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Mon 18th Sep 2017 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Pub debt to be hit by spending slowdown warns Moody’s: Bundles of pubs’ debt will suffer over the next 12 to18 months as earnings are hit by a decline in demand for beer, a weak pound, and rises in the National Living Wage and inflation, ratings agency Moody’s has warned. The company said “debt multiples have largely shown a downward trajectory in recent years but there are signals the decline is slowing and may potentially start rising”. Pubs have been hit by a general consumer spending slowdown, as well as changing tastes and fashions. Referring to the difficulty pubs are having in using cash flow to service their debt, Moody’s said: “Debt serviceability and leverage of rated transactions show early warning signals. Pub operators’ earnings are being curtailed by changes in consumer demand away from beer consumption as well as macroeconomic factors.” Moody’s said pub turnover had remained generally stable since 2011, as many have turned to selling food and rebranded to become gastro-pubs and incorporate restaurants, and the ratings agency estimated food sales now represented about half of total pub sales. The work needed to convert pubs, however, required substantial upfront costs, which has limited free cash flow growth, Moody’s said. The rise of the National Living Wage, which went up to £7.50 per hour in April this year, has also negatively impacted profits. The planned further increase to £9 by April 2020 was also predicted to cause problems. Moody’s said aside from the impact it has already had on inflation and a weaker pound, Brexit posed a more direct risk to the future of pubs – a significant proportion of the food and drink sold at pubs is imported, and Moody’s expected costs to rise by 5% year-on-year until 2019. Moody’s added to help offset rising costs, pub companies have turned to selling land adjacent to pubs, as well as leasing some of their properties to other businesses or selling outright.

Industry News:

Propel Multi Club Conference open for bookings, Bowmark Capital to present, two free places for operators: The final Propel Multi Club Conference of 2017 is open for bookings. The full-day event takes place on Wednesday, 1 November at the Millennium Gloucester hotel in London. Ron Pearson, partner at Bowmark Capital, which has successfully invested in Living Ventures and Las Iguanas in the past, sets out the reasons why the private equity company invested in premium bar and restaurant operator Drake & Morgan and how the brand is being supported to fulfil its potential in the UK market. Multi-site operators of pubs, restaurants and foodservice outlets can book up to two free places by emailing Anne Steele on anne.steele@propelinfo.com

Entries for industry-wide training awards to close this week: The deadline for entries to the National Innovation in Training Awards (NITAs), held by the British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) in partnership with Propel and CPL Training Group, will close on Friday (22 September). The ceremony for the premier awards night for training achievements in the pub and restaurant sector will take place on Tuesday, 21 November at Café de Paris in central London. The NITAs recognise those companies and individuals that really care about their employees, helping them to achieve improvements in training and standards. The categories are best training programme (leased and tenanted companies under 200 outlets), best training programme (leased and tenanted companies more than 200 outlets), best managed training programme (companies under 50 outlets), best managed training programme (companies more than 50 outlets), trainer of the year, best apprenticeship training programme, and best casual dining training programme. To enter, candidates should visit www.bii.org and select NITAs, register their details, and pick their category or categories. Candidates can enter more than one category. Each category will have a judging panel consisting of industry experts to decide who has shown the best knowledge, understanding and enthusiasm for their respective category. Finalists will be announced before the end of September and will need to be available on Thursday, 19 October to attend the NITAs finals judging day. In addition, The Franca Knowles Lifetime Achievement will be chosen by a panel led by Keith Knowles, chief executive and founder of Beds and Bars. This award will identify and recognise an individual who leads by example and demonstrates training and people are at the core of what they do. This is an industry recognition award rather than a category open for entries and is in memory of the late Franca Knowles, Keith Knowles’ wife, who herself was a multiple winner of NITAs awards and was passionate about people and training.

