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Mon 7th Sep 2015 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Jamie Oliver sugar petition hits 119,630 signatures: A petition launched by Jamie Oliver calling on the government to introduce a tax on sugar drinks to improve children’s health has attracted 119,630 signatures a few days after launch on Thursday, meaning it will be considered for a parliamentary debate. His campaign has won the support of Leon and Abokado, which are both levying a 10p tax on sugary drinks. The additional charge of 10p on all drinks containing sugar will be donated to the Children’s Health Fund, the brainchild of Oliver, which will be administered by the charity Sustain and support healthy food initiatives in schools across the country. Oliver said: “I’ve spoken to some of the brightest people in the medical world over the last few years and they all agree that action is urgently needed if we don’t want the NHS to crumble completely because of the costs of diet-related disease like type-2 diabetes. One doctor recently told me that diet-related disease is one of the defining crises of our time. We need the government to step up.” On Friday, Abokado founder Mark Lilley said: “We’re proud to be supporting Jamie in this campaign. It’s essential that we raise awareness of the dangers of consuming too much sugar, particularly amongst children. When Jamie explained to me first-hand how widespread the shocking consequences of excessive sugar consumption are amongst children, it was clear to me that we had to act. At Abokado, we’re fortunate to have a very wide range of all natural, freshly made drinks, the vast majority of which have no added sugar whatsoever. So our customers have a wonderful choice of healthy options. But that’s certainly not the case across our industry. As a father-of-four, I believe restaurant operators should take some responsibility for guiding the nation’s children towards healthier lifestyle choices.”

Industry News:

Toby Smith to present at Propel Multi Club Conference: Toby Smith, chief executive of London bar and restaurant operator Novus Leisure, is to present at the Propel Multi Club Conference on Thursday 5 November at the Lancaster Hotel, London. He will explain how the company is evolving its food, drink and entertainment offer, along with digital capability, to stay at the forefront of the late-night market in London and the regions. Multi-site pub, restaurant and foodservice operators can book two free places per company. Anyone who would like to book places should email Adam Dickinson on adam.dickinson@propelinfo.com

McDonald’s – it’s not possible to serve breakfast all-day in the UK: McDonald’s UK has published reasons why it’s not possible to serve breakfast all-day in the UK – It launches all-day breakfast in the US on 6 October. On its UK website, the company stated: “Items on our breakfast menu are cooked slightly differently and at a different temperature from items on our main menu. Unfortunately we don’t have enough space in our kitchens to accommodate the cooking and preparation of our breakfast and main menus at the same time.” It also stated: “The reason we don’t serve breakfast all day is due to the fact that the Universal Holding Cabinet (UHC) during the day is almost at full capacity and there is nowhere to store breakfast products as well as main menu items. Of course, it is up to the discretion of the franchisee manager if they want to offer a breakfast option throughout the day.”

Amazon hiring staff for new restaurant division: Amazon is adding staff for a new division dedicated to restaurants in Seattle and New York, with indications the unit is trying to rapidly expand a meal delivery service, according to posts on LinkedIn and the company’s jobs site, Reuters has reported. Amazon, has increasingly moved into services, offering customers the ability to book everything from plumbers to local getaways. The online retailer has trialled food delivery before but its move to form a dedicated division called Amazon Restaurants could mean it is preparing to enter the increasingly crowded meal delivery market and compete against well-established players. The exact purpose of the division is unclear but the job description of at least one employee in the unit suggests Amazon is interested in expanding restaurant delivery services beyond Seattle, where recent media reports say the company is already testing its own meal delivery program. There are at least 15 job openings for a division called “Amazon Restaurants”, based in Seattle and New York, according to a Reuters search on LinkedIn and Amazon’s own jobs site. There are also six other postings for “Amazon Restaurants and Travel”, which appears to be a separate unit. At least five Amazon employees have updated their LinkedIn profiles in the last five months to indicate they are working for Amazon Restaurants. One of them joined the division from GrubHub.

