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Morning Briefing Strap Line
Mon 21st Sep 2015 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day: 

CGA’s Peach Market Growth Monitor reports net new openings of 1,770 restaurants in past 12 months: Despite the continuing closure of pubs across Britain, the eating and drinking out market saw a net 1,770 new restaurants open in the last 12 months, according to latest data compiled for the new Market Growth Monitor from AlixPartners and CGA Peach. The contrast between the 6.9% growth in restaurant sites and the 4.4% decline in drink-led pubs and bars – including a 5.1% fall in community pub numbers – in the year to the end of June reflects the continuing shift in consumer preferences towards eating-out occasions. The first quarterly Monitor figures show that there was growth too in numbers of wine bars, cafe bars and food-led pubs – the latter increasing by 1.1% over the last 12 months. Branded food pubs saw a 9% growth in numbers – and the bulk of the overall growth in restaurants came from the, largely branded, chain restaurant market. There are now more restaurants with licences in GB than drink-led ‘community locals’ – 27,500 against 26,700. The number of pubs and bars overall fell by 2.6% over the year to just above 53,000. “But the good news is that the long-term decline in the total number of licensed premises in Britain – including hotels, clubs, restaurants and other venues selling alcohol on the premises – appears to have bottomed out,” said Peter Martin, Vice President of CGA Peach, the business insight consultancy that produces the Monitor in partnership with AlixPartners. “Over the last year, total numbers actually increased slightly by a net 965 to just over 124,000, driven largely by the expansion in restaurants. In the previous five years, numbers had fallen by over 8,000,” Martin said. Urban areas are the main focus for the new growth, seeing a 2.9% uplift in licensed premises in the year to June, with food-led sites, including restaurants and pubs, increasing 5.9%, while the numbers of drink-led businesses remained largely static. However, not everything is gloomy in suburbia or rural parts, added Martin. Total numbers of licensed premises were largely unchanged year-on-year, with growth in food-driven sites off setting declines in traditional pubs and bars. The suburbs, in particular, saw a marked ‘move to food’, with a 5.2% increase in those type of operations – not far behind the growth rate in urban centres. “In an active deal market with many groups looking to expand, this is an important and timely barometer. The figures from our first Market Growth Monitor illustrate that restaurant growth is genuinely a UK-wide story, with growth in many parts of the UK outstripping that of London,” said Paul Hemming, managing director, AlixPartners, the global financial advisory firm. “The reality of today’s eating-out market is that, beyond the M25, there are more expansion opportunities for the leading branded operators, as shown by the presence of cities such as Leicester, York and Sheffield in the top ten growth towns. The proliferation of branded eating-out concepts to relatively new destinations, and its obvious implications for the independent operator cohort, is a picture that chimes with what we hear in the marketplace anecdotally, through the businesses with which we work. It is clear that the desire for quality food and bar offerings has spread across the country. Many of our clients are taking advantage of this new market and are finding the combination of strong demand and (typically) lower rent is delivering highly attractive ROI. The reality of the move to food is borne out in the CGA Peach data which shows that today in Britain, for the first time, the number of licensed restaurants outstrips the number of drink-led community pubs – a switch that occurred earlier in 2015. How times have changed.”
 

Industry News:

Greater London remains the growth engine of new businesses: The Market Growth Monitor, produced by CGA Peach in partnership with AlixPartners has found greater London remains the growth engine. A report stated: “Total numbers grew 3.3%, with food-led businesses up 6.9% over the past 12 months – representing a net increase of almost 500 new licensed businesses. The north west and Wales were the regions to see overall declines, but then only marginally, both down 0.1% on the year before. Again, the expansion of eating-out venues off set the decline in alcohol-led sites – and all regions saw a drop in drinking establishments. City centres, however, are the real hot-bed of competition – where the premiumisation of the drinks market has also led to a net increase in bars and other drink-led operations opening up, in contrast with what has been happening elsewhere in the country. While central London saw most new openings last year in number terms – up by over 100 – other cities are overtaking it in terms of rate of growth for both restaurants and bars. While central London saw a 3.3% increase in licences – and Manchester, a current major focus for brand openings, a 3.7% jump – others like Glasgow, Newcastle, Leeds, Cardiff, Bristol and Birmingham are outstripping both with growth rates of around 5% or above. In the last 12 months, Birmingham even saw a 5.5% increase in bars and other drink-led operations in its centre.”

