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Tue 2nd Aug 2016 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

HMRC wins tax case against Greene King: HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has won its case against Greene King over the use of a tax avoidance scheme. HMRC defeated the scheme in the Court of Appeal, earning back about £30m in tax from Greene King and other large groups, after two previous battles in lower courts in 2011 and 2014. The scheme was marketed by EY (formerly Ernst & Young) in 2003 to Greene King as well as other companies and it involved loans between group companies. The aim was for one company in a group to get tax relief on interest paid to another group company without that other company paying tax on the income it received. Financial secretary to the Treasury, Jane Ellison, said: “This is a significant victory. Tax avoidance schemes like these attempt to deprive the Exchequer of money that’s needed to provide the vital public services and infrastructure we all rely on. We will not let such schemes go unchallenged.” A Greene King spokesman said the company always ensures it complies with tax regulations by following the advice of lawyers and tax experts including, in this case, EY. She said: “We accept the Court of Appeal’s decision on this long-running case. Greene King is a British business with a 217-year heritage and a major contributor to the Treasury with over a quarter of our turnover paid to HMRC. We are proud of the significant contribution we make to the UK and the Treasury and in the last financial year alone we paid £570m in taxes.”
 

Industry News:

More than 60 companies take part in haysmacintyre and Propel benchmarking survey, deadline today: More than 60 sector businesses have now taken part in the third annual haysmacintyre UK Hospitality Index benchmarking survey for multi-site pub, restaurant and foodservice operators in association with Propel. 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. Companies taking part receive a copy of the final report. If you would like to complete the survey and receive the final report, please click on this link. The survey will close today (Tuesday, 2 August). Information provided will be reproduced anonymously within this year’s haysmacintyre UK Hospitality Index report, which will be published in September.
 
Propel Premium subscribers to receive enlarged database at end of August, next Propel Premium recording to feature Rufus Hall: Propel Premium subscribers will receive a copy of the Propel database of 700 multi-site companies at the end of this month, an addition of 200 companies to the first database they received when the service was launched in March. Propel managing director Paul Charity said: “The growth of our database of multi-site companies is testament to the growth of professionalised foodservice companies in the sector.” This Friday (5 August) subscribers will also receive an audio recording of sector executive Rufus Hall explaining how he and his team built a unique people culture at Orchid Pub Company, which was recognised by the Sunday Times as one of the UK’s best employers. Propel Premium subscribers, whose subscription lasts a year from the date of signing up, also receive the Propel Blue Book guide to sector turnover and profitability. The Blue Book lists and ranks 200 sector companies by turnover, profitability and profit conversion. It also provides a five-year overview of profitability and directors’ salaries. The current free service to all existing readers remains the same, but readers can opt to upgrade to receive the Propel Premium service. Propel Premium subscribers will be able to receive the Morning Newsletter, which is sent at 6.30am each weekday, 12 hours earlier at 6.30pm the day before. For operators, annual subscription costs £345 plus VAT, with an extra £50 per additional subscriber at each company. For suppliers, annual subscription costs £445 plus VAT, with an extra £50 per additional subscriber at each company. To subscribe to the Propel Premium service, email Anne Steele on anne.steele@propelinfo.com
 
Healthy recipe box startup Mindful Chef completes crowdfunding campaign having raised more than £1m: Healthy recipe box startup Mindful Chef has closed its campaign on crowdfunding platform Seedrs having raised more than £1m. The “farm to fork” business, founded last year by Robert Grieg-Gran, Giles Humphries and Myles Hopper, was looking to raise £400,013 in return for an 11.76% equity stake to expand marketing efforts and develop an app. It has now closed the campaign having raised £1,020,563 with its investors including Tossed founder Vincent McKevitt, tennis star Andy Murray and Rugby World Cup winner Will Greenwood. The company’s aim is to promote convenient, healthy eating through a range of gluten-free, organic items delivered to consumer’s homes. Users select recipes online, noting any dietary preferences, and Mindful Chef sources and delivers the relevant produce, which consumers cook at their own convenience. Recipes rotate weekly and are created by head chef Louise Mitchell. The pitch states: “We focus on the healthy and premium end of the recipe box market and ship all the ingredients you need to make two-to-five evening meals – all with fresh organic produce and no refined carbs (no pasta, no white rice, no bread). We pride ourselves on our innovative uses of vegetables in evening meals that are both gluten-free and dairy-free. We ship nationwide, and cater for one-person, two-person and four-person boxes. To our knowledge, we also offer the UK’s first and only vegan recipe box, alongside our meat and fish options.” 
 
