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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Thu 7th Feb 2013 - David Page, Punch and Starbucks

Story of the day:

Speaker list unveiled for Propel Multi-Club conference on Tuesday, 19 March: A host of top speakers have been unveiled for the first Propel Multi-Club conference on Tuesday, 19 March, which is free to attend for multi-site operators. Paul Pendola, of foodservice insights consultancy NPD Group, takes a look back at the big stories of 2012 in the out-of-home food-market and provides the NPD perspective on what they mean in terms of what lies ahead in 2013 (and beyond). Deutsche Bank leisure analyst Geof Collyer will examine profitability and return on investment achieved by major pub and restaurant companies in the past decade. Chris Edger, Professor of Multi-Unit Leadership at Birmingham City University and former Group HR director at Mitchells & Butlers, examines the key skills required for successful multi-site pub and restaurant management. Colin Sadler, managing director of Marston’s Pitcher & Piano brand, will review the history of the 25-year-old Pitcher & Piano brand and explains how it has been re-energised by the company. Chris Gerard, who oversaw the roll-out of Vintage Inns at Mitchells & Butlers and founded Innventure, gives his thoughts on brand evolution, longevity and innovation - the company has combined a coffee shop and restaurant at its latest site in Saffron Walden. Steve Cash, Brand Operations Director of Harvester, which sells around 30 million meals a year, looks at how Harvester has stayed relevant during the many years since it was founded. David Prokupek, chief executive of US better burger concept Smashburger, one of the fastest-growing concepts in the US, doubling its store count in the last year, explains what makes the concept unique. David Wilkinson, of insights and research firm Technomic, examines how US and UK restaurant operators have evolved their offer and created points of differentiation in the recession. Iain Donald, founding partner of Individual Restaurant Company, whose Piccolino brand topped the CPL Customer Satisfaction Index in 2012, sets out the ten key things he’s learned running restaurants. Luke Johnson, of Risk Capital Partners, talks about the “ten things he’s learned the hard way investing in the restaurant sector”. Operators can book up to two free places by e-mailing The event takes place at One Moorgate Place, London.

Industry news:

Sussex university researchers finds no global consensus on sensible alcohol consumption: A comparison of drinking guidelines around the world shows there’s little consensus between countries on what constitutes safe or sensible alcohol consumption, according to University of Sussex researchers. Psychologists Dr Richard de Visser and Nina Furtwængler looked at government guidelines issued in 57 countries, including all 27 European Member States, and found “a remarkable lack of agreement” about what constitutes harmful or excessive alcohol consumption on a daily basis, a weekly basis and when driving. Their study, published this month in Drug and Alcohol Review, showed there was also no consensus on whether it was safe for women to be drinking as much as men. In particular, they found: Some countries refer to standard drinks, but do not define them in grams of ethanol  (such as Kenya and Malta); some countries do not define standard drinks, but offer general guidance encouraging moderate alcohol consumption and/or abstinence in certain circumstances  (such as Belgium, India, Norway and Western Samoa); Muslim countries and eight of the 27 EU member states (including Cyprus, Greece and Hungary) do not have readily accessible guidelines; a standard unit of alcohol in Slovakia is 14g of ethanol compared with 8g in the UK; among the 124 countries that allowed drivers to have alcohol in their blood, there was a ten-fold variation between the least (Panama) and most generous (United Arab Emirates). Dr de Visser said: “We were surprised at the wide variation in guidelines. There is no international agreement about whether women should drink as much as men or only half as much.  In some countries the weekly maximum is simply seven times the daily maximum, whereas in others there is an explicit statement that drinkers should have at least one alcohol-free day a week.”
Tim Martin – West Country pubs to be among the hardest hit by minimum pricing: West Country resident and JD Wetherspoon founder Tim Martin has argued that pubs in the West Country will be hardest hit by minimum pricing. His comments come after a YouGov poll that found fewer than 1% of people surveyed in the south west said they will drink less at home and more in the pub, while almost half (46%) admitted they will drink less in the pub. Around a third of people (36%) surveyed in the South West said they will continue to drink the same at home and in the pub, compared to the national average of 45%. Those who are constantly struggling to keep up with their outgoings were the most likely to say they will drink less in the pub (56%). Martin said: “Pubs in the South West will be among the worst affected by this policy as it appears that local people are less willing to go to the pub if the cost of drinking at home goes up. This puts paid to the government’s claim that minimum pricing will help the UK pub industry.”
Plymouth declares pub an asset of community value: Plymouth City Council has used a new law to declare a pub in the city an “Asset of Community Value”. It’s the first time the new Localism Act has been used in this way in Plymouth and will allow locals to bid for the pub on the open market. The Friendship was threatened with closure after Pubfolio Ltd, which owned 219 tenanted pubs, collapsed in 2009. The administrators, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, put the Friendship on the market with Christie + Co for £165,000 – and there were local fears it would be turned into student flats. The council has imposed restrictions, through the Land Registry, on how the owner may dispose of The Friendship. Mr Light said he had already made an offer for the pub.
Grocer magazine reports Morrisons launched £1 healthy meals: The Grocer magazine has reported that Morrisons has launched a range of £1 healthy meals. The new range of dishes, which carry the NUME healthy eating brand, debuted on Monday. The range is based on favourites but contain fewer calories and less saturated fat. A creamy mushroom pasta with Italian cheese and thyme contains 386 calories. Morrisons chilled food buyer Doug Thomspon told the magazine: “The meals are customer favourites but with a healthier twist.”

