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Fri 7th Apr 2017 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Wear Inns operations director launches new pubco: Scott Weir, operations director of Wear Inns, has launched new pubco Tees Inns, which has acquired its first pub in Stockton town centre. Weir, who has extensive experience in the industry having worked for Punch, Mitchells & Butlers and Spirit Group, told Propel: “Tees Inns is a new company and completely separate from Wear Inns. I am still involved with Wear Inns but have decided to also set up my own company, with the intention of growing Tees Inns over the next couple of years.” Weir has set up Tees Inns with local businessman Derek Kewley and has acquired The PoundPub, which was brought to market by agent Colliers International on behalf of Lancashire-based operator Here For You Hospitality as part of a package of ten pubs. It was looking for offers between £3m and £3.5m for the package. However, it would not disclose the individual price for the Stockton pub. Tees Inns is already planning expansion and is looking for more sites in the north east between Newcastle and Leeds. The PoundPub caused controversy when it opened in 2014 because of its cheap beer – £1 for a half and £1.50 for a pint. Weir told Gazette Live: “It is an exciting time to open in Stockton town centre as it has really transformed in recent years. Nightlife in the town is much improved and it is fast developing a friendly, cafe culture. We want to further add to that by creating a quality bar offering a range of cask and craft ales, lagers, cocktails and champagne, which will also double up as a cafe serving tea, coffee and light snacks during the day.” Stockton Council leader Bob Cook added: “We are delighted to now be working with a responsible owner who understands what we are trying to do in Stockton to ensure the town is vibrant and welcoming, in keeping with our Great British High Street Rising Star national award. We will be meeting with the new owner to hear more about his exciting plans.”

Industry News:

Finance and Investment Conference open for bookings: The Propel Finance and Investment Conference is open for bookings. Speakers will include Stephen Owens, director and head of corporate licensed valuation services at Christie & Co, who will provide an overview of the pub, restaurant, foodservice and hotel sector mergers and acquisitions landscape, current valuations in the market and the do’s and don’ts when attempting to attract investment or sell a hospitality business. He will also give an insight into the range of investors currently seeking to invest in the sector. Propel managing director Paul Charity will talk to investor Luke Johnson about his views on investment opportunities in the sector, valuations, his current set of investments and his views on sector prospects in the post-Brexit age. Meanwhile, Loungers co-founder Alex Reilley will talk about the successful investment in the company by Piper Private Equity, the dynamics of the relationship and growth in estate size and value during the period of investment, developing a high-quality management team, and the recent investment in the company by private equity company Lion Capital. See here for 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.

Businesses must have support and guidance on Apprenticeship Levy, says ALMR: The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) has called on the government to provide guidance and clarity for businesses affected by the Apprenticeship Levy. The ALMR said it would also work with its members to provide support and launch a training solution, the ALMR Diploma, later this year. The Apprenticeship Levy has now come into force and is applicable to all employers with a pay bill in excess of £3m per year. ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The ALMR had pushed for a delay in its implementation but that has not been forthcoming. The government now needs to make clarification a top priority so those businesses that are paying into the levy understand its function and can begin to access the benefits. We will be working closely with our members to ensure they understand the requirements and benefits of the scheme. The ALMR has been working closely with CPL Training, HIT Training, Remit Training and the BIIAB to produce the ALMR Diploma, a training solution to help retailers manage and navigate their way through the Apprenticeship Levy and maximise returns. In the meantime, the government needs to work to provide clarification and guidance for businesses to ensure they are not disadvantaged by a scheme that is supposed to support them.”

Birmingham’s visitor economy reaches record high: The importance of the visitor economy to Birmingham has been underlined by new data that reveals £1.6bn more is being spent in the city than five years ago. Revenue from tourism hit an all-time high of £6.5bn in 2016, up 5% on 2015 and 33% higher than 2011. During the past five years, the rate of growth in economic impact has been twice as fast as the increase in visitor numbers. The visitor economy now supports 70,365 full-time equivalent jobs – more than 10,000 than in 2011. The number of tourists visiting Birmingham continued its strong growth in 2016, reaching a record high of 39.1 million. The growth was driven by increasing numbers of tourists from key markets including India, the US and the Netherlands. Visitors from China – another priority market for the city – generated the highest amount of expenditure per head. Marketing Birmingham chief executive Neil Rami told The Business Desk: “Both domestic and international tourism peaked at a record high in 2016. The strength of Birmingham’s visitor economy is not only boosting the city’s reputation as a leisure destination across the globe, it is also attracting further investment into the city’s transport routes and infrastructure.” The data was published by Marketing Birmingham’s research arm the Regional Observatory and tourism research body Global Tourism Solutions.

