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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Tue 11th Dec 2012 - Bill’s, McDonald’s and Whitbread

Story of the day:

Las Iguanas targets 40 new openings: Latin American restaurant chain Las Iguanas, led by Eren Ali, has identified another 40 potential locations in the UK beyond its current 36-strong site pipeline. The company has funding to grow from its current 28 sites to 36 – but believes the market for the brand is 40 sites larger. Ali told Morning Briefing: “We’ve done quite a lot of work on this and identified 40 street names we feel we could be represented on in the UK. Las Iguanas is not a one-trick pony and we have four areas where the brand trades – high street, leisure developments, shopping centres and neighbourhood sites.” Las Iguanas was founded 22 years ago and has only given up two sites in its history – it moved from its original Bristol Harbourside site to a larger site and gave up a site in Soho where takings where £30,000 net per week but property costs were £10,000 per week. “We must have been having a mad day in the office when we signed that lease,” said Ali. Las Iguanas invests between £750,000 and £900,000 on new openings, targeting £30,000 per week net in takings and a minimum of £300,000 in site Ebitda – it’s return on cash is 50 per cent. “We get pay back on investments in two years,” said Ali. The company Stratford Westfield site took £175,000 net during one week of the Olympics. “We didn’t have a single complaint and it’s a fresh food kitchen,” added Ali.

Propel Quarterly magazine available online: The winter 2012 edition of Propel Quarterly magazine is now available to view online at

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:

Licensing figures show licensed premises stable: Home Office figures show that the number of licensed premises has remained stable for the past two years. The figures show that on 31 March 2012 in England and Wales, there were in force: 202,000 premises licences, the same as on 31 March 2010; 15,900 club premises certificates, six per cent fewer than in 2010; and 502,400 personal licences, 16 per cent more than in 2010.

Norfolk landlady to address parliamentary pub lobby tomorrow: Norfolk landlady Dawn Hopkins, who runs a pub in Norwich, has been chosen to address a rally in London that follows a mass parliamentary lobby calling for MPs to back the great British pub. More than 1,000 Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) members, brewers and publicans will attend the event where Dawn Hopkins will speak alongside MPs Greg Mulholland, Andrew Griffiths, Caroline Nokes, Charlotte Leslie, Hazel Blears and Colin Valentine and various Camra members. The event is organised by Camra’s Save Your Pint Campaign, which is calling for the controversial beer tax escalator, which puts two per cent above inflation each year on the cost of a pint, to be scrapped. The rally will take place from 4pm to 4.30pm on Wednesday, December 12 at the Emmanuel Centre, Marsham Street, SW1P 3DW.

Diageo’s Captain Morgan hits ten million case mark: Diageo’s Captain Morgan, the world’s number two brand in the rum category has reached a landmark ten million cases sold, up by over 500,000 cases from the prior 12 month period. It has become only the sixth premium spirit to sell ten million cases globally. Captain Morgan is currently the number three spirit in the US, the world’s largest spirit market and the number one spirit in the rum category in Canada.

UK beer tax bill bigger than 16 countries put together: The UK pays more in beer tax than in 16 major European countries put together, according to analysis by the British Beer & Pub Association that was published in The Sun on Sunday newspaper at the weekend. Following years of above-inflation increases, the beer tax bill across a huge swathe of Europe - from, Portugal to Hungary, and including Germany, France, Italy and Spain - is less than in the UK.

Call for entries for BII Licensee of the Year: Pub landlords and managers are being urged to put themselves forward for one of the biggest prizes in pub retailing: the coveted title of BII Licensee of the Year. Previous winners of the title include Mahdis Neghabian of The Camden Eye in London and Darran Lingley of The Five Bells in Colne Engaine, near Colchester. The trade body is calling for entries from those who think they’ve got what it takes before the new year deadline of 11 January 2013. After a rigorous judging process, the licensee who emerges as the best of the best will be unveiled at the annual BII Lunch in May. Judges at the BII say that the winner will be able to demonstrate: passion, knowledge, and a brilliant pub operation; outstanding business acumen; a clear commitment to staff training and development, plus the ability to act as a figurehead for the British pub industry.

