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Mon 30th Sep 2013 - Cabana, Costa, Home House, M&B, Shepherd Neame

Story of the Day:

Ex-Leon pair launch pub venture inspired by 1830s beer houses: Benny Peverelli and Richard Holmes, formerly executive chef and head of operations respectively at Leon, are opening a pub in Cambridge called Pint Shop that they say is inspired by beer houses from the reign of William IV. Peverelli told the Cambridge Evening News: “The inspiration for Pint Shop came from the beer houses of the 1830s. The original beer houses, or Tom and Jerry shops, as they became known, are viewed by many as the birthplace of today’s pub. We want to take the spirit of those original beer houses, namely craft beer, intimacy and fun, and throw in some killer food, cooked on fire, just as it was in 1830.” Pint Shop, which is due to open in November in a three-storey former office building at 10 Peas Hill near the Market Square, will have a 70-seat bar, two separate dining rooms and a garden. There will be up to ten keg and six cask craft beers on tap, 45 gins, 20 whiskies and a wine list from "small-estate European growers". The menu in the dining rooms will change weekly and feature "simple British dishes" based on charcoal spit-roasting, charcoal grilling and slow braises. Holmes said: “We started Pint Shop because we wanted to create a place that embraced eating and drinking equally; a place where you feel equally at home having a few beers, a light lunch or a full-blown feast; a place where people from all walks of life, rub shoulders with each other.” Holmes and Peverelli left Leon in 2011, and later set up a consultancy together. The Pint Shop site is opposite Jamie’s Italian and next to recently opened outlets for CAU and Zizzi. It is said to be the first new pub in Cambridge since the former Regal cinema was converted into the Regal pub in 1999.
 

Industry News:

Sales up for those taking part in Tax Parity Day: Sales at JD Wetherspoon’s pubs rose by 20% last Wednesday thanks to the group’s role in spearheading an anti-VAT campaign. Tax Parity Day saw about 15,000 outlets owned by a number of companies cut their prices by 7.5 per cent to show the effect of a halving of VAT in pubs and restaurants. JD Wetherspoon’s chairman, Tim Martin, said: "There’s been a huge amount of support from customers and staff and people are really beginning to understand what we’re calling for, particularly in the North and the Midlands where people see so many closed pubs. It was really encouraging how many other pub companies are now coming out in support." Simon Emeny, chief executive of the London brewer and pub owner Fuller Smith and Turner, said: "We were delighted to see a significant uplift in the number of customers using our pubs." Amber Taverns said sales increased between 10 per cent and 23 per cent on the day.
 
Bargain Booze launches craft beer: Bargain Booze has partnered with Thwaites to launch three craft ales which had only been available on draught in Thwaites’s pubs so far. Triple C, 13 Guns and Big Ben are in Thwaites’s Crafty Dan range and will be available to take home in 33cl bottles for £1.50 for the first time. Senior beer and cider buyer Matt Cain said: “The appetite for craft beers in the UK is growing. This is largely being led by a new generation of consumers who are seeking more flavour from their beers and are keen to try new and individual products. We have had a long-standing aim of giving our customers the opportunity to buy craft ales to enjoy at home, and are thrilled to be bringing the Crafty Dan range to the high street.”
 
New York hotel seizes on customisation and local trends: The New York Hilton Midtown hotel has opened a new five-part concept called Herb ’N’ Kitchen offering a range of dining options, from ordering fresh food prepared in-house to buying snacks from small local businesses to take with them on the go. The restaurant is divided into five "zones," each specialising in a different area of the dining experience: Arrival, Barista, Oven, Buffet, and Dining Room. Beth Scott, vice-president of global product development and food and beverage at Hilton Worldwide, said: "With casual dining on the rise, our guests can enjoy quick, healthy, and gourmet food options at value-driven prices. Herb ’N’ Kitchen provides a fresh, approachable and gourmet concept that engages guests by offering five integrated zones for the ultimate in customisation."
 
