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Fri 19th Feb 2016 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Enterprise Inns reports rise in young people joining pub trade: Enterprise Inns has stated more young people are entering the pub trade because they want a sociable career and the opportunity to run their own business. The UK’s largest leased and tenanted pub company reported more than 50% of attendees at its interactive recruitment events, held across the UK throughout the year, are new to the industry and the number of 25 to 34-year-olds taking on pubs is rising. Enterprise recruitment marketing manager Matthew Ralphs said: “We are seeing a definite trend for younger people who have not run a pub before coming into the industry. They tell us that they like the idea of running a business themselves, while couples want to be together as a business unit, particularly those who are engaged or newly married.” Simon Pawson is 33 and has run pubs with colleagues Matthew Cantrill, 27, and Adam Darnbrough, 24, for four years. The team recently took on two Enterprise pubs, The Sun Inn in Lightcliffe and The Rising Sun in Cleckheaton. Pawson said: “It’s the social aspect of running pubs that appeals to young people. It’s very long hours but you can do that while you’re younger.” Enterprise recruitment events are open to anyone interested in running a pub. They have been responsible for placing 178 new publicans into Enterprise pubs in the past 12 months. All new Enterprise publicans are offered a New Publican Support Programme, which includes access to a free website, training, full commercial support and a mentor.

Industry News:

Propel partners with Digital Blonde for Advanced Social Media Masterclass: Propel is partnering with digital marketing company Digital Blonde for the Advanced Social Media Masterclass, building on last year’s Social Media Masterclass with all-new content. 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-plus VAT for Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers members and £345-plus VAT for non-members. To book email adam.dickinson@propelinfo.com
 
Wholesaler Matthew Clark warns customers of ‘enormous’ price rise for Thatchers Gold and Dry: Bristol-based wholesaler Matthew Clark has written to customers to warn them Thatchers cider will impose an £8.65 per keg rise on wholesale prices of Thatchers Gold and Thatchers Dry. The price rise will come into effect on Tuesday, 1 March. In a letter to customers, Matthew Clark stated: “The increases are explained solely by Thatchers’ belief that these products can command substantially higher prices in the market. We find it odd that Thatchers would wish to behave in such a manner, especially towards those customers who have helped build their brands. We find ourselves with no alternative but to pass on this enormous increase to you, our customers. You may take the view that this level of increase is unwelcome and unjustified.” The company adds customers should get in contact if they would like to discuss “alternative cider products”.

Douglas Jack – January cinema admissions fell 8.8%, unhelpful to The Restaurant Group: Numis Securities leisure analyst Douglas Jack has reported cinema admissions dropped 8.8% in January, which is unhelpful for The Restaurant Group. He stated: “In January, UK cinema admissions fell by 8.8%, but box office revenue was flat. We expect the material increase in average prices to be driven by mix, through more adult-orientated custom and trading up (to IMAX, 3D and 4DX). This is fine for Cineworld (‘Add’; 625p), but less helpful to The Restaurant Group (‘Buy’; 775p), which we expect to underperform the casual dining brands’ component of the Coffer Peach Business Tracker (+3.6%, largely due to the Pizza Hut refurbishment programme) in January. Although 2016’s film release schedule is weaker than 2015’s, it is more family-orientated, and the film slates for 2017 and 2018 are strong. January’s total of 14.02 million admissions was 8.8% lower than in January 2015 (15.38 million). It was also a million admissions lower than the average for January over the last five years (15.04 million), and the softest month for footfall since last September. As we have said previously, the 2016 film slate is weaker than 2015’s, and the admissions growth comparative, of 9.2% in 2015, is tough. By contrast, UK/Ireland box office receipts last month were level with January 2015 (around £124m). This implies a big uplift in average pricing, which we expect to have been driven by film mix (adult) and trading up (to IMAX, 3D and 4DX). This trading up is helpful to Cineworld, but is less helpful to The Restaurant Group. Relative to the market, Cineworld also benefits from circa 30% of admissions deriving from subscriptions. Over the rest of 2016, we expect admissions to be lower than 2015, however, we also expect the film schedule to be more family-orientated. This should subdue average-ticket prices (unhelpful to Cineworld), and increase the propensity of cinema customers to use co-located restaurants (benefiting the child-friendly Frankie & Benny’s, owned by The Restaurant Group). We are forecasting The Restaurant Group’s like-for-like sales to be up 1% in 2016E, assuming no like-for-like volume growth, with pub restaurants (10% of the estate) and concessions (15% of the estate) outperforming. Overall, we expect 2016 to be a tough year for operators in leisure parks, weighted to quarter one (versus Fifty Shades of Grey) and quarter four (versus Bond and Star Wars). Their investment attraction is based on cash flow and expansion, and they can look forward to strong film slates in 2017E and 2018E; years that should be dominated by the Star Wars and Avatar franchises.” 

