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Fri 9th Nov 2012 - Antic, Strada and YO! Sushi

Story of the day:

Fund manager Downing LLP reveals multi-site pub company investments; looking for other investments: Fund manager Downing LLP, which launched a Pub EIS fund earlier this year, is funding a further four investments by fast-expanding London pub operator Antic. The pub operator led by Anthony Thomas, already operates a total of 11 freeholds funded by Downing and has three more in development and a fourth site in south London where the company has exchanged on a pub. The latest Downing Pub EIS fund has so far raised £2.5m. Downing has also extended its relationship with East Midlands-based Pub People Company to add five freeholds to the estate – Pub People Company runs seven Downing-owned pubs under management contract and a further five in joint ownership. Downing has invested £200,000 in the development of The Jolly Farmers in Betchworth as a second generation deli-pub which opens today – the company funded the acquisition of owners Jon and Paula Briscoe’s two Mitchells & Butlers freeholds they occupied as tenants in 2010. Michael Hughes, investment manager at Downing, told Morning Briefing: “We are still talking to prospective operators (about investing) and we’re looking to form new relationships in 2013. Investing in Jon and Paula was all about what we could do in terms of developing their sites. The Jolly Farmers turns customers away on a Sunday it’s so busy. It’s taken the Briscoes 12 months to get planning permission to extend the Jolly Farmers but it will be a game-changer on that site.” Meanwhile, the sale of Hoi Polloi’s Pub Company Horse and Jockey to Joseph Holt last week has provided Downing with an exit on its investment. It stated: “Three years after Downing EIS funds backed Hoi Polloi Pub Co to acquire the freehold of the Horse and Jockey in Chorlton, Manchester and following an extensive refurbishment, the company has been sold, delivering on target returns to the Downing funds.”

Industry news:

Food sales in pubs hit £7.5bn – twice the volume of sales in licensed restaurants: Food sales in British pubs totalled £7.5 billion in the last 12 months, making it the biggest single channel in the licensed trade for food - almost twice the size of licensed restaurants. According to a new report from CGA Strategy, pub food value sales are up 4.2 per cent compared to a year ago, with that growth to continue through to 2017. Main courses are the main event: worth £6.2 billion a year, with only one in four diners going on to order a dessert, and just one in five opting for a starter. While the nation’s favourite meal is the humble roast dinner, worth £876 million (12 per cent of total main meal value), with steak and burgers also in the top five. With the popularity of roast dinners in mind it’s perhaps unsurprising that Sunday is the key trading session for food-led pubs, with 22 per cent of food sales happening on the last day of the week. CGA Strategy’s Scott Elliott said: “Our work charts the epic rise of food in pubs from pork scratchings and pickled eggs to the dynamic, diverse and quality-driven landscape evident today. Despite the recession, which has put significant pressure on the licensed trade and caused closure rates in wet-led pubs and sports & social clubs to spike, food-led outlets remain remarkably resilient. It seems that the nation increasingly sees the pub as a first choice for eating out”. The CGA Pub Food Report 2012, released on 8 November, has been developed by food and drink consultancy firm CGA Strategy as a precursor to the launch of a new suite of food insight services. The report findings are based on a combination of data sources, including daily sales data for over 5,000 managed pubs, over eight years of menu analysis from a biannual sample of over 1,000 pubs and restaurants, and market value estimations driven by on trade data.

Brand marketers offered free places at Facebook marketing conference: A total of 100 free places are being offered at the “All Facebook Marketing Conference” on Monday, 19 November 2012 at 200 Aldersgate, St Paul’s London. Adobe will be holding a couple of workshops throughout the day focused entirely on “Facebook Marketing for Brands”. An invitation, issued by Adobe through Propel Morning Briefing, states: “As a guest of Adobe your brands will receive a full conference pass, entry to all the sessions, refreshments, lunch and entry to the after conference networking drinks. The cost for this conference to all other delegates is £450 but brand marketers it is free.” Those wishing to attend should go to: and use the code: ADOBEWS12

Seven new members join the ALMR: Seven new companies have joined the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR). The new companies are Grimsby Pubs, Jones Nightclubs, Millennium Leisure, Rendezvous, New Pub Company and Starlight Leisure. A spokesman for the ALMR said: “The broad mix of late-night, wet-led and food-led businesses reflects the status of the ALMR as the single unified voice for operators across the trade.” Hertfordshire cider company H. Weston & Sons has joined the trade body as a supplier associate.