Police call for licence review at Midlands nightclub offering 1p drinks: Police haves called for the revocation of the licence at a Sutton Coldfield nightclub offering drinks on Thursday for 1p each. The nightclub has been advertising the 1p-a-drink "Skint Thursday" events at the club since it took over the venue in April and has boasted on social media that it has been “full to capacity”. Police  say the results  are "large fights", including some involving bouncers, and blamed the rise in violence on a "cocktail of drugs and alcohol". Customers pay £10 to get in and then a penny for bottled beers, gin, vodka, brandy, Bacardi, or whisky with mixers and bottles of fortified flavoured vodka drinks. The licence is held by Synergy Leisure Entertainment.

Restaurant openings go macro or micro:
The London Evenings Standard has argued that restaurant openings are polarising – with either micro or macro openings. The newspaper said in an article: “Culinary London seems to be bored of normal-sized places and is playing around at the extremes: massive, barrack canteen-style restaurants and super-intimate tiny ones that feel like eating in the chef’s front room.” Berners Tavern, Jason Atherton’s latest venture just north of Oxford Street, offers 140 cover while Chotto Matte, an opening by Kurt Zdesar, the man who opened the first European Nobu, provides 240 covers. Richard Caring’s forthcoming Soho joint Jackson & Rye, opening in December on Wardour Street with 160 covers and 10 in the bar, is another large restaurant on the way. Meanwhile, Marianne, the Chepstow Road, Notting Hill restaurant of 2009 Masterchef runner-up Marianne Lumb, has just 14 covers while on Hoxton Square in East London the Lunch Club can only seat 10.

Research finds companies with more female mangers perform better: Research by Sodexho has found that companies with a significant number of female managers perform better than those dominated by men. Companies where women make up a third of board members significantly outperformed their rivals, with shareholder returns on average 53% higher and profit margins 42% better. On Friday, Rufus Hall, chief executive of Orchid, which is outperforming the Coffer Peach Tracker with 3% like-for-like sales growth in the first seven months of 2012, reported that 58% of its managers are women and four of its area managers are female, placing the company “way ahead of the pub company average”.

Statistics show more people visiting pubs and restaurants: Figures released by the Office for National Statistics shows that the proportion of people visiting pubs is increasing despite the decline in alcohol consumption. In 2012/13, 50.4% of adults visited pubs, bars or clubs in their spare time, up from 47.4% in the last edition of the "Taking Part" survey. Visits to restaurants have also increased, with 73.2% of people eating out, up from 67.4%.
 

Company News:

Alistair Darby – we don’t think M&B is alone in suffering a September drop-off: Mitchells & Butlers chief executive Alistair Darby has forecast that other companies may well have witnessed the sharp downturn in trade the company has seen in September. He told City analysts: “What has happened is that there’s been a noticeable drop-off in trade in the last three weeks of the period, namely the beginning of September, and we’ve seen some evidence from some of the data we’ve got that we are not alone. It’s worth saying that that slowdown in September is across all of our brands, so it’s not specific to any particular brands. And we know from the weekly Peach tracker numbers that we get, that aren’t detailed externally, but we know that we’re not alone in terms of some of that downturn in September specifically. It’s also worth saying that we are, of course, the first company to report on trading in September after the August bank holiday, so it’s going to be interesting to see what others have to say in due course. And it may be that what is happening is that after a pretty good summer consumers have spent perhaps quite a lot on credit, and what they're looking to do at the moment is just rebuild their personal finances for a short while. None of this changes our strategy of focusing on a balanced approach to like-for-like growth. We are maintaining investment in service and managing our margins, and the margin story is a success for us in the second half.”
 
Harvester to launch new menu on Wednesday with more Nando touches: Mitchells & Butlers’ Harvester brand will launch a new menu this Wednesday (2 October). New dishes include piri piri and fajita chicken combo, and a full rack of smoked ribs (ribs kiln-smoked in Cornwall over beech wood chips). In the gourmet burger section, there is a new bacon, pineapple and barbeque sauce burger and chilli chutney and Emmental cheese burger. New sauces include a hot piri piri sauce to go with chicken dishes and a dandelion and burdock sauce choice with ribs dishes.
 
