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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Wed 21st Aug 2019 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Casual Dining Group enhances staff rewards: Casual Dining Group (CDG) has rolled out a suite of financial services for employees including on-demand pay across all its brands. The company stated: “The move demonstrates the company’s commitment to attract and retain the best people in the industry – as well as safeguard its employees against possible mental health issues caused by financial distress due to significant unforeseen expenses – by introducing an innovative range of financial welfare tools. An on-demand pay function along with real-time financial education has been rolled out across all our brands with immediate effect. It has been facilitated through Wagestream in partnership with Fourth, allowing employees to access the money they have earned until that point ahead of payday for just a £1.75 transaction fee. Thanks to the integration with Fourth and Wagestream, all payments are deducted from the normal fortnightly or monthly pay cycles, meaning there’s no impact to the payroll process. The move gives all CDG employees the flexibility to pay for sudden and unforeseen expenses such as a broken-down car or unexpected bill out of their own wages without needing to borrow money through credit cards. CDG has also introduced Salary Finance, a service that helps people get out of debt and into savings with a suite of products such as affordable loans, simple savings directly from salary, and financial education. Salary Finance and CDG working together will provide quick, easy and confidential access to robust financial support when their employees need it.” Claire Clarke, CDG group human resources director, said: “Attracting and retaining the best employees in the industry is an ongoing battle for all businesses. Despite facing a number of industry headwinds we’re focused on continually improving the support, training and services we offer our employees and this latest introduction of Wagestream and Salary Finance is just one extension of that. Generationally and culturally, what people demand from the workplace has changed. It’s no longer enough to offer a competitive wage, you need to create a meaningful environment that promotes positivity and progression to improve staff retention. Through our work with Wagestream and Salary Finance we are able to promote and provide a suite of financial services and training to our employees, should they need it, which gives them the tools and information they need to confidently tackle a number of financial scenarios.”

Industry News:

British brewers cut CO2 emissions by 42% in past ten years: Total CO2 emissions from the UK’s brewing industry fell 42% between 2008 and 2018, a reduction of 202,952 tonnes, according to research by the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA). The research also found the energy used to brew a pint of beer in the UK is 20% less than it was in 2008. The water required to brew one hectolitre of beer has also reduced, to an average of 3.5HL. Separate Environment Agency data acquired by the BBPA also found UK breweries recover and reuse 98% of their waste. The research is published in a new report – Brewing Green: A Greener Future For British Beer & Pubs – and comes as the UK’s brewing and pub sectors begin setting their next sustainability targets to meet the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. All pub operators surveyed for the report said cutting food waste and improving energy efficiency was “important” or “very important”. All respondents have trained staff on how to reduce food waste, with 86% offering smaller portion sizes to customers, while more than four-fifths (83%) use insulated cellars in their pubs to reduce energy consumption. More than two-thirds (71%) of operators have installed smart meters. BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “Britain’s brewing and pub sectors are among the oldest and most revered in the world. To maintain this reputation we must brew our beer and serve our pub-goers in a sustainable way. From reducing emissions to lowering waste, Britain’s breweries and pubs are determined to be world leaders in environmental sustainability and meet the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.”

Mario Batali sells Eataly stake following misconduct allegations: US chef and operator Mario Batali has sold his minority stake in Eataly’s US operations in the wake of allegations of misconduct from female employees. Eataly spokesman Chris Giglio told Associated Press the company had purchased Batali’s minority interest in the company, while the chef has had no direct involvement with the brand since December 2017. The move comes a few months after Batali finished divesting from the restaurant empire he helped to build with partner Joe Bastianich. Batali’s relationship with Eataly began in 2010 when the chef and his partners, Lidia and Joe Bastianich, helped open the giant 50,000 square foot Italian market and food hall in Manhattan’s Flatiron District. Eataly NYC was followed by sites in Boston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Chicago and downtown Manhattan.

Elton Mouna to focus on Greene King takeover in latest talkRADIO discussion: Elton Mouna, managing director of east London-focused pub company Remarkable Pubs, will give his take on the £4.6bn acquisition of Greene King during his next appearance on the James Max Business Breakfast Show on talkRADIO. Mouna will also discuss other news from the hospitality sector during his appearance at 6am on Friday (23 August). Meanwhile Laura Field, general manager of Remarkable Pubs’ latest acquisition, the Holly Tree in Forest Gate, will discuss the hospitality sector’s lure to the younger generation on BBC World Service programme the Food Chain. The episode will be broadcast on Thursday (22 August) at 3.30pm and repeated across the BBC network. Mouna said: “We are so lucky to have Laura in our team. She is a terrific representative of Remarkable Pubs and our wonderful industry and we’re proud and delighted she is spreading the word to a truly global audience.” 

