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Thu 23rd Apr 2015 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

HVS London – more than half of the world’s hotels are now branded: Over half of the world’s hotels are now branded properties, with franchising being the operating model of choice for most of the large hotel operators, a new report from the hotel consultancy HVS London says. Five of the largest branded hotel companies, IHG, Accor, Marriott, Hilton and Starwood, make up 30% of the current global branded room supply and 65% of the development pipeline, which demonstrates the increasing shift away from independently operated hotels worldwide. The report, which examines trends in the way hotels are being operated, identifies the proliferation in the number of players and stakeholders that can be involved in a successful hotel, including brand owners, owners and management companies, as well as a combination of operating models and hybrid models. There is also a geographical difference. Across Europe, where independent hotels are more common, franchises account for 50% of rooms in the large listed hotel companies sampled by HVS, with the owned and leased model making up approximately 30% of room counts, and management contracts around 20%. This contrasts sharply with the North American market, where 85% of the research sample were franchised, just 13% under management contracts and only 2% were owned and leased properties. The report's co-author, Stephen Collins, consulting and valuation analyst with HVS London, said: “In the US, the franchise sector is highly regulated, making it more transparent and easier to compare the results of one brand against another. In Europe, franchise regulations differ from one country to another, making it more difficult to compare like with like.”
  

Industry News:

Haché founder Berry Casey to present at Propel summer conference: Berry Casey, founder of the upmarket London burger restaurant chain Haché, is to present at the Propel conference at the Oxford Belfry on Thursday 2 July, which is followed by Propel’s summer party. Casey will talk about the better burger market, evolving and staying ahead in an increasingly crowded arena. Operators can book up two free places by e-mailing jo.charity@propelinfo.com

McDonald’s closes 350 underperforming restaurants: McDonald’s closed 350 underperforming restaurants around the world in the first quarter, as the company continued to suffer from falling sales and traffic in all its major markets. The closures covered 220 restaurants in the United States and in China, and 130 closures by McDonald’s Japan. The company said like-for-like sales fell 2.3% in the first quarter of 2015, ended March 31, as its two-year sales slump continued. It also acknowledged that sales would fall again in April. McDonald's chief financial officer, Kevin Ozan, said: “We are committed to positioning the company for long-term growth. We took a meaningful step in the first quarter with the decision to close underperforming restaurants that are not contributing to our profitability. While we continue our efforts to regain our business momentum and improve sales at our more than 36,000 restaurants around the world, our current performance reflects the ongoing pressures on the business.” Total revenue for the quarter fell 11%, or 1% excluding the impact of currency translation, to $5.9bn, from $6.7bn the previous year. Net income was $811.5m, a 33% fall from $1.2bn the previous year.
 
London 'will see an explosion in growth of African food': The chef behind a Ghanaian pop-up restaurant believes London is seeing the beginning of an explosion in African food. Zoe Adjonyoh, whose Ghana Kitchen is in Clapham, South West London until the end of next month, hopes to make the cuisine less “intimidating” to encourage diners to try it. Adjonyoh told the London Evening Standard: “There is a very fast-growing community of people in my age group, second generation, who are doing supper clubs and pop-ups representing their cuisine, whether that’s Sierra Leone or Ethiopia, Nigeria or Ghana. There is a new food movement in African cuisine. Some of it is intimidating, like the names of the dishes. It’s about acclimatising to it. I’m familiarising people with the ingredients and restyling it with names people can understand.” Adjonyoh, originally from Woolwich, South East London, has a Ghanaian father and an Irish mother. She is now living in East London, and has brought her Ghana Kitchen to the King & Co pub on Clapham Park Road in South West London.

