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Thu 2nd Jul 2015 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Heineken to invest record £30m in leased estate, 60% of pubs leased to multiple operators in first half of year: Heineken is set to invest up to £30m in upgrading its Star Pubs & Bars estate by the end of 2015, a 60% increase on 2014. In the first six months of 2015, Heineken has spent the same on Star Pubs & Bars as it did in the whole of 2014. By the end of 2015 Star Pubs & Bars will have more than doubled its 2014 investment with multiple operators from £5m to £10m on 51 major projects compared to 28 in 2014. A total of 25% of Star Pubs & Bars 1,050 pubs are set to benefit from the capex programme, which will include 117 major refurbishments with an average spend of £175,000, creating about 1,000 jobs in pubs around the country. The majority of refurbishments will focus on improving the pub’s food offer furthering the company’s ambition that 50% of sales in its pubs will come from food by 2020. In addition, there will be over 100 external signage and redecoration schemes. The company said its approach is to attract new customers for different occasions throughout the day – from breakfast through to dinner, for coffee and Wi-Fi, or for events and entertainment such as watching live sport. Star Pubs & Bars is introducing flexible zones to allow venues to cater for private dining, parties and meetings, as well as provide additional space for customers at peak trading times. Chris Jowsey, trading director of Star Pubs & Bars, said: “This investment is a reflection of the continued confidence we have in our pubs and our operators. Lessees are seeing returns on investment of over 31% on capex projects and their demand for and our commitment to invest in them is evidence of confidence on both sides in the pub market and the economy as a whole. We’re leasing more pubs to multiple operators than ever before, with 60% of leases in the first half of this year in this category, double the number two years ago. This is in part due to the level of funding Star is able to provide as multiples don’t have to tie up their capital allowing them to expand more quickly.”

Industry News:

Department of Health reviewing safe alcohol guidelines: The Department of Health is reviewing safe alcohol consumption guidelines. The most recent study by a professor at University College London revealed that abiding by the current recommendations could cause “dangerous inflammation”. Chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies will assess the recommended daily and weekly units of alcohol for men and women, which were first set in 1987. Current NHS guidelines advice men to consume no more than three to four units per day, and women no more than two to three units.

Horizons – foodservice market in Europe’s ‘big five’ still dwarfed by US: Insights firm Horizons has produced research that shows the foodservice sector in the five largest European markets combined accounts for three quarters of the European market. But, with the same population, they are worth just 41% of the US market ($185bn versus $493bn). The “popular” segment – restaurants, quick service and drinking places – is smaller pro rata in Europe than in the US, but Europe outperforms in terms of its catering in hotels and leisure locations.

BII ‘running a financial surplus for first time since 2009’: The British Institute of Licensing (BII), the training and professional standards trade body led by Tim Hulme, is now running a financial surplus for the first time since 2009. In a letter to members, Hulme stated: “The BII really is back in business. Since January 2015, membership numbers have increased each month for the first time in three years. We have more benefits to offer members than ever before and we are running a financial surplus for the first time since 2009 which we are reinvesting back into benefits.”

BBPA reports £767,107 surplus in 2014, reserves stand at almost £8m: The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has reported a £767,107 surplus in the year to 30 September 2014 (2013 surplus: £277,651). The increased surplus came despite income dropping to £2,103,172 from £2,188,227 the year before. Total reserves now stand at £7,989,738.

Cask Marque launches brewery accreditation scheme: Cask Marque has launched a brewery accreditation scheme for regional and local breweries to demonstrate to buyers their commitment to quality, consistency and legality. The SALSA plus Beer scheme has taken two years to develop and trials have been undertaken with Wye Valley, Titanic, Sambrooks and more recently with Meantime, Langham, Windsor Castle and West Berkshire breweries. Food safety body Safe and Local Supplier Approval (SALSA) has been chosen to accredit the scheme because of its knowledge of running similar schemes for smaller food producers. Cask Marque has also called on the expertise of Mitchells & Butlers – audits of over 40 breweries – which will represent the on-trade on the scheme’s steering group while Waitrose represents the off trade. Cask marquee director Paul Nunny said the Society of Independent Brewers had also been very supportive of the programme. He added: “This new development is part of Cask Marques Grain to Glass initiative to improve quality which covers breweries, supply chain management and cellars and of course beer in the glass.”