Company News:

The Italian Job launches Crowdcube campaign to open second site: The UK’s first Italian craft beer pub is launching a Crowdcube crowdfunding campaign to open another site to add to its existing Chiswick venue. The Italian Job is the first of its kind in the UK, offering a choice of 12 rotating beers on draught and a diverse bottled beer selection as well as wine, spirits and a range of Italian street food and specialties. The Italian Job is looking to raise £300,000 through crowdfunding for 15% of its equity. This investment will be used to take over the lease of a new pub, ideally somewhere in East London. The target pub will have 80 covers with the ability to accommodate over 100 people at peak times. The site will preferably have a late license to cater for the desired younger demographic, and the business is looking to pay a premium in order to mimimise refurbishment expenses. Unique and interesting locations are preferred and the new site is planned to be open by Summer 2016. The beer sold at the Italian Job is brewed at the multi-award winning Birrifico del Ducato, one of the fastest growing and biggest craft beer production plants in Italy. The Italian Job is a joint venture from the founders of Birrificio del Ducato, today’s most rewarded Italian brewery and Marco Pucciotti who owns several pubs and restaurants in Rome including Hop & Pork and Epiro.

Young’s to launch Qkr! across estate: London-based pub retailer Young’s will be introducing the Qkr! with MasterPass app later this year throughout its pub estate. Customers ordering food at any one of its 168 pubs across London and the south of England will have the option to pay from their smartphone using the app. Developed by MasterCard Labs, Qkr! is already used throughout Wagamama, and the Azzurri Group-owned Zizzi and ASK Italian restaurants. Studies show the average time between asking for a bill and leaving a restaurant is between ten and 12 minutes, but Qkr! reduces this to a few seconds. Diners will be able to search for nearby Young’s or Geronimo pubs in the app, and on arrival they will be prompted to “check in”. Diners can then view the items they have ordered on their phone and pay via their phone when they are ready. For other diners wishing to split the bill, they can check into the same table, see the entire order, and select and pay for what is theirs when ready. Patrick Dardis, retail director at Young’s, said: “We want to facilitate a relaxed atmosphere without the need for customers to pile up their payment cards to split the bill. Qkr! is a means to offer our tech-savvy diners a leading mobile solution from a globally trusted brand. This lets us focus on bringing customers a warm welcome and personalised service that’s so crucial to providing that leisurely lunch or dinner.”
 
BrewDog enjoys average annual growth rate of 69% in past five years, turnover up 52% to £45m: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has reported it has enjoyed average annual growth rate of 69% in the past five years and grew turnover by 52% to £45m in 2015. It also said it grew UK sales by 130% in 2015 and shipped the equivalent of 41 million bottles of craft beer. The company added during the past five years, average annual operating profit grew by 112%. BrewDog accounts for 0.1% of the UK beer market but the company claimed it is the number-one craft brewer in the UK. It opened 17 bars in 2015 and now employs 580 staff. BrewDog co-founder James Watt said: “2015 was a great year for everyone at BrewDog – and when the dust settled on the year the hard work from everyone at our company delivered impressive numbers. The people who come to work every day for BrewDog are our greatest asset, and over the course of the last few years their commitment and skill helped us become the number-one craft brewery in the United Kingdom. But we have no laurels to rest on; we are not stopping there. 2015 was great but it was a year where we channelled everything into laying the foundations (both metaphorical and literal) for this year, and the next five years ahead.” The figures came in a reveal ahead of its full results that will be announced at the end of February.
 
