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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Thu 11th May 2017 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Sector like-for-likes bounce back with 4.4% growth in April, pubs outperform restaurants: Managed pub and restaurant groups were back in growth in April, with collective like-for-like sales up 4.4% compared with the same month last year, according to the latest Coffer Peach Tracker. “This month’s numbers compare with a 0.5% dip in like-for-likes in March, and the gap between the two can be largely put down to the Easter holidays falling in March last year but in April this,” said Peter Martin, vice-president of CGA Peach, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker, in partnership with Coffer Group and RSM. “Although trading over the Easter weekend was not as good this year compared with the four-day holiday in 2016, down 3.8% on a like-for-like basis, the boost the break provides to the sector can still be seen in April’s trading growth. Taken together the two months’ numbers show there is still underlying growth in the sector, and especially among pub groups.” Managed pub operators saw a 6.1% jump in collective like-for-like sales in April, compared with a much more modest 1.5% increase for restaurant chains in the Tracker cohort. “This can be put down in part to the drier weather this year, with branded restaurants in London having a particularly tough April, but we have also seen restaurant performance generally slipping behind the pub sector in recent months,” said Martin. On a regional basis, London was up 2.8% in April, compared with a 4.9% like-for-like increase for outside the M25, reversing the pattern seen in March. “The fluctuations between London and the rest of the country shows there is still volatility in the market – and despite the bounce in April, operators will remain cautious about prospects for the rest of the year, and underlying growth is still fragile,” added Martin. Total sales growth in April among the 33 companies in the Tracker cohort was up 7.4%, reflecting the continuing impact of new openings during the year. The underlying annual sales trend shows sector like-for-likes running at 1.1% ahead for the 12 months to the end of March. Trevor Watson, executive director of Davis Coffer Lyons, said: “The impact of the Easter weekend is clearly dominant in this month’s figures. There is an increasing awareness that the rate of new restaurant openings has exceeded wet-led venues in recent years and the industry, and the statistics for the industry as a whole, reflect this. I think we can expect to see managed wet-led venues outperform restaurants in terms of sales growth for the next few months, while consumer confidence is expected to weaken.” Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at RSM, added: “This month’s figures show that the habitual and prioritised nature of spending on eating and drinking out continues to prevail. Operators need to remain innovative and flexible to cater for changing demand patterns as economic uncertainty takes its toll on discretionary spending. Those who indulge the consumers’ ongoing preference to eat what they want, when they want, whether it’s a power breakfast, ‘unicorn’ cake or coal-cooked meat, will thrive and prosper.”

Industry News:

Propel Multi-Club summer conference and party open for bookings, two free places for operators: The speaker schedule for the Propel Multi-Club summer conference on Thursday, 6 July has been confirmed and multi-site operators can claim two free places by emailing Jo Charity on The event will also involve the Propel summer party in the evening, featuring laser tag, human table football and the chance to tackle the podium jump made famous by BBC television show Total Wipeout. Cyril Lavenant, of NPD Group, will provide insights into the current state of the UK foodservice market, how the UK compares with the US and Europe, and outline ten key trends in the foodservice market while predicting future progress. Roger Perowne, chief executive of Morar Consulting, which launched a daily sector brand tracker in March, will set out the major learnings for the sector in Morar’s measurement of consumer perspectives on the major restaurant brands. David Bruce, co-founder of Firkin Pubs, The Capital Pub Company and The City Pub companies and currently chairman of The West Berkshire Brewery, has raised more than £100m through EIS schemes and crowdfunding in the past two decades. He will give his top tips on raising cash for growth businesses. Husband-and-wife team Ali Khan and Samrien Hussain, whose company Tick Tock Unlocked operates six escape rooms in four UK cities, will talk about how they have developed high-quality, differentiated escape rooms, their most recent opening at Trinity Leeds, their customer base and USPs, and how they see the market in experiential leisure developing. Colin Sadler, managing director of Marston’s Revere Pub Company, will set out how the company has developed a premium pub segment, its USPs, further plans and the benefits for the company’s wider managed division. Jonathan Arana-Morton, co-founder of The Breakfast Club, whose sites often attract large queues of customers, will talk about how the company has developed since being founded in 2005, its expansion in London and elsewhere, the strengths of its offer, and future plans. Nick Taplin, chief executive of Black and White Hospitality, will explain how the company is developing a 50-strong franchised restaurant estate in partnership with celebrity chef Marco Pierre White, its unique brands, its USPs, and future prospects. Simon Blackbourne, commercial director of Tahola, will share his insights into how operators can use Big Data to support business growth and the current trends in our data-driven economy. Nisha Katona, former barrister and now television chef, restaurateur and recipe book author, will explain the USPs of her three-strong Indian street food brand Mowgli, her perspectives on turning her passion for food into running restaurants, and her progress along the multi-site learning curve. James Baer, managing director of Amber Taverns, will set out the company’s progress in creating a 130-plus estate of community pubs, the strengths of its management model, its investment criteria, the development of its Hogarths Victorian-style gin palace brand, and future plans. Rupert Clevely, managing director of Ei Group’s managed expert joint venture Hippo Inns, will talk about the development of a ten-strong estate with the tenanted operator, how the company’s offer has developed, future prospects, and points of difference with his previous business Geronimo Inns.

