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Tue 24th Sep 2013 - Beer sales, Bravo, Carluccio's, franchising and M&B

Story of the day:

On-trade beer volumes slip as off-trade prices fall: On-trade beer volumes overall fell 4.3% year-on-year in August, the latest figures show, despite good weather during the month, as pubs and bars struggled against falling off-trade prices. The figures show that while prices in the on-trade, up 1.9%, continue to lag the general Retail Price Index, up 3.3%, as they have done for a year, beer prices in the off-trade actually fell 1% year-on-year. The average price of a pint of pub bitter was, at £2.87, the same as the previous four months, and up 2% year-on-year, while the price of a pint of pub lager, at £3.30, was up 3% year-on-year. Sales for cask ale were down 1.1% year-on-year. However, premium ales, up 3.9%, continued to outperform standard ales, down 7%, and climbed to 24.6% of all on-trade ale sales, up from 22.3% in August 2012 and 21.3% in August 2011. Sales of standard lager were down in the on-trade by 4% year-on-year, with premium lager sales down 2%. In the off-trade, beer sales were down 7.7% year-on-year, to give a total fall in volumes of 5.9%. On-sales represented 54% of total beer sales, up from 52.8% in August 2012. The month was in sharp contrast to July, which saw total beer sales up more than 19% year-on-year thanks to warm weather, most of that in the off-trade, up more than 40%, with the on-trade seeing just a 1% rise. HMRC clearance data for the year ending June 2013 shows beer volumes down 5.5%, cider down 4.7%, wine down 0.7% and spirits down 3.2%. Duty revenue for the year to July 2013 continues to show wine, up 4.2%, pulling ahead of beer, down 4.9%, with cider down 0.3% and spirits up 2.3%. Propel Info managing editor Martyn Cornell said: “With premium ales the only bright spot for on-trade beer sales, it looks as if pubs need to concentrate on ‘premiumising’ their beer offer more in order to compete with the supermarkets’ much cheaper deals.” 

Industry news:

McDonald’s franchisees making £200,000 a year: McDonald’s franchisees are at the top of the earnings tree, with profits of £200,000 per site plus, according to Morris Greenberg, of property lease specialist Cedar Dean Gilmarc. He told the London Evening Standard: “Franchising is now a boom industry and competition to get into something like McDonald’s or KFC is ferocious. The rewards are spectacular if you have the cash to buy in and are prepared to work your socks off for three to five years. Franchises, providing they are in the right place and run well, are a passport to millionaire status. London has the prime sites that everyone is after but we will be seeing more and more of them on every high street over the next few years.” The list of major company franchisee earnings in descending order is: McDonald’s, £200,000; KFC, £150,000; Domino’s, £115,000; Burger King, £100,000; Costa Coffee, £100,000; Subway, £40,000.

Restaurant consultant Adam Hyman to launch his own app: Restaurant consultant Adam Hyman, who publishes a weekly news round-up called Code Bulletin, is to launch his own app. He said: “I’m glad to announce that Code will soon be launching its own app. Among other benefits, the app will include discounts and deals around London for people working in the hospitality trade. I hope it might encourage more people in the industry to offer perks to others working in it – perhaps, in time, helping young people to see restaurants as a viable career.”

Allegra says coffee bars’ cups cost twice as much as the coffee: The retail research company Allegra Strategies has broken down the price of a typical £2.20 cappuccino from a High Street coffee bar and concluded that the packaging – cup, lid, napkin, stirrer and sugar – costs twice as much as the coffee. Allegra divided the cost percentages up into coffee, 4%; milk, 4%; packaging, 8%; VAT (average), 17%; rents, rates etc, 15%; administration costs, 15%; staff wages, 24%; and profit, 13%. Allegra also found that the price of a cappuccino has risen almost 70%, from £1.30 ten years ago, while the retail prices index has only risen some 35% in the same period. However, Jeffrey Young, Allegra’s managing director, told the Daily Mail: “I think customers are getting extremely good value. People spend a lot of time [in coffee shops] and they aren’t paying for that time other than the price of a cup of coffee.” 

