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Fri 10th Jul 2015 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Luke Johnson – food and drink retail sector ‘still a wonderful business to be involved in’, but the fight is on for pubs: Sector investor Luke Johnson has argued that the food and drink retail sector is still a ‘wonderful business to be involved with’ although pubs face a structural challenge from the decline in alcohol consumption. He told the Propel Multi Club Conference: “The sector remains relatively fragmented and it is still growing, albeit supply is outstripping demand currently. At heart, it’s experiential which means that we are semi-protected from the ravages of the internet, which I see tearing apart conventional retail. It is a very large industry – worth £70 billion across all food and drink retail. When you get it right, it is decent margin and it is good return and it provides cash profit. It constantly rewards innovation, which is one of the reasons why, generally speaking, most of the good ideas don’t come from the big boys. Take the pharmaceutical industry – it’s the giant pharma companies who can afford the R&D. But it’s the opposite in our industry – the good ideas come from the bottom up, from independents, from entrepreneurs. The giant groups can’t really hack it in the ideas stakes for the most part. So the sector benefits small, new players who take risks and there are rewards for those innovators creating something different and distinctive. There is lots of capital of every kind – crowd funding, angel investing, private equity in spades, and there’s the option of going public. Even bank debt is coming back and it’s relatively cheap in terms of interest rates. Having said that of course, competition has increased hugely. Property costs, particularly in central London are becoming really prohibitive. So unless you’ve got an astonishingly successful, busy concept then I think it’s very difficult to make central London concepts pay the way they used to.” He argued that pubs are facing one of the toughest challenges in the sector because of the rapid decline in alcohol consumption. Johnson, whose pub and bar investments include Grand Union Group, Draft House, Eclectic Bar Group and Laine Pub Company, added: “There are these major shifts in behaviour which are quite a challenge to wet-led businesses. The statistics on shifts in drinking behaviour amongst young people are somewhat hair-raising; the 20% decline we’ve seen in just over ten years in alcohol consumption across the UK is rather an extraordinary shift. How long that will continue is anyone’s guess. But it means that the fight is on if you are in the pub business, which I am.”

Industry News:

Fourth reveals average weekly sales of £18,000 at food-led bars and restaurants: A survey of 3,000 food-led bars and restaurants by Fourth Analytics has shown average weekly sales at these sites have ticked up 2.7% to £18,000 (from £17,600 in 2014) with average food mix of 77.2%, up from 76.6% a year ago, a forum held by BDO, Fourth and Barclays has heard. The last year has seen margin growth of 0.3% driven by food entirely. General gross margins that these businesses are achieving range from 76% to 78%. Average labour costs across the industry (as a percentage of revenues) are 28.8%, up 0.5% from a year ago. Pubs, because they achieve higher wet sales, produce labour costs lower, at 26.7% (also up 0.5% on 2014). Average hourly pay in the industry (based on these 3,000 sites) is £6.75, up 2.2%. Average length of service is 392 days, which means employee turnover of 93%. This has improved from 2014 when average tenure was 385 days, equating to employee turnover or ‘churn’ of 94%. The worst rate recorded is 210 days average service (6.8 months). Mike Shipley, of Fourth Analytics, said: “When analysing these figures, we see a direct correlation between companies that proactively seek to engage and retain their teams, and those companies that perhaps do less work in this area.”

Beds and Bars wins place in Sunday Times international growth list: Pan-European hostel provider Beds and Bars has been ranked at number 178 on the sixth annual Sunday Times HSBC International Track 200, which will be published within the Business Section this coming Sunday. The list is made up of Britain’s private companies with the fastest growing overseas sales. Last Friday, Propel reported that Beds and Bars chief executive Keith Knowles aims to more than double company annual turnover from the current £39.06m a year to £100m after the company staged a remarkable performance turnaround in the past two years. The current goal comes after the company, which operates bars and hostels in the UK and Europe, added £9m to sales in the past two years, growing from turnover of £30.2m in 2012.

