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Fri 1st Jul 2016 - Update: Brexit and VAT, Wagamama, BrewDog, Greene King, Joules, Luke Johnson
Minister says Brexit could lead to abolition of VAT on tourism: A senior cabinet minister has said the Brexit referendum vote could lead to a cut in the rate of VAT levied on tourism. John Whittingdale, secretary of state for culture, media and sport, speaking at a British Hospitality Association (BHA) summit in London said: “If we wanted, for example, to abolish VAT on accommodation or attractions, we could now do so. We couldn’t have done when we were in the European Union.” The remarks by the minister, who oversees tourism and hospitality in the UK, were warmly welcomed by representatives of businesses from across the UK industry. Whittingdale echoed remarks by Nick Varney, chairman of the BHA and chief executive of Merlin Entertainments, who said: “Tourism and leisure can continue to grow under Brexit. Initially a weaker pound will encourage visitors and also exports will flourish. We should seize the moment and lock in that competitive advantage with a permanent cut to VAT for accommodation and attractions, and possibly in the future also for restaurants.” He said once uncertainty had died down British tourists would feel encouraged to spend more in this country and visitors from Europe would be more likely to visit the UK. Varney is a leader of the Campaign to Cut Tourism VAT, which calls on the government to reduce the rate of tourism VAT from 20% to 5%. Across Europe, 31 different countries, both inside and outside the EU, already enjoy the benefits of a reduced rate of tourism VAT, meaning Britain is losing ground to competitors. The announcement is a boost to the campaign, which has already secured the support of 160 MPs across all parties and the support of the three devolved administrations across the UK. Tourism and hospitality accounts for 9.0% of the UK’s GDP, and is the sixth biggest export. The industry employs 10% of the UK’s workforce and has created one in five new jobs in the past five years.

Wagamama to launch first restaurant in France as part of multi-restaurant franchise deal: Wagamama will open its first restaurant in France later this year after signing a multi-restaurant franchise and development agreement with Cases Loisirs-owned company W Restaurants France. Visitors to the restaurant in Paris will be able to enjoy a variety of new and classic dishes from Wagamama’s menu, with the venue featuring an open kitchen and iconic canteen-style benches. Wagamama international managing director Brian Johnston said: “We are very excited to be working with W Restaurants France and Cases Loisirs to bring the Wagamama brand to France. We look forward to bringing our fresh, Japanese-inspired cuisine to even more diners, and will continue to reinforce positive eating by using fresh ingredients served in atmospheric surroundings.” Wagamama now operates more than 150 restaurants in 18 countries.

BrewDog unveils new profit share scheme: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has unveiled its new profit share scheme that is available to all employees. The company said any team member who signed up to its Unicorn Fund will receive a 10% share of profit that its part of the company makes. It has also added other new benefits, including enhanced maternity and paternity pay. The company stated: “We are going to share our profits with our teams. The Unicorn Fund (the name for our new profit share plan) is an amazing opportunity to share in the success we all work so hard to create. Any crew member who signs up will receive a share of 10% of profit that BrewDog makes. People who work at our brewery will share in the brewery profits and our bar teams will share the profits of the specific bar they work in, meaning our teams are empowered to act like business owners, and benefit like business owners too. Alongside this, our ‘people team’ have added a new series of staff benefits to our already awesome packages. With enhanced maternity, paternity and adoptive leave we are also offering childcare vouchers for crew members who have the next generation of craft beer fans at home. In addition, BrewDog staff can now get discounted membership on gyms, assistance with buying computer equipment and mobile phones and we’re also offering a fantastic bike scheme to help out those who would like a healthier, greener way to get to work. We are proud to be a company full of committed, enthusiastic and hard-working people, and these enhanced benefits fall on top of all the other perks of working for BrewDog; the fact that we are a living wage employer, offer private health insurance for full-time staff, enhanced pension contributions, discounts in our bars and online shop, fund staff to sit all levels of the Cicerone exam, and give a four-week paid sabbatical every five years to whoever would like it. We are doing all of this with a single thought in mind. To become the very best company in the world to work for. And then some.”

Greene King to roll-out Barrel & Stone pizza partnership to Pub Partners portfolio: Greene King will roll-out its partnership with pizza company Barrel & Stone to more venues in its Pub Partners portfolio. Currently, four Greene King Pub Partners venues offer Barrel & Stone-branded pizzas, with the partnership set to be rolled out to 12 more. As part of the arrangement, Barrel & Stone provides all kitchen equipment, including a stone-baked pizza oven, while Greene King licensees and staff can receive training and access to an online ordering portal. Greene King said a tie-up with Barrel & Stone at Local Hero pub the Rose and Crown in Tewin, Hertfordshire, led to sales of more than 3,000 pizzas in six months. Greene King Pub Partners managing director Clive Chesser said: “The option of partnering with Barrel & Stone has been well received by the pubs because of how easy the whole process is and the high quality of the products. With zero capital outlay, it is ideal for all types and sizes of kitchens. It’s a brilliant retail partnership we can only see growing further.” Barrel & Stone co-founder Russell Hardiman said: “Our offering is an excellent revenue booster to existing operations or as a standalone concept and we are incredibly happy with the results our existing partners have experienced.”

Joules Brewery doubles footprint with land purchase, secures Market Drayton presence: Joules Brewery has doubled its footprint after completing the purchase of a site next to its Market Drayton brewery, while securing its position in the Shropshire town. The brewery site is currently 1.5 acres, including 15th century inn The Red Lion and a bowling green. The newly acquired land is also about 1.5 acres. Joules managing director Steve Nuttall said: “This new site doubles our footprint and will allow Joules many options for the long term. As we are in the heart of an ancient town, our options for extending are very limited so this purchase future-proofs our continued presence in the town and our importance as a Shropshire brewer with access to the essential Market Drayton aquifer, our mineral water source.” Joules chairman Mark Heappey said: “We now have a site over three acres in the heart of the town with access to the high street. We are very much part of the fabric of the town.”

Brightonians celebrate as Luke Johnson puts the ‘Palace’ back in pier: Brightonians are celebrating after sector investor Luke Johnson, executive chairman of Brighton Pier Group, announced he is renaming the company’s recently acquired tourist attraction. Previous owners The Noble Organisation caused controversy in 2000 when it changed the Palace Pier name to Brighton Pier, a move many in the city and The National Piers Society refused to recognise. However in April, Johnson’s Eclectic Bar Group acquired the pier, with the company renaming itself Brighton Pier Group. Now Johnson will rename the pier itself as Brighton Palace Pier. General manager Anne Martin told The Argus: “We have always recognised and been grateful for the local support for the ‘Palace’ part of the name, so we decided to make the change. We kept the Brighton part in there as it’s so important, particularly with overseas advertising.” Martin said of Johnson: “He has lots of ideas and clearly loves the pier. He’s got a big picture of it hanging on his office wall, so he is very proud to be part of it. I think his greatest strength is he understands the business. He loves the history, heritage and quirkiness but can see opportunities to develop and change. He sees a great future for the pier, otherwise he wouldn’t have bought it. We are thinking of a Christmas market for local producers and there will be space for pop-up shops throughout the year.”

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