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Mon 4th Mar 2019 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Honest Burgers breaks £30m turnover mark with like-for-likes up 7.9%: Honest Burgers, the Active Partners-backed chain, has passed through the £30m-turnover mark in its latest set of accounts, Propel has learned. The group saw an increase in sales from £22.5m to circa £31m in the year to the end of January 2019, with group Ebitda during the year increasing from £2.9m to £4.2m. Like-for-like sales for the year increased by 7.9%, as the company opened new sites in Holborn, Piccadilly, Waterloo, Picton Place and Bristol. It also opened its first Deliveroo Editions site in Swiss Cottage during the year. Openings scheduled for the second quarter of this year, include sites in London Bridge and Manchester, with further sites secured in Liverpool and Cardiff for later in 2019. Earlier this year, the company appointed Brian Gillan, formerly of Wagamama, as its new operations director. Gillan has spent the past 18 months as regional director at Wagamama having previously been operations director at Vietnamese street food restaurant group Pho and held various roles at Nando’s. Honest Burgers saw like-for-like sales grow 22.2% in the three weeks to 6 January, and during December, 17 out of the group’s 31 restaurants broke their all-time weekly sales records. Last week, Honest Burgers opened its 32nd site, in Duke Street, Brighton, in the premises previously occupied by restaurant Pascere. Founders Philip Eeles and Tom Barton opened the company’s debut site in 2011, in Brixton, south London. The group has grown to 28 venues in the capital and also has one each in Bristol, Cambridge and Reading. 
 

Industry News:

Social Strategy In A Day open for bookings: Social Strategy In A Day, an event aimed at allowing companies to develop and hone their social media strategy, has launched and is open for bookings. The event features all-new content and insights to allow companies to increase brand exposure, broaden their reach and ensure their digital marketing really delivers. Propel has partnered with digital marketing company Digital Blonde for the one-day advanced workshop, which will cover everything a marketing department should be thinking about when it comes to social strategy. The event takes place on Thursday, 4 April at One Moorgate Place in London. Insights will include how to drive business via social media; which social media activity works best for each generation; the key to successful storytelling; and the latest findings in consumer psychology and how they can benefit your social media communications. There will also be tips on how to improve your food and drink photography, alongside insights on key apps, how to make the most of Instagram and Facebook, and how to make your social spend count. Those who book tickets can submit questions ahead of the event for the Digital Blonde team to answer in a special “20 questions in 20 minutes” session. Tickets are £295 plus VAT for Propel Premium members and £345 plus VAT for non-members and can be booked by emailing anne.steele@propelinfo.com
 
Pubs and bars outperform restaurants on customer review scores: Pubs and bars outperformed restaurants based on customer review scores left across Facebook, TripAdvisor and Google during February, according to new statistics from Feed It Back’s monthly social review tracker. The statistics, taken from thousands of social reviews across the restaurant, quick service restaurant and pub industries, revealed the average review score for pubs and bars was 4.3, while the restaurant sector achieved 4.1. An increase in positive reviews left on Facebook, which rose from 4.6 in January to 4.7 in February, and TripAdvisor, which rose from 4.2 to 4.3 over the same period, were the drivers behind the spike in positive reviews for the pub and bar sector. The restaurant sector’s average social review score also rose between January (4.0) and February (4.1), a move entirely driven by Facebook, which experienced an average rating increase of 4.0 to 4.3 over the time period. Across both sectors, Google’s market share dominance of reviews has receded slightly, falling from 64% in January to 60% in February. Conversely, TripAdvisor’s market share has grown to 29% – a 4% increase since January. Facebook’s market share grew by just 1% to reach 11%. Facebook garnered the most positive reviews with 87% of customers making a positive recommendation. Google follows closely behind with 51% of reviews receiving the maximum five-star rating, and 29% rating their experience worthy of four stars. TripAdvisor, however, generates more polarised reviews, with 53% bestowing the maximum five stars, while 9% gave the lowest possible score of one star, which is 4% higher than Google. The data revealed positive TripAdvisor scores are people centric and driven by "friendly service" and "helpful" employees. Positive Google reviews continue to be driven by the "atmosphere", but comments on the proposition referencing the "food" or "drink" also featured prominently in February. Facebook follows a similar trend, with "atmosphere" primarily driving positive reviews. Across all channels, "wait times" remain the dominant driver of negative reviews. Feed It Back chief executive Carlo Platia said: “Following a challenging January, February brought cause for optimism across the hospitality industry. The figures clearly reveal both pubs and bars, and restaurants, seized the opportunity to deliver a great customer experience and subsequently experienced increases to their average review scores." This data is part of a regular report Feed It Back runs across social reviews and just scratches the surface of their ability to drive revisits. To understand more about Feed It Back and to sign up for a monthly copy of this report, email allears@feeditback.co.uk
 
