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Tue 15th May 2018 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Home House team to launch Marylebone private members’ club aimed at entrepreneurs, investors and innovators: The team behind London luxury members’ club Home House is to launch a venture in Marylebone aimed at high-growth entrepreneurs, investors and business innovators. Home Grown will open in January 2019 across four grade II-listed, four-storey Georgian townhouses in Great Cumberland Place. The private members’ club will cover 26,000 square feet and welcome applicants from a diverse range of sectors and industries. It will be aimed at enabling high-growth entrepreneurs and business owners to grow their professional networks and scale up their businesses through collaborations with investors and like-minded individuals. A curated business-learning events programme will be an integral part of the membership offer, including sector-specific networking evenings, talks by business leaders, mentoring sessions, leadership forums, and invite-only “entrepreneur-meet-investor” suppers. Home Grown will be designed by Russell Sage Studio, with the club offering a number of spaces, several bars, a brasserie-style restaurant and a study cafe. The club will also feature 35 boutique bedrooms, several executive lounges, hi-tech meetings and events spaces, and dedicated pitching suites. Home Grown chief executive Andrew Richardson said: “Members’ clubs tend to be socially orientated or have a workspace nature. Home Grown is a unique concept offering the tools, events and opportunities that enable businesses to grow in a luxurious environment one expects from an exclusive members’ club. While we want a diverse range of people they will all have something in common – a passion for business and genuine ambition – whether they come from finance or fashion.”

Industry News:

Last chance to sign up for Finance and Investment Conference this week: This week is the last chance to book for the sector’s foremost investment and finance conference, which takes place on Thursday, 24 May. A host of sector operators and investors have signed up. They include Urban Pubs and Bars, Beds and Bars, Chopstix, Bone Daddies, Buzzwork Holdings, Bank of Ireland, Albion & East, Urban Village Pubs, The Wright Brothers, Ottolenghi, Crussh, Pubs of Distinction, Oakman Inns and Restaurants, Green & Fortune, Chameleon Bar & Dining, Mowgli, Shepherd Neame, Benito’s Hat, Noble Inns, ABC Pub Co, Lisini, Coaching Inn Group, Dip & Flip, Dalziel & Vine, Barclays Bank and Aprirose Real Estate Investment. For the full speaker schedule, click here. 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 anne.steele@propelinfo.com or call 01444 817691

Hospitality sector consumer spend rises in April, although at softest pace since August 2017: Consumer spend in the hospitality sector rose in April, although at the softest pace in growth since August 2017, according to Visa’s latest UK Consumer Spending Index. The hotels, restaurants and bars category saw a 2.9% year-on-year rise in consumer spend in April, compared with a more than 4% figure recorded in the previous two months. Food and drink expenditure, meanwhile, fell at the steepest pace (minus 4.6%) since September 2013 after an Easter-related boost in March. Six of the index’s eight broad spending categories registered lower expenditure compared with April 2017, with household goods recording the quickest decline (6.1%), closely followed by recreation and culture (5.6%). Adjusted for seasonal influences, total spend fell 2.0% on an annual basis, matching the decline seen in March. Consumer spending has now fallen in 11 of the past 12 months, with the index suggesting 2018 is on track for its worst performance since 2012. Visa chief commercial officer Mark Antipof said: “With inflation beginning to fall and wages growing faster than expected in recent months, it would have been easy to assume we might be over the worst of the consumer squeeze. Yet there has been no corresponding improvement in spending, with April’s 2% decline a simple repeat of what we witnessed in March. Low confidence levels among shoppers and the gloomy outlook for the UK economy are likely to have contributed to this continued caution. It is clear consumers remain in belt-tightening mode, with discretionary spending on furniture, electrical appliances and recreational activities worst hit. Retailers will be pinning their hopes on further improvements in household finances and warmer weather leading to a more upbeat few months heading into summer.” The index is based on real spending on all Visa cards, which accounts for more than £1 in every £3 spent in the UK, with a number of adjustments to reflect overall consumer spending that includes cash, cheques and cards.

