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Wed 16th Sep 2015 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Deltic Group reports like-for-like sales increase by 7.5% in first half of year: Deltic Group, the UK’s largest nightclub operator, has reported like-for-like sales increased by 7.5% in the 26 weeks to 29 August 2015. Company turnover was circa £46m in the six months, up £10m on the comparable half-year – a rise of 15.5%. Chief executive Peter Marks told Propel having acquired Play in Hereford last week – its 58th site – the company would now focus on site refurbishments. This includes rebranding its Chicago Rock nightclub in Chelmsford, Essex, which closes this weekend, into its new Bar & Beyond concept that is due to open in November and the launch of its first Steinbeck & Shaw bar in Canterbury, Kent, this week. It is also poised to make the single biggest investment in a UK regional club for ten years. The £3m investment in Basildon, Essex, will create a new triple scene club with a roof terrace bar. Marks said: “We were fortunate with the Hereford (acquisition). We had been tracking it for a year and the opportunity came up. We are not looking at any sites specifically but if there was an opportunity then of course things could change. We’ve got a lot of refurbishments we need to do.” Marks said it would concentrate on getting the Bar & Beyond concept right in Chelmsford before looking at rolling it out to other locations. He added: “You need to have more than one site to see if a concept works but we need to hone it first. Then you can go to two or three and if it looks like it’s going to work roll it out to other sites, whether they be existing or new ones. It’s the way we’ve always done things.” Marks added the company plans to invest over 50% more on entertainment. He said: “We are very much DJ-led and we look to bring in good, credible DJ’s. We brought in a bookings manager who knows the market and depending how the DJ does, we put them around the estate. It depends though – what works in Eastbourne doesn’t necessary work in Preston.” Deltic has also completed banking arrangements with HSBC a new partner, which has agreed to provide a £10m term loan and £5m revolving credit facility, which will be used to partially repay shareholder loans, invest in existing sites and fund future acquisitions.

Industry News:

Sector companies are invited to benchmark themselves: More than 70 companies took part in the first sector Benchmarking Survey last year, conducted by Propel in partnership with accountants haysmacintyre. All contributions are confidential and go to haysmacinytyre without being seen by Propel. Companies are invited to take part in this year’s survey by clicking through on the link below (it should take about 15 minutes to complete) – all contributors receive a copy as soon as it’s published: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/NDKR88G. Deadline for inclusion is this Friday (18 September).

Subway founder Fred DeLuca dies: Subway founder Fred DeLuca died yesterday aged 67. He fell ill in 2013, while traveling to visit franchisees, and was diagnosed with leukemia. He remained active with Subway, but in recent months ceded more control to his sister, Suzanne Greco, who earlier this year was named company president, in charge of daily operations. DeLuca and his business partner, Dr Peter Buck, opened their first sandwich shop in Connecticut, in 1965, when DeLuca was just 17 years old. Subway is currently the largest restaurant chain in the world in terms of unit count – has more than 26,000 locations in the US, and more than 44,000 locations worldwide.

MPs and hospitality industry leaders meet for first Westminster Hospitality and Tourism Day: A total of 33 MPs from across the UK are taking part in a day in Parliament today (Wednesday 16 September), highlighting the importance of the hospitality and tourism industry to the British economy. The event – which brings together politicians, policy-makers and businesses – is being organised to celebrate the contribution the sector makes to Britain’s economic wellbeing. Industry leaders are asking the government for policy reforms to help make it more competitive with rival tourist destinations, particularly in Europe. According to an independent Oxford Economics study commissioned by the British Hospitality Association and launched today, Hospitality is Britain’s fourth largest industry, supporting 14% of total employment and delivering £143bn a year to Britain’s economy. It has also created one in five of all new jobs since 2010. However VAT is still levied at 20% – almost twice the European average. No fewer than 25 out of 27 EU countries have reduced rates for hospitality. Industry leaders are campaigning for a lower rate of 5% on hospitality in the UK. The British Hospitality Association (BHA) – which is organising the Westminster Hospitality and Tourism Day – also called on the government to speed up and simplify the VISA application process to encourage more visitors from growth markets such as China. They also want to ban ‘Rate Parity’ clauses – which mean online travel agents receive the same rate as guests who book rooms with the hotel itself. They argue that rate parity limits savings that hotels can pass on to guests who decide to book directly.

