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Thu 4th Feb 2016 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

CAMRA reports drop in pub closure numbers, calls on government to apply another beer tax cut: The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has welcomed a fall in the number of pub closures in the UK, but has called on the government to cut beer tax to help reinforce the fragile recovery. The figures published by CAMRA, compiled by independent research company CGA Strategy, show 27 pubs a week closed in the second half of 2015, compared with 29 a week in the previous six months. A report from the Centre of Economics and Business Research (CEBR) last year showed pubs and drinkers would benefit from a cut in beer tax – conclusions supported by the improving figures. It found beer would have increased by 16p a pint, more than 1,000 additional pubs would have closed, 750 million fewer pints would have been sold, and 26,000 jobs would have not been created had the beer tax not been cut in 2014. CAMRA is now calling on the government to continue and strengthen its support for pubs by further cutting tax to help keep beer affordable and pubs open. More than 3,000 CAMRA members have already lobbied their MPs to call for a reduction in beer duty and CAMRA is urging as many people as possible to make their views known via Particularly encouraging is news closures of local community pubs have fallen, down from 26 closures a week to 20. Community locals are particularly vital to the overall wellbeing of their users, as shown by CAMRA’s recently released research into the benefits of pub going. Tim Page, chief executive of CAMRA, said: “The latest figures show that the work of campaigners across CAMRA, the wider pub and beer industry and the government is taking effect and arresting the decline in the number of pubs being lost every week. However it’s a fragile recovery, which could very quickly be reversed if the government fails to build on this positive development and misses the chance to support the British pub and beer industry by reducing tax again. The report produced by CEBR for CAMRA at the start of 2015 showed how cutting beer tax would have a great economic benefit for the country and the reduction in closure numbers is further proof that the Chancellor’s decision was a good one. It’s pleasing to see that our campaigning to protect community pubs is having an effect, with closure numbers reducing. Local pubs are vital to their communities and the wellbeing of their users, as a recent report from Oxford University showed. As well as reducing tax the government can continue to support these pubs by strengthening national planning regulations and supporting local groups seeking to list pubs as Assets of Community Value.”

Industry News:

Brasserie Blanc survey finds consumers want restaurants to offer more adventurous menus: A survey of 2,000 consumers conducted by Brasserie Blanc, Raymond Blanc’s 17-strong group of French brasseries headed up by chief executive Mark Derry, revealed a demand for high street restaurants to up their game when it comes to the dishes on menus. Respondents deemed food from many high street restaurants far too basic and expressed a want for more adventurous dishes such as game and offal. The survey found: men (55%) are more adventurous than women (43%) when it comes to the dishes they would try, and double the amount of men would try steak tartare than women; Londoners are the most experimental with 70% considering themselves adventurous eaters whilst those from Yorkshire considered themselves the least; 62% of total respondents said the food from many high street restaurant chains was far too basic, whilst 74% of 18-34 year olds wished that high street restaurant menus were more inspiring and dishes more daring; the survey also revealed, surprisingly, people are more adventurous when dining out in restaurants than they would be when dining at home. Derry said: “Our sales and the findings from this study represent a desire from consumers for more exciting and daring dishes, especially when they eat out. Diners are getting increasingly adventurous, particularly the younger audience and, as an industry, we must react to this demand by ensuring we are making these dishes more accessible and at a reasonable price.” Brasserie Blanc’s Flavour Adventures campaign launched last month and a “Festival of Flavour” week takes place from 11 to 17 April. A series of interactive consumer events and master classes will take place across all Brasserie Blanc restaurants, which aim to engage consumers in their dining experience and drive footfall.
Scotland’s licensed sector back in growth – RBS report based on CGA Peach data: A long-term trend of decline in licensed premises in Scotland could be at an end, a new report from RBS based on CGA Peach data has found. It concluded Scotland has lost 1.9% of its licensed premises in the past five years but, during the year to last September, the number had increased by 86, lifting Scotland’s total number of premises to 11,316. Food-led sites are behind the positive trend. The report also measured the impact of legislative changes in Scotland, including the tightening of drink-drive limits. The average food pub in Scotland has seen sales decline by £1,370 a week since the legislative changes, while 24% of Scottish consumers have reduced their frequency of drinking out. Rural pubs and restaurants have been hit much harder than urban ones. The report identified a successful independent sector in Scotland, with 76% of all licensed premises classed as independent free trade, compared with 63% in England and Wales. Scotland also has a high concentration of outlets in cities, with Edinburgh (503) and Glasgow (502) behind only London and Manchester in the list of UK cities with most licensed venues. CGA Peach data on habits revealed 73% of Scots eat out at least monthly – in line with the rest of the UK – but numbers eating out at least weekly are lower at 35% in Scotland, compared with 41% in England and Wales. Numbers drinking out weekly were lower still, at 32%. The report was compiled from data sources including CGA Peach’s BrandTrack, BrandPulse, Outlet Index, Trading Index and Brand Index. The latest edition of the AlixPartners CGA Peach Market Growth Monitor will be published later this month, showing the latest site growth data for the whole of the UK.

