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Mon 29th Jun 2015 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Greene King Leisure Spend Tracker shows UK consumers taking cautious approach to holidays: British consumers are foregoing overseas holidays in preference to a ‘staycation’ as they continue to monitor their spending cautiously, according to the latest Greene King Leisure Spend Tracker. The Leisure Spend Tracker has shown that while consumers are increasingly treating themselves to a holiday they are still cautious when it comes to spending, choosing a holiday in the UK over a trip abroad. 66% of UK adults are planning to take a break between now and the end of the year and the ‘staycation’ is the most popular choice with 82% of these respondents planning on taking a holiday on home soil in the coming year. However, among those looking for sunnier skies, Spain is the destination of choice, with close to a quarter saying they will holiday there once or more before the end of the year. Aside from holidays, there is an appetite for spending on other ‘big ticket items’ as almost 60% of UK adults said they would be spending money on home improvements, new home appliances or home entertainment. Fiona Gunn, Greene King’s marketing director said: “We are seeing an increasing ‘save and splurge’ trend where consumers are still wary when it comes to spending. Although they are increasingly likely to treat themselves to a holiday, they are focussing on holidaying here rather than rushing to spend time overseas. While wage growth continues to climb, consumers are remaining cautious with their disposable income, choosing to save it for holidays in the UK rather than going abroad.” In May, the average British household spent £214 on leisure, up 4% versus the same month last year and unchanged on April. Year on year, eating out and drinking out spend increased by 4% and 6% respectively in May while other leisure spend increased 1%. The age group most keen to spend on holidays are the over 55 year-olds and, regionally, those based in London and the south east most anticipated taking a holiday. In other leisure, spending on gym membership rose by 5% this month versus the previous month and up 20% year-on-year. 

Industry News:

Propel hosts Professor Chris Muller for Multi-site Management Masterclass: Propel Info is hosting the US’s leading thinker, teacher and author on multi-site foodservice management, Professor Chris Muller, at its next Multi-site Management Masterclass on Friday 2 October 2015. Leading UK businesses such as Mitchells & Butlers and TGI Friday’s have sent staff to be taught by Professor Muller at Boston University’s School of Hospitality – now Professor Muller is returning to the UK to lead this bespoke day. His interactive seminar will include contributions from Welcome Break chief executive Rod McKie and Sticks ‘n’ Sushi UK managing director Andreas Karlsson. The event will provide valuable insights for founders and area managers of small and medium-sized multi-site companies and area managers of large companies. Tickets are £345 plus VAT and £295 plus VAT for ALMR members. To download or view the leaflet as a PDF file please CLICK HERE. To book tickets please contact: adam.dickinson@propelinfo.com. Tony Hughes, non-executive director at The Restaurant Group, said: “Chris is THE world authority on the restaurant industry, the go-to man if you want expertise and knowledge and this is a rare opportunity to see a true master giving a Masterclass presentation.”

Jamie Oliver backs Plaid Cymru’s call for sugary drinks tax: Chef Jamie Oliver has praised Plaid Cymru’s call for a levy on sugary drinks in Wales, a so-called “pop tax”. Research for Plaid has suggested a 20% tax on the drinks could cut the number of obese people in Wales by 8,300. Oliver, who is to charge 10p more for sugary drinks in his UK restaurants, said it was “good to hear” of a party taking the issue “seriously”. Oliver said he had “seen first hand the devastating effects that a poor diet and too much sugar is having on children’ futures”. “I firmly believe we need to take urgent action on this public health crisis,” he said. He added that money raised by his own “child health levy” would be used to fund “food education for children”.

ALMR secures major booking site victory on flexibility: The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) has secured a major victory for accommodation operators as international accommodation website booking.com agreed to apply commitments made to French, Italian and Swedish competition authorities to all European businesses. The changes will give operators using booking.com greater flexibility to alter rates and conditions offered through other channels and allow direct marketing to guests who booked through the website. Chief executive Kate Nichols said: “We continue to press for less restrictive terms on hotels and restaurant booking sites.” Former ALMR chief executive David McHattie, who offers 11 bedrooms at his Devonshire Arms pub in Baslow Derbyshire, told Propel: “This might not sound a lot but it was a significant and financially rewarding victory, allowing operators using booking.com greater flexibility to alter rates and conditions offered through other channels. It also allows us to directly market to guests who booked through the website. While booking.com has certainly done a great job for us it is great news that we can flex rates via our own website bookings and can now market directly to guests they sourced for us to ensure that more future bookings come direct. With over 4,000 bed nights a year and a typical marketing cost of £10 – £20 for every booking.com or laterooms.com booking, guests booking direct is worth a substantial amount. This is ALMR membership paid very swiftly.”

