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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Mon 14th Dec 2015 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

JD Wetherspoon hacker claims it took 15 minutes to hack database: The hacker who stole details of 650,000 JD Wetherspoon customers claims it took 15 minutes to access the data. Tech website Motherboard has reported that one of its reporters was approached by the hacker who carried out the attack. The stolen database contained the details of customers who signed up to receive Wetherspoon’s newsletter, registered with The Cloud to use Wi-Fi in its pubs, submitted a ‘contact us’ form on the website or bought vouchers online before August 2014. The hacker identified himself as ‘Ropertus’ and proved his credentials by sending the website an email whose details matched those provided in an advert for the stolen data. The hacker claimed that the breach “wasn’t complicated whatsoever”. The hacker added: “The vulnerability took no more than 15 minutes to find through manual searching and analysis.” According to Motherboard, Ropertus has been advertising Wetherspoon’s data since at least 27 September on w0rm, a forum and online marketplace owned by a Russian hacker. No fixed price has been put on the stolen Wetherspoon data – instead, individuals messaged Ropertus to make their own offer. Ropertus added: “I would price (the value of the stolen data) at US $750 to US $1000 for the whole lot.” He has now decided not to sell the Wetherspoon data telling Motherboard: “I’ve made the decision not to sell it for a number of reasons, one of which is to further protect my identity. I did it simply because I could, and to serve as knowledge being put into practice.” On its website, JD Wetherspoon tells customers: “You should remain vigilant for any emails that you are not expecting, that ask you for personal or financial information or request you to click on links or download information. We recommend that if you are contacted by anyone asking you for personal data or passwords (such as for your bank account details), please take all steps to check the true identity of the organisation. It is also recommended that you do not use the same password across a number of systems or websites, whether at work or at home.”

Sky and Propel Christmas Advent Calendar:

Win two Barclays Premier League football match tickets in Sky and Propel Christmas Advent Calendar competition: Two tickets to a Barclays Premier League football match of the winner’s choice are to be won (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: Which team was relegated on the last day of the 2014/15 Barclays Premier League season live on Sky Sports? a) Man City b) Liverpool c) Hull City. Once you have chosen your answer, you can enter by clicking here. We will announce the winner in Tuesday’s newsletter along with providing the next question and the prize on offer. Congratulations to Mark James, of the Ford Sports & Social Club in Ilford, Essex, 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 an NFL match at Wembley, the 2016 British Grand Prix and another Barclays Premier League football match. There is also a M&S Christmas hamper worth £100 as well as another 46-inch HD Smart television to be won. Good luck! 

Industry News:

UK food and drink manufacturing grows by 6% to a total of 8,225 firms: The UK food and drink manufacturing sector grew by 6% in 2014 to a total of 8,225 firms, according to analysis of the latest official ONS data by Santander Corporate & Commercial. Figures from the Food and Drink Federation reveal the sector is the largest manufacturing segment in the UK, with a turnover of £95.4 billion, accounting for 18.3% of the total manufacturing sector by turnover. The sector exports almost £12.8 billion of food and non-alcohol drink products a year, 75% of which goes to the European Union. Mark Collings, head of international, Santander SME Banking, said: “The UK food and drink manufacturing sector has become a major UK success story on an international scale. British people are proud of their local produce and certainly miss their favourite tea, chocolate, meat and cheese when travelling abroad, yet many do not realise quite how popular these items have become beyond our shores. Over the years the “Made in Britain” brand has become synonymous with good quality products and services.”

Fuller’s publishes new book to celebrate 170th anniversary: London brewer and pub retailer Fuller’s has published a new book, Crafting a Company, to celebrate its 170th anniversary. The book, which details the company’s history, ethos and developments, is written by award-winning beer writer Adrian Tierney-Jones, and designed by Lisa David. It features pub profiles and insights into the people at the heart of the brewery as well as recipes provided by head of food Paul Dickinson. Corporate affairs director Richard Fuller said: “Being the oldest remaining independent brewery in London is something we’re extremely proud of and this book is the perfect way to express our heritage, while also showing how we have progressed and developed.”

