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Thu 20th Mar 2014 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Starbucks boss – we are in chapter five of a 20 chapter book: If Starbucks was a 20 chapter book, the company is only in chapter four or five, according to chief executive Howard Schultz who outlined Starbucks unique position in the marketplace during the 2014 Annual Meeting of shareholders yesterday. “We’re still in the early stages of the growth and development of Starbucks, we’re delivering record profits and revenue, sharing our success with our employees and heading towards a $100 billion market cap,” Schultz said. With a 66-foot-wide backdrop of company stock symbols scrolling behind him, Schultz said there are more than 5,000 publicly listed companies on the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ. Of those, 150 have a market cap greater than $50 billion, he said. Only 16 companies are increasing revenue by 10% or greater a year. Only 13 are growing earnings per share at least 15% a year – including Google, Amazon, Facebook, Visa and MasterCard. “Only one on the NASDAQ is a brick-and-mortar retailer with the unique combination of physical and digital assets to navigate the seismic changes in consumer behavior we witnessed this past holiday,” he said. “Starbucks.” In fiscal year 2013, Starbucks earned record revenue of $15 billion and record profit of $2.5 billion. Starbucks returned $1.2 billion in cash to shareholders in the form of dividends and share repurchases. Since the company started offering equity to employees in 1991, it has shared more than $1 billion in value in the form of stock with staff. Schultz asked shareholders to consider the role and responsibility of a for-profit, public company. “The world needs leadership now more than ever. I recognise we are not a perfect company, but we have a responsibility to use our scale for good,” Schultz said. “The currency of leadership is truth and transparency. What we need now more than ever before is citizenship over partisanship.” Schultz cited examples of Starbucks efforts to build a “performance-driven company through the lens of humanity”. Last October, he said, in the middle of the 16 day federal government shutdown which cost the country $2 billion in lost productivity and more than 120,000 private sector jobs, Starbucks launched a nationwide petition in its nearly 7,000 company-operated US stores and amplified it across the company’s digital channels. In less than a week, the company collected and delivered nearly two million signatures to the US Congress and the White House. Meanwhile, Starbucks is to partner Oprah Winfrey in the US to create Teavana Oprah Chai Tea. Starbucks is making a donation for each product sold to the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy Foundation to benefit educational opportunities for youth.

Industry News:

Industry sources suggest Greene King bingo application has been turned down: Industry sources were suggesting overnight that Greene King’s unusual application to the Gambling Commission for a bingo licence has been turned down. In December, the Gambling Commission website stated that Greene King has made two applications to own a bingo operating licence. The company applied for a licence under the Greene King Retailing name and the other one is under the Greene King Brewing and Retailing name. Greene King would give no other detail at the time in relation to its plans. The Gambling Commission website still shows the applications as pending but sources were claiming last night that the applications have been rejected.

haysmacintyre – annual investment allowance increase biggest benefit to sector: Andrew Ball, partner at sector accountancy firm haysmacintyre, has argued that George Osborne’s increase in investment allowance was the sector’s biggest boost in yesterday’s Budget. In a Propel Opinion Special, he wrote: “George Osborne’s increase in the annual investment allowance, where qualifying capital expenditure obtains 100% tax relief, from £250,000 to £500,000 until December 2015 was probably the single most beneficial announcement in this year’s Budget for the hospitality industry. Although many businesses brought their capital expenditure forward to meet the existing deadline of December 2014, the new limits are of real benefit to pubs, bars and restaurants where fit out and refurbishment projects are often far in excess of the previous limits. Further, the extension to 31 December 2015 means capital improvement programmes can be revisited and tailored to take advantage of this enhanced maximum limit.” Andrew Ball can be contacted on aball@haysmacintyre.com for further information.

Siba delighted with ‘same again, George’: The duty cut on beer unveiled in yesterday’s Budget will lead to further investment in breweries, The Society of Independent Brewers (Siba) has declared. Julian Grocock, Siba’s chief executive, said: “Siba applauds the Chancellor’s decision to take another penny off the pint, following last year’s historic decision to scrap the unpopular escalator. It is good to see that this government believes in providing long-term support for the British brewing and pubs industry. Siba’s Budget submission to the Treasury this year was based on the very positive impact of the 2013 duty cut on the local brewing industry. Our members now feel more confident about the long-term prospects for their breweries, and are investing in them by buying new equipment, recruiting new staff or opening new pubs.”

