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Fri 12th Sep 2014 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Coffer Peach reports sector like-for-likes up 1.3% in August: Britain’s restaurant and managed pub groups recorded another month of steady growth in August, with collective like-for-like sales up 1.3% on the same time last year, latest data from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker shows. Chillier than average weather had an impact, but the sector still delivered a 17th consecutive month of positive growth. Scott Elliott, director of CGA Peach, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker, in partnership with Coffer Group, Baker Tilly and UBS, said: “Restaurants fared much better than pubs, and that was largely down to the colder than average temperatures for the month. Casual dining chains saw like-for-like sales up 4.7%, with trading in restaurants outside London particularly strong. In contrast, managed pubs actually saw like-for-likes fall 0.2% against August 2013, with those outside the M25 down 0.7%. However, it has to be remembered that August last year was the hottest in ten years, and hot sunny weather always tends to benefit the pub sector. The good news is that these latest figures, from 28 leading chains, show that the public continues to go out and spend on eating and drinking out, even with the unpredictability of the British weather. They just adapt their choice of venue.” Regionally, London outperformed the rest of the country, with like-for-likes up 2.6%, against 0.9% for venues outside the M25. Pubs in London recorded positive growth. Elliott said: “The continued investment in new openings, particularly from restaurant groups, saw total sales growth in the sector outstrip average like-for likes by some margin. Overall, they were 4.3% up on last August, with casual dining chains 10.6% ahead.” Looking at the long-term trend, year-on-year like-for-like sales for the sector were running 2.4% up for the 12 months to the end of August, with total sales 5.1% higher. David Coffer, chairman of Coffer Group, said: “Although London continues to be an ever more sophisticated and popular location for restaurants and pubs, there is now a definite growth in regions outside the M25. This correlates to increasing prices and rentals in those areas, with the effects of recession outside London now fast diminishing in property and trading terms. Demand for restaurant and licensed premises is at the highest level I have seen in my almost 50 years in the market.”

Industry News:

Harry Ramsden’s boss to present at the next Propel Multi Club Conference: The boss of the iconic fish and chip shop brand Harry Ramden’s, Joe Teixeira, is to present at the next Propel Multi Club Conference on Thursday 20 November at the Lancaster Hotel in London. Teixeira will talk about how the company has been turned around, and the opportunities for the future. Operators can book up to two free places by e-mailing

UK restaurant customer satisfaction levels drop: UK customers’ satisfaction with restaurants has declined this year according to new research from the National Customer Satisfaction Index. The NCSI-UK shows that nearly every large restaurant chain shows deteriorating customer satisfaction, and for the first time, customers are more satisfied with quick-service restaurants than full-service restaurants. According to a news release, customer satisfaction with limited-service restaurants is down 1.3% to an NCSI score of 77, while full-service restaurants fell 2.6% to 76 on a 0 to 100 scale. However, both still feature in the top eight of 18 different sector surveyed by the company – e-commerce businesses top the survey with a 83% satisfaction score and energy and utility companies come bottom with a score of 68. Price has always been an advantage for quick-service food, but improved quality and variety have helped push satisfaction to a higher level than that of sit-down restaurants, NCSI-UK reports. For large restaurant chains, a continued reliance on vouchers has come at the expense of “genuine” customer loyalty. “Customer loyalty can be bought or it can be earned,” ACSI founder Claes Fornell said in the release. “The latter is usually better for the company in the long run. But rather than focusing on quality and service, many of the major chains are competing on price – which is difficult to do when the competition is fast food. And if quick-service restaurants are providing greater diner satisfaction, there is little left for full-service restaurants to compete on.” Sandwich shops dominate the category, with Greggs and Subway tied for the lead at 79. Costa Coffee and Starbucks were evenly matched at 76 a year ago, but now move in opposite directions; Costa improved 1% to 77, while Starbucks fell 3% to 74.

