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Wed 3rd Apr 2013 - Bed and Bars, Maclay and Shepherd Neame

Story of the day:

Beds and Bars plans new bar concept for Edinburgh; prepares for 38 million Euro Paris opening in the summer: Pan-European hostel provider Beds and Bars, led by Keith Knowles, is to open a new bar concept at its Belushi’s site in Edinburgh this weekend - Jake’s Place. Located alongside the existing venue on Market Street Edinburgh, Jake’s Place will deliver a blue grass theme – promoting all things Americana infused with some local Scottish fundamentals. The new bar will offer 65 American and Scottish craft and seasonal beers per annum. In addition, there will also be a huge selection of Scottish malts, American bourbons and ryes. Jake’s Place will serve the entire range of American craft beers from Fordnam and Dominion - the Delaware brewed beers date back to 1703 with six brews in its range. Jake’s Place will also launch with a new concept food menu - offering ‘beer eats’. The menu will be made up from a selection of dishes inspired by a fusion of American and Scottish street food. Each dish will be matched to the beers on offer, complimenting the individual pints. Meanwhile, the company will open a 38 million Euros site opposite the Gare du Nord in Paris this summer. It will offer 600 beds, with 50 of these private rooms. The remaining 550 beds will be in shared dorms of various sizes with all dorms featuring sleeper-carriage pod beds with privacy curtains, power points, reading lights and lockers. Beds and Bars already operates a site in Paris on St Christopher’s Canal that contains a Belushi’s bar and a St Christopher’s Inns hostel, offering 368 beds. The St Christopher’s Gare du Nord project is a partnership between Beds and Bars, Cofitem-Cofimur and its French director Romain Viennois. The Gare du Nord hostel will also have an on-site Belushi’s bar and a French cafe. Prior to this development, the Gare du Nord site was used as an office building.

Industry news:

Scotch whisky exports dropped in 2012: Scotch whisky export volumes declined by 70 million bottles in 2012 – with France accounting for almost 75% of the decline. Sales to France dropped from 205 million 70cl bottles to 154 million in 2012 - driving a 5% volume decline in global exports of Scotch over the year. The Scotch Whisky Association said the decline was primarily due to a hike in excise duty in 2012 that prompted French consumers and retailers to stock up on whisky in 2011. Spain, Greece, South Africa and South Korea had also recorded a drop in volumes. The value of Scotch whisky exports had grown by 1% year-on-year to £4.3bn, an increase of 87% over the past ten years. Scotch accounted for 80% of Scottish food and drink exports, and 25% of UK food and drink exports.

New London gin goes on sale: A new London gin has gone on sale using London honey as a key ingredient. Dodd’s Gin has been created by the London Distillery Company in Battersea, which was founded last year using crowd-funding methods to attract small investors. Distiller Andrew MacLeod Smith said: “We distilled several types of honey, from all areas of the UK, but found that the complex honey produced by urban bees in London gave the spirit a luxurious mouth-feel and added a delightful top note, which compliments the rest of the aromatics perfectly.” The £36.95 gin went on sale today in Fortnum and Mason for two weeks, after which it will be available online. The company is also in the process of creating the first whiskys to be made in London for more than 100 years.

Work starts on £1.1m Hospitality House: Work has begun on building Hospitality House, the Hospitality Guild’s flagship training and development hub in north London, following the Guild raising over £1.1m in industry and public funding and sponsorship to develop the venue. The building was donated rent-free by McDonald’s as the principal benefactor of Hospitality House, and industry suppliers and leading employers such as Gram Commercial, Electrolux, Heineken, Compass Group UK, Hilton and People 1st have provided sponsorship and state of the art equipment for the facility. Suzy Jackson, the Guild’s executive director, said: “This is such an exciting day. After all our hard work and the incredible generosity and support of the industry, we’re finally starting work.” Hospitality House is due to open in summer 2013.

Hotel chains are removing mini-bars: Hotel chains including Hilton and Starwood are removing minibars from rooms after deciding that keeping fridges stocked with drinks and snacks is more trouble than it’s worth. Melvin Gold, a leading hotel industry consultant, told The Independent: “It’s a trend for them to be removed. It’s being stopped in the better hotels. They don’t want the hassle. Minibars were once a source of profit, but they were just too difficult to police. Prices were high because staffing costs were high.”