Obar Camden triumphs in High Court fight to stop development of pub next to its venue Koko: Nightclub operator Obar Camden has triumphed in its High Court fight to block plans to develop the pub next door to its nightclub and live performing venue Koko. The company launched a legal challenge against plans by Vidcraft to convert the Hope and Anchor into eight flats and build a three-storey extension and either shops or estate agent’s offices on the ground floor. Koko occupies a landmark listed building in Camden High Street of national importance and Obar’s lawyers argued the development, approved earlier this year by Camden Council, had no place in the Camden street scene and would be at odds with the area’s character. They claimed residents of the new flats would be likely to complain about noise from Koko and other nearby venues and the project posed a threat to local businesses. High Court judge Mr Justice Stewart said councillors’ attention had not been drawn to the potential impact of the development on Koko’s premises and other local heritage assets and quashed the planning permission.

Birmingham’s biggest nightclub in ‘last chance saloon’: Birmingham’s biggest nightclub Gatecrasher has been warned it is in the “last chance saloon” after a customer was attacked by a bouncer. The Broad Street club, which has a capacity of 2,400, had its licence suspended for a fortnight in the wake of the incident last month and was also ordered to terminate its contract with its security firm. It has since reopened after drawing up an internal audit and action plan, which Birmingham City Council’s licensing sub committee B has ruled must be reviewed by the club and police at least every month, reports the Birmingham Mail. PC Abdul Rohoman told the licensing meeting: “This really is the last chance saloon for these premises. There have been review hearings in the past and this venue already has more conditions on its licence than any other in Birmingham. If it had not been for what the club has done in the last month we would have been asking for a revocation.” Raymond McVeighty, speaking on behalf of the club, said it had restructured its management team, sacked its security company and replaced its medical provider. He said a member of the management team had been disciplined and the club had drafted in external consultants to draw up the internal audit and action plan. He added: “There were gaps, but these have been remedied. The urgent application has succeeded already in what it wanted to do, which was to create an enormous review. This has triggered a massive improvement.”

MatchPint – pubs and bars neglecting rugby, American football, boxing and Formula 1 missing ‘major opportunity’: Pubs and bars neglecting rugby, American football, boxing and Formula 1 are missing a “major opportunity” according to a new report by sports marketing platform MatchPint. The research into sports trends and opportunities showed NFL and Formula 1 are the fastest growing sports in terms of fan interest in the pub. It also revealed sports fans have a higher dwell time and higher spend than average customers in pubs and bars while location, atmosphere, and screen size (in that order) are the most important factors in determining which pubs fans choose to visit. MatchPint co-founder Dom Collingwood said: “While many of the report’s findings will confirm what operators have long suspected (eg that football makes up 50% of sports-related pub searches), there are some surprises too. For example, Sunday is not the most popular day, overall. Pay-per-view boxing is hugely underestimated in terms of its capacity to drive footfall. Sky Sports and BT Sport both offer great packages, but they perform different roles in terms of what type of visitor they attract. Above all, however, the report shows that the sporting horizons of UK pub goers are broadening – rapidly, in some cases. It is simply not enough to stick on Premier League football and expect to pay the bills. Operators that are neglecting rugby (both league and union), American football, La Liga, Formula 1 – they’re all missing major opportunities.” The report compiles survey responses of 1,321 sports fans and 595 publicans, as well as data gathered from more than 14 million searches for pubs showing particular matches on MatchPint’s app and website since 2012.

Redzepi to close Noma and reopen as ‘urban farm’: Danish chef Rene Redzepi is to close his restaurant Noma at the end of 2016 and reopen it an “urban farm” elsewhere in Copenhagen. Redzepi has chosen a location in the city’s Christiania neighbourhood as the future home of Noma, which has been named the world’s best restaurant four times in the past five years. The building, currently decorated with graffiti and skate ramps, will be renovated to include a rooftop greenhouse and a farmable floating raft, reports the New York Times. Redzepi, who is known for highly seasonal menus and foraged foods, plans to tie his menus even more closely to the seasons at the new site. He said the last service at the current Noma would take place on New Year’s Eve, 2016, with the new location opening sometime in 2017. “It makes sense to have your own farm, as a restaurant of this calibre,” Redzepi added. “I’m not afraid. But it does make me nervous.”

