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Mon 9th Nov 2015 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Enterprise Inns – 50 multi-site operators interested in partnering us, rapid learnings in building 800-strong managed estate: Enterprise Inns has reported that it has received around 50 expressions of interest from multi-site operators keen to partner it in creating stand-alone joint venture companies as part of its “managed expert” programme. The scheme aims to open between 15 and 25 managed pubs a year, part of a much bigger plan to open between 150 and 200 managed pubs a year for four years, with a proposed opening plan of 35 to 50 directly-managed Bermondsey Pub Company sites and 100 to 125 Craft Union pubs. Commercial director Paul Harbottle told the Propel Multi Club Conference the company is capturing many learnings as it builds its proposed 800-strong managed business. Of the ‘managed expert’ scheme, pioneered with Geronimo Inns founder Rupert Clevely in a joint venture called Hippo Inns, he said: “We have about 50 interested parties but at the moment we’ll engage with just a second managed expert in the next 12 months. We want to take this slowly and do it properly rather than rush in and create 101 managed experts around the country and get it wrong. But managed experts are great for us because they bring the skillset, experience and knowledge of running great pubs.” Of the broader progress and learnings so far in developing a managed estate, he told the conference: “This project has been on the go for 15 months, and has been solidified and ramped up in the last six months. Time selecting the right pub is time saved in trying to correct a wrong decision. It was very easy, in the early stages, to say, ‘Great estate here’. Actually, standing back and using the tools at my fingertips to select the right pub is key – defining your retail offer upfront, defining the demand and then selecting the pub. Don’t do it the other way around – don’t find a pub and then work out what you want to do with it is a key learning.” Outlining other learnings, he added: “The consumer needs to see a change to be able to recognise you have changed it. Get the community involved in making sure it is a success – recruit local ambassadors. If you can get the head of the local PTA of the local school, or the WI or the parish council and make them feel they’re involved in the decisions you make with the local pub, it’s amazing how much responsibility they take in making sure your pub is a success. Don’t try to take a pub from each corner of the country – if you do that and try to resource it, you end with a regional manager with just one pub and that doesn’t work. People are absolutely key. The most important person is the pub manager, the reason for success. The support roles are also important – they need to be in place before the openings. Great publicans, however, don’t make great pub managers – and vice-versa. We’ve been very, very fortunate in that we’ve started this process and managed to get some great people who have bought the story and the vision – the likes of Steve Cash, Karen Baskett and Steve de Polo from Mitchells & Butlers who have come and joined us and been fantastic for the growth of this. Other additions to this team have included Paul Hine, head of purchasing at JD Wetherspoon, and head of purchasing at Charles Wells, Miles Selby. I think that, more than anything else, will be the reason this will be extremely successful.”

Industry News:

Daily Telegraph – YO! Sushi sold for circa £80m: YO! Sushi is to be sold for circa £80m to Mayfair Equity Partners, The Daily Telegraph has reported. The newspaper has reported that a deal was clinched over the weekend to buy the business, which is chaired by Robin Rowland and led by Vanessa Hall. YO! Sushi was founded in 1997 and now has more than 70 restaurant including three sites opened this year in the US. YO! Sushi UK reported turnover rose to £75,813,083 in the year ending 30 November 2014 compared to £71,046,785 in the previous year. In Companies House documents, it reported pre-tax profit fell to £3,847,758 from £4,693,872 the year before. Underlying like-for-like sales grew 3.8% for the year with Ebitda of £10,061,000, an increase of 7.8%.

