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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Mon 9th Mar 2015 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Greene King to offer another 2,000 apprenticeships: Greene King has reaffirmed its commitment to providing opportunities for young people by offering a further 2,000 apprenticeships over the next 12 months. The company will work with its national apprenticeship provider, Lifetime Training, to help young people hone the skills necessary to progress from team members to general managers through a structured programme of advanced management qualifications. Greene King has just fulfilled its 2014 quota of 2,000, meaning that it has helped support over 4,500 apprentices since 2011. Greene King is aiming to have an apprentice in each of its 1,000 sites at all times. The scheme’s combination of workplace training and academic learning will give the apprentices a wide range of experience working across Greene King’s pub, restaurant and hotel sites. Rooney Anand, Greene King chief executive, said: “It is so important to support young people to get that all-important first step on the career ladder. Apprenticeships provide learners with valuable skills, which will help them to build a career. Our new pledge is a testament to the level of support we provide to the hospitality industry as well as our investment in our employees. We offer opportunities to those of all ages and it is highly encouraging to see that so many of our sites have taken up the programme and we hope that over the coming years we are able to further grow and develop the scheme.” The programme has supported Greene King’s ambition to combat the industry shortage of chefs, and since last summer, more than 75% of all recruited apprentices have been for ‘back of house’ roles including some in the kitchen. Rooney added: “Apprenticeships help to reduce team turnover, increase employee engagement and provide us with the opportunity to grow our own talent by investing in our people and supporting their career ambitions.” Isabelle Pearson, a finalist in the National Apprentice Awards, has completed two apprenticeships at Greene King. The structured apprenticeship programme provided by Greene King has helped her progress from part-time bar staff to managing her own pub in just three years. She said: “The training and support I have received has been invaluable to help me forge a career in the hospitality industry.” Meanwhile, Spirit Pub Company has announced it plans to recruit 600 new candidates to its apprenticeship scheme this year. The announcement will take the pub company’s total number of candidates studying towards or already achieved an apprenticeship to 2,000, by the end of its financial year. Also this morning Starbucks UK has announced the 1,000th graduate of its apprenticeship programme.“We are proud of our apprenticeship programme, the first of its kind for Starbucks globally,” said Lisa Robbins, director of Partner Resources for Starbucks UK. “With 21 graduated apprentices now store managers, and 57 shift supervisors, it proves to us that apprenticeships for young people are a genuine alternative to academic study and are a real path to a retail career. We are passionate about the true potential for apprenticeships and want to bust the myth that a vocational route is not as credible as pursuing higher education.” Starbucks UK plans to offer up to 450 Level 2 apprenticeships this year. Level 2 is a 12-month program that trains apprentices in artisan and customer service skills. In addition, 80 Level 3 apprenticeships will be offered. Level 3 is an advanced apprenticeship in leadership and management. As part of National Apprenticeship Week, running from 9 to 15 March, Starbucks UK will be offering buy one, get one free on all handcrafted drinks for apprentices with NUS apprentice extra cards.

Industry News:

Host of companies sign up for Propel Social Media Masterclass: A host of leading sector companies have signed up for the Propel Social Media Masterclass being held in partnership with Digital Blonde’s Karen Fewell. They include: Spirit Pub Company, Cabana, Pub People Company, Charles Wells, Bill’s Restaurants, JD Wetherspoon, Admiral Taverns, Young’s, Camerons, Ignite Group, Hall & Woodhouse, Loungers, Luminar, Burning Night Group, TCG Management Services, Chilled Pubs, Hickory’s Smokehouse, Good Life Diner, Anglian Country Inns, Yummy Pubs, Trust Inns, PubLove, Oakman Inns and Restaurants and Bulldog Hotel Group. 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 to book.

