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Thu 20th Feb 2014 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Hakkasan buys US nightclub company as its eyes development of “multi-faceted global lifestyle brand”: Hakkasan Group, the company that was founded in London’s Hanway Place in 2001 and runs eponymous Michelin-starred Cantonese restaurants, has continued its expansion into the US hospitality scene with the acquisition of Angel Management Group (AMG). AMG manages Hakkasan Las Vegas, Pure Nightclub at Caesars Palace, Wet Republic at MGM Grand and sites in Atlantic City. The acquisition will “provide Hakkasan Group with significant day-to-day operational capability and infrastructure, which will enable it to further expand its brand and hospitality operations in North America”. Two years ago, Hakkasan Group selected AMG to develop the Hakkasan Las Vegas restaurant and nightclub, which opened in 2013. Since then, the two companies have been working in partnership to open new properties, including Hakkasan Beverly Hills and the newly acquired Herringbone at Mondrian Los Angeles. Hakkasan Shanghai will open in early 2014. “Following a successful partnership with AMG, we believe the consolidation of its businesses will accelerate Hakkasan’s goal of creating a suite of multi-faceted global lifestyle brands. AMG has a proven track record of success in venue operation and marketing, and has established high-performing venues and experiences that appeal to guests and generate strong revenues,” said Khadem Al Qubaisi, chairman of Hakkasan Group. Neil Moffitt, chief executive of Hakkasan Group, said: “Our first priority will be to expand upon the success of Hakkasan’s venues and develop the brand portfolio in other markets, followed by the launch of several new concepts over the next few years.” Hakkasan has restaurant sites in Miami, Abu Dhabi, Mumbai, Dubai, New York, Doha, San Francisco, Las Vegas and Beverly Hills. Hakkasan’s brand portfolio includes the Japanese fine dining concept Sake no Hana (London and Dubai), and social dining concepts Searsucker (San Diego, Del Mar and Austin), Herringbone (San Diego and Los Angeles) and Stingaree nightclub in San Diego. Hakkasan Group is owned by Tasameem Real Estate, the Abu Dhabi-based investment company.

Industry News:

Nightclub loses landmark High Court hours appeal: A controversial nightclub has lost its landmark appeal against a decision to cut its opening hours. Funky Mojoe, in High Road, South Woodford, east London called for a judicial review against a decision to limit its licence to normal pub hours because of a history of anti-social behaviour associated with the venue. However, yesterday the High Court ruled that the venue will have to abide by the decision, as well as pay costs to the council of around £130,000. The owners will not be allowed to appeal against the decision. The decision acts as a precedent, as it is the first time a nightclub licensing issue has been taken to the High Court for review.

Glasgow nightclub introduces over-21s entry policy: A Glasgow nightclub where a teenager took a “Mortal Kombat” ecstasy pill and later died has introduced a strict over-21s policy for its future events. Regane MacColl, 17, died in the early hours of Sunday, February 2, after spending the night with friends at The Arches. Police Scotland issued a warning about the deadly red pills after the teenager’s death. The Arches has stated that it would be banning all under-21s from club events with immediate effect. The statement said: “Since the tragic events of 2 February, The Arches has been working closely with Police Scotland’s licensing division to review our policies and do even more to ensure a safer clubbing environment within the venue. With immediate effect, all club events will be open to over-21s only and valid ID will be required for entry.”

Beer writers and analysts to discuss ‘death of the pub’: A presentation on the real facts behind media reports of “the death of the pub” by two leading industry analysts has been organised by the British Guild of Beer Writers at the White Horse in Parsons Green, south west London on Thursday March 20. The talk, by Chris Holden , director at Ashdale Business Consulting, a former chair of the BBPA’s statistics panel and an expert on beer and alcohol market trends with more than 25 years in the brewing industry, and Graeme Louden, an account director at CGA Strategy, the on-trade market insight agency, is titled “Are reports of the death of beer and pubs exaggerated?” Tim Hampson, chairman of the beer writers’ guild, said: “The media is awash with stories of plummeting beer sales and pub closures. Is this doom and gloom justified? Are beer and pubs doomed – or are they just in another period of reinvention that has been seen so often before in their 1,000-year history in the UK? Chris and Graeme will separate the myths from reality to establish what is really going on in today’s enormously competitive alcohol market.” Places at the event can be reserved by e-mailing Angie Armitage at Cask Marque,

