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Mon 21st Mar 2016 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

TLC Inns plans to double size of Grand Central brand, eyes growth to 60 sites, in advanced talks over new facility: TLC Inns, the Essex-based operator of the four-strong Grand Central brand and four premium pubs, led by husband-and-wife team Steve and Jo Haslam, is planning to double the size of Grand Central in the short-term and believes the estate could grow to as many as 60 sites – it is in advanced talks over a new substantial revolving credit facility with its bank, Barclays Corporate. The company is gearing up for expansion by appointing four new key head office members of staff. Brian McKay, formerly of McMullen, McManus Pub Company and wholesaler Matthew Clark, has joined as operations director. Meanwhile, Danny Lawrence, formerly of Big Easy, has joined as food director. Adam Burford has been promoted internally to become director of training and new openings whilst Ed Bonnet has also been promoted to a financial planning role. The company is set to hit £1.4m of Ebitda in its current financial year with all mature sites producing Ebitda above budget – and is forecasting £2m of Ebitda in the next. Grand Central operates in Basildon, Ely, Colchester and Ipswich – work on a fifth opening is about to start, a 6,500 square foot site in the centre of Chelmsford, and the company is eyeing further sites in Essex, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire. Steve Haslam told Propel: “We’re gearing ourselves up for a big expansion. We’ve expanded to a total of eight sites with, essentially, just myself and Jo overseeing the head office function. We believe Grand Central is now ready to grow rapidly and there is an opportunity to create 50 to 60 premium-casual Grand Central stores within a relatively short period. We need to be fit and ready for the next stage by bringing a number of key personnel on board. Jo has played the pivotal role in making our journey to date the success it is. Her tireless work ethic within the service-side of our business has undoubtedly been instrumental. The contribution she has made to making TLC the respected multi-award winning company it is today has been immense. With the new team, she will continue to grow the systems and guide the direction of all things service-related. She will be working closely with her head office team to improve all systems and procedures to make sure our head office and sites work seamlessly together. I will continue to oversee the strategy of our company. I will now focus solely on acquisitions and the design and opening of new sites. I will, in the short term, remain in control of the strategic financials of the company but this is a role that will see further appointments. I will play a less active role on a day-to-day basis to focus on the bigger picture and leading us to our goal. We will not rule out further funding or outside investment but this will be a topic of discussion with advisers at every step of our journey. It has been a monumental journey for us as individuals and for us as a company and we look forward to our newly structured future and growth.” The company is still looking to add pub sites – Haslam reported its current pubs are “still contributing great returns”.
 

Industry News:

Roberto Morretti – ‘there’s an opportunity to Bill’s evolve into different formats, but we need to maximise our potential’: Roberto Morretti, managing director of Bill’s Restaurants, which has grown from seven to 72 sites in three years, has revealed the company is to trial new formats as part of a focus on maximising the brand’s potential. He told the Propel Multi Club Conference: “We’ve gone through a massive pain barrier. It’s been a fantastic challenge. Now it’s about digging deep into the roots of the business and maximising our potential. Ultimately, new and innovative brands make the high street better – there’s new value for the consumer and that’s what really drives brands like us to improve. We’re not going to sit on our laurels. We will move forward. Our new menu in the summer will lead again – we will do things that people will follow. Some of the new brands have modelled their businesses around things that Bill’s has done – and that’s a fantastic compliment to us. But we believe that if we stay true to our food quality, our team ethics, our friendly service, the unique environment, we will continue to succeed. I think Bill’s has the opportunity to alter the concept with different formats. We will (trial) smaller footprints and smaller models. Bill’s can (replicate the success of branded coffee shops) with a British (offer), (with) great heritage and really amazing environment – and some exciting innovation. We can definitely see a daytime Bill’s – maybe even going back to the original way of doing things in Bill’s. We are spending this year making Bill’s the best it can be but we will continue to grow. I don’t think it will be (as many as) 25 new sites a year. We will take great sites when they come around – and maximise the potential of Bill’s this year. We are getting approached all the time (by landlords) about airport sites and international (opportunities). Could you see Bill’s in Gatwick or Heathrow? It would be fantastic, trading all-day, everyday. But we are conscious of saying: ‘No, we don’t need to do it yet.’ We’ve traded really well in market towns such as Reigate, Marlow and Berkhamsted – and we can more of those, trading at a lower sales volumes (than an airport) but with a better rent deal. But we’ll take cracking (high profile) sites when they come around, such as the Bullring in Birmingham. We are trading like crazy there.”
 