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 has been extended to Friday 25 September. 
 
Bookatable reveals 80% increase in number of bookings to Michelin star restaurants: Restaurant booking platform Bookatable has revealed an 80% increase in the number of bookings made to Michelin star restaurants since 2013. Its data also showed fine dining bookings have a longer lead-time than casual dining, with the most popular day to book being a Monday or a Tuesday with most people dining on Saturday night (24%). The average spend per booking has also increased significantly – going from £46.98 in 2013 to £99.17 this year. Bookatable chief executive Joe Steele said: “It’s great to see such a healthy growth in fine dining bookings over the last few years. It clearly shows that Michelin star restaurants continue to appeal to diners and that Brits are potentially feeling they have a little more disposable income than in recent years. When a restaurant is awarded a star, it’s a huge accolade and promises to be a positive impact on that restaurant’s business so it is well worth all the hard work involved to get there.”
 
Luke Johnson – 'I hope the nightclub market will offer consolidation opportunities at sensible prices': Sector investor Luke Johnson has set out his reasons for re-entering the nightclub market with his investment of £1.5m in Eclectic Bar Group. In his Sunday Times column, he wrote: "My philosophy for investing in such mature industries is to offer better service than local rivals; try to be a low-cost operator and remember that, with cash cows, capital projects should achieve a very swift payback. I look at measures like free cashflow generation, actual payback and return on capital – not growth. As long as there is reasonable underlying demand, then if a business is deeply unfashionable, all the better. I hope (the) market decline (in nightclubs) is stabilising and there will be consolidation opportunities at sensible prices. Typically, I find that the purchase multiples in zero-growth sectors are half those in what are seen as buoyant sectors. Meanwhile, a static industry should encourage managers to rationalise, cut costs and become more efficient." 
 
Michel Roux Junior-backed Growing Underground increases equity offer on Crowdcube: Growing Underground, the farm project backed by Michel Roux Junior that plans to utilise two unused underground World War Two shelters in Clapham to produce leafy greens, has increased the amount of equity it is offering investors on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube. It is now offering 10% instead of the previous 8% as it looks to raise £200,000. So far 191 investors have pledged £133,720 meaning it has 66% of its target with four days remaining and the largest investment to date is £25,000. The farm consists of 600 square metres of growing space that will have doubled by the end of the year, a food production picking and packing area, propagation rooms, research and development facilities, and cold storage. The pitch states: “We are now fund-raising to finalise the supply of produce to wholesale and end-user consumers. To achieve our goal of producing crops that are consumed by all, we need to install a higher specification packing and processing system that can achieve the volumes required by retailers.” 
 

Company News:

Joseph Holt turnover up, profits down: North west brewer and retailer Joseph Holt has reported turnover rose to £47,736,533 in the year to 31 December 2014, up from £46,209,006 the year before. Pre-tax profit dipped to £2,532,563 from £2,819,32 the year before. The company stated: "The brewing industry continues to experience tough trading conditions. The company has made significant efforts in developing its managed estate, tenanted opportunities and free trade business. But operating profit remains under pressure from cost increases and the general downturn in the economy. 2015 will prove no less challenging."
 
