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Thu 11th Feb 2016 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Café Rouge set to return to site growth, plans five restaurants a year, rebranding programme to be completed by 2017: Café Rouge, the brand owned by Casual Dining Group, is set to return to site growth in 2016 and plans to add five restaurants a year. Managing director James Spragg told Propel the brand was due to open one site at the end of May and is in discussions on a further four. Spragg also said the rebranding programme was continuing apace and all 90 restaurants would be refurbished by 2017. Service culture is a massive focus for Café Rouge for the next 12 months as it strives to be “complaint free, with guests genuinely made to feel special”. Spragg said: “We are changing all reward structures around this objective – how we measure our business will centre on the satisfaction of our guests. To this end, we will be partnering with the Alain Ducasse organisation – it will help us develop and operate a world-class training facility at our Euston business support centre. It will also input on our food, menu, restaurants and service delivery and we are confident our next menu change in March will be another big step forward, but crucially one our customers will embrace.” Spragg added the transformation programme behind the brand’s revival was returning it to its heritage – it didn’t need radical change but to “evolve with its guests”. He said: “We have much work to do and the reality is that we will never get ‘there’ such is the nature of competing in today’s market. We need to continually evolve. What I can say is the brand is back in sales growth and this trend appears to be sustained, which is very encouraging. Our customer scores are moving forward too. Finally, our refurbishments in late 2014 have gone into year two (post-refurbishment) and the sales momentum is building further. The programme is demonstrating what we had hoped – the refurbishments would act as the catalyst to help give our operators a great platform to build on.”

Industry News:

ALMR hits 200-retailer mark as growth continues: The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) now represents more than 200 retailer businesses, comprising 22,000 outlets and 650,000 employees. The ALMR said the figures proved it had become the “undisputed voice for all hospitality businesses, with over 6,500 restaurants and 90% of late-night operators”. The association said its membership consisted of a diverse mix of the industry, from traditional, wet-led pubs to nightclubs, karaoke bars and casual dining restaurants. The ALMR added its increasingly diverse membership base underlined the growing influence the association had across the sector, which stood it in the best stead regarding government talks. It stated: “A robust and prosperous membership base provides the ALMR with the strongest possible footing to campaign on the foremost matters in the sector, including VAT, business rates and alcohol and food policy.”
Comic Enterprises wins long-standing legal battle against 20th Century Fox to stop it using Glee title for television show: Comic Enterprises, which operates The Glee Club brand, has won its long-running legal battle with television and cinema giant 20th Century Fox to stop it using the title Glee for its hit television show. 20th Century Fox lost its appeal against a legal ruling that found in favour of The Glee Club, which has sites in Birmingham, Cardiff, Nottingham and Oxford. Comic Enterprises successfully argued in the High Court 20th Century Fox’s show breached its trademark right to The Glee Club name. The show’s broadcaster appealed against the 2014 ruling, but appeal court judges dismissed its case. However, the row could still rumble on into the European courts as part of the film studio’s argument was it should not need to change the name, citing EU law which states a trademark must be “a sign”, in the sense of being a single sign and capable of being “graphically represented”. The judges have asked the two parties and the UK Intellectual Property Office to enter their submissions on the issue by Monday when they will consider whether to send the case to the European courts. But Mark Tughan, owner of the comedy club chain, is treating the appeal dismissal as a clear victory for his cause. He told BBC News: “I feel vindicated, not only for taking the case in the first place but now that two courts have come to the same conclusion about the infringement on my trademark. One would hope that Fox would put down their weapons but they have shown no inkling of wanting to settle this.”
