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Wed 2nd May 2018 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Mother Clucker in funding talks for expansion as it prepares to open debut bricks-and-mortar site: John Upton, chairman of buttermilk-fried chicken specialist Mother Clucker, has told Propel the company is about to “kick-off a fundraising round to accelerate its roll out across the UK and overseas”. Upton, former managing director of natural fast food brand Leon and ex-member of McDonald’s UK leadership team, told Propel: “I’m delighted and immensely proud to work alongside co-founders Brittney Bean and Ross Curnow and the rest of the team as we grow and develop this hugely exciting and scalable business.” The announcement comes as Mother Clucker prepares to open its first bricks-and-mortar site. The venue, which will launch in Exmouth Market on Tuesday, 15 May, will offer the brand’s signature chicken strips and cajun fries alongside breakfast, an expanded menu, coffee, a “banging” soundtrack, craft beer from Five Points Brewing Co, and New Orleans-inspired cocktails including Sex On The Rocks and Kermit’s Middle Leg. The venue will open daily from 11.30am to 10.30pm and feature walls adorned with thousands of Mother Clucker stickers including special-edition versions designed by renowned artists such as Poppy’s Papercuts, Mr Phomer and Anthony Burrill. Mother Clucker launched five years ago, operating from a converted US Army ambulance called the Cluck Truck. Bean said: “After five years of frying chicken from trucks, gazebos and shipping containers all over London, we’re ready to roll out our permanent units with an expanded food and drinks menu. We’re really excited about breakfast, we’re really excited about Five Points beer and we’re really excited about cocktails – but mostly we’re really, really excited about bringing more people more chicken more of the time.”

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. Speakers will include Coaching Inn Group founder Kevin Charity, who will outline ten critical ways to inspire people to achieve great performance in adverse conditions. Meanwhile, leading brands consultant Ian Dunstall will outline how inspirational leaders set up and evolve a brand that is loved by employees and guests alike. For the full schedule click hereTickets 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 anne.steele@propelinfo.com or call 01444 817691.

Propel summer conference and party open for bookings, Andreas Karlsson 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. Andreas Karlsson, group chief operating officer of Sticks ‘n’ Sushi, will talk about expanding the business from its Copenhagen roots to the UK, what he has learnt, and the progress the brand has made since. Operators can claim up to two free places by emailing anne.steele@propelinfo.com or calling her on 01444 817691.

UK hotel market enjoys strong first quarter driven by overseas visitors: The UK hotel market saw a strong first-quarter 2018 thanks to a significant year-on-year rise in demand from international visitors, according to new data from Expedia Group. London was the top destination in the EMEA region for bookings from overseas tourists, while outside the capital several major cities experienced double-digit, year-on-year growth including Birmingham and Bristol (both 15%), and Newcastle, Manchester and Glasgow (all more than 10%). Top-performing regions included Yorkshire, East Anglia, Essex and the south west, while demand also increased in Scotland. For the UK as a whole, there was strong demand from traditional markets such as the US (55%), and Germany and Australia (both 45%). Demand was further fuelled by visitors from several fast-growing markets such as Spain, Argentina, Ireland and Mexico, which all featured triple-digit increases. There was also notable growth in travellers from China, Korea and Hong Kong. Package demand to the UK has also grown strongly as marketing campaigns promoting “destination UK” helped push up average daily rates for bookings that combine a hotel with flights and/or car hire. Irene Roberts, director of market management, UK and Ireland, lodging partner services, said: “It’s particularly encouraging to see strong growth in demand across many areas of the country and, with the approaching UK summer popular with international guests, hotels should hopefully enjoy some busy months ahead.”

Tennent’s bids to bring all Scottish distribution services in-house: C&C Group brand Tennent’s is proposing to bring all secondary distribution services of its products in-house. Services currently provided by DHL Supply Chain would join Tennent’s distribution network from 30 June. Tennent’s currently manages customer deliveries across the south and north of Scotland, with DHL delivering to customers across the central belt and north east of the country from depots in Cambuslang, Dundee and Kintore. Tennent’s would take over employment of warehouse and delivery staff at the DHL-operated depots, with related assets also transferring over. Consultation with employees is under way with no redundancies or job losses expected, the company stated. Tennent’s group operations director Pat Morrissey said: “This is good news for our customers, our brands and our business in Scotland. Full ownership and management of secondary distribution aligns with our brand-led, multi-beverage, wholesale model. This allows us to continue to invest in our network to strengthen our customer service offer.”

