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Fri 22nd Dec 2017 - Propel Friday News Briefing
This is the last Propel newsletter of 2017. We would like to take the opportunity to wish our readers a Merry Christmas and a prosperous new year

Story of the Day:

CGA – number of licensed premises in UK holding steady: Britain’s number of licensed premises has stayed level in the past year despite mounting cost pressures, patchy confidence and Brexit-related issues. That is the headline finding of the December edition of the Market Growth Monitor from CGA and AlixPartners. It showed Britain had 122,783 licensed premises in September 2017 – a very small drop on the number three months previously, and virtually identical to the total in September 2016. The monitor confirmed the two main long-term trends in the licensed trade – a steady decline in Britain’s pubs and a steady increase in its restaurants, especially from casual dining groups. The tally of drink-led pubs has fallen by 2.3% in the past year, but restaurants have increased in number by 1.6% in the same period. As previous editions of the monitor have revealed that growth has been fuelled by startup and medium-sized casual dining operators in particular. It said the figures were a sign of confidence in the licensed sector at the end of a year characterised by increases in food, property and people costs. Uncertainty over the consequences of the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, especially around the crucial issue of migrant labour, had dented the sector too. CGA’s recent Business Confidence Survey revealed just 30% of leaders felt optimistic about prospects for the eating and drinking out market over the next 12 months. The monitor also revealed a striking split in the crucial London market, with licensed premises in the centre of the capital still increasing but operators further out retrenching slightly. Restaurant numbers in inner London have increased by 3.1% in the year to September – but fallen by 0.3% in outer London. New openings in London have been driven by small and medium-sized managed restaurant groups, which have respectively increased their number of sites by 75% and 94% in just five years. Large groups operate 53% of all managed restaurants in outer London – but just 30% in inner London. CGA vice-president Peter Martin said: “There is no escaping the fact 2017 has been a very tough year for many pub and restaurant operators, with steep rises in food costs and Brexit just two of the big challenges. But these figures are proof of the steely resilience of the sector and consumers’ continued appetite for eating and drinking out. Conditions aren’t about to get any easier next year, but there are reasons for cautious optimism as we draw towards the end of 2017.” AlixPartners managing director Graeme Smith added: “At a site expansion level, the prevalent macro trends continue – a contracting pub market and the measured growth of food-led outlets. Although the market’s long-term fundamentals – including consumer demand – remain robust, the sector’s immediate trading performance is what positive operators are politely calling ‘soft’. Many parts of the market are currently under pressure, and like-for-like sales growth has slowed in a competitive environment. When combined with the backdrop of sustained cost inflation, profit growth is becoming harder to come by.”

Industry News:

More than 400 booked for Restaurant Marketer & Innovator event series in January: More than 400 senior executives have now booked for Restaurant Marketer & Innovator, the most comprehensive marketing series the sector has seen. Propel will stage the two-day event in partnership with Think Hospitality on Wednesday, 17 January and Thursday, 18 January at One Moorgate Place in London. An array of marketers from agencies and early-stage, growing and rejuvenating brands will take to the stage to share their strategies and winning tactics. Companies and brands attending include Novus, Signature Pubs, Cafe Rouge, Wagamama, Brasserie Bar Co, Las Iguanas, YO! Sushi, Fuller’s, ASK Italian, Mitchells & Butlers, G1 Group, Costa Coffee, Ei Group, Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group, Brewhouse & Kitchen, Stonegate Pub Company, Be At One, Revolution Bars Group, Cabana, Thai Leisure Group, New World Trading Company, Pho, Maxwell’s Group, Gather & Gather, Oakman Inns and Restaurants, The Breakfast Club, The Coaching Inn Group, Gail’s Bakery, Gordon Ramsay Restaurants, K10, Giggling Squid, San Carlo Group, Ennismore, TLC Inns, Polpo, FrogPubs, The Real Eating Company, Claus Meyer Holding, VIP Pizza, 200 Degrees, Coppa Club, Snug Bars, Albion & East, Pint Shop, True North Brew Co, Darwin & Wallace, Chit Chaat Chai, BabaBoom, Electric Star and Eat Poke. For full details of the two days, co-ordinated by James Hacon and Ann Elliott respectively, click here. Conference prices for two days are £525 plus VAT for operators and £795 plus VAT for suppliers. Companies buying two tickets will receive a third one free. A one-day rate of £345 plus VAT is available to operators only. For more information and to book, call Jo Charity on 01444 810304 or email jo.charity@propelinfo.com or Anne Steele on 01444 817691 or anne.steele@propelinfo.com