Greg Mulholland – tells us how the tax system can be changed to help pubs: MP Greg Mulholland, chairman of the Parliamentary Save the Pub Group, has urged organisations and licensees to get in touch with ideas on how to give the sector a boost through the tax system ahead of a meeting with Chancellor George Osborne. He said: “I am pleased that the Chancellor has agreed to meet with the group and we look forward to discussing with him the very important matter of pub taxation. I would urge organisations and publicans interested to get in touch with the Save the Pub group and share their ideas for how the tax system can be changed to give our pubs a much-needed boost. Pubs are already paying very high business rates, six times more than is justifiable on the actual turnover figures. That’s just one example, and the group would greatly welcome further ideas from publicans and organisations from the sector, so we can put these directly to the Chancellor when we meet him early in the New Year.”

Company News:

YO! Sushi to open first bar at new Chelmsford site: YO! Sushi is to open its first bar at its new Chelmsford site, due to open later this week. A holding bar in being built at the entrance of the venue. Robin Rowland, chief executive at YO! Sushi said: “Chelmsford is a vibrant city which suits the energy of our brand. This is why we are opening here and why we chose Chelmsford for our first YO! Sushi bar.” The brand will open in an empty high street shop once occupied by Stead and Simpson after winning consent to change the use of the premises from retail to a restaurant. The company currently has only one other branch in Essex, at Lakeside shopping centre, Thurrock. The site is the 74th in the UK – there are also five in the US and 12 franchised overseas.

Bread Factory reports turnover and profit boost, plans expansion, buys retaining 50% of the Flour Station from Jamie Oliver: Artisan baker The Bread Factory, which is 57% owned by Luke Johnson’s Risk Capital Partners, has reported turnover rose to £30,058,000 in the year to 28 February 2015, up from £25,411,000 the year before. Pre-tax profit was £4,968,502 compared to £4,690,894 in the year prior. In July, the company bought the 50% shares in the Flour Station it did not own from Jamie Oliver Enterprises using existing cash reserves. The company has acquired three new units on the same site as The Bread Factory’s existing bakery, part of which will be converted into additional production facilities. It reported strong like-for-like growth in the year. Staff numbers rose to 485 in the year from 419 the year before – of the extra staff, 58 joined the production side of the business. A dividend of £1.1m was paid following a dividend of £3.1m the year before.

Jamie Rollo – a 5p price rise would add £8m to Ebit at Costa Coffee: Morgan Stanley leisure analyst Jamie Rollo has reported that a 5p price at Costa Coffee would add circa £8m to Ebit. He said: “Raw material coffee makes up just 4% or 10p of an average 260p cappuccino (source: Allegra). While green coffee prices can be volatile, they have fallen in 2015, as have milk prices, though the net impact on margins is fairly small. By far the largest cost is staff, at 24% of sales for an average coffee shop, where the National Living Wage (circa 7% annual increase for five years) could put significant pressure on operating margins, which average 13%. Costa and Starbucks see service as the new battleground, with Costa introducing the National Living Wage six months before the April 2016 deadline, and pushing ahead with digital developments such as click-and-collect and the Coffee Club App. The average medium cappuccino price is now £2.45 in a Costa versus £2.70-2.75 in a Starbucks or Caffe Nero, when all were at parity in 2011. If Costa were to add 5p to its coffee prices, then assuming no volume impact, we estimate this would add circa £8m to 2017 financial year Ebit.”

Sunday Times – consortium led by TDR capital boss bought majority stake in Cubitt House for £12m: The Sunday Times has reported that a consortium, led by Manjit Dale, founding partner of TDR Capital, bought a majority stake in Belgraiva gastro-pub operator Cubitt House for £12m. Cubitt House operates The Thomas Cubitt, Elizabeth Street, Belgravia, The Alfred Tennyson, Motcomb Street, Belgravia, The Orange, Pimlico Road, Belgravia and The Grazing Goat, New Quebec Street, Marylebone. The transaction will result in Cubitt House benefiting from ‘considerable growth capital’ from the investors, whilst continuing to ensure that the founding shareholders, Stefan Turnbull and Barry Hirst, remain actively involved in the business. Cubitt House saw turnover of £11,088,702 in the year ended 31 December 2014, compared to £10,539,811 the year before, according to accounts filed with Companies House. Pre-tax profit rose to £851,114, compared to £810,562 the year before.