James Horler – town centres suffer burden of cheap supermarket alcohol: Industry veteran James Horler has highlighted the effect of cheap supermarket alcohol on town and city centres. In his regular, Nottingham Post column, he said: “Abuse of cheap alcohol has been a bone of contention across UK towns and cities for decades. Many incidents of alcohol-related anti-social behaviour and crime continue to blight our city centre, despite the hard work of the authorities and the government's efforts to tackle the problem. In real terms, the cost of alcohol has been falling for many years now, seemingly enabling many people to drink more than is good for them at home before venturing into the city centre, where they can become rowdy after consuming even more drink. The current VAT structure in supermarkets is very unfair to restaurants and bars. Food does not have VAT on it and makes up the largest part of our shopping. So the supermarkets now sell alcohol at very cheap prices as a 'loss leader', in order to get us to visit them to purchase food. That is why a pack of 12 cans of lager is cheaper now than a pack of 12 bottles of branded sparkling water. With this in mind, it's no wonder that many people who want to really let their hair down would choose the option of loading up on booze before they even hit the town – what is known as 'pre-loading'. Whilst it might seem unfair to talk about people saving money when they buy their alcohol, the real impact on our health and city is certainly worth talking about. In moderation, alcohol is fine but the high levels of consumption encouraged by low supermarket offers will have serious consequences on drinkers.”
 

Company News:

Heartstone reports pub Ebitda hit £1m for the first time: Heartstone Inns, the expanding managed pub operator of quality freehold food-led pubs, has reported sales of £6.5m in the year to the end of December 2014, an increase of 5.3% on 2013 and the sixth successive year of like-for-like sales growth. Pub Ebitda of £1,020,000 was achieved, the first time the £1m barrier has been broken, an increase of 13.2% on 2013 and representing an operating margin of 15.8% compared to 14.0% in 2013. Heartstone started the year with nine pubs and ended the year with 11 having acquired The Cockhaven Manor in Devon and The Woodborough Inn in Somerset in November. The Cockhaven Manor is an extensive property with 12 letting rooms in a large village by the Teign estuary in Devon. The Woodborough Inn is also a sizeable property with seven letting rooms in the heart of a large village in north Somerset. Heartstone owns the freehold of all 11 pubs. Heartstone invested £2.2m on the two acquisitions and several pub developments (including an extensive bar and restaurant extension of The Butchers Arms in Gloucestershire) in 2014 having raised the funding from a final EIS share issue earlier in the year. The strengthening operating performance enabled the company to reduce net debt to £2.05m by the year end which means it has modest gearing of only 13.3%. Heartstone was recognised in the LSE’s “1,000 Companies to Inspire Britain” report for 2015. James Birch, managing director of Heartstone Inns, said: “We are delighted with the operational improvements made in 2014 and coupled with the sound financial platform we have created over the last seven years we have a sound platform to continue the development of the current estate and to make further acquisitions.”

BrewDog founders paid £125,000 each in salary but combined stake worth £186m: The founders of the Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog, James Watt and Martin Dickie, earned a salary of £125,000 each last year with no bonus payable. Finance director Neil Simpson was paid slightly more, £129,000, while the special operations director, Martin Dempster, was paid £72,290. Yesterday BrewDog unveiled a fourth-round funding push to raise £25m, suggesting a company value of £305m if all the shares are sold. The company prospectus shows that Watt will still own 33.33% of the company if the offer is fully subscribed and Dickie will own 29.1%, a combined 62% stake in the company worth around £186m. The company’s rank-and-file shareholders, its so-called "equity punks", will own 26% of the company if the latest offer is fully subscribed. BrewDog’s valuation prior to the latest fund-raising round is £280m. The company saw turnover of £29,615,000 in the year to 31 December 2014 with an operating profit of £3,852,000 and a profit after tax of £2,650,000.

Whitbread’s Costa Coffee Club hacked: Whitbread’s Costa Coffee club membership has had its security compromised and members have been told that passwords are to be re-set. An email to Coffee Club members stated: “We are writing to let you know that we recently identified a small number of Coffee Club card members (around 0.02%) with some unusual activity on their accounts. As a result we’ve conducted a full security review and in the interim, removed the ability to access your Coffee Club account online. We have already contacted those customers affected and we are taking the additional precaution to reset the account passwords of every Coffee Club member. We are also introducing a new format for your password to further optimise security and protect your Coffee Club points. Your account password will be reset in the next few days and we will confirm via email when this is complete.”

