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Fri 3rd Jun 2016 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Foodservice ‘growing up’ when it comes to sustainability but ‘still long way to go’, new report reveals: Foodservice is “growing up” when it comes to sustainability but there is “still a long way to go”, a new report has revealed. The Footprint Sustainability Index Trends Report, which has been produced by Footprint Intelligence with support from Bidvest Foodservice and Plate2Planet, analyses the key trends in sustainability in foodservice. Covering the key topics of supply chain, natural resources, energy and emissions, health and vitality, waste, and employees and local communities, it outlines where the foodservice industry has come from, and where it needs to go next. It said while some sectors and companies were doing “brilliant work”, others were still coasting. The report said while the soft drink sugar tax would “tackle the drinks industry”, more industry-wide action was needed across other product groups to “level the playing field and get everyone reducing sugar levels harder and faster”. It added while the industry had shifted to start taking responsibility for food waste, it was still not common practice, and nor was it entirely integrated into day-to-day management systems. There was still a tendency to focus on what to do with the waste itself rather than prevention in the first place. Among the action points in the report were the need to create sustainable menus, understand and take responsibility for impacts of the supply chain, and to embrace collaboration through forums, working groups and business-to-business partnerships to do more to address issues collectively. It also encouraged foodservice companies to ensure good provenance to know where the food comes from and embed sustainability into their operations. Companies were also encouraged to “adopt a nutritional lens” to ingredients, recipes and supply chains and be bold with targets to “drive innovation and transformational change”. The report also said foodservice companies had a responsibility to make out-of-home food healthier and educate their workforce about sustainability to “maximise impact”. Amy Fetzer, one of the report’s authors, said: “Foodservice has been pushing the boundaries. This ranges from an acceptance of responsibility for impacts up and down the supply chain to a growing recognition of the importance of sustainable meals and concerted, collaborative action to tackle industry waste. When it comes to sustainability, foodservice is growing up. But there is a way to go and the goalposts are moving all the time. To use a Roman analogy, we can keep on blindly cooking as the planet burns. Or, we can build on our successes to share best practice and continually push for better, more sustainable systems and solutions to ensure foodservice takes responsibility for its share of impacts and emissions. This index is designed to do just that. By sharing best practice and highlighting where we need to direct effort, we have a map to guide us to a more sustainable future.”

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 takes place on Friday, 10 June 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 Kitchen, Cambscuisine, 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, Maxwell’s, Gather & 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

Curry industry body backs ‘Remain’ campaign: The Asian Catering Federation (ACF), which represents 20,000 restaurant and takeaway owners in the UK, has called for its members to vote “Remain” in the EU referendum on Thursday, 23 June. Chairman Yawar Khan said ACF members would be better off if the UK remained in the European Union, citing the contribution EU members make to the sector, especially regarding “antisocial hours”. Khan has written to prime minister David Cameron requesting a personal meeting to discuss problems faced by restaurateurs. Some ACF members believe if the UK left the EU it would allow restaurant owners to recruit staff from outside Europe and alleviate a chronic chef shortage, which has seen 600 curry houses in the UK close in the past 18 months. However, while the ACF is lobbying the government to reduce immigration restrictions to enable restaurant owners to bring in skilled chefs from outside Europe, Khan said the federation recognised the contribution of EU members – especially those from Eastern Europe who are prepared to “undertake the demanding work and antisocial hours associated with the hospitality industry”. Khan said he believed economic uncertainty caused by years of renegotiations following a “Leave” vote would have a “serious effect on consumer confidence”, which would “hit the hospitality industry especially hard”. The ACF is a joint initiative between the Federation of Bangladeshi Caterers UK, the Chinese Takeaway Association UK, and the Malaysian Restaurant Association.

