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Tue 4th Apr 2017 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Lords licensing committee – ‘scrap local authority licensing committees and repeal Late Night Levy in current form’: The House of Lords select committee set up to review the Licensing Act 2003 has recommended a one-off radical overhaul, including abolishing local authority licensing committees and repealing the Late Night Levy in its current form. The committee, which was set up to scrutinise the act, said that in the 11 years it had been in force hardly a year had gone by without major amendment. It wants to end these frequent piecemeal changes and has recommended a one-off radical overhaul, including the abolition of local authority licensing committees. The committee found the government made a substantial error in placing the responsibility for licensing with local authority licensing committees and said planning committees were much more effective, reliable and well-equipped to make licensing decisions. The committee recommended that co-ordination between the licensing and planning systems should begin immediately in all local authorities, while fees for licensing should be set locally, not nationally. The committee said it heard convincing evidence suggesting the Late Night Levy does not pay for the cost of policing as intended, and came to the conclusion that in its current form it is fundamentally wrong, in principle and practice. It said that unless current amendments proved effective, they should be repealed as should Early Morning Restriction Orders, which no local authority has yet introduced. Meanwhile, the committee also recommended that if Minimum Unit Pricing was introduced in Scotland and found to be effective in cutting excessive drinking, England and Wales should follow suit. It also said Scotland’s example should be followed in helping disabled people access licensed premises by ensuring a disabled access statement was provided with a premises licensing application. Committee chairman Baroness McIntosh of Pickering said: “The act is fundamentally flawed and needs a major overhaul. It was a mistake and a missed opportunity to set up new licensing committees when the planning system was already available to regulate the use of land for many different purposes. The planning system is well suited to dealing with licensing applications and appeals, and the interests of residents are always taken into account. We cannot understand why the government has decided not to apply the act to sales at airports. This can lead to dangerous situations, and must be changed. Pubs, clubs and live music venues are a vital part of our cultural identity. Any decline in our cities’ world-famous nightlife ought to be prevented and the businesses supported. But the night-time economy needs regulating – even in these areas of cities, residents have their rights. The current systems are not being used because they do not work.”

Industry News:

Finance and Investment Conference opens for bookings: The Propel Finance and Investment Conference is open for bookings. Speakers will include Darren Tristano, president of insights firm Technomic, who will look at the key criteria US investment firms are applying in the US foodservice market and make his pick of the most interesting emerging US brands. Andrew Ball, partner at sector accountants haysmacintyre, will set out the most tax-efficient ways to offer investment in a company – and how to involve employees in a business by creating an employee shareholder scheme. Meanwhile, Andy Laurillard, founder of Thai restaurant brand Giggling Squid, which attracted investment from the Business Growth Fund in 2015, will talk about the process of preparing to attract investment, his experience of talking to potential investors and the difference the Business Growth Fund investment has made to Giggling Squid. Click here to see the full programme. The full-day event takes place on Thursday, 11 May at One Moorgate Place, London EC2R 6EA. Tickets are £295 plus VAT for operators and £445 plus VAT for suppliers, while tickets for Propel Premium subscribers are £245 plus VAT. To book, email anne.steele@propelinfo.com or call 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.

Hostel operator Safestay secures £18m banking facility to fund European expansion: London-headquartered hostel operator Safestay has negotiated a new £18.4m five-year bank facility with HSBC. Safestay chairman Larry Lipman said the refinancing deal would significantly improve the financial footing of the publicly listed business and support its continental expansion plans. The company has also negotiated the sale and leaseback of two of the biggest properties in its portfolio – in Edinburgh and London – that has raised a further £12.6m. The sales, agreed with an unnamed “institutional buyer”, sees Safestay receive £6.1m for its Elephant and Castle site, the former Labour Party headquarters it turned into a 400-bedroom hostel, and £5.32m for its Edinburgh hostel, in exchange for 150-year geared ground rent leases. Lipman told BDaily: “The underlying uplift in value for the Edinburgh and Elephant and Castle sites is excellent for the business and the transactions this has enabled reflect well on the strength of our business, our brand and the quality of our properties and means we can recycle capital into new growth opportunities.” A joint venture between investment company Safeland and private equity fund manager The Moorfield Group, Safestay also operates hostels in York and Kensington Holland Park, London.

