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Fri 28th Sep 2018 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Food and drink sector faces £9.3bn tariffs on EU products under no-deal Brexit: The food and drink sector could face additional tariffs totalling £9.3bn per year for products imported from the EU if a Brexit settlement isn’t reached, according to a new report. The Barclays Corporate Banking report projected that in a no-deal Brexit, food retailers and their supply chain would be affected by an average tariff of 27% on food and drink entering from the EU, significantly more than the 3% to 4% levy that would hit non-food products. Additionally, every consignment of goods from the EU would require a customs declaration costing a minimum of £50. The report stated: “Food and drink tariff rates will be higher than those in any other supply chain. All stages within the food supply chain will experience increased costs, with retailers hit disproportionately as processed goods attract higher duties than raw materials and semi-processed goods. Wholesalers will also experience significant cost increases, but to a lesser degree. The products that will be hardest hit are likely to be meat products, sugar, milk powder and cooked or preserved mushrooms.” Last year, the UK imported £48bn of food and drink from the EU, about 40% of the total UK market. Of these imports, 71% entered the UK free of customs duties and other trade costs. While a free trade deal or the “Chequers option” would help the food industry avoid tariffs and related duties, a no-deal Brexit could mean significantly higher costs for retailers and consumers. Barclays Corporate Banking head of retail Ian Gilmartin said: “The food and drink industry is one of the country’s most important sectors, employing millions of people across the UK. A positive agreement on trade is essential if we are to protect UK exporters and avoid significant price rises for UK consumers.”

Industry News:

UK diners nostalgic for return of retro dishes to restaurant menus: UK diners are yearning for the return of simpler, retro dishes to the menu, according to a new survey by restaurant booking platform OpenTable. Jelly and ice cream, bubble and squeak, and quiche are the dishes most missed among meals that have been disappearing from restaurant menus during the past ten years. The top ten list is completed by arctic roll, coq au vin, stroganoff, steak diane, peach melba, chicken kiev and pork medallions. However, although bubble and squeak is nostalgic for some diners, two-thirds of 16 to 24-year-olds admit they have never eaten the dish. In the survey of more than 2,000 diners in the UK, almost one-quarter (23%) voted for gammon, egg and chips to make a comeback, with 27% stating they would be more likely to visit a restaurant if the dish was on the menu. The meal was the most popular retro meal cooked at home (37%) except for Londoners, who voted for chicken kiev (24%). More than one-third of respondents (37%) said Angel Delight was the dish that most reminded them of their childhood.

Crowdcube sees 100 companies raise more than £1m: More than 100 fund-raises have now taken place on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube that have raised in excess of £1m each. Access to capital via Crowdcube has allowed funded companies to develop new products, hire staff and expand into new territories. Mexican brand Chilango, Hackney-based Five Points Brewing Company and Australia-inspired restaurant group Daisy Green Collection are among the companies to have reached the milestone. Crowdcube co-founder Luke Lang told Insider Media: “Having seen the 100th company raise more than £1m on Crowdcube since we started in 2011, the impact equity crowdfunding is having on the investment landscape is clear. These 100 raises, as well as the move to raise the prospectus limit to €8m, demonstrates a change in the nature of equity finance. Businesses beyond the startup stage, such as Revolut, Monzo and Mindful Chef, now recognise the benefits of continuing to allow your customers to become your investors. It all points towards the democratisation of finance.” In 2018 so far, more than £1m has been raised on Crowdcube 19 times.

Lunch reports 9% attendance rise: Food-to-go trade event Lunch saw a 9% rise in people visiting the show this year, with almost 7,000 attendees. The event at Excel showcased the best new products, solutions, insights and innovations of the year. The event was visited by 6,882 attendees, with senior executives from the UK’s coffee shop and food-to-go operators such as Greggs, McDonald’s and Pret A Manger alongside 1,820 independent operators. Lunch group event director Chris Brazier said: “2018 was simply our best yet. We really couldn’t be happier. There was a fantastic buzz across the show floor from the moment doors opened and it was a very busy, valuable and productive two days for everyone involved.” Next year’s show will return to Excel from 19 to 20 September.

