Story of the Day:
Kout Food Group nears break-even in the UK on sales of £110m, plans to revitalise Little Chef: Chairwoman of Kuwait-based Kout Food Group (KFG) Fadwa Al-Homaizi, whose company operates six brands in the UK, has reported that its UK business is nearing break-even. She stated: “Total sales in the UK for 2014 were over £110 million, representing a 44% increase over 2013. The like-for-like analysis shows that the key businesses in the UK have grown by over 6.5% during 2014. The UK businesses, now, in terms of sales, personnel and capital employed are almost as large as (our) Kuwait business. KFG has achieved a take-off stage in the UK – in 2014, the loss after central overheads is lower by £2.3m as compared with 2013 and is close to break-even and profitability. In 2014, The KFG team in the UK opened six new Burger King stores, six Subway stores (a first for KFG in any market), in addition to acquiring 14 new Costa stores – KFG acquired Coffee Snobs, operating 14 Costa stores. For the first time, KFG has commenced operations in the UK as a franchisee of Subway. KFG’s portfolio in the UK now includes Burger King, KFC, Costa, Subway, Little Chef and Cha Cha Moon.” In 2013, Kout Food Group expanded its portfolio in the UK with the acquisitions of Little Chef Group and South West Coffee. The Kout Food Group’s current portfolio of brands in the UK employ nearly 3,000 people across more than 200 stores. The acquisition of Little Chef in 2013 included 71 Little Chef and 26 Burger King restaurants at 76 sites across the UK. Since the acquisition, Kout Food Group has re-opened 12 more Burger King restaurants within the Little Chef portfolio. The company stated: “2014 was a year of consolidation in this iconic business and with that stability firmly re-established, Kout Food Group has exciting plans to revitalise the brand. Little Chef will benefit from a process of brand renewal in keeping with current trends, supported by traditional British values and maximising the rich heritage of the brand.” Cha Cha Moon, the brand that was launched with consultancy from Wagamama founder Alan Yau, still operates from a single site off Carnaby Street in London, producing turnover of £2,086,000 in its most recent year, down by £170,000 on the previous year and an operating loss of £497,000, an increase of £277,000 on the previous year.
Survey finds London’ most expensive pint costing £7.50: A survey by The Tab has found London’s most expensive pint costs £7.50 – the capital’s average cost for a pint is now £3.79. The £7.50 pint can be found at Barworks’ Singer Tavern in Shoreditch – it’s a pint of a Gotlands Bryggeri, a blueberry-flavoured IPA with 6.8% ABV. Barworks operations manager Mike Harrington said: “We are a craft beer pub – people come to our establishment to get beers they wouldn’t be able to get anywhere else. This was made at a small brewery in Sweden and the cost of production for them to make a beer like that and export it is vastly higher than a normal beer. We actually make a lot less money on that than on most of our usual London standard beers.” The cheapest London pint was found at Sam Smith’s Anchor Tap, near Tower Bridge, costing £2.56.
Caffe Nero eyes fifth US opening: Caffe Nero is planning a fifth location in Boston, Massachusetts, this time in the Fort Point area. Jay Gentile, director of US operations for Caffe Nero, said the company was in the early stages of looking into opening a new store at 368 Congress Street in Fort Point. He said he anticipated a long process working with the City of Boston, however, as many of the buildings in that area are historic locations. “When we work on older buildings anywhere, we try to bring them into what they once were,” he said. “It’s going to be quite a while.” The company is headquartered on Congress Street, Gentile said, so they would like to secure a location for a store nearby. “All of our growth has always been organic and opportunistic,” he said. Caffe Nero has four Boston locations – Downtown Crossing, Longwood Center, the South End, and Jamaica Plain. Accounts for the stand-alone US venture indicate that Caffe Nero had invested £748,877 in the US expansion drive as of May 2014.
McDonald’s sales surge to record high after reporting 4% global like-for-like growth: McDonald’s shares surged 8.1% last Thursday – its their biggest daily increase in seven years – to $110.87, the highest close on record, after reporting global like-for-likes rose 4%. The shares were the best performer on Thursday in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, adding $7.9 billion to McDonald’s market value and leaving them up about 18% for 2015. In his nearly eight months at the helm, chief executive Steve Easterbrook has announced a stream of initiatives – from curbing antibiotics use in its chicken supply to creating a new global corporate structure – to refresh McDonald’s image and end a sales slump that started three years ago. Easterbrook said he is “very encouraged” by the initial results from the introduction of all-day breakfast, and predicted same-store sales would rise again this quarter across regions. Still, he cautioned that a true turnaround will require sustained growth. “We’ve so far delivered one quarter,” he said.
