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Fri 11th Jan 2013 - Brewdog, El Mexicana and Prezzo

Story of the day:

Demand in central London so high landlords are buying tenants out of leases as boom conditions arrive: Demand for quality restaurant sites in central London is so high that landlords are buying tenants out of their leases to replace them at higher rents, property firm Cedar Dean Gilmarc has reported. The agent expects 2013 to see “boom” conditions in London as foreign investment pours into the capital and commercial rents continue to rocket. “Central London is extremely desirable and there is a lot of international investment flooding in,” said David Abramson, of Cedar Dean Gilmarc. “Demand is so great that we are seeing landlords buying tenants out of their leases so they can replace them at higher rents. Supply is limited which means higher premiums are being charged. The trend of residential property increases has not spilled over to the restaurant scene until now but the combination of international investment and success of UK outfits such as Cote and Byron is driving (this).” Budget restaurants offering good quality food are predicted as the big movers of 2013 with burger concepts topping the list with a 40 per cent jump in inquiries to open restaurants. One of the hottest openings of 2013 is likely to be the Shake Shack, a cult ‘roadside’ burger stand, which arrives near The Royal Opera House in Covent Garden in the middle of the year. It serves natural burgers, shakes, frozen custard and beer and has them queuing since its first opening in New York’s Madison Square Park in 2004. “We expect lots of action through 2013 with Londoners being spoilt for choice with new openings all over the central part of the capital,” added Abramson. “The boom will make up for the disappointment of the Olympics. They were a brilliant sporting success but the predicted surge in business for restaurateurs did not happen. But the capital is seen as a destination city and if you have a brand that wants to succeed then you have to be in London at some stage. London is the culinary capital of the world and is enticing big names and big money.”

Propel Multi-Club conference: The first Propel Multi-Club conference takes place at One Moorgate Place, London EC2R 6EA on Tuesday 19 March and multi-site companies can book two free places each on a first come, first serve basis - more than 100 places have already been booked so far. The speaker list will be unveiled later this month. E-mail to book places.

Propel Quarterly magazine available online: The winter 2012-2013 edition of Propel Quarterly magazine is now available to view online at

Industry news:

Almost half of UK consumer too embarrassed to complain: A survey of 2,000 UK consumers by Customer First Solutions has found almost half are too embarrassed to complain about a poor restaurant experience. The survey found that men were more likely to complain (60 per cent) than women (50 per cent), while youngsters aged between 16 and 24 were least likely to complain (42 per cent) and those aged above 55 were most likely to give feedback (63 per cent).

Greggs chief executive warns on food inflation: Greggs chief executive Ken McMeikan has warned that the company is concerned about serious food inflation in the pipeline. He warned that he feared flour is likely to increase in price by 20 to 25 per cent, pork by ten per cent to 15 per cent, poultry by eight per cent to ten per cent and energy bills by five per cent to eight per cent. “Sadly and inevitably there will be some price increases for our customers but I hope we can keep those down to pennies because our customers really appreciate value for money.”

CAMRA donate £18,000 to Pub is the Hub: Pub is The Hub is set to expand its activities promoting community pubs with the help of a donation from CAMRA in December last year. The Campaign has made a donation of £18,000 to the organisation which helps licensees diversify into new business building activities. The money was raised from the proceeds of the sale of tickets for last year’s CAMRA’s annual raffle purchased by over 2,500 people.

Gastro-pub operator launches India social enterprise: Ed Francis, who runs The Hammersmith Hog gastro-pub in Hammersmith, is one of six businessman chosen to launch a social enterprise restaurant in India that will train local people as professional chefs. Francis was chosen by Virgin Media to join Sir Richard Branson in Delhi and Mumbai to lay the foundations for The Bombay Social Club. The business will train up to 25 young people at a time as chefs in Mumbai. The Hampshire Hog is co-owned by Laurence Olivier’s daughter Tamsin Olivier and her business partner, Abigail Pritchard. The pair ran the successful Engineer in Primrose Hill as Mitchells & Butlers franchisee until the company converted the site to its managed division.

Harry Enfield upsets neighbours with pub plan: Comedian Harry Enfield has upset neighbours in Primrose Hill with a plan to convert the Queens No 1 pub into a £3 million family home. The funny man bought the Queens No 1 in Edis Street, Primrose Hill last summer when the landlord retired. He originally wanted to live upstairs, letting a friend run a restaurant downstairs. However, Enfield now wants convert it to a house after the friend decided the restaurant plan was not financially viable. The move has dismayed some residents, and a local councillor called the pub’s demise a “tragic loss”.