New report warns of growing power of online travel agents: Online travel agents (OTAs) such as Priceline and Expedia have become ever-more powerful as a result of strategic acquisitions of smaller, regional players with Priceline now controlling 62% of the European market, while Expedia holds around 70% of the US market. As a result hotels that have become increasingly reliant on bookings from OTAs might soon be forced to work with just two main companies with limited options for negotiating on commissions. A new report from global hotel consultancy HVS says that while OTAs offer a number of advantages to hoteliers including a wide, multi-national reach and big marketing budgets, the commission rates of anything from 15% up to 30% are a heavy burden on hotel profit margins. Furthermore, a growing trend amongst OTAs is the launch of their own loyalty programmes, taking them into a head-to-head battle with hotel group loyalty schemes and threatening one of the unique selling points some hotel brands offer their customers. “Another limitation imposed by OTAs is their insistence on best price guarantee and rate parity amongst all channels, leaving limited manoeuvrability for hotels to make their offer more attractive. However, over the past few weeks there has been some movement towards more lenient regulations as imposed by anti-cartel authorities, mainly in Europe,” said report author Jill Barthel, analyst at HVS London.

Tube strike dents trade at West End bars and restaurants: The Tube strike damaged trade at West End bars and restaurants, The London Evening Standard has reported. Staff at Gymkhana in Albemarle Street, Mayfair, said it had received 30 cancellations of long-standing reservations. The Wolseley, in Piccadilly, also reported a “massive” number of cancellations but more walk-in trade. A spokesman said: “One of the reasons you can walk in off the street is because of the tube strike where there’s been massive cancellations. We had people due to come but the traffic did not allow them to get here on time and they were stuck.”

Camden delays Late Night Levy consultation after ALMR lobbying: Following rigorous lobbying by the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR), Camden Council has down-graded its previous consultation on a proposed Late Night Levy to an ‘informal exercise’. The results of this will be used to present a report to councillors in September as to whether a formal consultation should be launched. The move comes as a result of sustained lobbying from the ALMR, which included a detailed response to the consultation. The ALMR also submitted a number of freedom of information requests highlighting the fact that many members were unable to respond to the consultation due to a faulty link on the council’s website. The ALMR’s lobbying strongly suggested that this error may have invalidated the results. ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “This is fantastic news and a result of continued and persistent pressure from the ALMR and its members. We have obviously given them pause for thought and even if this proves only to be a temporary stay of execution, a delay is welcome. This is a significant change of tone and approach and hopefully suggests that the council is softening its approach to a levy.”

NPD – innovation needed in snacking market: Insights firm NPD Group has argued that innovation is needed to reverse the on-going decline in snacking, which saw a 3.6% decline in the year to March 2015. NPD argued the decline in snacking is still linked to the economic crisis which resulted in Britons choosing not to spend on non-essential meals and products. The company stated: “The snacking market requires innovation and diversity. To attract consumes to spend more during snacking occasions, consumers must invest in new product development, combined with attractive and competitive deals.” A total of £7.6bn is spent on snacks annually in the UK. 52% of spend is by women, 48% by men. Top snacking items are: coffee (19%), carbonated drinks (13%), sandwiches/wraps (13%), tea (10%), chocolate bar (8%) and burgers (6%).

Company News:

Betty & Taylors posts £10.8m per-tax profit: The family-owned Bettys & Taylors Group has increased pre-tax profits to £10.8m after a year of strong sales growth across its two businesses. In the year to 31 October 2014, turnover at the company behind the Bettys Café Tea Rooms and the Yorkshire Tea brand grew sales by 5%to £156m while profit before tax increased by £700,000. Group finance and resources director Paul Cogan said: “We are pleased that we have been able to deliver strong results in what is an increasingly competitive market. At Bettys & Taylors we continually strive to find new and innovative ways to delight our customers and to share with them our genuine passion for delivering high quality products that reflect our Yorkshire heritage.” The company comprises tea and coffee merchant Taylors of Harrogate, six Bettys Café Tea Rooms, Bettys Online Shop, Craft Bakery and Bettys Cookery School. The group contributed £411,000 to charitable and community projects in Yorkshire and in tea and coffee growing countries in the year. As a result of a quarterly bonus scheme, staff at the group received the equivalent of an additional six weeks’ pay.