Date for next Tax Equality Day unveiled: VAT Club Jacques Borel is to stage a Tax Equality Day on Wednesday 24 September. It follows on from the success of the first Tax Parity Day, which took place in 15,000 pubs and restaurants across the UK in September 2013. Pubs and restaurants will once again be encouraged to support the campaign to reduce the level of VAT in the hospitality sector by lowering prices on food and drink by 7.5%. Prices will be reduced for one day only, in order to show the benefits of a VAT cut to 5%. At present all food and drink in pubs is subject to 20% VAT, while supermarkets benefit from a zero VAT rate. Jacques Borel said: “Tax Parity Day was an outstanding success and the perfect way to reinforce our message to the public that lower VAT in the hospitality sector will deliver lower prices and create hundreds of thousands of jobs. Although we have changed the name to Tax Equality Day, the message remains the same. Customers at pubs and restaurants across the UK supported last year’s event with enthusiasm and pride and I am confident that they will welcome the Tax Equality Day on September 24. The campaign to reduce VAT is well known amongst the public, policy makers and MPs and a national Tax Equality Day will highlight the support for the VAT cut campaign.”

Company News:

Whiting & Hammond to open eighth pub after £750,000 co-investment with Punch: The gastro-operator Whiting & Hammond will open its eighth pub, The Kings Head, Bessels Green, Sevenoaks, Kent on Thursday 27 March after a £750,000 co-investment with Punch Taverns. The opening will create 35 new jobs. The historic pub on Westerham Road will be restored to its former glory to feature a new bar, extended restaurant area with the capacity for 100 covers, on-site car parking and a “stunning” beer garden. The changing daily menu will use fresh locally sourced ingredients and the bar will include a selection from local brewers Larkins, Tonbridge and Westerham Breweries. This is the first joint partnership for Punch and Whiting & Hammond. Punch’s new business development director, Crawford Scott, said: “Whiting & Hammond has an excellent reputation for running quality pubs, with fine food and drink at its heart. It has been a great experience working with the team and we are confident the Kings Head will be a huge success.” Whiting & Hammond founder Brian Whiting said: “The Kings Head is in a fabulous location and we hope to give local people a pub of which they can be proud.”

Prezzo chief executive – we are grateful there were no casualties in terrible fire: The chief executive of the Prezzo restaurant chain, Jonathan Kaye has applauded the fire brigade in Yorkshire for its actions in confining a fire at the company restaurant in Harrogate. The fire closed much of the town centre and required the attendance of fire engine from two different fire brigades – 18 engines in total. Kaye said: “We are thankful that no one was injured as a result of the fire at Prezzo in Harrogate yesterday morning. We thank and applaud the actions of the fire brigade in dealing with the fire. We will assist the fire brigade with their investigation to establish the cause of the fire. Overall the most important factor is that there were no casualties as a result of this terrible incident. Our primary concern is to secure the building and ensure it is safe. Once that is done, we will be assessing the damage.”

McDonald’s launches Monopoly promotion for ninth consecutive year: McDonald’s UK launched Prize Vault Monopoly yesterday (19 March), the ninth time the company has run its Monopoly sales promotion. The competition, which gives customers the chance to win prizes, will run for a six-week period until 29 April and has become McDonald’s biggest sales promotion in the UK. Participants can play Prize Vault Monopoly by collecting game stickers from McDonald’s qualifying menu items to be in with a chance of winning one of five £100,000 cash prizes, 20 Mini Cooper cars, 40 Yamaha scooters, iPads, gift vouchers and millions of McDonald’s food prizes. McDonald’s has ramped up its social media offering surrounding the promotion by introducing a new Twitter handle @McDPrizeVault, to encourage discussion and interest around the promotion, and to enable fans to share their wins and give game play updates.
 
La Tasca launches new menu with price reductions: Spanish tapas chain La Tasca has launched a new menu and simultaneously dropped some price points, in line with customer feedback. Chief executive Simon Wilkinson said: “We had some specific feedback on our Cocido section, so we have premiumised the portions by increasing the meat quantity, simultaneously lowering the price point by £1. We have also added lower priced dishes such as habanas con chorizo y champinones. Guest feedback is at the heart of our business and with La Tasca not having a fat corporate structure we can react to feedback and make changes very quickly, in this instance within less than four weeks. Trade is very buoyant and our refurbishments are showing good returns across the UK. We are doing up to two sites per week and are on track for a May finish. We are especially pleased with the guest reaction to our secret Jamon & Wine Bodegas Bar in James Street [Marylebone, central London], which is aligned with finessing our brand to be local.” The La Tasca menu has won Restaurant Menu of the Year for 21 sites plus at the Restaurant magazine awards.

