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Tue 20th Jan 2015 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Matthew Clark reports record Christmas with £100m plus of sales: Wholesaler Matthew Clark is celebrating a bumper Christmas, which saw December sales break £100m, marking its most successful month ever, bolstered by strong performances across its premium wine portfolio. The success was contributed to by Matthew Clark’s online ordering platform, which saw record sales this Christmas, with sales via this platform up 45% year-on-year, and a 68% uplift in customers ordering online. Matthew Clark saw a surge in wine and Champagne sales this December within many of their top tier customer segments; wine sales to boutique hotels grew by 24.06%, while Champagne sales to the ‘quality local’ sector were up 37.8% on 2013. Across the board, Matthew Clark wine sales grew by 3%. The sparkling category went from strength to strength, with a 20% growth in volume year-on-year, with both Champagne and Prosecco reporting strong growth – adding 7% and 43% to their respective volumes. Among the categories that have contributed to Matthew Clark’s success are Argentina which grew by 18%, and England, which grew by 58% largely due to Matthew Clark’s successful partnerships with English wineries including Chapel Down. Sales in the capital enjoyed double digit growth in December, with Matthew Clark’s accounts within the M25 showing 13.3% growth year-on-year, three times that of the wider market at 4.4%. (Coffer Peach Business Tracker powered by Demographix 15th January 2015) Ian Smith, commercial director at Matthew Clark, said: “We are delighted with our Christmas results, which reflect Matthew Clark’s ongoing commitment in supporting the on-trade and delivering quality and exceptional service to all our customers. Our dedication to developing our online ordering platform in line with customer needs is reflected in the very pleasing sales figures through this channel. Our wine-buying team works hard to source high quality wines from around the world, which is reflected in our successes with both premium wines and customer segments.”

Industry News:

Paul Flatters to present at Propel Multi Club Conference in March: Trajectory partnership managing director Paul Flatters is to present at the next Propel Multi Conference on Thursday 12 March, held at the Lancaster Hotel, London. Flatters looks at the key current consumer trends that are affecting foodservice operators – and the future shocks that will shape the sector. Operators of multi-site companies can book up to two free places by emailing adam.dickinson@propelinfo.com

Bourdain to open New York mega-market: Chef Anthony Bourdain will launch his own mega-market in New York City this year. Called Bourdain Market, the new dining hall will offer a variety of food options from 40 to 50 vendors around the world. It will be based on the popular open-market hawker centres in Singapore, which serve a wide variety of inexpensive food in a communal dining hall. “It will be fast and accessible foods, with hundreds of options,” he told the Wall Street Journal. Bourdain has yet to reveal the location and opening date of his upcoming venture, though it is thought it will be located in a major building landmark.

Casino giant in bankruptcy protection owes Gordon Ramsay $307,000: Court papers lodged for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection by casino giant Caesars Entertainment, which underwent a $30.7 billion buyout in 2008, shows debts to Gordon Ramsay and Nobu. Among the 50 creditors owed the most and listed as unsecured are Gordon Ramsay, who is owed $307,479. Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill locations are inside Caesars Palace and planned for its Caesars Atlantic City property. Meanwhile Nobu, the restaurant chain co-founded by actor Robert De Niro, has a location inside Caesars Palace in Las Vegas and is owed $459,964.

Pizza Hut leverages Creme Egg controversy with Twitter prank: Pizza Hut has leveraged the controversy over the changed Cadbury’ Creme Egg recipe by launching a picture on Twitter of a supposed Cadbury Creme Egg-stuffed pizza due to launch at Easter. The pizza launch was a prank by Pizza Hut’s marketing team but sparked extensive social media discussion of the merits or otherwise.

Multi-site site companies sign up for Professor Chris Edger’s Multi-Site Management Masterclass: A host of multi-site companies have signed up for 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. They include: Wahaca, Boston Tea Party, Restaurant Group, Paul UK, Beds and Bars, Columbo Group, McMullen, McManus Pub Company, Meatailer, Intertain, Eddie Rockets, Amber Taverns, City Pub Company, Jamie Oliver, Rhode Island Coffee, My Lahore, Little Gems Country Dining, Porkys, Antic London, Star Pubs and Bars and Bill’s. 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.
 
