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Tue 30th Sep 2014 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Haché secures fifth site, enter private equity talks: London-based better burger brand Haché, founded almost ten years ago by Berry and Suzie Casey, has secured its fifth site – and entered talk with private equity investors with a view to speeding up expansion. Casey told Propel: “We are being courted by a few private equity companies. In the past, we’ve been quite keen to remain independent but we are well-poised for expansion with a good internal structure in place.” The company has secured its fifth site, a 1,800 square foot former Greek restaurant, in Balham’s Bedford Hill – it will open in November after an eight-week refurbishment. The company was founded in Camden at a 1,600 square foot site and saw business take-off after warm reviews in The New York Times, Time Out and Le Figaro. Even now, the Camden site struggles to cope with demand for tables – Casey estimates that around 40 to 50% of customers hail from Europe and the US. The company operates other sites in Clapham, Shoreditch and Chelsea, which was the biggest test for the brand so far. Casey said: “The Chelsea site is not located near a tube station and was a big experiment, a relatively big site with 90 covers in a posh area. It’s taken a bit of time but it’s given us the confidence that Haché could work as a local neighbourhood restaurant. Balham is our next stepping stone.”

Industry News:

haysmacintyre to unveil results of sector’s most comprehensive benchmarking survey at Propel conference: Andrew Ball, of tax advisors and accountants haysmacintyre, will present the results of the sector’s most comprehensive benchmarking survey, conducted in partnership with Propel, at the Propel Multi Site Conference on 20 November at the Lancaster Hotel. Propel managing director Paul Charity: “We received a very strong response to this benchmarking survey and would like to thank all the companies that have taken part. It will be fascinating to hear the results.” Operators can claim up to two free places by emailing adam.dickinson@propelinfo.com

TGI Friday’s to franchise US estate, sell UK arm: TGI Friday’s plans to sell most of its 247 company-owned restaurants in the US to franchisees, executives told The Wall Street Journal. TGI Friday’s also plans to sell all 63 of its restaurants in the United Kingdom. TGI Friday’s has been preparing for its move by remodeling restaurants, boosting its bar offerings and revamping its menu in an effort to make the brand more relevant to customers and more attractive to prospective franchisees. “We had to decide: are we a franchiser or an operator of restaurants?” TGI Friday’s chief executive Nick Shepherd said in an interview. “When you do both, the franchisees worry that the parent company is focusing on its restaurants first.” Shepherd said the company decided it could more effectively support its franchisees if it stopped running restaurants. But first, the chain, which had been struggling with declining customer visits and sales in the US, had to revive the business. “It only works if you give people something to invest in. You can’t franchise a bad product,” he said. TGI Friday’s decided more than two years ago to change the interiors of its restaurants, whose walls were filled with what Shepherd describes as “lots of ephemera and bric-a-brac” such as photos of the Blues Brothers. “It was quirky in the 70s, quaint in the 80s, outdated in the 90s and had grown past its sell-by date in the 2000s,” he said. After the company opened its first remodeled restaurant in Nashville, Tennessee, in July 2012, the restaurant experienced a 30% sales increase from before the restaurant was redone. “That came from guest counts, not price,” Shepherd said. “That allowed us to go to our franchisees and say, ‘This is what wins for our guests’.”

Christie + Co – 34% of pub buyers are new to the sector: The pub sector in the south west continues to show positive signs of recovery, with 34% of buyers new to the sector, agent Christie + Co has reported. Renewed interest in the trade has been created through the rise in the residential housing market and general signs of economic recovery, with many buyers relocating from London and the surrounding boroughs looking for different lifestyle opportunities. In 2013, 67% of pubs sold in the UK retained their existing use as licensed premises’— up 5% from the previous year. Sophia Sangchi, licensed agent for Christie + Co, said: “Many buyers are spotting the opportunity to turn what might have once been a poor performing pub in need of capital expenditure and investing in it to develop their own ideas, with a particularly noticeable rise in the gastro-pub concept. These pubs tend to offer a selection of good quality food, with locally sources ingredients and a trained head chef.”