Legal update: Solicitors John Gaunt provide a useful monthly update on legal and licensing issues and the latest can be accessed here 

Winner of Virtual Jukebox contest announced: Russell Newby, of London pub operator Pub Love, has won an entertainment package worth £2,000 in the Virtual Jukebox contest. The prize included a Virtual Jukebox trial and a Sonos speaker system. Virtual Jukebox provides interactive music to pubs, bars, restaurants and hotels, with the system allowing owners to customise their venue’s music playlists to suit times of day, season and the mood of events.

Company News:

Peach Pub Company to enter boutique hotel market after Edgbaston plans approved: Independently owned gastro-pub company Peach will enter a new market after plans to build a boutique hotel next to its proposed venue in Edgbaston, Birmingham, were approved. The application to transform 23 Highfield Road on the Calthorpe Estate into a 12-room hotel was lodged by Calthorpe Property, which intends to lease the site to Peach, which operates The High Field gastro-pub next door to the proposed venue. The properties in Highfield Road were built in 1829 and converted into offices in the 1970s. Work to the grade II-listed building includes new bedrooms, bathrooms, a hotel reception, guest lounge and back-of-house facilities on the ground and first floors. Planning officers told Insider Media the hotel would make “effective use” of the building and “increase the diversity of uses” in the surrounding area.