Whitbread withdraws from ethical trade body a year after joining: Whitbread has withdrawn from the UK’s ethical trade body, the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), just over a year after joining. The company did not give a reason for its decision but the Guardian reported it came after a “spat” with the Unite union over recognition of British workers. The union claimed attempts to gain access to workers at Whitbread’s Premier Inn chain, in line with core principles of the ETI, which is backed by unions, human rights charities and companies, were at first ignored. It said Whitbread then argued the ETI’s code on freedom of association did not apply to its direct employees in the UK. Whitbread said it had “an open policy towards our employees belonging to a union”. In a letter to Whitbread chief executive Alison Brittain, Unite said the company’s “commitments and obligations” on freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining “were not currently being met in any practical sense” and “attempts at meaningful negotiation with the company were ignored”. Whitbread said: “Since we joined the ETI in 2016, we have been subject to false allegations from Unite about our employment practices, specifically around our policy towards union membership, and Unite allege we do not comply with the ETI base code. This is untrue and the ETI has confirmed we met our obligations as a foundation stage member.” ETI executive director Peter McAllister added: “Like any new member there is a period where we work through what our expectations are and the company’s priorities, based on supply chain needs and tackling relevant issues. We therefore regret Whitbread chose to leave ETI so soon after joining.”
 
Inapub appoints Robyn Black as editor: Publisher Inapub has appointed Robyn Black as editor of its trade magazine and website. She will replace founding editor Matt Eley, who is stepping down to pursue a freelance career after six years in the role. Black has been the title’s deputy editor and drinks expert for the past two years. Black said: “I’d like to thank Matt for all he has taught me and look forward to working closely with him in his new freelance role. These are exciting times for all the team as Inapub continues to grow and evolve.” Inapub chief executive Barrie Poulter added: “Robyn has been a great asset to the team from day one and I am looking forward to the creativity and energy she will bring to the role of editor. I’d like to thank Matt for all his hard work.” Eley said: “I have had an incredible time over the past six years building Inapub, working with talented colleagues and visiting some of the best pubs in the country.”
 

Company News:

Chopstix to open three new shopping centre sites: Oriental brand Chopstix will see its number of shopping centre outlets rise to 25 with the opening of three new stores in the next six weeks. The company will open venues at the Sailmakers Centre in Ipswich, Arndale Centre in Manchester and the Brunel Centre in Swindon, creating a total of 45 jobs. Menashe Sadik, who co-founded Chopstix with Sam Elia, said: “As a result of these new openings, shopping centres across the country now house one-third of our overall outlet count, which has doubled in the past 18 months. As well as being a fresher and healthier option in the food court, we also provide one of the fastest services in our sector. Our success within the shopping centre environment may be aligned to the fact we typically serve meals in under 60 seconds – a real advantage for time-pressed shoppers.” The new openings will take the total Chopstix portfolio to 74. Chief operating officer Max Hilton Jenvey said: “There is undoubtedly much room for us to grow as a brand, and we intend to further develop our partnerships with retail centre owners in the coming months. At the same time however, we are actively engaged with multi-site operators in other sectors to not only increase our store count but also achieve our ambition of becoming a major player in the franchise 'food-to-go' market place.”

Soho House reveals next five openings: Soho House has five new openings lined up – openings are scheduled for White City, Los Angeles and Amsterdam in 2018 and further openings in Brighton and Texas are lined up for 2019. The company reported total global membership numbers for the business, which is owned by Nick Jones, Richard Caring and American billionaire Ron Burkle, grew 24% to 67,000 in 2016. “We are not noticing a fall in the number of people coming through the doors,” Jones told the Evening Standard and added The Ned on Thursday night (14 September) was so packed “there wasn’t a seat to be found”. The company has also struck a deal with Chinese conglomerate Nan Fung, which has interests in finance, property and shipping, as it eyes expansion into Asia. Soho House is set to open a club in Hong Kong in 2019 and after that it plans to open in Tokyo, Shanghai and Bangkok, reports the Sunday Times. Soho House revealed profits increased 23% to £31.7m in 2016. Revenues from clubs and restaurants rose 21% to £273.6m. In the first half of 2017, turnover jumped 28%. During the period the company agreed a £275m debt refinancing package with Permira Debt Managers, helping to allay concerns about its rapid expansion plans. 

