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Fri 12th Feb 2016 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

New concept Boyds Grill & Wine Bar to launch in Trafalgar Square: New concept Boyds Grill & Wine Bar will launch in Trafalgar Square on Wednesday, 24 February. The venue in Northumberland Avenue will feature a marble-clad, Victorian interior, with double-height ceilings and include a lounge and bar area, dining room and central bar, with the same menu offered throughout. Executive chef Nate Brewster’s menu will showcase international cooking techniques applied to British produce, including Broughton water buffalo from Stockbridge and Scottish black gold beef. Other dishes will include cold small plates such as Sipsmith cured salmon, buttermilk sorbet and daikon, and hot small plates such as fish and seafood goujons with beer batter and curried hollandaise, and rib-eye and bone-marrow faggot with buttery mash and Bordelaise sauce. Diners will also be able to enjoy cheeses and cured and potted meats from UK producers such as White Lake Cheese and Trealy Farm at the venue’s kitchen bar. Fabien Babanini, general manager of the restaurant, said the rigidity of formal dining had become less relevant to diners today, who wanted a more personalised service. He said: “We are offering something very different here, whether you’re looking for a casual nibble, a business lunch, pre-theatre meal, somewhere to take friends and family, or more of an occasion meal. We want diners to feel our restaurant accommodates everything they could want, whenever they come in.” The wine list has been selected from old and new worlds, alongside an extensive cocktail list and a choice of craft beers. Owner Charles Boyd has worked in the hospitality and events industry for more than three decades, including founding London City caterers Chester Boyd in 1983.

Industry News:

Propel partners with Digital Blonde for Advanced Social Media Masterclass: Propel is partnering with marketing company Digital Blonde for the Advanced Social Media Masterclass, building on last year’s Social Media Masterclass. The event takes place on Wednesday, 20 April at One Moorgate Place in London and will provide a comprehensive overview of how to make the best use of social media. Digital Blonde founder Karen Fewell will share research into the importance of social media in customers’ lives as well as insight into the psychology of food and drink marketing in order to produce persuasive social media activity. The day will also include advice on using storytelling techniques to achieve stronger results in marketing and social media campaigns as well as how to use analytics to develop a social media strategy. There will also be a first-look at Digital Blonde’s “Love, Lust and Trust” research, which will unveil the best loved pub and bar brands and what can be learned from their social strategies. Tickets are £295 for Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers members and £345 for non-members and to book email

Belgium high-end food delivery service expands into London after raising £12m: Belgium high-end food delivery service Take Eat Easy has expanded into London after raising £12m in funding. The Brussels-based start-up allows users to order directly from popular restaurants, which do not normally offer a takeaway service. The food is then delivered straight to their door via courier. Investors include Germany’s Rocket Internet, DN Capital and Piton Capital. A third round of funding is currently underway and expected to close within the next few weeks. The firm will use this capital to grow its services in new cities and support more restaurant partners in its current territories. Take Eat Easy chief executive and co-founder Adrien Roose told City AM: “London is the most attractive market for food delivery in Europe, simply because of people’s eating habits. Food delivery is already huge in London, so it makes a lot of sense. When we decide to expand into another city we look at a lot of things – density of population, density of restaurants, and all the boxes are green when it comes to London.” It has already signed up more than 150 restaurants, including Ceviche, Pizza Pilgrims, and Tayyabs. Take Eat Easy has a popular following in Belgium and France and plans to expand into the wider UK, as well as Spanish and German markets, following its London launch. Customers pay the restaurant’s set prices for their food, plus a flat fee of £2.50 for delivery. The firm follows the example of Deliveroo, which launched in London last year and has since raised almost £200m in investment.

