Story of the Day:
Delivery Club 45% overfunded as investors flock to restaurant delivery platform: Delivery Club, a technology platform for food delivery businesses to share drivers and GPS tracking all orders, has raised almost £146,000 on the crowd-funding site Seedrs, putting it 45.75% overfunded. The company is led by chief executive Krupa Patel, co-founder of My Delivery Cab, which launched in 2012 to provide a home delivery solution for shops and restaurants that did not offer their own delivery service, and which was sold to the upmarket food delivery service Dinein.co.uk in November 2014. Delivery Club claims to be a user-friendly technology platform that will allow food delivery businesses to borrow and lend drivers from and to one another at short notice, while GPS tracking will provide full visibility of all orders. According to Delivery Club, it asked more than 200 UK food delivery businesses, and almost half – 46% – of London-based respondents were interested in the service. The technology platform has been written and is now in development, and a launch for the service is planned for London in 2015, with a roll-out to three other regions of the UK by the end of 2016. So far the company has attracted 129 investors for just over 18% of its equity, with six putting up £10,000 each, one £16,000 and one £20,000.
Propel launches Social Media Masterclass:
Propel has launched a Social Media Masterclass in partnership with Digital Blonde’s Karen Fewell. The Social Media Masterclass provides a comprehensive overview of how to make the best use of social media (CLICK HERE
to see the programme). Tickets are £295 for ALMR members and £345 for non-members. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Times food critic Giles Coren invests in regional fish and chip shop chain: The Times food critic Giles Coren has reported that he has invested in an unnamed regional fish and chip shop chain. He wrote: “Fish and chips by the sea is the one thing we ought to be able to do (well), for the sake of tourists and locals alike. I (have) invested in a small fish and chip chain, which, at the time, had only two sites and now has four, all of which are more than 200 miles from London, which is committed to ethical and sustainable fishing and business practice. I put a fair amount of money in, relatively speaking: roughly what I am paid for a year of restaurant reviews, after tax. The business is not turning out to be as seasonally sensitive as I had anticipated and the shops are pretty much full year round with local people who have cottoned on. There looks like a chance of making some money. The broad financial implication is that the cash for every single review I write in The Times this year, regardless of where the restaurant is, will go into restaurant development in less well-off towns a long, long way from London.” Coren also revealed a family connection to fish and chip shops. “My great-grandfather worked in fish shops when he came here in the early 20th Century, then he set up a couple himself and then a business selling oil for frying to the trade.” Coren has ranked Aldeburgh’s Golden Galleon, one of three fish and chip restaurants operated by the Cooney family, as among his top 50 restaurant venues in the UK. The Suffolk town is 104 miles from London – not, therefore, likely to be Coren’s regional investment.
Four out of five diners say no to ‘cakeage’ charge: After news that restaurants and bars are charging customers up to £9 per person for the privilege of bringing their own birthday cake to a celebratory meal or drinks party, a survey by the guest experience management company HospitalityGEM has found that an overwhelming 80% of diners would not be happy to pay a “cakeage” charge. Survey respondents described the new trend, which seems to be restricted to London, according to a Sunday Times report, as “pointless” and “ridiculous”, as it strays too far from the standard of service expected in restaurants. The national survey proved that the trend is very London-focused, with only 1% of respondents admitting to ever having paid a fee, and only 27% having even heard of a cakeage fee. Steven Pike, managing director of HospitalityGEM, said: “Corkage is widely accepted in many restaurants. However, ‘cakeage’ is deemed a step too far by many customers. A cake is often brought to a restaurant to celebrate a special, personal occasion – whether it is a birthday, anniversary or another personal event, and customers expect some goodwill on the part of the venue. Nevertheless, bringing your own cake does often reduce average spend per head, as the cake is often a direct substitute for dessert, reducing the operator’s ability to maximise sales from a table, so it is perhaps no surprise that sites are looking for a way to make some revenue from this.”
