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Tue 22nd Apr 2014 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Camerons starts to add to Head of Steam estate with managed conversion: Brewer and retailer Camerons is to convert one of its existing managed pubs to the premium-beer The Head Of Steam trading template next month – the company acquired the seven-strong Head of Steam group at the end of 2013. The Aspire site, on Front Street in Tynemouth, will close its doors today (Tuesday 22 April) and plans to re-open as The Head Of Steam on Friday 2 May. Previous joint owner of Head of Steam Tony Brookes has continued working with Camerons since the sale of the business and has identified key sites in the Camerons retail estate that could be converted into The Head Of Steam pubs. Brookes said: “I have visited all of the pubs within the current Camerons estate and the site in Tynemouth stood out as the ideal venue to launch our newest The Head Of Steam concept. The site will retain all of the great principles we have developed in the other venues with a focus on great local and national cask ales and ciders, craft keg and packaged beers, lagers and stouts from the best UK and world brewers, as well as a fantastic new food menu and live music. It was crucial for both Camerons and myself to identify only a premium venue to adopt The Head Of Steam name and Tynemouth is a location I had always hoped to open a new site.” Joe Smith, pub estates and operations director at Camerons Brewery, added: “The purchase of The Head Of Steam group in December was a huge move for Camerons as we look to develop our retail estate. We are looking to raise the quality of our existing pubs and this is one of the first steps in this process.” Camerons is also offering its tenants a selection of cask ales from local and national UK brewers as well as craft world beers to improve the retail offer. The project, named ’10 Green Bottles’, will offer a varied selection of rotating cask, keg and bottled brands from partner suppliers. Brands such as Mahou, Budvar, Erdinger and Chimay will be introduced in the tenanted estate. “Our aim is to transform the Camerons retail estate so it becomes the highest-profile, sought-out set of pubs in the north of England,” added Smith.
   

Industry News:

FSA starts ‘priority testing’ of lamb dishes from takeaways in hunt for mislabelled meat: The Food Standards Authority (FSA) has announced a programme of priority testing of lamb dishes from takeaway restaurants across the UK after evidence of regular substitution of lamb for cheaper meats such as beef and chicken. After a review of local authority sampling data from July to December 2013 found that 43 out of 145 samples of lamb takeaway meals contained meat other than lamb, local authorities are being asked to test 300 samples from takeaway restaurants and report the findings to the FSA. A survey released last week of lamb dishes from restaurants in Birmingham and London by consumer watchdog Which? found that out of 60 lamb takeaways, 30 curries and 30 minced lamb kebabs, 24 were adulterated with beef and chicken. The mislabelling of food can result in fines of up to £5,000.
   
Burger King rolls out upgraded Wi-Fi to all US stores: Burger King has rolled out an upgraded “Whopper Wi-Fi” platform to all its units in the US, making wireless internet connectivity available in every one of its restaurants. Alex Macedo, president of Burger King’s North America division, said: “Whopper Wi-Fi is about improving the in-restaurant experience for our guests. We are committed to enhancing our digital platforms across the board.” Burger King began accepting mobile payments at many of its locations in the US this month, and it will be available at all its sites within a few months. Almost three out of five – 58% – of American adults now own a smartphone, a figure that rises to more than four out of five – 83% – for 18 to 29-year-olds. Almost two thirds – 63% – of US adults access the internet on their phones now, up from 31% in 2009.
   
Chipotle to raise menu prices ‘in mid single-digit range’: The US restaurant chain Chipotle Mexican Grill is planning to raise its menu prices “in the mid-single digit range” in the third quarter of this year to help address rising food costs for key ingredients such as beef, cheese and avocados. The price rise would be Chipotle’s first in the US in nearly three years. Jack Hartung, Chipotle’s chief financial officer, said the chain has “plenty of pricing power”, but the goal is to ensure the menu remains accessible to guests in what continues to be an uneven economic recovery. The announcement came as Chipotle reported an 8.5% increase in net income for the quarter ended 31 March. Like-for-like sales at the chain’s 1,637 outlets rose a whopping 13.5%, in part because of easy comparisons with the first quarter of 2013, when like-for-like sales increased a more modest 1%. The 13.4% increase in the first quarter was driven primarily by traffic, though the average customer bill also rose, and the chain reaped the benefit of an extra trading day, with Easter falling in the second quarter this year.
   
