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Thu 28th Jul 2016 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

BBPA – buoyant British beer like-for-like sales up 31 million pints in second quarter: Buoyant British beer sales in the second quarter highlight further signs of reversing a long period of decline, with like-for-like sales up 1.5%, according to the latest figures from the British Beer & Pub Association’s (BBPA) quarterly Beer Barometer. The rise means Britons enjoyed 31 million extra pints from April to June, compared with the same period in 2015. Off-trade sales during the Euro 2016 tournament were a big source of the boost, with sales rising by 4.8%. On-trade sales fared less well, slipping by 1.9%, although this was one of the lowest second-quarter drops for the on-trade in recent years. Beer sales have risen by 1.2% during the past year, and have been relatively stable since early 2013 following years of decline. The marked change in trend coincides with reductions in beer duty, which began with a pioneering 1p cut in the March 2013 Budget. This was followed by two further 1p cuts and a freeze this year, putting an end to years of steep beer tax hikes. Increased confidence in the sector has been accompanied by greater investment and campaigns such as There’s a Beer for That, in which Britain’s Beer Alliance promotes the beer category as a whole, with widespread backing throughout the industry. BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “These are yet more encouraging figures, and the football has given a real boost to sales. It is quite clear we owe a huge debt of thanks to the cuts in beer duty from 2013. I hope the government continues with this pioneering change in approach, and we continue to see support for fairer taxes for British beer.” There’s A Beer For That programme director David Cunningham added: “We can see the campaign messages of quality, diversity and versatility of beer and our focus on encouraging people to pair different styles of beer with their meals is beginning to have a positive impact. This, in turn, is playing a part in the recovery of the category.”

Industry News:

Haysmacintyre and Propel benchmarking survey deadline extended: The deadline of the third annual haysmacintyre UK Hospitality Index benchmarking survey for multi-site pub, restaurant and foodservice operators in association with Propel has been extended. The foremost financial benchmarking study for pubs, restaurants and bars – covering trading, staffing, capital and funding, and property – the survey report will deliver quality financial data and benchmarking intelligence to help hospitality businesses understand their sector better and improve operations. If you would like to complete the survey and receive the final report, please click on this link. The survey will now close on Tuesday, 2 August. Information provided will be reproduced anonymously within this year’s haysmacintyre UK Hospitality Index report, which will be published in September. Data and comments will not be attributed to respondents.

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), 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), and HOP Vietnamese (authentic Vietnamese “fast, fresh and fearless” food). 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

Kent-headquartered food wholesaler and restaurant operator appoints administrators: Kent-headquartered food wholesaler Silverstar Foods, which also operates a restaurant in Tunbridge Wells, has called in administrators, resulting in the loss of more than 450 jobs. Will Wright, Mark Orton and Colin Haig, of KPMG Restructuring, have been appointed joint administrators to Silverstar Foods, which owns the Turners Fine Foods brand. The company had about 3,000 customers and employed 484 workers across sites in Goudhurst (311), Tonbridge (53), Christchurch in Dorset (98), and Earby in Lancashire (12). The business also operated the Camden Quarter restaurant in Tunbridge Wells, where ten staff were employed. On the appointment of administrators, all operations ceased to trade and a total of 457 staff members were notified of their redundancy. A skeleton staff has been retained to assist with fulfilling outstanding orders and effecting a wind-down of the business. Wright told Insider Media: “Following a period of sustained losses and despite the directors’ best efforts to effect a turnaround and sale of the business, the company was unable to continue to trade and the directors took the difficult decision to place it into administration. Over the coming days, we will commence an orderly wind-down of the business and will also be speaking to interested parties with a view of trying to secure a sale of the assets. We would encourage anybody who may be interested in acquiring either stock or assets to contact the joint administrators as soon as possible.”