Company News:

200 Degrees doubles up in Birmingham to hit double-figure estate: Nottingham-based coffee roaster and retailer 200 Degrees has opened its second site in Birmingham and tenth in total. The 65-seater coffee shop has launched in Lower Temple Street, close to Birmingham New Street station, creating 20 jobs. Located in the former Midland Hotel, the 1,830 square foot shop retains many period features as well as a split bar for takeaway services. The move follows the brand’s coffee shop and barista school, which opened in Colmore Row in Birmingham’s business district in 2016. Tom Vincent, co-founder and director of 200 Degrees, said: “The decision to open a second coffee shop in Birmingham was an easy one. Its location near Birmingham New Street is ideal. Birmingham is only the second location in which we’ve opened a second coffee shop and we’ve installed a split service area to serve busy commuters and time-starved workers quickly.” Vincent and Rob Darby founded 200 Degrees in 2012. It also operates coffee shops in Nottingham, Leeds, Sheffield, Leicester, Cardiff, Lincoln and Liverpool, and a roast house in Nottingham. The company plans further openings this year.

Tonkotsu to hit 11 sites with Peckham Market opening next month: Tonkotsu, the Emma Reynolds and Ken Yamada-founded ramen restaurant group, is to open its 11th site, in Peckham Market next month. Located in the market’s new workspace, the 50-cover restaurant will offer its signature homemade noodle ramen, gyoza and Japanese appetisers alongside craft beer, sake and cocktails. The venue will feature an open kitchen and bar, with hand-painted murals by artist Mr Christa. Tonkotsu managing director Stephen Evans said: “Peckham, with its rich cultural history and diverse mix of creatives and makers, is the perfect place for our real ramen. We are thrilled to be part of the market workspace and look forward to opening our doors in mid-September.” Yamada and Reynolds launched Tonkotsu in Soho in 2012. It currently operates nine sites in London and a ramen bar in Selfridges Birmingham, with plans to launch in Shoreditch in October. Tonkotsu secured new investment from YFM Equity Partners, which also backs healthy eating brand Friska, in June. YFM invested £5m for a minority stake in Tonkotsu. At the time the company said it hoped to add a further three sites next year. 

Wingstop lines up two more London launches to follow Dalston opening: US chicken brand Wingstop has said it will open two further sites in London following the launch of its second restaurant in the capital, in Dalston in late September. The company, which made its UK debut last year in Shaftesbury Avenue in the West End, has secured the La Petite Bretagne site in Kingsland High Street. The new 80-cover restaurant will offer the brand’s signature wings flavours including lemon and pepper, spicy Korean, Brazilian citrus pepper, mango habanero and garlic Parmesan, with “new spicy menu innovations to be announced in the coming weeks”. Wingstop has more than 1,000 restaurants internationally. In 2017 the company entered an agreement with Lemon Pepper Holdings to launch and roll out in the UK. The plan is to grow to 75 sites in the next 12 years. CDG Leisure acted on behalf of Wingstop UK on the Dalston deal.

Red Oak Taverns tapped into £10m OakNorth acquisition facility to buy 18 Wadworth pubs: Red Oak Taverns has revealed it tapped into a £10m acquisition facility arranged with OakNorth last year to allow it to complete its acquisition of 18 pubs from Wadworth on Friday (16 August). The deal was part of OakNorth’s wider £42m refinance of the Red Oak Taverns business, which completed in October. Red Oak Taverns, which was founded by Aaron Brown and Mark Grunnell in 2011, will also invest £1m into the Wadworth properties it has acquired. The deal means the company now has 179 sites – 61 in the south west, 44 in the north west, 26 in the Midlands, 23 in the south east, 18 in the north east, five in Wales and two in Scotland. Mohith Sondhi, senior debt finance director at OakNorth, said: “The pub sector is competitive and fragmented so businesses in this industry require an experienced team that can deliver alternative strategies for weaker units and maximise the potential of better ones. Mark and Aaron have proven they can do this. They have built a strong platform and have a clear strategy to sustainably grow the business in the coming years. We’re delighted that after their first experience with us last year they’ve come back to complete another transaction and we look forward to continuing to support them in the future.” Grunnell and Brown added: “We believe the pubs and licensees will benefit from Red Oak’s flexible approach to operating leased and tenanted pubs and from the £1m investment we have planned for the acquired portfolio.” Wadworth put 24 of its tenanted pubs on the market through agent Christie & Co – nine on an individual basis and 15 as part of a package. Red Oak secured exclusivity over 18 pubs in the portfolio. The pubs are all in the south and south west.

