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Fri 22nd May 2015 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Barclays survey of customers shows average 23% rise in pub sector turnover since 2012: There are encouraging signs of growth for the UK pub industry which has seen a rise in turnover and injection of new owners in the last three years, according to new data from Barclays. The research, based on Barclays’ business customers in the pub and bar sector, reveals just under half of pub businesses were established in the last three years, boosted by the number of younger landlords entering the industry. The findings reveal the amount of pub and bar owners aged 25 to 34 has increased by a quarter in the last three years and now account for 15% of total pubs. The industry has also seen a 23% growth in turnover on average, showing that existing businesses are benefitting from strong levels of consumer spending. In addition to the rise of new pubs, over one in four (26%) have been running for ten years or more. The research also found over half (56%) of pubs are run by at least one female landlady and over a quarter (27%) have a sole female owner. Women also form a significant proportion of the young up-and-coming pub owners, with 32% of landlords under the age of 35 being female. Adam Rowse, head of business banking at Barclays said: “It’s been long-reported that this is an industry beset by challenges. However, our research shows that this has not deterred the next generation of ‘pub innovators’ from setting up shop. It’s great to see optimism for growth within this sector. Turnover growth and the rise of new businesses is encouraging. There are also a large number of establishments that have managed to sustain and grow their business in the last decade, including those that have renewed their business plans in response to changing customer appetites.”

Industry News:

Technomic – speciality fast-casual brands will lead US fast casual growth for five years: Technomic vice president Darren Tristano has argued that ‘the salad days for specialty fast-casual brands and their burgeoning segments – like build-your-own salad, Mediterranean, pizza and barbecue – are just beginning in the US. Their development will sustain the entire sector’s momentum for years to come, he said. He added: “According to Technomic projections, the fast-casual industry will continue to grow sales at a much faster pace than quick service or casual dining over the next five years, as it has since the last recession. However, this time around, the underserved specialty segments within fast casual will lead the sector’s growth. The Mediterranean fast-casual niche is expected to produce a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 33% in annual sales through to 2019, just ahead of the 30% CAGR projected for health-focused brands. The pizza sub-segment is expected to log a five-year CAGR of 23% through 2019, followed by 21% for barbecue and 17% for salad.” Darren Tristano is to present on the outstanding new brands that have emerged in the US within the last year at the Propel Multi Conference at the Oxford Belfry on Thursday 2 July, which is followed by the summer party. Operators can book up to two free places by emailing 

CGA Peach – more than 50% ordered takeaway, 75% eaten out in the last month: Research from CGA Peach’s new BrandPulse service has revealed that 57% of the population ordered a takeaway meal in the last month – and probably to accompany them watching a box set or movie at home, with 37% saying they stayed in to watch a subscription TV service like Sky Movies, Netflix or Amazon Instant. Despite the attraction of a good night in, 75% of the public still chose to eat out of home over the same period, with JD Wetherspoon (with 14% of the public visiting), Nando’s (8%), Pizza Hut (7%), Harvester (5%) and Toby Carvery (4%) seeing the highest levels of usage across restaurants and pub restaurants for the four weeks ending 15 May. For quick service and on-the-go brands, McDonald’s (28%), Greggs (20%), Costa (20%), KFC (15%) and Subway (13%) lead the way in terms of usage with the only licensed brand making the top five being JD Wetherspoon. Jamie Campbell, account director at CGA Peach, said: “It’s well reported that options at the fingertips of consumers at home, be that entertainment or quality food, is a threat to eating out spend, but eating out continues to be at the centre of people’s consciousness.” Consumer confidence remains high too, with 83% of the population planning to drink out at least as much as they did in the last four weeks, which rises further to 88% for people planning to eat out over the same period. Campbell added: “Our new four-weekly BrandPulse survey allows us to take frequent and regular snapshots of the eating and drinking out market and quickly report back trends or market changes, so helping both operators and suppliers stay right up to date in a fast moving sector.”

