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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Thu 22nd Nov 2012 - Eat, Punch and Young’s

Story of the day:

Punch Taverns looks to roll-out Champs to three more sites after success in Sheffield: Punch Taverns is planning to expand its Champs American sports brand under licence in three more major cities after the first site in Sheffield proved to be a runaway success. Punch re-opened The Ecclesall on Ecclesall Road pub as Champs on 4 August with new licensee Danny Grayson, who also operates Punch’s White Lion and The Chantrey in Sheffield – Punch has licensed the brand to Grayson at the premises. Punch senior regional operations manager Richard Woodward told Morning Briefing: “We have identified three more sites where we’d like to open Champs - the first site is very, very busy. We are active on all three sites in terms of getting planning consents.” Champs is a modern and premiumised American-style sports bar and grill concept that Punch developed after doing an innovative deal to buy the name of the popular Champs sports bar in Sheffield’s Ecclesall Road from Thornbridge Brewery. The original Champs was turned into a real ale bar and restaurant by its new owner BrewKitchen, a joint venture between Richard Smith restaurants and Thornbridge Brewery. However, there could be a copyright battle in store with a Blackpool operator who plans to use the Champs name for a new site in Blackpool. The Ma Kellys Group, which operates three sites in Blackpool, is to invest £1m in opening a Champs sports bar in Blackpool on the site of the art deco landmark, the Music Hall Tavern nightclub. Work has already begun with the bar set to open next Easter. Michael Sugden, one of the directors of Ma Kellys, said: “We are planning to invest £1m in the venue which will be over two floors. It will be a proper American sports bar, which is something Blackpool does not have at the moment. There will be 30 plasma TVs showing all the sports – Premier League football, tennis, cricket, rugby, boxing, racing – as well as American pool tables.”

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:

Tesco launches online party food delivery service: Supermarket Tesco has launched an online party food delivery service. The service, called Easy Entertaining, is described as a “one-stop-shop for customers’ party needs”. Platters of hot or cold finger food, canapes, fish, cooked meat, sushi platters and hot dishes such as lasagne and curry can be ordered. The service has been launched in London initially with four depots – Enfield, Greenford, Aylseford and Croydon – making deliveries.

Krispy Kreme reports one-day promotions work: Donut company Krispy Kreme has reported that its one-day promotions are producing longer term sales benefits. The company reported sales up 6.8 per cent in its most recent quarter, the 16th consecutive quarter of positive like-for-like sales. Chief executive James Morgan told analysts that single-day promotions, such as the company’s National Talk Like A Pirate Day offering and its National Coffee Day offering, produced good sales growth. On National Coffee Day, the company gave out free 12-ounce cups of coffee. Morgan said: “It (produces) high, high traffic, but then the after-effect seems to last longer than we would have thought.”

Costa Coffee franchisee struggles in bombed-out Greek market: Costa Coffee is close to exiting the Greek market after its local franchisee Greek Coffee Company SA, owned by Aris Vovos, saw a 40 per cent drop in turnover in the past year and suspended operations in the country. The franchisee operated ten sites in the Athens area and is reported to be in discussions over whether the parent company will continue to support the operation. Turnover has been hit after increased VAT was applied to the foodservice sector in September 2011.

Local government minister voices support for sector on visit to Burton: Brandon Lewis, newly appointed junior local government minister, has voiced support for the sector of a visit to three major businesses based in Burton - Spirit, Punch Taverns and Marston’s. He told the Burton Mail: “Whether through pubs, restaurants or other parts of the leisure industry, it is the quickest, easiest and cheapest way into work for many young people, whether that’s a part time college job or the first part of a career. There is a big job in getting young people to see the leisure industry as an industry that’s a really good career path. It can be a really exciting career, whether somebody wants to travel the world or develop a career closer to home. We want to see people work their way up from working in the kitchen to being a landlord or owning an establishment. These are the businesspeople of tomorrow.”

