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Wed 13th Jul 2016 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Questions raised over end of Manchester city centre ‘restaurant boom’ after spate of closures: Three Manchester city centre restaurants – Burger & Lobster, Violet Hospitality-owned Urban Cookhouse and blues and bourbon concept Bourbon & Black – have announced closures in the past week, less than a month after Manchester lost four restaurants – Quill, Splendid Kitchen, Grinch and Khan Baba – in the space of seven days. To some, such as Urban Cookhouse owner Tim Coulston, the recent string of closures marks the end of the city’s restaurant boom. He said: “Following the volume of restaurant openings in Manchester over the past 12 months, the ‘restaurant bubble’ is beginning to burst. It seems there just aren’t enough people living in the city centre to fill all these new openings.” Elsewhere, the owners of Splendid Kitchen and Grinch blamed their closures on Transport for Greater Manchester’s three-year 2CC project, which has largely written off Cross Street since work began in January 2014. However, many of the vacated sites have quickly been snapped up. My Thai has already opened in the former Splendid Kitchen site, Mace is about to launch at the old Khan Baba place in Liverpool Road, while it is thought a deal has already been struck on Quill’s King Street site. Recent research by industry consultants CGA Peach revealed small, independent operators now account for 40% of restaurants in regional cities such as Manchester – up from 34% five years ago. Manchester Confidential stated: “As competition intensifies, those restaurants that refuse to adapt could close, but many more will open, with the likes of D&D and Volta at The Refuge, alongside chefs such as Gary Usher and Michael O’Hare widening the offering and driving up standards. That can only be a good thing for consumers.”

Industry News:

Propel partners insights firm Horizons for Casual Dining Study Tour: Propel is partnering with insights firm Horizons for the first Casual Dining Study Tour. The “food of the world” study tour takes place on Wednesday, 7 September and features a full-day tour, on foot, around Shoreditch and Spitalfields sampling the casual dining scene in an area packed with innovation. The tour, which runs from 10am to 4pm, will visit Dishoom (Bombay-style street food with vintage decor and upscale touches), Porky’s BBQ (a taste of Memphis with fuss-free food and authentic slow-cooked meat), GB Pizza Co (wood-fired pizzas topped with seasonal British ingredients served in a cool, casual environment), The Real Greek (healthy seasonal menus and meze sharing platters), Leon (Mediterranean flavours packed with variety and natural healthiness), Wahaca (Mexican market eating from little treats to long-marinated pork and zingy salsa), Byron (better burgers – a simple thing done well), The Breakfast Club (traditional dishes and unusual offerings), Galvin Brothers’ HOP (craft beer, classic pub dishes and premium hotdogs), and Comptoir Libanais (wholesome, healthy Lebanese food in a souk-like setting). Tickets are £345 plus VAT for ALMR members and £395 plus VAT for non-ALMR members. To book your place, call Anne Steele on 01444 817691 or email anne.steele@propelinfo.com

Starbucks raises US prices: Starbucks has increased its prices in the US, up by 10 to 20 cents on select sizes of brewed coffee and 10 to 30 cents on espresso beverages and tea lattes. The company stated: “We expect the average customer ticket to increase by about 1% as a result of these beverage adjustments. However, 65% of beverage prices have not changed. Pricing is continually evaluated on a product-by-product and market-by-market basis in our stores in order to balance business needs while continuing to provide value to our loyal customers. We are committed to providing value to our customers in meaningful ways, including Starbucks Rewards, special in-store promotions, and competitive pricing, and believe our approach to value properly balances the experience we provide customers with our need to effectively run our business.”

