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Fri 25th Sep 2015 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Starbucks UK offers interest free loans to staff to cover rent deposits and commits to the Living Wage for all staff: Starbucks UK has unveiled two new initiatives in the UK as part of its on-going commitment to help its employees, particularly those aged under-25 to tackle the cost of living. The Home Sweet Loan scheme, developed by Shelter as the Tenancy Deposit Loan Scheme, means that Starbucks will provide an interest-free loan to help employees moving into a new home to pay rental deposits. The scheme is the first of its kind to be launched by a private company in the UK, following the example of government departments and the Co-operative. Starbucks has also announced plans to extend the National Living Wage to all employees, including those aged under 25 years old. This commitment to the National Living Wage recommendations will increase its basic pay to £7.20 per hour in April 2016 for all employees, including apprentices and more than 4,500 members of staff who are under 25. Going beyond the government’s recommendations, Starbucks will also pay a London Premium for partners working in the capital. Kris Engskov, president of Starbucks EMEA, said: “We are really proud to be the first private company to implement Shelter’s innovative Tenancy Deposit Loan Scheme. We know the cost of living is a key concern for many, with the average rental deposit in England now is £1,226. And with over half of our partners being under 25 years old, that rent affordability especially is an issue that affects them. These initiatives are two of the ways we are able to support the great people that work with us.” Shelter chief executive Campbell Robb said: “There are now eleven million private renters in England, and as housing costs keep rising, more and more people are struggling to scrape together the deposit needed to rent a home. After successfully launching the scheme with our own staff in 2013, it’s great to see that Starbucks are following suit and helping their staff to move home without worrying about how they’ll cover the cost. This will no doubt encourage other UK employers to follow their example and give renters the helping hand they need.” Betsy Dillner, director of Generation Rent, who advised Starbucks on the scheme added: “We applaud Starbucks for taking leadership on helping their employees raise a tenancy deposit and encourage other businesses to do the same.” The initiatives were announced in an update to Starbucks employees which included the extension of the Starbucks Apprenticeship Programme as well as the retention of the Bean Stock employee share ownership programme.

Industry News:

Deadline for participation in benchmarking survey today: The deadline for taking part in the Propel and haysmacintyre benchmarking survey is today. More than 70 companies took part in the first sector Benchmarking Survey last year. All contributions are confidential and go to haysmacintyre 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

Andrew Ball to present at Propel Multi Club Conference: Andrew Ball, of accountancy firm haysmacintyre, is to present at the Propel Multi Club Conference on 5 November at the Lancaster, London. Ball will offer his top ten tips on tax minimisation for multi-site operators. Pub, restaurant and foodservice multi-site operators can book up to two free places by emailing Adam Dickinson on adam.dickinson@propelinfo.com

Lifestyle changes lead to British family mealtimes becoming a staggered affair, new report reveals: Lifestyle changes have led to British family mealtimes now being a staggered affair. More than half of modern families no longer sit down to dinner together on any weekday, according to McCain’s “Teatime Report”. Children tend to eat together in one sitting at about 5.45pm but only one in four do so at the table with a third eating on the sofa. Mums grabs a bite when they can and hope to catch a meal with their husband three days a week. On the occasions families do eat altogether, a third will watch television at the same time, a further 11% will listen to music, and the same percentage will be on the mobile phone. In stark contrast, two thirds of the 2,000 parents of children aged three to 16 reported that as children they always sat at the dinner table as a family for their evening meal – and no other entertainment was involved. McCain marketing director Mark Hodge said: “Teatimes have changed considerably over the last 30 years. Everything from the time, location, to both mums and dads taking the lead to prepare meals – tea has evolved into a busy and hectic occasion that is often over in a flash.”

Anheuser-Busch acquires fourth craft brewery, this time in California: Anheuser-Busch has acquired a craft brewery in California – the Los Angeles-based Golden Road Brewing, the largest craft brewer in Los Angeles County. Golden Road was founded by Meg Gill and Tony Yanow in 2011 and expects to sell 45,000 barrels of beer this year. “Their focus on giving back to the community and impact on the Los Angeles craft market in four short years makes Golden Road a strong addition to our craft portfolio,” said Andy Goeler, chief executive of craft beer at Anheuser-Busch. The Golden Road acquisition continues a recent spending spree within the craft industry by Anheuser-Busch. Though terms of the deal were not disclosed, the company has spent an estimated $200m in four separate transactions involving Goose Island Beer Co of Chicago, Blue Point Brewing in Patchogue, New York, 10 Barrel Brewing from Bend, Oregon, and Seattle’s Elysian Brewing.

