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Fri 24th Apr 2015 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Starbucks reports like-for-likes up 7% around the world in Q2: Starbucks has reported like-for-like sales around the world rose by 7% in its Second Quarter (Q2), the 13-week period ended 29 March, with a 3% rise in traffic. America like-for-likes rose 7%, with a 2% increase in traffic, Europe and the Middle East like-for-likes climbed 2% on a 2% increase in traffic with like-for-like sales elsewhere in the world up 12% in like-for-like terms driven by a 10% rise in traffic. Consolidated net revenues increased 18% to $4.6 billion. Consolidated operating income was $777.5 million, up 21% over Quarter Two last year. The company opened 210 net new stores in Q2, including its 5,000th store in China/Asia Pacific, bringing total stores worldwide to 22,088. The company added a record 1.3 million new My Starbucks Rewards members in Quarter Two – bringing total active membership to 10.3 million – and realised a Q2 record $1.1 billion in Starbucks Card loads. “Starbucks record financial and operating performance in Q2 was driven by our people all around the world yet woven together by one common thread – industry leading partner (employee) facing and customer facing innovation,” said Howard Schultz, Starbucks chief executive. “Innovation is the force that will continue to drive our business and enable us to expand and increase revenues and profits – always through the lens of humanity – long into the future.” Scott Maw, Starbucks chief financial officer, added: “Starbucks Q2 represented another quarter of strong revenue growth and record operating and financial performance all around the world, and despite significant foreign exchange headwinds.”

Industry News:

Giggling Squid founder Andy Laurillard to present at Propel summer conference: Giggling Squid founder Andy Laurillard is to present at the Propel conference at the Oxford Belfry on Thursday 2 July, which is followed by Propel’s summer party. Laurillard, who was previously head of brand strategy and innovation at TUI, will talk about his company’s steps towards becoming the first national Thai restaurant brand in the UK. Operators can book up two free places by e-mailing jo.charity@propelinfo.com
 
Research shows staycation popularity on the increase: Research by Vouchercodes.co.uk has revealed that British holidaymakers are likely to spend more than £56bn on holidays in the UK. The study shows Britons will spend an average of £1,352 on a UK holiday, including £250 on food and drink, £206 on accommodation, and £101 on visiting attractions. The research shows the UK is due to enjoy a tourism boost this year, as 83% of families opt for a holiday at home, a rise of 17% on 2014. The lure of British shores, country pubs and cosmopolitan cities means the UK is now the number one holiday destination for Britons, beating the nearest contender, Europe, by 16%. The top ten British holiday destinations are: 1: Cornwall; 2: London; 3: Lake District; 4: Yorkshire Dales; 5: Bournemouth; 6: Isle of Wight; 7: Edinburgh; 8: New Forest; 9: Brighton, 10: Cardiff.
 
£3.5bn East London 'meat-packer district' plan gets go-ahead:
A £3.5bn project to redevelop a derelict area of the East London Docklands, including an Art Deco abandoned flour mill has been given the go-ahead. The first phase of the Silvertown project, due to be completed by 2018, will see the abandoned Millennium Mills building turned into a hub for tech and media start-ups. Newham Council granted outline planning permission to the Royal Docks scheme, which, it is claimed, could create 20,000 jobs. Barry Jessup, a director of the London housing developer First Base, compared it with the fashionable Meatpacking District in New York, which became one of the city's most desirable areas after a massive industrial decline in the 1990s. As well as the mill building, the 62-acre site will include 3,000 homes, shops, leisure facilities and a school.