McDonald’s eyes McBrunch: McDonald’s may be planning a new meal segment – McBrunch. Company spokeswoman Lisa McComb confirmed that McDonald’s has filed a federal trademark registration for the term “McBrunch”. The filing, which took place in July, was first reported by the fast-food industry blog BurgerBusiness. Asked if a new McBrunch programme was being seriously considered, McComb said: “That sort of speculation is highly premature. We routinely file intent to use trademark applications as a regular course of business. We can’t share details at this time as to how the trademarks may or may not be used.” McDonald’s previously applied for the McBrunch trademark back in 2001, but abandoned the application, said Scott Hume, editor of BurgerBusiness. Meanwhile, the company has expanded an ordering-by-tablet trial across the San Diego area of California.

New ALMR chief executive sends message to members: The new chief executive of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers, Kate Nicholls, has sent a message to members after news of her appointment to the job in the wake of the departure of David McHattie. She told the membership: “I would like to pay tribute to both my predecessors – it has been a pleasure to work with them and I have inherited an association which has grown in both membership and stature to be an effective voice for licensed hospitality. We are hugely grateful for David’s contribution to the association, particularly in expanding our membership to include casual dining chains, and we are delighted that he will continue to support the association as an operator member of the council. I am sure you will join me in wishing him well in this new phase of his business. I already know many of you through our work on various campaigns and lobbying initiatives, but I will be seeking to meet with you all in the coming weeks to understand your priorities and concerns. I look forward to continuing to work with you all as a council to drive that forward and deliver your strategic objectives.”

Company News:

Sector veteran plans to recreate spirit of John Young at West Berkshire AGM: Sector veteran David Bruce plans to make West Berkshire Brewery’s first AGM on 4 October reminiscent of the Young’s Brewery AGMs of old, when they were presided over by the great John Young, and where eager ale drinkers showed up in their masses (albeit many having purchased the minimum of one share for just the purpose). With bottled beer sales at the West Berkshire Brewery up 59% on last year and overall sales increasing by 24% on 2013, the brewery said its recent major rebranding programme takes it one step nearer in its ambition to make Good Old Boy a national brand that will compete on bar and shelf space with Doom Bar. Bruce, chairman of West Berkshire, famous for his fun approach to business and, like the late John Young, known to dress up in outrageous costumes for public appearances, said: “We have an amazing executive team with a vision for the future. Our like-for-likes are unlike any other little brewer. We’ve worked very hard with the brand and we have the heritage and professional team.” Bruce said he was committed to staying within the progressive beer duty threshold, though plans are afoot to move to a bigger site courtesy of a €5m enterprise investment scheme, where the company will create a visitor centre and double the brewing capacity, currently standing at 210 barrels a week, with 100 barrels a week being produced on the present site. Conversations with multiple pub operators and supermarkets, including Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Booths, are well under way, the company said.

Peach Pub Company reports strong summer trading as it prepares to open 17th pub: Peach Pub Company has reported string summer trading as it prepares to open its 17th pub in two weeks’ time, The High Field in Edgbaston. Hamish Stoddart, who founded the business Lee Cash, said: “July was a fantastic month for the business with a really cracking performance across the board. The sun shone, people flocked to our pubs and the numbers were brilliant, 5% up that month in like-for-likes. August was tougher; good trading at the start but suddenly the market towns packed their bags and went on holiday and the weather wasn’t as good as everyone expected. Everything, including the numbers, was a bit flat. September, though, has already started on a high note, with a real buzz in the pubs, and not only will we hit plan but we’ll probably be about 2% above it by the end of the month. We’re feeling energised by the arrival on Monday of our new finance director Joe Garthwaite, who brings big retail experience from both Sainsbury’s and Bravissimo, and we’re recruiting for the next stage of Peach as a growing individual pub group by looking for a senior operations director. If you want to take over from Spencer Graydon who moves to Whitbread soon, get your name in right now.” Yesterday, Peach reported that earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) dipped to £1.28m in the year to 29 December 2013 from £1.54m in 2012. Turnover rose 6% to £20.5m from £19.3m and pre-tax profit before exceptional costs was £423,000 (2012: £375,000) Group normal operations ebitda was £2.09m, against £1.54m in 2012. Sales growth was primarily a result of reporting full-year operations for one more pub, plus one pub that was newly opened, less the closure of the Almanack in Leicester.

