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Wed 24th Aug 2016 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Greene King Tracker – spending on eating and drinking out among households with children sees massive rise in July: Spending on eating and drinking out among households with children underwent a massive rise during July, according to the latest Greene King Leisure Spend Tracker. The average British household spent £209 on out-of-home leisure, a 2% (£3) increase year-on-year and a marginal (£1) increase month-on-month. While households without children have seen spend on drinking out fall by 9% (£4) month-on-month and remain stable year-on-year, households with children have boosted their spending, rising 32% (£14) month-on-month and 39% (£57) year-on-year. Spending on eating out continued to perform strongly, with an 8% increase year-on-year and a 3% increase on June. The latter was supported by a 19%, or £17, increase in monthly spending by households with children, as families dined out during the school holidays. The 3% (£2) month-on-month decline in spending on other leisure was driven by reduced spending on other live events and – likely in relation to the lack of domestic football and the end of Euro 2016 – a decline in gambling. The huge increase in spend on drinking out in households with children has seen other leisure’s share of spend mix fall by 7% across the UK. In London and the south east, other leisure’s share of spend mix has fallen by 6% year-on-year. The tracker also revealed many British households were worried about the economic impact of Britain’s decision to leave the European Union. Following the result in June, a third of respondents (33%) said they expected their household’s financial situation to be worse this time next year, while only 8% think there will be an improvement in their prospects. This is especially true among younger adults, with 35% of 18 to 34-year-olds admitting to being worried about their future finances. There is also some concern about the wider UK economy, with almost half (47%) of respondents believing it will contract in the next year. Again, this is most keenly felt among younger adults, with 62% of 18 to 24-year-olds and 53% of 25 to 34-year-olds expecting the economy to decline. These percentages were notably higher than those of over-55s, reflecting a pattern of voting seen in the referendum. While economists debate the likelihood of the UK entering recession towards the end of the year, it is clear many households are nervous about the prospect, with 41% of respondents expecting their personal finances to worsen if the economy goes through a sustained downturn. Greene King group marketing director Rob Rees said: “This month’s Greene King Leisure Spend Tracker reveals the uncertainty created by Brexit is worrying Brits of all ages. The impact of Brexit on personal finances is a concern but, in fact, UK adults are more pessimistic about the prospects of the wider economy and the potential threat of recession later this year.”

Industry News: 

Host of companies sign up for Professor Chris Muller’s Multi-site Management Masterclass: A host of companies and brands have signed up for next month’s Multi Site Management Masterclass led by Professor Chris Muller. They include Benito’s Hat, McMullens, Bone Daddies, Young’s, Le Bistrot Pierre, Castle Rock, Grand Union, Soho Farmhouse, Jamie Oliver’s, PizzaExpress, Rarebreed Dining, Wright Brothers, Five Guys, Drake & Morgan, Bar Lorca, Anglian Country Inns, Bar Soba, Randall & Aubin, FrogPubs, Bru Brewery, Belgo and Cafe Rouge. The event takes place on Friday, 30 September at One Moorgate Place in London. Leading UK businesses such as Mitchells & Butlers and TGI Friday’s have sent staff to be taught by Professor Muller at Boston University’s School of Hospitality – now Professor Muller is returning to the UK to lead this bespoke day. His interactive seminar will include contributions from Sticks ‘n’ Sushi UK managing director Andreas Karlsson and Eric Partaker, co-founder and brand evangelist at Chilango. The event will provide valuable insights for founders and area managers of small and medium-sized multi-site companies and area managers of large companies. The sessions will include developing multi-unit leaders, leading a team through a strategic growth plan, and a discussion on the importance that transition plays in the practice of management and leadership. Tickets are £295 plus VAT for Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) members and £345 plus VAT for non-ALMR members. To book tickets, email Anne Steele at