Wi-Fi and Facebook log-ins unaffected by Cambridge Analytica scandal, GDPR ‘great for the public’: The number of consumers logging in to Wi-Fi and Facebook in public venues has been largely unaffected by the Cambridge Analytica scandal, according to Wi-Fi solutions provider Wireless Social, which has already branded GDPR rules that come into force this month as “great for the public”. Research following Cambridge Analytica’s Facebook scandal revealed that despite an initial dip in activity, consumer digital behaviour has returned to the same level prior to the revelation. The data, recorded between 9 March and 4 May from more than 3,400 UK venues, revealed a mere 3% decline in users opting to log in to the Wireless Social network via Facebook. That figure returned to normal in fewer than seven weeks, the company said, with reported log-ins now at 50%, the second-highest figure Wireless Social has reported. The report also analysed opt-ins for marketing communications, which found consumers are still willing to use a venue’s Wi-Fi if its GDPR compliance is made clear. The company said more than four-fifths (81%) of consumers were still happy to opt-in to receive marketing communications from chosen venues. Wireless Social managing director Julian Ross said: “Some sources were talking about the downfall of Facebook. What our research shows is Facebook is too powerful to stay down for long. The report also highlights to operators the important role GDPR plays on consumer behaviour. When it’s been made clear a platform is GDPR-friendly, such as Wi-Fi log-ins and marketing opt-ins, consumers are more likely to agree to use them. We believe GDPR is great for the public and welcome 26 May with open arms.”

Company News:

Boxpark appoints non-executive directors: Boxpark has appointed John Leslie and Scott Murdoch as non-executive directors to help guide the company’s strategic development amid continued expansion. The appointments follow the addition of Simon Champion (chief financial officer) and Ben McLaughlin (operations manager) to Boxpark’s executive management team earlier this year. Leslie has more than 30 years’ experience in the sector, having previously held chief financial officer and chief executive roles at companies including Intertain, Scottish & Newcastle, Allied Domecq and Regent Inns, with a proven track record in developing and executing expansion strategies. Scott Murdoch is founder and managing partner of independent retail property advisor CWM, working with Boxpark on projects such as its Wembley site, which will launch later this year. Boxpark founder and chief executive Roger Wade said: “I’m delighted to announce the addition of John and Scott as non-executive directors to our board. We have been working closely with John and Scott over the past year and, with over five decades of experience in this sector between them, I know we’ve got a robust set of strategic advisors in place to help Boxpark expand into Wembley later this year and beyond.” Last week, the company announced Boxpark Wembley had agreed terms for 75% of its units. Boxpark is also seeking open land or vacant plots within mixed-use development schemes as it gears up for further expansion.

Paul UK makes move into transport hubs as part of two new London sites: Paul UK, the French bakery and cafe brand, is to open two sites in London this month, including its first move into transport hubs. The launches at St Pancras International station and Canary Wharf will bring Paul’s portfolio to 35 in the capital and 38 UK-wide. The 1,250 square foot Paul Express opening in St Pancras International on Monday, 21 May will be the first of its kind and located just before the departure gates of the Eurostar. It will cater for those wanting a grab-and-go freshly ground coffee, viennoiserie, sandwich, salad or snack before their journey. Meanwhile, on Monday, 28 May, Paul Canary Wharf will see the bakery move to a more spacious 1,430 square foot site on Cabot Place following growing demand from customers. As well as offering the brand’s signature range of freshly baked bread, gourmet sandwiches and viennoiserie, the shop will also have a cake personalisation station and offer freshly baked patisserie filled in front of customers. Paul UK chief executive Jean-Michel Orieux said: “Opening Paul Express in St Pancras is very exciting for us. Being part of such a major international transport hub is the perfect next step in the brand’s growth and we look forward to providing the thousands of commuters and tourists who pass through the station daily with our traditional, hand-crafted baked goods. We are also thrilled to be moving to a larger site in Canary Wharf. There is a huge demand for what Paul offers in the area so I am confident this new shop will be very well received.”

Arc Inspirations announces brace of Manchester openings: Arc Inspirations, the bar and restaurant operator led by Martin Wolstencroft, has announced a brace of Manchester openings this autumn. It will unveil its first Manahatta site in the city, in Deansgate, shortly before launching its second Banyan Bar & Kitchen site in Manchester, in Spinningfields. The move will take its burgeoning portfolio of bars to 18. Manahatta, which takes its name from the original name for Manhattan, will open this autumn following a significant £1.8m investment to transform a 230-cover basement site in Deansgate. It will be the brand’s first site to open across the Pennines, joining two Manahatta sites in Leeds. The new Banyan Bar & Kitchen is due to open in October, joining the brand’s existing Manchester site in Exchange Square and taking its overall portfolio to eight. Wolstencroft said: “Our passion is creating an ecosystem of bars that all provide something different for the local community. We’ve honed our craft over the past two decades and developed a portfolio of brands that do just that – they work cohesively together in close proximity without cannibalising custom from one other. We believe this is unique. Our focus now is growing the estate in a sustainable and organic fashion. After a lot of deliberation and research we identified Manchester as a fantastic demographic fit for the next two openings and we’re confident they will trade very well when we open the doors.”

