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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Mon 22nd Dec 2014 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Eating out spend up as overall leisure spending drops: Eating out again saw year-on-year growth in November, the latest Greene King Leisure Spend Tracker has reported, with the average household increasing spend by £3 (4%) to £76. Households with children led the increase, with their expenditure on eating out up £14 (22%) year-on-year. However, overall the average British household spent 8% less in total on leisure during the month compared to November 2013, down £16 to £193, though spending was up 3% compared to October. The main cause of the fall in total leisure spend decline was a drop of £19 (20%) in "other leisure" spending, covering items such as theatre-going, live events and gym membership, against November last year. Drinking out spending was flat compared to last year, although it was 4% higher in November than in October. Meanwhile, a special Christmas survey revealed that the pub is still the most popular place to celebrate Christmas Eve outside of the family home. Steve Jebson, Greene King’s commercial director, said: “The trend for eating out has, once again, improved this month, indicating that this is fast becoming an established staple of everyday family life. This month, eating out benefited from visitors to retail parks, particularly during last month’s ‘Black Friday’ week, when shoppers spent their leisure time looking for discounts on Christmas presents.” Drinking Out spend was almost identical to November last year, a sign of resilience after three consecutive months of year-on-year decline. Jebson said: “It will be interesting to see how leisure spend in all categories fares over December, in the lead up to Christmas. Eating out and drinking out should benefit from the festive parties and celebrations, while 'other leisure' may see a boost as the pantomime season gets underway and parents look to occupy the children while on school holidays.” Greene King asked households where they plan to spend time on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day this year. The report found that on Christmas Eve the pub is still the most popular place to go outside the family home, with more than one in 10 people planning a trip to their local this year. On Christmas Day, approximately 2.9 million Britons intend to go to the pub, with households in the North East of England twice as likely to go as the GB average. Jebson said: “Pubs are still very much at the heart of the community, especially when it comes to a special event like Christmas.”

Industry News:

Nine out of ten Britons plan to eat while out Christmas shopping: Nine in 10 people (91.5%) say a food stop is an essential part of their Christmas shopping experience, according to research from the British Sandwich Association. Eight in 10 (82.6%) Britons say they will grab something on the go to eat while out Christmas shopping. Two thirds (66.8%) plan to add in a coffee or other hot drink, while more than half (55%) will also add a Christmassy treat such as a mince pie. A similar percentage say they prefer a trusted chain retailer, while 45% opt for an independent cafe or similar. According to the BSA, the rise of high street coffee shops, bakeries and other sandwich retailers is helping consumers to enjoy the experience and save time. Jim Winship, director of the British Sandwich Association, said: “While the world may be turning to digital, some things just can’t. Enjoying a sandwich, a coffee and a little treat is such a simple pleasure. It adds so much to consumer experience on the high street.” “With Click and Collect increasing in popularity and footfall on the High Street down 26% since 2008 delivering an experience will keep shoppers on the high street. This is critical as footfall has disproportionate effect on total spend. With a footfall of over 300,000 people per week, a high streets will see a total spend of some £550m or more. When the footfall rate drops by just 50,000, to between 250,000 and 299,999, the total spend practically halves to around £270m.”

Brewery claims first with tasting notes on pumpclips:
A brewery in Cumbria is claiming to be the first ever to put tasting notes for its beers on its pumpclips. Chris Tomlinson, owner of the Tirril Brewery, in Long Marton, near Appleby in Cumbria, said: “The new labelling is all part of our recent rebrand and relaunch campaign. Wines and teas display this information – why not beers? With the boom in interest in craft beers, and such a vast array of beers to choose from, customers need to have some indication of what they are getting before they buy.” Pumpclips for Tirril’s Old Faithful now state that it is “a golden ale, fresh, with a citrus finish” while those for Red Barn say it is “a ruby red ale, strong, with a tangy finish.” The pilsners and seasonal ales get the same treatment, as do all the bottled beers, with "taste" information in bold lettering on the front labels. Tirril commissioned the brand marketing agency Better with Jam, based in North Lancashire, to re-brand the brewery and its products. Janie Ash, managing director at Better With Jam, said: "Tirril’s innovative labelling system will, I am sure, become the norm among other brewers in the near future.” Tirril has one tied house, and 30 regular accounts.