Starbucks UK to provide more workplace support after dyslexic worker ruling: A woman with dyslexia has won a disability discrimination case against her employer Starbucks after she was accused of falsifying documents. A tribunal found Meseret Kumulchew had been discriminated against after making mistakes due to her difficulties with reading, writing and telling the time. She was given lesser duties at her branch in London and told to retrain, which left her feeling suicidal. Starbucks said it was in discussions about providing more workplace support. There will now be a separate hearing to determine any compensation. As a supervisor at Starbucks in Clapham, south west London, Kumulchew was responsible for taking the temperature of fridges and water at specific times and entering the results in a duty roster. She was accused of falsifying the documents after mistakenly entering wrong information. She took Starbucks to an employment tribunal alleging disability discrimination saying she had always made it known to her employer she was dyslexic, which means she has difficulties with words and numbers, and has to be shown how to do tasks visually. The case does not set a legal precedent, but the British Dyslexia Association said it should be a wake-up call for employers. It estimates one in ten people has dyslexia to some degree, although many have not been formally diagnosed. The tribunal found Starbucks had failed to make reasonable adjustments for Kumulchew’s disability and had discriminated against her because of the effects of her dyslexia. It also found she had been victimised by her employer and there appeared to be little or no knowledge or understanding of equality issues. In a statement, Starbucks said: “We are in ongoing discussions with this Starbucks partner (employee) around specific workplace support and we are not able to comment on a case that has not yet been completed.” The company said it was committed to having a “diverse and inclusive workforce” that “feel welcome and comfortable in our stores”.
Alea teams up with UK psychologist to develop new cocktail menu at Nottingham bar: Casino operator Alea has teamed up with UK psychologist Dr David Holmes to develop a new cocktail menu for its Bar Esquina venue at its complex in Nottingham. The findings have been used to produce the new drinks list at the Upper Parliament Street bar – so customers can match their mood to their tipple. New signature cocktails designed to complement the casino’s two most common customer profiles on the 21-strong menu are Robin Hood – concocted for vibrant and charismatic revellers – and Little John, geared towards the more earthy, lounge drinker. Holmes told the Nottingham Post: “I believe that there is a hidden sophistication in the social use of cocktails – they are a statement as to the kind of person you are, indeed, it may be your personality that draws you to certain colours, shapes, flavours, blends and even names of cocktails.” Alea director Steve Glynn said: “We commissioned the research into what your cocktail reveals about your personality as we thought it was a fun way to best serve our customers’ needs as well as showcase our commitment to delivering the best personalised service in town.”
Government – no plans to change drink-drive limits: There are no plans to lower the drink-drive limit in England and Wales to bring it in line with Scotland, the Department for Transport (DfT) has said. Transport minister Andrew Jones told MPs he was to assess whether Scotland’s 2014 move had an impact on road safety. But the DfT later confirmed it was not undertaking a review to also move the legal level down from 80mg to 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. Motoring groups said most drivers supported a lower limit. Jones said: “The government believes rigorous enforcement and serious penalties for drink-drivers are a more effective deterrent than changing the drink-driving limit. Britain continues to have some of the safest roads in the world because we crack down on those who break the law.” Speculation about a potential law change emerged on Tuesday when, in response to a written parliamentary question, Jones said: “It is important to base our decisions on evidence and the Scottish experience will be crucial to that before we consider any possible changes to the limits in England and Wales.”
BII reports record number of entries to Licensee of the Year Awards: The British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) has reported it has received an unprecedented number of entrants for the 2016 Licensee of the Year Awards from varied sites across the pub sector, including hotels, gastro-pubs and even casual dining sites. As well as lifetime membership to the BII and its exclusive Licensee of the Year club for the first time this year, the winner will receive an all-expenses paid study trip to Europe, providing them with plenty of inspiration and ideas to take back to their business. Furthermore, BT Sport, which is headline sponsor of the competition, will be providing a year’s membership to its service. Another “first” is the six entrants who make it to the final stage will also receive a prize; they will go as a group on a trip to Ireland, courtesy of Magners Cider, where they can learn all about cider making and see some of the country’s rich heritage.