West Berkshire Brewery aims to raise £1.47m to support demand as sales soar: West Berkshire Brewery is hoping to raise £1.47m in its latest fund-raise as it reported sales have soared. The company has already raised £9.63m under the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) from more than 1,300 new shareholders. Now it is looking to raise another £1.47m through the initiative to support the demands of the business. Sales for February, March and April have increased 87%, 95% and 160% respectively on last year. Chairman David Bruce said he anticipates the money could be raised within three months. He told Newbury Today: “It’s not just about having people to brew the beer – we’re looking to create more jobs across the board, from accounts, sales representatives and drivers. It’s not just the shareholders who benefit – it’s going to generate a huge amount of income for the local economy.” To date, the company has invested £6m in its new brewery and bottling, canning and kegging facilities at its site in Yattendon. It has also invested £1m in two London freehold pubs. The company has already outgrown its 38,000 square foot brewery, which it moved into in November, and has just agreed terms with its landlord, Yattendon Estates, to lease a further 30,000 square feet. The brewery is also awaiting the arrival of more fermenting and conditioning tanks – worth £2m. Bruce said: “This continues to be a transformational time for West Berkshire Brewery."

Be At One secures first Essex site: Be At One, the specialist cocktail bar group, has acquired a site in Chelmsford as it looks to accelerate its nationwide expansion programme. The Chelmsford site, which was secured by agent Shelley Sandzer, is the group’s first in Essex and is on the site of the former Escedra late-night venue, which was owned by The Only Way Is Essex star James Lock. An extensive £500,000 refurbishment is planned that will transform the interior and, once complete, the 4,000 square foot bar is scheduled to open in late July with its new Be At One identity. Andrew Stones, managing director, said: “We’re delighted to bring Be At One to Essex for the first time and believe our bar will deliver something new and exciting to the scene in Chelmsford city centre. There is currently a gap for a specialist cocktail bar operator in the city and we believe our new guests will enjoy the unique Be At One experience. We continue to be driven by our ethos of growing one bar and one guest at a time. We aim to be the best bar by being the best hosts and know our combination of quality service, great cocktails and party atmosphere is why our guests value the Be At One experience so highly.” Casey Phillips, of Shelley Sandzer, added: "Be At One had been looking to break into the Essex market for some time and we identified this site in Chelmsford as the ideal platform to test their brand in the area.” Be At One is also expanding its site in Boar Lane, Leeds, adding a basement bar with additional seating that will grow capacity by about 200 people. Work is due to be completed at the venue by the end of June. Be At One plans to grow its current portfolio of bars – 17 of which are based in London – to more than 70 in the next five years. Stones added: “We continue to actively seek new bars in locations that culturally match our offering, something that is incredibly important to us as a business, and continue to have a strong pipeline.” Be At One was founded in 1998 by Steve Locke, Leigh Miller and Rhys Oldfield.

Two Heads Beer Co eyes move into coffee market: Independent craft beer retailer Two Heads Beer Co has made a move into the coffee market by launching a dedicated space within one of its London sites. The company has launched Brunch Weasel Coffee at The Beer Boutique bottle shop in East Putney, with a focus on espresso-based drinks. Two Heads Beer Co is working with local roastery Curious Roo on what will initially be a standalone pop-up but with scope to make it a permanent feature. It will host “coffee beer-tasting” nights featuring beers with coffee as an ingredient. Jonathan Kaye, co-founder of Two Heads Beer Co, said: “There is a dearth of good coffee in East Putney. Our customers and indeed we have long bemoaned this situation so we thought rather than complain we’d bring great coffee to the area in the same way we’ve done with amazing craft beer.” Last week, Two Heads Beer Co launched a £350,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to open four stores. The company, which is led by former BrewDog head of retail acquisitions James Hickson, is offering 10.0% equity in return for investment. So far, 86 investors have pledged £117,250 with 25 days remaining. Two Heads Beer Co trades as The Beer Boutique and We Brought Beer brands and currently operates six stores – in Balham, Putney, Clapham, Tooting, Wandsworth and Tunbridge Wells.

