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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Fri 7th Mar 2014 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

New crowdfunding rules, to apply from next month, will limit amount of personal wealth invested: New crowdfunding rules from the City regulator, coming into force next month, will guide investors to put no more than 10% of their money into high-risk crowdfunding websites. The new regulations are aimed at ensuring “better protection” for investors, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said. Crowdfunding websites are still a relatively new form of investing and, by definition, involves high-risk lending to unproven companies. They have proven a popular way for new foodservice companies to obtain funding. From April, those investing into crowdfunding projects will have to confirm that they are not using any more than 10% of their assets, excluding property and pensions – this is likely to take the form of a simple tick-box on the sign-up page. Those who declare themselves as experienced crowdfunding investors will not be prescribed any limit. The new FCA regulations also cover so-called peer-to-peer lending, where companies such as Zopa link savers, or “lenders”, directly with borrowers in exchange for a cut of the interest. Christopher Woolard, director of policy, risk and research at the FCA, said: “We want to ensure that consumers are appropriately protected – but not prevented from investing. We have been careful to listen to feedback from the market and the rules provide consumer protection, whilst allowing businesses to continue to have access to this innovative method of funding.” Christine Farnish, chairman of the Peer-to-peer Finance Association trade body, said: “We are pleased that the FCA is taking a proportionate approach to the regulation of peer-to-peer lending. (The new rules) strikes the right balance between promoting innovation whilst not exposing consumers to significant risk.”

Industry News:

West End landlord Shaftesbury acquires extra 13,700 sq ft of restaurant and bar space: Shaftesbury, the owner of property in Soho and the West End of London, has acquired 13,700 square feet of additional West End restaurant and bar space. The company has paid £54.4m to acquire a long leasehold interest in the commercial elements of the Newport Sandringham development on the eastern boundary of the company’s extensive holdings in Chinatown, Soho, London. The total space is 49,000 sq ft and the current rental income is £1.4m. Shaftesbury said: “The current net rental income of £1.4m reflects the short-term occupational leases and licences which are currently in place, and the high level of non-recoverable property costs which arise as a result of these arrangements. The directors believe there is considerable potential, subject to obtaining planning and other consents, to materially improve the property’s current net rental income and capital value, through reconfiguring and refurbishing internal space, re-letting on conventional lease terms, improving the external appearance of the building and supporting public realm improvements in the immediate vicinity. The capital expenditure to achieve these improvements over a three-year period is not expected to exceed £10m. Newport Sandringham has a substantial Charing Cross Road frontage, which is expected to benefit from increased footfall and investment arising from the reconstruction of Tottenham Court Road station, to the north, which is expected to become the West End’s busiest Crossrail interchange and transport hub.” The company is placing up to 25.25m new ordinary shares at 25p each to fund the deal. Nik Batram, leisure analyst at Peel Hunt, said: “(The) placing is expected to raise circa £160m at a tight discount to the share price. The proceeds will be used to fund a £54m acquisition as well as potential further purchases and redevelopments, preserving Shaftesbury’s competitive advantage to acquire, but leaves circa £185m of firepower.”

Plan to turn vaults of Bolton shopping centre into restaurants and bars: Detailed plans have been submitted to turn the vaults of the Market Place shopping centre in Bolton into bars and restaurants. The owner of the complex, Moorgarth, has already received permission to build a new nine-screen cinema within the current car park, and an operator, The Light Cinema, was confirmed last month. The chief executive of Moorgarth, Tim Vaughan, said: “The addition of family-friendly restaurants, licensed bars and, of course, our recently approved nine-screen independently operated cinema in this beautiful building is a fresh and exciting way to create an event-based destination.”

