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Tue 28th Mar 2017 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Foodservice inflation hits 3.7% in February, further rises likely to follow: Foodservice price inflation rose to 3.7% in February compared with last year, with further increases likely to follow in the next few months, according to the latest CGA Prestige Foodservice Price Index. It continues an upswing in wholesale foodservice prices, following year-on-year increases of 1.8% in December and 2.9% in January. It further widens the gap between inflation in the sector and inflation experienced by the public, as measured by the Consumer Price Index. Month-on-month inflation from January to February was 0.6%, higher than seasonal averages. Rising foodservice inflation has been caused by a combination of factors, including a lower-than-usual supply of key items and a weak pound. Of the ten sub-categories measured by Prestige Purchasing and CGA Strategy, nine saw higher prices year on year. Areas that have experienced particularly high inflation include fish, with prices up more than 8% on February 2016 following poor cod catches, increased demand from China and sea lice problems for salmon producers. Sugar, chocolate and other confectionery have seen prices noticeably higher as supply of cane sugar into the UK has reduced. Volatility in sugar has also led to an increase in soft drinks prices of more than 6%. Vegetables have also seen prices rise significantly as poor weather conditions have hampered production in key European regions. With the exchange rate for sterling likely to remain low, the Foodservice Price Index forecasts more increases in inflation between now and late summer, with rates well above seasonal averages. However, there are indications pressures may ease a little towards the end of 2017, with the recent fall in oil prices a welcome development. Prestige Purchasing head of consulting and insight Christopher Clare said: “Inflationary pressure looks set to continue, with our Foodservice Price Index forward forecasts showing we might hit 5% in the next couple of months. We are in for a continued period of volatile pricing and operators will find their supply chain is demanding extra focus and that good data is key.” CGA Strategy chief executive Phil Tate added: “Our latest Foodservice Price Index reveals no respite in inflationary trends. The moderate-to-steep rises in nearly all categories are placing unwelcome pressure on businesses in the foodservice supply chain, and with sterling continuing to struggle there is little to suggest inflation will ease soon. It reinforces the need for operators to adopt sharp purchasing strategies in the months ahead.” The Foodservice Price Index is jointly produced by Prestige Purchasing and CGA Strategy, using data drawn directly from the foodservice market covering circa 7.8 million transactions per month. More information on specific categories is available on a subscription basis.

Industry News:

Last chance to book for Advanced Social Media Masterclass: The Propel Advanced Social Media Masterclass is open for bookings. The event is in association with Digital Blonde founder Karen Fewell and, among many topics, she will reveal what “family friendly” looks like in the digital era by drawing on recent research to show what families really want and how to make the most of this lucrative market using social media to attract families to your pub or restaurant. Other speakers include Alice Judge-Talbot, founder of creative marketing consultancy A & Co and lifestyle blog More Than Toast, who will talk about online influencers, who they are and why operators need them. She will reveal the sites, blogs and social media accounts with highly engaged audiences that possess the power to make your place or product a hit. Meanwhile, Colin Sneath, managing director of hospitality social media consultancy Huddle Media, will look beyond basic “likes” and “retweets” and explore how you can use analytics to inform your business strategy. He will use case studies to reveal how measuring and monitoring key metrics can lead to continuous performance improvement and a sector-leading social media presence. Click here to see the full programme. The full-day event takes place on Friday, 7 April at One Moorgate Place, London EC2R 6EA. Tickets for the event are £295 plus VAT for Propel Premium members and £345 plus VAT for non-members and can be booked by emailing anne.steele@propelinfo.com or calling 01444 817691.

Propel launches US Restaurant Franchise Forum: Propel has partnered with World Franchise Associates to launch the US Restaurant Franchise Forum. The event, which takes place on Friday, 28 April at One Moorgate Place in London, will see leading US operators present to their UK counterparts about franchise opportunities in Britain. The first five high-profile US foodservice franchisors to present at the event have been confirmed as Panda Express, the largest Chinese quick-service restaurant (QSR) chain in the US, with 1,800 sites; Little Caesars, which is the third-largest pizza QSR restaurant chain in the US, with 4,250 sites; Wingstop, the fastest-growing US QSR chicken brand, with 1,000 sites; Wienerschnitzel, the largest hotdog QSR brand in the US, with 350 locations and fast-emerging Indian QSR/fast-casual brand Chutney’s Indian Grill. Registration for the event is from 9am to 10am. It is for operators only with tickets priced £65 plus VAT. To book places, email anne.steele@propelinfo.com or call 01444 817691.