Peter Hansen – multiple operators will need to forge a closer relationship with tenanted pub companies in the wake of MRO:Sapient Corporate Finance founder Peter Hansen has advised multiple operators to forge closer relationships with the senior management of their tenanted pub company landlords in the wake of the Market Rent Option, which means tenanted pub companies are moving to grant only short term agreements, and in most cases five years. He forecast the assignment value of tied leases will diminish as buyers recognise that tenanted pub companies are likely to take pubs back under direct management rather than risk reduced income when a tenant triggers a move to an open market rent. It will also become more difficult to finance leases with banks as leases near their end, he warned. Hansen suggested that operators with existing longer leases negotiate with their landlords at a senior level to create security of tenure. A number of Enterprise Inns’ tenants, such as Laine Pub Company, have converted existing tied leases to longer commercial leases, paying more rent but extending the length of their leases and free-of-tie terms. Hansen, whose company has undertaken 42 sector transactions worth £2.7bn since 2009, told the Propel Multi Club Conference: “The long-term lease market and the assignment market are going to reduce radically in size. There were over 10,000 tied leases ten years ago and in a few years that will be reduced to 2,000 to 3,000. Sadly, the tied lease has created so much opportunity for entrepreneurs such as Rupert Clevely (Geronimo Inns) and Nick Pring and Malcolm Heap (Realpubs) but not any longer. We’re going to see the extinction of the tied lease, even for those who want one and like the tie. There are free-of-tie leases and free-of-tie turnover leases (now available) and several people have already taken advantage of that including Laine, Duck & Rice and Brasserie Blanc. There is the opportunity to go to your landlord and say, ‘I’ve got a tied lease, I want to go free-of-tie, I’ve still got ten years left on my lease, let’s sit down and talk about it to try and come up with an agreement so you get the security of tenure that you want and you get a free-of-tie lease’. You’re going to have a higher rent but it should be an amicable discussion. In the long term, you want a relationship with your pub company where you get the ability to take on more pubs and grow your business and you’re not going to be able to do that if you just elect to go free-of-tie. Talk to your landlord at the highest level possible. Work with your pub company – you’ll find it easier to work with them if you build a relationship of trust.”

Craft Beer Rising rebrands ahead of fourth event in February, includes dedicated cider area for first time: Craft Beer Rising, the UK’s biggest craft beer festival, has rebranded ahead its fourth event in February. The re-named CBR London 2016 will be taking over the entire Old Truman Brewery in Brick Lane, London, and for the first time includes a dedicated cider area called “Lost In Cyder Space”. It has increased capacity for both exhibitors and consumers to include 150 domestic and foreign brewers and producers. The event, which takes place on 26 and 27 February, will once again be part of London Beer Week, which runs from 22 to 28 February. Director and founder of CBR London 2016 Daniel Rowntree said: “CBR has become the highlight of the industry’s beer trade calendar particularly for those interested in discovering new breweries, new product launches, and sharing industry information and contacts.” Last year, over 1,300 industry people attended the event’s trade day. CBR London 2016 will continue to grow in capacity for its trade day, although the event will be split over two sessions: invite only first, followed by general application for which tickets are now available. For more information visit: www.craftbeerrising.co.uk

Company News:

Wellington Pub Company reports average rental uplift of 11.9% at review: Wellington Pub Company, the UK’s largest free-of-tie pub estate with 777 pubs, has reported an average uplift of 11.9% in rent at review. In a report to bondholders covering the quarter to 30 September 2015, the company stated: “The disposal strategy remains to sell bottom end and/or problem properties and those that have a higher alternative use value. 661 pubs (85% of the estate) are let on a long lease. Ten properties were re-let on a long lease during the quarter and there were five lease forfeitures. The estate is producing an annual income of £29.1 million, which is an 8.9% increase from last year. The average level of rental uplift achieved at review in the year was 11.9%. The company retained circa £18 million of cash on deposit. The annualised Ebitda (adjusted for property profits) for the 12 months to the end of September 2015 was £21.5 million.”

Remarkable Restaurants sells Sutton Arms leasehold to Fuller’s: Remarkable Restaurants, the privately owned 15-strong London pub company led by Elton Mouna, has sold the leasehold interest of the Sutton Arms, Carthusian Street, London EC1 to Fuller’s. Mouna said: “After a strategic review of the Remarkable estate we concluded the Sutton did not fit our future plans. Who better to purchase it than City of London pub specialists and my former colleagues, the mighty Fuller, Smith and Turner.” The sale exchanged on Friday evening.

Arc Inspirations acquires Loch Fyne site in Leeds to create £1.4m Banyan opening: Arc Inspirations, the Yorkshire-based bar and restaurant operator, has acquired the Loch Fyne site in Leeds City Square, where it will open another Banyan Bar and Kitchen. Chief executive Martin Wolstencroft said: “It’s a beautiful building in an excellent central location, with a superb south facing terrace of 120 covers. We will be investing £1.4 million to transform the site into our Banyan brand creating 60 new jobs in the city. This will be our fourth Banyan – following on from the extremely successful new opening in Exchange Square in Manchester – complementing our previous openings in Harrogate and York. There was a significant amount of interest to acquire this site and I am hugely excited about the increased choice and exceptional customer service it shall bring to the eating and drinking landscape within Leeds.”

