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Tue 10th Sep 2013 - Steve Hill, ETM Group, Pizza Hut, TLC Inns and Wagamama

Story of the day:

Steve Hill to become chief executive of Las Iguanas: Former Wagamama chief executive Steve Hill has become chief executive designate and non-executive director of Latin American restaurant chain Las Iguanas. Hill is expected to take over the role of chief executive from founder Eren Ali in January 2014 – Ali will remain in the business as founder director. He said: “After 23 years at the helm of Las Iguanas and with the business now in the strongest possible shape (and) setting historic performance records, I feel the time is right to step back from the day to day running of the operation. And with the appointment of Steve I’m confident that I’m putting Las Iguanas in an excellent pair of hands. I’ll be working closely with Steve to support his integration in to the team over the coming months.” Chairman Ian Neill added: “I’m very pleased that Steve will be joining Las Iguanas at a key point in the company’s growth story. Steve and I worked together for many years at Wagamama and, on a personal note, I will be delighted to be working with him again.” Hill oversaw the growth of Wagamama from 28 to 82 units and led the sale of the business by Lion Capital to Duke Street Capital, generating a shareholder return in excess of 3x investment. Las Iguanas currently has 30 branches across the UK with a further six due to open this year, including Wembley’s London Designer Outlet Village in October. Las Iguanas were named one of The Sunday Times’ Best Companies to Work in 2013 and holds the Investors in People Gold Award. The company was listed as the Coolest Brand in both October 2012 and May 2013 in the Peach Brandtrack survey.

Industry news:

Crowdcube founder to speak at next Propel Multi Club Conference: Luke Lang, co-founder of crowd-funding company Crowdcube, through which Jonathan Downey’s Rushmore Group raised £1m, explains the advantages of crowd-funding – and the secrets of successful fund-raising through this route. Operators can book two free places by e-mailing The event is being held at One Moorgate Place, London on Thursday 7 November.

Healthy food vans to be trialed outside London schools: Vans selling “healthy” fast food will be stationed outside schools to tackle obesity and bad eating habits. The Box Chicken project offers London schoolchildren alternatives to deep-fried chicken and taps into the trend for street food. The meals will be cheap and made from good-quality stewed poultry, which is low in fat. Peri-peri chicken will be one of the dishes on the menu. The pilot is launching next week for a month near secondary and some primary schools in Forest Gate in Newham, one of the most deprived areas of London. If successful, it will be rolled out across the capital.

US restaurant sales fall in August: A survey of the US restaurant industry by Black Box Intelligence and People Report has found that like-for-like sales fell 0.2% in August – the third consecutive month of flat-to-negative sales growth in comparable stores. The August results compare with a 0.9% decline in July and flat sales in June. During the last three months combined the industry experienced a 0.3% drop in same-store store sales when compared with the same period in 2012. Traffic fell 1.9% during the month, slightly better than the 2.2% decline in July and the 2.5% drop reported for June.

Andrew Guy – Casual Dining show is the right idea at the right time: Ed’s Easy Diner Group chief executive Andrew Guy has described the new Casual Dining show, due to take place for the first time at the Business Design Centre, Islington on 26 and 27 February 2014, as “the right idea at the right time”. He added: “(It’s) a trade show specifically for everyone involved in the fastest growing and most exciting part of the eating out market – I’m looking forward to it.” Representatives from Propel Info, Peach Report, Horizons, and Allegra Strategies, are all confirmed to join the Casual Dining Keynote Theatre programme at the event.

Company news:

Stonegate to open 700 capacity Slug & Lettuce this Friday: Stonegate Pub Company is to open the biggest Slug & Lettuce to date this Friday (13 September), a 700-capacity site at London’s O2 Arena. The £650,000 spend will create 22 new jobs. Slug & Lettuce has operated successfully at a 250-capacity site on the Entertainment Avenue at the O2 since its launch, but is moving to a bigger, more spacious site in the complex. Slug & Lettuce general manager Richard Hammond said: “When the opportunity arose to take this space at the O2 we knew it was just what we were looking for. We hate to turn customers away but during event nights we simply didn’t have enough space to fit everyone it. Now with a capacity for 700 and being able to serve food right through until midnight we couldn’t be happier!”

ETM Group updates on Canary Wharf opening: London gastro-operator will open its One Canada Square restaurant and cocktail bar, located in the lobby of its namesake, the iconic 800ft tower at the heart of Canary Wharf, in mid-October. Design is by David Collins Studio and with the menu overseen by former head chef of the Ivy Club Jamie Dobbin, it will serve modern European food.