More than half of hospitality outlets in Scotland see decline in like-for-like sales in 2015, new survey reveals: More than half (55%) of hospitality outlets in the latest “state of the nation” survey by The Scottish Licensed Trade Association have seen a decline in like-for-like sales in 2015 against the previous year. The findings extend beyond alcohol sales with 38% of outlets in Scotland’s growing food sector surveyed reporting a decline year-on-year. Confidence in the sector is also low, with only 18% saying they expect to see any growth in the rest of 2015. SLTA chief executive Paul Waterson said government legislation is having an adverse impact on Scotland’s hospitality trade, and more support is needed to prevent further outlet closures and job losses. He added: “Our industry is totally committed to the responsible retailing of alcohol and the creation of a vibrant economy in Scotland, but we do not believe that the draconian penalties linked to new drink-driving legislation are effective and proportionate. We also believe, that although our workers deserve wage increases, unless the government makes concessions on our cost base, jobs will be lost, service levels will suffer and the number of closures will accelerate. Our pubs and bars are at the centre of many economies and communities across Scotland. If more businesses close, we will see less facilities for tourists, higher prices in hotels and increased unemployment.” The survey of over 600 outlets, representing over 10% of Scotland’s on-trade, ranged from single venues in remote tourist locations to owners of multi-site gastro-pubs and bars in city centres.

Punch Taverns to support Cask Ale Week with UK’s largest free pint promotion: Punch Taverns is supporting Cask Ale Week by running the UK’s largest free pint promotion between Thursday, 24 September and Sunday, 4 October. Customers will be able to claim a free pint of cask ale at up to 900 Punch pubs across the country including Wells Bombardier, Adnams Ghost Ship and Fuller’s London Pride. They simply use their mobile phone or tablet while in the pub to redeem the offer. Punch is running this promotion for the fifth time to encourage pub goers to try the wide variety of cask ale available in its pubs. Category manager at Punch Stephen Martin said: “We’re incredibly excited to be running our free pint promotion again this year, with Cask Ale Week the ideal time to encourage customers to try a pint on us! It was a huge success in 2014 and we believe it will be even better this time around; we’re using email marketing to directly contact millions of people and get them to visit their local Punch pub.”

Company News:

Thwaites partners Bewley’s to improve tea and coffee offer: North west brewer and retailer Daniel Thwaites is partnering with tea and coffee company Bewley’s to help strengthen its pub offering across the country. With eight out of ten customers now ordering coffee in place of dessert, the Blackburn-based brewer aims to respond to the shift in trend by creating a more coffee-led experience in its pubs. As part of the agreement, Holmfirth-based Bewley’s will be the recommended supplier to all 300-plus Thwaites pubs. This will include supplying coffee machines and coffee beans, as well as offering specialist barista training for licensees and their staff. Thwaites food support manager Nicola Underwood said: “This is a landmark occasion for Thwaites and provides us with a great opportunity to widen our pub offering. The demand for coffee service in pubs has increased significantly over the last few years and it’s important that we are meeting this demand with a quality offer. We want all of our pubs to be at the heart of the community, where customers can come for a relaxed meal or hot beverage with friends and we know that the service Bewley’s offers can deliver this.” Catherine Clarke, area sales manager from Bewley’s added: “We are so excited to be partnering with Thwaites to be their nominated coffee supplier. Coffee accounts for approximately 50% of breakfast beverage sales in pubs, so it’s a huge opportunity for Thwaites to broaden their offer and increase coffee sales.”

Don Giovanni operator plans launch of new concept: Agent Fleurets has sold the 120-cover ASK Italian site in Headingley ‎to the Manchester-based operator of the Don Giovanni Italian restaurant on Oxford Street. However, it is not with the intention of creating another Don Giovanni’s. Don Giovanni owner Adam Karim said: “We are really excited about the potential of this business. It is in a superb vibrant location known for its urban, almost bohemian attitude. Our fresh new concept, called Khana Bombay Café, is an authentic Indian street food-inspired operation. Great quality fresh ingredients in an Indian tapas format in an informal relaxed environment – the best of east meets west.” Simon Hall, director of Fleurets said: “As soon as I met Adam and he explained his concept, I knew it was ideal for this edgy location. It was no surprise that my clients and the landlord agreed. I am sure it will be a great success.”

