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Wed 25th Jun 2014 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Greene King Leisure Spend Tracker shows May decline: The Greene King Leisure Spend Tracker has found that the average British household spent £192 on out-of-home leisure in May, a fall of £23, or 11%, against April and only £1 higher than in January. After the school holidays and long Easter weekend, the average British household spent £15 less on eating out in May compared with April (a 19% decrease) marking an end to three consecutive months of rising eating-out spend and highlighting the importance of key calendar events. Drinking out accounted for 23% of total leisure spend in May, the largest share the activity has taken since data collection began. Between April and May, households with children cut their total leisure spend by more than twice of those without children, spend falling from £39 and £18 respectively. Historical spend patterns show eating-out spend is more closely linked to significant calendar events than either drinking out or “other leisure”. While drinking out and other leisure also saw declines, they held up more robustly, with May the second highest spend per month on drinking out this year. Steve Jebson, Greene King’s commercial director, said: “It is likely that people tightened the purse strings during May due to the combination of the strong spend in April linked to key calendar events, and being prudent when looking ahead to the summer holidays. We know that calendar events influence how much households spend on eating out, so it is down to leisure operators to create great reasons for consumers to get out and spend their money outside of these events.” To tie in with the World Cup, this month Greene King has looked at what UK households spend attending live sport events. Since December, households have spent £2.7bn on attending live sport events. Jebson said: “The average British household is spending £17 per month on live sport events, with London and the north east leading the way. Interestingly, households with children have spent on average £8 a month more on live sport events than those without kids, which shows going to watch live sport is a key family leisure activity. With a bumper sporting month ahead, it will be interesting to look at spending patterns for the World Cup and other key summer sporting events.”
   

Industry News:

Luke Johnson – entrepreneurialism is the pathway to happiness: Sector investor Luke Johnson has argued that entrepreneurialism is the pathway to personal happiness. In his Financial Times column, he wrote: “Are entrepreneurs happy souls? They should be, because in a sense they define what makes us happy. According to research by economists and psychologists, the key to happiness is to find your own path in life. After all, entrepreneurs know that it is autonomy and freedom – the ability to determine one’s own destiny, rather than the money – that is the critical reason why they do what they do. Many of the self-employed earn less than they could working for someone else. But they choose to be their own boss because it gives them more satisfaction and control over their career. This latter aspect is a crucial factor in achieving fulfilment: mastering your own direction in life, rather than letting others do it for you (parents, teachers, bosses and so forth), really matters. Too many people feel helpless because they have no power over their world.”
   
London boom ‘will see hotel sector grow’: London is in the midst of a property boom and looks set to become one of the world’s leading hotel markets, as strong growth in leisure demand turns the capital city into an increasingly popular tourist destination. This was the conclusion of an HVS London Update breakfast seminar held last week at the Charlotte Street Hotel in Fitzrovia, London, attended by more than 70 hotel operators, analysts and investors. The event was part of a series of market briefings organised globally by HVS. Charles Human, managing director of the property specialist HVS Hodges Ward Elliott, presented a positive outlook for the capital, based on a population increase that is currently higher than that of either New York or Paris. Tourism in the capital will be further boosted from increased Chinese demand as an improved visa procedure is implemented for Chinese visitors, he said: “London has a shortage of hotel stock on the market, which pushes both demand and prices higher and means that development costs are lower than acquisition costs. The capital also has a high proportion of poor quality hotels which needs replacing – either as hotels, or residential units.”
   
Licensing expert becomes chairman of Kingston licensing committee: The new chairman of Kingston upon Thames Council’s licensing committee is a leading licensing expert. Phil Doyle, recently elected as a Conservative councillor for the borough’s Grove ward, was appointed chair of the licensing committee at a meeting on 5 June, where he did not declare he was a director of PDL Consultants, a Surbiton-based legal firm specialising in licensing applications for pubs, clubs and restaurants.
   
Hampstead pub gets extra protection: Council officials have increased the protection on the Old White Bear pub in Hampstead, North London with a new demand that planning permission must be obtained if developers seek to turn it into offices or a restaurant. An attempt to turn the pub in Well Road into a six-bedroom house was thrown out by Camden’s planning department earlier this year. Now, officials have formally removed the right to develop it in other ways without proper planning consent. The news comes after nearly 4,000 people signed online and written petitions calling for the council to block the application by developer Braaid Ventures to convert the historic building into a house in February. Leean Pindar, who helped organise the campaign, told the New Journal: “It is a mini victory – the pub is still shut but this makes it much harder for them to start the process of turning it into house. It means that any conversion to retail office or restaurant now requires planning consent – it means their permitted development rights now no longer apply. It was a big decision by Camden and shows that people in general don’t want their pubs to close.”
   
