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Tue 18th Dec 2018 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Business leader optimism under pressure across eating and drinking-out sector: Business confidence among leaders of Britain’s eating and drinking-out market remains strained, according to the latest edition of the CGA Business Confidence Survey, produced in partnership with Fourth. Although more than three-fifths (63%) are optimistic about their own business’ prospects for the next 12 months, this is a fall from 69% recorded in the last poll in July. Less than two-fifths (39%) are upbeat about the market as a whole during the same period, although this is a rise from 36% in July following a temporary jump to 47% in May. Almost two-fifths (38%) of leaders said their performance during the past six months had been ahead of expectations – a rise of nine percentage points from three months earlier. A similar number (39%) said they had traded in line with expectations, with less than one-quarter (23%) trading below expectations. However, pessimism surrounds footfall in 2019 with half (50%) of leaders predicting a decrease in the frequency of consumers eating and drinking out, and only one in 20 (5%) expecting a rise. The downbeat assessment comes amid growing concerns over the impact of Brexit on consumer confidence. More than two-thirds (69%) of wet-led companies feel optimistic about prospects for their business – compared with 63% of food-led businesses – following a strong period of trading for pubs compared with restaurants. The survey also revealed consumers’ two most important priorities in 2019 will be service and experience, ahead of food quality and value for money. More than half (55%) of operators said healthy options had increased in importance, while 50% said sustainability was a growing priority. CGA group chief executive Phil Tate said: “Our survey reflects a complex and mixed picture in the market at the moment. Many businesses continue to find conditions extremely challenging and confidence clearly remains fragile as the year ends. Christmas trading will have an enormous impact on levels of optimism as we enter 2019. Many wet-led pubs are clearly buoyant at the moment, riding high on the hot summer and World Cup and anticipating a strong festive period. However our survey shows, like all operators, they will need to stay resolutely focused on the consumer next year – supplying not just good food and drink but embracing key trends and delivering the high-quality, all-round experiences guests now demand.” Fourth chief executive Ben Hood said: “Despite the lingering uncertainty of Brexit, the results show the confidence of hospitality operators remains steady as they prepare for the year ahead.” UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “A dip in business confidence is not surprising given the instability UK businesses are facing. It is not likely to return any time soon if businesses continue to be left in the dark about their futures. We need a resolution to the mess of Brexit as soon as possible in order to give businesses a chance to plan and deal with the consequences.”

Industry News:

Restaurant Marketer & Innovator – one month to go, speakers for day two: There is one month to go until the Restaurant Marketer & Innovator European Summit, which is returning for its second year. The two-day event, a partnership between Propel and Think Hospitality, will feature more than 40 speakers with a unique blend of senior marketers, business leaders and entrepreneurs. Day two will feature Wagamama UK marketing director Andre Johnstone; YO! Sushi marketing director Luisa Fernandez; Tim Foster, head of being awesome at Yummy Pubs; Just Eat UK marketing director Ben Carter; Martin Morales, chief executive and founder of Ceviche Family; Celia Pronto, chief customer officer at Casual Dining Group;  WE ARE Spectacular chief executive Mark McCulloch; The Stable operations director David Gough; TGI Friday’s UK chief marketing officer Steve Flanagan; Australian entrepreneur Sarah Holloway, who co-founded Matcha Mylkbar; and Lynne Parker, chief executive and founder of Funny Women. WiseTiger managing director Andy Shaw will interview Google industry manager Ailish O'Brien while Zonal chief operating officer Peter Edwards will talk to Novus head of marketing Michelle Farrell, Wadworth retail and digital marketing manager Mark Daniels, and Gusto marketing director James Newman about digital developments and how hospitality businesses can better leverage digital marketing. Wireless Social chief executive Julian Ross and Stephanie Lloyd, head of marketing at The New World Trading Company, will reveal the results of tests that used technology to track customers’ real-life actions in an exclusive report for Restaurant Marketer & Innovator. Meanwhile, Elliotts Agency chief executive Ann Elliott will talk to Abokado operations director Kara Alderin; Seafood Pub Company managing director Joycelyn Neve; and Arc Inspirations chief executive Martin Wolstencroft about what they look for from a marketing team and how to create a great link between the functions. Tickets for the two-day conference, which will take place on 16 and 17 January at One Moorgate Place, London, cost £575 for operators and £845 for suppliers. Group ticket packages are available when purchasing three tickets or more. Tickets can be purchased by emailing Anne Steele, of Propel, at anne.steele@propelinfo.com

