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Tue 3rd Feb 2015 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Risk Capital Partners rules out raising another investment fund: Risk Capital Partners, the private equity firm co-founded by sector investor Luke Johnson, has ruled out plans to raise another fund. The firm, which counts Patisserie Valerie, Laine Pub Company, Red Hot World Buffet and Gail’s Artisan Bakery among its portfolio of holdings, told its investors in recent months that it would continue to make investments, but with the partners’ own money, Johnson told Private Equity News. The move comes after speculation in early 2014 that Risk would raise another fund. Johnson said: “We are not presently looking at raising another fund, as much as anything because of the distraction that entails. We’re a pretty lean team here and we just don’t have the resources to be investing as well as going out on a roadshow. In the past couple of years, proceeds from exits have been very good, so we are, so to speak, cashed up, and therefore certainly don’t need external money to continue investing.” Johnson set up Risk Capital Partners in 2001 alongside the former corporate financier Ben Redmond, and the firm raised £75m for its first institutional fund in 2009. Roughly a third of the fund’s capital was committed by Johnson, Redmond and other partners at the firm. Johnson said the firm would continue to manage out the fund. He said: “I had been making principal investments since the very early 1990s, and this was the aberration, if you like. Over the last six or so years, co-investing with institutional money within a classic private equity fund structure was an experiment for us. I believe it’s worked and I think we will show returns to investors, but we don’t need at this point to do it again. The way the fund is looking, I don’t think it would be boasting to say that I feel pretty confident we could raise another fund if we chose to, and maybe we will one day. I’m not excluding it. What we might do is co-invest in the future on a deal-by-deal basis – it’s not ideal, but it’s feasible – or we might raise another fund.”

Industry News:

Full Propel Multi Club Conference speaker programme unveiled: The full speaker schedule for the Propel Multi Club Conference on Thursday 12 March at the Lancaster Hotel, London has been unveiled. CLICK HERE to see the full programme and timings. Operators of multi-site companies can claim two free places by emailing adam.dickinson@propelinfo.com
  
Seedrs hosts first crowdfunding IPO: Seedrs, the UK-based equity crowdfunding platform, is hosting a campaign for the IPO of the Burgundy vineyard Domaine Chanzy. This is the first instance of a company conducting an IPO using crowdfunding. Domaine Chanzy will also be the only French company listed on AIM and the only French wine specialist listed in London. Once listed on AIM, Domaine Chanzy’s unique ticker symbol will be "WINE". Shares in Domaine Chanzy will be eligible for Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) relief. The IPO seeks to raise at least £1.9m at a share price of 120p. Investors large and small will be able to invest from £10 up using the Seedrs platform. The transaction is a significant step forward for equity crowdfunding in Europe and opens up the opportunity to participate in IPOs to a much wider range of investors. Those investors who use Seedrs to invest in the Domaine Chanzy IPO will have their shares held by Seedrs as nominee, meaning that they do not need to establish separate brokerage or trading accounts. Investors will be free to sell their shares on AIM at any time, provided that sufficient demand exists) Jeff Lynn, chief executive of Seedrs, said: “Seedrs is developing a reputation for achieving ‘firsts’ in the financial services industry for crowdfunding. Investors and companies trust us to provide a secure and transparent platform for their transactions, so it was a natural next step for us to work with Domaine Chanzy to enable this unique IPO. And with the great potential that Domaine Chanzy’s business has, combined with the extensive wine discounts on offer, we think this is going to be a very popular opportunity among investors.”
 
Shake Shack IPO valuation in 'nose-bleed' territory: The Shake Shack IPO on Friday, which saw its shares more than double in value to close at $45.90 has been described as “nose-bleed” valuation that is hard to justify if the company does not produce explosive growth. The company, which grew out of a hotdog cart in Madison Square Park in New York, is trading at an eye-popping price-to-earnings ratio of about 325, based on 2013 earnings, with each restaurant valued at about $27m. "Seems like a nosebleed valuation," Bob Goldin, an executive vice president at the foodservice consultancy Technomic, told Reuters. Shake Shack would need "explosive growth for years and years" to justify its stock price, he said. Douglas Kass, president of the hedge fund Seabreeze Partners Management, describing the share value surge as indicative of "silly season", said: "This is a valuation hurdle that is shaky." While the 63-outlet chain boasts some of the industry's highest average annual restaurant sales, it only plans to add ten extra restaurants in the US a year.