Company News:

Hakkasan boss – success down to finding right partners, ‘raising the bar on daylife entertainment’: Nick McCabe, chief executive of UK-based restaurant and nightclub company Hakkasan Group, has said the secret to its worldwide success has been down to finding the right local partners. McCabe added the company was “raising the bar on daylife entertainment” through its Omnia brand. Two Omnia venues have opened this year in Indonesia, with a dayclub and nightclub in Bali and Jakarta respectively, as well as an Omnia dayclub in Los Cabos, Mexico. McCabe told “By collaborating with like-minded local brands we can work together to build multiple venues and create a more comprehensive lifestyle experience. That way we can increase our presence in each market and back the venues with the right infrastructure instead of opening singular venues without the proper support. We also recognise the importance of cultivating relationships with local and rising talent. We dedicate ourselves to recognising new and upcoming trends in the music industry and seeing which styles synergise with a club environment. We have signed many rising acts to play in the US, Cabos and Bali, and we’ve also expanded to engage acts that are more pop and hip-hop. I think the musical diversity ultimately helps attract a broader audience.” While the nightclub in Jakarta is still being built, both dayclub venues are open. “The daylife industry in Vegas has grown explosively without any signs of stopping,” McCabe said. “We want to be the pioneers that consistently raise the bar for daylife entertainment on a global scale. Through a thoughtful curation of concepts, design and technology and the most extraordinary artist line-ups, we can set the new daylife standard internationally with the expansion of Omnia.”

Bistro Qui puts three restaurants on the market: Bistro Qui, the Liverpool-based restaurant company, has put three of its restaurants on the market. Agent Christie & Co has been instructed to sell The Hub Alehouse & Kitchen and The Refinery, Kitchen Bar & Live Music, both in Liverpool city centre, and Bistro Jacques, a French restaurant in Shrewsbury. The Hub Alehouse and Kitchen occupies the ground and lower-ground floors of the Casartelli Building, close to Liverpool ONE and Albert Dock. The 170-cover, 280.5 square metre site is decorated in a gastro-pub style, with timber flooring and full-height windows. The Refinery is a 170-cover, open-plan restaurant and bar in Hope Street that offers British gastro-style dishes and pavement seating for a further 80 diners. Bistro Jacques is in a high-footfall area in the centre of Shrewsbury. The 120-cover, 287 square metre site is split across the ground and first floors. Bistro Qui director Mark Friend said: “The businesses have operated for more than 15 years. We are selling them with a view to pass the business on to a new operator with capacity to grow the three brands nationally. All three brands have proven they can stand the test of time and develop nationally with the right investment.” Tom O’Malley, of Christie & Co, added: “Whether viewed as a portfolio acquisition or as individual sites, these prime city centre leaseholds present potential purchasers with an unparalleled opportunity to acquire popular, well trading restaurant businesses as a going concern with full management structures in place.” Christie & Co is seeking £750,000 for the leasehold of The Hub, £295,000 for the leasehold of The Refinery, and £195,000 for the leasehold of Bistro Jacques. Bistro Qui’s other sites include Chicha, Bistro Pierre and Button Street Smokehouse, all in Liverpool.

Ei Group sees 48% increase in pub visits and 241% rise in voucher redemptions during National Pub Fortnight: Ei Publican Partnerships, the leased and tenanted division of Ei Group, saw a 48% year-on-year increase in pub visits and a 241% rise in voucher redemptions during this year’s National Pub Fortnight. The figures follow a campaign by agency Big Brand Ideas that focused on highlighting the role the local pub plays in the community while giving away 50,000 free drinks during the two-week initiative. The app had a 201% increase in sign-ups from 2017, with almost one-third of those converted to redemptions. The campaign received more than 15.5 million views and more than 4,000 direct visits to the campaign’s websites. A survey by Big Brand Ideas also found people value the pub as their third most important local amenity, after the local shop and doctor’s surgery. Ei Group head of corporate communication Jon Dale said: “Big Brand Ideas must be congratulated in speedily getting to the core of the challenge ahead and swiftly turning the objectives into a well-orchestrated consumer interest campaign that was fun, newsworthy, timely and most importantly effective. Not only did it get the media talking in a creative and engaging way, it contributed to a significant positive shift in drink sign-ups, voucher redemptions and pubs visited.” Anna Thomas, PR director at Big Brand Ideas, added: “We saw significant increases in footfall to Ei Group’s pubs during the initiative and the conversion rate surpassed all our expectations.”