Nando’s adds more steak to the menu, plus debuts chicken drumsticks: Nando’s has added more steak to its menu. Customers will be able to order a fillet steak and chargrilled vegetables in either a pitta bread or a wrap. The two new steak items join a re-formulated beef steak, marinated in house peri-peri sauce and flame-grilled, served in a prego roll. Chicken drumsticks have also been added as either a side or main portion. Meanwhile, a fan-site dedicated to Nando’s has rated the nation’s branches from best to worst. The site encourages visitors to leave reviews which score each site on the friendliness of staff, speed of service, quality of food, decoration and cleanliness. Of the 84 branches of Nando’s in London, the top-rated was an outlet in Wembley Designer Outlet, which scored an average of 4.11 out of 5. In second place is the Mile End branch with a score of 4.06, and in third place is a south London branch in the arches next to Southwark station with a score of 4.05.
Loungers co-founder Alex Reilley opens cinema site in his home town: Cafe bar brand Loungers has opened a cinema site in Clevedon – the home co-founder Alex Reilley. Teatro Lounge has opened at the Curzon Cinema, creating 25 jobs. Loungers has invested £600,000 transforming old offices and storage space at the rear of the cinema. Reilley told South West Business: “As a Clevedon resident, I’m delighted to be opening Teatro Lounge in my home town. There’s already a thriving and vibrant community and we’re really looking forward to playing our part in the foodie scene here. We do very well from the Impero Lounge in Portishead, and there have been lots of people bending my ear about why there wasn’t one in Clevedon.” Loungers will rent the space from the Curzon, providing the community-run cinema with an extra revenue stream. With its entrance on Great Western Road, the conversion includes an extension to the first floor section of the mews, adding an indoor dining area and a roof terrace. The site seats 150 with additional seating on the roof terrace.
Bowmark and TPG line up to buy Ed’s Easy Diner: The Sunday Times has reported private equity firms Bowmark, which sold Las Iguana to Casual Dining Group, and Prezzo owner TPG Capital, are bidding to buy Ed’s Easy Diner. The company is expected to change hands for more than £100m – it is expected to have Ebitda of circa £10m this year having reported Ebitda of £5.8m last year. Stephen Greene acquired the business for £1.7m in 2009 from the family trust of Ed’s late founder Barry Margolis.
Chef Richard Corrigan reports losses after launch of new venture: Chef Richard Corrigan, whose company, Richard Corrigan Restaurant Holdings, operates three restaurants in London, has reported losses in the year to 31 December 2014 after the launch of new venture. Turnover rose 3.7% to £9,678,722 thanks partly to the launch of a new trading subsidiary Virginia Park Lodge, a hotel and wedding venue in County Cavan, Ireland, which contributed turnover of £169,500. The group generated a loss of £95,006 (2013: £696,316 profit), of which the new venture contributed pre-tax loss of £639,366 largely due to the set-up costs. Corrigan is chef-patron of Corrigan’s Mayfair, Bentley’s Oyster Bar and Grill, near Piccadilly, and Bentley’s Sea Grill in Harrods. He has his own horticultural operation, with a team of six gardeners in Ireland who supply his restaurants. Corrigan bought the 110-acre Virginia Park Lodge, in County Cavan in the summer of 2013.
Gusto submits plans to open new Newcastle bar: Gusto has submitted plans to convert the 9Bar Coffee site in the Theatre Royal building on Newcastle’s Grey Street into a new late night venue. The coffee bar closed in January and Gusto wants to convert it into Nitehawks, which would sit alongside Dat Bar, also within the Theatre Royal. The application details intentions to increase the seating in the old 9Bar premises, by making a basement snug area for 12 seated customers and to increase the terminal hour in Dat Bar and Nitehawks from 2am to 3am.
Apprentice candidate to open Jamaican restaurant in Brixton: Apprentice candidate April Jackson is opening a boutique and restaurant, Three Little Birds, in Brixton on 29 October. Jackson, who has a food blog called The Yummy Truth, said: “I wanted to create an authentic Jamaican environment which invited people in and stayed to true to the Caribbean island I know. Jamaica has far more to offer than sunshine and rum, the country has played a significant part in influencing culture globally. Three Little Birds is my celebration of all that is wondrous about Jamaica – think romantic beach villa in Negril infused with a Kingston injection, with an international twist to reflect my transatlantic influences.” The restaurant will serve Jamaican cuisine plates, cocktails and an array of the island’s condiments and coffee.