Campaigners call for end of incessant restaurant music: Campaigners are calling for a ban on “incessant” background music in restaurants, claiming it ruins the atmosphere. Pipedown, a group opposed to piped music in public places, has teamed up with charity Action on Hearing Loss to call for the ban. The group is also asking pubs to turn music down and to incorporate more soft fabrics and materials to help muffle sounds. The campaign follows Marks & Spencer’s announcement it would turn off all background music in stores in response to feedback from customers and staff. Gorki Duhra, from Action on Hearing Loss, told The Times: “For some people, it can be irritating. But when it leads to you getting the wrong order or not being able to have a conversation and you’re missing the main bit of the joke because you just can’t hear it, you feel left out. Background music makes it harder to pick up a particular voice. We would ask restaurants not to play any.” The campaign will launch next month and target high-street food chains, including Prezzo and Wagamama.

Online beer distribution company Beer Hawk expands for fourth time in as many years with Leeds move, predicts £10m turnover: Online beer distribution company Beer Hawk is expanding for the fourth time in as many years by moving to a new site at the Thorpe Arch Estate in Leeds. The company, which went from £150,000 turnover three years ago to a predicted £10m this year, is taking more than 12,000 square feet of space at the scheme, where it has relocated from Harrogate. Beer Hawk was founded in 2012 by beer enthusiasts and directors Chris France and Mark Roberts and since then has grown from two to 20 staff. The business sources 500 beers from 25 different countries and provides next-day delivery to UK customers. France told The Business Desk: “Thorp Arch Estate will be an ideal base because of the quality of the new premises, which are being especially reconfigured for us, including a beer-tasting bar, and the estate’s proximity to the motorway network for next-day deliveries. The capacity to expand nearby on the estate was also attractive if we continue to grow as projected. We plan to invest millions of pounds into the company in the next few years, including creating 30 jobs. We also plan to expand our selection of the world’s best beers to 800, and so we will need space for more pallets.”

Commercial Kitchen show to debut in Birmingham: The first Commercial Kitchen show will take place at the NEC Birmingham on Tuesday (7 June). Launched by Diversified Communications UK, it will be the UK’s first trade show dedicated solely to the catering equipment market and feature the latest products and services. Major contract caterers, distributors and buyers will attend the two-day event alongside many of the UK’s largest foodservice companies. Group event director Chris Brazier said: “The kitchen is one of the most important investments any operator has to make, and Commercial Kitchen aims to be the most comprehensive trade show of its kind in this country, where key decision-makers and specifiers can see and compare the latest products, and get advice and inspiration to ensure they make the best decisions for their business and boost their kitchen’s profitability.” The event will also feature seminars and debates. For Commercial Kitchen keynote timings and listings, visit www.commercialkitchenshow.co.uk/seminars

Guest speaker revealed for BII summer event: The guest speaker at the British Institute of Innkeeping’s summer event on Tuesday (7 June) will be distinguished military figure Stuart Tootal. He will draw on his background in the army and experience as a senior executive in the commercial world to offer guests an insight into how key elements of military leadership strategy can be used in licensed retail businesses to drive success. He will also talk about the innate skillset ex-military personnel have and how these can be utilised by employers to add value to their business. Tootal, who was awarded an OBE in 2005, completed active service in Northern Ireland, the Gulf War and the invasion of Iraq. He then commanded the 3rd Battalion of the Parachute Regiment, which was the first UK combat unit sent to southern Afghanistan. For his efforts, he received a Distinguished Service Order for his “outstanding leadership”. He also founded and is chairman of the Parachute Regiment’s Afghanistan Trust Charity and, since its inception, has raised £3.4m for wounded paratroopers.