Inception Group to launch Mrs Fogg’s concept featuring gin distillery for first City site: Bar and nightclub operator Inception Group is to launch a “female version” of its Mr Fogg’s concept, in Broadgate this winter. Mrs Fogg’s will be the group’s first City of London site and will feature its own gin distillery, with customers able to distil their own gin to take away. Inspired by Aouda, explorer Phileas Fogg’s wife in Jules Verne’s novel Around The World In 80 Days, Mrs Fogg’s will offer cocktails and dishes with a nod to nautical travels. The venue in Broadgate Circle will span two floors and take customers on a “journey” aboard the Rangoon Steamer. On the ground floor, Mrs Fogg’s Maritime Club will offer a large central bar offering spiced cocktails alongside wooden fans and nautical antiques. The downstairs space will house the engine room with a custom-designed rickshaw and the gin distillery, which will host regular masterclasses. Staff will wear naval uniforms, while the venue will offer India-inspired small plates presented in tiffin boxes. There will also be Tiffin Tea on Saturday afternoons and a large terrace with canvas umbrellas and exotic plants. Charlie Gilkes, who founded Inception Group with Duncan Stirling, said: “We are delighted Mr Fogg has found his perfect partner and look forward to introducing Mrs Fogg to Londoners soon.” Inception Group operates five Mr Fogg’s sites in London. Other venues in the estate include 1940s-inspired bar Cahoots, Chelsea speakeasy Barts and 1980s-themed nightspot Maggie’s.

Mayfair-based Mexican restaurant Peyote went into administration after investors refused to plough in further funds following years of losses: Mayfair-based Mexican restaurant Peyote went into administration after investors refused to plough in further funds following almost five consecutive years of losses, a new report has revealed. Restaurateur Arjun Waney and businessman Tarun Mahroti launched Peyote in Cork Street in November 2013. It was “born out of a desire to offer a unique and refined modern interpretation of traditional Mexican food”. A statement of proposal by administrators Paul Appleton and Paul Cooper, of David Rubin & Partners, showed the restaurant had an annual rent of £102,500, payable quarterly. The report stated: “Trading proved steady if unspectacular. Notwithstanding this, the directors were convinced that with the correct marketing aimed at the right clientele, the restaurant would thrive. Unfortunately, the undertaking was unable to deliver the expected returns and the company recorded losses during the following years. Throughout these difficult trading years the company maintained its financial support from its investors. However, during the early summer of 2018 it became apparent no further investment would be forthcoming and the company’s cash flow position deteriorated. As a result, the company’s liabilities to its creditors increased and in June the local council commenced proceedings for recovery of its outstanding debt, which the company was unable to discharge.” Extracts from the accounts showed for the period ended 25 December 2016, the company had turnover of £2,431,52 with a loss of £147,989. Retained losses were £2,939,522. The administrators said there had been a “considerable level of interest” for the lease but the marketing and sales process was continuing. The report showed the company had no secured creditors. Preferential claims are expected from employees over unpaid wages and accrued holiday pay. The administrators said that following a sale of the company’s assets they expect a full payment to be made. Unsecured creditors’ claims are still being received and, while the administrators said it was too early to provide a “meaningful estimate at this stage”, they expect it is likely a dividend will be paid.

