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Thu 3rd Apr 2014 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Yummy reports 29% rise in March like-for-like sales: Four-strong Yummy Pub Company, led by Tim Foster and Anthony Pender, has revealed a stellar 29% rise in like-for-like sales in March. The company had enjoyed double-digit sales growth for seven consecutive months, but the size of the increase, to virtually match December 2013 sales, was unexpected. Foster told Propel: “We knew March sales would be higher than March 2013 – we had snow and rain last year. But to post these results is staggering, especially as our sites benefit significantly from Bank Holiday weekends and we still have those to come.” Foster linked the sales increase, in part, to a new integrated sales and marketing structure. “I now have a sales and marketing team reporting directly to me, working from a temporary office at our Somerstown Coffee House site where we have integrated inbound calls and emails from all sites. From 9am to 10pm, seven days a week, the telephone is now answered by our team. If we miss the call, it is recorded electronically and replayed via email so we grab every opportunity. Paying guests in our pubs won’t hear a ringing phone on the shop floor. On Mother’s Day alone we took 69 calls, resulting in business worth in excess of £10,000, which would have been missed on the day as the teams were so busy serving our customers. As well as the inbound calls the team are making outbound sales calls and handling the implementation of a new data management system we have been working on since 2011. The net results have been extraordinary in benefit to the bottom line.” Foster also reported that a standardisation process across all sites, with particular focus on food operations, is showing clear improvements in margins and GPs after the decision to move to one menu. He said: “Our British tapas menu has put us on the map at the Somerstown so it was time to introduce the concept to our other three sites. In just four weeks it now accounts for 34% of total food sales and having great feedback from customers.”
   

Industry News:

ALMR opposes 50p minimum price in Wales: The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) has voiced opposition to the Welsh government’s proposed introduction of a minimum unit price for alcohol. The Welsh government has published the White Paper for a public health bill confirming a minimum unit price of 50p in Wales and restrictions on the use of e-cigarettes in public places. The ALMR’s strategic affairs director, Kate Nicholls, said: “The Welsh government is right to be concerned about the availability of cheap alcohol being offered in the off-trade, which continues to undermine public health in Wales. We are, however, wary that minimum unit pricing alone will not be enough to address the issues at hand, particularly when supermarkets continue to offer discounts and readily –available cheap alcohol. We urge the Welsh government to use their existing powers to tackle these harms, rather than immediately resorting to new legislation which is unlikely to address the issue at hand. A wider framework and cooperation with Westminster is needed to tackle unregulated sales in the off-trade. The health minister has spoken about the affordability of alcohol and its damaging affect on public health in Wales. The number of people drinking to excess has been falling, but we are still faced with the issue of heavily discounted prices being offered in shops and supermarkets.”
   
Stonegate Pub Company increases bond issue size by £20m to £400m: Stonegate Pub Company has increased the size of its bond issue by £20m to £400m. A note by S&P Capital stated: “Banks are guiding investors towards issue ratings of B+/B2 or B3. Investor feedback has been positive on the company, but less so on the sector. Investors say the firm is well-diversified, has a strong market presence, is making good progress in its move towards food service, and is well-exposed to managed pubs that have tended to perform best in recent years. However, these factors are all set against a difficult backdrop for the sector, with swathes of pubs having closed, and continuing to close around the country. Adjusted Ebitda has grown steadily since 2011, when it stood at £24.2 million, and totalled £58.4 million in 2013. Pro forma net leverage is 4.6x.” Stonegate, which recently replaced departing chief executive Tony Smith with Greene King tenanted division head Simon Longbottom, is rumoured to be considering an initial public offering at the end of 2014 or early 2015.
   
Just Eat to start trading at top end of range: Online takeaway business Just Eat is expected to start trading today in the 210p to 250p range, valuing the company at £1.2bn to £1.47bn. This price range will mean the company is valued at 100 times underlying earnings. “Investors have been impressed by the enthusiastic management and the growth story,” one source told The Daily Telegraph.
   