BrewDog could begin work on US brewery next week: Scotland-based brewer and retailer BrewDog has reported it is set to break ground on its US brewery as early as next week if final approvals are granted with a scheduled opening for next summer. In a two-day briefing in Ohio, BrewDog employees Zarah Prior, Katie Murphy, and Keith Bennet spoke to a packed room of beer enthusiasts about the past, present, and future of BrewDog. Also announced was the addition of 150 jobs, with heavy recruitment starting in March 2016. Those attending the briefing heard Canal Winchester, Ohio, was chosen for brew facilities because of its ability to reach 47% of the US population within a day. In BrewDog’s Scotland facilities, Ellon is about 50 miles north of Aberdeenshire, mirroring Canal Winchester’s distance (though admittedly shorter) from Downtown Columbus. A bar from BrewDog is also in the works for Downtown, although details are still up in the air. The Canal Winchester BrewDog facilities consist of 100,000 sq ft on 42 acres. The company aims to produce 85,000 barrels of beer within its first year. A taproom and full restaurant will feature floor to ceiling windows that will allow guests to peer into the brewery itself, with both interior and patio seating.

Al Manal Group starts expanding Lebanese restaurant concept Bakchich with second site, company plans further growth: Al Manal Group has started expanding its Lebanese restaurant concept Bakchich by opening a second site in Manchester – and the company has plans to grow further. The company has opened its latest Bakchich venue in the Chester Street Quadrangle, off Oxford Road, having originally launched the concept in Liverpool. The 180-cover restaurant’s design draws influence from co-founders Otto Mellouki and Amine Elgueddar’s travels to the Lebanese capital Beirut, as well as their childhood homes in Morocco, with hints of French colonial influence. The menu includes charcoal grills, hot and cold meze, Lebanese-style pizza, salads and wraps, with an emphasis on sharing. Mellouki told the Manchester Evening News: “Manchester is already such a fantastic melting pot, so we are really excited to add Lebanese cooking and the Bakchich concept to the mix.” The launch marks the start of expansion plans for Al Manal Group, which also owns Liverpool restaurants Kasbah, Chez Le Coq, and Otto’s. It is looking to open an Arabic restaurant in Manchester next year and roll-out the concept across the UK.

Punch Taverns puts freehold of Camden Town pub on market for £2.5m: Punch Taverns has put the freehold investment of the Lord Stanley pub in Camden Town, north west London, up for sale and is inviting offers in excess of £2.5m. Agent Everard Cole is marketing the 2,241 sq ft three-storey site in Camden Park Road, which has nine-years remaining on the lease, which began in 2005. Rental income is £75,000 per annum, rising to £80,000 in December 2015. A Punch Taverns spokesman said: “We take a strategic view of our estate and where we can achieve outstanding value for individual or group purchases we will openly market those pubs for sale. The Lord Stanley is a pub we have decided to place on the market, to be sold as a going concern, and for continued use as a pub.” More than 550 people have signed a petition demanding the Lord Stanley’s future as a pub is guaranteed and an application has been lodged to have it listed as an Asset of Community Value. Punch sold 158 of its predominately non-core pubs to NewRiver Retail for £53.5m last month to help it reduce its net debt.

Molson Coors secures future of William Worthington Brewery in Burton: Molson Coors UK has secured the future of its William Worthington Brewery in Burton after selling the equipment to Planning Solutions Limited (PSL) to allow brewing to continue at the site. The company has retained ownership of the brewery’s buildings that will be leased to PSL as part of the agreement. The sale will see PSL, a specialist tourism, leisure, heritage and economic development firm, brewing the award-winning cask Worthington’s White Shield IPA and Red Shield beers under a licence from Molson Coors. PSL intends to develop other beers and plans to refurbish and modernise the brewing facilities and bottling plant. Molson Coors UK & Ireland supply chain director Victoria Segebarth, said: “We are delighted to have secured a long term future for William Worthington Brewery. PSL already run the National Brewing Centre so this agreement is a natural step in the sustained success of the centre and we are confident that PSL will continue to produce extraordinary beer brands that delight customers and consumers.” PSL chairman Michael Stickland added: “The William Worthington brewery forms an important part of Burton’s brewing heritage. The sale of the brewery assets to PSL allows us to build on this heritage, continue to deliver the award-winning cask Worthington’s White Shield IPA and Red Shield beers, as well as giving us the opportunity to explore other brewing opportunities to grow and sustain the future of this brewery.”

