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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Fri 20th Nov 2015 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Bed and Bars signs first franchisee: Pan-European bar and hostel company Beds and Bars, led by Keith Knowles, has signed the Copenhagen Downtown Hostel to become the first franchise member of its St Christopher’s Network. The St Christopher’s Network is the debut franchise option from its St Christopher’s Inns brand, Europe’s largest independent chain of backpacker hostels without private equity backing. The new franchise business model will be rolled out in partnership with the best hostels in Europe, recognised for their high standards, customer review ratings, modern facilities, outstanding success to date and industry awards won. As a part of this partnership, St Christopher’s Inns will share its independently created booking engine technology with the Copenhagen Downtown Hostel. Beds available in Copenhagen will be available on the St Christopher’s Inns website and in turn, beds available at the St Christopher’s Inns hostels across Europe, will be sold on the Copenhagen Downtown Hostel website. Jesper Hansen and Claus Chrisensen, from the Copenhagen Downtown Hostel, said: “We found the best partner in the hostel industry to work with. St Christopher’s Inns has a true hostel culture combined with excellent state of the art technology, and a professional organisation. It will be a solid foundation for Copenhagen Downtown Hostel in the future and we are very proud to be a part of St Christopher’s network.” Managing director of St Christopher’s Inns Murray Roberts said: “The Copenhagen Downtown Hostel is known around the world as the best hostel in Denmark. It makes perfect sense for us to partner with this well known and excellent quality operation, as a franchise partner, sharing our booking engine technology, resources and industry know how in the process. I’m very proud that Copenhagen are the first official franchise partner of the new St Christopher’s Network; a business model that we will soon be rolling out across Europe.”  

Industry News:

Luke Johnson paid £3m for Small Batch majority stake: Luke Johnson’s Risk Capital Partners paid an estimated £3m to buy a majority stake in Small Batch Coffee. The entrepreneur has bought founder Brad Jacobsen’s 64% stake in the business. Jacobsen told the Brighton Argus: “It was an absolutely amazing journey from the early days to what it became. I’ll miss working with my mates every day. I’m not a guy to lavish myself with much, but I might buy a few more black t-shirts.” He intends to spend more time with his two children and working in his Hove pub The Urchin. Jacobsen’s co-founder Alan Tomlins will stay on in charge of sourcing and roasting the coffee at Small Batch. He said: “Brad’s passion is business and entrepreneurship whereas mine is coffee. This gives us the ability to invest in our producers, pay them more money to make better coffee.” After leaving school Jacobsen spent two years hitch-hiking around his native Australia. He had been involved in hospitality since he was 12 years old, which, as Jacobsen claimed, was “something you tend to go into if you’re not all that great at school”. He first worked in a coffee shop in 2001 in Cornwall before moving to Brighton where he ran the Beach House Cafe on the seafront. It was there he met coffee connoisseur Tomlins and after a one-minute interview he offered him a job. The company started modestly with a coffee cart, while there was some trial and error DIY building at its first shop in Church Road. Last year the company roasted 75 tonnes of beans from its Goldstone Villas headquarters – the equivalent of four sea containers, or more than three million cups of coffee.

Meadowhall shopping centre owner plans 330,000 square foot food and leisure extension: British Land is planning a 330,000 square foot food and leisure extension to its Meadowhall shopping centre in Sheffield. The company will seek planning for the new scheme by the middle of next year, and comes on top of its £55m refurbishment of the complex, reports Property Week. The new scheme will take the centre to a total size of more than 1.7 million square foot, and the new food and leisure extension will represent a 20% enlargement of the scheme. The extension will include a number of new restaurants, a cinema and additional leisure activities. The shopping centre currently provides 1.4 million square foot of retail and leisure space. It has 230 stores, an existing 11-screen Vue cinema, and a recently refurbished Oasis Dining Quarter, which includes brands such as TGI Friday’s, Zizzi’s, Five Guys and Las Iguanas, as well as 13 mall cafes.

