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Fri 17th May 2019 - Update: The Restaurant Group, Lucky Onion, 3Sixty Restaurants
TRG reports like-for-like sales up 2.8%: The Restaurant Group has reported “current trading is in line with our expectations with group like-for-like sales for the 19 weeks ended 12 May 2019 up 2.8%” – it holds its AGM today. The company added: “Total sales were up 57% in the period reflecting the benefit from the Wagamama acquisition and the record number of new Pubs and Concessions sites opened during 2018. In the period we saw strong performances from Wagamama which has continued to significantly outperform in its core UK market, and from our Pubs business, which consistently traded ahead of the pub restaurant sector. Our Concessions business traded well and we remain focused on optimising our Leisure business against the backdrop of a declining market. We are comfortable with the performance in the first 19 weeks of the current financial year and remain focused on realising the synergies from the Wagamama acquisition, executing on our multi-pronged growth strategy and optimising our Leisure business.”

Confusion surrounding food allergen labelling is ‘putting customers at risk’: Confusion surrounding food allergen labelling is putting customers at risk, according to new research by health and safety firm Navitas Group. The announcement follows backing by the Food Standards Agency for mandatory full ingredient labelling on food that is pre-packed for direct sale (PPDS). The study found almost half (48%) of those who look for allergen information when eating out aren’t “fully aware of different labelling regulations”. Almost one-quarter (23%) think labelling regulations for food freshly prepped and packaged in a food outlet for direct sale and food pre-packed off-site are the same, while 25% are unsure. Currently, food classed as PPDS doesn’t require allergens on labels, with customers expected to ask staff who, in turn, should have received allergen awareness training. More than half (53%) of respondents who look for allergen information look for information on a label first, while less than one-quarter (24%) ask staff first. Meanwhile, more than two-thirds (70%) expect to find allergen information on the label of food freshly prepared and packed for direct sale. More than four-fifths (86%) avoid restaurants where allergen information isn’t clear, while 83% expect kitchens to have technology and systems to minimise risk. More than three-quarters (77%) would be put off eating at food outlets that had breached allergen regulations in the past three months. Navitas Group chief executive Ben Gardner said: “Our research highlights why there needs to be mandatory full ingredient labelling for foods that are pre-packed for direct sale – the current system is simply inconsistent and causes confusion.”

Lucky Onion set to reopen Gloucestershire pub this summer: Cotswolds hotel and restaurant group The Lucky Onion is set to reopen a Gloucestershire pub this summer after its plans to revamp the property were approved. The company, owned by Julian Dunkerton, the entrepreneur behind high-street brand Superdry and Dunkertons Organic Cider, has been granted permission by Stroud District Council to transform the Crown Inn in Minchinhampton. The ground-floor pub, which has been shut for six years, is currently being refurbished while the first and second floors are being converted to flats, reports Punchline Gloucester. The Lucky Onion acquired the grade II-listed pub last year. The company is also refurbishing the George Hotel in Cheltenham and owns five other sites across the Cotswolds.

Robin Gill opens restaurant at Embassy Gardens development: Chef entrepreneur Robin Gill has opened a restaurant at the Embassy Gardens development on London’s South Bank. Darby’s, named after Gill’s father Earl “Darby” Gill, is next to the new £1bn US Embassy in Nine Elms. Darby’s differs from Gill’s other projects – Sorella, The Dairy and Counter Culture – which have focused on modern British and Italian food. Darby’s features an oyster bar and bakery and reflects his father’s time spent touring the US in the 1950s and early 1960s, especially Manhattan’s bars. Dishes such as Lady Hamilton cod on the bone are cooked over an open fire, while drinks include cocktails, house-made vermouth, Guinness and champagne. Gill said: “My dad certainly knew how to have a good time and a lot of that time was spent frequenting the bars of Manhattan. Darby’s is his kind of downtown place – somewhere for life to be lived to the fullest, with oysters on ice, pints of black, freshly made bread and the best ingredients we have at our fingertips in Britain and Ireland.” The restaurant is on the ground floor of the development, which includes 2,000 apartments and the SkyPool, a 25-metre outdoor swimming pool 35 metres up between two residential towers.

3Sixty relaunches Liverpool restaurant Ego as community pub outside city: 3Sixty Restaurants, led by James Horler, has reopened its Ego restaurant, which had been in Liverpool’s Hope Street for 18 years, in Sefton Village outside the city. The restaurant’s new home is at former pub The Punchbowl, which was part of Mitchells & Butlers’ Vintage Inns brand. In August last year, Mitchells & Butlers formed a partnership with 3Sixty after buying Luke Johnson’s minority stake. In an email to customers Ego, which has 16 restaurants, said: “The decision to move from Hope Street was taken to further grow our Ego brand in pub locations throughout the country.” Ego At The Punchbowl features an open kitchen and bar. The pub in Lunt Road is on the site of the original Grand National course. Robert Shaw, general manager of Ego At The Punchbowl, said: “We are incredibly excited for our future in Sefton Village.”

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