Bella Italia opens new restaurant at London’s largest retail park: Bella Italia, the brand owned by Casual Dining Group, has opened a new restaurant at London’s largest retail park. The company has invested almost £950,000 in the 180-cover site at Gallions Reach Shopping Park, Beckton, east London, after signing a 15-year lease. The retail park, owned by Standard Life Investments, boasts more than 30 retail and restaurant units and is in a catchment area of almost 1.3 million people. The Beckton restaurant is on strategy for Bella’s retail and leisure park growth plan, which began in April, in Bristol, followed by sites on parks in Ashton-under-Lyne, Dudley, Taplow, Crewe and Hemel Hempstead. Bella Italia now has 88 restaurants across the UK and is expanding at the rate of 20 sites per annum.

Cornish boutique hotel on the market for £1.5m: A boutique hotel in Golant, Cornwall, is being sold by Savills on behalf of a private client with a guide price of £1.5m. The Cormorant Hotel is located in an elevated position at the end of a private drive with views across the River Fowey. The 14-bedroom hotel is also a short drive from The Eden Project, Tate Modern Gallery and South West Coast Path. Martin Rogers, hotels director at Savills, said: “The Cormorant Hotel is a profitable business which has been successfully operated by our client for a number of years. These credentials, combined with its location in a tourist hot spot, offer prospective owners excellent potential for a strong long-term income. There is also a house available by separate negotiation which would be ideal as owners’ accommodation.”

Marston’s to open latest Revere site in Cardiff this Friday: Marston’s is to open the latest Revere premium site in Cardiff this Friday (18 September) – It will re-open the grand old library in the centre of Cardiff as the Locke & Remedy. Adjoining the Cardiff Story Museum, Locke & Remedy occupies half of the grade II listed Victorian-baroque building. The new destination bar offers ‘mixes and measures’ of premium original cocktails, craft beers, real ales and wines. Its all-day restaurant serves a main menu of wood-fired pizzas and prime-meat burgers.

Plans resubmitted to bring Nando’s, TGI Friday’s and Frankie & Benny’s to Inverness: Plans have been resubmitted to create three new restaurants at the Inverness Shopping Park. Developer Inverness Estates is proposing to convert a vacant store at the site on the A96 Inverness-Aberdeen road into three separate units. Three brands are lined up to take on the properties – Nando’s, TGI Friday’s and Frankie & Benny’s, which is owned by The Restaurant Group. Inverness Estates has previously tried and failed to get similar plans approved by Highland Council and the new proposals included a revamp of existing shop fronts while a play area, toilets and baby changing area would also be created. Park manager Kirsteen Gunn said: “We hope the planners and councillors will look carefully at our analysis of potential impacts and allow us to create a better experience for our local customers and our staff, as well as visitors. We believe these improvements will be a positive move for the city and should be welcomed.”

Almost 2,000 Costa Coffee baristas join ‘Big Tidy Up’: Staff from more than 650 Costa stores headed out to the streets in a mass litter-pick at the weekend to commemorate the coffee shop company partnering with environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy. More than 1,900 baristas were on hand to help with the “Big Tidy Up”, England’s biggest litter-picking campaign launched by Keep Britain Tidy, with progress tracked on Twitter using #costacleanup. Costa has become the first coffee shop brand to sign Keep Britain Tidy’s Litter Prevention Commitment, which seeks to raise awareness of the social, economic and environmental impact of litter, and encourage responsible consumer behavior to reduce the amount of litter dropped.

