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Mon 25th Sep 2017 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Inbound visitor numbers increase 6% in July but show slowdown in growth: Total visitor numbers to the UK increased 6% year-on-year for the month of July but inbound tourism has seen a slowdown in growth from the 13% rise in the first four months of 2017, according to the latest British Hospitality Association’s (BHA) Travel Monitor. The data showed continued, albeit slower growth, in inbound passenger numbers from North America, up 9% in July. Meanwhile, short-haul travel from Europe for the month showed signs of recovery, after a weak couple of months, with passengers up 4%. Outbound holiday passenger numbers continued to be volatile, down 3% in July but up 2% year to date. The BHA said these figures might show more Brits deciding to stay home due to the continued weakness of the pound. Overall UK spend by overseas residents grew by 3% year-on-year, which is below the overall growth in visitor numbers. Inbound holiday passenger numbers grew 12% year-on-year whereas business passengers coming to the UK continued to decline, falling by 1.7% compared with the previous year and 2.6% year to date. Chief executive Ufi Ibrahim said: “While it is positive to see the continued growth in inbound visitor numbers, overall our members are still facing difficult trading conditions compared with the earlier part of this year. The latest BHA Travel Monitor shows inbound travel from Europe in July was up 4%, and that growth in visitors from North America has slowed, demonstrating that relying on currency fluctuations is not a proper tourism strategy. With business travel remaining weak, the government must ensure the UK remains open for business. Elsewhere, data from Kantar TNS shows that, in England, domestic day visits decreased in volume by 11% in the three months to July 2017. We are disadvantaged by some of the highest tourism taxes in Europe and this, along with the recent tragic terror attacks, has discouraged day trips to England’s top attractions and sites of interest.”
 

Industry News:

Propel Multi Club Conference open for bookings, Simon Chaplin 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. Simon Chaplin, head of restaurants at Christie & Co, will provide an overview of the pub, restaurant, foodservice and hotel sector mergers and acquisitions landscape, current valuations in the market and the do’s and don’ts when attempting to attract investment or sell a hospitality business. He will also provide insights on the range of investors that are seeking to invest in the sector. 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

European hotel market reports strong performance in August: The European hotel market reported strong performance in August, with increases in revpar, average daily rate and occupancy. STR data for the month revealed revpar rose 7.6% to €90.26 compared with the previous year, while occupancy was up 16.1% to 65.5% and average daily rate increased 1.5% to €81.48. Among the best-performing countries was Belgium, which saw revpar up to 17.8% to €53.35, occupancy rise 16.1% to 65.5% and average daily rate increase 1.5% to €81.48. STR analysts said Belgium’s performance has risen steadily since late last year as the country continued to recover from the March 2016 terror attacks in Brussels. Demand increased 15.5% during August, while supply declined 0.5% year-on-year. Brussels posted a 26.8% increase in occupancy to 59.6%, while average daily rate was up 0.8% to €78.80.
 
Prime minister appears to be listening to industry over Brexit, say trade bodies: The Association of Multiple Retailers (ALMR) and the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) have said prime minister Theresa May appears to be listening to the industry’s needs after making further assurances over the UK’s Brexit proposals. ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The prime minister’s confirmation she will seek agreement with the EU to implement a two-year transition period is welcome not only as a statement of intent but also as a wider signal of her commitment to safeguarding the interests of industries such as hospitality and avoiding a cliff edge for businesses who employ foreign labour. It is reassuring the government appears to be listening to our needs. The prime minister’s commitment to tariff-free trade between the UK and the EU in a future agreement is also welcome. Any imposition of tariffs would add to business costs and ultimately lead to higher costs for UK and EU consumers.” BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds added: “Theresa May’s explicit commitment to a transition period that retains current single market arrangements, as we have been urging, is very important for business in providing more certainty, as we move towards Brexit. I also welcome the prime minister’s clear intent to protect the rights of existing EU nationals in the UK. Our EU employees form a hugely valuable part of our workforce in the beer and pub sector, and a registration system that is quick and easy to complete online is important and welcome.”
 