CBRE – this year will see “notable increase” in sites coming to market in Northern Ireland: CBRE Belfast office managing director Brian Lavery has forecast an uptick in properties coming to market in 2013. He said: “Due to pressure on some locals who may have over-borrowed, we expect to see a notable increase in the volume of Northern Ireland hotels, pubs, off-licences and leisure properties coming to the market over the course of the next 12 months as banks focus on deleveraging in this sector. Once sufficient write-downs have been factored in and the pricing for these assets is realistic, in our experience there are plenty of buyers for viable businesses, with local cash and bank-supported purchasers being most active.”

Livebookings reports record bookings online: Livebookings has reported its highest ever number of diners booked at restaurants across Europe and a boost in business of a third (33%) compared to the previous year. The online reservations company seated over 15 million diners during 2012, which is an increase of over four million diners. The growth is linked to the rapid adoption of mobile browsing and booking solutions offered by Livebookings and Bookatable to both restaurants and consumers.

Architects explain why pub has to be demolished: Architects David Chipperfield have revealed the reasons why a pub in east London has to be demolished to make way for the £18.9 million Geffrye Museum extension. The design and access statement submitted by the practice to Hackney Council shows that the original masterplan and early concept designs called for the pub to be retained. However, it said that the height of the pub floor made it difficult to achieve level access and that the Marquis of Lansdowne is ‘too small to meet any of the museum’s needs’. “It is not large enough to provide a restaurant with space for 100 covers as required by the museum, it is unsuitable for collections display or storage, it is too small and not sturdy enough for (a) library.”

Toptable launches first major advertising push: Restaurant booking service Toptable has launched a new Inferno four week poster campaign near transport hubs in London. Harnessing geo-localisation the campaign will deliver invites to passing pedestrians tempting them with offers of great restaurant tables within the vicinity. Mike Xenakis, managing director of OpenTable International, Toptable’s parent, said: “The advertisements are strategically placed to highlight the density of available tables waiting for discovery around every tube stop, train station and in every neighbourhood. A few taps to your smartphone or a quick visit to enables that discovery and makes it incredibly easy to make an instantly confirmed booking.”

