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Thu 17th Jul 2014 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

The Stable founders – 12 more sites in the next three years: Richard and Nikki Cooper, the founders of six-strong artisan cider and pizza brand The Stable, in which Fuller’s acquired a 51% stake for £7.3m last month, are aiming to open 12 more sites in the next three years. The couple have revealed that the business saw a number of approaches from private equity and other investors – but were attracted to Fuller’s as an investor because of the personal approach taken by Jonathan Swaine, managing director of Fuller’s Inns. “The venture capitalists we found way too money-orientated, way too focused on expansion and sales,” said Richard Cooper in an interview for the next edition of Propel Quarterly. “We’re not overly corporate, we like the fact that we’re a family business. We didn’t like the venture capital proposition. Fuller’s is a fantastic family business with a great heritage. They loved the wholesome nature of our business, the real story and the fantastic team – not just Nikki and I, but all our people. As personalities we really liked them.” Before Swaine arranged a meeting in March, the Coopers were unaware that they had attracted the attention of the venerable family brewer. “Jonathan met up with us, expressed his interest, and explained that they’d bought Cornish Orchards, had a strategy to move into the world of cider, and they loved our concept.” In 2012, Fuller’s had acquired three pub sites in Bath. Swaine told Propel: “I think we’ve been closer to what’s happening out in the west country. Strategically, we’ve been looking for things that we could add to our business that would be complementary, so it really was by word-of-mouth we heard of the Stable. I then took myself off for two days and I did all the sites twice. I ate lots of pizza, drank lots of cider and fell in love with the brand. It’s premium, serves fresh food, and has a proper draught bar as well as casual dining. I made copious notes and then phoned Richard and Nikki. They have a different approach to marketing, to site selection and to the way they invest in sites. Along with all the complementary elements, they bring a slightly different way of looking at things, and we can learn from them.” Richard Cooper added: “What attracted us wasn’t only the money, it was about having access to expertise and knowledge that we don’t have, and that process has already started. We’re going to be opening up 12 more restaurants in the next three years, which obviously has its challenges – but those are mainly now finding the premises.”

Industry News:

Marston’s partners The Sun to evolve the “Pub of the Future”: Marston’s has joined forces with The Sun newspaper to “future-proof” its pubs and ensure they remain relevant to future generations of pub-goers. Marston’s reports that it wants to take the lead, look to the future and evolve the whole pub experience to suit changing needs, ensuring pubs remain an integral part of those communities for future generations. The campaign will look to recruit a “Pub of the Future Board” of volunteers, who will work together over a 12-18 month period to create a vision of their ideal pub of the future. The Sun partnership launches today (17 July) when readers will be invited to submit their creative ideas as to why they should be selected as a member of the Marston’s “Pub of the Future Board”. The brand will incorporate readers’ best ideas into one of their new pubs of the future. The board will meet several times over the 18 months, and will focus on specific areas of the pub landscape including pub design, menu, drinks and even uniform design. Roger Devlin, chairman of Marston’s, said: “When I was young my social life revolved around the pub. Everybody used to meet there. I began wondering what would bring young people back to their local pubs? After all, the pub is the original social network. This is where we thought up the idea of recruiting The Sun’s readers to help us design The Pub of the Future.” Una Beck Johnson, commercial marketing director for Marston’s Inns & Taverns, added: “How young people spend their leisure time and where they choose to eat out is very different from their parents. We want to make sure that our pubs stay relevant to the next generation of pub customers. The pub has always been at the heart of the community and an important place for lots of different leisure occasions. We feel that it is our responsibility as one of the largest pub groups in the UK to look to the future and evolve the whole pub experience to suit changing needs, ensuring our pubs remain an integral part of those communities for future generations.”

Middle East hotel to open region’s first gastro-pub: The Palace Boutique Hotel Bahrain is re-branding one of its outlets as a gastro-pub, the first in the Middle East. Managing director Khalid Al Rumaihi said: “Polo Gastropub will emulate some of its European peers in trying to bring pub food to a cuisine level. We have not witnessed this approach anywhere else in Bahrain, or in Dubai, so we are excited about this new launch and the reaction to our new menu.” The venue will have a very pub-like feel, with large leather lounge chairs and comfortable sofas in the dining area, along with traditional bar stools at the bar. The manager of Polo Gastropub, Chris Friel, said: “The gastropub is not strictly replacing Polo Lounge; it’s evolving and moving on with the times.”