Company News:

Derby Brewing Co bids to raise £1.2m in crowdfunding campaign to support expansion: Derby-based brewer and retailer Derby Brewing Co plans to raise up to £1.2m on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to support its expansion plans. The company, founded by Trevor Harris in 2004, is set to offer an equity stake of up to 10% in return for the investment, with the campaign due to go live “in the next few weeks”. The funding would support the expansion of the brewery, the launch of a new craft range and the addition of a new venue to its four-strong estate. The company operates The Tap, a specialist beer and spirit house with more than 75 beers and ciders and more than 70 spirits, in Derby; The Queen’s Head gastro-pub in Little Eaton; smoked food and craft house concept The Greyhound in Derby; and The Kedleston Country House, a bar, restaurant, boutique hotel and wedding venue in Quarndon. The company, which employs more than 100 staff, said it had experienced “unprecedented” growth of more than 700% since its launch. Managing director Paul Harris said: “Our goal is to make 2017 a big year, launching our new craft range, developing our venues, opening a new site, as well as sharing our great beers with the world. There are many options for continued growth across a number of markets. Over the years it has been quite a ride and we love the idea of as many people as possible being part of what we are doing, being part of our exciting plans and, of course, enjoying a few beers along the way!” Trevor Harris added: “It’s incredible to see the continued evolution of the business. We love the idea of the people of Derby and further afield becoming part of our exciting plans.”

Hot Pot opens debut UK site in Chinatown London: Thai hot pot specialists Hot Pot has opened its debut UK site, in Chinatown London. The 148-cover, 4,240 square foot restaurant has opened in Wardour Street, with a focus on catering to larger groups. The venue features botanical-inspired wall coverings, antique mirrors, polished-brass palm wall-lights, jade tiles and linen table lamps. Hot Pot operates more than 140 sites in Thailand, where the concept was founded. Simmering Thai hot pots are presented at the table using sustainably sourced ingredients. Jerry Taechaubol, of Hot Pot, said: “Hot Pot has traditionally been a coming together for people of all ages – a cheerful activity that allows family and friends to gather around the pot and take their time to create, celebrate and socialise. We are delighted to bring this way of eating to the UK and introduce an ancient tradition in a modern environment. Importantly, we are proud to be part of Chinatown London and be surrounded by many unique food choices.” Taiwanese restaurant and bar concept Xu and Greek-Turkish concept Hovarda will add to the restaurant line-up in Chinatown London later this year. Earlier this month, waffle cone brand Bubblewrap and healthy fast food chain Leon both opened at the development. Davis Coffer Lyons represented Chinatown London landlord Shaftesbury during the deal, while Hot Pot represented itself.

Revolution Bars Group gets go-ahead for Solihull site: Revolution Bars Group, the operator of 66 premium bars across the UK under the Revolution and Revolución de Cuba brands, has been given the go-ahead for a site in Solihull, West Midlands. The company has been granted permission by Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council to convert the former Jimmy Spices restaurant in Station Road into a Revolution bar. The restaurant ceased trading in June last year and, prior to that, the site was occupied by a Yates’s Wine Lodge. Revolution Bars Group will refurbish the unit to provide bar areas and seating on the ground and first floors. A retractable roof will also be erected to provide external seating, reports Insider Media.

Living Ventures refused licence to launch Alchemist in Nottingham: Living Ventures has been refused permission to open an Alchemist in Nottingham. The company applied to the city council for a licence to operate at a site occupied by All Saints clothing store just off Pelham Street. However, the council’s licensing committee has turned down the application because it “could lead to alcohol-related crime in the city centre”. It said the venue was planned in a “saturation zone”, which means no new licensing premises can open unless it proves crime rates in the area would be unaffected, reports The Business Desk. The Nottingham site would have been the first Alchemist in the East Midlands and added to Living Ventures’ presence in the city following the opening of a Gusto restaurant in West Bridgford. Living Ventures operates Alchemist sites in Alderley Edge, Birmingham, Leeds (two venues), Liverpool, London, Manchester (two venues), and Newcastle.

