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Tue 14th Jan 2020 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Clive Watson – City Pub Group has had a ‘wake-up call’: City Pub Group chairman Clive Watson has told Propel the company has had a “wake-up call”. The group, which owns and operates 47 premium pubs across southern England and Wales, revealed on Monday (13 January) Ebitda would be “slightly below market expectations” after a “frustrating” fourth quarter. While some of that was outside the company’s control, such as the weather and political uncertainty culminating in the December general election, Watson admitted the business “shot itself in the foot” over the two former Jam Tree sites in Chelsea and Clapham. The pubs reopened in November, too late to fully benefit from Christmas bookings, which hit profitability. He said: “I hope it’s a blip. I think it’s a wake-up call and will stiffen the resolve of everyone in the company. The past seven years for City Pub Group has been upwards and upwards but we’ve had a reality check. It’s a competitive market out there. Our performance over Christmas was good but we’ve had to work hard to effectively stand still. We’ve started the new year more focused and with a clean slate. We’ve got some big openings and we’ll also have the full-year benefit of sites such as Aragon House in west London and The Hoste in Norfolk.” Watson said the company, which reported full-year revenue was up about 31% to £59.8m, would learn from its mistakes over the Jam Tree sites. He added: “We are good at big developments and we’re pretty good at taking over businesses and tweaking them. Where we have to be a bit savvier is with the refurbishments of those businesses and not necessarily making wholesale changes. We have to avoid losing the vibrancy of those places and having to spend time attempting to recapture that market. We are also having much more focus on how we deliver our food.” As part of its refocus on operating margins, Watson said having regionalised the business, which was the “right thing to do”, some functions still overlapped at head office so “we need to make sure the right lines of communications are followed”. Watson said the company’s managing directors, Alex Derrick and Rupert Clark, would “spend more time in the field” while he focused on “more of the corporate stuff”. He said: “They are very good operators and they want to be – and should be – at the heart of their operations. While we’re still in the market for sites we’re not actively looking so (chief financial officer) Tarquin (Williams) and myself can concentrate on the corporate side. Watson said the company wasn’t considering further disposals on top of the two underperforming sites it had put on the market, while it wouldn’t look at any of the 42 pubs put up for sale as part of Stonegate’s proposed takeover of Ei Group.” He added: “We aren’t after pub packages so it’s not something for us, although I’m sure there will be a lot of interest. Our focus is getting the best out of the estate we’ve got and making sure the upcoming openings are really polished in terms of marketing. We’ve still got a lot of work in progress. Am I disappointed with some of the things that have happened at the end of the year? Yes. But am I disappointed by the 31% rise in turnover – definitely not. It isn’t boom time by any means but political certainty increases confidence. We’ll concentrate on getting that focus right in our existing estate and then we’ll be right back in the market.”

Industry News:

Propel Multi Club Conference opens for bookings, James Spragg talks to Mark Wingett, two free places for operators: The first Propel Multi Club Conference of 2020 is open for bookings. The full-day event takes place on Thursday, 5 March at the Millennium Gloucester hotel in London. James Spragg, chief executive of Casual Dining Group, whose brands include Café Rouge and Bella Italia, will talk to Propel insights editor Mark Wingett about making progress in a challenging market for casual dining operators. Multi-site operators of pubs, restaurants and foodservice outlets can book up to two free places by emailing Anne Steele at anne.steele@propelinfo.com

