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Fri 29th May 2015 - Update: RHWB, JDW, Nando's, pub stock, Wildwood
Red Hot World Buffet tweaks Leicester offer after slow start: Red Hot World Buffet is to tweak its menu at its Leicester venue after interim chief executive James Horler admitted the 10-month-old restaurant was "doing less well than we thought". Horler told Propel: "We're less busy than we though we would be. We would like to be doing 20% more sales than we are. But we've had competition – Leicester has had an abundance of openings. Since we opened there have been Frankie & Benny's, Bill's, Byron, the list goes on and on of the people that have come in. I think every restaurant is finding it quite difficult. But we are still the third busiest restaurant in Highcross, and we're still in our first year, in month ten. We're still looking at developing the food offering around the mix of audience, and in fact that's happening next week. We're changing our Indian range to be slightly more modern Indian, It was quite traditional Indian, with bhajees and things like that. We believe, from some work we did last week, that that needs to be changed to be more modern Indian flavours. That is being actioned next week. We've got a great site, we've got a great team and we've got to improve our range of food for the audience. I'm confident that we'll get there. It was a big investment and sometimes you start slowly and build up to where you want to get to, sometimes you overtrade and come off. In a way I feel more comfortable that it's growing all the time. It won't go into reverse, it will just keep growing as we get better and better at what we do." Elsewhere in the Red Hot World Buffet estate, Horler said, "we have new competition in Cardiff and in Nottingham, we've felt a bit of impact in Cardiff, but in Nottingham I've been surprised: we thought the impact would be greater than it has been. What it's actually done is brought the city more towards where we and Cosmo are, and the people who are suffering are on Upper Parliament Street, where you've got, for example, Peachy Keen's. I'm surprised that we have not felt it more." Meanwhile, Horler said, "there's going to be a period of consolidation in the buffet market. We're now consolidating, because there is competitor activity on certain sites and what we've got to do is to continue to do better with what we have. Some of our competitors have had issues as well. With Jimmy's, we know a couple of their sites are now causing them some concerns because of competition, they have just opened in Brighton but they're going to pull back on openings. We know Cosmo is pulling back on their openings, they have pulled out of Blackpool, pulled out of Oxford, closing in York, closed Leeds – so they are also having their own issues. The one thing with the buffet space is that because these are such large restaurants, if the market becomes too crowded, all it does is, when a new one opens, it doesn't grow the market by the volume of the latest opening it grows the market a very small percentage, and the other players are less busy. I think everyone is realising that. They're very expensive – just the wage costs alone to produce 184 dishes fresh in every one of our restaurants at midday takes a huge amount of labour. It's a big infrastructure."
Jamie Rollo – P/E ratio for pub company stocks remain furthest away from 2007 peak: The average price-to-earnings ratio of pub company stocks remains the furthest away from their 2007 peak of all the major leisure sector sub-segments, Morgan Stanley's leisure analyst, Jamie Rollo, has declared. Rollo said: "Hotel stocks have continued to re-rate, and are now at peak multiples, and are the highest of any sub-sector. Foodservice stocks’ ratings have risen continuously for six years, and are now at prior peak levels. Since the 2008/9 recession, the P/E ratings of tour operators, betting companies and pub companies have tracked closely and all have remained broadly flat over the last year, at the lower end of the wider group. The P/E multiple for pubs is the lowest of any sub-sector and remains the furthest away from its (2007) peak during the period."
Wetherspoon refused permission for fifth Brighton & Hove pub: JD Wetherspoon has been refused permission to open its fifth branch in the city of Brighton & Hove. The company wanted to take over the old Co-Op in London Road, Brighton  but Brighton & Hove Council has turned down the application on the grounds of loss of retail space and because it would create a noise nuisance. Wetherspoon told the Brighton & Hove News it respected the decision but might appeal. A spokesman said: “We are very keen to open a pub on that site. However, we respect the views of the planning authority. We will now decide whether to appeal against the decision or not, but it will be a little while before we make that decision.” The council’s head of planning, Martin Randall said that among his reasons for refusal was his belief that the proposal "would have an adverse impact on the vitality, viability and character of the London Road town centre. The proposed use would introduce a large drinking establishment into an area where there are already a number of large drinking establishments within 400 metres of the application site. The applicant has failed to demonstrate that the use would not cause a noise nuisance or increase in disturbance by reason of people leaving the premises late at night and dispersing to other destinations. The proposed, recessed seating area, balustrading and plinth, folding aluminium doors and air intake grills, would result in an incongruous shopfront which would be of harm to the character and appearance of the locally listed retained façade.” Wetherspoon already has four pubs across the city, two in the main centre of Brighton, one at Brighton Marina and one in Hove.
