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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Thu 15th Dec 2016 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Coffer Peach Tracker – overall like-for-likes up 1.1%, pubs outperform restaurants: Managed pub and restaurant groups saw collective like-for-like sales grow 1.1% in November against the same month last year, according to the latest Coffer Peach Business Tracker – with London providing the biggest increase. Like-for-like sales in the capital were up 3.5% on last November, when sales were hit by public nervousness in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks, with chain restaurants feeling the biggest impact. “London saw like-for-likes fall 1.5% last November and that had a knock-on effect on national figures, which were down 0.2% on 2014,” said Peter Martin, vice-president of CGA Peach, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker, in partnership with Coffer Group and RSM. “So although this November’s overall trading increase is to be welcomed, it has to be put in context. Outside London, groups recorded collective like-for-likes up just 0.3%, which might be a more accurate reflection of the essentially flat nature of the eating and drinking out market post-Brexit vote.” Pub groups had the best of trading last month, with collective like-for-likes up 1.7% and with drink-led pubs and bars performing better than food-led. Branded restaurant chains were up just 0.2% nationally on November last year. Martin added: “These latest numbers come on the back of three consecutive months of sales growth in the sector in July, August and September following the EU referendum, but a 1.0% decline in October, so operators need to remain cautious with plenty of volatility, uncertainty and competition ahead. Confidence in the market is slowly returning after the Brexit vote although, as our latest CGA poll of senior executives shows, longer-term optimism for the coming 12 months, at 36%, is lower than confidence for the immediate six months ahead, at 50%.” Total sales growth in November, reflecting the impact of new openings, was 4.1% among the 34 companies in the Tracker cohort. The underlying annual sales trend shows sector like-for-likes running at 0.7% ahead for the 12 months to the end of November, essentially in line with previous months. Coffer Corporate Leisure managing director Mark Sheehan said: “Trading for eating and drinking-out operators in November was up on a soft period the previous year. Many operators are cautiously optimistic about Christmas but more nervous about 2017. With pressure on many costs, including wages, food and other commodity costs as well as rent and rates increases, operators need stronger growth to stand still. 2017 could be a year many simply batten down the hatches but there are still some excellent schemes and opportunities for expanding food and beverage concepts in the right locations.” RSM Corporate Finance LLP associate director Adam Spencer added: “Generally positive results for November from across the UK, albeit compared with a relative low base month, will have provided hard-pressed operators with some respite in the run-up to the all-important festive trading season. With consumer confidence predicted to falter going into the new year, it will be interesting to see which operators break ranks to hike menu prices as the sector begins to see the full impact of the much-heralded cost headwinds.”

Industry News:

Itinerary unveiled for third Craft Beer Retail Study Tour: The itinerary has been unveiled for the third Propel and Thinking Drinkers Craft Beer Retail Study Tour. The event, which this year focuses on east London, takes place on Thursday, 26 January and will visit six of London’s leading craft beer retailers and a cider specialist during the seven-hour tour. It starts at Urban Pubs and Bars’ ping-pong concept Bat and Ball at Westfield Stratford. The tour will then visit Tap East in Stratford, the brewpub operated by Mike Hill and Richard Dinwoodie, the duo previously behind Utobeer. The next stop will be Mason & Company, a specialist craft beer bar and deli at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The tour will then head to brewery and pizza venue Crate Brewery and fresh tank beer venue Howling Hops, both based at Queen’s Yard. It will continue to artisan pizza and cider brand The Stable, which is 76% owned by Fuller’s, in Whitechapel before finishing at Dinerama in Great Eastern Street, the street food craft beer concept run by Henry Dimbleby and Jonathan Downey. The tour will again be led by Thinking Drinkers, award-winning beer writers Ben McFarland and Tom Sandham, who will provide the latest craft beer facts and figures, market segmentation and analysis, and spot up-and-coming trends. 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 anne.steele@propelinfo.com to book or for more details.

