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Thu 2nd Apr 2015 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Star Pubs & Bars launches ground-breaking fixtures and fittings policy: New lessees taking on tied pubs with Star Pubs & Bars and existing lessees taking on new pubs with the company will see their ingoing costs slashed by 60% to 70% after the launch of a radical new fixtures and fittings policy which will see the company own big ticket items such as ovens, fridges and grills, which will save lessees’ capital, improve cash flow and create more sustainable businesses, the company said. The initiative, which applies to business start-up agreements and three year rolling leases, is a new departure for the leased pub sector and will be especially beneficial to those lessees wanting to run food-focused pubs, where equipment start up costs can be very high, Star Pubs said. The company said the new policy would also make it easier for multiple operators to grow their pub portfolios more quickly, as less capital is tied up per site. For Star lessees this should mean savings of around 60% will be made for pubs earmarked for capital expenditure, rising to around 70% for those not receiving investment, as ownership for this 60%/70% transfers to Star Pubs & Bars. The fixtures and fittings Star lessees buy on entry to the pub will typically be 30% to 40% of the total value made up of trade staples such as furniture, curtains, tables and chairs. Lessees will still be responsible for the repair, servicing and maintenance of their own equipment as well as the Star Pubs-owned equipment. An equipment inspection will be undertaken before any new lessee takes on a pub to ensure equipment is in a good state at the outset. Star Pubs & Bars will arrange for all necessary statutory inspections of gas and electrical equipment with the costs re-charged to the lessee in a similar way to the current maintenance and statutory inspection programme. Chris Jowsey, Star Pubs & Bars' trading director, said: “Our research reveals that the high cost of catering equipment is deterring people from investing to increase their food sales. Our new F&F policy is designed to help bridge the funding gap for applicants by boosting their cash flow and reducing the capital they need to raise to lease a tied pub. The programme also furthers our ambition to help enable all our pubs to serve food by 2020 and that 50% of sales should come from food. We spend time listening to applicants’ views and looking at ways we can best address their concerns. Keeping new lessees’ ingoing costs down, together with providing intensive one-on-one support in the first few months focused around individual business plans and maintaining high standards, are key to launching new ventures successfully and ensuring pubs thrive in the long term.”
 

Industry News:

McDonald’s bows to pressure and increases wage and benefits in the US: McDonald’s has bowed to increasing pressure and promised to raise wages and benefits for employees at company-owned restaurants in the US for both full-time and part-time workers, the company said Wednesday. From July, McDonald’s company-owned restaurants in the US will pay staff at least $1 per hour more than the locally mandated minimum wage. The wages of all workers, up to the restaurant manager position, will increase based on tenure and job performance. By the end of 2016, the company suggested that the average hourly pay for McDonald’s workers will be more than $10 an hour. In addition, staff at company-owned restaurants with at least a year of service will start to accrue paid time off, even if they are part-time workers. For instance, an employee who works an average of 20 hours a week will accrue 20 hours of paid time off per year. Workers who don’t take their time off will be paid for the value of that time, the company said. The company also said it will expand its Archways to Opportunities education plan to provide all 750,000 McDonald’s workers in the US, including those at franchise restaurants, with free high school completion and college tuition assistance. “We’ve been working on a comprehensive benefits package for our employees – the people who bring our brand to life for customers every day in our US restaurants,” McDonald’s chief executive Steve Easterbrook said in a statement. “We’ve listened to our employees and learned that – in addition to increased wages – paid personal leave and financial assistance for completing their education would make a real difference in their careers and lives.”
 
Greene King, Marston's, Whitbread chief executives joins business leaders warning against change of government: More than 100 business leaders, including Greene King's chief executive, Rooney Anand, Marston's Ralph Findlay and the chief executive of Whitbread, Andy Harrison, have warned that a change of government in the general election would “threaten jobs and deter investment” in a letter published yesterday. The letter, signed by 103 business executives, praises Conservative economic policy which it says has “been good for business and has pursued policies which have supported investment and job creation”. In what is perceived as a clear attack on Labour, the letter, published in The Daily Telegraph, said: “We believe a change in course will threaten jobs and deter investment. This would send a negative message about Britain and put the recovery at risk."
 