UKHospitality calls for clear guidance over new workers’ rights: UKHospitality has challenged the government to issue “clear and transparent guidance” regarding new workers’ rights. The government’s wide range of measures include a further response to the Taylor Review, a response to the Director of Labour Market Enforcement’s annual report, a consultation on National Minimum Wage regulations and recommendations by the Low Pay Commission (LPC) on flexibility of working. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “These measures strike a balance between protecting workers’ rights and ensuring the highly-valued flexibility that exists in the UK. As ever, we need to see clear and unambiguous guidance from the government to support businesses and ensure there are no accidental breaches to any new measures. The government must also recognise new measures will increase bureaucracy for businesses. Moves to amend the National Minimum Wage regulations will do much to avoid accidental breaches and help employers supporting their employees through salary-sacrifice schemes. We are also pleased to see our recommendations to the LPC have been heeded and a supplementary wage for non-contracted hours has not been taken forward. The government’s package contains some pragmatic measures but we are still concerned about plans to tackle ‘one-sided flexibility’ in the workplace. It is vital guidance is clear so it doesn’t undermine employer-employee relations regarding flexible working.” Nicholls added that the government’s apparent post-Brexit plans requiring future EU migrants to earn a minimum salary of £30,000 to work in the UK would have a “devastating” effect on the sector, while government support was required to avoid further restaurant closures following a report by accountancy firm Moore Stephens, which revealed 1,219 venues closed in 2017-18, up from 985 the previous year.

Deliveroo devises solution for restaurant partners to make pizza boxes more recyclable: Deliveroo has devised a solution for its restaurant partners to make pizza boxes more recyclable. Grease-stained pizza boxes can contaminate an entire recycling chain and Deliveroo is offering 100,000 biodegradable greaseproof paper inserts to pizza partners as part of a trial to help keep boxes recyclable. Restaurant partners can request the free inserts, which prevent grease getting into the base of the pizza box, while all Deliveroo Editions pizza partners will use them. Deliveroo UK and Ireland managing director Dan Warne said: “Many people are surprised to find the food from their pizza can hinder their ability to recycle the box after they have eaten. We hope by working with our partners to make this small change we can inform consumers and save their pizza boxes from landfill.” Anne Main, chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Prevention of Plastic Waste, added: “Proactive steps such as this will help reduce the number of pizza boxes that would have been recycled from being put into general waste. I hope all pizza restaurants on the Deliveroo platform use the greaseproof paper and that we see a real change in our recycling habits across the country.”

Company News:

M&B executive directors to receive first salary increase since 2015: Mitchells & Butlers executive directors are to receive their first salary increase since 2015, the company’s annual report has revealed. Chief executive Phil Urban’s salary will rise 2% from £509,000 to £520,000 from 1 January – the first increase since he was appointed in September 2015. Finance director Tim Jones will also see his salary go up 2% – from £425,000 to £435,000 – his first rise since January 2015. Remuneration committee chairman Imelda Walsh said in her report: “These increases are broadly in line with those applicable to other salaried employees in the group and follow an extended period during which executive directors’ salaries have not been increased.” The report showed the two executives were awarded bonus payments equivalent to 39.3% of annual salary. The annual bonus was based on four elements – 70% on operating profit and 30% on non-financial measures – guest health, employee engagement and food safety. The operating profit target was £308m with the company achieving £303m, 99% of the target, resulting in a bonus of 28%. A new method was used to measure the guest health category this year, using the company’s net promoter score, social media review score and guest complaints. The net promoter score was 62.1%, which was above the 61% target. The social media review score was set at 4.0% with the actual score just short, at 3.93%. The guest complaint metric measured the proportion of complaints received for every 1,000 meals served. The target for this measure was set at 0.67, with the overall outcome of 0.70 an improvement on the prior year but just missed the required level of performance. Walsh said: “Despite good progress being made across all three elements of the guest health measure, no bonus was payable.” A record employee engagement score of 78.9 resulted in a 6.3% bonus, while the full 5% was paid out for the food safety metric, with 98% of M&B businesses receiving a four or five-star hygiene rating – above the required 96.9%. Urban’s total remuneration increased to £819,000 for the year ending 29 September 2018, compared with £770,000 the previous year. This consisted of £509,000 salary, £16,000 taxable benefits, £200,000 of short-term incentives, £89,000 of pension-related benefits and £5,000 of other benefits. Meanwhile, Jones’ remuneration increased to £688,000 compared with £648,000 the previous year. This was made up of £425,000 salary, £16,000 in taxable benefits, £167,000 in short-term incentives, £75,000 in pension-related benefits and £5,000 of other benefits.

Hydes ‘well placed’ to capitalise on opportunities but ‘another challenging year’ ahead: North west brewer and retailer Hydes has said it is well placed to capitalise on opportunities but warned of another challenging year ahead. The company reported turnover declined 0.2% to £31,045,662 for the year ending 1 April 2018, compared with £31,107,432 the previous year. Managed house turnover increased to £28.1m, compared with £27.9m the year before. Like-for-like sales in the division were “broadly flat”. Three pubs were transferred from the tenanted to the managed estate during the year. Like-for-like tenanted profit was up 4.1% after falling 5.0% the previous year, in part due to the low number of new tenants recruited during the year. Pre-tax profit fell to £2,440,124 compared with £3,404,940 the year before, according to accounts filed at Companies House. Hydes disposed of the 256 in Fallowfield, in the current financial year, and the Highgrove in Heald Green and the Ryecroft, Cheadle Hulme, in the prior financial year. This accounted for £600,000 of sales decline. The company announced an increase in the dividend from £1.43 per share last year to £1.58. In his report accompanying the accounts, chairman Peter Johnson stated: “Constraints on customer spending was exacerbated by the so-called Beast From The East, which brought icy winds and heavy snow in March, which particularly hit our food-led destination sites. Like-for-like turnover in our managed houses was 5.2% lower in that month compared with March 2017 and that decline had the impact of leaving sales for the financial year broadly flat. There were no acquisitions in the year but we spent £1.8m on refurbishing our sites including a substantial upgrade at the Stamford Bridge in Tarvin towards the end of the financial year. While 2019 looks to be another challenging year, the company, with its strong balance sheet, sustainable dividend and high-quality estate, is well placed to capitalise on the opportunities as well as manage any risks that may arise and deliver value to shareholders.” The company owns 36 managed and 17 tenanted pubs in the north west of England and North Wales. Hydes’ defined benefit pension scheme liability decreased from £4.6m to £4.2m. The company plans to make annual contributions of £500,000 plus any payments relating to scheme expenses for the next ten years. In September 2015, the company’s bank facilities were renegotiated and increased with the Royal Bank of Scotland. These comprise a bank overdraft of £1m, a five-year amortising loan of £5m, and a revolving credit facility of £13.25m due for repayment by 22 September, 2020.

