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Tue 29th Mar 2016 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

BII partners Propel to launch training awards and conference: The British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) is to partner with Propel to relaunch the industry’s premier awards night for training achievement in the pub and restaurant sector, the NITAs, on Monday, 21 November at Cafe de Paris in central London. The awards will be preceded by a People and Training Conference at Bafta, Piccadilly, which will showcase outstanding people development within the sector. The NITA awards will recognise Apprentice of the Year, Training Licensee/Manager of the Year, Training Professional of the Year, Training Provider of the Year, Best Company for Training (under 30 sites), Best Company for Training (over 30 sites), Best Licensee Development Programme (Tenanted & Leased) and the Franca Knowles Lifetime Achievement Award. Mike Clist, managing director of the BII, said: “We are delighted to relaunch this important event. The whole sector understands the importance of developing staff at every point in their careers. Hospitality needs to be regarded as a wonderful potential career for young people and we aim to recognise the best training in the sector.” Paul Charity, managing director of Propel, said: “The industry has upped its game enormously in terms of developing its talent. It’s time we talked publicly more about all the great people and talent development undertaken in the sector.”
 

Industry News:

Jonathan Downey sets out progress in developing a UK and international food market business: The next audio recording to be sent to Propel Premium subscribers will feature London Union co-founder Jonathan Downey. In the recording, which will be sent out next week, Downey sets out progress in developing a network of 12 London neighbourhood markets, development of the business internationally, how the model is working for traders, and projected figures for the current year. Operators, drinks companies, law firms, accountants, distributors and marketing firms are among the first companies that have signed up to receive the Propel Premium subscription service. 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 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 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
 
Sector executives back the Vote Leave campaign: JD Wetherspoon founder Tim Martin, Risk Capital Partners principal Luke Johnson, nightclub operator John Hayes and hotelier Alex Polizzi feature in a new list of 250 business leaders and entrepreneurs backing the Vote Leave campaign, which is campaigning for the UK to leave Europe. Meanwhile, a new YouGov poll commissioned by Vote Leave has revealed twice as many SMEs said the EU makes it harder to employ people than helps them and a third of businesses polled believe the EU hinders businesses like them. The findings undermine a key claim of the Britain Stronger in Europe (BSE) campaign that EU membership helps employment. The YouGov poll of over 1,000 SMEs revealed only 14% believe the EU makes it easier for their business to employ people, while 31% believe the EU makes it harder for them to employ people. More businesses (32%) believe the EU hinders businesses like theirs than helps businesses like theirs (25%). Martin told Radio Four last week: “We can have clever debating points, but democracy equals prosperity. If they take it away you are going to get Greece and you will get Spain and you will get the massive economic problems people are now having when democracy is removed from people. My key feeling on a Brexit is that democracy is the key issue. When people sit back and think about it, they will see what the EU has become compared with the first ideas for the common market. The EU is non-democratic in so many ways. I am more in favour of decision-making by a national parliament, so that has to make me in favour of Brexit.” Martin added, however, “the UK has been a big beneficiary of the migration of large numbers of Europeans to this country”.
 

Company News:

Greene King opens remodelled beer cafe at Bury St Edmunds headquarters: Brewer and retailer Greene King has opened a new beer cafe and shop next to its brewery in Westgate Street, Bury St Edmunds. The new venue, the result of a ten-week refurbishment of the former visitor centre on the site, serves a range of Greene King and Belhaven draft beers alongside a food offer including food and beer pairing platters. The two-storey space has the beer cafe occupying the ground floor, alongside a shop selling beers and gifts, and the first floor dedicated to the beer tastings that take place at the end of Greene King’s brewery tours as well as private events. The decor has been inspired by the adjacent brewery and includes a copper façade entranceway, which nods to the copper mashtuns used in the brewing process and concrete countertops to emulate the brewery floors, with an internal window offering a view of the brewery cellar. Chris Houlton, Greene King managing director of brewing and brands, said: “As a leading pub retailer and brewer committed to hospitality, community and, of course, quality brewing, we are proud to have a new beer cafe in Bury St Edmunds to welcome guests and to serve our great range of beers. We could not be happier with the results of this substantial investment at the historic heart of the town.”
 
