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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Fri 9th Oct 2015 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Giggling Squid negotiating on three new sites in Surrey ahead of Esher opening next month, plans headquarters in Guildford:Thai-brand Giggling Squid is negotiating on three new sites in Surrey as it prepares to open its third venue in the county next month. The company, led by Andrew and Pranee Laurillard, is launching its first restaurant inside the M25 in Esher on 17 November – its 14th site. It is spending £100,000 refurbishing the former Carluccio’s site in the High Street into a 120-cover restaurant, creating about 20 jobs. Andrew Laurillard said: “Despite the wealthy customer base, we felt the area really lacked for good places to eat. We lived a few miles down the road in Oxshott for a couple of years and usually ended up in Wimbledon when we wanted something decent.” He added he was also negotiating on three more sites in the county, which would be larger than existing branches such is the demand. The company will also create more jobs in the county when it establishes a group headquarters in Guildford, where it opened a branch in August, later this year. The company will recruit a financial director and finance team, a fourth area manager, executive and development chefs plus posts in human resources, training and marketing. Giggling Squid said the people of Surrey have really taken to the brand and the restaurants are busy for lunch and dinner services throughout the week. In addition to the four confirmed pipeline sites in Bury St Edmunds, Berkhamsted and Warwick, there are also several new units currently conveyancing. Giggling Squid opened its first restaurant in Hove in 2009.

Industry News:

340 now booked in for Propel Multi Club Conference on 5 November: A record number of attendees, 340 delegates from 170 operating companies, have booked in for the final Propel Multi Club Conference of 2015, taking place on Thursday, 5 November. Multi-site pub, restaurant and foodservice companies can book up to two free places each by emailing Adam Dickinson on See bottom of email for full details of speaker schedule

ALMR – apprenticeship levy may hamstring employee investment: Following the government’s consultation on the implementation of an apprenticeship levy, the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) has warned the proposals risk disrupting investment and could increase the burdens on businesses. The ALMR has made a submission to the consultation arguing for the use of incentives, rather than a levy, to encourage investment and benefit business of all sizes. ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The government’s proposed levy focuses on quantity, not quality and could undermine the government’s own objectives if businesses end up paying out more than they can generate in apprenticeships. The proposed levy opts for a one size fits all approach that totally fails to consider businesses size, market, or trading style. The proposals make no reference to the potential size of the levy and which businesses will be caught by it. The government has spoken of applying it at a ‘reasonable level’ without indicating what that entails. Smaller companies may not be able to generate the large numbers of quality apprenticeships the government is asking for. Our annual employment survey shows that per-employee investment in training has fallen by nearly 50% over the last year, despite a 32% increase in the number of apprenticeship starts. Falling margins have meant that non-essential training for non-apprentices has been scaled back. An additional employment levy is only likely to exacerbate this problem. The ALMR has repeatedly called for steps to incentivise training and apprenticeship take-up via additional funding and scrapping of employer NICs for under-25s. A tax credit regime whereby companies who make an investment have the ability to offset it against PAYE liabilities would incentivise employee investment and allow businesses to focus on addressing their own skills shortages.”

Domino’s becomes first major pizza brand to launch in Italy:
Domino’s has become the first major pizza brand to launch in Italy – the birthplace of the menu item. The company, which operates in 80 markets worldwide, has opened a restaurant in Milan and is planning three more venues in the city before the end of the year. The Italian franchise is operated by ePizza SpA, which is led by Alessandro Lazzaroni, who was previously commercial retail director of Italian bakery company Galbuser, reports ABC News. He said: “We’ve created our own recipe, starting from the original pizza recipe, with Italian products, like 100% tomato sauce and mozzarella, and products like prosciutto di Parma, gorgonzola, grana padano and mozzarella di bufala campana.” Domino’s chief executive Patrick Doyle believes the company’s delivery model may give it an advantage in Italy. He said: “There’s a lot of pizza, but there’s not a lot of delivered pizza. So there may still be an opportunity.” President Richard Allison added: “No major American pizza brand has successfully entered the market. We’re going where no major pizza brand has gone before.”