Company News:

Tragus Group sells a further five Strada sites: Café Rouge operator Tragus has reported that it has sold a further five Strada site to independent operators on top of the 43 it has sold to Hugh Osmond’s Sun Capital’s new vehicle SCP Sugar for £37m. Trading in the core Café Rouge and Bella Italia estate has remained solid since the launch of the CVA process in June 2014. Plans for the opening of 12 Bella Italia sites in the next 12 months remain on track, subject to the completion of the restructuring process. Tragus Group chief executive Steve Richards said: “We are very pleased to have agreed the sale of Strada, following an extremely competitive sale process. Sun Capital has significant experience in the consumer sector, which will allow them to continue growing the business. Strada remains an extremely popular brand with customers, at the heart of the fast growing UK casual dining market and we wish the team every success for the future. The sale of Strada marks a successful end to the Tragus Group restructuring process, which created a more focused business, with 200 high quality Café Rouge and Bella Italia sites across the UK. Next week, Tragus will refinance with its financial sponsors and put in place the funding to enable it to grow to 500 restaurants over the medium term. The growth phase has already begun and we will open 12 new sites in the current year and have secured a further 18 in next 12 months.”

Arc Inspirations unveils more details of £1m Leeds city centre Brooklyn-inspired bar: Leeds bar and restaurant operator Arc Inspirations has released more details on its £1m Brooklyn-inspired cocktail bar and restaurant Manahatta, which is set to open in the city centre. The new opening, accessed from Merrion Street, will be located on two floors offering a range of cocktails, a varied wine list and a food menu inspired by the diverse food offer of New York. It will be one of the largest locations in Arc’s portfolio, at 9,000 square feet. The design includes steps down from its main entrance to the ground floor, where customers will see a long feature bar, open kitchen, raised areas and booths. Manahatta’s menu will include dishes by chef Anthony Flynn that “embrace New York’s diverse food scene” with signature dishes such as The Lepane Tomahawk rib-eye and black cod with New England chowder. Martin Wolstencroft, managing director of Arc Inspirations, said: “This is going to be a prestige location for Leeds but we are keen to ensure it is welcoming and informal. We have thought long and hard about what our customers want: Manahatta will be the perfect destination for the unpretentious seeking intelligent nightlife. Food, drinks, service, music and atmosphere are equally important and the glamorous design reflects our aspirations to give our customers the best time. We take our business seriously and researched the New York hospitality scene in detail. Our trip, with our architects, designers and members of our food and drinks team, meant that we have seen the best and understood what makes these New York locations a success. New York is at the cutting edge of the world’s food and drink offer and we are taking the best from there and bringing it to Leeds. We look forward to opening Manahatta and celebrating in this unique Northern Quarter of the city.”

Brewhouse & Kitchen to open first London site next month: Brewhouse & Kitchen, the company led by Kris Gumbrell and Simon Bunn, is to open its first London site in Islington on 6 October, around the corner from Angel tube. A second London site is set to open a couple of miles away, up towards Highbury. Original craft beers are brewed in open view by the head brewer. The first Brewhouse & Kitchen opened in Portsmouth in March 2013, and the next was Brewhouse & Kitchen Dorchester. Brewhouse & Kitchen Bristol will open in 2015.

Rick Stein adds to restaurant empire with another Cornish site: Chef Rick Stein has acquired the Clay Quay restaurant in Porthleven, along the coast from Penzance, according to The Times. The news comes after Stein revealed he would take his first step outside Cornwall with an opening in Winchester. Yesterday, Propel reported that the six-strong restaurant business owned by Rick and Jill Stein, Seafood Restaurant (Padstow) Limited has reported pre-tax profits of £986,000 in 2013 up from £148,000 the year before. Turnover climbed 3.2% to £15.1m.

Cook & Indi’s World Buffet to open in Harry Ramsden’s site in Glasgow: The co-owner of Cook & Indi’s World Buffet has revealed the restaurant chain will launch its next venue in the landmark Harry Ramsden’s outlet on Glasgow’s Paisley Road. Cook Gill, who launched the business with Indi Singh in 2011, said the company will invest £500,000 to install its world buffet concept in the site over the next six to eight weeks. The 200-capacity outlet, which is leased from Glasgow City Council, will be the seventh in the chain, and is due to open at the end of next month. Employing up to 70 staff, the new site will join an estate that already includes restaurants in Bishopbriggs, Darnley, Hamilton, Johnstone and Glasgow city centre.