Family Brewers launches new Codes of Practice: New codes of practice for leased and tenanted pubs have been published by the Independent Family Brewers of Britain (IFBB) in conjunction with the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) and other companies representing the sector with up to 499 pubs. The two new codes, one for lessees and another for tenants in England and Wales, ensure there will be a seamless transition for lessees and tenants with a pub company operating fewer than 500 pubs. A further code for Scotland is also being published. Lessees and tenants covered by the code will continue to enjoy the same low-cost arbitration services for rents (PIRRS) and other disputes (PICAS) overseen by the Pub Governing Body (PGB). The British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) will continue to administer the service on behalf of the PGB. As a requirement of IFBB and BBPA membership, all member companies will be covered by the codes. In addition, Trust Inns and NewRiver Retail have already signed up and talks are taking place with other companies that are not members of either of the two leading organisations. To make the system of self-regulation more streamlined, and as the codes already set minimum standards, companies will no longer need to produce their own company codes for accreditation. However, it is envisaged the PGB will develop mechanisms to monitor compliance by code signatories, over time. In total, the code covers more than 4,000 pubs in England and Wales. Family Brewers chairman James Staughton said: “Family Brewers is committed to driving transparency throughout the industry and we have worked hard alongside key stakeholders to co-create the new code of practice. All of our members will adhere to the new code and it now forms part of our membership criteria. We are committed to building stronger relationships with tenants and lessees and the introduction of the code is another example of how Family Brewers is focused on attracting and retaining the industry’s best talent across accommodation, food and pubs.”

Auction house Allsop reports 82% of lots sold in first post-Brexit auction: Auction house Allsop has reported a success rate of 82%, raising more than £63m at its fourth sale of the year, the first major post-Brexit commercial auction. In total, 127 lots sold, 17 of which were in excess of £1m. Duncan Moir, partner and auctioneer, said: “Our auction attracted more attention than usual, with people watching closely for an indication of market sentiment following the EU referendum. Pleasingly it was very much business as usual, with confident and competitive bidding from the start. The motivations of our buyers does not appear to have changed, with properties that are well-let, well-located or offer potential to add value all continuing to attract strong interest. Encouragingly demand remains high, with 78% of buyers expressing a desire to buy again at auction in the next 12 months.” The freehold of a Caffe Nero site in High Road, Loughton, Essex, was sold for £1.05m – the guide price was £1m-plus. Caffe Nero pays a rent of £58,700 per annum on a lease that expires in 2026, which suggests a buyer paying the guide price would earn a gross initial yield of 5.28%. CBRE is acting as joint fixed charge receivers on the site.

Star Pubs boss reveals focus on multiples: Star Pubs & Bars managing director Lawson Mountstevens has reported that 43% of investment projects made in 2015 were with multiple operators, a total investment of more than £10m. Speaking at the Propel Multi Club Conference, Mountstevens also said one-third of new recruits to the 1,100-strong estate were now multiple operators. A total of 13% of Star licensees now operate more than one pub with the company.

UK hotels struggling to meet guests’ Wi-Fi expectations: UK hoteliers have admitted their Wi-Fi often struggles to cope with the number of connected guest devices, according to new research from broadband networking firm ZyXEL Communications. The survey of 100 UK hoteliers and more than 1,000 consumers revealed guests are demanding more personal digital services from hotels, yet more than a quarter (27%) of hoteliers admitted their Wi-Fi struggled to cope. No or poor Wi-Fi was the biggest complaint by 40% of hotel guests. Almost two-thirds (65%) said they have had to rely on a 3G or 4G network at some point during their stay, with many moving to the hotel lobby (35%), searching for a cafe (22%) or sitting in the hotel corridor (18%) to get a good signal. Hotel managers said Wi-Fi speed (37%) and drop outs (26%) were the biggest issues for guests. However, more than a quarter of hotels (26%) didn’t have a site survey before installing their wireless network suggesting, ZyXEL stated, that hoteliers were not installing wireless networks to fit the needs of their building and not designing rooms with guest performance in mind. Despite almost three-quarters (72%) of guests requesting Wi-Fi, almost half of hoteliers (43%) couldn’t name their network provider. ZyXEL European president Lee Marsden said: “Installing a Wi-Fi network without conducting a site survey first is like throwing a party without checking if the venue is large enough for the number of people you want to invite. With guests expecting hotel Wi-Fi to provide digital concierge-like services, there’s a real opportunity for managers to utilise a high-performing network to improve the guest experience.”

