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Fri 25th Apr 2014 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Britvic rolls out multi-million-pound assault to boost quality of draught soft drinks dispense: Soft drinks firm Britvic is rolling out new equipment, new fonts and new glassware to boost standards in the £2.3bn on-trade draught soft drinks market. The new fonts, which will start appearing in Marston’s pubs and free trade outlets from Monday, will eventually go into more than 23,000 outlets. They are designed to dramatically boost the presence of draught soft drinks on the bar, while the new flow control technology will ensure that consumers “receive a consistent, high-quality drink wherever they choose to socialise,” Britvic says, and the new branded Pepsi glasses are designed with a waist to ensure bar staff put just the right amount of ice into each serve, with nucleation sites on the bottom of each glass to boost carbonation. At the same time the company says it is investing “very heavily” in educating bar staff to create the best possible serve, with training modules designed in conjunction with Flow. Nigel Paine, commercial director, out-of-home for Britvic, whose brands include Pepsi, Robinsons, Tango, R Whites and J2O, said: “Draught soft drinks sales in the on-trade sector are bigger than packaged, with strong value growth, at 7.6%.” Abigail Dixon, commercial and marketing lead on the project at Britvic, said: “This is the first year of a three-year journey. As market leader, Britvic is best placed to be pushing the agenda forward for the draught category. It’s fair to say that the experience the consumer is currently getting is inconsistent, from superior to not-so-great.” Touch-screen fonts are currently being trialed in Pizza Hut and Harvester outlets, Dixon said, which allow for a degree of customisation by guests as they pick their drinks. Elsewhere, the new fonts will display the full range of drinks available in the outlet, and not just Pepsi and R Whites, Dixon said. Britvic is also intending rolling out dispenses that allow consumers to personalise their drinks using its Teisseire range of fruit syrups, such as strawberry and vanilla, she said. Britvic is also using the free smartphone image-recognition app Blippar, which will call up exclusive content when pointed at the Pepsi logo on the new glasses.
   

Industry News:

Propel 3 July Multi Club Conference and summer party opens for bookings: The Propel Multi Club Conference on Thursday 3 July at the Oxford Belfry, which will be followed by the Propel summer party in the evening, is now open for bookings – operators can claim two free places each. A full-day conference will be followed by the summer party, to include go-karting, a BBQ, the top live covers band the All Stars (which includes Simply Red’s guitarist and Rod Stewart’s bass player) and Lucky Voice karaoke. To secure places or get more information, email Jo Charity on jo.charity@propelinfo.com.
   
Three cups of coffee a day cuts diabetes risk: Three cups of coffee a day could significantly reduce the risk of diabetes, new research has claimed. Previous studies have suggested that coffee drinkers have a lower diabetes risk but the new research suggests an individual’s risk can be further reduced by stepping up consumption. The research found that increasing consumption by one-and-a-half cups a day cuts the chance of developing type 2 diabetes by 11%.
   
New York’s Central Park Tavern on the Green re-opens after $20m refit: The iconic Tavern on the Green in Central Park, New York has re-opened after being closed and a $20m refit. The new Tavern is intended to appeal to New Yorkers, not just tourists. Its rustic menu by chef Katy Sparks features locally sourced items, and the space is significantly smaller than the sprawling original, according to the Wall Street Journal. The restaurant, which originally opened in 1870 to house Central Park’s sheep before being turned into a restaurant in 1934, closed in 2009 after it filed for bankruptcy.
   
Winners unveiled in first London coffee shop awards: White Mulberries in St Katherine’s Dock has been voted Best Coffee Shop in the inaugural London Coffee Stop awards, which attracted 18,000 votes from Londoners. London’s Best New Coffee Shop was The Wren based in St Nicholas Cole Abbey. The awards have been such a success that organisor Chris Ward plans to make this an annual event with a nationwide award later this year.
   