Private equity firms battle to buy Gaucho: Private equity firms BC Partners, which owns Cote, and Equistone, the buy-out firm previously owned by Barclays, are leading the race to buy restaurant business Gaucho for circa £100m, The Sunday Times has reported. Gaucho is majority-owned by Dutch businessman Zeev Godik, who acquired the business after it abandoned plans to list on London’s junior market, AIM. Gaucho Holdings reported that Ebitda before pre-opening costs rose to £11m in the year to 31 December 2014, up from £9.9m the year before. Company sales rose 11% to circa £61m, up from £55.5m the year before. Finance director Gary Mann said both the sales and Ebitda growth was driven primarily by the expansion of CAU UK with Gaucho continuing to trade in line with expectations. Key activity in 2015 is the continued roll-out of the CAU brand with eight sites opening in the UK (Wilmslow, St Katharine Docks, Reading, Liverpool, Didsbury, Glasgow, Bath and Manchester Media City), taking it to 17 CAU sites by the end of the year.

Burger brand Hubbox to open fifth site this week: Award-winning Cornish burger brand Hubbox will open its fifth site this week, this time located in Plymouth. The brand, which started in St Ives, has created 21 jobs at its new Plymouth branch, located on Old Town Street just outside Drakes Circus Shopping Centre. The new location was secured earlier this year by Hubbox, which have wanted to expand the chain to Plymouth for some time – it currently operate restaurants in St Ives, Exeter, Truro and Pentewan Sands, St Austell. Richard Boon, managing director and co-founder of Hubbox, said: “We have wanted to move to Plymouth for a long time, it’s such a vibrant city with a huge amount going on, we really want to be a part of that scene. The new restaurant has created jobs for the local area and we will continue to use our locally sourced ingredients for all our food.” Hubbox was recently named one of the top 100 eateries in the country by a leading national food magazine.

New owners of Ireland’s largest Mexican brand, Boojum, to open evolved site: Brothers David and Andrew Maxwell, who acquired the five-strong Boojum Mexican brand in the summer, are to open an evolved, larger version of the concept. The launch of a new larger Boojum burrito bar in south Belfast is the first of several the company intends to roll out as part of its expansion. The Maxwells are set to move an existing Botanic Avenue site a few doors up, to the site of the former am:pm restaurant. It’s the first expansion the brand has undergone since the business was sold in July. David Maxwell told the Belfast Telegraph the new outlet, which is twice the size of its existing Botanic Avenue site, will be “Boojum 2.0”. “The existing store is about 1,200 square foot and the new premises is about twice that size,” he said. “It can seat 76 people. The main thing is, there’s no more queuing outside in the rain.” The Mexican brand was opened by former owner John Blisard, a native of Philadelphia, who had been living in Belfast since 2006. His Boojum outlet in Botanic Avenue started operating in 2007.

Paul Gilchrist steps down at Innventure: Paul Gilchrist is to step down as operations director at Innventure, the award-winning gastro-pub operator founded by Chris Gerard. Gilchrist has worked at Innventure for eight months and is understood to be leaving to explore new opportunities. He previously worked at Mitchells & Butlers for six years where he oversaw brasserie brand Browns for a while and also worked on the company’s fledgling Asian food concept Tuk Cho, a project that has now been scrapped by the company.

AG&G markets ‘most exciting bar/restaurant opportunity in Notting Hill in years’: Agent AG&G is marketing what it describes as ‘the most exciting bar/restaurant opportunity to come onto the market in Notting Hill for several years’. Anthony Alder, of AG&G, told Propel: “It provides almost 6,000 square foot of space over four floors and occupies a fabulous building and fronts one of the most famous street markets in the world. It was formerly home of the Colville. The lease came to an end a month or so ago. Originally, it was proposed to only grant a new three-year lease. However, the decision has been taken to grant a new 20-year lease. Very little of this calibre ever comes onto the market in Notting Hill. We are expecting some strong interest from both bar and restaurant operators. Rental offers in excess of £200,000 per annum are being sought for a new 20-year lease. It is being let with the benefit of all the existing fitting out works and with a 1am licence at first and second floor.”