Luke Johnson – business rates need re-assessing: Sector investor Luke Johnson has argued that business rates, which produce £20bn a year of income for the government, need to be re-assessed. He told a recent Management Today conference: “They’ve been rising relentlessly right through the recession, even as the high streets have been in decline because of online shopping and a generally tough retail market, and I think it’s wrong. The government should reassess the tax burden on physical retailers, because not only do they provide jobs and pay a lot of taxes, but they are also a crucial part of village and town centres. When I first started in retailing 25 years ago, it would be very rare indeed for a retailer to have a shop that made less profit than the business rates. Now it’s very common for the business rates to cost more than the profit contribution that business owner makes after all the effort of stocking it and employing people.”
 
A thousand Irish pubs have closed since 2007: Over a thousand pubs have closed in Ireland since the economic crisis hit in 2007, according to the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (DIGI). DIGI told the Irish parliament’s finance committee that a higher tax rate on alcohol, coupled with a poor economy, had left the industry in tatters. Padraig Cribben, chief executive of the Vintners Federation of Ireland, said: “Excise damages our rural pubs and independent off-licences. Since 2007 over 1,000 pubs throughout Ireland have been forced to close. The small pubs in rural communities cannot soak up excise increases across a wide product mix like a supermarket can.” Cribben said that Ireland was the most expensive country in Europe to buy alcohol, which should be a chief concerns to the country, “second only to the weather”. “There has been a rise in cross-border activity as a result of excise increases, causing pubs, independent off-licences and the exchequer to lose out,” he said.

MP holds surgery in local McDonald’s: An MP has held a surgery for his constituents in a McDonald’s restaurant that was so successful it looks like being repeated regularly. Alun Cairns, Conservative MP for the Vale of Glamorgan constituency, held a surgery at the Cardiff Road McDonald’s in Barry to discuss issues with constituents. During the surgery he met McDonald’s franchisee David Balcombe, who said: “I’m really pleased to be able to work together with Mr Cairns to give local members of the community the chance to discuss any issues they have in the comfort of our restaurant. It was a really successful event which overran due to the number of local constituents keen to speak to Alun. Moving forward, we’re going to hold MP surgeries every quarter.” Cairns said: “I hold regular surgeries across Barry and the Vale but I’m keen to be available to those who don’t usually think of approaching their MP for help so I was delighted when the opportunity arose to hold it at McDonald’s in Barry.”

Sky Sports to launch ‘free’ European football channel on 12 August: Sky Sports has scheduled up to 75 live matches from five European competitions during the first five weeks of Sky Sports 5. The new European football channel launches on 12 August with the UEFA Super Cup between Real Madrid and Sevilla, expected to feature Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo. The game is the first live match on Sky Sports 5, which will allow pubs and clubs to show up to 600 live European football matches next season at no extra cost as part of their existing packages. It will be the home of the UEFA Euro 2016 qualifiers, UEFA Champions League, La Liga and Copa del Rey.

Company News:

TCG reports conversion to beer cafe boosts turnover by 82%: Managed pub and bar operator TCG is reaping the rewards of a bold decision earlier this summer to reposition its Via bar on London’s West India Quay as a Continental-style beer cafe. Following a partnership with Czech beer brand Kozel, footfall to the bar has grown exponentially and draught beer sales since re-launch in late May are up by 82% on the same six weeks last year. Key to the project was the transformation of Via’s sizeable outdoor area into a lively beer garden, with Kozel-branded bar, new tables, benches and umbrellas and, at the entrance, an imposing arch replicating the one at the Kozel brewery in Velké Popovice. The result is much-improved visibility for Via, which now stands out from the row of bars on West India Quay. Sales of Kozel, the ‘easy-drinking, flavoursome Czech beer’ distributed by Miller Brands, have rocketed in Via since May, with its share of draught beer volumes at the site growing from 22% to 48%. At the same time, the menu has been redesigned to include a range of dishes such as Ham Hock and Belly Pork, infused with Kozel and herbs and spices found in traditional Czech cuisine and served with ‘Czechslaw’ and potato salad. The new menu was kick-started with the Kozel beer truck parked outside the bar to serve food during launch week. TCG chief operating offer Nigel Wright said: “We’re delighted with the final result at Via. Customers in and around West India Quay were ready for something a bit different to the existing venues, and we’ve clearly created a new offer with strong appeal.”

