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Mon 13th Jun 2016 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day: 

Luke Johnson – ‘there are plentiful signs the party is over’: Sector investor Luke Johnson has argued there are “plentiful signs that the party is over” as asset bubbles burst. In his Management Today column, he wrote: “There are already plentiful signs that all manner of asset price bubbles are popping. Posh apartment prices are falling everywhere from New York to London and Hong Kong to Shanghai. In many ways, the world’s stock markets have had a more volatile start to 2016 than any year on record. The IPO market is the worst since 2009. The hedge fund industry is in disarray, as institutional investors withdraw money at an increasing pace. Mutual funds are hurriedly writing down the valuations of their so-called ‘Unicorn’ technology holdings. Commodity prices mostly remain close to multi-year lows. And all these declines are taking place while interest rates are stuck at all-time lows. It does appear as if this party is over. The rollercoaster has started its descent, and the slump will probably gather pace in the coming months. This should come as no surprise to those who believe in cycles, or indeed history. Unfortunately too many entrepreneurs and investors follow Henry Ford’s dictum, ‘History is more or less bunk... We want to live in the present, and the only history that’s worth a tinker’s damn is the history we make today.’ I’m always disappointed at how few business builders pay any attention to the lessons from the past. Just as economic cycles are inevitable, so the same follies are duplicated by capitalists each time. Success inevitably leads to hubris and misallocation of resources. Each era has its geniuses who are revealed as buffoons, or heroes who are exposed as crooks. Too few founders listen to those who have seen it before, and remember how it went wrong. Too few bankers read history books, and from them learn the mistakes of last time. Of course, each turn brings forth marvellous innovations and real progress – but somehow the process feels amazingly wasteful. I suppose that is all part of the creative destruction, which is the essence of entrepreneurship.” 
 

Industry News:

Michelin-starred chef ditches fine dining because it is ‘alienating customers’: Michelin-starred chef Richard Turner is axing fine dining because he thinks it “alienates” customers. Turner, of Turners Restaurant in Birmingham, claimed the trend towards tasting menus and formal service was a “big turn-off” for diners, while the large number of chain restaurants opening in the city had left a “huge gap in the middle market”. Turner said he wanted to escape the “straitjacket” of elaborate tasting menus and would radically revamp his three AA Rosette venue, which has held a Michelin star since 2009. The restaurant offers a ten-course tasting menu for £90 but Turner plans to radically overhaul the menu to focus on classic dishes, while he will also extend the venue’s opening hours. He told the Birmingham Mail: “Birmingham is well served by Michelin-starred restaurants, but there is a huge gap in the middle market for great-quality food. The city has been a victim of its own success in attracting chain restaurants, many of them churning out food of dubious quality. Frankly, I think tasting menus put a lot of people off. I have hugely valued the (Michelin) guide’s support over the years and will continue to abide by my food philosophy. It’s just that I will be delivering my food in a simplified way. Our new-look restaurant will open for more hours, serving the best produce available, at competitive prices. At the end of the day, customers just want great food, value and a friendly, welcoming service. It’s as simple as that.”
 
Former banking hall in St James’s to be converted to high-end restaurant: A former banking hall in St James’s, London, is to be converted into a new high-end restaurant. Colliers International is targeting upmarket operators to rent the 8,600 square foot space in the basement, ground-floor and mezzanine levels of the building at 7-10 Waterloo Place. The grade II-listed property also contains 33,000 square feet of office space above the hall. Owner Cornerstone Real Estate Advisers bought the building for £35m in 2014, and gained planning permission for the conversion of the banking hall from Westminster City Council last year. Cornerstone’s director of UK asset management Ian Mayhew said he was “confident” the guide price of £500,000 a year would be exceeded. He told Property Week: “We think we can piggyback on what The Crown Estate is doing in the St James’s area. It is about halfway through its ten-year master plan, which is all about getting the right tenant mix and improving the public realm.” The refurbishment is expected to be complete in the first quarter of 2017, with marketing of the office space set to begin later this year.
 