McDonald’s branch in Wales trials ‘walk-thru’: A branch of McDonald’s in Llandudno, North Wales, has trialled a “walk-thru”. The restaurant usually closes at midnight but has a 24-hour licence for the drive-thru. The branch posted on its Facebook page t it was inviting local residents to the “walk through the drive-thru” between 2.30am and 4am on Saturday(30 July), catering for clubbers leaving a newly reopened nightclub. It proved a success with the night going “extremely well” according to staff. A McDonald’s spokesperson said: “There were temporary measures in place allowing customers to purchase food from the drive-thru on foot. This however was done when the lanes were closed off to cars and came following guidance from the police, which helped with managing large groups of people after the nearby nightclub shut. This restaurant’s licence has now been amended and will operate 24/7 both in store and drive-thru.”
 
AA launches accreditation scheme for serviced accommodation: The AA has launched an accreditation scheme for serviced accommodation. It sees serviced accommodation join the scheme alongside hotels, restaurants, guest accommodation, self-catering accommodation and caravan and campsites. Whilst relatively new in the UK, the serviced accommodation sector of the hospitality market is mature in Australasia, and is experiencing exponential growth now in the UK and Europe. The rating scheme will be from three to five stars and will differentiate the segment by use of “designators” akin to the hotel and guest accommodation schemes including aparthotels, corporate housing, residences, suites, studios and extended stay. Alistair Sandall, commercial manager at AA Hotel & Hospitality Services, said: “We have seen the growth in the market in recent years and both the industry and the guest now see a real need for quality accreditation for the market to mature and grow. This new scheme has been developed through our many years of experience and expertise and compliments our suite of quality accreditation and consultancy products and services.”
 

Company News:

Cook & Garcia closes in Richmond: Cook & Garcia, the award-winning artisan grab-and-go concept opened by former Aramark food development manager Richard Garcia in Richmond in 2012, has closed. Garcia has plans to expand across London and the south east in the future. Cook & Garcia serves grab-and-go sandwiches, salads, pastries, muffins, cakes, soups, hot beverages and smoothies. Garcia’s wife Janet said: “We are a cross between Carluccio’s for the deli side, Pret A Manger with the grab-and-go sandwich offering, and Starbucks for our coffee.”
 
Enterprise sells freehold of Gosport pub: Enterprise Inns, represented by Savills, has sold the freehold of The Middlecroft in Gosport, Hampshire, to Starvale Developments for £350,000. The two-storey public house, which totals 4,400 square foot (409 square metre), was sold with vacant possession. Located prominently in Middlecroft Lane, it sits on a 0.23-acre (0.09-hectare) site, including a private courtyard, several outbuildings and a trade garden with seating and a children’s play area. Adam Bullas, licensed leisure director at Savills, said: “The Middlecroft combines a well-connected location with potential for pub, restaurant, retail and even residential use, subject to planning consent. As such, it attracted significant interest and we are pleased with the successful result achieved on behalf of our client.”

D&D London to invest £2m in Bluebird refurbishment: D&D London is to undertake a £2m refurbishment of Bluebird in Chelsea during August and will reopen in September. The original architectural steelwork frame within the atrium will be coated in a red oxide paint and will be wrapped in climbing plants whilst wild flowers, grasses and herbs will be recessed into the back of banquettes to create the sense of an indoor English garden. The new marble-topped bar will continue to be located centrally allowing the bar and bar team to remain an integral part of the venue. The refurbishment increases the number of covers in the bar and restaurant from 230 to 248 with painted timber screens with layered motifs creating areas of intimacy. Chief executive and chairman of D&D London Des Gunewardena said: “Bluebird has been and continues to be one of our most successful venues. However ahead of its 20th anniversary we thought it would be a good time to give Bluebird a new look and an exciting new food direction. This is a major investment for us and one which I hope will reinforce Bluebird’s position as one of London’s most iconic restaurants.”
 
Hartlepool-based operator acquires two sites in town: Hartlepool-based operator Spider Leisure has acquired two sites in the County Durham town. The company has taken on the former Jack Rabbit Slims diner and neighbouring Vibes venue at Hartlepool Marina. It has invested £500,000 converting Jack Rabbit Slims, which closed in January, into bar and grill concept Lucifer Sam’s. The company has also acquired Vibes, which will also be refurbished and renamed Geography. Emily Vaughan, a spokeswoman for the management team, told the Hartlepool Mail: “It (Lucifer Sam’s) looks completely different to Jack Rabbit Slims and doesn’t have an American theme any more. It’s got bare brick walls and jam jar lighting now, it has more of a rustic vibe. Vibes is already open with changes being made on the restaurant side in the coming weeks. It will be renamed as Geography. The bars down here are classy and we’d really like to attract more people to the site.”
 
