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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Wed 12th Jun 2019 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Timothy Taylor ‘reviewing options’ for Harrogate Brasserie as it reports full-year turnover up 7%: Keighley-based brewer Timothy Taylor is exploring options for its Harrogate Brasserie site as it nears the completion of a restructure of its pub estate, Propel has learned. Timothy Taylor put Harrogate Brasserie, one of three properties in its managed division, on the market in October as it looked to focus on its brewing interests, which is the core part of its business. Speaking as the company released its results for the year ending 30 September 2018, chief executive Tim Dewey told Propel beer sales in the current financial year were up and it was continuing to grow market share, with its flagship Landlord brand performing strongly. Harrogate Brasserie remains on the market and Dewey said it was now reviewing options for the site, which it bought in 2016. He added: “Our skills are in brewing beer rather than running managed houses so we took the decision last year to change our focus from managed houses to tenancies. As a result, we converted The Devonshire in Grassington to tenanted and decided to sell Harrogate Brasserie because we didn’t feel we could develop it to its full potential. The tenanted side of the business is doing well and is stable because we have long-term partners running those pubs who have that expertise.” The announcement comes as Timothy Taylor reported revenue increased 7% to £23,704,294 for the year ending 30 September 2018, compared with £22,187,485 the year before. Operating profit was down to £1,551,024, compared with £2,537,958 the previous year, while pre-tax profit fell to £1,741,335 compared with £2,742,083 the year before, according to accounts filed at Companies House. Since the year end, the company has closed the Burlington Arms in Keighley, leaving it with 16 tenanted pubs. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “The board has taken the decision to restructure its pub estate and has therefore revalued the carrying value of certain outlets, resulting in a reduction in operating profit. Sales of Landlord were very strong in the year, with sales continuing to grow outside our traditional Yorkshire heartland.”

Industry News:

Roy Ellis to feature in next video for Propel Premium subscribers: Mission Mars chief executive Roy Ellis will feature in the next 30-minute video for Propel Premium subscribers, which will be sent out on Friday (14 June). Ellis talks about finding a funding partner, the BGF, to facilitate expansion of the company’s bar brand, Albert’s Schloss, and pizza business, Rudy’s. Propel Premium subscribers also receive their morning newsletter 11 hours early, at 7pm the evening before our 6am send-out, discounts to attend Propel conferences and events, regular video recordings of key speakers from Propel events and conferences, and regular columns from insights editor Mark Wingett. They also receive access to our database of multi-site companies, which has now grown to 1,400 businesses. An annual premium subscription costs £345 plus VAT for operators and £445 plus VAT for suppliers – plus £50 each for additional team members. Email

Weather weaves a tale of two bank holidays for pubs and restaurants: Customers’ restaurant experiences were better on the first May bank holiday than the second, while the opposite was true for the pub and bar sector, according to the latest Feed It Back social review tracker. The statistics, taken from thousands of social reviews across the restaurant, quick service and pub industries, analysed data from the two bank holidays in May, the first of which experienced bad weather while the sun shone during the second. The data highlighted the average social review score of restaurants fell from 4.3 on the first bank holiday to 4.2 on the second. This drop was driven by all channels, with Facebook’s average review score falling from 4.8 to 4.7, while TripAdvisor’s dropped from 4.0 to 3.9 and Google’s was down from 4.0 to 3.9. Conversely, the average social review score of pubs and bars increased from 4.1 on the first bank holiday to 4.2 on the second. The rise was driven by Facebook, which rose from 4.3 to 4.4, and TripAdvisor (3.9 to 4.0). Digging deeper, the data revealed a positive correlation between restaurant businesses performing better when the weather is bad and pub and bars when the weather is good. Words such as “atmosphere” and “garden” were key drivers behind positive reviews of pubs and bars on the second bank holiday, whereas “cold” was a prominent driver of negative reviews on the first bank holiday. Looking at the complete month of May, the overall social review rating for the restaurant sector held firm at 4.2, with Facebook seeing continued monthly increases and rising to 4.7, up from 4.6 in April. During the same period, the pub and bar sector’s average social review score moved up to 4.3, an increase driven by Google’s average social review score, which also rose to 4.3, up from 4.2 in April. Feed It Back chief executive Carlo Platia said: “Good weather doesn’t automatically lead to happy customers. The increased cover capacity good weather provides, for pubs, bars and restaurants with outdoor areas, brings with it inflated operational pressure on the kitchen and waiting staff we have, historically, seen negatively impact the online reputation of businesses. Wait times are one of the single biggest drivers of negative reviews across both industries so these high social ratings indicate pubs and bars and restaurants have done a great job of keeping wait times at a minimum and customers happy over the high-pressure bank holiday trading days. As we enter summer, it will be interesting to see if this trend continues.” This data is part of a regular report Feed It Back runs across social reviews. To sign up for a monthly copy, email 

