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Wed 24th Feb 2016 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Greene King Leisure Spend Tracker – drinkers ignore Dry January as drink spend rises: Dry January and other New Year’s resolutions had less of an effect on leisure spending this year, as drinking out was up 6% compared with January 2015, the latest Greene King Leisure Spend Tracker revealed today (Wednesday, 24 February). In January, the average British household spent £184 on out-of-home leisure, a 1% year-on-year increase. Spending on drinking out in January increased by 6% year-on-year, although spending on eating out fell by 2% during the same period. Figures revealed total leisure spending was spread evenly across the country and between households with or without children. Meanwhile, the Greene King Leisure Spend Tracker revealed more than half of British adults (51%) are unaware of the government’s Budget in March, but those who are have high expectations. This group expects a number of positive measures to be announced, with 37% predicting an increase to the tax-free personal allowance, 32% expecting a rise in the National Minimum Wage, and 21% foreseeing a reduction in corporation tax. About 41% of respondents believe the Budget will have little impact on their current level of leisure spending. Fiona Gunn, Greene King group marketing director, said: “The figures suggest that many British households are optimistic ahead of next month’s Budget as the UK economy continues to show signs of improvement. However, while there is an expectation of lower taxes and higher wages, it remains to be seen whether any budget measures will translate into increased spending.”

Industry News:

Propel to launch Premium service: Propel is four years old on 1 March and is launching a Premium subscription service. The current free service to all existing readers remains the same, but readers can subscribe from now onwards to upgrade to receive the Propel Premium service from 1 March. Propel Premium subscribers will be able to receive the Morning Newsletter, which is sent at 6.30am each weekday, 12 hours earlier at 6.30pm the day before. Subscribers will also receive a copy of the Propel database of 500 multi-site companies, which will be updated every six months, and receive a digital version of the Propel Quarterly magazine a week before publication. For operators, annual subscription costs £345 plus VAT per year, with an extra £50 per additional subscriber at each company. For suppliers, annual subscription costs £445 plus VAT, with an extra £50 per additional subscriber at each company. To subscribe to the Propel Premium service, email

Winners announced for copy of Chris Edger and Tony Hughes’ new book: The 12 winners of a free copy of Professor Chris Edger and Tony Hughes’ new book, Effective Brand Leadership – Be Different. Stay Different. Or Perish, are Brian Keeley Whiting, managing director of Whiting & Hammond; Dan Shotton, managing director of Redcomb Pubs; Garry Mallen, owner of GC Mallen; Alexander Salussolia, managing director of Glendola Leisure Group; Paul Viner, chief executive of Feng Sushi; Jon Hassall, managing director of Hummus Brothers; Charlie McVeigh, founder of The Draft House; Scott Weir, operations director of Wear Inns; Mark Crowther, chief executive of Liberation Group; Adrian Vickery, group estates manager of Azzurri Group; Giles Fry, managing director of Snug Bars; and David Ponté, co-founder of Cabana Restaurants. 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 – 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” – 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.” All Propel readers can get the book at the exclusive discount price of £17.95. The recommended retail price is £22.95. Readers should visit and quote promotional code EBL. The website also offers a full review of the book.
BBPA – 72% back cut or freeze in beer duty to support pubs: A new YouGov poll for the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has revealed 72% support either a cut or freeze in beer duty to support pubs, with just 18% supporting a tax rise to raise extra money for the government. The findings also show one-in-three people surveyed (37%) believe the amount of beer tax paid in Britain is unfair, compared with just one in five (20%) who think it is fair. The remainder did not know or felt it was neither fair nor unfair. Those who believe beer tax is unfair compared to fair rises among older age groups and those living in the Midlands/Wales and north of England – over 40% among these groups believe beer tax in Britain is unfair compared with under 20% who think it is fair. UK beer duty rates are on average three times higher than EU rates, and 13 times higher than in the largest beer market, Germany. Whilst 57% correctly believed UK beer tax is higher than in most countries in Europe, 18% believed it was the same or less, and one-quarter stated they did not know. BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “This new poll shows the public understands how important pubs are to local people, and how a penny off a pint is the simplest and best way to give pubs a boost. George Osborne has been in tune with the public so far, with his three beer tax cuts saving pubgoers millions. He can keep up the good work, with another penny off a pint in the Budget.” The poll was conducted by YouGov using a sample size of 1,736 adults.