HIT Training executive chairman, Love Drinks founder recognised in Queen’s Birthday Honours list: HIT Training executive chairman John Hyde has been awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for his services to apprenticeships in hospitality and care. Hyde, who will be presented with his award at a ceremony at Buckingham Palace later in the year, has been recognised for his work in the further education and training sectors. He has more than 30 years’ experience in worked-based learning for the hospitality industry, including instrumental roles in the foundation of the work-based learning trade association for the largest training providers in the UK. He also established two of the most successful providers in the sector. The most recent, HIT Training, which he co-founded with Jill Whittaker and which is the largest supplier of training and apprenticeships in the hospitality and care sectors, celebrated its tenth anniversary in May. It has steadily grown and has supported more than 100,000 learners and apprentices at more than 22,000 employer sites. Meanwhile, businesswoman Kirsty Loveday has been recognised for her innovative work in services to the drinks industry. Loveday, 37, set up Love Drinks in 2007 and has seen the business develop year on year, achieving a turnover circa £6m accompanied by exponential profit growth. She has been awarded the British Empire Medal placing her amongst the elite of the industry in recognition of their contribution to the sector. Her expertise in identifying and selecting premium drinks ripe for development, has resulted in reinvigorated brands that have emerged as market leaders, many of which are at the forefront of drink trends.
 
Institute of Licensing to launch National Licensing Week this month: The Institute of Licensing (IoL) is launching the first National Licensing Week (NLW) this month. The introduction of what will become an annual licensing week is aimed at generally raising awareness of licensing and the important role it plays in everyday life. The IoL is inviting stakeholders to take part including members of the National Licensing Forum, the Gambling Commission, local licensing authorities and the licensed trade and other interested organisations. The theme for the 2016 NLW will be “Licensing is Everywhere” and will run from 20 to 24 June. The event will include regulator and trade job swaps. A new website has been set up for the NLW (www.nationallicensingweek.org) to be used to generate awareness of the NLW but also to publish local stories, blogs and pictures to showcase what the nation is doing to promote and raise awareness of licensing. Daniel Davies, IoL chairman, said: “The IoL is pleased to launch the first ever National Licensing Week as part of the Institute’s 20 years’ celebration activities. The week’s activities will highlight the importance that licensing plays in pubic protection and will raise public awareness of the many ways licensing touches people’s lives and everyday activities.”
 

Company News:

Simon Emeny – ‘residential developments provide us with good opportunity’, plans £40m investment in estate: Fuller’s chief executive Simon Emeny has told Propel opening more pubs on residential developments provides a good opportunity for the group, while it plans to invest £40m in the estate in this financial year. The company opened a site, The Sail Loft, at the new Greenwich Reach development on the banks of the River Thames in London in February, which Emeny said was an “outstanding” scheme. He added the company was always looking to grow the portfolio and newbuild pubs on residential estates were a way of doing so. He said: “London is changing with these new residential developments taking place in areas such as Hornsey. Greenwich Reach is an outstanding development in a growing area and we think there are more opportunities for the company with these types of developments. We will continue to look for opportunities to grow, whether that is in London or outside. More than 50% of our estate is outside of London.” Emeny said the company plans to invest £40m in the estate in this financial year, which includes carrying out “more major refurbishments”. He added: “We will be investing in our sites and our food to help attract new customers. These refurbishments have proved to be well received in the pubs we have done so far.” The company has also increased its share in the artisan pizza and cider brand The Stable by 25% – to 76%. It has three sites lined up to open this year – at Kew Riverside in London, along with Exeter and Bournemouth, which will take the brand to 17 venues. Emeny added discussions were taking place on further sites but no pipeline was in place at the current time. He said hotels remained a successful and important part of the business and it was continuing to look at adding more rooms to the estate. He added: “We will continue to invest in the business going forward to deliver the best possible service to our customers.”
 
TGI Fridays UK reports pre-tax profit of £20.3m: TGI Fridays has reported record pre-tax profit of £20.3m in the year after it was acquired by Electra Partners. Sales increased by 9.1% to £190.3m with Ebitda up to £30.1m pre-exceptional items. Like-for-like sales rose by 1.1%. The company stated: “During the period, the company opened six new sites and all recent acquisitions are performing in line with expectations.”
 