Norfolk Council offers pubs community cash: Pub landlords across Norfolk are being urged to bid for their share of a new fund to help their venues become a more central part of the local community. A £30,000 fund will be launched by Norfolk County Council today (Wednesday) to help pub owners to create community facilities and services where there are no others in the local area. Officials behind the scheme, launched in co-operation with the organisation Pub Is the Hub, hope pubs in Norfolk will adopt projects from across the country, including fitness classes, meals on wheels, farm shops, delicatessens and bee-keeping projects.
   

Company News:

Clevelys opens new concept today: The founders of Geronimo Inns, Rupert and Jo Clevely, are set to open the doors to their long-awaited venture, The Cyclist Refreshment Room, today (Wednesday 25 June) in Brighton railway station. The Cyclist Refreshment Room, its founders say, moves away from the pub cliche and brings back the refreshment room of the 19th century, a refined but comfortable environment where people can get great food, beer and wine while waiting for their train. The Refreshment Room has 80 covers and outdoor seating, and will be open from 7am to 11pm on Mondays to Saturdays, and 8am to 10pm on Sundays, offering everything from breakfast to brunch, afternoon tea and supper. Takeaway food such as salads, pies and quiches will also be available. The decor uses vintage and “upcycled” materials.
   
TV mogul to re-open controversial West Sussex pub: Media entrepreneur Paul Smith, the co-creator of Who wants to be a Millionaire?, is to re-open The Black Horse in Amberley, Sussex. The Black Horse pub has been the centre of village debate after property developer Paul Marston, of Hirsh Marston Ltd, bought the disused venue last year and announced plans to convert it into two holiday homes. However, the listed building has now been sold to Smith, chairman of Celador, the original producer of Who Wants To be a Millionaire?, who has told villagers he will re-open the venue as a pub. However, Smith told attendance at public meeting with more than 70 residents crowded into St Michael’s Church Hall, Amberley, that there were at least four other Black Horse pubs within a ten-mile radius of Amberley, which was too confusing. He said the pub locally had acquired a fairly unenviable reputation and a name change was essential.
    
BrewDog seeks two ‘pioneer’ graduate brewers: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog is looking to recruit two “pioneer” graduate trainees. The company said: “This is no ordinary graduate program; we’re looking for two pioneers who are driven, adaptable and bring a unique set of skills, to join our team as protégés to James and Martin. This means the successful candidates will need to keep up with our two co-founders as they steer the good ship BrewDog towards new craft beer horizons. Our graduate scheme is not for those who are interested in having their hands held as they are guided through a set, two-year programme of fixed blocks in different areas of the business. If that’s what you’re looking for, look somewhere else.”
   
Thwaites lines up £2.2m York re-opening: Brewer and retailer Thwaites will re-open the Grade I listed Georgian townhouse Judge’s Lodging in York on Tuesday 1 July after a six-month, £2.2m development programme. Nick James, manager of the Judge’s Lodging, said: “We’ve spent almost two years planning the investment and we’re so excited to be welcoming guests back to enjoy our delicious food and drinks in our fabulous new bar and terraces. There are now 21 cosy and comfortable guest rooms on offer, some in the old house with all the fabulous high ceilings and ornate cornices, plus five new rooms in the courtyard to the rear of the hotel which have the luxury of their own front door, to allow guests to come and go as they please. Room rates include a full Yorkshire breakfast and start from £104 per night, and the online booking option comes with a lowest rate guarantee.”
   
New live music venue to open in Edinburgh as Wetherspoon prepares to submit plans for the Picture House: A 19th century corn exchange in Edinburgh, reputed to be the second largest in Scotland, is about to become a 900-capacity live music venue attracting major headline acts. After an overhaul of the acoustics, lighting and a new PA system, the venue, in Newmarket Road, will re-launch on Friday with an inaugural performance from the ska band Bombskare. Meanwhile, JD Wetherspoon is expected to submit plans to convert the Picture House, formerly a 3,000-capacity live music venue, to a pub in the coming weeks. It has been closed since the end of 2013.
   