Whitbread opens 1,000 international Costa this week: Whitbread will open the 1,000 international Costa Coffee this week when it unveils its first site in Bangkok, Thailand, under a franchise deal with RMA Group. The opening will mean that Costa has a presence in 30 countries around the world. The coffee brand, which also has 1,300 coffee shops in the UK, is the world’s second largest coffee chain behind Starbucks. It has been opening an average of circa 150 overseas stores a year for the last five years.

Dorset Brewing Company takes Spirit leased site: Dorset Brewing Company has taken its third pub, a Spirit leased site, The Castle Green Inn in Taunton. It opened its doors last Thursday and has been renamed The Beer Society. One side of the pub will be converted into a coffee and breakfast bar. Dorset Brewing Company was founded by Giles Smeath in 1996 and acquired larger premises in December 2010.

De Vere acquires Aberdeen development for first Village Urban Resort in Scotland: De Vere Group has acquired a long leasehold development site on Drum Property Group’s Prime Four Business Park in Aberdeen for its first Village Urban Resort in Scotland. The deal on the 100,000-plus square foot site was introduced by specialist property adviser Christie + Co on behalf of Drum Property Group. It is expected that the De Vere Village Urban Resort will have 148 bedrooms including 48 superior Upper Deck rooms, meetings and events facilities, a Chop & Ale House restaurant, Starbucks coffee shop, pub, Viva Urban spa and a state of the art Velocity health and fitness club, and is anticipated to open in November 2014. Robert Cook, chief executive of Village Urban Resorts, said: “Prime Four’s position and its status as a major new energy hub, together with Aberdeen’s ongoing economic resilience, meant that this was an ideal location for us to establish our first Village Urban Resort in Scotland.”

TLC Inns takes seventh site: TLC Inns, the operator led by Steve and Jo Haslam, has taken its seventh site, the Boathouse In Ely, a free-of-tie lease acquired from Cambridgeshire multi-site operator Cambcuisine. The company will trade the site until January 2014 and then refurbish it as an evolution of its Grand Central, Basildon American diner concept. The new site means that TLC Inns now has four freehold or free-of-tie leasehold venues and three tied sites – the company was founded with three Enterprise Inns tied leases.

BII Licensee of the Year looking for new challenge: BII Licensee of the Year 2012 Mahdis Neghabian is looking for a new challenge in the sector after stepping down as licensee of New Pub Company’s Camden Eye pub. Neghabian worked at the site for seven years, taking turnover above the £1m per annum mark. She told Propel: “I’d like to broaden my experience in the trade, perhaps in hotel or restaurant management. I’m also looking for exciting opportunities in start-up businesses, as my strengths lie in creating a unique vision for new ventures.” Peter Linacre, managing director of New Pub Company, said: “Having done an absolutely magnificent job for us, we wish Mahdis well as she explored new opportunities – we look forward to staying close friends.” Her number is (07817) 847438.

Five new restaurants planned for York, including Bella Italia and Individual restaurants sites: The growing York restaurant scene has been given a boost with plans submitted for five new eateries in the city. Three completely new restaurants are planned in the city centre, including one on the site of the Budgen’s supermarket, which could close. A fourth restaurant, a Bella Italia, is planned at Clifton Moor, and the fifth will be a new occupant at the former J Baker’s site in Fossgate, which will become a South Indian restaurant called Viva Goa. Planning applications have been submitted to City of York Council for the Budgen’s site, on the corner of George Hudson Street and Micklegate, and also for part of the former Argos site behind Piccolino in Bridge Street. The application at the Argos site is similar to one approved in 2009, but the original permission expired before being implemented. The plans, which seek to ultimately to convert the former shop into two separate restaurants, have been submitted by Individual Restaurants, which owns the neighbouring Piccolino. Meanwhile Bella Italia, which has a restaurant in Low Petergate, wants to open a second eatery on a new site at Clifton Moor. USS, the owner of the park, wants to build a new £800,000 restaurant near The Flying Legends pub, creating about 30 jobs in the process.

Russell Norman to publish second cookbook: Polpo founder Russell Norman is to publish a Spuntino cookbook featuring 120 recipes inspired by the restaurant and several New York food walks. The book will be published by Bloomsbury in early 2015 and will reunite Norman with Richard Atkinson, his editor on the successful Polpo book.

