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Wed 6th Nov 2013 - Bramwell, Bull's Head, Burningnight, Patisserie Valerie, Starbucks

Story of the Day:

Burningnight Group seeks funding to expand – from the right partner: Burningnight Group, the operator of the three-strong Bierkeller multi-bar complex, is looking for funding to expand but wants to find the right “like-minded” funding partner. The company opened its third site, a 19,000 square foot unit at the Printworks in Manchester in August, after a £1.6m investment. It is forecasting full-year turnover of £19m in 2014 and Ebitda of £2.5m – the company’s Liverpool site alone takes £7m a year and is thought to be the busiest bar in the north of England. It turns over as much as £60,000 on a Saturday alone. Managing director Alex Hazzard said the company had already fielded several approaches from funders. He told Propel: “Our overall goal is to grow the brands even further, with several key cities across the UK already earmarked for both our multi-brand entertainment complexes with all three concepts – and stand-alone sports and world beer bars in the form of our ‘Shooters Sports Bar’ and ‘Around the World in 80 Beers’ brands. It’s also possible to have at least one of these bar brands in nearly every major city. But the larger complexes we have put together really need to be kept within the larger cities with robust drinking circuits that can support such a high volume operation that typically needs to be a 20,000 sq ft area. These are also complete entertainment centres, with live music, world foods, sport and drinking all under one roof in a multi-brand experience.” The Bierkeller multi-bar complex brand was launched in 2010 in Leeds. Co-founder Allan Harper said: “The key is getting the funding right and with the right partner – someone who can bring the right kind of additional experience to the company.” Burningnight Group’s business plan shows the company expansion to turnover of £48m in 2016, with Ebitda of £8,044,852.

Industry News:

Restaurant brands colonising independents’ territory: Restaurant operators looking to develop new eating out brands are beginning to colonise areas of the foodservice sector previously dominated by independents. Horizons’ latest Ones To Watch report, which tracks emergent new eating out brands, shows that Thai, Chinese, Mexican, Caribbean and Mediterranean restaurants are among the fastest-growing areas of the branded eating-out sector, alongside American dining, healthy eating outlets, coffee shops and sandwich bars. “Fledgling brands serving Thai, Caribbean and Mediterranean cuisine, traditionally the domain of the independents, are taking their cues from successful street food vendors. They are offering freshly cooked, authentic cuisines in an affordable, casual dining setting. If they have the financial controls in place and find suitable sites they are on target for a successful rollout and could be our high street brands of the future,” said Horizons’ director of services, Nicola Knight, author of Ones To Watch. 

Horizons – record number of new concepts to watch in the UK market: Foodservice insights firm Horizons’ latest Ones To Watch report includes a record number of new concepts, with 105 “Ones To Watch” brands, and 88 “Bubbling Under” brands, the latter identified as those yet to reach five outlets. Horizons’ director of services, Nicola Knight, said: “Successful operators are building brands of the future based on high levels of customer service, value for money and freshly cooked food. Today’s consumer prefers a casual dining setting with good quality food, often with dishes that can be ordered with friends and shared. Horizons’ own consumer research has shown that diners like the option of trying something new and their increasing knowledge of world cuisines mean they are seeking authentic dishes when they eat out.”

First new pub this millennium opens in Cambridge city centre: The Pint Shop has become the first new pub to open in Cambridge City Centre this millennium. It is the brainchild of Richard Holmes and Benny Peverelli. The inspiration for Pint Shop came from the beer houses of the 1830s, with a focus on ‘craft beer (16 of them), intimacy, food and fun’. Pint Shop has a 70-seat bar, two separate dining rooms and a garden for the warmer months. The menu in the dining rooms will change weekly and feature simple British dishes cooked around three historic principles; charcoal spit-roasting, charcoal grilling and slow braises.