Company News:

JD Wetherspoon sells two more pubs to Amber Taverns: JD Wetherspoon has sold two more pubs to Amber Taverns following the sale of three others earlier this year. Amber Taverns has acquired The Zachariah Pearson in Hull along with the Old Angel in Doncaster as it looks to strengthen its operations in Yorkshire. The deals come after JD Wetherspoon sold three other pubs to Amber Taverns – the Edward Rutland in Stourbridge, the Water Poet in Gloucester and the John Capel Hanbury in Pontypool. The Zachariah Pearson in Beverley Road, which has been open since 2000, will close on Monday (6 June) ahead of an expected seven-month refurbishment by the new owners. JD Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon said no jobs would be lost with the current staff retained by the new owners. He told the Hull Daily Mail: “The deal to sell the pub to Amber Taverns is set for completion on 9 June. We appreciate our loyal customers will be upset it will no longer be a Wetherspoon pub but, like other companies, we have to make commercial decisions.” Amber Taverns operations director Garry Roberts said the company was looking to expand its business in the north east of England. He added: “We are actively recruiting for management teams and trainees due to our expansion and we generally invest over £500,000 when we buy an outlet.” All five pubs bought by Amber Taverns were part of a 50-strong package put on the market last year by JD Wetherspoon. Last month, the company put another 33 sites up for sale through agents CBRE and Savills. JD Wetherspoon has three other pubs in Hull – The Admiral of the Humber, The Three John Scotts, and The William Wilberforce, which is also for sale. It also recently opened The Cross Keys in Beverley.

Draft House unveils list of 23 target locations as it aims to open five sites a year: Draft House, led by Charlie McVeigh and backed by Luke Johnson, has revealed its list of 23 target locations as it aims to open five new venues a year. The company, which currently has nine sites trading, is looking for A3 or A4 sites of between 3,500 square feet and 5,000 square feet, with a minimum of 2,500 square feet on ground-floor level. It is targeting locations in London and orbital towns as it looks at further expansion. In the capital it is looking to open venues in the City in Aldgate, Bank, Bishopsgate, Cannon Street, Holborn, Moorgate, St Paul’s and Temple. Elsewhere in London it is eyeing Canary Wharf, Euston, Green Park, South Kensington, Westminster, Vauxhall and Victoria. It is also aiming to expand outside the capital with Chelmsford, Crawley, Croydon, Reading, Swindon, Watford, Windsor and Woking on its hit list. Draft House saw turnover jump 28% to £6,121,408 in the year ended 25 October 2015, compared with 4,787,233 the year before. Adjusted Ebitda leapt 58% to £633,576, compared with £400,499 the previous year. Like-for-like sales increased 4%. 

Burger & Lobster to introduce menu for first time: Burger & Lobster, which has just opened its latest site at West India Quay, is to trial a proper menu – a first for Burger & Lobster, which previously had no physical menu, instead using its team to describe the three meal options. The menu is a response to customer feedback and the brand is working closely with guests to ensure it meets their needs as it ventures into new territory. Although the menu doesn’t cast the net too far from its origins, it gives diners more choice through the different sizes of burger and lobster on offer. Head of marketing Maisie Denning said: “Since we opened our doors in 2011, we’ve never had a menu. We do burger and we do lobster, simples. Since day one, though, we’ve been inundated with emails and tweets asking what we serve. After receiving our 1,001th email we just gave in and thought, why not? We’re still keeping it pretty simple and focusing on what we do best – burgers, lobsters and an ace team – but trying to offer a bit more flexibility in portion size and price. Depending on feedback, we’ll also have a go at some new flavour profiles through sauces and burger toppings.” The West India Quay restaurant, which features Burger & Lobster’s biggest outside terrace, will have two bars offering new cocktails and UK craft beer. The outside Pina Cola-Bar is dedicated to serve blended frozen cocktails only available at West India Quay and will include sharing sizes of Pina Coladas and Burger & Lobster’s own take on Rum Punch. The second bar will be dedicated to serving signature Burger & Lobster cocktails alongside some of the UK’s best in craft beer.