Crowdcube hires Google executive to head product team: The crowdfunding platform Crowdcube has hired Google product manager Thor Mitchell, previously based in Silicon Valley in California, to head its product team in Exeter. While working at Google for nine years, Mitchell managed services including the Google Maps API and GooglePlus. Mitchell will build a team of product managers to grow the Crowdcube platform, which has raised some £70m of equity finance since it launched in 2011. He said: “It’s important to me that I work on projects I believe have the potential to make a positive impact. By offering entrepreneurs a new way to raise funds and engage with their audiences, Crowdcube is fuelling the growth of the UK startup and growth business ecosystem, which elevates the UK’s reputation as a source of innovation, supports the economy and creates jobs.”
 
Legal update: The sector legal firm Freeths produce a useful monthly digest of legal news affecting the sector. To read it, CLICK HERE.
 

Company News:

Oakman Inns free of bank debt after Downing investment: Oakman Inns and Restaurants is now free of bank debt after yesterday’s announcement that the investment fund Downing had invested more than £6m in Downoak, its joint venture with Oakman. The company plans to open four sites before the ends of June, which will mean it will have grown from seven to 13 sites in a year. The openings are Warwick, due in April, Ampthill, Bedfordshire, due in early May, Cosgrove, Milton Keynes, due in late May, and Ongar, Essex, due in June. Oakman's founder, Peter Borg-Neal, told Propel: “We have four openings ahead of us and most of the money will be used for that – but we now have zero bank debt.” Downoak’s first acquisition was the Akeman Inn, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, which opened in November 2013. “It’s well ahead of budget,” Borg-Neal said.
 
BrewDog launches Punk IPA homebrew kits with Brooklyn Brew Shop: The Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has launched Punk IPA homebrew kits, in conjunction with Brooklyn Brew Shop. BrewDog said: “We thought it would be great to join forces with the homebrewing advocates at Brooklyn Beer Shop and create a cool, re-usable kit to recreate our flagship Punk IPA in your very own home. Contained within, all the key brewing equipment you’ll need alongside the recipe and ingredients (our bespoke Punk IPA malt bill, signature hops and yeast). All you need to add is a large pot, funnel and strainer, and then a bottle capper and some empty Punk IPA bottles! The kit provides a chance to get your teeth into our IPA; recreate it faithfully, or add a twist – it’s up to you. Everything included is totally reusable, and the ingredients pack will soon be added to Brooklyn Brew Shop’s refill section. The Punk IPA Beer Making Kit costs £40 and will be available to buy in all BrewDog bars, BottleDog, and via our online shop. The kit will also be available to order direct from Brooklyn Brew Shop’s online shop, with international shipping.”

Al Tayer Group to open nine new UAE Caffe Nero sites in second half of 2015: Al Tayer Group is planning to open nine new Caffe Nero sites in the United Arab Emirates in the second half of 2015 to add to its existing estate of 13. New stores are set to open in prominent locations on the Palm, Jumeriah and Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai and other locations in Dubai, and Cleveland Clinic in Abu Dhabi. Two new-look "artisan" Caffe Nero stores have been opened at evolved stores in the world’s largest shopping mall, the Dubai Mall, and the Dubai Marina Mall after the  success of evolved-look sites in the UK. David Singleton, the former Mitchells & Butlers marketing executive who is vice-president of hospitality for the Al Tayer Group, said: “We’ve taken our time to develop and test the new look to establish Caffe Nero as the stand-out artisan coffee house, and not just another chain store. We’re operating in a fast-growing competitive market and we have to make a difference to support our growth programme. The new-look stores have been very well received and we’re now set for growth this summer. Our growth plans will continue at a similar pace in 2016.”

TLC Inns to open fourth and largest Grand Central after Easter: TLC Inns, the award-winning pub and restaurant operator led by Steve and Jo Haslam, will open its fourth and largest Grand Central Bar and Grill, at Ipswich Waterfront just after Easter. TLC Inns bought the former Quayside Restaurant and the neighbouring, empty, commercial unit last year and has spent 20 weeks creating the new site. The company also operates four pubs. The first Grand Central opened in Basildon three years ago, followed by a site in Ely, Cambridgeshire about a year ago and Colchester in November last year. Steve Haslam said: “Ipswich will be our biggest and the biggest investment to date. We are sure it is going to be the best: we are bringing something different to Ipswich and we think people will enjoy the American theme.” The new site will create 60 jobs, including as many as ten chefs.
 