Young’s to open first Guildford pub at the end of March: The London pub retailer Young & Co will re-open its first pub in Guildford, Surrey on 28 March. The Weyside, formerly known as The Boatman, and previously owned by Heartstone Inns, is just outside Guildford High Street and on the riverside. The pub has undergone an extensive redevelopment project, with £300,000 being spent on interior design. The menu will be dedicated to seasonal British ingredients, and the bar will offer craft and premium beers as well as cask ales. The refurbished interior includes a large open plan bar, a conservatory dining room and an alfresco dining and drinking terrace. Steve Gallagher, Young’s operations director, said: “We are thrilled to be opening our first Young’s pub in Guildford and believe The Weyside’s premium food offering and exciting riverside location will make it a popular drinking and dining destination for both local and wider Surrey residents.”

Council to contest nightclub’s appeal against landmark High Court hours decision: Redbridge Council has promised to “firmly contest” continued efforts by a nightclub to overturn a decision to restrict its hours. Last month Funky Mojoe failed in a landmark High Court challenge to a decision by Redbridge Council to cut its opening hours because of crime and anti-social behaviour. It was the first time the High Court had ruled on a nightclub’s opening hours. The nightclub did not request a right to appeal during the hearing, so one was not granted. But its owners have decided to continue their expensive legal challenge after failing to secure a judicial review. The High Court ordered the nightclub to pay the council’s legal costs of £127,000. A Redbridge Council statement said: “The council has been informed that the operator of Funky Mojoe, in High Road, South Woodford, has made an application to the Court of Appeal for permission to appeal against the High Court decision. If permission is granted, the council intends to firmly contest the appeal.”

Greene King takes flood-hit pub in Guildford upmarket on re-opening: Greene King has taken advantage of the closure of the George Abbot pub in Guildford through flooding to take it into premium territory. When the sewers at the Portsmouth Road car park flooded, the brewery took the opportunity to give the venue a complete makeover. Manager Michael Edwards said: “The look used to be mainstream but it’s a lot more premium now. The back bar display is an old scaffolding system and the decor is very shabby chic. When you see the new look, it’s totally different.”
 
Record number of licensees pre-register for Enterprise roadshows: A record number of licensee visitors and trade suppliers have pre-registered to attend the six “Enterpriselive” roadshows which kick off at Olympia in London this Thursday, 20 March. Nearly 2,500 licensees have signed up for “Enterpriselive”, with more than 7600 tickets distributed to licensees and their staff – a 20% increase on 2013. “Enterpriselive” is also pulling in prospective licensees, with more than 140 expected to attend the six trade shows, which will be staged across the country at the NEC, Birmingham; Bolton Arena; Elland Road, Leeds; Sandown Park; and the UWE Exhibition Centre in Bristol. Supplier backing for the roadshows is 30% up on last year, with 131 companies on hand to offer a range of promotional deals across beers, wines, ciders, spirits, soft drinks, food and snacks and a full range of business services. James Armitage, head of marketing at Enterprise, said: “Across the six shows, publicans can benefit from 229 exclusive deals which together have a combined value of nearly £9,000. The value of these supplier deals has increased by 42% compared to last year, and throughout the events, visitors will also have the opportunity to enter free prize draws where £13,000-worth of products can be won.”

Punch to open third Champs sport bar this month after £575,000 co-investment: Punch Taverns is to open its third Champs Sports Bar and Grill at the former Chevys in Washington, Tyne and Wear on 28 March after a £575,000 co-investment with licensee Lindsay Armstrong. The venue, on Emerson Road, was closed for six weeks while a refurbishment was carried out. The investment has created 15 new jobs. Armstrong, who has been at the bar for nearly eight years, said he was excited about the reopening: “I’m from Washington and know the area and venue inside out. Previously, Chevys was a nightclub with DJ and a sports element and we have completely changed this so that Champs will be a day-time sports bar and grill for all the family – there is nothing like this around. The venue has been redecorated in a bright and modern style with sports memorabilia and even a motorbike! We want Champs to be synonymous with live sports and have added 34 TVs and booths. We will be introducing food for the first time and have a new bar and grill menu, children’s menu and even a breakfast menu. We will also be expanding our drinks range to include wines, cocktails and two guest ales which will rotate every week so customers can try something new.” The other two Champs sites are in Sheffield, opened in partnership with a local multi-site operator, Danny Grayson.
 