JD Wetherspoon finance director receives 11.4% pay rise to reflect ‘increased seniority and contribution’: JD Wetherspoon finance director Ben Whitley has been given an 11.4% pay rise to reflect his “increased seniority and contribution”, the company’s annual report has revealed. Whitley has seen his salary increase from £192,000 for the year ended 29 July 2018, while his total remuneration was down to £469,000 compared with £491,000 the previous year. As well as his salary, Whitley received £16,000 in taxable benefits, £28,000 performance bonus, £210,000 in long-term incentives and £23,000 pension contribution. Chief executive John Hutson, who received a 2% pay rise, saw his total remuneration fall to £1,490,000, compared with £1,698,000 the year before. That consisted of £603,000 salary, £20,000 in taxable benefits, £87,000 performance bonus, £696,000 in long-term incentives and £84,000 pension contribution. Personnel and legal director Su Cacioppo, who has also been given a 2% increase in salary, earned £841,000, compared with £960,000 the year before. That consisted of £338,000 salary, £16,000 in taxable benefits, £49,000 performance bonus, £391,000 in long-term incentives and £47,000 pension contribution. Chairman Tim Martin was paid a total of £342,000 compared with £341,000 the previous year. Remuneration committee chairman Debra van Gene said: “The salaries of the chief executive and the personnel and legal director have been increased by 2.0%. The salary of the finance director has been increased by 11.4% in view of his increased seniority and contribution. Under the agreed annual cash bonus plan executive directors will receive an award of 14.5% of basic salary, comprising 5% of basic salary under the quality-and-standards element and 9.5% under the profit element. Under the agreed company share incentive plan, executive directors will receive an amount equivalent to 25% of their salary in shares. The chief executive and the personnel and legal director will receive an additional award equivalent to 5% of their salary because of their length of service. Under the agreed deferred bonus scheme, executive directors will receive 85.8% of their basic salary in shares.” Meanwhile, analysts at Barclays have upgraded their forecast on Wetherspoon after lauding its “strong culture of innovation”, particularly its order-and-pay app and, more recently, its roll-out of pizza across its 900 pubs. They said: “Achieving similar levels of like-for-like sales growth going forward (4.4% average since FY13) will be challenging but the company-driven initiatives are encouraging.” Barclays retained its long-held ‘Overweight’ rating on the shares as it upped its price target to 1,450p.

McDonald’s stops putting artificial ingredients in classic burgers: McDonald’s has stopped putting artificial ingredients in its classic burgers – the core of its menu. Ingredients including calcium propionate and sodium benzoate found in buns, cheese and sauce of burgers such as the Big Mac and Quarter Pounder with Cheese have been removed from US restaurants. As a result, McDonald’s said almost two-thirds of its burgers and sandwiches contained no artificial preservatives, flavours or added colours from artificial sources. The move comes after McDonald’s started making Quarter Pounders with fresh beef as it attempted to make its burgers appear more healthy and reverse a sales slump in the US. McDonald’s US president Chris Kempczinski told Nation’s Restaurant News: “From switching to 100% fresh beef in our quarter-pound burgers, cooked right when ordered, to removing artificial preservatives in our chicken McNuggets and committing to cage-free eggs by 2025, we have made significant strides in evolving the quality of our food. We know quality choices are important to our customers and this latest positive change to our classic burgers demonstrates our committed journey to leading with the customer and building a better McDonald’s.”

Abokado gets five-star hygiene rating across estate: Healthy eating chain Abokado, which is backed by Kings Park Capital, has received five-star ratings by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) at each of its 23 sites across London. The ratings, graded from zero to five, are determined by local authority food safety officers, with a rating of five showing the business has the highest possible food hygiene standards. Abokado operations director Kara Alderin said: “Food hygiene is of the utmost importance to Abokado and, of course, to our customers. To have a full house of five stars is a great accolade in what is a technical business with a complex hazard analysis and critical control points system. It’s all down to the dedication of our teams, and precise guidance and support through VG Technical.” Dr Vesna Greaves, Abokado’s food safety consultant from VG Technical, added: “Our company works with many other clients in the food industry and for a business to receive a five-star rating across the board is almost unheard of. It requires an enormous amount of work and education across the company. With Abokado, a sushi and sashimi-based business, we take an innovative approach to food safety and technology, working in partnership with our primary authority, London Borough of Newham.”