Tesco axes in-store restaurants boss exits: The executive in charge of Tesco’s group of in-store restaurants and coffee shops has exited the company in what is regarded by commentators as a clear sign that one of former boss Philip Clarke’s key initiatives has failed. Michael Holmes was the head of a division that included restaurant chain Giraffe, Harris + Hoole, Euphorium bakeries, and Decks, the in-store carvery restaurant that was created by Tesco. Last June, he was also put in charge of Dobbies garden centres and the One Stop convenience stores. Under former chief executive Philip Clarke, Tesco opened Giraffe restaurants and Harris + Hoole coffee shops within its supermarkets in an attempt to attract shoppers who had turned their back on the company’s biggest stores. The openings were a key plank of Clarke’s strategy for Tesco. He claimed they would help to make Tesco stores “destinations” for shoppers and families at a time when sales were falling. Tesco paid £50m to buy Giraffe and also bought a stake in Harris + Hoole.

US restaurants post eighth month of LFL sales growth: The US restaurant industry has posted its eighth consecutive month of like-for-like sales growth, according to the industry analysis and research organisation TDn2K. According to TDn2K’s Black Box Intelligence, through its Restaurant Industry Snapshot, based on weekly sales from more than 20,000 restaurants in the United States, like-for-like sales rose 2.1% in February, a slowdown of four percentage points from the growth rate reported for January. However, like-for-like traffic fell 1% during February, down 3.5 percentage points from the growth rate reported in January. Victor Fernandez, executive director of insights and knowledge for TDn2K, said: “Although this drop could seem to be a sign of weakness for restaurant sales in February, the reality is [January’s] results were greatly aided by more favourable winter conditions than were experienced in January of last year, while February was the opposite. February 2015 winter storms were much worse than what was experienced a year ago, negatively impacting sales during the month.” 

Team Margot Foundation launched with support from Beds and Bars: The family of Margot Martini who lost her battle with leukaemia last year, have set up a charity in her name to help raise awareness of how people can register their stem cells, save lives and give people more time with their loved ones. Margot’s dad Yaser Martini said: “As a family we have taken strength from putting our efforts, both physical and emotional, behind the Team Margot Foundation. As hard as it is, particularly when Margot’s passing is still so raw for us all, it’s important that we focus on celebrating her life, celebrating the level of awareness about this terrible illness Margot generated and most importantly, celebrating the number of lives this on-going campaign will save. Early estimates suggest that during our search for a donor for Margot we added over 35,000 people to the stem cell register and raised over £275,000 for leukaemia-related research and charities. This was in large part thanks to the benevolence of those in the trade, particularly the Bridge Walk 2014. The last gathering of this bi-annual charity fundraiser event, was championed by Beds and Bars chief executive Keith Knowles, raising a huge sum.”

ALMR stresses the importance of facts in alcohol policy: Responding to Friday’s publication by the House of Lords EU Home Affairs, Health and Education EU Sub-Committee of their report on an EU Alcohol Strategy, the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) reiterated its call for evidence-based policy, but rejected a larger role for the EU and additional regulatory burdens. ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “This is a helpful and timely contribution to the debate about whether Europe should have a role to play in public health policy. It rightly concludes that EU intervention in this area should be limited and should not stray beyond taxation and product labelling. That has to be the right approach – particularly when we have seen in the past EU suggestions that no alcohol may be sold within 100 metres of a school. Initiatives to tackle specific problems are best left to a local level. Where we part company with the report is on what those local interventions should be and their suggestion that more regulation is the answer. Voluntary partnerships can and do work and it is disappointing that it is not acknowledged. This report highlights a very serious weakness in the current debate about alcohol – namely the lack of a robust, reliable and up-to-date evidence base to underpin policy making at an EU, national and local level. What evidence is available is often out-of-date or partial with significant gaps and at worst it is pure guesswork and assumption – this undermines its credibility and results in a polarised debate. And as usual, it is individual retailers who are caught in the cross fire with ever increasing levels of regulation justified by spurious stats on consumption, health and crime data which seldom bear scrutiny. We need to agree collectively on how we are to measure and identify the problems we face as a society. Only then can we determine the scale of the problem, whether interventions work and what success looks like – in short, we can let the facts get in the way of the scare stories.”

Senior Russia political aide calls for McDonald’s to change its “unhealthy” menu: An influential Russian official has criticised Coca-Cola and McDonald’s for their “unhealthy” products, comparing aggressive advertising campaigns to a ‘war on citizens’. “The aggressive marketing they carry out, which has nothing to do with our culinary traditions, is comparable to a war against our people,” said Gennady Onishchenko, an aide to Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, speaking to radio station Russkaya Sluzhba Novostei. “Our children already drink more Coca-Cola than milk. Talking about McDonald’s – they need to change their menu and secondly the culture of food, not snacking or grabbing food, but proper nutrition for a Russian person,” he added.

