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Mon 22nd Feb 2016 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

CGA and ALMR partner to produce industry reports: CGA and the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) have unveiled a new partnership to produce a pioneering series of industry-leading intelligence reports. The ‘Future Shock’ series will pull together CGA’s suite of respected research sources in the out-of-home eating and drinking sectors, all integrated with data, insight and expertise from the ALMR and CGA. The reports will provide insights for operators and suppliers across the eating and drinking out sectors and feed into industry discussions on key issues like property costs, pay and tax. The ALMR will also use the data to make the industry’s voice heard within government. Each ‘Future Shock’ report will feature exclusive new research in important and topical areas, plus the latest figures from CGA’s research tools, incorporating all of CGA’s suite of services in addition to other market data, plus consumer research and the ALMR’s own data from its annual survey of members with Christie & Co. The result will be the most comprehensive package of supply, demand, market performance and benchmarking figures within the sector. The reports will be published every February and July, building into a reliable monitor of sector trends and a valuable archive of data. The first report is free and available now. The research is fully supported by ALMR members and sponsors, some of whom will supply their own data to augment the research. ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “Our aim is simple – to provide anyone with an interest in our sector with a one stop shop of information; a genuine state of the nation report. This is the first time that anyone has provided a comprehensive health check on the sector – with operational, consumer, supply chain and macro economic insight. It means operators, politicians and the media have the key facts and fingertips in an easy to digest, bite-sized format.” CGA Peach business unit director Jamie Campbell said: “As supporters and supplier members of the ALMR, we are delighted to collaborate on this exciting new project – the first time that our research sources have been drawn together in this way. Eating and drinking out are dynamic and fast changing markets, and ‘Future Shock’ will help the whole industry to track it’s performance whilst shouting about its scale and importance.”

Industry News:

Twelve copies of Chris Edger and Tony Hughes’ new book Effective Brand Leadership – Be Different. Stay Different. Or Perish up for grabs: Propel has 12 copies of Professor Chris Edger and Tony Hughes’ new book, Effective Brand Leadership – Be Different. Stay Different. Or Perish, to give away. Hughes is senior independent director of The Restaurant Group and has been described as the UK’s most “influential foodservice brand builder over the past 30 years”, while Edger is the UK’s “leading expert on multi-site retail management”. Featuring 25 real-life case studies and key insights from the founders and leaders of some of the best-known foodservice brands, the book is essential reading for leaders at all levels. Drawing on the extensive experience of the authors, the book provides comprehensive advice on how brand leaders can ensure their brands are different and stay different. The foreword is written by Propel Info managing director Paul Charity. He said: “Effective Brand Leadership is an invaluable guide for anyone involved in the foodservice sector. It breaks new ground in mapping out the architecture of brand creation and the key crucial stages that follow – brand growth and evolution.” Email with your name and postal address to enter the draw for the free copies

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 for Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers members and £345 for non-members and to book email

Jamie Oliver to publish two books in 2016: Chef Jamie Oliver is to publish two new books this year. The first, called Family Super Food, will be on the subject of “healthy eating for the family”, and the second, Jamie’s Christmas, will be “a long awaited Christmas book”. The move breaks a pattern where Oliver traditionally only publishes one title per year in the autumn. The release date for each new book publishing in 2016 has yet to be disclosed. Louise Moore, managing director of publisher Michael Joseph, said: “It is every publisher’s dream to have an author like Jamie and to have two books in one year is truly a gift for us and his fans. I can’t wait to eat from the Family Super Food book, and Christmas is such a stressful time for the cook in the family, so who better to hold your hand through the most important meal of the year.” Oliver said: “Doing two books in one year is incredibly exciting. First up, there’s my Family Super Food. I’ve had such a lot of positive feedback that it’s inspired me to focus on the dishes that people really love but that perhaps aren’t so healthy, and rewrite them so they fit into my super food philosophy to make them easy and accessible for everyone. To end the year on a real high, there’s my epic Christmas cookbook, which is the culmination of 17 years work of fine-tuning the ultimate in amazing recipes, tricks and tips.” Oliver’s latest title Everyday Super Food, published by Michael Joseph in August 2015, has sold 409,420 copies to date.

