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Tue 21st May 2019 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Restaurant closures accelerate but wet-led pubs and bars bounce back: The number of restaurants in Britain fell 2.8% in the year to March 2019, the latest edition of the Market Growth Monitor from CGA and AlixPartners reveals, with high streets in the south of England, excluding London, hit especially hard. The figure equates to net closures of 768 restaurants in 12 months or about 15 a week. It marks a fifth successive quarter of decline in the sector, bringing to an end a boom period that saw the number of restaurants grow more than 15% between 2013 and 2018. The majority of closed sites were independents but group restaurants also fell, by 1.1%. The pace of closures for group operators was significantly higher in the south of England (2.8%) than in the north (0.4%), a sign restaurant levels have “reached saturation point in many southern towns and cities”. Group restaurant numbers on British high streets, meanwhile, fell 2.4% in the 12 months to March compared, with net openings of 1.8% in suburban areas. However, while restaurants struggled the Market Growth Monitor revealed a more positive picture for wet-led pubs and bars. Three years ago the report found closures in the sector were averaging 31 a week but the rate tumbled to 13 a week in the 12 months to March 2019. With premium and all-day bars performing particularly well, it suggests Britain’s long-term clear-out of unsustainable pubs may be nearing an end. CGA vice-president Peter Martin said: “CGA research has charted a remarkable surge in restaurants over the past decade but our latest Market Growth Monitor makes it clear the gold rush is over. Some distinctive and resolutely customer-focused restaurant groups continue to flourish but, for brands that have over-reached or lost sight of their proposition and purpose, there are undoubtedly more tough times ahead. Major challenges on British high streets, such as rising costs and declining footfall, are adding another layer of difficulty.” AlixPartners managing director Graeme Smith added: “The positive take on this clear-out is ambitious and well-resourced operators now have more headroom for growth and the Market Growth Monitor identifies bright prospects for many groups in the drink-led pub and bar space in particular. Brands that can deliver a compelling premium drinks offer and strike the right balance with food have all to play for in 2019 and beyond. The next 12 to 24 months offer an opportunity for well-funded restaurant groups to expand into prime sites at much reduced costs and, if you can catch the right consumer wave, the returns are impressive.”

Industry News:

Full speaker schedule confirmed for Propel summer conference and party, two free places for operators: The full speaker schedule for the Propel Multi Club summer conference and party has been confirmed. The event takes place on Thursday, 27 June at the Oxford Belfry, which is just off the M40. The speaker line-up is The NPD Group insights director Dominic Allport; Ted Kennedy, owner of Pebble Hotels and veteran operator of pub assets; Three Joes co-founder Tim Hall; Las Iguanas chief executive Mos Shamel; Remarkable Pubs managing director Elton Mouna; Think Hospitality founder James Hacon; Mario C Bauer, AmRest brand ambassador, Curtice Brothers co-founder and WhiteSpace partner; The Glee Club founder Mark Tughan; Graffiti Spirits Group founder Matt Farrell and Crepeaffaire founder Daniel Spinath. The conference will be followed by the summer party, with an evening barbecue, the Big Fat Quiz and the legendary sounds of DJ Big Lee. Operators can claim up to two free places by emailing Anne Steele at anne.steele@propelinfo.com. Rooms (bed and breakfast) are also available at £125 plus VAT and can be booked by emailing Anne.

Company News:

Landlords repossess four The Cat’s Pyjamas restaurants, first site bought out of administration: Landlords have repossessed four of The Cat’s Pyjamas sites but the business has been bought out of administration for the second time in seven months. Bradford-based businessman Aftab Ali has taken over the company’s remaining site, in Headingley, which was the first to open in 2015. The Otley Road premises shut in March after previous owner Alison White was declared bankrupt less than six months after her partner, Paul Baron, bought the business out of administration through a vehicle called Meow Hospitality. Now the Headingley venue will reopen on Thursday (23 May). The previous menu and pricing will remain, and the business will initially open from 5pm to 10pm, although a lunchtime service will be introduced at a later date. The Cat’s Pyjamas had further sites in Eastgate and Briggate in Leeds as well as in Harrogate and York – but these premises have been repossessed by their landlords and will not reopen. Ali has previously run food ventures in Bradford, including a pizzeria called Massimo’s and a restaurant called Cantina93. Cantina93, which was inside a converted grade II-listed pub, closed only weeks after opening in summer 2015. Ali told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “The Cat’s Pyjamas is a fantastic brand with good customer loyalty. I’ve eaten there many times before. We would like to expand, but slowly and steadily.” Lewis Business Recovery insolvency practitioner Gareth Lewis, who handled the administration and sale of The Cat’s Pyjamas, said: “I am delighted to confirm the sale of goodwill, intellectual property and owned assets of the Headingley site to The Cat’s Pyjamas Headingley, a newly formed company under the control of Aftab Ali. This will enable the reopening of the Headingley restaurant and allow The Cat’s Pyjamas to live on from the site where it all began in 2015.”

Deltic Group to transform Tiger Tiger sites into Garden of Eden concept: Deltic Group, the UK’s largest operator of premium late-night bars and clubs, is to launch a Garden of Eden-inspired concept at the three Tiger Tiger venues – in Manchester, Newcastle and Portsmouth – it acquired from Novus in November. The venues are set to relaunch in the summer as Eden, with the Manchester site spanning three floors of The Printworks. Eden will provide a “playground of sensory delights” and feature floral-themed interiors, botanical cocktails, a wood-fired grill and sourdough pizza. At night, Manchester’s Eden will offer three distinct nightclub experiences on the top floor – Hedonist in the main room, tunes from the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s in Genesis, and hip-hop and old-school tracks in Forbidden. Tiger Tiger’s private karaoke pods will remain, renamed as Voice Of Eden. Eden Manchester general manager Doug Waldron told the Manchester Evening News: “We are hugely excited to bring this new, botanical-inspired, all-day destination concept to Manchester. We want to create a paradise in the city where people can escape to, no matter the time of day.” Novus launched the Tiger Tiger brand in Haymarket, London, in December 1998.

Nottingham-based multi-site pub operator gets 11-year ban for inaccurate tax returns nearing £7m: Nottingham-based multi-site pub operator Kirpal Rathaur has been banned from running companies for 11 years after submitting inaccurate documents to tax authorities amounting to almost £7m. Edward & Moore Limited operated nine pubs trading under its name in Nottingham and Derby. Rathaur, 51, from Nottingham, was the appointed director at the same time as Edward & Moore was incorporated in September 2009. The company entered into a creditors’ voluntary liquidation in November 2018 owing almost £6.9m to creditors. The liquidation triggered an investigation by the Insolvency Service, which established that between February 2010 and November 2014, Rathaur caused Edward & Moore to submit inaccurate returns to the tax authorities, generating an outstanding shortfall of almost £7m. The Insolvency Service found Rathaur also falsely took Edward & Moore off the business tax list in March 2015 and caused the company to continue trading until liquidation and, because the company hadn’t been paying business tax for several years, the company built up liabilities of £7.9m. For the life of the company, Rathaur also failed to maintain and/or preserve adequate accounting records, which meant it was impossible to establish what happened to the £7.9m in unpaid taxes, how much in total was owed to the company’s creditors, including the tax authorities, and how much money Rathaur withdrew from the company. Rathaur has been banned for 11 years from directly or indirectly becoming involved, without the permission of the court, in the promotion, formation or management of a company. Martin Gitner, Insolvency Service deputy head of investigations, said: “Directors can’t pick and choose what taxes they want to pay. An 11-year disqualification is a substantial ban and demonstrates our commitment to investigate and ban those directors who abuse the tax systems and their responsibilities.” Accountancy firm BDO released figures this week revealing more than one-quarter (26%) of businesses named and shamed by HMRC as “deliberate tax defaulters” since it started publishing the list in December 2017 have been restaurants or takeaways.