Red’s True opens in Headingley: Red’s True Barbecue, the American smokehouse restaurant chain, is set to open in Headingley, Leeds today, serving up barbecue food for free until it runs out. The brand has converted the former Macy’s Grill building, which has undergone a £460,000 refit, and features design inspiration from its previous life as a bank. The roof of the restaurant will be transformed into an open-air stage, showcasing an array of live bands. James Douglas, co-founder of Red’s, said: “There’s no denying we wouldn’t be here now opening our new amazing Headingley site if it wasn’t for the incredible support Leeds has shown us since we opened in 2012. This is a chance for us in some way to say, ‘Thank you, fill your boots.’ We’re excited to see what people think we’ve done with the interior design, taking it back to its roots as a bank, but with a definite Red’s twist. Furthermore, both Scott and I are very proud to have created a further 36 jobs in the local area. It’s important we continue to invest in the city’s pool of excellent talent. We’re confident Red’s will really add to the bustling culture of Headingley and help grow its perception as a great day and night out for all.”

Bed and Bars reports stellar June trading: Beds and Bars, the pan-European hostel provider led by Keith Knowles, has reported very strong June trading. In the five weeks, between 25 May and 28 June, UK like-for-like wet sales were up 29% with wet sales at its European sites climbing by 14%. Earlier this month, Knowles told Propel: “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.”

C2 Investment reports turnover and profit boost, plans to cut production to avoid PBD damage: C2 Investment, the holding company for Lancaster Brewery and three Lake District coaching inns led by Matt Jackson, has reported a rise in turnover and profit in the year to 31 January 2014 despite a hit from Progressive Beer Duty that led to losses at the brewery. Turnover rose 8.5% to £5.87m from £5.42m the year before. Pre-tax profit climbed to £428,000 from £28,000. The company owns 76% of Lancaster Brewery where “the demands of Progressive Beer Duty (PBD) have damaged margins as the brewery’s production has flourished,” its annual report said, continuing: “This has led directly to the brewery’s losses. New plans were put in place in late 2013 to focus the business on activities not subject to duty whilst also reducing beer production through 2014/15 to below the 5,000 hectolitres per year PBD threshold. Thus, projections show the brewery back in a break-even position and significantly in profit for 2015/16 when the duty costs reduce by approximately 40% on current levels.”

Greene King applies for Farmhouse Inn next to airport: Greene King has submitted plans for a new Farmhouse Inn restaurant (the business that was previously called Cloverleaf) at Airport West Business Park in Leeds to the local authority. The application said the new pub-restaurant, next to Leeds Bradford International Airport, would be a facility for both staff and visitors, enhancing the business park’s offer and helping to attract more businesses to the site. Business-friendly facilities, such as free Wi-Fi, would be provided, and Greene King said the new Farmhouse Inn would be well placed to serve nearby residents in Yeadon, as well as cater for passing trade along the A658. The currently vacant 0.85 hectare site is owned by Airport West and the planning application is being brought jointly with Greene King. The 1,293 sq m restaurant would create 75 local retail jobs. The planning application is expected to be decided by September.

Scotland’s premier ski bar for sale: Ski-ing Doo, widely seen as the premier ski-bar and restaurant in Scotland, is being marketed for sale by the property agent Christie + Co. One of the busiest licensed businesses in Aviemore, the Cairngorm town synonymous with skiing in the UK, Ski-ing Doo is being put up for sale because the current owner is considering retirement options. Barry McNeil, of Christie + Co in Edinburgh, said: “Ski-ing Doo is a highly popular business which has been run, with increasing success, by the current owner for eight years. The business also presents an incoming operator with the opportunity to build on trade, by taking full advantage of a 1am bar licence. Its reputation should see us generate a great deal of interest in the sales process.” Christie + Co is seeking offers in excess of £30,000 for the leasehold interest.

Hundreds take up Bastille Day free meal offer from Brasserie Zedel: More than 800 customers took up Brasserie Zedel’s offer of a free meal for anyone who turned up wearing the stereotypical French garb of hooped shirt and beret on Bastille Day. Diners dressed in Breton stripes and berets flocked to the brasserie, just off Piccadilly Circus in Central London, to bag a free meal in celebration of Bastille Day. The restaurant, offered each diner a complimentary meal from the £19.75 “formule” menu, featuring a celery remoulade, beef bourguignon, grilled mackerel and the typically French dessert Ile Flottante, a meringue resting on crème anglaise.