Star Pubs & Bars reports applications for pubs up 8%: New recruitment and pub lease data from Star Pubs & Bars indicates increased interest in leasing a pub within the estate. Applications to Star are up 8% in the last 12 months with 20% of applications resulting from word of mouth referral, a 17% increase on 2012. Word of mouth referrals replaced “To Let” boards for the first time as the third most common recruitment method in 2015 behind online advertising and approaches to “black book” contacts. Amongst existing licensees, occupancy of Star pubs is at its most stable ever. 86% are let on substantive agreements of three years or more. Lawson Mountstevens, managing director of Star Pubs & Bars, said: “The market for the best freehold pubs has been competitive for some years with many operators now finding they are priced out of that market or that it requires them to tie up too much of their capital. This combined with investment, new agreement options and increased support in the leased sector is intensifying competition for quality leased pubs, which provide long-term sustainable business opportunities.”
Douglas Jack – we’re expecting a positive quarter three at Greene King: Numis Securities leisure analyst Douglas Jack has issued a ‘Buy’ note on Greene King shares, with a target price of 975p, forecasting a positive quarter three update. He said: “We expect Greene King to give a positive Quarter three update on 10 February. In our view, there is upside risk to 2016E forecasts. For 2017E and beyond, the company’s cost guidance in relation to the National Living Wage has been clear and is reflected in our forecasts, but no benefit from the potential boost to consumer cash flow is assumed, although the offsetting risk is that food and energy costs will eventually rise. Due to the valuation and upgrade risk, we reiterate our ‘Add’ recommendation. According to the Asda Tracker, average household disposable income was up 7.8% as at December. However, over the last year, a disproportionate amount of incremental cash flow has been spent on mortgage deposits, overseas holidays and online retail. With the exception of 2009, licensed retail has been in slow, steady growth; the big spending fluctuations continue to be elsewhere. Like-for-like trading is picking up in Greene King’s managed estate. Like-for-like sales in the core managed estate increased from 1.3% in quarter one to 2.0% over half one, and from 0.8% to 1.2% for Spirit. In theory, half two trading should be stronger for the core estate due to: a softer comparable (0.0% versus half one’s 0.8%); strong Christmas bookings; passing the anniversary of the reduction in the Scottish drink-drive limit (which caused Scottish like-for-like sales to be down 5% in calendar half one 2015, and down 3-4% in calendar half two 2015); wider pricing ranges; and ongoing investment in digital marketing. In tenanted/leased, the trend is also positive, with like-for-like net income having increased from 2.0% in quarter one to 2.4% over half one for the core estate, with Spirit improving from 1.1% to 1.4%. In half two, the tenanted/leased estate will face similar comparables (3.3%) to half one (3.7%). Greene King should also provide an update on Spirit’s integration and converting sites, eventually into five core growth brands (Hungry Horse, Flaming Grill, Farmhouse Inns, Chef & Brewer and Metropolitan), three locals formats, Loch Fyne and Old English Inns. The company has already increased synergy guidance to £35m from £30m. We expect to at least hold our 2016E forecast (profit before tax £251m; consensus £245m), which assumes no like-for-like sales growth in half two for the managed estate, resulting in earnings per share growth slowing from 15% in half one to just 8% in half two. Given this and an unstrenuous valuation (8% equity free cash flow yield), our recommendation is Add.”
Bruno Loubet opens Grain restaurant offshoot at Gatwick Airport: Michelin-starred chef Bruno Loubet has opened an offshoot of his King’s Cross restaurant Grain at Gatwick Airport. Loubet has launched Grain Store Cafe & Bar in the South Terminal as the result of a partnership with The Zetter Group and Airport Retail Enterprises. It features a family-friendly all-day menu overseen by Loubet and created with airport travellers in mind, and showcases fresh and organic vegetables as well as fish and meat sourced from local British producers, reports the Crawley News. Grain Store Cafe & Bar focuses on speed of service, in line with Gatwick Airport’s promise to serve meals within 15 minutes, “providing premium dining whilst giving passengers peace of mind about their flight plans”. The restaurant also offers takeaway bento boxes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The restaurant has a white tiled takeaway counter, feature bar and open kitchen. It also has a five-metre long glass wall, which offers a window into the kitchen and is the first of its kind in an airport.
Las Iguanas team return from South American research trip for ideas to use in future restaurant designs and menus: A team from Las Iguanas, the Latin American brand owned by Casual Dining Group, has returned from a research trip to Argentina and Brazil for ideas to use in future restaurant designs and menus. The company stated: “With the advice and company of a local restaurant critic, they (the team) visited a whole host of restaurants from high-end boutique hotels to tiny courtyard cafes – each displaying different Latin American design influences. The trip also offered the chance to sample plenty of the local Argentinian cuisines as well as tastes from around South and Central America. A behind the scenes tour into the kitchens and fridges of one of Buenos Aires top restaurants also offered plenty of inspiration, sure to feature on future Las Iguanas menus. (Then it was) over to Rio and the rooftop restaurants of Santa Teresa to explore Brazilian architecture and design. Upon their return they’ve already set upon turning these inspirations into exciting design features and elements for the new Las Iguanas sites opening across the UK in 2016 and we can’t wait to see the result.”
Pop-up crowdfunds to create first all-vegan American diner in West Midlands: The team behind the Vegan Grindhouse pop-up, which serves “100% plant-based Americana street food”, is using crowdfunding site Indiegogo to raise funds to open the first all-vegan restaurant in the West Midlands. A spokeswoman told the Birmingham Mail: “We are ready to take our business to the next level and be able to challenge the stereotype of vegan food by offering a traditional American diner menu of burgers, hot dogs, chilli, mac ‘n’ cheese, fries, apple pies, cakes and shakes using homemade, locally sourced, organic and completely plant-based ingredients.” The team is looking to raise £25,000, with a secondary goal of £30,000, which would result in a bar at the diner. Vegan Grindhouse, which won UK Vegan Caterer of the Year at the UK Vegan Awards 2015, hopes to open within six months if the campaign is successful.