68 and Boston to open in Soho in October: 68 and Boston, a new wine and cocktail bar being launched by the Breakfast Group founder Eric Yu in partnership with two other leading industry names, will open in Soho on Thursday, 8 October. Yu has teamed up with Martin Malley, owner of Planet of the Grapes; and Luca Cordiglieri, formerly bar manager at China Tang at The Dorchester and currently UK Bartenders’ Guild president, to launch the concept in Greek Street. The downstairs all-day wine bar – 68 – will feature a main list of quality wines available by the bottle or the glass. The first floor cocktail bar – Boston – will feature a cocktail menu devised by Cordiglieri and head bartender Josh Powell. A neighbouring restaurant will create a bespoke menu of bar food. Yu’s other West End venues include Opium and The Social.

Prezzo set to open new site at Redditch shopping centre: Prezzo is set to open a new restaurant in Redditch, Worcestershire, in December. The company is opening the venue at the Kingfisher Shopping Centre in its new-look The Hub leisure and dining quarter. Kingfisher Shopping Centre general manager Ken Williams told the Redditch Standard: “It’s brilliant news that Prezzo will be coming to Redditch, joining the spread of restaurants available to shoppers in The Hub. We’re looking forward to adding an Italian choice into our mix, and welcoming Prezzo is a result of our long-term plan and continuing commitment to improving the Kingfisher Shopping Centre.” The Hub is part of a £12m refurbishment of the complex, which aims to create a night-time economy for the centre, transform its food and leisure offer, as well as improve its retail mix.

Brew secures fifth site, this time located in Chiswick: Butcher, restaurateur and entrepreneur Jason Wells is set to open his fifth Brew restaurant in south west London – this time in Chiswick. The 2,050 sq ft unit is an assignment and was previously occupied by tapas restaurant La Mancha. London-based Restaurant Property advised on the deal. The rent is not disclosed. This latest 75-cover Brew eatery is due to open mid-late October on Chiswick High Road. Sourdough bread, bacon, burgers and cakes are made in-house and delivered to Brew restaurants daily. Every egg is from a Burford Brown hen. The first restaurant opened on Northcote Road, Clapham, in 2009. There are other Brew restaurants in Wimbledon, Putney and Wandsworth. Nick Garston of Restaurant Property said: “We are delighted to have aided in the expansion of Brew restaurants into Chiswick. Brew have established themselves as great all-day venues serving exceptional food; and will add to the existing exciting line-up Chiswick has to offer.” Wells said: “We are delighted to be opening our fifth store in such a fantastic location on Chiswick High Road. The area is full of families which fits very well with our demographic and we’re very much looking forward to welcoming all of the locals and giving them a taste of what Brew has to offer. We’ll be open from 7am until 10pm serving everything from breakfast, brunch and lunch through to evening meals, which will include delicious pizzas baked in our wood-fired oven and even home-made burgers.”

Krispy Kreme serves 13,000 customers in first few weeks at Trinity Leeds:
Krispy Kreme has reported its new store in Trinity Leeds has served more than 13,000 customers since it opened on 28 July. A total number of over 104,800 single doughnuts have been served. Judith Denby, chief marketing officer at Krispy Kreme UK, said: “We were excited to open our second store in Leeds and bring a taste of Krispy Kreme to the centre of the city. The response we have received from Trinity Leeds shoppers over the past month has been incredible. The shopping centre is a great location and we’re looking forward to welcoming even more shoppers in store for fresh doughnuts and coffee in the coming months.” Meanwhile, Krispy Kreme will open a store at the Union Square shopping centre in Aberdeen next Tuesday – its second site in Scotland.

Swindon-based restaurateur starts expanding portfolio with second site in town: Swindon-based restaurateur Alan Mok has started expanding his portfolio with a second site in the town. Mok, who owns Japanese restaurant Yume in Regents Circus, has opened Asian-themed tapas restaurant and bar Kenzo 72 on the site of the former The Spot in Godwin Court. He told the Swindon Advertiser: “We wanted to cater for everything in Old Town, and we thought this was a prime location to offer something a bit different for people to go to. There isn’t anything quite like this anywhere else in Swindon and we just wanted to be able to offer more choice to people. It has a sleek, kind of lounge bar feel to it. When you walk in it feels like you’ve walked into a trendy London bar.”

