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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Tue 31st Mar 2015 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Gerald Eve – West End restaurant operators set to see business rates soar: Restaurant operators in high quality West End and central London locations will be the big losers in the next business rates revaluation with increases of between 50 and 100%, research undertaken by Gerald Eve has found. The revaluation, based on property rental values on April 1st 2015, comes into effect in April 2017 and is designed to redistribute the £24bn rates burden across all assessed properties. Richard Stoney, of Gerald Eve, told Propel: “The restaurant market in a number of central London postcodes has mirrored what’s happened in the wider retail sector with sharp rises in rental values. It’s a double whammy – for those operators paying increased rents, essentially business rates will follow, eventually, in a similar fashion. The good news is that we don’t expect to see business rates for pubs increasing in quite as high a fashion because their business rates are linked to turnover, but there could still be increases of up 50% for some.” The results of the 2017 revaluation being undertaken by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) will only be revealed in autumn 2016. Gerald Eve’s research forecasts rates bills falls of 30% for retailers in Portsmouth and Wigan, 35% in West Bromwich, Stockport and Crewe, and 40% or more in Walsall, Stockton and Dewsbury. Jerry Schurder, head of business rates at Gerald Eve, said: “The results of our shadow revaluation not only highlight the huge disparities between locations that have performed relatively well since the recession and those that have struggled to reverse the decline, but also underline what a mistake it was to postpone the revaluation by two years. Firms in the worst affected areas should have benefitted from lower bills today rather than in two years’ time. More than anything, the extreme volatility in rates bills that will hit businesses in 2017 underlines the need for revaluations to be undertaken far more frequently so that bills respond quickly to market changes. Rather than the government’s review of business rates, launched in March, having to be fiscally neutral, business rates should become a ‘floating’ system with bills adjusting in line with property values and prevailing economic circumstances. Rates are the only tax where the take remains fixed in real terms and businesses are tired of being treated as a cash cow with bills rising with inflation even if business prosperity flounders. The long gaps between revaluations – seven years this time – generate enormous volatility and make it virtually impossible for firms to budget accurately for their liabilities. 1 April is the revaluation date, but businesses won’t find out their liabilities for at least 18 months.” The figures quoted for rises / falls in business rates liabilities are the gross changes and do not reflect the impact of potential schemes such as transitional arrangements and small business rates relief, which are yet to be confirmed as applying to rates bills from April 2017 onwards.
 

Industry News:

Santander invests in MyCheck: Santander has invested $5m in the mobile payment and loyalty provider MyCheck in return for an equity stake in the business. It is the first investment for its Santander Innoventures Fund, which is aimed at funding innovative start-ups. The investment kicks off MyCheck’s Series B funding round. The venture will allow Santander’s retail and commercial customers around the world to benefit from MyCheck’s technology, which allows users to check into venues, pay securely, and receive relevant offers and information from their smart device. MyCheck, founded in Israel in 2011, has seen 320% growth in transaction volumes in the past six months after shifting to a technology platform approach, focusing entirely on private label apps for restaurant groups and chains and providing capabilities to other app providers that want to reach the hospitality market.

Casual Dining Group chairman – there are five areas to grasp for success: Martin Robinson, chairman of Casual Dining Group and Center Parcs, has argued there are five areas that businesses must grasp to succeed. Addressing the Arena Annual Lecture, Robinson said the five areas are: bifurcation, the division between the mass and premium market – using BMW, the fourth bestselling car in the UK, as an example, he said that “one can be both mass and premium” and this is what hospitality should be aiming for, warning that the middle ground should be avoided; proliferation of occasions – taking advantage of consumers’ portfolios, in the case of Center Parcs the move to more frequent shorter holidays in a year; innovation – when it comes to the essential need to innovate, 'businesses either tweak, twist or break new ground' but Robinson said he has yet to discover one that can do all three; capex – keep on top of the maintenance of your business, because consumers are savvy and they will notice if you cut back on this; children – three out of four families who come to Center Parcs come with children, "who are, after all, the business people of tomorrow." Robinson said: “As an industry we don’t do a fantastic job of attracting young people to think that hospitality is a good place to be.” He urged the sector to push really hard for apprenticeships and internships to attract new blood and fill the gap of the generation lost to "new universities" when apprenticeships went out of vogue 15 years ago.
 
