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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Fri 11th Jan 2019 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

UK becomes vegan food market leader as number of products launched doubles to 16%: The UK developed the highest number of new vegan food products in Europe in 2018, toppling Germany from top spot, according to the Mintel Global New Products Database. Almost one-fifth (16%) of food products launched in the UK last year claimed to be vegan or having no animal ingredients, compared with 8% in 2015. In Germany, the figure fell from 15% in 2017 to 13% last year. Overall, 9% of food products launched in Europe in 2018 claimed to be vegan or having no animal ingredients, up from 5% in 2015. Almost one in ten (9%) of British diners would like to see more vegan items on the menu, the report stated. Meanwhile, more than one-third (34%) of British meat-eaters cut their meat consumption in the six months to July 2018 following a flexitarian approach, up from 28% in 2017. Sales of non-dairy milk grew 9.4%, from £202m in 2016 to £221m in 2017. In total, 9% of Brits drank plant-based milk in the three months to February 2018, rising to 27% of consumers aged 25 to 34. However, almost two-fifths (39%) of British diners said vegan meals were boring, while 41% thought they were overpriced. Mintel global food and drinks analyst Edward Bergen said: “For a number of years Germany led the world for launches of vegan products. However, 2018 saw the UK take the helm. Germany has certainly plateaued, likely driven by a flooded market with little room to grow further. The UK, by contrast, has seen a huge promotion of vegan choices in restaurants and supermarkets. The most poignant of these is the expansion of supermarket own-label options, with dedicated vegan ranges in mainstream stores. Additional space is also being freed up by UK supermarkets in the on-the-go aisles and small-format stores to help promote vegan food and drink, making it easier for meat-eating consumers to try these concepts out. Initiatives such as Veganuary and Meat-less Monday allow consumers to flirt with veganism without the long-term commitment. Moreover, consumers are becoming more willing to expand their comfort zones, push themselves to the limit with new experiences and use social media to compete with and offer inspiration to their peers.”

Industry News:

Last chance to book this week for Restaurant Marketer & Innovator, host of companies sign up: This week is the last chance to book for Restaurant Marketer & Innovator European Summit, which is returning for its second year. The two-day event, a partnership between Propel and Think Hospitality, takes place on Wednesday, 16 January and Thursday, 17 January at One Moorgate Place, London. It will feature more than 40 speakers offering a unique blend of senior marketers, business leaders and entrepreneurs. A host of companies and brands have signed up for the event including The Restaurant Group, Casual Dining Group, Mitchells & Butlers, Greene King, Fuller’s, Novus, Wagamama, TGI Friday’s, D&D London, Five Guys, YO! Sushi, JW Lees, Be At One, Arc Inspirations, Coaching Inn Group, Giggling Squid, Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group, Famous Brands, Abokado, The Alchemist, Gusto Italian, ETM Group, Thai Leisure Group, Polpo, Vapiano, St Austell Brewery, Tortilla, Urban Pubs and Bars, The Chesterford Group, TLC Inns, Wimpy UK, Redcomb Pubs, Pho, Ego Restaurants, Bistrot Pierre, Mowgli, Dirty Martini, Coppa Club, Papa John’s, Mosaic Pub & Dining, Paul UK, Busaba, Signature Pub Group, Black and White Hospitality, Livelyhood, Market Halls, True North Brew, Inamo Restaurants, Feya, Four Seasons Hotels UK Collection, Herbarijs, Ennismore Sessions House, Silgur Restaurants, Erpingham House, The Bloomsbury, BBC, Beaver Group, WE ARE Spectacular, Ignite Hospitality, Yapster, Petersham Nurseries, Foodsmiths Marketing, Campari, Sodexo, Jockey Club Catering, Tahola, Groupon, Pop, Preoday, Red Bull, Eposability, Hastee Pay, Pearson Ham, Moreton Reynolds, Happen, Excelerate Resources, We Are Indigo, 48.1, The Entertainer, Powermat, Wildhorse, Action Against Hunger, February Agency, PRUK, Stuart Delivery, Wisetiger and Cube3 Digital. For the full schedule, click here. Bookings will close on Friday (11 January). Tickets for the two days cost £575 plus VAT for operators and £845 plus VAT for suppliers. Group ticket packages are available when purchasing three tickets or more. Tickets can be purchased by emailing Anne Steele, of Propel, at or calling her on 01444 817691.

