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Wed 12th Apr 2017 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day: 

UK coffee shop market expected to grow 29% in next five years to £4.3bn: The UK coffee market is expected to grow 29% over the next five years with sales forecast to reach £4.3bn, according to new research. The findings by Mintel also showed the market has grown 37% in the past five years – from £2.4bn in 2011 to £3.4bn in 2016. Between 2015 and 2016 sales increased 10.4% – the biggest year-on-year boost witnessed in the past five years. The research showed two-thirds (65%) of all Brits have visited a coffee shop in the past three months. Coffee shop usage peaks among consumers aged 16 to 24 (73%). However, in a space traditionally dominated by specialist coffee retailers, it is notable as many as 44% of Brits buy their hot drinks from non-specialists. Overall, just one-fifth (19%) of the nation does not drink tea, coffee or other hot drinks out of the home. Meanwhile, half (51%) of coffee drinkers prefer to drink hot drinks at home rather than out-of-home, including 55% of men and 47% of women. The research also revealed almost nine in ten (87%) coffee drinkers try to dispose of their packaging waste in recycling bins. Six in ten (58%) would like coffee shops to offer a discount to customers using their own travel mugs. Furthermore, four in ten (40%) said they do not mind being charged extra for hot drinks served in 100% recyclable coffee cups, and 30% would prefer to pay for filtered water instead of buying bottled water. Mintel foodservice analyst Trish Caddy said: “Britain’s appetite for coffee shops continues. Much of the growth we’ve seen in recent years is driven by habitual coffee drinkers and the continually increasing number of coffee retailers that have become ubiquitous on British high streets. A raft of non-specialist venues that feature barista-style coffee on their menus with takeaway functions are grabbing a slice of the coffee shop market. In the future, the top end of the market will continue to face intense competition from big pub chains, fast food chains and bakery shops that have now encroached on the coffee shop market, competing in terms of price, convenience and even geographical reach. The concerted efforts of coffee shops to cut down on coffee cup waste, following the recent documentary Hugh’s War on Waste, puts them at a competitive advantage by highlighting the fact the sector as a whole feels obliged to be more ethical. The fact half of coffee drinkers prefer to drink hot drinks at home could suggest the range of beverages for at-home consumption may, in fact, be so well established in the retail channel more consumers can now recreate the coffee shop experience without having to leave the comforts of home.”

Industry News:

Host of operators sign up for US Restaurant Franchise Forum: A host of UK operators have signed up to attend the US Restaurant Franchise Forum, with attendance free courtesy of CPL Training, which has become headline sponsor of the event. Attendees include Boparan, Star Pubs & Bars, TGI Friday’s, Chozen, Fulham Shore, Beds and Bars, Yummy Collection, The MSG Group, SSP, Young’s, Pret A Manger, Distinct Group, HMS Partnership, Hungerdog, BRGR Co, Triangle Pub Company and Black and White Hospitality. The half-day 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. CPL Training chief executive Dan Davies said: “We are delighted to sponsor this important seminar to allow operators to attend for free.” The 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. Operators can claim up to two free places by emailing anne.steele@propelinfo.com.

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.

BrewDog boss responds to ‘sell-out’ claims: James Watt, of Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog, has responded to claims he and fellow co-founder Martin Dickie have “sold-out” after selling a 22% stake in the company to American private equity giant TSG Consumer Partners. Watt and Dickie, who regularly herald BrewDog’s punk ideals and outsider ethics, could pocket as much as £100m in the deal after TSG bought the stake for £213m, giving the brewer an enterprise value of £1bn. However, Watt hailed the deal as “great for our Equity Punks (investors)”, who will get an opportunity to sell 15% of their shares (capped at 40 shares per investor) at the £1bn valuation. Watt wrote on the BrewDog blog: “Assumptions might be made about BrewDog ‘selling out’ but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Martin and myself still control the company and remain the largest shareholders. TSG is also completely aligned with our stance on independence, and this remains entrenched in our articles of association. The deal is also great for our Equity Punks. At the £1bn valuation, shares purchased in Equity for Punks I, which closed in February 2010, are now worth 2,800% of their original value. Even craft beer fans who invested in Equity for Punks IV last year have seen the value of their shareholding increase by 177%. Our new partnership with TSG is also a validation of our crowdfunding model. Crowdfunding can no longer be viewed as alternative finance; this is the democratisation of finance. Equity Punks will be contacted next week with the opportunity to sell 15% of their shares (capped at 40 shares per investor) at the £1bn valuation. We will also offer a beery dividend alternative to our Equity Punks. This investment will allow us to accelerate our mission while we continue to invest in the two things we care about most – our beer and our people. We’re not going to let the deal go to our heads, but Martin did buy himself a new jumper.”

