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Thu 30th Jun 2016 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Rooney Anand – ‘Spirit acquisition has provided a catalyst to capitalise on both our geographical and competitive advantage’: Greene King chief executive Rooney Anand has said its acquisition of Spirit has provided a catalyst for the company to capitalise on both its geographical and competitive advantage. Anand told investors the deal had given the company more scale, reach and recognition and the chance to develop the best of both businesses. He added the company was also well placed to limit the impact of the decision by the UK to leave the EU. The company is to invest up to £150m of capital expenditure converting more than 300 of its sites to its five core brands – Hungry Horse, Chef & Brewer, Flaming Grill, Farmhouse Inns and Greene King Locals – over the next three years. About a third of the first-year conversions will be from its Fayre & Square to the Hungry Horse brand. Anand said 24 pubs had been completed so far, generating strong sales uplift and return. The Bees Knees in Leicester, which was converted from Fayre & Square to a Hungry Horse six months ago, had seen a 40% sales uplift and was “continuing to perform at that level”. Average weekly turnover at the site had risen from £19,400 to £27,500. Anand said: “I think the acquisition of Spirit makes us a very strong business. It really provides a catalyst for us to capitalise on both our geographical and competitive advantage. There has been a lot of uncertainty in the economy from Brexit since January and our performance this year has shown how resilient the Greene King business is. We have a track record of delivery in a challenging environment – we had four years of growth following the downturn in 2008. This is because our business is based on strong fundamentals. 55% of our sites are in the south east of England and we have freeholds rather than leaseholds.” The company has broadened its brand appeal with the expansion of its breakfast offer and availability, and children’s menu deals such as the Farmhouse Inns carvery. It has also relaunched and widened its Flaming Grill “season ticket” offer, with more than 75,000 customers now signed up. Anand said the company expected the net cost of the National Living Wage to rise from £2m in the 2017 financial year to £6m in 2019. However, he said the impact would be mitigated by improved productivity driven by IT automation, self-service and ways of working, labour scheduling and deployment, as well as a review of the existing cost base. He added the company was continuing to trade well in the first eight weeks of the new financial year. “It’s important to look beyond the early turbulence created by Friday’s decision,” said Anand. “The eating out and drinking out market has been healthy for the past few years and is expected to grow and we are well positioned to take our fair share of it.”

Industry News:

Bar and Nightclub Conference open for bookings, Jimmy Bernstein to feature: 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. ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls will talk to Jimmy Bernstein about his 14-strong US bar and live music concept Howl at the Moon. Bernstein was the keynote speaker at this year’s Bar and Nightclub Convention in Las Vegas. Howl at the Moon has sites in key US cities, including Chicago, New York and Orlando, Florida – the company has also licensed the concept to Norwegian Cruise Line, which operates it on four ships. 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 towns 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

CCL sells two London pub freeholds let to Spirit for £13.5m: On behalf of a client fund of TH Real Estate, leisure investment property specialists Coffer Corporate Leisure has completed the sale of a portfolio of two prime London pubs, for £13.5m to a private European investor. The freehold sales represented a net initial yield of sub-3.5% based on a rental income of £503,346. The properties are the Two Chairmen in St James’s Park and the Goat Tavern in Kensington High Street. The Goat Tavern is a 17th century pub set in a prime Kensington location and is the oldest remaining pub in the area. The property comprises four floors totalling 4,518 square feet, let in its entirety to Spirit Pub Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Greene King. The passing rent is £306,441 per annum. The Two Chairmen dates to circa 1729 and is close to Buckingham Palace and the Houses of Parliament. It is believed to be the oldest pub in Westminster and is a substantial building arranged over five levels totalling 3,355 square feet, let in its entirety to Spirit Pub Company. The passing rent is £196,905 per annum. Mark Sheehan, managing director of Coffer Corporate Leisure, said: “Despite the uncertainty in the market after the results of Thursday’s referendum, we will continue to witness a clear and robust appetite for pubs which have traded well for a number of years. The Goat Tavern and Two Chairmen have been trading for hundreds of years, and many pubs are held on long leases such as these – which expire in 2044. This provides investors with the security of long-term income and the flexibility of underlying property value. Leisure property has extremely strong fundamentals and we expect to see continued strong demand for such defensible assets.” Coffer Corporate Leisure advised TH Real Estate. Savills advised the purchaser.

