change. We’re applying elements of our Orange Tree pub, which is very Italian-influenced.” A Rosinter chef spent last week in the UK, working at sites within the trio’s Lovely Pubs estate, six high quality pubs in the Birmingham area – four more chefs have arrived this week. So far, two trips have been made to Moscow to work on the up-dated Il Patio with a third planned soon. Salisbury said he expected to travel to Moscow every three months to monitor the development of Il Patio. Last month, Morning Briefing reported that Rosinter had also hired Wagamama creator Alan Yau to re-invigorate its 145-strong Planet Sushi chain. 

Industry news:

Land Securities buys Manchester’s Printworks complex: Land Securities has bought The Printworks leisure venue in Manchester city centre for £93.9m from Resolution Property, a London-based fund, as it continues its expansion in the sector. The Printworks is currently 93 per cent let to a variety of operators. It houses 20-screen Odeon Cinema and 19 restaurants, bars and nightclubs including Tiger Tiger, Wagamama, Hard Rock Café and Nando’s. The complex, developed in 2000, attracted more than nine million visitors in 2011.

Starbucks aims to reach 20,000 global stores by 2014: Starbucks will accelerate growth next year with 1,300 new locations planned, including circa 600 in the US and another 600 in the China and Asia Pacific region. This year, the company opened 1,063 new sites globally. Founder Howard Schultz said the 18,066-unit chain, which is already in 61 countries, was on track to reach 20,000 units on six continents by 2014. He added: “We’ve been able to thread the needle to maintain and preserve and enhance our premium position as a premium brand while at the same time offering and creating value propositions for our customers that in no way dilute the equity of the brand, but reward our customers.”

Sky customers offered the chance to win a year’s free subscription: Sky customers are being offered the chance to win a year’s free subscription. Customers are currently receiving their new Sky licence, which should be displayed in their premises to provide instant recognition that they are an official and authorised Sky venue. Until 3 December customers that text in their unique licence number stand a chance of winning their commercial subscription free for a year. For the chance to win this fantastic prize, licensed customers in the UK and Republic of Ireland who subscribe to Sky should text ‘Free Sky’ followed by the last 6 digits of their new 2012/13 Sky License to 87755 (UK) or +447860035380 (ROI) for customers outside the UK.

Survey discovers factors likely to lead to pub visits in January: A YouGov survey of more than 2,000 people, commissioned by pub media and marketing experts Inapub, has revealed the factors that would draw customers into pubs in January after Christmas festivities have ended. The key drivers that will make them return are: 58 per cent of all people – and 63 per cent of women – would be more likely to visit a pub in January if it was running a meal deal; one in four people (23 per cent) would be more tempted to visit if a pub was holding a live music night; a quarter of men (23 per cent) are more likely to visit if live sport is being screened. The survey forms part of Inapub’s ‘All We Want’ campaign, which encourages pubs to get creative with events and offers to ensure customers return to the pub in the New Year. The survey forms part of Inapub’s ‘All We Want’ campaign, which encourages pubs to get creative with events and offers to ensure customers return to the pub in the New Year. Hundreds of thousands of pub customers are being invited to iLike their locals via www.inapub.co.uk and Inapub’s iPhone and Android apps, with iPads up for grabs as prizes.

Labour Party backs £7.45 an hour living wage: The Labour Party has proposed a “living wage” of at least £7.45 per hour for millions of people if it wins the next election. Others backing the living wage include the Scottish government, which says all staff will get the living wage, and London mayor Boris Johnson, who said it made economic sense. The living wage - which is £7.45 per hour across the UK except for London where it is £8.55 per hour - does not have any legal force, but is part of a campaign by the Living Wage Foundation and Citizens UK. Leader Ed Miliband said: “Too many people in Britain are doing the right thing and doing their bit, helping to build the prosperity on which our country depends, but aren’t sharing fairly in the rewards.”

CGA Strategy – pub salads may be over-priced: Pub salad sales in pubs are outnumbered by burgers by more than four to one – and this could be due to being over-priced, according to CGA Strategy. The consumption of salads in pubs remains lower than favourites such as burgers, roasts and even scampi, according to research undertaken as part of CGA Strategy’s Trading Index and Food Price Monitor programmes. Pubs now sell an average of 26 salads per week at an average price of £7.63. “Although we are seeing more and more quality-seeking diners in pubs, the current price positioning of salads could be having a negative impact on sales, as customers still seek value from their visits,” said CGA Strategy’s Tom Lynch. “With the price of salads so significantly higher than the majority of other main meal items, it does seem like you have to spend pounds to shed pounds in our pubs.”