London's Chinatown under threat as rents soar: The Chinatown area in the West End of London could disappear in five years as oriental restaurants are hit by soaring rents, the London Evening Standard has reported. Jon Man, whose parents emigrated from Hong Kong in the 1950s, has seen the rent on his restaurant in Wardour Street, Soho rise from £66,000 a year to £244,000 since the turn of the century. He said he would be forced to quit if rents rise any further: “I won’t be able to stay. There will be no point in me being here. So many of my friends have already gone. I can’t see how Chinatown will be here in five years’ time – not as I know it.” The owners of Loon Tao on Gerrard Street, who have been there for 20 years, are also among those looking to sell up, having seen their rent soar from £160,000 five years ago to £312,000.

Penalty for showing Sky illegally now unlimited: Licensees convicted for the criminal offence of dishonestly showing Sky Sports matches to their customers without a commercial agreement are now subject to an unlimited fine, rather than, as was previously the case, one capped at £5,000 per offence. The new regulation takes effect against offences committed from 12 March 2015. Alison Dolan, deputy managing director at Sky Business, said: “This change to the law demonstrates how seriously licensees should take the issue of illegally showing Sky Sports in their premises. In addition to the risk of being subject to an unlimited fine for the offences they commit, or each match that they show, the court can order legal costs to be paid, and there is a requirement to inform the local licensing authority of the criminal offence, which can impact their license.” Sky is committed to visiting every licensed premise reported by other publicans and/or organisations for illegally showing Sky and is visiting more than 700 pubs each week in towns and cities across the UK this season.
 

Company News:

PizzaExpress to launch three-week discount: PizzaExpress, which celebrated its 50th birthday last Friday, is to launch a three-week discount offer. The brand will offer a one-third saving on food order between 13 April and 3 May, valid all day Monday to Thursday and after 5pm on Sunday. The offer excludes its express lunch menu and calzone pizza. It applies to all UK sites except Olympia, Brent Cross, Westfield Stratford, jazz clubs and pop-up restaurants.
 
Giggling Squid reports record opening week in Salisbury: Giggling Squid, the Thai restaurant brand led by Andy and Pranee Laurillard, has reported a record opening week at its new site in Salisbury, a former Strada outlet. The site served 1,274 customers in the week, including more than 500 lunches. Among the records broken was the highest ever number of lunch customers in a single day for a Giggling Squid on its first Saturday. The company is set to produce annual results that show run rate sales will up by around 60% up and profits doubling.
 
Sadler’s Brewery opens Sadler’s Brewhouse and Bar: Sadler’s Brewery of Lye, Shropshire has opened Sadler’s Brewhouse and Bar in its home town. Managing director Chris Sadler has spent the past eight months and more than £500,000 turning an industrial unit on the Conyers Trading Estate in Station Drive into the new Sadler’s venue. Sadler’s already runs the Windsor Castle at Lye Cross. Sadler said the new venture has created eight new jobs. He said: “It feels good, it holds the people well and it’s somewhere very new and a bit different for the area – the nearest thing to it is going to be Birmingham or London.”

Celebrity chef Bryn Williams plans summer opening for new restaurant: Celebrity chef Bryn Williams is now planning a summer opening for his new restaurant at Porth Eirias watersports centre in Colwyn Bay, North Wales. The venue, in the £3.7m watersports complex, has encountered a series of delays, with two proposed opening dates of Christmas 2013 and April 2014 missed. Sasha Davies, strategic director for economy and place for Conwy Council, said: “We’re pleased with the works progress and it's exciting to see the cafe/bistro taking shape.”

