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Mon 13th Feb 2017 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Best and worst areas for pub food hygiene revealed in new study: The best pubs, bars and clubs in the UK for food hygiene are in the council area of Lisburn and Castlereagh City in Northern Ireland, a new study has revealed. The study – carried out by LoveMyVouchers.co.uk – showed 100% of the area’s pubs, bars and clubs rated “good” or “very good”. With more than seven times as many applicable businesses, Middlesbrough followed closely behind on 99.1% while Newry, Mourne and Down ranked third on 98.4%. Other council areas in the top ten included Hartlepool, North Devon, Stevenage, Denbighshire in Wales, and Thanet. The Food Standards Agency website holds the data from inspections carried out by each local authority under the food hygiene ratings scheme. Every business that serves food is awarded with a hygiene rating between zero (urgent improvement necessary) and five (very good) following an inspection. Out of a total of 356 council areas in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the area with the highest percentage of pubs, bars and clubs with poor ratings was Newham in London, with 19.2% rated zero, one or two. Four London boroughs were in the top ten list of the worst ranking council districts, with Havering ranked third on 18.7%, Islington fourth on 18.5%, and Westminster ninth on 13.8%. Outside London, Epsom and Ewell, Vale of Glamorgan and South Buckinghamshire had the highest percentage of pubs, bars and clubs with low food hygiene scores. Linda Firth, a director at LoveMyVouchers.co.uk, said: “The study aimed to raise awareness about the ratings. There is nothing better than a good pub lunch, but as budgets tighten, food hygiene standards could become increasingly important for diners choosing where to spend their money.” Premises that serve food in Wales and Northern Ireland are now obliged to clearly display the rating they receive, with England to follow suit from 2019. Scotland has a different rating system to the rest of the UK and is therefore the subject of a separate study.
 

Industry News:

Advanced Social Media Masterclass opens for bookings: Propel is partnering with digital marketing company Digital Blonde for the second Advanced Social Media Masterclass, which will feature all-new content. The event, now open for bookings, takes place on Friday, 7 April at One Moorgate Place in London and will provide a comprehensive overview of how to make the best use of social media. Digital Blonde founder Karen Fewell will share the latest insights, including a look at the role of artificial intelligence and social media as well as the psychology of marketing to give a deeper understanding of consumer behaviour. The day will also include advice on how to build effective social media campaigns as well as using the power of PR to boost social media success and working together to get audiences engaged and involved. There will also be sessions on the best way to work with social media influencers to boost your business, using analytics to help form strategies, amplifying your message through advertising, using social media to attract families, and recruiting and retaining talent. Tickets are £295 for Propel Premium members and £345 for non-members and can be booked by emailing anne.steele@propelinfo.com

Spending in restaurants, bars and hotels increases in January despite consumer spend slowing to five-month low: Spending in restaurants, bars and hotels increased in January compared with last year despite consumer spending growth slowing to a five-month low, according to the latest data from Visa. Consumer spend weakened to +0.4% year-on-year in January, from +2.5% in December. However, restaurants bars and hotels saw spending growth increase 5.7% year-on-year while food and drink remained unchanged. Face-to-face spending declined at its quickest rate in four years (-3.1%), while e-commerce continued to rise, albeit at a slower pace (+4.1%). Four of the eight broad-spending categories – clothing and footwear, household goods, health and education, and transport and communication – saw drops in expenditure. Clothing and footwear saw its biggest fall in spend since April 2012 (-3.8%). Besides the pub, restaurant and hotel category, only recreation and culture (3.1%) and miscellaneous goods and services (0.6%) saw increases in spend compared with the previous year. Visa UK and Ireland managing director Kevin Jenkins said: “Following a bumper Christmas season, there were signs that consumers were starting to reign in their spending at the start of the new year. Annual growth slowed down from 2.5% in December to a five-month low of 0.4% in January, as households monitored rising prices on everyday items and how this would impact disposable incomes. Clothing and household goods retailers experienced a particularly difficult January. The traditional start of year sales did little to lift clothing spend, which saw the biggest drop in nearly five years. The high street as a whole suffered a disappointing month too, with spend falling at the quickest rate in four years. Face-to-face wasn’t all doom and gloom in January though, and winners on the high street did emerge. Brits continued the trend of spending on experiences rather than goods, with a near 6% spending boost in the hotels, restaurants and bars sector and a 3.1% lift in recreation and culture spend.”

