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Tue 28th Apr 2015 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Downing looks to raise up to £40m for its EIS Pub Fund and actively seeks operating partners: Downing, a long-term investor in the sector, is looking to take advantage of investors’ appetite for EIS products and raise a further £20m to £40m for its Downing EIS Pub Fund. This will be in addition to £30m already raised in the previous two tranches – all of which has been fully invested. The Downing Pub EIS Fund has a dual strategy of refinancing exiting sites as well as looking to provide growth/acquisition capital. The fund does not rely on bank debt, has the ability to invest immediately and is actively seeking new operating partners. Steven Kenee, who heads the licensed team at Downing, said: “What makes Downing stand apart from the funders that are returning to this market, is that we never left it. We have been actively supporting licenced businesses throughout the hard times. We also pride ourselves on not only understanding the sector but by being passionate about it. Pubs have historically played a central role in shaping our national identity and we take great personal pleasure from helping to support those operators who are working hard to ensure it adapts and remains relevant for future generations to come. Our business model is based on building long term partnerships with good quality management teams. After all, whilst the funds we raise give us the firepower to invest, it is the quality of our operating partners that drives our success. We are lucky to already be working with a number of excellent partners but are actively seeking more. Beyond honesty, experience and integrity, there isn’t a specific type of operator we are looking to back, or a specific type of investment we want to make. I would therefore ask anyone who has the ability and ambition to grow their business to get in touch.” Downing investment recipients include Antic London, Pub People Company and Oakman Inns and Restaurants.

Industry News:

Pizza Rossa founder Corrado Accardi to present at Propel summer conference: Pizza Rossa founder Corrado Accardi is to present at the Propel conference at the Oxford Belfry on Thursday 2 July, which is followed by Propel’s summer party. Accardi will talk about transforming the pizza offer, creating an award-winning business plan, going through two rounds of successful crowdfunding and planning to expand the company. Operators can book up to two free places by e-mailing jo.charity@propelinfo.com

CBRE – chain restaurant numbers increase by 258% in seven years: A major study of the UK retail sector by CBRE has found that chain restaurant and food outlet numbers are now 258% higher than in 1998 thanks to an 8% annual average growth rate. The growth has taken total numbers from 4,869 in 1998 to 17,450 branches now. Seb Howard, of CBRE, said the study highlighted the resilience of the restaurant trade during a period when the recession and growth of online retailing had hit other parts of the UK high street hard. He said: “There has been extraordinary diversification in the restaurant sector driven by the demand for new types of cuisine and the changing eating patterns fuelled by the rise of street food vendors. These trends have injected vibrancy into the market and seen restaurateurs capitalise on the increased availability of premises and floor-space left by other shop operators closing their doors. This is why the sector is so important to the health of the UK high street, encouraging consumers back and increasing the time they spend close to other local retailers.” The growth of restaurants specialising in relatively new types of food to the UK market has been particularly strong in recent years. The number of burrito bars has grown at the fastest rate of any food type over the last few years with a 71% rise in branch numbers over the last twelve months and an average annual growth rate of 57% since 2009. Outlets specialising in mixed world cuisine, such as Giraffe, have seen growth of 41% over the last year and 40% annual average over the last five years. Traditional restaurant offerings have seen far slower growth. Italian chain restaurants have shown average growth in numbers over the last five years of just 5%. In separate figures from the National Caterers Association, the number of registered street food vendors operating in the UK has increased from ten to some 1,000 in the past five years.

BrewDog admits a few errors in £25m fundraising: Brewer and retailer BrewDog has told potential investors in its latest £25m crowdfunding push that some of the documentation contained errors. The company said its lawyers have requested a “few legal updates” to documents it sent out last week about the offer. “Our press releases described the Equity for Punks share offer as an ‘UKLA accredited investment scheme’ or a ‘UKLA approved investment’. This is not correct,” investors are told in the email signed by BrewDog co-founder James Watt. The UKLA is the UK Listing Authority, part of the Financial Conduct Authority. The email said: “You should note that the UKLA can’t comment on the merits of investing with us and don’t endorse any share offers, they have only approved our investment prospectus.” Investors are also told to “ignore the point we made in our email about the past increase in value” from previous investment projects. This is because it “isn’t something we specifically talked about in our prospectus and have not sought to verify for those purposes which means that we can’t mention it in communications regarding this offer”. Asked about the clarification by The Guardian, Watt said the company wanted to be as open with investors as possible and wanted to be completely compliant with regulations.