Stifel – US restaurants showing signs of heading for sector-wide recession: Stifel analyst Paul Westra has argued that US restaurants are showing signs of heading towards a sector-wide recession. Westra said restaurant sales appeared to be slowing, with those sales strongly indicative of consumer spending habits. US economic growth is largely predicated on consumer spending, therefore a slow in spending is likely to indicate slowing growth, and possibly even outright recession, reports Business Insider. In a note to clients, Westra said: “We adopt a bearish outlook for restaurants as we confidently believe that, at a minimum, the simultaneous (-1.5%) to (-2%) deceleration of restaurant industry comparables across all categories during the second quarter of 2016 within our most recent Stifel Sales Survey reflects the start of a US restaurant recession. This may also represent a harbinger to a US recession in early 2017 and, if so, restaurants have historically led the market lower during the three-to-six-month periods prior to the start of the past three US recessions. The catalyst for the current weak pre-recessionary restaurant spending trend is likely to be multi-faceted (US politics, terrorism, social unrest, global geo-politics, economic uncertainty) but, if history is a guide, we warn investors that restaurant industry sales tend to be the ‘canary that lays the recessionary egg’ (ie the current -2% cutback in dining out sales is a possible harbinger of a -2%-plus cutback in the US consumers’ entire spending basket within three to nine months.” In the second half of 2016, Stifel said he expected a 20% fall in restaurant stocks – a decline that would look similar to a trend seen ahead of each of the last three US recessions. Last month, research by NPD Group indicated sales in the restaurant sector were flat, reflecting consumers’ lack of confidence in the economy. This was followed by a preliminary consumer confidence survey from the University of Michigan – the first following the UK’s Brexit vote, which has served as the main destabilising event of the past couple of months – that showed a sharp decline in confidence among wealthier households.

CBRE – UK prime commercial rents up 1% boosted by central London growth: Rents across the UK’s prime commercial property crept up by 1.0% in the second quarter of 2016, boosted by near-record levels of rental growth in central London sites, according to CBRE’s latest Prime Rent and Yield Monitor. In a quarter characterised by uncertainty surrounding the EU referendum, prime yields remained stable, implying flat capital values overall. Rents grew significantly across several sectors during the quarter, with high street shops and industrial rents rising 2.8% and 1.4% respectively. Central London saw the greatest rental growth among high street sites driving up overall shop rents, increasing by 8.9% over the last quarter, some way ahead of the 0.2% rental growth in shops across the rest of the UK. A third of the tracked locations in central London saw rent increases over the quarter, which CBRE said showed retailers were still willing to pay premium rents for the limited stock available in the most sought after streets of the capital. Prime yields remained almost flat during the quarter, rising by four basis points to remain close to 5.4%. Yields from prime shops and shopping centres remained unchanged during the three months, while the office sector also saw little yield fluctuation, ticking up one basis point. Industrials and retail warehouses were the main drivers of the slight uplift in overall yields in the second quarter. Miles Gibson, head of UK Research at CBRE, said: “The second quarter wasn’t exactly business as usual for the UK’s political and economic landscape, but despite the heightened uncertainty in the run up to the referendum vote, the commercial property sector demonstrated strong underlying health, with yields largely unmoved in core markets. In particular, ample demand for commercial space pushed up rents nationwide, especially in prime London retail, which saw some of the highest rental growth on record. The capital is open for business, and remains an attractive proposition for occupiers seeking to locate in a world-leading global city, and investors and landlords capitalising on this desire. Although the shadow cast by Brexit means rental growth is unlikely to grow at this pace next quarter, the UK is well positioned to capitalise on the demand for new space.”

Eataly to open second New York site, first one gets five million visitors a year: Eataly, which is to open in London in partnership with Selfridges, will open a second store in Manhattan next month, this time in the Westfield World Trade Center complex. “We think there may be a different customer downtown,” said Nicola Farinetti, chief executive of Eataly in the US, where his partner is Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group. “We have noted that people get going earlier, with crowds in the streets in the morning, so we’re adding breakfast, which we have never done.” A juice bar will open from 7am at the top of the escalators to the third floor of the almost completed 4 World Trade Center tower, as will casual restaurant Orto e Mare (Garden and Sea), with a counter where granola, smoked salmon, pancakes, frittatas and other egg dishes will be served. Other firsts at this Eataly include a salad bar, a gastronomia for prepared food, and La Piadina, where traditional flatbread sandwiches will be made to order. With the new store, New York joins Dubai in the United Arab Emirates as the only cities to feature two Eatalys. The debut New York store in the Flatiron area had five million visitors last year.