Cattle Grid owner to launch charcoal grill ribs, burgers and wings restaurant concept: Steven Novak, who owns the three-strong steak restaurant Cattle Grid and The Earlsfield pub in London, is to launch a charcoal grilled ribs, burgers and wings concept. Novak is opening Stampede, which has secured its first two sites. It will open its first venue in the food court at the Intu Lakeside shopping centre in Thurrock, Essex, in January followed by a restaurant in Leeds the following month. Novak told Propel the concept would be a “faster version” of Cattle Grid and is looking at the possibility of rolling it out in other food courts. He said: “I’m confident in the concept. The Lakeside site is in a food court so that will be food-to go while the Leeds restaurant will be more ‘Nando’s style’ where you order at the counter and will have covers. There’s no master plan as such – we’ll get these two sites up and running and see how we go. We’ve got a Cattle Grid in Leeds so I know it quite well. It’s a high footfall area and a really good site.” MKR Property acted on behalf of Stampede in securing the lease for the Leeds site with six months rent free on the 2,000 square foot ground floor unit. Jonathan Newns at Barkerproudlove acted on behalf of the landlord.

Bar, restaurant and hotel operator Cairn Hotel Group reports rise in turnover and Ebitda: Cairn Hotel Group, which operates 23 hotels centrally located in major cities such as London, Manchester and Edinburgh as well as in tourist hotspots such as York, Carlisle and Aberdeen as well as 12 individually branded bars and restaurants, including Twenty Princes Street in Edinburgh and Jalou in Newcastle, has reported a £4m rise in sales to £44.6m while Ebitda increased from £7.9m to £9.7m in the year to 30 April 2015. A property improvement policy has been in operation for some years at Cairn which the group said leads to a short-term drop in profits, but pays off in the longer term. Almost £10m was spent during the year on the development of new and existing hotels together with new additions to its portfolio. Alongside the refurbishment programme, Cairn has been acquiring hotels, most recently a 114-bedroom hotel at Glasgow Airport.

Tokyo Industries opens four Bierkeller, this time in Oldham: Tokyo Industries, the 32-strong bar and nightclub company led by Aaron Mellor, has opened a Bierkeller in Oldham. It occupies the ground floor of the former Tokyo Project nightclub on Roscoe Street – the company operates Bierkeller venues in York, Newcastle and Bradford. Mellor said: “This development is particularly close to my heart as I’m a local lad and Tokyo Oldham was my very first venture, which effectively launched my journey into the night-life sector back in 1997. Before we even purchased the original venue, we’d run club nights here. It was called Club57/The Hurricane Club back then and was a snooker hall, once owned by Alex ‘Hurricane’ Higgins. It hosted live shows, with Inspiral Carpets formed here, and Oasis playing their second ever show. I also recall an unknown Peter Kay doing stand-up to about seven people when we first opened – he probably wrote Phoenix Nights based on that experience.” Bierkeller features Bavarian-style oompah bands, two-pint beer steins and 50 beers from around the world.

Eddie Rocket’s launches new concept Flash Harry’s: Better burger company Eddie Rocket’s has launched a new restaurant and cocktail bar format called Flash Harry’s. It is located in Blackrock at 20-22 Temple Road, South County, Dublin. It is a two-storey restaurant and bar with spacious garden offering a fireplace, pool table and table football. Flash Harry’s uses only 100% Irish Hereford beef. A spokesman told Propel: “Flash Harry’s is aimed at the discerning cocktail aficionado and we have worked with our butcher to create new and exciting ‘50/50’ burgers that use 50% beef and 50% bacon patties. There are 30 signature cocktails and an extensive range of exclusive craft beers. Flash Harry’s is aimed at attracting customers from the immediate area of Blackrock including the professionals from the offices in Blackrock village. In addition the catchment would include Dalkey, Monkstown, Dun Laoghaire, Glenageary, South County Dublin suburbs, Sandymount and Booterstown. We will be introducing themed cocktail days and evenings including a Bloody Mary Brunch on Sundays.”