Diners prefer to reserve tables on venue’s website rather than third-party booking sites: Almost two-thirds (63%) of diners investigating eating out opportunities visit a pub or restaurant’s own website to make a reservation rather than using a third-party booking site, according to the latest GO Technology report from hospitality management solutions company Zonal Retail Data Systems and CGA Peach. The report, which polled 5,000 adults in Britain, revealed more than half of consumers (60%) check a venue’s website before visiting, with the majority (90%) using it to check the menu. Trust (20%) and ease of use (30%) are key drivers, with respondents wanting to feel confident the reservation has been made directly with the venue to reduce the risk of double booking. Out of the 12% of diners who preferred to use third-party booking sites, 41% said they were driven by “ease of use”, while 15% cited the opportunity to earn loyalty points. Many also said they used them out of habit. The report’s authors said the findings showed it is vital a website is fully optimised and maintained by operators, whether single-site independents or multiples. Olivia FitzGerald, managing director of Zonal’s marketing technologies, said: “A website is a venue’s shop window and the start of the customer journey. If it isn’t easy to navigate or doesn’t contain relevant information such as menus, table availability or dietary options you are in real danger of losing valuable business. Third-party booking apps are popular because they are easy for consumers to find and use, but it does mean outlets handing over valuable margin and data. We are seeing more and more brands coming to us for an unbranded, fixed price option to regain control of their operating costs and consumer insight.” CGA director Jamie Campbell added: “Third-party booking sites present both opportunities and threats to operators but what is clear is consumers expect to be able to book a table online, any time of day. With competition so high across the sector, if a customer is checking out a venue’s menu beforehand it makes sense for operators to capitalise on the opportunity of securing that business by offering a strong booking facility.” 

Norwich and Sheffield ‘twin’ to promote great British beer: In the first “twinning” arrangement of its kind, two of England’s renowned beer cities are joining forces to promote British beer. Organisers of Sheffield Beer Week and Norwich City of Ale are uniting in a bid to stimulate tourism by encouraging people to explore the cities’ pubs and bars and to educate them about its beers. Norwich City of Ale co-founder Phil Cutter will launch the collaboration in Norwich with a National Winter Ales Festival fringe event. He has collected a variety of Sheffield and Yorkshire ales made with Norfolk malt, which will be on offer in Norwich pubs during the week commencing 20 February. A series of joint seminars and tutored tastings are also in the planning stages. Cutter said: “Norfolk grows some of the best barley in the world, much of it malted locally. We’re proud to see it being used in many of Sheffield’s award-winning beers – and this exchange gives us the opportunity to try some of them.” Sheffield Beer Week organiser Jules Gray added: “It’s really exciting to be working with Dawn (Leeder) and Phil of Norwich City of Ale and to have access to all their experience. The aim is to work together to showcase the vibrant beer scenes in our great cities and encourage people from around the country to visit.”
 

Company News:

Bramwell Pub Company’s secured creditor left nearly £13m out of pocket following liquidation: Bramwell Pub Company’s secured creditor has been left nearly £13m out of pocket following its liquidation, new documents have revealed. The Royal Bank of Scotland received £34.70m of the £47.43m it was owed after Bramwell Pub Company was placed into administration in April 2015. Liquidators Anne O’Keefe, Kevin Coates and Peter Saville of AlixPartners said in their final report the bank was paid distributions totalling £33.65m during the preceding administration and a further £1.05m was distributed during the liquidation. Meanwhile, unsecured creditor claims were agreed at £9.69m and funds totalling £367,240 were distributed, which represented a dividend rate of 3.8 pence in the pound. The document, which was filed at Companies House, also showed the one remaining pub lease was assigned with Stonegate Pub Company paying £33,269 of the £66,537 in respect of the settlement of the rent arrears and dilapidations and associated professional costs. Fees of £168,000 have been drawn on account by the liquidators during the liquidation.

