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Wed 10th Feb 2016 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Camerons Brewery reports return to pre-tax profit: North east brewer and retailer Camerons Brewery has reported a return to pre-tax profit. The company saw a pre-tax profit of £1,523,278 for the year ending 3 May 2015, compared with a loss of £571,322 the year before, according to accounts filed at Companies House. Turnover was also slightly up to £60,887,284, compared with £60,512,509 the previous year. The company stated: “During the period, debt reduced by a further £2.0m with net debt to Ebitda ratio at the year end of 3.9 times, down from 4.5 times at the end of the prior year. This is providing the business with a solid foundation and significant momentum to realise its growth targets. Ebitda for the 12 months to April 2015 of £5.5m was 11% higher than the underlying Ebitda of £4.9m (statutory reported £5.2m) in the prior year. The objectives of our five-year business plan, investing in our core business pillars of brewing, brands and pub retail continue to be followed and real progress has been made during the year and beyond. We have continued to invest in quality managed leasehold assets during the year with four new outlets acquired bringing the total number of outlets in our expanding managed division to 14 at the year end. We have significantly invested in our core estate, spending £0.8m whilst maintaining the strategy of disposing of underperforming non-core assets. There were 71 outlets at the year end following disposal of five outlets and four acquisitions. Since the year end we have acquired one outlet, signed heads of terms on another five managed outlets and sold our last remaining three non-core outlets. The disposals have resulted in impairments and losses on sale of £0.6m. The contract brewing business is very robust as we continue to attract new customers and we are delighted to have recently completed an investment of £1.5m on a new bottling facility, which was fully operational from November 2015, thus giving the business the ability to provide a one-stop shop brewing and bottling service to its existing and new customer base. Own brands sales continue to increase as we expand and improve our range to meet changing consumer habits. We successfully completed a refinancing of our loan facilities with new bankers in December 2015, which has provided the company with significant additional funding to enable business plan growth targets to be achieved. In summary the directors are very pleased with the progress being made and expect further progress in 2016.”

Industry News:

Fairlie – ‘macho’ chefs putting young people off restaurant trade: Young people are being discouraged from working in the hospitality trade because of the “macho culture” of the kitchen, double Michelin star-winning chef Andrew Fairlie said. The former Scottish Chef of the Year lamented the number of young people joining the industry, and said many restaurants were crying out for staff. He blamed the high-pressure nature of the job for putting trainees off, with images of angry television chefs foremost in people’s minds when they thought of top-end professional cooking. Fairlie, who runs his eponymous two Michelin-star restaurant at Gleneagles, told The Herald: “When I started my career, kitchens could be brutal, violent places. However over the last 30 years, to its great credit, the industry has taken many steps to remove this aggression. The macho culture has dwindled and kitchens are nowadays often calm places where the emphasis is on order as well as creativity. Perceived long, unsociable hours, in addition to the impact of the confrontational nature of some TV cooking competitions, have contributed to the negative outlook of some younger, emerging chefs. There are pressures in any kitchen, especially in top-end restaurants, but that can be part of the attraction. With the huge increase in the number of restaurants, there are countless jobs out there.” Fairlie was speaking at the launch of the Catering in Scotland Excellence Awards, which aims to identify Scotland’s Junior Chef of the Year.

Agent Fleurets offers units at New Oxford Street site: Agent Fleurets is offering units at 55 New Oxford Street in London on a rental offers invited basis. The property, marketed jointly with Time Retail Partners, is 200 metres from Tottenham Court Road underground station, with spaces available as one complete unit or separately, with 846 square feet on the ground floor and a further 4,343 square feet at basement level, with the advantage of a 2am alcohol licence. More than £1bn has been invested in Tottenham Court Road station as part of the Crossrail transport project. Elysia Wilson-Gunn, of Fleurets, said: “This prime space could have a range of commercial leisure uses and Fleurets or Time Retail Partners would be happy to explore offers made on a rental offers invited basis.”

