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Fri 13th Apr 2018 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Sector enjoys strong Easter but sees March like-for-likes fall 3.1%: Strong trading over the Easter holiday weekend helped lift the gloom for Britain’s managed pub and restaurant groups after a snow-hit March. The latest Coffer Peach Business Tracker showed collective like-for-like sales for the four days of Easter were up 5.9% compared with Easter weekend last year. In contrast, like-for-likes across the sector fell 3.1% in March against the same month last year. Snow hit trading across the pub and casual dining market, with London like-for-likes down 4.3% and outside the M25 down 2.7%. Restaurant chains overall were down 5.0% and, although managed pubs fared slightly better, they were still hit with a 2.0% decline in like-for-likes. “It was a month to forget, with the only cheer coming for managed pubs outside London that benefited by people staying at home and off work when the snow fell,” said Peter Martin, vice-president of CGA, the business insight consultancy that produces the tracker in partnership with Coffer Group and RSM. “Overall, March was bad news so the uplift in sales over Easter weekend brought almost instant relief. Again, all parts of the market benefited.” Restaurant chains saw the biggest Easter uplift, with like-for-likes up 8.0% compared with the same four-day period last year. Pub group collective like-for-likes were ahead 4.6%. “Although snow stops people travelling, the wet and dreary weather over Easter will have helped to tempt people, and in particular families off for the break, to go out to eat – so it should be no surprise that restaurants were the biggest beneficiaries,” said Martin. “But it’s also worth remembering Easter 2017 was not good for the market, with sales down on 2016 due to it falling late in April and being disjointed from school holidays in parts of the country. This year it wasn’t.” Trevor Watson, executive director of valuations at Davis Coffer Lyons, said: “It is best not to draw too many conclusions from the March statistics as the adverse weather nationwide makes any meaningful comparison difficult. The Easter performance is, however, a lot stronger than many commentators might have predicted. We continue to see good demand for the right sites and the market continues to be active against a background of squeezed margins.” The Coffer Peach Tracker industry sales monitor for the UK pub, bar and restaurant sector collects and analyses performance data from 39 operating groups.

Industry News:

Matthew Clark’s new owner thanks customers for support as it gets business back on track after dire Easter: Wholesaler Matthew Clark’s new owner, C&C Group, has written to customers thanking them for their support – and sketched out the dire position the business was in over Easter when it had no cash and little stock. The letter from C&C Group managing director Andrea Pozzi, a copy of which Propel has seen, stated: “The support we have received from our customers has been outstanding and has been a huge inspiration to us all during extremely challenging circumstances. I would like to assure you with the support of C&C Group we are working around the clock to not only get our service back on track but to build a stronger business for the future. In truth, over the Easter weekend the business had no cash and little stock, no fuel or indeed agency labour. Equally, we were inhibited in movement from Bristol port because of unpaid duty of £38m. I would like to apologise for the impact to your business over the last few weeks and thank you for your continued support and understanding as we get our business back on track. We are working closely with our suppliers across all categories to bring stock levels and service back to standard, and our team will keep you updated during this transitional period. We are all incredibly proud of our business and very much value the relationships we have built with our customers over many years. We thank you for your continued support. It is our intention to honour scheduled retrospective discount payments in the next few weeks. On behalf of our team across the country thank you, and please be assured of our commitment to get our service back on track as quickly as possible.” The letter stresses the businesses acquired by C&C did not enter administration and continues to trade, with 2,000 jobs saved across Matthew Clark and Bibendum. It adds: “All contractual commitments with customers and suppliers will be honoured. Customer payments should continue to be made in the normal way.”

