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Fri 1st Nov 2013 - Bramwell, Browns, Harry Ramsden's, Pizza Rossa

Story of the Day:

LT Pub Management hired to run Bramwell: Industry sources report that LT Pub Management, the sector’s leading out-sourced management company, has been appointed by administrator Zolfo Cooper to run the Bramwell Pub Company after it was placed in administration yesterday. Bramwell, which operates 185 leasehold pubs and was led by Roger Moxham, was placed in administration just over 13 months after it was formed out of the Barracuda Pub Company. A total of 18 sites were left behind when the new company was formed at the start of October 2012. But the administration is an indication that the number was not high enough, and the company ended up running too many sites with onerous lease terms. Around 25 sites will shut immediately and the agent Christie & Co will begin to market them, leaving around 160 sites to be run by LT Pub Management. The 160 remaining sites will stay open and trading during the administration process. Industry sources suggest Stonegate Pub Company is the most likely buyer of the company’s best venues, although it is thought this number may only be around the 80-site mark. If Stonegate completes the deal, it is likely the rest of the estate will be sold in small packages or individually. Peter Saville, a partner at Zolfo Cooper, said: "We will continue to trade the business while exploring all possible options for its future, including a sale of the business, and would like to thank the staff for their continued support and professionalism during this process. We would invite parties wishing to make an expression of interest in certain sites to contact Zolfo Cooper.”

Industry News:

Researchers call for 20% tax on soft drinks: Researchers have called for a 20% tax on soft drinks to cut the number of fat Briton’s by more than a quarter. The tax would raise £276m a year to help the NHS treat obesity-related illnesses, according to a report by the British Heart Foundation and others. But Tom Sanders, professor of nutrition at King’s College, London, said it was “very naïve” to think tax could so easily manipulate calorie intake.

UK beer sales rise 5.2% in Q3: UK beer sales rose by 5.2% in the third quarter of this year, the biggest quarter-on-quarter increase this century, according to the British Beer & Pub Association’s latest Beer Barometer, published today. The boost follows the fine summer weather, as well as optimism over the Chancellor’s popular Beer Tax cut in the March Budget, the BBPA says. While there was a fall in the on-trade of 1.2% over the same quarter last year, it is still the most favourable on-trade third quarter since 2003. In contrast, the off-trade enjoyed a major boost, with a 12.5% rise in sales, again, the best Q3 performance in a decade. The rise also means that Chancellor George Osborne collected £16m more in beer taxes (duty and VAT) in the past quarter despite the 2% cut in Beer Duty. The BBPA said it believes that the tax cut represents a big milestone for the industry, with renewed confidence boosting investment.

Starbucks boss resigns from board of Square: Starbucks chief executive Howard Schultz has resigned from the board of the privately owned mobile payments company Square after 15 months. Square, founded in 2009 by Twitter co-creator Jack Dorsey, said it had named David Viniar as a replacement. Viniar was most recently the chief financial officer of Goldman Sachs. "Howard's guidance has helped Square grow as a company and as a business. I have come to know Howard well, and I always appreciate his thoughtfulness and good counsel," Dorsey said. Schultz joined Square's board in August last year by investing $25m in a deal to use its technology to process debit and credit card payments at the coffee chain's stores.

Pelican appoints Bish and Cotton as non-executive directors: Pelican, the procurement and supply chain management specialist, has appointed the former chief executive of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR), Nick Bish, and British Hospitality Association boss Bob Cotton as non-executive directors. Shabaz Mohammed, managing director of Pelican, said: “We are extremely proud to welcome both Nick and Bob as non-executive directors to our business. Both bring with them a wealth of industry knowledge and expertise and their impartial guidance and strategic counsel will prove to be extremely valuable as we continue to expand our reach into the hospitality sector.”
European hotels M&A market most buoyant since 2007: The first three quarters of 2013 have recorded the highest level of European hotel sales since 2007, according to the European Transaction Bulletin from HVS London. Total sales for 2013 are expected to surpass the €7bn (£5.94bn) level recorded in 2011, helped by a high level of transactions earlier in the year including Constellation Hotels’ acquisition of four Group du Louvre properties in France, ADIA's purchase of 42 Marriott hotels in the UK, Starwood Capital's purchase of 22 Principal Hayley hotels in the UK and Fattal’s acquisition of 24 QMH hotels in Germany.