Company news:

Costa Coffee like-for-likes up by 7.1 per cent: Costa Coffee was the star performer again at Whitbread in its third quarter with like-for-like sales up 7.1 per cent. Meanwhile, Premier Inn saw like-for-like sales up 2.5 per cent and pub restaurants were up by 1.9 per cent. Chief executive Andy Harrison said: “Whitbread continued its strong growth momentum with total sales up 14.4 per cent together with good like-for-like sales growth of 3.3 per cent. This once again demonstrates the strength of our brands. During the third quarter, Premier Inn continued to outperform its competitive set with total sales growth of 12.6 per cent and like-for-like sales growth of 2.5 per cent. Restaurants continued to outperform the market with like-for-like sales growth of 1.9 per cent, against tougher comparatives. Costa continued its strong sales momentum with UK like-for-like equity stores up 7.1 per cent and total sales up 25.5 per cent. The economic environment remains challenging with no change in our background consumer market. We are on track to deliver full year results in line with expectations.”

Evolved Bill’s opens in Horsham and Guildford: Bill’s, which is owned by entrepreneur Richard Caring, opened sites in Horsham and Guildford yesterday to take estate numbers to 15. Propel Morning Briefing managing director Paul Charity said: “The latest iteration of Bill’s to open in Horsham shows the concept has evolved markedly from its original incarnation in Lewes, East Sussex back in 2001. The Horsham opening has abandoned fresh produce display completely - and scaled back the display of retail products dramatically. The new-look Bill’s in Horsham has introduced booth seating and has a much more polished look aimed at all-day trading – Bill’s was originally very strong on breakfast business but weak in the evenings. Much of the charm of the original Bill’s was its authentic, rough-at-the-edges combination of grocery shop and café with lots of colourful hippy touches. What has survived in the more smoothed-out version is its distinct approach to hearty and authentic food, beautifully presented and enough by way of nods to its Lewes original, with stripped wooden floorboards and unpolished tables, to keep its original fans content. The Horsham Bill’s is located 50 metres from a Cote, also owned by Richard Caring, and the company will be fascinated to see which brand is the more successful placed side-by-side. For my money, I think Bill’s will shade it.”

McDonald’s sales bounce back in November: McDonald’s has reported that sales grew by 2.4 per cent in November. The sale bounce-back came after the company reported sales dropped in October for the first time since 2003. Sales were up by 2.5 per cent in the US, 1.4 per cent in Europe and 0.6 per cent in Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa. In Europe, positive results in the UK, Russia and other markets were partly offset by performance in Germany. Chief executive Don Thompson said: “We are strengthening our focus on the global priorities that are most impactful to our customers – optimising our menu, modernising the customer experience and broadening accessibility to our brand to move our business forward amid today’s broad-based economic and competitive challenges.”

Innventure posts record sales week: Innventure, the six-strong multiple headed by former Mitchells & Butlers executive Chris Gerard, has posted its largest ever week of turnover with sales of £186,000. The largest sales week before at Innventure was £184,000 in the second week of December 2011. Record sales at the company were aided by its long-established Cambridge site, D’Arry’s Original, producing 30 per cent like-for-like sales growth to hit £33,636 for the week and its Rusty Gun venue, located at St Ippolyts, Hertfordshire, achieving 25.6 per cent like-for-like growth over last year. Gerard said: “This week we expect our busiest week of the year. I have my fingers crossed for lots of records, not least £200,000 plus being achieved for the first time ever.”

Hall and Woodhouse looks to turn Wimborne’s oldest pub back into a coaching inn: Dorset-based brewer and retailer Hall and Woodhouse has submitted a planning application to turn Wimborne’s oldest pub back into a coaching inn with the addition of eight bedrooms. The Albion in the High Street, a Grade II listed building, used to be a coaching inn, but has been a pub since around 2003. It was the site of a devastating fire in July 2009,and much of it needed to be rebuilt - it reopened later that year as a pub with a separate retail unit facing onto the High Street. Matt Kearsey, business partnership director at Hall and Woodhouse, said: “As part of our continuing investment in our public house estate we are looking into the potential of creating letting rooms in the unused space we have at The Albion in Wimborne. We believe that the provision of some quality guest rooms could improve the business and be a good addition to Wimborne’s amenities.” 

