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Thu 15th Jan 2015 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Coffer Peach – Christmas like-for-likes up 2.8%, restaurant chains up 4.7%: Pub and restaurant groups had a Christmas season to celebrate with collective like-for-like sales up 2.8% on the same period last year. Latest figures from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker also showed that London had more to cheer than the rest of the country with like-for-like sales up 4.4%, compared to 2.3% for outside the M25 over the six weeks, including New Year, up to 3 January. Total sales, which include the effect of new openings, were up 6.6% on 2013 among the 30 leading groups that make up the Tracker sample. “With supermarkets and specialist off-licences, like Majestic Wine, seeing seasonal sales suffer, it seems the British public decided to go out and have fun rather than just stay at home,” said Peter Martin, vice president of CGA Peach, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker, in partnership with Coffer Group, Baker Tilly and UBS. Generally, restaurant chains also had a better Christmas season than pubs, with collective like-for-likes 4.7% ahead of last year, compared to a 2% collective increase for managed pub and bar groups. “The success of casual dining groups, especially outside of London, suggests that Christmas time is not just about people going out to find a traditional Christmas dinner, but also about general family and friends time,” added Martin. Within the pub and bar sector, drink-led businesses had the best of it, with like-for-likes up 3% over the six weeks period, with those inside the M25 enjoying a 5.6% increase. “Although drink sales were up 2%, food was the biggest driver of growth, even within these predominantly drink-led environments, with sales up 6.8% over the period,” added Martin. “It is interesting that while pubs in general seem to be flourishing inside the M25 and still finding it tougher away from London, casual dining brands are having a better time of it away from the capital,” observed Martin. Like-for-like growth for casual dining brands outside of London was 5.4% over Christmas, compared to 3.6% inside the capital. “What’s clear is that the eating and drinking out market is performing more strongly than retail, with latest British Retail Consortium figures showing a 0.4% like-for-like decline in December for the retail sector against 2013. For the British public it is not just about acquiring things any more it’s about buying experience – and perhaps this sector rather than retail should be the accepted measure of economic health,” said Martin. “The increase in eating and drinking out spend across all sectors, restaurants, bars and pubs, suggests people are perhaps not as depressed by the pressure of austerity as politicians would have us believe, and if David Cameron ever wants to resurrect his ‘happiness barometer’ perhaps this is it.”
 

Industry News:

Eddy Passey to present at Propel Multi Club Conference in March: Red Hot World Buffet operations director Eddy Passey is to present at the next Propel Multi Conference on Thursday 12 March, held at the Lancaster Hotel, London. Passey will talk about the operational challenges of a fast casual buffet business after moving from budget beds to value volume. Operators of multi-site companies can book up to two free places by emailing adam.dickinson@propelinfo.com

Paul Harbottle – Enterprise ‘not trying to kick good tenants out of good pubs’ in managed house drive: Enterprise Inns’ drive to build up a chain of managed pubs is definitely not an attempt to cherry-pick the best of its estate and deny them to tenants, the company’s group commercial director, Paul Harbottle, has insisted. While industry insiders have suggested that the company’s move into managed pubs is a threat to lessees of good-quality pubs with high turnover and profitability who only have a short time left on their lease, Harbottle insisted that Enterprise was only starting to run managed pubs in order to learn retailing skills it can pass on to its tenants and lessees. He told Propel: “The opportunity managed pubs bring to Enterprise is to help our lessees and tenants get a greater understanding from our expertise of how to run a better pub. The objective is definitely not to convert Enterprise into a managed pubco. It will always be a leased and tenanted pubco with some management skills we can export to the rest of the business. We are not trying to kick good tenants out of good pubs, and we need to be clear about that.” Harbottle said Enterprise was in the middle of an exercise to segment all its 5,500 pubs into nine different retail concepts, and the managed operation will be restricted to three of those: “community hub” wet-led pub; family dining, value food operations with a 50/50 wet/food split; and “premium drinking”, 70/30 wet to food but with premium drinks and a premium drinks offer. On the future of the managed house division, he said: “We’ve publicly declared that we want to do 50 managed pubs in the next 12 months. We will have 15 in our portfolio by the end of this month. But like all these things, it’s an evolution, and at every point in time you reflect on what’s working and what’s not and review the process. We’re not frightened to say it could grow bigger than that, but we are very keen to stress that this is about having a management capability to benefit the leased and tenanted business, not to convert Enterprise into a managed business.”
 
