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Fri 4th Aug 2017 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Casual Dining Group to take on 100 more apprentices: The Casual Dining Group (CDG) plans to run 100 more apprenticeships this year on top of the 116 already in place across 60 restaurants within its portfolio. Since its launch last year, which saw CDG partner with Remit Training to deliver apprenticeships across its growing estate of 300 restaurants, CDG has developed a scheme focusing on servers, chefs and managerial roles. With almost 8,000 employees across its businesses, which include the Bella Italia, Café Rouge and Las Iguanas brands, plus airport concessions and its collection of restaurants in Centre Parcs, CDG is hiring more apprentices as a way to train, develop and retain high-calibre individuals. Casual Dining Group chief executive Steve Richards said: “We are delighted to be in the position to grow the number of apprentices in our business this year. The quality of our team plays a huge part in the guest experience and therefore the continuing success of our restaurants. There is real appetite in the business to offer more apprenticeship levels and we are pleased to be building on our partnership with Karen Davies at The People Factor – Karen’s business has played a vital role in helping us land and build this programme – and also Remit Training, which has also supported our desire to grow our apprenticeship initiative.” The current scheme offers a bespoke apprenticeship programme for each CDG brand and supports the career development of existing staff and new recruits in kitchen, front-of-house and management roles. The course is designed to deliver structured training for Level 2 and 3 apprentices that helps them gain the skills required to progress in the industry. They are awarded with a qualification at the end.

Industry News:

Bar and Nightclub Conference open for bookings: This year’s Bar and Nightclub Conference, organised by the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) and Propel, is now open for bookings. It takes place on Monday, 9 October at Bafta, Piccadilly. It will be followed by the Dusk ’til Dawn Awards for bar and nightclub operators at Cafe de Paris in the evening. Speakers at the event will include Jamie Campbell, who heads up the retail business at CGA Strategy, which has retailer specialist CGA Peach as a division, who will reveal details of usage, areas of growth, food and drink trends, and evolution within the UK bar and nightclub market. Philip Kolvin QC, head of Cornerstone Barristers and chairman of the London Night Time Commission, will give his views on London’s late-night economy and legal and licensing challenges around the UK. Scott Matthews, chief executive of CG Restaurants, will explain the success of the company’s Dirty Martini cocktail brand, its USPs, staff training and marketing methods, and its regional expansion plans. Stephen Thomas, godfather of the UK nightclub and bar scene, will offer reflections on the evolving bar and nightclub scene and predict how things will change in the next decade. Peter Marks, chief executive of Deltic Group, will talk about evolving the company’s estate, the growing importance of social media and entertainment to drive footfall, and the results of Deltic’s own research into the late-night market. Aaron Mellor, founder and chief executive of 36-strong bar and nightclub Tokyo Industries, will talk about the company’s expansion into experiential leisure with a festival, The Lost Village, hosting Boogie Wonderland in Ibiza in partnership with Ferran Adria and Cirque du Soleil, and developments in the UK market. Dan Davies, chairman of the Institute of Licensing and CPL Training chief executive, will talk to Peter Stringfellow about his career operating late-night venues. The speaker schedule will conclude with ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls talking to John Gaunt of John Gaunt Solicitors, Allan Harper of Burning Night Group, Toby Smith of Novus Leisure, Pleisure chief executive Nick Griffin, Sugar Hut chief executive Terry Pullen, and Robert Humphreys, vice-chairman of Best Bar None, about the current trading and regulatory regime. Tickets for the Bar and Nightclub Conference are £89 plus VAT for operators who are ALMR members and £129 plus VAT for non-ALMR members. Supplier tickets are £165 plus VAT for ALMR members and £225 plus VAT for non-ALMR members. For the Dusk ’til Dawn Awards, tickets are £150 plus VAT for ALMR members and £195 plus VAT for non-ALMR members. Tickets for both events can be booked by emailing Jo Charity at jo.charity@propelinfo.com