Loyalty app Droplet to return to Crowdcube for second round raise: Loyalty scheme app firm Droplet is looking to expand its reach to more UK cities with a second crowdfunding campaign on Crowdcube. The mobile app company wants to expand to 20 cities by the end of 2016. Droplet, which launched in Exeter last year, is hoping to raise £450,000 of funding in the second round bid. The move comes after the company achieved its 12-month business plan of rolling out in ten major cities, including Birmingham, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, London and Norwich. Droplet managed to raise £525,000 in its first Crowdcube round. It has also gained further commercial traction after securing a deal with contract caterer Elior. Steffan Aquarone, who started the firm with Will Grant, said: “In the UK, £1 in every £7 spent is attached to a loyalty programme. The problem is that most people don’t want to carry around a wallet stuffed with paper and plastic cards. We know from apps like Starbucks that mobile offers a powerful way for merchants to make things simpler and easier for their customers – but people don’t want their phones crammed with different apps either and that’s why we built Droplet as a universal app that any business can use.” So far, it has raised £91,960 in its second-round fund-raising.

Company News:

The Restaurant Group has quadrupled profits at Brunning & Price since acquisition: The latest full year accounts for gastro-pub company Brunning & Price, filed at Companies House, show owner The Restaurant Group has more than quadrupled profits since it bought the business in 2007. Brunning & Price has reported turnover of £48,408,000 in the 52 weeks ended 28 December 2014, up from £40,255,000 the year before. Ebitda grew by 20% to £7.2m and pre-tax profit rose to £5,375,000 from £4,633,000 the year before. The estate size was just over 50 pubs at the 2014 year-end. When The Restaurant Group bought Brunning & Price for £32m in 2007 it had 14 pubs, produced turnover of £18m and produced pre-tax profit of £1.2m. In its Company House filing, the company stated: “Brunning & Price has traded strongly throughout the year with substantial increase in turnover and profits. During the year we opened three new pubs, all of which are performing well and are set to deliver strong returns. Our pub business has the potential to grow over the medium term to be a substantial business as a nationwide operator of high-quality, food-led pubs.” Agent Christie & Co has reported The Restaurant Group wants to add ten new sites in 2016 – and the agent has found six new sites in the past six months.

Propel Opinion: When Restaurant Group bought Brunning & Price in October 2007 there was one obvious danger – the singularity of approach to food and service quality at Brunning & Price would be lost or eroded in the larger corporate culture. More than eight years on and Restaurant Group is to be commended for its self-control in ensuring Brunning & Price has retained its own identity – it’s a model of sensitive assimilation. Expansion has remained pretty much in line with the disciplined approach taken before acquisition although now appears to be stepping up. However, each new Brunning & Price opening shows the same heightened respect for architectural individuality. All in all, it must count as one of the best-judged and executed acquisitions of the past decade.

Ottolenghi reports turnover increase but fall in pre-tax profit: Ottolenghi, the restaurant company headed by chef Yotam Ottolenghi, has reported an increase in turnover but a fall in pre-tax profit. The company saw turnover rise to £13,165,884 for the year ending 29 March 2015, compared with £12,939,272 the previous year, according to accounts filed with Companies House. Pre-tax profit was down to £1,271,851, compared with £1,580,881 the year before. The company stated: “During the last year, sales in the Nopi restaurant grew by 12.7% and sales in the other branches fell by 8.9%, due to the closure of the Kensington branch during 2014.” A dividend of £1,600,001 was paid to shareholders (2014: £1.1m). The highest paid director earned remuneration of £130,000, down from £225,000 the previous year. The company has 202 staff, up from 185 the year before.

BrewDog adds three directors to the board: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has added three directors to its board since the start of the calendar year, according to Companies House filings. The new board members are people director Alison Green, director of sales Gareth Bath and Luis Gaston Garrido.

Steakhouse restaurant operator opens third site: Steakhouse restaurant operator Graeme Fulton has opened his third site, this time in Long Eaton, Derbyshire. Fulton has launched The Butchers Bar and Steakhouse in West Gate on the site of a former Victorian mill. He also runs steakhouses in Ashbourne and Stoke-on-Trent but this is the first of his venues to have a cocktail bar. The décor features industrial style floorboards, wooden tables and low-hung retro lighting. The steaks are cooked in a Josper oven with host coals at temperatures of 300°C. A number of the cocktails embrace the meaty theme including the buttery whiskey sour, which is made by infusing rye with 28-day aged steak fat from the kitchen. Fulton told the Nottingham Post: “What we are doing is an upmarket steakhouse with a relaxed atmosphere.”