Starbucks to launch cold brew coffee in UK this Thursday: Starbucks is to launch cold brew coffee at the London Coffee Festival and three central London stores on Thursday, 30 April, before a wider roll out across 30 London stores. The product, which was launched in the United States on 31 March at more than 2,800 locations, is made by steeping coffee grounds in cool water. Starbucks’ Cold Brew will be produced in small batches in store, using the Guatemala Antigua variety of coffee bean, and served over ice with optional extras, such as flavoured syrup, milk or a foam milk topping. Mark Fox, chief executive of Starbucks UK, said: “Inspired by the US West Coast, we’re proud to bring Starbucks Cold Brew to the UK. We love bringing new experiences to Starbucks customers and trialling new initiatives that get our fans excited." The launch will make the company the first high street coffee chain to offer cold brew coffee in the UK, part of its ongoing innovation drive which it says helped it achieve record revenue growth of 18% to $4.6bn in the second quarter of its financial year.

ALMR launches late-night manifesto: The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) has launched its 2015 Late Night Manifesto promoting the UK’s late night entertainment scene and outlining the Association’s campaigning work. ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The UK’s late night economy is one of the most exciting, innovative and valuable in the world. The sector is a hotbed of creativity, nurturing some of the country’s best young entrepreneurial and musical talent, re-energising town centres and contributing enormously to local economies. Around £66 billion in revenue is generated every year by the late night economy, employing 1.3 million people and accounting for 10% of GDP. (There are) over 300 million “nights out” (enjoyed by customers) and nearly £18 billion spent (each year). We should rightly be very proud of this enormous success and there is an opportunity to improve on this and ensure that the sector cements its reputation as one of the best in the world, while delivering continued growth and additional jobs. The ALMR is therefore launching its Late Night Manifesto and calling on both national and local authorities to work with both the ALMR and the wider late night sector to foster further improvement and encourage positive perceptions of the industry.” The ALMR’s Late Night Manifesto outlines specific policy initiatives to foster partnership, reduce over regulation and sustain investment in diversity and vibrancy and calls for: a new definition of alcohol-related crime; amendment of national guidance to require local authorities to work through partnership and voluntary schemes before introducing punitive measures such as EMROs and late night levies; reform permitted development rights to promote investment and ensure nightclubs can operate with a degree of security.

British Street Food event returns 'bigger and better': The British Street Food awards, which see street food operators competing in heats around the country, will return this year with backing from Universal Music and Sharp’s Brewery. The British Street Food Festival will be setting up shop in what the organisers described as "some of the country’s most perfect ‘found’ places", starting with a Norman castle in Oxford from 1 to 4 May. The public will be able to buy sharing plates from some of the UK’s best street food traders and then vote for their favourites on the British Street Food app. The winners of the voting, plus a few wild cards, will then go through to compete at the finals in London in September. Entry tickets will entitle the public to a free pint of Doom Bar or Cornish Pilsner from Sharp’s Brewery. New artists from Universal Music’s family of labels will be performing alongside local talent, with help from Spinnup, the music distribution service for unsigned artists. British Street Food founder Richard Johnson said: “Everything about this year is a big step up. The music will fold around everything that we’re trying to do.” British Street Food is franchising street food brands for Euston Station in London, which is opening this spring – as well as running the world’s first "street food mall at Trinity Kitchen in Leeds and driving a street food roadshow across Scotland and the North of England with British Land.
 
Brian Whiting – any new government should review VAT levels in the sector:
Brian Whiting, the founder of the gastro-pub business Whiting & Hammond, has called on the next government to reconsider VAT rates in the hospitality sector. He said: “I would say to any government coming in, please don’t strangle the 'golden goose'. The hospitality business is one of the biggest tax-paying industries in existence. These golden eggs that it lays will run out if we keep squeezing it. VAT at 20% is killing growth and business rates decided upon turnover is unfair. It begs the question: why is the UK one of the three countries in the whole of Europe that hasn’t had help with VAT? Why penalise good operators? [Even after we got] 1p off a pint, we’re still one of the largest duty paying countries in Europe. Not many industries employ the amount of people the hospitality industry does per £1 spent in the economy. Supermarkets [pay] no VAT on ready meals or processed food. All we ask for is a level playing field so that we can compete, pay our crew more and employ more people. I don’t feel this is unreasonable.”
 
