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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Wed 25th Mar 2015 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Center Parcs chief credits company's success to sticking to founder's original vision: Center Parcs, the holiday village company, has remained successful by sticking firmly to the vision that its Dutch founder, Piet Derksen, had in the 1950s when he laid down the key principles of the venture he was looking to start, according to the UK company's chairman, Martin Robinson. Speaking to nearly 200 senior hospitality industry colleague at the annual Arena Savoy Lecture in London, Robinson said: "All the things you read in the press about the 98% occupancy and the 65% repeat rate are true. Profits have grown every single year since Center Parcs was set up in the UK in 1997, even in the big downturn we've just come out of." The main reason for Center Parcs' success, Robinson said, was "the sheer genius of the original idea", including people taking short breaks of three or four days, escaping from an urban environment and going into the countryside to do different, active things, "and the fact that we have stuck with that original idea.” He said: “While the product has been very much modified over the years, those ideas still apply as much today as they did then. So the main reason for the success of Center Parcs was that the original idea was such a fabulous idea." Center Parcs has been helped by exceedingly high barriers to entry, especially in the UK, because of the planning regime in this country, Robinson said: "It took us ten years to get the planning permission for our fifth site, Woburn, which finally opened last year, and that was despite having all the right contacts in all the right places. Getting planning permission for something like this in the UK is virtually impossible." Robinson, who has been chairman of the UK company since 1999, argued that Center Parcs' management team "are exceptionally good at three things.” He said: “One is operational complexity, the second is closeness to the customer. We do a tremendous amount of market research, and a third of our customers, which is an extraordinary number, fill in online guest questionnaires, so we have all the information about what they thought of every element of their stay. Thirdly, revenue management: in recent years we've become very good at yield management, on pricing. We also revenue-manage in terms of all the non-accommodation spending, food, all the leisure things, the retail. We're always managing the offer, to improve it the whole time, but also to try to make the margins better. We've also always tried to stick to our capex programme, and if I've learnt one thing about this industry, you've got to keep on top of your capex. If you don't, ultimately, your business will die. When we sold Center Parcs Europe, it got taken over by a business that hasn't been true to that ethos, and the business has suffered accordingly." Underlying all of that, he said, "is an ethos of continuous innovation: lots and lots of small things all the time”. Robinson told his audience: “A substantial part of our customer base go back every year: if you went to a Center Parcs today, something like 35% of the customers will have been there last year, and something like 28% will have also been the year before. There are many people who have been for ten or 12 consecutive years, when their children have been from the age of about three to the age of about 15. But they will spot, every year, some two or three new things, be it a new restaurant, or a new activity on the lake, or whatever."

Industry News:

Starbucks ditches 'Race Together' messaging on coffee cups after backlash: Starbucks has already rowed back on one plank of its Race Together initiative to start a national conversation on racial issues in the United States: its baristas will not write Race Together on customers' cups any more. This aspect of the diversity and racial inequality campaign in the US has been ditched after it was criticised as opportunistic and inappropriate. Starbucks spokesman Jim Olson said the coffee chain's race initiative would carry on without the messages. Company founder Howard Schultz told staff: "While there has been criticism of the initiative – and I know this hasn't been easy for any of you – let me assure you that we didn't expect universal praise.," Some customers said they did not want to talk about race while being served coffee. The #racetogether hashtag was also hijacked after being promoted on Twitter. Ninette Musili, a 19-year-old African-American student at the University of Michigan, said: "Most people come to Starbucks for coffee. Race is an uncomfortable thing to bring up, especially in a Starbucks."
Sussex schoolboy wins FutureChef 2015: A 15-year-old from Horsham, Sussex has beaten more than 8,000 other teenagers to the title of Springboard's FutureChef 2015. Tom Hamblet, a pupil at Tanbridge House School in Horsham, was one of 12 regional winners in the finals of the competition, held at Westminster Kingsway College, where his poached fillets of sole and fish cream foam won over a team of highly experienced judges who included David Mulcahy, culinary director at Sodexo UK and Ireland, Richard Davies, the Michelin-starred executive chef at the Manor House in Wiltshire, and Joe Queen, executive chef at Tennents Training Academy. Springboard’s FutureChef is a nationwide culinary drive with 500 schools participating, designed to help young people aged 12 to 16 learn the skills of cooking and provide inspiration for building a career within the hospitality industry. Tom Hamblet's prize includes a visit to Henley Regatta where he will work with top chefs while his parents enjoy a boat trip along the Thames.
Seattle restaurants prepare for $15 an hour minimum wage: Restaurants in Seattle, Washington State are warning that the looming rise in the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour could soon force them to cut back on staff and raise prices. The increase, up from $9.32 an hour, is due to be phased in starting 1 April. The initial minimum wage will be $11 an hour. Employers with 500 or fewer workers must increase their pay to $15 an hour by January 2019. Larger employers, with 501 or more workers, have just two years to raise their wages to $15. In a survey conducted in 2014 by the Washington Restaurant Association, the top four rpredictions by restaurants for what they would have to do were: raise prices, lay off employees, reduce employee hours or close their business entirely. Observers predict the Seattle restaurant industry may experiment heavily with newer automated ordering systems.