Panda plans big Mexico expansion: Panda Restaurant Group of the United States expects to open more than 250 Panda Express fast-food restaurants in Mexico by 2021, the company said. The buffet-style chain currently runs 18 restaurants in Mexico, and expects to open at least ten more by the end of this year, spokeswoman Thien Ho said. “Mexico is the most natural expansion for us due to its proximity,” Ho said. “It allows us to set up stores quickly, and travel back and forth very quickly.” The company, based in California, which has operated in Mexico with its franchise partner Grupo Gigante since 2011, currently operates more than 1,650 restaurants in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Los Angeles bans e-cigarettes in restaurants: Los Angeles has joined a growing list of cities that treat e-cigarettes just the same as regular cigarettes, banning their use in parks, restaurants and most workplaces. The decision came after an impassioned and at times highly personal debate at the City Council that highlighted the backlash that the smokeless cigarettes have generated as their popularity grows. Critics warn that the electronic devices, which produce a nicotine-laced vapour inhaled by users, could pave the way for a resurgence in tobacco use among young adults.

Customs officials seize record haul of illegal alcohol and tobacco: UK customer officials seized and poured down the drain more than 16 million pints of beer last year. Despite customs officers claiming the record haul from smugglers the government estimates it is still being cheated out of £7m a day in duty for smuggled alcohol and tobacco. Smugglers were caught with 1.9 billion cigarettes, 2.8 million litres of wine, 624,000 litres of spirits and 9.4 million litres of beer. The illegal alcohol haul is held in storage before the containers are crushed and the contents flushed down the drain, as it is considered unsafe to allow it on to the market. Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, said: “It is legitimate traders and not just the Treasury, that suffer as a result of this sort of fraud.”

Research finds 96% of pubs raise money for charity: A survey conducted on behalf of PubAid has found 96% of UK pubs raise money for charity. The poll of more than 1,300 licensees found the percentage had increased from 86% in 2011. The latest study comes after research that showed pubs and their customers in the UK raised more than £106m for charity in the last year, up from just over £101m in 2010, representing a rise of nearly 5% in giving.

Top ten managed pub companies to take on more than 9,000 apprentices in 2014: The top ten managed pub operators are to employ more than 9,000 apprenticeships during 2014. A survey of the top ten managed operators, conducted by the Pub and Bar Careers Perceptions Group, found that the number of apprenticeships had doubled since last year. In 2013, the ten pub companies employed 4,300 apprentices, against 9,056 in 2014. Anthony Pender, vice-chairman of the Perceptions Group and managing director of the Yummy Pub Company, said: “This demonstrates the huge investment that the pub and bar sector makes each year in developing young people. It is brilliant to reveal that 9,056 apprenticeships are offered by just a small proportion of the sector. Smaller operators are keen to get involved with apprenticeship schemes if the funding were available. It is clearer than ever that the sector is keen to employ ambitious and motivated young people like graduates from apprenticeships and the Pub & Bar Careers programme.” Spirit Pub Company announced yesterday that it is looking to double the number of management apprenticeships over the coming 12 months. With currently over 900 apprentices in learning across the suite of five apprenticeships on offer, Spirit plans to increase the number of management apprentices by 500 over the next year this is in addition to the current 330 team leader and 120 advanced apprentices currently enrolled in leadership and management so far this year.

Lambeth decides against EMRO: Lambeth Borough Council has decided against introducing an Early Morning Restriction Order in Clapham. The council consulted on a proposed EMRO to cover the junction of Wandsworth Road and North Street with a terminal hour of midnight. The council has indicated that it will review the decision in six months time. ALMR Strategic Affairs Director, Kate Nicholls said: “We are obviously very pleased that the council has seen common sense and not sought to penalise operators with a restriction that is tantamount to an ASBO for the area. The introduction of an EMRO would have undermined support for a Clapham Business Improvement District and would have only imposed unnecessary sanctions which would have done nothing positive to solve any problems in the area. The ALMR has consistently reiterated its belief that Licensing Authorities should look to exhaust all voluntary schemes before resorting to an EMRO, which should only be considered when all else fails. We have seen levels of crime descending to all time lows, particularly anti-social behaviour offences around licensed premises. The rejection of this EMRO ensures that hard-working retailers in Clapham can continue to explore ways to encourage responsible drinking themselves as well as allowing them to operate on a level playing field.”