Thomasina Miers – night tube could be ‘huge step’ in revolutionising Londoners’ late-night eating habits: Thomasina Miers, co-founder of Mexican restaurant brand Wahaca, has said the new night tube could be a “huge step” in revolutionising Londoners’ late-night eating habits. Miers, winner of MasterChef in 2005, told the Evening Standard: “London has to be open for all Londoners. It seems there are more and more rules to curb what can be done at night. We know the night-time economy can potentially generate so much more money. Having the tube open longer could be a huge step towards addressing that. What’s the point in going all the way into London if you have to run to go home at 11.30pm? It can make people from all across London visit other restaurants and areas.” The new 24-hour Friday and Saturday services started on the Victoria and Central lines at the weekend and are scheduled to be extended to other lines later this year. Miers, whose Wahaca chain now has 22 sites, also called on the city’s town halls to be more flexible with licensing laws to protect restaurants, pubs and clubs. She said: “You hear stories about restaurants being in an area for years, then a developer comes along and wants to build offices or luxury flats nearby. (The restaurant) then gets closed down because of noise levels at night.”

Poke sweeping US restaurant menus: Poke – a hyper-regional Hawaiian dish of diced, uncooked fish with local seasonings – is breaking out from its island base and sweeping the US. The dish, pronounced po-keh, is showing versatility as an appetiser, a light meal and even as the basis for new restaurant concepts. Restaurateurs said the reason for poke’s sudden popularity could be its health “halo”, or its customisable nature. According to menu research company Datassential, poke is on 54% more menus than it was four years ago but is only on 2% of menus nationwide. Datassential found 13% of consumers have tried poke, while another 24% said they would like to. Among the restaurant companies featuring poke on the menu is Yard House, a 66-unit casual-dining chain based in Irvine, California. Executive chef Carlito Jocson told Nation’s Restaurant News: “I think there’s a phenomenon going on right now (around poke). It has become part of the food culture, and something people are really gravitating towards.”

Manchester bar and brewery owners partner to operate new craft beer pub built almost entirely by volunteers: A new craft beer pub built almost entirely by volunteers will open in Manchester next month. The Pilcrow, which is taking shape in new public square Sadler’s Yard, will be operated by All Our Yesterdays, a new partnership between Jonathan Heyes, owner of Northern Quarter bars Common and Port Street Beer House, and Paul Jones, co-founder of craft brewer Cloudwater. There will be a rotating selection of seasonal Cloudwater beers, alongside a house brew made in a barrel assembled by volunteers at the White Rose Cooperage in Wetherby, West Yorkshire. From the beer pumps to the tiles that decorate the bar, everything inside the building has been hand-made using traditional craft methods taught by local artists, designers and makers in a series of free workshops that have taken place this year. The finishing touches are now being put on the building before it opens on Friday, September 23. Heyes told the Manchester Evening News: “We’ve followed the development of The Pilcrow since planning was granted last year, and it’s an exciting opportunity for us to start our new venture somewhere with such a unique story.” Ben Young, project lead at The Pilcrow, added: “It’s been a long run up to this and this is a significant moment for everyone involved in The Pilcrow. We’ve worked closely with Jonny and Paul on everything from the design of the bar to the beers on tap and the pub is going forward in the safest hands imaginable.”

Marketing and admin software company for independent hotel businesses launches crowdfunding campaign: The Booking Factory, which provides marketing and administration automation software for independent hotel businesses, has launched a £50,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Seedrs. The Swansea-based company, which was launched in 2014, is offering an 8% equity stake in return for the investment. The pitch states: “Hoteliers, as we know, are busy people and we have found they are neglecting their marketing channels while they are busy working in their business. In addition, we have also found hoteliers often lack the technical knowledge needed to build and maintain a website, post on social channels, configure code, and connect systems together. Our solution gives hotels the tools to automate much of their marketing and admin woes. We provide a web and mobile hotel website; an integrated booking engine to take bookings online; a channel manager to manage their multiple sales channels; a booking management system to manage all their bookings in one place; a payment gateway to take payments online; and automated marketing tools (lead generation, email marketing, promotions). We will focus on making our system and customer support a world leader for small and medium-sized accommodation businesses. We will spend part of the money on development, sales and marketing. The proceeds will be spent on product enhancements and sales development representatives to gain market share ready for further fund-raising. We are raising a small amount at what we believe is a fair valuation to help our customer acquisition into self-funded territory. We expect to raise further rounds at much higher valuations.”

