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Tue 8th Jul 2014 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Peter Marks – Luminar’s six point plan to disaster: Luminar’s chief executive Peter Marks has set out the “six-point plan to disaster” that caused the nightclub company to slump into administration in 2011. The company was acquired by Marks and his backers in December 2011 for £32m – the company had been worth more than £1bn at one stage. Marks told the Propel Multi Club Conference that Luminar had engaged in the financial engineering that was widespread in the industry in the early and mid 2000s, with features elsewhere that included sale-and-leasebacks and Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs). Marks said Luminar was ex-growth and borrowed money to buy back shares to boost Earnings Per Share (EPS). “If you have shares in a company buying back shares, sell them,” Marks told the audience. Investment in Luminar’s nightclubs slowed down, Marks said, and management was bonused on reducing debt. With spare cash running out, a rights issue followed. “And then disaster,” said Marks. “You can (only) do all these things if the path of economic growth is forever upwards.” The economic downturn hit and with high operational and financial gearing, Luminar’s cash went to pay debt. Post-acquisition, Marks said that the company had slimmed down head office ‘in one hit ‘and invested in its nightclubs and people – the average age of a Luminar nightclub on acquisition was six years and seven months. So far, 30% of the estate’s nightclubs have seen investment with an average spend of £30 per square foot, compared to a cost of £160 per square foot for a new Oceania – the company is seeing a 50% Return on Investment. Admissions sales, which many observers thought would die away in the nightclub sector, are still running at their healthy historic figure of around 20% of total sales. The 30% of clubs that have seen investment are producing at extra £57,000 per week of takings, while the 70% of nightclubs so far uninvested are £100,000 a week down. “We are still going backwards a little bit but we have no debt and we are running the business to fix it,” said Marks. Luminar sales would start to rise in overall terms once 50% of the estate is refurbished, he added.

Industry News:

Tim Martin – VAT reduction campaign progress is very good but some boardrooms are taking a short-term view: JD Wetherspoon founder Tim Martin has told the Propel Multi Club Conference that progress on the sector’s VAT reduction campaign is “very good” but that some boardrooms are taking a short-term view. He said: “We’ve convinced a lot of people in the trade. A lot of individual tenants and publicans support the campaign, which is a very important factor. It’s a complex argument that’s difficult to get your head around. Supermarkets don’t pay VAT on food and we do. I’m sure everybody here supports tax equality between pubs, restaurants and supermarkets. But it’s the strangest thing I’ve ever come across in business that people at the front-line support it, they can see the issues. But the guys in the boardrooms in some of the big companies aren’t supporting it. So it’s a paradox. I think it’s because if you’ve signed a 20-year lease, you will take a long-tem view. You’ll be quite happy not to make too much money for a while if you think you’re building up a good business in ten, 15 years – and it’s going to be a worthwhile investment. Boardrooms are often remunerated based on three-year share options and I think one of the problems is that no-one on a three-year share option wants to go to shareholders and say, actually, pubs are stuffed in the long-run unless we have tax equality with supermarkets. What’s in it for someone on three-year share options to say that? Not a lot. They think the share price might have doubled and tripled in three years’ time – so what are my tactics? There is a fundamental problem evidenced by the closure of 10,000 pubs in ten years. You don’t need to be genius to see that when 15% of pubs have closed in ten years that the tax disparity may not get you today or tomorrow – there’s a nice little boom in the south-east and Greene King might buy your company – but the tax disparity on VAT will get you in the long-run.”

