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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Mon 7th Dec 2015 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

NewRiver Retail – we’ve invested in the pub sector for the long haul, appoints pub portfolio director: NewRiver Retail property director Allan Lockhart has told Propel the company has invested in the pub sector for the “long haul” and could grow its portfolio further in the future. The real estate company, which has assets of about £1bn, has a portfolio of 360 pubs following deals with Marston’s in 2013 and with Punch earlier this year. It has further strengthened its position by appointing Jackie Moody-McNamara as pub portfolio director to help develop relationships with tenants. The 202-strong Marston’s tranche is still managed by the pub company with two years still to run on the four-year agreement while the Punch estate of 158 sites is run by LT Management Services. And while some of the pubs, especially those bought from Marston’s, will have convenience stores developed on part of the site, Lockhart said the vast majority of the estate would remain as working pubs. He said: “A lot of people think we are interested in developing pubs and closing them down – it’s the complete opposite. We are in this for the long haul. While our focus will remain on shopping centres, about 15% of our portfolio is now pubs and we could make further acquisitions in the future. We have brought in Jackie, who has vast experience in the pub sector. She has worked for various pub and brewery companies and was even brought up in a pub – it’s very much in her DNA. This is very much a signal we are going to be long-term owners in the pub sector.” Lockhart added part of the appeal to investing in the pub industry was the sheer amount of data that was accessible. He added: “For example, I know exactly how much beer has been sold by a tenant – I just can’t get that sort of information with the tenants at our shopping centres. We know from this data what works and what doesn’t. It allows one to make better investment decisions around capex. Again, if a pub undergoes a refurbishment we can see quite quickly the results of that investment. If we do a revamp of the entrance of one of our shopping centres, we might not see those results for two to three years.” Lockhart called on the pub industry to work together to encourage more investment from companies like NewRiver as well as getting UK banks to start lending more money to the sector. He added: “Capital is so important. Very few banks are willing to lend to the pub sector. The industry needs to come together to promote itself more effectively to get the UK banks to view the sector as a good investment and bring more companies like NewRiver into the sector.”

The Sky and Propel Christmas Advent Calendar competition:

Win M&S Christmas hamper worth £100 in Sky and Propel Christmas Advent Calendar competition: A M&S Christmas hamper worth £100 is up for grabs (see terms and conditions here) in today’s Sky and Propel Christmas Advent Calendar competition. To be in with a chance of winning, answer the following question: In which sport do the British and Irish Lions compete? a) rugby union b) football c) cricket. Once you have chosen your answer, you can enter by clicking here. We will announce the winner in tomorrow’s newsletter along with providing the next question and the prize on offer. Congratulations to Cheryl Jacob, of The Blue Lion in Bloomsbury, central London, who was Friday’s winner of a 46-inch HD Smart television. Sky has partnered with Propel to give away a fabulous prize each working day until 22 December. Prizes still up for grabs include a free 12 months’ Sky subscription for a licensed venue, tickets to Barclays Premier League football matches, a rugby league match, an NFL match at Wembley and the 2016 British Grand Prix. There are also further M&S Christmas hampers worth £100 as well as more 46-inch HD Smart televisions to be won. Good luck!

Industry News:

Honest Burgers named as UK’s second fastest growing company in Sunday Times list: Honest Burgers, led by Tom Barton and Philip Eccles, has been named as the UK’s second fastest growing private company in the annual Sunday Times Fast Track 100 list. The company has achieved 205.87% sales growth in three years, achieving sales of £6.9m from ten sites. Bill’s Restaurants came 14th with 107.98% sales growth over three years. New World Trading Company was placed 20th in the list with 94.83% sales growth. BrewDog was placed 35th with 71.04% revenue growth. Giggling Squid claimed 42nd place with 68.44% top-line growth. Ed’s Easy Diner earned 66th position with 57.10% revenue expansion. Finally, Byron claimed 90th place with 46.67% growth. Five Guys and Red’s True Barbecue were named in a ancillary list of “Ten Rising Stars”.