Asian pair close to $300m deal to roll out Dunkin' Donuts in China: A Philippines restaurant chain, Jollibee Foods, and RRJ Capital, one of Asia’s biggest private equity funds, are close to signing a $300m deal with Dunkin' Donuts that will give the pair exclusive rights to open branded stores in southern and eastern China, including Beijing, Hong Kong, Macau and Guangdong. The deal involves the partners opening a minimum of 1,459 stores over 20 years, or 73 a year. Dunkin’ Donuts has 19 stores in China, already which are not part of the deal. In January it signed a deal with another group to open more than 100 outlets in Shanghai and the provinces to the north and south of the city. Jollibee will have control of the Dunkin’ Donuts joint venture with a 60% stake while RRJ, run by the Malaysian dealmaker Richard Ong, will take 40%. The two have committed to invest up to $300m in to the venture. Jollibee is one of the biggest restaurant groups in the region, with almost 3,000 stores across the Philippines, China, Vietnam and Singapore, as well as the Gulf states and the United States. In addition to its namesake brand, it also operates Burger King in the Philippines and Asian fast-food chains including Chowking and Yonghe King.

Company News:

Snug Bars aims for 15 bars by the end of 2015: Snug Bars, owner of six outlets in Cambridgeshire, and the northern Home Counties, has announced a goal of running 15 bars by the end of 2015, with two as-yet unnamed new sites in the pipeline for this financial year. Meanwhile pre-booked Christmas parties are 55% up on the same time last year. The company also announced a 10% increase in turnover and a 30% increase in operating profit for the 52 weeks to 23 February 2014. Giles Fry, the company's managing director, said: “The robust results from the previous financial year showed us that the time was right to start really investing in the brand, the food proposition and start a more aggressive approach to site acquisition. It’s an incredibly exciting time for all of the team and guests at The Snug and we feel that this year we have shown a real step change in our position as a business, strengthening our support team, and in turn updating the brand into something more appealing for the 25-24 discernible drinker. We are very confident as we approach our key trading period and drive our business forward into next financial year." Snug said it had secured "a recognised industry mentor with significant experience within the sector" to help steer it to achieve its growth goal, of 15 bars by the end of 2015. After nine years of operation, the company said in a statement, The Snug underwent a re-branding exercise to align it more closely to its core target demographic of 25 to 34-year-old "discerning" drinkers and bring it up to date visually and in design terms, but still maintain the warmth and welcoming nature it has become known for. The re-brand has been well received by customers and staff alike, it said, and plans are in place to update signage schemes and undertake internal refurbishments over the rest of the financial year in the remaining estate.

Poundcafe owner returns to pre-tax profit: The Bolton bakery group Sayers, owner of the Poundbakery and Poundcafe chains, has posted a return to pre-tax profit and an increase in sales. Revenue rose from £42.4m to £45.4m for the year to 30 September 2014, with a pre-tax profit of £469,000, against a pre-tax loss of £82,000 in 2013. The company said its performance for the year was "significantly improved" on 2013, mainly because of the impact unusually bad winter weather had in the 2013 financial year. Sayers underlined the growth of its Poundbakery concept and said it plans to ramp up the expansion of the brand in 2015. Six Poundbakery stores were opened during the year and two of its existing stores were converted to include a Poundcafe. There are now four Poundcafes in operation, in Blackpool, Bootle, Birkenhead and Liverpool. The concept sells a traditional fry-up of sausage, beans, bacon and egg for only one pound. Sayers currently has more than 150 shops in total across the North of England. The group recently took its Poundbakery concept south, with the launch of sites in Wolverhampton and West Bromwich in the West Midlands, with one store a month due to open across the region in the near future.