Insights firm Technomic identifies seven eating out archetypes: Insights firm Technomic has published research that has identified seven types of eating out archetype in the US market. They are: Functional Eaters (20% of the population eating 22% of their weekly meals in foodservice venues): Comprised heavily of Millennial males, these consumers treat food as fuel and typically look for low prices from familiar restaurants; Foodservice Hobbyists (19.7% of the population eating 20.6% of meals in foodservice ): Dining out at new and familiar restaurants is a hobby for this value-conscious group composed mostly of females with children; Busy Balancers (14% of the population eating 23.4% of meals in foodservice): For this on-the-go, multi-tasking group substantially comprised of middle- and upper-income Millennial females, foodservice makes life easier; Affluent Socialisers (13.9% of the population eating 13.5% of meals in foodservice): Dining out is entertainment for these upper-income Baby Boomer males, who also value quality service over price; Bargain Hunters (13.2% of the population eating 13.5% of weekly meals in foodservice venues): Unconcerned with health, these low- and middle-income male Baby Boomers are driven by low prices and regularly seek out specials and deals; Health Enthusiasts (11.9% of population eating 6.2% of weekly meals in foodservice): With health driving dining choices, this mixed group of male and female low- or fixed-income Baby Boomers and Matures lives simply and believes that cooking at home is the healthiest option; Habitual Matures (6.9% of the population eating 4.1% of meals in foodservice): Driven by convenience and price, this group of male Baby Boomers and ‘mature’ people with low- or fixed-incomes typically stick to familiar foods and are loyal to just a small number of restaurants.

Company News:

TPG begins search to replace Jonathan Kaye as Prezzo chief executive: TPG Capital, which took Prezzo private at the start of the year in deal worth £304m, has begun a search for a new chief executive after Jonathan Kaye decided to move to a non-executive role, The Times reports. The newspaper reports that TPG has appointed one of its operating partners, Dirk Eller, to the role of interim chief executive with Kaye looking at “strategic opportunities”. Eller is working alongside David Niven, who stepped down last year as group chief executive of Nando’s and has become chairman of the company. Kaye will advise TPG on finding his long-term successor. The Kaye family netted £173m after shareholders of Prezzo voted to accept the £304m takeover bid from TPG.

Breakfast Club set to take over iconic Black Cap, Camden: Cafe and bar operator Breakfast Club, which has eight sites and two more planned for Canary Wharf and Brighton, is set to take over the iconic gay venue The Black Cap in Camden, which was vacated by Faucet Inn in April. Plans for the future of the building have since be shrouded in mystery, with protests to ensure its future as a gay venue. The potential new owners plan to lease it to cafe chain Breakfast Club. In a comment piece for the Kentish Towner, Breakfast Club founder Jonathan Arana-Morton said: “Last December we were approached by an agent on behalf of Camden Securities, the potential new landlords about a venue on Camden High Street. We’d been looking for a venue in Camden for a while. We said yes, exchanged contracts with Camden Securities to take up the lease on the ground floor and basement when and if they completed on the property. On top of this, nobody seems to fully understand the implications of the Asset of The Community Value that was granted a long time after we’d signed the contract to take the lease on part of the pub. We are in the crossfire, but legally bound to a contract to take over the pub when the sale to Camden Securities goes through. We run cafes and bars not drag venues, I wouldn’t want to patronise anyone by saying we could for one second fill the gap that is being left by the closure of The Black Cap.”

Marston’s premium pub division to re-open Waterloo’s Fire Station: Marston’s premium pub division, Hammersmith Brands, is to re-open The Fire Station in Waterloo early next month after a year-long refurbishment. The all-new Fire Station is a restaurant and bar serving a main menu of wood-fired pizzas and ‘adventurous’ burgers. It will open for breakfast and also offer speciality coffee to take-out. Colin Sadler, managing director of Hammersmith Brands, said: “We made the most of the opportunity during the closure of the building for redevelopment, to take a fresh look at The Fire Station. It retains its informal, all-day style, and now, we’ve added design details that make the old space more intriguing, individual and stylishly comfortable. We have completely changed the menu – we are transforming dishes that people know and love eating, into bright new classics, with ingredients that are generous, adventurous, and bang up-to-date.”