Trade body to launch PR campaign to publicise pub accommodation: A trade working group, Stay in a Pub, is to fund a 12 month public relations campaign to raise the profile of pub accommodation with consumers. The group included the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), Visit England, Punch Taverns, Enterprise Inns, Young’s, Eviivo (booking platform specialists) and Inapub). It has also been agreed that a Stay In A Pub week should be developed, possibly linking in with English Tourism Week. Stay In A Pub also operates an online booking website created in 2013 which now lists 1,300 pubs together with details of local attractions. Stay In A Pub is administered by Cask Marque and is a platform for the sector to promote pubs with rooms.

Innovative training restaurant opens in Windsor: An innovative new restaurant, Gigney’s, has opened in Windsor as a partnership between entrepreneur Lee Gigney and East Berkshire College (EBC). It is staffed by experienced chefs, and a mixture of graduates fresh from college courses and apprentices who will combine work with studying at EBC’s hospitality and catering academy. Gigney said: “In March last year we filled out the form to become a Community Interest Company – 11 months later we are here. It is amazing.” Gigney’s and EBC have partnered with local employers such as Stoke Park, Oakley Court Hotel, Macdonald Windsor Hotel, and Savill Court among others, who will monitor the young staff, give them shifts in their kitchens and, potentially, recruit them. The restaurant will also plough 30% of its profits back into EBC.

Leon chief executive John Vincent spends each Monday making wraps: Leon chief executive John Vincent has begun spending every Monday working shifts at the company’s site in Victoria, London. Of the experiment, which began in January, he said: “I wanted to be part of a restaurant to truly understand the journey that the team goes through, the ups and the downs. I thought, conceptually, that it would be important but it has genuinely turned out to be hugely useful.” According to Vincent, who spends two-thirds of his time working in the kitchen and the rest at the till or making coffee, working at the “coal face” of his business has been “priceless” as he now understands the pressures faced by his staff. Some wake at 3am to be at work by 5.30am. “That was eye-opening,” he told The Telegraph. “They have to travel a huge distance into work because London has become so gentrified. The people that do the manual work are being pushed further out into the suburbs.” He has also learned about the visa and immigration issues faced by his workers. “A lot of people who work at Leon are immigrants,” said Vincent. “If people could see the hard work, creativity and character of the people making our wraps and hot boxes, they would celebrate immigration rather than fear it.” Vincent works regularly at the Victoria outlet, and works in another restaurant once a month, picked at random. The most important thing to remember as a chief executive working in a shop, restaurant or bar is to take orders with good grace, he said. “When I’m there I’m a team member, I’m not the boss. I make sure I don’t criticise people or try to direct them. If things need changing I might speak to the operations director separately but never in the restaurant.”

KFC launches brand overhaul in the US that has Colonel Sander centre-stage: KFC has launched a brand overhaul in the US that places Colonel Sanders at its focus point. He features in a series of television ads, marketing materials, an online game and inside the thousands of restaurants the company plans to remodel over the next three years. KFC has also launched a website,, that describes the famous founder’s life and history. “When we were at our best, Colonel Sanders was at the centre of everything we did,” said Kevin Hochman, chief marketing officer for KFC US. “He wasn’t just a spokesperson. He followed up and delivered on the values of the brand.”

Scottish anti-tie coalition welcomes move to probe tie: A coalition of organisations and brewers campaigning for change to the tied pub model in Scotland has welcomed the Scottish government’s move to take the issue to a wider study. This follows Westminster’s decision last year to legislate progressively on the issue for England and Wales. During a debate in Holyrood, which drew strong cross-party support from across the chamber, the Minister for Business, Energy and Tourism, Fergus Ewing said that he recognised the need to explore the topic further and would commission further research. Paul Waterson from the SLTA, part of the industry coalition which also includes the likes of Tennent Caledonian Breweries, Haviestoun, the GMB and the Scottish Tourism Alliance, said: “This is a step in the right direction. The very many reasons why tied pubs are bad for Scotland’s industry and economy are being listened to and so we are encouraged by the decision to analyse the evidence, which is already overwhelmingly strong. One note of caution however is the pace at which we see discussion and change take place. Scotland’s publicans will suffer if England and Wales move forward, whilst we lag behind.”