World’s largest KFC drive-thru opens in Ukraine: The world’s largest KFC drive-thru restaurant has opened in Ukraine, at the National Railway Station’s south terminal in Kiev. The franchised location measures 1,700 square metres, or slightly more than 5,575 square feet, and features a double drive-thru that can serve 200 cars an hour, seating for 280 people in the dining room, and a 400-seat patio. Officials for the Yum! Restaurants International division for Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States said the new restaurant would serve as the flagship for KFC in Ukraine.

Company news:

InnBrighton’s new flagship pub to host burlesque and circus performers: 45-strong InnBrighton’s new flagship site in Acton, an Enterprise Inns pub, will combine a micro-brewery and circus performers. The Aeronaut is being built on the site of The Redback Tavern in the High Street, which was previously run by Antic but closed in February. A statement on the pub’s Facebook page said it aims to be “one of the most interesting and exciting destinations in West London”. The pub will feature the on-site Laine’s Brewery and will also host performances by cabaret acrobats, burlesque and circus performers. The pub is named after George Lee Temple, the turn-of-the-century pilot who was born in Acton and became the first Englishman to fly an aeroplane upside down.

Bravo Inns opens 33rd pub: Bravo Inns, the north west of England operator of community pubs led by Ken Buckley has opened its 31st pub, The Thomas Henry, on Senhouse Street in Maryport, Cumbria. In the last few months Bravo re-opened The Albion in Clayton-Le-Moors, near Accrington, Lancashire and the Black Horse in Warrington. Bravo, which is funded by Albion Ventures, specialises in wet-led community pubs with sports playing an integral part of the offering. Buckley said the company’s philosophy is to buy pubs at realistic prices and then refurbish them to a high standard. He told Propel: “We are currently running at a like-for-like sales increase of just over 6%, which I am very pleased with. We have two more sites in the pipeline which I am fairly confident that we will soon complete. In general, I am happy with our performance to date and we will continue to fly the flag for the community pub sector.”

Douglas Jack – Mitchells & Butlers shares are an investment for 2014-15: Numis Securities analyst Douglas Jack has issued an “Add” recommendation, with a target price of 500p for the shares, ahead of Mitchells & Butlers’ pre-closing statement, due on Thursday. He said: “Like-for-like sales should improve, but over the medium-term. The roll-out of the ‘Ways of Working’ service culture (now over one third complete) will be stepped up next year; it is now focusing on a small number of priorities at outlet level and cutting bureaucracy for area managers. The company is also addressing the lack of ambiance in some of its leisure park restaurants and repositioning the food offer in its deep-value food brands. M&B intended to open 20 new sites and complete five conversions this year. In Q1-3, 11 new sites opened and five sites were converted. There was a good pipeline for faster expansion in Q4 and, subject to returns, expansion could accelerate to 40-50 new sites in 2014E. Relative to most of its large competitors, M&B is benefiting from not having to undertake much disposal activity. Given the company’s discount rating and self-help plans, we would accumulate the shares. We believe most of the upside should occur over the medium term, subject to LFL sales recovering and the £0.6bn pension deficit falling (if gilt yields rise).”

Spirit launches innovative Christmas booking system: Spirit Pub Company has teamed up with liveRES to develop a bespoke online reservation tool that enables each individual pub in its 800-strong estate to intelligently manage their online bookings. The event booking system, which is currently being rolled out across Spirit’s Flaming Grill, Fayre & Square, Chef & Brewer and Taylor Walker brands, was designed by Spirit and liveRES to give guests a more efficient booking experience. The system enables guests to book larger group sizes, facilitate deposit payments, tailor menus to specific requirements, and identify children and adult covers. Spirit launched online bookings two years ago using the liveRES service and identified that there was an opportunity to increase the level of interaction with guests and reduce the time placed on pub teams to manage bookings. During high volume periods many traditional white label online booking systems fail to manage the demand for larger or more bespoke enquiries. Kenny Skelton, head of digital at Spirit Pub Company, said: “Ensuring we provide an easy, efficient and customisable booking experience for our guests is a critical part of our business, especially during key holiday periods.”

La Tasca reports 62% profit growth in the first quarter: La Tasca , which operates 45 restaurants and has turnover above £50m, has reported profit growth of 62% in its first quarter. In September 2012, La Tasca’s new menu went live and as a business went from serving 85 per cent frozen food to 85 per cent fresh. Chief executive Simon Wikinson told EP Magazine: “On the first day we bought the business I had 82 letters of complaint, and those were from the people who bothered to write. Two years later, I had 15 negative comments. Our guest recommend is 92 per cent this year. These achievements haven’t come without time and effort.”