Gordon Ramsay goes mobile with new game: Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay has launched a restaurant game for mobile phones. App developer Glu Mobile has teamed up with the chef to create Ramsay’s Dash in an attempt to further his brand empire and tap into digital audiences. Players have their own avatar and compete against others in a race to build restaurants that mirror the celebrity chef’s own from around the world, reports The Drum. They can trade ingredients with one another to create the best dishes and earn “Wichelin” stars, all under the watchful eye of Ramsay. The chef will mentor players throughout the game, offering soundbites based on what the player is doing. The game is running in 150 countries on Apple and Google devices and is backed by a “quirky” video the chef hopes will prove a viral hit. Ramsay will also publicise the game via his restaurants across the US, Singapore and Hong Kong. Glu Mobile is behind other celebrity titles such as Kim Kardashian: Hollywood.

Company News:

LT Management Services reports turnover and profit boost after securing more long-term contracts: LT Management Services, the sector’s largest out-sourced management company, led by Billy Buchanan, has reported increased turnover and profit in a year that saw it add new long-term contracts. The company grew turnover to £12,987,000 in the year to 27 December 2015, up from £11,251,000 the year before. Pre-tax profit rose to £620,000 from £601,000 in the year prior. LT Management Services added more than 300 sites to its portfolio during the year after securing a number of new long-term contracts. The company, which operates more than 1,000 pubs, restaurants, hotels and nightclubs on behalf of third-party owners, banks, pub companies and investors, won the contract to provide out-sourced operational management for the 158 pubs NewRiver Retail bought from Punch Taverns during the year. It also secured a contract with Red Oak Taverns to provide back office support for the 151 GRS Group tenanted pubs it bought – the contract was an extension to the support LT already provided to Red Oak Taverns’ existing 29 pubs. A company source told Propel: “The current financial year has made a strong start with our current pipeline looking very healthy.” One industry source told Propel: “It’s clear a number of asset owners are keen to implement high-quality operational and back office controls without the cost of setting up their own expensive in-house solution.”

Kornicis sees Ebitda almost double, disposes of Manchester Henry J Beans site at cost of £500,000: Kornicis Group, owner of the Jamies and Smollensky’s branded bars and restaurants, has seen Ebitda almost double in the year ending 27 September 2015. The company reported Ebitda increased to £934,601, compared with £479,630 the year before, according to accounts filed with Companies House. The company also disposed of its Henry J Beans site in Manchester at a cost of £519,924. Turnover fell to £14,313,059, compared with £15,627,903 the previous year. It made a pre-tax loss of £2,349,698, compared with a pre-tax profit of £391,822 the year before. In the prior period, NBGI Private Equity Fund, which holds 70% of the company’s A shares, agreed to write off £3.5m of the Senior A Loan notes along with the accrued interest of £603,902. The company stated: “The core estate of 18 London wine bars and Smollensky’s restaurants had yet another strong year, with like-for-like sales up 5% and site Ebitda up 16%. During the year we disposed of the Manchester Henry J Beans site. Group turnover for the 52 weeks to 26 September 2015 was £14,313,059, with group Ebitda of £934,601. On 30 October 2015, the whole of the issued share capital of Komicis Group was acquired by Oval. On the same date, Oval provided the group with sufficient funding to enable it to repay the outstanding guaranteed bond certificates and associated capitalised finance costs to NBGI.”

Simon French – ‘Greene King has best visibility on earnings in the sector’: Cenkos Securities leisure analyst Simon French has said Greene King has the “best visibility on earnings in the sector”. Issuing a ‘Buy’ note on the shares with a target price of 760p following the company’s full-year results yesterday (Wednesday, 29 June), French said: “Greene King has announced full-year results ahead of expectations reporting £256.5m profit before tax (69.9p earnings per share) compared with our forecast of £252.6m profit before tax (67.7p earnings per share) and a 7.7% increase in full-year dividend to 32.05p. This was partly driven by synergy delivery ahead of schedule with £16.7m realised in the period compared with a target of £12m. The group will focus on five major brands going forward – Hungry Horse, Flaming Grill, Farmhouse Inns, Chef & Brewer and Greene King – with all Locals pubs brought under the latter. Current trading has been good with a period of warm weather and Euro 2016 helping increase like-for-like sales by 2.8% in the first eight weeks of FY2017 but, as the company says, it will not be immune from the dent to consumer confidence caused by Brexit. However, the group has the best visibility on earnings in the sector, driven by synergy benefits from the Spirit acquisition, and has a well-invested estate with not overly onerous leverage. The stock trades on a CY2016E adjusted EV/Ebitdar of 8.1 times, a price-to-earnings ratio of 10.6 times and yields 4.3%. ‘Buy’.”

