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Fri 9th Jan 2015 - Update: Prezzo, Leon, Luminar, Shake Shack, McDonald's plus
Prezzo shareholders vote for TPG Capital offer: Prezzo shareholders have voted in favour of the recommended bid for the company by the US buyout specialist TPG Capital's vehicle Papa Bidco. The bid needed the support of 75% of voting shareholders, and a total of 79.26% of shareholders who voted supported the bid, with 20.74% voting against. The number of shares voted for and against the resolution to approve the Scheme at the Court Meeting represented 68.65% and 17.97% of the total scheme shares respectively and represented 66.45% and 17.39% of the total Prezzo shares in issue respectively. The last day of trading in Prezzo shares will be 29 January. The recommended 126.5p-a-share cash bid from TPG Capital values the group at £303.7m. TPG's victory comes despite an attempt by the activist fund Elliott International, which believed the US company's offer undervalued the restaurant chain, to derail the bid by buying shares in Prezzo itself. Prezzo was founded in 2000 by chief executive Jonathan Kaye, and the Kaye family owns around 48.5% of the shares. TPG said in November that its offer valued the business at 9.2 times Prezzo's adjusted earnings of £31m for the 12 months to the end of June.
Leon reports 30% like-for-like sales increases in annual accounts:
The healthy eating brand Leon has reported that like-for-like sales growth in the first six months of 2014 was 30% after hitting 20% like-for-like growth in the months leading up to end of December 2013. The company saw turnover of £12,466,000 in the year ended 29 December 2013, down from £12,772,000 the year before. It had an operating loss of £1,555,000 against £726,00 the year before, but made a gain of £447,000 on the disposal of a site. Losses before tax were £830,000, down from £861,000 for the same period in 2013.

Luminar closes its three venues in Peterborough:
Luminar has closed its three venues in Peterborough, Liquid, the MYU bar and New York, New York, all located in New Road. Their closure means the loss of 27 jobs. Luminar said a decline in footfall in the city and a tough trading environment have contributed to the closure. The move to shut the three venues comes after the recent closures of the Attica nightclub in Broadway. A spokeswoman for Luminar said: “Unfortunately, due to challenging trading conditions and reduced footfall in Peterborough, we have taken the difficult decision to close Liquid. We will be working closely with our teams at this time and would like to thank both our employees and customers for their loyal support over the years. With the support of the police and local authorities, nightclubs should be seen as an important element of any town or city’s night time economy that not only create vital jobs, particularly for young people, but also help to stimulate footfall and revenue.” Luminar also closed its Blackburn sites, Liquid and Envy this month.

Shake Shack attracts customers with fitness club that offers free beer: The American better burger chain Shake Shack has found a way of attracting large numbers of customers on a midweek evening by organising a "community fitness club" that offers free beer. The Shake Track & Field club sees runners meet at designated sportswear shops (known as "running stores" in the US) in New York, Philadelphia and Washington once a month, usually on the second Tuesday, with the run starting at 7pm. After a three to five-mile run, the runners finish up at a nearby Shake Shack, where they can get a free beverage, not just soft drinks, but a choice from beer, wine and shakes. Other menu items are full-price, and plenty of runners opt to refuel with a post-run burger at Shake Shack, according to Restaurant Hospitality magazine. The scheme began in Philadelphia, where Shake Shack's area manager Allen Ng told Runners World the idea spread to New York and Washington after a core group of about 50 runners became regulars. “We have competitive runners, women who come out with girlfriends, and even some people who haven’t run before but want the free beer,” he said.

