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Thu 11th Jun 2015 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Coffer Peach – pub and restaurant like-for-like sales rose 2.1% in May: Eating and drinking-out was up in May, with leading managed pub and restaurant groups seeing collective like-for-likes sales grow by 2.1% against the same month last year, according to latest data from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker. The strong trading numbers follow a tougher start to 2015, with like-for-like sales among the 30 companies that make up the Tracker cohort ahead only 1.2% in April after a marginal 0.3% decline in March. “This is a particularly encouraging performance, especially in a time of low inflation, and sees the sector return to the growth levels seen towards the end of last year,” said Peter Martin, vice president of CGA Peach, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker, in partnership with Coffer Group, Baker Tilly and UBS. “It also shows trading outside of London was equally as strong as inside the M25.” Total sales in May among the sample were ahead 6.2%, reflecting the continued rollout of new sites, especially of branded restaurants outside of London. “Overall, restaurant chains had the best of the month’s trading, with collective like-for-likes up 4.3% nationally, and ahead 5.3% away from London,” said Martin. “Total sales for the branded casual dining groups were up 12.5% on May last year, underlining the continuing fast pace of new site openings. Managed pub groups also saw positive, if more modest, growth in the month, with collective like-for-likes up 1.1% nationally and 0.9% outside of the M25.” He added. “The pub market away from London remains essentially flat, and what growth there is in the market is coming almost exclusively from food sales. Nationally food sales in pubs were up 4.5% in May, against a 0.9% decline in drink sales.” The effect of the weather on sales in the month was mixed, with May being sunnier than the average for the time of year, but also colder and wetter. David Coffer, chairman of the Coffer Group, said: “The most noticeable element of this month’s figures is that without exception each segment shows dramatic uplift in comparison to last year. Furthermore, the growth in total sales outside the M25 is 50% greater than central London, which is indicative of the trend that is beginning to dominate acquisitions in all sectors. Currently, the cost of London sites, in terms of both rents and premiums, has reached such a high level many operators are looking at expansion elsewhere in the UK – hopefully at a lesser cost. This is a trend we have seen in previous eras when the capital’s market becomes over inflated. However, operators should be wary that when the market inevitably cools the provinces and suburbs decline at a far greater rate than central London and they need to be careful of over-exposure.”

Industry News:

CAMRA hands in petition opposing new EU cider maker tax rules: CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, has handed in a petition with over 26,000 signatures to 10 Downing Street, calling on the government to support the cider sector by rejecting an EU tax on small producers. The EU has demanded that the government remove an existing tax exemption for small cider makers who produce fewer than 70 HL of cider a year, or about 33 pints a day. These producers are mainly hobbyists and farmgate producers, selling under £10,000 worth of cider a year, which means that the proposed tax bill of up to £2,700 a year would have a huge impact. The petition has secured the support of a number of MPs and MEPs, who have also written to the European commissioner and Treasury about this issue. David Warburton, MP for Somerton and Frome, joined CAMRA to hand in the petition. Andrea Briers, CAMRA national cider and perry committee chairman, said: “The European Union’s demand to increase tax costs for small cider producers will force many to close. If these producers are driven out of business it will dramatically reduce consumer choice and cause irreparable damage to one of the nation’s most historic industries.”

Host of pub and bar operators adopt new cask e-learning programme: Cask Beer Uncovered, an e-learning programme that builds bar staff’s knowledge of cask beer, is already being actively promoted by 18 pub and bar operators including Stonegate Pub Company, which is rolling the programme out to about 500 of its top cask beer pubs. In the two months since the launch of Cask Beer Uncovered, more than 2,000 bar staff and interested consumers have registered for the programme. Individuals are completing the modules either via their operator’s training platform with CPL Online, or through the Cask Matters website. Paul Nunny, of Cask Matters, said: “We’re very pleased with this initial response to Cask Beer Uncovered, which puts us firmly on track to meet our goal of putting 100,000 people through the programme within three years.” The course is completely free of charge to retailers and their staff and represents a £2m investment by Cask Matters. Funding for the programme has come from: Adnams, Caledonian Brewing, Carlsberg UK, Daniel Thwaites, Fuller’s, Greene King, Marston’s Beer Company, Punch Partnerships, Frederic Robinson, Shepherd Neame, St Austell, Wadworth, Charles Wells, SIBA, CAMRA and Cask Marque. CPL Online has provided its internet platform to deliver the training.