Company News:

Young’s orders second customised Airstream Burger Shack as sales soar at first Burger Shack: London pub retailer Young’s has ordered a second customised mobile Airstream Burger Shack as sales soar at its first Burger Shack opening at The Windmill in Clapham. It was launched on 1 May and has sold 2,500 burgers and 1,500 fries in the two weeks it has been open, driving overall food growth at the pub for those two weeks up by over 30%. The next permanent shack is due to open on 26 May at The Bull in Streatham, whilst a second Airstream is on order for The Castle in Tooting and up to 20 more locations are under consideration. There will also be a Young’s mobile Burger Shack in a customised Airstream visiting Young’s pubs and events throughout the summer, before parking-up at the Alexander Pope pub in Twickenham, for all the Rugby World Cup home games. After yesterday’s results update, JP Morgan Cazenove reiterated its overweight rating on the stock, but with an increased price target of 1200p. The broker stated: “Young’s estate of premium pubs is almost exclusively focused on the buoyant London market. We believe there is upside risk to market estimates of like-for-like growth over the medium- term. It has the lowest gearing of the pub companies we cover. Young’s trades on a premium of earnings multiples to others in our universe, but we regard this as more than justified.”

Harvey’s of Lewes reports slight operating profit decline: Lewes-based brewer and pub retailer Harvey’s has reported a decline in operating profit to £2,515,576 in 2014, down from £2,560,487 the year before. Turnover rose to £19,151,334 from £18,443,341 the year prior. Pre-tax profit was £2,516,863, down from £3,620,803 the year before when profits were flattered by a £1,118,487 profit on the sale of property. The company reported a 3.7% decline in production volume “in a fiscal market that favours the plethora of much smaller brewers”. It added: “These results reflect the first steps in a change of operation within our licensed estate as some houses move to direct management, aggregating their retail performance to the company’s accounts. The excellent reputation and traditions of our brewing facility continues, but the dependence upon its predominant support of the business can’t be guaranteed.”

Brian Whiting – rates system must stop penalising successful operators: A call for urgent reform of the business rates system to stop operators being penalised for being successful has been made by Brian Whiting, boss of the gastro-pub operator Whiting & Hammond. Whiting, a council member of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers, told Propel: “You shouldn’t be penalised for a high turnover, you shouldn’t be penalised for being successful. It’s a crazy system. You’ve got a system where you’ve got two identical pubs on opposite sides of a corner in London with the same square footage; one might be a much better operator than the other person, and the person who is the much better operator can be paying two or three times more rates. That can’t be right.” Other sectors, such as retail, are assessed for rates on the basis of their square footage. The current system is hitting good operators hard, with rateable values on pubs that have been turned around being reassessed as much as eight times higher than they were under their previous operator, Whiting said. He told Propel: “We take bankrupt or broken pubs, which have, in their time, been assessed under poor operators and their rates have gone down. What happens is that you turn them round into a successful operation, and they reassess them and the rates dramatically go up. I had one particular site that had a rateable value when I took it on 11 years ago of £17,000. It was reassessed at £140,000 during my period in there, about five years ago. The ratings authority acknowledged we were better than average operators, and took it down to £120,000. The tenanted pubcos get a hard time from some quarters, but I’ve got six pubco leases and the people who take the biggest chunk of my money are the government, by a long way. Our Stanmer House site in Brighton had a rateable value of £60,000. As soon as I changed the usage from an events and weddings and conference centre, they put the rateable value up to £120,000. I phoned up the rating officer and said, ‘This is crazy, what are you basing this on?’ He said, ‘Well, we’re basing it on your rent.’ I said, ‘That’s got nothing to do with it, it’s meant to be based on fair maintainable trade.’ We ended up haggling down to £90,000. I find it all bemusing. It can’t be right that good operators are penalised.”