C&C Group hires former Bibendum bosses to run business: C&C Group, the manufacturer, marketer and distributor of branded cider, beer, wine and soft drinks, has announced Michael Saunders has rejoined Bibendum as chief executive. Having worked for Bibendum since 1983, Saunders led Bibendum for many years until its sale. He will be joined by James Kowszun, who returns as chief operating officer, a position he held for nine years until June 2016. C&C Group chief executive Stephen Glancey said: “We are delighted to have Michael and James back in the business. Bibendum is a real jewel and under Michael’s leadership we expect to see Bibendum continue to flourish, working hard to deliver the very best wine, spirits and services to our customers.” Saunders added: “After spending my entire career at Bibendum, it feels incredibly special to be back. The Bibendum team, our customers and our suppliers have been part of my life for so long, therefore the decision to rejoin was easy. As part of C&C Group, I know we have the backing to quickly strengthen and develop what is already a great business. James and I will be joining a strong group of people who share our passion and determination to take Bibendum to the next level.” C&C Group bought Bibendum and Matthew Clark from Conviviality last month.

Experimental Group to launch bistro concept in Covent Garden as it ends Ollie Dabbous partnership: Experimental Group is to launch the Henrietta Bistrot at its boutique townhouse Henrietta Hotel in Covent Garden, central London. The restaurant will welcome new head chef Sylvain Roucayrol from sister site Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels having ended its partnership with Michelin-starred Ollie Dabbous. The 80-cover bistro will be on the ground floor and mezzanine and feature a tribute to the former garden the area takes its name from. Glass roofs will combine with more organic design elements such as terracotta tiles and oak flooring. The menu will comprise snacks and plates designed to share. The main menu will feature grilled Galician octopus with a herb relish, and marinated lamb cutlets with black olives and aubergine. Henrietta Bistrot’s wine menu will focus on wine from the Mediterranean, while there will also be cocktails. Experimental Group co-founder Romée de Goriainoff said: “Experimental Group venues have always centred around great food, excellent drinks and a lively atmosphere and this is no exception. The new menu of small plates works just as well for a Monday lunch as it does for a leisurely dinner with family and friends.” Experimental Group, founded by de Goriainoff, Pierre-Charles Cros and Olivier Bon, and joined by Xavier Padovani in 2010, has 18 cocktail bars, restaurants, wine bars and hotels across Paris, New York, Ibiza and London.

McDonald’s promotes new customer experience in marketing push: McDonald’s has launched a campaign promoting its new customer experience as it looks to more widely promote innovations such as table service and mobile ordering. The campaign features three adverts – Hands Full, Grownup and It Must Be – that each focuses on a different McDonald’s service. Hands Full sees two new parents struggle with everyday tasks such as taking a pram down stairs and juggling shopping, before finally getting some respite with table service at McDonald’s. Grownup centres on a father and daughter day out that ends in them getting a McDonald’s using new in-store touchscreens to make their order. The final advert, It Must Be, will launch in June and follows two teenagers who connect through the McDonald’s app. Marie Emery, head of marketing, brand and experience at McDonald’s, told Marketing Week: “Bringing good times to our customers is a key part of the McDonald’s offering and, thanks to our latest convenience services, these are now made that little bit easier.” The campaign is part of a push from McDonald’s to use marketing to ramp up consumer awareness about its innovations. Chief executive Steve Easterbrook said earlier this year McDonald’s would look to push new services, including food delivery and mobile ordering, as it looks to change perceptions and ramp up sales.

Star Pubs & Bars predicts more than 50 million pints will be sold on ‘Super Saturday’: Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars is predicting more than 50 million pints of beer will be sold on Saturday (19 May) in what is anticipated to be the busiest day of the year for pub operators. Dubbed “Super Saturday”, people are expected to head to their local pubs in droves to celebrate the royal wedding and FA Cup final. Star Pubs & Bars has predicted more than 1,000 pints a second will be poured, while it expects a huge spike in demand for British-made cider such as Bulmers and English sparkling wine. Brits will also be able to celebrate late into the evening thanks to government-approved extended hours. Star Pubs & Bars managing director Lawson Mountstevens said: “Pubs have always held pride of place for national celebrations such as royal weddings and great sporting events for Brits. We predict it will be the busiest day of the year as people flock to their local on 19 May.”