Britain’s smallest pub reopens under new landlords: A pub in Southport, Lancashire that claims to be the smallest in Britain has reopened after closing more than six months ago. The Lakeside Inn on the Promenade, which entered the Guinness Book Of Records in 1989 as the country’s smallest pub, is now being run by Stephen and Sue Kirkbride, who also run The Victoria pub close by. Stephen said the Lakeside Inn “needs some care and attention, it’s looking a bit lost and I think me and Sue are the right people for the job. The Victoria was left empty and tired for a long time, but we worked very hard to build it up. I don’t doubt it’s now Southport’s busiest summer pub.” The interior of The Lakeside Inn measures just 16ft by 22ft, and it is licensed to hold 50 people, although it has plenty of outdoor seating overlooking Southport’s Marine Lake.
   

Company News:

Castle Rock acquires 11th pub around Nottingham: Nottingham brewer and pub operator Castle Rock has acquired its eleventh pub in the area, The Willowbrook, in Main Road, Gedling. The pub is due to reopen tomorrow (23 April) after a £300,000 refurbishment that has included improvements to the dining area, kitchen, bar and toilets. It will serve “traditional pub grub with a modern twist” alongside 14 cask ales and ciders. Pub manager Pete Hopwell said: “The new-look pub is outstanding, and I can say that after 25 years in the trade. I am sure there are areas to suit every type of pub-goer.”
   
Former Pitcher and Bar in Norwich set for conversion to German beer hall: Steven King, the man behind Bar 11 in Upper King Street, Norwich, is planning to open a German beer hall and sports bar next door, called Stadia, in a former Pitcher & Piano site. The £800,000 venue, due to open in five weeks’ time, will be based on a German beer hall downstairs, with two-pint steins of beer on sale, while upstairs there will be a 26-metre circumference bar counter shaped like a hot tub with sport on TV and DJs. King said he had the idea for the new venue after visiting the Bierkeller German Bavarian bar in Liverpool, owned by Burning Night Group. He told The Eastern Daily Press newspaper: “There will be big wooden tables, an oompah band and steins of beer like in a German beerhouse.” The building, which has been closed for several years, has previously been known as Cafe Maximo, The Office and Pitcher & Piano, and was offices for Norwich Union before that. King said that Bar 11, which opened in September 2011, enjoyed its busiest ever Saturday this month, with 1,500 people coming through the door.
   
Former Beds and Bars executive reports 400% leap in business at first Sirius Leisure site: Iain Dempster, a former retail development manager at pan-European hostel provider Beds and Bars, is reporting 400% growth at his first venture, The Leadburn Inn in Midlothian, Scotland, since taking it on under his new company, Sirius Leisure, in October last year. The original Leadburn Inn has occupied the same site since 1777, but was destroyed by fire in 2005. The new building opened in 2009, but never captured the same following as the original venue. Dempster took on the inn, which had a children’s soft play area and a failed restaurant, with a plan to change it back to a country pub – it is a private free-of-tie lease. “I’ve known and frequented the place since my youth and had a real passion to restore it to its former glory as a destination country pub,” Dempster said. He converted the bland dining area back to a traditional-looking pub with some contemporary features and installed ten beer lines, all craft beers and artisan cider. Food is overseen by head chef James Mannarn. Dempster added: “We have just linked up with a new local brewery, Freewheelin’, to become its brewery tap. Freewheelin’ is producing some fantastic brews and is getting a real following. The large kids’ soft play area has been refurbished and branded ‘Big Bear’s Fun House’ to give the space its own identity. The soft play is an integral part of the business and a real hub for families from the local community.” The Leadburn has witnessed 400% growth since the takeover with the next move being the conversion of the upstairs into seven hotel bedrooms.
   