Downing to invest £5m in new Antic-managed vehicle Sheridan Pubs, makes first acquisition: The investment fund Downing is to invest £5m in a new vehicle called Sheridan pubs, which will be managed by its long-term partner Antic London. The vehicle has made its first freehold acquisition, a site in Sutton High Street, South London called The Smokehouse which will re-positioned as a café bar. The venue has had a series of names in the past few years, including Bar 67, Bounce, Bar Room Bar and Pepper Lounge. It is expected that Sheridan Pubs will contain three or four freehold sites eventually. Mark Crowther, chairman of Antic London, said: “Having identified this latest acquisition, Downing once again acted with the speed and flexibility required to get the deal done. We are always pleased with the support we get from the investment team.” Over the past five years Downing has funded 32 sites operated by Antic London. Steve Kenee of Downing said: “Our long-term relationship with the management team enabled us to act quickly and decisively in backing this latest acquisition. The site will be undergoing refurbishment and is anticipated to reopen for trade later this year. Sheridan Pubs is currently in negotiations on a number of potential sites.”
 
Soho House to open in Istanbul this month with two Turkish baths: The UK-based international operator Soho House is due to open in Istanbul this month with a new venue that will include two Turkish baths which will be open to the public. The new site has been built in a 19th-century mansion, Palazzo Corpi, which housed the United States Embassy for 100 years, until 2003, and was originally built as a home for a wealthy shipbuilder, Ignazio Corpi. The property’s original Italian frescoes and marble floors remain intact. The Embassy Club will pay homage to the building’s American diplomatic history, Soho House said, and it will be decked out like a New York City speakeasy with dark oak panels, leather club chairs and deep sofas. Nick Jones, Soho House’s founder, said: "It’s a late-night space with a DJ that will go into the wee hours,” said. There are 87 bedrooms in total, including some located in what was originally built as an annex to the embassy.

Lemongrass opens fifth outlet in Crawley, lines up sixth: Lemongrass, the Sussex-based Thai restaurant chain, opens its fifth outlet today in Crawley, with a sixth venue lined up in Compton, near Guildford. The chain, founded by Minhaz Nasir, a 42-year-old Bangladeshi-born businessman who came to Britain in 1999 and started working as a chef at a Thai restaurant in London, told the Crawley News: " We have just opened a branch in Horsham and people always travel from Crawley to eat there, and have said, ‘We need a good Thai restaurant in Crawley.’ I think there is a big market for Thai food in Crawley.” The 70-cover Crawley venue is opening on the site of the former Thai restaurant My Thai, in the High Street, which closed on March 20. It is just up the road from a branch of the rival Thai restaurant chain Giggling Squid. However, Nasir told the News that he was not worried about the competition. He said: “Crawley is a big town and a lot of people live here – there is definitely the opportunity for two restaurants to do well.” Nasir opened his first Lemongrass restaurant in 2006 in Worthing, Sussex, in what he said later "wasn’t the right location", and it closed in 2010. His other outlets are in Chichester, Horsham, Petersfield and Rustington.
 
McMullen plans £3.5m plus investment in Ware, re-opens Saracen’s Head:
The Hertford brewer and retailer McMullen & Sons is due to make a total investment of more than £3.5m in Ware, Hertfordshire part of which has involved re-opening the Saracen’s Head pub with a pizzeria, small batch botanical gins and craft beer offer. Manager Carl Farmer said: “Our new pizzas are sourced from Luciano, an Italian artisan pizza dough producer – the handcrafted dough is simply the best, we use great 00 flour wheat germ, semolina, extra virgin olive oil and sea salt.” Managing director Peter Furness-Smith said: “The investment in the Saracen’s Head follows on from the recent refurbishment of the nearby Victoria, which means McMullen will have invested over £3.5m into Ware once the new pub and family golf centre opens at Chadwell Springs next year.”
 