Multi-site companies nominated in Sustainable Restaurant Awards: Restaurants and food service businesses as diverse as an alpine ski lodge and a Welsh prison, are in the running to win the Sustainable Restaurant Awards 2015. The finalists in the Sustainable Small Group of the Year category are Lussmanns Fish & Grill, Drake & Morgan, London and Hawksmoor, London. The Sustainable Large Group of the Year finalists are D&D London, Carluccio’s and Boston Tea Party. The Sustainable Innovation Award finalists are Wahaca, Boston Tea Party, Silo, Brighton. The new People’s Favourite category sees the Bay Fish and Chips, Stonehaven, where customers know the name of the boat that caught their fish, competing against the Eagle and Child, Ramsbottom, where young unemployed people serve local dishes "with a modern twist". The Real Junk Food Project in Leeds, set up to beat food waste and food poverty, serving surplus food on a "pay as you feel" basis, is also in the running, alongside Star Bistro, a Cheltenham restaurant that gives people with disabilities the chance to shine and uses its profits to feed poor local families. Silo, the fifth restaurant looking to be named the People’s Favourite, which opened in Brighton at the end of 2014, grows mushrooms on its walls and was designed to be totally waste-free. The prison-based restaurant The Clink in Cardiff is up against last year’s winner, the Gallery in Barry, for the Welsh Sustainable Restaurant of the Year, along with Enochs Fish & Chips.
 
Bristol becomes the first city to trial outdoor smoking ban: Bristol has become the first city in the UK to ban smoking in some outdoor public places. A voluntary smoking ban is being trialled at two of the city's busy outdoor spaces. Both Millennium and Anchor Squares at the Harbourside will become smoke-free. But it will be up to each individual bar and restaurant situated in these areas if they comply with the pilot project. Fiona Andrews, director of Smokefree South West, which initiated the pilot, said: "This is an exciting initiative that we hope will have a lasting impact on not just Millennium Square and Anchor Square, but the wider region and potentially the rest of the UK. These city centre squares are often full of children playing and this pilot will provide a smoke-free environment for kids and their parents to enjoy."
 
Technomic – struggling full-service restaurants must revitalise their image: Family and traditional casual-dining restaurant visits in the United States are threatened by the growing fast-casual sector, which now rates competitively when it comes to food quality, but is perceived to offer better value and greater convenience, the insights firm Technomic has declared in a report on the future of full-service restaurants. At the same time, higher-income consumers are being drawn to upmarket casual-dining chains by the promise of a unique experience, its report said. To maintain and regain share, struggling full-service chains will need to revitalize their image, Technomic said. From refreshing decor at their outlets to updating menu offerings, family-style restaurants will need to focus on value and quality, while traditional and contemporary casual dining operations should focus on quality, innovation and regionally sourced and inspired menu items, it said. Sara Monnette, senior director for consumer insights and innovation at Technomic, said “Revamped menus include the integration of healthy and seasonal fare and more customisation opportunities. Chains will replace ten menu items with one base item that is customisable in ten different ways. Along with the menu, creating a contemporary ambiance will be vital to growth. The consumer's perception of the overall dining experience is strongly influenced by décor and atmosphere.”
 

Company News:

Jamie Oliver to open in the Netherlands: Jamie Oliver is to open a restaurant under franchise in the Netherlands. The opening is due to take place in the autumn at a site in the Markthal in Rotterdam. The restaurant is a joint venture with the Italian company Food Concepts, a franchisee which also plans to open sites in German and Belgium. Writing on his website, Oliver said: “I am happy to be cooperating with these brilliant guys to open restaurants in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. It is a creative team with a lot of talent. I can’t wait to get started.”

Levenshulme Pub Company opens pub, coffee shop and art gallery hybrid: Levenshulme Pub Company has opened Fred’s Ale House, south Manchester suburb’s first independent real ale bar also housing a coffee shop and art gallery. The four-storey building, on Stockport Road, has a sun terrace balcony, a beer garden and a purpose-built gallery in the basement, which will host exhibitions and film screenings by local artists. Levenshulme Pub Company also runs the Union Inn next door as well as the neighbouring M19 and Hennigan’s Sports Bar and the Farmer’s Arms in Burnage. Owner Lawrence Hennigan said: “I didn’t feel as though there was a market for just another pub – you’ve got to think beyond the box nowadays. Levenshulme has always been a creative area. What we want to do is bring art on to the high street and not just stuck in a studio.”