Diners tending to veer away from traditional food and drink pairing recommendations, more choosing soft drinks: Diners are tending to veer away from traditional food and drink pairing recommendations, according to new research by guest experience management experts HospitalityGEM. Its survey into consumers’ food and drink habits produced some unconventional results. For example, the majority of diners would opt for a glass of red wine with their pork belly and the uptake of soft drinks was much larger than it anticipated. As expected, food and drink pairings do differ based on both age and gender. Age was the most influential factor on whether diners chose soft drinks, with 29% of 18 to 25-year-olds picking this option at some point in the survey. This figure decreased with age to only 16%. However, the popularity of soft drinks becomes popular again with those aged 66 and over, with nearly 45% choosing this most often. Somewhat more traditionally, men were found to be significantly more likely to pair ale with food and women more likely to select white wine. 12% of men selected ale at some point in the survey, compared with only 3% of women. Women selected white wine 27% of the time, compared with 20% of men. HospitalityGEM managing director Steven Pike said: “The results highlight the importance of a front-of-house team’s interaction with guests. Training can indicate what drinks the operator would recommend with a meal, but interaction can indicate where staff can add something to what the guest is already looking for. This also provides front-of-house staff with an opportunity to upsell. It also draws our attention to the importance of a quality and varied soft drink offering. With alcohol losing popularity among millennials and Generation Z, an attractive soft drink offering, paired with the passion of team members, could mean the difference between a good and great guest experience.”

Company News:

Sunderland-based music venue operator launches burger and craft beer restaurant concept in city: Sunderland-based music venue operator Ben Wall has opened a burger and craft beer restaurant concept in the city. Wall has launched No 2 Church Lane, named after its address, having converted the former Alenia’s music shop site and the neighbouring Concept Eye Clinic. He has invested £10,000 to transform the two buildings into the new venue, which features stripped-back walls and period features that have helped preserve the character of the historic buildings. It serves 17 different burger varieties, including seven vegetarian and vegan options. Draught beers include San Miguel, Shed Head, Shipyard and Vedett, while the choice of 70 bottled beers features brews from Beavertown, Darwin and Old Hag. Wall, who also operates the music venue Independent in Holmeside, told the Sunderland Echo: “I was looking for something different to Independent, which is based around its events. But this venue is somewhere people can come and relax for a nice beer and a nice burger. There have been a lot of new openings recently and it’s great for the city centre, there’s more variety now than ever before. People don’t just have to stick to the same route.”

Malhotra Group unveils £3.5m plan to expand Jesmond hotel and create area’s first gin house: Newcastle-based pub, restaurant and hotel operator Malhotra Group has unveiled a £3.5m plan to expand its New Northumbria Hotel in Jesmond and create the area’s first gin house. The company has put forward proposals to add 12 rooms to the 55-bed site and create 24 jobs. It includes new apartment-style rooms and an upgrade for all existing hotel rooms. Atul Malhotra, operations director of the Malhotra Group, said it would result in the complete remodelling and refurbishment of the entire rear section of the hotel in Osborne Road. He told Chronicle Live: “These exciting proposals for the New Northumbria Hotel will improve our offering at this first-class venue and help support our ambition to widen the hotel’s existing client base. We are also delighted to be creating the area’s first gin house, which will offer an opportunity to relax and enjoy a friendly, sociable environment. At the rear of Scalinis restaurant our aim is to enhance the existing hotel bar by transforming it into the new Jesmond Gin House.” Malhotra Group is consulting residents on its plans before lodging a planning application with Newcastle City Council. If approved, work would start in early 2017.

