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Tue 21st Jan 2014 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Davis Coffer Lyons predicts rise of “hybrid” retail/eat and drink concepts: The leisure consultancy Davis Coffer Lyons has produced its predictions form 2014, which include the growth of “hybrid concepts” that blur the boundaries in terms of traditional planning use classes, combining retail with grazing/limited dining and drinking. The DCL team also predicts an increase in the number of in-store catering concessions, more “medium term” pop-ups, that is, anything up to three years, and the continued importance of street food and markets, “which have the power to pull large audiences to off-pitch locations as well as to enliven areas and provide a worthwhile amenity, particularly areas with a high population of office workers”, DCL says. Further predictions include a new wave of boutique wine bars in London, which provide a limited food offer and focus on specialist producers, attracting an audience with a genuine interest in wine, more Greek restaurants, many of which, it says, will combine an eatery with a deli element and a rise in the number of vegetable juice bars, which may in turn impact traditional fruit juice bars, possibly as part of campaign against sugar intake. The DCL team’s industry predictions include an increase in the ration of food and beverage to retail in town centre developments as landlords look to exploit the virtues of having a cutting edge dining offer within their schemes; a proliferation of established pitches, which will lead to a wider range of innovative food and beverage locations, moving away from traditional “prime” locations, and the growth of suburban locations, as bars and restaurants follow the residential boom as it spreads to previously underrated and under-served London suburbs, more development outside London, particularly in affluent towns, and a rise in M&A activity in the casual dining sector. They say leisure rents will continue to outperform prime office rentals in Central London; investment yields for leisure property will drop further; and increasing number of leisure funds will manifest themselves

Industry News:

The first Propel Multi Club Conference of 2014 open to bookings: The first Propel Multi Club Conference of 2014, to be held on Thursday 13 March at the Lancaster London Hotel, Lancaster Gate, central London, is now open for bookings. Multi site pub, restaurant and foodservice companies can claim up to two free places each. E-mail to reserve places.

Propel Quarterly Spring edition out first week in March: The Spring edition of the must-read-and-keep Propel Quarterly magazine is published in the first week of March. To advertise e-mail Sharon Dickinson on

‘How to launch an independent brewery’ course sells out: A course on how to launch an independent brewery tutored by the founders of three of London’s new independent breweries has sold out, more than a month in advance. The course has been organised by The Guardian newspaper as part of a series of “masterclasses” on everything from creative writing to launching a fashion brand. The topics to be covered include how to move from home-brewing to commercial brewing; the fundamentals of product design and branding; marketing a new beer brand, including advice on how to make the best out of social media; the logistics of setting up your brewery, including quality assurance and hygiene; distribution – how to get your beer into bars and restaurants; and technical equipment – what you will need and how much it will cost. The tutors for the tree-hour course, taking place on February 26, are Logan Plant, the founder and head brewer of Beavertown Brewery in East London; Jasper Cuppaidge, founder of Camden Town Brewery in North London; and Ed Mason, founder of the Five Points Brewing Company, again in East London. The Guardian is also running a £129 all-day “Introduction to food start-ups” with advice on starting and running a food van, supper club or pop-up restaurant, and speakers including the founder of Street Feast, Dom Cools-Lartigue, Bash Redford of Forza Win and Rosie French of French and Grace.

Road safety chiefs criticise new Wetherspoon motorway pub: Road safety and motoring groups have criticised JD Wetherspoon’s new motorway pub, opening today, on the M40 motorway. The RAC said it was a ‘risky and frankly unnecessary move’ that was ‘at odds with common sense’ while road safety charity Brake said it represented ‘a potentially deadly temptation to drivers.’ Sir Ian Gilmore, Royal College of Physicians special adviser on alcohol and chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance, said he was ‘disappointed’ by the decision to open a JD Wetherspoon on the M40: “We are trying to prevent harm from alcohol-related traffic accidents and this sends out completely the wrong message.” The Hope and Champion pub will open from 4am to 1am, seven days a week, in the Extra Motorway Service Area at junction 2 of the M40 in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire creating 120 jobs.

