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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Thu 10th Dec 2015 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Post-Paris nervousness hits London’s eating and drinking out markets, like-for-likes down by 1.5%, restaurants experience biggest drop-off: London’s pub and restaurant trade saw sales dip in November in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks. Public nervousness about going out led to a 1.5% decline in like-for-like sales in the capital, with chain restaurants feeling the biggest impact, according to the latest figures from the industry’s sales barometer, the Coffer Peach Business Tracker. Restaurant groups saw collective like-for-likes inside the M25 down 2.6% on November last year, with managed pubs behind by 0.8%. “Although the rest of the country managed to deliver a slight sales uplift of 0.3% on the same month last year, the impact on London sales left managed pubs and restaurant groups nationally looking at an overall 0.2% like-for-like decline for the month,” said Peter Martin, vice-president of CGA Peach, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker, in partnership with Coffer Group, RSM (formerly Baker Tilly) and UBS. “When you consider that October had seen a 2.5% jump in like-for-like sales nationally, with London up 3.5%, you can see the scale of this November’s fall-back. Also November 2014 had seen a 3.4% increase on 2013. The public’s nervousness is understandable and it seems London has been affected both by a drop-off in tourist business and Londoners not staying out as long after work. Operators are reporting both reduced sales and cancellations of bookings, in restaurants and late-night venues. The difference between November trading in London and the rest of Britain is most marked in the casual dining sector, with the 2.6% London decline contrasting with 3.5% like-for-like growth away from the capital. London will be hoping that public confidence returns for the Christmas and new year festive season, in what should be the industry’s busiest trading period.” Among the 30 companies that make up the Tracker cohort, total sales, which include the impact of new openings, were ahead 3.5% nationally on November last year, although flat in London. Trevor Watson, director at Davis Coffer Lyons, part of the Coffer Group, said: “The international dimension seems to be having a significant impact on London in particular. Sterling has strengthened considerably over the last year, which is likely to be having an adverse effect on the spending of overseas visitors who make up a large proportion of London diners. This longer term effect, combined with the short term effect of the Paris bombings, is resulting in weak statistics for London in November. With the local London economy overall in good health, operators should however continue to look forward to a strong December.”

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: How many points is the bullseye worth in darts? a) 50 b) 100 c) ten. 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 Ali Allawa, from The Yard in Ilkley, West Yorkshire, who was yesterday’s winner of two rugby league match tickets. 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 an NFL match at Wembley, the 2016 British Grand Prix and Barclays Premier League football matches. There is also another M&S Christmas hamper worth £100 as well as 46-inch HD Smart televisions to be won. Good luck!

Industry News:

Tim Martin slams Sir Ian Gilmore for ‘misleading the public’ over alcohol link to dementia: JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin has slammed former head of the Royal College of Physicians Sir Ian Gilmore for “misleading the public” by claiming drinking alcohol increases the risk of dementia. Martin made the comments following the publication of research in October that countered Sir Ian’s report to the government health organisation NICE, with leading science writer Tony Edwards providing evidence that drinking alcohol in moderation actually prevents the illness. Writing in the latest edition of the company magazine Wetherspoon News, Martin said: “This is the same Gilmore (as then he was), I think, who, assisted the major brewers (I kid you not) in opposing Wetherspoon’s licence applications for new pub licences in the 1980s and 1990s. It’s also the same Gilmore who advocated legalising heroin and cocaine, as reported in various newspaper articles in about 2010. Logic and consistency of argument are not the professor’s strong points. As far as I’m concerned, Gilmore was not telling the truth in his report to NICE, and NICE, itself, is not telling the truth, by implication, of not retracting the information, which it sent out, based on what Gilmore said. The attitude, which is implicit in the approach of NICE and Gilmore, is that it is legitimate to mislead the public in pursuance of the objective of persuading people to reduce their alcohol consumption, even if, perversely, it leads to an increased incidence of dementia. This is not a line of reasoning with which most people would agree.”