Vapiano opens fifth London site, at Centre Point: Vapiano has added to its London footprint by opening a site at the foot of the Centre Point building in Giles Square. It is the company’s fifth restaurant in the capital and seventh in the UK. The restaurant is accessed via a new pedestrianised piazza – with direct access to the Crossrail station at Tottenham Court Road. The site offers Vapiano’s unique dining concept, which features a card payment system whereby diners are given a blank card on arrival and “tap in” for each item they order, paying when they leave. The restaurant has 357 covers split over three floors – including a mezzanine – with additional seating offered in the piazza in the warmer months. The main floor of the restaurant features colourful and bespoke Vapiano-inspired murals by Graffiti Kings, 100-year-old olive trees, and herb pots on each table so guests can season their meal. Vapiano UK chief executive Roberto Moretti said: “We are thrilled with our restaurant at Centre Point. It is such a stunning space, well designed and, with a ceiling-height bar, a mezzanine overlooking the room and Graffiti Kings artwork on the lift shaft, it’s truly a Vapiano like no other.” The Centre Point site follows the company’s recent launch of its One Tower Bridge restaurant, while a venue is set to open in Glasgow early next year.

Graffiti Spirits appoints Living Ventures’ Brian Humphrey as group executive chef: Graffiti Spirits, the Liverpool-based independent bar and restaurant group owned by Matt Farrell and John Ennis, has appointed Brian Humphrey as executive chef. The former senior operations head chef at Living Ventures will create new concepts for Graffiti Spirits’ eight-strong collection of restaurants and bars, which includes Santa Maluco, Salt Dog Slims and Santa Chupitos, as well as consolidating and refreshing ideas and strategies. Key projects will include curating a new menu for Bold Street Coffee – the speciality independent coffee shop Graffiti Spirits Group partnered with earlier this year – and Duke Street Market, a 500-capacity venue in Liverpool that will house a 60-cover restaurant and six kitchens. Farrell said: “We are really excited to have Brian on board – he has a great deal of talent and experience to bring to the table. This represents a big step in the direction we are taking with Graffiti Spirits Group and we’re looking forward to everything we have lined up for 2019.” At Living Ventures, Humphrey had looked after 34 kitchens across seven brands for the past 16 years. He said: “Seeing the passion and vision John and Matt have for their venues had me hooked. Being part of this industry continues to be immensely rewarding and special and I look forward to what the future holds with Graffiti Spirits.” 

Downing Crowd launches £2m bond to support Lewes hotel acquisition: Crowdfunding platform Downing Crowd has launched a £2m bond to support Artemis Venue Services in its acquisition and refurbishment of the grade II-listed Pelham House Hotel in Lewes, East Sussex. Artemis plans to use the funds to convert the hotel into an exclusive-use wedding venue providing catering, bar sales and bedrooms for wedding couples and guests. Pelham House, a 16th century townhouse, has operated as a 36-bedroom hotel for more than a decade. The hotel has wedding facilities for up to 150 guests amid an acre of land. Downing Crowd has launched its first bond to offer investors a fixed return of 7.5% per annum with the potential for added equity upside. The Pelham House Bond has an estimated loan-to-cost ratio of 74% and, to allow the business to invest in its growth, Downing investors’ interest will be rolled up for the first two years. To reward investors for taking on this higher level of risk, the bond will also give shares to investors in proportion to their debt investment. Downing has estimated the fixed return on the bond and the potential upside on the equity combined would generate an internal rate of return of circa 10%. Based on an independent valuation, the bond has an estimated loan-to-value (LTV) of 91% – no Downing Crowd bond has exceeded 75% to date. However, the LTV is estimated to fall to 49% based on management’s estimate of Pelham’s mature trade, around year five. The bond will have first-charge security over the bricks and mortar of Pelham House as well as the assets of the business. To help manage risk further for investors, the Artemis management team is committed to investing £1.55m of cash that will rank behind Downing investors’ debt. Julia Groves, Downing partner and head of crowdfunding, said: “This offer is more complex than our standard bonds, therefore it’s likely to be better suited to more experienced and confident investors. However, the quality of Pelham House as a venue and the strength of the new management gives us confidence this bond can provide generous rewards for investors who are able to take on the additional risk.”