ALMR lobbying successfully opposes mandatory EU fees: The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) has welcomed news mandatory charging of fees for restaurant inspections will not be implemented EU-wide. An announcement by the EU Council has confirmed the financing of inspections will be decided at a national level, following intensive lobbying by the ALMR and HOTREC. The European Commission had proposed costs of official controls should be covered by all food business operators, including restaurants, a position that was not adopted by the council. ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “This is a fantastic win for the hospitality industry both in the UK and in Europe. The possibility of mandatory fees being rolled out across the continent left businesses facing the possibility of shouldering an even greater financial burden, and has been averted thanks to concentrated lobbying by the ALMR and our partners in HOTREC. It is absolutely correct that the decision to introduce such a fee should only be made by governments at a national level. The focus of our attention will now turn to the UK government and we will be working closely with them to ensure that the UK’s hospitality businesses are not faced with an additional cost burden.”

New research highlights Rugby World Cup spending surge: Spending in the leisure industry increased significantly during the Rugby World Cup (RWC), new data released has shown. Spending on restaurants and takeaways increased by 17% in the seven-week period during the RWC, compared with the previous seven weeks. Curry houses and Chinese restaurants led the way, with spending surging by 33% and 30% respectively. Among rugby fans (measured as those either spending money on RWC tickets or merchandise, or with individual rugby clubs) there was an even greater increase (21%) in spending on restaurants and takeaways. Meanwhile spending in pubs, which does not include those specialising in food, leapt by 7% among rugby fans. The findings come from Cardlytics, an advertising and technology company specialising in card-linked marketing, which has tracked the spending behaviour of 1.6 million banking customers to analyse shopping habits during the RWC. Jill Dougan, UK managing director of Cardlytics, said: “These findings show the impact big calendar events can have on consumer spending. With more people eating out and looking to spend money, there’s a huge opportunity for brands, particularly those that resonate with the event’s audience, to engage with customers.”

BII Licensee of the Year calls on industry to sign petition to save pub threatened by neighbouring development: Keith Marsden, the current British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) Licensee of the Year, has called on the industry to sign a petition against a proposed neighbouring development that “threatens the viability” of his Prince of Wales pub in Moseley, Birmingham. Marsden started the petition after plans were lodged to build 46 flats next to the pub, which is famous for its large beer garden. Since being launched on Wednesday, the petition has attracted more than 8,000 signatures and Marsden has called on the trade to “unite” and fight the plan. He told Propel: “It’s a perennial problem for many operators – you invest in a creating a great site, yet it only takes one moaning resident to destroy the viability of the pub. We feel that complaint is just a matter of time. We would like the trade to unite and sign the petition to stop the planning consent.” The petition states: “The viability of the Prince of Wales, a gorgeous old building dating back more than 150 years, is under threat because greedy developers want to build a cramped development of posh apartments overshadowing the Moseley landmark. We can’t let another part of our heritage disappear to line the pockets of big business investors.” The petition can be accessed here.

Plans for ‘restaurant and bar destination’ below former Eurostar terminal at Waterloo get go-ahead: Plans to turn some of the disused railway arches below the former Eurostar terminal at Waterloo in London into a “restaurant and bar destination” have been given the go-ahead. London & Continental Railways (LCR) – which manages the former Waterloo International Terminal on behalf of the Department for Transport – has had its proposal to create eight units at Leake Street approved by Lambeth Council. LCR’s Adrian Lee told London SE1: “The Leake Street arches present an excellent opportunity to build on Waterloo’s existing cultural offer and enhance the urban environment around the station. We will use our expertise in developing land around railway assets to deliver a new, vibrant restaurant and bar destination at Leake Street, which pays homage to the area’s creative heritage.”