Geronimo Inns reports turnover and profit up: Companies House accounts filed for gastro-pub operator Geronimo Inns, owned by Young's show, turnover and profit rose in the year to 31 March 2015. Turnover was £43,865,000, up from £41,472,000 the year before. Pre-tax profit was £5,325,000, a rise from £4,957,000 in the prior year. Ebitda climbed to £8,180,000, up from £7,383,000 the year before. Like-for-like sales rose 3.9%, having been up 4.8% in the year before. The company stated: "Turnover increased by 5.8% due to like-for-like growth and the acquisition of two new sites, The Fellow in Kings Cross and The Owl and Pussycat in Shoreditch. Like-for-like growth was driven primarily by a strong performance at The King's Head (Winchmore Hill), following a substantial refurbishment, and The Cow and the Oyster Shed. An impairment charge of £271,000 was recognised in respect of one of the company's pubs, The Lord Palmerston, as an assessment of its market value indicated that this had fallen below its carrying value. Post year-end, the pub is now operated within the tenanted division of parent company Young's." Geronimo managing director Ed Turner resigned in July this year. After his departure, Young's has stressed the current focus is on increasing Geronimo like-for-like sales growth in line with the rest of the company. The company's latest site, The Grocer, opens in Spitalfields, London this Thursday (24 September).
 
Benugo opens first UK railway station site outside London, launches new craft beer and pizza restaurant this week: Benugo, the cafe-deli, high street and restaurant operator, has launched in its first UK railway station outside London. The company has opened a 2,000 square foot site with 60 covers at Birmingham New Street Station along with a 600 square foot kiosk. As well as the usual menu items of sandwiches, soups, salads, cakes and Benugo blend coffee, the new venue will offer hot pots for the first time. Assistant marketing manager Katherine Aylmer told Propel: “We are super-excited to open in Birmingham and it’s a big step. We are always looking to grow.” The company is also launching The Warehouse this week at Hult International Business School in London, which will serve wood-fired pizzas and craft beers. The restaurant is based in Commercial Road, Whitechapel, in a listed building that was formerly St George’s Brewery. Aylmer said: “There’s beautiful old brick walls, iron and steel beam and columns. Serving craft beer is very fitting for this site. It is going to be a relaxed restaurant with six pizzas on the menu and three daily specials.”
 
Casual Dining Group owners look to issue £150m bond, deny claims of stock market listing: Private equity firms Apollo and hedge fund York Capital Management are seeking advice from banks on issuing a £150m bond in respect of their Casual Dining Group (CDG) business, The Sunday Times has reported. The newspaper claimed the firms have looked at a possible float of the company but have decided to wait until its two recent acquisitions, La Tasca and Las Iguanas, are fully integrated. CDG chief executive Steve Richards told The Sunday Times: "We are constantly evaluating options for our business in terms of the best way to grow it. However, we have not been exploring the option of a sale and have no plans to go to the public markets." 
 
Drake & Morgan set to open King’s Cross site today: Drake & Morgan is set to open its new bar and grill concept in King’s Cross today (Monday, 21 September), its ninth site. The company is launching its ninth site Drake & Morgan at King’s Cross, which is the group’s biggest yet at 14,500 square foot. The venue is spread across two floors and comprises of two bars and a restaurant, deli and lounge, private dining room and a series of bookable kitchen “pods” as well as an outdoor terrace. The site is carved up into smaller spaces, each with their own identity and separated via reeded glass screens. Stand-out features include an emerald-green staircase connecting the two floors, an island bar punctuated by swivel stools, and an open-plan kitchen with sit-at dining where the grill is the focal point. The all-day destination will be open seven days a week for breakfast through to dinner and Sunday brunch. The enhanced bar offering includes a new cocktail list by Alex Daulby (Hops & Jigger), a significantly extended wine list, an extensive range of craft beer and artisan coffee to-go. The food menu – overseen by newly-appointed head chef Dave Green (Dean Street Townhouse) under the direction of group executive chef Robert Mitchell – will be divided into meat, fish and vegetables “off the grill” together with a dedicated deli section offering charcuterie and cheese. Managing director Jillian MacLean said: “Over the last few years we’ve watched King’s Cross regenerate and turn into a diverse foodie hub and are extremely excited to have chosen it as the location for the ninth bar and restaurant.” 
 
