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Fri 4th Jul 2014 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

TDR Capital 'launches secret bid to buy back PizzaExpress': TDR Capital, which led the public-to-private takeover of PizzaExpress in 2003 and later floated it as part of Gondola Holdings in 2005, has made a secret bid to buy back the chain, according to reports. Gondola, which also owns Ask Italian and Zizzi, was taken private in 2007, but current owner Cinven Holdings is now trying to sell PizzaExpress for at least £1bn. According to Sky News, TDR, which owns the Stonegate Pub Company, was one of "roughly a handful" of parties which tabled offers this week to buy PizzaExpress. Sky News said sources close to the auction said that some of the offers submitted this week had valued PizzaExpress at closer to £850m. It was unclear whether Cinven would press ahead with a sale if it does not receive a bid that meets its asking price, Sky News said. Last month it was revealed that Hony Capital, a Chinese investment firm which manages roughly $7bn (£4.1bn) on behalf of clients, had approached a number of UK and US-based buyout funds about the possibility of tabling a joint offer for PizzaExpress. Media reports also said that Fosun, the Chinese conglomerate which owns a stake in Club Mediterranee, the French holiday company, and Citic Capital Partners, another major Beijing-based fund, were also watching the PizzaExpress auction, although it was not known whether either had lodged a formal offer. Reports also said several UK funds, including Advent International, considered making offers but decided against doing so. According to the Sunday Times, the US buy-out firm TPG has made the final stages of the £1bn auction. Cinven is planning to sell Ask and Zizzi separately. In April, TDR Capital closed its third European buyout fund at €2bn (£1.65bn), ahead of schedule.
   

Industry News:

McDonald's, KFC and Taco Bell all bottom of their taste categories for American fast food consumers: A fast-food survey by the American organisation Consumer Reports has found that US consumers rank some of the biggest names in the country, including McDonald's and KFC, bottom of their categories for taste. The organisation took responses from 32,405 subscribers, with an aggregate 96,208 dining experiences, and ranked fast food by taste on a one-to-100 scale. At the bottom of the six categories for the tastiness of their food were: burgers, McDonald’s; pizza, Sbarro; sandwiches, Au Bon Pain; chicken, KFC; Mexican, Taco Bell; and Asian, Panda Express. The leaders were: burgers, In-N-Out Burger of California; pizza, Papa Murphy’s of Vancouver; chicken, Chick-fil-A; Mexican, Rubio’s Fresh Mexican Grill; Asian, Pei Wei Asian Diner of Arizona and Noodles & Company of Denver; and sandwiches, Portillo’s Hot Dogs of Chicago. Tod Marks, senior projects editor for Consumer Reports, said: "Strong regional players and slightly more upscale fast-casual chains like Chipotle are giving the heavy hitters in the fast-food business a wake-up call, and our survey clearly shows the big guys need to respond.” Consumer Reports said Chick-fil-A won top marks for taste, and also stood out for cleanliness of the dining area and polite and speedy service. It said: “National chains such as Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Smashburger and Fuddruckers received high scores for the tastiness of their burgers.”
   
Sports-loving pub-goers say proximity is most important factor: Sports-loving pub goers are most likely to be influenced by how near a pub is when they choose where to watch the big match, according to a survey by Matchpint, which claims to be the UK’s leading sports content management platform. Matchpint, which is used by companies including Fuller Smith & Turner, Enterprise Inns, Young & Co and Beds and Bars Group to publicise pubs showing sporting events via a website and smartphone app, analysed the responses of more than 500 sports fan pub customers. Users were asked to rate factors from 1 (not at all) to 10 (crucial) when deciding which pub to visit. Big screen projectors returned an average score of 7.3 and "drinks selection" scored 7.1. However, "proximity' topped the list at 7.7. Asked to pick a single way in which they would like to learn about local pubs and promotions, two out of five respondents selected push notifications, with flyers receiving just a 2% share and in-pub adverts and posters only one in five.
   