Top industry operations managers are named: The finalists of the prestigious Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers annual Operations Managers Awards, which aims to identify the sector’s best area managers, have been named. They are: Alex Dawson (Beds and Bars), Andrew King (Enterprise Inns), Andrew Scanlon (Greene King), Benjamin Smith (Charles Wells), Colin Brown (Mitchells & Butlers), Dan Castle (Greene King), David Rowland (Punch Taverns), Donny McIntyre (Spirit Pub Company), Heike Funke (Punch Taverns), Stuart Plant (Punch Taverns), Janet Wallace (Daniel Thwaites), Karen Turton (Spirit Pub Company), Lee Taylor (Scottish & Newcastle), Michael Ekberg (Enterprise Inns), Mike Brown (Everards), Rob Summer (Punch Taverns), Sarah Hey (Spirit Pub Company), Stewart Grant (Scottish & Newcastle), Trevor Hartin (Hall & Woodhouse) and Wayne McGarry (Enterprise Inns). Overall winner will be unveiled at the ALMR Christmas lunch on 13 December.

Molson Coors to invest in premiumisation: Molson Coors has told Marketing Week it will invest heavily in product innovation in an attempt to “premiumise” its portfolio after conceding it is too focused on mainstream brands such as Carling and Coors Light. Swinburn told Marketing Week: “We’re very much skewed towards premiumising the portfolio. And so we’re looking to mix as being a big driver for this over a two-to-three-year period.”

US restaurant sales flat in October: Like-for-like sales were flat at restaurants in the US in October, a slight uplift from the 0.8 per cent decrease reported in September. Customer visits continued the 2012 trend of posting negative results, with a reported decrease of 2.1 per cent. The results seen in October are very similar to the rolling three-month averages for the industry overall, in which like-for-like sales rose 0.1 per cent and same-store traffic fell two per cent. “The industry continues to remain stuck in a mode of barely positive sales on average and it can’t seem to pull traffic up to positive rates,” said Bill Schaffler, chief operating officer at survey company Black Box Intelligence and People Report, told Nation’s Restaurant News.

Former Britvic marketer takes top Unilever job: Former head of marketing at Britvic Noel Clarke has become Unilever’s brand building director for its ice cream division. Clarke oversaw carbonated drinks brands including Pepsi, 7Up and Tango at Britvic and has previously been in charge of marketing for Fruitshoot.

Company news:

McDonald’s reports sales down in US and Europe by 2.2 per cent in October - first monthly sales fall since 2003: McDonald’s has reported sales in Europe and the US both slipped by 2.2 per cent in October - Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa saw sales down by 2.4 per cent, the first monthly sales fall since 2003. McDonald’s chief executive Don Thompson said: “Though October’s sales results reflect the pervasive challenges of today’s global marketplace, I am confident that our strategies and the adjustments we are making in response to the current business headwinds will build sales momentum and drive sustained, profitable growth.” The company said the US market saw modest consumer demand and heightened competitive activity offset the impact of local dollar menu advertising, the Monopoly promotion, and the recent launch of the Cheddar Bacon Onion premium sandwiches. It added: “Moving forward, the US remains focused on enhancing its value leadership position by balancing strong everyday value messaging with affordable premium menu options.” In Europe, comparable sales declined 2.2 per cent as positive results in the UK were offset by declines across many markets. McDonald’s is “reinvigorating its value offerings through increased advertising and new meal combinations at various price tiers, featuring core and premium menu items, and enhancing the restaurant experience to attract more customers”.

