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Tue 2nd Feb 2016 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Tim Hall leaves Pod after disagreement over strategy: Founder of 22-strong healthy eating chain Pod, Tim Hall, has left the business after strong disagreements over the direction of the business in the last 14 months. Hall oversaw 17% like-for-like sales growth and the creation of a partnership with Starbucks in 2014, his last year in charge of the business – turnover had risen from £13.7m to £18.3m (for a 14-month period) in the final year in charge. Ebitda in the 14 months to 28 December 2014 was £330,000 while store Ebitda moved to £2.6m, compared to £1.6m for the year before. There was an operating loss of £743,740 in the 14 months, down from £1,017,151 the year before, with shareholders’ funds standing at £3,287,387. It is understood Hall and the founding management team became increasingly unhappy with the direction of the business after Andrew Taylor moved from chairman to executive chairman in 2014. “None of the founding team agreed with any of the strategies, leading to a huge amount of tension,” a source told Propel. “Board meetings became increasingly tricky.” Taylor stepped down in July 2015. The source added: “The company has plenty of cash, continues to generate positive Ebitda but is essentially adrift – it has been a number of years since it opened a new store.” A further £700,000 was raised by the company in 2015 and a further £700,000 was due to be raised early this year.
 

Industry News:

Poll finds majority in favour of lower drink-drive limit: More than three quarters of people polled about drink-driving support reducing the limit in England and Wales to the same as Scotland, an alcohol health group has said. The findings were published on the day the House of Lords will debate a Private Members’ Bill on dropping the limit from 80mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood to 50mg. The current limit in England and Wales is the highest in Europe, with the exception of Malta, the Alcohol Health Alliance (AHA) said. In the three months after Scotland lowered its drink-driving limit to 50mg in 2014, alcohol-related road traffic offences went down 17%, it said. Research has shown lowering the limit in line with Scotland would save more than 100 lives a year and £300m in costs to the emergency services and hospitals. The AHA polled 4,869 people and found 77% of people support a 50mg limit to bring England and Wales in line with Scotland.
 
Glasgow to stage inaugural annual restaurant festival in April: Glasgow is to stage its inaugural annual restaurant festival in April. The city’s contemporary dining scene will be formally showcased at the Glasgow Restaurant Festival from April 1 to 19, reports forbes.com. Its organisers said the event has been created to celebrate Glasgow’s food and dining culture, and to encourage locals as well as visitors to try out restaurants “they haven’t got round to visiting yet”. Among the participating restaurants will be “institutions” the Ubiquitous Chip and Two Fat Ladies as well as newer arrivals such as Ox and Finch, and The Gannet. A number of food-focused special events, activities and dining experiences will be featured, including specially priced menus, masterclasses from the city’s leading chefs, pairing nights, tastings, a family dining programme, and special multi-course dish crawls around the city districts well known for good eating, like Finnieston and the Merchant City.
 
Gordon Ramsay wins Michelin star for French restaurant: Le Pressoir d’Argent Gordon Ramsay, which opened in September 2015, has been awarded a one-star rating in the Michelin Guide for France 2016, just four months after opening. Located in Bordeaux, on the first floor of the five-star InterContinental Bordeaux – Le Grand Hôtel, Le Pressoir d’Argent offers a gastronomic experience with a menu that features the highest quality locally sourced produce. In the kitchen is executive chef Gilad Peled, who has a wealth of fine dining experience having worked alongside Gordon Ramsay and chef Clare Smyth at the three Michelin-starred Restaurant Gordon Ramsay Royal Hospital Road. “We are thrilled to have been awarded a star just a few months after opening,” said Stuart Gillies, managing director of Gordon Ramsay Group. “It is great that the dedication, skill and consistent hard work of Gilad and the entire team in Bordeaux has been recognised.” Le Pressoir d’Argent is Gordon Ramsay’s second restaurant in France and the first in Bordeaux. The group has a total of 31 restaurants globally and six Michelin stars, with international restaurants from Europe to the US, the Middle East and Asia.