Terra Firma sells Odeon & UCI Cinemas Group to AMC Theatres: Guy Hands’ private equity firm Terra Firma has signed a deal to sell Odeon & UCI Cinemas Group to AMC Theatres for £921m. The deal will create the largest movie theatre operator in the world. It includes £500m for the equity, 75% in cash and 25% in stock, and the assumption of £407m of net debt as of 31 March 2016 to be simultaneously refinanced at closing. With 242 theatres and 2,236 screens, Odeon & UCI is currently the number one movie theatre operator in Europe. It is also the number one operator in the UK and Ireland. The combination of AMC and Odeon & UCI will result in AMC operating 627 theatres and more than 7,600 screens across eight countries. Paul Donovan, Odeon and UCI chief executive, said: “With our shared vision for creating a world-class cinema experience, we are delighted to be joining the AMC family. As an innovator in guest experiences, AMC is the ideal partner for the next stage of our long-term growth in Europe, and this is very exciting news for our guests, our colleagues and the wider film industry. In recent years, Terra Firma has supported our new management team and our transformation strategy, and so established a solid financial footing for the company.”

Robin Rowland receives OBE from The Princess Royal: YO! Sushi chief executive Robin Rowland has received his OBE from Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal for services to the restaurant and hospitality industry at an official investiture service at Windsor Castle. Rowland has spent 30 years working within some of the industry’s top operators, including Whitbread, Scottish & Newcastle and The Restaurant Group, before joining YO! Sushi in 1999. He has led the business through a management buy-out, sale to private equity, grown the estate to almost 100 restaurants, and helped nurture the careers of many successful individuals across the sector. He is a non-executive director of Caffe Nero and Marston’s. “This is a huge honour, but also a major recognition for our amazing UK hospitality industry, which now leads the world in everything from innovation and operational excellence to service and professional development,” he said.

Company News:

BrewDog to plough on with US brewery despite Brexit: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog will plough on with its $31m brewery and US headquarters in Canal Winchester despite Brexit weakening the pound against the dollar. BrewDog project manager Keith Bennet said: “At the stage we are at, there is no effect. Our plans are pretty well set. The project in Canal Winchester is almost complete, although the timeline has been pushed out due to various delays.” BrewDog’s promise of opening in August has been pushed into October or November, Bennet added. The brewing equipment, currently being manufactured in Germany, will begin arriving in Canal Winchester on 1 August. According to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, BrewDog is funding the US project with money from its Scotland headquarters, and a plunge in the exchange rate means money doesn’t go as far as planned. BrewDog has yet to unveil the American version of its crowdfunding scheme, Equity for Punks, with which it hopes to raise $50m by selling shares in its US division. “It will present a few new challenges,” Bennet said, “but we’ll meet them head-on in typical BrewDog fashion.”

Snug Bars to open evening-only venue in Bedford this month: Bar operator Snug Bars, led by Giles Fry, is to open an evening-only venue in Bedford this month. It will open at the former Artisan Tap in the high street in the centre of town on Monday, 25 July. The new location will be the eighth to open in The Snug group, which began in Cambridge ten years ago and has spread across the south of England. It will open from 4pm onwards and focus on cocktails – offering a range of 50. Fry said: “We can’t wait to welcome Bedford into our new Snug. We’ve created a unique twist on The Snug for a unique town and hope to welcome everyone through our doors over the next few weeks.”

Costa Coffee creates online insight community: Costa Coffee is looking to broaden its market research by creating Costa Espression, its new online insight community, which will be hosted on ResearchBod’s ex-plor platform and accessible via the ex-plor app. Costa senior insight manager Emma Whale said: “We understand the importance of giving our customers a voice. Costa Espression will do just that, allowing us to gain a greater understanding of what our customers want from the Costa brand and providing us with valuable insight into how we can learn and adapt to suit their tastes and needs.” ResearchBods director Jonathan Clough added: “We aim to enrich Costa’s market research efforts by enabling more readily available interactions with its customer base via the ex-plor platform. This will, in turn, benefit both the brand and its customers.”

Rosa’s Thai Cafe secures Brixton site for eighth venue: Rosa’s Thai Cafe, which aims to combine “modern London with modern Bangkok”, has secured a site in Brixton for its eighth venue. The company, founded by Alex and Saiphin Moore in Brick Lane in 2006, will open the two-storey, 74-cover restaurant and bar in Atlantic Road in November. The site’s decor will take a slightly different direction for the brand, with new design team Moreno Masey taking inspiration from Brixton’s “history and character”. The Brixton site will deliver Rosa’s authentic Thai food with a contemporary twist, with ingredients sourced as locally as possible, from British beef and lamb to Thai basil grown in London. Dishes will include seasonal curries, salads, soups, and noodle stir-fries, alongside rotating seasonal specials. The drinks menu will offer Thai beer and bottled cocktails, as well as a selection of aromatic loose-leaf teas from Comins Tea House. The site was acquired by Shelley Sandzer partner Casey Phillips, who said: “When we first inspected this site with Saiphin Moore, she had just gone vegetable shopping at the local Brixton market and was thrilled at the quality of the produce. From that moment, I knew this location would be perfect.” The other Rosa’s Thai Cafés are in Carnaby Street, Chelsea, Islington, Soho, Spitalfields, Victoria, and Westfield Stratford.

