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Fri 14th Aug 2015 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Downing – new tax rules set to restrict activity of EIS-funded companies in the sector: Steve Kenee, a partner at pub sector investor Downing, has warned new tax rules will mean Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) funds can no longer, as of October this year, be used to buy a business, with profound effects on the EIS-funded pub companies that have flourished in the sector. Writing for Propel Friday Opinion, he stated: “Whilst we will never fully understand the workings of HMRC’s mind, we believe (the change to rules) is because EIS type funding has for many years been a popular source of funding for management buy-outs. However, rightly or wrongly, management buy-outs aren’t seen as high risk or driving growth. Further, the EU feels that the tax breaks give these companies an unfair competitive advantage over other, non EIS-funded EU companies. As a result, the purchase of shares has been a non-qualifying use of funds for a number of years. However, many funding providers have sought to get round this issue by purchasing trade and assets instead. We believe the new changes have been introduced in order to close this loophole and that pub companies have been caught in the unintended crossfire. The irony is that most of the pub companies that have raised money under the EIS have used it to purchase dying pubs on dying high streets. These pub companies then invest significantly into the properties in order to reposition them and bring them up to date. The investment not only revitalises the pub itself but can also have a profound positive impact the local area. This drives employment and fills the government’s coffers with VAT, PAYE/NI, corporation tax, and rates. If this isn’t driving growth then I don’t know what is. It would also be very hard to argue that a UK pub will have any impact on other businesses in the EU. So what does this mean for the sector? Well the first thing to note is that the rule changes do not explicitly prohibit EIS funds being used for pubs, rather it is the purchase of a business that has been prohibited. This means that new-build or change of use sites should still qualify, as would buying a site which had been closed and boarded up for some time. It may also be possible to purchase a tenanted pub if you convert it to a managed house at the point of purchase. However, another sting in the tail is the current drafting appears to prohibit a company which raises EIS funds now from purchasing a business for the next three years regardless of whether this purchase is from the EIS fund raise or not. This means that if a pub company raises EIS money to purchase a number of closed pubs (qualifying) it would be prevented from buying an existing pub for the next three years regardless of how this is funded. So, whilst not impossible, we believe the EIS funding route will no longer be attractive to pub companies that want to grow their businesses by taking advantage of the best opportunities in the market, no matter what their guise.” See Propel Friday Opinion for the full article

Industry News:

Dave Henkes to present at Bar and Nightclub Conference: Technomic vice-president Dave Henkes is to present at the Bar and Nightclub Conference, which is being held on Tuesday, 27 October at Bafta Piccadilly. Henkes will examine the key trends in the US bar and nightclub market, with a focus of food and beverage growth areas. The conference, the first stand-alone event for this part of the market, examines the key issues affecting the markets with contributions from key figures within the sector. Tickets are free for operators and cost £145 for Association of Licensed Multiple Retailer (ALMR) supplier members and £195 for ALMR non-suppliers. Tickets can be booked by emailing Jo Charity on

Londoners drink the least amount of alcohol in the UK: Londoners drink the least amount of alcohol in Britain, consuming an average of six-and-a-half pints a week, it has been claimed. Figures obtained by The Sun show Bristol at the other end of the scale, with adults in the city downing nine pints or glasses of wine every seven days – a figure matched only by Glasgow. Newcastle and Manchester are just behind with an average of eight-and-a-half pints drunk each week. It is recommended men drink no more than 21 units a week and women no more than 14. A typical pint of beer or ale contains about two units – roughly the same as a medium glass of wine. Birmingham and Norwich drink just over seven pints a week, the paper added, while Cardiff drinkers – just across the Severn from Bristol – manage a little more than seven-and-a-half. The figures echo data released by the Office of National Statistics earlier this year that shows one in three Londoners is now teetotal.

