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Fri 5th Jul 2013 - Browns, D&D, Jamie's Italian, Marco Pierre White

Story of the day:

Mitchells & Butlers’ Browns opening in Liverpool further sign of renewed brand confidence: Mitchells & Butlers is to open a new Browns Bar & Brasserie in the Liverpool One leisure complex in a £1m investment that will create 75 jobs. It will be its 27th location and is a further sign of Browns site adaptability after many years of focus on opening in historic buildings. The new Browns, which will have 150 seats, will open on 26 July. Brand marketing manager Paul Hulyer told a Technomic conference recently that Browns had regained its confidence after 12 openings in 15 months. The brand, which celebrates its fortieth birthday this year, operated 14 sites up until two years ago – and has now had an impressive expansion spurt as M&B moved the offer from “colonial brasserie” to “modern brasserie”. Hulyer reported that the brand had been evolved in terms of “colours, bars and music” and flexed to open in locations other than its traditional landmark or historic building setting – an opening in the Bluewater shopping centre, for example, is a “great advert” for the brand, said Hulyer. The brand’s cocktail offer had now become the single biggest drinks category at Browns as part of its modernisation to offer “a brasserie buzz with great service” – its internal tagline is “the everyday made exceptional”. Hulyer conceded that there had been a period where there was “a lack of confidence” in the brand but that it is now “heading in the right direction to become a segment leader again”. Browns openings in the past two years have included sites in Birmingham, Nottingham and Reading. The Birmingham opening was in the Bullring, contained within a very modern glass building with a curved zinc roof. It was a radical departure, embracing modern design cues such as exposed ducts. Site takings vary at Browns from low £30,000s per week up to £60,000 per week per site.

Industry news: 

Intu plans new dining quarter in Nottingham: Developer Intu has submitted a planning application to create a new dining area at the Victoria Centre in Nottingham. The catering cluster will cover two floors and provide for up to 12 units. Asset management director Martin Breeden said: “We already receive over 23 million visitors to Intu Victoria Centre each year and with these proposals and the mall refreshment, we can increase that figure and also increase the time our customers spend in the centre. Our initial marketing of the project has been very well received by restaurant operators.”

First person in Five Guys queue arrived at 4am: The first person in the queue to try better burger concept Five Guys in Covent Garden arrived at 4am, according to Bloomberg food critic Richard Vines. The venue opened at 11am yesterday morning and had 20 people in the queue around a quarter of an hour before it opened.

HMRC sees historic fall in amount of alcohol duty collected: Analysis by the Wilson Drinks Report (WDR) shows that for the first time, total duty on alcohol collected for a 12 month period, to April 2013, is less than the previous 12 month period. For the 12 months to April 2013, total duty was £10.14 billion, whereas the total for the 12 months to April 2012 was £10.18 billion. The biggest drop was in beer duty, which fell £179m compared to the previous year. Cider duty also fell by £9m, leading to an overall drop of £41m. Tim Wilson, managing director of the Wilson Drinks Report, said: “We have been highlighting the dangers of increasing duty during a period of falling volumes for some time. The big risk for Chancellor George Osborne is that wines and spirits will follow beer and cider and fall into a cycle of decreasing duty receipts. The latest forecast from the Office for Budget Responsibility in March 2013 predicted that total alcohol duty for 2013-14 will be £10.1 billion. However, we expect that the decrease in duty receipts will continue at a similar rate for the remainder of 2013-14 which could lead to a duty shortfall of at least £100m for the year.”

Bury council approves 24 hour-a-day alcohol delivery service: Bury Booze has been given permission to run a 24-hour alcohol delivery service. Solicitor Richard Williams, acting for Bury Booze, argued that if the council was to stop new traders selling alcohol round the clock, it was inconsistent if it did not do so against supermarkets who are already allowed to do so. A Booze Bury spokesman said: “Our website, booze bury.co.uk contains a video about responsible drinking and the full list of conditions which customers must stick to for us to deliver. We will work the council and other authorities to ensure this is a worthwhile venture for us and safe for everybody.”

