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Tue 21st Apr 2015 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Tim Lowther to lead Smashburger expansion in the UK: Tim Lowther, who helped Shake Shack and Five Guys grow in Britain, is to lead the expansion of another American better burger brand, Smashburger, in the UK after the franchise rights were acquired by Domino’s Pizza franchisee MSG group. A total of 35 Smashburger sites are expected to by MSG, which has a turnover of £100m in the UK, “in quick succession”. The UK is the eighth international launch market for the brand, which was founded by a former McDonald’s executive, Tom Ryan, who oversaw the creation of menu innovations such as McFlurries, the Dollar Menu, and McGriddles. Lowther most recently led the UK launch of Shake Shack in 2013 and Five Guys into the north of England in 2014. He also has experience with Burger King, Cafe Ritazza and SSP. Lowther said: “The fast casual dining market is yet to reach its potential and there is most definitely an exciting long term future ahead with huge potential for brands such as Smashburger. We are extremely looking forward to propelling Smashburger to lead the better burgers in the UK. Due to its laser focus on quality and taste, we are certain Smashburger will appeal to the UK’s tastes and more importantly satisfy the burger feeding frenzy for the next 30 years and beyond.” Ryan said: “The better burger category is growing, especially in international markets like the UK. We are excited to be part of London’s booming food culture and look forward to introducing a new way to eat burgers with our new franchise partner, who we’re confident will continue the brand’s status as a leader in the fast-casual industry across the pond.” Smashburger uses a unique method of cooking – “smashing” the beef onto a hot buttered grill. It operates more than 310 corporate and franchise restaurants in 34 US states and seven other countries.

Industry News:

Union holds protest in Sheffield calling for £10 per hour minimum wage: A union has called for the end to "exploitative" zero hours by fast food groups contracts and demanded that workers receive a £10 per hour minimum wage. The Bakers Food and Allied Workers’ Union (BFAWU), alongside other groups, held a protest outside McDonald’s in Sheffield city centre at the weekend calling for better working conditions, pay and the introduction of fixed hours contracts. Around 40 protesters, which included members of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) handed out leaflets to passing shoppers as part of the run-up to the  general election. Sam Vickers, regional organiser for the BFAWU, said: “This protest is primarily about McDonald’s who employ 90% of their employees on zero hours contracts and have an average wage of £5 per hour. We are in a ludicrous situation where we have people not only in McDonald’s, but in Starbucks, Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chicken who are on zero hours contracts and the state are having to pay them work benefits. People in Sheffield can’t live on these types of wages and contracts and that’s why we are here.”

Martin Lewis backs complains resolution website for consumers: Martin Lewis, who founded moneysavingexpert.com, is backing a new consumer website called resolver.co.uk. Customers who complain through Resolver rather than going direct to the company concerned have their complaint registered, phone calls recorded and, if the company fails to respond, the complaint is flagged on social media websites such as Twitter. The information about the complaint is packaged up in a way that should make it easier for companies to resolve the complaint. If the complaint is not sorted out, this is passed to the relevant ombudsman, be it energy or financial, and a judgment is made. Around 38,000 consumers have registered complaints in the past six months. Lewis, who is also a financial columnist for the Daily Telegraph, said: “There’s real demand for a cohesive and structured way to complain in this country. This could be it, and companies are going to have to fall in line.” Among restaurants, website founder James Walker has praised Greene King, Nando’s and TGI Friday’s for their responses to customer complaints.

BHA welcomes tourism recognition in party manifestos: The British Hospitality Association (BHA) has welcomed election manifestos from several of the key political parties acknowledging the role of tourism and hospitality as a key contributor to the UK economy for the first time ever. The Conservative Party manifesto pays tribute to the industry as a supporter of three million jobs and references "the value of the tourism industry to the UK economy." The document promises to speed up the visa process for tourists, invest in transport infrastructure and step up its efforts to recruit more apprentices to the sector. The Green Party manifesto stated the party's support for the long-running campaign to cut tourism VAT. The BHA has been actively lobbying all political parties to lower tourism VAT from 20% to 5% in line with competitor destinations within the European Union. The Welsh nationalist party Plaid Cymru has also made a commitment to reduce tourism VAT in its manifesto, pledging a commitment to make holidays at home more affordable and attract foreign tourists. The Liberal Democrat manifesto commits to strengthening the Hospitality and Tourism Council, with the business and culture secretaries as co-chairs. The manifesto also pledges to give higher status to tourism within the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and to empower local tourism authorities decision-making powers to promote tourism propositions. The UKIP manifesto, meanwhile, calls for the creation of a dedicated Minister of State for Heritage and Tourism, to be attached to the Cabinet Office. The only glaring absence across the main political parties’ manifesto is the Labour Party, which has all but failed to reference tourism in its manifesto.