Marston’s invests £20m in six sites as part of major new-build project: Marston’s has invested £20m in six new UK sites, with a view to developing 20 new-build pub restaurants this year. The venues will be in Boston in Lincolnshire, Clay Cross in Derbyshire, Glan Llyn in Newport, Hastings, the Isle of Sheppey and Welwyn Garden City. The Clay Cross and Glan Llyn sites were acquired from St Modwen and will form part of mixed-use regeneration schemes. Steve Roberts, head of acquisitions at Marston’s, told Property Week: “We are delighted with the flying start to 2016, which is a major step towards our target to open 20 new-build family pubs in the year to October.” Marston’s operates more than 1,700 pubs in the UK, with nine others under construction. One of those, Teal Farm pub in Pattinson Road, Washington, near Sunderland, will open on 21 March as part of a housing estate development. The “community pub” will seat 120, with families dining in individual booths with a TV, aimed at keeping children entertained. The pub will also have two play areas.

Peter Andre set to launch restaurant chain: Pop and reality television star turned coffee shop owner Peter Andre is set to launch a restaurant chain. Andre, who has appeared on shows including I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here! and Strictly Come Dancing, said he is planning to step away from the limelight to focus on the new venture. He told Best magazine: “I’m doing something quite different. I’m opening up a chain of restaurants later this year. I’ve enjoyed having my coffee shops (New York Coffee Club) but now I’m ready to do something a bit bigger. I know it’s a risk, but I’m very excited about it. I love food and I love people.” Andre, whose single Mysterious Girl was a chart number one in 1996, has two New York Coffee Club sites – in East Grinstead, West Sussex, and Brighton.

New game-focused restaurant concept to open in Tunbridge Wells: A new game-focused restaurant concept is to open in Tunbridge Wells, Kent. The Warren will open on Sunday, 6 March in the High Street on the site of the former family-run Italian restaurant Signor Franco’s. The site has 70 covers. The menu will be dominated by game with the meat coming from its farm in nearby Crowborough that has the same name as the restaurant. With a head chef trained by Marco Pierre White, assistant manager Olivier Thevin promised “traditional food with a twist”. Thevin, who was assistant bar manager at Hotel du Vin in Tunbridge Wells for six years, told the Kent & Sussex Courier: “It is completely different. We have a good contrast of modern and traditional, a mix and match. It is an interesting development of the place.”

Chapel Down passes £1.5m mark in crowdfunding drive to build new brewery: Kent-based Chapel Down’s beer and cider arm Curious Drinks has now raised more than £1.5m on crowdfunding platform Seedrs as it looks to expand the business and build a new brewery. It hit its initial £1m target in November to get the project under way but then extended the fund-raise to £3.65m. The company has so far seen £1,505,200 pledged from 803 investors and it is now “overfunding” – Chapel Down is offering an 8.60% equity stake in the business. The largest investment to date is £495,000. Proceeds from the crowdfunding will be used to construct a state-of-the-art new brewery and visitor attraction in Ashford as well as further strengthen the Curious Drinks team, enhance its domestic and international routes to market and further develop the brand. Chief executive Frazer Thompson previously said the fund would remain open until it reached £3.65m or the closing date of Monday, 29 February, whichever is sooner. Demand for Chapel Down’s beer and cider sales are growing at about 40% per annum. 

Fuller’s to ‘walk away’ from Herne Hill pub if planning application refused: London brewer and pub retailer Fuller’s has said it will ‘walk away’ from the Half Moon in Herne Hill if its planning application for the venue is refused. The company acquired the lease of the pub in January from owners the Dulwich Estate and propose to reopen the site, which closed in 2013 following flooding caused by a burst pipe, later this month. Its planning application, which includes adding a small number of bedrooms, is due to go before Southwark Council’s planning sub-committee B on Tuesday, 8 March. In a meeting with representatives from the Save The Half Moon campaign group and Herne Hill Forum, Fuller’s said if the plan was refused it would not take on the lease. The Brixton Buzz reported: “The meeting was cordial, but when it came to the matter of restoring live music to this historic venue, Fuller’s (said it had) no interest in running a music pub – no matter what the community wants – and that they’d walk away if they lost their planning application.” There is a petition – currently signed by over 7,000 people – asking for the pub to remain a live music venue. Performances had been taking place at The Half Moon for more than 40 years.