Community raises £600,000 to buy Bath pub: A Bath pub, The Bell on Walcot Street, has opened under the ownership of 538 customers and staff after they raised more than £600,000 to buy it. A campaign, which launched in February, aimed to raise £500,000 of the £925,000 asking price through the sale of shares priced between £500 and £20,000. However, the community buyout finally raised more than £600,000 after receiving the support of Robert Plant, Midge Ure, Michael Eavis and Peter Gabriel who either bought shares or sent words of support.

Neil Morgan – average pub price has increased in the past six months as better quality pubs come to market: Neil Morgan, head of pubs at agent Christie + Co, has reported that average pub sale prices have increased in the past six months as better pubs come on the market, Morgan told Propel: “The quality of pubs coming on the market is better. 62% of pubs sold have been staying as pubs - hopefully that figure will get closer to 70% now. It will mean the rate of pub closures will slow and we will see the continuing rise of small multiple pub companies. The pub sector is evolving in its own way. The danger is that if we get government intervention in the tenanted pub company model, the delicate balance will be upset - and we may get a flood of pubs coming on the market. I think we’ve moved beyond the bottom of the market and we’re into a long, slow recovery which will see a real improvement in values by about 2015.”

Company news:

Marco Pierre White buys ninth pub: Chef Marco Pierre White has bought his second pub in Wiltshire – and the ninth that will trade under the Wheelers name. The Horse and Groom at Charlton is his second acquisition in Wiltshire, after The Pear Tree Inn at Whitley near Melksham. He said: “For me it’s about creating an environment that people want to sit in. I’ve sat in every seat in The Horse and Groom, because I want to see it from the perspective of every customer. I am a restaurateur now – rather than putting things on plates, I put things on walls.” The food will be “simple and comforting”. A typical three-course meal at The Horse and Groom is £18.95. Other pubs in the group include The Lifeboat at Thornham, Norfolk and The Angel Hotel, Lavenham, Suffolk. The pubs appear to be run in a series of special purpose vehicles – one such company is Nelson Lifeboat Inn, which is thought to own The Lifeboat.

Simon Blagden – ‘I’ve learn a lot from Jamie Oliver’: Managing director of Jamie’s Italian Simon Blagden has reported that he has learnt a lot from working with Jamie Oliver. Blagden told Foodservice Europe and Middle East: “He never cuts corners, constantly monitors what food looks like, is always on top of where food is sourced from and is heavily involved in design, be that with a menu or a restaurant. What truly sets him apart, and what makes him a game-changer, is his love of people. He’s got a great eye for what people want.” 

Inglenook Taverns starts work on sixth Punch Taverns site: Inglenook Taverns, the operator of eight sites in the north west headed by James Waddington, has begun a £300,000 co-investment on its sixth Punch Taverns site. The Coach and Horses in Ashbourne will be given a fresher, more sophisticated look. Waddington said: “We could see the pub’s potential to become a pivotal part of the community, serving simple but inspirational food using local producers that we know and trust and using traditional family recipes. We will also be offering afternoon tea to tempt our Ashbourne ladies and cask ales for the local residents to enjoy.” Work is expected to be completed by the middle of August.

Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville launch GG Hospitality: Footballers Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville have launched a hospitality company with plans to grow a hotel and restaurant estate in the UK and overseas. GG Hospitality is the parent company of Café Football, which will open its first outlet in Westfield Stratford, London, in November, and Hotel Football, which will be unveiled in Manchester next year. The company is also in talks with owners of a number of major hotel brands to operate properties on their behalf on a management or franchise basis. “We have lived and breathed every element of this for a considerable time now and have been involved in every detail, every step of the way,” said Giggs. “We’ve stayed in lots of hotels as footballers and often felt that we could do a better job.” The Manchester hotel will have a five-a-side football pitch on the roof of the hotel.