Company News:

SSP Group to roll-out Paul Hollywood’s Knead concept as ‘opportunities arise’: UK-based transport hub foodservice specialist SSP will roll-out its bakery concept Knead, launched in partnership with celebrity baker Paul Hollywood, as and when “opportunities arise”. Speaking at the launch of the debut Knead at London’s Euston station, SSP UK chief executive Simon Smith said: “Knead has taken a couple of years to put together and we will look at more opening opportunities as they arise – but we want to learn how this concept sits with customers first. Obviously we want to do more after all the work we’ve put in but we’ve got to get it right before we roll it out.” Smith added there was no reason why Knead wouldn’t work at SSP’s airport sites. Euston Knead will officially open at the end of September, offering hand-crafted barista coffee and Hollywood’s personal breakfast favourites such as bacon butties. The lunch menu will focus on British classics such as hand-made pies with mash and gravy, sausage rolls (sold by the inch), deli sandwiches, and freshly baked pastries and cakes. Hollywood said: “The offer features food I grew up with and ingredients I like. All the recipes are my recipes. It’s about standards, which is why I chose SSP – our teams worked beautifully together on this concept. My family live in the north and I live in the south, which is why Euston is so perfect.” Smith added: “We have worked with Paul on everything from decor to the food, of course. The price point is approachable for all customers and it’s comfortable, authentic and accessible. The food is always the hero – and I think the food is great.” The site seats about 25 diners but is mainly aimed at the grab-and-go market, with a counter and open kitchen behind it being the main focus. Network Rail head of retail Daniel Charles said: “SSP is our largest partner and knows what does and doesn’t work at stations. About 70 million passengers pass through Euston every year, add to that the number of homes and offices around us and we are becoming a destination station.”

Chopstix appoints marketing director to aid expansion: Oriental brand Chopstix has appointed Rob Burns to the newly created position of marketing director with immediate effect. With a career spanning three decades, Burns joins from Harry Ramsden’s where he held a similar position. Prior to that, he held senior marketing posts both in house and within agencies, working with brands including Burger King, Little Chef and Whitbread-owned Costa Coffee. Chopstix chief operating officer Max Hilton Jenvey said: “With his first-class track record and wealth of experience, Rob is widely respected within our industry, so we are naturally extremely pleased to announce his appointment to this important new role within Chopstix. As we gear the business for continued growth, we are delighted to have someone of Rob’s calibre and expertise to oversee the development and implementation of the brand marketing strategy and franchise programme that will complement our corporate development.” Chopstix, which was founded by Menashe Sadik and Sam Elia, has 42 company-owned and 32 franchised sites in the UK and Ireland and has doubled its outlet count in just 18 months. With further growth in mind, Chopstix said it is currently engaged in franchise negotiations with several high-profile, multi-site operators and already counts motorway service operators Welcome Break and Applegreen among its growing base of franchise partners. Burns said: “Research indicates Asian influenced foods are among the fastest growing in the UK so with its contemporary look and feel, excellent product offering and mass market appeal, Chopstix is perfectly positioned to quickly become brand leader in this field. I’m delighted to be joining Chopstix at this exciting time and look forward to contributing towards further developing the brand, allowing our franchise partners to continue to reap the rewards of their investment."

Cottons opens fourth London rum shack and restaurant, in Vauxhall: London-based Cottons Caribbean Restaurant and Rhum Shack has opened its fourth site in the capital and first south of the Thames. The company has opened the venue at St Georges Wharf in Vauxhall. The 600 square foot site comprises an indoor restaurant and rum shack bar, with additional seating on the outside terrace. Drawing inspiration from across the Caribbean, the menu includes marinated jerk chicken wings, spiced salt fish fritters with green mango chutney and chilli jam, and lobster and crayfish mac ‘n’ cheese. The rum shack bar showcases 300 rums sourced from around the world alongside rum-based cocktails. Owner Chris Singam said: “We are excited to venture south of the river to bring the contagious spirit of the Caribbean to Vauxhall.” Singam launched Cottons in 1985, with its other sites in Camden, Notting Hill and Shoreditch. He also operates pan-Asian bar and restaurant concept Miusan in Camden.
 