London Evening Standard puts Pret free item strategy to the test – and gets free items nine times out of 12: The London Evening Standard has tested Pret A Manger's "informal rewards" strategy, where staff are empowered to give free products to customers they like, and received free items in nine out of 12 store visits. Pret A Manger's chief executive, Clive Schlee, told the Standard this week that he tells staff to give free coffee and food to customers who “make an impression”. The Standard put Schlee’s claim to the test, sending two of its reporters to a dozen stores in central and west London to see how many baristas would take a shine to them. Josh Pettitt and Lizzie Edmonds visited six stores each and managed to get nine free items out of 12, "proving a smile, politeness and sometimes being utterly brazen can go a long way", the newspaper said. One Pret barista said: “It’s normally our regular customers who I give free coffee to. But it can also just be when I’m in a good mood or someone comes in looking wet and miserable. Also if someone is nice looking they might get a free drink – that happens more than you might think!”

Campaign launched to list all 12 pubs in Hampstead as Assets of Community Value: A campaign to give every pub in Hampstead, North London special blanket protection from closure has been launched by residents and regulars. They are concerned at the number of local historic pubs that have been lost to the community after being turned into homes, shops or offices by developers. The Hampstead Neighbourhood Forum now hopes to become the first area in London and the second in the UK to apply for mass listing of all its 12 remaining pubs in the area as Assets of Community Values (ACVs). This will give each of them special protection under government legislation announced in January, and take away permitted development rights. When an ACV-listed pub goes up for sale there must first be a six-month moratorium, giving community groups time to come up with financing and make their own bid to buy it.

Chipotle begins delivery service in 67 US cities: Chipotle Mexican Grill has begun offering delivery for online and mobile orders in 67 cities in the United States using the Postmates app. Postmates, an app-based delivery service which follows an Uber-style model of independent contractors who use their own vehicles, is Chipotle’s official delivery partner. The service will be available in markets where Postmates operates. Chipotle will launch an app for Apple Watch that will allow guests to order ahead. The chain is also exploring new systems for mobile payment, including the use of Apple Pay in restaurants and through the iOS app, and potentially Google Wallet within the Android app. Jack Hartung, Chipotle’s chief financial officer, said online ordering, including catering and Burritos by the Box for larger groups, accounted for about 6.6% of sales during the first quarter, which was at or near an all-time peak.

Company News:

Arrival of Cote, Carluccio’s and Yumacha boosts Nottingham suburb’s property prices by 20%: The arrival of three major restaurant brands, Cote, Carluccio’s and Yumacha, has helped boost property prices in the Nottingham suburb of West Bridgford by up to 20% in the past 18 months, according to Ian Marriott, associate director at FHP Living. Marriott said he has been working in the West Bridgford market for nearly 20 years and believed this was the most buoyant the market had ever been in what was already a popular suburb. He said: “This is a really sharp increase, and has been driven by the establishment of West Bridgford as the aspirational place to live in Nottinghamshire. Everyone from young professionals to families is looking to locate there, and that is really being reflected in the house prices we are seeing. West Bridgford is a vibrant place to live and has everything you could want on your doorstep. There is now a fantastic range of restaurants, bars and cafes in the central area, which make it a hugely attractive place to locate. The arrival of the likes of Cote, Carluccio’s and Yumacha has helped to stimulate property prices which, twinned with the lack of stock to cope with ever-increasing demand, makes this an attractive time to consider selling your property.”

Wetherspoon looks likely to get planning backing for Edinburgh Picture House plan:
 JD Wetherspoon looks set to get the green light to turn one of Edinburgh’s most historic live music venues, the Picture House, into a super pub. Council planning officers have recommended approving an application from Wetherspoon to turn the former Picture House in Lothian Road into a pub. Wetherspoon bought the venue in December 2013 from Mama and Company amid protests that one of the few live music venues in the Scottish capital would be lost. More than 13,000 people signed a petition, while a parliamentary motion opposing the change won cross-party support.