BII reports large insurance savings for members through dedicated partnership: The British Institute of Innkeeping (BII), the leading professional body for the licensed retail sector, is achieving large savings for its members on their business insurance, with the average policy nearly £800 cheaper for members than from their existing provider. As a result of a new strategic partnership with PXL Insurance, the BII has collectively saved its members £65,000 in just three months. Savings for members so far have been considerable; from a minimum of £200 right up to £5,000 on an annual policy, with the average member saving £778.46. Tim Hulme, BII chief executive, said: “It is vital that pub owners have adequate cover in place as the consequences of being under-insured can be devastating for a business. However, this can prove expensive, which is why we’ve partnered with dedicated provider PXL Insurance, who have been able to offer our members some superb savings.”
Anheuser-Busch InBev voices ‘surprise’ at SABMiller rejection of offer: Anheuser-Busch InBev has voiced its “surprise” at SABMiller’s rejection of its £42.15 per share cash takeover offer, with a partial share alternative. It stated: “The cash proposal represents a premium of approximately 44% to SABMiller’s closing share price of £29.34 on 14 September 2015 (being the last business day prior to renewed speculation of an approach from AB InBev) and Altria Group, which owns 27% of SABMiller and has three representatives on the board, has publicly stated that it supports our proposal and ‘urges SABMiller’s board to engage promptly and constructively with AB InBev to agree on the terms of a recommended offer’.” Carlos Brito, chief executive of Anheuser-Busch InBev, said: “Notwithstanding our good faith efforts, the board of SABMiller has refused to meaningfully engage with us. Our proposal creates significant value for everybody. How long will it be before shareholders see a value of over £42 in the absence of an offer from AB InBev? If shareholders agree that we should be in proper discussions, they should voice their views and should not allow the board of SABMiller to frustrate this process and let this opportunity slip away.”

Diageo under pressure to sell Guinness: The $100bn merger battle playing out between Anheuser-Busch InBev and SABMiller is not the only high-profile beer deal fermenting, The New York Post has reported. Diageo’s sale of Guinness and the rest of its beer portfolio may be on tap. Diageo has been under shareholder pressure to sell its beer business or perhaps just its Guinness brand, two sources told The Post. SABMiller, which is fending off AB InBev, could merge with Diageo’s beer business, one of the sources said.

Third of vegetarians admit to eating meat on night out, survey reveals: A third of vegetarians have admitted to eating meat every time they get drunk, according to a survey. Two in five of 1,789 vegetarians questioned owned up to treating themselves to a sneaky kebab after a few drinks, revealed the research by money-saving website Voucher Codes Pro. One in three said they indulged in meat every time they went out drinking. 27% said they ate bacon, while 19% opted for fried chicken and 14% confessed to eating sausages. But kebabs and burgers proved the most popular post-pub food, with 39% saying they went for kebab meat and 34% burgers. The vegetarians surveyed admitted to suffering guilty consciences with 69% not telling anyone what they’ve done. Voucher Codes Pro founder George Charles said: “I know a few ‘vegetarians’ who sometimes crave meat, but it seems a few are giving into their cravings when drunk. I think it’s important for friends of these ‘vegetarians’ to support them when drunk and urge them not to eat meat as I’m sure they regret it the next day.”

Judges named for Casual Dining Awards: Casual Dining, the award-winning trade show for the pub and restaurant sector, has revealed its founding judges for the launch of the Casual Dining Restaurant & Pub Awards 2016. The award ceremony will take place on the evening of 24 February 2016 at The Grange St Paul’s Hotel in London, following the first day of Casual Dining. The judging panel will include some of the sector’s best known business leaders, consultants, influencers and entrepreneurs, including Karen Forrester, chief executive of TGI Friday’s UK, Kate Nicholls, chief executive of The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers, and Anthony Pender, chairman of the British Institute of Innkeeping. Judge Ian Neill said: “The new Casual Dining Restaurant & Pub Awards are an outstanding opportunity to highlight achievement in the casual dining space.” Judges are: Peter Backman – managing director, Horizons; Keith Bird, commercial director, Gourmet Burger Kitchen; Chris Brazier – group event director, Casual Dining; Paul Charity – managing director, Propel; Karen Forrester – chief executive, TGI Friday’s UK; Peter Martin – vice chairman, CGA Peach; Mark McCulloch – founder and chief executive, WE ARE Spectacular; Ian Neill – Las Iguanas, Wagamama, Jamie’s Italian; Kate Nicholls – chief executive, The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers; Anthony Pender – chairman, British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) and Co-founder, Yummy Pubs’ Alex Reilley – executive vice chairman, Loungers and Lorraine Wood – director, Arena.