TripAdvisor steps up checking of fake reviews: TripAdvisor has developed an algorithm based on credit card and insurance fraud systems to guard against fake reviews, The Daily Telegraph has reported. It analyses each of the 60 reviews posted every minute by visitors, looking at each posting’s characteristics to work out whether its author is trying to manipulate TripAdvisor. Head of content integrity Andrew Marane said: “We put everything into one of three buckets: if it’s obviously stinky we remove it, if it’s obviously good we wave it through. It’s the questionable stuff in the middle bucket where you’re not immediately sure and (that is where) we put more resources. An average of 13,000 reviews a day fall into the questionable category.”

Thorntons – Easter was satisfactory: Chocolate retailer Thorntons has this morning reported Easter trading was “satisfactory”. It added: “When combined with similarly satisfactory results from both Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, the board now anticipates that the pre-exceptional profit before tax for the 52 weeks to 29 June 2013 will be ahead of the current market expectation of £3.1m. However, we remain cautious of the prevailing economy and its continuing impact on consumer expenditure.”

Company news:

Brakspear opens first managed pub ‘with Geronimo Inns influence’ after £750,000 investment: Henley-based tenanted pub operator Brakspear has re-opened its Bull Inn in Bell Street, Henley, close to its offices, as its first and flagship managed pub. The pub, which was previously run as Ko-Kos, has re-opened after a three month refurbishment with top-quality staff recruited for key positions. Chief executive Tom Davies admitted the operating style has been influenced by the two years he spent working at Geronimo Inns earlier in his career. Eighteen new staff have been taken on, including general manager Tuesdee Dixon, who was general manager at Heston Blumenthal’s Hinds Head in Bray for two years. Assistant manager Sophie Kilgour also worked at The Hinds Head while chef Wayne Pegler worked with Marco-Pierre White at his Canteen restaurant in London. The new-look pub, which is described as “traditional meets modern brasserie”, can seat 190 people inside and out. It will serve food throughout the day. The project has been overseen by business development manager Matt Akat, who also previously worked at Geronimo Inns. Davies told Propel: “It’s a very large investment. We’ve not tried to make it overly smart - we just want a very good, well-run and slick operation and invested in the staff to do this.” Davies said Brakspear had three options going forward dependent on the success of the pub – to run the pub as a flagship managed pub close to its offices, to expand further into managed pubs or return the pub to its tenanted and leased estate as some point down the line. “Hopefully, we will do more (managed pubs),” said Davies. He told the local newspaper: “The Bull has been one of Henley’s best-known pubs for centuries and it has been a joy to restore it. We’re confident that it will quickly become a favourite among residents and visitors to the town, offering top-quality food and drink, a relaxed atmosphere and professional, attentive service. We’re excited about the Bull, which gives customers another quality option for drinking and dining in Henley.”

Saltire Taverns opens Edinburgh boutique hotel and whisky bar: Saltire Taverns boss Billy Lowe has opened a 30-bedroom boutique hotel in Edinburgh with rooms that carry the names of Scottish celebrities. The Hope Street development is called Angels’ Share with individual rooms named after figures such as Sir Chris Hoy, Andy Murray, Kelly MacDonald, Gerard Butler and Ewan McGregor. A New York-style speakeasy bar called the Devil’s Cut has also been installed in the basement of the former Hudson Hotel and Bar – accessed through a secret door which is only opened when drinkers whisper the correct password. Lowe, who also runs Le Monde in George Street, bought the site with his business partner Andy Pollard two years ago and has transformed it into a contemporary “cool and current” hotel and whisky bar. He said: “I loved the idea of the Angels’ Share, the whisky that evaporates during distillation, and visited whisky bars all over the world to get a feel, but I also wanted to take the Scottish feel throughout the whole hotel. I didn’t want tartan and heather or kitsch and twee, but cool and current. We also had the idea of naming rooms and theming them after Scots who are also cool and current. It’s similar to what we did at Le Monde with the worldwide cities, so we have rooms named after a number of different celebrities, local and national.”