London Cabaret Club pays £1.1m premium for lease of Bloomsbury Ballroom: 
The London Cabaret Club has paid a £1.1m premium for the lease of the art deco Bloomsbury Ballroom, in Bloomsbury Square, Central London. The club, which features stars from West End productions, specialises in lavish live shows. It has previously used a number of venues, including The Collection in South Kensington,  but the Bloomsbury Ballroom will now become its permanent home. The club will also pay an annual £375,000 rent. Morris Greenberg, of the leisure property specialist CDG Leisure, which handled the sale, said: “The Bloomsbury Ballroom is a stunning and opulent venue and deserves its premium value. It is a memorable destination and fits the London Cocktail Club’s brand perfectly. It’s got style, glamour and presence and will be a magnetic element of the capital’s nightlife for years to come.” The Ballroom has space for 300 for seated dinner and 880 standing. It has been used for glamorous weddings as well as ceremonies such as the FHM Awards. The venue is in the neo-classical Victoria House, which fills the eastern side of Bloomsbury Square. It was built in the 1920s for the Liverpool Victoria insurance company. Its basement was used as an air raid shelter in WW2 and it suffered direct hits from bombing raids. The current owner is the hospitality and property entrepreneur Terry Pullen, the founder of City Bars and Restaurants, who has run the venue since 2012.

Whitbread – no financial data at risk in Costa Coffee Club security breach: Whitbread has issued a statement stressing that no customer financial data is at risk as a result of the suspected hacking of its Costa Coffee Club Card membership data. Jim Slater, managing director of Costa Coffee, UK and Ireland, said: “Through security checks we identified a small number of Coffee Club Card members, around 0.02%, who had some unusual activity on their account. As a result we have conducted a full security review and in the interim, removed the ability for Coffee Club members to access their account online. We have already contacted those customers affected and emailed all registered Coffee Club members to make them aware of the situation. Customers can still continue to collect and redeem points as usual. It’s important to note we do not hold any financial data on the Costa loyalty card system and we want to take this opportunity to apologise for any inconvenience and concern this may cause but it’s very important to us that customers’ points and registration details remain safe.”
 
BrewDog – we want to extend our £25m share offer to the US as soon as possible: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog wants to extend its current £25m share offer to the United States. The offer is currently available to citizens across Europe, but not in the US. A spokesman said: “Our prospectus is passported into all EU countries, however it currently is not regulated in the United States. This is a top priority for us though, and we are looking to open Equity for Punks in the US as soon as possible. In the meantime, US residents should only invest if they are satisfied themselves that they are eligible.”

Pizza Hut to tweak marketing to balance appeal to millennials and mainstream: Pizza Hut's parent company, Yum! Brands, is to tweak the brand's marketing strategy in the United States to strike a balance between appealing to millennials and mainstream consumers after it reported flat sales in the first quarter. Greg Creed, chief executive of Yum! Brands, admitted to investors that marketing for Pizza Hut had not been effective enough, and the brand has struggled to balance its efforts to target different age groups. He said: "Our results have admittedly been soft, and worse yet we’re being outperformed by the competition. We recently launched a new pizza platform in the US, where over half the division’s profits are generated. This new platform gives our customers unparalleled variety with exciting new toppings, crusts and flavours. Unfortunately we haven’t been as effective as we’ve liked with our marketing and need to balance its appeal to millennials with mainstream pizza customers. We intend to do this going forward while working with our franchisees to bring more competitive value to the market." Yum! had net income of $362m for the first quarter ended March 21, down 9% from $399m for the same period last year. Total revenues fell 4% to $2.62bn from $2.72bn in 2014. Worldwide sales grew 4%, with the opening of 294 new international restaurants, but worldwide operating profit fell 8%.

Black Cap owner insists pub will re-open: The new owner of the iconic gay pub the Black Cap in Camden, North London has insisted that the pub will re-open after its closure earlier this month, but with a different market position. Faucet Inn, which ran the venue for the past five years, announced last week it was “no longer able to operate” the pub after the arrival of new owners. Paul McGill, owner of Camden Securities, which agreed terms on the pub in December, told the Ham & High newspaper: “The decision to close the pub was made long ago and not by us. We weren’t given the option to continue running the venue as it was, so we had to find a new tenant. We’ve not gone with the highest bidder but with someone we feel will be sensitive to the area. It’s a site of historical value, we understand that. We feel we are saving it as a venue, not destroying it.” McGill said details of what the Black Cap would be turned into would be given “shortly”, adding: “It will be a “restaurant/café/bar-type establishment”.