North Bar set to open new site in Harrogate: Yorkshire-based craft beer company North Bar is to open a new site in Harrogate. The company has been granted permission by Harrogate Borough Council to open a venue in a vacant unit in Cheltenham Parade facing the back of Harrogate Theatre. The site will have a bar on the ground floor with the first floor primarily for private hire, although there will be some additional customer seating. North Bar director John Gyngell told the Harrogate Advertiser it has been trying to find the best site in the town for five years and believes it will fit in well with the other independent cafes and restaurants in the town centre. He added: “It is a lovely site, I am pleased we found it. We have been waiting for the right place and the right time. It seems like the independent food and drink market has been growing in Harrogate, and with the new cinema complex coming next year the time is right.” North Bar, which launched in 1997, operates six bars in Leeds and recently entered the craft brewery business through its new offshoot, North Brewing Co.
 
Deltic Group opens new Steinbeck & Shaw concept in Canterbury: The Deltic Group has opened its new concept Steinbeck & Shaw in Canterbury. The company has launched the concept on the site of its former Chill nightclub in St George’s Place following a £150,000 investment, creating 20 jobs. The venue has a stripped back, raw and contemporary feel that exploits the existing architecture. As part of its premium offer, customers will also have the option to upgrade to S&S+, the venue’s ultimate VIP party experience. Packages will include fast track entry, complimentary cloakroom and dedicated service in a private party area. Music will be an eclectic mix of high-energy party music, floor filling vocal dance tunes and commercial chart topping RnB. The bar also offers an extensive range of premium spirits, fresh cocktails and craft beers. General manager Ian Holmes told the Canterbury Times: "Steinbeck's will primarily be a great place to party, with 21 pre-bookable booths, tables and private dining areas."
 
Be At One to open 28th bar in Norwich: Be At One will open its 28th bar in Norwich in November. The company is opening the venue on the site of the former Lola Lo nightclub after buying the lease from Eclectic Group earlier this year. Be At One is spending £800,000 refurbishing the site, which the company said “will still keep its character”. Sales and event manager Danielle Brown told the Eastern Daily Press: “It’s in a great location, right in the city centre. There is nothing like it in Norwich at the minute.” Be At One opened its first bar in Battersea in 1998 and as well as sites across London, it has venues across the UK including Brighton, Bath, Cardiff and Leeds.
 
Lancashire-based Indian cider maker Himachal hits £65,000 crowdfunding target on Crowdcube: Himachal, a Lancashire-based company that makes Indian cider for Asian restaurants, has hit its £65,000 target on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube, in return for 15.12% of its equity. The company, founded by David White and Clive Fernandes in January 2015, has seen 103 investors pledge £71,540, meaning it is now “overfunding” with five days left. The money will be used to buy raw material and brew cider, pay shipping costs and import and excise duties from each shipment. The pitch states: “To the best of our knowledge we are the only authentic Indian cider on the market using Indian apples and brewing and bottling high in the Himalayan foothills. The product has been developed, designed and manufactured and the initial shipments have gone through comparative blind taste testing coming out top against three well-known UK ciders in a recent event at West Bradford Golf Club. Our initial stocks have already been sold and committed to our launch restaurant customer in Lancashire, who has committed to an initial 144 bottles a week. The overwhelming majority of our cash outflows are to cover the purchase of cider, shipping costs and import/excise duty and fees. There are more than 9,500 licensed Indian restaurants in the UK, which will constitute our key market. We will initially be bringing in approximately 40,000 bottles per month, which will represent slightly below 5% of our target market rising to close to 17% (of cider being sold in Indian restaurants) by the end of our third full trading year. We also intend to add flavoured ciders as our brand develops.”
 
