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Tue 20th Feb 2018 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Union says KFC’s chickens have ‘come home to roost’ as majority of UK sites close due to delivery woes: The GMB union has said the chickens have “come home to roost” after a mass chicken shortage forced KFC to close 750 of its 900 UK outlets. The GMB said the crisis was down to KFC’s decision to award its delivery contract to DHL to “save money”, despite the union’s warnings. Until last week, KFC delivered poultry to UK outlets via food distribution firm Bidvest Logistics. However, KFC awarded the contract to DHL leading, the GMB said, to 255 redundancies and the closure of a Bidvest depot. Bidvest operates a network of distribution centres across the UK but, the union said, DHL was trying to do the job with only one. GMB national officer Mick Rix said: “We tried to warn KFC this decision would have consequences – well now the chickens are coming home to roost. Bidvest is a specialist – a food distribution firm with years of experience. KFC are left with hundreds of restaurants closed while DHL tries to run the whole operation out of one distribution centre. KFC’s bird-brained decision has caused untold misery to customers, to Bidvest workers and restaurant staff who are not being paid.” KFC said the closures were down to “teething problems” relating to the new contract. Signs on many of the closed stores read: “Sorry, we’re closed. We deliver our chickens fresh into our restaurants but we’ve had a few hiccups with the delivery today.” On a day when chicken-related puns flew around the internet, KFC tweeted “some chickens have now crossed the road, the rest are at the pelican crossing”, with the company setting up a website so customers can find their nearest open restaurant. The tweet continued: “We are working round the cluck to get the rest back up and running as soon as possible.” DHL said “operational issues” meant several KFC deliveries over recent days had been incomplete or delayed.

Industry News:

More than 160 sector companies book for Propel Multi Club Conference: More than 160 sector companies have booked to attend the first Propel Multi Club Conference of 2018. The full-day event takes place on Wednesday, 7 March at the Grange Hotel in St Paul’s, London. Multi-site operators of pubs, restaurants and foodservice outlets can book up to two free places by emailing Anne Steele at anne.steele@propelinfo.com. Speakers include Tim Barrett, travel and leisure analyst at Numis; Ian Edward, who is leisure advisor to Canaccord Genuity and sits on the boards of Brasserie Blanc; Seafood Pub Company and Hippo Inns; Jon Collins, former chief executive of CGA Group, who has returned to the UK after living in Chicago for two years; Sarah Bridge, former Mail on Sunday leisure correspondent and founder of the aLadyofLeisure.com hospitality website; Iqbal Wahhab, founder of Cinnamon Club and Roast; Max Hilton Jenvey, global head of franchise for Chopstix; Alex Salussolia, managing director of Glendola Leisure; Paul Wells, chairman of Charles Wells; Bob Ivell, chairman of Mitchells & Butlers; Nick Taplin, chief executive of Black and White Hospitality; and Yasha Estraikh, of Piper.

Meat supplier at heart of food scandal enters administration, blames FSA: Russell Hume, the Derby-headquartered specialist meat supplier at the heart of a food scandal that hit pub and restaurant operators last month, has called in administrators with the loss of “more than 300” jobs. The company supplied meat to hotels, restaurants and pubs across the UK and came to attention last month when operator JD Wetherspoon was forced to cancel its weekly Steak Club following a product recall. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) stopped any products from leaving sites operated by Russell Hume following “concerns about non-compliance with food hygiene regulations”. In a statement Russell Hume’s directors said: “We will continue to work with the FSA with regards to the issues it raised but we still feel its action has been out of all proportion to the concerns it says it has identified. Had it worked more closely with us in the crucial early stages of the situation, then more than 300 jobs may not have been lost.” An FSA spokesman said: “We do not take these decisions lightly and we recognise this will be a worrying time for employees and their families. It is for food businesses to ensure the food they produce is safe and our role is to provide assurances that a business is meeting its responsibilities.” Chris Pole, of KPMG Restructuring, who is handling the administration with Mark Orton, said the product recall and halt in operations “caused significant customer attrition and trading difficulties”.