Firebrand Brewing Co has crowdfunding campaign cancelled over EIS eligibility: Cornwall-based Firebrand Brewing Co has had its crowdfunding campaign cancelled after being denied EIS eligibility. The company, founded by Joe Thomson and Stephen Medlicott in 2008, managed to raise £140,360 from 238 investors on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube in return for a 20% equity stake. However, HMRC has denied EIS advanced assurance for the company, which has led to “significant cancellations” from investors that made the round unviable. A Crowdcube spokesman said: “The company has been discussing its eligibility under the EIS scheme with HMRC during the completions process. Unfortunately, following these discussions, HMRC denied EIS advanced assurance for the company, and this was disclosed to the crowd. This led to significant cancellations from investors, and these have resulted in the Crowdcube round becoming non-viable. The round and all investments have therefore been cancelled and no money will be taken.” Firebrand brewing Co had been raising the money to buy new equipment as it scales up to its next level of production. The funds were planned to commission its new 25BBL brewery, which it had already obtained on hire purchase, as well as further equipment and installation costs. They were also going to be used for working capital, as “meeting demand and stock shortfalls have been our biggest problem”.
 
Shepherd Neame buys eight Enterprise pubs: Shepherd Neame has exchanged contracts for the purchase of eight freehold pubs in Kent, Sussex and Surrey from Enterprise Inns that are operated under lease. The company stated: “Representatives from the company will be meeting with the licensees over the next few days to discuss transitional arrangements and future investment plans. These assets are all high quality pubs in line with our strategy to acquire sites with unique character in landmark or high profile locations, to invest in them to drive footfall and to develop the offer to enhance the customer experience.” It added: “In a separate transaction, Shepherd Neame has reached an agreement for five of its pubs, in Canterbury and Faversham, currently operated under tenancy by the successful company UES, owned and managed by Dan Sidders and Gareth Finney, to transfer to its managed estate. Dan and Gareth will join the managed head office team to develop these and other pubs further. Both these transactions are expected to complete within four weeks, and taken together, the company will invest £13.4m. Upon completion the total number of pubs will be 336, of which 59 will be operated under management and 270 as tenanted and leased and seven under commercial free of tie leases.” In the 49 weeks to 4 June 2016, like-for-like sales in managed houses were up 4.6% and like-for-like Ebitdar in the tenanted estate for the 48 weeks to 28th May was up 2.4%. Own beer volumes excluding contract were down 0.7%.
 
Mitchells & Butlers swaps Aylesbury Toby Carvery plan for Miller & Carter opening: Mitchells & Butlers has had a rethink over plans to build a Toby Carvery next to the Aylesbury Vale Parkway Station off Bicester Road. The company gained planning permission for a Toby Carvery earlier this year, but has now submitted proposals for a Miller & Carter steakhouse. The company recently reported it wants to expand its premium steakhouse brand Miller & Carter to 100 sites whilst shrinking Harvester and Toby Carvery to a core. In a statement to district planners, the firm said: “The proposed Miller & Carter steakhouse consists of a 174 cover restaurant with associated kitchens and service areas, 42 cover bar, an enclosed rear service yard and a 66 space car park. The Miller & Carter steakhouse is a distinctive brand with a dining emphasis. The brand identity is reinforced by a traditional building form and a sleek palette of materials.”

Liverpool votes Mowgli best new restaurant opening of past five years: Mowgli, founded by former barrister Nisha Katona, who attended last week’s Propel Investors and Operators dinner in the City of London, has been voted the favourite Liverpool restaurant opening of the past five years by Liverpool Echo readers. The newspaper stated: “If you fancy a curry and much more, Mowgli is an amazing authentic Indian food owned by former barrister Nisha Katona. There are a variety of dishes to choose from with great prices. Even better, Katona has revealed the site for her second Liverpool restaurant. Katona, who only opened her first site in Bold Street 18 months ago, has been so overwhelmed by demand that she has had to look for a second Liverpool site. Now the barrister and chef has her fingers crossed for a second site, just off Castle Street, one of the city’s hottest food quarters.” Katona said: “It’s very early days and it’s subject to planning, but we have found a preferred site in Water Street, where Optimax used to be. It’s a perfect space for us. We’d be able to take bookings and cater for larger groups – things we’d love to do on Bold Street but just aren’t able to do because it is so tiny. We are so very grateful for the support the people of Liverpool have given us. I know it’s been frustrating to have up to three hour waits for a table on a Saturday night, and we can’t thank people enough for being so patient with us.”
 