Pret A Manger lines up banks in preparation of New York market float: Pret A Manger has lined up banks to prepare for a New York stock exchange listing later this year, following a jump in sales that could value the company at as much £3.9bn. Bridgepoint, the private equity firm that bought a majority stake in the business for £500m in 2008, is working with advisors at JP Morgan Chase and Jefferies as part of a process to consider an initial public offering across the Atlantic. It has also sought the expertise of Credit Suisse, Barclays and Piper Jaffray, reports Bloomberg. It is understood Bridgepoint is only looking to sell a stake in the company rather than cash out completely as it looks to take advantage of further international growth prospects. Pret reported a 15% rise in sales to £776m in the year to December 29 2016, with its US sales exceeding $200m for the first time. Ebitda rose 11% to £93.2m. Based on the recent US flotation of burger chain Shake Shack, which floated at 41 times earnings, Pret could be valued at a minimum of £3.9bn because it has significantly more stores and a greater geographic reach than Shake Shack. Pret chief executive Clive Schlee recently highlighted the potential for growth in the US by highlighting New York’s Penn station as an example of how the company had started to grow rapidly in transport hubs such as train stations and airports. Pret, which opened its first site in London in 1986, now has 444 stores globally – 74 in the US – and is actively targeting 500 sites. It opened 50 shops in 2016, including nine in the US. A Pret spokeswoman told Propel the company did not comment on market rumours.

El Bulli brothers sign for José Andrés’ New York food hall project, eight Michelin stars between trio: Ferran and Albert Adrià, the brothers behind El Bulli restaurant in Girona, Spain, are to debut in the US after signing for José Andrés’ Spanish food hall, which is set to open at Hudson Yards, New York. The three chefs have eight Michelin stars between them. The 35,000 square foot, all-day food hall, dubbed the Eataly of Spain, will feature indoor and outdoor space that will include a tapas bar, retail shop, wine bar and wood-fired restaurant, reports Eater New York. Andrés called Ferran Adrià a “mentor” and said it was an honour to open with them. The Adrià brothers added: “We can’t think of a better way to debut in America.” The food hall, which is expected to open in late 2018, will be Andrés’ 29th restaurant (after another slated to open this summer inside the SLS New York), while Albert Adrià operates five restaurants in Barcelona and Ferran Adrià runs El Bulli Foundation – a project dedicated to memorialising the work of the restaurant. The Hudson Yards development will feature restaurants from David Chang, Thomas Keller, Costas Spiliadis, and Michael Lomonaco, as well as 100 shops and restaurants, 4,000 homes, 14 acres of public space, a public school, and a luxury hotel.

London hotel market reports record April revpar: The London hotel market has seen its highest April revpar level on record, according to a new report. STR’s preliminary April data showed revpar grew 10.3% to £119.40 compared with the previous year. Average daily rate was up 6.4% to £143.92, while occupancy rose 3.7% to 83.0%. Meanwhile, demand increased 6.6% and supply 2.8%. With hotel demand continuing to grow in London, STR analysts highlighted two events that resulted in multiple days of roughly 95% occupancy and average daily rate above £160 – In-Cosmetics Global (4-6 April) and the Natural Stone Show & Conference (25-27 April).