Danieli Holdings opens pan-Asian restaurant in Newcastle: North east-based Danieli Holdings has opened a pan-Asian restaurant in Newcastle. The company has launched The Muddler in Grey Street at a premises previously occupied by restaurant Osaka. The Muddler offers pan-Asian cuisine with a mix of dishes reflecting international flavours, such as chicken katsu urmaki – a take on sushi that features a crisp-coated chicken instead of fish. There is also a choice of platters. The cocktail list features specially created drinks such as an espresso tonic or muddler spritz, which combines a strawberry aperol with elderflower and Sauvignon Blanc, reports Chronicle Live. Danieli Holdings, which is known for its security, nursing home and property divisions, also operates Yolo sites in Newcastle and Ponteland as well as Bar B, formerly Bannatyne, in The Gate, Newcastle.

Bedlam Brewery appoints Bob Emms as chief executive: Sussex-based craft brewer Bedlam has appointed Bob Emms as chief executive. Emms, who has been in the industry for almost 30 years, mainly at Scottish & Newcastle and, more recently, Meantime Brewing Company, will take up the role on 6 January. Bedlam Brewery launched in early 2015. This year it has seen sales increase more than 65%, while the move to its new brewhouse outside Brighton, partially powered by solar energy, has allowed the company to quintuple production. Emms said: “I have watched Bedlam grow from its very beginnings at Albourne. I’ve seen it evolve and recently move to the new facility at Ditchling Common, where there’s a great team making some fantastic beers. I’m really excited about the future, working with that team and driving the business forward.” Bedlam director Dominic Worrall added: “I am delighted Bob will lead Bedlam through this crucial phase of the brewery’s development. To have someone of his calibre and experience is a sign of our ambition to further establish a long-term sustainable business.”

SSP brings new restaurants to Barcelona and Madrid airports: SSP Group, the operator of food and beverage outlets in travel locations worldwide, has opened a selection of restaurants at airports in Barcelona and Madrid. SSP has signed a new eight-year deal worth more than €200m (£180m) to increase the number of units it operates at Barcelona-El Prat airport from two to seven. The move has seen the company open the airport’s first Starbucks coffee shop along with Catalan restaurant La Tramoia, while another Catalan concept, Pannus, which offers a selection of sandwiches, pastries and cakes, will launch in May. Joining them are two new concepts from Michelin-starred chefs Javier and Sergio Torres. Fine dining restaurant Alas has opened, while grab-and-go venue Slam will launch in May. Completing the line-up is a new unit from Spanish charcuterie outlet Enrique Tomás, while local concept Cooofebar will open in May. Meanwhile, SSP has secured a deal to bring healthy food concept Mama Campo to Madrid Barajas airport. It follows the introduction of Mama Campo at Ibiza airport. SSP Spain managing director Blanca Ripoll said: “The mix we are offering is based on our detailed knowledge of the travelling consumer in Spain coupled with our understanding of regional trends. These latest wins will allow us to develop and strengthen our highly successful business in Spain.”

Liverpool-based operator opens bar inside yellow submarine for third site: Liverpool-based operator Alfie Bubbles has opened his third site in the city – inside a yellow submarine. Before it was a bar, the submarine was used as a prop in the Hunt For Red October movie as well as a floating hotel on the Albert Dock. Now it has a home in Cains Brewery Village as a Beatles-inspired venue. The bar is decorated with Beatles memorabilia, while its themed cocktails include the Yellow Sub (Malibu, Bacardi, pineapple juice and orange juice), and the Ringo Starr (vanilla vodka, passion fruit, pineapple juice, passoa and prosecco). Bubbles, who also owns The Black Pearl and Hippie Chic bars, told the Liverpool Echo: “It is a very trendy area and an up-and-coming place, so we had to open there.”

