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Wed 29th Apr 2015 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Whitbread – Costa now twice as popular as Starbucks in the UK: Whitbread has reported that Costa Coffee is now the preferred choice of coffee shop, in a survey undertaken annually by YouGov, for 38% of consumers (up from 22% in 2008), while Starbucks is the preferred choice of 17% of UK consumers (down from 31% in 2008) while Caffe Nero is the preferred choice of 12% of consumers (up from 11% in 2008). The company expects to add around 100 new Costa sites a year in the UK for the next five years, growing estate size from the current 1,931 to 2,500. The expansion is expected to add £1.1bn to current sales to hit circa £2.5bn. Whitbread reported Costa’s return on investment strengthened in the most recent year to hit a remarkable 46.3%, up from 40.4% the year before – overall company return on investment is 15.7%. The company cited the example of the town of Bedford to show Costa’s sales growth with the development of five sites since 2007 producing sales growth from £12,000 a week to £56,000 per week. There were six more opportunities within Bedford to grow sales – two retail parks, a store concession, the railway station, hospital and education colleges. Whitbread also plans to grow the number of Costa Express machines from the current 4,292 to circa 8,000 by 2020 – there were 877 Coffee Nation machines when the business was originally acquired. Whitbread pointed out that coffee consumption in the UK is still low at 2.8 kg per capita per year – the figure is 4.2 in the US, 5.5 in France, 7 in Germany, 9.5 in Norway and 12.2 in Finland. Internationally, Whitbread plans to add six new Costa Coffee stores in France this year to add to the existing 14, three of which are operated under franchise. In China, Whitbread is aiming to have 900 Costa stores by 2020 – it currently has 344 stores in 31 cities delivering mid-single digit like-for-like sales growth and a like-for-like profit contribution broadly similar to the UK.

Industry News:

HospitalityGEM managing director Steven Pike to present at Propel summer conference: HospitalityGEM managing director Steve Pike is to present at the Propel conference at the Oxford Belfry on Thursday 2 July, which is followed by Propel’s summer party. Pike talks about what operators can learn from listening to their customers and how it can drive sales. Operators can book as many as two free places by emailing jo.charity@propelinfo.com

BrewDog – £25m fund-raising ‘going well’: BrewDog has reported that its £25m fund-raising, launched a week ago, is ‘going well’. The company has previously reported that £1m was raised within the first day of the campaign’s launch. Co-founder James Watt told The Financial Times that the offer had so far attracted about 60% new investors and 40% individuals who already held equity in BrewDog. Yesterday, Propel reported that BrewDog was in advanced talks to build a brewery in Columbus, Ohio. BrewDog produced the equivalent of 75,000 barrels of beer in 2014, 60% growth over 2013. A similar-sized brewery in Columbus would make BrewDog the biggest in the city and the third-largest craft brewer in Ohio.

BII unveils shortlist of UK’s top publicans: The finalists for the British Institute of Innkeeping Licensee of the Year Award have been revealed ahead of the Summer Event and Annual Lunch on 2 June. This year celebrates the 30th Licensee of the Year, with two husband and wife teams up for the award, both of whom also made the finals in 2014. The awards recognise the country’s top licensees with a passion for the trade. Judging will be based on the finalists’ ability to display business acumen, operational skills, outstanding customer service standards and the ability to be innovative in the market. “It is an extremely impressive achievement to be crowned as the BII Licensee of the Year and despite the high number of industry awards at present, it is still considered to be the industry’s most coveted award,” said Tim Hulme, chief executive of the BII. The 2015 Licensee of the Year Award finalists are: Tim Tomlinson – Merchants 1688, Lancaster; Mike Wheeler – Penwig, New Quay; John Horton – Abbey House Hotel & Gardens, Barrow-in-Furness; Sandy Castle – The Fatling, Hornchurch; Tim and Liz Hore – The Victoria Inn, Salcombe; Keith and Diane Marsden – The Prince of Wales, Mosley. A judging panel of 12 industry experts will interview the finalists and decide who will be named this year’s winner on Thursday 7 May.