LT, sector’s biggest outsourced management company, wins prestigious contract: The sector’s largest out-sourced management company, LT Management Services, which operates around 1,000 pub, restaurant, nightclub and hotels on behalf of third party owners, has won its first significant contract outside of the sector, Propel has learnt. The company will provide back office and finance support for SRC Products Limited, a subsidiary of Recyclatech Group, which specialises in various processes around the provision of rubber crumb to industry. Alan Stewart, chairman of the Recyclatech Group, said: “I worked with LT on both of the Thistle Pub Companies after the Maclays debacle and was very impressed with the service. For a small tech based company, such as SRC, it makes good sense to outsource the back office at a very competitive price leaving our executive team to concentrate on the critical value-add points of our developing business.” This latest contract follows LT Management Services’ previous success in winning a series of front-of-house and back-office support contracts for a variety of sector companies. LT’s back office, finance and HR-only support functions were launched three years ago when it took over service provision for the Little Chef estate whilst it was under the ownership of R Capital. The outsourcing of services by Little Chef to LT allowed the owner to create a more sustainable business platform, which allowed it to realise a strong return when the business was sold to Kout Food Group two years ago. It is understood that the long transition from LT to Kout Food Group’s usual structure is almost complete after LT continued to support the business for almost two years after acquisition. An industry observer said: “There is a growing trend in the sector and outside to out-source a variety of support functions to specialist providers like LT Management Services. It is an increasingly competitive sector and marketplace and a partial or total out-sourcing strategy is one very viable way of increasing margins or reducing overhead but leaving the all-important quality of customer experience unaffected.”

Hawthorn Leisure to unveil hand-crafted pub concept next week: Hawthorn Leisure, the operator of 388 pubs backed by May Capital and Avenue Capital, will launch its ‘hand-crafted pub concept’, Tap & Barrel, in Aylesbury Market Square next week (Thursday 16 July) after a six-figure investment. An all day artisan style food menu will be introduced on Thursday 23 July. The Tap & Barrel interior presents a contemporary craft pub with a twist, designed with generous use of timber and industrial light fittings and a bar area stacked with visible beer kegs to showcase the craft beer, retro furniture with dining seats for 60 people across two floors, as well as a timber coffee bench accompanied by high-top bar stools. Adding to the atmosphere of the pub is a vintage record player and a movie projector in the upstairs dining area, which will be screening classic black and white flicks throughout the day. The menu offer hand-roasted gourmet coffee (100% Arabica beans), fresh-to-order sourdough-based artisan pizzas, coarse-cut Red Tractor farm assured burgers. There’s a range of over 50 craft beers, sourced from across the globe. Cakes and patisserie items will also be available throughout the day. Hawthorn Leisure invested £2.5m in 70 sites in their first year and plan to continue investing £3m per annum in 60-70 projects across their estate in the next 12 months.

Coffee roaster 200 Degrees secures second Nottingham coffee shop site: Artisan coffee roasters 200 Degrees has secured their second coffee shop in less than a year. The Nottingham-based company started roasting coffee in 2012 and opened to rave reviews in Flying Horse Walk last October before winning a national coffee award and being shortlisted for the Nottinghamshire Food & Drink Awards after just six months of trading. The new site will be in the Gresham Parade development, a few yards from Nottingham Station. 200 Degrees aims to open its new coffee shop in early October. Managing director Tom Vincent said: “Being next to the station and the tram will bring us into contact with a whole new group of people and we will need to be more focused on takeaway drinks and food for busy people on the go. We will however still maintain the stylish and comfortable interior that we offer at Flying Horse Walk for customers who want to sit and relax with a coffee; we’ll even be adding some small booths for quiet chats or meetings.”

