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Thu 25th Sep 2014 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Cask Ale report – raise the price of real ale: The pub trade is undervaluing cask ale and could and should be selling it for more, especially when craft keg is selling for a massive premium, says the latest edition of the Cask Report, out this morning. The report, by Pete Brown, and published in time for Cask Ale Week, starting tomorrow (27 September), says the UK average price of craft cask beer is £3.19 per pint, while the UK average price of craft keg beer is £4.04 per pint. “Craft keg is a premium product and drinkers do expect to pay a price premium. But in our view the current premium is distorted – the differential is far too high,” the report says. “Where the price premium is lower, outlets stocking craft keg beer sell more of it. Craft beer spans both cask and keg. It therefore makes no sense at all for publicans to be selling craft cask beer almost a pound a pint cheaper. If the average price of cask were higher and the average price of keg were lower, the publican would sell more craft keg, earn more from craft cask, and therefore sell more beer and make more money overall. This also provides craft beer overall with more of an insurance policy against becoming a fad – when the novelty wears off, will people still be happy paying a pound a pint more for it? It makes sense to reduce the differential now.” Research shows that cask drinkers already think they are paying an average of 30p more per pint for cask ale than they actually are, Brown said: “Clearly, the trade is undervaluing cask and could be selling it for more.” The report said that members of SIBA, who account for almost 780 of Britain’s 1,472 brewer, brew 4,000 permanent cask ale brands and as many as 5,800 seasonal and special cask ales every year, with breweries producing an average of eight different beers a year. The figure rises to 18,800 different beers with non-SIBA brewers added in. But it repeated a finding from last year – that publicans change the cask ales they sell faster than drinkers want them to: “Drinkers are happiest with an average of 4.9 beers over a four-week period, versus an average of seven for publicans.”

Industry News:

Cask Matters website launched to provide online resource: The cask ale industry has launched a website, Cask Matters, providing resources for licensees on how to look after and sell cask ale successfully. It offers case studies, help with training and information for both experienced and new-to-cask licensees, and is designed to be useful for all those working in the cask ale sector. The information is backed up by evidence, providing insight into the sector so visitors to the website will find reports such as all the Cask Reports and SIBA’s Beer Report, market research and the latest statistics from a wide range of organisations with short summaries which explain their relevance. Paul Nunny, from Cask Marque, responsible for hosting the website, said: “The idea behind Cask Matters is to build on the success of the Cask Report, Cask Ale Week and the growing number of breweries, beer festivals and Camra members. Cask ale can help more pubs to become successful and profitable and Cask Matters can equip landlords with the information they need to serve the perfect pint to their customers.” The website address is caskmatters.co.uk

Cask Report – awareness of Cyclops has increased: The new Cask Report, published today, shows that one in three drinkers and seven out of ten of cask ale publicans are aware of the Cyclops beer accreditation scheme. The Cask Report also reveals that over 90% of real ale drinkers and publicans who are aware of Cyclops believe it is clear and helpful. Cyclops is an accreditation scheme for beer which shows in simple terms the look, aroma and taste of each beer and measures its bitterness and sweetness. It was set up to help demystify beer and encourage more people to try it. The research shows that as well as a growing awareness of the scheme, there is also a great deal of support for it. Nine out of ten of male cask ale drinkers and the same number of cask ale publicans who are aware of Cyclops feel it is clear and helpful. According to the Cask Report, this new research suggests that “Cyclops should be given much greater publicity by the trade, both as a tool for bar staff and an educational resource for drinkers.” Speaking on behalf of the scheme, Stephen Gould, chief executive of Everards, said: “I would urge all breweries to take notice of this research and use Cyclops to promote their beer more effectively to consumers. Cyclops represents a major opportunity for brewers to sell their beer and we can now demonstrate that there is a real groundswell of support of it. Beer drinkers and licensees clearly want to see Cyclops tasting notes at the point of purchase in pubs.”