Company News:

Las Iguanas reports 7.4% festive like-for-like growth: Las Iguanas have reported a third successive Christmas of like-for-like growth with sales up 7.4% for the party season, taking three year growth to over 25%. Operations director Mos Shamel said: “Our guests tell us that Christmas at Las Iguanas is something a bit special, and that our untraditional menu and party atmosphere really appeal to both our regulars and larger parties. Revellers can make a night of it, enjoying a delicious meal and extending their visit in the bar for a cocktail or two. We’ve seen growth year on year at Christmas and I think this is testament to the fact that we never rest on our laurels and keep making the experience better and better for our guests.” Las Iguanas currently has 33 branches across the UK and its next restaurant opens in West Nile Street, Glasgow in March.

Punch Taverns sells London pub for £2m in off-market deal: Punch Taverns has sold the Duke of Wellington gastro-pub in Crawford Street, Marylebone to a private investment fund advised by agent AG&G. The £2 million-plus deal is subject to a tied lease. “The Duke of Wellington has had a long and illustrious history and we are delighted to have helped secure its future,” said AG&G’s James Grimes. “It was our first investment deal of 2014 and we already have a number of other opportunities in solicitors’ hands.” 2014 promises to be stronger than 2013 with even more foreign investors wishing to invest in London, he added.

D&D sees ‘fabulous’ Christmas in City and Canary Wharf: D&D London has announced “fabulous” Christmas trading at its restaurants in the City of London and Canary Wharf, with like-for-like sales up 15%. At the same time the company, which runs more than 30 restaurants in total, saw its highest ever Christmas revenues. Des Gunewardena, D&D’s chief executive, said: “For a number of years we have been reporting positive Christmas trading driven by strong sales in our West End and Kensington and Chelsea restaurants. During these years the City has been pretty flat. This December has seen a dramatic reversal of that trend. We have had a fabulous Christmas in the City and in Canary Wharf. We have traded well not only in our more recently opened venues, such as Old Bengal Warehouse and South Place Hotel, but also in our more established restaurants, such as Coq d’Argent, Plateau and Paternoster Chop House. After a number of years of relatively austere Decembers, it’s good to see the City bouncing back!” Total London restaurant revenues were up 5% like-for-like compared with 2012 and London restaurant core revenues, excluding exceptional event revenues, were up 7%.

Wasabi Sushi & Bento expands outside London with branches in Leeds: The Japanese food retailer Wasabi Sushi & Bento is expanding outside London for the first time with a £1m investment to open two branches at Trinity Leeds early next month. The chain, which has seating available at most of its 36 branches across London, and a full restaurant at the O2 in Greenwich, is also in the process of opening a branch in New York. Of the two new Leeds outlets, one will be a takeaway kiosk only and the other a takeaway with seating available. Wasabi was launched in 2003 and saw turnover reach more than £45m last year and currently employs about 1,000 staff in the UK. Dong Hyun Kim, founder of Wasabi, said: “We choose our locations very carefully and Leeds, as a leading retail centre with a vibrant business community and huge student population, is a major draw.” The company has appointed the food and drink PR specialist MCG to support the launch of its new Leeds stores with an integrated campaign using social media activity, events, promotions and media relations.

Iconic Cotswolds freehold on the market for £2.8m: The iconic Cotswolds inn the Wild Duck is on the market for the first time in 24 years with a freehold asking price of £2.8m through agent Christie + Co. The pub has been placed on the market as the current owner has reluctantly decided to retire from the trade after 24 years of ownership. The 16th century building offers 12,000 sq ft internally and is set in excess of half-an-acre. It has 12 individually designed en suite bedrooms showing a minimum of 84% occupancy throughout the year. Nicholas Calfe, director of Christie + Co, said: “This is a rare and exciting opportunity to come to the market and offers rewards beyond that of a successful business. It presents a strong platform and scope for a new operator to take it to the next level. The Wild Duck is a trophy asset and, consequently, we expect to receive strong levels of interest and enquiry.”