Brian Whiting – we’ll be supporting Tax Equality Day on Wednesday 24 September: Whiting & Hammond founder Brian Whiting has pledged his company’s support to Tax Equality Day on Wednesday 24 September when pubs and restaurants will cut their prices by 7.5% to demonstrate the advantages of a VAT cut for consumers. The event follows on from last year’s successful Tax Parity Day when 15,000 pubs and restaurants reduced prices. Whiting told the Propel Multi Club Conference: “We will be supporting it this year – it’s a no-brainer. It’s about educating Joe Public. It’s a bit of a secret that 20% of our turnover going to the Exchequer in the form of VAT. We paid just under £1.2m in VAT last year and we’re quite a small business – I’d like to make that much money in profit overall. It’s a good cause and well worth doing. Even ‘Doubting Thomases’ are coming around. People are starting to understand it.” Asked what a VAT cut would mean for his business, he said: “We have eight sites and we’re desperate to grow. We have no borrowings and we do everything through cashflow. We’ve just opened a new site in Sevenoaks with Punch Taverns, a combined investment of £750,000. That site employed five when we took over, now employs 35 people and the pub takes £35,000-a-week and is paying a lot of PAYE, NI and tax. Imagine the job creation potential of a VAT cut.”

Russell Norman facing an 80% rent increase after nearby restaurateur pays over the odds: Industry consultant Adam Hyman has reported that London restaurateur Russell Norman is facing a 80% rent hike at one of his sites – because a new arrival has paid over the odds. In his weekly bulletin, Hyman said: “The landlord has proposed an 80% increase on one of Norman’s sites at rent review. Norman says he understands the landlord’s business objectives but says the vast increase is solely down to a nearby operator paying over the odds to secure a site that has now created new ‘market evidence’ for the landlord to ask for the rent increase.” Hyman reports consultant Anthony Lorenz, of the Lorenz Consultancy, as stating that when restaurants are put on the open market, they usually cause a bidding war with one party willing to pay a large rent to secure the lease. Lorenz goes on to say that, “historically, rent reviews and lease renewals have been negotiated based on comparables of other reviews and renewals between landlords and tenants and their respective agents. On the odd occasion, when a restaurant comes to the market directly from a landlord without a premium the ‘open market rent’ is often far higher than the historic ‘evidence’. This can cause major rental hikes for restaurants in the surrounding area at rent review.”

NPD Group figures reveal UK takeaway consumption: Foodservice industry figures from global information company NPD Group show that Britons made 5.92 billion visits to a local takeaway or retail outlet such as a supermarket in the year ending March 2014, spending £17.9 billion on takeaway food, an average of around £3 per visit. Assuming this recent level of demand continued through the 32 days of the FIFA World Cup Brazil (12 June 12 to 13 July), and taking into account summer variations, by the time the World Cup Final is played this Sunday Britons will have ordered around 540 million takeaways worth some £1.57 billion.

Pop-up bar open on London’s Silicon Roundabout: A Mediterranean-style open-air bar has popped up in London – in the middle of Silicon Roundabout, the London Evening Standard has reported. The bar, which has capacity for 500, is surrounded by the three lanes of traffic at the junction of City Road and Old Street, one of the capital’s busiest roundabouts. Old Street Terrace is the brainchild of brothers Alex Daw, founder of the Spin:London cycling festival, and property developer Laurence Daw. It is showing the Tour de France, World Cup, and Wimbledon on big screens, and this weekend will host the Beersham festival, with craft beer, cider and champagne makers. The Daw brothers said they were “attempting to create the kind of atmosphere you would find in open-air bars and cafes of other European cities like Barcelona and Berlin”. The venue is open until October

Russian burger chain takes over McDonald’s sites in Crimea: A Russian burger chain, RusBurger, has taken over the abandoned McDonald’s sites in the Crimea. In April, the American company announced it was “temporarily” closing its three franchises in the former Ukrainian territory, blaming the suspension of banking services after its annexation by Russia.

Home Office and alcohol industry agree four-point plan to deal with alcohol abuse: The Home Office has agreed a four-point plan with the alcohol industry that will result in local action targeted at late-night drinking, improved education around responsible drinking, promoting and displaying alcohol responsibly in supermarkets and reducing the attractiveness of high-volume drinks such as Special Brew and White Lightning cider. A Whitehall source told The Guardian: “This is a good package that will fix some of the harm potentially caused by high-strength, high-volume alcohol. The industry has been pretty good in terms of coming up with a decent package of measures.”