Public inquiry to take place over illegal demolition of historic London pub: A landmark dispute over the illegal levelling of a historic London pub will be decided by a public inquiry. The Carlton Tavern in Maida Vale was demolished in April without planning permission by Tel Aviv-based developers CLTX Ltd while under consideration for listed status. Westminster Council took the unprecedented legal move in May of ordering them to rebuild it brick by brick. But the enforcement action has so far been ignored by the developer. CLTX Ltd had previously been refused permission by the council to pull down the building and replace it with a new pub at ground level and ten flats above. The developer has since appealed to the Planning Inspectorate for it to be granted retrospective planning permission for its development. The company is also appealing the enforcement action forcing it to rebuild the pub. A date for the five-day inquiry is yet to be set.

Elior UK forces independent coffee shop to stop using Baker & Barista name: Contract caterer Elior UK has forced sisters Hannah Huntly and Beth Cook to change the name of their Baker & Barista venue in St Peter’s Street, Ipswich, which was launched two years ago. Unknown to them at the time, contract catering company Elior UK, had submitted an application a few weeks earlier to register “Barista & Baker” as a trademark. In April this year, the sisters received a letter from a firm of patent and trademark lawyers acting for Elior asking them to cease using the Baker & Barista name on the grounds that it was too similar to the company’s protected trademark. They have now agreed to change the name of their business to Applaud Coffee. Baker & Barista will close tomorrow, (8 September) and re-open under its new identity on Thursday (10 September). A spokesperson from Elior UK said: “Barista & Baker is one of our high street brands which we have to protect, so we asked the team at Baker & Barista to stop using our registered name. We appreciate they are a small company, so we gave them up to eight months to make the change. We wish the team a continued success with the cafe under its new brand, Applaud Coffee.”

Company News:

BrewDog funding-raising on Crowdcube nears £1m six days after launch, total US incentive package revealed to be worth $3.45m: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog is nearing the £1m mark in funds raised on Crowdcube six days after launch. The company’s 6.5% interest-bearing four-year mini-bond is proving more popular than its equity. So far, 239 investors have pledged £764,000 in mini-bond investment whilst 252 investors have committed to £155,990 of equity investment. The total investment stands at £919,990. Meanwhile, BrewDog has now acquired almost 51 acres of land at 96 Gender Road in Canal Winchester in the US for $1.5 million. The land transferred from previous owner Honda-supplier TS Trim Industries to BrewDog Columbus on 31 August. BrewDog is selling almost nine acres of the land to Canal Winchester for $400,000. That land is existing recreation fields at the back of the site, while the brewer will build its brewery and US headquarters on the remaining 42 acres, which are vacant. The craft brewer plans to spend $30.4 million eventually on the project, which is expected to open next summer. It will house a 100,000 square foot brewery, plus offices, a taproom, a restaurant and a visitors’ centre. Employment is projected at 170 by 2020 with an annual payroll of $6.54 million. Initial production is estimated at 85,200 barrels with an ultimate capacity of 852,000 barrels a year as it supplies North America. The project received state backing this year in the form of an eight-year, 60% income tax break, valued at $659,000, plus the support of Canal Winchester through a 15-year, 100% abatement estimated at $182,000 annually or $2.73 million over the 15-year term, according to information provided by the city. It also will waive some building, water and sewage capacity fees that tally up to about $320,000 in saved costs. The total incentive package from the city is estimated at $3.45 million.

D&D Restaurants plans six restaurants in the regions: Quagino’s operator D&D Restaurants is planning to open half a dozen restaurants in northern England and Scotland, with the first venue already announced in Glasgow’s Buchanan Street, The Daily Telegraph has reported. It is also looking at launching its first restaurants in the Middle East and its first outside Japan in Asia. “We’re doing more new ventures and we’re also building on the success we had last year in remodelling some classics of the London restaurant scene like Quaglino’s and Avenue,” chief executive Des Gunewardena told the newspaper. “We also plan to develop a small group of boutique hotels.” D&D is relaunching La Pont de la Tour near Tower Bridge, Sartoria in Savile Row and Alcazar in Paris. Next year, it will remodel Floridita in Wardour Street. “The business is doing well partly because the economy in London is strong,” said Gunewardena. “The recession for individuals post-2008 was actually quite short. The corporate recession was choppier and more sustained, but the restaurants that we opened in 2012 and early 2013 have all proved to be successful. The London economy is in good shape. People are eating out in London much more than they are in Paris. There’s an optimism in London that there isn’t in a lot of other cities. We’re making substantially more profits than we were in 2013 when LDC invested. Last year, we made earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of £8.4m on turnover of £98m and this year we will be showing quite a big jump in our revenues and profits.” That has led to talk of an exit for LDC via a stock market flotation. “There’s a rumour to say that we’re floating. I don’t know. I haven’t ruled it in and I haven’t ruled it out,” added Gunewardena.