AA takes over VisitEngland quality assurance scheme after contract finalised: The AA has taken over the running of VisitEngland’s quality assessment and star-rating scheme after the contract was finalised. It follows a delay on the initial signing of the contract because of disagreements. The deadline for the three-year contract was originally meant to be finalised on 1 April. VisitEngland chief executive Sally Balcome told Hotel Owner: “I am delighted to announce this contract, which guarantees the standards and expectations our scheme participants have come to expect while maintaining continuity of service and also matching our ambitions to develop the schemes further and add value.” AA head of hotel services Andrew Oxley added: “For the past 20 years we have worked together closely in developing the common standards, and we now look forward to supporting VisitEngland’s aims of helping a wide range of tourism businesses grow in quality and profitability.” Despite the contract, the VisitEngland Quality Assessments Schemes will continue to run separately from the AA’s current assessment schemes and participants will be able to choose between the two. The AA and VisitEngland follow the same common standards for assessments, and the new contract will have no effect on current accolades and ratings acquired by participants. However, some hotel operators have accused the government of creating a “monopoly” by allowing the AA to operate both assessment schemes.

BII reveals Licensee of the Year semi-finalists: The British Institute of Innkeeping (BII), the leading professional body for the UK’s licensees, has revealed the 16 semi-finalists for the 2017 Licensee of the Year awards. More than 200 licensees entered this year’s competition with those in the industry encouraged to not only register themselves but nominate others, with customers, colleagues, pub companies, brewers and operators all nominating their favourite “local”. The 16 semi-finalists are Paul Wiscombe – The Anchor Inn, Bridport; Nicola Storey – The Mustard Pot, Leeds; Martin Barnes – George and Dragon, Cheshire; Mark and Clare Higgs – Castle at Edgehill, Edgehill; Clive Price – Bletchingly Arms, Redhill; Chantelle Tupman-John – Waggon Inn, Oldham; Tim Tomlinson – Merchants 1688, Lancashire; Jennifer Kuhn – The Windsor Fenchurch, London; Mark Anderson – Ruddington Arms, Ruddington; Ian Ridley – The Highlands, Uckfield; Mark Thornhill – The Kings Head, Hursley; Tania Irwin – The Princess Royal, Farnham; Roland and Kay Keech – The Castle, Bedford; Gavin and Carole Austin – George and Dragon, Arundel; Sam Good – The West Bay Hotel, Bridport; and Hendrik and Julie Dutson – The White Horse, Banbury. Judges will now visit and assess the licensees to assess their pubs and conduct one-to-one interviews, with six entrants going through to the final panel judging day on Monday, 12 June, where they will be put through their paces by industry experts in three areas – marketing and business development, financial awareness, and people development. All six finalists will be presented with a trophy at the BII Summer Event on Tuesday, 13 June, where the winner of Licensee of the Year 2017 will be crowned.

FSA promotes Jason Feeney to chief executive: The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has promoted Jason Feeney to chief executive. Feeney had been chief operating officer since joining the FSA in January 2015. He has extensive experience in the civil service, including various senior roles with the Department for Work and Pensions as well as a two-year secondment to the NHS executive working on GP remuneration and primary care funding. FSA chairman Heather Hancock said: “We know Jason has a strong track record of delivering complex change across sectors, and that leadership expertise is what set him apart from a very strong field of industry and public sector applicants. I very much look forward to working with Jason to address the implications and opportunities for food regulation as the UK leaves the European Union, and to deliver on our ambition to modernise regulation, all while maintaining the high level of public confidence in the work of the FSA.”

