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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Thu 26th Mar 2015 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

SA Brain reports 10% Ebitda boost: The leading independent brewer and hospitality operator in Wales, Cardiff-based SA Brain, has announced annual results that show operating profit acceleration and sales growth. For the year ending 30 September 2014, SA Brain unveiled that operating profit grew by 113% to £5.4m following the implementation of a management restructure. Turnover grew to £123m, up £800,000 on the prior year and Ebitda accelerated to £13m, a year-on-year increase of +10%. Growth was driven by successful investments in its outlets, focus on food offer development, accommodation and consumer marketing. The significant improvement in profit performance was also driven by enhanced operational efficiencies and an increased focus on cost control. The Brains-owned Coffee#1 business also continued to grow strongly with overall sales up by +30%. The growth was generated by the opening of nine new stores, taking the total to 45 at the end of September 2014. Chief executive Scott Waddington said: “I have been delighted by the performance of the Brains business in what was a difficult year for many consumers economically. Our focus on providing outstanding customer experiences, great service and developing well-targeted food and drinks offers continues to bear fruit. Following a period of restructure, it is testament to the professionalism and hard work of the Brains team that such significant profit growth has already been realised. While economic indicators for the UK economy are improving, consumer confidence has yet to return fully in Wales and future trading conditions are anticipated to remain challenging. We remain committed to the development of our portfolio of retail properties and beer brands and are particularly delighted that we are on track to open our 50th Coffee#1 site in April. Additionally, we are highly optimistic that our operational, sales and marketing plans for our cask ales, craft beers and pubs can further bolster business performance in the months ahead.”
 

Industry News:

Half of all consumers unhappy with vegetarian choice on menus: Over half of consumers feel there are not enough vegetarian dishes on menus when eating out, with a third wanting to see between five and ten options available, new research has found. The latest research also revealed that of the one in four (26%) of consumers choosing not to eat meat, one in seven (14%) do so because they are vegetarian, while a similar number (12%) consider themselves to be "flexitarian", suggesting that it is not only consumers turning to a strict diet that are driving the market, but meat-reducers seeking out a way to eat a more balanced diet. The independent research, commissioned by Vegetarian Express, the specialist distributor of vegetarian and vegan ingredients, looked into the demand for vegetarian menu options, highlighting the fact that consumers would like a greater choice of vegetarian dishes when dining out. When asked which cuisine consumers felt best caters for vegetarians, 41% said Indian, followed by British (28%) and Asian (22%). Mexican and American were both cited as the types of cuisine least likely to cater for vegetarian diets.

One third of former Tesco Fresh & Easy store network in US to close:
Around one third of Tesco’s former Fresh & Easy store network in the United States is to close. A total of 55 stores will shut, which would leave the chain with about 110 locations. Fresh & Easy is owned by Yucaipa, which bought the supermarket chain out of bankruptcy in 2013 from Tesco. It operates stores in Nevada, California and Arizona. The stores marked for closing do not meet Fresh & Easy's new model of "modern convenience”. Fresh & Easy spokesman Brendan Wonnacott said: "This move allows the company to redeploy capital into development and growth, including a 3,000 to 5,000 sq ft store to provide a higher level of convenience and greater density."
 
Hambledon Vineyard launches 'English fizz' mini-bond:
The sparkling wine producer Hambledon Vineyard has launched the “English fizz mini-bond” on the crowdfunding website Crowdbnk. The vineyard, in Hampshire, is looking to raise £2.75m by offering a 8% cash return plus rewards on a five-year term, with a minimum investment of £1,600. The rewards include a half-case of Hambledon Classic Cuvee every year. The funds will be used to allow the company to expand to reach a sales target of 200,000 bottles within five years. Investors have the option to convert the bond to shares when it matures.