Company News:

Former Scottish & Newcastle boss John Dunsmore founds new craft micro-brewery in Edinburgh: John Dunsmore, former chief executive of Scottish & Newcastle and C&C Group, has founded a new craft micro-brewery in his home city of Edinburgh. Dunsmore, along with wife Lynne and daughter Kirsty, has launched Edinburgh Beer Factory, which is about to offer its first beer, Paolozzi lager. The micro-brewery, which will open to the public next summer, is housed in a converted industrial unit in west Edinburgh. Dunsmore said: “I’ve been excited by the creativity and agility I’ve seen in the smaller companies I’ve been working with in the past few years; it’s spurred me on to create something from scratch. With a family-owned business there’s no compromise driven by external shareholder pressure; you can make the right decisions based on strong values and a long term perspective.” Its launch product is a tribute to Scots-Italian Eduardo Paolozzi, who invented pop art. The 5.2% ABV lager is based on a historic Munich-style but created with contemporary Italian brewing technology. Paolozzi’s artwork “Illumination and the Eye” is displayed on the bottle and fount and the micro-brewery will be showcasing other artworks. The beer is endorsed by the Paolozzi Foundation and Edinburgh Beer Factory will pay a charitable donation for every bottle and pint sold. Paolozzi lager is launching in Edinburgh and Glasgow this month, with plans to expand across the UK during 2016.

Pho opens in Birmingham with first ‘grab-and-go’ fridge:
Pho, the Vietnamese restaurant group run by Stephen and Juliette Wall, has opened its first site in Birmingham, in the city’s new £150m shopping centre, Grand Central, at Birmingham New Street Station. This is the 16th restaurant from the group, and the fourth outside London, following a successful opening in Manchester’s Corn Exchange in August. The restaurant, which specialises in the national dish of Vietnam (pho), seats more than 90 diners and offers the brand’s first “grab and go” fridge to expedite a popular Pho To Go offering. Along with its signature dish, Pho in Birmingham also serves authentic Vietnamese street foods like spring and summer rolls, spicy salads, fragrant curries, and wok-fried noodles, as well as beers, coffees and fresh juices. Stephen Wall, co-founder and owner of Pho, said: “Birmingham has always been right at the top of our list of cities to open Pho in as we grow out of London – it’s got a huge, diverse, young population – and we’re hoping that our food will appeal. The opportunity at Grand Central came along at exactly the right time and it is a fantastic new development in the heart of the city. So we’re fortunate that it was an obvious decision to make. If things go well it’s likely that we’ll look at a further site in the Birmingham area at some point.”

The Stable plans first site in the Midlands, with Birmingham opening: Artisan cider and pizza brand The Stable, which is 51% owned by Fuller’s, is lining up its first opening in the Midlands with a site in Birmingham. The brand is opening in John Bright Street in a former hairdresser’s at the end of November. Co-founder Richard Cooper told the Birmingham Mail: “We are nervous but very excited about moving into the real world with our Birmingham restaurant. We try to use local produce and will be doing that in Birmingham, including local cider suppliers. The menu in each of our restaurants is different depending on the ingredients, and we like to have some fun naming our pizzas after local places, such as The Bath Blaster. No doubt we can have a Bullring Pizza in Birmingham. We considered a balti pizza but I think that might be a step too far!”