Company News:

Merseyside-based multi-site operator Paul Adams to open Asian fusion restaurant in Liverpool on Friday: Merseyside-based multi-site operator Paul Adams is to open his new Asian fusion restaurant concept in Liverpool on Friday (14 April). Adams will launch Vincent Asian Kitchen in Bold Street on the site of the former Linen Warehouse store. The food will be served in disposable bowls with a choice of six layers, which can include rice, meat, fish and sauces. Consumers will be able to choose to take their meals away or dine inside. Head of operations Alan Richmond told the Liverpool Echo: “The restaurant will be serving Asian bowl food, which will all be gluten, wheat and dairy-free. We believe this is bang on trend and is becoming more and more what people want.” Adams also runs Southport’s Vincent Hotel and its sister operation, the Vincent Cafe & Cocktail Bar at Liverpool’s Exchange Flags. He is also behind plans for a new boutique hotel in the city.

Marco Pierre White opens restaurant in home city of Leeds: Celebrity chef Marco Pierre White has opened his first restaurant in his home city of Leeds. Pierre White has opened Marco’s New York Italian on the ground floor of the 134-bedroom Ibis Styles Hotel at the Merrion Centre. The 4,000 square foot restaurant has 90 covers and is operated by Pierre White’s franchised business Black and White Hospitality. Edward Ziff, chairman and chief executive of Town Centre Securities, the owners of the hotel and restaurant complex as well as the Merrion Centre, told The Business Desk: “The arrival of the Ibis Styles hotel and Marco’s New York Italian marks another major step forward for the Merrion Centre and the Arena Quarter’s rapid renaissance. We’re confident both the hotel and restaurant will be a success and play a key part in Leeds’ position as a renowned tourism, business and leisure hot spot.” Pierre White’s franchised restaurant estate, which comprises Wheeler’s of St James’s, Steakhouse Bar & Grill, Mr White’s English Chophouse, Marco’s New York Italian, and Bardolino Pizzeria, Bellini & Espresso Bar, is set to hit 40 sites this year, including his first Welsh site – in Cardiff – opening in July.

The Chilli Pickle passes 50% mark in £700,000 crowdfunding campaign to open four sites: Award-winning Indian restaurant The Chilli Pickle, based in Brighton, has passed the 50% mark in its fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Growthdeck to raise £700,000 to open four further sites in south east England. The company, owned by Alun and Dawn Sperring, is offering a 23% equity stake in return for the investment. So far, 12 investors have pledged £357,000. The first site was established in 2008, moving in 2011 to a much larger, 115-cover site in Brighton’s Jubilee Street. The single-site operation generates more than £2.2m of sales and is profitable with circa £300,000 of takeaway sales. Investors have been told a sale of the business is expected in mid-2021, with five sites generating £1.3m Ebitda before central costs with the eventual buyer assumed to pay nine times site Ebitda. Investors in The Chilli Pickle are offered the prospect of a 5.3 times money return – 57.5% internal rate of return (IRR) – increasing to 7.6 times (65.8% IRR) after taking account of initial 30% income tax relief. The pitch states: “The Chilli Pickle concept is established and now ripe for roll-out. It is planned to open four new 80 to 120-cover restaurants in south east market towns over the next three years, with the Brighton hub acting as an academy for new managers and chefs. The first new site is planned to be a new-build unit in the centre of a market town. Chilli Pickle is finalising design plans to fit-out a 95-cover restaurant at a total cost of circa £700,000, of which circa 40% will be funded by the landlord. The Chilli Pickle expects to open this site in June/July. Chilli Pickle is considering Tunbridge Wells, Worthing, Winchester, Hastings and Oxford as possible locations for the additional three new sites. These units are forecast to open in June 2018, June 2019 and January 2020.”

