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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Wed 18th Jan 2017 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Brits prioritise leisure spending on eating and drinking out in December, pubs now favourite evening dining destination: British households prioritised their leisure spending on eating and drinking out in December as spend in those areas increased 2% year-on-year while total leisure spend dropped 7%, according to the latest Greene King Leisure Tracker. The report also revealed pubs are now the nation’s favourite destination for eating out in the evening ahead of restaurants and fast food outlets. The average British household spent £205.23 in out-of-home leisure activities, a £15 (7%) decrease on the previous year and no change against November. Meanwhile, eating and drinking out spend saw month-on-month increases of 5% and 8% respectively, with both areas remaining robust as consumers showed where their leisure spending priorities lie. In contrast, other leisure, which includes cinema and gym memberships, fell sharply in December, down 20% year-on-year, continuing the downward spiral pattern seen throughout 2016. While this shift in consumer spending on other leisure had been evident in the preceding months, a number of factors contributed to the sharp decline in December. Star War’s spin-off movie Rogue One was unable to match the huge box-office success of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in December 2015, while spending on live sports and other events declined during the period as the holidays fell on a weekend rather than on a weekday as in previous years. Year-on-year, eating out has increased its share of spend mix by 3% to 42%, with drinking out up 2% to 24%. It was the 13th consecutive month where drinking out had a share of 22% or greater. The report also revealed the pub is now a more popular destination for eating out than restaurants and fast food outlets. A total of 37% of respondents said they visit pubs most regularly when eating out in the evening, slightly ahead of restaurants with 35% but well ahead of fast food outlets, which were favoured by 12% of those surveyed. British adults are also more likely to visit a wider range of places when it comes to eating and drinking out than two years ago, the report showed. Greene King digital and insights director Kenny Skelton said: “The Christmas period is a clear demonstration of consumer priorities as British households increase spending on eating and drinking out at the expense of other leisure. These are increasingly ‘protected’ areas of spend, with people unwilling to cut back on what they now consider essential leisure spending. Meanwhile, the figures show the great British pub continues to be an important venue for many British households, not only as a place for socialising but as a preferred destination for eating out. This has been helped by an industry-wide focus on improving the dining experience for customers – one that will stand it in good stead moving forward into 2017.”

Industry News:

Propel Multi Club Conference open for bookings, Street Dots co-founder to present: The first Propel Multi Club Conference of 2017 is now open for bookings. Atholl Milton, co-founder of Street Dots, will talk about the company’s development of a unique street food business model, the size and quality of the market, connecting and developing high-quality street food traders, and the way he sees street food developing in the future. The full-day conference takes place on Thursday, 9 March at the Millennium Gloucester Hotel, London. Multi-site operators of pubs, restaurants and foodservice outlets can book up to two free places. Email Anne Steele on to book a place.

Propel and The Tasting Quarter launch Wine Study Tour: Propel is launching The Wine Study Tour on Thursday, 23 February. The full-day tour, led by The Tasting Quarter founder Pip Martin, will visit some of central London’s leading wine destinations, offer delegates the chance to find out the key trends in wine in 2017, and learn from some of the best blind wine tasters in the country. Martin is a former manager of Harrods wine department and has hosted tastings and tours nationally and internationally for group sizes of ten to 500 guests. The tour starts at Bumpkin in South Kensington, the British brasserie micro-chain from the team behind Boujis. It then heads to London Cru, the Roberson Wines-owned venue in Fulham, where delegates will learn the basics of winemaking and receive a guided tasting of some of the company’s latest releases. The next stop is Jereboams in Belgravia, one of London’s leading wine merchants with five specialist wine shops in central London, where Michael Robins, business development director of Laytons (the wholesale arm of Jereboams) will share his experiences in the trade. The tour will then head to D&D London venue Sartoria in Mayfair, where delegates will meet head sommelier Michael Simms, one of London’s most experienced sommeliers. Following lunch, wine expert Joe Wadsack will join delegates. Considered by many as one of the best blind wine tasters in the country, Wadsack became the new wine expert on BBC2’s Food and Drink in 2015. The final stop will be British steak restaurant Hawksmoor in Knightsbridge. Hawksmoor is considered one of the best bring-your-own restaurants in London and the day will finish in style with a tasting from the Knightsbridge restaurant’s team. The day includes breakfast, lunch and travel between venues by coach. Tickets are £345 plus VAT for Propel Premium members and £395 plus VAT for non-members. Email to book or for more details.