Miller Brands volumes up by five per cent: Miller Brands UK has reported UK beer volumes grew by five per cent in its first half year ending 30 September 2012. Total Peroni volumes in the UK grew by mid single digits and the brand had a particularly strong half in the on-premise draught channel where volumes increased at more than double that rate. The business also more than doubled volumes of Kozel, which is a four per cent ABV Czech pilsner launched in the UK in 2010 and is available exclusively on draught in the UK. Pilsner Urquell draught delivered double digit growth versus the previous year following extensive investment in on-trade promotions over the period. Miller Brands managing director Gary Haigh said: “Our growth in the on-premise draught channel, led by Peroni, is particularly pleasing and represents a bright spot in an otherwise challenging environment for the UK beer industry. Despite the British weather this summer, we had a good first half and our performance demonstrates the resilience of high quality, premium brands as far as the UK consumer is concerned.”

Company news:

Young’s posts sales and profits increase: London-based Young’s has reported sales rose 10.7 per cent in the six months to 1 October to hit £100.1m with pre-tax profits up 11.2 per cent to £13.85m. Managed pub like-for-likes rose 5.7 per cent with like-for-like sales up six per cent since the year-end. The Olympics were a mixed bag for the estate with well-located sites benefiting whilst there was quieter trading in other parts of London – The Cow and Calf, a temporary site next to the Olympic Park, shattered all previous sales records in the second week of the Olympics. Chief executive Stephen Goodyear said: “These excellent results reflect some benefit from the extraordinary events we have seen in London this summer; they have also been achieved despite some periods of truly awful weather. They are therefore testament to the ability of our people to make the very best of our high quality and well-invested estate whatever the circumstances. We have seen very encouraging like-for-like growth from both Young’s and Geronimo, and across liquor, food and accommodation sales. We have continued to invest in the estate and look forward to seeing the benefit of recent openings in the second half. Despite continued caution on the part of the consumer, I believe we are well-positioned to continue to generate profitable growth and therefore attractive returns for our shareholders.”

Eat opens flagship store today: Eat is opening a new concept store today on The Strand in London, described as the most radical redesign since its launch in 1996. The new design will be rolled out across the brand next year. The new store on The Strand introduces a number of design changes including its first open kitchen and a digital menu board that will be linked to Eat’s website and Twitter feed. The menu will tell customers what will be available tomorrow and during the following week, while the new self-service area will display freshly baked foods at breakfast, followed by afternoon tea, from lunchtime onwards. New food and drink lines, including Cortado coffee, a Spanish form of espresso with a small dash of steamed milk, are also being introduced at The Strand. Sarah Doyle, Eat’s marketing director, said: “We are very excited to be unveiling Eat’s new look which we feel reflects the core principles on which our brand was originally founded. It is modern and stylish, yet also has a natural, simple and handcrafted feel, which reflects the essence of our food. The new design marks the start of a new stage of growth and expansion for the business.” Justin Hallström, who works for Eat’s designer The Plant, said: “We tried to create something a bit more hand-crafted to reflect the food. The logo has a lot of equity so we only slightly tweaked it to make it more friendly and approachable, and to update it to make it a bit more modern.”

Pub People Company to expand its family-dining offer with £250,000 investment: Pub People Company, the East Midlands multiple headed by Kevin Sammons, is investing £250,000 at its Plug and Feathers pub, Glapwell, between Chesterfield and Mansfield just off the M1, to install its family value dining offer which has the tagline “Fresh and Local”. The company plans to re-open the pub, a freehold it acquired 18 months ago as part of its partnership with fund manger Downing LLP, in mid-December. The investment follows the success of its refurbished Dukeries pub in Edinstowe, which re-opened with a value-dining offer eight months ago. Operations director Andy Crawford told Morning Briefing: “We’re building a small extension to the front elevation of the pub to make it more attractive from the road.” Pub People is also understood to be close to buying another freehold, an unnamed Camra award-wining site.

JD Wetherspoon gets planning consent to open in Oban: Managed operator JD Wetherspoon has been won planning consent to open in Oban, referred to as ‘The Gateway to the Isles’ and the unofficial capital of the West Highlands with a population of 8,500 heavily swollen during the summer. Argyll and Bute’s planning committee has given the go-ahead for the application from the company to develop the former home of Caithness Glass on Railway Pier, currently occupied by outdoor clothing store Wilderness. The application was recommended for approval in the face of some 27 objections, including representations from the Oban and District Licensed Trade Association and several of the town’s independent food outlets and wholesalers. Seven letters of support were also received from local businesses.