UK brewers to save £7.2m with US tax cuts: Significant cuts in US beer duty that will save British beer exporters £7.2m have been backed by the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA). Taxes are being reduced by $2 per US barrel for all brewers exporting to the US from the UK. The UK exports 3.4 million barrels to the US each year – Britain’s largest export market. Through a new beer export strategy recently launched by the BBPA, the industry has set itself a target of achieving £100m growth over the next five years. BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “I welcome this tax reduction in the US, which will provide opportunities for British brewers to pursue markets in the US. US small brewers still enjoy tax advantages over UK brewers. When they export to the UK, they receive all the advantages of the UK’s Small Brewer Relief, yet the federal discounts offered in the US are not available to the UK’s small brewers. This is something we tried hard to correct through the US/EU negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and would like to see tackled under any forthcoming US/UK trade deal. We must however congratulate the US Beer Institute for all its work to achieve reductions in beer taxation and for its co-operation with us to help UK beer exports.”

European hotel industry reports record November occupancy but overall UK performance ‘flat’: The European hotel industry has seen record occupancy for the month of November but overall performance in the UK was “flat”, according to new research. STR data showed the continent’s occupancy level increased 1.9% to 71.2% compared with last year. Analysts said the figure was “especially notable given several acts of terrorism earlier in the year and the added challenge of political instability in several of the region’s major markets”. When examining specific days of the week, Tuesdays (80.3%) and Wednesdays (77.8%) showed the highest occupancy rates, which STR said suggested corporate demand remained a strong factor in overall performance results in Europe. Meanwhile, average daily rate was up 3.8% to €105.45 compared with the previous year while revpar rose 5.8% to €75.11. Performance in the UK was “relatively flat” with occupancy down 1.3% to 77.6%, average daily rate up 1.9% to £93.52 and revpar increasing 0.6% to £72.59. Turkey reported the largest year-on-year increases in occupancy (+13.4% to 62.7%), average daily rate (+16.7% to TRY266.26) and revpar (+32.3% to TRY166.98). The second-highest jump in revpar was seen in Portugal (+23.1% to €57.11). 

Funding agreed for Basildon cinema and restaurant complex project: Plans for a cinema and restaurant complex in Basildon, Essex, are a step closer after funding was agreed for the project. The proposals would see East Square transformed into a new leisure area with a ten-screen cinema, space for six new restaurants, and landscaping and improvements to the local area. Basildon Council has now agreed the funding to progress the scheme. Regeneration and environment committee chairman Cllr Alan Ball told Essex Live: “We are committed to making East Square a destination of choice rather than convenience and to creating a vibrant town centre with a viable night-time economy.”

Company News:

Ei Group executives see fall in bonus pay, CFO to receive 3.1% salary rise: Ei Group executives have seen a fall in their bonus pay this year while chief financial officer Neil Smith is set for a 3.1% salary rise, the company’s annual report has revealed. The report showed chief executive Simon Townsend was awarded a bonus of £473,000 – 98.5% of the maximum opportunity of 150% of salary – while chief financial officer Neil Smith received £390,000 – 99.5% of the maximum opportunity of 150% of salary. This was down from the 105.5% and 106.5% respectively received the year before when Townsend’s bonus was £498,000 and Smith’s was £410,000. Townsend received total remuneration of £1,104,000 for the year ending 30 September 2017 compared with £1,118,000 the previous year. This consisted of £480,000 salary and fees, £29,000 taxable benefits, £120,000 pension, £473,000 annual bonus and £2,000 in SIP matching shares. Smith was paid a total of £909,000, which was slightly down from £919,000 the year before. This was made up of £392,000 salary and fees, £29,000 taxable benefits, £98,000 pension and £390,000 annual bonus. Remuneration committee chairman Peter Baguley said: “The committee has reviewed the salaries for the executive directors which take effect on 1 January 2018, and has proposed an increase of 1.7% for Simon Townsend and 3.1% for Neil Smith. The maximum bonus opportunity for the 2018 financial year will be 150% of salary for both executive directors. An award of up to 80% of salary may be earned subject to the achievement of a sliding scale of adjusted basic earnings per share targets, up to 20% of salary may be earned subject to personal and strategic targets, and up to a further 50% of salary may be earned subject to the achievement of specific strategic milestones connected to the delivery of the company’s 2020 strategy.”