Simply Crispy sells out two hours after opening: A cafe selling crisp sandwiches in Belfast that was started as a joke sold out two hours after opening. Pop-up store Simply Crispy opened in Belfast this week, inspired by a spoof suggestion from the Ulster Fry satirical website. It sells 35 different flavours of crisps in its floury baps, as well as ham and cheese for its more conventional customers. The sandwiches are served with soup and chips, and cost around £3. “It is something from your childhood,” customer Nerys Coleman told RTE. “I have not had a crisp sandwich since university and before that childhood, so it is bringing back the nostalgia.” The cafe is expected to remain open for three or four weeks.
 
Fleurets – giving pubs asset of community value status can be counterproductive: Agent Fleurets has argued that granting a pub “asset of community value” status can be counter-productive. Out of a sample set of 11 examples handled by Fleurets, one additional pub was saved as a direct result of the ACV listing. The agent added: “However, our experience to date suggests there is a risk that an ACV listing could be counter productive given that three other sales lost a buyer for pub use and nearly resulted in the properties being sold for alternative use. Whilst some communities have been given the opportunity to purchase their local pub (and a reported 50 or so have since the start of the legislation), it has not however, been beneficial in all cases. It does delay sales considerably and our experience suggests it can impact on the likely sale price.”
 
Wilson Drinks Report – wine drinkers are suffering the worst inflation: British wine drinkers are not feeling the benefit of the current big drop in the cost of living as inflation on wine rose by 3.4% on an annual basis to December compared to a Consumer Price Index rise of 2%, the Wilson Drinks Report (WDR) has argued. Beer and spirits drinkers enjoyed lower prices in December 2014. Tim Wilson, managing director of WDR, said: “Yet again, it is the wine drinker who is having to pay higher prices for their favourite tipple. A range of factors, including the amount of supermarket discounts and the increase in duty on wine, means that wine prices continue to rise. The average bottle of wine for drinking at home now costs around £5.36, up 2.9% on the same period last year. Spirit drinkers who kept an eye out for sharper prices were able to pick up some great deals on litres of vodka, gin and whisky over the Christmas period.”

Cook recalls 12 products: Upmarket ready meal retailer Cook has recalled 12 products. The company stated on its website: “One of our chefs has spotted a very small fragment of coloured plastic in the Palm Sugar cubes he was using for a Thai recipe (they’re just like the cubes you can buy in the supermarket). The supplier has investigated and believes it is possible similar fragments may have been in a previous batch of Palm Sugar. Please don’t panic. The plastic fragments are very small and should cause no physical harm if eaten but they definitely shouldn’t be in our food. This is the sort of situation every food business dreads. We’re very sorry for any inconvenience and hope it won’t stop you enjoying our food. We’re working with the supplier so we can be 100% confident this won’t happen again.”
 

Company News:

BrewDog looks to hire US craft brewery Master Brewer: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog is looking to hire a US craft brewery Master Brewer. The company stated: “Everyone who works here at BrewDog possesses an affinity with brewers from the United States – in their beers, and in their attitudes to producing those beers. As a company, our earliest influences flowed from the other side of the Atlantic, so we owe a debt to those doing the mashing, hopping and barrel-ageing over the pond. As we continue to grow we feel the time is right to reach out, and employ a Master Brewer who cut their teeth in the scene-shifting world of craft beer in the United States. If you think that is you, and you’d rise to the challenge of overseeing all elements of brewing at one of the leading craft breweries in Europe, then we’d love to hear from you! With that in mind, we are hosting two very special craft brewer events in California next month, to introduce BrewDog to our American brewing friends. If you can be at UC Davis in Sacramento on 6 February, or at the White Labs Tasting Room in San Diego on 11 February, come along and find out more in person.”

