Propel Morning Briefing Mast Head CPL Learning Link Paul's Twitter Link Black Sheep Banner
Morning Briefing Strap Line
Mon 12th Nov 2012 - Amber Taverns, Browns and Vapiano

Story of the day:

Browns “has regained confidence” after 12 openings in 15 months: Browns, the iconic brasserie brand owned by Mitchells & Butlers (M&B), has regained its confidence after 12 openings in 15 months, the brand’s marketing manager Paul Hulyer has told a Technomic conference. The brand, which celebrates its fortieth birthday next year, grew to operate 14 sites up until 15 months ago – and has now had an impressive expansion spurt as M&B moved the offer from “colonial brasserie” to “modern brasserie”. Hulyer reported that the brand had been evolved in terms of “colours, bars and music” and flexed to open in locations other than its traditional landmark or historic building setting – an opening in the Bluewater shopping centre, for example, is a “great advert” for the brand, said Hulyer. The brand’s cocktail offer had now become the single biggest drinks category at Browns as part of its modernisation to offer “a brasserie buzz with great service” - its internal tagline is “the everyday made exceptional”. Hulyer conceded that there had been a period where there was “a lack of confidence” in the brand but that it is now “heading in the right direction to become a segment leader again”. Recent openings for Browns have included sites in Birmingham, Nottingham and Reading. The Birmingham opening was in the Bullring, contained within a very modern glass building with a curved zinc roof. It was a radical departure from the brand’s traditional use of historic buildings – and embraced modern design cues such as exposed ducts. Site takings vary at Browns from low £30,000s per week up to £60,000 per week per site.

ALMR National Restaurant Show Study Tour in Chicago open 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 on (01444) 810304. Places are limited.

Industry news:

Lapsed pub users offer biggest opportunity: A survey of 1,532 consumers by insights firm Technomic has found 30 per cent of people are “lapsed” users who only go to the pub every two months or less often. UK development director David Wilkinson argued that this group, the largest user segment found in the survey, presents “an opportunity to drive visits among a customer group that are open to using pubs but do so infrequently”. The survey found three out of five consumers visits pubs once a month or more often. A total of 22 per cent class themselves as “heavy” users, visiting the pub once a week with a further 22 per cent falling into the moderate category of users who visit once every two to three weeks, with a further 19 per cent in the “light” usage category involving one visit a month. Only seven per cent of consumers report they “never” visit a pub. Wilkinson also described breakfast as an opportunity to drive sales in the pub sector with 40 per cent of those aged 18 to 34 visiting the pub for this once a month, with only 21 per cent of those aged 35 plus doing the same. The Technomic research found pub visits split fairly evenly between impulse, routine and planned visits – 34, 29 and 27 per cent respectively. But pub visits are “in some ways interchangeable” with 50 per cent of consumers reporting they would have visited another pub as a second choice.

Asian, pasta and pizza showing strongest growth on menus: A survey of 150 full service restaurant menus by insights and research firm Technomic has found Asian bowl dishes, pasta/noodles and pizza showing the largest increase in frequency with respective increases of 17.8, 7 and 5.2 per cent each. Nachos, breaded vegetables and wings have shown the largest rise in frequency on menus’ starter sections. – 29.3, 11 and 6.7 per cent respectively.

Pub opened with £400,000 of lottery money handed back to owner: The Barge Inn in Honeystreet, Wiltshire, which was opened with £400,000 of lottery funding from the Lottery Village SOS fund and £2,400 from local people, has been handed back to its owner, Surrey-based businessman Ian McIvor after it failed as a community project. Scores of local investors who supported the Barge Inn Community Project have lost their money. McIvor is expected to appoint new managers and re-open it. The lottery money and community funds were spent on a refurbishment and running costs. Project chairman John Brewin said: “All that money was absorbed into the overall project so there will be no repayment. We felt that the staff and small suppliers deserved paying first.”

Operator of closed nightclub fined £67,000 for noise offences: The operator of Nottingham Nightclub F&G has been fined more than £67,000 for 16 breaches of a noise abatement notice - £4,000 per offence plus costs. Unique Nightclub Ltd, which runs the club in Broadway, was convicted of 16 breaches of a noise abatement notice at Nottingham Magistrates Court. Lorraine Raynor, head of environmental health, said: “Officers collated evidence of the breaches using digital recording equipment installed in the complainants’ properties.” The club’s licence has already been revoked at a hearing of Nottingham City Council’s licensing authority on May 29 2012 and came into force on June 19, by which time it had closed.