DM Group to re-open landmark Chelsea pub previously under threat: DM Group, led by Mark Dyer and Eamonn Manson, is to re-open the Cross Keys in Lawrence Street, Chelsea, London on 5 March – the pub was previously under threat of residential development and has been closed since 2012. The company said it wants to open a “gastropub for locals" and has spent about £500,000 fitting out the ground-floor bar and dining room. DM Group also runs the Sand’s End and the Brown Cow in Fulham. The property company Parsons Green Land bought the building for £4.9?m and is building four two-bedroom flats above the pub, which is leased to the DM Group. The pub was closed by a previous owner, the property developer Robert Bourne. The Cross Keys will showcase beers from London brewers.

Mitchells & Butlers’ All Bar One brand holds flirting masterclasses ahead of Valentine’s Day: Mitchells & Butlers' All Bar One brand is hosting “flirting workshop” in London, Manchester and Oxford ahead of Valentine’s Day. The three cities have the highest proportion of singles in the UK. The flirting workshops, run in collaboration with the self-styled "flirting expert" and founder of Flirtology, Jean Smith, are designed to help singles discover new techniques and "ditch those corny chat-up lines". The workshops are at All Bar One Oxford today (3 February), All Bar One Manchester on 4 February and All Bar One New Oxford Street in London on 10 February. For £12.50 per person, Smith will take attendees through a "flirting toolbox" helping spot the supposed "six signs of attraction". Customers will get the chance to practice their flirting skills at the cocktail experience table, where All Bar One's bartenders will show them how to make a Flirtini cocktail of their choice. Every singleton, male and female will receive a glass of Prosecco on arrival as well as one of three Flirtini cocktails and a "Pocket Guide to Flirting".

Taylor Street Baristas outlines expansion plan after crowdfunding success:
Taylor Street Baristas plans to double the size of its business in the next two years after raising £1,864,000 through its mini-bond on the crowd-funding platform Crowdcube. A proportion of the money will be used to expand its barista training programme, which it says is "key to differentiating its cafes from the scores of neighbouring competitors". There are also plans to extend the brand through sales of Taylor Street-branded coffee and merchandise in-store and online. Richard Shaer, chief executive of Taylor Street, said: “Crowdcube gave us the opportunity to offer our customers and supporters a safe, efficient and robust platform through which they could invest in Taylor Street, reducing our administrative burden and allowing us to reach a wider base of investors.” Luke Lang, co-founder of Crowdcube, said: “Established businesses that have large, regular customer followings are realising that our retail bonds offer an ideal option for raising growth capital. We are getting enquiries from all sectors, including some familiar household names, so the public will have plenty of exciting opportunities to get involved in the coming year.”

Pret A Manger opens first Portsmouth site:
Pret A Manger has opened its first site in Portsmouth, at a site in Gunwharf Quays. Ivan Vasiljevic, the manager at Pret Gunwharf Quays, said: "Portsmouth is a thriving city and we're excited to be a part of it. Gunwharf Quays is the ideal spot for Pret, with the outlet's great selection of retail stores and the nearby Historic Dockyard and Spinnaker Tower."

Boston Tea Party picks up Best Cafe award: Boston Tea Party, the South West of England-based cafe chain, has been named Food Magazine’s Best Cafe award winner for 2015. More than 9,000 votes were cast in the awards. It is the company’s second award in the past few months, following on from the Cafe Life award at the end of 2014 for Best Cafe/Coffee Bar Chain. Food Magazine praised the range of brunch items on the  chain's menu, the fact that the cafes make everything on site and the quality of ingredients used, including the focus on using ethically sourced and sustainable products. Boston Tea Party has also been nominated for three awards at the upcoming Sustainable Restaurant Awards, including Society award, Large Group award and The Innovation award for the use of used coffee grounds to grow mushrooms, which are then served as mushrooms on toast. The SRA awards take place on Monday 23 February.
 
Costa Coffee opens first drive-through in Wales: Costa Coffee has opened its first drive-through in Wales, in Swansea, in an investment creating 22 jobs. The 1,900 sq ft unit is on Heron Way, part of the Heron Way Retail Park development led by the South Wales developer Actoris. Costa has agreed a 15-year lease for £51,000 a year. Other outlets at the scheme include Greggs, which occupies a 1,200 sq ft building, Swansea-based Joe’s ice cream, which has agreed to take a 800 sq ft building, and the award-winning Porthcawl-based Finnegan’s Fish and Chips, which occupies a 1,000 sq ft unit. The final 800 sq ft unit is currently under offer to a national pizza operator.
 