Bill’s co-founder reports takings have tripled at Marmalade cafe venture: Tania Webb, the highly respected industry veteran who co-founded Bill’s Restaurants with Bill Collison, has reported that takings have tripled at her 35-seat Marmalade cafe in Kemptown, Brighton, which she took over as a lifestyle choice in 2013. The business now employs 15 staff to cope with customers numbers even though it is located in a fairly remote part of Kemptown. Webb told Propel: “It can’t take much more and I think it is trading at 90% of its maximum capacity, largely because of the size limitations of the kitchen. The obvious way to boost the business would be to start opening at night. It would probably make good money, but this business is about enjoyment and not just about making money. Things that are good don’t happen easily. You have to work hard. It is now where I want it to be. I pop in daily but I have good staff running it, so I can leave it alone. I have a background in creating concepts and I know that the first year is hard and you have to see it through.” Marmalade is also unlikely to become a chain, although the team did seriously consider a second site last year. “When you start rolling something out you lose some of what was special about it,” Webb said.
 
Wetherspoon’s Cacioppo sells shares: JD Wetherspoon's personnel and legal director, Su Cacioppo sold 6,347 shares in the company on Monday 20 April. The shares were sold at an average price of 764.50p, for a total transaction of £48,522.82. The company recently announced a dividend, which will be paid on Thursday 28 May. Investors of record on 30 April will be paid a dividend of 4p per share. This represents a dividend yield of 0.52%. The ex-dividend date is Thursday 30 April.
 
Starbucks launches second UK site serving alcohol: Starbucks has opened its second UK site serving alcohol in the evenings, a new outlet at Edinburgh Airport. Passengers can order a range of “shareable” hot and cold dishes such as prawn and chorizo skewers and pulled pork chilli. The drinks include a ten-strong wine list, including prosecco and rosé, Peroni lager and Magners cider. Starbucks started evening menus in the United States five years ago. The first UK outlet to serve alcohol was at Stansted Airport in February.
 
Pret A Manger chief – our Paris stores are out busiest: Pret A Manger's chief executive, Clive Schlee, has reported that the company’s Paris sites are the busiest in the estate. “The shops in Paris are actually our busiest,” he told The Independent. “I think it’s partly because we’ve learned to open big shops from the outset, so people are dining in more. French and British food tastes are not wildly different. They don’t eat crisps like the English do, but they do eat pudding, so we have a higher percentage of pudding sales there. They don’t eat breakfast anything like the way the English do. We have a big variety of breakfast tastes here, but in France they eat pretty much exclusively croissants and baguettes. They also tend to eat breakfast before they leave for work, while the British tend to eat once they get to work.” Pret also now has 60 stores across the United States, with salads the biggest selling item.

Punch – 'market rent only legislation' is contrary to existing legal contracts: Punch Taverns has argued that the "market rent only" option in the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015, which could end the beer tie, is contrary to its existing legal contracts. At the same time, it said, it has already deferred some capital investment projects in anticipation of the impact of the new law, and started looking at a new free-of-tie lease agreement and operating model, and new-style managed and franchised pub operating formats. The company said it was likely to be a year before the secondary legislation bringing in the "market rent only" option is finalised, but "while we will continue to work with the government in finalising the secondary legislation, we remain concerned about the unintended consequences of the Act. The government's own research, conducted by London Economics, forecasts the potential closure of around 1,600 pubs with the loss of thousands of jobs. Also at risk is around £200m of sector capital investment per annum in improving pubs to keep them competitive in an ever changing market." Punch said its view was that the proposed legislation was contrary to existing legal contracts and property rights and ran contrary to the findings of the Office of Fair Trading when it considered a super-complaint from the Campaign for Real Ale in 2010.The company said: "We have already begun to take a number of operational actions to address the potential implications on Punch on implementation of the Act, including: review of new managed and franchised pub operating formats on a select number of sites; modernisation of our pub tenancy and lease agreements; new commercial free-of-tie lease agreement and operating model; deferral of some capital investment projects.”
 
