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Wed 29th Jun 2016 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Australian franchisee of Jamie’s Italian goes into receivership: Keystone Hospitality Group, the company that is the franchisee for six Jamie’s Italian restaurants in Australia and a cluster of other bars and restaurants in New South Wales, a total of 17 venues, has been placed into receivership by a syndicate of lenders, according to receivers Ferrier Hodgson, due to an inability to reach agreement with the board on key aspects of the group’s financial structure. In a statement, receiver Morgan Kelly said the venues would continue to trade while he assessed each venue and brand for ultimate sale. “The venues in the Keystone Group comprise some of the most iconic and well-known brands in their respective markets,” Kelly said. “The sale of the group represents a unique opportunity for the right operator.” Keystone was a relatively small player on the Sydney scene until it acquired the Pacific Restaurant Group, including the Jamie’s Italian franchise, in June 2014. At the time, then chief executive Grant Blackley said: “This acquisition was a carefully considered and deliberate strategy to combine (with) like-minded, clearly defined and well managed companies.” Blackley left Keystone in June last year after 14 months with the company. He is now chief executive and managing director of Southern Cross Austereo. The current directors are executive chairman Richard Facioni and managing director John Duncan.
 

Industry News:

Bar and Nightclub Conference open for bookings, Luke Johnson to present: This year’s Bar and Nightclub Conference, organised by the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) and Propel, is now open for bookings. It takes place on Tuesday, 11 October at Bafta, Piccadilly, and follows the successful launch of the event last year. It will be followed by the Dusk ’til Dawn Awards for bar and nightclub operators at Cafe de Paris in the evening. Luke Johnson, sector investor and executive chairman of Brighton Pier Company and investor in Grand Union Group, will talk about his career in the late-night sector starting at Oxford University, set out his reasons for investing in the sector, evolving the offer at Brighton Pier Company and his perspective on the future for the bar and nightclub sector. Kate Nicholls, chief executive of the ALMR, said: “The conference will highlight the success being achieved by many of our best operators in the late-night segment alongside the challenges the sector faces.” Paul Charity, managing director of Propel, added: “Last year’s event was a big hit, highlighting the importance of bar and nightclub culture in creating a vibrant evening environment in the UK’s town and cities. This year’s event will also feature a host of the UK’s best operators – and offer strategic insights into the key drivers affecting the market.” Tickets are priced at £95 for operators who are ALMR members and £145 for non-ALMR members – there is a £20 early-bird discount for operators booking in June. Supplier tickets are £145 for ALMR supplier members and £195 for suppliers who are not ALMR members. Tickets can be booked by emailing Jo Charity at jo.charity@propelinfo.com
 
Next premium recording to feature Chris Gerard: The next audio recording sent to Propel Premium subscribers this Friday will feature gastro-pub operator Chris Gerard, who presented at the recent Brands Masterclass. Gerard sets out how he moved his burger offer upmarket by improving quality and how his d’arry’s brand evolved in the competitive Cambridge market. Propel Premium subscribers also receive the Propel Blue Book guide to sector turnover and profitability. The Blue Book lists and ranks 200 sector companies by turnover, profitability and profit conversion. It also provides a five-year overview of profitability and directors’ salaries. The current free service to all existing readers remains the same, but readers can opt to upgrade to receive the Propel Premium service. Propel Premium subscribers will be able to receive the Morning Newsletter, which is sent at 6.30am each weekday, 12 hours earlier at 6.30pm the day before. Subscribers will also receive a copy of the Propel database of 500 multi-site companies, which will be updated every six months, and receive a digital version of Propel Quarterly magazine a week before publication. For operators, annual subscription costs £345 plus VAT, with an extra £50 per additional subscriber at each company. For suppliers, annual subscription costs £445 plus VAT, with an extra £50 per additional subscriber at each company. To subscribe to the Propel Premium service, email Anne Steele on anne.steele@propelinfo.com

Sports pubs see beer sales increase 63% as England exit Euro 2016: England’s departure from Euro 2016 on Monday night (27 June) had one silver lining for sports pubs with sales up 63%, according to beer quality and insight expert Vianet. The company has partnered with Propel to dig deeper into the impact the competition has on sales. Analysis showed the average beer volume on the day was 196 pints – an increase of 76 pints versus the same day last year. Peak trading time was between 8pm and 9pm, with the run rate prior to the match averaging 12 pints. The run rate during the match averaged 27 pints and the run rate post-match averaged five pints. However, this was the lowest post-match run rate suggesting unhappy fans headed for the door rather than commiserating over a pint, which doesn’t bode well for the rest of the tournament. The value to the Euro sports pub was £265 above normal trade, based on pubs charging £3.50 per pint. With England now out of the competition, the average uplift across the four matches was £1,710 against the potential of £4,083 identified early in the competition if England had made the final. The sample comprised more than 3,000 pubs showing the football, versus more than 3,000 non-sport focused pubs.
 
