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Fri 17th Jun 2016 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

UK nightclub company boss to launch joint venture with chef Ferran Adria and Cirque du Soleil in Ibiza tonight: The boss of a UK nightclub operator, Tokyo Industries is to launch a joint venture with Cirque Du Soleil and super chef Ferran Adria at HEART in Ibiza tonight. The €5m project is part performance, part Michelin grade restaurant, part club. It is located in Ibiza’s only five star hotel the Ibiza Grand and is described by Cirque du Soleil’s Guy Laliberte as ‘a laboratory of experiences and art’. Aaron Mellor, managing director of 32-strong bar and nightclub operator Tokyo Industries, will launch his Studio 54 concept club night Boogie In Wonderland at HEART Ibiza tonight (Friday, 17 June) as part of the project. The concept incorporates music, art, fashion, performance and technology set to the soundtrack of 1970s and 1980s New York City. Boogie In Wonderland, which will take place every Friday night until the end of September, promises a night where “celebs mingle casually with clubbers and where performance art is as much a part of the night as dancing”. Mellor, a former DJ at iconic Manchester club The Hacienda, said: “Ibiza has every big DJ on the planet playing here. HEART Ibiza is too small to compete at that level so needs a different position. HEART is an incredible space with the very best technology and the world’s best performers from its Cirque Du Soleil connection. We wanted to create something that wasn’t DJ-led but more about fashion, art and performance. We also wanted to create a space for an older market – Ibiza is ageing, the people who have been partying on this island for the past 15 years no longer want to be jostled on an overpacked dancefloor. Restaurants in Ibiza are booming – but where does the party move on to when the restaurant closes? It’s interesting to take the 1970s disco element of Studio 54 but when you add the counter-culture art of Andy Warhol’s loft parties it opens up so much more creativity, mixing fashion with art, performance with video production. HEART is a live dining experience that journeys into the energy of a club and you can hop on or hop off the experience as you choose.” 

Industry News:

Uber launches food delivery service in London, plans expansion to other UK cities: Uber has launched its food delivery service UberEats in London, extending the company’s reach in the UK beyond its car booking app for the first time. UberEats sells food from 150 restaurants that do not typically deliver in central London via a network of bicycle and moped couriers. The launch of the service represents the latest expansion of the rapidly growing start-up, which has spread to 20 UK cities since arriving in London in 2012 and hundreds of cities globally. The UberEats service uses a new iPhone and Android app but connects to the same credit card account as the Uber car service does. Users are then able to browse the menus of local restaurants and order food to be delivered to their location, determined by GPS. It plans to sell food from a wider range of restaurants than the curry and pizza establishments that define the traditional British takeaway, including salad and sandwich bars, and its 11am to 11pm hours make the service a target for lunch as well as dinner. Uber is entering a crowded market for food delivery but plans to win customers by offering guaranteed delivery within 30 minutes and not charging delivery fees during an introductory period. Alex Czarnecki, general manager of UberEats in London, said: “I think people will come to UberEats for the same reasons they come to Uber in the first place. This is going to be significantly faster than competitors.” The launch in London follows cities in the US and Canada as well as Melbourne, Singapore and Paris. The service will initially launch in London’s Zone 1 but expand outwards. Czarnecki said it planned to extend to Zones 2 to 4 as well as other UK cities in the coming months. The rating system of the Uber car app, which the company uses to weed out bad drivers, will be replicated for couriers and restaurants. Customers will be able to give a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” on the delivery service and individual items on restaurant menus.