McDonald’s – we don’t have contracts with suppliers: McDonald’s supply chain chief has reported that the company runs its supply chain on handshakes rather than contracts, a report in Supply Management said. “We don’t have contracts, but we do have our very assured supply partnerships with our food and paper suppliers,” Warren Anderson, vice-president of supply chain at McDonald’s UK, told the magazine. “A gentleman’s handshake is just as powerful here.” Instead of formal and legally enforceable contracts, McDonald’s in the UK manages food, packaging and distribution suppliers by informal agreement and assures satisfaction with outcomes by involving their supply partners in planning decisions to set prices and volumes, he said.
   
Spirit’s Flaming Grill brand joins M&B Crown Carveries in offering armed services a free meal: Spirit Pub Company’s Flaming Grill brand is to join Mitchells & Butlers’ Crown Carveries in offering troops a free meal on National Armed Forces Day. More than 100 pubs are giving armed forces, past or present, the opportunity have one of 15 different burger varieties on the house when they visit on Saturday 28 June 2014 before 4pm. Carol Rhead, brand manager for Flaming Grill, said: “We’re proud to support our troops on Armed Forces Day; I’m a big fan of a man in uniform and hope they take up the offer to fill up on a flaming tasty burger on us! They’re incredibly brave and courageous characters and this is a little token of our gratitude for the work they do.” To claim the free burger, customers are asked to present their current ID card or veteran lapel badge to a staff member when placing their order.
   
Las Iguanas wins new Investors in People award: Las Iguanas has won the Investors in People (IIP) Award 2014 for Excellence in Reward and Recognition – it already holds the IiP Gold Standard Award. Las Iguanas was the only restaurant operator to be shortlisted at the inaugural IIP Awards held this week in London. Angela Da Silva, head of human resources, said: “We are so thrilled to have been recognised with this award. We have been working with Investors in People since 2001 and the opportunity to benchmark our people strategy against the IIP Standard and other businesses across all sectors is incredibly valuable. Our industry is all about people and we think it is paramount to recognise and reward the team at Las Iguanas as a whole and as individuals, whether that be through enhanced training and development or once in a lifetime opportunities like our Race to Rio, our annual staff trip to Brazil which is now in its tenth year.”
   
M&B to open Miller & Carter in Cardiff city centre next month: Mitchells & Butlers is to open a Miller & Carter steakhouse in Cardiff city centre, on The Hayes, in July. The steakhouse will create more than 80 jobs and opens after a major refit of the listed building, formerly home to Habitat. The restaurant covers three floors, and will accommodate more than 230 diners and 90 customers in the bar, with a further 56 seats outside. Jeff Francis, the new manager at Miller & Carter Cardiff St Davids, said: “Cardiff 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 heart of city.”
   
Property agent – there’s life in the tied lease: With the national debate over the relationship between pub landlords and tenants spilling over into Parliament, the sale of the Greene King-owned Brown Cow pub-restaurant in Horsforth, Leeds has shown the tied lease is still an effective way of entering the market, according to the property agency Christie + Co said. Ryan Lynn of Christie + Co said: “Over the last few years, tied leases may have been difficult to sell, but the Brown Cow sale saw a number of operators interested. Not only is this a symptom of the rising confidence in the pub market generally, both nationally and locally here in Yorkshire, but also an indication that the tied lease remains a cost-effective point of entry to the pub sector for many existing and aspiring operators.” The Leeds-based bar and pub operator Jones Bar Group sold the lease of the Brown Cow after eight years. In a statement to customers, the company said: “Unfortunately, being in a brewery tie with Greene King no longer fits our business model and are looking forward to concentrating on our other venues. The Brown Cow (Bar Sixty Too) has helped develop our company over the past eight years and trained many managers who still work for us now. We have made a lot of friends over the years and look forward to hopefully seeing you in one of our other venues.” The two-storey, mid terrace pub had a turnover for 2012/13 of around £330,000. The leasehold was sold off an asking price of £35,000 with an annual rent of £43,000. Jones Bar Group was founded by Matthew Jones and his brother Ben, the company’s finance director, in 2004.
   
Douglas Jack upgrades Greene King to ‘Add’ after recent weakness: Numis Securities leisure analyst Douglas Jack has upgraded Greene King to ‘Add’, with a Target Price of 975p, after recent share price weakness. He said: “For Thursday 3 July’s final results, we forecast adjusted PBT to be up 7% to £173.2m (consensus: £172.7m). PBT rose 5.5% in H1, but H2 benefited from stronger managed like-for-like sales (4.6% versus H1’s 3.5%) and an extra (53rd) week, which management has indicated to us was worth an extra £4m (2.5%) to full year PBT. Although we believe there is a good chance 2014E will be ahead and recent trading is strong, we do not expect to upgrade 2015E forecasts. We do not envisage much upside to our 2015E forecast of 3.5% PBT growth (versus 8% recent annual historic average), even though recent managed like-for-like sales should be ahead of our 2% assumption. This view reflects 3% dilution from the Hawthorn Leisure disposal and 2.5% dilution from the 53rd week in the comp. However, following recent weakness, we are moving our recommendation to ‘Add’ from ‘Hold’.”
   