Danny Meyer – I’m looking forward to joining the London dining scene: Celebrated New York restaurateur Danny Meyer will open his first Shake Shack in the Market Building near the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. He said: “I am positively in love with London’s thriving food culture. I adore the city and have always enjoyed the time I’ve spent there over the years. For some time now an enormous number of friends in London have asked when we would bring our first restaurant to the city. We looked high and wide for just the right time and spot, and at last I think we’ve found it in Covent Garden. I am humbled and at the same time excited to bring Shake Shack to the UK and to become part of the incredible London dining scene.” Shake Shack offers all-natural burgers, flat-top dogs, frozen custard and American craft beer.

Richard Caring incorporates Grillshack Restaurants: Restaurant entrepreneur Richard Caring, who owns Cote and Bill’s Produce and Grocery Store, has incorporated a new restaurant business, Grillshack Restaurants. The company was incorporated on 10 September and changed its name to Grillshack Restaurants on 26 October. Caring’s finance director James Lawrence is a director of the newly formed company – he is has been a director of Soho House since 2008 and a director of Caprice Holdings since 2005, both of which Caring owns or has a substantial stake in.

Turkish company buys 50 per cent of Zuma: Turkish-based Dogus Group has bought 50 per cent of Azumi, which own the Zuma and Roka restaurant brands. The move is thought to be the prelude to international expansion. Azumi already operates sites in Hong Kong, Dubai, Miami, Bangkok and Istanbul.

McDonald’s re-designs staff uniforms: McDonald’s has re-designed staff uniforms so that they are in keeping with the more muted tones of its restaurants. The new uniforms, designed by Hemingway Design, which is run by Wayne and Gerardine Hemingway, has seen the former black and brown uniforms replaced by aubergine, dark green and mustard colours. The traditional staff baseball cap has been replaced with a shorter-peaked cap similar to the style worn by bakers or staff in an Italian pizzeria. Managers’ suits are more formal, with sharper tailoring and subtle detailing, skinny ties for men and pencil skirts for women. The uniform will be worn by all 87,000 McDonald’s staff by the end of 2012.

Carluccio’s opens in Worcester: Carluccio’s has opened its 69th site in the UK in Worcester. The opening, in the Crowngate shopping centre, was overseen by founder Antonio Carluccio. He said: “To be a Carluccio’s, it has to be a very special position where success is guaranteed. I can understand that a smaller town needs something funky and this is serious funkiness with good food, good ambience and the personnel are very nice.”

New coffee and deli shop concept opens in Amersham: A new coffee shop and deli concept, The Grocer at 91, has opened in Amersham’s Old Town. The new artisan store is the brainchild of Kim Bates and Marcello Cinelli from Chorleywood. Bates said: “We’ve both got a retail background but this is the first time we’ve opened something together. It’s something we’ve talked about doing and finally got round to realising the dream. We felt it was the right area for this type of artisan deli and coffee shop.”

Loungers provides detail on two more sites: Loungers, the fast-expanding café bar concept headed by Alex Reilley and backed by Piper Private Equity, has begun work this week on a new site, Grupo Lounge, in Westbury-on-Trym, with an opening planned at the end of January. Meanwhile, the company aims to start work on a Cosy Club venue in Exeter, Devon, in January.

Brewdog to hit double figures in pub estate next month: Scottish brewer and retailer Brewdog has reported that it is expecting to open its tenth site in Birmingham in mid-December – the opening has been delayed by about month. The company’s eleventh opening is set for Leeds in early 2013.

Newquay opposes lap-dancing club: Newquay Town Council has voted down a plan to turn the top floor of the Beach nightclub into a “hostess and lap-dancing” club called The Attic. Councillors voted against the application for a sexual entertainment venue licence on the basis the club is “slap bang in the middle of the primary shopping area”. Applicant Jane Hawkey, who runs the Beach, told councillors at their meeting last week that the town needed to embrace all types of business to flourish. She also said there should be no grounds to refuse her application based on location as the club is part of the “Golden Triangle” area of pubs, clubs and strip clubs. However, councillors dismissed the argument, saying the area had “fundamentally changed” since the arrival of Wetherspoon’s pub The Cribbar, directly behind the proposed lap-dancing club. The final decision will be made in the New Year.