Luke Johnson buys stake in confectionary brand: Serial sector investor Luke Johnson has bought a stake in a London retro confectionery brand. Johnson, who holds investment in Pattiserie Valerie and Giraffe, has snapped up a stake in Hope and Greenwood, the retro sweets brand that sells old-fashioned favourites including flying saucers, sherbet dips and Love Hearts. The company, founded in 2004 by Kitty Hope and Mark Greenwood, has two stores in London, and supplies John Lewis, Selfridges and Waitrose among others. Johnson, who oversaw the expansion of PizzaExpress from 12 restaurants to more than 250 in the 1990s, said the classic sweets brand has “masses of potential to grow”. Retro confectionary sales rose by circa 20% in 2011.

Company news:

Punch reports progress on capital restructure: Punch has reported progress on its capital restructure. The company stated: “While these discussions remain ongoing, sufficient progress has now been made to enable the Board to identify a restructuring solution for each securitisation that it believes is in the interests of all stakeholders and is capable of being successfully implemented.” The proposals are to utilise cash resources at group and within the Punch B securitisation to extinguish and cancel certain tranches of Punch B debt at a material discount to par; and amend financial covenants and defer amortisation in the Punch A securitisation, creating a platform for future deleveraging. The plan achieves a material reduction in debt and debt service with a £463 million reduction in contractual debt service payments over the next five years; £393 million targeted debt prepayment ahead of the new amortisation schedule over the next five years; and £229 million immediate reduction in debt in the Punch B securitisation. Punch reported that the plans are supported by a broad group of stakeholders. These are a group of five financial institutions, consisting of Glenview Capital, Octavian, Luxor Capital, Alchemy and Avenue Capital, who together manage funds that hold over 50% of the Group’s issued share capital, circa 25% of the Punch B debt in total and a majority of the total junior debt in Punch B and the trustees of the Punch B defined benefit pension scheme. Stephen Billingham, executive chairman of Punch Taverns, said: “Following extensive stakeholder discussions, we are now able to set out the key terms of restructuring proposals that we believe will deliver value to all stakeholders and can be successfully implemented. Importantly, these proposals already have the support of a significant group of stakeholders. The board is mindful that support is also required from a large number of other stakeholders and the board is keen to engage with all stakeholders and commence implementation of the restructuring proposals without delay.”

Veteran David Page sets up investment fund: Sector veteran David Page, who backed PizzaExpress and Gourmet Burger Kitchen, has set up a new investment fund called Fulham Shore. The fund has raised £850,000 from around 30 investors and will seek out London restaurants that are ready for expansion. Page, who is chairman of the fund, said he hopes to be seen as a “friendly” big brother, approaching venues that the investors like personally to see if the owners are keen to grow. A statement said the strategy is to target businesses “which are known to and admired by the directors”. He said: “To paraphrase Mr Micawber, what we do depends on what comes up. Some people we approach will say they are happy staying at one or two restaurants, some will be afraid of expansion, some will be keen.” Fulham Shore has applied for its ordinary shares to trade on the ISDX Growth Market, the new Icap-backed junior stock market.

Wells & Young’s wins services personnel contract: Bedford based brewer Wells & Young’s has produced a special line of beer called Airman’s Ale as part of a three-year deal to supply military bars across the UK with beers, wines and spirits. The contract, which is through ISS, the catering, retail and leisure services provider for the RAF is the largest ever free trade deal for Wells & Young’s. It will see Airman’s Ale, Bombardier, Estrella and McEwan’s lager on offer for personnel stationed in 22 RAF sites and four army sites, and will be available in a total of 82 military bars throughout the UK. Wells & Young’s chairman Paul Wells said: “We are thrilled to be supplying our hardworking personnel up and down the country with our beers, wines and spirits and are particularly delighted to be able to offer them an exclusive ale named by their colleagues. We brew distinctive, great quality beers and are proud to have them served in bars at forces bases all over the UK.”