Blackpool businessman buys two Blackpool piers to add to existing pier: Businessman Peter Sedgwick has now bought all three of Blackpool’s piers. He acquired the town’s North Pier in 2011 and has now purchased the Central Pier and South Pier, which were on the market for £8.1m. Bilfinger GVA completed the sale of the piers on behalf of leisure operator Crown Entertainment Centres. The disposal comes after Bilfinger GVA oversaw the sale of Llandudno Pier in May 2015 as part of the same portfolio. Sedgwick, who currently operates rides on both Central Pier and South Pier, said: “To add these two iconic piers to our portfolio is extremely exciting and we hope to capitalise on group ownership of all three Blackpool piers to ensure that many thousands of visitors continue to enjoy these wonderful attractions for years to come.” Richard Baldwin, director at Bilfinger GVA’s retail, hotels and leisure team, said: “After considerable interest in both piers, we are delighted to have completed these two sales in such a short timescale. The conclusion of these sales together with that of Llandudno Pier is a clear illustration of a strengthening in the alternative leisure markets, which is extremely encouraging.”

Creams set to open in former Pizza Hut site in Newcastle: Creams, the London-based desert parlour franchisor, is to open a 19th site, this time located in a former Pizza Hut in Newcastle’s Bigg Market. Franchisee is Asim Mahmood and two of his brothers, who run a pharmacy business in Yorkshire. Creams sells over 40 varieties of hand-made gelato, freshly-made waffles and crepes, as well as milkshakes and gourmet coffee. “We’re bringing the Creams brand up from London and think it will do well,” said Mahmood. “There are around 14 to 15 stores in the London area, and it has done so well that the owners expect the total number of stores to double in the next six months. We have a team of builders currently working at the Newcastle building while I’m down at the Hounslow branch in Kent, going through training. My family and I are based in Leeds but we wanted to go into a city that’s growing fast and has the audience for a venture like this, and Newcastle really fits the bill for us to come and establish ourselves.”

Solita set to open fourth Manchester site: Manchester burger and steak restaurant Solita is to open its fourth site – and second in the city centre. The company, owned by Franco Sotgiu and Simon Pogson, will be opening the venue at the former Edward’s Shoes shop in Barton Arcade on Deansgate in January 2016. The new Solita will occupy the existing ground floor unit plus a 100-cover restaurant, bar and open kitchen on the lower ground floor. It will also see the launch of wood-fired pizzas on its menu, alongside the burgers and grill items it is traditionally known for. Sotgiu told The Manchester Evening News: “We’re running at full capacity in the Northern Quarter, with two hour waiting times not uncommon, so hopefully Barton Arcade will ease that pressure for our kitchen, and also open up an untapped area of Manchester for us.” Solita, whose original site is in the Northern Quarter, opened a restaurant in Didsbury last year. A third “super-site” will open at the end of August in Prestwich at the former Aumbry fine dining restaurant.

TGI Friday’s now nearly 80% franchised after selling 48 more sites to US franchisee: TGI Friday’s is now nearly 80% franchised after selling 48 more company-owned restaurants in the US to JIB Management, as part of the casual-dining brand’s goal to refranchise nearly all of its restaurants by year-end. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the deal requires JIB to remodel the restaurants and a commitment to open 16 new restaurants. Friday’s launched the refranchising initiative last September for most of its 247 company-owned US locations and some of its locations abroad. “Friday’s is a strong global brand, and we’re excited to expand our partnership,” said Anil Yadav, JIB’s president. “We look forward to building Friday’s presence in the Midwest by remodeling the existing restaurants and adding new stores to the region in the coming years.” JIB bought its first Friday’s restaurants in May with the purchase of 16 units in the Orlando market. JIB now owns and operates more than 300 restaurants across California, Texas and the Southeastern United States. In addition to 64 Friday’s restaurants, JIB owns and operates 220 Jack in the Box sites.

McDonald’s publishes soft skills report: The UK needs a robust framework to better recognise and promote soft skills, according to a report commissioned by McDonald’s UK. This publication is part of an ongoing campaign by McDonald’s UK to measure the impact of soft skills on businesses, and stress their importance to government and employers. The report found that many young people do not understand what they need to be work-ready, or how to progress their careers. There are four key recommendations in the report: create a robust, user-friendly soft skills framework; embed soft skills into the school curriculum; improve links between business, education and the youth sector to drive careers education for young people and soft skills development for all; encourage government departments to join up. Chief operating officer for McDonald’s UK and Northern Europe Richard Forte told HR magazine he wants soft skills to be valued more highly. He said “We would like a robust but user-friendly framework for businesses to quantify soft skills. We want to see soft skills given more attention in schools, and for businesses to understand their value. Working on these skills can be as simple as taking part in team sports or volunteering, But at the moment, one in five candidates are not confident in explaining their soft skills to potential employers.”