Hackney Council postpones licensing consultation until 2016 after ‘mistake’:
Hackney Council has postponed its current licensing consultation until 2016 after a “mistake” in the consultation document. Jonathan Smith, partner at solicitors Poppleston Allen, said: “Hackney Council has decided to ‘take a step back’ from its current consultation in respect of the 2016 Statement of Licensing Policy, following the discovery of an error in the consultation document, according to an official statement published on Hackney’s website. The consultation included a proposal to increase Hackney’s Shoreditch Special Policy Area, where there is a policy presumption that new premises licence, and full variation, applications will be refused unless they can demonstrate the proposal will not add to the cumulative impact in the area. In addition, there was a proposal to introduce a borough-wide hours policy, with rebuttable suggested maximum terminal hours depending on the type of premises and its location in the borough. The consultation was due to finish on 14 August 2015. Hackney Council is now reconsidering its position and has said it will hold a debate later in the autumn to discuss the borough’s night time economy.”

Record number of Nottingham city centre venues achieve Best Bar None accreditation:
A record number of licensed premises in Nottingham city centre have succeeded in gaining Best Bar None accreditation. Best Bar None is a national initiative supported by the Home Office, designed to promote the responsible and effective management and operation of licensed premises. In Nottingham city centre the scheme has been run by the Nottingham Business Improvement District since 2010. This year, 51 licensed venues secured accreditation following an application process, independent assessments of their applications and visits to the venues.

Company News:

Tossed well-placed to hit crowdfunding target, reports record first quarter and first day sales record at Welcome Break: Tossed, the healthy eating brand founded by Vincent McKevitt, is well-placed to hit its crowdfunding target on Seedrs, having raised £600,089 towards its target of £750,009 in return for 5.5% of its equity. The fund-raising values Tossed at £12,882,458 pre-money. At an investor event, finance director Neil Sabba reported record quarter one sales of £2.3m in the period between March and June, which generated Ebitda of nearly double its quarter one budget. Meanwhile the company has secured a 1,600 sq ft site in the City of London, which will be its 16th company-owned store and the 25th Tossed in total. The sixth Tossed at Welcome Break opened last Friday with digital menu boards and a full grab-and-go display. It has replaced a Papa John’s site and recorded the highest opening day’s sales of any of its service station sites so far. Among the investors in the crowdfunding campaign is Tossed chairman Rod McKie, who is also Welcome Break chief executive, who has invested £19,900. Store sales in the last financial year were £8.2m, representing annual growth of 30.3% and 8.8% like-for-like growth. The fund-raising campaign expires in 20 days.

Freshii launches first franchised store in Ireland, franchisee plans to open more than 40 branches across country: Canadian-based health brand Freshii has launched its first franchised store in Ireland with the franchisee planning to open more than 40 branches across the country. The company has opened at the Docklands’ International Financial Services Centre in Dublin in the CHQ Building. Master franchise holders Dave O’Donoghue and Cormac Manning told Irish Mirror Online they have a goal of opening more than 40 stores throughout Ireland over the next three to five years. O’Donoghue said: “There has been a void in the fresh food market here in Ireland, and I know guests will instantly adore and crave Freshii’s menu items. We look forward to making clean eating approachable with unique offerings, such as beet slaw, juice cleanses and homemade salad dressings.” Freshii serves a wide variety of items including soups, salads, wraps, burritos, frozen yogurt and juices. The company was launched in Toronto in Canada in 2005 by Matthew Corrin and now has more than 160 sites across 12 countries including the US, Saudi Arabia and Guatemala.

Camden freehold housing Wagamama sells for £4.85m: Coffer Corporate Leisure has advised a private client on the acquisition of a freehold in Camden, located at 9-11 Jamestown Road, which houses a Wagamama restaurant. The site was acquired for £4.85m, reflecting a net initial yield of 4.35%. Wagamama pays a passing rent of £223,000 per annum at the 7,700 sq ft restaurant. Jack Silvani, of Coffer Corporate Leisure, said “The footfall in Camden is simply unrivalled by any other non-central location. There is huge demand for restaurant premises in the area, which is significantly enhancing Camden’s rental growth prospects. The insatiable central London investment market continues to exceed expectations. Prime yields for well-let, central London leisure investments now fall between 3.50% and 4.00%, with many changing hands at even sharper levels.” Agents Allsop acted for the vendor, a private client.