Wetherspoon supplier buys Heinz factory, hires former Orchid head of food: The Authentic Food Company, which lists Spirit and Greene King among its customers and helped launch the Curry Club at JD Wetherspoon, has completed its acquisition of a state-of-the-art frozen ready meals facility in Dundalk, Ireland from Heinz. The Authentic Food Company said after the acquisition that it plans the continued expansion of its foodservice and retail business both in the UK and Europe with the enhanced capability and capacity that the acquisition of the Dundalk plant delivers. The family-owned and managed company, whose heritage is the supply of curry meals to pubs, is celebrating its 30th year of business, with about 45% of its turnover derived from foodservice customers. Nik Basran, managing director of The Authentic Food Company, said: “The strategic acquisition of this well-invested site at Dundalk adds many new capabilities to our offer, including layered pasta, fish dishes and potato-topped products. This, coupled with a continued focus on the customer, delivering on our philosophy of authentic quality and maintaining a clear channel strategy gives us confidence we can be a leading player in recipe dish innovation. Foodservice is our heritage and our continued culinary-led approach, agility and industry-leading chef team will help us deliver a range of exciting and relevant propositions in new areas.” The company has also hired the former head of food at the Orchid Pub Group, Sarah Thomas, to lead its innovation team. The Authentic Food Company's marketing director, Nick Harris, said: “We’re delighted to be increasing our manufacturing footprint and be looking at new areas of the market. We have been investing in insight to drive a focused development plan, putting products on the menu that really resonate with today’s customer. We’ve also been investing in the team and getting some great food brains around the table. This includes the appointment of Sarah Thomas as head of innovation. Sarah previously headed the food team at the Orchid Pub Group and will bring a wealth of experience and enthusiasm to the team.” Terms of the Heinz acquisition were not disclosed.
 
McDonald's set to lose fight for new Bristol outlet: McDonald’s looks likely to lose its fight for a restaurant in Fishponds, Bristol after thee city's planning officers recommended that the scheme is turned down by councillors at a meeting this week. The company wants to demolish a large warehouse on Fishponds Road which was previously used by a tile company and which has been empty for about a year to make way for a two-storey restaurant with drive-through and parking. It would have room for 160 customers and be open between 6am and midnight. The local community organised a well-orchestrated campaign against the proposal, on grounds including the close proximity of a local school and the fear that teenagers would be eating fast food at lunchtimes, which included marches and demos and a petition with about 1,700 names. They were supported by Bristol East MP Kerry McCarthy and local councillors who asked for the planning application to be referred to the committee instead of being dealt with by planning officers under executive powers. Planning officers say the restaurant would be beyond the 400m distance from the school as laid down by national guidelines and therefore does not allow them to take this factor into account. However, their report says, the reason for recommending refusal is highway safety: traffic turning right into the drive-through or car park, the risk to pedestrians and inadequate servicing arrangements. There are about ten other McDonald's outlets in and around Bristol.

Marco Pierre White to open New York Italian in Kenilworth this month:
An opening date of Monday 16 February has been announced for the new Marco's New York Italian restaurant at the Holiday Inn in Kenilworth, Warwickshire. It will be the ninth outlet, all in the Midlands and North except for one in Exeter, for the chain, and comes after a deal announced in November between Black & White Franchising and the hotel’s owner, Khanna Enterprises (Kenilworth) Ltd, which will run the new restaurant under a franchise agreement. The new restaurant takes over the space used by the hotel's former restaurant, along with the separate bar area and an external terrace. Louise Sheepy, deputy general manager for the Holiday Inn Kenilworth – Warwick, said: “With the open date getting closer, we’re all very excited. The interior is starting to take shape, the kitchen staff are all being trained and prepared for the Marco’s menu and we’re looking forward to being able to introduce such a great culinary brand to our guests, friends and the area.” The new restaurant will be serving lunch and dinner seven days a week and will be open to the public as well as hotel guests.