Jamie’s Italian Turkish franchisee asks for bankruptcy suspension: The franchisee of Jamie’s Italian in Istanbul, Turkey has sought suspension of bankruptcy. The restaurant opened in Istanbul at the beginning of 2013, but the restaurant began to face financial difficulties by the end of 2013. The company’s advocate asked for a suspension of bankruptcy from the court on 24 December 2014. In the application letter, it was said the company had accrued debt based on poor financial results recorded by the end of September 2014. The company claimed that it was unable to reach guest numbers targets at its location in the Zorlu Center, as it had hosted only 50% of the guest numbers it planned. Menu prices had to be kept low to remain competitive in the local market. A financial improvement plan was submitted along with the application to the court for the suspension of bankruptcy. As part of the plan, the company said it would raise its equity capital from 540,000 Turkish Liras to two million liras and cut the number of staff members. The court then ruled for an injunction, putting the company under protection against any execution for debts for a while.
 
Montpeliers reports turnover and profit boost: Montpeliers, which operates seven high volume sites in Edinburgh, including Indigo Yard and Opal Lounge, has reported turnover rose to £15,445,700 in the year to 27 April 2014, up from £11,496,788 the year before. Pre-tax profit rose to £1,443,320 compared to £1,306,228 the year before. The company stated: “In the past 12 months we have completed two outstanding upgrades at Indigo Yard last spring and at Monpeliers in Bruntfield this spring. Both units have traded beyond our most optimistic expectations since their repositioning and great credit must go to the senior executive team, led by David Johnson and Innes Bolt, for their creative vision and professional executional and operating skills.”
 
Faces Kitchen & Bar eyes Brentwood for third site: Faces Kitchen and Bar is looking to expand into Brentwood high street for its third site, with plans to open close to the Sugar Hut sit operated by Mick Norcross. It is looking to convert the unit previously occupied by Blockbuster. The company, which already has venues in Gants Hill and Chelmsford, has applied to Brentwood Borough Council for a premises licence. Faces Kitchen & Bar proposes to open on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday between 7am and 1.30am. On Thursday, Friday and Saturday, the venue has requested permission to remain open an extra hour, until 2.30am. A change of use for the unit is required before food can be sold. That is in the process of being submitted to Brentwood Borough Council. The company opened its first site in Gants Hill in 1993.

New Inventive Bar Company hires director of people development: Revolution vodka bar operator New Inventive Bar Company, led my Mark McQuater, has hired Fiona Regan as its first director of people development. Regan has worked for six years as human resources director at Grosvenor Casinos, taking a lead role in driving the people strategy for Grosvenor Casinos, “putting team engagement at the heart” of the company. Grosvenor Casinos managing director Mark Jones said: “Whilst we are sad to see Fiona leave the team, her departure at this time enables her to broaden her experience in another sector and I understand what was a difficult decision for her and wish her the best of luck in this exciting new role. Over the coming months Fiona will undertake a handover with her team whilst plans are made to recruit for this role, which will be advertised shortly.”

Blood and Sand to open dual business for second site: Blood and Sand, the company led by Rufus Grantham and Paul Mathew, are to open a dual business at their second site, the former Arbitrager on Throgmorton Street in the City of London. Grantham told Propel: “The site had previously been a City pub, The Arbitrager, which had been closed for at least the previous 18 months. Refurbishment work is now nearing completion and we are targeting an opening date in late February. We are opening two distinct venues on the same site. The smaller ground floor space will retain the original name of The Arbitrager and will be focused on London beer and spirits (with the tag line “Drink London”) with eight rotating London craft beers, two house tonics, a house punch (a seasonal cup in the mould of Pimms) and Prosecco – a primary focus on London beer and London gin and tonics. The Arbitrager will be managed by Dan Persson, formerly of Meantime Brewing and will open Monday to Friday from midday to 11 or 12 at night. The larger basement space will be a 61-cover table service cocktail bar called Demon, Wise & Partners. The menu will focus on regularly changing original cocktails complemented with a short champagne, wine and beer list. Demon, Wise & Partners will also open Monday to Friday but from 5pm until 2am and will be managed by Paolo Tonellotto who has been with The Hide since inception and Daniele Gentili, recently of The Hide, but previously the Head Bartender at the Micca Club in Rome.” The company has run The Hide (www.thehidebar.com) on the ground floor of the Wine & Spirit Education Trust building in Bermondsey Street, in London for the last eight years. The Hide is predominantly (circa 80% by sales) a cocktail bar, which has had consistently strong reviews. 
 