Zenith joins Jacques Borel VAT campaign: Zenith Hygiene, the UK’s largest independent manufacturer and supplier of cleaning and hygiene chemicals, has joined VAT Club Jacques Borel. The company supplies more than 12,200 units across the UK, with almost 50% of the total in the leisure and hospitality industry across pubs, restaurants, hotels, nightclubs and leisure outlets. Its founder and chief executive, Ringo Francis, said: “We fully support the aims of VAT Club Jacques Borel and are pleased to put our weight behind the campaign to reduce the level of VAT in the hospitality sector. The success of the campaign is vital to the future of this important industry and to enable leisure and hospitality operators to create hundreds of thousands of new jobs.” VAT Club JB's chairman, Jacques Borel, said: “We are delighted to welcome Zenith Hygiene to the campaign to reduce VAT. The company is at the heart of the leisure and hospitality sector, serving thousands of customers daily. Its chief executive, Ringo Francis, acknowledges that a reduction in VAT will be a major boost for all of those working in this important sector of industry. Our campaign is continuing to attract high-profile members and the inclusion of Zenith Hygiene strengthens our position.”

Labour and Conservatives make tax pledges: The Labour Party has countered David Cameron’s pledge yesterday not to increase VAT if the Conservatives win the general election with its own promise not to hike National Insurance. Shadow chancellor Ed Balls said the promise would be included in the Labour manifesto for the 7 May poll – which would also include pledges not to raise the main rate of VAT or the basic or higher rates of income tax. His announcement came less than two hours after the Prime Minister surprised the House of Commons by ruling out an increase in VAT for the full five years of a Tory government.

PizzaExpress turns 50 tomorrow: PizzaExpress celebrates a milestone as it reaches its 50th birthday tomorrow. In 1965, Peter Boizot had a dream of bringing the spirit of Italian pizza to the UK. His travels around Italy – and his first taste of pizza in 1948 – inspired him to make sure the flavours he experienced abroad could be enjoyed closer to home. He returned to England with a pizza oven and a trained chef to open the first PizzaExpress restaurant. The first restaurant opened on 27 March 1965, on London’s Wardour Street. In 1967, a second PizzaExpress restaurant was opened on Coptic Street. All 10,000 team members at PizzaExpress restaurants across the country will be marking the 50th anniversary. The brand is also celebrating with the launch this week of ‘Create Your New Favourite’, a competition which gives fans the chance to create a new pizza, which will feature on the menu in restaurants later this year. In addition, customer favourites from the last half century – the American Hot, Margherita and La Reine – have inspired a new Romana65 range of pizzas boasting premium ingredients as part of the restaurant’s new spring and summer menu.
 

Company News:

Reuben Harley – student behaviour in the late-night market has changed: Reuben Harley, chief executive of the premium bar and nightclub operator Eclectic Bar Group, has told Propel that the company has witnessed a change in student behaviour, with a new “seriousness” curtailing mid-week visits. Harley said focus groups had found students suffering a cost-of-living crisis as rents and university fees affect their income. In addition, the company found students adopting a much more serious and focused approach to their studies. "There is a cost-of-living pressure on them – and they are putting pressure on themselves to get good degrees because of the increased cost of fees,” Harley said. The company's chief financial officer, John Smith, said that there had been a 20% drop in student volumes during the week, offset by increased usage on Fridays. The company has shifted its emphasis to attracting students on a night where they have no study commitments the next morning. Eclectic is looking at extending its opening hours earlier to attract food trade at number of sites after the success of its Lola Lo site in Manchester in trading earlier hours. It plans to open in Sheffield in September, with the site branded either as an Embargo Republica or Lolo Lo, and Liverpool in 2016. Its Lowlander site in Covent Garden, Central London has traded “really well” since its acquisition, with food accounting for up to 45% sales. Harley said: ““We are looking at lots of sites [for a second outlet] but there’s quite a lot of competition for sites for that style of business.”
 