East Midlands-based 45 West Distillers set to launch first bar and shop: East Midlands-based gin distillery 45 West Distillers is set to launch its first bar and shop. The company, owned by Phil Burley, Graham Veitch, and master distiller Jamie Baxter, is opening 45 West in Hotel Street in Leicester on the site of the former hi-fi specialist Cymbiosis. 45 West Distillers – which makes Burleighs gin – will also relocate the headquarters of its sister business supplying distillery equipment to the new site, which is expected to open in September. The shop will sell Burleighs gin and other high quality spirits, as well as American craft beers. It will also have a wine department overseen by experts at Loughborough wine and spirit merchants George Hill. At night it will become a bar offering cocktails, wines and craft beers. Burley told the Leicester Mercury: “Burleighs gin was our creation and is our baby, and we want the bar to be the same.” Burleighs will continue to be made at 45 West Distillers’ craft distillery in the Charnwood Forest at Nanpantan, near Loughborough. The company began operating a single gin still in July last year, producing up to 600 bottles a week, which are on sale at bars across the country.

Town & Country Inns plans six Fleet Street Kitchen sites after Apres sale: Town & Country Inns, led by Mark Jones, is planning to open six new Fleet Street Kitchen sites after selling two Apres venues, located in Solihull and Lichfield, to Intertain yesterday (Thursday, 13 August) through agent Christie + Co. Both sites will be refurbished and reopen as new style Walkabouts in September, in time for the Rugby World Cup, after a £1m refit. Apres bars in Cheltenham and Sutton Coldfield continue to trade successfully and will be retained by Town & Country Inns. Town & Country Inns will reinvest the proceeds in expanding its successful Fleet Street Kitchen brand and will be working with Christie + Co to seek out new sites. Simon Chaplin, director, corporate pubs and restaurants, Christie + Co, said: “The two Apres bars were sold in an off market deal to Intertain as we recognised they would be an ideal fit for its new style Walkabout’s. As a result we now look forward to working closely with Town & Country on its own expansion programme and development of the Fleet Street Kitchen brand in the West Midlands and further afield.” Jones added: “We view Fleet Street Kitchen as the jewel in our crown and we’re looking at rolling out six new venues over the next three years, working closely with Christie + Co which facilitated a robust and efficient sales process for the two Apres bar sites.”

Burger King opens largest restaurant yet in France revealing new design that will be rolled out across Europe: Burger King has opened its largest restaurant yet in France, which has been used to reveal the company’s new architectural design that will be rolled out in sites across Europe. The company has opened the 900 square metre site on the second floor of the Les 4 Temps mall in the La Defense business district of Paris. The restaurant, which has 250 seats, three kitchens and 12 order terminals, also has the company’s new design that will be introduced across Europe, reports Luxemburger Wort. Burger King is now emphasing the wood in its restaurants for an American loft effect. The use of raw materials like metal and exposed brick creates a refined environment. Customers can sit in either a lounge space or intimate booths and learn more about the company’s history and evolution thanks to a wall of photographs. The company returned to France nearly three years ago, 15 years after leaving the country.

Four-strong pub operator Redwell Brewery to install distillery in Norwich pub: Redwell Brewery, which produces craft beer at its Bracondale site and runs four pubs around Norwich, is set to open a gin distillery at The Ten Bells pub in St Benedicts Street. The new distillery, which is being imported from America, is set to be installed at the end of October and would be capable of producing 1.5 million bottles of gin per year. Patrick Fisher, co-owner of Redwell, said there would be distillery tours to explain the gin-making process to people, and a wealth of different gins for pub-goers to enjoy. “There’s not an abundance of distilleries in Norfolk so we thought we would have one that locals can see, bottle their own gin, put their own inscriptions on if they want to do it as a present,” he explained. “We’re really proud of where we’re from and we hope it’s something Norwich people will like and the product will be good enough.” The in-pub distillery could produce a batch of 4,700 bottles, of 70cl each, per day, and could be used to produce vodka as well as gin. Bosses are awaiting trademark protection before revealing the brand name for the new gin, and the venture has created three jobs.

