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Tue 11th Sep 2018 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Licensed premises closing at almost double the rate they were three months ago, all regions see decline: Licensed premises in Britain are closing at almost double the rate they were three months ago, according to the latest edition of the Market Growth Monitor, from CGA and AlixPartners. The report showed Britain has 3,116 fewer restaurants, pubs, bars and other licensed premises than 12 months ago. There were 119,800 licensed sites across the country in June 2018 – a fall of 2.5% since the previous year. It represents average net closures during the past year of about eight premises a day. The rate of closures has nearly doubled since the last edition of the monitor three months ago, when the year-on-year decline measured 1.3%. Every part of the country has seen a decline, ranging from 3.4% in Wales to 1% in the West Midlands, with London seeing a 2.3% fall. Continuing the trend of the past few years, community pubs continue to account for the majority of closures – but the monitor indicated restaurant numbers are falling too. After a period of growth that has seen Britain’s total restaurants increase 11% in five years, numbers fell 1% in the 12 months to June 2018. The findings confirm other CGA research revealing a host of challenges in the restaurant sector, including fierce competition, flat like-for-like sales and escalating input costs. The casual dining sector has seen a series of closures and company voluntary arrangements from a number of high-profile names in the first half of 2018, although others, especially ambitious fledgling brands, continue to expand. The monitor revealed other bright spots for openings – especially in northern city centres including Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds, which all have at least a fifth more licensed premises than five years ago. Operators are increasingly looking beyond London and the south east for openings, with the number of managed, branded restaurants outside the M25 increasing 5.9% in the past year, compared with 1.5% within it. CGA vice-president Peter Martin said: “People continue to eat and drink out, and new and exciting restaurant, pub and bar brands are still achieving impressive growth. But competition from these dynamic startups, rising costs and the fickle nature of many consumers are combining to turn up the heat on established restaurant brands. In the current climate, standing still is simply not an option.” AlixPartners managing director Graeme Smith added: “The monitor tells the story of a market responding to current pressures. Restaurant expansion is still on the agenda for some companies, particularly in those locations across the UK that have previously been underserved by casual dining operators – but management teams and investors need to carefully consider their opening strategies. When it comes to pubs, operators with a well-executed food offer remain attractive, and those who add accommodation to the mix are under the spotlight of investors looking to businesses with more diversified revenue streams and broader trading windows.”

Industry News:

Propel Multi Club Conference open for bookings, Carluccio’s chief executive Mark Jones to present, two free places for operators: The final Propel Multi Club Conference of 2018 is open for bookings. The full-day event takes place on Thursday, 1 November at the Grange Hotel, St Paul’s, London. Mark Jones, chief executive of Carluccio’s, will talk about re-energising a strong casual dining brand in a challenging market. Multi-site operators of pubs, restaurants and foodservice outlets can book up to two free places by emailing Anne Steele at

Bar and Nightclub Conference and Dusk ’til Dawn awards open for bookings: This year’s Bar and Nightclub Conference and Dusk ’til Dawn awards, organised by UKHospitality and Propel, are open for bookings. Both events take place on Monday, 8 October. The conference will be held at Bafta, Piccadilly. Speakers will be Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, chair of the mayor’s night-time commission and a panel member of the government’s cultural cities inquiry; Karl Chessell, who heads CGA’s retailer business unit; Simon Potts, managing director of award-winning bar and restaurant brand The Alchemist; Toby Smith, chief executive of Novus; Alan Lorrimer, founder and managing director of House of Song; Charlie Gilkes, founder of Inception Group; Andrew Stones, managing director of cocktail bar brand Be At One; and leading licensing barrister Sarah Clover. Meanwhile, Nicholls will talk to Tokyo Industries founder Aaron Mellor; Richard Hamlin, of First Merchant; Peter Marks, of Deltic Group; Tim Kidd, of Adventure Bars; and Lord Smith about the current trading and regulatory landscape in the late-night market. The conference will be followed by the Dusk ’til Dawn Late Night Awards, the annual celebration of the UK’s late-night hospitality sector, at Café de Paris. It will see eight awards presented to recognise the best in the dynamic late-night sector. Tickets for the conference are £139 plus VAT for operators who are UKHospitality members and £195 plus VAT for non-UKHospitality members. Supplier tickets are £185 plus VAT for UKHospitality members and £285 plus VAT for non-UKHospitality members. Meanwhile, tickets for the Dusk ’til Dawn Awards are £150 plus VAT for UKHospitality members and £195 plus VAT for non-UKHospitality members. To book, email Anne Steele at