UK pubs and restaurants see significant year-on-year rise in consumer spend during December: Pubs and restaurants enjoyed a significant year-on-year rise in consumer spend in December despite overall spending growth being at its lowest level since 2016, according to the latest data from Barclaycard. Pubs saw a year-on-year increase of 12.9% and restaurants 9.1% as Brits continued to make the most of the festive period by drinking and dining out. Overall consumer spending grew 1.8% year-on-year in December, the lowest rate of growth since March 2016. With inflation at 2.3%, this equated to a contraction in real terms. Essential spending growth dipped to 0.6%, the lowest figure since July 2016, caused by a contraction in supermarket spending of 1.1%. Non-essential expenditure saw a muted month, rising 2.0%. The high street continued to face challenges despite the festive season. In the face of store closures, more than half (52%) of Brits said they want to support their local high street. Almost two-fifths (38%) said they are deliberately choosing the high street over online-only retailers, suggesting consumers want the high street to remain an important part of their community. However, many respondents remain concerned about their spending power. Almost half (49%) expect to cut back in January, while 48% feel less confident about their personal finances in the coming year. In terms of the wider picture, 50% of UK adults are concerned there may be a decline in the UK economy compared with 43% last year. Many shoppers expect price rises over the next three months, particularly groceries (72%). Barclaycard director Esme Harwood said: “Many Brits were more modest in their approach to Christmas spending compared with 2017, cutting back on essentials to balance the costs of the festive season. Despite a desire to support their local high street, Brits expect to cut back in January and remain cautious amid ongoing economic uncertainty.”

Job of the week: Boxpark is expanding and recruiting for the following senior management roles in London – head of events (£50,000-plus), sales manager (£50,000-plus), marketing manager (£50,000-plus) and general manager (£50,000-plus) – plus many more. All candidates require a minimum of three to five years’ experience in these roles in the events or hospitality sector. To apply, click here

Company News:

C&C Group boss – stability has returned to Matthew Clark and Bibendum: C&C Group boss Stephen Glancey has told Propel stability has returned to Matthew Clark and Bibendum as it looks to build on a “strong” Christmas performance by the companies. Glancey praised the work of Michael Saunders, Steve Thomson and David Phillips, who were brought back into the businesses, and their teams – Bibendum stock levels are at 98% and Matthew Clark at 96%. Glancey also said all suppliers, along with HM Revenue & Customs, had now been paid what they were due following the collapse of previous owner Conviviality in April last year. While Glancey said there was still plenty of work to do, he was pleased with progress so far. He added: “We have got stability and service back to where they were. It has been a hard slog but I’m pleased with where we are. They are both very good businesses. We’re only about 2% down on customers which, when you consider these businesses were in meltdown last April, is not bad at all. But January and February is a critical period – it’s a time when lots of wine lists change. We will continue to invest in these businesses. We can improve logistics, service and the offer and we have the balance sheet in place to do that. We have also got the support of suppliers and the credit insurance company.” Glancey was also pleased with the performance of its Magners and Tennent’s brands on the back of a good summer, with the latter having improved market share from 22% to 26% since the introduction of minimum unit pricing in Scotland.

Deltic to launch mobile apps and digital ticketing: The Deltic Group is to launch apps for its brands as well as mobile ticketing. The company has partnered with mobile ticketing and cashless payment company Corethree to enhance its digital offering. As part of the deal, Corethree will develop bespoke mobile apps for each of the individual Deltic brands in a bid to drive loyalty and increase sales and venue efficiencies while enabling better ID control with digital tickets. Deltic has implemented personalised marketing for some time. However, it is now looking to increase this capability with mobile apps that will enable it to offer data-driven services and tailored promotions, which customers will be able to take advantage of securely from their mobile. Deltic Group marketing director Tim Howard said: “Mobile marketing is a valuable channel for connecting to our customers in a direct yet more personalised way. We needed to partner with a mobile technology provider that would not only deliver bespoke apps for every brand but, more importantly, provide a powerful back-end infrastructure to help us deliver the best customer engagement across our brand portfolio.” The new Corethree apps will provide Deltic brands with a mobile ticketing solution, enabling remote ticket purchase and faster venue entrance and ID confirmation. The apps will also act as an additional user engagement channel, capturing everything Deltic customers do in the digital world that relates to its brands and providing data insights that can be used to drive marketing initiatives. Corethree chief executive Ashley Murdoch said: “We are excited to be partnering with Deltic to boost the digital marketing of its individual businesses and showcase what we can bring to the entertainment space.”