Drink Command chief says business is booming despite lack of Dragons’ Den investment: Robbie Ward, chief executive of self-pour beer specialists Drink Command, said business has been booming despite failing to secure investment from BBC2’s Dragons’ Den. In the latest episode of the show, aired on Sunday (31 January), Dublin-based Drink Command asked for £200,000 investment in exchange for a 10% stake in the business. However following the pitch, which took place in May 2015, and a grilling by the Dragons, Drink Command walked away with no investment. Since the failed pitch, Drink Command said it had hundreds of installations across five continents and its systems had poured more than five million pints of beer. Ward said it had also secured significant investment from a major supplier of refrigeration equipment to Heineken and Diageo across Europe and trebled its turnover after developing a number of new mobile self-serve units. Drink Command added it had appointed new distributors in Australia, China, India and the Middle East. Drink Command’s self-pour beer systems allow consumers to pour a pint of beer, redeemed against pre-paid credit, from a self-serve tap.
 

Company News:

Camerons acquires seventh Head of Steam venue: Camerons Brewery has acquired a new site in Headingley, Leeds, to launch its seventh Head of Steam venue. The brewery has taken control of the former Havana Bar in North Road and will be extensively refurbishing the site. The new venue will open in early April. Chris Soley, director and general manager of Camerons, said: “We are delighted to have another venue in Leeds. We opened Head of Steam in Leeds city centre just over a year ago, and it has been a tremendous success for Camerons, and is now one of our flagship pubs. We realised there would be potential to create another Head of Steam venue in the region and we were looking at various sites that we felt would fit our brand ethos. Headingley is such a vibrant area and we feel our brand will complement the other fantastic bars and restaurants already there.” The Head of Steam will open with 16 craft/kegs lines and eight cask handpulls incorporating a selection of local and Camerons brewed cask ales plus real ciders. Camerons will also be working in partnership with Longhorns, which will run the kitchen at the Head of Steam. The menu will offer a range of barbecue smokehouse meals and light bites. Camerons is looking at other potential venues across the country as its looks to expand its retail pub estate. 

Friday Beer Co passes 50% mark in £150,000 crowdfunding drive: Brewer Friday Beer Co, founded by Gerald Williams, has passed the 50% mark in its £150,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube. The company is offering a 16.67% equity stake in return for the investment and so far 85 investors have pledged £75,270 with six days remaining. The pitch states: “Friday is often a day to buy beer for the weekend, and we are trademarked as the ‘Official Sponsors of the Weekend’. We aspire to be the UK’s next ‘BrewDog’ style of business and we see our company expanding over the years towards ‘Friday’ branded city-based bars with novel ‘beer tank’ dispensing systems selling our premium ales. In four years, we have built a brand that sells bottled ales to over 50 outlets including prestige hotels, restaurants and wine shops, plus many other outlet types found across the West Midlands region. We were also selected to become sold in Harrods’ wine shop in Knightsbridge since June 2014. With a range of premium ales, designed to capitalise on both the malt and hop flavours in every recipe, we believe we can grow turnover to greater than £1m by 2018.”
 
Stonegate to sell Smethwick pub: Stonegate Pub Company is to sell the Abbey Hotel in Smethwick, West Midlands, and will shut the site at the end of the month. The company has confirmed it has accepted an offer after being approached by an unnamed party, reports the Express & Star. The pub has three rooms offering a spacious bar, family-orientated lounge and a snug, as well as a secure beer garden. In a statement, Stonegate said: “We are currently in the process of finding suitable employment opportunities for the existing team. It is at the discretion of the buyer as to the future of the property.”
 
£2.5m cafe with UK’s first-of-its-kind Wimbledon-style ‘Centre Court retractable roof’ approach proposed in Chelsea: A £2.5m cafe that takes the Wimbledon-style “Centre Court retractable roof” approach is being proposed in Chelsea, west London. The venue, which is the first-of-its-kind in Britain according to the architects behind the project, will be cosy and enclosed when its cold but allow customers to enjoy their drinks al-fresco on warmer days. A glass façade that keeps customers warm and dry can be lowered into the basement when the sun shines to give the cafe, located in in Duke of York Square, off King’s Road, an outdoor feel. The design from City-based architects Nex was selected by landowner Cadogan following a competition that drew about 150 entries from around the world. Nex Architecture director Alan Dempsey told the Evening Standard: “When the glass facade is lowered during warm weather, it will feel as one with the surrounding area, merging holistically with the existing space to create a large al-fresco seating area.” A public exhibition of the plans will be held at the Gelateria building in Duke of York Square on Thursday (4 February) and Saturday (6 February).
 