Innis & Gunn shareholders vote in favour of private equity investment offer: Innis & Gunn, one of the UK’s most successful international craft brewers, has announced holders of 99% of ordinary shares have voted to accept an offer of investment in the business from L Catterton, the largest consumer-focused private equity firm in the world. The transaction of £15m in aggregate was completed on Friday (15 September) to secure a 27.9% stake in Innis & Gunn. The completed deal will fuel the Scottish-based company’s growth plans in the UK and internationally. Founded in Scotland in 2003, Innis & Gunn is the number-two craft brewer in the UK off-trade and number-one imported craft beer in Canada and number two in Sweden. It currently exports to more than 28 countries. Expansion in the past two years has seen the opening of four Beer Kitchens in Scotland, and has established the brewer’s home for barrel-ageing and innovation at the new Innis & Gunn Brewery in Perth. Dougal Gunn Sharp, Innis & Gunn founder and master brewer, said: “We are delighted to welcome L Catterton to Innis & Gunn at a pivotal time for our business. With the backing from our shareholders we’re excited to move forward, strengthened with the support of L Catterton’s unparalleled expertise in brand building and understanding of global consumer markets. This is a huge opportunity at the right time for us to build strongly on the solid foundations that have been laid to double our 2015 turnover by 2018. Innovation and quality have been at the heart of Innis & Gunn’s success since day one, and this continues to drive us forward as we look to 2018 and beyond.”

Goodbody – JD Wetherspoon remains by far our preferred pick in the sector: Leisure analysts at Goodbody have hailed an overall “very strong set of results” from JD Wetherspoon. In a note, it stated: “The reported numbers are in line with our forecasts if we adjust for the extra week that our numbers did not reflect. However, the current trading is very strong and is a marked outperformance of the market, which appears to be entering a difficult period (CGA stated like-for-like growth at 0.2% in August). At first glance we expect to nudge our FY18 Ebit forecasts upwards by circa 2% but we believe clear bias remains to the upside. This remains by far our preferred pick in the sector.” Meanwhile, analyst Douglas Jack, of Peel Hunt, stated: “Wetherspoon has benefited from a rarity – a year in which the tax take fell as a percentage of sales, from 42.1% to 41.8%. 2018E will be very different, due partly to the return of the beer duty escalator, with the sugar tax to follow. Wetherspoon trades on a higher EV/Ebitda (9.3 times) than freehold peers (8.9 times). Given the valuation and consumer outlook, we recommend taking profits.”

Camberley building let to Premier Inn sells for £8.5m: The site of a Whitbread-owned Premier Inn hotel in Camberley, Surrey, has been sold for £8.5m. Real estate investment trust AEW UK has acquired the site in Park Street. The 43,468 square foot 95-bedroom hotel built in 2012 provides an unexpired lease term of 15 years to break and 20 years to expiry, with five-yearly Consumer Price Index-linked reviews and has been acquired for a price reflecting a net initial yield of 5.0%. AEW UK director Alex Short said: “We’re delighted with the successful acquisition of a second hotel and in particular in this affluent, south east location. This is in line with our strategy to invest in properties for which the investment is strongly underpinned by the alternative use value, which in this case is residential, subject to planning consent. We continue to see a robust supply of opportunity in a diverse range of property sectors and as such our portfolio pipeline remains strong.”

Greene King continues Goodwin’s roll-out: Brewer and retailer Greene King has begun further roll-out of its Goodwin’s Bar and Kitchen brand by starting work on converting two Eating Inn sites in the north west. The Race Horse pub in Upton Grange, Chester, has closed and will reopen on Wednesday, 4 October following a major refurbishment and the creation of 20 jobs. Meanwhile, the Waterside in Centre Park, Warrington, will close on Sunday, 24 September to reopen on Wednesday, 25 October. Greene King launched the steakhouse and bar concept late last year at sites in Fenay Bridge in Huddersfield, and Oadsby in Leicestershire. Other sites followed in Chorley in Greater Manchester, and the Wirral in Merseyside. Last month, the company opened its fifth Goodwin’s, in Tettenhall, Wolverhampton. The Goodwin’s brand focuses on “gloriously simple food”, featuring steak and burgers alongside traditional pub grub and Sunday roasts. As well as offering a “gin emporium”, Goodwin’s drinks list features cocktails, wine and craft beer.
 