ALMR boosts pub focus with St Austell, Lancaster Brewery and Arnos Arms additions: The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) has strengthened its pubs focus by adding St Austell Brewery, Lancaster Brewery and the independent Arnos Arms in London to its membership. ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The addition of St Austell and Lancaster breweries and the Arnos Arms to the ALMR’s membership helps cement our reputation as the unrivalled voice for UK pub operators. We are looking forward to working with them to help promote this valuable, iconic part of UK culture and ensuring pubs remain an important part of our high streets. This means we now represent more than 90% of the UK’s managed pubs, cementing our unrivalled position as the voice of the operator. The hospitality sector is evolving and the ALMR along with it, but our focus remains supporting those fantastic businesses working at the sharp-end of hospitality and our support for pubs has never been stronger. Our pub members are going to be more vital than ever as we evolve into UKHospitality. These members, that formed the backbone of the ALMR when it was founded 26 years ago, will play an integral role in the new association.” St Austell, Lancaster Brewery and the Arnos Arms join a host of recent high-profile additions, strengthening the ALMR’s pub arm, including Marston’s, Mighty Local Pubs, The Woodman, Urban Pubs and Bars and Windmill Taverns. 

Visitors from Spain, Argentina and Brazil fuel impressive growth in UK hotel demand: UK hoteliers experienced another year of encouraging growth in 2017 helped by a significant rise in international visitors, according to the latest data from the Expedia group. Travellers from Spain increased almost 150%, while Brazil (110%) and Argentina (105%) also saw triple-digit year-on-year growth. There was also strong demand from Ireland (85%), Mexico (85%), India (70%) and Poland (60%), while there was another year of strong demand from the US (40%). Tech-savvy travellers from Brazil, Italy, Ireland, Switzerland and Spain fuelled a growth of more than 70% on orders made via smartphones. While London remained the top destination with almost 40% of total market share, several other UK destinations witnessed encouraging year-on-year growth. Demand for London was up almost 20% compared with the previous full year, while Surrey increased almost 40%, and Scotland’s Highlands and Islands, Oxford and Yorkshire all increased by about 35%. Other regions to enjoy healthy growth included Bristol, Birmingham and Chester. The average daily rate for UK rooms rose overall, notably with travellers from India, Poland, Australia and Austria choosing to spend more. Krishan Kadodwala, director market management, JET UK & Ireland, the Expedia group, said: “The UK as a destination of choice is on the rise. In 2017, hoteliers benefited from a strong marketing campaign from VisitBritain, highlighting a range of events and activities across the nation that no doubt contributed towards a rise in visitors choosing to holiday in the UK. With two royal weddings set to take place this year, 2018 is certainly shaping up to be another good year for the UK market.”

Damian Wawrzyniak unites restaurateurs after revealing booking no shows cost £3,000 in one weekend: Chef restaurateur Damian Wawrzyniak is leading a global call to end no shows after revealing missed bookings cost his Peterborough restaurant House of Feasts about £3,000 in one weekend. Wawrzyniak’s #StopNoShow campaign has received support from hundreds of operators in the UK and around the world, including American restaurateur Grant Achatz, co-owner of Alinea. Wawrzyniak said: “No shows are pervasive in the restaurant industry. We lost about £3,000 because of no shows in one weekend. Usually they are big groups of eight, 12 or 20 people who book a table and then simply don’t turn up. We’re left with empty tables and have likely had to turn other bookings down in good faith. It’s incredibly frustrating. I understand plans change at the last minute but it shouldn’t be too much to ask that those not able to make it let the restaurant know so they can rebook that table.”

Cash payments continue to fall as UK consumers turn to digital for even a pint or a coffee: Debit cards are set to overtake cash as the most frequently used payment method in the UK later this year, with customers even opting to use a card to pay for small purchases such as a coffee or beer. In 2006, 62% of all payments in the UK were made using cash, falling to 40% by 2016. UK Finance has now predicted that figure will fall to 21% by 2026. JD Wetherspoon has reported the proportion of cash payments at its pubs has fallen by about five percentage points every year for the past four years, dropping from 78% of all purchases in 2012-13 to 60% in 2016-17. Pret A Manger said more than half its customers now paid by card, while Nando’s said card usage now made up 71.3% of all payments at its restaurants. Mark Latham, director at card machine provider Handepay, told the Guardian: “Britain has well and truly embraced a cashless society because of its ease and convenience. When contactless payment was first introduced in the UK in 2007, there was a lot of ambivalence but adoption over the past few years has been rapid because of demand.” The amount of money withdrawn at cash machines has also fallen steeply – in 2016 people withdrew £6bn less than they did in 2015. 