Mercato Metropolitano to launch Mayfair market for second site: Italian street food market Mercato Metropolitano is to launch in Mayfair for its second London site. It will be housed in grade I-listed former church St Mark’s, which recently underwent a £5m restoration by landlord Grosvenor Britain & Ireland. The site in North Audley Street will open in the “next six months” subject to planning approval and offer community activities with a focus on food education, awareness and social responsibility. Once fully open, Mercato Mayfair will offer about 16,000 square feet of retail, dining and community space across four floors. It will feature international cuisine counters, a restaurant, deli, cheese and wine stores, a coffee and gelato bar, patisserie, cocktail bar and brewery. There will also be a rooftop terrace and outdoor bar. Mercato Metropolitano focuses on artisan and local producers and raises awareness of sustainability through its urban farm, cookery lessons, and cultural films, exhibitions and events. Founder Andrea Rasca said: “Our first site in Elephant and Castle is proof the social community has embraced our concept of good, natural and sustainable food.” The launch will see St Mark’s open to the public after decades of private use. Grosvenor Britain & Ireland chief executive Craig McWilliam said: “North Mayfair is becoming more open and our partnership with Mercato Metropolitano is a vote of confidence in that change.” Colliers International and CBRE acted on behalf of Grosvenor. In January, Mercato Metropolitano raised more than £450,000 on crowdfunding platform Seedrs to open further sites in London.

SSP wins contract to open ten units at Las Palmas de Gran Canaria airport: SSP Group, the operator of food and beverage outlets in travel locations worldwide, has won an eight-year contract to open ten units at Las Palmas de Gran Canaria airport. The contract, which is valued at €17m (£15m) a year, will see the arrival of a number of local and international brands including Starbucks, Soho Coffee Co, Burger King, O’Learys Bar & Restaurant and Spanish charcuterie specialist Enrique Tomás. SSP will take over existing sites as well as open new units. Enrique Tomás and O’Learys Bar & Restaurant will be located in the food court area. There will be two Soho Coffee Co units, one in the north check-in area and the other in the south pier. These are set to open later this year and into 2019. Two Burger King units – in the south and north piers – and Starbucks, located airside near the boarding gates, are already trading. SSP Spain director general Blanca Ripoll said: “This new contract win reaffirms SSP’s position as a leading restaurant operator in the travel market in the Canary Islands with a presence in Tenerife, Lanzarote and Las Palmas. The hospitality industry is currently very buoyant in Spain. Branded restaurant chains are, in particular, strong generators of wealth and employment in the country.”

BrewDog extends Crowdcube campaign to coincide with Equity for Punks V closure: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has extended its fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to coincide with closing its Equity for Punks V campaign. BrewDog returned to Crowdcube earlier this month as it looked to tap into its investors. BrewDog was aiming to raise a minimum of £22m through Equity for Punks V – and was offering 1.21% equity on Crowdcube in return for investment. So far BrewDog has raised £22,612,470 in total – almost £600,000 of which has come from Crowdcube investors. BrewDog stated: “We have been live with Equity for Punks V on Crowdcube for 27 days and we’ve been completely blown away by the support we’ve gathered, raising more than £580,000 from more than 1,100 investors! As Equity for Punks V is open for investment until 15 October on our platform, we’ve decided to offer the Crowdcube community the same chance to get involved! We’re extending our raise on Crowdcube for another 15 days, giving as many people as possible the opportunity to own a part of our brewery. Investment raised in Equity for Punks V will fuel our growth ambitions, from opening a third brewery in Australia to opening more bars around the planet and powering the global craft beer market by making other people as passionate about great craft beer as we are.” Meanwhile, BrewDog has distanced itself from a collaboration with US brewer Scofflaw Brewing Co after the Atlanta-based company offered free beer to Donald Trump supporters at Brewdog bars in Shoreditch, Soho, Shepherd’s Bush, Tower Hill, Manchester and Leeds. BrewDog tweeted: “The Scofflaw release was announced without our knowledge or consent. We are in no way aligned with their position and we will, of course, be cancelling all the events and sending all the beer back. We care about beer and people. Not hate.”

London-based bar operators to launch late-night concept Heads + Tails in West Hampstead next month: London-based bar operators Will Partridge and Chris Dennis are to launch late-night cocktail concept Heads + Tails in West Hampstead next month. The venue in West End Lane, formerly occupied by nightspot Lately, will offer two contrasting spaces. Heads will be a bright, airy bar serving light cocktails, gin, wine and aperitivo, while basement bar Tails will specialise in whiskey and rum. Heads will feature a marble-topped bar and full-length windows to the front and rear, while Tails will offer comfortable seating and a solid wood bar. Both venues will offer bar snacks and have their own outdoor areas, with the whole venue available for private hire. Partridge launched bars Wax Jambu and Kilburn Ironworks in the capital, while Dennis is behind Sovereign Loss and Disrepute. Both have collaborated on menu and cocktail design and consultancy roles.

