Story of the Day:
Boston Tea Party chief – we’re due to have our best year ever despite banning single-use cups: Sam Roberts, chief executive of all-day casual dining cafe Boston Tea Party (BTP), has said the brand is due to have its “best year ever” despite a 25% fall in takeaway coffee sales following its ban of single-use cups last summer. Asked during the Propel Coffee Conference whether BTP could deliver on its sustainable vision, Roberts said: “We believe we can. On virtually any metric we’re due to have our best year ever, despite the cup ban. We had to take a leap of faith. We went into this with 50% loss of sales as the worst-case scenario. If our coffee sales had spiralled into losing 80% or 90% perhaps we would have had a rethink but we went into this committed. The wave of positivity from customers has been unbelievable.” Despite the hit in takeaway sales, Roberts revealed BTP’s most recent total like-for-like sales were up 9%, while his vision is to grow a “profitable cafe business without compromising” while having a “positive impact on the world”. The move has also had a huge effect on staff retention. Roberts said: “Staff have loved what we’ve done. The amount of “leavers” is down 20% since we launched the campaign, saving us so much in recruitment, retraining and development. It has had a massive impact and our employer brand is stronger than ever. We get people saying they want to work for us because we’re the ‘cup guys’. Yes we have lost money over this but that is levelling off now. What’s the cost of doing nothing? That’s much more frightening. We can’t externalise this and think it’s someone else’s problem. I truly believe businesses that ignore the impact of their trading on the environment are on borrowed time.” On 1 June, BTP launched Making Things Better Day, which saw the brand pledge to remove all single-use plastic milk bottles. Roberts told delegates its pledge on 1 June 2020 would be to eradicate single-use plastic from its supply chain.
Peter Borg-Neal to feature in next video for Propel Premium subscribers:
Oakman Inns and Restaurants founder and chief executive Peter Borg-Neal will feature in the next 30-minute video for Propel Premium subscribers, which will be sent out on Friday (21 June). Borg-Neal talks about growing the company through new financing routes and partnerships and adapting to the economic climate. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
BII appoints Steven Alton as chief executive elect: The British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) has appointed Steven Alton, managing director of Vianet, as its chief executive elect. Alton, who has been at Vianet for almost nine years, will join the BII on Monday, 30 September as chief operating officer. During the first few months he will be responsible for the Farnborough headquarters and oversee a strategy to ensure the BII is “modern and well placed to support the challenges facing licensees and staff in the hospitality industry”. Chairman Mark Robson said: “We are pleased Steven has agreed to join the BII and, being known across the industry, he is well placed to take over from Mike Clist, who will continue in his full-time role until late 2019. He will then continue as chief executive on a part-time basis until Steven feels he is in a position to take over the chief executive’s role. This will ensure a smooth transition and help the BII’s relationships with key companies and bodies.” Alton added: “I am looking forward to leading the BII into the future, building on the great work by Mike and his team. The hospitality industry is hugely exciting and challenging right now. The BII is uniquely positioned to provide essential, independent and trusted support to its members to help them thrive.”
Marston’s helps develop first drinks-dispense technician apprenticeship: Marston’s has helped to develop the industry’s first drinks-dispense technician apprenticeship. The Level 3 apprenticeship is an engineering and manufacturing route, typically lasting 18 months. The module has been developed by the Trailblazer Employer Group, which is co-chaired by Marston’s and Innserve with support from the Brewing, Food & Beverage Industry Suppliers Association (BFBi). Funded through the Apprenticeship Levy, the course is aimed at employees within the drinks-dispense industry as well as new recruits. It will feature on and off-the-job training with an opportunity to learn from peers and experts. Jo Bradford, group apprenticeship manager at Marston’s, said: “Our pubs and breweries depend on our beer and drinks being poured at the highest standard so this skill and trade is vital.” Sir Gerry Berragan, chief executive of the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education, added: “This new apprenticeship is an industry first and I would like to thank all the employers on the Trailblazer group for helping to make it happen. Apprentices will be trained to a high standard for a role that requires building, installing and maintaining complex drinks-dispensing equipment. I am delighted it has been approved for use.” BFBi chief executive Ruth Evans said: “We are delighted the apprenticeship is now available. It provides a recognised pathway for cellar service engineers, providing a sound base for a successful career. We are indebted to the many employers who gave their time and expertise.”