Carluccio’s set to expand Irish footprint with site in Cork: Carluccio’s is set to increase its Irish footprint with a site in Cork. The company, which has two venues in Dublin, is to open in Cork city’s French Church Street, in an area known as the Huguenot Quarter. Paying a rent in excess of €130,000 per annum, Carluccio’s saw off other bidding interest to finally secure a Cork city footprint, eight years after it arrived in Dublin. The city sector near Opera Lane and off Patrick Street and that serves Apple’s city offices base too in Half Moon Street is already home to a large number of Cork cafes, ethnic eateries, creperies, coffee houses and mainstream restaurants, which have surged into any available units in tandem with a return of consumer spending. In French Church Street, Carluccio’s will have its main restaurant area on the first floor of a five-storey 19th century former stone warehouse, above a deli and seating section, with street seating also.
 
Manchester-based craft beer brewer Seven Bro7thers secures first bar, plans two more by end of 2018: Manchester-based craft beer brewer Seven Bro7thers, which is currently undergoing a £150,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube, has secured a site for its first bar and plans two more by the end of 2018. The company, founded by the seven McAvoy brothers, said: “We have finally signed the lease for our first bar in Manchester. This is the first of three bars we intend to have operating by the end of 2018. The bars are a key part of our plans and will significantly increase the breweries output with each bar that comes online, and increase revenues for the Seven Bro7hers group.” The company is offering a 16.84% equity stake in return for the £150,000 investment, which will be used for the bar fit-out and to increase capacity at its brewery. So far, 185 investors have pledged £83,160 with 12 days remaining, having secured a two-week extension to the campaign. Seven Bro7thers distributes its beers to pubs and restaurants across the UK and is in advanced discussions to stock its brands in Tesco stores. The pitch states: “Since we launched in 2014 we have grown steadily and need to update the brewery to keep up with the demand for our beer and also to fuel our ambition. We are seeking £150,000 to increase capacity with the procurement of five additional fermenting vessels to keep up with demand, procure canning and bottling lines, and fit-out our first craft beer bar in Manchester.”
 
New Japanese restaurant and cocktail bar concept Happy Samurai launches in Canterbury: New Japanese restaurant and cocktail bar concept Happy Samurai has launched in Canterbury, Kent. The new venue has opened at Marlowe Arcade promising food that is “fresh, healthy and great value for money”. The restaurant obtains core ingredients from its factory in Hokkaido but sources meat and vegetables from local suppliers, with food made fresh in the kitchen. The restaurant offers “authentic Japanese ramen and curry”, with “healthy ramen” 500 calories or fewer, and also features a ramen bar, saki bar and cocktail bar. It also offers a “rich multimedia experience with a television screen at every table, showing animation and popular, funky videos from Japan”. A company spokesman told the Canterbury Times: “The aim is to disrupt the fast-casual dining market in the UK. There is no reason people should not eat healthy, fresh food. It is shocking to see how bad everyday food is on the high street. People in Asia eat fresh food every day. The brand will represent the fresh food eaten daily in Tokyo.”
 
Pod opens first new site in nearly four years, plans further expansion: London-based healthy eating brand Pod has opened a site in Kingsway, central London – its first new site in nearly four years – and is planning further expansion. The 1,582 square foot venue incorporates a vibrant new design focused on a Metropolitan natural feel. It includes digital screens and subtle lighting systems that change to reflect the mood of the restaurant and also features leather seats, marble top tables, granite surfaces, scandic trees and cladding. The site has three huge fridges and a counter designed to accommodate customers on the go. It serves Pod’s signature menu, including superfood breakfast and lunches, and also offers a delivery service. Executive chairman John Postlethwaite said: “We have taken inspiration from Afroditi and IDL designs to create a store we can all be proud of. The new world Pod is answering all our customer needs with a nutritious and delicious range of food that can be consumed in a beautiful, relaxing and inspirational environment. This is an exciting time at Pod – we are once again on the move and Kingsway is just the start of an exciting period of expansion that is planned over the next 12 months.”
 