Grillstock offers free place to mark fifth year: The BBQ and music festival Grillstock, which returns for its fifth year to Harbourside in Bristol on June 7 and 8, is offering one up-and-coming business the chance to trade at the festival for free this year. Organisers are looking to support an entrepreneurial “foot-stomping” brand that fits with the festival’s roots, with the chance to reach more than 10,000 meat and music lovers enjoying Southern hospitality. Jon Finch, co-founder of Grillstock, said: “We have been lucky enough to have built a brilliant fan base in Bristol who turn out to enjoy the meat, music and mayhem each year, so we wanted to share a bit of that love with an up-and-coming brand that fits with our ethos and style. It would be great to find a company that we love that embodies what we do as a team.” The offer includes a free vendor place at the Bristol festival, an advert slot in the festival programme and inclusion in this year’s marketing activities alongside other brand supporters of the festival, valued at more than £5,000. Applications can be submitted in any format, so the more creative the better: email The deadline for entries is Friday March 22 at 5pm.

Mobile catering van owner graduates to coffee shop after raising £13,500 on Kickstarter: The owner of a mobile catering van who appeared on television with Griff Rhys Jones last week has graduated to a bricks-and-mortar coffee shop after raising £13,500 through the Kickstarter alternative funding programme, in which people pledge cash to raise the money needed. Jon Hughes ran a catering operation from a vintage Citroen van in Old Colwyn, Conwy, north Wales which was featured in programme six of Rhys Jones’s A Great Welsh Adventure on ITV. The TV appearance came just a week after Hughes had opened Providero, a coffee and cake shop in Llandudno Junction, after £13,500 was raised in 30 days on Kickstarter. Hughes said he was left feeling “humbled” by the support he received: “It was incredible, 80% of the funding came from local people.”

Alcohol-related deaths drop 4.4%: Alcohol-related deaths in the UK dropped 4.4% in 2012 compared to 2011, the Office of National Statistics revealed yesterday. The numbers fell from 8,748 to 8,367, to give a rate of 11.8 deaths per 100,000 population. The figure equates to around one alcohol-related death per year for each of the UK’s 8,500-plus GP practices. However, although this was 12.6% down on the peak of 15.5 deaths per 100,000 population in 2008, it was only 3.3% down on the figure of 12.2 deaths per 100,000 population recorded in 2002. The biggest fall was in alcohol-related deaths among men, which at 15.9 per 100,000 population were 15.5% down on 2008 and 5.7% down on 2002. In England and Wales, alcohol-related deaths accounting for 1.4% of all deaths in 2012. In Scotland, alcohol-related deaths have dropped by 37% for men and 34% for women since 2002.

Company News:

Arc Inspirations to open two sites in 2014: Arc Inspirations, which operates ten bars and restaurants across Yorkshire, will open two new sites in the region this year – they will be located in Leeds and Harrogate. Managing director Martin Wolstencroft said: “In June 2014 we will open our third ‘Pit’ site in Harrogate. This will be underneath a new Jamie’s Italian restaurant. In August we will open a new bar in Leeds city centre, which will be called ‘Mannahatta’ – this is the original name for New York’s Manhattan before it was discovered by Henry Hudson in 1609, and this will be our third new design concept.” One of the most recent openings by Arc Inspirations, The Pit on lower Merrion Street in Leeds, opened last summer, while an existing location in Chapel Allerton was refurbished and re-launched in the autumn. The addition of two new locations for 2014 takes Arc Inspirations’ portfolio to 12 in 2014 and follows an investment last year of £2.25m.

Brunning & Price reports Ebitda of £4m: Brunning & Price, the gastro-pub operator owned by the Restaurant Group, has filed Companies House documents that show turnover grew 14% to £30.4m in the year to December 30 2012, with operating profit margin before pre-opening costs at 10.6%, down from 11.2% in 2011 and ebitda up 2.9% to £4m. The four new openings in the year are “performing significantly ahead of expectations”, the company said. Pre-tax profit was £3.00m, fractionally down on £3.03m the year before.

Novus confirms closure of Aberdeen Tiger Tiger: Novus Leisure has confirmed the forthcoming closure of the Aberdeen Tiger Tiger on Saturday 1 March after ten years of business. A spokeswoman said: “We regret to announce that, following a consultation process, we have made the difficult decision to close our venue in Aberdeen in the wider interests of our business. We can confirm that the venue’s final day of opening will be March 1.” The venue will be hosting a closing party that day.