Final section of legendary Wigan Pier nightclub to be demolished this weekend: The end of an era is looming for the legendary Wigan Pier nightclub as bulldozers move in to demolish the final section this weekend. Demolition began last year on the building, which is being knocked down to make way for a major redevelopment of the run-down area, which will be rebranded the Wigan Pier Quarter. The ambitious ten-year vision includes the building of a 1,200-seat performance venue as well as new homes, shops, gardens and moorings for boats on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal basin. Developer H20 Urban will lead the project with input from the Canal and River Trust, it was announced last week.

DeskBeers hits fundraising target fundraising on Crowdube: DeskBeers, the craft beer subscription service that delivers beer to workplaces, has now hit 112% of the target £80,000 it is seeking to raise on CrowdCube to pay for its expansion with 12 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 is offering 17% of its equity for £80,000. 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 138 investors have pledged money, with the largest single amount being £15,000.
 
Sticks ‘n’ Sushi to open third site in Greenwich this month: The Danish owned, Japanese restaurant group, Sticks ‘n’ Sushi is to add to its Wimbledon and Covent Garden restaurants, with a third opening in the Royal borough of Greenwich. Taking the listed building on the corner of Nelson Road and King William Walk in the heart of Greenwich, the restaurant will be seconds away from the Cutty Sark, Maritime Museum and Greenwich Park. Sticks ‘n’ Sushi was founded 20 years ago by the brothers Kim and Jens Rahbek together with Thor Andersen. The restaurant is designed by Diener & Diener a Berlin and Basel based company who designed all the restaurants in Copenhagen and both the Wimbledon and Covent Garden restaurants. The Greenwich site is due to open on 31 January at 5pm.
 
Atomic Burger opens new site, a few door away from original site: Better burger brand Atomic Burger is opening a new site, located on Oxford’s Cowley Road a few doors away from its original site. It took over the former diner Route 66 in December and is refurbishing it with the restaurant’s trademark comic-book style. The new restaurant will eventually replace the original site two doors along at number 96. A sister brand Atomic Pizza, further down Cowley Road, will remain unchanged. Owner James Reilly said: “We will keep the original site but it won’t be Atomic Burger any more. We will redevelop it into something new, but I can’t say what. We have just outgrown it and needed a new site, but we like Cowley Road and it’s very important for us that we stay here. It’s changed so much since we moved in 2009 and it’s become quite a nice hub here. This is an area that’s expanded. Then this site came up and it’s bigger so we can fit more people. It’s got better storage and a better kitchen, so it ticks a lot of boxes for us. As well as the Cowley Road branches we have a branch in Bristol and we’re hoping to open another one later this year, but we don’t know where. We’re looking for the Cowley Roads of Britain to put our brand on.”

Cereal Killers to open second site: Brothers Gary and Alan Keery are opening a second Cereal Killers cafe in Camden after the success of the first site in Shoreditch. Adrian Sington, managing director of Kruger Cowne Rights, which represents the cafe, told Marketing Week magazine that the brothers are now looking to expand throughout the UK and have had franchise interest from several different countries. Six weeks after opening, the Keery twins have sold over 20,000 bowls of cereal and are negotiating a publishing deal for a cookbook, which should be released within the next six months.

Pizza Rossa claims first-of-its kind rewards scheme: City of London-based, artisanal pizza-by-the-square-slice business Pizza Rossa has claimed a first-of-its-kind rewards scheme. ‘Pizza Rossa Rewards’ is a loyalty scheme that does away with ‘yet another loyalty card to carry around, forget behind or even lose’, employing instead state-of-the-art technology which uses an Oyster or a contactless bank card to register customers. By simply tapping their chosen card on the fully integrated till reader, and entering their email address, the two-step account creation allows customers to become registered in less than 30 seconds and start accumulating points straight away (worth £0.10 per £1 spent). Customers then receive an email with an invitation to complete their registration on the website by logging into http://rewards.pizzarossa.com so that they can monitor the points earned, receive money off vouchers to spend in-store and exclusive rewards. Rewards include personalised discounts and vouchers and can also be exchanged for all Pizza Rossa’s products and retail items on sale in store, such as the award-winning Tamia Extra Virgin Olive Oil from the Tuscia are of Lazio and Kimbo Coffee from Naples. Corrado Accardi, founder of Pizza Rossa, said: “As a growing business, we wanted to have a sleek and fast system to operate a loyalty scheme, as we would rather have our staff interact with the customers and offer them flexibility to accumulate points on every single purchase in our stores. Customers love the simplicity and speed of the system, and the ease of getting their rewards. We have only been open for seven months and have two units. Now we have a solid foundation for a loyalty scheme in preparation for our planned roll out.”
 