Technomic forecasts 3.2% market growth in 2015: Market insights firm Technomic has forecast 2015 UK industry growth of 3.2%. “The foodservice market is moving in a positive direction and steady growth is evident, led by strengthening performance for operators in the commercial sector,” said David Henkes, Technomic vice president. “The cost sector is subject to slower growth, but improvements at the macroeconomic level will boost business slightly next year.” Henkes pointed out that while the market will improve overall in 2015, some segments such as quick-service restaurants and food-led pubs are doing better than other segments. One particularly bright spot in the industry is the travel and leisure foodservice segment, which is expected to grow 5.5% in 2015. This is a result of ongoing improvements in the hotel/lodging sector and greater inbound tourism.
 
ALMR launches ninth annual Benchmarking Survey: The Association of License Multiple Retailers (ALMR) has launched the ninth edition of its annual Benchmarking Survey and is calling on licensed hospitality businesses of all trading styles to contribute. The annual report, produced in partnership with agent Christie + Co, provides a complete overview of operating costs for pubs, bars, nightclubs and restaurants and is used extensively by the ALMR in its lobbying efforts. Past Benchmarking Reports have been used to effectively influence policy on issues such as National Minimum Wage, business rates reform and PPL proposals; as well as providing accurate information on rental valuations for commercial leases and changes to gaming machine stakes and prizes. ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “Our annual Benchmarking Report is one of our most useful tools when it comes to engaging with policy makers and lobbying on behalf of the trade. We have presented our report to politicians for the past eight years, explaining the true cost of operating in licensed hospitality. The Benchmarking Report remains the most authoritative and extensive of its kind due to the widespread participation of ALMR members and non-members alike. In order to ensure that the report remains as robust as ever we are calling on all licensed hospitality business to take part this year. We have also included an additional casual dining trading style in this year’s survey to reflect, not just the sector’s evolving landscape, but also the challenges food-led business face, such as menu labelling. The survey is open to all licensed hospitality operators, regardless of whether they are ALMR members or not. With your continued support we can make sure this document remains as authoritative as ever.” A copy of the survey can be downloaded from the ALMR website.
 
Orderella wins Star Product Award at Hospitality Show: Orderella, the cashless app that lets users beat the queue in bars and clubs, has been named the overall Star Product Award winner at this year’s Hospitality Show, which is held every two years at the NEC in Birmingham. For the Star Product Award, the top ten were decided based on a huge number of exhibitor entries from across food and drink, catering equipment and technology. Orderella offers innovative mobile ordering and payment services across the hospitality sector, turning a smartphone into a mobile waiter. Dennis Collett, chief executive of Orderella, said: “We are delighted to have been recognised by our industry peers with this award, which is always hotly contested and showcases the best of the hospitality sector. Today’s mobile technology is a great enabler for the pubs, bars and restaurants we serve and we are extremely proud of what we have achieved in a relatively short period of time. In 2015 we are continuing to focus on meeting the emerging needs of this increasingly tech-savvy industry and the customers they serve.” 

Company News:

Meantime to double production with £6m funding package: One of London’s most distinctive craft breweries is doubling beer production and further expanding overseas with a £6 million funding package from HSBC. Greenwich-based Meantime, which manufactures the popular Meantime Pale and Yakima Red, will use the £6 million funding package to increase beer production from 90,000 hectolitres annually to 175,000 hectolitres – or 37 million pints – to satisfy higher demand. This funding package includes invoice financing and equipment finance, which have allowed Meantime to import brewing equipment from continental Europe without impacting cash flow. The funding package also includes a £1.4 million loan and £1 million in trade financing, which will help Meantime to increase distribution of its beer abroad. Currently sold largely in supermarkets and pubs in the London area, the company is monthly selling into new pubs and restaurants across the UK, and increasing exports abroad, such as to the US. Meantime began its business banking relationship with HSBC in February 2014 as exports of its beers to international markets were starting to become a key feature for growth. They felt that HSBC, rather than their previous bank, could provide better services as they increased exports. In fact, chief executive Nick Miller attended an HSBC trade mission to Istanbul earlier this year, where he met new potential distributors. Meantime Brewing’s chief executive Nick Miller said: “Craft brewers such as Meantime are giving the UK drinks industry a shot in the arm by bringing taste, quality and innovation back to the industry. We have been experiencing strong demand for both our beers and our tours, but we aren’t just chasing growth for growth’s sake. We want to make sure our drinks are in the pubs and stores which share the same values of our brand and 120-person strong staff.”