Drinking four cups of coffee a day could dramatically cut risk of developing potentially deadly liver damage, new research reveals: Drinking four cups of coffee a day could dramatically cut the risk of developing potentially deadly liver damage, new research has revealed. According to analysis at Southampton University, the hot drink is linked to a lower risk of liver cirrhosis, a scarring of the organ, which claims one million lives per year and is often caused by drinking too much alcohol or obesity. The study showed just one cup of coffee could reduce the risk by 22%, with two cups it dropped by 43%, with three there was a 57% reduction, and 65% for four. Lead study author Dr Oliver Kennedy told the Evening Standard: “Cirrhosis is potentially fatal and there is no cure as such. Therefore, it is significant that the risk of developing cirrhosis may be reduced by consumption of coffee, a cheap, ubiquitous and well-tolerated beverage. Coffee is a complex mixture containing hundreds of chemical compounds, and it is unknown which of these is responsible for protecting the liver.” The research was based on nine separate studies, involving 430,000 people, including 1,990 cirrhosis sufferers.

Diageo and Greene King bosses back Britain to stay in EU: Diageo chief executive Ivan Menezes and Rooney Anand, chief executive of Greene King, are among leaders of more than a third of Britain’s largest companies who are calling for Britain to stay in the EU. In a letter to The Times newspaper, about 200 business leaders, who employ more than one million people, said they believed Britain would be better off staying in a reformed European Union and leaving the EU would “deter investment, threaten jobs and put the economy at risk”. The letter states: “The businesses we lead represent every sector and region of the UK. Together we employ hundreds of thousands of people across the country. Following the prime minister’s renegotiation, we believe that Britain is better off staying in a reformed European Union. He has secured a commitment from the EU to reduce the burden of regulation, deepen the single market and to sign off crucial international trade deals. Business needs unrestricted access to the European market of 500 million people in order to continue to grow, invest and create jobs. We believe that leaving the EU would deter investment, threaten jobs and put the economy at risk. Britain will be stronger, safer and better off remaining a member of the EU.”

Venners mourns death of former joint managing director: Stocktaking and audit experts Venners is mourning the death of former joint managing director Michael Venner, who passed away on Monday (22 February), aged 85. As joint managing director, Venner took control of the client contact side of the business, taking up the appointment in 1961 and remaining in the business long after its acquisition by Christie Group in 1984, finally retiring in 1990. He became a major influence in modern stocktaking when Venners launched its first computer program in 1963. Christie Group chief executive David Rugg said: “Michael was enormous fun to work with and was imbued with a tremendous knowledge of the licensed trade. Above all, he was a people person, happiest out amongst the team doing his utmost for Venners’ clients.” Venner returned to make a keynote speech at the company’s centenary celebration in 1996, and kept abreast of progress through his daughter, Katherine, who still works for the company. He originally worked for Kelsey Brewery in Tunbridge Wells in Kent, followed by National Service with the Royal Marines. Venner further studied in the trade at Ushers Brewery, before joining the family business. Trevor Heyburn, Venners managing director, said the business was deeply saddened by news of the death, adding the operational ethos instilled by Venner was something the company still applied today. Venner leaves a wife, son and daughter.

Company News:

Jamie Oliver teams with Whisky Creek to bring Jamie’s Italian to Johannesburg, expansion planned: Jamie Oliver will team up with Whisky Creek Brands to bring the first Jamie’s Italian restaurant to South Africa. The Italian restaurant will open in Melrose Arch, a retail space in Johannesburg owned by Amdec Group, in the “latter part of 2016”, with other locations in South Africa being considered. Whisky Creek will be the exclusive operating partner for Jamie’s Italian in South Africa, reports BusinessTech. The executive directors of Whisky Creek are Justin Divaris, Stephen Gersowsky and Symeon Yiallouris. 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. Jamie’s Italian was founded in 2008 and has 42 branches worldwide.