Amber Taverns festive like-for-likes up 6%: Amber Taverns, which runs more than 90 pubs across Northern England, the Midlands and North Wales, saw like-for-like sales for the 12-day festive period rise 6% year-on-year. Clive Preston, Amber Taverns’ chairman, said: “This is a pleasing performance in what was a mixed period on the weather front which, once again, illustrates the ongoing appeal of well-run, wet-led community pubs, generating sustainable growth in the geographies in which we operate. Amber continues to go from strength to strength and we remain within reach of our target of achieving a 100-strong pub portfolio by the end of this year.” Amber has two sites currently under refurbishment, in Chesterfield and Hull, as well as four sites which are due to be refurbished shortly in Sedgley, York, Carlisle, and Ferryhill, near Durham. All six pubs are scheduled to be trading by the end of the first quarter of 2014. The company is looking to invest a further £1m on beer gardens at six pubs within its existing estate, after the success of similar developments at its pubs in Leigh and Runcorn last year. Amber says it is targeting 100 sites by the end of 2014, a rise of seven on the start of the year.

Fernandez & Wells to open cafe in new boutique: The London restaurant and cafe chain Fernandez & Wells is to open a cafe in the new Mayfair outlet being planned by the King’s Road fashion boutique The Shop at Bluebird, owned by Jigsaw. The new Bluebird store, on Duke Street, is the first step of a plan by Jigsaw Group to expand the designer concept store across London and the south east. It is not clear if all the planned new stores will also have cafes attached. The Duke Street development will also include a new hotel, the Beaumont, from restaurateurs Chris Corbin and Jeremy King. Fernandez & Wells currently runs four outlets in central London, including a food and wine bar on Lexington Street and a coffee bar nearby on Beak Street.

Award-winning country pub for sale: A pub that has been its local Campaign for Real Ale branch’s Country Pub of the Year for the past three years is on sale via the specialist licensed property agents Fleurets for £400,000. The Horns Lodge Inn in South Chailey, East Sussex, a privately owned freehold freehouse, has three bar and dining areas, two B&B bedrooms, a car park, garden and front patio. Nick Earee, who is handling the sale at Fleurets, said the current owners, Mike and Linda Lethem, purchased the property in 2008 and were selling primarily because Linda had been offered a job back in publishing with a good friend and Mike is a full-time senior lecturer at the University of Brighton.

Dock Kitchen chef to open southern Italian-influenced restaurant: Stevie Parle, who opened the restaurant Dock Kitchen in Ladbroke Grove, West London in 2010, is now planning a 100-seat restaurant and bar in east London serving dishes that reflect his love of the south of Italy. The new restaurant, called Sardine, which is due to open in March in a former Barclays bank branch on Kingsland Road, Dalston, East London, will focus on the food of Puglia, Sicily, Calabria and Sardinia. It will have a zinc-topped bar with 16 chrome-and-leather bar stools taken from a 1970s cruise liner, and a 22-seat communal table, parquet flooring, leather banquets and exposed brick walls. The dining room will seat 62 and the bar 35. Reservations will only be accepted for the restaurant. The all-Italian wine list will be created by sommelier Ruth Spivey, a former fashion model. Sardine will be open for lunch and dinner, with dishes such as fish stew with couscous at £16 and sage-and-lemon veal chop at £18. Parle, 29, told the Bloomberg food critic Richard Vines: “It’s going to be a creative restaurant where we want people to be surprised by the food. It’s a shame that people’s idea of Italian cuisine is often limited to Tuscany and Jamie Oliver.”