Pacha to open in Dubai next year: Pacha, the worldwide nightclub band will open a super-club in Dubai next year, Time Out Dubai has reported. Pacha Ibiza Dubai will be located in Souk Madinat Jumeirah, taking over a combined space that previously belonged to Trilogy and Jambase, and will most likely launch in January 2014. Trilogy, and its neighbouring venue, Jambase, both closed in July 2013 to accommodate a new super-club, details of which were not revealed until now.

JD Wetherspoon lines up second pub for Preston: JD Wetherspoon has applied for planning application to convert the former TSB site in Preston, which has stood empty for years, to a pub. Andrew Connolly, principal estates surveyor for Lancashire County Council, said: “This building on Church Street is currently owned by our economic development department, Lancashire County Developments Limited. Terms for the sale of the property have been agreed with JD Wetherspoon, subject to planning and licensing approval being granted.” A spokesman for JD Wetherspoon said: “We have exchanged contracts but it has not been completed yet. JD Wetherspoon is known for the way they do up old buildings and incorporate original features and renovate very sympathetically. We have many towns that have more than one Wetherspoon’s, so this is normal for somewhere as big as Preston.”

Prime Bristol site comes to market: The leasehold interest in The Lido Kitchen in Portishead is on offer for £85,000 – it has 29 years left on the leased and a stepped rent. It’s currently a restaurant, cafe and tapas bar, overlooking the Bristol Channel and neighbouring lido. The business comes to the market due to the current owner concentrating on new ventures. The Lido Kitchen was given a major, high specification refurbishment in 2012, just in time for the lido celebrating its 50th birthday. Valerie Turner, restaurant specialist at agent Christie + Co in Bristol, said: “It is a great opportunity, given the location and the ability to develop the business further. The area has had an increase in population due to recent residential development, and has witnessed an increasing appetite from restaurant and pub operators including Loungers, Mezze and Aqua Italia. The Lido Kitchen has been run as a year-round business but it can adapt to a seasonal operation depending on the type of lifestyle prospective buyers are looking for.”

Opening of Brunning & Price new site delayed by running sand: Work to convert a Formby hotel into a Brunning & Price pub restaurant hit a major setback when builders discovered they had to dig through almost 60 feet of ‘running sand’ before hitting bedrock to lay down foundations. The former Tree Tops hotel is being converted into The Sparrowhawk and is due to open in late October or early November. Builders needed to lay new foundations for the new garden room and kitchen extension but found they had to drill down to the equivalent of a six storey building before they hit rock. Above the rock was what is known as ‘running sand’ – loose-packed sand that can become fluidised by water flowing through it. Francis Hull, Brunning and Price property director said: “It has been both exasperating and expensive, it set the project back two or three weeks so all the building trades have had to re-schedule but we are pulling out all the stops to make up time. Remarkably the building has stood for over 150 years with no subsidence issues that we can identify so the Victorians knew what they were doing!”

Greene King opens Bristol Hungry Horse: Greene King has opened a new-build Hungry Horse in Bristol’s Brislington district. The Lodekka Hungry Horse stands on the site of the former Bristol Motor Constructional Works in Bath Road, Brislington, where the famous Lodekka buses were built. More than 40 jobs have been created at the new pub, 15 of them through the Jobcentre Plus scheme to get long-term unemployed people back into work.

Stonegate Pub Company re-opens Glasgow music bar with extended cocktail list: Managed operator Stonegate is to re-open its Glasgow music bar Home after a £150,000 refurbishment. The bar, which is owned and operated by the award winning Stonegate Pub Company, is to re-open this Friday (13 September). The revised customer offer will include an extensive cocktail menu with over fifty on offer. Home will also be introducing a range of draught products including craft beers from local Glasgow Brewery ‘West’ and greater range of wines and champagnes.

Pizza Hut lines up viral videos to mark 40 years in the UK: Take Me Out presenter Paddy McGuinness is starring with James “Arg” Argent from The Only Way is Essex in viral videos to celebrate 40 years of Pizza Hut trading in the UK. McGuinness is cast as the new chief customer officer at one of the Pizza Hut sites. He said: “I play myself in the virals – but more of a David Brent influenced version. I’ve been given a job there as chief customer officer and the power has gone to my head, and Arg – or Reg as I like to call him – is one of my poor co-workers.”

Wagamama to open 100th UK branch next month: Wagamama is to open its 100th UK branch in London’s first designer outlet centre opposite Wembley Stadium next month. Wagamama will launch its landmark restaurant on 24 October at the official opening of the London Designer Outlet. Sharon Cawthorne, the director of property at Wagamama, said: “Wembley Park is a fittingly iconic location for such a milestone and we are delighted to be part of the capital’s first ever designer outlet centre.” London Designer Outlet, which has been built by Quintain, will offer 85 retail units, 15 bars and restaurants.