Good Life Group opens eighth Diner site: The Good Life Group, operator of The Diner brand in Central London, has opened its eighth site on The Kingsland Road, Dalston Junction. The site was opened to budget after a three-month refurbishment program. The site is approximately 1.5 miles further north from the first Diner, which opened in Shoreditch in 2006. As well as the tried and tested mix of burgers, breakfasts and American diner classics, the Diner offers an extensive range of craft beers and ‘hard teas’. A spokesman said: “The first week of trading has been amazing, with great feedback from the local community. The group is involved in a number of discussions about its next site, with several locations under consideration.”

Spirit’s Flaming Grill chain offers gingers one-day 30% discount: Spirit Pub Company’s Flaming Grill brand is offering redheads a 30% discount next Monday (15 September) to mark Prince Harry’s 30th birthday. Those who are not lucky enough to be ginger need only wear a red wig to take advantage of what the chain called a “hair-larious” offer. Gingers are invited to turn up to one of the 100-plus Flaming Grills on Monday and ask for the “Prince Harry flaming redhead rate”. Michelle Fisher, brand manager for Flaming Grill, said: “From everyone at Flaming Grill we’d like to wish our Prince a Flaming Grilliant birthday, and we hope to see lots of redheads celebrating his 30th with us on Monday.”

Chapel Down fully funded in three and a half days: The Kentish wine maker Chapel Down hit 100% of the £1.67m it is looking to raise in return for 6.48% of its equity through the crowd-funding website Seedr by late morning yesterday, three and a half days after launching. For investors who invest more than £560 there are a range of benefits on offer, including a 33% discount on the standard price list of Chapel Down wines, 25% off its beers and a 25% discount of food purchases at Chapel Down’s restaurant, the Swan at Chapel Down, in Tenterden, Kent.

Rookway Food Systems expands into food-to-go market: Rookway Food Systems, which operates more than 100 units in the UK under the Stone Willy’s pizza brand, has expanded into the day-time food-to-go market with the opening of Stone Willy’s Kitchen in Longbridge town centre in the West Midlands. The venue serves sandwiches, wraps and coffees during the day and pizzas for collection and delivery in the evenings and weekends. The cafe’s interior design has been created by the company responsible for the Wagamama and PizzaExpress chains. Kitchen manager Gynn Mahal said: “We are really excited about opening our new deli and have had great feedback so far. Our aim is to bring a new variety of affordable food to Longbridge town centre with the focus being on using fresh ingredients of the highest quality. We have spent a lot of time doing our research to make sure we get our offering just right for the local community.”

Yummy Pub Company reports ‘flying start’ at fifth pub: Yummy Pub Company has reported a flying start at its fifth pub, The Victoria on Grove road Mile End, its third Charles Wells site. Co-founder Tim Foster said: “It’s our fastest start yet - it took our Gorringe site six weeks to hit the turnover that the Victoria has hit in week two. This will be our first trading week without the contractors on site (and are) looking to beat last week by a comfortable margin.” The first floor of The Victoria houses Sssh Supper Club, a trio of themed rooms including ‘The Kitchen Room’ where customers can view chefs creating the meals of the day, the Board Room, which hides a secret stash of aged and oaked scotch and no drinks list exists at Magri’s Cocktail Bar, tucked away behind a mirrored wall. Charlie’s Cocktail Caravan, complete with a picket fence, can be found in the garden, honouring the local flyweight champion Charlie Magri. Foster added: “Seven pubs have disappeared from around this area and we were determined that the Victoria would not succumb to the same fate. We will be working with local suppliers, local producers and local people to ensure The Victoria remains a central part of the local community in every way.”

Andrew Page joins natural resources consultancy RPS Group as non-executive director: Andrew Page, former chief executive of the Restaurant Group, is joining the natural resources consultancy RPS Group as a non-executive director. Page led the Restaurant Group from 2006 until last month, having previously been group managing director and finance director of the business. Before joining the Restaurant Group, he held a number of senior positions in the leisure and hospitality industry including senior vice-president at InterContinental Hotels Group. He is currently a non-executive director of Carpetright and was previously the senior independent director and chairman of the audit committee at Arena Leisure. On his appointment on 15 September, Page will join RPS Group’s audit and remuneration committees. John Bennett, the current audit committee chairman, will be retiring and stepping down from the RPS Group board at the AGM in May 2015. At that time, it is envisaged that Page will take over as chairman of the audit committee. RPS Group’s chairman, Brook Land, said: “I am delighted to welcome Andrew to RPS. He brings with him an impressive track record and wide corporate experience which complements the skill set of our existing directors.”