Foodservice price inflation dips to 0.5% in February as it reaches lowest point since EU referendum: Foodservice price inflation dropped to 0.5% in February 2018 – the lowest point since the EU referendum, according to the latest CGA Prestige Foodservice Price Index. The vote to leave the EU in June 2016 triggered an immediate weakening of the pound and a sharp spike in foodservice prices, especially on imported items. Price inflation has been running at relatively high levels since but halved from 5.1% in December 2017 to 2.5% in January 2018. It has now reduced again to barely above zero – an inflation level not recorded by the index since the month of the referendum and well below the rate of inflation recorded by the Consumer Price Index, which currently stands at 3.0%. The downward trend has been driven by the easing of pressure in several key food and drink categories and by improved confidence around the UK’s transitional arrangements for its departure from the EU. Categories seeing a fall in prices include fish, where inflation tumbled from 9.8% in December to minus 4.2% in February. Inflation fell to minus 2.5% in the dairy category this month, largely thanks to falling farmgate milk prices. However, foodservice prices remain high in several key categories including oils and fats, where soybean supply issues contributed to inflation pushing up to 16.5% in February. The government’s plan to introduce a soft drinks levy in April encouraged prior adjustments in retail prices and drink formulas, helping to drive inflation in the soft drinks category up to 6.8%. Prestige Purchasing chief executive Shaun Allen said: “While the overall inflationary pressure continues to ease, we also recognise a significant level of volatility remains within the individual food and drink categories. This volatility demonstrates a number of supply markets remain fragile and vulnerable to sudden movements from events that can result in sharp inflationary and deflationary swings.” The CGA Prestige Foodservice Price Index is jointly produced by Prestige Purchasing and CGA using data drawn from more than 50% of the foodservice market and about 7.8 million transactions per month.

UKHospitality – business rates retention ‘deflects from need to reform system’: A report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, which found the 147 English councils piloting 100% business rates retention could gain about £873m in extra funding in 2018-19, “deflects from the need to reform the system”, UKHospitality has said. Chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The report signposts possible financial gains for local authority budgets under 100% business rates retention schemes. It is important any extra finances are used to support struggling businesses and we will be making the case for much-needed investment to protect high streets and promote tourism growth. But the fundamental problem remains that the current business rates system urgently needs review and reform, as promised in the government’s manifesto. The inequitable, disproportionate burden for hospitality businesses – while digital companies all too often escape business rates altogether – means hospitality operators, including many small businesses, are facing potentially disastrous rates bills.” Meanwhile, UKHospitality has launched Shaping The Future, its first event for the industry since the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers and British Hospitality Association merged to found a unified voice for the sector. Its first summer conference will be held on Monday, 9 July at the Grand Connaught Rooms in London, where the trade body will deliver its vision for the industry. To purchase a ticket for the event, click here. UKHospitality has also unveiled a new logo.

Britons less satisfied with restaurant food and service than 20 years ago: Diners are less happy with restaurant food and service than they were two decades ago, according to new research. The study found while people are more likely to eat out with their families, their ratings for restaurant food, decor, service and value for money have fallen. Researchers compared ratings given in 1995 and 2015 by more than 2,000 diners in London, Bristol and Preston after eating at a restaurant or cafe. Professor Alan Warde from the University of Manchester told the British Sociological Association’s annual conference in Newcastle the proportion of those satisfied with their meal’s value for money fell from 69% to 56%. He said: “The results show some important changes over 20 years in how happy people are with dining out. We see people are generally less satisfied with the last meal they ate in a restaurant, with lower rates of satisfaction for the food, decor, service and value for money.” The study found the rate of those satisfied with food fell from 81% to 72%, with service dropping from 65% to 57% and decor down from 57% to 48%. Meanwhile, the number of people dining out with their family rose from 29% to 35%, while those dining with their partner only fell from 23% to 16% and with friends from 23% to 21%. Those eating out alone doubled from 3% to 6%. The study found the most frequent styles of food eaten were traditional British (41%), Italian (13%) and Indian (9%).

Just Eat offers restaurants 45% electric scooter discount in bid to cut emissions: Online food ordering firm Just Eat has offered a 45% discount on electric scooters to the 28,500 independent restaurants in its network. Just Eat has partnered with sustainable transport company Eskuta to offer the discount on scooters that can run for about 50 miles on an eight-hour charge. With roughly 100 million miles covered by delivery drivers in the Just Eat network last year, the company said the new initiative would cut noise pollution as well as emissions. The partners said restaurants could also save £743 per year for each driver that used an Eskuta instead of a petrol-powered moped. Just Eat UK managing director Graham Corfield said: “With more delivery drivers on the roads than ever before, we recognise we have a role to play in finding ways to reduce the carbon emissions that result from food delivery.” Just Eat also partners with Make it Cheaper to offer an exclusive green energy deal to restaurants. Last month, Just Eat reported sales up 45% to £546m and underlying Ebitda up 42% to £164m in the year to 31 December 2017.