Fuller’s West London pub outperforms Michelin-starred restaurants on TripAdvisor: A West London pub owned by the brewer Fuller Smith & Turner has been voted the second best restaurant in the capital, ahead of some of the city’s most famous Michelin-starred eateries. The Andover Arms in Hammersmith is currently beating Michel Roux Jr’s Le Gavroche and Gordon Ramsay’s Restaurant in TripAdvisor’s online rankings. The pub has achieved a maximum average score of five from about 300 reviews, with the vast majority of people judging it as “excellent”.

NPD Group – London leading the way on lunch-to-go traffic: Research from NPD Group shows that Londoners visit fast food outlets and other chains to buy a take-out lunch more frequently than people in the rest of Britain. London makes up 13% of the population of Great Britain but has a 17% share of Britain’s “lunch-to-go” traffic and 18% of Britain’s “lunch-to-go” spend. But Londoners pay 24% more than the rest of Britain when buying lunch-to-go. When it comes to buying food at QSR restaurants, fast-food chains, independent takeaways and sandwich, bakery and coffee outlets, and leading supermarkets and other retailers, London is significantly outgrowing the rest of Britain. For all dayparts – breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks throughout the day – London’s traffic is up almost 14% for the year ending August 2014 versus the 12 months August 2009. The rest of Britain has seen much lower growth of 2.3% over the same period. London lunches purchased from the QSR channel recorded traffic growth over the same period of 17.1%, against just 4.4% for the rest of Britain. The percentage of London lunch visits that are “to go” is almost the same as the rest of Britain (65% versus 64%). But there is a marked difference in cost, with the average lunch-to-go purchase from a fast food outlet costing £3.53 in London, almost a quarter more than the £2.84 average for the rest of Britain, even when people are purchasing the same number of items. Cyril Lavenant, NPD’s group director of foodservice UK, said: “Lunch purchased through the fast-food channel in London has increased far faster than in the rest of Britain. And for the lunch-to-go segment within that, Londoners generate a much higher level of the traffic relative to the population size of the capital.”

Company News:

Old Sarum Hotels targets ten sites: Old Sarum Hotels, led by two former Laurel Pub Company regional directors, Gary Morse and Jez King, is targeting expansion to ten sites in the next six years after securing its third venue, the Old Mill, Harnham, Wiltshire, a Greene King partially tied 20-year lease. The site has 11 bedrooms and brings total bedroom stock across the company’s three sites to 52 rooms. The company has filed annual accounts for its most recent year to the end of June showing like-for-like sales up 15.5% and Ebitda up 83%. NatWest has funded its first acquisition. King said: “We feel like we’ve done the hard miles and have a good management team in place for expansion. We plan to have ten sites within six years but could happily go to 12. We will seek funding from NatWest for out fourth site but after that we will be self-funding.” Old Sarum Hotels also operates the Cathedral Hotel in Salisbury and the Castle Hotel in Devizes, a Wadworth site.

Giggling Squid picks up former Strada site in Salisbury: The growing Thai brand Giggling Squid has secured a former Strada site in Salisbury for its 11th opening and its first site in Wiltshire. The brand is also going to open in Bristol after Christmas. The prime site in the Market Place area of the city will become the largest restaurant in the group, with seating for 120 diners on the ground floor area, occupying 3,000 square feet. The building, a former hotel, has extensive space for offices and staff accommodation. Giggling Squid will invest £150,000 refurbishing the property and expects to open to the public around Easter next year, creating 20 new jobs, having acquired the 18 years remaining on a 35-year lease. Giggling Squid’s owner, Andrew Laurillard, said: “Salisbury offers exactly the demographic profile that is attracted by our style of restaurant – up-market, discerning clientele with a penchant for healthy, exotic cuisine. There are some very good restaurants here, but our research confirmed there’s strong local demand and a gap in the market for a high-end Thai establishment.” Giggling Squid currently operates ten venues in Brighton, Hove, Crawley, Tunbridge Wells, Henley-on-Thames, Reigate, Stratford-upon-Avon, Marlow, Horsham and Sevenoaks.