Olympic Studios to re-open as restaurant, cafe and private members club complex: Olympic Studios, the recording studios in Barnes, South West London that in its day played host to such musical legends as Jimi Hendrix, the Rolling Stones, Madonna, U2 and Led Zeppelin, will open its doors on 14 October, in its new guise as a cinema, private members’ club, café and dining room. Olympic Café & Dining Room will be overseen by Jon Laycock, formerly of Soho House Group, with Swedish-born Andreas Engberg (ex-Racine, The Arts Club and Garnier) as head chef. It will open seven days a week, for breakfast, lunch and dinner, offering a predominantly seasonal British menu with European influences.
 
Jamie Rollo – Mitchells & Butlers underperformed the market: Morgan Stanley leisure analyst Jamie Rollo has argued that Mitchells & Butlers may have underperformed the market in its most recent quarter. He said: “These results were well below the 2.5% increase that Coffer Peach reported for pub like-for-likes in August, suggesting M&B may have underperformed the market, although it said on the analysts call that Coffer Peach was negative in the first three weeks of September. We note that whilst hot weather is good for wet-led pubs, it can be a negative for pub restaurants. Coffer Peach reported pub food sales grew four times more than drink sales in August, and Mitchells & Butlers reported a smaller like-for-like decline in food sales (down 0.1%) in the last nine weeks than in drink sales (down 2.0%). This compares to a rise in food of 0.2% and in drink of 2.7% in the previous 14 weeks.”
 
No Saints re-opens Wolverhampton Oceana as Faces: No Saints, the nightclub company headed by industry veteran Stephen Thomas, has re-opened the former Oceana nightclub in Wolverhampton as Faces after a £750,000 refurbishment. The venue has been closed for about a year and the re-opening has created 90 jobs. Faces was launched with a new student night called Dirty Antics. Earlier this year, Thomas told Propel: “This is one of the sites that Luminar would have preferred to keep. The current landlord approached us and said, 'We’ll make a contribution [to re-opening it].'”

Heston Blumenthal plans to take Dinner abroad: Chef Heston Blumenthal is planning to open branches of Dinner in India, Australia and the Americas. Menus would reflect dishes eaten by British expatriates at the time of the empire. He told The Sunday Times: “Like it or not, Britain pillaged the world in the past and had its tentacles in so many other cultures. With respect to the relevant countries, you could reflect that. You could have a couple of dishes on there that had some historical connection. Just from  a culinary point-of-view, it would be quite interesting.”

Cabana acquires Islington site: Sweet Potato, the owner of the Cabana Brasilian Barbecue and Hush Brasserie chains, has acquired a fifth site for Cabana, on Upper Street, Islington, North London. The news comes just a short while after it acquired its fourth site, at the Designer Outlet, Wembley, North London, and raised £3.5m of new funding. Jamie Barber, the man behind Sweet Potato, confirmed to Propel on Saturday that contracts had been exchanged on an Upper Street site. Cabana launched in 2011 with a restaurant at the Central St Giles development in the West End of London, which was followed by two more outlets at the Westfield shopping centres in Stratford and Shepherd's Bush, London. At Sweet Potato, Lizzy Barber, Jamie's sister, said further details of the new site would be revealed this week.
 
East Midlands' top chef looking for second outlet: Sat Bains, the only chef in the East Midlands with two Michelin stars, is planning a second outlet in Nottingham, already home to his Restaurant Sat Bains. He told the Nottingham Post: “I’m looking for a site in the Lace Market. It’s going to be something chilled-out, really accessible, like modern British tapas. I’m looking at the new year hopefully, or spring, but we don’t know – nothing is signed." Bains said his new venture would have a menu that was "more affordable" than his current restaurant, so that a bigger audience could enjoy his cooking. Restaurant Sat Bains won its first star in 2003, then two in 2011.

San Carlo to take over eateries in Manchester Selfridges:
San Carlo, the Manchester-based family-run restaurant company is to take over two venues formerly run by the French restaurant Aubaine in Selfridge's Exchange Square store in Manchester. San Carlo Group currently runs 11 restaurants in the UK, including their two Manchester flagships, the original San Carlo and Cicchetti, and outlets in Leeds, Liverpool and London. The first of the Selfridges outlets, to be called San Carlo Bottega, a restaurant, champagne and cocktail bar will open at the end of October on the second floor of the store. Like the Cicchetti restaurants in Manchester and London, it will serve small plate dishes, this time influenced by Italy and Southern France. The second new format, opening in November on the store's lower ground floor, will be a patisserie, ice cream parlour and cafe called Pharmacia Del Dolce, with freshly baked cakes, pastries and a range of luxury gelati to eat in or take away.