JD Wetherspoon hits further delays and opposition in Welwyn Garden City: A plan for a JD Wetherspoon pub in central Welwyn Garden City (population: 43,252) has run into further delays and fresh opposition. Borough council officers have recommended rejection of JD Wetherpoon’s planning application to convert 22 Parkway, while the company has submitted a 59-page planning and economic statement. The statement stresses the company's pubs attract few complaints, and concentrate on providing traditional beer and good value food. Planners say the application will be decided by councillors “on a date yet to be confirmed”, and will accept comments until 5 October. Critics say the proposed pub will disturb neighbours and betray the town’s original design. 
 
CPL Online delivering added value for operators through its Big Data Platform: CPL Online, the provider of e-learning and online business solutions to the hospitality sector, is delivering a series of added value reporting and data analysis functions for operators through its Big Data Platform. The company has been using the platform, powered by HPCC Systems, since 2012, and it is now revolutionising the way in which it processes data. It allows clients, whose training platforms have been developed and hosted and managed by CPL Online, to analyse billions of rows of data, leading to a better understanding of their workforce and the potential to benefit from cost savings to their business. CPL uses the data to track user trends and spot unusual or suspicious training activity and also highlights the best performing staff. It has also enabled CPL Online to add new features to its new, built-for-mobile e-learning courses, which will shortly be launched. As well as highlighting potential cheats, the system can also identify “star performers”. It picks out staff re-taking an exam required by law, such as a health and safety course, that don’t need refresher training, potentially saving a company money. David Dasher, managing director of CPL Online, who also sits on HPCC Systems community advisory board, said: “When we introduced the Big Data Platform the goal was to create a system that could process vast amounts of data in order to spot trends and provide customers with useful analysis. Three years on and this is now possible with the volume of data we have. This level of sophisticated analysis will lead to significant changes in the way businesses recruit, train and promote their workforce.” This year, there has been 2.34 million logins on to CPL Online’s console system, which is powered by the Big Data Platform, and is projected to be 4.2 million by the end of 2015. Since 2012, over 1.6 million e-learning courses have been completed.
 
Gary Rhodes restaurant scores hygiene four in re-grade after previous zero rating: Celebrity chef Gary Rhodes’ waterfront restaurant Rhodes @ The Dome in Plymouth, has been re-graded with the second highest hygiene score after previously receiving zero out of five. The restaurant has been handed a rating of four by Plymouth City Council inspectors following a re-inspection. Operations manager Andrew Huckerby told the Plymouth Herald: "The re-grading follows the successful introduction of a new head chef earlier this year and the implementation of extensive systems put in place to meet the exacting standards demanded by the Food Standards Agency. The highest possible rating is time-dependent and couldn't technically be awarded this time as the head chef hasn't been in office long enough but we are confident it will be on the next inspection."
 
Former Buckingham Palace chef launches Italian restaurant concept in Washington: Former Buckingham Palace chef Robert Steel has launched an Italian restaurant concept in Washington, Tyne and Wear. Steel has joined forces with brother Charles to open 40-seat venue Little Italy in the Galleries shopping centre. They say they are bringing a “premium product” to the area with freshly cooked food using authentic Italian ingredients, to create classics such as eggplant parmigiana. Robert Steel, who worked aboard the QE2 as well as in the kitchens at Buckingham Palace, told the Sunderland Echo: “We’re doing authentic Italian food, which I don’t think there is a lot of around here.”
 
Premier Inn secures licence for Heathrow hotel, eyes Leeds site: Whitbread-owned Premier Inn has secured a licence for a 613-bedroom hotel next to Terminal 4 at Heathrow Airport. The site, which is already under development, is expected to open in late 2016 or early 2017. Meanwhile, the company is eyeing up a 128-bedroom hotel in the heart of Leeds. Property investment and car parking company Town Centre Securities told the Yorkshire Evening Post it was holding detailed talks to create the Premier Inn at a proposed development in Whitehall Riverside. 
 