Two freehold restaurants let to Prezzo to be auctioned: The freehold of two restaurants let to Prezzo are to be auctioned by Allsop on Tuesday, 17 October. A site in Queens Road, Buckhurst Hill, is to be auctioned with a guide price of £1.3m-plus. Prezzo holds a lease expiring in 2045 with no breaks, paying £65,000 per annum rent and annual Retail Price Index (RPI) reviews, suggesting a 5% gross initial yield for the buyer. Meanwhile, a freehold located in North Street, Bishop’s Stortford, is to be auctioned with a guide price of £1.4m-plus. Prezzo holds a lease until 2045 with no breaks, paying a rent of £80,000 per annum and RPI-linked rent reviews, suggesting a gross initial yield of 5.71% for the buyer.
 
Albion and East opens second site, in Brixton: Albion and East Group, which is supported by The Imbiba Partnership, has open its second site, in Brixton. The company has launched Canova Hall in Ferndale Road. The 4,579 square foot bar and restaurant, which has 200 covers in total, focuses on the building’s history as a workers’ canteen. Split over basement and ground floor, the market-style venue offers a relaxed workspace environment with hot-desking, fast Wi-Fi and coffee during the day before transforming into a late-night venue. As well as hand-made pizzas from a wood-fired oven, the venue offers homemade pasta and dishes inspired by Italian street vendors. Customers can use a cocktail trolley to mix their own drinks or “book a bartender” to create cocktails at their table. As with Albion and East Group’s debut site, Martello Hall in Hackney, Canova Hall features an on-site gin distillery. In the summer, founder Sarah Weir told Propel the company is aiming to open two sites next year.
 
Revolution Bars Group lodges plans to convert Pizza Hut site in Salisbury: Revolution Bars Group, operator of 68 premium bars, trading under the Revolution and Revolución de Cuba brands, has lodged plans to open a site in Salisbury, Wiltshire. The company has applied to Wiltshire Council to convert the Pizza Hut site in Blue Boar Row. Revolution Bars Group stated a new 25-year lease for the building has already been agreed following the expiration of Pizza Hut’s current lease, reports the Salisbury Journal. The application said: “The proposed alterations enable more of the disused and dilapidated areas of the old ‘dance hall’ and first floor to be renovated and brought into use for customer and staff areas. The upper levels will be overhauled to a design as now but repaired in good order. There is a small external seating area for tables and chairs with removable barriers to detail and application to highways.” The company also plans to knock down current courtyard buildings in Chipper Lane and create a garden area for customers. Stonegate Pub Company has reached an agreement to buy Revolution Bars Group for £101.5m with its shareholders due to vote on the proposal next month. The Deltic Group is also considering making an offer and has been given a deadline of Tuesday, 10 October to do so.
 
Newcastle-based Subway turned cold brew coffee entrepreneur receives ‘significant’ investment to accelerate growth: Newcastle-based coffee company Point Blank Cold Brew, which is the brainchild of the man credited with introducing Subway to the north east, has drawn up ambitious expansion plans after raising new capital. Founded by Josh Thompson, the company said it provided a “natural alternative” to traditional energy drinks, made from a process involving brewing specialty grade ground coffee in cold water for an extended period before filtering. It has secured its latest cash injection, the total of which remained undisclosed, through strategic high net worth individuals. The “significant sum” is set to further accelerate the growth and expansion of the brand, with plans in place to roll it out across the UK retail and foodservice markets. Discussions are also being held with partners to further accelerate growth across the US and Canada. Thompson, from Toronto, has already secured a deal to supply the San Francisco 49ers American football team. He told Insider Media: “Our goal is to pioneer and lead the global market with our cold brew coffee as a healthy and natural alternative to traditional energy drinks. We have developed a sophisticated distribution network, including a national listing with wholesale supplier, BidFood UK, which is capable of servicing our ambitious plans to widen our customer base and achieve ambitious sales targets within the next 12 months.” Thompson relocated to the UK 17 years ago to introduce the sandwich shop chain Subway to the north east, developing 90-plus locations over a 12-year period.
 