Domino’s Pizza converts Nottingham and Liverpool sites to 24-hours-a-day opening, eyes first Jersey site: Domino’s Pizza has converted its sites in West Bridgford, Nottingham, and London Road, Liverpool, to 24-hours-a-day sites. Domino’s said the move, which will come into effect on Monday (29 February), has created ten jobs at each venue. Domino’s Pizza spokesman Ricky Kandola told the Nottingham Post: “We have a considerable number of customers who work shifts – those who work for the emergency services, journalists, milkmen and taxi drivers – and the new service will enable them to order Domino’s when it’s their dinner time.” In late 2012, after its first stores went 24 hours-a-day, Domino’s then chief executive Lance Batchelor told Propel: “The potential is really good – the demand is there. There’s one store, that I won’t name, doing sales after 11pm of £16,000-a-week run-rate – the average store in the UK does £16,000-a-week in sales. The demand might be low at 4am but you don’t need to sell very much given that you’ve already covered all your costs.” Meanwhile, Domino’s plans to open its first site in Jersey on the site of former restaurant The Lounge in St Saviour’s Road. The company wants to transform the ground floor into a restaurant and takeaway.
JD Wetherspoon faces opposition over 98-bedroom hotel plan in Dublin: Plans for a €4m JD Wetherspoon pub and hotel in the Camden Street area of Dublin are facing opposition from local residents, with one objector declaring “enough is enough”. The application, on the site of a former homeless hostel at Camden Hall, is part of a plan by JD Wetherspoon to open 30 pubs in Ireland over the next five years. However, a number of objections have been lodged by local residents about the 2,300 square foot bar and a 98-bed hotel at the site in a scheme that will create 100 jobs if it gets the green light. In one objection, local resident Barry Chambers has told the city council “enough is enough, the area is at tipping point and already fast becoming another Temple Bar — great for revellers and operators but not so good for everyone else”. Chambers urged the planning officer in the case to take a stroll along Camden Street and lanes off the street at closing time at night “to witness the mayhem at first hand”. There are already 14 pubs on the Camden Street-Wexford Street area with 13 cafes and restaurants serving alcohol and “clearly, Camden Street is more than adequately served for the purchase and consumption of alcohol”, Chambers said in his objection.
M&B to open first Miller & Carter steakhouse in East Anglia: Mitchells & Butlers is turning a former Orchid “Great British Carvery” in Ipswich into a Miller & Carter steakhouse, the first venue for the brand in East Anglia. The Shepherd & Dog in Felixstowe Road, Nacton, will reopen on Friday, 11 March after a four-week refurbishment, creating 25 jobs. The closest Miller & Carter site to the new venue is 40 miles away in Chelmsford, Essex. Jack Taylor, general manager at Miller & Carter Ipswich, told the East Anglian Daily Times: “Bringing Miller & Carter to Ipswich is extremely exciting for the brand and the new restaurant will offer the best steaks and hospitality that Miller & Carter is renowned for.” 
Hawksmoor launches special menu to celebrate tenth anniversary: High-end steak brand Hawksmoor has launched a six-course tasting menu to mark the company’s tenth anniversary. Will Beckett and Huw Gott opened their first venue in Spitalfields in 1996. Hawksmoor now has steakhouses in Covent Garden, the City, Mayfair and Knightsbridge, as well as another in Manchester and one planned for New York next year. The menu will be available in the Knightsbridge restaurant from Tuesday (1 March), reports the Evening Standard. The menu showcases many Hawksmoor signature dishes, alongside optional matched drinks. Dishes include short-rib nuggets with kimchi ketchup; scallops with white port and garlic; Tamworth pork belly ribs; sticky toffee pudding with clotted cream; and salted caramel “tributes” – Hawksmoor’s take on Rolos, which had to be renamed after the confectioner threatened legal action. Fiona Beckett, wine journalist and Will Beckett’s mother, has chosen wines to match the menu that are either vintage 2006 or from suppliers who were on the list when Hawksmoor first opened its doors. There are also cocktails on offer, including Hawksmoor’s famous Shaky Pete’s Ginger Brew, a blend of gin, ginger syrup and lemon juice topped with London Pride, and a 16-year-old whisky bottled especially for Hawksmoor by Craggenmore distillery.