Starbucks performs US U-turn on cake slices: Starbucks has done a U-turn on cake slices in the United States in response to customer feedback. The company had been getting rid of the slices, which came in banana, iced lemon and pumpkin flavours, as part of a staggered rollout of its pricier new baked goods. In their place, Starbucks offered what looked like miniature loaves which cost $2.45, an increase of 20 cents. Lisa Passe, a Starbucks spokeswoman, said the company realised that “people really like the familiar, sliced cake.” She said the cake slices would return “in coming weeks”, though they will still be made with new recipes and carry the higher prices. The new baked goods, which are warmed up in the Starbucks stores’ ovens, have so far been rolled out to roughly half of the company’s 11,500 US locations, meaning about half of the stores never got rid of the cake slices.
   
London food blogger sets out to eat in every country of the world without leaving London: A London food blogger has set himself the goal of eating in a restaurant from every country in the world – without setting foot outside the capital. Charlie Thornberry, 37, who lives in Hammersmith, has so far visited more than 50 restaurants each serving food from different countries, including Georgia, Azerbaijan, Macedonia and Iran.
   

Company News:

Strada starts to serve breakfast from 8am: Strada has added a day-part to its offer, with an 8am opening for breakfast – three-and-a-half hours earlier than before. The breakfast menu began on Tuesday. Light bites include: ciabatta toast (£1.95), porridge (£3.95), croissants and pastries (£2.75). Specialities include avocado smash (£5.45), eggs Benedict (£5.95), eggs ‘nduja (£6.25), the “inglese” (an English fried breakfast at £7.95), eggs Florentine (£5.95) and mushroom tartufo (£4.95). Strada’s development chef, Nicola Tortorelli, said: “We’ve made this menu fresh bold and different, while staying true to Strada’s Italian heritage.” A free introductory Italian gourmet coffee has been offered to the brand’s customer database, subject to downloading a code.
   
Douglas Jack – Domino’s is a digital business without a digital rating: Numis Securities’ leisure analyst, Douglas Jack has issued a buy rating on Domino’s shares, with a target price of 710p after yesterday’s first quarter trading update. He said: “UK like-for-like sales rose 10.8% (versus 6.6% comp) in Q1, maintaining the momentum built up in Q4 2013. We are holding our forecasts at this stage, but upgrades are becoming increasingly likely in our view, from assumptions of 3% like-for-like sales and falling margins in the UK and a £0.5m reduction in losses in Germany. Given the ongoing potential for strong, high quality growth, the shares are undervalued in our view. UK margins (up 74bps in 2013) should be up due to the operational gearing benefit on expansion and higher like-for-like sales, even though food gross margins should be flat over the next two years in order to boost franchisee Ebitda/store (from £107,000). This should encourage stronger expansion and marketing, driving up system sales and advertising, in a virtuous circle. Domino’s is a digital business (69.4% of sales are via e-commerce; with mobile device sales up 69%), but without a digital rating. We believe the shares, on a 9% EV/Ebitda discount to historical average, ex-Europe and before potential upgrades, are undervalued relative to the company’s quality (almost rent, debt and capex-free) and growth potential. The company aims to return almost 100% of profit after tax to shareholders. This should require share buy-backs, which should enhance earnings and further shift risk to the upside.”
   
Moose Coffee to open fourth venue: Moose Coffee, the American diner-influenced cafe chain founded in 2006 by Nick and Kathy van Breemen is opening its fourth outlet, in a 1,350 sq ft space in the Federation House building in Hope Street, Liverpool. The cafe, which will also have an outside seating area, is due to be open by November, after a refurbishment of the building, which is currently being used by Downing Students as a show flat for the company’s new student accommodation development, The Electra, being built to the rear of Federation House, which will be occupied by students in September. The upper five floors of Federation House are home to the Liverpool Media Academy, a media, music and performing arts college. Moose Coffee currently has outlets in Manchester, Crosby and in Liverpool’s business district, on Dale Street. The Van Breemens said: “It’s an exciting time for Moose and we’re ecstatic to be gearing up to open our fourth venue. Hope Street is a great location steeped in history and culture and it’s rapidly becoming the foodie epicentre of Liverpool, with some of the most exciting restaurants in the city within a 500-metre radius.”
   