TLC Inns opens second Grand Central bar and grill: TLC Inns, the award-winning operator of pubs and restaurants led by Steve and Jo Haslam, has opened its second Grand Central bar and grill, this time in Ely, Cambridgeshire. The company, which already operates The Cutter Inn pub in Ely, has invested £250,000 in converting the former Boathouse Restaurant into the new venue where the focus will be on New York American food and drink – ribs, burgers, fajitas, steaks, shakes and cocktails. The venue, which has created 38 new jobs, opens to a VIP night tonight (Tuesday 22 April) and opens to the public at 6pm tomorrow – is being led by Lee Clark from the award-winning Henny Swan in Sudbury. Steve Haslam said: “Our first Grand Central in Basildon, opened more than two years ago, has been a runaway success and we have been delighted by the enthusiasm that Ely has shown for our new opening. We’ve operated The Cutter for seven years in Ely and the pub is incredibly popular. Grand Central is located about 100 metres away and offers the newest dishes from the US in a funky diner and grill setting – with the same superb riverside setting as The Cutter. The interest in the opening has taken us a little by surprise with more than a 1,000 fans already on our Facebook page.” The new Grand Central opening means that TLC Inns now operates seven pubs and restaurants – but the company was founded in Ely with the opening of The Cutter. Haslam added: “The Cutter was our very first pub – before it opened we ran a cleaning company. We have a huge amount of affection for Ely, not least because it was the success of The Cutter that has allowed us to expand elsewhere in the UK. Naturally, we are delighted to be able to open a second business in the City, offering a different kind of eating out experience to The Cutter.” TLC Inns has plans to open a third Grand Central in East Anglia, with a site close to being secured. The company also has support from its bank, Barclays Corporate, to open a further four Grand Central sites. 
   
Gusto spins off from Living Ventures with management buy-out: Gusto, which currently runs 11 sites in the north of England and Scotland, has completed a management buyout from its parent group, Living Ventures, backed by equity investment from Palatine Private Equity. The Restaurant Group will now quit the business and is receiving £7m as cash proceeds, which it will use to deliver a special dividend of 3.45p per share to its investors. Gusto managing director Sue Crimes and operations director Tony Griffin, will join the board of the new company, with Palatine’s managing partner, Gary Tipper, and its investment director, Beth Houghton, who led the investment process, completing the team. Tim Bacon and Jeremy Roberts, who founded Living Ventures in 1999, have both invested in the new Gusto business and will stay on as non-executive directors. Gusto, based in Knutsford, which was founded in 2007 after the re-launch from Est Est Est, is now looking to open more restaurants across the UK over the next three to four years. It currently operates at sites including Alderley Edge, Cookridge, Cheadle Hulme, Didsbury, Edinburgh, Heswall, Knutsford, Liverpool and Newcastle. This year, the business achieved sales of £16.4m, an 8% year-on-year increase, and it employs more than 400 staff. It already has plans to launch a new flagship restaurant in Manchester city centre, and intends opening more restaurants across the UK, focusing on city centres and affluent suburbs. Locations in Glasgow, Cheshire, Leamington Spa and York have already been picked out.
   
Hogs Back brewery boosts Surrey hop growing: The Hogs Back brewery in Surrey is aiming to become the biggest brewer/hop grower in Britain with the planting of a two-and-a-half acre hop garden next door to the brewery in Tongham. The hops will be a combination of Farnham White Bine, a variety developed in the early 1700s and named for the nearby Surrey town of Farnham, which was once one of the most highly regarded hops in the country, and Cascade, an American variety. The Hogs Back brewing team will be planting and growing the hops themselves, and both White Bine and Cascade hops will be used in beers that will be launched over the next 12 months, including exclusive beers for leading pub groups and a special beer featuring just these varieties. Rupert Thompson, chairman of Hogs Back Brewery, said: “It will be wonderful to look out from the brewery and see the raw materials we use growing in the next door field – that’s local! That is part of what makes the craft brewing revival so exciting and we hope to build on this initiative with some further interesting innovations”. About half of the hops grown will eventually be used in Hogs Back’s own beers, and half sold to fellow brewers in the UK and United States.
   
Former Coronation Street stars open fourth venue – hot dog concept: Former Coronation Street stars Rupert Hill and Jonny Booth are opening their fourth venue, a hot dog concept called Parlour Dogs. The site, in Chorlton, occupies the site previously occupied by The Hungry Gecko in the beer garden of The Beech Inn. Hill and Booth, also operate The Castle and Gullivers pubs in Manchester and The Eagle Inn in Salford. They’ve collaborated with award-winning Chorlton butchers W H Frosts for the new concept to come up with a “secret recipe” sausage which they reckon will be a British version of the all-American hot dog.
   
Wetherspoon names opening date for Penrith site: JD Wetherspoon has named Tuesday 8 July as the planned opening date for its new outlet in Penrith, Cumbria. The company has taken over the former premises of Toppers nightclub, on Southend Road, which will now be called The Dog Beck. A spokeswoman for the firm said the new site is likely to employ between 40 and 45 people.
   