Losses narrow at Andrew Brownsword Hotels: Andrew Brownsword Hotels has reported losses narrowed to £46,629 in the year to 30 December 2018, compared with £861,666 the year before when there was an impairment loss of £708,873. Turnover rose to £14,642,634 compared with £14,406,392 the year before. The company stated: “The group’s operating results for the period reflect mixed trading conditions combined with continued reinvestment in hotels and associated disruption to trade. The group has announced the sale of The Royal Clarence Hotel. Following extensive damage to the property caused by a fire on 28 October 2016, which started in a neighbouring building but spread throughout The Royal Clarence Hotel, significant works have been completed to protect and restore the site’s historic fabric and, as enabling works are concluded, it will now be offered for sale.” The company’s insurance agreed a final settlement of £22,315,000 to compensate for the loss of the Royal Clarence to fire.

Gusto sees digital loyalty app secure 10,000 sign-ups in first ten days: Italian casual dining group Gusto has reported its new loyalty web app secured more than 10,000 sign-ups in its first ten days. The 18-strong group’s new platform, Gusto Gold Rewards, uses technology developed by Google and offers the functionality of a native app without needing to download it from an app store. Members of the scheme can earn 5% cash back on every food and drink purchase, while Gusto can directly target customers with discounts in response to their buying habits. Members also receive discounts from partner brands. Developed by Manchester-based digital agency Cube3, the app heralds a new direction for Gusto’s brand strategy – moving away from catch-all discounts to hyper-targeted promotions. Gusto marketing director James Newman said: “The market remains incredibly competitive and more than ever we need to be agile in our marketing. Gusto Gold Rewards gives us a single customer viewpoint enabling us to deliver sharper, more relevant and timely communications and promotions, while its technology makes it future proof and offers a super-slick customer experience for the end-user.”

Kokoro eyes Bournemouth for latest opening: Sushi and bento brand Kokoro has applied to turn a former shoe shop in Bournemouth town centre into its latest restaurant. Kokoro, which operates 26 sites in the UK, mainly in the south of England, has submitted an application to change the use of the vacant Jones Bootmaker store. If approved, the company would install a new kitchen, servery and seating areas on the ground and first floor. A Kokoro spokesman told the Bournemouth Echo: “Having researched and looked around the area there appears to be an opening in the market for such an offer, providing more variety and taste experience and adding to the town centre offering.” The closest Kokoro sites to Bournemouth are in Reading, Camberley and Guildford.

Star Pubs & Bars launches wine range: Star Pubs & Bars, owned by Heineken, is launching its own wine label and introducing David Attenborough-endorsed ethical wine as part of improvements designed to improve the quality and value of its wine offer. The first wines under Star Pubs & Bars’ trademarked own-label brand L’Evento will be “top-quality yet competitively priced sparkling and still wines”. The range includes a prosecco, rosé spumante, pinot grigio, pinot grigio blush and a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. The still wine range is being sourced from producer Botter, based near Venice, and will be available in 75cl and 187ml. The sparkling wine is being sourced from Massotina, which also supplies premium on and off-trade customers, and will be available in 75cl and 20cl. Star Pubs & Bars is further expanding its premium wine offer with the addition of 50 wines from Enotria and Halewood. The ethical wines being added to the Star Pubs & Bars line-up are Sea Change Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc, endorsed by Attenborough. The wine is packaged in lightweight bottles designed to minimise transport impact and raw materials. 20p from the sale of each bottle will go to marine conservation charities Plastic Oceans UK and Sea-Changers. Star Pubs & Bars is also upgrading its wine support for licensees. All business development managers have undergone on-trade wine training and can now access insight and data-led wine menu-building software. The tool will help them create wine lists tailored to each pub. Star Pubs & Bars wine category buyer Roberta Neave said: “We are thrilled to work with our chosen Italian wine partners and, by going directly, we have been able to improve the quality of our offer while becoming competitive on price.”