Sector sees like-for-likes up 2.5% in February as operators bounce back from January blues: Like-for-like sales were up 2.5% in February compared with last year, according to S4Labour, the online labour-scheduling management system from Catton Hospitality. According to an analysis of more than 100 organisations that use S4Labour software, operators bounced back from the January blues to see strong sales figures in February 2019 compared with like-for-like figures in February 2018. As in recent months, food-focused businesses saw the greatest increases. Drink sales in food-focused pubs delivered a 7.6% year-on-year uplift, accounting for the greatest proportion of growth within the analysis. Food sales also grew strongly in food-focused pubs, by 2.4% year-on-year. There were also modest increases in sales performances from drink-focused businesses. Drink sales in wet-led businesses grew 1.3% year-on-year. However, they were slightly hindered by a fall in food sales. Overall, sales in drink-focused business were up by almost 1% compared with last year.
 
Top 500 US restaurant companies see cumulative sales increase to $318bn in 2018 as fast casual remains fastest-growing segment: The 500 largest restaurant companies in the US saw cumulative sales increase to $318bn in 2018, with fast casual remaining the fastest-growing segment, according to insights firm Technomic. Its Top 500 Chain Restaurant advance report revealed sales for each of the top five companies was above $10bn, whereas the previous year only the top three achieved this benchmark. Among those companies is Chick-fil-A, which is now ranked number five after surpassing sales for Wendy's and Burger King in 2018. The limited-service chicken category continues to be a pacesetter for growth, led by a strong year from not only Chick-fil-A, but also Wingstop and Raising Cane's. "Propelled by the improved performance of many of the industry's largest players, the top 500 chains displayed resilience in 2018," said Kevin Schimpf, Technomic industry research manager. "Despite diminishing customer foot traffic, labour challenges and volatile operating conditions, the top 500 chains were still able to achieve stronger sales growth in 2018 than what we observed the prior year." The report also found fast casual remains the fastest-growing segment, increasing its sales 7.3% in 2018. Sales growth for casual dining rebounded to 1.3% in 2018, after dipping to 0.3% in 2017, while new location growth among the top 500 companies fell to a rate of 0.7% in 2018.
 
Digital Services Tax must be used to boost high streets, says UKHospitality: Revenues raised by the new Digital Services Tax must be used to offset crippling business rates bills, UKHospitality has said. Welcoming the proposal to launch a consultation as a “good first step to providing fairness”, UKHospitality also called on the government to use revenues raised to offset rates bills for high-street businesses. Chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “This is not an attempt to stifle technological development, which has provided benefits for hospitality and wider society, but to ensure the modern tax system reflects modern business. We need the government to go further and use revenues raised by the new tax to slash extortionately high business rates on the high street rather than let it disappear into Treasury coffers. Hospitality businesses have been crippled by rates and the government must act to ensure there is some fairness in the way businesses are taxed. If the tax burden is to be fair and proportionate, action must be taken to alleviate unfair burdens on high streets.”
  
