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Thu 10th Sep 2015 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Coffer Peach – weaker performance from restaurants, stronger from pubs in August: Pub and restaurant groups saw sales grow in August despite both the weather and consumers holidaying broad, latest figures from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker show. Collective like-for-like sales were up 0.6% on August last year while total sales, including the impact of new openings, were up 4.3%. London, bolstered by strong trading in pubs, fared slightly better than the rest of the country, with like-for-likes up 1.0% against 0.5% for outside the M25. Total sales, however, grew most out of London, up 5.0% against 2.4% for inside the M25 – reflecting the continuing investment in new openings, especially among branded restaurants, away from the capital. “The sector remains in growth mode, but it seems both the weather and holidays abroad played a part in making this August only marginally better than last,” said Peter Martin, vice-president of CGA Peach, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker, in partnership with Coffer Group, Baker Tilly and UBS. “More people flying abroad for holidays this year – with Gatwick Airport reporting its busiest ever August bank holiday weekend – will have had an effect on August trading. The fact the retail sector had a poor month with sales actually down on last year won’t have helped some restaurants either. Although the weather this August was nothing to write home about, August 2014 was particularly cold, which resulted in a decline in pub sales and a boost for restaurants in 2014. This year we seem to have seen a corresponding recovery for pubs and more modest progress for restaurants.” Drink-led pubs saw collective like-for-likes up 2.8% on August last year, with casual dining chains up 0.4% nationally and down in London. Pub restaurants and food-led pubs were down for the month. Trevor Watson, director at Davis Coffer Lyons, part of the Coffer Group, said: “While the food and beverage market continues to outperform retail, reduced activity in shopping centres and high streets will have led to subdued revenues in restaurants in these locations. We predict a significant improvement in the figures as we move into the autumn months, which will be underpinned by strong performances from leisure parks as a result of a number of forthcoming major new film releases.”

Industry News:

Loungers managing director Nick Collins to present at Propel Multi Club Conference: Nick Collins, managing director of Loungers, is to present at the Propel Multi Club Conference on Thursday, 5 November at the Lancaster Hotel, London. Collins will talk about evolving the brand, maintaining company culture, fulfilling growth ambitions, new trading locations and stepping into the shoes of founder Alex Reilley. 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

Casual Dining Group scraps administration fees on tips: The Casual Dining Group will remove all administration fees for customers tips made by credit card or by cash, including the recently acquired Las Iguanas and La Tasca business. The changes will come into force by the end of November and are designed to address the differing policies currently in place across the group. Chief executive Steve Richards said: “In the past few weeks we have acquired two restaurant companies, which has individual approaches to customer tips and by the end of November there will be no administration fees charged for the purpose of processing tips.”

Geof Collyer – concern over eating-out oversupply may be overstated: Deutsche Bank leisure analyst Geof Collyer has argued that concern over sector oversupply may well be overstated: He said: “We estimate, based on subtracting the like-for-like sales growth from the total sales growth reported in the Coffer Peach Business Tracker (CPBT) each month, that 2015 year-to-date has seen the highest growth in space since the tracker began in January 2009. As everyone knows, analysis is only as good as the data it is based upon, and whilst we do not in any way want to denigrate the CPBT, we estimate that its sample companies that input their data account for only 15% of the eating and drinking out market. Strip out Mitchells & Butlers (25% of the sample’s sales alone), Spirit, Whitbread, and Marston’s, and you can see how easy it can be to get spooked by companies accounting for 5% of the addressable market delivering very strong like-for-likes and new site growth month after month. It is partly why we have started to look at not just the CPBT in isolation, but also the General Retail BRC like-for-like data and the Greene King Leisure Tracker (GKLT) in order to build out a broader picture of the market. The GKLT has provided proper seasonality of industry sales for the first time, as well as helping to clarify what the average UK consumer spends on leisure in general and eating and drinking out in particular, which are still the leading UK pastimes. Using the GKLT data, we estimate that the total leisure spend for a UK household is 10% of income, with eating and drinking out accounting for over 60% of this. So if our analysis of the CPBT data suggests that pub and restaurant space is growing at 4%, then this is 4% of a much smaller number than the total market sales. The Restaurant Group’s analysis of its market suggests that the decline in the ‘independent’ sector over the next three years will be only half offset by the growth in new branded restaurant outlets. As we have seen in the UK hotel market, the ongoing reduction in the ‘independent’ sector has provided Whitbread with scope to substantially grow its scale within the confines of a market growing overall by 3%.”