Giant Japanese restaurant complex to open in former Chicago Rock Cafe site in Manchester: Rockstar Leisure, the company run by the family behind the four-outlet Red Chilli chain of Chinese restaurants, is to open Sakana, a new 450-capacity, two-floor, two-restaurant, two-bar venture, in October on Peter Street, Manchester, in the former Chicago Rock Cafe building. Rockstar Leisure is run by the Yip family, headed by Stewart Yip, who operates Red Chilli, Ocean Treasure, K2 Karaoke and Chi Yip supermarkets and his three sons, Simon, Ricky and Andy Yip. The project should create around 50 new jobs for the city. There will a be 250 restaurant covers and 200 bar covers spread across the two floors, with an open-fronted drinking terrace, lengthy bar and open kitchen restaurant with two teppanyaki sections and a sushi counter surrounding an open-flame, island robata grill downstairs. Upstairs there will be another bar and a pan-Asian fine-dining restaurant. Sakana’s business development manager, Dan Robinson, said: “The average spend per person in the downstairs restaurant will be about £20, upstairs about £40. Wines will go from £20 a bottle to £2,500. Sakana is open to everyone, we’ve certainly got enough room. There’ll be teppanyaki, robata, sushi, sashimi, tempura, everything Japanese you can think of downstairs. Then upstairs we’ll have the pan-Asian fine-dine menu alongside the molecular stuff.”

Yum! Brands to trial Vietnamese concept: Yum! Brands, owner of the KFC and Pizza Hut chains, is to trial another format in the fast casual segment with a concept called Banh Shop, in Dallas. The restaurant joins the company’s Super Chix concept, also in Dallas, the US Taco Co. and Urban Taproom, in Southern California, and its KFC Eleven spinoff in its hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, as fast casual tests. According to Eater Dallas, Banh Shop features Vietnamese sandwiches and Southeast Asian-style salads. Dallas chefs Braden and Yasmin Wages of Malai helped create the menu. Banh Shop’s first location opens today and a second location is planned for Dallas Airport.

Lovely Pubs readies eighth pub for November opening: Lovely Pubs, led by Paul Salisbury and Paul Hales, who oversaw the roll-out of Mitchells and Butlers’ 80-strong Premium Country Dining Group of country gastro-pub, will open its eighth pub on 20 November. The company has bought the Moat House Inn, Kings Coughton, Alcester, Worcestershire, a former Spirit leased pub with 4.5 acres of land, off an asking price of £300,000. The pub has 160 covers and Lovely Pubs is investing around £700,000. It will have a wood-fired oven installed with the aim of serving a range of gratin dishes. The new pub will have a strong cider focus, being in the middle of an apple-growing area, and rooms based around a shooting theme, with names such as Holland & Holland and Purdey. The new site comes 15 months after the company opened The Queen’s Head in Bromsgrove, a former Enterprise Inns site, after an £800,000 investment.

Marco Pierre White lines up first Greater Manchester opening in hotel: Chef Marco Pierre White is to open his first Greater Manchester restaurant at MediaCityUK at Salford Quays. White will be bringing his New York Italian restaurant to the Holiday Inn hotel in the media hub on the Quays. The hotel’s existing restaurant is being given a £200,000 refurbishment to become a black and white-styled interior, while the food will be White’s American-Italian inspired menu of fresh pastas, steaks, seafood, burgers and handmade pizzas. It is set to open to the public in October. News of the restaurant’s opening comes after a deal between Black and White Franchising and Peel’s hotel division, Tower Hotel Management, which will run the new restaurant under a franchise agreement. Black and White Franchising has partnered with Marco Pierre White to roll out his restaurant brands Steakhouse Bar and Grill and New York Italian across the UK.