Ennismore bids to expand Gleneagles offering with development modelled on Soho Farmhouse: Gleneagles owner Ennismore has submitted plans to expand the Perthshire hotel’s offering by adding a multimillion-pound private members’ club modelled on Soho House’s Soho Farmhouse in Oxfordshire. The proposal would see buildings at Easterton Farm, near Auchterarder, replaced by holiday lodges, a pub, residential plots, a retail development, a reception building and parking. The move follows Ennismore’s purchase of the farm, while the company bought Gleneagles Hotel and its golf resort for about £150m in July 2015. Soho House provides catering for some of Ennismore group’s hotels. Gleneagles has submitted a proposal of application to Perth and Kinross Council and intends to lodge full plans in April or May. Gleneagles Hotel managing director Bernard Murphy said: “This development is an outstanding opportunity to expand Gleneagles’ accommodation and leisure provision – creating an exceptional rural hospitality destination experience. The planned transformation of the site, which represents significant investment by our owner Ennismore to make the most of the stunning natural assets on the Gleneagles estate, will attract guests from the rest of the UK and further afield.”

All Star Lanes undergoes £3.5m refinancing after profits jump 39.5%: Bowling alley business All Star Lanes has undergone a £3.5m refinancing after its profits jumped by 39.5% last year. The company enjoyed a bumper 2016 after reinvesting in locations including its flagship site in Brick Lane, east London. Underlying profits jumped to £1.4m last year from £850,000 the year before. Christmas revenues soared by 13.5% at the company’s sites in London and Manchester. The company has rejigged its debt after securing a £3.5m credit line from HSBC, reports The Sunday Times.
 
The Restaurant Group opens Chiquito restaurant on former Burger King site in Harlow: The Restaurant Group has opened a site for its Tex-Mex brand Chiquito in Harlow, Essex. The company has opened the restaurant at the Queensgate Centre on the site of the former Burger King. The venue has created 30 jobs, reports Essex Live. 

D&D London boss – ‘we’re not slowing down our expansion plans to assess the effect of the Brexit vote’: Des Gunewardena, the chairman and chief executive of restaurant operator D&D London, has said the company will not slow down its expansion plans to assess the effect of the Brexit vote. Gunewardena, who carried a buyout of the business in 2006 with David Loewi from Sir Terence Conran, even argued the result had helped in some ways. He told The Sunday Times: “We took the view that we won’t sit there and wait for the Brexit impact. We came to the conclusion that, yes, there were risks, but not sufficient enough for us to change our strategy.” The company’s expansion plans include two more restaurants in Leeds while Gunewardena has his eye on Edinburgh and Glasgow. He said he expects the company, which has 35 sites, to see sales top £120m in 2017 having hit a record £108m, with earnings of £13m, last year. He was close to taking the company public two years ago, but pulled the listing at the last minute when “the stock market had a downturn”. A float remains an option, although not in the short term. In the meantime, Gunewardena is refurbishing much of the empire. In the past two years, he has relaunched Le Pont de la Tour, Sartoria in Mayfair and 100 Wardour Street, in Soho. He said: “Terence didn’t like the idea of changing the look or design. If something wasn’t working, it was all down to the chef or the manager. We’ve changed that view since we bought the business. What we do is large spaces, glamorous spaces that are busy, buzzy restaurants.” Gunewardena also said the company was going to go British with its latest opening Aster at the Nova development in Victoria but opted for Nordic because it was keen on working with Helena Puolakka, the Scandinavian head chef, who has worked for three Michelin-starred chefs Pierre Gagnaire and Pierre Koffmann. He added: “I think this is a better business than the business we acquired. It’s much more exciting — we’re not perceived as being design-led.”
 
