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Wed 1st Jun 2016 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

West Midlands-based health food cafe concept Frais launches £200,000 crowdfunding campaign: West Midlands-based health food cafe concept Frais has launched a £200,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube as it looks to expand the business through franchising opportunities. The company, founded by Nitin Trehan in 2011, is offering an 11.11% equity stake in return for the investment. It has two sites – in Shirley and Solihull – and is aiming to open in Dubai through its proposed franchising model. The pitch states: “Frais, which means ‘fresh’ in French, was born in 2011 with a desire to provide healthy and nutritious food and drink to the public, an alternative to junk food. We started with a small personal loan and what we believed was a great idea. Since then, we have never looked back. Year-on-year we have been committed to growing the business. We have grown from our early days of being a fresh food supplier to a high street healthy eating store. Soon we aim to open our first store in Dubai through our proposed franchising model. Each franchisee should contribute to the licensing, set-up fee and royalty. We aim to develop future income streams from our franchises, online sales and distribution to franchises from our wholesale business. We’re a young, growing business and to continue to enhance this growth we are raising funds for marketing and promoting our future franchises, building an online e-commerce website covering all of the UK and building a home and office delivery service to grow sales for our business and improve our franchise model. At Frais, we believe in serving the best quality, eliminating unnecessary sugars and artificial ingredients wherever possible, as well as striving to provide fresh, wholesome ingredients. From field to store we aim to use as many local suppliers as possible. Some of the products in our range include protein pancakes, vegan/gluten-free/high protein sandwiches and salads, juice cleanses (detox), power smoothies and morning fuel.”

Industry News:

Professor Chris Edger’s Brands Masterclass next week: Professor Chris Edger’s new Brands Masterclass, which examines how to create and evolve powerful brands, takes place next week. The event on Friday, 10 June is in the Chartered Accounts Hall at One Moorgate Place in London. Companies signed up to attend include Mitchells & Butlers, Greene King, Marston’s, PizzaExpress, The Restaurant Group, Thai Leisure Group, Loungers, Intertain, Rank, Cabana, Coaching Inn Group, Gourmet Burger King, Cambscuisine, Jamie Oliver, Drake & Morgan, Tesco Hospitality, Aubaine, Giraffe, My Lahore, Elliotts, Excelerate Resources, TLC Inns, Twisted Bars, Hall & Woodhouse, JW Lees, Coal Bar & Grill, Pieminister, SA Brain, Castle Rock Brewery, Rank, Oakman Inns, Gaucho, Dishoom, Buzzworks, Jackson & Rye, Square Pie, Wright Brothers, Maxwells, Gather and Gather and Pure. The all-day masterclass will showcase the advice of contemporary brand experts, who will address each aspect of a foodservice brand’s marketing mix. Each expert will deal with a specific dimension of brand longevity and success, making this programme an absolute must for UK foodservice brand leaders in 2016. The day will be split into three sessions to help delegates ensure their brands are evolved effectively to ensure long-term sustainability and success. Session one will cover leadership, proposition and product and will see Edger drawing on material from his newly published book, co-written with Tony Hughes, senior independent director of The Restaurant Group, examining the leadership lifecycles of sustainable food brands. The session also features leading brands consultant Ian Dunstall on how to effectively differentiate a brand and its proposition while Chris Gerard, founder of gastro-pub business Innventure, will explain how to create and evolve a compelling food and beverage offer. Session two will cover environment, estate and employer branding with Janfranco Caro, creative director, and Sarah Mannerings, head of interior design, of leading restaurant and brand design agency Mystery, looking at site design and creating a brand identity, while insights firm CACI will explore how operators create a high-quality estate. Former Orchid Group chief executive Rufus Hall will talk about creating a people-centric culture and the benefits of having an outstanding team ethos. The final session will look at execution and marketing with Dr Clinton Bantock, associate professor of the Academy of Multi-Unit Leadership, sharing how to achieve operational excellence while James Hacon, group strategy director at Thai Leisure Group, will look at examples of memorable marketing campaigns and the importance of rewarding loyal customers. Tickets are £295 plus VAT for Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) members and £345 plus VAT for non-members. To book, email anne.steele@propelinfo.com