HospitalityGEM – availability of ‘free from’ foods when eating out has improved but more still needs to be done: Customers feel the availability of “free from” foods when eating out has improved particularly at restaurants but more still needs to be done, according to a new survey. Twelve months after the introduction of the EU Food Information for Consumers legislation, 89% of people surveyed by guest experience management experts HospitalityGEM felt it had improved. Restaurants are the clear leader in providing the best choice of dishes with 72% of respondents recognising this. When it comes to eating out, 23% said they had special dietary requirements, with vegetarianism the number one need, and shellfish the most avoided food (44%). Women are twice as likely to identify as having special food requirements, with just 14% of men saying they do. Those aged 36-45 years old are also most likely to have dietary needs. The survey also found 58% felt while the ingredients in dishes are clearly communicated by operators, there is room for improvement. 30% said team members were not well trained on the ingredients in dishes. While restaurants were highlighted as having the best choice of “free from” dishes, 0% identified takeaways with fast food outlets not far behind at 2%. The lack of choice of suitable dishes at these venues is the greatest concern for those who have special dietary requirements (40%). For grab-and-go outlets, M&S Foodhall was seen as the best caterer for those with special dietary requirements (43%) followed by Pret A Manger (18%). HospitalityGEM managing director Steven Pike said: “One year on from the introduction of the EU allergen legislation and it’s clear many operators are doing what they can to make consumers more confident when eating out, through clearer communication about ingredients and a greater range of ‘free-from’ dishes. However, the identification of staff training as an area in need of improvement should encourage the operator to look hard at their sites and how team members are briefed on this important aspect of food service. It should be part of any induction and also revisited regularly as menus and teams change.”

Greene King survey reveals secrets of UK pub quiz-goers: Teachers have been named as the most sought-after profession on a pub quiz team, according to a Greene King survey. The hundreds of thousands of UK teachers narrowly beat medical professionals and librarians into claiming the title of most coveted pub quiz team member. Almost two thirds (61%) of UK consumers have taken part in a pub quiz, making it one of the nation’s favourite pastimes. Beer or lager was found to be the drink of choice for players, while general knowledge and trivia their favourite round. The research was undertaken with more than 1,000 pub quiz-goers in the UK. The report, “The Iconic British Pub Quiz”, is thought to be the biggest ever piece of research undertaken into pub quizzes. Highlights include: The Chase’s Bradley Walsh named as the ideal pub quiz host and sport is the most disliked round in a pub quiz. Richard Lewis, managing director of Greene King retail pubs, said: “So many of us have taken part in a pub quiz, but whether that was once ten years ago or loyally visiting every week, the true extent of our love affair with the humble pub quiz is an unspoken British secret. As the home of the pub quiz, we wanted to undertake this project at Greene King to reveal more about what we think is a fairly unique part of British culture. Just like the light-hearted, friendly competition during a quiz, the results of the research are something we can debate and hopefully give this beloved pub game the attention it deserves.”

Jamie Oliver to close last Recipease cookery shop on Christmas Eve: Jamie Oliver will close the last of his cookery shops on Christmas Eve. The chef-entrepreneur is shutting Recipease in Notting Hill, west London, which employs more than 40 staff, reports The Times. The store contains a cookery school, which the company hopes to reopen elsewhere, a cafe and shop. The company said about half the staff will be employed elsewhere in Oliver’s retail empire and all staff will be paid until 31 December. They had gone through a “very thorough six-week consultation process”. Oliver attracted controversy last year when he closed the other two Recipease stores in Clapham, south west London, and Brighton, with staff being told to leave in the middle of a shift. A spokesman for Oliver said: “Over the last year, the Jamie Oliver Group has made the decision to focus on core businesses and this has meant streamlining the company in certain areas. As part of this effort, the group has decided to close the last Recipease store in Notting Hill. The store will remain open until the end of the year while we do our best to find opportunities elsewhere in the business for employees. While the Notting Hill site is not the right premises for us, we do hope to reopen the cookery school in an appropriate location. The cookery classes remain core to the Jamie Oliver philosophy of empowering people to make educated choices about food and we will update when we have something to announce.”