Entrepreneur launches Australia-inspired coffee shop concept Laneway & Co in Newcastle city centre: Entrepreneur Nick Birss has launched coffee shop concept Laneway & Co in Newcastle city centre, taking inspiration from Australia, where coffee shops are often located in small side streets known as “laneways”. The venue serves the Allpress Redchurch blend and single origin coffee from London roasters Square Mile that change seasonally to showcase the world’s best growing regions from as far afield as Malawi and Sumatra. Birss told BDaily: “Although we are all about the coffee, we’ve started to serve lunches with deals, including homemade sandwiches, fresh savoury bites and cakes. We get everyone – from those grabbing something between meetings to those who like to linger with their laptop or a magazine to enjoy the coffee shop experience throughout the afternoon. We open at 8am to capture passing trade as people make their way to work and are now opening on a Sunday. Our location in High Bridge is ideal. It’s a real gem in the city, a thriving home to other independent and unique businesses, and being underneath Motel One means we see a set of new faces each day.”

Hotels and nightclub in grade I-listed Bath terrace to merge to create single boutique hotel: InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) will open a Hotel Indigo in Bath on the site of two other hotels and a nightclub housed within a grade I-listed Georgian terrace. The hotel will operate under a franchise agreement with St James’ Hotels Group, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Somerston Group, a long-standing IHG partner. This will be Somerston’s first Hotel Indigo property and forms part of a larger portfolio of Hotel Indigos being developed by the group. The new 121-room hotel in South Parade is expected to open towards the end of 2016 and will feature a restaurant, bar and gym. Every Hotel Indigo is designed to reflect its setting and offers locally inspired menus. Anna Corkill, IHG development director for the UK, said: “The boutique hotel market is the fastest-growing segment in the industry and our pioneering Hotel Indigo brand is leading the field in Europe. We’re thrilled to have found such a perfect site in Bath and we’re looking forward to working with St James’ Hotels Group.” There are eight Hotel Indigos in the UK, with a further seven signed into IHG’s development pipeline.

Healthy living restaurant concept Pure Cabin to launch in Liverpool city centre this week: New healthy living restaurant concept Pure Cabin will launch in Liverpool city centre this week offering “guilt-free” food. The restaurant in Queen Square will offer breakfast, lunch and three-course dinner menus, with a nutrition guide and calorie counter on each. Food will be available to eat in or take away, with breakfast options including raw buckwheat and almond porridge, protein pancakes, and fruit and protein shakes. The lunch and dinner menus include asparagus wrapped in prosciutto with coconut oil, protein pesto pizza pot, chicken skewers marinated in lemon and coconut oil, and venison burger in a protein bun. There will also be a separate vegan menu and home delivery service. Pure Cabin marketing manager Paul McGee told the Liverpool Echo: “Our food is not just for people who go the gym but for anyone who is looking to eat healthily or is keeping an eye on their weight. We’re serving real fitness food using fresh ingredients, cooked in the healthiest way. There is nothing like this in Liverpool so we’ll be listening to our customers and their feedback too.”

Wagamama lines up first Italy opening: Wagamama will open in Milan this year after finalising a multi-restaurant deal with Percassi Food & Beverage. The new restaurant means Wagamama has more than 150 operations in 19 countries, including Sweden, New Zealand and Greece. Wagamama international managing director Brian Johnston said: “Over the last few years, young Italians have been embracing many different types of cuisine so it’s the perfect time to bring Wagamama into this fantastic foodie country. We’ve found an exciting franchise partner in Percassi, whose track record speaks for itself.” Percassi has partnerships with businesses including Benetton, Nike, Gucci, Levi’s, Zara, Victoria’s Secret and Lego Group. Matteo Percassi, chief executive of Percassi Food & Beverage, added: “For us, this is an important partnership. The Wagamama family stands for great quality food and outstanding customer service and we have no doubt the Italian people will take Wagamama to their hearts.”