Geof Collyer – underperforming Wetherspoon is seeking to boost breakfast sales from less than 5% of turnover to 15%: Deutsche Bank's leisure analyst Geof Collyer has reported that JD Wetherspoon is seeking to increase breakfast sales from less than 5% of turnover to around 15% with its current move to slash breakfast prices. Collyer also claimed that Wetherspoon has underperformed its peers by between ten and 20% in its most recent quarter. He said: “The new sales drive is to reduce prices for breakfast items (eg coffee –15%), targeting revenues to move from below 5% to closer to 15% of total sales for this day part segment. In the first six weeks of quarter three 2015, like-for-likes were up1.6%, versus a comparable of a rise of 6.2%, with total sales up 5.6%. Both of these are behind Deutsche Bank estimates for H2, although the like-for-likes were in line with latest industry data. Second half of the 2015 financial year like-for-likes guidance is for 0% to a rise of 2%, and for ebita margin of 7.4% to 7.8%. With the launch of better-value breakfast deals – with implicit short-term margin dilution potential – the margin guidance may prove a tough ask, and could place downside risk on the forecasts. The group has increased its bank facilities to £820m, extending the maturity profile to 2020. Net debt is targeted to rise by between £50m to £70m, as there should be more freeholds in the mix of new sites. JDW has underperformed its other retail peers by between 10 and 20% over the past quarter, and we see few catalysts to reverse this trend. We have nudged our forecasts down (dilutive sales mix shift and higher capex). We have rolled our base year from FY’15E to FY’16E for our price target, which increases from 700p to 745p.”
 
PizzaExpress Indian franchisee plans 50 sites within five years: The Indian franchisee for PizzaExpress, Gourmet Investments, is planning 50 sites in the country. Chief executive Sanjay Nandrajog told the Economic Times: “Our first flagship restaurant opened in Colaba, Mumbai, in December 2012. Currently, we have six restaurants in Mumbai/Thane and have recently opened our first outlet in Delhi at Vasant Kunj. The next outlet is coming up in Gurgaon. As regards our future growth plans, we plan to grow to 50 restaurants in the next five years. Our research in Mumbai has shown us that Indian consumers have never tasted pizzas like ours, which are authentic Italian, with a thin and crispy base and topped with carefully selected, fresh ingredients. With rapid urbanisation, increasing double-income families and rising income levels, dining out culture is fast catching up with urban India.” Gourmet Investments holds the exclusive master franchise rights for the PizzaExpress brand for India and South Asia.
 
Newcastle turns down application by Hooters: Newcastle upon Tyne council's planning committee has turned down an application by the American "breastaurant' chain Hooters for a bar/restaurant at City Quadrant, Waterloo Street because of fears over crime and disorder, public nuisance and public safety. For Northumbria Police, Sergeant Michael Heaney, part of Newcastle’s Central Neighbourhood Policing team, said: “This place would take us backwards instead of forwards in policing the area." Hugh Stolliday, who lives in the area and objected on the grounds of crime and disorder, told the Newcastle Chronicle: “I am delighted with the decision. I have two daughters of five years old. They go to the school just around the corner. Hooters is not something I want them to see on a daily basis.” However, Hooters argued that it was a restaurant and not a bar, holding up its "children eat free on Sundays" policy as proof of its appeal to families. Keith Freeman, of Freeman Solicitors, who represented the chain at the planning committee meeting, said: “It’s a common misconception around the nature of Hooters, but this is a restaurant and not a bar. We are a family-orientated business.” Hooters now has six months to appeal against the committee's decision. The chain, known for its scantily clad waitresses, who serve beer and food in orange hotpants and revealing vests, currently has just one other outlet in the UK, in Nottingham, after the closure of others in Birmingham and Cardiff.
 
Red’s True Barbecue to launch first recipe book: Red's True Barbecue is to launch it first recipe book, on 2 July. It be called Let There Be Meat, and published in hardback and e-book formats by Orion Books. Written by co-founders Scott Munro and James Douglas, the book offers an insight into American barbecue culture, gleaned from seven years 'travel and hard study in the Deep South. Let There Be Meat will have more than 100 authentic recipes, as well as advice on how to build a smoker, matching cocktails, drinks, sweet stuff and even how to home brew IPA. Munro said: “In the last few years, American barbecue has sunk its big teeth into the UK and it’s hungry for more. Through the launch of our restaurants, Red’s True Barbecue, low and slow barbecue has become our absolute obsession. Let There Be Meat is a chance for James and me to take our years of relentless research and huge passion, and bring it all together into a meat-lover’s bible. The gospel of true barbecue has arrived and we’re sure that just like us, once readers learn the skills and try the authentic recipes, they’ll join the thousands and thousands of other believers in praising smoked meats." The group has confirmed it will open a further two restaurants this year.