Starbucks boss – China will be our biggest market: Starbucks chief executive Howard Schultz has predicted China will overtake the US as its biggest market. Speaking at the company’s annual meeting last week in Seattle, Schultz announced Starbucks planned to open 500 outlets in China each year for the next five years – more than doubling the size of its store estate there, from the current 2,000. Schultz’s confidence in the importance of China to the company’s growth was acknowledged by opening the meeting with a performance of the traditional Chinese art form biàn lian by 11 Chinese Starbucks baristas, who travelled from Chengdu for the event. “We are playing the long game in China,” said Schultz. “We are building one of the most respected and iconic brands in the country. I believe China will be as large, or larger, than the US business in the future.”
 
Fuller’s acquires south east London site, foothold in new area of capital: London brewer and pub retailer Fuller’s has bought a new south east London site from pub operator Garry Mallen. Its new acquisition is The Lord Northbrook in Burnt Ash Road, Lee. Fuller’s acquisitions manger Tim Coleman said: “This charming, Victorian pub is well-known and has received several public accolades in recent years. In addition, it gives us a foothold in a new area of London for Fuller’s. The pub will be part of (our) Premium City (segment).”

Greene King eyes Loch Fyne sale: Greene King is exploring plans to sell off its Loch Fyne brand, The Sunday Times has reported. The company is in early talks about a sale after receiving opportunistic bid approaches, City sources told the newspaper. Greene King bought Loch Fyne for £68m in 2007 to diversify from its core brewing and pubs business. The seafood restaurant chain has been deemed surplus to requirements following Greene King’s £774m takeover of pubs rival Spirit last year. Loch Fyne was built into a nationwide chain by Mark Derry and Ian Glyn, who also helped the chef Raymond Blanc establish his Brasserie Blanc chain. Loch Fyne has 38 restaurants, which is two sites more than when it was acquired.
 
Whiting & Hammond opens ninth pub: Whiting & Hammond has opened its ninth pub, for which it raised £200,000 in 24 hours on peer-to-peer lending platform Funding Circle. The Rose & Crown in Green Street Green, Kent, is a former Young’s managed pub. Whiting & Hammond managing director Brian Whiting told the in-house Gastro magazine the pub had been taken back to its “bare bones”, with more than 50 tonnes of concrete removed. As well as a new oak-framed extension and expanded kitchen, the venue features four heated “tiki” huts in the newly landscaped garden. Whiting said: “One can take up to 20 people, another between ten and 12, and the other two between eight and ten. You’ll be able to book them for a small charge and they come with their own waiter. You press a button in your hut and they’ll appear like a genie.” The menu will change daily, using seasonal, local foods from artisan suppliers, and the pub will serve six real ales as well as a range of lagers and craft beers. Whiting & Hammond opened its eighth site last August – the Blue Ball in Walton on the Hill, Surrey.
 
Harry Ramsden’s secures Newquay site: Harry Ramsden’s will open a new branch in Newquay, Cornwall. The venue will be on the site of the Bullpit Smokehouse & Bar, which closed its doors for the last time over the weekend. The American-style barbecue smokehouse opened in April 2014, with former London financier Andy Jenkins investing more than £1m in the business. It created about 60 jobs, which it is understood will all remain under the terms of the sale.
 
Caffe Nero reports progress at Irish arm: The Irish arm of Caffe Nero has reported start-up costs contributed to the firm recording a loss of €430,000 last year. The firm is planning to invest €20m in the country by opening 40 stores and creating up to 350 jobs. The company’s second set of accounts lodged with the Companies Office showed the business increased its revenues nearly ninefold, going from €77,000 to €687,000 in the 12 months to the end of May last year. The number of Caffe Nero outlets operating during the period was four with the firm opening three of those last year. Caffe Nero’s first Irish outlet opened in Merrion Row in Dublin in March 2014 and it currently operates six outlets – five in Dublin and one recently opened in Drogheda. The firm has also planning permission for another store in Dalkey in Dublin that it secured in September 2014 in the face of local opposition. According to the directors’ report “the loss for the year arose due to continued start-up costs in this new territory”. The pre-tax loss of €430,000 last year followed the firm recording a pre-tax loss of €56,000 in 2014.
 