Coffee#1 to open in redeveloped Wokingham town centre: Coffee#1, which is majority-owned by Caffe Nero, is to open a site in Wokingham’s redeveloped town centre. The venue will launch in Peach Place later this year. Stuart Munro, Wokingham Borough Council executive member for businesses and economic development, told Berkshire Live: “I am pleased to welcome Coffee#1 to Wokingham. With a prime location inside Peach Place it will be the perfect place to grab a hot drink and relax outside in the new pedestrianised square. Wokingham has a reputation for being one of the best places in the country for bringing up a family and we’re keen to reinforce this across the town.” Caffe Nero became the majority owner of Coffee#1 in January this year when it acquired almost 70% ownership from Welsh brewer and retailer SA Brain. The brand, which opened its debut store in Cardiff in 2001, currently operates more than 90 sites.

Edinburgh-based baker Twelve Triangles to open fourth site in the city: Edinburgh-based baker Twelve Triangles, led by Rachel Morgan and Emily Cuddeford, is to open its fourth site in the city. The 15-cover, 500 square foot bakery will open in Dalry Road on Monday, 16 September offering the brand’s signature sourdough loaves, sweet pastries, doughnuts, sandwiches and coffee. The range will also expand at the Dalry location, with new salad pots, sandwiches, tarts and loaf cakes. The site will offer a space to meet and work and a less formal area to the rear for people who want to unwind, while it will also sell Twelve Triangles bakery products, coffee and the brand’s retail range. Morgan and Cuddeford said: “This is becoming a really exciting part of the city for food-lovers. We also have plans to add a workshop space to the Dalry site in early spring.” Twelve Triangles operates two venues in the Leith area of Edinburgh and one in Portobello, the city’s seaside area. 

Notes launches eco-friendly coffee pods: Notes, the ten-strong, London-based coffee shop and wine bar concept chaired by James Horler, has launched two of its premium, single-origin coffees in pods. The pods are compatible with Nespresso coffee-makers and have a 12-month shelf-life but are fully compostable and biodegradable. The range of speciality coffees will be expanded in the future. Notes Coffee co-founder Fabio Ferreira said: “Notes’ philosophy is based on using ethically sourced and fairly traded coffee beans for every roast and the materials we use to supply our customers should be no different. We are immensely proud to be the first to bring a Nespresso-compatible pod to the UK market that is fully compostable and biodegradable.” Ferreira and Robert Robinson founded Notes in 2010. It operates a roastery in Canning Street as well as ten London stores. 

Marston’s renews Lord’s supply agreement: Marston’s Beer Company has announced a renewal of its five-year sponsorship and supply partnership with Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), owner of Lord’s Cricket Ground in London. The new agreement marks the continuation of a ten-year relationship to supply ale, beer, lager, stout and cider to every bar at the iconic “home of cricket”. As the official beer of Lord’s, Marston’s beer brands Pedigree and 61 Deep will be on draught in every bar and advertised on 28 hoardings around the ground. Marston’s free trade sales director Simon Barnes said: “The renewal of our supply and sponsorship agreement for a further five years is testament to the incredible team effort that goes into providing a complete end-to-end service for this special venue. Alongside our extensive portfolio of beer and cider, we provide bespoke telesales, dray and cellar services.” Andy Muggleton, assistant secretary (commercial) at the MCC, added: “Our relationship extends beyond supply into a wider partnership that MCC and Marston’s leverage through their association with each other, meaning we can continue to deliver exceptional service and experiences for fans coming to Lord’s.” 

Costa Coffee staff claim wages are deducted for training: Costa Coffee employees at multiple stores in Essex claim they have had £200 deducted from their final payslip to cover training costs. The BBC said it had spoken to 13 current and former Costa employees at stores in the county who said they had been subjected to other deductions from their wages for “till discrepancies and running costs”. Costa Coffee, which is owned by Coca-Cola, said contracts for franchise stores were managed by partners but admitted some staff contracts did have “clauses relating to deductions”. A Costa Coffee spokeswoman told the BBC: “Deductions are circumstantial and reviewed on a case-by-case basis by the partner.” 

BrewDog to open Cambridge site next week: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog is to launch its latest bar, in Cambridge on Friday, 30 August. The bar will open at 15 Bene’t Street over the road from King’s College. The venue will offer 24 taps, a BrewDog cask line on the bar, coffee, wine, spirits and a burgers and wings menu. BrewDog stated in its blog: “The city on the Cam may well be (roughly) equidistant between London, Norwich and Leicester – with Milton Keynes being even closer – but we are psyched the people who live there will no longer need to travel to find a BrewDog bar. We have found a great location right in the centre of Cambridge.” BrewDog’s latest Equity for Punks campaign, which aims to raise £7m and has a stretch goal of £50m, has seen more than 28,300 investors pledge more than £6m.