Host of companies sign up for Advanced Marketing and Insights Masterclass: A host of companies have signed up for the Advanced Marketing and Insights Masterclass. They include Whitbread, PizzaExpress, Bourne Leisure, Frederic Robinson, ASK Italian, Dirty Martini, FrogPubs, Eclectic Bars, Enterprise inns, Star Pubs and Bars, Le Bistrot Pierre, Thai Leisure Group, 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 Knight, 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 anne.steele@propelinfo.com

Shares at Punch climb almost 40% following takeover bids: Shares at Punch have climbed almost 40% after it confirmed it had received two takeover bids. The company’s share price increased 48.5p to 177.00p on Wednesday afternoon (14 December) from the start of trading – up by 37.74%. It confirmed earlier in the day it had received bids from Heineken and an investment fund backed by Punch co-founder Alan McIntosh. Heineken is in advanced talks but the Dutch brewer’s 174p offer has been outshone by an 185p bid from Emerald Investments, which would value the business at £410m. Both parties have until 11 January to make final offers.

Digital loyalty card service for restaurants completes crowdfunding campaign having raised nearly £250,000: Loyalzoo, a digital loyalty card service for restaurants, has completed its fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Seedrs having raised nearly £250,000. The company, co-founded by Massimo Sirolls and Mark Ryan, was offering a 7.07% equity stake as it looked to raise £240,000 to grow its service in the UK and US. Loyalzoo has now closed the campaign having raised £247,656. It was a match-funding campaign aimed at raising £500,000 for Loyalzoo, with an existing investor already committing £260,000 as debt capital on the condition the company raised an additional £240,000 in equity capital. The pitch stated: “Almost every large retail chain has moved their loyalty card to a digital medium (apps, web, etc), either in parallel to traditional loyalty cards (Costa, Nando’s, Tesco, The Body Shop), or as their only loyalty system (Starbucks, Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Giraffe, Harvey Nichols). They do it because it gives them better information about their customers and it makes them more competitive. The goal of Loyalzoo is to help small and medium-sized independent merchants and smaller groups achieve the same results, offering them a technology service that’s affordable and designed for them. Besides continuing to expand our core service, with this new investment we will recruit a sales/partnership manager in the US, which will be supported by a member of the London team moving to work with them; hire an additional software developer (up from the current three) to accelerate our deployment; and consolidate the London team with an additional marketing person. In terms of exit opportunities, we believe Loyalzoo would be an attractive acquisition target for large loyalty marketing companies that traditionally only service large retailers and brands, or for payment companies and similar.” 

Hackney has most active development pipeline for hotels in London: Hackney has the most active development pipeline when it comes to hotels, according to Colliers International’s latest London hotel index. The borough has only 2,200 hotel rooms available. However, total active supply expected to open by the end of 2019 will double that level. Colliers head of London hotels Colin Hall said rising regeneration opportunities in the east had tempted hoteliers to seek new areas to invest in. He told Property Week: “The popularity increase in the east of London has not gone unnoticed by hotel investors. We’ve recently seen both Citizen M and the Courthouse hotel open their doors in Shoreditch, and many other well-known brands are looking to establish themselves here as well.” Colliers analysed seven performance indicators, including the active hotel bedroom pipeline, market appetite, and transport accessibility to create its overall London Hotel Index. Westminster hosts the most hotel rooms, with more than 37,000 available, and the highest average daily rates, at £211. The City of London offers the most accessible public transport and has confirmed the openings of 1,915 new rooms. Overall, Kensington and Chelsea came second, recording 4.43 in the index, but the area is almost at full capacity. Hall added: “It’s been near impossible for hotel investors and developers to find the space to create new hotels in Kensington and Chelsea. The residential market has remained extremely strong over the past few years, keeping prices high and supply low, and the grand period houses that make up much of the property stock in the area is difficult to convert.”