Bath Ales starts expanding craft beer and pizza concept Beerd with second site in Oxford: Bath Ales has started to expand its craft beer and pizza concept Beerd with a second site in Oxford. The company has reopened its Grapes pub in George Street under the brand following a three-week closure. Central to the menu is the extensive beer list, offering local and international brews from unique and independent producers including its own Beerd range. The draught beer offering has more than doubled and is available in third, half, two-third and pint measures. Traditional pub dishes have been replaced by hand-crafted, freshly-made artisan pizzas and a range of snacks. Bath Ales operations director Duncan Zvonek-Little said: “It made sense for us to change Grapes into a Beerd venue. It is in a great city-centre location and a prime spot for people visiting the popular theatre. As we’ve discovered with Beerd in Bristol, the simplicity of the concept, well-executed, along with the contemporary look and feel of the place, gives us the confidence locals and visitors will really enjoy this new bar. We’ve been thrilled with the reception and support Beerd in Bristol has received. Oxford provides another great location for this style of outlet to flourish.”
 
Hawthorn Leisure to reopen Sheffield pub under Artisan Tap concept following six-figure refurbishment: Hawthorn Leisure will reopen the Ship Inn in Sheffield under its craft beer Artisan Tap concept on Friday, 25 September following a six-figure refurbishment. The company is reviving the pub, which dates back to 1863, in Shalesmore to restore it to its former glory with a fresh, modern twist. Guests will be able to relax in mismatched retro 1960’s armchairs whilst admiring artwork displaying the history of Sheffield. The pub, which is the company’s fourth Artisan Tap, will feature an extensive list of craft beers, cask ales, wines, spirits and cocktails as well as offering coffee. There will be a range of artisan bar snacks, deli boards and sharers, hot dogs, salads and puccias, a wood-fired Italian sandwich with options such as pulled ham hock with piccalilli, and sun blazed tomatoes, mozzarella and pesto. The pub is also planning to offer speciality spirit sessions, where customers can immerse themselves in the history and knowledge of premium products.
 
Wild Beer Co launches first bar and restaurant: Somerset-based brewer Wild Beer Co has launched its first bar and restaurant specialising in real ale. The company has opened Wild Beer at Jessop House – named after the three-storey building its based at – in Cambray Place, Cheltenham. The grade II-listed Georgian property, which housed the former Bistrot Coco restaurant and its adjoining bar Coco Beach, has been taken over by Wild Beer Co following a deal brokered by agents Christie + Co. The bar showcases the company’s broad range of beer and also serves beers from other breweries around the world as well as wines, spirits, cocktails, soft drinks and coffees. The food menu includes home-cured meats and cheeses from the dairy farm where the brewery is based. Director at Christie + Co’s Bristol office Nicholas Calfe, who handled the sale, said: “The former Bistrot Coco and Coco Beach saw strong interest, particularly from investors who were keen to convert the site into a guest house, and corporate pub operators attracted to the property’s prime location.” Wild Beer Co was founded two-and-a-half years ago and currently distributes its beers and ales across the UK.
 
Blumenthal-trained chef launches first restaurant: Chef Christopher White, who trained under Heston Blumenthal, has launched his first restaurant. White, who worked for Blumenthal at The Fat Duck and The Hinds Head in Bray, Berkshire, has opened The White Spoon in Cheltenham. The 42-cover venue is based in Royal Well Road on the site of the former Cheltenham Dandy restaurant. White told the Gloucestershire Echo: “My restaurant brings a little touch of Heston’s magic to Cheltenham, but serving dishes to savour and enjoy, rather than scientific experiments on the plate.” White runs the restaurant with his wife Purdey Spooner with the name of the venue taking its inspiration from their last names.
 