Samuel Smith’s gets go-ahead for new site in Leeds: North Yorkshire-based brewer and retailer Samuel Smith’s has been given the go-ahead to open a new site in Leeds. The company has been granted permission by the city council to open the bar, which could double as a restaurant, in Coal Road. Samuel Smith’s pubs are known for their traditional style that includes a company-wide ban on music and televisions. Full details of the Tadcaster-based brewery’s plans for the site, and when a pub could open, have not been revealed, reports the Yorkshire Evening Post. Samuel Smith’s planning agent DC-architecture said: “Its philosophy aims to provide authentic and traditional style public houses which should be considered as drinking establishments that also offer hearty pub food with quality and value underpinning the overall offering. As a matter of company policy, Samuel Smiths does not have any televisions or music whatsoever in its establishments, preferring instead to create a convivial and conversational atmosphere with the aim of attracting a discerning clientele.” Samuel Smith’s operates about 200 pubs, mostly in the north of England.
 
Camino to open Spanish tapas restaurant in Shoreditch next month for fifth London site: Camino, the London operator led by Richard Bigg and backed by the Business Growth Fund, is to open its fifth Spanish tapas restaurant in the capital, in Shoreditch next month. The venue will open at Principal Place in Curtain Road on Monday, 2 October and feature 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 other Camino sites are in King’s Cross, Monument, Bankside and Blackfriars, while the company also operates Bar Pepito in King’s Cross. Last month, the company reported turnover for the year ending 27 November 2016 increased 5% to £8,812,489, compared with £8,397,271 the previous year. Pre-tax profit fell by more than 50% to £180,602, compared with £387,476 the year before.
 
Doubt surrounds Coppa Club move in Maidenhead: Doubt surrounds whether Strada sub-brand Coppa Club will opening in Maidenhead after the venue the restaurant was set to move in to was advertised to let. The brand was granted a licence for a new venue in the Chapel Arches development in June by the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Council. However, new posters have recently gone up in windows of the Picturehouse development that said “waterside restaurant to let”. When contacted on Twitter to ask if it had pulled out of the move, a Coppa Club spokesman said: “We aren’t confirmed on a location just yet, so stay tuned on social media for updates.” Twitter users were disappointed with the response. Kareem Naaman said: “Hardly surprising with footfall the way it is and the ridiculous rent and rates these sites demand. #GhostTown.” Coppa Club has three sites in London and one in Sonning.
 
D&D London to open flagship Bluebird in Covent Garden: D&D London is to open a flagship Bluebird clothing store and restaurant in Covent Garden. The new venue will open in Carriage Hall, Floral Street, early next year. Called The Shop at Bluebird, the new 15,000 square foot space will be set over three floors with an expansive restaurant on the second. The original King’s Road Bluebird includes a restaurant, where former head chefs have included the Michelin-starred Chris Galvin and MasterChef judge John Torode, as well as a cafe, terrace bar and clothes shop. It is not yet clear whether the second-floor restaurant in Carriage Hall will be a similar offering to Bluebird Chelsea, The London Evening Standard reported. Carriage Hall, a 19th-century grade II-listed building yards from the Covent Garden Piazza, has recently had a multimillion-pound refurbishment. For the past week, it has hosted a number of Fashion Week shows. 
 