£1m Damon’s Japanese Steakhouse in Lincoln to open shortly: The £1m Damon’s Japanese Steakhouse, which will sit inside the existing iconic Damon’s Restaurant off the A46 near Lincoln, is due to open shortly. No launch date has been announced but installation work is under way. Scheduled to finish in autumn last year, a further £750,000 will be spent on similar projects at Damon’s Liverpool and Sheffield sites if the Lincoln project proves a success. Stuart Carey, Damon’s company director, told the Lincolnshire Echo: “The idea came from the States. You sit around the table and they prepare all the food in front of you. We have already got those food items in as well. We already have steaks and chicken and prawns, as our supply chain is already there.” An unused part of the Damon’s Restaurant building has been opened up to create two restaurants in one, with a single main entrance. A glass partition will separate the two sections. The new steakhouse will have 96 seats, on top of 150 inside Damon’s Restaurant, creating 30 additional jobs. Kevin Coupland and Daniel Rontreecorr, of Heronswood Architectural Design, helped to devise the plan after working on rooms at the neighbouring Damon’s Motel. After a long-standing dispute with Damon’s US-based franchisor over levels of support, an agreement was reached in 2013 that gave the UK company rights to the brand in perpetuity in the UK without paying an ongoing royalty. 
 
Parisian restaurant concept Frenchie to make UK debut in London today: Parisian restaurant concept Frenchie will make its UK debut in London today (Tuesday, 2 February). The concept, launched by Greg and Marie Marchand in 2009, will open in Henrietta Street in Covent Garden. It is the first site outside Paris for the husband and wife team, who are also behind the Frenchie Wine Bar, deli/sandwich counter Frenchie to Go and the wine shop Frenchie Caviste. The two-floor venue features an informal ground floor restaurant and bar. The basement space, with open kitchen that has several seats, can be configured for larger group dining or individual tables. Upstairs, 18 seats at the bar are kept aside for walk-ins. The menu at Frenchie Covent Garden echos its Parisian counterpart, with dishes heavily influenced by Greg Marchand’s travels around the world. He uses, for the most part, British-sourced ingredients, and thus his dishes have evolved into new adaptations across the Channel. The menu will sit alongside an ever-changing wine list with a focus on artisanal Old World wines, craft beers and a short but seasonal cocktail menu. Greg Marchand spent several long periods in London cooking at the Mandarin Oriental, the Savoy Grill and the Electric House before joining Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen, where the kitchen nickname “Frenchie” stuck.
 
Intertain sacks door security firm after series of incidents jeopardises licence: A Walkabout in Liverpool, operated by Intertain, has kept its licence despite a catalogue of violence allegedly committed by bouncers who thought they were “above the law”. Police attended a city council licensing review hearing to highlight ten separate incidents at Walkabout in Concert Square in recent months. The most serious revealed a large-scale brawl on 18 December during which bouncers were seen fighting in CCTV footage played to the panel. Clips showed Walkabout’s acting head doorman get involved in a spiralling street brawl, which eventually involved security staff from five different venues. It was claimed he had not even started work and sparked hostilities by going for a walk around Concert Square before clocking on. The CCTV, played to Liverpool City Council’s licensing committee, revealed punches being thrown as serious disorder spilled out into the city’s clubland. Crowds of onlookers backed away as hordes of men scrapped and one man was seen lying flat out on the floor. John Creighton, operations manager for Walkabout, said the acting head doorman has now been sacked adding: “He will never work for us again.” Police said the doorman had an ongoing dispute with another bouncer from another bar in Concert Square. Intertain has since terminated its contract with Fortis Security, which was in charge of the venue’s door when the spate of violence took place. Door Sec are the new firm that employs bouncers at the popular nightspot.
 
