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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Wed 7th Dec 2016 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Starbucks leads European coffee league, UK most advanced market: Starbucks is the fastest-growing branded coffee chain in Europe having opened 194 stores in 2016, according to the Project Café2017 Europe report from Allegra World Coffee Portal (WCP). The coffee company has grown its European estate to 2,154 sites across 24 countries and, with its planned entry to Italy next year, it will be present in all major European markets. As the most developed market in Europe, the UK remains the model for the branded coffee shop industry, the report said. The total number of branded outlets is estimated at 21,198 outlets, with 1,268 outlets added in 2016. This represents growth of 6.4% versus 9% a year earlier. A total of 21 of the 25 countries analysed in the report saw expansion, yet the rate of growth has slowed compared with 2015. The report revealed the UK, Turkey and Greece were the fastest-growing markets in terms of outlet expansion in the past 12 months. Continued investment by leading chains saw the top three brands maintain a 32% market share of the total European coffee chain market in 2016. Whitbread-owned Costa Coffee leads the way, operating 2,512 outlets across 12 European countries, followed by McCafé with 2,199 outlets across 17 countries and then Starbucks. The report identified strong sustained growth in markets with an established artisan wave presence such as the UK, Russia, Nordics and Netherlands. Successful branded chains are adapting to this influence with new in-store design, origin coffee and fresh hand-prepared food. Allegra WCP has predicted the “fifth wave, the business of coffee” would present an important new era for the global coffee industry. The fifth wave encompasses a combination of all four previous waves – tradition, branded chains, artisan, and the science of coffee – where high-quality boutique chains will be a major feature of the market going forward. It said brands that didn’t adapt would risk losing business. The report observed traditional branded chains across Europe – such as Coffee House, Kahve Dukkani, Ozsut and Coffea – have already suffered multiple outlet closures in 2016. It added there would be a greater investment in new technologies from operators to fully engage with savvy millennials and increase consumer satisfaction. Allegra Group chief executive Jeffrey Young said: “We are entering an exciting, yet challenging era for the European coffee industry within a global context – one that will ultimately see the leading brands compete on excellence in an environment where winning is everything. Success will be defined by brands that develop and retain highly motivated and passionate staff. The industry will put more emphasis on hyper-professionalism and invest in people development programmes to support long-term career paths for hospitality professionals.”

Industry News:

Propel and Thinking Drinkers launch third Craft Beer Retail Study Tour: Propel is launching its third Craft Beer Retail Study Tour on Thursday, 26 January in London, this time focusing on the east of the capital. The tour, led by Thinking Drinkers, award-winning beer writers Ben McFarland and Tom Sandham, will visit six of London’s leading craft beer retailers and a cider specialist during the seven-hour tour. McFarland and Sandham will provide the latest craft beer facts and figures, market segmentation analysis, and spot up-and-coming trends. Site visits will include question-and-answer sessions with London’s leading retailers looking at award-winning sites, beer-centric retail, beer sourcing, direct sourcing, menus, brewing on-site, and a host of other issues. The day includes travel between venues by coach. Tickets are £345 plus VAT for Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) members and £395 plus VAT for non-ALMR members. Email to book or for more details.