PizzaExpress to open Chorlton site: PizzaExpress plans to open a site in the south Manchester suburb of Chorlton. The company has submitted plans to open a restaurant at a former social services building in Manchester Road that is next door to organic co-operative grocer Unicorn. The area is already home to independent pizzerias such as Double Zero in Barlow Moor Road and Croma in Wilbraham Road, the Manchester Evening News reports. A PizzaExpress spokeswoman said the restaurant was scheduled to open next year subject to planning and licensing approval. Last month, PizzaExpress reported group turnover increased 9.1% to £260.7m (2016: £239.0m), underpinned by group like-for-like growth of 3.4% in the 26 weeks to 2 July 2017. UK and Ireland like-for-like sales improved, up 1.3%. In international markets, like-for-like sales grew 1.7%.

St Austell Brewery reopens Falmouth pub two years after acquiring site: St Austell Brewery has reopened the Chain Locker pub in Falmouth, Cornwall – two years after acquiring the site. The pub in Custom House Quay has joined the company’s managed portfolio having undergone extensive repairs and a nine-month refurbishment. Parts of the listed building had to be taken apart and rebuilt from scratch while a newly discovered fireplace has been restored to become a central feature in the bar. The upstairs has been completely restored to create a restaurant and oyster bar with private eating rooms and covered balcony area overlooking the quay. Six new bedrooms have also been added. St Austell Brewery retail director Steve Worrall told Cornwall Live: “The potential for this site was always clear to us but I don’t think anyone could have been prepared for the sheer scale of the works needed to bring the building back to life. We know how much the pub means to the town and the local people and the amazing response we have had so far from those who have visited the site is all the reward we need for our efforts.” St Austell Brewery has 177 pubs across the south west.
 
Freeze-fried ice cream concept Pan N Ice launches fifth site, at Birmingham Selfridges: Freeze-fried ice cream concept Pan N Ice has launched its fifth site, this time at Selfridges’ food hall in Birmingham’s Bullring. Pan N Ice creates freeze-fried desserts while customers wait. The concept is the brainchild of Rob Huysinga and Henry Milroy, who saw ice cream being instantly frozen on cold plates while travelling in Thailand. They adapted the technique into 60 seconds of “ice cream theatre”. Liquid ingredients are poured on to frozen plates, which flash-freezes them pancake thin. Fruit is then added with everything chopped together using spatulas before the sheets are rolled up. In less than two years since its launch, Pan N Ice now employs 100 staff. Milroy told the Birmingham Mail: “One of the things people can do with us is to bring their own ingredients, so if they want a favourite sweet or doughnut turned into an ice cream, we can do it. We call it ‘catertaining’. We can be rammed after midday. We want our customers to feel they’ve had a really good experience as well as a great ice cream made especially for them.” The other Pan N Ice sites are at Selfridges in Manchester and Oxford Street, London, with other outlets in Westfield Stratford and Topshop Oxford Circus. The company said it was looking to open its first store outside the UK – in a Topshop in 5th Avenue, New York, soon.
 
Oliver taking Jamie’s Italian to China: Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver is to open a restaurant for his Jamie’s Italian brand in Shanghai. The restaurant will open at the new Taikoo Hui shopping centre in Nanjing Xi Lu by the end of the year. The restaurant will be located on the ground floor close to the mall’s main entrance and the China flagship store of upscale jewellery chain Swarovski, City Weekend reports. The Jamie’s Italian franchise includes 33 international sites in countries such as Australia, Canada, Cyprus, Russia, Turkey, Singapore, Hong Kong and United Arab Emirates. At the end of August, the brand opened its latest international site, in the Netherlands’ The Hague, a month after opening a restaurant in Reykjavik, Iceland.
 
Marston’s opens £3m new-build Ebbsfleet pub: Marston’s has opened its £3m new-build pub in Ebbsfleet, Kent. The company has launched The Spring River at the Ebbsfleet Garden City development, creating 45 jobs. The pub features a carvery station as well as a range of cask ales, including a rotating guest beer every month. Marston’s will also open a 104-bedroom lodge next to the pub early next year. Pub manager Joseph McDiarmid told News Shopper: “We have had a fantastic response since opening. The interest in the site has already been overwhelming.”
 