Disappointing food is number one dining grievance, new survey reveals: Disappointing food is the number one dining grievance from customers when eating out, a survey from guest experience management experts HospitalityGEM has revealed. This was followed by having to ask for service, and taking too long to bring drinks or food, the report into customers’ top ten bugbears showed. The rest of the list was made up of an unclean table from previous occupant, being ignored on arrival, dishes arriving at different times, slowness bringing the bill and taking payment, incorrect order arriving, being ignored at the bar, and slow taking of food order. With the exception of the number one bugbear, all are within the control of the front-of-house team. There were some differing factors that came into account when gender was analysed, with 12% of women being bothered by an unclean table, compared with only 8% of men. Women (11%) were also more likely to dislike being “ignored on arrival” compared with men (8%), and were more troubled by “disappointing food” as their biggest grievance (19%), but only men’s second biggest (14%). Generally, men were far more annoyed by the speed of service. Almost 10% more men than women considered slow service their biggest grievance – 27% picked speed in some capacity, compared with 19% of women. Patience when waiting for the bill increases with age, with the percentage of those citing it their biggest guest grievance steadily dropping from 8% for 18 to 25-year-olds to 0% of those over 66. This is the same when waiting for food, as it bothers 10% of 18 to 25-year-olds but 0% of 66-year-olds. HospitalityGEM managing director Steven Pike said: “Pinpointing the biggest grievances in hospitality has helped us to better identify priorities and provide advice to our clients to optimise the experience of their guests. Each of the top ten can be isolated to a key stage of the guest journey. Having a clear and achievable framework to set standards at each of these stages, and an effective way of measuring performance, will help operators to manage consistency and identify weak points. With disappointing food at the top of the pile, it shows that evaluation should include the kitchen output. We can help with this by providing dish-specific feedback, with imagery, so operators can easily identify issues with dish specification or consistency.”

Camden street food market traders vow to ‘save their stalls’ following KERB partnership: Traders at Camden’s street food market have launched a campaign to “save their stalls” after they claimed they were being priced out following a new partnership between street food company KERB and Camden Market Management. KERB, which runs pop-up-style markets in King’s Cross and the City, plans to revamp West Yard square in Camden Lock Market to offer more restaurant-quality street food. Traders have been informed their last day of trading will be Sunday, 10 July, when the market is due to close for renovations before reopening on 22 July as KERB Camden Market. Stallholders were told they could apply for a pitch, but many said increased rents made their position untenable and vowed to fight the “gentrification”. Kimberley Duke, who has run a stall at the market for two years, said she would leave next month. She added: “What KERB is trying to do is for it to become more like Borough Market or Spitalfields Market, more high-end. I have got nothing against Borough Market, but it’s already there, we don’t need to have it again. Camden is so rich with culture, and I really feel it’s losing a part of its heart.” Other traders said they would seek pitches elsewhere in London or close their business. One said: “Some of the rents are doubling, some are tripling, so I’m not going to apply.” Another said: “To make a profit on their terms we’ll have to double our prices, and who’s going to buy a sandwich or a kebab for £10?” Camden Market and KERB said in a joint statement: “We are pleased to say the vast majority of West Yard food traders have expressed an interest in becoming part of KERB Camden Market and a number have already applied. Every single application received will be given careful consideration and we will be speaking to traders in due course about the outcome.”

18,300 restaurants with low hygiene rating risk losing customers: Restaurants with low food hygiene ratings are risking their survival, with 61% of consumers saying they’ll boycott such venues, according to research by food safety technology company Checkit. 18,379 restaurants, takeaways, sandwich/coffee shops, hotels and pubs in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are at risk as they currently have a Food Standards Agency food hygiene rating of two or below, meaning they require improvement to their practices and processes. The study found London is the city with the largest number of food businesses at risk (5,092), while Birmingham has the highest percentage (17%) of restaurants scoring two or below. It is followed by Leicester (14%), London (14%) and Manchester (11%). Overall, 7% of cafes, canteens, restaurants, mobile caterers, pubs, takeaways, sandwich shops and hotels in England, Wales and Northern Ireland fail to meet the hygiene standards consumers demand. Across the UK, takeaways and sandwich shops are the sector in most danger of being shunned by diners, with 14% of them having a food hygiene rating of two or below. This figure rises to 28% of Birmingham and Manchester takeaways, and more than half (52%) of those in the London borough of Newham. Given that 64% of consumers say they would avoid takeaways with low food hygiene ratings, this would have a major impact on the sector’s revenues and individual business survival. Also in the Checkit research, three-quarters (75%) of consumers said they wouldn’t risk dining at a restaurant that had been implicated in a food hygiene incident, even if recommended by someone they trusted. Customers would even rather put up with poor service from rude and unhelpful staff than eat at dirty restaurants. 66% of respondents rated unclean or dirty premises as the first or second reason for not returning to a restaurant. Only 16% cited slow or poor service and 32% said rude or unhelpful staff would stop them coming back to a restaurant.