Value of crowdfunding to pass venture capital by 2016: The global crowdfunding industry is on track to account for more funding than venture capital by 2016, according to a report by Massolution. Five years ago there was a relatively small market of early adopters crowdfunding online to the tune of a reported $880m in 2010. A total of $16bn was crowdfunded in 2014, with 2015 estimated to grow to over $34bn. In comparison, the venture capital industry invests an average of $30bn each year. The crowdfunding industry is doubling or more, every year, and is spread across several types of funding models including rewards, donation, equity, and debt/lending.

David Forde set to become next chairman of the BBPA: David Forde, managing director of Heineken UK, will be proposed as the next chairman of the British Beer and Pub Association at its AGM in December as the successor to Jonathan Neame, chief executive of Shepherd Neame. Neame has been chairman of the British Beer & Pub Association since May 2012. Forde will serve for a one year term from December 2015. Forde said: “I am delighted at the prospect of succeeding Jonathan Neame. Jonathan has done a superb job representing our industry, galvanising the members to work together and leading effective campaigns delivering results for the whole industry – including a historic hat-trick of beer duty cuts. Beer and pubs are part of our national culture and if selected, I look forward to working even more closely with the BBPA team and members to represent our great industry.”

Company News:

Eclectic Group sells Norwich Lola Lo’s site to Be At One: Eclectic Group, the premium bar and nightclub operator led by Reuben Harley, has sold the lease on its Norwich Lola Lo’s to Be At One. Ian Freeman, spokesman for Eclectic, said the premises officially closed on Saturday. He added: “We have sold the lease, we had a very good offer for it and so for commercial reasons we decided to sell.” Norwich’s Lola Lo’s was the second of its kind to be launched in the UK. It replaced the former Po Na Na bar, which was also owned by Eclectic Bar Group. Meanwhile, Be At One has opened its Leeds site in Millennium Square. The venue has replaced the former Casa Mia and Teppan 260 site. Operations director Andrew Stones said: “Leeds is a great city to be opening in because it already has such a great cocktail bar scene which we really hope to contribute to. 18 jobs have been created for the new bar and we have been training the team in London over the past two months.”

Jason Manford comedy club to end Tiger Tiger slots in Manchester and Cardiff: Jason Manford is closing his weekly comedy clubs in Tiger Tiger sites in Manchester and Cardiff – and turning his Birmingham gig monthly. Players Bar in Birmingham was the first weekly venue in the Manfords chain. From that flagship site, which opened in May last year, Manfords now operates in more than 20 venues across the country. But from this month, the Midlands club will operate monthly rather than weekly, while his nights in the Tiger Tiger nightclubs in Manchester and Cardiff are to stop completely. Manford, who is currently on tour with The Producers, told Chortle: “It has been a learning curve in our first year and we have tried lots of different types of venues. We have learned that we all like purpose built performing spaces. There are always exceptions to this rule and across the country there are lots of successful comedy nights in pubs and clubs including two of ours at Newcastle City football ground and Pryzm in Leeds, which is a lovely room.”

Bath Ales moves into profit, considers new brewhouse: Bath Ales has reported a pre-tax profit £85,448 in the year to 31 August 2014 compared to a loss of £40,235. Turnover grew to £7,831,090 from £6,924,679 the year before. The company stated: “Our brand leader Gem has increased its market share once more and continues to make in-roads with the multiple retailers as a bottled beer. Gem is in the top ten beers nationally by volume in the premium bottled beer category. The growth has also transferred into improved gross profit at 48% (2013: 37.9%) with contributions from all parts of the business as the new brands gain traction. With a strong operating profit of £136,000 (2013: £15,000) for the year the business has strong foundations to build for the future. Plans are well advanced to consolidate brewing and packaging into Hare House and to that effect we are reviewing our options. There is an expectation that we can build a new brewhouse, upgrade the bottling and add extra capacity to kegging as well as exploring other avenues of current packaging trends.”