London to gain further 7,000 hotel rooms, growth in demand remains subdued: London will see the opening of 7,000 hotel rooms this year – double that of last year’s openings – putting additional pressure on occupancy levels and achieved room rates, according to a new report. Across the UK some 16,000 hotel rooms are expected to open this year, compared with 10,000 last year, according to the latest Hotel Bulletin published by HVS, AlixPartners and AM:PM. Revpar growth across 12 UK cities in quarter four of 2015 was an average of 2%, significantly lower than the 19% average growth recorded in quarter four in 2014, with occupancy in the same period falling in eight of the 12 cities. London’s occupancy declined for the fourth consecutive quarter. HVS chairman Russell Kett said: “The huge amount of openings planned for 2016 in London will be of concern to the city’s hoteliers who, while historically are used to robust performance, are currently experiencing limited demand growth. Flat or declining occupancy is historically followed by plateauing rates indicating that a peak in hotel market trading may nearly have been reached.” Over half of the UK’s development pipeline opening within the next three years is in the budget sector (51%), made up of hostels, budget and two-star hotels. The second largest growth sector is that of four-star properties at 28%. Some 9% of the development pipeline is apartments while a further 9% is five-star hotels. Kett added: “As has been the case for some time, future openings are heavily biased towards the budget hotel sector as these are relatively quick and cheap to build and offer good returns. Demand for budget rooms is still strong from both the leisure and the business sector proving the format is one of the most successful in the hotel business. This growth is likely to continue, particularly with new players emerging such as Premier Inn’s super budget hub concept.” The UK’s current supply of hotel rooms is split fairly evenly between the key sectors with a third (33%) of supply being budget rooms, 30% being three-star, and 30% being four-star properties. Apartments make up just 3% of current supply, with five-star properties making up 4%.

Company News: 

Mitchells & Butlers to open second Miller & Carter site in Scotland featuring brand’s first ‘Steak Table’, plans further expansion in country: Mitchells & Butlers is to open its second Miller & Carter site in Scotland featuring the brand’s first “Steak Table” experience and is planning further expansion in the country. The company will launch the new steakhouse in the former Post Office in St Vincent Street, Glasgow, on Friday, 4 March. It is currently refurbishing the site, which was the former National Bank of Scotland, into a restaurant for up to 200 guests with a private dining room, creating 70 jobs. Miller & Carter Glasgow will also be the first of the brand’s restaurants to feature the “Steak Table” experience, where up to ten guests can enjoy an immersive, educational dining package. Guests will learn more about the different types of steak, Miller & Carter’s field to fork story, and how to cook the perfect steak, as well as enjoying an opportunity to sample the steaks with perfectly matched wines. Miller & Carter retail business manager Tim Ellis said: “We’re absolutely thrilled to be involved with such a wonderful historic building as part of our expansion in Scotland. In terms of our expansion plans, we’ll be opening in Aberdeen city centre at the end of the summer and planning more restaurants to bring our exceptional scotch beef and quality hospitality to more venues across Scotland soon.” Miller & Carter’s other Scottish restaurant is in Edinburgh.

Le Bistrot Pierre to invest £4m in expansion, eyes sites with little competition: Private equity-backed restaurant group Le Bistrot Pierre will invest up to £4m on new venues and refurbishments in its current financial year, co-founder John Whitehead has told Insider Media. Le Bistrot Pierre opened its 14th venue in Newport, Wales, in November and the following month secured a £9.8m funding package from Livingbridge to fund UK-wide expansion. The company plans to open venues in Birmingham and Swansea in the coming months and is eyeing a site in the Bristol area. Whitehead said: “We’re looking at sites we think we can get a good return on and where there’s not a great deal of competition. It’s a competitive market. When we opened in Nottingham in 1994 there was no one around, now there’s something like 1,100 restaurants and we’re seeing revenue grow every year. There’s still enough opportunity for a business like ours to grow to 70, 80 or even 90 units.” Whitehead also hailed the group’s new backers. He said: “I think it’s been a really good deal for both parties.”

Casual Dining Group to convert La Tasca venue in York to Las Iguanas: Casual Dining Group will convert a La Tasca site in York to a Las Iguanas restaurant – to open on Monday, 28 March. Conversion of the site in Back Swinegate follows Casual Dining Group’s acquisition last year of the La Tasca brand. A spokeswoman for Las Iguanas told The Press about 20 of the team from La Tasca would join Las Iguanas following training, with an additional 18 jobs created. La Tasca used to feature salsa dancing upstairs, while the restaurant was a meeting place for Spanish/Latin American ex-pats living in and visiting York. Asked whether this would carry on under Las Iguanas, the spokeswoman said: “The new restaurant will be a great space to get together and meet, relax and have fun. The South American twist on our menu and in the bar also tends to naturally attract ex-pats. York has been on our wish list for many years so we are delighted to finally be opening this spring.” The company said anyone with a La Tasca loyalty card could still gain monthly discounts and benefits each time they visited one of its alternative locations.