Carlsberg to partner Brooklyn Brewery to create the “premier beer experience in Norway”: Carlsberg Group has signed up to a new collaboration between its subsidiary Ringnes, in Norway, and Brooklyn Brewery of New York with the aim of creating the premier beer experience in Norway. The collaboration will see a new brewery with pub, restaurant, conference facilities and visitor center established at the existing Ringnes EC Dahls brewery site in Trondheim, Norway. The brewery will produce both local Dahls beer, as well as new craft beers that take inspiration from both Norwegian and US craft brewing traditions. The brewery will welcome beer and food enthusiasts from around the world and become a laboratory for new ideas and experimentation. EC Dahls will have a top-class restaurant operated by local restaurateur Roar Hildonen. “This is great news for the EC Dahls brewery, and great news for beer lovers in Norway and beyond,” said Jørn Tolstrup Rohde, senior vice president for Western Europe at Carlsberg Group. “Carlsberg’s collaboration with Brooklyn continues to explore new possibilities in craft brewing. Carlsberg started its life as a small brewery in Copenhagen back in 1847, and thanks to the resurgence of craft brewing in recent times, more and more people are getting interested in the world of beer. We think that’s very positive.”

Pink burgers forced off the menu in Portsmouth burger venue: Burgers served ‘pink’ have been forced off the menu at a burger restaurant in Southsea, Hampshire. Health inspectors from Portsmouth City Council have insisted the restaurant, 6 oz Burgers, in Osborne Road, Southsea, stop serving burgers with their centres undercooked, fearing a public safety risk. Its directors has insisted they will fight the Portsmouth City Council order in the courts. Environmental health managers at the local authority said they are following advice from the Food Standards Agency.

Company News:

Whitbread – 5,000 new Premier Inns rooms a year until 2020: Whitbread chief executive Andy Harrison has stated the company will increase the number of new Premier Inn room openings to 5,000 a year until 2020 to hit a total of 85,000 rooms in the UK, up from the current figure of around 4,000 rooms a year being opened. Harrison said that the company expected to grow UK market share to 11% by 2020, with a total of circa 900 Premier inn sites. The independent hotel market will see market share reduce from the current 50% to 46% by 2020. Harrison said the south east accounted for 30% of the growth opportunity. Overall, Premier Inn’s 688 sites average 4.3 out of five of TripAdvisor in the UK, second only to Sofitel with just three sites. Harrison said the company first smaller Hub site in St Martin’s Lane, London, opened in November 2014, is averaging 4.4 on TripAdvisor and has enjoyed 83% occupancy levels. 

Whitbread – we’re trying to maximise Table Table opportunity: Whitbread has reported it is trying to maximise the opportunity provided by its Table Table brand by converting some sites to Beefeater. The company is also “dialing up the local heritage” by converting them to its Whitbread Inns format, which now has seven sites and is working “particularly well”. Meanwhile, 38 Beefeater sites have now been converted to a new brand proposition and a Brewers Fayre brand refresh is complete. The pub restaurants division has seen guest net recommendation score rise 1.4% points 67.4%.

Simon French – ‘we tip Costa boss Chris Rogers as Whitbread’s new chief executive’: Cenkos leisure analyst Simon French has tipped Costa Coffee managing director Chris Rogers to take over as Whitbread chief executive when current chief executive Andy Harrison steps down at the end of the current financial year in February 2016. He said: “The market may be un-nerved by Mr Harrison’s departure although we are relaxed given the strength of the senior management team. However, it probably delays any decision on the demerger of Costa until the new chief executive is in place and has reviewed the business. Somewhat paradoxically we expect the new chief executive to be Chris Rogers, currently managing director of Costa and previously group chief financial officer. Whitbread trades on a discount to InterContinental Hotels Group (Sell) and Starbucks Corp (not rated).” Meanwhile, Numis Securities analyst Wyn Ellis, issuing an ‘Add’ recommendation with a target price of 5600p, said: “We would expect the market to be cheered by the stretched new milestone targets which suggest that there is considerable growth in the Whitbread business model for some time yet. We have trimmed our FY16 PBT forecast from £563m to £550m (-2%) to reflect additional investment in Premier Inn, a slightly subdued start to the year, and the fact that 80% of the Premier Inn room openings in FY16 are expected to be in the second half of the year.”