CAMRA direction up for discussion: Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) members will discuss the organisation’s direction and policy at its annual Members’ Weekend, AGM and conference this weekend (7-9 April). More than 1,000 members will be in Bournemouth to consider proposals to widen CAMRA’s interests and its scope of influence within the beer and pubs sector. A conference motion has been put forward to reduce restrictions on CAMRA’s definition of flavoured and pasteurised real cider and perry, as well as a motion to accept the term “craft beer” across the organisation as inclusive and applicable to real ale. Those present will be asked to debate and vote on a motion proposing awards should not be given to anyone who contravenes CAMRA’s values, particularly if they display discriminatory attitudes on social media or elsewhere. Members will also be asked to consider whether CAMRA should do more to help pubs that are campaigning against business rates rises. The event will also give CAMRA members an opportunity to discuss findings from the Revitalisation Project, which has proposed the organisation widen its vision and mission to reflect changing consumer needs and developments in the drinks industry, while remaining committed to its core aims of promoting real ale, cider and perry and campaigning for pubs and clubs. Members will have an opportunity to explore the potential impacts of these and other proposals for change made by the Revitalisation Project steering committee when it delivers its report on the widespread consultation of members conducted last year. A final vote on the Revitalisation Project proposals will be taken at the 2018 Members’ Weekend, which will be held in Coventry next year. CAMRA national chairman Colin Valentine said: “The Members’ Weekend provides a unique opportunity for individuals to come together and discuss the future positioning and policies of our campaigning organisation. Our membership remains at the heart of any and all decisions we take, so this weekend helps us to share ideas about CAMRA’s future.”

UK will need 40,000 new baristas in next six years to keep up with coffee shop boom – report: Up to 40,000 new baristas will be required in the next six years if the UK is to keep pace with the surge in popularity of coffee shops, according to the UK Coffee Report, created by Allegra World Coffee Portal in partnership with London Coffee Festival. The study suggests coffee shops are set to exceed 30,000 nationwide by 2025 and that to staff the additional 7,155 stores, 40,000 new baristas will be required in addition to the 150,000 currently employed in the sector. Meanwhile, London Coffee Festival, which takes place from Thursday until Sunday (6-9 April) at the Old Truman Brewery in east London, has unveiled the top 20 baristas in the world, who will compete in the 2017 Coffee Masters. More than half of the competitors are from the UK proving, a festival spokesman said, the UK’s prominence in the craft. Allegra Group chief executive Jeffrey Young said: “Coffee is taking over the nation and with that comes a surge in demand for skilled baristas to keep the lattes flowing. Being a barista is a brilliant job that requires a great deal of knowledge and skill. We believe it should be as respected as the top sommeliers at the finest restaurants.”

Company News:

Beds and Bars adds Balmers in Switzerland to St Christopher’s Inns network: Beds and Bars, the pan-European hostel operator led by Keith Knowles, has added Balmers in Interlaken, Switzerland, as a franchise partner of its St Christopher’s Inns hostel network. Balmers is a hostel that offers travellers the opportunity to ski in the Swiss Alps. It was the first private hostel to open in Switzerland and offers year-round activities such as skiing, skydiving and paragliding. The hostel features modern chalet-style accommodation as well as a tent village and hammock rooms, après-ski facilities, plus its own nightclub. Balmers is the first ski hostel to join the St Christopher’s Inns network and will now be available on St Christopher’s independent booking engine. Beds and Bars managing director Murray Roberts said: “Since 1999 we have worked and played with Balmers. We have always admired what they have achieved, with them joining our network it will be like the European Hostels wedding of the year.” Knowles added: “Having Balmers is like two families coming together.” Balmers general manager Jan Marti said: “For us we really benefit from the partnership with St Christopher’s. It’s an enrichment for all and we're really happy we’ve joined the franchise.” St Christopher’s Inns operates 21 hostels across Europe, in 13 locations. Meanwhile, Chris Lambert has joined Beds and Bars from Intertain in the newly created role of group property manager. His new role encompasses health and safety across the group, repairs and maintenance, new acquisitions management, and capital project development.