Chipotle reveals plans to become ‘best in the world’ at food safety: Chipotle Mexican Grill has revealed plans to become the “best in the world” at food safety. In a presentation to Wall Street analysts at the annual Bernstein Consumer Summit in New York, company officials laid out a plan for improving food safety that they contend will put Chipotle ten to 20 years ahead of industry norms. The company is investing heavily in food safety with new protocols that will include more testing of fresh produce, reports Nation’s Restaurant News. Chipotle chairman, founder and co-chief executive Steve Ells said: “We have this desire to be the safest place to eat. We’re serving extraordinary quality ingredients, and that’s been something in place for many, many years now, and we’re best in the world at that. We’re going to be the best in the world at food safety, and we’re taking this very, very seriously.” Just as suppliers are asked to meet certain standards under the chain’s Food With Integrity mission, produce suppliers will be held to higher standards in terms of food safety, Ells said. For example, Chipotle has begun dicing tomatoes in a commissary, putting them through a “sanitary kill step” to eliminate pathogens, and hermetically sealing them for delivery to restaurants. Chipotle is still dealing with the aftermath of an E. coli outbreak that so far has affected 52 people in nine states and it is expected to report negative same-store sales for its 31 December-ended fourth quarter for the first time since it became a public company in 2006.

David Forde becomes chief executive of BBPA: David Forde, managing director of Heineken UK, has become British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) chairman at the association’s annual general meeting. He succeeds Jonathan Neame, chief executive of Shepherd Neame, who completes three-and-a-half successful years. Forde has been with Heineken for 27 years and took up his current role as managing director of Heineken UK in 2013. He already plays an active role in the work of the BBPA, serving on the BBPA board since January 2015. In a further new appointment, Simon Emeny, chief executive of Fuller’s, who is already a BBPA board member, becomes a BBPA vice-chairman, jointly with Simon Townsend of Enterprise Inns. BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “I congratulate David, who brings huge strengths and experience to this leading industry role, and we all look forward to working with him in the year ahead. I would also like to thank Jonathan Neame, who has been a hugely successful chairman these past three years, and we are so grateful to him for his service to the industry. I would like to highlight his work helping the industry achieve a hat-trick of beer duty cuts. I know he will continue to play an active and influential role in our work.”

No evidence to support e-cigarette ban: Following the Welsh government’s decision to amend plans for a ban on e-cigarettes in public places, the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) has argued any ban incorporating licensed hospitality venues is likely to be unhelpful. Welsh health minister Mark Drakeford announced a change to the Public Health Bill, withdrawing plans to ban the use of electronic cigarettes in all public spaces, but maintaining the ban in various spaces including eating places. ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The Welsh government has acknowledged that there is widespread opposition to its health bill, but continues to push forward with proposals despite a lack of evidence of harm. By its own admission, there is no proof that e-cigarettes cause substantial harm and yet the Welsh government is looking to enact legislation that has the potential to seriously disrupt trade for hospitality businesses. Pubs, bars and nightclubs have their own policies regarding the use of electronic cigarettes within their venues and we see no reason why any such policy should not be at the discretion of the licensee. Unless we are presented with evidence that the use of such devices in a pub, bar or restaurant, comes with significant risk, heavy-handed legislation such as this should be avoided.”

ALMR seeks to hire director of communications: The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR), the trade body for more than 200 eating and drinking out businesses, is looking to hire a director of communications. Chief executive Kate Nicholls told Propel: “The ALMR has had an incredibly busy and successful year. Operator membership is up 26%, with an explosion of interest from casual dining – we now represent over 6,600 restaurants – and at the same time we have cemented our reputation in the pub, bar and nightclub market with exciting research projects and a late night conference launched. We’ve already invested heavily in our campaigning, but we have even bigger ambitions for 2016 and the time is now right to further strengthen our senior management team and a new director of communications will increase our effectiveness, reach and ensure we continue to deliver our members’ vision.” The closing date is 5pm on Friday, 8 January.