St Austell creates 50 jobs with £1m investment in inn:
An inn in South Hams, Devon, the 11-bedroom Hope Cove, has re-opened after a £1m refurbishment by St Austell Brewery, creating 50 full and part time jobs. New manager Chris Roberts said: “The Hope and Anchor has been completely transformed and updated while remaining true to its heritage and the community we serve. We are all especially excited by the new eco-friendly open-theatre kitchen, where customers can see their food orders being prepared using many fresh, locally sourced ingredients. As a local boy, I am delighted the Hope and Anchor has given me and my family the opportunity to move home, and that the pub can offer 50 jobs to people in the area. The Hope and Anchor is still a village pub at its heart, just better and more comfortable, with a fantastic new menu.”
 
Would-be Big Easy investor questions whether proposed Canary Wharf site can make £10.5m a year: A potential investor via the crowdfunding platform Crowdcube has questioned whether Big Easy’s proposed 11,000 sq ft Canary Wharf restaurant can really turn over its projected £10.5m a year. The US crab-shack and barbecue brand is looking to raise £3m through an 8% interest mini-bond. The Crowdcube member said: “With regards the new location and the dominance of City workers travelling there Mon-Friday, how has Big Easy forecast the cash flow and profit at the new site? I would expect the flow of customers to be high in the weekday but significantly lower at weekends than perhaps Kings Road and Covent Garden. The Wharf and the City are both quiet at weekends. If the sales in the Wharf are £10.5m in 2017 that is £201,000 per week, £28,000 per day (assuming seven days of trading). From my experience, each customer spends approx. £25 to £30 per head. These numbers suggest you need to turn the 300-400 tables over three times a day, seven days a week (£28,000 at £30 spend-per-head equals 933 customers). Is this in line with other restaurants? Could this turnover be achieved in weekdays and weekends?” The query has not yet met with a response.

Costa Spiliadis to open in London in June: The chef and restaurateur Costas Spiliadis will open a branch of his acclaimed restaurant Estiatorio Milos in London this June. This will be the sixth site since Spiliadis opened in Montreal in 1979 with the intention to elevate the perception of Greek cuisine abroad, away from stereotyped associations, via seafood restaurants with "Greek heritage". Other branches are in New York City, Athens, Las Vegas and Miami. Spiliadis claims to have cultivated relationships with small-scale fisheries in Greece and beyond, to provide his restaurants with the highest quality catch. Estiatorio Milos will be at No 1 Regent Street, St James’s, Central London, in the Grade II-listed building that was previously British Columbia House. The 180-cover restaurant has been designed jointly by Spiliadis and architect Alain Carle, and will cover two floors.

Charles Wells – beer sales to international markets now almost 20% of total: The Bedford-based brewer Charles Wells has reported that sales of its beers in international market now account for nearly 20% of the brewery’s output. The company reported turnover of £15,145,000 in the year to 27 September 2014 from on non-United Kingdom market, up 21% from £12,472,000 the year before.

Black Country Ales acquires pub in Burton: Black Country Ales, the 11-year-old brewery based in Lower Gornall, Dudley, has acquired its 24th pub, the Dog in Lichfield Street, Burton upon Trent. Angus McMeeking, a director of Black Country Ales, told the Burton Mail the brewery had been looking to buy a property in Burton for the past two years but the right venue had not come up. He said: "The Dog is a lovely old building and it's in Britain's brewing capital. It's a place we haven't got a pub, and the people of Burton know their beers better than anyone else in the trade." McMeeking said the brewery will be selling its own ales at the pub, but it will also put on guest ales as it does at its other pubs. When the Dog reopens, which is expected to be in May, it will serve bar snacks but will not be selling bar food as the brewery wants to focus on traditional beers rather than meals. Black Country Ales has applied to East Staffordshire Council for a licence to sell alcohol between 10am and midnight, Monday to Thursday and Sundays, and until 1am on a Fridays and Saturdays.