Deliveroo reveals regional variations for UK cities’ beer of choice: Deliveroo has revealed the most popular beers it delivers to cities around the UK. As part of the company’s UK Beer Barometer for 2017 the list, released to coincide with International Beer Day (Friday, 4 August), reveals cities across the country differ in their opinion of what is the best, highlighting “how divided the nation has become when it comes to their choice of ale”. Deliveroo’s partnership with Heineken’s Brew House features strongly, with Birmingham opting for Tiger Beer, while Bristolians prefer Heineken lager. Mancunians’ top choice is Corona via The Drink Factory, while Londoners favour Peroni from the Alcohol Rack. Leeds, Brighton and Cambridge, meanwhile, are on-trend, with all three cities opting for craft beer as their brew of choice – BrewDog’s Dead Pony Club, Bison Beer’s The Kernel pale ale, and Beavertown’s selection from Cambridge Wine Merchants respectively. Deliveroo launched its alcohol delivery service a year ago. A spokesperson said: “What better way to celebrate International Beer Day than toasting with your town’s favourite beer? We work with more than 15,000 restaurant and drinks partners in the UK. As our top beer list shows, our breadth of choice is great as no-one can seem to agree on what the best beer is.”

Westgate Oxford bolsters food and drinks offering with eight new brands: A further eight food and drinks brands have signed to open at the £440m Westgate Oxford development. The brands are Nespresso, Krispy Kreme, Caffe Concerto, Ned’s Noodle Bar, Bonnie Gull’s fish and chip offering Salt ‘n’ Sauce, creperie Crepes ‘O’ Mania, and Boost Juice Bars and its milkshake and desserts concept The Shake Lab. Ned’s Noodle Bar and Salt ‘n’ Sauce will sit within Westgate Social, a new food and leisure experience that will provide a shared eating and leisure environment with freshly prepared food at a casual price point. Anchored by Junkyard Golf Club, brands confirmed include Mexican restaurant Benito’s Hat, Indian street food vendor Rola Wala, and Shawa Lebanese Grill. The new signings join a leisure offer at Westgate Oxford that includes boutique cinema Curzon, Vietnamese street food restaurant group Pho, Pizza Pilgrims, US comfort food restaurant Dirty Bones, and The Breakfast Club. Davis Coffer Lyons advises Westgate Oxford on restaurant property leasing. The development is set to launch on Tuesday, 24 October. Westgate Oxford Alliance, a joint venture between Land Securities and The Crown Estate, acquired the Westgate Centre in 2010. Emma Mees, senior portfolio manager at Landsec, said: “From having drinks with friends over the city’s famous spires to playing mini-golf with the family, Westgate Oxford will offer something for everyone to enjoy the perfect day out.”

Company News:

Yum Brands reports sales growth for KFC and Pizza Hut in the UK: Yum Brands has reported sales growth for its KFC and Pizza Hut brands in the UK for the second quarter to 30 June. KFC system sales in the UK grew 6% in the second quarter and have grown 6% in the first half. Pizza Hut system sales grew 4% in the second quarter in line with growth for the first half. Worldwide system sales grew 6%, with KFC and Taco Bell at 7% and Pizza Hut at 2%. Chief executive Greg Creed said: “I’m pleased Yum Brands’ intensified focus on our four distinct growth drivers helped deliver another successful quarter. Core operating profit grew 19% and earnings per share excluding special items grew 21% during the second quarter. We are maintaining our full-year 2017 guidance and are on pace with our multi-year transformation strategy designed to further unlock shareholder value.”