Trade quality expert and former M&B employee joins Cask Marque: Trade quality expert and former Mitchells & Butlers employee Rachel Evans has joined Cask Marque, the industry watchdog for quality beer, as an assessor. Evans will be checking beer quality in the Midlands area as well as supporting her former employer, which is a Cask Marque corporate member. Evans, who joins Annabel Smith as the UK’s only female assessors, has worked in the drinks industry for 20 years and, until recently, was employed directly by Mitchells & Butlers. She spent 15 years with the company in a range of roles including drinks quality manager, beer quality manager and as a licensee for its Nicholson’s pub brand. Cask Marque managing director Paul Nunny said: “With a degree in brewing from Heriot-Watt, experience in running a busy city centre cask ale pub and then co-ordinating beer strategy and quality at a large retailer, she fits perfectly the profile of what we are looking for in one of our team.” Evans added: “Quality has to be at the heart of beer at every stage in the process from grain to brewery, cellar to glass, so my aim is to support breweries gain the SALSA accreditation scheme that Cask Marque has recently launched.’’

Company News:

Provenance Inns reports sales boost, moves to operating profit: Provenance Inns has reported a reduction in losses for the year to 31 August 2015. Chris Blundell, who spent 25 years at Morrisons, and publican Michael Ibbotson, set up Provenance Inns in 2009 with the acquisition of three North Yorkshire pubs. The Provenance portfolio now consists of The Black Bull in Moulton, The Carpenter’s Arms in Felixkirk, Welburn’s The Crown and Cushion, The Durham Ox in Crayke, The Oak Tree in Helperby, Harrogate’s West Park Hotel and The Punch Bowl in Marton cum Grafton, which was once under the control of Men Behaving Badly star Neil Morrissey. Turnover rose to £4,358,104 from £3,779,457 the year before. There was an operating profit of £403,996, compared with an operating loss of £687,644. Losses for the year were £193,537, compared with £1,333,998 the year prior. A sales increase of 15% resulted from a combination of full-year trading at all five sites and like-for-like sales gains. Looking ahead, Provenance has identified growth opportunities for its outside catering operation alongside the core food offering within the chain. Increased revenue from corporate and private functions has been targeted for The West Park, which won the Northern Design Award for best Hotel Interior Design 2014 and the Best Newcomer in the Harrogate Hospitality and Tourism Awards 2015.
Spaghetti House increases turnover but reports pre-tax loss: London restaurant company Spaghetti House, owned by the Lavarini family and operating the Spaghetti House and Pescatori brands, has reported an increase in turnover but made a pre-tax loss. The company saw turnover rise to £13,590,045 in the year ending 29 March 2015, compared with £13,394,088 the previous year, according to accounts filed with Companies House. However, it recorded a pre-tax loss of £417,030 having written off investments of £548,571, compared with a profit of £193,564 the year before. The company also made an operating profit of £131,636, compared with £482,594 the previous year. The company stated: “The directors are pleased with the company’s results, with operating profit for the period of £131,636. Despite the current challenging UK economy, London property market and increase in the number and styles of eating out establishments within the catering sector, the company achieved revenue of £13.6m, an increase of 1.5% from the previous period. A provision of £548,571 has been made against the company’s investments in subsidiary undertakings. The company continues to build on the financial performance achieved during the period and actively reviews the marketplace for new sites and opportunities to grow and expand the business. The directors view the future prospects of the company with a positive outlook.” 
Michelin star pub operators sell second pub to locals: The owners of the Oliver Branch in Clipsham, Rutland, which has a Michelin star, have sold their second pub, The Red Lion at Stathern, Leicestershire, to regulars. Ben Jones and Sean Hope have sold the Red Lion to local Vale of Belvoir residents Wayne and Karen Hammond – the couple have been loyal Red Lion customers for around 20 years. The Red Lion – Good Pub Guide Leicestershire & Rutland Dining Pub of the Year 2015 and 2016 – will close for refurbishment from 15 to 26 February, reopen for drinks only from 26 to 28 February and be back to serving food as normal from Monday, 29 February. Jones said: “After 14 years and many awards, serving wonderful customers and employing wonderful staff, we are no longer the owners of the Red Lion Inn at Stathern. The brilliant team led by Mark Barbour and head chef Luke McGowan, who having been running the pub for us over the past year, will continue but under new ownership. We will continue to grow The Olive Branch and maybe spend a bit more time with our families.”