Denny’s franchisee secures seven-figure funding package for debut UK site and roll-out: Denny’s franchisee Magic Brands Group has secured a seven-figure funding package from HSBC to help with the roll-out of the US 24-hour diner brand as it prepares to make its UK debut. Magic Brands Group, owned by Leon Esfahani, will open the first Denny’s in Britain later this month, in Swansea. The funding has helped Esfahani to open the new restaurant and will be used to support the national roll-out of additional diners over the next three years. Plans to open the 4,000 square foot restaurant at Parc Tawe in Swansea were revealed in November, creating 70 jobs. Warren Lewis, HSBC head of corporate banking in South Wales, told Insider Media: “We are proud and excited to be involved in bringing this major US brand to the UK for the first time, and we look forward to continuing our work with Leon as he grows the business in the coming years.” Denny’s was founded in 1953 and currently has more than 1,700 restaurants worldwide.

SSP Group opens Starbucks at Athens airport: UK-based transport hub foodservice specialist SSP Group has opened its first Starbucks store in Greece. The new store is also the first location for Starbucks at Athens airport, creating a total of 29 stores across the country, since opening the first site in 2002. The store is in the landside area of the airport, and has views across the runway. “We are delighted to bring Starbucks to Athens airport,” said Mark Angela, chief commercial officer of SSP Group and chief executive of SSP EEME. “Starbucks is a brand loved by customers in Greece as it is across the globe. The store will be a great new addition to the existing offer at the airport, complementing the other SSP outlets, including our recently opened Eat Greek restaurant, which is setting new standards for dining.” SSP has a long-term partnership with Starbucks, currently operating stores in 15 markets worldwide. “Opening in Greece demonstrates our commitment to bring the Starbucks experience to more customers around the world,” added Angela.

Wickwar Wessex set to acquire three new pubs, on course to more than double turnover to £8.5m: Cotswolds-based brewer and retailer Wickwar Wessex is set to acquire three new pubs as it revealed it is on course to more than double turnover. Wickwar Wessex, which currently operates 17 pubs across the south west and brews two million pints of ale a year, is set to increase turnover from £3.5m to £8.5m in 2017. The company plans to continue to pursue its expansion strategy, with the three pub acquisitions planned for completion by early 2018, taking the number of venues in its portfolio to 20. Growth has been achieved through the rebrand of Wickwar’s range of ales, as well as the addition of a selection of new beers designed to attract a wider audience. The acquisition of the Cascade Pub Estate in July further bolstered the group’s position, adding four new pubs and 11 Moles Brewery ales to its portfolio. Royal Bank of Scotland has supported Wickwar Wessex since it was acquired by industry veterans Mike Watts, Mike Flavin and Ian Frost in 2007. It has provided loan facilities to enable the group to continue to focus on growth and the expansion of its pub business. Flavin told Insider Media: “We are focused on developing a strong, vertically integrated pub business that brews its own high-quality cask ales and have a firm long-term strategy in place for growth.”

Tees Inns buys third freehold site: Tees Inns, owned by Scott Weir and Derek Kewley, has acquired its third freehold site as part of its expansion plans. The company has purchased the Pow Burn, North Shields, for an undisclosed sum from property company API. Weir said: “We are delighted to have acquired the Pow Burn. It’s a great pub in a prominent location that appeals to both local people and those visiting North Shields. We are looking forward to working with the great team to enhance and improve on the current drink and food offers.” Tees Inns recently purchased the Isaac Wilson in Middlesbrough from JD Wetherspoon and also owns the Ivy House in Stockton-on-Tees, which it purchased in April.

Tom Kitchin to open fourth Edinburgh site: Michelin-starred chef Tom Kitchin is to open his fourth restaurant in Edinburgh. Kitchin said the new venue, which will be in the city’s Bruntsfield district, was a “different format” to the rest of his sites, which include his three Edinburgh outlets – the eponymous fine dining restaurant in Leith, bistro The Scran and Scallie, and Castle Terrace. He said the new venture would follow the “from nature to plate” philosophy adopted at his other restaurants, but would present a “fresh new proposition” to his other venues. The restaurant, in Bruntsfield Place, is in a building formerly occupied by a running shop. The venue is currently under refurbishment and is set to open next summer. Kitchin told The Scotsman: “We’ve been searching for a venue in the south side of the city for a long time now and are pleased to have found the ideal location in Bruntsfield Place. We aim to create a space with a genuine neighbourhood feel that locals will want to visit, time and again. Like our other restaurants, the new venue will be a different concept, which we’re really excited about.”