Luke Johnson backs referendum on Europe: Sector investor Luke Johnson has backed a referendum on the UK’s EU membership. He told City AM: “It’s sclerotic, backward-looking. It was formed as an economic entity; I worry that it’s transmogrified into something wholly different (and) the idea that trade will be stopped if we leave is fantasy.” Johnson pointed out that most adults were not around to vote on the EU, so there is a “democratic deficit”. Big businesses have no reason to leave, he said, because “when they’re giant, they can afford the paperwork,” and there are “barriers to entry for smaller firms” from which they can profit. But in the end, it is a problem with groupthink, he argued. “Think how many people said, ‘we have to join the euro or we’ll be doomed’. The crowd can be wrong; what a catastrophe that would’ve been.”

Sir Clive Woodward to speak at BII lunch: Sir Clive Woodward has been announced as the guest speaker at the BII Summer Event and Annual Lunch, which takes place on Tuesday 2 June at the Artillery Garden of the Honourable Artillery Company (HAC) in Chiswell Street, in the City of  London. Woodward, the former England Rugby coach, will be giving tips on how to create a winning team and have a winning mentality. Guests are invited to follow up with questions after the lunch, in an informal discussion. Tim Hulme, chief executive of the BII, said: “We are delighted to announce Sir Clive Woodward as this year’s guest speaker. What better person to motivate our members than a World Cup-winning coach! Clive has achieved great things with England Rugby and Team GB and we look forward to him sharing his experiences with us and finding out what methods he has applied to ensure success.” The event, which is a celebration of the licensed retail sector, will also host the BII awards, where guests can find out who will become the Licensee of the Year 2015. Tickets for the BII Summer Event & Annual Lunch can be booked on-line at biievents.org or directly from the BII on 01276 684449. Prices are £99 (plus VAT) for members and £129 (plus VAT) for non-members.

Entrepreneurs claim app will revolutionise bar and nightclub sector: Two Scottish entrepreneurs say their new software application will “revolutionise” the bar and nightclub industry. Cameron McHattie and Mark Innes have created StampOut, an application which provides venue with a platform designed to assist owners, managers and promoters with the administration of their clientele. The app is closely integrated with Facebook, allowing nightclubs to gather demographic data on its attendees. This data can then be analysed by managers and promoters to gauge the success of events, and allow them to build a database of guests through the built-in customer relationship manager (CRM). Nightclub attendees will sign up to a chosen night’s guest list through Facebook. StampOut then gathers the data of the individual from Facebook and feeds this into the application. Nightclubs and bars using the application will be able to manage their guests in real time and analyse the statistics from their night. McHattie said: “Total guest management really is how you sum up this application. I recall many nights out where I have turned up to a club and the promoter at the door has been ticking off VIPs using a clipboard and a pen. StampOut modernises this basic procedure through the use of an application on a tablet device.”

CODE app launches in Manchester: The CODE app has launched in Manchester and will soon feature industry offers in Leeds and Liverpool. As in London, The CODE app (app.code-london.co.uk) will offer exclusive benefits and perks to anyone working in hospitality in Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool and the surrounding areas. Restaurants on the app in Manchester – with special industry offers – include Solita, Hawksmoor Manchester, Mughli and The Victorian Chop House Co. (The Albert Square Chop House, Sam’s Chop House and Mr Thomas’s Chop House). Simon Rogan’s The French and Mr Cooper’s House & Garden at the Midland Hotel will also feature on the app. Rogan said: “It is so important that staff around the hospitality industry know what’s going on in restaurants, to inspire them in their careers. The CODE app encourages them to sample restaurants with good incentives, and we are pleased both of our Manchester sites are involved.” Adam Hyman, founder of CODE, added: “The restaurant scene in Manchester is going from strength to strength. For a while now, we’ve had our eye on other cities in the UK that have a strong hospitality community where we could take the industry app. Manchester, as well as Leeds and Liverpool, was the most obvious choice due to its already vibrant dining scene that is growing.” 