Sharp's to create Atlantic Beer Kitchen concept at its first pub: The Cornish brewer Sharp’s is refurbishing its first pub, the Mariners in Rock, a joint venture with the chef Nathan Outlaw, with the creation of a concept called Atlantic Beer Kitchen. The new venture builds on Sharp’s work in beer and food, which includes Chalky’s Bite, the collaboration beer launched with Rick Stein that has seen unparalleled success at the World Beer Awards, claiming four World and five European gold titles. This has been further complimented by the creation of the Connoisseurs Choice range, a portfolio of beers designed specifically to partner food, which has been awarded over 40 international brewing medals since its inception. Outlaw said: “The team have done a tremendous job in 2014 and the pub has been well received by all. We look forward to building on this success and working with Sharp’s in 2015 to fully implement our combined vision for the public house: providing exceptional beer and exceptional food which caters to all tastes and celebrated in the unique provenance of North Cornwall.” Last year, capacity at the brewery in Rock, North Cornwall rose 40% to 260,000 barrels. Emma Bebbington, a director at Sharp’s, which was taken over by Molson Coors in 2011, said: “The sales growth of our core brands has allowed us to invest back into the brewery and our people, while expanding our capacity to meet growing consumer demand. In 2015 we aim to maintain our rate of growth by rewarding loyalty for Sharp’s customers, increase the availability of new brands such as Cornish Pilsner and Atlantic Pale Ale, and introduce exciting new beers and brands already in development. We will also introduce our new marketing campaign, 'There’s An Adventure Brewing', which will offer our consumers some truly exciting and unique opportunities.”

McDonald’s lays off 63 staff as part of efforts to save $100m:
McDonald’s is laying off 63 people at its company headquarters in Oak Brook, Illinois as part of a $100m cost-cutting and restructuring effort. The layoffs come as the company struggles with sales, following what has been its worst year in at least a decade. A company spokeswoman said: “McDonald’s is moving with a sense of urgency to improve our financial performance by taking actions based on the long term. This includes a diligent review of our corporate home office and McDonald’s USA structures and resources in order to redirect nearly $100m in savings toward business priorities, such as digital and new restaurant platforms that will support our key growth drivers.”

Delicious Dining to develop Banana Wharf brand and boutique hotel division after Fuller’s sale: Delicious Dining, the south coast-based dining and hotel group, has sold the Cromwell Arms in Romsey, Hampshire, through the property agent Davis Coffer Lyons to the London brewer and pub owners Fuller Smith & Turner as part of a strategic move to allow the company to focus on developing other parts of the business. The move frees up resources to allow Delicious Dining to expand its marina-based Banana Wharf brand, which currently operates in Ocean Village, Port Hamble Marina and Poole Quay as well as opening a new Tapas Barcelona later this year in Southampton's cultural quarter. In addition, the group is actively seeking new sites to develop its boutique hotel brand and is reviewing a number of locations along the south coast from Poole to Brighton as well as throughout Hampshire, West Sussex and Surrey. Steve Hughes, managing director of Delicious Dining Group, said: “These are exciting times for the group and 2015 looks to be a big year for us. With so much going on we needed to review our existing properties and we decided that the Cromwell Arms sat outside of the locations in which our businesses are growing, which is within cities and major towns. It is already very successful and I have no doubt that Fuller’s will continue to develop it into truly wonderful venue.” Chris Bickle, associate director at Davis Coffer Lyons, said: “The sale of The Cromwell Arms reinforces the desirability of quality destination freehouses in the current market and that strong prices are being achieved. This is a great asset that appeals on many levels. It has ten superbly designed hotel rooms, extensive customer spaces and a flexible function business. It also benefits from being near to the New Forest National Park, tourist attractions and an excellent catchment.”

Downing backs new Luke Thomas venture:
A new venture between the Chester nightclub operator Odysian and the young celebrity chef Luke Thomas called Luke's Eating House and GinRickey's is being backed by the investment fund Downing, it has emerged. Steven Kenee, head of licensed leisure at Downing, said: "We are delighted to have been able to support Odysian in this new venture. Not only will it be a great addition to Chester but it's also a great example of being able to provide ongoing financial support to one of our trusted investment partners. Our business is based on the quality of the operators that we back and the team at Odysian are excellent." Odysian's chief executive, Brendan McLoughlin, said: "Once again Downing have delivered us a viable financial support package, enabling the company to develop from scratch an exciting new venture in an area where bankers fear to tread. Steven Kenee and David Martin-Smith at Downing certainly went the extra mile in helping us achieve our almost impossible timescales. We now look forward to delivering a great new product for the city of Chester and beyond."

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