Company News:

Heartstone Inns has ‘plenty of firepower’ to fund further growth, like-for-like sales up 3%: Heartstone Inns has revealed it has “plenty of firepower” to fund further growth as it reported like-for-like sales increased 3% for the year ending 31 December 2017. The company saw sales rise 7% to £10.3m, while pub Editda was up 8% to £1.9m. Operating margin continued to grow – up to 18.4% compared with 18.2% in 2016 and 16.6% in 2015. It was the ninth successive year the company has enjoyed like-for-like sales growth. Heartstone Inns had gearing of only 20.4% at December 2017. A dividend of £0.025 per share was declared for 2017 – double the previous year’s dividend. The company has 16 pubs in its portfolio – 15 of them freehold – having acquired The Two Brewers in Somerset in November and The Hunters Inn in Hampshire in March this year. Heartstone invested £1.7m in the estate in 2017. In addition to acquiring The Two Brewers, the company also completed extensive redevelopments at The Bun Penny in Hampshire and The Walhampton Arms in Hampshire along with several smaller projects across the estate. The company stated: “Already this year we have completed major development projects at The Anchor Inn in Monmouthshire, The Bathurst Arms in Gloucestershire, and The King Alfred (formerly The Two Brewers) in Somerset. We have a number of exciting development opportunities across the estate we intend to progress over the next 12 to 36 months.” Managing director James Birch added: “We are delighted to have delivered a strong set of results and year-on-year growth in 2017. Over the years we have created an estate of high-quality, food-led pubs that continue to grow and perform well. The company has a strong balance sheet with plenty of firepower to fund further growth and we are pleased to be rewarding our shareholders with an increasing flow of dividend payments, a strategy we intend to continue in future years. Already in 2018 we have completed the purchase of The Hunters Inn, our 15th freehold pub, along with completing sizeable development projects at three of our pubs.”

Abokado secures £3m funding to support growth, reports record profits: Healthy eating chain Abokado has secured £3m from alternative finance provider ThinCats to support its ambitious growth. London-based ThinCats, which supports small and medium-sized enterprises with up to £5m of funding, has provided Abokado with a £3m loan. Abokado founder and chief executive Mark Lilley said: “We are excited to have embarked on a new partnership with ThinCats. This will continue to fuel our next phase of growth and allow us to spread our ‘feel great’ vision far and wide." Dave Sherrington, ThinCats business originator for London and the south east, told Propel: "We are delighted to work with Abokado and Mark. It is a great business operating in a difficult trading environment and has done exceptionally well and we are pleased to support the next stage of growth." Meanwhile, Abokado has reported record profits for 2017 and said its Ebitda has increased by almost 50% year-on-year. Lilley added: "I’m immensely proud of my team in delivering these results in the toughest market conditions we’ve experienced since we launched Abokado in 2004. Our formula is simple. Everything we do revolves around bringing Londoners the freshest and healthiest options for breakfast and lunch, and it’s great to get the thumbs up from our customers. It’s also worth noting our staff retention has improved over this period, as our investment in the Abokado family continues to pay dividends." Abokado currently has 24 sites across London.

Dragons missed £360m BrewDog bonanza: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has revealed founders James Watt and Martin Dickie were turned down by the producers of BBC television series Dragons’ Den in 2009. Their pitch would have offered the Dragons 20% of the business for £100,000. Last year BrewDog was valued at £1.8bn, meaning that £100,000 investment would now be worth £360m, while its Equity for Punks crowdfunding scheme has raised more than £56.5m from 78,000 investors since 2010. Watt said: “We pitched our hearts out during the screen trial and thought we did quite a good job. However, the producers did not. They thought our business wasn’t a good-enough investment proposition for the Dragons and BrewDog was not unique enough, special enough or had enough growth potential to make the grade and appear on the show. It was a huge kick in the teeth for us and that stinging rejection still burns today. Our pitch would have seen us offer the Dragons 20% of BrewDog for a £100,000 investment. Since the producers turned us down, we have gone on to build a pretty neat little business, which is currently valued at £1.8bn and raised more than £250m. Had we been able to pitch (and had any of the Dragons invested) that £100,000 would now be worth a whopping £360m. Despite how much of a setback it was at the time, we are happy we got turned down. It forced us to go back to the drawing board in terms of how to finance our business. As a result, we created a model that lets the people who enjoy our beer own a part of our company. Equity for Punks would not have existed without the Dragons’ Den rejection. Who needs celebrity investors when you have Equity Punks?”