Company News:

Former Mitchells & Butlers executive to advise Artisan Burger Company: Steve Cash, a former brands operations director with Mitchells & Butlers (M&B), is to take on an advisory and strategic role with the fledgling burger brand Artisan Burger Company, which is currently seeking crowd-funding through Crowdcube. Cash stepped down as brands operations director for Harvester and Miller and Carter at the end of last year after 33 years with M&B and its predecessors. Artisan’s co-founder, Rav Singh, said: “We are thrilled to be working with Steve. He’s had a distinguished career with M&B and brings a wealth of experience both in strategic and operational terms and we believe this completes the skill set required around the table. Steve has agreed to help guide us through the most crucial stage as we gear up to open our first of four sites in London. We share the same vision and values, his knowledge and experience in multi-site openings across the UK is invaluable, we are very excited to have him onboard.” Artisan Burger Company held a “meet the founders” event on Monday at the Cinnamon Club in central London. The Cinnamon Club’s executive chef, Vivek Singh, said: “I’ve had the pleasure of trying several of the burgers made by the Artisan team, and each one is equally delicious and unique, with their bold and inventive flavours.” Artisan Burger Company has signed an exclusive supply deal with the Cotswold Cider Company, a producer of natural real ciders.

Wetherspoon took steps at service station pub to minimise alcohol impact: JD Wetherspoon took additional steps at its controversial M40 motorway service station pub, The Hope and Champion, to minimise the impact of alcohol being easily available. The company included the national Drink Drive Awareness logos on its menus which will be on every table, as well as redesigning its menus to remove any alcohol promotions. Wetherspoon’s club meals are available only with non-alcoholic drink options. The company is also displaying additional Drink Drive Awareness information around the pub. In addition, Wetherspoon has reduced the price of its soft drinks to significantly lower than in the rest of the estate, to ensure that they are competitively priced within the service station.

Stonegate to relaunch Liverpool Reflex with a tuckshop offer: Stonegate Pub Company will relaunch its 1980s nostalgia brand Reflex in Liverpool with a tuck shop featuring a range of retro sweets. The venue will reopen on Friday, 14 March and new entertainment will include Baywatch boys and girls on Friday and Saturday nights as well as a troupe of dancers who will showcase the dance routines from all the 80s classics. The venue will also offer Roller Disco parties during the day, a range of party packages including the “Top Gun” and cocktail master classes. General manager Matt Case-Upton said: “This is going to be a massive boost for the venue. We will be serving cocktails in Rubix Cubes as well as offering a range of soda stream cocktails. Customers will also get a chance to attend cocktail masterclasses where they will learn to flair. Everyone working at the site is really excited about the new offer.”

Glendola Leisure makes £1m Glasgow investment: Waxy O’Connor’s operator Glendola Leisure, headed by Alex Salussolia, has lined up a £1m investment to create two venues at the city’s Central Station. The company is opening an artisan coffee shop next to the main entrance on Gordon Street and a steak restaurant downstairs. Gordon Street Cafe will roast beans on site and look to entice train travellers with sandwiches, pastries and fresh coffee, while Alston Bar & Beef will offer a range of cuts as well as what the operator said will be the largest collection of Scottish gins under one roof. Besides specialising in locally made gin, the restaurant will buy its beef from Scottish producers and offer dishes inspired by ingredients sourced in Scotland. The cafe, which was most recently occupied by high street retailer Boots, will offer seating on two floors and an outdoor area. It will market its very own blend, the Glasgow Roast, “created to complement the vibrant character of the city’s residents”. Salussolia said: “The station presents a fantastic opportunity to create two unique venues and the footfall passing through the Gordon Street entrance makes the location particularly attractive for us. We already run three successful businesses in Glasgow and one in Edinburgh and are very much looking forward to our new venture. It is our intention to create two businesses that will fill the gaps in the station’s current offering. We want to build somewhere that will be an attractive destination for commuters and those using the station, and another venue for customers looking to enjoy quality food and drink in a contemporary and stylish bar and restaurant environment.”