Cambscuisine to relaunch Crown and Punchbowl gastro-pub in March: Cambridge pub and restaurant operator Cambscuisine will relaunch The Crown and Punchbowl gastro-pub in Horningsea following a major refurbishment on Wednesday, 2 March. The eight-week revamp included opening up the front entrance, building a conservatory to cover seating at the rear, refurbishing the five guest rooms upstairs, and restoring original features. A Cambscuisine spokesman said the aim was “to make the place more convivial and to welcome people in for just a drink – the bar area will be bigger, more appealing and will serve real ales straight from the cask”. Four further rooms will be added in a year’s time.

Byron to open venue at Intu Metrocentre in Gateshead, takes last spot in The Qube dining zone: Upmarket burger chain Byron will open a venue in The Qube at the Intu Metrocentre, Gateshead, in April. Byron is the 11th and last restaurant brand to sign up for the new dining zone as a raft of restaurants get set to open within weeks. Byron announced ambitious plans to open at least ten new restaurants a year after it was acquired by Hutton Collins Partners in 2013 for £100m. Since then, the company has invested a significant sum into opening a branch at the Monument in Newcastle city centre, the success of which triggered the signing of a lease at Intu Metrocentre, where the £17m project to extend The Qube was first announced three years ago. The scheme is nearing completion. Bernice Neasham, Intu Metrocentre senior asset manager, told Chronicle Live: “All the new operators are in. It depends on the size of the unit as to when they will open but towards the end of March, over Easter, we’ll start to see them take in customers and they should all be open by mid-April.” The other restaurants in The Qube are Azzurri group-owned ASK Italian, Barburrito, Casual Dining Group brands Bella Italia and La Tasca, Five Guys, Subway, TGI Friday’s, Thai Leisure Group’s Thaikhun, and Chiquito and Coast to Coast, which are both owned by The Restaurant Group.

Prezzo to open first store in Republic of Ireland: Prezzo will open its first Irish store in Liffey Valley Shopping Centre in Dublin on Saturday (13 February). Last month, the company announced it had lined up its second site in Northern Ireland after signing up to the Boucher Square development in south Belfast. The company already has a venue in Victoria Square in Belfast city centre and the chain has grown to more than 200 restaurants since first opening in London’s New Oxford Street in 2000. 

Pieminister to open flagship restaurant in Nottingham city centre this month: Pie outlet Pieminister will open its flagship restaurant in Chapel Bar, Nottingham, on Friday, 19 February. The restaurant is opening at a former Boots store following a £300,000 refit, which took longer than expected partly due to the discovery of a 50-foot escalator built into a wall, the Nottingham Post reported. An urban look has been achieved with industrial-style ducting, neon lights and reclaimed timber. The “best seats in the house” are in a playhouse-style structure dubbed the “hunting lodge”, for parties of up to ten. The restaurant will offer a 15-strong savoury pie menu plus five hot pots. Traditional Moo is filled with British beef and ale, while Chilli Con Carnage comes with two chillies on the menu, including a scotch bonnet. Vegetarian options include Green Goddess, an open-top pie with spinach, feta, butternut squash and chickpeas. As well as mash and gravy, side dishes include minted mushy peas and courgette fries. Desserts feature Pieminister’s own version of Mississippi mud pie – Glastonbury Mud. Drinks include cocktails, craft ales and craft cider. Jon Simon launched Pieminister in Bristol with his brother-in-law Tristan Hogg in 2003.

Elysium Group set to open new £2.5m venue in Colchester this autumn, seeks further sites: Elysium Group, the Essex-based boutique restaurant, club and bar operator, is set to open its latest £2.5m venue on the river front in Colchester this autumn – its biggest project to date – and is seeking further sites. The company, which bought the River Lodge pub in Middleborough in 2012, is transforming the property into a bar and restaurant called Pavilion, creating 60 jobs. It described the venue as a boutique restaurant with a terrace that will face onto the River Colne. The menu will be seafood focused with a “raw bar” serving sushi, sashimi and seafood platters. Elysium business development manager Shirin Nia told the Daily Gazette: “This is definitely our biggest project so far. The River Lodge area doesn’t have anything similar to this but hopefully this will encourage other people to do the same to create an attractive area. We have seen exponential growth over the last two years and we are looking for bigger venues for the future. We are always looking for opportunities to drive the town forwards and create a more premium place to visit.” Elysium, founded by Ash Afzainia in 2002, has six venues in Colchester along with Mimosa in Chelsea, west London.