Brunning & Price to convert Chobham site, plans to open the Hayhurt Arms in February: Brunning & Price, the gastro-pub division of The Restaurant Group, is to re-open Blubeckers at The White Hart in Chobham as a Brunning & Price pub. The pub closed its doors for the last time on Sunday 4 January and is undergoing a ten-week refurbishment to convert it to the gastro brand. Meanwhile, Brunning & Price will re-open the Hayhurst Arms in Bostock Green in the first week of February, a little later than the original January opening plan. The pub is a conversion of The former Bostock Green Village Social Club. Tatton Estate Management has granted a new 50-year lease to Brunning and Price for the social club, which closed in December 2012. The pub restaurant’s name pays tribute to a family who lived in the nearby Bostock Hall and created the village.

Simon French – Greene King trading statement is “disappointing”: Cenkos leisure analyst Simon French has described yesterday’s trading statement from Greene King as “disappointing” with flat like-for-like sales in its managed pubs for the six weeks to 11 January compared to his forecast of 3.5% and a market up circa 3% (Coffer Peach Tracker +2.8% for six weeks to 3 January). He said: “Of note, the group highlights 2.0% like-for-like sales growth over the two week Christmas and New Year period but weak trading in Scotland, strong trading in London and food-led pubs although generally weak trading since the New Year. After 36 weeks total sales are up 5.9% and like-for-like sales are up 0.6%. In Pub Partners (tenanted and leased pubs), like-for-like net income is up 2.8% after 36 weeks compared to 3.4% after 28 weeks. Own-brewed brewing volumes were up 5.2% after 36 weeks reflecting growth of 3.7% over the last weeks. We expect current year consensus forecasts to fall by 1-2% (consensus £171m profit before tax). However, the Spirit Pub Company acquisition remains the key catalyst for the stock to re-rate and any dips in the share price should be used as a buying opportunity for a stock that is inexpensive on a CY 2015E P/E of 11.8x and an adj EV/Ebitdar of 9.1x whilst yielding 4.1%.”

Wagamama set to open in Bedford: Wagamama’s has announced it has signed up to open at Bedford’s Riverside North development. Other tenants include a seven screen Vue cinema, 100-bedroom Premier Inn hotel, Zizzi, Chimichanga, Bella Italia, and Harvester. Wagamama is set to open in late 2016. Located on the banks of the River Great Ouse, the development will also include a new public square and new footbridge linking the site to St Mary’s Gardens. Colin McQueston, director of Bedford Riverside Regeneration Limited, said: “We are delighted to have Wagamama on board for the scheme. They are proving very popular across the country and despite the challenging economic climate show there is real interest from new occupiers to come to Bedford, and specifically to the Riverside North scheme. In addition to the tenants already signed, we are currently in discussions with a number of further well-known brands who are keen to take up space in the scheme.”

Ted Kennedy appointed non-executive director at Duck and Rice: Industry veteran Ted Kennedy has been appointed a non-executive director at Duck and Rice, the Chinese gastro-pub concept that restaurateur Alan Yau is set to open at the former Endurance pub in Soho’s Berwick Street. Kennedy is a former chief executive of Mill House Inns, the managed operator acquired by Punch Taverns, owns Pebble Hotels and has been operating several hundred pubs for the past five years, previously operated by companies such as GRS Pubs and Pubfolio that went into administration.

Wetherspoon to open £2m Cambuslang site: JD Wetherspoon is to open a £2m site in Cambuslang today (Tuesday, 20 January) – Cambuslang has a population of 24,050 and is six miles south-east of Glasgow city centre. The Sir John Fairweather is based in the old Savoy cinema and bingo hall. Named after the celebrated architect who designed the building, it will feature one bar and a beer garden, as well as photos, artwork and information relating to the site and the town. The original cinema projector will also be featured.