Dragon’s Den contestant opens Rockets and Rascals branch: A former Dragons’ Den contestant has opened a branch of Rockets and Rascals on the Dorset coast. Hugh Roper aims to attract some of the many cyclists who head along Poole’s Sandbanks Road for the seafront or the ferry to Purbeck. Rockets and Rascals offers a place to stop for coffee, have a bicycle fixed and even get a massage or physiotherapy. He will also be selling the invention that earned him a spot on national TV – an illuminated cycle helmet. He said: “Cyclists enjoy one another’s company and they also feel self-conscious when they walk in a coffee shop or traditional cafe because they’ve got their cycling gear on, they look a bit odd and they’ve got a big bike to deal with. Here, they can roll in on their bikes, leave it in here or hang it on the wall.” The original Rockets and Rascals is in Plymouth and Roper has given the original owners some equity in his business in return for their involvement.

Pod plans expansion outside City of London after double-digit sales increases: Pod, the operator of 23 healthy fast food-to-go sites in London, has revealed expansion plans for 2015 to extend its footprint outside of its current City of London heartland. Plans will see further investment deliver a raft of new initiatives, including upgrading and modernising existing outlets and continued innovation in its seasonal menu and ranges. The company, founded in 2005, has enjoyed strong double-digit like-for like growth since the start of 2014. Marketing director Meg Ellis said: “We are seeing success across the business and our menu developments continue to be met with enthusiasm from our customers. Developing products like our hand-prepared blitz drinks, packed with health-giving raw vegetables and favourite fruits, offer our customers the ultimate nutritional fix on the go. Our autumn menu is packed with exciting flavours and new ways to eat such as pick your own yoghurt toppings, our great value Pod-packed lunch meal combinations and new gluten-free slow cooked porridge.”

Admiral Taverns site set for conversion to craft beer site after freehold sale: Admiral Taverns has sold The Queen Hotel on Westgate, Heckmondwike, West Yorkshire, to local property investor George Huluk through agent Fleurets. After what the new owners refer to as a ‘cellar to chimney pot refurbishment’, the Queen Hotel is scheduled to re-open after a comprehensive facelift under its new name of ‘Westgate 23’ in late October. It was sold for an undisclosed price after previously being on the market at an asking price of £170,000. Nick Thomas, of Fleurets, said: “The Queen Hotel will re-open with a refreshed identity and will be operated as an independent freehouse focusing on cask ale and craft beer sales from local and regional suppliers. There are also plans to introduce a comprehensive food menu and a Sunday carvery at a later date. In addition entertainment and live music will be a regular feature, utilising the refurbished function room.”

Starbucks to launch first global marketing campaign: Marketing Week has reported that Starbucks is launching its first global brand campaign to highlight the good things that happen when coffee lovers unplug from their smartphones and laptops and use their time in-store to connect with friends, a move it hopes will help boost dwell time worldwide. The “Meet me at Starbucks” drive is the first time the coffee business has attempted to convey the values of the brand on this scale. It plays on the idea that while many of its customers are digital-savvy, sometimes the best way for them to connect to one another is face-to-face with Starbucks stores suggested as the perfect location.

Brasserie Blanc creates first house sparkling wine: French restaurant group Brasserie Blanc has joined forces with wine supplier Matthew Clark to create a new house sparkling wine, Mousseux Premium Blanc de Blancs. The sparkling wine draws on an original combination of French grape varieties including Ugni Blanc, Airén, Macabeu and Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains and has been created to partner with the hearty, seasonal cuisine of the restaurant. Mark Derry, chief executive of Brasserie Blanc said: “Over the years we’ve noticed prosecco gaining in popularity and so decided it was time for us to introduce a French alternative so we’ve teamed up with the experts at Matthew Clark to create our very own sparkling wine. This is the first time we’ve launched our own wine and we’re confident that its elegant and light notes will appeal to our customers for both celebrations and everyday drinking.” Simon Jerrome, wine purchasing director at Matthew Clark said: “The Mousseux Premium Blanc de Blancs is an excellent addition to the Matthew Clark portfolio further strengthening our French wine offering. The range of French grape varieties used in the wine along with its food matching capabilities make it a suitable addition to the restaurant’s wine list and we’re confident that in the run up to Christmas, the wine will prove very popular.” The wine will be available at all restaurants for £27.50 (or £5 for a glass).
 