Company news:

Late night operator Eclectic reports EBITDA of £2.9 million; looks to acquire three or four sites a year: Late night operator Eclectic Bars, part-owned by Avanti Capital, has reported sales of £19.6 million (2010: £15.5 million), site EBITDA of £4.8million (2011: £4.1 million) and company EBITDA of £2.9 million (2010: £2.2 million) in the 12 months to the end of June 2012. During the year the company opened new Lola Lo sites in Bournemouth, Edinburgh, Reading and Lincoln, bringing the total to eight. The company stated: “Since the year end, new funding has been put in place with Barclays Bank to enable the business to acquire three to four sites a year. A further exciting development since the year-end has been the announcement that the company has entered into a management contract to operate 33 restaurants, bars and nightclubs on behalf of PBR Leisure Limited. PBR Leisure owns The Living Room, a leading premium bar and restaurant brand, operating 14 sites, and a portfolio of 19 other bar, nightclub and hotel businesses operated across the UK. This now brings the total number of sites operated by Eclectic to 49 sites.” In September 2012, Eclectic successfully concluded additional banking facilities from Barclays Bank comprising a new three-year Revolving Loan Facility of £1.5 million which is available for both refit of existing sites and for new acquisitions.

New company Chester Bars buys iconic Nantwich nightspot: A new company, Chester Bars, led by late-night veteran Nigel Woodhouse and two co-directors, has bought the iconic Gregory’s nightclub in Nantwich from Atmosphere Bars and Clubs. Chester Bars took over the venue at the weekend and will trade it for a few months before developing the entertainment offer at the site – a stage will be installed on the middle floor of the three-storey building to host live acts. Woodhouse said: “Gregory’s Nightclub in Nantwich has been entertaining the people of south Cheshire for well over 30 years, and we plan to continue doing that. We will be refreshing the interior of the club over the next six months and making changes so we can accommodate a more diverse entertainment offer.” Woodhouse, who has an interest in another venue in the area, has had a long career in the late-night sector, working for First Leisure, Northern Leisure and Luminar – he was the general manager of Gregory’s for a period in the 1990s, when it was owned by Northern Leisure. Atmosphere Bars and Clubs will be reinvesting the money raised from the sale into its core Chicago’s business.

La Tasca report five per cent sale growth: La Tasca, the tapas chain headed by Simon Wilkinson that went through a Company Voluntary Agreement at the end of September, has reported that its beaten its October forecast for sales and Ebitda with five per cent like-for-like sales growth in the last two weeks combined to reflect half-term comparisons. It is also 15,000 covers up on the same point last year for Christmas bookings. Wilkinson said: “The hard work and radical change programme that has happened over the last 18 months is now starting to show traction which is just reward for the efforts put in by everyone within the company. The quality of food has been a massive driver in changing the guests’ preconceived perception of the brand and it is encouraging to see lapsed guests returning again. Post-Christmas, we look forward to stage two of the brand development which will start in the New Year with the redesign of the Trafford Centre and the first La Tasca to La Vina stage two conversion trial.”

Ilkley Brewery gets shot in the arm from Dragon’s Den mentor: Businesswoman Deborah Meaden has reported that the progress of Ilkley Brewery has been given “powerful” momentum after it won her mentoring as a prize in a Local Business Accelerators campaign. As the national winner of the competition, Ilkley Brewery won a year’s mentoring from Meaden, who appears in the BBC’s Dragons’ Den programme, and a local advertising campaign devised by a top London creative agency. Ilkley Brewery was set up in 2009 with an initial investment of £50,000. The business is forecasting revenues of £1.2m for 2012, with a target of £2m for 2013.

Fire at Luminar site linked to fire breather: A fire at Luminar’s Liquid and Envy on Basilson’s Festival Leisure Park on Saturday that broke out in the ceiling just before 2am has been linked anecdotally to a fire breather on the premises. Witnesses interviewed by television news outside the club spoke of a stilt-walker and a man breathing fire on the premises.

JD Wetherspoon plans first site in mid-Wales: JD Wetherspoon has submitted plans to open its first branch in Mid Wales – in the town of Newtown, which has a population of 12,783. Plans have been lodged to turn the Black Boy Hotel in Broad Street, Newtown, into a new venue. Newtown Town Council’s planning committee will meet tomorrow to put together its formal response to the application. Eddie Gershon, company spokesman, said: “We are very keen to own a pub in Newtown and we are delighted we are at this stage with this pub.”