Leading Belfast restaurateur backs quitting colleague: Leading Belfast restaurateur Bob McCoubrey, who owns the acclaimed Mourne Seafood Bar, has backed a fellow entrepreneur, Emma Bricknell, who is quitting business in Northern Ireland in protest at red tape. “If someone offered me the money, I’d leave,” McCoubrey told The Belfast Telegraph. “It’s very tough to do business. You are nothing more than a glorified tax collector at times.” McCoubrey operates four restaurants in Northern Ireland and one in Dublin. “In Dublin rates are a third of what they are in Belfast and VAT is 9% compared to 20% here. Staff wages are higher but I would rather pay them than give money over to the taxman.” McCoubrey described the process of obtaining a license to sell alcohol in Belfast as “outdated and archaic”. He added: “You have to employ solicitors and barristers and then have to rely on the whim of a judge. It can cost up to £9,000 whereas in England I could fill out a few forms for a council and pay around £300. I asked Invest NI for help in translating my website into Chinese to help attract tourists – and they laughed at me.”

Hawksmoor to open Manchester site in March: London steak restaurant Hawksmoor will open its first Manchester venue on 5 March at The Courthouse building on Deansgate. A soft launch period will start on 19 February through to 4 March, where diners can eat for 50% of the usual rate. Co-founder Will Beckett told the Manchester Evening News: “We’ve been coming to Manchester for a few years now and have really enjoyed the bars and restaurants up here. We think there’s a place for what we do in Manchester and we love that the dining scene is so vibrant here at the moment.” The restaurant will be based in the Grade II listed Courthouse building, which was built in 1896.

Second Middle East JazzRoom@PizzaExpress set to open: The second JazzRoom@PizzaExpress is to open in the Middle East, this time located in Abu Dhabi. Jazz@PizzaExpress opened in Dubai’s JLT district in February 2013. The new site is located on the fifth floor of the World Trade Centre Mall, and will be the eighth PizzaExpress outlet to open in the UAE. With both indoor seating and an outdoor terrace available, the restaurant will be able to seat 220. “Given the popularity of the Jazz@PizzaExpress concept in Dubai, we felt Abu Dhabi was the next logical destination. There is more than sufficient demand and the right target audience, and the capital city has a thriving food, beverage and hospitality market,” said Anand Radia, managing director of PizzaExpress UAE. “The PizzaExpress experience has given many thousands of diners in Dubai something very different and we now want to bring this to Abu Dhabi. On top of the wide selection of dishes on our menu, there is no doubt the calibre of musicians and artistes we attract has been integral to our success.”

Pop-up fish restaurant seeks permanent base through crowd-funding: A pop-up restaurant entrepreneur is hoping to establish a more permanent site for his fish bar through a crowdfunding campaign. Adam Riley, who runs Riley’s Fish Shack at Tynemouth’s King Edwards Bay, is hoping to raise £20,000 to build a semi-portable fish bar and grill using shipping containers. The food entrepreneur launched Riley’s Fish Shack in May 2012, using an empty, concreted space next to the beach to serve grilled fish from each weekend over the summer months. Riley now intends to launch a more permanent base on which to build his business, and hopes to operate outside of the summer season, in all weather. He has lined up three prospective locations for the “Tackle Box”, including the existing King Edward’s Bay site. He expects to open for business in Spring this year, in time for the Tynemouth Food Festival in May. He said: “The Fish Shack was so busy last summer, we were inundated. This is about giving our customers something new. I really like the idea of having a semi-permanent base, which could potentially be transported to different sites. It could be moved up the coast to different beaches.” The crowdfunding campaign offers backers a range of rewards based on the value of their donation – from having a lobster cooked at a location of their choice, through private catering for a special event to a lifetime of Fish Shack meals.

Entrepreneur plans Leeds music academy and nightclub: Entrepreneur Dave Beer is planning to open a music academy and nightclub in the same building in Leeds. He’s secured the backing of businessman Joseph Corre, the co-founder of Agent Provocateur and son of Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McClaren. He told The Yorkshire Evening Post: “I want to create a new music academy in Leeds. I have always wanted to open a music academy. It will be a creative space. This is all about leaving a legacy for the city and giving young people another set of options. We want to open a music academy and have a nightclub in the same building. It will offer BA honours and national diplomas in music technology, film, photography and we’re also looking to work with dance groups. Students will be able to get hands-on training because there will be a venue on the premises, which will essentially help pay for the academy.” A building in the city’s East Parade had been considered for the scheme. Beer said: “We were gazzumped. It’s a real shame because the building would have been perfect. At the moment, we are on the lookout for another building, so if there is anyone out there who can help us, we’d love to hear from them. At this stage, that’s all we need.”