Greene King pub in Fulham to house boutique theatre: Greene King’s Eel Brook pub in Kings Road, Fulham, west London, formerly the Southern Cross, will see a new, fully functional, 65-seat boutique theatre open on 10 March. Ray Rackham, director of the London Theatre Workshop, said: “I am thrilled we have convinced Greene King, the landlord of this beautiful building, that London Theatre Workshop could really make something of the space. A redevelopment of the entire building, which itself was the home of Lord Peterborough, will restore the building to its former glory. It is my intention to ensure that the London Theatre Workshop truly becomes a destination venue for all.”

Former Scotland rugby player opens Beer and Skittles in Edinburgh: A former Scotland rugby player, Simon Taylor, has opened a new bar in Edinburgh called Beer and Skittles, aiming to provide a venue that caters to both the beer enthusiast and the avid sports fan. Manager Chris Caira said: “I have a love for beer and have travelled quite a lot and always enjoy trying the local beers. Whenever I am back home and I try a beer from a place I have visited, it reminds me of that holiday and the time spent there. We wanted to create a huge beer list so that people could travel the world one beer at a time.” The new business already has close to 2,000 followers on Facebook, a fan base that Caira said would remain at the heart of the business. “We have been trying to be very active on social media,” he said. “We have put lots of wee facts about beer as well as giving information about what beer we will be stocking and information about Beer and Skittles.” Taylor won 66 caps for Scotland between 2000 and 2009.

Marston’s to launch new range of craft beers: Marston’s is to launch a new rage of six “Revisionist” craft beers at the Craft Beer Rising event taking place at the Old Truman Brewery in east London between February 21 and 23. The Revisionist range, produced by five of the company’s regional breweries, includes a Belgian saison and a German wheat beer alongside new influences from the South Pacific and the United States with a red ale, a rye pale ale, a dark IPA and a California steam beer. Marston’s sales director, James Coyle, said: “We hope that the range works as a gateway for drinkers to experiment and expand their repertoire of beer styles, creating a real talking point among friends and a reason to visit the pub.”

Philip Lay to leave Brain’s: Philip Lay, retail director at SA Brain, is to leave the Cardiff-based brewer and pub operator at the end of March after 12 years with the company. The move comes as Brain’s restructures. Lay said: “After nearly 12 years with the business, it is time for me to move on to fresh challenges outside of Brain’s. I am sure the company will continue to flourish and everyone at Brain’s – employees and family – has my very best wishes for the future.”

Welcome Break adds brands at M40 site: Welcome Break, the motorway services operator, is adding new Subway and Harry Ramsden’s outlets to its Oxford Services, M40 site this week as well as re-opening Papa John’s. Rod McKie, chief executive of Welcome Break, said: “We are delighted to be announcing the openings of three of the country’s most recognised brands at Welcome Break Oxford. We fully expect for these partnerships to go from strength-to-strength as time progresses and our main aim is to be opening even more of the outlets at Welcome Breaks across the country in the near future.”

Wetherspoon ‘looking at site in Wellington’: JD Wetherspoon has confirmed to The Somerset County Gazette newspaper that it is looking at a possible site for a bar in the town of Wellington (population 14,549). The company refused to say where it was looking, but the newspaper said it “understands the ground floor of the old Town Hall in Fore Street is top of its shopping list.” In 2005, The Gazette reported the Town Hall was “in the company’s sights”, though no deal was struck. Keith Wheatley, vice-chairman of Wellington Business Association, told the newspaper: “When the big coffee chain Coffee#1 opened in town there was some scepticism that it would put the cafes out of business but it hasn’t. I think a Wetherspoon would pull in people who do not use the current town centre pubs so there is a whole new audience for a modern, family-friendly pub.”

Masterchef champion to open new restaurant: Masterchef champion Mat Follas is set to open a new restaurant in Dorchester. His new venture, which opens on March 7, will be in a small hotel, believed to be the Casterbridge in High East Street. He will only be open at weekends and accommodating 25 covers. It is small enough that Follas will be doing all the cooking himself, he said. Follas, the 2009 Masterchef winner, opened the Wild Garlic restaurant in his home town of Beaminster, Dorset the same year. However, despite two AA rosettes, recommendations in the Good Food Guide, the Michelin Guide and Trencherman’s Guide, and rave reviews by food critics from national newspapers, he was forced to move after a road closure caused a catastrophic drop in trade.