Company News:

Casa Brasil secures third site, Prezzo expands in Portsmouth: All you can eat Brazilian Rodizio concept Casa Brasil is to open a third restaurant at CBRE Global Investors Port Solent scheme in Portsmouth. The South American themed concept where barbecue chefs come round with gaucho-style skewers of meat including beef, pork, lamb, chicken and even kangaroo, is already trading in Bournemouth and Southampton. Casa Brasil Portsmouth is taking a 4,664 sq ft restaurant with an additional 944 sq ft terrace. It has taken a new 20-year lease on the former Indian Palace site Unit 44/45 The Boardwalk. The rental terms were not disclosed. Restaurant Property and Hughes Ellard advise CBRE Global Investors. Hughes Ellard director Tim Clark said: “Casa Brasil will bring a taste of Samba to Port Solent. This fun, popular format will trade very well and is a great addition to the scheme.” A second deal sees Prezzo, already in the 1,712 sq ft Unit 43, opportunistically expand into the adjoining 1,140 sq ft former gallery unit at 33a Upper Boardwalk, which includes enhanced terrace seating overlooking the marina. It has been granted a new lease coterminous with its existing lease. Restaurant Property’s head of sales Mark Calder said: “Port Solent has been trading strongly and has become a very popular location for leisure operators. This is reflected by Prezzo almost doubling the size of its restaurant and the fact that the scheme has never had so many enquiries from potential occupiers.”

Gaucho adds cocktail bar area to Manchester site: The steak restaurant brand Gaucho is adding a new bar to its Manchester site. The site has doubled the space at the entrance to the venue on St Mary’s Street The bar will be open for lunch between noon and 5pm, while at night it will become a “destination cocktail bar” with seating for 60 and an overall capacity of 120. The new bar comes amid an overall refresh of the Argentinean chain, with the venue having installed a series of black leather booths with seating for parties of up to eight in the main venue, a former Methodist Hall that still has original features including the church organ.

Bill’s Restaurants launches spring menu: Bill’s Restaurants has launched its spring menu as "a celebration of the season’s best fresh produce".  New on the menu are a kale "super salad", pea and mint soup, served with a cheese pastry twist, sea salt kale chips, and crispy Gressingham duck leg served with a salad of watercress, peas, broad beans and basil. A new lamb dish is English lamb rump on a lamb and lentil moussaka, with a zesty salsa. There is also a new dinner special, a platter of ribs, chicken, sausage, chilli, onion rings, fries and watercress, served with a complimentary Bill’s beer at £16. Jennifer McLaughlin, who joined as head of food development in March, said: "Seasonality has always been an important element of Bill’s, and over the coming months we will be adding more seasonal dishes and ingredients to our menus. Spring is the perfect time to freshen everything up as new produce becomes available, and our guests can expect to see more changes as we move through the year.”

Fried chicken and beer concept Bird secures second site: Free range British fried chicken and craft beers concept Bird, which launched in Shoreditch last year, is to open a second outlet in Islington. Bird is run by two Canadians, a former Credit Suisse investment banker Paul Hemings and his chef wife Cara Ceppetelli. Bird aims to pull in a London clientele who have long grown out of the “bargain bucket” after a Saturday night at the pub, but still want a “naughty but nice” meal out. Bird is taking over the site of the former pub The Bailey at 81 Holloway Road, N7 for its second restaurant. The site is just metres away from the Highbury and Islington Station. It is paying in excess of the quoting rent of £50,000 per year for the 2,448 sq ft ground floor and basement. It has taken a new 15-year lease from the private landlord of the property. Restaurant Property’s Steve Lambell, who advised the landlord, said: “Bird is a great take on the trend of elevating fried chicken. It aspires to do for fried chicken what Byron did for burgers”. Hemings and Ceppetelli opened their first venue 120-seat Kingsland Road, E2, designed by Hackney’s Michael Marriott in May 2014.