Red Dog Saloon to open first northern venue, in Liverpool this month, sixth site: Red Dog Saloon is to continue its expansion by opening its first site in the north, in Liverpool this month. The £1.2m restaurant in Bold Street will be the sixth Red Dog Saloon in total when it opens on the site of former nightclub Republik, creating 70 jobs. The American barbecue-style concept offers ribs, wings, pulled pork and burgers using aromatic hickory wood in its US-imported smokers. However, the restaurant will offer a new menu that will feature cocktails, bottled beer, tequila, bourbon, bottomless brunch and belly-busting food challenges. Red Dog Saloon owner Tom Brookes told the Liverpool Echo: “Liverpool is a fun, energetic city with a thriving independent scene that perfectly reflects Red Dog Saloon’s personality. We feel we offer something different to other barbecue restaurants in the city. We are a family-run business that is passionate about the food we serve and the fun, unpretentious party atmosphere we create for our customers.” The company operates three London restaurants – in Soho, Clapham and Hoxton Square – and others in Southampton and Nottingham.

Hollywood Bowl signs for Intu Watford extension: Hollywood Bowl, the UK’s largest ten-pin bowling operator, has signed to open a site at the new multimillion-pound extension at Intu Watford. The 23,626 square foot site will be Hollywood Bowl’s third at an Intu shopping centre, with a site about to open at Intu Derby and one of its largest venues due to launch at Intu Lakeside in 2018. The 400,000 square foot extension at Watford will create a 1.4 million square foot retail and leisure destination when it opens next year. A total of 66% of the space at the extension has now been let, with restaurants including Thai Leisure Group brand Thaikun, TGI Friday’s and YO! Sushi confirmed, as well as a Cineworld cinema. Hollywood Bowl Group chief financial officer Laurence Keen said: “We are really looking forward to working with Intu on the launch of a new state-of-the-art entertainment venue. Alongside Intu Derby and Intu Lakeside, we continue to find great opportunities to expand our family offering to new audiences.” Earlier this week, Hollywood Bowl Group reported total revenue growth of 7.8% and like-for-like revenue growth of 1.2% in the first half of the financial year to 31 March.

D&D London launches Italian trattoria Radici with Francesco Mazzei: Restaurant operator D&D London has converted its Almeida restaurant in Islington into a traditional Italian trattoria in partnership with chef Francesco Mazzei. Radici, which translates as “roots”, reflects the Calabrian cuisine of Mazzei’s heritage and also includes dishes from southern Italian regions Campania, Puglia, Sicily and Sardinia. An evolving menu offers charcuterie and cheese, as well as Mazzei’s favourite dishes from his homeland. Pizza and bread is baked in a traditional wood-fired oven and, in true Italian style, there is a family feasting menu on Sundays. The kitchen is run by Antonio Mazzone, who has been Mazzei’s right-hand man for more than a decade. The main restaurant and bar leads to a wine room, private dining room and terrace. Mazzei said: “I have lived in Islington for over 20 years and hope this relaxed neighbourhood restaurant becomes part of the community and a go-to venue for authentic southern Italian food.” In late 2015, D&D London reopened its Sartoria site in Savile Row with Mazzei at the helm as chef patron, where he will continue his role. D&D London owns and operates restaurants in London, Leeds, Paris, New York and Tokyo and the 80-bedroom South Place Hotel in London.

Ribble Valley Inns gets approval to add ten rooms to make Cheshire pub viable: Ribble Valley Inns has had its plans approved to construct an annexe at the Stag’s Head in Little Warford, Cheshire, to create ten bedrooms. The company said if planning permission to construct the detached building wasn’t granted, the scheme would not be financially viable and could result in the building in Mill Lane remaining vacant. Ribble Valley Inns acquired the pub in 2013 and feared its plans would be rejected as the building lies within the green belt. The council received representations from 45 properties regarding the planning application, the majority in support of the pub reopening. Cllr Craig Browne told Wilmslow.co.uk: “The members wished to help the Stag’s Head become economically viable once more.” Ribble Valley Inns is part of Northcote Group, co-founded by Nigel Haworth and Craig Bancroft.