Virgin Hotels unveils second site, this time in Nashville:
Virgin Hotels has unveiled its design for a new property in Nashville, Tennessee on a prime spot right at the start of the city's legendary Music Row. Virgin Hotels Nashville will have the address One Music Row and will offer 240 rooms and suites and 15 penthouse residences. Amenities will include the Commons Club hybrid bar/lounge, a study and restaurant, a centrepiece bar, a live entertainment venue, outside veranda with city views and a rooftop pool. There will also be a "world class" recording studio. The hotel is expected to open in autumn 2016. The company's Chicago site opened earlier this month and one in New York City is due to open in 2017 with Washington, Boston , Los Angeles, Miami, Dallas, Seattle, San Francisco and London also on the radar.

Nando’s and Five Guys sign for Southampton scheme: Hammerson has signed the American burger brand Five Guys and the peri peri chicken restaurant Nando’s for WestQuay Watermark, its mixed-use, leisure-led development in Southampton city centre. Five Guys will take a 3,960 sq ft unit, its first restaurant in Southampton. Nando’s, which already has an outlet in WestQuay, will take an additional 3,430 sq ft unit in the new scheme. Wahaca, Zizzi and Byron have also recently signed for the development, as has the luxury cinema brand Showcase Cinema de Lux, which will open its first ten-screen digital cinema in the South of England.

Vinopolis to close at the end of 2015:
The central London event venue Vinopolis is to shut later this year, to be replaced by a retail development. Vinopolis, based near Borough Market in Southwark, made its name for offering wine-tasting experiences. The venue is set to close on 31 December, 2015, but says all business until that date will remain unaffected. Managing director Samantha Anderson said: “It is naturally a very sad day. Vinopolis is something of a London landmark for event bookers and conferences. But this is the best possible decision for the business and its shareholders. We have come to the end of what could reasonably be achieved with the wine experience and feel that it is time for new life to be breathed into the timeless space.”
 
Better burger offer Burger Craft to open at another PubLove site:
Burger Craft, the London pub-based handcrafted burger concept, will launch its fourth kitchen this week in PubLove’s new flagship Euston pub. The Exmouth Arms, on Starcross Street, Euston, North London will become another permanent home for the award-winning burger brand when it reopens tomorrow (Wednesday)after a £150,000 plus refurbishment. It will be the brand’s flagship site, seating up to 80 patrons and serving breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Burger Craft at the Exmouth Arms will also serve the new "Burger Craft Does …" menu, which sees classic British dishes reinvented and served in a demi-brioche bun. These include fish and chips, all-day breakfast, and "grandma’s chicken dinner". As well as burgers, the Exmouth Arms will serve a London-focused product range including 15 brands of gin and 50% of its bottled and draught beer coming from London-based breweries. The Burger Craft concept, also has permanent kitchens in the Green Man in Paddington, the White Ferry House in Victoria, and The Crown in Battersea. 

McDonald’s launches food-for-love promotional campaign: McDonalds is giving customers in the United States the chance to pay for their hamburgers with hugs rather than money over the next two weeks, with the launch of its "Pay with Lovin'" promotional campaign. From now until Valentine's Day, anyone visiting a McDonald's restaurant in the US between 6am and 6pm could be selected to perform a "random act of Lovin'", which could also include dancing, giving a high five, calling a family member or sending a selfie. "We want to thank our customers for making our day, and hopefully they will make someone else's as well," a McDonald’s spokeswoman told ABC News. "From selfies, hugs, to high-fives, we have a bunch of fun ways to express your lovin'." The deal is outlined in a Super Bowl ad from the company, which aired in the US on Sunday and was posted on its YouTube page. The participants will be chosen "at randomised, predetermined times", according to the company's website, and there will only be 100 winners at each restaurant.  McDonald's expects about one million customers to benefit from the giveaway.

Wimpy opens in Dorking: The retro burger brand Wimpy has made a rare opening in Dorking, Surrey, taking over a former Cafe Express site in the high street. Wimpy Restaurants UK, which is owned by the South Africa-based Famous Brands, has reported pre-tax profit of £846,000 in the year to 28 February 2014, up from £607,000 the year before. Turnover fell to £5,835,000 from £6,240,000 the year before. The company employs only 11 staff in the UK: its restaurant estate, which stands at the circa 110 mark, is all franchised. Originally called Wimpy Grills, the Wimpy brand was created in the United States in 1934 by Eddie Gold, with the first stand-alone Wimpy opening in the UK 60 years ago this year. The name was inspired by the hamburger-loving character J. Wellington Wimpy from the Popeye cartoons.