SA Brains plans Coffee #1 site in Pershore: Cardiff-based SA Brains has applied to open a branch of its Coffee #1 chain in Pershore. A number of cafes and tea shops have launched petitions against the application to convert the former Ezee Personal Computer shop at 12 High Street. Local resident Peter Johnson told the local newspaper that the chain is “right” for Pershore. He said: “I would welcome Coffee #1 and I know I am not alone. I can’t imagine we have enough of a footfall to attract the larger chains, but with it being a small chain having grown organically in the South West, I think this is the right sort of company to provide a boost to the economy of Pershore, and attract people who may be drinking coffee and spending money elsewhere.”

Tavistock Leisure begins brewing at Sonnet 43 Brew House: Tavistock Leisure, the north east multiple headed by Mark Hird, has begun brewing at its new Sonnet 43 Brew House, next to the Kicking Cuddy pub, in Coxhoe, County Durham. Production currently stands at around 20 brewers’ barrels per week of Steam Beer (ABV 3.8 per cent), India Pale Ale (4.4 per cent), Brown Ale (4.7 per cent) and American Pale Ale (5.4 per cent). Tavistock Leisure has spent £200,000 creating the brewery. Hird said: “I hope that the development of the Sonnet 43 Brew House will mark the start of a new venture for me which will eventually include microbreweries and traditional brew pubs across the north-east.”

Lucky Onion team plans Cheltenham boutique hotel and restaurant: Lucky Onion, the company that runs the Tavern in Cheltenham, The Wheatsheaf in Northleach, and The Chequers in Churchill, is planning to convert a Regency building into a boutique hotel and restaurant for the town. Husband and wife team Georgie and Sam Pearman are working with business partner Julian Dunkerton, chief executive of Superdry, to transform the building into two bars, a restaurant, wine room, private dining rooms, and a games room. An orangery would be built to the rear of the building, with a bar and dining space for eating out in the summer, along with a venue for large parties and weddings. Outside, the forecourt overlooking Imperial Square would be turned into a landscaped drinking and dining area.

North-east restaurateur launches ready meal range: North east restaurateur Bill Oldfield has launched a range of ready meals which he hopes to sell nationally. Oldfield has created nine different meals, which are initially being sold from Fenwick in Newcastle and from his restaurant, Oldfields Eating House in Durham. The frozen meals, including slow-cooked shin beef casserole, rabbit and black pudding casserole and pan haggerty, are made to exactly the same recipes as those served in the restaurant. Oldfield said: “It came about because we had a number of customers who liked the basic meals we did in the restaurant and asked if they could have them at home.” Plans to market the range to a wider audience include selling online with overnight delivery. Oldfield hopes the diversification will create around a dozen jobs in the next three years.

Brewdog to launch the 2012 Prototype Challenge: Scottish brewer and retailer Brewdog is planning to launch the 2012 Prototype Challenge in early December. The company will brew three new beers to be sold online and customers vote for their favourite. The company stated: “Look out for a hoppy low ABV pilsner, a savage IPA and a decadent imperial Russian stout.”

Kornicis lines up two Jamies sites: Bar operator Kornicis Group has opened a new Jamies Wine Bar in London Tudor Street, near Blackfriars station, on the site of the former Witness Box bar - a full refurbishment will take place in the New Year. Kornicis Group, run by Nick Tamblyn, will convert its Borough Bar, close to the Shard, into a Jamies after Christmas. Kornicis operates 20 bars and restaurants, including sites trading within the Smollensky’s and Henry J Bean’s formats. The company was created in August 2008, when 17 bars and restaurants were acquired from the Food and Drink Group.

Brighton licensee goes multi-site with iconic Greys pub: Brighton licensee Nathan Wright has taken on his second venue in Brighton, The Greys in Southover Street. Previous licensees of the pub failed to agree new terms on the lease. Wright is a licensee of the neighbouring The Geese pub.

Mexican restaurant brand Lupita opens second site: Mexican restaurant group Lupita, operated in partnership with Mexico based company El Farolito, has opened a second site in London. The new venue is in Spitalfields and has 120 covers – the first Lupita opened in Villiers Street in 2010.