Little Chef owner Kout Food Group acquired Costa franchisee Coffee Snobs for £3,250,710:
The Kout Food Group acquired Costa Coffee franchisee Coffee Snobs in July 2014 for £3,250,710, newly filed accounts have revealed. Kout Food Restaurants UK already operated eight Costa Coffee shops in the south west, and also had a portfolio of more than 170 restaurants in the UK, operating brands such as Burger King, Little Chef, KFC as well as home-grown concepts such as Maison Blanc and Cha Cha Moon. This acquisition of a Costa franchise partner last year meant the addition of a further 14 outlets to the UK division. Coffee Snobs was incorporated in 2004 and is based in Ruislip, west London. It had Costa locations in Beaconsfield, Berkhamsted, Marlow, Potters Bar, Princes Risborough, Ruislip, South Harrow, Stanmore, Stockley Park, Tring, and Wendover.

Patara secures fifth London site: Acting on behalf of the landlord, agent Shelley Sandzer has secured a fifth site in London for fine Thai cuisine restaurant, Patara. Located at 5 Berners Street, the unit of approximately 4,000 square foot will trade over a ground and lower ground floor, each being 2,000 square feet. The first Patara restaurant opened in London 25 years ago and the brand has since grown to include sites in Vienna and Geneva, as well as Singapore, Beijing and Thailand. The new Patara restaurant on Berners street is due to open in November and will have space for a total of 100 covers. Nick Weir, joint managing partner at Shelley Sandzer, said: “Located next door to the acclaimed Berners Tavern and London Edition Hotel, this is an excellent site for Patara.”

Caledonian Heritable reports turnover up, profit down: Caledonian Heritable, the Scottish operator of pubs and restaurants led by Kevin Doyle, has reported turnover rose to £33,708,307 in the year to 31 October 2014, up from £32,247,983 the year before. Pre-tax profit slipped to £5,054,363 compared to £5,379,582 the year before. The bars, restaurant and nightclub part of the business saw turnover rise to £24,151,346 (2013: £23,241,278), with golf courses producing steady turnover of £3,916,218 (£3,907,688). The company sold its waste management business during the year.

Devon-based Ode set to open new pizza cafe concept at holiday park: Devon-based cafe brand Ode is set to open a new pizza cafe concept in partnership with a holiday park next Easter. The company is launching Ode&Co – a 120-seat venue at the refurbished Coast View holiday park, owned by South West Holiday Parks, in Shaldon. Ode&Co will offer artisan sour dough pizza cooked in a wood fired oven from an open kitchen and also have takeaway and delivery services using electric vehicles. The cafe will also serve pasta and feature a deli and bar. It will be the latest venture by the company, which launched Ode on the Road in July, which involved a vintage horsebox trailer with a wood-fired oven travelling as a pop-up across Devon with the tagline “true food on the move”. Ode has also opened a second cafe at Gara Rock in Salcombe to compliment its original site in Shaldon.

McDonald’s partners Nintendo again for Happy Meals giveaway:
McDonald’s is partnering Nintendo again to include eight new Mario toys in its UK Happy Meals package, starting this week. It’s the second time in two years that Nintendo and McDonald’s have joined forces. Last summer’s promotion offered another range of eight Mario figures. This year’s collection of the toys are different – a jumping Mario with a musical coin block, Luigi, Yoshi, Boomerang Mario, Princess Peach, Fire Mario and Penguin Mario are available. Customers can also obtain a wearable Mario visor.

Bristol-based steakhouse brand The Ox to start expanding with second site in Cheltenham:
Bristol-based steak brand The Ox is to start expanding by opening a second site in Cheltenham. The concept, which launched in 2013, is expecting to open the 100-seat venue, in an undisclosed location, by October. Managing director Nathan Lee told the Gloucestershire Echo: “We have taken our time and must have looked at around 20 sites in various cities in the region but we were instantly impressed by what Cheltenham had to offer. There’s a really nice vibe, great open spaces, beautiful architecture and a food and drink loving population. There are some really strong independent restaurants and bars in Cheltenham and we want to join them and balance out the food and drink offering which has been largely dominated by large national chains.” Lee set up Bristol bars Hyde and Co and The Milk Thistle with two business partners five years ago before launching The Ox in Corn Street in November 2013.