Seaside Company Dorset eyes first site: A new EIS scheme company Seaside Company Dorset is looking to open its first site in Burton Bradstock, West Dorset. The company, headed by Groucho Club founder Tony Mackintosh, who also oversaw 192 and Café Anglais and Mary-Lou Sturridge, is looking to raise £2m under the EIS offer towards the £3.6m cost of the project – the creation of The Seaside Boarding House Bar and Restaurant. The first site in Burton Bradstock involves the renovation of an existing company-owned property. The board will be supported by Juliet Sturridge as finance director and “a notable advisory team” consisting of Caroline Conran, Mark Hix, Anna Hugo, Caroline Montagu and Nick Smallwood. The investment circular states: “The directors have between them an outstanding track record of success, of which the best example is the Groucho Club, which in 2001 delivered a return net of tax to 40 per cent tax payers equivalent to 17 times cash invested over 17 years after the benefit of tax relief.” The first site will have seven en suite bedrooms, each individually designed with views over Hive Beach.

Gondola appoints DC Advisory over Byron sale: Gondola Holdings has appointed DC Advisory to oversee the possible sale of its better burger brand Byron, according to The Times. A decision about its future is unlikely until the middle of next year. The brand was bought in June 2010 from Ask Restaurants for £6.8m. In the 52 weeks to 26 June 2011, Byron achieved sales of £17,506,000 and had an operating profit of £1,208,000 and a pre-tax profit of £1,085,000 – the company opened seven sites during the year so turnover will not reflect full year trading.

Strada aims to pepper the blogosphere: Strada, the better pizza concept owned by Tragus, is inviting twenty local people from each town and city where a Strada is located to enter a competition to eat a dish from its new menu for free – in return for writing a review about their experience. Winning entries are drawn at the end of today with reviewers asked to take their free meal between 12 and 30 November. Winning reviewers must agree to post their reviews on within two weeks of claiming their free meal. Strada reserves the right to use the name of reviewers and their review on, on social media and in print.

Madhur Jaffrey compliments JD Wetherspoon curry offer: Indian cook Madhur Jaffrey has given JD Wetherspoon’s curry offer her seal of approval. The company serves 3.6 million curries each year, with circa 70,000 meals sold each week as part of its Thursday night Curry Club offer. Jaffrey visited Wetherspoon’s Moon Under Water pub in Watford as part of a filming for a ten part series on Britain’s love affair with the curry, sampling and discussing the curry dishes on the menu. Matthew Elsdon, Wetherspoon’s food development manager, said: “It was very interesting to meet her. She is highly respected and has a massive insight into everything associated with Indian cooking. She sampled three or four curries from our menu and was complimentary about the flavours and the large selection that we have on offer - she particularly liked our onion bhajis.” The ten-part series will be screened on the Good Food Channel at the end of this year.

Loungers opens Brasco Lounge in Liverpool: Café bar company Loungers, headed by Alex Reilley, has opened its Brasco Lounge in Mann Island development on Liverpool’s historic waterfront. It’s located opposite the new Museum of Liverpool and has space for 80 covers internally and 60 covers externally. Pride-of-place on the wall behind the bar at Brasco is a liver bird shield that was salvaged from the Liver Building when a wall, leading to the car park, was demolished.

Lincoln entrepreneur goes multi-site with steakhouse restaurant: A Lincoln businessman will open his second site in the city on 26 November – a £300,000 steakhouse, Lincolnshire Red Steak House, on the site of a former city nightclub in Newland, creating 25 jobs. Owner Christopher Regan opened Ye Olde Crowne, in Clasketgate last year after a refurbishment. “We thought a traditional steak house was something Lincoln was lacking,” he told the local newspaper. “We wanted to create something that was centred on Lincolnshire so when tourists came, they would be able to experience what the county is all about. The kitchen will be completely open with all the cooking facilities and grills on show. We wanted it to be very theatrical.”