Soho House to reopen Kettner’s next month: Soho House will reopen Kettner’s, the Soho restaurant it acquired in 2015, as Kettner’s Townhouse next month. It will trade as a champagne bar, restaurant and guesthouse when it launches on Monday, 8 January. The upstairs of the building, previously a collection of dining rooms, has been converted into 33 bedrooms. The restaurant will use locally sourced ingredients to create a menu that is inspired by the history of the 150-year-old building. Many of the original grade II-listed details, floral plasterwork and heritage mirrors have been retained. The champagne bar has its original mosaic tiled floor, an early-deco 1920s design, French glass lights, walnut bar with marble top, sofas, armchairs and vintage photos. Soho House said: “The French restaurant and champagne bar has been restored, with the addition of 33 bedrooms, and renamed Kettner’s Townhouse. The bedrooms have been individually designed and feature original Georgian timber floorboards, antique fireplaces and a mix of new furniture and vintage pieces including Art Nouveau chandeliers.” 

Hospitality payment app Zapaygo passes 50% mark in £500,000 crowdfunding campaign for expansion: Zapaygo, a lifestyle and payment app for the sports, concert, leisure and hospitality sectors, has passed the 50% mark in its £500,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube for expansion. The app allows users to pre-order and pre-pay for food, drinks or goods before arriving at a venue or have them delivered to their table or home. Founder Richard Dilworth is offering a 5% equity stake in the company in return for the investment and so far 93 investors have pledged £272,650 with 19 days remaining. The largest investment has been £126,000. The pitch states: “Zapaygo has contracts with listed and large corporate companies to ensure it reaches millions of users and thousands of venues. Of our initial partners, Verteda EPOS has about 750,000 weekly users and NEC Group will promote Zapaygo monthly to 28 million people. Planned revenue streams are processing fees, marketing advertising discounts and rewards, brand placement, and big data. Benefits to businesses include less cash on site, an ability to market to existing customers and Zapaygo users and offer discounts and rewards to encourage repeat visitors, and combining app orders and orders to staff in one payment. Benefits to users include rewards and discounts, using Zapaygo as an approved form of ID verification in venues through Paycasso, linking accounts with other Zapaygo users, and peer-to-peer payments and messaging. Commercial highlights include a key strategic commercial partnership that will deliver global brand awareness and trust, mass user and venue adoption, robust technology, EPOS integration benefits, flexible payment-processing with market-leading providers, revenue opportunities via ads and consumer trend data, and a scalable model capable of replication internationally.”

Neville and Giggs submit revised plans for £200m Manchester mixed-use scheme: Revised plans for the £200m Manchester city centre development by the St Michael’s Partnership, fronted by former Manchester United stars Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs, have been lodged. The new proposal spares the historic Abercromby pub in Bootle Street, which dates to the Peterloo Massacre in 1819 and was the inspiration of the television series Life on Mars. It was previously set to be demolished to make way for the scheme but the St Michael’s Partnership has changed its plans for the transformation of the 1.5-acre Jackson’s Row site in the city centre. The revised scheme features 148,000 square feet of grade A office space, 30,000 square feet of food and drink space, 189 luxury apartments, a 216-bedroom five-star international hotel with a gym, spa and pool, a 30-bedroom boutique hotel, a synagogue, a public square outside the refurbished Abercromby pub, and a rooftop garden. Subject to planning consent from the city council, work would start next year with development completing in 2021, reports Insider Media.

More than 3,000 sign petition against closure of JD Wetherspoon pub in Thornton Heath: More than 3,000 people have signed a petition against JD Wetherspoon’s plans to close a pub in Thornton Heath, south London. The company is proposing to shut The Flora Sandes, in Brigstock Road, in May. Regulars have handed JD Wetherspoon area manager Francis Smith a petition signed by 3,180 people, in the hope it will provoke a rethink. It included 158 testimonials explaining why the pub is so important to the local community. Campaign leader Jack Arthey told the Croydon Advertiser: “The reason we’re contacting Tim Martin (the founder and chairman of JD Wetherspoon) and John Hutson (the company’s chief executive) like this is that they alone have the ability to keep the pub open. The thing we’ve discovered running this campaign is how important this is to local people.”