McDonald’s expands all-day breakfast trial to Australia: McDonald’s has begun serving all-day breakfast in select Australia sites. McDonald’s Australia chief marketing officer Mark Lollback said the company was responding to overwhelming customer demand, with shift workers and late risers complaining they always missed the 10.30am cut-off point. The Gold Coast is set to get the 24-hour service from next month, with the plan to expand to other locations across Australia after that. Several restaurants in San Diego in the US also started serving all day McMuffins back in April. The company said at the time: “We know our customers love McDonald’s breakfast and they tell us they’d like to enjoy it beyond the morning hours.”

HOTREC warns Booking.com over ‘illegal’ parity clauses: HOTREC, the European umbrella body for licensed hospitality trade group, has warned internet hotel booking website Booking.com it is breaking the law by maintaining parity clauses. Last week Booking.com informed its hotel partners across Europe via e-mail that it would maintain rate and conditions parity with respect to the hotel websites with the new terms coming into force yesterday (Wednesday, 1 July). This was despite having already received a clear warning in Germany that parity clauses are anticompetitive and recent developments in France setting the basis for a complete ban of price parity clauses by law. The new conditions, as sent to hoteliers in Europe, differ from those commitments accepted by the three competition authorities in France, Germany and Sweden. To the authorities of those three countries, Booking.com has committed itself “to not enter into or enforce obligations that require accommodations to offer the same or a greater number of rooms, of any type, on Booking.com as those offered on any other Online Travel Agency, or as is reserved for the accommodation itself”, which Booking.com’s new terms contradict. Furthermore, the new clauses do not refer to the equivalent measures as agreed with the three competition authorities. HOTREC said Booking.com is misusing its market power to set the conditions on the market and to hold back or at least to put an additional hurdle to competition authorities across Europe to exercise an in-depth investigation of parity clauses applied.

TGI Friday’s tops poll of Hull Daily Mail readers as brand they most want to see open in the city centre: TGI Friday’s has won a poll of Hull Daily Mail readers voting for the brand they most want to see open in the centre of the city. The vote follows a social media campaign calling for the opening of a TGI Friday’s on the site of the closed Chiquitos in Kingston Retail Park. TGI Friday’s won more than 35% of the vote, beating Jamie’s Italian and Wagamama, which were each on 10%.

London restaurant app Uncover delivers over £650,000 of incremental revenue to its portfolio of venues since February launch: London restaurant app Uncover, which allows users to discover and book the capital’s most desirable restaurants at the last minute, has delivered over £650,000 of incremental revenue to its portfolio of venues since launching in February. The app has now reached 100,000 downloads and bookings are growing by 50% month on month. The level of delivery of incremental revenue to the capital’s top-end restaurant sector has enabled Uncover to increase the number of in-demand restaurants available to its growing user base from 125 at launch to 275. The latest restaurant to offer last minute cancellations is Kitty Fisher’s, which until now only had reservation lines open for two hours a day and up to a three-month waiting list. Other restaurants on the app include Coya, Portland, Fera at Claridges, Kitchen Table, Restaurant Story, Lima and Lima Floral and the Salt Yard Group. Uncover, which launched in February after securing £1m in seed funding last year, is available for iPhone on the app store.

Company News:

Greene King appoints Jonathan Webster as integration director after Spirit acquisition: Greene King has appointed Jonathan Webster, its managing director of Local Pubs, Retail and Pub Partners, to the position of integration director in the wake of its acquisition of Spirit. City analysts have been told the priority is “business as usual” in both businesses while three main workstreams begin: synergy capture, brand rationalisation and estate optimisation, and work on systems and “ways of working”. Chief executive Rooney Anand said he had been impressed by the strong team at Spirit, which he described as “receptive, proud and capable”. He has also been impressed by Spirit’s “great business systems”, including “pub in a box”. He argued there were significant opportunities arising out of a “best of both integration mentality”. The company expects a minimum of £30m per annum of synergies by the 2018 financial year.

Taillevent set for UK debut with London opening: Taillevent Paris, the Gardinier family-owned group behind the two Michelin-starred Le Taillevent, is set to make its UK debut in London in September. The company is opening a 70-cover wine and food-matching brasserie, Les 110 de Taillevent London, in Cavendish Square. The brasserie, headed up by general manager Giuseppe de Wilde, will feature 110 wines by the glass, paired with contemporary and seasonal French dishes. The menu, which also includes a breakfast offering that will be matched with cold and hot drinks, has been developed by Alain Solivérès, executive chef director of Taillevent Paris. The interiors of the restaurant, designed by Pierre-Yves Rochon, take inspiration from the brasserie’s concept and pay homage to wine production with specially commissioned artworks adorning the walls.