Marston’s opens Gainsborough new-build: Midlands-based brewer and retailer Marston’s has opened a 190-cover £2m new-build pub restaurant at the junction of the Thorndike Way dual carriageway and the Somerby Park industrial estate in Gainsborough. Marston’s area manager George Georgiou reported 500 applications for the 43 jobs on offer. Manager Mark Morley said: “Monday was quiet because it was Bonfire Night, but we were very busy on Tuesday with more than 250 meals served and up to 75 per cent table occupancy at one stage. We’re really pleased with the very positive comments we’ve had and our kitchen team have already been tested with quite a few orders at peak times.”

Inventive Leisure founder stresses the importance of fun: Inventive Leisure founder John McDonald has stressed the importance of having “fun” as a guiding principle for the company since it was founded. McDonald, who founded the business with Roy Ellis and Neil Macleod in the early 1990s, said his fellow directors all agreed on the importance of ensuring staff enjoy their work when they set up the business. He told a Manchester business lunch: “(We said) if we ever get into this bar business we’re going to have fun. If we’re not having fun let’s not do it. And anyone who comes on board must have fun too, they’re not there for the money or because it’s not a bad job. We’re still very much in the business, we can’t have a boardroom mentality. You can’t create fun by having locked doors and not engaging people.”

Cardiff-based Mostyn’s restaurants submits chapel plan: Cardiff-based café and restaurant operator Mostyns has submitted a plan to convert an historic chapel in the centre of Cardiff to a bar and restaurant called Chapel 1877. The three-storey building on Churchill Way will include two bars and is expected to offer late-night music and entertainment until 2.30am at weekends. Dave Bevan, managing director Mostyns Restaurants, previously told Cardiff council’s licensing sub-committee he intended to offer a “high standard cuisine to a mature customer”.

YO! Sushi to open tenth site of 2012 - with design tweaks: Conveyor belt sushi chain YO! Sushi is to open its tenth site this year on 22 November – at the Princesshay Shopping Centre, Exeter, which sees an annual footfall of ten million. Design at the new site has been tweaked with shaped convex tiles added to the main walls with staggered joints to cast shadows and introduce depth and texture into the space. Vibrant pink and blue leathers add a punch of colour to the interior and a feature wall incorporating a delicate Japanese blossom design and integrated LED light fittings softens the finished look. Chief executive Robin Rowland said: “We are delighted to be opening a restaurant in the Princesshay Shopping Centre in Exeter alongside a line-up of over 60 retailers. YO! Sushi has seen impressive growth in 2012 and we have lots of plans to expand even further in 2013.”

Eagerly anticipated John Salt opens today: London pub operator Fiveeightzero’s new site, John Salt in Islington, opens today with chef Ben Spalding, who previously worked at Roganic and Gordon Ramsay, overseeing the food. Tasting menus of four, eight or 12 courses are served in the restaurant, with the industrial style bar below will have its own additional food offering with Salt marsh lamb wraps, crispy chicken skin sandwiches and a range of vegetarian options, all cooked in full view of guests. Fiveeightzero, headed by Dan Crouch, also operates Camden’s Lock Tavern and the Field Day and Beacon Festivals. 

Chef looks for sites for his Pasta Bar concept: Agent Davis Coffer Lyons has been instructed by chef and television personality Gino D’Acampo to secure sites for his new ‘The Pasta Bar’ concept, which allows consumers to choose their own pasta and sauce and add toppings. Brandon Elmon, director of Davis Coffer Lyons’ acquisitions team, will seek A1 sites within the West End and the City for the “grab-and-go” format restaurant, with 1,500sq ft to 2,000sq ft of trading space. A3 sites will also be considered. D’Acampo also co-owns Bontà Italia Ltd, a supplier of Italian ingredients.

Iconic West Midlands pub could be brought back to life: One of the West Midlands’ most iconic pubs could be revived after being sold at auction. The Grade II-listed Waterloo Hotel, on Shireland Road, in Cape Hill, sold for £150,000, which was three times the guide price, when it went under the hammer at a CPBigwood’s auction. The venue was built as a flagship pub and hotel in 1908 for Mitchells & Butlers, which had a brewery nearby and boasted a lavish Baroque front and ornate interior. Buyer Zafar Rashid said: “We want to preserve it and we are going to get professional advice on how best to do that. Our initial thoughts are that it becomes a bar/restaurant, perhaps with residential on the first and second floors.”