ALMR Operations Managers Awards deadline looms: The 2014 ALMR Operations Managers Awards is on course to be the strongest yet. Entry papers for this year’s awards have already been of the ‘highest calibre’, with the 2014 awards set to be the most competitive in recent memory. Nick Bish, of the ALMR, said: “We have been absolutely delighted with the number and range of companies that have nominated members of their operations team this year. Every year when we launch the Awards process we are gratified to see companies that have previously never engaged with the Awards, nominate one or two members of their operations team. With just a few weeks to go before the completed entry paper needs to be submitted the ALMR is now encouraging all companies seeking to identify their own talent, and to nominate now by logging on to www.almropsawards.org.uk or by calling the ALMR on 020 8579 2080. The Awards, split into two categories – one for operations managers in the leased estate and one for area managers typically in a managed estate, are an ‘excellence benchmark’ in a robust and extended competitive process.” After the entry papers have been marked the top 20 finalists will then be judged during a day in the field by one of the ‘mentor judges’ before they enjoy a three day MasterClass on business strategy and leadership insight. The two winners, one for managed estates and one for leased will be announced at the ALMR Christmas Luncheon on Thursday 18 December.

Company News:

Morgan Davies – burritos are the new pizza: Morgan Davies, founder of the UK’s oldest burrito brand Barburrito, which was launched 12 years ago in Manchester, has argued that burritos are the new pizza. Research has shown that burrito customers are aged between 18 and 35 with a 55% male, 45% female split. Domino’s research indicates that takeaway pizza ordering in the UK currently has an upper age ceiling of 55. In both cases, usage will expand as generations get older. Davies told the Propel Multi Club Conference that the company, which has 11 sites around the UK, has seen annual seeing sales growth over nine years of trading at its original site in Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester. Barburrito operates from sites as small as 200 square feet up to 3,000 square feet with site capital expenditure ranging between £200,000 and £400,000. Sites are profitable on sales of £12,000 a week to £25,000 a week depending on site dynamics. Davies argued that burritos are a healthy option, portable and good value – costing from £5.35 with average spend of £7. He said his mantra is ‘Live.Die.Repeat’, the tagline of the Tom Cruise film Edge of Tomorrow. “Be prepared to make mistakes and be resilient,” he said. 

Nigel Wright – TCG grown site Ebitda to £175,000 per site, holds preliminary talks with Lone Star: The 68-strong pub operator TCG, led by chief operating officer Nigel Wright, has reported that the company has grown Ebitda to around £175,000 per site, in line with the recently sold Orchid pub estate. Wright told the Propel Multi Club conference that the company is achieving like-for-like sales growth despite being constrained in being only able to spend minimal capex. He also reported that the company had held preliminary talks with US fund Lone Star, which acquired its debt this year. TCG operates a predominantly freehold estate with a south-east bias, with sites ranging from the Tattershall Castle boat on the Thames to Henry’s Café Bars and three prominent gay pubs in Soho. Wright said the company had made progress through developing coffee, cask beer, segmentation, value food and premiumisation opportunities. It had also sought to empower mangers, create an industry-leading social media presence, innovative food-and-drink offerings and a stable workforce with effective in-house training programmes. He added that the company had significant investment opportunities within its core estate, not least through developing product opportunities but also through buying and developing iconic pubs, working out from the south-east.

JDW names date for Keswick opening: JD Wetherspoon has named 20 September as the opening date for its new pub in Keswick, its first in the Lake District. The Keswick pub, to be named The Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, is on the site of the former town police station and court building in Bank Street. Wetherspoon is looking to create approximately 45 jobs at the pub. Meanwhile, JD Wetherspoon has confirmed that 45 new jobs will also be created at a proposed new pub in Felixstowe, rather than 20 as reported yesterday.