Brasserie Blanc to unveil 17th and final phase of 20-month rebranding programme with Bristol site relaunch: Brasserie Blanc, the French restaurant group led by Raymond Blanc, will unveil the final phase of its 20-month rebranding project with the relaunch of its 17th site in Bristol this month. The 4,500 square foot venue in the Cabot Circus shopping centre is being transformed, featuring a 110-cover main brasserie, including a 48-cover mezzanine level. The former grade I-listed Friary Building will also house a bar lounge area and a cheese and wine table, as well as an external bar and lounge and dining for up to 148 guests in the Quakers Friars square outside. The venue will also offer a private dining room for between ten and 40 guests – the Calefactory – named after an important room in a medieval monastery. It will also feature two event spaces – Bakers Hall (40 to 70 guests) and Cutlers Hall (70 to 120 guests). In a nod to the building’s former history, design features will include bespoke pew tables and seating, together with reclaimed chapel furniture pieces. The brasserie will offer a menu of classic and modern French dishes using seasonal ingredients designed by Brasserie Blanc executive chef Clive Fretwell and executed by head chef Frederic Fetiveal. Chief executive Mark Derry said: “We are delighted to mark the final phase of our brand evolution with the reopening of our Bristol brasserie. We began this project with the aim of refreshing the Brasserie Blanc brand, ensuring the decor complements our menu of honest French cooking. We’ve received fantastic feedback for all our other refurbished brasseries so far and we are excited to reveal our 17th and final stage!”

Restaurant and pub operator Candy Experience enters voluntary liquidation, venues on market: Hampshire-based restaurant and pub operator Candy Experience, which runs venues in the county as well as in Dorset and Surrey, is seeking a creditors’ voluntary liquidation. The company operated venues belonging to Alcatraz Investments, which has put the leasehold of its sites on the market through agents Savills. Alcatraz Restaurant and Bar in Bournemouth is on the market for £250,000, with Alcatraz Caffe and Restaurant in Poole on sale for £100,000. Leaseholds for the Alcatraz venues are offered separately or with the Sir John Barleycorn pub in Cadnam, Hampshire, at £209,000, and Alcatraz in Camberley, Surrey, at £49,950. Ashtons Recovery in Ringwood has been appointed to handle the creditors’ voluntary liquidation of Candy Experience, which also ran Hampshire pubs the Old Beams Inn at Ibsley and the Hobler Inn, Lymington, the Daily Echo reports. David Meany, of Ashtons, said a creditors’ meeting would take place on Friday, 17 June. He said Candy Experience ceased to trade in May, with the venues now being run by Dorset-based Tomato Tree. In 2013, Ashtons was appointed to handle the creditors’ voluntary liquidation of the Apricot Restaurant Company, which traded as Alcatraz, and the Apricot Pub Company, which ran the pubs in the group. The operations were taken over by Alcatrazgroup, which itself was liquidated in 2014 and its stock and customer list sold to Candy Experience for £11,000. There was no money in either case for creditors, with claims totalling £394,244 in the case of Alcatrazgroup. Aside from Tomato Tree, all companies involved in the Alcatraz venues have had members of the Hashtroudi family as directors and shareholders. Paul Podvoiskis, director of Candy Experience, is a former director of Alcatraz Investments. No-one from Alcatraz wished to comment.

BrewDog launches ‘Beer School’: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has launched “Beer School” in its UK bars – for customers who want to learn more about brewing craft beer. Each session lasts 90 minutes, with an opportunity to try six different craft beers, and includes a specially designed notepad and “some meat and cheese with which to learn more about the joys of food pairing”. Every Beer School features a pop quiz, with those who pass receiving a certificate and “Certified Beer Geek” badge. The three Beer School courses are Standard Beer School (£20 per person), Advanced Beer School (£24 per person), and American Beer School (£24 per person). BrewDog stated on its blog: “We love the fact more and more people are discovering the joys of well-made, flavourful craft beer – but also we appreciate that for newcomers to the beery scene, initially it can seem a little daunting – or even totally baffling. Our epic bar crews are primed and ready to dispense advice, tasters or suggestions to anyone who asks. But for those who want to go a bit deeper and fully explore the wonders of the beer-based age, then we urge you to stay in school.” People can sign up for Beer School via social media or in person at any BrewDog bar.