Technomic – consumers see value as multi-dimensional: A report by insights firm Technomic has found nearly 80% of US consumers say that “value” is very important in their choice of where to dine—but their definition of foodservice value depends on many factors, including service and, increasingly, overall ambience and the quality of menu offerings. While price will always play a major role, delivering on these multi-dimensional elements of value is crucial as consumer attitudes toward dining out shift and operational costs rise. To combat this, operators must increase emphasis on the overall dining experience, Technomic concludes in its ‘Value and Pricing Consumer Trend Report’. “While food quality remains essential, the overall experience is becoming more important to today’s diners who are looking for fun, social and unique dining occasions,” said Kelly Weikel, director of consumer insights. “Service and atmosphere make up about 40% of Gen Zers’ and Millennials’ value equations at all types of limited- and full-service restaurants. They are looking for experiences they can share – both by connecting with others in the dining party and through social media.”

First Taco Bell restaurant serving alcohol opens in US under new concept: Taco Bell, the brand owned by Yum! Brands, has opened its first restaurant selling alcohol under a new concept – with more sites set to follow. Customers at the new venue in the Chicago suburb of Wicker Park in North Milwaukee Avenue can order beer, sangria and wine to accompany their meal and a similar site is expected to open in San Francisco before the end of the month. The stores are branded as Taco Bell Cantina restaurants and will be the only type of Taco Bell sites to sell alcohol. A company statement said: “The San Francisco restaurant will serve beer and wine only, while Wicker Park serves beer, wine, sangria and twisted Freezes. Cantina restaurants will also feature a new tapas-style menu of shareable appetisers – including nachos and rolled tacos – during designated hours each evening, in addition to the full standard Taco Bell menu.” 

Plans to double size of Ashford shopping centre approved after owner agrees to ‘exclude’ 46 pub and restaurant brands: Plans to double the size of a shopping centre in Ashford, Kent, have been approved after its owner agreed to exclude 46 pub and restaurant brands from the development. Owner of the Ashford Designer Outlet McArthurGlen has had its scheme for 40 new stores and six restaurants and cafes totalling about 100,000 square foot approved by Ashford Borough Council. But it came with a condition – that it would not allow any of 46 “excluded” brands to be considered for the new units and other ones would close by 7pm. The list includes BrewDog, Carluccio’s, Five Guys, Gourmet Burger Kitchen, JD Wetherspoon, Mitchells & Butlers, Nando’s, Stonegate Pub Company and TGI Friday’s. Council spokesman Dean Spurrell told Propel the reason for the condition was to “protect the ailing town centre”. He added: “There are plans for a new town centre cinema complex and that proposal also includes bringing in some new restaurants with interest from operators currently not in Ashford. We have negotiated this condition for a period on behalf of the retailers in the town centre to make sure the Ashford Designer Outlet development does not further impact on them.” McArthurGlen said the new-look centre is planned to open in 2018. 

Horizons – lunch is a great opportunity for adaptable foodservice operators: There is a real opportunity for foodservice operators to grow their lunchtime trade as the definition of lunch broadens and consumers become more adventurous in their choices. Speaking at the lunch! trade show in London yesterday, Emma Read, Horizons’ director of marketing and business development, told the audience that there was huge opportunity for the lunch market as it begins to blur with the breakfast and snacking sectors and even with evening meals. “Consumers expect to be able to eat when they want, wherever they happen to be whether it’s out shopping, at work, travelling or in a garden centre. Lunch is extending beyond its traditional times – it could now be anything from mid morning to late afternoon. Operators need to be prepared for this and adapt,” she said. “There are also new, innovative chains offering a much wider choice of lunchtime dishes – how much longer can the humble sandwich be our lunch of choice when you can buy fantastically healthy salads, noodle pots and a vast array of other foods-to-go?” Currently around 3.5 billion lunch meals are sold accounting for 44.5% of the foodservice sector. This share has grown 2% since 2012 and is likely to expand by a further 5.6% by 2018.