JD Wetherspoon chairman hits back at Daily Mail ‘snobbery’: JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin has hit back at the snobbery of the Daily Mail’s City editor Alex Brummer, who claimed its customers receive “coffee served with the fine aroma of stale beer and urine by workers on zero-hours contracts”. Brummer wrote his comments following the publication of JD Wetherspoon’s half-year results. Responding in the autumn edition of the company’s magazine, Martin said: “I doubt whether Brummer is a frequenter of pubs, but his comments reek of prejudice and snobbery. Brummer shows no respect for our staff, who have worked so hard to achieve these results, but he also shows no respect to our customers, who come from all walks of life and a wide variety of social and ethical backgrounds. The Mail purports to speak for ‘Middle England’ – Wetherspoon is a broader church, but I suspect we have more Middle England customers then the Mail has readers. So watch your step pal. You need to get out more Brummer, or at least wake up and smell the coffee.” JD Wetherspoon is also stepping up its campaign for tax equality, with supermarkets paying no VAT on food sales while pubs pay 20%, by asking for non-dom tax status to be stopped from being handed down to offspring born and bred in Britain, such as that given to Mail proprietor Viscount Rothmere. Martin said: “If Rothmere and his ilk wish to maintain influential and privileged positions in our society, they must pay taxes like the rest of us – what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.”

CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide reports 10% increase in new breweries for third consecutive year: The number of breweries in the UK has increased by over 10% for the third consecutive year, bringing a huge increase in the choice and availability of cask beer to drinkers across the UK. The statistics, released today (Thursday, 10 September) to mark the launch of the Campaign for Real Ale’s Good Beer Guide 2016 show 204 new breweries have opened in the past 12 months, taking the total number to 1,424 – the highest it’s been since the 1930s and 1940s. Editor Roger Protz said: “The great British beer revolution rolls on and appears to be unstoppable. More and more new breweries have been launched to keep up with the demand for full-bodied, full-flavoured beers. Britain now has more breweries per head than any other country and the range of beers on offer is the best in the world, ranging from the palest golden ale to the darkest, pitch-black stout.” With well over 11,000 different real ales, that’s an average of around eight per brewery, now being brewed in the UK the choice for drinkers has never been better. Protz added: “The great success story of the moment is IPA, which stands for India Pale Ale. Long before the first golden lagers were produced in central Europe in the middle of the 19th century, British brewers developed a pale beer for export to ‘the Raj’ in India. Now it’s back with a bang and scores of brewers are producing their interpretations of IPA, including the American style that bursts with fruity hops.” One in six pints of beer sold in a pub is now cask ale, with 634 million pints consumed a year while kegged ales – such as John Smith’s and Tetley’s – are in decline. While the brewing bug has struck across the UK, it is London that is leading the way and reclaiming its place at the centre of British brewing. Protz said: “London is the most remarkable success story. Today there are 74 breweries operating in the capital, compared to 54 a year ago. There are so many packed into areas such as Bermondsey and Hackney that weekend ‘brewery crawls’ have become a popular part of the London drinking scene. London is closely followed by Greater Manchester, which has 19 new breweries, including four in Stockport and arguably the most amazing new brewery name, Zymurgorium in Irlam.”