Starbucks admits social media is 'a double-edged sword' for brands: Using social and digital channels to reach young consumers can be a double-edged sword, leaving a brand open to public criticism on its own social media channels, the company's director of marketing and category, Steve Flanagan, said in London this week. Speaking at a Marketing magazine youth marketing conference session on how brands can engage today’s 16 to 24-year-olds, Flanagan said Starbucks had shifted all its traditional media spend into social and digital marketing. However, he said, using social and digital channels to reach the young presented a number of challenges for marketers. One was that it meant brands laid themselves open to criticism, he said, pointing to the social media backlash that saw the popularity of the brand fall drastically when it emerged that Starbucks paid no corporation tax in the UK in 2011. "The key here is that it’s a double-edged sword – it can be painful when things like tax come up," Flanagan said. "It’s not your brand anymore, it’s theirs. [It can make marketers] feel a bit uncomfortable in handing that over, but you have to reframe how you talk to people. The balance of power has shifted and we’re very much in their hands. But people can engage with that space. It’s quality versus quantity." He described digital initiatives Starbucks had undertaken including a YouTube-driven content campaign that handed control of the brand to content producers; and Starbucks’ UK Youth programme, which funds hundreds of community projects. Social engagement with the youth market was not just about garnering "likes" or retweets, but should run deeper, Flanagan said. "The thing for me is about not having superficial relationships with youth," he said. "We’re supporting young people in their communities and have handed out over £300,000 to help young people, but it’s not necessarily the stuff that gets the most shares or likes on Facebook or Twitter."
   

Company News:

Lovely Pubs buys ninth site: Lovely Pubs, led by Paul Salisbury and Paul Hales, who oversaw the roll-out of Mitchells and Butlers’ 80-strong Premium Country Dining Group of country gastro-pub, has acquired its eighth pub. The company has bought The Moat House Inn, Kings Coughton, Alcester, Worcestershire, a former Spirit leased pub with 4.5 acres of land, off an asking price of £300,000. The pub has 160 covers and Lovely Pubs will invest circa £700,000 before a planned mid-October re-opening. It will have a wood-fired oven installed with the company aiming to serve a range of gratin dishes. The new pub will have a strong cider focus – it’s in the middle of an apple-growing area – and rooms based around a shooting theme with names like Holland & Holland and Purdey. The new site comes around a year after the company opened The Queen’s Head in Bromsgrove, a former Enterprise Inns site, after a £800,000 investment. Salisbury told Propel The Queen’s Head had taken just under £80,000 last week, as had its Farm site in Lichfield. Lovely Pubs is in negotiations on a ninth site, located in the Sutton Coldfield area. 
   
Record-breaking start-up sells 5,000 pizzas in three weeks: Pizza Rossa, which set a European record for a start-up by raising £440,000 in just 17 days from 119 investors, is reporting a successful start to trading at its first outlet in Leadenhall Market in the City of London, selling around 250 pizzas a day, even though it is open only until 4pm Monday to Friday. Pizza Rossa specialises in gourmet-quality pizza al taglio, or by the square slice, inspired by the street food vendors of Italy, freshly baked in 90 seconds. The company's founder, Corrado Accardi, said: "With any new operation and with a product made fresh every day, there is always the possibility that consistency may not be sustained. But as at today, we have not had a single complaint and we have served almost 5,000 slices of pizza, although we are only open Monday to Friday. We feel this is quite an achievement and speaks loudly about the quality, which is fast being aligned with foodies' pizza." Pizza Rossa was the winner of the 2013 London Business School Best Business Plan competition, and runner up in the 2013 European Business Plan of the Year competition. Its pizzas cost between £3.45 and £3.95, and it also sells Italian baked potatoes at £5.95 a time, desserts and coffees. Two more venues are due to open in the months to come.