Ed’s Easy Diner signs for Doncaster site: The Frenchgate Limited Partnership has signed Ed’s Easy Diner is to open a 2,600 sq ft restaurant in the Frenchgate Shopping Centre, Doncaster, in time for Christmas. Situated in a prominent location on Frenchgate’s South Central Square on the upper level, Ed’s new Diner is being created through the relocation and upsizing of two existing Frenchgate brands, Blue Inc and Garage Shoes. Frenchgate’s three latest additions bring the total of number of new lettings to 22 in the last 12 months, totalling almost 65,000 sq ft of space. Key enhancements to Frenchgate’s catering offer include the 5,887 sq ft pub restaurant, The Mallard, part of Greene King’s Hungry Horse chain. In addition, Georgian Café, an independent operator, has opened a 1,300 sq ft cafe, its second in the town, Burger King has relocated and upsized to create a 2,400 sq ft restaurant, and Juice has launched in a 580 sq ft kiosk on South Central Square. The catering additions also follow the reconfiguration of the Food Mall earlier this year.

Jamie Rollo – Whitbread shares trading at a 15% discount to peers: Morgan Stanley leisure analyst Jamie Rollo has reported that Whitbread’s shares are now trading at 15% discount to its peers. He said: “Over the last five years, Whitbread’s valuation discount has reduced from 30-40% to nearly parity, but is now back to a 15% discount. UK Hotel revenue per available room (RevPAR) growth has slowed from 8% in calendar 2014 to 4.5-5.0% over June/July, and weekly data suggest August will be softer at circa 3% with occupancy starting to slip. However, low supply growth in the regions, historical trends suggest mid-single digit RevPAR growth will be the new norm, so we do not expect growth to slow further. (This) week’s trading update (by Whitbread) is up against its toughest comps but we are positive on the shares as most growth is driven by new space rather than like-for-likes.”

Marston’s non-executive director buy 25,000 shares: Marston’s non-executive director Catherine Glickman has bought a total of 25,000 shares in the company in two tranches. Glickman bought 21,000 shares at 152.6843 pence per share and bought another 4,000 at 151.099 pence per share. The purchases are her first in the pub operator. Glickman is the group human resources director at animal genetics company Genus and the former human resources director at retailer Tesco.

Deltic Group to launch new Oxford site this week: Deltic Group, the UK’s largest nightclub operator, is to re-open its 1,300-capacity Lava Ignite site in Oxford’s Park End as Atik this Friday (11 September) after a £500,000 investment. Russell Quelch, regional director of the Deltic Group, said: “Lava & Ignite has been part of the Oxford scene for eight years, but it’s time to put it to rest and create an entirely new experience for today’s clubbers. We are confident that our existing and new customers will really enjoy the look and feel of Atik. We will still have mid-week student nights and hope to attract a more local audience at the weekend. With a line-up of internationally acclaimed DJs and celebrity appearances, we are confident that Atik will be a big hit.”

Investors Chronicle – ‘we rate The Restaurant Group as a Buy’: The Investors Chronicle has rated The Restaurant Group’s shares as a ‘Buy’. Columnist Bradley Gerrard stated: “Trading at 20 times forward earnings and with strong free cash flow and little pressure on costs, we’ll take more of a bite. The lack of meaningful food price inflation is proving a boon to Restaurant Group. Together with an eagle eye on expenditure, this ensured improving margins for the Frankie & Benny’s owner, in spite of wage cost inflation. In the first half, the company managed a ten basis point rise in its operating margin to 11.4%, pushing adjusted operating profit up 9% to £38m. The issue of chancellor George Osborne’s “living wage”, which mandates a rise in the minimum wage to £7.20 in April, reaching £9 by 2020, is not overly troubling management. Chief executive Danny Breithaupt predicts a £2m impact – far less than expected by other businesses such as support services companies. He says a high percentage of his staff were already paid above £7.20 an hour, especially skilled kitchen staff.”