Cabana lines up first restaurant in north east in Newcastle: Brazilian barbecue restaurant Cabana is lining up its first restaurant in the north east in Newcastle. Propel can reveal the company, led by Jamie Barber and David Ponte, is in negotiations for a site in the city centre with view to opening the venue in February. Cabana is currently accelerating its expansion plans outside London having acquired its tenth and 11th sites in Southampton and Watford in the summer. The Newcastle restaurant would be its fifth regional outlet. The company currently has seven restaurants in London having opened its latest venue in Brixton last month. Cabana will open its next restaurant at the Corn Exchange in Manchester this month. The 6,000 square foot site is its biggest to date and has 200 covers and a first floor cocktail bar. Earlier this year Barber said he had set a target of opening five new sites a year for the next three years.

Leon boss sets sights on having own coffee roastery and chicken farms, plans ‘yoga centre’ for staff: John Vincent has set his sights on healthy eating brand Leon having its own coffee roastery and chicken farms. Vincent, founder and chief executive of the company, said he “wants to improve visibility in the supply chain”. However he told The Times for now he will settle for rebuilding relationships with the company’s suppliers, which had “become difficult” as Leon has grown. He said: “I want to make sure I know all of our farmers and all of our partners.” The other focus for Vincent is investing in the wellbeing of his staff and he is looking to open a central space where people can participate in yoga, meditation and acupuncture as well as being taught about nutrition and cookery skills. “If I look after my team, the customers will benefit,” he said. Leon now has 27 outlets with five more planned to open this year and a further 15 in 2016. However, Vincent said for him, creating and retaining the right organisational culture is more important than hastening expansion. He added: “I’d rather have fewer restaurants with an authentic culture. I’d have sleepless nights if I had loads of restaurants without a great culture.”

CAU opening 13th site in Didsbury on site of former Zizzi restaurant today: CAU, the Argentinian-inspired restaurant brand owned by Gaucho, is opening its 13th site in Didsbury, Manchester, today (Friday, 9 October). The company is launching the 110-seat venue on the site of the former Zizzi restaurant in Wilmslow Road. The restaurant features an open plan kitchen and a traditional asado grill located in a large partially covered and heated garden that can seat 50 people for year-round al-fresco dining. The design includes corrugated booth seating and sky and grass imagery. The venue is the group’s fifth opening so far this year with plans to launch further sites in Bath and Birmingham in the coming months.

Weston Castle plans £250,000 co-investment with Star Pubs & Bars to convert Lancashire pub into sports bar: North west multiple operator Weston Castle is looking to transform a historic village pub into a sports bar in Lostock Hall, near Preston, Lancashire. The company, led by Chris Tulloch, is planning a £250,000 co-investment with owner Star Pubs & Bars to convert the Tardy Gate. An application has been lodged with South Ribble Council to renovate the building, with proposals including an extension and “quirky features”. A Star Pubs & Bars spokesman said: “We can confirm the licensees, Weston Castle and Star Pubs & Bars, are looking to get planning permission to turn The Tardy Gate in Lostock Hall into a sports oriented community pub, which will be renamed The Wishing Well at Tardy Gate. We intend to jointly invest £250,000 on opening up the rear exterior of the pub installing decking, astro-turf, a mural of a seaside pier with water and beach-hut style pods.” The proposed new name is a reference to an old well in the rear car park that Weston Castle wants to make a feature of.

Hakkasan steps away from operating two Las Vegas nightclubs: UK-based nightclub and restaurant company Hakkasan has ended its management agreement to operate two Las Vegas nightclubs, Light and Daylight at Mandalay Bay. The company issued a statement on Tuesday afternoon announcing it was finished running both clubs. It said: “Hakkasan Group and the ownership group of Light and Daylight at Mandalay Bay have mutually agreed to terminate their management agreement for both venues, as well as end all litigation between the two parties. Both Hakkasan Group and ownership wish each other well in the future.” In June, the owner of the two sites MBBC sued Hakkasan. The group claimed that Hakkasan and chief executive Neil Moffitt had gained a monopoly of Las Vegas nightclubs and had been diverting customers away from Light and Daylight and also had been luring DJs and promoters to work at Hakkasan clubs.

