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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Thu 6th Mar 2014 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Local authorities show little appetite to set licensing fees at Home Office roadshow: The Home Office hosted the first of four roadshows on Tuesday in Manchester to discuss the current consultation on local authorities setting their own licensing fees. John Gaunt, of John Gaunt Solicitors, said: "There were introductory presentations and then ‘break out’ sessions on various aspects of the consultation. What was remarkable was an apparent general unanimity of views across the spectrum. On the part of local authorities, there seems little appetite for the power to set fees locally with all the administration and probable hassle this would bring. The existing system – whilst not perfect – lends certainty and that any proportionate (and reasonable) fee increase should be nationally set on the existing rateable value basis. If this was not politically possible, then local fees should be set against rateable values again for such (relative) certainty, and that variables to increase fees, particularly where the premises are ‘primarily used for drinking’, should not be adopted by reason of difficulty of interpretation. [There was unanimity that] the proposed caps were ineffective as, apart possibly from London authorities, in most cases they were set far too high (but with some exceptions) and there was a real risk that councils, despite every encouragement otherwise, would look to benchmark fees up to the cap, and not in fact based on a detailed cost recovery exercise. Councils expressed considerable nervousness about the calculation of costs recovery and the real risk of challenge.”

Industry News:

Eataly plans Disneyland of food: The Italian foodservice concept Eataly, which is reportedly in negotiation to open at Selfridges in London, is to build a food-themed theme park in Italy. Eataly is partnering with the city of Bologna to open Fico Eataly World. Officials are hoping the joint venture will draw tourist dollars and help stimulate the local economy. Eataly's chief executive, Oscar Farinatti, said he hoped to get 10 million visitors a year to "play with this magical thing, Italian food”. The nearly 20-acre park will build "restaurants, grocery stores, food labs, and an aquarium" on grounds that are currently occupied by unused warehouses. The project has been referred to as a "Disneyland of food". Footing the €40m (£32.8m) bill is an Italian fund-management company that has reportedly raised some €85m in investments, including from Eataly, which current has 10 locations in Italy. The company hopes that by 2019 the park will take in €86m in revenue.
McDonald’s signals increasing pressure in the US to raise wages: McDonald's has said growing concerns over income inequality may force it to raise its wages in the United States. It said the public focus on the issue "may intensify" over the coming months. But the company warned that higher wages might impact its profit margins if it cannot offset them by raising prices as well. Fast food companies in the US have been under increasing pressure to raise wages and workers at various outlets, including McDonald's, have held strikes in recent months. In its annual filing with regulators in the US, McDonald's said the long-term trend was "toward higher wages and social expenses in both mature and developing markets, which may intensify with increasing public focus on matters of income inequality." Fast food workers across the US have been demanding that the minimum wage in the sector should be raised to $15 an hour.
Shoreditch cafe installs bitcoin ATM machine: The Old Shoreditch Station cafe in East London has become the first foodservice venue in the UK to install at bitcoin ATM machine. The café is operated by Jaguar Shoes, an arts collective that has been accepting bitcoin payments for its products since July last year. The ATM is operated by Future Coins, a London-based startup headed by Joel Raziel. He said “I was intrigued when I first saw a bitcoin ATM on display at a conference and was shocked to find that none had appeared in London. I contacted the manufacturer, Lammasu, who told me that they had not received any orders from the UK. It was at this point that I started to cost up the project and move forwards.” The decision by the UK tax authority, HMRC, to classify bitcoins as VAT-exempt was announced on the day Future Coins installed the ATM.

Beer Academy accredits 50th beer sommelier: The Beer Academy has just accredited its 50th sommelier. Three beer advocates, Jonny Tyson, Lisa Wadlow and John Westlake, passed their viva voce examination with Beer Academy chief examiner Alex Barlow to take the number of Beer Academy sommeliers to 50. Beer Academy director Simon Jackson said: “It was just over three years that the first four Beer Academy sommeliers received their stripes in late 2011. Now 50 people have been accredited and the next two assessment sessions are already sold out. This qualification has really caught the imagination of beer lovers, not only in the UK but around the world.”