Lacons Brewery to open first pub in 50 years in partnership with Henry Watt: The Great Yarmouth-based Lacons Brewery is to open its first pub in 50 years in partnership with the veteran Norfolk operator and founder of Animal Inns Henry Watt. Lacons will be opening the Honingham Buck in Honingham, eight miles west of Norwich, to showcase Lacons' range of ales. The pub has been restored while, Lacons said, retaining its historic appeal. A new dining area has been created along with a new kitchen, new toilets, disabled facilities and additional parking to create a "contemporary community pub". Next year the pub will offer accommodation with eight bedrooms. Mick Carver of Lacons Brewery, said: “Lacons' rich history dates back to 1760, and its pubs and ales were synonymous with the local community. The opportunity to work with Henry Watt in creating a community pub for today perfectly complements our vision for Lacons. Henry’s reputation and passion for quality, which are captured in his vision for the Honingham Buck, make it the perfect choice for Lacons first pub in over 50 years.” Watt said: “I have known Mick Carver since my first days in the trade, when I opened Hectors House in 1990. Since then we have always shared a mutual love of our respective trades. I knew when he revived the Lacons Brewery that it would be done with passion and respect for one of the region’s great historical brewers, as is exemplified by their use of the original Lacons yeast strains in all of their ales. A business built purely on quality convinced me that this would be a really exciting partnership to create.”
Tasty secures first site for Wildwood in Lincolnshire: Tasty has secured its first Wildwood site in Lincolnshire. It plans to open at the former Mall Shopping Centre in Lincoln. Tim Bradford, managing director of Banks Long & Co, which oversaw the let, said: "We have turned down a number of wet-led late night bar operations in favour of Wildwood, which offers a top-quality dining experience, including a small bar and retail area. This new name for Lincoln signals new jobs and continues the revitalisation process being seen throughout the city centre. It is great news for Lincoln." Samuel Kaye, joint chief executive of Tasty, said: "We are really excited to be opening a restaurant in Lincoln. The city has been on our radar for some time. We recognise how Lincoln has improved, with an expanding economy and a surge in tourist and student numbers." The developers of The Mall hope to submit a planning application to revamp the site within the next two weeks. The aim is to have Wildwood ready to be completely fitted out and open for Christmas.
McDonald’s to open new flagship in Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester: McDonald’s is to open a new flagship branch in Piccadilly Gardens in Manchester, creating 65 jobs. The company has been given permission by Manchester Council to move into the current Co-Op store in Market Street, which is in the basement of a listed building. The Co-Op told the Manchester Evening News that it has no plans to replace the shop, saying it had other stores in the city, and was unsure when the branch would shut. McDonald’s already has restaurants in the Arndale Centre and St Ann’s Square, which are less than half a mile from the new outlet.
Amanzi closes its doors: The high-profile Liverpool restaurant Amanzi has closed its doors for regular trading after just five months, the Liverpool Echo has reported. The Water Street venue was opened on the site of the former Newz bar in December, after a multi-million pound refurbishment. A spokesman told The Echo: “We have taken the decision to temporarily close Amanzi in order to address some internal issues. The venue will, however, continue to open for major events such as our popular bank holiday brunches and weddings. The short break in trading will allow us the opportunity to perfect our customer experience as we make some major improvements. All staff and suppliers have been paid in full. We look forward to sharing news about our exciting future plans in the very near future.” There were high hopes for the concept according to its website, which said: “Amanzi has been created following a multi-million pound refurbishment of the former Newz bar, sets the gold standard for cocktails, service and food, raising the bar in hospitality. The owners of Amanzi have chosen Liverpool as the perfect location for the first Amanzi restaurant. Amanzi will soon extend to Dubai, Los Angeles and Las Vegas.”
Nando's defends flirtatious tweet: Nando's has defended a flirtatious tweet sent from its official account asking for the home address of a female customer. The message was posted after a Twitter user, identified only as Elle, posted: "I thought I could handle Nando's hot chicken. But boyyyy the way my mouth was burning." Nando's staff then used the chain's official account to reply: "Can't handle the heat Elle? ;-)", to which Elle responded: "I can handle it, I just choose not to actually." In an apparently flirtatious response, the spicy chicken restaurant chain then tweeted: "Well why not DM us your address and we'll see if we can test that ;-)". A Nando's spokesman insisted the message was purely innocent. "We like to have fun with our customers on Twitter and reward our loyal fans," the chain told the Daily Telegraph. "We wanted to send Elle a bottle of hot sauce in response to her tweet, which is where the reference to ‘handling the heat’ comes from. We would never intentionally offend someone and when we realised we may have done so, deleted the tweet. This is not something we would usually do.”
Freshii owner writes open letter to McDonald's boss suggesting co-location: The founder of the American healthy eating brand Freshii has written an open letter to McDonald's chief executive, Steve Easterbrook, suggesting co-location as an answer to the McDonald's sales growth problems in the United States, and a way to expand the provision of fresh healthy food across the US at a much faster speed. Freshii's founder, Matthew Corrin, who has 160 sites, said: "I'm dead serious about this. I like PR, but I'm not spending a quarter million dollars on a PR stunt." Adding a small, 150-square-foot Freshii stand to any McDonalds in the country would help McDonald's franchises, and boost the fresh options offered around the country, Corrin said, and filling the thousands of McDonalds locations with Freshii stands will bring fresh, healthy food to all demographics across the US at lightning speed. Corrin promises in the letter that if Freshii has not boosted the test McDonald's location in a year, he would refund any money the locations lose. Freshii offers salads, wraps, bowls and burritos made from fresh vegetables, proteins and sauces.

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