Company News:

Luke Johnson – ‘I see Gail’s growing to at least 50 sites, takes more money per square foot than any fast-casual dining brand I’ve owned’: Sector investor Luke Johnson has told Propel he sees Gail’s Bakery growing to at least 50 sites, with growth focusing on London as well as the regions. Johnson said the business, which currently has 31 sites, was taking more money per square foot than any other fast-casual dining concept he has owned. He added it was also looking to open a regional bakery to support expansion to add to its two sites outside the capital – in Oxford and Farnham, Surrey, the latter of which opened this month. He added: “We are looking to keep up the same rate of growth. We’ve still got plenty more openings in London and we will be stepping up our expansion outside the capital. Everything is produced in-house so we are limited with how far we can go at the moment. We have some plans in mind for a regional bakery but, for now, we are looking at sites around the M25 Home Counties – places that are no more than two hours from the bakery. I can see the brand growing to at least 50 sites but we take it one branch at a time. We want each one to be the local artisan bakery of choice in that neighbourhood.” Johnson said because the brand focused on opening in neighbourhood areas rather than city centres, it was not as badly punished by high rents as some businesses, “although it had some branches such as Covent Garden, where it does have an effect”. Johnson said current sales at Gail’s were “steady” and the brand had not been impacted by the Brexit vote. He added: “We are not a capital item like a car or a washing machine – we are an affordable treat.” In terms of an initial public offering, Johnson said: “I won’t rule it out but I won’t rule it in either. I’m committed to the brand and it’s great fun to be part of. I’m not looking to exit in the immediate future.” Gail’s parent company Bread Holdings reported turnover increased 42% to £63,750,696 for the year ending February 29 2016, compared with £45,048,214 the year before. Sales at Gail’s rose 32% to £23.9m, while wholesale revenues were up 16% to £46.7m. Pre-tax profit for the company increased to £4,806,670, compared with £2,826,343 the year before.

Gladwin brothers to launch new brasserie and grill concept in Battersea: The Gladwin brothers, who own Chelsea “wild food” restaurant Rabbit and The Shed in Notting Hill, will launch all-day brasserie and grill concept Nutbourne in Battersea, south London, this autumn. Nutbourne takes its name from the Gladwins’ family farm and vineyard in West Sussex, and will offer the “spoils of the English countryside” with all-British ingredients. The 65-cover waterside restaurant at Ransomes Dock will feature seating with views across the water and a 40-cover outside space. Food from the farm in Nutbourne, near Pulborough, will be supplemented by seasonal produce from local suppliers or foraged in the wild. Meat, sourced from Nutbourne and butchered at the Gladwins’ Battersea-based warehouse, will be served on hot salt rocks, brought to the table and cooked in front of guests. A “butcher’s table” next to the open grill will seat up to 14 diners, while a hidden private room, The Cellar, will have its own entrance and accommodate up to 25 people. The Gladwin brothers said: “We wanted to create a community restaurant for Battersea locals. We both live in and love this area and hope we’ve created a space that caters for all tastes of people from here and the surrounding areas.”

Leon and John Lewis unveil new cookware collaboration: Natural fast food brand Leon and John Lewis are unveiling an exclusive cookware collaboration. The 40-piece cookware range will launch in all John Lewis stores on Monday, 5 September. The collection includes a cast iron griddle pan, coloured stock pots, a wooden tool set and terracotta tapas and lasagne dishes. There will also be a number of Leon textiles, including a kitchen apron, tea towel set and oven mitt. All the products have been developed with Leon co-founder John Vincent and designed by head of design Jo Ormiston in collaboration with John Lewis Cookshop buyer Nicola Hattersley. Vincent said: “This range is a result of everyone at Leon and my family sitting around a kitchen table, wondering what cookware we would most like to invent. One of my favourite items, the Leon carving board, is my Sunday night. It is what you need when you have a roast chicken in the oven and Strictly results night on the telly. It is a testament to the strength of the John Lewis brand how excited everyone in the family, even my kids, are about our creations going into the shops this summer.” 