Starbucks to introduce 500 Reserve Bars: Starbucks is expanding its premium Reserve brand to 500 units worldwide, offering micro-lot coffees and proprietary brewing techniques at a Reserve Bar within existing venues, helping reinforce premium positioning and fight of competition from speciality coffee concepts. In a call with analysts following a strong second quarter, chief executive Howard Schultz said the new Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room, a small-batch coffee roasting site that he has dubbed the “Willy Wonka of coffee”, has been a tremendous success since it debuted in Seattle four months ago. The 15,000-square-foot, ultra-modern roastery will be replicated, with a second unit planned to open in 2016, in a city in Asia that will be revealed later this year, Schultz said. Select units that will be dubbed “Starbucks Reserve” stores will add a Reserve Bar that will “showcase the most premium of all super-premium coffees in the world and the newest coffee brewing methods,” including pour-over, siphon and the proprietary Clover technology, Schultz said.

Wok to Walk hires Savills to secures UK sites: Agent Savills has been instructed by Wok to Walk to advise on acquisitions across the UK. The wok kitchen operator has 60 outlets across the globe, including sites in London and Cardiff, and plans to expand its footprint in the UK with units ranging in size from 900 – 1,800 sq ft. Wok to Walk is looking for sites close to workers, students and shoppers, including high street, retail park, shopping centre and transport hub settings. Target locations include Reading, Bath, Oxford and Southampton. Robert Palmer, associate in Savills Bristol retail team, said: “As a well-established and successful food operator, this is a great instruction for the team. We are looking forward to working with Wok to Walk to deliver its property strategy and to ensure its presence continues to grow across the country.”

Homeslice secures second site, in Fitzrovia: Street food pop-up turned permanent pizzeria Homeslice has secured its second site on Wells Street, Fitzrovia. Having spent the past two years building on its street food success at its first permanent site in Seven Dials, Homeslice is preparing to open the next incarnation in a 2,000 sq ft space just off Great Titchfield Street. With space for 70+ covers inside and an extended outdoor area, the site will also offer an underground cocktail bar and a dedicated takeaway space. The second site will have a different look and feel to its Seven Dials sister with the same core offering of pizza, beer and wine. “All of us at Homeslice are so pleased to have the opportunity to take what we do to a wider audience,” said co-owner Mark Wogan. “We will continue to keep it simple with the emphasis on quality. The Seven Dials mix of locals and overseas visitors have been very kind to us. We aim to create an atmosphere that Fiztrovia will take to in the same way.”

Grand Union ups the beer garden ante with launch of Pleasure Island: London bar operator Grand Union, the eight-strong London bar operator led by Adam Marshall and backed by Luke Johnson, is upping the outdoor space ante with the launch, on 14 May, of a West Coast-inspired Pleasure Island at Grand Union Wandsworth. Aiming to ‘turn the London beer garden on its head and create something extraordinary’ Grand Union Wandsworth will offer swing seating, a palm thatched 50ft cocktail bar wrapped around ‘Bertie’ the oak tree and 11 bookable beach huts splashed with neon. The ‘concept and gardens are designed by Marshall and his team, taking inspiration from trips to the US and Asia in creating memorable outdoor spaces.

Milton Brewery opens first new-build pub in Cambridge for 32 years: Milton Brewery has opened Cambridge’s first new-build pub in 32 years. The Queen Edith pub in Wulfstan Way is Milton Brewery’s third pub in the city, replacing the former “tired and redundant” venue, which had stood empty for 18 months before plans were approved for the new building in June 2013. Richard Naisby, managing director of Milton Brewery, said: “There hasn’t been a pub there now for several years. I think the community was pretty pleased to have somewhere to drink. It’s the first new build pub for 32 years in Cambridge – it’s not something that happens every day.” The full Milton Brewery range on offer along with guest beers and a Czech-style lager. The Queen Edith pub joins the Milton Brewery’s two other pubs in the city, The Haymakers in Chesterton and the Devonshire Arms off Mill Road. The firm also operates pubs in London, Peterborough and Norwich.