Wetherspoon sets July opening date for nightclub conversion in Cleethorpes, abandons late licence plan in Sevenoaks: JD Wetherspoon has set a July opening date for the opening of its first pub in Cleethorpes. The company has been granted planning permission to convert the old Amishi nightclub on the resort’s High Street. A spokeswoman for JD Wetherspoon said the pub will be called The Coliseum Picture Theatre – its name when it first opened as a cinema in 1914 – and is due to open for business on Tuesday, 22 July. Wetherspoon has also named 24 June as the opening date for the Lady Chatterley, in Eastwood, Nottinghamshire, home town of the author DH Lawrence. Meanwhile, it has withdrawn an application to open until 1.30am each day in Sevenoaks. The company’s controversial plans for The Sennockian had been due to go before the district council’s licensing committee earlier this week. The proposal had faced stiff opposition from nearby residents who feared it would cause added noise and disruption. Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon said: “We have decided to review the application for extended hours and as such have withdrawn our application.”
   
Giraffe unveils two more openings: Giraffe is to open its second site in Milton Keynes, in the Kingston Centre retail park, this month, followed by an opening in York next month. The 3,796 sq ft, 135-cover restaurant will trade all day from breakfast through to dinner. This will be followed by another stand-alone 3,573 sq ft, 192-cover opening in May at the new Vangarde Shopping Park, York, next door to new Marks & Spencer and John Lewis stores. Russel Joffe, co-founder of Giraffe Concepts, said: “Following our successful Giraffe at thecentre:mk, we are delighted to be opening our second Milton Keynes site in a popular retail park on the outskirts of the city. Vangarde Shopping Park in York is another hugely exciting development, adding to our existing sites in the region such as Leeds, Sheffield and Castleford.”
   
Caffe Nero hires agency for campaign to stress brand’s heritage: Caffe Nero has signed the marketing agency Feref to create and deliver a digitally-led campaign centred on the brand’s heritage, titled “Meet the Maestros”. Karen Kidd, head of brand for Caffe Nero, told Drum magazine: “From the initial meeting with Feref they totally got under the skin of the brand and found a way to tell our story of coffee with real depth and personality. Because of that they were able to effortlessly develop a tone that was true to our character and which resonated with our audience.” Chris Kinsella, executive creative director at Feref, said: “Working with a brand like Caffe Nero is a gift, as we have a real and relevant story to tell. Our job was to keep true to their values and make the brand engaging to the audiences that seek out the authentic.” The campaign will use Caffe Nero’s own team of “maestros” and real life photography.
   
M&B’s Harvester brand named UK’s most family-friendly: Mitchells & Butlers’ Harvester brand has been voted the UK’s family friendly restaurant in the 2014 Tommy’s Awards, which attracted 27,000 votes from consumers, for the second year running. Tommy’s spokeswoman Kate O’Reilly said: “For 19 years, our awards have asked parents to identify the companies they think are doing their bit to provide baby and family-friendly services across the UK. This year, we heard from over 27,000 parents who voted for their favourites – and in the restaurant category Harvester came out on top.”
   
Coffee Republic signs six new UK franchisees: Coffee Republic has reported that six new UK franchisees have signed contracts in the last quarter. The latest franchise, showcasing the updated Coffee Republic branding, opened on Monday (31March) in the Queensmere Shopping Centre, Slough, with other franchises in Hounslow, West London and Sutton, Surrey, to open in coming weeks. On the international front, Coffee Republic has signed an agreement with a local food and beverage operator to open a site at Lanzarote Airport, in the Canary Islands, due to open in the summer, with “other potential projects planned with the same company for other similar retail outlets in Spain and the Balearics”. The latest international franchise comes after deals in Oman and Qatar.
   