Luke Johnson – resilience more important than brilliance in an entrepreneur: Sector investor Luke Johnson has argued that the key character trait for entrepreneurs is grit. In his Financial Times column, he wrote: “The buck stops with an owner in a way that it never does with a hired hand. And that is why resilience in an entrepreneur is more important than brilliance – grit trumps almost every other trait. The best cures for stress are not modern pharmaceutical prescriptions but the ancient answers: love, laughter, family, exercise, rest and simple joys such as music and friendship. To me, doing nothing is not the best solution: instead the right response is stimulating mental and physical exertion that contrasts with the day job but still requires intellectual effort.”

Charlie Trotter dies, aged 54: Charlie Trotter, whose eponymous Chicago restaurant was considered one of the finest in the world, has died at the age of 54. He was named the country’s ‘Outstanding Chef’ by James Beard Foundation in 1999. He created the Charlie Trotter Education Foundation to provide scholarships for culinary students and received the James Beard Foundation’s Humanitarian of the Year award in 2012.

Orderella app launches this evening: Orderella, the app that allows remoter ordering and payment, launches officially this evening at Fuller Smith & Turner’s Parcel Yard site in King’s Cross, North London. A spokesman said: “The way we have ordered at pubs has remained the same for 1,000 years, but queuing at the bar will now become a thing of the past with the launch of Orderella, which is a simple and quick mobile app that allows you to order drinks and food with your smartphone. Both food and drink bills are also paid for through the phone, so there is no need to ask for the bill at the end of your meal, meaning that time-poor Brits can spend more time socialising and less time waiting.”

Dublin bar causes social media storm by charging €7.15 for a pint of lager: The Oliver St John Gogarty’s, a pub in Dublin’s Temple Bar, has prompted a social media storm of comment after a customer bought a pint of Coors and a pint of Carlsberg for €7.15 (£6) each – and posted his receipt online. The sale, which was made 40 minutes after midnight, came to a total of €14.30 for the two drinks. A spokesman for the pub said it rarely receive complaints about the bar’s alcohol prices. The bar said its prices were competitive in the local area of Temple Bar and named another pub nearby that has the same prices. A pint of lager at the bar is priced at €6.60 but is increased to €7.15 at 11pm. A pint of Guinness is priced at €5.70 during the day but is increased by 50 cents at the same time. Spirits generally cost about €6, depending on the type of spirit, and also increases in price at 11pm.

US consumers plan to cut restaurant spend in 2014 for health reasons: US consumers say they plan to eat out less often in 2014, because of concerns about health. Financial concerns have dropped to second place as an issue likely to dampen restaurant visit frequency, according to an industry survey conducted by the consulting firm AlixPartners. When they do dine out, consumers say they also plan to spend less, in part because they are still looking for meal deals and promotions.

Company News:

Bull’s Head Repton serving staff earn £15/hr after buy-out of tips: The Bull’s Head, Repton, the pub run by Richard and Loren Pope that is regarded as one of the UK’s best single site operations, has reported that its serving staff are earning around £15 an hour. The Popes decided to raise the wage of all non-serving staff so tips could be kept by the staff serving tables, who are called hosts. Pope told Propel: “It has changed behaviour – serving staff are now more likely to want to work the more demanding shifts and want to work more hours. You can earn more money as a host than as an assistant manager. We’ve now started using this financial hook as a recruitment tool to attract the best warm and friendly sales people we can find.” Hosts also choose how much of their tips they shares with immediate support staff, who are called runners. “The host position is the aspirational job front-of-house for those staff who are not climbing the management ladder,” Richard said. Last month, Propel reported that the Popes, who are often cited as the UK’s best single site licensees, have taken an assignment on the Joiners Arms in Quarndon, Derbyshire, an Enterprise Inns site, for their long-awaited second pub. Since they reopened the pub, the Popes have taken the Bull’s Head to £3m turnover a year. Elements of their retail offer have been “borrowed” by many other operators – Marston’s has installed the Popes’ pizza offer in a number of its Revere premium pubs.

