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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Mon 19th Aug 2013 - Enterprise, Everards, Hard Rock, Whitbread and YO! Sushi

Story of the day:

YO! Sushi reports turnover up and profit down: YO! Sushi UK, the sushi chain led by Robin Rowland and owned by private equity firm Quilvest, has reported turnover rose 9% to £62,628,343 in the year to 25 November 2012 up from £57,672,805 the year before. Pre-tax profit was £2,193,366 down from £3,882,420 the year before. The company received fees of £562,836 from overseas franchising down from £613,203 the year before. The company opened nine sites in the year and closed three to bring the total number to 64. Two overseas sites were opened by franchise partners to bring the total to 13. Earlier this year, Robin Rowland told Propel that he believes the brand can grow from its current 65 sites to as many as 200 in the UK. He also believes the US market, in particular, is wide open at the moment. He said: “YO! Sushi is well-established and is well-understood – and continues to have like-for-like growth in the UK 15 years on from its inception, which tells me it will continue to grow organically. I think one can see 150 to 200 sites in five to ten years’ time in the UK. But internationally, what’s fascinating is the universal appeal of our quality food at speed. We’ve had great success in the Middle East, huge success in Oslo airport – we’ve opened up a first site with SSP – and America is a good target market for us with the metro districts.” The company opened its first US franchised site in Union Station, Washington DC in July 2012. A second site was due to open in Chinatown in the Spring this year after a liquor licence application at the start of the year – as yet no official opening date for the second site has been set.

Industry news:

Propel Multi Club Conference: The next Propel Multi Club Conference takes place on Thursday 7 November at One Moorgate Place. London. Operators can claim up to two free delegate places by e-mailing

Relaxation of drinking laws may have saved young lives: A report by academics has found that hundreds of young people may have escaped death on the UK’s roads after laws were relaxed to allow pubs to open later. The number of crashes reported by police fell by 13% after the licensing reforms were introduced in 2005. The decline was most marked among drivers aged between 18 and 25 and particularly noticeable on Friday and Saturday nights where incidents involving young drivers fell 33%. Researchers believe that the fall may well be linked to later hours reducing the need for young people to drive around looking for alcohol. Later closing times may also mean that when young people drive there are fewer cars on the road, academics from Lancaster University argued.

Social media is the most reliable form of customer contact: New research results from eDigitalResearch have found that social media is currently the quickest and most reliable form of customer contact. Around 80% of consumers who have recently contacted a brand through social media platforms heard back from the company within 12 hours, compared to just over one third (37%) who heard back within the same time frame when contacting via email.

10,000 premises sign up for BT Sport: BT Sport has revealed that more than 10,000 pubs, clubs, betting shops, hotels and other commercial premises have signed up to its TV packages.

Heatwave sent lager, wine and sparkling wine volume soaring: Off Licence News (OLN) has reported that the heatwave saw lager, cider and sparkling wine volumes soar. During the four weeks to 27 July, lager was up 27% in volume, cider rose 40% and sparkling wine sales grew 30% on the previous year. Nielsen’s Helen Stares told OLN: “When we’re making year-on-year comparisons, it’s important to remember the week ending July 28, 2012 – the weekend of the Olympics opening ceremony – was the fifth-biggest week for lager volumes and the fourth-biggest week for cider in the whole of 2012. This makes the year-on-year change even more impressive – and just shows how important the weather is for sales of long alcoholic drinks.” The boost to the sector from heatwave sales was so strong that overall volume sales are up 0.2% in 2013 (Nielsen, 30 weeks to July 27). If this is maintained it will make 2013 the first year the market has seen volume growth since the recession began.

Police plan national week of licensing action: The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) is promoting a national ‘week of action’ on licensing and alcohol harms from 16 – 22 September. There will be no centrally mandated action, with forces free to determine whether and how to implement their own week of action. It is likely that any activity will include test purchasing, site visits and provision of training for staff. Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers chief executive David McHattie said: “This is an interesting initiative and we are confident retailers will come out of the week with glowing reports from their local police forces. Responsible retailers have nothing to fear from any such activity and will indeed welcome the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to providing a safe, supervised atmosphere for all their customers and communities.”