Company News:

US-based Potbelly searches for UK master franchisor: The US-based Potbelly sandwich chain, which has more than 300 outlets generating almost $300m in sales in the US, is looking to recruit a UK master franchisee. The typical shop size is 2,300 square feet with 40 to 60 covers. A spokesman told Propel: “The latest results for 2013 show average store revenues at $1.1m and 20% shop level profits. A successful NASDAQ IPO in 2013 reflected investor confidence in the business model. A 10% increase in outlet numbers and 20% revenue growth are business targets for the next few years. The brand has recently launched in the Middle East – 12 stores now successfully operate in the region under a franchising model. The business is now embarking on the next phase of growth and the international market is seen as a major opportunity. The UK has been identified as one of the key regions for development and the business is actively looking for a master franchisee to launch and develop the brand.”
   
June opening date for new Clevely concept: The new project planned by the founders of Geronimo Inns, Rupert and Jo Clevely, will open in Brighton on Tuesday 17 June. The couple has formed Greenwell & Tipple to work with Southern Trains to open its first site, The Cyclist Refreshment Room, in the soon-to-be renovated Brighton station. However, Rupert Clevely told Propel that there have been delays getting on site. Brighton station sees 36,000 passengers pass through it daily. The Clevelys plan to “move away from the gastro-pub clichés, and towards the individuality befitting a modern train station drinking and dining venue”. Clevely said the new company had one or two other things in the pipeline.
   
BrewDog to open BottleDog in London today: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog is opening BottleDog, its first craft beer bottle shop today. The outlet, at 69 Grays Inn Road, Central London, is the first in a series of bottle shops the brewery is planning to open in 2014. It will stock more than 250 different beers, as well as hosting four beers on tap. Customers will also be able to fill up takeaway flasks, known as growlers, from the taps on site to take draft beer home. BottleDog will also cater for the ever-increasing number of homebrewers in the capital by offering homebrewing equipment, as well as brewing essentials such as wet yeast, malt and hops. Staff will be on hand to dispense advice and help for homebrewers and craft beer enthusiasts. All BottleDog employees will be cicerone-trained, ensuring the highest standards in beer knowledge and expertise. BottleDog will also host the brewery’s Beer School and tasting sessions, in addition to homebrew classes and will also hold regular Meet the Brewer events with local London breweries. The shop has a seating capacity for 20 to 25 persons.
   
Greene King plays down Scott Collins adviser story: Greene King has played down a story in The Daily Telegraph claiming that Meatliquor founder Scott Collins “has been hired as an adviser by the listed pub group, Greene King”. A Greene King source told Propel: “It isn’t really news, as we inherited Scott when we acquired Capital, so he has been working with us for the last two-and-a-half years!”
   
McDonald’s to mobilise Ronald McDonald for social media: McDonald’s says its Ronald McDonald clown mascot, which has been less-used by the company in recent years after criticism that he is a tool for marketing to children, is to take an active role on social media for the first time, using the hashtag ronaldmcdonald. The company says Ronald McDonald will not have his own Twitter handle, but that it will post photos and videos of him on its existing social media accounts. The clown will also appear in TV ads later this year wearing new clothes, including cargo pants and a vest. Other photos of him posted by McDonald’s on Wednesday showed him wearing a red sports coat over the cropped pants. “His iconic big red shoes will remain the same,” McDonald’s said in a statement.
   
Spirit buys Birmingham pub for Flaming Grill conversion for £1.5m: A once-thriving Birmingham restaurant, the Modern China, has been brought by Spirit Pub Company in a £1.5m deal that will see it transformed into a Flaming Grill pub. The pub on Marsh Hill in Stockland Green is scheduled to reopen in July after a major refurbishment and is looking to mark its new era by offering the people of Birmingham the chance to give it a new name. Julie McEwan, business development manager for Flaming Grill, said: “The current name is an obvious nod to the venue’s former life as a Chinese restaurant, but doesn’t fit with our investment plans to transform it into a Flaming Grill pub. We have some fantastic plans in place for the refurbishment that will really make the pub a hot spot destination for the local community, so we felt it was only fitting that the valued community play their part in the re-launch of the pub.”
   