Fish Club owner take Star Pubs & Bars site on the Thames: Fish Club restaurant owners Steve Orme, James Thomson and Jack Sutton are taking on their first pub, the Red Lion in Shepperton, a Star Pubs & Bars site located on the River Thames. They are co-investing £500,000 to update the pub and transform it into a food-led family pub. A complete overhaul of the interior and exterior of the pub began this week and will take seven weeks to complete. The inside will be reconfigured to provide a more open, relaxed drinking and ad-hoc eating area and a separate dining area with seating for 50. Phase two will start next spring, comprising a new river garden with its own bar and kitchen. The Fish Club operates two combined restaurant and fish shops in Clapham and was named by Time Out magazine as one of the top 50 restaurants in London.

Peach looks for new operations director, offers equity slice: Peach Pub Company looking for a new operations director to help continue its progress towards a £30 million, 22 pub business, taking over from Spencer Graydon who moves to Whitbread in a similar role this autumn. Peach co-founder Lee Cash said: “It’s been great working with Spencer the last four years, he’s added a lot to the business, and whilst we wish him luck, we’ll be sad to see him go.” The appointment comes as Peach is capitalising on recent growth and optimism in the business, with a very strong start to the summer and positive like-for-likes 2% over the Coffer Tracker and a particularly strong performance at its newest pub, The Chequers at Eversley Cross in Hampshire, turned round from a failed Chef & Brewer pub to one regularly doing £30,000 plus a week. The Peach main board director role, which comes with a slice of Peach equity, offers the chance to help shape the business, by setting the strategy for the group, and to learn how Peach is run. “This is far more than an operations job and a far cry from staring at P&L accounts all day,” added Peach co-founder Hamish Stoddart. “It’s a chance to immerse yourself in a vibrant and energetic business. Other operations roles don’t show you the whole picture; Peach does along with the freedom to work in collaboration with the other partners and their teams on the ground.”

Mitchells & Butlers seeks digital support: Mitchells & Butlers is on the hunt for digital and customer relationship management support. The company has started a pitch process through AAR. The incumbent AIS London has worked with the company since July 2012 to help it use email, social media and mobile channels to build relationships with customers. Mitchells & Butlers has also worked with Underwired on its CRM and customer engagement strategy. The company has just spent £266 million buying 173 pubs from its rival Orchid. Over the next two years, Mitchells & Butlers will spend £35 million converting 96 of these into its own brands.

Operators report Tour de France boost: Operators have reported a big boost to trade as the Tour de France passed through Yorkshire at the weekend. Bulldog Hotel Group reported its Old Bridge Hotel in Holmfirth saw takings soar by 50% to £78,681 for the week – takings were £24,300 on Saturday and £17,600 on Sunday. TCG’s The Black Horse in Skipton saw the tour pass by on Saturday morning. Spectators were arriving at the pub from 5.00am to bag the best vantage points. The team started to serve breakfast at 7.00am, taking £1,000 by 11.00am, when the sun came out and the barbecue was fired up. The progress of ‘le peloton’ was broadcast on seven televisions and one large projector screen, so fans were able to watch the race before and after its passage through Skipton. General manager Jenny Gallagher said, “We attracted a real mix of customers – local cycling enthusiasts, families, and visitors from France, Germany and Holland. Most people were rooting for Mark Cavendish and the atmosphere in and outside the pub, and throughout Skipton, was amazing – everyone was really caught up in the event.”

Starbucks first ever franchisee hits ten sites with Bournemouth opening: Starbucks first franchisee in the world, 23.5 Degrees, have hit the ten site mark with the opening of a venue in Bournemouth’s Richmond Hill. The business is run by New Forest entrepreneurs Mark Hepburn and Anil Patil. The pair became its first franchisees in the world when they opened a branch in Liphook, Hampshire, in February 2013.

Lumber & Clarke re-opens second Spirit leased site: Lumber & Clarke, led by Peter Lumber and Clarke Oldfield, has re-opened its second Spirit leased pub – a £200,000 co-investment in a premium Newbury venue ‘The Newbury’. The West Berkshire gastropub was given a makeover in order to extend the venue. As part of the refurbishment, the Newbury has had its upstairs completely remodelled. The new-look second floor now boasts a large meeting room that can cater for up to 30 delegates, a brand new bar and a contemporary external terraced area. “We’re delighted to have played a major role in the extension at the Newbury,” said Chris Welham, managing director for Spirit Leased Pubs. “The Newbury is a truly outstanding venue that is immensely popular within its community. Now, thanks to the extension, more people will be able to enjoy this top-notch venue.”