PubAid partners with Prostate Cancer UK to launch world’s biggest pub quiz: PubAid, the organisation created to celebrate the great work UK pubs do for charity in raising more than £100m every year, is partnering with Prostate Cancer UK to launch the “world’s biggest pub quiz”. All pubs that sign-up for the event, which will take place on Sunday, 5 March, will be sent a quiz pack, with those choosing to raise money for Prostate Cancer UK receiving dedicated fundraising support and the opportunity to kit their pub out with “Man of Men” pin badges, collection tins and posters. Money raised through the initiative will fund research, support men and their families affected by the disease, and fight injustice in care. PubAid co-founder Des O’Flanagan said: “We’re delighted to partner with Prostate Cancer UK, which has recognised great British pubs are places to get its message heard.” Prostate Cancer UK director of fundraising James Beeby added: “We have a growing number of pop-up pubs known as the Men United Arms, so it made sense to link up with industry experts to reach more publicans and consumers.” For more information, visit www.pubaid.com/quiz

Le Gavroche to go service included: Chef Michel Roux Jr has announced a decision to include service on all diners’ bills at Le Gavroche from the end of January 2017. This will be marked on the bill and menus to make it clear no further payment or gratuity is required, and credit card slips will be closed. Roux Jr said: “There is too much ambiguity between service charges and tips, so I have taken what may be seen by many in the industry as a bold decision to go ‘service included’. Hopefully others will join me in making it clearer for the public to understand what they are paying for, and this move will also ensure there is complete transparency for our front of house and kitchen teams.” Currently the restaurant operates in line with the British Hospitality Association’s Code of Practice in adding a discretionary service charge on all diners’ bills. This service charge is not a tip.

Real estate value of pubs increasingly being realised while tenants opting for market rents will create new opportunity: The real estate of pubs is increasingly being realised while tenants opting for market rents will create a new opportunity, CBRE has argued in its market overview for the fourth quarter of 2016. UK monthly all property initial yield was up 5.16%, compared with 5.05% in the previous quarter. London corporate prime pub yield remained at 4%, London independent and regional corporate prime pub yield stayed at 5.25%, while regional independent pub yield remained at 10%. The report stated: “Pubcos are looking at their assets as real estate as well as brewery taps. They are increasingly letting units out on commercial leases and to non-industry tenants. The risk-adjusted yield is significantly higher than many other property sectors. As the major pubcos look to trim their estates, investors are ready to step in. However, the financing structures of many pubcos prevent this happening quickly. With high levels of securitised debt with first call on the freehold, new investors need to be both bold and imaginative to release the real estate opportunity. Tenants opting for market rents will create a new opportunity. The Market Rent Option (MRO) will take hold. This allows tenants to free themselves from the ‘beer tie’ in return for an open-market rent. As a result, many of the leased and tenanted pubcos will (reluctantly) begin to build more conventional portfolios of rented pubs providing opportunities for specialist investors who understand the sector.” The report said there were also opportunities in smaller, managed and unbranded pubs. Simon Johnson, corporate advisory, pubs and leisure at CBRE, said: “We still believe there is a significant opportunity for entrepreneurial operators to take packages of such pubs and with a smaller portfolio, a flexible offer and management approach, and sophisticated and targeted capital spending, get returns well ahead of the market. We have seen that approach work in pubs and retail agreement arrangements and we expect others to follow in the smaller management segment.” Johnson added that the general view of pub companies on the MRO was “tending toward cautious optimism”. He added: “We note many companies have started once again to point towards their ‘wet’ credentials as the casual dining market and, by implication, the pub food market has seen some slowing in the face of increased competition. Enterprise Inns has actively removed food from some of its pubs to move them into its Craft Union division and we continue to note the desire of Marston’s to add another regional brewer to its portfolio. While it’s too early to call a turn in on-trade beer volumes, we do see more traditional wet models are seeing signs of life – and we believe the leased and tenanted pubs may be best placed to benefit.” CBRE also said the changes to business rates would impact the leisure sector “significantly”. It said it might take a number of years for transitional phasing to expire so rate bills were based entirely on the new rateable value. However, the 2017 revaluation may have a large early impact on rates liability across the pub and leisure sectors.”