Lifestyle Hospitality passes 50% mark in crowdfunding bid to raise £500,000 to expand Burgerfest: Lifestyle Hospitality Group, which currently has 12 sites in the UK and is led by James Eyre, has passed the 50% mark in its bid to raise £500,000 on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to expand its better burger brand Burgerfest in the UK and overseas. The company is offering 6% equity and has so far seen 53 investors pledge £256,570 with eight days remaining. The largest investment to date is £115,000. The business now operates 12 sites with turnover of £6.69m in the year to 31st May 2015 and Ebitda of £800,000. The company also operates the Tiger Bills, Apple and Parrot and Mambo brands. It wants to embark on a plan to invest £3.5m over five years to expand Burgerfest. The pitch states: “We believe no-one else in the market provides this experience with great freshly made burgers. We believe that the major growth opportunities exist in opening key UK cities such as Bristol, Birmingham, Cardiff, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Leicester, Milton Keynes, Nottingham, Sheffield and London where the market size, due to population and consumer spending power, is much larger than our home market of the south west of England. Burgers are an internationally accepted concept and we have already received international enquires for European cities and in the Far East.”

Couple buys second pub, looking to acquire more: Husband and wife team Phil and Louise Whitehouse are looking to acquire more pubs after buying their second. They have bought The Polecat Inn in Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire, with the help of a six-figure finance facility from the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS). Plans are in the pipeline to expand the wedding and functions side of the business, which will include the development of a barn in the grounds. This is expected to be up and running by September 2016. The couple also own The Woodstock Arms in Oxford. They are now looking to acquire similar pubs of the same quality around the M25 area as they grow their portfolio. Phil Whitehouse said: “Pubs are very competitive – you have to offer something a little special to attract and retain customers and our locally produced home-cooked food and local ales help us achieve this. By extending the functions side at The Polecat Inn we are confident this will attract weddings and special occasions and significantly increase our sales throughout the year.”

New Moon Pub Company launches New York-influenced bar and pizzetteria concept: New Moon Pub Company has launched its New York-influenced bar and pizzetteria concept The Bronx. The company, led by David Mooney and Paul Newman, has opened The Bronx on the site of the former Bar 21 pub in Knutsford, Cheshire – its first venture with Star Pubs & Bars. It is New Moon’s eighth site and adds another unique offering to its growing portfolio of restaurants in the north west. The Bronx, based in Princess Street, has a menu of 12 pizzas – priced at £5 for one, £9 for two and £12 for three – and serves cocktails, craft ales, a selection of wines as well as soft drinks. Newman said: “We wanted to bring something different to Knutsford. There are 80 odd restaurants in the area on TripAdvisor but how many are bars? We wanted to create a sector in the market where people can just come down for a drink, not just to dine.” Mooney added: “With each of our venues we bring a little twist of something fresh and exciting and we believe with Bronx we’ve done just that.”

Cotswold Distillery hits £500,500 crowdfunding target: The Cotswolds Distillery in Stourton hit its £500,500 crowdfunding target on Crowdbnk on Friday, raising. It’s offering 5.5% of its equity for the investment and had raised £521,696 with 55 days to go. The money will be used to fund the next stage of growth prior to a public listing. The Cotswolds Distillery is just over a year old, having been established in September 2014 at its north Cotswolds site. It already produces 175,000 bottles of whisky annually, as well as gin, brandy and a number of small batch liqueurs for sale in its shop, via high street distributors and online.