Pub People Company reports return to pre-tax profit, removes underperforming sites from portfolio: East Midlands-based Pub People Company has made a return to pre-tax profit for the year ended 31 March 2015, as it removed underperforming sites from its portfolio. The company, headed by Kevin Sammons, reported a pre-tax profit of £259,000, compared to a loss of £63,000 the previous year, according to accounts filed with Companies House. Turnover was up at £13,698,000, compared to £12,928,000 the year before. The company stated: “Underperforming pubs are under constant management attention with exit strategies being actioned for those where, despite changes in operating processes and stringent cost control, they fail to produce the required return. The group has concentrated on removing from its portfolio these underperforming businesses. This has been achieved by renegotiation of the existing terms or exiting at the expiry of the contractual term. Turnover has increased due to an increase in the level of trade across the portfolio of pubs. Total gross profit margin is higher than the prior year by 0 6%. Total administrative expenses as a percentage of sales were lower than the prior year by 2.4%. The group’s business model is constantly developing, however the material direction of the business has not changed. The investment into the infrastructure of the individual pub businesses will continue to produce stable business for the future. The group continues to actively develop its food offers to utilise this growth market.”

The Chinese Buffet to open 11th site in Huddersfield this month: Bolton-based The Chinese Buffet is to open its 11th site in Huddersfield at the end of the month. The company, founded by Peter Wu and Paolo Hu in 2006, is investing £750,000 converting the former Peter’s department store in King Street into a 250-seater restaurant, creating up to 50 jobs. The restaurant will have a fully open kitchen, two bars and a balcony dining area for the summer. Diners can sit in booths with bench-style seating and there will also be a separate function room with a capacity of 80-100 people with a private bar, karaoke and business conference facilities. The company will also be launching a new menu, which will be rolled out from the Huddersfield site and also plans to review its wine list. Hu told the Huddersfield Examiner: “We want to create an energy and a buzz and we expect to be really busy serving 3,000 to 4,000 customers a week. Chinese restaurants used to be about who could be the cheapest. They were canteen-like and the service was poor. We’ve changed all that and while we still offer good value for money, the design is important and our service is a la carte.”

Shake Shack reports like-for-likes up 17.1%: Shake Shack has reported its like-for-like sales rose 17.1% in the third quarter ended 30 September, continuing the brand’s strong sales showing following its January initial public offering. Total revenue increased 67.4% in the quarter to $53.3 million from $30.2 million due to like-for-like sales growth and new restaurant openings, including four in the quarter and 12 for the year. “The third quarter marked another strong quarter in terms of like-for-like growth, as we continued to execute on our strategic plan and drive engagement with our guests,” said chief executive Randy Garutti. He reported the company expects to open at least 14 new locations next year. “We remain well-positioned for continued success as we capitalise on our unique development opportunities.”

BrewDog to open second site in Finland on Thursday: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog will launch its second site in Finland on Thursday (12 November). The company, which has a bar in Helsinki, is opening the new venue in the city of Turku on the south west side of the country. BrewDog Turku is located in a former rock bar at Eerikinkatu 6B, 20100. The company stated: “The bar will be pouring from 18 taps, specialising in the freshest BrewDog releases you can get your hands on anywhere. Alongside this is a range of cutting edge Nordic beers and others from invited breweries further afield. BrewDog Turku will also be serving a range of food for those looking to pair with what they are drinking. The bar also features a specially constructed tasting room that used to be the actual stage of the rock bar. As you would expect, we have decked the bar out in true BrewDog style – alongside furniture handmade especially for us we have a super-cool mural on the walls that depicts the long and storied history of Finland’s oldest city. We love the people of this passionate, beer-crazy country – so we are really excited to be adding another bar there for the people of Finland.”

JD Wetherspoon pub plan in Quaker town is rejected: JD Wetherspoon’s plan to convert an original Welwyn Garden City (population: 43,252) house into a pub have been turned down by councillors. Heritage campaigners, councillors and residents had united to oppose the planning application submitted by the company for 22 Parkway, a three-storey 1920s house that once housed the Maynard Gallery. Claude Hitching of Asquith House, a nearby block of retirement flats, told the local newspaper: “Ebenezer Howard and his colleagues who designed and developed our lovely town were all devout Quakers who believed in total abstinence from alcohol, and one can imagine them spinning in their graves if they could hear of this current preposterous proposal. It is ridiculous. We will be kept awake late at night.” The building was most recently used for mental health services, but is currently boarded up.