Soft drinks sales rise 3.3% in 2016 despite levy threat: The soft drinks category continues to flourish in the foodservice and licensed sector and is set for further growth thanks to the healthy living trend, according to the latest Britvic Soft Drinks Review. Despite economic uncertainty following last year’s EU referendum and the government’s announcement it would introduce a soft drinks levy, soft drinks have continued to grow in the sector, up 3.3% from 2015 to a total of £6.7bn. Britvic said it had identified four main drivers of growth – a continued trend for premiumisation, a rise in the number of socialising occasions involving food, consumer interest in healthy living, and operators’ improvements to personalise the consumer experience. The company forecasts these trends to continue throughout 2017 and beyond. It said the trend for healthy living had arguably the biggest impact on the soft drinks category in 2016. As consumers increasingly looked to reduce sugar and alcohol consumption, manufacturers responded with reformulations of classic soft drinks such as R White’s and Britvic Mixers, both of which were redesigned in 2016 to align with their more premium positioning. Manufacturers continued to extend popular brand ranges to include new low and no added sugar variants resulting in low calorie drinks growing faster (6.8% to £1.9bn) than full sugar equivalents (2.0% to £4.9bn). The shift towards lower sugar was most evident in the cola category, with sales of Pepsi Max, which contains no sugar, growing 54.2% and Coca-Cola Zero Sugar growing by 22.8%.

ALMR warns government against ‘unworkable’ measures to tackle childhood obesity: The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) has reiterated the sector is keen to help in the fight against childhood obesity but warned against the “blanket imposition of vague and unworkable measures that undermine businesses without delivering on the scheme’s aims for children”. The House of Commons Select Committee has published its report into childhood obesity, with recommendations including making health issues part of the planning process. ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said that without transparent guidance on how health-based planning decisions would be made, pubs and restaurants could find themselves victims of a policy introduced for the good of children, who “do not frequent those venues”. Nicholls said she also feared a cap on portion sizes would be “unworkable”. She said: “The licensed hospitality sector is willing to work alongside the government to tackle childhood obesity but wary about the introduction of legislative burdens that could restrict trade and increase financial pressure on businesses. Without transparent guidance on how health-based planning decisions will be made, pubs and restaurants could find themselves victims of a policy intended to tackle unhealthy habits in children – a section of the populace that does not frequent those venues. We must avoid the blanket imposition of vague and unworkable measures that undermine businesses without delivering on the scheme’s aims for children.”

Two big Tesco shareholders oppose £3.7bn Booker takeover deal: Two of Tesco’s biggest shareholders have come out against the retailer’s £3.7bn acquisition of wholesaler Booker. Schroders, the supermarket’s third-largest shareholder, and Artisan Partners, which together hold 9% of the company, have delivered a stinging rebuke to the board regarding the merger. Schroders has written to Tesco chairman John Allan urging him to withdraw from the merger, while Artisan Partners has also voiced its concerns, the Financial Times reports. The tie-up, which requires majority consent from Tesco shareholders, would combine Tesco with Booker, which supplies convenience store chains such as Premier, Londis and Budgens, and delivers ingredients to restaurants including Byron, Carluccio’s and Wagamama. It would push the retailer into the growing restaurant food market even as it still retreats from a past expansion drive. It comes only two years into Tesco’s recovery from a £6.4bn loss and is the first significant purchase to be led by chief executive Dave Lewis. The deal faces a lengthy inquiry from the Competition and Markets Authority. Tesco and Booker have attempted to assuage competition concerns by arguing Booker’s convenience shop fascias – Londis, Premier, Budgens and Happy Shopper – are owned by franchisees.

