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Fri 5th Sep 2014 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

UK hotels have turned the corner to recovery: Hotels in eight out of 12 UK cities in the latest quarterly Hotel Bulletin for Q2 2014 recorded RevPAR (rooms revenue per available room) beyond pre-downturn levels with the remaining four cities almost reaching these levels. The Hotel Bulletin, compiled by HVS, Zolfo Cooper and AM:PM, reports that hotel performance in London and the regions has continued to improve in Q2 2014 with average RevPAR increasing 10% year-on-year. For the third consecutive quarter all the cities reviewed recorded RevPAR growth. London saw a hike of 4% year-on-year with hotels outside the capital seeing an 11% rise. Growth was driven by average room rate improvement in all cities except Newcastle. Belfast recorded the highest year-on-year RevPAR improvement (28%), with Leeds at 16% and Glasgow at 12%. Hotels in Aberdeen, Bath, Edinburgh and London are now trading in excess of 2008 RevPAR levels, with those in Belfast, Birmingham, Liverpool and Newcastle trading at pre-downturn levels. “Reaching this benchmark is a cause for optimism and will give certain hoteliers the confidence to invest time and money in expansion as rate driven growth is likely to result in profitability improvement,” said co-author Tim Smith, director, HVS London. “Consistent and strong growth is encouraging and is also likely to leave investors in a confident mood.” In the first half of this year some £1.9 billion-worth of hotel transactions have been completed, over £411 million of these were in Q2. The quarter saw year-on-year transaction levels rise by over £250 million. Single asset transactions have dominated the deals completed this year, although further portfolio transactions are anticipated over the next six months. The Hotel Bulletin includes a special focus on Edinburgh in the run-up to the Scottish referendum. It says that while observers believe investors may have been put off by the uncertainty surrounding the Scottish economy, there is no noticeable sign of hotel investment slowing down. “If Scotland does become independent the city may indeed benefit from the influx of professionals advising on structural change, which would increase demand for hotel accommodation in the short-to-medium term,” added Smith.

Industry News:

Hundreds arrested in widespread US wages protests: Many hundreds of US fast food workers were arrested yesterday at protests after staging sit-ins demanding a so-called “living wage” of $15 (£9) per hour. The protests, organised by the Service Employees International Union, took place in 150 US cities throughout the day. Workers have been campaigning for two years to increase the current minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. US President Barack Obama has said he supports a raise. In New York, at least 34 protesters were arrested in Times Square outside a McDonald’s restaurant. Arrests were also reported in Detroit, Chicago and Boston. The National Restaurant Association said in a statement that the protests were an attempt by unions to “boost their dwindling membership” and asked protesters to respect customers.