Foodservice leads the way with UK franchising employing 621,000 people: UK franchising now employs 621,000 people and generates £15.1bn of turnover with foodservice leading the way, a new report by the British Franchise Association and NatWest has revealed. Suzie McCafferty, managing director of Platinum Wave, a UK franchising consultancy, said: “It’s no secret that franchising works, our sector continues to outperform the overall economy and has the potential and ambition for huge continued growth in the future. Good franchising continues to deliver for the UK economy, in terms of creating businesses, jobs and wealth. You just have to look at these latest figures to see the growing strength of the franchise model. We are also enjoying international success, with 38% of franchises expanding their business model overseas and a further 11% considering doing so in the future. Food franchises are everywhere, with exciting new brands launching all the time looking to take on the well-known names. Quick Service Restaurants will continue to lead the way with new entrants to the market like aspiring national Chinese restaurant and takeaway franchise ‘Hotcha’ hoping to see continued strong growth, by attracting franchisees with the experience to commit to multiple units. Meanwhile established food brands in the UK will continue to seek opportunities for franchising overseas to grow their brands into new markets, with the Middle East being a particularly popular destination. In a sector where many of the household names are running out of new territories to offer potential franchisees (or existing franchisees looking to expand), we expect to see some pretty fast growth for new brands that can offer the same kind of returns for a similar investment level.”
New ‘restaurant quarter’ proposed in Blackburn: A new “restaurant quarter” has been earmarked in Blackburn as part of a £3m-plus Heritage Lottery-funded scheme. Under the project, the historic Blakey Moor and Northgate area will be refurbished to attract cafes, coffee houses and eateries, including national chains, to create a visitor honeypot. Central to the five-year project is a complete renovation of Blakey Moor Terrace and the former Baroque pub to host two major restaurants, kick-starting the regeneration. Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council would match the £1.5m lottery money it is bidding for. The scheme would fully restore Blakey Moor Terrace and the Baroque pub premises, give King George’s Hall a facelift and refurbish 20 shop frontages along Northgate and Lord Street West. Borough regeneration boss Phil Riley told the Lancashire Telegraph: “This historic area is potentially attractive to restaurants, cafes and coffee houses. It would seem optimal for the ‘The Townscape Heritage Project’ to nurture a restaurant quarter using Blakey Moor Terrace and the former Baroque building as a focal point with two large restaurants.”
Crowdcube – crowdfunding failure rate is low: Crowdfunding platform Crowdcube has insisted failure rates for businesses that have crowdfunded is low. The comments come in the wake of the failure of legal claims management company Rebus Group, which raised £816,790 on Crowdcube. A spokesman for Crowdcube said: “Whilst the failure of any business is disappointing, not all businesses will succeed. The failure rate of crowdfunded business is around 6% compared to 50-70% of businesses that fail in the early years, according to the FCA. The risks of investment are clear and highlight the importance of spreading investment risk with a diversified portfolio. The failure of any business is regrettable; however, investors on Crowdcube can be assured that we are committed to ensuring transparency and have rigorous due diligence processes in place, which are spearheaded by an experienced team of legal and compliance professionals.”
UK iced beverage market continues to grow despite a disappointing British summer in 2015: Estimated at £265m, the UK iced beverage market continues to grow, accounting for a 3.3% share of the total UK coffee shop market turnover, according to Project Iced2016 UK, the latest report from Allegra World Coffee Portal. With 8% sales growth year-on-year, the iced beverage category is an important sales driver for the coffee shop market. However, keeping the same rate of growth proves increasingly difficult with seasonal volatility. Despite the 30%-plus growth seen in 2014, poor weather in 2015 led to single digit decline for a few operators, impacting the strong growth seen in previous years. Nevertheless, the introduction of iced beverages by food-focused and non-specialist coffee shops, together with a wider menu range, have contributed to the measured growth observed.
SA Brain to launch collaboration brew with Stereophonics: Welsh brewer and hospitality retailer SA Brain has teamed up with Welsh rock stars Stereophonics to create a new ale. The 4.1% pale ale, called Phonics, was brewed to celebrate the band’s recent number one album, Keep The Village Alive, and will launch on Tuesday, 1 March. It is the first time SA Brain has collaborated with a band. Head brewer Bill Dobson said: “Brains beer and Stereophonics are two of Wales’ most well-loved icons, and we can’t wait for our customers and music fans to give it a try.” Dobson said the band helped to choose ingredients. Stereophonics frontman Kelly Jones said: “We’ve grown up with Brains, starting our early years by performing in many pubs in the Valleys. We’re looking forward to taking a taste of home with us when we tour later this year.” Jones also designed the ale’s pump clip.