Cask Matters launches e-learning programme for pubs backed by host of top industry operators: An e-learning programme for pub staff on how to look after cask ale has been launched by the industry group Cask Matters with the backing of pub operators and brewers including Punch Taverns, Enterprise Inns, Marstons, Shepherd Neame, Stonegate Pub Company, Spirit Group, Fuller Smith & Turner, Star Pubs & Bars and Charles Wells. The e-learning programme, called Cask Beer Uncovered, consists of five short films covering the brewing process, beer ingredients, cask beer conditioning in the pub cellar, choosing the right range of cask beer, serving the perfect pint and advice on promoting cask beer and matching beer with food. Each five-minute film is followed by a multiple-choice test, and staff who score at least 75% across all five modules can print off a Cask Beer Uncovered certificate. Paul Nunny, executive director of Cask Marque, launching the Cask Beer Uncovered programme at a reception at The Morpeth Arms on Millbank, Westminster, attended by the community pubs minister, Kris Hopkins, said: “Cask ale is the category in the pub that is growing the quickest, and to maintain that momentum we need to ensure that the staff have the same passion as we do, and can communicate to customers about the product. Thanks to the support of the industry, we’ve been able to make this training programme free to all barstaff. Our main target is clearly pub staff, but we’re hoping that consumers who are interested in cask will also take the lessons.” CPL Online, part of the sector training company CPL Training Group, has provided the internet platform to deliver the training, and funding for the programme came from brewers and pub companies, and also SIBA, the Society of Independent Brewers, the Campaign for Real Ale and Cask Marque.

Company News:

Jamie Oliver to open second site in Hong Kong: The chef-entrepreneur Jamie Oliver is to open a second Jamie’s Italian site in Hong Kong, eight months after his first Hong Kong venue opened in Causeway Bay on Hong Kong Island. The second branch is due to open in Harbour City, a large shopping mall in Tsim Sha Tsui, on the Kowloon side of Hong Kong harbour, in late May or early June. Jamie's Italian is franchised to Big Cat Group in Hong Kong. Oliver said: “When you have restaurants in another country, it’s a bit like giving your baby away. You want to give our baby to someone you trust. We are protective [of the brand] and choose the right partners. We [open restaurants] at a speed that’s appropriate; we don’t dream of global domination.”