Company News:

Be At One reports like-for-likes up 9% as turnover approaches £30m: Cocktail bar brand Be At One has reported like-for-like sales increased 9% as turnover approached the £30m mark. The company, founded in 1998 by Steve Locke, Leigh Miller and Rhys Oldfield, has enjoyed a significant period of strong organic growth as the business continued its selective national expansion. Turnover increased 32% to £29.8m for the year ended 27 March 2016, compared with £22.5m the previous year. Store adjusted Ebitda rose 30% to £7.5m, with group adjusted Ebitda increasing 42% to £4.7m. Six bars opened in the period, with the group’s out-of-London expansion extended to Cardiff, Leeds, Manchester, Norwich and Sheffield, while adding another site in the capital in Camden. Since the year end, bars in Birmingham, Liverpool and Nottingham have launched taking the total number of sites to 31, with 18 in London. The company stated: “We continue to actively seek new locations in cities that culturally match our offering and expect to launch six to seven new bars annually. During the period, group turnover increased by 32% to £29.8m. This was driven by new bars, the full-year effect of our sites that opened in 2014-15 and strong like-for-like performance from the existing estate. Like-for-like sales were ahead 9%, continuing our long history of continuous like-for-like growth since the business was founded 18 years ago. Since the year end, group turnover and like-for-like sales growth have continued to build on a similar trajectory. Store adjusted Ebitda rose 30% to £7.5m. Gross profit margin grew stronger during the year to 72.6% due to systems implemented during the year, and we have continued to focus on this area in the current period, allowing us to continue to defend and further drive outlet Ebitda. Despite the challenging consumer outlook, we are confident Be At One is well placed to continue to perform in line with our expectations – maintaining strong like-for-like sales growth and substantial sales and profit uplifts. We will continue to invest in our people and industry-leading training as we believe it is a fundamental differentiator for the business and the platform for Be At One’s superior guest experience. We will also continue to open bars selectively in cities across UK and, while mindful of the headwinds confronting the wider leisure and hospitality industry, we know we face into these from a position of strength, confident that any pressure on consumer spending is likely to prompt a flight to quality, and a differentiated experience.” Locke added: “We are a business that continues to define and lead the specialist cocktail bar market. We have continued to grow over the past 18 years and are extremely proud that the Be At One experience can now be enjoyed in 14 cities across the UK. While our business has developed and evolved, it has also remained the same since it was founded in 1998 in that we have always been resolutely focused on the things that made our first bar in Battersea Rise so successful – excellent-quality cocktails, with warm, friendly service in a fun atmosphere, delivered by people who care. We remain committed to these values, to building the business one guest at a time, and to making decisions through the eyes of bartenders, with an absolute focus on the quality of our craft and the customer experience. This remains the recipe for our continued, measured growth and we are tremendously excited for the future of the business.”

Greg Dyke’s hotel company reports profit and turnover boost: A collection of Yorkshire hotels owned by former Football Association chairman Greg Dyke has increased profits on the back of a 36% rise in turnover. Saxon Hotels owns three hotels in the Sheffield area –wedding and events venue Whirlowbrook Hall, the Best Western Plus Mosborough Hall Hotel, which is located in a 12th century manor house, and the Best Western Cutler’s Hotel in Sheffield city centre. In the year to 31 March 2016, Saxon made a pre-tax profit of £117,275, up from £21,031, on sales that rose from £2.3m to £3.1m. With future prospects “significantly enhanced” as a result of investment and from increased marketing and promotional activities, Saxon’s directors said they believed the company was “well placed to exploit market opportunities as they arise”. Redevelopment work on the Mosborough hotel, restaurant and function facilities were now assisting in enhancing the revenue capability of the business. Profits are also expected to increase as Whirlowbrook Hall becomes more established and The Cutlers Hotel, which was acquired in 2015, will add to the group’s earnings potential in future years, reports Insider Media. Dyke, who stepped down as FA chairman earlier this year, is a former director-general of the BBC. The entrepreneur, who is also majority owner of Dartmouth Golf and Country Club and Hotel, and chairman of Vine Hotels, leaves the day-to-day operation of Saxon to his management team.