Michelin-starred chef Anton Piotrowski to open ticket-only restaurant in Liverpool: Michelin-starred chef and MasterChef: The Professionals winner Anton Piotrowski has acquired a site in Liverpool. Piotrowski has secured Puschka in Rodney Street as its owners Doug Eglin and Glen Dumbell prepare to open a boutique bed and breakfast in southern France. Piotrowski, who won Masterchef: The Professionals in 2012, will open his new ticket-only restaurant Roski in mid-November following a refurbishment of the property. The restaurant will operate a ticket system similar to what The Clove Club does in London where customers pay for their meal in advance from a set lunch menu, or a five or eight course tasting menu in the evening and pay for drinks on the day. Piotrowski told the Liverpool Echo: “I was looking around the whole country for somewhere to launch this new business and people were talking about Liverpool all the time. The food scene here seemed to be massive, with so many different cultures and styles.”
 
Wine Inns to open bar and restaurant in Belfast this week: Wine Inns, which runs bars and nightclubs in Belfast and is led by Patrick Hunt, will open a new bar and restaurant in the city this week. The company will launch The Doyen on Thursday, 28 September on the site of the former King’s Head restaurant and bar in Lisburn Road, creating 80 jobs. The company acquired the site for almost £2.5m 18 months ago and has invested more than £1.5m to refurbish the property. The 15,000 square foot venue will have a 140-cover Italian-style restaurant including a private dining space for 40, a cafe-bar aimed at day-time family trade, a cocktail bar and a 140-space function room. The main bar areas will offer booths, while a significant investment has gone into an outside area that includes a huge canopy space complete with outdoor fireplace. Hunt told the Irish News: “The old place had become tired and it required major surgery.” Wine Inns’ other sites include the Chelsea Wine Bar, Alibi and the Four Winds. The company, which also operates the Winemark off-licence chain, is also investing in a number of other venues around Belfast, including the Robinson’s Bar complex in the city centre.
 
JD Wetherspoon will not face criminal prosecution over A-board death, Tax Equality Day produces 17% volume increase: JD Wetherspoon will not face criminal proceedings after the death of a Bingley pensioner, a coroner’s court has heard. Keith Holmes, 73, somehow came into contact with an A-board outside the company’s Myrtle Grove pub in the town’s Main Street on 19 November last year, hitting his head on the ground. Holmes, of Canal Road, died from a head injury the next day at Bradford Royal Infirmary. The incident was being investigated by Bradford Council’s environmental health department to see if there was any criminal culpability. At a second pre-inquest review, lead investigating officer Jane Bradbury told Bradford coroner Martin Fleming its investigation was now over. A letter has been sent to Wetherspoon from Bradford Council confirming no further action would be taken. Fleming noted: “Wetherspoon has been extremely co-operative right from the start.” At the first pre-inquest review last month, Fleming said he was not happy that essential statements had only been coming in “dribs and drabs”. But, at the latest hearing he said those difficulties had been overcome. He said: “I’m not in the blame game. I’m in the business of conducting a thorough fact-finding exercise.” Accident statistics from Wetherspoon, design details of the A-board, details of training given to Wetherspoon staff about using A-boards and instructions about using them in adverse weather have also now been received by Fleming. Meanwhile, Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin has hailed Tax Equality Day as an outstanding success. Almost 900 Wetherspoon pubs across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, lowered their prices by 7.5% on Wednesday (20 September) to highlight the benefit of a VAT reduction in the hospitality industry. Martin said: “Our like-for-like volumes (excluding new pubs) were up by 17% against the same day last year. Apart from the fantastic sales increase on the day, the overriding benefit of the day was to get the important tax equality message over to the general public, which we achieved in our pubs and across the media.”
 
Eataly enters the convenience market in the US with Eataly Proto: Eataly has entered the convenience market in the US. Founded in Italy by Oscar Farinetti and brought to the US with partners Mario Batali and Lidia and Joe Bastianich, it has launched the grab-and-go meal concept called Eataly Pronto. Pronto is currently only available in the chain’s US location of Manhattan, but should be spotted in other Eataly locations in New York, a representative of the company told Eater. Currently, Eataly Pronto is available in the store’s standalone refrigerator with a number of salads and sandwiches. All items are priced between $6 and $13.
 