Good weather helps Blackpool Pleasure Beach turn a profit: Good weather coupled with a general upturn in the economy have helped the parent company of Blackpool Pleasure Beach post its first pre-tax profit in four years as visitor numbers increased by 12%. In the year to 22 March 2015, Blackpool Pleasure Beach (Holdings) recorded a pre-tax profit of £1.4m, compared with a £400,000 loss the year before. The profit is the first time the company has been in the black since 2011. The results, which include the amusement park, the Big Blue Hotel, and South Shore Mutual Insurance Company, show turnover increased by £3.2m to £33.5m. A spokesman for Blackpool Pleasure Beach said: “The positive results for the year ending March 2015 are the result of a combination of factors including good weather during the period, and the launch of a new strategy focused on pricing and marketing, which contributed towards Blackpool Pleasure Beach being named number one amusement park in the UK in the 2014 TripAdvisor Traveller’s Choice Awards.”

Good Beer Guide 2016 finds 70% of pubs serving real ale, micro-pub numbers set to hit 200: New research released to mark the launch of the Campaign for Real Ale’s (CAMRA) Good Beer Guide 2016, shows 70% of all pubs now serve real ale, compared to just a third when the book was first published in 1975. Rather than just traditional pubs going back to their roots though, it seems a different type of drinking establishment is gaining momentum and getting real ale into thirsty drinkers’ hands: The micro-pub. The growth of micro-pubs – from zero ten years ago to a predicted 200 by the end of the year – has helped to get real ale into spaces a traditional pub couldn’t fit, filling the gaps on high streets and improving choice for beer drinkers. Roger Protz, editor of the Good Beer Guide 2016, said: “Micro-pubs prove the old saying that ‘small is beautiful’. Many of them are based in disused buildings; they have low overheads and can offer beer at sharper prices than many traditional pubs. They have carved out a new relationship between drinkers, publicans and brewers.” The first micro-pub, the Butcher’s Arms in Herne, Kent, is based, as the name suggests, in an old butcher’s shop. It was launched ten years ago by Martyn Hillier, who was named CAMRA’s Campaigner of the Year for 2015 for his inspirational work in launching the Micropub Association and encouraging beer lovers to open small pubs in empty premises. Hillier said there are well over 150 micro-pubs in the UK – all of which serve real ale – and that he expects this to grow to over 200 by the end of 2015. He added: “Micro-pubs go back full-circle to how pubs used to be, when people actually talked to one another. If you get 15 people together in a nice environment then conversations are going to spark.” Protz said: “Micro-pubs are appearing like mushrooms at dawn and are offering beer lovers choice, keen prices and convivial meeting places. They now exist as far north as Northumbria, across into Lancashire, in Wales and the West Country. There are two in that bastion of beer-making, Burton-on-Trent, which is not short of traditional pubs as well.”

More breweries ‘go green’: More breweries than ever before are “going green” and doing everything from fitting solar panels and recycling grain into animal feed to filtering waste water through environmentally friendly reed beds. A growing number of British brewers are taking action to support the environment, the 2016 edition of the Good Beer Guide reports. The annual guide, published today (Thursday, 10 September) by the Campaign for Real Ale, lists breweries throughout the country that are making a contribution to reducing carbon footprints by recycling ingredients and using solar energy. Editor Roger Protz said: “This is encouraging news. Brewers take the finest raw materials from the land in the form of grain, hops and water and now a growing number are ‘putting something back’ by recycling. In a number of cases, used grain and hops are sent to farms as animal feed while power for brewing is supplied by solar panels and biomass boilers, while water is cleaned and re-used.” Purity Brewing was named Sustainable Manufacturer of the Year in August and shows how far things have come for the industry. The brewery is based at Upper Spernel Farm at Great Alne in Warwickshire and as well as used grain and hops being supplied to the farm as animal feed, an innovative eco-filtering system using reed beds has also been introduced.