Shortlist revealed for inaugural Footprint Drinks Sustainability Awards: The shortlist has been revealed for the inaugural Footprint Drinks Sustainability Awards. The awards aim to recognise the achievements of companies in specific areas of sustainability and responsible business practice in the out-of-home sector and its supply chain. The shortlist is Economic Sustainability: Brentingby Gin, Good Things Brewing Co and Patrón Tequila; Sustainable Use of Water: Adnams, Greene King and Waterscan, Marston’s, Sipsmith, and WWF-UK and Coca-Cola Foundation; Sustainable Use of Raw Materials: Black Cow Vodka, The Oxford Artisan Distillery, Seven Bro7hers Brewery, and Toast Ale; Energy Efficiency: Brentingby Gin, Winterhalter and Wye Valley Brewery; Innovations in Packaging: Banrock Station, Carlsberg UK, Garçon Wines, Lucozade Ribena Suntory and Rebellion Brewery; Waste Prevention and Management: Marston’s, Patrón Tequila, Reunion Ales and Toast Ale; Sustainable Supplier: Bibendum Wine, European Malt Company, Good Things Brewing Co, Karma Kola Co and Radnor Hills; Stakeholder Engagement: Bluestone Brewing Co, Budweiser Brewing Group, Hogs Back Brewery and Warner’s Distillery; and Social Impact & Diversity: Brewgooder, Coca-Cola European Partners, The Driver’s Drinks Company and Meiko UK. The winners will be revealed on Wednesday, 11 September at an awards dinner at the Royal Institute of British Architects in London.
Taylor St Baristas launches £750,000 crowdfunding campaign to expand wholesale arm and cafe partnerships: Taylor St Baristas has returned to crowdfunding platform Crowdcube in a bid to raise £750,000 as it expands its wholesale arm and cafe partnerships, Propel has learned. Founded in 2006 by siblings Nick, Andrew and Laura Tolley, Taylor St Baristas has opened more than 60 cafes through partnerships. Now having raised more than £1.8m in its previous Crowdcube campaign, the company has returned to the platform to support its strategy. It is offering 6.38% equity in return for the investment, giving the company a pre-money valuation of £11m. The campaign is currently in “stealth mode”, meaning it’s only open to select investors rather than the public. The Tolley siblings also founded the Harris + Hoole coffee chain with Tesco, selling their share to the supermarket company in 2016. Harris + Hoole has subsequently been bought by Caffe Nero. The pitch states: “As the market shifts, Taylor St aims to lead the charge by partnering with global companies. The first is a global partnership with Sodexo, which by cups sold is one of the world’s largest coffee retailers, selling circa one billion hot beverages annually. Over the next five years Taylor St expects to open 100-plus branded Taylor St cafes with Sodexo and a further 300 proprietary branded cafes exclusively serving our coffee. We have the track record for this kind of accelerated scale – our joint-venture coffee brand with Tesco, Harris + Hoole, launched more than 50 cafes in three years. Furthermore, we are developing a range of ready-to-drink coffee products, starting with an innovative and versatile coffee concentrate for both business-to-business and business-to-consumer. With the valuable support of our crowd of investors, we can mobilise the Sodexo partnership and drive further brand and digital platform development.”