Freehold pub prices rise 19% as new investors attracted to ‘dynamic’ market, bottom-end sites exceed £300,000 for first time since 2006: Freehold pub prices increased 19% as new players were attracted to the sound investment fundamentals the “dynamic” licensed property market offers, according to agent Fleurets’ 2019 survey of pub prices. Despite concerns over the Pub Code, fears of staffing shortages, minimum wage rises and increasing purchase and operational costs, £8.15bn is estimated to have been invested in 18 key transactions in 2019. The report said the increase in the number of package deals had been driven by the “opportunity to acquire a large asset-backed, cash-generating, UK-centric business as a hedge against the economic uncertainty of Brexit”. The average freehold sales price was up 19% to £589,262, although volumes were down 11%. Bottom-end sales volume fell 17%, while the average sale price rose 24% to £343,000 – the first time this sub-sector has exceeded £300,000 since peak prices were seen in 2006-07. The national leasehold sales price increased 35% to £51,500 due, in part, to a 21% increase in average revenue as quality increased. The report stated: “2019 pub transaction volumes were dominated by a handful of significant merger and acquisition deals, with six deals accounting for circa 7,400 sales. Brexit has been one of the reasons for the increased activity. The private market in 2019 remained subdued in terms of transaction volumes. This is particularly the case in the mid-market, which is dominated by individual buyers immobilised by economic uncertainty and restricted by the availability of finance. Towards either end of the scale the market for smaller, bottom-end properties and larger prime sites has been strong. There are no signs activity will stop in 2020. We expect further rationalisation and consolidation of the managed pub market. We anticipate bottom-end prices will continue to rise as asset quality improves and demand continues to exceed supply. Transaction volumes are expected to be maintained, with increased disposal activity in the second half of the year as new owners complete estate reviews and identify opportunities to invest, or churn, their estates. Overseas investment into well-operated and established companies still looks attractive and takeover deals for listed companies should not be discounted. Operators will focus on structured growth as the sub-markets consolidate.” The report showed almost two-thirds (65%) of all freehold pubs sold remained as pubs.

UK food industry must ‘ensure vegan products are authentic’: The UK food industry must work together to ensure the latest plant-based and vegan products are authentic, food safety certification company Lloyd’s Register has said. This year more than 350,000 people have signed up for the Veganuary initiative, a 40% increase on last year, with numerous brands launching meat and dairy-free products. However, after some brands revealed their products weren’t completely vegan or vegetarian because of ingredients being manufactured on the same production line as meat or cooked using the same equipment, Lloyd’s said consumer scepticism had risen. Despite there now being more than 600,000 vegans in the UK, according to the Vegan Society, almost one-fifth (19%) of UK consumers described themselves as “not confident at all” or “very suspicious” that vegan products might contain meat or dairy. Stuart Kelly, head of commercial, customised assurance at Lloyds Register, said: “In an industry built on trust, vegan manufacturers, retailers and restaurants must work together to bolster consumers’ confidence in the food they eat. There’s evidence adding vegan options to your offering is working well for companies but, with the rise of meat or dairy substitutes, the industry faces the challenge of removing any consumer doubt that products are indeed suitable for a vegan diet. It is the responsibility of those working in the food supply chain to co-operate and instil this level of trust in today’s consumer.”

Essex signs for Drinkaware’s night-time safety scheme: Essex has signed up for the Nightlife Crew training initiative that was launched by independent alcohol education charity Drinkaware in November. Essex joins Hackney and Cardiff in adopting the night-time safety scheme, which will see trained Nightlife Crew teams active in a number of the county’s largest bars and clubs, reuniting customers with their friends and possessions or helping them to get home safely. The initial 12-month trial will focus on Colchester, Chelmsford, Basildon and Southend and is being funded by Essex emergency services and Chelmsford Business Improvement District. Detective chief inspector Mark Barber, of Essex Police, said: “The Nightlife Crew teams can help to prevent antisocial behaviour and possible sexual offences. They give an extra level of reassurance to customers in bars and clubs as well as freeing up bar managers and security staff to manage their venue, which results in less disruption and fewer calls to emergency services.”

Company News:

Brasserie Bar Co FY Ebitda up 15.2%, achieves transformation into food-led pub company: Brasserie Bar Co, owner of White Brasserie Company and Brasserie Blanc, saw sales for the year to the end of June 2019 climb 6.7% to £57.8m as it described 2019 as a watershed for the business as it achieved its transformation into a “market-leading food-led pub company”. The Mark Derry-led company reported a 15% increase in site Ebitda to £8.5m, partly driven by gross margins increasing from 71.9% to 72.3%. The company said it achieved 2.4% like-for-like sales growth during the year, with “positive growth” in both brands, while group Ebitda rose 15.2% to £4m. By the year end the group had opened two pubs, investing a total of £1.8m, and disposed of two underperforming high-street restaurants for premiums. Despite a non-cash impairment of £1.5m, the group loss after tax improved from £9.5m to £6.2m. As a result, the movement away from the congested high street means its estate now comprises a majority of food-led pubs – at year end the group operated 19 pubs and 18 brasseries. In total, 50% of the revenue in the ongoing business now derives from the pub estate and 60% of the site Ebitda. A further site in Prestbury, near Cheltenham, opened in December and is believed to be trading well ahead of expectations. Brasserie Bar Co is believed to have traded well since the end of June 2019, with total sales to the half year (December) up 8% and group Ebitda up 13%. Derry said: “The strategy of taking underinvested, and hence underperforming, pub sites in sophisticated areas has proved highly successful. For the most part we are trebling existing trade, with guests grateful for the transformation of their local pub back to, and often beyond, its former glory. We served more than two million customers across the group and will continue to develop ways to maintain a market-leading position. The management has also consolidated our high-street restaurant units, Brasserie Blanc, while concurrently continuing to invest in a promising hotel model. These sites, although less than half of our total estate, perform very strongly in iconic locations. They continue to grow sales and market share in their local markets, increasingly so as many of our competitors continue to retrench. Despite the success, the management is anything but complacent. It remains on the front foot, constantly looking to evolve the already exciting pub offer. Recent sites have included features such as tank beer and, in the new pub near the sea in Highcliffe, colourful beach huts have been installed for year-round private dining. The new sites are therefore ever improving and sit at the top of our sales-per-outlet leader board. Following the reorganisation of the senior team, a number of initiatives have been implemented by our best people. End-to-end analysis of our back-office functions has led to several streamlining projects, which will bear fruit in the coming years. We have measurable improvements in recruitment, retention and training alongside major strides forward in purchasing and margin and labour controls. We have looked at kitchen organisation and modernised the food and drink offer. Also, the marketing team has been strengthened. All in all, the projects promise to make considerable contributions as we evolve our business into next year and beyond.”

Sandpiper CI to acquire Guernsey Pub Company for £28.5m: Channel Islands-based Sandpiper CI has agreed to acquire Guernsey Pub Company, owner of brewer and pub operator Randalls of Guernsey, for £28.5m. The company said it had raised £15m as part of a shares placing, with net proceeds of the placing to be used to part-fund the acquisition. The deal comprises 13 tenanted and six managed pubs, plus one managed fish bar in Guernsey and one managed pub in Sark. All but four of the sites are freehold. The company also brews Breda lager and distils vodka and gin from its La Piette Brewery. In the year to 31 March 2019, the company generated Ebitda of circa £2.55m, which grew to £2.83m over the six months to the end of September 2019. In April 2006 the business, which had been in the ownership of the Randall family, was sold to Guernsey Pub Company, a group of private investors including lead investor Jon Moulton, the venture capitalist and former backer of Walkabout Bars, for an undisclosed sum. Sandpiper, which is listed on the International Stock Exchange, currently operates more than 80 sites across the Channel Islands, Gibraltar and Spain under brands such as Costa, Burger King, Hotel Chocolat, Cornish Bakery and Marks & Spencer. Propel understands Sapient Corporate Finance advised Guernsey Pub Company on the deal with Sandpiper CI.

Wagamama opens its first delivery kitchen outside London: The Restaurant Group-owned brand Wagamama has opened its first standalone delivery kitchen outside London, Propel has learned. The company, which operates delivery kitchens in Hackney and Bow, has opened a kitchen in Woodhouse Moor Park, Leeds. Propel revealed last year the company was building a pipeline of delivery kitchens as it looks to learn about and optimise the model. The Emma Woods-led company opened its first delivery kitchen – in Hackney during the summer. The site is believed to have traded well, which has given the company confidence to build a small pipeline of kitchens. The first opened last November in Bow. Propel also understands the company is in negotiations on a further site for a delivery kitchen in the capital. Wagamama launched into the delivery kitchen market in 2018 when it took space at Deliveroo Editions in Battersea, south London. Highlighting the growing importance of a delivery strategy, Wagamama reported its first £1m week of delivery sales during the second quarter of its current financial year. A number of operators are believed to be exploring the delivery/dark kitchen space at present, including Nando’s and Tortilla. Last year McDonald’s opened its first UK dark kitchen, in Hanworth, west London.

Soho House to launch 180 Strand this spring: Soho House will launch 180 House at 180 Strand in London this spring. The site will have two floors of members’ space along with a restaurant, bar and rooftop pool with 360-degree views of the capital. Underneath will be Soho Works, a workspace primarily designed for Soho House members. 180 Strand has been reimagined as a “creative hub to foster and connect creatives, entrepreneurs, dynamic thinkers and cultural explorers”. The interiors will reflect the design of the Brutalist landmark, with the original features retained and a mid-century inspired and softened 1970s feel. On the ninth floor will be a rooftop pool with south-facing views over the Thames, London Eye and Parliament, and a restaurant and bar encased in a glass box with floor-to-ceiling windows giving uninterrupted views over St Paul’s and the City of London. The eighth floor will house the main club space, while the floors below will house Soho Works. 180 Strand will be the flagship Soho Works site, with other locations being added in London, New York, Los Angeles and Hong Kong.