Company News:

Former MasterChef winner to open first permanent restaurant in Brixton this month: Former MasterChef winner Tim Anderson will open his first permanent restaurant Nanban in Brixton, south London, on Friday, 25 September. Anderson is launching the Japanese soul food concept in a former 1920s pie and mash shop in Coldharbour Lane. He has been running regular pop-ups, supperclubs and residencies under the Nanban name since he won the TV cookery contest in 2011 and released a Nanban recipe book, but is now opening his first permanent site. There will be a mixture of bar, booth, and table seating on offer. The restaurant will be a cross between a ramen bar and an izakaya, a form of Japanese pub, and will serve food inspired by southern Japan. A collaboration with Hackney brewery Pressure Drop will see Nanban Kanpai being offered – a yuzu-orange-grapefruit wheat IPA – plus there will be draft Kirin, craft beers, Japanese whiskies, a variety of shochu from Kyushu as well as sake and Japanese tea. Anderson told the Brixton Buzz: “I am beyond excited to be opening in Brixton. Since moving to south London I’ve quickly fallen in love with the whole neighborhood; there is a great sense of community here, and of course an amazing array of food.”

Karaoke Box to expand into Birmingham: A karaoke bar chain that was founded in Japan two decades ago is set to launch its first UK venture outside of London in Birmingham. Nobuaki Moriyama set up Karaoke Box after converting a room of his restaurant in Japan into a karaoke room. He now operates three bars in London and will launch its first Birmingham venue at the Regency Wharf leisure scheme off Broad Street in October. A spokesman said: “Doing karaoke is a great bonding experience. People let their hair down and ultimately make themselves vulnerable but in a way that’s enjoyable and can be shared with everyone around them. With Birmingham seeing an unprecedented growth of the region’s burgeoning food and drink scene, the city was an obvious choice as we make our first move outside of London. Birmingham is a city that can take on new ideas and concepts. People living here are not afraid of a bit of novelty and there is a diverse, integrated cultural identity.”

First club run by an app launches in London today:
Management company Platinum Number 8 is launching the first club run by an app in London today (Thursday, 10 September). The company, founded by David Harriott, is opening Face Kontrol in Berners Street, Mayfair. Membership to Face Kontrol is by invitation only and members will be given access codes to the app that will allow them to book tables, invite guests, pre-order drinks for when they arrive, make payments, and even send requests to the DJ. Designed by Sammy Chams, the 215-capacity club will also be available for private and event hire while Novikov Restaurant will be providing the catering. The company has a portfolio of more than 100 private members’ clubs, hotels, restaurants, bars and clubs.

Michael Caines set to open new luxury hotel and restaurant in Devon in early 2017: Michelin-starred chef Michael Caines is set to open his new luxury hotel and restaurant in Lympstone, Devon, in early 2017 after completing the purchase of the site. Caines, has bought Courtlands House, which he plans to transform into a 21-bedroom hotel and restaurant. Work on the refurbishment is expected to start next month after Caines was granted permission by East Devon District Council in July to renovate, restore and extend the country house property from a wedding venue. He told the Exeter Express & Echo the hotel and restaurant was “a rare and valuable opportunity to improve East Devon’s tourism appeal regionally, nationally and internationally”. Caines, who holds two Michelin stars at Gidleigh Park, near Chagford on Dartmoor, is also due to open his first restaurant outside the UK in Dubai later this month.

The Cinnamon Club reopens after £1m refurbishment: Westminster’s modern Indian restaurant The Cinnamon Club has reopened after a six-week refurbishment, costing £1m. The restaurant, set within the grade II-listed Westminster Library, has a contemporary new look and a new menu from executive chef Vivek Singh and head chef Rakesh Ravindran Nair. Now approaching its 15th year, The Cinnamon Club’s new menu additions will include a selection of large feasting dishes designed for sharing and brought to diners on a trolley and carved tableside. A celebratory Sharing Feast menu will also be available for tables of four or more, while the ten-course tasting menu will feature new signature dishes. A new gin trolley in the main dining room offers a curated collection of gin while there is also a new cocktail menu in both bars. The decor in the main dining room has been updated while the Reading Room, which seats 60, is styled in shades of jewel-toned blues and teals offsetting the red tones of the timber floor and joinery.