Colliers seeks to attract London operators to Birmingham with four prime opportunities in the city centre: Four bar and restaurant opportunities have been brought to the market at the heart of Birmingham’s financial district. The leisure units, which range from 1,459 sq ft to 4,121 sq ft, form part of the Two Snowhill development. Colliers International has been instructed to market them by the joint venture developers, Hines and Ballymore Group. The potential bars and restaurants have external terrace areas and the opportunity to add mezzanine levels. Paul Hands, director of licensed and leisure at Colliers International, said his team has been encouraging London-based A3 and A4 operators to come to Birmingham’s central business district and make the most of the impressive opportunities available at the site. He said: “There have been substantial improvements to the public realm and general environment within this area of the city. Given the large number of high profile companies now working at Snowhill, together with the five million passengers per annum coming through the new station, it is crucial that the area’s leisure offer is able to effectively cater for them.”
   
Former M&B executive to open new craft beer bar next week: Martin Hilton, who was previously retail operations director for Mitchells & Butlers’ O’Neill’s brand, will open a new craft beer bar, Pure Bar and Kitchen, in Birmingham’s business district next week. He is partnered by Purity Brewing Company’s Paul Halsey and Simpsons chef-patron Andreas Antona. The opening, set up with support from the Birmingham Post Growth Fund, has transformed a Grade II-listed building that previously housed the estate agency Chesterton before standing empty for nine years. The venue will have an industrial feel, with a hard-finished floor, stripped-back brickwork, exposed ceiling and white tiles behind the bar. Centre-stage is an imposing steel “brauhaus” on the bar, supplying 14 keg beers and flanked by ten cask hand pulls, which the owners believe could be the biggest in Britain. The menu will feature classic British pub dishes with a modern twist, with meat coming from the award-winning Leamington butcher Aubrey Allen, cured meats from the Worcestershire charcuterie Forest Pig and cheeses from Shropshire’s Mr Moyden’s.
   
Lancashire pub and restaurant entrepreneur to open ninth site after £180,000 co-investment with Punch Taverns: Lancashire pub and restaurant entrepreneur Adam Chapman is to open his ninth site on 11 April, a £180,000 co-investment with Punch Taverns in the Old Oak, Hoghton, Preston. The pub will be introducing a new food menu, including homemade flatbread pizzas, hot dogs and burgers, as well as a children’s menu where kids eat free until 6pm, and daily themed food promotions. Chapman said: “The new food menu is really good value and creative, using fresh local produce with a twist on pub classics and allows customers to build their own burgers. We will have a range of grill specialities as well as a great lunch offer, fresh cakes as well as free Wi-Fi and an Italian-style coffee offer. We can now cater for a wider market, including families, as there is something for everyone. Ultimately, we want to give the Old Oak a new lease of life and bring the pub back to the community.”
   
Cardiff restaurant devotes entire menu to ‘man versus food’ challenges: The Cardiff restaurant Sizzle and Grill, owned by Paul Stevens, has developed an entire 40-item menu devoted to “man versus food” challenges. These include a giant 96oz rump steak, a 6 ½ pound “baby”’ burger weighing more than a sack of potatoes, “suicide” chicken wings covered in hot chilli sauce and a selection of giant desserts. Stevens was inspired by the US television programme Man vs Food, and claims to have the only restaurants in Britain providing an entire menu catering for food challenges. He has even bought the brand name Man vs Food Limited.
   