Allsop reports commercial property market cooling but remains ‘very active’: Auction house Allsop has reported the commercial property market is cooling but remains “very active”, with yields hardening for the best-quality lots. Its half-year review showed the total raised so far this year was £321m – down from £358m last year. The number of lots sold also fell to 529, compared with 562 last year. The average lot size dropped to £607,900, compared with £636,600 the year before. It stated: “Our sales have been very resilient for the first seven months of the year despite falling numbers of lots coming to the wider auction market and the consequent reduction in sales figures. As expected we round off the first half of the year with slightly smaller sales totals compared with last year. There is little doubt the market has been cooling slightly for the more secondary investments, with the average yield for B-grade stock having moved out from 8% for last year to 8.5% for the current half year. Perhaps more surprisingly, for the best-quality lot, average yields have hardened from an annual rate of 5.77% to a half-year figure of 5.65%. Notwithstanding this hardening, the average hides a wide range of yields achieved with some of the very best lots achieving yields down to 3.5%. These most sought-after lots are mainly located in London and the south east, although not exclusively. There is still a very active market with many investors wishing to purchase over the rest of the year and beyond. Despite a cooling market, if property is correctly priced it will sell.”

VisitScotland partners with Expedia Group to drive hotel demand: Scotland’s national tourist board, VisitScotland, has partnered with online travel firm Expedia Group to drive demand for the country’s hotels, particularly during the low season. VisitScotland will use Expedia Group’s data to review the visitor experience in Scotland, with a focus on improving regional spread across the country. Expedia Group data revealed demand for Scottish hotels increased during the first half of 2018, with Glasgow and Aberdeen experiencing a substantial boom of about 10% year-on-year. Irene Roberts, Expedia Group director of market management, UK and Ireland, said: “Our data shows Scottish hotels have enjoyed a really positive first half of the year, with those across a number of the region’s cities and highland destinations enjoying good growth compared with the same period last year. This new alliance aims to build on that success and drive even greater demand all year round.” VisitScotland director of industry and destination development Riddell Graham added: “Tourism is more than a holiday experience – it creates jobs, sustains communities and provides an international shop window for Scotland. Working more closely with Expedia Group will help us extend that reach.”

Company News:

Coaching Inn Group boss – we’ve no tail in the estate, current like-for-like sales ‘best in years’: Coaching Inn Group founder Kevin Charity has told Propel there is “no tail” in the 15-strong estate, with current like-for-like sales the “best for years”. Charity put the performance down to the company’s strict acquisition criteria and the capital spent on sites, with the business reaping the rewards of repeat visits. He said the group was looking to add three or four sites to the portfolio during the next 12 months. Coaching Inn Group saw turnover increase 17.2% to £20m for the year ending 31 March 2018 – and the company is continuing to build on that performance. “The first five months of this financial year have been great – it’s been the perfect weather for us,” said Charity. “The combination of our premium food offer and accommodation continues to do well and our outside areas have really come into play. We invest a lot of money into these sites and that helps give them longevity – they just grow and grow. The accommodation takes time to get going but once you build the reputation people are happy to pay premium rates because that’s where they want to stay and we are certainly benefiting from repeat visits. It’s a similar thing when it comes to weddings – it’s about building that reputation.” Charity said the group’s current like-for-like performance was “market-beating”. He added: “They are excellent – the best we have seen for years. Our site pipeline is strong and we are having discussions about further acquisitions. Because we have such strict acquisition criteria we have no tail in the estate. They are big sites but they are all performing and that is testament to the staff we have.” Coaching Inn Group is backed by the BGF.

