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Fri 23rd Jan 2015 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Starbucks reports global like-for-likes up 5%, record profitability in Europe: Starbucks has reported a global 5% increase in like-for-like sales in its First Quarter, the 13 weeks to 28 December. In Europe, like-for-likes were up 4%, driven by a 3% increase in footfall. Like-for-like store customer transactions increased by nearly nine million in the US, nearly 12 million globally, year-over-year. The company opened 512 net new stores in its First Quarter. Dollars loaded on Starbucks Cards surged to a record $1.6 billion in the quarter, up 17% over the prior year First Quarter. One in seven Americans received a Starbucks Gift Card in the First Quarter, up from one in eight in the First Quarter of fiscal 2014. The company added 896,000 new My Starbucks Rewards members in December and now has over nine million members “Starbucks record First Quarter financial and operating performance was exceptional by every metric and standard,” said Howard Schultz, chairman, president and chief executive. “Our re-imagined in-store holiday experience that included a vastly expanded assortment of Starbucks Cards, new holiday food, beverage and merchandise offerings and the opportunity to win ‘Starbucks for Life’ resonated powerfully with our customers and drove both increased traffic and tremendous excitement in our stores and around the Starbucks brand,” Schultz added. Scott Maw, Starbucks chief financial officer, said: “All segments contributed to our record results in the quarter, with improved traffic growth in the US, record profitability in Europe, Middle East and Africa and 8% like-for-likes in China and the Pacific. Our continued ability to drive growth through innovation, operational excellence and our unique customer connection, along with our sharp focus on financial discipline, give us confidence in reaffirming our growth targets for fiscal 2015.” Consolidated net revenues increased 13% to $4.8 billion.

Industry News:

David Page to appear at the next Propel Multi Club Conference in March: David Page is to take part in the next Propel Multi Club Conference on Thursday 12 March, held at the Lancaster Hotel, London. Page, arguably the most successful restaurant retailer of his generation, talks to Propel founder Paul Charity about his career, from PizzaExpress through Gourmet Burger Kitchen to the current seven brands he is involved with – MEATLiquor, the Real Greek, Wild Caper, Bukowski Charcoal Grill, Roca Di Papa, Franco Manca and Chill Box. Operators of multi-site companies can book up to two free places by emailing adam.dickinson@propelinfo.com

ALMR – pubs put young people on the radar: Responding to the news from the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee that too many young people are falling “off the radar”, the ALMR has advocated the licensed hospitality sector’s ability to offer productive career paths for youngsters and is urging training providers and local authorities to work more closely with the trade. The PAC issued a report that states that 148,000 16-to-18-year olds in England are not in education, employment or training. ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “One of the things our sector prides itself on is our ability to offer dynamic and rewarding career starts for youngsters who are leaving school or college. The ALMR’s employment survey shows that around a quarter of our workforce is under 20, with pub and bar work often a first job for many young people, offering transferable skills and rewarding career paths to the highest levels. Our businesses provide accommodation, food, hospitality and much more. We are therefore urging local authorities and training providers to work more closely with licensed hospitality businesses to ensure that young people do not find themselves without opportunities and allow ourselves to develop and encourage the business leaders of tomorrow.”
 
Sales at “breastaurant” sector in the US out-performs fast casual: Sales at the much-maligned “breastaurant” sector in the US, which includes Tilted Kilt, Twin Peaks and Brick House, have outperformed the fast casual segment in the last year, itself the best-performing part of the US restaurant industry. Tilted Kilt sales are up 15.2%, Twin Peak growth is 20.7% and Brick House rose 30% in sales terms – the fast casual sector is up 10%. The so-called “breastaurants” take inspiration from Hooters, the 30-year-old chain. The modern crop of ‘cleavage chains’ have updated the concept with fresher-looking spaces and menus better suited to today’s young people who are increasingly interested in artisanal food and craft beer. “Men are simple creatures and so you don’t have to get too crazy to get them in the door,” said Kristen Colby, the chain’s senior director of marketing, adding that all it takes is an ice-cold beer, sports on TV and beautiful girls.