Company News:

Hickory’s reports turnover of £6.7m: The owner of Hickory’s Smokehouse, which secured a £6m private equity investment in 2014 from Piper Private Equity, has posted its first set of accounts since consolidating its venues across the north west, North Wales and the West Midlands into a new parent company. Johoco 2029, which owns Hickory’s, has posted a turnover of £6.7m in the period from 10 September 2014 to 30 April 2015. It reported pre-tax losses of £100,602 over the same period. Directors of the company, which had an average of 310 staff during the period, have described the results as “satisfactory”. Johoco 2029 was formed in September 2014 following its acquisition of five related trading companies. These companies were Hickory’s Smokehouse, Hickory’s (West Kirby), Hickory’s (Ros), Upstairs at the Grill, and Bar Lounge. Hickory’s now has branches in Chester, West Kirby, Rhos-on-Sea in Conwy, and most recently Wall Heath in the West Midlands, while sister venues Upstairs at the Grill and Barlounge are also based in Chester. Hickory’s was boosted by a £6m investment from consumer brands specialist investor Piper, whose portfolio also includes Turtle Bay and Loungers, in October 2014 to support its expansion plans. Piper said sales at Hickory’s at the time of investment were approximately £6m. Speaking in October 2014, Peter Kemp-Welch of Piper said there was “an enormous market opportunity for the brand, with the potential for at least 100 Hickory’s across the UK”.

Hop Back Brewery reports pre-tax loss following pub disposal: Wiltshire-based Hop Back Brewery has reported a pre-tax loss having incurred an exceptional loss in the sale of the First and Last pub in Exeter. The company saw a pre-tax loss of £256,425 for the year ending 30 September 2015, compared with a profit of £174,057 the year before, according to accounts filed with Companies House. Turnover was up slightly to £3,941,283, compared with £3,882,224 the previous year. Hop Back said the pre-tax loss was due to a £274,953 loss on the disposal of the First and Last pub. The company stated: “The accounts show a pre-tax loss of £256,425, which is in line with our expectations. Were it not for the exceptional loss incurred in the sale of the First and Last public house, a modest pre-tax profit would have been achieved. We are now midway through the three-year plan referred to in last year’s report and we have not identified any more suitable pub acquisitions but shall be installing new equipment at the brewery early in 2016, which should make our brewing operation much more energy efficient. We have also outsourced our supermarket bottling operation, including packaging, marketing and sales, while continuing to brew the beer at the brewery. There was a 16% increase in gross profit in the tied estate as against a 10% decrease in the brewery. (There was an) 1% decrease in gross profit overall (and a) 5% increase in the percentage of turnover represented by the tied estate. The company expects to continue to brew and sell beer in the United Kingdom. The company continues to introduce new beers and it is anticipated that further developments will take place in the future.”
Bravas Tapas co-founder lines up solo venture: Bravas Tapas co-founder and restaurateur Victor Garvey is opening his first solo venture this month – Duende will be a modern tapas restaurant in Covent Garden. London-based Restaurant Property advised Garvey on the deal. It aims to tap into the growing trend for authentic Spanish restaurants in the capital. The new site – a 775 square foot unit with 26 covers – is in Maiden Lane and replaces Cafe Proper. A premium of £90,000 was paid for the lease assignment. Guy Marks, a surveyor at Restaurant Property, said: “We are delighted to have concluded this deal with Victor Garvey. He is a talented chef and his new tapas restaurant will be a great addition to the colourful mix in Covent Garden.” Garvey teamed up with Bal Thind to open Bravas Tapas in St Katharine Docks in 2014, offering diners contemporary regional Spanish cuisine overlooking the marina.
Turtle Bay applies for licence to open site in Norwich: Caribbean restaurant Turtle Bay has applied for a licence to open a site in Norwich. The company wants to convert the grade II-listed building that was formerly home to Fabric Warehouse on the corner of Bedford Street and Swan Lane, reports the Eastern Daily Press. It has applied to Norwich City Council to open the restaurant between 10am and 12.30am from Sunday to Wednesday and 10am to 1.30am from Thursday to Saturday. Last orders would be midnight between Sunday and Wednesday, and 1am from Thursday to Saturday. Turtle Bay, which is backed by Piper Private Equity, was formed by Las Iguanas co-founder Ajith Jaya-Wickrema in 2010 and has 26 sites across the UK.