Draco Pub Company submits plans for major refurbishment of historic Dorchester hotel: Draco Pub Company has submitted plans for the major refurbishment of a historic Dorchester hotel. The company has applied to West Dorset Council to upgrade all accommodation at The Kings Arms in High East Street along with the bar and restaurant area, having acquired the grade II-listed building last year. It plans to reopen the hotel, which is thought to be more than 280 years old having been named in Thomas Hardy’s novel The Mayor of Casterbridge, in early 2017, reports the Dorset Echo. The planning application stated: “The building has suffered greatly from layers of corporate-styled fit-outs over the years that have had little regard for the historic fabric or individuality of the building and its long history. A substantial refurbishment of the ground floor, together with minor internal alterations, is proposed to accommodate a new, high-quality restaurant and a more attractive and accessible pub bar that will serve the local residential and business community as well as hotel guests. The building remains a key landmark in the town and its present condition represents a waste of a tremendous asset.” Draco Pub company also owns The Swan in Wedmore, The White Hart in Somerton, and Timbrell’s Yard in Bradford on Avon.

Steve Easterbrook – McDonald’s gaining market share in UK through ‘commitment to running great restaurants’, will create 5,000 jobs by end-2017: McDonald’s chief executive Steve Easterbrook said the company was gaining market share in the UK through a “commitment to running great restaurants” as well as a focus on initiatives that “create customer excitement” such as new menu propositions, promotions and store formats. The company saw “all-time monthly highs” in guest counts and average order value in the UK in April and May, as a marketing focus on quality and sustainability and investment in new store formats and technology paid off. Easterbrook said that while Brexit had created “uncertainty” in the UK and Europe, he was “confident” in McDonald’s ability to “manage through the change” and said the company had so far seen “no significant change” in consumer demand. He added that the company was committed to the UK and would create 5,000 jobs by the end of 2017, taking its total number of employees in the UK to 115,000. He said: “We have a long track record of success in the UK and in the second quarter compelling promotions plus the performance of our ‘experience the future’ restaurants led to growth in average cheque and guest counts, breaking our all-time monthly highs in April and May.” His comments come as McDonald’s revealed its turnaround strategy remained “on track”, with global sales up 3.1% in the second quarter. Sales at its “international lead” division, which includes the UK, increased by 2.6% with operating income up 4%. While McDonald’s has performed well in the UK, it has struggled globally and particularly in its home market of the US, where rival fast food brands such as Chipotle and a shift in consumer habits have dented sales and the brand’s reputation. However, Easterbrook claimed initiatives aimed at improving brand perception were paying off, citing recent YouGov data showing McDonald’s was the fourth most improved across all brands and the most improved in the fast food brand in the US. He also claimed customer satisfaction was up by 6% due to improvements in order accuracy, quality food perception, friendliness and speed of service. It will also take its “experience of the future” formats to the US. These aim to “take out interactions that don’t add value”, for example by introducing self-order kiosks or mobile ordering. Easterbrook also credited its tie-up with Pokémon Go for boosting sales in Japan and said it formed part of its strategy to “talk to leadership partners”. McDonald’s was the first brand to advertise on Pokémon Go, paying to see 3,000 of its fast food restaurants in Japan become ‘Pokémon gyms’ in the virtual reality game. Players must visit these locations to progress in the game by becoming the gym’s champion. Easterbrook added: “Our relationship with [game developer] Niantic is driven by the Japanese team. It is a global phenomenon, clearly, and we always want to talk to leadership partners around the world.”

Thaikhun, Comptoir Libanais and Absurd Bird set for Bath: Aviva Investors and British Land have secured three new restaurants at SouthGate Bath. All the operators are new to the city. Thai street food chain Thaikhun (3,700 square feet, 25-year lease), Lebanese and eastern Mediterranean restaurant Comptoir Libanais (4,000 square feet, 20-year lease) and Absurd Bird (3,000 square feet, 20-year lease), which is taking its American Deep South specialities outside London for the first time, are set to take space in SouthGate’s newly redeveloped Little SouthGate restaurant quarter. Together they will form a new dining destination for residents and visitors to Bath, bringing more choice to further strengthen the existing SouthGate restaurant offer, which includes Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Prezzo and Graze. The three restaurants will open in September and October this year in Newark Street and St Lawrence Street. The new area will have glazed facades and canopies providing covered outdoor seating for diners. Simon Green, associate director for Aviva Investors, said: “The new restaurants will help further extend the already broad appeal of Bath, establishing SouthGate as a thriving destination in the city centre. The restaurants will offer diverse dining choices for local people and visitors, as well as creating new jobs for the city.”