Amazon to shut restaurant delivery service in US just weeks after Deliveroo investment: Amazon is shutting its restaurant delivery service in the US – just weeks after investing in Deliveroo. Amazon Restaurants launched in Seattle in 2015 before expanding to more than 20 US cities and then London. The service allowed Amazon Prime members to get meals delivered to their door using the Amazon Restaurants website or the Prime Now shopping app. However, Amazon ended the service in London in November and will now curtail the US operation this month, reports GeekWire. Amazon said: “As of 24 June, we will discontinue the Amazon Restaurants business in the US. Many of the small number of employees affected by this decision have already found new roles at Amazon, while others will be provided personalised support to find a new role within, or outside, the company.” Amazon will also shut down Daily Dish, a workplace lunch delivery service that launched in 2016, on Friday (14 June). The move comes less than a month after Amazon led a $575m funding round for Deliveroo. Amazon previously cut Amazon Restaurants jobs in January 2018 but was expanding the delivery service to new cities earlier this year. Amazon has dabbled in food delivery since launching grocery delivery service AmazonFresh in Seattle more than a decade ago. The company launched a takeout service in 2014 that let customers use the now-defunct Amazon Local app to order food for pick-up. Amazon then began allowing customers to order food via Amazon Local directly from restaurants, which delivered the meals.

Whisky category to hit £2.44bn by 2022: The whisky category will return to growth during the coming year and be worth £2.44bn by 2022, up from £2.31bn in 2018, according to a new report by Scotland-based spirits company Edrington-Beam Suntory UK. The first Edrington-Beam Suntory UK Whisky Yearbook forecasts the principal driver of sales growth will be single-malt scotch, with the category predicted to grow in value from £394m in 2018 to £439m in 2022 as a result of new “accessibly priced” single malts entering the market and the price gap closing between single malts and blends – encouraging more blends drinkers to “trade up”. Single-malt drinkers are also showing signs of trading up, according to the report, as they explore limited editions and premium releases. American whiskey sales are forecast to rise from £688m in 2018 to £742m in 2022 despite uncertainty over current tariffs, with growth driven by premium brands. Irish whiskey sales are forecast to rise £28.5m to hit £163.9m by 2022 as the supply of Irish whiskey into the UK market eases. Sales of single-grain whisky, meanwhile, are forecast to almost double from £21.5m in 2018 to £42.1m in 2022. Growth in sales of Japanese whisky will also accelerate in the next three years, to £11.7m by 2022, with greater volume available for export. Canadian whisky will grow to become a £9.0m category by 2022, the yearbook stated. Mark Riley, managing director of Edrington-Beam Suntory UK, said: “Scotch single malt and American whiskey will drive growth. Both are seeing customers trade up as they explore the categories, which is supporting the increase in the value and volume of sales. Irish and single-grain whiskies have been success stories over the past 12 months. We expect both to play a greater role in shaping the wider market. The supply challenges that have arguably held back growth in Japanese and Canadian whiskies have eased. While there remains a challenge securing enough liquid from leading brands from both nations to satisfy UK demand, there is far greater supply forecast and we predict we will see growth as a result.”

Flexibility key to ensuring T-levels tackle skills shortage: A flexible system that promotes learning and careers at a young age is key to ensuring T-levels are effective in tackling the sector’s skills shortage, UKHospitality has said. The trade body’s call came in response to the government’s review of post-16 qualifications. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “If younger people are to learn, grow and achieve their potential in rewarding careers, the education system needs to be versatile and effective. This is particularly important for the hospitality sector. UKHospitality’s Workforce Commission 2030 report identified a need for a better system of communicating the benefits of a career in hospitality to students and school leavers. We are facing a skills shortage and the next generation of sector leaders needs to be discovered. T-levels can best achieve this if the system is flexible, with education and apprenticeships closely linked. Hospitality is a diverse and exciting sector and it can provide opportunities to nurture learning and skills development that some young people may have missed.” 

