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Mon 16th Nov 2015 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

London Union founder Henry Dimbleby defends £31.5m valuation: Henry Dimbleby, founder of street market business London Union, has defended the current £31m valuation of the business, an increase of £27m since the start of the year when it was founded. Responding to an inquiry on crowdfunding platform Seedrs, where it is seeking to raise £3.5m for 10.01% of its equity, he said: “In terms of the valuation, £3.5 million for 10% of the equity values the business pre-money at £31.5 million, 12.1x our target 2016 company Ebitda. For a high-growth business with the track record and team that we have, we think this is reasonable. Most businesses at our stage wouldn’t have a positive Ebitda, so a multiple would be impossible to calculate. The valuation also doesn’t include the potential upside from the media and partnership revenues that our chairman, Stef Calcraft, is spearheading. Stef, incidentally, has a growth share package that only kicks in above a valuation of £30 million – so his incentives are aligned with investors in this round. In terms of returns, we are targeting a company Ebitda of £12 million in 2019. At a multiple of 10x to 15x and adding back cash this would equate to a value of £144m to £202m – an overall return of 5x to 7x the investment. This obviously doesn’t take into account the benefits of EIS relief or the investor rewards. After EIS relief, an investment of £5,000 will have a net cost to the investor of £3,500. An investment of £10,000 will have a net cost to the investor of £5,000, after EIS and bar tab dividend. So if we hit our targets the actual return on an investment of £10,000 might be 10x to 14x. I’m still a director at Leon (John Vincent, my brilliant business partner, took over as CEO last summer) and (co-founder) Jonathan (Downey) has responsibilities at Rushmore, but London Union is our complete focus. We are both working on it flat out. As you will see from the plan, we hope to expand to major capitals around the world. Everything we do will be 100% owned by London Union, including investors in this round of fundraising.” So far, investors have pledged £315,000, about 9% of target with 13 days to go. 

Industry News:

Propel and Elliotts partner for Advanced Marketing Masterclass: Propel is partnering leading sector public relations and marketing firm Elliotts for the inaugural Advanced Marketing Masterclass. The event takes place on Thursday, 14 January at One Moorgate Place in London. It will provide an insight into all aspects of marketing across the sector including how to develop and deliver effective digital initiatives and the best ways to recognise and tell a brand’s story to maximise its PR or social media potential. There will be also the latest insight into consumers’ behaviour to help companies develop marketing strategies around their customers as well as how to brief and work with an agency effectively. The event will feature contributions from Novus Leisure and Brazilian barbecue restaurant Cabana about some of the marketing initiatives they have used to improve results for their business. Elliotts strategy and development director James Hacon will also lead a panel discussion with marketing directors from leading brands. Tickets are priced at £295 for Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) members and £345 for non-ALMR members and are available by emailing Adam Dickinson on adam.dickinson@propelinfo.com

Giggling Squid plans 11 openings in 18 months after £6.4m BGF investment: Giggling Squid, the UK Thai restaurant group, plans 11 new restaurants and three extensions to its existing 13 sites in the next 18 to 21 months after a £6.4m investment from BGF (Business Growth Fund), the UK’s leading provider of growth capital to small and mid-sized businesses. The company has eight confirmed sites in its pipeline and is in negotiations for a “big handful” of others. Founder Andy Laurillard told Propel that the company plans to roll-out delivery to all sites that are relevant after a successful launch in Horsham six weeks ago. Of the decision to accept BGF investment, he told Propel: “It was a good offer among other good offers but we thought they are going to be the easiest people to work with – we just thought they fitted our peculiarities. We’re also really pleased to have secured Simon Kossoff as chairman – I think he will be a good fit.” Laurillard said the investment will mean the company can now hire the senior and middle management that will be running the business in three or four years time. Current underlying Ebitda at Giggling Squid is running at just over £2m. The company’s target is to expand to 50-70 sites within five to seven years. Substantial enhancements to the training and development programmes will see a major focus on identifying and developing internal talent.