New leisure development to open in Eltham: A new leisure development is set to open next year in Eltham, south east London. The scheme will feature a six-screen Vue cinema, Nando’s and PizzaExpress. Furthermore, a bar and cafe unit named Sky Bar on the first floor is currently available through agent Fleurets. The design for the Sky Bar features floor-to-ceiling windows and a terrace overlooking Eltham High Street. The leisure scheme is funded by the Royal Borough of Greenwich. It is currently under construction and scheduled to open in spring 2019.

Licensing update: Licensing solicitor John Gaunt & Partners produces a useful monthly summary of topical issues. To access the latest, click here

Company News: 

City Pub Group confident of having 50 sites by end of 2019, targeting 100 bedrooms in estate: City Pub Group executive chairman Clive Watson has told Propel he is confident that with its current pipeline and site targets, the company will have 50 sites by the end of next year. Watson also said accommodation was becoming more of a focus for the company and it was targeting 100 bedrooms in the estate by the end of 2019. He said: “When we floated, we said we wanted to double the size of the estate by the middle of 2021. With our current pipeline we have already secured 41 sites. We have further sites in the hands of lawyers so we are hoping that figure will go up. I’m confident we will have 50 sites by the end of next year. We’re not really interested in corporate acquisitions – we’re very much build one a time and that way we can make sure we stay relevant.” The company currently operates 44 rooms and Watson said its pubs with accommodation would have a minimum of five and a maximum of 25 bedrooms. He said: “I am hoping to more than double the number of bedrooms we have. We’re not looking to be the next Premier Inn, though, these are very much pubs with rooms above and not bolt-on. It allows people to stay at the pub and enjoy a drink. It is becoming an important revenue line for us.” City Pub Group will open its first site in Wales in June with the launch of the former Cayo Arms in Cardiff. Watson said further venues in the city were on the cards. He added: “In any city we open we want to have three or four sites. We also have a number of cities across the southern UK we are trying to get a foothold into.” Watson said he believed the pub sector would continue to thrive despite challenging market conditions. He added: “I think pubs provide such a great relaxing environment. People, regardless of age or class, can get together under the same roof, not feel they have to spend lots of money and not be rushed.” Analysts at Liberum said: “The pipeline of new pubs for FY18E is secure with eight agreed suggesting at this early stage the group could surprise on the number of openings during the year. Having ended the year with no debt and considering a 56% freehold mix, the group has the strongest balance sheet in the pub sector. Alongside this, 18% Ebitda growth in FY18E and a circa 2% dividend yield are highly attractive. Momentum in both trading and openings was strong in FY17E and has carried into the current year and, with major sporting events over the summer, upside risks to forecasts are realistic. The valuation is undemanding considering the growth, strength of balance sheet and pipeline visibility. We recommend a strong ‘Buy’.”

Young’s acquires two south east hotels from Galleon for £11.6m: London pub retailer Young’s has acquired two three-star hotels – The Bridge in Chertsey and The Park in Teddington – from Galleon Hotels in a deal worth £11.6m. The Bridge, which offers 51 en-suite bedrooms, overlooks the Thames, while The Park hotel has 43 en-suite bedrooms as well as The Park Cafe, Restaurant & Bar. Martin Rogers, head of UK transactions at Savills Hotels, which represented Galleon in the deal, said: “We are pleased to have secured new owners for these two well-located south east hotels. Both are in close proximity to numerous tourist attractions and are ideally located for travel into central London. The south east hotel market continues to perform well as investors are attracted by the well-located assets and high levels of demand for rooms from tourists.”

Daisy Green Collection targets more City sites as turnover hits £10m: Australian-inspired restaurant group Daisy Green Collection is targeting more sites in the City as it looks to have 14 venues in London by 2020. The company, which has eight sites, has also revealed revenue has hit £10m this year while underlying earnings before tax stand at £2m. Daisy Green Collection is opening its next restaurant in Noel Street in Soho having secured the former Timber Yard site in February. It will be the biggest site in the group so far, at 4,000 square feet. Co-founder Prue Onions said the company, which already operates Peggy Jean and Beany Green in Broadgate, was now eyeing further expansion near Liverpool Street. Canary Wharf is also on the hit list for potential locations. She told City AM: “We feel like we’re just getting started. For the next three to five years we want to focus on making it a real icon in London.” Onions said revenue had grown consistently by 60% every year for the past five years. She added the “casual dining crisis”, which has led some companies to close restaurants, had opened opportunities for smaller businesses such as Daisy Green Collection. She said: “We’re in an exciting position because we’ve got people who expanded very quickly and paid good rents but those sites are coming back to the market at more reasonable levels. Landlords are competing for the independents to be part of their developments because of what it adds.” The Daisy Green Collection secured a new debt finance deal worth £3.4m at the end of 2017 from challenger bank OakNorth.