Wilson couple to open third restaurant: Robert and Robyn Wilson are to open their third restaurant. The 160-cover Sign of the Don is due to open in October next to the long-established Don on St Swithin’s Lane in the City. Their other restaurant is Bleeding Heart in Hatton Garden, Holborn.

Molson Coors launches Carling British Cider in Punch Taverns estate: Molson Coors is launching Carling British Cider on draught to the on-trade after its successful performance in the off-trade. The product will be launched on draught in Punch Taverns pubs and will be rolled out across the on-trade from January 2014. Jeremy Gibson, brand director, Carling at Molson Coors UK said: “The success of Carling British Cider among retailers has been fantastic. In response to customer demand, we are excited to be making Carling British Cider available on draught. We look forward to continuing to innovate in the cider market which we believe offers superb opportunity for growth.” The launch will be supported by Carling British Cider’s £4.5m advertising campaign for 2013 including TV, outdoor and digital. John Healy, commercial director at Punch Taverns said: “We are delighted that Punch Taverns has been selected for the first installations of Carling British Cider on draught.”

Fuller’s offers consumer the chance to become a brewer for a day in Cask Ale Week competition: London brewer Fuller’s is offering one person the opportunity to become brewer for a day at its award-winning Griffin Brewery in Chiswick, London. The prize will see the winner work alongside Fuller’s head brewer to choose the best malts and hops, help with the brewing process (including the mash in, fermentation and cask racking) and, of course, undertaking some quality control by tasting a range of Fuller’s beers. To be in with a chance of winning, consumers can take part in the “Cask Your Vote” competition in any Fuller’s pub, allowing them to sample three different beers, served in 1/3 pint glasses, held in a Fuller’s “paddle” where available. Drinkers will vote for their favourite, leave their details and the winner will be picked at random.

Northcote wins AA wine award: The Northcote restaurant in Lancashire has won national recognition at the AA Hospitality Awards, winning the AA England Wine Award 2013-14 at a ceremony last evening at the London Hilton on Park Lane. The award recognises an outstanding contribution to promoting wine understanding and appreciation while demonstrating a high-quality wine list and the ability to inspire customers to a wider and more adventurous choice in selecting wines. Craig Bancroft, managing director of Northcote, said: “The award means a great deal to me personally and all the wine team. To be recognised by the industry at this level is such an honour and a great achievement. It truly reflects all the hard work and research that we have carried out these past 24 months to ensure we offer our customers a great selection of wines whilst dining with us.”

Pret A Manger opens latest coffee shop format site in Crawley: Pret A Manger has opened the latest of its evolved coffee shop Pret A Manger sites in Crawley, Sussex. The brand opened in The Martletts, creating 20 new jobs. The company offered free coffee over the weekend between 11am and 3pm as part of the launch.

TGI Friday’s barman defends cocktail crown: Russ Ward, who works at TGI Friday’s, Tinsley, Sheffield, has won the award for best UK barman for the second year running – sharing this year’s title with Ashley Morley, 27, from Guildford. They fought off competition from 300 other bartenders from across the UK in the restaurant chain’s annual UK Bartender Championship. Ward, 31, becomes the first bartender in nearly two decades to successfully defend the UK title. The winners had to demonstrate their skills in front of a crowd of more than 1,000 cocktail aficionados.

Loungers refused licence in Liverpool: Cafe bar concept Loungers has been refused a licence to open a site on Liverpool’s Allerton Road. The company was granted planning consent for the conversion but was declined an alcohol licence yesterday. A tweet by the company yesterday said: “How you can get planning on a property and then be refused a licence is beyond me.”

Costa Coffee opening in Great Yarmouth: Costa Coffee franchisee Acca Ltd is to open a branch of the chain in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk in mid-October. The unit on Theatre Lane, Regent Street, near the side entrance of the Market Gates shopping centre, had previously been a Clinton Cards outlet. Jonathan Newman, Great Yarmouth town centre manager for the local council, told the Eastern Daily Press that Costa was a big brand and a welcome addition to a very visible area of the town. Newman said he felt for the independent cafes in the town, but Costa was a different food-based offer. “It adds some choice to the Great Yarmouth town centre and fills a vacant shop which is important. Any new business that opens up in a town centre in this economic climate is welcome and it will bring new jobs. Costa has a market of its own within the coffee industry,” Newman said.