McDonald’s holds '24 hours of joy' marketing initiative: McDonald’s launched a "24 hours of joy” marketing campaign yesterday, a one-day advertising campaign across 24 cities. It comes after the company reported its worst sales performance in a decade and replaced its chief executive. It will be the food giant’s biggest global marketing push since its “I’m lovin’ it” campaign in 2004. McDonald's started its "imlovinit24" campaign with a giant seven-metre-wide coffee cup in Sydney filled with balls for commuters to dive into. In London, at around 4pm on Tuesday, the pop star Jessie J hosted a surprise concert on a double-decker bus. Deborah Wahl, McDonald's chief marketing officer, said: "Customer service is the focus of everything we do, and each day we aspire to serve joy to millions of people. Today, we're bringing the world together in a fun, positive way like only McDonald's can."
Pizza Hut Delivery franchisee named for failing to pay the minimum wage: A Pizza Hut Delivery franchisee was included in yesterday’s list issued by the government of companies who have failed to pay the minimum wage. A Pizza Hut spokesman said: “We take the welfare of our employees very seriously and are investigating the allegations that have been brought against a franchisee of Pizza Hut Delivery. As this is ongoing we’re unable to comment further. “ Call & Deliver, trading as Pizza Hut, Heckmondwike, in West Yorkshire, neglected to pay £163.45 to nine workers.
Angela Malik Asian Deli owes creditors £456,000: A statement of affairs arising from the insolvency of Asian Malik Asian Deli reports that a total deficiency of £456,000 is expected to arise. The business closed its two sites last month after it failed to hit turnover targets. Trade creditors are owed £60,000, with staff owed £18,000 and the bank £21,000. Shareholders are owed £343,000.
Pull’d hits crowdfunding target: Pull’d, the new slow-cooked fast casual brand led by a former adviser to Prezzo and Tasty, Sam Plumptre, and the corporate financier Chris Clarke, has hit its crowdfunding target on Crowdcube. It was looking to raise £100,000 in return for 20% of its equity and has raised £120,000 from 50 investors. The brand launched its first site in the City of London in September 2014 after raising £323,000 from 25 investors. The pitch stated: "As of 12 February 2015, we had processed circa 10,000 transactions of circa 25,000 individual products, generating revenues of circa £64,000. We believe we have achieved a lot in a short timeframe but there are still many initiatives we want to implement to grow sales with the help of the proceeds of the fundraising. Our site has a 1,000 sq ft central kitchen which has the capacity to service a further one to two sites. We believe this will allow our next one to two sites to be launched with lower capital and operating expenditure, which will help margins for the overall business of Pull'd.” The company forecast turnover of £350,000 in the year to December 2015 with negative ebitda of £20,000 and a pre-tax loss of £54,400.
Sky News – Guy Hands in final three to buy Malmaison: The investor Guy Hands is one of about three remaining bidders for the Malmaison Group, which has been put up for sale for more than £350m, Sky News has reported. Hands’s firm Terra Firma owns Four Seasons, a healthcare group, Odeon Cinemas and Wyevale Garden Centres, with at least two of those businesses likely to be sold in the next 18 months. Hands and his wife Julia already own the boutique group Hand Picked Hotels.
Glendola Leisure surrenders lease of Brighton sites after 39 years: Glendola Leisure, led by Alex Salussolia, has surrendered the lease on its Brighton sites, The Loft, Smugglers and 10 Below, in 10 Ship Street, Brighton, to the landlord, Enterprise Inns. All three venues closed their doors for the last time at the weekend. The Loft is a 250-capacity dance music nightclub, while Smugglers is a sports pub and 10 Below, formerly the Jazz Place, is a 120-capacity club. A message on the website said: “As some may and some may not be aware, we received the news that every venue hates to hear, that our three venues, Smugglers, The Loft and 10 Below, have been sold and will be shutting their doors for the last time this weekend. What the future holds for them, who knows, but in the meantime we want to thank everyone, promoters, customers and staff alike who have enjoyed memorable times with us in the last 39 years.” Salussolia told Propel: “Glendola has agreed to surrender our lease back to Enterprise after 39 years. Enterprise offered us a commercially attractive offer to surrender the lease as they had an offer for the freehold title. Saddened as we are to be moving on from Smugglers, the commercial reality is, we can achieve better returns elsewhere in our developing portfolio. New positions within the company are being investigated for the staff by way of transfers, but undoubtedly this will not suit everyone, and in this case redundancy will be offered. It is our understanding that the property will be closed for at least three months and will re-open, in what format we are unaware. I hope to be announcing shortly details of two new sites for Glendola and a further UK hotel development for our Carlton Hotels division.”
Wetherspoon lines up Forfar property deal: JD Wetherspoon is set to acquire council offices in Forfar, Angus (population; 13,206) owned by Angus Council, according to local media reports. Councillors will decided tomorrow whether to sell the buildings at The Cross in a deal for £350,000, £50,000 less than Wetherspoon offered last year. The original offer trigged a formal marketing process, but no formal offers were received for the 9,500 sq ft building by the closing date of 12 December. Wetherspoon subsequently made another approach with a reduced £350,000 bid. A full meeting of Angus Council tomorrow will decide whether to accept the offer. The alternative is a cost of more than £400,000 in the next three years to maintain buildings due to be vacated by councillors and officials.