Tapasya to open £1m site in Hull Fruit Market: Wykeland Group has announced that Indian restaurant and bar, Tapasya, will be launching a 3,400 sq ft site at the Fruit Market in Hull. The deal marks the latest stage in the extensive £80m Fruit Market development being carried out by Wykeland Group and Beal Homes in partnership with Hull City Council ahead of Hull’s year as UK City of Culture in 2017. Opening in September, ‘Tapasya @ Marina’ will be the second restaurant for Tapasya, following the success of their debut site on Beverley High Road in Hull. Owners Tapan Mahapatra and Mukesh Tirkoti, are investing £1 million in the new site, which is located in the former CatZero building overlooking Hull Marina. The launch will create 30 new jobs. The menu will cater for lunch and evening meals with a focus on seasonal ingredients. A unique take-away menu for boat owners in the Marina, which will be the first of its kind in the area, will also be available. Tapan Mahapatra, co-founder of Tapasya, said: “Our latest investment is a clear sign we are making a strong commitment to the regeneration of the Fruit Market area and the promotion of tourism in Hull ahead of Hull UK City of Culture 2017, of which we are strong advocates. We are excited by the vision for the renewal of the Fruit Market and the substantial investments that are being made to make the area a thriving place of culture, creativity and commercial activity. It will be the perfect home for our second restaurant.”

New gourmet burger concept opens in Nottingham, second site already secured: A new gourmet burger concept has opened in Nottingham with its owners already planning expansion having secured a second site. Brothers Tazz and Dan Butt have teamed up with Peter Paprocki to launch the Real Burger Company (RBCO) in Gregory Boulevard in the city’s Hyson Green neighbourhood. The restaurant has capacity for 37 diners with further seating available outside. The decor is purple, except for one wall that is used to record the names of people who successfully complete The Challenge – a burger containing four patties with large fries, gherkin, red-cabbage coleslaw and a milkshake. RBCO said it was the first gourmet burger specialist in Nottingham to use halal meat, with the burgers served on a locally baked brioche bun. Tazz Butt told the Nottingham Post: “We have been in the food industry for four generations, going back to my great-grandfather in Pakistan. We have put a lot of thought into this project – it was a journey of 18 months, but we think it’s an offer that will go down well in Hyson Green.” He said the concept was suitable for expansion and already had planning permission for a second restaurant at an undisclosed location.

Snug Bars reports 4.6% like-for-like sales growth in first quarter: Snug Bars, the group of neighbourhood-style bars and kitchens, has reported strong trading figures for the first quarter, with like-for-like sales growth of more than 4.6% year-on-year and total sales up 7.6%. The first quarter saw the company continue its refurbishment plan. New menu additions also provided guests with the chance to try a wider variety of dishes and cocktails. Owner Giles Fry said: “We’ve had a great start to the year and are feeling optimistic about the future with our Ebitda figures significantly up on last year. With the new Bedford site opening recently and with new openings in the pipeline, there’s much to look forward to at The Snug, as we continue to expand while relying on our much-loved drink and food offerings.” The Snug currently has eight sites across the south of England in Hertford, Hitchin, St Albans, Ware, High Wycombe, Cambridge Lensfield Road, Cambridge Grafton and the recently launched Bedford bar.