Stonegate reveals further details of new Bristol city centre venue: Stonegate Pub Company has revealed more details of its new pub, The Birkett Tap, which will launch this month in Bristol city centre. The pub will open in Baldwin Street on Saturday, 28 April at former Irish bar Molloy’s following a £400,000 refurbishment. The name is a nod to the building’s architect and will offer 20 craft beers and ciders from a neon-lit back wall alongside a menu of sourdough pizza and tapas. The venue will host events every night of the week, including PlayStation nights, funk nights, screened sports and live music. The Birkett Tap will also feature ping-pong tables, a pool table and a “sports table service” during sporting events. There will also be cocktails and 15 gins. General manager Nick Tyrrell said: “We’re transforming into a modern bar for city slickers, hipsters, students and party-lovers to enjoy. We look forward to showing off our unique bar.” Earlier this week, Stonegate told Propel it would launch two Felson’s venues above its Walkabout sites in Bristol and Carlisle.

Roberto Costa to launch London’s first gluten, dairy and sugar-free Italian restaurant for fifth site: Roberto Costa, founder of Italian steak restaurant group Macellaio RC, is to launch London’s first gluten, dairy and sugar-free Italian restaurant for his fifth site. Ardiciocca, which means artichoke in Genoese-Italian, will open in Fulham’s North End Road this month, with chef and author Simona Ranieri heading the kitchen. Dishes on her menu will include marinated and flamed mackerel, pea ravioli with almond, borage and clam broth, and almond tiramisu. The wine list will focus on natural, organic and biodynamic wines from small artisan traders, including a range of lesser-known orange wine. Costa opened the first Macellaio RC in South Kensington in 2012, followed by Exmouth Market, Union Street and Clapham.

Ivy Collection continues regional brasserie expansion with Birmingham launch: The Ivy Collection has continued the regional expansion of its brasseries by opening a site in Birmingham. The company has opened the 135-cover venue in Temple Row. Inside, The Ivy Collection’s signature green colour palette contrasts with burnt-orange banquettes and polished marble floors. Overlooking St Philip’s Cathedral, the brasserie offers a private dining area for up to 20 people in The Archer Room – named after the cathedral’s architect Thomas Archer. The Ivy Collection operations manager Laura Bamber told the Bromsgrove Advertiser: “It has been an incredible few months watching the restaurant take shape and, now we’re open, we can’t wait to be part of the Birmingham community.” The Ivy Collection recently opened brasseries in Cheltenham, York and King’s Cross, with further launches lined up this year in Brighton, Dublin, Guildford, Leeds, Norwich and Winchester.

Bristol-based brewery led by former BrewDog operations director passes £1m crowdfunding target: Bristol-based Left Handed Giant Brewing, which is led by former BrewDog operations director Bruce Gray, has passed its extended £1m fund-raise target on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube. The company hit its initial £450,000 target within an hour of launch as it offered a 6% stake in return for the investment. So far, 1,397 investors have pledged £1,012,670 with three days remaining. The pitch states: “We will build our new brewery here, brewing beer in the heart of Bristol. We will house a bar, restaurant and events space to create a venue that matches the quality of our beer. Our existing brewery will become a mixed fermentation-specific facility with an extended barrel and foudre store. Here we will develop sours with a true tie to our locality. We intend to purchase the long leasehold of the building by way of a commercial mortgage.” Gray wrote on Crowdcube after passing the £1m mark: “We have had some long conversations as to how far we want to let the pitch go. With only three days left until we finish we have decided to leave it open until £1,100,000. This is exactly half the projected budget of the total project (including buying the building) and seems an achievable goal at our current daily uptake level.”