Casual Dining Group unveils management changes: Casual Dining Group (CDG), the leading UK restaurant group, has announced a number of senior management changes as it continues to materially develop the business in the UK and overseas. Café Rouge managing director James Spragg will assume the newly created role of chief operating officer. Simon Wilkinson will take up the Café Rouge and Belgo managing director position. Las Iguanas managing director Mos Shamel will assume responsibility for La Tasca (overseeing both restaurant brands). Chief executive Steve Richards said: “These developments will further enhance our leadership team and help underscore our growing momentum. James’s appointment will help us to deliver our wider strategic ambitions and I am delighted to welcome to the CDG board someone of Simon’s calibre, who will continue our work to build the Café Rouge brand.” In the chief operating officer role, Spragg will oversee the delivery of a number of group strategic initiatives and focus on driving CDG’s international footprint and concessions business, working with managing director Mark Nelson. The changes will take effect today (1 June), the start of the CDG’s new financial year.

Starbucks targets multibillion-dollar cold coffee market: Starbucks has unveiled a new line-up of cold beverages that will become the foundation for a new “cold bar” of coffee and espresso products. The new menu, focused exclusively on the portfolio of cold coffee, affirms the company’s ongoing investment in the category of iced beverages coming off of the highly successful, nationwide launch of cold brew last year in all company-owned US stores. In addition to bringing handcrafted vanilla flavour to cold brew coffee, Starbucks will also debut a handcrafted Starbucks Doubleshot on Ice espresso beverage and introduce Nitro Cold Brew in select cities. Starbucks chief executive Howard Schultz said: “For over 40 years we have perfected the craft of roasting and brewing the finest hot coffee and, while we have always offered our customers new options in cold coffee, nothing will compare to the pace of flavour, craft and brewing innovation we will see in the next few years. The opportunity to create an entirely new cold coffee experience is limitless and our customers are already telling us they want to meet us on this journey as cold coffee is now becoming a go-to drink.”

KFC fined £100,000 over restaurant that had no hot water for ten days: KFC has been fined £100,000 after its restaurant in Pontypool, South Wales, was found to be “visibly dirty and poorly maintained” and had gone without hot water for ten days. Torfaen County Borough Council environmental health officers visited the site in May last year after a customer complained it was “dirty”. Officers found the boiler had not been working for ten consecutive days before their visit, meaning proper cleaning and disinfection had not been carried out. In addition, there were no disinfectants available to spray on food preparation surfaces. The restaurant, at a service station on the A4042, was given a zero hygiene rating. KFC pleaded guilty to three food hygiene offences at Cwmbran magistrates’ court and was fined £100,000 and ordered to pay £4,300 in costs. The restaurant was reinspected in September last year and received a food hygiene rating of four, the court was told. Janet Cox, head of health, safety and environment at KFC UK and Ireland, told the Daily Mirror: “We completely accepted the findings of the May 2015 inspection and took urgent action, closing the restaurant and placing it under the review of our specialist operations team. Thanks to the measures taken and the new management in place, the restaurant was able to return to the high standards we expect.”

Soho House launches in Malibu, second LA site: Soho House has opened its second site in Los Angeles county, this time in Malibu, with members having to prove their connection to the affluent beach city. The 10,000 square foot site, leased from Mani Brothers real estate company, includes 200 feet of beach and formerly housed billionaire Larry Ellison’s short-lived Italian restaurant Nikita. Soho House founder Nick Jones said: “We’ve had our eye on this property even before Nikita. When the opportunity arose, it was a no-brainer.” Soho House, which operates 17 venues worldwide, said for the first time members who had paid a premium to enjoy access to any property in its collection would have to apply to join and prove the legitimacy of their connection to Malibu, known for its localism. Soho House is currently developing an 80,000 square foot warehouse in downtown Los Angeles and last week opened Ludlow House in New York City.