Liverpool bar operator opens French rotisserie chicken concept: A Liverpool bar operator has opened a new French rotisserie chicken concept, Chez Le Coq, on Bold Street in the city – Bakchich and The Kasbah are its other sites on the same street. Spokesman Otto Mellouki told The Liverpool Echo: “It’s an authentic French concept with free range rotisserie chicken, the freshest salads and everything made on site. We wanted something fast that customers could eat in or take out. Nothing artificial, all cooked fresh in an open kitchen. Bold Street is such a good place for food and drink now, it’s become a destination. We knew we had to offer something fresh and different and this idea has been marinading in my mind for a while now. We wanted somewhere where you could eat a great meal for £10 or less, cooked properly, not the usual takeaway options. This way the customers can choose exactly what they want – a quarter, half or full chicken with whichever sauce they like, plus handmade burgers, good quality meat and really good vegetarian options too. It’s not just about the chicken – our handmade green burgers made with falafel is one of my favourite things on the menu.”

Krispy Kreme submits plan for Peterborough drive-thru: Krispy Kreme has submitted a plan to open a drive-thru doughnut store in Peterborough. Signet Planning has, on behalf of Peveril Securities, lodged a full planning application to build a Krispy Kreme drive-thru store on a vacant site off Hadfield Road in Hampton. The Krispy Kreme unit will be a two-storey building totalling 4,500 sq ft. As well as the drive-thru facility, the unit will also be making doughnuts on the premises for local distribution. Plans also include the construction of a separate retail unit totalling more than 2,200 sq ft. Peveril Securities said the Krispy Kreme store will deliver 60 full-time jobs while the additional unit is expected to create ten new jobs.

Living Ventures predicting £100m turnover this year: Leisure operator Living Ventures is predicting turnover will hit £100m in 2015 – up from £80m last year. Company financial director Andrew Haigh also told Santander’s Breakthrough Moments Festival in Manchester eight of its brands were “exceeding expectations”. Haigh told the event, organised to inspire other businesses to grow, Living Ventures’ success was down to its ability to “constantly evolve”. He added: “15 years ago, restaurants didn’t really market themselves. But we have found we have to think about the future. There will always be today’s problems, but it is important to think about what you want the business to be doing in six to eight months’ time. It’s also important to make sure we continue to have conversations with people external to the business, like landlords, funders and bankers.” Established restaurant brands include The Blackhouse, Gusto, The Alchemist and The Oast House, while four others – Artisan, Australasia, Red Door and the Manchester House were still being rolled out, Haigh said. The latest development is a £6m deal to take the Australasia brand to Liverpool’s Cunard Building on the Pier Head, which was agreed with Liverpool City Council recently. Haigh also hopes the company’s Manchester House restaurant in Spinningfields will attain a Michelin star – Manchester does not currently have one with the accolade.

Cote to open two new restaurants this month, including first in Scotland: French brasserie chain Cote Restaurants will open two new venues this month – including its first in Scotland. The company will make its Scottish debut with a restaurant in Glasgow in West Nile Street on 16 July, a stone’s throw away from the famous George Square and the Theatre Royal and Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. That comes after Cote, led by Harald Samúelsson and Alex Scrimgeour, opens in Norwich on Monday (6 July). The restaurant is located in a grade II-listed building in Exchange Street that was formerly the Post Office Tavern, dating back to 1839. Cote also opened a site in Amersham in Buckinghamshire on Monday. The venue in the Broadway has replaced the former Chimichanga Tex-Mex restaurant, which closed earlier this year. Cote now has more than 60 restaurants across the UK.

Yummy Pub Company re-launching Kent pub The Grove Ferry with garden bar able to serve 1,000 people a day: Yummy Pub Company is officially re-launching its Shepherd Neame pub, The Grove Ferry in Kent, tomorrow (Friday, 3 July). Head chef is Mark Hewitt, who is serving a menu all prepared fresh on site with ingredients sourced locally or grown in its allotment, including eggs from the pub’s chickens. A new garden bar is equipped to serve up to 1,000 people a day, who can expect their food to be served within 15 minutes. The inside of the pub has also seen a complete transformation. Cask ale enthusiasts will especially appreciate the new taproom, which will have four or five ales on rotation from traditional Kentish ales, guest ales and international lagers from local brewery, Shepherd Neame. “The Grove Ferry has had an exciting new lease of life, and it’s about time,” said Tim Foster, director of Yummy. “Over the past six years we have experienced the worst flooding in history, as well as a devastating fire. We have made it through the other side and we are proud to announce that we are ready to reopen our doors. We think we could have created one of the stand out pub garden operations there is to be found – 340 covers sitting at anyone time, just outside, then add the pub, terrace, and boathouse and the beast really will need taming.” The pub was soft-launched this week and has posted 47% like-for-like sales growth.