Places available for 2019 Drinks Trade Regatta: Places are still available for the brewing industry’s annual sailing event, the Drinks Trade Regatta. Businesses taking part or that have expressed an interest include Oakman Inns and Restaurants, Beds and Bars, 1AGRM, C&C Group (Magners), Zonal, Christie & Co, Brew+Press, Sky, Young’s, Matthew Clark Bibendum, Golden Brick Pubs, Molson Coors, Clarke & Son and last year’s winner, Jagermeister. The 29th regatta will take place from Friday, 10 May to Sunday, 12 May on the Solent. Teams are asked to donate £1,000 to charity with the top three contributors able to donate a percentage (first place 50%, second 30% and third 20%) to a charity of their choice. Last year’s event saw 19 teams participate, with almost £25,000 raised for charity. The teams will depart from Port Solent, Portsmouth, on a fleet of Sunsail First 40s to Cowes on the Isle of Wight to compete in seven races over two days. Teams will also enjoy a barbecue at Cowes’ Royal Corinthian Yacht Club and a gala dinner at the Royal Yacht Squadron. The cost is £3,250 per yacht, which includes VAT and the £1,000 charity donation. Crews can be novices as Sunsail, which facilitates the event, can provide skippers for an additional cost. For more information, call Sunsail account manager Terry Hunt on 02392 222 221.
 

Company News:

Full-year turnover up at Brasserie Bar Co: Brasserie Bar Co, the operator of White Brasserie and Brasserie Blanc, saw annual turnover increase by 15.8% to £54m for the year ending 1 July 2018, with restaurant Ebitda reaching £7.3m. The company said despite well documented industry uncertainties its performance was in line with the previous year “reflecting the strength of the brands and the management team”. Between Brasserie Blanc and the White Brasserie Co the company served nearly 1.9 million meals – up by more than 250,000 on 2017 – a result it said was “built on a robust, quality-led and stable business”. The Mark Derry-led business, which currently operates 19 Brasserie Blancs and 17 White Brasseries, said its strategy to focus on White Brasserie pubs and Brasserie Blanc hotel locations had taken shape and represented a move away from the “congested high street and a focus on more captive audiences within local communities”. The company, which had previously been in the mix to acquire Peach Pub Company, said this approach had been key in enabling it to buck current market trends. Two new pubs were added to the White Brasserie portfolio in December 2017 and February 2018, in Thame and Histon. The company said with renewed emphasis placed on site design, “results have been outstanding with both sites operating in the top quartile of the company’s sales from the outset”. A new White Brasserie pub will open in Horsham this spring. Towards the end of the year, the group disposed of the Brasserie Blanc in St Albans to the Ivy Collection for a premium to assist with the reshaping of the business away from crowded high streets. The company said: “Management has embarked on a number of efficiency projects over the past 12 months embracing purchasing, food production and margin control, people on-boarding, training and retention. In order to give these projects the best opportunity for success, there has been a senior team reshuffle. Richard Ferrier, in his new role of chief commercial officer, is responsible for driving these projects to a successful conclusion. Chris Guy, with a wealth of industry experience, has joined as finance director to strengthen the senior team. Helen Melvin, the long-term finance director, has taken on a newly created role of people director in a business that now employs in excess of 1,300 individuals. Paul Van Zijl, group operations director, has streamlined the operational team as the pub business has grown to represent nearly half of the estate and approaching 60% of group Ebitda.”

Disco Bars Group diversifies as it buys nine MFA Bowl UK sites out of administration: Staffordshire-based Disco Bars Group, led by Pete Terry, has diversified into the bowling sector after acquiring nine MFA Bowl UK sites out of administration. Disco Bars Group will operate the venues under its new Disco Bowl venture. MFA Bowl UK suddenly closed some of its centres last week with Duff & Phelps appointed as administrators. The nine MFA Bowl UK centres acquired in the deal are in Nottingham, Southend, Chatham, Lewisham, Weymouth, Nuneaton, Scunthorpe, Sunderland and Worcester. Terry told Grimsby Live: "It’s no secret we had been looking at the MFA Bowl UK estate before it fell into administration, but we felt the problems of the previous company were too great to overcome. Our new company can operate with a clean sheet and looks forward to investing heavily in these nine sites once we have agreed long-term deals with the landlords. All previous bookings will be honoured in full." Phil Duffy, joint administrator at Duff and Phelps, said: "This is tremendous news for the staff and loyal customers of MFA Bowl (UK) and we are delighted to have saved some of the most iconic bowling alleys in the south as well as sites in the north west and north east." Disco Bars operates six venues in the Midlands and the north – the Kiki Manchester and the Society, Bamboogy and Manhattans brands in Ashby de la Zouch, Leek, Uttoxeter, Bolton and Wigan.
 