JD Wetherspoon moves to add bedrooms at proposed Pwllheli site: JD Wetherspoon has submitted a revised planning application to convert an unused Bon Marche shop in Pwllheli to a pub - it wants to add 14 bedrooms to the site. The west Wales town is one of the smallest Wetherspoon has ever applied to open a pub in – it is the main market town of the Llyn Peninsula but has a population of just 3,861. A planning application was given the green light in March for the conversion but Wetherspoon has now added the bedrooms scheme to the plan. The pub will occupy the basement, ground and first floors, with the upper floors transformed into a hotel. The hotel entrance would also be located on the ground floor, and hotel reception to the first floor.

Simon French – sell Domino’s stock because competitive threat rising: Panmure Gordon leisure analyst Simon French, a long-term bear on Domino’s stock, has issued a sell recommendation on Domino’s stock in the wake of news of Pizza Hut’s expansion plan. He has a target price of 360p a share – company stock was priced at 502p a share yesterday. Of the competitive landscape, French said: “We think (Pizza Hut’s plan) represents a threat to Domino’s own store opening target of 60 per annum, particularly when combined with the 50 openings per annum planned by number three operator, Papa John’s (circa 200 stores). With same store sales growth facing the relatively new threat of third party aggregators such as Just Eat and Hungry House (selling pizza) we think the perfection the stock is priced for is less likely to be delivered.”

SA Brain wins go-ahead for Pershore Coffee #1 in Pershore: Cardiff-based Coffee SA Brain has won planning consent to convert a shop in Pershore to a Coffee #1 site. Wychavon District Council’s planning committee approved the plans to convert the former Ezee PC’S shop at a meeting last Thursday. The application has faced strong opposition from other traders in the town, who gathered 1,032 signatures on a petition opposing it, but the planning authority said it could not find any reason to object on planning grounds.

Two Beds and Bars staff win in Youth Travel Awards: Two members of staff at pan-European hostel provider Beds and Bars have won awards in the British Educational Travel Association’s annual British Youth Travel Awards. Sophie Herbert, sales, marketing and promotional manager was named winner in the Rising Star category and Patrick Kipfmiller, customer experience executive, took the silver award in the Customer Services category. Robert Savage, press and PR manager for Beds and Bars, said: “Everyone at Beds and Bars was absolutely thrilled by the result. Sophie and Patrick are some of our most talented, and hard working employees. No one deserves this more.” 

Pizza Hut to reduce television advertising, steps up digital marketing: Pizza Hut is to reduce TV advertising and focus on a major digital drive next year to increase its share of the pizza delivery and restaurant market. Mark Fox, managing director at Pizza Hut UK, says the brand has been reliant on above-the-line campaigns in the past, but now wants to use “innovative marketing” initiatives to move towards “one-to-one marketing”. He told Marketing Week: “The frequency of visits to our restaurants has dropped in comparison to our penetration rates and there is an opportunity to increase that through digital marketing. Everything we’re planning for the future will be tasked with both acquiring new users but equally in driving our existing customer base to our restaurants using digital. Historically, we’ve been a brand that has been on TV a lot throughout any given year and I think there is less reliance on TV now and more on targeting the individual customer with offers that best suit them.”

Hanley bar to re-open after a £50,000 revamp: A Hanley bar is set to re-open after £50,000 refurbishment. Businessman Louis Barta has taken over the former Fluid bar, in Hanley, formerly known as Zenn and Rush and will re-name it Barista. Barta, who already owns a scrapyard and recovery company, said he wanted to open a “higher class” of bar to help breathe new life into Hanley’s night scene.