Fever Bars opens site in Exeter: Fever Bars, led by managing director Mark Shorting, has opened its latest nightclub, in Exeter. The company has opened the venue in Mary Arches Street having secured the lease of the former Club Rococo site through agent Christie & Co. The club, which closed in 2016 after the departure of the previous tenant, has been transformed into a twin-themed venue and reopened under the new name Fever & Boutique. Stephen Champion, senior agent at Christie & Co’s Exeter office, who brokered the deal, said: “City centre licensed leisure opportunities in Exeter remain highly desirable assets that attract interest from both national and local operators alike. It’s great to see this unit being given a new lease of life.”
 
UberEats not affected by revocation of Uber’s London taxi licence: UberEats, the click-and-deliver service, will not be affected by the revocation of Uber’s taxi firm licence. A spokesman told The Evening Standard: “The licence is granted by Transport for London and only applies to private-hire operations meaning it has no impact on UberEats.” Transport for London chiefs said the minicab app is “not fit and proper” to operate in the capital due to concerns including “public safety and security implications”. Uber’s current licence ends on Saturday (30 September). The company can appeal the decision within 21 days, and continue to operate in London while the process is ongoing. “By wanting to ban our app from the capital, Transport for London and the mayor have given in to a small number of people who want to restrict consumer choice,” an Uber spokesman said. “If this decision stands, it will put more than 40,000 licensed drivers out of work and deprive millions of Londoners of a convenient and affordable form of transport. This decision is affecting the real lives of a huge number of honest and hard-working drivers in London.”

Owner of ‘dirtiest in the world’ restaurant banned from running sites indefinitely: The owner of a Greek restaurant dubbed “the dirtiest in the world” has been banned from managing restaurants indefinitely. When health and safety officers raided Zorba’s Greek Taverna in Bayswater, London, they found it littered with cockroach eggs and mice droppings. There were sewage flies living in a tahini dip. Chef Pavlos Pittas, 60, admitted four charges of failing to protect food from vermin, rendering his food “unfit for human consumption”. Magistrate Margot Coleman handed him an indefinite prohibition order from managing restaurants and said the venue in Leinster Terrace was “one of the dirtiest restaurants I have seen”. Coleman told Pittas: “Your restaurant has been closed on more than one occasion because of poor conditions. The fact is there’s a continuing trend over a long number of years of appalling hygiene in your premises. You seem to run your restaurant with complete disregard for the regulations that exist to protect members of the public from becoming ill.” Westminster City Council inspectors found mouse droppings under a counter used in food preparation and all over the kitchen. There were rat droppings and rat hairs on the kitchen floor and cockroach egg cases and mouse droppings outside the cold room. Cockroaches were found in the basement storeroom and on a shelf used to store lentils and dry goods. 
 
Nando’s to open restaurant at new £45m complex in Weston-super-Mare: Nando’s is to open a site at the new £45m Dolphin Square complex in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, in late October. Nando’s joins a number of restaurants to have signed up for the new leisure complex, including buffet brand Mimosa, PizzaExpress, Prezzo and Brazilian grill-house Preto. The complex will be anchored by an eight-screen Cineworld cinema, which will feature large screens of about nine metres in height and steep seating to provide an ideal view. A Nando’s spokesman told Somerset Live: “We know there are a lot of peri-peri fans in Weston-super-Mare and the good news is a new Nando’s will be coming to the area in late October. We can’t wait to start hosting people at the new restaurant.” This week, dessert parlour brand Kaspa’s opened its latest site in Weston-super-Mare. In August, Nando’s opened a site in Aylesford, Kent. The brand has more than 1,000 restaurants across the globe, with almost 400 in the UK and Ireland.
 