Fabric nightclub avoids closure but told it must have drug dogs on patrol: The London nightclub Fabric, which faced closure after four drug-related deaths in the past three years, has been allowed to stay open by Islington Council's licensing committee, but only if it takes a host of measures including hiring seven £300-a-night sniffer dogs to check clubbers for drugs, introducing ID checks on all clubbers and improving CCTV coverage. Club founders Cameron Leslie and Keith Reilly said after the licensing committee they would fight the decision. Leslie told the Evening Standard: “We’ll be appealing. We need to see their written reasons but we fundamentally disagree on a number of key points.” Leslie told the meeting the club had struggled to find a sniffer dog company that would fit the bill and had reservations about the ID scanner. He said: “In 15 years we have had six million people come through the doors and sadly there have been four deaths. We do everything we can to stop people taking drugs in the club. What’s happened recently is this country is awash with drugs. There’s been a large batch of MDMA that’s got more powerful and has caught the kids out.” The club, in Charterhouse Street, Farringdon, which has a capacity of 1,400, joined the ALMR in 2013. It pays a rent of £500,000 a year on its 20,000 sq ft premises.

Wetherspoon buys Liverpool's Head of Steam: The Head of Steam pub at Lime Street Station in Liverpool has been sold to JD Wetherspoon in an off-market deal. The pub, reputedly the largest licensed premises on Merseyside, occupies half of the ground floor of the former North Western Hotel. It was retained by Carolyn and Tony Brookes when they sold the other seven bars in the Head of Steam Group to Camerons Brewery in December 2013. Wetherspoon already has four other pubs in Liverpool city centre. Tim Martin of the leisure property specialist Fleurets – no relation – who acted on behalf of JD Wetherspoon, said the deal represented “not just an attractive, prominent unit but also, very favourable lease terms which were secured by the outgoing tenant in exchange for a hefty premium a number of years before.” As part of the terms of the deal, the pub will now be renamed. It currently has four bars, with the Grand Hall having a stage where live acts play, the Display Bar used as an American diner and two other bars usually only open for special functions and parties.

Whitbread 'could spend as much as £575m in capital investment this year':
Whitbread could spend as much as £575m on capital investment this year as its management eyes up a number of freehold properties in London that could be used to bolster Premier Inn's presence in the capital's booming hotel market, according to a report in Investors' Chronicle. The report pointed out that Premier Inn is already doing very well in the capital with London sales up 17% in the third quarter, and average occupancy levels as high as 89%.In the regions, where Premier Inn continues to snatch market share from its rivals, the chain's total sales rose by nearly 15% over the 39 weeks to 27 November, with three fifths of the growth coming from existing hotels. Revenue per available room rose 9% as occupancy levels reached a record high of 84.2%. At the company's third-quarter trading update last week, chief executive Andy Harrison said Premier Inn's committed UK room pipeline stood at around 12,400 new rooms, with "a number of attractive London freehold opportunities at various stages of negotiation". After the trading update, analysts at Numis Securities gave the shares a rating of "add", saying: "Whitbread's third-quarter trading update is strong, and we believe there's scope for upgrades to consensus numbers. As ever, however, this depends on favourable weather conditions in the final quarter. Trading has been strong throughout the first three quarters, aided by special events such as the Commonwealth Games. Comparatives will be tougher in the fourth quarter, as relatively benign weather favoured Premier Inn and Whitbread's restaurants last winter. But both Premier Inn and Costa are expanding rapidly: international sales for the latter grew 18 per cent at constant currencies during the third quarter." Deutsche Bank gave the shares a rating of "hold", saying: " Whitbread's third-quarter performance keeps the full-year forecasts nudging ahead, which is what the shares need following the past year's rerating. Whitbread's stock has outperformed the FTSE All-Share by 3 per cent over the past quarter and by 28 per cent over the past 12 months, as the medium to long-term growth story continues to find favour with investors. We've upgraded our own pre-tax profit forecast by £6m to £479m for the current financial year, which gives EPS of 206p. An update on future growth milestones due in April 2015 should help maintain longer-term interest in the stock."