Rick Stein gets go-ahead to open restaurant in Marlborough high street, first venue in Wiltshire: Celebrity chef Rick Stein has had plans to open a restaurant in High Street, Marlborough, Wiltshire, approved. Despite mixed reviews about Stein’s plan, Wiltshire Council has granted planning permission for the restaurant, which will serve 102 covers and employ about 40 staff. It will be set over the first and ground floor, which will also have a bar and booth seating areas. Some residents in Old Lion Court, behind Lloran House, the listed building where the restaurant will be sited, objected to the planning application, with worries their houses would be overlooked and fears about noise and the aroma of food. One letter stated: “However prestigious the name of Rick Stein, the fact is it is just another franchise of what will inevitably be a high-street chain, where perhaps Marlborough has so many of those.” However, Marlborough mayor Margaret Rose told the Gazette & Herald: “He is an eminent chef and has got a very good reputation. I think a good eating house in High Street could not be a bad thing.” Stein has a number of businesses in the south west but this will be his first in Wiltshire.
 
Samba Brand Managements set to open second Sushisamba in UK in Covent Garden: Samba Brand Managements is set to open its second Sushisamba restaurant in the UK in Covent Garden, London. The brand, which offers a blend of Japanese, Brazilian and Peruvian food, has signed a lease with landlord Capital & Counties Properties for 9,000 square feet at the Opera Terrace within the Market Building, opening in 2017. It will now spend £4m designing the restaurant, which is its second in the UK, and London, following its opening in Bishopsgate at the Salesforce tower, formerly known as the Heron, three years ago. Samba’s chief executive Shimon Bokovza told the Evening Standard: “We gobbled up this opportunity. The energy of Covent Garden and its international appeal make it a natural fit.” As well as its two London restaurants, Sushisamba has four sites in the US – in New York, Las Vegas, and Miami Beach and Coral Gables, both in Florida.
 
Starbucks launches new packaging design in UK for chilled coffee range: Starbucks has introduced a new packaging design for its chilled cup range in UK grocery and convenience stores, using designs that will “appeal to consumers and more closely align with the Starbucks master brand”. Formerly known as Starbucks Discoveries, the chilled coffees will also be relaunched under the Starbucks brand to support the new look. The company said the designs incorporate natural colours, textures and sensory attributes synonymous with each flavour. It said the new packaging demonstrated high potential among consumers during testing, performing 16% above the database standard. Claire Irvine, Starbucks commercial manager at Arla Foods, told KamCity: “Our Starbucks chilled coffee range is rooted in the core of the Starbucks coffee house experience through the new look and feel.” 
 
We Are Vertigo expands across border with £5m activity centre and restaurant in Dundalk, eyes European franchise opportunities: Belfast-based activity centre We Are Vertigo is crossing the border to create 120 jobs at a venue in County Louth. The £5m enterprise in Dundalk, by husband and wife team Gareth and Lorna Murphy, has been granted planning permission and the couple said they had been talking to companies around Europe about possible franchising opportunities for the brand. The Dundalk development will replicate the trampoline park, adventure centre and spa in Newtownbreda, Belfast, in which the Murphys are also opening a ski-themed, licenced restaurant. Gareth Murphy said: “Belfast’s We Are Vertigo has been an enormous success, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, and we were keen to replicate the experience for families and businesses in the Republic of Ireland. In addition to our all-island growth, we are in discussion with several companies across the UK and Europe who are interested in franchise opportunities and, as such, we are very excited for the future.”
 
Greene King to open Hungry Horse in £8m Wolverhampton city centre development: Hungry Horse, Greene King’s value brand, will open a venue on the ground floor of the new £8.1m i10 development in Wolverhampton. The family-friendly pub restaurant, which will open on Wednesday, 30 March, is the first confirmed tenant at the landmark building, close to the railway station and not far from JD Wetherspoon’s Moon Under Water. The venue’s name is The Sunbeam, in honour of the factory in which motorcycles were built in the city from 1890 to 1937. Paul Garland, Greene King business development manager, told the Express & Star: “The Sunbeam will be the place that welcomes anyone looking to enjoy good quality, great value food or drink in a fun and friendly atmosphere while they visit the city centre. We are delighted to have the opportunity to work with the council and help provide around 50 local people with employment.”
 