Red’s True Barbecue team first outside US to be invited to compete in four-day international competition: A team of pitmasters from Red’s True Barbecue has become the first from outside the US to be invited to take part in a four-day international competition. John Beard, Cristiano Andreoli and Stuart Clifford are joining co-founders James Douglas, Scott Munro and Clint Britz to battle it out against 250 other teams in the World’s Championship Bar-B-Que competition in Houston, Texas, which starts tomorrow (Thursday, 25 February). Munro said: “At Red’s we have a rigorous three-year training programme called the Pitmaster Academy to develop our team’s skills and knowledge. It’s a unique job role here in the UK, so as brand leaders in the industry it’s important we invest heavily and competitions such as this go a long way in playing a crucial role. This prestigious competition brings together the very best pitmasters from across Texas and the rest of the US to go head to head to see who can smoke the best meat and so it’s a real honour to have made the grade and been asked to fly out – let’s see if the Red’s pitmasters can beat them at their own game!” Red’s will be documenting its journey on an interactive travelogue including a blog, map and photo library on its website.
Marco Pierre White to open 13th Steakhouse Bar & Grill next month in Windsor: Celebrity chef and restaurateur Marco Pierre White will open his 13th Steakhouse Bar & Grill restaurant next month in Windsor, Berkshire. The restaurant, run under his Black and White Hospitality franchise business, will be located at the Castle Hotel, which is operated by MGallery by Softiel and is close to Windsor Castle. A statement on Pierre White’s website said: “Marco’s restaurant concept is all about offering good, quality food at affordable prices in a glamorous setting. Marco’s dishes are traditional and uniquely recognisable through his art of cooking British cuisine using French techniques. We look forward to welcoming you in March.” The opening brings Pierre White’s restaurant portfolio to 27, which also consists of the New York Italian, Wheelers and Mr White’s English Chophouse brands.
Merseyside-based operator to open second site in Southport next month: Merseyside-based operator Mikhail Investments, which runs the Eccleston Arms Hotel in St Helens, will open its second site next month, this time in Southport. The company has acquired the Bold Hotel, which will relaunch as the Bold Hotel Bar and Grill on Saturday, 5 March, following a multimillion-pound refit. Owner Andrew Mikhail told The Champion: “The Bold Hotel Bar & Grill, as it’ll now be known, has seen the improvement programme touch every corner of this historic building – with a beautifully styled, modern interior, lavishly furnished, boutique-style hotel bedrooms, a truly impressive function suite and a mouth-watering menu with a Mediterranean twist. I couldn’t wait to start work on this nostalgic purchase – we’re raising the bar in every way possible – we’ve put so much time and effort into really creating something special.”
Meantime brings ‘Brewery Fresh’ tank beer to newly reopened Mitchells & Butlers pub: Greenwich-based craft brewer Meantime has brought its “Brewery Fresh” tank beer to the newly reopened Mitchells & Butlers-owned Marquis Cornwallis in Russell Square, London. The lager is dispensed straight from specially engineered tanks installed in outlets. The beer is delivered by Meantime’s tankers direct from the maturation tanks within the brewery to the tanks in the outlet. The “Brewery Fresh” lager continues to mature in the tanks, allowing the flavours to develop even whilst it’s in the pub. The process also means the beer has no contact with oxygen until it hits the glass, ensuring ultimate freshness. Meantime has pioneered the integration of Brewery Fresh tanks into bars and pubs within the UK since 2014, and expects the number of installations to increase throughout 2016. Meantime chief executive Nick Miller said: “Brewery Fresh tanks ensure Meantime’s beers retain the flavour the brewer originally set out to create – unaltered by the processes that other industrial lagers go through that can diminish these flavours. We’re pushing craft beer further than ever with Brewery Fresh lager, using the latest technology to answer drinkers’ calls for a fresher, even better-tasting beer.”