Seafood deli and cafe named as UK’s Fishmonger of the Year: A seafood deli and cafe business in Tyneside has been named National Fishmonger of the Year 2015. Robert and Ailsa Latimer were presented with the award at Birmingham NEC by Nigel Barden, food journalist and chairman of this year’s judges at the Farm Shop & Deli Show 2015. Robert set up Latimer’s Seafood Deli and Cafe 12 years ago on a former petrol station site in Whitburn, South Tyneside. The business now employs 30 staff, having recently extended its indoor cafe to provide an outdoor deck vista overlooking the coastline. Previous accolades for Latimers include BBC Radio 4 Food & Farming Award for Best Local Retailer and Best Independent Seafood Retailer.
 
ALMR joins Hotrec: The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) has joined Hotrec, the trade association of hotels, restaurants and cafes in Europe, raising Hotrec's membership to 42 national hospitality associations active in 28 European countries. Susanne Kraus-Winkler, president of Hotrec, said: “This new membership from a prominent and fast-growing British organisation clearly demonstrates Hotrec’s success in representing and defending the hospitality industry’s interests across Europe. ALMR’s voice will further increase Hotrec’s effectiveness in all its activities.” The ALMR's chief executive, Kate Nicholls, said: “We are very pleased to have been selected as the UK representative to Hotrec and we are looking forward to working with our partners across Europe to promote the work of licensed hospitality in the UK. As members of Hotrec, the ALMR is now best placed to gather and share the information that directly impacts our members, across a continent-wide platform and lobby on an even larger scale."

Beer Academy reports booming interest: The Beer Academy, the leading global beer education body, is seeing a 20% year-on-year uplift in bookings for its range of beer appreciation courses, fuelled by a huge growth of interest in all aspects of beer and beer styles. At the same time, the academy has reviewed and reworked its programmes in order to offer a more structured training ladder, taking delegates from its foundation course, through the advanced and How to Judge Beer programmes, to the respected Beer Sommelier qualification. Alex Barlow, who joined Beer Academy last year as director of training, said: “The strength of the Beer Academy’s offer has always been its sound grounding in brewing and beer retailing knowledge, which continues to underpin all our courses. After training 10,000 delegates over the past decade or so, there was a need to refresh those courses to incorporate developments in the beer industry, and to make sure they worked together as an integrated beer education package that meets the needs of our growing customer base.” Some of the changes resulting from the programme review include lengthening the How to Judge Beer course from a half to a full day; adding more beer styles to the Advanced course and including a section about the beer market and trends, including craft beer, into the Foundation programme. Simon Jackson, executive director of the Institute of Brewing & Distilling, which operates the Beer Academy, said, “It’s good to see this increase in uptake for our courses. The explosion of interest in beer is undoubtedly a leading factor, as growing numbers of operators realise the importance of stocking a full range of beers, and actively promoting them to customers.”

More than 70 operators bid to secure 12 Stansted food and beverage sites: Phase Two of Stansted Airport’s £80m investment to transform the terminal building and improve services and facilities for passengers, including 12 food and beverage sites, was officially opened yesterday by Charlie Cornish, chief executive of Manchester Airports Group (MAG). The company reported “significant interest” in food and beverage locations with more than 70 tenders received for the 12 positions available. Beth Brewster, MAG's retail director, said: “Over 70 tenders were received for the 12 cafe, bar and restaurant units available as part of phase two of this multi-million pound development. Narrowing down the strong competition to deliver a menu that provided a wide variety of choice based on taste, appetite and budget for our passengers is one of the best headaches I’ve ever dealt with, and a scenario that clearly demonstrates the exciting step change taking place at Stansted, with so many leading brands wanting to secure their involvement.”
 