Eataly Chicago opens second pizza concept: Eataly Chicago is opening a second pizza concept in the wake of closing its fine-dining restaurant Baffo. The new concept – Pizza alla Pala – is named after the wooden paddles central Italian pizzas are served on. The opening is described as a way to liven up the second-floor piazza and is expected to be the first in a series of moves. The pizzas served at Pala come from a Polin electric oven, differing from the wood-burning oven pizzas from Eataly’s Pizza Napoletana on the other side of the second floor. Pala’s pizzas are oval-shaped and some toppings are added after they come out of the 580-degree oven. In comparison, the Neapolitan pizzas are baked at 900 degrees. When Eataly Chicago closed fine-dining restaurant Baffo, a spokesman said it was because it failed to capture the Chicago diner and customers should expect a series of moves in upcoming months. Eataly’s first response is a pizza spot, and although they have served other types of pizza in the past, they have never opened a concept such as Pala.

Company News:

Carluccio’s Simon Kossoff steps down as chairman after 17 Years: Carluccio’s chairman Simon Kossoff is to step down on 31 July – he co-founded the company with Antonio Carluccio in 1999. Owner Renuka Jagtiani said: “Simon has been integral to the success of Carluccio’s since its inception in 1999; guiding its growth and development from start-up to one of the country’s leading restaurant brands. We want to wish him the very best for the future, he will be missed by the whole team.” Simon Kossoff said: “It’s been a fantastic journey and I am desperately proud of the team and what they have achieved. However, after 17 years it really is time to let our CEO Neil Wickers take it forward and for me to focus on other things.”

Glasgow-based operator Kained Holdings to open third Lebowskis site: Glasgow-based operator Kained Holdings will open the third site for its Lebowskis brand this month. The company is launching Lebowskis Southside on Saturday, 25 June in Nithsdale Road, Glasgow, on the site of the former Sammy Dow’s bar. It has previously run a Lebowskis pop-up at the venue but it has now been refurbished into a permanent home for the brand. The menu will include its Lebowskis burgers along with sandwiches and a range of bar specials. Taking inspiration from the film after which they are named, the bar will offer more than 25 different White Russians, including a new premium range. Kained managing director Graham Suttie told Glasgow Live: “We have such a wonderful, loyal following at Lebowskis – it gives us great delight to finally deliver what so many had asked for in Lebowskis Southside. We are very proud to be part of this already vibrant community and excited at the prospect of relaunching the brand here in pretty spectacular fashion.” Lebowskis other sites are in Argyle Street, Glasgow, and Morrison Street in Edinburgh.

Former Viajante chefs launch permanent London site for street food concept Ta Ta Eatery: The former Viajante chefs behind street food concept Ta Ta Eatery – the “Chinese family-style rice fix with a Portuguese twist” – have opened their first permanent site. Zijun Meng and Ana Gonçalves, who are also formerly of Chiltern Firehouse, have teamed up with the Curio Cabal coffee shop to launch Curio + Ta Ta in Haggerston, east London. The restaurant is within Curio Cabal’s coffee shop in Kingsland Road and features a 34-cover restaurant with an additional outdoor seating area for up to 60. Spurred on by their obsession with rice and drawing on their Druid Street Market success, Meng and Gonçalves have created a concise menu featuring snacks, hot plates and cold dishes designed to accompany a “perfect” bowl of rice, Hot Dinners reports. Eaten “Chinese family-style”, the menu is inspired by the chefs’ home cooking and reflects their Chinese and Portuguese roots. Dishes include peanuts braised with edemame and celery, congee (Asian rice porridge with rich chicken stock, herb sauce, crispy skin and dough sticks), and Shime Saba (charred and pickled mackerel).