Northamptonshire-based gourmet burger concept Mumu to start expanding with second site: Northamptonshire-based gourmet burger restaurant concept Mumu is to start expanding by opening its second site in the county next month. Mumu, which launched in Kettering last October, is opening the new venue in Northampton in Giles Street on the site of the Seafood Cafe, which closed in August. As well as burgers, it serves pizzas, hot dogs and milkshakes. Specials include peanut butter and jam burgers packed with crisps. Co-owner Gareth Di Fante told the Northampton Chronicle & Echo: “We want people to be able to have a meal then stay around and have a few cocktails. The music will be turned up a touch louder than most restaurants so we don’t mind if people make a bit more noise if they’re having fun.” The new branch is set to open on Friday, 4 December.

SABMiller set to sell Miller Coors stake to seal AB InBev beer deal: SABMiller is set to sell its US business for circa £6.6bn this week when it finally agrees terms with AB InBev over a takeover. The London-based brewer is selling its 58% stake in Miller Coors to joint venture partner Molson Coors. The sale is a key step in winning competition approval for AB InBev’s £70bn takeover of SABMiller.

Ilkley Brewery introduces National Living Wage, begins investment for expansion: Ilkley Brewery, which saw investment from the Half Full Brewing Company in July, has adopted the National Living Wage. The Living Wage commitment will see everyone working at Ilkley Brewery, regardless of whether they are permanent employees or third-party contractors, receive a minimum hourly wage of £7.85 – significantly higher than the National Minimum Wage of £6.50. The commitment will continue into 2016 with a rise to £8.25. Luke Raven, co-director at Ilkley Brewery, said: “We are proud to be raising our voice amongst a growing number of businesses across the UK who support their staff by paying the Living Wage. Our beer is made by people, by hand, and we rely on their passion and commitment. By recognising their hard work in this way, we hope to be able to foster a greater sense of shared ownership in the long term project here at Ilkley Brewery.” Ilkley Brewery has also committed to a programme of job creation, with a 60% increase in headcount by the end of 2015. As part of creating new positions, the brewery is embarking on a training scheme to enable existing employees to expand their knowledge, qualification and industry experience. The first person to benefit from this is Adam Scroggins, who is progressing from a brewery operative to become assistant brewer. Raven added: “As well as our ongoing commitment to the local community and to our employees, which are the building blocks for solid business, we are looking to capitalise on the current interest and energy within the beer sector. We have already invested over £140,000 in the infrastructure at Ilkley Brewery since August this year, including taking on an additional storage facility, and with additional expansion in the pipeline. I think this emphasises our commitment to grow Ilkley Brewery into one of the top independent breweries in the UK.”

Flypay wins technology award: Flypay has won the award for ‘Mobile Payment Solution of the Year’ in partnership with payment service provider Verifone at the 2015 Payment Award. This award acknowledges game-changing mobile solutions in the payments industry that have established a ‘consistent, innovative, customer friendly mobile payments strategy’. Judges were looking for innovation, speed of adoption by users as well as the benefits that the project delivers to the nominated organisation and its customers. Flypay’s pay-at-table solution was launched with Wahaca in 2013 and remains the only solution with the ability to be completely waiterless, significantly improving the customer experience of paying your bill whilst increasing table turn. Flypay has since implemented a further stack of solutions, including order and collect, order at table, and their recent solution developed with Visa Europe to reinvent Bar Tabs. Tom Weaver, chief executive of Flypay said: “Winning an award of this calibre cements our position as market leader in mobile technology for the hospitality industry and truly demonstrates the amazing amount of hard work that both the Flypay and Verifone teams have put into making this solution a great experience for both the operator and customer alike. With the evolution of the hospitality industry, providing an efficient payment solution has never been more important.”

Heineken appoints PepsiCo marketing head as new UK marketing director: Heineken has appointed PepsiCo marketing head Cindy Tervoort as its new UK marketing director. Tervoort, who will join the company in January, replaces Jacco van der Linden, who has been promoted to managing director of Heineken’s operating company in China. Tervoort is currently head of marketing, cereals for the western Europe and Africa region. She has been with PepsiCo for the past nine years and held various senior roles including marketing director for snacks in the Netherlands and marketing director for cereals in the UK and Ireland. Prior to joining PepsiCo, she held various marketing and sales roles during ten years at Unilever. Tervoort will report to UK managing director David Forde, who said: “Cindy brings with her a wealth of experience, particularly driving growth and innovation. She arrives in our UK business at a very exciting time, as we continue to invest and innovate in our fantastic portfolio of cider and beer brands.”