Pacific/Antipodean restaurant Bronte opens in The Strand: Bronte, a new restaurant with a Pacific/Antipodean-style menu created by Andrew Lassetter, has opened at The Strand. The new venue has taken over the space formerly occupied by The Strand Dining Rooms, with the name Bronte a reference to Lord Nelson, the first Duke Of Bronte, who towers over neighbouring Trafalgar Square. Private diners can have the mezzanine to themselves and there is also some outside seating, Hot Dinners reports. Head chef Jonathan Villar previously worked under New Zealand-born chef and author Peter Gordon. Dishes at the all-day restaurant include hot smoked salmon with scrambled duck eggs on brioche; grilled sea bass with watermelon, wild garlic, samphire salad and rhubarb ketchup; pomelo grapefruit with dragon fruit, teardrop radish and smoked bulgur wheat; and roast rare beef with paw paw. The interior has been designed by Tom Dixon (Craft and Sea Containers) taking inspiration from Nelson’s naval career. Each room has custom-made elements such as a pink concrete bar, green granite feature kitchen, pewter cocktail bar, black wood tables with brass-rimmed accents, and blush-pink scoop chairs.

Food Ink to offer 3D-printed dishes at Spitalfields pop-up: Netherlands-based, 3D-printed food concept Food Ink will launch a pop-up restaurant in Spitalfields this month. Food Ink, which operates a restaurant in Venlo, will operate its pop-up outside the Old Truman Brewery in Brick Lane, serving nine-course dinners for three days from Monday, 25 July. Ingredient-filled cartridges will be loaded into a Focus 3D printer – manufactured by technology company byFlow – which will pump out edible, layered structures. Traditional cooking techniques, such as baking or blowtorching can be used afterwards. A full menu has yet to be revealed but “air caviar”, fish and chips, “Caesar’s flower of life”, “mystic prawns”, steak tartar, “love bites” and “3D Boscana” will definitely feature, Gizmodo reports.

Multimillion-pound plans for complex in Beverley to include supermarket, pub and coffee shop: Multimillion-pound plans have been submitted for a Lidl supermarket, pub and coffee shop in Beverley, East Yorkshire. If approved the scheme, put forward by Lidl and developers Cookridge Estates for land north of Beverley’s new Minster Way bypass, would create more than 100 jobs. A new access road would be created off the Minster Way/Hull Road roundabout. Jonathan Wallace, of planning consultants Nathaniel Lichfield and Partners and spokesman for Cookridge Estates, told the Hull Daily Mail: “The new Lidl store would enhance consumer choice for residents of Beverley in a highly accessible location.” Ward councillor Kerri Harold added: “In principle, it looks like a good scheme and something that will enhance the area, which has been an eyesore for years.”

North east restaurateur opens second site on Tyneside beach: Howard Wilson, who operates Crusoe’s restaurant at Tynemouth Longsands, has opened breakfast and brunch bar The View at the opposite end of the beach. The View has opened at the north end of the North Tyneside beach, while Crusoe’s is at the south end. Wilson describes The View as a breakfast and brunch cafe, bar and restaurant serving local, fresh produce as well as a range of beers and wines, and prosecco on tap. The venue opens daily, from 8am to 11pm, with panoramic views of the sea. Wilson and his family joined forces with North Tyneside Council to bring the new restaurant to fruition, with work starting on the building in 2014. A seaside theme features throughout the venue, with seating booths resembling beach huts. Wilson told Chronicle Live: “We’re delighted to be working in partnership with North Tyneside Council, which has great plans to improve the area and attract more visitors.”