Work starts on Luminar’s £3m Basildon redevelopment plan:
Work has begun on a £3m scheme to redevelop Luminar’s nightclub presence in Basildon, Essex. Demolition has begun of Luminar’s Liquid, Envy, New York New York and JJs venues at Basildon's Festival Leisure Park. The nightclub complex is being replaced with three restaurants and a children's soft play centre which are likely to create 70 jobs. Luminar is developing the neighbouring Sky Bar into a nightclub..
Ivy Chelsea Garden set for 30 March opening: The Ivy Chelsea Garden, the second offshoot for the venerable Richard Caring-owned Ivy in West Street, Mayfair, London is due to open on Monday, 30 March, in the premises formerly occupied by Henry J Beans, in King’s Road, Chelsea, West London, with half of the tables available with no reservation. The bar lounge, café and restaurant, designed by Martin Brudnizki , who was responsible for the designs of the Ivy Market Grill in Covent Garden, the first offshoot of the West Street site, which opened late last year, and other sites including Holborn Dining Room, Hix and 34, will have room for 155 covers inside, with space for another 120 outside in what is described as an "extensive orangery, terrace and garden". The menu, according to the Hot Dinners website, will include raw yellow fin tuna carpaccio with spiced avocado, lime zest, creme fraiche and coriander shoots; chopped lobster rigatoni bake with Amalfi lemon and zucchini; the Chelsea garden salad – thinly shaved raw garden vegetables with avocado hummus and a Manuka honey dressing; and poached hen's eggs with sliced avocado and roasted vine tomatoes on toasted seed loaf with a spiced sesame yoghurt dressing. Meanwhile The Ivy itself, which closed in January for a major makeover in preparation for its 100th anniversary, is due to reopen in May. A charity auction takes place today (Wednesday 25 March) at Sotheby's in London of all the restaurant's previous contents, with everything from cocktail shakers, cutlery, glassware and linen to a Peter Blake painting of Marilyn Monroe and the restaurant's famous front doors, which are estimated at between £1,000 and £1,500. All the proceeds will go to the charity Child Bereavement UK.