Company News:

NWTC ahead of plan to build 30-strong estate by 2019, seven more sites to open in next 12 months: The New World Trading Company’s (NWTC) operations director, Matt Bamber, has told Propel the group is ahead of its plan to build a 30-strong estate by 2019. Bamber said the Graphite Capital-backed company now had the platform in place to match its ambitions following the opening of its new headquarters in Knutsford, Cheshire, at the end of last year. NWTC is set to open seven more sites before April 2018 starting with The Botanist in Reading this month, which will be the company’s 17th in total. That will be followed by the launch of The Canal House at The James Brindley in Birmingham this summer, with a site at MediaCityUK in Manchester also opening this year. In addition to this year’s plans, Bamber said at least two more venues would open before the end of next April. He said: “The big number for us is 30 by 2019 and we are ahead of that plan now. The idea is to get to that figure and then reassess where we are. We’re not concentrating on any particular area – we’re looking at sites UK-wide. I joined the company when it was just three sites and with our new headquarters the platform is there for us to push on. We are looking to build on a site-by-site basis rather than making acquisitions but we wouldn’t rule it out if the right opportunity occurred. We are also confident we can successfully operate two similar concepts in the same city, for example The Oast House and The Botanist in Manchester. We would like to grow certain brands such as The Smugglers Cove and The Trading House but haven’t found the right location at the moment. We are building a pipeline of some great sites in some fantastic locations and we are certainly keen to keep on launching different concepts.” Bamber said trading in the current financial year was “very good” and showing like-for-like growth, while April had been a “very strong” month. He added new sites took 12 to 18 months to mature and tended to settle down after a three-to-four-month honeymoon period.

Dorbiere reports pre-tax profit boost, current turnover 6% ahead of last year: North west restaurant and pub operator Dorbiere has reported a boost in pre-tax profit, while current turnover is 6% ahead of last year. The company saw turnover increase to £13,547,028 for the year ending 30 September 2016, compared with £12,982,489 the previous year. Pre-tax profit was up slightly to £1,754,785, compared with £1,744,703 the year before. The company increased the number of employees during the period from 42 to 62. The company stated: “As at 30 September 2016, the company has net assets of £10,506,602 (2015: £9,140,096). For 2017, turnover is budgeted to be in line with 2016 levels, with a slight increase due to the purchase of The Langley Park in County Durham in September 2016. This, together with margin maintenance and overall cost control, will combine to maintain current company profitability. To date, current year turnover is in line with budgeted expectations and is 6% ahead of prior year. Dorbiere is committed to further investment in people and continued growth.”

Gresham Collective starts expansion of Cork & Bottle wine bar with second London site: London-based multiple operator Gresham Collective, led by Will Clayton, has started expansion of the Cork & Bottle wine bar concept by opening a second site in the capital, this time in Paddington. The first Cork & Bottle was launched in 1971 in Leicester Square by Don Hewitson, renowned as the “founding father of British wine bars”. Now owned by Gresham Collective, the Cork & Bottle’s second site has opened at a former bank in Spring Street offering more than 300 wines from around the world alongside pairing dishes from executive chef Anthony Greenan. Clayton said: “We know we will bring the same passion to Cork & Bottle Paddington that we excel in at our West End venue.” General manager Vash Sedlak added: “These are exciting times for this brand and perfect timing for expansion. Alongside the in-house offer we are introducing a takeaway wine and cheese shop to our customers in Paddington. We are currently ranked in the top 200 restaurants featured on TripAdvisor for our West End branch.” Gresham Collective also operates two London pubs – the nearby Pride of Paddington and The Load Of Hay Tavern in Camden.