Innventure boss – ‘I resent MPs who campaigned and won Brexit but without a plan’: Managing director of gastro-pub operator Innventure Chris Gerard has said he “resents the MPs who campaigned and won Brexit but without a plan” and believes “Remain” voters may emigrate. In an email to Conservative MP Peter Lilley, who represents Hitchin and Harpenden, and copied to fellow “Leave” Tory MPs Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, Gerard said he “now grieves and feels no belonging”. He said: “I am a Conservative, I am an entrepreneur, in ten years I have built a business employing 180 people and generated significant tax incomes for my country (for one bloke). My business has no shareholders just me, on my own, working hard. I fought in the Falklands as a young Royal Navy lieutenant and I am proud to believe that I helped Maggie Thatcher return to power by doing so. She, in return, rescued our country’s economics, politics and culture. Now I grieve, I feel no belonging, I resent the MPs who campaigned and won Brexit but without a plan. These principled men and women may have destroyed much of what I have contributed to. The present position is so similar to recent military campaigns. An idea, an ambition, a vision that leads to chaos as it turns out it has nothing more to it than principle. Who do 16 million-plus folk vote for now? Brexit grief will overpower past political loyalties, you may have changed more than you imagine including your own political future and that of our children. The non-Brexit minority, and some of the now startled Brexit advocates, will not vote for individuals who are so principled and unplanned that they can destroy what others have created. So principled that they would see their country’s future damaged in order to rest back control. You will have your control of little England and they (the ‘Remain’ voters) will have their freedom. You will have your control of little England. You can control the fish and chip shops of England, there will be no trade barriers on potatoes and cod, all will be smaller, poorer, and our precious NHS anorexic. The country is apparently hugely worried about net immigration. I am sure some folk will help. They will help by leaving with their peer group, expertise, capital and families. I have never been so sad.”
 
Colliers – hotel industry unlikely to be significantly affected by Brexit result, more tourists predicted as result of favourable exchange rates: The hotel industry is unlikely to be significantly affected by the UK’s decision to leave the EU, according to agent Colliers International. Hotels director Peter Brunt predicted the prospect of favourable exchange rates would lead to more tourists – providing a boost for hoteliers and publicans. He said tourist areas such as the Cotswolds, Ludlow, Bath, Dorset, Devon and Cornwall could benefit from an increase in overseas visitors now the pound was more affordable for international tourists. Furthermore, UK tourists may choose to stay at home worried about the escalating costs of overseas travel. He added: “The hospitality industry is in much better shape than it has been since before the downturn, with visits to the UK increasing 5% in the 12 months leading up to April. I feel sure this industry will remain resilient and the people of the UK, the market and financial institutions will get used to the idea that we have left the EU. My gut feeling is that the immediate few days are going to be the most unsettled for us. After that, I believe normal life will begin to return and my tone with buyers will remain upbeat and positive. Nothing should, in my view, cause buyers to make a seismic shift in their decision-making about acquiring a hospitality business.” Brunt said one potential consequence of present uncertainty could be an increase in the number of “off-market” deals, where publicity is kept to a minimum. He added: “If I have a slight fear it is that banks may get more cautious in their lending until they realise the market, like the general economy, is robust and indeed investor-financed groups may have more money seeking a haven from equities. As ever, there will be opportunities presented for the nimble-footed buyer and well-advised vendor.”
 