Giggling Squid acquires first West Country site as it breaks sales records: Giggling Squid, the fast-growing Thai tapas concept, has opened its 11th site in Sevenoaks, smashing its sales forecast by 40%, and also acquired a prime site in the upmarket Clifton Village area of Bristol. Giggling Squid’s owner, Andrew Laurillard, said: “I’ve wanted to open in Bristol for quite a while. It’s a great city with possibly the most exciting restaurant scene in the country right now. I can’t wait to become part of it.” Giggling Squid will invest around £100,000 refurbishing the site in Princess Victoria Street, which is currently occupied by an 88-seater Strada restaurant, and expects to open after Christmas, creating around 20 new jobs. The latest opening is part of an expansion plan that has seen sales growth of 93% this year, up from 65% last year and 63% the year before. Profits increased 123% in the past year. The company now employs 297 staff, more than double the number of employees last year. The latest ebitda figure is £1.4m A change of bankers, from HSBC to Barclays, has created a £2m credit facility, which combined with investment from profits, will fund further expansion for the next seven openings. The group expects sales to double this year and again next, as five of its existing sites broke trading records in August, normally a month when rival establishments experience falling sales as regular customers are away on holiday, Laurillard said. Two of the company’s existing ten restaurants opened since August last year, while the Hove branch is currently closed for repairs after flooding. Laurillard said: “It’s possible to double turnover without doubling the number of outlets – and because most restaurant costs are fixed, a 15% rise in turnover, will often double actual net profit.” In week one this year [5 April 2014] sales were £112,000. The conservative forecast for next year is £239,000 and £412,000 for 2016, allowing for the addition of a projection of just five new sites next year, mostly toward the end of the year, with a limited contribution to group sales figures, and a modest target of four the year after, Laurillard said. The move to Barclays will save Giggling Squid around 3% or £24,000 a year in interest payments. It will also remove personal guarantees demanded by HSBC. Laurillard said: “We pitched our business out and Barclays came back with a compelling proposal combining competitive pricing, sensible covenants and favourable repayment terms. Also, great chemistry with the team lead by Jenni Himberg-Wild who did an excellent job of persuading us that Barclays were the right partner to take us to the next level,” he said.

Contractors close to completing Newquay’s new restaurant hub: Builders are about to complete the building stage of the new restaurant hub in Newquay, Cornwall, the Ark. The £1.4m building has replaced the former bus depot on East Street, and will accommodate three restaurants, including Frankie & Benny’s and Prezzo, with the third still to be let. The two restaurants are due to open by the end of the year.

Two chef lecturers to re-open well-known Colchester restaurant: Two chef lecturers are to re-open one of Colchester’s best-known restaurants after it has been closed for more than a year. Darren Lisney and Mark Burley have bought the 18-year lease on the historic Old Siege House building in East Hill and will pump around £250,000 into its refurbishment. The pair teach catering students at Colchester Institute and hope they can recruit some of their scholars. Around 15 jobs will be created initially. The restaurant, renamed The Old Siege House Bar and Brasserie, is due to open next month.

Douglas Jack – we’re making a 3% Prezzo upgrade: Numis Securities’ leisure analyst Douglas Jack has made a 3% upgrade to his forecast for Prezzo after yesterday’s half year results. He has a 155p price target and an ‘Add’ recommendation. Jack said: “H1 PBT rose 16% to £9.8m (we forecast £9.5m; no consensus), driven by 13% growth in store space and an estimated 3% increase in average sales, slightly offset by 4bps Ebit margin decline. We are upgrading our forecasts by 3% reflecting H1’s outperformance and easier comps in H2. Average sales rose 2.9% in H1 2014 (vs. a 3.6% comp), by our estimates. We now forecast average sales growing by 2% over the full year, which should be achievable, in our view, with average sales comps easing to an estimated 0.8% in H2. Ebit margins fell 4bps in H1 2014, despite total sales growing 15.9%. Offsetting higher average sales, which include two c.2% price increases pa, margins were undermined by higher IT and infrastructure costs. We forecast margins falling 5bps over the full year: whereas proportional food costs were slightly higher and labour costs were slightly lower in H1, the reverse is expected in H2. Nine restaurants opened in H1, with 25 expected to open over the full year, supported by a strong site pipeline and a debt-free balance sheet (£6.5m net cash). We are upgrading our forecasts. For the full year, our PBT forecast rises to £23.0m from £22.4m (consensus: £22.8m). Also, over the next year, the company is planning to reduce voucher activity and emphasise loyalty, which should support gross margins. Prezzo’s rating has eased slightly to 9.7x EV/Ebitda (18x P/E), having recently peaked at 11.7x EV/Ebitda (22x P/E). Although the rating is still high, we believe there is sufficient self-financed growth to drive the shares.”