Viva Brazil to open fifth site – and largest yet – in Birmingham city centre: Brazilian restaurant chain Viva Brazil is set to open its fifth site – and largest yet – in Birmingham city centre in September. The company is opening the £1.2m restaurant in Bennetts Hill in the unit formerly occupied by Indian restaurant Isaacs on the corner of Waterloo Street. The restaurant is expected to create 40 jobs and will be able to seat 200 customers across two floors, making it the company’s largest. Founder and managing director Andy Aldrich told the Birmingham Post: “This is a major milestone for our business and signifies our long-term ambition to create a fantastic dining experience in the heart of Birmingham.” Viva Brazil is an authentic-style Brazilian steakhouse where professional passadors move from table to table, hand-carving a selection of slow-cooked meats from large skewers in front of customers. The company launched in Liverpool in 2010 and has sites in Glasgow and Cardiff with a fourth opening in Newcastle later this summer.

Jamie Rollo upgrades Whitbread shares to overweight: Morgan Stanley leisure analyst Jamie Rollo has upgraded his Whitbread share recommendation to ‘overweight’ with shares ‘now well below’ his £58 price target. He said: “We see Whitbread as a steady compounder given its leading market positions and weight of capex, and its calendar year 2016 P/E of 19x should be sustained by mid-teens Earnings Per Share (EPS) growth. Whitbread has leading positions in growth markets, is generating double digit EPS growth through strong unit expansion, and offers balance sheet optionality. Its 2020 expansion targets imply 50% EPS growth, and with modest like-for-like sales growth we forecast February 2020 EPS of 370p (12% FY15-20 CAGR). Our work mapping the UK to previous cycles is encouraging, and suggests we are only one-third to halfway through this cycle. International expansion and balance sheet changes are free options now. Whitbread dropped or pushed out most of its International targets at its FY15 results, and we think investors now expect little outside the UK. Similarly, the upcoming change in chief executive means little action is likely on the corporate activity front for now, be it a separation of Costa or some hotel real estate. At this valuation, we think any surprise in these areas is a free option. The recent pullback in the shares, while understandable, puts them at a 5-15% P/E valuation discount to Accor and IHG, yet we estimate Whitbread has stronger and more visible growth, mostly due to the sheer weight of its capex programme (capex = 80% of Ebitda). We think this capex will drive 10% annual EPS growth, and we forecast mid- to low-teens EPS growth including like-for-like growth, so we think the shares can sustain their high multiple for as long as this growth comes through.”

Bill’s opens in Taunton: Bill’s has opened at Orchard Shopping Centre in Taunton. The company has signed a new 20-year lease on a 2,500 square foot unit with the centre’s owner Rockspring, which was advised by Savills and KLM. Chris O’Mahony, director of retail at Savills, said: “Bill’s is an excellent new addition to Taunton and in particular, the Orchard shopping centre. We are now looking at development proposals to attract further restaurant operators to complement the existing high profile tenants at the scheme.” Bill’s was represented by Teague & Capital. Rockspring acquired Orchard Shopping Centre in January 2014. Savills and KLM are currently marketing further opportunities within the scheme.

Dalata opens Clayton hotel in Belfast: Dalata has made its first investment in Belfast city centre by opening a hotel under its Clayton brand. Clayton Hotel Belfast on Ormeau Avenue is the latest of 13 planned openings across the UK and Ireland. Acquiring the former Holiday Inn is part of Dalata’s strategy to assemble a portfolio of hotels in key city locations. The company is now set to embark on an extensive refurbishment project at the property. Pat McCann, founder and chief executive of Dalata, said: “It’s an exciting time for the Dalata team. Our strategy is to leverage the group’s core asset management, hotel operation and development capabilities to grow the business.”