Line-up for Advanced Marketing and Insights Masterclass revealed: A host of companies have signed up for the Advanced Marketing and Insights Masterclass. They include Polpo, My Lahore, Living Ventures, Beds and Bars, Black and White Hospitality, City Pub Company, The New World Trading Company, Greene King, Marston’s, Be At One, PizzaExpress, Mitchells & Butlers, Oakman Inns, Young’s, Coaching Inn Group, TRG Concessions, Cambscuisine, Electric Star Pubs, Coal Grill & Bar, Signature Pub Company, Epic Pub Company, Parkdean Resorts, Namco UK, and True North Brew Company. The line-up for the Advanced Marketing and Insights Masterclass, in which Propel is partnering with leading sector public relations and marketing expert James Hacon, has been previously revealed. Hacon will share industry-leading marketing campaigns and activity from some of the biggest and best brands across the globe and share tips on how to capture ideas and apply this innovation to a brand. He will also share his strategy and direction for marketing at Thai Leisure Group and will reveal how the company has refined and defined the Chaophraya and Thaikhun brands, developed the proposition, and delivered a research-based, award-winning marketing campaign. Charles Banks, of The Food People, will dive into the hot new concepts, foods and products in the international market to see what eating trends are shaping the industry, how the traditional business model is evolving, and how millennials are changing the models and concepts of the future. There will be a guided group session sharing best practice, seeking advice and sharing stories. Oliver Taylor, senior insight manager at Elliotts, will share the latest insight on how consumers are making decisions on where to go to drink or dine out, what inspires them, how they plan their evening and how they prefer to book. Cote marketing director Andrew Gallagher will reveal what’s at the top of his marketing agenda and what he thinks will have an impact on this during 2017. Helen Baptist, senior vice-president of Fishbowl USA, will show how data can be leveraged to understand and better target customers to drive revenue, and share top tips on data-driven wins. She will also share real-life case studies from leading-edge, fast-growing US concepts, including Blaze Pizza, Average Joe’s and Jamba Juice. There will be also be a panel discussion led by Hacon with Maxwell’s marketing manager Anthony Wright, G1 Group marketing director Lyn MacDonald, and Drake & Morgan marketing and sales director Pooja Sharma Jones about where they see success, their plans for the future, and other topics discussed throughout the day. The event takes place on Thursday, 12 January at One Moorgate Place in London. Tickets are priced at £295 plus VAT for Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) members and £345 plus VAT for non-ALMR members and are available by emailing Anne Steele on

Former KFC employee has his fried chicken shop crowned best takeaway in Britain: Former KFC employee Ray Cheah has had his fried independent chicken shop in Luton crowned best takeaway in Britain. Cheah, who launched Chicken George more than 30 years ago, scooped top prize at The British Takeaway Awards, which are run in association with online food delivery market place Just Eat. The family-run business, which was a regional winner last year, also scooped £6,000 at a ceremony at The Savoy in London. A panel of judges, including celebrity chef Ainsley Harriott and businesswoman and BBC2 Dragons’ Den star Sarah Willingham, crowned Chicken George because of its dedication to “sourcing local ingredients and consistently delivering fresh, exceptional food”. They were impressed by the company’s strong sense of community spirit, including supporting local sports teams, donating surplus food to a homeless charity and providing pensioners with free chicken after their monthly bingo session. The judges also commended Chicken George’s staff development and investment in the business that has seen 55% growth in 2016. Graham Corfield, UK managing director of Just Eat and chairman of the judging panel, said: “Chicken George is a traditional family business that’s been in the community for many years and really resonates with its customers. It’s constantly innovating with fantastic food, focuses on developing and rewarding staff, and gives the customer a great experience time and again.” The awards celebrate the nation’s diverse range of takeaway cuisines and rewards the contribution takeaway owners and their staff make to local communities and the British economy.

Operators warned foodservice inflation will hit 3.4% next year, exchange rates already put £10.8bn pressure on costs in 2016: Operators and caterers have been warned foodservice inflation will hit 3.4% next year, driven by currency fluctuations, political uncertainty and the unknown outcome of trade deals. Exchange rates have already put £10.8bn pressure on UK foodservice costs this year, while fish pricing has become more volatile, butter has doubled in price, and potatoes have experienced sharp price rises, according to supply chain expert Prestige Purchasing’s annual food inflation report. With fish, pricing for the foodservice sector is experiencing great volatility, driven by disease, which is affecting supply. Butter has doubled in price in the past few months because of lower milk production. This is expected to affect other dairy products in the future. Reduced crops and lower UK yields have put upward pressure on potato prices. Meanwhile, with global production of wheat increasing and the possibility of the end of Russian sanctions (Russia is one of the largest wheat producers in the world), prices are expected to remain stable or could even see some downward pressure. Purchasing operations director Shaun Allen said: “What we’ve seen so far this year is that inflation for the foodservice sector is running at 0.5%. Movement in the exchange rate alone has put up to £10.8bn of pressure on the UK’s food and drink value. Next year, with uncertainty around Russian sanctions, Brexit, and the Trump administration, coupled with a cut of 4.5% in oil production and the currency exchange volatility all this will bring, we expect inflation for the foodservice sector to experience a sharp rise.”