First Cross Oak Inns site sold: The first pub from the four-strong Cross Oak Inns estate has been sold. The Kings Arms, a coaching inn in Ockley, near Dorking, Surrey, has been sold for residential conversion, for which planning permission already exists. It has been acquired, by P F Whitehead Property Developments Limited off an asking price of £850,000. Interest in the three remaining assets in the portfolio — The Ostrich in Colnbrook, Berkshire; The Poacher in Tudeley, near Tonbridge, Kent; and The Inn on the Pond in Nutfield, Surrey — remains high, according to Neil Morgan, head of pubs at Christie + Co. Morgan said: “When we were asked to review strategic options for Cross Oak Inns in April, we knew that the news would spark good interest. That the first pub from the portfolio has already been sold is testament to that. We are currently in discussions with a number of parties over the three remaining assets and we anticipate further positive news in the weeks ahead.”

Wellington Pub Company looks to re-build Alderley Edge site with Piccolino restaurant: Wellington Pub Company has submitted a planning application to re-build its Panacea venue in Alderley Edge which suffered severe damage during blazes in September 2008, and again in March this year. The majority of the damage in March was caused to the restaurant section of the venue – which had been due to open as a new Piccolino restaurant later this year. Panacea, formerly called Brasingamens, was gutted by fire in September 2008, just days before its opening. The bar had undergone a £3.2m refurbishment. Garry Foy, general manager at Panacea in Manchester, said; “The restaurant and bar will open at the same time, we’re hoping that will be sometime next spring if all goes to plan. We are keen to keep the plans exactly as they are, with Piccolino taking on the restaurant. There is as much enthusiasm as there was previously.”

Birmingham’s Shogun Teppanyaki moving to The Cube: Japanese restaurant Shogun Teppanyaki is to make a move to The Cube – as part of plans to make the city centre building Birmingham’s home of “theatrical” eating. Shogun will invest £500,000 in the move out of its current site at the Mailbox to a prime spot at the Ken Shuttleworth-designed building nearby. The move to the 3,000 sq ft plot will create 20 new jobs and fill a prominent part of The Cube at entrance level. Neil Edginton, director of The Cube, said the letting was part of plans to engender a reputation that The Cube, sat between Brindleyplace and The Mailbox, is an entertaining place to eat in the city. He said: “Shogun is a huge thing for the Cube because it is very visual on the main walkway – there is probably a glass frontage of about 70 metres that people will walk by.”

Administrators put three Skye hotels on the market: Property agent Colliers International is marketing three hotels put up for sale on the Isle of Skye after their operators went into administration last month. On the market are The Broadford Hotel, birthplace of Drambuie liqueur, and Portree sister hotels The Marmalade and Bosville Hotel. Colliers is inviting offers of around £550,000, £400,000 and £800,000 respectively for the three hotels.

Jamie Rollo – sensible reasons why Whitbread still operates 400 pub restaurants: Morgan Stanley leisure analyst Jamie Rollo has reported that Whitbread has provided a ‘sensible analysis’ of why it still operates 400 pub restaurants. He said: “94% of these are adjacent to one of its hotels, and make a smaller site hotel (50-80 rooms) viable via sharing costs (shared labour and maintenance) and cross-selling revenue (60% of hotel guests take breakfast and over take 25% dinner in the restaurant, and this generates circa 10% of the hotel’s sales). The company broke down the returns on the hotels & restaurants and this showed that the returns are the same (18% ROCE, pre-tax and overhead) between solus hotels and joint sites, and that the drag is the co-located sites, or hotels next to pubs run by third-party operators (13%). While restaurants like-for-like sales outperformed the market last year, the company admitted its concepts and pubs still need revitalising, and we would point out that last year’s improvement followed several years of underperformance. The company would not comment on the performance of profits since it last separated them out (£56m in 2008), partly as the overhead is largely shared with hotels, but given it also had 400 units then, and like-for-like sales growth has averaged 2%, in line with costs, and we think the restaurants generate not dissimilar profits.”