Star Pubs & Bars to invest £336,000 creating pizza kitchen pub: Star Pubs & Bars, the pub arm of Heineken, is investing £336,0000 to convert The Horse & Jockey in Arnold, Nottingham into a pub and pizza kitchen renamed The Eagle’s Corner. At least ten jobs are being created as a result of the refurbishment. Chris Jowsey, trading director of Star Pubs & Bars, said: “The Eagle’s Corner is in a prominent position on the high street so we’re delighted to be creating a great high street family friendly pub which will appeal to shoppers, residents and workers alike. Money has been spent on installing a pizza kitchen front-of-house to allow customers see their pizzas being made to order, as well as a new bar and an updated function room for meetings, events and local activities such as club nights”. New licensee Dave Barrett said: “There’s nothing like The Eagle’s Corner on the high street in Arnold.”

Gusto eyes Lytham St Annes site: Gusto, the restaurant business that was spun out of Living Ventures two years ago and is led by Sue Crimes, is planning to open in Lytham St Annes’s Dicconson Terrace, occupying a grade II-listed building next to Italian restaurant Spago. Robert Silverwood, vice-chairman of the Lytham Business Partnership, said: “In a sense they are being quite brave but being a big restaurant chain they have time to establish themselves. It may bring extra footfall to the town too, which can only be a good thing.”

Snug Bars launches loyalty app: Seven-strong Home Counties operator Snugs Bars, led by Giles Fry and Ashley Moore, has launched a new loyalty app that allows customers the chance to collect points when purchasing cocktails or burgers with free cocktails, burgers or platters as rewards. The initiative will help drive sign-ups to the mailing list whilst strengthening guest loyalty and also allowing guests to find their nearest Snug Bar, browse current menus and get all the latest news and offers direct to their smartphone. Fry said: “We’ve been wanting to launch a loyalty scheme for a while now, but needed for it to reflect our customer’s demand for a simple compelling scheme in a digital format. The app has been designed and developed by the awesome in-house marketing team. We hope it has a wide-appeal due to its simple and achievable reward mechanics. We are delighted with the initial up-take.”

Former Michelin-starred restaurant in Ludlow to re-open: The former Michelin-starred Hibiscus site in Ludlow, Shropshire, which most recently traded as La Bacasse is to re-open as Mortimers. The restaurant in Corve Street has been shut since Christmas. It will be re-opened by local chef Wayne Smith, who worked alongside Claude Bosi at Overton Grange Hotel on the outskirts of the town. Bosi was the man who first opened Hibiscus and earned two Michelin stars. La Becasse shut in January, but there were hopes it would re-open as former owner Alan Murchison announced he would take on the lease but he pulled out in June. Smith said: “It’s still very much a work in progress at the moment, depending on licensing applications being approved and so on, but we’re looking at opening early October, hopefully. It has been recently refurbished – the only thing that has really changed is that we have had the bar reinstated as it was when it was Hibiscus.”

Plan for flagship Starbucks in Northampton is approved: An application to open one of the UK’s largest Starbucks in Northampton’s Market Square has been approved. The company announced the plans to open a store in a ‘landmark building’ in the market square in March. Now councillors have approved an application to open the outlet at the unit currently occupied by the That’s Entertainment music and DVD store. Concerns had been raised that a planning policy for the Market Square states 80% of the shops should be retail. With a new Starbucks and the potential for a restaurant on the Abington Street corner, that would fall to 64%. However, planning officers said the benefits of extra footfall outweighed the negatives. In July, the company said it aimed to open in late September and was looking to create 25 new jobs.