Teams sought for 2017 Drinks Trade Regatta: Teams are being sought for the brewing industry’s annual sailing event, which has undergone a name change for 2017 to the Drinks Trade Regatta. The 27th regatta will take place from 2-4 June on the Solent. Teams are asked to donate £1,000 to charity with the top three contributors able to donate a percentage (first place 50%, second 30% and third 20%) to a charity of their choice. The event features seven races over the two days as well as a barbecue evening at the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club and a gala dinner at the Royal Yacht Squadron, both in Cowes. The cost is £3,200 per yacht, which includes VAT and the £1,000 charity donation. Crews can be novices as skippers can be provided for an additional cost by Sunsail, which facilitates the event. For more information, call Sunsail account manager Terry Hunt on 02392 222 221. The 2016 regatta, which saw 17 crews and 160 people take part, was won by Jagermeister with Anglian Country Inns finishing second and Faucet Inn third.

Spending in restaurants, bars and hotels sees marked slowdown as consumer spend hits 22-month high: Spending in restaurants, bars and hotels saw a marked slowdown in November as year-on-year consumer spending reached a 22-month high, according to the latest data from Visa. The overall rise of 3.2%, which was up from 2.5% in October, was the strongest rate of increase since January 2015, driven by e-commerce around Black Friday, Visa’s UK Consumer Spending Index has revealed. However, hotels, restaurants and bars saw spending growth slow year-on-year to 2.2% from 9.3% in October, while food and drink also saw year-on-year growth slow to 0.7% from 4.8% the previous month. Spending through e-commerce channels increased at a sharp and accelerated pace in November. Moreover, e-commerce expenditure rose at the quickest pace since the series began in June 2009 (12.5% on the year). This more than offset a slight fall in face-to-face spending in November (-1.4%). All eight broad-spending categories saw higher expenditure in November, albeit to varying degrees. Recreation and culture saw the steepest rate of expansion (9.3% year-on-year). Solid growth was also registered in household goods (3.7%) and miscellaneous goods and services (4.9%). Expenditure, meanwhile, increased in transport and communication for the first time since April (2.1%). Visa UK and Ireland managing director Kevin Jenkins said: “The Christmas shopping season got off to a good start for consumers and retailers alike. Overall spending growth in November accelerated to a 22-month high as consumers made the most of the promotions around Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The shopping season seems to have started earlier this year too, as we saw solid spending growth rates in the weeks leading up to Black Friday. As Black Friday shifted further online this year, e-commerce retailers were the clear winners in November. Online spending grew 12.5% over the last year, the highest rate of growth since our records began in 2009. In contrast, spend on the high street was down 1.4%. All sectors benefited from an upsurge in growth, with recreation and culture in the lead, as the experience economy continued to power ahead. Household goods saw its highest level of growth since December 2015, as more shoppers took advantage of Black Friday promotions to upgrade domestic appliances. Clothing and footwear retailers reported an increase in sales too, albeit at a slower rate than in October.”

Pubs toast beer sales boost following sporting Saturday: Pubs saw the benefit of last Saturday’s top-class sporting action with beer volumes up year-on-year, according to analysis by beer quality and insights expert Vianet. Data provided by Vianet’s iDraught cellar and bar management system provides detailed analysis of pint per hour (PPH) consumption at key times during sporting events. The bumper afternoon of sport, with two big Premier League matches broadcast live and a high-profile England international rugby union clash, meant sports pubs and non-sports-focused venues experienced an uplift in consumption on Saturday (3 December). The figures showed the continuation of England’s winning run, with victory over Australia at Twickenham, and the Premier League double-header of Manchester City versus Chelsea, and West Ham versus Arsenal helped pull in the punters. Sports venues were up 1.54% year-on-year, with the peak trading hour between 6pm and 7pm during the evening’s Premier League London derby. Non-sports-focused venues also experienced a marginal uplift of 0.80%. The average sports pub beer volume was 282 pints on the day. The pre-match run rate was 10 PPH, consumption was 23 PPH during the match, and post-match was 25 PPH. Vianet said one in four pints were served via an unclean beer line. The sample comprised more than 1,700 sports pubs showing the matches, versus a “control” group of about 3,300 non-sports-focused pubs.

Company News:

JW Lees completes purchase of four Greene King pubs: North west brewer and retailer JW Lees has completed the purchase of four pubs from Greene King – The Bear’s Paw in Chester, The Crown in Lymm, The Frog and Railway in Heaton Mersey, and The Vale Royal Abbey Arms in Delamere. The purchase follows JW Lees’ strategy of growing its pub estate in the north west and the pubs will now be integrated into the business as well as benefiting from capital investment. Managing director William Lees-Jones said: “We are proud to be welcoming four new pubs into the JW Lees family and we remain hungry for acquisitions of both managed and tenanted pubs as well as hotels in the north west.” JW Lees was advised by Noel Moffitt of Christie & Co and Matthew O’Brien of Brabners.