Three Michelin-starred chef Eneko Atxa opens Basque restaurant in London: Three Michelin-starred chef Eneko Atxa has opened an informal Basque restaurant in One Aldwych hotel, Covent Garden, London. During the soft launch period throughout this month, Eneko at One Aldwych is offering 50% off food. Renowned for his three Michelin-starred Azurmendi restaurant in Bilbao, Spain, Atxa heads in a new direction with his 110-cover restaurant and 35-cover wine bar. The new venue offers a simpler, more relaxed culinary concept deeply rooted in traditional Basque cooking. Starters feature the Txerri Boda Pork Festival (Iberico ham and mushroom duxelle in milk bread, suckling pig brioche and pigs trotter bocata). Main courses include Basque-style hake tempura with red pepper sauce and parsley emulsion, while dressed beetroot tartar is one of the vegetarian options. The dessert list offers Atxa’s signature rice pudding lollipops with crisp white and dark chocolate hazelnut coating. The wine bar features a carefully crafted Spanish list, including the house Gorka Izagirre Txakoli from Atxa’s own vineyard. A bar menu with a selection of Basque-inspired dishes is also available.
 
200 Degrees opens third site, in Birmingham: Nottingham-based specialist coffee roaster and retailer 200 Degrees has opened its third site, in Birmingham. The company, which has two venues in Nottingham and is lining up a cafe in Manchester, has opened at The Grand in Colmore Row. It has signed a ten-year lease on a 1,500 square foot unit at an annual rent of £90,000 with the landlord Hortons’ Estate. As well as serving fresh ground coffee, the new 70-seat site features a 16-seat barista school downstairs and a meeting room. Set up in 2012 by friends Tom Vincent and Rob Darby, 200 Degrees roasts its own beans, which it supplies to cafes and restaurants around the UK, as well as supplying equipment, such as commercial espresso machines. Vincent told the Birmingham Mail: “There’s a vibrant coffee scene in Birmingham with a number of good independent operators, who have raised the bar in terms of the quality of coffee being served and the overall customer experience. We believe we can bring something different to the city and we’re looking forward to sharing our knowledge and love of coffee!” 200 Degrees appointed agents FHP in December to find new sites across the UK for its artisanal coffee house offer.

Meantime tank beer arrives at Gordon Ramsay site: Greenwich-based craft brewer Meantime Brewing Company has launched its “Brewery Fresh” tank beer to Gordon Ramsay’s Bread Street Kitchen in the City of London. To celebrate the “Brewery Fresh” tank installation, Bread Street Kitchen has launched a new flatbread bar menu, with topping combinations perfectly paired to the craft lager. Paul Shearing, head chef at Bread Street Kitchen, said: “Quality produce is always of the utmost importance for Bread Street Kitchen, so we are thrilled to have Meantime tanks in our bar offering drinkers craft lager with such depth of flavour and freshness. The new Bread Street Kitchen flatbread bar menu that has launched alongside the tanks means that our customers can grab a quick bite in the bar and experience unique and interesting flavour combinations whilst having a drink.”
 
Camerons partners with better burger business for second site: North east brewer and retailer Camerons have rolled out its partnership with Hull-based company KerbEdge into its Head of Steam Leeds venue. The specialist burger company will run the kitchen at the company Leeds centre pub from Monday, 15 August. This will be the second venue in the brewer’s estate that the “Kitchen by KerbEdge” partnership will take place following the recent opening of the Head of Steam site in Hull. KerbEdge was set up by Adam Bryson in 2014 – his search for a great burger led to the birth of KerbEdge and the purchase of Cyril, KerbEdge’s first street food truck. Chris Soley, chief executive at Camerons Brewery, said: “As previously stated we are looking at partnering with up and coming businesses to run the kitchens at selected Head of Steam sites. Companies like KerbEdge are eager to develop and we love the concept of seeing them grow within our expanding business. We worked closely with them to develop the menu at Head of Steam Hull and we have been delighted with how popular this has been with customers there. We are sure this will prove to be just as successful at our Leeds venue.”
 