Douglas Jack – challenge for Greene King will be to keep mitigating costs until managed like-for-like sales are back to 2%: Peel Hunt leisure analyst Douglas Jack has argued the challenge for Greene King will be to keep mitigating costs until managed like-for-like sales are back to 2%. Issuing an ‘Add’ note on the shares with a target price of 600p, Jack said: “Managed like-for-like sales are down 1.8% after 49 weeks versus minus 1.4% after 37 weeks with drink and accommodation up; all the weakness was food-related, particularly in destination pubs that were impacted by the weather. Excluding the impact of snow, like-for-like sales over the 49 weeks were minus 1.2%. Management claims there is a slight improvement in the underlying trend, which is reflected in the Easter weekend result. Like-for-like sales are being supported by a £10m investment in service, value and quality, as well as the rebranding/selling of the 70 Fayre & Square sites, a process that should complete this month. A total of 292 pubs benefited from major capex/brand conversions; just nine new pubs were opened. We believe the underlying like-for-like drink trend is improving, with events such as televised sport proving to be better than expected. We believe there is no improvement in the food trend. The tenanted estate has fared slightly better, with like-for-like profit down 0.3% after 48 weeks (versus +0.2% after 36 weeks), partly reflecting the established trend of wet-led pubs outperforming food-led pubs. Brewing own-brewed volumes fell by 0.7%, having been down 0.9% after 37 weeks. We are holding our forecasts, which were helped by disposal proceeds exceeding expectations (at £120m) and interest costs being lower than expected. The challenge will be to keep mitigating costs until managed like-for-like sales are back to 2% to 3%; here, it is encouraging that management is finally talking of improving underlying trends. The EV/Ebitda valuation is now lower (at 7.2 times) than it was during the financial crisis (7.9 times EV/Ebitda), yet the balance sheet is now stronger (4.2 times versus 5.7 times net debt/Ebitda).” Meanwhile, Greene King Pub Partners has updated its digital solutions toolkit after revealing 160 pubs signed up in the first 12 months. The service includes assistance on how to upgrade a website and add an online table-booking service and free social media library for all partners to use on the Pub Partners intranet.

Healthy restaurant and dry bar concept Redemption passes 50% mark in £300,000 crowdfunding campaign to open two central London sites: Healthy restaurant and dry bar concept Redemption has passed the halfway mark in its £300,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to open two sites in central London. Redemption Bar, which is London’s only vegan, sugar-free, wheat-free and alcohol-free restaurant, currently operates sites in Notting Hill and Shoreditch. The company is offering 10.71% equity in return for investment, with funds going towards opening sites in Covent Garden and Southbank Place and a goal of global expansion through franchising. So far, 174 investors have pledged £150,980 with five days remaining. Former Virgin marketing chief Catherine Salway and restaurateur and chef Andrea Waters opened the first Redemption Bar in Notting Hill in 2015, followed by a Shoreditch sister site in January 2016 that “broke even within the first three months and now generates a 10% net profit per week”. Salway said: “We are on the cusp of a really exciting growth plan. As well as launching two sites in central London, we are very optimistic about ethical franchising across the globe.”

Cinnamon Kitchen launches Battersea delivery service: The Cinnamon Collection, which is owned by Boparan Restaurants, has launched a delivery service from its Cinnamon Kitchen site at the Battersea Power Station development in south London. Meals will be delivered within a three-mile radius of the restaurant with all packaging 100% recyclable. The company opened the venue, its third Cinnamon Kitchen, last month. The takeaway menu is available via the venue’s website, high-end service Supper and Deliveroo daily from 11am to late. The original Cinnamon Kitchen launched in Devonshire Square in 2008, with a second site opening in Oxford in October last year for the group’s first restaurant outside London. The Cinnamon Collection also includes The Cinnamon Club in Westminster and Cinnamon Bazaar in Covent Garden.

Somerset-based craft beer and cider bar lodges plans for second site, in Bath: Somerset-based craft beer and cider bar Brewed Boy has lodged plans to open its second site, in Bath. George White launched the concept, which offers more than 70 beers and ciders, in Frome in April last year. Now he has applied to Bath and North East Somerset Council to open a new venue in an empty unit in London Street, reports Somerset Live. Brewed Boy would be open from midday to 10pm, Monday to Thursday, until 11pm on Fridays and Saturdays, and 7pm on Sundays.

India-based fine dining restaurant Chokhi Dhani makes UK debut in Battersea: India-based fine dining restaurant Chokhi Dhani has made its UK debut, in south London. The restaurant in Riverside Walk, Battersea, is the brainchild of chef, hotelier and entrepreneur Kriti Vaswani. She is following in the footsteps of her father, Gul Vaswani, who opened the first Chokhi Dhani in Jaipur, Rajasthan, in 1990. As well as highlighting dishes from the state, Chokhi Dhani London features dishes from across the subcontinent. Vishnu Natarajan, former executive head chef at Carom in Soho, has overseen the menu, working alongside Bhagwan Singh, an expert on Rajasthani cuisine, senior sous chef Mohammed Naseem Qureshi and pastry chef Rakesh Sharma. The venue features a street food concept on the ground floor and a luxury dining room upstairs. 