BrewDog Nordic crowdfunding raises just €31,778 so far: BrewDog’s stand-alone crowdfunding campaign for Nordic countries, aiming to raise €1.5m through FundedByMe, has attracted 40 investors in ten days so far, who have pledged €31,778 – there are 20 days left to invest. The company stated: “We love the fact that we have such a loyal following in northern Europe, and FundedByMe has an awesome track record for crowdfunding. It’s going to be an amazing partnership, and the platform will truly help us put the craft beer fans of the Nordic countries in control, and give them a chance to become fully involved with BrewDog’s future.”

MP demands end to ‘shift-shafting’ by pubs and restaurants: MP Justin Madders has demanded an end to “shift-shafting” by pubs and restaurants. Madders, a former employment lawyer and current Labour MP for Ellesmere Port and Neston, has slammed the practice where shifts are cancelled without notice. Madders said the practice was widespread after carrying out a survey of restaurant chains asking questions relating to employment policies. He told the Chester Chronicle: “It is a scandal that some staff turn up for work only to be sent home at the beginning of their shift or after just a couple of hours, without earning enough to even cover their travel expenses. ‘Shift-shafting’ exploits some of the lowest paid workers and needs to be stopped, either through a voluntary agreement by the industry or through legislation.”

Last call for entries for Casual Dining Restaurant & Pub Awards 2016: Casual dining operators have until 27 November to submit their entries for the first Casual Dining Restaurant & Pub Awards, organised by Diversified Communications UK. These new awards for the multi-billion pound casual dining sector will enjoy a prominent showcase at the Casual Dining trade show, which takes place next year on 24-25 February at the Business Design Centre in London. Numerous multiple and independent casual dining restaurants, pubs and bars have already submitted their entries across the 11 categories, which cover operational excellence and performance, leadership, employee engagement, marketing, social responsibility, and design. There are also two additional awards recognising the “Turnaround of the year” and casual dining “Champion of the year”, which will be nominated by the judges. Casual dining operators are invited to nominate themselves via an online entry on the Casual Dining Restaurant & Pub Awards website at

Company News:

Roy Ellis and Neil Macleod scoop top honours in Star Pubs & Bars awards for £5m-a-year turnover site: Inventive Leisure founders Roy Ellis and Neil Macleod have been named Star Pubs & Bars’ Retailers of the Year out of an estate of 1,100 pubs. The pair’s new business, Flying Pig & Lobster, opened The Elephant Pub & Bakehouse in Woolton. A total of £350,000 was invested in The Elephant pub last year alongside the creation of an American tavern concept called Liberty Tavern, which cost an additional £450,000, in a building next to the pub. The “shack-style” venue offers US classics such as shrimp cocktails and slow-cooked Texas chilli. The two venues are taking circa £100,000 a week, with the pub achieving 40% like-for-like sales growth on its first anniversary and Liberty Tavern annualising like-for-like growth of circa 20%. Licensees from 83 pubs were recognised as finalists and winners in 15 categories ranging from most family friendly pub to top sports bar. Multiple operators were well represented at the awards night. Half of the finalists’ pubs were run by licensees with more than one site and eight out of the 15 winners were multiple operators. These included: Live Sports Venue: Weston Castle, the Queens Arms, Aintree; Best Food Pub: The Bath Pub Company, the Hare & Hounds, Bath; Best Outdoor Pub: Colin Stuart and Kenny Watson, CookHouse Pub & Carvery, Prestatyn; Best Cask Pub: Ross Evans, the Ship Tavern, Holborn, London; Marketing: PG Taverns Scotland, the Jolly Botanist, Edinburgh. The judges reported standards in all categories were higher than ever in the fourth year of the Star awards. They also noted the number of pubs that winners and finalists had turned around following investment. Chris Jowsey, Star Pubs & Bars trading director, said: “By focusing on retail standards, independent licensees are successfully challenging big branded outlets, winning customers looking for a more unique and individual experience and great quality. The Star awards is one of the high points of our year and it was exciting to have so many brilliant licensees together at one event. Whilst the judges reported that they could see the impact of the increased investment that we and our licensees have made in our pubs, it is the innovation, resilience and ‘can do’ attitude of licensees that ultimately ensures the enduring popularity and the continued relevance of the great British pub.”