Company News:

Davy’s reports turnover increase but fall in pre-tax profit: London wine bar operator Davy’s has reported an increase in turnover but a fall in pre-tax profit. The company saw turnover up to £12,408,621 for the year ending 28 March 2015, compared to £12,293,359 the previous year, according to accounts filed with Companies House. Pre-tax profit fell to £484,456, compared to £813,052 the year before. The company stated: “Turnover was up 0.8% in the year. After taking account of changes in the number of bars, like-for-like sales showed continued growth and were up 4.7%. The directors’ continued rolling investment programme saw the refurbishment of a number of bars completed. In August 2015 the company acquired the share capital and business of EI Vinos. Profits before tax were lower than last year reflecting a drop of £200,736 in one-off exceptional items and the costs of closing bars where leases were ended to allow for buildings’ redevelopment.”

Shake Shack to open third UK site next Friday:
Shake Shack will open its third UK site next Friday (18 December). The company is launching the new venue on the ground floor of 80 New Oxford Street in London – a short walk from Tottenham Court Road underground station. It will serve its usual menu including the ShackBurger, made from 100% all-natural Angus beef burgers, griddled flat-top dogs and freshly made frozen custard as well as beer and wine. Shake Shack UK business director Nigel Sherwood said: “We’re looking forward to deepening our relationships with long-time local producers and connecting with even more Londoners in the community. New Oxford Street is thriving, and this is the right time and perfect place to launch our third London Shack.” In keeping with tradition, Shake Shack has partnered with local charity Centrepoint, which provides safe and supportive accommodation for homeless youth, to donate 5% of sales from the New Oxford Street site. Shake Shack’s other two UK sites are both in London – at Covent Garden and the Westfield shopping centre in Stratford.

200 Degrees roaster and retailer retains property agent for expansion drive: Agent FHP have been instructed by Nottingham’s specialist coffee roaster and retailer 200 Degrees to find new premises across the UK for its artisanal coffee house offer. Target locations include Derby, Leicester, Birmingham, Solihull, Leeds, Sheffield, York and Harrogate and the traditional university cities of Cambridge and Oxford. Quirky locations and unique buildings are being sought from 1,500 square foot to 2,000 square foot with additional storage, at rents of up to £100,000 per annum. It has an existing site on Nottingham’s Flying Horse Walk and is planning a second cafe is to open next year at Nottingham train station. Ben Tebbutt, of FHP, said: “We are delighted to be involved in taking this Nottingham born coffee house to the wider realms of the UK, to bring other cities the taste of Nottingham’s best coffee, the ‘Brazilian Love Affair’. Through our contacts of agents and landlords, we have already highlighted a number of potential opportunities.” Tom Vincent, of 200 Degrees, added: “We have spent the last two years not only perfecting our coffee but also our customer experience and we are ready to roll-out our brand.”

Boston College reports at least 80 students taken ill after eating at Chipotle: At least 80 Boston College, Massachusetts, students have fallen ill after eating at Chipotle Mexican Grill, according to a statement from the college. It said: “The number of Boston College students who have reported to Boston College health services with gastrointestinal symptoms has risen to 80. All 80 students have confirmed that they ate at the Chipotle Restaurant in Cleveland Circle (Boston) during the weekend. All have been tested for both E. coli and the norovirus. Test results will not be available for at least two days.” On Monday, Chipotle closed the location as officials investigated reports of food-borne illness that left some customers sick, including players on the Boston College basketball team. Earlier, Chipotle said health officials in Boston believe food-borne illness at one of its Massachusetts locations is likely to be norovirus. It noted it appears to be “norovirus isolated to this location”. The company said so far there are no reports of illness from any other restaurants in the state. In recent weeks, officials have been investigating a multistate outbreak of E. coli linked to the company. To date, 52 cases of E. coli in nine states have been reported. In its latest annual report, Chipotle said it may be at a higher risk of food-borne illness than some competitors due to its “use of fresh produce and meats rather than frozen” and “reliance on employees cooking with traditional methods rather than automation”.