Lifestyle Hospitality Group to open burger brand in Torquay: Lifestyle Hospitality Group is to open a burger concept in Torquay tomorrow. Burgerfest is set to open on the harbourside promising ‘panoramic harbour views and mouth watering burgers’. The venue, which is situated near the pavilion, was formerly Marina Restaurant. Lifestyle Hospitality Group runs other Torquay venues such as Apple and Parrot, Mambo and Tiger Bills. Burgerfest is described as offering handcrafted burgers with ‘unique’ toppings that can be enjoyed with speciality and frozen cocktails, craft beers, or alcoholic milkshakes. The restaurant also features ‘funky and unique’ interiors adding ‘a touch of cool’ with 1980s arcade games, table tennis and retro furniture. General manager Mitchell Short said: “Panoramic harbour views and mouth watering burgers make the restaurant a comfortable and delicious experience. All of our burgers are made fresh in-house, daily, using locally sourced beef. Our sauces and toppings are also made in-house to complement our burgers and are perfect for enjoying with friends and family on a summers evening in our outside area.”

Gatti’s secures second site: Acting on behalf of landlords Beacon Capital, agent Shelley Sandzer has let a 5,000 sq ft restaurant at City Point, 1 Ropemaker Street, to Gatti’s Ristorante. Split across 1,800 sq ft at ground and a 3,200 sq ft basement, the Gatti’s will open later this year and will be the brand’s second restaurant in the City, joining its existing location near Liverpool Street Station. Operated by Jenny Carpenter with head chef Domingo Marais, Gatti’s is renowned for its quality Italian food amongst local City office workers. Gatti’s is the second brand secured for City Point by Shelley Sandzer, following the addition of Notes, whose ground floor site Shelley Sandzer finalised last July. Henry Wilson, leasing agent at Shelley Sandzer, said: “This deal helps to provide the development with a real local identity. Demand in this location continues to grow and the addition of Gatti’s is certainly complimentary to the existing mix of dining brands that includes Notes, Pret A Manger and Wagamama.”

The Real Greek to open ninth site next week: The Real Greek will open its ninth restaurant in the UK on 6 May , a prime spot on St. Martin’s Lane, London. The 75-cover opening follows the launch of a Berwick Street branch in Soho. Tonia Buxton, the face of Greek food in Britain and presenter of the award-winning ‘My Greek Kitchen’ TV series, is working closely with The Real Greek team on the development of their dishes. Christos Karatzenis, head of operations at The Real Greek, said: “St. Martin’s Lane is a fascinating street, brimming with character and history and home to numerous attractions – it never sleeps. We’re confident that our diners will love our fresh Greek flavours and buzzing, Mediterranean atmosphere and we look forward to putting our very own Greek stamp on this cultural hub.”

JD Wetherspoon applies to add balcony at site where it bought-in freehold last year: JD Wetherspoon has applied to erect a external roof garden and balcony overhanging the Haven river at its site in Boston Lincolnshire. Last year, the company bought the freehold of its The Moon Under Water in Boston, Lincolnshire for £1.1m at a CBRE auction – the guide price was £1m to £1.1m. Wetherspoon had been paying a rent of £72,000 per annum on a 40-year lease that expired in March 2038 and is subject to five-yearly rent reviews. The pub was sold on behalf of receivers

Loungers plans to expand Bournemouth estate with “unusual” Cosy Club opening: Loungers is planning to add to its Dorset estate with an unusual Cosy Club opening in Bournemouth. The opening is planned for the former River Island shop in Old Christchurch Road, which has been on the market for the past 18 months. The building is arranged over five levels and the current plans are to use the ground floor as a shop with a Cosy Club on the first, second and third floors. Nick Collins, managing director of Loungers, told The Bournemouth Echo: “We love putting Cosy Clubs into character buildings, we think it suits our brand, our quirky interiors. We trade in Bournemouth with the Lounges and so we know the community and we know and love the town. We’ve always had it on our radar for a Cosy Club but quite often it’s a case of waiting for the right property to come up. This one is not without its challenges, being over three floors and with an amazing roof terrace but once we realised we could make it work we were keen to go for it.” A decision on the planning application is expected within a few weeks.

Las Iguanas opens to “unprecedented demand” in Torquay: A new Las Iguanas has opened to “unprecedented demand” in Torquay. The Latin American restaurant chain had invested £1.5 million ahead of its move into the Abbey Sands development on Torquay seafront. General Manager Neil Clarke said: “We have had massive interest from the public and already over 700 covers booked in for the first week. That is unprecedented. We are in a fantastic location. I can’t think of anywhere with a better view than what we have in Torquay. You can look out across the Bay and it will look like, if not better than, any Riviera in Europe.” More than 50 people have been hired by Las Iguanas, which has 38 others restaurants across the UK, including Exeter and Plymouth.