Lynx Purchasing warns on rising beef prices: Beef will increasingly command a premium on menus as a global shortage drives up price, warns buying specialist Lynx Purchasing. Along with the prime cuts needed for steaks and Sunday roasts, the impact of higher beef prices is also affecting the offcuts and trim used in menu mainstays such as pies and burgers. With fewer cattle coming to market both in the UK and globally, Lynx expects beef to buck the general downward inflation trend this year and into 2016. The issue is spotlighted in the newly-published Spring 2015 edition of the Lynx Purchasing Market Forecast. Lynx managing director John Pinder said: “As often happens, caterers are getting the blunt end of the price pressure that major supermarkets put on suppliers, which is an international issue and not simply confined to the UK market. The normal effect of rising demand is for supply to increase to meet it, but in the face of retailers’ continued insistence that suppliers maintain low prices, there’s little incentive for farmers to increase beef production. While customers eating out expect beef to occupy a premium slot at the top of the menu pyramid, there can’t be too big a jump between the mid-price and premium dishes on offer. We’re recommending to our customers that they look at alternatives to beef to deliver the all-important ‘wow factor’ at prices that don’t deter their customers.”

Company News:

Harry Ramsden’s set for Yorkshire return: Harry Ramsden’s is to return to the roots of its founder with the opening of a brand new outlet in Yorkshire this spring. In partnership with Vikesh and Dimple Patel of JVP Ventures, who in late 2013 became the first franchisees signed by the company, post-acquisition, three new outlets will be opening in the county before the end of the year. Harry Ramsden’s will return to Yorkshire next month (April 2015), when the first of these openings takes place in Shipley. Located in the town’s Wrose Road, the new outlet will take the form of a ‘traditional local’ and the purpose-built unit, which extends to 1000 sq ft, will bring with it ten full and part-time jobs. Further openings are already being planned to take place in Huddersfield and Sheffield from April onwards. Franchisee Vikesh Patel said: “We have spent a great deal of time and effort in identifying and securing suitable sites. However, that process has been made slightly easier since both Dimple and myself were born and brought up in Yorkshire. Time and taste move on and whilst I think comparisons will be inevitable, our new Harry Ramsden’s outlets will reflect the brand’s evolution.” Joe Teixeira, chief executive of Harry Ramsden’s added: ‘‘It has always been a dearly held ambition to bring the Harry Ramsden’s name back to Yorkshire so I am delighted that we are able to announce the opening of Shipley.’’ As well as recently recording a 9.7% increase in annual like-for-like sales, Harry Ramsden’s is now one of the Top 40 ‘Eating Out’ brands in the UK, having recently debuted at No 15 in the CGA Peach BrandTrack report.

Laine’s brings The Full English Kitchen to Battersea site: Laine Pub Company, the London to Brighton multiple operator led by Gavin George and Gary Pettet, is introducing Soho food pop-up The Full English Kitchen to its Candlemaker site in Battersea High Street. The Full English Kitchen was created by experienced former pub operator Michele Cremona to focus on traditional British dishes and to make use of spaces in Soho cocktail bars that would otherwise be closed during the day. Cremona said: “The Full English Kitchen adopts a farm to fork principle to guarantee provenance and to support small British family farms.” The cornerstone of the menu is the full English breakfast which includes dry-cured free range bacon from Berkshire pigs, large free range Somerset eggs and free range British pork sausages made exclusively for The Full English Kitchen by The Sausage Roll Sanctuary. Capitalising on the wider popularity of the all-day-breakfast format, The Full English Kitchen moved into street markets, events and other venues, most recently into a residency at Laine’s Joker pub at The Angel, Islington. Gavin George said: “We were impressed with the quality and detail of the offering and with Michele’s steadfast values and we are delighted that she has accepted The Candlemaker as a permanent home for The Full English Kitchen.” Laine’s has also confirmed that Battersea resident Cremona would be applying her considerable pub experience to the operation of the entire Candlemaker site, taking over management duties from today and launching The Full English Kitchen on 30 March.

