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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Mon 11th Aug 2014 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

London Beer Week scheduled for February 2015 to keep city at cutting edge of craft beer: The team behind London Wine Week and London Cocktail Week have launched London Beer Week, which will take place from the 16 and 22 February 2015. A seven day celebration of all things beer related, the festival will be set amongst London’s top pubs, bars and breweries, highlighting the rich diversity and idiosyncrasies that make it a truly global beverage. Working with the team behind Craft Beer Rising – which will be an integral part of the festival – London Beer Week will combine niche of brewers alongside classic beer stalwarts in a series of events, pop-ups and tastings that will cover more than 120 venues throughout the capital. As with London Cocktail Week and London Wine Week, visitors will be able to take part in self-guided beer tours, tasting some of the most innovative beers currently being brewed. Visitors will be able to purchase a wristband to gain access to London Beer Week activities with a specially created pocket-sized guidebook mapping out all the venues taking part. There will a full schedule of ticketed, bespoke events dedicated to beer – alongside the sell-out beer and street-food sessions staged by Craft Beer Rising (who have added more sessions due to popular demand). Simon Dehany, from Craft Beer Rising, said: “Craft Beer Rising are delighted to partner with London Beer Week in what will be a welcome addition to the drinker’s calendar in the capital. The rise of the craft beer movement has been significant in the last few years and we will be looking forward to integrating our own established festival into the wider activities that London Beer Week will be hosting. This is a great move forward for both parties involved and keeps London at the cutting edge of the craft beer movement.”

Industry News:

Julian Metcalfe – business rates are killing retailing: Pret A Manger and Itsu founder Julian Metcalfe has told The Mail on Sunday that he believes business rates are killing retailing. He said: “Business rates are really high. They’re killing retailing. In some cases business rates are much higher than rent, so that’s why we complain about going to the cities and half the shops are empty.”

Gordon Ramsay hit by $6m Fat Cow lawsuit: Chef Gordon Ramsay has been hit by a $6m lawsuit in respect of his now-closed Los Angeles restaurant the Fat Cow. The lawsuit has been filed by his former Fat Cow landlord, alleging Ramsay and his business partner Rowen Seibel broke their $52,000 a month lease terms. A spokesman for Ramsay said: “It’s the unfortunate, but inevitable normal procedure resulting from Rowen Seibel’s gross mismanagement of the restaurant and diversion of funds from the business that lead to a string of financial and legal issues.”

Taxpayer subsidised Parliament’s restaurants to the tune of £6m last year: The taxpayer subsidised Parliament’s restaurants to the tune of £6m last year, The Guardian has reported. While costs fell in the House of Commons after a series of revenue-raising measures, costs at the Lords went up. Usually the Commons publishes figures that offset sales of souvenirs and gifts against spending on its catering service. But in response to a freedom of information request, the authorities revealed that without that income the operation ran a deficit of £4.5m in 2013-14 – down from £4.9m the previous year. Meanwhile, the House of Lords’ annual accounts showed that the net cost of its catering and retail outlets rose by around £150,000 to £1.45m. Excluding profits from banqueting functions and retail sales, the overall bill was some £2.44m – up from £2.3m in 2012-13.

Company News:

Papa John’s reports “strong” UK performance as international like-for-likes climb 8.6%: Pizza delivery firm Papa John’s has report “strong” trading in the UK, Russia, the Middle East and Africa as like-for-likes abroad climbed 8.6% in its Second Quarter. US sales saw a 6% like-for-like rise. Chief executive and founder John Schnatter said the chain is “on the verge” of being the first US national pizza delivery firm to achieve a digital sales mix of over 50% in the domestic market. In Q2, Papa John’s domestic digital sales were “well over” 45%. During Q2, Papa John’s opened 47 net global units. Chief operating officer Steve Ritchie said the pipeline remains robust, with about 1,200 units scheduled to open globally over next six years.