Tavistock Hospitality invests £700,000 to convert County Durham pub into fifth Sonnet 43 Brew House: North east leisure operator Tavistock Hospitality is investing £700,000 to transform The Plough in Mountsett, County Durham, into a brewery tap for its Sonnet 43 Brew House. As well as a complete overhaul of the interior of the pub, which Tavistock bought in 2010, tipi huts will be added to host outdoor events and weddings, plus a separate dining area to host private functions. Tavistock Hospitality operations director Jonathan Graham said: “The Plough has been a popular member of Tavistock’s portfolio for a number of years and we are delighted to be taking over direct operation of the site this summer. Not only will our £700,000 investment enhance what is already available, with a new look and improved restaurant menu, but the addition of tipis and a private dining area will also make it a more versatile venue for a wide range of private events.” Tavistock Hospitality operates four Sonnet 43 pubs and plans to build a 12-strong estate.

Thaikhun, Comptois Libanais and Absurd Bird sign for new Bath shopping centre food quarter: Three restaurant brands have signed to open at the new food quarter being developed at the SouthGate shopping centre in Bath. Thai Leisure Group brand Thaikhun, Lebanese concept Comptoir Libanais, owned by Levant Restaurants Group, and Splendid Hospitality’s Deep South-inspired gourmet chicken brand Absurd Bird will take up three of the four new units at the complex, which is owned by Aviva Investors and British Land. The three restaurants will open in the autumn in Newark Street and St Lawrence Street. The new restaurant quarter will have glazed facades and canopies providing covered outdoor seating for diners. Chief executive of Comptoir Libanais Chaker Hanna told the Bath Chronicle: “We are delighted to be moving into Bath. It’s such a thriving city and we’re enjoying working closely with British Land and Aviva Investors to showcase the best of our Lebanese cuisine to the local community.” Thai Leisure Group managing director Ian Leigh added: “It’s our passion as a business to share the taste of Thailand’s street food and capture the real drama of the Thai dining experience. We think we can bring something fresh to the south west and SouthGate Bath will be the ideal home for us.” Absurd Bird operations manager Mark Hall said: “Absurd Bird has already gone down a storm with diners in London so we are really excited to be coming to Bath. It’s a vibrant city centre and we’re thrilled to be bringing something really different to the restaurant scene with our authentic Deep South recipes.”

Seven operators sign for labour scheduling specialist as National Living wage puts focus on productivity: Seven multi-site operators have signed up with S4Labour, the labour scheduling software from Catton Hospitality, in a bid to streamline back-of-house operations and improve labour deployment as the sector focuses on labour costs in preparation for the National Living Wage change. Drake & Morgan, Seafood Pub Co, Antic London, City Pub Co, River Cottage, Vapiano and Robinsons have all now signed with S4Labour, which launched five years ago. S4Labour helps operators with online contracts, holiday pay management, staff communication, and labour planning and deployment. It takes less time to use than the traditional methods as well as saving the typical operator £10,000 per site in the first year. With 99 sites between the seven operators, that means a saving to the bottom line of about £1m. Alastair Scott, chief executive of Catton Hospitality and operator of two pubs through his Malvern Inns vehicle, said: “We are delighted to have these high-profile operators on board to add to our diverse portfolio of clients from pubs, restaurants, bars, cafes and hotels to contract caterers and nightclubs. As operators ourselves, we aim to be at the forefront of good ideas for the industry but it’s also great to have such a prestigious set of new customers challenging us to get better.”

