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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Thu 2nd Apr 2015 - Update: Booker, Harvester and takeaways
Booker Group chairman to step down, like-for-likes up 1.7%: Wholesaler Booker Group has announced that Richard Rose, having served three terms of three years each, as chairman of Blueheath Holdings and then Booker Group, in accordance with corporate governance best practice, will be stepping down as chairman at the AGM on July 8 2015. Charles Wilson, Booker chief executive said: “Richard has been a superb Chairman. Booker Group has come a long way in the past few years and Richard has done a great job of building and chairing the Board. We wish him all the very best in the future.” The process to find the new Chairman is underway and Booker Group expect to announce Richard’s successor before the AGM. Booker Group additionally announces that Mark Aylwin has decided to leave Booker to pursue other opportunities. He was responsible for the Booker Direct, Chef Direct and Ritter Courivaud businesses. Wilson added: “We are very grateful to Mark for his contribution to the Booker Group. Mark joined with acquisition of Blueheath in 2007, developed our Booker Direct business and helped found Chef Direct. We wish Mark all the very best for the future. Rather than replacing Mark we have decided to embed the strengths of Booker Direct, Ritter Courivaud and Chef Direct into the wider Group structure. As a result, following Mark’s departure Booker Direct will become part of the Group Retail structure reporting to Steve Fox. Chef Direct will become part of Group Catering reporting to Stuart Hyslop. Ritter Courivaud will be chaired by Dominic Morrey who runs our Fresh business. These changes will help take the benefits of Booker Direct, Chef Direct and Ritter Courivaud to our national accounts, branch accounts and independent catering and retail customers.” Meanwhile, Booker announced its trading performance for the 12 weeks to 27 March 2015. Total sales in the 12 weeks, including Makro, rose by 1.0% on the same period last year. Booker like-for-like total sales (excluding Makro) were 1.7% higher with non tobacco like-for-likes up 2.3%. Wilson said: “This was a good end to a good year. We achieved strong customer satisfaction scores, and sales and profits were the best we have ever achieved. The integration of Makro into the Group has gone smoothly which has allowed us to improve choice, prices and service to our catering and retail customers. Despite price deflation, we have grown like for like sales and Booker Group remains on track to ‘Focus, Drive and Broaden’ the business to be the UK’s leading wholesaler.”

Harvester wins Best Family-Friendly award for third consecutive time: Mitchells & Butlers Harvester brand has been voted ‘Best Family-Friendly Restaurant’ for the third year running in the Tommy’s awards. The company stated: “The competition was strong but our great range of family-friendly menu choices and kids’ activities proved a winning combination.” Tommy’s Baby-Friendly Awards are run in association with parenting group Bounty and celebrate individuals and organisations which make a difference to the lives of families all over the UK. Harvester has now won the Best Family-Friendly Restaurant category in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Founded in 1992, Tommy’s helps to raise funds for research into stillbirth, premature birth and miscarriage, and to provide vital information to parents. 

Study find takeaways increased in number by 45% over two decades: The number of takeaway outlets in Norfolk has increased by 45% in two decades, a study by Cambridge University has found, according to The Daily Telegraph. The study found the most significant increases in outlets such as kebab shops, Indian and Chinese takeaways, and burger bars occurred in the poorest areas, which tend to have the highest obesity levels. Research carried out by the university last year found that those that lived and worked near a high number of takeaway outlets tended to eat more takeaway food and were more likely to be obese than those less exposed. The new research analysed the number of takeaways across Norfolk between 1990 and 2008 and how this related to levels of neighbourhood socioeconomic deprivation. Researchers said that although the study was only carried out in Norfolk, the county was large and shared characteristics with other areas of the UK so the findings would be similar across the country. The research, carried out at the University’s Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR), found that over the 18 years, the total number of takeaway food outlets in Norfolk rose by 45% from 265 to 385 outlets. This equated to an increase from 2.6 outlets to 3.8 outlets per 10,000 residents. Areas of highest deprivation saw an increase from 4.6 outlets to 6.5 outlets per 10,000 residents. Meanwhile, the least deprived areas saw an increase from 1.6 to 2.1 per 10,000 residents. Lead author PhD student Eva Maguire said: “The link we’ve seen between the number of takeaway food outlets and area deprivation is consistent with other reports, but this is the first time the changes over time have been studied in the UK. There were differences in the densities of takeaway outlets as far back as we looked, but these differences also became more extreme.”

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