Talented Mr Fox founder launches Shoreditch bar with focus on British ingredients: Cocktail guru Matt Whiley, founder of London-based drinks company Talented Mr Fox, has launched Scout in Shoreditch, east London. The new bar in Great Eastern Street aims to “shift the way we think about cocktails and drinks” by championing seasonal British ingredients. The drinks list will change regularly as produce from farmers and growers comes in and out of season. Scout features ten cocktails, five house ferments, five beers – one brewed in-house – and a small selection of natural wines. Sustainability is another key focus, with every usable part of an ingredient incorporated to cut waste. The snacks menu features dishes such as toasted sourdough with house kohlrabi, sauerkraut and London coppa. In addition to the ground-floor bar, Scout also features The Lab – a ten-seat private area offering an exclusive menu of daily changing drinks and a first look at cocktails in development. The space also hosts tastings and mixology masterclasses as part of a monthly events programme.

Whitbread selects Swansea as site for second Costa Coffee ‘eco pod’: Whitbread has announced its second Costa Coffee carbon neutral “eco pod” will form part of Hammerson’s £15m regeneration of Parc Tawe leisure complex in Swansea. The 2,002 square foot unit will be the second eco pod Hammerson has delivered, following its debut at Wrekin Retail Park in Telford in 2015, Property Week reports. The concept features environmentally friendly building design and energy saving technology such as underfloor heating and solar panels. The revamp of Parc Tawe includes the addition of a further four restaurants, five retail units and a food store. Last year, Whitbread announced it would build four eco pods after the Telford debut site delivered “significant” energy savings. Meanwhile, Whitbread has signed with the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) for its “blue tick” to appear on menus at 635 of its sites certifying seafood has been responsibly caught. The label can already be found in a number of Premier Inns but the move by Whitbread will result in a 27% overall increase of MSC-certificated sites in Britain. Whitbread director of sustainability James Pitcher said: “We hope this will be a landmark step in helping set standards across the industry. The MSC’s certification and eco-labelling programme enables everybody to play a part in securing a healthy future for our oceans.”

Humble Grape reveals Islington location for third London site: Humble Grape, the wine bar and shop concept founded by James Dawson, has leased a store in Islington for its third London site, Property Week reports. It has been assigned the leasehold interest of a 1,744 square foot, ground-floor and basement site in Theberton Street that was formerly occupied by Tinto restaurant. A premium has been paid for the premises held on a 25-year lease from August 2000 at a passing rent of £55,000 per annum. The site will offer wine to take away or drink on-site accompanied by food. Rob Meadows, director at Davis Coffer Lyons, which advised the outgoing tenant on the deal, said: “The new premises are in a fantastic location, just off Upper Street, close to numerous other leisure operations. I’m sure it will be a fantastic site for them.” Last week, Humble Grape passed its £1m target on crowdfunding platform Seedrs to fund expansion. The company is offering a 9.08% equity stake in return for the investment as it looks to become a 20-site brand by 2021/22. The campaign has so far raised £1,058,120 from 375 investors and is currently “overfunding”. The Islington venue and a fourth Humble Grape site, which will open in London in August, are already fully funded, with funds raised from the campaign going towards opening sites five and six and growing the Wine Club, Wine Bank and online sales. The company opened its first venue in Battersea in 2015 and a second in Fleet Street the following year.

Gloucestershire-based Quality Inns acquires eighth pub: Gloucestershire-based Quality Inns has acquired its eighth pub. The company, founded by Easton and Alison Hogben in 1985, has taken on the Seven Stars in Dartmouth, which is owned by Wellington Pub Company. Quality Inns has agreed a new free-of-tie lease through agents Bettesworths. The grade II-listed building in Smith Street, which dates to the 16th century, is undergoing refurbishment ahead of reopening by the summer. It will retain a traditional bar selling craft ale and cider, while the new first-floor restaurant will offer a menu of modern British food complemented by a choice of quality wines. The six bespoke en-suite letting rooms will complete the refurbishment, reports Devon Live. Quality Inns’ other pubs include the Floating Bridge Inn, also in Dartmouth, and The Frocester George in Frocester, Gloucestershire. The company also operates two caravan parks.