Eataly to list 30% stake in next two years, outlines expansion plans: Andrea Guerra, the executive chairman of international Italian food emporium Eataly, has said it will list a stake of about 30% on the Milan market some time in the next two years. The group, known for selling regional delicacies at its stores around the world, recorded sales of €380m (£291m) and core profits of nearly €30m last year. Italian merchant bank Tamburi Investment Partners, which owns a stake in the upmarket food group, values it at €618m. Speaking on the sidelines of the opening of the first Eataly restaurant on an Italian motorway, Guerra told Reuters: “We are thinking of listing around a third of the company.” Earlier this month, Tamburi said it planned to list the premium food group in 2017. Ahead of the listing, Eataly plans to expand in the US and the United Arab Emirates and will open its first store in Moscow, founder Oscar Farinetti said. In the US, the company will open its second New York store at the World Trade Center in August, followed by sites in Boston and Los Angeles in October 2016 and March 2017 respectively. The new motorway Eataly restaurant is near the northern city of Modena and is managed by Italian travel catering group Autogrill. The initiative is part of a broader strategy by Autogrill to focus on more profitable restaurants on Italian motorways and offer its clients high-end products. The caterer said it would decide whether to open another Eataly restaurant on an Italian motorway after reviewing sales patterns in the next six to eight months.

Licensing update: Solicitors John Gaunt & Partners produce a useful monthly summary of topical issues and the latest can be accessed here 

Company News:

Sales near £5m at Brewhouse & Kitchen: Sales have risen to circa £5m at brewpub brand Brewhouse & Kitchen. Companies House filings show in the 12 months to 26 September 2015, Brewhouse & Kitchen turned over £4.99m, up from £1.3m a year earlier with trading Ebitda of £463,893. Chairman Kris Grumbell said he was “immensely proud” of the group’s performance. He said: “We started the financial year with three operational Brewhouse & Kitchens and two unbranded trading pubs. By the end of the year, we had seven operational Brewhouse & Kitchens, one under development and one awaiting planning consent. Our intention has always been to create a high quality portfolio of great pubs alongside a valuable brand and we are making robust progress towards this goal.” In October 2015, Brewhouse & Kitchen refinanced its debt with investment management company Puma VCT and agreed a new package with Barclays, which included a £1.9m facility to purchase another venue. Gumbrell reported he had personally invested another £130,000 in non-EIS ordinary shares in the company on the same term as other shareholders. Brewhouse & Kitchen is headquartered in Stroud and has pubs in Bristol, Gloucester, Cheltenham, Poole, Bournemouth, Portsmouth, Bedford, Southampton, London, Sutton Coldfield and Wilmslow.

West Berkshire Brewery extends £1.5m crowdfunding campaign: West Berkshire Brewery (WBB) has extended its £1.5m fund-raise on crowdfunding campaign Seedrs to pave the way for a new brewery, visitor centre and its first pub by two weeks. The company, led by beer and pub entrepreneur David Bruce, is offering an equity stake of 17.59% in return for the investment. So far, 520 investors have pledged £1,358,607, meaning it is now 91% funded. The company stated: “As you may know, our campaign was due to finish on Tuesday, 31 May. However we have agreed a short extension with Seedrs until 14 June as we hope to be announcing some very exciting news within the next week. Thank you to everyone who has supported our campaign so far and helped spread the word, we look forward to sharing our news with you and welcoming you to the brewery soon. We have been busy planning the final part of our journey with just a few pieces of the puzzle left to fit whilst still brewing great beer.” WBB said it would use the proceeds for several landmark projects, enabling it to maintain and accelerate its current growth trajectory, as it responds to continuing strong demand for its beers beyond its Thames Valley heartland. The funds will pave the way for the construction of a larger brewery. It will also fund its first pub as well as fuelling a new range of craft beers under its Renegade Brewery label, which will sit alongside its traditional range of English ales, including flagship bitter Good Old Boy. The company has identified a new brewery site close to its current location in the village of Yattendon, Berkshire. The new site will deliver a brewery with ten times the brewing capacity of WBB’s existing facility as well as a state-of-the-art bottling, canning and kegging line, plus a visitor centre and on-site restaurant. Founded by Dave and Helen Maggs in 1995, the business has annual sales of about £2m.