Great Northern Inns opening third Copper cafe bar in Nottingham today: Great Northern Inns is opening its third site under its cafe bar brand Copper in Nottingham today (Friday, October 9). The company has converted the former Reflex 1980s bar on the corner of Upper Parliament Street and Market Street, creating about 30 jobs. Antony Wilson is the general manager of the new venue, and is also a partner in Copper City, which comes under the Great Northern Inns umbrella. He told the Nottingham Post: “We’re thrilled to be opening the doors to Copper city, the third venue in the Copper brand. The building has been lovingly restored over the past few months and we’re excited to offer residents and visitors a little luxury in the city centre. Whether it’s for coffee and breakfast, our pre-theatre menus or craft beers and cocktails in the evening, we’re looking forward to welcoming our first customers.” Prior to being Reflex, which closed about two years ago, the venue was O’Neill’s, Café Royale and before that it was originally a Martins bank, which opened in 1932. Copper has two other sites in Mapperley and West Bridgford.

Two venues in the north to open with Pilsner Urquell tank beer: Pilsner Urquell has unveiled the opening of two new tank beer outlets, both in the north of England, with further UK installations soon to be revealed. Following the success of the inaugural tank beer outlets in London and Cambridge, which have seen over half a million pints sold since 2013, Headrow House in Leeds and Albert’s Schloss in Manchester will make a main feature of the brewery fresh unpasteurised beer, which is stored in copper tanks. Since opening its doors last Friday, Headrow House in Leeds has been the fastest selling Pilsner Urquell launch in the UK to date with over 3,500 pints consumed within three days. Split over four floors, Headrow House is a former textile mill at Bramleys Yard, just off The Headrow, and offers a range of spaces from the European style Beer Hall and Ox Club restaurant on the ground floor to a live event space, Redondo Beach Cocktail Bar and roof terraces. Co-founder Ash Kollakowski has installed six Pilsner Urquell tanks at Headrow House. He said: “Unpasteurised beer just tastes amazing. There’s no better way to serve beer.” Albert’s Schloss in Manchester opens next Thursday (15 October) on the ground floor of the grade II-listed 3,000-capacity Albert Hall on Peter Street. Mission Mars, the newly formed company behind the project, created by Revolution Vodka Bar and Trof Group’s founders, will showcase four Pilsner Urquell tanks as part of the Bohemian inspired food, drink and live music venue.

Petrol station operator to open 40 Eddie Rocket’s in Ireland:
Topaz has announced a €11.4m investment that will see it introduce Eddie Rocket’s to 40 Irish forecourts nationwide. The roll-out, to be called Rocket’s by Eddie Rocket’s, will take place over a seven-year period and create 45 jobs this year. The first outlet has been launched at Topaz in Douglas, County Cork – and sites at Dublin Port and Brennanstown, County Wicklow will be following suit before the end of 2015. A further 15 outlets will be rolled out during 2016. Topaz said the concept has been designed with forecourts in mind, and will offer customers an innovative dining experience. It said all menu options are freshly made-to-order with a speedy service. Niall Fortune, owner at Eddie Rocket’s, added: “We are delighted to be able to bring our food to customers all around Ireland with Topaz, and are very excited to have opened the first location at the Topaz Service Station, Douglas, County Cork last week.”

CPL Online wins global innovation award: CPL Online, the leading provider of e-learning courses and online business system solutions for the licensed retail hospitality sector, has won a global award for innovation. The award for “Innovative Use of HPCC Systems in The Community” was presented to David Dasher, managing director of CPL Online at the annual LexisNexis Risk Solutions HPCC Systems Engineering Summit in Florida, USA. The award was bestowed in recognition of CPL Online’s pioneering development and use of its Big Data Platform. Through this innovation, CPL is able to offer its clients the most up-to-date reporting and data analysis services. Features include tracking user trends, spotting unusual or suspicious training activity and highlighting the best performing staff. Clients can also achieve significant cost savings as a direct result of CPL Online’s Big Data functions, for example by pinpointing where annual refresher training and exams are and are not needed. During the event, Dasher presented to a global audience on “How HPCC Systems is Transforming Training”, explaining how the Big Data Platform, powered by HPCC Systems, has enabled CPL Online to revolutionise the way in which the company processes data and is transforming training.