Gloucester-based pub operators acquire site from Gerry Stonhill: Gloucestershire-based pub operators Joanne and Jeremy White have acquired the Railway Inn in Fairford off an asking price of £350,000. The Whites, who also run the Catherine Wheel pub in Bibury, have bought the property from Gerry Stonhill in a deal brokered by Colliers International, which previously acquired it for him two years ago. Stonhill previously ran the Individual Mason Arms pub and a cigar club at South Leigh in Oxfordshire and hit the headlines in 2008 after flouting the smoking ban at his pub, which also had its own helicopter pad. Colliers International hotels director Peter Brunt told Insider Media: “Our client bought the Railway in May 2014 as a retirement venture. With a network of friends in this country and abroad he would rather make the most of those opportunities – hence the decision to sell for a possible move to Majorca.”
 
Pasta restaurant concept Padella opens in Borough Market: Tim Siadatan and Jordan Frieda, the duo behind Italian restaurant Trullo in Highbury, north London, have opened a pasta restaurant concept in Borough Market. Padella – meaning pan in Italian – has opened in Southwark Street, on the site of the former De Gustibus restaurant. The 50-cover, two-floor venue serves a short menu of eight handmade pasta dishes, along with antipasti and dessert options. Dishes include tagliarini with brown shrimps and green and yellow courgette; squid ink tagliarini with mussels, chilli and oregano; and ravioli of pumpkin and marjoram with sage butter. All pasta is made fresh on-site shortly before being served. The drinks list is also compact, featuring Italian red and white wines on tap, prosecco by the glass and a few British beers. Aperitivo cocktails negroni, Americano and sbagliato are also on offer, as is espresso coffee. Siadatan told the Evening Standard: “We’ve had this plan for the best part of ten years. Back then there was not many places to get excellent handmade pasta in London, and the vast majority of them were posh, expensive restaurants – which is largely still the case. We want to make great pasta affordable for everyone. After all, it started out being peasant food.”
 
Danu Partners eyes London openings, ‘offers better value than Dublin’: Ireland’s Danu Partners wants to bring its newly acquired US steakhouse chain Smith & Wollensky to Dublin – and open a second site in London. Danu partners are Leonard Ryan and Michael O’Rourke, who in their 20s co-founded the Setanta Sports group, and Mark O’Meara. Having sold most of their assets in the television industry, the Danu trio are now investing heavily in hospitality. They bought Smith & Wollensky, which includes seven steakhouses in locations such as Chicago, Boston and Las Vegas, after dining there for years with contacts from the US sporting world. The original New York restaurant was excluded from the deal. Danu is now eyeing a Dublin outpost of the chain, albeit a smaller version, more in line with the city’s customer base. A second London location is also being planned. Danu already has one Smith & Wollensky in London, opened under a licence agreement before it acquired the entire chain. The Dublin and London restaurants will be directly owned but licensing agreements will be used to open Smith & Wollensky’s in the Middle East and Asia Pacific. Danu is also an investor in the Mercantile Group, the newly merged Dublin pub and restaurant business led by Frank Gleeson. Mercantile is also on an expansion drive. Owners Danu, Gleeson and silent investor TJ Magen are investing €8m in upgrading its existing portfolio, before expanding into the London market. Cafe en Seine, in Dublin’s Dawson Street, is getting a €2.5m facelift, while the Lost Society nightclub, in Dublin’s South William Street, is being rebranded as Farrier and Draper, with a Viennese restaurant opening in its basement. The Scandinavian-Asian fusion restaurant Soder and Ko, in South Great Georges Street, may be revamped as an upmarket pizza restaurant. A London venue is next on the cards, although it is about two years away. “London is attractive because it offers more value than Dublin right now,” Gleeson said. “Rents and property prices in Dublin are in some cases more expensive than they were during the boom.”
 
Al Tayer Group opens 20th Caffe Nero in UAE: Al Tayer Group has opened its 20th franchised Caffe Nero site in the UAE. The company has launched the venue at the Dalma Mall in Abu Dhabi, the largest shopping centre in the city. Al Tayer Group holds the exclusive franchise rights for Caffe Nero in the country. It opened about 15 sites in the UAE in 2015 and expects to launch a similar number this year.
 