HospitalityGEM – hotels missing out by scaring away non-residents from dining because of high prices: High prices are scaring away non-residents from dining at hotels – thus missing out on potential customers, according to new research. Nearly half (49%) of the people surveyed by guest experience management experts HospitalityGEM think food prices at hotels are too expensive. While 64% of those surveyed eat out more than five times a month, only 15% choose to visit a hotel they are not staying in for food more than once a month. 77% would expect a hotel to accept walk in diners at their restaurants with only 7% put off if the restaurant was not visible from outside or easily accessible. Only 4% chose a lack of variety on the menu as a reason why they avoid these sites, and just 14% said it was because of poor quality food. Meanwhile, 37% said that they would choose to visit a hotel specifically for food if the establishment had a great reputation and 27% if it was a special occasion. The majority (56%) would visit a hotel for dinner while 20% would choose afternoon with the latter particularly popular for 18-30 year olds, with 42% in that age range choosing that particular time. HospitalityGEM managing director Steven Pike said: “As the hospitality industry enjoys ever greater numbers of people choosing to dine out more frequently, it seems the hotel sector is missing out on attracting non-residents to its restaurants, with perceived price identified as the main reason.”

Scott Hallsworth opens Kurobuta residency at Harvey Nichols in Knightsbridge: Former Nobu head chef Scott Hallsworth has opened a residency of his Japanese restaurant concept Kurobuta at Harvey Nichols in Knightsbridge, London. The venue is based in the fifth floor restaurant space of the department store. Kurobuta is an izakaya – a Japanese style pub – that offers cocktails and beers as well as sake and sochu to accompany the dishes. It popped up on the King’s Road in October 2013 and due to its popularity, it is now a permanent site. The second Kurobuta in Marble Arch officially opened in April last year.

Second 22 The Square restaurant to open on Thursday: A second 22 The Square restaurant will open in Cross Hills, North Yorkshire on Thursday (12 November), creating 25 jobs. The concept is opening in Main Street on the site of the former Bella Napoli and will also feature a cocktail and wine bar. The restaurant will serve Italian and Mediterranean-influenced food. Its owners already have a restaurant of the same name in Northowram, Halifax, which opened in 2009. Head chef Anthony Bickers, who has more than 25 years’ experience in restaurants in Yorkshire told the Craven Herald: “We aim to offer the very best in Italian food while also incorporating Greek and Spanish influences with a twist. This is a superb location for a restaurant and one of the reasons we wanted to come to Cross Hills was because some of our Halifax customers suggested it.”

Balanced approach key to tackling alcohol harms: The ALMR has expressed its concern regarding an All Party Parliamentary Group’s inquiry into alcohol harms and called for the Group to work more closely with the on-trade and adopt a balanced approach to alcohol. ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “We are disappointed that the APPG’s inquiry doesn’t take more of a balanced approach and fails to acknowledge the wider economic benefits or the hard work the sector has been undertaking. We are concerned that the inquiry is adopting a default position that alcohol is, per se, a negative influence. Pubs, bars and nightclubs are vital sources of revenue for their local areas and their economic contribution should not be discounted. There also needs to be a distinction between the highly regulated, supervised environment of the on-trade and the unregulated world of off-trade alcohol. As we have seen this week, large numbers of people in London gathering illegally and consuming cheap off-trade alcohol have caused problems for the emergency services. We have consistently argued that the best place for people to enjoy themselves is in the safe, supervised environment of a pub or nightclub; a distinction that should be noted by the inquiry. Extra top-down pressures on the on-trade will only have the effect of pushing more customers away from the supervised environment of a pub, towards the unregulated, pocket-money-priced alcohol of supermarkets. This is presumably the last thing the inquiry wants.”

ALMR National Restaurant Association Study Tour to Chicago opens for bookings: The Propel and Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) 2016 Chicago Study Tour is now open for bookings. The trip, sponsored by CPL Training and Sky, takes place between Thursday 19 May and Monday 23 May 2016. The NRA draws 58,000-plus industry professionals from all 50 states and 100 countries, seeking the newest innovations and up-to-the-minute information about trends and issues. The ALMR trip provides: insights from industry experts on the rise in fast-casual dining, social media, new and emerging brands, menu development, staff management and a host of other issues – with 70 free education sessions at the NRA show. It also involves two tours of Chicago’s hottest concepts and a market overview briefing sessions from US experts. Paul Charity, managing director of Propel Info, said: “The NRA show combined with our tour of Chicago is a fantastic opportunity to find fresh inspiration and understand the emerging trends shaping the fast-changing US market.” To get more information or to book, email jo.charity@propelinfo.com

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