BII to back inaugural Beer Marketing Awards: The British Institute of Innkeeping has pledged its support for the inaugural Beer Marketing Awards, joining as both sponsors to the event and providers of a work placement programme. The professional body for the licensed retail sector will sponsor the ‘Best Integrated Campaign ‘ category and will work alongside the overall winner to deliver a work placement for someone studying to enter the hospitality trade. BII chief executive Tim Hulme said: “This is a very good fit for the organisation as not only are we supporting these dynamic awards, but we’ll be working alongside the best in the business to deliver a unique work placement opportunity.”
Government names 50 up-and-coming food and drink entrepreneurs: Fifty of the country’s most promising food and drink entrepreneurs have been recognised as Food Stars for their contribution to the UK’s growing economy. The first initiative of its kind, Food Stars is part of a wider government drive to inspire entrepreneurial activity across the UK as part of our long-term economic plan. Launching the Food Stars network, Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss said: “We are a nation of firsts; we invented self-raising flour and introduced the first modern chocolate bar. As a country we’ve always been a place where sparky entrepreneurs come up with great innovations in food and drink, people with the ambition to grow and take on the world. The industry’s continual innovation is bringing 16,000 new products to the market each year—more than France and Germany combined. Our Food Stars are helping to grow this sector even further.” Exports of UK food and drink are also booming with almost £19 billion worth shipped to more than 150 countries in 2013. The 50 companies named as Food Stars by the government includes: Chapel Down, Hepworth & Co Brewers, Joe and Seph’s Popcorn, Pilton Cider and Westerham Brewery,
Amber Taverns to open third Hogarths gin palace: Amber Taverns, the 100-strong community pub operator led by James Baer and Bryan Wardman, is to invest £550,000 on a refurbishment of a former Bramwell Pub Company site, The Charter, in Ilkeston, Derbyshire, to turn it into the company’s third Hogarths Victorian gin palace selling more than 100 varieties of gin. It is scheduled to re-open in April or May. Gary Roberts, operations director at Amber Taverns, told the local newspaper: “The pub has had a difficult past, partly due to the pressures on the business chasing revenue for a company that was under-funded.” The first two Hogarths are located in Bolton and Preston.
YO! Sushi opens at Copenhagen airport: Copenhagen Airport has opened Denmark’s first YO! Sushi restaurant. The new YO! Sushi outlet was introduced in response to “passenger demand for a sushi concept”. Available to eat in or takeaway, the food is served on a 70-metre long conveyor belt. Copenhagen Airport head of airport sales Lise Ryevad said: “Eating at YO! Sushi is both easy and delicious. It is important to us that travellers who have only a short time at the airport also have the chance to get something tasty to eat before continuing their journey, or to have the possibility to take the sushi box with them onboard the flight. This is what makes the YO! Sushi concept perfect for the airport. It is also important to us that they serve only top quality fresh food. At YO! Sushi, the chefs prepare sushi in sight of restaurant guests every day.”
Oakman Inns seeking to open restaurant in Amersham: Oakman Inns and Restaurants, led by Peter Borg-Neal, is looking to open a pub-restaurant in part of a disused car showroom in Amersham, Buckinghamshire. The owner of the property on Chesham Road, Raans Estates, has had several plans to renovate the site turned down by planners over the past five years. It now wants to turn the showroom and two small units on Hill Avenue into a Majestic Wine warehouse and a 150-seat pub restaurant, in a £3m development. The plans have been broadly welcomed, with many saying Amersham’s nightlife has been in need of a boost. The restaurant would employ 50 staff and be run by Oakman Inns, owners of the Beech House in Beaconsfield. Peter Borg-Neal said of Amersham: “It’s a great town but there is a disconnect between the quality of the town and the quality of places to eat and drink. It seems to me (the restaurant plan) should be supported, but we’re reliant on the planning process.”
Camden Town Brewery bursts through £1m mark: The crowdfunding push for Camden Town Brewery burst through the £1m mark yesterday, two-thirds of the way to raising £1.5m for 2% of its equity. A total of 1,080 investors have pledged £1,024,410, which means the company is now 68% funded with 38 days left.