US diner plans second site, with drive-through: A US-style diner wants to open a second restaurant and drive thru at the site of a derelict pub in Denbighshire, creating up to 40 jobs. Harvey’s New York Bar and Grill in Llandudno is seeking permission to demolish the Marsh Warden pub, in Rhuddlan, Denbighshire, which has been empty for nearly a decade, and replace it with a modern restaurant as part of an expansion plan across the north Wales area, with further sites under consideration. Harrison Holmes, from Harvey’s, said: “We have been successful in Llandudno since opening and we have people travelling here from Rhyl and Bangor, which has encouraged us to expand. We want to be there by the end of August, depending on securing planning permission for the restaurant.” A spokesman added: “Harvey’s are expanding following the success of their first restaurant which opened in Llandudno in 2012. The restaurant at Rhuddlan will offer the same Harvey’s Bar & Grill quality but with the added benefit of a drive-through facility.”

Douglas Jack issues Domino’s ‘Buy’ note: Numis Securities leisure analyst Douglas Jack has issued a ‘Buy’ note on Domino’s UK, with a price target of 710p, ahead of full-year results next Thursday. He said: “Momentum tends to be a good short-term guide. Hence, we expect strong like-for-like trading to have continued and believe UK like-for-like sales and margin risk is firmly on the upside, offset slightly by potentially slower expansion. As usual, UK upgrades are unlikely until later in the year. Despite Germany’s downside forecast risks and the UK being in a period of transition, we believe Domino’s is capable of generating c.20% earnings growth in 2014E.”

Birmingham restaurateur opens two new concepts at the Cube: Birmingham restaurateur Mike Nayla has invested £800,000 opening two new brands at the city’s Cube complex. Nayla, who opened the Brazilian churrascaria restaurant Rodizio Rico after a £1.6m investment, has opened a French-themed coffee shop, Madeleine, and a burger and shrimp restaurant, Bun & Bowl. Meanwhile, The Master and Margarita, a restaurant and cocktail bar serving authentic Indian cuisine, is confirmed to open on level six in April. Launch plans have not yet been revealed. Of his openings, Nayla said: “The new ventures are a continuation of my investment in Birmingham. I think it is a very neglected city and suffers from the fact that it is often ignored in favour of other destinations. I almost got involved with the Mailbox when that opened but my restaurant plans were not quite ready. So when the opportunity came to establish the outlets in The Cube, I took it.”

Punch Tavern adds two dates to Roadshows attended by 2,500 publicans last year: Punch Taverns has unveiled the date for its industry-leading roadshows, which were attended by almost 2,500 of its licensees last year, 60% of the estate. This year, two more dates have been added. They will be starting on 30 September at the Rainton Meadows Arena in the north east of England and will run up until 30 October, where the series will finish at Wembley Stadium in London. John Healy, Punch’s commercial director said: “Every year, we have seen the Roadshows grow in popularity and footfall. Last year, we celebrated our 10th anniversary and we were delighted to see 60% of our Partners attend, the highest attendance rate on record. By adding two new venues in 2013, we can make the Roadshows more accessible to even more of our Partners.” This year’s Roadshows will continue to include the successful voucher booklet offer and will feature more than a hundred industry-leading suppliers. Partners will also have the chance to meet members of the Punch Taverns team, including the operating board members. The dates are: 30 September, Rainton Meadows Arena, Sunderland; 2 October, Royal Highland Centre, Edinburgh; 7 October, Leeds United FC; 9 October, Chester Racecourse; 14 October, National Motorcycle Museum, Solihull; 16 October, Sandown Park, Surrey; 21 October, Reebok Stadium, Bolton; 23 October, Donington Park, Leicestershire; 28 October, Ashton Gate Stadium, Bristol; 30 October, Wembley Stadium.

Tom Gibson to open Hackney site: Tom Gibson is to re-open the Cat & Mutton on Broadway Market, Hackney, east London in April with food by the barbeque food specialist Licky Chop, run by Ben Denner. Gibson already operates Ruby’s in Dalston, east London. He said he wanted to restore the Cat & Mutton pub to its former glory with the addition of a cocktail lounge on the first floor. The ground floor of the pub, with its vintage mirrors, oak bar and banquet seating, will serve draft ales, beers and a selection of spirits and the first floor will be occupied by Pearl’s, the “little sister” of Ruby’s, an intimate cocktail bar. The menu will include oysters (fresh and smoked); burnt broccoli, yoghurt and pickled mustard seeds; pulled pork roll, American cheese, and coleslaw; bucket of mutton chops, bean salad, mash and mint sauce; smoked haddock, charred leeks, aioli and toast; and rhubarb sorbet with prosecco.