Smith & Wollensky hires executive chef ahead of London debut in June: Smith & Wollensky has hired Stephen Collins as its executive chef at its forthcoming London site. A June opening has been confirmed for the first Smith & Wollensky to launch outside the United States, which will be based in the Adelphi Building on John Adam Street, off the Strand. The 300-cover, 15,000 sq ft restaurant has been designed by Martin Brudnizki and consists of two bars, two main dining areas and three private dining rooms across two floors. In keeping with its sister restaurants in the US, the site will also feature butchery quarters and a dry-ageing room. Operations director Nathan Evans said: “We’re confident that when we open this summer we’ll deliver London’s best steakhouse, with classic American hospitality in truly spectacular surroundings.”

Fratelli la Bufala seeks fourth UK outlet: Fratelli la Bufala, the Italian restaurant that specialises in buffalo meat, is seeking a third outlet in central London, which will be its fourth in the UK. The operation, which describes itself as "not a chain but a network of restaurants that are loyal to the brand identity while each maintains its uniqueness," has more than 130 restaurants worldwide, including 100 in Italy and others in Belgium, Germany, Spain, Turkey, Dubai and the United States, first opened in the UK in 2012 with an outlet in Shaftesbury Avenue, Central London. This was quickly followed by a second London venue, on Villiers Street, just off the Strand, while a franchise opened in Westbourne, Bournemouth in 2013. The organisation has now applied to Westminster Council for a premises licence at 12 Knightsbridge Green, near Hyde Park.  The menu at Fratelli la Bufala outlets includes buffalo steaks and burgers, buffalo mozzarella pizzas, salads and pasta dishes
 
Enterprise begins £1.2m rebuild of historic pub destroyed by fire: Enterprise Inns’ historic Tayleur Arms pub, in Shropshire, will today (Thursday 26 March) begin its £1.2m rise from the ashes – almost a year to the day it was burned to the ground. Publicans Richard and Eve Harvey, who ran the original Tayleur Arms, will be joined by Enterprise regional manager Paul Boswell and divisional director Richard Woodward to witness a digger turning the first sod at the site in Cotwall Road, Longdon-upon-Tern, near Telford. The pub burned down in a fire that started on the evening of Wednesday 19 March 2014. Parts of the original were believed to be more than 300-years-old. Though the shape of the building will be different, the pub will be the same size as the original, but allowing for a large car park and outdoor area. The exterior will be a traditional construction of brick and timber panels, with the interior style being more contemporary.
 
Acclaimed chef to open Manchester city centre site: The acclaimed chef Mary-Ellen McTague is to convert the Roadhouse music venue in Manchester into a new restaurant. The basement club, on Newton Street in the Northern Quarter, will close as a live music venue on 1 June. An extensive refurbishment will take place over the summer before reopening as a new restaurant, as yet unnamed, with McTague at the helm in the autumn. It will bring her full circle in her career, as she started out in The Roadhouse kitchens as a 19-year-old. She will now work alongside the Roadhouse's owner, Kate Mountain, her friend and business partner from the now-closed Aumbry restaurant in Prestwich, to develop the new restaurant on the site. McTague announced the permanent closure of the award-winning fine dining restaurant Aumbry in January after five years in Prestwich, and together with Mountain, had been looking for a new city centre site to open a restaurant. Aumbry had twice been named Restaurant of the Year at the Manchester Food and Drink Festival Awards, and McTague twice named Chef of the Year.