BrewDog to open bar that straddles the US and Mexican border: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog is to open a craft beer bar that will straddle the border of the US and Mexico. The venue will be named The Bar On The Edge. The company stated: “Situated in a remote location, the bar reflects (our) intention to expand to the ‘farthest reaches’ of the United States. Its controversial positioning makes a physical statement about collaboration and inclusivity, which have always been a cornerstone of (our) identity.” With a specific location still “top secret”, BrewDog has only revealed half will be in Texas and the other half in Chihuahua, Mexico. The geographical border will be represented by a dotted line across the centre of the bar and along the venue’s outdoor seating area. Built from shipping containers, the construction will officially be defined as a “temporary mobile building” and serve Mexico beers on the US side, and US beers on the Mexico side, as well as BrewDog’s range of craft beers brewed in Columbus Ohio. The announcement will be celebrated with a Tex-Mex craft beer event this weekend at the DogTap taproom in the company’s new brewery in Columbus, Ohio.

Caledonian Heritable reports turnover and profit boost: Scottish pub, hotel and leisure operator Caledonian Heritable has reported turnover grew to £38.9m in the year to 31 October 2016 (2015: £34.5m). Profit before tax increased to £7,344,677 from £7,036,650 the year before. Dividends of £3m were declared in the year. Caledonian Heritable founder Kevin Doyle was named entrepreneur of the year at the 2016 Scottish Bar and Pub Awards. Key highlights from 2016 included the reopening of Compass in Leith after it was expanded and refurbished and a makeover of Ryan’s Bar in Edinburgh, plus the opening of Inverness restaurant Encore une Fois (One More Time). Caledonian Heritable also acquired Grange Inns in April 2016, which included two Cask and Barrel venues, No 1 Grange Rd and The Waiting Rooms, all in Edinburgh. Caledonian Heritable has more than £100m invested in the licensed trade and it owns over 100 licensed premises outright across Scotland, including The Theatre Royal, The Dome, The Roseburn and the Tynecastle Arms, with co–investments in a further 100-plus businesses.

Greene King chief executive Rooney Anand sees remuneration fall: Greene King chief executive Rooney Anand has seen a significant fall in his total remuneration this year as his annual bonus more than halved and long-term incentive payments fell to £92,000 from £920,000 the previous year. The company’s annual report reveals Anand received total remuneration of £1,154,000, down from £2,295,000 the year before. His annual bonus of £231,000 was more than half the £594,000 he received the previous year. Anand’s total of £1,154,000 consisted of a base salary of £645,000, a rise from the £609,000 he received the year before, plus taxable benefits worth £25,000, pension-related benefits worth £161,000, the £231,000 annual bonus and the £92,000 long-term incentive payment. Meanwhile, financial director Kirk Davis saw his total remuneration drop to £546,000 from £684,000 the year before. Chairman of the remuneration committee Lynn Weedall told shareholders in the annual report: “As described more fully in the strategic report, 2016/17 was another good year for Greene King. Revenue was up 6.9% while profit before exceptional and non-underlying items was up 6.6% to £273.5m. This performance was achieved against a difficult backdrop of increased costs, weaker consumer confidence and stronger competition. Reflecting performance against the stretching targets set at the beginning of the year, bonus payouts for this year were 35.8% of eligible salary for the chief executive and 30.3% of eligible salary for the chief financial officer. In relation to the long-term incentive plan (LTIP) awards granted in 2013, which are due to vest in July this year, the core LTIP award will not vest as the performance targets were not met, while 18% of the growth LTIP award will vest.”

London-based Cuban restaurant Cubana hits crowdfunding target in two days as it prepares for expansion: London-based Cuban restaurant Cubana has hit its £107,000 fund-raise target on crowdfunding platform Crowd2Fund in only two days. The company was offering a 10% interest-paying mini-bond to fund expansion and the campaign attracted 189 investors. The bond term is 24 months. Cubana, led by Phillip Oppenheim, operates a restaurant in Waterloo. The pitch stated: “We are a vibrant Cuban restaurant looking to expand the business so more people can experience the delicious Cuban style. We have brought the most delicious flavours from Cuba over here. Not only is our food great but our cocktails are refreshing, with a South American twist. We introduced mojitos to the UK in the 1990s – and we’ve made nearly a million of them since! We use free-range chicken, pork and eggs and Marine Stewardship Council-certificated wild fish, as well as prime 100% British beef and organic single-origin chorizo from Spain. Our menus include traditional, slow-cooked Cuban dishes alongside tapas, Latin American specialities and barbacoa dishes prepared on our robata grill – plenty of vegetarian choices too. Cubana understands business activities can have an impact on the environment and we are committed to seeking to reduce this while providing a true Cuban experience. From using LEDs to compostable street food cutlery and crockery and cooking oil recycled into biodiesel, we try our best to remain as eco-friendly as possible. We also have close connections to our coffee farmers in Cuba. The result is a light but strong coffee, perfect with anything from our bakery.”