Company News:

Douglas Jack issues ‘Buy’ note on Revolution Bars Group: Numis Securities leisure analyst Douglas Jack has issued a ‘Buy’ note on Revolution Bars Group (RBG) with price target of 265p. He said: “He is arguably the UK’s leading premium bar operator, with brands that are more differentiated and oriented to growing premium products than its peers. With a track record for generating sector top-quartile like-for-like sales growth and cash returns, the company now targets stepping up expansion. Given this and a valuation that is at a material discount to the peer group, we initiate our coverage with a Buy recommendation and a 265p target price. From a position of no net debt, no pension deficit and low average rental costs (at 8.2% of turnover), we estimate that the company could add three large and three standard units per annum (vs 59 at present) out of internally-generated cash flow. We forecast the company to add five units per annum from 2017E, implying 16 years of expansion to 140 target outlets. We believe initial expansion should be weighted to Revolución de Cuba, which is currently generating an average cash return of 54%.Our 2015E forecasts cautiously assume like-for-like sales slowing from 3.7% in H1 to 2.5% over the full year. We forecast 46% self-financed PBT growth over the three years to June 2017, based on cautious assumptions of slowing like-for-like sales, gross margins no longer growing, and expansion including just one large opening per annum. Revolution Bars Group’s EV/Ebitdar valuation is the lowest in the licensed retail sector, even though its lease-adjusted CROIC is the highest. We believe this reflects historic concerns about the bar market. In our view, these should be rectified by the company continuing to build its track record for delivering strong growth and returns.”

Rupert Clevely and David Page to step down from Young’s board: Rupert Clevely and David Page are to step down fro the Young’s board. Clevely, is stepping down from the Board with immediate effect. He was the founder of Geronimo Inns and was appointed to the Board in 2010 on its acquisition by the company. He has recently expressed an intention to pursue other ventures in the leisure and hospitality industry, Young’s stated. Page has decided not to stand for re-election and will therefore be retiring from the Board at the company’s Annual General Meeting on 7 July 2015. His fixed term contract was due to expire on 31 July 2015. He is currently chairman of the remuneration committee and a member of the audit committee. Nicholas Bryan, chairman of Young’s, said: “On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank Rupert for the excellent job he did in leading Geronimo during its integration into Young’s. We are also grateful for his contribution as a non-executive director following his stepping down as an executive director in the early part of 2013. As regards David, we would like to express our gratitude for the insight, guidance and good humour that he has provided over many years on the Board. We wish them both well.”

Adam Freeth – 'We're looking at three more sites for Gas Street Social concept': Adam Freeth, managing director of the Shaker Group, has revealed that he is looking at three more potential sites for his Gas Street Social concept. Gas Street Social, an upmarket all-day bar and restaurant, opened in the Mailbox in Birmingham in March this year. Freeth told Propel that Gas Street Social was less of a brand than "the DNA of a business model, the design, the service, the overall food offer. We feel we can use that to move into other sites, wherever that may be – and at the moment we are looking at two or three other sites. Two of them are in the West Midlands and one is up north. The site we're in at the moment is 4,500 sq ft. I think 3,500 to 5,000 sq ft is probably where we need to be. We are looking at a site that's slightly bigger than that, it really depends on the floor plan and how it's split, whether it's two floors. It needs to be in a premium area, but not necessarily in a shopping area. We've been looking for some time, and we're not in any rush. But I'd like to build up a little portfolio of Gas Street Social-type concepts in the next five to seven years." Future sites would not necessarily use the work "Social", which comes courtesy of one of the investors in the business, Eric Yu of the Breakfast Group, and his The Social in Fitzrovia, London, Freeth said: "The name 'Social' can certainly be used, if the next site we look at lends itself to that, but if it needs to be called the Colmore Dining Rooms or something else, then we'll happily work with a different name."

Wetherspoon applies for planning consent for Belfast city centre pub: JD Wetherspoon has applied for planning consent to convert the former JJB Sports store in  Royal Avenue, Belfast into a bar. The company has applied for a "change of use from retail premises to public house" a part of plan to open two new Wetherspoon pubs in the city. Chairman Tim Martin told the Belfast Telegraph that work could begin on the site in around six months if the application is granted. He said: "Because everything is subject to planning and licensing, it's never guaranteed. But we are optimistic that we have a reasonable chance of the go-ahead. If it went smoothly, it would probably take six months before we could go on site, and then a further four or five months for the pub." Wetherspoon is investing between and £3m and £4m in the Royal Avenue site and a second site in University Road after buying a former Methodist church close to Queen's University.