Sticks ‘n’ Sushi plans three more UK sites, debut in Germany, adds two board members: Sticks ‘n’ Sushi UK, with sites in Wimbledon, Covent Garden, Greenwich and Canary Wharf, is to open in Cambridge, Oxford and the new development by Land Securities, Nova, in Victoria. Cambridge will open in the historic Guildhall listed building in May and Westgate in Oxford in 2017 and both will be the first UK restaurants outside of London. The Victoria site is scheduled to open this autumn. Sticks ‘n’ Sushi will also expand in its home market with its 12th restaurant in the Copenhagen area, due to open next month. This unique listed “free stander” was formerly home to a gunpowder magazine and is located by the coast in Amager Strand. The company will open its first restaurant in Germany, Berlin, this winter, meaning, by the end of this calendar year, the group will operate 19 restaurants in three countries. Sticks ‘n’ Sushi has also added Rod McKie, chief executive of Welcome Break, to its board. McKie’s background involves helping shape and expand other leading brands including TGI Friday’s, Coffee Republic and Pret A Manger and, of late, non-executive chairman of Tossed, the healthy eating concept. Also appointed is Siri Lande, senior vice-president of Danske Bank.
Hall & Woodhouse releases first benchmarking report, shows tenants have average net turnover of £418,000: Dorset brewer and retailer Hall & Woodhouse has released its first benchmarking report. It showed its tenanted licensees have an average net turnover of £418,000 and achieve an average wet gross profit of 56% and dry gross profit of 63%. The report also features price benchmarking on key products as well as the operating costs associated with running a Hall & Woodhouse business partnership public house, with comparisons against the UK pub industry as a whole. It has been compiled from data supplied by business partners from an annual price survey as well as open book accounts that Hall & Woodhouse business partners share, and then segmented across four different trading styles. This data was then benchmarked against the 2014/15 data from the British Beer and Pub Association on the costs of running a tied pub. Business partnerships commercial manager Chris Chapman said: “We are very pleased that we were able to produce this benchmarking report to support our business partners. It allows them to compare the pricing of their public house to similar businesses and see where they have the room to alter their prices and maximise their profits, it also demonstrates their performance against similar sites nationwide. It’s a valuable tool that we believe will help existing business partners to improve their profitability and also help attract new business partners to work with us.” 
Michael Caines reveals vineyard plan for luxury Devon hotel: Michelin-starred chef Michael Caines has announced the opening date and more details of his £7.5m transformation of a Devon country house into a luxury hotel. He is transforming Courtlands House, near Lympstone, into a 21-bedroom hotel and restaurant, with three dining rooms and its own vineyard. The property, which overlooks the Exe estuary, is due to be completed by December and will open to guests on Valentine’s Day next year. Caines, who left his position as head chef at Gidleigh Park, near Chagford on Dartmoor, at the start of this year, told the Exeter Express and Echo: “It’s a dream come true. What we want to do is create a fantastic hotel with 21 rooms, with the idea perhaps of taking it up to 30, to create a brand in Lympstone Manor country house hotel and restaurant, team up with a vineyard to put some of the parkland under vines, and to create a fantastic attribute in the landscape of east Devon. We will create about 60 to 80 jobs through this scheme. I was born in Exeter and to have the opportunity to do business so close is really exciting – and we’ll champion the best of the region through regional produce.”
Nando’s to open venue at £150m Resorts World complex in Birmingham: Nando’s will be the latest operator to move into the £150m Resorts World complex in Birmingham when it opens a restaurant on Wednesday (10 February). Resorts World opened at the former NEC site in October, with the huge complex including a cinema, casino and venues for Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Casual Dining Group brand Las Iguanas, Patisserie Valerie, PizzaExpress and TGI Friday’s. The new site is Nando’s seventh in Birmingham.
BrewDog USA’s new vice-president of sales – ‘I joined because it sounded like the best adventure ever’: The new vice-president of sales for BrewDog USA Jason Davis has said he joined the company because it “sounded like the best adventure ever”. Davis, who previously worked for Sierra Nevada Brewing Co for 13 years, took up the position last month as part of the team behind BrewDog’s new $32.5m brewery and pub/restaurant called DogTap in Canal Winchester, in the suburbs of Columbus, Ohio. He said: “I’m inspired to bring the promise of great craft beer and the unbridled attitude of BrewDog to Ohio and all of the US! I would have never considered leaving Sierra Nevada, but the opportunity to join BrewDog and help build the US business from the ground up (literally!) sounded like the greatest adventure ever. I wanted to be with a company that is full of bold, irreverent and uncompromising individuals. BrewDog is that place and I am glad to be here!” Davis is working on the BrewDog USA project with its “expansion matriarch” Katie Murphy and Keith Bennet, who is project managing the build of its 100,000 square foot production brewery. BrewDog is also inviting suggestions of US cities where it should open sites via its website. 
Cotswolds Inns & Hotels secures ninth site as it buys hotel in Cheltenham for £4m: Cotswolds Inns & Hotels Group has secured its ninth site having acquired The George in Cheltenham off a guide price of £4m. The company has bought the 30-bedroom property, which is the largest privately owned hotel in the Gloucestershire town, from Jeremy and Alison Shaw in an off-market deal brokered by agents Colliers International. The grade-II-listed Georgian hotel in St George’s Road, near the city centre, also has a restaurant and meeting rooms. Colliers International hotels director Peter Brunt, who acted for the vendors, said: “Cheltenham boasts a number of top notch hotels, but The George, with its 30 elegant bedrooms and popular Monty’s brasserie, is ideally situated to welcome overseas, business and leisure guests. As well as being the gateway to the Cotswolds, Cheltenham offers a host of world class events throughout the year, ensuring its hotels are in constant demand at all times.” Cotswolds Inns & Hotels has eight other sites in Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire.
Friday Beer Co increases equity stake and extends offer in £150,000 crowdfunding drive: Brewer Friday Beer Co, founded by Gerald Williams, has increased its equity stake and extended its offer as it looks to raise £150,000 on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube. The company was previously offering a 16.67% equity stake in return for the investment but after feedback from potential investors, that has now risen to 25%. The pitch has also been extended by ten days. So far 94 investors have pledged £85,580 with the largest investment to date being £10,000. The company stated: “The Friday Beer Co valuation has been changed and we are now offering investors a share of 25% of the company equity for their fraction of the £150,000. We have improved the deal and we hope that this will attract more of you to join us on the next phase of our adventure. This improved deal does, of course, also apply to those of you that have already invested.” In its pitch, the company said it aspires to be the UK’s next “BrewDog style of business” and sees it expanding over the years towards “Friday” branded city-based bars with novel “beer tank” dispensing systems selling its premium ales.