Douglas Jack upgrades Marston’s after Thwaites beer division acquisition: Numis Securities' leisure analyst Douglas Jack has upgraded his rating of Marston’s shares after its “accretive" acquisition of Marston’s beer division. His target price is now 180p and is recommendation is ‘buy’. He said: “Marston’s has announced the acquisition of the trading operations of Daniel Thwaites’ beer division for £25.1m (plus £4m of working capital). As a result, we are upgrading our 2016E forecast by 3%, and now expect double-digit earnings growth in both 2015E and 2016E, with net debt/ebitda falling by 0.2x in both years, despite a dividend that yields nearly 5%. Thwaites’ beer division includes two leading award-winning premium ales, Wainwright and Lancaster Bomber, a 150-strong regional sales, market and distribution team as well as the related buildings, depot and vehicles. Marston’s already brewed Thwaites’ beers under contract. Now, it will own Wainwright and Lancaster Bomber, and materially increase its distribution, particularly in North West England, within the on (National Accounts and Independent Free) and off trade. The trading operations of Thwaites’ beer division has a track record for steadily growing ebitda. In the year to December 2014, its ebitda was circa £7m before c.£2m of overheads. For 2016E, we forecast the acquisition generating almost £30m of sales, £5m of ebitda, £4m of ebit and a £3m contribution to PBT. In addition, the transaction should generate £1m of annual synergies within two to three years. After 16 weeks to 24 January, Marston’s was trading in line against tough comps, with easier comps expected in H2. Over the next three years, we forecast 34% earnings growth and 0.6x net debt/ebitda reduction despite strong freehold expansion, the £25m cash acquisition of Thwaites’ beer division and an attractive dividend, yielding almost 5%.”
 
Carluccio’s at Bicester Village hit by fire: A large fire broke out yesterday morning at a flagship Carluccio’s site in Bicester Village, Oxfordshire. The site is one of the five busiest venues in the estate, and was visited by chief executive Simon Kossoff in his recent appearance on the television programme Back to the Floor. Bicester Village was shut after the fire broke out at about 8.45am yesterday morning. One eyewitness told the BBC: "Carluccio's restaurant is on fire, flames are coming out of the roof. It's chaos, with people running in all directions." The fire service said seven crews had been tackling the blaze but that it was now under control. Several stores were still shut yesterday afternoon.
 
Wetherspoon acquires former Liberal Club in Garforth: The former Liberal Club on Main Street in Garforth, Leeds (population: 15,394) has been acquired by JD Wetherspoon for conversion into a pub. The chain beat out the local Dayspring Church, which wanted to use the building as a church, a counselling centre and a food bank. Eddie Gershon, Wetherspoon's spokesman, said: “We have enjoyed great success in the region and are keen to open in Garforth. We have acquired a wonderful building and are keen to develop it." Local councillor Mark Dobson said: “I’ve listened to comments from residents. Many are welcoming the arrival of a Wetherspoon, but many have concerns around licensing hours and the impact on local businesses. I look forward to working with Wetherspoon constructively.” The chain has six pubs already in Leeds.
 
Great British Menu chef opens first pub: The Great British Menu chef Colin McGurran, who owns Winteringham Fields near Scunthorpe, has opened his first pub. The Hope and Anchor in South Ferriby shut its doors in December 2013 after being devastated by a tidal surge. McGurran said: “It will be simple pub food done well. We are focusing on familiar food that most people know, and are trying to do it well. It will be a place for everyone to enjoy, and is not just designed for special occasions. We're fully booked for reservations for the next four weeks, but we've got a section in the pub for people walking in as well."