PizzaExpress submits plans for Delivered site in Reading: PizzaExpress has submitted plans for a new site under its standalone Delivered format in Reading. The company, which will launch the concept on Monday, 7 March in Exeter, has lodged plans to convert the Bargain Booze off-licence in Shinfield Road. PizzaExpress, which is backed by Hony Capital, is seeking permission from Reading Borough Council to change the use of the building from retail to a hot food takeaway, install a new kitchen extraction system and replace the advertisement boards and signs outside the store. It would be open from 11am to 11.30pm every day and have up to 15 drivers delivering food on battery-powered motorbikes during peak times, reports Get Reading. Customers will also be able to track their deliveries because the bikes will be fitted with GPS tracking systems. The application by Indigo Planning on behalf of PizzaExpress, which has two restaurants in Reading, stated: “The launch of the new ‘PizzaExpress Delivered’ service is reflective of a demand from customers to enjoy the dining experience offered at PizzaExpress within the comfort of their own home.” Following the Exeter launch, PizzaExpress, which is aiming to open 150 dedicated delivery sites across the UK in the next five years, will open sites in Staines, Surrey, and Hampstead, north west London. 

JD Wetherspoon distances itself from ice-cream manufacturer’s demise: JD Wetherspoon has refuted claims it recently used ice-cream manufacturer Jaconelli, which is ceasing production from April, as a supplier. Jaconelli joint-owner Denis Jaconelli had told The Yorkshire Post: “We sell to companies such as PizzaExpress, JD Wetherspoon and Burger King in places like Spain, Portugal and the Middle East. So if we have something on a Wetherspoon’s menu, our production could be 14,000 pallets a week, but once it comes off the menu that drops to zero.” A Wetherspoon spokesman said: “The story is totally incorrect from Wetherspoon’s viewpoint. Wetherspoon last used them as a supplier eight years ago, for one dessert, so should in no way be implicated in their very recent demise. The dessert did not sell 15 pallets per week, and it was removed because it proved to be less popular than other desserts at the time.”
 
Patty & Bun to open Soho site on Monday, fourth London venue: Better burger brand Patty & Bun will open its fourth venue – in Soho on Monday (22 February). The 1,500 square foot venue is on the iconic Stockpot site in Old Compton Street and is spread over ground floor and basement levels. Designed by an in-house team, the layout will feature the same stripped-back interior as Patty & Bun’s James Street location. The restaurant will serve Patty & Bun staples such as The Ari Gold and The Smokey Robinson burgers and will also launch a new bar menu and cocktail list, featuring The Stockpot Stour, a tribute to the former site owners. Founded by Joe Grossman, Patty & Bun’s other venues, which are all in London, are in Liverpool Street and The Arch in London Fields.
 
Former Kentish Town sauna set to become Crystal Maze-style game venue: Entertainment company Missing Evasion plans to transform a former sauna in Kentish Town into a Crystal Maze-style escape game venue, the Evening Standard reports. In a planning report submitted to Camden Council, Missing Evasion stated: “Locked up inside a room, you and your team – three to six players – will have 60 minutes to try to escape from the room. You’ll have to use your determination, insight, speed and teamwork to solve a series of puzzles.” The company, which already runs a popular escape game venture in Lille, France, said the venue would welcome up to 35 people at a time, opening from 9am to 11pm. The site is next to South Kentish Town tube station and would join other popular interactive games that have opened in London, including HintHunt in Euston and ClueQuest in Islington. A revival of 1990s game show The Crystal Maze is set to open as an immersive experience at a venue in north London in March. 

Jamie’s Italian to open first South Africa site: Jamie’s Italian is set to open a venue in Johannesburg, the celebrity chef’s first site in South Africa. Confirming speculation around the move, a spokesman for Melrose Arch, a retail space in Illovo owned by Amdec Group, told BusinessTech it was “excited to be welcoming Jamie’s Italian by Jamie Oliver”. Oliver’s communication director Louise Ludlum told South Africa’s Eat Out magazine: “We’re looking into the prospect of bringing Jamie’s Italian to South Africa and are currently in discussions to make this happen. Johannesburg is a vibrant, thriving city with the perfect profile for Jamie’s Italian so we’re really excited about this great opportunity.” Jamie’s Italian was founded in 2008 and has 42 branches worldwide. While Oliver doesn’t have a branded presence in South Africa, the country is home to restaurants run by chefs who trained under him, including Giulio’s Café in Cape Town and InFoods in Jeffery’s Bay.