Red Dog Saloon opens Southampton site, first south coast venue: Red Dog Saloon has continued its expansion by opening its first site on the south coast and fifth in total. The 3,506 square foot, 160-cover restaurant is at the £85m WestQuay Watermark leisure and dining hub in Southampton and is part of the company’s target to open 60 sites across the UK. Red Dog Saloon joins more than 20 restaurants at the Hammerson-owned complex, which also features a bowling alley and ten-screen cinema. Family-run Red Dog Saloon offers American barbecue-style dishes, including burgers, wings, ribs and pulled pork, using aromatic hickory wood in its US-imported smokers. Meals are accompanied by US beer and cocktails, 17 sipping tequilas, milkshakes and American classics such as root beer. Owner Tom Brooke said: “We’ve set ourselves the goal of becoming the number one American restaurant brand in the UK and, as part of our ambitious growth plans, Southampton is the perfect location.” Red Dog Saloon launched in 2011 and has three London restaurants – in Soho, Clapham and Hoxton Square. In October it opened its first site outside the capital, in Nottingham, while the company has also secured a site in Liverpool. 

JC Palmer reports turnover and profit boost: Bridport-based brewery and retailer JC Palmer has reported a turnover and profit boost. The company saw turnover increase to £9,535,691 for the year ending 31 March 2016, compared with £9,225,108 the year before. Pre-tax profit was up to £1,363,826, compared with £1,060,125 the previous year. The company stated: “Similarly to last year we have enjoyed another positive year for the company with sales, rents and margins growing in both divisions of the business. Pub refurbishments at the Phelips Arms in Montacute and Red Lion in Beaminster along with several smaller schemes were undertaken during the year. We launched our second cider brand during the year – First Press – and this traditional Dorset Orchards cider has been extremely well received in trade with sales far exceeding expectations. Our seasonal ale programme continues to grow sales and also interest in the craft ale sector.”

Mash Inns sets date for second site launch: Mash Inns, the joint venture between Laine Pub Company and Enterprise Inns’ Managed Investments segment, will open its second site – The Albion in Hove – in the spring. Mash Inns opened its first site – the Ladywell Tavern in Lewisham, south London – last week. The pub in Church Road will take its final orders under landlord Jeff Fisher on New Year’s Eve. Fisher, who is retiring after 36 years in charge, agreed to sell in the summer. Mash Inns will begin refurbishment work in early January ahead of a planned opening at Easter, with staff told they can continue working at the pub if they wish. A Mash Inns spokesman told The Argus: “We want to add a bit more style to the pub. We are looking to invest in it early next year. It will definitely remain a pub. Everything is still on the drawing board at the moment.” Fisher added: “When I walked into The Albion it was basically a London pub and I kept it like that. I have built it up and it has been great for me.” Laine Pub Company operates almost 50 pubs in London and Brighton. The partnership with Enterprise was announced in March.

Bonnie Gull opens second seafood shack, in Soho: British seaside restaurant concept Bonnie Gull has opened its second “seafood shack”, this time in Soho. The company, which opened its flagship site in Fitzrovia five years ago, has opened the venue in Bateman Street. The 23-cover restaurant maintains the principles of its big sister to offer fresh, sustainable seafood in a “buzzy and interactive environment”, with a focus on small plates made for sharing. Executive chef Christian Edwardson has created a hyper-seasonal menu that changes daily based on the fish and shellfish catch delivered. The wine list will also change regularly and champion small producers, while there is a small selection of cocktails, including the signature Bonnie Mary topped with a fresh oyster. There is a no-reservations policy, with anyone waiting for a seat given a discount card for nearby bars and cafes. They are then texted when their seat is available. Alex Hunter and Danny Clancy opened the first Bonnie Gull in Fitzrovia after running a pop-up in Hackney. Their site in Exmouth Market closed earlier this year.