Turtle Bay opens first north east of England site in Newcastle: Caribbean restaurant Turtle Bay has opened its new restaurant in Newcastle city centre – its first site in the north east of England. The company has invested £800,000 in the 150-seat venue, which is taking up a unit in the £17m regenerated Co-op building in Newgate Street, creating 50 jobs, reports Chronicle Live. The restaurant has a central island bar and indoor “veranda-style” drinking spaces. Original “ghost” signage discovered during the site’s development has been maintained and is blended into bespoke murals, artwork and light boxes. Turtle Bay, established by Ajith Jaya-Wickrema, who also co-founded Las Iguanas, has 26 restaurants across the UK. 

Cote to open new site in Lincoln today: French brasserie Cote will open its new restaurant in Lincoln today (Wednesday, 10 February). The company has spent about £1m refurbishing the High Street site, creating 35 jobs. It has taken over the site of the Craft bar, which opened two years ago and whose owners are also the management behind Home nightclub in the city centre. Josie Price, of Cote Brasserie, told the Lincolnshire Echo: “With there being three or four new (restaurant) openings (in the area), it’s exactly where we want to be. Not that it’s a bad thing, but there are a lot of Italian restaurants in the area and it’s nice to offer tourists and local people something different. All of our food is fresh and made to order and of a very high quality. We pride ourselves on that.” Cote has more than 70 restaurants across the UK.

North Bar to open largest site to date in Harrogate this month: Yorkshire-based craft beer company North Bar will open its new site in Harrogate on Friday, 19 February – its largest to date. The company will open the venue in a vacant unit in Cheltenham Parade facing the back of Harrogate Theatre. The site will have a bar on the ground floor with the first floor primarily available for private hire for up to 50 people as well as an outdoor area. The bar will have a large range of spirits and wines plus 12 different taps featuring beer from North Bar’s own brewery, North Brewing Co, and a constantly changing line-up of beers. Co-director John Gyngell told the Harrogate Advertiser: “We’re so excited to be getting involved in the thriving independent scene in Harrogate, and are keen to collaborate with active independents and foster relationships locally. It has long been the mission of North Bar to ensure we’re active stakeholders in the community, and already feel very welcomed by the people and businesses in Harrogate.” North Bar, which launched in 1997, currently operates six bars in Leeds.

City Pub Company submits plans for third Cambridge pub: City Pub Company, led by Clive Watson, has submitted plans for a new pub in Cambridge – its third in the city. The company has applied to the city council to convert the former Howes Cycles site in Regent Street it acquired last year, reports the Cambridge News. It has already been granted a licence to run a pub at the venue and has now lodged a planning application, which includes a number of quirky features to reflect the site’s cycling heritage, such as a vintage style delivery bike mounted to the front of the pub. The bulk of the space available to drinkers and other customers will be on the ground floor with a private dining space on the first floor. City Pub Company previously said: “The market we’re trying to go for is not the traditional pub market. There’s lots of traditional pubs in Cambridge. What we feel there isn’t is the mid-market food and drink market, unless it’s the large chains, which we feel are boring and haven’t moved with the market.” The company already runs The Mill and The Cambridge Brew House in the city.

Starbucks to open first venue on Isle of Man: Starbucks is set to open its first venue on the Isle of Man. No date has been set for the launch of the venue on the corner of Victoria Street and Duke Street in Douglas. The premises formerly housed an estate agents and is only a few doors down from rival Coffee Republic. Crema will operate the Starbucks site and has applied for planning permission for outside seating areas, Isle of Man Today reported. Whitbread-owned Costa Coffee, the biggest coffee shop brand in the UK, already operates as a franchise business in a number of locations on the Isle of Man.