Harbour Hotels opens restaurant and cocktail bar at Brighton seafront site: Harbour Hotels, which operates boutique hotels across the south of England, has opened The Jetty Restaurant and separate cocktail venue HarBar within its Brighton seafront site. The Jetty has taken over the space formerly occupied by the Little Bay restaurant, and features locally sourced, seasonal produce with a seafood focus, an eclectic wine list and cocktail menu. Dishes include fruit de mer seafood platters and oysters, with meat options available from the grill. Next door, HarBAR is a destination bar, with stylish decor, contemporary artwork, seafront views and a marble-top bar. Mixologists serve innovative cocktails that can be enjoyed alongside Jetty bites and sharing platters, while DJs will play sets on Friday and Saturday nights. The 79 bedrooms at the hotel in King’s Road will become available to book from next month. In early 2017, the hotel’s spa will open, including the city’s first rooftop infinity pool. Harbour Hotels operates other Jetty restaurants at its venues in Christchurch, Dorset, and Salcombe, Devon. The Brighton site is the company’s 11th hotel, with further openings planned in Bristol and Southampton.

Marston’s applies to build hotel next to Staffordshire pub: Marston’s has lodged an application with South Staffordshire Council to build “lodge-style” accommodation next to The Spread Eagle pub and restaurant in Gailey, near Cannock. The 38-bedroom hotel would be built just to the side of the Marston’s venue in Watling Street, with the entrance remaining the same but car parking spaces cut to 108 from 135. The move has been welcomed by South Staffordshire MP Gavin Williamson and councillors, who said it would be a huge boost for the area. Marston’s spokeswoman Lauren Smith told the Express & Star: “The Spread Eagle is a hugely popular pub on a busy arterial road, the proposed lodge would satisfy a demand for more quality accommodation in the area.”

Peel Hunt – ‘we’re encouraged by M&B remodels/conversion strategy but it will take time to make material impact’: Peel Hunt leisure analysts Ali Naqvi and Ivor Jones said they were encouraged by Mitchells & Butlers’ remodels/conversion strategy but it would take time to make a material impact. Issuing a ‘Hold’ note on the shares with a target price of 262p following the company’s quarter three trading update, Naqvi and Jones said: “The group saw like-for-like sales fall -0.7% in quarter three 2016 (-1.3% year to date), recovering from half one 2016 like-for-likes of -1.6%, a slightly better than expected outcome given the impact of poor weather and Euro 2016 in quarter three. Food sales recovered to -1.5% in quarter three 2016 (-1.8% year to date) from -2.0% at the half year (against a tough comparative of 2.5% in quarter three 2015). Drink sales grew 0.2% in quarter three 2016 (-0.9% year to date) from -1.5% in the first half (and quarter three 2015 comparative of -1.0%). Mitchells & Butlers has pursued a strategy of site reinvestment and conversions, with 294 sites reinvested since FY2015. These sites exhibited +10% like-for-like growth in half one 2016 and the trend continued in quarter three despite adverse weather and the impact of Euro 2016. Mitchells & Butlers aims to complete 250 remodels/conversion in FY2016. While we are encouraged by the strategy, it will take time to make a material impact to the circa 1,800 estate and margins will not be helped by rising input costs with half two National Living Wage headwinds of circa £7m. We maintain our ‘Hold’ recommendation and set our target price at 262p (from under review), valuing the group at seven times FY2017 price-to-earnings ratio, reflecting the near-term headwinds around input prices and the length of time required for the capex-led recovery strategy to take effect.”

London-based Angel Comedy Club completes crowdfunding campaign having raised more than £46,000: London-based Angel Comedy Club has completed its crowdfunding campaign to help fund a permanent home, having raised more than £46,000. The club, which has been operating in a small room above the Camden Head in Islington for the past six years, has secured the lease on a nearby Victorian pub, formerly known as The Mucky Pup. It launched the fund-raise on Kickstarter to fit out the site, aiming to raise £20,000. It has now closed the campaign having raised £46,643 from 1,049 investors. The team behind the venue said the money would allow it to finish work on the venue, build a training room and podcast studio and start developing community projects. Club director Dec Munro told the Islington Gazette: “We’re amazed and completely humbled. Now we’ve got the chance to make this place brilliant!” The club hopes to open its new site in September.