Columbo Group hires Petersham Nurseries head chef: The bar, restaurant and nightclub operator Columbo Group, led by Steve Ball and Riz Shaikh, has hired Cat Ashton as head chef for its West London gastropub Paradise by way of Kensal Green. From February 2013 to April 2014 Ashton held the position of head chef at Petersham Nurseries, Richmond, South West London after the departure of Skye Gyngell, to whom she was sous chef. Ashton also worked in her native Australia for Momo and Atomica Café, Melbourne, as well as at The Kitchin, Edinburgh, and PortSide Parlour, Hackney. She will oversee the menus across the Kensal Green venue, including the 100-cover newly refurbished dining room, front bar and 30-cover private dining room.
PizzaLuxe looks set to miss crowdfunding target: PizzaLuxe, the fledgling better pizza operator led by Harrods' former director of food, Paul Goodale, looks set to miss its crowdfunding target after raising less than £20,000 in the past fortnight. A total of 101 investors had pledged £274,000 by yesterday morning, 54% of its £500,000 target in return for 30% of its equity, with three days left. Just over 80 investors had pledged £255,000 by 11 March, meaning the crowdfunding drive has stalled in the past fortnight. PizzaLuxe operates sites at Trinity Leeds and at Westfield Stratford in East London and is due to open in Shoreditch, East London in April. The company is expected to turn over £959,000 in the year to March 2015, producing ebitda of £101,000 and pre-tax profit of £51,000.
Frog Pubs launches Great British Beers series in France: The micro-pub operator Frog Pubs, which operates nine sites in France and was founded in 1993 in Paris by Englishman Paul Chantler, is to induct its French customers yet further into the joys of British cask ale with the launch of a Great British Beers series, based on iconic and historic British beer styles. Beers in the collection will be released on tap between March and September 2015 in the nine sites. The beers include: Burton Pale Ale, London Porter, Yorkshire Bitter, Scottish Ale, London Ale and East Kentish Golden Ale. The company’s brewing division, FrogBeer, has been awarded four medals from three different beer competitions: Concours Général Agricole 2015 (Salon de l'Agriculture, France), Dublin Craft Beer Cup 2015 and Brussels Beer Challenge 2014.

PizzaExpress launches crowd-sourced search for new pizza:
For only the second time in its 50-year history, PizzaExpress is giving customers the chance to create their own pizza. The winning creation will appear on the menu at more than 440 PizzaExpress restaurants across the UK later this year. The winner will receive £10,000 and a holiday. Entrants will be able to see their creations on the Create Your New Favourite website and share their entries on social media. Entries will be whittled down to just five by a panel of judges before going to the public vote from 23 June until 15 July.The head of menu at PizzaExpress, Holly Davies, said: “Everyone has a favourite when they visit PizzaExpress. Over the years we’ve invented some true classics – the American Hot, the Sloppy Giuseppe and the La Reine to name just a few. As we turn 50, we want a true pizza fan to create the next icon of our menu and a new favourite for the next 50 years.”
Burger King to release Whopper fragrance: Burger King has announced it is to produce a perfume in Japan which has the scent of one of its burgers. The company has insisted the Whopper grilled beefburger-scented cologne is not a joke, despite its release date being set for 1 April. The date marks the US company's Whopper Day, a Burger King spokesman said. The limited edition Flame Grilled fragrance will be on sale for 5,000 yen (£28) per purchase of a Whopper burger.

Wadworth re-opens Reading pub under Beer House concept: The Wiltshire brewer and retailer Wadworth has re-opened the Eldon Arms in Reading under its new "Beer House" concept, part of a wider segmentation process which has seen its pub estate divided into five easily identifiable segments each with their own character and customer focus. Changes include an open-plan bar area (the pub had previously a two-bar set-up) and a revamp of the snug lounge area. The company said  the defining factors of a Wadworth "Beer House" included traditional pub games on offer, and a minimum of six cask ales, including regularly changing local micro-brews. Customers can now order a Wadworth "tasting paddle" allowing them to sample their choice of three third-pints of ale for the price of a single pint.
Camerons passes on duty cut to tenants and customers: The North East of England brewer and retailer Camerons Brewery has passed on last week’s one penny cut in beer duty to all of its tenants. Across the 14 managed pubs in the Camerons retail estate, customers will be given the choice to receive their 1p back or donate it to a local charity the Hartlepool Special Needs Support Group. Every 1p donated will matched with a penny donation by Camerons. Operations director Joe Smith said: “Following the cut in beer duty as announced by the Chancellor on Wednesday it is only right that this saving was passed on to our customers. It is difficult to change price points in our pubs for the reduction of 1p so we came up with the solution of offering customers the opportunity to take their 1p saving or donate it to the Hartlepool Special Needs Support Group charity, which Camerons supports. In addition we are matching every penny we receive from our customers with a penny of our own, so we will raise some much needed funds to this fantastic local charity.” The 1p offer is running in the managed estate from Monday 23 March for four weeks.