Reading-based cider maker that supplies The Stable launches £200,000 crowdfunding campaign: Reading-based cider maker Tutts Clump, which supplies artisan pizza and cider brand The Stable as well as pubs, has launched a £200,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Seedrs to upgrade its processing equipment to increase capacity. The company, which was founded in 2006, is offering a 15% equity stake in return for the investment. The pitch states: “Our current manual press can only produce 1,000 litres of juice per day with three people, but we want to produce 4,000 litres of juice per day. With a new semi-automatic press we could achieve this with only one operator! Currently all our bottling is contracted out. Having our own semi-automatic bottling plant would save a huge amount of time, money and transport costs, plus we could bottle when we like and not have to book up weeks in advance. By having bigger stocks available we would be in a position to supply a much larger wholesale and retail base. Having more time would enable one of the staff to become a full-time sales rep to visit existing customers and generate new ones. The funds will be used to replace and upgrade the whole processing equipment of turning apples into cider from the orchard to the end consumer, including modern milling and pressing equipment, bottling/kegging/bag in box lines, refurbishing and modernising current buildings, newer delivery vehicles, promote the two part-time staff to full-time, and increase the promotional range of glasses/t-shirts/bar mats etc.”

West Malling-based operator set to open second site in town: West Malling-based operator Nick Levantis is set to open his second site in the Kent town. Levantis, who owns The Swan bar and restaurant in Swan Street, has lodged plans to launch Italian restaurant A mano on the site of the Lobster Pot pub in the same road. He has applied to Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council to open the 75-seat restaurant, which would also have four en-suite hotel rooms on the first floor. An orangery-style terrace would be built on to the back of the building while exposed brickwork, quirky lighting and striking artwork are planned inside. If permission is granted, Levantis aims to open A mano, which means “by hand” in Italian, in February. He told Kent Online: “A mano will have a neighbourhood friendly feel in both food and service. Our Italian head chef Fabio Moschini will create a menu of homemade pastas, wood fired pizzas, a selection of seafood dishes and cured meats and much more familiar Italian cooking. Simple cooking and real Italian ingredients will be the focus.”
 
Kent-based beer bar set to start expanding after lodging plans for second site, in Tonbridge: Kent-based beer bar Fuggles Beer Cafe is set to start expanding after lodging plans to open its second site, in Tonbridge. Alex Greig, who launched the concept in Tunbridge Wells, has applied to Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council to open the new venue in High Street on the site of Bonner’s Flooring, reports the Kent and Sussex Courier. Greig said on the bar’s Facebook page: “In a nutshell, Fuggles Beer Cafe is hopefully coming to Tonbridge. It will have a similar format and style, size and offer and I’m very excited to be hopefully bringing Fuggles to Tonbridge. I’m not sure on timescales yet, these things take ages but we hope to be in and getting open within the next six months. We’re looking I suspect at opening early 2017, if all goes well.”

Indian buyers acquire Bath hotel: Agent Colliers International has sold the Aquae Sulis hotel in Bath, to Samir Thukral and Sanjoy Roy, of Bath Hospitality. Colliers hotels director Simon Wells said the buyers, who are from India, are planning to refurbish the 14-bedroom Edwardian property, introduce new web-based systems and add new room amenities. Aquae Sulis had been on the market for offers of more than £1.45m freehold. Wells said: “The prominent Newbridge Road property is on one of the main routes into the city from the west. The new owners are also planning to introduce a conservatory and a lounge/restaurant to increase the food and beverage scope of the business for an uplifted hotel experience whilst retaining the touch and feel of a traditional English bed and breakfast.”
 
New Mediterranean-focused vegan restaurant concept opens in Christchurch: A new Mediterranean-focused vegan restaurant concept has opened in Christchurch, Dorset. Ellie Brinton and Stuart Walker have launched Pure Cuisine in High Street. It focuses on Mediterranean fusion cooking as a result of the pair’s European heritage – Portuguese and Italian respectively – providing a mixture of vegan and vegetarian meals and both sweet and savoury afternoon teas. They have been running a “pop-up” restaurant from their home for the past couple of years, and said it was so successful they decided to expand to a permanent restaurant. Brinton told the Bournemouth Echo: “I am gluten-free and vegan and I could find hardly anywhere to eat around here. I wasn’t satisfied with the places I did find and tended to end up having to survive off chips and salad, which was not a healthy way to eat.”
 
Leeds-based independent restaurant and bar increases turnover and Ebitda despite city’s increasing competitive market place: Leeds-based Italian restaurant and cocktail bar Bibis Italianissimo Bar and Restaurant has reported an increase in turnover and Ebitda despite the city’s competitive dining market place. The family-owned and run restaurant, cafe, cocktail bar and event space increased turnover by 7% to £3.2m for the year ending 25 October 2015 while Ebitda rose from £221,683 to £483,880 as the restaurant served 102,677 diners during the period. The art deco-styled Bibis, which opened its doors in 1974 immediately to the north of No 3 Sovereign Square, said it continued to run themed events to attract a wider clientele as well as strengthening its corporate links. This helped underpin an increase in average spend to £30.71 from £29.11. Despite a competitive marketplace, Bibis said the emergence of Trinity Leeds and the Leeds Arena had led to increased demand for high-quality restaurants. Bibis, which employs about 80 staff, is currently seeking permission to open a new 1,500 square foot al fresco dining area, with the aim of creating a “dynamic and vibrant street scene”.
 