House of Lords to publish Licensing Act report next week: The House of Lords Select Committee that has been investigating the Licensing Act 2003 will publish its report on Tuesday, 4 April. The committee, chaired by Baroness McIntosh, has been scrutinising the Act for the past ten months and will publish its recommendations for change. During the inquiry, the committee received evidence from central and local government, residents, businesses, nightclubs, live music venues, ministers, the mayor of London and night tsar Amy Lamé.

Company News:

Revolution Bars Group to open first Northern Ireland site, plans further venues: Revolution Bars Group is to open its first venue in Northern Ireland with the launch of a Revoluciòn de Cuba in Belfast, while the company plans further sites in the country. The venue will open in Arthur Street in the heart of the city centre in July, creating 70 jobs. It will be the 69th site in total for Revolution Bars Group and 14th under the Revoluciòn de Cuba brand. The listed, two-storey, mid-terrace former bank dates to the 1800s and was once the head office of Dunville & Co, one of the best-known names in Irish whiskey. The 324-cover, 6,200 square foot site will feature ground-floor and mezzanine bars, with external seating by the entrance. The interior will be Cuban-inspired, reflecting the brand’s classic Havana style. The Revoluciòn de Cuba brand is driven by premium Cuban rum and creative cocktails, with food influences from across Latin America along with weekly live music. Revolution Bars Group is embarking on an ambitious roll-out programme having opened eight sites in the past 21 months and it plans to further expand the estate in Northern Ireland over the next couple of years. Chief executive Mark McQuater said: “Belfast represents an exciting location for us in a site with real heritage. We look forward to bringing rich Cuban culture to this vibrant city and opening our first Revoluciòn de Cuba in Northern Ireland.”

Canada-based Second Cup Coffee Co signs for second UK site: Canada-based Second Cup Coffee Co has signed to open its second site in the UK, in Meadowhall shopping complex in Yorkshire, which is undergoing a £60m refurbishment. Second Cup has signed with joint owner British Land for a 1,560 square foot coffee shop in The Arcade quarter of the complex in Sheffield. It will open later this month as one of the brand’s “black label” sites, which feature Second Cup’s latest interior design concept. British Land asset manager Richard Crowther said: “With the refurbishment gathering pace, more brands are seeking to locate their leading stores at Meadowhall.” Recent openings at the complex include those by Nespresso, Mexican brand Barburrito, Coffika, and Pret A Manger. CBRE, Smith Young and Davis Coffer Lyons acted for Meadowhall, while Space Retail acted for Second Cup. Founded in 1975, Ontario-headquartered Second Cup is Canada’s largest speciality coffee retailer, operating more than 300 cafes.

Marston’s premium division Revere to start expansion of Foundry brand with Harrogate opening: Marston’s premium division Revere Pub Company is to start expansion of its Foundry brand by opening a second site, this time in Harrogate. The Foundry Project will open in The Ginnel on Friday, 28 April with a focus on cocktails, craft beer and Caravan coffee, as well as sourdough pizzas, burgers and sharing platters. The 2,638 square foot venue will open from 9am daily for breakfast, dinner and weekend brunch, with 150 covers inside and 24 outdoors. The design by Concorde will feature industrial-inspired decor, with distressed timber and metal cladding. Seating will include banquettes, Chesterfield-style sofas and traditional dining settings on two levels. Revere managing director Colin Sadler said: “We are delighted to be expanding Foundry Project with our second site in Harrogate. We’ll be recruiting between 30 and 40 staff and believe the bar will bring a unique venue to the spa town. It is a key part of the continued transformation of the Revere brand.” The first site for the brand – Foundry 39 – opened in Edinburgh last year.