Turtle Bay to open first restaurant in Wales tomorrow
: Caribbean restaurant Turtle Bay will open its first site in Wales tomorrow (Friday, 11 December). The company will open the venue in Cardiff on the ground floor of the former post office in St Mary Street, creating 60 jobs. It has invested £800,000 in the site, which extends to nearly 5,000 square foot. The Cardiff restaurant is the 23rd for Turtle Bay, which was founded by Ajith Jayawickrema in 2010. Manager Sean Anthony told Wales Online: “It’s an amazing brand and the decoration of the place looks great – it really stands out. St Mary Street has really changed over the past 20 years, as has the city. It’s fascinating to see how many interesting restaurants have moved in, and so there’s now a real feeling of diversity around.”

Birmingham burger vendor to open first permanent site tomorrow:
Birmingham burger vendor Original Patty Men will open its first permanent site tomorrow (Friday, 11 December). The concept, founded by Scott O’Byrne and Tom Maher, is opening the 33-seat restaurant at Shaws Passage in Digbeth. Byrne and Maher have teamed up with Reading-based craft beer specialist Siren Craft Brew for the new venture. There are four taps that will feature two regular beers and two rotating. The restaurant’s interior has an industrial feel with lots of quirky bulbs on the walls. 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.”

Chimichanga signs for Intu Derby scheme: Tex-Mex restaurant Chimichanga, the brand owned by Prezzo, has become the latest brand to sign to open at the Intu Derby shopping centre. It will join other restaurants including Zizzi, Byron Burger, YO! Sushi and The Restaurant Group brand Joe’s Kitchen at the complex as it strengthens its East Midlands blueprint. Chimichanga marketing director Christian Poole told Business Insider: “We’re looking forward to welcoming customers to our new restaurant at Intu Derby. The location will be a great addition for us in the East Midlands and will extend our UK coverage.” Intu has also applied to add an additional 40,000 square foot of leisure facilities to the centre, with a decision expected in December. Intu regional director Martin Breeden said: “This closes off a great year of lettings at Intu Derby and also a great year of trading where we are set to beat 25 million customer visits. The restaurant and leisure offer is key to encouraging customers to visit more often and stay for longer.”

Wirral-based restaurateur acquires Cheshire hotel for £950,000: Wirral-based restaurateur Helen Demetrious has acquired the Brook Meadow Country House Hotel, near Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, for £950,000. Demetrious, who owns Sheldrakes restaurant in Lower Heswall, plans to develop the hotel into a refurbished restaurant, bar and wedding venue, which will open next year. The property in Childer Thornton comprises 25 en-suite bedrooms, a lounge and bar, conservatory and a dining room. The site also houses four function suites with room for up to 200 guests. Demetrious told Bdaily: “Brook Meadow shall be revitalised not just as a hotel but as a tavern because I plan to create a fantastic inn called The Drunken Monk, taking the inn back to the time when monks called Brook Meadow their home with open fires, local produce and beers from micro-breweries. The refurbishment is not limited to the inn because the Great Hall will also undergo a transformation, making it the boutique wedding venue for 2016 and a tourist attraction and superior venue on the Wirral.” Colliers International secured the deal on behalf of Adiwell, the hotel’s former owner. First constructed as a family home in the 1800s, the site was used by monks in the 1960s before becoming a hotel in 1983.

Brixton bar owners to launch healthy cafe and cocktail bar concept in Herne Hill: Chris Edwards and Dave Treganza, the team behind “drinks consultancy” Salts of the Earth and the cocktail bar-restaurant The Shrub & Shutter in Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, are to launch a new concept in Herne Hill. The duo is opening cafe and cocktail bar First Aid Box in Dulwich Road, themed on “health, nutrition and doctor’s orders” this month, reports Brixton Buzz. The bar will serve Alchemy coffee and fresh juices throughout the day and will be dispensing “health inspired cocktails” with chef Joe Knowlden creating a menu of raw fish and meat and cheese and charcuterie from local suppliers, with ceviche, carpaccios, salads and fresh locally sourced vegetables served alongside daily specials. The cocktails will include Brockwell Park Bramble featuring Whitley Neill gin, fresh lemon and sugar with a Chambord syringe and Rum-pull-milk-skin, which contains Atlantic reserve, oats, calcium, golden syrup and nutmeg.