Cheltenham nightclub entrepreneur plans premium bar: Matthew Bull, who operates the 13 Degrees nightclub in Cheltenham, is planning to transform a property in Regent Street into a stylish venue for young professionals. Called Six Degrees of Separation, it will offer cocktails, premium spirits and a range of UK and international beers when it opens next year. Bull said: “The property is in need of huge redevelopment to bring it up to our standards but we’re looking forward to giving Cheltenham something new. I have put to good use my background as a graphic designer combined with my experience of running 13 Degrees to design the layout and interiors, creating what will be a unique environment for our clients.” It is estimated that the bar will open in October next year.

Historic pub refurbished for £700,000 up for auction at £250,000 to £300,000: A historic south Norfolk pub that was restored at a cost of £700,000 after it burnt down, is being auctioned off with a guide price of £250,000 to £300,000. The Grade II-listed 17th Century Chequers Inn, on the A1066 in Bressingham, was faithfully restored to English Heritage specifications after it was gutted by fire in October 2009. The food-led pub reopened in summer 2011, but after two tenants came and went, its owner Enterprise Inns, a large pub company, was unable to find new landlords and put the property up for sale in June with Roche Surveyors, with an asking price of £350,000. Now the freehold is up for auction, including its freehold, via auctioneers Auction House at Dunston Hall, south of Norwich, on September 12. Its auction surveyor, Robert Hurst, said: “Auction gives certainty of sale. The price has dropped significantly to a level that will really attract people. It is fairly early days but we have had some interest and I would expect it to sell somewhere between the £250,000 to £300,000 guide price. I think it is a great opportunity, possibly for an owner occupier who can then run it in their own way, on their terms. It has been refurbished and is ready to go.”

Smiths of Smithfield secures £2.25m banking facility: Smiths of Smithfield secured a £2.25m banking facility – a debt refinance and a working capital component – from Barclays to open its new Smiths venue on the site of the former The Luxe unit in Spitalfields market. Sam Ghamloush, Barclays relationship director in the hospitality and Leisure team, said: “Smiths of Smithfield is an established and iconic London restaurant and its newly branded site will be a welcome addition to an increasingly popular East End. With London restaurants doing particularly well on the back of a good summer, this is an exciting time for the brand.”

Admiral Taverns rescinds sale of pub to sell it to the local community: A village pub is set to be bought by locals and developed as a community hub and post office after Admiral Taverns rescinded a decision to sell to a developer. People in the Peak District village of Bamford had decided to raise the money to buy The Angler’s Rest through Bamford Community Society (BCS). It was announced, however, last month that Admiral Taverns had decided to sell not to the BCS, but to a third party developer. Now the company has changed tack. Admiral Taverns’ managing director Kevin George said: “I am pleased to confirm that Admiral Taverns has reached an agreement with the purchaser of The Angler’s Rest to rescind the sale, enabling the residents of Bamford to purchase the pub. The pub will now be available for the local community to proceed with a purchase under the original terms, through the BCS. While the original purchaser was entirely committed to maintaining the pub as a pub, with the potential of incorporating additional community services, such as a post office, both they and Admiral Taverns recognise the strength of feeling expressed by the residents of Bamford regarding The Angler’s Rest. It is clear that the local community feels passionately about taking ownership of the pub themselves. Consequently, in the days since the original sale was agreed at the end of August, and in the wake of considerable campaigning by the BCS, we have worked to rescind the sale agreement.”

5,000 clubbers turn out for first re-branded Oceana: More than 5,000 clubbers turned out this weekend (6/7 September) to attend the opening of Luminar £1 million rebrand of the former Oceana in Bristol, re-named Pryzm. The £1 million investment has taken eight weeks to complete and created 30 new jobs for young people who have joined the existing 65-strong team. Bristol is the first Oceana to be rebranded Pryzm with work about to get underway at Luminar’s Kingston upon Thames venue. Pryzm features three distinctly styled music rooms, as well as the first third-party branded cocktail bar by drinks brand Belvedere vodka. It also has a pre-club bar, a luxurious VIP suite and is supported by the very latest in sound and lighting systems. Luminar chief executive Peter Marks said: “The opening weekend was a huge success with fantastic customer feedback, firmly establishing Pryzm as Bristol’s premier nightspot.”

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