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Fri 1st Feb 2013 - Antic, Enterprise and YO! Sushi

Story of the day:

Enterprise Inns to embark on re-positioning of pubs with £10m spend; further £10m will be spent to ensure every pub has curb appeal by September: Enterprise Inns has embarked on a £10m investment in around 30 pubs ripe for repositioning or closed as it moves out of its ‘defensive stage’, chief executive Ted Tuppen has reported. Tuppen said the company now has the ‘space, time, resource and energy’ to look at bigger projects that would involve investments of between £200,000 and £600,000 per site. One example is The White Lion in Portishead, near Bristol, where £600,000 will be invested in re-opening a pub closed for a year – it will be run by licensees that already operate two Enterprise pubs when it re-opens in May. The company will also spend £10m on external improvements at around 1,000 pubs to create greater curb appeal, with ‘an awful lot done by Easter’, Tuppen said. “As we move out of our defensive phase, we are looking to spend capital expenditure on projects to drive the business forward. Now we are on the front foot, I don’t want a single pub in the estate we’re not proud of by September,” he added. The investment focus is linked to renewed confidence that the company has dealt with its debt levels as evidenced in the Enterprise share price and its 2018 bonds currently trading at par. Tuppen said the snow in January is estimated to have cost the company £1.5m in earnings. Of future trading, he said: “(It will be) difficult to achieve the same level of rain as last year (when it) rained every single Bank Holiday weekend.” The company reported a lower level of business failures in its first quarter than the year before. Chief operating officer Simon Townsend added: “January has presented us with no greater difficulties than we normally experience.” A new wine and spirits contract with Carlsberg would be in place within “the next couple of weeks” – the collapse of WaverleyTBS had cost Enterprise £1m. A total of 102 bottom-end pubs have been sold for a total of £31m, or £300,000 each, with 20 top-end pubs sold for £18m, or £900,000 each.

Bookings for Spring edition of Propel Quarterly: The Spring 2013 edition of Propel Quarterly is now open for advertising bookings. Contact either or to book space.

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. E-mail to book places.

Industry news:

Number of micropubs in Kent to double by Easter: The number of micropubs in Kent, which boasts seven of the 16 that currently trade in the UK, is set to double by Easter. One of the founders of the micropub boom is Martyn Hillier, landlord of The Butcher’s Arms at Herne, near Canterbury, the country’s first micropub. Since opening in 2005, it has won several awards from the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra). Hillier, who is a leading member of trade body the Micropubs Association, said: “I thought of the concept - real ale, no music, no mobile phones, no television, no lager or spirits. The micropub model is a growing revolution in the pub world as overheads are low and it is possible to make a profit and hence a reasonable living. My concept – to convert empty shops into small pubs – is possible because of the change in the licensing laws in 2005, which saw a shake-up in the rules over the sale of alcohol. Currently there are 16, of which seven are in Kent, and there are seven more to follow in the county by Easter.”

Channel Four to look at Britain through the lens of fried chicken: Channel Four is to air a one-off documentary called The Fried Chicken Shop, billed as an ‘examination of the cultural and economic urban landscape of modern Britain’. Channel 4’s commissioning editor Emma Cooper said: “The Fried Chicken Shop will explore the scale of the nation’s obsession and increasing love of fried chicken. Filmed in one of the UK’s popular fried chicken shops and serving the diverse community of London, it has produced a surprising yet exciting and genuinely illuminating film and tells us the story of Britain today through our voracious appetite for chicken wings.”

FSA – 90% of interest rate swap cases examined show element of mis-selling: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has confirmed that Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds and RBS will start a full review of their sales of interest rate hedging products to small businesses after a preliminary review found 90% of cases were mis-sold. The FSA looked at 173 sales to non-sophisticated customers and found that over 90% of the sales did not comply with at least one or more regulatory requirement. A significant proportion of these 173 cases are likely to result in redress being due to the customer. Martin Wheatley, chief executive designate of the Financial Conduct Authority, said: “Where redress is due, businesses will be put back into the position they should have been without the mis-sale.” The FSA has also been reviewing sales of these products by Allied Irish Bank (UK), Bank of Ireland, Clydesdale and Yorkshire banks, Co-Operative Bank, and Santander UK. The FSA aims to be able to confirm that these banks can launch their reviews by 14 February.