Parched Pubs to open first restaurant in Borough: Parched Pubs, which runs three south London outlets, the Roebuck in Borough, the Montpelier in Peckham Rye and the Railway in Streatham, is opening its first restaurant, Edwins Brasserie, above its Trinity pub in Borough High Street on March 17. Parched Pubs is run by Shane Ranasinghe, Michael Robinson, Isaac Tooby and Neil Watson. In charge of the kitchen will be head chef Selim Massouf, who was previously at the Riding House Cafe in central London and Village East in Bermondsey. The brasserie, which will seat 40, will be following a “seasonal approach to English produce”.

BrewDog to open in former Starbucks in Sheffield on March 8: The Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog will open in Sheffield on March 8, occupying a former Starbucks site with 1,885 sq ft of floor space in Eldon Court, a prime retail parade in the Devonshire Quarter of the city. BrewDog has taken a 20-year lease on the site. James Watt, co-founder of BrewDog, said: “We are really pleased to have found space in Sheffield and are very much looking forward to opening another bar in the north of England. Sheffield has a thriving community for craft brewers and we’re looking forward to being part of this.”

Everyman Cinema signs for iconic Bristol cinema: The retail, leisure and hospitality specialist Insight Retail Consulting has helped to secure the re-opening of an iconic cinema in Bristol more than a decade after the site closed. The Grade II listed ABC cinema site on Whiteladies Road, Clifton, has remained unused since closing in 2001. Insight has now secured the site for the independent group Everyman Cinemas, which will open its first three-screen cinema in the south west next year, complete with a 320-seat auditorium, subject to planning permission. Everyman, which claims a strong ethos for working with communities, currently operates ten luxury cinemas featuring sofa seating, bar and lounge areas and “rustle-free” food, and is set to open two more at the Mailbox in Birmingham later this year, and at Canary Wharf in London later in the near future. Martin Bloom, managing director of Insight Retail Consulting, said the deal represented another stage in the “renaissance” of Whiteladies Road, the firm having already brought Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Canteen brand to the area just over a year ago. “We are working to help restore the vitality of Whiteladies Road as an entertainment and dining-out destination, not just for students and young professionals but also for families,” he said.

Robin Rowland – brand advocacy is the Holy Grail: YO! Sushi’s chief executive, Robin Rowland, whose company was recently voted the UK’s most trusted restaurant brand, has argued that his key customer demographic is searching for brands that are “real”. He told Marketing Week: “There is an intrinsic link between happy teams and happy guests and it is the only way, in today’s world, that you can get brand advocacy – which is the Holy Grail, if you are honest. In our case, it starts with how we recruit people to how we talk to our customers. The new world is around people wanting to be part of a tribe, they want to feel they have an affinity with brands that reflect their values, and it goes beyond repeat business. We appeal to 18 to 35-year-olds and over-index for 25 to 30-year-olds. Those people are at a key point in their lives, in that they are searching for meaning in their own lives, where they want to live, what they want to do. I think they look for brands that are more real and not just delivering a commoditised product.”

Hall & Woodhouse adds murals to its pub exteriors: Dorset brewer Hall & Woodhouse is adding to its growing list of public houses that have become canvases for artwork throughout the south west. Commissions in 2013 included the ship mural on the side of the Sloop in Poole by local sign writer Phil Taylor, and a landscape of Botany Bay on the side of The Botany Bay Inn near Dorchester. Anthony Woodhouse, Hall & Woodhouse’s managing director, said: “We love the idea of using the outside of our public houses as canvases for tasteful and relevant murals which, hopefully, enhance the locality, create points of interest and which the local community enjoy. We started simply by painting public house names on the side of gable ends and walls. Then at the Swan in Newbury we had a bit of fun and turned the ‘S’ of ‘Swan’ into a mural of a black swan. We then went further and commissioned Gordon Toulouse from Creative Signs to create a three-dimensional metal sculpture of a swan that acts as the inn sign. We’ve gradually been growing bolder, with badgers on the side of the Half Moon in Shaftesbury, the gateway to Dorset, and huge chess pieces on the side of The Black Horse in Hookwood.”

Elite Pubs adds sixth site: Elite Pubs has added a sixth pub to its estate, the Poacher, Tudeley, Tonbridge, Kent, acquired through agent Christie + Co off an asking price of £550,000. Elite’s last two pubs have been bought through Christie + Co. Andrew Moore, of Christie + Co in Maidstone, said: “This is Elite Pubs’ tenth year of trading, and what better way to celebrate than with another excellent acquisition.”

