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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Tue 20th Oct 2015 - Tim Martin criticises Jamie Oliver's sugar tax
Tim Martin criticises Jamie Oliver’s sugar tax: JD Wetherspoon founder and chairman Tim Martin has criticised Jamie Oliver’s campaign for higher taxes on soft drinks. Oliver has introduced a 10p tax on fizzy or sugary drinks in his restaurants and is calling on the government to introduce a tax on sugary drinks in the UK. Martin said: “A new tax on soft drinks will cost pubs millions at a time when prices in pubs are already very high compared to supermarkets. Jamie Oliver runs restaurants which cater to an affluent clientele. He is either courting the favour of the elite or is badly out of touch with the majority of people. I believe that he should campaign for tax equality for pubs, restaurants and supermarkets, since pubs and restaurants pay 20 per cent vat on food sales, compared to zero for supermarkets. Showboating of this kind by Jamie Oliver will close pubs.” Martin pointed to the fact that Pepsi is now the company’s biggest selling draught product with 580,000 drinks served in the past seven days, of which 197,000 were Diet Pepsi. Additionally in the same period Wetherspoon’s 950 pubs served almost one million coffees and teas, which were served sugar-free. He said: “Sales of non-sugar drinks in the non-alcoholic category are increasing at a rapid rate and are in the great majority, when you take into account coffee and tea. Customers already pay a lot for soft drinks when they go out and we don’t need another ‘big brother’ tax.”

Premier Inn plans 13 Hub sites by 2020:
Whitbread chief executive Andy Harrison has said it plans to open 13 of its cheaper Hub by Premier Inn sites by 2020 because it is a “winning formula”. The first site opened in St Martin’s Lane, London, last November and has a 95.6% occupancy rate with average room rate of £100, a 16% discount to Premier Inn. Three more will be launching before April 2016, including one in Edinburgh, and another three to follow in the following year. It has already earmarked seven locations across London. Harrison said the new sites would also include some double rooms and the format could expand to other regional cities. Speaking at a presentation of the company’s first half results today when the brand reported sales growth of 12.6%, Harrison said: “We are very excited about the Hub format. It is working really well in London and we are looking forward to taking it to Edinburgh. I’d love us to find a way of it working in other regional cities.” Premier Inn expects to increase its number of hotels in the UK and Ireland to 900 by 2020 and has seen reservations via its own website grow to 84%. Harrison said: “We have the best UK hotel network by far offering the best choice of locations. We are investing £130m this year maintaining and improving our guests’ experience. There will be 30,000 new beds and we are also investing in our systems.” Its total sales growth increased in London by 20.6% and 10.5% in the regions. Harrison added: “The economy is growing in the UK and London and we expect that to continue and increase growth in hotel demand. Travelodge has arrested its decline and it’s a competitor we need to keep an eye on.” He said Premier Inn continued to be the UK’s favourite hotel chain with an average TripAdvisor score of 4.3/5. Its international estate continues to grow and Harrison said it hoped to have a portfolio of 12-15 hotels in Germany “as soon as possible”. The first hotel is due to open in March in Frankfurt, a second site has been secured in Munich and a further eight are under negotiation. Harrison said it believes the company would break even in Germany when there were about eight hotels.
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