Innis & Gunn launches mini-bond to raise £3m to build brewery: Scottish brewer Innis & Gunn is launching a mini-bond to raise £3m for a new brewery. It plans to build the new brewery at an unspecified location in south east Scotland. The company is currently in “advanced negotiations” to buy land for the facility and expects the brewery and bottling line to create up to 35 new jobs over the next four years. Innis & Gunn said it would continue to brew the bulk of its beer at Wellpark Brewery in Glasgow. Founded in 2003, the brewer reported turnover of £11.8m last year – up from £10.5m in 2013. Last year the company sold more than 20 million bottles of beer. Innis & Gunn founder and chief executive Dougal Gunn Sharp said: “Our state-of-the-art brewery is where we will get even more creative and make epic new beers for craft beer drinkers to enjoy.”

Coaching inn operator creates 20 jobs in £800,000 refurbishment: Coaching inn operator Bulldog Hotel Group Twenty has created 20 jobs in a £800,000 refurbishment of its 60-bedroom Market Harborough hotel, The Three Swans. The venue’s restaurant will now operate from the morning, selling coffee and cakes, through to serving evening dinner. Managing director Kevin Charity said: “It’s all part of bringing this historic hotel back to its former glory. Improvements include a £150,000 state-of-the-art kitchen, an ongoing refurbishment of all the bedrooms and a complete exterior overhaul. It’s a big spend, but we believe The Three Swans deserves it. It’s a focal point in Harborough and a big asset to the town.” The hotel already had a staff of about 70 people, making it one of the town’s biggest employers. The hotel dates back to the 16th century and famous guests have included King Charles I before the Battle of Naseby. Bulldog Hotel Group received a £4.5m investment from the Business Growth Fund earlier this month an now operate eight sites – it recruited Ed’s Easy Diner chief executive Andrew Guy as its chairman earlier this month.

Boston Tea Party launches new summer menu: Award-winning cafe chain Boston Tea Party has added new dishes for the summer season including mezzes, hammoumi pittas and spicy marinated chicken. A spokesperson said: “We love our menu, but admittedly our lunch options have been a bit burger or salad for a while, and with summer on the way too, we’ve decided it’s time for a change. Speaking to our customers, along with taking inspiration from what I think the latest trends are, we’ve come up with several new dishes which we hope you love as much as we do.”

Glendola Leisure’s Alston Bar & Beef wins best burger in Scotland award: Alston Bar & Beef in Glasgow, operated by Glendola Leisure, won “the best burger in Scotland” award at last week’s prestigious Entertainment Awards. The bar and restaurant opened last year. Matthew Mustard, manager at Alston Bar & Beef said, “We are absolutely delighted to be to make the short list and particularly surprised to be named as the overall winner. Our head chef, Nicol Robertson and his team, have done a great job and now we officially have Scotland’s best burger. There was no category for best steak but you can be sure we will be recommending that as a category for next year, so watch this space.”

Marston’s – premium bottled ales set to hit £1bn annual sales by 2020: Premium bottled ales are on course to achieve £1 billion annual sales by 2020 – with six bottles drunk every second in the UK, brewer and retailer Marston’s has revealed. It is the fastest growing beer category in the country with an extra £47 million of sales added last year, which took the total to £490m. A bottled ale report, compiled annually by Marston’s, also found that off-trade sales, including supermarkets and convenience stores , have now overtaken on-trade in both volume and value and now represent more than 50% of total beer sold in the UK.

BrewDog takes Glasgow office space: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has taken a five-year lease on an office in Glasgow city centre. The craft brewer, currently seeking to raise £25 million in its latest crowdfunding drive, has become the 11th business to lease premises at Queen’s House on St Vincent Street in the last 12 months.

Luke Johnson – EY’s World Entrepreneur of the Year event is to be avoided: Sector investor Luke Johnson has criticised EY’s Entrepreneur of the Year event being held in Monaco. In his Management Today column, he wrote: “One event I recommend entrepreneurs avoid is the World Entrepreneur of the Year, held next month and hosted by accountancy firm EY. I was a judge for the UK version a couple of years ago. It was held in a dingy basement in Victoria and was an unpleasant experience. I give my time free to such things because I believe in the cause of entrepreneurship. But not so EY, it seems. It isn’t enough that it promotes its brand obsessively in all the publicity for its contest. It also wants to charge any entrepreneur foolish enough to attend the four-day junket in Monaco €3,500. This fee excludes accommodation and flights, by the way. Headline speakers include Bill Ford and Jessica Alba. Neither of them is exactly my idea of an entrepreneur. As Somerset Maugham said, Monaco is a ‘sunny place for shady people’. Is that what EY is promoting?”