Bristol tourism tax would be ‘devastating’ for city: A Bristol tourism tax could have a “devastating effect” on businesses and deter visitors from coming to the city, according to Mark Payne, chairman of the Bristol Hoteliers Association. The outcry follows reports a tourism tax could be introduced to help plug a £108m deficit Bristol City Council is facing by 2023. Payne said: “Being one of the first cities in the UK to introduce a tax on tourists would be detrimental. Why put people off coming here? We don’t get enough footfall in the city to sustain restaurants over a weekly basis and should be encouraging more footfall not turning it away with a regressive tax on individuals looking to stay overnight.” Payne said a tax on hotels would drive business towards Airbnb. He said: “There are between 500 and 1,500 active rooms on Airbnb in Bristol, the highest for a city outside London. These are unregulated, don’t pay business rates, don’t employ people or pay any tax. Our view is the council should set up a bespoke Bristol Airbnb tax, not hit tourists who are here to spend.”

Company News:

Jamie Oliver puts Barbecoa into administration, St Paul’s site bought by another division of group: Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group has announced Barby, the parent company that owns Barbecoa sites in St Paul’s and Piccadilly in London, has been placed into administration. The assets and lease of the St Paul’s site has been bought by another division of Oliver’s restaurant group, while the Piccadilly site remains in administration. In a statement, the company said: “We can confirm Barby has been placed into administration. AlixPartners has been appointed administrators for Barby. One New Change, a wholly owned subsidiary of Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group, has purchased the assets and lease of Barbecoa St Paul’s and will be trading as normal. The Piccadilly site has gone into administration with AlixPartners appointed the administrators.” Oliver established Barbecoa with friend and American barbecue specialist Adam Perry Lang in 2011 and opened the Piccadilly restaurant in February last year. A third restaurant had been planned for Victoria but was scrapped. The news comes in the wake of Oliver’s Jamie’s Italian UK business having its Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) approved by creditors, which is set to lead to the closure of 12 sites. Under the terms of the CVA, the company will close sites in Bath, Bristol, Bluewater, Chelmsford, Greenwich, Harrogate, Kingston-upon-Thames, Milton Keynes, Piccadilly Diner, Reading, St Albans and Threadneedle Street in London. It will also be able to secure rent reductions on the remaining estate. 

Andreas Karlsson – being surrounded by high-quality operators helps rather than hinders Sticks ‘n’ Sushi: Andreas Karlsson, group chief operating officer of Japanese restaurant brand Sticks ‘n’ Sushi, has told Propel he believes being surrounded by high-quality operators is proving helpful rather than a hindrance to the business. Karlsson said the company, which has reported turnover rose to £15.6m in the year to 30 June 2017, was trading ahead of last year in terms of both revenue and customer numbers in what was a difficult time for the casual dining market. He added the company’s latest sites, which opened in Oxford and the Nova development in Victoria in November and December respectively, were doing “well”. “We are not seeing a drop in sales despite the increased competition, particularly in places such as Canary Wharf,” said Karlsson. “I think competition actually helps – if you have neighbours that are doing well then you do well. We need each other. Not everyone wants to eat pizza or sushi every time for example – the places that are doing the best have variety. Trading wise, we are in a solid place. It’s a pretty simple recipe for success – a nicely designed restaurant, a consistent high-quality product in a good location where every guest is the most important. If you have that and look after your team then you have a chance of survival.” Karlsson said the company remained on track to open sites in Beak Street, Soho, and the Radnor Walk development in King’s Road, Chelsea, this summer while it was now looking at building a cluster of sites in Berlin following its debut site in the German capital last year. He added: “I think the cluster approach works really well for us. It makes it easier from an operational point of view of having restaurants quite close together rather than dotted around the country and we’ll take a similar approach in Germany as we have done in the UK. I think the two London restaurants will be our only openings this year and we’ll look to do one or two more in 2019. While we are looking to open 15 restaurants in London and the south east, we may end up with a few less. I’d rather have fewer good-performing restaurants than a larger estate with a handful of underperforming ones.”