Burger King seeks 20 graduates: Burger King is looking to recruit 20 graduates for its 2016 EMEA leadership programme. Applications for the six-month programme open in December. Successful applicants will be placed across Burger King’s global network of offices, where they will be given the opportunity to learn and work across a range of departments, such as marketing, operations and human resources. The programme “provides us with the opportunity to continually add potential leaders to the business, driving our culture of meritocracy, ownership and excellence”, said Lauri Hulsbergen, head of people, communications and IT for Burger King’s EMEA division.

Reserve Bar Stock Exchange launches £70,000 crowdfunding push: Reserve Bar Stock Exchange in the City of London has begun crowdfunding 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 £99.4m in turnover over 20 years. Round one funds will go towards the completion of the cigar and whisky shop on the first floor of the venue, to complement the ground and basement floors already operating. These works should be complete in January 2016.

Marco Pierre White set to get go-ahead for Leeds opening: A Leeds development set to introduce a new 134-room hotel and pave the way for chef Marco Pierre White to open his first restaurant in his home town has been recommended for approval. Earlier this year, Town Centre Securities, the listed Leeds property group, submitted plans for the refurbishment of the vacant Merrion Hotel in Leeds. Unused since July 2012, the seven-story property, which forms part of the wider Merrion Centre complex, had previously been home to a hotel since about 1966. IBIS Styles, part of the Accor group, has agreed a deal to operate the new hotel, and the property will also be home to the first Marco’s New York Italian Restaurant in Leeds and the first establishment of any kind which Pierre White has opened in the city where he grew up and began his culinary training. Now, the plans have been recommended for approval subject to conditions by city planners in a report to be scrutinised by councillors next Thursday (15 October). According to the report, the proposed development would result in the regeneration of a significant building within the Merrion Shopping Centre, resulting in a “high quality, appropriate development”, adding “vibrancy and vitality to the area”. The existing Octagon bar, which closed in 2012, will be bulldozed to make way for a two-storey extension to provide the additional hotel accommodation and the restaurant. In addition to the hotel revamp and the creation of the restaurant space, public realm and highway improvements are proposed, including an external seating area for Marco’s.

Burning Night Group hires Golley Slater PR:
Golley Slater PR Wales and north have been appointed to handle the consumer and corporate communications for leisure organisation Burning Night Group across its Bierkeller entertainment complexes in both Cardiff and Leeds. The Burning Night portfolio comprises The Bierkeller, Around The World In 80 Beers, and Shooters Bar. Golley Slater’s Welsh and Yorkshire teams have been tasked with raising the profile of the business and driving footfall and sales through PR activity for Burning Night Group’s three brands.

Papa John’s franchisee opens fifth site in 18 months: Papa John’s franchisee Steve Mullarkey has opened his fifth site in 18 months, this time in Lytham St Annes – he also has sites in Warrington, Preston, Chester and Prestwich. He said: “I previously managed a business in St Annes so am familiar with the thriving north west seaside town. In 18 months this will be our fifth Papa John’s and that is exciting progress. Trade is good, so we also aim to open two more Papa John’s before the end of the year. Papa John’s special franchisee incentive deals have been a great help with development costs. In addition, I can’t fault the training and support provided by head office. The recent national TV advertising has also grown brand awareness and I’m getting calls from customers who’ve ‘just been tempted by the TV ad’. This combined with our local promotions, lunch offers and social media campaigns, has so far been a real recipe for success.”

Mystery hires strategy and insights manager: Mystery, the design agency specialising in branding, design and concepts for restaurants and bars that has doubled in size in the last couple of years, has hired Paget Scott-McCarthy as its new strategy and insights manager. Paget, who formerly worked at JPA Design, will work across the agency on all projects, supporting teams with concepts and ideas generation; running brand workshops and brain storming sessions; acting in a brand guardian role and supporting new business development.