Town centre coffee shops and restaurants on the march as pubs decline – BBC report: The number of town centre coffee shops and restaurants has risen sharply during the past five years while the number of pubs has fallen, according to Local Data Company figures analysed by the BBC. The number of coffee shops, cafes, quick-service outlets and restaurants increased by 6,000 sites in town centres across England, Scotland and Wales between 2011 and 2016, compared with a decrease of 2,000 bars, pubs and nightclubs during the same period. However, there are still fewer coffee shops than pubs in our town centres and the great British pub remains the most popular leisure venue in the UK, making up 16% of town centre leisure venues. West Midlands, Yorkshire, the Humber, and Wales were the areas with the highest growth in leisure businesses, while Greater London was the only area that showed a downturn (-0.3%). The figures, which do not include Northern Ireland, showed growth in cake shops (51%), juice bars and speciality restaurants (46%) and coffee shops (31%). Comedy clubs (-33%), snooker halls (-34%), internet cafes (-41%) and bingo halls (-22%) saw some of the biggest falls. The north east had the largest growth in restaurants (18%), while London had the greatest drop in bars, pubs and clubs (-14%). Cafes and tea rooms are the most popular types of leisure business in London, accounting for 20% of the total. Indian, Italian and Chinese are the most popular restaurants in England but there are regional quirks – in Leeds there has been a rise in Spanish restaurants, while American diners are proving popular in Bristol. Prof Jonathan Morris, of the University of Hertfordshire, said longer commutes and working days were one reason for the rise in popularity of coffee shops. He told BBC News: “People socialise during the day or after work rather than evenings now. Places like snooker and bingo halls take a bigger chunk of time, while meeting for coffee doesn’t take long. To halt the decline, pubs need to develop their daytime offer.” Local Data Company is a data creator that employs people to physically visit every town centre.

Social platform that helps nightclubs and bars fill their venues hits £100,000 crowdfunding target: Licklist, a social platform that helps nightclubs and bars fill their venue, has hit its £100,000 target on crowdfunding platform Seedrs to expand its operation. The company, co-founded by Brad Nobbs and Ian Hope, is offering a 7.58% equity stake in return for the investment. So far, it has raised £102,538 from 74 investors and is now “overfunding”. The largest investment to date is £31,000. The pitch states: “Licklist is a pioneering social platform integrated with an international directory of nightclubs, bars and music festivals. We solve a two-fold problem. For 18 to 30-year-olds we provide a 360-degree solution to organising the perfect night out. For nightclubs and bars we provide innovative tools to fill a venue both cost-effectively and efficiently. With the funding in place we will assemble a sales team spearheaded by former Time Out chief commercial officer Kimberley O’Hara. The funds will allow us to build a sales operation that introduces venues not only in the UK but in Europe to the Licklist solution. We align ourselves with the likes of TripAdvisor, which dominates the market for hotel reviews, and Just Eat, which does the same for takeaway restaurants. We’re looking to do the same and dominate the market for nightlife and establish Licklist as the only brand people want to be associated with.”

Drinking coffee and tea reduces risk of heart disease and inflammation, new research shows: Drinking coffee and tea may help people to live longer by reducing chemicals in the blood that can trigger heart disease, new research has revealed. It found caffeine, the ingredient that gives coffee, tea and some fizzy drinks a lift, blocks chemicals in the blood that promote inflammation. Inflamed blood vessels are more likely to become stiffer – a risk factor for heart disease. The Stanford University tests showed people with fewer of the chemicals linked to inflammation were found to have more caffeine in their bloodstream. Further investigation revealed they, as would have been expected, drank more coffee than their peers. A chemical found in chocolate, theobromine, was also found to have an anti-inflammatory effect, although not as pronounced as caffeine. David Furman, of the Stanford University’s Institute for Immunity, Transplantation and Infection, told the Daily Mail: “More than 90% of all non-communicable diseases of ageing are associated with chronic inflammation. It’s also well known that caffeine intake is associated with longevity. Many studies have shown this association. We’ve found a possible reason for why this may be so.” His colleague Mark Davis added: “Our findings show that an underlying inflammatory process, which is associated with ageing, is not only driving cardiovascular disease but is, in turn, driven by molecular events that we may be able to target and combat.” The authors found that an ongoing study, which followed participants aged 20 to 30 and another group of people aged 60, found those who “tended to drink more caffeinated beverages” had lower levels of inflammatory compounds in their blood.