Deep Blue Restaurants looking to acquire eight sites a year, run rate turnover to hit £14m: Deep Blue Restaurants chief executive James Low has told Propel the company is looking to acquire at least eight sites annually over the next three years as the fish and chip market continues to perform “robustly”. Low also revealed the company, which last week reported sales increased 26.4% to £7,541,402 in the year to 26 September 2017, was on course this financial year to hit run rate turnover of £14m having made a series of acquisitions. Run rate Ebitda is also set to increase to £1.4m, including central costs, due to organic growth and the contribution from recent acquisitions. At the end of last year, the company acquired the six-strong Harpers chain in Yorkshire and a third site in Southsea, Hampshire. Meanwhile, this month it bought The Fish House in Notting Hill, north west London, and it is close to securing a deal for another site in West Sussex. Low said the company, which has 31 sites in the UK, was also “going to expand” its two-site franchise in Spain with partner Airfoods in the next 12 months. Low added: “We’ve got off to a good start in 2018 and over the next three years we want to add another eight sites per year – depending, of course, on the right opportunities being available. We’ve got two sites in London and I’d like to open more there but want to get a better understanding of the London market first. However, there is always demand for a good-quality fish and chip proposition. Airfoods operates in eight airports so there’s scope to expand our franchise following the latest opening in Alicante.” Low said for its most recent period to 31 December 2017, like-for-like sales were up 3.5% and added: “While consumers are cutting back on their spending they continue to buy fish and chips – the market is pretty robust.” Meanwhile, Low said he expected all the recent acquisitions to be rebranded as Deep Blue restaurants by the end of this year.

Boparan to open first UK site for American fried chicken franchise Slim Chickens next month: American fried chicken franchise Slim Chickens is to open its first site outside the US next month with the launch of a flagship site in London’s West End. The restaurant will open in James Street, Marylebone, on Thursday, 15 March offering Slim Chickens’ signature hand-breaded chicken tenders, chicken sandwiches, marinated wings and 12 homemade sauces. Exclusive items on the UK menu will include Texan toast and fried pickles. Boparan Restaurant Group, which owns Giraffe, Ed’s Easy Diner and Harry Ramsden’s, has partnered with Slim Chickens USA to bring the brand to the UK market. Slim Chickens co-founders Tom Gordon and Greg Smart launched the brand 15 years ago and it now has 60 sites across the southern US including its native Arkansas. Gordon said: “In the past few years, London has established itself as a bustling hub for foodies. We are excited to finally bring a taste of true and authentic southern USA fried cooking to the UK and stand shoulder to shoulder with some of the leading players within the industry.” Last month, Boparan Restaurant Group chief executive Tom Crowley said: “We have firm plans to open restaurants around the UK over the coming months and years securing Slim Chickens as a renowned market leader.”

Crowdfunding Leeds-based food delivery app Delhop signs deal with Zapaygo: Leeds-based food delivery app Delhop, which is led by former Hungryhouse head of sales Mandeep Singh and last week launched a £500,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube, has signed a deal with hospitality payment app Zapaygo. Singh, who founded the company in October, is offering a 20% equity stake in return for investment to expand the app to other major UK cities. So far, 31 investors have pledged £104,020 with 22 days remaining. The day after Delhop’s fund-raise launched, Zapaygo closed its own campaign on Crowdcube after exceeding its £500,000 target 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. A Delhop spokesman said: “Delhop will be providing delivery services to Zapaygo. We are pleased to say so after learning all about Zapaygo’s already signed contracts with large companies that will give them many thousands of venues and millions of users. These contracts will now also increase the use of Delhop services nationally and internationally.” Having raised £200,000 from angel investors in 2017, Delhop has delivered more than 30,000 meals in Leeds in its first three months of operation. Through word of mouth and personal recommendations, it said it has accumulated a waiting list for restaurants to join the service. The pitch states: “Delhop is an on-demand delivery app that allows takeaways to request drivers to deliver food to their customers without the hassle of managing their own fleet of drivers. The team is now raising investment to expand to other major cities.”

South Wales-based chef to open rodizio-style restaurant for fourth site: South Wales-based chef Gareth Lee is to launch a rodizio-style restaurant in Penhow, near Newport, for his fourth site. All-you-can-eat Taurus Churrascaria will open in early April at a site formerly occupied by Indian Cottage restaurant. The new venue will operate a card system with customers signalling to staff whether they want more meat by holding up a green card, while a red card will signify they are full. Lee described the concept as a “meat-lover’s dream” with “beautifully seasoned joints of quality meat bought to your table”. There will be four or five beef cuts including fillet, sirloin, rump and rib. Taurus Churrascaria will also feature a salad station, while pork and chicken dishes will be carved at the table, with suckling pig at weekends. Lee told Wales Online: “We have been to churrascos in Spain, Tenerife, Miami, New York and Las Vegas among others so we know the quality we have to deliver.” Lee also operates The Rock & Fountain inn and restaurant in Penhow, tapas bar Los Reyes in Caerleon and The Gate steakhouse in Llanfrechfa.