Starbucks launches new smoothie range in UK estate: Starbucks has launched a new smoothie range in UK stores. The three smoothies – Green, Berry and Orange & Ginger – are made with fresh fruit and vegetables and blended with natural cloudy apple juice or coconut milk. The new nutritious smoothies contain no added sugar and provide customers with one of their five-a-day, per serving. In January, Starbucks announced its health and wellness commitment to reduce added sugar by 25% by 2020 to continue to help customers make informed and improved nutritional choices. Starbucks has already reached its 2016 sugar reduction target, reducing added sugar in syrups (vanilla, hazelnut and caramel) by 5%. Mini Frappuccino has also launched this week, available for a limited time. The new 10oz cup size gives customers more ways to customise their frappuccino in a smaller size during the summer. Sara Bruce-Goodwin, vice president, research and development and quality and regulatory for Starbucks EMEA, said: “We’re delighted to be launching our new smoothie range this summer, growing our menu to continue to meet the needs of our customers. There are thousands of ways to customise our drinks and by continuing to make changes towards our 2020 health and wellness commitments, we hope to provide customers with even more choices.”

Chick ‘n’ Sours to start expansion by opening second site, in West End: London-based fried chicken restaurant concept Chick ‘n’ Sours is to start expansion by opening a second site in the capital, this time in the West End. The concept, launched by Carl Clarke and David Wolanski in Haggerston last year, is opening in Seven Dials in mid-September after securing a deal with landlord Shaftsbury. The 40-cover venue in Earlham Street will have a short, reimagined fried chicken menu as well as sides, sour cocktails, local beers and soft-serve ice-cream creations. The core menu will include familiar dishes such as That Korean Fried Chicken Bun and Szechuan Aubergine. There will also be new additions, including Hot & Numbing Disco Wings and Xian Xian Tenders, which Clarke has already been trialling at its east London site. The Earlham Street site will have its own unique interpretation of the popular House Sour in Haggerston using blackberries and finished with Womersleys Farm’s lavender, lime and black pepper vinegar. Clarke said: “We couldn’t be happier with the location and the site – bang in the West End of London. Nothing changes, though, in terms of what we are all about. It will be the same wicked vibe and spirit we’ve brought to everything we’ve done since our first parties years back. We’re extremely grateful to Shaftesbury for giving us the chance to help make the Seven Dials shine.” Julia Wilkinson, portfolio and group restaurant strategy executive at Shaftesbury, added: “We are pleased Chick ‘n’ Sours selected Earlham Street for its West End launch as this is a prime location at the gateway to Seven Dials and will no doubt benefit from the investment currently taking place at Cambridge Circus and, looking ahead to 2018, the opening of Crossrail.” Davis Coffer Lyons acted for Shaftesbury and Chick ‘n’ Sours represented themselves.

Michelin-starred Bristol restaurant Casamia to open new pizza concept next month: Michelin-starred Bristol restaurant Casamia, owned by multi-site operator Peter Sanchez-Iglesais, will open its new pizza concept Pi Shop next month. The 40-seat pizzeria is opening on Thursday, 21 July at the former Bristol General Hospital building alongside Casamia, which relocated to the site after 19 years in Westbury-on-Trym in January. Pi Shop is inspired by Casamia’s original roots, reflecting the origins of the restaurant that started out serving a range of authentic Italian pizzas. It will feature an open-plan kitchen and wood-fired oven and have a menu of sourdough pizzas. The decor will have a laid-back Italian feel intertwined with Bristolian influences. Sanchez-Iglesais told the Bristol Post: “We’ve had a fantastic reception since we reopened Casamia at The General and we think guests are going to love the different feel of Pi Shop, which will offer great, tasty food in a relaxed atmosphere. Pi Shop is the first of two new dining concepts being launched with Paco Tapas, named after Sanchez-Iglesais’ father, due to open this summer.