Research company predicts 2013 is the year digital marketing becomes just marketing: Research company Forrester has predicted that 2013 is the year that digital marketing will lose its prefix and just be referred to as “marketing”. It forecasts that all marketers’ output will become “inherently digital” over the coming months. It suggests that digital budgets will become 20 per cent of the total, accounting for about $50bn (£31bn) worldwide.

1970s food sees revival: Delivery firm Ocado has reported a revival in demand for 1970s favourites. Sales of Arctic roll has risen by 40 per cent in the last year, chicken Kiev sales are up by 59 per cent and sales of Heston Blumenthal’s modern take on the prawn cocktail rose 95 per cent. Meanwhile, demand for quiche is up by 20 per cent, Angel Delight sales rose more than five per cent and SodaStream sales shot up by 82 per cent. 

Company news:

Hydes closes out cap and collar hedging arrangement: North west brewer and retailer Hydes has taken advantage of the low interest environment to close out an existing cap and collar hedging arrangement. The company said it had concluded: “There was a strong business case to make the break at a cost of £187,000 as part of a wider financial restructure. The company has refinanced a £9.5m revolving credit facility with an expiry date of 31 December 2014 and entered into an interest rate swap arrangement which hedges £4.5m of that new facility until expiry.” It said: “The company’s interest costs have been fixed at the rate swap of 1.08 per cent plus the agreed lending margin and less stringent banking covenants have been established.” On the pubs front, the company added that “there is no doubt that the pendulum has swung back in favour of managed houses” and its tenanted estate is “a very challenging area of the business”. It added: “Our initiatives to beat the downturn include a detailed business review with one tenant each week, offering financial support where appropriate and low cost trade support. We are assisting tenants with price points to improve gross margins and endeavouring to ensure that our pubs are sustainable businesses in their local communities.”

Carlsberg joins forces with CPL Training: Carlsberg has joined forces with leading training provider CPL Training to deliver £250,000 worth of training to pubs. Thousands of independent free trade pubs will benefit from completely free or heavily discounted courses from the 24 online or face-to-face courses available from CPL. Pubs can also gain access to Carlsberg UK’s bespoke courses which include ‘Getting your Range Right’ and ‘Eight Steps to Success’. The courses will be available via the award winning ‘We Deliver More’ scheme. In addition, hundreds of pubs will benefit from a £100 discount on personal licence training APLH and SCPLH. David Scott, director of marketing for Carlsberg UK, said: “It’s never been more important for pubs to have fully trained and skilled staff. However, in these tough economic times, sometimes training and development courses are pushed to the bottom of the ‘to do’ list as they can be expensive. That’s why we have joined forces with CPL - so we can continue to work in partnership with our customers and provide them with affordable and useful training courses and it demonstrates that we really do deliver more to customers.”

Gourmet Burger Kitchen to take over Animal Inns site in Norwich: Gourmet Burger Kitchen will take over the Mackintosh’s Canteen site in Norwich vacated by Animal Inns. Sheridan Smith, marketing manager of Chapelfield Shopping Centre, said: “Obviously we are always sorry when a tenant chooses to leave Chapelfield; it is particularly sad to see Mackintosh’s go because the name is so synonymous with the history of Chapelfield. However, changes to the mix of shops, cafes and restaurants within the shopping centre are key to Chapelfield’s success. Gourmet Burger Kitchen, which is taking over the unit vacated by Mackintosh’s Canteen, will bring a new dynamic to Chapelfield Plain and offer our shoppers something fresh and exciting.”

Fuller’s first to stock Mr Trotter’s British pork scratchings: London brewer and retailer Fuller’s is the first pub major pub company to stock Mr Trotter’s British pork scratchings, which aim to redefine the pork scratching category. Mr Trotter’s Great British Pork Crackling was the brainchild of food writers Tom Parker Bowles and Matthew Fort with Cotswold farmer Rupert Ponsonby and pork scratching producer Graham Jebb of RayGray Snacks. Their dream was to create a new interpretation of the scratching made from 100 per cent British pigs and using no added MSG. Mr Trotter’s Great British Pork Crackling are available in Fuller’s 16 Ale & Pie pubs in London and Birmingham.

New Pub Company reports 8.3 per cent sales growth in December: New Pub Company, the London-based operator of seven pubs led by Peter Linacre, has reported 8.3 per cent like-for-like sales growth in the five weeks between the start of December and 5 January. Linacre told Morning Briefing: “I’m mildly disappointed – the figures would have been even better but for a very wet New Year’s Eve when we lost daytime trading.” The company has enjoyed a particular boost at its Camden Eye pub since the installation of a wood-fired pizza oven – sales are “flying” report Linacre. The company plans to introduce take-away pizza in late January.