Michelin-starred chef takes over Greene King pub: Michelin-starred chef Michael Riemenschneider has taken over a Greene King pub in Abingdon. The chef used to run the Michelin-starred Abbey restaurant in Penzance and the Juniper in Altrincham, Greater Manchester. Riemenschneider said: “I checked out all the local pubs and there is a big need for good food at affordable prices. When Greene King asked us to run The Broad Face, I hung out in it for an hour and it just didn’t get busy. But the pub has a lot of potential. It is in a nice central location and Abingdon is very friendly.”

Starbucks signs first UK franchise: Starbucks has signed its inaugural franchise agreement, which has seen the chain open its first franchise store in the UK, in Liphook, Hampshire. The site was formerly a Little Chef, marketed for sale by specialist property adviser Christie + Co. The site is part of an eight-store deal with local Hampshire entrepreneurs 23.5 Degrees that is expected to create over 100 new jobs in the Dorset and Hampshire area. The new store will be the blueprint for further sites planned to open across the country over the coming months as Starbucks grows its franchising business. In addition, Christie + Co expects to sell many of the 48 former Little Chef leases it brought to market last year to a number of similar operators in the weeks and months ahead.

Bristol Beer Factory places Grain Barge site on the market: Brewer Bristol Beer Factory has placed its Grain Barge site on the market with agent Christie + Co. The 30-metre former commercial cargo boat was built by the Charles Hill Shipyard in 1936. It was refitted and refurbished into The Grain Barge venue in 2007, since when it has increased turnover and profitability year-on-year - in fact, 2012 turnover approached £1 million. The venue is being sold by Bristol Beer Factory to allow the company to concentrate on its growing brewing business. Managing director Simon Bartlett said: “The Grain Barge has played an important part in the success of the brewery. Now we have established a strong local and national reputation we have decided to consolidate our business with the development of our Ashton premises and brewing operation.”
Be At One to open first outside of London in March: Be At One, the cocktail bar operator that attracted Piper Private Equity as an investor in 2011, is to open its first site outside of London in March. The company has bought the independent Sahara Bar, in Reading’s Gun Street. Be At One currently has 14 bars in London and has plans to grow to 30 sites in the next three years having agreed a new £4m facility with Lloyds Bank in December.

Freehold of Walkabout, Manchester goes to auction: The Quay Street home of the Walkabout sports bar in Manchester will be put up for auction later this month. The freehold property investment will be one of the lots at the Acuitus commercial property auction on 14 February in London, and will be offered with a guide price of £1.5m. The 35,000 sq ft property is entirely let to Intertain at a rent of £150,000 per annum until 2033. Richard Auterac, auctioneer at Acuitus, said: “This is an imposing building in a good location which offers a buyer the potential of a 10% initial yield on their investment. We expect strong investor interest.” Intertain Group operates 36 bars and comedy venues throughout the country.