BrewDog launches beer sorbet: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has teamed up with London gelateria Gelupo to launch beer sorbet across selected bar sites. The company stated: “We are always looking to prove how versatile craft beer is, and if you’re whipping it up into something new, you don’t have to cover up the more aggressive tones, but instead embrace them and provide them with a platform to really showcase all their beery glory. And if we can convert someone to craft beer via a cup of sorbet this summer, that’s a bonus! They are available from our bars in Camden, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. If they’re a hit, we’ll be getting them into more of our bars across the UK.”

Bill’s eyes Berkhamsted opening: Bill’s is eyeing an opening in Berkhamsted, with an advert for staff to work at a new venue in the town. Vacancies for a general manager, assistant general manager, assistant manager, head chef and sous chef have been advertised on the company’s website. A spokesman for the restaurant said: “It hasn’t been 100% confirmed when exactly we are going to be opening.” Bill’s Restaurants will be opening a further 20 or more restaurants throughout the country during 2014.

Agent markets £1.3m coaching inn: Agent Christie + Co is marketing the freehold of a £1.3m coaching inn in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire. The Hind Hotel offers 34 bedrooms with a traditional restaurant and bar, informal cafe and four meeting rooms of various sizes. Gavin Wright, of Christie + Co’s Birmingham office, said: “Our clients have owned the hotel since 2001 and have built up a fantastic reputation in Wellingborough and surrounding areas. Given the excellent location of the hotel within the town centre, it benefits from a number of meetings, functions and weddings.”

Whisky collection pub comes on the market for the first time in 45 years: A pub boasting one of the largest collections of whiskies in the world has been put on the market for the first time in 45 years. Agent Fleurets is marketing the part-freehold and part-leasehold at The George Hotel in Leadenham, Lincolnshire with an asking price of £250,000. Mike and Karin Willgoose have operated the Grade II listed coaching inn for almost half a century. The couple have collected almost 700 different whiskies, of which the most prestigious, 1937 Pride of Strathspey, is offered for £500 a shot. “We don’t sell many of that one but everybody always wants to know which one it is and it is supposed to be nectar to taste,” said Mike Willgoose.

JD Wetherspoon to open in Fraserburgh tomorrow: JD Wetherspoon is to open a new pub in the north east Scottish town of Fraserburgh (population: 12,630) tomorrow (Tuesday 12 August). The bar and hotel in Fraserburgh is to create nearly 70 new jobs in the town. The pub is housed in what used to be The Saltoun Arms and will now be called The Saltoun Inn. The £2 million development will be managed by Donna Rafferty, who formerly worked at the Granite City pub at Aberdeen International Airport.

Baguette Express seeks London master franchisee: Baguette Express is seeking a London master franchisee. Baguette Express operates kiosk, concession and retail models within shopping centres, high streets, business parks and transport hubs. The master franchise licence for Greater London covers the area within the M25 and extends as far as Maidenhead and Guilford. Franchisor Robin Stenhouse said: “With the right person in the driving seat, the potential of this region is simply huge with potentially 300-plus outlets. Of course, revenue comes from launching not just your own stores, but also through royalties paid to you by franchisees joining your region. All this is backed by our industry-leading support, established branding and solid track record in this sector. The model is so successful that we now have no less than three outlets in Dubai – that really shows the potential for a franchise partner with vision and ambition.” 

Norwich entrepreneur plans three lobster restaurants under Just Lobsters brand: Norwich entrepreneur Mike Phillips is set to convert the former Samson and Hercules ballroom and nightclub in the Tomblands area of Norwich into the city’s first lobster restaurant – with two more planned to follow. Phillips will open Just Lobsters on 1 October. Phillips said: “We are bringing lobsters to the people. They are perceived as being a luxury food, but they don’t have to be. Our lobsters will come from Canada and Maine in the US. I would love to buy local but prices for local lobsters are excessive. The restaurant will also serve shellfish, prawns and steak, for those who don’t like lobsters. We will have about 15 staff.” He said future plans include turning the basement into a crypt bar in about a year’s time. He said he planned to open two more restaurants in East Anglia in the next few years.