Everards tenants to launch Birmingham artisan bakery: Everards tenants Carl Finn and Matt Marriott, who run Birmingham’s New Orleans-inspired pub The Church in the Jewellery Quarter, are launching a commercial bakery to supply city centre pubs, restaurants and shops with artisan bread. It will open in May. Finn, the founder of Birmingham’s Soul Food Project, and his business partner Marriott are setting up Peel & Stone with local chefs Dom Clarke and Lap Fi-Lee. The new bakery is on Water Street, near The Church, and will supply bread to the trade within a four-mile radius of central Birmingham. “We know the city centre well and know demand is there,” Finn said. Peel & Stone will focus on wholesale but will also sell bread to the public at certain times. It is gearing up to produce at least 3,600 buns and loaves a month and will deliver them using its own vans. Finn and Marriott teamed up with the Leicester brewer and pub owner Everards to run The Church in May 2013 under the brewer’s Project Artisan scheme. Finn said: “Everards have been supportive of our bakery idea and have been great to work with from day one. We’re still looking at potential new sites with Everards. We don’t want to stop at just a bakery. With the people we now have on board at Soul Food Project, we have the potential to go much further.”
   
Patisserie Valerie planning nine sites in Northern Ireland: Patisserie Valerie, whose parent company revealed plans to float on Wednesday, hopes to open up to nine shops in Northern Ireland, the Belfast Telegraph has reported. Paul May, the chief executive of parent company Patisserie Holdings, said the firm had already been eyeing up premises in Belfast’s Corn Market, which could open within the next year. Negotiations were taking place over a possible site, and May said the company would then turn its sights to other towns around Northern Ireland. He said he had visited Northern Ireland “two or three times” in the past 12 months. He told the newspaper: “Northern Ireland is very much in our expansion plans and we have been looking for quite some time to see if we can go in there. We have looked at two or three sites in Belfast in its own right, and then would look to the obvious towns, eventually opening around nine.”
   
Ribble Valley Inns to open a fifth site and first in Cheshire: Lancashire-based gastro-operator Ribble Valley Inns, headed by Nigel Haworth and Craig Bancroft, has acquired a fifth site, the Nag’s Head in the hamlet of Haughton Moss, between Tarporley and Nantwich in Cheshire, which is set to re-open on 9 June creating more than 35 jobs. It will re-open as a ‘fine dining pub that celebrates the building’s heritage and the location’s natural beauty’. The pub will service 150 covers plus there’s space for an additional 100 covers in the fabulous outdoor dining space. Wayne Chapman, chief executive of Ribble Valley Inns, said: “We’re absolutely delighted to be opening in Cheshire. As a local resident, I’m particularly passionate about this site, and all that it represents. Cheshire is a beautiful part of the world, and its provenance for excellent food and drink was central to our decision to locate here.”
   
Freehold of Brighton boutique hotel goes on market for £1.2m: The freehold of the five star Grade II-listed hotel Kemp Townhouse in Brighton is on the market through agent Fleurets from a guide price of £1,200,000. Private owner Paul Lantsbury is selling to invest in a larger hotel. Will Thomas. of Fleurets , said: “The Kemp Townhouse is a superb five-storey building and an excellent example of British architecture, as it was built with the sublime aesthetic standards of 1864. The hotel has an annual net turnover of £270,000.” The Kemp Townhouse features a self contained owner flat, nine newly refurbished bedrooms.
   
Whitbread’s Beefeater brand hires Vernon Kay as new brand ambassador: Whitbread’s Beefeater brand has hired Vernon Kay to replace Sir Ian Botham as its ‘Boss of Beef’ brand ambassador. The brand turns 40 this year – as does Kay. Every customer who dines at Beefeater until 22 May will be handed one of Vernon Kay’s ‘Golden Tickets’. 50 VIP all-expenses-paid tickets can be won to a celebrity-filled 40th birthday celebration in June with Vernon Kay. There are another 350,000 prizes up for grabs.
   