Cake and catering studio Laura’s London launches £200,000 crowdfunding campaign to roll out immersive cafes: Cake and catering studio Laura’s London has launched a £200,000 campaign on crowdfunding platform Seedrs to roll out “premium and immersive cafes” in the capital. The company, founded by Laura Timson in April 2016, is offering 27.97% equity in return for the investment, which gives the company a pre-money valuation of £515,000. Laura’s London supplies products to Fortnum & Mason, while Timson has more than 10,000 followers on social media and was baking columnist for the Evening Standard. With one employee (Timson), Laura’s London had a turnover of more than £43,000 in 2018, up from £20,000 in 2017, with a gross profit margin of 83% during the period. The £200,000 investment would be spent on launching a debut cafe, in west London. The pitch states: “From the enjoyment and success of catering for high-profile clients, I’m now looking to expand and diversify the brand into the £89.5bn eating-out industry. I plan to roll out premium and immersive cafes that not only offer my cakes but also an all-day dining, drinking and social experience for London. We aim for Laura’s London Cafes to be synonymous with beautifully designed interiors, where every space, plate of food, cup of coffee and glass of champagne is Instagrammable. To complement this we will provide a curated all-day menu and a mixologist to provide elegantly produced cocktails that sit alongside our food. Our cafes will not only be a place to eat and drink they will offer lifestyle experiences for customers such as supper clubs, renting the space for events and workshops such as floristry, cake-making and decorating courses. We believe this is a scalable concept and we would be looking at the successes of companies such as Farm Girl and Grind for inspiration. For the first site I am currently looking at viable locations in Chelsea, Notting Hill and Fulham. I would then plan for expansion every 12 to 18 months in locations throughout London, with the hope of bringing the brand nationwide.”

Pret adds former McDonald’s Europe president to board as it appoints three independent non-executive directors: Pret A Manger has announced the appointment of three independent non-executive directors as it adds further experience from across the foodservice industry to its board. Denis Hennequin was president of McDonald’s Europe between 2005 and 2010 and chief executive of Accor SA from 2011 to 2013. He has also served as a director of a number of businesses, including John Lewis, Eurostar and UK-based transport hub foodservice specialist SSP Group. Aileen Richards was formerly global head of people for Mars and has also held senior roles in procurement and manufacturing. In 2015 she became the first woman to serve on the board of the Welsh Rugby Union. She is currently a director of Samworth Brothers. Tim J Smith was previously chief executive of the Food Standards Agency and group quality director at Tesco. His 40 years in the industry include leadership roles at Express Dairies and Arla Foods. Smith was appointed chairman of Pret’s food advisory panel in October. Pret chairman Olivier Goudet said: “These appointments will provide a solid foundation for Pret’s future growth in Europe and beyond. Denis, Aileen and Tim join a strong Pret team, led by Clive Schlee, dedicated to delivering Pret’s winning recipe of freshly made food and fast, friendly service.”

Six by Nico to make England debut, in Manchester: Six by Nico, the restaurant concept led by Scottish-Italian chef Nico Simeone, is set to make its debut in England – in Manchester. The business launched its third restaurant earlier this year, in Belfast, and is understood to have lined up the former Roc & Rye unit in Manchester’s Spring Gardens for an opening this year. The concept, which launched two years ago in Glasgow, is also thought to be considering a move into London, with Fitzrovia a possible destination. The company, which also operates a site in Edinburgh, opened in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter in March. The concept is based on a revolving culinary hub as every six weeks Simeone and his team “reinvent the wheel – serving a new six-course tasting menu, each one themed on a different place, memory or idea”. The company stated: “Drawing inspiration from home and abroad, Nico and his team will combine different ingredients, flavours and dishes to bring memories and stories to a new dining experience every six weeks.”