Nando’s confirms Sevenoaks venue, Bolton site to open in March: Nando’s has agreed a deal with landowners Standard Life Investments to open a restaurant on two floors of a former Marks & Spencer’s Simply Food in Sevenoaks, Kent. Standard Life’s planning application seeks to sub-divide the store in Bligh’s Meadow, with Nando’s taking up three quarters of the unit, the Sevenoaks Chronicle reported. In 2014, more than 150 people signed a petition to bring a Nando’s to Sevenoaks at the site. Nando’s will open another venue with the launch of the Market Place shopping centre in Bolton on Friday, 18 March. Nando’s will be the flagship restaurant of the £14m development, with Italian restaurant brand Prezzo taking up another unit. Market Place manager Nikki Wilson-Cook told the Bolton News: “It doesn’t get much bigger than Nando’s and, importantly, it is a restaurant that covers all walks of life – including families, young people, students as well as different communities in Bolton – it ticks all the boxes.” Bolton Council leader Cliff Morris said it was essential to get an “anchor tenant” like Nando’s. He said: “Once you get that key anchor tenant in place, it helps to attract other people into the town centre.”
Steak of the Art set to launch third site in Southampton this month: Steak of the Art will open its third restaurant – in Admiral’s Quay, Ocean Village, Southampton – on Friday, 19 February. Members of Southampton Arts Society will be the first to have their work on show at the 4,000 square foot, 170-cover venue, with up to 30 paintings on display and on sale for ten weeks. Steak of the Art owner, classically trained chef Steve Bowen, told the Daily Echo: “When I first thought about the concept for Steak of the Art, my intention was to always get involved with the local art scene where we opened new venues. To collaborate with Southampton’s oldest art society and put on an exhibition by its members is great for Steak of the Art. It will help build the venue’s reputation for displaying and selling local art. The art society has a very active member base and means there will be plenty of choice. It’s also going to be great to see all the pieces together in our gallery. I’m sure those who come along will find the exhibition thought-provoking and fascinating.” Steak of the Art also has restaurants in Bristol and Cardiff.
New World Trading Company to open Botanist at Farnham in March: New World Trading Company will open its latest Botanist venue – in Farnham, Hampshire – at the beginning of March. The 3,500 square foot venue, in the grade II-listed Townhall Buildings in The Borough, will seat 80 diners, with a large, working fireplace as its centrepiece. The bar will serve botanical cocktails, craft beers and ales, alongside the restaurant’s deli, rotisserie and barbecue-inspired food. The Botanist will also host regular live music. Chris Hill, managing director of New World Trading Company, told Get Surrey: “The building’s character lends itself perfectly to the Botanist. We believe it will be a welcome addition to the bustling scene in the town and we are looking forward to immersing ourselves within the neighbourhood.” The Farnham venue is the eighth Botanist in the UK, marking the company’s expansion further into the south alongside its offerings in Birmingham, Leeds, Newcastle, Manchester, Marlow, Chester and Alderley Edge.
Franco Manca eyes Kentish Town site: Pizza brand Franco Manca, owned by Fulham Shore, is seeking planning permission to open a venue in Kentish Town, north London. Plans filed at the town hall reveal the company has asked Camden Council for an alcohol licence to be used at a restaurant opposite the tube station in Kentish Town Road, at a unit currently used by Sam’s Chicken. This week, Franco Manca announced it had secured a lease for The Compass pub in Bromley to open another site.

Soho Coffee opens first high street store in Republic of Ireland under franchise: A Soho Coffee Co site has opened its doors in Dublin’s Aston Quay this week, operated by Dublin-based hospitality specialist Egan Hospitality, the holder of the master franchise agreement for the country. The unit is the first of a series of units set to open during the next five years in the Republic of Ireland. Soho Coffee Co director Penny Manuel said: “We are very proud and excited to be opening our first high street store in the Republic of Ireland with our franchise partner Egan Hospitality. It is a great opportunity for us and the fit with Egan Hospitality, which has built its success catering for the highest quality events, is just perfect. We are looking forward to a long and fruitful partnership.”