Starbucks working on filter to block adult site: Starbucks has reported that it is working with British Telecom to provide measures to block access to adult sites that are currently accessible on its public Wi-Fi service. The issue was raised by Baroness Massey in the House of Lords during a debate a Private Members’ Bill to implement an opt-in system for Wi-Fi. A Starbucks spokesman said: “We are working on a solution with our provider, BT.”

Creditors set to be £57.8m out-of-pocket in WaverleyTBS collapse: A report by administrators on the collapse of wholesaler WaverleyTBS indicates a £57,8666,955 shortfall for unsecured creditors. Trade creditors are owed £40.5m with Diageo owed £6.12m and Heineken owed £4,300,411. 

Flexible working rights to be unveiled this week: Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is to announce new rights for all employees to request flexible working, according to The Sunday Times. Until now only parents with children under 17 have been able to ask for flexible hours. The move is expected to be unveiled in a speech on Tuesday.

Sales of fruit flavoured ciders soar: Research by AC Nielsen shows sales of fruit-flavoured ciders have grown by 80 per cent in the past year to create a market worth £113m a year. The total value of the cider market has doubled in the past year to be worth £873m. Around 30 different flavours of cider are now available with Tesco increasing its range of flavours from six to 27 in the past three years.

A third of babies born in 2012 will live to 100: One in three babies born this year will live to be 100 and have their first child aged 31, five years later than their parents. Investment Scottish Widows also predicts that 2012 babies will need to work until the age of 70 and will also marry eight years later than their parents.

Shareholder criticises AG Barr and Britvic merger: Harris Associates, which holds a 3.4 per cent stake in Britvic, has criticised the poorly negotiated share ratio of the proposed merger of Britvic and Irn Bru maker AG Barr. Criticism centres on the terms of the deal valuing Britvic at only 1.7 times AG Barr when its operating profits and revenues are several times higher.

Company news:

Judgement day looms for flagship Oceania in Kingston: A licensing meeting to be held in public on Tuesday November 20 at 10.30am will reconsider the terms of the license at Luminar’s flagship Oceania in Kingston, which has seen a fatal stabbing that led to a two-week licence suspension. The options for the committee of councillors involve new licensing conditions at the club, suspending the license for up to three months or revoking its license completely. A public consultation about the club began on 28 October which received just 21 responses. However, a Facebook page calling for Oceana to be shut down now has nearly 2,500 supporters. The Kingston Oceania is the most profitable venue in the Luminar portfolio and was subject to a £7.5m sale and leaseback of the freehold last month.

Bob Ivell reverts to non-executive chairman at Mitchells & Butlers: Mitchells & Butlers has announced this morning that Bob Ivell has today resumed his role as non-executive chairman and handed over his executive responsibilities to Alistair Darby. This follows the completion of an induction period by Alistair Darby, who was appointed chief executive on 8 October.

Amber Taverns to invest £450,000 in Bingley pub acquired out of receivership: North west managed operator Amber Taverns, led by James Baer and Bryan Wardman, will invest £450,000 in merging the Old Library pub and Berlin’s nightclub on Main Street, Bingley, into a single bar, mezzanine floor, function room and lower dance floor during an eight-week refurbishment. The company bought the business earlier this year after former owners Dukedom went into receivership. Operations director Gary Roberts told the Bradford Telegraph and Argus: “We believe that many pubs and bars are still viable if they receive investment to give customers what they want. The Old Library and Berlins have been purchased from the receivers after Dukedom went into receivership, whilst it is currently profitable we believe that we can deliver a long term sustainable future for the business and the staff by investing in the refurbishment. We also believe that the refurbishment will also do justice to a fantastic building.”

Deadline set for sealed bids on boutique and spa in receivership: Agent Christie + Co has set a deadline of Friday 7 December for sealed bids on Holm House, a 12-bedroom boutique hotel and spa in Panarth that is in receivership. Holm House, formerly a nursing home, was extensively renovated and opened as a boutique hotel with spa facilities in 2007. It has previously been awarded a five-Star grading from Visit Wales, and has views over the Bristol Channel. Due to “unforeseen circumstances”, Holm House was closed in May of this year and is offered for sale as a closed hotel. Jonathan Hill of Christie + Co’s Bristol Office, who is handling this sale, said: “Holm House is a beautiful building with the potential to be a thriving business. Its location and high quality interiors make it attractive to hoteliers looking to extend their portfolios. We anticipate a great deal of interest in this hotel.”