Wahaca starts expanding DF/Mexico concept by opening second site in London: Wahaca has started expanding its Mexican-American restaurant concept DF/Mexico by launching its second site in London. The company has opened the 130-cover restaurant in Tottenham Court Road. The concept was inspired by a US/Mexico road trip by Wahaca’s founders Thomasina Miers and Mark Selby, who spotted that chefs crossed the borders both ways for inspiration and decided they wanted to bring that influence to the food. The menu includes NYC Torta, a Mexican sandwich served up the New York way in a toasted brioche bun and tacos which have been given the American treatment with extra grilled steak, crispy cheese, chipotle salsa and tomatillo guacamole. DF/Mexico was launched at Old Truman Brewery in Brick Lane, east London, last year.
 
Plans for cinema, restaurant and hotel development in Colchester get council backing: Plans for a new cinema, restaurant and hotel development at the Northern Gateway site in Colchester, Essex, have taken a step forward after being backed by councillors. Colchester Borough Council has agreed to lease an 18-acre site off junction 28 of the A12 to Turnstone Colchester, which plans to create a sports and leisure development, reports Insider Media. The scheme will include a 12-screen cinema, 12 restaurants, an 80-bed hotel and 80,000 square foot of other leisure uses, including extreme sports. The development is set to create about 600 full and part-time jobs. Turnstone's lease was approved at the council's revolving investment fund committee meeting following a bidding process. Portfolio holder for economic growth and planning Cllr Bill Frame said: "Granting leasehold interest in this site to Turnstone is an extremely exciting and significant step forward in the development of the Northern Gateway. It will be a real boost for economic development across the borough and will also create substantial job opportunities."
 
Caffe Nero eyes third site in Hull: Caffe Nero is eyeing its third site in Hull. The company wants to open on the site of the Hull City FC ticket office outside St Stephen’s shopping centre. An application has been submitted to Hull City Council on behalf of British Land Company to demolish the kiosk and replace it with a 50-seat cafe that would have Caffe Nero as tenants. A planning statement said: "The proposals offer a fresh and vibrant addition to the front of St Stephen's shopping centre in place of the existing and currently under-used kiosk. When complete, it will provide a new, iconic design that complements the existing shopping centre and integrates a more effective landscaping scheme that will improve pedestrian circulation." Caffe Nero has two other sites in Hull – one within the House of Fraser department store in Paragon Square and the other in Savile Street.
 
Wylam Brewery set to invest £1.5m in new brewery site in Newcastle: Wylam Brewery is set to invest £1.5m in its new brewery site in Newcastle after being given the go-ahead to move operations to the city from Heddon-on-the-Wall. The company has received approval from Newcastle City Council’s planning committee to convert the former Military Vehicle Museum located within Exhibition Park, historically called the Palace of Arts, into a new brewery, bar and leisure facility. It will spend £750,000 on brewing equipment and the same amount again altering the building to create the bar area, beer garden and event space. Director Rob Cameron told the committee: “This application will create a cultural attraction unique to the city, bring vibrancy to the park and renew Newcastle’s long running brewing history.” The brewery would operate from 6am to 9pm while the bar and brewery tap would open until 11pm. Events would take place twice a month, as would live music, with capacity for 800 people. Weddings would also occur once a month with up to 250 guests in attendance, while the refurbished property would also cater for up to 15 conference events a year.
 
Former Mitchells & Butlers staffer opens second site in Cardiff: Former Mitchells & Butlers staffer Jon Saunders has opened his second bar in Cardiff. Saunders’ company Croesy Bars, which operates the Ten Mill Lane cocktail bar, has launched 29 Park Place in a grade II-listed building. The three-storey venue boasts an extensive cocktail menu, home-cooked food – including honey-glazed lamb lollipops and sticky sweet chilli chicken wings – along with a "snug", X-Box, big screen and pool table. Saunders told Wales Online: “We’ll embrace the home-cooked favourites that we’ve all grown up loving, but they’ll have a twist which you wouldn’t be able to do at home. We want to recreate the feelings of going to your best mate’s house as a kid; that magical place where you were allowed to eat what you liked and do what you liked and never wanted to go home.’ Saunders has more than 15 years’ experience within the hospitality industry and was appointed as the youngest general manager for Mitchells & Butlers in 2003.
 
