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Thu 25th Jun 2015 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

LT reports profits boost as it signs more long-term management contracts: LT Management Services, the UK’s largest outsourced operator of pubs, restaurants, nightclubs and hotels, led by Billy Buchanan, has reported an almost 50% increase in pre-tax profit in the year to 28 December 2014. The company, which operates about 1,000 sites on behalf of private equity companies, investment funds, banks, administrators and other owners, saw pre-tax profit climb to £601,000 compared to £407,000 in the year before. Turnover for the year was £11,251,000. LT provides a full range of outsourced services to its clients ranging from back office accounting and payroll services to full operational management of pubs and other leisure assets across a range of both large and small clients. LT also provides outsourced services to a number of well-known high street brands. A spokesman for LT Management Services said: “The growth in profit is linked to improved prospects for the leisure sector generally with an increasing number of long-term management contracts and reduced short-term administration work. The company is well-positioned for significant expansion this year with a number of new management contracts at an advanced state of negotiation.”

Industry News:

The Londonist – an Antic London pub seems to herald the vanguard of gentrification: The Londonist blog has claimed the arrival of an Antic London pub in a London suburb often heralds its gentrification. The publication made the comment while reporting that Antic London’s Catford site is under threat of lease termination in 2016. It stated:  “It’s also easy to walk past the area’s best pub, the Catford Constitutional Club, hidden as it is down an alley. Allow us a brief detour into recent history, if you will. The Antic chain was originally invited to take over the Catford Bridge Tavern by the council and local police, after it all got a bit stabby. They did a magnificent job of turning the pub around but were then turfed out by the landlord, who tried to turn it into flats and a mini supermarket (a local campaign put the dampers on that idea). So they moved into the old Conservative club, serving a range of decent ales and excellent food, in a cosily dark, cavernous space with rickety old parquet flooring and splendidly decorated toilets. We’ve been known to sniff at what we’re terming ‘Anticification’: the way Antic pubs seem to be the vanguard of gentrification in any given area, but they do run excellent pubs. Which makes its imminent demise, courtesy of the Catford Plan, all the more galling. The Catford Constitutional has set up a petition to have its lease extended, as it currently runs out in October 2016. It’s addressed to the council and the Catford Regeneration Partnership Limited, the company created to buy up all the leases in the shopping centre.”

Anheuser-Busch to invest $1.5bn in US operations: Anheuser-Busch InBev NV plans to invest about $1.5bn in its US operations over the next three years, as the world’s largest brewer moves to shore up its sales in the country. The move comes months after the company said it would cut an undisclosed number of jobs in the US. Anheuser-Busch also consolidated its sales force and reduced its number of sales regions. The brewer said about half of the new spending will help fund brewery and packaging expansion projects, with most of the remainder going toward efficiency efforts. The company said several efforts in the US are under way, including a $150m expansion project in St Louis, where it is based, and an $11m campaign to develop new products such as Bud Light Mixxtails.

Jamie Oliver – I’ve messed up with 40% of my business ventures:
Jamie Oliver has admitted he has “messed up about 40%” of business ventures he has embarked on. “Some people think I am a businessman or massively strategic,” he said, speaking with PR executive Richard Edelman at the Cannes Lions festival. “[But] I worked out the other day, I took a little review of my 17 years – we’ve done all right, I’ve sold a few books and we’ve made a few quid – I realised that I think I wasted and messed up about 40%.” Oliver said while the failures have been “painful” he has come to consider the learning curve as research and development. “I don’t know if that is acceptable or not acceptable,” he said. “That 40% is quite painful. But then I sit back and look at it: Would I change anything? Did the mistakes not teach me powerful lessons? I’m trying to turn those mistakes into what maybe you guys call research and development. What is the percentage of turnover that is right for innovation? What is healthy? Is it 10%, 20%? Is 40% reckless? FoodTube is a giant experiment really. I wanted FoodTube to bring on new talent. There is a real disconnect between what the public want and what broadcasters traditionally want. That is a new opportunity for digital to actually do something pioneering.”

Darden Restaurants to place property portfolio into a real estate property trust: Darden Restaurants, whose entire board was replaced last year after a battle with activist investor Starboard Value, a hedge fund, will split off about 430 properties and transfer them to a real estate investment trust (REIT), following through on a promise made by its new bosses. The REIT, which will be publicly traded, will lease back the properties to Darden, according to a statement on Tuesday. Darden, the owner of Olive Garden and other casual-dining chains, is also selling about 75 individual restaurants under separate deals. More than 30 of those properties have already been sold or are under contract, the company said. Proceeds from the real estate deal should help Darden retire about $1bn of debt.