Aberdeenshire-based operator to open Stonehaven site for third restaurant: Aberdeenshire-based operator Syed Abdul Hamid is to open a Mumbai-inspired restaurant in Stonehaven for his third site. Hamid, who owns India On The Green in Ballater and Nu Spice in Stonehaven, is launching Carron to Mumbai at the end of February. He is transforming the Carron in Cameron Street into the new venue having acquired the restaurant in August. The old function room at the restaurant is being transformed into an early 19th century colonial-themed wine bar. Hamid is building an Orient Express train in the corridor that will lead to the main restaurant, which will be called the Mumbai Rooms, reports the Evening Express.

North west London-based Beer + Burger to open second site, in Dalston: North west London-based Beer + Burger is to open its second site in the capital. The concept was launched in Willesden earlier this year. Now it is opening its second site, in Kingsland Road, Dalston, in January on the site of the former A Little of What You Fancy restaurant. Beer + Burger’s Willesden menu features five burgers – one of which is chicken and one is veggie – along with a large selection of beer. There are 20 taps plus more than 300 in bottles and cans, reports Hot Dinners.

Cheltenham-based multi-site operator opens bar restaurant in Gloucester for third site: Cheltenham-based multi-site operator Matthew Bull has converted a pub in Gloucester into a bar restaurant. The pub in Westgate Street, known previously as The Westgate and The Lamprey, has been taken over by Bull, who also operates bar restaurant Six Degrees Of Separation and Thirteen Degrees nightclub, both in Cheltenham. He has reopened the Gloucester venue as Liquor and Chow. The pub has been transformed and features Gloucester’s first bespoke gin bar, a DJ booth, live music and a function room, reports Gloucestershire Live.

Lancashire-based Barrique Bar, Wine Shop and Deli eyes second site, at former Birkdale bank: Barrique Bar, Wine Shop and Deli, which launched in Lytham in Lancashire two years ago, has submitted plans to open a second site, in a former Birkdale bank branch. If plans to transform the empty Santander branch are approved it would be the third bank to be converted in the village after an HSBC was turned into gin bar Allotment and a Barclays site into a bookmakers. Under the plans, a glazed canopy and cast-iron posts would be reinstated, with a garden area used for outdoor seating. As well as eating and drinking on the premises, Barrique customers can purchase deli items to take away and use Wineemotion vending machines that offer wine by the glass. Barrique Bar, Wine Shop and Deli was founded by Charles Furnell, Michael Robinson and Jake Crimmin, a former sommelier at Jamie Oliver’s restaurant Fifteen. A spokesman told the Visiter: “Barrique in Lytham has been a great success and has energised the area. The owners feel this concept can work in many locations across the UK and Birkdale is seen as a great opportunity to introduce this unique combination of deli, wine shop and bar into a new area.”

French-inspired creperie and galette to open in east London next month: French-inspired creperie and galette L’Ami Malo is set to open in Spitalfields, east London, next month. The venture is headed by French duo Emilien Lesourd and Vincent Couvreur, who’s worked together with head chef Williams Guillemot on the concept. It will open in Artillery Passage on Monday, 29 January, reports Hot Dinners. L’Ami Malo will be cooking its own take on the delicacy including Bayonne ham with Comté cheese, tomato tartare and roast hazelnuts. Other galettes on offer will be topped with confit duck leg with caramelised pear and red wine jus; and smoked salmon, avocado, lemon cream cheese and sunflower seeds. Drinks will feature Pommeau Sprizes with apple juice, cider and calvados as well as a range of craft ciders from Brittany and French wines.

Cheshire-based micro-pub operators open second site, in Northwich: Andy McKnight and Alison Ramsden, who opened micro-pub The Real Ale Shack in Warrington, Cheshire, in May, have opened a second site, this time in Northwich. Baron’s Lounge has opened in Witton Street while an upstairs room will be added early next year. McKnight told the Northwich Guardian: “There are four real ales, two real ciders, craft beer, continental lager and three Guinness products. All together, there are more than 12 beers and ciders on draught. In addition there are more than ten types of gin, whisky and other spirits.” The venue also stocks up to 30 different beers in bottles and cans, with an emphasis on Cheshire brewers.