Uncover app launches evolved version: Uncover, the restaurant app that enables diners to book London’s most desirable restaurants at the last-minute, now with 150,000+ downloads, has launched its latest iteration on the App Store with a significantly dialed-up content offering. Alongside a raft of new features, including the ability for users to peruse menus, search for restaurants and view bookings at-a-glance, is a brand new ‘Trends’ tab featuring a feed of daily restaurant news. Accessed via a tab at the bottom of the screen, the feed is presented in an easy-to-navigate, scrollable format that updates with the latest content each time a user clicks on it. Content, written by Uncover’s newly-appointed editorial team of food journalists, includes four key pillars: news, round-ups, trends and interviews. Chris Steinau, co-founder and director of marketing, said: “We’re positioning Uncover as the must-have lifestyle app for Londoners. Together with our core offering of enabling last-minute table reservations at London’s most desirable restaurants, including the likes of Kitty Fisher’s and Restaurant Story, our content aims to inspire those bookings by providing Londoners with a 360-degree view of the food scene. Read the trends. Book a table. Tonight.” 

NPD Group – visits to pubs and restaurants involving soft drinks by millennials increase nearly 10% since 2010: Visits to pubs and restaurants involving soft drinks by millennials have increased by nearly 10% in the past five years, according to new research. The finding by data research company NPD Group comes as part of its insight into soft drinks versus alcohol in the out-of-home market. While the proportion of visits to pubs, bars and restaurants featuring alcohol has declined since 2010 from 15% to 12% – although there was no change on last year – soft drink visits have increased. Visits featuring soft drinks among 25-34 year olds have risen 9% since 2010 and 8% for those aged 18-24 – the millennial age group. Alcohol visits in the two age groups were both down by 3%. NPD Group foodservice senior account manager Jack MacIntyre said the improvement of soft and hot drink offerings by chain pubs has resulted in consumers switching behaviour. The research also showed the average spend per visit on alcohol was £10.71 and £5.33 for soft drinks.

Just Eat share sale nets £110m: A sale of 25 million ordinary shares in online takeaway ordering service Just Eat has netted £110m. Index Ventures has sold the stake, which represents about 3.7% of the issued share capital, at a price of 440p per ordinary share, reports Business Insider. The venture capital firm now holds 56 million shares, or 8.3%. Following the sale, the sellers will be subject to a lock-up of 90 days in respect of their remaining shareholdings in Just Eat. Earlier this year, former Facebook director Diego Oliva joined the board as an independent non-executive director. In March, the online company reported full-year sales and profits grew substantially as 21 million more orders were placed in 2014. The business hailed “another year of excellent growth” and said 2015 revenues are expected to marginally exceed £200m.

Company News:

Cubitt House reports increase in turnover and pre-tax profit: Cubitt House, which operates four high-end gastro-pubs with bedrooms in central London, has reported an increase in turnover and pre-tax profit for the year ended 31 December 2014. The company saw turnover of 11,088,702, compared to £10,539, 811 the year before, according to accounts filed with Companies House. Pre-tax profit rose to £851,114, compared to £810,562 the year before. The company stated: “The directors are satisfied with the trading performance of the company. Turnover on like-for-like sales increased by 5% and operating profit increased by 4% to £858,683 (2013: £825,732). The company generated additional cash of £716,869 before loan repayments of £316,667, resulting in a net cash improvement before dividend payments of £399,798.” Cubitt House operates four gastro-pubs in Belgravia, Knightsbridge, Pimlico and Marylebone – The Orange, The Grazing Goat, The Alfred Tennyson and The Thomas Cubitt.

Big Easy and Dishoom set to open first sites outside London after signing for Edinburgh scheme: US barbecue company Big Easy and Bombay-style cafe Dishoom are both set to open their first sites outside of London. They are the latest restaurant brands to sign for the new South St Andrew Square development in Edinburgh, which is a joint venture between Standard Life Investments and developer Peveril Securities. Big Easy, which currently has three sites in London, has agreed an 8,770 square foot unit while Dishoom, which has four sites in the capital, has taken a 6,800 square foot site. They will be joined at the Edinburgh complex by The One Group, which is opening its first STK Rebel outside North America, along with Drake & Morgan and Busaba Earthai. David Stewart, of Standard Life, told Business Quarter: “These lettings demonstrate the strong appeal of the South St Andrew Square development and Edinburgh as a destination for international restaurants as they look to expand outside of London. We’re confident South St Andrew Square will become the prime destination for top quality dining in Edinburgh.”