Leon to launch exclusive cookware range with John Lewis: Natural fast food brand Leon is to launch an exclusive cookware range in collaboration with department store John Lewis on 1 September. John Lewis said the vibrant 40-piece range “takes Leon’s bold colours and iconic illustrations to give a fun and playful feel to traditional cooking utensils”. The collection includes a cast iron griddle pan, cast iron buffet pan, herb chopper, cookware tool set and terracotta tapas dishes, designed with sharing food in mind. All the products have been developed with Leon co-founder John Vincent and designed by the company’s head of design Jo Ormiston, in collaboration with John Lewis cookshop buyer Nicola Hattersley. Hattesley told Housewareslive.net: “John Lewis and Leon are a great match, as we have a huge shared passion for developing inspiring products for our customers. It was important to myself and John to develop a range anchored in preparing and cooking food, as well as being a beautifully decorative collection. Vincent added: “This range is a result of everyone at Leon and my family sitting around a kitchen table, wondering what cookware we would most like to invent. It is a testament to the strength of the John Lewis brand how excited everyone in the family – even my kids – are about our creations going into the shops this summer.” Leon, which currently has 35 sites, signed a deal with transport hub foodservice specialist SSP last month to open at train stations as well as revealing it would launch its first Scottish venue in Glasgow in July.

Wolverhampton Wanderers threaten BrewDog with legal action over Lone Wolf logo: Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club has threatened BrewDog with legal action over the Scottish brewer and retailer’s new logo for its Lone Wolf spirits range. B&B Studio has designed the Lone Wolf logo, which will be applied to marketing materials, online and across packaging for BrewDog’s spirits range, which will be launched later this year from Lone Wolf Distillery, based at the company’s brewery in Ellon, Aberdeenshire. However Wolverhampton Wanderers, nicknamed “Wolves”, said the black wolf’s head design bore a resemblance to their club badge. Wolves, which patented various versions of the wolf’s head nationally and internationally, have now contacted BrewDog demanding an explanation. Wolves marketing boss Matt Grayson said: “This is a serious matter which has been independently raised by a large number of people. Some have even questioned whether Wolves has licensed its trademark to BrewDog. Therefore, it is causing confusion amongst our supporters and the general public and we’ll be contacting BrewDog to seek more details and to bring our registered trademarks to their attention.”

YO! Sushi gets go-ahead to open site in Bournemouth: YO! Sushi has been given the go-ahead to open a restaurant in Bournemouth. The company has been granted permission by the city council to convert the former La Senza store in Old Christchurch Road. The restaurant will open from 9am until 10.30pm on Mondays to Saturdays and until 10pm on Sundays, reports the Bournemouth Echo. The company said in its planning statement: “The addition of YO! Sushi taking a commercial unit that has remained vacant for a considerable number of years will positively enhance the retail vitality of this part of the town centre. A new shop frontage, signage and active use will significantly improve the appearance of the host building and the character of the conservation area street scene.” YO! Sushi, founded by Simon Woodroffe in 1997, has more than 70 sites in the UK.

Disco Bars Group gets go-ahead to open site in Uttoxeter: Midlands-based nightclub operator Disco Bars Group has been given the go-ahead to open a site in Uttoxeter. The company has been granted permission by East Staffordshire Borough Council to launch Society in Market Place, creating 25 jobs. It is investing £200,000 in the cocktail bar and nightclub, which will open on the site formerly used as the Sozzled Sausage, The Academy and The Paddock. The plan is to split the building, which has been empty for several years, into two rooms, reports the Uttoxeter Advertiser. One would be a cocktail bar serving top-quality cocktails with high-end spirits for “early evening drinks”. At about 10.30pm, the room would change into a club room playing music. The site will be open Monday to Thursday, from 10am to 2.30am, Friday and Saturday, between 10am and 3am, and Sunday, from 10am until 1.30am. Disco Bars Group has eight other sites, including Society in Newcastle-under-Lyme.