City Pub Group reports 35% year-on-year increase in sales: City Pub Group has reported total sales increased 35% in the 19 weeks to 12 May. It has 45 sites trading and the size of the estate, once pubs are developed and opened, will increase to 50 sites. The company stated: “We have completed the acquisition of The Hoste in Burnham Market, north Norfolk, which will continue to trade in its current format. This is a 53-bedroom site with spa, cinema and gym, which is close to our two sites in Norwich. Aragon House will fully open to the public next week. Following some delays with planning, the major refurbishment is almost complete. We are very excited about the opening of this prestigious site, which will include 15 new bedrooms. We have completed the acquisition of a freehold site in Bath, formerly known as The Nest, which is expected to reopen following significant refurbishment in late 2019 or early 2020. Investment and development is ongoing at three additional freehold sites – The Tivoli in Cambridge, the Market House in Reading and our recently acquired pub in Exeter.” Executive chairman Clive Watson said: “We have enjoyed continued strong momentum since the start of the year. While still early in the year, the board believes the group is well placed to meet its expectations for the year as a whole. We have a range of excellent and high-quality sites we have acquired to come on stream. We are continuing to seek further pubs in southern England and Wales to build the estate and achieve our target of 65 to 70 sites by mid-2021. We enjoy a strong balance sheet, which enables quick and decisive decision-making to purchase development sites or existing trading sites that can be improved in a softening market for acquisitions.”

De Fazio opens Italian restaurant at former Cau site in Wimbledon for third London venue: Restaurateur Ray De Fazio has opened an Italian restaurant in Wimbledon for his third site in London. Cent Anni has launched in the former Cau site in Wimbledon Village High Street offering a modern Italian menu. The 100-cover site offers dishes such as fillet of beef carpaccio with Parmesan ice cream and micro herbs, and seared yellowfin tuna pizza with ponzu sauce, Hot Dinners reports. There is an international wine list alongside classic cocktails. De Fazio is also behind neighbourhood brasserie Cafe Med in St John’s Wood and Med Kitchen in Kensington. Cau closed late last year after parent company Gaucho entered administration. 

Des McDonald to launch collaborative restaurant in Hackney next month: Restaurateur Des McDonald is to launch a restaurant next month in collaboration with New City College Hackney in east London. OKN1 will open on Wednesday, 12 June and connect student chefs with professionals to kick-start their careers. They will collaborate in the kitchen to produce brunch, lunch and dinner menus. The brunch menu will feature sourdough toasties, and flatbread and egg sections with dishes such as Mediterranean eggs with yogurt, chilli and garlic butter. The lunch menu will swap the egg dishes for savouries and salad sections, while the dinner menu will have grilled and dessert sections with main dishes such as shrimp burger with tartar. There will also be an all-day bakery counter offering cakes and pastries at the college in Hoxton Street, while OKN1 will host residencies and partner events and feature a terrace overlooking the college gardens. McDonald spent 20 years with Caprice Group, the last 12 as managing director and group chief executive, notably overseeing the acquisition and running of Soho House Group and Annabel’s Group. Since branching out on his own in January 2012, he has opened a number of his own restaurants and launched consultancy Des McDonald Associates. The team is working on projects in Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, York, Manchester and London, its website states.

SSP partners with Michelin-starred bistro Jardin de Jade at Hong Kong airport: SSP Group, the UK-based transport hub foodservice specialist, has signed a five-year contract to open Michelin-starred Asian bistro Jardin de Jade at Hong Kong International airport. Launched in Shanghai in 1999, Jardin de Jade was awarded a Michelin star in 2015 and has expanded to 23 sites in Beijing, Hangzhou, Suzhou, Hong Kong and Macau. The latest site has opened in the airport’s East Hall, with the menu focusing on regional Chinese specialities with an emphasis on Shanghai cuisine. Dishes include shrimp ball with salted egg yolk and house special braised pork. The venue features digital LCD screens and interactive smart tables, which include an ordering system and games for families to play while waiting for their food. For travellers with shorter dwell times, Jardin de Jade offers small plates and snacks and a bar serving wine, craft beer and cocktails. SSP Asia-Pacific chief executive Mark Angela said: “We are delighted to work with Jardin de Jade to give passengers at Hong Kong International a real taste of regional Chinese cuisine. With cooking and interior design that combine the best elements of the modern and traditional, Jardin de Jade will provide a truly memorable dining destination for travellers.”