Mitchells & Butlers to retain name of Orchid pub in Crawley after conversion to Ember: Mitchells & Butlers is to retain the name of an Orchid pub, Frogshole Farm in Crawley, that it will convert to its Ember Inns brand in November. The Crawley News reported that the pub, on Maidenbower Drive, is to be rebranded as an Ember Inn by M&B, which bought Frogshole Farm in June as part of its major Orchid acquisition. Crawley MP Henry Smith spoke of his concern at the potential rechristening. But after writing to Mitchells & Butlers, the MP has expressed his delight at the confirmation that The Frogshole Farm will “keep its historic name”. He said: “After lobbying the parent pub company of Maidenbower’s Frogshole Farm not to ditch its historic name, I’m pleased to get confirmation from their headquarters that the popular Crawley watering hole will keep the name that has been a local feature for centuries. The pub will be closing on 3 November, but when it re-opens on 5 December following refurbishment and rebranding, it will retain its existing name.”

Enterprise to invest £120,000 in Illustrious Pub Company’s fourth Cambridgeshire venue: Enterprise Inns is to invest £120,000 in The Illustrious Pub Company’s fourth venue in Cambridgeshire, The Black Bull, Post Street, Godmanchester. The pub, owned by Enterprise Inns, has been closed since February, but renovation work has begun and an opening date lined up for mid-October. Founder Paul Beer said: “The layout is going to be similar, but it will be lighter and there are going to be wooden floors as we’ve ripped up the carpets.” He said the premises will have two defined dining areas which will serve food similar to his other pubs, The Eaton Oak in St Neots, The George and Dragon at Elsworth and The Rose in Stapleford.

Colliers – demand for mid-range hotels in Wales recovering fast: Demand for mid-range priced hotels in Wales and the border regions is recovering fast, according to hospitality sector specialists Colliers International. With sales agreed on three mid-range hotels, Peter Brunt from Colliers International says he is scouring the region for additional hotels in the sub £500,000 bracket on behalf of a string of disappointed buyers. Brunt reports offers on the table for the Lansdowne Hotel in Brecon (asking price £375,000), Forest House in Coleford (£450,000) and the Brynafon Hotel in Rhyader, Powys, on at £395,000. He said: “As a result of these offers I have unsatisfied buyers looking in Wales and the border regions for small hotels at prices below the £500,000 mark. We are seeing a steady stream of people inquiring after these properties all of whom have been disappointed to find that a sale has been agreed.”

Liberation Brewery exports 60,000 pints for JD Wetherspoon beer festival: Jersey-based Liberation Brewery has exported more than 60,000 pints of American Brown Ale to JD Wetherspoon for its 2014 Autumn Beer Festival. The order has taken the seven-strong team at the brewery three weeks to create, brew and package the order of 845 casks of American brown Ale, which will be exclusive to JD Wetherspoon throughout the festival, which runs from 24 October to 11 November. Paul Hurley, head brewer at Liberation Brewery said: “To be invited to take part in the Autumn Beer Festival you have to create a beer that will be exclusive to JD Wetherspoon and unique among the other beers available over the six weeks. Our American Brown Ale will be sharing bar space with top quality beers from all over the country and elsewhere in the world, and we are naturally very proud to demonstrate our product is considered worthy to be included in such a prestigious collection.”