Unpaid franchise agreement fees led to Mangobean administration: Newcastle-based coffee shop Mangobean fell into administration after running into difficulties over unpaid franchise agreement fees, a new document has revealed. A report filed at Companies House by administrators Julien Irving, Andrew Poxon and Ellise Townsend, of Leonard Curtis, showed Mangobean was under “substantial cash flow pressure”, which had resulted in a build-up of liabilities of about £64,000 to HM Revenue & Customs and about £78,000 to other trade creditors. The report showed £33,202 of unpaid franchise agreement fees were written off. Accounts for the year to 31 March 2017 showed Mangobean had turnover of £1,144,212 with a pre-tax profit of £3,128. For the year ending 31 March 2016, the company turned over £503,994 with a profit before tax of £28,128. The document showed Mangobean was acquired out of administration in March by a “connected party” to director Shane Saunders in a pre-packaged sale for a total consideration of £17,500. At the completion of the deal, £2,000 was received with the remainder to be paid in four instalments by Tuesday, 26 June. The report showed Mangobean had no secured creditor, while preferential creditors’ claims were likely in the shape of unpaid pension contributions to employees. The administrators said asset realisations would be available to enable a “small distribution”. Meanwhile, it is considered unlikely there will be sufficient funds to enable any form of distribution to unsecured creditors. The report stated: “The company was initially capitalised through the introduction of personal funds by its shareholder and through organic growth became one of the fastest-growing coffee shop chains in the UK. The company moved into franchising in 2014 and opened 12 stores, of which eight operated a non-franchise model. Cash flow for the business had been a challenge since the commencement of trade and the company had anticipated a greater number of franchise agreements would have been completed than had been the case. The company’s principal asset was its debtor ledger, which related to unpaid franchise agreement fees. A number of the franchised stores had closed and the directors considered there was no prospect of collection of these debts. The remaining ledger was also at risk, with one store likely to close and another experiencing trading difficulties showing only a modest prospect of continued trade in 2018 and no immediate ability to make any repayment. As a result, the company was under substantial cash flow pressure, which resulted in a build-up of liabilities.”

Buzzworks opens first dedicated pub: Buzzworks Holdings has opened its first dedicated pub – The T-Bar in Ayr – offering beer, cocktails, late-night food and live music. The pub is next door to the company’s recently refurbished Tree House restaurant in Boswell Park, meaning Buzzworks has invested more than £750,000 in its Ayr venues in the past six months. T-bar’s interior features upcycled materials, including a pewter bar, bespoke artwork and exposed brickwork. The pub will host a weekly schedule of entertainment, including live music and screened sport. Buzzworks Holdings managing director Kenny Blair said: “The hospitality industry is constantly evolving and we saw an opportunity to create a cool and modern pub with a twist, which would suit the local market and sit alongside our restaurant offering at the Tree House.” Buzzworks Holdings currently operates ten sites. In February, Blair told Propel the Ayrshire-based company was looking to “flex its model slightly” as it grew the business, with more focus on drink and accommodation.

London-based Caribbean restaurant Rhythm Kitchen opens second site, in Walthamstow: London-based Caribbean restaurant Rhythm Kitchen has opened its second site, in Walthamstow. Founder Delroy Dixon, who launched the concept at Westfield Stratford in 2011, has opened the venue in Hoe Street. The menu focuses around the charcoal barbecue, which “brings out the best” of its jerk-marinated meat and fish dishes. Alongside its classic jerk, the restaurant also serves dishes such as curried goat and vegetable rundown. Drinks include rum and rum cocktails. Dixon said: “I live in the community and am proud of my Caribbean-British heritage. I am also delighted to announce we have opened our space to London-born photographer Ian Watts, who showcases his fine work of everyday life of the Caribbean-British community and my reggae heroes.”