McDonald’s tests “best of” menu: McDonald’s is testing an ‘after midnight’ menu in the US that combines a breakfast and normal menu. A site in Rockford, Illinois is trialing a “McDonald’s After Midnight” menu that pares down the breakfast and dinner menus, offering a selection of both between midnight and 4 am. 

Company news:

YO! Sushi set to open second US site at the end of March: YO! Sushi is on course to open its second Washington DC site at the end of March. The second site will be located in DC’s Penn Quarter and follows an opening in Union Station last summer. Chef Noriyuki Kudo, who oversees the UK chain’s culinary operations in Washington, said: “The menu will be the same, the set-up will be the same.” Kudo changed about 40% of the restaurant’s menu from its UK restaurants, with adjustments in areas such as portion size and roll options, adding new offerings such as yellowtail sashimi with diced jalapeno and citrus ponzu, shrimp glazed with creamy miso sauce, or a spicy tuna tartare with a rice cake. Yo! Sushi’s Union Station location has drawn a steady lunch business, but ‘could do more weekend business’, he told a local blog site. The restaurant has been offering promotions to introduce diners to the restaurant, including all-night happy hours.

Mitchell’s takes fourth Star Pubs and Bars site: Mitchell’s of Lancaster is taking its fourth Star Pubs and Bars site – the tenanted pub operator is spending over £300,000 on transforming The Horns Inn, Churchtown, into a destination pub with a reputation for food and cask ale. Mitchell’s of Lancaster has taken on the lease of the pub on a substantive agreement and is investing a further £70,000 on fixtures and fittings. Work starts this week on refurbishing the pub, which is due to open the third week in March. Jonathan Barker, managing director of Mitchell’s of Lancaster, said: “The Horns Inn is the latest pub we’ve taken on from Star Pubs & Bars. The pubs have in common good locations (and) co-investment to ensure the long-term future.” Chris Moore, trading director at Star Pubs & Bars, said: “We’re delighted to be working in partnership with Mitchells to turn The Horns Inn into a superb destination pub. They share our vision and have the expertise to create great British pubs.” Mitchell’s Pub Management currently has eight pubs on substantive agreements and is looking to take on further leased pubs.

Stoneley Estates to open sixth site: South Wales multiple operator Stoneley Estates is to open its sixth pub on 8 February – a Punch Taverns site called The Three Horseshoes in Malpas that will see a £130,000 co-investment. The new menu will be featuring good quality, value for money home-made food seven days a week and will also feature a new Sunday Carvery at £6.95. Stoneley Estates area manager Sophie Manley, said: “We have six pubs across south Wales and Bristol at the moment. The new Three Horseshoes redevelopment is superb and we are very proud of it - it really has become our company’s flagship.”

Antic London lines up four more sites: Antic London, the company that trades 24 sites after 12-strong subsidiary Antic Limited went into administration, has four more sites lined up. Next month, the company will open ‘The Effra Social’ on Effra Road, Brixton. The company stated: “Previously a Conservative club, the feel of the pub will hark back to the days of its former glory with a definite nod to the 1970s. The venue itself boasts two bars, an event space and dining room and is sure to become a firm favourite among those looking for somewhere new to drink in Brixton.” Other openings lined up are The Chequers, Walthamstow, The Provenance, Colliers Wood and Baring Hall Hotel, Grove Park.

Peach Pub Company plans up to four new openings in 2013; two confirmed: Peach Pub Company, the operator of 16 pubs led by Lee Cash and Hamish Stoddart, is aiming to open as many as four new pubs in 2013 and has two unnamed sites lined up already. The opening programme is a step-change from 2012 when Peach focused on opening one new site – The Star & Garter in Leamington Spa, which is trading well. Stoddart said: “It’s a classic pub - Leamington is Lee’s home town and we always thought that The Star & Garter was the right pub. It was just a case of persuading Greene King to do a joint investment.” The company saw a 4.5% increase in like-for-like sales in December but has reported that the second week in January, the week before the snow arrived, was a “car crash” with minus 10% like-for-likes. The snowy week saw better than expected trading with pubs drawing in customers with special offers as many workers made an early start to the weekend. Last week, Cash and Stoddart undertook a ‘Hero Tour’ of sites in which they spoke to all of their 430 staff personally. “It (was) a tour of eight locations over four days – a two hour briefing session with us followed by a drink,” added Stoddart.