The Alchemist to start looking overseas, on track to hit £50m revenue: The Alchemist, which is backed by Palatine Private Equity, is set to start looking overseas and said it is “on track” to post revenue of £50m at the end of its financial year. Founded in 2010, The Alchemist set up in Manchester before opening its doors in Leeds and London. The company was backed by Palatine in May 2015 and it has supported the management team, led by managing director Simon Potts, on its national roll out. Since Palatine’s investment, The Alchemist has grown its portfolio of 15 venues, launching into regional cities as well as expanding its footprint in London. This has helped turnover increase four-fold from £11.3m at the time of the investment to the £50m forecast in the year to March 2020. The company launched its 16th venue in Shoreditch at the end of May, bringing the total number of sites in the capital to three. There are four further sites in the pipeline – Brindleyplace in Birmingham, Gunwharf Quay in Portsmouth, and Embassy Gardens and Canary Wharf in London. Potts told The Business Desk: “Although we had a brilliant concept when Palatine first backed us, we only operated three sites. Working with private equity has enabled us to achieve scale and build an infrastructure that supports a business of our size. A global expansion has always been an ambition for the management team and we will target overseas opportunities in the next few years.” Gary Tipper, managing partner at Palatine Private Equity and non-executive director at The Alchemist, added: “Having a solid concept is one of the fundamentals in the hospitality sector. It’s not a case of just opening your doors – you need to have a proposition the customer wants to engage with and that’s what makes The Alchemist stand out. The business has demonstrated its ability to buck the trend in an incredibly competitive market place and it is showing no signs of slowing.”
Gentlemen Baristas to open three sites: London-based coffee shop brand The Gentlemen Baristas is to open three sites, Propel has learned. The Gentlemen Baristas, founded by Henry Ayers and Ed Parkes, is set to start work on what will be its ninth site, in New Oxford Street, this month, ahead of an opening near the end of July. Its tenth store will follow in Victoria, with site number 11 understood to be in Hammersmith, west London. A coffee school will also open at its roastery in Whitechapel at the end of this month. The Gentlemen Baristas opened its first site in Southwark in 2014.
Burger & Lobster converts Smack to virtual brand: Burger & Lobster has converted its lobster roll concept Smack to a virtual brand following a surge in online sales. With 48% of sales driven by its partnership with Deliveroo, Smack, which was launched in Binney Street, just off Oxford Street in central London in 2014, has transitioned solely to online. In 2018, total sales for Smack were up 27.6% compared with the previous year, while in the year to date they have increased 20.3%. Burger & Lobster chief financial officer Dasha Ovchenkova said: “We have moved our Smack lobster roll concept to the virtual world as we have seen online orders rapidly increasing. As a nimble business able to move quickly to adapt to our customer demands, moving to digital-first for Smack helps us invest and channel funds to develop our online offering to meet customer tastes. Working exclusively with our friends at Deliveroo to expand our catchment within London and other cities in the UK means we can offer fresh and affordable real lobster rolls. We’re really excited for the virtual move and what’s to come.” Smack offers lobster caught off the coast of Nova Scotia. It is initially available to order through Deliveroo in central London with expansion throughout the capital and regionally to follow.
Co-op to trial in-store coffee concession: Co-op is to trial a ten-shop coffee concession as part of a new deal with Vertas Group-owned Churchill Catering. Coffee shops in Heathfield, Hove and Peacehaven, all in East Sussex; Inverness and Louth in Scotland; Holmfirth in West Yorkshire; Plympton in Devon; Ryde on the Isle of Wight; Wadebridge in Cornwall; and Wickford in Essex will be rebranded as & Coffee. The first & Coffee will open at the retailer’s Ridgeway store in Plympton in August. Each store will showcase local produce and offer tailored menus for breakfast and lunch, the retailer said. Mark Pettigrew, Co-op director of innovation and format, said: “We want the coffee shops to be a place for the community to meet and enjoy a range of quality drinks and snacks, all under the new & Coffee banner. We’re really excited to partner with an expert in this field and offer our customers new reasons to visit us as we deliver a great new coffee experience.” Vertas Group chief executive Ian Surtees added: “Co-op is one of Great Britain’s most trusted brands so it’s a wonderful honour to play our part in that success. We look forward to working side by side with the in-store managers to create community hubs that provide more than just a great cup of coffee.”