Wimpy Restaurants reports profit boost: Wimpy Restaurants, which is owned by South Africa-based Famous Brand and has a network of circa 100 restaurants operated by franchisees, has reported a profit boost. Turnover in the year to 28 February 2015 declined slightly to £5,680,571, compared to £5,835,025 the year before. However, pre-tax profit rose to £1,205,036 from £845,682 the year before.

Public to be invited to take part in McDonald’s Christmas advertising campaign: McDonald’s is inviting the British public to be part of its Christmas campaign this year. The company’s advert shows a family making a long car journey during the Christmas period, with the mother and three children singing loudly to Wizzard’s 1973 classic “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday”. The father, behind the wheel, refrains from joining in and turns the music off so he can pull into a McDonald’s drive through to pick up some food. But his family riotously refuses to be quieted and burst back into song at the ordering window. “We’re not anyone’s destination for Christmas, but we’re part of lots of little journeys – in a car on the way to friends and family, part of the Christmas party season or shopping,” said Steve Hill, head of marketing at McDonald’s UK. “We wanted to celebrate that role that we play.” McDonald’s will release the advert today (Friday, 20 November) across social media platforms and the spot will air on television for the first time during Tuesday night’s episode of I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here. But it plans to create a new version of the advert and is inviting submissions from the British public. People will be able to record themselves singing “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday” and upload the videos to the McDonald’s website from today. In partnership with Heart FM, the company will be placing recording booths in sleighs at various shopping centres around the UK, including Manchester’s Trafford Centre, Birmingham’s Bullring and Bluewater in Kent. Customers will also be able to participate in “cab-aoke” and record their submission in the back of branded taxis that will be roaming around London, Cardiff and Edinburgh. An independent judge will collect the best videos that are submitted before December 11 and create a new version of the advert, which will air during the Coronation Street episode on Christmas Day.

Deltic Group unveils new bar concept inspired by Shoreditch and Abba: Deltic Group is opening its new bar concept, Bar & Beyond in Chelmsford this week. The concept, which the company hopes to roll-out at Chicago Rock sites and elsewhere, is inspired by Shoreditch and Abba. Deltic has spent £875,000 in transforming the venue. Simon Kennington, Bar & Beyond general manager, said: “We wanted to bring a Shoreditch-inspired night out to Chelmsford, saving people the money and the 40-minute train ride to get there. We think it’s something that the city needed.” The dancefloor has gone, as has the middle bar, and has been replaced with a number of booths – in total 24 throughout the club. The middle bar area has been moved to the right of the entrance adding to the feel of a late-night bar rather than a nightclub. A VIP area has been added, which sits behind the back bar, and there is an upstairs lounge area that sits above the front bar – previously not open to the public. Graffiti artists spent a week creating individually designed sheds in the terrace area at the back of the club and coating the walls with zany slogans. The venue will create 40 full-time and part-time positions. A new menu features locally sourced goods as well as exotic meats like bison and ostrich with quirky menus that feature old bands like Abba on the cover. They plan to open the “Bar” at the front of the building seven days a week with the “Beyond” club area opening from Thursday to Saturday nights. Chicago’s closed in December 2014 after 18 years of trading. Meanwhile, The Deltic Group has delivered unprecedented sales for its latest venture, Unit 7 in Basildon, which opened last weekend. The £3 million site on the Festival Leisure Park, the biggest regional club investment in the UK in the last decade, took over £100k in its first week of trading and was sold out prior to opening, on both Friday and Saturday night.