Lake District-based operator completes development of Cumbria’s first music lounge bar with VIP floor: Lake District-based operator Stephen Hargreaves has completed the development of Cumbria’s first music lounge bar, Baha, with the opening of a VIP floor. The £3m project, which started in early 2016, is now finished with all three floors open. Decked in shimmering wallpaper and with a multi-coloured dancefloor area, the third floor allows VIP guests to benefit from table service, booth-seating for up to 20 guests and renowned DJs. Specialising in cocktails, bottles and on-brand drinks, the space is also available for private hire and has capacity for about 100 people. “We have used the latest technology in music, AV and lighting to ensure users are blown away by this incredible environment,” said Hargreaves. Baha, which is based in Ash Street in Bowness-on-Windermere, first opened in July. The ground floor, which serves as a lounge bar, offers a contemporary food menu, with sharing dishes and city-style brunches, specialising in cocktails, quality gins, vodkas, rums and craft beers. The second floor, which opened in September, features the main restaurant, a tasting house grill and fish selection, with international-themed dishes and an extensive wine list. 

Southport bar Peaky Blinders starts expansion with Liverpool sister site: Southport bar Peaky Blinders has started expansion by opening a sister site in Liverpool. The debut bar, inspired by the BBC television drama of the same name, launched in Lord Street, Southport, in November 2015. The new 1920s-themed bar has opened at the former Cains Brewery in Liverpool’s Baltic Triangle and is much larger than the Southport site, spread across two floors. Like its sister site, the Liverpool bar features period wallpaper and lighting but the decor also takes advantage of some of the brewery’s original features, the Liverpool Echo reports. The venue offers draught beer and a large selection of bottles alongside wine, spirits and cocktails.

Northern Powerhouse Developments adds two more hotels to portfolio: Property company Northern Powerhouse Developments has acquired two new hotels. The company has bought The Esplanade Hotel in Scarborough and Gilsland Hall Hotel, near Hadrian’s Wall in Brampton, Cumbria, from the Co-operative Group in a deal brokered by agent Savills. The Esplanade Hotel is a grade II-listed 70-bedroom Victorian seaside hotel that also has a 100-cover restaurant, rooftop terrace and three meeting rooms. Northern Powerhouse Developments chairman Gavin Woodhouse told BDaily: “We are delighted to have completed on the sale of these two iconic hotels that further strengthens our position within the hotel and leisure industry and reflects the positive strides we have made on the market over the past year.” Northern Powerhouse Developments now owns and operates a portfolio of 13 hotels across the UK.

Merseyside-based Melwood Beer Company to open first micro-pub: Merseyside-based Melwood Beer Company has been given the go-ahead to open its first micro-pub. Owners John and Julie Marsden have been granted permission by Knowsley Council to launch Shakespeare-inspired The Bard in Prescot. They will convert an empty property in High Street into the town’s first micro-pub, which will open at the end of January or beginning of February. The Bard will have room for up to 50 people and offer a selection of real ale, craft beer, wine, spirits and soft drinks, as well as bar snacks, reports Insider Media. The Marsdens launched Melwood Beer Company, which is based on the nearby Lord Derby estate, in 2013.

Nottingham-based Kitty Cafe opens second site, in Leeds: Nottingham-based Kitty Cafe has opened its second cat cafe, in Leeds. Kate Charles-Richards launched the concept with husband Oliver Richards in March 2015, with the cafe in Friar Lane doubling as a rehoming centre and attracting more than 80,000 visitors a year. Now it has opened a second site, this time in Leeds at a former Yorkshire Bank branch in Kirkgate following a six-figure loan from HSBC to support the £500,000 fit-out costs. About 30 cats from local rescue charities are based at the cafe, where they are available for adoption by customers. Kate Charles-Richards told The Business Desk: “We are thrilled to be able to expand our business and introduce Kitty Cafe to Leeds. Nottingham has been a great success and we have managed to find new homes for lots of cats through our rehoming programme. We hope to do the same here – in fact, our Leeds site is a little bigger so we can host more animals.” The Charles-Richards have previously said they plan to roll-out the concept across the UK with franchise partners.
 
Hadrian Border Brewery hunts for north east sites to start pub portfolio expansion: North east-based Hadrian Border Brewery is hunting for sites in the region to start expansion of its pub portfolio. The company opened its first pub, the Station East in Gateshead, last year following a £350,000 refurbishment of the former Station Hotel, which had lain empty for two years. Managing director Andy Burrows, who runs the brewery with wife Shona, told Chronicle Live: “It took an awful lot of time to complete that first project but we are now actively looking in the north east at new places – places with a bit of history. It’s a very different part of the business and growing.” The business was founded when the Burrows took over Border Brewery Company in Berwick, acquiring Four Rivers brewery in Byker six years later and relocating to Tyneside as Hadrian Border Brewery. The company now employs 16 staff and produces 30,000 litres of beer a week.

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