Busaba Eathai opens site number 12 at O2: The 15-year-old Thai restaurant chain Busaba Eathai has opened its 12th restaurant, at the O2 arena in Greenwich, South East London. The new site has a total of 182 covers, including a heated Thai-style terrace with 24 covers, an a mezzanine private dining room with 30 covers. Customers in the private dining room have the choice of three set sharing menus served in the traditional communal Thai style, ranging from £19 to £32 per person. Executive chef Jude Sangsida has also introduced a new set lunch menu called the "Sanuk" menu, from the Thai word meaning "to enjoy". It includes a selection of dishes such as Pad Thai; ginger beef; Thai calamari and chicken satay for £9.90 for a main and side dish, and is available for lunch on non-event days. Busaba Eathai’s chief executive, Jason Myers, said: “We are delighted with the newest Busaba. It brings together all of the magic of its predecessors, along with some exciting new design features. At its heart it is focused on delivering fresh, fast and delicious Thai food which is at the core of everything we do.” All Busaba Eathai's outlets are in London except for one at the Bicester Village shopping centre in Oxfordshire.

£4m shopping centre scheme to bring six new restaurants to Skelmersdale approved: A £4m redevelopment of the Concourse Shopping Centre in Skelmersdale, Lancashire, which will include a new cinema and six new food venues, has been granted planning permission. Under the proposals, a 695-seat, seven-screen cinema and two food outlets would be put in on the second floor and a further four units on the first floor would be converted to restaurants. The shopping centre currently houses more than 70 shops, including well-known high street names, and branches of KFC, McDonald's, Greggs and Subway. However, before the vote, Jo Salmon, retail portfolio manager of London and Cambridge Properties, which owns the centre in a partnership with Threadneedle Investments, warned: “If people don’t support our plans there’s a strong chance the Concourse would have to close, meaning hundreds of people could lose their jobs.” Afterwards, Salmon said: "We are absolutely delighted that councillors have approved this scheme. We've worked very hard to bring this development forward and have been overwhelmed by the support we’ve received from people who live and work in Skelmersdale, as well as traders in the Concourse. The funding is already in place and we are looking forward to starting work in the new year to transform the centre." Work is expected to start in the spring for opening in September 2015.

Canadian coffee chain Second Cup sells six area developments in UK: The Canadian coffee shop chain Second Cup, which opened its first UK outlet in Manchester in October, has now sold six area developments, consisting of five stores per area developer, including one through a Saudi Arabian company that has bought ten stores in central London. The news was revealed by Jon Cullen, a retail consultant who is acting as franchise director for Second Cup, in an interview with Essential Retail. Cullen said the Canadian company brings "a proper American/Canadian style" to Britain's high street, with an offering spanning light, medium and dark roasts, as well as teas and food. "If you were to compare us to a UK store, we have the food offering of a Pret a Manger and we probably have a coffee offering better than Caffe Nero – we sit in the middle," he said. Second Cup is currently in around 127 countries, including Libya, Iran and Cambodia, and the brand has a history spanning back around a quarter of a century. It has around 400 stores in Canada and 200 stores elsewhere. He said that Second Cup was "growing tremendously – there's a lot of interest in an alternative coffee brand. The brand is mature in that the systems and processes are all in place, so it's a great opportunity if people are interested in coffee to get into a new brand. If you want to be a Costa or a Starbucks and you want to be in the heart of a big UK city, you can't because those slots are all full."

M&B chains stock Help for Heroes wines: Three of Mitchells & Butlers' pub chains are stocking Help for Heroes wines, to raise money for the British Armed Forces charity. Help for Heroes Shiraz and Help for Heroes Sauvignon Blanc are produced by Spier, one of the oldest wine farms in the Western Cape district of South Africa. They will be available in 300 of M&B’s Sizzling Pubs, Crown Carveries and O’Neill’s outlets for £12 to £13 a time. One pound from the sale of each bottle will go toward the charity, which supports those who have suffered life-changing injuries while serving in the British armed forces.

Premier Inn to open chain's first new Tyne and Wear hotel for ten years: Premier Inn is to open the chain's first new hotel in the Tyne and Wear region for ten years, in Sunderland. The five-storey hotel on Hind Street, in an area which is set to become the city's arts and cultural quarter, is due to open next year. It will have 125 bedrooms and will include a 156-seat Thyme restaurant, with an additional 20-seater external terraced area. Louise Hope, cluster general manger at Premier Inn Newcastle South, said: "The hotel will not only help boost the city’s leisure and tourism industry but also regenerate a fantastic area back into a thriving location." Its opening will create 50 jobs and two apprenticeships. Premier Inn is aiming to increase its current number of bedrooms in the UK from 54,000 to 75,000 by 2018. Meanwhile Whitbread is seeking pre-application advice for a 75-bedroom Premier Inn hotel on the Old Bakery Studios site in Malpas Road, Truro. The proposal is to demolish the existing buildings on the site and erect a four-storey hotel with an integral restaurant. There would be 33 car parking spaces available. The site is currently in employment use and the existing tenants are on short-term leases.