Cosmo £2m site opens in Nottingham after two-year delay to get offer right: The eat-all-you-can buffet chain Cosmo has opened its 17th site, a £2m venue in Nottingham, after a two-year delay to get the offer right. The new site is in Milton Street and occupies 15,000 sq ft. Cosmo's creative director, James Brion, said: "Everything here has completely changed. Before we started the restaurant design, the first step was to reinvent how we want our customers to eat. So instead of traditional round plates for diners to pile up their food, Cosmo has small platters, based on a Japanese bento box, to stop different cuisines merging. You have your sushi but you can have your Indian curry here. It should give a better impression of buffet. Customers will have to realise you can't pile it up high, but they can go back as many times as they like, which I think will be a little bit of an education to start with. But once people realise that they are getting better food this way and there will be a lot less waste, I think everyone is a winner. We're trying to make the customer feel a little bit special without paying the premium price of a restaurant ,and hopefully we've achieved it here." Cosmo acquired the prime site more than two years ago. Brion said: "This is a fantastic site. Nottingham, for buffet, is a perfect location but I didn't want to be just another buffet. It was a very difficult decision not to open and pay rent whilst I was redesigning this restaurant. What we have tried to do is make our menu a little bit more varied and focus more on live cooking rather than just cooking a load of food and leaving it out." If the pilot works in Nottingham it will be rolled out to new and existing restaurants.

Bill’s eyes High Wycombe shopping centre site: Bill’s Restaurant’s is eyeing a new opening in the Eden shopping centre, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. Plans were submitted this week for a change of use from retail to restaurant at 22 Newlands Meadow, a unit which is currently occupied by the childrenswear firm Pumpkin Patch. Planning officials at Wycombe Council are due to make a decision on whether to grant planning permission in mid June.
 
Everards offers free beer for St George’s Day: The Leicester brewer and pub operator Everards is celebrating St George’s Day today by offering all Georges across Leicestershire and beyond free beer. Anyone named George, or any variation of the name George, can come down to its brewery shop today, April 23, and claim a free bottle of Tiger, with a valid ID. The brewery shop is at the brewery site next to Fosse Retail Park, Everard Way, Castle Acres, Narborough, Leicestershire.
 
Jamie Oliver – improving school food in the US could take decades: The chef-entrepreneur Jamie Oliver has told the Times Education Supplement that improving school food in the United States will take decades. However, he promised to continue campaigning for change. “The [situation in the US] is so structurally compromised that it is going to take decades to break that down,” Oliver said. “There are compromised government structures and laws that are in place only so companies can make money, not for public health. The way school lunches are over there, this is quite hard to fix. But it’s not a waste of time. It’s still inspiring to do.” Oliver started campaigning in the US in 2009 when he began filming Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution in West Virginia. The programme would later receive an Emmy for best reality TV series. Oliver's profile was boosted further when he received the 2010 TED prize, a $100,000 award to help him realise his wish to educate every child about food and obesity.
 
Chipotle reports 10.4% rise in like-for-likes: The American fast-casual dining chain Chipotle Mexican Grill has reported a 10.4% rise in like-for-like sales in the first quarter, ending 31 March. The growth was driven primarily by an increase in average customer spend, resulting from menu price increases rolled out in 2014, and, to a lesser extent, by traffic growth. Steve Ells, Chipotle's founder, chairman and co-chief executive, said: "We are very proud of our start to 2015, as our average sales volumes reached a record $2.5m per restaurants. We attribute this success to our unique food culture and people culture, which are the driving forces to create a new fast-food model." During the quarter, Chipotle experienced pork shortages after suspending a supplier that failed to meet the company's animal welfare standards, "but we remain confident that higher quality, responsibly raised ingredients taste better and will continue to resonate with our customers," Ells said. Chipotle added 49 new restaurants during the quarter, bringing its total count to 1,831 locations, including ten for the secondary brand ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen and two Pizzeria Locale outlets. The company expects to open 190 to 205 restaurants in 2015.

Gordon Ramsay opens second Maze site: Gordon Ramsay has opened his second Maze venue, on the site of Aubergine, in Park Walk, Chelsea, West London, where he made his name two decades ago. Maze Grill Park Walk, which follows the original in Mayfair, Central London, is described as a "quintessentially neighbourhood restaurant", "taking its inspiration from the grill rooms of Manhattan but with a distinctly British approach". The restaurant will specialises in rare-breed prime steaks from fillet to rib-eye and triple-seared wagyu, all dry-aged in a Himalayan salt brick-lined ageing chamber. It also offers made-to-order sushi and sashimi dishes from the raw bar. Small-plate dishes from smashed avocado to soft-shell crab slider, are on the menu for sharing or "light bites". A third Maze Grill opens in early May at 79 Royal Hospital Road in Chelsea, formerly the home of Foxtrot Oscar.