Benugo opens site at British Film Institute: Restaurant and cafe operator Benugo has opened Stephen St Kitchen, a new restaurant and bar, within the British Film Institute, Fitzrovia. The restaurant is situated between Tottenham Court Road and Charlotte Street. Benugo also operates high-profile sites such as Great Court Restaurant at the British Museum, Serpentine Bar & Kitchen in Hyde Park and Soho private members’ club The House of St Barnabas. With the kitchen led by head chef Mark Block, formerly head chef at Grain Store, the new restaurant will offer a classic, modern European menu focused on fresh, seasonal ingredients, with a selection of dishes cooked in a brass plated wood fired oven. The new restaurant and bar offers two expansive outdoor spaces, a front street facing patio and a decked terrace to the rear, ideal for alfresco drinking and dining. Stephen St Kitchen is positioned above the BFI’s private screening rooms.
   
Stonegate Pub Company nears £100,000 fund-raising target: Stonegate Pub Company has raised £92,000 of a £100,000 fund-raising target with 14 weeks to go in an event called Britain’s Biggest Pub Tour, which is in aid of Variety, the Children’s Charity. Each Stonegate pub is taking part in Britain’s Biggest Pub Tour – a specially made large poster sized ‘Pledge Passport’ is being transported from pub to pub using unique and quirky methods of travel. Each pub along the way is also hosting fund-raising events and activities. Chairman Ian Payne told Propel: “I’m bowled over by the efforts of our pub teams, who have pulled out all the stops to make Britain’s Biggest Pub Tour spectacular. To raise over £90,000 for Variety, the Children’s Charity already is impressive and we’ve still got 14 weeks to go.”
   
London Dungeon holds one-night pop-up Rat Cafe: The London Dungeon in Southwark, south London is opening a pop-up, The Rat Cafe, where guests will be able to pet rats. Guests will be able to sip “Ratuccinos” or “Rattés” or tuck into a “Black Forest Rateau”. The London Dungeon says the Rat Café is completely hygienic and visitors will have to wash their hands after petting the rats. Dining and petting will be kept separate. Hywel Matthias, the venue’s general manager, said: “As the old adage goes, Londoners are never more than six feet away from a rat. We’re convinced our world first Rat Cafe will be a hit – it’s new, different, brilliantly eccentric and totally fun.”
   
Vegetarian complains about Burger King cross-contamination: A vegetarian Burger King UK customer has claimed the company has been selling onion rings and chilli cheese bites as vegetarian on its website despite knowing of possible contamination, according to The Daily Star. He complained after finding the products were cooked in the same oil as fish and chicken. Stephen Galloway, an NHS healthcare assistant, is now considering legal action. He told the newspaper: “Burger King have been dismissive from start to finish. In my view, tens of thousands of people have been buying these products thinking they are vegetarian when they are not. It is an insult.”
   
Exeter pub agrees to accept Bitcoin: A pub in Exeter is believed to be the first outside London to accept the electronic payments system Bitcoin. Exeter’s Bitcoin community holds meetings at the pub, the Port Royal by the River Exe, and the pub’s owner, Carlos Pires saw the move as a business opportunity. When customers place orders, the pub will run everything through the till as normal, then use a smartphone with the Bitcoin app to collect payment from the guest’s phone. Pires said that the only drawback with the move is that, while the cost of a pint remains constant, the value of the Bitcoin payment he gets fluctuates. Bitcoin is an online “peer to peer” payment system introduced in 2009. Payments are recorded in a public ledger. All Bitcoins in circulation and their transactions histories are recorded in a giant ledger known as the blockchain. This prevents each Bitcoin from being spent twice. The system has been described as a virtual currency and users can send and receive Bitcoins electronically using wallet software on a personal computer, mobile device, or app. In the UK, apart from the Port Royal, the payment method is believed to be currently only available in a handful of places in London.
   