Richard Caring opens brasserie version of the Ivy tomorrow: A neighbourhood brasserie version of The Ivy opens on Kensington High Street tomorrow (15 December). The fourth branch of the Ivy, owned by restaurateur Richard Caring, is the first to be called a “brasserie” and is designed to appeal to local residents, office workers and shoppers. It will be open from 7.30am to catch early commuters on their way to work. Richard Moore, general manager of The Ivy Kensington Brasserie, told the London Evening Standard: “This is right opposite the Tube station, right in the heart of the high street. Having ‘brasserie’ in the name sets the tone and says that this is more approachable, more affordable, more accessible.” One tablecloth-free area is set aside for informal visits such as morning coffee and afternoon tea – about 40% of the 138 seats are for walk-in customers and cannot be reserved. “Lots of restaurants and bars are becoming much more lifestyle led,” Moore added. “Somebody coming in for a cup of tea today could be next week’s private dining room booking.” The breakfast menu includes an egg and bacon sandwich for £4.50 and scrambled eggs and smoked salmon for £9.75. A pot of tea or pot of coffee costs £3.75. There is a set menu from 2.30pm to 7pm at £16.50 for two courses and £21 for three. The brasserie occupies the site of the former Pavilion restaurant and bar, owned by Foxtons estate agency founder Jon Hunt, which closed earlier this year. The venue adds to The Ivy’s three other restaurants in Covent Garden, Chelsea and Marylebone.

Small Batch Coffee looks for larger roastery base: Brighton and Hove coffee chain Small Batch, which is now majority owned by sector investor Luke Johnson, is looking for bigger premises for a new roastery, having outgrown its existing site. Nigel Lambe, chief executive of Small Batch, said that the existing operation, in Goldstone Villas, yards from Hove Station, was running at full capacity. Wholesale business has grown by about 40% in the past year at the roaster, which has about 200 trade customers. With plans for growth, Lambe is looking for a site able to house machinery capable of roasting about five times as much coffee. Brad Jacobsen, one of the founders of Small Batch, sold his share of the business to Johnson last month while his co-founder Alan Tomlins and Lambe retained their stake. Tomlins heads the roasting side of the operation which also includes five coffee shops and two carts outside Brighton and Hove railway stations. Jacobsen intends to focus his business efforts on the Urchin pub, in Belfast Street, Hove whilst Lambe has sold his stake in the Urchin, which used to be known as the Bell and, before that, The Belfast. Jacobsen’s fellow Australian business partner, Nick Jerram, remains a co-owner of the Urchin, which specialises in craft beer and shellfish.

Virtual Jukebox completes fundraising, values the company at £3.34m: Leading interactive music provider to the hospitality, retail and leisure sectors, Virtual Jukebox, has completed a fundraising that values the company at £3.34 million. Five key investors with proven track records and experience in hospitality, finance and international expansion have backed the business in the latest round of fundraising. The proceeds of this will allow Virtual Jukebox to expand its current operations and pave the way for new product development. Andy Hill, chief executive at Virtual Jukebox, said: “We are delighted to have successfully concluded this fundraising with a group of investors who, in addition to providing growth capital, will bring an incredibly valuable wealth of experience and insight, and we look forward to benefitting from their advice and counsel.” Virtual Jukebox is a leading digital music service that puts millions of tracks at the complete control of hospitality, retail and leisure business owners. The five investors include Jonathan Segal, founder and chief executive of the ONE Group, an international hospitality group, Jeremy Coller, founder and CIO of Coller Capital, a multi-billion pound investment fund and Neil Tregarthen, the previous chief executive of NES Global Talent.

Yum! Brands targets 15% EPS growth with China spin-off: Yum! Brands is targeting annual earnings growth of 15% in the two companies that will result from the planned spin-off of its 7,000-unit China division in 2016. Executives of the parent company of KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell outlined further plans for the China division spin-off, which was announced in October and is expected to be completed by the end of next year, at the annual investor conference in Plano, Texas. China has been a fast-growing division for Yum, but investors had pressured the company to spin it into its own publicly traded company. China division chief executive Micky Pant said the company is building two units a day in the country, reports Nation’s Restaurant News. China currently has about 5,000 KFC units and 2,000 Pizza Hut restaurants, most in a casual-dining format, and Yum! Brands chief executive Greg Creed said the China division has the potential of expanding from those 7,000 restaurants to more than 20,000 units. Sales for the two brands in China for 2015 are expected to total $8.2bn, he said, despite seeing comparative sales slip 13% in 2013 and 5% in 2014. Patrick Grismer, who has announced his resignation effective 19 February, suggested in his presentation Taco Bell would soon be in test in China as well. The China company will be predominantly franchised and Pant said there are several projects underway to help boost sales, including the remodelling of older units, the addition of digital offerings such as free Wi-Fi, the expansion of cashless payments and the creation of loyalty and delivery programmes. Between the October announcement and when the separation into two companies will be completed by the end of next year, Yum said it would return up to $6.2bn of capital to its shareholders.