Whitbread to open first Premier Inn in Germany this month: Whitbread will open its first Premier Inn in Germany on Monday, 22 February. The hotel in Frankfurt is next to the Messe Exhibition Centre and close to the Festhalle concert hall and Kap Europa Convention Centre. Whitbread said the hotel is also only 25 minutes by road and rail from Frankfurt Airport and a 15-minute walk or short underground ride from the city’s main railway station.
Michelin-starred chef Richard Davies to launch restaurant at Celtic Manor: Michelin-starred chef Richard Davies, who worked under Gordon Ramsay, is to open a new restaurant at the Celtic Manor Resort, near Newport in Wales. Davies, who started off working as an 18-year-old trainee in Celtic Manor’s kitchen, will take charge of new fine dining venue Epicure, which opens on Saturday, 13 February and takes over the space formerly occupied by the resort’s previous fine dining option, Terry M. The word epicure means a person with refined taste who takes particular pleasure in fine food and drink, and that is exactly the experience the resort wants to create at the new restaurant. Davies told Wales Online: “It’s a beautiful dining room and Celtic Manor is a stunning hotel. I know I’m coming back to the best hotel in Wales and now I want to give it the best restaurant in Wales.” He left Wales in the late 1990s, before going on to climb the culinary ladder in celebrated restaurants, including three years at the triple Michelin-starred Gordon Ramsay in London. He also won coveted Michelin stars of his own in his first head chef posts at Sawyards in West Sussex and the Manor House at Castle Combe, near Bath. 
D&D London appoints James Durrant as executive head chef of Bluebird Chelsea: D&D London has appointed James Durrant as executive head chef of its iconic Bluebird Chelsea restaurant in King’s Road. Durrant began his London career under Gordon Ramsay as a junior sous chef before moving on to Gordon Ramsay at Claridge’s as senior sous chef. In 2005, he was appointed head chef at Maze, working alongside Jason Atherton. The restaurant was awarded a Michelin star within its first year. Durrant went on to become executive chef at both Maze and Maze Grill before opening his own restaurant, The Plough Inn in Longparish, Hampshire, where he won a Michelin Bib Gourmand and two AA rosettes. Durrant said: “I’m really excited about my move to Bluebird and being involved in the redevelopment of the restaurant. Over the next few months, I’ll be putting my stamp on the menu and hoping to embark on a new era for Bluebird.” David Loewi, managing director of D&D, said: “I am thrilled to welcome James Durrant. His pedigree and wealth of experience will be a great addition to Bluebird, one of D&D’s most iconic venues.” 
Mitchells & Butlers outsources management of 550-strong car fleet to Fleet Operations: Mitchells & Butlers has outsourced the management of its 550-strong car fleet to Fleet Operations. The independent fleet management services provider will take over full day-to-day responsibility for Mitchells & Butlers’ company car operations, managing a multi-bid panel of leasing providers to ensure contract hire rates remain consistently competitive. Fleet Operations has also negotiated, and will oversee the performance of, a separate “pay as you go” maintenance contract to provide a fully disclosed cost and net price on every item of spend. Mitchells & Butlers director of procurement and supply chain Darrell Wilson said: “We went out to a wide range of potential suppliers and selected Fleet Operations because of their transparent and ethical business model, which removes a lot of the traditional ‘smoke and mirrors’ associated with the provision of fleet services.” Fleet Operations chief executive Ross Jackson said: “The company car continues to play a key role in the recruitment and retention of high quality staff. By focusing on cost control and best practice fleet management, we will help ensure the business retains an important competitive advantage.”
Chef co-launches £2m restaurant and neighbouring wine bar in Harrogate: Chef Michael Carr has co-launched a £2m restaurant and neighbouring wine bar in Harrogate, North Yorkshire. Carr, who has worked at Michelin-starred restaurants in London including Gordon Ramsay’s at Claridge’s and Alyn Williams at the Westbury, has teamed up with developer Ian Humphreys to open Restaurant 92 and The Optimist wine bar in Station Parade. The pair promise “high quality dishes” and “heartier Yorkshire portions” at the 80-cover restaurant. Humphreys spent £2m on the development of the sites, which have created 12 jobs, while Carr, who launched his career at Rudding Park, has a 30% stake in the restaurant. Humphreys told The Business Desk: “Harrogate has more than 200 restaurants and some great places to eat. But what Michael and I feel is missing is that special mix of fine dining with somewhere you love and can afford to go regularly. The Optimist will also bring something unique to the town. In addition to complementing the restaurant, it will offer an unrivalled selection of wines to suit every taste alongside craft beers and a small, but taste-packed, menu of charcuterie and cheeses.”
Flour & Ash to open second Bristol venue – on Casamia’s former site: Award-winning Bristol pizzeria Flour & Ash will move into premises previously occupied by Michelin-starred restaurant Casamia, which recently relocated to the city’s Harbourside area. Flour & Ash owner Steve Gale and head chef Joe Wilkin hope to open the restaurant at the beginning of April. Gale said: “We’ve always been on the lookout for a location to open a second restaurant. When the Casamia site became available we did a bit of research in the area and felt it could really work for us. I think some restaurateurs have been put off by the thought of following in Casamia’s footsteps, but what we offer is very different.” Gale and Wilkin set up Flour & Ash in 2014. The name refers to the two core elements on which the restaurant is based – 100% sourdough bases and a high-temperature, wood-fired oven, which produces an authentic charred crust.