Burger Breakout chef Dave Aherne to launch Fulham restaurant with focus on beer: Dave Aherne, the organiser of the Burger Breakout pop-up, is to open his first restaurant, called Wahleeah, in Fulham High Street, South West London after a series of successful residencies in venues such as Oslo in Hackney, East London and the Old Crown in Oxford Street in central London. In an interview with the Hot Dinners website, Aherne, who gained some of his earliest experience as a chef at the Ship in Wandsworth, South West London, said: "The menu has a strong focus on cooking with beer, which is something I have always enjoyed, and that beer focus will carry through to the drinks offering which will incorporate 30 to 40 beers from both local and international breweries. We've brought in Phil Harding from Boutique Beer Brands to help us put the beer list together and to give us a nice mix of local beers along with some US, European and Asian beers and this beer selection will play a big part in shaping the menu as we move forward. If we find a beer we like then we can look to develop a dish that works well alongside it or ideally one that we use the beer in the cooking of the dish. We've sort of thrown the wine list out the window on this. We will be offering a very small choice of one red, one white and one rose using a new 'by the glass system'. While the wine will be of very good quality, it is not going to be a big focus for us. It is my belief that British food tastes developed alongside British tastes for beer and not wine. I also feel that it is easier to match a beer to an individual plate of food than it is to match a bottle of wine to a whole table of different dishes." Dishes will include oxtail and onions in stout with horseradish toast; the Wahleeah burger, topped with beef bacon, horseradish cheddar and beer ketchup; whole bream with beer braised fennel and crayfish mash; and tuna meatloaf, polenta nicoise and bloody beer sauce.

New World Trading Company's Botanist Newcastle opens its doors: The fifth and largest outlet in the Botanist chain, run by New World Trading Company, the Living Ventures subsidiary, has opened at the Monument Mall development, in Newcastle upon Tyne city centre. The 8,000 sq ft venue, which has a roof terrace offering views of Grey’s Monument, Grainger Street and Grey Street, is across two floors at the mall. The venue currently has 85 staff, and £75,000 has been set aside for training. Stephen Patterson, director of communications at NE1, said the venue was a "fantastic example" of the city's leisure sector boom. He said: "With 85 new jobs already created and the prospect of more in the future, the Botanist has proved to be great news for the city's employment market as well as its leisure scene with a huge investment in staff training, which all helps drive up quality and standards across the board." The other Botanists are in Leeds, Deansgate in Manchester, Chester and Alderley Edge.

McDonald's must pay £45,000 in court costs after failed hours appeal:
McDonalds will have to pay £45,000 in court costs after losing an appeal to extend the opening hours of a branches in one of West London's most upmarket areas. The chain lost an appeal challenging a decision made earlier this year by Kensington and Chelsea Council to refuse it longer trading hours after it had applied to push back the closing time of its Brompton Road branch in Knightsbridge from 11pm to 2am. The application received 120 complaints from neighbours, community groups, councillors and Westminster City Council next door, and was refused in May. McDonald's appeal was turned down at City of London Magistrates’ Court last week.