£2.5m plan to restore coaching in unveiled: A £2.5m plan to restore a derelict coaching inn in Chipping, Lancashire has been unveiled. Originally built in 1779, The Talbot Inn is a Grade II listed building and has been closed for business for some years, with the building now having fallen into disrepair. Ivan Wilson, of IWA Architects Ltd, Clitheroe, said: “This is a £2.5m project which aims to provide an economically viable building for sustainable use. The plans include 20 bedrooms, an extension to provide a bar, bistro, function rooms and catering kitchen with parking for 46 cars.”

Heineken to review marketing department: Heineken UK is reviewing the make-up of its marketing team to reflect increasing importance of digital activity in campaigns for brands such as Kronenbourg and Strongbow, a move that could lead to some redundancies, according to Marketing Week . The company aims to restructure its London and Edinburgh based marketing teams to reflect what it describes as the increasing importance of “innovation, media and digital”. A staff consultation is currently underway and it is expected that the new structure will be in place by 1 May. Heineken currently employs 104 marketing staff. In a statement to Marketing Week, the company added: “At this stage, these are simply proposals and we are consulting with those who would be affected by the changes. If fully implemented, the new structure will ensure that we have the right marketing support behind our brands and the full capabilities necessary to compete effectively as the UK’s leading cider and beer business.”

Burger King drops supplier: Burger King has dropped its Irish supplier Silvercrest after tests at its Irish plant showed “very small trace levels of equine DNA”. The company said it had found that Silvercrest used a small percentage of beef imported from a non-approved supplier in Poland. It added: “The promised to deliver 100% Irish and British beef patties and have not done so. This is a clear violation of our specifications and we have terminated our relationship with them.” Burger King vice president Diego Beamonte tells customers in a newspaper advert published this morning: “Our supplier has failed us and in turn we have failed you. We are committed to ensuring this does not happen again.”

First franchised Yo Yo Noodle to open in Newcastle: The first franchised Yo Yo Noodle site will open on Newcastle’s Grainger Street on 11 February. Scott Munro, a director at developer Lugano Property Group, said: “This area of the city centre is a hub for people arriving and leaving the city. There are six public transport stops within 20 metres of the Yo Yo Noodle Bar, and it is mid-distance between Central Station and Monument Metro station, close to two universities and a college. Yo Yo Noodle is an ambitious national chain which suits the location perfectly.” Leon Wong, franchise and acquisitions manager of Yo Yo Noodle, added: “We’re delighted that we can now open our first franchised Yo Yo Noodle Bar in the north east. Lugano was great to work with, and helped the whole process go through smoothly.”

PizzaExpress offers lighter pizzas at Tesco and Waitrose: PizzaExpress is now selling its lighter Giardiniera Light and Pollo Piccante Light through Waitrose and Tesco stores. They each contain fewer than 500 calories and have 40% less fat than other PizzaExpress pizzas.

MasterChef finalist opens first restaurant: A finalist from the TV show MasterChef has opened a new restaurant in Lincoln. Former joiner Eamonn Hunt has launched The Bronze Pig, in Lincoln’s West Parade. Hunt, who finished fifth out of 27,000 applicants in MasterChef last year, said the eatery would specialise in using a wide range of fresh, local produce. The restaurant is inside A Taste of Italy deli and bistro, meaning people can buy fresh Italian produce in the daytime and then dine in the new 30-seat restaurant in the evenings.

Wagamama to open in Hammersmith: Noodle chain Wagamama is to open a site at the former Old Fire Station pub in Shepherd’s Bush Road. The pub closed in September last year and there were rumours the building was to be taken over by a supermarket. No date has been given for the opening.

Everards applies to extend first Ruddles Brewery pub in Oakham: Leicestershire-based brewer and retailer Everards has applied for planning consent to extend and change use of one of the floors of The Horseshoe pub in Oakham, the first and only purpose-built pub opened by the former Ruddles Brewery. Everards communications co-ordinator Micky Sandhu said: “We are currently exploring the various options available to us in relation to possible future uses for the site, including retail, restaurant and indeed a pub in a reconfigured format. We currently don’t have any idea of costs but it’s not uncommon for applications of this nature to be made for our existing sites as we regularly invest in our pub estate through acquisitions, refurbishments, and redevelopments.”