Belpassi Bros moves meatball operations to permanent south London site: Belpassi Bros, which specialises in hand-made meatballs and formerly operated from a vintage 1967 Fiat van in Old Spitalfields Market, has opened its first permanent site in Tooting, south London. The brainchild of twin brothers Livio and Lorenzo Belpassiare, the menu is built around classic beef and pork meatballs and homemade sauces, served in a sandwich or on a base of polenta or homemade pasta. The 40-cover restaurant also offers salads, sides such as Parmesan polenta chips, sautéed spinach and rosemary garlic fries, and desserts that include ice-cream sandwiches. Belpassi Bros also offers Italian wines at the restaurant in Tooting High Street, available by the glass and bottle, classic cocktails, spirits, bottled beer, and hot drinks.

Gaucho unveils new vision for Piccadilly restaurant: Gaucho has unveiled a new vision for its restaurant in Piccadilly, London. Creative director Patsy Godik has created a new interior for the ground floor of the group’s four-storey “townhouse” flagship restaurant in Swallow Street, taking her inspiration from “ombu”, giant trees that are a striking natural feature of the Argentinian landscape. Reconfiguring the space previously occupied by the Cavas de Gaucho (wine room) and large bar area, the new layout has created additional dining space for 99 covers. Godik said: “It’s a perfect contrast to the classic Gaucho style, with its homage to the home of Argentine beef that has been maintained across the first and second floors of the restaurant.” The new design is part of an overall refurbishment of the Piccadilly restaurant, which is already complete on the first and second floors, with transformation of the lower ground floor area to be finished by early 2017. The ground-floor restaurant area opens out through large glass doors along its entire length on to the covered pavement terrace, which has also been redesigned with banquette seating. A substantial new private dining room and Cavas de Gaucho have been carved into previously unused space on the first floor, making a total of four flexible-use spaces at the site. Gaucho’s venue in Broadgate, near Liverpool Street station, will be the next to receive the new-look interior, with completion set for early September. However, not all Gaucho restaurants will feature the new design. Godik added: “Our classic look is much-loved and is interpreted in different ways in each location. We pride ourselves on ensuring every Gaucho is distinctive, and many of our guests use more than one on a regular basis as they enjoy the different atmospheres.”

Birmingham brothers launch new pub venture in Worcestershire, plan nationwide chain: Three entrepreneurial Birmingham brothers have branched out from a successful rigging business they launched eight years ago to breathe new life into a landmark Worcestershire pub. Andy, Robin and Chris Conway, directors of communications business ARCC, have reopened The Crown in Martley, near Worcester, as a new hub for artisan food and drink, with a bespoke smokery as one of its main features. The new business – The Crown by ARCC – is the blueprint for a number of pub restaurants across the Midlands and, ultimately, nationwide. The brothers have invested a six-figure sum into the village pub, introducing a new dining experience that focuses on classic English-style food with locally sourced, premium-quality meat, ale and wine. Managing director Robin Conway told The Business Desk: “It has been an ambition to launch a pub restaurant for five years as we all love good food and great hospitality, so it was fortunate to find an opportunity on our doorstep. We want to establish The Crown by ARCC as a pub of distinction and a new hub for artisan food and drink. The pub has undergone a major renovation but we were determined from the outset that we were not simply going to reopen one of the area’s much-loved pubs.” The pub opening, which has created 15 jobs, is the brothers’ first pub venture and their aim is to bring a touch of the latest London food trend in smoked dining to Worcestershire. Robin Conway said: “We hope The Crown by ARCC will be a blueprint for a brand we can roll-out regionally and, ultimately, nationally and we are already considering other sites.”

Leicester-based Stonebaked Pizza Co opens second site, in Nottingham: Leicester-based Stonebaked Pizza Co has started expansion by opening its second site, in Nottingham. The company has opened the restaurant in the new Clocktower dining area at the Intu Victoria Centre, creating 25 jobs. It joins The Restaurant Group brands Joe’s Kitchen and Coast to Coast, Ed’s Easy Diner, Thai Leisure Group’s Thaikhun, Tortilla, and Handmade Burger Co in the new dining area, which opened in October last year as part of a £40m refurbishment of the centre. Stonebaked Pizza Co managing director Ian Morgan told The Business Desk: “We are driven to providing premium-quality, custom-built artisan pizza at an affordable price served with a ‘say yes’ philosophy and a big smile in cool, casual surroundings – the people of Nottingham are going to love it.” Stonebaked Pizza Co’s debut restaurant is at the Highcross Shopping Centre in Leicester.