SSP rolls out robotic coffee kiosk concept to North American airports: SSP Group, the UK-based transport hub foodservice specialist, has signed an exclusive agreement with Briggo Coffee to introduce Briggo’s robotic Coffee Haus concept to US and Canadian airports. Customers can order ahead from the Briggo mobile app or use touchscreens at the fully automated kiosks to customise hot and iced coffee and tea. Drinks are created in minutes using Briggo’s own-blend beans, fresh dairy and syrup at a rate of 100 cups per hour, while the kiosks operate around the clock. SSP America executive vice-president Pat Murray said: “The SSP America team is passionate about bringing cool, authentic brands to airports. Briggo delivers serious innovation to brewing coffee. We think airports are going to find Briggo an excellent addition to their retail landscape given its small footprint, minimal requirements and turnkey installation.”

Cafe Aroma gets go-ahead for fifth site, in Poole: Dorset-based Cafe Aroma has had plans approved to open its fifth site. Owner Ozan Celik will now launch an outlet in the Broadstone area of Poole after the council agreed to his plans to convert a McColl’s shop in Lower Blandford Road. Cafe Aroma’s menu focuses on British and Mediterranean food. Cafe Aroma’s other bistros are in Poole, Wimborne, Ringwood and Totton.

Beverley-based chocolate cafe opens second East Yorkshire site: Beverley-based White Rabbit Chocolatiers has opened its second cafe in East Yorkshire, this time in Hull. The company, which opened its Beverley site in 2004, has opened a cafe and shop in Hull city centre. The venue in Paragon Arcade offers sweet treats such as ice cream, “ultimate hot chocolate”, chocolate fondue and range desserts. The venue also features a shop downstairs with an ice cream counter. White Rabbit Chocolatiers managing director Ed Hawkes told Hull Live: “We have a full chocolate cafe upstairs selling anything a cafe would sell. It’s not only chocolate but also speciality coffee, tea and light bites. The idea came from the one we’ve got in Beverley. From talking to customers we found a lot of them were from Hull and they asked if we could open a cafe nearer to them.”

Better burger concept in Cheltenham closes after less than a month: Better burger concept EatStreet has closed less than a month after launching in Cheltenham. The restaurant opened at a site in Clarence Street formerly occupied by another burger brand, Holee Cow, which relocated to Winchcombe Street. A post on EatStreet’s social media read: “It is with great regret we are going to have to close the doors permanently due to lack of cash flow. Thanks to all of you who visited us, tried our food and left us some great reviews and feedback.” EatStreet’s owners also operate a pizzeria in Chipping Norton.

Barshu Group opens third BaoziInn site, in Borough: The team behind Barshu Restaurant in Soho, which offers spicy Sichuan specialities, has opened a third London site for its BaoziInn concept. The debut BaoziInn, which means “people’s canteen”, is in Stoney Street, Southwark, while a second site launched in Try Market Halls Victoria. Now the flagship restaurant has opened in Southwark Street, Borough, spanning three floors with a large open kitchen on the ground floor and a cocktail bar and lounge above. The concept offers all-day Cantonese dim sum with Sichuan and Hunan influences. Signature dishes include prawn and pork wontons, and handmade noodles. 

Kent-based brewer acquires debut pub: Kent-based brewer Goachers Ales has acquired its first pub. The Little Gem in Aylesford High Street was closed in 2010 and earmarked for residential development. Thanks to the Saving The Little Gem campaign it was bought at auction and the owner, John Griffiths, got permission from the council for the venue to be turned back into a pub. A year later and with no signs of work being carried out, it has been bought again by Goachers Ales, which is based in Tovil, near Maidstone. The building was once believed to be the smallest pub in the county and has more than 900 followers on Facebook. Manager Howard Goacher told Kent Online: “John Griffiths had bought it and got its pub licence. We approached him at the time to see if he wanted any help or if we could supply him with beer and, long story short, we bought it. We are looking to finish off renovation works such as the electrics before we open so we don’t have to close to carry out any work in the future.”

EF Group acquires Catercost: Catering cloud-based service provider The EF Group has acquired menu planning, nutrition and allergen management service provider Catercost. The EF Group, which trades as e-foods, plans to expand its software platform to offer fully integrated menu planning, allergen compliance, purchasing and supply for all types of catering. Development has already started on a new version of the Catercost cloud-based menu-planning software, which is planned for launch in early 2020. The EF Group chief executive Paul Mizen said: “The sector is increasingly in need of integrated software solutions to help reduce costs and risk while ensuring customer satisfaction and availability of ingredients. Our ambition through this acquisition is to meet all these needs so caterers of all types can focus on what they are great at.”

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