BISL licensing group to continue: A licensing sub-committee of Business in Sport and Leisure (BISL) is to carry on despite the closure of the parent trade body at the start of this year. Andy Sutch, who previously headed BISL, said: "Business In Licensing will continue to lobby and to offer advice to government around licensing issues to improve the leisure industry’s political, legal and economic environment and to remove red tape, so that the wider leisure sector can grow. It will work alongside the Leisure Jobs Forum (that will continue to look at wage costs, NMW and the emerging low pay agenda, flexible employment and training) to develop and safeguard employment in the sector. It will also work with the Gambling Group and the Sports Group on matters of common interest. Within the leisure sector a very large proportion of the businesses include the sale of alcohol within their offer – either as a primary revenue stream in the case of pubs and bars but also as a very important secondary source of income in casinos and bingo halls, arenas and stadia, cinemas and theatres, visitor attractions and both commercial and voluntary sports clubs and centres. This sector makes a vital contribution to employment, growth and the economy. The Business In Licensing group seeks to embrace this wider leisure licensing agenda – just as it did in its recent representation on the Blackpool EMRO, and ensure its message gets through to Westminster, Whitehall and local government.”
Pubs face annual bill of £122,000 each from the government: Pubs face an annual bill from the government of more than £122,000 each, according to figures published by the British Beer & Pub Association. The figures feature in a new publication, "The Pub Story". Beer and other alcohol duties land a typical pub with an eye-watering cost of £33,000, with business rates coming in at £12,500 per premises. With pubs still under pressure, the BBPA says that as a minimum, a freeze in beer duty in the Budget on 19 March is the most immediate way the government can tackle the problem. Beer accounts for two thirds of all alcoholic drinks sales in pubs, the association says, and pubs have a unique and special link with Britain’s brewing industry, as the route-to-market for Britain’s thousands of iconic, locally produced beers. VAT is £66,000 per pub and a host of other taxes and regulatory costs brings the total bill to £122,200. The BBPA has also asked the government to examine steps it can take to reduce the impact of VAT on the hospitality industry. BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “These new figures show the financial burden that excessive taxes and regulation place on pubs. This government has shown that it understands the scale of the problem, but more action on taxation is needed, and action on beer duty, in the Budget on 19 March, is the best place to start.”
Survey shows surge of independent food businesses opening on high streets: New independent food shops are returning to the high street in the UK to capitalise on the nation’s growing "foodie" population, according to a survey by the business insurance broker Simply Business. The broker analysed more than 40,000 independent retail outlets across the UK and discovered an increase of 27% in independent food merchants year-on-year. This rise of independent food and drink retailers may demonstrate a consumer backlash against national supermarket stalwarts and an increased desire to buy local produce. Small businesses are stepping in to satisfy consumer appetite, as Britons increasingly prefer to shop local and veer away from out-of-town supermarkets. Simply Business also found a 31% rise in bakeries. Jason Stockwood, chief executive of Simply Business, said: “The surge in independent food merchants exemplifies the nimble nature of small businesses as their success is often determined by smartly tapping into growing trends at the right time.”

Company News:

Wetherspoon plans gift card, rebrands as the 'posh pub company': JD Wetherspoon founder Tim Martin has indicated that a gift card is set to be introduced in its pubs. He was responding in the company magazine to a customer complaining that the company’s vouchers are only available by post. The customer said: “We have bought these and received them, but don’t understand why you don’t have a plastic gift card available in all of your lovely pubs which could be topped up in the pub. The vouchers are great gifts, but I feel that many people would choose something else to buy, due to the hassle involved in buying them”. Martin responded: “ Having debated this point, we agree that our current system is far from perfect. We intend to create a gift card system which can be used in our pubs, but it may take some time to organise, since it requires quite a difficult ‘upgrade’ on our EPOS systems.” The company has also adopted a new tagline – 'the posh pub company'.
Jackson & Rye confirms for Union Jacks site in Chiswick: Jackson & Rye, the bar concept backed by sector investor Richard Caring, has confirmed it will open in the premises recently vacated in Chiswick, West London by Jamie Oliver's Union Jacks. The new restaurant will open in June. This will be the second London outlet for Jackson & Rye – the first site is in Wardour Street, Soho. Jackson & Rye takes its inspiration from the cuisine of the US east coast, while its interiors offer dark wood, a large cocktail bar and comfortable banquettes. One review in Metro described the first Jackson & Rye as " a TGI Friday with attitude", while Hardens said it was an "homage to the American dream". The Financial Times described it as "well priced, well executed" and with "generous portions".