Easyhotel plans approved for Birmingham city centre site: Easyhotel has had its plan to convert a former nightclub above Caribbean restaurant Turtle Bay’s Birmingham city centre site approved. The move comes weeks after Easyhotel conditionally acquired the property’s leasehold. An application to change the use of the upper floors at 81-91 John Bright Street into a hotel was lodged by BPG Urban. The grade II-listed building dates to 1900 and is only 120m from the entrance of New Street station and 500m from the Bullring. The nightclub was shut in November 2006. Easyhotel told Insider Media it would spend £4.5m on converting the property into an 84-bedroom hotel, which could open in 2017. Turtle Bay opened its restaurant in April 2014.

Former Boddingtons Brewery site in Manchester set to become home to major mixed-use scheme: The former Boddingtons Brewery site in Manchester is set to become home to a major mixed-use scheme. Developer Realty Estates has unveiled its proposals for the site next to Victoria Station and the Manchester Arena, which it has owned for some time. It is expected to submit a planning application shortly for the UX Manchester scheme, which features 200,000 square foot of office space and 80,000 square foot of commercial units, including restaurants and bars. It will also provide more than 1,000 apartments as part of a new city centre neighbourhood. Realty chief executive Yousef Tishbi told The Business Desk: “UX Manchester will provide an ideal home for ambitious businesses and the growing young professional community. Our vision is to provide shared on-site amenities, including a gym, high-quality socialising spaces and additional retail and leisure units.”

M&B to open third Miller & Carter steakhouse in Cardiff: Mitchells & Butlers will transform its Pentre Gwilym Pub and Carvery in Thornhill, Cardiff, into a Miller & Carter steakhouse as it expands the brand across the UK. The steakhouse, which will be the brand’s third venue in the city, alongside venues in Cardiff Bay and The Hayes in the city centre, will open on 25 March. There are currently 40 Miller & Carter steakhouses in the UK. 

Travelodge invests £26m in campaign aimed at business travellers, biggest advertising spend to date: Budget hotel operator Travelodge has invested £26m – its biggest advertising spend to date – on refreshing its puppet-fronted adverts with a new marketing push lauding its quality and service improvements to business travellers. “That’s Travelodgical” rolled out last year on the back of a £100m modernisation programme and boosted brand recognition in the UK by 90%, the company claimed in its half-year results. Now it has updated the campaign, which started appearing on television screens yesterday (Sunday, 21 February), with support from commercial radio, digital, press and outdoor advertising until the end of 2016. The advert features a character from the previous showing, the businessman Alex, and introduces a new character, Kate, a businesswoman, who appear with their human counterparts. The campaign will support Travelodge’s plans to open 19 new UK hotels in 2016 with an investment value of £140m.

Mary-Ellen McTague to head upcycled food venue: Well-known former Aumbry chef Mary-Ellen McTague is to become the head chef at Manchester’s first ‘junk food’ restaurant. McTague, who owned and ran the Prestwich venue for five years after working in Michelin-starred kitchens, including Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck, is now set to take the helm at The Real Junk Food Project, which will open at The Wonder Inn on Shudehill next month. The not-for-profit establishment will serve only food that would otherwise go to waste, sourced from wholesalers, supermarkets and restaurants, with customers settling the bill on a ‘pay-as-you-feel’ basis. Director Corin Bell told the Manchester Evening News: “What the project was in its day-to-day running was always going to be decided by the calibre of chef we could attract and having someone of Mary-Ellen’s calibre on board totally changes the game in terms of what we can do and what we can deliver. What we do is demonstrate how perfectly edible the vast majority of food that goes to waste is, and having a chef with a Michelin-star background really hammers that point home.” The restaurant, which has evolved from a series of pop-up events held since 2014 to highlight food waste and food poverty, will also be made entirely from salvaged materials. “Our goal from the start was to find a space in which to open a permanent ‘waste food’ restaurant,” said Bell. “We’ve found that home with our amazing partners at The Wonder Inn. We are in the process of building our ‘utterly upcycled’ restaurant at The Wonder Inn. We’re not quite sure if we’re the most upcycled food venue in the UK, but we can’t find anyone who’s gone quite as far as we have.”