Cotswolds Distillery launches £2m fund-raise to build ‘brand awareness and long-term growth’: The Cotswolds Distillery, which produces artisan gin and whisky, has launched a £2m fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to “build brand awareness and long-term growth”. The distillery’s products are sold in Harrods, Majestic Wine and Waitrose in the UK and are exported to 28 countries with average sales growth exceeding 100% per annum. The Cotswolds Distillery’s sales growth was £280,000 in 2015 rising to £3.4m in the past 12 months. Ebitda was £145,000, while the company’s destination distillery in Stourton attracted 28,000 visitors in 2017, an 85% rise compared with the previous year. The company is offering 6.23% equity in return for investment and so far 21 investors have pledged £1,138,040 with 29 days of the campaign remaining. The funds will be used to boost the distillery’s brands by accelerating investment in advertising and promotion, deepening its sales and distribution network, and building a visitors’ centre as a “brand home”. The Cotswolds Distillery was founded by chief executive Dan Szor, while directors include Richard Watling, former senior director at Allied Distillers and Diageo. The pitch states: “We founded Cotswolds Distillery in 2013 with the aim of building an appealing ‘destination distillery’ in one of Britain’s most beautiful regions. With capital from our founder, local investors and a previous crowdfunding round we have built solid foundations for our business, a highly capable distillery, award-winning spirits, including our Cotswolds Dry Gin and single malt whisky, and thousands of visitors. We now have capacity to produce one million bottles a year and continue to experience strong growth – our sales increased 75% to £3.1m for calendar year 2017. By comparison, the UK gin market grew 27% over the same period. Now we want to make sure our products and brand are reaching the largest possible consumer audience in a busy market, here and abroad.”

JD Wetherspoon partners with Veolia UK for estate-wide food waste collection and recycling service: JD Wetherspoon has partnered with resource management company Veolia UK to launch a food waste collection service across its roughly 900-strong estate. Food waste and coffee grounds will be used to produce 3,4501MWh of renewable energy a year, while preventing 11,500 tonnes of waste going to landfill and helping Wetherspoon reach its 100% zero-waste target. The contract will also cover glass recycling and general waste, while Wetherspoon will have the option to utilise Veolia’s data insights to drive efficiencies such as site-specific data and a round-the-clock customer hub. JD Wetherspoon contractor performance manager David Willis said: “We are proud to announce our goal of zero waste being sent to landfill by the end of 2018, a target we are well on the way to achieving. Currently 10% of the UK’s waste is exported to the EU and Asia for processing. All Wetherspoon waste managed by Veolia will be managed within the UK, further reducing the carbon impact of our pubs and hotels. We are also continuing to innovate in partnership with Veolia UK to enable wider use of our recyclable products, increasing the amount of sundry items that are manufactured from recycled products such as drinks trays or garden furniture.”

Gordon Ramsay graduate to launch Instagrammable cafe concept in central London: Patisserie chef Zahra Khan, who graduated from Gordon Ramsay’s Tante Marie cookery school, is to launch Instagrammable cafe concept Feya in central London. The 31-seat venue will open in St James Street on Wednesday, 23 May offering a special breakfast menu by Finnish Instagrammer and cookbook author Virpi Mikonnen, whose Vanelja Instagram page is known for its picturesque breakfast smoothie bowls and cakes. The first in a planned chain of cafes, Feya will feature marble tabletops and offer seasonal tarts, pastries and cakes alongside superfood lattes such as beetroot, blue algae and turmeric, Kusmi teas and Ozone coffee, Hot Dinners reports.