Caffe Nero founder Gerry Ford joins Byron board: The founder of Caffe Nero, Gerry Ford, has joined the board of the better burger brand Byron after it was confirmed his private equity firm Paladin invested £5m in the business as part of its £10m acquisition by Hutton Collins. Eric Bellquist, a partner at Hutton Collins, said: “Dr Ford’s experience in multi-site retail roll-outs will complement the management team’s capability and vision, as well as Hutton Collins’s long experience of generating attractive investment returns in the casual dining and leisure sectors. Byron has a clear road map for growth, a talented team in place to deliver it and we welcome Dr Ford to the board.” Paladin also has investments in Caffe Nero, Corbin and King and Domino’s Pizza Poland. 

KFC Christmas advert is cleared by watchdog: A KFC Christmas TV advert accused of mocking Christians has been cleared by the advertising watchdog. The ad prompted 30 complaints over the festive period challenging whether the “all our stupid songs” lyric sung by the KFC choir poked fun at Christian hymns. The contentious line was part of the restaurant’s lighthearted take on the traditional Christmas number one single.?KFC defended the ad, claiming the lyric was a humorous reference to how old people are usually irritated by carol singers. The Advertising Standards Authority concluded the scene was “ironic” and has not caused widespread offence.

Antic gets West Norwood pub licence go-ahead: Antic London, the operator of 30 pubs backed by Downing and led by Anthony Thomas, has been granted a licence to operate a bar and restaurant called Knowles of Norwood from the former This That and The Other store at 294-296 Norwood Road in South London by Lambeth Council's licensing committee. Antic already has planning permission and expects to open the new bar and restaurant in West Norwood town centre before Christmas.

Brunning and Price opens Hampton Court palace pub: Brunning & Price, the gastro-pub brand owned by the Restaurant Group, has re-opened the Mute Swan opposite the gates of Hampton Court Palace, in West London. The new venue is described as English dining pub meets wine bar. The Mute Swan offers a menu of freshly prepared, classic British dishes as well as cask ales, malts, gins, and 50 wines, which people can try on tasting paddles of three 50cl glasses. The venue, which can seat 120 people, offers a curved bar downstairs, which also serves food, a dining room upstairs and an outside terrace for al fresco drinking and eating.

Iconic Cotswolds pub on the market: One of the best-known pubs in the Cotswolds, the Inn at Fossebridge, has been put on the market through Colliers for £1.85m. Current owner Robert Jenkins has decided to sell up after spending nearly 10 years in charge of the 18th century coaching inn. “Age is the main reason why I’m going. I’m 74 now and I’ll be 75 in August. I run another business in London and I feel I’m just getting too old to be in charge of both,” he said. The Inn at Fossebridge, which has nine bedrooms, plus two self-catering cottages and staff accommodation, is on a 3.4 acre site on the banks of the River Coln. The pub, which also houses a 64-seater dining area, was a finalist in the 2011 Taste of Gloucestershire Food and Farming Awards in the Best Pub category.

Fuller’s hires former YO! Sushi marketer’s agency on food brief: Fuller’s Pubs and Hotels has hired a new brand and marketing agency, We are Spectacular, headed by former YO! Sushi marketing chief Mark McCulloch, to oversee a long-term brief to make "Fuller’s even more famous for food". We are Spectacular is charged with leading all brand, marketing and content strategy and execution across the Fuller’s estate. We are Spectacular was founded in January 2013 by McCulloch. The first major push that We Are Spectacular has produced is the "Fresh for Spring" campaign, which celebrates seasonality and the fresh ingredients that feature in Fuller’s spring menus.