Gail’s Bakery signs for Ealing development: Gail’s Artisan Bakery, which is backed by sector investor Luke Johnson, is to open a site at the Dickens Yard development in Ealing, west London. The company has agreed a deal with developer St George and will join restaurant Charlotte’s W5, which opened at the complex in February. The new venue will open in autumn 2018, alongside high-end fashion retailer Jigsaw. Gail’s sells loaves, including Gail’s French dark sourdough, mixed olive sourdough, quinoa sourdough, and honey and almond sourdough. It also specialises in pastries, cakes, yogurt pots, seasonal soups, sandwiches, salads and quiches. A hot brunch menu is served until 3pm. Co-founder Tom Molnar told Ealing Today: “Ealing is a great community and we’ll look forward to baking in Dickens Yard.” Dickens Yard is centred around a landscaped public square. On completion in 2019, the development will comprise 700 homes – 496 of which have already been delivered – and 104,000 square feet of retail space. Gail’s Artisan Bakery was founded in 2005, when Ran Avidan, Molnar and Emma King opened the first site in Hampstead. It currently has 36 sites.

May Fair Kitchen team to open Leicester Square site, third venue in total: The team behind London restaurants May Fair Kitchen and Monmouth Kitchen is to open a new site in Leicester Square. Leicester Square Kitchen will open on Saturday, 6 May. It is described as a “sophisticated yet unassuming restaurant that will be smarter than its sister sites”, with the menu inspired by Mexican and Peruvian cuisine. There will also be a live taco bar with inventive cocktails served from a white zinc-top bar, reports The Handbook. The team also operates the May Fair Bar, which, along with May Fair Kitchen, is based in the May Fair Hotel. Monmouth Kitchen is part of the Radisson Blu Edwardian boutique hotel in Seven Dials.

Indoor adventure golf company Paradise Island opens sixth site, in Derby: Indoor adventure golf company Paradise Island has opened its sixth site, in Derby. The company has launched the 14,000 square foot venue, which has capacity for up to 300 players at a time, at the Intu Derby shopping centre. Paradise Island marketing manager Craig Nichol told The Business Desk: “Adventure golf is fast becoming one of the most popular attractions in the UK leisure scene and there is nothing like this available in the area. To be able to bring a new leisure experience is really exciting. This is crazy golf as you’ve never seen it before and offers an exciting and affordable day or night out for families, friends, couples and groups.” Paradise Island’s other sites are in Ellesmere Port, Glasgow, Livingston, Manchester and Sheffield.

Restaurateur to turn Inverness city centre pub into second pizzeria: Inverness-based businessman Lukasz Domagala has taken on the lease of the Nellie Deans pub and will turn it into his second pizzeria in the city. Domagala operates Pizza Pepperoni in Telford Street but will rebrand both sites as Pepperoni Especiale when the new 60-cover city centre restaurant opens in June. Nellie Deans had been closed for about 18 months. Pepperoni Especiale manager Paulina Pawlak told The Press and Journal: “We are trying to do something more family focused and parents can still have their beer while enjoying good food. The pizzas are great and we have the biggest pizza in Inverness. We are going to put in a play zone for children too.” The restaurant will be the first venue in Inverness to sell American beer Pabst on draught.

Liverpool-based coffee shop lodges plans for second city site: Liverpool-based coffee shop Rococo is to start expansion by opening a second site in the city. The company has applied to the city council to convert a former recruitment agency office on the ground floor of the Tower Building in Water Street into its new venue, reports Your Move. In the application Rococo stated: “The proposals involve the creation of food preparation and cafe accommodation through the removal of non-original partitioning and adaptation of the softwood staircase to give access to a mezzanine seating area.” Rococo opened its first site in Lord Street in 2008.