Amber Taverns opens third Hogarths: Amber Taverns, the operator of community pubs led by James Baer and Bryan Wardman, has opened its third Hogarths gin palace. The new site is in Ilkeston, Derbyshire and is a conversion of the former Charter pub on South Street. Ian Eyre, landlord at the pub, said: “The concept is that it’s a gin palace. We currently have 92 gins and are hoping to get to 130. On the opening night they were selling like hot cakes. It’s basically gin and tonic but brings different flavours, with added blackcurrants for example. We also have five different tonics to make it more tasty. We even have chilli gin, people are loving it so far.” Hogarths also has a selection of ten real ales, with a cellar brewery that people can see into.
 
Living Ventures wins go-ahead for Botanist in Marlow: Living Ventures has won planning consent for a Botanist opening in Marlow, Buckinghamshire. The new site will open in place of the former Living in Store shop  on West Street. Permission includes approval to construct a glass link corridor to merge the back of the West Street premises with the rear of a building on Oxford Road, next door to Sun Ya restaurant, to form a whole block for the new venue. The new venue will join a busy scene on West Street, which includes Bill’s which opened last week, as well as Tom Kerridge’s The Coach, Cote Brasserie and Giggling Squid which have opened on the same stretch in the past year. Living Ventures runs Botanist bars in Chester, Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle and Leeds. The company said it had no further information to give and could not confirm an opening date.
 
Antic London lines up site in North Croydon: Antic London, the 35-outlet London operator led by Antony Thomas and backed by Downing, is planning to open a site in the north of Croydon. Antic has bought up former stables at the Mews in Norbury with a view to turning them into its next pub. The company has now applied for planning permission to open a pub on the site, just behind Barclays bank on London Road. The building is currently home to a car repair business operating on a short-term lease. In a statement submitted to the council alongside the plans, Antic says the new pub would create around 20 jobs and it would include a courtyard to be used for "pop-up type" community events, such as farmers' markets, outdoor cinema and fetes. A public consultation on the plans is open until April 30 and comments can be lodged on the application via Croydon Council's planning portal at www.croydon.gov.uk
 
Luminar denies it wants to close Kingston site: Nightclub operator Luminar has denied a local authority claims that it wants to close its Hippodrome site in Kingston upon Thames. The nightclub is due to be bulldozed in the next five years to make way for the new Eden Quarter redevelopment project. Council leader Kevin Davis told the Surrey Comet last week: "I’m not sure [Hippodrome] want to stay open. I don’t know if they are making that much money. It’s not the council shutting them. Their lease is up and I think they want to close." But Peter Marks, chief executive of the Luminar Group, which owns both the Hippodrome and Pryzm in Clarence Street, has denied the claims. He said: "We have no desire to close the Hippodrome, which has been part of Kingston nightlife for many years and, we hope, for many more to come. It offers a different clubbing experience to other venues in the town and is looked upon fondly by its loyal management, staff and customers."

Starbucks signs deal to expand in Finland: Starbucks Coffee Company and Kesko Food have entered into a licensing agreement to open Starbucks stores within K-stores throughout Finland. The first store will open in K-citymarket Sello in Espoo, the second-largest city in Finland, later this year, with further locations planned for key business areas, including outside greater Helsinki. Arjan Oudejans, vice-president of branded solutions at Starbucks EMEA said: "People in Finland drink more coffee on average than almost any other country globally, so this is a great opportunity for us to bring our premium coffee to Finnish coffee fans. We're delighted to partner with Kesko to expand our presence in Finland. High-quality products and service, and a focus on customer connection and ethical business practices, are shared values for both companies. Furthermore Starbucks wants to be where our customers are. This makes Kesko a great partner in the Finnish grocery channel."
 