Papa John’s franchisee opens third South Wales site, eyes two more this autumn: Franchisee Clif Roberson has opened his third Papa John’s site in South Wales, this time in Pontypridd, and is eyeing two further openings this autumn. Roberson is one of a trio of school friends who also recently opened Papa John’s sites in Merthyr Tydfil and Cwmbran. Roberson said: “So far, we have all been surprised and delighted by the popularity of our new stores, both of which have already doubled original forecasts, seeing strong repeat business. Hot on the heels of Cwmbran and Merthyr, we are now looking forward to introducing Papa John’s to Pontypridd, plus opening two further stores in Wales this autumn. Pontypridd is a superb location for us. We have acquired a former KFC site, adjacent to the university, so we anticipate lots of passing trade. Staff have already been trained in our other stores.” Papa John’s was founded in the US in 1984 and has more than 4,800 stores in 40 international markets and territories, including 300-plus stores in the UK.

Chef to open vegan fine dining restaurant in Stockport: Chef Matthew Nutter will open The Allotment Vegan Restaurant in Stockport next month. The venue in Vernon Street will be the first permanent project by Nutter, who has run a pop-up vegan restaurant in Liverpool for the past few years. Nutter said almost 60% of his customers were meat-eaters looking for something different. The Allotment Vegan Restaurant, which will open on Thursday, 18 August, will feature fresh herbs growing in pallets and oak flooring. All meals will come with a hummus and raw vegetable pre-starter, amuse bouche and pre-dessert as standard, meaning most people will enjoy a six-course vegan meal. Nutter told the Manchester Evening News: “People seem to think of vegan food as just falafel and salad but you restrict yourself – there’s a massive world out there. It’s a chance to really show off the cuisine and the potential the ingredients have. I can make aubergine taste better than steak and cauliflower taste better than chicken.”

Halifax operator starts expansion of tapas restaurant and cocktail bar concepts with double Leeds opening: Entrepreneur Michael Ricci has begun expansion of his Ricci’s Tapas and Cicchetti restaurant and 53 Degrees North cocktail bar concepts with a double opening in Leeds. The tapas restaurant and adjoining cocktail bar are at grade II-listed Goodbard House in the heart of the city’s financial district. The former Allied Irish Bank site has been split in two, with both venues offering access to secret basement gin bar The Vault – while the restaurant also has a private space for ten diners. 53 Degrees North has a late lounge feel and showcases artists and DJs from around the world. It features plush furnishings, with white leather and a marble bar. Ricci’s menu includes a twist on traditional tapas, while Ricci and executive chef Mark Kemp have also created dishes such as goats cheese churros with truffle honey, and poached hake in beer with cockles, asparagus and nduja. Ricci told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “We want to bring something fresh and new to the table that will surprise and excite the people of Leeds – and we will do just that.” Ricci operates Ricci’s Tapas and Cicchetti and 53 Degrees North venues in Halifax, as well as Mediterranean restaurant Ricci’s Place.

Mellors Catering Services enjoys 70% growth in past two years, plans to double turnover: Contract caterer Mellors Catering Services, which operates across the north of England, said its number of catering units had grown by 70% in the past 24 months to almost 200, while it revealed plans to double turnover in the next five years. Mellors chief operating officer Tony Trainor told Propel: “We are at a record number of contracts and plan to double our turnover to £40m in the next five years. What is paramount, however, is the way in which we deliver this growth, ensuring our teams and our customers continue to receive the best-value contract catering available in the industry. Our growth has been a result of a well executed plan. Recruitment, retention and development of people has been at the centre of this plan, including the appointment of several specialist positions to help move the company forward. The talent within our business is exceptional, we were recently nominated for a national Cost Sector Catering award and one of our catering managers has just progressed to the final of the national school baking competition in September – The Big School Bake Off – run by Unilever Food Solutions. This is not only great publicity for Mellors Catering Services but a great demonstration of the talented staff we have working here.” Mellors Catering Services was founded by father-and-son team Tim and Mark Timmerman in 1995.

St Agnes pub doubles takings on country market days: A pub in St Agnes, Cornwall, has set up a monthly country market in its car park with the help of rural pub champions Pub is The Hub – and has seen takings double on market days. David and Ann Marie Napthine, landlord and landlady of the Peterville Inn, came up with the idea to create a regular community event that showcased local suppliers and artistic talent. The couple took over the Punch tenancy in February this year and have been looking at different ways to diversify their business to improve local services. They heard about the work of Pub is The Hub from their Punch business manager Lisa Smart and have been working with Reg Clarke, advisor for the South West, to put the scheme together. Ann Marie said: “We started at the end of May with a Victorian-themed market to attract some attention and it went down extremely well. Our takings easily doubled that day. We have a wide range of traders selling everything from clothes, plants, jewellery, wood-turning, cakes and food. There’s a barbecue and some live entertainment at each one too. The Pub is The Hub initiative fits closely with our plans for the pub. We’re minding the pub for the community; it’s there for their use and enjoyment and we want it to become a place where people know they will be welcomed, looked after and offered activities and events which fit their need. We were grateful we were able to benefit from Pub is The Hub funding and now have a waiting list of people wanting to be involved with the market.”