Company News:

Polpo reports pre-tax profit passes £1m mark, expansion focused outside London: London-based restaurant company Polpo has reported pre-tax profit has passed the £1m mark following a boost in turnover. The company saw turnover increase to £13,392,318 for the year ending 31 March 2016, compared with £11,534,824 the year before. Pre-tax profit was up to £1,043,879, compared with £881,443 the previous year. The company stated: “During the year the group continued its growth strategy, including opening two concession sites and the first site outside London. While the concession sites did not meet expectations and have subsequently been closed, the group expects further growth to continue during the current year. Group profit for the year before taxation was £1,043,879 (2015: £881,443). The group growth strategy is largely focused outside London and an experienced team is in place to locate appropriate sites in target locations.”

Boojum to add two more Belfast sites: Ireland-based Mexican brand Boojum is opening two new restaurants in Belfast as it expands its reach across the city. The company is adding a new store in Lisburn Road, close to Marks & Spencer. Plans have been submitted for the new store in Lisburn Road, taking a unit beside the retail development housing Marks & Spencer Foodhall. It’s combining two separate units, one of which was formerly home to an estate agency. It is believed talks are still under way to secure its new restaurant site at Victoria Square. Belfast Telegraph food critic Joris Minne said: “Boojum is a wonderful phenomenon. When John Blisard first introduced the concept to Belfast, people had little or no clue as to what a burrito was. Now, Boojum has achieved what is often considered miraculous by marketing people – becoming a generic term. In our family we talk about having a Boojum for dinner.” Owners, brothers David and Andrew Maxwell, opened their latest Boojum restaurant in Belfast city centre last summer. The brothers say there are several more stores in the pipeline. They took over Boojum, which was first set up as a unit in Belfast’s Botanic Avenue by founder John Blisard, two years ago. In the Republic, Boojum currently has three restaurants in Dublin and another one in Galway. They are also due to open a new restaurant in Cork, creating about 30 jobs.

Glasgow-based brewer West lines up £1m Edinburgh venue: Glasgow-based brewer West is lining up a £1m venue in Edinburgh. Owner Petra Wetzel has revealed plans for a bar, restaurant, theatre and micro-brewery in Market Street next to Waverley station. Wetzel will lodge an application with City of Edinburgh Council in the next fortnight and hopes to open the venue in 2018, reports Herald Scotland. The 20,000 square foot site has lain empty for many years after being formerly used as storage by the train station. Wetzel aims to give people a taste of what the venue will offer by opening a pop-up version in the building during the Edinburgh Festival in August. The move into Edinburgh comes after Wetzel has invested more than £4m in the past two years to develop the West business. Production started at West’s new brewery in Glasgow’s former Templeton’s Carpet Factory in November. It has a capacity of 35,000 hectolitres, eight times the magnitude of the site’s original micro-brewery. The company recently completed work on a £500,000 events space, West Courtyard, in Glasgow Green. The space overlooks the brewery and is used for corporate functions and weddings. The changes at Glasgow Green follow the launch of West On The Corner, a bar and restaurant in the city’s west end.

Jason Atherton’s The Social Company to launch first Italian restaurant next month: Jason Atherton’s The Social Company will launch its first Italian Restaurant – Hai Cenato – in the Nova development in Victoria next month. Hai Cenato, which means “have you had dinner?” in Italian, will open on Tuesday, 7 February and is the second collaboration between The Social Company and Paul Hood, who is also chef patron of Michelin-starred Social Eating House. The venue will be set across two floors, a 60-cover restaurant on the ground floor offering New York-Italian cuisine and a first floor 70-cover cocktail bar – The Drunken Oyster– serving classic Italian cocktails and a selection of sparkling “taptails”. The interior has been inspired by traditional Italian family restaurants, with vintage light fixtures and deep blood-red snakeskin banquettes. Layers of wallpaper, peeled to reveal an imagined history, endow the space with a sense of heritage, with the pizza ovens located at the centre and forming the focal point, where customers at the counter can watch chefs cook the pizzas. The menu will also span small plates, pasta and risotto dishes, while the restaurant will house a deli offering a selection of breakfast and lunch dishes available to take away throughout the day. The Drunken Oyster is being designed to echo a vintage railway carriage in a nod to the site’s location next to Victoria station. Atherton said: “I’m really excited to be collaborating with Paul on another restaurant, he’s an incredible chef who I’m sure will repeat the success he’s had at Social Eating House in Victoria. We’ve taken some research trips to New York together and were really inspired by the amazing quality yet super casual, buzzy atmosphere of the Italian restaurants out there – that’s what we are trying to recreate in Hai Cenato.”