Ossett Brewery buys Wakefield pub: Yorkshire-based Ossett Brewery has acquired a pub in Wakefield. The company has bought The Bingley Arms in Horbury Bridge in a deal brokered by agent CBRE. The Georgian-style pub in Bridge Road will undergo a full refurbishment before reopening next year. With 19 pubs and seven city centre bars already, Ossett Brewery has ambitions to grow its portfolio to about 30 sites in the next five years. Owner Jamie Lawson told BDaily: “We are delighted to secure the latest addition to our pub estate. Our traditional inns continue to perform well and we are confident the market will remain healthy long term. We plan to reopen The Bingley in early 2020 after an extensive refurbishment and look forward to welcoming customers old and new.” Sam Potrykus, associate director in the operational real estate team at CBRE Leeds, added: “We are delighted to confirm the acquisition of The Bingley Arms on behalf of Ossett Brewery. We are working closely to support ambitious growth plans and this latest acquisition forms part of its strategy to boost the estate.” Mark Hunter, co-founder of Leeds-based software company BJSS, bought a 50% stake in the business in December.
Former Hakkasan group pastry chef opens Selfridges concession for gourmet doughnut concept: Graham Hornigold, ex-group pastry chef at Hakkasan Group, and Heather Kaniuk, former executive pastry chef at Mandarin Oriental, have launched a concession at Selfridges in London for their gourmet doughnut concept Longboys. The site is based in the Oxford Street department store’s food hall, while its doughnuts are also available in the Selfridges Kitchen restaurant. Longboys specialises in classic finger doughnuts with menus changing on a monthly basis. Fillings include rhubarb, custard and orange; sticky toffee, date and pecan; and raspberry, rose and lychee. Longboys launched its central kitchen and pop-up store at Boxpark Wembley in March, with plans for a standalone site later this year. Longboys will also be available to buy in a select number of central London cafes and restaurants from July. Before launching Longboys, Hornigold oversaw the global expansion of Hakkasan Group on the pastry side. Between 2011 and 2017, the group expanded from four UK-based operations – Hakkasan, Yauatcha, Sake No Hana, and HKK – to 47 restaurants globally.
Arc Inspirations to convert The Pit in Harrogate to Manahatta brand: Arc Inspirations, the Leeds-based operator of a number of fast-growing brands, has revealed plans to convert The Pit in Harrogate to its Manahatta brand. The transformation will take place during August ahead of a reopening in early September, part of a £300,000 investment in the site. The venue will echo the contemporary look of its four sister sites in Leeds and Manchester. It will also create up to 40 jobs as the company continues its cluster model approach. Arc Inspirations chief executive Martin Wolstencroft said: “We are thrilled to introduce Manahatta to the people of Harrogate and can’t wait to unveil the finished results. The bar promises to be spectacular and the redevelopment reaffirms our commitment to offering guests premium drinking and dining experiences every time they set foot in our venues. These are exciting times for us as we continue to focus on and invest in our highly-differentiated growth brands and maintain the momentum we’ve achieved over the past year through opening bars in new markets and reimagining what we’ve done previously.” Arc Inspirations operates 19 bars in the north of England, predominantly grouped into its core brands – Banyan Bar & Kitchen, Manahatta and The Box.
Great British Menu finalist gets go-ahead for second site, at Liverpool docks: Great British Menu finalist Ellis Barrie has been given the go-ahead to open his second restaurant. Barrie, who was a finalist in the BBC2 show last year, opened Marram Grass with older brother Liam in Anglesey in 2011. Now the brothers have been granted permission by Liverpool City Council for a new venture at Royal Albert Dock. They will take over the site formerly occupied by circus-themed dinner concept Circo, reports Insider Media. Once a cafe on their parents’ caravan park in North Wales, Marram Grass is now in the Good Food Guide and specialises in carefully sourced local seafood and meat from their own livestock.
Former Fat Duck Group executive chef takes Londrino site for first restaurant: Jonny Lake, former Fat Duck Group executive chef, is to launch his debut restaurant. Lake has teamed up with former Fat Duck head sommelier Isa Bal to take over the Londrino site in London Bridge. The as yet unnamed concept is due to open in the autumn. Lake left Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck Group last year after 13 years with the company. He became head chef of the three-Michelin starred Fat Duck in 2009 before ending up as executive chef of the group. Bal told Hot Dinners: “We were looking for an open and contemporary space in a vibrant area – somewhere relaxed and fun where we could celebrate what’s in the glass and on the plate.” Londrino, the debut restaurant from chef Leandro Carreira, closed in February having opened in November 2017.