Company News:

HSBC downgrades Greene King and Mitchells & Butlers: HSBC has cut its recommendation on Greene King and Mitchells & Butlers shares. The bank downgraded Greene King to ‘reduce’ from ‘hold’ and cut its price target to 780p from 830p saying it was concerned about like-for-like sales growth. “We assume 2%, which is already high versus the peer group – and are concerned that minimum wage pressures could emerge,” it said. The bank said it doesn’t see huge downside, but noted that the price-to-earnings multiple is high compared with history, even once synergies from the acquisition of Spirit are factored in. “As such, we believe the shares could come under pressure. The most obvious attraction is the dividend yield, but that’s not especially well covered by free cash flows.” HSBC cut Mitchells & Butlers to ‘Hold’ from ‘Buy’ and slashed the price target to 385p from 495p. It said that while the shares may look inexpensive on headline multiples, it is hard for the bank to see what the potential catalysts for a share value re-rating will be. “The payment of a dividend – the most likely catalyst in our view – remains distant.” HSBC said it had been hopeful of a turnaround at M&B and, earlier in the year, like-for-like sales trends were improving. However, as the year has worn on, this has fizzled out. It said volumes as well as pricing are in decline, which leaves it wondering whether the group will be able to achieve price rises, as it hopes, next year.

Jongleurs set for expansion after re-organisation: Comedy club brand Jongleurs which currently has 12 venues across the UK, is eyeing four additional sites following an internal restructure, Business Insider has reported. Jongleurs currently operates clubs in Leeds, Nottingham, Birmingham, Glasgow, Southampton, Cardiff, Portsmouth, Reading, Bristol, alongside three in London. Managing director Muhammad Anas told Insider that another venue is set to launch in Swindon in December, with additional sites planned for Sheffield, York, Plymouth and Swansea in 2016. He added that another club could be opened in Liverpool or Newcastle next year, although the company has not decided on which city. “The main thing is finding the right venue,” Anas added. “In the next year we’ll be focusing on quality and trying new forms of comedy – we’ve also been trialling cabaret shows to provide something a bit different.” Anas was speaking to Insider following the appointment of administrators from Cirrus Professional Services to Jongleurs Comedy Live on 9 September. He revealed the appointment was an attempt by the group to consolidate its operations and cut down on administration costs. “I think we’ll be very busy next year with the new venues and may open more depending on the quality of sites available,” he said.

Pret A Manger expands Boston, Massachusetts presence with sixth site: Pret A Manger has opened its sixth Boston, Massachusetts location at Longwood Center (360 Longwood Avenue). The newest site, 3,018 square foot and offering 70 covers, will cater to Boston’s Academic hub and has created 40 new jobs. Pret will donate unsold food from this shop at the end of every day to Rescuing Leftover Cuisine. Propel reported this month that Pret A Manger’s turnover derived from US sites rose 12% to £88,145,000 in the year ended 1 January 2015 (2013: £78,384,000). The company opened seven new US sites in the year, a 9% increase in the size of Pret’s US estate. Like for-like sales growth in the US was 7.8%, an acceleration from the 5.4% seen the year before. Losses before tax amounted to £6,315,000 (2014: £4,855,000). Exceptional costs of £1,365,000 (2013: £836,00) were incurred, of which £198,000 related to employment litigation and £1,167,000 related to one-off redundancy and other costs following a restructuring during the year. Gross profit margin dipped to 60% from 63% the year before. The company said it would increase the size of its estate in Washington DC, Chicago, Boston and New York this year. The US division currently owes £45,788,000 to its European parent, up from £33,237,000 the year before.