Brunning & Price opens second pub with rooms: Brunning & Price, the gastro-pub division of The Restaurant Group, has opened its second pub with rooms. The company has relaunched The Highdown in Goring-by-Sea, near Worthing, in West Sussex following an extensive refurbishment. The pub has been restored to its former glory and features a large bar offering local ale and fine wine and a back bar with a vast collection of gin and malts. The wooden panelling has been restored, which has been joined by new flint-clad walls adorned with local interest paintings and photography. Upstairs is a private dining room that seats 14 guests while the Tea Room has been transformed, serving light snacks and cakes and take-out refreshments. There are also 13 bedrooms, along with a residents' lounge. Brunning & Price has 71 pub restaurants across the UK. Last year, it made its first foray into accommodation when it opened The Arrow Mill in Alcester, Warwickshire.

3Sixty relocates Liverpool Ego restaurant of 18 years to M&B pub outside city: 3Sixty Restaurants, led by James Horler, is relocating its Ego restaurant in Liverpool, which has been in Hope Street for 18 years, to outside the city. The Punchbowl in Sefton Village will serve as the restaurant’s new home as it looks to grow the brand in “pub locations throughout the country”. The pub is currently home to Mitchells & Butlers’ Vintage Inns brand. In August last year, M&B formed a joint partnership with 3Sixty after buying Luke Johnson’s minority stake. In an email to customers, Ego, which has 16 restaurants, said the move follows “18 wonderful years in the city centre”. The messages read: “We are excited to announce we are relocating our city centre restaurant in Hope Street to The Punchbowl in Sefton Village. The decision to move from Hope Street was taken to further grow our Ego brand in pub locations throughout the country. We will miss you, but hope to see many of you at The Punchbowl later this year!” Ego at The Punchbowl, which will feature an open kitchen alongside a bar serving beer, regional cask ale and cocktails, is expected to open in mid-May, reports Your Move Liverpool. The pub in Lunt Road is on the original site of the Grand National Steeplechase course.
 
Papa John’s franchisee opens his 12th site, in Milton Keynes, with two more in pipeline: Papa John’s franchisee Tony Singh has opened his 12th site for the pizza brand, in Wolverton, Milton Keynes. Papa John’s UK is based in Milton Keynes, which is also home to the company’s pizza dough factory that supplies about 400 franchised units across the UK on a daily basis. Singh said: “I joined Papa John’s as a franchisee in 2002 and with the help of my managers currently run 12 Papa John’s stores in London and around Milton Keynes, with plans to open two more next year. Wolverton is a great location for us as we can now respond to demand more easily to the north of Milton Keynes. Before joining Papa John’s I worked for a rival pizza company, learning the trade as a delivery driver for seven years. This experience was invaluable and helped me starting out as I understood the business from the bottom-up – particularly the importance of excellent customer service.” Papa John’s has more than 400 sites across the UK.
 