Le Bistrot Pierre reports record numbers at Newport opening: Le Bistrot Pierre has reported a record numbers of diners attended the opening of its 14th site in Newport, Wales, on Thursday, 12 November. The company had more than 400 customers at its new restaurant at Friars Walk – its first venue inside a shopping centre – and said it has received a flurry of bookings for this weekend and throughout November as a result. Co-owner Rob Beacham said: “The team have worked incredibly hard to make sure the opening was a success and now Newport has proved to be our best opening to date. Newport is a developing city and we’re excited to be part of its growth and to offer something different: freshly prepared bistrot cooking at great value.” The company has invested £950,000 into the restaurant, which seats more than 170 people and created 50 jobs. Beacham set up Le Bistrot Pierre with school friend John Whitehead 21 years ago.

Zizzi set to open first site in Northern Ireland: Italian restaurant brand Zizzi is set to open its first site in Northern Ireland. The company is launching its inaugural venue in the country at the Victoria Square Shopping Centre in Belfast, according to a report from property company Lisney. The report stated: “Victoria Square Shopping Centre has welcomed Boux Avenue, with the food offering also set to improve with the opening of Carluccios, Five Guys and Zizzi.” The new restaurant is set to open underneath PizzaExpress at the complex in early 2016.

Artigiano to open new pizza and beer restaurant concept Base + Barley at end of month: Artigiano, which runs coffee bars that transform into wine bars in the evenings, will open its new pizza and beer restaurant concept Base + Barley at the end of the month. The company is launching the concept in Exeter in Longbrook Street on the ground floor of Portland House. The restaurant will seat 150 diners and be decorated with contrasting wooden benches and neon lights, with hand drawn illustrations featured throughout the decor. There will also be a separate bar area. It will serve artisan sourdough pizzas with a variety of toppings alongside a selection of beers, many of which will be hand-brewed in small batches. Base + Barley managing director Joe Hill told the Exeter Express & Echo: “People care more than ever about how their food is made, and our pizzas could hold their own in the back yards of Napoli. I can’t wait to see Base + Barley full of life as diners embrace the laid back and stylish atmosphere. Exeter is becoming known as a foodie destination, and I am very excited to add something fresh and fun to what’s on offer.”

Juice bar Boost signs for third Manchester site: Boost, the Australian-based juice bar company brought to the UK in 2007, is opening a new site in Manchester – its third in the city. The company has signed to take a 1,200 square foot unit at the Arndale shopping centre, reports Property Week. Boost currently has about 20 sites in the UK with plans to take the brand to more than 50 outlets over the next four years. It was founded in 2000 by Australian mum-of-three Janine Allis and launched in the UK in 2007 by Richard and Dawn O’Sullivan, the founders of Millies Cookies. The first UK store was opened at the Trafford Centre in Manchester, which is also home to Boost’s other site in the city.

Leeds-based chef-entrepreneur to open third site in city: Leeds-based chef-entrepreneur Luke Downing is to open his third site in the city. Downing is launching cocktail bar and fine dining restaurant Vice and Virtue in New Briggate – opposite Belgrave Music Hall – on the site of the former Henley’s Sports Bar, which was previously the Black Diamond gentlemen’s club. The venue will have a ground floor cocktail bar with a 1940s Moulin Rouge-type, art deco feel and is due to open on Saturday, 28 November. The cocktail menu will be concise with up to ten bespoke creations. Upstairs will be a fine dining restaurant serving a tasting menu or small plates for those wanting to share. The restaurant is expected to launch in March. Downing told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “Rather than run away from the fact it was a gentlemen’s club, we’ve embraced some small elements of it. Take the name, for example. ‘Vice’ is from how the building once was and the ‘virtue’ is the direction we’ll be taking it in.” Downing also runs Dough Bistro in West Park and Nineteen Bar and Grill at Leeds Golf Centre.