Company news:

Hard Rock Cafe unveils details of Glasgow venue: The Hard Rock Cafe chain has revealed it will be converting the former Athenaeum Theatre in Buchanan Street, Glasgow into a licensed restaurant seating 170, with an opening planned for November. The 9,000 square feet restaurant will include a live music area that will stage weekly events, a late night bar and a “rock shop”. Hard Rock told The Glasgow Evening Times that the cafe would also be available for private celebrations and event functions to accommodate Glasgow’s growing conference market. While Hard Rock currently has 175 cafes in 53 countries, Edinburgh has the only outlet in Scotland so far. A spokesman told The Evening Times: “Glasgow is an inspiring city, and with the Commonwealth Games coming next year the vibe is going to fantastic. It’s a city we’ve looked at for quite a while.” The spokesman hinted that Scots-related rock memorabilia will be featured in the new restaurant, saying: “I wouldn’t be surprised to see Scots like KT Tunstall and Angus Young from AC/DC featured, as well as other global stars.” Hard Rock Cafe is one of the UK’s most profitable sector businesses thanks to £10m of merchandise sales each year, making up half of total turnover.

Fatboy Slim adds Brighton cafe to leisure investments: Fatboy Slim has acquired the Beach Café in Hove Lagoon, formerly run as a vegetarian cafe by Heather Mills McCartney. He told The Guardian: “I’ve lived on the beach for 15 years and brought both my children up in this park. I’ve had some very happy years here. It sounds a bit cheesy to say I want to give something back but I want to cement my relationship with the community and get really into the heart of it.” He has investments in two restaurants in New York, including Michelin-starred gastro-pub The Spotted Pig and Oki-Nami, a Japanese restaurant in Brighton. “It’s a sideline that I’ve gotten into as I get older and wiser and calm down a bit – it made sense to carry on doing it ever closer to home,” he added. “There’s never really been a high-end restaurant that’s succeeded in Brighton, the kind of people who want high-end food go up to London for it. Brighton is much more about cafe society.”

Whitbread sets sites on 80 Costa drive-thrus: Whitbread plans to expand its network of Costa Coffee drive-thrus from the current ten up to 80 branches over the coming years, The Financial Times has reported. The first drive thru site opened outside Nottingham in 2011 and the latest one opened in Liverpool in mid-July. A further five stores will open by February 2014 and about 20 are in the pipeline, according to the company. The drive-thrus have been one of the best-performing sectors of the Costa brand, according to Whitbread.

SABMiller launches fresh unpasteurised Pilsner Urquell at M&B pub: SABMiller has launched fresh unpasteurised Pilsner Urquell at The White Horse in Parsons Green, a Mitchells & Butlers pub. The beer is delivered in a fresh unpasteurised form in a tanker that has taken just 24 hours to arrive from the brewery. The White Horse is storing the beer in a large copper tank to retain its freshness. SABMiller Europe managing director Sue Clark said: “Consumers are looking for things that are different, more considered. They are looking for things they can discover, different styles.”

Harris + Hoole plans to double in size this year: Harris + Hoole, the artisan coffee shop chain part-owned by Tesco, plans to double in size this year, co-founder Nick Tolley has told The Sunday Telegraph. The company has 18 stand-alone sites, and five in Tesco stores, taking a combined £100,000-a-week. Tolley said he expects that to double to between £220,000 and £250,000 in the coming year – the company is not profitable at the moment but is expected to be so in its fourth year. He said: “We have got some stores going very well, but there are invariably dogs, invariably stars and some in the middle. But the business is going in the right direction.” The company plans to introduce a mobile app that will allow customer to order their coffee on their phone when entering the store and then pay at the till. ”The idea of being able to pre-order and pay for your coffee, to keep your loyalty card on your phone – these are things that we expect to be very natural in five years’ time,” added Tolley.

City Pub Company to open brewhouse – with rotisserie and smokery: City Pub Company, the operator of two Enterprise Investment Scheme companies headed by Clive Watson, is to open its third brewhouse, this time in Bath, with a rotisserie offer and on-site smokery. The former Metropolitan, in James Street West, will re-open at the end of September as the Bath Brewhouse. The company also operates The Cork in Bath. The City Pub Company (West) team, which operates the Bath pubs, is led by Alex Derrick, formerly with the Capital Pub Company.

Grillshack launches website: Grillshack, the new concept backed by sector investor Richard Caring, has launched its website, The restaurant opens in Beak Street, London on 3 September. A grilled full breakfast is £3.95, hamburgers are £4.95, rump steak costs £9.95 and grilled half-chicken is £7.95. 