Redcomb acquires new site, on heads-of-terms with four more: Redcomb Pubs has acquired its latest site, The Cherry Tree in East Dulwich, a 20 year free-of-tie lease with Wellington Pub Company, bringing the estate to 14 venues. Managing director Dan Shotton said: “We are delighted to be taking over The Cherry Tree – it is a fabulous site and fits perfectly within our south-east London portfolio, having a high density of chimney pots, being located opposite a train station and having the largest external drinking space in the area. The site will be closed for approximately eight weeks to undergo a £400,000 refurbishment, to transform it into another one of our quality suburban community pubs. Our executive chef Chris Spencer will be using the site to trial some exciting new food concepts. Within our pub and rooms division, our latest site The Carnarvon Arms (located next to Highclere Castle near Newbury) opens next Thursday (18 June) after a £500,000 makeover. We now have a beautifully restored historic coaching inn with 18 individually styled letting rooms, which takes the groups rooms total over the 100 mark, which we aim to double over the next two years. I am really pleased with progress on our 2015 acquisition strategy, which continues to strengthen our balance sheet, cash flow and economies of scale. We are currently at heads of terms on four more sites which we will be able to announce shortly, along with exciting news on our investment and growth strategy for the next three years.”

Mexican brand El Guaca to open third site: Mexican restaurant brand El Guaca is to open its third site, this time in Colchester’s High Street. The restaurant will open in the former Layer Cake bar, next to the George pub. The move comes two months after the town’s only Mexican restaurant, Amigos, closed suddenly leaving 16 staff jobless. El Guaca has restaurants in Clacton and Maldon. It is the latest in a string of restaurants to open in the town centre, including Love Thy Burger, in High Street, and East Coast Diner, in Lion Walk, with Bill’s due to open in High Street next month. Bill Frame, borough councillor responsible for economic growth, said: “There is a real buzz in the town centre and each new restaurant is contributing to that.” El Guaca will open in July and will employ 15 staff. 

Yummy Pub Company appoints Ed Harper as operations director: Five-strong Yummy Pub Company has appointed Ed Harper as its operations director. Harper, who worked at Yummy previously as a general manger, returns to Yummy after almost two years away. He ran Loungers Market Harborough site and oversaw recruitment for two other sites and spent five months with Old Northampton Group as its group manager. Harper also spent two years earlier in his career as chef de partie at the Old Bridge Hotel in Huntingdon. In his blog, Yummy co-founder Tim Foster said: “We’re good. We’re very, very good. But we ain’t perfick. Ed, will make us ‘Perfick’... there’s no pressure, absolutely none.”

Agent offers Revolution investment for £2.3m: Agent Fleurets is marketing the freehold investment of the Revolution in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. The freehold property is subject to a lease to Revolution Bars Limited of 35 years from 24 June 1998, at a current rent of £168,788 per annum, subject to five-yearly upward only reviews to the greater of RPI (uncapped), 10% of gross turnover or market rental value. The next review is due 24 June 2018. Graeme Bunn, from Fleurets, said: “This is a great investment opportunity. An unexpired lease term of 18 years, without break, to a newly floated public company with strong brands, and uncapped RPI rent increases in a rare and desirable investment.” Offers are invited in the region of £2.3m, which reflects a net initial yield of 6.9% after purchaser’s costs of 5.8%.

‘Disruptive’ corporate catering company City Pantry raises £300,000 for expansion: City Pantry, an online catering platform, has raised £300,000 in a seed money fund-raising led by TrueStart – the retail and consumer sector specialist innovation hub. The start-up, which launched in 2014 is on a mission to disrupt the £8bn UK catering market. The company, which enables corporates to order catering from independent food vendors such as pop-ups, talented chefs and street-vendors via a slick tech platform, and delivered right to their office, has been revenue generating since inception. The business has seen strong growth thus far focused specifically on providing London corporate and tech employee lunches. The capital will be used to improve the digital and service experience for customers, to expand the supplier base and to move into other areas of corporate catering. “With this investment we’re able to continue on our mission to make corporate catering better,” founder Stuart Sunderland said. “When people think of the word ‘catering’ they tend to think of egg mayonnaise triangles and vol-au-vents and this is probably fair because the industry hasn’t really moved on that much since the 90’s. We are trying to change this by giving large companies the ability to access people that make amazing food, and making it easy and pain free to order this awesome food.” Paul Cocker, co-founder of TrueStart and investment firm True Capital, said: “At TrueStart we look for disruptive businesses with exposure to a huge market, led by outstanding entrepreneurs. In Stuart and City Pantry I believe we have found a business with great potential and I’m excited to be part of their future.”