Leicester-based coffee shop team takes on Everards pub in city: The team behind Leicester-based St Martin’s Coffee has taken on an Everards pub in the city. The company acquired the lease of The King Richard III in Highcross Street in January, and have now reopened the site as a pub restaurant with a “contemporary feel”. The Victorian pub retains its name while sporting a hand-painted mural of King Richard III. There is now a garden space around the side and to the rear of the building, with the upstairs function room turned into a kitchen. The pub offers classic pub meals, including traditional Sunday roasts, plus specials cooked on a Robata grill, alongside Everards beers and one by local brewer Framework. St Martin’s Coffee director Andy Hall told the Leicester Mercury: “Our objective was to provide an elegant Victorian public house with fresh local food. Everything has changed. We have also built a brilliant kitchen on the first floor.” St Martin’s is a speciality coffee shop, burger restaurant and roastery based in St Martin’s Square.

Raymond Blanc launches chef scholarship programme at Ascot: Celebrity chef Raymond Blanc has launched a chef scholarship programme at Ascot Racecourse for 2017. The programme sees a chef from Ascot work closely with Raymond Blanc and his team at Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons throughout the year and will lead to the individual receiving a full endorsement and reference from Blanc. Matt Shipley, who began as a sous chef at Ascot, has been chosen as Blanc’s apprentice for its inaugural year. The scholarship aims to build on Blanc’s partnership with The Ascot Academy, which has teamed up for a third year to expand and enhance the racecourse’s chef training academy offering. It aims to ensure the service in each of the racecourse’s restaurants is “as good as it can possibly be”. Blanc advises on many aspects of the fine dining offering in the Panoramic Restaurant at Ascot. This year, fine dining managers from Ascot will visit Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons. In addition to management development, front-line teams will go through a heightened, more rigorous skills training programme focused around specific disciplines such as wine and barista training, and working alongside key suppliers and sponsors. This training is in addition to the existing Ascot Academy training offer consisting of practical and e-learning elements.

Hull-based ice cream parlour starts expansion with second city site: Frizza Caffe Gelato, which operates a cafe and ice cream parlour in Hull, has started expansion by opening a second site in the city. The 60-cover venue has opened in Princes Avenue following the six-month fit-out of a site formerly occupied by Indian restaurant Masala Bazar. Frizza Caffe Gelato, which operates its other store in Newland Avenue, offers classic ice cream made on-site as well as gluten-free snacks and desserts, and speciality coffee. Store manager Kayleigh Watson told the Hull Daily Mail: “"With this site we wanted to offer something new to customers. There is a gluten-free savoury menu including waffles and crepes. The other shop has a lot more flavours such as Oreo and Nutella. Here, we plan on having flavours such as Sicilian pistachio and amarena cherry – classic Italian gelato. We will open later than the Newland Avenue branch, until 11pm or 11.30pm, as we are opposite all the bars and restaurants. We will be somewhere upmarket that people can visit for dessert.”

Nottingham-based cat cafe to open second site, owners plan roll-out of concept across UK under franchise: Nottingham-based cat cafe Kitty Cafe is set to open its second site, in Leeds, with its owners planning to roll-out the concept across the UK under franchise. Kate Charles-Richards launched the concept with husband Oliver Richards in March 2015, with the cafe in Friar Lane doubling as a rehoming centre and attracting more than 80,000 visitors a year. It has about 30 cats at any one time roaming around diners, and finds new homes for between three and ten felines every week. A six-figure sum has been invested in the Leeds outlet, which will be in the city centre but in a location that has yet to be revealed. It will open between July and September, employing up to 30 staff and accommodating 40 cats. The cafe will be run as a company-owned franchise to show interested parties how it could work. Charles-Richards told the Nottingham Post: “Our aim is to have a franchise and Leeds is part of the pilot scheme. There are 69 cities in the UK and our aim is to have a Kitty Cafe in every one. We have a time-frame of more than 50 company-owned franchises in five years. There are other cat cafes but we’re considerably larger and the only one that rehomes at the moment.”