Pizza Hut keeps 'close eye' on Plymouth cinema plans: Pizza Hut is eyeing potential developments at Bretonside in Plymouth and Home Park, Plymouth Argyle's football stadium, as possible new sites, the restaurant chain’s operations director, Mike Spencer, has told the local Herald newspaper. Spencer said he was keeping a close watch on moves by British Land to build a £42m cinema and restaurant complex at Bretonside – “big shopping centres with cinemas tend to be successful” – and was also keeping tabs on plans at the football stadium although said his “personal opinion” was, “it’s slightly less likely to happen”. Spencer was speaking as Pizza Hut re-opened its restaurant at the Barbican Leisure Park in Plymouth after a two-and-a-half-week refit costing £650,000 to make it a “flagship” restaurant and only the third in the Pizza Hut empire to be turned into one of the chain's new US-themed outlets. The chain has also spent £50,000 on refreshing its restaurant at Crown Hill in Plymouth, and may also upgrade its branch in Royal Parade, Plymouth, though that is currently the subject of talks with its landlord over the lease. The revamps are part of a £60m boost to the chain's UK outlets aimed at give its flagship venues a more “American” theme, introducing a desserts and drinks bar, serving US-style waffles, shakes, and draught Budweiser beer, and introducing such items as ribs, wings and fries. Pizza Hut has also just reopened its store at the Bluewater shopping complex in Kent after a similar, £400,000 makeover, creating 15 jobs.
   
Marston's rolls out wi-fi traffic manager across 1,700 pubs to handle customers who want to watch iPlayer in the bar: Marston's has rolled out a wi-fi traffic manager across its 1,700 pubs and bars after it found that some customers were not just checking their email or using Wikipedia to cheat at pub quizzes, but using the wi-fi to stream content such as BBC iPlayer and YouTube. The company found that heavy users were not just lowering wi-fi service quality for other customers, but also disrupted Marston’s electronic ordering and payment services, and other business applications. Among the in-house uses for wi-fi, Marston's has installed a system for staff to take orders and payments on Samsung Android tablets while they are at a table, instead of returning to the more traditional serving station. The company has now installed a Blue Coat PacketShaper wi-fi traffic manager, which allows it to configure bandwidth caps for disruptive applications such as YouTube and block undesirable content in a family-friendly environment. PacketShaper also allows Marston’s to reserve bandwidth for operational applications and allocate it fairly at peak times, while still allowing customers a fair share. The company's operations director, Rob Derbyshire, told Computer Weekly: “Customers come to the pub and want to stream live football matches on their devices. We needed to support this added load on the network and make sure it didn’t affect our payment and ERP applications. PacketShaper gave us the control we needed to make this happen.” This capability came into its own during England’s second World Cup match against Uruguay in June, when Marston’s saw major traffic spikes across its network, Derbyshire said. His team is now using the enhanced visibility of its network activity to assess the impact of bandwidth-hogging apps and plan adequately for the next spike, or dip, in traffic. So far, the cost savings for Marston’s in bandwidth management costs alone are said to be well over £50,000, while further savings made on router administration have added another £10,000 to £20,000 to the pot.
   
Greene King sees current like-for-like sales fall in North, rise in South: Greene King said yesterday that it had seen like-for-like sales in the North fall in the first eight weeks of its new financial year, while like-for-like sales at Metropolitan, its premium London pubs, were up 7.4%, and like-for-like sales overall in the south were also up. Overall, like-for-like sales since the beginning of May on the managed pubs side were up 1.1%, and net income in the core tenanted Pub Partners estate was up 3.5%, while Brewing and Brands own-brand volumes, helped by strong take-home sales thanks to the World Cup, were up 6.2%. "Looking ahead to the rest of the year, we anticipate an improvement in like-for-like retail sales and continued momentum in both Pub Partners and Brewing and Brands," the company said.
   