Leon and Pizza Pilgrims among Carnaby operators to sign up for new ocean-friendly initiative: Natural fast food brand Leon and Pizza Pilgrims, founded by brothers Thom and James Elliot, are among the first operators to sign up for a new ocean-friendly initiative. Launched in London’s Carnaby by landlord Shaftesbury in partnership with ocean and conservation organisation Project 0, the Blue Turtle mark will be awarded to restaurants, bars and cafes that work towards being “ocean friendly”. Other Carnaby operators to sign the pledge are street food restaurant The Good Egg, Camm & Hooper brand Whyte & Brown, Asian fusion concept Ugly Dumpling, and Caribbean beach shack concept the Rum Kitchen. The initiative aims to reduce single-use plastic and encourage businesses to adopt more sustainable practices. A toolkit provides Shaftesbury’s tenants with information on where to source sustainable products, services and suppliers.

Company News:

Foxlow to close remaining sites: Foxlow, the neighbourhood restaurant from the founders of high-end steak brand Hawksmoor, is to shut its two remaining sites. Co-owner Will Beckett said the venues in Balham and Clerkenwell would close on Friday, 28 June as the company focuses on Hawksmoor. The group closed Soho Foxlow in April and sold the lease following the closure of Foxlows in Chiswick and Stoke Newington last year. Beckett, who owns both businesses with Hugh Gott, said: “After a fantastic six years we have made the decision to close the two remaining Foxlow restaurants. Once Soho closed, we started to receive further offers. We decided to sell Foxlow Clerkenwell and simultaneously close the Balham restaurant, which seems better to us than continuing to trade and leaving staff, suppliers and customers in a period of uncertainty. We’ll now focus on making sure those people are looked after in the right way. In the end we couldn’t see a future where Foxlow grew as a business. With Foxlow closed we will be able to focus exclusively on Hawksmoor, which continues to be extremely successful, and we are very proud it continues to thrive and grow. Many of the people who worked in Foxlow restaurants are moving over to Hawksmoor to continue to build their careers, which we believe is testament to the exceptional culture we have.” Davis Coffer Lyons has been appointed to oversee the sale of the Foxlow restaurants. The Balham premises, in Bedford Hill, are held on a lease expiring in 2028 at a passing rent of £161,500 per annum exclusive, subject to five-yearly, upward-only rent reviews. The Clerkenwell site, in St John Street, occupies the ground floor and basement and is also leasehold. Beckett and Gott founded Hawksmoor in 2006, which has grown to eight sites in London, Manchester and Edinburgh and is set to open its first overseas venue, in New York this year.

Ground Espresso Bars to enter England and Scotland via Patisserie Valerie sites in Next stores: Northern Ireland coffee shop Ground Espresso Bars is extending its partnership with department store Next, which will see it operate in England and Scotland for the first time. Ground Espresso Bars, which launched in Coleraine almost two decades ago, is taking over eight units within Next stores that were formerly occupied by Patisserie Valerie. The cafes will initially open at Next stores in London, Manchester and Cheltenham and are expected to be ready for business by the end of the month. Plans are also being developed to open in four other locations before the end of the summer – at Glasgow Silverburn, Stirling, Glasgow Central and Edinburgh. The move is part of an ambitious wider expansion plan that may result in Ground Espresso Bars being opened in more than 50 Next stores in the next two years. Darren Gardiner, co-founder of Ground Espresso Bars, told the Belfast Telegraph: “Next feels we sit well with its brand and it has identified more than 50 stores where it would like us to come on board. The situation is evolving day by day but we are really pleased to be offered this opportunity. It’s such an exciting time.” Ground Espresso Bars has been working with Next since 2012 and operating a coffee shop at its site in The Quays shopping centre in Newry. Since opening in 2001, Ground Espresso Bars has undergone significant growth in Northern Ireland, expanding to the Republic of Ireland in 2015. The company currently employs more than 300 staff across 27 locations.