Caprice Holdings gets go-ahead to bring The Ivy to Cheltenham: Caprice Holdings, owned by Richard Caring, has been given the go-ahead to bring The Ivy to Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. The Ivy will take up residence in the grade I-listed Rotunda building in Montpellier at a former Lloyds TSB bank branch, SoGlos reports. While no opening date has been confirmed, the restaurant group is currently recruiting for staff, including chefs and front-of-house team members. Last week, Caprice Holdings opened Ivy Cafe in London at Berkeley’s One Tower Bridge mixed-use development. Caprice Holdings is pushing ahead with regional expansion of its Ivy concept, with an Edinburgh venue to open in autumn for its first site in Scotland and a brasserie launch in Bath. It also hopes to open venues in Harrogate, Manchester and York this year, with further sites lined up in Birmingham, Canary Wharf and Exeter.

Mahiki to launch in Kensington: Nightclub brand Mahiki is to open a venue in Kensington. Mahiki co-founders Piers Adam and David Phelps will open the club as a joint venture with Jake Parkinson Smith, Fraser Carruthers and Carlo Carello, the men behind private members’ club Albert’s. Mahiki Kensington will open in Kensington High Street in September and feature a new restaurant – Pufferfish – offering “exotic delicacies and theatrical touches including a raw bar and sushi hand-seared tableside with a blowtorch”. The iconic Mahiki treasure chest topped with champagne will feature as a hand-carved ice sculpture alongside its renowned tropical cocktails, The Handbook reports. In June, Adam told Propel Mahiki could “rival Hard Rock Café” as the brand began to ramp-up expansion. Speaking after the launch of the fourth Mahiki, in Sardinia, entrepreneur Adam said the move was “merely the beginning”, with a flagship club to launch in Manchester in partnership with former Manchester United and England footballer Gary Neville at “the end of August or beginning of September”. Adam added: “I know they can often seem intimidating but Mahiki is fun, accessible and with the DNA of a pub but in a late-night environment.” Adam, Phelps and Nick House launched Mahiki in London in 2005, followed by a Dubai venue in 2011. A third site – Mahiki Beach – opened in Marbella, Spain, earlier this summer.

Atlas Pub Co to bring Buca Di Pizza brand to Hull: Leeds-based Atlas Pub Co is to continue expansion of its Buca Di Pizza brand by opening a site in Hull. The new venue will be the latest addition to the dining offering in the city’s £80m Fruit Market redevelopment. The pizzeria and bar will open in Humber Street following a £175,000 investment. The 1,900 square foot venue will have 80 covers inside with seating outside for up to 20 diners. Buca Di Pizza will join other food and drinks brands at the development including a fourth site for Yorkshire-based independent tapas restaurant Ambiente Tapas and a gin bar from Humber Street Distillery. Atlas Pub Co was founded by brothers Geoff and Nick Thornton. Geoff Thornton told BDaily: “The developer, Wykeland Beal, has a clear vision of the Fruit Market as a place populated by a mix of independent operators and that’s very attractive to us. The unit is a great space and very airy, with lots of natural light. We’re retaining many original features and it will have a lovely rustic feel.” In June, the Thorntons said they were focused on growing the Buca Di Pizza brand to ten restaurants across the M62 corridor in the next three years. The first site opened in Leeds in late 2014, followed by a second in the city’s grade II-listed Stratford House last year and a third, in Manchester, in June. The company is also set to open a venue in Beverley, Yorkshire.