Vapiano targets Leeds, Sheffield, Manchester and Newcastle as key franchise areas: The international pizza and pasta restaurant chain Vapiano has set its sights on Leeds, Sheffield, Manchester and Newcastle as key areas for its franchised UK expansion outside of London. UK managing director Phil Sermon said the plan is to get to 50 Vapianos around the UK, with Leeds, Sheffield, Manchester and Newcastle as key target areas. He told The Yorkshire Evening Post: “We think we could have 20 restaurants in London, and Leeds is of such a scale it could support two or three Vapianos. There is an opportunity for a regional investor to get involved. We want their knowledge and passion for the city. We’d like to open in Yorkshire when we are confident we have the right franchise partner. The restaurant would open within a year of signing the franchise agreement.” Sermon said the group has a wide variety of franchisees, many of whom have come from other franchise businesses such as McDonald’s.
   
Le Bistrot Pierre announces August opening for Torquay outlet: Le Bistrot Pierre has announced an August opening date for the two-storey restaurant and bar being built in the £12m Abbey Sands development, a six-storey complex on Torquay seafront in Devon. The restaurant was first announced in October last year. The company, which has invested a “substantial six-figure sum” in the development, is now looking for managers, chefs and waiters at the restaurant, which is expected to create up to 60 jobs.
   
Fuller’s starts third phase of Made of London ad campaign: The London brewer and pub owner Fuller Smith & Turner is launching the third phase of its Made of London ad campaign for its London Pride beer brand. The first two bursts of activity for the campaign, last year, increased “top-of-mind brand awareness by 37%”, the brewer said. The campaign includes advertisements in titles such as Metro, Evening Standard and Time Out, and new posters appearing in Tube stations across the capital and at a number of rail stations in London and the south east.
   
Former Living Room ops director reopens Punch pub: A former director of operations with the Living Room chain and Ha! Ha! Bar and Grill has taken over a formerly closed Punch Taverns pub in Lancaster and is reopening it this Friday after a £450,000 co-investment as the first of what may turn into a chain of venues. Mick Horan, managing director of Strawberry Enterprise, was operations director at the Living Room chain from October 2012 until October last year. Twenty new jobs have been created at The Study Room, formerly The Nags Head, in Church Street, Lancaster after the creation of “a contemporary bar with a relaxed feel”. Punch Taverns’ partnership development manager, Andrew Stones, said: “Previously, the pub was closed for almost two years and it’s great that Punch can invest in the venue and work in partnership with Mick Horan to bring it back to life.”
   
Pub owner plans convenience store for second site, a Punch pub: A pub operator in Kingswinford, near Dudley in the West Midlands, is to install a convenience store at his second site, a pub he has leased from Punch Taverns, The Hinksford Arms in the village. The pub, formerly known as The Old Bush, on Swindon Road, has been closed for the past seven weeks while a £325,000 refurbishment has taken place, jointly funded by Punch and Brett Holden, who already runs The Bell in Kingswinford High Street. Ten new jobs have been created and Holden said he plans to incorporate a convenience store within the pub and introduce a cask ale loyalty card for customers. South Staffordshire MP Gavin Williamson is to officially reopen the pub tomorrow, Wednesday 23 April.
   
Revived Northampton brewery plans bar: The revived Phipps brewery in Northampton is planning a new bar in the restored Albion brewery. The original Phipps brewery in Northampton closed in 1974, but the name was revived in 2008, with the beers being brewed under licence at the Grainstore brewery in Rutland. In February, it was announced that the revived Phipps Northampton Brewery Company would be opening a £1m brewery on the site of a former brewery on Kingswell Street taken over by the original Phipps, and would be producing a range of Phipps beers, Northamptonshire whisky and Kingswell Mineral Water. Now it has been announced that the Northampton Mercury and Herald horseman statue on the former Chronicle & Echo newspaper building in Northampton, which is due to be turned into an Aldi supermarket, is to be preserved in the restored brewery. Alaric Neville of Phipps NBC said: “The statue and plaque will become a feature of our new bar in the restored Albion Brewery which will open at the end of the year and will be on display for all to see along with other historical Northampton brewing artefacts.” 
   