Staycity to open Liverpool city centre aparthotel: Dublin-based aparthotel operator Staycity is set to open a 202-bedroom aparthotel in Liverpool city centre after signing a 35-year lease. A £16m loan from OakNorth Bank will allow The Mason Family, which owns the Corn Exchange building that houses the headquarters of its commercial property consultancy Mason Partners, to convert the building. Mason Partners director Andrew Mason told the Liverpool Echo: “This will be the largest aparthotel development in Liverpool. Last year, the sector experienced a new average high in the city, with occupancy levels averaging 78% over the course of the year, reaching a peak of 90% in Q3.” In December, Staycity appointed Simon Walford as UK development director, with the company keen to acquire leasehold properties in London, Edinburgh, Bristol, Glasgow, Cambridge, Oxford, Manchester, York, Birmingham and Leeds. Staycity has more than 3,000 apartments across eight major European cities, including another Liverpool site, in Duke Street.

Dirty Bones and Pho confirmed for £440m Westgate Oxford development: US comfort food restaurant Dirty Bones and Vietnamese street food restaurant group Pho have both signed for the £440m Westgate Oxford development. Dirty Bones’ new venue will be the brand’s first outside London and its first within a shopping scheme. The new food operators were secured through agents Davis Coffer Lyons. The 800,000 square foot (74,300 square metre) shopping and leisure destination is now almost 70% pre-let and is set to open in October. Dirty Bones and Pho will join Japanese restaurant brand Sticks n Sushi; Comptoir Libanais, owned by Levant Restaurants Group; Belgian restaurant and boulangerie brand Le Pain Quotidien; and Shoryu Ramen, which specialises in Kyushu cuisine from the southernmost of Japan’s main islands, among others. Westgate Oxford is being developed by the Westgate Oxford Alliance, a joint venture between Land Securities and The Crown Estate. Located in the city centre, investment in Westgate Oxford has seen the west end of the city undergo a transformation that will result in more than 100 new stores, 25 restaurants and cafes, a boutique Curzon cinema, and new public spaces. Pho founder Stephen Wall said: “The site is well-designed, inviting and in an unbeatable location. We’re looking forward to bringing our fresh and tasty food to what looks set to be the most exciting new addition to one of the UK’s most visited cities this year.”

Robinsons expands craft bottled beer range as supermarket sales climb: North west brewer and retailer Robinsons is expanding its craft bottled beer range in supermarkets having reported like-for-like growth of 18% in the off-trade. The company has created two new beers – Beardo (a 6% ABV full-bodied golden IPA) and Mojo (a 5.5% ABV tropical straw-coloured pale ale). It has already received listings from “several key supermarkets” with Morrisons, the Co-Op, Asda, and Bargain Booze all committed to stocking the beers in more than 1,300 stores across the UK. Robinsons director of sales Ben Robinson said: “The continued growth of our off-trade division is representative of the rise in popularity of craft beer in the UK, which is now worth £420m. This demand is helping Robinsons to branch out into new markets and share our brewing passion with the next generation of craft beer drinkers around the UK, and indeed the world.”

Lucky Voice launches in Dubai: Karaoke company Lucky Voice has expanded into the Middle East, launching a Dubai franchise. It marks the fifth franchise for the Lucky Voice brand, and is part of a long-term growth strategy for the company. The Dubai site is run by appointed managing director Richard Drake, a British expat who has been working in the Middle East since he was head-hunted to bring the Jamie’s Italian restaurant chain to the UAE in 2010. The objective is that the franchise will follow in the footsteps of the Novus Leisure partnership. The bar and nightclub operator offers replicas of the Lucky Voice private singing pods and cocktail bars at its Tiger Tiger branded bars across the UK. While karaoke will be key for Dubai, the food and beverage offering is an equal focus. The combination of a large food and beverage-led bar with private karaoke rooms will be the first of its kind on the market. The 11,000 square foot venue will cater for the high-spending expat demographic, used to multi-faceted venues offering restaurants, clubs and entertainment under one roof. Meanwhile, the company is searching for a location in east London, having spent more than a year developing its software franchise and digital offering. This includes the addition of songs in Russian and Arabic to the Spanish, French and Italian tunes already on offer. Head of business-to-business solutions Nick Jones said: “We see Dubai as a natural territory to expand into, with an amazing late-night leisure scene as well as an incredibly high service standard that fits with the Lucky Voice ethos. This is something we also plan to emulate in the UK, especially with the growing demand for ‘one-stop shops’ allowing consumers to dine, drink and be entertained in one place. We’re constantly striving to offer an even better service, which is why we’re proud to be the first to add a multi-language offering to our customers.”