Last-minute restaurant deals app Wriggle passes 50% mark in £350,000 crowdfunding drive for scalable UK launch: Last-minute restaurant deals app Wriggle has passed the 50% mark as it seeks to raise £350,000 on crowdfunding platform Seedrs to prepare its technology for a scalable launch across the UK. The company, which was launched in Bristol in 2014 by Rob Hall, acts as a restaurant discovery tool and offers users same-day discounts to fill excess capacity. It is offering an 18.92% equity stake in return for the investment of £350,003 and so far 141 investors have pledged £194,369 with 53 days remaining. The pitch states: “Wriggle is monetising a huge and largely untapped market within the restaurant, bar and cafe sector – with a revolutionary approach to efficiency and discounting – by repackaging empty tables and surplus stock from quality businesses as exciting, time-sensitive opportunities for thousands of potential local customers. It’s simple – local businesses reduce the price of their products to reach Wriggle customers, who make cut-price last-moment purchases over Wriggle in a couple of taps. These customers are provided with location and time-relevant offers from businesses tailored to their preferences – through a variety of channels. Having proved our market with 440 local businesses signed up across Bristol and London (with Brighton launching in February), and 35,000 downloads, this investment is about preparing our technology for scalable growth, and turning our user-figures into revenue. The opportunity is for Wriggle to be the comprehensive platform for local businesses to fill capacity, market themselves and get bums on seats.” Wriggle previously crowdfunded on Seedrs in 2014 when it raised £160,000 from 200 investors.
 
Owner of award-winning Yorkshire pub launches restaurant in Lincolnshire: Calvin Dow, who runs the award-winning Castle Inn in Skipton, Yorkshire, opened a 70-cover restaurant in Lincolnshire yesterday (Monday, 1 February). The new venue is at the Britannia Inn in Wrawby Street, Brigg. The newly installed kitchen will produce a range of traditional meals, including Grimsby fish, Whitby scampi and Lincolnshire sausages, plus daily specials. The restaurant launch is the second phase of the redevelopment programme after the Britannia Inn reopened late last year following extensive refurbishment. The pub had been closed since the summer, the Scunthorpe Telegraph reported.
 
North Norfolk-based pub owner starts expanding portfolio after buying second site: North Norfolk-based pub owner Ivor Braka is set to start expanding his portfolio after buying his second site. Braka, who owns the Gunton Arms pub-restaurant in Thorpe Market, has acquired the Suffield Arms, which has been closed for five years, in the village. He is planning a major refurbishment of the building, which had been a pub since at least 1889, and hopes it will be ready to open sometime next year. Braka said he hoped North Norfolk District Council would be sympathetic to his bid to get the building relicensed as a pub after permission was granted in 2013 for it to be converted for residential use. He told the Eastern Daily Press: “I’m not trying to make a replica of the Gunton Arms – it will be a slightly different offering. It has a marvellously-long bar and I shall certainly be making a feature of that.” The nearby Gunton Arms, formerly the Elderton Lodge Hotel, opened under his ownership in October 2011. It is run by Stuart and Simone Tattersall, who used to work for London chef Mark Hix.
 
Ruth Rogers faces revolt by Mayfair residents over Italian restaurant plans: Chef Ruth Rogers is facing a revolt by Mayfair residents over plans to open a sister restaurant to her Michelin-starred River Cafe. Residents fear it would bring late-night noise and disruption to a “special enclave”. Lady Rogers said it was “love at first sight” when she saw the location on Grosvenor Hill but meetings between residents and the Duke of Westminster’s property company, Grosvenor, failed to settle a dispute over its impact. A letter by resident Clive Jones to Grosvenor’s Mayfair chief Haydn Cooper said locals were “deeply worried and upset at the negative impact of a large, seven-day-a-week restaurant”. Westminster councillors said they also opposed the scheme, the Evening Standard reported. A full application to Westminster City Council is expected later this year. Craig McWilliam, of Grosvenor Britain & Ireland, said: “We are listening carefully to residents. Through consultation with them and other stakeholders we are working to find the right way forward.” Lady Rogers, whose protégés include Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, was unavailable for comment. She hopes to open the as yet unnamed venue in 2017, three decades after setting up River Cafe with business partner Rose Gray. It started as a staff canteen at the offices of her husband Richard Rogers – now Lord Rogers – before becoming a famous Italian restaurant through recipe books such the River Cafe Cook Book.
 