Upham Pub Group re-opens Hampshire site: Upham Pub Group has re-opened the Wheelwright’s Arms in Havant, Hampshire after a major refurbishment. The company, based near Winchester, has spent the last two months restoring the Wheelwright’s Arms. The Victorian building has seen its fireplaces and tile floors renovated with a bicycle theme introduced throughout. Chris Philips, chief executive of the Upham Pub Group, said: “We are thrilled with the renovation of The Wheelwright’s Arms and we are proud to now breathe some new life and heart into the stunning Victorian building. We are confident the pub will once again be an indelible part of the community fabric, a welcome destination for visitors to the south coast and a wonderful advert for the local food and drink produce that is so readily available in Hampshire.”

Travelodge hires Nando’s human resources director: Budget hotel chain Travelodge has hired Nando’s human resources director Julia Rosamond as the company’s new HR director. She led the creation of Nando’s approach to recruitment and training, helping the company grow to more than 300 restaurants, employing 10,000 people. The strength of Nando’s approach to people led to it being ranked first in the Sunday Times Best Companies to work for list in 2010. Prior to joining Nando’s, Julia was HR Director at Pelican Group, the operator of Café Rouge and Dome, after an early career at Rank, where roles included HR Director of its branded restaurants division. She will join the Travelodge team on the 6 October 2014 and will report to Travelodge’s chief executive Peter Gowers.

BrewDog to open BrewTap this Thursday: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog is to open its brewery tap, BrewTap, this Thursday (10 July) at its brewery in Ellon, Aberdeenshire. The company stated: “We will have BrewDog beer on tap (the freshest you could possibly hope to taste it anywhere in the world, just metres from where it is made) across ten taps, as well as a hop infuser, and some bottles will be available from the BottleDog on site too. As well as visiting DogTap, we will also be hosting BrewDog brewery tours.” The venue will also serve Pieminister pies, including a Punk IPA-infused chicken and ham pie and a 5am Saint and beef pie. DogTap is open 12 noon – 9pm seven days a week.

Carluccio’s names chef of the year: Carluccio’s has named its chef of the year after a competition involving 75 Carluccio’s chefs from its 83-strong group of UK restaurants. The winning meal came from Daniel Radek, who has been with the company for over four years. He made a classic tomato and mascarpone soup served with pesto and parmesan croutons as his original creation. Now in its tenth year and hosted at Carluccio’s dedicated chef training school in London’s Islington, the final stage of the competition saw six finalists go head to head for the winning title of Carluccio’s Chef of the Year, by cooking up Carluccio’s top-selling Penne Giardiniera dish, a recipe of their choice from Antonio Carluccio’s repertoire and finally an Italian dish that they chose themselves.

Smith & Wollensky confirms details of London opening: Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group has confirmed it will open Smith & Wollensky London in early spring 2015 in the Adelphi Building on John Adams Street, just off The Strand. With 300 covers and over 15,000 square feet of space, the restaurant is spread across two floors to showcase two dining bars, two main dining areas and several private event rooms. The kitchen will feature a full butcher shop and dry-aging room on-site, a signature feature of the Smith & Wollensky brand. Imported USDA Prime beef, alongside British and Irish cuts, will undergo a distinct and traditional aging process. In addition to the USDA dry-aged steaks, the menu will also offer a variety of signature seafood dishes and a wide range of wines at varied price points. Chief executive Michael Feighery said: “We’ve always recognised the opportunities for expansion with the Smith & Wollensky brand. The restaurants have a tremendous global following and a rich heritage that dates back to the first restaurant which opened in 1977. We are extremely excited about Smith & Wollensky becoming part of the capital’s spectacular and varied culinary scene and look forward to welcoming Londoners to our first UK restaurant.”