Local council buys former Pubfolio outlet to preserve it for locals: South Tyneside Council has bought a former Pubfolio pub to keep it safe for locals. The Roadhouse, in Victoria Road West, Hebburn, was up for sale for £165,000 four years on from the collapse of Pubfolio, which went into administration owing its banks more than £50m. The Roadhouse, was lined up for demolition as part of a £12.8m regeneration scheme, but South Shields Council stayed its hand after locals collected a 1,000-name petition to save the pub, which dates back to the 1860s. The council said it “reviewed its position” to ensure that whatever happens to The Roadhouse, it reflects the desire of local people to have a high quality family pub for the benefit of regulars and the wider community. The pub was recently named an asset of community value, after an application by residents. However, South Shields Council said, “although a private individual has come forward with a bid, we understand that it does not include plans to invest in the property. We simply could not risk the pub being left without investment, detracting from the larger regeneration we are undertaking in the town centre, and with the possibility that we might need to intervene later, at increased cost to the council.” It said talks will now be held with the existing tenant about the viability of the business and how future investment could improve the building and customer experience. The council spokesman added: “This is an exciting time for Hebburn and we cannot allow The Roadhouse to deteriorate while progress is made all around it.”
   
Mark Young succeeds Martin Hall as CEO at ZEO company: Martin Hall is stepping down from his post as chief executive of Freedrinks, the company behind the innovative soft drink ZEO, at the end of this month, to be replaced by the company’s current sales director, Mark Young. ZEO, the first offering from Freedrinks, is a blend of fruits and botanicals. Hall said: “Now that ZEO is launched and we have distribution in Tesco, WH Smith, the Co-op, and multiple managed pub and restaurant operators, it’s time for someone else to take the business to the next stage.” Dragan Zarcovic, Freedrinks’ chairman, said: “We are extremely grateful to Martin, who has done a fantastic job in launching this excellent, low-sugar product into the market at just the right time. At the same time, as part of the planned leadership changes, we are very pleased to announce that Mark Young, currently our sales and main board director, will succeed Martin. Mark is an excellent choice as CEO.” Young has more than 25 years’ experience within the UK FMCG market, most recently holding senior positions at PepsiCo UK.
   
Fuller’s hails 100-year-old barmaid: The London brewer and pub owner Fuller Smith & Turner laid on a special celebration on Saturday to mark the 100th birthday of barmaid Dolly Saville, who works at The Red Lion in Wendover. Dolly still works three days a week at the pub, 75 years after she first started. Jane Bravey, operations manager for The Red Lion, said: “Dolly is a fantastic asset to Fuller’s and The Red Lion and we are incredibly proud to have such a dedicated member of staff and friend in Dolly. She likes to do a good job and keep busy, so she continues to work three shifts a week. If you have lunch at The Red Lion, she may well serve you, so please say hello. She is a truly amazing lady and, in our eyes, a national treasure.” The Red Lion hosted a party with five generations of Dolly’s family attending, along with local residents, friends and colleagues. Martin Howard, manager of The Red Lion, said: “There were lots of surprises for Dolly, including a beautiful birthday cake designed and made by the chocolate company Choccywoccydoodah, 100 roses, presents and even a letter from the Prime Minister. Everyone worked so hard to make the day special for Dolly and her family and Sir Jackie Stewart, the motor racing legend, arrived with a signed magnum of Champagne.”
   
Punch adds seven new brewers to Finest Cask scheme: Punch Taverns is working with seven new brewers in its Finest Cask scheme this spring, including Island Brewery on the Isle of Wight, Conwy Brewery in North Wales and Peerless Brewing Co in Birkenhead, on Merseyside. Punch offers more than 100 cask ales to its licensees through its core supply, as well as an additional 100 over the year through Finest Cask rotations. John Healy, commercial director for Punch Taverns, said: “Cask ale is one of the unique selling points for British pubs and we feel that it is one of the most significant business drivers for our pubs. We try to work with new brewers on every rotation and are always looking for new brewers to work in partnership with. Whilst the big brewers can support our partners with point of sale kits, smaller brewers can give our pubs the opportunity to offer regional variety.”
   
Garden centre branches out into coffee shop: A garden centre in Cardiff has opened a coffee shop and tea house serving breakfast, lunch and high tea seven days a week. Pugh’s Garden Village, in the suburb of Radyr, purchased a disused building next door to its premises and approached NatWest to help secure funding for the project, which helped to arrange £300,000 through the government’s Funding for Lending Scheme. Helen Pugh, catering director at Pugh’s Garden Village, said: “Customer experience is really what this new coffee shop development is about. We’re bringing something different to the local community and customers from further afield. This really helps us stay ahead of the competition.”
   