Snackbar to launch permanent site after hitting crowdfunding target: Snackbar, the pop-up concept by Freddie Janssen and former Nuala chef Anais Van Manen, is to open a permanent site in east London after hitting its crowdfunding target. Janssen and Van Manen are set to take over the old Farmshop Cafe in Dalston Lane, beside Dalston Junction train station. The 30-cover cafe will offer “globally inspired seasonal sandwiches, salads, rice bowls and snacks”. The venue will also offer two floors of co-working space. Janssen and Van Manen are working in partnership with urban farming hub FARM:shop. Using the farm’s indoor allotments and a polytunnel, the cafe will grow its own vegetables, herbs and mushrooms. Jansen and Van Manen launched a £20,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Kickstarter to support the project. So far, 266 investors have pledged £21,007 with two days of the campaign remaining. Snackbar first set up shop in 2016 and has held residencies at Borough Market, The Laughing Heart and Legs.
Turkish restaurateur Salt Bae to open first UK site in December: Turkish restaurateur Nusret Gökçe, known as Salt Bae, will open his first UK site, in Knightsbridge, central London, in December. Gökçe will launch Nusr-Et Steakhouse at The Park Tower Knightsbridge. Dishes will include roasted asado short rib, Nusr-Et meat spaghetti and the Nusr-Et special, with Gökçe “personally selecting every cut”, reports Hot Dinners. Gökçe operates eight restaurants in Turkey as well as sites in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Miami and New York. He was dubbed Salt Bae after he sprinkled salt on a steak in a video that has been viewed more than nine million times on social media.
Edinburgh-based Thai restaurant operators acquire city cafe for second site: Edinburgh-based Thai restaurant operators Malcolm Inness and Chris Reiss have bought a city centre cafe for their second site. Inness and Reiss have acquired Coletti & Co in Lothian Road from Lia Gillin. Inness and Reiss also own Ting Thai Caravan, a Thai restaurant in Edinburgh’s Old Town, which started as a pop-up. Tony Spence, business agent at Christie & Co’s Edinburgh office, who handled the sale, said: “A great business in a prominent location within Edinburgh city centre, Coletti & Co generated a huge amount of interest from the outset, which continued until we achieved a sale. Demand within Edinburgh remains high for similar licensed restaurants as the city continues to grow with a high-quality food, drink and leisure circuit.”
Cumbrian brewer set for expansion after securing European funding: Kendal-based Bowness Bay Brewing is set for expansion after securing European funding to help it invest in new equipment. Launched by former traffic policeman Richard Husbands in 2012, Bowness Bay Brewing produces 12 beers at its Castle Mills brewery. Funding of £60,000 from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development will enable the brewer to buy six 5,000-litre fermenters, which will increase capacity four-fold. In addition, the funding will allow Bowness Bay Brewing to acquire a fully automatic keg machine, which will increase output to more than 1,000 kegs per month, and new sterile filter equipment. Husbands said: “When we set out we wanted to ensure everything we produced was high quality and had a consistent taste. It’s not ground-breaking but it’s common sense. This has resulted in a significant increase in demand for our core range and, to ensure this level of quality is maintained, we need new equipment. Historically we’ve outsourced kegging, which adds time and costs, so these will now be reduced to a minimum. We’re extremely grateful for the funding as it will also enable us to look at the brewery’s estate and how we can best use that. We’re putting finishing touches to our new taphouse but, safe to say, we have some very exciting plans.”