French better burger brand Big Fernand opens: The French better burger brand Big Fernand has opened on Percy Street, close to Tottenham Court Road in Central London. The Big Fernand has its constitution written along a wall opposite the counter, explaining its "laws" on how products are sourced, cooked and served. Customers choose from six combinations or "build their own’" from scratch, with what the chain claims are 3,840 "distinctly French" possibilities. Big Fernand has eight sites in France, six of them in Paris, with a further 20 planned for 2015.
 
SSP wins £60m Beijing Capital International contract: The Asia Pacific division of the British-based SSP Group, the transport hub foodservice specialist, has been awarded a six year £60m contract with Beijing Capital International Airport (in China. The deal will see the company  open eight outlets in the airport’s Terminal 3. Among the new outlets will be a Maxim’s cafe, two outlets for the Korean coffee shop Maan, two for Gourmet Noodle House, and Caffe Ritazza, SSP’s own brand cafe. Chris Rayner, chief executive of SSP Asia Pacific, said: “Beijing airport attracts visitors from all around the globe and our carefully selected brands will offer them the highest quality fresh food, drinks and service. We are delighted to be adding to our growing presence in what is a strategically important region for SSP.”
 
Stonegate hires Lucre for Slug & Lettuce PR: Stonegate Pub Company has hired Lucre to handle the PR for its Slug and Lettuce chain, PR Week has reported. Leisure PR, which has worked with Stonegate for a number of years, will continue to manage communications for the company's other brands. Lucre will work on bar openings and relaunches as well as social media and crisis communications. Tamarind Wilson-Flint, Lucre's co-founder, told the magazine: "Stonegate is investing and the 'one to watch' in the sector. Supporting individual bars locally while helping to build brands nationally is our forte. This win is an amazing addition to our 'Going Places' division and with two openings already confirmed and a host of others in the pipeline, we have plenty to go at." Suzanne Baker, commercial director at Stonegate, said: "Lucre has the experience and passion we were looking for, and its impressive database of food and drinks journalists, as well as contacts across a range of high end female glossies, made it our perfect partner."
 
Hubbox expands with new pop-up site:
The award-winning South West of England better burger brand Hubbox is expanding with a new pop-up restaurant at Pentewan Sands, near St Austell in Cornwall. Hubbox St Austell will open as part of a collaboration between Pentewan Sands Holiday Park and the chain, which already operates three restaurants in Truro, St Ives and Exeter, and is soon to expand to Plymouth. The new Hubbox, described by the company as  a "laid-back-style beach shack", will be based in the former Driftwood Beach bar, with views of the half-mile long beach. Jonny Findley, Hubbox's operations manager, said: “Hubbox St Austell will be serving our trusted line-up of award-winning burgers and hot dogs as well as added breakfast options like American malted waffles and traditional Cornish breakfasts with our own little twists.” Hubbox was recently named one of the top 100 eateries in the country by a leading national magazine. Richard Boon, Hubbox 's managing director, said: “Opening Hubbox St Austell at Pentewan Sands is a natural progression towards our ambition to take our burgers further into Devon, along with our next new restaurant opening in Plymouth later this spring. Our eventual goal is for everyone living in the South West to never be more than an hour away from a Hubbox.”
 
Whitbread hires hotel veteran for international division: Whitbread has reportedly recruited Ratnesh Verma, who has worked for Hyatt Hotels for 25 years, to the position of managing director of Whitbread Hotels & Restaurants International, to replace Paul Macpherson. Simon French, a leisure analysis with the stockbroker Cenkos Securities, said: “We have long been disappointed by the slow progress Premier Inn has made internationally and we think this appointment will provide fresh impetus into a flagging strategy. We think the stock market attributes little if any value to the group’s international hotel operations, which have been loss-making for around ten years, so see significant upside if Mr Verma can implement faster growth in India and Asia Pacific.”
 