Drake & Morgan launches new Sunday brunch menu at six of its eight sites, plus ‘selfie sofa’:
The London bar and restaurant operator Drake & Morgan has launched Sunday brunch at six of its eight sites, including the Refinery on Bankside, South London, the Fable in Farringdon, The Parlour in Canada Square, East London and the Happenstance, the Folly and the Drift in the City. The all-day breakfast includes eggs Benedict, a gourmet bacon sandwich, blueberry pancakes with lashings of maple syrup and an avocado on sourdough with chilli and poached egg. Meanwhile a "selfie sofa" be popping up at the Refinery from 5 to 12 May to mark the launch of the new brunch menu. Diners are encouraged to gather friends, take a selfie using @therefinerybar #SelfieSofa, and the most shared/liked at the end of the week will win brunch for the group worth £250. A spokesman said: “Drake & Morgan's beautifully presented dishes and drinks have a huge following on social media, with hundreds of tweets and instagrams going out about them each and every year, and the SelfieSofa is a fun way for the operator to give back to its social media-savvy customers.”
 
Boston Tea Party gets Plymouth planning go-ahead: The Bristol-based cafe chain Boston Tea Party has won planning consent to open a 180-seat cafe and restaurant on the waterfront in Plymouth. The cafe, in the Grade II listed Jamaica House on Vauxhall Street, is expected to open in June and create 25 jobs. It will accommodate 150 guests inside the detached three-storey stone building with seating for a further 30 people outside, overlooking the historic harbour towards the Barbican. Sam Roberts, managing director of BTP, said: “We’ve been operating across the South West for a number of years and Plymouth has been in our thoughts for a while. We’ve been searching for suitable locations and buildings, and Sutton Harbour fits the bill perfectly. It’s a great part of the city, with bags of character and history and we’re excited to be furthering regeneration of the waterfront by moving into Jamaica House." BTP has signed a lease with the building’s owner, Sutton Harbour Holding. It will be alongside the craft cider and gourmet pizza restaurant The Stable, which opened over Easter in the former Vauxhall Quay bar. The Jamaica House building, used for many years as the Barbican Antiques Centre, will now be renovated by the chain before the new cafe opens.

Young’s refurbishes two hotels in time for of 2015 Rugby World Cup: The pub and hotel operator Young & Co has undertaken a complete refurbishment to the bedrooms at two of its South West London hotels, the Coach & Horses in Kew and The Alexander Pope in Twickenham, in time for the Rugby World Cup this autumn. After a complete renovation to the pub and restaurant in 2013, the 31 bedrooms at the Coach & Horses have been re-designed by Jane Uglow Interiors, a West London interior designer winning her first commission for Young’s. The brief was to retain the pub’s heritage and reflect its proximity to Kew Gardens while providing individual boutique bedrooms. The Alexander Pope's 32 bedrooms have also been transformed into boutique-style bedrooms, designed by Young’s resident designer, Jane Holmes. In-room facilities at both properties include Hypnos beds, flat screen TVs, Nespresso machines, free wi-fi, fully stocked mini-bars and Algotherm toiletries. Young's hotel operations director, Andy Nash ,said: "We took the opportunity to develop two of our popular hotels in West London, not only to create further possibilities for fans visiting for the Rugby World Cup in September/October but also to provide a boutique hotel experience at the Coach & Horses for visitors to Kew Gardens.”

Computer glitch forces thousands of Starbucks to close early: A computer glitch caused thousands of Starbucks sites in the United States and Canada to close early last Friday. The glitch affected registers at 7,400 company-operated stores in the US and 1,000 in Canada, and prompted some stores to give away drinks. Starbucks said the outage was caused by "a failure during a daily system refresh". Jim Olson, a company spokesman, stressed it was an internal issue and that no external breach was involved. The problem began in the evening Friday on the East Coast, with workers posting hand-written "Cash Only" signs on windows and giving away free drinks and food because they were unable to ring up orders on registers. Starbucks initially said stores would remain open during the outage, then changed course and said it decided to close stores early.
 
Cereal cafe owners to launch cookbook:
A recipe book by the twin founders of London's first cereal café is to be launched in time for Christmas. The book, described as "an ideal Christmas gift for cereal lovers", the book is authored by brothers Gary and Alan Keery and released later this year, according to the Bookseller. The Keerys opened the Cereal Killer Cafe in Shoreditch last year December. Ebury Press will publish the book, titled The Cereal Killer Cafe, which will feature 40 cereal-inspired recipes as well as homages to cereal package design and 1980s and 1990s pop culture references. Ebury's editorial director, Lizzy Gray, told the Bookseller: "The Cereal Killer Cafe’s first book is an ideal Christmas gift for cereal lovers and those of us who look back to the late 1980s and 1990s and wonder what happened to Gordon the Gopher." The Keerys said the book, set to be published in October, was "a dream come true".