Starbucks headquarters pays $15m in corporation tax: Starbucks has revealed the London headquarters it set up after a public outcry over alleged tax avoidance paid $15m in UK corporation tax in the 15 months to September 2015, The Financial Times has reported. Its European headquarters, which was moved from Amsterdam to London in 2014, employed 71 people in that period and received $185m of royalty and license payments from coffee shops and franchisees across Europe, its accounts show. These royalty payments were for the use of Starbucks’ trademark, know-how and other intellectual property that was valued at $1.6bn in the accounts. Starbucks transferred the IP to its new London headquarters from Alki, a UK partnership that was not liable for tax in the Netherlands or the UK. Starbucks Emea, as the headquarters business is known, announced pre-tax profits of $682m on turnover of $185m. But those profits were inflated by $631m of dividend income that was taxed elsewhere in the group, and interest payments of $27m, leaving a $15m UK tax bill. Employment at Starbucks’ Amsterdam site, which continues to roast and distribute coffee for all of Europe, was stable and totalled 260 people in the period.

Pitt Cue in Soho return with Little Pitt launch: Wood-smoked barbecue restaurant Pitt Cue will return to its roots by opening a second site – Little Pitt in Soho. Pitt Cue began as a food truck on the South Bank before its creators, Tom Adams and Jamie Berger, moved into tiny premises in Newburgh Street in Soho, with only five tables and a no-booking policy that resulted in long queues. The award-winning Pitt Cue then moved to much larger premises in the City, in Devonshire Square, with an extended bar and full wine list. Now Adams and Berger are returning to the original Newburgh Street site to launch Little Pitt. Dishes will include sausage bun with kimchi, smoked beef and bone marrow bun, chicken and anchovy bun, green chilli slaw, and pickled shiitake. Little Pitt is due to open in July under the banner of “buns, bourbon and beer”, Hot Dinners reports.

Urban Leisure Group launches new restaurant and bar concept Heist Bank in Paddington: London-based Urban Leisure Group has opened new all-day restaurant and bar concept Heist Bank in Paddington. The 6,000 square foot venue in North Wharf Road specialises in pizza and includes a canal-side seating space for 50 people and a private function room in the basement with karaoke, Nintendo consoles and self-service beer kegs. There is also an in-house artisan florist Botanique, which operates a flower shop at Exmouth Market. Pizzas – made from local cheeses, cured meats and seasonal toppings – are cooked on a wood-fired oven, as are other dishes such as slow-roasted lamb, steak and trout. Urban Leisure Group has seven other sites in the capital including Graphic in Soho, which was its first venue to open in 2008.

Dirty Bones to launch third London site with Shoreditch opening: US comfort food restaurant Dirty Bones will open its third London site later this summer, this time in Shoreditch. The new venue will be Dirty Bones’ first site to feature an all-day dining menu and is set in a grade II-listed heritage building in Club Row. It will serve a selection of New York-inspired comfort food dishes and cocktails, while introducing an all-new breakfast menu. Decor at Dirty Bones Shoreditch will embrace the building’s eclectic history, with a range of bespoke retro features and a bar area that will host live bands and DJ nights playing old-school funk, soul and hip-hop. Dirty Bones recently launched new summer main and brunch menus at its other sites in Kensington Church Street, west London, and Carnaby Street, Soho, as well as a new cocktail collection, including The Grown Ups Jaffa, The Brooklyn Spritz, and the Spiced Iced Coffee.

Dominique Ansel to make European debut with Belgravia launch in September: Renowned pastry chef Dominique Ansel, who operates sites in New York and Japan, will make his debut in Europe by launching Dominique Ansel Bakery London in Belgravia on Friday, 2 September. The venue in Elizabeth Street will offer Ansel’s creation “The Cronut” – a cross between a croissant and doughnut – and the New York store’s best-selling “DKA” (dough layered with butter and sugar then baked, creating a caramelised crunchy crust). Also on offer will be “The Cookie Shot” (a chocolate chip cookie shaped like a shot glass and filled with ice-cold milk infused with Tahitian vanilla bean), and “Frozen S’mores” (Tahitian vanilla ice cream covered in chocolate wafer crisps and honey marshmallow, which is torched and served on a smoked willow wood branch. There will also be exclusive creations made from local British ingredients. The venue will feature the bakery on the ground floor and open pastry kitchens on the second floor, as well as a courtyard with retractable roof and a vertical garden with seasonal plants and fresh herbs for use on the menu. Ansell told Hot Dinners: “We are grateful for the chance to share a little bit of what we do with our guests in London, and we aim to do nothing less than our very best for them.”