Byron submits plans for restaurant in Colchester: Better burger brand Byron, led by Tom Byng and backed by Hutton Collins, has lodged plans to open a restaurant in Colchester, Essex. The company has applied to Colchester Council to move to High Street on the site currently occupied by women’s fashion shop Oasis, which is looking to relocate, reports the Daily Gazette. It said the venue would create between 25 and 30 jobs and would open until 11.30pm, Monday to Thursday, midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, and 10pm on Sundays. A planning statement for Byron said a pattern was emerging across the country with shops preferring to locate in purpose-built units, while high streets attract restaurants and other non-retail outlets. Byron, which was founded in 2007, has 62 sites across the UK and currently plans to open at least ten new restaurants a year.

YO! Sushi founder to diversify into property market with Manchester flat plan: YO! Sushi founder Simon Woodroffe is set to diversify into the property market with the development of 24 modular apartments in Manchester. Woodroffe has formed YO! Home – an “intuitive living space” that has been designed by Glenn Howells Architects. The company has tabled plans with Manchester City Council, while SIG Building Systems has been appointed to build the New Islington scheme. The first prototype home was launched in London and the YO! team has since been working on turning the initial concept designs into a commercially viable product. If approved, the project would be built off-site by SIG. YO! Home director Glenn Howells told Insider Media: “It is an exciting time for YO! Home to launch this development at New lslington in Manchester and create such an innovative residential offer. Forming a distinctive landmark within the area, it will create homes that make efficient use of land and construction materials. We can see how this concept for living will be attractive in Manchester and that it can be widely applied to other cities around the world.” Woodroffe added: “Homes help shape our lives. They are our refuge, and our rock. Since the invention of the city centre apartment, we’ve never really reinvented it. YO! Home is that new invention.”

Revolution opens Revolución de Cuba site in Liverpool: Revolution Bars Group, the operator of 60 premium bars under the Revolution and Revolución de Cuba brands, has opened its latest site, this time in Liverpool. The Revolución de Cuba venue is in Albert Dock, a designated World Heritage site. The new 7,600 square foot venue is food-oriented and features an outdoor trading area. Revolution has invested £1.8m in the venue, which will employ about 100 staff. Mark McQuater, chief executive of Revolution Bars Group, told The Business Desk: “It is right on the dock, right by our existing Revolution bar, and it has a big outdoor area.” The company has recently opened a Revolution site in Stafford while a Revolución de Cuba due to launch in Reading in the autumn. In May, Reading Council cut the capacity of the Reading site by almost a quarter, from 650 to 500, and restricted weekend opening hours to 1am rather than 2.30am after objections by police and the council’s licensing officer. Revolution already has planning permission for the new bar, in a former HMV store.

Distinct Group opens fifth site, in Islington: North London-based Distinct Group has open its fifth site, this time in Islington. The company has launched The Edward Lear on the site of The Quays pub in Holloway Road having bought the property from independent operator Finbar Holian earlier this year. The 6,500 square foot grade II-listed venue is set over two storeys and has capacity for more than 400 people. It offers a food menu, including breakfast at weekends, as well an extensive wine list and a selection of ales, cider, lagers, cocktails and craft beers. Marketing manager Aaron Carter told the Islington Tribune: “People were worried we might be a posh gastro-pub, but we’re not. It’s just a lovely pub where you can get some food.” Distinct Group recently extended its portfolio by acquiring the 76-bedroom Cromwell Hotel in Stevenage town centre – its first site outside the capital. It also operates the Prince Albert in Camden, the Adam & Eve in Mill Hill Village, and the Three Compasses in Hornsey.

Greater Manchester multi-siter to open third venue: Greater Manchester-based multi-site operator Nick Howcroft is to open the third site for his restaurant and bar brand Henighans. Howcroft plans to transform the former Three Pigeons pub in the village of Astley Bridge into his latest venue. He is also building seven apartments at the back of the Georgian building in Blackburn Road. Howcroft aims to complete the apartments side of the project by the autumn with the restaurant and bar, which will feature an orangery entrance, opening in 2017. He told The Bolton News: “The first job is to get those apartments finished, which we hope to do by October. We will then start properly on the restaurant and bar in the new year, but I want to do it right because I want this place to be extra special. There is no point in spending this amount of money unless we make this an iconic venue at the gateway to Astley Bridge, and that will take a bit of time.” Howcroft’s other Henighans sites are in Ainsworth and Little Lever.