Caprice Holdings reports pre-tax profit of £7.1m: Caprice Holdings has reported turnover growth of 4.1% to £46.5m in the year to 29 December 2013. The performance was driven by a “record year for Scott’s and a strong West End market with The Ivy and J Sheekey trading well”. Pre-tax profit rose to £7.1m, up from £4.2m the year before. Ebitda was up 4.3% at £9m for the year. Adjusted Ebitda margin was 19.4%, up from 19.2% the year before.

Hull premium coffee shop Deli No 1 launches office kiosks: Hull-based premium coffee shop Deli No 1 is launching kiosks in offices across the city to allow customers to make their purchases in advance. The company, which owner Daniel Moxon started last year on a site once owned by Starbucks, is spending £500,000 on the kiosks and so far has an order for 56. The service allows customers to buy lunch on a touch screen with a bank card and Moxon plans to expand the concept if it is a success. He told the Hull Daily Mail: “A lot of our customers are busy people and they don’t have time to go out. All they get is a bap van near the office, which isn’t the healthiest of options. They can order on our kiosks and we deliver food every day. We’re always trying to find something different to bring in more customers.” In addition to the scheme, Moxon recently bought a new £11,500 coffee machine for his shop at The Pod in St Andrew’s Quay in a bid to provide Hull’s best blend. He is also set to open two more stores, one in Beverley and another in Hull city centre, later this year.

Mint Group launches Mommi restaurant in Clapham: Mint Group has launched Mommi, a Japanese-Latin “raw bar and grill” in Clapham High Street in London. The company says Mommi “blends two diverse culinary cultures to offer a menu that focuses on naturally nutritious raw and Robata-grilled dishes”. The 85-cover, 2,750 sq foot restaurant features a collection of photography by famed photographer Ben Watts, brother of actress Naomi, and a bespoke mural by internationally acclaimed Melbourne street artist Rone. Executive chef Paul Sowden has devised what the company described as a “market-style” menu of small plates made for sharing, focused on both Japanese and Latin influences and techniques. Drinks include a priced-to-experiment South American wine list and cocktails such as Mommi’s Sangrita that gives the classic Margarita a deep twist of heat. Mommi is the sixth site for Mint Group, whose portfolio includes the multi-media live music venue Koko in Camden, north London, Mary Janes in the City, the ELK Bar in Fulham and Bison & Bird in Clapham.

Entrepreneur plans new Bath brewery with Grupo Modelo-linked head brewer: An entrepreneur, who sold his cloud-based IT business serving the transport sector in 2012, is investing over £300,000 in establishing a new high quality brewery and taproom in the West Country. Chris Lewis, founder of Electric Bear Brewing Company, began building the brewery in early 2015 at a site in Bath and will start brewing in the middle of this month. A 5,000 sq ft industrial unit is being transformed into a brewery and taproom and is set to open in early August with a 15bbl capacity. The brewery is initially concentrating distribution on the West Country, which already has a lively craft beer scene. However, the brand plans to pave the way for national expansion across both on and off-trade. Lewis said; “I’m a passionate beer fan and have been a keen home brewer for years. It might sound like a cliché but when I sold my business in 2012 I took the opportunity to invest in a sector I’m passionate about. The craft beer scene is exploding across the UK with lots of people doing some really interesting things, however I believe there is still plenty of room to grow and innovate. And that’s what we want Electric Bear to do. We’re not afraid to put our money where our mouth is. The brewing kit was meticulously chosen and we’re planning on entering our beers into industry awards within the first six months of brewing.” Launching with five core beers and a dedicated focus on outstanding beer quality, Electric Bear has recruited award-winning head brewer Guillermo Alvarez. Alvarez is a third generation brewer. His grandfather was the main shareholder and distributor of Grupo Modelo in Mexico. His uncle Carlos Alvarez was a key player behind the iconic Corona Beer brand. A trained biochemist, Alvarez cut his teeth at St Austell brewery where he worked as lab technician and quality controller. He has also brewed award-winning beers for The Rebel Brewing Co in Cornwall.