All Star Lanes to open first site out of London next month: Boutique bowling alley firm All Star Lane will open its £2.5m Manchester site, the first outside of London, next month. The venue in The Great Northern Warehouse, off Peter Street, will offer eight tenpin bowling lanes, but also a swanky cocktail bar and 80 cover restaurant, indoor barbecue as well as private bowling and karaoke. It is scheduled to open at the end of the February with an official launch on 1 March.

3,000 Punch pubs to have free Wi-Fi by the end of March: A total of 3,000 Punch pubs will have free Wi-Fi by the end of March. Punch Taverns has signed a deal with internet provider The Cloud to install the service in two thirds of its estate. Julie Clamp, machine development manager at Punch, said: “This free initiative puts our pubs on a level with managed houses, national coffee and restaurant chains. We have already seen pubs making the most of the opportunity Wi-Fi offers, through introducing meeting space for business users, adding or upgrading a coffee offer to increase dwell time or adding social media followers through use of Wi-Fi.”

Brewdog to honour investors at official launch of new Ellon brewery: Brewdog will honour one of investors – or “equity punks” as the company calls them – by choosing one to officially open its new Ellon brewery. The company states: “Want to officially open the new brewery? Here is how you can: We want to see you scamps get out there and get creative. We have downloadable PDF signs which we want you to print off and photograph yourselves with. Only parameters are that the words must be readable, and your gorgeous faces visible. The winner will be picked by an in house Brewdog staff vote. Email your submissions in by the 14th of January to, results to be announced on Tuesday the 15th. All of the photos will then be turned into a mural on the wall of the new brewery as a tribute to the investors who made the project possible. Even if you can’t make the opening event, please submit a photo and ensure your picture is part of the Equity Punk mural at the new brewery!”

Glasgow Ivy forced into name change: Glasgow’s Ivy restaurant has been forced to change its name to Distill after being threatened by the lawyers for its London namesake. The owners of Ivy on Argyle Street in Glasgow claim they lost £20,000 in business over Christmas after lawyers for The Ivy in London – a haunt of celebrities such as the Beckhams – banned it from advertising. The Glasgow eatery reports it’s cost £10,000 to rebrand the restaurant. Manager said: “I can’t remember a single person who has come in for a meal and said, ‘Oh no, we thought this was The Ivy in the west end of London’. Their lawyers contacted us in the summer basically telling in no uncertain terms that we had to change our name or we would be in all sorts of trouble. We were not allowed to do any advertising, which was a nightmare in the run-up to Christmas. It has cost us a fortune.”

El Mexicana looks to open ten sites in roll-out: Mexican restaurant El Mexicana is looking to open ten new restaurants this year as it rolls out across the UK. The brand has appointed GCW to advise on its expansion plans and is looking to open sites as a priority in London, Birmingham and Manchester. It opened its first restaurant at Meadowhall, Sheffield in December 2011. It followed this last year with openings on London’s New Oxford Street and in Ilford, as well as franchises at three Extra Services motorway service stations in Beaconsfield, Cobham and Cambridge. Two more are expected to open at Baldock and Peterborough early this year. Other locations being considered for the 800-1,500 sq ft restaurants include Bristol, Cambridge, Leeds, Liverpool, Nottingham, Oxford and Sheffield.

New £1.5m floating pub planned for Windsor: A floating military-themed pub is planned for Windsor. Douglas Fitch and Ian Burley have applied to the Royal Borough to build a £1.5million purpose-built vessel on the Thames called The Guardsman, opposite Mercer House in Thames Side. The friends say they want it to be somewhere present and former Household Brigade soldiers based at Windsor barracks can enjoy, along with community members and tourists. Plans include a bar, a restaurant with space for 200 people selling British food and Asian cuisines, cigar smoking area, memorabilia shop, piano bar and outdoor bandstand, for use from 2-7pm.

PizzaExpress aims to add 200 international restaurants: PizzaExpress will open sites in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia this year as it aims to add 200 overseas restaurants in the next five years, The Times has reported. 

Marston’s wins consent to build pub on Southport seafront: Midlands-based brewer and retailer Marstons has won consent to build on the town’s seafront, occupying empty land near to Marine Drive and Ocean Plaza last summer. A number of groups and organisations opposed the plans, which also include the erection of a drive-through coffee shop on the site, claiming that the prime piece of real estate should be used to house facilities that would help boost tourism in the area.