Exeter multi-site operators reopen sports bar destroyed in fire: Exeter multi-site operators George Sloan and Rob Skinner have reopened their Hole in the Wall sports bar just over a year after it was destroyed by fire. Sloan and Skinner, who also run the Old Timers and Timepiece venues, have invested hundreds of thousands of pounds restoring the bar in Little Castle Street to its former glory. Sloan told the Exeter Express & Echo: “It’s been a tough year and a bit. The place was devastated and we, more or less, had to start from scratch again. But I always try to look on the bright side.” The fire in June 2014 was started by a discarded cigarette in a bin outside the venue. The building was empty at the time and no one was hurt. Sloan and Skinner bought the Hole in the Wall two years ago.

Tennent Caledonian Breweries re-states support for minimum pricing in Scotland: Brewer Tennent Caledonian has repeated its support for minimum pricing in Scotland in the wake of last week’s European Court verdict on the proposed move. Managing director Alastair Campbell said: “Minimum pricing is an important step in addressing the very specific but damaging problem of strong, cheap alcohol. It would be a lost opportunity for Scotland if it were not introduced. Although the majority of people enjoy alcohol responsibly, the availability of strong, cheap alcohol and its impact on a minority of people and their communities is concerning. As always, we encourage the Scottish government to continue to show leadership. We pledge to support their aims and work with them on a wider strategy.”

Freehold of former late-night venue next to Cardiff Philharmonic Hall offered for £650,000: The freehold of former late-night venue next to Cardiff’s Philharmonic Hall is being offered by agent Christie + Co for £650,000. The Grade II listed building is adjacent to the former Cardiff Philharmonic Hall on St Mary Street. The five-storey period property formerly traded as a late-night venue and bar. It historically offered three distinct trade areas with a basement level nightclub, a ground floor lounge bar and a mezzanine seating area. Best and final bids are to be submitted by 2 October.

London’s first hot pot restaurant set for Soho opening: London’s first specialist Chinese hot pot restaurant, Shuang Shuang, will open in Chinatown at 64 Shaftesbury Avenue on 23 November. Seated at their individual hot pot, diners will choose from amongst 50-or-so British and Chinese ingredients on a passing conveyor belt to add to their stockpot and cook for themselves. The restaurant is being opened by Fah Sundravorakul, who ran a collection of restaurants in Thailand, before moving to London. He said: “Hot pot is something I have enjoyed ever since I was a child – at family get-togethers, birthdays, anniversaries and celebrations. It is a part of my Chinese heritage that I am very proud of. Hot pot is all about sharing and cooking good food with friends and family – choosing the ingredients, and creating something delicious together.”

Newcastle-based Chinese restaurant owner starts expanding with second site: Newcastle-based Chinese restaurant owner Shiwei Wang has started to expand his portfolio by opening a second site in Middlesborough. Wang has signed a 20-year lease on a 3,200 square foot property in Linthorpe Road to open a 120-seat venue called “Happy Villa”. Wang told Bdaily: “I have a successful restaurant in Newcastle and wanted to expand into Teesside. The property I have now is ideally situated and of the right size to accommodate the expansion.” The building is owned by property investor and regeneration entrepreneur Geoff Hogg who said: “The 20-year lease on this property represents a commitment to the Linthorpe Road area, which is a busy thoroughfare, where substantial investment is being made in the area making it an ideal location for a restaurant.”

Burger Breakout chef Dave Aherne launches Fulham restaurant with focus on beer: Dave Aherne, the organiser of the Burger Breakout pop-up, has opened his first restaurant, called Wahleeah, in Fulham High Street. Aherne has launched the concept after a series of successful residencies in venues such as Oslo in Hackney, east London and the Old Crown in Oxford Street in central London. Wahleeah features a list of more than 30 beers along with special beer and food matchings while many of the dishes are also cooked with beer including oxtail and onions in stout with horseradish toast; the Wahleeah burger, topped with beef bacon, horseradish cheddar and beer ketchup; whole bream with beer braised fennel and crayfish mash; and tuna meatloaf, polenta nicoise and bloody beer sauce. Aherne gained some of his earliest experience as a chef at Young’s pub The Ship in Wandsworth, south west London.