UK’s first online halal takeaway service passes half-way mark in £100,000 crowdfunding campaign: HalalEat, a startup bidding to bring halal takeaway food to UK consumers, has passed the half-way target in its £100,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Seedrs within 72 hours of launch. The London-based company is offering 7% equity and so far the campaign has raised £54,648 from 33 investors with 58 days remaining. The largest investment has been £16,000. HalalEat offers a wide range of takeaway options, including Moroccan, American and Italian, for customers to order online. HalalEat founder and chief executive Abul Rob, who previously worked at Just Eat and Hungry House, came up with the idea while on a business trip when he was unable to find a takeaway offering halal food. He launched the company in November 2015. The pitch states: “There are more than three million Muslims in the UK. Halaleat.com is, to our knowledge, the UK’s first online takeaway portal listing halal menus and targeting the growing halal food market. Many Muslims believe they have a duty of care to check whether or not the food they are about to consume is halal. Restaurants and takeaway businesses up and down the UK are changing to attract Muslim customers and we believe this trend will contribute to the emergence of online and on-demand food services. Existing takeaway online platforms rarely have the relevant controls to authenticate a restaurant as halal. HalalEat checks all its partner restaurants to ensure their claim of serving halal food is authenticated. Our smart filters allow consumers to make an informed choice based on their belief on what is acceptable as halal regarding the food and environment of the business.”

Mosaic Pub & Dining plans restaurant and indoor golf course: The group behind a pub in Birmingham’s jewellery quarter that launched last year as part of a multimillion-pound transformation of a 19th century factory has submitted plans to convert the property next door into a restaurant. The application has also earmarked a yard to the rear of both buildings for a new beer garden. Applicant The Pioneer (City) Pub Company submitted documents to Birmingham City Council outlining its plans to create a new venue at 26 Frederick Street. The group is now known as Mosaic Pub & Dining. Mosaic also operates The Distillery in Birmingham’s Sheepcote Street as well as venues in Warwick, Cheltenham, London, Sevenoaks and Canterbury. The Frederick Street site is next door to The Button Factory, the former Vertu Bar that was launched by the City Fund Pub Company last June. The ground floor and basement of the Frederick Street property will be converted and the open forecourt and small terrace reconfigured for outdoor dining. The upper floors of the building will remain vacant. As well as the creation of a restaurant, the application also comprises proposals to convert a yard to the rear of 26 Frederick Street and The Button Factory, which would be used in association with the pub. The plans include space for an outdoor drinking area, a bottle bar, toilets and an indoor golf course.
 
D&G Pub Company and Star Pubs & Bars make co-investment: Darlington-based pub operator D&G Pub Company and Star Pubs & Bars are investing more than £300,000 to refurbish two Darlington pubs – The Wheatsheaf in Yarm Road and The George in Bondgate. Diane Hutchinson, director of DG Pub Company, said: “Our plan is to upgrade our whole estate through modernisation and renewal and to make our offer more premium throughout. The world is changing, consumers are trading up and it is important our pubs change too. Our next move is to open a premium gin bar that appeals to millennials.” Gary Corney, operations and sales director at Star Pubs & Bars, added: “We’re delighted our investment with D&G Pub company will bring The Wheatsheaf and The George in line with consumers’ changing needs while retaining the spirit of the great traditional pub. Pubs need regular investment and to continue to develop their offer to be sustainable in the long term. All-day food, premium products and coffee are what people want and have come to expect from their local pub.”