Batemans opens first pub in managed house drive: Lincolnshire brewer Batemans has re-opened a newly acquired pub in Beverley as the first step in developing a managed house division. Residents feared The Game Bird, in Holme Church Lane, was to be demolished after it closed unexpectedly last summer. The venue is now re-opened by Batemans, which acquired it at the end of 2014, and is managed by Martin and Tina Scott. The kitchen is run by head chef Shane Tate, who won the Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitality Association Copper Saucepan Award for the Apprentice Chef of the Year in 2009. The Game Bird will also operate as a hotel with five en-suite rooms. Stuart Bateman, managing director of Batemans Brewery, said Beverley had always been a target for the company. He said: “Beverley is an area we have always wanted to get into. When our beers are sold as guest beers in Beverley, they sell extremely well. The pub is in the kind of community area where we like to have pubs.” Last month, Propel reported that Batemans has recruited Linda Green as its new retail director. Batemans is looking to evolve its estate to be split equally between tenanted, managed and franchised operations, with a particular focus on sites that include a strong food, or accommodation offering, alongside cask ale, and have the capability to turn over between £8,000 and £12,000 a week. South Yorkshire, East Midlands, North Cambridgeshire and Norfolk have been identified as the favoured locations for new Batemans sites.
PizzaExpress, JD Wetherspoon, McDonald’s, Zizzi freeholds go to auction: A number of freeholds let to major pub and restaurant companies will be auctioned by Allsop on 25 March in London. The freehold of The Misty Moon, Chesham, Buckinghamshire, let to Wetherspoon on a rent of £52,000 per annum on a lease expiring in 2027, is offered with a guide price of £800,000 to £850,000, suggesting a yield of 6.56%. A freehold in Ashford, Kent, let to PizzaExpress on a rent of £51,203 on a lease expiring in 2029, is offered with a guide price of £865,000 to £880,000, suggesting a yield of 5.92%. A drive-thru site at the Britannia Shopping Centre let to McDonald’s on a rent of £73,500 per annum on a lease expiring in 2025, is offered with a guide price of £1.05m to £1.1m, suggesting a yield of 7%. A freehold let to Zizzi, in Richmond, London, for a rent of £93,500 per annum on a lease expiring in 2022, is offered with a guide price of £1.3m plus, suggesting a yield of 7.19%.
Third Wetherspoon for St Helens approved: Councillors in St Helens have voted unanimously in favour of proposals to turn a pet food store in Earlestown into a JD Wetherspoon pub. The company already has two pubs in St Helens town centre, The Running Horses and The Glass House. Case officer Alan Kilroe told the council’s planning committee that the venture received 15 letters of support. One read: “This is a positive move forward for Earlestown and could open it up to further development and modernisation. Also Wetherspoon will keep the original character of the building and not detract from it unlike other developments that have recently been allowed in the Newton-le-Willows area which have bulldozed local sites of architectural and historical importance.” Objections related to worries over the impact of parking, anti-social behaviour and noise.
Whitbread gives brief for Beefeater and Brewers Fayre to ad agency Life: Whitbread has appointed the ad agency Life to handle the creative work for its two pub restaurant brands, Beefeater and Brewer’s Fayre. David Murdin, Whitbread’s marketing director, told Drum magazine he wants the brands transformed into two, powerful, clearly-defined, mid-market national restaurant brands. “We were impressed by Life’s intelligent use of insight to inform creative proposals and how it would handle the strategic issues our brands face,” he said. “The Life team pitched a strong set of corporate and creative ideas that conveyed an acute understanding of the on-trade market and its current and future challenges.” Life won the account after a pitch against three other agencies, Initials, BDNtwk and the incumbent, BBH. The agency is now due to deliver a new brand proposition, alongside strategic planning, creative concepts and design of all restaurant communications such as external signage and menus. It will also provide creative for the Beefeater and Brewer’s Fayre digital, social and PR channels. BBH’s Milton Keynes office had serviced the account since October 2011.