Dominion Hospitality embarks on first major capex projects as it targets 500 bedrooms in estate, turnover jumps to £12.8m: Dominion Hospitality, which owns and operates hotels and pubs in the south of England under its Relax and Historic Innz brands, is embarking on its first major capex projects as it targets 500 bedrooms in its estate. Chairman Ted Kennedy told Propel that having finished the necessary maintenance work and trimmed the estate, it was now investing to develop additional bedrooms. The George Hotel in Amesbury, Wiltshire, and the Kings Arms & Royals in Godalming, Surrey, are the first two sites where work will take place. Kennedy said: “Up to now we’ve been doing the work that’s needed to be done. Now we’re making our first major capital investments and developing extra bedrooms as we look to get to 500 in the existing estate.” Kennedy spoke as Dominion Hospitality reported turnover jumped to £12,765,000 for the year ending 2 April 2018, compared with £4,749,000 the previous year. Pre-tax losses increased to £996,000 compared with £482,000 the year before, according to accounts filed at Companies House. The group balance sheet at 2 April 2018 showed net assets of £3,990,000, compared with £5,118,000 the previous year. At the end of the period, the company operated 29 sites. Since then it has sold its smaller wet-led pubs and those sites with less than 20 bedrooms, leaving it with about 20 venues. Dominion Hospitality is owned by Stellex Capital Management, a private equity firm that invests in middle-market companies in North America and Europe through its offices in New York and London. Dominion Hospitality was formed following the acquisition of the Chapman Group in November 2016. Kennedy also owns Pebble Hotels and was previously managing director of Whitbread’s managed pub division.

Bruce Pubs admitted to bond market as it looks to raise £20m for expansion: Edinburgh-based Bruce Pubs has been admitted to the bond market with a view to raising £20m to expand its portfolio. The directors have announced 10,000 bonds of £1 each have been admitted to trading on the NEX Exchange Growth Market. The bonds represent the first tranche of Bruce Pubs’ 7.20% fixed-rate, secured £20m bond programme. Bruce Pubs is a wholly owned subsidiary of Bruce Group, which is based in George VI Bridge in Edinburgh. Bruce Group is a holding company, established in 2002, which owns and operates 19 bars in Edinburgh and Fife on a tenanted or managed basis through its subsidiaries. Its estate includes Whistle Binkies, the Mash House, the Fiddler’s Arms, George VI Bar, The Royal Mile Tavern, the Belle Angele, Village, Opium and Jamie’s Bar. Last month, Bruce Group announced plans to raise up to £20m to expand its portfolio. Its board includes former RBS banker Ken Hillen, who was also head of commercial and corporate for Scotland at Bank of Ireland until 2009.

Former head of restaurant openings at Byron joins Three Joes: Sourdough pizza restaurant Three Joes, co-founded by Tim Hall, founder of London-based healthy eating brand Pod, has appointed Sarah Cronin as its new store openings manager. Cronin has joined the business having previously been at better burger brand Byron, where she was responsible for opening 45 sites. Three Joes, which is currently looking to raise £400,000 on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to fuel its next stage of growth, also revealed it expects to open its third site, at The Beacon, a redeveloped shopping centre in Eastbourne, in mid-May. Hall said: “Opening a new restaurant is an art form. Typically you experience your busiest month at the precise time when the chefs and front-of-house teams are at their least experienced and the operating systems, IT and kitchen equipment is all untried and untested. At the same time it is when you most want to impress a large volume of new customers. It’s a huge challenge and a fantastic boon for Three Joes to have an industry leader in this role. Sarah will provide operational support to the group in between restaurant openings.” Hall launched Three Joes in 2017 with ex-Pod food director Emma Blackmore and former Byron operations director Peter Bruton. Its first restaurant opened in Fareham, Hampshire, in August 2017, with a second site added last summer in Winchester. Three Joes is offering 6.25% equity in return for the £400,000 investment, giving the company a pre-money valuation of £6m. So far, 122 investors have pledged £348,480 with 28 days remaining.