Shepherd Neame re-opens Whitstable hotel after £1.6m refurbishment: Kent brewer and retailer Shepherd Neame has re-opened The Marine Hotel at Tankerton in Whitstable, after a £1.6m refurbishment. It is the brewery’s single largest refurbishment with the entire building – interior and exterior – undergoing a substantial restyling. All 30 bedrooms and bathrooms, plus the function rooms, restaurant, and bar area have been transformed to create a destination hotel with period detail, modern comfort and contemporary interior style. Shepherd Neame chief executive Jonathan Neame said: “This significant refurbishment is not just about investing in The Marine Hotel, but the coastal area of east Kent, too. It is an area rich in history, heritage and tourism appeal and we feel confident that the hotel further enhances the reasons for people to visit. We fully expect it to become the leading hotel in the area, attracting holidaymakers, wedding parties, diners looking for good local food, and those needing conference and meeting facilities.”

Bagel Nash opens Nottingham flagship: Bagel chain Bagel Nash has opened its flagship store in Nottingham city centre. Bagel Nash sells a variety of bagels and coffee through its 14 stores, with locations in Leeds, Manchester and York and in Derby Westfield. The latest opening is on Wheelergate opposite the former Virgin Megastore, and is one of the largest branches outside of Leeds. “We are very excited about bringing our 15th bagel and coffee shop to Nottingham,” said retail operations director Sara Hildreth. Bagel Nash sells a wide variety of fillings for ten different types of bagels, prepared to order in store. Using fresh ingredients, customers can choose from a menu that offers ‘something for everyone’ from Breakfast Bagels, Hot Salt Beef and Ham and Cheddar Club.

Premier Inn gets go-ahead in Exmouth: Whitbread’s Premier Inn brand has won planning consent to build a 60-bedroom hotel on the site of the current seafront Elizabeth Hall in Exmouth, which will be demolished. Mayor John Humphries said that the Premier Inn would “raise Exmouth’s profile nationally”. Campaigners against the plans, who organised a protest march last year and gathered some 12,427 signatures for a petition, admitted they were “saddened” by the outcome.

Maclay Group reports flat sales and operating profit; opens fourth ‘quality beer’ pub in Glasgow: The 27-strong Scottish bar operator Maclay Group has reported sales flat on last year at £10.4m in the year to 29 September 2012. Operating profits were steady at £700,000. The company said the results reflected “the tough market conditions affecting the pub sector in the face of the difficult economic climate”. Christmas trading saw a 4% increase in like-for-like sales across the group between December 16 and January 5. Total sales for the three-week festive period amounted to £1,094,985 – an increase of £45,000. Managing director Steve Mallon said: “The year was dominated by economic pressures suppressing customer demand but I am pleased with the robust response from our staff who pulled together to keep operating costs tightly controlled thus ensuring that margins were maintained.” Meanwhile, Maclay has opened Munro’s in Glasgow’s Great Western Road. The bar, which was formerly home to the Captain’s Rest, specialises in craft beer and cask ales, showcasing brews from around the world as well as those made closer to home, including Munro’s pouring craft and cask ales, Harviestoun Schiehallion and Caledonian Deuchars IPA. The new pub boasts eight craft and cask taps, with six changing on a weekly basis to include special guest brews. It offers a full range of unique beers for aficionados to try, including American imports such as Brooklyn Lager, East India Pale Ale and Blue Moon and also serves freshly prepared foods such as sharing platters, pizzas, sandwiches and beer bite nibbles. It has a range of 40 bottled beers, lagers and ciders. Mallon added: “As a company we have always differentiated ourselves through our focus on offering quality beer; this is particularly evident in Munro’s sister venues in the west end; the Lansdowne Bar & Kitchen, the Three Judges and Dram. Munro’s is very much the next step forward in our journey.”