Michelin-trained brothers to expand catering business by opening London restaurant: Michelin-trained brothers Bledi and Rigels Tufa will start expansion of their Con Gusto Catering company by opening a restaurant in London. In addition to luxury catering services the brothers, who are native Italians, also provide personal chef services and are well-established within London’s fine dining scene. Now the Tufas plan to open a restaurant in Woolwich, south east London. The small, 18-cover venue will feature many dishes from their catering menu as well as a full wine and beer list. The menu is likely to feature innovative dishes combined with a traditional Italian rustic approach. Bledi Tufa told PR Web: “We grill our meat and fish on a robata grill and then lightly season. This approach brings flavour from the wood and smoke instead of the seasoning. One thing we have tried to do is approach catering and dining with a new minimalist paradigm that focuses attention on flavours and presentation.”

Flying Pig & Lobster to open second pub this month, appoints new operations director: Flying Pig & Lobster, which is owned by Revolution founders Roy Ellis and Neil McLeod and celebrity chef Simon Rimmer, will open its second pub later this month. The company, which owns The Elephant Pub & Bakehouse in Woolton Village, is launching The Viking Pub & Bakehouse in West Kirby, Wirral, on the site of the former Hilltop pub. It will open on Friday, 24 June following a £1.1m refurbishment, creating 60 jobs. The pub name and design is inspired by West Kirby’s Viking heritage – originally “Kirkjubyr” meaning “village with a church”. Scandinavian design is rooted in its connection to nature and natural materials. Research trips to Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Iceland provided the team with references to give The Viking an authentic Scandinavian feel. There is even a clinker built 25-foot Viking Long Boat in the garden complete with oars and shields. The Viking provides internal dining for 160, a public bar area, 60-cover dining terrace, 70 garden covers and a function room for up to 60. More unusual features include a free photo booth, a children’s cinema room, boules court and table tennis. The food offer is also inspired by Scandinavia and the Nordic regions with an emphasis on fresh fish and dishes such as sweetheart waffles and smorgasbord’s for family sharing. The Viking bakers will be baking speciality breads including cranberry rye, focaccia and house sourdough. Locals will be able to purchase fresh cooked bread to take home daily. The pub will serve Budweiser Budvar fresh tank beer, which will be stored in giant copper barrels and the first fresh tank beer on the Wirral. There will also be cask ales, Scandinavian craft and imported German beers, cider, artisan blended soft drinks, fresh juices and an eclectic wine list developed by Boutinot Wines. Charlotte Kemp, who has joined the company as operations director, said: “In Woolton we took our first steps towards our vision which is make our pubs the centre of community life. We want our pubs to be the best for miles around offering memorable homemade food, brews, cocktails, coffee and entertainment. Knowledgeable, warm, friendly service is our top priority.”

Bernardi’s owners open The Dog House basement cocktail bar: Gabriel and Marcello Bernardi, former executives of central London gastro-pub operator Cubitt House, have opened cocktail bar The Dog House underneath their Marylebone restaurant Bernardi’s. The cocktail bar has a “playful, relaxed look and feel, decorated in a rich colour palette of dark greys and blues to contrast with the light and airy feel of the upstairs restaurant”, The Handbook reports. Access to the new bar is via the restaurant or a separate entrance in Seymour Place, with the space featuring banquette seating around the walls and a number of smaller, more intimate tables, as well as stools at the bar. The 120-cover restaurant and bar Bernardi’s offers a seasonal Italian menu, with dishes including tarragon gnocchi with rabbit ragu, broad beans and pancetta, and salted cod with white polenta, peperonata and sorrel. The Bernardis, who are of Italian descent but born and raised in Melbourne, Australia, played a key role in the establishment and success of the Cubitt House group.

Zenith Hygiene Group reports revenue passes £50m, profit before tax more than doubles: Zenith Hygiene Group, the supplier of cleaning and hygiene products to the sector, has seen revenue pass the £50m mark and its pre-tax profit more than double. The company reported revenue grew 8.4% to £53.2m for the year ended 29 February 2016, compared with £49.1m the year before. Profit before tax climbed 104% to £2.8m, compared with £1.4m the previous year while Ebitda was up 48.3% to £4.9m, compared with £3.3m the year before. Chief executive Ringo Francis said: “We are delighted to have reported another record year, delivering substantial operational and financial progress. This is the fifth consecutive year of profitable growth for our business, with profit before tax up 104% to £2.8m. The progress Zenith Hygiene has made over recent years, combined with our long-term strategy, ensures we are well positioned for the future. Our vision is simple; to provide quality UK-manufactured cleaning products and hygiene solutions to our customers, with a strong adherence to placing our customers at the heart of our strategy. As we enter a new financial year, we will continue to seek opportunities to expand our business through selective acquisitions, organic growth and international expansion. The board remains confident we will continue to deliver consistently top and bottom line growth in FY17.”