Norwich City Council adopts Cumulative Impact Policy: Norwich City Council has voted to introduce a Cumulative Impact Policy to limit the opening of new bars and clubs in the area around Prince of Wales Road. The council approved the new powers after officers from Norfolk police spent months pulling together evidence of the problems of violence and anti-social behaviour they face when policing the city’s clubbing district. They claimed the opening of new bars last year led to increasing levels of violence, with an extra six officers drafted in to police the city’s clubland on Saturday nights. The policy will apply to premises asking for a licence, or a change to a current licence, for selling alcohol or late night refreshment between 9pm and 6am. The council said the policy “will be reviewed regularly to assess whether it is still needed or should be expanded”, reports the Eastern Daily Press. City Hall now needs to publish a notice that it intends to revise its licensing rules, and the policy will come in a month later.

Company News:

BrewDog reports pre-tax profit boost: Newly-filed accounts at Companies House show BrewDog generated a pre-tax profit of £3.65m in 2014, an increase of almost 55% on the previous year, on turnover 64% higher at £29.6m. Co-founder James Watt said: “2014 saw us become a living wage employer, grow our team to over 350 people and send our craft beers to over 50 countries.” The company’s accounts show that its highest-paid director received a total of £129,080 for 2014, up from £100,000 the previous year, while its total wage bill swelled by almost three-quarters to £6.4m following a sharp rise in its headcount.

Buenos Aires Cafe launches third venue in Greenwich: Argentinian-inspired Buenos Aires Cafe has launched its third venue in Greenwich, south east London. The company, started by husband and wife team Reinaldo and Kate Vargas in 2005, has opened its latest restaurant in Nelson Road. The venue, which is a blend of its existing outlets in Greenwich and Blackheath, can seat 80 diners in two rooms and also has outdoor seating in a sheltered patio garden. The menu includes new fish dishes to go with the steak, chicken and lamb on offer, a full hot breakfast menu, afternoon tea and cake and picadas (Argentinian tapas). Buenos Aires opened its first cafe and deli in Royal Hill, Greenwich, in 2005 and also has a restaurant in Royal Parade, Blackheath.

Gusto backer closes third fund: Palatine Private Equity, the UK regional lower middle-market private equity firm that backed the Gusto management team in a buy-out from Living Ventures, has closed its Palatine Private Equity Fund III having raised £220m. The firm’s latest fund exceeds the size of its second fund, which raised £150m in 2013. Fund III launched and closed in 11 weeks and was significantly oversubscribed, securing commitments from investors including UK, European, North American and Asian public and private pension plans, insurance companies, funds of funds, family offices and high-net-worth individuals. Palatine was founded in 2005 and raised its maiden £100m fund in 2007.

Mowgli to expand into Manchester: Indian street food restaurant Mowgli is to expand into Manchester, opening in the Corn Exchange this summer. Mowgli is the brainchild of barrister turned restaurateur Nisha Katona who aims to bring a new, fresh, honest articulation of Indian food to the heart of Manchester, following on from the success of its sister site in Liverpool, which opened last October. Katona plans to bring honest Indian food to the three-level, 200-cover restaurant in Exchange Square. Mowgli’s menu is built around the idea of “chat”, small plates of explosive, virtuosic flavours featuring the tang and zing of tamarind and coriander. It features cool, edgy, twisted, street and home-grown dishes with fresh clean flavours at the heart of each one.

Turnover passes £50m mark at sector law firm Freeths:
Turnover has broken the £50m mark at sector law firm Freeths. The firm, which has 11 offices including bases in Birmingham, Derby, Leicester, Nottingham and Stoke, said turnover grew 12% to £55.8m in its 2014/15 financial year. It added 50 staff during the year, taking total headcount to 679. Freeths said the turnover rise was down to a mix of organic growth and strategic mergers. Its latest merger was with Henmans in Oxford, which contributed more than 15% of total sales. More mergers are expected as Freeths aims to double its turnover to £100m by 2020. Chief executive Peter Smith said: “It’s an excellent result, ahead of our target, and the fruit of a lot of hard work to identify strategic opportunities, focus on business efficiency and deliver great customer service. Our office network around the country means we know our local markets, while our size and the expertise of our teams in various sectors means we can pull together big national deals.” He added staff have been offered bonus payment of 5% of their salary.