Jamie Oliver’s Toronto restaurant to launch this week: Jamie Oliver is to launch his Toronto restaurant this week. Oliver has partnered with Toronto chef Rob Gentile and the King Street Food Company, which owns Italian eateries Buca and Bar Buca, for his new restaurant at the Yorkdale Shopping Centre. “I’ve worked in Canada for 15 years. Loved it. Get on really well with the people here,” Oliver said while visiting Toronto in October to promote his new cookbook “Everyday Super Food” and TV show “Jamie’s Super Food”. Of Jamie’s Italian, Oliver said: “It’s not trying to (serve) flashy food. We’re not waltzing in trying to be Billy Big Boy. It’s just really good comfort food, freshly cooked, good prices, high ethics, grass-fed, free-range, which is at the heart of all our restaurants. Trying to get it to the masses, really.”

Daniel Clifford opens first pub: Daniel Clifford, who holds two Michelin stars for his Midsummer House restaurant in Cambridge, has opened his first pub, the Flitch of Bacon in Little Dunmow, Cambridgeshire. Average spend is expected to be £27 for lunch, £35 for dinner. It has capacity for 50 diners inside and another 40 in the garden. All the food will be locally sourced apart from fish from Cornwall. It will be run by Clifford and head chef Daniel Gill, who has worked at Midsummer House for five years. The Flitch is still open as a pub for drinks only and it serves breakfast. Daniel Clifford will be cooking there on Sundays and Wednesdays. He said: “I have wanted to open a restaurant here for a few years. All the good places round here are full and people are going to eat in London. We wanted to provide something closer to home.”

Tom Kerridge receives honorary doctorate: Tom Kerridge, the only UK pub chef to hold two Michelin stars for The Hand and Flowers in Marlow, has received an honorary doctorate from the University of Gloucestershire. The chef went to school in Gloucester and went on to gain his two stars after opening The Hand and Flowers with his wife Beth in 2005. He received his award from Baroness Rennie Fritchie DBE, chancellor of the University of Gloucestershire, at The Centaur, Cheltenham.

Greene King IPA now sold in circa 90% of Spirit managed pubs: Greene King has moved quickly to capitalise on increased distribution for its brewing arm provided by the acquisition of Spirit Pub Company earlier this year, with its IPA brand now sold in circa 90% of Spirit’s managed pubs. Greene King reported its brewing division out-performance had been “enhanced by strong acceptance in Spirit pubs”. Own-brewed volumes rose 3.6% in Greene King’s financial First Half against a UK ale market up 0.8% – Greene King IPA volumes rose 6.9%.

NRA sues over salt warnings on restaurant menus in New York: US restaurant industry trade group The National Restaurant Association (NRA) is suing New York City’s Board of Health to stop it from enforcing a new rule requiring chain restaurants to post warnings on menu items that are high in salt. The NRA said the Board of Health unfairly burdened restaurant owners and usurped the power of the elected city council by forcing restaurants with more than 15 locations nationwide to warn diners about salty foods. Backed by Mayor Bill de Blasio, the rule, believed the first of its kind nationally, requires restaurants to post a salt shaker encased in a black triangle as a warning symbol next to any menu item with more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium, the daily limit many nutritionists recommend. New York City adopted the rule, which took effect last Tuesday, in an effort to help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Companies that violate the rule would be punished by a $200 fine, starting on March 1, 2016. In papers being filed with the state Supreme Court in Manhattan, the NRA likened the rule to former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s failed effort to curb sales of sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces (473ml). “The regulation, like the soda ban before it, is completely arbitrary in its scope, reach, and application,” the NRA said. “With the sodium mandate, the board has required the disclosure of just enough inaccurate and controversial information about sodium in certain food items to cause far-reaching negative consequences rather than help consumers and reduce public health risks.”

Management Today – Domino’s Pizza named as sector’s most admired company: Domino’s Pizza has comes top of Management Today’s poll of the UK’s most-admired companies in the restaurants and pubs sector. Marston’s came second followed by The Restaurant Group, with McDonald’s in fourth place and SSP Group taking fifth position.