Remarkable Pubs reports December like-for-likes up 6.2%: Remarkable Pubs, the privately owned east London-focused pub company, has reported like-for-like sales during December increased 6.2%. Managing director Elton Mouna, who will appear on the James Max breakfast show on Talkradio on Friday morning (11 January) to discuss like-for-like industry performance, said: “This comes in a year of extremely cautious retail selling price increases and indicates solid organic sales growth. Remarkable Pubs’ general managers worked hard and planned well for Christmas and their front-line teams delivered those plans with their usual panache and energy. I am buying one huge round of drinks as a small thank you so we may collectively raise a glass to a successful 2019.” Mouna told Propel the initial focus in 2019 would be integrating its latest acquisitions – the Holly Tree in Forest Gate and the Boleyn Tavern in West Ham – into the 16-strong estate and would continue to look at acquisition opportunities as they arose.

Sushimania to open debut grab-and-go restaurant for tenth site, in Charing Cross Road: Sushimania is to launch its first grab-and-go site, in Charing Cross Road, central London, for its tenth venue. The move, part of the company’s UK-wide expansion drive, will see the concept launch at a former Subway unit. It will feature customisable dishes based around sushi and poke, designed to eat on the move and reflecting a growing trend towards quick service restaurant (QSR) concepts in the sector. Diners will be able to build their own lunch boxes from a selection of dishes prepared by an on-site chef with a base of rice, noodles or salad. Sushimania managing director Paul Cheung said: “The high-footfall location is perfect for our new concept. We will offer something different to other high-street sushi options as customers will be able to create their own lunches from dishes our on-site chef will make, fresh to order.” Michael Macpherson, of Cedar Dean Commercial, the lease restructuring arm of advisory firm Cedar Dean Group, which acted on behalf of the previous occupier, added: “The large concentration of workers and tourists in this part of London illustrates the need for quick and easy dining options that don’t compromise on quality or nutrition. Operators are increasingly seeing a benefit to grab-and-go concepts and we expect to see a rise in restaurants with a QSR model.” Sushimania opened its first store in Golders Green, London, in 2011, launching three further sites in the capital and one each in Brighton, Reading, Cambridge, Oxford and Nottingham.

Darwin & Wallace launches healthy food takeaway initiative: Darwin & Wallace, the independent neighbourhood bar group backed by Imbiba, has launched a healthy food takeaway initiative. The company is offering “Cluck & Collect” this month at its No 11 Pimlico Road, No 32 The Old Town and No 29 Power Station West sites. It aims to “satisfy the growing demand for wholesome food-to-go with a sustainable, scratch-cooked and freshly made to order takeaway for time-poor, health-conscious Londoners”. Ordered online, guests can pick up an order from their chosen bar within a selected time slot. Menu choices include the half or whole lemon and tarragon-marinated rotisserie chicken alongside sides such as mixed salad, green beans or crushed potato. Darwin & Wallace has also launched an express lunch menu at the three sites, offering two courses delivered to the table in 20 minutes. Darwin & Wallace operates seven venues across the capital.

Crosstown Doughnuts to open first west London site for tenth store: Crosstown Doughnuts, founded by Adam Wills and Peter Gordon, is to open its first store in west London and tenth in total. The venue will open in the Broadway Shopping Centre in Hammersmith on Monday (14 January), Hot Dinners reports. Alongside its stores, all in London, the brand operates at seven markets in the capital. The company launched its first site in Piccadilly in 2015. In last year’s Ones To Watch report, which tracks fast-growing brands in the UK, Crosstown Doughnuts was named the fastest-growing brand as measured by percentage growth in outlet numbers. From 2015 to 2018, Crosstown Doughnuts grew its estate 1,100%.

Former Devonshire Hotels & Restaurants managing director acquires first site for fledgling brand, plans roll-out across north of England: Fledgling leisure brand Bike and Boot Inns has outlined plans to roll out across the north of England after acquiring its debut site. Former Devonshire Hotels & Restaurants managing director Simon Rhatigan and wine merchant and restaurateur Simon Kershaw have bought The Mount Hotel in Scarborough for an undisclosed sum through agents Christie & Co. The 50-bedroom, five-storey hotel in the town centre was previously owned and operated by the Lothian family, who decided to move back to Scotland. Bike and Boot Inns plans to significantly invest in the hotel and The Mount will reopen, fully refurbished and rebranded, in the summer. Kershaw said: “This is our first acquisition and our intention is to roll out the brand, initially across the north of England in key leisure and tourist locations such as coastal towns and national parks. Our target client base is the short-break market but with facilities for cyclists, walkers, dog owners and those who simply enjoy some of the most beautiful areas in the country.” Rhatigan was appointed Devonshire Hotels & Restaurants managing director in 2013 before leaving the business in 2017.  