New European-style cafe and cake house concept launches in Liverpool: A new European-style cafe and cake house concept has launched in Liverpool. George Dadoudis has opened Wake & Cate in Tarleton Street, just off Williamson Square. He has invested £400,000 in the 4,000 square foot cafe, which is modelled on upmarket continental delicatessens. It offers a variety of sweet treats, including French and Italian-style gateaux, Anatolian tray bakes and homemade macaroons. The venue also stocks a selection of hot savoury filo pastries, as well as deli sandwiches and paninis. Dadoudis told Your Move: “We spent a couple of years researching different locations, including London, Birmingham and Manchester. However, Liverpool really struck us. We were impressed by its favourable commercial conditions, friendly people and its track record in welcoming new food concepts.” Sean Collins-Jones, of Hitchcock Wright & Partners, which secured the site on behalf of Wake & Cake, added: “Wake & Cate’s new European cafe and cake house is an exciting addition to the city’s thriving food and drink offering. With the revamp of St John’s close by, the eatery will certainly add to the regeneration and commercial attraction of the area.”

Christie & Co – pub sales ramping up dramatically following period of pent-up demand: Pub sales are “ramping up dramatically” compared with the same period a year ago, following a period of “pent-up demand” that had “stalled the market”, according to agent Christie & Co. John Grace, associate director in Christie & Co’s Ipswich office, was speaking after conducting the sale of the White Horse in Whepstead, Suffolk, which was bought off an asking price of £350,000 by experienced operators Lee and Hanna Saunders. Grace said: “We’re delighted to have helped Lee and Hanna buy this valued and popular pub. We’ve seen business ramping up dramatically, particularly since last summer, with the first quarter of 2016 being far busier than its counterpart last year. It feels like there has been an extreme build-up of demand for quality pub businesses in recent years and, during a period when businesses were only sold when they were distressed or had to be sold due to the owner’s circumstances, this pent-up demand stalled the market. Lee and Hanna are experienced operators, and we’re sure they will enable the White Horse to thrive.”

Living Ventures’ £1.7m The Alchemist in Salford Quays will become an ‘iconic building’: Work has begun at Living Ventures’ new £1.7m venue for The Alchemist at MediaCityUK in Salford Quays, with the company saying bespoke features will make it a “truly iconic building”. The plot is known as The Bund and sits on the bridge linking MediaCityUK to The Lowry art gallery. The Reid Architects-designed restaurant will feature a gold-clad roof and walls, while a terrace will cantilever over the canal, creating an al fresco, waterside drinking and dining space. The Alchemist managing director Simon Potts told Place North West: “We are delighted The Alchemist will be opening in MediaCityUK and hugely excited now that work is under way. It promises to be a popular addition to a vibrant area for both work and play. The building itself will definitely make a statement, with some remarkable bespoke features. We believe it will become a truly iconic building.” The new cocktail bar and restaurant with be the third Alchemist in Greater Manchester when it opens in spring 2017, joining venues in Spinningfields and New York Street in Manchester city centre. The stand-alone business under Living Ventures’ umbrella operates six UK sites following the recent launch of its Liverpool venue, with two in Leeds, and one in London. Further sites are planned for Birmingham and Newcastle, while work has also started on its first “suburban” site in Alderley Edge, Cheshire.