Company News:

Admiral Taverns reports growth in turnover, operating profit and Ebitda: Admiral Taverns has reported turnover up 2.2% to £78.4m in the year to 30 May 2015. It also delivered absolute operating profit and Ebitda growth for the first time in eight years. Operating profit was up 82.4% to £24.9m (2014: £13.6m) and underlying Ebitda rose 5.3% to £24.9m (£23.6m). Underlying profit after tax up was by 13.7% to £11.6m (2014: £10.2m). Like-for-like income and Ebitda were both up 1.9%. Ebitda per pub rose 9%. Chief executive Kevin Georgel, said: “The last six years marks a transformational period for Admiral Taverns. Following a restructuring of the businesses in 2009, the Group’s management team was strengthened and a new strategy outlined to develop and maintain a sustainable, well invested estate of freehold pubs at the heart of their local communities. I am delighted to report that in the year to 30 May 2015 the group delivered absolute growth in turnover, operating profit and Ebitda for the first time in eight years and I would like to thank all our team and our licensees for their hard work and dedication. This demonstrates a very strong performance in what remains a challenging market place. Our strategy has remained unapologetically consistent and, despite the challenges presented to the industry by impending government legislation, we remain passionately committed to being the best operator of wet-led community pubs in the sector.”

Rick Stein plans Marlborough opening: Chef Rick Stein is hoping to open a new restaurant in Marlborough High Street. A planning application, as well as listed building consent, has been submitted to turn Lloran House, which was formerly clothing shops Wardrobe and Timeless Elegance, into a restaurant. The proposal says the venue would be set over the first and ground floor, which would also have a bar and booth seating areas. The basement would be used for the kitchen and the second floor as an office and staff changing room. It hopes to employ around 40 people and serve 102 covers, as well as help boost tourism in the area. The planning application states: “The purpose of the application is to facilitate the opening of a new Rick Stein restaurant in Marlborough. This will not only be the family’s first business within the town but also within Wiltshire. Having successfully developed several other restaurants and related operations in the south west, originating from Padstow, this family run business is keen to bring their unique brand of food into Marlborough. Whilst Marlborough has a thriving retail centre, its considerable tourist potential has arguably yet to be realised. As an internationally recognised brand, without any other local restaurants, the proposed occupier will be a new tourist feature within its own right. It will, therefore, give the area a unique draw for tourists, locals and related businesses that no other local centres have.”

Paragon Pub Company plans £1.5m investment in Staffordshire pub: Paragon Pub Company is lining up a £1.5m investment in The Broughton Arms, in Balterley, near Betley, Staffordshire, creating 35 jobs. The company owns The Wayfarer, in Stone, The Swan With Two Necks, at Blackbrook, as well as Trent Vale’s The Orange Tree Bar and Grill – which underwent a £1 million transformation two years ago. Director Richard Colclough said the company wants to keep the pub’s traditional exterior while creating a modern extension at the back. He said: “The plan is to convert the building into a large new restaurant. We will be retaining the front section of the building, which goes back 150 years, and demolishing the rear section, which houses some fairly ugly extensions that used to be function rooms. We have got to demolish about three quarters of the building, because it isn’t fit for purpose, and build a contemporary new building, with a new state-of-the-art kitchen. The restaurant will seat around 150 diners and what will be planned will be similar to the other restaurants we own. Although we will be keeping the pub at the front for the locals, it will be a restaurant-based business. It’s about bringing something different to the area.”

BrewDog to open two venues on one day next week: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog is to open two venues on one night next Friday (11 December). It opens in second Aberdeen site in Castlegate, located in the old Athenaeum building on the east end of Union Street. It features a ground-level bar with 16 craft beer lines, and hand-made speciality coffee from Dear Green in Glasgow. An on-site BottleDog will also be there, for the take-out market. Downstairs will be a further 12 craft beer options, plus live music. It will open to 2am (and 3am at weekends) and is called UnderDog. Meanwhile, it will open its sixth bar in London, this time located in Clerkenwell. The site also possesses a late licence, opening to 2am.

The Times reports Domino’s UK received approach to buy Germany business: The Times has reported that Domino’s Pizza UK has held talks over the sale of some or all of its troubled German business to the pizza delivery brand’s Australian franchisee. The Times claimed that Domino’s Pizza Enterprises, which holds the master franchise rights for Australia, New Zealand and Japan, as well as for France, Belgium and the Netherlands, approached its British counterpart about a deal on Germany early this year. The approach was rejected but The Times reported that the Australian franchisee remains interested in a deal, possibly buying a stake in the Germany business prior to an outright acquisition.