Department of Coffee and Social Affairs secures 11th site, in Whitechapel: London-based coffee brand the Department of Coffee and Social Affairs has secured its 11th site, in Whitechapel. The company has acquired a 1,167 square foot unit within flexible workspaces and co-working company The Office Group’s (TOG) 30,000 square foot site in High Street. The workspace has private offices, co-working space and meeting rooms. As well as the coffee shop, which is due to open in mid-December, there are also a variety of other spaces in the building for different working styles and activities, from study carriages and stand-up desks to the large roof terrace. Department of Coffee and Social Affairs chief executive Ashley Lopez said: “This is another opening in an iconic location in central London. Whitechapel is plentiful in its history and culture and with the influx of startup businesses and residential properties to the area, it is an ideal location for our new coffee shop. We know this is an area of London that is thriving and we are excited to have the opportunity to be a part of its future growth.” TOG co-chief executive Olly Olsen added: “We’re really excited that the Department of Coffee and Social Affairs is opening its 11th shop at our building in Whitechapel, as it’s an ambitious and growing business that will complement the TOG community very well. For many, hard work and good coffee go hand in hand, so we wanted to combine the best of both at our new workspace in Whitechapel.” Agent Shelley Sandzer acted on behalf of TOG in the deal.

Barrio Bars co-owners unite with Sovereign Loss team to open Soho venture: Barrio Bars co-owners Ferdie Ahmed and Ani Kyriacou have joined forces with Chris Dennis and Joe St Clair-Ford, the team behind London bar Sovereign Loss, to open a new venture in Soho. They have launched Disrepute in Kingly Street on the former site of 1960s haunt The Pinstripe Club. Inspired by its colourful history of scandal and infamy, Disrepute will combine “classic timeless qualities with 1960s counterculture and the best of London’s cocktail culture today”. Nestled in a 100-capacity basement between Carnaby Street and Beak Street, Disrepute (or DRP for short) welcomes members and non-members at certain times if space is available. The bar’s decor features panelled walls and vaulted ceilings, while the drinks menu includes cocktails and a luxurious collection of spirits and wine, with an emphasis on bottles from England.

Gino D’Acampo and Individual Restaurants open third My Restaurant site, in Leeds: Italian chef and television personality Gino D’Acampo has opened the third site of his fast-casual dining concept My Restaurant in partnership with Individual Restaurants. The 150-cover restaurant has opened in Leeds’ financial district following on from venues in Manchester and London’s Euston station. My Restaurant Leeds is set over two floors and includes an open kitchen and deli bar overlooking Park Row, as well as a basement prosecco bar. D’Acampo said: “After months of planning for the opening, I can’t wait to welcome guests to My Restaurant Leeds at this wonderful time of year.” Last month, Individual Restaurants founder Steven Walker told Insider Media the company was making progress on rolling out its partnership with D’Acampo. He said: “The plan is for four additional Gino D’Acampo sites in the 2017 calendar year, with a focus on major UK cities.” The W2D2 consortium bought and delisted Manchester-headquartered Individual Restaurants in 2011. W2D2 is led by Steven Walker and Iceland founder Malcolm Walker.

Roberts & Treguer opens second London pub restaurant with rooftop garden: Roberts & Treguer, the company behind all-day, four-storey pub restaurant The Culpeper in Spitalfields, east London, has opened a second site, this time in Clerkenwell. The company, headed by Gareth Roberts and Nico Treguer, has opened The Green in Clerkenwell Green on the former site of bar restaurant Dans Le Noir. The Green offers snacks such as devilled crab on toast, and honey and mustard-glazed ham with quince, and main dishes including whole grilled plaice with salsify, leeks and beurre blanc, and shoulder of lamb with suet pudding, purple broccoli, anchovy and garlic crumb. The drinks list features natural and organic wine from small growers and a selection of draught and bottled beer. The full structural refurbishment will be complete next year, including the rooftop space. Earlier this year, Roberts & Treguer received planning permission to create a “passivhaus” (ultra-low energy building) as part of a canal-side residential collection of houses and flats in Pudding Mill Lane in Stratford, east London.