D&D London to launch ‘Viva Portugal!’ wine campaign: D&D London will host “Viva Portugal!” in partnership with Wines of Portugal next month. Introducing guests to Portuguese wines, beyond port, the month-long campaign will run across 20 restaurants and bars to demonstrate the food-pairing capability of Portugal’s blends. Viva Portugal! will comprise a series of special tastings, wine dinners and experiential events hosted by respected wine experts Sarah Ahmed, Jane Parkinson and Charles Metcalfe. Throughout the month, diners can expect dedicated Portuguese wine lists and exclusive wines available by the glass at restaurants, bars and shops across the D&D London group. Le Pont de la Tour and Royal Exchange are just two of the venues presenting wine flights with Portuguese-inspired food pairings. Other highlights include a pop-up Portuguese barbecue on Blueprint Cafe’s new riverside terrace and a weekend market stall serving Portuguese delicacies at Almeida. D&D London group category manager Michael Patterson said: “With sales of Portuguese wines up 4% year-on-year and consumer interest in the country showing no signs of slowing, there has never been a better time to celebrate Portugal and the exceptional wines it has to offer.” Nuno Vale, marketing director for Wines of Portugal, added: “We’re delighted to be partnering with such a highly regarded restaurant group as D&D London and look forward to showcasing the wines of Portugal to diners all over London.”

One Leisure Group takes on Star Pubs & Bars site in Glasgow: Glasgow-based multi-site operator One Leisure Group has taken on a Star Pubs & Bars site in the city after acquiring the lease of Bannisters in Argyle Street, its fifth pub in Glasgow. The venue is undergoing a £500,000 refurbishment to reopen in November as Strip Joint, named after the Finnieston “Strip” – a section of Argyle Street connecting the city centre to the West End. The site is the last undeveloped licensed premises in Finnieston and close to the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC). With no new licences currently being issued in Finnieston, competition to secure the lease was intense. One Leisure Group was selected for its track record in building popular venues in Glasgow and, given the site’s proximity to the SECC, its reputation for creating venues renowned for music. The revamp is part of a wider £2m investment planned by Star Pubs & Bars in its Scottish pub estate this year, with £1m of that spend earmarked for Glasgow. Managing director Lawson Mountstevens said: “The pub is in one of the best positions in Glasgow and has real untapped potential.” One Leisure Group director Mark Lappin added: “With our love of music, we’re excited to be next to the second-busiest music venue in the world and we’ll aim to combine good music and a lot of fun with outstanding drinks, food and service.”

Belfast-based Boojum founder eyes expansion of slow-cooked, barbecued meat concept Bubbacue: John Blisard, founder of burrito brand Boojum, is eyeing expansion of his new venture, Bubbacue, which specialises in slow-cooked, barbecued meats. Blisard, who sold Boojum to brothers David and Andrew Maxwell last year, launched Bubbacue in Callender Street, Belfast, in 2012. He now hopes to open a second venue in the city and is also eyeing regional towns in Northern Ireland and possibly expansion into the Republic of Ireland. Blisard told the Belfast Telegraph: “We have identified a unit in the city centre and hope to open this side of Christmas, depending on how long it takes to agree the lease. It has become difficult to find the right unit at the right price. Belfast is quite saturated with restaurants and people are competing for space. The population of the city centre has not really increased that much so I’m really encouraged when I hear about more apartments and student housing being built in central Belfast. That will really help to drive business and create a vibrant city centre.” Blisard, who moved to Northern Ireland from Philadelphia in 2007, added: “I’m also working on an idea for a new business based on a different type of American food but I’m keeping it under wraps for now.” In July, Boojum opened its third and largest restaurant in Belfast, its seventh Irish site.

KFC offers free, fried chicken-scented sunscreen: KFC is offering free bottles of fried chicken-scented sunscreen online. Extra Crispy Sunscreen works like any other SPF 30 sun lotion, with the company employing bronzed actor George Hamilton to play the Colonel for the promotion. KFC’s goal is to draw attention to the fact it offers two fried chicken recipes – Original Recipe and Extra Crispy, Nation’s Restaurant News reports. The sunscreen is the latest in a series of promotional stunts by parent company Yum! Brands. Earlier this year, KFC launched edible nail polish in Asia, dubbed “Finger Lickin’ Good”. Kevin Hochman, KFC chief marketing officer for the US, said: “While I’d love to tell you our customers have been asking for this, they haven’t. In fact, I’m pretty confident nobody ever asked for this. It’s just some crazy idea we dreamed up.”