Fever nightclub company looks to expand into Basingstoke: Fever nightclub company is set to set to expand into Basingstoke. It has applied to Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council for a new premises licence for 27 and 27a Winchester Street, at the Top of The Town. The venue was formerly occupied by Italian restaurant Cafe Piccolo before it was taken over by Zeus and run as a nightclub for four months. Another nightclub, Stardust, then took over the venue, but it has been vacant since that closed down in 2013, shortly after opening. William Hill has also applied to the borough council to use the ground floor of the venue as a betting shop. The application to change the use of the premises to a betting shop was rejected by the council’s development control committee in August this year, because it went against the local authority’s vision for the Top of The Town. Bar Fever, which also runs nightclubs in Newbury and Cheltenham, hopes to play live music and recorded music in the upstairs part of the building from Sunday to Wednesday between 11am and 2am, and from Thursday to Saturday between 11am and 3am.

Benugo to launch house magazine Espress next Friday: Benugo, the cafe-deli and restaurant operator, will launch the first issue of its in-house magazine Espress next Friday (11 December). The complimentary magazine, which will be published quarterly, will feature articles and insights that celebrate culture and food. Espress will be distributed exclusively at 18 Benugo-operated restaurants, 16 shops and 18 public spaces, which include Barbican, V&A, Natural History Museum, Westminster Abbey, The Royal Parks, House of St Barnabas, Ashmolean, and English National Opera. Designed by London-based design studio Ico, Espress will focus on cultural content, drawing on a range of contributors across food and creative industries. The magazine’s name Espress, derives from the Italian “espressivo” meaning “expressive” or “eloquent”, words that inspired the magazine’s tone. Content will cover everything from interviews, design features, cultural news, recipes and industry profiles. Highlights from the first issue include a spotlight piece on Fitzrovia, a feature on London Science Museum’s major new exhibition Cosmonauts: Birth of the Space Age, and an opinion piece from Michelin-starred chef Kevin Thornton. The second issue will be published in March 2016.

New World Trading Company opens in Marlow: New World Trading Company has opened The Botanist in Marlow, with 180 covers and creating 45 jobs. The new bar venue replaces a retail unit and will sell cocktails and craft beers, plus deli and rotisserie food. Chris Hill, managing director of operators, for New World Trading Company, said: “We are excited to be opening The Botanist in a community which has such a passion for food and drink. We are looking forward to immersing ourselves in town life.”

Birmingham pub operator plans new community bakery: Soul Food Project, which was founded five years ago and runs The Church pub, an Everards pub, and Peel & Stone bakery, is hoping to launch a new community bakery in Harborne, Birmingham. The company has identified a former shop on the corner of High Street and Albert Road as an ideal site for the business. The Peel & Stone Bakery supplies specialist shops and restaurants with high class bread, as well as the revamped Waterstones. In the planning notes, the three-storey Victorian building is described as “dilapidated”. Co-founder Carl Finn said: “There is a long way to go in terms of the planning and licensing application before we know what we can do or when. The property has no shop front, no floor and no ceiling but it does have a postcode. Sometimes it’s easier to work with a blank canvas but I’ve no idea of any (opening) date.”

Chipotle to tighten supplier standards in wake of E. coli outbreak: Chipotle is making changes to its standards for produce suppliers as it improves food-safety protocols in a move that could eliminate some local suppliers next year. Chris Arnold, Chipotle’s communications director, said the company will reveal the new requirements for produce suppliers in the coming days. “Given those changes, we expect that some of our current local produce partners may not meet these new requirements, so we are not sure what the program will look like when it comes back in season next spring,” he said. Meanwhile, the chain has removed references to the use of local produce on its website, in part because the program is seasonal, running from June through October, and the season is over, Arnold said. “We removed the online references to the local program simply because we didn’t want to be over promising what the program (it) will include,” added Arnold. Chipotle is struggling with the aftermath of an E. coli outbreak that caused 45 people in six states to fall ill last month.