Home House set to open second site:
Private member’ club Home House, based in Portman Square, central London, is set to open a second site in Clerkenwell, North London. The group of private investors who own Home House are tipped to take over the Old Sessions House on Clerkenwell Green. A source told the London Evening Standard: “Bosses have always been keen to expand but it was always a case of trying to find a building suitable to match the current club.”

Malvern Inns chief becomes Beer Academy development director: Alastair Scott, the former Mitchells & Butlers executive who runs Malvern Inns, has become the Beer Academy’s development director, with a target to spearhead the next phase of growth. Scott said: “My interest in beer and pubs was first sparked when I became a bar manager at university. This spurred me to join Bass when I graduated and I have worked in the sector ever since. The most important thing that I have learned in my career is that people are pivotal to commercial success. Their knowledge and passion is vital to inspiring customers. No one can succeed in the wine industry without a formal wine qualification. The same must be true for beer if we are going to succeed in changing public perceptions of the category.”

Pho reports turnover up
: Pho, the eight-strong Vietnamese restaurant group led by Stephen and Juliette Wall, has reported turnover up 26% to £8.2m in the year to 24 February 2013. Pre-tax profit fell from £585,300 to £513,000. Like-for-like sales were up 5% during the period. The company will open a site in Trinity Leeds next month and is due to open another in Birmingham’s Grand Central shopping centre next year. Pho, chaired by the former chief executive of Wagamama, Steve Hill, plans to grow to 25 sites in the next four years.

JD Wetherspoon confirms January opening in Wells, Somerset:
JD Wetherspoon will open a new pub in Wells, Somerset on 21 January 2014. It will convert the Wells Emporium shop to a pub called the Quarter Jack at a cost of £1.4m. Previously, Wetherspoon had plans to move to Shepton Mallet’s old Academy and Amulet Theatre, but pulled out after being granted permission for the Wells location. The company was initially refused planning permission for the Wells site on Priory Road, revised its plans and got subsequent permission.
 
Bed and Bars introduces “street team” scheme: Beds and Bars, the Pan-European hostel provider headed by Keith Knowles, has introduced a staff incentive scheme called "street team". Any member of staff who encourages friends, family and guests to book their next stay at any of the company’s hostels across Europe gets paid a percentage commission of the booking.
 
Hi-Spirits to distribute King of Soho gin: Hi-Spirits has agreed a distribution partnership with King of Soho London Dry Gin, one of the highest profile spirits launches of 2013.The agreement will see Hi-Spirits distribute King of Soho to bars and specialist drinks retailers, with the initial focus on the London market. King of Soho London Dry Gin is a 42% ABV premium gin, distilled in London in two small stainless steel pot stills. The King of Soho brand has been created by West End Drinks, owned by entrepreneur Howard Raymond, and named after his father, the Soho businessman Paul Raymond. The spirit is crafted with 12 botanicals. Alongside the juniper berries, which give the gin its distinctive flavour, King of Soho has a high presence of citrus ingredients, including grapefruit peel, balanced by flavours such as coriander seeds, angelica root and cassia. Raymond said: “My father’s favourite tipple in the 1960s was gin, a drink reminiscent of the parties and clubs of that era. London is now driving an international renaissance of gin and, fittingly, The King of Soho Gin is distilled in the heart of London.” Dan Bolton, managing director of Hi-Spirits, said: “We’re delighted to add King of Soho London Dry Gin to the portfolio of premium drinks we distribute. Consumer interest in authentic gin and gin cocktails is booming.”
 