McDonald’s franchisee group calls for halt to restaurant remodels: US franchisee group the National Owners Association (NOA) has asked its members to “stop everything that is not currently in the works” regarding McDonald’s restaurant remodelling programme. The independent organisation was founded in October to work with McDonald’s regarding the impact of the company’s Experience Of The Future programme. The group is concerned about eroding profits, lack of control over menu pricing and remodelling costs. The new look includes kiosks, upgraded drive-thrus and pick-up counters for delivery drivers. However, some older buildings require franchisees to rebuild restaurants from scratch, while remodels cost between $160,000 and $750,000, with some stores forced to close for fit-out work. The NOA said its members weren’t against investing in their restaurants but wanted McDonald’s to listen to franchisees about initiatives that “didn’t work” such as the so-called “SAM wall”, which separates the front counter from the kitchen and has been met with “overwhelming” opposition by its members. Earlier this week another McDonald’s franchisee group in the US – the National Leadership Council – said operators felt hampered by the growing complexity of the chain’s menu. McDonald’s declined to comment but said it was “committed to continuing to work closely” with its franchisees. McDonald’s recently agreed to push back the 2020 deadline for the remodelling of 14,000 US sites to 2022. However, taking advantage of the two-year extension means McDonald’s would offer less financial support.

Seven Brothers Brewery closes crowdfunding campaign after raising more than £666,000 for four beerhouses: Manchester-based Seven Brothers Brewery has closed its campaign on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to open four beerhouses and expand production. The company, founded three-and-a-half years ago by brothers Keith, Kit, Guy, Luke, Daniel, Nathan and Greg McAvoy, offered 5.88% equity in return for investment, giving a pre-money valuation of £8m. In total, 1,220 investors pledged £666,130 and the campaign has now closed. The campaign’s original target was £500,000. The pitch stated: “Since introducing our bars in December 2016, revenue has increased from £204,000 to £708,000 (Ebitda minus £51,000). We raised £200,000 in July 2016 (on Crowdcube) and moved into a new brewery in October 2017. The fundamental part of our strategy is a further four beerhouses. Our aim is these will form the backbone of the whole business. Vertical integration means we will have a ready-made client for the brewery and the beerhouses will benefit from a strong gross margin.” The company also plans to use the investment to expand production at its brewery in Salford to 100,000 litres and grow its team. In November, the company secured its second beerhouse after agreeing heads of terms for a site at the Middlewood Locks development in Manchester.

Goodbody – M&B’s ‘impressive’ first quarter points to strong operation performance: Goodbody leisure analyst Paul Ruddy has said the “impressive” first-quarter update by Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) points to a strong operational performance by the company. Ruddy said: “Like-for-like sales growth for the first 14 weeks of the year to 5 January is 4.7% versus our first-half expectation of 3%, split quite evenly between food (+4.6%) and drink (+4.8%). M&B had reported a 2.2% like-for-like increase for the first seven weeks so there has been a marked improvement in the later seven weeks to 6.9%, with food sales (+6.9%) outperforming drink (+6.6%). Total sales growth for the 14 weeks is 5.1%. The festive period was very strong, with like-for-like sales growth of 12.3% over the core two-week period or 9.8% during the three weeks, while noting record trading on all festive dates. Greene King reported 10.9% and Stonegate 12% Christmas like-for-like growth so M&B is at the top end of those that have reported to date. The group continues to invest in the estate with 114 conversions and two openings in the year to date and remains encouraged by the returns being generated. On the outlook, the group noted a sound of caution on the consumer as it enters the toughest trading period, noting trading will be quiet at least until people get paid again and highlights the Brexit uncertainty before noting it has had a ‘good start to the year’. Overall, this is a good update from M&B. The 12.3% like-for-like growth over the core Christmas period will get most attention but the even balance between food and drink growth through the 14-week period is also important given the outperformance of wet-led pubs in recent quarters. We believe this points to a strong operational performance from M&B. Despite outperforming our expectations, we are unlikely to move our forecasts at this point given how early it is in the year and the macro-risks that lie ahead, particularly in the second quarter.”