Douglas Jack – Greene King current trading disappoints, expect it to seek acquisitions: Numis Securities' leisure analyst Douglas Jack said yesterday that current like-for-like sales at Greene King are "disappointing" at just 1.1% higher despite the fine weather, the World Cup and "relatively easy" comparatives with last year. In a note to clients commenting on the company's full year results for the 53 weeks to 4 May, Jack said: "Adjusted for the extra (53rd) week, profit before tax grew by an estimated 4%. We are holding our 2015E forecast of 4% profits-before-tax growth (versus 8% recent annual historic average), which assumes managed like-for-like sales catch up with our 2% assumption. Given this and having missed out in the bidding for Orchid, we expect Greene King to be looking for acquisitions. In early 2015E, tenanted like-for-like net income is up 3.5% (forecast assumption: 1.5%) and own brewed volumes are up 6.2% (forecast assumption: 1%). The limited growth in 2015E reflects 3% dilution from the Hawthorn Leisure disposal and 2.5% dilution from the 53rd week in the comp."
   
KFC and Subway lined up for new Scunthorpe developments: KFC and Subway have both been lined up for new outlets on the Lakeside Retail Park in Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire. Outline planning approval for the project is being sought by the Lincoln-based developer Lime Developments. The sites are alongside a Burger King outlet and on the car park opposite a McDonald’s restaurant and drive-through. The KFC restaurant would be 2,600 sq ft, including a drive-through, and employ around 40 staff. The Subway restaurant would be 1,250 sq ft and employ around 10 staff. KFC already has one restaurant with a drive-through near the home of Scunthorpe United on Doncaster Road. A KFC spokeswoman said: “We can confirm that we’re looking to open another restaurant in Scunthorpe to satisfy the demand from our fans. It’s early days yet, but we hope to have some good news soon.” Subway already has one Scunthorpe outlet, on the High Street, and is planning another outlet at the M&S retail park which is being built on Doncaster Road.
   
'Plans still being drawn up' for Gloucester Docks Wetherspoon: A year after JD Wetherspoon beat a local microbrewery to secure the site of Coots cafe, off Llanthony Road, Gloucester, plans for a pub on the site are still being drawn up by the chain’s architects, the company has admitted. The deal for Wetherspoon to acquire the site, rather than the Gloucester Brewery, which is based next door to the site, was sealed this time last year but the property still requires planning and licensing permissions. Wetherspoon's spokesman, Eddie Gershon, said an official planning application has not yet been submitted and plans are currently being drawn up by the chain’s architects. When it finally opens, it will be the third Wetherspoon outlet in the city. Meanwhile, after plans were submitted to Gloucester Council to carry out works to the Pillar and Lucy warehouse, opposite the Chimichanga restaurant in Gloucester Docks, work is under way to open a branch of Coal Grill & Bar there.
   
Costa Coffee eyes former Buckinghamshire pub: Costa Coffee is looking to open a cafe in a disused pub in Chalfont St Giles, Buckinghamshire. The pub, the Crown, in the High Street, closed in October last year, 50 years after it was converted from a bank into licensed premises. Costa Coffee has applied to Chiltern Council for two signs, one illuminated, to be placed on the building. Costa spokeswoman Stacie Wood said: “We work closely with planning departments across the country to open new stores for the benefit of their local communities, creating new jobs and providing attractive and popular social meeting places. We are currently evaluating opportunities for a new store in Chalfont St Giles, but have no confirmed plans in place at this stage.” No permission is required to change the premises from a pub to a cafe. The pub has featured in several films, including the 1971 film version of Dad’s Army, an episode of Hammer House of Horror in 1980 and Big Job, a film from 1965 starring Sid James which starts off with a bank robbery in the mocked-up pub.
   
Everards brings back Italian-inspired beer for summer: The Leicester brewer Everards is bringing back its Italian-inspired, citrus-flavoured amber ale Artigianale for the summer. The recipe was inspired by a visit from a brewer from the Birra Del Borgo brewery in Borgorose, in central Italy, who visited Everards in 2012. The beer is brewed with whole limes, kaffir lime leaves and kampot peppers, and Cascade and Chinook hops. Claire Cannell, Everards' brands manager, said: “Customers just couldn’t get enough of Artigianale last year and the beer received fantastic feedback. As a result we thought it was only right to bring it back in 2014."
   