Pizza Hut returns to Nuneaton after four-year hiatus: Pizza Hut is returning to Nuneaton in Warwickshire after a four-year hiatus. The company has applied to Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council to “erect illuminated signage” for a takeaway and delivery store in Queens Road at a site that formerly housed the Cock And Bear pub. Pre-existing planning permission has already been granted to house a takeaway in the building. It would be the first time Pizza Hut has offered a delivery service in the town. A Pizza Hut spokesperson told the Coventry Telegraph: “We will be opening a new store in Nuneaton in the coming months.” Pizza Hut operated a restaurant in Nuneaton’s Abbey Street for many years but closed it in March 2013. The nearest site to Nuneaton at the moment is at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry. Earlier this month, Pizza Hut UK reported sales rose 3% to £233m in the year to 4 December 2016, with like-for-like sales up 3%. At the year-end its estate stood at 266 sites, down six from the year before.
 
Cotswolds-based operators sell Oxfordshire village pub: Cotswolds-based operators Peter Golding and Assumpta Monaghan are on the trail of another new business venture following the sale of the Chandlers Arms in Epwell, near Banbury. The duo have sold the grade-II listed Oxfordshire village pub to a private buyer following a deal brokered by agents Colliers International. It had been on the market for £350,000 plus VAT. The pub has owners’ accommodation plus a two-storey extension, a bar with seating for about 12 and a dining room normally laid for another 12. The deal marked a personal hat-trick for Colliers International hotels director Peter Brunt, who over a period of time also sold Golding and Monaghan’s previous ventures – the Horse and Groom in Upper Oddington, and the Chequers in Churchill. Golding said: “While we have thoroughly enjoyed our renovation projects the time has come to take things a bit easier and we’re now hoping Peter might help us find a nice coffee shop or bed and breakfast either here in the Cotswolds or another premier location such as the Lake District, Devon or Cornwall.”
 
Italian coffee brands open flagship sites ahead of Starbuck’s arrival: Two of Italy’s biggest coffee houses are reinforcing their brands with flagship cafes in Milan near the spot where Starbucks is set to begin an invasion next year. Lavazza has opened its first flagship cafe in the city, not far from the renovated 19th century palazzo where Starbucks will open its first Italian store, a “Reserve Roasteries” outlet offering speciality blends and food. Another top Italian brand, Illycaffe, opened its own luxury cafe close to the Starbucks site in May. Lavazza, which is opening near the city’s famous La Scala opera house, and Illycaffe both deny their moves are a response to a global rival’s impending arrival, a first step in what may become a 200-store expansion. Industry experts suspect it is no coincidence. “Lavazza and Illycaffe are the purists of coffee, they want to show they are there when Starbucks arrives,” said Jean-Paul Gaillard, who ran Nespresso for ten years before founding the Ethical Coffee Company, a Swiss firm selling coffee pods.
 
Loungers eyes Witham opening: Cafe brand Loungers, which is backed by Lion Capital, is eyeing an opening in the Essex town of Witham. The company has applied to change the use of a large building in Newland Street in a move that could bring 15 jobs to the town centre. The building is grade II-listed and used to be home to HSBC bank. The bank closed the branch in November 2015. A heritage statement said the front of the property would “remain essentially unchanged” and because of previous renovations to turn the property into a bank, the redevelopment would cause “less than significant harm” to the heritage asset. The statement said: “The ground floor has been comprehensively remodelled and modernised for retail banking leaving no interior fixtures of historic interest and no sense of the usual original historic room layout.”
 
Fentimans reports on-trade ginger beer sales up 29%: Fentimans has reported sales of its ginger beer are up 29% year-on-year in the on-trade as it launches its first national campaign focusing solely on the drink. Fentimans kicked off the campaign with activity at a number of leading universities, where it aims to introduce ginger beer to a new generation of consumers. Fentimans has teamed up with the theatre company behind the highly acclaimed “Gin Chronicles”, which was a big hit at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe, to perform street theatre in the quadrangles of some of Britain’s universities. The activity will be supported by a digital campaign, targeted print advertising and in-store activity during September and October. Fentimans owner Eldon Robson said: “Delivering an integrated campaign focused on ginger beer with the aim of recruiting a younger consumer audience will act as a catalyst for our ambitious plans in the months and years ahead.”

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