Leelex to start expansion of Basque bar concept Pintura with second site, in Manchester: Restaurant and bar company Leelex, co-founded by Ged Feltham, is set to start expansion of its Basque pintxo bar concept Pintura by opening a second site, this time in Manchester. The restaurant is set to open inside the new Manchester Hall development taking over the Freemason’s Hall in Bridge Street, the Manchester Evening News reports. Leelex originally planned to open a second site for its Mexican brand Cielo Blanco in the three-storey unit, which is currently occupied by pop-up bar The Garage. Launched inside the Trinity Leeds shopping centre in 2015, Pintura is inspired by pintxo bars in cities such as San Sebastian and Bilbao, with a menu featuring bite-size bar snacks from the Basque country as well as larger Spanish tapas dishes. The Leeds venue also features a basement gin bar. Pintura will be joined inside Manchester Hall by three other restaurants and a bar, a nine-room boutique hotel in the basement, and conference and wedding facilities on the second floor. Leelex, which also operates Leeds bars Jake’s and Oporto as well as the Portobello Star gin bar and distillery in London, said the Manchester launch would not take place until at least next year. Last month, the company opened “gin hotel” The Distillery in Portobello Road in London – a 5,970 square foot venue consisting of four separate elements split over four floors.

New World Trading Company settles into new headquarters: Graphite Capital-backed pub restaurant group The New World Trading Company has settled into its new headquarters in Knutsford, Cheshire. Now an independent business, the head office has moved to a separate site from Living Ventures. The New World Trading Company operates 16 pubs under five sub brands – The Botanist, The Oast House, Smugglers Cove, The Trading House and The Club House – with further openings planned for the next six months. Chief executive Chris Hill said: “No matter where the head office is based it’s hugely important that as we grow at a steady pace across the country we continue to stay agile and have a presence across all our sites. We take great pride in all of our pubs being part of the local community and we want to make sure our head office team do what they can to support this.”

Soho House to open 252-bedroom London hotel with nine restaurants in April: Soho House will open a 252-bedroom hotel with nine restaurants and bars in the City of London in April. The Ned hotel, a joint venture between Soho House and US hotel owner Sydell group, is set to launch at 27 Poultry, a grade I-listed building close to the Bank of England, reports The Handbook. Seven restaurants will be in the Ned’s former banking hall, including American cafe Penny, Millie’s Lounge serving British and American classics, Parisian outlet Café Sou, the Grill Room offering traditional trolley service, Soho House Italian brand Cecconi’s, Japanese grill Penny Yen, and New York-style deli Zobler’s. Total capacity for the restaurants will be 1,400 covers. Rooftop venue Ned’s Club will feature a swimming pool, while Canopy Bar & Restaurant and the Vault Room lounge bar will be housed in the basement. Soho House was founded by Nick Jones in 1995 in Greek Street in Soho. It has since expanded to have “houses” around the world.

Top chefs combine for new Borough Market restaurant that uses only ingredients sold by traders: A new restaurant has opened in Borough Market using only ingredients supplied by its own traders. Borough Plates’ menu will change weekly and be prepared by a rota of chefs who have worked at venues that include Gordon Ramsay’s Maze. The all-day restaurant features pictures of market traders on its walls, with produce vetted by a panel of Michelin-starred chefs. The kitchen team is led by Paul Hannagen, of London-based Cuisson, which specialises in bespoke and pop-up gastronomic experiences. He said: “From a chef’s point of view this is the dream. We will create dishes with ingredients traders give us each week. Whatever they say is the best quality that day, we’ll use.” The venue is a partnership between Cuisson and Borough Market Charitable Trust and will initially run for two months, opening Tuesdays to Sundays from midday to 10pm. The idea is for people to try the menu, buy the produce in the market and recreate dishes at home.

Hotcha continues expansion with 13th site, in Newbury: Hotcha, the Chinese takeaway franchise, has continued its expansion in the south of England by opening a site in Newbury, Berkshire. The company, founded in 2011 by James Liang and Andy Chan, has opened the outlet in a new development complex in London Road – its 13th to date. The store, which employs a 15-strong team, has seating for up to ten customers. To standardise product quality, all core ingredients, including meat, fish, marinades and sauces, are prepared by Hotcha’s central production facility before being sent to stores where they are used to prepare dishes in line with Hotcha’s house recipes and presentation styles. Liang said: “Our ambition is to become the first national Chinese takeaway chain in the UK and opening our 13th store in Newbury is a natural step as we continue our rapid growth from our beginnings in Bristol five years ago. Following our recent £7.5m funding round, we are well positioned to deliver our pipeline of a further 20 store openings across the UK in 2017.”