Burger King adds hot dogs to US menus: Burger King is adding hot dogs to the menu at its 7,100 US stores, with the company branding the move “the most obvious product launch ever”. The new menu item – “grill dogs” – is available in two varieties: classic (topped with ketchup, mustard, chopped onions and relish), and chilli cheese. Restaurants can use the same grilling equipment for the new products as they use for burgers, with many of the same toppings. In March 2015, Burger King reintroduced “chicken fries” – deep-fried chicken strips first launched in 2005 – with the company crediting the move with helping to drive better-than-expected sales in the second quarter of 2015. Burger King’s parent company, Restaurant Brands International, will announce its fourth quarter and full-year earnings next week.
New charcuterie bar and restaurant concept set to open in Middlesbrough next month: A new charcuterie bar and restaurant concept is set to open in Middlesbrough next month. Husband and wife team Peter and Sarah Walker is launching The Curing House in Bedford Street. The primary offer is charcuterie including cured meats and cheese with homemade chutneys and pickles. The couple told Propel the vision is to bring an old aged craft to a new market and a new offer to Middlesbrough and the surrounding areas. The Curing House was born after the Walkers developed a passion for food, from eating street food in Thailand, Malaysia and Hong Kong to enjoying fine dining at some of the best restaurants. Peter Walker, who previously worked in the oil and gas sector, has spent the past seven years researching various methods and styles of cooking, particularly charcuterie, for the venture. The couple are now finalising the menu and refurbishing the restaurant ahead of the opening. 
Damien Hirst and Mark Hix to open Pharmacy 2 inside Vauxhall gallery: Multi-millionaire artist Damien Hirst and restaurateur Mark Hix will open Pharmacy 2 on Tuesday, 23 February inside Hirst’s Newport Street Gallery in Vauxhall, south London. Hirst’s first restaurant, Pharmacy, closed in 2003. Hirst told the Evening Standard: “Pharmacy 2 combines two of my greatest passions – art and food. I’ve always loved Mark as a chef and his approach to food, so it’s great we’re working together on this.” Pharmacy 2’s interior is decorated with Hirst’s art, including renditions of his famous Kaleidoscope Butterflies, shelves of pill packets, and a bar stuffed with surgical kit. On the food offering, Hix said: “It’s not going to be completely British. The ingredients obviously will be. We’ll do some classics and it’ll be a weekly-changing menu.” Hix will be chief executive and creative director at the restaurant, designating day-to-day cooking decisions to group head chef Kevin Gratton.
JD Wetherspoon to close Dartford pub on Sunday: JD Wetherspoon will close The Paper Moon in Dartford on Sunday (14 February) – but regulars are fighting to keep the drinks flowing. The company will shut the High Street pub along with The Summoner in Sittingbourne – the two pubs in Kent that were part of 50 it put up for sale last year. Customers at the Dartford pub have been invited for a final drink on Saturday but Aaron Tattersall has launched a petition to save it from closure on the website, which has so far attracted more than 540 signatures. Staff are transferring to other JD Wetherspoon pubs, including The Flying Boat in nearby Spital Street. Spokesman Eddie Gershon said the company was aware of the petition but the decision to close The Paper Moon, and the Sittingbourne pub, was a commercial one. He told Kent Online: “Every now and again, we look at the estate of 950 pubs and these ones were too small for the way we wish to trade. The pubs in Dartford and Sittingbourne are fantastic pubs and very successful but we have second pubs in these towns which have bigger kitchens and more seating.”
Azzurri Group set to convert ASK Italian to Zizzi in Welwyn Garden City: Azzurri Group is set to convert its ASK Italian restaurant in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, into its Zizzi brand. The company has applied to Welwyn Hatfield Council to put up new signs at the site in Howardsgate. The new Zizzi restaurant is expected to open in May, reports the Welwyn Hatfield Times.