Anglian Country Inns to reopen Knebworth pub this month: Anglian Country Inns, the award-winning operator of gastro-pubs and restaurants led by James Nye, is to open its ninth site, in Knebworth this month. The company added free-of-tie The Lytton Arms to its portfolio in March in a deal brokered by agent Fleurets. The pub overlooks the Knebworth Park estate, famous for hosting rock gigs. The Nye family has strong ties with the venue – James’ uncle, Steve Nye, built a reputation for real ale while running the site in the 1990s. The pub, which had been closed, will focus on a wide range of quality beer alongside “rustic food”. James Nye said: “I had my first job scrubbing dishes in the kitchen and it is a pub very close to our family. While wet-led pubs may have been struggling during recent years, we feel there is a great opportunity to make the most of the free-of-tie position to curate an exciting collection of real ale, craft beer and cider, alongside an authentic food offer. This sort of pub is very much part of our ethos and we see it as a great opportunity to expand our successful portfolio.”

Mark Sargeant to open Tower of London restaurant this week: Chef Mark Sargeant is heading back to the capital this week to open a restaurant at The Tower of London. Sargeant, a Gordon Ramsay protégé who has made numerous appearances on television cookery shows, has partnered with CH&Co and Historic Royal Palaces for the venture. Sargeant’s Mess, which will open on Friday (4 May), will be an all-day restaurant and deli overlooking the Thames on the site of what was the Perkin Reveller. It will feature a classic British menu Sargeant has created with head chef Simon Oakley. The menu will feature cod with dripping chips, mushy peas and tartar sauce, and steamed suet pudding with mash, mushy peas and gravy. The deli will serve fresh soup, vegan salads and sandwiches. The 85-cover restaurant will also feature counter dining and a large terrace and bar serving prosecco on tap, frozen cocktails and beer slushies. Sargeant said: “Our aim is to create a modern British diner. We feel this historic location demands a menu that focuses on well-executed, iconic British dishes, offering quality food that is accessible and affordable.” Sargeant operates four restaurants and gastro-pubs in Kent as well as running restaurants at the Great Northern Hotel in King’s Cross.

East London distillery launches £750,000 crowdfunding campaign to fund growth: Gin, vodka and whisky distillery East London Liquor Company (ELLC) has launched a £750,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to drive growth in the UK and abroad. The company, which is listed in more than 1,000 UK accounts and exports to 20 markets, is offering 4.76% equity in return for investment. Already, 144 investors have pledged £622,330 with 29 days remaining. In the three years since it was founded, ELLC has sold 327,764 bottles of spirits in the UK, delivering £4.25m in sales revenue. The company is valued at £15m and will build annual bottle sales to 592,000 bottles in 2022, delivering sales revenue of £9.8m. The company’s five-year plan forecasts 1.8 million bottle sales during that period driven by 30% year-on-year growth. Total sales revenues for the five-year period will be £28.7m. The business will turn over £10.5m by 2020 (2017 turnover was £1.8m, 2018 estimated turnover is £2.5m). The pitch states: “When we started, we were a team of four producing about 1,000 bottles per month for east London accounts and had a bar in Bow Wharf. Now we’re a team of 30 producing more than 12,000 bottles per month, exporting to 20 markets and with plans to launch in New York, Toronto and China before the end of 2018. Sales in 2017 totalled £2.95m (net loss £300,000). We have expanded our base in east London to include a restaurant and bottle shop, with a second bottle shop opened in Borough Market. When our London Rye Whisky launches by the end of 2018 it will be one of the first London whiskies in more than 100 years. Our production is at about 20% capacity so we have plenty of room to grow. Our whisky tastes amazing and we want to produce more of it, quadrupling our production by 2022. We want to expand our sales team to push UK and international growth.” Alex Wolpert launched ELLC in April 2014. Barworks finance director Scott Chillery is also a founding shareholder. Wolpert said: “Established and emerging markets represent a massive opportunity for British brands. Brexit poses a challenge to our industry but the funds raised through this campaign will help us tear down those barriers.”