Latest Pesto, a Marston’s site, smashes sales record: Pesto, the Italian pub and restaurant group led by Neil Gatt and Sara Edwards, is celebrating the opening of the latest Pesto in a Pub at The Dicconson Arms in Lancashire with record sales. Pesto has invested £350,000 in the project, to which Marston’s added £30,000. Gatt said: “It is very satisfying taking a closed down pub and turning it into something that can take £30,000 in its first week and setting a new record in the process. It was important that we delivered a transformational scheme on this project and we have done just that.” Pesto is in the process of building a pipeline of pubs in support of its growth strategy for 2015/16. “We are negotiating on a number of properties, including another pub with Marston’s,” said Gatt. “I have said before that we want to do more, many more in fact. Everyone knows that pubs are closing each week, but the challenge is to find something that has all of the attributes to make a successful Pesto – they are out there and The Dicconson Arms is proof of that.”

Growler Beers launches search for £100,000 on Crowdcube: Growler Beers UK, the Edinburgh-based retailer that sells draught beer in growlers, refillable one-litre jugs, for drinking at home, has launched a campaign via Crowdcube to raise £100,000 to fund its expansion. The company is offering 10% of its equity in return for the funding, which puts a value of £1m on the whole concern. Since it began in 2013 with a single store in Morningside, Edinburgh, it has turned over more than £100,000 and claims to have more than 4,000 of its Growler bottles circulating Edinburgh and the surrounding area. Stuart Dinning, Growler Beers’ founder and operations director, said the company aims to have five units within the next five years and to continue this trend taking the company to hopefully a minimum of ten units throughout the country by 2022 to 2025. “The company aims to return for a second round of funding to take the brand throughout the whole of the UK, strengthening our brand so it is strong enough offer on the franchise market,” he said. Rewards on offer to investors range from 10% discount on all purchases through to the ability to purchase their beer at the wholesale price, for anyone investing £5,000. By the end of the first day, on Friday, the offer had attracted seven investors, the largest with £1,000, who had put up a total of just short of £1,500.

Hakkasan to open Omnia nightclub in Las Vegas this week: UK-based restaurant and nightclub company Hakkasan is to open Omnia nighclub at Caeser’s Palace in Las Vegas this week. Opening nights, 12 and 13 March, will feature DJ Calvin Harris, who has signed a three-year deal whereby he earns an rumoured $400,000 per appearance. The $75 million nightclub takes over the former Pure Nightclub space at the front of Caesars Palace with views of the Strip. The company claims the 75,000-square-foot nightclub will have the largest dance floor in Las Vegas as well as a mezzanine level for VIPs and a rooftop garden.

Las Iguanas sale to be concluded by June: A sale of 38-strong Las Iguanas is expected to be completed by June, The Sunday Telegraph has reported. The company’s owner private equity firm Bowmark Capital hired BDO last month and will begin a sale process this month. The company reported pre-tax profit of £4.9m in the year to the end of March 2014, a rise of 13% on the year before. Another three restaurants are scheduled to open by the end of June. 

Leon boosts finance team with two ex-Wagamama executives: Leon has bolstered its management team with two significant hires as it prepares for substantial growth. Antony Perring will head up the Leon finance department as chief financial officer, while Chris Burford will take on the role of director of finance. The pair worked together at Wagamama for almost a decade as financial director and financial controller, during which time the restaurant group tripled in size from 35 to 110 company-owned sites. In total they have over 45 years’ combined experience in working across private equity and venture capital backed enterprises in the hospitality, leisure, IT, retail and financial services sectors. Leon currently operates 21 sites and plans to open 12 new sites in 2015, with Kingsway in Holborn set to open later this month. Leon Co-Founder John Vincent said: “To achieve our potential we need a team of world-class leaders who have relevant experience, and who share our values. Antony and Chris were the lead candidates in a very thorough and far-reaching search. They’re joining at a really exciting time for Leon. 2014 was a very strong year, and we now have big plans for this year, with twelve new restaurant openings.”