Property agents hired for Cains Brewery Village scheme in Liverpool: Property agents GVA and Colliers International have been appointed to the Cains Brewery Village scheme in Liverpool. Cains first unveiled the plans for a food market, boutique hotel and apartments last year as a rescue plan for the brewery when it was struggling with low margins from supermarket contracts, but since then it has been wound up with debts of £8m. Sudarghara and Ajmail Dusanj, who own the site, have permission to turn part of the Grade II-listed headquarters building on Grafton Street into a 100-bed boutique hotel, art house cinema, food market and restaurant. The plans, drawn up by Falconer Chester Hall, include a craft brewery and a second phase of apartments on an adjacent site. Jason Sibthorpe, head of retail at GVA, said: “It is fantastic to be involved in one of Liverpool’s most important regeneration projects. Once complete, the development will create a vibrant urban village which will not only act as a major tourist attraction for the city but also underpin the wider regeneration of the Baltic Triangle development area, creating a destination for creative and independent minded companies and individuals to thrive.”
   
KFC applies to open drive-through at former Orchid site: KFC has applied for consent to demolish a former Orchid pub Company site in Derby and replace it with a drive-through restaurant. The company applied to demolish the Master Locksmith pub in the Meteor Centre retail park. It would be the fourth KFC restaurant in Derby if the city council approves the plans. The Master Locksmith, formerly owned by Orchid Pub Group, was sold in January after closing last year. It was deemed “not viable as a pub business”.
   
South Woodford nightclub closes pending ‘final appeal’: A nightclub has closed pending the outcome of an appeal against a cut to its opening hours. Funky Mojoe in High Road, South Woodford, Essex, which employed 50 staff, lodged an application with the Court of Appeal after the High Court rejected a judicial review. Redbridge Council had limited the club’s opening times to normal pub hours after being presented with evidence of crime and anti-social behaviour. The nightclub has not opened on a Friday or Saturday for the last two weeks after it announced a new “bring your own bottle” policy to bypass the opening restriction. Director Kerry O’Reilly said: “It worked well and I still think it was a good idea as it was a cheaper night out for everyone but it was something we couldn’t sustain and affected the overall atmosphere.”
   
SSP hires WH Smith executive as new head of UK and Ireland business: SSP, the operator of food and beverage brands in travel locations worldwide, has appointed Simon Smith as chief executive of SSP UK & Ireland. Smith is currently managing director of WH Smith’s travel division and has a 20-year track record in retail. He began his career with Fenwicks before moving to Allders department stores and then Safeway, where he worked in both commercial and marketing roles. He joined the travel division of WH Smith in 2004 as trading director before being promoted to chief operating officer and, more recently, managing director. Kate Swann, chief executive of SSP, said: “Simon has an excellent track record in travel retail. At WH Smith he was instrumental in driving growth and the expansion of the business internationally. His proactive leadership style will undoubtedly contribute much to the continuing success of our UK and Ireland business, and I’m delighted to welcome him to the team.” Smith will join SSP in June and replace Mark Angela, who has been appointed to the new position of chief commercial officer for the group.
   
Pernod Ricard chooses Chiswick for new UK headquarters: Pernod Ricard UK is moving into Chiswick Park, West London after negotiations to occupy three storeys of neighbouring Hammersmith’s newest office building reportedly fell through. The company, the maker of brands such as Absolut vodka, Havana Club, Campo Viejo and Perrier-Jouet, will move into the business park, home to several headquarters including Starbucks, this September.
   
Heineken to invest £58m to make Hereford the “home of cider”: Brewing company Heineken is planning to invest £58m in its Bulmers cider operations in Hereford but about 100 workers at a plant in Ledbury face uncertainty. The company will use the money to increase production capacity and to modernise facilities. Heineken said the investment demonstrated its commitment to Herefordshire for the long-term as the “global home of cider”. Proposals have also been outlined for the Universal Beverages Ltd (UBL) site in Ledbury. The group plans to move the current cider production and packaging undertaken at factory to Hereford by late 2015. Ledbury, which employs about 100 workers, will then become a dedicated fruit-milling site.
   