Burger King puts Chicken Fries on permanent menu: Burger King has announced that Chicken Fries, which have been on and off its menu since they were introduced in 2005, are now back permanently, and will be launched in 30 countries around the world. The dish, chicken strips shaped like giant french fries, remained on the menu in the United States until 2012, when Burger King made mass menu changes. Early last year, two years after their disappearance, in early 2014, an article on the Buzzfeed website in the US about products consumers can no longer get that many wish they could included a reference to Chicken Fries which quickly grew. A petition to bring back Chicken Fries was started on, with more mentions on Facebook and Twitter. Burger King brought the dish back in August 2014 for a limited time, though they were removed again in October. However, demand for their reinstatement has been so great, according to Eric Hirschhorn, chief marketing officer of Burger King North America, that they have been made a permanent item. He told USA Today: "The conviction of Chicken Fries fans never ceases to amaze us. Chicken Fries have hijacked their brains, not to mention their appetites." To promote their permanent addition to the menu, Burger King has created a Chicken Fries emoji keyboard available in the iTunes App Store and Google Play store. Stickers of the same emojis are available for people to customise their Chicken Fries packaging.
Application in for first micropub in Newcastle upon Tyne: A licensing application has been made to open the first micropub in Newcastle upon Tyne, in a railway arch on Forth Street, behind Newcastle Station. The man behind the proposed micropub, Mark Hall, said the venue, to be called the Split Chimp, would sell cask ales gravity fed directly from the cask, and wine. He told the Newcastle Chronicle newspaper that the Split Chimp would operate a strict "Challenge 23" protocol with trained staff and a written methodology. “Children will not be encouraged to accompany customers on the premises,” said Hall, a trained paramedic. He said he will be the proposed business’s only staff member, though his wife will help out around the 775sq ft, two-floor arch as needed. In his application, Hall said: “Light background music is intended, but no television, slot machines, juke box, the aim is to provide good beer in a conversational atmosphere to responsible drinkers. On and off sales are intended, with customers able to purchase take-away containers of ale for consumption off the premises, at home or in a hotel room.” Opening hours would be from 11am to 11pm Monday to Saturday, and 11am to 4pm on a Sunday.
Malhotra Group 'horrified' after white supremacist recommendations: The Newcastle upon Tyne-based pub, restaurant and hotel operator Malhotra Group has declared itself “horrified” after discovering one of its venues was being recommended as a place to stay by white supremacist groups. The business, run by the Malhotra family, operates the Albatross backpackers hostel on Grainger Street in Newcastle, which was flagged up to people attending the neo-Nazi White Man March in the city last Saturday. The Albatross, which offers beds from £16.50 per person per night, was being suggested on a number of websites supporting the march, which was organised by the white supremacist group National Action. A spokesman for the Malhotra Group, which said it had no knowledge of the recommendation and that it was completely opposed to the rally or any event that promotes fascism, told the Newcastle Chronicle: “We abhor anything of this nature, and certainly anyone coming to Newcastle who attends an event like this would not be welcome at our hotel. We want to make it clear that we had no idea that the hostel was being suggested as a base for those supporting this march and we are completely against it. We do not want to have any association with anyone who promotes fascism or racism.” Police arrested nine people after a hundred far-right protesters marched on the streets of Newcastle on Saturday. Neo-Nazis had travelled from as far as Eastern Europe.
Doggie bag scheme to roll out across Scotland: Restaurants across Scotland are being encouraged to sign up to a scheme that allows customers to take home leftovers in re-sealable containers, after a successful trial saw a dramatic reduction in food waste from customers' plates. The Good to Go programme, introduced by Zero Waste Scotland, saw food waste reduced by an average of 42% per restaurant after it was piloted in 16 restaurants in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Irvine and East Kilbride. Ylva Haglund, from Zero Waste Scotland, said: "Our research showed that three quarters of people wanted to see doggie bags offered in restaurants but half were too embarrassed to ask for them, and the fact that so many people during the pilot with leftover food used the Good to Go boxes shows that if you make it a normal thing to do, people will take food home. That's why we're now promoting this scheme across Scotland.”