Japanese ramen restaurant Yamagoya to launch first permanent UK site next month: Japanese ramen restaurant Yamagoya, which operates a residency above Chinese hot pot restaurant Shuang Shuang in Shaftsbury Avenue, is to launch its first permanent UK site next month. Yamagoya will open in The Cut, near Waterloo station, on Monday, 9 October offering authentic ramen and Japanese cakes. The brand’s signature dish features hand-made noodles in smokey tonkotsu broth topped with pork belly, marinated bamboo shoot and kikurake mushrooms. Consumers can decide which toppings to add to their dish, including nori, kimchi and pickled mustard leaves known as takana. Additions to the menu for the new site include a charishi sushi bowl, while Yamagoya will also offer a range of Japanese desserts including the Instagram-friendly raindrop cake with a new option of matcha flavouring. The drinks list will include imported sparkling yuzu juice, melon tea and an aloe vera drink, alongside sake, house wine and beer. Masatoshi Ogata, who founded Yamagoya in 1969, told Hot Dinners: “We’ve spent the past few months testing and experimenting in our pop-up kitchen and, following such a warm reception, we are ready to build Yamagoya’s first real home in London – in a bigger and better space, with an added takeaway option.”
 
Deltic Group launches Atik nightclub in Hull: The Deltic Group, the UK’s largest operator of premium late-night bars and clubs with 58 venues across the UK, has brought its Atik brand to Hull. Sugar Mill nightclub in Princes Dock Street has reopened as Atik following a £1.1m refurbishment, creating 45 additional jobs. The main room at Atik showcases the latest light and sound technology, while dance room Vinyl features an illuminated dance floor, glitter balls and pop classics. Another room, Curve, offers a more intimate atmosphere playing RnB. The venue also features Deltic’s Lua Lalai Tiki bar, with bright Polynesian decor, classic hits and cocktails. General manager Tom Bowden told the Hull Daily Mail: “We have got VIP booths in every room. We didn’t want to have just one VIP area. The booths can hold 15 to 20 people. Everyone gets their own hostess who stays with them all night, as well as security making sure no one pinches their spot. We want people to come and have a good time and not be restricted to one type of music or atmosphere. We will be serving stone-baked pizzas all night, people can order shisha in Curve and even our security staff will be dressed in tweed to take away from the typical bouncer image. This club is going to fly.”
 
Pho launches Leicester restaurant for first East Midlands site: Vietnamese street food restaurant group Pho has launched a site in Leicester. The restaurant has opened in the Highcross shopping centre and is the brand’s first site in the East Midlands. The venue is Pho’s 24th in total after Stephen and Juliette Wall opened their first restaurant in Clerkenwell, London, in 2005 after they quit their jobs, travelled the world and found themselves inspired by Vietnamese cuisine. The restaurant is named after Vietnam’s national dish, pho, an aromatic and nutritious rice noodle soup served with fresh herbs. The menu also features spicy salads, wok-fried noodles, curries, Vietnamese beer, and cocktails made with premium spirits such as the signature Phojito or Pho’s twist on an espresso martini made with Vietnamese coffee and condensed milk. Pho’s next venue is due to open at the £440m Westgate Oxford development later this autumn.
 
Mexican chef Martha Ortiz opens Park Lane restaurant: Chef Martha Ortiz has brought her Mexican gastronomy to London by opening Ella Canta. The restaurant is at the InterContinental London Park Lane hotel and promises to “deliver the beauty, vibrancy and spirit of modern Mexico”. Ella Canta translates as “she sings” in Spanish, a phrase Ortiz said symbolised the “expressiveness, passion, pride and femininity communicated through her cooking”. Ortiz has drawn inspiration from her renowned restaurant Dulce in Mexico City, with her London menu offering dishes such as seafood and lobster pozole, and vampire ceviche with mango and sangrita sorbet. The menu also features mole, the sauce said to date to the 16th century, when each Mexican woman had their own family recipe. Ella Canta offers a tasting menu of seven mole sauces that contain an average of 20 to 30 ingredients each. The venue’s standalone bar focuses on mezcal and tequila, with signature cocktails and a small plate-style menu. Ortiz said: “I adore London. The art, the culture and the people are such an inspiration and I am thrilled to bring the food of my homeland, with all its colour, poetry and magic, to this beautiful city.”
 