Five Guys set for Brighton and Chiswick: US better burger brand Five Guys has further strengthened its 2020 openings pipeline by securing sites in Brighton and Chiswick, Propel has learned. The company, which opened its 100th UK site last month at the former Coppa Club in London’s St Paul’s, is understood to have exchanged on the site in Brighton’s Jubilee Street that Carluccio’s will exit this Sunday (19 January). At the same time, Propel understands Five Guys has also secured the former Jackson & Rye in Chiswick High Road for an opening this year. The company already has openings lined up in Bath, Fulham Broadway, Swindon Designer Outlet and London’s Baker Street. Earlier this month Propel revealed Five Guys has secured the dim t More London site. Tasty, which operates the dim t brand, said it had agreed to sell the site near London Bridge for a gross cash consideration of £2m.

Swingers appoints Mercer as UK people director: Competitive Socialising, the parent company of street food and crazy golf concept Swingers, has appointed Tom Mercer, formerly of Coco di Mama, as UK people director. Mercer joined the Azzurri Group-backed Italian concept as its first head of people in March 2018 after spending more than 12 years at EAT. Last year Competitive Socialising received “significant” backing from private investment firm Cain International towards expansion, with a number of Swingers openings targeted in North America and the launch of a second Competitive Socialising concept in the UK.

Pho lines up launch in £70m Lincoln development: Vietnamese street food restaurant group Pho, which is backed by Gresham House Ventures, is to further strengthen its estate outside London with an opening in Lincoln. The company, which will soon open its 30th site, in Sheffield’s mixed-used Leopold Square development, is the latest to sign up for Lincoln’s £70m development The Cornhill Quarter. Pho will take 2,917 square feet in the Cornhill, which will also house an Everyman cinema and New World Trading Company brand The Botanist. Oli Marcroft, associate partner at KLM Retail, which advises on the scheme, said: “Pho will bring a valuable restaurant offer to The Cornhill Quarter and Lincoln city centre, extending the night-time economy significantly alongside the already open Cosy Club and The Botanist. We look forward to sharing more news as we move forward with the scheme.” It’s understood Pho is also working to secure sites in Edinburgh and the Midlands for its 2020 pipeline. The company, which Stephen and Juliette Wall founded in 2005, saw a 12.8% increase in turnover to £34.4m in the year to the end of February 2019, driven by a 5.4% increase in like-for-like sales.

French better burger brand Big Fernand makes UK return: French better burger brand Big Fernand has crossed the Channel and returned to London. The company, which operates more than 55 restaurants in Paris, China and the Middle East since launching in 1993, made its UK debut in London’s Percy Street in 2015. The project proved fairly short-lived but the brand said it believed the “London audience would now be more receptive”. Big Fernand has returned to open at 39 Thurloe Place in South Kensington, which formerly housed Kulu Kulu Sushi. Big Fernand offers nine signature burgers made with beef and paired with cheese, sauce and potatoes, all sourced from France. A DIY option means the brand can provide more than 3,840 combinations, the company said. Sides include French fries and crudités with dips, while desserts are served by the ladle. Drinks include grenadine blended with orange, lemon, mint or water, while alcoholic options include shandy, French craft beer, wine and aperitifs. Big Fernand will also launch a light breakfast menu next month featuring continental breakfast essentials such as freshly made pastries and bread baked on-site. A spokeswoman said: “We are bringing the joy of le hamburgé to London, whatever the weather (ahem, le political climate). A little rule-breaking never hurt anyone. Vive la resistance et vive la difference!”