Dorbiere Pub Group to reopen Blackpool pub – complete with brewhouse – following £500,000 investment: Dorbiere Pub Group is to reopen a pub in Blackpool following a £500,000 investment – complete with on-site brewhouse – next Friday. The company, which acquired The Bloomfield in Ansdell Road – traditionally popular with Blackpool FC fans – last year, has rebranded the venue the Bloomfield Brewhouse and Barbecue. The three-storey building has been transformed but a mural of former Blackpool FC star Sir Stanley Matthews remains while a glass canopy has been added so customers can eat and drink outside. It will boast cask ales, craft beers and even its own signature ale from the on-site brewhouse. Dorbiere project manager Anne Brooks told the Blackpool Gazette: “We believe Blackpool deserves a venue like this – a top-quality, good value approach to dining and socialising with an innovative twist.” Dorbiere owns more than 50 pubs including the Boars Head in Marton, just outside Blackpool.

Draft House sets up Beer World Cup tournament across estate:
Draft House, the seven-strong operator led by Charlie McVeigh, is marking the Rugby World Cup by pitting its three east London pubs (Team East) against its four west London pubs (Team West) in the Rugby Beer Cup. The teams will each create a beer with a local brewer and the winner will be the pub that sells the most pints during the tournament. Team East is collaborating with Redchurch Brewery to create Sin Bin Session Ale, a “sensationally quaffable east London keg beer”. Meanwhile, Team West is hooking up with rugby fanatic Duncan Sambrook at Sambrook’s to brew The Hoppy Hooker, a west London cask ale. A Draft House spokesman said: “You might be forgiven for thinking it a little unfair that there are only three pubs in the east London team, but Tower Bridge, Seething Lane and Columbia Road are monster beer pubs – so much so that the teams start on a level playing field.”

Shropshire-based brewery Joule’s opening latest tap house in Congleton: Shropshire-based brewery Joule’s will open its latest tap house in Congleton, Cheshire, on Wednesday. The company has acquired the Prince of Wales pub in Lawton Street, which has been refurbished to restore its original features and enhance the cosy snugs and corners the site was once famous for. The tap house will serve Joule’s range of ales including Joule’s Pale Ale and Blonde & Slumbering Monk. The Prince of Wales will also be showcasing Joule’s craft lager Green Monkey, which will be alongside the brewery’s first craft seasonal beer Buffalo, an American pale ale. Joule’s retail director Neale Chandler said: “We are delighted to have such a great pub in a great location. We see ourselves as the sponsor of this great and historic old inn, so we are just getting to know everyone and looking forward to being a part of Congleton’s community.” The Prince of Wales will form part of a tap estate of 20 across the brewery’s heartland of Shropshire, Staffordshire and Cheshire.

New burger brand to open in Crouch End: New burger brand Burger@N8 is to open in London’s Crouch End on the August Bank Holiday weekend. It is being opened by locals Ali Mehmet and Bob Stamegna. The restaurant itself will be constructed of four shipping containers, which arrived on the site on 29 July. The chef is Maximilian Aynsley-Rigden, who has cooked with Raymond Blanc. All the ingredients used will be sourced from local suppliers and the company will donate at least 10% of annual sales to local charities and initiatives. Another initiative will see 100% of the net profit from purchases of The Wilde Cheesecake go to a local outreach scheme designed to take young unemployed youths off the streets and help them start careers in catering. Mehmet said: “With burgers everywhere you look at present, we couldn’t believe that Crouch End was missing out so we set about doing something about it. We’re both extremely passionate about the area, so we want the restaurant to give the area a boost and become a vibrant hub for our friendly, diverse and incredibly talented community, while also providing the best food and drinks in town.”
JD Wetherspoon to open 18-bedroom hotel in Worcester after £2m investment: JD Wetherspoon will open an 18-bedroom hotel at one of Worcester’s oldest coaching inns the Crown in Broad Street, on Tuesday after a £2m redevelopment programme. The existing pub, the Crown in Crown Passage, which opened in February 2004 on the site of a former coaching inn known by that name since at least 1669, is managed by Claire Heitzman. The new Crown hotel will be managed by Joe Ridge. Ridge said: “The reinstatement of a hotel to the Crown complex has reignited the historical heritage of the building, which was once a coaching house.” Meanwhile, JD Wetherspoon’s plan to open in central Welwyn Garden City has been delayed. The company, whose plan to convert 22 Parkway has inspired both enthusiasm and strong opposition, has postponed its licence application, which will be resubmitted when the planning issues are resolved. As the planning application has attracted so much interest and requires substantial further information, it will probably not be discussed by a council committee until October, pushing the licence determination almost to the end of the year. JD Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon said: “In the circumstances it would seem the best approach to ensure that planning can be considered before the determination of any premises licence application, is for the company to withdraw the existing application and submit a further application as and when planning matters are resolved.”