Liverpool set for first five-star hotel: Hotel operator Principal Hayley Group is set to give Liverpool its first five-star hotel. The company has acquired the historic Martins Bank building in Water Street and will transform it into a 227-bedroom luxury hotel in a £50m investment, creating 200 jobs. Work will start on the project, which will also include a spa, bar and fine dining restaurant, this year with a potential opening in late 2017 or early 2018. Principal Hayley chief executive Tony Troy told The Business Desk: “The Martins Bank building provides us with a strategically important presence in the heart of the Liverpool market, where there is a clear consumer need for a full-service luxury hotel and events space. Our development will become the jewel in the crown of Liverpool’s hotel offering.” Castlewood Securities, which has owned the Martin’s Bank building for 20 years and has obtained planning permission for the development, has been acquired by Principal Hayley Group in the deal. The acquisition follows a wider £100m strategic repositioning of Principal Hayley Group’s iconic city-centre properties. The Royal York Hotel in York and The George Hotel in Edinburgh have both recently reopened following extensive renovations.
Harry Ramsden’s joins forces with Sony and Sealife for Transylvania 2 campaign: Fish and chip brand Harry Ramsden’s has joined forces with Sony and Sealife Centres to begin a month-long campaign today (Friday, 12 February), coinciding with the DVD launch of animated movie Hotel Transylvania 2. Harry Ramsden’s customers can enter a competition to win a family holiday to Romania and, until Sunday, 13 March, can also get 33% off entry to Sealife Centres in the UK and Ireland as part of a joint venture with Merlin Entertainment. Joe Teixeira, chief executive of Harry Ramsden’s, said: “Sony and Sealife are the ideal partners for us as they too are family focused, so we are delighted to be joining forces with two similarly minded global brands and hope this will be the first of many such partnerships with them.”
Manchester-based bar operator set to start expanding with second site in Southport: Manchester-based bar operator Expansive Horizons is set to start expanding its portfolio by opening its second site, this time in Southport, Merseyside. The company has applied to Sefton Council to convert the former HSBC bank in Birkdale into The Malt Vault restaurant and bar, reports the Southport Visiter. The application said: “The Birkdale premises will be branded as ‘The Malt Valt’ and will encapsulate relaxed upscale dining, together with a high-quality contemporary coffee shop and bar. It will offer fresh food, freshly ground espresso-based beverages, fine teas, a range of bottled beer, local draft ales, cocktails and a selection of wines and spirits, including malt whisky. The overall development will add considerably to the daytime and evening local economy, and will enhance the strength, function, attractiveness and the vitality and viability of Birkdale centre.” Expansive Horizons also owns the country garden themed Allotment bar in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, which opened in 2014.
Nick Batram – ‘there is much to get excited about in relation to Domino’s Pizza Poland’: Peel Hunt leisure analyst Nick Batram has issued a ‘Buy’ note on Domini’s Pizza Poland shares, arguing there is “much to get excited about”. He said: “Domino’s Pizza Poland’s impressive record of double-digit like-for-like system sales growth continued into quarter four – the 13th consecutive quarter to break double digits. Despite increasingly tough comparatives, like-for-like system sales for the full year were +16% – maintaining the performance reported in half one. Even more impressive is the like-for-like gross profit performance of +27%. The new commissary, which we visited in December, is performing ahead of management expectations. The total store estate (corporate and sub-franchised) was Ebitda positive in every month of 2015 (suggesting our FY15 £0.1m store Ebitda profit might be too low). The top three stores averaged £58,000 Ebitda in 2015 versus £24,000 in 2014. The group is now trading in five cities – again ahead of what we were expecting. Recent expansion has seen the group open in Wroclaw, Gdansk and Szczecin. 2015 saw a total of six new openings, which is three less than we were anticipating largely, due to developer delays. We expect these to fall into 2016. There are currently 24 stores in total with eight sub-franchised, after HLM opened their third site in December. Current trading has seen January like-for-like system sales accelerate to +29%. We would caution that it is only a very short period and we wouldn’t expect this to continue but nonetheless it is clearly a promising start to the year. Furthermore, the performance of the stores in the new cities is very encouraging. We don’t propose to make any changes to our numbers at this stage – the full year results will be released in March when we will get more detail. Every quarter of impressive like-for-like sales growth significantly de-risks the business in our view. Furthermore, the encouraging performance of the stores outside of Warsaw builds the case that Domino’s Pizza Poland can ultimately grow to 250-plus stores. Our current discounted cash flow fair value (30p) is based on a 10% discount rate but as the risks reduce so should the discount rate – at 9% the fair value moves to 37p. Buy.”