Epic Pubs secures third site, Punch Taverns venue: Epic Pubs is to open its third pub, the Mill Street Pub & Kitchen in Oakham, Rutland. The pub, leased from Punch, is currently undergoing an extensive refurbishment and is due to open on 21 July. Epic Pubs, which operates two other pubs in Northamptonshire and Berkshire, is led by managing director Andrew Coath. He has worked in the pub and hotel industry for 20 years, including Malmaison in Birmingham, and has received a commendation from the Queen for his contribution to hospitality. Mill Street Pub & Kitchen, in the centre of market town Oakham, is Epic’s first pub with accommodation, offering seven boutique bedrooms. The 180-cover pub will feature an open kitchen, two private dining rooms, including one with a private bar, and an urban country courtyard garden with banquet seating. Coath said: “We are really excited to be entering the next phase of Epic’s development with this new pub, which will build on the success of our two existing businesses. Each Epic establishment is unique in character and style but with the same consistent standards of excellence in our food, drink and service. We are creating a collection of pubs that as well as offering beautiful bolt-holes for dining and drinking, are investing back into their local communities. Further sites are planned, including more with bedrooms.” Wayne McGarry, development manager at Punch, said: “We are delighted to have joined forces with Epic Pubs, who have an excellent portfolio of pubs as well as operational expertise. The redevelopment of the site brings Oakham a new sensational venue and we are looking forward to continuing working with them on the project and in the future.”

Big Easy launches ‘Rumble in the Tumbler’ cocktail collaboration with award-winning NYC bar: Big Easy Bar.B.Q & Crabshack has launched a partnership with New York cocktail bar The Dead Rabbit Grocery & Grog, which will see Dead Rabbit’s cocktails served in London for the first time. During the residency, one of six Dead Rabbit drinks will “do battle” against one of six new Big Easy cocktails, with a bartender from each company working together in their respective uniforms each shift. The “Rumble in the Tumbler” collaboration launched yesterday (16 June) at Big Easy’s Canary Wharf venue, where it will run until Sunday, 26 June. The next day, the residency will move to Big Easy Covent Garden, where it will run until 13 July. Big Easy co-founder Paul Corrett said: “Collaborating with one of the world’s best cocktail bars, and joining our teams, is a dream come true for us, and we are delighted to bring something unique to the London cocktail scene.” Dead Rabbit’s senior bartender Gregory Buda added: “It is a great opportunity for our bartenders to spend time in another of the world’s great cocktail cities. Most importantly, it should be a lot of fun!” The Dead Rabbit won “World’s Best Bar” and “World’s Best Cocktail Menu” at the Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards 2015.

Unity Bars and Clubs appoints Deltic manager as operations director: Unity Bars and Clubs, which operates the Kooky chain of nightclubs in the north of England, has appointed Rob Green as operations director. Green arrives from Deltic Group, where he managed Pryzm in Leeds for the company and drove the nightclub to achieve “outstanding turnover and profit figures”. He was named Deltic’s manager of the year in the north at the company’s annual awards ceremony last month.

Signature Living lodges plans for 200-bedroom hotel in Cardiff Bay: Aparthotels developer and operator Signature Living has submitted plans to open a 200-bedroom hotel and spa in Cardiff Bay. The company has applied to the city council to convert the Coal Exchange building, creating 100 jobs. Subject to permission being granted, work will start on the site in August, with the hotel expected to open before the Champions League final comes to Cardiff in May 2017. Signature Living founder Lawrence Kenwright told Wales Online: “The Coal Exchange will become an amazing landmark hotel, wedding and events venue that the whole of Cardiff can be proud of. We’re very excited about delivering this project and restoring the building to its former glory.”

Clove Club secures second site: Agent Shelley Sandzer has acted for the landlord of 88 St John Street to complete a letting to Clove Club for its second London restaurant. Recently placed 26 out of the 100 Best Restaurants in the World by Restaurant Magazine, Clove Club will take a 4,475 square foot site located in Farringdon. The new restaurant will be spread over ground floor and basement levels of a grade II-listed property. Leo Feldman, at Shelley Sandzer, said: “Clerkenwell has seen an influx of great operators and Clove Club will make a great addition to the area.”