Michelin-trained chef launches chicken and liquor concept Stagolee’s in Fulham: Texan Ashley James, who trained under Michelin-starred chef Tom Aikens, and Tennessean Jordan Harris have launched chicken and liquor concept Stagolee’s in Fulham, south west London. The venue in North End Road offers “quintessentially southern American food and liquor”, specialising in fiery hot chicken and bourbon, with staple dishes such as skillet-fried chicken, hot spinach dip, and baked mac ‘n’ cheese. Stagolee’s drinks menu includes liquor, beer and cocktails inspired by US southern states, including a range of moonshine.

Nando’s and Tony Macaroni sign for split Clydebank unit: Nando’s and Scottish restaurant company Tony Macaroni have signed to open sites in Clyde Shopping Centre in Clydebank. West Dunbartonshire Council has approved a change of use for the Harry Corry store, between Domino’s Pizza and McDonald’s, with the 921 square metre unit split into two restaurants, with full-height glass windows and doors, external seating in front of each unit, and a wider footway. About 80 jobs will be created by the two stores. Damon Scott, chief executive of Dunbartonshire Chamber of Commerce, told the Clydebank Post: “The addition of an international chain like Nando’s and Scottish brand Tony Macaroni should be a positive one. Both have a good reputation, brand strength and pulling power.” Tony Macaroni operates ten eponymous restaurants in Scotland and one venue in Glasgow under its pizza concept Mozza, with its St Andrews site also being rebranded as Mozza. Nando’s operates more than 1,000 restaurants across the globe, with almost 300 in the UK and Ireland.

PizzaExpress adds to London portfolio with Gloucester Road restaurant: PizzaExpress has added to its portfolio in London by opening a restaurant in Gloucester Road. The restaurant, which has created 30 jobs, draws its inspiration from the building’s former use as a bank and its proximity to the National History Museum. It features tan leather upholstered banquette seating throughout and oak parquet flooring. The central pizzaiola kitchen includes a white carrara marble worktop with tiling fixed in a brick-bound pattern, which reflects the walls of the hidden vaults in the building’s basement. Bespoke artwork features patterns and textures of bank notes, alongside images of fossils, rocks, minerals and botanicals. There are also 3D pieces throughout, including copper coins that form abstract patterns mounted on oak blocks. PizzaExpress has more than 400 restaurants across the UK, including almost 100 in the capital.

Harrogate-based restaurant Norse to move into own home this weekend following crowdfunding campaign: Nordic-influenced restaurant Norse will move into its own home in Harrogate on Saturday (8 April) having previously raised £50,000 through a crowdfunding campaign. Founded by Paul Rawlinson in 2014, the restaurant has been sharing a space with his Scandi-inspired cafe Baltzersen’s. Now Norse is moving to its own home in Swan Road at the former Wild/Mirabelle site after hitting its £50,000 stretch target on the Kickstarter crowdfunding platform. The new space will feature 40 covers and Norse will have a lunchtime menu for the first time alongside its usual evening offer. Rawlinson said: “I think we got to the point where co-existing with the cafe team was becoming more and more challenging while the equipment, working conditions and dining room were also limiting what we could provide for guests.”

Great British Menu judge Andi Oliver opens debut restaurant: Great British Menu judge Andi Oliver has opened her debut restaurant – in Stoke Newington, north London, with business partner Kelly Miles. Andi’s has launched in Stoke Newington Church Street offering “uplifting, sunny brunches throughout the day” and transforming into a “cosy, intimate brasserie in the evening”. House specials include a French toast bacon sandwich with maple syrup and Andi’s Reuben, a sandwich stacked with home-cured salt beef, sauerkraut and melted Swiss cheese. Andi’s also offers variations on classic baked eggs – served in a choice of chipotle, green herb or roast garlic and onion cream sauce – and energy bowls packed with braised pulses, green leaves, roast seasonal vegetables and avocado mash. Oliver said: “Our food will uplift the spirit and calm the heart.” Oliver and Miles have been operating a Sugar Shack residency at the Jackdaw & Star in Homerton for the past two years and put The Birdcage in Columbia Road on the London celebrity party map. Oliver regularly appears on the panel of Radio 4’s The Kitchen Cabinet alongside host Jay Rayner, Angela Hartnett and Henry Dimbleby.