Zest to start expansion by opening City of London’s only kosher restaurant: Zest is to start expansion by opening the only kosher restaurant in the City of London. Zest, which is based in Finchley’s JW3 Jewish community centre, will launch the site in Sephardi synagogue Bevis Marks in the Square Mile. The concept offers contemporary Middle Eastern cuisine including mezze, sandwiches, cuts of meat and salad. The company also plans to use Deliveroo to cater for busy office workers. Zest manager Joshua Owens-Baigler told Jewish News: “We are proud to be opening the only kosher restaurant in the City of London. The opportunity to extend our social enterprise beyond north west London and offer our food to even more of London’s Jewish community is very exciting.”

‘Chimaek’ concept Wing Wing to open second London site next month: “Chimaek” concept Wing Wing is to launch its second site in London next month. Originally a Korean phenomenon, “chimaek” was perfected on the streets of New York offering Korean-style chicken and ice-cold beer. Wing Wing has secured a 5,000 square foot site in Hammersmith Broadway, which will open on Tuesday, 13 March offering double-fried Korean-style chicken with a choice of three glazes – soy garlic, hot or liquorice. Wing Wing also offers Asian-inspired comfort food such as katsu bao, seaweed fries and kimchi coleslaw, while the venue will offer ice-cold beer via self-serve Bottoms-Up beer dispensers. The new venue will be almost twice the size of Wing Wing’s debut site in Woburn Place, Bloomsbury, which opened last May. The split-level restaurant will feature a dedicated ground-floor takeaway and delivery counter, with a 180-cover dining area downstairs. The venue will also feature two “coops” – private dining rooms for two with 60-inch television screens, karaoke equipment and their own cocktail bars. The Hammersmith location will also see Wing Wing launch a corporate delivery service for local offices.

UK Desserts looks to launch Kaspa’s in Lincoln: UK Desserts, led by Mark Adams and Deepak Patel, has submitted plans to open a Kaspa’s franchise in the centre of Lincoln. The company is bidding to open a dessert parlour in Clasketgate in May following a £500,000 investment that would create 25 jobs. Plans have been submitted to Lincoln City Council for two units underneath Danesgate House that would be combined to create a 154-cover parlour. Kaspa’s offers hot and cold desserts including gelato, waffles, crepes, milkshakes, smoothies, coffees and sundaes – all made from Italian ingredients. Patel told Lincolnshire Live: “We have chosen Lincoln as it’s a great, vibrant city. Our brand fits into the demographics of the city and our investment will attract more people into Lincoln city centre. With the local investment into the area, it will help to create a great hub and Kaspa’s will fit in well.” Kaspa’s was founded in 2010. Last November, UK Desserts announced it planned to open between ten and 20 Kaspa’s venues with a focus on Hertfordshire and Essex. There are currently 46 Kaspa’s sites in the UK, with a further 25 listed as “coming soon” on its website.

Bon Pan Asian opens second site, in Liverpool: Buffet restaurant Bon Pan Asian has opened its second site, in Liverpool. The company has opened the venue in Clayton Square on the former Poundland site. The two-storey restaurant serves more than 150 dishes, taking customers on a “journey through some of the world’s most tantalising cuisines”. The company’s first venue in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, opened in 2015. Bon Pan Asian director Fiona Chen told the Liverpool Echo: “We are very excited to have opened our second Bon Pan Asian buffet restaurant, this time in a very prominent location in central Liverpool. We expect this to be another successful site in our growing group of restaurants.”

Everards starts search for cafe operator at new leisure development: Leicestershire-based brewer and retailer Everards is seeking an operator to run the cafe at its new food, drink and leisure development in the county. The cafe will be a key part of the Everards Meadows development next to the Fosse retail park. The complex will house Everards’ new headquarters and brewery as well as a cycle centre nestled among fields and cycle paths. The cafe will be a natural gathering place and will complement events at the site. Visit www.everards.co.uk for further details.