Bistrot Pierre to open first north east site, in Middlesbrough this week: Private equity-backed restaurant group Bistrot Pierre will open its first site in the north east, in Middlesbrough this week. The company, which currently operates 21 outlets, will open the restaurant in Albert Road underneath the Holiday Inn Express Hotel, creating 50 jobs. It is investing £1m in the venue, which will seat more than 200 diners, including on a Parisian-styled outdoor terrace, when it opens on Friday (22 September). Bistrot Pierre co-owner Rob Beacham said: “Middlesbrough is an ideal location for us to open a new bistrot. We’re really excited about bringing our great-value French cooking to the town. We have invested about £1m into the town centre premises, which has been transformed into a beautifully-styled French bistrot. I’m confident we’ll grow a loyal customer base in the area.” Last month, Bistrot Pierre agreed a deal with a property company to develop visitor accommodation near its venue in Plymouth. The 14-bedroom Bistrot Pierre Rooms will open in grade I-listed Admirals House and will be the company’s first site to offer accommodation. Bistrot Pierre, founded by Beacham and John Whitehead in 1994, received £9.8m from private equity firm Livingbridge in 2015 to support its expansion plans. Its next restaurant will open in Southport later this autumn.
 
Deliveroo to recruit another 250 workers in Ireland: Deliveroo is to create work for 250 new riders to service “growing demand” in Dublin, Belfast and Cork. The company said rider recruitment days will take place in the coming weeks, while the development would “build on recent rapid growth” across Ireland in the past year. Deliveroo now works with 861 riders in Ireland, which is up 33% in the past 12 months. The firm now partners with 567 restaurants across Ireland, which represents a 54% increase in the past 12 months. Accounts filed for Deliveroo Ireland show sales of €2.9m last year, comprising the fees generated for the company for the use of its platform. It does not include users’ spend on food, which goes directly to restaurants. The company launched in Dublin in 2015 and has expanded rapidly across Cork, Galway, Belfast and Limerick. “This growth is driven by the well paid, flexible work Deliveroo offers,” said the company. In a survey of riders conducted by the company, 80% said flexibility was the benefit of riding with Deliveroo they valued the most. Seven out of ten commended the new fee-per-delivery arrangement, citing better flexibility. Half of riders choose to work with Deliveroo as a sideline to another main job, while overall rider satisfaction was high, with 84% stating they were happy or very happy to work with the company.
 
M&B to convert Toby Carvery site in Bromsgrove to Miller & Carter: Mitchells & Butlers is to convert the Toby Carvery in Marlbrook, Bromsgrove, into a Miller & Carter steakhouse, creating 50 jobs. The Birmingham Road site will shut in late October to be converted into the Miller & Carter brand. A spokesman said: “We can confirm as part of Mitchells & Butlers’ commitment to continually review its estate, Toby Carvery Marlbrook will be converting to a new Miller & Carter steakhouse this year. The carvery will be closing towards the end of October and we can’t wait to introduce locals to our exciting new restaurant.” The change in brand comes as part of a commitment by Mitchells & Butlers to complete about 300 remodels of restaurant chains in its UK portfolio this year.
 
Carlisle-based operators to open second site: Carlisle-based operators Ilka Rhoades and Alex Murrell are to open their second site in the city. The duo, who run The Thin White Duke in Devonshire Street, are reopening the former Hourglass in Scotland Road, Stanwix, under an as yet undisclosed new name. The property is undergoing refurbishment and will relaunch at either the end of the month or in early October. Rhoades told the News & Star the new venue would “serve food of the same quality as The Thin White Duke”. The Thin White Duke opened in 2010 on the site of the former Glasshouse pub.
 