Brunning & Price submits plans to turn Preston wedding venue into pub: The Restaurant Group’s gastro-pub brand Brunning & Price has submitted plans to turn a property in Preston used as a wedding venue into a pub. The company wants to transform Haighton Manor from a hotel and restaurant and extend its dining room. It is understood the current tenants will leave the grade II-listed building by the end of the year, and a Brunning & Price spokesman told the Lancashire Evening Post the company was “interested” in the premises. A design and access statement to Preston Council, submitted by agents Frost Planning, said: “Brunning & Price proposes the change of use of Haighton Manor from wedding venue/hotel/restaurant to public house; including dining-room extension at side, repositioned car park, internal/external refurbishment works, and new landscaping.” It said: “The proposed change of use is non-controversial given the existing lawful use of Haighton Manor. There will be no adverse impact on residential amenity.” Listed building consent has also been submitted for the building, which dates back to the early 17th century. Brunning & Price has nearly 30 pub-restaurants and is looking to add another ten sites in 2016 with at least 120 seats for diners and also expand its geographical spread.

Final spaces available on the 26th Inter Brewery Regatta: The annual Inter Brewery Regatta involving teams from across the brewer, pub group, supplier, and casual dining sector, is calling for teams to fill the final remaining race slots. Scheduled for May 20 to 22, confirmed racers for the 2016 regatta include Jaegermeister, Matthew Clark, CPL Training, Zonal, C&C Group, HSBC, Faucet Inns, Youngs and Co, Yummy Pubs, Davis Coffer Lyons, St Austell Brewery Co Ltd, Brilliant Beer, Sky UK, Anglian Country Inns, Maidaid and Beds and Bars. Taking on the mantle of organiser after winning last year’s regatta, CEO and co-founder of Beds and Bars Keith Knowles, is encouraging all participants to raise £1,000 for charity. Keith Knowles commented: “If we get 20 teams involved that’s an easy £20,000 for a very deserving cause, and the winning boat gets to decide what cause that is. Beyond that, it will be a great event for cross industry networking, where crews of all abilities are welcome to take part.” With 40 years’ experience at the forefront of the sailing industry, the regatta will be facilitated by Sun Sail, who are also on hand to provide skippers for novice teams. The three day event will involve five races in total and the fee to enter is £2,028.50 per yacht, excluding VAT based on eight guests, with an optional charity donation of £1,000. If you are interested in competing in the 2016 regatta, please contact Monika Gondek, PA to Keith Knowles on monika.gondek@bedsandbars.com

Plans submitted for £17m leisure scheme featuring nine restaurants in Huddersfield: Plans have been submitted for a £17m leisure complex featuring nine restaurants and a cinema in Huddersfield. WD Huddersfield lodged an application to build Kingsgate Leisure to link up with its existing Kingsgate shopping centre. The plan is over four levels and includes nine restaurant units totalling 83,000 square foot as well as a 22,000 square foot multi-screen cinema on the top floor. Seven of the restaurant units would be at street level and link to the existing Kingsgate shopping centre with two more on the first floor. WD Huddersfield managing director Peter Everest told the Huddersfield Examiner: “These proposals fill a gap in the town centre’s facilities for a modern and substantial cinema and also family dining. Currently, Huddersfield is one of the poorest served town centres in the region for casual family dining and we hope that this development will remedy that.” The development is expected to start in late 2016 and open about 18 months later.

JD Wetherspoon granted planning permission for new pub in Diss: JD Wetherspoon has been granted planning for a £2.2m pub in Diss, Norfolk (population: 7,572), creating more than 50 jobs. The company has had its application for the new 953 square metre pub at Kings Head Yard in Mere Street approved by South Norfolk Council. Spokesman Eddie Gershon told the Diss Express: “We have always been keen to open one of our pubs in Diss and this is a great step in the right direction. Diss is a very attractive town and we are confident that its residents and visitors will welcome a Wetherspoon pub.” JD Wetherspoon said it would now apply for an alcohol licence for the site in due course.

Five new restaurant units to be built at West Bromwich shopping centre: Five new restaurants will be coming to the Queens Square shopping centre in West Bromwich in the new year as part of a multi-million pound revamp. Work is about to start on converting a group of former shops at the complex into the additional units in the second stage of the centre’s refurbishment and talks are ongoing with potential tenants. Queens Square operations manager Aaron Powell told the Express & Star: “Although we can’t give any details of restaurant names yet there are still offers on the table and we will hopefully be confirming details before new year.” The centre has undergone extensive changes since 2014, with the completion of the first phase of a £7m overhaul – which has included the creation of new modern entrances at each elevation of the complex.