SSP brings Mother Clucker to Stansted as part of rotating street food residency at The Camden Bar & Kitchen: SSP Group, the UK-based transport hub foodservice specialist, is updating its offer at London Stansted airport’s The Camden Bar & Kitchen with the addition of buttermilk-fried chicken specialist Mother Clucker. Mother Clucker is the latest brand to join The Camden Bar & Kitchen, which opened at the airport in August. Every six months, The Camden Bar & Kitchen will bring customers a fresh taste of London’s street food scene. Mother Clucker launched five years ago from a converted US Army ambulance called the Cluck Truck. In May last year it opened its debut bricks-and-mortar site, in Exmouth Market. Lucy Knowles, group marketing director at SSP UK & Ireland, said: “We’re delighted The Camden Bar & Kitchen will be featuring signature dishes from one of London’s most exciting street food names. We look forward to working together with Mother Clucker to enhance our offer at Stansted and provide passengers with an even more exciting experience.” Mother Clucker co-founder Ross Curnow added: “Since we began Mother Clucker, we’ve prided ourselves on bringing the best southern fried chicken and cajun fries to the people of London and I’m excited to say that we’ll be feeding travellers within Stansted thanks to SSP.” The Camden Bar & Kitchen is also working with Grind, the independent coffee and cocktail bar, serving its roasted coffee beans to passengers travelling through Stansted.

LabTech unveils redevelopment plans for Buck Street Market: LabTech, owner of Camden Market, has unveiled plans for the redevelopment of Buck Street Market, due to launch this summer. Comprising 52 recycled shipping containers, Buck Street,] will expand on Camden Market’s retail and dining offer. Realised by Urban Space Management and architect Eric Reynolds, Buck Street Market is located next to Camden Town tube station. At 12,000 square foot across three levels, the new market will house up to 80 independent traders, including many that currently inhabit the existing site, as well as a market hall. It will also feature a rooftop garden, illuminated greenhouse and a communal space for wellness including yoga classes and botanical workshops. Maggie Milosavljevic, LabTech’s food and beverage commercial director, said: “Buck Street has been created to complement the existing Camden Market but will establish its own community of independent retailers, street food and social enterprises.” The launch of Buck Street Market follows LabTech’s vision for Hawley Wharf Camden; a 580,000 square foot mixed-scheme development due to open in September. The canal-side mixed-use development will provide 150 shops, more than 60 bars and restaurants, 195 apartments and 50,000 square foot of co-working space. LabTech acted on behalf of Buck Street Market and Colliers International represents Hawley Wharf Camden.

BrewDog backs Coffee Apothecary to start expansion with second site: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has invested in coffee shop concept The Coffee Apothecary, which is based near the village of Udny Green, five miles from its headquarters in Ellon, Aberdeenshire. BrewDog has supplied funding to enable Coffee Apothecary founders Ali and Jonny Aspden to open a second site, at a former charity shop in Ellon. The move sees Equity Punks receive a 5% discount at Coffee Apothecary’s stores. BrewDog stated in its blog: “Ali and Jonny share our philosophy of bringing down barriers. As with craft beer, coffee is undergoing a modern-day revolution. Attitudes are changing as people discover the vast array of flavours, regions and growers. We have keyed into Ali and Jonny’s spirit of creating somewhere they would like to enjoy a coffee or a drink by fitting out Ellon Coffee Apothecary with five taps, which in time will pour BrewDog beer brewed less than a mile away, fitting their ethos of local sourcing perfectly.” The Coffee Apothecary also offers breakfast and lunch dishes cooked daily using local free-range meat, organic vegetables from four miles away and eggs from a free-range chicken run “down the road”.

Bravo Inns to open site in Newcastle-under-Lyme: North west pub operator Bravo Inns is to open a site in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire. The company has acquired the former Albion pub in High Street. The property is undergoing a complete renovation and will reopen before Easter under the name Mitchell’s, in honour of the Butt Lane-born creator of the Spitfire, Reginald Mitchell. Under its premises licence, granted by Newcastle Borough Council, the venue will be able to open daily from noon. It will close at 12.20am from Monday to Wednesday, 1.30am on Sunday and 2.30am Thursday to Saturday, reports Stoke on Trent Live. Bravo Inns operates about 40 sites in the north of England.