M&B’s O’Neill’s brand campaigns to make St Patrick’s Day a GB national holiday: Mitchells & Butler’s O’Neill’s chain has launched an online petition to make St Patrick’s Day, 17 March, a national holiday in Great Britain. Almost three quarters of the British public say they would leap at the chance to get a bank holiday to celebrate Ireland’s patron saint. Westlife star Nicky Byrne said: “For the millions of Irish across the globe I urge you to support O’Neill’s’ bid to make St Patrick’s Day a national holiday, no matter where you’re from.” While just 4% of those polled by O’Neill’s were Irish, over a third said they celebrate St Patrick’s Day each year, with one in- five doing so by paying a visit to the pub. In London and the North East of England, St Patrick’s Day is celebrated by 48% and 41% respectively. Meanwhile, more than a quarter of men polled said they will drink a pint of Guinness on March 17 this year and two thirds of 18 to 24-year-olds said they will be marking the occasion. O’Neill’s alone sold more than 50,000 pints of Guinness at its 48 British venues on St Patrick’s Day in 2013.

Bill’s set to open in beer supplier’s pub in Eastbourne, targets opening in Newbury, Berkshire: Bill’s, the restaurant chain owned by sector investor Richard Caring, is set to open in a pub owned by its beer supplier, Harvey’s of Lewes. The brand has leased the former Terminus pub in the centre Eastbourne and should open before Easter – it will its 35th site. Matt Porter at Teague & Capital brokered the deal. Meanwhile, Bill’s has applied to convert an estate agent’s office in Newbury Market Place, Berkshire to a restaurant. If approved, the ground floor of the restaurant could cater for up to 134 people, plus 34 outside, while the first floor would have a function room, staff facilities, storage and customer toilets. A formal date for the opening, subject to permission, has not yet been confirmed. However a spokesperson for the chain said it was hoped to be open by early autumn.

Greene King wins planning consent for new Hungry Horse on outskirts of Norwich: A new 204-cover Greene King Hungry Horse pub-restaurant is to be built at Broadland Business Park on the outskirts of Norwich, creating about 40 jobs. The scheme won the backing of planners despite opposition from other food and drink businesses in the area. An application for a two-storey restaurant/public house on land at Old Chapel Way, Postwick, part of Broadland Business Park, had been submitted to Broadland Council by Lothbury Property Trust. The council’s planning committee unanimously voted in favour of the recommendation to approve the application which also includes manager’s and deputy manager’s flats, a play area, 75 car parking spaces, motorcycle parking, cycle parking and landscaping.

Glasgow’s The Arches faces licence review: The nightclub where a schoolgirl collapsed before her drug-related death faces potential closure as early as next weekend. The licensing authority in Glasgow will decide on the fate of The Arches on 14 March, six weeks after the death of 17-year-old Regane MacColl. The range of sanctions includes shutting down the venue. It follows a request by Police Scotland for a review of the venue’s licence. The Arches also houses an acclaimed arts venue, which, although part-funded by the public purse, relies on cash from its nightclub for the bulk of its revenue.

More details emerge on Soho House’s Chicago opening, with Pizza East and Chicken Shop to feature: More details have emerged on Soho House’s planned summer opening in the old Chicago Belting Factory in Chicago. The hotel will have three restaurants and bars available to the public on the ground floor, two street-facing restaurant concepts imported from London and one bar and lounge. Pizza East will bake “ciabatta-style” pizzas in wood-burning ovens in an open kitchen, Chicken Shop focuses on rotisserie chickens, and Allis Bar, named for the family that owned the factory, will feature “a well-edited selection of wine, craft beers, and finely made cocktails”. There will be two other areas only for Soho House members and hotel guests: a “club floor” with a drawing room, pantry bar, club bar and house kitchen and grill; and a rooftop bar and kitchen with an 80-foot swimming pool.