BrewDog to feature in staff recruitment documentary: BrewDog will be one of three businesses to feature in a new BBC documentary called Who’s the Boss? that will put a spotlight on its unconventional hiring process – collaborative hiring ¬– where employees choose new staff. The brewer will feature in the finale of the series, following national food supplier Reynolds, and then Preston-based fine chocolate manufacturer Beech’s. Commissioning editor for the upcoming series Rachel Ashdown said: “Who’s the Boss? is a revealing insight into how three very different companies deal with an innovative form of recruitment and what happens when the power shifts in the workplace.”
Chestnut Group takes first leasehold site: Cambridgeshire-based Chestnut Group, which was established in May 2012 by former banker and corporate financier Philip Turner, is to take on the management of The White Horse Inn at Easton, near Framlingham. The 18th-century pub on the small village green is owned by Alastair and Sian Kerr, whose main business, the Easton Grange wedding venue, opened two-and-a-half years ago. The extended Kerr family also own and operate the popular tourist and family attraction, Easton Farm Park. On taking on a long-term lease on The White Horse, the Chestnut Group is entering a new phase in the group’s development and the pub will be the first operation in a wider strategy of identifying properties that can deliver further potential following investment. Turner said: “It made sense to build the group on the strong, asset-based foundations of a number of freehold properties. However, businesses diversify as opportunity knocks and this was certainly the case when we were offered the option to manage The White Horse and the chance to work in partnership with Alastair and Sian. The Chestnut Group is not just about property; it is now an established hospitality brand with a strong central management team and a reputation for great service, food and drink. The White Horse has the perfect location as in terms of geographic spread, we were looking for opportunities to the east of the county. The village location, the structural layout of the pub itself and the established local food focus, all make it a perfect fit for the Chestnut portfolio. The White Horse will benefit from some investment and attention to detail to bring the interiors up to the Chestnut’s customers’ expectations and we look forward to reopening the doors in May.” The White Horse is the first “lease” agreement for the group, which has a stated intention to seek out other similar opportunities. Chestnut Group worked with Everard Cole, a property consultancy specialising in the leisure industry, to develop the innovative lease structure. Tom Nichols, founder of Everard Cole, said: “It was refreshing to work with Philip and Alastair in developing a really exciting product that works for asset owners looking for a ‘partnership’ with a great operator and brand, we are confident that now we have the structure in place we will identify other opportunities for the group.” 

Cabana to open £1m Newcastle city centre restaurant, first venue in north east: Brazilian barbecue restaurant Cabana will open a £1m Newcastle city centre venue, its first site in the north east. The restaurant is in the Co-op building in Newgate Street, which has undergone a £17m redevelopment to create a Whitbread-owned Premier Inn with space for several restaurants. Cabana is accelerating its expansion plans outside London, with its latest openings at sites in Leeds and Manchester. The 4,500 square foot restaurant will also feature a cocktail bar, while 40 jobs have been created. Jamie Barber, co-founder of Cabana, told Chronicle Live: “Brazilian food has also been dubbed the cuisine of 2016, so we are really excited about the opening in Newcastle to show off our signature spicy malagueta chicken, cocktails and energetic Brazilian atmosphere.” Turtle Bay opened a restaurant in a neighbouring unit of the Co-op building this week following an £800,000 investment. Premier Inn is set to take in its first guests at the end of February, leaving two units available for retail or leisure use.
Mitchells & Butlers to open second Miller & Carter steakhouse in Birmingham: Mitchells & Butlers will open its second Miller & Carter steakhouse in Birmingham on Sunday, 28 February. The restaurant is on the site of the company’s former Cock & Magpies Harvester in Hagley Road. There is already a Miller & Carter in the city at the Mailbox. Andy Beesley, Miller & Carter general manager, told the Birmingham Mail: “Everyone who works here is completely obsessed with steak and we would encourage anyone who hasn’t been to Miller & Carter to come and find out what we’re all about.”