Thwaites reports good start to current year: North west brewer and retailer Thwaites has reported turnover for the year ending 31 March 2015 decreased by 1% to £137.6m. Operating profit before exceptional items increased by 19% to £12.3m, while pre-tax profits after exceptional items were £3.3m, as opposed to losses of £3.8m a year earlier. The results for the year include four exceptional items totalling £6.9m before tax. On 31 March 2015, Thwaites agreed to sell the major part of Thwaites Beer Company to Marston’s for £25.1m in cash excluding working capital. Ann Yerburgh, chairman of Thwaites, said: “The financial year has started well, with strong trading in the inns and hotels. The disposal of our beer company will mean that our accounts will look very different next year, with a significant drop in turnover. I am hopeful that the impact on our bottom line will be limited to a more manageable level as a result of restructuring. As we reinvest in our core businesses I expect that our profits will recover and then grow from their current level. We are currently on site at Cottons Hotel & Spa, where we are investing to add 30 new bedrooms and thereafter are developing a plan to build another Lodge on the Park in the south of England. We have several interesting opportunities within the inns, and we have started to build an excellent pipeline of other opportunities, which I expect will develop over time. We have now repositioned the company to focus on owning and operating its own freehold assets and delivering superb hospitality in outstanding properties in great locations.”

JD Wetherspoon to open refurbished Head of Steam next month: JD Wetherspoon is to open a new pub in Liverpool, the North Western, on the site of the former Head of Steam after a £2m facelift. It will open on Tuesday, July 7, with the creation of 65 new jobs. The new-look pub, also located next door to Liverpool Empire Theatre, will feature one bar, as well as an external balcony terrace, to the rear of the pub, where smoking is permitted in a designated area. The rear entrance of the pub leads directly onto the Lime Street Station concourse.

Mitchells & Butlers advertises for new Toby Carvery, Miller & Carter and Vintage Inns sites: Mitchells & Butlers has advertised for new Toby Carvery, Miller & Carter and Vintage Inns sites. Sites require main road frontage with high volume traffic flow. Existing businesses require a minimum 4,000 sq ft internal area while development sites need a minimum of 0.8 acres. Sites can be freehold or leasehold with dedicated parking preferred. The advert went through property magazine Estates Gazette.

TRG Concessions to open Wondertree at Gatwick this week: TRG Concessions, part of The Restaurant Group, will open Wondertree, the casual all-day family restaurant, at Gatwick Airport’s South Terminal this week in a £2m investment, its ninth food and beverage outlet at the airport. Customers at Wondertree will be able to enjoy either dining in the restaurant or a Wondertree take-away from the quick serve cafe area. Food will be cooked to order from an open plan kitchen featuring daily breads, morning pastries, global salads, gluten-free options and children’s menus. Passengers can order a coffee or beer through to a full family meal from a menu that includes artisan flat breads, burgers, healthy fresh sharing platters as well as all-day breakfast dishes. Drinks include smoothies, freshly-pressed juices and shakes along with world wine, ciders and a range of different sangria jugs. Wondertree is a collaboration between Giraffe Restaurants and The Restaurant Group. At over 5,000 sq ft with 200 covers, Wondertree offers diners views of Gatwick’s runway. Andrew Jacobs, co-founder of Giraffe Restaurants, said: “We’re hugely excited to bring Wondertree to Gatwick Airport’s South Terminal. This is a fantastic opportunity to build on our successful relationship with TRG increasing the premium casual dining formats in UK airports.” Nick Ayerst, managing director, TRG Concessions, added: “When challenged by Gatwick to offer an iconic casual restaurant for the South Terminal, we naturally thought of Wondertree. Wondertree embraces the new generation of eating and drinking and promises to provide a unique experience for Gatwick passengers. We are delighted to have won the space and are committed to serving Gatwick Airport and its passengers for years to come.”

Foxcroft & Ginger opens first poached egg bar in the UK:
Artisan bakery-cafe Foxcroft & Ginger has opened the first poached egg bar in the UK in London. The company, started by husband and wife team Quintin and Georgina Foxcroft, has launched the concept within the Beyond Retro vintage clothing store in Stoke Newington Road, Dalston. The egg bar specialises in “eggs cooked at 63 degrees for an hour that give a great running yolk and perfectly cooked white”. The menu includes poached eggs with parmesan, truffle oil and sour dough and poached eggs with smoked haddock. The branch also serves its traditional salads, pastries, sandwiches, and cakes including its signature Cruffins – a cross between a croissant and a muffin. Foxton & Ginger opened its first venue in Soho 2010 and also has a restaurant in Whitechapel.