BrewDog bars to stock Serious Pig charcuterie, updates on Columbus, Ohio land acquisition: BrewDog bars have begun to stock Serous Pig charcuterie, a brand that has seen an investment from BrewDog co-founder James Watt. The company stated: “Founded in London in 2009 by George Rice and Johnny Bradshaw, we love what Serious Pig has done since it blazed onto the market; their relaxed, open attitude twinned with a desire for utter quality in every component of their business is hugely impressive. Their high-welfare British farmed pork has gone from strength to strength – each of their four product lines has won a Great Taste Award – so when the chance arose to stock the guys’ British charcuterie in our bars, we jumped at it! All Serious Pig products are now available across our range of BrewDog bars.” Meanwhile, James Watt has reported that the company has received incentives of $6m to open a brewery in Columbus, Ohio – and the 42 acres required to site the brewery cost ‘far less’ than $1.5m. He said: “We received a incentive package of just over $6m from the local authorities to help make Columbus happen. This effectively more than covered the initial £3m which means we have been able to move ahead with this project faster than anticipated and also helps manage risk. In addition, we were able to purchase 42 acres for less than $1.5m which is far, far less than we originally budgeted too.”

Pie and Pint Inns launches cafe concept at second Punch Taverns site: Pie and Pints Inns has launched a coffee and breakfast concept called Cafe Crust at its second Punch Taverns opening, The Castle at Great Leighs, Chelmsford, Essex. The pub re-opened last week after a £415,000 investment from Punch Taverns and £150,000 from Pie and Pint Inns. Founder Gary Downham opened the Hare & Roxwell, the company’s first Punch site, just over four years ago – the site takes £28,000 a week during the summer. Downham said: “The Castle see the launch of our new cafe concept Cafe Crust which means the pub operates as a cafe bakery, in the style of Panera Bread, during the morning.” 

London’s first Lombardy restaurant Il Cudega opening tomorrow: Il Cudega, a deli, wine bar and restaurant dedicated entirely to the flavours and produce of Italy’s Lombardy region, is opening in London Fields, east London, tomorrow (Saturday, 26 September). The concept, the first of its kind in the capital, is run by Italians Giovanni Brighi, a Hackney resident of 20 years, and his Milanese business partner Luca Gaggioli. Situated in one of the three railway arches being developed off Westgate Street, it has a shared outdoor area, bistro-style seating, a gelato parlour and a garden where vegetables are grown for the restaurant. The venue also includes a focaccia bar, which will serve up the bread Genovese-style, plain or with toppings including crescenza (creamy cheese), thin layers of lardo or bits of salciccia (sausage) as well as charcuterie, cheeses and wines imported from producers in Lombardy. 10% of its profits will go to local activities and food-related charities. 

PizzaExpress submits plans for second Liverpool site: PizzaExpress has submitted plans for a second site in Liverpool. The company has lodged proposals with Liverpool City Council to open a restaurant on part of the former Blind School complex in Hope Street. PizzaExpress wants to use the basement and ground floor of the four-storey building, which will sit next to 92 Degrees Coffee, which opened in the complex on the corner of Hardman Street and Hope Street in January. Due to the location, in the Canning Street Conservation Area, planners are suggesting the restaurant’s signage would be bronze – different to the standard furnishings for the chain. The project design, access and heritage statement, drawn up by Butler Associates on behalf of PizzaExpress, said: “The design approach taken has been practical, based upon the assessments and taking into account the issues raised through related guidance. The proposed works will not [be] detrimental to the character of the building and will not affect any of the existing structure or any existing redeeming features.” PizzaExpress’ other site in the city is at the Liverpool ONE complex.

Reserve Bar Stock Exchange set to launch £70,000 crowdfund push: Reserve Bar Stock Exchange in the City of London is set to crowdfund on Crowdbnk, looking to raise £70,000 in return for 18.92% of its equity. The bar uses mobile technology across a multi-floor venue to create a ‘unique experience’ within The City. The club opened in July 2015, and has seen strong growth in trading in the weeks to date. The pitch states: “At the heart of this experience is the Reserve App, a fully integrated mobile application that has been designed to engage and entertain our guests. The app provides the software platform for the venue’s signature concept, a real-time drinks exchange where prices fluctuate in line with their popularity throughout the evening. Capturing the excitement of the money markets, Reserve Bar Stock Exchange envisions three floors: (1) the exchange bar on the ground floor featuring the venue’s signature concept; (2) a nightclub in the lower ground floor featuring the Square Mile’s only premium dance venue; and (3) a cigar and whisky shop on the first floor, to serve as the destination for City connoisseurs also featuring a fully catered communal table for street food until late.” Reserve Bar Stock Exchange is the creation of Alan Grant, former owner, operator and creative director of London venues Notting Hill Arts Club, Cherry Jam, Neighbourhood Club, Supperclub and Apartment 58 Members Club. Grant’s entertainment brands have delivered £99.4 million in turnover over 20 years. Round 1 funds will go towards the completion of the Cigar & Whisky Market on the first floor of the venue, to complement the ground and basement floors already operating. These works should be complete in January 2016.