Carluccio’s named for Solihull development: Carluccio’s chain has been named as one of the likely occupants of a new building to be built on Mell Square in Solihull High Street in the West Midlands. The developer IM Properties, which bought Mell Square for £44m in 2013, wants to demolish a block of buildings at 159 and 161 High Street and 5 and 7 Drury Lane and replace it with a four-storey block containing a ground floor restaurant and offices. The occupant of the restaurant is “understood to be Carluccio’s”, according to The Birmingham Post. Plans are due to be discussed at a Solihull Council meeting on Wednesday, 11 March. 

Restaurateurs launch chicken wings brand in Nottingham: Restaurateurs Luis Alonso and Saffron Long have launched a chicken wings concept, Bunk Wings, in Nottingham’s Lace Market – with a complete focus on chicken wings and a choice of a dozen or so types of seasoning. “American is very trendy at the moment,” said Alonso. “Rather than do burgers we thought we would concentrate on something different.” The duo also operates Dino’s in Warser Gate and Pepper Rocks bar in Pepper Street. They are also planning a street hot dog stall off Bridlesmith Gate.

Signature Brew offers more equity: Signature Brew, the “music-inspired” brewing operation, known for its collaboration beers with musicians, has increased the amount of equity it is offering in its fund-raising push on Crowdcube from 13% to 20%. The concern is looking to raise £125,000 in order to open its own brewery. Co-founder Sam McGregor said the change had been made “following discussions with investors”. By Friday afternoon, the campaign had raised £77,630, leaving it 62% funded with nine days left as from today (Monday). Tonight McGregor and his business partner Tom Bott will be available to meet investors and prospective investors at the Union Tavern in Westbourne Park, West London from 6pm.

Punch loses appeal over plan for homes behind pub: Punch Taverns has lost an appeal against a local council’s refusal of planning permission to build ten homes at the back of The Marquis of Granby pub in Waddingham, Lincolnshire. In a report, the Planning Inspectorate said the proposal, turned down by West Lindsey District Council, would help maintain and support businesses in the village and two planned affordable homes would help local people stay in the area. But the judgment said the closeness of the planned homes to the pub meant its occupants would suffer poor standards of amenity. 

Camden Town Brewery attracts another £130,000 after hitting £1.5m crowdfunding target: Camden Town Brewery attracted another £130,000 in investment yesterday after hitting its £1.5m target in a crowdfunding campaign on Crowdcube on Saturday, less than a month after launching. So far, 1,482 investors have pledged investment of £1,632,000, which means the company is 108% funded. The company will offer a total of 4% of its equity for £3m of investment. The company wants to fund a new brewery – and its fund-raising has another 30 days left.

Draft House wins Zomato’s ‘most popular bar in London Beer Week’ contest: The Draft House in Seething Lane in the City of London has been declared “most popular bar during London Beer Week” in a competition organised by the restaurant discovery site Zomato. Customers at participating bars were encouraged to check in using the Zomato app as a vote for the most popular bar of London Beer Week last month. At the end of London Beer Week the bar with the most check-ins was Zomato’s London Beer Week’s most popular bar – and the Draft House was a “significant” amount ahead of its rivals. As a reward, Zomato has given the staff at the Seething Lane venue, part of the seven-strong Draft House group led by managing director Charlie McVeigh and chaired by Luke Johnson, vouchers for rival bars “so they can all go out”. 

M&B’s Harvester brand to feed mums for free on Mother’s Day: Mitchells & Butlers 200-strong Harvester brand, which sells 30 million meals a year, is to feed mums for free on Mother’s Day, 13 March. The offer only applies after 6pm although no voucher is required – customers just need to bring their mum. 

Euro Garages opens first drive-through Starbucks outlets in Liverpool area: Euro Garages has opened the first drive-through Starbucks in the Liverpool area, in the suburb of Fazakerley, with a second to follow in Speke next month. Sugarbrook Starbucks, on the East Lancs Road, opened its doors on Friday. A second store will open on 1 April as part of a new £1.75m petrol forecourt station on Speke Boulevard. Euro Garages said the sites were chosen as “gateway locations” for commuters heading into the city and local motorists using the motorway network. Simon Redfern, Starbucks’ communications director for Europe, said: “We are seeing a very popular response to our drive-through stores.” Euro Garages said the development of the Liverpool drive-throughs were are an important milestone in the company’s desire to open and operate 100 Starbucks stores by the end of next year.

