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Tue 1st May 2018 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Adam Marshall secures first site for new street food and karaoke concept, Lords of Poké and Coco di Mama also sign for Paddington Central scheme: Street food and karaoke restaurant Huckster, a new concept from Grand Union co-founder Adam Marshall, has secured its first site. Marshall, who sold Grand Union last year to Draft House and Young’s in two separate deals, will open the venue at Paddington Central. He has agreed a 15-year lease with landlord British Land for a 4,700 square foot bar and restaurant at 4 Kingdom Street. Huckster is one of a trio of brands taking space at Paddington Central. Lords of Poké, which serves Californian-inspired poké bowls, has agreed a ten-year lease for an 840 square foot unit. The opening at Paddington Central marks the brand’s second permanent outlet after Peckham Levels. Meanwhile, Azzurri Group-owned Coco di Mama has signed a ten-year lease for a 1,100 square foot unit. Coco di Mama has 21 sites across London. Tim Haddon, head of campus at Paddington Central for British Land, said: “This is an exciting moment for Paddington Central as we focus on providing a diverse range of food and beverage options at the campus. Huckster offers a completely different experience to anywhere else in the area and Lords of Poké and Coco di Mama specialise in gourmet grab-and-go options.” Since acquiring the 11-acre Paddington Central in 2013, British Land has invested £100m in building 4 Kingdom Street, its latest office complex. 

Industry News:

Propel and Professor Chris Edger launch Inspirational Leadership In Tough Times Masterclass: A new masterclass launched by Professor Chris Edger and Propel is now open for bookings. The Inspirational Leadership In Tough Times Masterclass will take place at Chartered Accountants Hall in Moorgate Place, London, on Thursday, 21 June. With our industry buffeted by five major headwinds – higher costs, labour shortages, low consumer confidence, too much capacity and concept fatigue – the businesses that win through will be led by inspirational leaders who galvanise their people to achieve extraordinary feats. The masterclass will provide insights and tips into how you can perfect being an inspirational leader. Drawing on material from his nine books on leadership, Prof Edger will outline how inspirational leaders mobilise their teams and businesses to outperform the market in challenging circumstances. Coaching Inn Group founder Kevin Charity will outline ten critical ways to inspire people to achieve great performance in adverse conditions. Leading brands consultant Ian Dunstall will outline how inspirational leaders set up and evolve a brand that is loved by employees and guests alike. Leading HR hospitality consultant Liz Phillips has recruited, trained and developed teams that have been coveted by competitors. She will outline how she instilled the desire to join, the confidence to perform and the aspiration to develop. Mark Sheasby was formerly chief superintendent of the West Midlands Police firearms unit, specialising in hostage negotiations. A qualified psychologist he has also worked with high-profile athletes, including England Rugby, and high-performing business people. He will outline his philosophy of getting organisations to leverage their permanent internal qualities to overcome temporary external interference. Gary Harris has been deputy chairman of British Rowing for almost 20 years – a period of unprecedented success – and will outline the ten key insights into coaching outstanding performances from teams and individuals. Writer and lecturer Dr Nollaig Heffernan, co-designer of the ILM72 psychometric test, will outline the key components that underpin mental toughness for inspirational leaders and how to incorporate them to overcome everyday stress and challenges. Tickets are £295 plus VAT for operators and £445 plus VAT for suppliers, while tickets for Propel Premium subscribers are £245 plus VAT. To book, email or call 01444 817691.

Propel summer conference and party open for bookings, Martin Morales to present: The Propel summer conference and party on Thursday, 5 July at The Oxford Belfry is open for bookings. This year we have the usual great conference followed by crazy golf at Junkyard Golf in Oxford plus a barbecue and live band karaoke back at the hotel. Martin Morales, who won the innovator of the year category at this year’s Propel Marketer & Innovator Awards, will talk about his career in the foodservice industry, from giving up a successful career in the music industry to operating four restaurants that serve four kinds of Peruvian cuisine – bringing together elements of fine dining, casual dining, regional cuisine and street food. Operators can claim up to two free places by emailing or calling her on 01444 817691.