Costa franchisee opens three sites with £1m funding package from Yorkshire Bank: A Costa Coffee franchisee has opened three new north west stores thanks to a £1m funding package from Yorkshire Bank. The outlets, in the St Paul’s Square and Allerton areas of Liverpool, plus Sale near Manchester, are operated by franchisee Optimum Coffee Group. It currently runs 17 Costa stores across Merseyside and is looking to continue its growth strategy with further outlets scheduled to open in the next 12 months. Optimum’s new sites will add around £1m on turnover to take the total to £7m. 

Punch Taverns reports 8% increase in cask ales: Punch Taverns have reported an increase of 8% in cask ale sales following the most recent ‘Finest Cask’ rotation promotion, featuring a selection of award-winning British beers from CAMRA’s Champion Beer of Britain Awards or International Beer Challenge. Finest Cask is a scheme exclusively available to Punch Partners, with over 800 Punch partners currently registered. Andy Slee, central operations and external affairs director, said: “Cask Ale is one of the unique selling points for British pubs and as it’s continuing to grow its category share of total beer, we feel that it is one of the most significant business drivers for pubs.” This rotation featured 16 award-winning beers, which included eight previous winners or runners up from CAMRA Champion Beers of Britain competition from the Annual Great British Beer Festival.

Nando’s joins other restaurant chain for Bicester’s £70m shopping centre: Nando’s has reported it expects to open at Bicester’s £70m town centre Pioneer Square redevelopment before Christmas. Prezzo and Dean’s Diner were confirmed last month and negotiations are taking place with firms over the remaining units.

Country Park Inn, Hessle, on the market for £1,495,000 as property veteran Keith Brown sells up: A portfolio of hospitality and leisure businesses in the north of England, is being brought to market by agent Christie + Co on behalf of property veteran Keith Brown. The Keith Brown Properties Ltd (KBPL) portfolio comprises eight freehold and three long-leasehold properties containing four Oasis Health Clubs, five Superbowl tenpin bowling alleys, a hotel and a pub/restaurant. The disposals mark the retirement of Keith Brown from the leisure and hospitality property industry, after 25 years in the sector. The Country Park Inn in Hessle, East Yorkshire – and adjacent to the Humber Bridge and Humber Bridge Country Park – began as a pub and restaurant but has been extensively developed over the years to encompass a dedicated events suite with facilities for up to 400 guests and an annexe with eight cottage-style guest bedrooms. Planning consent was granted in 2011 for a 45-bedroom hotel development and for extension of the existing conference and function suites. The freehold of the Country Park Inn is available for offers starting at £1,495,000.

Robinson Brewery sells million pints of Trooper in eight weeks: Stockport-based brewer and retailer Robinsons sold a million pints of its new Trooper ale in the eight weeks after the launch - six months ahead of schedule. This equates to over 20,000 pints being drunk every day since the launch. This demand is expected to increase through August when listings in all the major pub chains, including Punch, Spirit, Enterprise and Wetherspoon kick in. Trooper was a collaboration between Iron Maiden vocalist and real ale enthusiast Bruce Dickinson with Robinsons’ head brewer Martyn Weeks.

Ossett Brewery adds Saltaire site: Ossett Brewery has acquired the free-of-tie lease on the iconic Old Tramshed in Saltaire from regional operator Andy Billingham. Simon Hall, head of pubs at agent Fleurets, said: “I am delighted to find such an excellent new home for this substantial business that Andy has re-built over the last few years. I am sure it will be an excellent addition to the Ossett Brewery Taverns portfolio and I know they have a number of great ideas for taking the business forward.” Jamie Lawson from Ossett Brewery Taverns Company, said: “When Simon first approached us with this opportunity we simply had to be interested. We are very excited about the opportunity it presents and with the support of the Landlords, Yorkdale Properties, we are confident the business can continue to prosper and develop.”

D&D Restaurants to open German Gymnasium at King’s Cross: D&D Restaurants is to open The German Gymnasium, a 10,000 square foot restaurant, at the entrance to King’s Cross, according to the London Evening Standard. Built in 1865, the Gymnasium hosted the indoor events of the first National Olympic Games. Promotional material states: “This elegant building is being sympathetically restored to house a contemporary restaurant venue. Exposed beams, brickwork and tall cast iron columns create a space with warmth, style and distinctive character.”

