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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Wed 21st Oct 2015 - Chapel Down to raise crowdfund cash to build brewery
Chapel Down to raise crowdfund cash to build brewery: Chapel Down’s beer and cider business, Curious Drinks, has launched a Seedrs equity crowdfunding campaign and share placing to raise at least £1m to expand its beer business Curious Drink and build a new brewery. Crowdfunding will enable customers, as well as traditional investors, to participate in the offer, the company stated. Investors will receive shares in Curious Drinks, currently a wholly-owned subsidiary of Chapel Down. Demand for Chapel Down’s beer and cider continues to increase with sales growing at around 40% per annum. Demand is being driven from top-end restaurants, bars and hotels, as well as in the premium off trade, with Curious Brew lager now the best-selling craft beer in Majestic Wine. Proceeds from the crowdfunding will be used to construct a state-of-the-art new brewery and visitor attraction in the heart of Ashford, Kent, offering ideal transport links to London and the continent. The brewery, expected to be fully operational by December 2016, will enable Curious Drinks to consolidate its brewing and bottling operations into a single site, bringing significant cost savings and enhancing margins. Proceeds will also be used to further strengthen the Curious Drinks team, enhance its domestic and international routes to market and further develop the brand. Chapel Down are in final negotiations to acquire a 1.7 acre site in Ashford. The campaign, which follows a successful crowdfunding undertaken by Chapel Down in 2014, is an opportunity to invest in a profitable English beer and cider maker with strong growth prospects. Investors will receive a number of attractive benefits, from free brewery tours and 25% discounts on beer and cider to their names etched on brewery fermentation tanks and exclusive limited edition beers. Chapel Down has made two appointments to the board of Curious Drinks. Stewart Gilliland, currently executive chairman of Booker and a Non-Executive Director of Mitchells & Butlers will join Curious Drinks as non-executive chairman. Rachel Montague-Ebbs, supply chain director at CPM Retail and one of Management Today’s “35 Women Under 35 2015”, will join as non-executive director. These appointments are effective from the 1 March 2016 being the day following the final acceptance date. Frazer Thompson, CEO of Chapel Down and Curious Drinks, said: “Curious Drinks is a unique proposition – a range of beers and cider made by winemakers, benefiting from our passion for ingredients, our thirst for knowledge and our dedication to creating the best possible product. Demand for our Curious beers and cider has increased significantly since we first started making them four years ago and in order to meet demand we need to invest in all areas of the business. We want to bring our customers on the journey with us and are offering some fantastic benefits along the way. We were humbled by the overwhelming response to last year’s record-breaking Chapel Down crowdfund and hope to build an equally impassioned army of shareholders for Curious Drinks through this latest campaign. I am delighted to welcome Stewart Gilliland and Rachel Montague-Ebbs to the Board of Curious Drinks. Their experience and wisdom will be hugely beneficial to the business as we continue to grow.”

Merlin to expand China presence with Legoland partnership scheme: Merlin Entertainments and China Media Capital are forming a joint venture to create world-class visitor attractions in China and to build on and expand Merlin’s existing location-based entertainment expertise and brands. As part of the joint venture, Merlin and CMC plan to develop a Legoland Park in the Shanghai area and target the roll out of various Midway brands throughout China. The new Midway opportunities to be explored by the joint venture will include both the adaption and localisation of existing and proven Merlin brands, such as ‘The Dungeons’ and selected ‘Legoland Discovery Centers’ for the Chinese market as well as the development of new Midway brands and concepts including ‘DreamWorks Tours – Kung Fu Panda Adventures’ and others. At present Merlin has five attractions in China (Madame Tussauds in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Beijing and Wuhan, and Chang Feng Ocean World aquarium in Shanghai) and has announced plans for three further attractions scheduled to open in the next 18 months – Legoland Discovery Center Shanghai, and a Madame Tussauds and Sea Life aquarium in Chongqing. Nick Varney, chief executive of Merlin Entertainments, said: “China is a key growth market for the Group and we see this partnership as providing a significant opportunity to accelerate our plans. We’re also very excited to be working with CMC on the development and roll out of new brands. By working together in partnership we will be able to combine our expertise in operating world-class attractions with CMC’s insight and expertise in the Chinese market.” CMC is a leading innovator in China’s location based entertainment market and creator of China’s iconic urban entertainment and recreational complex – DreamCenter in Shanghai. CMC also owns many prominent media and entertainment companies and product brands. Ruigang Li, chairman of CMC, said: “Through investing and operating across the whole spectrum of the media and entertainment sector, CMC has accumulated unique experience in aligning international know-how with local market needs. Through this partnership with Merlin, a global operator, we will be committed to creating a premium experience as well as establishing a working system in China for the development and operation of location based entertainment attractions that meet international standards.”

NewRiver Retail – pub portfolio performing well: NewRiver retail has reported £223m of strategic acquisition in its Quarter Two to 30 September. The 158 pubs it acquired from Punch taverns for £53.5m is producing a net initial yield of 13.5%. Of its pub portfolio, it stated: “During the period NewRiver successfully secured a further nine planning approvals equating to a total of 22 successfully secured to date. Construction has commenced on surplus land for the first of the Company’s convenience stores for the Co-operative Group with completion expected for December 2015 and handover planned for January 2016. Value-creating residential development within the pub portfolio is progressing well, submitting nine planning applications for residential units during the quarter. Further applications are due to be submitted in Q3 to provide over 50 new dwellings, providing one and two bedroom apartments as well as detached and semi-detached houses. Following the recent acquisition of 158 pubs from Punch Taverns this quarter, the company has appointed an experienced pub management company to run the operations of the pub portfolio allowing NewRiver to focus on value creating real estate asset management and development.”

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