Craft beer specialist reports serving 5,000th different beer: The Craft Beer Co which operates five sites across London and one in Brighton, served its 5,000th different beer on Wednesday. The group, known for stocking the finest craft beers from around the world, broke the landmark figure just weeks before opening tits seventh site, this time in London’s insurance district in the shadow of The Gherkin. Founder and managing director Martin Hayes said: “Delivering a great craft beer offer is more than stocking a few local brews. For us, it’s about a dedication to sourcing the best craft beer nationwide and globally. Whilst it’s great to enjoy local brews, the craft beer fan is an inquisitive and well-informed animal and to satisfy that need, we need to go to great lengths to deliver and outstanding offer. This recent landmark in breaking the 5,000th beer barrier, is a result of the team’s unwavering search to stock a wide range of the best craft beers on the planet.”

Casual Dining Group’s Bella Italia brand eyes Basildon site: Casual Dining Group’s Bella Italia brand has lined up an opening at Basildon’s Festival Leisure Park. The new restaurant will be part of a development at the park that saw the closure of nightclubs Liquid and Jumpin’ Jaks. The brand has applied for permission for a late alcohol and music licence. Kevin Blake deputy leader of council also welcomed the application. He said: “I will definitely be visiting Bella Italia. It will bring a good variety of restaurants to the park. The new restaurant will also mean healthy competition at the park between the restaurants and I am all for that.” Bella Italia will join other restaurants at the Festival Leisure Park, including Frankie & Benny’s and TGI Friday’s. The Italian restaurant will be the latest restaurant there. It joins The Restaurant Group’s Coast to Coast brand, which has 12 branches across Britain, which has also applied to take over one the new units in the space vacated by nightclubs.

Whole Foods Market hit with animal welfare lawsuit in the US: Whole Foods Market, which has nine sites in the UK, has been hit with a lawsuit from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which alleges that the chain’s claims about animal welfare amount to a “sham”. The class-action suit was filed in the US District Court in Northern California. PETA claims that Whole Foods doesn’t adequately monitor its suppliers to ensure compliance with the chain’s “5-Step Animal Welfare Rating” for its meat products. “The entire audit process for Whole Foods’ animal welfare standards is a sham,” the lawsuit reads, “because it occurs infrequently and violations of the standards do not cause loss of certification.” Customers are fooled because unenforced standards “create a false impression of ensuring a more humanely treated, higher quality animal product — when in fact they ensure no such thing”. Whole Foods spokesman Michael Silverman said: “We are aware that PETA has filed a suit against us in California, but have not yet been served. It is important to remember that PETA’s mission is a total end to animal agriculture and animal meat consumption, and their claims against our business are generated with that specific goal in mind.”

Camden Town Brewery eyes move to Enfield: Property Week has reported that Camden Town Brewery, which has grown revenue from around £900,000 to £9m in three years, is eyeing a move to larger premises Enfield so it can bring back all production in-house – it has been forced to contract out more than half its production to a brewery in Belgium to meet demand. The company has identified a preferred option with the help of agent Savills: a 25-year lease on a 70,000 square foot industrial unit in Enfield, with rent thought to be around the £9/square foot to £10/square foot mark. However, the deal had yet to be signed. Founder Jasper Cuppaidge told Property Week: “We desperately wanted to stay in Camden. We tried every angle, but nothing was available.” However, moving outside the borough allows the brewery to afford a site that is 40% to 50% bigger, allowing for future expansion.