Whole Foods hits £100m turnover in the UK: Whole Foods, the US-based firm with nine sites in the UK, has reported turnover grew 24% to hit £101.4m in the year to 24 September 2014, The Mail on Sunday has reported. Costs and interest payment meant the company made a pre-tax loss of £7.5m, a reduction from the £14.2m of the previous year. The company, which launched in the UK with a site in Kensington in 2007, saw like-for-like sales rise by 6.8% and stated that it would like to open more sites in the UK.
Turtle Bay to open second restaurant in Manchester: Turtle Bay is to launch a second Manchester restaurant, taking over the Ryan Vintage site on Oldham Street in the Northern Quarter. The Caribbean chain opened its first restaurant on Oxford Street in the city in May last year. It will be the first time the chain has opened two sites in one city, but those in charge believe there is plenty of demand for its brand of Caribbean food, speciality rums and reggae rhythms. Turtle Bay’s founder, Ajith Jayawickrema, told The Manchester Evening News: “Our second restaurant is testament to how much we love Manchester. We’re delighted that people seem to really ‘get’ Turtle Bay here. The Northern Quarter is such an exciting community to be part of – we can’t wait to bring a bit of Caribbean sunshine to that side of town.” The £1m refit of the new restaurant has already begun, and the new venue is set to open on 6 June. It will have 120 covers, and “quirky” interiors different to those in the Oxford Street venue.
Stonegate takes Mansfield Yates’s back to its original name: Stonegate Pub Company is re-opening the Yates’s outlet in Mansfield under its original name, The Green Dragon. The pub’s manager, Jez Hamer said: “Back in 1963, The Green Dragon stood on the exact site as the current pub and many of our regulars remember it well. So having chatted to customers we felt the refurbishment of the pub was the perfect opportunity to re-instate the name.” The pub, on Leeming Street, is now featuring Sky Sports and BT Sport and brunches from 10am. Closing times are 11pm Monday to Wednesday, midnight on Thursday, Friday and Sunday and 1am on Saturday.
Loungers to open in Amersham: The Loungers bar group is to open in Hill Avenue, Amersham, Buckinghamshire in the summer. The new site, operating under the name Metro Lounge, in a nod to “Metroland”, the name given in the early 20th century to the areas served by the Metropolitan line, which ends in Amersham, will be the Bristol-based chain’s closest outlet to the capital, just 23 miles from the centre of London. The new outlet is taking over the former Entertainer unit, which has been empty since 2013.
Rolling Stone opposes West Wittering restaurant plan: Rolling Stone Keith Richards is backing a campaign to stop an ‘enormous’ £1.5m restaurant on West Wittering beach. West Wittering residents, including the Rolling Stones’ guitarist, are encouraging others to object to an application to build a two-storey cafe/restaurant in replacement of the current smaller beach cafe. Richards said: “The second-storey restaurant overlooks and is visible from the sea and beach. It spoils the natural beauty and seclusion of the beach. It dominates the area and degrades its character. The restaurant threatens the environment and locals. It cannot be allowed.” West Wittering Estate has about 390 shareholders who purchased the land in 1952 to keep it as unspoilt and undeveloped as possible. The current cafe was damaged by a fire, caused by an electrical fault, in October last year, and it
has been operating from the life savers’ hut since then.
Frank’s Steakhouse brand expands in Northampton: The Frank’s Steakhouse brand has added a third site in Northampton, taking over the restaurant of The Sevens pub, in Weedon Road, which used to be The Rover. The brand, owned by businessman Tom Hewers, has two other sites in Wellingborough Road. He also operates The Artizan Pub, in Artizan Road, Abington and a butcher’s shop. Hewers is also set to open a fourth restaurant in Towcester. Of his expansion, Hewers said: “There wasn’t a massive amount to do, but we’ve put in new furniture and rebranded the place and all in two weeks.”