Boston Tea Party to open venue in Stratford Upon Avon next month: Bristol-based independent cafe brand Boston Tea Party will open a venue in Stratford-upon-Avon in March. The cafe will provide 150 covers, with an outside seating area for a further 100. Located in a conservation area, the property is a converted school house near William Shakespeare’s birthplace in Henley Street. Simon Cable, of Fleurets, the agents that brokered the deal, said: “This is a great unit for Boston Tea Party in a prime location in this historic tourist town. Being opposite Shakespeare’s birthplace ensures excellent levels of footfall. Boston Tea Party had been looking for a site in Stratford-upon-Avon for some time and we are extremely pleased to broker this deal.” Boston Tea Party will open its next venue in the spring – in Moseley, Birmingham.
JD Wetherspoon pulls out of Northallerton hospital redevelopment, closing Sittingbourne pub: JD Wetherspoon has pulled out of plans to open a venue at the Rutson Hospital redevelopment in Northallerton, Yorkshire. Jomast Developments submitted a planning application in 2014 to demolish part of the hospital to build the pub, along with an application for a beer garden. The application was connected to one on the same site for a Marks & Spencer food hall – but a spokesman for JD Wetherspoon said difficulties carrying out the building work at the same time as M&S had led the company to pull out. He told the Darlington & Stockton Times: “Events have conspired against us on Northallerton. We needed to vary the planning permission and we couldn’t get a decision from the planners. Simultaneously, the vendor for our site was contractually bound to build the M&S to the rear of us. We could only build our site whilst the M&S was being constructed as we required access over the M&S land, which wouldn’t be permitted when they were trading. Consequently, this meant we had to withdraw from the transaction. We remain keen to open in the town and are open to any new opportunities.” Mick Jewitt, executive director of Hambleton District Council, said: “Whilst we are extremely disappointed that this development is not going forward at this site, we would be happy to work with JD Wetherspoon should other opportunities arise in the town.” Meanwhile, JD Wetherspoon will shut The Summoner in High Street, Sittingbourne, on Sunday (14 February). JD Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon said: “We understand that our loyal customers at the pub will be disappointed with the decision to sell the pub. However, Wetherspoon has put a number of pubs up for sale and The Summoner is one of them. We have another pub in the town, The Golden Hope, and hopefully customers from The Summoner will be happy to go there.”
Geof Collyer – all divisions at Greene King gently accelerating: Deutsche Bank analyst Geof Collyer has said all divisions at Greene King are gently accelerating. Following yesterday’s (Wednesday, 10 February) interim management statement, Collyer said: “A strong festive period boosted the quarter three 2016 performance for all three divisions from the position after half one, with each business gently accelerating as we go through the current fiscal year. According to the recent Greene King Leisure Tracker, UK leisure spending per household was 5% in December 2015, but expenditure on eating and drinking out was flat year-on-year. So Greene King’s like-for-likes were both an industry outperformance, driven by greater exposure to London and the south east (where eating and drinking out spend is 20% and 15% higher per household than the rest of Great Britain), as well as a welcome return to form after a difficult FY15. We are retaining our forecasts – as we also expect the market to do. After recent significant downgrades amongst the retail peer group (JD Wetherspoon, Mitchells & Butlers and The Restaurant Group), the interim management statement and held forecasts should be seen as a result. We maintain our preference for Greene King amongst the pub stocks. Its shares trade on 10% discount to their ten-year average EV/Ebitda multiple, yet have the next three-five years growth underwritten by the Spirit deal, where integration remains on track. All income streams (food, drinks and rooms) delivered like-for-like growth. The two-week festive period saw like-for-likes +5% (versus +2% last year) for the Greene King estate, with Spirit +5.2%. The marginally lower Spirit like-for-likes (+0.9% for quarter three versus +1.2% for half one 2016) was the only dull point in the statement. Total Christmas Day retail sales of £6.8m were +103% on last year, helped by 83% more pubs post Spirit. As with retail, the current year is generating an ever improving performance, with several individual pubs generating weekly Christmas sales over £40,000. Distribution into the Spirit estate is helping B&B to drive volume growth. We expect the recent sponsorship deal as the new ‘Official Beer of English Cricket’ to drive volumes further into quarter four and mostly into quarter one 2017 and beyond.”