Bid for first micropub in Lincolnshire launched: A bid to convert a former shop in Barton-upon-Humber, North Lincolnshire into a micropub and bistro has been launched. Katherine Coulam, of Barrow Road, Barton, has asked North Lincs Council for planning permission to convert the former Learn Direct premises in Market Place, a Grade II listed building 2,000 sq ft in total, into a micropub with a bistro under the name Tooley’s. The requested opening hours are 9am to 10pm for selling food and 11am to 12am for drink. A decision is due by 22 May. Barton, population 10,000, has six other pubs.
   
Nando’s and Jamie’s Italian set to benefit from street-specific social media campaign: Park Street in Bristol has been selected for a new social media initiative aimed at raising the profile of its shops and businesses. The campaign has been devised by sector expert Destination CMS in conjunction with Colliers International’s Bristol office. DCMS launched a similar project in Perth in Scotland last year using Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media to try to stimulate activity and regenerate the high street. The Perth social media campaign has already resulted in significant increase in footfall. DCMS and Colliers International plan to launch the campaign in the city centre before rolling out in other high streets across the country. Colliers International’s retail specialist, Dan Johnstone, said Park Street had been chosen as a recognised shopping destination with a strong community and a large number of independent retailers. He said: “Park Street is often described as the UK’s hippest street – and boasts a reputation for high end independent shops alongside a number of big name food and beverage operators including Nando’s and Jamie’s Italian.”
   
Byron to open in York this month: The better burger brand Byron will open in York this month, creating 40 jobs. The company will open a 108-seater restaurant in the former Danish Kitchen building in High Ousegate on 18 April. Tom Byng, founder of the chain, said: “We’re very happy to be opening in the capital of the north, at the heart of one of the country’s most beautiful and historic cities.” As well as 29 sites in London, Byron has restaurants in Liverpool, Manchester, Oxford, Kent and Cambridge. The Danish Kitchen, a family cafe business, sold its lease after 35 years of operations.
   
Prezzo is ‘first mover’ in creating cafe culture in West Norfolk: Prezzo has become first-mover in taking up a local authority invitation to create a cafe culture in King’s Lynn’s historic Tuesday Market Place. Parts of the square, which were formerly used for car parking, were paved and pedestrianised in a £1m revamp that began last summer. West Norfolk Council said it hoped to make better use of the space by allowing restaurants and bars to have outside seating. JD Wetherspoon’s Duke’s Head Hotel, King’s Lynn Corn Exchange and Prezzo all expressed an interest in creating a cafe culture. But Prezzo has gone first and now installed tables and awnings outside its restaurant, on the corner of King Street. “We believe offering our customers the chance to eat and drink outside in line with what is commonly seen in the rest of Europe is something people will welcome,” a spokesman for the company said.
   
Leeds Council wins first round of legal battle to limit lap-dancing clubs in city: Leeds City Council has won the first round of its legal battle to restrict the number of lap-dancing clubs in the city centre. But Wildcats, one of three venues that had their licences revoked last year, is refusing to admit defeat and has launched a fresh challenge in the courts. Owner Paul Gourlay said: “We are disappointed to hear that we have lost our judicial review of Leeds City Council’s decision to remove our licence. We challenged the decision based on the council’s new policy, that was taken despite the club having no complaints, disturbance issues or any kind of problem in the 12 months from the licence being granted in 2012.” The club’s new challenge will focus on the way the council drew up its policy on lap-dancing clubs which banned them from “prominent areas” and limited the total number in the city to four.
   
Pret A Manger finance director joins the board: Pret A Manger’s chief financial officer, Adam Jones, was added to the board at the start of the week as a director. Jones, who joined in February from the UK’s largest independent TV production company, ALL3 Media, leads the finance teams in the UK, US, Europe and Asia.
   