Former England manager opens boutique hotel in Spain: The former England, Tottenham Hotspur and Barcelona football manager Terry Venables and his wife Yvette have opened a ten-bedroom boutique hotel, La Escondida, 35 minutes from Alicante. La Escondida, meaning "Hidden One" in Spanish, is set in 500 acres of olive and almond groves in the middle of a national park. Venables said he decided to open the luxury rural hotel after falling in love with the area after a visit 20 years before. He said: "The beauty of the area was breathtaking. We are always in search of places that are off the beaten track and La Escondida was certainly that, yet such a short distance from the coast." The restaurant is overseen by a Michelin-star trained chef. Deluxe Double Rooms start from €140 per night and include breakfast.
 
Southport better burger venue Hache changes name after clash with London brand: A better burger restaurant in Southport, Lancashire has been re-branded the Bar & Burger Co. It is operated by restaurateur Bob Warrior who said the change in name came after there was confusion between the Southport eatery and the London chain Hache, which opened a new site in Balham, South London almost a fortnight ago. He said: "I think I like the Bar & Burger Co more than the Hache House, and wish I had had it when I first opened up. The name is a reflection of what we do, and our approach to our food and our decor."
 
Licensees warned of dangers from cold callers exhorting indiscriminate business rates appeal: Licensees have been warned that they could actually face higher costs if they fall for boiler house telesales claims that business rate appeals will always save money. As the deadline of 31 March for submitting business rate appeals set in the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Autumn Statement looms, there have been increased reports of firms encouraging business rate appeals with the line "use it or lose it". Jerry Schurder, head of business rates at the consultancy Gerald Eve, which advises 25% of the FTSE 100 on property taxation, said: “We suggest you treat with caution these telesales approaches over the coming weeks. Cold callers have a track record of promising reduced assessments but leaving their clients with increased bills when the Valuation Office realises the rateable value appealed was too low. There is no purpose in appealing without the prospect of achieving a saving and only harm can arise from challenging a low valuation, which might encourage the Valuation Office to increase and backdate the assessment. Nonetheless, where an appeal is merited and a business is satisfied that there is no risk of an increase, then a challenge should be made before the end of March deadline. Use it – yes – but don’t abuse it.”
 
BHA teams up with Tottenham Hotspur to create jobs in Haringey: The British Hospitality Association’s national campaign The Big Hospitality Conversation has teamed up with Tottenham Hotspur Foundation to generate job opportunities, work placements and apprenticeships in the hospitality sector for 16 to 24-year-old residents in Haringey, North London. More than 100 top business executives, of the hospitality and tourism industry will descend on White Hart Lane stadium on Tuesday 10 February to meet jobseekers in person and to offer employment advice, as well as opportunities for careers in the industry. Companies including Costa, Hilton and Nando’s will be pledging live job and training vacancies throughout the day Tottenham Hotspur Foundation’s education and employment team will be on hand to offer practical employability advice and guidance on gaining relevant qualifications, interview techniques and careers choices.

Dan Davies becomes chairman of Institute of Licensing: The Institute of Licensing, the membership and training organisation for licensing professionals, has announced Dan Davies as its new chairman. Davies is founding director and chief executive of CPL Training Group, the leading provider of face-to-face training and e-learning online to the licensed retail and hospitality sectors. Davies has more than 20 years of experience in licensing training, having established CPL Training Group in 1991. The company, which was created to fill a training gap in the market for new licensees, grew to provide training solutions in the wake of licensing law reform. It is now the largest provider of the Award for Personal Licence Holders (APLH), the Scottish Certificate for Personal Licence Holders (SCPLH) and Scottish Certificate for Personal Licence Holders Refresher qualification (SCPLHR). Before founding CPL Training Group, Davies had hands-on experience managing large nightclub businesses in the Wirral. As well as winning numerous company awards for CPL Training Group, he was awarded Liverpool Young Director of the Year at the Northwest Director of the Year Awards in 2010 and Young Entrepreneur of the Year at Insider Liverpool Professional Awards in 2008. Davies said “There are exciting times ahead for the Institute of Licensing and I look forward to using my expertise in business to bring fresh, entrepreneurial ideas to the institute whilst ensuring it remains focussed and relevant.” He succeeds Jon Collins, who held the post for four years but is now relocating to the United States.

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