St Austell Brewery acquires Falmouth pub: St Austell Brewery has acquired the Chain Locker pub on Custom House Quay in Falmouth, Cornwall – joining its 25-strong managed pub portfolio. Estate director Adam Luck said: “Established in 1660, the Chain Locker is the second oldest pub in Falmouth and an iconic venue known throughout our region. We are very proud to add this unique and charming pub to our estate. While retaining the charm and heritage of the Chain Locker, we aim to breathe new life into the adjoining redundant buildings which were formerly the Shipwrights and Marine Restaurant to make the most of their prime waterside position. We look forward to working with the Chain Locker team to ensure the pub plays a vital part in Falmouth’s vibrant and distinctive pub scene.” The purchase takes the total number of pubs owned by St Austell Brewery to 167 across the south west.
 
Cornwall multi-site operator appeals against decision to revoke licenses: Cornwall multi-site operator Martin Billingsley has appealed against a decision to revoke his licenses after a history of fire safety complaints at his two restaurants. Billingsley’s actions at Food for Thought and The Boathouse in Fowey presented a “serious fire and explosion risk”, which led to Cornwall Council withdrawing the licenses. In a statement, the council said an appeal had now been lodged with the magistrates’ court, meaning the two restaurants on Town Quay can remain open until the hearing. It comes after a meeting of the council’s licensing sub-committee last month voted to withdraw Billingsley's licenses. Members heard statements from health and safety officers who said that Billingsley had a "history of non-compliance" stretching back several years. These included three 47kg gas cylinders being brought into the kitchen of one of the restaurants where they were “inappropriately connected” to cooking appliances. At the time of revoking the licenses, the committee said: “The situation gave rise to potential gas leakage and potential explosion which could have caused serious harm or death to the occupants of the kitchen, the staff accommodation above and to persons in the restaurant and passers-by.”
 
Casual Dining Group reveals more about new ‘grab-and-go concept’ Rapide: The Casual Dining Group (CDG) has revealed more about its new “grab-and-go” concept, Rapide. Speaking at BCSC 2015 in London, Phil Derbyshire, CDG’s property director, said the first of the new concepts would be launched in early November at its Cafe Rouge branch in London’s Euston Station. That current Cafe Rouge unit would be closed, extended and refitted for the new brand, he said. Derbyshire said the company would then be looking for new sites of 2,000 to 3,000 square foot. Derbyshire had previously outlined his plans for Rapide in Estates Gazette‘s September Retail & Leisure supplement. “There will be two concepts,” said Derbyshire at BCSC. “A grab and go with A1, and a grab and go with A3. Three sites will open before the end of the year in London. There’s opportunities at transport hubs.” A national roll-out will eventually happen, he added. Rapide will differ from the likes of Upper Crust because, said Derbyshire, the outlets would sell “authentic French food”.
 
Wasabi offers breakfast options for first time after opening inaugural airport site at London Luton: Wasabi is offering breakfast options for the first time after opening its inaugural airport site at London Luton. The company has invested more than £1m launching the 1,000 square foot site, creating over 60 jobs. The new breakfast menu includes “Wake Up Cups” with fruit and yoghurt and breakfast pots including the Rainbow, which offers a Japanese twist on the classic full English breakfast, as well as hot and cold drinks. The new menu complements the existing offering of sushi, salads, soups and hot dishes, such as prawn tempura and spicy chicken bento, bubble teas and Aloe Vera juices. Wasabi founder Dong Hyun Kim said: We’re delighted to open our first ever airport branch within London Luton Airport, bringing top quality affordable Japanese food to travellers.” Wasabi, which was launched in 2003, saw turnover reach more than £64m in 2014. It has 40 branches across London and has recently opened branches in Leeds, Lakeside shopping centre in Essex and Cambridge, as well as opening in New York last year.

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