Casual Dining Group to convert La Tasca in Newcastle to second Las Iguanas in city: Casual Dining Group is to convert another of its La Tasca restaurants into its Latin American brand Las Iguanas, this time in Newcastle. The company is rebranding the Quayside site and said all 44 staff would remain at the venue. It will be the second Las Iguanas restaurant in the city with the brand also having an outlet in Grey Street. A Las Iguanas spokeswoman told Chronicle Live: “We are indeed opening a second site in Newcastle on the Quayside. We are very excited as we love Newcastle and this is the perfect location to add a new restaurant to the Las Iguanas family. We are planning to open on 9 May.” Casual Dining Group is also converting its La Tasca site in York into a Las Iguanas restaurant.
Douglas Jack – Enterprise Inns is trading ahead: Numis Securities leisure analyst Douglas Jack has issued a ‘Buy’ note on Enterprise Inns shares with a price target of 130p for its shares, after yesterday’s (Thursday, 11 February) trading update. He said: “2016E has started well with like-for-like net income up 1.6% during the 19 weeks to 6 February. This is ahead of expectations. We are holding our £122.5m profit before tax full year forecast (consensus: £123.7m), which assumes 0.9% like-for-like net income. This year, we forecast a 1.8% decline in Ebitda to be exceeded by 5.0% reduction in net debt, which should theoretically increase the equity value by 12%. In quarter one, like-for-like net income increased by 1.6%, the tenth consecutive positive quarter, aided by a weak comparative (0.3% versus FY 2015’s 0.8%), mild weather, enhanced operational support, and capex becoming increasingly growth-orientated. We believe this has helped both rents and beer sales to rise slightly, against a backdrop of stable beer volumes and fewer business failures. 58% of Enterprise Inns’ pubs are wet-led. In our view, wet-led pubs have been the sector’s main beneficiary from improving consumer confidence, reducing the on-trade’s drinks value-disadvantage. On the next table, average beer/cider sales per pub have been inflated by the market’s 12% reduction in the number of wet-led pubs over the last three years. Enterprise’s new strategy is on track in relation to making this year: £60m (200 pubs) of disposals; moving 85-135 pubs to commercial lease; converting circa ten pubs to managed expert; converting circa 15 pubs to Bermondsey; and converting circa 50 pubs to Craft Union. The company will provide more information on this at its Capital Markets Day on Tuesday, 22 March. In our view, the shares have been over-sold in recent weeks given the operational progress the company is making. We believe strong positive catalysts will be the completion of the next refinancing (not due until December 2018) and the (likely limited) impact of the Market Rent Only option becoming clearer, but this is not until 2017.”
Carluccio’s to open new site in Ilkley on Monday: Carluccio’s will open a new restaurant in Ilkley, West Yorkshire, on Monday (15 February). The company is launching the venue on the site of the former Grove restaurant in The Grove, reports the Ilkley Gazette. As well as catering for 100 diners inside and 40 outside, the restaurant includes a food shop along with a deli featuring “grab and go” meals such as ciabatta sandwiches, freshly made pasta and salads, and cakes.
BrewDog claims revenge on Diageo by launching stout product: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has claimed revenge on Guinness owner Diageo by launching a new milk stout with a super low-fi spoof of iconic Diageo ad Tick Follows Tock. In it, co-founders James Watt and Martin Dickie don a pantomime horse costume and brave the ferocious currents of a local swimming pool. The move comes three years after Diageo pressured organisers of the British Institute of Innkeeping’s Bar Operator of the Year awards by threatening to pull its sponsorship of the event if BrewDog was crowned victorious. Watt said: “If you have to spend millions of pounds on ad campaigns to get people to drink your beer, the brewing is probably being neglected. And anyway, Martin had a horse costume left over from the Christmas panto. So we thought, let’s save our money for making epic beer that tastes of something and stands for something.”
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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