Liverpool independent tea shop and bar acquires former Flying Pig & Lobster pub in West Kirby: Liverpool independent tea shop and bar Leaf is to open a site at former West Kirby pub The Viking, which Flying Pig & Lobster, the pub business Mission Mars operates with chef Simon Rimmer, closed in October. Leaf West Kirby will offer more than 70 teas, breakfast, brunch and lunch, as well as craft gin, beer, cocktails and wine. Founder Natalie Haywood told Insider Media: “Our new home in the much-loved Viking site feels wonderful already and we’re excited about working closely with the community to deliver a distinctive events programme throughout the year.” Leaf was founded as a small tea shop in a Liverpool city centre gallery in 2007 before opening in Bold Street in 2010. It has since expanded to Smithdown Road in the city as well as Portland Street in Manchester. The company is also behind Oh Me Oh My and One Fine Day in Liverpool. Based in Black Horse Hill, The Viking opened in 2016 with the aim to “bring a modern British pub to West Kirby”. Flying Pig & Lobster closed the site after “finding it more challenging to maintain a high-quality guest experience”.

F&B sales at Icon Outlet up 10% in 2019 on back of bumper festive period: Food and beverage sales at Icon Outlet at The O2, the 210,000 square foot urban outlet developed by AEG and Crosstree Real Estate, were up 10% in 2019 on the back of a bumper festive period. Sales in the Entertainment District rose 33% in the period from 23 December to 5 January. In 2019, The O2 strengthened its food and beverage offer by opening the street food quarter featuring seafood restaurant Hook, Indian street food concept Scarlet, Beer+Burger and Thunderbird Fried Chicken as well as the arrival of restaurants such as plant-based brand By Chloe and Australian brand Butcher and the Farmer. This has expanded the range of bars and restaurants to more than 30 and introduced grab-and-go options. Overall, like-for-like sales at Icon Outlet at The O2 during the Christmas period grew 39%, benefiting from a 34% increase in footfall to The O2 – excluding customers to The O2 Arena. The O2 has continued to add to its offer with Oxygen Freejumping trampoline park making its debut and Cineworld expanding to become London’s largest cinema with 19 screens. CBRE and CWM are the retail leasing agents for Icon Outlet, with Lunson Mitchenall leading on the food and beverage leasing.

Heavenly Desserts to open Coventry site: Artisan dessert restaurant Heavenly Desserts is to open a site in Coventry. The company will open the outlet at a unit in a former Co-op in Corporation Street in March. Heavenly Desserts’ menu includes pancakes, waffles, fondants, cakes and slices as well as tea, coffee and soft drinks. New store openings manager Usaamah Ashfaq told Coventry Live: “Heavenly Desserts is all about using the best ingredients, creating the perfect desserts and giving our guests an unrivalled experience.” Heavenly Desserts was founded in 2008 and operates circa 20 sites, with new outlets “coming soon” on its website including Birmingham, Manchester and York.

Pizza Pilgrims opens Victoria restaurant for 12th site: Pizza Pilgrims, founded by brothers Thom and James Elliot, has opened its 12th site, in London’s Victoria. The venue in Buckingham Palace Road is split into four areas, each representing a region of Italy. The bar is called Amalfi, while the main restaurant is called Naples and resembles a traditional cobbled piazza with outside seating. The Emilia-Romagna stairway leads to the Parmigiano Corridor, which features rows of Parmesan cheese wheels. The wine room has been inspired by Tuscany and features a wine wall while doubling up as a private dining room, reports Hot Dinners. Pizza Pilgrims operates ten other restaurants in London and one in Oxford.

Yapster partners with S4labour: Mobile messaging app Yapster has partnered with S4Labour, the online labour-scheduling management system from Catton Hospitality. S4labour, which helps hospitality companies cut costs, manage HR tasks and improve service, will be hosted on Yapster’s dedicated applications tab. Employees will be able to access their S4labour account in Yapster and request holidays, log employee performance reviews, and create and access rotas. Yapster chief executive Rob Liddiard said: “By aligning S4labour’s intuitive platform with our instant messaging capability, our customers will have seamless access to the tools they need to manage their teams more effectively.” S4Labour chief product officer Richard Hartley said: “Effective communication helps set the right culture for a successful business, be it shouting about your successes, praising great performance or cascading key information from the top all the way through the business.”

Searcys launches sommelier training for non-alcoholic pairings: Searcys is to launch a sommelier training initiative that will focus on non-alcoholic drinks pairings. The company’s beverage ambassador, Joel Claustre, will lead the programme and introduce the pairing alternatives at St Pancras Brasserie and Champagne Bar with the aim to roll out across all Searcys’ venues. Suggested pairing alternatives will include low-alcohol craft beer Big Drop with a quinoa, avocado and pink grapefruit salad; and kombucha-based cocktails with chargrilled chicken, lemon and couscous. The pairings will be available on the venue’s all-day menus and for private events. Claustre said: “With the continued rise of non-drinkers, we believe it’s key to offer drink alternatives that don’t compromise on flavour or quality.”