Downing-backed multi-site operators launch their own condiments: Jon and Paula Briscoe, who operate two freehold pubs they acquired in 2010 from Mitchells & Butlers with help from investment fund Downing, have launched their own range of handmade condiments. Briscoe’s Jellies are hand-crafted in Surrey by a small team based at The Jolly Farmers Eatery & Farm Shop, credited with being the UK’s first deli-pub. The range comprises of 12 different flavours including: Ever So Mint, Curious Chilli and Tempting Thai. Paula Briscoe said: “From making our first jelly five years ago designed to compliment dishes on our menu, we’re delighted to take these to a wider audience. We’ve already secured outlets to sell our range of jellies and we are in the process of launching an online shop and website. The process started with us looking to create the perfect mint sauce style jelly and then we just kept going – the jellies have been popular on our menu for years, so I guess launching them as a standalone produce was a natural progression for us.” The couple’s second pub is The Fox Revived near Horley, also in Surrey.

Super-casino at Stratford Westfield loses alcohol licence: The supercasino at Stratford Westfield, Aspers Casino, in East London has had its alcohol licence revoked by Newham Council after security staff allegedly “beat up” a punter. The casino will be unable to serve alcohol at any time or food between the hours of 11pm and 5am, after the incident on Saturday night. The decision was made at an emergency licensing hearing held this week, during which footage of the CCTV attack was played. The assault allegedly left the customer with a severe injury. The ban on alcohol, with immediate effect, comes just two weeks after the council issued a glass ban following a series of drunken attacks. Newham Council said: “The decision was made in view of the seriousness of the incident and the police and licensing sub-committee’s concerns about the casino’s ability to prevent crime and disorder. The suspension will remain in force until a full licensing review hearing.” Aspers Casino declined to comment.

Di Maggio Group opens American-Scottish restaurant in Glasgow: Di Maggio Group, the restaurant business run by Mario Gizzi and Tony Conetta, opened its latest outlet, the Anchor Line Bar and Grill, in the former offices of the Anchor Line shipping company in St Vincent Street, Glasgow yesterday. The Grade A-listed building was the booking office for Anchor Line cruise ships, which ran regular trips across the Atlantic from Glasgow to New York, but stood derelict for many years. The restaurant group took it over four years ago, and has developed it into a restaurant and bar with a Prohibition-era interior theme. It will be the first Di Maggio establishment to include a dedicated bar, while the menu will have an Scottish-American flavour. A spokeswoman for the group said: “We are extremely excited to be involved in restoring a significant part of Glasgow’s history. The building is Grade A listed and had been neglected for many years, but luckily a lot of the original features still survive, which we have restored with care. Several rooms on the interior were originally designed with the opulence of an ocean liner – the original designer having also designed interiors for the SS Lusitania. The interior style is going to be that of an 1930s New York bar, celebrating the end of prohibition and the glory of Glasgow being the second city of the empire, with great cocktails, wines and local Scottish and American beers.” The chain’s other restaurants include Di Maggio’s, Cafe Andaluz, Amarone and Barolo Grill.

Nick Batram – Greene King approach highlights Spirit’s undervaluation: Peel Hunt’s leisure analyst Nick Batram has argued that Greene King’s approach to buy Spirit Pub Company underscores the latter’s undervaluation. He said: “Greene King has confirmed that it has approached Spirit regarding a combination of the two businesses via an all share offer valuing the latter at 100p per share – circa 8.9x 2015E Ebitda. Greene King’s ambitions are well known and Spirit would be a neat fit, adding circa 750 managed pubs and expanding the brand portfolio. In addition, Spirit’s leased estate is in pretty good shape and, with decent-sized pubs, has greater potential than many. There would also be sizable synergies, Spirit has c£40m of central costs across the group and there would be other efficiency gains as well. FT.com reported that Greene King had upped its original offer to 110p, which would be c9.3x 2015 Ebitda on our forecasts, broadly the same as Greene King’s multiple. Clearly, with synergies, the forward multiple would be much lower, therefore even 110p doesn’t seem a stretch and we can see why 120p is a credible point to aim for. Given the importance of synergies, the only credible competitors to Greene King are other sizable pub companies such as Stonegate. The approach from Greene King highlights the undervaluation of Spirit. Even if a full bid fails to materialise, it has focused market attention on the value inherent within Spirit. We like the management team at Spirit, and the benefits from increased financial flexibility have yet to hit the bottom line. At 89p we still believe the shares represent good value. Investors should sit tight and demand an even greater premium before they consider selling out. Greene King’s approach doesn’t come as a complete surprise given its own ambitions and the market’s under-valuation of Spirit. Management are right to reject the 100p all-share offer, and with the chance of a competitive situation, 120p looks possible. Even if a full bid fails to materialise, the situation has focused attention on Spirit, and at 89p, the prospective 2015 Ebitda multiple is an undemanding 8.4x.”