Gail’s Bakery opens site in Pimlico: Gail’s Artisan Bakery, which is backed by sector investor Luke Johnson, has opened a site in Pimlico, central London. The bakery, which is in Churnton Street and is the company’s 28th 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 site in Hampstead.

Multimillion-pound plans unveiled for cinema and restaurant complex in Horsham town centre: Multimillion-pound plans have been unveiled to create a three-floor multiplex in Horsham town centre. Earlier in the year it was revealed the owners of Swan Walk shopping centre want to redevelop the western end of the complex to create a five-screen cinema and four “family friendly” restaurants. It is believed the proposed cinema would be operated by Everyman Media Group, which has 17 sites across the UK, mainly in the south of England. Offices would be converted to make space for the cinema on the second floor. Shoppers would access the new area on the upper ground floor from the mall, with mezzanine levels for the restaurants on the ground floor. Gordon Lindsay, cabinet member for local economy at Horsham District Council, told the West Sussex County Times: “It is a massive investment and shows some people have faith in the town by preparing to put their money to the tune of millions of pounds into Horsham. Retailers are under a lot of pressure these days with internet shopping, and click and collect is doing very well in Horsham. You need more attractions these days to draw people into the towns for shopping and entertain them while they are there. It is going to appeal to families, and what it will mean is there will have to be more family restaurants.” Gill Buchanan, Swan Walk centre manager, said about 100 jobs would be created, adding research had shown demand for a new cinema and the development would help claw back income from food and leisure currently spent outside Horsham. She said: “We anticipate, subject to the approval of the planning application, that construction will commence on-site in April 2018 and the new development of restaurants, retail and the cinema will open in October 2019.”

George’s Great British Kitchen opens Newcastle city centre restaurant, second UK site: Fish and chip restaurant George’s Great British Kitchen is opening its second venue, this time in Newcastle city centre. The restaurant, which will also feature a gin bar, is in the Intu Eldon Square shopping centre’s new dining quarter. The company has signed a 25-year lease on a 4,200 square foot unit on the lower level. The first George’s Great British Kitchen opened at Intu Victoria in Nottingham last year, going on to win the best newcomer award at Nottingham Post’s 2016 Food and Drink Awards. The menu focuses on George’s fish and chips heritage but also features classic British dishes, charcoal grills and tapas. Other offerings include halloumi and home-smoked aubergine and tahini burger, mushy pea fritter with banana chilli salsa and wasabi mayo, and retro arctic roll. George’s Great British Kitchen owner Andrew Constantinou told Chronicle Live: “The positivity with which our Intu Victoria restaurant in Nottingham has been received inspired us to share it with the people of Newcastle. We aim to create a restaurant that ‘wows’ and celebrates our country in a fun, properly British way, with hints of the seaside, beach huts and candyfloss.”

Carluccio’s eyes Intu Derby opening: Carluccio’s, the international Italian restaurant group with operations in the UK, Ireland, US, Middle East and Turkey, is in talks to open a site in Derby. Carluccio’s operates 98 chains across the UK and is in talks with Intu Derby shopping centre about opening its first site in the city. Carluccio’s has applied to Derby City Council for a premises license. Should a deal be reached, it is likely Carluccio’s will open next door to Prezzo’s Tex Mex brand Chimichanga, which is due to open on Monday, 27 June, the Derby Telegraph reports. Other restaurants to open at Intu Derby in the past month include better burger brand Byron, Azzurri Group-owned Zizzi, and The Restaurant Group brand Joe’s Kitchen. Last week, Carluccio’s reported Ebitda up 7.3% to £15.3m in the year to September 2015. The group opened 14 sites in the UK, Ireland, and the US and continued its expansion in Dubai and Turkey, under franchise. At the year end, the group operated from 112 worldwide locations.

