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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Fri 2nd Nov 2018 - Update: Oakman Inns, Welcome Break, KFC, beer duty and waste consultation et al
Oakman Inns appoints Butlins managing director as chief operating officer: Oakman Inns and Restaurants has appointed Butlins managing director Dermot King as chief operating officer. King will join Oakman Inns from the Bourne Leisure-owned holiday business in January. Oakman Inns founder and chief executive Peter Borg-Neal said: “Some months ago it became clear to myself and my executive directors (Joseph Evans, chief financial officer; Alex Ford, operations director; and Jill Scatchard, HR director) that we were about to become far busier. We had a clear understanding of the challenges posed by our planned rate of expansion as well as the further opportunities that were presenting themselves and we had secured a solid asset-based investment platform. With that vision and breadth of ambition, we felt the time was right to find someone who had the same level of customer focus as our team and who would understand our community and corporate ethos. We wanted someone who not only spoke our language but brought something fresh to the table. I first met Dermot in November 2015 when he was guest speaker at an industry directors’ dinner. I was incredibly impressed by his clarity of thought, his energy and, of course, his remarkable track record. Once the decision was taken to find a chief operating officer, Dermot was our first choice. We have had long discussions and Dermot has run his critical eye over the business. I am delighted to say he has agreed to join the business in this significant step on our ongoing journey.” Oakman Inns currently operates 21 sites with three more set to open during the next few months.

Welcome Break chief to step down following Applegreen acquisition: Welcome Break chief executive Robbie Bell is to step down at the end of the year following Applegreen’s acquisition of a majority shareholding in the motorway services operator. John Diviney, managing director of petrol forecourt retailer Applegreen’s UK operations, will take over management responsibility for Welcome Break, reporting to the group’s chief operating officer Joe Barrett. Bell will help with the handover of responsibilities to Diviney before leaving the company on 31 December. Applegreen, which has operations in the Republic of Ireland, the UK and the US, said the move would allow the company to “leverage its existing management resources to lead the business” following completion of the deal. Applegreen chief executive Bob Etchingham said: “We are grateful to Robbie for his support during the transaction process. He has been instrumental in providing continuity and stability to the Welcome Break business throughout this period. We wish him well with his future career and acknowledge his progressive leadership and change management abilities.” Bell added: “The Welcome Break team should be proud of the business it has helped build over many years. I look forward to seeing the business achieve further success under an ownership that has years of experience in the sector.” Last month, Welcome Break reported a turnover and profit boost as it continued to develop its restaurant offer. It has been developing new opportunities such as PizzaExpress and self-service, multi-brand customer kiosks, the first in the UK. Welcome Break operates 27 sites in the UK, attracting more than 85 million customers a year and employing almost 5,000 staff.

KFC revamps fries recipe following customer complaints: KFC has changed the recipe for its fries after customers complained they were “terrible”. The company will now sell thicker, rustic fries with the skins left on in all its 900 UK stores. KFC said it changed its recipe after diners hit out at its “rubbish” fries on social media. It has been testing its new rustic chips on the public for more than a year. They apparently proved so popular KFC will now replace its old fries with the thicker-cut version. KFC said making them chunkier meant they stayed hot for longer. In a tweet replying to @upgrade_music, KFC said: “You told us no-one liked our fries so new ones are coming soon.” The chain has been slammed for its chips on social media over the years. Jack Hinchliffe, innovation director at KFC UK and Ireland, said: “We don’t change things on a whim – the Colonel’s original recipe chicken hasn’t changed since he finalised it in 1940. This was different, though. We heard the nation’s outcry. We read the brutal tweets. We had to step up our fries game. Thicker, chunkier, tastier. Job done.”

Pubs Code adjudicator launches consultation on beer duty and waste: The Pubs Code adjudicator (PCA) has launched a statutory consultation designed to provide more clarity on beer and cider duty and waste for pub tenants when they are negotiating their tied rents. It follows a review by adjudicator Paul Newby and deputy adjudicator Fiona Dickie of how pub companies regulated by the code disclose the quantity of alcohol on which duty has been paid and how they calculate the saleable volume of draught products supplied under their tied agreements. These calculations can affect achievable turnover and expected profit margins and are therefore important factors for tenants when considering the fairness of their tied rent. The consultation, which will run until 11 January, sets out proposed guidance in relation to pub companies’ statutory obligations to accurately account when proposing a new tied rent for the duty paid on alcohol that will be supplied under the tenancy and the volume of draught beer and cider that will be saleable after allowing for waste. In particular, the PCA will expect pub companies to account for sediment and operational waste separately. Newby said: “This issue of compliance has been discussed at length with the pub companies and the PCA’s approach will not come as a surprise. Fiona Dickie and I have decided to launch a consultation because these cover complex and technical areas of the Pubs Code and we want to ensure all industry stakeholders have an opportunity to comment on what we are proposing.” Dickie added: “Historically, all pub companies have dealt with waste in different ways. The Pubs Code requires them to give tied tenants a clear explanation of how waste is calculated, and this consultation sets out our proposals for delivering fairness for tenants by ensuring greater consistency and transparency in the way these calculations are set out.” The consultation also sets out proposed guidance on how the PCA will expect pub companies to ensure all their tied tenants have access to training on cellar management and dispensing best practice as well as ongoing cellar management support so they can realise the levels of business on which their rent is based. Business development managers employed by the regulated pub companies should also be trained to understand and explain to tenants how waste has been calculated. The PCA is working towards publishing statutory guidance for the industry in the spring.

Aiden Byrne to step down as chef director of D&D London’s 20 Stories: Restaurant group D&D London has announced Aiden Byrne is to step down as chef director of 20 Stories in Manchester. Byrne joined the company from Living Ventures in January to lead the rooftop restaurant and bar, which opened in Spinningfields in March. D&D London said the venue was enjoying a “highly successful” first year of business and had been “extremely well received” by customers and food commentators. D&D London chief executive Des Gunewardena said: “We are really pleased with what we have created at 20 Stories. It got off to the most incredible start and every day goes from strength to strength. Revenues have been way above our expectations. Aiden has obviously played a significant part in the success of 20 Stories and we would like to thank him for his contribution. We offer him our very best wishes for the future.”

Starbucks shares climb after strong fourth quarter: Shares in Starbucks climbed more than 8% to $63.64 in after-hours trading on Thursday (1 November) after sales accelerated in its domestic market, driving global sales up 11% from a year ago to reach $6.3bn. The US company has previously reported slowing growth in its domestic market following an aggressive expansion that has taken its global coffee shop count to almost 30,000. Chief executive Kevin Johnson said: “We acknowledge 2018 has been a year of change along with some challenges as we sharpened our focus to drive growth at scale.” However, Johnson said the results for the three months to the end of September –the final quarter of its financial year – provided “encouraging evidence our plan is working” . He added: “We ended the year on an upswing.” Like-for-like sales in the three months to the end of September rose 3% from a year ago, and 4% in the Americas, its strongest showing there in five quarters. In the previous quarter, growth in the Americas had been just 1%. Roz Brewer, chief operating officer, highlighted “innovation” in Starbucks’ product lines. She cited cold brew and Instagram-friendly Refreshers, whose colourful flavours include Mango Dragonfruit and Acai Lemonade. Starbucks is also introducing healthier offerings, shaking up its loyalty scheme and bringing in new concepts such as a high-end “Reserve” store to revive growth in the US. The company plans to add a net 2,100 new coffee shops globally over the next financial year, down slightly from the 2,300 for the year just ended. China and the wider Asia Pacific region is expected to account for about half of them. Another 600 will be opened in the Americas and 400 in Europe.

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