US bakery chain Panera Bread sees profits and like-for-likes rise: The US bakery chain Panera Bread Co has reported that profit rose 5.1% in its fourth quarter, which ended on 31 December. Net income rose to $54.2m from $51.6m in the previous year. The company, which owns and franchises 1,777 bakery-cafes, said like-for-like sales across the whole estate rose 1.1% during the quarter. However, like-for-like sales at company-owned units fell about 2.2% in the first 48 days of the first quarter of 2014, Panera said, blaming severe weather for fewer transactions. The company opened 133 new bakery-cafes in the 2013 financial year.

Award-winning fish restaurant plans chain of ten: An award-winning fish restaurant and take-away in north Wales is looking to expand to up to ten outlets, with the first new venue planned to open in Anglesey in May. Enochs, in Llandudno Junction, has bought the former Valley Fish and Chips in Valley, Anglesey. Owner Danny White-Meir said that after a period of establishing the new venue and reviewing its success, new sites would be looked at in an area between Chester and down towards the Llyn Peninsula. He said: “We have had five years of growth at our restaurant in Llandudno Junction and I have always had the ambition of creating a chain of sites. We want our staff to be able to move up within the company and become managers and deputy managers in the future, but at the moment they don’t have this chance to progress. If we expand, then this opens up opportunities to our staff to progress and this will help us retain good people.” Enochs, originally established in 1969 by a local fish merchant, Arthur Enoch Hughes, now employs around 20 staff.

Boutique hotel owners plan ‘breathtaking’ beachside restaurant: The owners of the Grove in Narberth, south west Wales, a highly rated luxury manor house hotel, are planning a “breathtaking” restaurant on the beach at Coppet Hall, near Saundersfoot, Pembrokeshire, 12 miles from their hotel. Neil Kedward, who runs the Grove with his partner Zoe Agar, said the restaurant, called Coast, will “have a glass frontage which wraps right around the curved building so the diners are going to get wonderful views. [It] will offer a unique food experience focused on fabulous Pembrokeshire produce together with unrivalled beach views.” The front terracing being built onto the restaurant will provide seating for up to 80 guests. Inside, the restaurant will seat an additional 60 guests, with a small cafe bar seating 12. Publicist Alexandra Marr said: “This is going to be a breathtaking place to dine, with the restaurant literally right over the sea.” It is hoped Coast will open in the spring.

Ken Hom fronts new Brazil restaurant: Rio de Janeiro saw the opening of the city’s first luxury pan-Asian restaurant this week, fronted by celebrity chef Ken Hom, and based in the Copacabana Palace hotel. Named Mee the phonetic spelling of a female name meaning “beauty” in Korean, the 92-seat restaurant is located by the hotel’s swimming pool and joins Copacabana Palace’s two other food outlets, Hotel Cipriani Restaurant which serves Italian cuisine, and the international eatery Pérgula. Hom said: “I am delighted to be bringing authentic pan-Asian cuisine to Rio de Janeiro. Mee’s innovative menu will use the freshest, finest ingredients to give guests a true taste of eastern gastronomy.”

Nick Goodway – hotels have outperformed pubs since Six Continents demerger: The London Evening Standard columnist Nick Goodway has pointed up the out-performance of hotels over pubs since the demerger of Six Continents just over a decade ago. He wrote: “Last year was the 10th anniversary of the demerger of Six Continents (the unfortunately renamed Bass) into InterContinental Hotels Group and Mitchells & Butlers. It has been an interesting decade in between. M&B has had to battle various corporate raiders and suffered disastrous losses in 2008 after its attempts to hedge funds in an aborted joint property venture led by Robert Tchenguiz. Since the demerger, M&B shares have little more than doubled. That is pretty much in line with the performance of the FTSE 100 since March 2003. By contrast, IHG shares have motored. They have risen more than fivefold and shareholders have also benefited from the later demerger of Britvic, in 2006, whose shares have trebled in value. Richard Solomons, the son of a north London car dealer, who joined IHG in 1992 and became its chief executive three years ago after running both its commercial and then finance department, likes to boast that the group is ‘asset light and brand heavy’. In doing so he continues a long tradition. Today you can count the number of hotels IHG actually owns on the fingers of two hands. So what does the next decade hold? It hurts to say it but global hotel brands still look the long-term winner over British pubs and fizzy drinks.”

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