Bill’s opens new site in Greenwich: Bill’s Restaurants, owned by Richard Caring, has opened a new site in Greenwich, south east London. The company has opened the venue in Nelson Road on the former site of Cafe Sol. Based in a locally listed art deco building, the restaurant has capacity for 150 people split over two floors, with 90 on the ground floor and 60 on the first floor. Founder Bill Collison told the News Shopper: “We are absolutely delighted to be opening our first site in Greenwich. We can’t wait to welcome the locals and visitors alike to enjoy our food.” At the Propel Multi Club Conference this month, managing director Roberto Morretti revealed the company is to trial new formats as part of a focus on maximising the brand’s potential. Bill’s now has 73 restaurants in the UK.
 
Benugo faces backlash over Hampstead Heath plan: Hampstead Heath managers the City of London are facing a backlash over the decision to hand cafe-deli and catering firm Benugo control of the cafe in Parliament Hill Fields. Benugo, which has 50 sites across London, outbid the D’Auria family, who have run the cafe for 33 years, when the contract came up for renewal. The news has been greeted with dismay by Hampstead Heath users, who said the decision is a fresh sign of the City looking to squeeze profits from managing the common land – and shows a “deep lack of understanding” as to what people want from the heath. A petition demanding the decision is reversed has reached nearly 4,500 signatures, with customers threatening to boycott the new cafe. Protesters are planning a day of action on Sunday, 10 April, starting at 1pm, to show support for the D’Auria family, who will have to vacate at the beginning of May. Protest organiser Kirstie McKevitt said: “This will completely change the atmosphere of this part of the heath. There is already a ‘top end’ cafe at Kenwood. Parliament Hill offers something different for people who live in Gospel Oak and Kentish Town and aren’t as monied as others in the neighbourhood. This decision is about homogenising London, making everything the same. Benugo already have places in Regent’s Park. We want to protect something that is individual, much-loved, well-used and well-run.”
 
Solita set to open sixth site and second in Prestwich: Manchester-based burger and steak company Solita is set to open its sixth site – and second in Prestwich. Co-owner Franco Sotgiu said the venue, which is close to its 200-seater “super-site” in the town would offer a “new concept with a Solita twist”. He told the Bury Times: “We are in the planning process of opening another site in Prestwich. That proves just how good Prestwich is and how much I value it as a place for my business. The new place will be a different concept, but still with a Solita twist, and will be opened nearby to the existing site. The first restaurant has exceeded all our targets. We’re surprised at just how busy we have been since we started, especially the lunchtime trade, and we’re more or less full every night. So it only seems right to continue our business here.” Solita also has two sites in the Northern Quarter in Manchester as well as one in Didsbury and is also opening a venue in Barton Arcade in Deansgate. 
 
Prezzo opens new restaurant in Grantham: Prezzo has opened a new site in Grantham, Lincolnshire. The company has launched the site in St Peter’s Hill having refurbished two adjoining empty units next to Costa Coffee. The restaurant, which has created 16 jobs, has seating for 137 diners, including a dedicated party table adjacent to the bar that seats eight. It has a contemporary look of mainly light oak and marble and also features silver mirrors. Guests can see their pizzas being prepared and cooked by the chefs. Manager Karina Rucka told the Grantham Journal: “I am confident that it will prove popular and be a great addition to the social and eating out scene in Grantham.”
 
Yum in talks with private equity firms to sell minority stake in China operations: Yum Brands is in talks with Asian private equity firms to sell a minority stake in its China operations as it prepares to spin off the 6,900-strong division. The company, which owns KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, is reportedly speaking to a number of investors including KKR and Hopu Investments, reports the Wall Street Journal. The potential investment comes after a difficult few years for Yum in China, its biggest market by sales, where a series of food-safety scandals and management mis-steps has dented its reputation with diners. The company plans to spin off its restaurants in China, which account for about half of the company’s total sales, by the end of 2016. Yum China will list on the New York Stock Exchange, and possibly in Hong Kong. The China business could be valued at about $10bn, analysts and bankers estimate, based on its core earnings. A Yum spokesman said: “We continue to make good progress since we announced the transaction separating Yum and Yum China. We will provide updates on the transaction at appropriate times, and we won’t comment on rumours or speculation.” Yum’s China sales dipped 0.4% in 2015, after two flat years. Analysts said securing private equity investment would be no silver bullet for recovery, but could help drive faster store growth and fund a makeover for older stores.
 