McDonald’s attacked for having too many menu choices: McDonald’s has been attacked by the investment advice company Motley Fool for having too many menu choices. In a report on the burger company that compares it unfavourably to rivals such as Chipotle Mexican Grill, Motley Fool columnist Jayson Derrick wrote: “McDonald’s has more than 100 menu choices for its customers, which is simply bad for business. A larger menu implies more ingredients, labour, equipment, and more importantly a staff that needs to be constantly retrained on handling new items. Investors are banking on the fact that the company’s sheer balance sheet strength and industry-leading marketing power can save the day. Unfortunately, this proved to be insufficient, as McDonald’s shares have underperformed the S&P 500 index and the Dow Jones industrial average (of which the company is a component) since 2012. McDonald’s has become the “dog of the Dow” with plenty of other competitors offering investors a much stronger growth prospect.” The too-large menu means staff are slowed down as consumers put in “custom grill orders”, Derrick wrote, unlike rivals: “Consumers are flocking to Chipotle for many reasons, one of which being it has a simplified menu that allows for quick and efficient food preparation.” Chipotle reported its fourth-quarter results in January and its like-for-like growth 9.3% was well ahead of US analysts’ consensus expectations of around 6% growth.
   
Realpubs founders buy first two sites for new company: The Old Ship Inn in Hackney, North London has been sold by the property agent Davis Coffer Lyons to Urban Pubs & Bars, the new company set up by the founders of Realpubs, Malcolm Heap and Nick Pring, last year. This purchase comes after the opening of the company’s first site, the Whippet Inn in Kensal Rise, North London last month. Urban Pubs & Bars is looking to grow an estate of up to 20 sites across Central London and its “urban villages” over the next four years by acquiring quality leasehold or freehold public houses, capable of achieving weekly sales in excess of £20,000. The Old Ship Inn is a three-storey mid-terrace public house in a popular area of Hackney close to the London Fields overground station and close to the Hackney Empire. The 4,850 sq ft pub has a bar area on the ground floor with ten en-suite four-star rated boutique hotel rooms on the upper floors. Chris Bickle, associate director at DCL, said: “Hackney is an increasingly sought after area of London particularly for independent operators. The area has experienced a seismic shift in popularity with the various travel infrastructure and commercial development projects. Average house prices are now in excess of £500,000 in the borough. The Old Ship Inn is perfectly positioned to serve the diverse customer base in the area.” Malcom Heap said: “We are very excited to be in Hackney for our second site. The Old Ship Inn is a great pub and this will be our first foray into the pub hotel market; we expect the ten rooms to continue to be a great income stream for the business.”
   
Technomic and Propel Info partner to launch UK and US foodservice perspectives conference: The leading insights and research firm Technomic has partnered Propel Info to launch the first ever full-day conference to compare and contrast current eating-out trends in the UK and the United States. The day will look at some of the most innovative foodservice launches in the US in the past year – and provide analysis of the US brands currently looking to enter the UK market. Technomic’s vice-president, Darren Tristano, will examine best practice in menu, concept and service among growth concepts. There will also be insights on today’s foodservice consumer, current key UK industry metrics and forecasts and beverage trends in the UK and the US. Panel discussions include leading UK and US culinary directors and consumer insights directors, as well as a case study of a new beverage menu roll-out. Technomic’s Patrick Noone will provide insights on current UK trending menu flavours and preparations and consumer priorities and attitudes. Don Fox, chief executive of Firehouse Subs, the 750-strong US-based, fast casual restaurant chain , which specialises in hot subs, will offer lessons from a leading US growth chain. Propel’s managing director, Paul Charity, said: “The conference offer a great way to understood both UK and US foodservice trends, with panel discussions involving leading operators from both countries.” The conference takes place on Tuesday 10 June at Stationer’s Hall, Ave Maria Lane, London EC4 and tickets are priced at £345 for operators and £395 for suppliers. Those attending will also get a free copy of a Technomic report on the performance of the 250 leading US restaurant companies and the UK’s leading 100 foodservice brands. To book a place e-mail jo.charity@propelinfo.com

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