Upham acquires Swindon brewpub as 16th site: Upham Pub Company has added to its portfolio of pubs in the south of England with the addition of The Weighbridge Brewhouse in Swindon – its 16th site. The Weighbridge hosts a bar and restaurant as well as an in-house micro-brewery. Head brewers Mark Wallington and Jordan Wheeler brew and serve six Weighbridge Ales, with further plans for Upham to offer the beers across its estate in addition to Upham Brewery’s range. The micro-brewery also offers “one for the road” – a takeaway ale service that includes mini-kegs. Chris Phillips, chief executive of Upham Pub Company, said: “We are delighted to welcome The Weighbridge Brewhouse to the Upham family. We will ensure the pub maintains its current operation, with the fantastic team remaining on board, and continues to offer its quality food, drink and welcoming atmosphere its customers know and love. This is slightly out of our usual trading region and provides a fantastic opportunity to branch out to areas further afield. It’s great to have an already established pub with a real community feel and fantastic heritage story – with their previous brewer owning the pub and his son Ashley now the general manager – and we look forward to a successful future for The Weighbridge Brewhouse.”

MeatLiquor to open King’s Cross restaurant, 11th site: MeatLiquor is to open a restaurant in King’s Cross in the summer, its eighth site in London and 11th in total. The 90-cover, 1,800 square foot venue will open in a former tramshed in St Chad’s Place, with Shed Design creating a space within the historic building that will see many original features retained. Nick Weir, joint managing partner at agent Shelley Sandzer, which secured the site for MeatLiquor, said: “This wonderful, historic building is absolutely perfect for MeatLiquor and we are thrilled to secure it for them. King’s Cross is a buzzing location that benefits from a busy station and a growing office population, as well as its reputation as a trendy area to live in. There is no doubt the brand will continue to thrive in this new location and appeal to visitors and residents.” MeatLiquor co-founders Scott Collins and Yianni Papoutsis grew the brand from street van operator to opening their first permanent site in Marylebone in 2011. Last month, MeatLiquor launched a delivery-only site at Canary Wharf in partnership with Deliveroo. Collins said: “We are always learning and trying to improve our service and will continue to look for ways like this to do so.”

Five Guys agrees deal to open venue in enhanced Chelmsford restaurant quarter having missed out on site in city last year: Better burger brand Five Guys has agreed a deal to open a venue in a new enhanced restaurant quarter being developed in Chelmsford – having missed out on a site in the Essex city last year. The company has signed a deal with developer Aquila Holdings to open the restaurant in High Street as part of the redevelopment of a former NatWest bank branch. The building, which is next door to YO! Sushi and Pret A Manger, is being revamped and, as well as Five Guys, another restaurant will be delivered as part of the scheme. The development involves a new façade to High Street, narrowing of the overhanging first and second-floor sections of the building and bringing the shop frontages in line with those adjoining. The redevelopment will also deliver 7,000 square feet of retail space at first-floor level, with a dedicated High Street entrance that will be occupied by Glasgow-based men’s formalwear retailer Slaters. Aquila hopes to start construction within the next couple of months. Neil Ridley, of Aquila Holdings, said: “This is another important step in realising the vision of a restaurant quarter we hope will be further strengthened by public realm improvements to Tindal Square and removal of through traffic in front of Shire Hall.” Last month, it was revealed Five Guys, which has 61 sites in the UK, was one of five brands to miss out last year on the chance to secure a site at a proposed development in Springfield Road that involves downsizing and splitting the current Argos store into four units.