Dorset-based street food traders to open restaurant in Bridport: Dorset-based street food traders Jollyon Carter and Radhika Mohendas will open a restaurant in Bridport next week. Carter and Mohendas are launching Dorshi on Tuesday (2 March) at Bartholomews Hall in Chancery Lane. The duo has travelled much of the UK, selling their hand-made dumplings, hand-pulled noodles, salads and sauces at street food markets and restaurant residencies. Now the self-taught chefs will be serving up their recreations of East Asian food in the form of a seasonal menu and sharing plates alongside a number of carefully selected fine loose-leaf teas and wines. Carter told the Dorset Echo: “The challenge we set ourselves from early on was to not only recreate dishes that were commonplace across many east Asian countries, but to reimagine and attempt to fully exploit the flavour profiles of local, British ingredients.”
Douglas Jack – we would use recent weakness as buying opportunity at The Restaurant Group: Numis Securities leisure analyst Douglas Jack has issued a ‘Buy’ note on The Restaurant Group shares with a target price of 725p ahead of its full-year results on Wednesday, 9 March, citing “recent weakness as a buying opportunity”. He stated: “We forecast FY15E profit before tax up 11% to £86.6m (consensus: £86.6m), with earnings up 12%, net debt down 20%, like-for-like sales up 1.5% and Ebit margins up 25bp. For FY16E we forecast 7% profit before tax growth, all due to self-financed expansion. The shares now offer an equity free cash flow yield of 8%. Like-for-like sales rose by 1.5% in 2015E, ahead of the restaurant component of the Coffer Peach Business Tracker (0.9%). We forecast like-for-like sales being up 1% in recent trading, with pub restaurants and concessions outperforming. Last year, we believe that the end of Orange Wednesdays at cinemas in March subsequently took 1% off like-for-like sales at Frankie & Benny’s; fortunately, the anniversary of that event is about to be lapped. 44 restaurants opened in 2015E, and we forecast the same number opening in 2016E. With total sales growing by 7.9% versus an estimated 5.5% increase in the average number of units, we estimate that new units generated average sales of £30,000 per week in 2015E, 10% above the estate average, with cash return on invested capital (pre-tax and centrals) rising to 44%. 2015E Ebit margins were up circa 25bps, we believe, implying a circa 40bps Ebit margin increase in half two (when like-for-like sales were up 0.5%). This reflects increased efficiencies and lower food costs. This, and the benefit of price increases in November, should support margins in 2016E. However, our 2016E forecast (profit before tax of £92.5m; consensus £93.5m) cautiously assumes 30bps margin decline, due to the National Living Wage (NLW), even though energy costs should fall and food costs should be flat. In our view, the share price has focused on the cost impact of the NLW, but ignores its benefits, which include: stronger consumer cash flow; restaurant market supply growth stalling (with independent operations contracting – source: CGA) in quarter four 2015; and voucher promotional activity falling by 48% in January 2016 (source: Horizons). We would use recent weakness as a buying opportunity.”
UK Starbucks stores raise nearly £40,000 to provide African families with life-changing cows: Starbucks stores in the UK raised nearly £40,000 last year to provide African families with life-changing dairy cows. The company initiated the Big Cow Project in 2015 with more than 700 outlets taking part after being encouraged by the results of a two-week trial in 2014, where stores in the north west accepted donations for charity Send A Cow on the back of a campaign started by Bolton barista Aaron Swift. He was inspired to set up the campaign following a Starbucks sponsored trip to visit coffee farmers in Rwanda where he met local communities and saw first-hand how cows could transform lives. Starbucks UK raised enough money to fund the equivalent of 11 cows in the first year but this year’s fund-raising drive made almost £40,000, which will be matched by the UK government to support Send A Cow’s projects in both Rwanda and Ethiopia. Starbucks UK vice-president of operations Rhys Iley said: “The Starbucks Big Cow Project was led by one young partner with the passion to make a difference. Partners across the country have been so inspired to raise funds for farmers in Rwanda and the teams have really enjoyed getting behind this worthwhile cause.”