New York-based all-Welsh restaurant Sunken Hundred to close less than two years after launch: New York-based all-Welsh bar restaurant Sunken Hundred is to close less than two years after its launch. The venue in Smith Street, Brooklyn, offers seafood-based Welsh dishes including Pembrokeshire seaweed, Glamorgan croquettes, braised leeks and summer seafood cawl with laver bread. Celebrating all things Welsh, Sunken Hundred also sells Wales merchandise and features a lending library of Welsh fairy tales. The bar restaurant has a five-star rating on its Facebook page and four out of five on TripAdvisor. However, owners Dominic and Illtyd Barrett posted on Facebook: “With very heavy hearts we have to announce on 3 March we will serve our Welsh food and cocktails for the last time. The incredible reception our little bar in Brooklyn received was as unexpected as it was overwhelming. Unfortunately, despite all the great reviews and fantastic feedback from our customers, we just don’t see a realistic way to make Sunken Hundred a profitable business. So, regrettably, we’ll be closing our doors and looking forward to new adventures.” The venue launched in August 2016, taking its name from the legendary sunken kingdom of Cantre’r Gwaelod, Wales Online reports.

Glasgow-based Pizza Punks heads to Belfast for second site: Glasgow-based Pizza Punks is to open its second site next month, in Belfast. The company will open the venue in redeveloped Longbridge House on the corner of Waring Street and Hill Street. It will join Irish burger restaurant Bunsen at the site. Pizza Punks was launched in St Vincent Street, Glasgow, in September 2016. The restaurant gives customers the option to put as many toppings as they want on a sourdough base for the same price, while also offering wine on tap, tank beer, cocktails, freak shakes and locally brewed coffee. Along with pizza, the menu also features wood-fired roasts, cured meat, cheese boards, breakfast dishes and daily specials, reports the Glasgowist.

Brunning & Price lodges plans to turn 17th century Solihull farmhouse into pub restaurant: Brunning & Price, the gastro-pub division of The Restaurant Group, has lodged plans to turn a listed 17th century farmhouse near Solihull into a pub restaurant. Tidbury Green Farm in Earlswood features four buildings including a cow house, pigsties and barns that were awarded grade II-listed status in 2016. As well as transforming the farmhouse there would be a 58-space car park. Land surrounding the farmhouse in Fulford Hall Road has been sold for housing, with construction work already under way, Birmingham Live reports. Documents supporting the newly lodged planning application state: “The farmhouse and associated farm buildings are considered to be of significance because the group has survived relatively unscathed. The farmhouse will be reinstated as a landmark building on the crossroads as it originally would have appeared.” At the end of January, Brunning & Price told Propel it aims to step up its rate of openings in 2018. The company, which operates 62 sites, has already added a former Greene King-operated Loch Fyne restaurant in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, and Arrow Mill in Alcester, Warwickshire, to its estate, with both sites reopening this summer. A spokeswoman told Propel: “We are always on the lookout for opportunities, especially in new territory for us around the Midlands.”

Greene King opens Farmhouse Inn site in Gloucester: Brewer and retailer Greene King has opened a Farmhouse Inn site in Gloucester. The company has launched Rose Tree Farm in Newhaven Road, Kingsway, creating 70 jobs. The two-storey building features a 225-cover restaurant, while there is further seating outside and a children’s play area, reports Gloucestershire Live. Kingsway, which forms part of the former Quedgeley airfield, received planning permission in 2003 for 3,300 homes, community and leisure facilities, retail and sports areas and a primary school. More than 2,500 homes have been built, along with a local centre, the primary school and a community centre.

M&B reopens former Grantham Harvester as Miller & Carter restaurant: Mitchells & Butlers has opened a Miller & Carter steakhouse in Grantham, Lincolnshire, following the conversion of a Harvester site. The company has refurbished the former Muddle Go Nowhere in Barrowby Road, which was originally part of the Orchid estate. 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 financial year.

Merseyside-based Melwood Beer Company opens first micro-pub: Merseyside-based Melwood Beer Company has opened its first micro-pub. Owners John and Julie Marsden have launched Shakespeare-inspired The Bard in Prescot after converting an empty property in High Street into the town’s first micro-pub. The Bard has room for up to 50 people and offers 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.

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