Jarrow Brewery adds to pub estate: Jarrow Brewery is to add The Borough Arms, said to be the oldest pub in Gateshead, to its pub estate. The company has also relaunched its McConnell’s Irish Stout in keg form. Launched in 2002, Jarrow Brewery has quickly grown to include two brewery sites and several pubs, including The Robin Hood in Jarrow, The Maltings in South Shields and The Isis in Sunderland. However, Jarrow owner Jess McConnell has announced he is planning to sell The Magnesia Bank pub in North Shields. Jarrow MP Stephen Hepburn launched the brewery’s new £500,000 beer plant at the Bede Industrial Estate, Jarrow, last October. The brewery had earlier secured £140,000, through the Regional Growth Fund, to expand its operations, including the creation of more than a dozen new jobs. Brewing capacity has been expanded to 72,000 pints a week.

Funbars opens Ugly Coyote bar: Funbars, led by Declan Lohan and Lind Morgan, has opened a new suite called Kings in Norwich, which will be based around the ethos of the film Coyote Ugly. Manager Laura Bird said the mood and atmosphere of Ugly Coyote would serve as inspiration. She said: “It’s all about people having fun and dancing. We also have two real ales on tap and lots of boutique beer from Belgium.”

Contemporary seaside cafe and bistro opens at Sunderland’s Pier Point: A contemporary seaside cafe and bistro, The Beach House, has opened within the new Pier Point development on Marine Walk, near Sunderland’s Roker Beach. It is part of Sunderland AFC’s 1879 Events Management portfolio and offers everything from simple teas and coffees to a modern bistro-style lunch menu showcasing locally sourced produce and seafood through to signature burger dishes and freshly-prepared sandwiches. There’s also a bespoke children’s menu and an icecream, popcorn and candy bar alongside a take-out service. Sunderland AFC’s commercial director Gary Hutchinson said: “There have been some really exciting developments along the seafront in recent months and we hope The Beach House will be a must-visit destination for people in Sunderland.”

£1.5m nightclub opens in Magherafelt: A £1.5m nightclub development, Secrets, has opened in Magherafelt on the site of the former Dormans and The Opera site, which closed in February. Husband and wife team Henry and Teresa McGlone have operated a business on the site for 28 years. The four-phase transformation of the venue starting with Secrets Nightclub has been in planning for 18 months with work having started after Easter. By the end of 2015, the business has anticipated the creation of 100 jobs, initially starting with a team of sixty for the nightclub. Henry McGlone said: “We have travelled extensively to bring the best elements of the world’s renowned bars and clubs to Magherafelt and we are confident Secrets Nightclub and the further phases will bring something new and innovative to the social offering in Northern Ireland.” Commencement of phase two will start in early 2015 offering live music and food.

Chilango extends burrito bond for two more weeks: Chilango has extended the duration of its so-called burrito bond for two more weeks, until midnight on 26 August, after raising more than £250,000 last week, which was supposed to be its last. The company has now raised £1,781,000 from 580 investors. As of this morning there are 15 days left to invest in the bond, which pays 8% interest. The money raised so far will allow at least three new openings.

Rough Trade takes Broad Street, Nottingham site for fourth opening: Rough Trade has taken a site in Broad Street, Nottingham, for its fourth opening. The brand will open in the autumn, adding to its two sites in London and New York venue. It will offer a coffee shop/cafe. “In response to the limitations of screen-based retail, our stores have become cultural hotspots, particularly for younger, format-savvy generations, who are as likely to play vinyl records to a room full of friends as they are to listen a track on their phone,” said Rough Trade co-owner and director Stephen Godfroy. “City centre retail is often overshadowed by the bar and restaurant sector in terms of providing places of communal vibrancy, so we hope to liven things up a little by giving innovative artists and independent thinkers a place to unite, creating places that aren’t afraid to experiment and rattle expectations.” The Nottingham shop appears likely to be the first step in a programme of regional expansion for Rough Trade, which has also acquired a majority interest in Rise Music, the Bristol-based independent music retailer with shops in Worcester and Cheltenham. Rise’s managing director, Lawrence Montgomery, has been appointed to run Rough Trade’s UK regional operation.