Timothy Taylor adds to pub portfolio with Grassington site: Brewer and retailer Timothy Taylor has added to its pub portfolio after acquiring The Devonshire Hotel in Grassington, North Yorkshire. The company, which has 18 other pubs, has bought the property in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, which will be part of its tenanted division. The pub will be closed for a short time while essential work takes place but on reopening it will feature several additional beers from Timothy Taylor as well as an extensive menu of freshly prepared food using locally sourced produce. Chief executive Tim Dewey said: “We are delighted to have purchased such a beautiful pub in the heart of a thriving community, which attracts large numbers of tourists. We will have to close the pub initially for essential works but once these have been undertaken we will reopen the Devonshire while we work with local partners to plan and implement a full refurbishment programme which will take us through into 2016.” Timothy Taylor’s has two managed houses – The Woolly Sheep in Skipton and Lord Rodney in Keighley, with the remaining 16 being run by tenants.

Gourmet grilled cheese restaurant concept Pickle & Toast to launch in London:
Pickle & Toast, a new gourmet grilled cheese sandwich restaurant concept, is set to open in London next month. The restaurant, founded by London-born brothers Sanjay and Rajeeve Ahuja is launching the all-day venue in Wardour Street, Soho. The toasties, which are grilled to order, are made with Poilâne rye sourdough with toppings such as truffled mushrooms, fennel sausage or roasted red onion. The restaurant also serves breakfast including buttery croissants, available with homemade Cumberland sausage, and freshly baked pastries. Drinks will include speciality beer, micro-roast coffee, whole leaf Brew Tea and soft drinks. Rajeeve Ahuja said: “Living in New York for 18 years, I loved how food is all about pride and generosity, even at the most humble diners. Pickle & Toast is about combining that New Yorker abundance with the beautiful produce we have here in Europe to create a relaxed restaurant where delicious, wholesome food is freshly prepared all day – for everyone – to eat in or takeaway.”

Fuller’s reopens City of London pub with craft beer and sharing plates concept: Fuller’s has reopened a pub in the City of London following a nine-week refurbishment with a craft beer and sharing plates concept. The company has launched The Hydrant, formerly known as The Fine Line, which is based in Monument Street next to the iconic Monument to the Great Fire of London. The pub has undergone a transformation including the building of a new cellar to cater for the site’s improved craft beer range, an extended upper gallery, more window-side tables and a private dining room. The food focuses on dishes designed for sharing, using fresh, seasonal ingredients as well as a wide range of vegetarian options. Fuller’s chief executive Simon Emeny said: “This has been a great site for Fuller’s since we took it on in 1999 – but The Hydrant really brings the pub up to date. It is an amazing scheme – we’ve gained extra space, a fantastic private dining room and the range of interesting craft beers, complementing the fantastic brands we brew in Chiswick, should set the City’s taste buds tingling. Add to that a very interesting range of delicious food aimed at social dining, a great wine list and interesting cocktails and we should be on to a winner.”

TV Top Gear punch-up hotel on the market: A North Yorkshire hotel in which TV presenter Jeremy Clarkson punched a colleague has been placed on the market. Simonstone Hall Hotel at Hawes in the Yorkshire Dales National Park is being marketed for sale by Colliers International off an asking price of £995,000. Set in around two acres of grounds, Simonstone Hall has 18 en-suite letting bedrooms, bar, restaurant and function facilities alongside a whole variety of staff and management accommodation. Hotels agency director Peter Bean said: “Owner, Michael Cannon, bought the hotel in 1996 when he acquired shooting interests in the area and now that he is moving his sole focus to the Wemmergill Estate in County Durham it is naturally time to hand over the reins at beautiful Simonstone Hall to new owners.”