Propel Premium subscribers to receive full Roberto Morretti interview on Thursday: Subscribers to Propel’s Premium service will receive a 30-minute recording of Roberto Morretti’s interview this Thursday. Morretti also describes the Bill’s approach to suppliers, the involvement of founder Bill Collison, the retail opportunity for Bill’s, its flexible approach to paying staff above market rates, developing talent through Bill’s Academy, and the current company view of franchising. Operators, drinks companies, law firms, accountants, distributors, and marketing firms have been among the first companies that have signed up to receive the Propel Premium subscription service, which launched at the start of March. The current free service to all existing readers remains the same, but readers can opt to upgrade to receive the Propel Premium service. Propel Premium subscribers receive the Morning Newsletter, which is sent at 6.30am each day, 12 hours earlier at 6.30pm the day before. Subscribers 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 Propel Quarterly magazine a week before publication. For operators, annual subscription costs £345 plus VAT, 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 adam.dickinson@propelinfo.com 
 
Host of companies sign up for Advanced Social Media Masterclass: A host of sector companies have signed up for the Advanced Social Media Masterclass being held next month. They include Thai Leisure Group, Enterprise Inns, Be At One, FrogPubs, The Deltic Group, The Bill Chill, Camino, MyLahore, ETM Group, Coaching Inn Group, Maxwell’s, Ignite Group, JW Lees, Pebble Hotels, Everards, Novus, Snug Bars, Anglian Country Inns, McMullen, Gaucho, Wright Brothers, Star Pubs & Bars, Burning Night Group and Signature Pub Group. 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. To book email adam.dickinson@propelinfo.com
 
BBPA – business rates changes will save pubs more than £39m a year: Changes to the way the government levies business rates announced in the Budget will save England’s pubs more than £39m per year. The measures, which will come into force in April 2017, will see 81% of pubs benefiting from either the small business multiplier, or Small Business Rate Relief, or both, according to an analysis by the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA). The new threshold for small business rates will see 630,000 small businesses paying no business rates at all from next year, in a reduction Chancellor George Osborne claims will save £7bn per year for businesses. The business rates relief will be more than doubled – the thresholds will now be a maximum of £15,000 for full relief and £51,000 to be assessed as a small business. The average rateable value of a pub is just under £35,000. Overall, four out of five English pubs will be better off by an average of £1,100 a year. More than 16,500 pubs will pay no business rates at all – about 40% of the total. There are currently only about 3,700 premises paying no rates. BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “These changes are a real boost, especially for much-loved community locals. They reflect much of what BBPA called for in its response to the recent government review, and show that the government is listening to concerns when it comes to both the big burden of the current rates regime, and also the vital role that pubs play in local communities.”
 
Domino’s trials robot delivery unit in Australia: Domino’s Australian arm is trialing Domino Robotic Unit (DRU), a robot vehicle the company claims can follow a map, navigate pavements, avoid obstacles and keep pizzas hot while delivering it to front doors. Domino’s Group chief executive and managing director Don Meij said: “DRU is cheeky and endearing and we are confident that one day he will become an integral part of the Domino’s family. He’s a road to the future and one that we are very excited about exploring further.” Domino’s said it had been secretly testing the four-wheeled DRU on the streets of Queensland, where it acquired the necessary permissions. DRU was built for Domino’s by Australian defence robot company Marathon Robotics. Domino’s has yet to say where it might roll-out the DRU service to but Marathon Robotics reported it had unveiled the autonomous pizza truck in New Zealand, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Japan, and Germany.
 