Wagamama set for Bracknell: Wagamama has signed to occupy a 3,200 square for unit in the new Bracknell town centre Cineworld complex and is due to open in spring 2017. The restaurant will feature in the new town alongside a new 80,000 sq ft Fenwick store, Marks & Spencer, Primark, Waitrose and H & M. Carluccio’s, Zizzi, Coast to Coast, Gourmet Burger Kitchen, PizzaExpress, Wagamama, Nando’s and Las Iguanas have also confirmed they will take units in the new town. Mace were announced on Friday as the construction company to run the £200 million pound regeneration being overseen by Bracknell Regeneration Partnership and Bracknell Forest Council.
Kieran Rabbitt comments on JW Lees departure: Kieran Rabbitt, who previously worked at Mitchells and Butlers with responsibility for the Harvester, Vintage, Innkeepers Fayre and Carvery brands, has commented on his decision to step down as managing director of JW Lees managed division. He said: “Having come from a branded hospitality background the past two years represent one of the best and most refreshing times of my career so far. Working in a sixth-generation family company, with real ambition in my own town of Manchester was a great opportunity. Consolidating 36 individual pubs into meaningful segments focusing on the guest experience ensured like-for-like sales and profit growth now and for the future. This, of course, cannot be done without great people, unlocking the potential within existing teams and attracting new great people with the same values. Change in a business could never have happened without the fantastic support from my managing director, William Lees-Jones, board members and last but not least my amazing team. I am looking forward to the next challenge and will take the necessary time to consider a number of options.”
Giraffe opens at Stansted airport: Giraffe has opened its 59th restaurant at London Stansted Airport. The new restaurant will occupy a 3,000 square foot site accommodating 141 covers. The interior is inspired by global travel, with reclaimed luggage racks, scaffolding shelves of travel books and a curved, wooden canopy creating a 3D wave across the ceiling. Nick Ayerst, managing director at TRG Concessions, said: “We believe Giraffe will add an element of contemporary and convenient family dining to the departure lounge. The opening is part of TRG Concessions’ on-going commitment to the airport and its passengers in delivering fresh, fast, world-food before passengers fly.”
Jamie Rollo – Starbucks UK still trailing Costa Coffee in terms of profit-per-store: Morgan Stanley leisure analyst Jamie Rollo has highlighted the on-going profit gap between Starbucks and Costa Coffee. He said: “Starbucks UK moved into profit in FY14, but profit per store is still 15% below Costa despite unit sales being 60% bigger. Starbucks’ recently filed UK accounts show it moved from a £21m loss in FY13 to £1m Ebit in FY14, which, after adding back £27m royalty/licence fees to the parent, is £53,000 per store. This was up sharply from £9k the prior year, as it closed unprofitable sites, saw 6% like-for-like sales growth, and cut labour. However, this is still well below Costa’s £62,000 Ebit/store, despite Costa’s stores being much smaller. Meanwhile Costa grew its UK footprint again and is now over twice Starbucks’ size, and announced another strong year in FY15.”
Green hotel launches on-site observatory to tap into “astro-tourism”: The Battlesteads Hotel and Restaurant in Wark, near Hexham, Northumberland, which has won multiple awards for its green credentials, is opening an observatory within the hotel grounds, on the edge of the Northumberland National Park, which gained Dark Sky Park status in December 2013. The Northumberland National Park is the largest protected Dark Sky Park in Europe, and Battlesteads will now run courses targeted at all levels of stargazer, from introductory “Get to know your telescope” sessions to sessions focusing on identifying and tracking some of the night-sky’s star performers, led by Roy Alexander, a professional astronomer and teacher. The observatory will be fully accessible throughout the night to guests staying in one of the hotel’s five newly constructed eco-lodges. Facing south, it can accommodate up to 25 and is equipped with the latest telescopes chosen for their technical prowess and ease of use. Richard Slade, owner of Battlesteads, said: “We have had a vision to open up our beautiful skies to guests for many years and to see these plans now come alive is out of this world. Astro-tourism is an emerging and growing leisure market. With such a world-class environment for studying the stars on our doorstep it made sense to embrace this and add to the many reasons to visit Battlesteads and the county of Northumberland.”