Hall & Woodhouse one-third of new tenants coming from managed background: Dorset based Hall & Woodhouse has reported a surge in the number of former managed house operators moving into its tenanted model: a third of all successful applicants in the last two years. The family brewer has also seen an increase in the number of online applicants from managed house backgrounds. Matt Kearsey, business partnerships director, said: “The biggest reason managers are making this move is our Business Partnerships Agreement which guarantees a contract free of rent reviews. It is landlord and tenant protected and we are essentially giving our business partners a fairer share of the profit they make, through cheaper beer prices and machine splits.” Rosie and Clive Russell, licensees at The Onslow Arms, Loxwood, said: “We have been at The Onslow Arms for five months now, having previously spent 18 years within managed houses. The change from managed to a pub partnership with Hall & Woodhouse has been smooth and comfortable due to the level of support we have received from everyone within the brewery. It has most certainly been worth it; it is great having the autonomy to make all business decisions ourselves. One of the many ways Hall & Woodhouse has supported us is by creating a website, with professional photography, at their expense. We would definitely recommend making the switch from managed to a pub partnership; just make sure you embark on a partnership with a company who provide support.”

Bakewell sets aside tart and pudding rivalry to oppose Costa: One of Derbyshire’s longest running food rivalries has been put aside as shop owners and residents in Bakewell attempt to block an opening by Costa. Zoe McBurnie, owner of The Bakewell Tart Shop and Coffee House and Jemma Beagrie, owner of The Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop are two of the town’s business owners who are fighting against Costa Coffee opening a new 80 seater café in the former Bennett’s Shop on King Street. The two businesses are normally either side of the long-running debate over whether Bakewell should be famous for its tarts or puddings. McBurnie said: “Costa’s plans have split the town in two. At the most recent meeting, after we heard about the appeal decision, no business owners spoke up in favour of Costa but a small minority of residents were very vocal in support of the plans. It was even said that if Costa drove some of the smaller coffee shops out of business this would be a good thing because it would make more empty shops for other national chains to move into.”

Glendola to convert PizzaExpress site to Byron: Glendola Holdings is to convert the PizzaExpress on Cowcross Street in Farringdon to Byron, the better burger concept headed by Tom Byng that it is currently rumoured to be marketing.

Cider bar opens in Grantham, Lincolnshire: A cider bar has opened in Grantham’s Westgate, aiming to bring the feel of a traditional village pub to the town centre. The Apple Tap Coffee and Cider Bar has been opened by manager Ruby Scott who has worked towards setting up the business for the past four years. She said: “Nobody else has opened a cider bar before in Grantham but it’s something I’ve been looking at doing for about four years now. I just wanted to bring a little bit of the old village pub feel back into the town - something a bit retro. I can’t believe how many cider-drinkers there are. Everybody who has come in has loved it. We have lots of regulars already who love the atmosphere.”

Prezzo looks at Windsor site: Prezzo is lining up an opening in the Grade II listed Windsor Royal Station shopping centre. The Friends Life Company, which owns the freehold to the 1851 built station has applied to amalgamate units 64/65 and 66/67 and change the use from retail to restaurant. In the application’s design and access statement on the Royal Borough’s website they say discussions have taken place with Prezzo. The units are adjacent to Gourmet Burger Kitchen restaurant and La Tasca restaurant and it would be a 68-cover restaurant. Council planners will make a decision by 1 March.

Shepherd Neame goes viral with Spitfire spoof: Shepherd Neame published the first picture of a Spitfire being uncovered in Burma yesterday. The twitter picture, when opened, revealed an archaeologist, trowel in hand, digging a bottle of Spitfire ale!

Gatecrasher sets opening date for £1m Watford nightclub: Nightclub company Gatecrasher is to re-open its Watford nightclub as Cameo on 17 January after a £1m refurbishment.  Gatecrasher managing director Simon Raine said: “Taking influences from the party capital of the world Miami, Cameo will be ultra-glamorous and super-sexy. At Cameo, there will be an extraordinary night every-night. 30 VIP booths and a jam-packed dance floor will invite clubbers to have a truly awesome party. Watford get ready!” Gatecrasher was forced to close the venue and re-brand at a licensing hearing.

Aneesa’s Buffet Restaurant opens second site in Newcastle: Aneesa’s Buffet Restaurant has opened its second site – the first is in South Shields – after buying the leasehold interest on the Azzuri Restaurant in Newcastle city centre (on Forster Street below the city’s Travelodge). Chris Laws, who handled this sale at Christie + Co, said: “Both the landlord and tenant were a pleasure to deal with and a deal was quickly agreed with Aneesa Buffet Restaurants. This sale demonstrates that the Newcastle restaurant market remains buoyant, with many experienced operators looking to expand.”

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