Pierre Koffmann protege and former Young National Chef of the Year Ben Murphy to launch first restaurant: Former Young National Chef of the Year Ben Murphy, who worked for the renowned Pierre Koffmann at the Berkeley, will launch his first restaurant, The Woodford, in South Woodford, on Tuesday, 1 March. Backed by Essex-based restaurateur Steve Andrews, the 100-cover restaurant in east London will span two floors, with a dedicated oyster and seafood bar. Dishes will include lamb with aubergine and toasted peanut, with desserts such as olive oil cake with lemon thyme sorbet and buttermilk. The team will also use a variety of long-aged meats. The a la carte menu will include signature dishes such as hay-smoked pigeon breast, confit egg yolk and burnt brown bread consommé and the venue will also serve a dedicated grill offering. Murphy, 25, worked at the Berkeley for three years before moving to France to work at two, three Michelin-starred restaurants – Michel Guerard’s Les Pres d’Eugenie in south-west France and Epicure at Le Bristol in Paris, working under Eric Fréchon. He won the Young National Chef of the Year title in 2013 and appeared on BBC2’s Chefs on Trial. He returned to London to work at The Greenhouse in Mayfair, which holds two Michelin stars.
 
Gail’s Artisan Bakery opens first site outside London: Gail’s Artisan Bakery, which is backed by sector investor Luke Johnson, has opened its first site outside London – in Summerstown, Oxford. The company has opened the outlet in Banbury Road – its 26th site. The bakery sells loaves, including Gail’s French dark sourdough, mixed olive sourdough, quinoa sourdough and honey and almond sourdough. It also specialises in pastries, cakes, yogurt pots, seasonal soups, sandwiches, salads and quiches. A hot brunch menu is served until 3pm. Gail’s Artisan Bakery was founded in 2005, when founders Ran Avidan, Tom Molnar and Emma King opened the first bakery in Hampstead.
 
Tonkotsu submits plans for sixth site, in former underground toilets in Holborn: London-based ramen restaurant Tonkotsu has submitted plans to open its sixth site – in underground toilets in Holborn shut by Camden Council nearly 30 years ago. The company wants to convert the conveniences in Guilford Place, which have been locked up since 1986. The plans for the loos, close to Coram’s Fields, are being reviewed by the council’s planning department, reports the Camden New Journal. Planning consultants said in paperwork submitted with the application: “It has been accepted that many of London’s underground conveniences are no longer economically sustainable. The proposal is to convert the Guilford Place conveniences into a Tonkotsu ramen restaurant. The client desires the retention of as much of the original fabric as possible while maintaining a clean hygienic environment for the serving of food.” A leaking roof would be repaired and lanterns returned to the wrought-iron fencing. Underground toilets once run by the council in Kentish Town have been turned into a bar and a music recording studio. Elsewhere in London, coffee bars and nail treatment salons have opened in former public conveniences. Tonkotsu is named after a creamy ramen typical in Kyushu, Japan’s most southern island, but found all over the country. It has standalone sites in Mare Street, Soho, Dunston Street, Bankside, and Notting Hill along with a concession at Selfridges in Oxford Street. 
 
London fish restaurant starts expanding by opening second site in Stratford: London fish restaurant Fish House has started expanding by opening its second site, this time in Stratford. The concept, launched by Gabs Early and Jo Nylander in Lauriston Road, Hackney, in 2007, has opened the new site in the East Village development. Fish House serves seasonal, ethically sourced and contemporary seafood to eat-in and take away. Early, who worked in restaurants and hotels for ten years before launching the venture, told the Newham Recorder: “The food is fresh, it’s healthy, it’s tasty and something everyone can eat maybe once a week. We do it well and we do it cheaply.”
 
Nightclub company bought out of administration: The holding company for a group of South Yorkshire nightclubs has been acquired out of administration in a pre-pack deal arranged by restructuring firm KPMG. G4 Leisure Holdings, formerly known as Brook Leisure Holdings, is behind five operational nightclubs, three in Doncaster and one in Barnsley and Sheffield. The Barnsley-based business provides management services to its three subsidiaries, which Coco, CHE and Graffiti in Silver Street in Doncaster, CHE & Coco in Barnsley and Crystal in Sheffield. After experiencing a challenging post-Christmas trading period and unable to continue as a going concern, the business was placed into administration. On appointment, G4 Leisure was sold to Brook Leisure Group. The subsidiaries are not included in the insolvency process and continue to trade as usual.
 