Star Pubs & Bars hires Humberts to begin pro-active approach to business rates given delays: Star Pubs & Bars has hired Humberts to help its lessees complete the Valuation Office Agency’s Forms of Return which are currently being mailed out to pubs and which will form the basis for setting their rates from 2017. Star Pubs & Bars said with rates having increased over recent years to become one of the biggest overheads for pubs at 6% to 7% of turnover and in many cases higher than rents, it believed it was vital to employ rating experts at the outset to ensure that rates valuations were set accurately from the start, so reducing the need for appeals. The company is writing to all its lessees to draw attention to the forms, which have to be completed and returned to the Valuation Office promptly in order to avoid a fine. It is urging lessees to send their forms to Humberts for checking prior to their submission. Research by Star Pubs & Bars has revealed that the average time taken to settle appeals for its pubs for the 2010 valuations was two years and two months, with some lessees waiting four years for a settlement. Two our of five of its appeals were successful, generating average annual savings of £2,500, while 12% of lessees had their bills cut by more than £10,000 a year. Chris Jowsey, Star Pubs & Bars' trading director, said: “Given the length of time the appeals took and the amount of money lessees had tied up with local councils during that period, we are taking a very proactive approach and employing Humberts early on in the process rather than waiting until the new ratings list comes out in 2017. We hope this will reduce the number of appeals we need to make, providing better cash flow and more certainty for our lessees.” The company will also be employing Humberts to check its lessees’ rates reassessments at the earliest opportunity in 2017. Jowsey said: “We were one of the first to review our pubs’ rating assessments in 2010, and found it paid off. Only 1% of our original appeals were unresolved in 2014, against 25% for some other pub operators. Business rates are a heavy burden for licensees and need reform if they are to support the Great British pub. We welcome the government’s announcement of a review and will play our part in ensuring that our lessees’ views are represented. Until then our approach is to give our lessees the best support we can so they don’t pay a penny more than they should. Using rating experts, providing detailed, accurate and relevant information, bi-annually reviewing rates and taking early action about concerns are key and we will continue to take this vigilant approach on our lessees’ behalf.” Star Pubs and Bars, owned by Heineken, has an estate of around 1,200 pubs.

Tortilla strengthens management team ahead of ten openings: Tortilla, the fast-casual Mexican restaurant brand, has added three new positions to strengthen the support team in preparation for opening ten new sites around the UK this year. Ben Eastwood, who joined Tortilla ahead of the launch in Trinity Kitchen, Leeds, has been promoted to area manager of the Midlands and the north. Matthew Chapman, who has previously worked with Patisserie Valerie and Maison Blanc, joins Tortilla taking another area manager role of London and the south east. Katy Stenning joins the team as head of human resources, having led teams at Nando’s and overseen training and development at Bill’s over the last 12 months. The additions to the management team aligns with the cohesive growth strategy in place after the £11.135m bank financing attained in Q4 last year. On top of the string of new sites, Tortilla is adding to its business model with the trial launch of deliveries and the introduction of new menu offerings in the evening to include chicken quesadillas and nachos queso. 

The Stable to open eighth site this Easter: The Stable, the artisan pizza and cider concept in which the London brewer Fuller Smith & Turner has a 51% stake, will open its eighth site this Easter. The Stable will take over a building which formerly housed the Vauxhall Quay bar and restaurant in Little Vauxhall Street, Plymouth. The brand has signed a 15-year lease, and described its latest venue as its "most scenic location yet" in an advert in the Plymouth Herald. The Stable's founders, Richard and Nikki Cooper, have previously said: “We’ve identified Plymouth as a city that has great potential for The Stable. There’s a lot of young, discerning students and professionals in the area and we think that we’ve got a great experience to bring to them. The Stable is a cathedral to cider and pizza and with our waterside location, it will be the perfect place to enjoy both in a relaxed and convivial atmosphere. We can’t wait to welcome the good people of Plymouth to come and see for themselves exactly what we have on offer.”

Starbucks IT director – mobile is having a profound effect on consumer behaviour: The director of IT for Starbucks in the EMEA region, Robert Teagle, has revealed that customers' increased familiarity with smartphone applications and mobile payment solutions is having a profound impact on consumer-facing companies such as Starbucks. He said: "The change in shopping behaviours to a more omni-channel approach is affecting all bricks and mortar retailers. This is probably the biggest impact to our industry and the way we do business. We need to provide a compelling reason for customers to come into our stores and we see multichannel as a means of doing so – across store experience, products and ordering channels. The continued use of mobile will broaden, particularly with regards to payment, and this will enable customers to reduce the payment time, whether this is in-store or out-o-store."
 