Former Masterchef semi-finalist launching first venture as chef-owner with re-opening of Michelin-starred restaurant: Former Masterchef semi-finalist Marcus Wilcox will re-open Dorset’s only Michelin-starred restaurant Sienna, in Dorchester, on Wednesday, 1 July – his first venture as chef-owner. Wilcox, who was on the show in 2013, left his job as head chef at The Rose & Crown in Trent near Sherborne, Dorset, at the end of April to take over from Russell and Ella Brown. Sienna has been fitted out with new upholstery, kitchen equipment, chairs and tables ahead of the re-opening. “It’s been a frantic few weeks, sorting menus and wine lists and working with suppliers and producers,” Wilcox told Blackmore Vale Magazine. “I have a great team of new staff including front of house, kitchen prep and another chef with me in the kitchen, and we are all very excited.” Sienna, which will be open from Tuesday to Saturday for lunch and dinner, gained Michelin-star status in 2010 and has retained it since. Wilcox will not be the only former Masterchef contestant running a restaurant in Dorchester – past winner Mat Follas is at the Casterbridge Hotel.

Square Mile’s only pop-up restaurant Beer & Buns gets permanent home in central London: Asian-inspired brand Beer & Buns, the Square Mile’s only pop-up restaurant, has been given a permanent home in central London. The brand, which opened in 2005, is based above the K10 sushi restaurant in Appold Street. Beer & Buns has the UK’s largest selection of Japanese craft beers and specialises in hirata buns and jumbo Korean chicken wings. A spokesperson from K10, which owns the space, said: “The success of Beer & Buns totally exceeded our expectations, so we were more than delighted to offer them a permanent home upstairs from our sushi restaurant. We have found the two complement each other very well; it turns out the city has an appetite for super-cold Asahi, fluffy buns and pinball, as well as sushi.”

Swindon nightclub closes a year after re-opening: One of Swindon’s biggest nightclubs has closed less than a year after re-opening. Last November Pop, which was formerly known as Bushwackers, was given a makeover after it was taken on by a new owner. However, the Fleet Street club is now boarded up and shows no sign of re-opening soon. While the exact reason for the closure remains unknown, it is understood that there was not the demand to sustain the club. Owner Steven Wilson took over the lease of the building and promised to make sure it was a venue which would be for everyone, saying that he hoped it would help to transform that end of the town.

60% rent hike led to Criterion administration: The Criterion restaurant in London’s Piccadilly Circus went into administration after its landlord increased the annual rent by 60% – the owner of the restaurant had its rent increased to £850,000 a year. The restaurant, which is run by young Georgian entrepreneur Irakli Sopromadze and owned by his father, also owes landlord Criterion Capital, an unrelated company, £517,000 in rental arrears. Administrator Peter Kubik, of UHY Hacker Young, said the restaurant, which was previously run by celebrity chef Marco Pierre White until the Sopromadzes purchased it in 2009, will be put back on the market. 

Camerons Brewery to mark birthday with music festival:
Camerons Brewery is to mark its 150th birthday on 19 September with a music festival, called We Are Family. Hartlepool Marina will be the venue for its first major music event, “celebrating and showcasing some of the finest talent in the north east”. The We Are Family Festival is curated and produced by Hartlepool collective The Jar Family and showcases more than 15 artists. The event is, however, subject to the necessary planning and licensing permissions being granted by Hartlepool Council.

Entrepreneur launches second restaurant concept in South Woodford – in same road as first:
Entrepreneur Ahmet Tofan has launched his second restaurant concept in South Woodford, Essex – in the same road as his first. Tofan, who owns Turkish restaurant Wood Oven BBQ, has opened Mediterranean-themed Wood Oven Kitchen, which are both in George Lane. The new restaurant still serves a Turkish-inspired menu with kebabs and burgers but also with Mediterranean food options including seafood such as salmon, prawns and monkfish. Tofan told the East London and West Essex Guardian after eight years it was the right time to expand the business. He said: “We wanted to try something different and it will be a completely different experience, a luxury sit-down restaurant rather than what is more of a takeaway restaurant. There is a demand for Mediterranean food here and we spoke to our customers about it. George Lane is a great location, it is always busy and it’s near the tube station, business is looking positive at the moment.” Wood Oven Kitchen has replaced a Lebanese grill restaurant and shisha lounge called Nova.