Starbucks partners charity to raise cash for African farmers: Bath charity Send a Cow, together with Starbucks partners across the country, has launched a nationwide fundraising campaign to support poor smallholder farmers in rural Rwanda. The Big Cow Project is taking place throughout October, with nearly 700 Starbucks stores across the UK competing to raise funds of £650 – the equivalent of a dairy cow that can change lives for communities in Rwanda. Send a Cow has been working with some of Africa’s poorest families for nearly 30 years and has helped over a million people work their way out of extreme poverty. It provides livestock, including cows, tools, seeds and training as part of a comprehensive programme designed to give people the hope and the means to establish a future for themselves, their families and their wider communities. The charity currently works across seven African countries, including Rwanda, a country where 60% of the population is believed to be living below the poverty line and 44% of under fives are stunted through malnutrition.

Stonegate’s Classic Inns launches winter menu with two-month pie festival: Stonegate Pub Company’s Classic Inns brand has launched its winter menu and is marking the occasion with a two-month pie festival. New starters include a fish board sharer, featuring Severn Wye and Oak smoked salmon, wholetail scampi, king prawns and calamari while mains feature fresh-baked lasagne with garlic ciabatta bread and a slow cooked roasted lamb shank with a rosemary and red wine sauce. There is also an increased choice of Sunday roasts. Each pub’s chef will be featuring a different crumble of the day while sticky toffee pudding makes an appearance, alongside a new Black forest roulade with cream and cherry compote. Classic Inns is also running a pie festival until 22 November alongside the new main menu. Customers can opt to try one of eight pies with fillings such as pulled Lincolnshire ham or a creamy fisherman’s pie. Each pub will also be introducing its own special food and drink deals and events throughout the week including a cask ale club night every Monday.

Speaker programme for Propel Multi Club Conference unveiled: The full speaker programme for the Propel Multi Club Conference on Thursday, 5 November at the Lancaster, London, the best-attended conference series in the sector, has been unveiled. Ian King, presenter of the Sky News show, Ian King Live, and former Business and City editor of The Times, looks at the key economic trends over the past 12 months and the 12 months ahead and gives his views on their impact on the hospitality sector. Peter Hansen, founder of leading mergers and acquisitions advisory Sapient Corporate Finance, which has advised on sector transactions worth more than £2bn in the past five years, looks at the key sector trends in 2015 for those buying and selling businesses. Andrew Ball, of accountancy firm haysmacintyre, offers his top tips on tax minimisation for multi-site operators. Paul Harbottle, commercial director of Enterprise Inns, talks about building an 800-strong managed pub estate and investment and progress in the leased and tenanted part of the business. Toby Smith, chief executive of Novus Leisure, explains how the company is evolving its food, drink and entertainment offer, along with digital capability, to stay at the forefront of the late-night market in London and the regions. Martin Wolstencroft, founder of Arc Inspirations, arguably Yorkshire’s most successful independent bar and restaurant operator, talks about running multiple concepts, overcoming challenges, best-in-class profit conversion, innovation and expanding over the Pennines in the company’s 15th year. Scott Shaw, founder and chairman of marketing and information analysis business Fishbowl, explains how US restaurant businesses are using guest information to drive marketing and sales. He is joined by data expert Mike Lukianoff, founder of Czar Metrics, now owned by Fishbowl, who will talk about the ground-breaking work his company is doing in the US with a host of well-known restaurant brands, using data to shape menu and price engineering, media efficiency and trade area analytics. Nick Collins, managing director of Loungers, talks about evolving the brand, maintaining company culture, fulfilling growth ambitions, new trading locations and stepping into the shoes of founder Alex Reilley. Kris Gumbrell and Simon Bunn, co-founders of Brewhouse & Kitchen, talk about how they have developed the UK’s largest brewpub chain, food quality, recruiting brewers, brewing experiences, EIS funding and the market potential for the company. Ann Elliott, chief executive of leading sector public relations and marketing firm Elliotts, presents the findings of a survey of senior industry executives on the subject of “outstanding leadership”. Elliotts strategy director James Hacon talks to former Spirit chief executive Mike Tye, Thorley Taverns operations director Phil Thorley, Ego Restaurants chief executive James Horler and Ann Elliott about the principles of high quality leadership. Multi-site pub, restaurant and foodservice operators can claim up to two free places by emailing Adam Dickinson on

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