Starbucks offers customers who bring their own cups a 50p discount: Starbucks is to offer customers who bring their own coffee cups a 50p discount after a campaign was launched to reduce the 2.5 billion disposable cups dumped in landfill or incinerated each year in Britain. High street coffee chains have been accused of making false claims about how many paper cups they recycle. Starbucks, Costa, and Pret A Manger, among others, leave customers with a misleading impression about how environmentally friendly they are, campaigners say, after it emerged that fewer than one in 400 high street coffee chain paper cups are recycled. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, a chef and anti-waste campaigner, said Starbucks’s decision to give a 50p discount to those who don’t require a paper cup – initially in a two-month trial starting in April – was a “seismic leap”. Details of the commitment emerged in an interview between the campaigner and company executives for a forthcoming episode of BBC documentary series Hugh’s War on Waste. About seven million paper coffee cups are used in Britain each day, amounting to 2.5 billion a year. The company’s UK vice-president for licensed operations Rhys Iley said: “Starbucks is committed to increasing recycling rates and reusable cups are a key part of our overall waste reduction strategy. In response to Hugh’s campaign, from 1 April for two months we’ll be trialling an increase in the discount of our reusable cup incentive to 50p for every drink purchased.” The only drink not eligible will be the shop’s filter coffee, which costs £1.
 
New booking system will fine no-show diners: A new restaurant booking service in Australia is going to “fine” diners who fail to honour a booking. Diners will have to pay in advance or face “fines” if they don’t keep a reservation under the new service, provided by online booking service Dimmi, designed to help restaurants avoid no-shows they say are “crippling” the industry. The new system, launching this week, will require diners to pay upfront, put down a deposit, or provide credit card details and face a fine for a no-show, the Courier Mail reported. Dimmi chief executive officer Stevan Premutico said it made no sense there was no obligation to honour a booking – and it was costing restaurants. Not only was the industry facing challenges from intense competition and high rents, customer no-shows were costing venues hundreds and sometimes thousands a night. “[No-shows] can end up with restaurants closing at the end of the night having not made a dollar,” Premutico said. Tanja Malone, owner of Brisbane restaurant Bucci, has joined the new system but will only implement it for tables of ten or more.
 
Lionel Messi to open his own restaurant in Barcelona: Barcelona footballer Lionel Messi has unveiled plans for his own restaurant right in the middle of the city. Situated in the Calle Enric Granados district, the restaurant will open in the summer. Designed to resemble a local town, the restaurant will feature a cinema, a barber’s shop, a church and even its very own town square. Messi will run the restaurant alongside his brother, Rodrigo, and his friends the Iglesias brothers – Juan Carlos, Borja and Pedro.
 

Company News:

EAT turnover near £100m after £13m refurbishment programme: EAT, owned by Lyceum Capital, has reported its turnover rose 5.8% to £99,418,578 in the year to 25 June 2015, with like-for-likes up by 2.4%. Ebitda increased by 44% to £5.8m whilst the operating loss was £5,262,640, compared with £,4,726,413 the year before. A report filed at Companies House stated: “EAT enjoyed an outstanding 2015 fiscal year. These positive results reflect the strength of the group’s core food offering, which continues to resonate well with customers, together with several new product introductions and the roll-out of a £13m refurbishment programme across the entire estate. Five new units opened in the second half of the year, added further momentum, positioning the business well for future growth.” The company said it had a “robust” pipeline of new openings. Capital expenditure was £9.5m in 2015, following from capital expenditure of £11.7m the year before. The loss in 2015 was £3.03m, compared with £11.4m the year before when there was £9.6m of exceptional items that included £4.4m for VAT liabilities. 
 
M&B to turn Orchid pub in Hull into Harvester, first in Humberside: Mitchells & Butlers is turning one of its Orchid “All-Inns” venues in Hull into a Harvester, its first in Humberside. Refurbishment on the Oystercatcher in Gibraltar Way, Kingswood, will begin on Monday, 4 April. The new venue will seat more than 160 diners and create 15 jobs. Although Harvester has more than 230 sites around the UK, the Oystercatcher will be its first in the region, with the closest venues in Pontefract and York.
 