Pret A Manger boosts healthy options in the US:
Pret A Manger has increased menu items for customers in the United States looking for healthy lunch options. The "Power Lunch" is the chain's take on the grain bowl. Each option has 500 calories, is under $9 and includes vegetables and protein over a mix of white and red quinoa and black and green lentils, olive oil, sea salt, black pepper and freshly squeezed lemon. Options include roasted beets and feta, a blend of roasted beets, red wine vinegar, julienned apple, feta cheese, walnuts and kale; Southwestern chicken and avocado, sliced grilled chicken, avocado and roasted corn salsa; roasted parsnip and pistachios, a "Mediterranean-inspired" recipe made with roasted parsnips, pomegranate seeds, pistachios, and fresh mint; and "egg  and veggie", hardboiled egg, pickled cabbage and carrot mix, topped with edamame beans, fresh limes and sesame seeds.

Loungers to open second Cornish site next month: The cafe bar brand Loungers is to open its second Cornish site, a venue in Falmouth, next month. The company is investing £650,000 on refurbishing the Grade II-listed former town hall and fire station building on the Moor, previously occupied by the Remedies nightclub, before its opening on 28 May. The chain has said that the new site will create 30 jobs. A spokesman for Loungers said: "We will be looking to retain and repair most of the building's key features – it is what attracted us to this site. By removing a nightclub and creating a fantastic family friendly all-day restaurant we play a key part in the council's plans to improve the Moor. Our ethos has always been to invest and contribute to the local community."

Brewery in discussions to re-open Ipswich pub as an ale house:
An unnamed Norfolk brewery is in discussions to re-open one of Ipswich’s oldest pubs as a real ale tavern. The Spread Eagle shut its doors last month after its landlady, Sheryl Meshirer, pulled her last pint before moving to New York. A spokesman from Elizabeth Holdings, which owns the property, said the company was in talks with a Norfolk brewery and that it was likely to be back open in two to three months. He said: “We are in negotiation with them to take over the pub and they will be refurbishing it.” The spokesman said there was a possibility that the pub would be transformed into a real ale pub, adding: “They are keen to promote their beers.”
 
Chipotle founder to expand fast-casual pizza concept to fourth site: Chipotle founder Steve Ellis and his two business partners are to expand their fast casual pizza concept Pizzeria Locales to a fourth site. It will open in Cincinnati, servings Neapolitan-inspired pizza assembled in an "interactive" serving line and baked in two minutes. There are two Pizzeria Locales in Denver, and one will open in Kansas City in July. Ellis and partners Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson and Bobby Stuckey chose Cincinnati because they wanted to use a smaller market to perfect their concept. The three became partners after Ellis helped Mackinnon-Patterson and Stuckey transform their full-service restaurant in Boulder, Colorado into a fast-serve restaurant concept.
 
Instinctif reports turnover rise: The financial public relations firm Instinctif, previously known as College Hill which advises Marston’s, Fuller Smith & Turner, Revolution Group and City Pub Company, saw global revenue grow about £1m (3.1%) to £33.8m in 2014. Of this, the UK business accounted for £25.3m, up from £24.3m in the previous year, PR Week has reported. Chief executive Richard Nichols said: "We’ve grown for eight successive years and in 2014 we grew again." Revolution Bars, which underwent an IPO at the start of 2015, employed the agency to help reposition the bar brand among analysts and stakeholders using film produced in-house. Nichols said: "We’re moving way beyond what ten years ago a traditional financial PR agency would have done."

Planners grant permission for drive-through cafe close to M25's busy junction 10: Planning permission has been granted for a drive-though cafe at a site between junction 10 of the M25 and the Painshill roundabout on the A3, which sees a daily flow of 36,440 vehicles travelling past the site between 7am and 7pm. The prospective occupier of the building, a coach house on the site of the former San Domenico restaurant, which has been closed for 20 years, is "likely to be one of the multinational coffee shop franchises", Colin Virtue, a director at Pegasus Planning Group, said in a letter to Elmbridge Council's planning committee. Pegasus is acting for the property developer London Investment Holdings.
 