Shepherd Neame reopens historic Berkshire coaching inn following £1.1m refurbishment: Shepherd Neame, the Kent-based brewer, pub and hotel operator, has reopened historic coaching inn The Ostrich in Colnbrook, Berkshire, following a £1.1m refurbishment. The Ostrich is the third-oldest inn in England, dating to 1106. It is in the heart of Colnbrook village but is also only five miles from Heathrow airport. Following the three-month refurbishment, The Ostrich offers 11 en-suite bedrooms. Traditional features such as oak beams, oak flooring and an inglenook fireplace have been preserved, while a new carved wooden bar has been installed. Shepherd Neame has also put in new furniture, lighting and decor, while the large garden has been landscaped and new seating installed. The refurbished kitchen is now open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a new menu and all dishes cooked fresh to order using locally sourced ingredients. The first-floor function room has capacity for 30, while a 16-cover private dining room on the ground floor is also available for hire. Shepherd Neame director of retail and tenanted operations Nigel Bunting said: “The Ostrich is a beautiful inn with real character and we decided to maximise its potential. Due to the inn’s proximity to Heathrow, we thought there would be a market for guests wishing to stay over and have already seen a high demand for the rooms.”

Bao and pickle cafe concept Bun House to launch in Soho: Bao and pickle cafe concept Bun House is set to launch in Soho early next year. Under the control of the Mossman Family Import Company, the street diner in Greek Street will offer traditional, Canton-style bao buns with Chinese pickles made in-house, plus sides such as prickly cucumber-style salad. Bun House will also offer homemade “house fries”, which are made from deep-fried duck tongues rather than potatoes. The venue will only have room for ten covers and mainly focus on grab and go, Hot Dinners reports. Individually priced steamed bao buns will include char siu with sticky barbecue pork belly, plus lamb, chicken, fish and vegetable options, alongside a selection of sweet dessert buns. Chinese soft drinks and craft beer from Hong Kong will top the drinks list.

Bar Soba clinches £3m from BGF, plans seven further UK restaurants, Mansigani made non-executive chairman: Bar Soba has received £3m investment from the Business Growth Fund (BGF) to fund plans to open seven UK restaurants, while the BGF has introduced the business to former Casual Dining Group chief financial officer Mohan Mansigani, who has been appointed non-executive chairman. Glasgow-based Bar Soba operates five restaurants across Glasgow, Edinburgh and Leeds and is now considering city centre sites in Aberdeen, Newcastle, Liverpool and Manchester. Following initial expansion into the north of England, it hopes to eventually operate 30 sites across the UK. Founder and chief executive Brad Stevens told the BBC: “I’m really excited about our ambitious expansion plans and that we’ve found the right partner to provide the funding and expertise we need to accelerate our growth. Expanding to 12 city centre locations will allow even more drinkers and diners to enjoy our combination of indulgent cocktails and freshly prepared street food inspired by the night markets of south east Asia.” Mansigani was chief financial officer of Casual Dining Group from 2002 to 2014, having previously been finance director at Costa Coffee and TGI Friday’s. He said: “I’ve worked with some really vibrant brands during my career and I see many of the same elements in the DNA of Bar Soba.”

South African barbecue concept Hammer & Tongs launches in Clerkenwell: South African barbecue concept Hammer & Tongs has launched in Clerkenwell, London. The restaurant in Farringdon Road features a three-metre braai grill on which the majority of dishes are cooked in front of customers. The menu is split in two – cuts and steaks, and skewers – and priced accordingly, Hot Dinners reports. Starters include braai-pot baked bread, while at the top of the scale diners can enjoy 700g T-bone steak with reblochon and tarragon gratin, smoked buchu and monkey gland sauce. Skewers are available as whole or half portions, including Arctic spruce-salted monkfish with confetti bush and aji panca pepper. The cocktail menu, curated by Pete Kendall of Milk and Honey, includes a Stellen-Spritz with caperitif rosso, Graham Beck sparkling wine and wild jasmine syrup. Ice for drinks are cut from a huge block on the bar.