Chelmsford-based pub operator to open bar for second site in city: Chelmsford-based pub operator Darren Pratt is to open a bar in the city for his second site. Pratt, who owns The Saracen’s Head, is teaming up with Munya Kambani to launch The Courtyard in Baddow Road on the site of the former Bake ‘n’ Grape cafe, which closed two years ago. The new venue, due to open at the end of the month, will consist of an upstairs area with soft chairs and high bar stools for 60 people along with two American pool tables. There will be a downstairs bar seating 40 people and a covered courtyard. It will serve a selection of drinks including wine, prosecco, British sparkling wine and cocktails. It will also offer food at various points during the day, mainly focusing on hand-made burgers, pizza and salad. Pratt told Essex Live: “We just had to call it The Courtyard – it’s the venue’s biggest feature and it will have a great vibe outside as well as inside. There isn’t anywhere else like it in Chelmsford.”

Inn Collection Group reopens County Durham pub with rooms: Pub operator The Inn Collection Group has reopened The Seaton Lane Inn in County Durham following a major refurbishment. The dining and bar area now features an outdoors-indoors theme, while a botanical-themed orangery includes a water feature and plant walls. All 18 en-suite bedrooms have been refurbished. Inn Collection Group managing director Sean Donkin said: “We are delighted with the refurbishment and outstanding level of feedback we have received from customers. The Seaton Lane Inn encapsulates the continual evolution of our group.” The company, which is backed by Kings Park Capital, operates eight pubs with rooms. It will open The Amble Inn in Northumberland in October following a £4.2m investment, while it recently acquired properties next to The Bamburgh Castle Inn that will add 13 bedrooms to the site. Donkin was promoted to managing director from his role as operations director in February.

Team behind Cambridge-based Lebanese restaurant opens bakery: The team behind Cambridge-based Lebanese restaurant Lagona has opened a bakery in the city. Lagona Bakery has launched in Mill Road offering Lebanese sweet treats and cakes such as maamoul, a pastry or cookie made with dates or figs and nuts; cream pastry rolls; and baklava. The venue also offers honey from the London Honey Company, loose leaf and tea bags from Kanuka, and dried fruit and nuts. The Lagona team told The Cambridge News: “The food scene in Cambridge has certainly grown and we hope to bring something new to the city.” Lagona’s restaurant is also in Mill Road.

BaxterStorey launches barista training centre: Contract catering company BaxterStorey has launched a barista training centre as it builds on its bespoke Barista Academy courses. Since its inception in 2009, the academy has trained more than 300 employees a year on average. However, a devoted training space has been created at BaxterStorey’s London office in Gray’s Inn Road to meet increasing demand. The centre includes eight working stations, a range of hand-built espresso machines, coffee-brewing equipment and a reverse osmosis water-filtration system. BaxterStorey co-chief executive Noel Mahony said: “Our mission is everyone in our business that touches coffee service will have undertaken training with the academy team. We will continue to evolve our training to encompass the best of quality and delivery of hot beverages throughout our business, one cup at a time.”

Bradford-based restaurant operator gets go-ahead to open gin bar for second site: Bradford-based restaurant operator Aldo Devittoris has been given the go-ahead to open a gin bar for his second site in the city. Devittoris has been granted permission by Bradford Council for the venue, which will be based in an empty unit in Harrogate Road. He told the Telegraph & Argus the small, bespoke gin bar would “further enhance the local area” and create jobs. Devittoris also operates Aldo’s Italian restaurant in Harrogate Road.

Zonal retains learning and performance accreditation for seventh year: Hospitality management solutions company Zonal has retained its accreditation of being an authorised assessment centre from the Learning & Performance Institute (LPI) for a seventh consecutive year. In 2015, Zonal was awarded and still holds gold standard, which is the definitive mark of quality in learning and development. The accreditation falls under the Trainer Performance & Monitoring Assessment Service (TPMA), which is managed by the LPI. Zonal head of learning and development and implementation Craig Hamill said: “We are committed to delivering high-quality learning, development and training services. This ongoing recognition from TPMA gives our customers the confidence we are adhering to best practice and operating to the highest possible industry standards.”

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