Restaurant brands Nando’s and Jamie’s Italian to accept Restaurant Choice gift vouchers: Restaurant chains Nando’s and Jamie’s Italian have started to accept Restaurant Choice gift vouchers with a view to penetrating the highly lucrative corporate market – the vouchers are often used to incentivise and reward employees and customers. Available in denominations of £10 or £25, the gift vouchers have no restrictions and can be spent at any time, on anything (including set menus, drinks and on deli purchases) in a selection of well-known brands, including - Yo! Sushi, Strada, The Real Greek, Café Rouge and Bella Italia. Jamie’s Italian managing director Simon Blagden said: “We’re delighted to team up with The Restaurant Choice. It’s an exciting opportunity for us and we look forward to working with them.” Jenny Cuthbert, director at Restaurant Choice said: “We’re of course delighted to have two iconic brands such as Nando’s and Jamie’s Italian join our gift voucher scheme. The Restaurant Choice is not a discount scheme, hence their participation.”

K10 Sushi secures second site: Japanese sushi brand K10 Sushi has acquired a second site at Appold Street, Broadgate, a former Ping Pong establishment, that has a rent of £120,000 per annum for 5,400 square foot of space. David Rawlinson, of Restaurant Property, which acted for K10, stated: “K10 is a great fit for time-pressed City workers who want quick healthy food at a good value price point.”

Award-winning restaurant up for sale: The award-winning Scottish restaurant and bar, The Elliston Grill, is officially on the market and looking for a new operator. Property agent Christie and Co, is selling the restaurant , which is located in the village Howwood in Renfrewshire. Opened in 2010, the grill underwent a total refurbishment by the current owners Catherine and Billy Murphy.

Tchenguiz R&L pub in Hastings bought by tenants: The Jenny Lind pub in Hastings, East Sussex, part of the Robert Tchenguiz R&L Pubs estate, has been bought by the sitting tenants off an asking price of £475,000. Robert Cockayne, of agent Christie + Co, said: “Jenny Lind was sold freehold to the existing tenants - sales of this type are becoming increasingly popular as people realise that pubs without any trade ties can be considerably more profitable than those on tied leases.” 

Darwin & Wallace acquires The Ebury in Pimlico for first site: New bar and restaurant company Darwin & Wallace, backed by the Imbiba Partnership Bar and Restaurant EIS fund, has acquired The Ebury in Pimlico, an Enterprise Inns pub, for its first site. The Ebury will be re-launched and offer a new all-day, casual bar dining experience with an emphasis on “interior aesthetics, fresh, scratch-cooked food and first rate service” as well as a wide-ranging drinks offer. The Ebury will provide an all-day menu featuring brasserie classics alongside an extensive breakfast and weekend brunch menu as well as smaller dishes for bar grazing and social sharing. The intention is to provide “superb value-for-money in a great setting at whatever time of day, or moment of the week”. At the heart of the business will be the bar providing comprehensive wine and cocktail lists to encourage locals to frequent the site for social drinks or after-work catch-ups. Darwin & Wallace forecasts a targeted spend between £25 and £30 per head with food accounting for around 40 per cent of sales. Once The Ebury is established, Darwin & Wallace aim to grow the business with further sites between 5,000 square foot to 7,000 square foot predominantly in affluent London ‘villages’ including Chiswick, Chelsea, Kensington, Knightsbridge, Notting Hill, Soho, Fitzrovia, West End, Hampstead/Haverstock Hill, Camden, Islington and Shoreditch. Darwin & Wallace is led by managing director Melanie Marriott, who has considerable experience in the creation of female-friendly and food led bars on the UK high street, most notably as brand manager of Mitchells & Butlers’ All Bar One. She said: “We are delighted to have found the perfect opportunity with The Ebury site to launch Darwin and Wallace. The property is in a wonderful neighbourhood location and will be a strong setting from which to launch our new creation. During the design process we have drawn inspiration from the eclectic furniture and interiors collections of neighbouring antiques retailers for which the area is famed. Combined with the knowledge of our designers gleaned from their extensive, worldwide research trips and that of my own, we hope to create an original, stylish and comfortable bolt-hole. The space will aim to appeal throughout the day and into the evening, to both locals and a wider audience alike. A refurbishment has begun with a re-opened planned for early in 2013.” Launched in August 2012, Darwin & Wallace is the latest bar/restaurant company financed by The Imbiba Partnership whose current investments include London based bar group Drake & Morgan comprising; The Refinery, The Folly, The Anthologist, The Parlour and the recently award-winning The Drift.

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