McDonald’s raises CEO Easterbrook’s salary by 18%: McDonald’s chief executive Stephen Easterbrook’s base pay will rise 18%, starting in March, while his annual target incentive for the year also promises a bigger reward if the company’s operating earnings improve for 2016. According to a regulatory filing, McDonald’s compensation committee approved increasing Easterbrook’s salary to $1.3m. His annual target incentive was set at 175% of his salary, or nearly $3m, but only if the company’s operating earnings grow. Easterbrook, who led McDonald’s in the UK earlier in his career and was previously McDonald’s chief brand officer, took the helm nearly a year ago. At that time, his base salary was increased to $1.1m and his target annual incentive opportunity rose to 160% of base salary from 100%. Shares in McDonald’s have risen by approximately 17% since Easterbrook took over as chief executive last March. Other pay rises include chief financial officer Kevin Ozan, who will get a salary of $700,000, a 16.7% increase, while Doug Goare, president of McDonald’s international lead markets, will get a 10.2% rise to $650,000. Those raises also take effect on 1 March. Easterbrook’s predecessor, Don Thompson, earned total compensation of about $7.3m, but that was nearly half of what he was paid in his first year as chief executive in 2012. McDonald’s in recent months has showed signs of a turnaround starting to pay off, with its stock near an all-time high and like-for-likes turning positive at its restaurants. The launch of all-day breakfast in October, spearheaded by Easterbrook, has been a key driver in McDonald’s growth. Last month, the company said its fourth-quarter earnings rose 10%. Meanwhile, McDonald’s has reopened its world’s largest restaurant in terms of turnover – in Paris – following a six-month closure for refurbishment. The venue – on the Champs-Élysées – turned over €13.5m in 2014 making it the company’s “first in the world in terms of activity”, said McDonald’s France president Nawfal Trabelsi.

Cote to open new Cirencester restaurant next month: French brasserie Cote will open its new restaurant in Cirencester next month. The company will launch the venue on the site of the former Hares Antiques site in Black Jack Street on Monday, 7 March – its second outlet in Gloucestershire. Marketing and PR manager Paola Voiro previously told the Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: “We have long thought that Cirencester would be the perfect setting for Cote, as we pride ourselves on the neighbourhood feel our restaurants have and Cirencester is a friendly place with great local spirit. We are confident our ethos of offering high quality food at value for money prices and personable customer service will fit in well in Cirencester.” Cote has more than 70 restaurants across the UK, including its other Gloucestershire site in Cheltenham.

Wadworth mourns death of Major John Bartholomew: Pub operator and brewer Wadworth will fly its flag at half-mast this week following the death of Major John Bartholomew. Major Bartholomew, who passed away on 7 February, led the Devizes-based business prior to Charles Bartholomew, who is now chairman. He was the grandson of John Smith Bartholomew, who founded Wadworth with Henry Alfred Wadworth. Under the major’s leadership, Wadworth was one of the few breweries in the 1960s and early 1970s to keep brewing and selling cask beer when many others turned to kegs. He continued to play a key role following his retirement. Chris Welham, Wadworth chief executive, said: “I was fortunate to meet Major Bartholomew when I joined Wadworth and his passion for the business was very clear. This is sad news and all at Wadworth send our deepest sympathies to Charles and his family.”

Peterborough restaurateur launches crowdfunding campaign to reopen venue: Peterborough restaurateur Nick Rutta has launched a crowdfunding campaign to reopen his venue. Rutta closed EMBE, which served food with an African and Caribbean twist, in Burghley Road last summer due to dwindling customer numbers, which he partly blamed on the draw of the chain restaurants in the city centre. It was a restaurant he had built up over the last five years at the former Glass Onion pub, having previously operated out of the City Club basement in the city centre and the Thorpe Lodge hotel in Thorpe Road. Now, having since operated as a pop-up in Cambridge, Rutta is looking to raise £45,000 through GoFundMe to relaunch the restaurant. He told the Peterborough Telegraph: “The market is huge for the Afro-Caribbean cuisine as we can see from the growth of the Turtle Bay brand. 2016 is set to be the year of hard work in order to reopen EMBE. Most importantly I will be looking for the right location/premises, this could be in Peterborough or around Cambridgeshire.” 