Merlin Entertainments to open first Madame Tussauds franchise: Merlin Entertainments is to open its first Madame Tussauds franchise, in Prague, as part of a move to open up new territories for the brand. The franchise partner, Wax Museum – Svet Zabavy, owns and operates Prague Wax Museum. The franchise agreement will give Prague Wax Museum access to the Madame Tussauds brand as part of the Czech company’s planned multimillion-euro refurbishment of the central Prague attraction. Merlin Entertainments franchise director Chris Scurrah said: “Merlin will be looking at other Madame Tussauds franchise opportunities around the globe in markets where the brand is not already present. Future partners are already being identified.” Wax Museum – Svet Zabavy director Zdenek Kocik added: “Work is advanced on the new attraction and we look forward to bringing the Madame Tussauds brand to Prague and making it a huge success.”

Gleneagles reports turnover boost but sees profits fall: Gleneagles, which is owned by Ennismore, has reported a turnover boost but has seen profits fall on the back of increased debt and one-off costs. The Perthshire hotel saw turnover rise 8% to £55,342,000 for the year ending 31 December 2018, compared with £51,206,000 the previous year. Operating profit at the five-star venue was up 40% to £3,498,000, compared with £2,514,000 the year before. However, pre-tax profit was down to £55,000 compared with £505,000 the previous year due to the impact of finance costs and one-off losses on disposal of assets. Dividends of £4m were paid to Ennismore, down from £63m the year before. Since Ennismore added Gleneagles to its collection of boutique hotels in 2015, it has embarked on a multimillion-pound refurbishment programme and the development and performance of the business in 2018 was “in line with expectations”. In his report accompanying the accounts, finance director David Kemp said: “The current business continues to see positive trading conditions. Our multimillion-pound refurbishment programme is continuing with the opening of our intimate new meeting and events space Ochil House, continued refurbishment of our food and beverage offering at the Dormy Clubhouse, redevelopment of our golf shop retail offering and further refurbishment of the hotel’s room stock. Alongside other current developments, including renovation of our flagship Strathearn restaurant, these renovations are set to further enhance Gleneagles’ position as a ‘glorious playground’ at the heart of the Scottish countryside.” Staff numbers rose to 1,015 from 938 the previous year. The total pay package of the highest-paid director rose to £442,000, up from £359,000 the previous year. The 232-bedroom hotel and golf resort was sold to Ennismore by Diageo, which had owned it for 31 years. The deal was thought to be valued at about £150m.

Derbyshire-based operator takes on fifth site: Derbyshire-based operator Kane Rowlett has opened his fifth site. Rowlett has partnered with Matthew Garlick to take on The City Bar in Derby. The Albert Street venue has undergone a refurbishment with new decor as well as an updated sound system and jukebox. Rowlett, who owns four other pubs around the county, told Derbyshire Live: “I heard through the grapevine The City Bar was coming up and I jumped on it straight away. I’ve always wanted a city centre bar, they trade better and they’re busier.”

Urban Pubs and Bars opens 20th site, in Balham: Urban Pubs and Bars, led by Nick Pring and Malcolm Heap, has opened its 20th site, at a former JD Wetherspoon pub in Balham, south London. The company has launched The Cyclist following a £400,000 refurbishment. It is the company’s third former JD Wetherspoon acquisition, following sites in Highgate and Stroud Green, and its seventh new venue in six months. In March, the company appointed Toby Cowan as operations director. Cowan has taken some of the day-to-day operations from Pring and Heap, allowing them to spend more time focusing on acquisitions and strategy. The company’s annual turnover is expected to hit circa £23m this year.