Pub licensees open next-door fish and chip shop: The new licensees of the White Horse in Norton, near Daventry, Northamptonshire have opened a fish and chip shop next door to their pub. Becky and Dan Chan ran the Danetre Chippy on Sheaf Street, Norton for 26 years and after selling the business last month to take on the pub, a former Charles Wells outlet which has changed hands several times in recent years, decided to bring their own culinary expertise to the White Horse, converting the building next door into the Chippy at Norton, a fully licensed restaurant and takeaway serving fish and chips, kebabs and burgers. Becky Chan told the Daventry Express: “The reason we called it Chippy at Norton is because I am from Chipping Norton – it’s a play on the name. This has never been one of our career plans but we saw a good opportunity and we took a freehold. This pub always caught my eye and most of the locals were worried it was going to close. The location of the pub is ideal for lots of people living in Daventry who have to go to work in Northampton. We want to make the pub really inviting, we have free parking and a gardener. My husband has also started a vegetable plot. We think we will make our money with the food.”

Scheme launched to honour individual MPs who support beer duty cuts: A scheme has been launched to honour individual MPs who support beer duty cuts. One such MP is Hartlepool’s Iain Wright. He has been presented with a certificate and souvenir pump clip by Yousef Doubooni, marketing manager at Camerons Brewery on behalf of the British Beer & Pub Association and SIBA, the Society of Independent Brewers. The special award is a joint initiative from the BBPA and SIBA, which wanted to recognise the role of MPs who supported Britain’s national drink during the 2010-2015 Parliament. It recognises acts of advocacy in Parliament, in votes, supportive motions, and debates.
Domino's human billboards 'under review' in Telford: Domino's Pizza has said its use of human billboards is "under review" in Telford, Shropshire, just weeks after it agreed to stop using them in Nottingham. The company has been paying staff to stand by main roads in Telford wearing sandwich boards shaped like huge pizza boxes. Claims that the walking adverts have been distracting motorists by dancing and shouting out “pizza” prompted a visit by council staff to the company’s regional manager. Earlier this month, Nottingham Council banned the walking billboards after they were branded “degrading, exploitative and a serious distraction to traffic”.

Edwina Lilley Charitable Trust lines up first project: The Edwina Lilley Charitable Trust has identified its first project – becoming food technology partner at the brand new Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool, leading the development of a ground-breaking approach to food creation, preparation and delivery. Edwina Lilley together with her husband Derek was responsible for establishing and building restaurant chains Est Est Est, Piccolino and Restaurant Bar & Grill, as well as Restaurant magazine, the World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards, and leading leisure and hospitality technology firm Fourth. Alder Hey, the world-renowned children’s hospital, which cares for over 275,000 children, young people and their families every year, is moving to a brand new building next to its current site in Autumn 2015. Alder Hey in the Park will sit within parkland and the unique design means that the majority of patients will be able to enjoy park views from their bedroom windows. Along with 270 beds, 75% single rooms and 16 operating theatres, the new state of the art children’s hospital will also feature seven state-of-the-art kitchens. The Edwina Lilley Charitable Trust will utilise its extensive experience of the restaurant industry and Fourth’s software to help ensure Alder Hey’s food offering is as modern and efficient as possible. Expertise in how to run a successful food operation, from 30 years’ experience in-trade, will be shared as well as the implementation of industry-leading, cloud-based technology solutions relating to dietary and allergen requirements, food waste, stock control, and recipe management.

The Restaurant Group lines up Coast to Coast opening in Aberdeen: The Restaurant Group has applied for a provisional premises licence to open a Coast to Coast at Aberdeen shopping mall Union Square. If granted its licence, Coast to Coast will be open in Union Square from 11am to 11pm every day and will be situated on the first floor of Union Square. Aberdeen licensing board has set a deadline of Friday, 3 April for objections.

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