Lancashire entrepreneur starts Villa Italian expansion with Preston city centre opening: Lancashire entrepreneur Simon Rigby, who runs Villa Group, has begun expansion of his Italian restaurant concept Villa Italian by opening a second site, this time in Preston city centre. Rigby, who launched Villa Italian in Kirkham, just off the M55, has opened the restaurant at the front of the Guild Hall shopping arcade. The menu from head chef Stefano La Camera offers a “signature style of authentic Italian cuisine”, with the restaurant open daily from midday to late. Villa Italian is the fourth foodservice business to open in the Preston Guild Hall complex, which was taken over by The Rigby Organisation, umbrella company of Villa Group, in 2014. The complex already houses the 150-cover Mundo Tapas restaurant, as well as coffee shop Leaf or Bean and the Review cocktail and wine bar. Rigby said: “Following the success and popularity of Villa Italian in Kirkham, I’m pleased to be able to expand on the concept and bring its authentic food to Preston city centre. It is great to see the Guild Hall developing and becoming known for dining and socialising as well as entertainment.” Rigby also operates three hotels and an outside catering company.

CAU opens restaurant in £10m Harrogate complex, first Yorkshire site: Argentinian-inspired restaurant brand CAU, which is owned by Gaucho, has opened a venue in Harrogate. The new restaurant is CAU’s first in Yorkshire and 18th in the UK. The 100-cover venue in the redeveloped Beales department store in Albert Street features a separate bar area and an additional 30-cover outdoor space. The seasonally changing, all-day menu offers beef cooked on a wood-fired grill, with options including individual small plates and sharing platters. There is also an express menu for diners short on time. The bar features CAU’s own-brand wines, chosen to complement steak, as well as a range of cocktails and clericots – an Argentinian drink made from regional wine and fruit for sharing. The new restaurant is open from 10am, Monday to Friday, and 9am at the weekends. Other restaurants at the complex include Azzurri Group-owned ASK Italian and YO! Sushi. A five-screen, three-storey cinema will open in September. CAU also has a restaurant in Amsterdam.

Soho Coffee Co enters into joint venture with CH&Co Group over Apostrophe cafe chain: Artisan fresh food and coffee brand Soho Coffee Co has entered into a joint venture with contract caterer CH&Co Group centred around the Apostrophe cafe chain. The venture involves Soho Coffee Co’s dedicated management and development structure acquiring all of the current Apostrophe sites, using the support of CH&Co Group’s back-of-house systems and procurement services. It will also see CH&Co Group offering the Soho Coffee Co brand as part of its portfolio with plans to open about ten Soho outlets a year within contract catering environments. Soho Coffee Co chairman Chris Copner said: “This deal is the perfect opportunity for both parties to help each other grow. It immediately gives Soho a top-quality London portfolio of 15 stores to build on and gives CH&Co Group exclusive access to a rapidly growing and increasingly international quality food and coffee brand that will create opportunities and leverage sales in the contract catering arena. Soho is an emerging and growing brand and we have a history of dynamically developing our stores. Our artisan food and drink offer has struck a chord with consumers and we now have an increasing number of flagship stores elsewhere in the world too. The emphasis is very much on future growth and we have plans to further adapt and grow the food offer in the Apostrophe branches in the coming months to meet the ever-changing needs of the chain’s customers.” CH&Co Group chief executive Bill Toner added: “The joint venture is a good cultural fit and both companies have complementary expertise; the team at Apostrophe will gain from opportunities that the wider exposure to a quality international brand such as Soho will bring and the customer experience will be enhanced further too. For CH&Co Group, the ability to offer the Soho Coffee Co brand as an additional service offer to appropriate clients is a great opportunity and early indications are that we will open about ten Soho outlets a year within contract catering environments. Our partnership means both companies will have a stronger portfolio, a wider footprint and, for Apostrophe, a new dedicated management team with in-depth international experience of that sector – increasingly important in London, which is arguably one of the world’s most dynamic capital cities for food.”