Historic stately home opens eco-lodges:
An historic stately home on the border of Leicestershire and Northamptonshire has launched a new eco-friendly lodge development within its 12-acres of land after securing a £1.9m funding package. Hothorpe Hall in Theddingworth has opened The Woodlands, which comprises 23 lodges with space for up to 100 guests. The development, which sits alongside the 215-year-old hall, also includes a bar, dining room and treehouse space. Nicola Firth, managing director of Hothorpe Hall and The Woodlands, said: “We want to add more facilities to the new development once we feel the investment has paid off.”

Consent given for 40-bedroom Commissioners Quay Inn in Northumberland: The go-ahead has been given for an inn with 40 bedrooms in Blyth, Northumberland, which will be open for business ahead of the arrival of the Tall Ships next year, creating 35 new jobs for the town. The Commissioners Quay Inn will be built by Arch, the Northumberland development company, and operated by hospitality and leisure specialists The Inn Collection Group, which has an expanding portfolio of inns with rooms across the north east and North Yorkshire. The development is the second phase of Arch’s investment at Commissioners Quay, adding a further £5m following the opening of Blyth Workspace in March and has a planning application for new housing currently under consideration. It is part-funded by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership’s North East Investment Fund.

Chicken deal allows restaurant to become 100% Scottish-sourced:
An award-winning Aberdeenshire fish restaurant and takeaway has become 100% Scottish-sourced for all its produce after a new deal was struck that guarantees the serving of Scottish poultry in the north east. For over two years, Alex Grahame, who owns Hornblower’s in Gourdon with his wife Ruth, has been campaigning to find a reliable and certified Scottish supplier for poultry. The restaurant is committed to 100% Scottish sourcing, receiving daily deliveries of fish from either Gourdon or Peterhead harbour, fresh meat from The Store and even salt for its chips from the Hebridean Sea Salt company. Despite this, affordable high welfare Scottish chicken was always missing from the Gourdon menu as a result of the country’s leading suppliers being tied in with exclusive supermarket deals. This shortage of chicken available for independent restaurants has meant that Hornblower’s has had to source its poultry from further afield. But now, thanks to help from supplier Braehead Foods and Richard Lochhead MSP, Scottish cabinet secretary for rural affairs, food and environment, an understanding has been formed that will see a proportion of red tractor assured poultry from Blairgowrie made available by 2 Sisters Food Group in Glasgow. This will allow restaurants like Hornblower’s to dish up the nation’s chicken to its customers. Grahame said: “This announcement is fantastic news for us and really signals an end to over two years of frustration in terms of countless attempts at trying to source affordable, Scottish, high-welfare chickens.”

Krispy Kreme submits plans for third Scotland site, eyes further expansion in the country: Krispy Kreme has submitted plans to open its third site in Scotland – and it is eyeing further expansion in the country. The company has applied to Glasgow City Council to open a £500,000 store at the Intu Braehead shopping centre in Renfrewshire. Chief marketing officer at Krispy Kreme UK Judith Denby told the Glasgow Evening Times: “The reception we received when we arrived in Scotland was overwhelming so we’re really looking forward to bringing the joy of Krispy Kreme to Intu Braehead later this year. We’re also actively looking for further sites in Scotland. We will keep our fans updated as and when we secure sites.” Krispy Kreme currently has two branches in Scotland in Edinburgh and Livingston.