Ei Managed Investments launches game-based training across Hippo Inns estate: Ei Managed Investments, part of Ei Group, has partnered with technology company Attensi to launch a training solution that boosts employee knowledge and performance through digital games. The simulation-based training replicates workplace activities through games delivered to employees’ smartphones. The technology is being rolled out across the 12-strong estate of Hippo Inns, the joint venture between Ei Group and Geronimo Inns founder Rupert Clevely. Once implemented at Hippo Inns, Ei Group said it would explore using the technology at Bermondsey Pubs, part of its managed operations unit. Ei Managed Investments operations director Nathan Wall said: “Attensi’s gamified approach to training is fun, engaging and, most importantly, delivers tangible results. We will closely watch progress within Hippo Inns to explore the possibility of rolling out to teams across our Bermondsey Pubs estate.” Hippo Inns operations director Adrian Laws added: “We believe the innovative technology will result in greater knowledge among our teams and a more consistent and enhanced experience for our guests.” Hakon Dammen, director of sales at Attensi, said: “There is a big opportunity in the hospitality sector for gamified simulation-based training, which offers a competitive advantage for businesses that take the leap.”

Park Chinois to launch brasserie concept in Mayfair next month: Park Chinois, the Chinese restaurant launched by Wagamama founder Alan Yau, is to launch neighbourhood brasserie concept Moncks of Dover St next month. The 92-cover restaurant and bar will open at 33 Dover Street, which forms part of the Park Chinois estate, on Wednesday, 3 July. The name has been inspired by Christopher Moncks, a 16th century Mayfair maverick who owned the sprawling estate of Clarendon House, which included Dover Street, Albemarle Street and Bond Street. The kitchen will be led by executive chef Gennaro Vitto and head chef Valentino Pepe, who have worked together at Park Chinois since 2012. Breakfast dishes on the menu will include the signature Truffled Benedict (artichoke and black truffle with organic poached eggs and hollandaise sauce on an English muffin) and the Full Vegan. The all-day menu will include pan-fried monkfish with seafood jus, seasonal vegetables and gremolata. In December, Park Chinois reported turnover increased to £13,016,042 for the year ending 31 March 2018, compared with £10,831,308 the previous year as it reiterated its plans to expand to “prominent cities” worldwide. 

Kiyoto Sushi takes over Good Earth restaurant in West Hampstead for third site: Traditional sushi bar operator Kiyoto Sushi is to open a third site, in West Hampstead, north London. The concept, which launched in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, in 2015 before opening a second site in Mill Hill, north London, will take over a venue in West End Lane that was formerly occupied by Chinese restaurant The Good Earth. The site spans 1,023 square feet across ground, basement and mezzanine levels. Agent Davis Coffer Lyons assigned the leasehold interest on behalf of The Good Earth for a premium, with the 20-year lease expiring in January 2030. The Good Earth continues to operate seven sites in London and Surrey – full-service restaurants in Knightsbridge, Wandsworth, Esher and Mill Hill and takeaways in Wimbledon, Richmond and Battersea. The Good Earth said the disposal would allow the company to focus on greater efficiencies and its core estate, with the majority of custom from West End Lane diverting to Mill Hill. Rob Meadows, executive director, agency and leasing at Davis Coffer Lyons, said: “This is a good example of demand for restaurant sites with affluent catchment areas. The location will be excellent for Kiyoto Sushi’s quality offer, which has thrived in similar north London suburbs, and I’m sure this will be a great fit. The Good Earth has been a long-standing client and we’re pleased to have conducted this transaction totally off-market.”

Leon signs five-year exclusivity agreement with Roadchef as it strengthens partnership and plans pipeline: Natural fast food chain Leon has signed a five-year exclusivity agreement with motorway services operator Roadchef as it prepares to open two more restaurants as part of their partnership – with more to follow. Leon launched its partnership with Roadchef last year, with restaurants at its Norton Canes and Strensham southbound services. Now to mark the agreement, which makes Roadchef the principal motorway services operator to work with Leon, restaurants will open at the Northampton northbound services, which is on the M1 at Junction 15a; and Rownhams southbound, between Junctions 3 and 4 on the M27, in June and July respectively. Adam Blaker, development and property director at Leon, said: “We are pleased to find a partner with such high operating standards, respect for our brand, and a truly positive culture. Combined with an innovative streak to test concepts such as ours at new locations, it has been a partnership that has brought Leon to new areas of the UK and looks fruitful to deliver many more restaurants.” Roadchef chief executive Mark Fox added: “We are thrilled with the success of the two Leon restaurants and excited to develop this relationship further with the opening of two new outlets this summer. In addition, we are also planning a pipeline of developments in the coming years as we look to bring Leon’s brand of naturally fast food to even more parts of the motorway network.” Meanwhile, Leon has unveiled its largest vegan menu to date as a surge in plant-based sales at its sites continues. Leon has seen the percentage of its sales from vegan items rise to 55% as of January 2019 compared with 34% the previous year. The menu, launched to mark Leon’s 15th anniversary, includes Jack Wings – hot, cheesy vegan nuggets filled with pulled jackfruit in a gluten-free crumb – as well as vegan shakes and ice-cream sundaes. There is also a vegan “birthday cupcake”. 