Douglas Jack – JD Wetherspoon is investing for the long-term: Numis Securities' leisure analyst Douglas Jack has issued an “add’ note on JD Wetherspoon shares, with a price target of 925p, ahead of the company's half-year results next Friday (14 March). He said: “For the interim results, due on 14 March, we forecast PBT to be up 6% to £37.0m, with earnings up 9%. After 25 weeks, LFL sales were up 5.2% and margins had fallen circa 20bps, partly due to increased repairs, IT and training costs as well as additional operating personnel, ahead of a step-up in expansion. Our 'add' recommendation reflects earnings growth and assumes no further re-rating. The introduction of free coffee refills and extended food trading hours in Q2 has added to the short-term drag on margins through higher labour costs. Management told us in January that if the National Minimum Wage rises by "inflation and a bit" (which it will), the additional cost can be absorbed. 18 new pubs opened in H1, with 40-50 expected to open over the full year. Of these, 65% of sites should be freehold (versus a 44% company average). As a consequence of this, faster expansion and a negative working capital movement, net debt should increase by circa £70m this year. Despite this, interest costs should fall from next year due to maturing swaps (2015E benefit: £5m). Our 12-month price target of 925p, equivalent to 16x P/E on 2015E's earnings, reflects faster expansion and lower swap costs. After these results, the next catalyst should be the National Budget announcement; we would expect JDW to be the greatest beneficiary if there is another cut in beer duty.”
Starbucks launches four new sandwiches on La Boulange menu in the US: Starbucks will be launching four new sandwiches to its La Boulange menu in the United States this month. In an early promotion, select Starbucks locations will offer a free 16oz brewed coffee with the purchase of a breakfast sandwich. The four new items are Vegetable and Fontiago, Egg and Cheddar, Reduced Fat Turkey Bacon and Slow-Roasted Ham and Swiss Croissant. The free coffee offer will be available at participating Starbucks locations between 12 and 14 March. With about half of Starbucks’s sales made before 11am, the new sandwiches come at a time when the coffee chain is trying to defend its turf from increasingly aggressive rivals.

Welsh distiller launches seaweed gin: A Welsh entrepreneur has launched Da Mhile Seaweed Gin, which uses seaweed taken from the beach at New Quay in Ceredigion, West Wales. Every batch is unique since the colour and flavour of seaweed changes with the seasons, according to John Savage-Onstwedder, founder of the Da Mhile Distillery, who said: "Because we're using seaweed, it has a slight saltiness to it and a greenish hue. Seaweed gin is really good with seafood, especially mussels and oysters." The spirit is distilled with herbs and spices and watered down to drinking strength with spring water. Samples of Da Mhile Seaweed Gin have already been sent to Welsh chefs for feedback. Welsh TV chef Dudley Newbery said: "This seaweed gin has very individual characteristics, and can be used in cooking and also served as an iced shot with Menai oysters and mussels, and Penclawdd cockles. If you really want to splash the cash, it will also compliment a few grams of caviar. But we don't produce this in Wales – yet." Savage-Onstwedder said further Welsh-made spirits were on the way: "We've got a vodka coming out soon. We'll also be doing an apple brandy and a Welsh rum. All of these will hopefully be out later this year."
Economic Times – 20 bids for Whyte and Mackay: The Economic Times has reported that 20 bids have been received for United Spirits' Whyte and Mackay scotch whisky business. Diageo-controlled USL has asked potential suitors for the whisky brand to put in two bids, for the business entirely and W&M without Dalmore and Tamnavulin, the two distilleries and brands Diageo wants to retain. Investment bankers say that this sale of assets by W&M is the largest quality scotch stock in at least five years, and comes at a time when demand for premium scotch is on the rise.
Caring secures Berkeley Square site: Restaurateur Richard Caring has acquired a site in Berkeley Square, Central London  for an as-yet-unnamed restaurant project. Caring's Caprice Holdings, which owns the Le Caprice, Ivy and Scott’s restaurants, secured an 8,000 sq ft site at 4-6 Berkeley Square. The agent was Trowers & Hamlins, which previously acted for Caring on the site acquisition of Balthazar in Covent Garden, London last year. 