North East of England restaurateur opens Chadwick & Co Coffee House and Kitchen: The leading Teesside restaurateur Daryl Chadwick has opened a new concept, Chadwick & Co Coffee House and Kitchen, at the new Barker and Stonehouse store at the Teesside Park retail superstore and leisure development in Thornaby-on-Tees. Chadwick has been behind a number of well-known Teesside restaurants, including DP Chadwick’s, which opened in Yarm in 1992, and Cafe Lilli, in Norton, where he was co-owner for the past ten years. The chef and business partner in the new venture is Nathan Baker, previously a chef at Cafe Lilli, Wynyard Hall and Michelin-starred restaurants in London and Leeds. Bread will be freshly baked on the premises, and the venue will sell speciality teas and coffees, wines, champagne, aperitifs and locally brewed and international beers. It will also have a gin trolley. Chadwick said: “Our approach will be like that of my previous restaurants. I will be serving local, handmade, artisan produce as much as possible. And because we’re a family-run business, this reflects on the style of the cafe, which will be a warm, welcoming place for customers to spend some time after an enjoyable browse in this amazing store.”

Fever Group applies to convert Fleet site to MooMoo Clubroom brand: Fever Group, which operates 20 nightclubs in the UK, has applied to convert its nightclub in Fleet, Hampshire, Jaxx, into a triple-scene MooMoo Clubroom brand. A planning statement said: “This would incorporate a stylish, table service-style clubroom called Boutique, a high-tech state-of-the-art Halo clubroom and a Fever 1970s, 1980s and 1990s party room, complete with a Saturday Night Fever-style illuminated dance floor. This will broaden the appeal of the venue to a much wider age range and take the venue to a significantly more aspirational audience. We anticipate the creation of an additional 15 to 20 full and part-time jobs and add significantly to the night-time economy. To justify this level of investment we would need to extend the trading nights to five or six nights a week or trade the venue later at the weekend.” Fever has applied to Hart Council for permission to trade until 3am the following morning on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. It also wants Jaxx to stay open until 3am on up to four other nights in any 12-month period, should a business opportunity arise. The company said it was proposing the changes in response to public demand and to cater for the changing needs of its customers.

Kent operator opens fifth pub and second Shepherd Neame site: Kent operator Charles Smythe has opened his fifth pub, and his second Shepherd Neame site. He has re-opened The Smack Inn in Middle Wall, Whitstable after a £100,000 renovation. The pub was originally a pair of fisherman's cottages built in the 1800s and Smythe has created a more rustic feel by exposing the brickwork in the bar area and stripping the wall panelling back to natural wood. He said: "I have four pubs in Canterbury already but this is the first one by the seaside. It was a very run-down, old-fashioned boozer, but now it's going to be a nice, proper pub. It's going to have good honest wine, premium spirits and we have spent a lot of time and effort on the garden and seating areas. The pub was very dark and dingy before, but now we have really opened it up. The interior of the building is beautiful, so that's why we have taken it right back to its heritage." Nigel Bunting, Shepherd Neame's director of retail and tenanted operations, said: "Charles has achieved great success at the Old City Bar in Canterbury, and we are delighted that he has taken on a second Shepherd Neame pub.

TGI Friday’s bartender in Sheffield named fans’ favourite: A bartender from TGI Friday’s Sheffield, Russell Ward, has been named “fans’ favourite” at the 24th annual World Bartender Championship in Dallas. Matt Durbin, former World Bartender Champion and vice-president of brand strategy and menu innovation at TGI Friday's, said: "The World Bartender Championship is where the best TGI Friday's bartenders from around the world showcase their skills; it's talent like this that makes Friday's the bedrock of bars." Friday's fans cast votes on the World Bartender Championship website for their favourite bartender, and Ward’s “fun mixology routines and hometown fan base helped make him stand out among the rest,” the company said.