Mambos owner doubles up: The owner of the Mambos Italiano restaurant and bar in St Hilda Street, South Shields has acquired a second outlet in the town, the Arbeias eatery in Winchester Street. Kevin Kasaei plans to convert the premises, which opened in November 2012 but closed just a few months later, into Mambo’s Wine and Dine, which will open at the beginning of next month after a major refurbishment. Kasaei, who opened the original Mambos in 2011, told The South Shields Gazette he believed the new outlet will soon become a destination venue and help the regeneration of the town. Mambo’s Wine and Dine will put an emphasis not just on Italian food but on more widespread Mediterranean dishes. Kasaei said: “It’s something completely different for the town, not just a restaurant but a cocktail and champagne bar where you can go for just a drink or for a coffee and a light snack during the day. It’s a new concept, and I believe it will offer a place where people in the town can go, rather than travel to Newcastle and elsewhere.” The new venue will result in the creation of more than 20 jobs.

Fuller’s Stable chain seeks to acquire Winchester site: The Stable, the craft cider and gourmet pizza restaurant brand 51% owned by Fuller Smith & Turner, is looking to take over the premises of a failed bar in Winchester. The Bar in the Square closed in November – it had previously been an All Bar One. The design statement in the Stable planning application says: “We are led to believe that the current use of the building as a bar is not supported by local residents, and given its current condition and appearance we hope you are in support of this applicant’s intention to open a restaurant at this premises.” The Stable, which was founded by Richard and Nikki Coope, currently has seven outlets, in Bristol, Bath, Bridport, Falmouth, Fistral Beach, Weymouth and Poole, with an eighth due to open in Plymouth in the spring. Fuller’s acquired its stake in the business in June last year for £7.3m.

Simon French – we think large cap leisure stocks are overpriced: Cenkos leisure analyst Simon French has issued a note in which he argues large cap leisure stocks are currently overpriced. He said: “We think large cap leisure stocks are overpriced trading on an average 2015E P/E of 20.0x and an EV/Ebitda of 11.4x whilst yielding 2.4%. We rate Whitbread and Carnival as ‘Buy’. Whitbread has the highest exposure to the UK consumer, which we are very bullish on. In addition it has clearly defined and identifiable growth strategies for Premier Inn and Costa, which we think will be demerged within 12 months. Carnival is relatively cheap relative to its recent past and retains good forecast upgrade potential with the highest operational gearing.”

Southend hotel sold to Indian group off asking price of £1.8m: The three-star Westcliff Hotel in Westcliff, Southend, Essex has been sold in an off-market deal by agent Fleurets for an undisclosed sum to MGM Muthu Hotels, part of the MG Muthu Group from India. Fleurets was instructed by the vendor in December to put the hotel up for sale with an asking price of £1.8m. Fleurets director Bob Whittle said: “The Westcliff Hotel is a charming, well-maintained and long-established hotel business with 55 en-suite letting bedrooms, many with sea views. There is also a spacious reception lounge, split level bar, a 70-cover restaurant, two function suites and three syndicate rooms.” The Westcliff is the second purchase in the UK for MGM Muthu Hotels, which bought the Belstead Brook Hotel in Ipswich in November last year. MGM Muthu Hotels, a Global Hotels group, operates 15 other properties in Portugal, Spain, India, Singapore, the UK and the Caribbean. It also has interests in other sectors including logistics, mining, construction and restaurants.

Papa John’s loses bid for second Gloucester outlet: The Papa John’s takeaway pizza chain has lost a bid to open a second outlet in Gloucester, in a former Betfred bookies in Silverdale Parade, Hucclecote. Gloucester Council’s planning committee rejected the application on the grounds of the impact it would have on nearby amenities and the close proximity to a house. The decision was made despite a city council highways assessment which said the proposed takeaway “would not result in a significant increase in vehicular trips”. Sarah Butterfield, from Alliance Planning, who spoke on behalf of Papa John’s at the meeting, said: “Papa John’s understand the concerns relating to traffic generation. 65% of all their orders would be delivered to customers and they would encourage staff to deliver at least two orders in every journey. The traffic generated would be normal. The store would create jobs and benefit the local economy.” However, councillors and local residents felt the road suffered already from too much traffic.