Old Bell Hotel buys Zest to transplant concept: The owner of Derby’s Old Bell Hotel has purchased one of the city’s top independent restaurants – and will move it into the historical venue. Restaurant Zest will move from its current home in George Street, off Friar Gate, and into the 17th Century Sadler Gate building over the coming weeks. A major £1.2 million refurbishment is being carried out at The Old Bell Hotel, which is one of the county’s oldest coaching inns. Entrepreneur Paul Hurst bought it in 2013, promising to pump more than £1 million into the building. Today, it includes a Tudor bar, tea rooms, a cafe and a ballroom for events such as weddings and comedy nights. Hurst said the tea rooms and cafe, which have been operating for 18 months, will close and be replaced by Zest. The former pub area, to the left of the tea rooms and cafe, is also being refurbished and will re-open as a front bar in May. The restaurant is expected to open in early April.
Fuller’s cider business wins three awards: Fuller’s cider business Cornish Orchards has won in three different award categories this month, At the International Cider Awards, Cornish Orchards’ flagship Gold Cider was awarded a Gold medal while the Heritage Cider won a Bronze Medal. Meanwhile, Nottingham’s Castle Rock Brewery hosted its Beer of the Year 2014-2015 and awarded Cider of the Year to Cornish Orchards Vintage Dry Cider. Ian Bray, managing director of Fuller’s Beer Company, said: “It is a real joy to see such a wide range of our products receiving success and recognition in different parts of the country. This is testament to everyone’s passion and hard work at Cornish Orchards.”
Microbrewery and bar approved for Ilkeston: An application for a microbrewery and bar in Market Street, Ilkeston, Derbyshire has been approved by Erewash Council. The bar, operating under the name The Burnt Pig, will sell its own ales and support local breweries. Peter Gaughen, on behalf of the applicant, David Clarke, said: “The building has been vacant for some time. The business will add another dimension to the economy of Ilkeston. It would be the first town centre bar which would be able to generate, promote and sell its own products and draw the right clientele into town.” Plans for a smoking shelter were scrapped, meaning smokers will stand on the street. The ground floor of the building was previously an empty shop. It was granted planning permission for use as a drinking establishment in December.
Inverness plan for Nando’s, Frankie & Benny’s and TGI Friday’s goes back to drawing board: Plans to create three new restaurants at a busy Inverness shopping park have gone back to the drawing board after planning officials recommended they be refused. The Hercules Unit Trust, which owns the Inverness Retail Park on the A96 Inverness-Aberdeen road, had submitted plans to convert a large vacant store at the end of last year. It was proposed to turn the unit into three separate restaurants. Three brands were lined up to take on the properties – Frankie & Benny’s, Nando’s and TGI Friday’s. But the plans have been withdrawn and this week councillors at the south planning applications committee were told that the company has entered into pre-application consultations with planners, as if to start again.
UK’s biggest pub beer festival returns to London this Spring: The Craft Beer Company is bringing the UK’s biggest Pub Beer Festival back to Clapham, London this Spring. The ‘Craft 100’ festival will run from 2 to 5 April and will once again showcase 100 beers from the best breweries across the UK with some carefully chosen international guests. Managing director Martin Hayes said: “We ran the festival twice last year and received amazing feedback so we knew we had to hold it again. Once again we aim to bring together some of the very best breweries from the UK and beyond. We want to build on the success of the previous festivals and make this one even bigger and better than before.” The festival is structured to ensure ‘No tickets, No tokens, No hassle.’ Customers just buy a commemorative glass and then ‘go and discover.’
Former Cheltenham nightclub boss jailed for VAT fraud: Former Cheltenham nightclub director Paul Regan, has been jailed for VAT fraud. Regan submitted false invoices in an attempt to steal almost £40,000 in VAT and was jailed for eight months following an investigation by HMRC. The 35-year-old former company director of The Prom Club falsified invoices to fraudulently claim VAT repayments for over a year after the nightclub ceased trading in May 2012. In addition to the custodial sentence, a confiscation order was also granted. Regan has been ordered to repay £23,682.98 in full within six months or serve a further 12 months in jail.