Amber Taverns hires Sam Frankland as head of property: Sam Frankland has been appointed as head of property at Amber Taverns to work alongside joint managing director Bryan Wardman. Frankland will be responsible for expanding the Amber Taverns estate throughout the UK and assisting with the development of new acquisitions into great community pubs and town centre bars, such as the recent Hogarths openings in Swansea and Leicester. Wardman said: “We are pleased to bring Sam on board to assist our growth plans across the UK. Sam has a huge amount of experience in the licensed sector and has a great understanding of the pub market. He will be great asset to Amber Taverns.” 

Carluccio’s to open as part of Solihull town centre renaissance: Carluccio’s will open a venue as part of wide-ranging plans to transform Solihull town centre. The company, which already has venues in Brindleyplace and Grand Central, Birmingham, will front a new four-storey building at the Mell Square shopping centre. The new building, which will also include three floors of offices, is expected to kick-start wider work from IM Properties, which bought the 747,000 square foot development from Aviva for £44m in 2013. Alison Stanton, Carluccio’s operations director, told the Birmingham Mail: “This is a perfect gateway location between the High Street and Mell Square, with a great level of prominence. The design for the space is ideal for us and we are very pleased to be working with IM Properties to secure our first restaurant in Solihull.” The building is expected to be completed this year. IM Properties asset manager Rob Hemus said: “It’s fantastic that we’ve been able to confirm Carluccio’s, who have been looking to get into Solihull for well over three years, as the new occupier for a restaurant unit.”