Chimaek-inspired restaurant Wing Wing to open debut site next week, in London: Wing Wing, a restaurant inspired by “chimaek” (Korean chicken-and-beer joints), will open its debut site, in London next week. The venue will launch on Wednesday, 17 May in Woburn Place, Tavistock Square. Chimaek is a compound word formed from chicken and maekju – the Korean word for beer – and the restaurant will serve fresh, free-range birds, double-fried Korean-style and individually brushed with the diner’s choice of soy garlic, hot or liquorice glazes. The menu will also feature Asian-inspired comfort food such as katsu bao, seaweed fries and kimchi coleslaw. The 100-cover restaurant will have a modern interior design, featuring playful, provocative signage and subtle nods to its Asian roots. There will also be a private dining room for up to 30 people (20 seated) that will offer a self-service beer station, state-of-the-art sound system and 60-inch television screen. A 500 square foot outside terrace with a further 30 covers will overlook Tavistock Square. Wing Wing claims it will be the first restaurant in the UK to use the “bottom-up” beer system, offering ice-cold pints in four to seven seconds. As the name suggests, the beer is self-served from the bottom up through the base of the glass, minimising spillage and pouring time.

Whitbread switches to 100% renewable power across UK estate: Whitbread is now sourcing 100% of electricity for its UK operations from renewable energy projects. The initiative means power used in 68,000 Premier Inn rooms and 2,200 Costa Coffee stores is sourced from domestic renewable sources. Whitbread director of sustainability James Pitcher told Business Green: “As the UK’s largest hospitality brand, we have a responsibility and an opportunity to drive change within the industry, which is why we have made this decision for the business. Whitbread is committed to minimising its environmental impact and operating in a way that respects people and the planet. We hope this will be a landmark step in helping to set the industry standard.” Last month, the company made a raft of environmental commitments. It selected Swansea as the site for a second Costa Coffee “eco pod”, signed with the Marine Stewardship Council for its “blue tick” to appear on menus at 635 sites certifying seafood had been responsibly caught, and applied for a licence to supply its own water retail services for all its brands in England.

D&D London to launch Leeds rooftop restaurant next month: Restaurant operator D&D London will launch Japanese concept Issho in Leeds next month. The 7,807 square foot restaurant with bar and terrace will open on Wednesday, 21 June on the rooftop of the £165m Victoria Gate development. Issho is one of two concepts D&D London is launching in the rooftop space, alongside Manhattan-style bar and grill East 59th, for which a launch date has yet to be revealed. Issho, which means “together” in Japanese, will offer authentic Asian dishes with an emphasis on sharing. The menu has been created by executive chef Ben Orpwood, who has held the same position at Zuma in Knightsbridge and Sexy Fish in Mayfair. He told BDaily: “It’s been a long time in the making but all the hard work is paying off and we can’t wait to give food fans in Leeds the chance to try it for themselves.” D&D London owns and operates restaurants in London, Paris, New York and Tokyo and the 80-bedroom South Place Hotel in London. Its other venues in Leeds are fine-dining restaurant Crafthouse and adjoining bar restaurant Angelica.

Camino to open Spanish tapas restaurant in Shoreditch, fifth London site: Camino, the London operator led by Richard Bigg, is to open its fifth Spanish tapas restaurant in the capital, this time in Shoreditch. The venue will open at Principal Place in Curtain Road in September featuring an 80-cover restaurant, with room for a further 75 customers in the tapas bar and 40 more on a heated terrace. The decor will be inspired by northern Spain, while the menu will feature regular Camino tapas favourites with a few additions. The new venue will be a return home for the group as Bigg opened the now-closed Cantaloupe restaurant in Shoreditch many years ago before the area was transformed. Bigg told Hot Dinners: “Shoreditch was a very different neighbourhood, completely unknown to the rest of London, and all my friends thought I was mad. But I had a good feeling in my bones about it and it turned out to be the right thing at the right time. The DNA sparked off then, lived on in all the bars we opened since and very much so now at each Camino.” The other Camino sites are in King’s Cross, Monument, Bankside and Blackfriars, while the company also operates Bar Pepito in King’s Cross.