New boutique hotel and restaurant to open in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter in March: Husband-and-wife hoteliers Adrian and Sharon Harvey will open a boutique hotel in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter in March. Saint Paul’s House will be a 31-bedroom hotel above The Rope Walk pub in St Paul’s Square and will also have a bar, restaurant and outdoor terrace. The Harveys, who bought properties on either side of The Rope Walk pub to create the hotel, also own the Royal Hotel in High Street, Sutton Coldfield, and renovated the Village Inn in Moseley in 2013, which had been vacant for two-and-a-half years. Sharon Harvey told the Birmingham Mail: “We’re very excited to be opening in such a fantastic area in Birmingham as the city’s newest boutique hotel.”
Somerset-based Italian restaurant concept Castello to open second site on Monday: Somerset-based Italian restaurant concept Castello will open its second site in the county on Monday (29 February). Jay Marchetti and Gen Fethai, who launched the concept in Frome two years ago, will open the new venue in Radstock on the site of the former NatWest bank. Fethai told the Somerset Guardian: “We are really excited to be finally able to open and are now taking bookings for Radstock through our Frome restaurant.”
East Lancashire nightclub operator Level One to open live music venue in Darwen: East Lancashire nightclub operator Level One is to restore a live music venue in Darwen to its former glory. The company, which has nightclubs in Darwen and Accrington, is taking over the former site of Marigolds Bar in The Green and will be called Level One Live. The venue, which is due to open on 20 May, will be completely separate to Level One nightclub in Market Street, which will remain as it is, and will aim to cater for an older audience with live music and food. It will be completely refurbished and the biggest changes will be made to the stage area with large screens and better lighting to make it more visually aesthetic. Level One owner Leon Kelly told the Lancashire Telegraph: “It’s a venue that desperately needs refurbishing and I know there’s a lot of people out there that miss what it used to be. We want to start reaching out to older people within the brand of Level One and it would be great for people to discover new bands that they haven’t seen before and for us to get known for that.”
Aparthotel plan for Harrogate showground set to get go-ahead: Plans for a major aparthotel within the grounds of the Great Yorkshire Showground in Harrogate have been recommended for approval. Rapidly expanding brand Roomzzz, in conjunction with landowner the Yorkshire Agricultural Society, is seeking permission to erect a 98-room hotel on a 1.3-acre site, which currently serves as a car park. An L-shaped building, incorporating 55,000 square foot of space, is envisaged with the rooms arranged over four floors. The applicant expects the hotel will be used by customers attending the showground for various events. Unlike conventional hotels, there is no restaurant or bar area and other ancillary facilities are limited. Rooms will be used as a living and sleeping area with a small kitchenette also included. Guests will have the use of a small breakfast area and lounge on the ground floor. The proposal, which will create 20 full-time jobs, has been recommended for conditional approval ahead of a Harrogate Borough Council planning meeting on Tuesday (1 March). 
New Asian fusion restaurant concept set to open in Birkenhead: A new Asian fusion restaurant concept is set to open in Birkenhead, Merseyside. A planning application has been lodged with Wirral Council to convert the former T&G Cairns butcher shop in Claughton Firs in the suburb of Oxton into a 20-seat venue, reports the Liverpool Echo. In a planning statement, architects Bryson McHugh said the development would “re-instate a Victorian style frontage” to the shop and add “diversity and choice” in the area. It said: “Restaurants are already established within the zone. All these outlets are well attended and offer a variety of culinary styles. The proposed development will produce Asian cuisine, which is currently not represented within the zone.” The restaurant would be open from 5pm to 10.30pm from Monday to Saturday and employ six staff.
Bob & Berts gets go-ahead to open tenth site, in Omagh: Northern Ireland coffee company Bob & Berts has been given the go-ahead to open its tenth site, this time in Omagh. The company has been granted permission by Fermanagh and Omagh District Council to open the outlet in the High Street, creating up to 30 jobs. Managing director Colin McClean told the Ulster Herald: “We are very excited to be opening in Omagh. If all goes well we should have the outfitters into the store within three to four weeks. We hope to have Bob & Berts open in Omagh by April.”