Vietnamese street food concept Banh Banh launches permanent site in Peckham: Vietnamese street food concept Banh Banh has opened its first permanent site, in Peckham, following a residency at the Bussey Building in nearby Rye Lane. The company is run by five siblings of the Nguyen family, who grew up in the local area and create dishes inspired by their grandmother. She put together her own cookbook from her time as a chef in Saigon in the 1940s, reports Hot Dinners. The menu features Pho and Banh Mis during the day and sharing dishes in the evening, with a weekly changing menu. Banh Banh’s signature dish is Banh Khot (turmeric and coconut mini pancakes with prawns). Other dishes include fried snapper with green mango, lemongrass beef stew, and vegan coconut curry. Drinks include cocktails and local craft beers.
 
MasterChef winner Simon Wood eyes first restaurant in Manchester: Reigning MasterChef champion Simon Wood is planning to open his own restaurant in Manchester. The Oldham chef is looking at sites in the Northern Quarter or Spinningfields for the venture, which he hopes to launch later this year. Wood told the Manchester Evening News: “We’re looking to open somewhere that’s contemporary and relaxed with a sophisticated modern twist, from breakfast right through the day. We might not dip into the evening market straight away, but certainly the after-work, early evening crowd.” Since winning last year’s series, Wood has been employed as executive chef at his hometown football club Oldham Athletic and he will continue to work with the club, where he creates seasonally changing menus, hosts regular “Dine with Simon” events and is set to launch a monthly pop-up restaurant in the boardroom on Thursday, 21 April. He said: “It’s been a massive learning curve for me. It’s given me the ability to do fine dining as well as learning how to do things in volume for the corporate catering. I’ve also had carte blanche over the menu, which is something I probably wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do elsewhere.” Wood will have his first cookbook, At Home With Simon Wood: Fine Dining Made Simple, published on Monday, 11 April. He has already appeared as a guest judge on the current series of MasterChef.
 
New American-style barbecue concept launches in Carlisle: A new American-style barbecue concept called Foxborough has opened in Carlisle. The venue in Cecil Street has replaced the former Keez Bistro. Its ceramic barbecue keeps all the smoke inside and cooks low and slow so all the moisture of the meat is retained. Business partners Scott Nicholson and Ben Parker are the brains behind Foxborough. Nicholson told the News & Star: “We’ll be smoking all our own meats. We’re using local suppliers including a great business in Moorhouse, which makes amazing salami from its own rare-breed pigs. They are developing a bourbon-infused recipe just for us.” Nicholson and Parker, who worked together at The Golden Fleece at Ruleholme, have carried out much of the renovation work themselves. Nicholson said: “We have completely overhauled the old Keez Bistro site, including new floors and a new kitchen. Foxborough will be casual, we hope people will come for dinner and stay all evening for drinks. Eventually we will be open for brunch at weekends and light lunches on weekdays.” The bar’s name comes from the hometown of the duo’s favourite American football team, the New England Patriots. 
 
Restaurateur opens healthy food concept, second Southend venue: Southend restaurateur Will Fishenden has opened his second venue in the Essex town. Fishenden, who owns Mangetout in Tylers Avenue, has launched healthy food concept Prep Kitchen in Chichester Road, with dishes listed on the menu under sections such as protein and carbs. Fishenden said he wanted to bring something new to the town. He told The Echo: “We’ve found a lot of people are coming in to eat their breakfast before work but also buying lunch to have at the office because there’s very few places in Southend where you can get a healthy lunch.”
 
Gail’s Bakery opens new site in Battersea Square: Gail’s Artisan Bakery, which is backed by sector investor Luke Johnson, has opened a new site in Battersea Square, south west London. The bakery, which is its 27th site, sells loaves, including Gail’s French dark sourdough, mixed olive sourdough, quinoa sourdough and honey and almond sourdough. It also specialises in pastries, cakes, yogurt pots, seasonal soups, sandwiches, salads and quiches. A hot brunch menu is served until 3pm. Gail’s Artisan Bakery was founded in 2005, when founders Ran Avidan, Tom Molnar and Emma King opened the first bakery in Hampstead.
 