Brewer to mark tenth anniversary by opening a pub: Moorlands-based brewery Peakstones Rock will celebrate its tenth anniversary year by opening a new pub. It began selling its beer at Cheadle Beer Festival in 2005 and will now open a pub on Uttoxeter Road, in Blythe Bridge, in March. A premises licence has been granted by Staffordshire Moorlands District Council, and building work is now due to begin. Dave Edwards, from Peakstones Rock, whose son James will be the licensee of the new pub, said: “We’re really happy that it’s going to be happening. It’s a great way to mark what will be our tenth anniversary.”

McDonald’s defends “tragedies signs” advertising campaign: McDonald’s has defended its latest US advertising campaign after it “sparked commentary” from social media users saying they were exploiting tragedies. The advert shows restaurant signs with messages that have been written for community members over the years. “We Remember 9 11,” reads one sign. Another, saying “Boston Strong” refers to the marathon bombing which killed three people “The powerful Signs commercial has sparked commentary from consumers, and we’re happy to see that,” McDonald’s said in a statement. “It is part of our campaign to listen more and have a deeper conversation with our customers, and this ad is achieving that. We’ve seen some strong praise and some negative comments. We expect that, and we welcome it.”

Ridley Inns chooses Spirit leased site for second pub: Family-owned Ridley Inns has made a £250,000 co-investment with Spirit leased for its second site, The Highlands in Uckfield. Ridley Inns is owned by Ian and Valerie Ridley, with their sons Nick and Matt. Ridley Inns also operates another pub in the area, the Cock Inn in Ringmoor. Chris Welham, managing director of Spirit Leased, said: “Ian and his family are experienced pub operators with a great reputation in the area. Their focus on fantastic service and creating a wonderful atmosphere is testament to the success we now see at the pub. They have certainly put this pub back on the map for Uckfield and surrounding area.”

Whitbread set open £4m Clacton Premier inn next month: Whitbread will open a £4m seafront hotel in Clacton on 23 February. The Premier Inn is currently being built in Marine Parade West, overlooking the seafront gardens. The hotel will have 66 bedrooms and create up to 22 new jobs. There will also be a restaurant. The seafront site was once occupied by the historic Waverley Hotel, which dated back to 1878, but was most recently run as a Comfort Hotel until it closed in November 2012.

McDonald’s and Pret A Manger supplier reports profit drop: Natures Way Foods, which supplies salads and fruit to McDonald’s and Pret A Manger, has broken the £120m revenue mark but reported a drop in profitability following a “challenging” year. The company, which specialises in bagged salads, prepared fruit and salad bowls, said its latest financial year to 28 March 2014 has been tough for the industry as a whole. Turnover for the year grew from £113m to £121.5m but Ebitda fell from £12.2m to £10.6m. The business’s pre-tax profits dropped from £6.3m to £4.9m.

Burger King UK launches Angry Birds tie-in: The UK arm of Burger King has begun offering Angry Birds themed kids meals. Beginning yesterday (19 January) and running until 1 March, a number of the brand’s characters from Angry Birds Go and Stella will adorn the chain’s packaging, with toys – which include puzzles, stencils and DLC codes – bundled into the meals. Stores will be decorated with posters and window stencils. “We are always looking for ways to innovative the guest experience,” marketing director for Northern Europe, Russia and Africa Matthew Bresnahan said. “The Angry Birds franchise is well-known for crossing all generations and offers the perfect opportunity for us to connect with all members of the family.”

Low impact, low offer KFC in Leicester could be demolished: A KFC restaurant could be demolished because the owners of a Leicester retail park say it gives a “low impact, low offer” impression of the complex. The branch is prominently placed at the entrance to the St George’s Retail Park, off Humberstone Road but could be flattened and replaced with a new “stunning” building as a focal point on the roundabout. The park’s owners, the trustees of the St George’s Leicester Unit Trust, have applied to Leicester City Council for planning permission to get rid of the existing restaurant. A spokesman for the trustees said it had still not been decided if there would be any space in the new building for KFC to move back into.