Azzurri Group to open third London site for Radio Alice brand, in Canary Wharf next month: Azzurri Group, which owns and operates ASK Italian, Zizzi and Coco di Mama, is to open a third London site for its Radio Alice brand. The pizzeria will open in Jubilee Place, Canary Wharf, in July. The sourdough pizza brand was founded by Matteo and Salvatore Aloe, who opened their first pizzeria in Bologna in 2010, and Emma King, co-founder of Gail’s bakery, who together launched Radio Alice in Hoxton Square in 2016, followed by a site in Clapham in 2017. Radio Alice celebrates small-scale Italian producers with pizza toppings featuring regularly changing seasonal ingredients from organic farms. Matteo Aloe said: “Since we opened in 2010 there has been a shift towards the importance of organic and sustainable ingredients on restaurant menus, and London has been an early pioneer. We’ve worked closely with the Soil Association and discovered some fantastic British producers we look forward to incorporating alongside our Italian friends in Canary Wharf.” In November, Azzurri Group stated in its annual report: “Radio Alice’s proposition has been cemented following a transformational year of growing awareness and footfall. The pizza and proposition is unlike any other. We’re excited by its potential and look forward to capitalising on this momentum by expanding the number of sites over the year ahead.” The concept is named after a 1970s Italian pirate radio station.

Subway offers grants to kick-start remodel programme: Subway has launched a multimillion-dollar grants programme to kick-start remodels of ageing stores in the US. The company said almost 5,400 operators had applied for the grant, which covers 25% of the cost. While the grants programme mainly applies for the premium Fresh Forward overhaul, Don Fertman, Subway’s chief development officer, said most operators were using the funds to pay for a less expensive remodel, Fresh Start, which was introduced last year. The grants, which are under review, will be awarded on a priority basis during the next year. Each owner will get roughly $10,000. “We are expecting 5,000 Fresh Start remodels in the next year and half in the US,” Fertman told Nation’s Restaurant News. The grants programme is the second incentive Subway has dangled before operators to encourage them to remodel stores. Last year, the company launched Fresh Start, which costs about $40,000. The less expensive remodel includes a floor overlay, new lighting fixtures, upgraded sandwich assembly bins, Subway’s three-year-old redesigned logo and new wall artwork. Fertman said most consumers would never spot the difference between the Fresh Forward and Fresh Start looks because most of the key Fresh Start changes were consumer-facing. In future, Fertman said Fresh Forward was likely to be reserved for new-build stores. To date, almost 1,300 Subway restaurants globally have adopted one of the new designs.

Jason Atherton confirms launch of Betterment restaurant at Mayfair hotel: Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton has confirmed his business The Social Company will launch restaurant The Betterment at The Biltmore hotel in Mayfair. The kitchen at the hotel, which is operated by LXR Hotels & Resorts, Hilton’s luxury collection brand, will be led by Paul Walsh, who launched and led Atherton’s City Social for five years and gained its Michelin star within seven months. The Betterment’s seasonally driven menu will include wood-fired fish and meat, fresh seafood, signature salads and plant-based plates. An open grill will be at the heart of the restaurant, adding a sense of theatre. As well as the restaurant, Atherton will also oversee The Terrace, The Tea Lounge and The Pine Bar at The Biltmore. The opening marks a return to the area for Atherton, who rose to prominence after launching Maze in Grosvenor Square in 2005. Atherton said: “We chose the name The Betterment to encapsulate our journey from opening Pollen Street Social in 2011 to today, highlighting the progression of our food, ethos and way of thinking. To return to Mayfair’s Grosvenor Square after nine years is special to me, and I’m thrilled to be doing it alongside world-class chef and friend Paul Walsh.” The Biltmore, Mayfair, formerly the Millennium Mayfair, will emerge from a £60m redevelopment to become the first European property in LXR Hotels & Resorts’ collection. Atherton’s empire spans six countries and includes seven restaurants in London alone.