The Stable applies for licence to open in Kingston: Artisan pizza and cider brand The Stable, which is 76% owned by Fuller’s, has applied to open a site in Kingston, Surrey. The company has applied to Kingston Council for an alcohol licence for the proposed restaurant at the historic Market House building, reports the Surrey Comet. The landmark building in Market Place currently hosts several craft sellers and a tea room. The council collects £30,000 to £45,000 a year in rent. However, a brochure distributed last year showed the authority hopes for £150,000 a year in rent by moving in an established retailer. The Stable has applied to sell alcohol between 11am and 11.30pm from Sundays to Thursdays and until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. The Stable was founded by Richard and Nikki Cooper and Richard’s brother Andy in Bridport in 2009. It opened its 15th site, in nearby Kew Bridge, on Friday (29 July).
 
Chop’d set to open first site outside London, in Manchester: Chop’d, the fresh food takeaway specialist, is set to open its first site outside London, in Manchester. The company, which has 12 venues across the capital, is launching the new outlet in Cross Street, reports the Manchester Evening News. Customers are able to make their choice in store as well as order online and pick up their meal through its click and collect service. As well as salads, other options include stews and healthy snacks, such as muesli. Established in Leadenhall Market in 2004, the brand sells more than 20,000 salads a week and in June it reported sales for the year were up 12%. It is also set for further expansion in the north of England by opening sites in Liverpool and Leeds.
 
Frobishers Classics scoops two stars at Great Taste Awards: Fruit juice and drinks company Frobishers has scooped two stars in this year’s Great Taste Awards for its Classics range. The judges were impressed by the “generous ginger kick”, “warmth” and “tingle on the tongue” of Frobishers’ sparkling ginger flavour, along with the “bright appearance and fruity aroma” and “well-balanced flavours” of its apple, pear and elderflower drink. Bursting into the premium soft drinks market less than a year ago, Frobishers Classics are currently available in four flavours with sparkling raspberry and St Clements orange and lemon the other two drinks in the range. Steve Carter, sales and marketing director at Frobishers, said: “This has been an amazing year for Frobishers and we are thrilled to have achieved Great Taste status for Classics. These awards are like the Baftas of the food and drinks industry, rewarding products by virtue of their taste and flavour alone, which makes winning them even more fantastic. We’ve been delighted by the response we’ve received from Classics since we launched last September and look forward to continuing to roll this award-winning product out to new outlets and venues.” The Great Taste Awards, delivered by the Guild of Fine Foods, is the largest awards scheme for the speciality fine food and drinks industry. More than 10,000 products are entered each year, which are blind tasted and rated on taste, texture and aroma.
 
Hippo Inns to open fifth pub this month, in West Brompton: Hippo Inns, the joint venture between Enterprise Inns and Geronimo Inns founder Rupert Clevely, is to open its fifth pub this month. The company is launching The Lillie Langtry in West Brompton following a significant refurbishment and includes a cocktail bar upstairs. Craft beers from around the world sit alongside a “spit and grill” food menu that has an old-fashioned “London ale house” feel to it where the food was once prepared over open fires. The beer menu will include the likes of Trumans IPA, Purity Longhorn and Two Tribes Weekender Pils while food will include whole spit roast chicken, 35-day aged sharing steaks served on the bone and nibbles from the bar. Upstairs above the main lounge is a “soft and luxurious” Victorian cocktail bar. The pub is named after Lillie Langtry, an American socialite living in London who was an actress and stage producer, who allegedly had a string of affairs in the West Brompton area “with well to do” gents, including none other than the Prince of Wales. She died in 1929 in Monte Carlo. Clevely said: “We hear stories all the time about how many pubs are closing in the UK every day, but this story is about one that is reopening. The Lillie Langtry is one of West Brompton’s most iconic pubs and we want people to think of it as an extension of their own homes. In her day, Lillie had a reputation as a fun loving, ‘good time girl’ and we hope she’d have approved of what we’ve done here, especially upstairs in the cocktail bar.” Hippo Inns’ other sites include The Duke of Sussex in Waterloo, The George in Cross Harbour and The Black Horse in Kingston.
 
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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