Entrepreneurs acquire second hotel for £10m, eye further growth to portfolio: The Bansal family has acquired its second hotel and looking to expand its portfolio further. Dr Ashok Bansal, his wife Swarnlata and son Dr Sandeep Bansal, have bought The Lion Quays Hotel and Spa in Oswestry, Shropshire, for a price in excess of £10m. The hotel, which is set on the banks of the Llangollen canal, is known for its luxury spa and wedding venue offering and is set to expand as the Bansals plan to build an additional 30 bedrooms over the next three years. The family has built up a portfolio of care homes over the last decade, but, in May 2014, purchased its first hotel, Rockingham Forrest in Corby, which is aimed at the business market and is achieving a £1.7m turnover. The Bansals are looking to acquire further hotels across the UK in the luxury end of the hotel market. The Lion Quays is forecast to achieve a £5.5m turnover in the first year of trading post-acquisition. Dr Ashok Bansal told The Business Desk: “We are delighted to take ownership of the Lion Quays Hotel and Spa which carries a positive track record and a successful history. This will set the standard for further acquisitions as we look to build our empire.” The Royal Bank of Scotland provided a £7m funding package for the Banals’ latest acquisition.

Stafford-based brewery Slater’s Ales to open craft beer bar on former Costa Coffee site in Wolverhampton: Stafford-based brewer Slater’s Ales is taking over a former Costa Coffee premises in central Wolverhampton and turning into a craft beer bar. The brewery is transforming three floors of a grade II-listed building in Queen Square, previously occupied by the coffee shop brand. The vacant property is currently being refurbished with Slater’s Craft Beer Bar set to open in February, creating 16 jobs. Slater’s owner Fay Slater told The Business Desk: “We looked far and wide for a new venue and when we saw the building in Queen Square we really fell in love with it. We did some digging around and discovered there is a lot of investment coming into the city and we want to be part of that – things are really taking off in Wolverhampton.” The venue will have a downstairs bar and an upstairs bar for functions, which will also be open at weekends, while food will be served between 12pm and 8pm. Slater’s supplies pubs and clubs throughout the country with hand-brewed real ale. The brewery celebrated its 20th year in business in March.

Owners of Hull high-end Indian restaurant to start expanding portfolio by opening new £1m venue in city: The owners of Hull-based high-end Indian restaurant Tapasya are to start expanding by opening their second site in the city. Mukesh Tirkoti and Tapan Mahapatra are investing £1m in opening the new site in the CatZero building in Humber Dock Street. CatZero, which offers a 12-week programme aimed at providing support and opportunities for young people aged between 16 and 24, is moving to a new venue nearby so the site can be refurbished ahead of the restaurant opening by April. Tirkoti, who has run five-star hotels and restaurants in India and opened destination restaurants in London, told the Hull Daily Mail: “We are looking to bring something totally different to Hull’s city centre. We want to create a high-end restaurant, but also a hip, happening bar and a place where people can come for private functions and corporate dining. We invested more than £800,000 to launch Tapasya in Beverley Road, and the success of that is why we are confident in launching a new restaurant in the marina.” Tapasaya opened in 2013, creating more than 30 jobs.

Turtle Bay to open new £1m restaurant in Leeds tomorrow: Caribbean restaurant Turtle Bay will open its new £1m restaurant in Leeds tomorrow (Tuesday, 15 December). The company is launching the venue at The Light shopping centre in Albion Street on the site of the former O’Neill store, reports the Yorkshire Evening Post. The 4,200 square foot restaurant has a 150-cover dining area as well as a beach shack bar in the centre, serving up cocktails and more than 40 types of Caribbean rum. The new venture will create 60 jobs and follows openings in Cardiff – its first in Wales – and York. The Leeds restaurant is teaming up with the Leeds West Indian Centre Charitable Trust for a special launch event on the opening day where customers will not be given a bill but instead asked to pay whatever they think their food was worth. Turtle Bay is matching the amount customers donate and it is hoped that the amount raised will help cover the cost of continuing the trust’s services for the next year.