Cinnamon chef receives honorary degree for culinary contribution: Modern Indian chef Vivek Singh has accepted an honorary degree from the University of Warwick, for his significant contribution to the culinary landscape of London and the development of Indian cuisine across the United Kingdom. Celebrating its 50th year, the University is honouring those who drive change through independent thinking and exceptional professional achievement, and decided to honour the executive chef of The Cinnamon Club, Cinnamon Kitchen and Cinnamon Soho, for his unique and authentic modern Indian culinary style, as well as his entrepreneurialism and significant charitable contributions. Vivek Singh said: “I am delighted to have been awarded an honorary degree from such a prestigious university.”
 
Save the Pub group MPs move to give pubs more conversion protection: MPs from the parliamentary Save the Pub group have laid an amendment to the Infrastructure Bill seeking to end pubs being demolished or turned into supermarkets without needing planning permission. Greg Mulholland MP, Chair of the parliamentary Save the Pub group, said: “If government is serious about localism and giving more power to communities, it must let them object when Tesco come in and want to turn their local pub into a supermarket. At the moment, Tesco don’t need planning permission to do so – this is not right, nor is it genuine localism. Communities deserve a say in the future of their local people. NC16 will give communities that say. The simple question is whether government and MPs support the right of communities to have a say, or whether they oppose it!”
 
Luke Johnson to write Sunday Times column: Sector investor Luke Johnson is leaving the Financial Times after seven years to join the Sunday Times. He will write a weekly business column for his new paper from 1 February. His sector investments include Patisserie Valerie, Laine Pub Company, Feng Sushi, Gail’s Bakery, Draft House, Red Hot World Buffet and Grand Union. He said. “I will be commenting on everything from start-ups to PLCs, ranging from the world of private equity to boardroom politics, and my experience across sectors like hospitality, the media industry, entertainment, retailing and travel.”

Company News:

UK’s largest independent nightclub company launches food concept: Tokyo Industries, the UK’s largest independent nightclub company, led by Aaron Mellor, is launching a food concept this evening, Get Baked. The company, which operates 26 venues and plans to launch seven more this year, calls it an “anti-concept” restaurant, a Leeds University campus-based ‘dirty burger and deserts hang-out’ with deliberately edgy ‘under the counter’ drinks menu. It’s set in the former Halo nightclub site, a large 1820s church on Woodhouse Lane in Leeds. Mellor told Propel: “It’s an interior that sits halfway between the dream sequence of ‘The Big Labowski’ and the roadside vampire distraction of Tarantino’s ‘Dusk Till Dawn’. Get Baked is Phase One of a much bigger project for the Halo site which, when revealed in September, will essentially become the coolest student union you’ve never seen. We’ve been relatively late to the food market but we found some genius food partners in Get Baked and we’ve quite a fast track plan to roll this out through student areas – we’ve already holding sites in Manchester’s Fallowfield and Newcastle.” Last year, Tokyo Industries quietly purchased seven large freehold nightclub sites from the PBR administration. The purchase included four Newcastle properties (City Vaults, Riverside, Waterside Hotel, Jimmyz), Klute in Durham, Halo in Leeds and the Cotton Factory in Huddersfield. The sites are trading but sit in a development pipeline before being brought into the Tokyo Industries wider portfolio one-by-one following repositioning and refurbishment. The Newcastle Bier Keller at City Vaults was the first to complete in December 2014, Get Baked, Leeds is the second site to be developed.

Survey of McDonald’s franchisees in the US reveals gloomy December and January: McDonald’s like-for-like sales fell 2.1% in December, and don’t seem to be improving in January, according to the latest franchisee survey by Janney Capital Markets analyst Mark Kalinowski. Surveyed franchisees estimated that January like-for-like sales would likely fall 1.7%, an early indication that McDonald’s efforts to reverse sales trends may not yet be taking hold. “We are somewhat surprised by the feedback we’ve received by franchisees regarding their expectations for January, as recent changes by McDonald’s – perhaps most notably to advertising – don’t seem to be generating any meaningful near-term lift in sales trends,” Kalinowski wrote in a note on Wednesday. 