Former Randall & Aubin head chef opening Islington restaurant today: Marcel Grzyb, former head chef at Soho’s Randall & Aubin, is opening his own restaurant in Islington, north London, today (Tuesday, 2 February). Alongside his sister Oriona Robb, Grzyb has taken over the former United Ramen site in Upper Street and, given his background, the menu at Galley restaurant and bar will have a strong focus on seafood, influenced by the cooking styles and flavours of north Africa, Asia, South America and Europe. Robb, a stylist, was in charge of layout and has given the venue an open kitchen and separate bar. Main dishes include roasted Cornish hake, with chorizo, chickpeas, tomatoes and coriander, and hand-dived in-shell Scottish scallops with carrot, cardamom puree and toasted hazelnuts. Oysters and seafood platters are also on the menu, as are small plates such as crispy Cornish squid with Japanese pepper sauce and baby coriander, and Hereford beef carpaccio with wild mushrooms, beef jelly, pistachio and parmesan. At weekends, brunch will include duck benedict on toasted sourdough and red mullet and crab brioche with mango chilli chutney.
 
Cotswolds-based Hobbs House Bakery opens fourth site: Cotswolds-based Hobbs House Bakery, which is run by the family featured on Channel 4 show The Fabulous Baker Brothers, has opened its fourth site. The company, which produces its handmade bread and cakes on site and is led by brothers Henry and Tom Herbert, has opened the outlet in a former bakery in the High Street in Malmesbury, Wiltshire. Marketing manger Anna Herbert told the Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: “We have all rather fallen in love with Malmesbury with its fantastic shops and warm welcome. We will be baking all our cakes in our Malmesbury shop letting us offer a great and exclusive range of delectable sweet goods. We will also be offering a fantastic variety of freshly made sandwiches and coffees with coffee roasted by extract coffee from Bristol.” The company’s other bakeries are in Tetbury, Nailsworth and Chipping Sodbury.
 
Welcome Break to pay National Living Wage to all employees from 1 April: Independent motorway service operator Welcome Break has said it will pay the National Living Wage to all its employees across the UK from 1 April. The company, led by Rod McKie, is the first of the UK’s major motorway service operators to make this commitment to its team members. The National Living Wage will see people over 25 paid £7.20 per hour from 1 April but Welcome Break said it will be the minimum starting rate for all of the company’s 5,000-plus employees across its 27 sites, irrespective of age. Presently 2,095 employees – 42% of its workforce – is aged under 25 and the decision to provide all of its staff with the National Living Wage is part of Welcome Break’s ongoing strategy to attract the very best people to work for the company. It will spend an additional £4m to ensure it attracts the best recruits. For some employees, this will represent an increase of 33% on their current wage. McKie said: “We are dedicated to offering dependable jobs to the very best people available, and pride ourselves on ensuring Welcome Break is a great place to work. If you want to attract the best people you need to reward them accordingly, and as such we’ve made the decision to give all of our employees, regardless of age, the National Living Wage. This is alongside the excellent career development opportunities with our world class brand partners and a host of other benefits, all our employees receive.”
 
Loungers to launch Cosy Club in Derby city centre: Loungers will open a branch of The Cosy Club at a landmark building in Derby city centre in April, creating 15 to 20 full-time jobs. The former Royal Hotel in Victoria Street is undergoing a £750,000 refurbishment, the Derby Telegraph reported. Loungers tweeted: “We’re super excited to announce Cosy Club is coming to Derby on 22 April!” Loungers’ application to Derby City Council stated: “The Cosy Club will be open throughout the day and into the evening, will be food-led and will have a particular appeal to families – ‘vertical drinking’ is not encouraged.” The first floor of the 19th century listed building was last used as the Royal Nightclub, which closed in 2013. Loungers’ application said the new use would “complement and strengthen the existing character of the area”. Loungers will also open a Cosy Club this month in Hereford. It currently operates 12 UK venues under the brand.
 
Lake District hotel operator to launch upmarket wine and champagne bar with patisserie concept in Bowness-on-Windermere: A new upmarket wine and champagne bar with patisserie concept is set to open in the Lake District next month. The team behind the Cranleigh Boutique hotel brand in Bowness-on-Windermere is launching 70-seat venue The Fizzy Tarté in the Cumbrian town. It will offer a selection of beers, wine, champagne and bespoke cocktails, together with light bites. It is keen to create a strong, loyal customer base by introducing a VIP membership and will be giving away £100,000 worth of champagne to VIP members to celebrate the opening. Cranleigh Boutique Brand chief executive Stephen Hargreaves said: “When we first started looking at this last year, we wanted to create a venue that we would love to visit. The Fizzy Tarté will echo the look and feel of a sophisticated city pavement cafe. There’s a real gap in the market in the Lake District for a chic bar that transitions easily from the daytime to the night-time market and we’re aiming to fill that.” The Fizzy Tarté is the first of two developments being launched by the Cranleigh brand this year, the second being an upmarket club, The Purple Octopus, on the same site, which is due to open in September. Hargreaves launched the Cranleigh Boutique brand in 2007 and now has three hotels – The Cranleigh Boutique, Boutique Church Suites and The Hideout Boutique House.
 