Enterprise Inns’ managed division joins ALMR: The managed division of Enterprise Inns, Bermondsey Inns, overseen by commercial director Paul Harbottle, has joined the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers. Enterprise Inns has a target of converting between 750 and 800 of is tenanted pubs to managed in the next few years – Bermondsey Inns currently operates 22 sites across England and Wales.
Northern Guitars plans Guitar Café concept: Music shop owner Northern Guitars is planning to open a new live music concept called Guitar Café on Leeds Call Lane, complete with a guitar shop, guitar-themed cafe and bar area and a stage. The idea is to give local musicians a place to perform and socialise with other like-minded music fans. Northern Guitars hopes to adapt its shop on Call Lane for the project. Owner Dave Baguley said: “This would be a unique type of venue. We aim to be a cafe/bar/guitar shop run by musicians for musicians, with good food and craft beers in a relaxed atmosphere – not for the party crowd.” There are plans for a small food menu, as well as coffee, cakes and craft beer. Baguley added: “Over the years many great bands have formed from meetings in cafes and bars. We have done our market research, spoken with our customers, local promoters, studios and other people in the music business who all think it’s a unique idea.”
Freeholds of two pubs let to Spirit sell for more than guide price at auction: The freehold of The Farmer’s Arms in Northenden, Greater Manchester has sold for £2.03m at an auction organised by Allsop (a yield of 9.89%). The guide price was £1.7m to £1.9m. The site is held on a lease by Spirit that expires in 2034 and has a current reserved rent per annum of £200,847 with annual 2.5% uplifts. The freehold of the Deers Leap in Kings Lynn, Norfolk, which is also let to Spirit, sold for £775,000 (a yield of 8.52%) – the guide was £690,000. Spirit holds a lease that runs until 2028 and pays £66,000 per annum in rent. Meanwhile, a freehold let to Caffe Nero in Beverley town centre sold at the auction for £580,000 – Caffe Nero pays rent of £32,500 per annum on a new five-year lease, producing a yield for the buyer of 5.5%.
Chapel Down makes strong start in crowdfunded bid to build brewery: Chapel Down’s beer and cider business, Curious Drinks, has made a strong start in 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. By yesterday morning, four days after launch, a total of £358,400 had been pledged, which is circa 36% of the target – Chapel Down is offering 5.88% of the equity in the business, producing a pre-money valuation of £16m. Demand for Chapel Down’s beer and cider continues to increase with sales growing at around 40% per annum.
St Austell Brewery installs electric car charging points at two pubs: St Austell Brewery has installed electric car charging points at two of its pubs to help meet increasing demand. The new chargers at the Holmbush Inn, St Austell and The County Arms in Truro supply superfast 43/50 kW (AC/DC) ‘rapid charge’ which can be paid for using Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) genie cards or via an app. Adam Luck, estate director at St Austell Brewery, said: “Pubs are at the heart of the community, both socially and geographically. There are many of our pubs which are well placed to provide this service. The brewery is delighted to install the first two electric vehicle charging points to customers and we’re looking to extended this further across our estate in the future.” In the last three years there has been a significant increase in the number of electric cars being used in the UK, with about 37,000 now thought to be in use and more than 9,000 places where they can be charged.
Pickles Pubs to run Timothy Taylor site: Pickles Pubs, the West Yorkshire multi-site operator led by former Bradford & Bingley executive Nick Pickles, has acquired the lease of a hotel recently bought by Keighley brewery Timothy Taylor. Pickles Pubs will operate the Devonshire Hotel in Grassington, which is currently undergoing a major refurbishment ahead of a 1 December relaunch. The company already runs six pubs across the Aire and Wharfe valleys and provides the bar and catering at Keighley Golf Club. Pickles told the Bradford Telegraph and Argus: “This is a fantastic opportunity for us to team-up with a reputable brewer in an excellent property full of history, right in the centre of the popular village square of Grassington.” A Timothy Taylor spokesman added: “We are delighted to have an experienced tenant with a proven track record of operating great pubs on board.” Timothy Taylor purchased the property in September to join its 16-strong tenanted division.
BrewDog updates on craft distillery plan: BrewDog has updated on its plan to build a craft distillery at its Ellon headquarters. The company stated: “First discussed in June, our spirits programme is very much on track, and our bespoke hand-made stills will be arriving on site in February! From day one our mission will be to create exceptional spirits and set a benchmark within the industry. One of the keys to this will be versatility; the still house design is agile and flexible enough to allow us to play on any style of spirit from across the world. The other fundamental constant will be quality – with some exceptional distillates on the market at the moment we are dedicated to releasing only the best and most complex of spirits. With that in mind, our head of distillation, Steven Kersley is already conducting trials on gin botanicals, and the design of our column still will allow us to become one of the very few independent distilleries in the UK who make their own vodka. It will (literally) take our vodka through the roof – the eight metre high still has required us to blast a hole in the top of our warehouse to accommodate it!”