Chipotle offers free burritos to win back business, commits $10m to help farmers: Staff presentations, which led Chipotle to postpone the opening of its 1,971 US restaurants for four hours on Monday (8 February), led the company to offer free burritos to disgruntled customers. About 50,000 employees viewed the presentation at more than 400 locations, including theatres and hotel conference rooms around the country, Associated Press reported. As a peace offering to inconvenienced customers, the company said it would give free burritos to people who texted in a code. The presentations took place after Chipotle’s sales plunged 30% in December following an E. coli outbreak and another incident in which 80 students fell ill with norovirus after eating at a restaurant in Boston. In January, the company suffered another 36% decline in like-for-like sales. At the presentation, executives also announced Chipotle would commit up to $10m to help farmers adhere to its new safety measures. The Chipotle Local Grower Support Initiative will help offset the costs of enhanced testing and food safety practices for some smaller farmers in the form of grants or premiums. Chipotle said last year, its US restaurants served more than 30 million pounds of produce sourced from local farmers, about 12% of all produce used in its restaurants.

Native wild food restaurant to open in Covent Garden today, co-owned by River Cottage trained chef: Wild food restaurant Native will open in Covent Garden, London, today (Wednesday, 10 February). The venue is co-owned by River Cottage trained chef Ivan Tisdall-Downes and falconry expert Imogen Davis. The pair operated pop-ups and at street markets but the venue in Neal’s Yard is their first permanent site. The restaurant uses wild food native to the UK through a combination of “innovative cooking and country thrift”. The menu includes wild rabbit and prune pastilla with pickled walnut salad, pigeon breast with sweet brambles and pickled cabbage, and smoked pollock croquettes with lovage mayonnaise. Desserts include bramble and mint bakewell with clotted cream and berries, and pain perdu with raspberries, basil and lemon curd ice cream. Tisdall-Downes trained at River Cottage headquarters in Devon, developing his passion for natural, foraged and seasonal British produce. He has also received a Great Taste Award from the Guild of Fine Food. 

Edinburgh-based specialist coffee shop starts expanding by opening second site in city: Edinburgh-based specialist coffee shop Brew Lab has started expanding by opening its second site in the city. The concept, launched four years ago in South College Street, has opened its new outlet in the West End, hidden off Queensferry Street Lane. Co-founder Dave Law told Wow24/7: “We like quirky units, tucked away off the main drag as we try to be a destination business. In terms of design, we wanted to make it contrast the South College Street cafe, which reflects its period features and university setting. In the West End cafe we’ve ended up with a super contemporary look with clean, eccentric lines, strip lights and neon that gives a nice nod to the 1990s.”

Former Camden Town Brewery director secures backing for Bristol brewery launch: Lost and Grounded, a start-up founded by chief brewer Alex Troncoso and his partner Annie, has targeted July for the launch of its brewery in Bristol. Troncoso, most recently brewing director at Anheuser-Busch InBev-owned Camden Town Brewery, has received backing from investment vehicle Made by HAND (MBH). Troncoso is also the former chief brewer of Little Creatures Brewing in Australia. Troncoso stated in a blog post this week: “We are really excited to have MBH on board as one of our shareholders. These guys were four of the original founders of Little Creatures Brewing in Australia in 2000, and to have them with us feels like our lives have come full circle. Annie and I have put our life savings into this dream, but we knew we would need some help to get there in the end. MBH, along with a few other good folk, are investing on a passive basis and are prepared to offer advice if we need it, but likewise equally happy to sit back, have a pint and watch things unfold.”

Stonegate Pub Company to rebrand Cardiff city centre nightclub as Popworld: Stonegate Pub Company is rebranding its Flares 1970s retro-themed bar in Cardiff city centre to open as a Popworld nightclub on Friday, 19 February. The venue in St Mary Street will focus on 1990s nostalgia following a £150,000 refurbishment. The official launch will feature Smirnoff’s One Night Only event, with UV cannons, glowbots and fire eaters. Popworld will feature a refreshed feel, the company stated, plus funky booths and an exclusive VIP area. Alan Armstrong, head of marketing for Stonegate Pub Company’s venues division, said: “Popworld is one of our most popular brands throughout the UK and this new venue is a welcome addition to our existing 16 clubs. The demand for this concept has increased massively recently and we’re excited to open and find out what the local residents make of it!” Stonegate has been rebranding all of its Flares/Reflex retro-themed bars in the UK. 