Starbucks reports more a million places to buy its product:
Starbucks has reported that there are now more than a million places around the world where consumers can buy its products, in grocery stores, airports, hotels, and convenience stores in nearly 40 countries. In the grocery store segment, where Starbucks has products in 120,000 stores Starbucks said research showed the average shopper spends about 87 seconds in the wine aisle, 74 seconds in the tea section and 68 seconds in the coffee aisle. Starbucks segment expert Michael Conway said: "Some of our grocery spaces pull through design elements from Starbucks stores. It’s like a mini store with design features like a pendant light, tile backsplash, a counter that mimics the hand-off plane – signalling a unique experience.”

Wetherspoon gets Helston go-ahead at third attempt:
JD Wetherspoon has been granted planning permission to transform a former furniture store in the centre of Helston, Cornwall (population: 11,700) into a pub on the third attempt. Cornwall Council has approved the application under delegated powers. As yet it is not known when work will start or when people will be able to buy their first pint at the new pub. Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon told the local newspaper: “We are pleased that we have been granted planning permission for our site in Helston. At present we do not have any on site or opening dates. We are very keen to open our new pub in Helston and believe it will be a great asset to the town.” The company had withdrawn two previous applications for the former Oliver and Son building in Coinagehall Street after they prompted objections, but its third set of plans received the back of both Helston Town Council and Cornwall Council’s planning case officer.

Marston’s to open new-build at new business and science park in June:
Marston’s is to open a new-build pub, The Pipe Major, in Rainham Road South, Dagenham, Essex in June. It sits on the new science and business park londoneast-uk, on the 108-acre former Sanofi site, which opened in a multi-million pound deal in November last year. The seven-acre hub of highly specialised research, development and manufacturing buildings, bought by Site Operations Group,  is expected to attract companies and workers from across the globe, generating up to 800 new jobs for the area. The pub will offer a daily carvery.

Faye Maschler – ‘the long wait for Duck & Rice is not entirely worth it’:
The London Evening Standard food critic Faye Maschler has declared that the long wait for Alan Yau’s Chinese gastro-pub Duck & Rice on Berwick Street in Soho, Central London has not entirely been worth it. In her review column she wrote: “Duck & Rice Soup is wanted; crabmeat and sweetcorn (£9) and hot and sour (£8) are chosen. Consternation regarding egregiously high prices sets in. Food is delivered from a basement kitchen via a dumb waiter trundling up two floors. Everything arrives lukewarm including the hot and sour soup, which is neither hot (in any sense of the word) nor sour. Tepid temperature allows sickly sweetness to predominate in the crab assembly. We perfect chopstick skills picking up warm sparky cashew nuts sautéed with chilli and shallots, one of the Beer Snacks. Word – and Instagrams – had reached me from friends trying Duck and Rice about sesame prawn toast, which, in place of the usual minced shellfish paste, often with a booster of surimi, is a whole prawn clinging on for dear life to a baton of fried bread with a carapace of black and white sesame seeds pressed on top. It’s terrific, and worth the £6.50. The other item that rouses some enthusiasm in my three increasingly jaundiced companions exposed to claggy beef ho fun, heavily curry-powdered Singapore fried noodles with flossy texture and No 23 (ordering joke), a chicken chow mein quite closely related to Pot Noodle, is ginger cod with egg sauce and fried rice.”

Splendid applies to double size of York’s only five star hotel: Splendid Hotel Group has applied to double the size of York’s only five star hotel through a £15m investment that would create 45 jobs and 107 new rooms. Splendid has bought an empty office block adjacent to the Grand Hotel & Spa in Station Rise, formerly the Cedar Court Grand, which it plans to turn into an extension of the historic Grade II listed hotel. Roman House, in Rougier Street, which has been vacant since the insurance giant Aviva moved out in 2010, has been bought for an undisclosed sum by Splendid, less than a year after the company acquired the Grand Hotel from Cedar Court Group. Plans have now been submitted to City of York Council for a two-year renovation project, which also includes upgrading rooms in the existing hotel, converting the former offices block into a new wing containing 107 executive suites, and creating a 160-seater restaurant with an outdoor terrace and a valet parking area with space for up to 15 vehicles.