Consumers cut back on eating and drinking out as they prioritise essentials, unlikely to improve in second quarter: Consumers spent less on eating and drinking out in the first quarter of 2018 compared with last year as they adjusted their discretionary spending to prioritise essentials, according to the latest findings by Deloitte. Despite improving consumer confidence in the first quarter of 2018, the quarterly survey of more than 3,000 UK adults revealed the extent to which leisure spending is under pressure. Consumers reported reducing their leisure spending in seven out of 11 categories compared with the same period in 2017. Spending in drinking in pubs and bars fell 3%, while eating out was down 2%. Of those who spent less on going out in the quarter, almost half (45%) said they did so because they couldn’t afford it, suggesting consumers were consciously downshifting their discretionary spending. The quarterly view showed a similar picture, with seven categories also seeing a reduction in leisure spending compared with the fourth quarter of 2017. Looking ahead to their spending intentions for the next three months, consumers said they planned to spend less money in almost every leisure category, with the cautious approach to discretionary spending showing little sign of abating. Consumers plan to reduce spending on all habitual leisure activities, including going out to restaurants (down 5%), drinking in pubs and bars (down 5%) and drinking in coffee shops (down 1%). Simon Oaten, partner for hospitality and leisure at Deloitte, said: “Consumers are still feeling the pinch and, as a result, they are consciously re-evaluating the way they spend on leisure activities. This is one reason why we have seen such a decline in spending on in-home leisure. Cutting back on takeaways and entertainment purchases is easier for consumers to influence and therefore this category is more volatile to changing levels of income. Leisure businesses will hope improved weather conditions will encourage consumers to go out and spend in restaurants, bars and pubs after a long winter period. It appears unlikely the ‘good times’ will return to consumers in the next three months, with spending intentions well below where they were a year ago. That said, the World Cup – an event that typically boosts leisure spending – could come at just the right time to encourage consumers to delve into their pockets to spend on leisure activities.”

Foodservice price inflation continues stability in March, at 1.8%: Foodservice price inflation remained relatively low in March at 1.8%, continuing a level of stability in 2018 after a turbulent 18 months in the sector. The latest CGA Prestige Foodservice Price Index will be reassuring news for operators, who have faced high levels of inflation since the EU referendum in mid-2016 and sterling’s subsequent weakening. Inflation halved from 5.1% in December 2017 to 2.5% in January 2018 and fell again to 0.5% in February. The figure rose month-on-month to 1.8% in March but is still below the rate of inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index. The downward trend in inflation has been driven by the increased supply of several key materials including sugar, where a global surplus led inflation to fall dramatically. Meat and dairy were among the other categories to fall into deflation territory in March. In recent months, the value of sterling has stabilised against the euro and improved versus the dollar, helping to ease pressures on the price of imported items. Increased certainty over the UK’s exit from the European Union has also restored more confidence to the sector. However, inflation was rampant in oils and fats – recording the highest figure in a single category of the index – following poor soybean output in key territories. In fruit, poor weather and declining volumes across much of Europe drove inflation higher. March inflation was also relatively high on soft drinks, where the introduction of the government’s “sugar tax” created uncertainty over producer costs and consumer spending. Prestige Purchasing chief executive Shaun Allen said: “As we enter into an important period of food production, good weather conditions in major growing regions will be fundamental to keeping inflation at a low level.” Fiona Speakman, CGA client director – food, added: “Positive signs on the supply of some items will add to the sector’s confidence – but exchange rates, tariffs and the weather are among the many issues that will keep businesses on their toes in purchasing and pricing this year.” 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.

Creditors of failed meat supplier likely to receive between 60p and 80p in pound: A Derby-headquartered specialist meat supplier to hotels, restaurants and pubs across the UK owed almost £10m to trade and expense creditors when it went into administration, although a return of between 60 and 80 pence in the pound is a possibility, newly filed documents have revealed. Russell Hume employed 302 staff at sites in Derby, Liverpool, Birmingham, London, Boroughbridge, Exeter and Fife before going into administration in January. A report by administrators Chris Pole and Mark Orton, of KPMG Restructuring, estimated unsecured trade and expense creditors, owed about £9.9m, might recover between 60 and 80 pence in the pound. However, this depends on the success of issues such as stock realisation and debt recovery. The documents also revealed about £7.8m of food owned by the company could be destroyed, while the business was owed about £7.6m at the start of the year. In January, administrators were called in with the loss of almost 270 jobs following the launch of an investigation by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) into the Derbyshire company’s practices. At the start of the year, the FSA stopped any products from leaving sites operated by Russell Hume citing “concerns about non-compliance with food hygiene regulations”. The action followed an unannounced inspection of the company’s Birmingham site.