BrewDog to make Estonia debut next week: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog is to open its 13th international bar next week, this time in Estonia. The new venue will open in the capital, Tallinn, on Friday, 14 April in the heart of the city between the old town and the 10th century harbour. BrewDog Tallinn will offer beer from 13 taps, alongside a range of global craft beer, cider and spirits. The company stated in its blog: “The amazing building is a fitting location for a bar devoted to craft beer as in its former life it was a grain elevator – you can sit and enjoy a beer while staring up at the original grain hoppers in the ceiling! The bar also features a cool glass partition into the cellar.” Earlier this week, BrewDog rehired PR company Manifest as it targets further international growth.

Plans revealed for £20m leisure development in Grimsby featuring seven restaurants: Plans have been unveiled for a £20m leisure development in Grimsby featuring seven restaurants and a nine-screen cinema. The proposed scheme is an extension to the shopping centre and will be known as Freshney Place Riverhead. It is set to go to public consultation next week with a planning application expected to be submitted by May. If approved, construction is expected to take 28 months. Development director Maurice Fitzgerald told Lincolnshire Business: “The project will provide a boost to the evening economy and a quality offer. Both the centre owners and proposed tenants have undertaken extensive market research to ensure the proposals meet demand to ensure a successful scheme.” Cllr Peter Wheatley, North East Lincolnshire Council portfolio holder for regeneration, skills and housing, added: “This development is a very important step forward in the regeneration of Grimsby town centre and north east Lincolnshire, and we’re pleased to see the developers taking the next steps.”

Young’s reopens Exeter pub following £1m refurbishment: London pub retailer Young’s has reopened The City Gate Hotel in Exeter following a £1m refurbishment. The company has revamped the St David’s Hill venue, which closed at the end of January for the refit. The garden has been divided into two sections – the first for customers who can order from the regular pub menu, while the other section houses Young’s Burger Shack concept. Other changes include the removal of a centrepiece fountain in the garden to allow for additional seating, while the downstairs area has become a craft beer and cocktail bar, reports Devon Live. The 14 bedrooms have also been refurbished. The City Gate Hotel opened in 2003, when £1.3m was invested into the former Crown & Sceptre pub.

Wok&Go lines up third Liverpool site: UK noodle bar brand Wok&Go is lining up its third Liverpool site. The company has earmarked the former BBC shop in Hannover Street for its latest venue. Liverpool ONE owner Grosvenor has applied to the city council for permission to convert the property, reports Your Move. A planning statement with the application said: “The proposal seeks to change the use of the vacant unit to allow Wok&Go to occupy it. The plans will not increase the footprint of the building. Restaurants have an important role to play in terms of enhancing a centre’s vitality and viability as they form part of the primary shopping area to enhance the customer experience.” Wok&Go has 25 sites across the UK, including its other two venues in Liverpool – in Bold Street and next to Liverpool Central station.

JD Wetherspoon opens St Ives pub: JD Wetherspoon has opened its latest pub, in St Ives, Cambridgeshire, creating 60 jobs. The Swan & Angel is in Market Hill and specialises in real ale alongside craft and world beer, and a wide range of draught and bottled beers, including ales from local and regional brewers. A Wetherspoon spokesman told the Cambridge News: “The pub is named after two of St Ives’ long-lost pubs, which were marked on an early 18th century map of the town. The Swan and The Angel served the weekly livestock market. Historical photos and details, as well as artwork and images of local scenes and characters of the area, will be displayed in the pub, together with information boards relating to local history, including the cattle market. The design of the pub reflects traditional pub values, as well as the site history within the town.”

Plans approved for £30m ski centre in Middlesbrough: Outline plans to build a £30m ski centre near the Riverside Stadium in Middlesbrough have been approved. Cool Runnings (NE) is behind the project, which is earmarked for land south of Scott’s Road in Middlehaven. The 210,635 square foot scheme would comprise two ski slopes, a nursery slope and a main slope for more accomplished skiers. It would also include an ice-climbing wall, soft play area, trampolines, and retail and restaurant space. The application, approved by Middlesbrough Council, stated the nature of the development meant the resulting building would be “relatively large and very visible”. However, given its location this would be “entirely appropriate”, reports Insider Media. A report before the meeting stated: “Modern, niche leisure developments such as snow centres have the ability to act as a major driving force for urban development, changing places into destinations, which has been recognised in other parts of the UK. Many benefits, to both the council and the wider town, can be realised through the scheme such as increased business rates, a new restaurant and leisure offering, secondary opportunities and investor interest on the back of the snow centre being established. The council has already had a series of enquiries for additional leisure development in proximity to the snow centre, which is an indication of the ability of such a development to attract new investment.”