Malmaison founder gets go-ahead for £12m boutique hotel and restaurant in Leeds: Plans by Malmaison creator Ken McCulloch for a £12m hotel on the site of a decommissioned 1970s car park in Leeds city centre have been given the go-ahead. The site of the “mechanical stacker” car park in Greek Street will house a ten-storey 90-bedroom hotel run by the boutique brand Dakota, the brainchild of McCulloch. The developer, the Evans Property Group, wants to demolish the 220-space disused car park as part of a £20m overhaul of its assets in the Bond Court area, which include Minerva House and Capitol House. The planning approval from Leeds Council’s city plans panel means the car park and the adjacent single-storey Akbar’s restaurant building can now be demolished. The project includes a basement-level restaurant to be accessed off Greek Street and a ground floor bar and terrace area.

Hakkasan Las Vegas wins nightclub of the year award: Hakkasan Las Vegas, which offer a Hakkasan restaurant and nightclub experience under one roof, has been named Las Vegas Nightclub of the Year by Nightclub & Bar Media Group in the United States. Jon Taffer, president of Nightclub & Bar Media Group, said: “Hakkasan continues to turn heads in its remarkable inaugural year and is truly an exemplary and progressive establishment in our industry.”

Spirit’s Flaming Grill brand launches crowd-sourced burger competition: Spirit’s Flaming Grill brand has launched a competition to create a “crowd-sourced burger”. The chain is giving customers the opportunity to create their “ultimate dream burger”, which, if chosen, will feature in Flaming Grill pubs in time for the World Cup in June. Entrants will be encouraged to use a selection of ingredients, from wild boar and pineapple to lamb and brie, to help design a new burger creation. Five finalists will win a family meal at their local pub before going into a nationwide vote on the Flaming Grill Facebook page. The overall winner will win £500 in cash and see their burger creation on the menu in 93 pubs across the country as part of Flaming Grill’s Summer Burger Festival, running from June to July. The competition closes on Friday 14 March.

YO! Sushi secures Baker Street site: YO! Sushi has secured another London site, taking over the former L’Ulivo restaurant in Baker Street, central London. L’Ulivo has two other London restaurants, one in Irvine Street in Leicester Square, and one on Villiers Street in Charing Cross. The property agent CDG Leisure negotiated a surrender and re-grant of a new lease to YO! Sushi from Transport for London. The 3,000 sq ft site is split into a ground floor and basement. The premium was thought to be in the region of £350,000, with a passing rent of £107,000 a year. Less than a week ago the chain secured a venue in South Kensington.

Burger Bear passes £30,000 target on Kickstarter: Burger Bear, the East London street food operator, has passed its target to raise £30,000 on the crowdfunding website Kickstarter with ten days to go. The cash is being raised to build a burger joint in a double-decker shipping container, largely from second-hand, reclaimed materials, at Red Market in Rivington Street, Shoreditch, East London to provide a permanent “Burger Bear HQ”. The Kickstarter appeal attracted more than 480 pledgers, including one who pledged £2,000 and will be entitled to a Burger Bear barbecue in their home. Burger Bear founder Tom Reaney said of the decision to raise cash though Kickstarter: “We need to grow if Burger Bear is to survive as a brand. We can’t survive on the streets alone. Rather than looking for private investors, banks or similar we want to grow organically.”

Second 360 Circle Champagne bar planned for Manchester: A second 360 Circle champagne bar is planned at the Trafford Centre in Manchester. There is one already inside the food court at the Intu Trafford Centre. There are four other 360 bars at shopping centres across the UK, and four more planned in 2014. The second Trafford Centre outpost, to open in April, in the area just outside John Lewis inside the mall. The bar serves a host of top champagne brands by the glass, as well as cava, Prosecco and cocktails. Circle co-owner Norris Panton said: “360 has been a huge success, because we offer shoppers the opportunity to sit down, take a break and have a little bit of luxury. It’s a little bit of the high life and it particularly appeals to the female market, with seven out of ten of our customers women. But what we’ve found is that there’s a huge number of shoppers who come here just to go to John Lewis who don’t ever venture up as far as here, which is why we decided to open a bar right outside John Lewis too.”