New rooftop restaurant and ground floor cafe-bar being marketed in South Shields: A new rooftop restaurant and a ground floor cafe-bar are being marketed in South Shields. Agent Sanderson Weatherall has been appointed to find an operator for the 3,315 square foot restaurant at The Word, the “jewel in the crown” of the £100m regeneration of South Shields, which aims to improve links between the town centre, Riverside and Foreshore and create stronger connectivity to the area. It is offering an established restaurateur the opportunity to take a full repairing and insuring lease on the venue’s rooftop restaurant, at a proposed rental commencing at £55,000 per annum. The restaurant will be provided to shell specification ready for fit-out and incorporates covered space and an outdoor terrace. A fully fitted commercial kitchen is also included. A 1,300 square foot ground floor cafe with a generous external terrace is also offered with the same lease terms at a proposed rental starting at £20,000 per annum. Facilities in the three-storey building, which is scheduled to open this autumn, will include conference and meeting rooms, performance space and a retail area.
Planning application submitted for fire-destroyed Woolsington Hall: A planning application has been lodged to help reconstruct the historic Woolsington Hall near Newcastle following a dramatic fire at the grade II-listed property just over a month ago. Proposals to transform the venue into a £23m five-star hotel had previously been given the green light but are now on hold following the blaze. On the night of 29 December 2015, there was a severe fire in the building, which started in the south west ground floor room. Some works were needed immediately in the days after the fire, which involved taking down unstable masonry. If the masonry had fallen, it could have “caused greater damage to the historic fabric of the building”. In January, Northumbria Police said the fire had caused “millions of pounds of damage”. “The offenders set multiple fires inside the building which caused it to be completely destroyed,” it added in a statement. “Officers believe the fires were started maliciously and are investigating the incident as arson.” The fire came six months after plans to redevelop the derelict Woolsington Hall into a £23m five-star hotel with spa complex, golf course and restaurant were approved. Now the company behind the multimillion-pound project, Cameron Hall Developments, has submitted a listed building application with a view to demolishing certain parts of the property, which were hit by fire damage.
Brend Hotels reports turnover and profit boost: Brend Hotels, which operates a portfolio of three and four-star hotels in Devon and Cornwall, has reported sales and profit growth in its latest financial results following investment in its properties. The business was founded by butcher Percy Brend in 1955 and currently has 11 luxury hotels including Saunton Sands Hotel in Braunton, The Imperial in Barnstaple and the Carlyon Bay Hotel in St Austell. In October, the company was named Hotel Group of the Year at the national AA Hospitality Awards 2015. According to the latest accounts for Percy R Brend & Sons (Hoteliers), which trades as Brend Hotels, turnover for the year ending 31 March 2015 was £32.5m, up from £30.5m in 2014. Pre-tax profit was £629,429, compared with £397,646 the year before. The company was boosted by investment in its hotels, adding new rooms and facilities, with further works planned for the year ahead.
Park Lane nightclub for sale with unknown price tag: One For One nightclub in Park Lane, once a favourite haunt of A-list celebrities and bankers, has been put on the market for an unknown price tag. The venue closed in 2014 following a difference of opinion among its owners regarding the club’s future. The private overseas leasehold owner is now selling up, with property agents Davis Coffer Lyons overseeing the sale of the long lease, which has a rent attached of £225,000 a year. Jonathan Moradoff, director of Davis Coffer Lyons, told the Evening Standard: “This could be the perfect opportunity for overseas club operators and UK investors who want to make money in a prestigious location that hedge-fund managers, bankers and celebrities will flock to.” One For One made headlines in 2011 when it sold its most expensive bottle of champagne – American gambler Don Johnson bought a Midas bottle of Armand de Brignac for £120,000.
Patisserie Valerie opens new site at McArthurGlen Designer Outlet in York: Patisserie Valerie, the company that has sector investor Luke Johnson as executive chairman, has opened a new site at the McArthurGlen Designer Outlet in York. The company has opened a 1,873 square foot site with 69 covers at the complex in St Nicholas Avenue, creating 25 jobs. McArthurGlen York Designer Outlet centre manager Mike Thomas told The Business Desk: “We are delighted to welcome one of the most dynamic and fast growing food and beverage brands in the United Kingdom to our portfolio. Patisserie Valerie’s reputation is built upon the quality of every product, and we are sure that their artisan craft skills and traditional baking methods will be a welcomed addition to the centre.” Patisserie Valerie has two other outlets in York – in Coppergate and Feasgate.
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 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-licensed 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

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