US fast food ‘dollar’ deals surge as consumer spending softens: Cheap fast food “dollar” deals surged in the US during the first quarter, marking a major shift in strategy as a cool-down in consumer spending sent restaurant chains scrambling for customers. So-called “value” offers have been part of the US fast food landscape since 2002, when McDonald’s debuted its Dollar Menu, giving the industry a reliable recipe for driving visits. McDonald’s and other major chains have de-emphasised such deals in recent years, choosing to invest in food-quality improvements instead to bolster competitiveness. However, dollar deals roared back in the first three months of 2018 when economists estimated consumer spending growth braked to below 1.5%. That would be the slowest pace in almost five years and follows the prior quarter’s robust 4% growth rate. Value menu visits were up 10% while value menu sales chalked up a 13% gain, NPD Group analyst Bonnie Riggs told Reuters. The results lifted value menu visits 1% for the fiscal year ended March 2018, reversing three consecutive years of decline. Brigg said: “It is clear major restaurant chain operators are pulling out all the stops to get consumers to visit this year.” Yum! Brands’ Taco Bell, known for its low-priced food and Dollar Cravings value menu, appears to have an edge in the latest price war. It registered a record 53 million orders of its new $1 nacho fries in five weeks during the first quarter, contributing to outsized value menu sales gains, NPD Group said. McDonald’s, seeking to win back customers lost after the company abandoned its Dollar Menu in 2013, jumped back in with the launch of a $1, $2, $3 value menu in January. Some investors are worried the dollar deals – including McDonald’s $1 any size drinks and $2 small McCafe drinks – are siphoning business from Starbucks, which last week posted its second consecutive quarter with no growth in US visits. Starbucks, for its part, is adding specials to woo “occasional” customers who visit one to five times a month.

Hospitality app The Entertainer secures 1,500 operators for official UK consumer launch: The Entertainer, an app that provides offers from dining, leisure, entertainment, beauty and hotel brands, has secured 1,500 hospitality operators across 4,000 outlets as it officially launches to consumers in the UK. The business is on track to reach its projected forecast of 2,000 operators across 7,500 outlets by January 2019. Multi-site operators signed up include Jamie’s Italian, Busaba Eathai, The White Brasserie Company, Azzurri Group-owned Zizzi, Subway, and Casual Dining Group-owned Belgo. The app promotes offers such as two-for-one dining and works to protect an operator’s brand values by limiting the amount of redemptions to three a year. Offers are valid for 12 months (excluding public holidays), while the model is performance-based. The app collects customer data such as geo-mapping, which pinpoints where customers live compared with where they work. Global marketing director Mike Rich said: “With the industry facing mounting pressure and uncertainty from all directions by way of Brexit, increased rent, rates and operating costs, and labour shortages, I believe there has never been a better time for operators to drive loyalty. Through offers and incentives, operators can drive footfall, leaving their front and back-of-house teams free to do what they do best – delivering a fantastic experience that leaves customers wanting more.”

Glasgow diners are UK’s top tippers: Glasgow has the most generous diners in the UK when it comes to tipping, according to new research by restaurant booking platform OpenTable, with an average tip of £5.33. For the UK as a whole, the national average tip has risen from £4.18 in 2015 to £4.51. However, in London the average tip has fallen 12% during the same period to £5.01, with the capital falling from first to third on the list. Due to the rise of cashless dining, more than half (58%) of respondents prefer to pay for their meal out by card. However cash is still king when it comes to tipping, with almost three-quarters (72%) preferring to tip in cash. When eating out with friends and family, almost one-third (32%) of diners said tipping in cash made it easier to work out. Belfast is the second most generous city, with tips increasing 30%, while Nottingham is the most frugal region, with an average tip of £3.22 and one in five diners leaving no tip at all. Liverpool is the city where diners are most likely to leave a tip (97.5%). OpenTable vice-president Europe Adrian Valeriano said: “We’ve found the UK is a nation of willing tippers, with the national average on a steady rise. As cashless payment becomes a trend that more restaurants and bars are turning to, it’s interesting to see how the UK is still holding on to tradition and tipping with cash.”