Whitbread secures Premier Inn lease in Leeds business district: Whitbread will build a Premier Inn within the growing West End business district of Leeds. Stock-market developer Town Centre Securities has agreed a 25-year lease with the leisure group to create a 136-bedroom hotel at its Whitehall Riverside scheme. The nine-storey hotel, designed by Cartwright Pickard, will form a key element of the mixed-use scheme. GMI Construction has been appointed to deliver the hotel, which is scheduled for completion in the first quarter of 2017. Town Centre Securities has worked closely with Leeds City Council on its masterplan for the regeneration of West End and already has outline consent to deliver 18,500 square feet of restaurant and cafe space, including a stand-alone pavilion unit, 8,500 square feet of leisure space and a 500-space multi-storey car park, all on the south side of Whitehall Road. The project also includes 375,000 square feet of office accommodation spread over three, eight-storey buildings. Kevin Murray, head of acquisitions in the north of England for Premier Inn, described the site as a “vibrant part of Leeds”. Sanderson Weatherall and BNP Paribas acted for Town Centre Securities in securing the deal and WSB Property Consultants represented Premier Inn on its second deal in the city in the past six months.
 
Full speaker programme for Propel Multi Club Conference on 16 March unveiled: The full speaker programme for the Propel Multi Club Conference on Wednesday, 16 March at Congress Hall, London, has been unveiled. Multi-site pub, restaurant and foodservice operators can book up to two free places by emailing Adam Dickinson on adam.dickinson@propelinfo.com. The conference series is the best attended in the sector. Speakers are: Nicola Knight, analyst at insights firm Horizons, investigates the key trends in the UK foodservice market, including major menu trends, growth areas and discounting – and looks ahead to the key trends of 2016 and beyond. Adrian Blair, chief operating officer for Just Eat, provides an overview of the company’s role in the takeaway market, current key trends and future potential for operators to develop revenue. Steve Kenee, partner at investment firm Downing, talks about the firm’s long term investment partnership with Antic London, developing an estate of more than 30 London pubs, the businesses USPs, the risks and rewards of operating near the leading edge of urban regeneration and the development of non-licenced premises. David Singleton, vice-president of hospitality for Al Tayer Group, provides an overview of the foodservice landscape in the United Arab Emirates, the brands that are winning, the potential for UK brands and his company’s approach to growing sales. Punch Taverns chief strategy director Neil Griffiths outlines the company’s evolved strategy, involving as much as £300m of investment over five years, developing operator and trading agreements, expanding its fledgling concepts and brands, taking greater control of its retail offer and realising additional value from its property portfolio. Simon King, managing director of Burger & Lobster, talks about the progress of Burger & Lobster in London and elsewhere, the unique thinking and philosophy behind the brand, sourcing quality ingredients, recruiting and training staff, evolving the offer, expanding outside of London and international prospects. Phil Sermon, managing director of Vapiano, talks about progress in the UK as well as the company’s fresh approach to recruitment, training and development of its people and interaction with its guests. David Mooney, co-founder of New Moon Pub Company, arguably the UK’s most versatile food pub operator, talks about the company’s approach at country and city pubs, its Beef and Pudding concept, New York-influenced The Bronx brand, its pizza concept Casa Matta, evolution and future plans. Roberto Morretti, chief operating officer of Bill’s, talks to ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls about the brand’s USPs, trading all-day, developing a retail dimension and staying true to the brand founder’s vision. Henry Dimbleby and Jonathan Downey, co-founders of London Union, set out their progress in creating neighbourhood food markets based on experiential food discovery, crowdfunding, their plans to create the world’s greatest food market and the development of 12 London neighbourhood markets.

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 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 jo.charity@propelinfo.com

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