Christie markets two West Country hotels with restaurants: The property agent Christie + Co is marketing two hotels in Devon and Cornwall, each with its own restaurant. The Trebarwith Hotel, which boasts of "breathtaking" views across Newquay Bay, and has a 100-cover restaurant as well as 42 guest rooms split between 16 doubles, 16, twins, six family suites and four single bedrooms, is on the market for the first time in 50 years at a guide price of £1.75m for the freehold. In Devon, the 13-bedroom Home Farm Hotel in Wilmington, with a restaurant serving meals made from locally sourced fresh produce, is on sale at a guide price of £800,000.
   
Ex-manager of JW Lees pub accused of £350,000 fraud: The former manager of a JW Lees pub in Holmfirth, Yorkshire, is to face a crown court jury on charges of fraud involving more than £350,000. Paul Kempster, 44, from Wigan was committed to trial at Leeds Crown Court by magistrates in Kirklees over charges of fraud by abuse of position and false accounting. The alleged offences occurred during his time as manager at the Huntsman Inn between August 2005 and April 2013. Kempster is accused of dishonestly abusing his position and falsifying an account by not recording customer deposits and recording false debtors. Kempster gave no indication of his plea to the charges. He is due to appear in the crown court on July 16. A spokesperson for JW Lees said: “Last year it was discovered that over £350,000 had gone missing from the Huntsman Pub in Holmfirth with a fraud that had been going on for over five years. We would like to thank West Yorkshire Police and the CPS for their work. It would be inappropriate to comment further on an on-going case.”
   
Seven brothers set up Seven Brothers Brewery: Seven brothers, Keith, Kit, Guy, Luke, Daniel, Nathan and Greg McAvoy, have been awarded a £45,000 loan from Start Up Now to purchase premises, equipment and raw materials for a new craft beer brewery in Worsley, Salford, Manchester to be called the Seven Brothers Brewery. Kit and Nathan will take on full-time positions, with the other five brothers working initially on a part-time basis. The brothers intend selling their beer through pubs and supermarkets as well as by mail order, and they aim aims to grow into a national brand before expanding into pubs and bars across Europe. Keith McAvoy said: "We want to change the face of the craft beer market by bringing these traditional methods of brewing to a mainstream market and creating beer that is the fashionable choice for beer drinkers of all ages. For too long craft beers have been seen as folksy or old-fashioned; we want to turn that on its head with our world-class range of products, innovative branding and ambitious marketing."
   
Spirit wins gold standard award for work experience programme:
Spirit Pub Company has been given a gold standard award for its "Teen Spirit" work experience scheme by Fair Train, an organisation that sets UK quality standards in work experience provision. Teen Spirit is the name of the company's work "inspiration" scheme for school students aged 14 to 16, designed to inspire them into a career in hospitality. Their experience includes all aspects of running a successful pub business, from creating a new menu dish and delivering first-class guest service, to thinking up their own team incentives and ways of generating new business. Jo Bradford, Spirit's national qualifications manager, said: “We’re thrilled to receive such significant recognition for our Teen Spirit programme; we’ve already had more than 50 candidates who have completed or are in progress on the scheme and the feedback has been extremely positive."
   
Cider firm helps develop apple tree-growing apprenticeship: Shepton Mallet Cider Mill, maker of Bulmers cider, has teamed up with Yeovil College and local apple growers in Somerset to develop an apprenticeship scheme giving young people the chance to learn the skills of growing cider apples. The Orcharding Apprenticeship programme starts in September and the company, which is owned by the drinks conglomerate C&C, is already interviewing for the first intake of new recruits. Bob Chaplin, master cider maker at Shepton Mallet Cider Mill, said: “It’s vital we preserve the skills that generations of cider makers have perfected and passed on. The scheme has been created to ensure we have a plan in place which does just that.” Sales of British cider have never been stronger and Chaplin said: “There’s never been a better time to join the industry. I’m excited about this scheme. The quality of candidates has been very high and it’s great to introduce fresh blood that has a desire for long-term employment in the apple industry."
   