Technomic – Italian-themed UK chains sees sale rise: UK restaurant chains featuring food saw sales rise 5.9% in 2012 to reach a total of $1.17bn, according to Technomic’s 2013 Leading 100 UK chain Restaurants. The research company says Italian-oriented chains saw their UK system-wide sales rise 5.9% to more than $1.17 billion in 2012. Full-service Italian chains on the list saw sales growth of 8.4%, to $1.09 billion. Technomic said: “The familiarity, popularity and easy accessibility of Italian cuisine and pizza in particular is something that restaurants focused on other ethnic cuisines can only envy. For example, there’s still something of a learning curve for UK consumers, especially outside city centres, about Mexican and Mexican-inspired flavours and menu items.)”

McDonald’s, Frankie & Benny’s named as potential tenants at planned Hampshire leisure development: The developers behind a proposed 14-acre development in the centre of Waterlooville, Hampshire, say discussions are already under way with Cineworld, McDonald’s, Frankie & Benny’s and Premier Inns. Plans for the former Marconi factory site in the town include an eight-screen cinema, a 20-lane tenpin bowling complex, a fitness centre, a 60-bedroom hotel, three restaurants, a pub and a drive-through fast-food restaurant. Plans were approved last year for the site to be transformed into 18 business units, a car showroom, a hotel and restaurant. However, a marketing campaign for the business units found there was not enough demand for them, because of competition from other nearby business parks. A planning report by Laurence Holmes, senior planner at Harris Lamb Property Consultancy, on the latest proposals said: “The proposals offer a viable development solution for this site following extensive marketing and are intended to create an enhanced leisure-led destination for Waterlooville.”

New restaurant concept planned for Covent Garden: A former geophysicist and a former head of music are to open a new restaurant concept called Proper in Covent Garden, London. Proper will be part coffee bar, part take-away and part restaurant, and is set to occupy the former Manorom Thai restaurant at 16 Maiden Lane. Maureen Fulton and Dominic Peel aim to provide a British take on European café culture. Thirtytwentyone, the umbrella company for Proper, took an assignment of a 20-year lease on the new site, which runs from December 2011. It is paying a rent of £52,000 a year for the unit, which has a 350 ft ground floor and a 425 sq ft basement.

TCG reveals details of its cask ale festival: Managed pub and bar group TCG is bringing back its successful “Proud of Our Ales” ale festival at the end of September. This year’s event has an enhanced support package that will see it run for longer, with a higher profile in the 45 participating. Proud of Our Ales, now in its third year, is designed to expand TCG’s cask ale business, with the 2012 festival generating a 25% volume uplift. This year’s campaign starts on 27 September, coinciding with Cask Ale Week, and runs for six weeks rather than four as previously. Activity is tiered, with TCG’s ten top cask ale pubs serving 16 ales throughout the festival, chosen from a wide range of local, regional and national brewers. These pubs will also offer a “Local Sausage and Ale” meal deal, matching a local butcher’s sausage and mash with a pint of festival ale at an inclusive price. Other pubs will extend their cask offer to either six or 12 ales. 

JD Wetherspoon confirms Cambuslang site: JD Wetherspoon has confirmed it will open a site in Cambuslang, near Glasgow (population: 24,500). The company will convert the old cinema and bingo hall on the Main Street in a £1m investment that will create 40 jobs. Meanwhile, JD Wetherspoon has completed a deal on a high street site in Sheerness, Kent, for an undisclosed sum. The deal, involving the former premises of an electrical suppliers, which closed in January 2012, is subject to planning and licensing permission being granted. Wetherspoon’s spokesman, Eddie Gershon, said an application would be made to Swale council “soon”.