Brewhouse & Kitchen opens Bournemouth site: Brewhouse & Kitchen, the expanding brewhouse concept led by Simon Bunn and Kris Gumbrell, has continued its Dorset expansion by opened a site in Bournemouth. The company has opened the venue in the Bournemouth Triangle on the site of the Branksome Arms it acquired in 2015. Following one of the largest Brewhouse & Kitchen redevelopment projects to date, the listed building boasts a three-storey extension as well as the largest beer garden in Bournemouth town centre, including purpose-built beach huts. A micro-brewery is on the ground floor, with a large dining area and kitchen on the first. The micro-brewery will produce five beers available throughout the year and eight seasonally changing variations. The brewer’s choice tap, a brew unique to Bournemouth, will also be on offer. The drinks list also boasts 50 craft beers and ciders from breweries across the world. A selection of dishes created using beer as a key ingredient forms part of a new food menu being launched across the group. Brewhouse & Kitchen Bournemouth also offers two academy experiences – a two-hour “Beer Masterclass” and a day-long “Brewery Experience Day”. Gumbrell said: “This new addition has been a long-term project in the making. Our brewpubs are all unique and offer a special experience.” Brewhouse & Kitchen operates 15 other pubs, including sites in nearby Southbourne, Poole and Dorchester.

NYC chef Marcus Samuelsson to bring Red Rooster to Shoreditch: New York City chef Marcus Samuelsson, who has cooked for everyone from Barrack Obama to John Legend, is set to bring his Harlem restaurant Red Rooster to Shoreditch. The restaurant is due to open in Curtain Road in May, focusing on chicken marinated in buttermilk and coconut milk, coated in spices, fried and served on white mace gravy. New dishes for the Shoreditch site will include duck kitfo with foie gras ganache and jicama; steamed bass with poached egg, brisket, pickled vegetables and broth; and Aunt Maybel’s dumplings with lamb neck, olives and gnocchi. Samuelsson will also open an all-day taqueria and bar next to the restaurant, focusing on margaritas and tacos, Hot Dinners reports. The Red Rooster venues will be part of The Curtain hotel and private members’ club, which will open in May operated by American multimillionaire Michael Achenbaum, president of the luxury Gansevoort Hotel Group. The Curtain will centre around 120 guest rooms, including six suites, with a rooftop pool, ballroom, and additional members-only club, restaurant, bar and live performance spaces.

Tim Hortons hires agency ahead of UK launch: Agency Pablo has been hired by Tim Hortons to help the restaurant break into the UK under the direction of a former Marks & Spencer food marketer, Campaign has reported. The Canadian chain, owned by Burger King parent Restaurants Brands International and known for its coffee and doughnuts, appointed Pablo to its UK and Ireland advertising account after a competitive pitch. Neil Littler, chief marketing officer of Tim Hortons UK and Ireland, ran the process after joining in January from M&S, where for three years he was brand and marketing manager for food. The advertising agency appointment comes as Tim Hortons expands its management team ahead of the UK launch. Kevin Hydes, international and brand development director at Costa and 16-year marketing veteran of parent company Whitbread, is due to join Tim Hortons later this year. Ontario-based RBI announced in August last year it would begin opening Tim Hortons restaurants in the UK in 2017 as part of global expansion. Gurprit Dhaliwal has been appointed chief executive of the “master franchise joint venture” between RBI and SK Group that will launch the brand in England, Scotland and Wales.

Tommi’s Burger Joint opens Soho restaurant, third London site: Tommi’s Burger Joint, which has restaurants in Marylebone and King’s Road, has opened its third venue in London, this time in Soho. The new restaurant in Berwick Street offers Tommi’s regular favourites – burgers, steak burgers and chicken burgers – with lots of sauces, fries, sweet potato fries and regular specials, with some new dishes added. Tommi’s shakes, including coffee shake and coconut shake, are also on offer, Hot Dinners reports. The Tommi’s Burger Joint concept was launched in Iceland in 1981 by Tomas Tómasson, who brought the brand to the UK in August 2012, opening at a temporary site in Marylebone Street. There is also a Tommi’s Burger Joint in Berlin and another in Copenhagen.

Starbucks to trial mobile order only store: Starbucks is to trial a “mobile order only” store next week. The site, located at the company’s headquarters in Seattle, will take mobile orders only from its own employees – the building houses 5,000 staff in total. The location will feature a different design, with a pick-up window that also offers a view of baristas preparing the orders. Starbucks launched its mobile ordering system in 2015, allowing users to skip the line at its stores and pick up the order they had placed and paid for using the smartphone app. It proved so popular it led to queues in some sites that were longer then regular store lines – defeating the purpose. Starbucks is ramping up its use of technology and has just launched in-car voice ordering and gift cards that be sent and redeemed through iMessage on iPhones and iPads. To use in-car voice ordering, Starbucks need to use an Alexa Skills device and drive a Ford car that features Sync 3 technology.

