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Mon 2nd Jan 2017 - Update: Operators' food and drink inflation warning, Grand Union December trading, 'McVatican' opens
Operators urged to take urgent action to tackle impact of food and drink inflation: Operators need to get 2017 off to the right start by taking urgent action to tackle the impact of food and drink inflation on their business, buying specialist Lynx Purchasing has warned. It said January would see a wake-up call delivered to many restaurants, pubs and hotels in the form of supplier invoices for products bought during the key trading month of December. Lynx Purchasing managing director Rachel Dobson said: “Most operators had set menus in place for much of December, taking them up to Christmas and through to the new year weekend. With no choice other than to buy the products on the menu, and with trading brisk and money in the till, some may not have been looking too closely at the prices they were paying. They may now find that much of the profit margin they were forecasting from December sales has been eroded by lower gross profits. That will be a sobering thought for many operators as they face the prospect of the quiet trading months of January and February and the expectation that food and drink inflation will continue to rise steadily throughout 2017. We know that a number of suppliers had to raise prices on key products during December – for example, dairy, and especially butter, has seen sharp price rises, and products imported from Europe have cost more as a consequence of the fall in the value of sterling. We’ve been able to negotiate on behalf of our customers to mitigate the impact, but many operators without access to specialist purchasing support will have seen significant increases in their buying costs, with more to come. No business will be immune to the effects of inflation, but our priorities are to negotiate the best possible prices with suppliers for our customers; to put pricing agreements in place that allow operators to plan menus with confidence; and to continue to share our insight into pricing and market trends. It is now more essential than ever for operators to plan their menus effectively, price their dishes profitably, and work closely with suppliers to maintain purchasing discipline. Those who fail to act now could well find themselves struggling very soon.” 

Grand Union reports December like-for-likes up 2.2%: Grand Union, the London-based bar operator led by Adam Marshall, has reported another year of improved December trading with like-for-like sales up 2.2% across the estate. Finance director John Byrne said: “We are pleased to see another year of growth across the Christmas period. We have continued to deliver the events and parties that Grand Union is known for. Pre-booked events over the month showed a good increase over the prior year driven by our advance sales and marketing activity.”

McDonald’s opens restaurant in the Vatican: McDonald’s has opened a restaurant in the Vatican, despite protests from locals and top clerics. The Holy See has rented the ground floor space of a building just metres from St Peter’s Square to McDonald’s. The opening of the restaurant – dubbed “McVatican” – was low-key, mainly due to the opposition it’s facing. McDonald’s made no announcement, and the opening wasn’t noted in the official Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano. “McVatican” is open from 6.30am to 11pm daily, and Wi-Fi is available. According to La Repubblica newspaper, the Vatican is to receive a monthly rent of €30,000 for the 538 square metre space. It’s not only the perceived commercial infringement on the spiritual area that doesn’t sit well with critics. Cardinals living above the restaurant are also disgruntled, saying that they were not consulted about the new venue. The Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See, which controls the Vatican’s real estate, said it did not understand the commotion.

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