Bristol-based independent bar and restaurant company Urban Standard to open third site, in Cardiff next month: Bristol-based independent bar and restaurant company Urban Standard will open its third site next month, this time in Cardiff. The company, which has two sites in Bristol, will open its third venue – Society Standard – in the Gabalfa area of the city. It has converted the former Cardiff Sportsgear shop in Whitchurch Road into its latest outlet. The interior will have a retro and stripped-back feel complete with exposed brick and a few elements of decor made especially for the bar. A range of favourites from its sister branches – The Urban Standard and North Street Standard – will be served in the new site, including burgers, ribs, and a truffled mac and cheese. Co-director Dom Wood told Wales Online: “We love adding a bit of Bristolian personality to our bars, which our new Welsh customers will be able to spot straight away. That being said, a local focus is also really important to us, and that goes into everything from the food and drink suppliers we use for our menus to the staff on our team.”

Easyhotel to appeal refusal of retrospective planning permission at Old Street site: Easyhotel, the owner, developer, operator and franchisor of “super budget” branded hotels, has said it will appeal after being refused retrospective permission relating to 78 of162 bedrooms at its company-owned site in Old Street, London. The company stated: “Easyhotel has received notification from Islington Borough Council that its previously announced application for retrospective planning permission relating to 78 rooms of the 162 rooms at 80 Old Street, London, has been refused. Easyhotel had previously been granted planning permission, on appeal, for the conversion of the building to a hotel in 2011. Easyhotel will be appealing this decision, a process which is expected to take at least six months.”

Steelite reports sales pass £100m: Sales have passed the £100m mark for the first time in Steelite International’s history, Companies House accounts filed by the Stoke-headquartered tableware, glassware and cutlery manufacturer have revealed. The company reported sales of £102m in the year to 31 December 2015, up from £93.9m a year earlier. Pre-tax profit also climbed to £8.8m from £6.7m. The company said the growth came “despite continued fierce global competition and macro-economic factors affecting key markets”. Sales in the UK and Ireland jumped by 10% and investment in the Caribbean, Central and South America paid off with an increase of 12%. Steelite’s Far East operation grew by 70% during the period and the group maintained sales on mainland Europe, despite the impact of a weak euro and the economic and political situation in Russia.

Agent Christie & Co expects ‘post-EU referendum acceleration’: Property agent Christie & Co expects to post a loss in the first half of its financial year but said a “post-EU referendum acceleration” should ensure it swings back into full-year profit. Christie Group, which is also behind hospitality stocktaking business Venners, said a build up of transactional deals in its pipeline ahead of the crunch European vote next week implied “prospects for the year as a whole remain positive”. “We anticipate our second-half revenues will increase significantly over our first-half run rate as this pipeline crystallises on either current or renegotiated terms,” added chairman Philip Gwyn. In a statement to investors, AIM-listed Christie Group said its retail stocktaking business Orridge should trade profitably over the next year, while Venners had enjoyed growth through “greater local business penetration”, aided by the appointment of additional area managers. Its business appraisal practice Pinders has also gained new panel appointments to Wesleyan Bank and Atom Bank. Gwyn said: “In summary, our pipeline of transactions and current preparations for assignments across the group lead us to expect growing revenues for our second half and a profitable and rewarding year for shareholders.”

Krispy Kreme to open drive-thru doughnut store and production hub in Peterborough next month: Krispy Kreme will open a drive-thru doughnut store and production hub in Peterborough next month. The company is opening the 4,577 square foot Hotlight site at Cygnet Green in Hampton on Wednesday, 13 July, having previously agreed a deal with landlord Sladen Estates. The venue will have about 40 seats, a drive-thru lane and a production hub supplying doughnuts to all Krispy Kreme in-store cabinets within a one-hour radius. Chief marketing officer Judith Denby told the Peterborough Telegraph: “Our Hotlight stores provide the ultimate way for doughnut lovers to experience the joy and excitement of Krispy Kreme, and we can’t wait to open the doors in Peterborough later this summer. It will allow customers to see and smell the magic at work in its unique doughnut theatre – a true sensory experience. From hand-dipping the doughnuts to sprinkling and piping the decorative finishes, Krispy Kreme’s skilled production teams will be working around the clock to ensure each doughnut in its 16-strong range is unique and tastes delicious.”