New healthy eating restaurant opens in Altrincham with owners looking to take concept nationwide: A new healthy eating restaurant concept has opened in Altrincham with its owners planning expansion to first Manchester and then nationwide. Rob Lee, Daniel Furness and Lee’s sister Emma have launched Eat:kaizen – named after the Japanese philosophy for continuous improvement – in Stamford New Road on the former site of Yorkshire Bank. It has room inside for 60 diners along with another 16 outside. Rob Lee told Altrincham Today: “We’re a healthy eating restaurant with a big grab-and-go and a retail section, so people will be able to drop in and pick up really healthy things.” Eat:kaizen also offers build-your-own protein boxes, superfood salads, smoothies, juices, healthy breakfasts, vegan and vegetarian options, and a lean full English with chicken sausages and turkey bacon. The trio are already planning to expand the concept. They want to open Eat:kaizen sites in Manchester city centre and at MediaCityUK before rolling the brand out nationwide.
 
Karali Group to launch Sticky Sisters concept in UK with Farnborough opening: Karali Group is to launch its Sticky Sisters concept in the UK by opening a site in Farnborough, Hampshire, this spring. Karali Group has taken a ten-year lease on a 2,600 square foot unit at The Meads shopping centre. The diner will be in the mall leading to Queensmead from the Vue cinema. The concept offers chicken wings as its signature dish, as well as a wide selection of sauces, vegetarian options, desserts, drinks and milkshakes. Karali Group recently advertised for a UK operations manager, to be based in London and the south east, ahead of an expected roll-out of the concept. Sticky Sisters will be part of the £80m redevelopment of the Meads shopping centre by St Modwen. Philip Robins, St Modwen senior development manager, told Get Hampshire: “This is a great addition to our line-up of leading brands in the town centre and the fact Sticky Sisters has chosen The Meads as the location from which to launch its brand is real testament to the potential of the town centre. The addition of a seven-screen Vue cinema and the successful opening of several shops and eateries such as Prezzo is really making a difference and we are talking to other prospective operators for the remaining restaurant units as well as retailers for other opportunities in The Meads.”
 
Domino’s Pizza launches wedding registry service: Domino’s Pizza has launched its own wedding registry service, where couples can ask loved ones for the gift of pizza on their big day. Traditional wedding registries allow people to list the gifts they want so friends and families can buy them traditional presents such as towels and crockery. However, the pizza chain’s new scheme allows engaged couples to pick gift cards such as a “2am Bachelor Party Feast” and the “The Wedding Night” package, and then share the nuptial list with guests. Domino’s told BT.com: “Choosing wedding gifts can be a daunting process, especially if couples can’t agree on what to register for. Our registry aims to bring couples together over their shared love of pizza.”
 
Gino D’Acampo and Individual Restaurants lodge plans for My Restaurant site in Liverpool: Italian chef and television personality Gino D’Acampo is set to open a site of his fast-casual dining concept My Restaurant in Liverpool. D’Acampo, who launched the concept in partnership with Individual Restaurants, has lodged plans for the site in the city centre. He has applied to Liverpool City Council to convert the former HSBC Bank on the corner of Dale Street and Castle Street into a restaurant. There would also be an outdoor seating area, with customers seated on director’s chairs and with white and green blankets. Speaking to the Liverpool Echo last year, D’Acampo said he wanted to open a restaurant in the city in 2017 and was looking “at a few sites”. D’Acampo has three other My Restaurants – in Leeds, London and Manchester. In November, Individual Restaurants founder Steven Walker said the company was making progress on rolling out its partnership with D’Acampo. He added: “The plan is for four additional Gino D’Acampo sites in the 2017 calendar year, with a focus on major UK cities.”
 
Krispy Kreme opens in East Kilbride: Krispy Kreme has opened its latest site, this time in the Centre West shopping centre in East Kilbride, Scotland. Doughnuts will be delivered to the venue from the company’s Hotlight site at Intu Braehead, its largest UK outlet. A long queue built up from 4am for the opening, with the first customer in the line winning a year’s supply of doughnuts. Store manager Arron Hurn told the East Kilbride News: “I am really looking forward to helping spread some Krispy Kreme magic among the people of East Kilbride. Krispy Kreme has been integral to my career progression and I’m looking forward to helping my staff start their journey with the company.” In October, Krispy Kreme UK confirmed the sale of 100% of share capital to Krispy Kreme Group, its US-based brand owner. The company said it would continue its strategy of “delivering profitable growth through the opening of new retail stores and self-serve cabinets across the UK and Republic of Ireland and driving core sales growth across the existing estate”. Krispy Kreme UK operates more than 70 stores across Britain.
 