Flaming Grill launches mobile: Spirit Pub Company’s Flaming Grill has launched a Flaming Grill van, named Blaze. The van, which launched on Friday (8 August) at the Retro Festival in Maidenhead, will be attending food festivals, music events and University Freshers’ Weeks with an aim to introduce new guests to Flaming Grill. Burgers will take centre stage on the van’s menu as well as hot dogs, kebabs and steak sandwiches, offering a taster of what customers can expect to find in a Flaming Grill pub. Sally Whittaker, brand director at Flaming Grill, said: “After reaching our 100th milestone earlier this year it felt right to step up our brand awareness activity by taking Flaming Grill on the road, and so ‘Blaze’ was born. We’ve got a busy year planned with pit stops scheduled all over the country to give the public a taste of our Grill and hopefully encourage them to take a trip down to their local Flaming Grill pub.”

Meantime launches year-round Greenwich Peninsula pop-up: London’s craft brewer Meantime Brewing Company has launched its new pop-up concept, located on Greenwich Peninsula Square. Created with design agency Hooperberg, the two-storey ‘BeerBox’ has been constructed from customised shipping containers. The bar will serve Meantime’s core range of beers, as well as the most recent limited editions and seasonal brews. In addition, the BeerBox will also serve Peninsula Pale Ale, which will be dispensed using the company’s state of the art brewery-fresh tank beer concept. The BeerBox will be open all year round, with an open top roof terrace above bar level. Nick Miller, chief executive at Meantime, said: “Meantime aims to innovate and pioneer with its craft beers and has looked at many options to bring its range to the drinker. With this in mind, we wanted to create an interesting space and experience for our drinkers where they can enjoy modern craft beer in an entertaining environment. The BeerBox provides us with the opportunity to educate consumers about our craft in a fantastic location just minutes from our brewery.” Meantime has partnered with Knight Dragon, the development company charged with rejuvenating the Greenwich Peninsula area, to locate BeerBox just 200 yards from North Greenwich tube. The BeerBox opened at Greenwich Peninsula Square, with a performance from indie rockers We Are Scientists.

Graysons buys second Fulton’s site: Foodservice firm Graysons Restaurants has acquired an Essex restaurant, making it the second site in its Fulton’s Restaurants portfolio. The company has bought Grahams on the Green in Writtle, and has plans to create an individual casual dining venue, with an emphasis on fresh and locally sourced food. The company said it would upgrade the kitchen, bar area and frontage of the restaurant over the next 12 months. It also plans to rename it Fulton’s on the Green. Grahams on the Green is the second acquisition for Grayson’s high-street leisure service Fulton’s restaurant, following its purchase of the 100-cover restaurant and hotel, The Starr at Great Dunmow, in 2012. Chef director of Fulton’s Restaurants Simon Silvester said: “It is our intention to build on the excellent work carried out by the previous owner Graham Aldis, who has established a successful business in a picturesque location overlooking the village pond in Writtle.”