Chipotle to appeal after being ordered to pay $8m for ‘wrongful firing’: Chipotle is to appeal after being ordered to pay a former California employee almost $8m in damages for “scheming to fire her” after she filed a worker’s compensation claim for a job-related injury. The order came from a jury in Fresno Superior Court in central California. Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold said the company would appeal the ruling. He told Nation’s Restaurant News: “We are disappointed with the verdict in this case and plan to appeal this decision.” In court, Warren Paboojian argued his client, Jeanette Ortiz, had her employment terminated after the mother-of-nine went on medical leave for injuries related to carpal tunnel syndrome. Ortiz was a general manager making about $70,000 a year. She was fired while on leave after being accused of stealing money. However, Chipotle could not prove this because video evidence had been erased. In addition to taping over the video evidence, Paboojian told the jury Chipotle management deleted text messages and lost notes on reasons for firing Ortiz.

Rap duo launch South Croydon restaurant: Rap duo Krept and Konan have opened a restaurant in South Croydon. They have launched Crepes and Cones in South End. The venue, which describes itself as “not your average dessert restaurant”, has a varied menu including crepes, waffles, grilled food, chicken, burgers, ribs and hotdogs. It also offers mocktails, slushies and milkshakes. Krept told the Croydon Advertiser: “We wanted to do something way out of what we are used to doing, push the boundaries and start a new adventure. It’s something totally different and will give us bigger scope for other things we can do. It makes us confident we can do anything we put our minds to. We had the idea but didn’t have a clue how to do it. We learnt, worked hard and people loved the idea.” The MOBO award-winning musicians predicted they would open their own restaurant via a tweet posted in 2014. They have been working on the project since.

BrewDog opens third US bar in Columbus: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has expanded its bar footprint in the US with its third site in Columbus. The company has launched the venue in Franklinton featuring 48 beer taps and a food menu that includes burgers and sandwiches. The bar has a floor-to-ceiling wood accent wall and two garage doors that open to a large street-level patio. There is also a rooftop terrace offering views of the city and featuring deck flooring and a container bar with 24 taps. BrewDog stated: “Franklinton has been a labour of love but, in the end, this two-story brewpub was worth every amount of effort as it is truly an epic destination in an already awesome neighbourhood. And while we are extremely stoked to establish our new locations and continue to grow in our (US) home town, we are never slowing the growth train down and want to hear from you – where should we go next?”

Zuma co-founder launches first UK site for Inko Nito concept, in Soho: Rainer Becker, co-founder of Zuma restaurant group, has launched a first UK site for his Japanese robatayaki concept Inko Nito. The 90-cover site, which was secured through Restaurant Property, has opened in Broadwick Street, Soho, following the concept’s launch in Los Angeles in December. Group executive chef Hamish Brown’s menu features signature dishes cooked over an open Robata grill including bone marrow, smoked soy, garlic toast and shallots. Lighter dishes include Dungeness crab tartar with wasabi mayo, chicken skin and roasted nori, alongside nigaki, a new style of sushi served with roasted nori, sushi rice and a choice of toppings. Inko Nito also offers cocktails on tap alongside beer, wine and sake. Interiors have been designed by Los Angeles-based Studio Mai, inspired by the “buzz and lively atmosphere of dining in a street market”. Becker, who is behind London restaurants Roka, Oblix, Zuma and The Arts Club, said: “Inko Nito is an evolution of what was the original concept for Roka. We’ve gone back to basics to create a local, accessible destination for London diners. Combining bold and adventurous flavours in a relaxed yet high-energy environment, our ambition is to become a must-visit destination within Soho’s unprecedented dining scene.”