Ever So Sensible site forced to close for a time after malicious hacking of website: The Globe in Leicester, an Everards pub let to multi-site operator Ever So Sensible Group, was forced to close for a short while on Saturday after it received aggressive phonecalls from people. The phonecalls came after the pub’s website was hacked – malicious messages were added claiming it had banned military personnel. The pub was shut while more security staff were brought in. Everards managing director Stephen Gould said: “We were placed in a position that throughout the day our staff had to respond to very aggressive people obviously believing that the policy was true. We have no idea why The Globe was targeted but we will be working with police to find out why this happened.”

Deben Inns opens sixth site: Deben Inns, the East Anglia multiple operator headed by Steve Lomas, has opened its sixth site, The Swan at Westerfield, near Ipswich, after a £250,000 refurbishment. Lomas said: “We are delighted to have had the opportunity to re-open this great site with such easy access to the north of Ipswich. We are really pleased with the first few days’ trading and have had a great response from the village and surrounding areas with some very positive comments on the refurbishment and the fact that an abandoned site is open again.” The company also owns The Maybush at Waldringfield, The Butt & Oyster at Pin Mill, The Coach & Horses at Melton, The Fox at Newbourne and The Wilford Bridge in Melton.

Chef & Brewer chain offers £10 off food during Bank Holiday weekend: Spirit’s Chef & Brewer brand is offering customers a £10 discount on their food when they spend £30 or more over the August Bank Holiday weekend. The offer is limited to participating Chef & Brewer sites and is valid from 23 August to 26 August.

Microbrewer buys bar from collapsed pub company: The Welsh microbrewery Tiny Rebel has bought the Fire Island bar in Cardiff from Beatbox Bars, which collapsed last month owing almost £1.4 million. Beatbox owned three outlets in Cardiff, Fire Island, Ten Feet Tall and Buffalo. The latter two are still trading, while buyers are sought by the insolvency firm SFP. Tiny Rebel, which is based in Newport, South Wales, was one of the unsecured debtors of Beatbox Bars, along with fellow brewers The Celt Experience, Glamorgan Beers and Otley, and Cardiff Council. It plans to reopen the venue, the former Glamorgan Staff Club building on Westgate Street, which will be its first bar, under a new name next month. Beatbox, which was founded in 2004 by Daniel Biscombe, Nathan Vaughan, Ian Dakin, Claire Biscombe and Alex Power, went into administration last month, blaming its financial difficulties on a downturn in trade last winter. It had previously received £250,000 from the Welsh government body Finance Wales to help revamp the Westgate Street premises. Among the company’s 100 creditors listed in its statement of affairs, released this week, HM Revenue and Customs is owed almost £330,000 and Cardiff Council almost £47,000.

Elton John’s partner to open Las Vegas champagne bar: David Furnish, the partner of the singer Sir Elton John, is planning to open a champagne lounge and bar at Caesars Palace, the hotel and casino complex on the Las Vegas Strip, according to media reports in the United States. The reports say that Furnish, 50, who entered into a civil partnership with Elton John in 2005, will be working with Michael Greco, a nightlife impresario originally from New York who has worked with Hard Rock Hotels and the Palms casino resort in Las Vegas, among others. The reports say the bar will be decorated with artworks from Furnish and John’s own private collection. Elton John currently performs his “Million Dollar Piano” concerts at The Colosseum inside Caesars Palace.

Superdry founder buys Cheltenham boutique hotel: Superdry founder Julian Dunkerton has bought The Hotel in the Park in Cheltenham, in administration since June, off a guide price of £2.6m. Joint administrator Benjamin Wiles told This is Gloucestershire: “We have traded the business as a going concern for some months now while we sought a buyer for the business as a whole. However, the hotel has been trading at a loss which is no longer viable. Therefore, in order to cease the losses, we have accepted an offer for a property purchase of the listed building. The new owner intends to refurbish the building and re-open in the coming months as a different type of hotel and restaurant offering. Regrettably, one outcome of this sale is that the ten members of staff at the hotel have been made redundant. Although the loss of jobs was not the preferred outcome, the trading losses could not be sustained and accepting the offer for the property was, in our opinion, in the best interests of creditors as a whole.”

PizzaExpress to open in Harlow: PizzaExpress is to open a new site in Harlow town centre this Friday (23 August) that will create 25 jobs. The restaurant, at the Water Gardens in the town centre, will seat 116 diners and will employ a staff of 25, including six pizzaiolas and 14 waiters and waitresses. PizzaExpress will celebrate its half century in 2015, having been founded in 1965. It now has over 420 restaurants across the country.