Swedish-based mobile cafe franchise co-founded by unsuccessful Starbucks job applicant raises more than double of €180,000 crowdfunding target in 24 hours: A Swedish-based “mobile cafe” franchise concept that was set up after one of its co-founders was unsuccessful in getting a job with Starbucks, has raised more than double its €180,000 crowdfunding target within 24 hours of launch. Wheelys Café was launched by Maria De La Croix, after she was inspired to sell her own coffee after she failed to get a job as a barista with Starbucks in Sweden, along with Per Cromwell and Tomas Mazetti. It is offering 2% of the company’s shares via the FundedByMe crowdfunding platform in return for the investment at a price of €759.49 per share. So far, 85 investors have pledged €370,632 with 44 days remaining. It said the purpose of the fund-raise was to give owners of Wheelys cafes a chance to buy a piece of Wheelys and be closer invested in its overall business and vision. The company currently supplies the solar-powered bike cafes to 250 franchisees in nearly 50 countries. Franchisees, known as “Wheelers”, have to sell the company’s own coffee sourced from Indonesia and South America but are free to offer secondary varieties of their own choosing along with various pastries, snacks, fruit, magazines – it’s up to each individual seller and local regulations. Wheelys also has an app that allows customers to order ahead and pay digitally, although Wheelers can opt for cash transactions. The pitch states: “To open a traditional cafe often costs more than $600,000 plus rent, electricity and other utilities. A Wheelys cafe does not cost $600,000, but $6,000. This opens the market to millions of passionate young entrepreneurs. A Wheelys is also carbon neutral, and while a traditional cafe is really hard to move around, a Wheelys can be at the train station in the morning and at the football stadium in the evening.”
 
Floating hotel to open in London as social enterprise to train unemployed for hospitality work: The Good Hotel, a 144-room floating venue that will train unemployed people ready for a job in the hospitality sector, will open at Newham Royal Docks this autumn. The hotel and its floating platform will be transported across the North Sea to east London in September from its base in Amsterdam, with the help of tug boats and a submerged barge. The Good Hotel was launched in Amsterdam in June 2015 by the Good Hospitality Group as a social enterprise project. Among its aims is to give opportunities to local people who have struggled to find employment. One-third of staff in Amsterdam (18 people) are taken on for a ten-month placement that includes training and working in the hotel, and then helped to find long-term work through the hotel’s partners. The floating hotel is set to remain at Newham Royal Docks for five years, the Guardian reports. The Good Hotel London will have an external makeover, which will include a green roof that will be open to the public. The Good Hospitality Group was founded in 2012 by Dutch entrepreneur Marten Dresen. As well as hotels in London and Amsterdam, it also plans to open a 30-bedroom boutique hotel in Antigua. The group hopes to open eight further hotels around the world by 2020.
 

Company News:

Frozen yogurt chain Menchie’s opens Intu Lakeside store, its first site in Europe: Self-service frozen yogurt company Menchie’s has opened a site at Intu Lakeside shopping centre in Thurrock, Essex, the company’s first venue in Europe. Menchie’s was founded in 2007 in Los Angeles and has expanded to almost 500 sites across 13 countries, including China, Japan and Australia. Menchie’s offers almost 100 frozen yogurt flavours and 70 toppings, including non-fat, low-carbohydrate, no-added-sugar, gluten-free, vegan and dairy-free options. It becomes the latest brand to open at Intu Lakeside ahead of a new leisure extension being created at the centre. The 225,000 square foot extension, due to open in 2018, will host Nickelodeon’s first UK shopping centre attraction and forms part of Intu’s £600m, three-year development programme across its UK shopping centres. Menchie’s franchisee Benny Shahar said: “We want Menchie’s to become a great place for gathering with friends and family, so where better a place to launch our first store than alongside Intu Lakeside’s great family-friendly offering?”
 
Timothy Taylor increases turnover and pre-tax profit: Landlord brewer Timothy Taylor has reported turnover has passed the £20m mark and increased profits. In the year to 30 September 2015, pre-tax profits rose by 18% to £2.8m on turnover that rose from £19.5m to £21.3m. The company’s beer brands performed well during year, with the distribution of Boltmaker extending beyond its Yorkshire heartland following its Supreme Champion Beer of Britain award in August 2014, and Landlord also improving market share. Timothy Taylor said its ability to take advantage of the Boltmaker win was one of the catalysts for its performance during the year. Bottled Landlord, and the newly-introduced bottled Boltmaker, also made a “significant contribution” to the company’s barrelage growth. The rebalanced pub estate was said to have continued to perform ahead of expectations following a rationalisation programme in 2013. Since the year-end, John Varley has been appointed finance director, taking over from long-standing director Steve Drinkwater, who decided to retire after 20 years in the role.
 