Chaophraya Glasgow wins Best Asian Cuisine category in Scottish Entertainment Awards: Europe’s biggest Asian restaurant Chaophraya Glasgow has won the Best Asian Cusine category at the Scottish Entertainment awards. The venue occupies more than 17,000 sq ft and is set over four floors in a Grade II listed building. It opened after a £2.2m investment, has 350 covers, and serves around 2,100 covers per week. The restaurant boasts themed private dining rooms, a champagne bar, a Palm Sugar Lounge Bar and outdoor seating area on Buchanan Street. The restaurant’s Callum Davidson also won ‘Mixologist of the Year’.

Marco Pierre White to open at Holiday Inn Birmingham airport: A branch of the Marco’s New York Italian chain is to open at the 239-bedroom Holiday Inn Birmingham Airport. The 120-cover new restaurant replaces the venue’s existing Grill Room. It is expected to open mid-May and will serve White's take on American-Italian food. The restaurant’s opening comes after a deal between Black & White Franchising and the hotel’s owners, who will run the new restaurant under a franchise agreement. Black and White Franchising has partnered White to roll out three of his restaurant brands, including Steakhouse Bar & Grill, Marco’s New York Italian and Wheeler’s of St James. To date there are ten New York Italian restaurants, eight Steakhouse Bar & Grills and one Wheeler’s of St James. Nick Taplin, owner and chairman of Black & White Franchising, said: “Marco’s New York Italian sits well across a variety of locations and this latest deal demonstrates the versatility of this offering. The Holiday Inn Birmingham Airport has a wide client base from holiday makers, business people and local residents and this new restaurant is perfect for the location." Holiday Inn Birmingham Airport restaurant is the 19th venue to sign a franchise agreement and the fifth New York Italian to open in 2015.

Revolution Bars introduces new menu:
Revolution Bars Group is launching a new menu with an emphasis on fresh quality chef-cooked dishes. Some venues bring in £15,000 a week through food and lunchtime has been identified as a key focus. The menu includes an improved range of burritos, flatbreads, sandwiches and wraps, introduced after extensive research into sales and customer feedback. The content and cook methods for the burritos were completely revised after a "burrito eat-a-thon" was held ain Revolution bars, to determine which flavours and ingredients worked best. The results include a pulled salt beef burrito, and a smoky aubergine option, both built using guacamole, black beans, Revolution’s "smokinnaise" sauce, spicy red rice and cheese, with tortilla chips and dips. The menu is heavily influenced by the Americana hipster trend, demonstrated by the brand’s new Macphilly cheese steak sandwich, incorporating pulled salt beef, smoked cheddar, mac ’n’ cheese and French’s mustard inside a stone-baked ciabatta. Other dishes include a cherry cola chicken wrap, and the "triple overload" burger, which contains beef, buttermilk chicken and pulled pork inside a triple brioche, with "Armageddon" sauce, based on a Korean Sriracha sauce, BBQ crackling puffs, smoked cheddar and garlic sauce. The brand has revised its sharer options, introducing two crates that showcase a variety of the best ingredients and products on the menu, the Street Food Crate and Deli Crate. Executive chef Mark Rush said: “After four years of double-digit like-for-like growth for our food offering, it was vital that the new menu contained dishes that would excite and interest the customer, while improving the quality even further, to help us continue to build on this aspect of our business.”

Mark Arrol sets up Nidderdale Inns: The North East of England pub operator Mark Arrol has stepped down from Osbourne Leisure to set up a new company, Nidderdale Inns, which currently operates the Malt Shovel, Brearton. Arrol also runs sites in Catterick and Darlington through other businesses. He said: “This new company will be the vehicle for further expansion in the sector. I have put an offer in on a site last week.” Osbourne Leisure continues to run sites in Yarm and Durham.

70,000 sign petition protesting against McDonald’s anti-homeless spikes: More than 70,000 people across the world have signed a petition demanding McDonald's remove spikes that deter the homeless from sleeping outside one of its restaurants in Leeds. The company has caused anger after installing metal studs outside its branch in Leeds city centre, which critics say are there to stop people sleeping rough. McDonald's has defended the use of the spikes, claiming they were installed two years ago in an attempt to stop anti-social behaviour, not target the homeless. But critics say the spikes have been put in because they are uncomfortable to sleep on and they have been installed on areas which used to be benches.