Tasty opens Wildwood site in Hinckley: Tasty has continued expansion of its Wildwood brand by opening a restaurant in Hinckley, Leicestershire. The site, which features a cinema, has opened next to cafe brand Loungers at The Crescent development. The new Wildwood seats 102 internally and 24 outside, offering a range of grilled meat, pasta, pizza and risottos, The Hinckley Times reports. There are also burgers, ribs, boneless chicken and steaks from the grill, alongside a range of salads. Wildwood joins other restaurants at the Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council-owned food and leisure quarter, including Burger King, Prezzo, gourmet burger restaurant company Meatcure, locally owned Italian restaurant Rossini and Fab Noodle Bar. In March, Tasty opened its first Wildwood in Birmingham, taking the brand’s number of sites to 55 across the UK. Late last year, Tasty raised £9m to fund the brand’s expansion.

Deltic Group to launch Atik nightclub in Hull next month: The Deltic Group, the UK’s largest operator of premium late-night bars and clubs with 57 venues across the UK, is to open a venue for its Atik nightclub brand in Hull next month. Sugar Mill nightclub will close at the end of August to reopen as Atik on Friday, 15 September following a £1m refurbishment and creating 45 additional jobs. The main room at Atik will showcase the latest light and sound technology, while dance room Vinyl will feature an illuminated dance floor, glitter balls and pop classics. Another room, Curve, will offer a more intimate atmosphere playing RnB. The venue will also boast Deltic’s Lua Lalai Tiki bar, with bright Polynesian decor, classic hits and cocktails. Atik general manager Tom Bowden told the Hull Daily Mail: “The Sugar Mill has been a big part of the city’s nightlife but it’s time to bring something new to Hull and this is the ideal year as we celebrate being the UK City of Culture. We have exciting plans for our launch and beyond, attracting top international DJs and celebrities. Hull already has a great reputation for nightlife and has a vibrant student population. It deserves the very best we can offer in terms of a clubbing experience.” In June, The Deltic Group announced it would invest £8.1m in its estate this year.

JD Wetherspoon faces A-board investigation: JD Wetherspoon could face criminal proceedings after the death of a Bingley pensioner, a coroner’s court was told. CCTV captured the moment 73-year-old Keith Holmes came into contact with an A-board outside the company’s Myrtle Grove pub in the Yorkshire town’s Main Street, hitting his head on the ground. Mr Holmes, of Canal Road, died from a head injury the next day at Bradford Royal Infirmary and the incident, on the afternoon of Saturday, 19 November last year, is now being investigated by Bradford Council’s environmental health department. Lead investigating officer Jane Bradbury told Bradford Coroner Martin Fleming no decision had yet been made regarding any possible move towards criminal proceedings against JD Wetherspoon as officers were still looking to see if there was any criminal culpability. She said the pub company was co-operating with the investigation and had until Wednesday, 23 August to respond to a series of questions. A second pre-inquest review will now be held on Tuesday, 19 September, by which time Fleming expected to have accident statistics from Wetherspoon, design and manufacturing details of the A-board, details of training given to Wetherspoon staff about using A-boards, and instructions about using them in adverse weather.

Lancaster Brewery hires executive chef with Michelin star credentials: Lancaster Brewery, which owns pubs and hotels across Lancashire and Cumbria, has hired Steven Doherty to help overhaul the food on offer at each of its establishments. Doherty will work with Lancaster Brewery as executive chef across the company’s pubs, restaurants and hotels. Doherty was previously head chef at Albert Roux’s Le Gavroche in London, where he became the first Briton to secure the elusive third Michelin star. He added: “It’s rare for pubs in our area to really invest in their food offering. But we’re focusing heavily now on making our food truly exceptional, moving into modern cooking styles and broadening our menu offering. In essence, we are looking to delight our customers with even better food and an even better array of drink choices.” Phil Simpson, of Lancaster Brewery, added: “Steven is an acclaimed chef with an incredible record of success. He’s a very rare talent in having the experience of running one of the best kitchens in Europe alongside his Cumbrian gastro-pub expertise. Recruiting him was hard work and took six months of negotiations. However, since his arrival we’ve seen our food sales more than double and the quality of the meals his team produces is extraordinary.”