Arc Inspirations to open third The Pit site next to Jamie’s Italian in Harrogate: The Leeds-based Arc inspirations is to open its third The Pit next to the forthcoming Jamie’s Italian on Parliament Street in Harrogate. It is currently scheduled to open in June. Other branches of The Pit are in Leeds city centre and Chapel Allerton. The venue specialises in meaty, “rib-sticking Americana” such as Philly Fries, Po’ Boy sandwiches, ribs and lobster and a big range of burgers. Drinks emphasis is on craft beer, cocktails and milkshakes. The Leeds and Chapel Allerton venues also have table tennis and table football. The opening will be Arc’s 12th site. Handmade Burger Co open 19th site: Handmade Burger is opening its 19th site, and second venue in Leeds, tomorrow (21 March). The brand offers over 40 varieties of handmade and hand pressed burgers and, as each burger is made by hand. The first Handmade Burger Co was opened in Birmingham, 2006.
 
Admiral Taverns chooses CPL Training to provide all personal licence training: Admiral Taverns has extended its partnership with training specialist CPL, which has been selected to deliver all of the current pub company of the year’s personal licence training. CPL will be the exclusive training partner for new entrants to the pub trade – and also for existing Admiral licensees who wish to add more personal licence holders at their pub by putting forward other members of staff to take the qualification. Admiral is already working with CPL on the delivery of online e-learning, which enables its licensees and pub teams to take a wide-range of courses from mandatory compliance training, such as Health & Safety and Control of Substances Hazardous to Health, to important development courses such as cellar management, marketing and interview techniques. Suzanne Smith, head of licensee recruitment and training at Admiral Taverns, said: “We are pleased to be growing our relationship with CPL, whom we first partnered last year. They have impressed through their excellent service, quick response times, and can-do approach so we are pleased to be taking this next step with them.” The agreement with CPL will also provide a licensing application service for new licensees, enabling Admiral to deliver a comprehensive licensing training and service package. 
 
State lawmakers mull repeal of Tennessee whiskey law: State lawmakers are considering a repeal of a law passed in 2013 that established, for the first time, a legal definition of Tennessee whiskey. Supporters of the move said that the law unfairly benefits Jack Daniel’s, the world’s most famous Tennessee whiskey. Some new distillers argue that they want to explore different types of spirits that would not be allowed to be called Tennessee whiskey under the current law.

Former Luminar site sees 4,000 customers in first weekend: DC Nightclub, which occupies the former Luminar site in St Mary’s Street, Cardiff, opened at the weekend as phase two of a plan that saw a sister venue, Maddison of Cardiff Bar and Restaurant, open last November. The total investment is £4m and 120 jobs have been created. Richard Jackson, managing director of the company behind the venues, Alderway Leisure, said: “The opening weekend coincided with the Wales and Scotland game in the Millennium Stadium and saw over 4000 people visiting the nightclub over the two nights. The venue was visited by both Wales and Scotland rugby teams and a number of celebrities on the VIP night on Friday. Both venues complement each other for the different age demographics, and we are now looking to acquire our third site in Cardiff.”

BrewDog seeks manager for new BottleDog off-licence: The Scottish brewer and retailer is advertising for a manager for its first BottleDog off-licence in London. The ad says: “Our BottleDog shops will be dynamic off-licences featuring the best in regional and global craft beers. With a small draft system for growler fills, as well as an extensive range of bottles, our BottleDogs will be havens of great craft beer where customers, whether craft beer gurus in their own right or novices embarking on their first craft beer purchase, know they will be received warmly and depart excited about their purchase and looking forward to their next visit.”

Former Bradley & Bingley executive opens sixth pub today: The former Bradley & Bingley executive Neil Pickles will open his sixth pub today. Pickles, whose company is called Pickles Pubs, will re-open The Bay Horse pub at Cowling, near Keighley, Yorkshire, after an extensive refurbishment in partnership with Punch Taverns. Pickles, who spent 20 years working for Bradford & Bingley, opened his pub in 2006. The £250,000 makeover of The Bay Horse will mean that Pickles Pubs, along with Enterprise Inns and Punch Taverns, have invested more than £1m in refurbishing six pubs, all focusing on creating traditional locals, with hand-pulled ales, log fires and good food. The business, which also includes the Yorkshire Hog and Grill outside catering operation, now has a turnover approaching £3m. Pickles said: “I deliberately go for pubs with several small rooms which can be decorated in different styles to appeal to different types of customers, from lawyers to dog walkers.”
 