New gourmet grill restaurant concept opening in Prestatyn next month, owner plans chain across North Wales: A new gourmet grill restaurant concept is opening in Prestatyn next month with its owner planning to create a chain across North Wales. Mark Linaker is launching Ginger’s Grill – described as a cross between Nando’s and KFC – in the High Street, creating about ten jobs. It will specialise in gourmet burgers, hotdogs, fried chicken and “create-your-own” milkshakes. Linaker, who used to have ginger hair before going bald, told the Rhyl, Prestatyn and Abergele Journal: “It is a totally new unique and creative concept for the town. It has taken 20 months to get to this stage so we are excited. The idea is to create somewhere where you can have a lovely meal and relax – with a wine or a bottled beer – there will be no draft, we don’t want to create a pub atmosphere. We hope to introduce live music in the summer. There will be seating areas and booths, gourmet food, creative milkshakes.” Linaker said he has ambitious plans to create a chain of Ginger’s Grill across North Wales and mentioned areas such as Anglesey, Bangor and Llandudno. He added: “The first one will always be the hardest one, but we are really working hard.”
 
New Swedish restaurant concept Smaka opens in east London: A new Swedish restaurant concept has opened in east London. Smaka, which means taste in Swedish, has launched in Alie Street in Whitechapel. It serves fresh, healthy food with a Scandinavian twist in a Scandi-designed restaurant. The menu includes Swedish waffles, sandwiches with Swedish-inspired fillings, home cured salmon, and traditional Swedish meatballs. There is also authentic Swedish Löfbergs coffee, hot chocolate and sweet treats such as cinnamon buns and seasonal specialities. Smaka is open Monday to Friday from 8am-4pm and Sundays between 10.30am and 2.30pm.
 
Turkish restaurant boss disqualified as director for 11 years: Sakine Ulas, a director of Milox trading as Divan Restaurant, a Turkish restaurant based in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, has been disqualified from acting as a company director for 11 years for deliberately failing to ensure the company had properly and accurately accounted for VAT and corporation tax. The disqualification, from today (Tuesday, 29 March), means Ulas has given an undertaking to the secretary of state to not be a director of a company whether directly or indirectly, or be involved in the management of a company in any way for the duration of her disqualification. An HMRC investigation revealed significant suppression of cash takings, which Ulas confirmed, stating she had not recorded and declared all cash takings to HMRC totalling up to £1,500 per week. Ulas further declared she had not declared the correct takings to her accountant and she had knowingly signed off the company’s annual accounts, which understated the correct turnover.
 
Whitbread signs deal for Premier Inn in Woolwich: Whitbread has struck a deal for a Premier Inn hotel and restaurant in Woolwich, south east London. The company has completed a leasehold deal for a 128-bedroom hotel and branded restaurant, which is to be located close to Woolwich’s Crossrail station. The development, within Berkeley Homes’ Royal Arsenal Riverside development, is due for completion in spring 2017. Derek Griffin, head of acquisitions (London) at Premier Inn, said: “Woolwich is a hugely exciting area of London undergoing an amazing transformation. We are therefore delighted to have secured a 128-bedroom hotel in the heart of Berkeley’s Royal Arsenal Riverside scheme. Woolwich is an outstanding location – soon to reap the benefits of Crossrail and an estimated £1.5bn investment by 2030.” Karl Whiteman, the divisional managing director of Berkeley Homes (East Thames), said: “With the arrival of Crossrail in 2018 and the forthcoming cultural quarter, Royal Arsenal is a growing riverside destination. With City Airport so close by and popular events such as the Thames Tall Ships Cruise and regular farmers’ market held on-site, Woolwich is becoming ever more popular with tourists and the new hotel will add to the area’s wealth of amenities.”
 