Company News:

Harry Ramsden’s signs franchisee for 50 Yorkshire openings: Harry Ramsden’s has granted franchise rights for Yorkshire to Vikesh and Dimple Patel, of JVP Ventures, who plan to open 50 sites in the region by 2018. They become the first franchisees signed by the company since its acquisition by Boparan Ventures in 2010, as part of an ambitious growth strategy. The opening will be a mix of full-service restaurants with takeaway facilities and the new "traditional locals", bringing Harry Ramsden’s back into the heart of towns, cities and suburbs across Yorkshire. The first opening is planned for 2014. Joe Teixeira, chief executive of Harry Ramsden’s, said: "It has always been a dearly held ambition to bring the Harry Ramsden’s name back to Yorkshire, so I am delighted that the first franchise to be awarded fulfills that desire. It also effectively represents further and deserved financial investment in Harry Ramsden’s, which was so sadly lacking in the past." Since taking over the helm in 2011, Teixeira has overseen a multi-million pound investment across the Harry Ramsden’s estate, including the recent £1m refurbishment of the Bournemouth property, which is now the largest fish and chip restaurant in the world. The new Yorkshire franchisees, Vikesh, 30, and Dimple, 27, both have backgrounds in corporate finance. However, for the past four years, the couple have been immersed in the hospitality industry, growing their Love Coffee chain of coffee shops to 34 outlets nationwide. Vikesh Patel said: “First and foremost, to be able to bring Harry’s name back to his roots is really exciting, especially since both Dimple and myself were born and brought up in Yorkshire. Working with an established and recognised brand is absolutely key to franchising success and, to my mind, Harry’s Ramsden’s is the most iconic brand this country has ever produced. Our confidence in the Harry Ramsden’s name is reflected in the fact that our initial investment is being financed personally. In the coming years, we will regularly plough our profits back into the business to achieve our ambition of having 50 new outlets opened within five years.”

Faucet Inn joins ALMR: Faucet Inn, the 20-strong operator of pubs across the South of England, has become the latest addition to the ALMR’s retailer membership. The company operates some of the best-known pubs in London including Old Shades on Whitehall and Comptons in Soho. A spokesman for the ALMR said: “The addition of Faucet Inn sees the ALMR’s membership continue to flourish as we add weight and credibility for the challenges ahead, moving towards an election in 2015. For the third year in succession, the ALMR has seen a 30% growth in retailer members, with 48% of new members in 2013 operating community local venues.” Stephen Cox, the managing director of Faucet Inn, said: “Each Faucet Inn venue is unique, but our attitude, to provide quality service remains constant throughout our entire estate. We’re confident that the ALMR is in the perfect position to protect us from restrictive legislation which limits our ability to invest, to grow and to create jobs.” The ALMR's chief executive, David McHattie, said: “The ALMR is delighted to welcome innovative and multi-faceted operators like Faucet Inn to its membership, strengthening the association’s ability to help government appreciate the massive contribution we make, and stave off unwelcome interventions."

Pizza Rossa receives very strong crowd-funding support: A new takeaway pizzeria chain, Pizza Rossa, which is looking to raise £280,000 for 26% of its equity through the crowd-funding website Crowdcube, has already achieved 77% of its target a fortnight after launching. A total of £216,090 has been invested so far. The concept, which was the winner of the London Business School Business Plan Competition 2013, want to become the UK’s leading premium pizza al taglio (pizza by-the-square-slice) brand in the UK. Corrado Accardi developed the business model after studying professional pizza-making at a leading pizza school in Italy.

All Our Bars adds Hall & Woodhouse site: All Our Bars, the 32-strong multiple headed by Paul Wigham, has added a Hall & Woodhouse site in Horsham, Sussex to its estate. Hall & Woodhouse tenant Andrew Crompton left the site a fortnight ago after blaming market saturation for the closure of his Crompton’s at The Olive Branch, which he ran for 21 months. He said at the time: “July was strong, August was solid and September was dire, and October wasn’t looking much better. The whole market’s so saturated and this is nature’s way of thinning it out. I took a risk and it didn’t come off. If I never had a go at it I would have regretted it. I gave it my best shot and it’s time to move on.”