Southampton’s former maritime museum to become brewpub and restaurant: The former maritime museum on Town Quay in Southampton is to become a brewpub and restaurant after a successful planning application. Stuart Cross, from the Dancing Man Brewery, which is based at the nearby Platform Tavern, said the conversion of the 600-year-old building, known as the Wool House, would provide “something new for Southampton” and create up to 30 jobs in the next five years. Southampton Council said it considered the plan “an innovative and sustainable use of a historic building that has seen a wide variety of uses in its 600-year history”, including as a prison in the 18th century. Campaigners wanted the Grade I-listed building turned into an arts venue. One, Joe Hudson, said: “If we’re talking about diversity, and within the area you already have half a dozen pubs and restaurants, then it’s very hard to see how creating another one would add diversity.” However, Cross said: “It’s not like your everyday pub and we don’t want it to be called a pub. It’s more like a brew-house with a restaurant, and it’s going to have a function room for weddings.”
   
Wetherspoon to put all 32,000 staff through WorldHost training programmes: JD Wetherspoon is aiming to train all 32,000 of its front-line staff in customer service using the WorldHost training programmes, which were used to train more than 100,000 staff and volunteers for the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympics. The pub chain is working with the People 1st Training Company, the company that launched WorldHost in the UK, to deliver the training. More than 1,700 members of staff have already been trained, while staff at all of Wetherspoon’s new openings will undertake the WorldHost programme as part of their mandatory pre-opening training. Once 50% of staff have completed the training, Wetherspoon will receive WorldHost Recognised Business status, a nationally recognised badge of customer service excellence awarded to companies that invest in their staff’s customer service skills. There are currently more than 900 WorldHost Recognised Businesses across the UK but, with such a large number of staff undertaking the training, JD Wetherspoon would become the biggest organisation to achieve the award to date. Sarah Williamson, senior recruitment and training manager for JD Wetherspoon, said: “For many of our customers, we are more than just a pub. We are their community; somewhere that they feel comfortable and ‘at home.’ We don’t want to just meet their expectations, we want to exceed them and we hope the WorldHost training will enable our pub teams to go the extra mile.”
   
Nick Batram – we’d be buying Spirit shares: Peel Hunt leisure analyst Nick Batram has issued a Buy note on Spirit shares, with a price target of 95p, after yesterday’s interim results. He said: “H1 trading was slightly ahead of our expectations and, although there is some caution in the outlook statement (mainly on costs), we believe this is more about discouraging upgrades at this stage. Given our positive view on the economy, we continue to see Spirit as well-positioned and expect the positive momentum to be maintained. We are happy to retain our top-end forecasts and, given our positive view on a broadening economic recovery, we continue to believe Spirit represents good value.”
   
£100,000-a-week Costa Coffee – the world’s largest – opens: The world’s largest by volume sales Costa Coffee has opened at Roadchef’s Norton Canes service area. Capable of over £100,000 of sales per week the unit has been designed to cope with the very large footfall visiting the M6 toll road service area. “In our busiest week over 106,000 people walk through the doors here at Norton Canes and this store will allow us to serve them great coffee faster than ever before,” said site director Peter Watson. Each year, the new store expects to serve over one million customers, prepare 840,000 hot drinks for drivers, including 279,600 lattes, and to have 10.2 tons of coffee delivered. Roadchef chief executive Simon Turl said: “We are extremely proud to operate the world’s largest Costa at Norton Canes service area and cannot wait to see what the unit is capable of during our peak trading period in the summer”
   