Barburrito secures site at Aberdeen shopping centre: Mexican brand Barburrito, which is backed by the British Growth Fund, has continued its expansion plans by securing a site at the Union Square shopping centre in Aberdeen. The company will join a mix of restaurant brands on the first floor of the complex, which is owned by Hammerson, when it opens in the autumn. The deal increases Barburrito’s presence in Scotland following the acquisition and conversion of the five Pinto Mexican Kitchen sites and the grant of a premises licence for a site in Forrest Road, Edinburgh. Barburrito property director Jim Bishop said: “We are delighted to be among some very successful brands at Union Square and are looking forward to opening in the autumn. This acquisition continues our UK roll-out, with further openings planned before Christmas.” Sarah Fox, head of restaurants and leisure at Hammerson, added: “We are pleased to welcome Barburrito to Union Square and to Aberdeen. With its diverse line-up of restaurants, the centre has become a hot spot for new and exciting dining in the city and Barburrito is a great addition to the offer for our customers.” Barburrito recently confirmed an additional site at the Intu Derby shopping centre, targeted for a mid-2017 opening, taking the total estate to 22 restaurants nationally. It is targeting a further ten sites during the next two years.
 
Galvin brothers open new restaurant in Mayfair hotel: Michelin-starred London chefs Chris and Jeff Galvin have opened their new restaurant at The Athenaeum hotel in Piccadilly, Mayfair. Galvin at The Athenaeum sees the brothers step away from their trademark French-inspired menus for the first time in favour of championing “Britain’s delicious home-grown produce and supporting independent farmers across the UK”. An exciting array of new menus include breakfast, afternoon tea and private dining, featuring a modern take on classic British dishes combined with Galvin favourites. Dishes include Galvin smoked salmon and steak tartar with toasted sourdough, dressed Portland crab with Hampshire watercress and rye bread, and Woodhall Cumbrian air-dried ham and Charentais melon. Desserts include vanilla, lemon and blackcurrant ice cream sundae, Hot Dinners reports. The Galvins are also in charge of the bar, which is in the former Garden Room, with a focus on the Athenaeum’s vast whisky collection. The restaurant and bar have opened as part of The Athenaeum hotel’s ongoing multimillion-pound refurbishment. The brothers run Michelin-starred Galvin Restaurants, which launched in 2005 and has seven other sites in London and Edinburgh. In January, the brothers opened their first pub – HOP – on the site of Galvin Café A Vin in Spitalfields Market, London. The Galvins said if all went to plan, they hoped to have as many as 20 sites in five years’ time.
 
Punch extends free ‘Sky WiFi’ across estate: Punch has extended its agreement with Sky to ensure all of its pub venues across the UK can offer customers free WiFi from The Cloud. Currently, 75% of all Punch pubs already benefit from free WiFi, providing their customers with a fast, reliable and easy to use service that ensures they are able to connect throughout their visit. The new agreement with Sky, an extension of the current deal between the two companies, means any Punch venues that do not currently offer connectivity will be able to offer this free service to their customers. Punch’s pub-goers will be able to register their device, which means they can auto-connect to WiFi at any Punch venue, as well as more than 20,000 free hot spots around the country, and get online straight away. Julie Clamp, machines and services manager for Punch, said: “Punch recognises the importance of meeting its customer requirements by making it quick, easy and free to keep in touch via WiFi. Connectivity to the office and to friends via social media is an important part of what people are looking for from Punch venues. The Cloud WiFi from Sky has proved to be hugely popular, as well as fast and reliable, in the large number of Punch pubs that have already rolled it out. We look forward to extending this across more of our sites.”
 
Inglenook Inns and Taverns opens 21st site after taking on Punch-owned Stoke pub: Inglenook Inns and Taverns has opened its 21st site after taking on the Punch-owned The Noah’s Ark in Stoke. The company has reopened the Hartshill venue, which had been closed for eight months, following a joint £500,000 refurbishment, creating 40 jobs. The pub, which is Inglenook’s first in the Potteries, features a new outdoor area as well as a completely different interior look. The menu features pub classics and dishes inspired by north Staffordshire, alongside varied cask ales to complement the mainstream beers. Inglenook managing director James Waddington told the Stoke Sentinel: “Customers can expect a great service here and a traditional pub menu. We have also been able to keep the pub’s character during the work.”
 