Poncho 8 secures investment to grow to 20 sites: Mexican restaurant chain Poncho 8, which will open a third store in London’s Leadenhall at the end of November, has secured funding for a major new expansion plan involving the opening of not less than 20 new stores by the end of 2014. The funding has been provided by a small consortium of investors who operate in the restaurant and food sector. The investors have substantial interests in restaurant, food manufacturing, food distribution and drinks businesses, including owning and operating 100 franchised home-delivery pizza stores with an aggregate turnover approaching £100 million. A target of 60 stores by the end of 2016 has been set – no further equity investment is required. “It’s incredibly exciting to have secured such significant investment,” said Poncho 8 co-founder Nick Troen. “Having recently celebrated our third birthday, we’re now looking forward to taking our fresh Mexican food into a further 17 stores by the end of our fifth year.”

Cow Bar and Grill to open in Preston: A new restaurant and bar, Cow Bar and Grill, is set to replace the specialist steak restaurant Steakout in Preston’s Cannon Street, which closed its doors after just ten months. Cow Bar and Grill owners have applied to licensing chiefs for a variation to its premises licence that would allow the site to function as a bar too. Opening night will be next Thursday (November 29).

Hall & Woodhouse opens £2.4m Portishead Marina site: Hall & Woodhouse has opened its £2.4 million pub restaurant at Portishead Marina, which has been built out of 28 recycled shipping containers. Retail director David Hoare said: “Constructing this magnificent pub-restaurant is the culmination of a plan to build something truly special. With this location we have really pushed the boundaries to create a destination venue that is completely relevant to its setting. The building has to be seen to fully understand the way it fits within the surrounding maritime landscape. We’ve used a total of 28 recycled shipping containers to reflect the stunning dockside location, and there are even three private dining areas that sit within individual containers, which create a truly unique dining experience.”

Number Works Pub Company opens eighth site: Number Works Pub Company, which is headed by Martyn Hathaway and is pioneering a new-style value-food offer, has opened its eighth site, The Travellers Rest, Newent, Gloucestershire. The opening comes after it unveiled its seventh site in late July - Enterprise Inns’ Greyhound in Bromsgrove. The Number Works Pub Company is offering food at the bargain price-points of £2, £4, £6, and £8. Hathaway set up the company in 2009 after 20 years’ experience in the pub trade. The £2 menu offers, for example, chicken breast salad, two fishcakes with a sweet chilli dipping sauce and soup of the day. His £8 menu lists 14 oz T-bone steak, a full rack of BBQ pork ribs and mega mixed grill among a range of eight menu items. Sunday roast dinner costs £4. His pubs open for food between 10am and 9pm each day with a coffee and cake offer for £1 to attract customers in the morning. Hathaway works to a low Gross Profit on food of 38 per cent but the extra drinks business that is attracted by the drinks offer means his pubs have an overall Gross Profit of 55 per cent.

Glasgow bakers launch bakery ATM machine: Glasgow-based Bradford Bakers has launched an ATM machine that dispenses freshly-baked cupcakes within its latest venture, the Bakery ATM, in the city’s St Enoch Centre today. Customers insert their payment card and select their treat of choice, which is then dispensed in a protective box. There are seven different flavours be available at any one time, including Irn Bru, Raspberry Dream and Malteser Mint Medley, and the Bakery ATM will be restocked daily with cakes freshly made at one of Bradford’s bakeries. Claire Bradford, managing director of Bradford’s Bakers, said: “We might be a fourth generation family firm, but launching the first bakery ATM in the UK in Glasgow shows that we’ve never stopped looking for fresh ways to service our customers.”

Everards applies to re-develop pub site for homes: Leicestershire brewer and retailer Everards has applied for planning consent to knockdown the Linden pub in Mountsorrel to build nine homes. A spokesman for Everards told This is Leicestershire that the company is “committed to operating and investing in the pub estate” but that, in some cases, individual pubs were no longer viable. He added: “In 2012 alone, we have completed a large number of investments, including significant developments at The Globe, in Leicester, and The Bull’s Head, in Ratby. Everards also continues to invest in purchasing pubs and has acquired four pubs this year, three of which were closed and have been reopened following investment.”

Francesco restaurant owner to open café format in Maidenhead: The owner of Francesco restaurant, which has sites in Marlow and Windsor, is to open a cafe format called Café Franco in Maidenhead’s Nicholsons Centre. The space was formerly occupied by Café Giardino, which closed in June after the chain’s owners went into administration. The new Café Franco will serve a mix of hot and cold snacks and drinks, with the company intending to bring in a menu of hot lunch specials and home-baked cakes once they are settled in.

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