Douglas Jack – it was a mixed budget for licensed retail: Numis Securities leisure analyst Douglas Jack has described the Budget as a mixed one for licensed retail. He said: “It should indirectly encourage higher revenues through raising disposable income, and reduce the corporation tax rate. We expect to make detailed forecast adjustments over the next few days, which should fully reflect increases in labour costs due to the National Living Wage (affecting managed operations), fully reflect reductions in corporation tax and assume minimal revenue benefit. Subject to managed orientation and year-ends, we expect earnings adjustments to range between plus 1-2% and minus 3-4%. On the positive side, it is a budget that encourages growth and higher disposable income. Some of the increase in the personal tax allowance and the National Minimum (now Living) Wage should benefit revenues within the sector. However, we are not going to assume much, if any, revenue benefit in our forecasts, although the reduction in corporation tax to 19% by 2017 and 18% by 2020 will be included in forecasts. Overall, we expect to cut PBT forecasts for 2016E (with year-ends after March) and 2017E for companies with managed operations to reflect the proposed 9% increase in the National Minimum Wage (NMW) from £6.50 now (£6.70 in October) to the new National Living Wage for over 25s at £7.20 in April 2016. This should then rise at a 5.7% CAGR to at least £9.00 in 2020. The impact will be influenced by the share of managed pub employees that are a) over 25, and b) over 25 and currently on the NMW. We would expect the majority of employees on the NMW to be under 25, with exposure to the NMW being even lower in London. However, we have to expect many employees who do not benefit directly from this legislation to still benefit from pay differentials being maintained. Our initial estimate is that the first full year annualised cost for a dedicated managed operation could be a c.5% reduction in PBT, 2-3% for a regional brewer, and minimal for a franchised/tenanted business. The first year impact should be diluted by the timing of year-ends, with possibly higher revenues and lower corporation tax then minimising the impact on EPS. Ability to raise prices should also affect the extent to which forecasts change. It is clear that most premium operators have a stronger ability to pass on rising costs. Managed discounters, such as JD Wetherspoon (reduce 700p), are likely to be worst affected, in our view.”

Lincoln & York reveals rebrand following expansion: Coffee sourcing, roasting and packaging specialist Lincoln & York has revealed a new corporate identity following significant expansion. The rebrand includes a new logo and completely redesigned website now live at www.lincolnandyork.com. Lincoln & York, which holds the largest roasting capacity in the UK, decided it was time to evolve the company image to better reflect the business, which has doubled in size in recent years. In 2014, Lincoln & York installed the UK’s largest coffee roastery and became the only large coffee roaster in the country to have its own on-site contingency operation. James Sweeting, managing director and co-founder of Lincoln & York said: “For a while we have felt that our corporate identity had been outgrown and we needed an image to better reflect the ability, scale and expertise of the company and our people. We are very pleased with the update and hope it will equip us for our expansion into Europe over the coming years.”

Dessert parlour brand Kaspa’s lines up first Surrey site: US-style “dessert parlour” chain Kaspa’s has lined up its first opening in Surrey. The company 18th site will be located at Two Rivers Shopping Centre in Staines – and opens next Wednesday (15 July). Last month, Propel reported that the brand has submitted plans to Canterbury City Council to create a new branch in the High Street, its 17th site. Kaspa’s sells waffles, speciality ice creams in 24 flavours, 12 flavours of sorbet, six types of frozen yoghurt, sundaes. milkshakes, smoothies and crepes. Meanwhile, Pret A Manger is also opening at Two Rivers Shopping Centre today (Friday 10 July).

Brighton burger restaurant Coggings & Co nominated for second award: Brighton-based burger restaurant Coggings & Co has been nominated for a second award only 15 months after opening. The company, owned by Andrew Coggings, has been shortlisted for the Sussex Eating Experience of the Year Award in The Sussex Food & Drink Awards 2016, which are voted for by the public. It comes after Coggings & Co received the accolade of “Best burger restaurant in Brighton & Hove” in January from The Brighton & Hove Independent newspaper. Coggings said: “Having been open for just over a year, to gain such recognition is wonderful and just shows how quickly the people of Sussex have come to love what we do.” Coggings launched Coggings & Co, which makes its own burgers at its Dyke Road site, in April 2014, three months after selling the Preston Park Tavern.