Nando’s setting up shop at three major UK music festivals: Nando’s will be making an appearance at three major UK music festivals this summer. The company will set up its Cock O’Van at Lovebox on 17-18 July at Victoria Park, London; Camp Bestival between 31 July and August 2 at Lulworth Castle in Dorset and Bestival from 10-13 September at Robin Hood Country Park on the Isle of Wight. Nando’s has had to scale down the menu but will have a festival appropriate no-cutlery-needed offering of burgers, wraps and wings with sides of chips and corn, reports the Metro. The top of the food van will double as a stage, although it has not been revealed which artists will be using it to perform.

Costa Coffee – contactless mobile payments across all devices the next step after Apple Pay: Costa Coffee says the introduction of Apple Pay to its stores is “just the beginning” and wants to help develop technology that will see contactless payments accepted across all mobile devices. The company is one of a number of retailers that will accept Apple Pay when it launches next month, allowing customers to use their iPhone 6 or Apple Watch to make their purchase securely and easily by touching their device on contactless pads. However, Costa Coffee head of mobile and loyalty Jon Fisher believes the next step is for customers to be able to use contactless payments regardless of what phone they have. He told Propel: “We are keen to provide great service to customers and keep them coming back to Costa by investing in these initiatives. We look at how we can support our customers and our teams and we think Apple Pay will help us do that. But I think this is just the beginning and we now we have to look at what we can do for other phones. The logical step is to get all mobiles to accept contactless payments. I think that’s the way the market is going.” Apple Pay will be available across all Costa Coffee owned stores and the company is working with franchisees in an effort to get “as many as possible” to adopt the system ahead of the launch. “At the end of the day we are one brand,” said Fisher. “We want customers to have the same experience across all our stores and whether it’s next year or the year after we want them to accept mobile payments.” Fisher says the company is continuing to invest in technology including developing its mobile app and trialling digital menu boards in stores in the next six to 12 months. “We’re always looking at new ideas and initiatives but at the end of the day we have to make sure it works for our teams and customers,” he added.

Red’s True Barbecue pops up at the Old Blue Last pub: London live music venue and pub the Old Blue Last in Shoreditch is set to play host to a pop-up residency from Red’s True Barbecue. Ahead of the restaurant’s forthcoming London debut opening in late July, the pub, which is owned by Vice, has handed over its top floor event space to become a four-week temporary home for the leading barbecue brand. The Red’s Pop Up, which launches today (Thursday 11 June), will feature a stripped down menu every Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and will offer up weekly specials inspired by the company’s annual road trip Pilgrimage to the States. A partnership with Red Church Brewery will provide local craft beers. James Douglas, Red’s co-founder, said: “The Old Blue Last is the ideal place for us to host our pop up – a perfect brand fit and just down the road from our soon to open site. It’s a great chance for us to introduce the brand to the people of Shoreditch and build some early momentum ahead of the restaurant’s launch at the back end of July.” Red’s Shoreditch will open on 54-56 Great Eastern Street. The 5,500 sq ft building, which is benefitting from a £1.4m fit-out, will feature 150-covers split over two floors.

Birmingham’s Michelin-starred restaurant finds new home: Birmingham’s Michelin-starred Adam’s is set to move to Waterloo Street in the Colmore district. The locally listed New Oxford House, opposite Pure Bar & Grill, is set to be renovated for Adam’s, headed up by celebrated chef Adam Stokes, to move in if proposals get the green light. Plans have been submitted to Birmingham City Council to convert three floors of office space into a restaurant, which will see the celebrated venture expand. Adam’s won its Michelin star, while at its “pop up” home on Bennetts Hill but the art deco New Oxford House will be its permanent home. The new restaurant will boast more dining space as well as a chef’s table, open kitchen, glazed wine room and a development kitchen.

Iconic former Bramwell Pub Company venue in Newcastle to re-open: Trillians Bar in Newcastle, a former Bramwell Pub Company site that closed in November 2013 when the company went into administration, is to re-open tomorrow (Friday 12 June). The popular rock bar in Newcastle has been given a new lease of life in a move that has created 12 new jobs. Trillians Bar, located on Princess Square, had been a stalwart of the Newcastle live music scene for more than 30 years. It was taken over for a short period in 2014 but closed again soon after. Dave Hills, Trillians’ sound engineer of 23 years, and former long-time customer Barbara Blair have acquired the lease and have since undertaken a major refurbishment. Blair, a former IT consultant, said: “Dave and I are huge supporters of Trillians having worked and socialised at the bar for more than 30 years. As we are part of the rock community here in Newcastle, we know how important it is to get the venue back up and running.”