New leisure park unveiled for Darlington: A new multi-million pound retail park which could create 150 jobs in Darlington has been unveiled. The Yorkshire-based property developer Opus North has revealed proposals for the £9m project, which would be built on land on Albert Road, Darlington, next to its junction with North Road and Whessoe Road. If approved, the park could be open by spring 2016 and would include a discount food shop, a frozen food shop, three other non-food retail units, a drive-through restaurant and two more units suitable for cafes or sandwich shops. The plans come after the multi-million pound Feethams Leisure project was given the go-ahead in December last year. The project will transform the town’s former bus depot site into a nine-screen multiplex Vue cinema, an 80-bedroom Premier Inn hotel, and a number of bars and restaurants, including Nando’s and Prezzo. Work is expected to begin in the coming weeks, with the complex opening in autumn 2015.
 
Wetherspoon – we are applying for a 1.30am licence in Sevenoaks on police advice: JD Wetherspoon’s plans to bring 1.30am drinking to Sevenoaks have been met by opposition from local council leader Peter Fleming. He has personally objected to The Sennockian’s bid to extend its opening hours seven days a week which, he claims, will cause his neighbours disturbance and start an “arms race” of later opening. However, a Wetherspoon’s spokesman said the company had applied for the licence after consulting the police. “We are applying for an extension so that the pub would be able to open longer hours if it was hosting a special event,” he said. “It would mean that the licence would cover such events, rather than Wetherspoon needing to apply for extensions on an individual basis. We liaised with the police and they recommended that we took this approach. We are not looking to open longer hours on a regular basis, purely at certain times if it was needed.”

Barnet Council declines to list former Greene King pub run by Fatboy Slim’s uncle as asset of community value: A historic pub in Cricklewood, North London whose final landlord was an uncle of the DJ Fatboy Slim is due to be turned into for flats by a property developer after Barnet Council refused to list it as an asset of community value. Campaigners had been fighting for the Castle in Finchley Road, famed for its live music heritage, to be given the special protection, as a pub has been on the site since the 1700s. The pub has sat derelict since closing in December 2012, when former landlord Denis Cook left the business after the building’s owner, Greene King, sold the site to a property developer. Cook, whose nephew’s real name is Norman Cook, spent £250,000 renovating the pub upon becoming landlord in November 2009 and attempted to appeal to wide sections of the community, introducing an all-kosher food menu in 2012.

Tim Bacon – Living Ventures aims for four more Manchester city centre openings: Living Ventures founder Tim Bacon has told the Northern Restaurant and Bar show’s big debate he ultimately aims to increase his Manchester city centre offering from 11 sites to 15. Bacon, whose company has opened The Alchemist, Artisan, The Oast House and Manchester House in the city centre, said: “I’ve got my mind on 15 in the city centre in total. I don’t think that’s too much.” Living Ventures has already revealed plans to take over Label on Deansgate to become The Botanist, while The Olive Press on Lloyd Street is to expand into Eliot House to become the city centre’s first Gusto Italian restaurant. However, Bacon said he did not plan on any more openings on Spinningfields, after his revitalisation of the business district in recent years with six different bars and restaurants. Asked about his pet hate, Bacon said: “Vegetarian restaurants would go in my Room 101. Vegetarians complain proportionately more than anyone else.”

Masterchef chef star hired as food consultant for Skelwith Group hotels and pub: 2012 Masterchef runner-up Tom Rennolds has been hired as food consultant for Skelwith Group. The company runs the Raithwaite Estate, near Whitby, and is currently developing the Flaxby Country Resort between York and Harrogate, a £100m scheme expected to be completed next year. Rennolds will oversee the food and drinks on offer for customers at the hotels as well as working as the managing chef for a village pub which the company is also transforming. The newly named Curious Plum, in Husthwaite, near York is set to open towards the end of this year. The Curious Plum, which will be on the site of the former Orchard Inn, in the village, is to be refurbished and extended to provide eight bedrooms, bar and restaurant areas and unique “outside eating pods” in a new courtyard. Rennolds said: “It is a unique opportunity to get involved in the different elements of Skelwith. I have been very impressed with Raithwaite and am very excited about the Curious Plum project in Husthwaite. I think this establishment is somewhere I can put my own mark on and create something unique in Yorkshire.”