Hertfordshire village hotel sells for more than £6.85m asking price: Agent Christie & Co has completed the sale of a 140-bedroom hotel in the Hertfordshire village of Markyate. The Holiday Inn Luton-South hotel has been acquired by growing hotel operator Vivek Chadha from Nine Hospitality. His plan is to invest “substantial sums” in the property, retaining the Holiday Inn branding. Chadha said: “We are delighted to acquire this highly strategic hotel to add to our growing portfolio and look forward to investing and driving the business forward.” The hotel is close to the M1 and was extended in 2000 with an additional 49 bedrooms and leisure facilities. It was rebranded as a Holiday Inn in November 2005 and currently operates as a Holiday Inn under a franchise agreement with InterContinental Hotels Group. Alex Campbell, director at Christie & Co, added: “After undertaking a competitive sales process with serious engagement from a large number of highly qualified bidders, we are delighted to announce this highly satisfactory outcome for our clients MCAP Global Finance Ltd. There was a high level of competition for the purchase of this hotel, and this caused the asset to be sold in excess of its asking price of £6.85m.”

BrewDog launches ‘four-beer flights’ in third-pint tasting glasses: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has launched “four-beer flights” at its bars so customers can try its beers in third-pint tasting glasses to decide what they like. BrewDog stated in its blog: “The very best thing about the wonders of craft beer is the sheer amount of different styles, strengths and flavours on offer. But what if your turn at the bar arrives before you’ve made up your mind? What do you do if there’s more than one beer you’d like to try? Well, that’s where our beer flights come in. Any beer on draft in your nearest BrewDog bar can be enjoyed as part of a four-beer flight, served up in third-pint tasting glasses. Flights give you a quartet of chances to get to know the strengths of a brewery (they are a ubiquitous feature of US taprooms), so ordering up a foursome of Punk IPA, Kingpin, 5AM Saint and Jet Black Heart, for example, is the ideal way to get to know why we go to work every morning and what we do when we get there. Alternatively, given beer comes in at a wide range of alcohol strengths, you could pick a series to reflect this and break the tastebuds in gently.” 

Air Factory to open £1m trampoline park in St Helens: Air Factory UK will open a £1m trampoline park in St Helens, Merseyside, in the autumn. The 21,000 square foot park will be at a former warehouse in Lea Green and create 25 full-time and 40 part-time jobs. The attraction will include Olympic-sized trampolines, bouncy walls, a foam pit, basketball lanes and dodgeball courts, as well as a “battle beam” zone and its own “ninja warrior course”. The company said it was confident the attraction would be able to differentiate itself from other trampoline parks in the region. Air Factory UK director Bin Chen told BDaily: “Air Factory will open later than other similar attractions in the area, making it more accessible for early-morning sessions, corporate away days and exclusive party nights. We’ll also be working closely with local schools and other community organisations to give them the opportunity to use Air Factory as a place to exercise, socialise and gain new trampolining skills.”

Agent sells Holy Island hotel for £795,000: Agent Christie & Co has sold The Manor House Hotel on Holy Island to multi-site hotel and leisure operator Terry Maughan off an asking price of £795,000. The Holy Island of Lindisfarne is a tidal island off the coast of Northumberland. The ten-bedroom hotel was owned and operated by John and Carol Barlow, who are retiring. Maughan has three other businesses in Northumberland and said he intended to extend the hotel’s opening hours and food offer. Christie & Co director Mark Worley told the Berwick Advertiser: “We received a high level of interest and arranged many viewings, which produced multiple offers on the property. These came from a variety of potential buyers, all of whom intended to retain the business in its present form as a hotel with bar and restaurant. The buyer is a well-known multi-site leisure operator who intends to invest in the building and the business. This sale continues to demonstrate the demand for small to medium, privately owned hotel assets. On this occasion, the idyllic and historic surroundings, good trade and profit levels and well maintained and attractive building all combined to increase the popularity of the business.”

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.comCyril 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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