Whole Food Markets plans Spring 2014 opening in Fulham: Organic chain Whole Foods Market is set to open on Fulham Broadway in spring 2014. The opening has been in the offing for several years. The building has been shrouded in scaffolding for many months since its former occupant, landmark restaurant The Blue Elephant moved to Imperial Wharf. The move was first announced in May 2011 when the company confirmed a new 23,000 square foot site was planned to launch in Autumn 2013, creating 150 full and part time local jobs. The launch has now been confirmed for next Spring. Whole Foods Market founder John Mackey has stated that it would target sites as small as 15,000 square foot – its Kensington site, one of eight currently in the UK, is 80,000 square foot. Mackey added: “We are not leaving the UK. We are going to invest, but we can’t open the 40,000 square foot stores that have been so successful in the US.” In July 2012, the company reported a £4.4m loss in the UK.

Zolfo Cooper closes another six Bramwell sites: Bramwell Pub Company administrator Zolfo Cooper, which placed Bramwell in administration last Thursday, has closed another six sites on top of the 29 sites from the tail-end of the 185-strong estate that were closed last week. The sites will be placed on the market with the agent Christie + Co.

Mezze restaurants offers £12,000 of cricket coaching to local schools: Mezze Restaurants is offering schools and colleges across the south west the chance to benefit from £12,000 worth of professional cricket coaching to aid student development. The restaurant chain supports both community projects and charities and has decided to further extend its outreach projects to schools across the region. It will donate £1,000 worth of professional cricket coaching to 12 schools or colleges across Bristol and North Somerset as part of a link up project. Mezze managing director Alex Tryfonos, a full Marylebone Cricket Club member (MCC) is keen to develop aspiring cricketers. He said: “Mezze is keen to support community projects and already offers an apprentice scheme in conjunction with St Katharine’s Catering College in Pill. We would like to further extend our links with schools and colleges to support youth development by offering 12 educational establishments £1,000 each worth of coaching.”

Starbucks to add to My Starbucks Rewards scheme: Starbucks is beefing up its My Starbucks Rewards with new features, including its recently revamped food range, which debuted in the UK last month. The current Starbucks card global balance is $4bn (£2.5bn) after its expansion to 11 new markets, including Germany and Hong Kong. The company wants the rewards programme to establish a “Starbucks currency” that can be used across multiple platforms in order to foster more loyalty among consumers. Starbucks is also planning updates to its mobile apps, saying features including mobile ordering and digital tipping are “on the way”. Howard Schultz, chief executive of Starbucks, said that no “single competency and capability” had amplified the brand more than its investment in all three platforms.

Papa John’s expects sales of 1m pizzas during World Cup Finals: Papa John’s Pizza has estimated that more than one million pizzas will sold at next year’s football World Cup. Andrew Gallagher, marketing director of Papa John’s UK, said: “England will be football-crazy next summer and for a business that booms on big TV occasions, this is a golden goal. In the past, England games have driven sales upwards by 30 to 40%, and with pizza-friendly TV times, we’re expecting our sales to soar as supporters look to enjoy the action from South America. Our franchisees across the UK will be very busy delivering pizza to fans watching the matches.”

Whitbread plans Premier Inn, Brewer’s Fayre and Costa Coffee combination in Abergavenny: Whitbread is planning to site all three of its major brands, Premier Inn, Brewer’s Fayre and Costa Coffee, at a site at Llanfoist, near Abergavenny, Monmouthshire. The application, which has been submitted to Monmouthshire Council, includes a small Costa Coffee with 21 parking spaces, which would be built on four hectares of the site.

Cau to open fourth site this month and first in London: Cau, the restaurant brand owned by Gaucho Group, opens its fourth site and first site in London later this month, in Blackheath, South East London. Underpinning the menu is a range of Argentinean beef, including the classic steak lover’s treat ribeye (£15.95), the speciality cut 440g lomito fillet (£27.50) and Tapa De Cuadril (£14.50). Cau’s steaks are wet-aged for six weeks, using meat from cattle reared on the Argentinean pampas. As well as cooking with a traditional Argentinean grill, Cau also uses a Josper charcoal oven, which reaches temperatures in the region of 480 degrees.