Porridge brand 26 Grains secures Seven Dials site: Cafe brand 26 Grains is to take a 249 sq ft site in Neal’s Yard, Seven Dials, located opposite Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels and Neal’s Yard Remedies. It will also be situated close to the recently opened concept cafe, Free Range People and is due to open in May. 26 Grains was started by Alex Hely-Hutchinson to create the West End’s first grains-based cafe. Porridge is the primary focus but also sits alongside muesli, granola, risotto and salads on the menu, which will be served from 8am to 5pm. Following a successful run of pop-up venues, Seven Dials will be the first permanent location for the brand which will have space for approximately 12 covers. In addition, 26 Grains is set to host evening events in conjunction with other local businesses, such as food workshops and supper clubs. 26 Grains joins Free Range People, which opened a 330 sq ft site this month and showcases artisan baking produce as well as other Farmers Market style goods, all sourced from small UK businesses. The cafe employs trained baristas and sells a range of sandwiches, beverages and confectionery, plus cakes and pastries. Charles Owen, Seven Dials portfolio manager at landlord Shaftesbury, said: “26 Grains and Free Range People are two distinctive additions to our dining mix. Signing brands such as these is an important part of the heritage of Seven Dials, which, as well as being home to leading international brands and their flagship stores, also has some of the most interesting dining concepts in London.”

More than 500 Enterprise licensees sign up for Live & Loud: More than 500 Enterprise Inns licensees have signed up for a new live music service that enables them to find and book local artists through an online portal. Enterprise’s new partnership with Live&Loud aims to make it easier for pubs to book bands, solo artists and DJs in their area. The new musical matchmaking service was shown off at the recent enterpriselive roadshows, and included stage appearances by the all-girl band Festival Foxes, the singer/songwriter Mark Sullivan, and the DJ Kitt Proudfoot. For a weekly fee of £25, pubs can access as many live acts as they need to book. When they register with Live&Loud at www.liveandloud.com, a profile is created for the pub, detailing the kind of venue and availability of gigs, with a range of budgets determined by the licensee, and the type of music that appeals to customers. Registered artists can then apply through the online service, expressing interest in performing, based on commercial terms set by the pub. Mick Newton, co-founder and chief executive of Live&Loud, said: “The beauty of our platform is that it takes the hassle out of booking talent. We will be helping Enterprise pubs maximise the opportunity by walking them through the process, but once an artist has expressed an interest in performing, all the publican has to do is accept the booking online.”

Freeholds let to Wetherspoon and McDonald’s sold at Allsop auction: An Allsop auction last week that included sites occupied by JD Wetherspoon and McDonald's raised nearly £66m, reflecting a success rate of 85%. A total of 109 lots were sold including 16 in excess of £1m, of which five were over £3m. The freehold of a drive-through McDonald’s in Bangor sold for £1,24m, reflecting a yield of 5.6%. The freehold of a pub in Chesham, the Misty Moon, sold for £850,000, reflecting an initial yield of 6.18%. Allsop partner Duncan Moir said: "It was a very strong result for our clients and an exciting auction room with enthusiastic bidding from a variety of sectors. The demand for both single let investments and multi-let, management intensive assets was very clear. Domestic investors were competing with overseas buyers, together with a good showing of new investors. While there is still a strong preference for the South East, over £30m of regional investments were sold, many at significant margins over reserve. The result lifts our first quarter sales to over £100m."
 
Pizza Hut UK opts for APT’s Test & Learn and Menu Analyzer software: Pizza Hut UK has chosen APT’s Test & Learn and Menu Analyzer software suite, which will help its data-driven decision-making in capital investments, pricing, promotion, marketing and operations. Pizza Hut Restaurants has already been using APT’s software to optimise its menu and store remodel programmes. Henry Birts, deputy managing director at Pizza Hut Restaurants, said: “As the UK’s largest pizza chain, we constantly need to innovate and drive value for our guests. By using APT’s software, we are able to test ideas quickly and accurately, enabling us to make important business decisions with confidence.”

Saltaire business couple expand with opening of Beerhouse in Bradford: Saltaire business couple Jas Bhatt and Kathy O’Brien have expanded into Bradford with the launch of The Beerhouse, a "high-end" pub and food venue in North Parade. The historic Victorian building has undergone a major refurbishment to create the new venue, which will offer a wide selection of craft beers along with Yorkshire cask ales, plus home-cooked pub food made from locally sourced produce. Bhatt and O’Brien own the Saltaire pub and restaurant The Boathouse Inn. The Beerhouse is one of the many new venues which have been part-funded by a Bradford City Centre Growth Zone grant from the council and has 30 staff working in the large bar and kitchen, making it one of the biggest new job providers.
 