Whitby’s to open second site in Doncaster: A fish and chip concept with plans for a national roll-out will open is second site in Doncaster next month. Whitby’s will open in the converted former Doncaster fire headquarters which have laid derelict since 2004 after crews moved into a new station just a few yards away. Restaurant manager Darren Richards said: “Everything is going very well and we are looking forward to opening. It is going to be something very different in Doncaster and one of the biggest in town.” The restaurant, opposite Doncaster Racecourse, will also have a takeaway counter, will be open seven days a week and is expected to create 60 full and part time jobs at the building which is situated on the corner of Leger Way and Leicester Avenue. Plans to open a chain of Whitby’s restaurants are backed by DFS founder and Cantley millionaire Lord Kirkham. There is already a branch in Catcliffe, Rotherham.
Carluccio’s opens in Peterborough: Carluccio’s has opened in Peterborough’s Queensgate shopping centre. Chief executive Simon Kossoff said: “We have been keen to open in Peterborough for a number of years now and are delighted to have finally found the right site for us. The city has a lively restaurant scene and a thriving Italian community, so we’re really excited to be here.” Sam Eastwood, centre director at Queensgate, added: “The opening of Carluccio’s will significantly enhance and complement the growing catering experience around Cathedral Square which has proved so popular with city visitors.”
Tamarind Collection buys Zaika: Tamarind Collection, the operator of Indian restaurants, has taken over former Michelin-starred restaurant Zaika of Kensington from Claudio Pulze. The group, which operates the Michelin-starred Tamarind in Mayfair and Imli in Soho as well as Tamarind in Los Angeles, California, has bought the site for an undisclosed sum. The restaurant will close later this year for a refurbishment.
Jack Daniels-inspired bar opens at Dubai airport: Emirates Leisure Retail has opened the world’s first Jack’s Bar & Grill, a new Jack Daniels-inspired food and beverage concept developed specifically for Dubai International Terminal 3. The new concept was developed in collaboration with Jack Daniel’s brand owner Brown-Forman. Personalisation of Jack Daniel’s bottles purchased at Dubai Duty Free is an option for travelling customers at the outlet, alongside the Jack’s Bar & Grill range of merchandise, also unique to Dubai. The new concept offers a Tennessee-style menu featuring steaks, Cajun dusted wings, JD Grill Sliders (burgers), JD style meatloaf, and some creative fusions and interpretations, such as Cajun Jambalaya. Dessert options include Mississippi Mud Pie and the outlet serves breakfast 24 hours a day. “Jack Daniel’s – the man and the whiskey – has always evoked a spirit of excitement and adventure which makes putting the first bar and grill to carry his name a perfect fit,” said Brown-Forman managing director of travel retail Jim Perry.

Punch hotel re-opens with its own coffee shop: The George Hotel in Ramsey Cambridgeshire, a Punch Taverns site, is re-opening on 19 February, after a £200,000 investment, with its own coffee shop, Mocha. David Hawkins, who has an extensive background running pubs and hotels in Cambridgeshire, will be managing the new-look hotel. He said: “We will be offering the community something different and a range of facilities to suit all, whether it is a bar with live sports coverage, a comfy coffee shop to catch up with friends or a place to have a special meal or hold a party. We are also offering a range of food and drink to cater for all tastes – we are planning some special food days, such as ‘Ale and Pie Day’, where we will be matching our food with the cask ales we serve.”
Oak Taverns starts brewing in Barnet pub: Oak Taverns, the multi-site pub operator led by Simon Collinson, has started brewing at its Barnet pub, The Black Horse, a Punch Taverns pub. The company stated: “The plan for Barnet Brewery is to brew different specials aimed at the traditional session beer market we have at The Black Horse. We are also keen to start a program of brewing beers and age them for two to three months in our old port oak barrels. We have joined a small cooperative based in Norfolk which brings brewers and farmers together so we should have a great story to tell about our raw materials.”
Spirit staff put in shift at Corner House pub: Senior executives at Burton-based Spirit  have completed a full shift behind the bar of the local Spirit pub, The Corner House, to understand what its like to be a ‘team player.’ Managers from the Spirit Pub Company support centre were placed in roles on the bar and the kitchen at the Corner House, in Centrum 100, off Wellington Road, Burton, throughout last week. Clive Briscoe, commercial director at the company, said: “It is essential for the team and I to understand how we operate to be able to make informed decisions on how best to delight our guests. This experience has confirmed how hard our team works and the different pressures that are placed on them, to ensure that our guests have an enjoyable experience.”
Pub starts to brew in its dining room: A pub in Wales has started to brew beer in its dining room. Llanddarog’s White Hart owners Marcus and Cain Coles already run the Coles Family Brewery across from the pub’s car park — but have decided to go one step further. Marcus said: “We have put a brewery into our dining area now so people can try their hand at making beer. It was something we were starting to do across the car park at the brewery but we thought, ‘why not bring it into the pub itself?’.” Visitors can sign up for workshops and enjoy a full day of brewing action, from the very first steps to casking the beer. However, Marcus said he was eager to offer industry-recognised courses for those wishing to gain brewing qualifications - and it would be the first in Wales, he said.

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