Itsu makes Bristol debut: Itsu, the healthy Asian food chain created by Pret A Manger co-founder Julian Metcalfe, has opened its first site in Bristol. The restaurant is at the Broadmead shopping centre and offers salads, noodle soups, miso soups, sushi and “yoga” pots, as well as puddings. There is also a bar serving soft drinks, wine, beer and prosecco. In keeping with Bristol’s green credentials, Itsu will try to prevent food going to waste by reducing all sushi and salad boxes to half price half an hour before closing. Itsu head of regions Agne Kazberaite told the Bristol Post: “We’re excited to be introducing our ‘eat beautiful’ concept to Bristol as it is vibrant, relaxed and quirky, just like Itsu. Add to that the thriving food scene and desire for healthy, tasty food, and it’s a perfect fit for us.” In August, Itsu reported turnover increased 22% to £82,647,288 for the year ending 31 December 2015, up from £67,869,415 the year before. Ebitda increased 6% to £7,331,883, compared with £6,841,726 the previous year, underpinned by like-for-like sales growth of 2.3%.

MOD Pizza opens Nottingham site, fifth UK venue: Fast-casual artisan pizza brand MOD Pizza has opened a site in Nottingham, its fifth UK venue. The company, which launched in the UK earlier this year, has opened the restaurant in Old Market Square on the site of the former Schuh unit, creating 15 jobs. MOD’s artisan-style pizzas and salads are individually crafted using fresh-pressed dough and signature sauces. Customers create their own pizza, choosing any combination from more than 30 featured toppings. Alternatively, they can choose from a menu of MOD classics. Pizzas are hand-fired in a 300C oven in minutes, while salads are hand-tossed for each customer. The menu is rounded out with soft drinks and hand-spun milkshakes. A MOD Pizza spokeswoman told West Bridgford Wire: “Nottingham has a strong community presence and MOD Pizza believes its vibe attracts their tribe.” MOD Pizza opened a flagship site in London’s Leicester Square last week. Its other UK restaurants are in Leeds, Brighton and Gateshead.

Thai Leisure Group receives ‘royal seal’ of approval: Thai Leisure Group (TLG) has had nine of its restaurants awarded a “Thai Select premium seal”. Launched in 2003, Thai Select certification is a programme by the Royal Thai government aimed at increasing the recognition of Thai restaurants and authentic Thai cuisine around the world. To qualify, companies must have been trading for more than two years. Chefs from the nine nominated TLG sites, which were split across its Thaikhun, Chaophraya and Yee Rah brands, were presented with their awards by the Thai ambassador at a ceremony held in the Thai Embassy, London. TLG operations director Chris Williams said: “We’re not just a Thai restaurant group, we’re a company that lives and breathes Thai culture, customs and cuisine – this achievement means the world to us. To be recognised by the Royal Thai government for the quality of our food across all our brands is testament to the effort, passion and expertise our teams put in every day. We’re continually investing and improving our processes while we scale the business and expect all the restaurants in our estate to achieve the accreditation once they’ve been trading for two years.” Thai Leisure Group is jointly owned by Thai chef Kim Kaewkraikhot and British entrepreneur Martin Stead.

Hawthorn Leisure signs deal with SynergySuite in bid to streamline back office operations in managed estate: Hawthorn Leisure has signed a deal with SynergySuite, the integrated cloud-based hospitality management solutions company, in a bid to streamline its back office operations across its managed pub estate. Hawthorn will use the technology to provide managers and executives with real-time access to workflow tools and business analytics gathered from all locations. SynergySuite will provide Hawthorn with online tools and apps that have breakthrough intelligence and algorithms, adding a more data-driven approach to managing Hawthorn’s back office, from inventory management and controlling supply chain end-to-end, to sales analytics, cash management and payroll integration. The online platform integrates with Hawthorn’s point-of-sale systems to provide instant access to sales and cost information rather than having to wait until the end of the month. Hawthorn Leisure operations director Andrew Parker said: “Being able to instantly understand key business metrics such as sales, margins, labour costs and which tasks have been completed within the sites is extremely important to us. We’ve turned to a company that has the expertise and technology in this area to simplify and improve our back-of-house operations.” SynergySuite chief executive Niall Keane added: “Many of our clients were using multiple software systems to manage different back office functions such as staffing, inventory, and supply chain management. This means data is siloed, limited, and analysis is usually received too late. With a single integrated system like ours, the entire back office is running in the cloud, no Excel, and no unnecessary paper. Data across all functions of back of house are consolidated instantly to support a more profitable operation.”