Chef who once cooked for George Bush and Tony Blair opens first restaurant: Chef-entrepreneur Tarek Thoma, who once cooked for former US president George Bush and prime minister Tony Blair, has launched his first restaurant. Thoma has opened Oven at Central Point in Linthorpe Road, Middlesbrough, at the former Midland House building following a £500,000 investment, creating 45 jobs. The 160-cover restaurant has a menu focusing on English, French, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine. Thoma, who cooked for Bush and Blair in 2003 when he worked at the Dun Cow in Sedgefield, told Gazette Live: “My staff and I are looking forward to welcoming guests to Oven and serving them with Michelin star-style food at very affordable prices.”

BrewDog granted alcohol licence for proposed York site: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has been granted an alcohol licence for its proposed new pub in York. The company was given the go-ahead by City of York Council for the former Portfolio Studios building in Micklegate, reports the York Press. It will now seek planning permission to transform the building into a 2,500 square foot craft beer bar to hold up to 150 people. BrewDog’s scheme faced scrutiny because the site falls inside the Cumulative Impact Zone (CIZ) set up to stop alcohol-related anti-social behaviour. Under the CIZ rules, new applicants have to prove their licence would not have a negative impact on the area. BrewDog’s solicitor Tony Lyons said: “BrewDog seek to develop a convivial craft beer bar, which is designed to be educational and for the more mature drinker who has a passion for beer. A lot of this is about trying to educate people on what we are about in selling craft beer – not to get as much as possible down your neck in as short a time as possible.”

Boston Tea Party to open new site in Stratford-upon-Avon in February: Cafe company Boston Tea Party is to open a new site in Stratford-upon-Avon in February. The company is launching the venue at St Gregory’s Hall, a converted school house in Henley Street, creating up to 40 jobs. The two-storey building will seat 120 customers inside, with an outdoor seating area for 50. The former school house was previously occupied by a cafe and patisserie that closed earlier this year. Managing director Sam Roberts said: “We’re hugely excited to be opening a new Boston Tea Party venue in Stratford, a town we have long been eager to move to. It’s especially rewarding for me as I went to primary school locally, attending The Croft Preparatory School in Alveston, so I have fond memories of Stratford. We have been waiting to find the perfect building and St Gregory’s Hall is a fabulous find with its incredible history and beautiful features, including a vaulted roof, as well as being in a prime location right across the road from the birthplace of Shakespeare himself.” It will be the 18th site for the company, which is opening a second venue in Bath next month and an outlet in the Birmingham suburb of Moseley in the spring. It is also planning further openings in the south west later next year. 

Bruno Loubet to open Grain offshoot at Gatwick Airport next month: Chef Bruno Loubet is to open an offshoot of his King’s Cross restaurant Grain at Gatwick Airport next month. Loubet is launching Grain Store Cafe & Bar in the South Terminal as the result of a partnership with The Zetter Group and Airport Retail Enterprises. It will feature a family-friendly all-day menu overseen by Loubet and created with airport travellers in mind, and showcases fresh and organic vegetables as well as fish and meat sourced from local British producers. Grain Store Cafe & Bar will focus on speed of service, in line with Gatwick Airport’s promise to serve meals within 15 minutes, “providing premium dining whilst giving passengers peace of mind about their flight plans”. At the start of 2016, the restaurant will also offer takeaway bento boxes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The restaurant will have a white tiled takeaway counter, feature bar and open kitchen. It also has a five metre long glass wall, which offers a window into the kitchen and is the first of its kind in an airport.

Turtle Bay opens first of two new restaurants in Liverpool: Caribbean restaurant Turtle Bay has opened the first of two new sites in Liverpool. The company has invested £800,000 creating the 3,500 square foot 140-seat restaurant in the Produce Exchange, a grade II-listed building on Victoria Street in the centre of the city, creating 60 jobs. Turtle Bay’s founder and director Ajith Jayawickrema told the Liverpool Echo: “We’ve been looking at Liverpool as a destination for some time, it’s an exciting period of growth for the city, especially its vibrant culinary scene. There was no question as to whether or not we would open here, it was about finding the right space.” The company is due to open its second site in the city at Liverpool ONE in early 2016.