McDonald's hints views may be changing on property spin-off: McDonald's may be changing its view on spinning off its vast property holdings into a REIT, according to observers in the United States. Investors have been pushing the company to put its property into a real estate investment trust for some years, with Larry Robbins, chief executive of Glenview Capital Management, telling the company earlier this month that doing so could push its shares up to $169 each, well above the $97 a share they are currently trading at. Robbins estimates that half of McDonald’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization is coming from its property assets. REITs, Robbins said, are trading at 20x cash flow. Spin off half of that cash flow into a tax-free REIT, he said, and McDonald’s shareholder value would balloon. The company is currently trading at an enterprise value multiple of 11x. In the past the company has rejected the idea, but now its chief administrative officer, Pete Bensen, speaking at the UBS Global Consumer Conference, suggested the company’s views on real estate are evolving. Bensen said: “We’re constantly challenging our thinking on the REIT. It isn’t something we haven’t seen before. We update our analysis and review it with the board. We’re always looking for ways to increase value.” Despite Bensen's words, however, according to the magazine Nation's Restaurant News, most analysts do not think McDonald’s will spin off its property, even with the renewed pressure. Brian Vaccaro, an analyst at Raymond James in Atlanta, told the magazine that that McDonald’s long-term favourable view of the benefits of real estate ownership is not likely to change.

Arkell's buys derelict village pub to safeguard future of one it already owns: Arkell's Brewery, the Swindon-based brewer and pub operator, has bought a derelict pub in Bishopstone, Wiltshire in order, it says, to help ensure the long-term future of the pub it already owns in the village. The True Heart Inn closed in 2009, but owners John and Rosa Jones, who also run the Royal Oak in Wootton Rivers, Wiltshire, announced plans for two detached houses at the rear of the property, which would pay for an extended, refurbished True Heart. Now, however, Arkell's has acquired the derelict pub, which backs on to its own Royal Oak in Bishopstone, and is due to present plans to the village on 9 April which are expected to include a conversion and sale which will finance its existing business. A brewery spokeswoman told the Swindon Advertiser: “The intention is to convert the True Heart Inn to residential use, sell it and then invest that money into the Royal Oak. The Royal Oak is already an important part of the local community and the brewery wants to invest in it to make it better. The whole intention is to create a sustainable pub for the village and the only way is by investing in the pub. The brewery has taken a pragmatic approach. We can support the Royal Oak and make it better.” A member of staff at the Royal Oak told the Advertiser: “There is no market in the village for two pubs. We see ourselves as a locals’ pub, but mostly people are eating here and reserving tables. If someone rings up for a table you’re not going to turn them away because there might be some drinkers turning up later to spend £20 that evening.”
 
Spirit Leased in U-turn over pub name change: Spirit Leased has admitted it made a mistake in changing the name of a 200-year-old pub from the Three Horseshoes to the Industrialist, and is changing it back after a campaign by locals that saw more than 1,200 people sign a petition. The change of name at the pub, in Far Headingley, Leeds, brought immediate protests, with locals calling the move "nonsense" and "ridiculous". Spirit Leased's managing director, Chris Welham, said: “We received a lot of feedback and understand the sentiment about the new name. We’ve taken this on board and realise our decision to rename the pub was the wrong one. We will be changing the name back to the Three Horseshoes.” New signs will be installed at the recently refurbished pub as soon as possible depicting the original name, the company said. Jason Cullen, creator of the Leeds Back in the Day website, which backed the campaign to reinstate the old name, said: “I was not surprised by the responses we had. Followers of Leeds Back In The Day are passionate about our city and will always voice an opinion on matters like this. The campaign was just and needed. Everyone knows the pub as The Three Horseshoes and will always call it this. The amount of people who spoke out, however, has to be admired."
 