Angela Malik struggles to attract investors to expand Modern Asian Deli: The entrepreneur Angela Malik, who launched a fund-raising push on Crowdcube to raise £350,000 to expand her Modern Asian Deli concept in return for 18.9% of the equity a month ago, has so far raised less than £2,000 from seven investors, 1% of her target with 18 days to go. Funds of £350,000 to £500,000 are being sought to support the opening of the next location(s), recruit a chief operating officer and provide working capital for the business. Total investment in the business is £832,000 to date. A third site is due to open in May 2015. The company forecast Ebitda of £2.227m by the end of financial year 2018 assuming 12 sites are open and operating. In the current year to March 2015, total sales are forecast to be £357,000 with a net loss of £328,000.
 
Former M&B food development manager joins Al Tayer Group: Former Mitchells & Butlers food development manager Paul Gamble has joined Dubai based Al Tayer Group as group executive chef responsible for ten international brands including Caffe Nero, Magnolia Bakery, Armani Caffe, Almaz by Momo and new addition to the portfolio Serendipity 3. He will also be responsible for new concept development. At Mitchells & Butlers, Gamble oversaw menu development within the Premium Country Dining Group gastro-pubs, went on to work in their other premium brands before heading to retail bakery business Jungs and, more recently, EAT.
 
Giggling Squid to open Salisbury restaurant, biggest site so far, on 31 March: Giggling Squid is to open in Salisbury, its biggest site so far, on 31 March. The Thai restaurant chain is opening at the Market Place site that was vacated by Strada and is planning to invest £150,000 to make it the biggest venue in the group with 150 seats. At the weekend, founder Andy Laurillard told Propel the company expects to hit £7.7m turnover in the current financial year with ten sites currently trading, with Ebitda of circa £1.4m and average site Ebitda of 23%. Average return on capital employed is 97%. He added: “It’s been an exciting 18 months, bringing great neighbourhood Thai restaurants to five new towns, dealing with a devastating flood in Hove and ramping up for further growth.”

Mitchells & Butlers buys Heavitree site for Toby Carvery development: Mitchells & Butlers has bought one of South Devon’s best known pubs – the Pen Inn on Penn Inn roundabout, Newton Abbot for a Toby Carvery development. Previous owner was Heavitree Brewery. Matt Bettesworth, of agent Bettesworths, which handled the sale on behalf of Heavitree Brewery, said: “The Pen Inn has always been a highly visible and popular site which obviously helped created the interest in the first place. A substantial investment by Mitchells and Butlers will certainly secure the pub’s success for future decades.”

Greene King wins premises licence for Hungry Horse site Oxford shopping park: Greene King has won a premises licence to build a Hungry Horse in Templars shopping park, Oxford, beating objections from local residents. The company already has three Hungry Horse sites operating in Oxford including the Bullnose Morris, also in Cowley, refurbished and re-branded as a Hungry Horse in 2013. Solicitor John Gaunt appeared on behalf of the company.
 
Simon French issues sell note on Wetherspoon shares as he cuts profit forecast: Cenkos leisure analyst Simon French has issued a ‘Sell’ note on JD Wetherspoon shares in the wake of slowing sales. He said: “We have cut our profit before tax forecasts by 10-14% per annum for the next three years following (the) disappointing trading update. Specifically Q2 like-for-like sales growth of 2.8% and a 6.9% Ebit margin clearly demonstrates that the near-term is going to be very challenging for Wetherspoon. We think consumers are trading up from value formats to higher average spend per head casual dining. On our revised forecasts the stock trades on a CY 2015E P/E of 16.4x and an adj EV/Ebitdar of 8.0x. This is too expensive for a stock that we now forecast will see profit before tax decline of circa 4% this year and with adj net debt/Ebitdar of 4.9x amongst the highest in the sector. We reiterate our ‘Sell’ recommendation.”
 