Wetherspoon to open in Royston next week; confirms Broughty Ferry opening date: JD Wetherspoon will open a new £1.4m site in Royston, Hertfordshire next week. The company has converted the former Manor House Social Club, a Grade II listed building, in an investment that will create up to 50 jobs in the town. Meanwhile, Wetherspoon has confirmed it will open in Dundee next year, at the Jolly’s Hotel in Broughty Ferry, which has stood empty for more than two years. The development of Jolly’s Hotel is due to be complete by March, with the bar opening on March 11. Wetherspoon originally hoped to have work on the Gray Street pub finished in time for a January opening, but workers will only be able to begin work on November 11, almost a year after the company purchased the site. It is spending more than £1m upgrading the pub.

Browns launches winter menu: Browns Bar & Brasserie, the Mitchells & Butlers brand,  has launched its autumn and winter menu, with smaller plates of items on an extended lunchtime menu. Customers are also being offered two lunchtime courses for  £9. New additions include chicken, leek and bacon pie in a cream, white wine and mint sauce, and the Browns hot dog, a pork and cheese sausage, served with crispy onions, chilli jam and American-style mustard. The Browns evening menu now includes shoulder of lamb with bubble and squeak, spinach and honey roast carrots and parsnips, mint jelly and redcurrant jus, and calves' liver with buttered mash, crispy prosciutto, deep fried sage and red wine jus. A plat du jour menu, includes slow cooked ribs, Iberico black pig burger and lobster on Thursdays.

Eviction proceedings begin at M&B pub: Eviction proceedings have begun against a group of squatters  occupying a Mitchells & Butlers pub, The Bohemia in North Finchley, North London. The group has been issued a summons to appear at Barnet County Court on Monday, where the legal process of having them removed is set to begin. The administrators for the former pub, Chantrey Velacott, applied for the order despite on-going talks with the pub’s owner, M&B and the property agent Colliers. The Bohemia was closed suddenly in August when leaseholders Gregarious, which is backed by Downing and bought the site out of the administration of Antic Limited, failed to agree a renewal with Mitchells and Butlers.

Theft from safe helped push bar and nightclub operator into administration: An uninsured theft, essential renovation costs and poor returns from a new nightclub in Swindon triggered the collapse of an entertainment business with venues across Bristol and Cardiff, according to a report by the company's administrators. Carbris Leisure operated the Le Monde Restaurant, Soda Bar, Soda Lounge and Bunker Nightclub in Cardiff, as well as the Mbargo, Mbargo Lounge and Bunker Nightclub in Bristol. The newly published statement of administrator's proposals says that the company started trading in September 2012 and was generating a turnover of almost £100,000 per week by December. At this point, it first ran into trouble when the decision was made to launch a new nightclub in Swindon. Carbris spent £151,000 on refurbishment work, which it expected to recoup over time after calculating the club would produce profits of at least £5,000 a week. However, the premises failed to attract sufficient business to turn a profit and, in the ten weeks it traded, produced a net loss of £70,000 before being returned to the landlord. Soon after, the company suffered a theft of £40,000 from the safe at a venue in Bristol. The safe was insured but only to a maximum of £20,000. The insurers have agreed to make this payment but have not yet paid this across. "This matter seriously hampered the company's ability to trade," the report said.
Joseph Holt to open pub restaurant on Warrington retail development: Brewer and retailer Joseph Holt will open a new-build pub restaurant on an £8m retail development in Warrington. Cheshire developer CPG has bought the site of the former Fordton Leisure Centre, on the busy A49 Winwick Road, and has already started work on the 28,000 square foot “neighbourhood centre”. The development will include an Aldi supermarket and a drive-through Costa Coffee outlet.