Church Group secures UK debut site in Farringdon: Agent Shelley Sandzer has secured the debut London site for the New York-based independent bar and restaurant operator, The Church Group. The Church Group will enter the London market with its existing New Orleans concept, Ninth Ward. Ninth Ward London will be opening at 99-101 Farringdon Road in early 2015, trading from a split-level ground floor and basement site totalling 2,500 square foot. The Church Group has experience in the development, design and build-out of numerous critically acclaimed bar, restaurant and club projects in the US. Current operations include Kingston Hall, Ninth Ward, and Shoolbred’s, all located in Manhattan’s East Village. Nick Weir, joint managing partner at Shelley Sandzer, said: “We have worked very closely with The Church Group to understand their brands and to find the ideal location for the launch in the capital. Ninth Ward is an exciting concept and one that is going to be very successful in London.” Edward Armstrong, of The Church Group, added: “London was the obvious next step for The Church Group, but finding the right site proved challenging. Shelley Sandzer supported us in our efforts and were able to identify the right location for us to bring Ninth Ward to London. We are delighted with the Farringdon site and are now focused on preparing for our launch.”

M&B eyes landmark Glasgow post office site for Miller & Carter brand, opens in Newcastle: Mitchells & Butlers is planning to convert a landmark post offices site in Glasgow to its Miller & Carter steakhouse brand. The Post Office confirmed it will shut the doors on its historic premises, one of the busiest in the country, in Glasgow city centre next spring. It has been based at the St Vincent Street location since the 1990s when the former GPO building in George Square closed. Meanwhile, M&B has re-opened Ant and Dec’s former pub, the Lodge Bar in Newcastle, as a Miller & Carter. Rob Allison, the new manager at Miller & Carter Newcastle, said: “Many people in Newcastle won’t have even heard of Miller & Carter, let alone tried our food. I’d recommend they come along and experience the quality of our steaks and expertise that goes into preparing every dish.”

Derby brewer opens second micro-pub: Derby’s Wentwell Brewery has opened a second micro-pub. The Last Post is located on Uttoxeter Old Road, just on the junction with Ashbourne Road – it was previously a post office. Wentwell’s owners George Lambert and Walter Scott opened Derby city’s first micropub, the Little Chester Ale House. Lambert said: “As a brewer, the easiest way to sell your beer is to have your own outlet. Once we opened the Ale House, it went so well we couldn’t brew enough beer fast enough, so we had to move to a bigger brewery. Once we did that we had extra capacity to brew, so we needed another outlet.”

Fuller’s re-opens Chiswick pub with 200-capacity function room: Chiswick-based brewer and retailer Fuller’s has re-opened the George IV pub on Chiswick High Road with additional function capacity. The large room to the back of the pub, which many in the area will know as a comedy club, has been opened up to allow in more natural light. “This has created a fantastic space for live entertainment, family celebrations, business seminars and conferences. The Boston Room, as it is now known, can hold up to 200 people,” a spokesman for the company said.

Wilson family to open second Crusoe site: North-east restaurateurs the Wilson family is to open a beach-front restaurant in Tynemouth. The new venture at Longsands North, will see the Wilson family, who already run Crusoe’s restaurant in the town, join forces with North Tyneside Council. The designs include first floor panoramic windows, a lift, a take-away kiosk and public toilets. Howard Wilson said: “We’re delighted to be working in partnership with North Tyneside Council who have great plans to improve the area and attract more visitors. The new Crusoe’s North Sands will be up and running by Easter offering tourists and regular beach users another excellent restaurant selling good quality food and drink at reasonable prices in a wonderful setting.” Elected Mayor Norma Redfearn added: “Quality developments such as this are further proof that our promised multi-million pound transformation of the seafront is well underway.”

Flowify looks for angel investors: Flowify, the business that aims to improve customer service within the hospitality industry, has announced that it is looking to secure investment from two hospitality angels to drive continued growth and development in the business. The hospitality angels will be offered a seat on the Board, with their knowledge and expertise of the industry used to further develop the business. Flowify has a clearly defined five-year plan which “offers a good return on investment for the angels”. The funds will allow the company to be the first to market for front-of-house automation across the hospitality industry, together with allowing further advancement of the current technology and recruitment to extend the development team. Chief executive Benjamin Gibbs said: “Increasingly, I’m reading how service standards are dropping within hospitality. The National Customer Satisfaction Index (NCSI-UK) recently reported that for the first time ever customers are more satisfied with quick-service restaurants than full-service – that concerns me! The eating-out market is in strong growth, as consumers flock to eat out driven by an overwhelming choice of restaurant and dining options. They want and rightly expect excellent customer service every time. Flowify was established for this very reason, to help operators to consistently deliver a great customer experience whilst also capitalising on the opportunity to up-sell.” 