Marathon Asset Management buys 11-strong hotel portfolio: Eleven QMH UK hotels, operating under the Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn and Best Western PLUS brands have been acquired for an undisclosed sum by Marathon Asset Management. The hotels, brought to the market by agent Christie + Co in February, were acquired by Marathon following a highly competitive sales process. The nationwide portfolio consists of approximately 2,000 bedrooms within three Crowne Plaza hotels, seven Holiday Inn hotels and one Best Western PLUS in trading locations from Glasgow to Plymouth. Jeremy Hill, of Christie + Co, said: “This was a rare opportunity to acquire a ready-made portfolio of hotels with a profitable trading profile. The group has benefited from an ongoing extensive multi-million pound refurbishment programme with recent investments in key assets including Crowne Plaza Glasgow, Holiday Inn Stratford-upon-Avon and Crowne Plaza Chester. Marathon Asset Management has acquired a strong portfolio that gives it a platform from which it will be able to fulfil its ambitions for further hospitality investments in the UK and continental Europe. With business travel accelerating in the UK, the portfolio’s footprint covers markets that are extremely well-positioned for future growth. Marathon intends to further accelerate the portfolio’s growth through a substantial investment programme. While vendors are benefiting from values being on their way up following the recession, they are still short of their pre-recession peak. And this is reflected in values both in and around London, and the UK regions.” 

Stonegate invests £285,000 in Ware pub: Stonegate Pub Company has invested £285,000 in Ware, Hertfordshire, opening The Waterside Inn, formerly known as Navigator. Five chef positions have been created as the pub launches with an emphasis on food. General manager Billy Morgan said: “The biggest change will be across our food and drinks offers. On the food side, the emphasis will be on freshly prepared dishes, seasonal ingredients, classic pub favourites and tempting desserts whilst our range of drinks will be more diverse with an extensive selection of quality wines, delicious cocktails and real ales.” Dishes on the menu include an open chicken pie, twice-cooked lamb ribs and a special seafood linguine.

Purity Brewing Company sponsors new Birmingham food and drink festival: Regional brewer Purity Brewing Company has announced a partnership with Birmingham Independent Food Fair, the new food and drink festival taking place at Millennium Point on 13 September. Paul Halsey, managing director at Purity Brewing Co, said: “At Purity we’re keen to support the independent economy. Food and drink producers are a huge part of what makes this region special, and this new food fair in Birmingham will bring them together.” Purity Brewing Company has worked closely with the likes of Michelin-starred chef Andreas Antona of Simpsons to develop interesting and relevant beer and food matching. Purity will operate a craft beer bar at Birmingham Independent Food Fair, where visitors will be able to try and buy different beers from the company’s range. The fair is also sponsored by Langley’s, a premium gin distilled in Birmingham, who will head up the spirits and wine section. Other stalls housed within this category will include Soul Tree Indian Wine, The Birmingham Whisky Club and a cocktail stand by the Bitters ‘n’ Twisted group. An array of over 40 independent producers and street food traders will be spread throughout Millennium Point and Eastside Park, offering visitors food to try and buy.

Loch Fyne Oysters reports losses: UK supplier Loch Fyne Oysters plans to continue investing in its product range and farming networks, despite a loss of £616,822 for the 16 months to 31 October 2013. Accounts recently filed at Companies House for the company, formerly owned by its workers, but now controlled by Scottish Seafood Investments, extended its latest financial reporting period to the 16 months to 31 October 2013. These show revenue from continuing operations of £19.4 million plus a £211,113 contribution from the oyster farmer Seasalter (Walney) in which Loch Fyne holds a 50% stake. Revenue from the UK came in at £14.5m with £2.6m from Europe, more than £1.8m from the Far East and a contribution of £622,281 from the rest of the world. That compares to the £17.05m brought in from the UK in the 12 months to 30 June 2012, alongside £1.5m from Europe, £615,529 from the Far East and £380,986 from other markets. The pre-tax loss for that year was £155,412 although the business made a small operating profit of £36,712 on continuing operations. The changes in UK revenue are mainly a result of the offloading of the Simson’s Fisheries in the prior year and a re-shaping of the supply agreement with Loch Fyne Restaurants, which is owned by Greene King.