Sector investor Luke Johnson joins board of Arden Partners: Arden Partners has received regulatory approval for the appointment of the sector investor Luke Johnson to the board as a non-executive director. Johnson has been appointed to the board with immediate effect. Arden Partners is an institutional stockbroking company, incorporating corporate finance, equity research, equity sales and market making activities, which provides broking services to, and advises on, a range of corporate finance transactions for small and medium-sized companies.
 
Harvey Nicholls to open new restaurant blueprint in Birmingham in July: Harvey Nichols is to open a new 40-seat restaurant at its Birmingham site in July, curated by the Michelin-starred chef Glyn Purnell, who operates Purnell’s restaurant and Purnell’s Bistro in the city. It will be a blueprint for all future Harvey Nichols stores. The 40-seat restaurant will include a private dining room for 15, an open kitchen and a kitchen table for up to eight where diners can interact directly with the chef. There will also be a circular cocktail bar high up on the mezzanine floor. A total of 16 dishes, priced from £6 to £18, are being designed as tapas-style small plates to be shared. A food market will stock the products used in the restaurant so that diners can recreate their meal at home, and a wine shop will include dispensing machines so customers can try before they buy. Sharing boards of charcuterie, fish and vegetables are being designed for the wine tasters and Purnell is working on a Harvey Nics burger, telling people its secret is in its melted cheese, and  a Cesar salad. Harvey Nicholls' group food and hospitality director, Marion Carpentier, said: “The cocktails will be really stylish and really different to what’s currently in Birmingham. Some are very classic but there will be a quirkiness to some of our other cocktails, particularly in the way they’re served. We’re thinking outside the box.”

Former Corney & Barrow manager to re-open Star Pubs and Bars site after £440,000 investment: A former Corney & Barrow manager, Eimear Walsh, and her husband Mark, who previously ran the Ship Tavern in Holborn, Central London, are to re-open the Willow on Winchmore Hill in Enfield, North London after a three-year closure. Star Pubs is investing £330,000, with the new licensees investing £109,000. Building work started this week and the pub will re-open in early June. Funds are being spent on a complete overhaul of the interior and exterior of the pub creating what Star Pubs said will be a light modern pub with comfortable seating and an open theatre-style kitchen with a stone pizza oven. The Winchmore will sell pizzas to take away. The pub will host mother and toddler coffee mornings and offer pizza-making classes for children and families. Walsh said: “We are sourcing food locally and shall have fruit and vegetables from Forty Hall Farm and cheese from Wildes, Tottenham's artisan cheesemaker. Coming from our backgrounds, we’re both passionate about offering quality and excellent service and believe this is what the people of Winchmore Hill expect.”

Lanchester Group to open first retail site: Lanchester Group, the North East of England wine-bottling and drinks company, is opening its first retail outlet this weekend. The Pip Stop is housed in a former Morgan sports car dealership, near Lanchester, County Durham. The 2,000 sq ft premises at Maiden Law was formerly the Macdonald Racing Morgan car workshop and Ben Cleary, the son of Lanchester Group owners Tony and Veronica Cleary, is maintaining a vintage car theme in the new venture’s name and décor. Ben is using his experience working for Majestic Wine to source a variety of interesting world wines for the Pip Stop, which will also sell some of Lanchester Wine’s own bottled wines, as well as a range of local and world beers and ciders. He said: “We’ve been working very hard to bring new life to what was something of a local landmark for motor fans before the Morgan dealership relocated to Beamish.