Mexican restaurant operator to open third Fajitas site, in Liverpool: Mexican restaurant operator Gopal Adhikari is to open the third site of his Fajitas brand, this time in Liverpool. Adhikari, who runs three Mexican restaurants across the north of England, including Fajitas in Huddersfield and Wirral, is opening the new site at the Liverpool ONE complex in Chavasse Park. He is currently transforming the site of former Italian restaurant Manzo ahead of the launch next month. The refurbishment will see modern street art-style works adorn the walls of Fajitas, which will serve a fusion of traditional and more modern Mexican dishes, as well as some Manzo favourites such as pizza and pasta, with a hint of Mexico. Adhikari told the Liverpool Echo: “My goal is to promote the amazing cuisine of Mexico. Fajitas will fuse quality ingredients with mouth-watering recipes to bring some unique Mexican-inspired dishes, as well as traditional favourites, to those looking for a bold dining experience in the heart of Liverpool ONE. Myself and the team look forward to bring some spice to the lives of Liverpool’s discerning diners.”
 
Your Friendly Local takes on fifth Greene King site: Multi-site pub operator Your Friendly Local, led by Chris Windle, has taken on its fifth Greene King site. Your Friendly Local has reopened The Sitwell Arms in Rotherham after a substantial refurbishment, creating 37 jobs. The interior of the Pleasley Road venue has an industrial feel with scaffolding boards and tubular steel behind the bar, as well as steel light fittings and pipework in recognition of Rotherham’s strong tradition as an industrial steelworks area. It sells craft ales, cask beers, home-cooked food and features a freshly cooked pizza station called “Urban Pizza”. Windle, whose company also runs two other Greene King pubs in Rotherham – the Droppingwell and The Colin – told The Star: “This is my fifth Greene King pub and it is brilliant both for ourselves and the community as a whole to see the vision we had for this pub made real.” Clive Chesser, managing director of Greene King Pub Partners, added: “This is a major change for the Sitwell Arms and one we hope guests will embrace and enjoy so it can establish itself at the heart of the community. Chris is an experienced operator who has displayed an incredible passion for this project from the outset, and this is a pub with a modern feel that celebrates the local area’s proud past.”
 
Dark Star Brewing looks to make next step in growth curve: Sussex-based Dark Star Brewing Co is looking to take the brewery to the next level, citing an acquisition as a potential route to solving its existing production constraints. Having moved to a new 16,400 square foot site in Partridge Green in 2010, the brewery quickly chewed up the capacity the site offered and has spent more than 18 months searching for another new site to fulfil the demand placed on it. Dark Star director Nick Pyle said: “We’ve invested a great deal of time looking at new sites, both leasehold and freehold, without success. While that search will continue, we’ll also be looking to explore the acquisition route to fast-track our progress. In 2010, we thought we’d ‘future-proofed’ ourselves, but we got it wrong and the demand for the beer has far outstripped what we can brew and has meant we’ve been unable to pursue some interesting brewing ideas and developments.” While the brewery site search continues, Dark Star is growing its pub estate at pace, adding The Anchor Tap in Horsham in February, with The Lockhart Tavern in Haywards Heath due to open in October and others in the pipeline.
 
All Our Bars reopens Reading pub following major refurbishment: All Our Bars has reopened The Three Tuns in Reading following a £300,000, six-week refurbishment. The pub in Wokingham Road now features new booths, carpets, toilets, flooring and furniture throughout, as well as an upgraded beer garden and resurfaced car park. The Three Tuns has also launched a new food menu and offers a wide range of real ales, craft beers, spirits and wines as well as traditional Sunday roasts and a lunch deal throughout the week. Live music nights will start soon. All Our Bars chief executive Paul Wigham said: “It’s great to see this beautiful building fully restored, the designers have really done it justice. We are thrilled to have had the opportunity to redevelop The Three Tuns, the pub looks beautiful and we hope it will appeal to locals and visitors alike.” Pub manager Sam Merchant said: “We are so pleased with how everything has worked out. The support we have received from customers has been brilliant.” Kent-based All Our Bars operates 20 sites in London and the south east.
 
Iconic Bar Company opens fourth Bristol site after taking on St Austell Brewery pub: Bristol-based multi-site operator Iconic Bar Company has opened its fourth site in the city. The company has taken on the lease of The Albion in Clifton, which suddenly closed earlier this year. The grade II-listed former coaching inn, between Boyce’s Avenue and Victoria Square, has been completely refurbished by Iconic Bar Company and owners St Austell Brewery. The bar has been extended and the venue features new velvet banquettes and tables, reports the Bristol Post. Upstairs, the additional dining room includes chairs and sofas covered in cowhide, and there is a private dining room. The pub offers modern British food while a children’s menu has also been introduced. There is an extensive wine list, real ales from St Austell Brewery, and other draught beers and cider. Iconic Bar Company also runs The Somerset House and St Vincent’s in Clifton Village along with The George in Abbots Leigh.
 