Scotland’s MUP launch is a ‘landmark day’: The launch of the minimum unit pricing (MUP) structure for off-trade alcohol sales in Scotland is a “landmark day”, according to Norman Loughery, off-trade sales director of C&C Group, the manufacturer, marketer and distributor of branded cider, beer, wine and soft drinks. MUP comes into force today (Tuesday, 1 May), with C&C Group vocal supporters of the move since its proposal in 2011. In February, Scotland agreed to a 50p minimum unit price that will raise the cheapest price for a four-pack of beer from £1 to £1.78, a three-litre bottle of cider from £3.59 to £11.22, a 70cl bottle of vodka from £9.97 to £13.11, scotch from £11 to £14 and a bottle of wine from £3.09 to £4.98. Loughery said: “Today is a landmark day for Scotland. MUP is designed to target strong, cheap alcohol, which is linked to harmful drinking. Deaths through alcohol misuse in Scotland are 54% higher than England and Wales and six times higher in the country’s most deprived areas. Heavy drinkers in poverty are at the greatest risk from over-consumption and MUP aims to tackle this group specifically. We strongly believe the industry must play its part in tackling alcohol abuse and will continue to work with relevant bodies in the territories in which we operate, including Ireland and Northern Ireland, to seek the introduction of MUP legislation.”

Company News:

Casual Dining Group chief Steve Richards joins Arc Inspirations board: Casual Dining Group chief executive Steve Richards has joined the board of bar and restaurant operator Arc Inspirations as a non-executive director, Propel has learned. Richards, who is also non-executive director of pan-European hostel and bar company Beds and Bars, said his “day job” at Casual Dining Group would remain his focus – the company operates about 290 mid-market restaurant brands including Cafe Rouge, Bella Italia and Las Iguanas – but added he was “very happy to be able to help growing businesses like Arc Inspirations”. Chief executive Martin Wolstencroft and chairman Chris Ure founded Arc Inspirations in 1999. Anni Opong is the company’s managing director. A source close to the company said: “Martin is a great guy – a real force of nature and one of the sector’s leading entrepreneurs. Steve brings a wealth of experience across operations and also helping companies grow. He’ll work closely with the existing board, founders and shareholders.” Arc Inspirations operates 17 venues including its Manahatta and Banyan brands.

Gaucho managing director Tracey Matthews steps down: Gaucho Group, the leading Argentine steak restaurant group operating the Gaucho and CAU brands, has announced managing director Tracey Matthews is leaving the business after 18 years to pursue new opportunities. Chief executive Oliver Meakin said: “Tracey has been instrumental in the successful growth of Gaucho to become the UK’s leading Argentinian steak restaurant. Her passion and dedication have been exemplary and I would like to express our sincere thanks for her leadership and significant contribution throughout the past 18 years. Tracey and I are working together to ensure a smooth transition. Tracey leaves with our best wishes and sincere gratitude and we wish her well for her future endeavours.” Matthews added: “Much of my working life has been spent at Gaucho. It has been an honour to be part of a team of talented, driven and passionate individuals. To have had the chance to grow with the business over the past 18 years has been an absolute privilege. I know I am leaving Gaucho in capable hands with an amazing team and wish it every success for the future.” There are 16 Gaucho-branded restaurants in the UK and one each in Dubai and Hong Kong. The CAU brand operates from 22 sites in the UK and one in Amsterdam.

Indigo Pub Company acquires two Brighton freeholds from Greene King: Hove-based Indigo Pub Company has acquired the freehold of two Greene King pubs in Brighton, Propel has learned. The team at Indigo Pub Company has run The Hop Poles in Middle Street and The Eagle Bar And Bakery in Gloucester Road for five years. Chris Bloomfield, director of the Indigo Pub Company, said: “We are extremely pleased to purchase the freeholds of these two popular pubs, enabling us to continue our strategy of expanding our portfolio of high-quality Brighton and Hove freeholds. I’d like to thank Greene King for its excellent support during the five years we have worked together, allowing us to grow the businesses in our own way with the benefit of such strong brands from a leading and respected brewer.”

Arkell’s announces first new-build pub for 15 years: Swindon-headquartered brewer and retailer Arkell’s Brewery has started design work on its first new-build pub for 15 years. The company has secured a site at Crest Nicholson’s Tadpole Garden Village development in north Swindon, which will include 1,855 homes, shops, a primary school and community sports facilities. Arkell’s director George Arkell said: “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to build a pub for the community. We’ve been rooted in Swindon for 175 years and it’s great to be able to make this announcement in our anniversary year. Tadpole Garden Village is an enormous project and our new pub will not only offer residents a place to socialise but also provide the community with a vital hub. We are looking forward to starting work on the design. More than 15 years ago we began work on The Tawny Owl at Taw Hill and it is one of our most successful Swindon pubs.” Crest Nicholson managing director Andrew Dobson added: “The Arkell’s pub will be a wonderful addition to our thriving new community. It’s great to be supporting a local business, especially one with such a strong heritage and links with the local area.” Arkell’s hopes to start building work in early 2019 with a view to opening the pub at the end of the year.