Budget cuts mean some Derby pubs and restaurants will be allowed to self-certify hygiene: Some restaurants, pubs and takeaways in Derby are being allowed to self-certify that they have made improvements after food hygiene checks. The city council blamed cuts to its inspection team and said it was concentrating on medium to high-risk premises. It said it expected to visit just over three in four of the 1,280 food outlets due for a check this year. However, about 280 food outlets will be allowed to assess themselves. The authority said it had taken the action as a result of government cuts. The deputy leader of the city council, Martin Rawson, said: “We are achieving 100% of high and medium-risk establishments, to make sure the risk to the public is absolutely minimised.”
Businesses spending more on bespoke catering events: Businesses are spending more on food as they move towards smaller, more bespoke events and show off their creativity, according to a survey of London catering companies. The Catering Industry Trends Report 2014 by showed that more flamboyant elements, such as street food, food stations and food theatre, are on the rise in the capital. The chef and restaurant entrepreneur Heston Blumenthal said: “We’re now in the best period we’ve ever been in for British gastronomy. Over the last five years I think we’ve grown to have a much bigger sense of pride and confidence in our food. We’re now a nation of foodies.” The survey results reflect this newfound self-assurance. Almost three in five clients (58%) are spending more on catering than they did last year, with a quarter paying between £31 and £50 per head. Corporate events made up 90% of enquires received by the firms surveyed. Blumenthal said: “Putting on an event means taking the same approach that we take in the restaurant. That can be difficult when your business is serving 500 people, but with smaller, more bespoke events on the rise, the opportunity for your firm to deliver a more personal and memorable experience is growing.”
YouGov poll – a third of households suffer a food allergy or intolerance: A third of British households now affected by food allergy or intolerance, according to new research by YouGov. In a survey commissioned by the Food and Drink Innovation Network for its FreeFrom Summit next week, YouGov interviewed 1,600 representative adults across the UK. It found the incidence of food allergy and intolerance has now increased to affect nearly a third of UK households, with 22% of the population believing that they suffer from a food allergy or intolerance. The key finding were that dairy products and gluten are the foods most likely to be suspected; peanuts, along with dairy, remain a major issue for children; almost twice as many women as men claim to suffer from an allergy/intolerance; the reported incidence of food allergy and intolerance is higher in the south of England than around the rest of the UK; the spread across the classes is fairly even. YouGov will be presenting the full results of its work at a two-day FreeFrom summit in London on 10 and 11 September.
4,000 Starbucks staff apply to take company-funded online degree course: More than 4,000 Starbucks employees have applied to Arizona State University (ASU) this autumn after the company offered full tuition reimbursement for any employee taking online courses with the university. The number represents around one in 50 of the company’s 180,000 employees worldwide, and will make up a substantial part of the approximately 13,000 students expected to take classes with ASU Online this year. Starbucks’ chief executive, Howard Schultz, has said that those taking advantage of the programme have no obligation or expectation to pay Starbucks back or to stay on with the company after completing their degrees. The programme is open to any employee working at least 20 hours a week. Starbucks reimburses company students once they complete courses rather than providing up-front payment. The company said the policy encourages degree completion and ensures students have a stake in their success.
Anglian Country Inns pledges support for Tax Equality Day: Anglian Country Inns, the award-winning hospitality establishment based in East Anglia, is to cut the prices of all food and drink by 7.5% on Wednesday 24 September for Tax Equality Day at in its five sites, the White Horse and the Jolly Sailors, both in Brancaster Staithe, the Fox at Willian, Letchworth, Hermitage Road in Hitchin and Water Lane, Bishop’s Stortford. James Nye, Anglian Country Inns’ managing director, said: “We are proud to support the campaign to reduce the level of VAT within the hospitality sector. It will help people understand the tax burden the industry bears and, if the campaign is ultimately successful, it will help narrow the gap between pub prices and supermarket prices. It will be a much-needed boost to the pub and restaurant industry, lowering prices and creating jobs at the same time.” Jacques Borel of VAT Club Jacques Borel said: “We are delighted that Anglian Country Inns has chosen to support Tax Equality Day. With such top-quality operators on board, we can be assured that the day will be a tremendous success.”

Company News:

Wadworth segments managed estate: Wiltshire brewer and retailer Wadworth is reaping the benefits of segmenting its 43-strong managed estate. The company had sub-divided its pubs into five categories to ensure the retail offer is appropriate. The five categories are: Great Pub, Great Food (20 pubs), High Street (five pubs), Beer House (two pubs), Community Local (seven pubs) and Family Pub Dining (nine pubs). The segmentation exercise is aimed at creating a clear offer for customers, improving standards within pubs and creating a better internal understanding of the estate for trade manager and food development managers. Wadworth marketing director Paul Sullivan said: “Essentially, this is an attempt to meet the challenge of a soft brand. The guide for each segment create clarity around the offer at each pub.” The Penny pub site Clifton Bristol in the company’s Beer House segment. Key defining characteristics include staff who are highly knowledgeable about beer, beer-focused communication, six plus cask ale range. The food offer is focused on locally sourced pies produced by Pieminister. A clear definition of the pub’s primary characteristics have seen food sales rise by 121.1% and wet sales rise by 38.1% so far in 2014.

Cambcuisine pub wins Cambridgeshire Dining Pub of the Year for eighth time: Cambridgeshire multi-site operator Cambcuisine, led by Oliver Thain and Richard Bradley, has won Cambridgeshire Dining Pub of the Year 2015 in the latest Good Pub Guide awards for the eight time for its Cock of Hemingford Grey site. The pub won for the eighth time in 11 years for its “imaginative food” and was described as being a “pretty pub with extensive wine list, four interesting beers, a bustling atmosphere and a smart restaurant”. The guide, which comes out tomorrow, said: “This continues to be a first class pub with delicious food and drinks all served by lovely staff. The bar rooms have fresh flowers and church candles, artwork here and there, dark or white-painted beams, lots of contemporary pale yellow and cream paintwork, and throughout a really attractive mix of old wooden dining chairs, settles and tables.”