New coffee bar concept to open in Barry on Tuesday: A new coffee bar concept will open in Barry, Wales, on Tuesday (15 December). Dru and Louise Thomas are launching Academy Espresso at the redeveloped Pumphouse on the waterfront. The bar will serve “high quality” coffee as well as craft beers and artisan food. The husband and wife team said their aim is to give people in Barry a hub to visit and relax or work, aided by a cup of quality coffee and free Wi-Fi. Dru Thomas told the Barry & District News: “We used to drive past this building, we’ve always loved it and we’ve always dreamed of opening a coffee shop so when the opportunity came up we just grabbed it with both hands.” Louise Thomas added: “We just love coffee, we’re obsessed with coffee and the culture that goes with it. We’re working with Clifton Roasters from Bristol, who are amazing, to bring good quality coffee to Barry.” The Thomas’ will be joined at the Pumphouse site by Cardiff-based street food concept Hang Fire Smokehouse, which is opening its first restaurant in February.

Malmaison owner buys Brighton marina site in four-site deal: Malmaison and Hotel du Vin owner Frasers Hospitality has bought a 71-room hotel set on the Brighton Marina waterfront as part of a £36m deal. Frasers Hospitality has acquired a portfolio of four hotels in the UK, including Brighton’s Hotel Seattle, for a sum of £36.1m from Swire Properties Hotels Holdings. The portfolio also includes Avon Gorge Hotel in Bristol, Magdalen Chapter in Exeter and Montpellier Chapter in Cheltenham. The properties were acquired by Frasers Hospitality’s subsidiary, Malmaison and Hotel du Vin Property Holdings. This acquisition follows Frasers Hospitality’s recent purchase of the Malmaison and Hotel du Vin group, which comprises 29 upscale lifestyle boutique hotels, for £363.4m. The hotels will continue to operate under their existing names until 2016 when development plans will be revealed for each of the hotels. Choe Peng Sum, chief executive of Frasers Hospitality, said: “These four stylish and iconic hotels in their respective cities are a perfect fit for Malmaison and Hotel du Vin, and this acquisition is clearly in line with the group’s expansion strategy of the brands within the UK, Europe and Asia. With these two best-in-class lifestyle brands, we are on track to achieve our goal of operating 30,000 keys by 2019.” The deal brings Frasers Hospitality’s global portfolio to 136 properties across 78 cities.

Brighton ethical chicken brand Hen passes 65% mark in £100,000 fund-raise on Crowdcube:
Hen, the ethical chicken brand founded in Brighton by Philip Ilic, has passed the 65% mark as it looks to raise £100,000 on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube. The company is offering 11.76% equity as it looks to raise funds to expand into London by opening a second site among other projects. So far it has seen 99 investors pledge £66,040 with seven days remaining. The largest investment to date is £15,000. The pitch states: “Hen is a much loved, ‘honest’ chicken shop, with an ethical twist and big plans. For too long we have had to endure the unethical and unhealthy high street chicken shops, Hen is here to change this. We opened our first restaurant in Brighton in December 2014 and we are now ready to build on this initial success and expand the concept with help from the ‘crowd’ and confirmed angel investment.”

Tonkotsu secures fifth site: Agent Shelley Sandzer has secured a 750 sq ft site for ramen restaurant brand Tonkotsu. Located at 7 Blenheim Cresent, Notting Hill, it will have space for 18 covers and is due to open in the first quarter of 2016. Tonkotsu is named after a creamy ramen typical in Kyushu, Japan’s most southern island, but found all over Japan. The new restaurant will be the fifth stand-alone site for the brand, which currently also runs a concession in Selfridges on Oxford Street. To add to its credentials, Tonkotsu has launched its own range of Japanese chilli oil, now available in Whole Foods, and won the ‘Best Cheap Eats’ award at the Observer Food Monthly Awards 2013. Ken Yamada, owner of Tonkotsu, added: “We are ecstatic to have acquired this site in Notting Hill. It will be our first West London Tonkotsu and is perfect for our new open kitchen and bar set up. Leo from Shelly Sandzer worked tirelessly on the deal, we could not have asked for more from him.”