Ex-Marco Pierre White gastropub acquired by Sussex operators: The operators behind The Royal Oak in Poynings and The Fountain in Ashurst, Sussex have acquired The Rainbow Inn in Cooksbridge, Sussex, which was briefly part of Marco Pierre White’s Wheeler’s of St James’s chain. White entered into a partnership with the then owners of the Rainbow in January 2012, but quit and withdrew the Wheeler’s branding in October that year amid claims that the menu, including steak with garlic snails at £22.50 a pop, was too much for locals. It has now been acquired by Paul Day and Lewis Robinson, who also run the Royal Oak and the Fountain, after leisure property specialist Fleurets marketed the leasehold at an asking price of £95,000. Day and Robinson said: “The emphasis will be very much on simple, quality dining based on classic pub staples with some more adventurous offerings. We very much want to maintain the ‘country inn’ atmosphere of the Rainbow Inn and drinkers in the bar areas will be made to feel very welcome at all times.”

Warrington multi-site retailer to co-invest with Star Pubs & Bars: Neil Sparkes, who operates four pubs in Warrington, is to co-invest £220,0000 with Star Pubs & Bars in his fifth site, The White Hart, transforming it into “one of the best food pubs in the area” offering great cask ale and coffee. Sparkes is investing £45,000 of the total in fixtures and fittings. He said: “It has been run under temporary management for many years during which it has become tired and rundown. All it lacked was investment and to offer the people of Warrington what they want from a town centre pub – good food, good beer and great tea and coffee throughout the day and evening.” 

Pub/restaurant and coffee shop approved for Yeovil: Plans for a family pub and restaurant, a drive-through coffee shop and a discount supermarket on a disused engineering site in West Hendford, Yeovil have been approved by South Somerset Council. The plans were submitted by a local developer, Abbey Manor Capital Partners, which told Propel Info it was working on behalf of a specific operator, but declined to reveal the name. According to The Western Gazette newspaper, rumours were rife when the application was first submitted in September last year that Aldi and Costa Coffee were among those hoping to move onto the site. In September, Abbey Manor Capital Partners told The Gazette: “This opportunity has presented the chance to regenerate disused land within Yeovil – improving the quality of this area for residents and visitors by creating a new family restaurant/pub and coffee house, improving residents’ choice in amenity shops, and regenerating an area of land currently in poor condition.” The site is close to a McDonald’s restaurant.

Castle Rock to launch avant-garde beers: Castle Rock Brewery in Nottingham, best known for brewing Harvest Pale, a former Champion Beer of Britain, is set to release the first of a series of beers called Traffic Street Specials. The range will reflect the experimental side of the brewery and will be made using its five-barrel fermenting vessel, which was acquired last year. The first Traffic Street Special is called “Stereotype” and is a very well-hopped, unfined India Pale Ale. Colin Wilde, managing director of Castle Rock, said: “The smaller fermenting length allows us to push some brewing boundaries and truly create some exclusivity around this exciting series of beers. Traffic Street Specials will be in cask initially, with plans to make them available in keg too. Our retail experience shows that there is not just a swing back to the beer as a category but that new sub-categories have been created within it. The modern beer drinking consumer is much more experimental than ever before; they are demanding, radical and are more prepared to seek out extreme flavours, and brewers need to be responsive by adopting an avant-garde approach.”

Hampshire’s first micropub opens: The first micropub in Hampshire has opened, in the Bitterne Park Triangle area of Southampton. The Butcher’s Hook, in Manor Farm Road, measures 12 feet by 27 feet and occupies premises that were previously a butcher’s, a florist and a picture framer’s. It has been started by locals Anthony Nicholls, 31, and Daniel Richardson, 28, who have put £8,000 into the venture, and want the Butcher’s Hook to focus on selling real ales and craft beer brewed in Hampshire. Nicholls said: “A year ago I went down to Kent and went into a micropub. It had a really nice, friendly atmosphere. Later we saw this property come up in the Triangle, and as we are both positive about beer we thought it was ideal. We did some research to see if people would want a micropub in the Triangle and we found out that a lot of people were very enthusiastic. Micropubs have a tradition of making a nod to what the pub originally was, and we are keeping a lot of the tilework and keeping a sort of butcher’s theme.”