Porky’s BBQ restaurant opens second site, looking for third: Porky’s BBQ restaurant will open a second site in early June, located on Bankside in South London, a year after its first opening in Camden, North London. The concept offers Memphis-style barbecue dishes, Americana-inspired cocktails and a wide selection of bourbons and rye whiskies, as well as craft beers. The 3,330 sq ft 104-cover restaurant will include an open plan kitchen and a holding bar. The menu will serve classics such as the Memphis meaty ribs and tips (pork ribs smoked low and slow) and Hounddogs (100% British pork sausage with fried onions in a soft bun). An extended list of more than twenty bourbons will also be available as well as an extended list of cocktails. The restaurant’s design will take its inspiration from the music and memorabilia of the deep south, with an accompanying playlist of classic country, blues and rock ’n’ roll tracks. Porky’s BBQ is the brainchild of husband and wife team Simon and Joy Brigg, who developed the concept after their travels around America. The duo is currently looking for a third site.
   
Manchester restaurateur set to team up with London craft beer company: A Manchester restaurateur has announced he will be teaming up with a London-based craft beer company to develop a business in the north west of England. Jon Grieves, owner of the Choice bar and restaurant in Castlefield, Manchester, said his current bar will be closing tomorrow, Friday, to be replaced by the new but as yet unnamed operation. Grieves said: “Numbers declined. The Wharf took a chunk. But we’re going to take that chunk back off them with our new venture. There’s a polarisation in Manchester at the moment. It’s all about fine dining or casual dining – there’s no in between. Choice, unfortunately, was in that grey area. We were thought of as a place to only go for a special occasion. That’s a shame, as I felt the age and good food should have benefited us. In two weeks’ time, though, we will be shouting from the rooftops about the new venture. We’re currently looking at a couple of locations in South Manchester, but we want to get the product right in Castlefield first, of course. It’s important that while we’re working with a London company, the end product is de-London-fied. Restaurants that are successful in London can often fail outside the capital. That said, we will take strong points from the London brand whilst also being aware of the Mancunian element. It’ll be a lot of the same staff, including me at the restaurant that will replace Choice, before we roll the model out.”
   
M&B’s Miller & Carter to open in Manchester in May: Mitchells & Butler’s steakhouse chain Miller & Carter is opening its first venue in Manchester, in a former Lloyds Bank building on King Street, next month. After a major refit of the old bank, the restaurant will have room for more than 150 diners and create up to 50 jobs. Lee Hughes, the new manager at Miller & Carter Manchester, said: “The old Lloyds Bank is a fantastic building and a great location for us. Work on the new site is well under way and we are looking forward to opening our doors for business in May. Manchester has a vibrant dining scene and a wide selection of grill-style restaurants. Miller & Carter will set itself apart by showcasing steak expertise in the city. We are incredibly passionate about steak and this really shows through in the food we serve.” The entire team will receive specialist coaching and attend a bespoke butchery demonstration to ensure they are complete steak experts. The chain has now passed 30 sites, with other openings lined up in Edinburgh this week, Newcastle upon Tyne and Hereford.
   
Former Ever So Sensible ops director doubles up: Scott Whittaker, the former Ever So Sensible Group operations director, is to add a second site to his Ridge and Furrow Inns business next month. The company will re-open the Lambley Village Kitchen near Nottingham in a joint investment with Star Pubs & Bars. Its first site, the Wilford Green, Nottingham opened after a £350,000 joint investment with Star Pubs.
   
Decision made to demolish three Aberdeen restaurants destroyed by fire: Three beachfront restaurants in Aberdeen gutted in a major fire in February are to be demolished. The blaze destroyed Jimmy Chung’s, the Pier Bistro and the Captain’s Table on Aberdeen’s Beach Esplanade. Steve Lawrence, director of TCD Architects, said the historic building could be torn down as early as next month. Lawrence said: “We have a building warrant submitted to Aberdeen City Council which will hopefully be granted in due course. The process has commenced but we’re waiting to hear back from insurers. The building will be demolished, I don’t know exactly when that will be but in theory it could only be a week or two.”
   