Piccolino to open new restaurant featuring juice bar and all-year round outside terrace in Alderley Edge on Monday: Piccolino, the Italian restaurant and bar brand operated by Individual Restaurants, will open its new restaurant featuring a juice bar in Alderley Edge, Cheshire, on Monday (23 November). The company is opening the 250-seat venue on the ground floor of the former Panacea restaurant that closed in 2013 after being gutted by fire. The restaurant also features a 20-metre eat at open kitchen, wine boutique, island cocktail bar, private event space plus an all-year outside terrace with a fully retractable roof. The site will also include a juice bar called The Juicery, which will launch on Monday, 30 November. Piccolino has collaborated with celebrity juicer Cindy Palusamy to open The Juicery. Founded in New York, The Juicery boasts locations in Los Angeles, London and now Alderley Edge where guests will be able to “juice in or takeaway”. Palusamy told “The mission of The Juicery has always been to bring a taste of the famous New York/Los Angeles well-being culture to all parts of the world. In (founder) Steven Walker and the team at Individual Restaurants, we found an amazing group of dedicated foodies who share our passion for bringing our version of ‘expert goodness’ to life. Our truly collaborative menu at the new Piccolino in Alderley Edge, will not only feature our signature juices and smoothies, but also booster shots, superfood hot chocolates and teas, salads and takeaway snacks that are as good as they are good for you.”

Center Parcs reports sales boost in first half: Sales have increased at Center Parcs, which operates five holiday villages in the UK. In the 24 weeks to 8 October 2015, sales were up 11.5% to £200.2m while Ebitda rose by 12.8% to £101.8m. The business said it benefitted from the launch of Woburn Forest in Bedfordshire last year, which has 625 forest lodges and a 75-bedroom hotel. Center Parcs other locations are at Longleat Forest, Sherwood Forest, Whinfell Forest in Cumbria and Elveden Forest in Suffolk. In a statement, the company said: “During the quarter, the group commenced a new build accommodation investment programme. Work is well advanced on the construction of six exclusive lodges at Sherwood, which are expected to open in January 2016, and work has also started on the construction of four treehouses at Elveden. Work also commenced after the quarter-end on a 48-unit apartment complex at Elveden. The second phase of accommodation new builds at Woburn has also recently started, with the commencement of on-site works for 18 lodges, which are expected to open in late-summer 2016, which will then be followed by the construction of a further 57 new lodges.”

Domino’s finance boss steps down, losing two finance bosses in a year is ‘careless’ says Peel Hunt: Domino’s Pizza has announces chief financial officer Paul Doughty has tendered his resignation and will step down from the board at the end of the calendar year. The company has started a process of recruiting his replacement and will update the market accordingly. In the meantime chief executive David Wild, will assume responsibility for the group’s finance activities, supported by the internal team. The company added: “The board takes this opportunity to reiterate the outlook statement from 14 October 2015, which highlighted the strong performance of the business during the third quarter and the solid start to the fourth quarter. The board remains comfortable with current market expectations for full-year 2015 results.” Nick Batram, leisure analyst at Peel Hunt, said: “Losing two chief financial officers in a year is bordering on careless and does raise questions about the executive working environment. The short-term reaction is likely to be negative. However, the underlying business remains strong and we see room for upgrades for 2015 and beyond. Also, unlike others, living wage is not a distraction for Domino’s. Given this, over the medium-term we still expect the shares to outperform.”

JD Wetherspoon wins go-ahead for pub in Midsomer Norton: Bath and North East Somerset Council has granted permission for a JD Wetherspoon pub to open in the former cinema in Midsomer Norton’(population: 10,997). The pub chain had initially hoped to open in the derelict building back in July but the scheme was delayed after roosting bats were discovered in the building and because of access concerns. The local authority agreed to allow JD Wetherspoon to transform the venue that has stood empty for more than 20 years by granting the change of use application provided a number of conditions can be met before it opens. These include landscaping the outdoor area, providing alternative homes for the bats roosting in the building by complying with Natural England licence requirements, and installation of ventilation systems.