Hunters Brewery ales to be stocked across Wetherspoon’s Devon estate: Hunters Brewery, of Ipplepen, Devon, which appeared in an episode of Alex Polizzi’s The Fixer, is to have its beers stocked across JD Wetherspoon’s Devon estate. Hunters has expanded its production facility and can now produce 5,000 hectolitres of ale a year with five fermenters. Hunters director Paul Walker said: “After featuring on Alex Polizzi's The Fixer, it was highlighted that the marketing for bottled beers and cask ales for Hunters Brewery were not consistent across the range. We were lucky to have been involved with the BBC visiting a company in London, Underscore. At Underscore we were shown some new marketing that would bring Hunters Brewery up to date with current thinking and would help get our beers outside of Devon.”

Starbucks extends presence in the US $1.6 Billion super-premium juice category: Starbucks Evolution Fresh brand has launched a new range of fruit and vegetable juices in 11 fl oz bottles for the US grocery market. The new products include five new cold-pressed juice blends, adding to Evolution Fresh’s portfolio of 42 cold-pressed juices available in original 15.2 fl oz and multi-serve bottles. Super-premium cold-pressed juice continues to grow at a much faster rate than the $1.6 billion super-premium juice category as a whole and greatly outpaces the growth of super-premium pasteurised juice by 130%. The new 11 fl oz line is designed as an ‘approachable size’ for those wanting to try cold-pressed juice for the first time or consumers seeking a nourishing beverage to pair with their lunch or afternoon snack.

TLC Inns to open largest Grand Central this week: TLC Inns, led by Steve and Jo Haslam, will open its fourth and largest Grand Central bar and grill at the former Quayside on the Waterfront in Ipswich this week. The opening will be one of the largest restaurants in Ipswich, seating 280 people. General manager James Thornton said: “Our main ethos is fast fresh food. There are a lot of American branded restaurants, and they are good at what they do but, for us it’s about being as authentic as we can be. We’ve worked really hard on menu development – we’re all foodies and all passionate about this style of food.” Flours have been imported from the United States for "that true taste", TLC says, while the company claims  it took six months to source the perfect cornbread supplier, and Grand Central is the only restaurant in the UK to source the special imported Southern fried seasoning it uses.

Mews of Mayfair makes operations manager and executive chef appointments: Mews of Mayfair, which operates the eponymous Mews of Mayfair, Mayfair Pizza Co., La Cave and Cartizze Bar in Lancashire Court, Mayfair, London, has appointed an operations manager and executive chef. Gavin Hovingh becomes operations manager having joined the business as general manager in 2011. Michael Lecouteur has become the company’s executive chef, having served as head chef of Mews of Mayfair and Mayfair Pizza Co. Managing director James Robson said: “It has taken us close to ten years to collect our five leases and create four successful brands within Lancashire Court. I am excited to lead the team in their new roles and trust their experience and skills will help develop and expand our brands beyond our cobbled mews.”

Agent offers freehold pub and activities centre site: The property agent Christie + Co is offering the freehold of the Station Inn, at the Shropshire MTB & Outdoor Pursuits Centre in Marshbrook, near Church Stretton, off an asking price of £895,000. Turnover to year-end March 2014 was £704,258 net of VAT. The site consists of a traditional stone-built pub with restaurant, camping site, and a mountain bike centre. The business originally operated solely as a food-led public house, popular for its meat-driven menu and local ales. It has since developed into a visitor centre offering a wide range of services including mountain bike hire, bike skills courses, MTB leadership and navigational courses as well as a variety of other outdoor pursuit qualifications. There is a fully equipped bike shop, service station and a campsite area for approximately 30 pitches. Shropshire Outdoor Centre consists of six pods, comfortable, spacious and insulated wooden huts that provide basic accommodation for up to five people.

Taj Hotel launches new restaurant: The Tata-owned flagship Taj Hotel in Buckingham Gate, Central London has launched a new restaurant. The new Kona restaurant takes its name from its positioning at a quiet secluded corner of the Tata Group hotel. Digvijay Singh, general manager of the hotel, said: "Kona is set to become a haven from the hustle and bustle of Victoria and St James's. A place where not only our resident guests can retreat, but also where Londoners and visitors can indulge in a sophisticated dining experience in a luxurious yet laid-back ambience." The cuisine at the 46-seater Kona is described by the hotel as "an interpretation of the colours, flavours and vibrancy of Southern European cuisine, marrying traditional cooking techniques from the French Riviera and the coast of Liguria in Italy."