Greggs appoints new property and business development director: Greggs has appointed retail director Raymond Reynolds to the newly created role of property and business development director with effect from April 2017. Reynolds joined the company in retail management in 1986. As general manager during the 1990s, he built a significant new business for the company in the Edinburgh region and was appointed managing director for Scotland in 2002. He has been retail director since 2006, responsible for driving the development of the brand throughout the UK.

Taco Bell to open first UK drive-thru site next month, in Cleethorpes: Mexican restaurant brand Taco Bell will open its first UK drive-thru site next month – in Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire. The company is launching its tenth UK site – and first opening of 2016 – at Meridian Point on Tuesday, 19 July, creating 30 jobs. As well as the drive-thru, the 50-seat venue will feature an open kitchen and mobile phone charging points. Franchisee Arjun Patel, of Northgate Fast Food, told the Grimsby Telegraph: “We have had such a great response from each of our Taco Bell restaurant openings and are really excited to be able to bring that enthusiasm to Cleethorpes.” Nick Dawson, Taco Bell Europe general manager, added: “This is the sixth Taco Bell restaurant that our franchisee Northgate Fast Food has opened in the UK. We are proud to have such a great local partner, with a strong synergy to the brand and a vision to continue to bring Taco Bell to the people of the UK.”

Manchester-based The Laundrette set to open second site in city, launching sister brand within student residencies: Manchester-based cocktail bar and restaurant concept The Laundrette is set to start expansion by opening its second site in the city. The company, which was launched in the suburb of Chorlton, has submitted plans to open the venue in First Street in a unit adjacent to the Vita Student accommodation building. It has applied to the city council for a licence to operate between 10am and midnight, serving its selection of home-cooked food and extensive cocktail menu. The site, which is expected to open in September, will incorporate an outside seating area with heaters and blankets. In addition to the restaurant, the Laundrette team is installing an express “station” within the Vita Student building, providing breakfasts to students from 7am, Monday to Friday. Branded the Laundrette Coffee Co, it plans to offer freshly ground coffee, juices, fresh fruit, yogurts and a range of pastries, which will be baked daily on-site at the restaurant. The Laundrette also plans to introduce its Laundrette Coffee Co brand into another nine residences, covering Liverpool, Southampton, Exeter, Bristol, Sheffield, Newcastle and Glasgow. Patrick Hall, from The Laundrette, told The Business Desk: “We are really excited to move the Laundrette into Manchester city centre. First Street is a brilliant addition to Manchester’s food and drink scene and we’re delighted to have a south-facing corner location perfect for enjoying our cocktails and carbs in a beautiful restaurant space or on our all-year terrace.”

Void nightclub to launch in Liverpool with high-end table service: Void, a new nightclub for over-21s featuring high-end table service, is set to open in Liverpool city centre. The venue in Stanley Street will open in late August and is the brainchild of Joe McMahon, Adam Ramsey and Dan Friend, whose expanding portfolio also contains Graffiti Lounge & Bar and Wall of Fame bar and restaurant in Victoria Street. McMahon told the Liverpool Echo: “The idea for Void was conceived when we noticed a huge gap in the nightlife market for those who want to enjoy a cosmopolitan atmosphere in the heart of the city centre with a bit of extra opulence.” The former Wonderland site has been transformed to feature lowered ceilings, a raised DJ booth and a mirrored wrap-around video wall. The venue will be split into two separate sites, with the ground-floor bar offering a different concept under the same ownership set to open in July. Ramsey said: “The inspiration for the concept came from locations such as London, Marbella and Las Vegas, where a premium standard of drinks and high level of customer service is expected. We want to replicate this approach in Liverpool so our guests will never have to worry about their glasses being empty.”

Major coffee chains sign paper cup recycling manifesto: The Foodservice Packaging Association and the Paper Cup Recovery and Recycling Group have launched an industry-wide manifesto with the objective of significantly increasing paper cup recovery and recycling rates by 2020. The manifesto has more than 30 signatories, including Caffe Nero, Costa and Starbucks, representing each stage of the paper cup supply chain from raw material suppliers, cup manufacturers and retail high street brands to waste and recovery operators and paper reprocessors. The manifesto is a voluntary commitment, funded by its members, to deliver systemic change that will increase the sustainable recovery and recycling rates of used paper cups. The manifesto work programme will be run by an industry-wide executive board made up of elected members, with delegated reporting working groups. Signatory organisations are publicly recognising that working together is essential if long-lasting change is to be achieved.