Boston Tea Party opening receives 1,000 applications: More than 1,000 people have applied for just 25 jobs at a new Boston Tea Party site set to open in Plymouth this summer. Renovation work is under way at the Jamaica House building in Sutton Harbour as Boston Tea Party prepares to open its first café-bar in Plymouth. Builders are transforming the three-storey Grade II listed building, owned by Sutton Harbour Holdings, to create a large café bar able to seat 150 inside, with an outdoor seating area for 30 overlooking Sutton Harbour and the Barbican. The new Boston Tea Party Plymouth is expected to open to the public in early July.

Casual Dining Group to open Bella Italia retail and leisure park sites on Bank Holiday Monday: Bella Italia will open two new restaurants on Bank Holiday Monday (25 May). A £950,000, 160-cover restaurant will open its doors at Ashton-under-Lyne, near Manchester; while Dudley will get a £1.05m, 180-cover restaurant on the same day. Both sites are owned by Legal & General, and form part of Bella’s fast paced out-of-town retail and leisure park growth strategy. The 4,000 sq ft new build restaurant on Ashton Moss Leisure Park, which is served by the Manchester Metrolink tram system, is set to attract visitors to the scheme’s multi-screen cinema and bowling complex. The 5,000 sq ft restaurant at Castlegate Leisure is located just off the busy A4123 Birmingham New Road, and is immediately adjacent to the busy Showcase cinema, Castlegate business park and Tesco Extra superstore. Phil Derbyshire, group property director at Casual Dining Group, which owns Bella, said: “The Ashton Moss park, owned by Legal & General, is one of the busiest in the north west and has been a target for the brand for some time, given its strong catchment area and great accessibility. At Castlegate, Dudley, we’re delighted to have again partnered with Legal & General to secure a prime site in this successful leisure park. This adds to our expanding portfolio in the West Midlands, and follows hugely successful recent openings for the brand in Wolverhampton and Telford.” Bella has signed 15-year leases on the units, which will be open all day, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Award-winning beer shop We Brought Beer looks to expand after success of first shop: Following the success of its first store in Balham, London, award-winning specialist beer store We Brought Beer has begun looking for further sites as it looks to expand its concept to other parts of London. We Brought Beer sells over 400 beers, as well as homebrew gear and growler fills and runs regular in-store beer tastings. It has been part of the Hildreth Street market regeneration since opening there in August 2014 and won a Time Out Love London Award for ‘Balham’s Best Shop’ after just three months. James Hickson, We Brought Beer founder, said: “We’ve been blown away by how well our little store has been received by the good people of Balham who clearly have impeccable taste in beer but until we opened had been starved of places to buy it. I think there are many similar places south of the river that would love a specialist beer shop and I’m keen to take our brand to them over the next few years. Although our current shop is small, we’ve managed to pack a lot in so now feel confident going bigger with shop number two and have so many ideas for making it the ultimate place to experience and buy beer anywhere in London! We just need the sites.” We Brought Beer is looking for sites in similar towns to Balham, including Crystal Palace, Wimbledon, Battersea, Streatham, Herne Hill and Clapham.