Tony Macaroni owner reveals £5m investment to expand concept across UK: The owner of the company behind the Tony Macaroni brand has unveiled plans to invest £5m to expand the group in the next 12 months. Sep Marini has also revealed he has set up a new parent group name to unite the 19 restaurants it currently owns, which trade under a host of different brands. Marini said the Viva Italia group would give a single home to venues it runs under the Tony Macaroni, Mozza, Marini, Tony To Go, Tony Mac Delivers, Nardini’s, Bar 1821 and The Wine House 1821 brands. He will also introduce a new loyalty card to offer rewards to customers and reinforce the message they belong to the same family. Marini announced the move while revealing he is forging ahead with the roll-out of the Tony Macaroni brand – around Scotland, England and Northern Ireland – despite tough conditions on the high street. The company opened its second Tony Macaroni restaurant, in Aberdeen three weeks ago. In the pipeline are further Tony Macaroni restaurants in Cumbernauld, Glenrothes, Fort Kinnaird in Edinburgh, and in Northern Ireland. An outlet in Belfast will be used as the “showroom” for rolling out a Tony Macaroni franchise, allowing individual operators to open their own restaurants under the brand around the UK. An outlet in Bangor, Northern Ireland, will be the first franchise to open, although the Belfast outlet will be directly managed. Northern Ireland and England will the target areas for the expansion of the franchise offer, which will be officially launched in January. As many as 20 franchise outlets could open in 2019. Marini said he was also looking to expand his portfolio of directly managed Tony Macaroni outlets, with Perth, Inverness and Ayrshire in his sights, as well as a second outlet in Aberdeen, reports the Evening Times.

Property firm appoints Danny Fox as managing director of new restaurant division as it prepares to roll out F&B concepts: North west-based property company Select Property Group has appointed Living Ventures co-founder Danny Fox as managing director of its new restaurant division. The appointment comes as the company prepares to roll out a string of new food and beverage concepts in its Vita Student and residential properties across the UK. Fox will create and roll out food and drink concepts that will sit internally and externally to the group’s properties ranging from bars, restaurants and coffee shops. The move started with School For Scandal, which officially opened last week at the former site of The Laundrette in Manchester, with a second site to launch in Leeds in 2019. Fox will also oversee new coffee shop concept Vita & Co, which will open in Edinburgh in October before being rolled out to Manchester and Leeds in 2019. Select Property Group is also developing Circle Square at the former BBC site in Manchester, which will house more than 20,000 square feet of restaurant concepts. Select Property Group chief executive Mark Stott said: “It makes perfect sense for us to create exciting new food and beverage concepts in our residential and student dwellings across the UK. This is the next phase in our business development plan and we’re delighted to have Danny on board to develop new concepts to suit the rapid expansion plans we have in place.” Fox added: “This is a great platform to be creative and different. We already have several new concepts planned for this year and look forward to seeing them open and thriving.” Select Property Group offers property investment opportunities in Dubai, UAE, the Middle East and the UK. Fox founded Living Ventures with Jeremy Roberts and the late Tim Bacon. He helped grow the Living Room bar chain before selling it to Premium Bars and Restaurants. He was also operations director at Individual Restaurant Company, which operates 32 sites nationally.

Leon makes US debut as it launches 60th site: Natural fast food brand Leon has made its US debut by opening a restaurant in Washington DC, the company’s 60th site in total. All dishes at the restaurant in L Street are priced at less than $10, while the venue is powered by 100% wind power and uses compostable packaging where possible. Chief executive and founder John Vincent said: “DC feels like the most special of starts to our US adventure. We have found the people, community and culture of DC very inspiring. We hope we can do our bit to make it easier for Washingtonians to eat and live well.” DC represents the fifth international city for Leon, which opened its first restaurant in London’s Carnaby Street in 2004. Leon is set to make its Irish debut, in Dublin, later this year. In July, the company reported like-for-like sales increased 0.9% for the year to 31 December 2017.