Americans ‘drinking most of their craft beer in bars and restaurants’: While three quarters of all beer sold in the United States is bought in stores, the majority of craft beer is drunk in bars and restaurants, a new study has found. Technomic’s 2014 On-Premise Craft Beer & Cider study said 55% of craft beer and cider purchased in the United States is being consumed in bars and restaurants. In 2013, craft beer accounted for about 7% of the total on and off-premise beer market of 2.8 billion 2.25-gallon cases, according to Technomic earlier this year. While overall on-premise beer consumption fell by 3% in 2013, more severely than the 1.4% overall decline in beer consumption, craft beer volume expanded by 11.8% overall, and by 14.5% in restaurants and bars. Cider consumption is booming, with restaurant and bar sales growing 150% in 2013, nearly twice the growth rate off-premise. Technomic also found that common assumptions about craft beer and cider, such as that cider consumption is being driven by women and that mostly white men drink craft beer, are untrue. While people who buy craft beer once a week tend to be male and in the Millennial and Generation X demographic, about 21 to 50 years old, but they also skew towards the Hispanic population. The study also found that regular drinkers of cider in bars and restaurants are nearly evenly split between men and women, with 25% of men and 26% of women who drink craft beer or cider ordering cider on nearly every visit to bars, and 18% of men and 16% of women doing so in casual-dining restaurants.

Young chef wins top Scottish award: Chef Adam Newth’s Dundee restaurant Castlehill, which opened in February this year, has been named Best Scottish restaurant at the Food Awards Scotland. The restaurant has already become the first independently owned eatery in Dundee to scoop the coveted AA two-rosette accolade. Newth, 23, who currently holds the Best Young Chef in Scotland title, said: “We’ve only been open for about eight months and this is a very high accolade to win, and we just won the AA two-rosettes last month as well, so it all seems to be coming at once.”

Whitbread to step up expansion in France for Costa: Whitbread is to open another ten Costa Coffee sites in Paris in the current financial year on top of the eight already open. The brand plans 300 net new openings in its UK home market this year, even though it is closing more weaker-performing franchise outlets than it had expected. Of its 2,941 total outlets, 1,831 are in the UK. In a trading statement, Whitbread said it was shutting more outlets than it had expected in Poland, China and India, because of underperformance. The pace of overseas investment in France and China over the past year pushed Costa International into a pre-tax loss of £1.1m, against a profit of £2.4m the previous year.

Carluccio’s freehold sold for £4.25m: The freehold of 60 St John’s Wood High Street, let to Carluccio’s, has been sold by Coffer Corporate Leisure on behalf of a private consortium to Attleborough Estates Limited for £4.25m. The 3,261 sq ft property comprises a restaurant arranged over basement, ground and part of the first floor let to Carluccio’s for a further 15 years at a passing rent of £155,000 per annum, subject to a review in September 2014. The property also included four apartments over first to fourth floors. The striking corner terraced building is in a prominent location close to Regent’s Park and Lord’s Cricket Ground and surrounding by a large and affluent catchment. Lawrence Telford, director of Coffer Corporate Leisure said: “Leisure investments continue to be extremely popular with investors and we are currently completing a high volume of transactions. Properties like this, with a great tenant and in an excellent catchment, are particularly popular which is reflected in the interest we received and the price achieved.” Coffer Corporate Leisure acted for the vendor and Colliers International acted for Attleborough Estates.

Trocadero to become the West End’s largest budget hotel: The Trocadero building on Piccadilly Circus in London is to be turned into the West End’s biggest budget hotel. Work has already begun on the 583-room three-star hotel, which will open in 2017 , when a night’s stay is likely to cost around £100 to £150. It replaces an earlier plan for a much cheaper Tokyo-style capsule hotel on the huge wedge-shaped site between Shaftesbury Avenue and Coventry Street. Thomas Dubaere, UK managing director of the French hotel operator Accor, said: “To have an affordable hotel of this size at the most prime location of the most visited city in the world next to one of the most often taken photographs in the world is unique.”