Ei Publican Partnerships reopens Cumbrian pub following £270,000 makeover: Ei Group’s leased and tenanted division Ei Publican Partnerships has reopened The Snooty Fox in Kirkby Lonsdale, Cumbria, following a £270,000 refurbishment. The pub has been transformed into a community local with alfresco dining and boutique accommodation. Experienced operators the Ledsham family have run The Snooty Fox for the past year and been instrumental in overseeing the refurbishment. The new food offering comprises traditional pub food such as braised short rib with mashed potato, vegetables, and port and thyme sauce. The Snooty Fox’s nine letting rooms have undergone significant renovation. Phase two of the project will see derelict flats on the pub’s land turned into six bunk rooms for climbers and cyclists. Work is expected to be complete by October. Tom Ledsham said: “We’ve worked closely with Ei Publican Partnerships to come up with a concept that will take it back to what it used to be – a welcoming community local.” Ei Publican Partnerships regional manager Mark Price added: “We found there was a gap for a quality but affordable venue in the area, which is what the Ledsham family were keen to provide. We’re delighted with its new look.”

M&B acquisitions manager joins commercial property developer: Mitchells & Butlers acquisitions manager Edward Peel has left the company to join Birmingham-based commercial property developer Stoford. Peel spent three years at Mitchells & Butlers where he acquired city centre and suburban sites. His role as development manager at Stoford will involve him working alongside a team consisting of Dan Gallagher, Gerard Ludlow and Tony Nash on major projects including developments in Bristol, Worcester and Leamington Spa. Peel said: “Stoford is one of the UK’s most active developers and is involved in many projects covering the length and breadth of the country. It has a first-class reputation for delivering excellent results and I’m excited to be part of such an ambitious and dynamic team.”

Living Ventures partners with DisabledGo to provide access guides: Living Ventures has launched a partnership with social enterprise DisabledGo to provide accessibility information across its estate. Living Ventures is the first bar and restaurant operator to provide DisabledGo access guides, which contain detailed information on its venues’ accessibility for disabled people and carers. DisabledGo visited every Living Ventures site before producing the guides, which cover information such as lighting levels, accessible car parking, hearing loops and accessible toilets. The information has also been published on Living Ventures’ website and on DisabledGo.com. Living Ventures chief executive Jeremy Roberts said: “We want as many people as possible to enjoy what we offer. Teaming up with DisabledGo means people with access requirements can visit our bars and restaurants with confidence and reassurance.” Anna Nelson, executive director at DisabledGo, added: “We hope other forward-thinking organisations follow (Living Ventures’) lead, recognising the breadth of accessibility requirements people have together with disabled people’s £249bn spending power.”

The Alchemist unveils three new sites: Premium bar and restaurant company The Alchemist has acquired three new sites in Cardiff, Bristol and Nottingham. The news comes following the successful opening of its milestone tenth venue in Chester last month. Operating in the former Hard Rock Café in King Street, the Nottingham site will open in December following a £1.6m investment, extending over an impressive two floors and 6,500 square feet. The Cardiff venue will open in March 2018 at a former NatWest bank branch in St Mary Street. It will be the first Welsh venue for The Alchemist, with a total investment of £1.6m across the 5,900 square foot site. The Alchemist will make its mark in the heart of Bristol in Queen’s Road following a £1.3m rejuvenation. Spanning two floors, the 5,200 square foot site will open in April 2018. Celebrating a momentous year, The Alchemist has seen impressive growth and brand milestones including the opening of its tenth site, a spot on The Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For list, and two further openings in Media City and Oxford later in 2017. Simon Potts, managing director of The Alchemist, said: “We are delighted to announce the three new sites. Cardiff, Nottingham and Bristol are all fantastic cities and I believe we have secured amazing locations in each of them. The acquisitions will take us to 15 sites – which is a great achievement and testament to the hard work of the whole team. It’s a real joy to be able to announce positive plans for our continued growth at a time when there seems to be a lot of uncertainty in the sector. Our guests seem to be enjoying our unique offer and I’m confident The Alchemist brand will be a positive addition to cities wherever it goes in the future.”

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