SSP wins Montreal contract: Food and beverage restaurateur SSP Canada has been awarded a seven-year contract (with three-year extension option) at Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport. Over the full ten-year period, the contract is valued at around C$200 million. SSP Canada will develop ten units, including a Camden Food Co, over 13,500 sq ft and introduce a mix of local and continental as well as international proprietary brands. All of the outlets are scheduled to open throughout 2016. SSP Canada, president and CEO Michael Svagdis, said: “Montréal is renowned for its abundance of trend-setting restaurants and Quebecoise cuisine icons. We are incredibly proud to be working in partnership with Aéroports de Montréal to shine a spotlight on Montréal’s food culture, while introducing SSP’s own, award-winning original brands to passengers.”

Original Bowling Company to merge with rival Bowlplex: Two of Britain’s biggest tenpin bowling operators are to merge after The Original Bowling Company today announced a takeover of the rival Bowlplex chain, The Times has reported. The deal, believed to be worth about £30 million, is being led by the private equity firm Electra Partners, which bought The Original Bowling Company (TOBC) last September for £91 million. Bill Priestley, a partner at Electra, told The Times that the majority of the 17 Bowlplex venues would be converted to TOBC’s Hollywood Bowl brand “in due course” as part of a £3m investment programme.

Two more micropubs open inside M25: Two more micropubs are opening inside the M25, one in Upminster, Havering, East London and the other in Whyteleafe, south of Croydon. Licensing permission for the Upminster Tap Rom in Sunnyside Gardens, Upminster was granted to co-owners Caroline Sheldon and Robert Knowles by Havering Castle last week after the pair told the borough's licensing committee that the venue will be built on a mix of “good ale and conversation”, and anyone caught using their mobile phone will be fined £1. “There’s no TV, music or electronic devices,” Sheldon said. “It’s a community thing where people can chat. The money from the fines will be donated to local community charities.” The venue, which has a capacity of 60 people, will sell a selection of local ales and bar snacks and be staffed by three people, including an Upminster resident who is disabled and has never worked, and another who has been jobless for three years. Licensing hours of 11am to 11pm were approved despite objections from residents in Sunnyside Gardens who argued it would cause a public nuisance. The committee agreed that with nearby shops, restaurants and a petrol station, the micropub would not bring any added nuisance. Meanwhile Tandridge Council has granted planning permission for a micropub in a long-vacant former cafe in Godstone Road, Whyteleaf to Vincent Glen, a former bus driver. Glen, a car buff, is calling his establishment the Radius Arms, after a vehicle part. The new pub is due to open in early May.
 
Tokyo Industries boss pleads not guilty to fire safety charges: Aaron Mellor, who owns one of the UK’s largest nightclub and bar companies, Tokyo Industries, has pleaded not guilty to nine charges of failing to comply with safety requirements. The charges arise after at fire exit door at Tokyo nightclub in Lincoln had to be kicked and broken to open it when inspected by fire officers, and fire escape doors were confirmed as "not useable". Lincoln Magistrates Court heard on Tuesday, 21 April, that the former Silver Street venue was overcrowded in the early hours of 1April 2013. Jonathan Goulding, prosecuting on behalf of Lincolnshire County Council, said: "There were events going on in the basement and on the first floor of the building. There were over 450 people in the basement and 200 on the first floor. Experienced fire officers found that if a fire had occurred, the risk to life to the visitors was very high because they would not have been able to escape from the premises easily." The court was told that officers inspected the building with Sean Barnett, a member of staff at the club, and they could not open the fire escape door in the basement of the venue. Barnett told the court: "I had to kick the bottom of the door to open it, which removed part of the door frame. The tarmac on the outside of the door was higher than the fire exit door. The door was not useable." Barnett said that officers also highlighted that there was insufficient lighting in the area and that there were some incorrect directional emergency exit signs. The court was told that one of the rooms in the venue was filled with bags of rubbish and parts of the ceiling in one room were missing. The trial continues.
 
Well-known Liverpool nightclub to become gin bar and restaurant:
The Liverpool nightclub Le Bateau is to be become a gin bar and restaurant. Cedar Food and Drink is due to open on Duke Street next month and will specialise in gin and food cooked in a charcoal oven. Cedar will be operated by Alex Dunmore, 25, and Josh Moore, 24,who met when they worked together at the London Carriage Works restaurant on Hope Street in Liverpool. Dunmore said: “We’ll be cooking from a charcoal oven so it will give the food a barbecue taste. We’ll be serving small plates and main courses such as beef brisket. We’re starting with 30 different gins in the bar.” Of the 30 gins, ten will be gins paired with specific tonics, something Dunmore said nobody else was doing. “Different tonics go better with different gins,” he said.
 