Administrator – high profile buffet restaurant struggled to pay rent: Thirty jobs have been axed following the closure of high profile Kingdom eat-all-you-want buffet restaurant in Newcastle, administrators have confirmed. The buffet restaurant had operated on the first floor of the £20m Haymarket Metro Station building after taking on the space as part of a scheme funded by private developers in 2007. Greenmoat Limited took on the 11,818 sq ft unit to offer diners food from all over the world in what was believed to be the biggest commercial property signing of its kind in 2012. But Kingdom is now in liquidation with administrators from Rowlands Accountancy appointed on 30 July to get the best outcome for creditors, as well as help to arrange redundancy payments for 30 staff left out of work. Peter Gray and Andrew Little, of Rowlands Accountants, the joint administrators, are now carrying out investigations to discover exactly why the business failed, and Gray said it has been suggested Greenmoat Limited struggled to pay the rent. Gray added: “It’s only early days in our investigations but looking at the brief, the company was paying very high rent and their turnover was not what they expected it to be.”

PizzaExpress confirms Billericay opening: PizzaExpress has confirmed it is opening in Billericay, bringing 30 new jobs to the town. It will open at 63 High Street, taking the place of Italian chain restaurant Strada, which closed down in June. A planning application has been submitted to Basildon Council seeking permission to alter the existing restaurant, a grade two listed building dating back to the 18th or 19th century. The existing shop-front is set to be retained but re-painted. A PizzaExpress spokesman said: “Billericay is a fantastic town and we would hope to open in the autumn, creating 30 new jobs.”

Epping restaurant scheme in doubt: Plans for a major development including a cinema, a new town square, homes and restaurants on a seven-acre site in the centre of Epping could be scuppered by an Essex County Council proposal for a nursing home. The site in St John’s Road, Epping, looked set to be developed by Frontier Estates to create a new commercial and leisure hub after plans were approved by two of the three landowners, the district and town councils. But Essex County Council, which owns six acres of the land, is pushing to build a nursing home at the site. Will Rees, development director at Frontier Estates, said the county council proposal would not be the best option for the town. He said: “The scheme is now in doubt due to a late nursing home bid for the ECC land in isolation.” Rees said interested tenants for the site include Everyman cinemas, Wagamama, Las Iguanas and Cote.

Carluccio’s reduced Irish losses in year before franchise buy-back: The Carluccio’s restaurant in Dublin saw its accumulated losses fall by €2.96 million in the last year of operation as an Irish-owned franchise, The Irish Times has reported. The newspaper added: “Accounts filed by its operator, Carluccio’s Ireland Ltd, for the year ended 30 September 2009, show its accumulated losses fell from €3.3 million to €373,295 in 2013. There was a significant fall in its reserves during this period, from €3.8 million to €523,393. Short-term creditors also rose from €760,782 to €1.26 million, with trade creditors rising from €384,698 to €1.05 million. The accounts cover the final period of the Irish franchise, before it was bought back by the parent company. The entire share capital of the Irish investors was purchased by Carluccio’s UK Ltd on 24 October of that year. The Irish franchise had been held by a group of businessmen including former KPMG managing partner Ron Bolger and former Anglo Irish Bank chairman Peter Murray. The restaurant premises on the corner of Dawson Street and Duke Street in Dublin was at the centre of a rent dispute with the building’s owners in 2010. Carluccio’s Ireland originally paid a rent of €680,000 for the four-storey-over-basement building. This did not prove sustainable and the 120-seater restaurant closed for a week before the rent was renegotiated down to its present level of €287,500. In June the property was offered for sale on behalf of Bank of Ireland as part of a portfolio of highly regarded Dublin properties. It is valued at €5 million – a long way short of the €12 million believed to have been paid for it by a group of investors assembled by D2 Private at the top of the property boom.”

Husband-and-wife team plan retro industrial cafe concept launch in Aylsebury: Husband-and-wife team Roger and Elaine Bolton plan to convert a former town centre travel agents in Aylesbury into a family-friendly cafe brand with a retro-industrial feel. The Works will serve a ‘quality menu with artisan ice creams’ that customers can see made right in front of them and snacks such as crepes, waffles, hot desserts, milkshakes, smoothies, coffees, teas and a range of sparkling, red and white wines. The Boltons plan to refurbish the building and expose many of its historic period features to create a ‘retro, industrial’ space for which lends itself to an ‘all-day dining experience’ from 9am to 11pm. The business plan says it will aim to position itself between fast food retailers such as McDonald’s and KFC and casual dining establishments such as Nando’s and Frankie & Bennys, saying ‘casual brands are playing a key role in the growth of the eating out market’.