Chef Tom Hunt launching second Poco site today: Chef Tom Hunt launched his second Poco tapas restaurant on Friday (4 September), in Broadway Market in Hackney, east London. Hunt has opened the site with partners Ben Pryor and Jen Best, which, like the first venue in Bristol, focuses on organic and seasonal British produce. Seasonal tapas plates form the basis of the evening menu and represent a culmination of Hunt’s travel experiences, in Spain, Morocco and Latin America. The ingredients are sourced locally from small producers such as Dagenham Community Farm, Kappacasein Dairy, Fish For Thought, The Butchery, and Organiclea, a worker’s co-operative in Lea Valley. Hunt said: “Poco is a place for people to enjoy honest food, cooked simply. When I go out to eat, I like to know that the ingredients are well-sourced, ethical and of the highest quality, so that’s how we run our restaurant. We work with community farms in and around London to source the best organic ingredients, buying almost all our produce from the UK.” Hunt launched the first Poco in Bristol in 2011.

Ayrshire multi-site operator acquires Irvine pub: Ayrshire multi-site operator Alan Brown has added a pub in Irvine to his portfolio. Brown, who owns the Portland Arms pub and McChristie’s restaurant in Kilmarnock, has acquired the Porthead Tavern in the High Street from Chris Watson. He plans to refurbish the site and revive it under a new name, creating an additional 20 jobs. Brown told the Irvine Times: “It’s great to be taking over the Porthead Tavern as it’s a great community pub and there is not many of them left. Our first task is to refurbish the kitchen and lounge and launch it as Hamilton’s – after Provost Charles Hamilton, who once stayed in the Porthead when it was a house and whose son was friends with Robert Burns. Then we will freshen up the bar but keeping it very much the friendly local it is and hopefully rekindle the social club side that it was famed for and raising thousands of pounds for charity.”

Premier Inn opens on former Holiday Inn Express site in Nottingham: Whitbread-owned Premier Inn has opened its latest site at the former Holiday Inn Express in Nottingham city centre. The company bought the 120-bedroom hotel in Chapel Quarter for more than £7m earlier this year and has invested over £4m refurbishing the site, including a new Thyme restaurant. Half of the rooms are operating now with the rest due to come into use by the end of the month. The hotel has employed 40 staff, including 19 who previously worked for the Holiday Inn Express. Hotel operations manager Viki Tranter told the Nottingham Post: “We want to make this our flagship hotel in Nottingham, and we’ve got high hopes of being able to achieve that. The location is perfect because there’s quite a few businesses in this area and a lot of nightlife. There’s so much within Nottingham and we are in the centre of it.” The company has seven other hotels in Nottinghamshire, including another in Nottingham city centre.

Intertain to re-open Bar Risa in Birmingham as six-room venue called 6: Walkabout operator Intertain will re-open its Bar Risa venue in Birmingham Broad Street as a six-room venue called 6 this Thursday (10 September) after a £1m refurbishment. The food on offer includes New York-style deli sandwiches and the Six Burger, while hosting staff are called Bar 6 Angels charged with “sprinkling kindness, assistance and care”. Manager Mark Pook said: “We’ve been busy recruiting an additional 40 staff members, doubling the size of our team, to bring our service levels up.” The six different rooms are: a Speakeasy-style room accessed via a hidden entrance called Suds ‘n’ Duds, The Club Room, The Pop Room, The Terrace, Cabana Beach Bar and The Rock Room.

Maldon Brewing Company launches first micro-pub: Maldon Brewing Company has launched its first micro-pub and bottle bar in Maldon, Essex. The family-run company has opened the Farmers Yard in the High Street, which can accommodate 20 people. Co-director Nigel Farmer, told the Essex Chronicle: “It is a wonderful feeling to be open and to see the fruits of our labour. The sound of conversation inside is lovely. Our pub allows for conversation, it is for socialising with a beer and having a good chat about things.” Maldon Brewing Company is based in a restored stable block behind the historic Blue Boar Hotel in the town. The eight-barrel brewery started in 2002, and in 2011 fermenter capacity was doubled increasing production to 600 barrels a year.