Pieminister gets go-ahead for first Birmingham site: Bristol-based Pieminister has been given the go-ahead for its first site in Birmingham. The company has been granted permission by the city council to open the venue in Waterloo Street next to Michelin-starred eatery Adam’s, creating 20 jobs. The restaurant will operate from 9am to 1am daily and provide 60 covers, reports Insider Media. The company operates two restaurants in Bristol and others in Cardiff, Leeds and Nottingham. It also operates two cafe-style venues in London, with others in Bristol, Oxford, Stoke and Manchester. Pieminister also operates within a dozen pubs, mostly in London, and supplies more than 80 other pubs a week with its pies and side dishes. In June last year, the company appointed agent Williams Gunter Hardwick to find locations for six new restaurants. The company said it was eyeing 30 restaurants by 2020, with long-term targets including Bath, Brighton and Cambridge, as well as further locations in London. In June it secured a £1.4m finance package from HSBC to support expansion plans.

BrewDog co-founder – our lawyers got a ‘bit trigger happy’ over naming row: James Watt, co-founder of Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog, has said its lawyers got a “bit trigger happy” over a naming row with a family-run pub. BrewDog is launching vodka and gin brands called Lone Wolf and threatened legal action against a pub in Birmingham that opened under the same name. The action prompted allegations of bullying and hypocrisy by BrewDog, given its founders had previously scorned copyright complaints against them. However, Watt said on Twitter: “Our lawyers got a bit trigger happy. We are happy for the Lone Wolf Bar in Birmingham to keep using the name. And we will send them a few free cases of our upcoming Lone Wolf Gin and Lone Wolf Vodka to boot.” However Joshua McFadyen, who runs the pub with his sister Sallie, told the Birmingham Mail: “Getting a new business off the ground is hard enough. We ploughed all our savings into launching Lone Wolf, then had to pay for legal letters and rebranding and now a month later we’re told we can change it back!” Regarding Watt’s offer of a few free cases of Lone Wolf gin and vodka, McFadyen added: “I don’t want it.”

Papa John’s franchisee opens tenth South Wales site: Papa John’s franchisee Umar Malik has opened his second site in Newport, South Wales, and his tenth franchise in the region in total. The new store has opened in Chepstow Road, creating 30 jobs. Malik said: “We now have the whole city covered! Our original Cardiff Road Papa John’s, which looks after the east side of Newport, was quick to taste success so a second outlet was needed to deliver to residents living west of the river Usk. Having two Papa John’s close together has made training the new staff straightforward. They have been able to gain hands-on experience in the other store prior to opening.  This ensures the focus is on quality and great customer service as a priority from day one.” Malik funded his first Papa John’s opening in Swansea following a business loan from HSBC. There are more than 350 Papa John’s sites in the UK and over 5,000 stores in more than 40 international markets.

Punch to support permitted development rights but cautions against ‘unforeseen consequences’ of rushed legislation: Punch is to support the campaign for permitted development rights but has cautioned against the “unforeseen consequences” of rushed legislation. The company said it would like to work with campaigners and the Department for Communities and Local Government, which has confirmed support for the amendment that would require planning permission to be granted prior to a pub’s change of use, and to ensure regulations are applied consistently across the country. Punch chief executive Duncan Garrood said: “Further protection for pubs that mean change of use applications are open, transparent and approved in line with facts are welcome and we will actively support the proposal. What we would ask is any legislation is well thought through and doesn’t create unforeseen consequences. For example, if a pub wanted to change to a more food-orientated offer, we would hope they wouldn’t require permissions to achieve that. I don’t think that would be anyone’s intention but bad legislation can create bureaucracy that no-one, be it freeholders, pub companies, campaign groups or consumers, ever wanted.” Punch also called for the government to address the significant imbalance and unfairness regarding the tax burden pubs face. Garrood said: “Pubs are a force for good in the UK. We are not asking for special treatment but rather that all parts of a diverse economy pay their way. We want fairness for an industry that brings communities together, and one government tells us is hugely valued.”