Award-winning food van owner expands business with new cafe in Old Cwmbran: The owner of an award-winning food van has expanded her business with a new cafe in Old Cwmbran in Wales. Elizabeth Haynes, whose trailer Lizzy’s was recognised as one of the best in the country at the Best Breakfast Awards 2015, has opened the cafe in Oldbury Road. Haynes, whose catering van off Llantarnam Road has served breakfasts for more than two decades, has taken over Wendy’s Cafe and renamed it Lizzy’s Cafe. She told the South Wales Argus: “It wasn’t an opportunity that was going to come along again. It’s a new business. Even though it was a cafe before, the business is new to me.” Haynes’ trailer Lizzy’s, which she runs with her mum Margaret Berry, was recognised at the Best Breakfast Awards, winning the Best Food Van and Best in Wales accolades.

Molson Coors Carling brand launches £3.6m promotion: Carling has launched a £3.6m promotion running in both the on and off-trade. The campaign aims to ignite football fans’ passion by getting them ready for the season ahead, while driving increased rates of sale of Carling for publicans and retailers. Running during the period between the football season ending in May and restarting in August, both on and off-trade promotions will be supported by through the line activity including out of home and new TV advertising featuring the Carling duo Dylan and Jon. The on-trade promotion will give consumers the chance to win a £60 voucher to redeem on an official football shirt from kitbag.com with the purchase of a pint of Carling. Five hundred vouchers giving £10 off purchases from kitbag.com will also be up for grabs in each venue. Promotional on-trade kits, worth £5,600, will be distributed to outlets in the on-trade and include the vouchers alongside various point of sale materials.

£6m grass-roofed leisure development in Lancashire gets go-ahead: Plans for a £6m grass-roofed leisure development near Preston in Lancashire have been approved. The development at Barton Grange Garden Centre features only the second curling rink in England, cinema, tenpin bowling, a diner-style restaurant, fish and chip restaurant and an ice cream bar and coffee shop. The “Flower Bowl”, which has been approved by Wyre Council, also includes a shop where people can buy and hire kayaks to use on the nearby Lancaster Canal. The plan, drawn up by architecture and design practice Etc Urban, is for a single-storey building with an undulating eco-friendly grass roof, which might eventually have sheep grazing on it. Architectural director Philip Thornton told the Lancashire Evening Post: “This is a project that will bring exciting new entertainment and leisure facilities to the area as well as creating much-needed new jobs. The design brief is for quality premium facilities for visitors to enjoy, including the curling rink, which will introduce the sport to a whole new audience in the north of England. Throughout the design process we have worked to develop a sustainable, eco-friendly building that is in keeping with the rural nature of the area.”

Robinsons reports success for its new ‘responsible’ beer:
North west brewer and retailer Robinsons has reported that its new “responsible” beer, Wizard, with 3.7% ABV has been stocked by 84% of their 300-strong estate. The ale has become the most successful beer launch into the brewer’s pubs to date. Inspired by a local Cheshire legend, The Wizard of Alderley Edge, Wizard was created by the Stockport brewer following a pledge by the British Beer and Pub Association to remove 1.3 billion units of alcohol from the UK market before the end of 2015 and as a response to changing consumer tastes. Research carried out by Harris Interactive on behalf of The Grocer magazine revealed that almost half of all UK adults (49.2%) are trying to moderate their alcohol consumption.

Home Grown Hotels Group acquires first Devon hotel:
Hampshire-based Home Grown Hotels Group has acquired its first hotel in Devon after adding Combe House Devon, near Honiton, to its portfolio. The company has bought the grade I-listed Elizabethan hotel and restaurant, which will reopen next summer after an extensive refurbishment under its Pig Hotel brand. It plans to increase the number of bedrooms from about 20 to 33 by converting the stable yard and other buildings and spaces subject to planning permission. Home Grown Hotels chief executive Robin Hutson said: “So far our other hotels have had a great first half of this year, demand has been very high for the existing properties and our guests want more Pigs in more locations, so we are thrilled to be adding a very special place in such a wonderful location. We know our clientele will love The Pig-at Combe. With a fair wind we hope to open in early summer 2016.” Ken and Ruth Hunt have independently operated Combe House Devon, which is located in 3,500 acres of countryside in the Otter Valley, on a lease from the Combe Estate for nearly 20 years. The Hunts will continue to operate the hotel through the summer season before the refurbishment begins in the autumn. Home Grown Hotels currently has The Pig venues in Southampton, Brockenhurst in Hampshire, Studland in Dorset, and Pensford, near Bath.