Bath Ales launches new-build brewery: Bath Ales, which is owned by Cornwall-based St Austell Brewery, has officially opened its new brewhouse. The launch of Hare Brewery in Warmley, Gloucestershire, has doubled the brewer’s capacity to 50,000 barrels (14.5 million pints) a year. New equipment at the four-vessel brewery will also enable the company to produce a wider variety of beer styles. Roger Ryman, who oversees brewing and production at Bath Ales and St Austell Brewery, said: “From the start of the project we’ve all shared a clear vision for Hare Brewery – to build one of the region’s most technologically advanced and fully bespoke brewhouses. To see this come to fruition today is a milestone moment. Since Bath Ales joined the St Austell Brewery family, there’s been a continued passion and appreciation of only brewing the highest-quality beers. Our commitment to building the brewery demonstrates our commitment to the brand’s long-term future.” St Austell Brewery chief executive James Staughton added: “As the south west’s most sophisticated and technologically advanced brewhouse, it’s a project we’re immensely proud of. Today’s official opening marks the culmination of two years’ hard work since we acquired Bath Ales in July 2016. I’m thrilled we’re all here today to celebrate the next chapter in the storybook.”

Low-cost gym operator secures £42m to open 50 sites: Low-cost gym operator Xercise4Less has secured £42m investment from Swedish investment firm Proventus Capital Partners to support opening 50 sites. The company plans to open ten gyms by the end of 2018 and a further 40 in the following two years, which would take the estate to 100 sites by the end of 2020. The Leeds-headquartered chain was founded in 2009 and has more than 300,000 members. Xercise4Less founder Jon Wright told Insider Media: “Unlike other budget operators, we are not selling on price. We thrive on ‘changing lives’ and feel this ability to offer more than the consumer imagined they could receive is what will help us to continue disrupting the budget model and maintain the clear water between traditional and low-cost clubs.” Proventus Capital Partners chief executive Daniel Sachs added: “The fitness industry has long been a focus area for us and we are delighted to become a strategic financial partner to Xercise4Less in its continued development.” Xercise4Less is set to open its 50th gym, in Chesterfield, next month.

Harcourt Inns opens third site: Harcourt Inns, the venture from former Racine chef patron Henry Harris and James McCulloch, owner of The Harcourt in Marylebone, has opened its third site. The company has launched The Hero of Maida in Maida Vale, west London, following a refurbishment of the former Truscott Arms. The Hero of Maida is modelled on traditional French bistros and seasonal market ingredients. The pub’s signature Sunday roast menu has been reinstated, with classics including seven-hour slow-roasted shoulder of lamb and rosemary. Seasonal vegetables are championed in daily changing menus. The bar serves fresh salad and sandwiches throughout the day. The ground floor of the Victorian corner site is built around a zinc-topped bar serving ale and beer. Upstairs, the dining room menu is matched with a wine list focusing on old-world choices alongside cocktails and aperitifs. Artwork is a mix of contemporary and vintage equestrian paintings acknowledging the Napoleonic heritage of Maida Vale and lit by overhanging ceiling lights. The Hero of Maida takes its name from the now vanished Hero of Maida pub in which the hero in question was General Sir John Stuart, whose triumph at the Battle of Maida did much to restore British morale. Harcourt Inns’ other sites are the Three Cranes in the City and The Coach in Clerkenwell.

Kricket co-founder publishes cookbook to coincide with Brixton opening: Will Bowlby, co-founder of Indian small plates concept Kricket, has published his first cookbook to coincide with the brand launching its second site, in Brixton on Tuesday, 22 May. The 40-cover restaurant will open under the railway arches in Atlantic Road and feature a standalone bar. Bowlby’s book – Kricket, An Indian-inspired Cookbook – features more than 80 of the brand’s most-popular dishes and has been designed by London-based studio Run For The Hills, which has worked with Kricket on its creative identity, website, and restaurant interiors. Bowlby launched Kricket with Rik Campbell at Pop Brixton in 2015. Kricket’s first permanent restaurant opened in Soho in January 2017, while a third site for the concept will open at Television Centre, the former home of the BBC, in White City this summer.

PizzaExpress partners with publisher Penguin to prompt interest in children’s books: PizzaExpress has partnered with publisher Penguin Random House to introduce Puffin stories to millions of children. The year-long campaign will run in PizzaExpress’ 470 restaurants and on its website. In total, 700,000 Puffin-branded Story Explorer booklets will be given out in restaurants promoting a range of stories including The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett and Diary Of A Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney. Stories in the booklets will change at intervals, while the booklets themselves will contain family activities that encourage them to explore stories together. As part of the campaign, the companies will run a book cover design competition with the winning entry receiving a family portrait by Kinney.

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