Inn Collection Group acquires first Lake District site and ninth in total: The Inn Collection Group, which is owned by Alchemy Partners, has acquired its ninth site and first in the Lake District. The company has bought the freehold of the 24-bedroom Waterhead Hotel at Coniston Water from the Post Office Fellowship of Remembrance. The deal comes as the group prepares to open a £4m new-build unit in Amble, Northumberland, and follows the completion of a major investment and expansion programme across its sites. Managing director Sean Donkin said: “The Lake District has been a prime focus destination for our company and the addition of this impressive property in such an idyllic location will further enhance our offering to leisure and business customers. We will continue to seek to grow our portfolio with selective acquisitions of units and new development opportunities that fit with The Inn Collection Group’s blueprint of providing quality accommodation, food and beverages in outstanding inn environments.” Alchemy Partners, the former backers of Revolution Bars Group, acquired Inn Collection Group in June. Later that month, OakNorth provided The Inn Collection Group with finance to fund its expansion. The company’s other sites are in Northumberland, County Durham and North Yorkshire.

The Alchemist launches Aether in Liverpool: The Alchemist, which is backed by Palatine Private Equity, has launched new concept Aether in Liverpool. The 1,600 square foot bar has opened in Liverpool ONE focusing on cocktails and live music. Created by Nottingham-based interior design agency Macaulay Sinclair, 40-cover Aether offers 21 cocktails with a focus on the elements. The venue also includes a performance area for artists covering neo-soul, jazz and hip-hop. Additional outside seating for 80 people overlooks Chavasse Park. Managing director Simon Potts said: “It has been brilliant to see an exciting new concept become a reality over the past few months and we are delighted to be launching this amazing idea at Liverpool ONE. We know the area well and think Aether will beautifully complement the exciting line-up of food and drink venues Chavasse Park offers.” Alison Clegg, director of asset management at Liverpool ONE landlord Grosvenor Europe, added: “We are thrilled to announce the opening of Aether, which will further strengthen the evening offer at Liverpool ONE. The teams at The Alchemist and Macaulay Sinclair have created a stunning new bar in an attractive location within the city.” Cushman & Wakefield and Metis Real Estate Advisors acted for Liverpool ONE. Westmark Estates and Harlow Property Consultants both represented Aether on behalf of The Alchemist.

Cheese Bar passes halfway mark in £200,000 crowdfunding campaign to open Covent Garden site: The Cheese Bar has passed the halfway mark in its £200,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to open a restaurant in Covent Garden for its second London site. Mathew Carver, who traded at music festivals as The Cheese Truck, opened the first Cheese Bar in Camden Market in March 2017 after raising £126,000 on Crowdcube. Now he has returned to the platform in a bid to open a site in Covent Garden and is offering 5.41% equity in return for the investment. So far 214 investors have pledged £104,260 with nine days remaining. The ground floor Covent Garden space will be lined with display fridges showcasing maturing cheese. Cheese will be British only including varieties from La Latteria and Gringa Dairy in Peckham, while small plates will include smoked mozzarella sticks with chilli jam alongside larger dishes such as blue cheese raclette with salt beef and crispy leeks. In a nod to The Cheese Truck, the restaurant will also offer cheese toasties. The candlelit basement wine bar will offer cheese boards and charcuterie alongside a 70-bottle wine list to complement the cheese. Carver said: “There is nowhere else in the world with a cheese scene as exciting as the UK’s so we’re looking forward to bringing even more incredible cheese to central London. The response to our first crowdfunding campaign was unbelievable so we’re hoping London’s cheese fans have an appetite for more!”

Welsh resort operator Bluestone reports turnover and profit boost: Welsh resort operator Bluestone has reported increased revenues as well as visitor numbers in a year of steady progress. The company is also planning further developments as it looks to become the UK’s leading short break destination, with the new £7m SkyDome facility receiving planning permission in February. Bluestone Resorts Wales saw turnover increase 11% to £24,258,000 for the year ending 4 January 2018, compared with £21,911,000 the previous year. Profit before tax was also up to £2,821,000 compared with £1,793,000 the year before, according to accounts filed at Companies House. Bluestone Resorts Wales also increased visitor numbers by 6% – the site’s occupancy rate remaining at 96% – with the company adding new lodges. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “The group continues to make steady progress in improving its operational and financial performance despite the uncertain economic conditions. The directors are satisfied with the progress made during 2017 and the outlook for 2018 is also extremely positive. The growth in sales in 2017 was primarily achieved through an increase in lodge rate coupled with a full trading year of the additional lodges. The focus is still on developing the resort and in maintaining momentum to become Britain’s favourite short break destination. This will be achieved through maintaining high standards, providing value for money and a broad appeal predominantly to families looking for a short break in a beautiful rural setting.”