Two Ramada hotels sold for more than £21.5m guide price: Two Ramada sites, The Ramada Salford Quays hotel and Ramada Birmingham Mailbox have sold for more than their £21.5m asking price. MCAP Global Finance, a UK subsidiary of the New York investment advisor Marathon Asset Management, bought the hotels from Shiva Hotels. They will be managed by Valor Hospitality Limited, on behalf of MCAP Global Finance and re-branded. JLL’s Hotels & Hospitality Group and Savills were responsible for selling both hotels. Will Duffey, executive vice president in JLL’s Hotels & Hospitality Group, said: “The combination of the exceptionally strong regional UK hotel operating market, together with the operational flexibility of these assets, drove considerable appetite from investors. With over 80 parties signing the NDA to consider the opportunity, we were able to drive an exceptional price in excess of the £21.5m guide.”

‘Greenest’ pub in England on the market: The freehold of the so-called greenest pub in England, The Kilpeck Inn in Herefordshire, is on the market with agent Colliers International. Heating is under floor and powered in winter by a wood pellet boiler which burns in concentrated bursts and heats a large hot water accumulator tank which in turn circulates hot water through the embedded pipework. Peter Brunt, from Colliers International said: “Designed with an eye on quality and long-term sustainability the Kilpeck Inn is a superb example of what can be achieved in a contemporary country pub. Our client’s vision and energy has provided a wonderful space with impeccably green credentials that will ensure much lower than normal running costs for years to come.” The Kilpeck achieved net sales of £397,000 net of VAT under management in its most recent year.

Plans approved for £5m redevelopment of Wednesbury retail park, which includes three new restaurants: Plans have been approved for a £5m redevelopment of the Gallagher Retail Park in Wednesbury, West Midlands, which will include three new restaurants. Quadrant Estates has been granted permission by Sanwell Council for the scheme with work expected to start in January. The new restaurant units will be built at the centre of the site, off Axletree Way, on land that is currently used for parking. Quadrant told the Express & Star it is in talks with national restaurant chains in a bid to sign them up for the units, with the businesses set to open by the end of 2016. They will join existing companies, including Pizza Hut, Burger King and Starbucks. The plans also include an additional 101 parking spaces at the retail park, which is near junction 9 of the M6, and changes to the layout to make it easier for shoppers to get around and ease congestion.

Freeholds of Jurys Hotel portfolio sold for £80m: McAleer & Rushe has sold the freeholds of a regional portfolio of Jurys Inn hotels to four separate purchasers for £80m reflecting a blended net initial yield of 6.9%. McAleer & Rushe sold the freehold of the 170-bedroom Jurys Inn, Western Way, Exeter to Lasalle Investment Management (LIM) for £16.5m. A UK institutional client of Sladen Capital Partners has bought the long leasehold interest in the 310-bedroom Jurys Inn, 31 Keel Wharf, Liverpool for £29.25m. The Charities Property Fund managed by Savills Investment Management (SIM) has acquired the Jurys Inn hotel in Derby for £14.85m. The 213-bedrooms property is located in the Cathedral Quarter of the city. The final hotel which was sold to a private investor for £20m is the 264-bedrooms Jurys Inn Station Street, Nottingham. Rob Millar director at Steerforth, who advised McAleer & Rushe on the sales, said: “The company decided to take advantage of the strong regional hotel market in order to release capital for future development and investment activities.” Both the private investor and SIM were advised by Cooper Rose Real Estate. LIM was advised by HSM.

All Star Lanes introduces new build your own burger concept: All Star Lanes, the UK’s original boutique bowling company, has launched a new ‘build your own burger’ concept, taking customisation to the next level. Customers can choose their favourite burger or hotdog base, then load it up from a selection of American inspired toppings, covering US classics from pulled pork to peanut butter! Each combo comes on a special ‘build it yourself tray’. All Star Lanes managing director Christian Rose said: “We are always looking to cook up new and exciting things for our menu, and we feel this burger has conjured up something different by providing a fully personalised and creative experience. Whether you have a touch of OCD and will organise your toppings neatly, or love to create a mountain of mess, we’re sure that diners will be able to make a mouth-watering bite. To date, these burgers have been a phenomenal success.”

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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