Marston’s to open Morecombe new-build at the end of May: Marston’s will open a new-build pub, The Hurley Flyer, next to Morecambe FC’s Globe Arena at the end of May. Cheryl Evans, the company’s HR director, said: “As a company, we’re fully committed to supporting the career development of our employees. We’re only a couple of months away from opening the Hurley Flyer pub, and this is an exciting time for us. We believe that when it’s open, the pub will be a real community hub, which will not only offer great food and drink, but also excellent value for money and fantastic customer service.” The new pub will cater for about 180 diners and will offer a two-for-one menu.

Simon French – Domino’s UK faces tough comparables: Panmure Gordon leisure analyst Simon French has argued that Domino’s UK faces a very challenging Second Quarter like-for-like sales comparative of +8.1% reflecting last year being the wettest Q2 on record, the Diamond Jubilee celebrations and Euro 2012. He added: “We are encouraged by the progress the group is making in Germany but it will be 2015 before the country moves into profit. We forecast 8.1% EPS growth this year, which simply cannot justify the stock’s rating. The group faces a tough comparative in Q2 and we reiterate our Sell recommendation and 360p Target Price.”

Sir Terry’s Wogan’s son Mark to open pizza restaurant in Neal’s Yard next week: Mark Wogan, the son of Sir Terry Wogan, is to open 50-cover Homeslice Pizza at 13 Neal’s Yard next Monday (8 April). The restaurant opening comes after Homeslice Pizza established itself in a pop-up context. Five pizza options are available each day and served in slices or whole – beer and prosecco are served on tap. One blogger states: “Homeslice Pizza has created somewhat of a cult following over the past six months. The simplicity of the pizza is transformed by the half a tonne of homemade oven, built by the guys themselves, and hauled around to their various locations with great effort.” Terry Wogan’s daughter Katherine Cripps-Wogan runs the three-strong Tally Ho Inns with her husband Henry.

Botanic Inns boss describes Easter hours in Northern Ireland as ‘archaic’: Botanic Inns boss Stephen Morrigan has described Easter opening hours in Northern Ireland as “archaic”. He descried current legislation as “no longer fit for purpose”. Alcohol can only be served between 17:00 and 23:00 on Good Friday. Bars have to stop serving at midnight on Thursday night and Easter Saturday. On Easter Sunday bars and restaurants have to stop serving alcohol at 22:00. During a recent public consultation on licensing laws, which closed in November 2012, the DUP Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland proposed extending opening hours over the Easter period.

Re-opened Ramsay restaurant to fine customers £100 for cancelling with less than two days’ notice: Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, which has re-opened after a refurbishment, is now requiring guests to provide a credit card when booking. The restaurant will impose a penalty of £100 a guest for canceling lunch with less than 48 hours notice.

Crown Hospitality Group to open “American bistro” in London: The American restaurant operator Crown Group Hospitality is to open an American bistro in London restaurant this spring. The company, which has five sites in New York, will open The Red House in Chelsea in May. Owned by partners Sean Largotta, John DeLucie and UK-born Chris Jonns, it will be the Crown Group’s first international opening. Located on Elystan Street on the site formerly occupied by The Markham Inn, The Red House, will be an American bistro. The menu will combine traditional American and English cuisine, including a premium selection of meats, homemade pastas, seasonal potpies, and savoury side dishes.

Developers table plan to turn former Luminar nightclub into flats: Developers have submitted new plans to regenerate a former Luminar nightclub site in the middle of Redhill. Angle Property (Redhill) Limited has applied for permission to convert the former Liquid & Envy nightclub into a mixed use site with 61 apartments and retail space. The building, which was bought by the development company in July 2011, already has permission for a mixed use redevelopment after Reigate & Banstead Borough Council’s planning department approved a first set of plans in September last year. But the applicant has since submitted new proposals with less retail space and more flats because the original scheme was not financially viable.

Poppies opens second London retro fish and chip restaurant: Poppies, the highly rated fish and chip restaurant that opened in Spitalfields in 2011, has opened a new site in Camden. The new Camden restaurant, in Hawley Crescent, is built over two storeys and has retro 1940s touches including an old jukebox, cinema seating and a piano upstairs that customers can play.