Burger King starts BBH relationship with £20,000 giveaway: Burger King is to give away £20,000 as part of a new campaign – the first created by Bartle Bogle Hegarty (BBH) since being appointed to the account earlier this year. BBH was approached after a change of management at Burger King UK by private equity group Bridgepoint Capital, which acquired the franchise late last year. Burger King UK chief executive Alasdair Murdoch, who features in the campaign, and marketing director Katie Evans joined the business in February. Evans took over from Renato Rossi, who moved to Miami to lead marketing for the brand in North America. Evans was previously marketing director at rival Gourmet Burger Kitchen. Burger King has launched a campaign entitled “the opportunity you haven’t been waiting for”, a nationwide search for the first person to try the new crispy chicken burger. Playing on the apparently poor perception of chicken options in Burger King, the contest will pay the (un)lucky winner £20,000 for trying the product. To enter consumers have to post a video of themselves eating an imaginary crispy chicken burger and review it under the hashtag #20Kfirstbite. On top of the cash prize, the winner will also appear in the first television advert, which will launch on Wednesday, 3 October. Evans told Campaign: “We are delighted to have BBH on board. Its inspiring portfolio of work and experience in our sector gives us real confidence it understands our brand challenge and how we need to engage and resonate to build brand growth in the UK.”

Muffin Break franchisee to open fourth site, in Nottingham: Muffin Break franchisee Matt Jemmerson will open his fourth site, in Nottingham on Thursday (13 September). Jemmerson will launch the 82-seater outlet at the Intu Victoria shopping centre. He said: “We are thrilled to be opening our fourth Muffin Break store. We have been working hard to ensure we offer a diverse menu filled with fresh treats. All our food is made on-site. I hope the people of Nottingham love our new store as much as we do.” Muffin Break marketing manager Michelle Orr added: “We are delighted to be offering something different to the people of Nottingham. Our cafes are locally owned by our franchisees meaning our customers will receive a friendly, local coffee shop experience. Muffin Break has exciting growth plans, with ten more stores set to open within the next year alone.”

Tom Kerridge opens debut London restaurant: Two Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge has launched his debut London restaurant. “British brasserie” Kerridge’s Bar & Grill has opened on the ground floor of the 283-bedroom Corinthia Hotel in Whitehall. Kerridge’s career had focused on pubs in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, where he operates two Michelin-starred The Hand And Flowers, Michelin-starred The Coach, and The Butcher’s Tap, a joint venture with Greene King. The 90-cover Kerridge’s Bar & Grill has its own bar, while a rotisserie is used to roast meat, fish and vegetables in front of diners. Fridges line the wall showcasing meat supplied by The Butcher’s Tap, while the venue also features an 18-cover private dining room with its own open kitchen. Dishes on the menu include Cornish crab vol au vent with avocado, green apple and crab bisque, and brown butter tart with buttermilk ice cream.

Bourgee to open first restaurant under new direction following administration, in Norwich: Steak and lobster restaurant Bourgee is to open a site in Norwich – the first under its new direction having gone into administration earlier this year. The company will launch the Luxe Lounge in the new £3m Timberhill Terrace section of the Castle Mall shopping centre in November. The restaurant will be set across two floors, with a ground floor containing an open kitchen and bar, and tapas-style food offered on the floor above. James Welling, who runs Bourgee with chef Mark Baumann, told the Norwich Evening News: “We have undergone a lot of change in the past year and we see the launch of Bourgee in Timberhill Terrace as a significant moment for the brand. It’s a chance for us to show exactly what Bourgee stands for and deliver our vision as a duo with full effect.” Castle Mall manager Robert Bradley added: “We are pleased to welcome Bourgee as a new brand to Norwich. With Veeno opening in a number of weeks and with Cocina firmly established, the Timberhill Terrace restaurant quarter is beginning to take shape.” The move comes after Bourgee, which was founded in Essex in 2014, was forced to close three of its locations – in Southend, Chelmsford and Bury St Edmunds – after going into administration. On announcing the closure of the sites in April, Welling and Baumann said the company was able to retain its Luxe Lounge in Southend airport and would soon open new venues – of which Norwich is the first.