Tennent’s to print calorie information on lager cans and bottles: Tennent Caledonian will start printing calorie details on cans and bottles of Tennent’s Lager from March – the first alcohol product in the British Isles to print clear nutritional information on its packaging. Tennent’s will also display nutritional information on drip mats. Alastair Campbell, managing director of Tennent Caledonian, which is owned by C&C Group, said: “There is increasing interest amongst consumers around the nutritional content of the food and drink they consume. We feel it is a natural next step to include calorie information on our cans and bottles to sit alongside the responsible drinking messaging and number of alcohol units already displayed. Calorie content is an easily understandable way to help people make better choices about what and how much they consume.” Scottish minister of public health Maureen Watt said the Scottish government was “happy to support Tennent’s commitment”. C&C Group, which also manufactures Bulmers Cider in Ireland and Magners Cider in the UK and internationally, said it would roll-out nutritional information across its portfolio during the next 12 months to appear on more than 100 million of its cans and bottles in the British Isles.

Bravo Inns to reopen St Helens pub saved from the bulldozers, company’s 38th venue: Bravo Inns, which purchased the Boars Head in St Helens when it was facing demolition, will reopen the pub in April. Bravo Inns said the pub in Elton Head Road would be restored to the “heart of the community”. Plans to demolish the building and replace it with a large food store and smaller retail unit were approved by council planners before a last-minute reprieve. Bravo Inns managing director Ken Buckley told the St Helens Star: “We want to keep it as a pub and we just want to restore it to its former glory. We will try to make it the focal point of the area and I hope we’ll bring it back to the heart of the community. This is our 38th pub. Bravo has been going for eight years and all of our pubs are in the north west. As with all of our pubs we will provide a sports package and traditional games, darts, dominoes and pool and hopefully get involved with local activities. I hope seven or eight jobs will be created.”

First Enterprise pub for Greater Manchester multi-site operators: A pub in Greater Manchester has undergone a £70,000 transformation with the help of Enterprise Inns and local multi-site operators. Simply Tapas restaurant in Bury Road, Rochdale, will reopen tomorrow (Friday, 12 February) as The Bamford Arms. Paula Mortlock and Wayne Nicholls have been running the nearby Albany Hotel for almost two years. Mortlock said: “After getting our other place just right, it felt like the right time to take on a new challenge. Although The Bamford Arms hasn’t been a pub now for several years, we used to love it when it was The Dog and Partridge – it was a real hub in the community. Being part of its transformation back into a pub has been fantastic.” Enterprise Inns regional manager Sally Wilson said: “Paula and Wayne are experienced publicans with great local knowledge. The Bamford Arms has been completely repositioned from a specialist restaurant to a traditional community pub with a great food offer.”
Tenby harbour-side hotel on market for £1m: The Fourcroft Hotel in Tenby, which overlooks the resort’s North Beach and harbour, is being offered for sale for more than £1m. The clifftop hotel, which has been family-owned since the 1940s, has 40 bedrooms, while its Ossie Morgan’s restaurant seats 100. It forms part of a listed Georgian terrace overlooking the harbour and Carmarthen Bay and is being marketed as a hotel investment opportunity by agents Colliers International. Colliers International hotels director Peter Brunt said: “Tenby has always been a favourite resort for visitors to Pembrokeshire and this hotel, with its private gardens leading down to the beach, is a very well-established destination for Wales, the Midlands and further afield. With major employers in the area, the hotel also offers well-established commercial trade.” 