Dominique Ansel to open second London site: Renowned pastry chef Dominique Ansel, who operates sites in New York and Japan, is to open a second London site, in Covent Garden in the spring. Ansel, who opened his debut site in the capital in Belgravia in October 2016, told Hot Dinners: “We aren’t able to share the exact address just yet but we’re looking forward to being part of the Covent Garden community next year. It’s one of the first places I visited when I first went to London years ago. It has changed so much over the years and there are so many great restaurants in the area, we’ll be quite close to the opera house and theatres.” The new site will feature exclusive offerings. Ansel added: “We look at all our stores uniquely and it’s not just a variation of our existing menus but sometimes whole new creations and new menus altogether, so you can definitely expect the new shop and menu offerings to be different to Belgravia.” Ansel is also known as the man who invented the “cronut” – a cross between a croissant and a doughnut.

Wild Food Café starts expansion with second London site: Joel and Aiste Gazdar, the couple behind Covent Garden vegan restaurant Wild Food Café, have expanded their business by launching a second site in London. The restaurant has opened at a site in Upper Street that was formerly occupied by restaurant 100 Islington. It offers a menu the Gazdars were unable to achieve until now because of limited space at their Covent Garden site. New items on the menu include wood-fired pizza and “wild” brunch, while a superfood cocktail bar has been added. Wild Food Café focuses on foraged wild ingredients, slow raw food processes and a commitment to organic produce with medicinal benefits. The aim is to maintain as much natural goodness in ingredients as possible and the team works closely with organic food producers, growers and foragers. Starters include pulled jackfruit sandwich bites, with mains such as coconut-seared plantain stew. The bar offers “medicinally focused” juice, herbal tonics, natural wine, superfood smoothies and cocktails. The Gazdars said: “We are excited to be able to establish a bigger, bolder restaurant and well-being space in north London to reach many more people.”

Japanese coffee shop Omotesando Koffee opens debut European site, in Fitzrovia: Japanese coffee shop Omotesando Koffee has launched its debut site in Europe, in central London. Eiichi Kunitomo-san launched the concept in Tokyo’s Omotesando Hills and has now brought his brand to Rathbone Square in Fitzrovia. Omotesando Koffee’s drinks include an iced cappuccino, which is covered with a layer of bubbly milk foam and topped with cocoa powder, reports Hot Dinners. Omotesando also offers custard cubes, including boxes of five to take away, alongside green tea and pastries. The original Omotesando Koffee site in Tokyo has closed but has since opened branches in Singapore, Hong Kong and Bangkok.

Pugliese restaurant Terra Rossa opens debut site, in Islington: Pugliese restaurant concept Terra Rossa has launched its debut site, in Islington, north London. The venue has opened in Upper Street at a site formerly occupied by tapas bar Thyme & Lemon. Terra Rossa is a “modern take on authentic Italian dining” with a “warm, yet eclectic, ambience” and food and drink focusing on the Puglia region, which covers southern Italy’s “heel”. The 90-cover restaurant includes a large bar as a focal point offering Italian wine, bespoke cocktails, and craft and draught beer, mostly from the Puglia region. Pasta is freshly made on-site. Terra Rossa is the brainchild of Francois Fracella, former general manager of Italian restaurant Apulia in Farringdon, who has worked in the sector for 26 years. He said: “The inspiration comes from memories of my father’s relationship with the land and his wine-making endeavours in Puglia. Growing up in Salento was all about food. Time and love went into every dish and I want to replicate the same style of ardent cooking and passionate food culture in London.” Restaurant Property secured the lease of the 2,498 square foot space spread over the ground floor and basement for an undisclosed premium. Danielle Agami, of Restaurant Property, said: “This is a fantastic addition to Upper Street – one of London’s busiest and most bustling high streets.”