Online focus boosts sales for managed pub company TCG: The managed pub and bar group TCG has seen a sharp uplift in online bookings after a three-month project which has lifted the business’s internet search rankings and improved the effectiveness of its social media. Customer visits to TCG’s website, www.the1440.co.uk, grew by more than 1500% in the first three months of 2014, driven by a focus on search engine optimisation. Traffic to the site continues to increase week-on-week, and crucially is also converting into increased bookings for TCG’s 69 pubs and bars nationwide. While internet offers, including a 25% discount on food for customers registering on the site, have proved popular, the company’s enhanced online presence is driving sales improvements across the board. Ben Levick, TCG’s director of operations, said: “Customer offers are an important part of our online marketing, but we’re using our improved standing in internet searches to promote the full range of activity our pubs and bars offer to both existing and new customers. As well as an increase in online reservations for dining, we’ve seen an uplift in bookings for parties and functions through the website, as well as for live music, comedy nights and other entertainment. We’ve also seen an upturn in searches which don’t always translate into a direct booking, such as pubs showing the big football matches as the Premiership title race hots up, and entertainment at student-focused bars.”
   
Petition launched for Crawley Nando’s to serve halal meat: A petition has been launched to convert the Nando’s branch in Crawley, Sussex into a restaurant that serves halal meat. The campaign has been launched by chicken lovers who are unable to eat at the Nando’s in Crawley Leisure Park for religious reasons. The nearest Nando’s that serves halal meat is in Croydon. Amany Elmasry, 23, believes that if the Crawley branch did the same it would be able to welcome hundreds of extra customers. Elmasry told The Crawley News: “I moved to Crawley from central London in January. Living in London meant loads and loads of major chain restaurants with halal branches nearby and because Crawley is such a multicultural area I thought this town would have options. When I arrived I explored the area and went to all the restaurants at the leisure park but none served halal.”
   
Orderella expands into exhibitions market: Orderella, the leading mobile ordering app which allows its customers to order and pay for drinks and food with their phone, has developed a new partnership with Leiths at ExCeL in the first of its kind inside the exhibition industry. The move to mobile ordering in exhibitions will be kicking off at this year’s Hotelympia show, held at the ExCeL centre in London next week. Dennis Collet, Orderella chief executive, said: “We’re continually looking to expand into new markets, and exhibitions are a key area where we believe Orderella can prove hugely beneficial. It’s important to keep the refreshments on a stand topped up when entertaining any potential or existing clients, but finding the time to do this can be tricky. The new partnership between Orderella and Leiths means exhibitors can look after themselves and their guests without having to leave their stand, and we are looking forward to working together for the first time at Hotelympia.”
   
Star Pubs & Bar to invest £1.8m in external decoration of 100 pubs before the World Cup: Star Pubs & Bars is starting work on a £1.8m programme of external redecoration and new signage to enable its pubs to attract maximum trade during the World Cup and over the summer months. 100 pubs are set to benefit from the investment, with projects at 55 pubs with a reputation for sport being fast-tracked for completion in time for the World Cup. The remainder will be completed by the end of June. To maximise the impact of Star Pubs & Bars’ spend, lessees will be making corresponding internal improvements ranging from redecorating to adding new services such as a premium coffee offer or extending their menus. Chris Jowsey, Star Pubs & Bars trading director, said: “A pub’s external appearance is vital, it is the shop window of the pub. Based on that, passing potential customers will make a split-second decision on everything inside from the cleanliness of the toilets to the quality of the food and drink and even the warmth of the welcome they are likely to get. Maintaining pub buildings is costly but is essential for business success and by undertaking the work in the spring it enables lessees to reap the benefits over the summer.”
   