Staycity Aparthotels commits to Europe expansion despite Brexit: Staycity Aparthotels will continue to forge ahead with its European expansion plans, which will take the company from its current 2,700 apartments, including operating and pipeline properties, to 4,000 apartments by the end of 2016. “We remain committed to expanding in Europe and the UK, where we are actively looking for further sites that will allow us to grow further in line with projections in our five-year business plan,” said Staycity chief executive Tom Walsh. “While the UK’s exit from Europe is likely to cause some uncertainty in both the property and the hotel sectors, particularly when it comes to investment, the UK is strategically an important destination for us to operate within so I can see no reason to change our plans.” Speaking as the Serviced Apartment Summit Europe began in London [12-13 July], Walsh revealed Staycity’s trading results saw an impressive hike last year. He said: “Our turnover reached €40m last year and is expected to grow to €50m this year. A strong performance with higher margins saw our Ebitda rise from €3.85m in 2014 to €5.65m in 2015, up 46%, despite significant additional investment in growth. This was well ahead of our budget for the year and was achieved on notable results across many of our cities. We have achieved this through high levels of customer service, attention to guest feedback, and improved customer understanding of the aparthotel offer.” On Thursday (14 July) Staycity opens the doors to its latest premises in York, following a 12-month building project by construction firm Bowmer & Kirkland. Dublin-based Staycity now operates apartments across eight European cities, including Birmingham, Dublin, Edinburgh, Liverpool, London Heathrow, London Greenwich, Manchester, Paris and York. Another site is due to open later this year in Marseille and further openings next year will be in Covent Garden, Lyon, Liverpool and Manchester. The company is on target to expand to 15,000 apartments by 2021. 

Full speaker schedule for Bar and Nightclub Conference revealed: The full speaker schedule for this year’s Bar and Nightclub Conference, organised by the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) and Propel, has been revealed. It takes place on Tuesday, 11 October at Bafta, Piccadilly, and follows the successful launch of the event last year. ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls will provide an update on political and regulatory developments. Phil Tate, chief executive of CGA Strategy, which has retailer specialist CGA Peach as a division, reveals details of new research of usage, areas of growth, food and drink trends and evolution within the UK bar and nightclub market. Toby Smith, chief executive of bar, nightclub and restaurant operator Novus Leisure, will talk about how the company is meeting the needs of customers in London’s evolving bar and nightclub scene, including offer evolution and social media developments. Luke Johnson, sector investor and executive chairman of Brighton Pier Company and investor in Grand Union Group, will speak 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 the company, and his perspective on the future for the bar and nightclub sector. Serial sector entrepreneur Roy Ellis will talk about the launch of the ground-breaking Albert’s Schloss concept in Manchester a year ago, its USPs, versatility, first-year performance and roll-out potential – and set out the scope of the involvement of his Mission Mars business in Manchester’s late-night scene. Jimmy Bernstein will talk 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. John Leslie, chief executive of Intertain, will talk about evolving the Walkabout brand and opening new sites, working with new comedy partner Comedy Loft, the regulatory regime, its new Birmingham concept 6 on Broad Street and the company’s relationship with backer Better Capital. Leading licensing barrister Philip Kolvin QC will provide a personal perspective on the key legal issues and developments facing bar and nightclub operators in the current climate. There will also be a panel hosted by Nicholls with Alan Miller, chairman of the Night Time Industries Association, Mick McDonnell, national co-ordinator of Best Bar None, Paddy Whur, of Woods Whur, Peter Marks, chief executive of Deltic Group, and Richard Stringer, chief executive of Kornicis, about the challenges, opportunities and threats to the bar and nightclub sector. Tickets are priced at £95 for operators who are ALMR members and £145 for non-ALMR members. 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

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