Gosport-based Oakleaf Brewing Company starts operating first pub: Gosport-based Oakleaf Brewing Company has begun operating its first pub. The micro-brewery has reopened independent pub The Florist in Portsmouth. The pub is managed by Oakleaf sales representative and experienced publican Martyn Constable, who is turning it into a “thriving hub for real ale and craft beer fans”. Constable told the Portsmouth News: “We’re getting it off the ground and want to run it as a traditional-style pub, with no music, no karaoke or drink out of a bottle. This is a great opportunity for a small brewer to showcase more of its beers and other local products as well. It’s a chance to show people what’s at the smaller end of the market, as opposed to the national branded stuff.”

Revere to reopen Staffordshire pub next Friday: The Revere Pub Company, Marston’s premium pub-with-rooms brand, will reopen The Manor House of Whittington, near Kinver, Staffordshire, next Friday (27 November). The company has spent £1.5m refurbishing the site, formerly the Whittington Inn, which it took over in August, creating 40 jobs. As part of the project, the building’s yellow paintwork has been replaced with a new grey look and a garden area with seating has been created outside, reports the Express & Star. The inside of the pub has also been refurbished. It will serve wood-fired pizzas, steaks, craft beers and cocktails. The pub is reputed to have been built in 1310 by Sir William de Whittington, a knight of arms and owner of the land around Kinver. His grandson was Dick Whittington, who became Lord Mayor of London.

Robinsons creates new ‘mobile first’ digital platform: North west brewer and retailer Robinsons has created a new “mobile first” digital platform. The new site, designed and developed by Liverpool-based Mando Group, represents a marked change in the way Robinsons promotes its many offerings. Robinsons can now track visitors across multiple channels including mobile, tablet, desktop, email, and social media, allowing it to control audience experiences in the most relevant, timely and engaging way. The website also brings together previously separate portals, including those for existing and prospective licensees, retailers looking to stock its beers, and visitors to both the brewer’s visitor centre and its pubs. The new site also benefits each of Robinsons 300 pubs, boasting a new pub website for each, which integrates with social media, where individual publicans can promote their own events and generate additional footfall. Communications manager Daniella Martin, who headed up the project, told The Drum: “This new digital platform is a major investment for Robinsons and yet another sign of our commitment to the future. In addition to providing greater online visibility and driving business for Robinsons, we hope it will in turn increase footfall and revenue for our 300 pubs across the north west.”

Velocity buys Uncover reservation app: Velocity, the digital hospitality solution, has bought Uncover, the UK’s premier restaurant reservation app. Just nine months after launching, Uncover has 135,000 users and works with 350 of London’s most desirable restaurants, including Alain Ducasse Restaurants, Coya, LIMA, Restaurant Story, Taberna do Mercado, and The Clove Club. Uncover’s growth has been driven by its award-winning seamless user experience, for which it has been recognised by Apple as “Best App” more than ten times. With the Uncover acquisition, Velocity continues its consolidation of the restaurant tech space and its rapid expansion as the leading international digital hospitality service, connecting the world’s most sought-after venues with high-end diners and providing a seamless, personalised dining experience. “This acquisition brings class-leading, real-time reservations to Velocity, meaning we can add even more value to our restaurant partners, and further enrich our customers’ lives,” said Zia Yusuf, Velocity co-founder and co-chief executive. “Velocity diners spend considerably more than average, and shortly we will empower them to discover, reserve, settle the bill, and earn rewards all in one app, at 800 of the world’s finest venues.”

San Carlo receives top Italian accolade: San Carlo Restaurant Group has been awarded the “Gusto Italia UK” accolade at an event organised by the president of APCI-UK Carmelo Carnevale in collaboration with AIS Sicilia (Italian Association of Sommeliers, Sicily) with the support of the Italian Trade Agency, London. The award recognises the company as the best Italian gourmet restaurateur, chefs and sommeliers group in the UK. The award was received by group managing director Marcello Di Stefano, who dedicated it to his father and chairman Carlo Di Stefano. Also in attendance at Piccadilly’s Le Méridien hotel for the award presentation was The Consul General of Italy Massimiliano Mazzanti as well the director of the ICE Fortunato Celi Zullo, chefs Aldo Zilli, Enzo Oliveri and Giancarlo Caldesi.