Geof Collyer – Spirit is moving higher up the pecking order: Deutsche Bank leisure analyst Geof Collyer has issued a note on Spirit shares that notes the company is performing ahead of expectations – he has a price target of 100p for the shares. He said: “In our April note (‚The chips are up‛), we highlighted Spirit as one of the most operationally geared stocks in the sector. It had potential to outperform its peers if this operational gearing came through, but we had reservations regarding the quality of its balance sheet and some key financial metrics. Although we have upgraded our forecasts in this note, we retain our concern over the balance sheet, and so far potential operational gearing in the Retail division is being offset by higher costs. Nonetheless, the group’s overall performance – especially in the Lease estate – is ahead of our expectations, moving Spirit higher up our pecking order of preferred stocks. We set our price target on EV/Ebita valuation, using FY’15E, in line with the rest of the sector. We use a 12.5x multiple to derive our target price. This target multiple is lower than some of the other stocks, reflecting a half way house between the pub groups that are more geared to operating leases in the sector and those that are asset rich.” 

Bistrot Pierre to open Bistrot-sur-la-Mer in Torquay today with bespoke menu: Bistrot Pierre will open a site today in Torquay’s £12m Abbey Sands development, Bistrot-sur-la-Mer, with a bespoke menu. As well as the core Bistrot menu there will also be a bar menu offering freshly cooked tartes flambee, local seafood and an extensive gluten-free menu. It will open within the former Palm Court Hotel site. The chain’s co-founder, Robert Beacham, said: “This will be the first time we have had food unique to the bar. Each of our bistrots is styled to complement the building it is in and, while our look changes between them, customers can expect the same attentive service and high-quality French cookery every day. However, we felt this, our first bistrot literally by the sea, warranted something extra special.” This will be the 12th bistrot to open for the group of privately owned restaurants, and its second in Devon, after a successful opening in Royal William Yard, Plymouth at Easter 2013. Beacham said: “Abbey Sands is a very striking addition to the Torquay seafront. It will be a landmark building for the English Riviera and we are delighted to be part of such a prestigious scheme.” Head chef Scott Harrison-Jones, who is planning to serve two Peche du Jour specials a day, said: “It will be exciting for us, creating dishes dependent on the catch of the day’, and I think our bar menu, offering choices from burger maison to fritots de calamars, will also be in great demand, especially the tartes flambee, which are a classic French flatbread from Alsace, covered with ham and tomato, four cheeses, forest mushrooms or goat’s cheese: they’re like a French pizza.”

Wagamama’s Australian franchisee seeks buyer for sites: Edible Concepts Holdings (ECH), the Australian franchisee of Wagamama, is seeking buyers for its restaurants throughout Australia. It is understood ECH is in talks with a number of potential buyers and other restaurant operators, both within Australia and overseas. Wagamama’s first Australian outlet opened in Darling Harbour, Sydney in 1992 and has grown to eight restaurants in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Perth and Brisbane.
Wetherspoon applies to add bedrooms at new Chester site: JD Wetherspoon is investing £2.3m in acquire the Bull and Stirrup in Upper Northgate Street, Chester, and is applying to add ten bedrooms at the back of the building, further evidence of a more pro-active approach by the company to adding bedrooms. Historically, the company has operated existing bedrooms at sites it takes over, but last month it applied to add bedroom accommodation at its site in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire. Contracts have been exchanged unconditionally on the Chester site with completion set for today, 5 September. The company has applied for a single-storey rear extension and internal alterations to provide ten refurbished hotel bedrooms with en-suite facilities and new WC facilities to upper floors. Spokesman Eddie Gershon said: “I would imagine as and when this pub opens it will have very similar if not the same prices as other Wetherspoon pubs in Chester. I think our first pub in Chester must have opened about 20 years ago and it’s always been a very good area for the company. We are always looking at opportunities and I suspect this opportunity simply came up. We have not got any accommodation in Chester at the moment but it is an incredibly popular city from our point of view and we believe people will be attracted to a good-value hotel attached to a good pub.”
Spirit to provide more detail on 400-pub acquisition plan: Spirit Pub Company will provide more detail next month on its plan to add 400 pubs to its managed estate. A total of 11 pubs was added in the fourth quarter, bringing the total for the 52 weeks to 13, including ten Orchid group pubs. Spirit added a further nine Orchid pubs after the end of its fourth quarter. Spirit announced an intention 12 months ago to add 400 pubs to the portfolio, without setting out a timetable. Mike Tye, the company’s chief executive, said he would give more guidance on how this was to be achieved in the annual results announcement on 22 October. “We are very confident that the 400 is attainable,” he said. “Our cash position is good and our leverage is dropping exactly as we told the market it would.”