Four restaurant brands sign for Cannon Street site: Four restaurant brands have signed for units at 45 Cannon Street in central London. Shake Shack, Black Sheep Coffee, Pali Kitchen and Canadian-based health brand Freshii have agreed deals with landlord Morgan Capital, represented by agent Savills. The largest deal is for Shake Shack, which has agreed a new 15-year lease on a 3,608 square foot (335 square metre) restaurant, while Black Sheep Coffee has taken a 20-year lease on a 1,235 square foot unit. Pali’s Kitchen and Freshii will open 872 and 1,050 square foot restaurants on 15-year and ten-year leases respectively. Opposite Mansion House underground station, 45 Cannon Street offers office space across nine storeys. The deals mean the building’s ground-floor retail and leisure units are fully let. Benji Ashe, of Savills, said: “We are pleased to have secured this varied mix of food and beverage operators at 45 Cannon Street, offering everything from an early morning coffee to a late-night burger. The high-calibre line-up will enhance the appeal of the building for office occupiers as well as creating a dining destination in its own right.”

Five Points Brewing Company closes crowdfunding campaign after raising more than £1m for expansion: Hackney-based Five Points Brewing Company has closed its campaign on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube after raising more than £1m to “expand its community”. The company, which was offering a 5.66% equity stake in return for the investment towards an initial £750,000 target, will use the capital to open the first Five Points taproom at The Pembury Tavern in Hackney, which the company acquired in March. In total, 1,623 investors pledged £1,178,630 and the campaign has now closed. Funds will also be invested in brewhouse equipment and fermentation tanks that will triple production in a bid to increase sales from two million to six million pints a year (34,000 hectolitres). A new research and development brew-kit at The Pembury will be used to develop new recipes and brewing processes. The company reached capacity in late 2016 and has been brewing some of its beer with a brewery in Belgium. The investment will enable Five Points to bring all production back to London. The fund-raise will also allow the company to invest in its team, expand UK distribution and develop its growing export business. Five Points Brewing Company, which has seen turnover increase from £173,000 in 2013 to £2.6m in 2017, was the first brewer in the UK to be an accredited Living Wage employer, sources electricity from 100% renewable sources and helped set up an apprenticeship scheme at Hackney Community College. Co-founder and managing director Ed Mason said: “We believe we have the potential not just to cement our position as one of London’s favourite brands but to become a truly national brand.”

Starbucks to reduce limited-time offers: Starbucks will shift its focus from short-term goals to build a more “sustained platform” and a more personal relationship with customers. Chief operating officer Rosalind Brewer admitted the brand had focused on a “drumbeat of promotional offerings” in the past that didn’t lead to sustained growth. The company has reduced the number of limited-time offers by 30% year-on-year and its new approach will centre on targeted offers that are personalised to individual customers. For instance, it will revise its “Happy Hour” offer. Previously, Starbucks offered a free frappachino to “anyone and everyone, even customers who might have come in anyway”. While this worked initially, it had become unprofitable, it said. There will also be a shift to supporting products with a broader appeal. Brewer cited Blonde Expresso, which is a sweeter expresso coffee, as a product Starbucks is looking to push rather than its one-off drinks. The culmination will be a three-month campaign to push afternoon sales that will launch in May. Brewer said: “We will be driving a consistent and sustained message to the consumer that leverages the fantastic line-up of new beverages, great food pairings, a more welcoming environment for our customers, and reinforced engagement with our customers once they are in our doors.” Meanwhile, chief executive Kevin Johnson said the discrimination incident in Philadelphia in April, which occurred outside its second-quarter results window, had not hurt sales. Two black men were arrested for trespassing while sitting in a Starbucks cafe without making a purchase. Starbucks plans to temporarily close locations on 29 May for an afternoon of racial-bias education. Johnson said the culture training was “one small piece” of multiple actions Starbucks will take to prevent discriminatory acts in its cafes. “All companies make mistakes,” he said. “Great companies learn from them and improve – and that’s exactly what we intend to do.”