Jill McDonald – ‘you have to take action on the things your customers care about’: Jill McDonald, the current chief executive of McDonald’s UK, who is due to join Halfords, has argued that business leaders need to take action on issues close to customers’ hearts. Speaking on Oystercatchers’ Advertising Week Europe panel, she argued: “We take a very long-term view on the profitability [of those decisions] because we believe it is mission-critical to build trust with customers. You need to take action about the things customers care about.” Talking about the challenges of being a marketer in the boardroom, she said: “To be a successful marketer in the boardroom you have to speak the same language as the rest of the board. You have to understand what the objectives are, whether that’s creating shareholder value or being mindful of the particular metrics in an organisation. You have to make sure that you’re aligning your language and intent around what the board wants doing. Marketing isn’t a science, but the more grounded you can be in terms of the numbers and the returns from recommendations the better.

Londonist maps first sites for major chains, find Soho a hotbed for chain founding: The website Londonist.com has mapped where major foodservice brands launched their first sites. The website says: “Villiers Street, near Embankment has ushered in two of London’s biggest chains. Eat (1996) and Wasabi (2003) began life mere doors from each other on this road. Unsurprisingly, Soho is a major hotbed of chain generation. The likes of Yo! Sushi (1997), Caffe Nero (1997), Masala Zone (2001) and Leon (2004) join older stalwarts such as Patisserie Valerie (1926) and Pizza Express (1965). Not all chains began in central London. All Bar One (1994) picked Sutton for its first outlet. Zizzi (1999) opted for Chiswick. KFC debuted in North Finchley. The Tesco-backed coffee house Harris & Hoole (2012) launched as far afield as Amersham (not technically in London, but on the Tube). Most famously, McDonald’s (1974) saw the potential in Woolwich when choosing the site of its first UK branch. It was also the chain’s 3,000th worldwide.”

Be At One sets date for first northern outlet: Be At One, the cocktail bar group founded in Battersea. South West London in 1998 by three bartenders, Steve Locke, Rhys Oldfield and Leigh Miller, is to open its first North of England outlet at the end of May, at the Electric Press in Millennium Square in Leeds. The move is the first in a planned series of Northern openings, with Sarah Swaysland, marketing manager at Be At One, telling the Yorkshire Evening Post: “We’re incredibly excited about moving into Leeds as we are aiming to create a cluster of bars in neighbouring cities. It made sense to begin with Leeds as it’s already got a fantastic cocktail culture that we feel we can really contribute to and it’s a really vibrant city.” Be At One is taking over the former Teppan 260 site in Millennium Square, previously Casa Mia. The chain, which sold an $8m stake to Piper Private Equity in 2011, currently has 24 outlets, 18 of them in London, with a 25th due to open in St Mary Street, Cardiff in mid-May. At present its northernmost outlet is in Milton Keynes.
 
Leading training provider signs partnership with sector magazine: CPL Online, the leading provider of e-learning and online business solutions to the hospitality sector, and Inapub, the magazine and provider of digital tools for online promotion of pubs, have formed a partnership to offer licensees an exclusive deal for website and training support. As part of the deal, licensees who sign up for Inapub’s full website support package and CPL Online’s site licence for unlimited online training will receive an 10% annual saving. For £750, licensees can tap into the technical and creative know-how of the Inapub’s website design team to create a mobile-friendly website which is easy to update using SocialConnect, as well as have unlimited access to CPL Online’s 30 industry-specific e-learning courses.
 
Stonegate to reopen Varsity in Cardiff as the Three Rivers: Stonegate Pub Company is to reopen its Varsity outlet on Greyfriars Road in Cardiff under the name The Three Rivers on Friday 1 April after a £265,000 refurbishment. It will be running regular Sunday movie nights from 12 April, with candy floss and popcorn machines "to give it a real cinema feel,” according to the pub's general manager, Gareth Alberts. The pub will be open from 7am Monday to Saturday, and 10am on Sundays, with breakfast options including poached eggs and bacon, a full English breakfast or Greek style-yogurt with a selection of fruit. BT Sport and Sky Sports will be available on eight large screens and via two projectors. The pub will also have a student night on Mondays and DJ-hosted nights every Friday and Saturday. Its new name comes from the Taff, the Ely and the Rhymney, the three rivers that run through Cardiff.

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