Flat Iron to open King’s Cross restaurant next week for sixth London site: Flat Iron, the “single steak” dining concept backed by private equity firm Piper, is to open its sixth London site, in King’s Cross next Thursday (4 October). The venue will open in Caledonian Road at a site formerly occupied by modern British concept TED Restaurant. Founded by self-taught butcher Charlie Carroll and originally conceived as a pop-up in 2012, Flat Iron has built a cult following for its steak and beef dripping chips. The King’s Cross site will feature a new side dish, wagyu fries, while made-to-order ice cream will be available from a dedicated ice cream station at the heart of the restaurant. Meanwhile, the bar will offer craft beer and cocktails. Flat Iron’s new finance director, Stuart McNamara, is also set to start in his role in October. McNamara was formerly finance director at French brasserie Cote, where he oversaw site expansion from 53 to 99 sites during his four years at the company. In its latest accounts, the company’s turnover increased 55.1% to £11,715,100 for the year ending 27 August 2017, compared with £7,555,480 the year before. Adjusted Ebitda rose to £1,352,083, compared with £859,045 the previous year. Pre-tax profit was £456,110 compared with £233,448 the year before, according to accounts filed at Companies House. Flat Iron operates two sites in Soho with others in Shoreditch, Covent Garden and Portobello.

North east-based hotel group turns Sedgefield pub into £1.5m restaurant with rooms: North east-based hotel group Ramside Estates has turned a Sedgefield pub into an upmarket restaurant with ten rooms. The Hope Inn has undergone a £1.5m refurbishment to become The Impeccable Pig, which also features a brasserie, bar and beer garden. The 125-cover restaurant includes an 18-seater private dining room and a smart bar offering more casual options. Chris Finnigan, who trained at Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons, has created a menu featuring bistro-style dishes, 28 day-aged steak, sharing platters, pizza, sandwiches, daily specials and a “piglets” menu for children. The drinks list includes more than 170 wines, French beer and cider, local real ale, 20 gins and more than 25 whiskies. The bedrooms, which are due to open in mid-October, span two levels. General manager Pierre Bertolotti said: “We believe The Impeccable Pig will fast become the go-to place for the whole area and everyone will be impressed by not only the look of the pub and restaurant but also the fantastic food we offer.” Ramside Estates also owns Ramside Hall Hotel, Hardwick Hall Hotel and Bowburn Hall Hotel, all in County Durham.

Incipio Group opens Pergola Olympia rooftop space: Incipio Group has launched a new site for its Pergola brand, on the rooftop of London Olympia. The space features three main restaurants – better burger brand Patty & Bun, Italian eatery Passo and seafood concept Claw. A separate cocktail bar offers bespoke drinks, while the venue has capacity for 500 people, with booths bookable in advance. Floor-to-ceiling glass walls allow views across Kensington and protection from the elements. The Pergola website states: “We are back for good with a new rooftop location in an incredible new venue. We’ve taken inspiration from our flagship concept Pergola On The Roof and combined a new botanical look and feel, mixing overgrown ivy and botanical planters with a modern interior of exposed brickwork and rustic furniture. We have seating for 500 diners, nine giant day beds, three self-service restaurants, one bar, floor-to-ceiling glass walls, heating for those winter months and one fully protecting roof.” Incipio Group launched pop-up Pergola On The Roof in White City in 2016 followed by 850-capacity Pergola Paddington, which reopened earlier this year. The company also operates 800-capacity pub The Prince in West Brompton Crossing and Feast Bar And Kitchen in White City Place.