Mercedes me concept cafe advised by ex-M&B staffer opens, second one planned: The Mercedes me concept cafe, which saw consultancy from ex-Mitchells & Butlers marketer David Singleton, has opened in Moscow. Singleton told Propel: “In 2013 I was asked to work with Mercedes Benz to develop a brand new innovative state of the art brand zone cafe – ‘Mercedes me’ with integrated Mercedes Benz branding for Karo Film in Central Moscow to showcase their new compact range. I worked with German based design team Atelier Achatz to deliver the design and with Mercedes Benz brand team to create the overall look, menu, uniform and overall concept and with Karo to recruit the leadership team. Within six months we had the whole concept developed and the first one opened on time on Novy Arbat in June just in time for Moscow’s Film Festival within Central Moscow’s famous Oktober Cinema and following that success a second is already under construction to open in October 2014 at Vegas 2 alongside Karo’s 24 screen multiplex cinema, the largest in Europe.”

Coal Grill and Grill plan August open at Gloucester Quays: The final planning stumbling blocks that have prevented a new Coal Grill and Bar from opening at Gloucester Docks have finally been overcome to allow builders to get to work at Gloucester Quays’ Pillar and Lucy House. An application had been submitted in May to carry out urgent work at the site, which planners have now passed. The site is expected to be open at the end of August, a delay of a few weeks from the original projected July opening. The new restaurant will provide around 30 new jobs.

London pubs, bars and breweries host London Beer City: Dozens of London pubs, bar and breweries are to host the first London Beer City between 9 and 16 August. Most of London’s breweries, including Camden Town, Beavertown and Fourpure, will be hosting one-off events, with dinners, talks, special brewery openings, tours and more planned. Camden Town Brewery is planning several events including a beer dinner at Caravan in King’s Cross, an American day at the brewery’s base and something particularly special – planned for the Friday – which is still under wraps. Fourpure, whose beer is served in Michel Roux Jr’s restaurants, will be hosting an open evening at its brewery in Bermondsey on Wednesday 13 August, with the tap-room bar open and tours of the brewery on offer. Beers from a select group of other London brewers – including Windsor and Eton and Woolwich’s Hop Stuff – will also be available. “London truly is a Beer City with a rich heritage in cask ale, and it’s now home to some of the most exciting world-class new breweries,” said Fourpure’s Dan Lowe. Another highlight is the return of the London Craft Beer Festival, which showcases the work of some of the world’s best breweries, including Britain’s Thornbridge and Magic Rock and, from across the Atlantic, Sierra Nevada and Founder’s. It takes place at Oval Space in Bethnal Green over four days, from 14 August. London Beer City organiser Will Hawkes, the current British Beer Writer of the Year and the author of Craft Beer London, said: “London Beer City will take the excitement of a big beer festival into every corner of the city. We’re putting together a programme to reach as many people as possible. We want Londoners to discover just how delicious and varied beer can be.”

Toro Gordo tapas restaurant set to open between Hammersmith and Chiswick: Toro Gordo (meaning ‘Fat Bull’ in Spanish) is set to be the first Spanish tapas restaurant and bar to open on King Street, located in-between Hammersmith and Chiswick in London. Toro Gordo is the first restaurant from Spanish-born restaurateur Miguel Caffarena, formerly of La Bodega Negra in Soho. Caffarena’s experience working in the film industry has led him to map out the restaurant as if it were a film. Much like a movie experience, at Toro Gordo, Caffarena aims to transport his guests into another world. The menu will offer simple dishes made up of authentic flavours and ingredients. Head chef Daniel Blanco trained at the prestigious La Consula in Malaga, and specialises in Spanish cuisine. Blanco’s tapas style menu is divided into carnes, pinchitos, tostas, seafood, vegetarian and salads.