Suburban Cocktails opens site in Hoole: Suburban Cocktails has opened new site in Hoole, Cheshire, aimed at encouraging diners to try new foods with friends. The Hollows is the latest addition to the Suburban Cocktails family and the brainchild of Kingdom Thenga and Shaun Lodge who already own the award winning Suburbs bar on the same Charles Street in the suburb. The oyster and charcuterie bar serves a carefully selected range of small plates and guests are greeted on arrival by a host who discusses the menu and takes time to understand guests likes and dislikes to ensure they try something they are bound to enjoy. The menu is dominated by seasonal produce using food styles from all over the world; with Asian, South American and European influences – and a slight touch of Mediterranean.

Enterprise Inns renames pub – for one week only: Enterprise Inns’ Black Hat pub, in Yorkshire, has been renamed – for one week only. The Ilkley venue has become The Sir Gary Verity for just seven days, from yesterday (Tuesday 28 April). Multiple operator Stewart Taylor, who took the pub on last year, is making the temporary moniker change ahead of Stage 3 of the Tour de Yorkshire cycle race passing by the Church Street pub on Sunday 3 May. The tongue-in-cheek switch is in honour of Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Gary Verity, who many in the county believed should have been knighted for his pivotal role in bringing the Grand Depart of the 2014 Tour de France to the county. Taylor said: “There was some consternation, particularly among Yorkshire folk, when Gary was overlooked in the New Year Honours list. So we thought we’d pay an affectionate tribute to the man who had the vision and determination to bring the Grand Depart to Yorkshire, which many people didn’t believe could be achieved. The Tour de Yorkshire is part of the legacy of his achievement, and will once again focus people’s attention on the county, and Ilkley, when the race passes through.”

Wembley pub offered for sale: Agent AG&G is offering the freehold of the Plough on Wembley’s Ealing Road for sale. Just behind the pub, beside the Grand Union Canal, a new development of 440 flats and penthouses is taking shape, along with six commercial units. “That’s going to provide a large, new customer base in an established residential area if an operator buys the building,” said James Grimes, of AG&G. “The Plough also has potential for redevelopment or conversion (subject to necessary consents), given that it sits on a site of more than 725 square metres. We are anticipating a lot of interest by the deadline for offers at noon on Thursday, 30 April.”

SA Brain unveils new look for The Rev James brand: Cardiff-based SA Brain has unveiled a new look for one of its most loved beers, The Rev. James. The beer now sports a new contemporary look designed to attract a new generation of beer drinkers. Based on an original recipe from 1885, the signature taste of The Rev. James has also been used to create two new variations. The Rev. James Gold and The Rev. James Rye will be launched to coincide with the rebrand. Available in pubs from May, the new brand and variants have been developed working alongside new and existing Rev. James drinkers. Melanie Murgatroyd, brand marketing manager for Brains, said: “The Rev. James has been popular with our customers for years. We haven’t changed the Original recipe but we wanted to make sure the branding better reflected the change in the ale market. Throughout the process we wanted to retain the loyalty of our current Rev. James drinkers while also attracting new drinkers with a more contemporary design and different variants.”

US overtakes France a world top per capita consumer of wine: The US has overtaken France in per capita wine consumption. “The wine market has become a real global market. Despite increasing competition, very few brands have succeeded in really imposing themselves at international level, and growth prospects in the ‘premium’ segment are very good,” Benoit Lechenault, Head of Agrifrance, a division of BNP Paribas Wealth Management, said in its annual survey. The top 12 wine-growing countries in the world account for 84% of the global wine production. Last year 247 million hectoliters, equivalent to 37.2 billion bottles, were produced, a moderate rise of about 2.2% over the past 20 years. But while wine production in Europe has remained stable, new world markets like Chile, Australia, and New Zealand have seen their wine production increase by as much as 300% . France still rules the high-end wine market. Its wines command an average price of $7.50 per liter compared to the global average of nearly $3 in 2011. Champagnes fetch an impressive $16 per litre. Drinkers in the US are now consuming the most wine in the world at an average of 12 liters per person annually – about 16 bottles.