Glasgow-based pancake house Stack & Still to open second site, at Silverburn: Glasgow-based operators Paul Reynolds and Graham Swankie are to open a second site for their pancake house concept Stack & Still. They have agreed a deal with Hammerson to open at the Silverburn shopping centre in the city next month, creating 60 jobs. The new dual-level store will be located in the Winter Garden and feature a dedicated food and drink area seating 185 customers. Since launching in West George Street in October, Stack & Still has served more than 500,000 pancakes. Reynolds said: “We have been blown away by the response to Stack & Still since launching last year. Expansion and roll out have always been part of our strategy and, given the popularity of Silverburn, ease of parking and its consistent growth in customer footfall, we are confident it will be the perfect location for our second site.” Iain Mitchell, UK commercial director at Hammerson, added: “We are delighted to welcome Stack & Still as a great example of a local independent. Introducing more exciting brands such as Stack & Still across our portfolio is a real focus for us as we know our customers love an experience that’s different. The brand will be a great addition to the already strong food and drink line-up at Silverburn.”
Bill’s partners with Press to become first restaurant to serve its juice: Bill’s Restaurants, owned by Richard Caring, has agreed a deal with Press to become the first restaurant to serve its cold-pressed juice. Following a month-long trial of five juices across four sites, Bill’s noted increased sales, positive customer feedback and operational efficiency, which has led to the roll out across all 81 Bill’s restaurants in the UK. Bill’s founder Bill Collison said: “Our dedication to fresh produce runs throughout our restaurants and ensuring not just our food offers the best nutritional value but also our drinks is important to us. We’re really excited to roll out Press and work with its team.” Press co-founder and chief executive Ed Foy added: “Teaming up with Bill’s after the successful trial is a really exciting step for our brand. It’s an unreal opportunity to continue growing Press to reach more people as we continue to expand our product portfolio.”
Greene King raises more than £680,000 during Macmillan May: Brewer and retailer Greene King has netted more than £680,000 in its annual Macmillan May fund-raising push for people with cancer. It takes the total raised by the company to more than £6m. Greene King has been working in partnership with Macmillan since 2012. As well as fund-raising activity by team members, customers at Greene King pubs and restaurants also contribute by purchasing specially marked charity desserts, with a donation from sales going directly to Macmillan. Chief executive Nick Mackenzie said: “We have almost doubled the amount we raised last year and seen more than 1,500 of our pubs actively fund-raise during May.” Macmillan Cancer Support chief executive Lynda Thomas added: “This money, along with the other generous donations year-round from Greene King staff and customers, will make a tangible difference to people living with cancer, helping us to realise our ambition to be right there for people from the moment of diagnosis.”
Scragg Hotels secures multimillion-pound refinance deal for Tunbridge Wells property: Scragg Hotels has secured a multimillion-pound refinance deal with Allied Irish Bank (GB) for The Spa Hotel in Tunbridge Wells, Kent. The new package will allow further refurbishment of the 70-bedroom hotel, which was built as a country mansion in 1766 before welcoming its first guests in 1880. The property also features a restaurant, the Zagatos Bar and Brasserie, a spa, swimming pool, steam room, saunas and gym. Anthony Scragg said: “We are excited about this relationship with Allied Irish Bank (GB), embarking on a new chapter in our ownership of The Spa Hotel. Securing this deal will allow us to continue to refurbish the hotel to the standard we desire while continuing to grow trade. We have big plans and this will allow us to realise these plans sooner.”
Diageo Reserve opens €25m whisky distillery and visitors’ experience in Dublin: Diageo Reserve’s premium Irish whiskey, Roe & Co, has opened its €25m (£22m) urban distillery and visitors’ experience in Dublin. The distillery, located in the former Guinness Power Station at St James’s Gate, houses three copper stills that can run triple and double distillation. They will distil 14,000 litres of whiskey in every run, with an annual capacity of 500,000 litres. Visitors can explore Roe & Co’s working distillery, with tour groups able to trace the history of Irish whiskey and sample some in the Power House Bar. Roe & Co is named after George Roe, who put Irish whiskey on the global map. Gráinne Wafer, global brand director for Roe & Co at Diageo, said: “The distillery will complement what is already the country’s most popular tourism offering, The Guinness Storehouse.”