La Sala seeks sites: La Sala Group Holdings, the company led by James Horler that operates the La Sala restaurant concept, is planning to open around six sites in the next two years. Colliers International has been appointed to look for sites offering more than 6,000 square feet, focused on affluent locations around Essex, Surrey and Hertfordshire. Ross Kirton, Colliers International director of licensed and leisure, said: “Optimum locations and scale are of utmost importance for this project and we are seeking large high profile roadside locations with good car parking, perhaps even allowing for valet parking. We will also consider leasehold projects requiring use class reclassificaion.”
200 Stonegate staff sign up for apprenticeships: More than 200 team members from Stonegate Pub Company have enrolled in the company’s own apprenticeship scheme since its launch in October 2013. Stonegate has introduced a series of apprenticeship schemes for employees that not only match the national apprenticeship framework but offer added extra training and knowledge specific to the company. Lee Woolley, head of learning and development at Stonegate, said: “We are committed to ensuring our employees get the very best training and opportunities within the sector, which is why we have introduced our own Albert Apprenticeship schemes that sit within our training and development framework, Albert’s Pathway, but also include all aspects of the national framework, making it a recognisable qualification industry-wide.”
Wadworth pledges support for flood-hit South West with 5p per pint donation: Wiltshire-based brewer and retailer Wadworth has pledged 5p for every pint sold at 17 of its pubs to the Somerset Community Foundation. The campaign runs from 1 March until 31 May. Wadworth's chairman, Charles Bartholomew, said “It has been a desperate time for the many communities surrounding our pubs, and we wanted to do something to help. Our aim is to not only raise as much money as we can, but to also keep the fundraising efforts of the Somerset Community Foundation in the minds of the public long after the floods have gone.” Paul Sullivan, Wadworth's sales and marketing director, said: “We know that for many of the villages in affected areas their pub is at the heart of their community, which is why it’s so vitally important that we support them as best we can.”
Alan Yau gastro-pub set for June opening: Wagamama founder Alan Yau’s long-awaited Chinese gastro-pub, Duck & Rice, occupying the site of the former Endurance pub on Berwick Street in Soho, Central London, is expected to open in June, according to restaurant consultant Adam Hyman. Yau, asked at the European Foodservice Summit about how he perceived "risk" in opening new brands, said: “For me, risk is not risk once I have all the facets within the idea. And I can’t bring a concept alive until I have the full picture.”
St Austell places pub on the market: The Cornwall brewer and retailer St Austell has placed the Angarrack Inn, Hayle on the market after former tenants took on the running of another pub within the chain. A brewery spokesman said: "The business has been struggling for the last couple of years now. We don't like selling anything but if we, or more specifically our tenants, can't make a living wage, then it's not a business we are going to keep in the long run. We have taken the decision to move on and let someone else take up the opportunity."
Marston’s to open new-build pub in Fleetwood on 17 March: Brewer and retailer Marston’s will open a new-build pub restaurant in Fleetwood, Lancashire, the 180-cover Three Lights pub. It is located on the corner of Amounderness Way and Herring Arm Way and will create 50 new jobs. The pub will offer a daily carvery freshly prepared, alongside an extensive menu.

£12m boutique hotel in Belfast gets go-ahead: Plans to transform a landmark building in Belfast city centre into a boutique hotel have been given the green light. Environment Minister Mark Durkan has recommended planning approval for a £12m revamp of the 100-year-old Scottish Mutual Building, which sits on the corner of Bedford Street and Donegall Square behind the City Hall. It if believed the development of the 40-bedroom hotel will create 180 full and part-time jobs. The company behind the proposal is Tullymore House, which owns and runs the Galgorm Resort and Spa in Ballymena. The building was purchased for an undisclosed sum, though the National Asset Management Agency had put the building on sale for £1.75m.

Small brewer Castle Rock hails big brewer Fuller’s: Fuller, Smith & Turner of London has been named Brewer of the Year 2013-14 by Castle Rock Brewery of Nottingham. The industry awards are chosen by the staff of Castle Rock, with the award being presented by the directors. Fuller’s national account manager, Sean Griffiths, who attended the event to collect the award, said: “It’s fantastic to attend these events and see that Fuller’s is up there with the world’s great brands. Fuller’s is very much a London brewer and to be recognised by northern breweries like Castle Rock shows how far our great beer and heritage can reach.”

Former KFC manager opens Indian deli concept: A former KFC manager, Swapnil Pradhan, has opened a new concept, the Bombay Street Indian deli and cafe in Bank Street, Ashford, Kent. Pradhan said: “I’ve always wanted to do this. I started cooking when I was 13, just home-cooked foods like rice and curry, as well as some Chinese food like noodles and fried rice. There’s so much more to Indian food than the type of dishes you find in takeaways. It’s perhaps not always as spicy, but it has layers of flavour. And home-cooked food in India is like home-cooked food anywhere, there has to be love and passion behind its preparation.”

Punch Taverns reiterates administrative receivership warning: Punch Taverns issued a formal stock market notice yesterday reiterating its warning of last week that the company faces administrative receivership if an agreement is not reached with bondholders on restructuring its debt. The company said: “Punch Taverns Finance plc and Punch Taverns Finance B Limited wish to highlight that, as set out in the announcement (of 28 February), the absence of a consensual restructuring in the near-term will result in a default in both the Punch A and Punch B securitisations." A default would be expected to culminate in the appointment of an administrative receiver at the borrower level, and "the issuers believe that this would result in a materially worse outcome for all stakeholders (including bondholders) than would be achieved by the agreement of a consensual restructuring. Against this backdrop, the Issuers are aiming to agree the terms of a consensual restructuring with their key stakeholders over the next few weeks in order to be able to document and formally launch a revised proposal ahead of the next financial covenant reporting date of 15 April 2014. Negotiation of the restructuring with key stakeholders and their advisors will be facilitated by Punch's advisers. The issuers urge bondholder groups and other stakeholders to engage actively with Punch's advisers and each other in order to reach a consensual deal in the timeline set out above.”