Bradford Brewery reveals two more sites as it celebrates first anniversary: Bradford Brewery has revealed its expansion plans in the city for 2016 as it celebrates its first anniversary. The company is opening two new sites and also bringing its temporary bar and bottle shop to a new location. It will launch its second venue this spring on the site of the former New Pack Horse pub in Westgate, which has been closed for 15 years. It is part of a partnership that is reinventing the venue as Westgate Social Club – a quirky 21st century interpretation of the classic social club, but in a contemporary setting with more modern, imaginative games and events. As well as a bar serving Bradford Brewery beers, there will be an American-influenced menu, first floor function room and roof terrace area. Plans are also under way to transform an empty building in Saltaire Village into a delicatessen and beer house. The yet-to-be-disclosed venue is also targeted to open this spring. Meanwhile, its temporary bar in The Broadway shopping centre, The Made of Bradford bar and bottle shop, will be popping up again in a different Bradford city centre premises. Terms are currently being agreed and the outlet, selling beer, Bradford souvenirs and gift packs, will reopen some time in March. Managing director Matthew Halliday said: “Obviously we had high hopes when we launched the business a year ago, but it’s been beyond our wildest dreams. It’s felt like a bit of a whirlwind sometimes, with a lot of hard work from everyone involved and some really special moments. It’s hard to believe that all the fantastic stuff has happened in just a 12-month period. We are certain this is just the beginning though, for Bradford Brewery and for our amazing city, and we’re really excited to be announcing even more big plans for 2016.” Bradford Brewery and its attached bar was launched on 18 February 2015, bringing the brewing industry back to the city centre for the first time in more than 50 years. Brewing took place 99 times during the year – creating 20 different beers, which are supplied to pubs across the UK.
 
Shepherd Neame starts work on £1m project to expand Chatham marina pub: Kent brewer and retailer Shepherd Neame has started work on a £1m project to expand the Ships and Trades pub in Chatham’s marina. The venue, which once housed dockyard offices and an engineering shop, was taken over by the company in 2001 and transformed into a contemporary bar, restaurant and hotel. The site is currently open but will close on Monday, 29 February for the work and is expected to reopen in the second week of May. It currently has 11 en-suite rooms on the first floor, and five new rooms are being created, two with waterfront balconies. One room is being removed in order to accommodate a major expansion and refurbishment of the kitchen, which is also on the first floor. On the ground floor, a new wrap-around glass fronted restaurant overlooking the marina is being created, which will be able to take an additional 80 covers. The external terrace will be improved with heated covered areas, and a glass-fronted cask cellar is to be introduced. Shepherd Neame’s director of retail and tenanted operations Nigel Bunting said: “The Ship and Trades is one of our most popular pubs and we want to maximise that potential by expanding the opportunities for guests to eat, drink and stay.” 
 
Apache Pizza to open up to 40 outlets in Northern Ireland by 2018 as part of major UK expansion: Republic of Ireland-based Apache Pizza said it will open up to 40 outlets in Northern Ireland in the next two years, creating as many as 800 jobs. Managing director Robert Pendleton said the business would open eight this year alone, including three earmarked for Belfast. Each franchise business will create about 15 to 20 jobs, with Pendleton wanting 35 to 40 stores in Northern Ireland by 2018. The low-cost pizza business has only one restaurant in Northern Ireland but 118 in the Republic. Apache Pizza also plans a “very conservative” total of 200 stores throughout the UK as part of a major expansion. Pendleton told The Belfast Telegraph: “It’s been huge growth over the last four or five years. For a franchisee there is no fee for setting up, and no ongoing royalties. There is a commitment in training and purchasing, and we support stores in signage and branding.” Apache Pizza was launched in Dublin in 1996 and is majority owned by Pendleton and his wife. The company employs 2,600 staff across its franchised businesses in the Republic.
 
Harry Potter star’s failed Hertford hotel up for rent: A former hotel owned by Harry Potter star Rupert Grint has been put up for rent. The actor opened £150-a-night Rigsby’s Guest House in St Andrew Street, Hertford, in April 2011 but it closed at the end of 2015 after reportedly producing only £2,014 profit in the four years. The grade II-listed 18th century building is now being listed as a five-bedroom home for rent, at a cost of £2,500 per month, with all bills included except council tax. Grint, who played Ron Weasley in the Harry Potter film series, is said to be the only shareholder of the property, which was run by Morris Cockman. The property won an episode of Channel 4’s Four In A Bed in 2013.
 