AB InBev aiming at ‘university crowd and Shoreditch trendsetters’ with rum-flavoured beer: AB InBev is targeting what it calls “tech-savvy trendsetters” aged between 18 and 25 with its new rum-flavoured beer, Cubanisto, due to be launched in the UK on March 24. The 5.9% ABV beer will be available in the on and off-trade in 330ml bottles. It mixes rum flavour with citrus, orange zest and lime and has the aroma of caramelised cane sugar and treacle, the brewer says. The launch is AB InBev’s attempt to challenge Heineken’s Desperados brand’s dominance of the growing spirit beer market. The tequila-flavoured beer, launched in 2011, accounts for around two thirds of a market currently worth £30m, according to IRI. The campaign, developed by the ad agency Ralph, focuses on inviting drinkers to exclusive parties in return for supporting the brand online and following its network of influencers from the creative industry. The events include nightclubs and secret pop-up events which will feature live art performances, to create a “trendier” brand experience. Content from the events will be posted on Twitter and YouTube while tickets will be made available through Facebook. Fans will be invited to join the network of Cubanisto advocates as the campaign progresses in an effort to “accelerate buzz”. Emily Kraftman, senior brand manager for Cubanisto, told Marketing Week that rum was chosen as the mixer because it was the best performing spirit in the UK between 2012 and 2013. She said: “We really want consumers to connect differently with Cubanisto and so focused on crafting these theatrical experiences where it feels like they’ve discovered something new for themselves.”

Craft beer online sales in triple-digit growth: An online craft beer vendor has reported that demand is in triple-digit growth. Paul Kruzycki, managing director of Ales by Mail, said: “For the past two years we’ve enjoyed steady growth, but in second half of 2013 and the first part of 2014, demand for beer online has been in treble-digit growth. This has been fuelled by two factors: first we’re working with some of the best brewers in the UK, so the range we offer the consumer is fantastic. Second, consumer’s interest in craft beer seems to show no sign of slowing down – they want to try beers from these great brewers around the UK and we offer them a conduit to do so. Based on discussions we’re having with brewers at the moment, it would appear that more and more are seeing the potential benefit that bolting on a mail order element to their business can present – particularly via a partner such as us, where they can hand over the entire supply chain.”

McDonald’s UK introduces free fruit on Fridays: McDonald’s UK is introducing “Free Fruit Fridays” to help children on their way to five-a-day on the first Friday of each month. On Free Fruit Fridays, McDonald’s will be trying to boost its healthy eating credentials by handing out a free fruit bag with every Happy Meal purchased. McDonald’s, which was the first UK restaurant to offer fruit bags over ten years ago, has seen a decline in numbers of fruit bags sold in recent year Free Fruit Fridays is a long-term campaign which the company hopes will encourage millions of children to eat and enjoy five-a-day. It is estimated the free fruit bag, will account for more than half (52%) of all children’s fruit bags sold in the UK on that day. The launch of the campaign comes as official government figures reveal that people are finding it harder than ever to eat their recommended five daily portions of fruit and vegetables. The launch of Free Fruit Friday follows a similar campaign run by McDonald’s in France which launched in 2010. While overall purchases of fruit in France were declining by 5%, McDonald’s saw a 19% increase in Happy Meal fruit orders outside of Crunchy Wednesdays between October 2011 and April 2012. In France today, more than half of the fruit consumed by kids aged between three and eight in the restaurant industry is eaten at McDonald’s. The first free fruit bag on offer from McDonald’s UK will be apple and grape and by the end of 2014, McDonald’s expects to have handed out the equivalent of more than 3.5 million apples and over 23 million grapes free of charge to Happy Meal customers. The free fruit bag will be available after 10.30am. In the US, McDonald’s will provide fruit or vegetables with every Happy Neal as of next month. Portions of fries will also be reduced in an attempt to make parents feel less guilty about bringing their children to a fast food restaurant.

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