Mitchells & Butlers advertises for Miller & Carter and All Bar One sites in Propel Quarterly magazine: Mitchells & Butler has advertised for “exceptional leasehold and freehold units in suitable town and city centres” for new Miller & Carter and All Bar One sites. The company is looking for sites of a minimum of 3,000 sq ft for All Bar One with “easy access from office, travel hubs and/or retail areas” and sites of a minimum of 4,000 sq ft “with stand-out visibility and high footfall, locations supporting special occasion dining” for Miller & Carter. Both types of site have a requirement for external seating capacity. The company says it will pay “generous fees to non-retained agents”. See page 25 of the current edition of Propel Quarterly for the advert

Luke Johnson – finding sites is a favourite occupation: Sector investor Luke Johnson has described finding sites for his restaurant and bar businesses as one of his favourite things. Writing in his Financial Times column, Johnson said: “Finding the right sites for one of our retail operations is a favourite occupation. I suppose it must be the thrill of the chase. But despite having been involved in launching over 500 restaurants, cafes and shops over the past couple of decades, sadly I still don’t possess a magic formula, which guarantees success. In this game, the priority is to secure the correct property: as Ray Kroc, who developed McDonald’s, said, ‘I’m not in the restaurant business. I’m in the real estate business.’ There is nothing more exciting than coming across a new neighbourhood, and alighting upon the perfect building for a branch of Patisserie Valerie, Gail’s, Philpotts, Rocket, Draft House, Feng Sushi or a Grand Union bar. The search involves persistence and patience. Some streets are clearly appropriate yet a suitable retail unit isn’t available. I love opening stores in emerging neighbourhoods, where rents are still affordable but the major brands are absent.”

Stonegate invests £235,000 in Litten Tree re-brand in Brentwood: Stonegate Pub Company has continued its investment programme with a £235,00 re-branded of a Litten Tree site in Brentwood, Essex as The Merchant. General manager Paul Marshall said: “We decided on The Merchant as the new name, as, having researched the site and the area, we found that Brentwood used to be a stopping-off point for those pilgrims travelling from Colchester to Canterbury, so it used to attract lots of merchants selling their wares. Inside will have a different feel to the pub with a mix of dining furniture and more relaxed, comfortable armchairs. We are introducing Sky HD and will continue to show big sporting events via our large screen as well as host live bands and DJ-led party nights on Friday and Saturdays. But perhaps 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 and delicious cocktails. We will also be introducing, for the first time, cask ale, and will serve a choice of five beers from national as well as local breweries such as Brentwood Brewery. To celebrate the pub’s launch, Brentwood Brewery is even creating a new ale called ‘The Merchant’ for us.”

Westminster approves Leicester Square nightclub-to-hotel plan: Westminster Council has approved the developer Criterion Capital’s plans to convert a building housing a Leicester Square nightclub into a hotel, according to a report in The Estates Gazette. The upper seven floors of the eight-storey 1930s building at 1-4 Leicester Square are currently in use as the 3,400 square metre Rise nightclub. Under the proposals, the roof of the building would be extended and the nightclub and offices on the first floor of the building would be replaced by a 142-bedroom hotel. All of the hotel rooms are proposed to be double rooms under the scheme, providing a total of 284 bed spaces.