200 Degrees opens eighth site, in Lincoln: Nottingham-based coffee roaster and retailer 200 Degrees has opened its eighth site, in Lincoln. The company has opened the outlet in Sincil Street as part of the £12m Cornhill Quarter retail and leisure scheme. The 90-seater site, which features the company’s first courtyard, hosts 200 Degrees’ fifth barista school, which overlooks the coffee shop below. 200 Degrees operates two outlets in Nottingham and one each in Birmingham, Cardiff, Leeds, Leicester and Sheffield and is set to open a site in Manchester this year. Tom Vincent, who founded 200 Degrees with Rob Darby in 2012, said: “A lot of hard work has gone into the opening and we’ve had our fair share of glitches and tense moments. We’re excited to finally open and are honoured to become part of Lincoln’s thriving food and drink scene." In December 2017, 200 Degrees received £3m investment from Foresight Group. Darby told Propel at the time the funds would allow the company to expand to between 20 and 25 sites during the next three to five years as well as develop the wholesale side of the business. 
 
Atul Kochhar launches Kanishka in Mayfair: Michelin-starred chef Atul Kochhar has launched his latest venture, Kanishka, in Mayfair. The joint venture with Kanishka Holdings managing director Tina English has opened in Maddox Street exploring food from lesser-known regions in India, particularly the Seven Sister States in the east of the country and neighbouring nations such as Nepal, China and Bangladesh. Split across ground and basement floors, the 127-cover space includes a bar, terrace and 12-cover “garden room”. The restaurant is named after second century emperor Kanishka and decor includes topiary elephants and an antique front door. The menu includes dishes such as venison tartar with mustard oil mayonnaise, naan crouton and onions; and pan-seared seafood with Alleppey sauce and smoked cabbage. The drinks list includes cocktails and more than 50 types of whisky. Kochhar said: “Kanishka is a very exciting project. It’s a great opportunity to showcase Indian flavours alongside quality British produce while introducing London’s diners to the unique flavours of territories previously unexplored in the UK.” Kochhar won a Michelin star at Tamarind in Mayfair in 2001, leaving to launch Benares in 2002, which was awarded its own Michelin star four years later. He operates four restaurants in London, including Benares. He also operates a restaurant in Madrid, is an author and regularly appears on television, including as an investor in BBC Show My Million Pound Menu.
  
Former Cinnamon Club managing director to open south east Asian cafe in Fitzrovia for fourth London site: Former Cinnamon Club managing director Rohit Chugh is to open a south east Asian cafe in Fitzrovia, central London, for his fourth site in the capital. Chugh, who operates Indian street food restaurant Roti Chai in Marylebone as well as Indian restaurant Chai Ki and roadside-style bar and kitchen Toddy Shop, both in Canary Wharf, will launch Bambusa in Charlotte Street in mid-March at a site formerly occupied by cafe Mizuna. Breakfast dishes will include kewpie omelette sliders and fresh pastries, while the all-day menu will allow customers to build their own lunch to go. Options will include sushi rice and kimchi barbecue jackfruit. Fermentation and umami will also be a feature alongside seasonal specials and collaborations. The venue’s design will feature wood-clad walls, bamboo-green tiles, polished plaster and handcrafted metalwork. The cafe will feature a coffee and pastry counter to the front and another for build your own breakfast and lunch to go, while there will be seating for eight to eat in. Food and drinks will be served in sustainable sugar-cane packaging with delivery options planned for later in the year. Chugh opened Roti Chai in 2014 and Chai Ki a year later.
 