Harvester launches six-week Christmas campaign: Harvester, the 205-strong brand owned by Mitchells & Butlers, has launched a six-week campaign called Six Weeks of Christmas that offers a different deal each week in the run-up to Christmas. The first offer, launched yesterday, provides two takeaway meals for £10. The deal applies to all main course meals except the full rack of ribs, triple chicken, Harvester combo and “Signature Fish & Chips” where a £2.50 surcharge is levied. Harvester has also been offering a free soft drink for each takeaway meal bought.

Thai restaurant chain with sexual health theme opens in Bicester: A Thai restaurant chain with a sexual heath focus has opened in Bicester. Cabbages and Condoms has opened in Chapel Street to raise money to promote sexual health in Thailand. The restaurant is part of a chain of six restaurants in Thailand and all its profits go back to charitable causes in the country. Owner Wilas Techo, from Thailand, has been promoting sexual health in his country since 1974 and is a backer of Cabbages and Condoms. He said: “People are still embarrassed to talk about condoms. One of the challenges since I have been doing this has been to desensitise people about the issue.” The restaurants in Thailand hand out condoms with the bill but the Bicester restaurant is taking a more low-key approach with a series of leaflets customers can take home instead.

Soho House gets planning consent for new private members’ club: Soho House has been given planning consent to convert a former Georgian townhouse in Soho gutted by fire three years ago to open a new private members’ club. The Grade II-listed building, at 76 Dean Street, was one of the finest buildings in the area until it was largely destroyed by the devastating blaze. The frontage of the three-storey building is all that remains – and it has been classified as ‘at risk’ by English Heritage. Under the proposals by Soho House, the former offices will become a new club for the film, media and creative industries and will include a preview cinema in the new basement. The meeting heard that work on the project is expected to be carried out as soon as the funding is in place.

Freehold nightclub let to Luminar set to go to auction: The freehold of Liquid and Diva nightclub in Gloucester, where the rent is guaranteed by Luminar, is set to be auctioned at an Allsop auction on 4 December. The nightclub is let on a lease expiring in 2049 where a rent of £85,000 per annum is payable - the guide price is £650,000 plus. 

Arc Inspirations adds tap room to Headingly Arc site: Award-winning Arc Inspirations, which operates eight suburban bar and restaurant venues in Yorkshire, has added a self-service tap room to its iconic Arc student bar in Headingly. Each table has its own beer font with two different beers and customer now avoid queuing at the bar. Arc Inspirations, which is planning a ninth site in York where it wants to convert a former chapel and printworks into a bar, was set up in 2002 by Martin Woolstencroft, former Whitbread new concept development manager, and Chris Ure. Arc Inspiration’s venues include The Banyan Bar & Kitchen in Harrogate and Nappa Bar & Kitchen in Leeds - it reported pre-tax profits of £2,557,465 on turnover of £11,655,708 in the year to 1 April 2012.

Vapiano enjoying double-digit sales growth in the UK: Vapiano, the German-owned pasta and pizza concept headed by Phil Sermon in the UK, is seeing double-digit like-for-like sales growth at its two London sites. The company is looking at rapid expansion in London after deciding it has an offer “that seems to appeal to the UK consumer” based on value-for-money and a “fresh, bespoke” offer, Sermon told a Technomic conference on Friday. Its flagship Portland Street is particularly busy. “I’d like Portland Street to have elastic walls at times,” said Sermon. Vapiano is also set to launch a privilege card next year, which will offer a range of benefits, including visiting other Vapiano sites around the world, said Sermon. 

McManus Pub Company reports profits rise: Northampton-based McManus Pub Company has reported pre-tax profit rose to £300,453 in the year to 28 April, up from £168,020 the year before. Turnover rose to £4,803,444 from £4,497,585 the year before. The company, headed by Gary McManus, runs nine pubs, six freehold and nine leasehold pubs plus a site on a 30-day notice period – it also manages a further ten pubs for related companies. Sales rose by 6.9 per cent in the year, with gross sales margin of 70.6 per cent compared to 71.7 per cent the year before - net operating margins rose from 7.2 per cent in 2011 to 9.7 per cent for the most recent year.

Bar company Mint Holdings reports surge in turnover and profit: South east bar and nightclub operator Mint Holdings, whose venues include Elk Bar in Fulham Broadway and the Bison and Bird in south London, has reported a leap in turnover and profit for the year to 31 March. The company, which is headed by Alex Rutherford and Olly Bengough, saw pre-tax profit climb to £1,435,526, compared to £983,773 the year before. Turnover rose to £13,509,958 compared to £11,721,493 the year before. 