Marco Pierre White to open Leicester site next month: Marco Pierre White will open a New York Italian at the Mercure Leicester hotel, in Granby Street on 20 February. The Grand Hotel has undergone refurbishment to its ground floor, including a new bar/lounge, reception area and fitness room. Last month, he announced a 134-seat restaurant at Yew Lodge Hotel, in Kegworth, near East Midlands Airport. It is due to open in April.

Fourth franchised Heaven coffee shop site opens: The fourth franchised Heaven coffee shop site, with capacity for 100 customers, has opened, this time in Hull’s King Edward Street a few doors away from three of the largest coffee shop businesses in Britain. Manager Fiona George said: “We are much larger than most other coffee shops in Hull, but that doesn’t mean we are going to lose our connection with customers. We want this to be a place people feel is comfortable, familiar and provides a personal service. We have tried to keep everything as local as possible. We have the same menu at all our branches, but all the food is handmade on site and we use our own brand of coffee that was made with the help of a company based in Lincoln.” On the site of a former Orange mobile phone store, the coffee shop is the fourth café franchise from Yorkshire businessman Stuart Payne, who previously set up branches of Heaven in Harrogate, Leeds and Ripon.

Starbucks and Arizona State University create a Retail Management Degree for baristas: Brand reputation, values-centered leadership, and ethical sourcing are components of a new online Retail Management Degree that Starbucks and Arizona State University (ASU) created for Starbucks staff who are part of the Starbucks College Achievement Plan. The Starbucks College Achievement Plan, launched June of 2014, is a partnership with ASU that creates an opportunity for eligible Starbucks employees to finish a bachelor’s degree with full tuition reimbursement through the college’s top-ranked online degree program. Junior and senior students receive full tuition coverage to complete their degrees while freshmen and sophomores can access a combination of partial tuition scholarships and access to need-based financial aid. Classes for the first spring session of 2015 started this week for more than 1,500 Starbucks employees. The term began with the new, customised Retail Management degree in addition to the 40-plus options ASU already offers. “Finishing college while working is an unbelievable challenge and we are proud to partner with ASU on this new program to make a four year degree a reality for so many US partners,” said John Kelly senior vice president of Global Responsibility and Public Policy. “We hope Congress and the White House will learn from these private sector efforts to address college affordability.”

JD Wetherspoon gets Hatfield go-ahead, turned down in Bristol: JD Wetherspoon has been granted permission to open a new-build pub in Hatfield. The company plans to spend £1.7 million on the new aircraft hanger-style pub in Comet Square, and says 45 jobs will be created. But a letter sent on behalf of neighbour, The Beales Hotel, objected to the plan. It said: “The clientele of a typical Wetherspoon has a young demographic type such as students where excess drinking, late nights, loud traffic movements such as the revving of engines and the slamming of doors is the norm.” Meanwhile, Wetherspoon has been refused permission to open a pub in Bristol’s Gloucester Road. City council planning officers declined to give consent to plans to create a pub in a former computer games shop. The refusal came after 100 objections were submitted to Bristol City Council. Wetherspoon says it is planning to hand in a fresh application and remains keen to open up an establishment at 349-353 Gloucester Road, a run-down former retail building next door to a reclamation yard. A spokesman previously said the company would be investing £1.5 million into the project, which could create up to 45 new jobs in the area.

Bidvest 3663 join Jacques Borel VAT campaign: Leading UK foodservice provider, Bidvest 3663, has become the first major foodservice distributor to join the VAT Club Jacques Borel. Bidvest 3663 provides an extensive range of leading brands and high quality, award-winning own brand products to the hospitality industry, across the public and private sectors. Chief executive Andrew Selley said: “We are pleased to have joined VAT Club Jacques Borel, which aims to reduce the level of VAT in the hospitality sector from 20 to 5%. A number of our customers are members of the VAT Club and as a large supplier operating within the sector, we want to do what we can to help. The reduction in VAT would enable the hospitality sector to better compete with food retail, where the VAT rate on the majority of food products is 0%. Reduced rates would allow our customers to charge lower prices, thereby getting more customers in through the door, which would promote growth within the sector. The move would also create more jobs and free up more investment in the industry to spend on wages and training.” VAT Club JB chairman Jacques Borel added: “We are delighted to welcome Bidvest 3663 to the campaign to reduce VAT. The company is at the heart of the hospitality sector, serving thousands of customers daily It fully understands how a reduction in VAT would boost all of those working in this important sector of industry.”