James Sommerin opening delayed: The opening of a new restaurant in South Wales by high profile chef James Sommerin has been delayed until the new year. Sommerin, the former head chef of the Michelin-starred Crown at Whitebrook, which closed in March, had hoped to open his new restaurant this autumn. The opening of the new venue on the Esplanade in Penarth, Glamorgan, will now take place in January. Sommerin said: “There have been a few quite significant delays, which has been frustrating at times, but the biggest and most important thing for me is that the restaurant has got to be perfect.”

Frankie and Benny’s signs for Wiltshire site: The Restaurant Group has agreed a pre-let to open a Frankie & Benny's  in Wiltshire. The group will take a 4,020 foot site under a 25-year lease at St Stephens Place Leisure Park, Trowbridge after striking a deal with Legal & General Property on behalf of its UK Property Unit Trust. An Odeon cinema has just opened its doors while Nando's, Prezzo and Premier Inn are expected to launch in the park this month.
Independent cinema chain opens seventh site with cafe, bar and restaurant: The independent chain Curzon Cinema has opened its seventh site, in North Street, Ripon, with a restaurant, bar and cafe. Philip Knatchbull, chief executive of Curzon World, said: “Ripon is a beautiful cathedral city and Curzon Cinemas couldn’t be more pleased to be opening a new cinema for the local community. We will programme a variety of the best new film releases alongside a vibrant restaurant, cafe and bar that we hope will become a regular destination for a discerning audience.”

Growler takes over Greene King pub for second site: Growler Brewery, based in Pentlow, Essex has re-opened a Greene King pub in Sudbury, the Waggon and Horses, that has been closed since January, after a major refurbishment. The pub’s restaurant has been extended, the floors levelled to allow wheelchair-friendly access and a glass viewing panel installed over the cellar. A spokesman said: “We think the changes will appeal to more discerning customers and, being a Growler pub, there will be some fantastic cask ales. The majority of the food will be homemade, with meals being made from scratch.” Growler also operates the Hare and Hounds in Braintree.

Admiral offers social media courses for licensees: Admiral Taverns is unveiling a sector-leading face-to-face social media course exclusively for its licensees, aimed at helping them engage with customers and drive people into their pubs. Admiral Taverns, the Pub Company of the Year, expects to put 150 of its licensees – almost 20% – through the course over the next 12 months. The course is designed to help both beginners and more experienced users of social media set up, plan and implement social media tools and campaigns to drive sales. Suzanne Smith, head of licensee recruitment and training at Admiral, said it was important for the company to be at the forefront of tailored social media training for its licensees. Smith said the workshops, which have just launched, have been well received by licensees across the country and, most importantly, were providing immediate benefits in terms of driving footfall in the pubs. “We’re very excited to be making this level of support available to our pubs and are delighted that so many licensees are embracing social media as a ‘must do’ tool for their business. It is important for our licensees to utilise platforms such as Facebook and Twitter in a positive way to communicate with their customers and local community," she said.

Community seeks £480,000 to buy Enterprise pub: Campaigners have appealed for support in their attempt to buy a £480,000 pub which have been a part of the community for the past 161 years. The Antwerp Arms Association is trying to buy the Antwerp Arms pub, in Church Road, Tottenham, North London, which has stood on the site since 1852. Earlier this month Haringey Council approved an application to have the pub declared an asset of community value after Enterprise Inns tried to sell the building in June. The pub is on the market with AG&G.

McDonald’s to partner Kraft in the US to launch McCafe packaged coffee: McDonald’s is to partner Kraft Foods Group to sell McCafe packaged coffee in test markets in US grocery stores. The company will sell packaged coffee in bags and single-serving cups in grocery stores and retail outlets next year. The company said: “McDonald’s is committed to serving delicious, high-quality coffee that our customers can feel good about, at a value. We are building on the momentum of our McCafé beverages in our restaurants by expanding these options as we increasingly strive to become our customers’ favourite cup of coffee.”

Bradford buffet restaurant closes: A well-known buffet restaurant in Bradford city centre has closed suddenly. Buffet @ Bradford operates out of the Hilton hotel on Hall Ings, but is run independently by PG Catering, based in Leeds. It is understood that Hilton Worldwide have terminated the lease for non-payment of rent over a period of more than a year, with locks being changed to deny access to the premises.