JD Wetherspoon granted permission for Guisborough site: JD Wetherspoon has been granted permission to open a site in Guisborough, North Yorkshire (population: 17,777). The company has had its plan to convert the former Guisborough register office in Westgate into a pub approved by Redcar and Cleveland Council, reports Gazette Live. The conversion will involve extending the building and constructing a terraced area to house a beer garden. JD Wetherspoon said in its planning statement: “The proposed scheme has been designed to raise the quality of the building with a general refurbishment and contemporary extension, which will add interest and variety to the conservation area.” Agent for JD Wetherspoon John Wyatt told the council’s regulatory committee the property had been empty since 2013, it was a “good location” for the company and would bring 50 full and part-time jobs to Guisborough.

Premier Inn development sold for £4.8m: Lancashire firm Maple Grove Developments has sold the Premier Inn hotel in Blackburn’s Cathedral Quarter, along with a 3,500 square foot restaurant, to Knight Frank Investment Management for £4.8m. Preston-based Maple Grove, which is part of construction services provider Eric Wright Group, sold the 60-bedroom hotel and restaurant on behalf of Lancashire County Pension Fund. A town centre regeneration programme, worth £16m and pioneered by Maple Grove Developments together with Darwen Borough Council, will see a new mixed-used commercial quarter established in the area surrounding Blackburn’s cathedral, along with a new bus interchange. Graham Pilkington, a senior development surveyor with Maple Grove Developments, said: “We’re delighted to have secured a deal with Lancashire County Council for the new Premier Inn and ground floor restaurant, which shows the local authority’s confidence in the scheme and its role in regenerating Blackburn town centre.” The scheme, which is being built by Eric Wright Construction, is due for completion at the end of the month, while the Premier Inn is scheduled to open 9 November.

Nine pubs in south west Wales go to auction: The biggest ever auction of licensed premises in south west Wales is being held in Cardigan this month when nine properties in south Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire, with price guides totalling nearly £2m, go under the hammer. Agent Sidney Phillips is conducting the public auction at the Black Lion Hotel in Cardigan, which is one of the pubs for sale – with a price guide of £475,000. Another Ceredigion pub the Queens Hotel in New Quay has a price guide of £225,000; the Abergwaun Hotel in Fishguard town centre is on the market for £140,000 and the Alma Inn in Milford Haven is priced at £125,000. The New King George pub and Lolfa Lounge in Carmarthen have price guides totalling £200,000; the Black Ox in Abergwili is priced at £135,000 and the Cresselly Arms in Pontargothi is for sale at £220,000. A spokesman for the agent, who are holding the auction on Tuesday, 25 September, starting at 2.30pm, said: “There is significant interest in all the properties and some may be sold beforehand. The auction is the biggest of its kind in south Ceredigion.”

Speaker programme confirmed for The Bar and Nightclub Conference: The full speaker programme has been confirmed for The Bar and Nightclub Conference, which is being held on Tuesday 27 October at Bafta Piccadilly. Speakers are: Kate Nicholls, chief executive of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers, Phil Tate, chief executive of CGA Strategy, Simon Chaplin, director and head of leisure and development at Christie + Co, Trevor Watson, executive director of Davis Coffer Lyons, Graeme Bunn, director of Fleurets, Glendola Leisure managing director Alex Salussolia, Riz Shaikh, co-founder of the Columbo Group, David Henkes, vice-president of Technomic, Peter Marks, chief executive of Deltic Group, Exeat Leisure founder Stephen Thomas, Tokyo industries founder Aaron Mellor, Reuben Harley, chief executive of Eclectic, Alex Hazzard, co-founder of the Burning Night Group, Luke Johnson, of Risk Capital Partners and Adam Marshall, founder of Grand Union Group. The conference, the first stand-alone event for this part of the market, examines the key issues affecting the market with contributions from key figures within the sector. Tickets are free for operators and cost £145 for ALMR supplier members and £195 for ALMR non-suppliers. Tickets can be booked by emailing Jo Charity on jo.charity@propelinfo.com

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 the two-week early-bird rate of £295 plus VAT for operators and £495 plus VAT for suppliers and are available by emailing adam.dickinson@propelinfo.com

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