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Fri 30th Jun 2017 - Update: Brewers' £50m crowdfunding bonanza, TGI Friday's to open 80th UK site
UK craft beer fans invest almost £50m in brewers through crowdfunding: UK craft beer fans have invested almost £50m in brewers through crowdfunding sites, new research has revealed, with the number of individual investors totalling more than 65,000. The latest successful effort was by Redchurch Brewery, which has just closed its second fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube, raising £433,000 from 688 investors to add to the £497,000 it brought in last year. Research by investment comparison company OFF3R has found more than 40 brewers in the UK and half a dozen craft beer retail operators have taken the crowdfunding route to raise cash for expansion in the past four years. At least six brewing companies have raised sums in excess of £1.7m at a time, while brewing ventures made up four of the top 20 biggest crowdfunding efforts in 2016. While more than half the money raised (£27m) has gone to only one company, Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog, other big beneficiaries of the remaining £22.5m brought in through crowdfunding include Chapel Down Group, owner of Curious Brew, which gathered a total of £5.66m via Seedrs, and Camden Town Brewery in north London, which raised more than £2.75m from 2,173 investors via Crowdcube before being sold for £85m to Anheuser-Busch InBev in December 2015. Analysis of more than 11,200 investors who have put money into brewing and beer-related companies via Crowdcube reveals a distinct tilt towards male investors compared with crowdfunding ventures as a whole. Men make up 85% of brewery investors on Crowdcube – compared with a general overall split among Crowdcube investors of 73% male to 27% female. Each investment in brewers on Crowdcube averages £1,503 a time, 16% lower than the average individual investment across Crowdcube as a whole of £1,789. However, almost one-fifth of Crowdcube brewery fund investors have put money into two or more brewers’ crowdfunding ventures via the platform. Geographically, the largest proportion of brewery investors on Crowdcube comes from London (27%), followed by the south east of England (10%) and Scotland (9%).

TGI Friday’s to open 80th UK site and fourth Leeds restaurant on Independence Day: TGI Friday’s is to open its 80th UK site and fourth restaurant in Leeds on Independence Day (Tuesday, 4 July). The company will open the venue at the White Rose Shopping Centre to join its Leeds Trinity, Junction 27, and Wellington Bridge Street locations. The new restaurant, which is creating 65 jobs, will offer a “fresh and modern” interior, with a square island bar taking centre stage. The restaurant will have capacity for up to 170 guests and will feature an outside seating area. TGI Friday’s UK property director David Carroll said: “Leeds loves Friday’s and Friday’s loves Leeds, and that’s why we’re set to open our fourth restaurant in the city for all our fans there. Friday’s was also born in the US, and that’s why we especially can’t wait to open the doors to our 80th restaurant in the UK on Independence Day.”

Bison Beer pulls crowdfunded Brighton pub plans following landlord dispute: Brighton-based beer shop Bison Beer has pulled out of a deal to reopen a derelict pub in the city despite raising £150,000 for the venture on crowdfunding platform Seedrs. Simon Duddington, Nick Vardy and Jack Cregan planned to transform The Mariner in East Street into craft beer pub The Bison Arms, joining forces with local restaurant 64 Degrees to provide a “real alternative” to Burger King, which wanted to open a restaurant at the prominent site. The Bison Arms project gained widespread support from residents and Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas but plans have been withdrawn following a “nonsensical negotiation merry-go-round” with the landlord. In an open letter, The Bison Arms team stated: “When the petition to stop Burger King opening launched on 21 October 2015, we set about to provide a genuine alternative, launching our crowdfunding campaign. Through the will of 401 people we had the means to do so by 2 February 2016, with £150,000 raised. What followed was several months of solicitor action we still struggle to understand fully. We have a significant legal bill to show for the work that has been done but can’t explain why the landlord hasn’t allowed the deal to be completed.” Seedrs will return all investor funds. The managing agent for the commercial premises is TCI Group and the overall landlord for the building is Javsford Investments, The Argus reports, which contacted both but neither company was available to comment.

Stonegate Pub Company to reopen Slug and Lettuce in Croydon next week: Stonegate Pub Company will reopen its Slug and Lettuce site in Croydon on Friday (7 July) following a £200,000 refurbishment. The venue has been modernised throughout with new furniture, bathrooms and a larger bar. A DJ booth and dedicated cocktail masterclass station have also been installed, allowing customers to create their favourite tipple. Slug and Lettuce has also updated its food and drinks menus, with new additions to the drinks list including low-sugar prosecco Gancia Leggero and Absolut Lime, while the Tapas Tails offer includes a flight of three cocktails. Crispy-fried jalapeno slices and cured meat antipasti are new inclusions to the small plates side of the menu, while a Sweet & Petite desserts section has also been added. Martina Dordikovs, general manager of Slug and Lettuce Croydon, said: “Our customers are incredibly loyal and love coming along for a few drinks, a bite to eat or a dance at the weekend. We can’t wait to see what they think of the revamp.” Stonegate Pub Company operates more than 690 pubs split into two divisions – Branded (Slug and Lettuce, Yates’s, Walkabout, Common Room and Venues) and Traditional (Proper Pubs, Town Pub & Kitchen, and Classic Inns).

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