Andrew Wong to open second London site next month: Michelin-starred chef Andrew Wong will open his second site in the capital next month. Wong will launch Kym’s at Bloomberg Arcade in the City of London on Tuesday, 2 October. The venue will offer Wong’s own take on classic Chinese dishes, while the space will span two floors and seat 120 diners. There will be a standalone circular bar capable of seating 30 and a private dining area for 50 on a mezzanine level. Kym’s was the original name of Wong’s Michelin-starred restaurant A Wong in Victoria when his parents ran it. The menu will feature small plates and sharing platters while Wong plans a “big emphasis” on Chinese ‘roasting’ meat, including poaching and a Chinese Sunday roast menu.

Royal Yacht Britannia Trust to transform former lighthouse ship into £5m floating hotel: The Royal Yacht Britannia Trust, the Edinburgh-based charity behind The Royal Yacht Britannia, has secured support from Santander for redevelopment of former lighthouse ship Fingal into a luxury floating boutique hotel and events venue. The total project cost is £5m, funded by The Royal Yacht Britannia’s trading company, Royal Yacht Enterprises. Britannia is a five-star visitor attraction berthed at Leith in Edinburgh. The ship was launched from the John Brown & Co shipyard in Clydebank in 1953 and for more than 44 years served the Royal Family. All surplus funds generated by the trust go towards the ship’s preservation. It is converting Fingal into a five-star hotel offering corporate hospitality and events. A double-height ballroom will host up to 80 guests. The Royal Yacht Britannia can’t host daytime events because it is required to be open to the public under the trust’s constitution. Chief executive Bob Downie said: “Developing our own hotel has been a long-held ambition, providing organic growth and, while generating an income stream that is not reliant on visitors to Britannia, having our own accommodation on Fingal is also expected to help increase the number of evening events we hold on The Royal Yacht.”

Gourmet Goat helps Enfield become first council on SRA members’ list: Street food trader Gourmet Goat has helped Enfield Council become the first local authority in the country to gain membership to the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA). Gourmet Goat, which sells Mediterranean street food at Borough Market, provided guidance on how to improve sustainability of the food on offer to more than 600 council workers plus NHS Royal Free Foundation trust staff based at the Enfield Civic Centre. The SRA has given the centre’s restaurant a three-star top rating. Gourmet Goat, founded by Enfield residents Nick and Nadia Stokes, brought on board more than 20 new suppliers – almost all of them based within 30 miles of the restaurant. The Stokes launched consultancy Gourmet Goat Sustainable Solutions last year. Nick Stokes said: “It has been a fantastic opportunity to rebuild a restaurant based on sustainable principles and showcase Enfield’s amazing producers.” Enfield Council head of culture Paul Everitt added: “We face many issues around public health, food waste, decline in local business and environmental impact. The best way to tackle these issues is from within the council itself – getting my co-workers eating healthier options, reducing food waste, using local suppliers and reducing one-use packaging.”

The Chipping Forecast to launch second London site, in Soho on Friday: London-based fish and chip brand The Chipping Forecast is to launch its second site in the capital, in Soho on Friday (14 September). The business began as a stall at Soho’s Berwick Street Market, opening its first permanent site in Notting Hill in 2016. Now the business has returned to Soho to start expansion by opening a restaurant in Greek Street at a site formerly occupied by meatballs concept Balls & Company. The Chipping Forecast has Cornish fish delivered daily, which is grilled or fried in beef dripping and panko breadcrumbs or in a Brewdog beer or gluten-free batter. Chips are triple-cooked in beef dripping, Hot Dinners reports. Other dishes on the menu will include Cornish mussels steamed in Punk IPA with garlic and cream, and devilled whitebait.