Cotswold pub sells off £625,000 asking price: The property agent Colliers has sold the eight-bedroom Seagrave Arms in Weston-sub-Edge, near Chipping Campden, to a private buyer off a guide price of £625,000 freehold. Hotels director Peter Brunt said: “Our clients bought the property from a pub company and it was something of a wreck when they took it on. They re-opened the business in July 2010 and their vision and attention to detail has produced a lovely business that is easy to take over and continue to trade.”
Disused seafront toilet block to become Moroccan restaurant: A disused toilet block on the seafront at Westward Ho! in Devon is to be turned into a Moroccan restaurant. The toilet block, on the village’s promenade, was bought at auction by Bideford resident Jaouad Bouzoubaa in September last year for £41,000, more than four times the starting price. Plans now approved by Torridge Council will see the former men's and women's public conveniences in Ennisfarne Road transformed into a Moroccan-style cafe with an impressive roof terrace looking out over the beach and sea.

Wentworth Pubs re-open second Punch pub after refurbishment: The north west of England pub operator Wentworth Pubs and Dining has re-opened the second of the pubs it leases from Punch Taverns, The Lady Hamilton in Little Neston, Cheshire, after a two-week £160,000 co-investment. Ian Mitty, a former BRM with Punch who set up Wentworth Pubs last year, said: “This is our second Punch pub and, considering its location, we could see its potential to be at the heart of the local community. We wanted to maximise the fantastic beer garden and improvements have been made throughout to take advantage of this and make it more family-friendly. Since we took it on in December, we have introduced food, which has really taken off.” Punch Taverns’ partnership development manager Trevor Strickle, said: “It’s great that Punch can invest in our pubs and we essentially want to re-establish The Lady Hamilton as one of the leading pubs in Little Neston and the surrounding areas.”

Oxford Business College buys lease on the city’s Euro Bar and Hotel: Oxford Business College has bought the lease on the Euro Bar Hotel, which has 13-bedrooms on Oxford’s George Street through agent Fleurets. The venue was sold by the O’Boyle family, which had operated it for more than 25 years. Chris Irving, from Fleurets, said: “Due to the location and the desirability of letting rooms in central Oxford, we expected strong demand when we launched the marketing off a guide price of £190,000. The marketing generated considerable interest and a sale was agreed to the Oxford Business College in excess of the guide price.”

Thwaites offers to pay 50% subsidy to pubs looking to achieve Cask Marque status: Northern brewer Thwaites has launched a new initiative which is set to help pubs across its 300-strong estate and free trade achieve prestigious Cask Marque status. The ‘Step Up To Cask Marque’ campaign, which launched this month, will see Thwaites contribute half the fee required to achieve recognition from Cask Marque. Pubs looking to gain accreditation simply have to stock the brewer’s flagship brew, Wainwright, which is now one of the UK’s top twenty best-selling cask ales. Alastair Macnaught, Cask Marque operations manager, said: “Gaining an independent award helps to push home the message that customers will return time and time again to pubs serving ale with the highest standards and there is no better way of displaying your commitment to cask ale than displaying the Cask Marque plaque outside your pub.”
Shepherd Neame reports managed likes-for-likes up 7.5%: The Faversham-based brewer and retailer Shepherd Neame has reported turnover up 4.7% to £72.5m (2012: £69.2m) in the 26 weeks ended 28 December 2013. Managed house like-for-like sales were up 7.5%, with liquor up 6.8%, food up 8.4% and accommodation up 8.8%. Tenanted like-for-like ebitdar was up 1.5% and average ebitdar per pub up 4.4%. Statutory profit before tax was £4.1m (2012: £4.5m) after a £500,000 business re-organisation exceptional item. Chief executive Jonathan Neame said: "I am pleased to report a strong trading performance in all areas of the business, which shows the benefit of investing consistently in our pubs and brands over many years. Our tenanted, managed pubs and hotels and core brands have all accelerated their rate of growth during this period. We believe our business is in a strong position to continue to benefit from any further improvement in the economy."

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