Multi-site licensee makes £500,000 co-investment with Punch Taverns: Licensee Mujdat Karatas has made a £500,000 co-investment with Punch Taverns at The Railway Inn, on Biddulph Road in Congleton. He also manages The Horseshoe in Church Lawton. He said: “We have had to do some extensions to give more room for customers who want to come here, and we’ve also renovated the existing buildings, and everything has gone very well so far. We’ve been very busy since we reopened, and the feedback from the customers has been tremendous – people are really happy to see the pub back open again, and I’m confident that it’s going to do well.” Mujdat has also teamed up with Somerset-based Cottage Brewing Company to create The Railway Inn’s own beer.

Oppo raises £300,000 on crowd-funding platform: Healthy, luxury ice cream start-up Oppo raised over £300,000, and closed a crowdfunding campaign just days after going public on Seedrs. The campaign – backed by Gü Puds managing director Mark Escolme – passed its initial £100,000 objective within minutes. Fraternal founders Charlie and Harry Thuillier turned their backs on an offer from a venture capitalist (VC) firm and opted instead for crowdfunding to give customers and consumers the chance to share in the growth of the company. The funds will be used to grow the team, up production and heighten brand awareness in a market where the premium category has increased to £275m. Oppo managing director Charlie Thuillier said: “We were told that even if we had millions to invest in developing a healthy yet indulgent ice cream, getting the mouth-feel right would be impossible. Sometimes not knowing the rules makes them easier to break. Creating Oppo took 25 months of research, three different factories, two specialised food research centres, and four grants from Santander, York University and the British government before we finally had a delicious healthy ice cream. Surpassing our initial target and raising over £300,000 is an incredible milestone in the Oppo journey.”

Coca-Cola sponsorship sends London Eye red: The London Eye was re-branded with a red glow over the weekend in a sponsorship deal with Coca-Cola. The 443ft wheel on the capital’s South Bank was lit up as part of a two-year deal with the soft drinks company, which was announced in September for an undisclosed sum. Health campaigners handed out toothbrushes next to the wheel on Saturday to protest against the new deal. They claim Coca-Cola’s sponsorship sends out the wrong message to children and their parents about healthy lifestyles.

St Austell launches London taxi campaign: St Austell Brewery has launched a London-based taxi advertising campaign, promoting its flagship beer Tribute Cornish Pale Ale. The full livery advertising campaign will run for 12 months on taxis across Central London. The campaign informs taxi users where they can pick up a pint of the traditional Cornwall favourite in the Capital, without the need to take a ‘five hour cab ride’ down to the South West. The eye-catching purple exterior will stand out amongst the hustle and bustle of the city centre traffic, while the interior tip seat adverts feature a handy map, directing passengers to their nearest thirst-quenching pint of Tribute. St Austell beers are now available in over 350 pubs and bars within the M25.

Brighton coffee company to open shellfish and craft beer pub: Entrepreneurs Brad Jacobson and Nigel Lambe, who own Brighton-based Small Batch Coffee Company, are set to open a specialist craft beer and shellfish pub. The Urchin will replace The Bell Pub, on Belfast Street, Hove, and is due open towards the end of the month. The Urchin Craft Beer and Shellfish pub will boast an extensive craft beer menu of more than 100 varieties sourced locally and from around the world. Executive chairman Nigel Lambe is also behind the Velo Cafe at The Level, entrepreneur-in-residence at City College Brighton and Hove and is former chief executive of Horsham brewer WJ King. He told The Brighton Argus: “The site came up for sale and we thought it was in a great location with great potential. We’re pretty excited because this kind of thing hasn’t really been done in Brighton and Hove before. It’s a place that’s famous for its seafood and though there are fish restaurants there aren’t really any dedicated to shellfish. People are getting more fussy and discerning about where they spend their money. Quality pubs and restaurants in the city are doing really well. The more high quality places there are, the better it is for everyone. I am sure there’s the appetite for it.” It will serve predominantly prawns, lobster, crab and scallops, matched with beer, as well as an extensive wine list.