Roche adds six new clients: The marketing and public relations agency Roche Communications, led by Rochelle Cohen, has added six new clients to its roster. The new clients are the modern Japanese restaurant Engawa in Ham Yard, Soho, the  French deli-bistro Champagne & Fromage in Covent Garden, Ibérica, the Spanish restaurant group led by Nacho Manzano, Roast in Borough Market, South London and Marco Pierre White’s Wheeler’s Rib Room and Oyster Bar in the City, and its sixth new client, PizzaBuzz, which is opening in July 2015 in the new Alphabeta development on Worship Street, between Shoreditch and the City. PizzaBuzz, a self-service pizza bar will offer high-quality, customised pizzas and salads with ice-cream and cocktails and beers. A technologically-advanced, self-service experience will guide customers to build their own pizza and follow its journey from picking the base to slicing up. PizzaBuzz uses local ingredients, including its own flour blends, with Glera-Frizzante on tap and complimentary green tea and purified water.

Middle Earth Brewery plans launch of Middle Earth Tavern: The Middle Earth Brewery in Burton upon Trent is planning to launch a micropub called Middle Earth Tavern in Burton this summer. Owner Stephen Twells wants to open Middle Earth Tavern in an old office unit at the Midland Grain Warehouse, off Derby Street. He said: "We have to respect the fact that it's a heritage area, so we want it to be about beer, breweries and pub paraphernalia. We want to kit it out with anything that will celebrate the local heritage, such as Bass mirrors." The offices in the Midland Grain Warehouse site already have planning permission to be turned into a pub, but Twells is currently waiting to hear from East Staffordshire Council whether he has been granted a licence to sell alcohol.

Boutique hotel plan for Blairgowrie: One of the most historic buildings in the centre of Blairgowrie, central Scotland could be turned into a boutique hotel. Roy Sim Properties has asked Perth and Kinross Council for the listed building consent needed to transform the Old Granary on Lower Mill Street. Sim’s firm acquired the C-listed mill building, the last of its kind in the town centre, in 1983, saving it from demolition. Part of the 18th century mill was used as a coffee shop and art gallery until 2006. According to the document, as many as 15 potential business tenants have been approached in the past three years but no feasible interest has been expressed. However, a design statement drawn-up by the Denholm Partnership, an architectural practice, states that "the Ericht Hotel and Mill Yard" would include a restaurant, bar, private dining area and six bedrooms. A spokesperson for the architects said: “Investment in this proposal poses a significant opportunity to enhance the Lower Mill Street and backland streetscape and spur regeneration, while also encouraging business growth, employment opportunities and economic development within Blairgowrie.”

Luminar names its Light Technician of the Year: The nightclub company Luminar has recognised the talents of a Plymouth nightclub worker with the title of Light Technician of the Year in a national contest. Ian Burridge, from Oceana Plymouth, came top in the competition organised by the company, the UK’s largest nightclub operator. His creativity and technical skills landed him a trophy, equipment worth £500 and a VIP trip to Prolite & Sound, the international trade fair in Frankfurt. Five finalists chosen from five regions demonstrated their ability to put on light shows to music in the competition, held at Oceana Southampton. Burridge said: “It was the first time the competition was held. I was shocked and surprised when I won as I did not expect it. It is great to be recognised in this way for doing something I enjoy.” He has worked for Luminar for eight years.

Savills boosts leisure team: The property agency Savills has boosted its leisure team with the appointment of two new associate directors, Richard Thomas and Nick Brearley. Thomas, who has more than ten years experience in the leisure sector, joins from Shelley Sandzer where he focused on providing advice to major banks and occupiers. Previous instructions also involve due diligence on corporate transactions including Blackstone‘s purchase of Tragus and Hutton Collins acquisition of Byron Burgers. At Savills, Thomas will concentrate on leisure agency with a particular focus on Central London. Brearley, who is joining from the retail and leisure practice Pudney Shuttleworth, has experience in letting and asset management, having advised on a number of schemes including The Light in Leeds and Xscape in Yorkshire. Previous clients include Mitchells & Butlers, Aagrah Restaurants and Coal. Brearley has held roles at Donaldsons and BNP Paribas, and will focus on both asset management and tenant representation.