Hammerson sells Drakehouse Retail Park: Hammerson has completed the sale of Drakehouse Retail Park in Sheffield, which houses Pizza Hut, McDonald’s and KFC, to 90 North Real Estate Partners for £61.7, which is more than the 31 December 2014 book value. The sale price represents a net initial yield of 6.4%. At 21,000 square metres, Drakehouse is Sheffield's largest retail park, seven miles south-east of Sheffield city centre. David Atkins, chief executive of Hammerson, said: "The disposal of Drakehouse enables us to reallocate capital across our retail portfolio, including to our significant London retail development projects at Croydon and Brent Cross. By recycling the proceeds we are ensuring that we continue to focus our resources on the assets and developments which we believe will provide the best opportunities to deliver greater shareholder value in the future." Hammerson was advised by Savills and 90 North Real Estate Partners was advised by Staunton Whiteman.
 
Gleneagles sale moves a step closer: Gleneagles Hotel could soon have a new owner after two firm bids were made for the five-star Perthshire resort, the Scottish Herald has reported. One of the suitors is understood to be KSL Capital Partners, a US-based private equity firm which already owns The Belfry, while the identity of the second bidder was unknown last night. Gleneagles was quietly placed on the market by Diageo in the aftermath of last September's Ryder Cup match. It was rumoured to have a £200m price tag attached to it.
 
Cheesecake Factory posts 4.2% increase in like-for-like sales: The US-based Cheesecake Factory, whose sales average $10m per site, has reported a 4.2% increase in like-for-like sales during the first quarter to 31 March. David Overton, the operator's chairman and chief executive, said: "We delivered a remarkable comparable-sales increase at The Cheesecake Factory in the first quarter, beginning our sixth consecutive year of achieving positive quarterly comparable sales. Importantly, we experienced a solid increase in guest traffic during the quarter on the strength of our brand and highly differentiated guest experience." The company plans to open as many as 11 restaurants in the United States in 2015, with the first scheduled to open in the second quarter. The Cheesecake Factory finished the quarter with 189 full-service restaurants, including 177 Cheesecake Factory locations, 11 Grand Lux Cafe outlets and one RockSugar Pan Asian Kitchen outlet. Internationally, nine Cheesecake Factory restaurants operate under licensing agreements.
 
Cobham services fully re-open after large KFC fire: Cobham Services in the M25 in Surrey has fully reopened to commuters and shoppers five days after a huge fire gutted its KFC site last week. More than 40 firefighters were called to a blaze at the service station's KFC outlet on Friday, which was brought under control about two hours later with no reported injuries. The site's petrol station, HGV parking area and forecourt were opened shortly after, while the remaining retail units were forced to wait four days as safety checks were carried out. A spokesman for Extra Motorway Service Area Group, which owns the services, said the KFC outlet had suffered extensive damage as a result of the fire and would not open for several months. He said that investigations into the cause were currently focused around the building's electrical intake. Eleven fire crews were involved in controlling the fire.
 
Lapdance business wins go-ahead to expand into Southend: Entrepreneur Alastair Weatherstone has won consent to expand his lapdance business into Southend in Essex. Southend councillors have voted to allow Entice to open in Warrior House, in Southchurch Road. Weatherstone, who already runs Katz in Time Square, Basildon, and Diamonds and Strings in Watford, is promising it will be Southend’s first upmarket, London-style club. He told the council’s licensing committee the club would target a small, exclusive clientele of high spenders, rather than trying to draw in hundreds of clients. For this reason, Weatherstone argued, the club would not cause problems for people with homes nearby. He said: “It’s like going to London for a show. People don’t see it as seedy any more. It’s not just men coming in on their own. We’ll be offering a more upmarket venue than the others in Southend.”