Chapel Down reports Ebitda drop after poor harvests: The English wine and beer producer Chapel Down has reported a drop in Ebitda in 2013 after poor harvests. Ebitda in the year to 31 December 2013 was £454,000, down from £830,000 the year before. Pre-tax profit was £68,000, against £414,000 in 2012. However, 2013 saw an excellent harvest in terms of volume and quality, the company has achieved a 10% increase in average selling price for Chapel Down wines and “exceptional growth” in beer with a 119% increase in turnover. New funding totalling £4.35m will accelerate expansion. Chief executive Frazer Thompson said: “As expected, profits are down due to the 24% fall in the volume of wine available for sale following two low yielding harvests in 2011 and 2012. Nevertheless, year on year sales were up 4% on last year at a record £5.03m, reflecting a 10% increase in the selling price for our wines and a 119% increase in the sales of our Curious beers, which have listings in Majestic and Waitrose as well as hundreds of quality bars and restaurants including Jamie Oliver, the Royal Opera House and Hilton Hotels. Our beer sales have helped Chapel Down to keep fizzing. We are also delighted that 2013 gave us a bumper crop (our highest ever) which will enable us to replenish our stocks and gradually fulfil growing demand for our wines.”
   
David Lloyd Leisure teams up with Universal Music to create customer playlist app: David Lloyd Leisure has teamed up with Universal Music UK to launch the David Lloyd Playlist, an exclusive music app aimed at boosting performance during exercise. The app, created in conjunction with a leading sports psychologist, has been developed by experts at the health, sport and leisure group and the UK’s leading music company in the first joint initiative of its kind. The David Lloyd Playlist, which the company says is simple to use and compatible with iPhone, iPod touch and Android devices, allegedly enhances workout efficiency and enjoyment by matching a track’s beat with the listener’s workout pace. The tracks were carefully selected using sports psychology research which shows that synchronising music and exercise rhythm leads to enhanced performance, the company claims.
   
JW Lees boss earns Entrepreneur of the Year nomination: The managing director of the Manchester brewer and pub retailer JW Lees, William Lees-Jones, has been named a finalist in the EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2014. The awards look for business leaders who “embody the entrepreneurial spirit to drive their business forward”. Previous winners of the award include Fred Done of Bet Fred and James Lambert of R and R ice-cream. Lees-Jones, who sits at the head of the sixth generation independent family brewery, was nominated by Barclays’ Bank. He said: “Being a finalist in the EY Entrepreneur Awards 2014 offers us momentous recognition for the way in which we are driving a 186-year-old family business forward in the 21st century. It has been a year of considerable change and success for JW Lees, being a finalist in these awards is of great significance and I greatly appreciate the nomination.” The next round of the competition will be the North regional judges reception and masterclass on 8 May before the regional award dinner and UK finalist announcement on the 24 June.
   
Starbucks reports reduced UK losses: Starbucks UK has reported that its losses in the UK fell by 32.7% to £20.47m in the year to 29 September 2013. Turnover dropped 3% ,to £399.41m from £413.39m in the 12 months to the end of September 2012. There was a net decrease in store numbers of 44,or 7.4% to finish at 549 at the year-end. The number of licensed and franchised UK sites rose by 13 and 25 respectively to reach totals of 157 and 57. Starbucks reported gross profit up 13% to £79.76m and gross margin up to 20% from 17.1%. Starbucks said: “In December 2012, despite a lack of taxable income, the company made a public commitment to pay corporation tax by not deducting certain related party expenditure for tax purposes in our 2013 tax computation. The company’s actual tax liability for Full Year 2013 was £3.42m. To date, the company has made £15m of tax payments in 2013 and 2014. The company plans to make a payment later in the year for the remainder of our £20m commitment for 2013 and 2014.” Starbucks said that the improving UK economic climate is “expected to lead to an increase in like-for-like sales per store and, alongside the realignment of our portfolio, a further reduction in the loss before tax next year.” The company said it planned to create 5,000 jobs in the next five years. It reported 327 barista apprentices in new jobs and a target of 1,000 by December 2014. Starbucks added: “Longer-term our apprenticeship framework will improve the perception of hospitality retail as a destination of choice for a credible career in our service economy.” The UK company paid £25.92m in royalties and licence fees. There was also an impairment loss of £6.57m. The pay of the highest paid director fell to £269,000 from £570,000 the year before. UK staff numbers fell to 7,726 from 8,739 the year before.

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