HMSHost opens pub and deli at Manchester airport: HMSHost International has opened a bar called the Lion and Antelope and a "British deli" called Pork and Pickle at Manchester Airport's Terminal 3. The openings expand the company's commercial space at the terminal by 50%. The new bar, named after the supporters in Manchester's city crest, serves Manchester Pale Ale and Lees Bitter from the JW Lees brewery in Manchester, and English dishes including fish and chips. The Pork & Pickle deli sells traditional pastries, delicacies and breads for customers to eat in or for take away. Beth Brewster, retail director at Manchester Airports Group, said: “We’re delighted to officially open these brand new food and beverage facilities as part of the ongoing development of Terminal 3. customers now have more choice; whether they are in a rush but want to take something substantial with them or prefer to enjoy a sit down meal, or just a drink.” William Lees-Jones of JW Lees said: “Manchester Pale Ale has been a favourite amongst our drinkers since its launch in 2013 and we’re thrilled to now be serving it at the Lion and Antelope at Terminal 3, which is a fantastic bar. Now more people than ever are able to sample a real flavour of Manchester,. Serving MPA at the Lion and Antelope gives visitors to the North West a chance to see what we’re all about and we’re pleased to represent Manchester with our best-selling cask ale.”
 
Pub, restaurant and smokehouse on sale at just under £1m: A pub that incorporates an award-winning restaurant, a smokehouse business and seven luxury en-suite letting bedrooms in Carnforth, Lancashire is on sale at an asking price of £950,000 for the freehold. According to the agent Fleurets, which is marketing the Red Well Country Inn and Lune Valley Smokehouse in Carnforth, it effectively provides three businesses in one. The Lune Valley Smokehouse, at the rear of the pub, sells smoked game, smoked fish, smoked cheese and other delicatessen items, and offers a potential buyer scope to develop the wholesale and retail sales, Fleurets said. Seven luxury en-suite letting bedrooms were opened in November 2014, while the pub's restaurant doubles as a function room, catering for up to 70 covers. The property also includes a two-bedroom private flat. Lesley Watmough from Fleurets Manchester office said the sellers, the Talbot family, have owned the business for five years and undertook a major refurbishment. “This included re-wiring, re-plumbing and new boilers, new septic tank and fat trap system, new bar and servery and brand new letting rooms,” she said.
 
Mitchells & Butlers shareholder moves US headquarters of burrito business: Mitchells & Butlers shareholder Joe Lewis has moved the headquarters of his burrito business in the United States, Freebirds World Burrito. The headquarters have moved from Emeryville, California, to Austin, Texas. Tavistock moved Freebirds’ headquarters because more than half of its more than 100 units are located in Texas, a spokeswoman said. “This move signifies an important milestone for Freebirds, as all support operations are now housed under one roof in the Great Hills Corporate Center,” the company said in a statement.

Loungers plans three-floor Cosy Club in Bournemouth: The Loungers chain is planning to open a Cosy Club venue across three floor above a shop in Bournemouth town centre. Its planning application proposes that the ground floor of the currently empty River Island shop in Christchurch Road will continue to be used as a shop, expected to be Holland and Barrett, while Loungers will convert the first, second and third floors into a restaurant. An outdoor terrace on the third floor is also planned. Planning policy says that units above shops can be converted to residential, office or community space, provided the proposal would not adversely affect the viability of the premises it relates to. However, marketing agents have been looking for a new occupier for the building for the past 18 months but its size has apparently deterred many businesses.
 
Restaurant involved in Chopstix name dispute re-opens under new ownership: A company that owned a Chinese restaurant in Dundee which was involved in a name dispute with the Chopstix Group has gone into liquidation, but the venue has remained open under new ownership. Chopstix in St Andrews Street became embroiled in an argument with its bigger namesake when the Chopstix Noodle Bar chain opened an outlet in the Overgate Centre. Steve Chow, owner of the St Andrews Street restaurant, asked his rival to change its name but the request was refused as the national chain had registered the Chopstix name as a trademark. The two businesses called a truce, with the St Andrews Street restaurant remaining in operation until running into financial problems. It was pursued for non-payment by HMRC, which raised a court action that has resulted in the liquidation of Chopstix Dundee Ltd. Neil Dempsey of Begbies Traynor, Aberdeen has been appointed liquidator. Companies House records show that a new company, Fu De Garden, has been established at the St Andrews Street address, and the restaurant is continuing to operate. Its director is listed as Ms Fang Chen.