Individual Restaurants to open £3m 400-seat Opera Grill in Chester next week: Individual Restaurants will open its new £3m venue Opera Grill in Chester next Thursday (4 August). The restaurant, which will be the flagship for the company’s Restaurant Bar & Grill brand, will launch the 400-seat site in the Chester Dining Quarter in Pepper Street to complete the complex’s line-up. Housed in a former Methodist chapel, it is reported to be the biggest restaurant in the city centre. It is sandwiched between Casual Dining Group brand Las Iguanas and The Restaurant Group-owned Coast to Coast, which opened last year along with Prezzo’s Tex Mex brand Chimichanga. In a statement, the company said: “Following a painstaking restoration of the listed building to restore it to its former glory, a further £3m has been invested to create a 400-seater restaurant, which boasts a ground-floor restaurant and bar, first-floor restaurant and bar, along with a south facing, all-year roof terrace that is sure to be a hit with Chester sun seekers.” Individual Restaurants founder Steven Walker told the Chester Chronicle: “The building has played an important role throughout its history, originally as a Methodist church and then contributing massively in the war effort when it was used as a garage to manufacture wings for Spitfires – so it was only right we made the building something special again for Chester.” Individual Restaurants’ other brands are Piccolino, Bank Restaurant & Bar, and its collaborations with celebrity chef Gino D’Acampo.

Carlsberg UK launches latest ‘Crafted’ beer and cider range: Carlsberg UK has launched its 2016/17 “Crafted” portfolio of world, craft and speciality beers, with an extended range, a new craft cider section, and a focus on British products. The portfolio is complemented by the “Crafted Handbook”, a guide to trends among producers and consumers, featuring category insights and recommendations from industry influencers such as award-winning beer writer Pete Brown and The Thinking Drinkers, Ben McFarland and Tom Sandham. The handbook provides information on each brand, including tasting notes and range positioning tips. The new range has added 14 draught beers, 17 packaged beers and an extended seasonal range. Responding to market trends, it also offers an up-weighted canned beer selection and a craft cider section for the first time. Paul Waller, director of third-party brands at Carlsberg UK, said: “This year we have a balanced range from the US and Europe and greater emphasis on the UK, recognising the quality of innovation from home-grown brands and products. The handbook is an entertaining and educational tool, suitable for publicans who want to venture into craft beer for the first time as much as it is for aficionados looking for inspiration on the latest innovations from the category.” Now in its third year, the Crafted portfolio is sourced from Carlsberg UK’s third-party partners and the Carlsberg Group global portfolio.

Birmingham-based brewery gets go-ahead to launch restaurant, bar and takeaway venture: Birmingham-based The Indian Brewery has been given the go-ahead to launch a restaurant, bar and takeaway in a vacant unit at Queensway Arches in the Jewellery Quarter. The brewery, which is based in Great Barr and makes a small range of craft beers, has been granted permission by the city council to convert arch 16 in Livery Street, which was previously occupied by coffee shop Brewsmiths. The venue will open daily between 7.30am and 1am and is expected to create up to ten jobs, including four full-time roles, reports Insider Media. Council planners said the scheme would bring the unit into economic use “without harming the character or quality” of the area. Livery Street, part of which lies under the platforms of Snow Hill Station, is currently home to The Tunnel nightclub and grade II-listed Victorian toilets. A cafe and jazz club has received permission to open at arch 24.

Shepherd Neame reopens historic Kent hotel following £650,000 refurbishment: Shepherd Neame, the Kent-based brewer, pub and hotel operator, has reopened the Royal Albion hotel in Broadstairs following a £650,000 refurbishment project, including a major restaurant expansion. Built in 1760, the 21-bedroom hotel is in the heart of the Kent coastal town, with a commanding position on the clifftop overlooking Viking Bay. The four-month programme included building a conservatory with spectacular sea views to accommodate 40 diners. The a la carte restaurant has also been remodelled, with new decor and furniture throughout. New equipment has also been installed in the kitchen, while the gardens have been landscaped, including a new decking area. Shepherd Neame director of retail and tenanted operations Nigel Bunting said: “We are thrilled to unveil this exciting new refurbishment project, which represents a massive investment, not just in the hotel but the local area. We are confident the new-look Royal Albion will prove a popular destination for leisure and business guests, providing a boost for the town.”