Lollipop launches London’s first naked restaurant, waiting list tops 46,000: Lollipop – the company behind last year’s Breaking Bad-inspired bar ABQ – has opened pop-up naked restaurant The Bunyadi, which has built up a waiting list of more than 46,000 since the concept was announced in April. The candlelit venue has no electric lights, while phones are banned. Dishes are cooked in wood-flame grills and served on hand-made clay crockery with edible cutlery. However, customers are not forced to dine naked. Lollipop founder Seb Lyall told The Spirits Business: “We believe people should get the chance to enjoy and experience a night out without impurities – no chemicals, no artificial colours, no electricity, no gas, no phone and even no clothes if they wish. The idea is to experience true liberation.” Gowns, changing rooms and lockers are provided at the 42-cover restaurant, which will be open for three months. Bunyadi is a Hindi word meaning “fundamental, base and natural”.
 
New pizza concept Zia Lucia opens in Islington: A new pizza restaurant concept has launched in Islington, north London. Claudio Vescovo and Gianluca D’Angelo have opened Zia Lucia, which translates as “Auntie Lucia”, in Holloway Road. The wood-fired pizzas feature fresh, classic Italian toppings, all available on the four types of dough that are slowly fermented for 48 hours – a traditional flour dough, a vegetable charcoal black base, wholemeal, and one made without gluten. The menu will continuously evolve to include new doughs, while it will also feature white pizzas with unusual toppings such as pecorino cheese, truffle honey, asparagus, spicy orange sauce, and toasted almonds. Alongside the pizzas, the menu features a selection of Italian-style starters, salads and desserts, Foodpedia reports. The drinks menu focuses on spritzers, negronis, bottled beers from Italy and locally brewed in London, and wine and prosecco sourced from small Italian producers.
 
Pizza Hut revamps website: Pizza Hut has revamped its website in an effort to let customers know the company is about more than just pizza. The company has already launched a new television and display advertising campaign to promote its extended range of food and drinks and, following the push, turned to long-term digital partner Amaze to translate this to its online offering. Aimed at millennials, the new site intends to respond to the increasing competition in the casual dining market with the objective of boosting brand image and driving commercial revenue, reports The Drum. The site offers a personalised user experience. For example, once a location is selected it can display tailored offers as well as restaurant and menu information relevant to a customer’s nearest Pizza Hut. Given menus and price points can differ. Amaze has also helped to develop and launch Pizza Hut’s new loyalty app, which allows customers to book tables, order takeaway from the restaurant and collect rewards when dining in. Rewards include free sides or pizza after three and six visits respectively, while additional offers such as free desserts and money-off vouchers are also available.
 