JD Wetherspoon expands gourmet burger and Curry Club menus: JD Wetherspoon has expanded its gourmet burger and Curry Club menus. The company is now serving two US-inspired burger choices: the Californian – a chicken breast burger with bacon and avocado – and the Texan – a British beef burger combined with chilli con carne and cheese. It has also made a new addition to its Curry Club with tandoori chicken skewers, served with a yoghurt and mint sauce, side salad, tomato and onion, now available as part of the selection. It has also made recipe improvements to its other curry dishes – lamb rogan josh, chicken balti and chicken korma. JD Wetherspoon said: “We have worked to enhance and improve three of your Curry Club favourites.”

Som Saa reaches £550,000 crowdfunding target just four days after launch: Thai restaurant Som Saa has reached its £550,000 target just four days after launching on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube. The company has seen 92 investors pledge £655,620 in return for 45% equity, meaning it is now overfunding with 29 days still to go. The kitchen at Som Saa is headed up by co-head chefs Andy Oliver and Mark Dobbie, who met in London in 2009 at the Michelin-starred Nahm restaurant under the tutelage of David Thompson. Since then they have continued to deepen their understanding of Thai food and culture. The business plan forecasts turnover of £1,607,869 in it third year, producing pre-tax profit of £218,156. The pitch states: “Having operated a critically and publically acclaimed pop-up in London Fields since October, Som Saa estimate they have served over 14,000 customers and are now planning to settle in a prime permanent location. Described as a ‘thrill-ride for the senses’ by the Guardian, Som Saa seeks to be the first and only destination Thai restaurant in London and is led by veterans of Thai cuisine. We believe London could sustain a handful of Som Saa restaurants and that Som Saa would also work in regional capitals such as Manchester, Bristol, Birmingham and Oxford.”

Canterbury-based multi-site operator to open third site with new street food diner-style concept: Canterbury-based multi-site operator Sam Deeson is to open his third site in the Kent city with a new street food diner-style concept. Deeson, who owns Michelin-rated restaurant Deeson’s and Pork and Co, is launching Little Joe’s Deli in The Burgate at the end of the month. The restaurant will be in the style of a street vendor with food being sold on to the street through a window at the front of the premises. There will also be seating for between 40 and 50 customers. The menu will include pie and mash, toasties and Kentish-style hot dogs. Deeson, who based the new diner on his experience of food outlets at festivals he had attended, told the Canterbury Times: “Everything will be made from scratch. We are aiming for quality at an affordable price, but we also want to do something a bit different. We have got to go for location, quality and a good customer experience.”

Harrisons – Pizza Hut refits led to 40% sales uplift: Design consultancy Harrisons has reported it has rebranded 50 Pizza Hut Restaurants across the UK since the end of 2013, with a further 23 due to be completed by the consultancy in the next eight months. Trial units showcasing Harrison’s new designs led to a 40% increase in revenue, and a similar uplift has continued to date. Harrison’s lead designer on the rollout Aoife Kenny Fallon said: “Our brief is to reposition Pizza Hut Restaurants for future growth in the UK and to devise a set of schemes which are effective, durable, affordable and excite both current and future customers. Right from the start, our client has given us a blank canvas to work with, allowing us to challenge everything from their operations right through to their demographics and locations. They have confidence in us being able to increase sales by upping their investment in the brand and giving equal emphasis to operations and design. The overall feel of the new branding is one of contemporary evolution which meets, and exceeds, customer expectations, and is standing squarely alongside the market leaders. Pizza Hut Restaurants is no longer in that ‘no man’s land’ between high quality pizza restaurants and cut-price competitors. The brand now has a strong, exciting and unique identity which is reaping rewards for its owners as well as its customers.”

Costa Coffee releases ‘most unique blend’:
Costa Coffee has announced a new limited edition roast to join its Old Paradise Street range, Old Paradise Street Limited Roast No.9. Launching nationwide this month, the new roast will be the fourth in the Old Paradise Street range and is the first to include Nicaraguan Arabica beans in the blend. Hugo Castaneda, Costa’s laboratory manager at its London roastery, said: “Old Paradise Street No.9 is our most unique blend to date. The introduction of Nicaraguan beans to our coffee for the first time has helped us to create a rich roast with distinctive flavours and characteristics that fit perfectly with the quality we demand from our coffee.” Old Paradise Street No. 9 is available in stores nationwide throughout September and October.