Stonegate to expand cask offer at refurbished Horley pub: Stonegate Pub Company is to expand the cask offer at its Horley’s Foresters pub after a £160,000 refurbishment – the number of cask ale pumps will increase from three to five. It will re-open later in November.

Douglas Jack – Wetherspoon first quarter sales growth ahead of our assumptions: Numis Securities leisure analyst Douglas Jack has described yesterday’s Wetherspoon announcement of like-for-like sales growth of 7.1 per cent as “well ahead of our previous full year forecast assumption of 2.5 per cent”. He added: “However, margins still fell 40bps, 35bps below our previous forecast, reflecting low price increases. We are holding our full year forecasts (profit before tax of £73.2m; consensus £72.2m) which now assume that like-for-like sales rise four per cent (management also expects LFL sales to slow) and that margins fall 15bps. The outcome for both sales and margins is heavily dependent on alterations in the company’s pricing strategy, which are very unpredictable. Based on EV/EBITDA, Wetherspoon’s valuation is five per cent below its 10-year historic average. However, our stance remains Hold: there should also be some upside risk to sales forecasts; offset by further downside risk to margins given that like-for-like sales should slow and new regulatory costs should emerge in the second half.”

McDonald’s to close Ellesmere Port site after 27 years: McDonald’s is to shutter its Ellesmere Port restaurant after 27 years of operations. The restaurant, on Whitby Road, will officially close its doors on 16 December. But no jobs will be lost in the closure – staff will instead be transferred to ‘neighbouring restaurants’. Kate McGown, a McDonald’s spokeswoman, said: “This is not a decision we have taken lightly but, as we constantly review our estate, it has become apparent that trading patterns in Ellesmere Port have changed and we have therefore taken the difficult decision to cease trading at this site.”

Luminar to sell Nuneaton site: Nightclub operator Nightclub has placed its 1,325-capacity Nuneaton venue on the market and has appointed property consultancy Gerald Eve. The 20,375 sq ft property, previously home to Luminar’s Liquid and Envy nightclub brands, is located on Leicester Road. Chris Ford, partner at Gerald Eve, said: “The size and location of the venue make this an excellent opportunity for both established and new-entrant operators looking to take advantage of Nuneaton’s night-time economy.” The building was originally used as a cinema before being converted into a three-storey nightclub.

£3.5m Albert Square Chop House opens in Manchester: The eagerly anticipated Albert Square Chop House opened yesterday in the Grade Two listed Memorial Hall across Manchester’s civic square from the Town Hall. The Venetian Gothic style building dates from 1866 and has been vacant since the Square Albert pub closed its doors a decade ago. The venue offers an 80-cover restaurant, private dining boardroom and function room with 21st century facilities and will create 72 new jobs. A boutique hotel is planned to open on the upper floors at a later date.

Another Tchenguiz R&L Properties’ tenant buys freehold: Another freehold owned by the former Robert Tchenguiz R&L Properties vehicle has been bought by the sitting tenant. The Elephant in Faversham, north Kent, has been acquired by the current tenant off an asking price of £275,000 for the freehold.

Microbrewery to move back to home town: A Workington micro-brewery which has been producing its ale in Cheshire will move back into the town. Mitchell Krause Brewing, which was set up by Graeme Mitchell three years ago, has been granted permission by Allerdale council to convert a vacant agricultural building on Calva Farm into the brewery. The ales are currently brewed in West Sussex and Cheshire before being transported in bulk containers to Cockermouth, where it is bottled and put into kegs.

Derbyshire licensee takes second Punch pub: Derbyshire licensee Tim Turner has taken his second Punch Taverns pub, The Spanker in Nether Heage, near Belper, which has a £170,000 investment from Punch. “A new food menu was introduced using high quality ingredients, many of which will be locally sourced, and it is doing really well. In fact, we have taken lots of bookings, especially over the Christmas period,” said licensee Tim Turner. His first Punch pub is The Greyhound in Belper.

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