Innventure launches bespoke ‘liquor loft’ at Cambridge site: Innventure, the gastro-pub operator led by former Mitchells & Butlers executive Chris Gerard, has launched a bespoke drink-led “liquor loft” in an unused area above the existing restaurant at its d’Arry’s site in Cambridge. The area was the brewing headquarters of Cambridge Brewery owner George Scales, who brewed and owned pubs in Cambridge at the turn of the 19th century, and still contained much of the brewer’s equipment, including mash tuns and a hot liquor furnace. The “liquor loft”, which also provides a second rooftop terrace at the venue, has now opened with the site renamed d’Arry’s Liquor Loft and Restaurant after Innventure negotiated a new free-of-tie lease with Greene King. The “liquor loft” offers barrel-ageing, its own infusions and syrups, and stocks a range of beers, including a link-up with Gerard’s former colleague at Vintage Inns, Jim Minkin, who has operated Purity Brewery since 2005. Glen Newton, managing partner at d’Arry’s, told the Cambridge News: “d’Arry’s was going through some changes when a fire in the kitchen five or six years ago burnt through the floor into the loft area. We uncovered some very unusual and incredible original features, including the original equipment that was used by George Scales to brew his beer. After the fire we discovered what was hidden in the loft and thus created a charming, historic space.”

Five Guys launches King’s Cross and Luton sites: Better burger brand Five Guys has opened sites in King’s Cross and Luton. The Luton venue is on the site of a former Mitchells & Butlers-owned Toby Carvery restaurant in The Mall in St George’s Square, while the King’s Cross venue is in Pentonville Road. Five Guys has 45 restaurants in the UK, having opened its first in Covent Garden in 2013. The company is also planning openings at Thanet and Watford. In January, Five Guys reported turnover rose to £23,812,047 in the year ended 28 December 2014, up from £3,606,254 in the 16 months before. Losses increased to £6,792,013 (16 months previously losses were £3,892,110) as the company stepped up expansion. Founded in Arlington, Virginia, in 1986 by the Murrell family, and named after the five brothers who worked together to make the chain an international success, the brand is famed for the number of free toppings it offers, boasting there are 250,000 different possible orders to choose from.

Intu Eldon Square’s £25m dining quarter brings three new brands to the north east: Three growing restaurant operators are coming to the north east as part of a rapidly expanding dining offer at Intu Eldon Square’s £25m catering development in Newcastle city centre. The new dining quarter, which opens at Intu Eldon Square this autumn, has been selected by fast-casual pizza restaurant Inferno, American burger brand Smashburger, and Taiwanese bubble tea brand Chatime for their first phase of UK restaurant openings. The new additions will join a host of other restaurants at Intu Eldon Square, including established names TGI Fridays, Chiquito and Tapas Revolution. Shopping centre owner Intu is reconfiguring 80,000 square feet of retail space at Intu Eldon Square as part of its strategy to attract visitors from further afield and for longer with an enhanced leisure offer. Intu regional director Kate Grant said: “Intu Eldon Square’s new dining quarter is exactly the right space for these exciting new restaurant brands to expand into the north east. They will play an important role in establishing our new dining area at Grey’s Quarter as a stylish, sought-after destination for restaurant operators and customers. Newcastle’s thriving city centre relies on a strong dining offer that encourages customers to come from further, stay for longer and spend more. We’re looking forward to attracting more visitors to the city by providing a vibrant and central location for both leisure and shopping that will, in turn, help all our retailers to flourish.” Inferno is taking a 2,100 square foot unit, Smashburger will be taking 2,000 square foot, and Chatime 1,000 square foot. Shelly Sandzer acted for Intu. Cushman and Wakefield acted for Smashburger.

Award-winning Cardiff restaurant on the market for £575,000: Award-winning Cardiff restaurant Stefano’s has been put on the market through agents Christie & Co on a freehold basis for an asking price of £575,000. The restaurant, in the Pontcanna area close to the city centre, offers a 60-cover split-level dining room, with an al fresco area accommodating a further 20. There is also the possibility of converting the first floor to provide owners’ accommodation. Pontcanna was named in the Sunday Times top 30 places to live in the UK in 2015. John Coggins, business agent at Christie & Co’s Cardiff office, said: “Stefano’s is a local institution with a superb reputation. The business has won the South Wales Echo Food & Drink awards on a number of occasions and is an extremely popular eatery that is well regarded for its excellent food and welcoming atmosphere. It’s extremely rare for freehold licensed premises to become available in Pontcanna and this excellent opportunity is bound to attract interest from those looking to acquire the restaurant or perhaps related offerings like a wine bar.”