Merlin Entertainments to raise $400m via note offering: Merlin Entertainments has announced an offering of $400m of US dollar-denominated senior notes due in 2026. The company stated: “The proceeds of the offering will be used to prepay all amounts outstanding under Merlin’s existing term facilities, comprising the $311m and £4m term facilities made available under its senior facilities agreement; partially repay amounts drawn under Merlin’s revolving credit facility; and pay costs, fees and expenses incurred in connection with the offering, including underwriting commissions and fees for legal, accounting, ratings advisory and other professional services. The notes are being offered in a private placement and there will be no public offering of the notes.”

Trio of operators secure sites at Reading leisure development: Three operators have secured sites at a leisure development in Reading. Vietnamese street food restaurant group Pho, Korean barbecue restaurant Soju and Escape Hunt have agreed deals with Atlantis Holdings, represented by agent Savills, at The Village in King Street. The town centre scheme has recently been rebranded and refurbished to create eight leisure units totalling 27,958 square feet (2,597 square metres). Pho has agreed a 20-year lease for a 4,109 square foot unit, while Soju has opened a 1,898 square foot restaurant on a ten-year lease. Escape Hunt, which has sites in more than 20 countries, has agreed a 15-year lease for a 4,348 square foot venue. The new brands will join Bolan Thai Cuisine, Caffeine & Cocktails and Dolce Vita Italian, which have already taken space within the scheme. Ben Chislett, retail director at Savills, said: “The refurbishment of The Village has transformed this part of the town centre and, together with the Jacksons Corner development, created an alternative leisure destination for Reading. Just three available units remain and we are in talks with a number of potential occupiers.”

Honest Burgers partners with Trail: Honest Burgers has partnered with operations management app Trail – a checklist for service operations designed to guide teams through their day with repeat processes and automated integrations. Efficiencies help to drive profitability and free staff to focus on customers. Honest Burgers operates 23 sites in London and one each in Cambridge and Reading. Co-founder and operations director Philip Eeles said: “2017 was a great year for us – we reached 25 restaurants and took Honest out of London for the first time. It’s been a massive learning curve. Only eight years ago we were serving burgers at festivals so adapting the business as we’ve grown has been key. Trail will enable us to reduce email noise, paperwork, admin and simplify communication to our managers, allowing them to get on with what they should be doing – talking to our customers and driving sales!” Trail managing director and co-founder Joe Cripps added: “We’re huge fans of Philip and the team at Honest Burgers. They’re pushing the industry forward in challenging times, adding sites to an incredible brand. Maintaining customer experience is key with increased competition and a tough trading climate.” Trail’s other customers include Ei Group, Deliveroo, Bill’s and New World Trading Company.

Star Pubs & Bars launches weekly e-learning for licensees via Facebook: Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars is launching weekly business coaching for its licensees via its Facebook page. Entitled “Business Breakfast”, the sessions will go live every Wednesday and provide training on all aspects of running a pub – from recruitment to marketing – as well as guidance on issues affecting licensees. Each Business Breakfast will take the form of a short e-learning course with bespoke content created by specialists from within Star Pubs & Bars. The courses will last between one and ten minutes and include links to further resources. The first session on Wednesday (2 May) will provide an easy-to-understand overview of GDPR and the sort of measures licensees must take to comply. The company is also encouraging Star licensees to put forward topics they would like covered. Created by Star Pubs & Bars using CPL’s Custom Course Creator software, the Business Breakfasts feature videos and animations. Much of the content is suitable for licensees to use for staff training. Star Pubs & Bars head of training Michael Soderquest said: “E-learning is revolutionising training in the pub industry, making it much more accessible. Licensees are extremely busy and the concise format of our Business Breakfasts is designed to address that. Larger topics can be broken into bite-size chunks that focus on individual insights and ideas that are quick and easy to implement.”

Chipotle rolls out delivery in US with DoorDash partnership: Chipotle Mexican Grill has partnered with DoorDash to bring delivery to 1,500 restaurants in the US – its largest delivery footprint to date. The partnership expands delivery to more than half of Chipotle’s 2,441 restaurants. Chipotle also uses Postmates, where delivery is available at about 660 restaurants, according to the provider’s website. Many of those restaurants are in markets that overlap with San Francisco-based DoorDash, which is available in more than 800 cities across the US and Canada. Chipotle chief digital and information officer Curt Garner said: “Delivery is an important way we are making Chipotle even more convenient and accessible to our customers. By partnering with a delivery leader like DoorDash, we are making it even easier.” The DoorDash deal is part of Chipotle chief executive Brian Niccol’s plans to reboot the brand by making it more convenient for diners.