Calcot Hotels adds Gloucestershire hotel to portfolio: Luxury hotel group Calcot Hotels will reopen the former Cotswolds88 in Painswick next month. The property is the latest addition to the group’s Gloucestershire stable, behind Calcot Manor in Tetbury, Barnsley House and The Village Pub. The site is undergoing refurbishment to create 16 bedrooms and suites, two treatment rooms and a restaurant headed up by chef Michael Bedford. Calcot Hotels executive chairman Richard Ball told the Gloucestershire Echo: “We’re extremely excited to be welcoming it as a notable addition to our collection of hotels. It will fit superbly alongside sister Calcot Hotels.” The new venture is called The Painswick with the strapline “feasts and the rest”.

Ruth & Robinson to open second venue, at Black Cap in Camden: Brooklyn bar concept Ruth & Robinson, which is backed by investment fund Imbiba Partnership, will open a venue at the Black Cap pub in Camden Town, almost a year after it closed amid protests. Ruth & Robinson told Camden New Journal it aims to create a “unique, distinctive and vibrant drinking establishment which is welcoming to the whole community”. The closure of the Black Cap last April, one of the UK’s most noted LGBT venues, led to demonstrations. Negotiations to reopen it as a branch of The Breakfast Club broke down last year as Black Cap fans continued to call for their old pub back. The new set-up will have bar areas on the ground and first floors, with function rooms on the second floor and a kitchen in the basement. Earlier this month, managing director Sarah Weir told the Imbiba Partnership Investor Conference that Ruth & Robinson, which launched The Fourteenth Colonie in Clerkenwell last year, is looking at places such as Shoreditch, Brixton, Camden and King’s Cross when it came to potential openings. She said the company was looking at “areas where ‘generation Y’ live and work – they are our customers”.

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

Aloft ‘won’t be back’ after Brighton stadium hotel plans rejected: Proposals for a 150-bed hotel and cancer treatment centre next to Brighton and Hove Albion’s Amex stadium have been turned down. Brighton and Hove City Council officers advised its planning committee to refuse the application over the design and a row over financial contributions. Speaking to the committee on Wednesday (17 February) Martin Perry, chief executive of Albion Sports and Leisure, said: “We already have planning permission on the site for a car park. Which is better, a hotel or a sea of tarmac? If this application is refused – we won’t be back.” Sue Dubberley, planning officer, told Brighton and Hove Independent: “The stadium was carefully designed to nestle into the curves of the surrounding South Downs. The rectangular and linear form of the hotel would distract from the stadium.” There was also an issue over the section 106 agreement. The council requested £108,250 from developers for transport and a local employment scheme, but this figure had been reduced to £45,000. The club hoped the hotel would open in September 2017 and has already entered into a franchise agreement with Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide to open the hotel under its Aloft brand.

BBPA refutes claims Beer Duty campaign is ‘morally flawed’ following multi-site operators’ letter to Chancellor: The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has refuted claims its Beer Duty Campaign is “morally-flawed” following a letter to the Chancellor by the leaders of eight multi-site operators. In the open letter, the companies welcomed any further duty cuts but that brewers impose “increases every January on retailers and then ask the government to reduce duty in March”, adding: “If they really cared about jobs in the sector – and if they really had any influence over it – they would be holding or reducing prices to create that momentum.” Responding, BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “Many of the points made are fundamentally misguided, and we will be responding in detail. But the crucial, independent evidence is clear; ONS data shows that wholesale prices for beer have fallen since Budget 2013 and for consumers, beer price increases in pubs have been at their lowest since the 1980s, at just over 1% last year. Duty cuts are being passed on. It is disappointing to see a very small minority in the sector taking such a negative view of such a widely supported campaign. Our members operate around 17,000 pubs. Among others, the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), one of the largest consumer organisation in the country, also has a long record of supporting the campaign, and has said that consumers have saved around 16p on a pint of beer.” According to a report by the Centre of Economics and Business Research in February last year, commissioned by CAMRA, the average pint of beer, which currently stands at £3.04, would have cost £3.20 if not for these measures. The letter to the Chancellor was signed by Paul Wigham, chief executive of All Our Bars, Tim Bird and Mary McLaughlin, owners of Cheshire Cat Pubs, Nick Griffin, managing director of Pleisure, Tim Westlake, director of Victoria Inns, Peter Borg-Neal, chief executive of Oakman Inns, Kevin Sammons, managing director of The People Pub Company, Dave Day, managing director of Golden Lion Group, and Toby Brett, managing director of Banwell House Pub Company.

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-licenced 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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