Pizza Pilgrims to open West India Quay restaurant in May, sixth London site: Pizza Pilgrims, co-founded by Thom and James Elliot, will open its sixth London site, in West India Quay, on Monday, 1 May. Besides the brothers’ award-winning Neapolitan pizzas, the venue in Hertsmere Road will offer a “pizza playground”, with a Nintendo linked to a large television, a huge table football catering for 22 players, an outdoor bowls court and an alfresco dining spot for 70 people. Signature pizzas such as Portobello mushroom and truffle will be joined by the Friggitoria, which has so far only been available in Pizza Pilgrims’ Carnaby site, reports Hot Dinners. Earlier this month, the company opened its fifth London site and first bring-your-own-beer venue – in Shoreditch High Street. Pizza Pilgrims also has an opening lined up in Waterloo, while its other sites are in Covent Garden, Soho, and Exmouth Market. It also has a residency at crazy golf concept Swingers in the City. All restaurants offer a takeaway service, while Pizza Pilgrims also operates a Piaggio Ape van called Conchetta at outdoor events.

Rockfish lodges plans for sixth site, in Exeter: Rockfish, the seafood restaurant group founded and run by restaurateurs Mitch Tonks and Mat Prowse, has lodged plans to open its sixth site, in Exeter. The company has applied to the city council to build the venue at Exeter Quay’s Piazza Terracina, creating 40 jobs. The area earmarked is currently the outdoor seating area for Bar Venezia. The application is for a single-storey pavilion restaurant with a floor space of 500 square metres. A spokesman told Devon Live: “We believe Rockfish is the right fit for Exeter Quay, which being by the water will provide a perfect destination for people to travel and eat fresh seafood. Exeter’s proximity to the coast means we can serve the landings from Brixham on the same day, which is a core Rockfish value.” Last year, Rockfish appointed Hawksmoor Group co-founder and chief executive Will Beckett to the role of non-executive chairman. Beckett was part of a private group that supported the business in a fund-raise in 2014 alongside other food and restaurant industry leaders John Barnes, Steve Leadbeater (chief financial officer at Two Sisters group) and Henry Dimbleby (Leon, Street Feast/London Union). The investor group also included food critic Giles Coren, who became a fan after eating at The Seahorse in Dartmouth. Rockfish’s other sites are in Brixham, Exmouth, Plymouth and Torquay.

Orange Tree Group to open eighth site next month as it adds to Loughborough presence: Orange Tree Group, the East Midlands-based independent pub company, is to open its eighth site next month by adding to its presence in Loughborough. The company will launch bar and restaurant Fenways on Thursday, 13 April in Baxter Gate on the site of the former Brooklyn Bar. Orange Tree Group said Fenways has been inspired by London’s most popular street food concepts and is launching on the back of its pop-up restaurant in Leicester, The Smokehouse. Fenways will be a casual dining restaurant with hand-made burgers, and barbecue and smoked food matched with craft beer, wine, cocktails and shakes. The new bar and restaurant will have “quirky” eclectic decor and feature an “inside out” garden. Orange Tree Group co-founder Ben Hings told the Loughborough Echo: “Over the years we have noticed the changes in how consumers wish to spend their leisure time. Loughborough has been influenced by these changes with the new Baxter Gate development and we feel Fenways will tick all the right boxes and give the Loughborough market exactly what is missing – great-quality smokehouse food served in a casual environment and backed by friendly service.” The company’s other sites include the Kelso in Loughborough and its eponymous bars in Leicester, Loughborough and Nottingham.

Greggs executive retail director to resign from board at annual general meeting: Greggs has announced executive retail director Raymond Reynolds is to resign from the board at the company’s annual general meeting in May. Reynolds, who has been with Greggs for more than 30 years, will step down at the close of the meeting on Friday, 19 May after deciding not to stand for re-election. He will continue to be a member of the operating board with responsibility for property and business development. Chairman Ian Durant said: “I would like to thank Raymond for his contribution to the board’s debate over the past ten years, and we wish him well in his new role in the company.”

Al Manal Group to open third Bakchich site as it doubles up in Liverpool: Al Manal Group is to open the third site, and second in Liverpool, for its Lebanese restaurant concept Bakchich. The company is opening the venue in Williamson Square on the site of the former That’s Entertainment store, creating 25 jobs, reports the Liverpool Echo. Originally a stall at the city’s Christmas market, the first permanent restaurant opened in Bold Street in August 2013, with a Manchester branch following in 2015. The menu includes charcoal grills, hot and cold mezze, Lebanese-style pizza, salad and wraps, with an emphasis on sharing. Bakchich translates as “loose change” and was chosen to refer to the affordability of food on the menu. Al Manal Group also owns Liverpool restaurants Kasbah, Chez Le Coq, and Otto’s.