Fleurets offers high profile Leeds Corn Exchange site: Leeds Corn Exchange is now ready to host a flagship bar or restaurant on its impressive Piazza level – more than a year after a high-profile restaurant group went bust. The large ‘Piazza’ level has hosted occasional events but has otherwise been empty since The Piazza by Anthony brasserie suddenly closed in June 2013. Now agent Fleurets is looking for a new bar or restaurant to take its place. Simon Hall, head of pubs at Fleurets, said: “Leeds Corn Exchange is one of Britain’s finest buildings. It holds a tremendous significance, both as an architectural masterpiece and a cultural icon. Its rare features and city centre position make The Piazza a unique venue ideal for a flagship restaurant venue and leisure experience. The Piazza level, with its 13,210 sq ft, can be made available for just one operator or can be subdivided into up to three areas with central seating area.” Chef Anthony Flinn introduced a 118-cover brassiere-style restaurant, cocktail bar, private dining rooms, cafe and specialist food outlets including a bakery, patisserie chocolate shop, cheese shop and donut shop.

Tokyo Industries site in Hull re-open after manager take lease: A Tokyo Industries nightclub site in Hull, the Tower, has re-opened as Funktion. Adam Smith, general manager at the club, said: “We are here to stay. We have leased the building from the owners and are trying to come up with something that will appeal to everyone. Basically, we have listened to what people want. Drinks prices will be cheaper and the entry fee will be cheaper.” The venue was once a luxury cinema, with a live orchestra playing soundtracks to silent movies. Tokyo took over the venue in August 2012, and there was a £1.2m investment.
MP to raise plan to site McDonald’s next to school in the House of Commons: Controversial plans to build a new McDonald’s restaurant near Newcastle upon Tyne’s biggest school are to be raised in the House of Commons. The MP for Newcastle Central, Chi Onwurah, a former pupil at Kenton School, says she is “outraged” at the prospect of a McDonald’s being sited next door. The two-storey drive-through outlet is planned for Kenton Lane, on the site of the old Crofters Lodge pub. Despite 221 objections put to Newcastle City Council, and two online e-petitions signed by nearly 600 people against the scheme, officers have recommended that planning committee members grant the application at a meeting due today. The MP told the local newspaper: “I’ll be raising it in the Commons on Monday at Department for the Communities and Local Government questions. If it gets approval, I’ll be asking the Secretary of State, Eric Pickles, why councils can’t take proper account of strength of local feeling. If planning permission is refused, and I certainly hope it is, McDonald’s may think of appealing. If it is allowed, then the planning process will have failed. In either case, I want to know where this puts the government’s so-called localism agenda.”
Edinburgh hotel sells off £1.25m asking price: Ailsa Craig Hotel, a 17-bedroom Georgian town house hotel in Edinburgh, has been bought by the hotel group RT Hotels through the property agent Christie + Co off an asking price of £1.25m. RT Hotels is planning a complete refurbishment of the property, enhancing the Georgian features with a modern take and a “contemporary” room mix. The hotel was previously owned by Rupy and Sonia Varma, who live in Wentworth, Surrey. The Varmas decided to sell Ailsa Craig in order to re-invest in their property portfolio in London and the South East of England. Ken Sims, director of Christie + Co in Edinburgh, said: “The Ailsa Craig Hotel represents an excellent acquisition for RT Hotels, given the strength of the business and its ideal location close to many of Edinburgh’s key attractions.”

Leisure park plan turned down by Flintshire Council: Permission for a leisure park in Broughton has been refused by Flintshire Council more than nine months after developers submitted an application. Development Securities submitted a planning application in September last year to build on land between Broughton Retail Park and Chester Road. The plans were for a pub restaurant, fast food outlets and a hotel. A medical centre and council contact centre were also key elements of the revised scheme which would have been on a strip of council-owned land in the middle of the site.