Cocktail guru opens Soho bar: Cocktail guru Tony Conigliaro has opened a new site, Bar Termini in Soho’s Old Compton Street. Conigliaro also operates Islington bar 69 Colebrooke Row. Newspaper City AM stated: “The cocktail menu is stripped down to a page – a lesson for bars everywhere. Following through with (an) Italian theme, Bar Termini specialises in variations of Negronis. Bar Termini is the first place in the area to be granted an alcohol licence in nearly a decade. Let’s hope this is the first of many and Soho will be London’s playground once again.”

Marston’s wins licence variation for new £1.45m Revere site: Marston’s has won a licence variation to allow it to develop a new Revere premium pub, the up-market pub format it launched two years ago. Following representations from a number of local residents a variation application by Marston’s in respect of The Mackworth Hotel, Ashbourne Road, near Derby went before the Amber Valley Borough Council Licensing Authority by way of a contested hearing. John Gaunt & Partners, representing Marston’s, obtained the grant of the variation which allowed both internal and external structural alterations as well as bringing forward the commencement hour for all licensable activities to 9am and extended the licensed area to cover various external areas of the premises, with no additional conditions being imposed. Marston’s is to invest circa £1.45m in the site, which is expected to reopen as the Farm House – Home of the Folly in early spring.
 
ETM Group to add walled garden to Ealing brewpub with brewing now underway: ETM Group, the London gastro-pub operator led by Tom and Ed Martin, is to add a walled garden this spring to its Ealing brewpub, the Ealing Park Tavern. The walled garden will offer ping pong tables, hammocks and six cabanas. The area will also be use for barbeques (open to all or available for smaller private parties) and hog roasts. Brewing is currently underway with the first tastings scheduled for next month. The pub also stocks more than 30 premium quality bottled and canned options including many one-off and limited availability brews. The pub’s Brewmaster offers tastings, tutorials and beer and food-matching dinners. A ‘Brewmaster’s Office’ can be hired for exclusive beer sampling gatherings and private parties.
 
Flagship Lifeboat in Thornham one of four Marco Pierre White pub in administration: The flagship Lifeboat in Thornham, Norfolk, widely regarded as one of Norfolk’s finest coastal inns, is one of four pubs operated by Marco Pierre that has gone into administration. A Zolfo Cooper spokeswoman said: “The administrators were appointed as a result of the businesses experiencing short term cash flow problems arising from the recent challenging economic environment. The venues are very popular and have a healthy number of existing bookings, which the administrators fully intend to honour. We believe the businesses are attractive to a range of potential buyers and we welcome expressions of interest from third parties to acquire any or all of the sites. We would also like to thank the staff for their continued support and professionalism during this process.” The group includes The Wayford Bridge Inn and the Acle Bridge Inn on the Norfolk Broads and the Chequers Inn, Thornham. The pubs are part of Horatio Inns. The most recent accounts, the year to 31 March 2013, show turnover of £6,343,806 and an operating loss of £200,839, following on from an operating loss of £392,522 for the 15-month accounting period before. 

Hallsworth to move Kurobuta, to launch new Joe’s Oriental Diner concept: Chef Scott Hallsworth, who launched Wabi, is to move his Kurobuta restaurant to larger premises this month at 312 King’s Road, Chelsea. Kurobuta seats up to 90 guests and includes a casual lounge, bar, private dining, events areas and a beer keg table. It opens on 30 January offering established favourites such as sashimi pizza and Robata BBQ dishes, but expanding of the sashimi and sushi offer. Next month, he will launch Joe’s Oriental Diner on the former King’s Road site of Kurobuta. It will evoke the “dive bar subculture of the Orient” with a Pan Asian food offer, ‘staying honest to the bare bone, gritty roots of recipes consumed in the ports of Asia’. Dishes will include fire cracker chicken, crunchy sweet and sour fish and slow-cooked duck red curry. It will seat up to 38 guests, with an open kitchen and central bar and a secret ‘Den’ upstairs that seats up to 26 guests. It will open Friday 13 February. 
 