Wagamama, PizzaExpress and Zizzi to open in Dorchester this month: Wagamama, PizzaExpress and Zizzi will all open their doors at Dorchester’s Brewery Square this month. PizzaExpress will be the first to open on Thursday, 25 April, with Wagamama following on Friday 26 and Zizzi will opening on Saturday 27. Chicken restaurant Nando’s opened in January, and Carluccio’s opened last year.

Burger King marketing boss quits: Jo Blundell, Burger King UK’s marketing director, has left the company after two years. Blundell, who joined Burger King from rival McDonald’s in April 2011, left two weeks ago. It is thought that she has been replaced, but Burger King declined to give further details. Her exit comes amid Burger King’s £40m pan-European media planning and buying review. In January, Burger King appointed Starbuck’s senior marketer Natasha Naik to the new role of marketing manager for north-west Europe.

Whitbread expands supply chain capacity: Whitbread has accelerated plans to increase capacity in its supply chain network to support the growth of its brands. It has extended its relationship with Kuehne + Nagel for a further five years, increasing supply chain capacity with new operations at a distribution centre at Trafford Park some two years ahead of schedule. Brodie McMillan, logistics director for Whitbread, said: “Whitbread requires a supply chain model that not only adapts to meet the needs of our growing business, but that also supports our environmental objectives. We have invested in developing our partnership with Kuehne + Nagel and we trust them to deliver.” Kuehne + Nagel is converting an existing ambient distribution centre at Trafford Park into 165,000 square foot of multi-temperature multi-user warehousing focusing on the foodservice sector. Whitbread will use space at Trafford Park to service the north of the UK.

Former Goat in Boots pub re-opens as The Goat: The former Goat in Boots pub in Chelsea has been re-opened by new owners Tim Cunliffe and Steve and Katia Manktelow as The Goat - a restaurant, cocktail bar and all-day lounge. The three-story, 140 cover site serves New York-Italian food inspired by Soho House group’s Pizza East.

Richard Stringer joins Faucet Inn as operations director: Industry veteran Richard Stringer has joined Faucet Inn, the London multiple led by Steve Cox, as operations director. Stringer previously worked at Barracuda Group as operations director for ten years, responsible for 220 pubs with £150m of turnover of £27m of Ebitda, leaving in 2012. He also served as director of retail at JD Wetherspoon for eight years, joining the company when it had 60 pubs and leaving when it had grown to 550 sites. Following an exciting 2012, in which Faucet Inn captured London’s imagination with the innovative pop-up Podium Bar at the entrance to the Olympic Park, Stringer will be responsible for all aspects of the 21-site company’s operations including development of the brand’s menu, marketing and sales. Stringer said: “I jumped at the chance to work with Faucet Inn. It is an exciting and progressive company with exceptional pubs and people, and I am thoroughly looking forward to delivering the next stages of the company’s growth plan.”

Marston’s to convert Hedgehog Inn to Revere: Marston’s is to convert its Hedgehog Inn in Copthorne, West Sussex to the unbranded Revere Pub Company premium format. The pub closed today and will re-open after a refurbishment at the end of May. A total of ten pubs in total are expected to be converted to the Revere format, with 88 bedrooms also offering an upmarket accommodation offer. Colin Sadler, the Marston’s executive who is overseeing the development of Revere, has stressed the importance of wine and coffee in the retail offer. In an interview with the Propel Quarterly magazine at its Libertine site, he said: “I think it’s the biggest wine range ever offered at a Marston’s pub. I think range is becoming more important and if you don’t give people the range they will never experiment. Without over simplifying, if you only sell what you sell - you will only ever sell what you sell. If you don’t give the customer the chance to explore I think that can become a little boring. We have introduced a display wine cage as well. We also have two coffee stations and we want to drive premium quality coffee. We worked hard with the team from Illy Coffee to make sure our coffee offer is right. We retrained staff on coffee service and also the mixing of cocktails – we have a range of eight classic cocktails. Our high street business serves pretty much completely fresh-prepared food - not 100% but around 95% fresh. At Revere sites, we are 100% fresh and everything is made on site. I think if you are trying to sell yourself on big wow flavour you have to have the skill levels and the capability to cook great food on site. If you are paying £20 for a steak you expect the whole menu to be of that quality.”

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