Davenports gets go-ahead to launch first bar in more than 30 years as part of Birmingham expansion plans: Birmingham brewery Davenports has been given the go-ahead to launch its first bar in more than 30 years as it plans a series of openings in the city. The company has had its proposals to transform a unit at the former police station in Warstone Lane, Hockley, known as The Big Peg, approved by city council planning officers, reports Insider Media. It is part of a citywide expansion plan for Davenports, which is also eyeing five other sites having secured £10m in investment. The new venue will be known as Dares Craft Beer and Cocktail Bar and will also serve food. According to the company’s website, the Hockley venue could launch in March and will be followed by a bar in Moseley in May and three other branches later in the year. Davenports was founded in 1829 and acquired the original Dare’s Southend Brewery in Balsall Heath in 1962.
Revolución de Cuba launches new cantina menu: Revolution Bars Group has revealed the new cantina menu for its Revolución de Cuba brand – the biggest overhaul of its food offering since the brand’s launch in 2011. There are 23 new dishes on the menu, including glazed chicken thighs with romesco and chargrilled beef fillet skewers with smoked chilli jam, while enhanced meat-free offerings include marinated cauliflower steak with romesco and kale. There are also two further sides and a new children’s menu. A team visited Cuba last year to work with local chefs. Mark Rush, head of food innovation at Revolution Bars Group, said: “Since last summer’s visit to Cuba we’ve been refining our black bean recipe, and following a development session with the local chefs in a restaurant on the Plaza de la Catedral in Old Havana, we believe our new recipe will transport customers there.”
Red Squirrel Group set to open fourth stand-alone craft beer shop: Red Squirrel Group, the Hertfordshire-based brewer and retailer that is currently fund-raising on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube, is set to open its fourth stand-alone craft beer shop. Writing on the Crowdcube forum, managing director Greg Blesson said: “The Brewery Shop has agreed terms for their fourth outlet. The directors of the company are extremely excited by this news. We have been looking at this site for a while and we believe this opportunity will move The Brewery Shop brand to another level, both in terms of revenues and profile. We would like to tell you all (where it is), but it’s with the lawyers at the moment. News will follow very soon.” Red Squirrel Group is looking to raise £500,000 on Crowdcube to expand its brewery along with its craft beer shop estate to ten sites, and is offering a 9.80% equity stake in return for the investment. So far 207 investors have pledged £291,890 with 11 days remaining. The largest investment to date is £50,000. The company, which forecasts sales of £973,000 in the first 12 months, £2m the following year, and £4.6m by 2016/17, currently has stand-alone craft beer shops in Amersham and Chesham in Buckinghamshire and Berkhamsted in Hertfordshire. There is also one within its brewery in Potten End.
North east multi-siters open third site: North east multi-siters Graeme and Gavin Lish have opened their third site. The father and son team has launched Italian restaurant concept La Familia above The Isis pub, which is operated by Camerons Brewery, in Silksworth Row, Sunderland. It replaces Barnett’s restaurant, which has relocated to Frederick Street. Gavin Lish told the Sunderland Echo: “We’ve incorporated a retro Italian theme with red and white checkered tablecloths and chianti bottles as candle holders. I have such fond memories of going to traditional Italian restaurants like that with my grandad when I was little but I wanted to keep it traditional. We’re serving proper gamberoni and mussels, as well as cheap pizzas and pastas.” The Lishs also operate the Dandy Longlegs bistro and bar in Sunderland as well as The Bay Horse in Wolsingham, Weardale. They are also planning to open a nightclub called Bijou in Darlington.
Beatles-themed hotel crowned Luxury Grand Hotel of the Year: Hard Days Night, the Beatles-inspired hotel in Liverpool city centre acquired by Millennium Hotels & Resorts in August, has been crowned Luxury Grand Hotel of the Year in the Luxury Travel Guide Awards. The four-star hotel in North John Street has 110 rooms and opened in February 2008. In 2015, the hotel achieved “top rated” status in the Simply The Guest Awards, and received a TripAdvisor certificate of excellence for the fourth consecutive year. The property was also named Hotel of the Year in the Work Hard, Play Hard Awards. Millennium Hotels & Resorts operates 24 properties in the UK and Europe.
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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