Numis Securities maintains Greene King forecasts for this year but downgrades 2018 estimates: Numis Securities leisure analyst Tim Barrett has maintained his forecasts for Greene King for this year but downgraded estimates for 2018. Issuing an ‘Add’ note to the shares with a target price of 820p, Barrett said: “Managed like-for-like sales grew by 1.1% for the first 40 weeks, a slight slowdown versus 1.3% in the first half, which implies 0.8% in the latest 16 weeks (since 16 October). We currently assume 0.5% growth for FY18. Management identifies strong Christmas trading (4.5% over three weeks) but this suggests flat trading outside this key period. Note the Peach tracker grew by an average of 0.8% from October to December, although January data has not yet been published for the market. The main weakness at Greene King is in the Fayre & Square brand (circa 100 units) where we estimate a high single digit like-for-like sales decline (1.6% excluding Fayre & Square). In the tenanted business like-for-like net income grew by 3.5% versus 4.2% in the first half, suggesting 2.5% growth in the third quarter. Own brewed volumes fell by 4.2% versus 3.8% in the first half and a 3.8% decline in the cask ale market. As expected, disposal activity has picked up and Greene King sold 59 pubs for £35m in the first half. FY guidance of up to 119 disposals is marginally lower than expected (115 to 135 guidance in the first half). The statement cited ‘continued uncertainty and significant cost pressures’; while our FY17 forecasts are unchanged (managed like-for-likes +0.5%, tenanted +2%) we expect consensus to fall in outer years. We update our FY18 forecasts for cost guidance from the interim results, including wages (£7.5m), business rates (£7m) and reduce our gross margin to reflect Forex pressure (£2m). In addition we increase our interest charge to £137m. This brings our FY18 profit before tax forecast to £277m (-8%), close to consensus of £282.8m. We still expect an additional £5m of Spirit-related synergies in FY18 and 1% like-for-like growth in the managed estate. However, this is insufficient to offset the weight of cost pressures and means we expect group growth to be relatively lacklustre at 1%. Greene King has underperformed the FTSE All-Share Index by 10% over the past three months and now trades on a CY18 price-to-earnings ratio of 9.8 times and EV/Ebitda of 8.8 times, a 10% discount to the pub peer group. The stable free cash flow yield of 9.7% and dividend yield of 4.7% are attractive but in the absence of stronger like-for-like sales momentum risk to earnings remains on the downside.”
 
Urban Standard to open Exeter city centre bar and restaurant, fourth site: Bristol-based independent bar and restaurant company Urban Standard will open its fourth bar and restaurant in the summer, this time in Exeter city centre. The new venue is set to open in July in South Street, replacing the Vintage Store and creating up to 25 jobs. The brand is known for its meaty dishes, while other offerings at the new venue will include dirty beans and baked eggs, buttermilk pancakes and a seafood club sandwich. Urban Standard co-owner Dominic Wood told the Express & Echo: “My business partner Tim Moores has family that lives near Exeter and spends a lot of time there. There are some great independent restaurants in Exeter and we would love to add to that and it just so happened Tim saw this particular site in South Street and we thought it would be perfect.” Wood added there would be no major alterations to the building apart from decoration in line with the Urban Standard sites in Cardiff and the two Bristol branches, which feature rustic and industrial decor. The company also plans to provide a rear seating area at the Cathedral Green entrance.
 