Draft House secures seventh site, opens next month: London craft beer business Draft House, led by Charlie McVeigh and backed by sector investor Luke Johnson, has acquired a seventh site, The Laurie Arms on Shepherds Bush Road, which will re-open on 26 February. Draft House acquired the remainder of an Enterprise free-of-tie lease from local publican Dennis McCarthy for circa £200,000. The venue will pay homage to the nearby Hammersmith Palais, which was recently demolished. Draft House added the Birdcage pub in east London last year – and reported like-for-like sales growth of 8% over the Christmas period. McVeigh said: “The interior and playlist will be a celebration of the Hammersmith Palais, demolished in 2013. Many of us have happy, sweaty, pogo-ing memories of the Palais and a little bit of me died when I heard it was being torn down. Original gig posters and photos from the interior will serve as a permanent memorial to the place.” Draft House will restore the pub’s interior, complete with original ten-foot stained-glass windows, which adorn the frontage. Ochre-yellow upholstered steel-framed benches with fluted backs will line the 100-cover pub, and will be lit by antique French ceramic pendants, as well as clusters of glass orbs with golden flex. There are original brick walls and Victorian pitch pine cladding, which will be painted with song lyrics from the Palais, and hung with found artworks from McVeigh’s collection. A neighbouring industrial unit will be brought into the pub’s demise. Its glazed pitched roof will be half covered with stretched canvas and fine wire-mesh, with its north-lights remaining exposed. An oak bar will be overhung by racked glassware and metal trough lights. Draft House will serve a hand-crafted pie menu. Optics cocktails will be served, created by Max Chater of Bump Caves – the bar and distillery recently opened by Draft House in Bermondsey. Optics cocktails, dispensed from traditional three-litre pub optics bottles will include The Manhattan, Bump Martini, and Bump Hi-Bye (all at £5.00). The Hammersmith site was acquired through agent Davis Coffer Lyons. The company is in negotiations on an eighth site.
 
Innventure seeks to expand two sites: Innventure, the six-strong gastro-operator led by former Mitchells & Butlers executive Chris Gerard, is looking to expand two of its sites. The company has submitted a application in to expand its Greene King–owned d’Arry’s site in Cambridge by creating an upstairs bar with a New York-style roof terrace. The upstairs area houses a Victorian brewery. The site was destroyed by fire a few years ago and it was re-built to allow the fascia to be taken off and the area glazed. The company is also currently seeking a managing partner for the d’Arry’s site, which turns over more than £1m a year. The position comes with accommodation above the business, an agreed basic salary and a bonus scheme equating to 20% of the bottom line profit. Meanwhile, Innventure has secured planning consent to convert an old barn building behind its Crosse Keys site in Saffron Walden, a Charles Wells-owned freehold, into four additional boutique bedrooms to add to the existing six. Last year, Gerard also launched a franchise business – Charles Wells worked with Gerard to open the d’Parys hotel in Bedford under a new vehicle called Apostrophe Pubs. The site is a finalist in the ‘Best New Pub’ category of The Publican Awards. Asked whether Innventure plans to add pubs, Gerard told Propel: “The question is how much anyone can eat – and I don’t feel there’s much to prove having run sizeable businesses. Innventure is producing more than £1m a year of Ebitda and the franchise business is generating significant amounts of cash.” 

Bonnie Gull undergoes format tweak: Bonnie Gull Seafood Café in Exmouth Market is to reopen as Bonnie Gull Seafood Bar in Exmouth Market on 3 February. Many will know it in its former guise as Bonnie Gull Seafood Cafe. Co-founder Alex Hunter said: “After eight months trading at Exmouth Market we’ve decided to make a few tweaks to the style of the restaurant. Moving to a small plates menu will allow diners the option to pop in for a quick glass and plate of something delicious at the bar as well as a full sit-down lunch or dinner. We expect Bonnie Gull Seafood Bar to be a lively, energetic bar and restaurant showcasing the best of British seafood and more.” Bonnie Gull Seafood Bar features some new design elements such as a reclaimed 1950’s gymnasium floor and an extensive collection of framed photographs of their suppliers by Chris Cooper. An ‘oyster table’ fashioned from an old barrel is perfect for those wanting to grab a quick bite whilst soaking up the atmosphere of the bar area, which will extend out onto the terrace during the summer months. The marble bar is being extended and glasses will be stored on a suspended rope and wood display along with a neon ‘seafood bar’ sign. Guests will be able to sit at the bar watching the chefs and barmen at work. The bar will retain its original vintage jukebox playing a selection of Northern Soul, 60’s Ska and Rock ‘n’ Roll.

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