M&S dominates Olive awards: The food magazine Olive has unveiled the winners of its first ever Supermarket Awards, with 20 winners across a range of categories. Marks & Spencer topped the field, winning eight awards including Best Summer Dessert for its Raspberry Pomegranate and Elderflower Jelly, described by the judges as “a showstopper”. It also triumphed in the Show-Off Salad category for its Mango and Blueberry Salad with Basil and Lemon Dressing, described as “on trend” and “refreshing”, and Best Meal Under 400 Calories for its Chilli and Coriander Prawns, Noodles and Mango. The judges said it was “zingy and sweet” and “tastes as good as it looks”. Morrisons won three awards, including Best Show-Off Product for its Wild Nigerian Tiger Prawns, “astonishingly enormous prawns with a sweet favour”, while J Sainsbury also bagged three including Best Veggie Sausage for its Glamorgan Leek and Cheese Sausage, “a classic veggie sausage made well and with a clean taste”. Aldi took the Best BBQ Burger award for its Gourmet Aberdeen Angus Burger. The judges said: “Everything we want a burger to be, this formed a good crust with a juicy interior when cooked and tasted properly of beef.”
   
Ex-Domino’s franchisee takes on four Pizza Huts: The pizza franchise business PH Leicester has acquired four Pizza Hut Delivery outlets in the Midlands with the help of a £775,000 funding package from HSBC. PH Leicester was founded by Umer Chohan in 2009. He acquired the Pizza Hut Delivery stores, three in Leicester, on London Road, Hinckley Road and Aylestone Road, and one in Tamworth town centre, after disposing of his previous Domino’s Pizza venues, and now plans to grow to ten outlets over the next 12 months. Chohan has identified sites for new outlets, including one in Nuneaton, and hopes to open new branches in the coming months, creating up to 20 new jobs at each site. In addition, the company is also eyeing acquisition opportunities. Chohan said: “Domino’s is a fantastic brand and delivers a great product, but I felt there were greater growth opportunities with the Pizza Hut Delivery brand, which is developing well. People identify with Pizza Hut because of its restaurant chain, so brand awareness is already in place, and the product is extremely popular. We have taken on existing sites with this acquisition and we will look to grow to around ten by developing new stores and acquiring existing outlets.” HSBC’s senior commercial manager, Chris Alsop, said: “Umer has a good pedigree in the franchise world so we are pleased to back this refocus of the business to the Pizza Hut Delivery brand. He has a great track record in improving the performance of existing outlets, so I am confident he will make this a great success.”
   
Hotel and spa in Cornwall on the market for £7.5m: A hotel and spa set in 43 acres of parkland and woodland in St Austell, Cornwall, with planning permission for 36 holiday lodges, has been brought to the market by the property agent Christie + Co. The four-star Cornwall Hotel & Spa, on the Cornwall Estate has 65 guest bedrooms, nine in the Grade II listed Manor House, with 56 in the adjoining Woodland Rooms, constructed in 2008 and 2009. In addition to the guest rooms, the hotel has an AA Rosette-endorsed restaurant called Arboretum and brasserie restaurants, along with bars and terraced area with views over the estate. The freehold for the Cornwall Hotel & Spa is available for £7.5.
   
Fuller’s names top cellarman: London brewer and retailer Fuller, Smith & Turner has named Helen Wilson at the Mad Bishop and Bear in Paddington Station, North London as the winner of the company’s 2014 Master Cellarman of the Year competition. This is the first time one of Fuller’s station pubs has been awarded the accolade. The Mad Bishop and Bear received the award after excelling in every area of quality control from cellar to glass. Wilson said: “Earlier this year we brewed our own beer, using only English hops and malts, and sold 18 barrels of it in less than 30 days. We sell more London Pride than any other draught product we stock and now always need five 18-gallon barrels on the stillage to keep up with demand.”
   
Vapiano opens third UK site: Vapiano, the Italian fresh casual dining restaurant group, opened its third Vapiano restaurant in the UK yesterday and the 150th to open worldwide. The restaurant is in Wardour Street, Soho, central London. Vapiano has recruited and trained 80 “Vapianisti” for the restaurant, which has a customer area of 7,000 sq ft and capacity for up to 250 diners. The restaurant serves fresh pasta, pizza, antipasti and salad; all prepared and made in house to order by chefs interacting with customers. Diners will be able to see the pasta and dolci being made fresh each day in the glassed-in manifattura in the restaurant. The restaurant puts fresh rosemary and basil on the tables, for customers to pick and use on their food as they wish. Diners settle their bills using Vapiano’s smart card system, allowing them to pay for their food and drink at the front desk when they are ready to leave the restaurant. Vapiano’s managing director, Phil Sermon, said: “We are proud and delighted to open our new restaurant in the heart of Soho.”
   