Luminar nightclub team up with Merlin Entertainments in York: Luminar’s York nightclub Kuda teamed up with Merlin Entertainment to offer clubbers the ultimate Halloween experience. The venue, on Clifford Street, partnered with the York Dungeons to launch the Home of Halloween, “the ultimate Halloween party night under one roof”. The joint ticket offered clubbers a tour of the Dungeon’s new Halloween show and entrance tickets for Kuda’s Halloween spectacular with a complimentary drink. The York Dungeons recently re-opened after a refurbishment needed because of flooding. Both venues share the same building and have cooperated over the years on a number of joint initiatives.

M&B names Kopparberg its Supplier of the Year: Swedish cider brand Kopparberg has claimed the prestigious title of Mitchells & Butlers’ Supplier of the Year 2013. The independent fruit cider brand also picked up the award for Cider Supplier of the Year and a special commendation for Category Management. Ben Norris, M&B’s procurement manager, said: “Kopparberg have done a fantastic job in helping us further develop our cider category over the past 12 months, providing us with excellent consumer and category insight – the detail we require to make the right ranging decisions for our leading retail brands.”

Masterchef finalist opens restaurant: Dave Coulson, a finalist in Masterchef: The Professionals, has opened a new restaurant in Jesmond, Northumbria. Peace and Loaf, located on Jesmond Road, offers Northern-inspired dishes, including a chicken pie Coulson debuted during his stint on the BBC programme Masterchef, which was judged by Michelin-starred chef Michel Roux Jr, John Torode and Gregg Wallace.

Former Caprice boss to open barbecue restaurant in new year: Former Caprice Holdings boss Des McDonald, who already operates the Fish & Chip Shop in Islington, North London, is to launch a BBQ restaurant and bar on Chalk Farm Road, North London in the new year called Q. On the menu will be “raw, charred and smoked favourites”. Queen scallop ceviche, salmon caviar & finger lime, blackened tiger shrimp and citrus sea bass served with spiced crispy taco will be offered from the “raw bar”, while from the “charred” section, there will be pecan wood-roasted chicken, Josper grilled rib eye steak and the Q burger. The “smoked” section offers pulled pork sandwiches, St Louis cut ribs and smoked “Kielbasa” hotdogs with sweet mustard relish and smoked chilli sauce. Sides will include seasoned fries, mac and cheese, Q baked beans, house slaw and fried onion rings. For dessert there will be root beer and Coke floats, banoffee cheesecake, salted caramel and peanut butter puddings and Louisville lemonade jello. Takeaways will be available.

Castle Rock hires head of sales: Scott Ryder has been appointed to the newly created post of head of sales at Nottingham-based Castle Rock Brewery. Brought up in Ilkeston, Derbyshire, Ryder has more than 20 years’ experience of drinks retailing and the pub trade. His first job was with Britvic in the 1980s, and he has, through a series of takeovers and promotions, worked with many of the UK’s largest companies including PepsiCo, Greenalls, Greene King, following its acquisition of Hardys and Hansons, and Marston’s. “My role is to help all Castle Rock customers get more from the brewery which in recent years has, by necessity, focused on the development of its product range,” Ryder said. 

Spirit leased licensees sign up to managed food offer: Spirit leased licensees, around 40 of whom now serve a full pub menu package provided by the managed division, have spent a day at Spirit’s development kitchens in Burton upon Trent to receive training on the new Christmas menu available for their pubs. A further three training days have taken place across the country to launch the Christmas menu and ensure that the licensees are fully familiar with the dishes, how to cook them and the dish layout. Lindsay Roper, training manager for Spirit Leased pubs, said: “This is all about helping our licensees really maximise the Christmas opportunities from this menu. It’s really important that they see, cook and taste the dishes before they land in their pubs and start serving them to their guests. It also gives us an opportunity to work with our licensees to ensure our food menus are right in the future and our training provides real benefits.”