Carluccio’s hits £1m charity mark: Carluccio’s has revealed it has now raised £1m for the humanitarian charity Action Against Hunger since it began supporting it in 2007. The organisation is committed to ending child hunger and runs life-saving programmes in more than 40 of the world’s poorest countries. To raise further awareness for Action Against Hunger’s work, table talkers have been placed in all of Carluccio’s 76 UK sites. As a result of Carluccio’s work with the charity, the chain’s chief executive, Simon Kossoff, has been able to visit projects in Liberia and Burkina Faso to see how the money raised is being spent. He said: “Throughout our trips we were struck by the contrast between the terrible situation faced by the people we met and their utter delight, welcome and hospitality for a small group of rather overwhelmed Carluccio’s representatives. I am very proud of the difference we have made since 2007. But whilst £1m is a big number, it is really just a place to start.”

Partners invest £1m in third pub: Richard Colcough and his three business partners have invested £1m in re-opening The Orange Tree, which overlooks the A34 in Trent Vale. Colcough, a former pharmacist, said: “It’s such an attractive building from the outside. I remember it being The Springfield Hotel and then it changed to The Orange Tree in 2003. It was popular back then.” Richard and old school friends Philip Sharp, David Myers and James Keates decided to go into the pub trade several years ago. They also own The Wayfarer, in Stone, and The Swan With Two Necks, at Blackbrook.

US craft brewers produce 150,000 pints with Everards: Two of America’s most respected craft brewers, Will Meyers of Massachusetts brewpub Cambridge Brewing Company and Peter Bouckaert from The New Belgium Brewing Company, Colorado, have been guest-brewing at Everards. They have produced over 150,000 pints of beer to be sold at JD Wetherspoon’s International Beer Festival, which runs nationwide at its pubs this autumn. Working closely with the Everards team, including head brewer Graham Giblett, Meyers and Bouckaert oversaw the production of their own-recipe Sgt Pepper Farmhouse Ale and New Belgium Pale Ale respectively. Both beers will be served at more than 800 UK Wetherspoon pubs during the autumn festival.

Tom Kerridge wins Chefs’ Chef of the Year award: Tom Kerridge, who runs the only pub in the UK to hold two Michelin stars, The Hand and Flowers in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, was presented with the Chefs’ Chef of the Year accolade at last night’s annual AA Hospitality Awards. Last night also saw the launch of his own six-part TV series, Tom Kerridge’s Proper Pub Food, on BBC Two.

Third Clink restaurant is unveiled: HMP Brixton and The Clink Charity have been granted planning permission to convert the old Governor’s house at the south London prison, used recently as administration offices within the grounds of the prison, into a three-story restaurant and meetings venue due to open in early 2014. The restaurant will follow The Clink’s Five Step Programme that has been successfully implemented at the award winning and successful Clink restaurant at HMP High Down in Surrey, educating prisoners and equipping them with the skills and tools to secure employment upon their release. Chris Moore, chief executive of The Clink Charity, believes Brixton will cement the future for further Clink restaurants. “Brixton was the perfect site for our next restaurant. HMP Brixton is undergoing a regeneration project and was looking for an organisation to work with to develop the building into an opportunity for rehabilitation. The central location lends itself to securing support from local businesses and members of the public, providing they are committed to The Clink’s vision and once the necessary security checks have been processed, providing real-life experience for those prisoners who make it through the selection process to join the programme.” In 2012 The Charity agreed a partnership with Her Majesty’s Prison Service (HMPS) who supports the charitable initiative in a bid to open a further seven Clink Restaurants over the next four years. The charity is solely reliant on the support of the industry, charitable trusts and philanthropic individuals to build future Clink restaurants and each training restaurant relies on the income from diners and donations to operate. Edmond Tullett, Governor of HMP Brixton, said: “Brixton is more than delighted to host the third Clink training restaurant in the Regency Roundhouse which dates back to 1819. The restaurant will provide an unforgettable experience for customers and an unrivalled opportunity for prisoners to acquire marketable skills that will lead to local jobs and provide a pathway to a better life.” In addition to the 100-seat restaurant, the building will also include rooms for business meetings and working lunches. Providing five rooms for companies to organise ‘phone free’ meetings, without interruption, will provide vital income for the charity to continue to operate the restaurant. AV equipment will be available for use and the meetings will operate the same way as any other commercial meeting venue in London, whilst providing additional experience to prisoners looking for employment upon their release. In 2012, The Clink Cymru and The Clink HMP High Down welcomed over 15,000 diners to their restaurants.

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