Heineken launches new glassware: Heineken is introducing a new "star" pint and half pint glass. Available from this month, the beer’s latest glass is taller and has "an eye-catching premium design", according to the company. The design includes curves in the glass that allegedly facilitate the perfect beer flow from the tap into the glass, creating a smooth, foamy head that Heineken says will "lock in the carbonation". Andrew Turner, on-trade category and trade marketing director at Heineken, said: “We all know that if you deliver a quality first pint, consumers will return to the bar for a second. The new Heineken glassware is one that our consumers want to hold and to be seen holding. And importantly, the glass doesn’t only look great, it’s been designed to make sure the beer tastes and looks its very best – so consumers know they’re getting an exceptional glass of beer.” A schooner with the new design will be launched later this year.

Two-Michelin-starred chef buys first pub: Daniel Clifford, owner of the two-Michelin-starred Cambridge restaurant Midsummer House, has bought a pub in the Essex village of Little Dunmow, The Caterer has reported. He has bought the freehold of the Flitch of Bacon for £300,000, and plans to reopen it in four-and-a-half months’ time after an extensive refurbishment, estimated to cost £500,000. The pub will have 35 covers. It has a large beer garden and three letting rooms which will open shortly after the pub itself. The pub, which will retain the name the Flitch of Bacon, will serve traditional pub food including “forgotten classics” such as steak and kidney pudding and homemade sausages, and Black Forest gateau. Clifford plans to use at least 90% of the produce supplied by his farm in Ongar, Essex which he purchased at the end of last year. “Everything will be made on site with produce from the farm. We also have no ties to a brewery so I will be sourcing great local ales and a local winery which is 15 miles away and will be using them as well,” Clifford said.
 
Punch Taverns roadshow to visit 11 venues: The Punch Taverns roadshow, now in its 12th year, is to visit 11 venues in 2015. The roadshow provide licensees with access to a raft of support and industry leading suppliers across all areas of business activity, helping them to build retail sales and tap into invaluable category and industry advice. The events kick off on 17 September at the Birmingham Motorcycle Museum and then take in ten venues across the UK, finishing up at the Macron Stadium in Bolton on 20th October. New venues this year include City Pavilion in East London on 24 September, the University of West England in Bristol on 29 September and Ascot Racecourse, near Windsor on 6 October. As last year, licensees will be issued with a voucher booklet in advance, enabling them to plan their visit with access to more than 140 industry-leading suppliers, many of whom are new to the roadshows, and get the chance to meet members of the Punch team and operating board. Punch’s commercial director, John Healy, said: “The events have grown in success every year. Last year, over 64% of our estate attended one of the ten shows and the new venues this year will help us attract even more of our Partners to these hugely worthwhile events.”

Samuel Adams bumped off top of US craft beers list after criteria change: The Boston Beer Company, brewer of Samuel Adams beers, has lost its position as number one on the list of the top craft breweries in the United States to the old-established Pennsylvania family brewer DC Yuengling & Son after a change in definitions. The Boston Beer Company sold 20% more beer than in 2013. But the US Brewers Association has changed it definition of a craft brewery, so that a "traditional" brewer can now use maize, rice and syrups to enhance flavour. Previously, traditional brewers had to use traditional or innovative brewing techniques with the majority of beers produced with all malt. Yuengling, of Pottsville, Pennsylvania, the oldest brewery in the United States, founded in 1829, uses maize, so previously, it was not considered in the annual list. Both breweries fit under the US Brewers Association's criterion for "small" brewery as one that produces up to six million barrels a year. In 2014, craft brewers sold an estimated $19.6bn in beer, the association says, representing 19% of the US beer market, up from 14% in 2013. Craft brewers produced 22.2 million barrels, an 18% increase in volume, equal to about 11% of total beer volume produced in the US. Bart Watson, chief economist at the Brewers Association, said: "Most of the breweries that dropped off didn't have poor years as much as they didn't have quite as great a year as everyone else in the Top 50. Given the rate at which many of these breweries are expanding, flat or even slightly increased sales mean you drop down the list."
 