Ethical water brand Belu extends partnership with WaterAid: Belu, the ethical UK water brand, has extended its partnership with WaterAid, which will see it donate at least £1m to the clean water charity by 2020. The announcement comes ahead of World Water Day, 22 March 2014, a UN global day to celebrate water. To date, Belu has donated £556,000 to WaterAid since the initial three-year partnership began in 2011, exceeding expectations and transforming the lives of 37,000 people through improving access to safe water, hygiene and sanitation in the world’s poorest countries. This exclusive partnership sees Belu donate 100% of its profits to WaterAid, with a minimum commitment of £100,000 a year.

Managed pub company TCG welcomes Budget: The managed pub and bar operator TCG has welcomed yesterday’s budget. Nigel Wright, TCG’s chief operating officer of managed pub, said: “The Budget is really positive news for the trade. Another reduction in the rate of duty on beer, along with the freeze in cider duty, is particularly good news, especially in a World Cup year. A well-served pint at the pub is an essential accompaniment to meeting friends or watching the match for millions of consumers, and it’s important that it remains an affordable treat. The end of the duty escalator on wine and spirits is a welcome move, and all credit goes to the trade bodies that co-ordinated the campaign to persuade the Treasury of its merits. We’ve invested significantly in both our cocktail range and wine lists over the past year, supported by staff training, and an end to above inflation increases in duty means we can expect to continue to see the benefits in terms of increased sales.”

Peel Hunt’s Nick Batram issues ‘Buy’ note on Rank shares after yesterday’s bingo duty cut: Peel Hunt leisure analyst Nick Batram has issued a ‘Buy’ note on Rank’s shares, with a target price of 144p, after yesterday’s bingo duty cut. He said: “After a number of years of pushing the case for a reduction in bingo duty, the government has at last delivered. The reduction in duty to 10% from 20% (beyond what the industry expected) should reduce the tax burden by around £12m per annum. Management will reinvest much of this through appropriate investment. However, we still expect the bottom line to benefit substantially, with our initial thoughts being a circa 9% upgrade to June 2015 forecasts.”

Famous Glasgow restaurant shuts after bid by bank: Dino’s Italian Restaurant on Sauchiehall Street, one of Glasgow’s best-known restaurants, has closed after 50 years, to be turned into a branch of the Halifax bank. More than a thousand diners turned up for a last meal. Co-owner Alfredo Crolla decided to sell the restaurant, which opened on its current site in 1971, after he was approached by the bank. Some staff will be transferring to another Crolla-run restaurant, Bella Napoli, on Kilmarnock Road, Glasgow. One, waiter Paco Chincho, 41, who has been working at Dino’s for the past ten years, said: “It’s like a big family.”

Downing and Faucet Inn to launch craft beer concept: The Craft Beer Pub Co, a new joint venture between the Downing Pub EIS Fund and Faucet Inn, has completed the purchase of the Pensioners in Southampton. The site is to be reopened after a refurbishment and is expected to the first in a series of similar outlets located outside of the capital. Steve Cox of Faucet Inn said: “It is very exciting to be embarking on this new venture with Downing and is hopefully the first of many new openings to come. We will be showcasing a broad range of amazing craft beers and to compliment this we will focus on delivering an innovative vertical dining menu.” Steven Kenee, head of the licensed leisure team at Downing, said: “We are delighted to be working alongside Steve and the team at Faucet Inn. The addition of Faucet Inns to the Downing Pub EIS Fund family (alongside Pub People and Antic London) gives it the enviable position of being able to select the best opportunities from three high quality trusted operators.” Propel has report that Downing invested around £15.3m in the pub sector in 2013, and would like to invest as much as £30m in the next 18 months. The majority of the investment was focused on buying freeholds in London managed by Antic London. The pub sector investments were: Augusta Pub Company (£4.78m), Pabulum Pubs (£3.29m), Pearce and Saunders (£2.8m), Pub People Holdings (£1.91m) Gregarious (£1.55m) and Redmed nightclub and bar in Lincoln (£1m). The current Downing Pub EIS has raised a total of £12.4m from investors. Kenee said: “As can be seen from last year’s numbers, Downing continues to be an active investor in the sector. We continue to raise further funds and are looking to place another £15m to £30m in the sector over the next 18 months.” Downing has launched 15 EIS products over the past five years, which in total have raised approximately £130m, and has invested in more than 50 pubs across the UK. Faucet Inn runs 22 pubs, mostly in London. It has also been working on a concept to launch in the Scandinavian market. At the start of this month Faucet re-opened a former Bramwell Pub Company site, the Oak Tree in Sevenoaks, Kent. Faucet described the new-look Oak Tree as a “thriving pub with a strong traditional, yet contemporary food offer, following the ‘Chop House’ tradition.”

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