Knead Pubs to trial pop-up gin bars, plans to roll-out concept if successful: Knead Pubs, which has six sites across Nottinghamshire, Rutland and Lincolnshire, is to trial pop-up gin bars at two of its venues with a view to rolling the concept out across the estate. The company will be running the pop-ups at The Crown Hotel in Stamford and The Prince Rupert in Newark during World Gin Day on Saturday, 11 June. The bars will promote locally distilled gins from companies such as Two Birds in Market Harborough, Burleigh’s in Leicester, and Warner Edwards in Northampton, along with gins from across the world such as Monkey 47, Bathtub, and Gin Mare. If the pop-ups are a success, the company said it planned to roll them out across the estate during the year as well as expand the range of 17 gins it will be initially promoting. The company said it was introducing the pop-ups because of the “ever-growing market for craft gins” and was continuing to “look at the market trends, concentrating on the casual dining market but introducing new ideas and events to entice guests’ interests in the venues”.

Black Milk Cereal Dive set to start expansion with second Manchester cereal cafe: Black Milk Cereal Dive is set to start expansion by opening a second cereal cafe in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. The owners had already extended their debut venue inside alternative department store Afflecks to cater for demand. The new, larger branch will be in Oldham Street in a unit currently occupied by vegan cafe V Revolution, which is moving to Edge Street in the city. Black Milk Cereal Dive co-founder Oliver Taylor told Manchester Evening News: “We’ve been getting to capacity pretty much every single day and that’s what’s pushed us to expand. It’s really hit off since we started turning cereal into something more like desserts and serving loaded shakes with cakes. It’s sent Instagram out of control.” The new site, for which an opening date has yet to be announced, can seat more than 60 diners upstairs – treble its Afflecks capacity – with plans to turn downstairs into a private dining area. The first Black Milk Cereal Dive opened less than a year ago offering breakfast cereals from all over the world. They can be served in a chocolate bowl with thousands of biscuit, topping and milk combinations to choose from. The new menu will have calorific additions, including “wiches” – ice cream sandwiched between two cookies to look like a burger.

Stone Place Restaurant Company launches SteakStones pub concept in Buckinghamshire: The Stone Place Restaurant Company has opened its first venue – at the 16th century Feathers pub in Chalfont St Giles, Buckinghamshire – with all meat and fish cooked using the SteakStones concept. SteakStones was invented by Nick Metcalf, with the process described by Stone Place Restaurant Company owners Melvyn Angell and Sylvia Sheridan as “dining theatre”. SteakStones involves cooking meat and fish at diners’ tables on hot volcanic rocks. Due to their density, the rocks stay hot for more than an hour and no oil is required in the process. The menu at The Stone Place At The Feathers pub restaurant consists of a choice of beef, lamb, scallops, prawns or tuna, served with chips and salad. Angell said: “We wanted to create an extraordinary dining experience, something quite theatrical, within the informality of a village pub. SteakStones gives you the opportunity to cook your meat and fish exactly as you like and is such fun at the same time. All cuts of red meat are lean. Not only is it a healthier way to dine, it also ensures the meat doesn’t smoke while it is being seared on the SteakStones.” The Stone Place At The Feathers seats 56 diners and is open daily from 11am to 11pm.