Simon Townsend – recovery of Enterprise aided by slashing pub failures: The recovery of Enterprise Inns has been greatly aided by intervening early when tenants are starting to fail, resulting in the number of business failures dropping from more than 13% of the estate per annum at the height of the recession to a yearly equivalent of 8% in 2015, Simon Townsend, the company’s chief executive, has revealed. Speaking at the Numis Securities Travel and Leisure Conference in the City of London, Townsend said: “A critical element in the recovery of our business has been the manner in which we’re been able to handle and reduce the number and cost of business failures in the estate, small businesses which through the recession and, sometimes, the inability to access finance, have struggled. The failure of those businesses has been immensely costly and enormously damaging to us over the past few years.” Going back to 2009, there were almost a thousand failures in the estate, more than one in eight of the company’s pubs at the time. “Clearly a business failure is not just the point at which a pub closes, it’s actually the decline in that business over months. If we can prevent a business failing we will, but if it ends up being a closed business, consumers go elsewhere, and it takes even longer to recover the business, even if it was a good asset in a good location. A key element of our progress in this area, resulting in a 21% reduction in business failures in the first half of this year compared to last year, is that most of them are now ‘planned’, that is to say, managed. We are now intervening in the business during its potential decline arresting that decline faster, inserting ourselves into that retail proposition, directing the solution that is appropriate for that business, negotiating a publican’s departure from that business and therefore in most cases preventing the closure altogether.” Total business failures in the estate during the first half of 2015 came to 210, only 4% of the total estate, and with just 43 “unplanned”, against 267 for the first half of 2014, 4.9% of the estate, with 110 unplanned, and 486 for the whole of 2014, 9.1% of the estate. Enterprise currently has 72 closed pubs waiting to be reopened – “back in the dreadful days, we’d have been talking hundreds of closed pubs,” Townsend said. “There was nothing fundamentally wrong with the closed pub – it may be severely challenged, and the operator may have been unable to fulfil the potential of that business. But we now have in our estate just 72 closed houses, all planned for reopening, all the subject of investment of some description in order to transform the proposition and the prospects for that business.” Enterprise saw a growth in beer sales to its pubs in the six months to 31 March 2015, “some of it offset by the increased margin we’ve been giving to our pubs,” Townsend said, “but overall it’s a sales-led growth, and for the first time in many years we’ve seen real rental growth in the business, albeit pretty small at 0.3%, underlying the fact that rental growth has to follow sales growth in order that those rent increases are clearly affordable and sustainable. We continue to invest heavily in the estate, our investment funded entirely by disposals. Increasingly a greater proportion of that investment is driving growth, at 42% of spending in the first half, as opposed to purely maintenance or defensive spend.”

Indian fine dining group launches own IPA: Indian fine dining restaurant group Itihaas has crafted a new beer to match its authentic Indian cuisine. Created in partnership with Coventry microbrewery Lion Heart, Sambha IPA is hoppy in flavour, with fruity notes of citrus and pineapple derived from special citra hops. Mildly sweet, with subtle hints of malt, the ale is to be available exclusively at the Itihaas brasserie in Selfridges Birmingham, launching on 31 May. Raj Rana, managing director at Itihaas, said: “There’s huge interest in craft beer styles, their character and provenance. We wanted to challenge perceptions of Indian food and beer by creating an IPA that goes perfectly with the rich and diverse flavours of our authentic menu.” Itihaas restaurant is a fine dining Indian restaurant based at Fleet Street in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter, with a brasserie concession within Selfridges at The Bull Ring. The company is also a successful event caterer, planning and catering for weddings in partnership with venues including Hyatt Regency, Hotel La Tour and New Hall Hotel and Spa.

Distillery plan for Warwickshire gets planning approval: Plans to redevelop a former gravel workings site in Warwickshire into a distillery have been recommended for approval by Rugby Borough Council in a move that will pave the way for expansion at Alcohols, a chemical distribution company and alcohol producer which dates back to 1805. The site is part of a £6m investment for the business and will consolidate its existing operations in North London, Bishops Stortford and Birmingham, where it makes gin. The redevelopment of the 7.9-acre site on Watling Street, near Europark, is expected to create 70 jobs, as well as a further 40 roles for delivery drivers. Plans prepared by Corstorphine + Wright on behalf of Alcohols propose the construction of a distillery building with a floorspace of 15,241 square foot and associated offices measuring 7,674 sq ft. The building will be used to produce gin and vodka and will also include tank store, warehouse and despatch areas while the offices will include a reception, stall facilities, a laboratory and branding room.

Ralph Trustees tables bid for Gleneagles: Family-owned hotel operator Ralph Trustees has submitted a £160 million bid to buy Gleneagles. Diageo, which has owned the establishment since 1984, has reportedly hoped to sell Gleneagles for more than £200 million. The company, controlled by brothers Daniel and Stuart Levy, is hoping to strike a deal before rival suitors KSL Capital Partners, an American private equity firm that owns the former Ryder Cup venue the Belfry, near Birmingham. As well as the five-star Athenaeum, the Levy brothers also own the Runnymede-on-Thames Hotel in Surrey, 23 Greengarden House, an apartment property in London, and the Grove, an 18th-Century mansion in Watford which was once the seat of the Earl of Clarendon and a training centre for British Rail.