Zeo drinks brand re-positions offer: The premium soft drinks brand Zeo has launched a 360° major brand re-positioning and re-launch that will see the low-sugar drink given a new look with six new flavours, shifting the target focus from premium carbonated soft drink consumers to light-to-medium carbonated soft drink consumers. The new range contains just 30 calories per 275ml bottle. Zeo’s marketing director, Ian Greengrass, said: “At Zeo we are committed to producing a unique, exciting soft drink that not only satisfies consumer demand but also really challenges the category and conventional soft drink norms. We know that soft drink lovers today are savvy and actively seeking out low-sugar alternatives to the soft drink selection typically available when visiting a restaurant, pub or hotel. Our ultimate goal is to make it the new standard in carbonated soft drinks.”

Ketel One Vodka launches campaign through premium on-trade retailers:
Ketel One Vodka, the luxury vodka from Diageo, is launching an on-trade campaign this month, the "Ketel One Vodka Kitchen" experience, which Diageo says is inspired by the original Dutch kitchen from the home of Ketel One, where the Nolet distilling family spend much of their time. The campaign, which has as its partners the Metropolitan Pub Company, Living Ventures and Drake and Morgan, will see a range of point-of-sale and pop-up activity prominent in 100 outlets, including the flagship Ketel One Vodka Kitchen at The Folly, a Drake and Morgan outlet at Monument in the City. The Ketel One Vodka Kitchen at The Folly will include "interactive cocktail masterclasses" hosted by Ketel One’s mixologists. Drinkers will be invited around a Dutch-style kitchen table to craft their own personalised Ketel One Bloody Mary and other kitchen-inspired drinks, using fresh fruits and vegetables, freshly ground spices and "secret" seasonings. Diageo plans to roll the promotion out across the wider trade later in 2015.

Restaurateurs taken to court over 'unauthorised' alterations to formerly derelict pub: Two restaurateurs who turned a derelict pub in Stony Stratford, Milton Keynes into a thriving barbecue restaurant are being taken to court over allegedly unauthorised alterations to a listed building. Terry Pritchard and his business partner Darren Isaac have spent £100,000 since July last year turning the former Foresters Arms into the Smoke Shack. They are now facing criminal charges for what Milton Keynes Council says are “considerable unauthorised alterations” which it wants reversed. Pritchard and Isaac say the dispute is over a “50cm hole for extraction ducts”, which they claim were required by the environmental health at the council. Pritchard told the Milton Keynes Gazette: “The council is now trying to force us to remove every single piece of work done. These holes could be easily reinstated, were the equipment ever to be taken out. It is an incredibly upsetting position to be in.” A council spokesman told the Gazette: “We can confirm the investigation into the alleged unauthorised alterations and the decision to issue a Listed Building Enforcement Notice and initiate legal proceedings has at all times been conducted in accordance with our adopted enforcement policy. We are not in the habit of hindering our local businesses - quite the opposite - and we will always negotiate where possible, but on this occasion we have been left with no alternative but to pursue enforcement action.” Pritchard and Isaac are due in court on 8 May. A petition against the action being taken by Milton Keynes Council has already gathered 4,000 signatures in two days.

Nightspot ordered to pay £18,000 for illegally playing music: Fountains Bar and Nightclub, in Llandudno, North Wales has been ordered by the High Court to pay the music licensing organisation PPL just under £18,000 or face a prison sentence – £10,000 to cover legal fees alongside £7,882 for outstanding music licence fees. Mr Justice Peter Smith imposed the order after hearing that the defendant, Farhook Jhurry, persistently failed to comply with the legal requirement for a PPL music licence after being repeatedly contacted and given ample opportunity to rectify the situation. The order comes after Jhurry’s breach of an earlier injunction granted to PPL in 2013. That original injunction was granted when it became clear that Fountains was using recorded music as one of the main attractions for its clientele without a PPL licence. Christine Geissmar, operations director of PPL, said: “There is an intrinsic value that music adds to businesses, particularly in the hospitality and leisure sector, and this judgement acknowledges that the creators of the music should be fairly rewarded for this. This landmark ruling demonstrates how seriously the courts treat copyright infringement and reiterates that music can only be played in public if the right licences are obtained. Those businesses that choose to play recorded music without a licence will face legal action and possibly hefty financial and other consequences as a result.”

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