Prosecco popularity boom sees sales of champagne glasses soar: A glassware supplier in the North West of England is reporting soaring sales of champagne glasses, thanks to the huge rise in popularity of Prosecco, which the Stockport- brewer and pub owner Frederic Robinson says is up 100-fold in its own estate. Henry Stephenson, managing director of the Stockport-based glassware firm Stephensons, which has been trading in the North West of England for more than 145 years, said: "We experienced unprecedented demand in 2014, supplying a mixture of champagne flutes and champagne saucers. Prosecco signals celebration, without the hefty price tag associated with champagne. It’s also light, providing the perfect base for a myriad of cocktails such as Kir Royales and Bellinis. The Prosecco trend shows no sign of slowing and we firmly expect a further increase in sales of champagne glassware during 2015.” Noel Reid, wine buyer at Frederick Robinson Breweries, said: “The rise in on-trade Prosecco sales has been the phenomenon of the past two to three years, with our own sales up 100-fold in the past five years. Even in tougher times we all still enjoy a glass of fizz and Prosecco has become the acceptable alternative to Champagne, with a price point that allows customers to purchase a glass of Prosecco at not much more than a glass of wine."

Plans revealed for 5am Sheffield Champagne bar: Permission is being sought for a premium Champagne and cocktail bar in Sheffield that would stay open until 5am. The company behind the application, Clublease Operators, wants to open the 861 sq ft bar, to be called Cocoon, in a currently vacant ground floor unit at Q Park on the corner of Portobello Street and Rockingham Street and just off West Street. The area is home to a number of popular nightclubs, pubs and bars, many particularly catering for the large local student population. The space, owned by Standard Life Investments, currently only has permission to be used as a retail outlet and council approval is required for the new plans to proceed. The bar would incorporate a large seating area and two dance floors. Clublease is seeking opening hours from 11am to 5am.
 
Molson Coors' Carling brand launches Brighton or Barbados promotion:
Molson Coors’ Carling brand has launched a major new promotion, "Brighton or Barbados", which will offer 1,000 drinkers the opportunity to spend their May Day bank holiday in either Brighton or Barbados’ The campaign will encourage drinkers in the UK to make the most of their extended weekend, by entering the promotion to book a two or four person bank holiday getaway for just £49 per person. The twist is that they will not know until after they’ve booked whether they are going to Brighton or Barbados: one in three holidays will be in Barbados. The holidays will be delivered by Expedia, the exclusive travel partner for the promotion. The promotion will be supported by an integrated campaign which will begin with out-of-home advertising in the run- up to the premiere of the 30-second TV ad spot, launching on Friday 3 April. The TV advertising will also be supported by a digital, social and print media campaign.
 
Starwood sells Ace Hotel in Shoreditch for £150m: The Ace Hotel London Shoreditch, home to the Hoi Polloi restaurant, the Bulldog coffee shop and the Miranda nightclub, has been sold by the private investment firm Starwood Capital Group to a company called Limulus Ltd for £150m. The 258-bedroom hotel, in Shoreditch High Street, East London, will continue to be operated by Ace Hotel Group on behalf of the new owner. The hotel was acquired by an affiliate of Starwood Capital Group in June 2012 out of an administration led by Ireland's National Asset Management Agency. It was converted to an Ace Hotel after an extensive expansion and refurbishment, reopening in September 2013, and won the "Best Renovation" at the 2014 European Hotel Design Awards. Limulus was advised by the Deerbrook Group, an investment adviser and asset manager with more than 1.3 million feet of office space and 1,000 hotel rooms under management based in Mayfair, Central London.
 
Domino's lets people order pizzas through their smart TVs: Domino’s Pizza has begun letting customers in the United States order pizzas through their Samsung Smart TVs. The new platform is part of Domino’s AnyWare technology, which gives customers the ability to order pizzas using different types of devices. The new format comes just in time for the US basketball championships, and Kevin Vasconi, Domino’s chief information officer, said: “Basketball fans are going to be glued to their TVs, and now they don’t have to miss a minute of the big game to order a delicious game-day meal. Customers can place and track their order, all while still watching the game on their Samsung Smart TV.” The company expects to sell 1.7 million pizzas during the NCAA men’s basketball semifinals and championship game. To use the new ordering feature, customers must go online and save a "pizza profile" on the chain’s website, or use a recent order. They also must have a Samsung Smart TV model from 2013 or later. Customers will also be able to track the status of their order through Domino’s Tracker.

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