DUM Biryani founder to open Mayfair restaurant for second London site: Dhruv Mittal, a chef who has worked at The Fat Duck, Hibiscus and Sat Bains, is to open his second Indian restaurant in London. Mittal, who launched DUM Biryani in Wardour Street in November 2016, will open Lucknow Social in Mayfair’s Maddox Street in early March. The menu will take inspiration from India’s Lucknow region and its Awadhi method of cooking. Dishes will include kakori kebab spiked with cloves, black pepper and cinnamon; Awadhi chicken biryani; and lamb neck korma. The lunchtime menu will feature quick bites to eat in or take away. The drinks list will be compiled by Zeren Wilson and include a short wine list paired with the cuisine, while there will be a collaboration with Hackney Brewery. The playlist will feature “chilled beats and Urdu pop”, Hot Dinners reports.

Former footballer Craig Bellamy closes Penarth restaurant as company prepares to go into liquidation: Former professional footballer Craig Bellamy has closed his high-end restaurant Pier 64 in Penarth as the company prepares to go into liquidation. The restaurant in Penarth Marina describes itself as a wine bar and steakhouse and is owned by former Wales international Bellamy. Insolvency firm Begbies Traynor said the company, Pier 64, had stopped trading. A Begbies Traynor spokeswoman told Wales Online: “Huw Powell and David Hill, of Begbies Traynor in Cardiff, have been appointed to assist with the process of placing the company into liquidation, which is due to occur on Monday (14 January).” Pier 64 overlooks the water at Penarth Marina and was owned by Francis Dupuy when it opened in 2011. Bellamy became director when it was registered with Companies House in December 2014 and is currently listed as its sole director.

Bermondsey-based brewer hits £400,000 crowdfunding target to triple production: Bermondsey-based brewer Anspach & Hobday has hit the £400,000 target in its fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube. The company is offering 11.76% equity in return for the investment, giving a pre-money valuation of £3m. So far, 382 investors have pledged £407,510 and the campaign, which was extended last month for 28 days, is now “overfunding”. The company will use the funds to triple production and expand taproom space. Anspach & Hobday exports its beer to 11 countries and plans to increase production to meet 50% year-on-year wholesale growth and expand the range of brews at its Bermondsey taproom. The company reported 50% year-on-year wholesale growth (from £195,000 in 2017 to £294,000 in 2018; overall Ebitda minus £50,900). Founded in 2012 by Paul Anspach and Jack Hobday, the brewery produces keg, cask and bottled beer and is “moving on to cans”.

Brothers Drinks Co reports like-for-likes up more than 100% across winter markets: Brothers Drinks Co, trading as The Showerings Cider Mill, has reported an increase of more than 100% in like-for-like cider sales across UK winter markets for its spiced toffee apple and mulled festival ciders, as well as the recently launched Mallets brand. The sales surge follows a successful year for the Brothers cider brands generally, which grew by more than 40% during the year. This is against a backdrop of 3.5% value growth for the total UK cider category during 2018, taking the total market to £2.98bn. The Brothers winter markets tour visited 22 events. Senior marketing manager Emmy Webster said: “The growth we have experienced over the winter period is testament to the hard work put in by everyone at Brothers. As the UK’s love of cider continues to grow, it’s important for us to offer something for every occasion. The winter markets have been a fantastic growth opportunity for us and we look forward to developing our brands further in this area during 2019.”

Hogs Back Brewery to build £350,000 hop kiln, first in Surrey for more than 100 years: Surrey-based Hogs Back Brewery is building a hop kiln as part of its investment programme. It will be the first traditional-style kiln to be built in the county for more than 100 years, it is believed. The project at the company’s Manor Farm site in Tongham will cost £350,000, taking total investment in the brewery and hop garden during the past 12 months to £700,000. The kiln, which will be operational ahead of Hogs Back’s September harvest, is being built only yards from its brewhouse and new, much larger 8.5-acre hop garden. It will stand on a site occupied by an original kiln for many years and will be used to dry Hogs Back’s hops for about one month a year, serving as an events space and visitors’ centre during the rest of the year. Hogs Back Brewery managing director Rupert Thompson said: “A £700,000 investment at a time of uncertainty in the beer market speaks volumes for our long-term commitment to brewing in Surrey. This will make us an even more sustainable, environmentally conscious business. Our hops will travel from field to firkin in a furlong. Combined with our new vacuum-packaging facility, it means we will have the freshest, best quality hops which, in turn, ensures consistently top quality and flavour for our beer.”

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