EasyCoffee secures Leicester Square site: Budget airline EasyJet has secured a third site for its low-cost coffee concept, EasyCoffee, with a third London site in Leicester Square. Agent Davis Coffer Lyons has secured a deal on behalf of the landlord – The Trustees for the Charity of the Society of Mary at Notre Dame de France – for a new 15-year lease at a rent of £95,000 per annum exclusive. The 308 square foot A3 kiosk is located between Bella Italia and the Metra Night Club, alongside the Vue Cinema. It has a late 2.30am licence, Friday to Sunday. EasyJet has outlined plans for as many as 30 coffee shops over the next two years, and already operates sites in Oxford Street and at Earls Court. The company stresses low costs and £1 coffee and espresso drinks through the EasyCoffee brand, which has partnered with Peoples Coffee, a business operated by Nathan Lowry. Davis Coffer Lyons director Rob Meadows said: “Leicester Square is London’s busiest leisure focal point with 18 million tourists and Londoners passing through each year. There is a good deal of new development planned for the locality and we have recently seen a number of new deals enabling leisure operators to grow their portfolios there, including Shake Shack, Burger & Lobster, and Japanese ramen restaurant Kanada-Ya.” The company said at the launch of its coffee venture this year: “Just when we feared we were reaching peak hipster coffee, with cold-press and cortados usurping cappuccinos and a £4 latte the norm, along comes Sir Stelios (EasyJet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou) to tear up the rulebook.”

St Michaels Hotel and Spa set for £6m investment: St Michaels Hotel and Spa in Falmouth has unveiled plans for a £6m investment programme and begun the search for a new managing director. Work on the venue will start in October, with both the spa and health club more than doubling in size and becoming separate units linked by a “wellness walkway”. In the main hotel, an open plan reception, bar, lounge and dining area will be provided in the public spaces and the Flying Fish restaurant will be fully refurbished and extended, with the addition of a sea-facing terrace. The Falmouth Beach Hotel “Croft site”, which survived a fire in 2012, will be redeveloped to provide an additional 32 bedrooms and suites. Four eco woodland spa lodges will be created in the St Michaels spa gardens, offering accommodation for up to four people, with private decks, hot tubs and exclusive spa access. A new managing director is also set to be appointed, with owner Nigel Carpenter becoming chairman and concentrating on developments beyond St Michaels. Carpenter said: “Now is the right time in our development to seek an experienced managing director to take St Michaels to the next level. The new £6m investment will be transformational and make St Michaels one of the top destination resorts in the whole south west.”

Plans lodged for leisure scheme in Chester to include restaurants: Plans have been lodged to redevelop the Northgate area of Chester city centre, creating about 500,000 square feet of new retail, restaurant and leisure facilities and generating more than 1,000 jobs. A planning application for the Chester Northgate Scheme has been submitted on behalf of Cheshire West and Chester Council. It is envisaged the project would be delivered over two construction phases. Phase one, forecast to start in autumn 2017, would involve the development of two restaurants within the shell of the library building, a new market hall replacing the current Chester Market, a six-screen cinema, and a 167-bedroom, four-star hotel and conference centre as a replacement for the Crowne Plaza Hotel which, together with the Forum and several other buildings, would be demolished in 2019. Work would then begin on the second phase of construction to create the main retail offer, department store and residential areas.

Gastro-pub operator takes regional managing director role at Macdonald Hotels: Former gastro-pub operator Andrew Coggings has become regional managing director for Macdonald Hotels & Resorts. He will be overseeing four of the group’s 48 hotels – the Macdonald Frimley Hall Hotel & Spa in Camberley, Macdonald Compleat Angler in Marlow, Macdonald Berystede Hotel & Spa in Ascot, and Macdonald Windsor Hotel, all of which are four-star. He joins Macdonald Hotels after a decade running his own hospitality businesses, Stanford Inns and Kitchenware Restaurants, in Brighton between 2006 and 2016. He said: “I am truly enjoying being back in the hotel industry and to be working with a dynamic group such as Macdonald Hotels. The group and I have a shared interest in sustainability and that’s something I intend to build on at my hotels. My experience of working in five-star hotels internationally is ideally suited to the Macdonald portfolio of hotels in my region around the M25.” Robert Cook, chief operating officer at Macdonald Hotels, added: “Andrew is a great addition to our senior management team. The hotels in his region are extremely popular. Each hotel is very different and Andrew will be able to bring out the very best characteristics of each. Andrew has a fantastic focus on customer service, quality and staff motivation – the perfect qualities for our business.”