Food and drink discovery app Nez reports 350,000 transactions as it looks to expand across London: Food and drink discovery app Nez claims it has passed the 350,000-transaction milestone with its partners since launching in central London in 2016. Nez is a digital platform that connects operators with a local customer base by delivering hyper-local offers to users’ phones. Cafes, bars and restaurants receive equal levels of support regardless of size through targeted emails and push notifications to users, alongside social media support and access to customer data insights. The company said it had attracted more than 135,000 users in the capital and was currently working with 330 partners as it looked to widen its reach across London. Nez said four-fifths (80%) of app users had returned as a full-paying customer to one of its partners, while more than two-fifths (41%) had increased their lunchtime spend. Nez added almost three-quarters (74%) of users regularly walked between eight and 15 minutes to visit a favourite venue. Founder Joe Zender said: “We will continue to invest in the high street, with major marketing efforts across central London and a focus on driving footfall and profitability for our partners.”

Robin Gill to oversee F&B offer at new Great Scotland Yard Hotel: Chef entrepreneur Robin Gill has been appointed to oversee the food and beverage offer at the new Great Scotland Yard Hotel in London. The hotel, restaurant, tea room, bar, drinking club and events space will open this summer under the direction of general manager Sholto Smith. Great Scotland Yard will be Gill’s first foray into the hotel industry and he has been involved in the development of the hotel’s food and drink spaces from an early stage. Gill will oversee The Yard, a modern British restaurant showcasing the best of the UK countryside; cocktail bar The Forty Elephants; tea room The Parlour and drinking den Sibín. Gill said: "This is not just a food and beverage concept in a standard hotel – we have created something completely different! Great Scotland Yard is a historical institution so we had to be bold, bringing a new chapter and attitude not only to the building but also to Westminster. As with my other restaurants, we’ll take a back to basics approach. We will bake from scratch, butchery and ageing will be done on-site, and we will only work with the most passionate growers in the country. Our aim is to let the ingredients and experience do the talking while producing the finest plates of food.” Great Scotland Yard Hotel, the first UK hotel to join The Unbound Collection by Hyatt, will feature 152 bedrooms and stand on the site of the former Metropolitan Police headquarters. Last month, Gill opened Darby’s at the Embassy Gardens development on London’s South Bank. He is also behind Sorella, The Dairy and Counter Culture.

Eric’s Fish & Chips to open third site, in Holt this month: Eric Snaith, executive chef and owner of Eric’s Fish & Chips, will open his third site, in Holt, Norfolk, this month. The 30-cover, 712 square foot restaurant and takeaway will open in Fish Hill on Thursday, 27 June. The menu will offer traditional British fish and chips with modern European influences inspired by Snaith’s three-AA Rosette restaurant Titchwell Manor, near Brancaster. The new venue will also serve gelato and sorbet with toppings such as caramelised cornflakes. Drinks will include beer, wine and champagne alongside homemade soft drinks and batch cocktails. The decor will be in keeping with the signature tiled walls and subtle maritime theme of the Thornham and St Ives restaurants. Snaith said: “We have always been a huge admirer of Holt’s beautiful market town. With our third site at Fish Hill our aim, as always, is to continue to serve the nation’s favourite dish to the best of our ability.”