Domino’s loses hours extension bid: Domino’s Pizza has had an application to extend delivery hours at its outlet in Meir Hay, Stoke on Trent turned down by the city’s council after residents complained they already had to put up with noise and litter from the premises. The company wanted to increase delivery hours to 2am on Friday and Saturday. Currently the shop, in Amison Street, is allowed to open from 11am to 11pm. However, planning officer Jennifer Bolton said in a report to councillors that there were already problems of noise pollution, particularly from the delivery service, because of car engine noise and Domino’s employees talking outside. “While the type of noise associated within the business may be of a short duration, the constant entering and exiting the car park, the running of waiting car engines and talking from employees would adversely affect surrounding residents. Environmental Health agree the proposed opening hours would result in a loss of amenity,” she said.

Marston’s completes Pembroke Dock purchase: Marston’s is to start work on a 150-seat pub and restaurant suitable for families in Pembroke Dock, West Wales after planning permission was granted for the 0.9-acre site. The pub company struck the deal to purchase the land, part of the Martello Quays waterfront development by the property developer Conygar Investment Company, last summer, subject to planning permission being obtained and other site-related conditions satisfied. Stuart Hogg Property Consultants acted for Marston’s on the property deal, while the commercial property consultancy Legat Owen represented Conygar.

Popular Soho lesbian bar relocates after its home is sold: The lesbian destination spot Candy Bar is to relocate to a new location in Soho, London after its existing premises on Carlisle Street were sold by Gary Henshaw to The Nags Head Ltd, owner of the eponymous pole dancing venue in the Whitechapel Road in East London, for an undisclosed sum. The Candy Bar, which has been running since 1996, will reopen on January 31st under a new name, She, in another venue owned by Henshaw, at 23a Old Compton Street. It will supposedly offer London’s lesbians “a more intimate and elegant space in the heart of Soho”. The Nags Head Ltd, which purchased the adjoining Nellie Dean pub last year through DCL, who also brokered the current sale, plans to convert the 1,600 sq ft former Candy Bar into a new strip club operation, which is also due to open soon. Charlotte Wild of DCL said: “Property values in Soho have increased massively over the past few years and we are increasingly being approached by operators, many of whom have owned units for a considerable amount of time, that are looking to realise the value their properties have accrued. Candy Bar is a true Soho institution and we are delighted that it has found a new home nearby.” In a statement in October, Henshaw, owner of the Ku Group, which runs the gay Ku Bar in Lisle Street, Soho, blamed the closure of the Candy Bar on a 50% increase in rent.

Tropeiro outlet shuts suddenly: The Carlisle branch of the Tropeiro Brazilian-style steak-house chain has shut suddenly, less than ten months after it opened. Details of the branch have been removed from the company’s website, but the closure apparently came as a shock to the owner of the building, in Botchergate, Carlisle businessman Ged Crooks. He told the local News and Star newspaper that he had received a telephone call in Spain to tell him the premises were empty and Tropeiro had gone. He said: “It was quite a shock. The last time I was in they were quite busy and when I asked they said they were trading above target. They put a lot into it. They invested a lot of money in equipment and the decor.” Crooks said Camboriu Restaurants, the Chester-based company that operates the Tropeiro chain, took out a 15-year lease on the Botchergate premises, formerly the Cassa bar, in 2013, with no break clause until 2018. Camboriu, owned by the Brazilian chef and businessman Nei Borgert, also runs Tropeiro restaurants in Chester, Sheffield, Nottingham, Glasgow and Aberdeen. The restaurants are based on the Brazilian rodizio concept, where diners help themselves to a salad buffet before meat carvers pass from table to table offering at least 12 different cuts of roasted beef, pork, lamb and chicken, cooked barbecue style. The Carlisle restaurant had been praised by diners on the review website, with 47 out of 55 reviews rating it “excellent” or “very good” and only one calling it “terrible”. A call to Camboriu Restaurants for comment remained unanswered last night.