New micro-brewery and taproom opens in Dover: A new micro-brewery and taproom has opened in Dover, Kent. Phil Lowry and Victor Evans have launched Breakwater Brewery in an abandoned warehouse at St Martin’s Yard in Lorne Road, which was home to the Harding’s Wellington Brewery 100 years ago. As well as the brewery, the space is a large modern taproom that offers house-brewed beers and cask ales from across the UK. The taproom has been styled as a hybrid between contemporary brewery tap rooms found on the west coast of the US and the traditional German brewery tap with large heavy benches and the brewery on show. It also features an array of house-made soft drinks, cider and wine from Kent producers and water direct from its own spring. A spokesman told Kent Live: “All our beers are brewed with our own spring water from the aquifer directly beneath our brewery. Our own cask beers are served on gravity, made with the best British malts we can get, the best hops from near and far and using yeasts from our own collection. Plus, we’ll have up to 11 ‘draft’ beers, a mix of ours and beers from friends near and far.”

Liquid nitrogen ice cream parlour Four Winters opens second UK site, in Soho: Jordan-based liquid nitrogen ice-cream parlour Four Winters has opened its second UK venue, in Soho. The company has opened the site in Brewer Street having arrived in London in Gloucester Road earlier this year, reports Hot Dinners. The concept harnesses the power of liquid nitrogen, with ice cream flash-frozen on-site for customers. The menu covers a broad spectrum, from classics such as vanilla, chocolate and coconut to seasonally inspired flavours such as mince pie, The Bee’s Knees – made with honey and homemade spicy honey brittle – and Afternoon Tea, which is inspired by London and features bite-size chunks of scone and strawberry jam. Four Winters has two sites in Jordan – in Abdoun and The Boulevard in Abdali.

New gourmet burger bar concept opens in Anglesey: A new gourmet burger bar concept has opened in Anglesey. Joe Hughes has launched Tom’s Hamburger House in High Street. The venue, which is named after Hughes’ five-year-old son, seats 16 people at a time. Hughes told the Daily Post: “It’s small but it’s a really nice little place. I have been a head chef in Neptune Bistro, Beaumaris, for the past four years but now I’ve decided to give it a go on my own.”

New World Trading Company passes 100,000-pint tank beer milestone at Manchester site: Graphite Capital-backed pub restaurant group The New World Trading Company has passed the 100,000-pint milestone for sales of Budweiser Budvar Tankové Pivo tank beer at its Manchester venue The Oast House. The Spinningfields venue has been serving tank beer since May and was the first Budweiser Budvar Tankové Pivo site outside London. The installation has been key to Manchester becoming the world’s biggest-selling city of tank beer, ahead of London, New York and Tokyo. The tanks ensure drinkers taste the freshest, unpasteurised Budweiser Budvar beer outside the Czech Republic. The New World Trading Company chief executive Chris Hill said: “We pride ourselves on offering the best of world beers and ales so we are thrilled to have reached such an important milestone as well as continuing to help Manchester remain the world’s capital for tank beer.” Budweiser Budvar UK managing director Simon George added: “We have had an overwhelming reaction so far to Budweiser Budvar Tankové Pivo.”

Vianet launches iDraught app: Beer quality and insights expert Vianet has launched an app for its iDraught beer quality management system. The iDraught app drives “measurable improvements to operators’ revenue and profit by delivering insights on consumers’ draught beer experience and spend”. The app has been developed through partnerships with licensed retail sector businesses to deliver insights into key operational areas. The iDraught app, downloadable by smartphone or tablet, identifies specific site-level insight such as beer wastage, underlying quality issues, and when an incorrect amount of money is being taken for drinks served. Vianet managing director Steven Alton said: “We recognise the importance of keeping things straightforward for licensed operators, with insight they can action to improve performance. The iDraught app allows this insight to be delivered through a simple, on-the-go business tool on your mobile device.”

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