Wyn Ellis – Fuller’s offers ‘quality and authenticity’: Numis Securities leisure analyst Wyn Ellis has said Fuller’s offers “quality and authenticity”. Issuing an ‘Add’ note on the shares with a target price of 1,200p following the company’s full-year results, Ellis said: “Full-year adjusted profit before tax rose 12% to £40.9m, nicely ahead of our forecast of £39.5m, with earnings up 13% to 58.4p. The total dividend is up 8% to 17.9p. There was a 4.8% rise in managed like-for-like sales and a 2% increase in tenanted like-for-like profits, which was ahead of the market. Total beer and cider volumes were down by 1%, but profits were maintained. We are increasing our FY17E profit before tax forecast by 3% to £42.9m. Managed pub/hotel like-for-like sales rose 4.8% (versus a 6.3% comparable), with food up 6.9% and strong growth in premium wine and coffee. Margins improved 70bps to 13.0%. Accommodation continues to play a key role, but trading has been impacted by a drop in London tourism and a more competitive market. Tenanted like-for-like profits were up 2% and average Ebitda per pub increased by 2% to £83,000. Brewing revenue rose by 5% to £126.8m, beer and cider volumes were down by 1% but Ebit was flat at £7.6m, reflecting a strategic change in mix to more premium products. The craft beer range was extended with growth in sales and distribution of Oliver’s Island, Frontier Craft Lager and Cornish Orchards Cider. Fuller’s acquired five new pubs, opened one newbuild and purchased three existing freeholds. In addition, record levels of investment in the existing estate is generating strong returns. Six new ‘Stable’ (craft cider and gourmet pizza) sites were opened in the year and this acquisition continues to flourish. In current trading, managed like-for-likes are up by 2.7% in the first ten weeks, with tenanted like-for-like profits down 2%; this reflects tough comparables, Easter and a particularly poor April. May was better. Total beer and cider volumes are down 5%, reflecting the loss of sales to Spirit (Greene King). Record investment is planned for the existing estate in FY17 and management believes it is ‘well-positioned for the future, with a solid, proven long-term business model and strong balance sheet’. It has been another successful year for Fuller’s and, whilst trading conditions at the start of FY17 are more challenging, we believe the company is well placed to continue its excellent record of profitable growth. The market place is changing, with an increasingly demanding consumer looking for quality and authenticity. Fuller’s is well placed to meet these demands, with a management team committed to innovation, investment and staying ahead of the game.”
 
Amber Taverns invests £1m to open Burton pub that pay homage to brewing heritage of town: Amber Taverns has invested £1m in opening a pub in Burton. The company has converted a run-down venue in High Street, formerly known as the Uber Rooms, into the Prince of Brewers. Lee Wolstenholme, who oversees refurbishments for Amber Taverns, told the Burton Mail: “We have spent £1m here and invested into this site. That has created 25 jobs for local people in the community. What we like to do is take on sites which have failed and turn them around and the place is looking great.” Outside there is a large beer garden and sitting room decorated with memories of Burton’s brewing history. That trend continues inside with Bass and Ind Coope memorabilia decorating the walls. Wolstenholme added the decor was paying “homage” to the heritage of Burton.
 
Planet India owner opens ‘grown-up’ sister branch: A vegetarian Indian restaurant has launched a “grown-up” sister branch to cope with its growing popularity. The new branch of Planet India in Third Avenue is located in Hove and at 80 covers is twice the size of its popular cafe in Brighton. Owner Nilesh Rupani said: “People love the food because it’s simple and honest. It’s not flash or fancy but it is very tasty. The new restaurant serves familiar food in a new setting. I wouldn’t say it’s upmarket but it’s a bit more grown up. There aren’t really any funky vegetarian or vegan specialist restaurants in Hove, so I think we’ll do well.” The small menu includes regional dishes such as Mumbai potato curry, peas and paneer, tarka dall and masoor dall. The Brighton branch opened in 2008 in Richmond Place, and before that it was in Preston Street for three years.
 
Five restaurant brands heading for Bristol, including one making UK debut: Five restaurant brands are set to open new venues in Bristol this summer, four of them in Cabot Circus shopping centre, with the majority making their debut in the city and, in one case, the UK. Three brands will open in Quakers Friars, a piazza within Cabot Circus set against the backdrop of a 13th century Dominican Friary building that houses Brasserie Blanc. They are French brasserie Cote, international Italian restaurant group Carluccio’s, which has taken a 278 square metre unit, and Austria-based pasta-pizza concept L’Osteria, which will open its first UK site in a 624 square metre unit. Handmade Burger Co will make its Bristol debut in a 510 square metre unit next to PizzaExpress on the shopping centre’s first level, while all-you-can-eat Brazilian Rodizio concept Casa Brasil will make its debut in the south west at a 300 square metre unit on the same level. Meanwhile Itsu, the healthy Asian food chain created by Pret A Manger co-founder Julian Metcalfe, will also debut in the city, with a 311 square metre unit in the nearby Broadmead shopping centre. Cabot Circus is jointly owned and operated by Hammerson on behalf of the Bristol Alliance.
 