George's Tradition fish and chip chain opens 11th outlet: The George's Tradition chain of award-winning fish and chip shops has opened its 11th outlet, in Queen Street, Nottingham. The 110-seater restaurant has a menu that includes sea bass, monkfish, Scottish salmon smoked and cured with juniper berries, mushy pea fritters with a creamy wasabi dip, lemon sole and plaice cooked at 400°C in an Inka charcoal-fired grill in the open kitchen to provide a healthier alternative to fried fish, English wines and bottled craft beers, and gin-based cocktails created by Henry Yates from the Hockley cocktail bar Boilermaker, such as Red Snapper, concocted out of George's bloody Mary ketchup and Opihr gin and Flora Dora, a blend of Hendricks gin, raspberry syrup and ginger beer served in a teapot with china cups. Owner Andrew Constantinou, whose father George started the chain more than 45 years ago, said: "It's quintessentially British and traditional within a contemporary setting. It's our vision of the 21st century fish and chip shop." The restaurant's new executive chef, Duncan Poyser, used to work in a two-star Michelin restaurant. The restaurant also operates a takeaway. The chain runs five restaurants and takeaways, one pub and five standalone takeaways in the Nottinghamshire/Derbyshire area.

Popular North East Indian restaurant to open second outlet: A growing Indian restaurant business in Middlesbrough has moved to larger premises and announced plans to open a second branch in nearby Stockton. Dosa Houze, formerly of Victoria Road, Middlesbrough, has relocated to the old Yorkshire Bank on Linthorpe Road, where after a £100,000 renovation, the restaurant can take twice as many diners as before. Owner Sashi Kala, 49, said: “We were very happy [in Victoria Road] but we have a new management partner and it was time to move and expand the business.” Kala said she was also expanding the business into Stockton town centre, with the new restaurant due to open in March. However the location is still secret. Money for the expansion has come from business funds such as Five Lamps and the Regional Growth Fund.

Christmas 'in line with expectations' says Real Greek owner Fulham Shore:
Christmas trade is "in line with expectations", according to The Fulham Shore, the owner of the Real Greek chain of restaurants, as it revealed figures for the six months ending 28 September 2014 showing a pre-tax profit of £84,000 on turnover of £953,000. The group, which acquired the Real Greek portfolio in October for £13.9m, also runs one Franco Manca pizzeria in London. David Page, chairman and co-founder of The Fulham Shore, said: "The Real Greek, since acquisition, has been operating satisfactorily, with sales increasing in line with our expectations. The restaurants have benefited from the mild autumn, especially those with outside seating and Christmas trade is also in line with the board’s expectations. We continue to seek investment opportunities which have potential for expansion and significant capital growth, and look forward to the conclusion of the financial year with confidence."

Restaurant owner forced to deny nightclub plans: The owner of two restaurants in Glasgow has been forced to deny that he plans to open a nightclub on one of his outlets. Massimo Lilli, owner of the Massimo's restaurants in Elmbank Street in the centre of Glasgow and Kirk Road in the suburb of Bearsden, has applied for permission to build a two-storey extension at his Bearsden venue. Local residents have told the local Herald newspaper they are worried he wants to open a nightclub in the new space. One said: “This is a conservation area and this development goes against everything a conservation area is all about." However, Lilli told the newspaper: “People shouldn’t be worrying about these plans. There are no plans for a nightclub and we are knocking down an old warehouse which will make the area look smarter. The extension is for a function room which will benefit everyone in Bearsden as they will have a local venue for weddings, christenings, birthdays et cetera."

Bakery and cafe group makes senior appointment to support continued expansion: The Bath Bakery cafe and bakery shop operator has made a senior appointment to support the business's continued expansion. In just three years the city-based bakery has almost trebled in size, moving from five to 14 outlets in and around Bath, including a cafe in Moorland Road, Oldfield Park, and employs more than 100 people. It has now appointed Liz Cox, who has a background in the hospitality and fast-moving consumer goods industries, to the position of area sales manager. She said: "This is a really exciting time for the business, which has a superb reputation for quality, and I'm really looking forward to helping Bath Bakery grow further."

Robinsons gives Lake District inn five-week 'contemporary' makeover:
The Stockport-based family brewer and pub retailer Frederic Robinson has called in its award-winning design team to give its Lake Road Inn at Keswick in the Lake District a five-week refurbishment. The overhaul has replaced the pub’s former tired look with a contemporary design the company says captures the pub’s "quirky charm". Tenant Eddie Burrows said “The pub was what you would expect for a typical country local,. It was welcoming and loved by our locals, but certainly in need of an update, so when Robinsons contacted us, we jumped at the chance.” A palette of greens, whites and creams have been used throughout to create a clean, airy and open atmosphere. At the same time a new menu, developed with Robinsons’ development chef, Christian Whittleworth, focuses on Lake District favourites created using local produce from the neighbouring Cocklakes Farm. Steve Robinson, a business development manager with Robinsons Brewery, said: “The change to the Lake Road Inn has been a long time coming. The pub is well loved by the community and the response has been very positive so far. We hope that by refurbishing the pub we can not only appeal to locals but open the pub up to more passing summer trade from visitors to the area. The design team have done a fantastic job and we have high hopes for the Lake Road Inn."