Urban Pubs and Bars opens tenth site: Urban Pubs and Bars, led by Nick Pring and Malcolm Heap, who sold Realpubs to Greene King for £53m in 2011, has opened its tenth site. The company has relaunched the Gatehouse in Highgate, north London, having bought the site from JD Wetherspoon earlier this year. Pring told Propel the site was very similar to how it was but had been “stripped back a bit” to expose some of the wooden floorboards and some of the metalwork. One big change though is the food offer, which is an English menu with a “strong Spanish influence” put together by chef Chris Payne. The site features a dining area at the back for 60 people with another 120 covers throughout the pub itself. There is also a large beer garden with another 70 covers. Last week, the company relaunched The White Lion in Stroud Green, north London, which the company also acquired from JD Wetherspoon. Pring said the site, which had a “more gastro-pub” food offer, had “started off well”. The company has “properly stripped back” the venue, which also has a dining area at the back, to expose steel girders and metal fixings. Pring added its 12,000 square foot pop-up ping pong bar and cafe The Bat and Ball at Westfield, Stratford City, which opened in mid-December, was “doing some good numbers”. He said: “It takes a while to get a venue of that size going. Whether we do anything like it in the future we’ll have to wait and see.” In terms of future expansion, Pring said: “We are always on the hunt. If something good comes our way we find it very difficult to say no.”
 
Whole Foods Market reports first UK profit: Whole Foods Market UK has reported a profit for the first time since launching in this country nine years ago. Companies House accounts for Whole Foods Market’s nine UK stores showed a pre-tax loss of £7.5m in 2014 was turned into a pre-tax profit of £1.3m for the year to 27 September 2015. Sales for the same period grew by 12.5% from £101m to £114m. The directors said the latest results were “evidence of our continued focus on strong store execution and customer satisfaction”. Whole Foods was founded in Austin, Texas, in 1980 and now has more than 430 stores in the US, Canada and the UK. It bought the Fresh & Wild chain in 2004 and launched its first British Whole Foods Market in Kensington in 2007. It lost £10m in its first year.

Everards hires construction consultancy firm for new £30m headquarters development: Leicestershire-based brewer and retailer Everards, led by Stephen Gould, has hired construction consultancy company Edmond Shipway for the development of its new £30m headquarters. Known as Everards Meadows, the scheme will sit on land between Soar Valley Way and the county police headquarters in Enderby. It will comprise offices and a new brewery, which will be open to visitors, as well as a cafe and restaurant. Edmond Shipway will act as cost consultant, employers’ agent, construction (design and management) regulations coordinator, and mechanical and electrical consultant throughout its development. Edmond Shipway director Daman Ranby told Insider Media: “Everards Meadows will not only act as an exceptional headquarters, it will also provide a real boost to the local economy through its visitor centre and restaurant while acting as the catalyst for further regeneration across the region.” Subject to planning approval, Everards’ new headquarters could be open by 2017.
 
Allied London boss reveals plan to replace The Oast House in Spinningfields: Property developer Allied London has indicated it wants to replace The Oast House in Manchester’s Spinningfields. Chief executive Mike Ingall told an audience in Cannes attending a property conference he wanted to “radically change” the public realm of Spinningfields, including plans to replace The Oast House with a Levitt Bernstein-designed building named “The Skirt”. “Oast House was only ever temporary, only ever a pop-up,” Ingall told the gathering. “This is a potential leisure building built for restaurants, bars and, potentially, a cinema, while opening up and keeping the courtyard. It’s a work in progress but shows you how we think.”
 
Cambscuisine wins top employer award: Pub and restaurant operator Cambscuisine, led by Oliver Thain and Max Freeman, has won the title of Cambridge “Employer of the Year” thanks to a culture of genuinely placing “people at the heart of the business”. Cambscuisine has 130 people working across six sites – St John’s Chop House, Smokeworks, The Cock Hemingford Grey, The Tickell Arms, The Cambridge Chop House, and The Crown & Punchbowl and prides itself with having high staff retention. With a number of innovative people development approaches – instead of having a head office and a traditional board, the directors stay connected by working from their restaurants “surrounded by their team”. The board is replaced with a team of “challengers” selected from across the business to provide feedback and ideas that has helped to nurture a strong family culture. The aim is to help staff realise their full potential and many of the company’s general managers have started in roles such as dish washing and waiting, progressing through the business supported by a personalised development plan.
 