Hotel damaged in 'brandy blaze' to be shut until this weekend: The hotel in Oxford forced to close after a fire caused by chefs who poured too much Cognac into a saucepan while trying to flambé a dish is having to remain shut for at least twice as long as expected after it was discovered that the blaze had caused damage likely to cost millions of pounds. The Randolph Hotel, a 150-year-old Victorian Gothic building in Beaumont Street will not now reopen until Saturday, 2 May, after last week's fire. Originally manager Michael Grange said he hoped to reopen by yesterday, Monday. The hotel is owned by McDonald's Hotels.
 
Goode joins Ooberstock as trading director: Ooberstock.com, the online national on-trade distributor, has appointed Shaun Goode as trading director, starting 27 April. Goode will help strategically guide the business, working closely alongside owner, Steve Brogan, the company said. Goode previously worked for Heineken UK, holding senior roles in both the regional and national sales divisions. More recently he has been working as commercial director at International Wine Services, part of the C&C Group. Brogan said: “Shaun’s extensive experience and skills will undoubtedly help drive Ooberstock forward into its next level of growth and we are delighted to have him on board.” Goode said: “I’ve been impressed by how Ooberstock is driving drinks distribution into the 21st century by adopting a lot of the services that great online businesses such as Amazon offer. Ooberstock’s transparency, simplicity and ease of business is what will make them the leading online UK distributor and I want to be part of this exciting wholesale revolution.”
 
Enterprise teams up with Royal British Legion for VE Day weekend: Enterprise Inns has teamed up with the Royal British Legion to help licensees and local communities mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe during the forthcoming three-day VE Day weekend. Enterprise has rolled out a support package that includes a guide in the latest issue of its Deals & Ideas magazine to making the most of the event, from 8 to10 May. It is part of a wider, summer-long campaign celebrating "the Best of British", from real ale to Pimm’s, and cider to food. Enterprise's sales and marketing director, James Armitage, said: “This 70th anniversary of VE Day is a special one, and will be marked by communities across the UK holding all sorts of commemorative events, which will undoubtedly promote a wonderful atmosphere as people come together. And with so many of our pubs being the focal point of their communities, we’re keen to provide plenty of advice and practical support to our publicans, so they can make it a weekend to be remembered for customers, and a successful one for themselves.” On VE Day itself , Friday 8 May, a chain of 100 beacons will be lit across the UK, followed by a day of celebration on Saturday, while Sunday will be a day of thanksgiving.

Old Norwich beer brand Bullard's revived: Bullard's, the name of a brewery in Norwich whose beers disappeared 30 years ago, has been revived by a man whose first job was to promote Bullard’s beer. Russell Evans, who worked for the brand's then owner, Grand Metropolitan, after graduating from university in the early 1980s, has teamed up with Norwich’s Redwell Brewery to revive the Bullard's name. The Bullard's brewery itself closed in 1966, after the company was taken over by Watney's of London, but its beer continued to be brewed at another brewery in Norwich owned by Watney's and then Grand Met until 1985. The rights to the Bullard's name were acquired by Evans earlier this year. Now two Bullard’s cask beers have been created, brewed to new recipes designed by Redwell's head brewer, Dave Jones, which have gone on sale in more than 20 pubs in Norwich and the surrounding area. Patrick Fisher, co-owner of Redwell Brewery, said the company had never planned to brew cask beers, but the opportunity to revive a city institution was too good to resist. He said: “We’ve taken a craft beer approach and thrown all our expertise and hops into these products. It was important to us that we didn’t use old recipes. We wanted to do it justice by creating new, modern recipes that cask beer drinkers would be excited about and would buy. We’re hoping to drive this as a long-term rebirth of Bullard’s, close to its original home.” The two new beers, which are both vegan-friendly, are a 4.2% East Coast Pale Ale called Bullard’s No 1 and a 6% IPA called Bullard’s No 2.
 
Renaissance Pub Company re-brands as Three Cheers Pub Co: Renaissance Pubs has change its name to Three Cheers Pub Co. The change takes place after a trademark dispute. The South London pub group has launched a programme of activity to celebrate the new name. Co-founder and operations director Mark Reynolds said: “We were instantly drawn to the new name – Three Cheers Pub Co. It’s different and stands out from the competition, and we are looking forward to sharing it with our customers. The rename and rebrand have also been a brilliant opportunity to look at the business as a whole: carry out some renovations on our older sites, introduce more structure and make some great additions to our menus.” Although the company did not reveal the other party in the trademark dispute, Renaissance Hotels, now part of the Marriott International group, was founded in 1982 as Ramada Renaissance Hotels, the market division of Ramada Inns.

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