Red Hot World Buffet Liverpool promises to re-open soon after closing for deep clean: Red Hot World Buffet in Liverpool has promised to re-open by the end of January after voluntarily shutting its doors on Monday following a hygiene inspection. The restaurant, based in Liverpool One, remains closed while the premises undergoes a “deep clean”. A sign on the door stated: “Red Hot World Buffet will reopen soon following our current closure for maintenance. We would once again like to apologise to our customers for any inconvenience our closure has caused.” A spokesman for the council said: “We are monitoring the situation and we understand the premises is undergoing a deep clean at the moment to deal with the issues raised.”

Zero-waste restaurant seeks £40,000 to “future proof food systems”: Silo, the UK’s first zero-waste restaurant, which promotes a pre-industrial food system that generates zero material waste, has launched an equity crowdfunding campaign with Crowd2Fund.com to raise £40,000 in return for 5% of its equity – £8,225 has been raised so far. The restaurant, based in Brighton, was co-founded by Douglas McMaster, a chef who has worked for a number of well-known restaurants such as St John Bread & Wine in Spitalfields, London. He tested his zero-waste concept in Sydney and Melbourne, where he ran a pop-up restaurant called Wasted. The restaurant is now seeking equity funds to further its mission statement by sourcing non-native products such as green coffee beans, red wine and cacao. Wherever possible, Silo plans for these products to be transported to the restaurant by boat, in order to use only the wind as energy. McMaster said: “It’s financially sensible as well as enormously productive in moving towards ‘future proof food systems.”

Pen & Pencil set to open in Manchester’s Northern Quarter: A pair of leisure entrepreneurs are to open Pen & Pencil, a new 2000 sq ft, 200-capacity bar and restaurant on the site of the former Drip Coffee Bar, 57 Hilton Street in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. It’s a joint project between Dan Pollard, owner of Didsbury cocktail bar Violet Hour, and Dry Bar managing director Kevin Connor, with a May opening scheduled. Pollard told Manchester Confidential: “We’ve been looking to start a project together in the city since I opened the Violet Hour in 2012. Dry Bar has been in Kev’s family for 25 years but we were both hungry for something new. We love this area of Northern Quarter. Places like Kosmonaut and Takk have created such a buzz at this end. I think people are looking to move away from the Printworks overspill at the Bluu end of Northern Quarter.”
 
Pret A Manger creates weekend role to give teenagers work experience: Pret A Manger is seeking to help British young people gain valuable experience. It has reworked its in-store roles to be able to give weekend jobs to British teens, its group people director told HR magazine. Andrea Wareham said Pret used to have fewer weekend-only roles, due to the availability of flexible labour. But since launching its School Leaver Programme two years ago, the food retailer decided creating weekend jobs would help young people get valuable work experience. It has created 105 weekend roles since September 2013. “If we want to help British young people, the thing to do is give them weekend work,” said Wareham. “If someone works every Saturday, they are learning great skills.”

Recognised restaurant brand sought for iconic Malton Town Hall site: A recognised restaurant brand is being sought as tenant of the newly restored Malton Town Hall, according to owner, the Fitzwilliam Malton Estate. The iconic landmark Grade II listed building in the heart of the Market Place, is being offered with a guide rent of £50,000 a year. Estate surveyor Tobias Burckhardt said: “Our aim with the Town Hall regeneration is to create a destination leisure development and draw shoppers to the town centre. The type of occupier we are targeting – a regionally or nationally recognised brand – will have a positive effect on the tenant mix in the Market Place without necessarily taking trade away from existing businesses. Carluccio’s, Zizzi, Ask or Patisserie Valerie are the level of operators we are mainly targeting.”