Former Diageo executive launches cocktail bar at Enterprise Inns site: Former Diageo executive Matt Schofield has launched a hand-crafted cocktail venue, Harrison Social, on Halifax’s Harrison Road after £150,000 co-investment with Enterprise Inns. Formerly Bar 11, the new-look Harrison Social, in Harrison Road, serves handcrafted cocktails, and has been fitted out with quirky features including reclaimed timber and corrugated iron feature walls, a grandstand cinema-style seating area and a drop pendant light fixture made from old crystal whisky and port decanters. Schofield, who competed in cocktails and mixology, before taking numerous roles with Diageo, said: “I’ve wanted my own venue for such a long time, and when I was given the chance to take on this pub, I jumped at it. It’s the right place, in the right location, and the amount of support and positive feedback we’ve received has been incredible. The Harrison Social experience is all about a great environment, great food, and even better drinks. From premium spirits and imported lagers, to our signature cocktails, drinks come in a variety of glassware to make them really stand-out. We also put a bit of theatre into our serves, to interact with customers and keep things exciting. We’re launching a new food offer soon and want our customers to be involved, so we’re planning on a tasting night with the opportunity for participants to vote for what makes the final menu.”

Chapel Down reports strong half year: Chapel Down Group has reported sales up 33% to £3.25m (H1 2014: £2.44m) in the six months ended 30 June. Wine sales volumes were up 45%, to £2.28m with beer and cider sales up 33% to £974,000. Gross profit was £1.17m up 31% (H1 2014: £897k). A further 82 acres of vines have been planted at its new leased site in Boxley on North Downs. The company hailed the prospect of another excellent harvest in 2015 in both volume and quality will enable more sales and even higher quality wines. Frazer Thompson, chief executive, said: “We have delivered another strong set of results, with sales and gross profits both up by a third. Consumers’ interest in English wines and beer grows from strength to strength and Chapel Down is well positioned to benefit. The proceeds of last year’s successful crowd funding are being used to plant more vines in the finest sites, improve our production facilities, winemaking equipment and systems and develop our people and brands. We are encouraged by the prospect of another good harvest in 2015 which will enable us to continue to improve the quality of our wines and ensure we have supply in place to meet future demand.”

Johnny Rockets launches ‘new generation’ sub-brand: US burger chain Johnny Rockets has launched a new Millennial-focused fast-casual concept called Johnny’s Burger Factory, which the company plans to grow as a sub-brand. Located in about 1,000 square feet at the Walden Galleria mall in Buffalo, New York, the Johnny’s Burger Factory restaurant is the first of two company locations to open this year. The second is scheduled to open outside Syracuse, New York, in November. The concept is designed to appeal to a new generation of customers, with faster service and customisation, as well as new technologies that are both consumer facing and kitchen-based to speed cook times, officials said. “This is targeted to deliver a better burger experience in a more Millennial-friendly environment,” said James Walker, Johnny Rockets’ president of global operations and development. Guests order at the counter using touch-screen kiosks to build their burgers, Walker said. A self-serve “sauce bar” features eight dipping sauce options to pair with the chicken tenders, fries and onion rings. New kitchen technology included a “clamshell cooking” systems that cook a burger patty in one minute, along with faster fryers. Walker said the concept can execute a made-to-order burger with fries in less than four minutes.

Savills hires Chris Bickle: Property agent Savills has hired Chris Bickle as director at the firm’s Southampton office. Bickle has more than 11 years of experience in the licensed leisure industry having held roles at Davis Coffer Lyons and Christie + Co. At Savills, he will focus on agency work, including acquisitions and disposals across London and central southern England, while also developing the team’s coverage in areas including the wider Home Counties, Oxfordshire, the Cotswolds and the south west. Bickle has also worked with a number of independent start-ups and multiple pub operators groups, as well as larger pub companies on strategic disposal and acquisition projects. He is also experienced in alternative use and investment transactions. Kevin Marsh, head of licensed leisure at Savills, said: “We are pleased to welcome Chris to Savills and believe his experience will be a great addition to our team. He is very well respected in the industry and will help to further strengthen our market position.”