Punch Taverns licensee wins her weekly order:
A Punch Taverns licensee has won her average weekly pub order for placing the 400,000th online order via the company’s Punch Buying Club website. Tracey Harvey, from the Roebuck Inn, Brierley Hill, in the West Midlands, said: “I can’t believe I’ve won! I’ve been running the Roebuck for almost seven years and regularly go onto the Punch Buying Club a couple of times a week to place my orders as it's really easy and convenient." Punch said since it launched the Buying Club in October 2009, it has seen a significant culture shift, with the majority of orders now placed online. Around 3,150 of the company’s licensee partners are now registered and the site typically sees 7,000 visits a week. James Goldsworthy, who manages the Punch Buying Club website, said: “We see the Buying Club as a great business tool for our partners which saves them time and money."
   
Pub and hotel group renews draught beer contract with Tennent's: Hastings Hotels, which owns pubs and hotels in Northern Irish venues including the Europa Hotel in Belfast, has renewed its contract for the supply of draught beers and cider with the C&C-owned Tennent's NI. Tennent's will supply company-owned brands, including Magners and Caledonia, to Hastings' six hotels and pubs, including the Cultra Inn, Holywood, County Down and the Percy French in Newcastle, County Down over the next five years. Howard Hastings, managing director of the Hastings Hotels Group, said: "The connection between our companies stretches back to the time of the Ulster Brewery when my father, and Hastings Hotels chairman, Sir William Hastings was a director and shareholder."

How was trade in June? A Propel round-up

Keith Knowles, chief executive, Beds & Bars: “We’ve done embarrassingly well in June. The World Cup has been great for us; we’re an international business and we still have teams in the World Cup. What’s France’s fourth biggest city? London! There’s three quarters of a million French citizens living here and we can attract them because we’re seen not perceived as a single nation. June has been a stonking month, all our beds are full and our bars are rocking. We’re up more than 20% year-on-year, and last year was a good year for us. I could even grow to like football – not likely! The real World Cup, with the proper-shaped ball, begins this autumn.”
   
Tim Bacon, chief executive and co-founder, Living Ventures Group: “June wasn’t as good for us as the previous month, where we saw 11% growth, but like-for-likes for the year (site for site) we’re up 7%, and overall we’re seeing 30% company growth year-on-year. The World Cup was a non-event for us, and perhaps where May was strong, June lost out to the football. However, the fact that we don’t show any football and we didn’t see any negatives was good, and was probably a reflection on the timings of the matches, that England only playing a couple of times, and that we’re operating in the boom city of Manchester.”
   
James Baer, managing director, Amber Taverns: “We don’t report on June for another week, as it’s a five-week period for us, however, we feel it’s gone well.” With pubs across the North West and North East of England, the Midlands and Wales, “trade was very positive on the first two games when England played, up between 7 and 10%, but the third game was a damp squib.”
   
Ben Fordham, founder, burritos and margaritas concept Benito’s Hat: “We took a bit of a hit due to the World Cup on a couple of evenings, but June has been a good month for us overall, with our like-for-likes on last year up 3%. We don’t have World Cup venues, and when the big games were on it wasn’t good, even though we did produce a special England-themed burrito, which obviously isn’t selling too well now! But every cloud has a silver lining, and the World Cup didn’t hit us as badly as we might have feared. All told we’re happy, and we’re particularly pleased with the performance of our Farringdon [North London] site, which opened in December. Since it opened, trade has been blighted somewhat by the CrossRail work, however, that’s all coming away now and trade has picked up.”
   
Philip Thorley, operations director, Thorley Taverns: “June has been a solid month for us, although the impact of the World Cup has been passive. We only made headway on the first two England games, and the third was a disappointment to everybody.” Thorley Taverns, which runs 16 outlets in the Thanet region of Kent, "had some great weekends in June with like-for-likes for the year up 8%, following a disappointing May which was caused by the late Easter having an impact on the May Day bank holiday – and the weather wasn’t so bright down here.”
   