Bradford leisure park sells for £18m: A Bradford leisure park that is home to a 13-screen multiplex cinema and gym has been sold in an £18m deal. Urban & Civic has completed the sale of Gallagher Leisure Park in a deal that represents a purchaser’s yield of 6.2%. Gallagher Leisure Park is currently occupied by a 13-screen Odeon cinema and a Pure Gym site. Construction is currently ongoing on Whitbread-owned Costa Coffee and KFC drive-thru outlets, while there are plans for two additional restaurants. The sale is expected to give rise to a profit over 30 September 2017 book value of more than £1m for Urban & Civic. The company plans to reinvest the proceeds in its strategic portfolio, reports Insider Media.

Sager + Wilde to launch canteen, bar and restaurant concept in Old Street in November: Marcis Dzelzainis and Michael Sager, of London-based bar restaurant group Sager + Wilde, are to launch a canteen, bar and restaurant concept in Old Street, east London. Fare Bar And Canteen will open in the Morelands Building in November offering a coffee area, cocktail and wine bar, and restaurant spread over two floors. Cocktails at the ground-floor bar and canteen will include a Nitro Vodka Espresso, which “pours like Guinness”, while the venue will create its own tonic water that will be “lighter in taste and lower in sugar than traditional tonics”, Hot Dinners reports. The kitchen will be headed by former Ellory chef Thomas Raymond, who will create a menu inspired by his British roots and travels around the Mediterranean. Dishes are likely to include vegetable-based small plates, grilled skewers and larger sharing dishes. In June, Dzelzainis and Sager took over the Bassoon Bar at the Corinthia Hotel in Whitehall, while their company also operates restaurant Paradise Row and wine bar Hackney Road, both named after the streets they are located in. 

Douglas Jack – M&B appears to have resumed its sales outperformance of the sector after tough summer: Peel Hunt leisure analyst Douglas Jack has said Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) appears to have resumed its outperformance of the sector after a tough summer. Issuing a ‘Buy’ note on the shares with a target price of 325p, Jack said: “A total of 73% of M&B’s estate is food-led, according to CGA. If we rebalance the Coffer Peach Business Tracker (CPBT) to reflect M&B’s market positioning to better reflect underlying performance, it appears the company has resumed its outperformance of the managed sector after a tough summer for food-led operators. (Our slight reticence is the CPBT has reported August but not September). The drivers behind the company’s like-for-like sales include Ignite 2, which consists of 43 different work streams (improving product, service and digital marketing as well as reducing costs), investing in the estate (now on a six to seven-year cycle) and improving the company’s market positioning. There is no change in cost guidance. M&B still expects its costs to grow by circa £60m; it previously indicated £26m of this should be offset by cost savings. We believe there are two factors behind Ebit margins growing in the second half – a higher ratio of drink sales and the benefits of Ignite 2 starting to come through, although these benefits should be much greater from the first half of 2019E. The company opened seven new sites and completed 232 conversions and remodels, representing just two new sites and four conversions over the past two months. More than 80% of M&B’s estate is freehold or long leasehold and 52% of its sales are generated in southern England, yet its EV/Ebitda rating is 6.9 times without a pension deficit that might not exist if base rates rise to 1.5%. Stronger like-for-like sales are the catalyst to re-rate the shares, for which the right things are being done, and the trend is moving in the right direction.”

All Star Lanes to launch new food menu next week: Bowling alley business All Star Lanes will launch its new food menu on Wednesday (3 October). New dishes will include a vegan spicy sweet potato burger, salmon and prawn jambalaya, and beef brisket bonbons. There will also be an improved selection of burgers, steaks and ribs, including a prime rib on the bone for four to share. Having launched its first venue in Holborn in 2006, All Star Lanes now operates four London sites and one in Manchester.

McCain introduces new potato products as premiumisation trend continues to grow: Supplier McCain has introduced two new products for operators as the trend for premiumisation continues to grow. McCain has launched crispers and sweet potato rustics after discovering an appetite for operators to serve new styles of potato, particularly as an “upgrade option”. In the past year, McCain said it had seen skin-on sales surge 65%, while reports show a 36% increase in the number of operators that offer sweet potato since 2013. McCain marketing and category controller Jo Holborn said: “We are excited to be launching crispers and sweet potato rustics for the hospitality industry. Following research with operators and consumers, it was clear there was a demand for products that not only stand out on the menu but also give customers that wow factor.”

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