Colliers – Manchester restaurant rents are booming: Restaurant units in the Corn Exchange in Manchester city centre are commanding rents of around £50/sq ft, some of the highest in the city according to Colliers International. The grade two-listed Corn Exchange is due to reopen in July 2015 following a £30m refurbishment by owners Aviva Investors Property Trust and Queensberry Real Estate. It will be home to 17 restaurants, including Tampopo, PizzaExpress, Zizzi, Salvi’s Deli and Eclectic Grill. They will be joined by Vapiano, Cabana Brazilian Barbecue, The Cosy Club, Pho, Bar and Kitchen Banyan, Byron Burger, and Wahaca. Roomzzz Aparthotel was announced last week as the operator for a 114-room hotel. Elsewhere, the research by the licensed and leisure team at Colliers International identified Deansgate as the preferred location for premium restaurants in Manchester, commanding rents of up to £40/ sq ft, and the Northern Quarter as the preferred choice of independent restaurant operators, achieving rents of £10 to £15/sq ft. Premises for restaurant operators in the central business district of Spinningfields attracted rents of £35 to £40/sq ft while those at Deansgate Locks, which boasted the highest concentration of food and beverage providers in the city, paid between £25 and £27/sq ft. Colin Siebert, director licensed and leisure at the Manchester office of Colliers International, said: “Food and beverage providers are willing to pay top dollar for premises at Corn Exchange because the building is in an outstanding location and has been transformed into a centre for dining – restaurant operators want to be with other restaurant operators in order to attract more business by the creation of a circuit.”

Alex Polizzi show triples bookings at Lake District hotel: Gilpin Hotel and Lake House has seen room bookings triple after it was featured on the BBC’s new series, Alex Polizzi: Chefs on Trial, The Daily Telegraph has reported. Afternoon tea and dinner bookings have also tripled at the hotel near Windermere in Cumbria , and hits on its website have increased from 100 a day to 25,000 on the evenings that the show was aired. The new BBC Two series followed the efforts of the Cunliffe family, owners of Gilpin, as they attempted to hire a new executive head chef, aided by hotelier and former star of The Hotel Inspector Alex Polizzi. “The short-term spontaneous bookings have trebled and that will continue for a few months,” said The Gilpin’s managing director Barney Cunliffe. “Longer term, people making bookings to come to a hotel like this won’t just decide to go away because they’ve seen the television programme but when they do, they will think of us. I’m expecting to be full for the majority of this year.”

Whiting & Hammond turnover hits £10m, eyes two sites: Gastro-pub operator Whiting & Hammond saw turnover push through the £10m mark in the year to 30 September 2014 – turnover was £10,019,943 compared to £9,177,697 the year before. Pre-tax profit was lower at £140,485 compared to £280,087 the year before. Operating profit was £136,828, down from £280,087 in the year prior. Turnover growth of 9.2% overall was ‘in large part due to the acquisition and opening of a new pub near Sevenoaks, the King’s Head’. The company stated: “Gross profit margins were slightly lower, down 1% from 31% to 30% principally due to the start-up costs of the new pub. Underlying food and drink margins have remained very stable over the reporting period. On 30 September the company returned one of its oldest pubs, The Old Dunnings Mill, to the landlord at the end of its ten-year tenancy agreement an the risk this might happen was understood, but it remained disappointing that the landlord did not wish to continue this successful commercial agreement. Looking to the future, trading conditions remain tight with a number of well-known chains opening in local towns offering an alternative dining experience. However, the company remains focused on its offering of excellent food and service such that the underlying customer base remains firm. The directors continue to look for opportunities to take on new sites – two have been identified (and) agreements in principal have been reached. We expect both of them to open in the calendar year 2015 after extensive refurbishment.” The company is in advanced talks over a Star Pubs and Bars site near Epsom in Surrey, The Blue Ball, which would be the first opening since The Kings Head in Bessel Green, Sevenoaks, Kent last year, a Punch Taverns site. In the company magazine, Brian Whiting said: “It looks like it’s going to be a busy period as we have our eye on a new site near Epsom.” Dividends for the year ended 30 September 2014 were £96,000.

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