Mitchells of Lancaster supports Tax Equality Day: The pub company Mitchells of Lancaster was a late-declaring supporter of Tax Equality Day yesterday, which saw 15,000 pubs and restaurants reduce prices to show consumers the benefits of lower Vat in the sector. Mitchell’s managing director, Jonathan Barker ,said: “We support the industry view that lowering the VAT rate in pubs and restaurants will ultimately create jobs. It is simply not fair that supermarkets benefit from a zero VAT rate whereas operators like ourselves must pay 20%.”

Douglas Jack – we forecast a strong third quarter for Domino’s: Numis Securities’ leisure analyst Douglas Jack, issuing a ‘Buy’ note for Domino’s Pizza with a 710p share price target, has forecast a strong third quarter for the company, which reports on Thursday, 2 October. He said: “We expect UK like-for-like sales to have remained double-digit positive and believe forecast risk remains on the upside: in H1, PBT rose 10% despite including £3m of one-off costs, without which underlying PBT was up 24%, in comparison to which our H2 forecast is for PBT to increase by 11%. In H1, UK like-for-like sales rose 11.3% (versus 6.4% comparatives). In Q2, like-for-like sales rose 11.8%, of which 2.2% related to the World Cup; the other 10% benefited from increasing consumer confidence, improving product range and bundle deals driving up add-on volumes by a third. Momentum should have continued in Q3, aided by easier comps (of 4%), slightly worse weather and the ongoing roll out of the new customer website. We upgraded our 2014E forecasts slightly after the interim results and believe that there is more upside risk, given our cautious UK assumptions of 5% like-for-like sales growth and falling EBIT margins. The 2015E P/E is 18x if one excludes Europe, a potentially valuable option, which we view as low for a company with 24% underlying growth and almost zero debt, capex and net rent.”

Agent seeks food operator for high turnover Enterprise Inns destination food pub: Enterprise Inns is looking for a high-quality operator for a high-turnover, destination food pub in Hampshire, offered on a nil premium new lease. The property agent Fleurets has been instructed to market the Malthouse Inn, on the outskirts of Romsey. The pub has been operated by the same family for generations and trades as a carvery. Kate Dowd of Fleurets, said: “This is already a popular food led destination pub but there is opportunity for a new operator to develop the business further and increase the trade significantly. The facilities at the site are unrivalled locally.” A spokesman for Enterprise Inns said: “We are looking for an experienced food operator with a vision and concept that would be ideal for this particular site, taking advantage of its great location and perfect facilities. We believe this could be a landmark business on the south coast.”

Leon wins special achievement award at Lunch: Leon, the self-described “naturally fast food chain”, has won the Special Achievement Award at the Lunch Business Awards 2014. A spokesman for Leon said: “In 2004 Leon set out to make it possible for everyone to eat good food. The industry’s recognition of their 10th birthday comes at a time when this mission looks set to continue, with no less than four new Leons opening by the end of the year.”