Growler Brewery bought back by founder, to be renamed Nethergate: The Growler Brewery, the microbrewer set up on the Essex-Suffolk border as Nethergate almost 30 years ago, has been bought back by its founder after going into administration. Dick Burge has led a consortium to buy back the brewery, based in Pentlow, Essex, which he originally established as Nethergate in 1986. The award-winning brewery was put up for sale in March having been taken over by its current management in 2010, which went about rebranding Nethergate as Growler – its most popular beer. Burge said he wants to bring the company back to its Nethergate roots and renew focus on its core business. “We’re going to use the Nethergate name much more than the Growler,” Burge said. “I’ve spoken to about 20 customers, and they all say that Nethergate works better.” Burge originally set the business up in Clare, and it moved the short distance to its current site on the Essex/Suffolk border in 2005. It currently employs 12 people and has an annual turnover approaching £2m. The Waggon and Horses in nearby Sudbury, although branded as a Growler Brewery pub, is owned by a private individual rather than the brewery, though the owner “is very much convinced it should remain as a brewer’s tap – the pub has done very well anyway so far, selling products from Growler Brewery,” Burge said. The brewery had been chaired by the former Molson Coors managing director John Holberry, who had has appointed industry veteran Steve Wilkinson as its new managing director in November last year.
   
Hungry Horse, Purple Pig, Chinese Buffet added to Darlington development: Greene King’s Hungry Horse family pub-restaurant chain, the gourmet burger offer Purple Pig and the Bolton-based Chinese Buffet have been added to the multi-million pound Feethams Leisure development, on the site of Darlington’s former bus station. Nando’s and Prezzo have already been named for the development, which also includes a nine-screen Vue cinema and an 80-bed Premier Inn hotel. The leases on two other units have been agreed with unnamed operators, although not yet officially signed, according to The Northern Echo newspaper, while a final unit overlooking the River Skerne is still available. Duncan McEwan, head of retail and leisure development at Terrace Hill, the company behind the scheme, said the £30m development would be made available to investors in the coming weeks and, once finance is in place, building work will begin in late summer. McEwan said the scheme was running slightly behind schedule, but should open to the public in spring 2016. It will be the first outlet in the north east of England for Chinese Buffet, which opened its first restaurant in Bolton in 2006 and has since opened others in Wigan, Wakefield, Preston, Wrexham, Halifax, Bradford, Blackpool and St Helens. Purple Pig has one other outlet, in Yarm, Stockton.
   
Prezzo in bid for Fleet store: Italian chain Prezzo has applied for an A3 food and drink use for a former children’s clothes store and estate agent’s office at 204 and 206 Fleet Road, Fleet, Hampshire. If planning permission is granted, the Prezzo would be just a few doors down from PizzaExpress and El Castello, while further along Fleet Road is the Ask Italian restaurant and Domino’s Pizza, and a fifth restaurant, Al Fresco, is round the corner in Reading Road South. The Salisbury-based town planning and development consultancy Allen Planning is acting as agent for Prezzo. In its application it said: “We submit that the use of these units as a Prezzo restaurant could add significant vitality and viability to this secondary retail location on the edge of the primary town centre.” Hart Council will make a decision on the application by 14 May.
   
Taco Bell’s introduction of breakfast menu ‘a success’ says YouGov: Taco Bell has seen indicators of consumer perception and social media engagement rise steadily since it introduced its breakfast menu in the US on 27 March, suggesting that the launch was successful and that it might have had an effect on rival McDonald’s, according to the consumer research firm YouGov BrandIndex. Beginning on 27 March, Taco Bell’s “buzz score” as measured by BrandIndex rose from 13.2 out of 100 to a high of 17.6 on 16 April, the last day that BrandIndex collected data from about 5,000 daily surveys with US consumers on how positively or negatively they perceive brands. The chain’s climb in buzz score did not reverse even when McDonald’s began a two-week coffee giveaway on 31 March or launched its own ad campaign for McGriddles on 14 April. Ted Marzilli, chief executive of YouGov BrandIndex, said: “This is looking very much like a positive story for Taco Bell.”

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