Caffe Nero adds two new yoghurts: Caffe Nero has added two award-winning Tims Dairy Greek Style yogurts to its existing range across the estate. The Bio-Live Greek Style yogurts are available in flavours of blackcurrant or honey in 175g pots. Chris Timotheou, managing director of Tims Dairy Greek Style Yogurts, said: “We’re delighted to be building on our existing relationship with Caffe Nero. The partnership has been a great success and we can’t for even more of our customers to visit their local store to experience Tims Dairy Yogurts in a Caffe Nero setting.”

Red Mist Leisure trials hop shoots and leaves in ‘salad for men’:
Hop shoots and leaves from the Hogs Back Brewery hop garden in Surrey have been used to create a salad that attempts to appeal to men as well as women, in a trial with Red Mist Leisure, the award winning, independently run pub group, whose pubs are close to the brewery. Red Mist Leisure’s group chef, Mark Collins, created a "real ale salad", combining hop leaves and shoots with watercress, Montgomery cheddar, pickled walnuts and pear quince, in a dressing based on Hogs Back’s flagship TEA ale. The salad went on sale over the weekend of 17 and 19 April at the Stag on the River in Eashing, near Guildford. The hops were picked from the Hogs Back Brewery hop garden, which was planted in 2014 on land opposite the brewery. The shoots used in the salad were from early-growing Cascade hops, though shoots are now coming through on Fuggles and Farnham White Bine, a near-extinct hop variety which Hogs Back has brought back to its Surrey home. Hop shoots were a traditional English delicacy in many hop-growing areas, and sometimes known as "poor man’s asparagus". The manager at the Stag on the River, Laurie Bullett, said: “Hops are such an unusual ingredient that every customer I spoke to wanted to try them, especially when I explained that they came from Hogs Back Brewery, which is so well known around here. We were surprised at how popular the salad was with men, as it’s not usually a dish they order. A combination of the warmer weather, and the association with TEA, which so many of them enjoy drinking, was probably behind their choice.”

Tom Aspey joins Farncombe Estate from Soho House Group: Farncombe Estate, near Broadway in the Cotswolds, has appointed Tom Aspey as general manager of its two hotels: the award-winning boutique hotel Dormy House and the newly opened Foxhill Manor, an eight-bedroom private house hotel. Andrew Grahame, chief executive of Farncombe, said: “We are delighted to have Tom on board. He has an incredible track record in the hospitality industry. As a highly accomplished manager and with a natural empathy for the Cotswolds, I know both Dormy House and Foxhill Manor will benefit enormously.” Aspey, who grew up in the area, has spent more than 16 years in hospitality He moves to Farncombe from the Soho House Group, which he joined in 2010 and where he worked at Café Boheme and Boheme Kitchen & Bar, where he stayed for two years, followed by Highroad House in Chiswick, his first hotel operation. In September 2013 he was promoted to general manager of Dean Street Town House hotel and oversaw its 39 guestrooms and busy all-day dining operations.

Peel Hotels reports return to profit: Peel Hotels has reported hotel revenues increasing by 6.1% to £16,454,000 in the year ended 1 February, up from £15,520,000 in 2013/4. Hotel gross profit before depreciation and group administration increased 25.9% to £3,196,000 from £2,538,000). Ebitda rose 24.9% to £2,473,000 from £1,980,000). Profit before tax excluding the fair value movement on derivative was £800,000, a turnaround from a loss in 2014 of £2,780. Revpar (accommodation revenue per available room) rose by 9.9%, with occupancy up 8.9% and the average room rate up 1%. Administration expenses climbed by 29.6%, partly because of the effect of business rates refunds received in the previous year. The increase is also partly due to the chairman being paid a salary in this financial year. Depreciation and amortisation fell 3%. Chairman Robert Peel said: “Sustained improvement in turnover has continued in the new financial year and we continue to pay down our debt. These two factors will enable us to look forward to another year of progress.”

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