UK coffee-roasting champion opens Australian-inspired cafe and wine bar in Queen’s Park: Two-time UK coffee-roasting champion Matthew Robley-Siemonsma has opened an Australian-inspired cafe and wine bar in Queen’s Park, north west London. Robley-Siemonsma, who has played instrumental roles at Prufrock Coffee and TAP Coffee, has partnered with oil executive Elliot Milne to launch Milk Beach Café in Lonsdale Road. It offers Australian-inspired brunch dishes alongside Little Bread Pedlar pastries and healthy lunches. Evening menus feature globally inspired sharing plates. All coffee is made from speciality beans, roasted in-house weekly. The wine list is made up of organic wine from independent growers. Milne also has a coffee background having worked in Ethiopia with Technoserve and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help set up the Coffee Initiative Project.

Douglas Jack – Revolution’s acquisition of Deltic could create £35m Ebitda business with good growth opportunities: Peel Hunt leisure analyst Douglas Jack has said a sensible and fair approach to Revolution Bars Group’s acquisition of The Deltic Group could create a circa £35m business with “good growth opportunities”. Issuing a ‘Buy’ note on Revolution Bars Group shares with a target price of 200p, Jack said: “Deltic’s estate of 54 nightclubs and bars includes six freeholds (worth £15m) and generates £14.5m Ebitda post-centrals. Off a stable number of outlets, Deltic has generated 3% average like-for-like sales growth and 47% Ebitda growth since 2014. The company has industry-leading marketing systems and is a leader in the late-night entertainment market. Revolution Bars Group also trades into the late night but typically with three-quarters of revenue occurring before midnight and Revolución de Cuba being a predominantly over-25s brand. Thus to some extent the businesses are complementary, with Revolution Bars Group having food, a stronger pre-booking business, as well as sector-leading cocktails, spirits and masterclasses. Also the overlap on locations is not high. There are likely to be fewer synergies than a year ago due to Revolution Bars Group’s cost-reduction programme, although £4m to £5m could still be possible. As a consequence, there would be more cash to roll out Revolución de Cuba and a stronger combined management team to oversee this and other growth opportunities. We expect both Revolution Bars Group and Deltic had a difficult summer, without which both companies should be growing profitability. Late-night businesses tend to suffer during heatwaves but typically only circa 20% of annual profits are earned between June and August. Both boards are displeased that Revolution Bars Group has been forced to make this statement. This is disruptive for the staff, as it was last year. After last year’s events, the last thing either company needs is for this to be played out yet again in the public arena. As Revolution Bars Group is potentially acquiring Deltic, this transaction could occur without altering Stonegate’s lock up, which expires on 17 October 2018. However, this is early days and Revolution Bars Group shareholders need to be on board. Then the transaction should effectively be an equity merger, with the three main decisions being equity split; management split; and head office location. After last year’s events, this needs to be simple, low cost, and without further leaks.”

Freehold of former Isle of Wight flamingo park brought to market: Offers are being invited for the freehold of a former flamingo park in the Isle of Wight village of Seaview. Agent Savills is brokering the deal on behalf of owner the Adams family, with the site available for the first time in almost 60 years. Located 250 metres from the seafront, the site extends to 16 acres and features 34,000 square feet of vacant buildings and two residential properties. The closest towns are Ryde (four miles away) and Newport (ten). Savills director Adam Bullas said: “This is a rare opportunity to acquire the freehold of a large site with spectacular coastal views in one of the Isle of Wight’s most affluent areas.”

Fentimans to eliminate single-use plastic: Botanical brewer Fentimans is to eliminate single-use and non-recyclable plastic from its core business operations. The company will adopt the guidelines set out by WRAP’s UK Plastics Pact. Fentimans marketing director Andrew Jackson said: “As a manufacturer that swam against the tide of conformity, adopting glass bottles for our drinks when the world turned to PET, we are delighted to announce we are committed to removing single-use plastic from our business. We know this is an issue our customers, consumers and employees are passionate about and we are determined to make a positive difference in supporting innovative alternatives.”

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