Steelite acquired by US investors: Steelite International, the £100m turnover ceramics manufacturer, has been acquired by US investors. The takeover by PNC Riverarch, the private equity arm of the PNC Financial Services Group, provides an exit for chief executive Kevin Oakes. Oakes has been with the business for almost four decades and has been chief executive for the past ten. As part of the deal, he has acquired Royal Crown Derby, which the group purchased in 2012. John Miles, president of the Americas division at PNC Riverarch Capital, has been appointed Steelite chief executive. He has also invested alongside the firm. “Having worked in the business for 20 years and served as president of the Americas division for the past 11 years, it fills me with immense pride to have made this personal investment alongside PNC Riverarch,” Miles said. “Steelite International is known as the leader in the hospitality tableware industry and our goal is to continue that leadership through the introduction of new, creative and innovative products.” Oakes added: “Steelite International has been my life’s work and I am honoured to have been part of such a committed and passionate team. I firmly believe Steelite International is the best in the world and the people, products and company values are testament to this collective success.”
 
Hall & Woodhouse submits licensing application for pub in east Devon new town: Dorset-based brewer and retailer Hall & Woodhouse has submitted a licensing application for a pub being built in a new town in east Devon. The company has applied to East Devon District Council to operate the pub, currently named Cranbrook Farm, in Cranbrook. The pub will be based at the heart of the new community at the Taylor Wimpy development. The proposed opening hours are 7am until midnight Monday to Thursday, 7am until 1am Fridays and Saturdays, and 8am until 11pm on Sundays, reports the Exeter Express & Echo. Cranbrook, which is about five miles north east of Exeter, is set to be one of the biggest towns in east Devon with a population of between 25,000 and 35,000 once development is complete by about 2027.
 
West Midlands brewer reopens Bloxwich pub after joint £260,000 refurbishment with Enterprise: West Midlands brewer Davenports has reopened The Sir Robert Peel in Bloxwich following a joint £260,000 refurbishment with Enterprise Inns. Davenports, which also runs Enterprise pub the Old Cross in Oldbury, near West Bromwich, has extensively refurbished The Sir Robert Peel, turning three rooms into one large open plan area with eight television screens. Davenports marketing director Simon Key said: “We are an expanding regional brewery with a rich heritage dating to 1829 and we᾿re keen to re-establish our name in the Birmingham area. Although we already run one Enterprise site, this is the first pub we᾿ve worked on closely to create an offer.” The Sir Robert Peel offers snacks such as burgers and hotdogs, and is looking at introducing a carvery. Enterprise regional manager Richard Skinner said: “We used Enterprise᾿s sophisticated segmentation tool – a unique system that assesses local competition, demographics and location – and Davenports᾿ in-depth knowledge of the local area to help position the pub as a value venue. The locals have been very receptive to the new-look pub, and with initiatives such as live music every weekend and the introduction of a carvery, I expect it to continue thriving.”
 
Whitbread wins go-ahead for Edinburgh Premier Inn: Whitbread has secured a licence for a new Premier Inn in the Edinburgh Haymarket redevelopment site. The Edinburgh Licensing Board granted a new licence for the proposed 190-bedroom newbuild hotel, which will be a part replacement for the Haymarket Premier – a Whitbread joint venture which is currently being marketed for sale. Whitbread already holds a licence for a new 150-bedroom hub by Premier Inn, which is presently under development in nearby Torphichen Street.
 
Pod launches ‘baked impulse’ range of sweet but healthy options: The 22-strong London-based healthy eating brand Pod has launched an exclusive range of five “baked impulse” products. The range is designed to appeal to customers with a sweet tooth but each product only uses 100% natural ingredients. The recipes are baked with grains, nuts and seeds to ensure “lasting, satisfying energy”. Each bite has a “superfood twist”, from a chocolate brownie baked with beetroot to two flapjacks, both packed with chia, pumpkin and sunflower seeds with a fruity option, including mulberries, apricot and sultanas. All three treats are gluten-free. A banana and date cake with hazelnuts and miniature almond and pistachio bites made with coconut sugar complete the new range. Pod was founded in 2005 by Tim Hall. Its 22 sites are all in London and recipes are hand-prepared daily in the company’s in-store kitchens. Pod also delivers within a quarter-mile radius of its stores.
 