Australian chocolate concept takes YO! Sushi site in Solihull: The Australian brand Theobroma Chocolate Pavilion is opening in Solihull’s Touchwood Centre, Birmingham, taking a site formerly occupied by YO! Sushi. The first Theobroma opened in Melbourne seven years ago.

Thwaites report turnover up 1% in first half: Brewer and retailer Thwaites has reported turnover up 1% to £71.9m in the six months ended 30 September. Chairman Ann Yerburgh said: “I am pleased to report that in the first half of this financial year we have seen some encouraging signs that consumer confidence is improving. Our performance has been assisted by better weather over the summer trading period and we have seen this translate into a better performance in every area of the business. Adjusting for discontinued contract work in our brewery, turnover increased by 4% on a like for like basis.” Operating profit of £6.9m (2012: £6.6m, before exceptional items) is up 5% on last year. Operating profit in the Beer Co and Pubs was £4.2m in the first half of the year (2012: £4.0m), an increase of 5%. Yerburgh said: “The difficult steps that we took during last year and at the start of this financial year to restructure our brewery are beginning to show the improvements that we had planned for. The better summer weather has benefited many parts of the business, from volumes in the brewery to trade in our tenanted pubs and inns, many of which have seen growth over the summer months.”

Costa site freehold sells for £640,000: The freehold of the Costa coffee shop premises in Tavistock, Devon has been bought in a £640,000 property deal, reflecting a net initial return of 7.7%. The site, 34 Brook Street has been acquired by the property consultancy Vickery Holman on behalf of a private investor client. Peter Hale Associates represented the vendor. The property is currently let to Costa on a 15-year lease at an annual rent of £52,000. It has a ground-floor retail space of 1,305 sq ft and a further 716 sq ft of storage on the first floor. Mike Oldrieve, head of investment at Vickery Holman, said: “I have been monitoring this property for over three years waiting for the price to adjust to post-recession values. I am not one who shares the doom and gloom predicted for the retail industry. There will always be a high street, particularly in strong market towns such as Tavistock.”

Permission granted for restaurant, hotel and floating homes at quarry site: Developers have won planning permission for a scheme at a former quarry in Appley Bridge, near Wigan, West Lancashire which includes a restaurant, a hotel and floating houses. The mixed-use scheme at the 27-acre East Quarry site includes plans for houses around the quarry bank, a hotel, a restaurant and floating properties on the water. Steven Abbott Associates secured planning permission on behalf of the developer Mainsprint for the project. Christie McDonald, an associate at Steven Abbott Associates, said: “Despite being a former quarry, East Quarry is a highly attractive site which will be a great place to live for many people. We are particularly proud of the floating homes element, which is also a credit to Peter Dickinson of Peter Dickinson Architects, who designed the scheme in its entirety.” Mainsprint will now seek a development partner to take the scheme forward.

Spanish restaurants’ owners launch mobile food operation: The owners of two Spanish restaurants in South Wales are launching a mobile food operation this week. Tom and Owen Morgan, who launched the first Bar 44 restaurant in 2002 and now run restaurants in Cowbridge and Penarth in the Vale of Glamorgan, want to pitch their mobile store at sites across Wales, with the van making its first appearance outside St David’s shopping centre in Cardiff this week. The mobile food business is called El Boquerón, the Spanish for “The Anchovy”. Owen Morgan said the project was designed to address a lack of street food options in Wales, compared to places such as Bristol, Birmingham and London. He said: “We want to do more to develop the street food culture in Wales to help those independents that can’t afford expensive leases or rates to showcase their culinary talents. The launch of El Boquerón is the first step in our desire to invigorate the market, and we are also speaking to local councils about having dedicated areas in towns across South Wales.” The Morgans’ restaurants have featured in the Good Food Guide, the Observer Food Monthly Awards 2013 and Harpers’ Spanish Wine Awards.