Warrington-headquartered brewer ‘looks forward to further growth’ as turnover and profits rise: Warrington-headquartered brewer and packaging company Thomas Hardy Holdings has said it is looking forward to further growth in 2019 as it reported a turnover and profit boost on the back of increased volumes. The company is behind Thomas Hardy Packaging, Thomas Hardy Burtonwood and Thomas Hardy Kendal. The Burtonwood Brewery was built in 1990 on an 11-acre site and has been expanded to allow for brewing, fermenting and processing international lager. The company’s packaging plant in Kendal comprises a high-speed line with mixing and blending facilities for alcoholic ready-to-drink beverages and soft drinks. For the year ending 30 September 2018, the company saw turnover increase 11% to £20,079,000, compared with £18,071,000 the year before. Pre-tax profit was up 37% to £3,756,000 compared with £2,732,000 the previous year, according to accounts filed at Companies House. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “The strong performance of the group realised in 2017 continued to build throughout 2018 due to increasing volumes and a favourable customer mix. The directors are pleased with the group’s performance and look forward to further growth in 2019. The group’s capital expenditure programme continued throughout the year, with £2,308,000 invested in further upgrades to facilities. Included within this spend is a significant down-payment as part of a £3,000,000 project to change the front end of the Kendal bottling line. The group is in an excellent financial position with net assets of £13,381,000 and cash balances on hand of £4,927,000. With a strong customer base, the group is ready and able to meet the challenges growth brings in a strong financial position.”

Primark opens Central Perk Cafe in partnership with Warner Bros: Department store Primark has opened a fully branded Central Perk Cafe in partnership with Warner Bros. The cafe has launched at Primark’s Manchester store to correspond with the 25th anniversary of US comedy show Friends, in which the stars regularly appear in a coffee shop named Central Perk. The Primark cafe offers a New York-inspired menu, exclusive branded products and an opportunity to get a photo on “the” sofa. It also uses compostable cups and ethically sourced coffee beans. Primark director of new business development Tim Kelly said: “We are excited to bring the first branded Central Perk Cafe in fashion retail to the UK.”

Stonegate launches Best Summer Ever campaign: Stonegate Pub Company has launched its Best Summer Ever campaign, which aims to drive footfall and pre-booked sales while increasing dwell time. More than 5,000 activities have been created, ranging from local events to umbrella campaigns, supplier activations and experiential pop-ups. Family days, dog shows and garden parties make up the core pub offering while late-night venues will hold Eighties and Nineties parties, flower power weekenders and tiki-inspired evenings. Stonegate Pub Company head of marketing Alan Armstrong said: “We are set to have one of the hottest summers on record and, with that in mind, we have created our biggest summer ever. Our customers remain at the forefront of everything we do and, with our bold plans, we are providing them with the experiences and products we know they want.” Stonegate Pub Company operates 772 venues across its two divisions. 

Sub Cult to open permanent site next week: Sub Cult, the US deli-style sandwich concept, will open a permanent site in central London next week. The street food concept, which is led by Ben Chancellor and Gareth Phillips, will open a restaurant in Watling Street on Wednesday, 19 June. The former Barbecoa To Go unit has been refurbished to offer a takeaway counter as well as offering 14 covers inside. It will offer gourmet hot sub sandwiches with a variety of fillings. Chancellor said: “This feels like a coming of age moment for the Sub Cult family. From a gazebo to our van, to kitchen residencies and shipping containers, to arrive at this – our first bricks and mortar premises. A lot of dreams have been fulfilled with this venture so it’s a pinch yourself moment to be anchoring at such a buzzing spot in ye olde City Of London.” Founded in 2014, the business has been operating out of Brockley Market and in various City locations offering weekday lunches. It was also running a pop-up at Boxpark Shoreditch that has now closed. The concept has won praise and collaborations from leading chefs David Muñoz, Tom Sellers, Dan Doherty and Tom Aikens. Sammy Weinbaum, of CDG Leisure, acted on the Watling Street deal.

JD Wetherspoon begins serving draught Kopparberg: JD Wetherspoon is now serving Kopparberg premium cider with strawberry and lime on draught. The draught cider is currently available in 600 Wetherspoon pubs, with all 872 sites serving the product by the end of July. Kopparberg draught cider is Swedish and produced in the UK at The Showerings Cider Mill in Shepton Mallet, Somerset, by Brothers Drinks Co and Kopparberg. Peter Bronsman, Kopparberg Breweries owner and managing director, said: “We have enjoyed a great relationship with Wetherspoon since 2005 and we are excited to see its pubs serving our cider on draught.” Wetherspoon founder and chairman Tim Martin added: “Kopparberg is extremely popular in our pubs and I know our customers will welcome the fact one of its ciders is now available on draught. Enterprising companies such as Kopparberg will keep trade routes open after Brexit since it’s in its own interests, and we look forward to trading with it for many years to come.”

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