Laine Pub Company scoops multiple late-night awards: Laine Pub Company, The Brighton and London pub operator led by Gavin George and backed by Luke Johnson’s Risk Capital Partners, has come out on top in the 2016 DesignMyNight awards, as voted for by the users of the nightlife discovery site. Over 20,000 votes were cast in the purely public vote, resulting in Laine winning best pub in London with the Aeronaut and best pub in Brighton with the Tempest. There were location specific wins too in the capital for the Four Thieves in Battersea, the People’s Park garden in Hackney and the Aeronaut in Acton. And in Brighton the company’s sites came top in both the best bar category with the Mesmerist, and the best casual dining category with its artisan pizza offering at Dead Wax Social. Laine’s digital marketing manager James Kendall said: “Given the number of London pubs on DesignMyNight and this year’s record number of voters, it is a very special achievement for the Aeronaut to be recognised as the top pub in the entire capital. We are thrilled for the Aeronaut team and indeed for all the other pub teams who provide such great nights out and inspire the kind of loyalty in their customers that leads to the winning of awards.”
 
Punch to absorb wine duty increase: Punch is to absorb the increase in duty on wine included during this year’s Budget, meaning the prices paid by its publicans will remain the same for the rest of 2016. While duty was frozen on beer, still cider, low-strength sparkling cider and spirits, duty rates on wine, made-wine at or below 22% ABV, together with high strength sparkling cider above 5.5% ABV, will rise by inflation from today (Monday, 21 March). In response, Punch has said there would be no wholesale price increase on wine this year ensuring prices were guaranteed for at least the next 12 months, while the prices of ready to drink products would also be held (excluding any further duty changes). Punch commercial director John Healy said: “While we were very pleased to see duty on beer and cider frozen in this year’s Budget, we appreciate that the rise in duty rates for wine may be a cause for concern for many. With this in mind, we’ve taken the decision to absorb these costs ourselves, ensuring our publicans are not affected in any way.”
 
Classic Inns launches over-65s club featuring 25% dining discount: Stonegate Pub Company has launched an over-65s club at its Classic Inns venues, which will include 25% off food all day. The club, which will take place on Tuesdays, will feature events such as bingo, board games, crafts, book-swapping, music nights and wine-tasting, as well as an opportunity to meet new people. Classic Inns senior marketing manager Sam Maynard said: “We want to reward our older customers, but it’s not just about offering them a discount. We want to create a space where they can come in, meet over a glass of wine and enjoy a bit of fun and games, or simply make some new friends.” Stonegate Pub Company operates 94 Classic Inns across the UK.
 
BrewDog launches BottleBox beer club: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has launched its BottleBox beer club. People who subscribe to the service can choose to have eight, 12 or 18 BrewDog or guest beers delivered to their home each month. BrewDog stated on its blog: “BottleBox is unlike any other craft beer subscription service – our own beers come right off the packaging lines at our Ellon brewhouse and we can use our connections to go to the very best craft breweries around the world for our Equity Punk-only mixed cases of BrewDog and guest beers! If you never want to miss a BrewDog beer launch again, or have a hankering to discover more about the joys of British and global craft beer, all delivered to your door – then our new curated subscription beer service BottleBox is for you.”
 
Northcote Leisure Group to open cafe-restaurant in Blackburn’s £34m Cathedral Quarter: Northcote Leisure Group, run by celebrity Michelin-starred chef Nigel Haworth and wine expert Craig Bancroft, is to open a new cafe-restaurant in the £34m Cathedral Quarter in Blackburn. The company is launching Cafe Northcote at the Cathedral Quarter in the newly named Walsingham Hall in mid-May, creating 15 jobs and two apprenticeships with a work placement and training partnership with Blackburn College. The licensed bistro-style eaterie for 78 diners will initially open from early morning to late afternoon. It will operate as a restaurant in the evenings during December, over Christmas and New Year, and at other special times. Haworth told the Lancashire Telegraph: “Whenever I visit Blackburn nowadays, I sense a vibrancy in the town, which I think Northcote can add to.” Haworth and Bancroft also run the Northcote Hotel, a 26-bedroom luxury hotel and Michelin star-winning restaurant in Langho, near Blackburn.
 