Rank Group to close Leeds and Glasgow sites: A large Rank Group casino in Leeds city centre is to close next month after the property’s landlord decided not to renew the lease. Rank has confirmed the Grosvenor Casino in Merrion Way will shut in September, with some staff set to be redeployed to other venues in the company. The group is also closing a casino in Glasgow. However, Rank said it planned to refurbish its Grosvenor Westgate site in Leeds, which was acquired from Gala Coral in 2013. The total cost of this work, alongside the revamp of a site in Nottingham, will total £6.2m. Meanwhile, Henry Birch, chief executive of Rank, reported a “solid set of results” with revenue and profit growth days after the gambling company dropped a joint bid to buy bookmaker William Hill. The business reported pre-tax profit of £85.5m for the 12 months to 30 June 2016, an increase of 15% from £74.5m a year earlier. Revenue edged up by 1%, rising to £708.5m from £700.7m.

Shaun Rankin’s Ormer opens at Flemings Mayfair hotel: Michelin-starred chef Shaun Rankin has opened a restaurant at the Flemings Mayfair hotel. Shaun Rankin’s Ormer is part of a £14m refurbishment of the hotel, which has been privately owned by the same family for more than 40 years. Rankin continues to run his Ormer restaurant in Jersey and the Flemings Mayfair menu focuses on his Jersey heritage, offering a modern British menu. The dining room at the hotel in Half Moon Street seats 80 diners, with a substantial 40-seat bar, along with a chef’s table and two private dining rooms. New general manager Henrik Muehle has overseen the refurbishment of the hotel, part of the SLH (Small Luxury Hotels of the World) consortium, with 129 bedrooms, suites and apartments also undergoing renovation.

Tesco launches ‘Project Reset’ to restructure store layouts, private labels given prominence: Tesco is set to make major changes to the layout of its 900 Extra, Superstore and Metro sites by placing more prominence on private labels and grouping products according to how shoppers buy them. “Project Reset” will include up to 14% more private label products on shelves, with fewer brands stocked. Tesco will also realign its in-store products to focus on meal occasions rather than traditional categorisation to make the shopping process smoother, Research Farm reports. For example, a “savoury scratch” section will stock canned tomatoes, pulses, herbs and spices that are used to make stews, casseroles and sauces, while a convenience area will group pasta, rice and pasta sauces. Another section will put baking products and eggs together to form a baking zone. Project Reset will also result in more healthy products being stocked, such as brown rice, quinoa and lentils, as well as a much wider range of products free from additives and lower in salt and sugar.

Turtle Bay opens Exeter restaurant, first Devon site: Caribbean restaurant chain Turtle Bay, which is backed by Piper Private Equity, has opened a restaurant in Exeter. The company’s first Devon site is at the new £12m Queen Street dining quarter at the redeveloped Guildhall Shopping Centre. Turtle Bay has invested £800,000 in the 215-cover venue, which spans more than 4,000 square feet and features an open kitchen and island bar, repurposed shipping containers, oil drum lampshades, and reclaimed wood. A company spokesman told the Exeter Express & Echo: “The restaurant is designed to create the perfect atmosphere for enjoying bold, spicy food and drink, and its ‘look’ is as vibrant and lively as you might expect, with each restaurant designed bespoke for its location.” Other restaurant brands set to open in the dining quarter include The Stable, the artisan pizza and cider brand in which Fuller’s has a 76% stake, Gourmet Burger Kitchen, barbecue restaurant Grillstock, and Faucet Inn’s Scandinavian-inspired restaurant and cafe concept Kupp. Turtle Bay, which was formed by Las Iguanas co-founder Ajith Jaya-Wickrema in 2010, has more than 30 sites across the UK.

Loungers opens Cosy Club in new Ipswich shopping centre, 15th UK site: Loungers has opened its 15th Cosy Club, this time in the new Buttermarket Shopping Centre in Ipswich. The site features an outdoor terrace, where customers are welcomed before ascending a glass staircase to the venue that features chandeliers and a hand-carved wooden wall. Earlier this week, Prezzo became the first restaurant brand to open at the new-look Buttermarket Centre, with Wagamama, Byron, and The Restaurant Group-owned Coast to Coast set to launch this month. The Buttermarket’s former food court is being converted into a Pure Gym and work is under way to fit-out a 12-screen Empire Cinema. In June, Loungers co-founder Jake Bishop was appointed managing director of the group’s Cosy Club brand, a new role created ahead of a number of Cosy Club openings set for the next 18 months.