Christie + Co – impact of NLW will depend on local price elasticity: Property agent Christie + Co has released a new report gauging initial reactions to the National Living Wage’s (NLW) impact on the UK labour market from key players in UK business. Some 65% of employees are below 25 and not eligible for the NLW, it is possible that the impact on the industry will be mitigated if this age structure is maintained, the company stated. Neil Morgan, head of pubs at Christie + Co, said: “The combination of pension auto-enrolment and the NLW will have a huge impact on the sector and the extent will partly depend on the type of operator, and how prepared they are. With such a diverse offering within the sector there is no rule of thumb, with some operators able to pass the cost directly onto consumers. However, for those located in highly competitive, price-sensitive areas, this may not be an option. Increasing prices will certainly be a challenge for many of the major nationals who operate off lower margins to drive volume. Operators with more flexibility to increase prices will have to manage this carefully to avoid damaging their operating model and market share. Inevitably, margins are going to be squeezed and in the longer term, other actions will have to be taken to compensate for this, whether it is a reduction in staff or reduced investment in facilities. As history has shown, where margins are tight, less capital is allocated to repairs and improvements, which in turn impacts stock quality and the ability to push prices up. Suppliers will be facing a similar challenge to the pubs sector, with some passing the increased cost on to consumers and others taking on the burden. Independent operators are more likely to switch suppliers in order to find cost savings at any level.”

New fusion cafe-deli concept opens in former pub in Stokesley: A new fusion cafe-deli concept has opened in a former pub in Stokesley, North Yorkshire. Tan and Misba Ellahi have launched Ootys in part of the former Station pub in Station Road. The venue serves an Indian-inspired menu including grilled chicken kebabs and onion bhajis with mint chutney in a choice of bun, wrap or baguette. There are also salad boxes, sandwiches and a selection of cakes on offer. Tan Ellahi told Gazette Live: “When the building came up, I thought it would be the perfect place. The building itself was The Station pub and part of the old railway station, and what we have done is convert part of it into this cafe-deli. It’s all about food with a fusion twist.”

Local operator buys protected pub after a two-an-a-half year marketing period: Local pub operator Sue Hawkins has bought the Quart Pot in Milton-under-Wychwood after a protracted marketing period of two-and-a-half years. Delays were incurred as the premises were listed as an Asset of Community Value, needed complete refurbishment and were also adjacent to a development site. Milton-under-Wychwood is located in the heart of the Cotswolds and the property is situated in a prominent position in the centre of the village, which is resident to a population of roughly 1,558 people. Chris Irving, from Fleurets, said: “I am pleased to have sold the Quart Pot to a local pub operator and so the village will once again have a village pub, once the premises have been refurbished. The premises were sold off a guide price of £225,000.” Hawkins added: “My niece Rachel and I are delighted to have become the new owners of The Quart Pot in Milton under Wychwood. Once we have completed a comprehensive refurbishment of the site we will relaunch at the end of February with a new look, a new name and the injection of enthusiasm this lovely old pub deserves. Having recently won a national award for turning an under achieving local pub into a roaring success, we are hoping we can do the same with this fantastic project!”

Norton Motorcycles boss buys Derbyshire site from Julia Hands’ hotel business: The chief executive of Norton Motorcycles has expanded his hotel business with the addition of a Derbyshire site. Stuart Garner owns and operates Donington Hall and has now bought the nearby Priest House Hotel. The Priest House was sold by Hand Picked Hotels, which instructed Christie + Co to market the property in July. Garner said the combination of Donington Hall and The Priest House Hotel “makes perfect sense”. “It gives operational scale and a fabulous offering to our clients,” he said. “With a combined 80 acres of grounds, bordered by an ancient deer park and the River Tent our location is second to none.” Julia Hands, chairman and chief executive of Hand Picked Hotels, added: “The Priest House is an attractive property in a lovely setting. However, we do have a concentration of hotels in the Midlands, with gaps elsewhere geographically which we would like to fill. We are keen to add additional slightly larger hotels to the Hand Picked Hotels collection and we continue to search for hotels in strategic locations across the UK.”

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 Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (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, ETM Group group marketing manager Zoe Knowles and Greene King partnership director Russell Danks 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 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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