AB InBev to launch alcohol-free Budweiser Prohibition in UK: Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) is to launch its alcohol-free Budweiser Prohibition beer in the UK later this year. The move was announced as part of the company’s Global Be(er) Responsible Day on Friday (15 September). Budweiser Prohibition was first produced during the US Prohibition era in the 1920s and is brewed to the same recipe as regular Budweiser. The beer will be initially available in 330ml cans only, with additional formats planned for 2018. AB InBev said the launch would mark its continuing expansion of low and no-alcohol beers in the UK, joining Beck’s Blue and Bud Light, which launched in the UK in March. AB InBev has pledged through its Global Smart Drinking Goals initiative that 20% of its beer volumes produced globally will be low or no-alcohol by 2025. Figures released by Nielsen last month revealed Britons consumed a record 18.2 million litres of low and no-alcohol beer during the past year. Sales in the past 12 months across the category are up 20% in value and 17% in volume. Jason Warner, president of AB InBev North Europe, said: “The no-alcohol beer category has been waiting for a major player to come in with something new and innovative. As well as a great-tasting beer and iconic brand, it is a clear signal of our commitment to smart drinking.”

Birmingham-based pub owners to launch street food cafe concept Kanteen this week: Kieran McInerney and Ciaran Healy, who operate The Old Crown pub in Birmingham, are to launch street food cafe concept Kanteen at the city’s independent shopping destination, the Custard Factory. Kanteen will open on Friday (22 September) offering “unusual breakfasts, brunches and lunches” in hot boxes, with McInerney and Healy pledging to donate a meal to the homeless for every box it sells. The hot boxes have been inspired by world street food and feature protein-rich meals using ingredients such as quinoa. McInerney told the Birmingham Mail: “We have plans to start evening menus but we’re focusing on breakfast, brunch and lunch to start with. We’ll invite community groups to use the space for free events in the evening and we want to introduce staff ownership. In a similar way to John Lewis, we will give all our staff a 10% share in the company. We’ve had some really good feedback on our hot food, especially our vegan boxes. They’ve proved popular, even with meat-eaters. A lot of people are choosing to have meat-free days. People are more willing to try new things, which is why street food is becoming so popular.”
 
Four In A Bed television show winner to take on second Derbyshire site: Derbyshire-based Connie Eleftheriou, who transformed The Bubble in Stenson from a boarded-up business into a thriving pub with accommodation that won a series of television reality show Four In A Bed, is to acquire a second pub. Eleftheriou is moving back to his home town of Ashbourne to take on The Royal Oak in Mayfield Road. He told the Derby Telegraph: “It’s going to be great to come back to Ashbourne. I’ve been away for eight years and learned a lot from turning The Bubble round. People told me I was mad when I took on The Bubble, it had been boarded up for five months. But now it’s one of the busiest canalside pubs in the country. I’m going to do the same thing at The Royal Oak. I’m going to put my stamp on it and replicate what I have at The Bubble.” Eleftheriou said he plans to enter The Royal Oak into the reality television series, which pits bed and breakfast owners against each other. He has also pledged to retain all staff at The Royal Oak and recruit more in the coming weeks.

Bristol foodservice app secures £155,000 investment: A Bristol-developed app and website that aims to help people discover the best food and drink in their cities has secured investment. Wriggle, based in King Street, has been awarded £155,000 by the Bristol Private Equity Club to help it grow to the next stage. It is part of £320,000 raised in total. The app, which provides articles, videos, guides and offers, has already been used to connect about 100,000 users to a range of restaurants, cafes and bars. Wriggle founder Rob Hall said: “The investment will allow us to continue our growth in our exciting cities – Bristol, Brighton and Cardiff – and reach our break-even target in 2018. At the same time, we’ll prepare our platform for a UK roll-out to continue our mission of supporting the best independent food & drink establishments in the country.” Bristol Private Equity Club founder Jerry Barnes added: “Twelve of our members have joined together to invest the £155,000. It is the club’s seventh deal and means a total of £1.4m has been invested into Bristol-based businesses since we launched in May 2016. Wriggle is typical of modern internet-based businesses that can grow very quickly and need funding at each level to ensure they keep the momentum they need in a competitive market place.”

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