Ramsay to open Bread Street Kitchen in Singapore: Chef Gordon Ramsay is to open a new Bread Street Kitchen site in Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands resort. His new venture will open in the Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands next year. It will be set in an industrial warehouse-designed restaurant and bar, modelled on its London counterpart, and will serve a British European menu with fresh seasonal produce in a lively and bustling space. Ramsay said: “I’m delighted to be opening in Singapore with a partner such as Marina Bay Sands, who is well known for providing world-class dining experiences in a market where people simply love their food. The further expansion into Asia is an exciting move for us and will see our successful London concepts being transferred and tailored to this new market.”

Reading Oracle adds Cau and Ben’s Cookies: The Oracle in Reading, owned by Hammerson, has added the Argentinean steak restaurant Cau and the cookie brand Ben’s Cookies. Cau will take a 3,220 sq ft restaurant, the first in a UK shopping centre and a new addition to Hammerson’s portfolio. The restaurant will be at the Holybrook entrance to the scheme in a new two-storey glass and timber building which has recently been granted planning approval. The new restaurant is due to open in spring 2015. Ben’s Cookies will open its first unit in Reading at the Oracle in the autumn. The brand, which was founded in Oxford in 1984, will take a 220 sq ft store in the entrance to The Oracle on Broad Street. Chris Daly, leasing executive at Hammerson, said: “The Oracle’s loyal catchment and strong footfall will provide a great platform for these brands to introduce their offer to Reading. Cau is a fantastic niche letting for us and we are confident that they will make a great addition to the existing dining offer at the Oracle and offer something new to consumers.”

Diageo opens new brewhouse in Dublin: Diageo has opened its new Brewhouse No 4 at St James’ Gate in Dublin. The new brewhouse is capable of producing more than 2 billion pints a year. Diageo has closed a number of sites and cut costs and jobs in Ireland in recent years. But Paul Armstrong, the company’s supply director and head of the new brewery, said this investment will secure employment in Dublin. Of Diageo’s global beer output, 35% is now produced at the St James’ Gate site, with three million pints produced there every day. The new brewery brings together all Diageo’s Irish brewing operations to St James’ Gate.

CGA reports changes in key personnel: The insights and research firm CGA Strategy has undertaken a corporate re-organisation which sees Jon Collins become group chief executive, based in Chicago, and Phil Tate become European chief executive, with responsibility for the UK and CGA’s developing markets in Western and Eastern Europe. The company said the changes are designed to allow CGA to respond to demand from its global drinks clients for on-trade services in multiple countries, all aligned to CGA’s Brand Index measure. Collins said: “CGA’s global clients are looking for consistent on-trade measurement. This is an excellent development that will leave us well placed to offer class-leading services in the biggest and most dynamic on trade markets on the planet. On a personal level, I am delighted that Phil receives a richly deserved promotion. I know he will be a tremendous success in the role given his own abilities and those of our wider management team.” Combining data from Europe, North America and beyond will give CGA clients the ability to measure cross territory share performance and identify emerging concepts and consumer trends likely to proliferate into other markets. Fundamentally, the development will help to further reinforce clients’ understanding of the global on trade market and support growth strategy. Tate said: “I am very proud to take on this new role and am fortunate to have a very strong leadership team in GB and Europe that will continue to ensure our clients receive market leading on trade data supplemented by the specialist strategic insights that are the bedrock of the CGA offer”.

Brewhouse and Kitchen acquires three Black Pub Company sites: Brewhouse and Kitchen, led by ex-Mitchells & Butlers executive Simon Bunn and former Convivial London Pubs chief executive Kris Gumbrell, has acquired two pubs in North London, The Arc in Angel and the Junction at Highbury Corner, and the Hill in Bristol, from Black Pub Company. Gumbrell, the company’s chairman, said: “All three pubs are an excellent fit to our brand profile. We like to buy under performing, surplus or new sites in good locations that require a full transformation to our operating format. Brewhouse and Kitchen have a clear site criteria and operating plan, and we are selecting sites where we know we can add substantial shareholder value.” 

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