Nick Batram issues buy note on Cineworld shares: Peel Hunt leisure analyst Nick Batram has issued a ‘buy’ note, with 440p price target on Cineworld shares after yesterday’s trading update. He said: “Cineworld has delivered an impressively solid performance in what was a difficult year in general for cinema. This bodes well that the group can convert what looks like being a strong recovery in cinema admissions in 2015, driven by a high quality film slate of potential blockbusters. However, we also believe there is a further rerating opportunity as Cineworld demonstrates that returns are coming through and the pipeline crystallises. The shares have enjoyed a dramatic rerating over the past couple of months. In part this reflects the solid performance in 2014, but also growing recognition of the strength of the film line-up in 2015 and 2016. Our view remains that the recovery in cinema could be significantly stronger than the market is generally anticipating. Furthermore, we believe that as evidence comes through to support returns in CEE and the pipeline of new sites is delivered, the potential for a further rerating is significant.”
 
Hotel Du Vin and Malmaison sale process begins: Sky News has reported that the owner of Hotel du Vin and Malmaison has begun a sale process which is expected to draw interest from a range of international investors. KSL Capital Partners, which acquired Malmaison Group in 2012, and advisers at the investment bank UBS have begun circulating financial information about the company to prospective buyers. The launch of the process is earlier than expected, and will lead to offers for the chains being lodged during the first week of February, said Sky. KSL, a private equity firm based in Denver, Colorado, could opt not to pursue a sale if bids are not attractive. Hotel du Vin and Malmaison, which trade from nearly 30 sites across the UK, were previously owned by MWB Group, which fell into administration in November 2012.

Wadworth brews new beer for Craft Beer Rising: Wadworth has brewed a new beer for the Craft Beer Rising festival – a Coriander and Lemongrass beer that has been created especially for the show. The company will also be serving 6X, zesty Bishops Tipple, light and refreshing Horizon and the very popular rum-enriched Swordfish.
 
Blunos restaurant in Bath closes: A Bath restaurant that was run by Michelin-starred celebrity chef Martin Blunos has closed less than 12 months after it opened. The decision to close the Pulteney Road restaurant is believed to have been taken by the owners of the premises, which is based within the County Hotel. Blunos said: “The owner decided to close the restaurant, a decision that was nothing to do with me. I’m saddened to see that what was potentially a great business is no longer operating. We were packed and receiving brilliant reviews and had an efficient team delivering a good product, which was proving to be hugely popular with the people of Bath. However, I wish the owner every success with whatever direction he has chosen to go with the premises.”

Bacardi confirms Mike Dolan as chief executive: Bacardi has named Mike Dolan as its permanent chief executive after hiring him in an interim role last May. Dolan, who previously served as chief executive of IMG Worldwide, was named permanent chief executive by chairman Facundo Bacardi in a letter to shareholders in November. The family-owned company didn’t publicise the new designation, which was confirmed Tuesday. The owner of Bacardi rum and Dewar’s Scotch whisky has had churned through three chief executives in a decade before putting Dolan, a Bacardi board member, in the interim role. It also has struggled to increase sales in recent years. Bacardi’s volume declined 1.6% in 2013, according to alcohol industry tracker IWSR.
 