Tiny Rebel Brewery to open second site in Newport this month: Tiny Rebel Brewery will open its second site, this time in its hometown of Newport on Friday, 27 November. The company, which won Champion Beer of Britain at the Great British Beer Festival this year for its Cwtch Welsh Red Ale, is opening the bar in the High Street creating 20 jobs ­– two years after launching the Urban Tap House on Cardiff’s Westgate Street. Stretching over two floors, the site features a large ground floor bar and Cwtch lounge area within the basement. The bar will stock eight cask ales and more than 60 different independent beers. The menu will feature American style pasta and the return of the pizzas served at the brewery’s pop-up trial at the same venue earlier this year. Company director Bradley Cummings told the South Wales Argus: “It’s exciting for Newport and it’s very positive. We are now achieving everything we set out to do but a lot more on the way.”

Apprentice candidate opens Jamaican restaurant in Brixton: Apprentice candidate April Jackson has opened a boutique and restaurant, Three Little Birds, in Brixton, south London. 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 serves Jamaican cuisine plates, cocktails and an array of the island’s condiments and coffee.

Birmingham burger vendor to open first permanent site: Birmingham burger vendor Original Patty Men has secured its first permanent site. The concept, founded by Scott O’Byrne and Tom Maher, is opening the 33-seat restaurant at Shaws Passage in Digbeth next month. Byrne and Maher have teamed up with Reading-based craft beer specialist Siren Craft Brew for the new venture. Maher told the Birmingham Mail: “It’s an exciting step forward for us and we’re looking forward to being able to set up our first permanent residence. Siren Craft Brew specialises in experimental beers such as Caribbean Chocolate Cake and Limoncello IPA.”

Foxlow opens fourth site in Bedford Hill: Foxlow, the neighbourhood restaurant from the founders of high-end steak brand Hawksmoor, has opened its fourth site. The brand, launched by Will Beckett and Huw Gott, has launched its latest venue in Bedford Hill – its third this year. The 100-cover restaurant also features a separate bar downstairs called The Owl. The restaurant’s design uses vintage materials including reclaimed floor boards from a notable theatre school with pendant lights hanging above. The Owl has black leather banquettes and bricks from the London Underground. The food menu offers charcoal-grilled steaks as well as seafood, smoked meats, vegetarian options and salads while cocktails include the Dr Grey – blended scotch, peated scotch, lemon, ginger and bergamot. The first Foxlow restaurant opened in Clerkenwell in November 2013 followed by sites in Stoke Newington and Chiswick.

Tasty to open Wildwood in Brentwood on Thursday: Tasty will open a new Wildwood restaurant in Brentwood, Essex, on Thursday (19 November), creating 40 jobs. The company is opening the venue in the High Street in the former Clement Joscelyn site, which closed when the family-run furniture business went into administration in 2012. The main restaurant will be in the basement with further dining rooms on the ground floor. Manager Bex Cooke told the Brentwood Gazette: “The thing about Wildwood is they are all really individual. It will look a lot different to Chelmsford and Billericay. The food is all freshly prepared, we do a real variety and there’s something on the menu for everyone.”

Merlin Entertainments to launch in India market: Merlin Entertainments is to open its first attraction in India and plans to invest £50m in the country over the next ten years. The company will open a Madame Tussauds in New Delhi in early 2017 with a view to launching more of its “midway” brands in India in the coming years including Legoland Discovery Centre and Sealife Aquarium. Chief executive Nick Varney said: “We have long been considering the potential for the group in India with its rapidly growing economy, and are very excited to have found the ideal site for our first venture in New Delhi. We already know how popular many of our brands are with the Indian community in other markets, particularly Madame Tussauds. Indeed the Bollywood figures in Madame Tussauds London are now some of the most popular in the attraction.” In October, Merlin announced it would partner with China Media Capital to create visitor attractions in China, including a Legoland theme park in the Shanghai area.

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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