Beer and skateboard brand launches £150,000 crowdfunding campaign to create London HQ: Beer and skateboard brand Hop King Brewery has launched a £150,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to create a London headquarters “with a difference”. Founders Ben and Ludi Hopkinson are offering an 8.57% equity stake in return for investment. The pitch states: “We knew Hop King needed to stand for much more than just good beer, which is why Hop King is also a skateboard brand. We wanted to create a brand that, before anything, was cool! We have designed and produced a clothing range, skateboard decks, and have an official Hop King skate team with three pros and four amateurs. The beer and skateboard elements act as USPs for each other and we hope this alignment will give the beer the edge required in such a competitive market place, as well as provide great content for a social media-focused business. We want to create a London headquarters with a difference – The Hop Kingdom – a warehouse, office, taproom, skate park and events space that will be a hub of awesomeness.”

Mowgli signs Zonal as technology provider amid ambitious expansion plans: Indian street food restaurant Mowgli has appointed hospitality management solutions company Zonal as technology provider amid its ambitious expansion plans. The initial contract is for Zonal to supply its Aztec EPOS systems into Mowgli’s latest sites – in Birmingham and Oxford – with further openings planned for Leeds, Nottingham and Cardiff. Zonal won the contract following a competitive pitch. Mowgli finance director Matthew Peck said: “We are still a small business but with private equity backing we are looking to launch Mowgli in many more UK cities over the coming years and wanted to appoint a technology provider that could grow with us. Zonal was also appealing because it remains a family firm, sharing our values with valuable sector knowledge and experience.” Mowgli already operates Zonal’s Aztec system in its restaurants in Liverpool (two sites) and Manchester. Peck said: “We are very pleased with the reliability of the system and the support we are receiving. Our teams have also found Aztec easy to use, which is another bonus.” Mowgli was founded by barrister and food writer Nisha Katona in 2014.

James’ Places invests in electric delivery vehicles: Lancashire-based hospitality group James’ Places has invested in two electric delivery vehicles. The company, which owns a collection of pubs, rural inns and hotels across Lancashire, Yorkshire and Cumbria, has taken delivery of the Renault Kangoo electric vans. They will shuttle between the company’s eight sites in the Ribble Valley, Forest of Bowland, Yorkshire Dales and South Cumbria – transporting beer from Bowland Brewery and other stock between venues. The group has also installed charging points at all its venues, which will be available to hotel guests and visitors. Chairman James Warburton said: “Driving a smooth, silent, clean electric vehicle for the first time is a real breath of fresh air and by investing in these vans to deliver our ales, we’d like to think we’re doing our bit to keep the Forest of Bowland beautiful.”

Novus launches first spirits festival: Novus, the London bar and restaurant operator, has launched its first spirits festival. The event will run in partnership with suppliers including Diageo, Pernod Ricard and WM Grant until 31 July. The festival starts across the Balls Brothers brand via a celebration of gin, with customers invited to sample a new serve every month. Meanwhile, Novus bars’ focus will be on cocktails, with monthly cocktails created for May and June and the best-sellers securing a place on the drinks menu from July. There will also be a Bulleit Bourbon Whiskey pop-up bar at Forge and a Ketel One Kitchen offering vodka masterclasses. Novus customer experience director Simon Gaske said: “We’re delighted to launch our first spirits festival in partnership with leading drinks suppliers. Our mixologists will deliver a fantastic variety of serves throughout the summer.”

Robinsons reopens North Wales pub and hotel as managed estate refurbishment programme continues: North west brewer and retailer Robinsons has reopened The Wynnstay Arms pub and hotel in Ruabon, near Wrexham, following a major refurbishment. The grade II-listed, former 18th century coaching inn closed in October, with the reopening creating 30 jobs. The new layout centres on reclaimed open fires, while the new food menu features pub classics. In addition to the refurbishment of its eight bedrooms, an additional four rooms have been created in the old stables and another three in a former ballroom. Robinsons Brewery managing director (pub division) William Robinson said: “The Wynnstay Arms is a wonderful example of a pub at the heart of the community and we wanted to make sure the refurbishment continued the rich history of this pub – the tenth managed house we’ve refurbished in our estate.”

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