Luxury deli concept The Camden Grocer becomes first operator to open at revitalised market space: Luxury deli concept The Camden Grocer has become the first operator to open at the revitalised North Yard at Camden Market. The 1,200 square foot site in the Stables Market area features a delicatessen and cafe. The concept is fronted by managing director Alec Paterson, Matthew Bunch, formerly of London cheese shop Paxton & Whitfield, and Scott Winston, ex-Harvey Nichols, Harrods and Selfridges. Paterson said: “To be the first to open and front the revitalisation of Camden Market is amazing. Our team has worked unbelievably hard to curate an offering of the most exciting food and beverages available. We have plans to open further sites across this incredible city. Our aim is to become a household name within London’s luxury retail sector.” Camden Market commercial director Maggie Milosavljevic added: “We’re evolving our offering, adding restaurants, cafes and shops that champion locally sourced ingredients and demonstrate the culinary creativity of our in-house chef teams. We’re delighted to welcome The Camden Grocer as part of this vision.” Last month LabTech, the property investment and technology company that owns Camden Market, unveiled its vision for Hawley Wharf Camden, a scheme that will include 150 stores and more than 60 restaurants and bars when it opens in the summer.

Aprirose acquires historic Cheshunt hotel from De Vere for £24.2m: Real estate investment firm Aprirose has acquired a 16th century hotel that was once the favoured country seat of King James I in a £24.2m deal. The company has bought The De Vere Theobalds Estate Hotel in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, from De Vere Hotels, which is owned by Starwood Capital. The 140-bedroom property became a hotel in the 1990s but was built in 1763 and is set in 55-acre gardens. Aprirose chief executive Manish Gudka told Insider Media: “Our hotel business continues to go from strength to strength. We’re continually looking for assets we believe will flourish in our portfolio. Under the leadership of our hotel team, we are developing market-leading hotels in this thriving sector.”

Epic Hospitality Group opens first of two Liverpool hotels: Epic Hospitality Group, led by Simon Beer, has opened the first of its two new hotels in Liverpool. The company has opened the £20m, 128-bedroom Seel St Hotel in the city’s Ropewalks neighbourhood. It comprises rooftop hotel suites with terraces providing city views, plus a bar and gym. Beer told Insider Media: “The design values, fit-out quality and service standards will redefine the luxury boutique sector in the city and early bookings are considerably ahead of forecast.” Epic Hospitality Group will also operate a hotel in the Baltic neighbourhood. The £70m, 306-bedroom property will have views across Liverpool’s south docks. Elliot Group, which is behind the development of both hotels, chose Epic Hospitality Group to operate the sites in the summer.

Team behind Leeds-based Italian gastro-wine bar and restaurant to open pizzeria for second site: The team behind Leeds-based Italian gastro-wine bar and restaurant Livin’ Italy is to open a second site in the city. Dough House will open in Cloth Hall Street next to the Corn Exchange in January. While Livin’ Italy offers fine Italian cuisine, Dough House will specialise in pizza and cocktails, reports Leeds Live. Livin’ Italy opened in Granary Wharf in 2012.

BaxerStorey achieves highest Hospitality Assured score to date: Contract catering company BaxterStorey has achieved its highest Hospitality Assured score to date – 83.2% – against an industry average of 73.1%. Hospitality Assured is the quality standard created by the Institute of Hospitality. It assesses nine areas of business, from customer research and business planning to service delivery and customer satisfaction improvement. In addition to observing working practices, service and team interaction, assessors interviewed a number of staff at random. The assessors visited ten London sites operated by BaxterStorey as well as its chef and barista academies. BaxterStorey chairman Alastair Storey said: “We are thrilled our teams’ hard work and commitment to their craft has resulted in BaxterStorey being awarded its highest score. As a business, we are dedicated to cultivating talent within the organisation and are extremely proud to see our training programmes commended in this way.” Max Lawrence, director of finance and administration at Hospitality Assured, added: “BaxterStorey has taken part in the Hospitality Assured assessment for 16 years and its improved results each year highlight just how serious the business is about service excellence and the ongoing development of its team members.”

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