Bistrot Pierre to open third Welsh site in May at Mumbles development: Bistrot Pierre, the restaurant group backed by private equity firm Livingbridge, is to open its third site in Wales in May, at the Oyster Wharf development in Mumbles, Swansea. The company will open the venue on Friday, 19 May, creating 60 jobs. It has invested about £1m in the site, which will seat up to 160 diners in the restaurant and outdoor terrace. Co-owner Rob Beacham told Insider Media: “Mumbles is stunning, we were thrilled at the opportunity to open in such a prestigious location. This will be our third bistro to open in Wales in addition to restaurants in Cardiff and Newport.” The company, founded by Beacham and John Whitehead in 1994, received £9.8m from Livingbridge in 2015 to support its expansion plans. It operates 18 sites and was last week granted permission to convert a former Russell & Bromley store in Lord Street, Southport.

Sheffield-based baker opens fifth city site: Sheffield-based Roses The Bakers has opened its fifth site in the Yorkshire city. The latest venue is in Brooklands Avenue, Fulwood, in the south west of Sheffield and offers bread, confectionery, Cafeology coffee, savoury pies and sandwiches. Roses the Bakers general manager Mark Johnstone told BDaily: “Our decision to take on premises at Fulwood is due to its superb location in one of the city’s most affluent areas, which is also bustling with students. The shop was formerly the Fulwood Post Office, which we used to supply with bread and confectionery, so we have an established market for our produce. Once we heard the post office was closing down, we stepped in to take on the remainder of the lease on the property, which will run for seven years.” Tom Weightman, solicitor at Wake Smith, which advised on the expansion, added: “Roses the Bakers is an institution in Sheffield.”

Douglas Jack – Domino’s Pizza Poland no longer a startup: Peel Hunt leisure analyst Douglas Jack has said Domino’s Pizza Poland is no longer a startup. Issuing a ‘Buy’ note on the shares with a target price of 75p, Jack said: “Domino’s Pizza Poland is not a startup any more. FY16 system sales were up 62%. The number of stores increased 52% and like-for-like system sales increased 27%. Constant currency system sales were up 57% and like-for-like system sales were up 28% in the first half of 2016. Overall revenue growth was 97% to £7.6m. Excluding the impact of revenue from corporate store disposals to sub-franchisees, we estimate revenue was £5.9m. Top store Ebitda performance shows the health of the business. Average Ebitda from the top three corporate stores increased by 41% to £88,000. The group Ebitda loss of £1.6m was in line with our forecasts. This was in line with the prior year and reflects investment in expanding the team in Poland and developing the new commissary that will take commissary capacity to 150 stores. The infrastructure is being put in place to build a scale business. It is on track for 50 stores in FY17E. Domino’s Pizza Poland has opened four new stores in FY17E to date to bring the total to 39 and management expects the total to exceed 50 this year. There are six stores currently under construction. We believe the target of 100 stores by 2020 is comfortably attainable. The 39 stores are in 14 cities and towns and, alongside the 16 corporate stores, there are 23 stores operated by eight sub-franchisees. This is a materially different business from the Domino’s Pizza Poland of just a few years ago. It is developing the scale to gather momentum in attracting new franchisees. Having planted its flag in multiple locations, Domino’s Pizza Poland is well placed to expand more quickly and to contemplate national advertising. Against a tough comparable, like-for-like systems sales were up 16% in Jan/Feb and are on track to be up more than 20% for March. In Jan/Feb last year like-for-like system sales growth was 27%. Having enjoyed a period of deflation in 2016, we believe there is now some upward pressure on costs. However, we expect these to be offset by the rapidly increasing scale of the group. Domino’s Pizza Poland continues to be on track, building a platform from which to exploit the long-term potential of the Domino’s brand in Poland. With like-for-like momentum, an acceleration in new store openings and a growing sub-franchisee base, we expect to see the share price momentum restored.”