Brain’s makes collaboration beer with North London micro-brewer: The Cardiff-based family brewer Brain’s has made a collaboration beer with the London Brewing Company, a microbrewery based at the Bull pub in Highgate, North London. The beer, made by Brain’s head brewer, Bill Dobson, and London Brewing Company’s head brewer, Rich White, is a blueberry maple mild, brewed at the Bull, combining Brain’s Dark Mild recipe with maple syrup, from White’s American home country, and blueberries. The beer will be launched on Thursday, 25 September ,during cask ale week at the Bull. It will be served with mini-blueberry maple pancakes alongside a host of other beers from Brain’s as it takes over the taps at the North London brew pub.

Scotch whisky suffers severe global sales fall: Global sales of Scotch whisky have suffered one of their worst falls in recent decades, slumping by 11% for the first half of the year. The Scotch Whisky Association blamed anti-extravagance drives in China, the stronger pound and an economic slowdown in some markets for big sales drops in Asia and the Americas, two of the industry’s fastest-growing regions. Sales of blended and malt whisky fell by £220m, from £2bn to £1.77bn, between January and June compared with the same period last year, the largest half-yearly decline in 15 years.

Starbucks buys out partner in Japan in £559m deal: Starbucks is buying out its partner in Japan, where it has around 1,050 cafes, in a deal worth $914m (£559m). Starbucks Japan has been a joint venture between Starbucks and Sazaby League since 1995, and its profit margins are among the highest in the world, despite Japan’s sluggish economy. Under the deal Starbucks will buy the 60.5% stake of the Japanese unit that it does not own. It hopes to complete the deal by the end of the year. Japan is Starbucks’ second biggest market in terms of sales. Taking full ownership of the coffee chain will give Starbucks the opportunity to expand its product sales through grocery stores and other outlets. It currently has a small market share for its canned coffee and other ready-to-drink products in Japan.

New steak house opening set for Leadenhall Street in City: A new Latin-themed restaurant named Omnino Steak House will open on Leadenhall Street in the City of London, the latest opening from the team behind the Bull Steak Expert steakhouse in High Holborn central London. The 100-cover, 2,293 sq ft restaurant will serve cuts of prime US, Wagyu and Argentine beef. The basement floor will have an open-plan design with an open kitchen delivering what the restaurant has called a “theatre experience”. The site has been leased by Colliers International Licensed and Leisure Team, on behalf of its pension fund clients.

Bar operator doubles up in Lincoln: Bar operator Jez Nash, who operates the Strait and Narrow on The Strait in Lincoln, will open Second Nature on Mint Street in the city, in the former Scy nightclub venue. The new club, which has been purchased freehold, is due to open in November, has a capacity of 400 and promises to offer club-goers an alternative to the “typical” music played in Lincoln venues, along with live acts. Nash said: “We’ve had great success in the city with our first bar Strait and Narrow, and Second Nature is the natural progression of what we want to bring to Lincoln.”

Qube Project to replace Pacha in Victoria, London: An experiential nightclub is opening in Victoria, West London next month that aims to shake up the area’s clubbing scene. The Qube Project promises to bring “a touch of avant-garde” to the scene by mixing the typical nightclub experience of music and dancing with art, design and other mixed media. It will be the only nightclub in the area, as it replaces Pacha, by Victoria bus station. The club consists of three rooms: an intimate disco room, an avant-garde garage room and a main room equipped with 3D mapping. It also has a roof terrace offering views of London. Gemma Ross is behind the new club and has previously worked with other venues in the capital including the Cross, the Canvas and the Key.

Hakkasan to launch Golden Week menu: The restaurant chain Hakkasan’s will launch a “Golden Week” menu to celebrate the Chinese Golden Week holiday. It will offer a limited edition authentic set menu at its Hanway Place and Mayfair sites in London. Hakkasan’s has tailored the Golden Week menu to cater specifically to traditional Chinese tastes. The menu includes classics such as Peking duck with caviar, and Hakkasan’s trademark dim sum platter, as well as dishes less familiar to a British audience. The meal will be rounded with a bespoke box containing hand-made golden Champagne and popping candy macarons, a gift for each guest to take home with them. The menu will run for two weeks from 29 September.