Lytham St Anne’s-based operators acquire third site: Lytham St Anne’s-based operators Tony and Helen Vavosa have secured their third site in the Lancashire seaside resort. The Vavosas, who own Spago and Java, have acquired the lease of the former Jack’s restaurant in Wood Street. The Scandinavian-inspired restaurant will be renamed Fifty Four. It is set to reopen this month serving a European menu including breakfast, lunch and dinner with fondue and healthy options. The venue is undergoing a major refit including building work to alter the layout, which has seen it stripped back to its brickwork before being redecorated. On completion, it will include a traditional fire and heated outdoor terrace, reports Insider Media.

Jason Wills leaves Charles Wells after year as marketing director: Jason Wills, who joined Bedford-based brewer and retailer Charles Wells a year ago, has left. Wills joined Charles Wells in February 2016. Before joining the company, Wills was interim head of marketing at Cineworld for nine months, joining from Merlin Entertainments, where he was marketing director at Thorpe Park resort for more than two years. He has also worked as a senior brand manager at Heineken UK. Operating independently in nine countries including the UK and America.

Scotch Malt Whisky Society to launch second London bar, first open to non-members: The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) is to launch its second bar in London next month – but this time it will be open to non-members. The SMWS will open Kaleidoscope in Devonshire Square beneath Scottish restaurant Mac & Wild. It will stock more than 200 of the society’s single-cask whiskies when it opens on Friday, 2 June. Housed in a converted warehouse, the bar will offer a menu of whisky cocktails, including the Bloody Scotsman, Blood and Sand, and Old-Fashioned. Wine, champagne and draught beer from Edinburgh will also be available, alongside bottled craft beer and light snacks featuring food from Mac & Wild. Kaleidoscope is the society’s first London bar to be open to the general public, following the launch of a similar venture, also called Kaleidoscope, in Queen Street, Edinburgh. The SMWS will also continue to operate its London members-only venue in Greville Street, Farringdon. UK operations director Jan Damen told Scotch “With Kaleidoscope in Devonshire Square we want to open up our amazing selection of bottlings to a new audience of whisky fans so they can discover this fascinating world of single-cask single malts.”

Managing director of online retailer opens sharing plates concept in Huddersfield: Nick Glynne, managing director of online retailer Buy It Direct, has opened a sharing plates restaurant concept in Huddersfield. Glynne has invested £200,000 to transform the former Lindley’s No 10 Kitchen in Lidget Street into Home – Food For Sharing. He is joined in the venture by Jo Graham, who was head chef of the restaurant at Hinchliffe’s Farm Shop in Netherton. The restaurant, which has seating for 55 diners, is based on home-style bistro cooking served on sharing plates. Glynne told the Huddersfield Examiner: “It is a new concept for Huddersfield – think paella, think Chinese and you have the concept, only the food is very good traditional British/French full-size dishes.”

Diageo to challenge £107m ‘diverted tax’ payment to HMRC: Diageo has reported it will have to pay £107m in additional tax and interest for its 2015 and 2016 financial years under HMRC’s diverted tax regime but said it would challenge the assessment. HMRC’s diverted profits tax regime, which came into effect in April 2015, is a tax charged at 25% on profits that are considered to be artificially diverted from the UK. Diageo has said HMRC intends to issue preliminary notices of assessment, which would require Diageo to pay additional tax and interest of £107m for its financial 2015 and 2016 years. However, Diageo said it did not believe it fell into the scope of the regime and would challenge the assessment. To do this, it would have to pay the full amount up front and then continue to work to resolve the matter with HMRC. Diageo stated: “The payment of this sum is not a reflection of Diageo’s view on the merits of the case and, based on its current assessment, Diageo considers no provision is required in relation to diverted profits tax. This issue does not change Diageo’s expectation that the tax rate before exceptional items for the year ending 30 June 2017 will be about 21%.”

Ross-on-Wye restaurateur gets go-ahead to open second site: Ross-on-Wye restaurateur Darren Leonard has been given the go-ahead to open his second site in the Herefordshire town – a tapas and cocktail lounge. Leonard, who launched No 3 in Gloucester Road in 2015, has been granted permission by Herefordshire Council to open the venue in the former YMCA charity shop in High Street. Leonard said he wants to open the venue, entitled Leonards at 39, after having to turn away customers who wanted to simply enjoy a cocktail at his debut restaurant. The new venue will feature an extensive cocktail list and tapas menu with about 30 to 40 dishes, reports the Hereford Times. 