McDonald’s trials chicken burrito with chorizo flavouring: McDonald’s is trying to appeal to burrito fans in the US with a chicken burrito flavoured with chorizo. About 2,000 McDonald’s restaurants in Texas, Hawaii and the Midwest started selling chorizo breakfast burritos last month, Terri Hickey, a spokeswoman for the company, told Bloomberg in an e-mail. The wraps are made with dark-meat chicken, instead of the traditional pork, and include scrambled eggs, roma tomatoes, green chilies, onions and white cheddar cheese. The chicken is flavored with chorizo seasoning that includes paprika, chili and chipotle pepper. “They’re trying to have some new news to get people to come back into the stores – they’re really struggling,” said Bob Goldin, executive vice president of insights firm Technomic. “Some of the younger consumers like a bolder flavour.”

Jamie Oliver’s Ministry of Food re-opens in Rotherham: Jamie Oliver’s Ministry of Food in Rotherham has re-opened – more than a year after it was closed down by a health and safety inspection. Celebrity chef Gennaro Contaldo, star of the television series Two Greedy Italians, and Oliver’s mentor, was on hand to officially open the centre in All Saints Square. The centre opened originally in July 2008. But it was closed by Rotherham Council in June last year, after an inspection. The reopened centre is funded by the council and will be run by charity Zest – Health for Life, along with the Jamie Oliver Foundation. Courses running for eight weeks will teach people basic cooking skills in a fully fitted kitchen, alongside budgeting tips and healthy eating advice.

Europe’s first super-food cocktail bar opens in London: Europe’s first-ever bar dedicated to superfood cocktails has opened its doors. Tanya’s Cafe, located within the MyHotel in Chelsea, was the brainchild of raw food specialist and wellness coach, Tanya Maher. At the age of 14, a near-fatal car crash left Tanya with damaged organs. Going against medical advise to remove her pancreas, her parents chose a holistic path to save what traditional medicine couldn’t. Maher’s realisation of the power of raw food became the catalyst for her career and her new cafe serves up tasty raw food, as well as an array of superfood cocktails. Maher told The Mail Online: “The menu is designed to reflect your busy schedule and provide loving nourishment at all times of the day. You can get your morning green juice, which is cold pressed and organic or a pour over coffee with hazelnut milk, a satisfyingly delicious plant-based burger and decadent raw chocolate cake for lunch. Then come evening you could share a vibrant cashew cheese platter and superfood packed cocktails, that are made with only top quality, vegan and ethically sourced alcohol. Everything is organic, hand picked and raw.”

Yoyo adds Apostrophe founder to its advisory board: Yoyo, the mobile platform that combines payment, loyalty and discovery, has added Amir Chen, former co-owner and chief executive of Apostrophe, to its Advisory Board. Between 2004 and 2014, Amir Chen developed Apostrophe into one of London’s leading café brands, operating at over 20 locations across central London, including high streets, shopping centres, tourist attractions and Heathrow and Gatwick airports. In 2011 Apostrophe established a joint-venture with contract caterer CH&Co, with Amir selling his remaining shares to them in April 2014. Before entering the hospitality sector, Chen was an investment banker with Lehman Brothers in London and New York. Chen said: “I was extremely impressed when Yoyo originally pitched their product to me. I was even more impressed to see how quickly Yoyo is being rolled out at university campuses across the UK and now high-street food operators. I look forward to working with co-founders Alain Falys, Michael Rolph and Dave Nicholson who have extensive knowledge of the payment and loyalty sectors, and supporting Yoyo on its journey to become the most relevant mobile payment and loyalty platform for retailers in hospitality.” Alain Falys, co-founder and chief executive of Yoyo, said: “Our focus is to help retailers build better relationships with their customers, in a way that adds value to both parties. With Amir we have added the operator’s voice to our impressive group of advisors.”