Two Maidstone restaurants to close as owner looks to sell: Two restaurants in Maidstone, Kent, are to close after being placed on the market by their owner. The Buffet House and La Taberna are based in the same building in Union Street and both businesses will close when the site is sold. The current owner first bought the property in 2007 when it was known as the Comedy Creek Club. He developed the first-floor area, which has been operating as Spanish restaurant La Taberna for the past year. Agent Christie & Co has been appointed to handle the sale, with offers of £849,995 being sought for the freehold or £70,000 for the leasehold, with an annual rent of £45,000. James Hughes, business agent in Christie & Co’s Maidstone office, said: “This centrally located site presents an excellent opportunity for a new owner to introduce two new offerings to Maidstone, whether they are kept as restaurants or converted into different uses. The current business has built up a good reputation during that period with the local and wider community but there is plenty of room for further development. There is also an opportunity to obtain planning permission to add hotel rooms, which would give an extra dimension to the business.” 

Thai Leisure Group appoints Simon Firth as its first executive chef: Thai Leisure Group, operator of restaurant brands Chaophraya and Thaikhun, has appointed Simon Firth as its first executive chef as the company looks to grow its estate to 35 restaurants by the end of 2018. Firth, who spent the past ten years as group executive chef of Manchester Central Group, will head back-of-house operations across all Thai Leisure Group brands, focusing on training, compliance, purchasing and recruitment. Firth said: “I have been passionate about Asian cooking all my life and look forward to overseeing logistics at Thai Leisure Group and easing growing pains as the business looks to scale its operations over the coming year. One of my main goals is to make Thai cooking accessible to young chefs across the UK and promote the speciality as a viable option for young chefs leaving college. This new role gives me the platform to do that.” Thai Leisure Group managing director Ian Leigh added: “It’s great to have a chef of Simon’s calibre joining our team. The business is entering a period of expansion and his experience will prove invaluable in attracting, retaining and training new staff, as well as overseeing logistics during this busy period.” Meanwhile, the company has opened its tenth Thaikhun site, this time at Southampton’s £85m WestQuay Watermark development. Thai Leisure Group also operates the ChaoBaby and Yee Rah brands.

BrewDog turns BottleDog King’s Cross takeaway into latest bar: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has turned its BottleDog King’s Cross site into its latest bar. Launched two years ago, BottleDog offered bottles, cans and growler fills of craft beer but has now been rebranded as BrewDog Gray’s Inn Road to include upstairs seating and a basement bar. BrewDog stated on its blog: “We have converted the downstairs offices into a basement bar featuring five taps with three BrewDog beers and two rotating guest beers. For anyone who visited BottleDog and wished they could hang around, we have the perfect answer – comfy booths and other seating in our subterranean speakeasy. As well as the draft offerings from the downstairs bar, anything available for purchase from the shelves upstairs can be uncapped and enjoyed as well. If downstairs is too far to travel, we have also added seating to the original upstairs half of the building too! With a choice of more than 300 craft beers, the bar also stocks a range of snacks, including gourmet charcuterie from Serious Pig, and we are also rocking some amazing cheese boards.” Meanwhile, BrewDog has passed the £2m mark in its £10m mini-bond campaign on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube. The mini-bond will pay 7.5% interest per annum over four years, with the move funding the company’s future expansion. The minimum investment for the BrewDog Bond is £500 – and it will be paying out the return bi-annually. So far, 749 investors have pledged £2,019,000.

Hospitality Jobs UK partners with HIT Training for new initiative: Online advertising job board Hospitality Jobs UK (HJUK) has agreed a two-year partnership with HIT Training, the national apprenticeship provider in the hospitality industry. It marks the launch of an initiative aimed at promoting national apprenticeships, work-based learning programmes, and staff development schemes in hospitality. HJUK founder Dawn Redman said: “We have a strong understanding of what trainees and employers need and our mission at HJUK is simple, to do everything we can to raise the awareness of apprenticeships available in this tremendous sector and in doing so reduce the ever increasing skills gap while assisting even more people to gain a qualification, apprenticeship or job.” HIT training managing director Jill Whittaker added: “Recruitment in our industry is a hot topic at the moment as businesses strive to find the right candidates during the current skills shortage, which is showing no sign of going anywhere anytime soon. We know how important it is for employers to find the right team members, which is why we have partnered with HJUK to offer added value to the businesses we work alongside and a greater opportunity for them to raise awareness of the career prospects within their teams. The sharing of information, creativity and resources is what helps make this industry so fantastic and, working with HJUK, we aim to offer a platform for businesses to do this. As well as advertising apprenticeships on the website, the expert team we have here at HIT will also be providing regular blog posts and information on updates to government information and initiatives relating to apprenticeships and training.”