Prezzo lines up Penarth opening: Prezzo is planning on opening in the upmarket Vale of Glamorgan market town in March (population: 20,396). More than £600,000 is set to be invested in renovating the former Spar store on Windsor Road, with a planned opening on Thursday, 12 March. The restaurant will be spread over two floors, with space for 118 diners in the main restaurant and 20 diners in a new patio garden at the rear. Dining in the main restaurant will be spread across the ground and first floor, with a glass spiral staircase linking the two together. The development is also set to create around 18 jobs.

Marks & Spencer to trial digital coffee app: Marks & Spencer (M&S) is to trial a digital coffee stamp card app in 58 of its Hot Food on the Move counters and cafes in the Greater London area to reward customers for their loyalty. The coffee stamp card app M&S Barista, launched in partnership with digital consumer engagement specialists, Eagle Eye Solutions, will replace the current paper card. Mathew Legge, senior marketing manager at M&S, said: “We are focused on providing our customers with excellent quality, value for money and convenience. The trial of a digital loyalty card in our Hot Food on the Move and cafes will further help us meet those aims, whilst rewarding our customers for their loyalty.”

Daily Mail – Stonegate’s Richmond pub with 21 bedrooms is cheaper than a house: The Daily Mail newspaper has noted that a Stonegate Pub Company site in Richmond, Yorkshire, on the market for £250,000 is cheaper than a house. The newspaper stated: “With the average house price in England rocketing to £279,000, getting on the property ladder can feel out of reach for many. But for the same price as a studio flat in Balham, south London, a potential buyer could snap up a Victorian pub that comes complete with a huge bar, function room and 21 bedrooms. The historic grade II listed Fleece Hotel in Richmond, Yorkshire, has gone up for sale for the guide price of £250,000 after it closed suddenly earlier this month. However, the new owners will have to spend some time and hard work bringing the accommodation up to modern standards, with the hotel rooms not thought to have been used for over 20 years. The sale of the pub, which covers 9,200 square feet and dates back more than 100 years, comes as a flat in London’s exclusive Knightsbridge has gone on the market for an eye-watering £3 million.”
 
BrewDog launches brewing collective for shareholders: BrewDog has launched an initiative that allows shareholders, whom its calls “Equity Punks”, to vote on which one-off beer the brewery should brew, which will then be available exclusively to shareholders online and through its bars. The company stated: “Being an Equity Punk-led process, all decisions will be thrashed out, debated and curated on the Equity for Punks forum. Kicking off on Monday 26 January, each day one aspect of the beer will be decided upon by our shareholders. We like to think our investors are the ultimate connoisseurs of style – so in that regard, for this beer, our shareholders will decide what those three initial style options will be! Yes – it can be any style.” 
 
Michelin star chef takes second site: Michelin star chef Ben Tunnicliffe has taken over The Beach Restaurant in Sennen, Cornwall, his second venture. The chef, who already runs The Tolcarne Inn at Newlyn, will serve a range of seafood dishes at the restaurant when it opens in March. He said: “Having a restaurant in a location like this is a dream come true; I can’t wait to welcome people through the doors to enjoy relaxed dining and really good food for all the family.” Tunnicliffe is the tenant of the Shannon Family, who built the original beach cafe at Sennen in 1959, which has since become one of the most impressive dining locations in Cornwall. The chef worked at The Abbey in Penzance where he received a Michelin star and later at The Scarlet Hotel – an eco and spa retreat at Mawgan Porth. Three years ago, he took over The Tolcarne Inn in Newlyn, transforming the pub in a working harbour into a dining destination that rivals Padstow, Rock and St Ives.

New coffee shop concept doubles as art gallery: A new coffee shop concept in Birmingham is offering customers the chance to buy original artworks with their coffee. Diplomats Baristas at Two Snowhill has forged a partnership with the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists (RBSA), meaning it is an official exhibition space for the society. The new venture is being run by couple Mike Horry and Joanne McCarthy. McCarthy said: “We are an independent café run by people who love their coffee but wanted a different style from the usual sofas. Knowing one of the artists from RBSA, we have forged links with them to use our wall space for the artists’ work and our venue as advertising for the society.”