Marston’s to open Crawley new-build on 11 November: Marston’s will open a new-build pub restaurant, The Coaching Holt, in Maidenbower Business Park, off Balcombe Road, Crawley on 11 November. Steve Arnold, the pub’s general manager, said: “This is going to be a family-orientated pub with a focus on sit-down eating. There will be a Milestone Rotisserie oven on view to customers as soon as they enter the pub. They will be able to see the chickens turning and this adds to the visual experience. We have also got a state-of-the-art kitchen serving an extensive menu of pub favourites from Sunday roasts and steaks to grills and fish.” The pub will also serve four ales, which will always feature two guest ales.

Tom Aikens to open at St Katharine Docks: Tom’s Kitchen, the restaurant brand created by chef Tom Aikens, is to open its latest operation at St Katharine Docks, by Tower Bridge in London, after the agent Davis Coffer Lyons completed the letting on behalf of Max Property. The letting is part of Max Property’s plan to create a food and drink-led leisure destination at central London’s only marina and the buildings surrounding it. The company is investing more than £30m on the makeover, which is managed by Prestbury Investments, to provide more weekend and evening trade for both Londoners and visitors alike as well as a far more attractive environment for St Katharine Docks’ workforce and residents. Aikens opened his third Tom’s Kitchen site in Canary Wharf, East London earlier this summer. Josh Leon, associate director at DCL, said: “Having successfully secured Cote earlier this year, we are delighted to have also added Tom’s Kitchen to the line up at St Katharine Docks. The letting involved obtaining a new A3 consent and set a new headline rent for the area. We are now in discussions with some of London’s most highly-regarded operators and brands that are interested in taking space at the development.”

Anglian to invest £1.3m in 'second' Hermitage: Anglian Country Inns, the award-winning operator of gastro-pubs and restaurants led by James Nye, is to invest around £1.3m in its second stand-alone restaurant site after the runaway success of its Hermitage Road venue, which opened in Hitchin, Hertfordshire, in November 2011. The site is the company’s busiest food and beverage venue, with annual turnover of around £2m, and is currently enjoying almost 20% like-for-like sales growth. It won a Bib Gourmand within eight months of opening and retained it this year. Anglian has now bought the freehold of the Waterlounge bar and restaurant in Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire, a former brewery building with a characterful beamed ceilings and a vaulted cellar, for around £1m. The company plans to close it for about five months to undertake a £300,000 refurbishment before re-opening it in early spring as the Water Lane Bar and Restaurant. Nye told Propel: “Bishop’s Stortford is a town we were targeting – it’s got great potential.” The Water Lane Bar and Restaurant will have a 100-cover restaurant and a downstairs cellar bar serving cocktails and craft beer. The food offer will replicate the Hermitage Road menu with the possible addition of pizza. The freehold was purchased through a combination of internal cash flow and strong support from Barclays. Nye said: “It’s has been a very enjoyable experience working closely with Barclays. Their support over the last two years has been central to the organic growth of the company. The 2% cash back initiative under their ‘Cashback for Business’ which Barclays made available through the Funding for Lending scheme, really helped to sweeten the deal.” Jeremy Cook, relationship director, at Barclays Luton and Hertfordshire, said: "The purchase of the new site in Bishop’s Stortford fits well with the directors’ long term strategy of creating a portfolio of quality bars and restaurants with original features that quickly become popular with the public." Earlier this month, Propel reported that Anglian saw turnover and profit up in the year to 31 March. Turnover rose by 22% to £6.04m, driven by a “strong first full-year performance” at Hermitage Road. Pre-tax profit rose to £244,600 from £92,000 the year before. Ebitda for the most recent year was around £650,000. Executive chef Harry Kodagoda joined the board in February this year. The company said: “Operating margins have been maintained at the same levels as 2012 despite the continuing economic pressures, perhaps reflecting that the group’s target market is more resilient to the difficult economic times.” Its accounts show that its iconic White Horse in Brancaster Staithe, Norfolk was valued at £3m by Colliers International in March 2011. Earlier this month, the Good Hotel Guide awarded the White Horse a Cesar, given to the guide’s choice of the ten best hotels of the year, countrywide.

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