Multi-site operator twins resubmit plans for boutique hotel and restaurant in Newport: Multi-site operator twins Pasquale and Sergio Cinotti have resubmitted plans to convert a former nursing home into a boutique hotel with restaurant in Newport, South Wales. The Cinottis, who run two restaurants and an ice-cream parlour under the Gemelli’s name, have revised their plans for Rothbury House, a Victorian grade II-listed building in Stow Park Circle they acquired in 2014. Newport City Council turned down the brothers’ original plans in December 2015 because of parking concerns. The new scheme includes 20 parking spaces and improved access to the property, reports Insider Media. According to the plans, the proposed restaurant will cater for the top end of the culinary field, while the rear outbuildings will include an area for making cakes to be predominantly consumed in Gemelli’s restaurants. The upstairs would have seven letting bedrooms. The Cinottis opened their first restaurant in 1996 and expanded in 2013 with the addition of a large restaurant and ice-cream parlour at Spytty retail park.

Quarter of Dalata shareholders vote against executive pay rises: A quarter of shareholders at Ireland’s largest hotel operator Dalata voted against the directors’ remunerations report at the company’s annual general meeting. A total of 34,258,162 (25%) of votes were received against the resolution out of a total of 134,661,713 cast. The company said this was because of concerns in relation to salary increases for chief executive Pat McCann and two executive directors – deputy chief executive Stephen McNally and Dermot Crowley, deputy chief executive for business development and finance. According to the company’s annual report for 2016, McCann saw his salary increase by €100,000 to €575,000 on 1 January 2017. McNally and Crowley both saw their salaries rise at the start of the year from €275,000 to €335,000. The company stated: “The board is pleased with the very high levels of support for our remuneration policy, with 99% of votes in favour, and with the 97% of votes in support of the long-term incentive plan. However, the board is mindful of the concerns expressed by a number of shareholders in relation to executive remuneration, which is reflected in the 25% vote against the 2016 report on remuneration. The company has had extensive dialogue with a significant number of our shareholders leading up to the annual meeting, which has helped clarify the issues, which primarily relate to percentage increases in salaries for the chief executive and two executive directors. We value the open dialogue many of our shareholders had with us and look forward to continuing this very constructive and open engagement on governance and remuneration matters in the future.”

Marston’s to open new-build pub at Dalton Park shopping complex next month: Marston’s is to open a new-build pub at the Dalton Park shopping complex in Murton, County Durham, next month. The company will open The Dancing Betty in June, creating 40 jobs. The pub restaurant, which will have capacity for up to 180 diners, will feature an outdoor patio and seating area, pergola and children’s play area, with staff accommodation upstairs. The look of the building has been inspired by traditional coaching inns, taverns and pubs and takes its name from a vertical tensioning device for a haulage rope used during the mining era, with the pub on the site of the former Murton Colliery. Area operations manager Helen Weddle told the Sunderland Echo: “We’re extremely excited about The Dancing Betty and hope, when opened, it will build a great reputation locally.” The pub restaurant is part of the £45m phase-two expansion of the shopping outlet. It already features a Cineworld cinema, KFC, Prezzo, The Restaurant Group brand Frankie & Benny’s and PizzaExpress.

Dublin-based pub group Mercantile to split in two little more than a year after merger: The bitter dispute between shareholders of the Mercantile Group, one of the largest pub companies in Ireland, has been resolved, with the two factions agreeing to split the firm in two. The company was founded in February 2016 following the merger of Frank Gleeson-controlled Mercantile Group with Capital Bars to form a €50m revenue-generating business, with control of many of Dublin’s leading hospitality venues. The new group promised a significant capital expenditure programme to upgrade venues and add others to the portfolio. The group soon descended into in-fighting, culminating in three high-court battles, with Gleeson on one side and a consortium including Dublin-based private investment firm Danu Investment Partners (DIP) and US investor group EMI-MR Investment on the other. The two businesses bought Capital Bars for €15m in late 2014. Two of the high-court disputes have been resolved, while the third, a high-court order preventing the Mercantile Entertainment Group taking steps to dismiss Gleeson as chief executive, is expected to be resolved in the coming weeks. It is understood a framework has been agreed for the split, with finer details still to be worked out. Gleeson is believed to be retaining three properties, including high-end restaurant Marcel’s in Baggot Street, reports. DIP, headed by Setanta Sports founders Leonard Ryan and Michael O’Rourke, also owns UK franchise rights for Smith & Wollensky steakhouses.