Nando’s to open its first restaurant in Northumberland, next week: Nando’s will open its first restaurant in Northumberland – at Manor Walks shopping centre in Cramlington, near Newcastle, next Wednesday (3 August). Nando’s will join a host of other restaurants already resident at Manor Walks, including The Restaurant Group-owned Frankie & Benny’s, Greene King’s family-friendly chain Hungry Horse, and Italian brand Prezzo, as well as Northumberland’s only multiplex cinema. Sarah Turnbull, of Manor Walks shopping centre, told Chronicle Live: “Not only are we welcoming a fantastic new type of cuisine that further adds to our great restaurant credentials, we’re also giving something new and exciting to our customers. We are looking forward to a busy and successful summer and, of course, welcoming a bit of peri peri into Manor Walks.” Nando’s operates more than 350 restaurants across the UK and Ireland.

Portuguese food and wine concept Bar Douro to launch at London Bridge: Portuguese food and wine concept Bar Douro will launch at London Bridge in September. The new restaurant in Flat Iron Square will offer a contemporary take on Portuguese cuisine alongside a wide range of regional wines. The concept is the brainchild of Max Graham, whose family business, Churchill’s Port, has been making wine in the Douro Valley for two centuries. Graham created eight-month pop-up Churchill’s Port House in Soho in 2013, followed by a series of sold-out supper clubs in London and a three-month residency in Porto with head chef Tiago Santos. Graham and Santos have spent the past year travelling around Portugal discovering culinary secrets and sourcing produce. Bar Douro’s small-plate focused menu will include suckling pig, octopus with sweet potato and favas, and bísaropork ribs with ruby port glaze. Traditional desserts will include fondants, tarts, cinnamon ice cream and Portuguese cheeses with tomato jam. Graham will work closely with independent winemakers to import a selection of wines not currently available in the UK market. Regular wine tastings will be held in the first-floor private dining and events space.

Beds and Bars venue The Dugout named best sports pub in London: The Dugout Sports Bar, operated by pan-European hostel and bar company Beds and Bars, has won a prestigious award. The venue at London Bridge was named Best Sports Pub in London in the Matchpint Best Pub Awards. The Dugout opened in March 2014 in Borough High Street and shows all international sports on multi-screens and projectors, as well as offering beer pong, table football, gaming machines, and a menu including burgers, bar snacks, sharing plates, wings and wraps. Beds and Bars managing director Murray Roberts said: “We are all extremely excited to receive the award. Everyone is very proud of what we have achieved in creating the ultimate sports bar in The Dugout and we will continue to strive for the best in showcasing sports from all over the world.”

Halewood buys significant stake in Irish whiskey maker: Halewood International, which is headquartered in Huyton, has bought a significant stake in independent Irish whiskey distillery West Cork Distillers. The company already distributes West Cork Distillers products in eight markets and has plans to expand the company’s global reach. Stewart Hainsworth, chief executive of Halewood Wines & Spirits, said: “This purchase reflects our commitment to working with West Cork Distillers to develop a long-term partnership for the distillery, Skibbereen and the beautiful county of Cork. West Cork Distillers has a great brand story to tell, and their innovation and passion for whiskey will help to deliver further success. Halewood continues to grow its spirits portfolio with craft products that offer the trade and consumers a point-of-difference from the mainstream brands. West Cork Distillers reflects our entrepreneurial attitude to develop new products and increase distribution both in the UK and internationally.” John O’Connell, managing director and co-founder of West Cork Distillers, said: “This partnership offers a great opportunity to take the business forward. It strengthens our offering in new markets while supporting our existing and greatly valued distribution partners to greater degree through the development of a cohesive marketing strategy. We are looking forward to the future; Halewood is a great partner to have in your corner.” Halewood’s brands include Lambrini, Crabbie’s, Red Square and Whitley Neill.

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

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