McDonald’s introduces loaded fries in Australia, begins offering all-day breakfast: McDonald’s has introduced loaded fries across its Australian estate: McDonald’s Loaded Fries will come topped with bacon and cheese sauce, or guacamole and salsa. The company said it introduced loaded fries to its menu as a direct response to what Australians want. “By adding guacamole and salsa, as well as bacon and cheese sauce to our fries, we’re following a trend our customers started,” McDonald’s Australia chief marketing officer Mark Lollback said. “While our fries are delicious by themselves, for a long time now Aussies have been experimenting with them, dunking and dipping them in everything from ketchup to our soft serve.” Meanwhile, the company is to introduce all-day breakfast across Australia in February 2016. All stores in Western Australia and South Australia are already offering breakfast. The remaining stores, including those in New South Wales and Queensland, will be the last to join in February 2016. 

Details of Jarrow Brewery administration emerge: More details have emerged about the administration of a company which was established to save a north east brewery. Jarrow Breweries was founded by the directors of Jarrow Brewery, which had been placed in liquidation, to acquire its assets and business. Jarrow Brewery was launched in 2004 and went on to produce thousands of barrels of cask and keg ale. It distributed through outlets across the north east, Yorkshire, Cumbria and Lincolnshire and in October 2014 revealed plans to expand following a move into a £500,000 facility. However, after running into cash flow problems liquidators were called in. Jarrow Breweries Ltd was then formed in the same month. According to a report to creditors filed by RSM Restructuring Advisory, director of the new entity Lewis Harvey was in the process of re-establishing the business following the acquisition. However, a “promise of investment” failing to materialise and a delay in obtaining a brewing license resulted in Jarrow Breweries having to cease trading. Harvey then appointed Steven Ross and Alan Kelly of RSM, then known as Baker Tilly, to the business on 1 September 2015. The administrators said that Jarrow Breweries could not trade during the administration due to a lack of premises and funding. A sale as a going concern was also deemed “not possible”.

Brewery owner negotiates free-of-tie lease at historic Spirit site: The owner of the historic Whitelock’s Ale House in Leeds has negotiated a new lease with landlord Spirit that enables it to sell its own craft ales and beer made by other independent Yorkshire breweries, alongside traditional beers from the region. Whitelock’s, which is celebrating its 300th anniversary this year and is one of the oldest existing licensed pubs in the city centre, was taken over by Ed Mason in 2012. Mason is also the proprietor of The Five Points Brewing Company in East London and The Deramore Arms in York. Whitelock’s was tied to Spirit, which meant Mason was unable to sell products from his own brewery but with the help of York-based Langleys Solicitors, he has negotiated a new free-of-tie lease. The brewery has won awards for its craft beers, which include Five Points Pale, Hook Island Red, Railway Porter and Five Points IPA. The pub, located off Briggate, is currently transforming its neglected function room into a speciality craft beer bar. Tim Cross, partner at Langleys Solicitors, added: “The new lease will give Ed the freedom to continue his evolution of this fantastic venue, while retaining the heritage that makes it such a popular choice for drinkers and diners.” Whitelock’s Ale House was first licensed as The Turk’s Head in 1715, when it catered for merchants and traders from Briggate market.

Marston’s re-launches heritage wine wholesaler WH Milner: Marston’s has revived its heritage wine wholesaler, WH Milner, as part of a new initiative for its on-trade customers. WH Milner was first introduced to the trade in 1972, and was re-launched in early November with a fresh, contemporary outlook to suit today’s market. It was Marston’s acquisition of the Thwaites beer business earlier this year that prompted the new venture, acquiring not only a range of premium ales including Wainwright & Lancaster Bomber, but also a full portfolio of wine. Victoria Chapman, wine development manager at Marston’s, has been working to integrate the portfolio into the Marston’s business, developing a range to appeal to all sectors of the on-trade. She said: “The launch of WH Milner is evidence of the change happening within our business – we now have a real focus on excellence in wines, spirits and other categories, which will undoubtedly support our great beer offer. The new brochure was delivered to customers in early November and we’re delighted with the response. It is supported by a range of wine services which we will continue to build on over the next few months, so we’re excited about the future with WH Milner.”