Live&Loud, backed by former Punch boss, passes half-way mark in £500,000 crowdfunding campaign: Live music specialist Live&Loud has passed the half-way mark in its £500,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube for expansion. The company, whose backers include former Punch chief executive Giles Thorley, matches hospitality venues and artists to make booking live gigs easier. Live&Loud is offering 5.78% equity in return for investment, which gives the company a pre-money valuation of £8.1m. So far, 37 investors have pledged £252,370 with 24 days of the campaign remaining. The pitch states: “The traditional methods of booking events are highly inefficient with communications going through an agent, manager or ‘the drummer’. Artists are usually paid in cash and there are delays in getting responses from venues, which we believe is due to every component being manual. The Live&Loud platform acts as a digital broker between artists and venues, which aims to make it easier to organise events. It allows artists to promote themselves and venues to find artists relevant to their needs. The two parties interact directly to plan, book, promote and update the gig. We work on a ‘freemium’ model to venues and charge 15% commission to artists on booking through the platform. We believe the Live Music Act amendment of 2015 has been game changing in allowing 121,300 UK premises to host live music without a live music licence. Research shows there’s 44% to 60% growth in sales when a venue hosts live music and 80% of customers stay longer if there is live music, while 70% will spend more. This investment will enable us to scale up our operation by growing our team as well as rolling out our UK-wide marketing campaign.” Live&Loud was founded by music veterans Mick and Ben Newton, while directors include former Sony Music chairman and EMI president Nick Gatfield, and Bond Aviation chief executive Peter Bond, a founder investor in Soho House.
 
Industry marketing director Victoria Searl launches data consultancy: Industry marketing director Victoria Searl has launched data consultancy We Are Data Hawks. Searl, who has held senior marketing and operations positions with brands including Revolution Bars Group, Café Rouge, TGI Friday’s, Strada, All Star Lanes and Byron was inspired to create We Are Data Hawks in response to increasingly challenging and unpredictable operating conditions. Searl said: “So many hospitality and retail brands are searching for the silver bullet that will drive sales without sacrificing margin or brand credibility, when increasingly often, the answers lie in data. With our Cat’sEye solution, we offer up-to-date access to behaviour or motivations wherever they are. We’ve already seen significant success within the retail sector, and it’s clear the opportunity for hospitality businesses is huge.”
 
Portsmouth-based brewer Staggeringly Good hits £300,000 crowdfunding target to quadruple capacity: Portsmouth-based brewer Staggeringly Good has hit its £300,000 target on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to quadruple capacity. The brewer is offering 10.71% equity in return for investment giving the company a pre-money valuation of £2.5m. So far, 439 investors have pledged £300,000 with seven days remaining. Staggeringly Good said it had achieved 100% year-on-year growth (£112,000 in April 2017 to £224,000 in April 2018; Ebitda £14,533.11). The company will use the funds to quadruple brewing capacity to meet demand, acquire its own canning line and grow its team to help increase sales. Staggeringly Good runs a taproom that is being expanded at its brewery site next to Portsmouth’s Fratton Park stadium and an annual beer festival, WarriorFest, set on HMS Warrior. The pitch states: “We started Staggeringly Good in 2015, brewing part-time on borrowed equipment, labelling bottles by hand in an old shipping unit. Three years on and we’ve established ourselves as one of England’s top 20 breweries (Untappd) and have grown into our own 11,000-litre brewery producing more than 250,000 pints in the past 24 months. But demand is high and, with only three full-time employees, we’re struggling to meet it. We’re looking for funding to expand our brewery to 44,000 litres, add our own canning line and look to grow our team to include dedicated salespeople and additional brewers. Our taproom served more than 37,000 beers in the past 12 months. We’re now expanding into the adjoining unit, adding ten taps for house and guest beers.”
 
CH&Co to merge Scottish business with Stirling caterer: Independent caterer CH&Co has announced it is to merge its Scottish business with Stirling-based Inspire Catering. Founded in 2008 by David Pease and Lorna McFarlane, Inspire Catering serves 14,000 customers daily across the workplace and education sectors. Pease and McFarlane will continue in their current roles and take responsibility for CH&CO’s existing contracts in Scotland. Pease said: “We are looking forward to combining our systems and ideas to build an even stronger business going forward.” CH&Co chief executive Bill Toner added: “For some time now we’ve had a strong desire to grow our market share and invest in Scotland. Inspire Catering is the ideal partner for us to achieve this and the merging of our Scottish businesses now makes us a significant and dynamic player in the Scottish market."

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