Veeno launches Italian seafood concept in Cheshire: Italian wine cafe Veeno has launched Italian seafood restaurant Blue Lobster in Alderley Edge, Cheshire. The company opened the venue at a site in London Road that had lain empty since Tomfoolery restaurant closed in January 2016, five months after opening. The 80-cover Blue Lobster, which is decorated in deep blue hues with nautical accents such as rope banisters and seashell artwork, features a bar specialising in franciacorta, a sparkling wine from the Brescia region that is bottle-aged in the same way as champagne. The restaurant is upstairs, seating 55 diners in the main room and a more secluded section hidden behind a wall of wine, reports the Manchester Evening News. Veeno operates two wine cafes in Leeds with others in Bristol, Chester, Edinburgh, Harrogate, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham and York. The company also launched a franchise offer earlier this year that will focus on the UK for the time being but with plans to expand into Ireland, Scandinavia and Asia. The company has formed Veeno Franchising, a joint venture with Italy’s Sviluppo Franchising. Veeno plans to have expanded to 80 sites by 2020.

Chapel Bar founder launches salt beef concept Mercer & Co in Islington: The founder of The Chapel Bar in Islington has launched a salt beef bar in the London borough. Alex Foley has opened Mercer & Co in Chapel Market. The restaurant has space for 20 diners inside and 16 outside, with the interior constructed using recycled materials and featuring large wooden wicker lights and sliding glass doors. The menu features salt beef sandwiches and bagels as well as other dishes that include a breakfast bowl of blueberry, chia and pumpkin seeds and a Mexican-style quinoa with corn, avocado, tomatoes, coriander, red onion and sour cream salad, reports The Handbook. Drinks include smoothies, milkshakes, Brooklyn Lager IPA (brewed to a pre-prohibition recipe) and five cocktails. Foley opened The Chapel Bar in Penton Street in 1999.

McDonald’s trials new breakfast item in south east England: McDonald’s is trialling a new item on its breakfast menu at 120 restaurants in south east England. The McDonald’s cheesy bacon flatbread features layers of burger cheese topped with streaky bacon and encased in a flatbread. According to fast-food reviewer Burgerlad, the Italian-American fusion costs £1.49 and has 298 calories. A McDonald’s spokesman told The Mirror: “We are really excited about following the feedback closely. Wider roll-out will depend on the success of the trial and analysis of customer feedback and their appetites for it.”

Yummy Collection reports record Mother’s Day: Yummy Collection, the pub operator formerly known as Yummy Pub Company and led by Tim Foster, Jason Rowlands and Anthony Pender, has reported record Mother’s Day trading. Foster said: “Mother’s Day brought record trading, the best Sunday we’ve had in Yummy since 2014. The reported sales across our six sites was up 36% versus the same weekend last year, which was a bank holiday, and 68% versus the Mother’s Day weekend in 2016. Our new menu format and pre-booked sales system were key drivers for the brilliant weekend trade and brought in 74% of the total footfall. There was also the added benefit of sunshine, which further enabled the growth.” In a note sent to all staff, Yummy thanked its teams for their effort and provided insight into the Mother’s Day occasion, which has now become a “treat weekend” for pubs as opposed to a one-day opportunity. Stand out performances were especially seen in the company’s flagship pub, The Somers Town Coffee House in Euston, and its country pub and boutique hotel, The Wiremill in Surrey.

Fuller’s appoints two new divisional directors: London brewer and retailer Fuller’s has made two divisional appointments following internal promotions. In newly created roles, Paul Dickinson has been appointed director of food, while Jane Jones has been named director of marketing. Chief executive Simon Emeny said: “Paul Dickinson has revolutionised the way we view food in Fuller’s and this promotion is recognition of that success. Paul has long aspired to making Fuller’s as famous for its food as it is for its beer and, as director of food, I know he will continue to strive for that goal with the passion and vigour he has shown since his appointment six years ago. Jane Jones is appointed director of marketing in a new role that reinforces the importance of the way we communicate and sell ourselves to our customers. Great marketing is critical to our future success and Jane is an excellent marketer with a real passion and understanding for Fuller’s and its brands. These new positions reflect the way our business is evolving, how our customers perceive Fuller’s, and the changing nature of the environment we operate in.”