McDonald’s to invest £375m in UK estate upgrade: McDonald’s and its UK franchisees are to invest between £350m and £375m on an upgrade to sites within its UK portfolio, The Times has reported. UK chief executive Paul Pomroy has reported that the company will start to make every burger, wrap and muffin to order with the target of a 65 second preparation time. He said: “As soon as you press ‘total’ on the screen, a crew member will start to toast a fresh bun behind the counter. (Customers) can add (their) own twist – (they) can add bacon or cheese, take off the gherkins if (they) don’t want them.” Sliding doors and glass front are being installed together with more seating for individual diners together with the installation of digital kiosks that enable customers to place their orders on screens. Table service is also likely to be trialled with customers placing an order digitally and staff delivering meals to tables. Changes will costs £300,000 per restaurant with franchises bearing the bulk of the costs.

Notes hits £600,000 crowdfunding target: Notes, the five-strong London-based coffee shop and wine bar concept, hit its £600,000 Crowdcube crowdfunding target in return for 7.5% of its equity just before lunchtime yesterday and its now “overfunding” with 12 full days left. The £600,00 target was raised from 238 investors. The offer values the company at £8m. The company is forecasting sales of £4.8m in the year to June 2016 with Ebitda of £539,939, rising to £18,702,462 and Ebitda of £2,957,241 by the financial year ending in June 2019.

Stonegate converts former Yates’s site in Huddersfield to Slug & Lettuce, reports £6m Slug & Lettuce pre-tax profit: Stonegate Pub Company has invested £325,000 to open a new Slug & Lettuce in Huddersfield, replacing a Yates’s wine bar site. The brand, which celebrates its 30th birthday this month, has opened in King Street and plans to mark the occasion with a launch party of Saturday, 4 July where the first visitors will receive free drinks and other freebies. General manager Richard Bardsley told the Huddersfield Examiner: “King Street already has a great late-night reputation, but with the addition of this new Slug & Lettuce we are looking to attract a mature, female-friendly crowd. We are excited to offer a more premium venue for an early drink and a casual dining experience before offering somewhere lively later on in the evening.” At the weekend, Companies House annual accounts for Slug & Lettuce became available that showed the division had a turnover of £77,053,000 in the year ended 28 September 2014 and made a pre-tax profit of £6,044,000. During the year, nine Slug sites were transferred to a related entity within the wider group for a consideration of £6,835,000, which was left as an intercompany balance.

Whitbread expands Whitbread Inns segment: Whitbread has expanded its fledgling pub brand Whitbread Inns, with a total of 11 sites now operating under the format, which has seen conversions to a traditional pub format from sites previously trading as Beefeater Grills, Brewers Fayre and Table Table. Whitbread Inns offers seasonal cask ales and “quality, good value” food. The 11 pubs now trading under the format are: The Bridgewater Arms, Shrewsbury, Butlers Leap, Rugby, The Carclaze, Carclaze, The George & Dragon, Marlow, The Globe, Christchurch, The Hobbs Boat, Lympsham, The Heath, Southampton, Liskeard Tavern, Liskeard, The May Tree, Helston, The Roundstone, Littlehampton and The Warrener, Thetford. Whitbread Inns was launched in early 2014. At the time Matt Kenley, regional manager for Whitbread Inns, said: “We’ve really challenged our thinking with Whitbread Inns. We recognise that sometimes a national brand isn’t what’s needed. We’ve created a fun and inclusive local business whilst retaining the support and security of a big international company.” 

Former Orchid Pizza Kitchen bar site re-opens with retained pizza offer: A former Orchid Pub Company site in Stratford-upon-Avon that traded within its Pizza Kitchen Bar segment, The Hole in the Wall in Union Street, has re-opened as the Union Bar. The bar has been renovated and its pizza oven has been retained. A branded beer called Union beer will be on sale and there will be a wide selection of wines available. The pub freehold was placed on the market last year through agent Fleurets with an asking price of £575,000. The site has also traded as a Bar Room Bar and Slug & Lettuce.