Belfast entrepreneur to open two new bars as part of nightspot development: Belfast bar and nightclub entrepreneur Paul Langsford is to open two new bars as part of the final phase of his nightspot development in a historic city building, creating 50 jobs. The Perch, which according to those behind it is the highest rooftop bar in the city, opens tomorrow (Friday) and it will be followed by The Sweet Afton in August. The Sweet Afton has been part-funded by drinks giant Diageo and will replace Asian-inspired venue Shiro, which only opened its doors last year. Both bars are located in a Victorian building at the junction of Brunswick Street, Franklin Street and James Street South, which is already home to two of Langsford’s other businesses, Rita’s beer and cocktail bar and nightclub Chinawhite. It is the third and final phase of Langsford’s development in an area of the city known as the Linen Quarter and he hopes it will become “a destination venue”. He said: “We have two very successful venues there, Rita’s and Chinawhite. We feel the roof-top bar will offer a bit more, and something for everyone.” The Shiro bar had been a success, despite remaining open for only a year, said Langsford but Diageo was looking for a venue to showcase its beers and “the site was perfect for this”. Langsford is also director of a host of other Belfast bars, including the Albany, El Divino and Filthy McNasty’s.

The Deltic Group recognises its top performers: The UK’s largest clubs and bar operator, The Deltic Group, has recognised its national champions at its annual conference. The company, which operates 57 nightclubs and bars across the UK, recognised its brightest stars at its annual awards ceremony held at Alton Towers. Hosted by chief executive Peter Marks, the company revealed its winners for 2015 after a briefing on its financial performance and presentations from industry voices including Peach Report’s Peter Martin and Sahar Hashemi OBE, co-founder of Coffee Republic. Last month saw the company announce an 18% increase in profits, representing a third year of consecutive growth, and a re-brand of its corporate business. In total, 13 members of the team scooped an accolade, with key awards including Regional Director of the Year, Ged Gorrie, General Manager of the Year, Daniel Corry from Pryzm Kingston and Deputy Manager of the Year, Rosi Regan from Pryzm Cardiff. Marks said: “We’ve had a fantastic 12 months. The company has now delivered its third year of growth, with a strategic focus on investing in its estate, people and entertainment to create great nights out for its customers. It’s an exciting time for The Deltic Group as we look to continue our growth and broaden our appeal.”

BunBunBun concept opens in London’s ‘Little Vietnam’: A new Vietnamese concept BunBunBun has opened in east London’s ‘Little Vietnam’ on Kingsland Road, bringing Hanoi’s distinctive Bun Cha cuisine to the area for the first time. BunBunBun is a new style of Vietnamese restaurant mixing traditional and modern cuisine within a stylish, contemporary interior, putting a modern twist on London’s latest Asian restaurant opening. BunBunBun has 15 different variations of the “bun” (pronounced “boon”) dish – an all-in-one meal with vermicelli noodles as the base.

Tennent’s cheeky ‘dumping’ app see 4,400 users ‘dump’ their partner in two days:
A cheeky new app from Scottish beer brand Tennent’s Lager, which allows people to ditch their other half with the swipe of a screen, has seen over 22,000 downloads and more than 4,400 people swiping to ditch their date in just two days since its launch. But while it’s all a bit of fun, if anyone has actually been seriously dumped via Binder, Tennent’s Lager has promised to send a free pint to them to help soften the blow. The tongue-in-cheek app has been a hot topic not just in the UK but also with the likes of Fox News, Washington Post, The New Yorker, America’s Today Show and Huffington Post all covering it. Originally set up for the UK, the app is now also available in the US, and the team are looking into making it available further afield. Jordan McKenna of Tennent’s Lager said: “We created the app for a bit of fun as part of our Wellpark Series, and we’d no idea it would capture the imagination of people in so many countries across the world. The fact that it’s exploded so quickly is unbelievable. It really is just a bit of fun, and hopefully those who receive a Binder message will have a sense-of-humour about it too.”
 
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 e-mailing 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 tenth 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 plans to expand the company. Keith Knowles, chief executive of Beds and 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 United States in the past year. Jamie Barber talks about how his Brazilian barbecue brand Cabana was developed from scratch, its birth, evolution and future prospects. 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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