Hammerson confirms TGI Friday’s signing for ‘small footprint’ store at Reading Oracle: Property company Hammerson has confirmed TGI Friday’s has signed to take a site at The Oracle in Reading. TGI Friday’s has signed to take a 3,375 sq ft restaurant on a 15-year lease. In a move that is the first of its kind to be rolled out nationally, the brand has taken a unit that provides them with a smaller footprint. Due to open in the autumn this year, the new look store will be located alongside Côte restaurant. Last week, Argentinian-inspired steak restaurant CAU made its UK shopping centre debut, opening its doors to The Oracle’s diners. Sarah Fox, head of restaurants and leisure at Hammerson, said: “By refreshing our tenant mix it ensures that The Oracle continues to have all the elements to ensure that our customers have a fantastic retail, leisure and dining experience when they visit, which is why the centre enjoys a loyal customer base and strong footfall. TGI is a great addition to The Oracle’s riverside dining offer and we look forward to welcoming them.”

JD Wetherspoon submits Headingley pub conversion plan: JD Wetherspoon has submitted plans for a controversial project to transform the grade II-listed Elinor Lupton Centre in Headingley into a pub. The application comes after campaigners in the suburb united against the proposal at the end of last year when it emerged the pub chain had bought the historic building on Headingley Lane. Once a theatre and music centre, it has remained empty since 2010 after the old Leeds Girls’ High School closed but some residents had hoped the building would be brought back into use for local community groups rather than another pub. Wetherspoon’s application said it was “attracted to this building due to its architectural interest as this fits in with [our] standard ‘model’ of bringing historic buildings back into use”.

Marylebone Leisure Group’s Barsmith site wins best bar in London award: Marylebone Leisure Group (MLG) has won the best bar in London category at the 2015 London Club and Bar Awards for its Farringdon site Barsmith. The company beat off competition from the likes of Mahiki and Novikov to land the accolade at the ceremony at the Intercontinental in Park Lane. MLG founder Lawrence Santi received the award on behalf of the team at Barsmith, which officially launched less than a year ago, and prides itself on its in-house infused spirits and cocktails. The company’s other brands include newly launched Clerkenwell & Social, also in Farringdon, Bar Italia in Uxbridge, The Marylebone in Marylebone and the Princess of Wales in Primrose Hill. A judging panel that included Justin Berkmann, owner of Ministry of Sound, and industry supremo Philip Salon decided the winners with Cirque Le Soir picking up best club and best night, Doug Wendel named best promoter and Mahiki’s Georgi Radev the Jagermeister bartender of the year. The London Club and Bar Awards, which is now in its 21st year, was created by Mark Armstrong to celebrate the capital’s continual delivery of some of the globe’s most exciting and original entertainment.

Independent coffee shop to expand with much bigger second site with roastery: Independent Exeter coffee shop Devon Coffee has bought the former premises of Posy Bowl florists in Heavitree Road, to create a new shop where customers will be able to view the coffee roasting process. Devon Coffee opened its first cafe in Queen Street three years ago and has been looking to expand by opening additional premises in the city. Founder Steve Pearson said: “Our motto is good coffee well made by nice people, and Queen Street has been really successful. We now roast all our own coffee on a hand built roaster and the Heavitree Road idea is really about a retail roastery and coffee shop. That area is potentially an up-and-coming area. It will be something really special – there isn’t anything like it in Exeter at the moment. In the basement there will be a small retail roastery with some seating so you get that ambience of something happening on site. It will be freshly roasted coffee on a small scale which we will sell from the two locations as well as e-commerce.”