Gourmet Burger Kitchen opens Southport site, 81st restaurant to date: Gourmet Burger Kitchen has opened a site in Southport, Merseyside. The company has opened at the new Ocean Plaza development, creating 20 jobs. It is the company’s 81st site and takes inspiration from its seaside location. The restaurant has a “colourful and fun interior”, with a special hatch on the shopfront allowing customers to grab a milkshake on the go. The open plan space features table and booth seating. Senior marketing manager Laura Pettingale told the Visiter: “Southport will be our first seafront location in the north west and diners will be able to take in views of the Irish Sea while enjoying some Gourmet Burger Kitchen favourites such as the Major Tom or Taxidriver.”
 
Pub and restaurant companies belonging to former Dundee FC owner go into administration: Pub and restaurant companies belonging to former Dundee FC owner Jimmy Marr have gone into administration. Administrators have been called in to take control of Park Properties (Dundee) and Park Investments (Dundee). The firms also control a nursery and yoga studio. Administrators PriceWaterhouseCooper (PwC) have launched a rescue bid and are looking for buyers interested in buying the 16 premises involved. According to documents lodged at Companies House, Jimmy Marr is director of the firms involved. His brother Peter’s directorship of one of the firms was terminated on 7 January. A PwC spokesman told the Scottish Sun: “Following the administration appointment, our Scottish restructuring team has met with the director of the companies and have notified all 16 tenants of our appointment. The tenants continue to operate from the units they occupy. As part of our strategy, we are working with both the director and the tenants to assess the optimal realisation strategy for the properties. Parties who may be interested in purchasing these properties should contact our office.”
 
Hotel and water park planned for Longleat: Plans have been lodged for a 240-bedroom hotel, water park and conference facility at the Longleat estate in Wiltshire. Longleat Enterprises, the commercial arm of the 465-year-old estate, has submitted an application to Wiltshire Council for the project as it aims to enable families to extend their stay. It is hoped the water park will provide an additional all-year-round facility that will enable the business to balance the seasonal nature of the safari and adventure park. The development is expected to cost about £45m and create 300 jobs, reports Insider Media. A planning statement submitted as part of the application said: “The hotel resort will provide new accommodation, business conferencing and leisure facilities of a type and scale that is presently absent in the county, but with the Longleat brand and reputation, will have a profile and opportunity to be a major new tourism asset for Wiltshire.” The estate comprises the grade I-listed stately home, the Capability Brown and Humphry Repton Heritage Park, farms, homes, waterways and woodland. Longleat Enterprises is responsible for the management of two tourist attractions at Cheddar Gorge and Longleat’s Safari Park. The business has committed to spending £3m per year over a ten-year period to support the development of the park.
 
Complex of new bars and restaurants set for Nottingham as part of £22m mixed-use scheme: A complex of new bars and restaurants is set for Nottingham as part of a mixed-use scheme redevelopment. The former headquarters of Rushcliffe Borough Council, Bridgford House, has been sold to Monk Estates and Harpin for £6.9m. The new owners will redevelop the site into a £22m mixed-use scheme including 96 apartments and new bars and restaurants. The site includes two restaurant units occupied by The Southbank Bar and Trattoria Antonio Restaurant, which total 6,015 square feet, a partially tenanted 76,766 square foot eight-storey office building and ten residential apartments. Sam Monk, of Monk Estates, told The Business Desk: “It’s a unique opportunity to create an exceptional high quality mixed-use scheme that will boast stunning panoramic views of the River Trent and the surrounding areas. The redevelopment will involve all of the site but some of the tenants will remain, with the Southbank probably being one of them.”
 
Seren Collection appoints former Gordon Ramsay employee as first head of marketing and communications: Pembrokeshire-based Seren Collection, which operates four restaurants in South Wales, has appointed Hannah Bewhay as its first head of marketing and communications. She will work across the company’s portfolio and brings experience in hospitality marketing, PR and communications, with a specific focus on restaurants having worked with Gordon Ramsay Holdings in London. Bewhay will have responsibility to develop a new creative standard for Seren’s integrated marketing and communications strategy with an aim to deliver “new levels of reach in marketing campaigns across the full range of platforms”, build on the company’s reputation and help grow revenue in support of future ambitions. Seren Collection managing director Neil Kedward said: “There are very few marketing professionals in the sector who get what we do so we are delighted Hannah has joined our management team. She has been working as a consultant to the business for some time and already feels like a key part of the family.” Seren Collection operates boutique hotel Grove of Narberth and restaurants Coast Saundersfoot, Kiosk and Beach House Oxwich. The company also launched a hospitality academy in September.
 