Operators of Leeds music venue to open rock club: The operators of the Leeds music venue The Cockpit, now closed, are launching a new club in Leeds city centre. The Key Club claims to be the city’s first dedicated rock music venue and will host live gigs. It takes over the former Beat Bar site on Merrion Street and is run by Slam Dunk, the sister company of Futuresound Events, which ran the Cockpit. Slam Dunk director Ben Ray is also acting as general manager of The Key Club. He said: “The Cockpit was an all-round music venue, with two main types of music – indie and rock. I ran all the rock gigs at The Cockpit and the rock club-nights, which will now come here. The Key Club will be the first pure rock venue in Leeds.”

Starbucks trials Pod items at three London sites: Starbucks is teaming up with Pod, known for its seasonal and nutritious fresh food, which is served from 23 stores across London, to offer selected food from Pod’s breakfast and lunch ranges at three Starbucks stores in central London for a trial period from today (25 September). Starbucks customers will be able to buy warmed and ready-to-eat nutritious food options ranging from scrambled eggs with whole grain toast and bee pollen Bircher muesli to pulled pork and pickle flatbread, plus some new Pod recipes created exclusively for Starbucks. The three Starbucks stores taking part in the trial, in Harewood Place, just off Oxford Circus, Moorgate and Pentonville Road, will have co-branded menu leaflets to help customers choose from the broader range of breakfast and lunch options. Steve Flanagan, marketing and category director at Starbucks UK, said: “We believe that great coffee deserves to be paired with great food, and we’re very excited to be trialing this food partnership with pod. We’re committed to giving our customers choice – there are over 80,000 ways to customise our drinks – and this new partnership with Pod demonstrates our continued commitment to exploring how we can deliver a more improved food offering.”

Revived Shipstone’s beer celebrates Spirit festival listing: A brewery that revived the name of one of Nottingham’s vanished breweries, Shipstone’s, is celebrating winning a listing in more than 180 Spirit Pub Company outlets for Cask Ale Week. The original Shipstone’s brewery closed in 1991, but the name was revived in June last year by Richard Neale, a former rep with Whitbread and then InBev, who began brewing contract-brewing the beers at the Belvoir Brewery in Old Dalby, Leicestershire, run by a former Shipstone’s brewer, Colin Brown. It was chosen to represent the area in Spirit Pubs’ National Cask Ale Festival, meaning it will be will be present in all of the country’s Chef & Brewer and Taylor Walker pubs until 5 October. Neale, who bought the rights to the beer and begun brewing last year, said: “I’m so proud that Shipstone’s is going to be sampled by more people outside of Nottingham than ever before. Here we have a connection with the beer as it’s part of our heritage, but outside of our heartland its not well known and I’m over the moon to get this chance to show we are a city that is famous for its brewing heritage and a city that has amazing beers to offer today.”

ASA bans Scottish brewer’s ‘strongest beer’ advert: The Advertising Standards Authority has ruled that ads for a Scottish brew dubbed the “world’s strongest beer” should be banned, because of fears that it could encourage binge drinking. Snake Venom, made by Brewmeister, of Keith, Moray, is sold at £50 a bottle and claims to have an alcohol volume of 67.5%. The drink is so strong that Brewmeister has a warning label on the bottle. The ASA launched an investigation after receiving a complaint, and ruled that slogans on the company’s website such as The World’s Strongest Beer and Say Goodbye To Boring Beer should be banned. Brewmeister said: “While these bodies spend their days investigating hard-working businesses over anonymous complaints from one bored individual, we will continue to make great craft beer our way.”