Staffordshire-based WH Hospitality takes on second site: Staffordshire-based WH Hospitality has taken on its second site. The company, which operates the Weston Hall hotel, near Stafford, is now running the nearby Saracens Head pub. It has given the pub a slight revamp with a view to carrying out a major refurbishment early next year. Hannah Petrouis, of WH Hospitality, told the Staffordshire Newsletter: “We have got to know a lot of the locals in Weston and we thought the area really needed a family friendly environment. Our vision is to offer a Cotswolds-style, rustic country pub environment aimed at families and locals in a warm and friendly atmosphere. We will be serving food, which will be traditional, home-made dishes, such as pies and local ales. We also plan to maximise use of the huge beer garden space in the summer months.”

Turtle Bay opens Solihull restaurant, 28th UK site: Caribbean restaurant Turtle Bay has continued its rapid expansion by opening a site in Solihull. The company invested £800,000 to transform the former Allied Irish Bank in Station Road into a 210-seat restaurant, creating 50 jobs. It features reclaimed wooden furniture, vibrant mosaics, colourful and eclectic murals, quirky feature lighting, an open kitchen, and outdoor seating. There is also a central island bar and “veranda”-style drinking spaces for those not wanting to dine. Founder Ajith Jayawickrema told the Solihull Observer: “It’s already a fantastic place to live and work, and we think our sunny Caribbean soul food will provide something unique in an already vibrant community.” Turtle Bay, which is backed by Piper Private Equity, was founded by Jayawickrema in 2010. It is due to open a restaurant in Staines on Tuesday, 14 June and has planning permission for a site in Norwich.

New smoothie and juice bar concept opens in Grimsby: A new smoothie and juice bar concept has opened in Grimsby. Andy Watson, who owns a recording studio in the town, has launched Chasing Rainbows Juice and Smoothie Bar inside Freeman Street Market. Among the ten-plus smoothies on offer are the Mango Slam, Berry Good Morning and Feeling Peachy. Watson, who has owned Mini Matt Film Production Company for about 18 months, said he has had the idea for his latest venture for about six years. He told the Grimsby Telegraph: “There really isn’t much choice for people when it comes to buying fresh fruit drinks and my aim is to keep it as local as possible. It’s a very healthy option for people, much better than other soft drinks. To have this option here gives people the chance to make healthy choices.”

Home Grown Hotels to open £9m Pig hotel near Honiton in July, fifth site for brand: Home Grown Hotels, the destination restaurant and boutique hotel operator led by Robin Hutson, will open the fifth venue for its Pig chain, near Honiton in Devon, in July. The company has spent £9m revamping Combe House Manor having acquired the grade I-listed Elizabethan manor hotel and restaurant last October. It has been rebranded as The Pig at Combe and will reopen on Monday, 18 July creating 100 jobs, the Exeter Express & Echo reports. A garden folly has been partially restored into an indoor/outdoor bar and dining area with wood fired oven, oversized tables and benches. The hotel sits in 3,500 acres of countryside, adjoining the village of Gittisham in Otter Valley. Home Grown Hotels operates four other Pig hotels – in the New Forest, Bath, Studland, and Southampton.

Lincoln & York recruits its first European sales manager to drive overseas expansion: Coffee sourcing, roasting and packaging specialist Lincoln & York has made Franz Foerster its first european sales manager as part of plans to expand its supply on the continent. Germany-based Foerster has more than three decades of experience in the international coffee industry and has lived and worked in Switzerland, Austria, Singapore, Kuala-Lumpur, Hong Kong and the US. Lincoln & York works with customers to create bespoke blends and packaging and supplies customers in France, the Netherlands, Poland, Denmark, Ukraine and Singapore. In 2014, the company installed the UK’s largest coffee roaster, in Lincolnshire. Lincoln & York managing director James Sweeting said: “With the largest roasting capacity in the UK, it is a clear next step for us to increase the businesses we supply with private label coffee in Europe and beyond.” Foerster added: “Private label coffee is an attractive concept to foodservice operators in Germany and I look forward to opening doors and starting long-standing relationships both here and across the continent.”