Camerons Brewery extends Longhorns BBQ Smokehouse partnership: Camerons Brewery has extended its partnership with Longhorns BBQ Smokehouse to provide the menu at its latest Head of Steam venue in Norton. The brewery, which announced its partnership with Longhorns last month, already has kitchens in place at both its Dun Cow, Sunderland, and Tilleys, Newcastle, venues as well as a selection of Longhorns’ “Beer Bonbons” bar snacks available at pubs across its managed estate. The Head of Steam, Norton, will open its doors on Thursday (17 December) and the Longhorns kitchen will trade from Monday 21 December offering American-style barbecue food. Camerons Brewery director and general manager Chris Soley said: “We have spent a lot of time in Norton looking at the food offering in the area and we felt we needed to give the village something different to complement the other great food and drinks venues. The menu Longhorns have is an ideal fit as it is completely different to what is available in Norton and works perfectly with our range of premium beers, wines and spirits. It is great working alongside a fellow north east business to enhance our Head of Steam brand and we look forward to future ventures with Longhorns as we grow our pub estate.”

Loungers opens new site in Swansea: Bristol-based cafe-bar Loungers has opened a new site in Swansea. The company has launched the Zinco Lounge at Unit 4 in Princess Way, creating 25 jobs. It has invested £650,000 transforming the new venue into a “retro home from home”, where “dramatic art work sits next to oversized vintage sofas and statement light fittings, in the eclectic style much loved by Lounge aficionados”. Loungers operations manager Jeremy Burton-Dickie told the South Wales Evening Post: “Swansea is the perfect location for our Lounge concept. There’s already a thriving and vibrant community and we’re really looking forward to playing our part in the foodie scene here.” The opening is Loungers’ fifth site in Wales with three venues in Cardiff and one in Newport.

Strada to become food partner for Alcohol Concern’s Dry January: Strada is partnering Alcohol Concern’s Dry January. The partnership, which sees Strada join the campaign as the official food partner, kicks off on 1 January for a month. To celebrate the partnership and to support their customers who are abstaining from alcohol in January, Strada has further strengthened its drinks offer by adding a range of alcohol free wines, including a Californian Chardonnay as well as an authentic Italian alcohol-free beer. Tom James, operations director at Strada, said: “We’re thrilled to be involved in this campaign for 2016. Dry January is a fantastic initiative by Alcohol Concern and we’ve been blown away by its growth over the last couple of years. We’re relentlessly committed to what we call ‘the good life’; proper wholesome food created from some of the best quality ingredients in the market, and Dry January perfectly embodies this. Last year, over two million people went ‘dry’ in January so we think our customers will love the chance to stick to their resolutions without sacrificing their social life!.” You can sign up to Dry January right now at

Itinerary unveiled for second Propel and Thinking Drinkers Craft Beer Retail Study Tour: The itinerary has been unveiled for the second Propel and Thinking Drinkers Craft Beer Retail Study Tour. The event, which this year focuses on south London, takes place on Thursday, 28 January and will visit seven of the capital’s leading craft beer retailers in an eight-hour period. It starts at the Four Thieves brewpub in Battersea, owned by Laine Pub Company. The tour will then visit hybrid craft beer and bottle shop We Brought Beer in Clapham Junction, which was founded by former BrewDog employee James Hickson, followed by the Craft Beer Co site in Clapham Manor Street. The next stop will be the Crown & Anchor in Brixton run by London Village Inns before heading to independently operated Stormbird in Camberwell Church Street, which was runner-up in the Timeout Love London Awards this year. The tour then continues to Late Knights Brewery’s micro-pub Beer Rebellion in Gypsy Hill and ends at Utobeer’s The Rake in Borough Market. The tour will again be led by Thinking Drinkers, award-winning beer writers Ben McFarland and Tom Sandham, who will provide the latest craft beer facts and figures, market segmentation, analysis and spot up-and-coming trends. 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. To book, email

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

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