Primary Capital opens Manchester office: A private equity group that has backed YO! Sushi, and Coffee Nation is to open its first office outside London, in central Manchester, with a well-known dealmaker appointed to head the new site. Primary Capital has appointed Iain Wolstenholme as a partner to lead its Manchester operation, which is to be based on Clarence Street. Wolstenholme has operated in the Manchester market for more than 20 years, most recently as a partner with Gresham Private Equity.
Developer seek £1m through Crowdcube for Scottish luxury hotel: The Developer Corryard Holdings is seeking to raise £1m through the crowd-funding website Crowdcube in return for a 20% stake in a project to develop a five-star in Crieff, near Perth in central Scotland. The pitch states: “We are aiming to raise £1m in return for 20% equity stake in the Monzie Hotel, a subsidiary of Corryard Holdings. We will use the funds towards the renovation of an A-listed church in Crieff, Perthshire, Scotland into a five-star ‘Exclusive Use Hotel’ (as defined by VisitScotland Tourist Board). The Monzie Hotel is the owner of the church. Corryard is an award-winning specialist building company, focusing on renovating listed buildings. Corryard won the UK Award for the Best Large Renovation in the UK in 2010 from the Federation of Master Builders. In 2013, Corryard won the Scottish Homes Award and Herald Property Awards for Renovation of the Year. Crieff is a well-established tourist destination and thriving market town, known as the gateway to the Highlands and home of the Famous Grouse whisky distillery. The Monzie will have 12 bedrooms, with large open areas within the body of the former church. There will be banqueting space for 100 guests (for wedding and conferences) in the mission halls to the rear, with a Moroccan hammam spa under the main church building.”
Nando’s opens in Tamworth: Nando’s has opened a new site at the Ventura Retail Park in Tamworth, Staffordshire with seating for 98 people, with 32 of those seats outside. The opening has created 45 jobs for the local area. A spokesman said: “Nando’s Tamworth is set to provide shoppers, cinema-goers, visitors and local residents with a menu packed with variety and the delicious flavours of peri-peri chicken, which the restaurant group is renowned for.” The new restaurant joins PizzaExpress and Costa Coffee on the same site.
Vinyl record and cafe concept to open in Cambridge: A retro cafe selling vinyl records, Relevant Record Cafe, is to open in Mill Road, Cambridge at the end of October or early November. It will be the first independent record store to open in the city since Head, which was part of a small national chain in the Lion Yard, closed its doors in February last year and will be joining HMV and Fopp as the only other shops to sell records. Founder Andy Powell said: “There’s definitely been a rise in vinyl collections. It will be somewhere people can come and talk to like-minded people. We don’t want people to rush in and out, we want people to stay a while. We want the cafe to get people to stay there a bit longer.”

Wall Street Journal reports bikini barista shops boom in the US north-west: The Wall Street Journal has reported an explosion in the number of “bikini barista” shops in the north-western United States. Carmelo Panico owns several cafes in the Seattle area, including Java Juggs Espresso, Bella Butterscotch, and the Hot Spot. The shops feature scantily clad women working espresso machines. Employees’ dress codes include bikinis, lingerie, and various themed costumes. The first bikini barista shop opened in the Washington state area more than a decade ago. There are now more than 130 adult-themed coffee shops operating in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. One of Panico’s baristas told investigators she made more than $500,000 working one of the coffee stands. The bikini barista business is just as lucrative for the owners, according to Sarah Birnel, who owns three outlets in Washington called Devil’s Brew Coffee Stand. In an interview with ABC News, she claimed that her shops make twice as much money as traditional coffee outlets. Her baristas are told to wear “whatever’s legal” but “any kind of provocative behaviour is not OK,” she said.

Spirit launches new kitchen apprenticeship programme: Spirit Pub Company has launched a new apprenticeship aimed at developing those looking for a career in the kitchen. The ApprentiChef programme is available for young and aspiring people that are looking to expand and develop their skillset and begin a career within hospitality, with the intention of progressing through to kitchen manager. The 30-month programme will see candidates take on a number of training exercises from leadership development through to project management. The tasks will enhance the learner’s technical abilities and provide them with the experience and knowledge required to move up the career pathway. Lynne Kennedy, head of food quality training at Spirit, said: “This is a great opportunity to grow our own kitchen managers of the future. With the school leaving age increasing and more people looking at apprenticeships as an alternative to university, we believe the ApprentiChef programme offers an exciting career path for young people who are looking to get into the hospitality industry. The programme culminates in qualifications that are the equivalent to ten good-grade GCSEs and offers the prospect of moving into a management position in one of our pubs.” The ApprentiChef programme joins Spirit’s suite of five apprenticeship programmes, with more than 1,000 candidates in learning, a number the brand is looking to almost double over the year.
Pub is the Hub beacon pub in Devon is sold: A beacon Pub is the Hub pub, the Pint & Post, a thatched pub in the picturesque village of St Giles on the Heath, Devon has been sold to a couple from Lincoln for an undisclosed fee. In 2001, Edward and Nadine Titcomb bought a shop and post office in St Giles on the Heath, near Launceston, and converted the two front rooms of their thatched cottage into a bar and dining room. The move was part of Prince Charles’ Hub of the Community campaign and villagers named the pub Pint and Post. In the same year the Titcombs were celebrated in the Countryside Agency’s report The Pub Is the Hub as one of 13 beacon pubs. The recognition earned them a dinner date with the Prince of Wales at Highgrove. In 2003 the couple sold the 18th century property so they could move to France, but by 2011 they re-acquired the business after the pub had fallen on hard times. They improved the property, converting the former post office and shop into a further dining area and adding an extension to the first floor, doubling the size of the living accommodation. Ill-health forced the Titcombs to put the pub on the market and a buyer was found within two months,.