Wetherspoon in negotiations to buy Hednesford landmark: JD Wetherspoon is in talks to buy the historic Anglesey Lodge in Hednesford, Staffordshire, for conversion to a pub, according to local media reports – the town has a population of 16,928. The building is the base for the Pritchard Group and part of the property portfolio that is being sold off by administrators to pay the company’s debts. Anglesey Lodge was built in 1831 and was a hotel for many years before it was bought by the Pritchard Group.

Arran Brewery set to open first pub in Glasgow: Arran Brewery is set to open its first pub a week after announcing a merger with the Isle of Skye Brewery. The company will convert a former bank building in Glasgow city centre for its first site, which is still subject to planning permission and licensing approval. Managing director Gerald Michaluk is in the final stages of raising £10 million from investors to build a larger brewery on Arran, a bottling plant and develop a chain of pubs. Michaluk said the bar will stock his brewery’s beers along with “an international selection of craft beers on draft”. He told The Scotsman: “I’d like to have pubs in all of the university towns – that’s a no-brainer.

Stoker Leisure re-opens Sunderland site as Bar Pure: North east-based Stoker Leisure has re-opened a derelict city centre site in Sunderland as Bar Pure. Andrew Stoker said: “The bar was battered when I got the keys. But I’ve pretty much knocked the interior down and started again. I’ve re-tiled, there’s a new back bar and taken the wall back to the brick. We’ve also got accessories like a piano and guitars hanging down. I want to make it a nice music venue. We will play Indie music but there will also be a wide spread of music such as 60s, 70s and 80s rock and Northern Soul.”

Marston’s start work on Lancashire new-build pub: Midlands-based Marston’s has started work on a new-build pub restaurant at the front of Morecambe’s FC’s Globe Arena home – with the pub expected to be complete by the end of April. It is thought the pub will be called The Hurley Flyer, after Morecambe’s RNLI hovercraft. The football club announced they had sold half the vacant plot of land at the front of their Westgate stadium to Marston’s in March this year.

Orchid opens latest Pizza Kitchen and Bar site: Managed operator Orchid has opened its latest pub/pizzeria hybrid Pizza Kitchen and Bar in Harrogate - The Alexandra, in Prospect Place, was re-opened on Friday after a refurbishment. General manager Lawrence Shirley said: “The new-look interior has a fresh, vibrant feel. Feature and traditional timber wall panelling will be a theme, as well as contemporary tiling, But it will stick to quintessential English pub design.” He added: “We’ve worked hard to maintain the traditional pub values but bring a new lease of life with proper home-cooked pizza and a great range of world drinks.” Pizza Kitchen & Bar, which has “a 100 per cent Fresh Dough Guarantee”, is the key Orchid growth brand. 

Rutland Partners buys Pizza Hut for £1: Private equity firm Rutland Partners bought the struggling 330-strong Pizza Hut restaurant business for £1, according to The Times. The deal involves Rutland Partners agreeing to invest £20m in a refurbishment of existing sites immediately – and then re-invest £40m of cashflow over the next five years. The deal provides Rutland Partners with franchise rights from owner Yum! Brands for ten years and then the right to renew for another ten years. One focus will be on exiting 50 sites that are badly located or have excessive rents. Yum! Brands, which has retained the delivery part of the business, bought Whitbread’s 50 per cent stake in the business for £112m in 2006. Pizza Hut reported pre-tax losses widened to £24,178,000 in the year to 4 December 2011 (2010: £20,588,000) on turnover down by 0.7 per cent to £437,685,000. The company said trading on the high street has “continued to be tough compounded by intense levels of discounting from a number of competitors”. Pizza Hut reported it was delivering like-for-like sales growth after changes implemented in May 2011 - improved products and value offers, including free salad and the extension of kids-eat-free. The company earned a total of £9.7m in franchise-related income.

Return to Archive Click Here to Return to the Archive Listing
Punch Taverns Link
Return to Archive Click Here to Return to the Archive Listing
Propel Premium
Knorr Banner
Food Alert Banner
EMenu Now Banner
Santa Maria Banner
Contract Furniture Group Banner
Dr Oetker Banner
Bizimply Banner
Matthew Clark Banner
Matthew Clark Banner
Quorn – ChiQin Banner
Knorr Banner
Camile Thai Banner
Propel Banner
Frobishers Banner
The Licensees Association Banner
Airship – Toggle Banner
John Gaunt Banner
Libeo Banner
COREcruitment Banner
Access Banner
Caleno Banner
Reputation Banner
Cynergy Bank Banner
Zonal Banner
Double Dutch Banner