Tiffin opens ‘world class’ catering company on Clevedon Pier: The owner of Tiffin has opened a “world class” fish restaurant on Clevedon Pier. Tiffin, which also owns a cafe in The Beach, has unveiled Tiffin @ The Pier inside the new visitor centre that was officially opened last week. The venue will boast two menus, one during the pier’s opening hours when visitors will be able to take their food and drink along the promenade and one during the evening. Nick Wring, Tiffin owner, said: “In the evening it is almost world class – you sit in a unique environment eating some of the best seafood in Somerset. We have this unique location where you can stroll down to the end of the pier and back.” Diners will be able to enjoy freshly caught fish delivered three times a week from Cornwall as well as a wide selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. Tiffin has also opened a cafe in the pier’s pagoda and has plans to use it as a prosecco bar during evenings from July.
 
Bombas & Parr to launch ‘world’s biggest jelly stall’ in Harrods: Food art studio Bombas & Parr is going “back to its roots” by opening “the world’s biggest jelly stall” at Harrods. The jelly stall, which opens on Wednesday, 29 June, will feature all manner of jelly flavours, including marbled coral with Johnnie Walker Gold Reserve whiskey and raspberry jelly cubes, Chartreuse and peach, yellow gage plum with Harrods Riesling, and Champagne with summer fruits and a violet elderflower set with fresh blueberries. The jelly moulds are 3D-printed copies of items in the National Trust’s Castle Drogo collection. For every jelly sold, Bombas & Parr will donate 10p to the restoration of Castle Drogo, a grade I-listed country house in Devon designed by architect Edward Lutyen. A Bompas & Parr spokesperson told Hot Dinners: “We set up the company in 2007 with the explicit aim of having a jelly stall but we totally failed, until now!”
 
Plan for Premier inn, Brewers Fayre and KFC drive-thru in Skegness submitted after positive consultation: Developer KCS said it received a “positive” response to a pre-application consultation on plans for an 80-bedroom Premier Inn with Brewers Fayre and a KFC drive-thru, located at Pier Field in Skegness, which it said could create 90 year-round jobs in the area. Plans have now been submitted to East Lindsay District Council, which will undertake its own consultation on the proposals later this summer. Director at KCS Richard Morton, who is leading the development proposals, said: “More than 50% of the respondents believed that Pier Field is a suitable location for a new leisure development and 62% believed that the new hotel, Brewers Fayre and KFC would support the local economy.”
 
New Polish restaurant concept launches in Cheshunt: New concept The Polish Kitchen has opened in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire – the first Polish restaurant in the town. Mirek Bogusz moved to the UK with wife Monika in 2004 and grew frustrated at the lack of Polish food served in restaurants. Now, he has taken matters into his own hands. He told the Hertfordshire Mercury: “We’ll be making all the best Polish recipes using fresh meat and vegetables, including hearty stews, dumplings and a good deal of meat, particularly pork.” The restaurant in Turners Hill is open daily for breakfast until 8pm.
 
Craig Brew joins Polaris: Craig Brew has joined Polaris Data as new business manager – he has more than 25 years’ hands-on business experience and been involved in finance, outdoor leisure, FMCG and hospitality sectors. “Polaris is delighted that Craig will be joining the team as new business manager,” said Neil Westwater, director at Polaris. “Craig has held a number of senior positions across various sectors including hospitality and brings a wealth of skills and experience that will be invaluable in driving our ambitious expansion plans within the UK hospitality market.”
 
Masseria Group starts expansion of Ostuni restaurant brand with second London opening: Masseria Group, which operates cafes, gastro-pubs and retail spaces in north west London, including The Salusbury and The Chamberlayne, has expanded its Italian restaurant brand Ostuni by opening a second site, this time in Highgate. The debut Ostuni launched in Queens Park in 2013, with the venue being the capital’s first restaurant “dedicated entirely to the cuisine and wines of Puglia”. The new 95-cover Ostuni in Hampstead Lane focuses on “fresh, premium ingredients sourced directly from Italy’s in-the-heel region to create classic Puglian dishes”. Main courses feature Puglian pastas such as orecchiette maritate braciole as well as simple dishes prepared on the fornello pronto stone oven. Bombettes (Puglian street-food snacks) will also be on offer, including fresh capocollo of Puglian pork, thinly sliced, seasoned and wrapped around provolone cheese, skewered and roasted in the fornello. Desserts are “simple, familiar and flavoursome”, such as tiramisu and semifreddo with bitter orange and chocolate almond. The drinks list is strong on Puglian table wines, alongside barolos from Piedmont, brunellos from Tuscany, and pinot piancos from Friuli, as well as cocktails. Ostuni is open daily from midday to 10.30pm.
 
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. 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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