Trust Inns sells Northampton pub: Trust Inns, the north west-based tenanted pub company, has sold The Broadmead pub in Northampton. The company, which operates nearly 500 pubs across the country, has sold the Broadmead Avenue site to Bedfordshire-based company Oak & Lime. The new owner said it would listen to the community before deciding what to do with the site, which has now been closed and boarded up. Technical director Steven Bratby told the Northampton Chronicle: “It was just an opportunity that came up. It was offered to the company so we took a look at it. I’m waiting for the reports on the pub’s viability before we decide what will happen. We’d like to know what the community thinks as well. But at the moment all options are open.”
 
Byron opens third site in Scotland as expansion continues: Better burger brand Byron, led by Tom Byng, has opened its third site in Scotland as part of expansion plans to open 15 sites a year. The new restaurant in West George Street, Glasgow, is on the site of a former bank and has created 35 full and part-time jobs. For every Special Hamburger sold, Byron will give 25p directly to the One Feeds Two charity, which aims to provide nutritious school meals for children living in poverty. Byng told the Daily Record: “The city’s food and drink scene is one of the most vibrant and exciting in the country. We hope our love of hamburgers, craft beer and great design means we’ll feel very much at home here.” Byron operates 58 restaurants across the UK, with 37 of these in London. Its other sites in Scotland are in Edinburgh and Aberdeen, with a second site in Edinburgh to open soon. Byng has said it is not a question of “if” but “when” Byron expands overseas.
 
Essex restaurateurs launch second site – fine dining venue in £3m Chelmsford development: The team behind Le Buchan restaurant and bar in Malden, Essex, will open a new fine dining venue near Chelmsford. The Wheatsheaf in Rettendon, derelict for a decade, will be transformed into Le Beanie Bar & Brasserie as part of a £3m plan that includes an equestrian centre and village store. The venue, parts of which date to the 17th century, will also feature a cocktail bar and orangery and seat 250, including 100 seats outside. Le Beanie will feature English and French-inspired cuisine and combine live music with cocktails and canapes. It will open in late April or early May. The development is the brainchild of millionaire businessman David Bishop. He told the Essex Chronicle: “I was so excited when I spoke to the guys at Le Buchan and so overwhelmed by the quality of the restaurant, I did a deal with them. What I love about Le Buchan is that they work together as a family in a traditional way that I love, and they are utterly enthusiastic and passionate about making the best food.”
 
Multi-site operator opens Dickens-inspired bar in Cleethorpes: Lincolnshire multi-site operator Liz Parry has opened a Charles Dickens-inspired bar Tale Of Two on Cleethorpes seafront. Parry, who owns Abbys Bistro and recently opened The Curious Cat cocktail bar and grill, both in Bethlehem Street, Grimsby, created the Tale Of Two by combining the Riverside Bar and neighbouring Holmhirst Hotel. The new 220-capacity ground-floor bar offers enlarged booths and high tables, while the upstairs restaurant seats 60. The second floor houses a function room with separate entrance. Parry told the Grimsby Telegraph: “It is all about the two buildings coming together. In the planning of the layout it was important for us not to think we were in one part or the other. I think we have opened it up in a way where you don’t have that sense.”
 
California-style pizza restaurant concept opens in former Clapham Common public toilet: A California-style pizza restaurant has opened in a former public toilet next to Clapham Common in London. Joe Public has been launched by Jayke Mangion and Andy Bell, the same team behind neighbouring subterranean bar WC, which is also set in a former loo. The restaurant offers 20-inch pizzas, whole or by the slice, made California-style with thin bases and lots of toppings, reports the Evening Standard. These include a fig, gorgonzola, prosciutto and pine nut option and one topped with roasted lamb, purple potato, feta and black olives. It features 14 diner-style stools and serves grab-and-go slices and whole pizzas from a hatch opening on to the common. The venue also offers craft beer and wine on tap, as well as live music. It is open until midnight daily, with an early 6.30am start on weekdays offering bacon, sausage and egg butties along with Caravan coffee.
 
Profits soar at motorway service station operator: Profits have soared at the award-winning motorway services operator Westmorland after a year of expansion. The family-owned business, which includes the Tebay services on the M6 in the Lake District, saw its new M5 southbound services in Gloucester opened by Prince Charles last year and it also acquired Cairn Lodge services on the M74 in Scotland. Turnover rose from £42m to £63m in the year to 28 June 2015 and pre-tax profits grew from £833,000 to £3.6m. The group, run by Sarah Dunning, daughter of founders John and Barbara Dunning, is known for selling home-cooked, locally-sourced produce in beautiful settings. Tebay services benefited from a growth in motorway traffic and expansion of its car parks, while Gloucester services won a series of national awards for its food and design.
 