Bath Pub Company buys fourth site: The Bath Pub Company has bought its fourth bar in the city. The company, which already owns Chequers Bar, the Marlborough Tavern, and the Hare and Hounds, has purchased another pub in the Weston area of Bath, the Dolphin Inn in Locksbrook Road, local media has claimed. 
 
Pizza Hut signs deal with ITG for real-time visibility of all marketing activity: Restaurant chain Pizza Hut has signed a three-year contract with technology firm Inspired Thinking Group (ITG) to improve its marketing messages across all its outlets. ITG will be responsible for the creation and distribution of content for Pizza Hut’s digital screens and management of conferences and events. Although both firms have been working together for the past several years, the deal will see ITG take over the production of all restaurant artwork at its content creation studio in Fort Dunlop near Birmingham. The company will also manage menu and POS printing, besides offering website management of online menus that link to the company’s ordering app. Pizza Hut Restaurants UK’s head of brand development Ian Straughan said: “Pizza Hut Restaurants has a great existing relationship with ITG. We have worked with them as partners on numerous projects. They provide us with a dedicated and integrated onsite account team who, through the use of Media Centre, provide support to our entire marketing operation team at our Restaurant Support Centre in Borehamwood.” Media Centre, a cloud-based marketing automation platform of ITG, will manage campaign planning, assets, suppliers, requests for quotations, briefing, approvals, stock ordering and reporting. The platform will enable Pizza Hut to offer complete real-time visibility of all marketing activity.
 
McDonald’s France signs unprecedented poultry supply agreement: McDonald’s France and the French poultry sector have signed a three-year agreement fixing the purchase price of chicken. The agreement is unprecedented in its scale, a three-year duration, and 9,100 tonnes per year minimum. The aim of the agreement is to protect prices from market fluctuations and provide producers, packers and processors with visibility, allowing them to plan for their production and investments. Minister of agriculture Stephane Le Foll welcomed the agreement. “It is a further illustration of the interest of contracting approaches that bring visibility to farmers,” he said, adding consumers benefit from quality guarantees.
 
Speratus Group lines up Boozy Cow opening in Aberdeen: Bar and restaurant operator The Speratus Group has closed a bar it operates in Aberdeen to make way for a new Boozy Cow burger restaurant. Amicus Apple closed its doors on Saturday as work to create a new Aberdeen Boozy Cow within the Langstane Place premises continues. A spokesperson for The Speratus Group, which owns the restaurant chain and ran the bar before its closure, said: “Following a hugely successful first year, the Aberdeen Boozy Cow will move, in May, from its current location in the city’s Netherkirkgate into the group’s Amicus Apple bar and restaurant, which is significantly larger and perfect for this concept. We closed our doors at Amicus Apple on Saturday to allow our contractors to start works on the new site – for opening early May. All staff at both Boozy Cow and Amicus Apple will be retained.” Garreth Wood, founder of The Speratus Group, confirmed he is looking to open three new restaurants a year, both in Scotland and England. Earlier this month, The Speratus Group confirmed it is exploring a sale of its Nox, Paramount and The Illicit Still venues in Aberdeen to focus on it Boozy Cow brand.
 
Multi-siters add boutique bedrooms with support from Star Pubs & Bars: Multi-site operators Jo and Justin Chad have added five boutique bedrooms to their historic pub in Harlaxton, Lincolnshire. The alterations to the 18th century Gregory Pub and Dining Rooms, in Harlaxton Road, will allow it to open up a new area of growth for the already successful business. The dining pub will also soon be open to the public for breakfast and all day for coffees, teas and snacks, in addition to lunches and dinners. Jo Chad, who also runs the Chequers Inn at Woolsthorpe by Belvoir, said: “We’ve grown our business every year since 2003 throughout the recession. Now seemed the ideal time to invest in the pub and the local economy as we feel confident about the area’s future and are picking up on a positive feel-good factor from the many business people who dine at The Gregory. We’re always being asked if we can add bedrooms by people who are dining at the pub, especially business people staying nearby.” The investment has been made jointly by the Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars and the licensees. Lawson Mountstevens, managing director of Star Pubs & Bars, said: “Heineken is a passionate supporter of the great British pub, of which The Gregory Pub and Dining Rooms is a great example, thanks to Jo and Justin’s hard work.”
 
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 Big 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

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