Former Savoy head bartender to launch Coupette concept in east London: Chris Moore, former head bartender at the Savoy’s Beaufort Bar, is to launch his own concept – Coupette – in Bethnal Green, east London. Moore has joined forces with two of the capital’s other top bartenders – Franck Dedieu, formerly of high-end rum and cocktail bar Redwood, and Dan Schofield, previously at award-winning 69 Colebrooke Row – to open the bar, which will have a distinctly French accent focusing on regional liqueurs. Coupette is taking over the former Albion pub in Bethnal Green Road and will offer artisanal regional French gems such as Calvados with cold-pressed apple juice, French cider, truffled white negroni made with seasonal truffles, and champagne pina colada, Hot Dinners reports. There will also be a fully French wine list while food will include charcuterie, terrines and regional cheese imported from France, alongside coffee and fresh pastries and a weekend brunch menu.

Brewhouse & Kitchen launches beer-inspired dishes as it carries out first major menu overhaul: Brewhouse & Kitchen, the expanding brewhouse concept led by Simon Bunn and Kris Gumbrell, has launched a menu of beer-inspired dishes. Designed by executive chef Tom Bew, the new offer is the first major menu overhaul by the company since it opened its first site in 2013. The menu includes a selection of dishes created using different variations of beer as a key ingredient, a range of “B&K favourites” and sharing plates, as well as lighter dishes and burger options, each matched to a particular style of beer. Starters include Mexican lager and corn soup, and tortilla chips and beer dips (IPA hummus, cask ale cheese sauce and hopped sour cream and chive dip). Main dishes will include IPA-battered fish and chips. New desserts on offer include a chocolate and cask ale fondue served with doughnut pieces, marshmallows and crisp apple, which is made for sharing. Bew said: “This new menu is the result of lots of thinking outside the box on how to bring beer into our food, not just in our classic dishes but in new and exciting ways too.” Brewhouse & Kitchen has 16 sites across the UK.

Dublin city centre hotel goes on market with guide price of €3.5m: A Dublin city centre hotel has been put up for sale with a guide price of €3.5m (£3m). The Abbey Hotel, which comprises 21 bedrooms as well as a bar and restaurant, is being sold by private treaty through agents CBRE. John Ryan, CBRE director, said the site, located just off O’Connell Street, offers an opportunity to acquire a “well-positioned” hotel property. He told Insider Media: “At present a very satisfactory level of turnover is generated in the premises but there is further upside potential to grow the business, particularly in the bar and restaurant areas. In addition, there is potential to expand the accommodation with 12 extra bedrooms, subject to planning permission.” Last week, CBRE reported hotel sales in Ireland had slowed during the first quarter of the year, with seven venues acquired for €26m (£22m), compared with 14 deals completing during the same period last year for €47m (£40m).

Sector companies to join Drinks Trade Regatta: Sector companies have signed up for this year’s Drinks Trade Regatta. Businesses taking part include AC Inns, Antic London, Beds and Bars, Diageo, Faucet Inn, Oakman Inns, St Austell Brewery, Young’s, and last year’s winner Jagermeister. Formerly known as the Interbrewery Regatta, the event takes place from 2-4 June on a fleet of Sunsail First 40s yachts, leaving from Port Solent. The cost is £3,200 per yacht, which includes VAT and a £1,000 charity donation. The top three overall teams will be able to donate a percentage (first place 50%, second 30%, and third 20%) to a charity of their choice. The two-day event includes dinner at the Royal Yacht Squadron and a prize-giving ceremony in Port Solent. Crews can be novices as skippers can be provided for an additional cost by Sunsail, which facilitates the event. For more details on charters or the event, call Terry Hunt at Sunsail on 02392 222 221 or email terryhunt@sunsail.com

Greene King sells Nottinghamshire village pub: Brewer and retailer Greene King has sold The Westdale Tavern in the village of Gedling in Nottinghamshire. The Westdale Tavern will close on Monday, 24 April. A spokeswoman told the Gedling Eye: “As a leading pub operator and brewer, we are committed to running high-quality community pubs. 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 Westdale on the market and have now found a buyer. The pub will close on Monday, 24 April and we are working with the team there to find them alternative employment where possible at our other nearby pubs.”

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