Two-year-old brewery moves to five-times-bigger home: The Kite Brewery, founded in 2011, is moving from its first home, Gorslas in Carmarthenshire to new premises five times the size in Llantrisant, Glamorgan. The change should enable it to increase output by 60%. Rhys Anstee, the brewery’s managing director, said: “Since launching we have experienced rapid growth, which is testament to the quality of the product and can also be attributed to the surge in popularity for independently brewed cask ale. It was therefore a necessity that we expand our operation in order to deal with the demand.” The Kite Brewery, which is owned by the drinks wholesaler Glamorgan Beer Company, has invested more than £350,000 in updating its operations, including the new 35-barrel brewery, recruitment and marketing activity. Its head brewer is Iain Masson, former production manager at Hardys & Hansons.

Patisserie Valerie signs deal to open within Next shops: Patisserie Valerie has signed a deal to open within Next stores in a trial involving three sites. It is the first time that Patisserie Valerie has taken a concession within a retail environment, but if successful could lead to another route of expansion for the brand, which is owned by Luke Johnson’s Risk Capital Partners. A site has already opened within the Next store in Cheltenham’s Gallagher Retail Park. The opening within Next came as Patisserie Valerie also opened on Cheltenham High Street. Patisserie Valerie’s chief executive, Paul May, said: “We are delighted to be introducing Patisserie Valerie not only to Next shoppers at the Gallagher Retail Park but also to Cheltenham High Street. Cheltenham is an exciting and vibrant town and has been earmarked by the company as an ideal location for some time.” Patisserie Valerie, which first opened in 1926 in Soho, reported that Ebitda rose to £9.6m in the year to 30 September 2012, up from £8m the year before. Turnover rose to £49.5m from £40.48m the year before. Pre-tax profit stood at £5.89m, 28% up on the £4.6m achieved in the prior year. The company, which has 1,500 staff, has reported it targets a cash payback in excess of 40% return and two-year payback on investment. At the start of this year, May told Propel: “A lot of retailers are looking at their space and thinking how they can make it generate income, and we’ve been talking to some fairly large companies about the possibility of opening concessions in their stores.” While May would not be drawn at the time into naming names or style of operator, he added: “We’re talking substantial stores with hundreds of units.” In an interview in The Sunday Times in August, Luke Johnson said: “My sort of investing tends to be at the higher-risk, higher-reward end. I like businesses where, under my ownership, I can see a doubling or trebling of the size.” Referring to Patisserie Valerie, he added: “In 2006 we bought it for £6m. This year, we made operating profits of £12m. You don’t see that sort of success or growth by playing it safe. Risk involves the possibility of failure. Being able to hold your head up high and carry on, and not retreat and not give up is a part of business and part of life.” In March, Patisserie Valerie opened seven sites in a single weekend as part of a major push into transport hub locations. The brand opened in former Paul sites at a host of London railway stations – Marylebone, Waterloo, Victoria, Euston, Paddington and two sites at St Pancras. These latest openings follow success at the company’s first railway station site at King’s Cross in London. May told Propel at the time: “Considering [King’s Cross] is a small area, just 354 square foot, it’s producing a level of sales equivalent to a 1,500 sq ft site. That’s because we’re doing a lot of takeaway, although there is some external seating available. Transport hubs have been something we’ve wanted to get into for some time. Our operations director came from a coffee chain and had good connections, which helped us get into Network Rail. [Jon Hassall joined Patisserie Valerie in October 2012 from AMT Coffee.] Network Rail is challenging. Commercial specifications and negotiations are long-winded and it’s hard to get a decent length of term, but commercially we are happy and Network Rail is delighted with our performance at King’s Cross.” The company has opened a second site under its new restaurant format, which aims to capture an evening trade, in Aberdeen after the launch of the first in Glasgow. May has indicated evening trade is building in Glasgow after a slow start.

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