New Poundcafe honours Shirley Valentine: Poundcafe, the cafe chain that lets customers eat a traditional fry-up of sausage, beans, bacon and egg for only one pound, is honouring the stars of the film Shirley Valentine in its latest opening in Bootle Strand, Merseyside. The site of the new cafe was used in scenes for the film featuring Pauline Collins, who played the title character, and Alison Steadman, also known for her role in Gavin and Stacey. Staff will be hanging up a signed picture of them both in the cafe, and unveiling a commemorative plaque acknowledging the film, while they have been sent open invitations to pop in at any time. Keely Palin-Jones, marketing manager for Poundbakery and Poundcafe, said: “We are delighted to be opening a Poundbakery and Poundcafe here in Bootle and when we heard that Shirley Valentine was filmed here we felt it only right to honour this in some way.” The first Poundcafe, a subsidiary of Sayers the Bakers, opened on Chad’s Parade in Kirkby, Merseyside last May. Two further branches opened in the St John’s Precinct in Liverpool City Centre and in Birkenhead. Other £1 items on the menu include pie and baked beans a freshly ground cup of coffee or a cappuccino.

Wagamama holds exclusive event for restaurant petitioners: Wagamama held an exclusive event at its new restaurant in Chichester, Sussex on Sunday for some of the hundreds of people who signed a petition urging the city’s planners to let the chain open a branch in South Street. Initial planning permission was denied by Chichester Council, with the council saying there were too many restaurants in the city centre. Planning officers were concerned that the restaurant, which was previously occupied by Store Twenty One, would mean more than 15 metres of continuous non-retail shops in the “primary shopping frontage area” of the city. But the decision was overturned by a planning inspector in September last year. More than 800 people signed a petition in favour of the restaurant, and petitioners were invited by Wagamama to come along to the restaurant on Sunday to eat as new wait staff were put through their paces. The petitioners were addressed by David Campbell, chief executive of Wagamama, who said: “It’s been a long time coming. The restaurant has had quite a delay. We were really happy because close to 1,000 people signed the petition. It is really nice to have such passionate and lively customers.” Campbell lives in the Chichester district and told The Chichester Observer he knew the city well. “I thought, if we are going to be in Chichester, we need to be near the Cross,” he said. “Most of the city’s visitors spend time around the Cross. I think it will be nice for residents and visitors to have somewhere else to eat.”

Spirit Pub Co scheme awarded Gold Standard for work experience provision: Spirit Pub Company has been awarded a Gold Standard for its “Teen Spirit” work experience scheme by Fair Train, the organisation that sets UK quality standards in work experience provision. Teen Spirit is the company’s work scheme for school students and is part of a wider schools programme delivered by the charity Believe In Young People. Fair Train’s nationally-recognised quality benchmark is supported by, among others, the Department of Education, the National Careers Service and Ofsted. Students participating in Teen Spirit are given experience in all aspects of running a successful pub business, from creating a new menu dish to thinking up their own team incentives and ways of generating new business. In addition to hands-on hospitality experience, students get the chance to create a CV and discuss their future plans, with a career in hospitality in mind. Jo Bradford, national qualifications manager at Spirit, said: “Teen Spirit has received the highest quality mark it can. I am delighted. We have put a lot into the work experience delivery model so it is great to receive such recognition.” Spirit Pub Company’s 791 pubs across the UK run under brands including Chef & Brewer, Fare & Square, Flaming Grill, John Barras and Taylor Walker.

Stratford gets first micro-pub: The first micro-pub in Warwickshire has opened, in a former shop premises in Stratford upon Avon. The one-room Stratford Alehouse in Greenhill Street has no bar, no hot food, no lager, no television, no music, gaming machines, or children. Cask ales sell for £3 a pint and opening hours are 11am-8pm Monday to Saturday and 11pm-6pm on Sundays. Founder Bill O’Brien said he was inspired by the micro-pub movement in Kent. He said: “With all due respect to Stratford’s town centre hostelries, due to excessive taxation they’ve had to change direction in order to thrive. This has resulted in the fact that they’re now mostly restaurants that just happen to sell expensive beer.”