BrewDog extends crowdfunding campaign for US craft beer hotel: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has extended its crowdfunding campaign to open a craft beer hotel and sour beer brewery next to its US brewery in Canal Winchester in Ohio. The company was due to close its fund-raise for The DogHouse on Indiegogo on Sunday night (2 April) but has now extended the campaign until the end of the month. It was originally aiming to raise $75,000 towards the $6m required to build the 50-bedroom hotel, which would include “shower beer fridges”, and brewery. Having exceeded that target within a few days of launch, it then set a stretch target of $200,000 and added new facilities to the planned hotel, including a rooftop bar. It has now raised $284,680 from 1,869 investors – 380% of the original target. BrewDog stated: “We were due to bring the campaign to a close but with so much interest in our palace of craft beer in Columbus, we have decided to extend the deadline for investment in The DogHouse for another month (and we may dial in a few more extra perks to boot). We are now 380% funded and with so much interest are going to keep the Indiegogo campaign live until the end of April. The DogHouse Columbus has one simple aim – to be the best beer-orientated hotel in the world. With that squarely in mind it will feature en-suite rooms with shower-beer fridges, Punk IPA on tap in every room and fully stocked minibars to ensure you are never more than a relaxed reach of the arm from a cool craft beer. Plus with a restaurant offering a range of mouth-watering dishes paired to beer (and featuring beer as an ingredient) there’s no reason to ever want to check out.”

New World Trading Company opens The Botanist on site of former JD Wetherspoon pub in Didsbury: Graphite Capital-backed pub restaurant group New World Trading Company (NWTC) has brought The Botanist brand to Didsbury, Manchester. The company has opened the venue on the site of former JD Wetherspoon pub The Milson Rhodes in School Lane, creating 50 jobs. The 4,500 square foot venue is the 12th site for The Botanist brand and 17th for NWTC in total. In February, the company said it planned to open six venues a year as part of a UK-wide roll-out – but only if the right sites became available. NWTC secured a £23m investment from NatWest to support its growth plans. Of this, £19m was part of a refinancing of the management buyout banking arrangements, with the remaining £4m contributing towards the roll-out of new sites nationally. NWTC was acquired by Graphite Capital for £50m in June with the management team, led by chief executive Chris Hill, reinvesting alongside the private equity firm for a stake in the business. The Botanist is inspired by all things botanical and the space will host live music with “daily evening gigs along with lazy Sunday afternoon sessions with a real home-from-home atmosphere”.

East Midlands-based hotel group went into administration owing £637,000, new report reveals: East Midlands-based hotel group Abbot Grange went into administration owing £637,394, according to a new report. The company, which owns 15-bedroom Bridge Hotel in Thrapston, and the grade II-listed Dovecliff Hall in Stretton, near Burton upon Trent, called in administrators from Duff & Phelps to run the pair of hotels in late February. The company owes more than £72,000 to HMRC, as well as another £60,247 to employees in unsecured loans and a further £72,000 in loans to other individuals, reports The Business Desk. Trade creditors make up a further £111,188 of debt, while those who were planning to have their weddings at the hotels have paid deposits of £190,498. When they were appointed in February, Matthew Ingram and Sarah Bell, of Duff & Phelps, said Dovecliff Hall and The Bridge Hotel would continue to trade normally, and would do so until a sale could be completed. Employees had been notified of the joint administrators’ appointment and advised it is business as normal until a buyer can be found. However, the future of the company remains unclear. Ingram said: “We are continuing to operate the hotels while we enter into discussions with potential purchasers. I can reassure customers they should notice little impact as a result of our appointment.”