Ei Publican Partnerships launches National Pub Fortnight: Ei Group’s leased and tenanted division Ei Publican Partnerships has launched National Pub Fortnight to raise awareness of the Great British pub. The initiative will take place from Saturday, 22 July to Sunday, 6 August encouraging publicans to run their own events, including beer festivals, gigs, family fun days and barbecues, not only during the fortnight but throughout the summer. Pubs taking part in the initiative will have access to point-of sale materials, including banners, bunting and digital assets. Ei Publican Partnerships will also promote participating pubs on Facebook, targeting local consumers. The company has partnered with Heineken UK for the fortnight, with a free pint of Heineken, Fosters, John Smiths, Kronenbourg 1664 or Strongbow available to the first 15,000 consumers who sign up to the event through the new National Pub Fortnight app. James Armitage, group services director of Ei Group, said: “We are confident the campaign will benefit many more pubs than the 1,000 taking part in the free pint promotion.” British Beer & Pub Association chief executive Brigid Simmonds added: “National Pub Fortnight is a great new way to celebrate the Great British Pub this summer, and we all need to support our locals. I hope pub-goers will get behind this initiative and make the most of the great promotions.”

Boutique hotel in Maidstone sold off guide price of £1.19m to experienced operator: The Townhouse Hotel, a boutique hotel and restaurant in Maidstone town centre, has been sold off a guide price of £1.19m to an unnamed experienced operator. Originally built in 1802 as a rectory, the grade II-listed 17-bedroom property was sold through agent Christie & Co. The previous owner, who extensively extended and refurbished the hotel, was looking to sell because of other business interests outside the hospitality industry. Andrew Moore, director of Christie & Co’s Maidstone office, who handled the sale, said: “This sale continues to demonstrate the high demand from buyers for good-quality hotels throughout the south east of England, with first-time and experienced purchasers showing interest in sites. We anticipate this demand to continue, making it a great time for hotel owners in the region that are considering a sale.”

Host of companies sign up for Inspirational Leadership Masterclass: A host of companies have signed up for the Inspirational Leadership Masterclass. They include Cambscuisine, Punch, Mitchells & Butlers, Vaulkhard Group, The Ivy Collection, My Lahore, Draft House, Jamie’s Italian, Brindisa Tapas Kitchens, Ponti’s, McMullen’s, Anglian Country Inns, The Inn Collection, Admiral Taverns, True North Brew, FrogPubs, Jo De Luccis, The Alchemist, The Piano Works, 16 Hospitality, The Barsons Eden Group, and Chameleon Bar and Dining. Propel has partnered with the UK’s leading thinker and teacher on multi-site foodservice management Professor Chris Edger and Tony Hughes, cited by many current industry leaders as the most influential figure in their career, for the event. Edger and Hughes will draw on their book, eMotion – how leaders mobilise positive feelings in super-performing teams, to outline the “ten moments of emotional truth” of leadership that separate the best from the rest. The event takes place in the Chartered Accountants Hall at One Moorgate Place, London, on Thursday, 8 June and Edger and Hughes will explain their book’s key proposition – that focusing on mobilising positive emotions lies at the heart of inspirational leadership. Speakers will include David Singleton, vice-president of hospitality at Al Tayer Group, who will outline how he instilled desire in workers to join his teams and gave them the confidence to perform and the aspiration to develop. Gary Topiol, managing director EMEA of Nudge Rewards, will outline the new technologies and interventions that will transform employee recognition and communication processes during the next ten years. Click here to see the full speaker schedule. 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 or call 01444 817691.

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