Liverpool multi-siters start expanding Japanese concept: A group of Liverpool multi-site operators have started expanding its Japanese restaurant and bar concept Miyagi in the city. The concept, which launched in Bold Street last May, has opened its second venue in Allerton Road on the former Pod site. Miyagi describes itself as “Japanese soul food that meets ghetto Asian with Asian comfort food served to a Motown soundtrack”. It serves Japanese-style food with buns, skewers, fried chicken, small plates and ramen. Operations director Dave Roach told the Liverpool Echo: “We love the area and we want to put something on the site that people will love too. Miyagi seemed like the perfect fit for the space. There are a lot of similarities in the site itself.” The multi-siters also operate the Mexican restaurant Lucha Libre in Wood Street, Liverpool, as well as three other venues, Berry and Rye, Jenny’s Bar and Aloha.
 
Essex-based Turkish restaurant and gastro bar concept opens second site in Brentwood: Essex-based Turkish restaurant and gastro bar concept The Vine has opened a second site, this time in Brentwood. The company, owned by George Artemi and his sister Marianna, has launched in the High Street on the site of Suite 104, which closed suddenly in January. The Brentwood venue, which has created about 20 jobs, will serve breakfast, brunch and lunch seven days a week and will be a late-night bar on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Artemi told the Brentwood Gazette: “We had been actively looking for another place so we came to check out this space at various times to see what Brentwood is all about. We’ve totally ripped everything out inside.” The Vine’s other site is in Leigh-on-Sea, which opened in 2012. 

Former Bingham head chef launches British restaurant Anglo in Farringdon: Mark Jarvis, former head chef at the Bingham in Richmond as well as Blueprint Cafe, Zuma, Texture and Le Manoir, has opened British restaurant concept Anglo in Farringdon. Jarvis is joined in the kitchen by Jack Cashmore, former chef de partie at Sat Bains, with the menu “showcasing quality, artisan ingredients from the finest producers in the UK”. Dishes on the a la carte lunch menu include Jerusalem artichoke soup with raw Orkney scallop and winter truffle, wood pigeon with chestnut cream, chicory and coffee, and old spot pork cooked in whey, kohlrabi and fermented apple. The restaurant serves a set tasting menu of six or more courses in the evening and seats 40, taking over the site left by Fabrizio in Cross Street. A pairing menu can be requested, with wine sourced by BerryBros and English beers. The restaurant will be closed on Mondays and Sundays.
 
Firebrand Brewing Co extends £125,000 crowdfunding offer: Cornwall-based Firebrand Brewing Co has extended its £125,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube for a further 14 days for new equipment as it scales up to its next level of production. The company, founded by Joe Thomson and Stephen Medlicott in 2008, is offering a 20% equity stake in return for the investment. So far, 108 investors have pledged £87,540 with the largest investment to date being £15,000. Thomson said: “Due to ongoing conversations with potential investors and the high number of business plan requests we have been granted a two week pitch extension.” The company has also started the process of getting a quality certification and audit from the Safe and Local Supplier Approval standard. The pitch states: “The funding from this round of investment shall be used firstly to commission our new 25BBL brewery, which we have already obtained on hire purchase, however we need to purchase further equipment and installation costs. Secondly the funding shall be used for working capital, as meeting demand and stock shortfalls have been our biggest problem. Firebrand brewing hopes to look at options for selling the business or expanding further in around year four from now.”
 
£70m scheme to extend Tunbridge Wells shopping centre featuring new cinema and restaurants approved: A £70m scheme to extend the Royal Victoria Place shopping centre in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, has been approved. Hermes Investment Management has secured planning consent to add more than 173,000 square feet of new space to the existing 300,000 square foot shopping centre. The extended centre will include more than 120,000 square feet of new retail space, more than 22,000 square feet of food and beverage space and a 30,000 square foot cinema. Chris Taylor, head of private markets at Hermes Investment Management, told Insider Media: “Achieving this planning consent represents both Hermes Investment Management and the local authority’s strong commitment to enhancing the status of the town’s retail and leisure offer. Already the region’s dominant shopping destination, Royal Victoria Place will now further capitalise on the potential that its affluent catchment offers, and we are delighted with the result.”
 