CVC Partners takes 40% stake in Moto: Private equity group CVC Capital Partners has taken a 40% stake in Moto, Britain’s biggest motorway service station network, in a deal thought to be worth about £400m. CVC bought the holding in the 45-station chain, which employs more than 6,000 people, from UK pension fund the Universities Superannuation Scheme. The deal is the second in a week by CVC’s $4.5bn (£3bn) strategic opportunities fund, which purchased Carlyle’s stake in RAC on Tuesday. CVC will hold almost half of the roadside recovery business in a sale that valued RAC at about £2.2bn. CVC is understood to have been attracted to Moto by what it sees as a “very resilient flow of captive customers” along with its strong brand name and high-quality property assets. The purchase is seen as a long-term investment over eight to 12 years, rather than the four- to five-year term that is normally targeted by private equity firms. CVC intends to grow Moto but is not anticipating any changes that motorists will notice in the short term. The strategic opportunities fund – one of the largest of its type in Europe – is aiming for a return of between 12% and 14% on Moto.

Costa Coffee lines up thirteenth point-of-sale in Dundee: Costa Coffee has lodged plans with the council to open a thirteenth outlet in Dundee. It is proposing to open a cafe in the former Monsoon shop in the Murraygate, which has been vacant since March. Costa already has five sit-in outlets in Dundee – at Reform Street, Brook Street in Broughty Ferry, the Overgate, Tesco in Riverside Drive and Waterstones in Commercial Street. It also has seven express units at various outlets across the city. But the firm says that this new addition would help bring more jobs to the city centre and add to the footfall. A report by property firm Savills, which is acting as the agent for the planning application, said: “The occupation of this vacant unit by Costa, a popular national multiple retailer, will contribute positively to this part of Dundee city centre.”

Award-winning micropub planning own brewery: The award-winning Butchers Dog micro-pub in Driffield is planning to open its own brewery. It currently sells micro-brewed beers that all come from within a 30-mile radius of Driffield. All cider on offer is in the traditional Somerset style and the soft drinks are from Fentimans. The Butchers Dog always aims to have two pale, two bitter and two dark ales available. Now, in January, The Butchers Dog will also be opening its own brewery on Skerne Road, which will be run by Tim Waudby. As well as winning the Pub of the Year award from Driffield Times and Post, The Butchers Dog has also won the Cider Pub of the Year award from the Hull and East Yorkshire division of CAMRA and was a finalist for Tourism and Hospitality at the Hull Daily Mail Business Awards.

European Commission probes McDonald’s £400m on untaxed franchise fees: McDonald’s has channeled more than £400m of its UK revenues through Luxembourg since 2009 in an scheme that is being probed by the European Commission. Last year, the UK operation of McDonald’s routed “franchise right fees” of £114m to a Luxembourg subsidiary, McD Europe Franchising, according Companies House documents. The Commission said two tax rulings given by the Luxembourg authorities in 2009 had allowed McDonald’s Europe Franchising to pay no corporation tax in Luxembourg since then, despite recording large profits. It added that in 2013, McDonald’s profits were more than €250m (£177m). Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of EU competition policy, said: “A tax ruling that agrees to McDonald’s paying no tax on their European royalties either in Luxembourg or in the US has to be looked at very carefully under EU state aid rules. The purpose of double-taxation treaties between countries is to avoid double taxation – not to justify double non-taxation.” A McDonald’s statement said: “McDonald’s complies with all tax laws and rules in Europe and pays a significant amount of corporate income tax. In fact, from 2010-14, the McDonald’s companies paid more than $2.1bn just in corporate taxes in the European Union, with an average tax rate of almost 27%. Additionally, we pay social, real estate and other taxes. Our independent franchisees, who own and operate approximately 75% of our restaurants in Europe, also pay corporate tax and many other taxes. We are confident that the inquiry will be resolved favourably.” Under the first tax ruling in March 2009, tax authorities in Luxembourg agreed to allow McDonald’s to pay no corporation tax on its European earnings in the country, as long as McDonald’s could prove that it paid tax on those earnings in the US each year. This was done to avoid McDonald’s becoming subject to double taxation in the EU and the US. It was subsequently discovered that McDonald’s earnings in the EU were not registered in the US for tax purposes, leaving McDonald’s no way to prove it had paid tax on its European royalties there.