Cantonese canteen concept Duck Duck Goose launches in Pop Brixton: Cantonese canteen concept Duck Duck Goose has launched in Pop Brixton, Lambeth Council’s space dedicated to startup businesses. The concept takes inspiration from the barbecue and roasted meat shops of Hong Kong and is led by former Le Cafe Anglais chef Oli Brown. The short menu includes five Cantonese dishes, including roast pork, duck and goose, all served with pickles, plum sauce and mustard. There are also two steamed fish dishes, three wok dishes and three fried dishes. The dessert list consists of Cha Chaan Teng French Toast served with condensed milk and soy ice cream, mango sago, and two sorbets. The company’s website states: “Duck Duck Goose is informal, affordable and buzzy. The utilitarian decor is a contemporary take on these cafes, with Formica booths, pegboard and vinyl terrazzo tiles. The menu is divided into the classic Cantonese cooking techniques with barbecue roast meat, steamed whole fish and a prawn toast to end all others.”

BrewDog and Social Bite’s clean water craft label Brewgooder gains funding to make market inroads: Brewgooder, the world’s first clean water craft label, launched by Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog and fellow Scots entrepreneurs Social Bite, has secured a new funding package. Brewgooder donates 100% of its profits to clean water projects and the £70,000 from entrepreneurial package fund Scottish Edge will help it make “major inroads in the on and off-trade markets”. The project recently signed a nationwide on-trade distribution deal with supplier Matthew Clark and signed a major deal with Asda in October to list the product in 230 stores. Since its launch in March 2016, Brewgooder has turned over £200,000 and dug two wells in Malawi. Brewgooder is also recruiting for an “on-trade well digger”, who will be responsible for growing distribution in the independent on-trade in Scotland. Brewgooder co-founder Alan Mahon said: “The on-trade market presents a huge opportunity for us. The craft beer industry is on the up and giving people the opportunity to enjoy a great-tasting product while helping others is a powerful combination.” In April, Brewgooder passed its £50,000 target on crowdfunding platform Indiego in three weeks, funding the production of its first 200,000 cans.

New Chester JD Wetherspoon venue to tell Ricky Tomlinson’s pre-fame story: JD Wetherspoon’s new hotel and bar in Chester will feature a display about TV star Ricky Tomlinson and his life before he became famous. Tomlinson met his late friend Des Warren in 1972 at the venue when it was The Bull and Stirrup Hotel and hosted a strike committee in an upstairs room. Tomlinson, who at the time was a plasterer, and Warren were imprisoned the following year for their role in the first national building workers’ strike. The pair were among 24 flying pickets involved in action at Shrewsbury, who were jailed under the obscure 1875 Conspiracy Act and became known as the “Shrewsbury Two” as they received the longest sentences. Warren died in 2004 but Tomlinson is still campaigning to clear their names, arguing they were political prisoners. JD Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon told The Chester Chronicle: “We always reflect the history of the building with information displays in our pubs. We are pleased to feature information about the famous event in the new-look pub.” JD Wetherspoon began work on the city centre hotel and bar in October following a two-year delay. It is due to open next month after a £2.3m investment.

Fallen Brewing doubles capacity as it installs canning line and moves entire beer range to cans: Fallen Brewing has become one of the first craft breweries in Scotland to install a canning line and move its entire beer range into cans. The company has invested in an American Beer Equipment canning line called the Craft Can 15, which has an output rate of 900 cans per hour, and has also constructed a new building and installed new tanks to double capacity. Managing director Paul Fallen said: “We decided to invest in our own canning line as we believe that having control of the entire production process gives us the best chance of producing great beers. It’s a massive step-change in the way we work. We’ve been expanding rapidly since we started production in 2014 but we had reached a critical mass due to our laborious work processes. Half our revenue was through bottle sales but the production was a highly labour-intensive and time-consuming process. We really needed to automate our small-pack production to continue to grow. We believe a good proportion of growth is going to come from small-pack cans. Keg and cask is growing too, but not at the same rate. So, we weighed up the benefits of can versus bottle, it was a big decision and a huge investment. There will always be a place for bottles in the market place but for us the practicalities of cans as vessels for holding and transporting beer made them the obvious choice.”

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