Goodbody – we expect to see continued like-for-like growth at M&B: Goodbody leisure analyst Paul Ruddy has said he expects to see continued like-for-like growth at Mitchells & Butlers (M&B). Issuing a ‘Buy’ note on the shares with a target price of 310p ahead of the company’s first-half results on Thursday (23 May), Ruddy said: “We forecast like-for-like sales growth of 2.7% for the first half, split quite evenly between food and drink. At the first-quarter stage, like-for-like sales growth was 4.7% helped by a very strong Christmas period (up 12.3%). This suggests an element of conservatism in our second-quarter forecast given it was lapping the Beast From The East but we would also note Coffer Peach data indicated a very soft January and February for the sector. We forecast adjusted Ebit slightly up year-on-year to £143m for the first half, with margins down by circa 20 basis points. Of the UK pubs in our coverage, we continue to prefer M&B. The group trades on 6.4 times EV/Ebitda and 6.7 times price-to-earnings ratio, at a discount to the peer group and its ten-year average valuation. Although we recognise M&B doesn’t pay a dividend, which represents a significant part of the total shareholder return for the other pubs, we believe the market is ignoring the fact the group will generate significant levels of cash in the coming years. We conservatively believe deleveraging could add 8% to equity value annually. We value M&B on a blend of EV/return on capital expenditure and 7.5 times FY19 EV/Ebitda, which yields a price target of 310p and a ‘Buy’ recommendation. We will also look for updates on the impact of various work streams, including menu initiatives, auto ordering and purchasing efficiencies through the Ignite 2 programme. We would like to see continued progress on reduction of net debt levels on a year-on-year basis. There is unlikely to be an update on the pension but we would again reiterate this could be a meaningful positive catalyst.”

Paul opens second Express site: French artisan bakery and patisserie Paul has opened its second Express site. The company has opened the outlet in Tottenham Court Road following the launch of the format in St Pancras in May last year. Next to Warren Street tube station, the 58 square foot Express shop focuses on quick service by offering a shorter breakfast and lunch range with new, hot grab-and-go options such as porridge, savoury croissants, sausage rolls and soup. Paul UK operations director Gary Cowles said: “We are excited about the scalability of this concept and we’re looking at further opportunities to roll out this model.”

Southampton-based independent restaurant goes into liquidation as increased competition from chains takes its toll: Southampton-based restaurant Bella Calabria Two has gone into liquidation after increased competition from chains took its toll on the business. The restaurant, which specialised in Italian food, was based in High Street and had been trading for 18 months. It was affected by a “number of setbacks”, according to business recovery firm Portland, which has been appointed to handle the liquidation. These included unexpected property costs and lower-than-expected customer volume. Portland director Mike Fortune told Insider Media: “The restaurant industry in the UK has seen many changes over the past few years, even more so in major cities such as Southampton, where there is significant local competition. We have seen, and assisted, a number of long-established independent local restaurants in recent years. Many of these have been forced to close and blame the increasing number of national chains that have opened across the city, including several in the multimillion-pound WestQuay Watermark development. This has given diners a vast choice of cuisines in multiple locations, which has meant restaurants need to remain more competitive, offer incentives, which can further lower turnover, or keep repositioning themselves so they remain relevant.”

Newcastle-based street food trader opens debut pizzeria: Newcastle-based street food trader Scream For Pizza has opened its first restaurant. Alex Walker and Vicky Featherby are a common site around the city, serving Neapolitan pizza from a vintage Peugeot J7 van. Now they have opened their debut restaurant, which has about 30 covers, in Starbeck Avenue. The pizzas, which include the Crab Thermidor that got Scream For Pizza through to the finals of the British Street Food Awards in 2015, are cooked in a wood-fired oven. Featherby told Chronicle Live: “We could have opened a more generic, cheaper pizzeria but we wanted to use this one as a flagship for our interesting toppings. We wanted to prove what we could do.”