William Grant & Sons reports profit boost: Global premium spirits business and independent family distillers, William Grant & Sons has reported a record profit after tax of £139.8m for 2014, an increase of 4.0% year-on-year. Although reported group turnover decreased to £933.2m, this was entirely due to a planned reduction in the distribution of third party agency brands. This strategic shift has allowed more focus on the group’s owned portfolio of core premium brands, which saw turnover increase by an impressive 9% year-on-year. Record results were delivered despite challenging conditions in terms of negative foreign exchange impacts and against a Scotch whisky category that saw the value of Scotch whisky exports decline by 7% year-on-year. Stella David, William Grant & Son’s chief executive, said: “This success was driven by our constant focus on brand building and investing for the long term. The business and our brands are well positioned to continue their growth in 2015 and beyond.”

Michelin-starred chef Mark Birchall to launch first venture: Michelin-starred chef Mark Birchall is to launch his first venture in Aughton, west Lancashire. Birchall, who was most recently executive chef with Simon Rogan at Michelin two-starred L’Enclume in Cartmel, Cumbria, is working on plans to develop the grade II-listed 16th century house Moor Hall. The building will be fully restored and redesigned in partnership with Andy and Tracey Bell and is expected to open next year. It will have a 50-seat restaurant, and a private dining room for 12 as well as seven large bedrooms – five in the main house and two in the gatehouse nearby. The menu will showcase his own style of modern British cuisine, reflecting the broad culinary experience he has garnered over the past 15 years. His plans for Moor Hall also include the transformation of additional buildings within the grounds for further dining and kitchen operations, as well as developing the gardens, orchards and small lake. Born in Chorley, Lancashire, Birchall began his career working at The Walnut Tree in Abergavenny, Wales, with Franco Taruschio, and then at Northcote Manor with Nigel Haworth. During his time at L’Enclume, Birchall helped guide the team to five AA Rosettes, two Michelin stars, and the UK’s best restaurant in the Waitrose Good Food Guide.

Lincolnshire-based restaurateur set to start expanding portfolio with new cocktail and tapas bar: Lincolnshire-based restaurateur Jax Hussein is set to start expanding his portfolio by launching a cocktail and tapas bar. Hussein, who operates Indian restaurant Mumbai Blues in Waltham, has submitted plans to open Lids in the Grimsby suburb of Scartho by converting the former Cycle Mode bike shop in Louth Road. He told the Grimsby Telegraph he has been working on the planned Lids for a year. It was originally set for Waltham, but its planned site fell through and the former Cycle Mode site then became available. Hussein opened Mumbai Blues in High Street, Waltham, in July 2012.

Forecourt retailer reports boost from expanding food offer: Forecourt retailer Applegreen, which has operations across the UK, has reported a large rise in revenue driven by the strong contribution from new sites in its portfolio, with an18-strong increase in the number of food outlets across the estate. The period saw the addition of Chopstix and Greggs to the estate. In its first interim results as a public company, revenue for the six months to 30 June 2015 rose from €445m (£326m) to €518m (£380m). Pre-tax profit dipped slightly from €3.21m (£2.36m) to €3.02m (£2.22m). Established in 1992, Applegreen is headquartered in Dublin and has a growing presence in the UK as well as a smaller operation in the US. The business employs a workforce of about 2,600 and operates 175 forecourt sites. The company attributed its revenue rise to the “strong contribution” from new sites across its portfolio and the “continued development” of its food offerings. Chief executive Bob Etchingham said: “In the UK our site numbers increased by five including the first motorway service area in Northern Ireland. We also launched two new food offers – Chopstix and Greggs – and increased the number of our food outlets by 18 across the estate.”

Travelodge sold in deal worth £5.4m:
A Travelodge hotel in central Ipswich has been acquired by Mayfair Capital Commercial Property Trust (MCCPT) in a deal worth £5.4m. The Travelodge occupies a prominent position adjoining the city’s waterfront development. It was completed in 2012 and is let for a further 22 years, subject to five-yearly, upwards-only rent reviews. The hotel was acquired along with Tower Retail Park in Poole for £12.7m and a logistics facility near Barnsley for £9.3m. Ned Pumphrey, a director of Mayfair Capital and fund director of MCCPT, said: “These three acquisitions are high-quality additions to the MCCPT portfolio. They provide a strong initial yield and offer the prospect of income and capital growth.”

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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