Italian food market restaurant concept Mercante to launch in Mayfair hotel on Monday: Mercante, an Italian food market concept that aims to deliver fresh and seasonal Italian fare, will launch in Sheraton London Park Lane Hotel in Piccadilly, Mayfair, on Monday (4 July). Inspired by the bustling markets of great Italian cities such as Rome, Venice and Napoli, the menu will consist of high-quality produce and dishes influenced by regional specialities and traditional homespun recipes. Breakfast will include a choice of Italian, English and deluxe breakfasts as well as an egg-focused speciality menu. The lunch and dinner menu will include dishes such as hand-made gnocchi in smoked duck ragu, grilled mackerel with wild fennel and citrus salad, and small plates such as burrata and roasted camone tomatoes. Desserts will include caprese cake with ricotta ice cream. The restaurant’s website states: “Dedication to the exceptional, coupled with genuine, moderately priced dishes served in a welcoming, familiar atmosphere, firmly places Mercante at the heart of London’s Italian dining spots.”

Operator sought to run restaurant at Dundee’s new £80m V&A museum: An operator is being sought to run a new restaurant that will open at the new £80m V&A museum in Dundee. The waterfront venue, which will offer views across the Tay, will run outside of the museum’s opening hours, offering up to 80 customers the chance to sit on its outdoor terrace overlooking the river. V&A bosses have started advertising for a company to come on board and run the facility, with 15% of all turnover from the venue going to the museum’s operators. A museum spokesman told the Tele: “This is another exciting step in our development as we prepare to open V&A Dundee in 2018. Dundee’s waterfront will be home to a host of new restaurants in the years to come – but few will be as spectacular as the one that will occupy the V&A museum. The restaurant will have a small, frequently changing menu using the best of local, seasonal produce, with the cafe offering sandwiches, drinks and snacks. The building has been designed to allow access to the restaurant in the evening after the museum has closed, with details like opening hours to be developed with the company that receives the contract.”

New restaurant and tea bar concept Jam opens in Liverpool city centre: New independent restaurant and tea bar concept Jam has opened in Liverpool city centre. The venue in Sir Thomas Street is open daily for afternoon tea, brunch, dinner and cocktails. The brunch menu features breakfasts, sandwiches, soups and burgers, while the lunch menu includes chicken rocket and pearl cous cous salad with chilli and lime, “hangover hash” of chorizo and black pudding, and homemade granola with honey and Greek yogurt. Main dishes on the a la carte menu include 28-day-aged rib eye of beef with game crisps, confit tomato, and mushroom and garlic compound butter; and cod on crushed Jersey royal potatoes with chive butter sauce and poached hen’s egg. Afternoon tea offerings include cake of the day and prosecco afternoon tea for two. A range of fruit and vegetable power shakes and juices add to the healthy offering, alongside cocktails and more than 25 different loose-leaf teas served by the pot.

Hull-based hotel owner acquires second site in city: Hull-based hotel owner Paul Green has acquired his second site in the city. Green, who owns the Nightel Humber at Humberside Airport, has acquired The Embassy Hotel in east Hull from Lee and Sarah Chester. The site, opposite Alexandra Dock where the £310m Siemens manufacturing hub is located, has 23 rooms as well as a revamped cafe and bar, Gingers. Green told The Business Desk: “The Embassy has always been popular with locals and visitors alike and is well known in the city. But as the renewables revolution gathers pace, its location has become its greatest asset.” Green also owns several serviced apartments in the city centre that cater to executives and his company is also building the region’s first Hampton by Hilton hotel, also at the airport.

Bottle & Glass village pub in Oxfordshire attracts ‘strong interest’ in free of tie lease as refurbishment nears completion: Agent Fleurets said there had been “strong interest” in the free of tie lease for the Bottle & Glass pub in Oxfordshire, with its refurbishment and extension set to be completed in September. The Phillimore Estate, which owns the pub in Binfield Heath, near Henley-on-Thames, is turning the site into a destination food-led venue, with a 75 to 80-cover restaurant in the extension, with bifold windows opening on to a large terrace. There will also be bar and snug areas, while a two-bedroom apartment will offer private accommodation along with gardens, terraces and car parks. Fleurets divisional director Chris Irving said: “Once completed, this property will be a stunning hybrid of tradition and charm along with sleek modern design. The workmanship is of a high standard, and the transformation will be remarkable.” Adrian Beales, of Savills, managing agent for the Phillimore Estate, added: “The Phillimore Estate is looking forward to getting the right tenant on board to take the Bottle & Glass forward and revive the village pub as the heart of the community.”