BrewDog off-licence in Edinburgh upsets residents: Plans by BrewDog for a “BottleDog” off-licence in Edinburgh’s New Town have come under fire from residents, who have branded them “detrimental to health”. The company wants to open a retail operation in Dundas Street and has also applied for children’s access to its existing BrewDog bar in the Cowgate. Promising “a new take on the bottle shop concept”, the New Town venture is set to feature innovations including tastings and educational events. BrewDog also wanted to host live music in a bid to draw as many customers as possible but that element of the application has been withdrawn, with directors confirming that only recorded background music will be played. Stephen Hogan, of BrewDog, said: “Whilst our other bars’ licences permit children’s access to a certain time, BrewDog Edinburgh currently doesn’t so we are bringing this in line with the rest of our bar portfolio. With regards to the BottleDog application, it is created as a retail store not a bar, and whilst we’ve actually removed live music from the application, we will be playing low level background music as per the vast majority of retail stores. It will of course be subject to Edinburgh’s standard inaudibility condition, so there’s no need for noise worries.”

Banwell House Pub Company sub-lets village site: Banwell House Pub Company, led by Toby Brett, has sub-let one of its pubs on a five-year free-of tie tenancy agreement. The Duke of Cumberland, Holcombe, was the first pub the group purchased back in 2010. The decision was made when discussing the future progression of the pub’s general manager and the understanding that the success of the pub was more dependent on the style of the manager than some of the other pubs in the group. The Duke of Cumberland is in a small village in a rural part of Somerset with little passing trade and relies on regular repeat custom of the local trade. The new tenants Steve and Jo Sawyer took over on 8 June 2015. Banwell House Pub Company retains the freehold and the couple will benefit from the pub company’s buying power. Brett said: “While I am sad not to be operationally involved with the Duke any more, especially at a time it is trading so well and we have a good team in place, I am pleased we have let it to Steve and Jo who can run it as owner operators and continue the pub’s success. This will allow me more time to develop my new business that should be completing in the next few weeks. We have entered into a lease that offers them the chance to benefit from the group’s buying power in an agreement which is totally transparent.” Banwell House Pub Company operates four pubs in Bath, Wiltshire and Somerset.

First WingsEggs restaurant opens in Fulham Broadway: The first WingsEggs, a restaurant that specialises in serving chicken wings and eggs in many forms, has opened in Fulham Broadway. The outlet, located in North End Road, near Stamford Bridge – the home of Chelsea FC – seats 45 diners and has a quirky interior design including the doorway designed like a red phone box. Chef JP Tanti, formerly at the Hoxton Grill, has researched recipes from across the world to come up with the menu that sits alongside a selection of European beers. The wings menu includes Dita Maltese, a chicken dish with peanuts and honey, and Fulham Jerk, which is Jamaican-style marinated wings while the egg dishes feature the Lost Sailor, a dish of scrambled Burford eggs with crayfish and avocado and Sweet Sisters, which are fried quail eggs cooked with chicken, corn and red pepper. The craft beers on offer include Fruh, Chimay, Erdinger and Orchard Pig. Diners can choose to pick up their wings and eat them with their fingers or have them deboned and served either in a brioche or for a salad. WingsEggs, which also offers a takeaway service, is open from 5pm-11pm from Monday to Friday and noon-11pm on Saturday and Sunday. 

Hoteliers double up in Bath with Villa Magdala deal: The historic five-star Villa Magdala bed and breakfast in Bath has been acquired by the owners of the city’s Abbey Hotel for an undisclosed sum. Hoteliers Ian and Christa Taylor have bought the 20-bedroom property, which is situated on Henrietta Road. Ian Taylor said: “We are delighted to have acquired a second site in the city and we see great synergies between the two properties. With a strong business base in place for the summer months we will continue to operate without making any immediate changes; however we look forward to developing the business going forward and introducing new ideas and concepts that will enhance the offering.”

Robinsons reports 42% growth in export sales because of craft beer popularity: Stockport-based Robinsons Brewery has reported 42% like-for-like growth in export sales after creating two special craft beers, 9 Hop IPA and Steam Lager, to answer the continuing demands of the global market. The two new beers have already received interest from several key countries and have opened new export trading routes to Trinidad and Tobago, a country that the brewer has never exported to before. Research by the BBPA (British Beer and Pub Association) in early 2014 has shown that British beer exports are worth £629m to the UK and exports outside the EU have grown by 46.2% in volume since 2008. Ben Robinson, head of sales for Robinsons Brewery, said: “The rise of craft beer is helping reach out to a new audience of drinkers and is thus driving sales. Innovative brews from microbreweries are en vogue and these new craft beers are a further chance for Robinsons to branch out into this demographic on a global platform.” The two new beers have been created to capitalise on the popularity of lagers and the rise of India Pale Ale style beers. In the US alone, IPA’s are soaring with volume up 47% and one in every five beers sold being an IPA.