Wetherspoon ready to spend £1.3m on new pub in St Ives, Cambs: JD Wetherspoon has revealed it has exchanged contracts to buy the freehold of the former Warehouse Clearance Shops store in Market Hill, St Ives, Cambridgeshire (population 16,384), with completion expected in early October. The company still needs planning and licensing permission, and it could not confirm when work would start nor opening dates. Conversion work would cost £1.3m. If the conversion receives planning permission from Huntingdonshire District Council, the pub will create 45 jobs. Eddie Gershon, Wetherspoon’s spokesman, said: “We are pleased to have exchanged on a property in St Ives. We have been keen to open in the town for a long time and this is a big step in the right direction.” The mayor of St Ives, Brian Luter, told The Hunts Post: “We like the many independent outlets we have here in St Ives. I am reserving my judgment, because it is a chain as opposed to a small pub. I just hope it won’t have an effect in terms of closing the pubs we have got.”

Costa Coffee completed in Solihull: A 2,000 sq ft Costa Coffee drive-through cafe has now been completed at Friars Gate, a 70,000 sq ft four-storey grade A office building in Shirley, Solihull West Midlands. The developer, Topland has appointed joint letting agents at GBR Phoenix Beard and KWB to let the remaining 21,000 sq ft of available space. GBR Phoenix Beard’s Joe Shorney said: “We expect to be able to announce some other new tenants shortly as we have been experiencing a lot of tenant inquiries. The arrival of Costa provides an attractive additional offer for tenants in the building and their staff.”

Two for Six Eight as cafe opens second branch at Millennium Point: The independent operator Six Eight Kafé is opening a second outlet at Millennium Point in Eastside, Birmingham next month. The coffee shop, which first opened in Temple Row in 2011, will be operating a pop-up stand, located in Millennium Point’s Atrium, to create demand before the official opening. Manager Jason Goodger said: “We’re pleased to be joining Millennium Point on the latest stage in our exciting journey from an enthusiastic new addition on the local coffee scene, to one of the city’s leading independent lights. Any Birmingham business with ambitious plans for growth should be considering an Eastside presence, so we thank Millennium Point for giving us that opportunity.” Philip Singleton, Millennium Point’s chief executive, said: “This venue has always prided itself on the quality of the businesses that base themselves here. The arrival of Six Eight Kafé undoubtedly is a coup, as it is an independent company whose reputation for excellence is well-known across Birmingham and beyond.”

‘Ice Bar’ to feature in Hyde Park Winter Wonderland: This year’s Hyde Park Winter Wonderland will feature an “Ice Bar”, with the bar, tables, walls and sculptures made of ice, alongside the regular attractions of ice skating, rides, markets, Santa Land and a circus. Visitors to the Ice Bar will be will be provided with a special winter cloak and gloves. Those who are sensitive to the cold are warned that they “may wish to wear an extra layer of clothing”. The price of admission includes a free cocktail served in a glass of ice, and the bar will also sell a range of alcoholic and non-alcoholic cocktails. The bar will be open from 11am to 9.40pm every day, from 21 November to 4 January, and tickets cost £14 (off-peak) or £15 (peak) per 40-minute session per person.

E-menu system set to launch: A program that allows staff in restaurants, bars and cafes to take an order through a tablet, mobile phone or iPad that is then automatically transferred to the kitchen and cashier is set to be launched by a young entrepreneur from Yorkshire. The e-menu system from Innoemenu can also be used by customers themselves, allowing them to select from menu images and place their order quickly and easily. Vijay Earamala, the young entrepreneur behind Innoemenu, has received support from the ERDF-funded project Growth and Prosperity in Rotherham, managed by Rotherham Investment Development Office (RiDO). Earamala, a former student and graduate entrepreneur from Sheffield Hallam University, secured a unit at Moorgate Crofts Business Centre in Rotherham, as part of the Soft Landing Zone project, which has given him a base for his growing company. He said: “This is an exciting time for my business as I am about to launch my new software programme both in the South Yorkshire area and nationally. The support I’ve had from RiDO has been fantastic and has really set me off on the right track. As a result of the research, I will be able to directly target food outlets in the South Yorkshire area, which gives me a great start to growing my customer base and creating new employment opportunities.” RiDO’s business development co-ordinator, Julia Millea, has helped Earamala by carrying out research into the South Yorkshire market to identify opportunities with restaurant and takeaway businesses in Sheffield, Barnsley, Rotherham and Doncaster.

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