Glasgow microbrewery applies for new site: Glasgow micro-brewery Heidi Beers, which trades as West Brewery, has submitted plans for a new production plant and visitor centre in the city. The company has submitted an application to transform an existing building at Port Dundas, complete with a bar and restaurant. West, which currently operates out of the Templeton Carpet Factory in Glasgow Green, produces a range of German-style beers sold in city pubs and clubs.

Penswood Inns to re-open Falmouth nightclub: Penswood Inns is to re-open the former Remedies nightclub, which closed in November 2011, as a new nightclub called Vanilla, with capacity reduced from 650 to 300 people. The company also runs Truro’s Vanilla bar and nightclub.

Mitchells & Butlers – trading has become more volatile: Mitchells & Butlers chief executive Alistair Darby has reported that trading has become more volatile with “greater peaks and troughs”. Business has strengthened around “special occasions” but has become “more subdued at other times”. The company reported, for example, that like-for-like trading had increased by 11% on Christmas Day in a month that saw like-for-like up 4%. Darby said the fresh challenge centred around labour scheduling to ensure the company prepared for the greater highs and lows of trade. He added that rising guest satisfaction and recommendation scores indicated the company has succeeded in “taking a lot of money” over the festive period while maintaining service standards. The new M&B chief executive said that the company had suffered during the two weeks of snow in January, linked to having 300 country pubs that customers were less keen to drive to. In addition, brands like Toby Carvery have an older clientele less keen to visit when pavements are icy. Last weekend, when the snow cleared, saw a “bounce-back” in business. “Cabin fever set in and we traded strongly at the weekend,” Darby said. Flat margins at M&B indicated that the company was doing a “pretty good job” of labour scheduling for the high and lows whilst “avoiding pubs not having staff in them”. The company has maintained promotional offers in January in line with last year in an environment where M&B thinks promotional activity has increased in the marketplace. Darby said there is a danger of over-promoting the business in January. In the value end of the market “customers are shopping around” this month. “Whether that’s making any money for anyone is another matter,” said Darby. In terms of expansion Darby forecast circa 40 new openings or major conversions in the year. He noted a ‘polarisation’ in the marketplace with more competitive bidding on the better sites. “We will (walk) away from sites where bidding is too competitive,” Darby said. “There has been a polarisation towards high quality sites (and) we will not overbid.” 

TGI Friday’s reports two business innovations that have reduced staff turnover: TGI Friday’s, the business led by Karen Forrester, has reported it has introduced two innovations that have reduced staff turnover - Hot Schedules and Cash Counters. Last year, TGI Friday’s became the first company in the UK to use Hot Schedules – a new technology developed in the United States specifically for the service industry. Since adopting the system in May 2012, Friday’s saves around 150 man hours every week. The system simplifies the process of team management, saving supervisors from the time-consuming task of managing employee schedule requests, shift changes, and information recording. The system lets the team check their shifts at any time through their smart phone, and allows individuals to swap shifts and pick up overtime easily through SMS and email, rather than liaising with colleagues and management. The company reports Hot Schedules has reduced team turnover through better communication, flexibility, and increased team engagement. Meanwhile, the company has built on the success of Hot Schedules by installing Cash Counters in each site. Cashing up the tills at the end of the day is often a time-consuming task, but the introduction of the machines has reduced the number of hours the management team work a month by 1,200 hours, the company said. This allows the team to spend less time back-of-house and more with Friday’s guests. Tim Cullum, TGI Friday’s UK operations director, said: “We pride ourselves on leading the way in our industry, not just through our customer service and food and drink development, but through improving our business for our team as well as our guests. Hot Schedules is yet another way we show we’re on the leading edge of providing our team with a great employment experience, as they are empowered with the flexibility to negotiate the hours that suit their lifestyle and personal commitments. Feedback shows that Hot Schedules is revolutionising the way we organise our rotas, and Cash Counters has meant that team members can efficiently close-up at the end of the day, helping reduce late hours. Feedback from the restaurants has been fantastic.”

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