Pop-up micropub opens after fit-out costing less than £10,000: A pop-up micropub has opened in a former estate agent's in Middlesbrough that cost less than £10,000 to convert. The Devil's Advocate, on Borough Road, was the idea of Gary Bainbridge, 46, and friends Anthony Bracey, 34, and Dean Powner, 31, who will apply for a permanent drinks licence in the new year. Bainbridge, a former publican, said: “We are friends and we all go drinking together. We had seen how successful other micropubs have been in town, so we found this premises which had been an estate agents and got the keys on November 1.” Since then, Powner, a joiner, has decked the entire unit out with reclaimed wooden tables and booths as well as a brick-built bar. The walls are decorated withy vintage mirrors and the bar serves handpumped cask ale as well as keg lagers. Bainbridge said: “As we are surrounded by solicitors here I came up with the name Advocate – the 'Devil' came later. It’s been hard graft for all of us. We’re excited but also nervous. There’s been a gentrification of this area, such as Baker Street, and we feel that this can flow into different streets.” The Devil’s is open every day except Mondays - from 11am until 11pm. A light snack menu is planned in the new year.

DeskBeers hits 70% of target fundraising: DeskBeers, the craft beer subscription service that delivers beer to workplaces, has now hit 70% of the target £80,000 it is seeking to raise on CrowdCube to pay for its expansion with 38 days left. The company, which delivers boxes contain 12 beers, made up of two or three different styles of beer from one or more breweries, says it "creates a mini team-building event in offices for as little as £3 per employee. That's a pretty easy win as far as staff perks go!" It has now increased its equity offering from 13% to 17% and says it has received advanced assurance from HMRC that it will be able to issue EIS-compliant shares. DeskBeers currently delivers 1,200 to 1,500 bottles a week in London and Brighton and wants to use the extra funds it is seeking to expand its offering and territory. It forecasts revenue growth of more than 200% year-on-year. So far 69 investors have pledged money, with the largest single amount being £15,000.

Neighbouring stores complain of big drop-off in business after KFC forced to close: Neighbouring businesses have reported a drop of up to 30% since a KFC restaurant shut last week, after Scarborough Council banned it from cooking chicken. The council did not directly close the shop, in Huntriss Row, but banned it from cooking food on the site until an issue with its extractor fan was fixed, leaving the restaurant with little option but to close just weeks after it opened. One business owner told the Scarborough News: “People may have had a few reservations at first, but KFC shutting has hit almost everyone hard down here. It’s brought loads of passing trade, and opened the street up to a lot of people who may not typically venture down here. I think almost everyone has their fingers crossed this row gets sorted sooner rather than later, as it could make or break a few firms’ Christmas.” Another said: “I’m really fed up about it, footfall has really dropped and this has happened at a bad time of the year.” Scarborough Council said it was in “constant dialogue” with KFC over the status of the store but admitted it did not know when it will reopen. Traders claim they have been told it could be closed for up to four weeks.

Costa franchise opens in Beeston:
A Costa Coffee franchise has opened in The Square, Beeston, Nottinghamshire, bringing eight to ten new jobs. Its arrival was welcomed by the manager of Bereston Business Improvement District, Stephanie Moss-Pearce, who said: "We are proud to have an above average number of independent retailers and of course that includes coffee shops, but we also know that our shoppers like to have a choice between the big names and the independents. Costa can obviously see the potential in Beeston, which has to be good news in terms of attracting more retailers here." A Costa spokeswoman said: “The store will be run by one of our franchise partners, a local businessman to the area who will do all that they can to integrate the new store with the local community."


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