Starbucks launches third annual Starbucks for Life competition: Starbucks has launched its Starbucks for Life competition for the third consecutive year, giving members of its Rewards programme in the US and Canada an opportunity to win prizes including Starbucks for Life, Starbucks for a Year, Starbucks for a Month, Starbucks for a Week, and millions of “bonus stars”. Until 16 January, Starbucks Rewards members can earn game plays when they make a purchase in participating stores using either their registered Starbucks card or mobile app. Members can redeem game plays and collect digital game pieces online. They can also complete challenges to earn extra game plays and bonus stars towards rewards, and win prizes by collecting game pieces. Seven customers will win the grand prize of Starbucks for Life, 45 will win Starbucks for a Year, 250 customers will win Starbucks for a Month, and 800 will win Starbucks for a Week.

Molson Coors appoints Phil Whitehead as UK and Ireland managing director: Molson Coors has appointed Phil Whitehead as managing director of Molson Coors UK & Ireland. He will head a new-look country leadership team, with the responsibility of delivering Molson Coors’ “first choice for consumers and customers” ethos. Whitehead has been with Molson Coors for 11 years, most recently as chief supply chain officer in Europe, and has been instrumental in driving Molson Coors’ customer-centric agenda in the UK during the past five years. Whitehead said: “We have established an ambitious, customer-focused team in the UK and Ireland that is leading the way in transforming the industry. The political and legislative landscape has changed significantly since the start of the year, yet our business continues to thrive. We have the best portfolio we’ve ever had and I look forward to working with our reinvigorated team and our loyal customers to grow our business further in 2017 and beyond.” Whitehead has taken on the role from Frederic Landtmeters, who has become chief executive of Molson Coors, Canada. Whitehead’s appointment is one of many staff changes at Molson Coors UK and Ireland, including Martyn Cozens being appointed to the newly created position of on-trade sales director.

Newcastle-based restaurateur opens third site: Andy Hook, owner of Blackfriars in Newcastle and Hinnies in Whitley Bay, has opened his third restaurant in the region, this time in Newcastle Quayside. Hook has teamed up with head chef Troy Terrington to open Dobson and Parnell, a 65-cover restaurant specialising in refined British and European cuisine using ethically sourced, seasonal produce direct from nearby farms and markets. The set menu features dishes such as hake-smoked clam with pickled lemon, and shoulder of pork with parsnips, trivet onions and pickled walnuts. The grade II-listed venue in Queen Street formerly housed Terry Laybourne’s Michelin-starred 21 Queen Street, as well as modern British restaurant Pan Haggerty. Hook told Chronicle Live: “I fell in love with this site the first time I saw it. That was in the mid-90s when I used to peer longingly through the windows at the elegant Victorian dining room and happy diners. It’s perfectly proportioned as a restaurant with a cavernous kitchen ideally suited for Troy’s innovative and creative cooking. What’s more, Newcastle’s Quayside has experienced a revival of top-notch restaurants and bars in the past year, so when we saw an opportunity to open in such a vibrant location, we just couldn’t resist.”

JD Wetherspoon to open new Edinburgh pub: Pub operator JD Wetherspoon will open its new pub in Edinburgh on Tuesday, 13 December, creating 124 jobs. The company has spent £2.5m to develop the outlet, which is on the site of former live music venue The Picture House in Lothian Road. The Wetherspoon pub, which will be renamed The Caley Picture House, will be managed by Matthew Knowles. The Grade B-listed building was originally the Caley Picture House, which opened in 1923 with silent film Game of Life. In 1928, the building was enlarged for the new “talkies”, with an imposing entrance block added at the right-hand side. The new pub will be open from 7am until 1am, seven days a week. Food will be served from opening until 11pm. The interior design has a contemporary edge, a modern take on classic art deco, with striking black and gold tones throughout. The company already runs The Standing Order and The Alexander Graham Bell, both in George Street, The Booking Office on Waverley Bridge, The Playfair at the Omni Centre in Leith Walk, The Foot of the Walk in Constitution Street, Leith, as well as The White Lady in St John’s Road, Corstorphine.

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