Lakes Distillery to start production in September: The Lakes Distillery, based on the banks of Bassenthwaite Lake in Cumbria, has taken delivery of its three handmade copper stills and is due to start production in September. The £5m distillery, which secured a £250,000 grant towards its development earlier this year from Britain’s Energy Coast, supported by the Access to Finance Service, will eventually be able to produce one million bottles of English single malt a year, along with gin and vodka. It will be the only distillery in Cumbria to both produce and distil its spirits on site. Paul Currie, the distillery’s founder and managing director, said: “We will now start commissioning the stills and from September will begin production of The Lakes Single Malt. We have paid great attention to the plant installed in the distillery to ensure the very highest quality of our spirits. We have also introduced a number of innovations to the process which are at the cutting edge of distilling.” The distillery will not be able to sell its whiskey until 2017 at the earliest, as whiskey has, by law, to be at least three years old.
   
Pizza Pilgrims to open second venue in West End: Pizza Pilgrims, the company chaired by Geronimo Inns founder Rupert Clevely which opened its first permanent restaurant in Dean Street, Soho last year, is to open a second venue in Kingly Court, Carnaby Street, in the West End of London. The Pizza Pilgrims Pizzeria & Frigittoria will include not just pizzas, but Neapolitan street food-inspired dishes such as arancini stuffed with slow-cooked ragu and mozzarella, Pizza Fritta – fried calzones filled with sun-ripened tomato, napoli salami, mozzarrella, parmesan, ricotta and basil – potato and mortadella croquettes, deep-fried courgette flowers, and melanzane and zucchini fritti. Desserts will include Boca di Lupo’s Gelupo gelati, served by cone or cup, and Pizza Pilgrims’ signature dessert, the Nutella Pizza Ring. There will also be an outdoor kiosk selling coffee from the Terrone Coffee Co of Hackney, sfogliatelle (traditional Neapolitan pastries) and Gelupo gelati. Pizza Pilgrims was started by Thom and James Elliot as a pop-up venue in Berwick Street market, Soho.
   
Daniel Thwaites secures new brewery site: The north west of England brewer and retailer Daniel Thwaites has secured the purchase of a site in Mellor Brook, Lancashire, to house its new brewery and head office, and will be looking to secure planning consent over the coming months to start building work early in 2015. Chief executive Richard Bailey said: “This is a tremendously exciting day for us, to be able to share where we plan to relocate our whole business over the coming months. We have been looking for a new site for over two years, and Sykes Holt, Mellor Brook fits perfectly with our vision for the future of the business. We will be applying for planning permission to build our new brewery, head office and a visitor centre. Completion of the purchase will take place in six months, in order to allow the current owner time to leave the site. We will be working hard in that time to make sure that as soon as we complete the purchase we will be in a position to start work quickly. We will be working with the planners to create an exciting scheme to make the most of the site, part of which dates back to 1540. It has always been hugely important to us that we stay close to Blackburn, which has been our home for over 200 years, and we have been very aware that we would like to safeguard jobs in the area, so I am very pleased that we have been able to find a site that is only a few miles away, where we will continue to employ over 200 people in our head office across our brewery, pubs, inns and hotels. Our distribution team of 120 people will be staying where they are at our existing depot in Blackburn for the foreseeable future. Thwaites’ new brewery and head office will be located on the A59, at the foot of the Ribble Valley and will be very accessible for people coming to visit us. Our investment in the new brewery will allow us to brew a full range of our cask, seasonal and craft ales and will allow our brewers and team to be completely focused on the quality and consistency of our beers. We remain committed to safeguarding our brewing heritage, and newer, more efficient and more flexible equipment will help our team to continue to brew our old friends, but also to develop new and interesting beers. We do not have any immediate plans for our existing site, as we have not been able to deliver on our plan to bring Sainsbury’s into Blackburn. However we continue to believe that a redevelopment of the site presents an exciting opportunity for Blackburn town centre, which is already being regenerated with investments in the shopping centre, the Cathedral Quarter and the new bus station. As a result we will be looking to find partners who can help us to realise that opportunity.” Steve Magnall, managing director of Thwaites Beer Co, said: “This is great news for Thwaites, our customers and our drinkers who enjoy our beers, as it signifies the next chapter in our story. We will now be working hard to ensure a seamless transition to our new site at Sykes Holt and we cannot wait to brew that first beer in the new brewery.”

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