Intertain completes third major Walkabout refurbishment of 2016 with £450,000 Bournemouth investment: Intertain has completed its third Walkabout investment project of the year, with a £450,000 refurbishment of its Bournemouth site. The revamp, which follows on from projects at its Reading and Birmingham outlets, includes a festival-style roof garden and bookable “VIP” areas with front row access to the venue’s many screens. Walkabout Bournemouth will also feature a special Euros menu, with food inspired by each of the competing countries. Intertain chief executive John Leslie said: “The work that has taken place at Walkabout Bournemouth is designed to enhance people’s experience of the venue for daytime trading, early evening drinks, live sport and club nights. Additionally, whilst Bournemouth is a student town, its seaside location means trading naturally peaks during summer, so the roof terrace’s transformation will also help optimise this key window.” Meanwhile, Intertain is due to launch its American-style pool hall concept Felson’s Stick Hall and Sports Lounge on the first floor of the site on Thursday (2 June).

Speaker schedule for Propel summer conference confirmed: The speaker schedule for the Propel multi-club conference on Thursday, 7 July has been confirmed. The event also involves the Propel summer party in the evening and multi-site operators can claim two free places by emailing Jo Charity on jo.charity@propelinfo.com. Cyril Lavenant, of NPD Group, will provide insights on the current state of the UK foodservice market, how the UK compares with the US and Europe, and predict future progress. Paul Chantler, founder of leading French brewpub company FrogPubs, will talk about selling cask ale in France, entering the better burger market, the French labour market, the importance of food in the French market, and breaking into the French off-trade. Jonathan Simon, of the Business Growth Fund, which has investments in Boost Juice Bars, Camino, Giggling Squid, Peyton & Byrne, Barburrito, Coaching Inn Group and Wear Inns, will explain the fund’s rationale for investment and appetite for further investment in the sector. Thom and James Elliot, co-founders of Pizza Pilgrims, will tell the story of their decision to embark on launching into the pizza category without a foodservice background, moving from pop-ups to permanent sites, lessons learnt, their mobile van and plans for the future. Simon Brigg, co-founder of five-strong Porky’s BBQ, will talk about how the company was founded, its Memphis-focused differentiation in the barbecue market, its BBQ lab, London expansion, and plans to go portable and develop sauce and clothing ranges and tips on crowdfunding in the wake of its £650,000 Crowdcube campaign. Lawson Mountstevens, managing director of Star Pubs & Bars, which invested £30m in its pub estate last year and let more than 50% of pubs to multiple operators, will set out how the company is co-investing with record numbers of multi-site operators across its 1,200-pub estate, improving support for tenants and looking to develop them. Luke Bishop, managing director of award-winning Polpo, will talk about the brand’s USPs, people culture, menu development, expansion in the regions and at Harvey Nichols, plus working with the founder – Restaurant Man Russell Norman. Clive Watson, founder of City Pub Company, will talk about building a pub company from scratch, raising money, finding great sites, market differentiation, incentivising managers, creating USPs at each site, and possible flotation. Jason Myers, chief executive of Busaba Eathai, the Thai brand founded by Alan Yau, will set out how the brand has been reshaped for national roll-out, its use of technology, its USPs, delivery success, and its market potential. David Fitzgerald, director of business development at Venners, and Malcolm Muir, director of consultancy, will set out common types of fraud and theft the company comes across and the simple steps operators can take to prevent losses and avoid compliance mistakes. Hamish Stoddart, co-founder of Peach Pub Company, will set out progress at the 17-strong pub company, its USPs, unique “partnership” business model, team and site development, and plans for the future.

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