Pint Shop named as Cambridge’s best pub: The inaugural Cambridge Magazine and Cambridge News Food and Drink Awards has given Pint Shop, the craft beer and British food venue that launched in November last year, win the title of best pub/bar. This category was judged by experts from across the county, including food marketing expert Vhari Russell, Cambridge Cookery School’s Tine Roche, Eat Cambridge’s Caroline Biggs and the head of Cambridgeshire Wine School, Mark Anstead. The awards, created this year, are designed to celebrate the diverse choice of eateries and drinking establishments in Cambridge, and the successful individuals and teams behind them. Pint Shop is the brainchild of Richard Holmes and Benny Peverelli.

Greene King chief awarded share under deferred bonus scheme: The chief executive of Greene King, Rooney Anand, has been awarded 7,919 free shares in the company under its deferred bonus scheme. He now holds 389,701 shares in the company.

Heineken launches Twitter pub recommendation service: Heineken has launched a Twitter-based pub recommendation service that suggests places to go for a drink based on the user’s location, and the social media activity surrounding nearby venues. Tweeting your location to the brewer’s @wherenext Twitter account directs you to a page which taps into public tweets, Instagram photos and Foursquare check-ins to calculate what the company claims will be “the most exciting place to visit”. If you are looking for further adventures on your night out, Heineken will also follow up with a second tweet after an hour recommending a new place to move on to. The service recommends any outlet, regardless of whether it sells Heineken or not.

Burger King expands delivery service in the US: Burger King has expanded its delivery service, BK Delivers, to two new markets in the United States, Atlanta, and Fresno, California. The chain, which has more than 7,400 locations in the US and Canada, now has its web or phone-based delivery service in more than a dozen major metropolitan markets. BK Delivers continues to “perform well” in markets such as Boston, New York, Miami and Chicago, and Northern California markets such as the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento, the company said.

Douglas Jack – we expect Fuller’s trading to have remained strong: Numis Securities’ leisure analyst Douglas Jack has issued an ‘Add’ note on shares in Fuller, Smith & Turner, with a target price of 1100p, forecasting that trading will have remained strong when it reports its first quarter results on 24 July. He said: “We upgraded our forecasts twice last month due to 2014 being ahead, expansion/refurbishment activity picking up, early 2015E managed like-for-like sales being up 8.0% and the acquisition of The Stable restaurant chain. Although trading should be ahead, we expect to hold forecasts next week (as it is only for Q1). Managed pub/hotel like-for-like sales rose 8% (against a 7% comp) over the nine weeks to 31 May aided by strong trading conditions in London and South East England, improving product range as well as increased focus on food marketing and training. Reasonable weather (year-on-year, April to June rainfall rose by only 11%) should have been neutral and the World Cup should have provided a slight boost to both the managed and tenanted estates (positive for drink-led outlets; negative for wet-led outlets), in our view. The World Cup was mostly viewed at home in the UK, partly due to England’s early exit, with viewers ‘fuelled’ by heavily discounted supermarket beer. Brewing volumes rose 10% over the first nine weeks. With an ever-improving portfolio of premium drinks, volume growth is being driven by exports and helped by a more stable performance from national account customers. In addition, off-trade volumes should have benefited from the World Cup over the last few weeks. We expect to hold our forecasts (2015E PBT: £35.3m / consensus £34.8m) which are based on cautious assumptions of 3% managed like-for-like sales growth, 1% tenanted like-for-like profit growth and 2% brewing volume growth. Given this and five new managed pubs having already been scheduled for 2015E (vs four in 2014), we believe forecast risk remains on the upside.”

KFC loses out to trees at airport: An application to build a KFC drive-through restaurant at Gatwick Airport has been turned down by Crawley Council. Despite the council’s planning officers having recommended the application be approved, the council’s development control committee refused it on the grounds of the loss of woodland, trees and related ecology which would occur if the application were granted. The application by Gatwick Airport Ltd and franchisee Cobra Restaurants for a drive-through on the exit road from the South terminal, Ring Road North featured a building designed by the architectural practice Ghost, showing a building with a green sloping roof “to create an almost seamless view into the sky” that would “stand comfortably among the surrounding landscaped woodland area”.