Molson Coors acquires Staropramen exclusive distribution rights in UK from Carlsberg: Brewer Molson Coors will be able to supply Staropramen beer to its direct free-trade customers from 31 July after acquiring the exclusive distribution rights in the UK from Carlsberg. The deal allows Carlsberg to continue selling Staropramen to its existing UK customers until 27 December 2015 after which Molson Coors takes over the rights exclusively in both the on and off-trade. Molson Coors says Staropramen will add “further strength and breadth” to its world beer line up joining brands including Grolsch and Cobra. Marketing director for Molson Coors UK and Ireland Martin Coyle said: “By bringing the Staropramen brand into the Molson Coors UK portfolio we are able to provide our customers a more comprehensive and premium drink offer that we hope will delight the UK’s beer drinkers.” Carlsberg UK chief executive James Lousada said the deal “represented excellent business” as it represents a “very small portion” of its overall sales. Molson Coors acquired StarBev in 2012, which included the Staropramen brand that has sales in more than 40 countries worldwide.

Roadchef to trial Spar stores: Roadchef will trial Spar stores at two of its motorway service stations with view to rolling it out across the network. The company will open the outlets at Strensham on the M5 at the beginning of July, which will be followed by Northampton on the M1. Roadchef chief executive Simon Turl said: “We spent a great deal of time analysing a wide range of options available to us in the marketplace to best match what our customers have told us they require from a grocery store on the motorway. We chose the Spar brand due to their industry-leading store design and presentation together with the strength of their distribution platform which gives us access to a huge range of products at great value prices.” Spar UK managing director Debbie Robinson said: “We are looking forward to showcasing our latest store concept on these two sites, which will include a bakery and our new Daily Deli foodservice offering.”

Iceland reports sales and profit slip amid discount competition: Iceland Foods, the privately-owned grocer based on Deeside, has seen sales and profits hit hard by competition from low cost rivals such as Aldi and Lidl. The company, led by entrepreneur Malcolm Walker, said earnings in the 52 weeks to March 27 were down 25% at £150.2m on sales of £2.69bn, down 0.5% on the previous year. Walker said the company had to respond to several significant challenges with new product innovation and the launch of a new Food Warehouse store concept.

Propel Conference on 2 July at the Oxford Belfry: Multi-site operators can book up to two free places at the Propel Multi Club Conference on Thursday 2 July at the Oxford Belfry, followed by the summer party by emailing jo.charity@propelinfo.com. Cyril Lavenant, of NPD Group, looks at the current performance of the UK foodservice market, areas of growth and how the UK is performing within a European context. Steven Pike, managing director of HospitalityGem, talks about what operators can learn from listening to their customers and how it can drive sales. Berry Casey, founder of pioneering better burger brand Hache, celebrating its 10th birthday, talks about the better burger market, evolving and staying ahead in the increasingly crowded better burger market. Corrado Accardi, founder of Pizza Rossa, talks about transforming the pizza offer, creating an award-winning business plan, going through two rounds of successful crowdfunding and planning to expand the company. Keith Knowles, chief executive of Beds & Bars, explains how the company’s food beverage and accommodation performance has been transformed in the past 18 months. Giggling Squid founder Andy Laurillard, who was previously head of brand strategy and innovation at TUI, talks about his company’s steps towards becoming the first UK national Thai restaurant brand. Industry consultant Eddy Passey provides his top ten operational tips gleaned during a career that has spanned working at high volume beds, bars and buffet businesses. Darren Tristano, vice president of research and insights form Technomic, provides an overview of the most interesting and innovative new concept launches in the US in the past year. Jamie Barber talks about how his Brazilian barbecue brand Cabana was developed from scratch, its birth, evolution and future prospects. James Hacon, managing director of Elliotts, talks about the future of sector marketing with Georgia Hall, brand and marketing manager for Cafe Rouge, Kate Cargill, group marketing manger Hix restaurants and Tim Foster, head of being awesome at Yummy Pubs. Sector investor and Patisserie Valerie executive chairman Luke Johnson sets out the ten key steps in turning Patisserie Valerie into a national brand.

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