Fuller’s hands out Black Cap Christmas puddings: London brewer and retailer Fuller’s has teamed up with Hailo, the Black Cab app, to give Londoners a little lift by offering free ‘Black Cab’ Christmas puddings to passengers. The puddings, hand-crafted to recipe which includes a splash of Fuller’s popular seasonal ale Black Cab Stout, are now on the menu at over 150 of Fuller’s finest pubs across London and the south east. Limited edition, specially-wrapped versions of the puddings will be handed out on a first come, first served basis to London taxi passengers who hail their cab using the Hailo black cab app from Friday, 14 December.

Turtle Bay to open fourth site in Bristol: Caribbean restaurant group Turtle Bay will open its fourth site, in Bristol. The company, which has restaurants in Nottingham, Milton Keynes and Southampton, will open the Bristol site on Broad Quay in February. Turtle Bay opened in Nottingham in October and more restaurants are planned across the country in 2013.

Chef Simon Rogan takes over Manchester hotel restaurants: Chef Simon Rogan, who runs a pub in Cartmel and has two Michelin stars for his L’Enclume eatery, is to take over the management of two restaurants at The Midland Hotel in Manchester. He will take over the running of the former Michelin-starred French restaurant as well as the hotel’s second, larger bar and dining room, which is currently called The Colony. The move coincides with a £400,000 investment taking place at The Midland Hotel. 

Stevie Thomas opens second site: Stevie Thomas, the son of veteran nightclub entrepreneur Stephen Thomas, opened his second venue in London last night – The Rum Kitchen in London’s All Saints Road. The new opening is a 60-cover Caribbean restaurant and cellar bar offering classic West Indian dishes and more than 100 types of rum within a Caribbean beach shack environment. Thomas and his business partners previously opened Ping, a ping pong concept. 

Starbucks US launches $450 metal gift card: Starbucks has launched a $450 metal gift card. Starbucks will make only 5,000 of them and they are only available through luxury goods website, The card comes with gold-level Starbucks card membership benefits, such as gifts and freebie refills on brewed coffee and tea. “Some stores will never even see this card,” said Ryan Records, vice president of card and payments at Starbucks.

Restaurant Group plans Chiquito and Frankie and Benny’s opens in Broughton: The Restaurant Group is lining up two brands at the proposed £13 million Broughton cinema and leisure complex in Flintshire. Colin Gilligan, Broughton Shopping Park’s manager, said: “Frankie & Benny’s and Chiquito would provide venues for family and adult dining and with the cinema will help to establish the park as a leisure destination.”

Pizza Hut Canada produces its own perfume: Pizza Hut Canada has rewarded its Facebook fans by giving them bottles of Pizza Hut Perfume – which boasts top notes of freshly baked, hand-tossed dough. The limited edition perfume was designed to commemorate Pizza Hut Canada reaching 100,000 Facebook fans. Only 110 bottles were produced and shared with Facebook fans who won a bottle by being among the first to share their desire for Pizza Hut perfume. “When our ad team brought the idea to us, we absolutely loved it,” says Beverley D’Cruz, marketing and product development director, Pizza Hut Canada. “What better way to celebrate our Facebook fans than by providing them with a way to enjoy the fresh smell of Pizza Hut pizza whenever they want!”

Travelodge creates ultimate outdoor sleeping experience: A ceiling of twinkling stars has been created at 12 Travelodge hotels across the UK in response to a survey on the most desirable sleeping locations. Artist Carl Marshall and a colleague took three hours to create each cosmic panorama by hand painting individual shooting stars, milky ways and constellations, using glow-in-the-dark paint. During the day, the ceilings look plain white, but in darkness the stars appear to twinkle and dust clouds seem to move mysteriously. The move follows a Travelodge survey of 2,000 adults on sleeping locations that revealed that the most desired place to rest their heads is under a blanket of twinkling stars, with 42 per cent choosing a starry night sky backdrop over a tropical beach, rainforest and jungle. Shakila Ahmed, spokesperson for Travelodge, said: “In response to our latest sleep study, we took the challenge and created the ultimate outdoor sleeping experience indoors.”

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