JD Wetherspoon opens third Gloucester pub: JD Wetherspoon has opened its new pub in Gloucester (population: 121,900) – its third site in the city. The company has spent £200,000 on The Lord High Constable of England, which is located in the former Coots Cafe building next to the Waterways Museum in Gloucester Docks. The pub, which has created 90 jobs, is decorated with old mariners’ lamps, boating equipment and images from bygone eras as a nod to the nautical history of the area. Manager Chris Stevens told The Gloucester Citizen: “It’s exciting. It’s been great to open the bar in the Docks as they’re really on the up. When I moved to Gloucester everyone went to Cheltenham and now the Docks is bringing them back.” The company has two other pubs in Gloucester – the Regal at the former cinema in King’s Square and the Water Poet in Eastgate Street.

Marco Pierre White franchised site to open at Leicestershire hotel: Marco Pierre White franchised restaurant, Steakhouse Bar & Grill, is to open at The Hinckley Island Hotel, Leicestershire, this summer. The new restaurant will serve a handpicked range of contemporary British classics and is expected to open in August following a £310,000 refurbishment of the hotel’s restaurant. The Hinckley Island Hotel offers 362 bedrooms and is situated just off the M69 motorway between Leicester and Coventry. The new 180-seat restaurant will be operated under a franchise agreement with Black and White Hospitality, which owns the master franchise with Marco Pierre White for the Steakhouse Bar & Grill brand. Tony Hill, executive general manager at The Hinckley Island Hotel, said: “The opening of the MPW Steakhouse Bar Grill is a clear statement of intent regarding our ambition for The Hinckley Island Hotel to become the leading conference venue in the Midlands.”

Former Nobu Europe director launches seafood venture in London serving ‘waste’ fish: Former Nobu Europe director Kurt Zdesar has launched a new seafood venture in London that serves “waste” fish. Zdesar, who brought Nobu to London, has opened Bouillabaisse in Mayfair, which uses the bycatch often thrown away by fishermen. He told the Evening Standard: “We have baby Dover sole on the menu. It’s the sort of fish that would get thrown back in because there’s no market for it. It might appear it’s a bad thing to have, but it is caught, it is dead, and that’s a more sustainable way to use it than let it go back in the sea.” Zdesar claims “100%” of the seafood at the Mill Street venue is sustainable, but admits that means it is not cheap. Most of it comes off a boat in Devon, with less popular wild fish such as gurnard on the menu.

Texan barbecue restaurant concept Austen’s Smokehouse to launch first venue in Kensal Rise: Texan barbecue restaurant concept Austen’s Smokehouse is to launch its first venue in Kensal Rise, London, at the end of July. The brand is the brainchild of DJ Yoda, who was inspired to open the venue by some of the food he had while DJing in the likes of Texas in America. The 80-cover restaurant in Chamberlayne Road spans two floors with bookable tables on the first floor and downstairs reserved for walk-ins. Austen’s will serve classic pit barbecue cooked slow and low in American smokers and will also have its own house lager brewed by And Union. DJ Yoda said: “My music has been inspired by food since day one so getting involved in a restaurant seemed like the next step for me to join my two great passions of food and music. So much of the music I play comes from the American Deep South, I felt like if my favourite music were a food, it would be barbecue. So, inspired by some of the amazing food I’ve had whilst DJing in places like Texas, here we are with Austen’s.”

Rochdale restaurant creates bedrooms and micro-brewery with Barclays backing: A restaurant in Rochdale, The Rake Restaurant and Hotel, has created four letting bedrooms and the Hay Rake Micro Brewery with a £300,000 bank loan from Barclays. Mark Wickham, owner and chef at the Rake, said: “It’s been a tough couple of years, not just for us but for the sector as a whole. But, far from withdrawing support, Barclays has given us the opportunity to refocus the company and introduce new capital – the business is in a great position now to grow over the next few years.” Martin Hirst, Barclays business manager, said: “With the introduction of the four new boutique rooms and a micro-brewery, we are confident they can capitalise on their business model to attract many customers to their unique and historic location.”

Freehold of O2 Academy Newcastle to be auctioned: The O2 Academy on Newcastle’s Westgate Road is to be auctioned at a Lambert Smith Hampton-hosted event, on behalf of its freehold owner, Newcastle City Council, on 13 July, with the property on sale for a guide price of £640,000. The venue opened in its current format in 2005 after Academy Music Group invested “millions” to restore the property. Following the major refurbishment ten years ago, the academy now comprises a two level auditorium that can hold about 2,000 gig-goers, as well as a smaller venue which can play host to 400. The venue was previously called the Carling Academy Newcastle before O2 struck a multimillion-pound deal to sponsor 11 establishments across the UK.