Tennent’s secures deal to help licensees in Scotland challenge new business rates: Beer brand Tennent’s, which is owned by C&C Group, has agreed a deal to help licensees in Scotland challenge new business rates, which come into effect this year. The company has secured a preferential fee scale from rating expert Shepherd Surveyors for any Tennent’s customer who wishes to pursue an appeal. Tennent’s said increased rates would place significant pressure on businesses, with some being charged tens of thousands of pounds extra compared with last year. Initial appeal reviews with Shepherd Surveyors are to be arranged through Tennent's direct. If successful, and based on relief arrangements as they stand, Tennent's customers will be charged at an agreed preferential fee scale with Shepherd Surveyors. Deadline for appeals is Saturday, 30 September. Tennent’s sales director Alan Hay said: “We are committed to supporting operators at all levels and that, of course, extends to business rates.”

M&B converts Orchid site in Birmingham to Sizzling Pizza & Carvery brand: Mitchells & Butlers has converted its Orchid site in Perry Barr, Birmingham, to its Sizzling Pizza & Carvery brand. The company has reopened the Church Tavern in Church Road following a 14-day, £180,000 refurbishment as part of a review of its estate. The pub, which has retained its children’s play area, now offers 16 homemade stonebaked pizzas as well as a carvery. A spokesman for Sizzling Pubs told the Great Barr Observer: “The Church Tavern has added a variety of new dishes and its celebrated sizzling skillets with 21-day aged prime steaks can now be topped with one of six steak toppers.

Heavitree Brewery puts pub on outskirts of Exeter up for sale: Heavitree Brewery, the Exeter-based tenanted pub operator, has put the Crown and Sceptre pub on the outskirts of the city up for sale. The pub, in the village of Newton St Cyres, is being marketed by agent Bettesworths for offers of about £400,000. The main bar has circa 30 covers with another 28 in the dining area. There is also a games area and first-floor four-bedroom accommodation, reports Devon Live. The advert states: “The pub is currently run under temporary management and has huge potential for a new operator to capitalise on a significant catchment area and grow trade to its previously high level of turnover.”

Yorkshire-based Bengal Brasserie opens fifth site and third in Leeds: Yorkshire-based Indian restaurant Bengal Brasserie has opened its fifth site – and third in Leeds. The company, which also has sites in Wetherby and York, has opened the 120-cover restaurant in Merrion Way. The new venue marks a seven-figure investment in premises, staff and fit-out of the 3,600 square foot site, bringing total investment by the business to £2m. Managing director Malik Dobir told The Business Desk: “The new restaurant is our largest and the location is ideally situated close to the Merrion Way leisure venues and the Leeds Arena, which has really boosted the north of the city centre in recent years.”

Greene King closes Hitchin pub: Brewer and retailer Greene King has sold The Red Hart in Hitchin, Hertfordshire, to an unnamed buyer. The pub in Bucklersbury is the oldest in the town dating to about 1500 and was the scene of the last public hanging in Hitchin. A Greene King spokesman told the Comet: “To be able to continue to invest in our estate, from time to time we have to make the difficult decision to sell pubs. After much consideration, we decided to put The Red Hart on the market and have now found a buyer. The pub has closed and we are working with the team there to find them alternative employment where possible at our other nearby pubs.”

Meantime Brewing Company launches first canned range: Meantime Brewing Company, which was acquired in June 2015 for £120m by SAB Miller, which later sold the business on to Asahi Holdings, has launched its first canned range. Three flagship beers – London Lager, London Pale Ale and Yakima Red – are available in 330ml cans nationwide across the on and off-trade. Meantime brewmaster Ciaran Giblin said: “We’ve seen cans grow rapidly in popularity over the past few years and our drinkers and customers have been patiently waiting for us to launch our range in cans too. We’ve always been passionate about making proper beer the go-to choice for British drinkers, and we’re excited to say they’re now able to get their hands on it in can!”

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