David Fox, managing director, East Asian restaurant operator Tampopo: “We were down 4% in June, which was largely due to the World Cup. While the casual dining sector is up, the rate of new openings has increased on last year. In Manchester, for instance, we can see an influx of brands from London, which all adds to the rich tapestry of the market. The question is how much will the overall market grow?”
   
Peter Linacre, managing director, New Pub Company: “We’ve had a very good June, our best month for the year so far; our year starts on April 1, so we’ve just completed our first quarter and like-for-likes are up nearly 6%, and that’s after a crap April and May! The World Cup really only had a positive effect on one site, and while England played three games, it was really only two that counted. The World Cup’s been a damp squib.” With seven sites across London and in Surrey and Hampshire, “as ever, at this time of the year, it’s about the weather, and in truth June last year wasn’t particularly good.”
   
Giles Fry, co-founder of The Snug, owner of six bars in Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire: “Our like-for-likes are trading up on June last year, at 2%. Overall, our year-on-year increases are just over 8%, so June has been a relatively flat month. I think the football has given us a negative impact, although it’s hard to compare like-for-like because it wasn’t on last year. I think we were having more consistently sunny weather last year and this, coupled with some weekends of inclement weather and the football, has seen people heading off to take advantage of the supermarket offers, which they’ve then enjoyed in the comfort of their own homes. March, April and May have been good, which again was down to the weather. It’s just about taking the good with the bad. If you get a good month, you’ve got to prepare yourself for a bad. Unfortunately that’s the way it is.”
   
Lee Cash, co-founder, Peach Pubs: “June was OK, but while I don’t wish to be unpatriotic, from a business point of view, thank Christ we didn’t get through! The World Cup isn’t good for high-end gastro-pubs in market towns. But, like-for-like for the year, June was 2.3% up. From the start of the year we’ve been beating the Peach Coffer Tracker by 1.5 percentage points. The year started strong, with the industry up 3% against our rise of 5 to 6%, since then figures have softened but we’re still up 1.5 to 2%.”
   
Matt Jackson, founder and managing director, C2 Investments, owner of three inns and the Lancaster Brewery: “June produced very positive, solid figures. Weather and football have had no effect on us. The Duke’s performance has been disappointing, on paper only, as it shows that we are up 0.1% like-for-like, year-on-year, but this follows four months of building work while we developed our function room into letting rooms, so it’s a reflection of the loss of function sales as much as anything else. Our other two sites produced strong trading: the Mill was up 12.5% and the Sun 5.5% for the month against June 2013.”
   
Morgan Davies, managing director, Mexican restaurant operator Barburrito: “We’re continuing to trade well, with the year's like-for-likes averaging at around 10%, with June coming in at 8%. Our sites are very weather-dependent, and we’ve had a good run with positive weather and that has been good for trade. The World Cup has been a disappointment, as the whole country went a bit flat, but it’s over now and it’s back to normal trading patterns.”
   
Clive Watson, co-founder, City Pub Company: “We had a good first half in June, although the second half was mixed. The World Cup, and England’s performance not being as good as we’d all hoped for, was partly responsible as was the weather, which hasn’t been as good as it was this time last year. This has all resulted in the last two weeks of June not performing as well as we had anticipated.”
   
Steve Wilkins of pub-restaurant operator Little Gems Country Dining: “June has been positive, not as strong as May, but we’re about 5% ahead likes-for-likes on last year. The World Cup didn’t significantly affect us, although the timings of the games were useful, but I think it’s more to do with the half-decent weather, as we are very much geared up for the outside. There seems to be a sense of optimism in the air, resulting in a modest year of growth for us, despite starting the year with double-digit growth. Things have slowed since then. However, given the climate and the fact that we’re still growing, we’re very pleased. Our Bedford site had been hit by the recent opening of a new Charles Wells venue locally, however, trade is beginning to return."


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