US restaurant consultant – TGI Friday’s in the US on life support: Restaurant consultant Aaron Allen has argued that TGI Friday’s move to offer unlimited appetisers for $10 during the summer in the United States is a sign of its distressed market position. Speaking in Restaurant News, he said: “When a brand starts discounting and placating to the discount-minded, it signals to investors, employees, media, partners, and franchisees that it’s no longer appealing on its merits. It’s like saying, ‘Look, what we offer isn’t worth the price we ask for so we’re going to train you to pay attention to us only when we’re doing some deep discount ploy.’ The fact is, though, consumers willing to pay full price don’t like being around consumers who are only attracted by a discount. The two don’t mix well. TGI Friday’s, like other equally desperate brands, seems decidedly willing to trade long-term prosperity for short-term traffic. An all-you-can-eat appetiser, in exchange for any crinkled $10 bill, is a bold bribe that will work in the short term but will also as assuredly undermine the brand’s future.”

Square Pie announces 22% like-for-like sales boost: Square Pie, the London-based restaurant chain with five outlets, has announced average like-for-like sales up 22% for the first six months of 2014. The chain is putting part of its success down to new branding which is set to roll out across all five of its sites later this year. Square Pie’s founder and chief executive, Martin Dewey, also gave credit to the launch of a line of gourmet jacket potatoes, and little three-bite pies, called Canapies, which are selling fast alongside the brand’s classic pies. Dewey said: “It’s really satisfying that the new look and range have been so well received by our customers. We’re now actively looking for the right sites across London, and indeed the rest of the UK, to bring our unique offering to more people.”

Wagamama opens in Hereford: Wagamama opened in Hereford yesterday, the only Wagamama within 40 miles, creating 35 new jobs. The site is at unit 25, the Old Market shopping centre in Widemarsh Street.

Consett lap-dancing club allowed to re-open as a nightclub: A controversial lap-dancing club in County Durham can reopen as a nightclub, councillors have decided. Durham County Council’s statutory licensing sub-committee has granted a premises licence for the former Red Velvet club in Front Street, Consett. Police originally opposed the licence application, but withdrew their objection after reaching agreement with the applicants on operating conditions. The strip club, which was run by Sonny Gill, has been closed since last January when it lost its drinks licence after the discovery of cocaine during a police raid.

Bradford restaurateur wins new site approval: Bradford restaurateur Zulfi Hussain has won planning consent to turn City Park’s empty Pavilion building into a new cafe. Hussain is planning to invest £250,000 into the council-owned building, just feet from the Mirror Pool, creating at least 12 jobs. Hussain, the co-owner of the Indian restaurant Deeva in Farsley, Leeds, said he had found out about the Pavilion building at the Taste of Bradford event organised by Bradford Breakthrough in March.

West Country fish and chip concept expands offer at second opening: Frankie and Rebecca Campbell have evolved the offer at the second site for their Fish Bar brand which serves traditional fish and chips in a contemporary setting. They have opened the Plym Fish Bar in Plympton, Devon after their first venture, the Ivy Fish Bar in Ivybridge, proved to be a hit with customers. They received the cash needed for the venture via Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, which provided a commercial loan through the Funding for Lending Scheme. Campbell said: “We were getting a lot of positive comments from customers from Plympton who were travelling to Ivybridge for our fish and chips, so when the premises in the area came available we seized the opportunity to open the second site. We are dedicated to providing our customers with the best products possible and fry our chips in rape seed oil, which is a lot healthier and more environmentally friendly than other cooking oils. As well as this, we have expanded our range of products to include gourmet burgers made from 100% Devon steak, pork or venison, and specially prepared fish for customers who suffer from gluten and wheat intolerances.”

Luminar seeks boxing and wrestling licence in Windsor: Luminar has applied for a licence to stage boxing and wrestling bouts at its Windsor Liquid nightclub. It has applied to the local council to add the capacity to stage boxing, wrestling and indoor sporting events at the venue. If approved, the club would be able to stage the events Monday to Sunday from 11am until 4am the following morning. Under the plans, the current hours and activities currently covered by the club’s licence would remain unchanged.

BrewDog posts adverts to recruit distiller and BrewDog USA brewer: The Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has posted adverts on the recruitment page of its website seeking a “highly motivated, experienced distiller” to help with the creation of a new spirits division and a brewer to establish the production of BrewDog beers in the United States. The distiller advert, which says that the candidate will be based at BrewDog’s brewery in Ellon, Aberdeenshire, adds: “We’re looking for a highly motivated, experienced distiller with a can-do attitude and a hands-on approach to leadership to join our team and assist in implementing our brand new spirits division. In this role you will work closely with our production manager to oversee the installation and commissioning of our new stills. Moreover, you will take the lead on the development of our spirits division, designing recipes and processes for our new spirits project and developing our spirits division from the ground up. In this role you will work pretty much independently, developing a team around you as the spirits division grows.” Of the US brewer position, the advert says: “In this role you will work closely with our managing director and brewing director, as well as our senior production team based here in Scotland, to ensure epic craft beers are brewed out in the USA according to our strict specifications and in good time.” A spokeswoman said: “There is nothing to announce just yet. At this stage there is no extra information to add.”