Skinny chops concept Blacklock starts expansion with City site: Blacklock, the skinny chops concept launched in Soho by former Hawksmoor executive Gordon Kerr in 2015, has started expansion by opening a second and larger site, this time in the City. The 100-cover restaurant in Philpot Lane offers an extended menu with new cuts, starters and cocktails and, unlike its sister site in Windmill Street, will take reservations for lunch and dinner. The separate cocktail bar also has a larger menu than the Soho site, while a table-side trolley is also in operation. The restaurant also offers wine on tap. A back story to the site makes it a perfect match for Blacklock as it is on the site of London’s main medieval meat market.

Hop Stuff Brewery launches first canned beer range as it undergoes rebrand: London-based Hop Stuff Brewery, which was launched in 2013 following a successful crowdfunding campaign on Crowdcube, is launching its first canned beer range as it undergoes a rebrand. The company is using the view from its Royal Arsenal home to inspire its new look. The new cans will feature illustrated outlines of the classic London landmarks that are visible from SE18. When the cans are lined up together, the south London landscape can be seen in full to symbolise the brand’s story. The four cans – Four Hour Session, Unfiltered Pils, Arsenal Pale Ale and Renegade IPA – will be available from Monday, 10 April. Founder James Yeomans said: “We love London for its diversity, vibrancy and history – all these things feed into each can design.”

M&B brand Browns Brasserie & Bar gains gluten-free accreditation: Mitchells & Butlers brand Browns Brasserie & Bar has achieved accreditation from Coeliac UK for its gluten-free menu. Browns’ in-house development chefs and trainers worked closely with Coeliac UK and launched its gluten-free menu in January, featuring new and traditional all-day brasserie dishes adjusted to meet gluten-free requirements. To achieve accredited status required risk assessments, changing working practices, product development and associated training, followed by Coeliac UK audits. A sample of five Browns businesses were audited and all achieved the required standard. Browns Brasserie & Bar assistant marketing manager Alex Palmer said: “It is incredibly important to us as a brand to be able to assure our guests of the integrity of our food and the expertise of our chefs. We feel our new gluten-free menu is the perfect way to showcase this.”

Cup puts Edinburgh tea room on market to concentrate on Glasgow sites: Cup, which operates two tea rooms in Glasgow, has put its Edinburgh venue on the market. Cup Tea Rooms in South Charlotte Street, in the Scottish capital’s New Town, offered hot drinks and cakes before turning into gin bar and eatery Gin71 after 5pm. Christie & Co associate director Stuart Drysdale, who is handling the sale, said: “Cup Tea Rooms occupies a fully refurbished, mid-terraced townhouse in an excellent location and trades as a successful business during the day and night-time, catering for a large range of customers. There is also potential for development as the first floor, which currently houses an office and store room, could be transformed into additional public space, such as a private dining room. This is an exciting and rare opportunity for a new or existing operator.” Christie & Co is seeking £175,000 for the leasehold interest, with an annual rent of £110,000. Cup operates Cup Merchant City and Cup Tea Lounge in Glasgow.

Former Heineken and Carlsberg director joins Useyourlocal.com senior team: Useyourlocal.com, the UK digital pub platform, has strengthened its senior team as it gears up for growth with the appointment of John Botia, a former Heineken and Carlsberg director. Botia has joined as director to work alongside managing director Stuart Mills, who founded the business in 2009, and Willie Crawshay, who joined as chairman at the start of 2016. Mills said: “We have a business model that works – every month, 400,000 visitors search our database of over 75,000 pubs, bars and clubs for news, events, activities and ideas for their perfect night out, and we have only scratched the surface of our potential. Many operators also rely on useyourlocal.com to provide a bespoke website to promote their business.” While Heineken UK retains a stake in the business, the priority for the senior team is to forge partnerships with operators and brand owners across the licensed sector. Mills added: “Our aim is to grow the Useyourlocal.com brand to have the same recognition status in our sector that Just Eat and Rightmove have in theirs.” Useyourlocal.com celebrates the role of pubs and bars in communities and encourages people to visit their local more often.

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