Humber Bridge attraction plan features restaurant, hotel and viewing platform: A planning application has been submitted for a new tourist attraction – The Lift – that would take visitors to the top of the Humber Bridge north tower. The plan, submitted to East Riding of Yorkshire Council, includes a viewing platform, as well as a visitor centre with restaurant and a 60-bedroom hotel that would be built on part of the Humber Bridge Viewing Area car parks as part of a wider development scheme. If approved, work would be expected to start this year and be completed before the end of 2017. Humber Bridge general manager Peter Hill told The Business Desk: “A lot of people doubted it could be achieved when we first talked about the idea, but a tremendous amount of work has gone into the design of The Lift to turn it into a reality.” Tourists would begin their journey at the visitor centre near the north side anchorage, and be taken by gondola underneath the bridge to the north tower, where they would enter one of two pods taking them to a glazed gallery spanning the tower legs. The gallery would ascend to the top of the north tower to the viewing platform.

Red’s True Barbecue to open eighth site, in Newcastle: Red’s True Barbecue will open its eighth restaurant – in Newcastle this October. The independently owned business, co-founded by James Douglas and Scott Munro, will take a ground-floor space in the new £25m Intu Eldon Square complex, creating 75 jobs. It will invest £1.1m transforming the 4,100 square foot unit into a restaurant with 300 covers, including outdoor seating, and it will feature a dedicated street-level bar with an extensive whiskey and bourbon menu. It will host regular live music and the UK’s largest selection of house-made picklebacks. Munro said: “Newcastle has been on the cards for a while so we’re stoked we can finally reveal the news. The location is spot on for us in terms of our audience, and with a new creative design approach our believers will see a further step on for the brand and their dining experience. There’s a great mix of solid operators opening up in the development, which will create a real destination location in an already busy area. Newcastle is set for an awesome autumn of food and drink! There is now certainly more competition to win customers’ hard-earned cash. This year we’ve worked incredibly hard on our operations, in particular investing heavily in our pitmaster team to ensure we remain the most authentic barbecue joint this side of the pond. Without a history of this job role in the UK, and a site pipeline that extends across the UK well into 2018, we’re shoring up our expertise, knowledge and skill set for the future.”

East Coast Concepts secures private equity backing for roll-out plan: The company behind the Neighbourhood and Victor’s restaurants in Greater Manchester has secured a multimillion-pound private equity investment to roll-out the two brands across the UK. East Coast Concepts, which was founded by James Hitchen and his brother Guy, has secured the development capital injection from Manchester-based NorthEdge Capital. The company operates the Spinningfields-based, all-day restaurant and late bar Neighbourhood, which has recently undergone a £1m refurbishment, and the east coast-inspired Victor’s in Hale. The premium casual dining brands sell a range of dishes, including steaks, seafood and sushi. NorthEdge’s backing will help the team pursue their ambitious growth strategy, which involves rolling out the two concepts to city centres and suburban locations across the UK. The business is expected to record an £8m turnover this year and has recently started work on a second Neighbourhood site in Liverpool that will take staff numbers to 200. The deal was led by NorthEdge investment director Phil Frame and investment manager James Marshall. Frame will join the board as a non-executive director. Frame said: “James has launched two exciting, differentiated concepts in the north of England, which have fantastic roll-out potential. The casual dining scene continues to demonstrate strong dynamics for innovative concepts and we believe Neighbourhood and Victor’s are both well-placed for further growth. James is a first-class entrepreneur and we are delighted to be backing him and the rest of the team.” James Hitchen said: “Both brands have proved to be hugely successful in Manchester and we are delighted to have NorthEdge on board as a partner to support us through the next stage of our development. We are constantly looking for new ways to improve our offering and the additional funding from NorthEdge will give us the firepower to become one of the best premium casual dining brands in the UK.”

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