City Pub Company raises £8m: City Pub Company, led by Clive Watson, has so far raised more than £8m through a preference share offer promising investors a return of more than 6%. It is looking to raise £15m to buy more pubs ahead of a possible flotation. The company is issuing preference shares paying a 6% coupon to wealth management groups and individual investors to raise cash to buy more pubs. The Mail on Sunday reported that directors of the company have bought 20% of the offer themselves. It plans to add a further 35 pubs over the next three years before a potential listing on the AIM market. In September, City Pub Company reported turnover increased significantly by 42% to £9 million (2014: £6.35 million) in the six months ended 30 June 2015. Ebitda grew 75% to £1.25 million (2014: £0.7 million). Its pub portfolio has expanded to 22 sites and the company opened two pubs in the period: Dalys, The Strand (WC2) and The Cock & Bottle, Notting Hill (W8). It has acquired a further four pubs post year-end: Java, George Street, Oxford, Smugglers on The Lanes, Brighton, The Bicycle Shop, Regents Street, Cambridge and The Prince Street Social, Queen Square, Bristol.

Drink-driving in Scotland falls by 12% after legal limit reduction: The number of drink-driving offences in Scotland has fallen since the legal limit was lowered a year ago. Police figures show offending in the nine months after December 2014 fell by 12.5% compared with the same period the previous year. The total number of offences over this period dropped from 4,208 to 3,682, Police Scotland data revealed. Meanwhile, a survey has suggested that 82% of Scots believe that drinking any alcohol before driving is unacceptable. The poll was commissioned by the Scottish government and Transport Scotland. Only one in 20 respondents said they would drive themselves home after they had been drinking on a night out. More than two thirds (67%) said they would not consider driving the morning after drinking. Last December, the Scottish government reduced the legal alcohol limit for driving from 80mg to 50mg in every 100ml of blood. The limit in England and Wales remains at 80mg. Justice secretary Michael Matheson said: “Since the Scottish government lowered the drink-drive limit last December, all the statistics are going in the right direction – fewer people are being caught, but more importantly there’s a shift in attitudes to even having one drink and driving, and indeed driving the next day after drinking.” Brigid Simmonds chief executive of the Scottish Beer & Pub Association, said: “We welcome any reduction in drink driving, but there is no doubt that the changes have put pressure on pubs, particularly in rural areas. We would like both the UK and the Scottish governments to help pubs in other ways, with strong support for further reductions in beer duty during this Parliament, and tackling the huge business rates burden faced by community and high street pubs, including further extension of the Small Business Bonus Scheme, and support for a new rate of VAT on pub and restaurant meals.”

Propel and Thinking Drinkers launch second Craft Beer Retail Study Tour: Propel is launching its second Craft Beer Retail Study Tour on Thursday 28 January in London, this time focusing on south London. The tour, led by Thinking Drinkers, award-winning beer writers Ben McFarland and Tom Sandham, will visit seven of London’s leading craft beer retailers in an eight-hour tour. McFarland and Sandham will provide the latest craft beer facts and figures, market segmentation analysis, and spot up-and-coming trends. Site visits will include Q&A sessions with London’s leading retailers, looking at award-winning sites, a hybrid bottle shop and bar, beer-centric retail, mobile canning, beer sourcing, direct sourcing, menus, brewing on-site and a host of other issues. The day includes lunch and breakfast and travel between venues by coach. Tickets are £345 for ALMR members and £395 for non-ALMR members. Email to book or to obtain further details

Final panel line-up confirmed for Propel and Elliotts Advanced Marketing Masterclass: The final panel line-up for the inaugural Advanced Marketing Masterclass has been confirmed. Elliotts strategy and development director James Hacon will leads a discussion with newly appointed Thai Leisure Group marketing director Iain White-Duncan and ETM Group marketing manager Zoe Knowles about where they see success, their plans for the future and other topics discussed throughout the day. Propel is partnering leading sector public relations and marketing firm Elliotts for the event, which takes place on Thursday, 14 January at One Moorgate Place in London. The day will provide an insight into all aspects of marketing including contributions from Novus Leisure and Brazilian barbecue restaurant Cabana about some of the marketing initiatives they have used to improve results for their business. It will also include the best ways to recognise and tell a brand’s story to maximise its PR or social media potential and how to develop and deliver effective digital initiatives. 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. 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 open 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

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