Hi-Spirits reports strong sales growth: UK spirits marketing and distribution specialist Hi-Spirits has reported 9.3% turnover growth to £16.5m, 12.4% gross profit growth to £3.72m and 166% operating profit growth to £417,000 for the year to 31 March 2015. The company, which distributes brands such as Antica Sambuca, Buffalo Trace bourbon, and Brokers Gin, has also reported sales for the first two months of the current financial year up by 35% versus the same period last year. Hi-Spirits managing director Dan Bolton said: “After an exceptional year last year, we are continuing our solid growth with all channels in double digit percentage growth on last year. The on-trade, which has always been the foundation of our business, is looking particularly strong, at 45% ahead of 2014.” Sales growth through both managed pub and bar operators and, increasingly, casual dining brands expanding their spirits and cocktail offers, has been key to Hi-Spirits’ success. Bolton added: “We have seen some very strong on-trade growth in the past 18 months, which I put down to a steely focus on spirits range planning and service by operators, as well as the continued increase in consumer confidence. From our perspective, this on-trade market positivity is definitely gathering pace. We have been tracking the economic and market data, and combining it with feedback from our UK-wide sales force and it is clear the casual dining sector is a key growth area and one we are well placed to focus our efforts on. Our portfolio continues to go from strength to strength. Antica Sambuca is the UK’s number one Sambuca brand, having grown on average by 7% every year for the past five years, a phenomenal performance and one that is propping up the category single handed.”

Pub featured in Local Hero movie up for sale: A pub in Scotland that appeared in the 1983 film Local Hero has gone on the market. The Pennan Inn in Pennan, Aberdeenshire, is being sold for offers over £425,000. It closed its doors in 2007 after its former owners emigrated to Canada. It was sold to current owners Peter and Nikki Simpson in 2009 and reopened in October that year. Property agents CCL told STV: “The Pennan Inn and the red phone box have been made famous by Local Hero and visitors from all over the world come to see them. The business is in excellent order throughout and ready for new owners to make their mark.” Local Hero, directed by Bill Forsyth, is about an American oil executive who is sent to buy the fictional Scottish fishing village of Ferness where his company wants to build a refinery.

Wild Beer Co to open first bar and restaurant: Brewer The Wild Beer Co is opening its first bar and restaurant later this year in Cheltenham. The company stated on its website: “We are seeking industry professionals at all levels to create a very special bar and restaurant full of some of the finest artisan food and drink products in the UK and beyond.” Wild Beer Co is based at the artisan Westcombe Dairy in Somerset. Wild Beer Co was founded by Californian Brett Ellis and beer sommelier Andrew Cooper. Ellis said: “Being foodies, Andrew and I are dedicated to cooking with beer and creating beer and food pairings. There is even a Wild Beer Chef, Chris Boddy, who is a good friend of mine. At the moment Chris is setting up a makeshift brewery research kitchen of sorts, so he can start pumping out some mouth watering delights made from all things beer and food. At the Wild Beer Co we are deeply inspired by artisanal products and processes.”

Spanish-inspired bar concept Roja Pinchos expands with Liverpool’s first speciality cava bar: Spanish-inspired bar concept Roja Pinchos has expanded with Liverpool’s first speciality cava bar. The brand, which brought the first pinchos bar to the city, has opened Abajo – an exclusive basement gin and cava bar. Abajo – Spanish for “below” – has launched in Berry Street and has taken inspiration from the cocktail and cava bars synonymous with Barcelona. Abajo director Edward Ridding told The Liverpool Echo: “The vision for Abajo has grown naturally following the success we have enjoyed at Roja Pinchos. We are overwhelmed by the love Liverpool has shown for our Spanish concept. I have toured bars across Barcelona for the past couple of years, trying to find the right elements for Abajo. We wanted to create a relaxed setting where friends and couples can enjoy gin, cava and cocktails before heading off for late night drinks in town. The bar will reflect the cool vibe synonymous with the great Spanish city.”

Craft beer definition set to change in the US: Congress is set to change the definition of a craft brewer in the US. Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, has proposed the new Craft Beverage Modernisation and Tax Reform Act that would give the US government the right to define who is and isn’t a craft brewer. The law essentially redefines the tax structure for small to mid-size brewers and would, accordingly, group them into three categories based on new excise taxes: the craft brewers, those producing under two million barrels per year would get the deepest tax cuts; the mid-size brewers, those producing six million barrels or less, get a slight tax break; and the macro brewers, which don’t get a tax break beyond their first six million barrels of production. The move would leave a number of big-name craft brewers out of the first category and in a higher tax bracket. That includes Boston Beer Co, which produces 4.1 million barrels (including non-beer beverages such as Angry Orchard cider and Twisted Tea), as well as Yuengling (2.7 million barrels) and North American Breweries (about 2.6 million barrels). Until now, to be labeled a craft beer, breweries had to fit within restrictions designated by the Brewers Association craft beer industry group that involved barrels of production, percentage of a brewery owned by a non-craft brewer and more “traditional” aspects. The industry self-policer has been somewhat accommodating to its peers in years past. It raised the barrel-production limit to six million from two million in 2010 to allow Boston Beer to lay claim to the craft beer title.