Carluccio’s opening in Gloucester Quays: Carluccio’s is opening a site in Gloucester Quays on Sunday, 22 November. Simon Kossoff, chairman of Carluccio’s, told the Gloucester Citizen: “We’re delighted to have secured a site within Gloucester Quays. We’re very happy to be part of this exciting development and look forward to welcoming the people of Gloucester and their visitors to enjoy the restaurant, foodshop and deli.” Richard Rawlings, Gloucester Quays centre manager, added: “We are thrilled to welcome Carluccio’s to our successful food and drink offering.”

Former education consultant opens second Papa John’s franchise in a year, plans third: Former education consultant Abdul Kasan has opened his second Papa John’s franchise in a year. He opened his latest Papa John’s in Nottingham Bulwell – he opened his first site in Arnold. He said: “Nottingham Bulwell is situated on the north west of Nottingham city centre and there are around 30,000 people living in the local area and takeaways and food delivery are a popular part of the culture. Plus, our new Papa John’s store is situated next to the 24-hour Tesco, so we anticipate much passing trade from hungry grocery shoppers. Our first store in Arnold is just a couple of miles away and is always busy. The new store opening is an exciting development for the team and more will follow! We have already secured the site for our next Papa John’s which will open next year.”

First Scottish Borders distillery in 180 years secures £10m of funding: The first distillery in the Scottish Borders to be built in over 180 years is now one step closer to reality after The Three Stills Company (TTSC) secured £10m funding to spur the redevelopment of a disused industrial site in Hawick. TTSC has acquired a site in the town and will lodge plans to convert the buildings, which will include a visitor centre to complement existing local tourist attractions, in early 2016. Drinks industry veterans, the TTSC management team, Tim Carton, John Fordyce, Tony Roberts and George Tait have all held senior roles at global distillers William Grant & Sons. Director and project leader Fordyce also cut his professional teeth with the world’s leading industrial thread business, Coats, and it was this collective knowledge that settled the four founders upon Hawick as the location for the new distillery. TTSC attracted pledges from a group of prominent private investors led by the Edinburgh-based investment company Badenoch & Co, whose owner Malcolm Offord, will become TTSC chairman; the Ballande family in France (originating from the Scottish Lowlands and now an international, diversified and pioneering commercial group in France and the Asia Pacific region); Drake Enterprises (an international investment group headquartered in Switzerland with Scottish ancestry and a background in food retailing, real estate and agribusiness) and the Duke of Buccleuch.

Bars, restaurants and hotel plan in Belfast gets go-ahead: Plans to build a 206-bedrom hotel on the site of the former Belfast Metropolitan College Campus have been approved. The 14-storey mixed-use project will also comprise restaurants, bars, leisure accommodation, and meeting and conference space. In May, developer McAleer and Rushe submitted plans to Belfast City Council. The application was to build the 14-storey mixed-use scheme in the city centre, which the company said would “reflect the emerging local urban character” of surrounding buildings. The 206 rooms will be made up of 196 standard, single en-suite bedrooms and ten “universally accessible” rooms.

Norwich’s first dedicated gluten-free cafe to open next month: Norwich’s first dedicated gluten-free cafe is set to open next month. Louisa Kiddell and Tony Garrick, who run The Gluten-Free Shop at Hellesdon Barns, have been given the go-ahead for the cafe in Timberhill on the site of the former Jennie Cross Brides shop. The cafe, which will have a shop upstairs, will open from 8.30am-7pm on weekdays and Saturdays and 10am-4pm on Sundays. Garrick told the Eastern Daily Press: “There has been demand amongst our customers for us to open a shop in the city centre, and also for an eating establishment, so the new premises seemed like the logical next step.” Kiddell added: “We’re still developing the menu, but we are very excited that we will be able to offer something for everyone, whether people have coeliac disease or are following a gluten or wheat-free diet.”

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 also be 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

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 National Restaurant Association (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
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