Costa Coffee and Rainforest Alliance launch online teaching resource:  Costa Coffee and the Rainforest Alliance have launched an online tool to support teachers and help students understand more about communities and economies in coffee-growing countries. Designed for 11 to 14-year-old geography students across the UK, Costa for Schools is a free resource to help students learn more about the coffee trade. Andy Marshall, Costa's corporate responsibility director, said: "Costa baristas across the country are often asked by teachers to talk to students about the origins of our beans, so we thought it was time to put a nationwide resource in place so that all teachers can access the same insight from Costa." Costa for Schools has been written for UK teachers and is specifically designed in line with current UK secondary curricula. The programme also provides teachers with usable lesson plans and curriculum guidance usable across secondary geography teaching. Tensie Whelan, president of the Rainforest Alliance, said: "The coffee trade is something everyone should know about as part of a wider awareness of the impact our lifestyles have on the cultures and environments of others."

Steamin Billy Brewery pub opens theatre: A theatre has opened above one of the Steamin Billy Brewery’s seven pubs, The Western in Leicester, the city’s first pub theatre, which has been called Upstairs at the Western. Steamin Billy Brewery has created a pale, golden bitter with a hoppy aftertaste, named Off the Fence, in recognition of the theatre company that organised the transformation of an upstairs space  at the pub. Renovations were also assisted by a successful crowd-funding campaign that raised more than £1,500 towards new seating.
 
Shepherd Neame picks up Soho site: Shepherd Neame has acquired the lease of The George public house, in D’Arblay Street, Soho, central London, which the Kent brewer will operate as part of its 46-strong managed estate. The pub has been closed for many months and Shepherd Neame plans to immediately refurbish the four-storey property which it hopes to open in time for Christmas. The George, on the corner of Wardour Street, is a short walk from Oxford Circus and Tottenham Court Road Underground stations. The company already operates a number of pubs in central London including, the Westminster Arms, Westminster; the Freemason’s Arms, Covent Garden; the Duke of Wellington in Belgravia; and the Jamaica Wine House and Old Doctor Butler’s Head in the City.?

Itsu reports 22% turnover growth but reduced margins: Itsu, the healthy eating chain set up by Pret A Manger founder Julian Metcalfe and led by Gavin Loughran, has filed accounts at Companies House showing turnover rose 22% to £45.25m in the year to 3 January 2013. The turnover growth was underpinned by what the company called "impressive like-for-like maturing store sales growth of 8.3%”. An additional eight sites were opened in the year to bring the estate to 40 units. The company said: “Itsu’s margins were impacted by a decision to invest in menu improvements and by the costs of a number of new openings in the final quarter of the year." Ebitda fell 9.6 per cent in the period to £3.26m from 2012's £3.6m). The company has net debt of £7.37m, up from £4.66m in 2012. Itsu said it planned to open eight new sites this year and to develop the brand through food development, distinctive communication and staff training. It said: “While the overall market is not forecast to grow significantly in 2013, the company is well-placed to continue increasing its revenues by virtue of its growing brand strength and consumer appetite for fast healthy food.” Pre-tax profit was £96,000, down from £960,000 the year before. On Friday, Itsu opened its first site outside London, a £1m investment in Oxford. Last week, founder Julian Metcalfe told the Sunday Telegraph: “For our shop in Oxford we have paid £400,000 in rent. Can you imagine how much food at £3.79 we have got to sell? That’s where the challenge lies. If you can do that, you have the whole world at your fingertips. You can open an unlimited amount. I think it is fascinating that a UK company has possibly cracked this affordable fast food.” Itsu could grow to be a bigger business than Pret A Manger. Metcalfe told the newspaper: “We are now nearly at a wonderful point where some of our shops last week did nearly 40% hot food. That has taken nearly five years of relentless work every day. There is no point trying to build a fast food business on sushi; it’s lovely but it’s not everybody’s cup of tea.” Itsu was developed to challenge the fast food dominance of McDonald’s, Burger King and KFC. Metcalfe said the company had enough cash for 30 more openings and then would look for an investor. Any investor “would make a huge amount of money”, Metcalfe added. The accounts show Gavin Loughran was paid £448,385 in consultancy fees through his company Carebrook. Julian Metcalfe was paid cash payments of £120,000, consultancy fees of £144,000 and expenses of £53,491. The company made cash payments of £240,000 to director Clive Schlee and owes him £802,378. After the year-end, in February this year, Itsu entered into a new loan agreement for a total of £13.4m with HSBC to repay existing loan facilities, towards future capital expenditure and general working capital purposes. The loan is repayable in 2018.


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