Darden trials $40m bet on Olive Garden makeover: Darden Restaurants is to invest $40m on a trial makeover of its Olive Garden Italian restaurant brand in the US. New sites will feature contemporary, urban elements, such as a more prominent bar, bright-green menus, marble countertops, wood beams overhead to mimic a pergola, atmospheric lighting and bench seating with tables along walls in the dining area. It will undertake refits at 75 sites at $500,000 to $600,000 per store – about 9% of the 800 Olive Gardens estate. During the past year, the chain has added 20 new menu items with an emphasis on fresher, low-calorie options such as chicken abruzzi: chicken breast sliced thick on a broth of cannellini beans, kale and vegetables. It has also added online ordering for takeout.

Nando’s to open second York site tomorrow: Nando’s will open its second site in York tomorrow (9 July), occupying a position at York’s new Vangarde Shopping Centre. The new 145-seater restaurant will create 40 new jobs. It is the second Nando’s in York, following on from the brand’s restaurant in High Ousegate, which opened in 2008. Nick Drew, Nando’s regional managing director said: “We’re absolutely delighted to open our second restaurant in York, a city that clearly enjoys its peri-peri chicken.” The £15 million Vangarde Shopping Park, in Monks Cross, opened in April and featuring a number a new restaurants including Prezzo, Giraffe, Frankie and Benny’s and Ed’s Easy Diner.

Craft Beer Rising expands into Scotland: Craft Beer Rising, the successful event held twice already in London, is expanding to Scotland. Hosted in collaboration with Drygate Brewing Co – the UK’s first experiential craft brewery – Craft Beer Rising will take place in Glasgow from the Friday 19 to Sunday 21 September, with tickets now on sale. With over 3,000 people expected to attend, Craft Beer Rising leads a new wave of cultural craft beer festivals that celebrate street food, music and beer under one roof. Taking place across four sessions, festival-goers can sample up to 200 beers from 45 local and international breweries, including Tempest Brew Co, Siren, Beavertown, Thistly Cross Cider, Pilot Brew Co and Harbour. In addition to the festival’s beer and street food offering, a programme of talks and demonstrations – such as live brewing from a collective of breweries – is also planned. Craft Beer Rising founder Daniel Rowntree said: “Born out of a desire to create a culturally awesome beer festival, Craft Beer Rising is about discovery and adventure as well as creating an environment where everyone – from adventurous foodies to music lovers, craft beer novices to aficionados – can get involved.”

Harry Ramsden’s invests £750,000 in Blackpool, adding Harry’s Cafe: Harry Ramsden’s has invested £750,000 in a refurbishment of its Blackpool restaurant and its associated takeaway. In addition, as part of the refurbishment works, a brand new Harry’s Café has been created thus increasing the capacity of the restaurant from 153 to 165 covers. Paying homage to the brand’s maritime heritage, the new look incorporates a sea of greens and blues, as well as smart black and white checked flooring, ‘newspaper’ wallpapering, porthole mirrors, and vintage black and white prints of fishermen landing their catch. Joe Teixeira, chief executive of Harry Ramsden’s, said: “This investment underlines our ongoing commitment to the area and I believe that the stunning transformation clearly positions Harry Ramsden’s Blackpool as our flagship property in the North. This is the latest stage of the evolution of Harry Ramsden’s and we look forward to serving as many of the 13 million visitors Blackpool attracts, as we can in our new look restaurant.”

Old Diary Brewery gets £600,000 investment: The Kent-based Old Dairy Brewery has announced a significant expansion of its business following a £600,000 investment. The funding has enabled the company to move from an old milking parlour in Rolvenden into a brand new 30-barrel brewery, shop and visitor centre in the picturesque market town of Tenterden. The new operation, which opened to the public yesterday, is located just off the High Street, next to the Kent & Sussex Steam Railway Station. “It’s a major step forward for the Old Dairy Brewery,” said managing director John Roberts. “Overnight, we have transformed the business from what was essentially a hobby start-up into a fully fledged, commercially funded and operated brewery. The investment has increased our brewing capacity six fold and is enabling us to take the business to the next level by commercialising our sales, marketing and operations.” The expansion comes four years after the brewery was set up on a dairy farm in the heart of the Kent countryside.

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