Sustainable foodservice awards takes place next month: The UK’s most sustainable food service businesses will be honoured at the Sustainable Restaurant Awards next month, with two new awards on offer recognising the significant growth in the sector. The new awards, for most sustainable global restaurant, and most sustainable caterer, mark the continued expansion of the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA), which will be presenting the awards for the third year. The awards, sponsored by Unilever Food Solutions, will be presented by the president of the SRA, Raymond Blanc, at Roast, in Borough Market, London on February 17.

Hotel/restaurant and pub make finals of Britain’s friendliest business awards: A boutique hotel and restaurant in Devon and a pub and restaurant in Cumbria have made the finals of a national competition to find Britain’s friendliest business. The businesses are among 20 finalists in the award sponsored by Liberia, one of the UK’s largest providers of small business funding. The owners of “Britain’s Friendliest Business” will receive a cash award of £10,000. The Belfry in Yarcombe, run by Neil and Sarah Jane Martin, source as much food as possible from local suppliers in the south west, supporting local businesses and host regular events for locals as well as guests including weekly coffee mornings and a monthly Knit and Natter group. The Pheasant Inn in Allithwaite, Cumbria is run by the Jones family. They impressed the judges with their community approach. The inn hosts regular darts and quiz nights for locals, organises and prepares meals-on-wheels twice a week, hosts two Age Concern lunches every month and raises money for the local netball team. Paul Mildenstein, chief executive of Liberis, said: “We’ve been bowled over by the quality of entries and the obvious passion and devotion that Britain’s small businesses give to make sure their customers get the very best service. They should all be celebrated.”

McDonald’s marketing boss – the challenge is media fragmentation: Tony Malcolm, a Briton who has been poached to lead the McDonald’s lead agency creative team, has argued that innovation media fragmentation is the key marketing challenge he faces. He said: “I am a great believer in quality, and we need to make sure the quality is sustained, and if need be, we can push it further. We need to look for innovative ways to reach our audience. The whole fragmentation of the media landscape means there’s so many more ways to reach out to our audience.”

Carluccio’s select Changeworknow’s applicant tracking system: The Italian restaurant chain Carluccio’s has chosen Changeworknow’s award-winning applicant tracking system to help recruit people who can provide a great customer experience within its restaurants. Changeworknow says its system will enable the chain to provide “a first-class experience” for all candidates throughout the hiring process and hire talented people who are passionate about their jobs. Lisa Proctor, chief marketing officer at Changeworknow, said: “Last month we were successful in winning a top HR award in the category ‘Best Candidate Experience’ for our work with Ask Italian. We are delighted that Carluccio’s has joined the growing number of high profile restaurants, such as Jamie Oliver, the Gondola Group and Wagamama, who have selected us as their technology partner.”

Former Waikiki restaurant site on the market: A restaurant in Exeter city centre is on the market after closing its doors. Waikiki opened in Sidwell Street in 2011, specialising in surf style and South Sea island-themed fast food. The premises were previously home to Pasta Porto Express. Waikiki traded as a modern cafe bar serving freshly made baguettes, wraps, baked potatoes, smoothies, shakes, frozen yoghurts, teas, coffees, cakes, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages. The food was freshly prepared on the premises and available to eat in or take away. A free of tie lease, Stonesmith are looking for offers off a guide price of £29,950.

Costa granted permission for King’s Lynn store number two: Costa Coffee has been granted permission to convert a former Laura Ashley store on King’s Lynn High Street, shut since December 2012, into a coffee shop. The new shop is a short distance from Costa’s existing store in the Vancouver Quarter, which is not expected to be affected. The company also has outlets on the Hardwick Retail Park in King’s Lynn and also has an outlet at King’s Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital. The new store, which is due to open in late May or early June, will have tables and seats for 26 people, plus some seating outside in the street. It will provide jobs for eight to ten people and sell the usual Costa drinks, sandwiches and panini for consumption in the store or for takeaway.

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