Castle Street operators to showcase offer: Food and drink businesses in Liverpool’s Castle Street are to venture out on to the pavements to showcase the area’s growing offering. After a successful debut in 2018, Liverpool BID Company’s Celebrating Castle Street event will return to the city’s commercial district, on Friday, 31 May. Businesses such as Gino D’Acampo – My Restaurant, Liverpool Gin Distillery, Heritage, Castle St Townhouse and Olive will be involved. Bill Addy, chief executive of Liverpool BID Company and chairman of the Liverpool Visitor Economy Network, told Insider Media: “Celebrating Castle Street was a huge hit last year, with incredible participation from our BID levy payers and fantastic engagement from the public. Castle Street continues to evolve and grow, with new bars and restaurants joining us in 2019 and a great mix of local independents and popular chains sat side-by-side.”

North Yorkshire distillery opens store: Gin and rum-maker Harrogate Tipple has opened a retail shop at its North Yorkshire distillery. The outlet is next to The Boar’s Head pub in the village of Ripley. The opening follows the company’s acquisition of the distillery and head office from the Ripley Castle Estate and brings the firm’s total investment in its three-year history to date to more than £650,000. The purchase of the 4,000 square foot property is part of the company’s long-term growth plan, which also includes expansion of the corporate events business. Distiller Tom Nichol is a partner in the business, which was launched by Harrogate couple Steven and Sally Green in 2016. Steven Green told Insider Media: “We are really proud of the craft distilling we do in Ripley. Having already received many requests from gin aficionados eager to see our copper stills and have a peek behind the scenes of Harrogate’s only distillery, it was a natural step to build out a retail space and get a licence to sell to visitors and tourists.”

Burton-based micro-pub operator opens second site: Burton-based micro-pub operator Pete Spittles has opened his second site. He has launched Bodell’s in Swadlincote, Derbyshire. The former Moza HQ Indian restaurant in Belmont Street has been renamed after the town’s boxing legend, former British, European and Commonwealth heavyweight champion Jack Bodell. Memorabilia of Bodell, who ran a fish and chip shop in Coventry after he retired, which his friend and boxing legend Muhammad Ali opened, is displayed around the pub. Spittles, who also owns The Last Heretic in Burton, told Derbyshire Live: “I looked at three properties previously but none worked out. I was just waiting for the right opportunity.”

All-day Mediterranean-influenced restaurant and bar to open in Shoreditch next week: An all-day restaurant and bar inspired by British produce and the culinary traditions of London’s Mediterranean community is opening in Shoreditch High Street next week. Jim Fisher will launch Spelzini, which takes its name from his great-grandfather Luigi Spelzini, a fishmonger and grocer who moved to London in the 1890s from Liguria in Italy. Inspired by London’s historic Mediterranean bars and eateries, Spelzini will open on Friday, 31 May featuring illustrations by Fisher and his father surrounded by wooden sharing tables. The menu will include chickpea flour flatbread pizza, pasta and gastronomic sandwiches. Drinks will include wine, champagne, beer, aperitifs and vermouth cocktails. Spelzini will also regularly showcase special bottles of rare vermouth.

Diageo launches super-premium Italian gin: Diageo has launched super-premium Italian gin Villa Ascenti. Initially launching in 14 European countries, the roll-out follows the opening of a newly built distillery in Santa Vittoria in Italy’s Piemonte region. The super-premium and ultra-premium gin categories are the fastest-growing gins segments in Europe. In the UK, there has been a 38.6% increase by volume and 41.3% by value. Gin represents 4% of Diageo’s net sales and grew 28% during the first half of Diageo’s 2019 financial year, with Gordon’s and Tanqueray delivering strong double-digit growth and gaining share in Europe. Tanya Clarke, general manager of Diageo Reserve Europe, said: “Gin has been the runaway success story of the industry over the past decade and its growth trend shows no signs of slowing.”

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