Cambridge-based multi-site operators acquire new site in city: Cambridge-based multi-site operators Jethro and Terri Scotcher-Littlechild have acquired their latest pub in the city – The Royal Standard. The couple have taken a free-of-tie lease on the Mill Road site having been saved as a pub by Beechwood Estates, which has made a “substantial investment” in the building. Previously an Indo Thai restaurant and formerly a charity shop, the property is serving beer again after almost ten years. The Scotcher-Littlechilds operate a number of pubs in Cambridge and also own The Cambridge Blue. Agent Everard Cole undertook the letting on behalf of the landlord.
PizzaExpress works with Elmwood on Reys brand identity: PizzaExpress hired global brand design consultancy Elmwood to create the brand identity for its new rotisserie chicken brand Reys, The Drum magazine has reported. Reys is short for the French word for fox ‘Reynard’. Elmwood was asked to develop the name and brand identity and push this across a wide spectrum of touch points including the website, menus and signage. The creative was founded on the insight that Britons eat their way through 25m chickens every week and also another creature’s love for the meat – the fox.
Catering specialists launch new restaurant concept Terrazo at outlet shopping centre: Events catering specialists Karen and Phil Rhodes have launched new restaurant concept, Terrazzo, offering Mediterranean food at Kendal’s K Village outlet shopping centre, which was bought out of administration earlier this year. “We expected several months of hard graft before the restaurant became viable, but it has been an immediate success, attracting office workers, mums with their children and diners all day long,” said Karen Rhodes. “We had been in talks for a couple of years with the administrators, but when Lou Kendal bought the complex, things moved really fast. I thought we would make a go of it, but we never expected to be so busy. Everyone has been really supportive, with lots of locals saying it is just what this end of town needed.” The food features shared boards of Greek, Italian, Spanish and Lakeland food, with customers able to mix and match to make up their own menus. The Lakeland platter of black pudding, scotch eggs, Holker game pie, Morecambe Bay shrimps and Cumberland sausage has proved particularly popular. Karen Rhodes added: “Everything is locally sourced from fell bred lamb and beef, smoked products from Cartmel valley smoke house, game from the Holker estate and Flookburgh shrimps.”
Registration still open for UK’s first National Pub Quiz Day:
Pubs and bars are still being invited to take part in the UK’s first National Pub Quiz Day now taking place on Tuesday, 1 December. The event, originally scheduled for Tuesday, 17 November, will raise money for the Team Margot Foundation, the stem cell donor registration charity. It is being organised by mobile ordering app Orderella, quiz event specialists MyBigIQ and integrated digital media communications company D-Media. The same general knowledge quiz will be played simultaneously and in real time in each of the 100 venues taking part. It features nine rounds with scores added and leader boards shared nationwide. The faster a team answers, the more points it gets and at the end of the night the National Pub Quiz winning team and venue will be crowned. Applications are open to all pubs and bars across the UK regardless of whether they are part of a chain or independent with 100 venues being picked from the applicants. Successful applications will receive the installation from Orderella and MyBigIQ for the event free of charge. To enter, email firstname.lastname@example.org
for a sign up form. Each team pays a £5 registration fee, which goes to the Team Margot Foundation.
Kained Holdings acquires Glasgow pub made famous by Trainspotting movie: Glasgow-based operator Kained Holdings has acquired a new site in the city – a pub made famous by a violent riot scene in the film Trainspotting. The company has transformed the Crosslands pub – which featured in the movie where Francis Begbie, played by Robert Carlyle, launched a pint glass from a balcony and caused a brawl – into a “hipster joint”. The pub has undergone a £40,000 facelift and opened with a German-themed menu. It now also offers a wine list and cocktails as well as beers. For the next three months, the pub has been renamed “So, What Comes Next?” while the company completes its revamp of the building, which has now been covered with rustic wooden panels on the outside and a huge black question mark logo. Marketing manager James Kemp told the Daily Record: “The venue will continually develop and come late January the place will be complete. Once finished, look out for ‘The Begbie’ on the final drinks list, and as a nod to the old girl’s roots we’ve kept the original Crosslands Sign and hung it on the mezzanine.” Kained Holdings runs a number of bars across Glasgow, including Lebowskis, The Craft Pig and Porter & Rye.