West Kent-based operator to open second pub next month: West Kent-based operator Nick Naismith is to open his second pub next month. Naismith, who runs the Wheatsheaf in Bough Beech, has acquired the lease of the Castle Inn in nearby Chiddingstone. The 15th century pub in the heart of the National Trust-owned village will reopen in mid-March – nearly a year after it shut. The grade II-listed building, which dates to the early 13th century, is now undergoing renovation to restore its heritage charm. The pub will serve Larkins ale, which is brewed in Chiddingstone, as well as a traditional menu with local produce. Naismith told Kent Live: “Living locally, I understand the importance of The Castle Inn to Chiddingstone and I’m glad to have the opportunity to bring it back to life.” Gary Churchill, the National Trust’s estate manager looking after Chiddingstone, added: “We’re delighted to have appointed Nick as the new custodian of The Castle Inn pub. Our first priority has always been to find the right person to care for the historic building, as well as having a successful plan to turn the pub back into a thriving business once again.”
 
Greggs launches its first ‘healthy shop’, in Wolverhampton hospital: Greggs has launched its first “healthy shop”, at New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton. Bosses say the new format is designed to meet NHS England’s targets on food sold in hospitals. The new store layout sees a wider selection of Greggs’ “balanced choice” range of sandwiches, wraps, yogurts and soups. The number of high-fat, sugar and salt products on display at the checkout has been reduced, with cream cakes cut completely. Sausage rolls and doughnuts are still on sale but multi-packs of the items are not. Greggs chief executive Roger Whiteside told the Express & Star: “We have been busy developing a healthier shop format at New Cross Hospital to meet NHS England targets on healthy checkouts, food advertising, and price promotions in hospitals and are proud to have achieved joint second place in a league table compiled by health campaigners, which ranks high-street brands in order of how well they meet these guidelines. With ambitions to grow to more than 2,000 shops nationwide and ownership of our supply chain, we are in a unique position to have a real impact in encouraging people to make healthier food-on-the-go choices with convenient access at outstanding value.” In June last year, Whiteside said Greggs’ healthy food range accounted for 10% of sales and was seeing double-digit growth. In 2015, it was revealed the Wolverhampton hospital site was one of Greggs’ busiest venues in the UK – in the old-style “less healthy” format.
 
Mexican street food trader to open permanent restaurant in Worthing: Mexican street food trader Salsa Viva is to open a permanent restaurant in Worthing, West Sussex. The company, which has operated at markets in Worthing and Brighton and run pop-up restaurants and catered for parties and weddings, is opening Salsa Viva Cantina in High Street. It will serve Mexican street food, such as burritos, tacos, quesadillas and salads, and has been fitted with a bar that will be stocked with Mexican beer, wine and margaritas. Recently, Salsa Viva joined forces with sandwich shop Feast in Warwick Street, Worthing, to set up a pop-up cafe. The restaurant is due to open this week, reports the Worthing Herald.
 
MasterChef judge Monica Galetti to launch Fitzrovia restaurant next month: Monica Galetti, MasterChef: The Professionals judge and former senior sous chef at Michel Roux Jr’s Le Gavroche in Mayfair, will open her own restaurant in Fitzrovia on Monday, 6 March. The restaurant – Mere – is a joint venture between Galetti and her sommelier husband David. The venue in Charlotte Street will be set over two floors, with a ground-floor bar for 20 offering cocktails and snacks and a basement restaurant for more than 60 diners. The restaurant will offer a seasonal menu featuring a “lighter take on the classics” as well as new dishes, Hot Dinners reports. Mere comes from a combination of the French word for mother and the Samoan word for Mary, the name of Galetti’s mother.

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