California Pizza Kitchen rolls out Yumpingo across US sites: US restaurant brand California Pizza Kitchen has partnered with restaurant intelligence platform Yumpingo across its sites. California Pizza Kitchen piloted Yumpingo’s one-minute digital review platform software at three flagship restaurants in Los Angeles in August and the software will now be rolled out across all 181 US outlets in the first half of this year, starting next month. Yumpingo delivered more than 93,000 in-the-moment responses from consumers visiting the three trial sites. Mike Mader, senior vice-president of global strategy, planning and transformation at California Pizza Kitchen, said: “This is providing real-time insights at scale and unparalleled speed that’s allowing us to up our game in delivering best-in-class hospitality.” Yumpingo chief executive Gary Goodman added: “To gather so much meaningful insight from only three sites means our partnership will give California Pizza Kitchen unprecedented reach into the preferences of its guests and enable its teams to feed more happiness across its entire system.”

Stonegate recognised for employee well-being strategy: Stonegate Pub Company has been named a finalist in the best new well-being strategy category in awards organised by the Reward & Employee Benefits Association. Stonegate launched a mental health training programme in partnership with the Licensed Trade Charity in November. The training will see more than 1,000 Stonegate managers take part in workshops designed to help them identify colleagues who may be struggling and guide them towards specialist help and support services. The company’s employee base has grown 13% since 2017 following a number of acquisitions. HR director Tim Painter said: “The mental health training programme is a significant investment for our business but we firmly believe it’s important to address this area. We also recently launched an I-choose app to offer greater flexibility around working hours and lifestyles.” The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony on Thursday, 5 March.

Hotel operator to open Lake District property next month for second site: Hotel operator Serena Von Der Heyde will open a Lake District property next month for her second site. Von Der Heyde will relaunch the Oak Bank Hotel in Grasmere as the Victorian House Hotel. She acquired the property in September from Glynis and Simon Wood off an asking price of £1.5m in a deal brokered by agent Christie & Co. Victorian House Hotel will have 19 bedrooms, a shepherd’s hut, open-plan shared guest spaces, a riverside garden and outdoor facilities. The food offer will feature an all-day menu of Cumbrian tapas, cheese boards and light sharing dishes. Von Der Heyde also operates the Georgian House Hotel in Pimlico, London. She said: “This is such an exciting development for the Georgian House Hotel family. I’ve always loved the Lake District and when I saw the property I knew we’d be able to create something really special.”

Waterworld makes waves with £100,000 investment: Waterworld Leisure Group has invested more than £100,000 on wave-making machines at Waterworld in Stoke-on-Trent. The investment follows the launch of multimillion-pound super-ride complex Tornado Alley in August as part of a £12m expansion of the resort. Owner Mo Chaudry told The Business Desk: “We have an ongoing programme of investment and expansion planned for the Waterworld site throughout 2020 to build on the success of our 30th anniversary.” In November, Waterworld Leisure Group reported turnover rose to £4.5m for the year ending 31 December 2018, compared with £4.0m the previous year. Ebitda during the period remained at £1.7m. Operating profit was down to £1.0m from £1.2m the year before, while pre-tax profit fell to £998,000 from £1.2m the previous year. Chaudry has been at Waterworld since 1999, when he took over the operation from The Rank Group.

Budweiser appoints former bomb disposal expert as UK and Ireland on-trade sales director: Budweiser Brewing Group UK & Ireland, which is part of AB InBev, has appointed Ryan Fritsch as on-trade sales director responsible for the group’s entire portfolio. Fritsch replaces Rory McLellan, who moves to the role of logistics director. Fritsch has been with AB InBev for two years, most recently as country manager for Luxembourg. Before joining the company he worked around the world as a US Navy bomb disposal expert and instructor. He said: “I look forward to demonstrating our continued commitment to customers in 2020, from expanding our sales force and bringing our drinks dispense service in-house to playing a part in the overall success of the UK pub and bar industry.” Budweiser Brewing Group UK & Ireland president Paula Lindenberg said: “A key focus is to accelerate momentum in the on-trade following the growth we achieved under Rory’s leadership. We know Ryan will play an integral role in achieving our goals.”

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