Spirit converts two more pubs to John Barras franchise: Spirit’s leased division is converting two more pubs to its John Barras franchise. It is investing £200,000 to convert the King Edward VII pub in Blackpool to John Barras. The move is expected to create 20 new jobs and two apprenticeships. The pub, which reopens on Saturday, will offer value pub food and drinks and with a focus on sports and entertainment. Meanwhile, The Sunnyside pub in Stockingford, Nuneaton will also be converted to the John Barras brand in a £200,000 investment – the pub has been boarded up for six months.

Coventry Travelodge sold for student accommodation: A Travelodge hotel in Coventry has been sold for conversion into student accommodation. The Coventry Leofric Hotel was sold by agent Christie + Co on behalf of Cordial Hotels to Midlands-based Fielding & Beaumont, who have obtained the necessary planning permission to convert the hotel to student accommodation. The Travelodge Coventry Leofric was sold for in excess of its £1.65 million asking price. It was one of six Travelodge hotels brought to market by Christie + Co on behalf of Cordial Hotels. Five - in Bath, Stevenage, Oldham, Edinburgh and, now, Coventry - have been sold, while news on the sale of the sixth, in Newcastle, is expected shortly.

Farming family buys pub from Greene King: North Lincolnshire farmer Ted Dent and his family have bought The Old School Inn in Epworth from Greene King, and plans to re-open the business as a bistro pub. The pub has been sold to Severals Farm Ltd, in which the Dent family are major shareholders.

Asian restaurant sector backs VAT campaign: The Federation of Bangladeshi Caterers (FoBC) and the Asian Caterers Federation (ACF) have thrown there considerable weight behind the hospitality industry’s campaign to cut VAT on restaurant bills from 20% to 5%. The FoBC is the voice of the country’s circa 12,000 Bangladeshi restaurateurs and takeaway owners. The ACF represents a community of 23,000 pan-Asian establishments. ACF members are primarily Chinese in origin, but encompasses pan-Asian establishments, including Indian, Thai, Malaysian and Japanese. There are 5,000 Chinese eat in and a further 10,000 takeaways in the UK. There are also over 8,000 south and south-east Asian establishments in the UK. The combined totals number some 35,000. A campaigning organisation, The FoBC has been petitioning Government on a host of issues from immigration, skills shortages, education and unemployment since it was founded in 2008. The FoBC Chairman, Yawar Khan, first raised the VAT issue with Chancellor George Osborne at a meeting in February 2012, highlighting how the Bangladeshi community, many of whom run small business, were being damaged by the recession and rise in VAT. “Restaurant customers don’t always realise that the Chancellor is taking a huge slice every time they settle their bill,” said Khan adding, “Apart from the £10 VAT on every £50, restaurateurs are paying National Insurance, corporation and income tax on any profit that’s left - not to mention local council rates and excise duty.” To support its campaign the FoBC has posted a petition on www.Change.org in the hope that restaurant owners, their staff, suppliers and customers will help achieve the target of 100,000 signatories required to spark a debate on the floor of the House of Commons. In France the cut in VAT from 19.65% to 5.5% lead to the creation of 21,700 in its first year. In the UK the FoBC believes a similar cut would generate 320,000 jobs, reduce the government’s benefits bill and boost overall tax receipts “Such a move would also restore confidence and improve viability of the sector, whilst boosting the wider economy,” added Khan. To promote the campaign, the FoBC and ACF will supply over 100,000 ‘Polling Cards’ to the county’s Indian, Bangladeshi and Asian restaurants to encourage customers to vote online in this year’s Asian Curry awards – run jointly by the two federations. A group of 40 large pub, restaurant and foodservice companies, members of the Vat Club Jacques Borel, are organising Tax Parity Day on Wednesday 25 September to show customers the benefits of lower VAT, with other smaller companies also signing up.

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