Waxy O’Connor operator Glendola reports turnover increase: Glendola Leisure, the operator of Rainforest cafe and Waxy O’Connor’s led by Alex Salussolia, has reported turnover increased by 11.9% to £31.93m in the year to 29 March 2014 from £28.53m the year before. Pre-tax profit dipped to £2.19m from £2.46m the previous year. Operating profit was £2.29m, 15.8% lower compared to the £2.72m operating profit in 2013. An interim dividend of £450,000 was paid. Administrative expenses rose to £16.03m from £14.25m in 2013. The company said: “The group has had a reasonably successful period in challenging economic circumstances. During the period, the group acquired a lease in London, The Door and a lease in Glasgow central station. It also disposed of the lease of the Terraces Bar and Grill in Brighton. The Door and the sites in Glasgow central station will receive further investment in the early part of the next financial year and the directors are confident that the funds invested will reap higher returns. The group made a profit before tax on its continuing operations and is well-positioned for future opportunities.”
Trust Inns reports profit increase: The north west of England-based tenanted pub operator Trust Inns, owed by Trevor Hemmings and led by Lynne D’Arcy, has reported that profit before interest rose to £11.97m in the year to 31 March 2014, from £11.33m the year before. Turnover fell to £49.37m from £52.45m in 2013. Pre-tax profit was £3m, up from £2.26m in 2013. The company said: “Underlying trading performance during the year was satisfactory whilst marketing conditions have continued to be challenging.”
Miller Brands UK turnover nears £250m: Miller Brands UK, the owner of the Peroni and Pilsner Urquell in Britain, has reported turnover rose 3% to £247.55m in the year to 31 March 2014, up from £239.43m the year before. Profit before tax was £23.83m, up from £19.71m in 2013. The company reported volume growth of 1%, against a beer market down 1%. It said: “Turnover increased 3%, reflecting an improved brand mix in the portfolio, while cost of sales have remained consistent as a result of improved SKU mix.”
Selfridge’s to open on-site Everyman cinema today: Selfridge’s in central London is claiming a world first by opening an on-site Everyman cinema today. The Oxford Street store will show Breakfast At Tiffany’s as its debut screening. The 60-seater Everyman picture house has been put up in the store’s lower ground floor and will show a mix of new releases, independent titles and classics. Selfridge’s director of food and leisure, Hannah Bass, said: “Of course, shopping malls have been doing this for decades, but this is the first time that a department store is offering this ‘retail theatre’ experience to its customers. Not just a pop-up, this will live within the London store’s lower-ground floor at least until late spring 2015.” The cinema is next to the home decorative department and an adjoining bar will sell drinks to take inside including a Selfridge’s rose champagne at £14.75 a glass or £65 a bottle.

Wildwood operator reports 24% rise in PBT: Wildwood operator Tasty has reported sales rose 26% to £13.79m in the 26 weeks ended 29 June, compared to the £10.98m recorded in the same period in 2013. Operating profit, before pre-opening costs, was up 16% to £1.21m Pre-tax profit climbed 24% to £973,000. Four new sites opened in the period and three sites opened since the period end. During the period, capital expenditure of £1.96m, down from £2.51m in 2013, was incurred. The company is currently undertaking construction on two sites, which are expected to open in Q4 of 2014. Overall, the net cash outflow for the period was £474,000, up from £55,000 in 2013. As at 29 June, the company had a net cash balance of £1.93m, against net borrowings of £944,000 at the same time last year. The group has an available banking facility of £4m. The new sites will bring the total number of restaurants operated by the company to 37, which will consist of six Dim T, 29 Wildwood and Wildwood Kitchen outlets and two others.

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