Las Iguanas wins Swansea licence: The Latin American restaurant chain Las Iguanas has been granted a premises licence for its planned new 5,000 sq ft restaurant in Swansea's Castle Quarter, which is due to open in April. The licence will allow the restaurant to open from Sunday to Thursday between 8am and 12.30am, and on Friday and Saturday from 8am to 1.30am. Mos Shamel, chief executive of Las Iguanas, said: "Swansea is seeing a surge in regeneration. Investment in Castle Square is bringing the area back to life creating commercial opportunities, and we are pleased to be a part of this." Las Iguanas also has plans for another Welsh outlet, at the Friars Walk scheme in Newport. The law firm TLT advised Las Iguanas on its licence application.

Geordie Shore stars open Sunderland nightspot: The former Geordie Shore stars Ricci Guarnaccio and Jay Gardner have taken over the lease at Ruba in Green Terrace, Sunderland and re-opened it as Attico and Verve. The co-owners are promising to give Sunderland’s nightlife a new buzz with their champagne and cocktail bars, which they say have been inspired by Miami and New York warehouse clubs as well as other clubs they have seen on their travels with the programme. Gardner said: “It’s ultra modern. It’s something Sunderland has never seen before, it will bring people in to Sunderland that might have gone to Newcastle before and something for local people as well. We’ve got exposed brickwork, which gives it that warehouse look, and we’ve got lots of big finishing touches, like the huge mirrors and moving chandeliers, champagne bucket tables.”

Hard Day’s Night hotel on the market for £11m: The 110-bedroom Hard Day’s Night hotel in Liverpool has been put on the market for £11m. It opened in 2008 and is owned by the property firm Concord Estates. Shaun Skidmore, director at CBRE, who is marketing the hotel, said: “In bringing the Hard Day's Night Hotel to market, we are offering a unique opportunity to acquire not only a culturally significant property but a hugely successful, luxury hotel with an international client base in the best location within one of the UK’s most popular cities. This landmark building plays a key role in sustaining the city’s burgeoning reputation as a major tourist destination within the UK. We are incredibly excited to start entering into discussions with interested parties.”

Papa John’s recruits former Shell franchisees: The pizza chain Papa John’s has recruited husband-and-wife Abhishek and Kaniva Sachdeva as its newest franchisees with a new store in St Helens, Lancashire. Abhishek, a former franchisee for Shell, and his wife now plan to open up four more outlets across the North West of England over the next 18 months. Having been “regular customers” of the pizza franchise over the years, the Sachdevas took up the franchise opportunity as they believe in the brand, and claim to have had a high footfall right from the first day of opening. Papa John’s now has more than 280 franchise stores in the UK.

Devon brewery takes over first pub: The 16-year-old Clearwater brewery in Bideford, Devon has taken over its first pub, the Champ in nearby Appledore. Paul Stewart-Reed, Clearwater's head brewer and general manager, said: "We have wanted to have a brewery tap pub for a while now. We spotted The Champ had closed in January and spoke to [owner John Tompkins], who liked the idea of a local brewery running the pub and here we are now. We want to celebrate all things Devon, by promoting local ales and cider, as well as providing locally sourced food." Stewart-Reed described the pub as "unique" and said he hoped the acquisition could lead to the brewery running more North Devon pubs in the future. The Champ will have a range of beers made at the brewery and Devonshire ciders, plus a guest ale, which will change regularly, and craft ales from Belgium not sold in any other pub in the area. The pub already has two local food suppliers, Rob Cannicott of Rob's Soul Food in Appledore, who supplies tacos, nachos and other bites in the evenings, and on Sundays, mussel farmer Phoebe Chope of Torridge Mussels and Oysters in Appledore will be serving up fresh mussels and oysters.