House of Fraser to open Caffe Nero multichannel hub: House of Fraser is to open a multichannel hub in Cambridge’s Caffe Nero, providing state-of-the-art technology and various customer services to mobilise the department store chain’s brand. Set to be unveiled on 16 October 2014, the first-of-its-kind initiative will give customers a chance to order online from House of Fraser while they enjoy a coffee as well as use the location as a click and collect hub. The Fitzroy Street store has evolved from House of Fraser’s original online store, which opened in Aberdeen three years ago, and will see the retailer’s tablet devices and touchscreens placed on tables in the coffee shop’s ground floor. On the first floor, House of Fraser will have a branded ‘front of house’ which includes till points for customer collections, a product showcase, order-in-store terminals and a fitting room. Andy Harding, executive director of multichannel at House of Fraser, said: “We have a high density of online shoppers within Cambridge postcodes, so having a physical brand presence was an obvious move. As part of our expansion plans we are keen to increase our physical footprint, especially in towns and cities where a store isn’t present. With a growing cafe culture and more customers shopping on the go with mobile devices, we believe we’re providing our customers with an innovative solution which meets the needs of today’s busy consumer.”

Thwaites scoops five World Beer Awards: Northern brewer Thwaites has scooped five awards at this year’s World Beer Awards – three for ‘World’s Best’. The brewer’s Crafty Dan range stole the limelight with the dark English ale Big Ben and the fruity pale ale Crafty Dan being awarded the ‘World’s Best’ brown and golden ales. The popular American IPA, 13 Guns also received the award for ‘Europe’s Best’ IPA and the English pale ale Triple C scooped the Silver award for Europe’s Best Golden. Such recognition comes hot on the heels of a number of prestigious awards for the craft ale range, including Big Ben, which recently struck gold at the Hong Kong beer awards and 13 Guns which took silver at the recent Indie Beer Can Festival. Lee Williams, Thwaites marketing manager, said: “This is a huge achievement for us, the World Beer Awards are highly prestigious and reward excellent beers from around the world, so to have received recognition across our portfolio is fantastic. It also demonstrates how much our ale brands have developed over the years with the growing popularity of our Crafty Dan range which are quickly becoming some of the most talked-about beers in the industry.”

Agent markets rare Cambridge new pub opportunity: A rare opportunity to open a new pub or nightclub in the heart of Cambridge city centre has come up – in a former bank. Historic Sidney House, the former Britannia bank building in Sidney Street and Sussex Street, is up for let as a pub, nightclub or restaurant. Estate agents Innes England has put the building, which is next to Waterstone’s book shop and near Kuda nightclub as well as Fez Club in Market Passage, on the market to rent for £169,000 per annum. The company puts it under the heading “leisure property, pubs/bars/clubs, restaurants/cafes, retail – High Street, licensed and leisure, retail”. The property boasts a total of 2,283 sq ft, a basement and a large frontage. But planning permission is needed to turn it into a bar.

CAMRA unveils new chief executive: CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, has unveiled Tim Page as its new chief executive – he will start work for the consumer organisation on 1 November. Page brings a wealth of experience from the charitable sector, having previously held positions as chief executive of the East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA) and former national director of homeless charity Emmaus UK. He said: “I am absolutely thrilled to be joining CAMRA as chief executive and look forward to meeting the volunteers when I start work in November. The Campaign has an outstanding reputation, which appears to me to be the result of its large membership, its huge number of hard-working and committed volunteers and its highly competent and professional team of employees. My aim is to continue to develop CAMRA as both the universally-recognised representative and the most-authoritative voice of real ale drinkers and pub-goers in the UK.” Page succeeds Mike Benner as chief executive, who has remained within the beer industry and is now managing director at SIBA, the Society for Independent Brewers. “CAMRA is very pleased to welcome Tim Page as our new chief executive and look forward to seeing him further cement CAMRA’s place as the voice of beer drinkers within the beer and pub industry,” said Colin Valentine, CAMRA National Chairman. With pubs being lost at a rate of 31 per week across the UK, CAMRA’s current ‘Pubs Matter’ campaign aims to see public houses placed in their own use-class, meaning they can’t be converted or demolished without planning permission, in an effort to curb the closure of pubs.

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