New dessert cafe concept to open in Blackburn in April: A new dessert cafe concept is set to open in Blackburn in April. Nighat Anwar is launching BB1 Central on the ground floor of the new office block in the flagship £34m Cathedral Quarter, creating five jobs. It will sell a selection of coffees and hot drinks, gelato-style ice-creams, waffles, crepes and other sweet treats. BB1 Central is the first let at the new One Cathedral Square block, which has five floors of space spanning 28,127 square feet. Anwar, who owns the railway station coffee bar opposite the office block with brother Awais and also aims to open a Subway outlet there, told the Lancashire Telegraph: “This is a very exciting opportunity. I have shown a keen interest in this location from a very early stage as I believe Blackburn town centre craves an all-exclusive ice-cream and dessert cafe. It will complement rather than compete with the Subway development in the railway station. The cafe will cater for a variety of dietary requirements including sugar-free and gluten-free options.”
 
M&B to open Miller & Carter steakhouses in Warrington and Chester: Mitchells & Butlers will open Miller & Carter steakhouse sites in Warrington and Chester this year as part of the brand’s expansion programme across the UK. The Warrington restaurant is set to be at Westbrook Centre, while the Chester venue will be in Grosvenor Road, close to Chester Racecourse. Few other details are known but the company is actively looking for staff to run the two restaurants, the Liverpool Echo reports. The new venues will join the other Miller & Carter steakhouses in the north west – Albert Dock in Liverpool, Cheshire Oaks in Ellesmere Port and Haughton, near Ormskirk. There are currently 40 Miller & Carter steakhouses in the UK.
 
Bristol chef to open new restaurant and bar venture in city: Bristol chef Aidan Dunford is to open a restaurant and bar venture in the city next month. Dunford, who was head chef at the Yurt Lush restaurant in the Temple Quarter, is launching The Lock Up in Church Road, Redfield, on Wednesday, 9 March, reports Crumbs. It will offer a “quintessentially British menu with traditional favourites along with a taste of the unexpected”. It will include lamb kebabs with harissa yoghurt; hake with lemon, caper and fennel butter, and kid goat chop and tenderloin with caramelised red cabbage. There will also be a selection of wines, cocktails, beers and ciders as well as teas, coffees and fruity soft drinks.

Loungers opens new site in Hinckley: Cafe bar brand Loungers has opened a new site in Hinckley, Leicestershire. The company has launched the Tarro Lounge at the £60m Crescent development, creating 25 jobs. It features the brand’s usual quirky design with a strong use of reclaimed and antique furniture and fittings. The all-day menu includes breakfasts and burgers, tapas, sandwiches and paninis. It also has an extensive selection of coffee and loose-leaf teas, cakes and pastries, freshly squeezed juice, wines, draught beers and cocktails. Loungers East Midlands manager Craig Williams told the Hinckley Times: “There will be a community orientation, we allow dogs and we have a knitting club on a Saturday morning and a mother and baby group. It’s important Loungers have a community vibe to them.” Loungers has nearly 80 sites in the UK, including 12 under its Cosy Club brand.

Novus Leisure announces winner of £50,000 cash giveaway: Bar and restaurant operator Novus Leisure has revealed the winner of its Late Night London £50,000 January cash giveaway. Late Night London customers took part in the giveaway throughout January by entering redeemable codes from venue receipts online. In addition to the £50,000 grand prize, announced during a reception at Luxe Tiger Tiger London, ten other customers were awarded £1,000 bar tabs that can be redeemed at Late Night London venues during the year. Aman Khanni, from London, scooped the top prize, purchasing his winning code at Strawberry Moons in Piccadilly Circus. 
 
Micro-brewery to launch in Sheffield after securing funding: A father and son entrepreneurial team have purchased a site to house their growing micro-brewery business with funding support from NatWest and the bank’s asset finance partner Lombard. Mark and Matthew Steer have purchased a new unit in Sheffield to house Little Critters Brewery. The brewery is part of the Lancar business, which includes an IT company as well as two pubs in South Yorkshire: The Fox and Duck in Broomhill and The Doctor’s Orders in Glossop Road. To support the volume of beer, which is sold in the pubs, Mark Steer began making his own brews just more than a year ago. He said: “We made a few different brews, which were tested with my family and then we adapted recipes from there. Little Critters is looking to brew eight cask ales, which are made up of five core ales and three bottled products. I think you are seeing a trend of people wanting to return to locally produced products instead of mass-market varieties. People want more choice and want to support local businesses, which is part of the reason you are seeing more micro-breweries like Little Critters.”
 