Leamington Spa bar to open Prohibition-themed smokehouse: A bar in Leamington Spa is to expand its offering with the creation of a new Prohibition-themed smokehouse restaurant. Altoria, located at 45 Warwick Street, will open Bourbon Smokehouse at its ground floor next month. The venue will offer food, whiskey and liquor, as well as jazz and blues music. “This is something really different for the Leamington market – we’re aiming to bring great food, fine whiskeys, and live music to the town centre, offering diners an alternative to what’s already out there,” said Matthew Dellapia, who has been appointed general manager of Bourbon Smokehouse. “Better than that, we’re in an established location with our sister venue, Altoria, still operating a late night bar above us.”
Absolute Taste launches in-flight app for executive aviation companies: Events and catering company Absolute Taste has launched an in-flight app for executive aviation companies. Absolute Taste has developed the app to allow customers and their crews to have made-to-order food delivered to their plane. Users can browse the menus and photo gallery, make their selection and pay for the order online. Customers also have the option to add individual menu preferences and compile a list of favourite dishes to make the ordering process even easier on their next trip. Managing director Lyndy Redding said: “Absolute Taste Inflight was born following the demand from our clients wanting our food on their planes and therefore we have spent a huge amount of time working with our chefs to ensure each dish and menu works perfectly on board. With the launch of our new app, we want to make the inflight dining experience even more comfortable and accessible for our customers.”
Birmingham-based fine dining pop-up restaurant Nomad to open permanent site: Birmingham-based fine dining pop-up restaurant Nomad will open a permanent site on Friday, 13 November. Nomad, founded by chef Alex Clarridge, has found temporary homes in a number of locations in the city but will now have a fixed location. The restaurant will be moving in to the space previously occupied by Urban Coffee Company at 1 Dudley Street and be a partner at Birmingham Open Media (BOM). Clarridge told the Birmingham Mail: “We’re thrilled to be joining a broader creative community, and hope it will make us better, more considered cooks. We wanted a social, lively space and BOM, I am quite sure, will suit us.” Hannah Wolsey, managing director of Urban Coffee, which also has outlets in Church Street and in the Jewellery Quarter, added: “We had an offer on the table that we couldn’t refuse and we’re so excited to see the guys from Nomad who we’ve been working with at Church Street going forward with a permanent venture.” Nomad use British food and ingredients sourced from its own allotments and a network of foragers.
The future of a Nottingham hotel has been secured after being acquired by new owners: The 73 bedroom Westminster Hotel on Mansfield Road has been bought by Al Malik, owner of Remarkable Hotels. The deal was brokered by Bruton Knowles associate Sam Spencer, who advised its former owner Anil Khanna when he bought the venue in 2002. Spencer said: “The Westminster is a well-loved, historic hotel in Nottingham situated just over a mile from the city centre. It has served visitors to the city with affordable but high quality accommodation for many years and I am delighted that Bruton Knowles has helped to secure the hotel’s future with this sale to Mr Malik.” The Westminster is a Best Western branded three-star hotel with a bar, restaurant, conference and function facilities. It will retain its Best Western brand under new ownership. Malik added: “We are pleased to be taking the helm at the Westminster Hotel, our second property in Nottingham.”
Living Ventures hires Innov8: Restaurant and bar group Living Ventures has appointed Wirral-based health and safety business Innov8 to support a series of new projects including the creation of a flagship £2m Australasia venue in Liverpool’s iconic Cunard building. Innov8 has secured the contract to provide principal designer support on the development of several new restaurants and bars across the UK. The business, which has secured the Living Ventures contract jointly with architectural practice Brock Carmichael, will be providing design coordination and principal designer services, working with designers and principal contractors through the pre-construction phase to ensure health and safety compliance. Operations director Jeremy Meredith said: “Living Ventures see the value of better planned and coordinated projects. Not only does this give them a more robust idea of cost and programme surety, it also enables them to manage their associated recruitment campaigns with more precision. Making the process as efficient as possible is very much in their interests. Many of the projects Innov8 will be working on are still in the planning phase. We are working on a Botanist bar in Farnham, a restaurant in the James Brindley building in Birmingham and a Grand Pacific in Manchester. The big one will be the Australasia restaurant in the listed Cunard building though, which has been designed to cater for up to 550 covers. The development will take up almost half of the ground floor of the building and a section of the first floor too. It is still very much in the planning phase but it is hoped that work will be able to start in April 2016 ahead of a completion date in the summer.”
Speaker programme for Propel Multi Club Conference: 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. 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.