Hampshire landlord given eight-year company director ban after owing £178,000 in tax: The landlord of The Fox and Hounds pub in Lyndhurst, Hampshire, has been disqualified from acting as a company director for eight years for failing to make tax payments of £178,000 despite transferring over half a million pounds out of his company bank account. Nasser Ghesmati, 56, was the director of the company running the pub. Following an investigation by the Insolvency Service after the company went into liquidation, it was found he had not kept proper accounting records to explain why £580,530 had left the company bank account between April 2012 and April 2013, despite owing HMRC large amounts for VAT, PAYE and National Insurance payments. At liquidation in April 2013, the company owed in excess of £178,000 to HMRC in relation to arrears of VAT, PAYE and National Insurance contributions. These outstanding taxes date back to October 2011 and continued to increase until liquidation. The eight-year disqualification order was made at Southampton County Court. Ghesmati, who failed to appear in court, was also ordered to pay costs in excess of £4,500.

Cambscuisine seeks second Smokeworks site: Cambscuisine, the Cambridge area pub and restaurant operator led by Oliver Thain and Max Freeman, is seeking a bigger site in the city for its second Smokeworks site, the barbecue concept it launched in the city centre last year. Thain said: “We’ll be developing another Smokeworks in Cambridge – a big brother but no definite site as yet. It makes a lot of sense for us as a business – since we can focus on people, we know the market well and it forces us to be innovative in a single market.” The company is also planning to invest £500,0000 in its Crown and Punchbowl site in the new year, adding rooms and extending the restaurant from 50 to 85 covers.

Thaikhun debuts in Glasgow at Silverburn: Hammerson has announced Thai restaurant Thaikhun, pronounced “tycoon”, is to open its second site in Scotland at Silverburn shopping centre in Glasgow. Following the brand’s launch in Scotland at Union Square, Aberdeen, in May last year, Thaikhun has selected another prime retail destination in the Hammerson’s portfolio to give it its fifth restaurant. Thaikhun, which takes inspiration from street vendors in Bangkok offering an authentic taste of Thailand’s busy food markets, will take a 3,337 sq ft unit adjacent to Carluccio’s and Pret. The brand joins 11 new restaurants, including Carluccio’s, Chimichanga, Cosmo, Zizzi, TGI Friday’s and Five Guys within Silverburn’s recently launched £20m, 100,000 sq ft dining and leisure extension

Meantime Brewing Company launches app giving first ‘hidden audio tour’ of London’s brewing history: Meantime Brewing Company has launched an app giving the first “hidden audio tour” of London’s brewing history from the 18th century to today. The company has worked in partnership with Danish app Recho to allow users to follow the history of the city’s drinking heritage via a series of recordings, which have been geo-tagged to significant locations from London’s brewing past. Using location-based social media technology, the recordings are discoverable only in the location pertaining to the specific stop on the tour. Each recording is narrated by leading names in British brewing. Starting on Thrale Street near London Bridge, the spiritual home of London brewing, the tour takes in several spots around Southwark and Bermondsey before heading toward Greenwich and stopping off at Meantime Brewery – where the UK craft beer revolution was born. Rod Jones, beer sommelier of the year and tour guide at Meantime, said: “Today London’s brewing scene is brimming with life once again, and with the advent of Recho, this unique location based technology allows us to tell that story by tying pockets of knowledge to a sense of place in an exciting and innovative way.”

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 (ALMR), 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, Dave 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, leading licensing barrister Philip Kolvin QC, 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 £295 plus VAT for operators and £495 plus VAT for suppliers and are available by emailing adam.dickinson@propelinfo.com

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