Building in West End of London, home to Tiger Tiger and TGI Friday’s, poised to sell for £160m:
Haymarket House in the West End of London, which is home to Novus Leisure’s flagship Tiger Tiger site and TGI Friday’s, is poised to sell for about £160m. UK fund Hermes Real Estate is under offer to buy the 123,122 sq ft building at a yield of sub-4% from Land Securities, above the asking price of £150m, reports Property Week. The six-storey building on Haymarket and Oxendon Street includes the Tiger Tiger and TGI Friday’s units totalling 35,431 sq ft as well as 87,044 sq ft of office space, which is majority let to financial publisher Incisive Media. Haymarket House is being sold with the potential to increase office rents from a low average of £38.96/ sq ft for offices and £90.60/ sq ft on the retail space. Capital Real Estate Partners is advising Land Securities on the sale.

Merseyside’s biggest Costa Coffee franchisee targets ten more stores, aims to push turnover past £10m mark: Merseyside’s biggest Costa Coffee franchisee Optimum Group is targeting ten more stores across the region and push its turnover past the £10m mark. The company’s managing director, Mark Bryan, outlined its growth ambitions following the opening of its latest store in the Old Swan area of Liverpool. Backed by Yorkshire Bank, Optimum has spent £750,000 on the outlet in the former Red House pub on the corner of Broadgreen Road and Prescot Road, creating 15 jobs. Optimum operates 21 Costas, employing about 300 staff and currently turning over £7.5m a year, but Bryan told the Liverpool Echo there is the potential to grow further. He said: “Costa is a fantastic brand – a real destination brand – and we don’t believe the coffee shop market in Liverpool is saturated. We invest money into each outlet – each one is a minimum of £250,000 – and we are looking to open more across the Merseyside area wherever we think there is an appetite.” The company is one of the top five Costa franchisees in the UK.

Red’s True Barbecue confirms November opening for Liverpool site: Red’s True Barbecue has confirmed it will open in Liverpool in November, its sixth site. It will convert a former furniture shop at 53-55 Hanover Street, at the rear of the Liverpool One development. Set out over two floors, the building will undergo a £1.1m transformation, creating 150 split-level covers and will benefit from a standalone bar with late license. James Douglas, co-founder of Red’s True Barbecue, said: “Liverpool is a complete natural choice for the brand. The opening will shore up our northern stronghold, and connect up our presence along the M62 corridor. The design of this site will be the brand’s bravest creative direction to date, and we’re excited to see what the people of Liverpool think. Our vision to bring true barbecue to the masses is well under way; it seems the public have an insatiable appetite. The UK-wide launch of Red’s authentic range of barbecue sauces and rubs into Asda is showing extremely strong sales, and our recipe book Let There Be Meat is already a Sunday Times bestseller. With further sites currently in legals for 2016 we’re firmly establishing the brand as a market leader within the rapidly growing barbecue category.”

Technomic and Propel partner for UK and US foodservice trends and direction conference: Insights and research firm Technomic is partnering Propel for a full-day conference looking at UK and US foodservice trends and perspectives. The event is on Friday, 18 September at One Moorgate Place in London and attendees will also get a free copy of Technomic’s Top 500 US Chain Restaurant Report and the UK’s leading 100 foodservice brands worth a combined £800. Technomic’s vice-president Dave Henkes will give an industry update on UK foodservice and compare it with the US as well as providing forecasts and beverage trends in both markets. Fellow vice-president Darren Tristano will examine best practice in menu, concept and service among growth concepts as well as looking at consumer demands. Technomic’s Patrick Noone will provide insights on current UK trending menu flavours and preparations and consumer priorities and attitudes. Paul Damico, group president of Focus Brands – which operates several fast food concepts in the US including Schlotzsky’s Bakery & Café and Moe’s Southwest Grill – will share best practices around creating a unique positioning, culture and growth strategy. Propel managing director Paul Charity will also lead a discussion of senior executives about current consumer trends, menu and beverage trends. Those taking part are: Jon Yantin, commercial director of the ONE Group, Chris Gerard, founder of Innventure, James Nye, managing director of Anglian Country Inns and Ben Levick, director of operations, TCG Group. Tickets are priced at £295 plus VAT for operators and £495 plus VAT for suppliers and are available by emailing

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