Lewisham’s largest nightclub allowed to re-open: Lewisham’s newest nightclub has been allowed to re-open, following an outbreak of violence linked to the venue. Skye in Lewisham High Street was discussed during a closed licensing meeting at Catford town hall last week at the Met Police’s request. It followed allegations of crime and disorder linked to the venue including a large fight outside on 20 December, which saw a string of people charged with affray. The council committee agreed to add a number of conditions to Skye’s licence, which had been suspended following the incident.

Renowned Tyneside Indian restaurant re-emerges in pub location: A renowned Tyneside Indian restaurant has just re-launched – in a new location and with the second generation of a family dynasty at the helm. The Last Days of The Raj at Low Fell closed in 2012. Set up originally by Athair Khan, he has now passed on his expertise to son Imran who will be heading up the new incarnation of the restaurant, this time in the former Bay Horse pub at Main Street, Dinnington. The former pub – which has been empty for two years – has undergone a major facelift to transform into a stylish restaurant before opening, creating an initial 12 jobs. Imran Khan said: “My father created a fantastic restaurant which was very popular and now I’m hoping to do the same and of course he will still be involved to offer his expertise.”

Bulldog set for £20m expansion after selling 20% stake: Independent coaching inn operator the Bulldog Hotel Group is set for major expansion, following investment from sector specialist investment company the Commer Group. The deal, for an undisclosed sum, sees Commer Group take a 20% stake in the business, with Commer Group managing director Edward Walsh joining Bulldog’s board as finance director. The investment creates a platform for an acquisition programme, which will see the hotel group invest £20 million over the next five years in a doubling of the estate. “We’ve built our property and leisure businesses by carefully choosing the right acquisitions and by backing the best people,” said Walsh. “Kevin Charity, at Bulldog Hotel Group, is one of the best independent operators of regional hotels in the country, so this investment is a natural development for us. We have an ambitious acquisition and expansion programme and are already in detailed discussions with funding providers as part of that process.” The Bulldog Hotel Group has well-known hotels in Yorkshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Gloucestershire and County Durham and has built a strong reputation in the industry for transforming underperforming establishments into busy and profitable businesses. Managing director Kevin Charity said: “We’re delighted Edward is joining the Bulldog board to lead our investment programme. His extensive financial experience as an investment banker and business knowledge and contacts through the Commer Group, will help us realise our ambitious growth plans. Our successful business model is based on selecting high quality coaching inns and revitalising their offer across food, drink and accommodation. While many individual hotels can only afford to focus on just one area, we have the resources to ensure excellence across all three income streams and give guests and customers an all-round better experience. This is proving attractive to couples and families for holiday breaks, but also to the corporate market for meetings and conferences. The regional hotel market, and particularly the coaching inn sector, remains highly fragmented and with this investment we have never been better placed to take advantage of the acquisition opportunities that we continue to see and allows us to grow the estate from seven to fifteen by 2020.” The Bulldog Hotel Group specialises in individually styled coaching inns, each with an all-day offering and is currently enjoying record sales across each of its three core income streams. Having acquired its first hotel site in 2004 the Group now has a turnover in excess of £10 million and employs over 320 people across seven locations. The £40 million Commer Group specialises in the hotel, licensed and leisure sectors and was established by Edward Walsh’s late father Jim Walsh in 1989. In September, Propel reported Bulldog turnover rose to £8,284,000 in the year to 31 March 2014 from £5,999,000 in 2012/13. Pre-tax profit climbed to £271,000 from £55,000 the year before. The current financial year will see a full-year contribution from the 62-bedroom Three Swans in Market Harborough and the Old Bridge Inn and Coffee House in Holmfirth, West Yorkshire, which saw a “transformational” investment in March last year. Ebitda across the company’s seven sites is forecast to hit £1,860,000 in the current financial year with pre-tax profit of around £750,000.
 
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, Burger & Lobster, 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.

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