Bangladeshi business buys hotel out of administration: A historic 147-bed hotel in Stockport has been bought out of administration in a multi-million-pound deal that secures its future and the jobs of all 250 staff. Bredbury Hall Hotel & Country Club has been acquired by Bangladeshi businessman Golam Sarwar, who owns the five-star Hotel Sarina in Dhaka. Sarwar is planning a £1m refurbishment with the aim of making Bredbury Hall the flagship for a chain of UK hotels. He has appointed hotel management specialists Onecall Hospitality to operate the complex, which includes a 147-bed hotel, restaurant, nightclub and conference centre.

Independent charcuterie company Friends of Ham to launch second venue in Ilkley: Independent charcuterie company Friends of Ham is expanding with its second venue in Ilkley, West Yorkshire, in August. The company, run by husband and wife team Anthony and Claire Kitching, will open in the former Ilkley Gazette offices in Wells Road. Friends of Ham Ilkley will follow the same format as its sister site in Leeds, offering carefully sourced cured meats, alongside hand-picked cheese and an ever changing, beer menu. The new venue is a homecoming of sorts for Anthony Kitching, who grew up in Bradford and always had Ilkley in his sights. He told The Ilkley Gazette: “Friends of Ham is a real labour of love for us. We source all the hams, cheeses and beers ourselves. The atmosphere of Friends of Ham is relaxed and fun. We don’t accept bookings, it’s a casual approach, and we just want to make as many Friends of Ham as possible.” The couple, who, following a US road trip, gave up successful jobs in London to follow their dream and love of craft beer and charcuterie, launched Friends of Ham in Leeds in 2012, and two years later expanded the premises when the next door unit became available.

Deliveroo to expand restaurant meal delivery concept to Leicester: London-based start-up Deliveroo, which delivers high-quality local restaurant meals to customers’ doors, is expanding to Leicester. The company, which already provides the service in Birmingham, Nottingham and London, will launch the concept in Leicester on Tuesday. Customers go to the website www.deliveroo.co.uk and enter their postcode to find local outlets – orders come with a £2.50 delivery charge. The service only offers to deliver within two miles of an address to keep food hot. The two-year-old company raised more than £16m earlier this year to support its expansion.

‘Marston’s landlord’ hopes ACV status will ensure NewRiver Retail will drop car park c-store plan: Lee Sergeant, landlord of The Hare & Hounds in Wynall Lane, Stourbridge, a Marston’s pub acquired by developer NewRiver Retail, is hoping that a move to grant his pub Asset of Community Pub status, will block a plan to build a Co-Op convenience store in his car park. His comments came after Dudley Council has approved an application by UKIP calling for the pub to be designated as an Asset of Community Value. Sargeant had been worried development of the car park would wreck function room trade as guests would have nowhere to park, and he said the pub’s status as an ACV was “really good news”, adding: “Everybody’s upbeat about it. The council (will) speak to NewRiver and see if they appeal but hopefully they’ll back off.”

Douwe Egberts reports turnover and profit boost: Sales and profits have continued to rise at the UK arm of Dutch coffee and tea company Douwe Egberts driven by increased media activity. Douwe Egberts Retail UK said the retail environment remains “very challenging within a static market, with competitors being very active”. The group reported revenues of £51.1m for the year ended 31 December 2014, compared with £72.3m from the previous 18-month period. It attributed the growth in turnover (based on a 12-month comparative) to an increase in media activity which in turn has continued to drive brand awareness. Pre-tax profits rose from £687,000 to £1.5m. Douwe Egberts is the main brand name for DE Master Blenders 1753, based in the Netherlands.

Masterchef finalist to host pop-up at Blackheath restaurant: Masterchef finalist Tony Rodd will host his own pop-up at Blackheath restaurant Chapters for one night only next month. Rodd, who featured in the last series of the BBC show, will take over the kitchen at the Montpelier Vale venue on Monday, 20 July. After Champagne and canapes from 6pm, Rodd will cook up a five-course menu alongside the restaurant team. Chapters head chef Nick Simmons told News Shopper: “We spotted Tony on Masterchef straight away and we’re very happy to have offered him our first ‘guest chef’ position at Chapters. Our business sits at the heart of the local dining scene and I’m sure our guests will support us in wishing Tony well in this event and his future career in food.”