Multi-site operator opens family-focused curry house in Bolton town centre: Vignesh Patel, who owns two Little Italy pizza takeaway venues in Bolton, has opened a family-focused curry house in the town centre. The K-Lounge restaurant and bar in Mawdsley Street is a joint venture with Patel’s cousin Amit, with Amit’s father Kanu in the kitchen. The cousins have pumped £80,000 into the underground unit that used to house Carbon Bar. The restaurant also offers a speciality Indo-Chinese menu and features an extensive bar and outdoor area. Vignesh Patel told The Bolton News: “When we were growing up we just loved eating food made by Uncle K (Kanu). We were fascinated by it and always talked of one day opening our own restaurant. We have called it K-lounge in his honour – the food he used to make us and the food we are bringing to the people of Bolton is made from the heart. We can see there is a big improvement taking place in Bolton town centre, with developments such as Market Place, the cinema and the transport interchange, so we wanted to be part of that.”

Tahola launches new website emphasising focus on hospitality industry: Business analytics company Tahola has launched a new website to emphasise its focus on the hospitality industry. The enhanced look and feel of the website demonstrates Tahola’s 16-year experience in the hospitality industry by showcasing a breakdown of its bespoke product and service offering, including a blog providing insight and news from the world of data mixology. To celebrate the launch, Tahola is holding a competition on its website offering two days of free analysis to one UK hospitality business to demonstrate the power of analytics through performance insight dashboards. Commercial director Simon Blackbourne said: “We have developed the website to be tailored to a customer’s needs, helping them understand exactly what is possible with their data and which of our range of resources will provide amazing analytics results. We have chosen to launch our new look with a competition because we want to show one operator, who may never have considered analysing their data before, the power data can provide without the financial outlay.”

New £8m leisure development in Thetford featuring five restaurants set for completion in October: A new £8m leisure development in Thetford, Norfolk, which includes five restaurants, is set to be completed in October. The 41,000 square foot Thetford Riverside scheme, which is a joint venture between Breckland Council and The Land Group, will be anchored by a three-screen The Light cinema and also feature a 62-bedroom Travelodge hotel. The five restaurant units range from 1,300 square feet to 3,750 square feet and agent Francis Darrah Chartered Surveyors said it was in “advanced discussions” with a number of interested national restaurant chains. The development is in the centre of Thetford, adjacent to the Little Ouse river, with direct links to the main shopping area via a footbridge. Breckland Council deputy leader Sam Chapman-Allen said: “This project represents significant investment in Thetford and demonstrates our commitment to supporting its growth and vibrancy. When complete, Thetford Riverside will deliver excellent leisure facilities to the growing number of residents, businesses and visitors.”

Rotherham-based Wentworth Brewery ceases trading after difficulties with tax commitments: Rotherham-based Wentworth Brewery has ceased trading following difficulties with its tax commitments. The company is a commercial tenant on the Wentworth Estate and Jeremy Bleazard, of XL Business Solutions, has convened a meeting of creditors, a precursor to his appointment as liquidator. He told The Business Desk: “The brewery has experienced a difficult trading period, due mainly to issues associated with meeting its duty and tax commitments. Prior to these issues the brewery had operated viably.” West Yorkshire-based chartered surveyor Walker Singleton has been appointed to advise on the sale of assets. Daniel Hey, of Walker Singleton, said: “Significant investment has been committed to the installation of both the brewery and bottling plant. The brewery has benefited from the support and association of the Wentworth Estate, not just in its name. As landlords, the Estate has indicated a willingness to talk to prospective tenants over continued occupancy of the property, which opens the opportunity for an astute buyer who recognises the current resurgence and demand for craft ales to acquire a ‘turn-key’ brewery.”

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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