Moorhouse’s encourages north west farmers to grow ‘cask ale’ barley: The Burnley brewer Moorhouse’s has persuaded farmers in the north west of England to start growing Maris Otter barley, the variety regarded by many as making the best malt for cask ales. The variety was developed in Cambridgeshire in the 1950s and became extremely popular with cask ale brewers. However, after bad harvests and difficulties with seed, many arable farmers shunned the variety in favour of more easily cultivated, higher yield crops. Now Moorhouse’s has convinced a clutch of arable farmers in the St Helens and Preston areas to revive the variety. Moorhouse’s managing director, David Grant, said: “We aim to build a ‘terroir’ similar to that for French wines. We want publicans to know they can have cask ales with real provenance from Burnley – ales brewed in Lancashire from the best Lancashire malt.” At the malting firm Muntons, managing director Guy Newsam said: “Moorhouse’s has taken a leading role in persuading northern farmers to grow more Maris Otter malting barley. This has been achieved through hosting structured visits at the brewery, supported by Isaac Poad, the grain merchant, and ourselves as maltsters, aimed at building a sustainable Maris Otter supply chain with local provenance. This has stimulated interest from the farmers with a number committing to grow Maris Otter for the brewery on potentially a long-term basis.” One of the farmers involved, Olly Harrison of Water Lane Farm, Prescott, said: “It is good to be growing a crop where we know where we are selling and how it is going to be used.”

McDonald’s ties with Facebook to ‘personalise campaigns at scale’: Marketing Week has reported that McDonald’s Europe is working with Facebook to pinpoint how it can personalise content at scale across the social network as it works to introduce more reactive marketing into its calendar of seasonal activity. The magazine said: “The fast food giant is looking to develop best-practice guidelines that will see it treat Facebook more like a broadcast channel when exploiting excitement around its sponsorship platforms such as the European Football Championships and the Olympics. It means working directly with Facebook’s in-house creative and planning teams to target people who may not be big sports fans but have got caught up in the buzz around either event. While future advertising tools on the platform are likely to affect the plans between now and both events in 2016, the restaurant wants to offset its year-round advertising calendar with more responsive content capable of reaching consumers on a global level. The guidelines are being pulled from the brand’s ‘Fry Futbol’ reactive videos it created with Facebook for the World Cup, which it claims spread worldwide organically despite being focused on European markets. Quirky films starring its French fries recreated the tournament’s memorable moments for mobile users just hours after they happened.”

Seafood firm to invest £2m after winning YO! Sushi contract: The processor New England Seafood International (NESI) is investing £2m in fitting out a new plant adjacent to its current site, after winning the contract to supply YO! Sushi’s 68 UK stores. Joii Sushi, a co-owned subsidiary of NESI, has just been awarded the contract to supply YO! Sushi’s 68 restaurants across the UK, adding to its business with other sushi chains such as Itsu and Abakado. Founded by NESI and the French firm Comptoirs Oceaniques in 2013, Joii Sushi won the YO! Sushi business from M&J Seafood, the specialist seafood supply division of the foodservice giant Brake Bros. Dan Aherne, NESI’s group chief executive, said: “YO! Sushi is the original kaiten sushi concept in the UK and has been an innovator in its field, so we are delighted to be asked to help develop its fish range and menu. A high-quality fish offer is essential to produce great sushi and sashimi and Joii’s entire focus centres on how we convert great quality into strong sales.”

Orderella signs up central London hotel: Orderella, the mobile phone ordering app, has signed up its first hotel client, the Danubius Hotel, in Regent’s Park, central London. Customers can now order room service through their phone. The app will be available for use in all 364 rooms, as well as in the main restaurant and bar areas. Simon McLaughlin, operations manager at the Regent’s Park Danubius Hotel, said: “We’re hugely excited to be the first hotel to offer the Orderella app to our customers. It will be ideal for any customers who might be travelling alone and would rather eat in their rooms than come down to the main restaurant.”

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