Stonegate opens Slug and Lettuce in Plymouth: Stonegate Pub Company has opened its first Slug and Lettuce site in Plymouth. The company has opened the venue in Berkeley Square on the site of its former Berkeley Bar and Grill, which it has converted from its Classic Inns brand. The site is the first Slug and Lettuce south of Bath. The interiors have been updated throughout following the £400,000 refurbishment, with the addition of fresh pastel colours, more comfortable booths and seating, and the installation of two further bars. Slug and Lettuce area manager Phil Lightbody said: “The venue is looking absolutely fabulous. With stylish and bright decor, a large sophisticated bar, and a cocktail masterclass station, we’re certain the Slug and Lettuce Plymouth will become the go-to place for all occasions.”

Light Cinemas signs to anchor Nottingham shopping centre redevelopment: Light Cinemas is the first leisure anchor to sign for the redevelopment of the Intu Broadmarsh shopping centre in Nottingham. The operator has committed to a 32,000 square foot, nine-screen cinema on a 25-year lease, and will be positioned alongside other leisure units and restaurants, creating a new leisure hub in the south of the city. Light co-founder and chief executive Keith Pullinger said: “It’s important we focus our attention on great city centre locations where we’re able to capture the imagination of our customers through contemporary interior design which, in turn, creates an exciting environment and place to be.” Intu development director Martin Breeden added: “This is another important step forward for the transformation of Intu Broadmarsh. We visited a number of new cinemas the Light has opened across the UK and believe they offer a fresh approach with great service.” Intu said the redevelopment of Intu Broadmarsh would complement the existing retail and leisure offering at the Intu Victoria Centre as well as the wider city.

Pipers Crisps marks cricket competition sponsorship with deckchair offer: Pipers Crisps, stocked by a range of sector operators, is marking its sponsorship of cricket’s National Village Cup by giving consumers the chance to win one of 100 Pipers deckchairs. As part of a seasonal, on-pack promotion, there are 100 surprise cards hidden inside random packets of Pipers Crisps. Consumers who find a card in their packet can swap it for a deckchair. For foodservice outlets, pubs and bars, the on-pack promotion will be supported by social media activity and point-of-sale materials, including counter-top display units and beer mats.

St Austell Brewery rebrands wine division: Cornwall-based St Austell Brewery has rebranded its wine division. The dedicated division is now called St Austell Wines having previously been known as Walter Hicks Wines after the company’s founder. There is also a new look incorporating the heritage of the business. Photos from the archives have been coupled with bold designs to add flavour to the wine tasting notes. The new branding is unveiled in St Austell Wines’ 2017 brochure that features more than 750 wines. St Austell Brewery’s James Staughton, who is Hicks’ great-great-grandson, said: “Wine has always been at the heart of everything we do. We’re very proud of our roots and the new name and branding demonstrates the importance of the business as a key part of the St Austell Brewery family. We believe Walter’s entrepreneurialism, heritage and the independence of the company are true assets, which come together to form a story we want to shout about. After extensive research and insight, the launch of St Austell Wines boldly celebrates our past, and demonstrates our commitment to the future.” Founded in 1851, the brewery, which is still 100% independent and family owned, has grown into the largest wholesale distributor of beer, wine, spirits, cider and soft drinks in the south west. It also owns almost 170 pubs.

Seafood Pub Company continues expansion with second Yorkshire deal: Country inn, restaurant and pub group Seafood Pub Company has acquired The Fleece in Yorkshire as part of its expansion drive. The pub in Addingham village, West Yorkshire, is expected to reopen in early May following a £1.2m development programme, creating 25 jobs. The 5,000 square foot pub has room for 250 covers across its main restaurant, private dining, function room and outside terrace. The Fleece suffered a major fire in 2015 and the grade II-listed property is being fully renovated. Leased from Punch, it will be the first Seafood Pub Company venue to open in Yorkshire, closely followed by The Red Lion in Harrogate, acquired by the company in February and due to open in the summer. Seafood Pub Company is backed by Penta Capital and has 12 sites in Lancashire and Yorkshire. Founded by Joycelyn Neve in 2011, the company’s turnover now exceeds £11m. Seafood Pub Company executive chef Antony Shirley said: “We’ve got a fantastic brigade of chefs who will work with locals to create menus that include all their favourites and, of course, our signature seafood specials.” Neve added: “We are incredibly pleased to announce our second acquisition of 2017. We’ve had a really warm welcome from all the locals and look forward to serving our award-winning food to the people of Addingham and the neighbouring areas.”

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