New World Trading Company to open Botanist site in Farnham in the new year: New World Trading Company is open The Botanist in Farnham, Hampshire early in the new year. Located in Amalgamated Berkshire’s 4-5 Town Hall Buildings the 3,500 square foot bar and restaurant will create 50 jobs. Serving botanical cocktails, craft beers and ales along with deli and rotisserie-inspired food, the new Farnham venue will be the UK’s seventh Botanist and will mark the company’s expansion into the south, alongside its offerings in Birmingham, Leeds, Newcastle, Manchester, Chester and Alderley Edge. The New World Trading Company managing director Chris Hill said: “We are incredibly excited to bring The Botanist’s legendary brand and experience to Farnham. The character of the Town Hall buildings is a perfect match for The Botanist concept. We’ve had great success further north and are now looking forward to making our mark in Farnham.” The new site will sit diners.

Starbucks seeks new agency for retail division: Starbucks has contacted creative agencies directly with a brief from its retail division focused on the UK and Europe, Campaign magazine has reported. The review does not affect Abbott Mead Vickers (AMV) BBDO, which is Starbucks’ retained ad agency in the UK. AMV has worked with Starbucks since 2009, when it was appointed without a pitch to create a campaign promoting the coffee chain’s switch to Fairtrade beans. BBDO New York was already Starbucks’ creative agency of record in the US, having been appointed to the £36 million account in November 2008. A spokeswoman for Starbucks declined to comment on the pitch and said: “We tend not to provide comment on our relationships with our agency partners.”

D&D Restaurants to re-open Le Pont de la Tour next week after refurbishment: D&D Restaurants will re-open Le Pont de la Tour on Monday (28 September). It has a new head chef, Frederick Forster, at the helm, and an entirely new look from Russell Sage Studios. The bar will play host to live music from Thursday to Saturday each week. The new interiors are darker, sleeker and more vivid. Inspired by the French cruise liner SS Normandie, the décor features a nautical element throughout. The revamped terrace is now split into two distinct areas: a lounge bar terrace and an outdoor dining space for the restaurant. A refreshed wine cellar and a food store with a new look complete the changes.

Former Cinnamon Club chef to launch solo venture: Former Cinnamon Club chef Abdul Yaseen is launch his first solo venture, Darbaar, in Snowden Street, in the City of London this winter. Located within five minutes from both Shoreditch and Liverpool Street Stations and set over 5,500 square feet, Darbaar will house a 70-cover destination cocktail bar area, 120-cover restaurant including an interactive grill seating area, 20-cover private dining room and a bespoke chef’s table for up to ten people. Darbaar’s cuisine will take its inspiration from the many diverse regions of India and will cook with traditional clay ovens and have a charcoal Robata grill on display will lend a sense of theatre to the restaurant. The menu will feature healthy grills, street tapas, spit roasts, biryani and Royal Indian gravies with artisan bread. Yaseen said: “My vision of ‘Darbaar’ is to re-create memories where my diners will love to host their tables and encourage sharing the food which once was the charm of the royal courts. Love for food has shaped the course of my life, taking me on a fascinating journey from India to the UK where I have spent over a decade promoting modern Indian cuisine to London restaurant-goers.”

Three-storey restaurant to be built in Hull’s Paragon Square: A three-floor restaurant, complete with extensive outside seating area, is being built in Hull’s Paragon Square. The venue will be housed in the area formerly home to Cheeky Monkeys and Paragon Burger Bar. Hull-based Westlands Construction are due to move onto the site next week, with a view to completing the development next year. Hull-based chartered surveyors Garness Jones said they had already received interest from local and national operators. Agency director Paul White said: “Investors are being attracted by the City of Culture 2017, because that is giving people a lot of confidence.”

HowYa partners Buell Group: HowYa, the ‘at table’ rating system has partnered Buell Group, the advisory and service resource consultancy for the hospitality sector. The group, which is headed by Roddy Watt, will act as introductory agent for HowYa. Chief executive of Buell Group, Roddy Watt said: “The HowYa product is very clever and we knew as soon as we saw it in action we wanted to work with HowYa. I have no doubt the business has a secure future ahead of it. In return for access to our network of contacts through events, Buell Group benefits from this partnership by working closely with a cutting edge business. We like to engage with businesses that break norms and HowYa is doing just that.” Melanie Jospeh, head of sales and marketing at HowYa, said: “Through this partnership with Buell Group we can open further doors to penetrate the industry and raise visibility for our product. Reaction to our ‘at table ratings’ system by Roddy and his team has been very encouraging and we look forward to a successful partnership.”

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