Barter Inns to reopen Prince Albert, Peckham after three-month refurb: The London-based multiple operator Barter Inns is to reopen the Prince Albert in Bellenden Road, Peckham, South London on Thursday, 2 April, after a three-month renovation that has increased the size of the pub. Barter, which has been run by Ken Ryan since 1993, called in DV8 Designs of Warrington to carry out the renovation, which included incorporating a rear extension, and creating a "stripped-back contemporary look" by installing re-claimed flooring and tiles around the bar area, fitting new carpets in dining areas, and also introducing an "edgy rustic colour scheme" together with matching decorative elements. DV8’s managing director, Lee Birchall, said the venture had allowed the company to be "even more creative due to its mass scale. Combining that size with its fashionable location, it means that our approach can offer something that’s a little bit different for a venue that was once very traditional. For us it’s all about taking the Prince Albert’s rustic charm and tying in a wealth of warm colours that will consist of rich red, green and neutral tones. Likewise, we will introduce timber panelling, exposed brick and a selection of fabric and leather upholstery to offer a multi-texture dimension.”

Carlsberg Export asks consumers to 'Trust Your Tastebuds': Carlsberg UK has unveiled a new campaign that promotes what it says are "the superior taste credentials" of Carlsberg Export versus its main competitor in the premium lager category, Stella Artois. In blind taste tests conducted in 2013, more than two thirds – 69% – of participants who expressed a preference preferred the taste of bottled Carlsberg Export to Stella Artois. The "Trust Your Tastebuds" advertising campaign, part of a £14m media spend behind the Carlsberg brand portfolio this year, is the first standalone campaign for Export in ten years. It will run in two bursts of activity, the first just before the Easter holiday period, followed by a second run in June. The campaign will appear mainly on outdoor billboards, with social media activity on platforms such as Twitter and Instagram. Carlsberg UK has also given Export a packaging refresh. David Scott, director of brand and insight at Carlsberg UK, said: “While Export has always been a key pillar of our Carlsberg family of brands, this research offers a fantastic opportunity to celebrate Export, throwing a spotlight on its fantastic taste."

Restaurants see mixer sales boom:
Restaurants saw a boom in sales of mixers last year, up 23% in value, according to the latest Britvic Soft Drinks Review, published yesterday. Pubs, too, saw sales of mixers climb, by 11%, showing the increase in value of the "family pound", Britvic said. However, the market remained comparatively small in the context of a total on-trade soft drinks market in the UK worth more than £4.2bn, at £41m in restaurants and £225m in pubs and clubs, with another £66m in hotels. The UK on-trade soft drinks market saw volumes increasing by 0.5% year-on-year, with cola taking 40% of the total, at £1.7bn. The market remained almost equally split between packaged and draught, with packaged soft drinks sales in the licensed segment up 4.3% year-on-year to £2.2bn and draught sales up 2.9% to 2.1bn. Sales of draught cola rose by 2.5% in value to £1.2bn, with Pepsi the top performer, taking a £607m slice. Non-sugar colas saw strong growth, with Pepsi Max up 38.1% in pubs and clubs to £15m, and Diet Coke up 12.8% to £49.7m. The area of strongest growth for soft drinks consumption was, unsurprisingly, in food-led outlets, where eating and drinking-out expenditure per capita showed the largest increase. Lemonade sales slipped 0.1% to £532m, but within that the upmarket brand Fever Tree saw a 44% rise in value sales in pubs and clubs, to £600,000, and a 175% rise in sales in restaurants, to £200,000. High-sugar energy drinks fell 10.2% in 2014 as the nation turned against sugar consumption. However, sales of water were up by 26.8%, to make it the fifth most purchased soft drink in pubs, restaurants, clubs and hotels, at £296m. The report said 2014 saw the increase in the "weekend millionaire" phenomena, with more and more consumers choosing to live frugally during the week, but spend on indulgent experiences at the weekend. Although the overall frequency of eating and drinking out fell, spend per meal occasion rose with key audiences, particularly among 18 to 24-year-olds and 65 to 69-year-olds. The report said managed pubs were particularly successful at holding steady in the face of changing consumer spending, largely thanks to the encouragement of promoting all-day-dining and value-for-money offers. Data for the report was supplied by CGA.

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