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Tue 15th Jan 2013 - Breaking News
Costa Coffee launches new generation Costa Express machine
Hop Back Brewery reports pub market tipping point 
Redcomb Pubs in talks on funding; plans up to five new openings in 2013

Costa Coffee partners with Pininfarina to create new generation Costa Express machine: Costa Coffee has partnered with Italian design firm Pinanfarina to create a new generation of self-serve Costa Express coffee machine, the CEM-200, which offers 250 drink choices. The new machine will allow Whitbread to expand its Costa Express network into new consumer segments – corporate offices, airports and railway stations. Whitbread plans to expand Costa Coffee vending machines into new market segments after creating a network of 1,986 machines in motorway service stations and garages since acquiring the Coffee Nation business. The new machine offers cashless payment and will provide the ability for Costa to give out coupons that customers can redeem on a subsequent visit, encouraging repeat business. “Advanced technology, iconic design and ease of use are elements marking the project. The result is a product expressing the true spirit of Pininfarina’s style,” said Paolo Pininfarina, chairman of the Pininfarina Group. Pinanfarina did the design work on Coca-Cola’s Freestyle machine, which is being trialed at Burger King sites in Greater London after success in the US. It is claimed that the CEM-200 leapfrogs existing coffee vending technologies by producing better coffee and giving customers an engaging, immersive experience. The new machine incorporates Intel Anonymous Viewer Analytics to allow Costa to understand more about who’s using machines and what they’re buying to enable it to provide the right selection of coffee at each location. A spokesman for Intel said: “This solution helps Costa strengthen pricing power, offer customers the right product mix, increase sales per transaction and improve operating margins. It’s a full experience self-serve café, which also adds an incredible blend of new technologies to help the vendor promote brands in ways that have never been available before.”

Propel Opinion by Paul Charity: The acquisition of the Coffee Nation business in May 2011 by Whitbread chief executive Andy Harrison for £59.5m was his first major strategic deal after taking the helm in September 2010. It’s already proven to be a runaway success – Coffee Nation operated 900 machines on acquisition. Coffee Nation machines saw a 20% increase in volume when converted to Costa Express. The creation of a new generation machine paves the way for the rapid expansion of Costa’s network of vending machines after Harrison told City analysts at the end of last year that the Costa Express business plan was ahead of schedule.

Hop Back Brewery reports pub market reached tipping point: Hop Back Brewery, which has an estate of ten pubs, has reported lower profit and turnover as customers are put off visiting traditional pubs because of price. The company reported pre-tax profit of £119,731 (2011: £132,173) on turnover of £3,941,869 (2011: £4,095,496) in the year to 30 September 2012. The company said: “Although (the profit) is less than we anticipated, we were badly affected by the poor trading in August suffered across our sector, possibly because of bad weather and the Olympics. August has in the past been our best trading month by far. However, cash flow continued to be positive and we carry very little debt. We remain cautious about the current year given that the economic situation continues to be poor and the compound effect of duty rises which makes beer ever more expensive. We seemed to have reached a tipping point on price, which is putting off customers going to the traditional pub. We are also operating in what is becoming an increasingly crowded market, with a considerable increase in microbreweries, many of which benefit from a lower rate of duty than us, all fighting for the business of a small number of pubs.” The company added: “We would also like to thank all our staff for their continued flexibility during uncertain times.”

Redcomb Pubs in talks on funding; plans up to five new openings in 2013: Redcomb Pubs, the operator of six pubs led by former Mitchells & Butlers marketing executive Dan Shotton, is exploring funding options as it plans the next stage of its development. The company is currently debt-free and cash positive having opened its sixth site, The Crown and Horns in East Ilsley, near Newbury, Berkshire, at the start of December. Shotton told Morning Briefing: “Ideally, we’d like to open at least three pubs in 2013 and up to as many as five. We’re exploring a number of financing options.” Options are thought to include a Enterprise Investment Scheme and business angel investment. Meanwhile, the company saw 4.5% like-for-like sales growth in December. Shotton said: “Christmas Day and Boxing Day were great – and New Year’s Eve was the best we’ve ever had. Generally, we were very happy and January has been strong so far.”

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