Bath Ales expands Beerd: Bath Ales has opened a new craft beer bar under its Beerd brand with the conversion of its Gordito site in Colston Hall, Bristol. The company organised a temporary takeover of Gordito for the BBC6 Music Festival and after a strong weekend for sales and positive feedback from customers, it has decided to open the doors permanently as Beerd. Bath Ales opened its first Beerd bar in St Michael’s Hill in Bristol and also opened in Oxford towards the end of 2015. The bar features local and international brews from unique and independent producers and the brewer’s own Beerd range. Duncan Zvonek-Little, operations director at Bath Ales, said: “Beerd was really well received during the trial run, timed with the BBC6 Music Festival – there were customers queuing out the door for most of the weekend. We ran a special festival menu and gave visitors the chance to experience the diverse beer offering Beerd is renowned for. We’ve been thrilled with the reception and support Beerd has received. Bristol is a hot spot for the craft beer market and Colston Hall is the ideal location for this style of outlet to flourish.”

Dublin city centre hotel on market for €80m: One of Dublin’s most historic hotels, the Gresham, is on offer for sale by private treaty with a guide price in excess of €80m. Christie & Co and CBRE Hotels are offering the city centre hotel in O’Connell Street unencumbered, with the 223,620 square foot property, which opened in 1817, sitting on a 1.32-acre site. It has 323 guest rooms, food and drink outlets, and 22 meeting, conference and banqueting suites, and has planning permission to significantly increase the overall floor area. Dave Murray, Christie & Co director, said: “The hotel is renowned for hosting some of the great figures of the 20th century. The purchaser of the Gresham will have the opportunity to carry on the strong tradition of this renowned hotel during a period of growth and regeneration.” Paul Collins, executive director of CBRE Hotels, said: “The Gresham will benefit considerably from the major changes planned for the area around the hotel.”
Microbiologist set to launch craft beer brewery in Dundee: A microbiologist has submitted plans to launch a craft beer brewery in Dundee. Daniel Cullen plans to turn a derelict industrial building in Mid Wynd into a “nano-brewery”. Cullen, a former employee at the James Hutton Institute international research centre, wants to start producing craft beer as Law Brewing Company. Cullen plans to start by producing bottled beer and added he chose the site because of its links with Dundee’s brewing past. He said: “I’ve been looking at a number of sites throughout the city that could accommodate the equipment needed to start up a brewery. The site in Mid Wynd has a historical link to brewing as it used to be the site of the old Hawkhill Brewers, which closed in the 1980s. There now seems to be a bit of a revitalisation of breweries opening up. I think it’s a good time to get into brewing in Dundee, as the market for craft beer made in the city isn’t too saturated yet. This idea is something I have been thinking long and hard about, and I think it’s now the right time.”

Enterprise Inns unveils partnership with beer sommelier: Beer sommelier Annabel Smith is to provide expert advice to Enterprise Inns’ publicans as part of the company’s ongoing commitment to providing support and training across all key elements of running a pub. As part of her work with the industry-wide campaign There’s a Beer for That, Smith will provide Enterprise publicans with regular advice on how to maximise beer sales including food matching suggestions in a new monthly feature in deals and ideas, the company’s magazine distributed to all publicans every month. She said: “I’m delighted to be working with Enterprise Inns on this exciting partnership. The company has around 5,000 pubs across its estate and to be able to reach them and help inspire them to think differently about the opportunities that beer can present is such a wonderful opportunity. This is one of the most exciting, diverse and sociable industries to be in. So many people are falling in love with beer all over again, or discovering it for the first time, so we want to make sure Enterprise publicans know more, or at least as much as the customers they’re serving.” As well as contributing a monthly page in deals and ideas focusing on all aspects of working with beer, Smith will invite Enterprise publicans to email her with any questions relating to beer and she’ll pick the most interesting one to answer in the magazine each month.
Prezzo opens new restaurant in Poulton: Prezzo has opened a new restaurant in Poulton, Lancashire. The company has invested £650,000 on the site in the Teanlowe Centre, which has created 15 jobs. It occupies the unit formerly home to the Cosy Corner Cafe beside the shopping centre’s entrance. The restaurant, which seats 104 indoors and a further 34 outside, is centred around a wood burning pizza oven. Prezzo said on its Twitter account: “Prezzo Poulton is now open. Our team are ready to welcome you for any occasion.” The brand has grown to more than 200 restaurants since first opening in London’s New Oxford Street in 2000.
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

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