New Japanese restaurant and bar concept Izakaya to launch in Liverpool: New Japanese restaurant and bar concept Izakaya is set to launch in Liverpool’s business district. The new all-day venue in Castle Street, on the site of former florist Fishlocks, will offer sushi, katsu and oysters, with the bar serving cocktails and sake. Izakaya will serve alcohol until 12.30am and plans to open in the morning to take advantage of the brunch and lunch crowd. The company is also recruiting – asking for staff to join it for an opening in the “next few weeks”, reports Listed Liverpool. The new venue is another sign Castle Street is becoming the city’s go-to area for new food and drink ventures. Estate agents, florists and law firms have vacated the area in recent years to be replaced by aspirational bars and restaurants. The street houses Argentinian-inspired restaurant brand CAU, which is owned by Gaucho, Brazilian-themed brand Viva Brazil, Italian wine cafe Veeno, and the soon-to-open bar Castle St Townhouse, among a number of others, turning Castle Street into an upmarket night-time destination for the city.
 
Robinsons partners with There’s A Beer For That for first Beer Club Live event: North west brewer and retailer Robinsons has partnered with There’s A Beer For That for the first Beer Club Live. The event, which takes place at Robinsons’ visitor centre in Stockport on Wednesday, 13 July from 7pm, will see six handpicked ales and beers matched against a six-course taster menu chosen by executive chef Christian Whittleworth. Courses will include chicken balti, deep-fried salt and vinegar whitebait and chips, chorizo Scotch egg, and Moroccan lamb burger. Neil Gannon, marketing lead for There’s A Beer For That, which aims to get more people understanding and loving beer by educating consumers, said: “Our Beer Club originated as a way of getting people together to talk about beer on Twitter every Wednesday evening. Based on the success of the online Beer Clubs we have run so far, we decided to create Beer Club Live events. We will host an evening, in partnership with great brewers and pub companies, where people can learn about the quality, diversity and versatility of beer through tasting a range of brilliant beer and food pairings in a convivial atmosphere and at a great venue.” Robinsons Brewery brands manager John Robinson added: “We are extremely proud of the many different award-winning beers we have produced over our 178 years of brewing, so the chance to showcase heritage brews such as Old Tom with our newest craft beers like Steam Lager, 9 Hop IPA and Trooper really gives a great timeline of the history of our nation’s favourite drink.”
 
New Italian restaurant concept opens in Salford mixed-use scheme: A new Italian restaurant concept has opened in a mixed-use development in Salford, Greater Manchester. Giuseppe Piccoli has launched Vero Moderno on the ground floor of the Vimto Gardens complex in Chapel Street, which was developed by English Cities Fund. The 1,625 square foot restaurant, which has a pared-back industrial feel, offers an eat-in and takeaway service. The menu is centered around fresh ingredients, inspired by traditional Italian cuisine but carried out with a modern twist. Piccoli told the Manchester Evening News he hoped the venture would encourage more regeneration in the local area.
 
Law firm gets go-ahead to convert office to restaurant and bar: Law firm Sydney Mitchell has won planning consent to convert part of its grade II-listed office in Birmingham’s Waterloo Street into a new restaurant and bar. Under the scheme, the first three floors of Apsley House at 35 Waterloo Street, which measure 9,000 square feet overall, will be converted into dining space and a feature bar will be created on each floor. The basement and first floor will host private dining rooms and a waiting area will be introduced adjacent to the building’s entrance lobby. The courtyard will also be used as an external seating area. Birmingham City Council planners have approved the application, stating it is “acceptable in principle”. Work must begin within three years and the external seating area should not be used after midnight. A statement said the application “seeks to provide the option” for the law firm to establish a new restaurant in a bid to “further enhance the commercial offer of the local environment”. Waterloo Street is currently home to a number of popular eateries, including Cosy Club, The Lost & Found, Nosh & Quaff, and Pure Bar & Kitchen. In August 2015, Insider revealed Michelin-starred Adam’s Restaurant had secured the go-ahead to relocate to New Oxford House at 16 Waterloo Street after spending more than two years at a pop-up venue in Bennetts Hill.

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