Novus Leisure launches summer alcoholic Popsicle range: Novus Leisure has launched an alcoholic Popsicle range for the summer. The handmade ice lollies are available in three flavours – Cuban classic Mojito, with Bacardi rum and fresh lime; Gin and Tonic, featuring Bombay Sapphire gin, tonic water and cucumber and finally a Popsicle that combines Grey Goose, lime and soda. They are available at the company’s Landmark, Premium Bar & Kitchen and Tiger Tiger sites across the UK throughout the summer. Sorrel Ward, head of marketing, said: “Novus is dedicated to offering customers an exceptional experience and variety, and these are sure to be a real talking point. With our new and exclusive summer Popsicle range, available in well-loved flavours, customers can cool down in style.”

Douglas Jack – trading remains weak at Greene King: Numis Securities leisure analyst Douglas Jack has issued a ‘Hold’ note on Greene King shares, with a 925p share price target, after yesterday’s (Wednesday, 1 July) full-year results, noting that trading remains weak. He said: “Full year profit before tax fell 3% to £168.5m (we forecast £167.2m; consensus £166.5m), largely due to disposal activity in the tenanted estate, which was not offset by like-for-like profit growth in the managed estate. We are holding our forecasts that reflect the Spirit acquisition. Our recommendation remains ‘Hold’ based on valuation, anticipating limited earnings growth in 2016E. Managed pubs/hotels (70% of Ebit in 2015) like-for-like sales rose 0.4% in 2015 (rooms outperformed food and drink), with margins down 40bps. The Metropolitan pubs in London outperformed, which implies that trading was flat-negative outside London. 32 new sites were added, below previous estimates of 40, which is understandable given the acquisition of Spirit Pub Company. Expansion guidance has been reduced to 15 units in 2016E (down from previous guidance of 30-40). The tenanted/leased estate outperformed with like-for-like net income up 3.5% and tenant financial health indicators continuing to be good. The estate has benefited from the disposal of 314 largely tail-end pubs during the year, helping average profits to rise by 15.5%. Brewing Ebitda fell 3.3% (-1.5% excluding 2014’s 53rd week), with own-brewed volumes up 4.2% and Ebitda margins down 100bps. The decline in profits was due to the tenanted pubs disposal to Hawthorne Leisure. Trading has remained weak in early 2016E with managed like-for-like sales up 0.6% (versus a comparable of just 1.1%), tenanted/leased like-for-like net income growth slowing to 1.2%, and own-brewed volumes falling by 3.7%. Overall, this is slightly behind. We expect the full £30m of synergies to be achieved by the end of 2018E, with £10m captured in 2016E. We believe Greene King’s freehold ratio has fallen to c.83% from 94%, with its cost of debt rising to over 7% from 6.2%. Given this, integration risks and a lack of like-for-like momentum in the managed estate, it is hard to justify the EV/Ebitda rating being above the current 2016E level, which is in line with the peer group average.”

Simon French – Stonegate most likely buyer of JD Wetherspoon package: Cenkos leisure analyst Simon French has tipped Stonegate Pub Company as the most likely buyer of the package of 20 JD Wetherspoon leasehold pubs placed on the market through agent CBRE. He said: “This is the largest disposal we can recall but the sites should attract decent premiums given their locations which will lead to a small but welcome reduction in group net debt. We would view Stonegate as the most likely acquirer of the sites if sold as a package.”

Freehold investment in Chalfont St Peter pub offered through Christie + Co: A freehold investment in The Bar at the George, in Chalfont St. Peter, Buckinghamshire, is being marketed by Christie + Co. The rental income is set at £60,000 until the next review in 2019. Stewart Harkness, of Christie + Co, said: “This extremely well located character building offers investors and operators the ability to benefit from a good income stream and net return, with the long term knowledge they have a substantial building with numerous alternative potentials in the future.” Christie + Co is inviting offers for the freehold and has had “good levels” of interest already.

Propel hosts Professor Chris Muller for Multi-site Management Masterclass: Propel Info is hosting the US’ leading thinker, teacher and author on multi-site foodservice management, Professor Chris Muller, at its next Multi-site Management Masterclass on Friday 2 October. 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.”

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