McDonald’s defends itself from Daily Mail claims that parking fine firm is penalising customers: McDonald’s has refuted suggested by The Daily Mail that it is penalising customers by hiring a parking policing firm at more than 100 of its sites. The Daily Mail reported that McDonald’s has a contract with MET Parking Services to make sure vehicles do not stay beyond a permitted time at 104 of the company’s car parks. But there have been claims that its wardens are placing £100 penalty notices on cars even when families are simply eating inside the restaurant. Marc Gander, of the Consumer Action Group, said: “Private parking companies are part of a bounty hunting fad which has risen up over the past few years and is making an industry of penalising people without good reason or for their simple human mistakes. Big brands like McDonald’s don’t seem to appreciate how this new industry operates or the sense of anger and injustice that it produces in its victims and who are also their own customers.” A spokesman for McDonald’s said: “All parking contractors that we work with are approved by the British Parking Association and are required to meet strict standards which address appropriate levels of charges and behaviours demanded from staff.”

Claims of mass walk-out at Marco Pierre White site are denied: Staff at one of Marco Pierre White’s gastropubs have allegedly staged a walkout in protest over the chef’s ‘bossy management style’. A group of ‘frustrated’ employees at The Pear Tree Inn in Whitley, Wiltshire, are said to have resigned in quick succession, apparently forcing the venue to turn customers away. But the manager has denied the claims and says they are telling guests to go elsewhere because the venue is undergoing refurbishment. White bought the pub in 2011. Local councillor Terry Chivers, who has been drinking at the pub for more than 20 years, said around 15 members of staff walked out in the past few weeks.

Charles Wells to reunite divisions: Charles Wells, the Bedford based brewer and pub operator, has announced that it will be bringing its major operating divisions back under the main parent company identity in the New Year. The family brewer, founded in 1876, will once again be known in its entirety as Charles Wells incorporating the existing Charles Wells Pub Company and Wells & Young’s Brewing Co Ltd. The John Bull Pub Company business that runs nine managed houses in France will be renamed Charles Wells, France. Chairman Paul Wells said: “When we entered the joint brewing venture with Young’s in 2006 it was important to establish the new company through an identity that reflected the heritage of the two traditional family brewers and hence the formation of Wells & Young’s. Our tenanted and leased pub business became known as Charles Wells Pub Company to differentiate it from the parent company, Charles Wells Ltd, which retained a 60% stake in Wells & Young’s. We had bought the John Bull pub chain in France some years earlier and each of these business divisions has established a strong trading identity in its own operating sector. However that can be confusing for some customers and suppliers, especially those who deal with different parts of the business. In August 2011, as Young’s concentrated their focus and investment on their pub business, we reached agreement to purchase its shares in Wells & Young’s. The final payment was made in February of this year and this was the catalyst to review our operating divisions and bringing them into closer alliance to maximise the benefits of vertical alignment that is so important to a family brewer. As a united Charles Wells we believe we can simplify our processes and make it easier for partners to do business with us and are already working on ways of working more effectively together.” He added: “We enjoy an excellent relationship with the team at Young’s and we look forward to working together for many years to come as custodians of the Young’s beer range and through our supply agreement with them. Young’s beers form a core part of our portfolio and we have exciting plans to nurture and develop them as we have done over the last eight years. In consultation with them, we’ll also continue to innovate and bring new beers to market that extend and complement the existing portfolio of Young’s ales. Development of Young’s London Stout has been an excellent example of working together to brew a beer that satisfies a consumer need and generates significant sales and profits for the customer. This innovative approach to brand development will continue as we pursue a progressive style to brewing great tasting beers and running successful pubs.”

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