Savills offers Bath city centre hotel site for £4.5m: Property agent Savills has brought the former Carfax Hotel in Bath city centre to market on behalf of a private client for a guide price in excess of £4.5m. The grade I-listed Georgian property in Great Pulteney Street, comprised of three terraced townhouses and a two-storey coach house, operated as a 31-bedroom hotel before closing in 2013. It is being sold with full planning permission to create an additional eight bedrooms and extend the dining space. Martin Rogers, Savills hotels director, said: “This historic property previously traded successfully as a hotel and with Bath’s strong tourist market, plus planning permission in place to add further bedrooms, it could certainly do so again.” Offers must be made by midday on Monday, 14 March.

Lake District hotel bought for £2.4m: A Lake District hotel has been bought for £2.4m by a couple that already run a ski chalet business in France. Jamie and Jenna Shail have acquired the Rothay Manor Hotel & Restaurant in Ambleside, Cumbria, in a deal brokered by agent Colliers International on behalf of previous owners Nigel and Gwyneth Nixon who are retiring to live locally. The Nixon family had owned and operated Rothay Manor since 1966. The Shails will run the four-star hotel, which has 19 en-suite bedrooms, while also continuing to operate their ski chalet business at Courchevel near Meribel. Haydn Spedding, associate director, hotels, at Colliers International, told The Business Desk: “Jamie and Jenna have great experience in the hospitality industry and will continue with their ski chalet business in France. They look forward to continuing and enhancing the reputation of Rothay Manor and are introducing new key staff to the business including the former head chef of the three rosette East Lodge in Derbyshire.”

Macdonald Hotels increases profits and turnover: Macdonald Hotels has announced increased profits and turnover for its last financial year. The group, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, operates 55 hotels and resorts in the UK, Ireland, Spain and Portugal. Its annual results for the year to 2 April 2015 showed group turnover up 7% to £155.7m, with total operating profit up 11% to £16.9m. The group’s profit after tax rose £2.5m to £6.1m, while bank debt was effectively reduced by more than £96m as of December 2015.

Aloft hotel to open next to Brighton & Hove Albion’s stadium: Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide has entered into a franchise agreement with Brighton & Hove Albion to open an Aloft hotel at the club’s American Express Community Stadium. The 150-room Aloft Brighton is due to open in September 2017. Michael Wale, president of Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Europe, Africa and Middle East, said: “This agreement illustrates the strong demand for stylish, yet affordable accommodation in mature and strategically important cities such as Brighton.” Aloft Brighton will form a key part of a major development next to the stadium, including a proposed specialist cancer treatment centre beneath the hotel. The site is next to Falmer railway station on the outskirts of the city and also has parking for 422 cars. Martin Perry, Brighton & Hove Albion executive director, said: “The Aloft brand is the perfect choice for visitor accommodation at the American Express Community Stadium, appealing to multiple business segments including conference delegates, football supporters and visitors to the two universities adjacent to the stadium.” The hotel will feature SPG Keyless – Starwood’s industry-first keyless entry system that enables guests to use their smartphone or Apple watch as a room key. Aloft operates one hotel in London, with another to open in 2018, plus one in Liverpool.

Greene King signs partnership deal with Newcastle Rugby, exclusive pouring rights at stadium: Greene King has signed a partnership deal with Newcastle Rugby, the parent company of Newcastle Falcons and Newcastle Thunder. Under the agreement, Greene King IPA becomes principal partner to rugby union side Newcastle Falcons, with immediate effect until summer 2017, and home shirt sponsors of rugby league side Newcastle Thunder for the 2016 season. The brewer has also been given exclusive pouring rights at Kingston Park stadium for the next five years. The Greene King IPA logo will be displayed on Falcons’ home and away shirts for the rest of the 2015/16 season, all shirts for the 2016/17 season, and the new Thunder home shirt. Greene King IPA is already the official beer of the RFU, Harlequins, and Worcester Warriors, and sponsors the RFU Greene King IPA Championship. Mick Hogan, Newcastle Rugby managing director, said: “Beer sales and barrelage are up due to increased match day attendances for both clubs, more non-match day events and the opening of the Tap & Tackle bar. We are incredibly pleased with the new partnership with Greene King, which has a really strong portfolio of beers and exciting ideas around engagement with our Falcons and Thunder fans.” Pat Lynch, Greene King head of sales, said: “We are delighted to bring some of our leading ales to visitors to the Kingston Park stadium and look forward to continuing to grow a great relationship with the clubs and their fans.”

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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