JKS Restaurants to launch Brigadiers concept at Bloomberg next month: JKS Restaurants is to launch Indian barbecue restaurant and drinking tavern concept Brigadiers at Bloomberg Arcade in the City of London next month. Inspired by Indian army mess bars, Brigadiers will open on Wednesday, 6 June with 140 covers and 34 on a terrace. Live sports will be shown in select rooms, while pool and classic card games will be offered for those who wish to play while they eat and drink. Designed by Brady Williams Studio, Brigadiers will feature seven rooms, each with their own identity. The reception will feature a shoe-shine attendant and act as a gateway between Blighters, a restaurant and bar with booth seating flanking a central bar and sports screens, and the more intimate Dining Room, which leads into The Tap Room and The Pot Luck Room. The Pool Room will be the heart of the “club”, with a pool table, whisky-vending machine and self-serve beer taps. The Kukri Room and The Bidi Room will offer private dining. The menus will focus on Indian barbecue methods such as tandoors, charcoal grills, rotisseries, wood-fired ovens and smokers. Drinks will include a monthly changing list of ten beers including collaborations with British brewers, while on-tap cocktails will include a Nitro Espresso Martini. Brigadiers will also showcase a global whisky list split into four tasting sections – smoky, delicate, light and rich. JKS Restaurants’ portfolio includes Michelin-starred Trishna and Gymkhana, Sri Lankan restaurant Hoppers, and home delivery brand Motu. JKS has also partnered with independents such as Xu, Sabor and Bubbledogs.

Ennismore acquires Cotswolds hotel off asking price of £8.25m: Gleneagles owner Ennismore has acquired Eynsham Hall in the Cotswolds off an asking price of £8.25m. The company has bought the Oxfordshire property from Cathedral Hotels through joint agents Christie & Co and Nick Sweeney. The building, which is set in 45 acres of grounds, dates to the 18th century and was rebuilt in 1908. It currently features 135 bedrooms, a restaurant, bar, private dining and function rooms, and a health club with indoor swimming pool. Ennismore will apply for approved planning permission to add 80 rooms and extended conference facilities, plus a new spa complex. Christie & Co director Jeremy Jones said: “Eynsham Hall offered a fantastic opportunity to acquire an extensive site with planning permission to extend and build revenue further. We received strong interest.”

Gunpowder reveals more details of Tower Bridge site featuring bakery/wine bar concept: Harneet and Devina Baweja, the restaurateurs behind home-style Indian kitchen Gunpowder, have revealed more details of a second site for their concept. The new Gunpowder will open this summer at the One Tower Bridge development and feature a bakery/wine bar concept called Custard. Gunpowder is due to open in August as a 60-cover, first-floor restaurant inspired by Calcutta including dishes such as chicken lollipop Madras-style and Bengali fish fingers with crisps. Custard is set to open in late-July on the ground floor as a 40-cover bakery by day specialising in savouries, pastries and sandwiches from across the Indian subcontinent alongside European influences and coffee by Ozone Coffee Roasters. The venue will transform into a wine bar in the evening. Harneet Baweja told Hot Dinners: “We’ve got a great location at Tower Bridge and I want to recreate the relaxed atmosphere of the old coffee houses of Kolkata.” The venue will be a fourth site for the Bawejas following the debut Gunpowder, Himalayan concept Madame D’s, and Raj-influenced Gul and Sepoy, all in Shoreditch.

Carlsberg reports first-quarter volume drop in UK as it loses market share, strong growth in Asia: Carlsberg’s first-quarter results show it lost market share in the UK but experienced strong growth in Asia. The company’s other premium brands all had strong volume growth – Tuborg (11%), Grimbergen (12%), and 1664 Blanc (44%). However, despite the Carlsberg brand growing volumes in Asia and Eastern Europe, this was neutralised by the volume decline in the UK. Carlsberg saw craft and speciality volume growth of 30% in Western Europe, with alcohol-free brews growing 23% in the region. Net revenue in Asia grew organically by 16%, while net revenue grew 6%. Carlsberg’s Indian business delivered more than 30% volume growth. Carlsberg chief executive Cees ’t Hart said: “In the seasonally small first quarter, we delivered 2% organic revenue growth. The first-quarter growth in craft and speciality and alcohol-free brews, as well as broadly-based growth in Asia, serve as proof points for our SAIL’22 agenda. Funding the Journey is delivering according to plan and we’re well on track to deliver on our full-year expectations.”