Community-owned pub celebrates first anniversary with ‘Co-hoperative’ ale: The Fox and Goose in Heptonstall Road, Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire’s only community-owned pub, is celebrating its first anniversary as a co-operative this month with a specially brewed beer called Co-hoperative. The 3.8% golden blonde beer was created by Mallinsons Brewing Company of Huddersfield, using hops selected by the pub’s assistant manager, Cayn White, and Fox and Goose regulars. The Fox and Goose was bought by the local community after being threatened with closure because of the landlady’s ill-health. It remains the only co-operative pub in West Yorkshire, although there are now 33 across the UK currently listed by the Plunkett Foundation. Chris Greaves, chairman of the pub’s board of directors, said: “The co-operative model works incredibly well. The pub has gone from strength to strength since it was bought by the community.” The Fox and Goose has seen a substantial increase in sales, he said, with figures recorded over the first nine months of operating indicating a profitable first year.

Sizzling Pub Co becomes Coventry City FC sponsor: Mitchells & Butlers’ Sizzling Pub Co chain has become an “official club partner” of the League One football team Coventry City FC. The deal will see the chain take advertising boards at all home matches as well as scoreboard advertising. It also becomes the official sponsors of homegrown players Lee Burge and Ivor Lawton. Mark Walter, of Mitchells & Butlers, said: “We have a strong presence in Coventry and the surrounding area, and this is good news for the Sky Blues and good news for us as it will help to raise our profile even further in the city. We are looking forward to working with the club between now and the end of the season.” Sizzling Pub Company will also have two places in the Legends Membership, which includes a range of matchday benefits for its guests for the remainder of the season. The brand has a dozen outlets in Coventry, and the deal includes player appearances at its venues in the city. 

McDonald’s appeals over refusal of permission to open restaurant near Newcastle’s biggest school: McDonald’s has lodged an appeal against the refusal of planning permission to open a two-storey drive-through restaurant close to the biggest school in Newcastle upon Tyne. The original application was rejected by Newcastle Council last September, and McDonald’s had six months to appeal which it did just one day before the deadline, leading to criticism of the company for leaving it so late. However, a McDonald’s spokesperson told The Newcastle Chronicle: “The decision to appeal was carefully considered and it took a considerable amount of time to review all the information available to us.” McDonald’s applied to open on the site of The Crofters Lodge pub on the junction of Ponteland Road and Kenton Lane, a short distance from Kenton School, which has 2,000 pupils. The application sparked huge local protests, not least from the school. The school’s head, Sarah Holmes-Carne told The Chronicle: “Kenton School has not changed its view. We will continue to support the ‘stopmcdonaldskenton’ protest group for all the same reasons we did originally. It is not a good idea. We are facing a national obesity crisis so why on earth are they proposing a fast-food restaurant near a school at such cheap lunchtime prices that McDonald’s offers?” McDonald’s has been invited to a public meeting being held this Thursday by campaigners, and a company spokesman said: “We are reviewing the invitation to attend the public meeting and will respond in due course.” One of the organisers of the meeting, local councillor David Stockdale, said: “While legally they can appeal I believe morally they should not. The people were against it as was a democratically elected council. They have asked for a three-day public inquiry and they have deep pockets to throw everything at it. We will be fighting back with community spirit.” The appeal will go before a government planning inspector. No date has yet been set.

Matthew Clark report record turn-out for wine tasting: Matthew Clark is toasting its most successful customer showcase ever which took place last Tuesday at Tobacco Dock in London. With nearly a thousand visitors, numbers were up 15% on last year’s tasting. Simon Jerrome, Matthew Clark’s purchasing director said: “This is by far the best tasting I’ve witnessed in my 18 years at Matthew Clark. The visitor numbers reached an all-time high and we received a thoroughly positive reaction from our customers and suppliers. We’re now looking forward to taking our producers around the country to show customers in Edinburgh, Bristol, Birmingham and York why we love wine.”

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