TCG names its Barista of the Year: Managed pub and bar operator TCG has awarded its Barista of the Year 2015 title to Rachael Simmons, assistant manager at Bar 38 in Portsmouth, after she impressed judges in the finals of the annual competition. Her winning creation, a Carioca Iced Coffee, will be added to TCG’s summer coffee menus, launched in June. The barista competition, held for the first time last year, challenges team members across the estate to create a new coffee or hot chocolate serve. From the initial entries, four finalists were invited to make their coffees in front of judges, and produce a latte to demonstrate their coffee skills. Judging this year were TCG chief operating officer Nigel Wright, Bryan Unkles and James Oldfield of TCG’s coffee supplier Cafeology, and last year’s Barista of the Year, Andrei Slemco, also from Bar 38. Simmons’ winning drink is an iced espresso coffee with caramel and chocolate sauce, served in a Margarita glass. Inspired by the Carioca dance from South America, Simmons said she had tried to “create a drink that captured the spirit of a warm, sunny Friday afternoon, soaking up the heat and atmosphere and having a great time with friends”. 

Orderella lines up festival gig: Orderella, the mobile ordering app, which allows customers to order and pay for drinks and food using their mobile phone, is expanding its presence at this year’s Love Saves the Day Festival. The app will be available across four bars at the Main and Paradiso stages, building upon last year’s success, allowing festival goers to avoid the queues and spend more time enjoying the live music. Taking place this weekend, on 23 and 24 May, festival goers will be able to order and pay for their drinks in advance, via the app, from any of the four designated bars and skip the queues entirely. Once the order has been placed, users will be alerted, via the app, when their order is ready to collect from a designated area for Orderella customers at the bar. As payments are made through the app, there’s no reason to worry about carrying cash or waiting for the bill either. Dennis Collet, Orderella chief executive, added: “It’s great to be back at Love Saves The Day in an even bigger way this year offering festival goers the chance order their drinks across more bars than ever before. Orderella gives festival goers the chance to skip the queues, ditch the cash and just enjoy the music.”

Coffee shop wins major recognition less than a year after opening: 200 Degrees, which operates a Nottingham coffee shop and roast coffee beans on a wholesale basis, has scooped two top awards in the national Coffee Shop Awards. The 200 Degrees coffee shop was voted best in the UK for business people by winning the top slot in the ‘Best for Working Out of Office’ category at the award ceremony in London. The 200 Degrees coffee shop, which opened in the city’s Flying Horse Walk only last November, took second place in the overall UK’s ‘Best Coffee Shop in Britain’ category. 200 Degrees managing director Tom Vincent said: “200 Degrees coffee shop has been hugely successful within the city, but we can’t quite believe that less than a year after opening the doors, we have had so much national recognition in these awards.” The 200 Degrees brand extends beyond the coffee shop – it roasts its own beans, supplying blends to cafes, restaurants, hotels and businesses across the Midlands. The 200 Degrees group now employs 120 staff.

Takeaway chain owner opens Plymouth restaurant: The owner of a string of takeaway food shops in the South West is opening a 70-cover restaurant in the Barbican area of Plymouth. Dino Bali, who runs a chain of eight Vino’s takeaways in Devon and Cornwall, including Dartmouth Ivybridge, Torpoint and Helston, is opening a 70-cover restaurant in Southside Street, Plymouth this week after making a “significant investment” transforming a dilapidated former shell shop. Dino Bali told the Plymouth Herald that he kept down the costs of opening the new restaurant, called Le Ziz, by designing the decor and doing much of the conversion work himself, alongside the six-strong team who will operate the diner. He also used reclaimed materials, such as wood for the bar and flooring, and retained the original shop front. But they spared no expense on kitchen equipment and key areas of the decor. Bali, a Turkish Kurd, said the name Le Ziz means “delicious in many languages” and the restaurant will serve a range of international cuisine including risotto, spaghetti and seafood. “We will have some Turkish food, but also Portuguese, Italian, Spanish, famous foods from all over the world,” he said. “It’s going to be the taste of the world. And my chefs have come from high-class schools in Turkey, they are famous back home. It’s taken some time but now it’s there. It’s going to be a successful business. It’s my dream and I did it from scratch without capital. I’m just grateful to all the people who have supported me.”