Eric Paxman sets date for launch of Huddersfield’s first gourmet burger restaurant: Leading chef Eric Paxman will open what he claims is Huddersfield’s first gourmet burger restaurant on Monday, 29 February. PAX Burger will open following a six-week refurbishment of the former La Cocina restaurant in Lidget Street, Lindley. The interior reflects a rustic theme and incorporates a large bar area and seating spread over three floors. Paxman, who also owns and runs the nearby Eric’s restaurant, which opened in 2010, told The Huddersfield Daily Examiner: “We have a great new team in place who are all looking forward to starting work and launching our new venture.” PAX Burger has created 20 jobs and will offer nine different burgers, each created by Paxman, plus a selection of side dishes, with everything including sauces made on site using fresh ingredients. The burgers will include PAX a Punch – smoked barbecue pulled ox cheek with spicy mayonnaise – and there will be chicken, fish, lamb and vegetarian options. Drinks will include American-style cocktails and milkshakes. Paxman worked under Marco Pierre White at L’escargot in London and Bill Granger in Sydney.
 
New restaurants and cinema part of £70m scheme planned at Tunbridge Wells shopping centre: Plans have been lodged for a £70m development of a shopping centre in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, featuring new restaurants and a multiplex cinema. The proposed scheme at Royal Victoria Place has been submitted to Tunbridge Wells Borough Council with the scheme set to create up to 275 jobs and add £6.9m a year to the local economy. It includes a multi-screen cinema on the roof of the shopping centre as well as several new restaurants and bigger stores to attract high street retailers. Further improvements are set to include a redesigned entrance on the corner of Calverley Road and Camden Road. John Fell, of retail consultancy FSP, told Kent Online: “In our experience the addition of a cinema with complementary food and beverage operators, has the potential to increase not only the number of people visiting the centre but also how much time they spend in the area and how much money they spend while they are there.”
 
Whitbread to open 61-bedroom Premier Inn in Buxton next month: Whitbread will open a 61-bedroom Premier Inn in Buxton, Derbyshire, next month. The company is launching the hotel on Thursday, 3 March in London Road on the site of the former Robin Hood pub, creating 30 jobs. Premier Inn Buxton operations manager Robert Sparks told the Buxton Advertiser: “We are looking forward to welcoming guests to Buxton and to spread the word of all that it has to offer. Positioned in a fantastic location, within walking distance to the Pavilion Gardens and Buxton Museum and Art Gallery. It will be perfect for anyone wanting to explore its Georgian splendor and picturesque Dales.”

D&D London to reward loyal customers with three-day Val d’Isère trip: Restaurant operator D&D London will reward its loyal customers by taking them on a special ski trip to Val D’Isère, from 19 to 22 March. The trip, called Bluebird Chelsea goes to Val D’Isère after one of D&D’s most famous clubs, is a reward for members of Club D&D and Friends of D&D. The weekend starts with a meal and drinks at Le Panoramic, a mountain-top restaurant D&D will open exclusively for the evening, with the option of night-skiing to a club for an after-party event. The next day includes brunch at La Folie Douce – La Fruitière and live music at Cocorico. Monday’s schedule features lunch at the ski-in ski-out Edelweiss restaurant.

Full speaker programme for Propel Multi Club Conference on 16 March unveiled: The full speaker programme for the Propel Multi Club Conference on Wednesday, 16 March at Congress Hall, London, has been unveiled. Multi-site pub, restaurant and foodservice operators can book up to two free places by emailing Adam Dickinson on adam.dickinson@propelinfo.com. The conference series is the best attended in the sector. Speakers are: Nicola Knight, analyst at insights firm Horizons, investigates the key trends in the UK foodservice market, including major menu trends, growth areas and discounting – and looks ahead to the key trends of 2016 and beyond. Adrian Blair, chief operating officer for Just Eat, provides an overview of the company’s role in the takeaway market, current key trends and future potential for operators to develop revenue. Steve Kenee, partner at investment firm Downing, talks about the firm’s long-term investment partnership with Antic London, developing an estate of more than 30 London pubs, the businesses USPs, the risks and rewards of operating near the leading edge of urban regeneration and the development of non-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 jo.charity@propelinfo.com

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