Microbrewer to open Lord of the Rings pub in Burton: A pub with a nod to Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings is to open in Burton in Staffordshire. The Middle Earth Tavern micropub, based in an old office unit at the Midland Grain Warehouse, off Derby Street, is the brainchild of Stephen Twells, who owns microbrewery Middle Earth Brewery. Twells told the Burton Mail the pub will not be heavily themed. Conversion work will include the installation of a bar, a new fireplace and two log-burning stoves to create an atmosphere befitting of Middle Earth itself. East Staffordshire Borough Council approved Twells’ licensing application as well as allowing adaptations to the unit.

Birmingham pop-up to open permanent site: Birmingham pop-up restaurant Two Cats Roaming Kitchen is open a permanent venue in the city’s Jewellery Quarter. After making a name for itself with a series of pop-up events last year, the New Baltic cuisine offer will open just off Warstone Lane. Two Cats will hold three pop-up style nights in the new restaurant on Thursday, Friday and Saturday (2 to 4 July), before the restaurant opens to the public on 7 July. The restaurant, operated by Nick Astley and Diana Fjodorova, next to popular Caribbean venue 24 Carat Bistro, will be fully licensed and serving five nights a week, allowing diners to choose from a selection of small-plates or plump for a seven-course tasting menu for £40.

Foster’s launches two spirit-flavoured beers: Heineken’s Foster’s brand is launching two new spirit flavoured beers. Spiced Rum and Classic Rum will be the first flavours in the new ‘Foster’s Rocks’ brand extension and will be available from August, launching in time for the Bank Holiday weekend. It’s inspired by 19th Century Australian rum traders from New South Wales, who weathered storms to keep the supply of rum flowing. The launch will be supported by a £2m marketing and sampling campaign.

Alea to open new Spanish bar at its Nottingham casino: Casino operator Alea is opening a new Spanish late-night lounge bar at its Nottingham site in October, creating ten jobs. The company is launching the Mahou Bar at its Upper Parliament Street venue, specialising in the Spanish beer of the same name as well as cava and cocktails. Alea is working with Carlsberg to deliver the bar, which will be open from 5pm until 5am in what is currently the Hidden Bar room. Venue director Mark Hands told The Nottingham Post: “After years of working in this city, it’s become apparent to me that there is a need to provide a quality establishment in the city centre to serve the 30 to 35-year-old-plus demographic. As part of our growth, we see ourselves hopefully fulfilling this niche. Carlsberg is sponsoring the bar, as Mahou comes from its portfolio. The bar will be massively different to how the room looks now. We will booth it all out and have intimate seating areas. It will also be more visual from the casino. We are working with designers on how much of the walls we can turn into glass.” Customers will enter the bar via the casino’s main entrance but will not need to be a member of the casino to attend. The new bar is part of a £450,000 investment by Alea in its facilities at the site.

SIBA calls for brewers to unite behind it: The Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) has called on all brewers to unite behind it. Managing director Mike Benner pointed to the success of a joined-up campaign by SIBA, The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) and the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) in securing three cuts in beer duty as an example of how working together can benefit the industry as a whole. Writing in Propel Friday opinion, Benner stated: “We all know that we are in the wondrous grip of a beer revolution. During my 21 years in the British beer industry I can’t remember a time when we had it so good in terms of consumer interest in our national drink. As an industry, we have finally started working effectively together, albeit incompletely. Look for example at the excellent joined-up campaign involving SIBA, CAMRA and the BBPA to secure no less than three cuts in beer duty (many said it would never happen and many were wrong). The need to speak with one clear voice is a driving force behind SIBA’s new vision to deliver the future of British beer and become the voice of British brewing. In so doing, we are not looking to exclude, but rather to include as many brewers as possible in SIBA. Despite the many good things going on in beer, the beer market is changing. The impact of the Market Rent Only legislation has yet to be seen in terms of market access and while there will be many positives, there are likely to be some problems and challenges too. I have yet to see a coherent body of evidence setting out what the real drivers are behind British beer. For that reason SIBA is leading a new project to find the truth behind British beer. We hope to reveal the findings early in 2016. The beer industry has never been more exciting and SIBA will provide the insight to take it even further and work with others to give the industry the common voice it needs and deserves.”

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