Belfast Harland and Wolff headquarters set be converted to boutique hotel: Planners have backed the conversion of Belfast’s historic Harland and Wolff headquarters into a four-star boutique hotel. The Titanic Foundation and Titanic Quarter plans to convert and refurbish the Harland and Wolff headquarters and drawing offices into an 84-bedroom hotel with heritage-related tourist and event facilities. The development could generate up to 250 jobs during construction and a further 75 once the hotel opens. Chief executive of the Titanic Foundation Kerrie Sweeney has told Insider Media: “The property was in a sorry state of repair and we didn’t know what use we could give it. We entered into a private sector partnership and the only option that was both viable and sustainable was that of a hotel.”

New craft beer pub and smokehouse concept coming to St Albans: Cellar Door Pubs is opening its second site in St Albans at the end of June. The site, which is on a Punch lease, will be called Craft & Cleaver, a craft beer and smokehouse concept, serving up racks of ribs, slow-smoked brisket and sharing platters, alongside craft beers, sodas and spirits, cocktails and small producer wines. Adam Richardson, joint director with his father, John, took on The White Horse in Welwyn Village five years ago with Punch Taverns, increasing turnover in the past 18 months alone by 20%. “The key is in the quality of the product,” said Adam, who last year won Let There Be Beer’s ‘Britain’s Best Pub Landlord’ award. “We’ve invested heavily in the site, and the staff. It pays to employ good staff on good wages. Better motivation leads to a better offering, and your customers reap the rewards.” Craft & Cleaver is undergoing a £350,000 refurbishment of the former Bar 62 site, which closed a year ago. Craft & Cleaver opens on Friday 29 June, and is a Living Wage employer.

Marston’s CFO – we’re predicting £100,000 profit per pub by end of 2015: Building more premium pubs and disposing of lower-end outlets is likely to see average profits per pub pass the £100,000 a year mark by the end of 2015, according to Andrew Andrea, the company’s chief finance officer. Speaking at a conference organised by Numis Securities in the City of London yesterday, Andreas said: “There are four pillars for growth in Marston’s strategy. We’re investing in new pub restaurants, £2.5m to £3m each, earning typically around £400,000 of Ebitda, improving returns, improving quality of pub earnings. Second, and very importantly, we operate right across the pub space: mainstream destination food, premium pubs and bars from Pitcher & Piano and Revere, a great community pubs business – the community pub is not dead – in our Taverns business, and Leased, which tends to be a food-led business, which means we can operate right across the pub arena. Thirdly, one of the reasons we launched franchise is that we believe directly controlling the consumer offer is absolutely critical if you want to maximise the profits from that pub. And to that end we’re targeting that 85% of our profits will be directly controlled by us, whether that be under a managed or franchised model. Finally, we have embarked on a significant disposal programme. We are selling assets at the lower end of our estate that we believe have no strategic value in the future. They won’t necessarily not be pubs in the future, but at Marston’s we don’t want to run them. Our progress on that has been pretty rapid. Back in 2013, we said, ‘We’ve got 2,050 pubs and we want to be an estate 500 pubs fewer by the end of 2016. We’re well on track to achieving those targets. For the half year at 2015, we’re at 1,632 pubs. That number will be below 1,600 by the end of this financial year. Most importantly, the drag on earnings that we’ve seen over the last 18 months or so in the company is pretty much over. Most of the disposals will have been done and we’ve got visibility of strong earnings growth going forward. The impact on our pub estate has been quite significant. In the first half of the year, average profit per pub was up 17%, with significant growth in taverns, which was a positive effect of selling low-income pubs and the out-performance of franchise. Our average profit per pub has grown by just under 30% over the past three years to £93,000. With a following wind, we think will go through £100,000 by the end of this financial year.” 

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