Newcastle operator Greenan Blueaye invests £750,000 in brewpub: Pub operator Greenan Blueaye has invested around £750,000 in plans to create Newcastle’s first brewpub in an innovative partnership with Wylam Brewery. Dave Stone and Rob Cameron, co-founders of Greenan Blueaye, are spending £500,000 on transforming a Quayside venue into The Bridge Tavern, where the brewery will concoct ales for the new pub on site. Work has already begun on the pub, which will officially open next month, becoming the second venue opened by Greenan Blueaye, coming two years after the opening of The Town Wall in Newcastle’s historic Bewick House.

Jamie Rollo – we think Enterprise Inns share price could double: Morgan Stanley leisure analyst Jamie Rollo has forecast Enterprise Inns share price could double. He said: “Listed UK property stocks traded at an average 15% discount to book until 2007 when they got REIT status, and the discount closed to 5%, and it is currently at parity. Enterprise Inns has averaged a 28% premium to book value since listing, and is currently trading at a 50% discount. Enterprise, like property companies, revalues its assets annually. If improving pub trends, growing financing availability for its non-core pub disposals, and a robust economy combine to drive increased market confidence in Enterprise Inns’ asset value, we think its share price can double.”

Former Orchid director buys second pub: Former Orchid Pub Company director Magnus Wilson has bought his second pub, The Northumberland Hussar in Heaton, Newcastle upon Tyne. Christie + Co associate director Mark Worley said: “We are delighted that the pub has been purchased by Magnus Wilson, a former director at Vaux and also Orchid Group, who also recently purchased The Ivy House in Sunderland via Christie + Co last year.” Wilson said: “The refurbishment will see structural alterations to convert the three-room building into an open-plan, single-room pub with open kitchen and plans for an on-site brewery in the building’s cellar. We strongly believe in keeping high quality in all of our food and drink, and the best way to do that is to make it yourself. We’ll be focusing on getting our chefs the best produce from our local suppliers, supporting top local breweries like Temptation and importing some of the best beers from the likes of Mikkeller, Cantillon and Brooklyn brewery. We want to make sure that we make this place an asset to Heaton and a pub of which the community can be proud.” The pub is due to re-open in mid-September.

Planning application lodged to include Marston’s pub restaurant in Middlesborough: A planning application has been submitted for vacant land at Middlehaven on the A66 dual carriageway, which links Redcar with Darlington, for a new 80,000 sq ft Sainsbury’s supermarket with garage as well as a KFC take-away, coffee shop and Marston’s new-build pub restaurant.

Prezzo plans second Cleaver after success of Cobham site: Prezzo, headed by Jonathan Kaye, is to open a second Cleaver in Wokingham, converting one of its two Prezzo sites, after the runaway success of its first site in Cobham, which was also a former Prezzo. The most recent TripAdvisor review states: “We went here for the first time this evening, and were not disappointed. The staff were all very friendly, the food was really good and the service was excellent. I read other reviews about the menu not being very varied; to be honest I see this as a good thing, as I get a little fed up with too much choice. The menu is straightforward and simple, and the food tastes great! We’ll definitely go back again soon.”

Cains ‘brewery village’ scheme advances: The owners of Cains, the currently closed Liverpool brewer, say they intend to have their plans for a £50m ‘brewery village’ on the site, including a hotel, food hall and a smaller craft brewery, before the city’s council by the end of this month or the beginning of next. Brewing stopped at Cains’ Stanhope Street site in May after its owners, the Dusanj brothers, said that their own-label brewing and canning business was no longer profitable. The brothers originally said they would have Cains’ own beers outsourced temporarily to another brewery. But Sudarghara Dusanj told The Liverpool Echo that they were focusing on setting up their new smaller brewery, rather than on outsourcing the beer. “I’ve just been to Germany to look at really modern craft brewing equipment for Cains. It will brew all sorts of beer – milds, stouts, lagers and ales,” Dusanj said. He said the plan was to have the brewery up and brewing beer by next year’s International Festival of Business, which will take place in Liverpool in June and July 2014. He said: “What we didn’t want to do is just start getting it brewed, just like that. We have a great brand. We didn’t want to damage it. When we start brewing the beer, we want it to be spot-on.”

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