Nottingham nightclub closes after eight years: A nightclub that has been operating in Nottingham for the past eight years has closed. The Forum operated from the Cornerhouse in Burton Street and hosted club nights, live gigs and comedy club nights. It announced its closure via its Facebook page, with a statement saying it had “decided to call it a night”. “We’d like to thank all our friends and regulars for some unforgettable moments, we’ve won both best and worst club awards over the years so we would like to think at some point we’ve made everyone happy,” the statement added. “Love it or hate it, the Forum has been part of Nottingham’s nightlife history and for that we say thank you and goodnight.”

Giggling Squid to open first Norfolk restaurant, in Norwich next month: Thai restaurant business Giggling Squid will open its first site in Norfolk, in Norwich next month. The 200-cover, 4,000 square foot restaurant will open in Tombland at a former Casual Dining Group-owned La Tasca venue on Friday, September 9. Earlier this month, Giggling Squid revealed plans to add ten further sites to its estate in the next 12 months. On the back of its recent £6.4m investment from the Business Growth Fund and the granting of a new £8m bank facility with Barclays, Giggling Squid said it would step up its growth plans. In addition to the Norwich restaurant, its 16th site, other venues in Berkhamsted, Warwick and Farnham are already in “fit out”. Giggling Squid co-founder Pranee Laurillard told the Eastern Daily Press: “We’ve had our eye on Norwich for a while. It’s clear there’s a vibrant, buzzing food scene and we think our fresh take on Thai cuisine will go down really well. We’ve just been waiting for the right location to come up. Now it has, we can’t wait to open!”

London-based pop-up ramen concept Monohon to launch permanent site in Old Street: London-based pop-up ramen concept Monohon is set to launch a permanent site in Old Street, London, later this year. Monohon, which translates as “the real thing”, is the brainchild of Ian Wheatley, who developed a passion for Japanese food and culture after living and working in the country for many years. The menu at the 30-cover, 1,400 square foot restaurant will feature authentic ramen dishes, including Abura Soba, which was Monohon’s most popular dish during its run of sold-out, pop-up events during the past year. Wheatley said: “There is a strong lunch and dinner crowd in the area that we look forward to engaging with. Old Street has changed so much in the past 20 years but still has a good energy, and I think the Clerkenwell side of the roundabout is about to develop rapidly and match the Shoreditch side. It is very exciting to be part of that.” Tony Levine, of agents Shelley Sandzer, which acted on behalf of the assignor, said: “We identified Monohon as an ideal operator for this location, adjacent to the popular and vibrant Whitecross Street, where there is very high footfall during the day due to the surrounding offices. Ian has tremendous passion for ramen and we are sure he will be extremely successful here.” Shelley Sandzer also acted on behalf of the previous tenants in the deal.

BaxerStorey achieves highest Hospitality Assured score to date: Contract catering company BaxterStorey has achieved its highest Hospitality Assured score to date – 81.6%. Hospitality Assured is the quality standard created by the Institute of Hospitality. It assesses nine areas of business, from customer research and business planning to service delivery and customer satisfaction improvement. In addition to observing working practices, service and team interaction, assessors interviewed a number of staff at random. BaxterStorey programmes, such as the Chef Academy, Barista Academy and Advanced Management Project, were just some of the initiatives identified as equipping teams with the skills and knowledge required to provide an exceptional level of service. BaxterStorey chairman Alastair Storey said: “We continually strive for service excellence and are delighted that our teams’ efforts have been recognised with our best ever score. We strongly believe in the importance of nurturing talent and it is particularly rewarding to see our training programmes receiving praise. After all, it is our dedicated people who enable us to deliver the very best levels of service.” Max Lawrence, director of finance and administration at Hospitality Assured, added: “BaxterStorey has taken part in the Hospitality Assured assessment for more than a decade. Its year-on-year progress demonstrates the importance and commitment the organisation places on quality and ongoing improvement.”

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, will reveal 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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