Colliers begins marketing of £150m Cains Brewery Village scheme in Liverpool: The £150m Cains Brewery Village development in Liverpool, expected to create more than 500 jobs, is attracting global investors. Owners and brothers Ajmail and Sudarghara Dusanj have engaged commercial property company Colliers International to administer the scheme, which has aroused strong interest from London, China and the Middle East. Colliers has officially approached the global investment market for the first time and work could start on the site at the back end of this year. Andy Delaney, head of Colliers Liverpool office unveiled the plans at the Liverpool stand at the MIPIM international property and investment event in Cannes. The grade II-listed former Cains Brewery in Stanhope Street has more than one million square foot of space. The project involves the creation of a craft brewery and visitor centre, an artisan food producers market, a 94-room boutique hotel, an art house cinema, restaurants, bars and 725 apartments. Colliers believes it could attract 2.5 million visitors a year, adding £25m to the city’s annual economic output and see the creation of more than 500 jobs. The firm has now appointed a full project team and is confident the scheme will finally go ahead over the next 12 months. Delaney told the Liverpool Echo: “We are now ready to go to the market with the scheme for the first time. We have had interest from local developers and from investment funds. It is great for the city that these funds are taking a real interest and it shows to what extent the market has improved. Values have now reached a point in Liverpool where we don’t need, for example, the city council to provide the freehold to make it viable.”
 
New pizza restaurant concept set to open in Salford mixed-use scheme: A new pizza restaurant concept is set to open in a mixed-use development in Salford. Giuseppe Piccoli is launching Vero Modern on the ground floor of the Vimto Gardens complex in Chapel Street, which was developed by English Cities Fund. The 1,625 square foot site will offer both an eat-in and takeaway service. Piccoli told Salford Online: said: “After considering a few options, I chose to open my first venture on Chapel Street as it’s an exciting part of the city with a vast customer base.” English Cities Fund development director Phil Mayall added: “Having a restaurant on site will not only benefit the residents living in the 96 apartments and townhouses, but also the wider community. We’re looking forward to welcoming more businesses to Chapel Street and further enhancing the regeneration of Salford.”
 
Byron staffer opens Cambridge restaurant: Auntie’s Tea Shop in St Mary’s Passage, Cambridge founded by Yvonne Prevett more than 36 years ago, has reopened as The Senate. Prevett’s son Oli has transformed the premises into a bar and restaurant, which will serve healthy breakfasts, lunches and European dishes along with a selection of wines and cocktails. He has worked in eateries and bars around the city, most recently spending three years as general manager of the Byron burger restaurant.
 
Tiny Rebel scoops SIBA brewery business of the year award: Newport, Wales-based Tiny Rebel Brewery took the top gong at the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) Business & Industry Awards, winning Brewery Business of the Year, which was selected by judges from winners in other categories. Judges at the BeerX event in Sheffield said of Tiny Rebel, which also won the Best Independent Craft Beer Bar/Pub – City category: “Their impressive activity across such a wide range of categories, combined with their meteoric growth and popularity with drinkers and industry experts alike, made them a clear choice in this prestigious category.” Tiny Rebel co-founder Bradley Cummings said: “It’s a dream come true to win such a prestigious award.” The other winners were: Best Independent Craft Beer Retailer – Multiple: Waitrose; Marketing Implementation: Hobson’s Brewery; Community Support: Rebellion Brewing Co; Green Business: Freedom Brewery; Individual Design: Purity; Concept Design: Loch Ness Brewery; Business Innovation: Hog’s Back; Craft Beer Retailer – Single Location: Beer52; Best Craft Beer Restaurant: Bundobust; Craft Beer Promotion (in on and off-trade categories): There’s a Beer for That; Commercial Achievement: Charnwood Brewery; Best Independent Craft Beer/Pub – Rural: The Yew Tree; and Exports: Thornbridge.

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