McDonald’s pledges to end deforestation in its supply chain, confirms 700 closures in total: McDonald's has pledged to end deforestation across its entire supply chain. The company has released an eight-point commitment to the environment in which it pledges not to buy food and supplies, such as meat, packaging, coffee and palm oil, that contribute to deforestation. The company also promised to “respect human rights” and “respect the right of all affected communities to give or withhold their free, prior and informed consent for plantation developments on land they own legally, communally or by custom”. Francesca DeBiase, senior vice-president of McDonald's worldwide supply chain and sustainability, said: "This commitment to end deforestation demonstrates another major step for McDonald's as we work to increasingly embed sustainability throughout our global business. Making this pledge is the right thing to do for our company, the planet and the communities in which our supply chain operates. We're excited to continue collaborating with our supplier partners to achieve our goals." Meanwhile, McDonald’s has provided more detail on its stores closures. The restaurant company has revealed it closed 350 stores in early 2015, on top of the 350 it had already said it would close, to make a total of 700 planned closures this year. McDonald’s closed 350 poorly performing stores in Japan, the United States, and China in the first three months of 2015 as part of its plan to boost its sagging profits. Those previously unannounced closings, are on top of the 350 closures that the company, the world’s largest restaurant chain, had already targeted for the year. McDonald’s chief finance officer, Kevin Ozan, told analysts that the closed stores in China, where comparable sales fell 4.8% in the first quarter, had been underperforming for years. In Japan, where McDonald’s is still reeling from a food safety scare last summer, the stores closed stores were “heavy loss-maker restaurants”.

Pop-up restaurant success for seafront bar:
A bar in Seaham, County Durham is hailing the success of its pop-up restaurant scheme, which sees guest chefs create dishes for diners. The pop-ups at the Bank, in North Terrace, are run by Toby Marshall and Lee Hardy, who have previously worked at the Ozone restaurant at Seaham Hall and the Lotus Lounge in Durham. Selinda Kahlon, who runs the seafront bar, told the Sunderland Echo: “We had one pop-up which sold out within hours. They are great chefs and the idea was to offer street food, which is what people are into at the minute. This is bringing in people to the seafront and in to Seaham to try food they might not get unless they travelled to Newcastle.” The "kitchen" is set up in a gazebo out the back of the bar. Hardy told the Echo: “It was a little bit daunting at first, but we had 50 people in for three courses and they all said they really enjoyed themselves. We’ve had some good feedback, it’s something different and we hope it’s really successful.” The next night will be held on Thursday, 7 May.

Fleurets boosts leisure team: The property agent Fleurets has boosted its team with the appointment of two new associates, Philip Smith and Simon Bland. Smith, who has more than 13 years in commercial property throughout the UK, joins from CBRE where he spent the past three years advising landlords and occupiers in connection with professional matters involving High Street premises. He said: “Having started my career in licensed and leisure, I am very excited to be joining Fleurets and re-establishing myself in this exciting sector. I am looking forward to forming part of this market-leading team at a time when the business, and the leisure market, is going from strength to strength.” Smith will be focusing on rent reviews, lease renewals and professional matters involving pubs, bars, restaurants and leisure property throughout London and the south east. Bland, an experienced licensed and leisure property agent, joins the London pub team to concentrate on the south east London, south Essex and Kent pub markets. He said: “I am delighted to be joining Fleurets at such a very exciting time as part of a major expansion of our business. I couldn’t be happier, as I know these areas well, having lived and worked here for years. There is so much going on and I look forward to helping and advising our clients old and new while building on our present success and reputation for excellence. I am especially keen to assist private clients and smaller operators while continuing to develop our excellent corporate relationships and deliver a ‘best in class’ service to all.”

Thwaites hires food support manager: Northern brewer Daniel Thwaites has appointed a food support manager to its estate support management team. Nicola Underwood joins Blackburn-based Thwaites as a food support manager after spells with Mitchells & Butlers and Debenhams food division, including three years as the brand development manager. Prior to both of these roles, Underwood was a chef, having studied culinary arts at the Birmingham College of Food, where she undertook a year’s placement with Paul Heathcote. In her new role at Thwaites, she will be responsible for developing the food offering across the estate, helping tenants to expand their culinary range and advising on areas such as beer and food matching. Andrew Buchanan, director of pub operations, added: “Thwaites has always strived to offer unparalleled support to its tenants and to work with them to make changes that will have a positive impact on their business. A key element of this and a significant focus for the year ahead will be refining the food offering across our pub estate in line with the outstanding quality of wet products available.”

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