Manchester hotel and wedding venue enters administration: Buyers are being sought for a hotel and wedding venue near Manchester airport after it entered administration. Matt Ingram and Steven Muncaster, of Duff & Phelps, have been appointed to the Manchester Terminal 2 Hotel, better known under its trading name Etrop Grange Hotel. The venue remains open for business while a buyer is sought and all bookings will be honoured. Ingram, who labelled Etrop Grange “one of the best-known hotels in the north west”, told Insider Media: “More broadly there is a lot of confidence in the UK hotel sector, which performed well in 2017 and mirrored property investment in general. Driven by a weakened sterling, the growth in staycations and improved infrastructure developments – not least in and around Manchester airport – we believe the future remains bright for Etrop Grange.” Etrop Grange is part of the Squire Hotels Group. Duff & Phelps is also advising the sister site to Etrop Grange – The Best Western Plus Samlesbury Hotel, near Preston. All other venues in the Squire Hotel Group are operating as normal and are unaffected by the administration.

Beer and skateboard brand passes 50% mark in £150,000 crowdfunding campaign to create London HQ: Beer and skateboard brand Hop King Brewery has passed the 50% mark in its £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. So far, 59 investors have pledged £78,710 with 29 days remaining. 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.”

Shepherd Neame reopens Maidstone town centre pub following £900,000 refurbishment: Kent brewer and retailer Shepherd Neame has reopened the Market House in Maidstone following a £900,000 refurbishment. The town centre pub, formerly known as Earls, has reverted to its original name and been extensively remodelled. The ground-floor bar has been opened up and a storage area converted into a kitchen. There is also a new covered alfresco area, a roof terrace and 30-capacity function room. The new menu focuses on fresh, healthy choices such as spinach tortilla wraps and superfood salads, alongside burgers and open sandwiches. Customers can also choose from a selection of small plates, while breakfast is available at weekends from 9am. The drinks offer has also been refreshed, while a new coffee station has been installed with hot drinks and cakes available to take away. Director of retail and tenanted operations Nigel Bunting said: “We are delighted with the results of this major investment. Our objective was to retain the pub’s historic character and atmosphere while creating an exciting environment in which to drink and dine.”

The Stable launches spring and summer menus: The Stable, the 17-strong pizza, pie and cider brand that is 76% owned by Fuller’s, has launched new spring and summer menus. Each of The Stable’s sites offers a different menu depending on availability of local ingredients. The menus focus on sharing dishes with care taken to ensure ingredients are responsibly sourced. Fish for the new Hook, Line and Sinker pizza is sourced from Weymouth-based West Country Catch and depends on the seasonal and sustainable availability of cod, coley or pollock. The Stable executive chef Patrick Campbell said: “With the new menu we wanted to capture our innovative fun spirit and the evolving tastes and dietary needs of our customers, while staying true to our rustic roots. We love the restaurants’ social energy so we’ve echoed that in our new dishes for people to share. All our sourdough pizza bases are hand-made from scratch and our tomato sauce made fresh every day – these values are really important to us and will always stay.”

Hook Norton brews first lager: Hook Norton Brewery has broken from tradition from brewing cask and keg beer with its first lager, Trial #1. The 4% ABV lager has been brewed in its pilot plant using a special lager yeast. Managing director James Clarke said: “I would never have thought we would have been brewing a lager, a real departure for us but then when I joined Hook Norton Brewery we didn’t have mobile telephones, the internet, brewed three different beers, records were handwritten, and 90% of beer drunk in the UK was drunk in pubs. Times and tastes change and we like to think down here at Hooky we can do the same." The lager is available at The Sun Inn, 4 In Banbury, and The Castle, Oxford, pubs as well as the brewery.

Revolution Bars Group announces charity partnership with Shelter: Revolution Bars Group, operator of 73 premium bars trading under the Revolution and Revolución de Cuba brands, has announced a charity partnership with UK homelessness charity Shelter. In 2018, Revolution Bars Group hopes to raise more than £150,000 through fund-raising events and special charity promotions. Executive chairman Keith Edelman said: “What makes this partnership so exciting is its instigation came from the ideas of our general and area managers. The team was passionate about finding more ways to give something back to local communities and commented it often sees the harsh reality of homelessness when working in city centre locations.” Shelter director of fund-raising Andrew Harris added: “We are thrilled to be working in partnership with Revolution Bars Group to raise so much to help people struggling with homelessness and bad housing. We’re really looking forward to seeing and hearing about all the fun and creative ways the group plans to support us.”

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