PoundPub to be franchised after success of first three sites: The PoundPub concept, which sells pints for £1.50 and half pints for £1, is to be offered as a franchise from Easter by owner Here For You Hospitality after its success at the first three venues to trial it. The first conversion to PoundPub, a site in Atherton, Greater Manchester has quadrupled volumes in its first full year with the other two sites showing similar trading gains. A fourth venue under the fascia is due to open in Wavertree, Liverpool next Tuesday (20 January). Managing director Mike Wardell told Propel: “The pubs converted to the PoundPub format were located in ex-industrial, working class towns where competition is still pretty tough because there are still a lot of pubs. They were just ticking along, making trading loses in some cases. It was a case of doing something drastic or closing. We changed the signage and made sure they were clean and tidy and serving good products. 85% of sales are now draught beer. It’s a question of whether you want your bar staff selling five pints an hour or 55 pints an hour, as one of the sites averaged during December.” Wardell said the next opening in Liverpool has already created a social media stir with 5,000 Facebook likes. “I think we’ll do exceptionally well – it’s a heavily populated area.” The company is currently working on a basic food offer to add to the drinks offer. “There is still work to do on the brand – we weren’t expecting it to go so well. But we’re now working on a franchise, which we’re hoping to be able to offer by Easter. We hope it will an attractive, low-cost option for those wondering what to do with this kind of pub.” The existing PoundPub sites are all free-of-tie. Here for You Hospitality operates a total of ten pubs and two hotels. Wardell told The Liverpool Echo this week that the idea behind the brand was “going back to the basics of what a pub should be about and being the hub of the community”. He added: “We pride ourselves on extremely well-managed venues where the licensing objectives, which prevent irresponsible drinking, are at the forefront of our business. Alcohol can be bought cheaper in the supermarkets. In our existing venues we have proved that concerns are unfounded. I think our critics need to give the general public more credit and realise that they are looking for good value, not necessarily to consume more.”
 
Actor Neil Morrissey launches new pub company with Punch site: Actor Neil Morrissey is launching a new pub company, MSW Pub Company, with a £400,000 refurbishment of a Punch Taverns site, the Plume of Feathers in Barlaston, Staffordshire. The move comes after Morrissey set up Neil Morrissey Real Ale Company in partnership with businessman Richard Slingsby last year. The company supplies Crystal Palace Football Club among others, producing three ales under licence – a fourth ale is to be produced to mark the re-opening of the Plume of Feathers. Slingsby told Propel: “Neil has a real passion for real ale and we saw that a natural extension of the real business would be to move into the pub business. An important part of this business is that Neil will be visible within the pub.” The company’s acronymn stands for Morrissey Slingsby Waddington, with James Waddington, the well-regarded founder of Inglenook Inns, overseeing the operational side of the pub business. The canal-side Plume of Feathers shut for extensive refurbishments on 5 January and will reopen on Friday 6 March. A Punch Taverns spokesman said: “We are delighted and really excited to be working with Neil and his team on the substantial investment at the Plume of Feathers and looking forward to opening for trade.” The actor previously went into business with celebrity chef Richard Fox setting up a company, Morrissey Fox Inns, which ran Ye Olde Punch Bowl Inn in Marton-cum-Grafton but which folded in 2009. Previously, the actor was reported to owe £2.5m fortune after failed investments in three famous leisure properties in Laugharne on the Carmarthenshire coast. Morrissey and his former business partner bought the bohemian country hotel Hurst House in 2001, and owned stakes in two one-time haunts of celebrated Welsh poet Dylan Thomas – Brown’s Hotel and the New Three Mariners. Their company later went into liquidation.

Vanessa Hall and Steve Cash to take part in Professor Chris Edger’s Multi-Site Management Masterclass: YO! Sushi chief executive Vanessa Hall and former Harvester brand director Steve Cash are to feature in live sessions held within Professor Chris Edger, Multi-Site Management Masterclass, being held in partnership with Propel, on Tuesday 24 February at One Moorgate Place, in the City of London. Professor Edger, who has just published his latest book, Leading at a Distance in Multi-Unit Enterprises, will focus on how area managers can create organic growth through the three-step process of engagement, execution and evolution. Professor Edger currently teaches at City University, Birmingham, where a number of the sector’s leading companies send their general managers to be taught. Darren King, last month’s winner of 2014 ALMR Operations Manager award, graduated from its post-graduate Level 7 Multi-Unit Leadership and Strategy course in 2014 – as did the 2013 ALMR Operations Manager winner Barrie Robinson in 2013. Paul Charity, managing director of Propel, said: “This is a great chance for multi-site companies to refresh their thinking – and the thinking and expertise of key staff – as 2015 gets under way.” Tickets are £295 plus VAT for ALMR members and £345 for non-ALMR members. CLICK HERE for more details or email adam.dickinson@propelinfo.com to book.

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