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Mon 3rd Feb 2020 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Liberation Group FY like-for-likes up 3.6%, plans further freehold pub acquisitions: Channel Islands and West Country-based brewer and retailer Liberation Group saw its full-year like-for-like sales across its managed pubs increase 3.6%, Propel has learned. Like-for-like drink sales were up 5.1%, while food rose 0.8% and accommodation increased 8.5% The company said its tenanted pubs delivered a strong performance, with like-for-like Ebitda per pub up 3.8%, with growth achieved in the UK and the Channel Islands. The Jonathan Lawson-led business said 2019 had been a year of “significant change” across its 39 managed pubs and 69 tenanted sites. It said Christmas trading was “strong”, with like-for-like sales up 6.5% in the six weeks to early January, with drink up 5.2%, food up 5.9% and accommodation up 35%. The business said a key highlight was the performance of wine and spirits following the decision in the autumn to partner with Bibendum. For the six weeks of the festive season, wine sales grew year-on-year by 11% and spirits grew 7.3%. It said both its wholesale businesses in Jersey and Guernsey grew drink sales year-on-year, which it said reflected “the close and long-standing customer relationships developed over many years”. However, the group said its Butcombe Brewing business had a more challenging time with volumes down 3% for the full year. The company highlighted new leadership brought in midway through the year had brought clear direction for the business and overall brewing volumes for the past six months were up1%. Lawson, who joined Liberation at the end of 2018, told Propel: “We have an immensely talented team with a good mix of new talent and valued long service colleagues. There has been a significant amount of change and work to establish a strong platform for growth going forward, both organically and via acquisitions. We have disposed of five pubs in the year with proceeds reinvested into the core estate. By the end of the year, 15 of our 39 managed pubs will have received capital investment, with four major developments and 11 sparkles. We have been encouraged by the response to these investments and our programme has continued in the first few weeks of the new financial year. Our estate of 69 tenanted pubs also offers opportunities for capital investment in partnership with some of our talented tenants. In addition, we have identified three pubs in our tenanted estate that we believe are suitable for our managed division, and they have been transferred and awaiting development. Developing our people is one of our highest priorities and our new head of people (Jody Bennett, ex-Sainsbury’s) has moved swiftly to establish plans to improve opportunities for learning and development across the group. Our brands of Liberation and Butcombe have been reinvigorated and we look forward to launching new creatives for our brewing businesses and our pub estate. Looking forward into 2020, we aim to build upon this momentum and seek opportunities to expand our estate of freehold pubs in both our managed and tenanted businesses.”
 

Industry News:

Propel Multi Club Conference to feature 11 great speakers, two free places for operators: The speaker line-up has been revealed for the first Propel Multi Club Conference of 2020, which is open for bookings. The full-day event takes place on Thursday, 5 March at the Millennium Gloucester hotel in London. Tim Martin, chairman and founder of JD Wetherspoon, will talk to Propel managing director Paul Charity about the realities of success in the pub trade and business, while James Spragg, chief executive of Casual Dining Group, will talk to Propel insights editor Mark Wingett about making progress in a challenging market for casual dining operators. BrewDog chief operating officer David McDowall will talk about the growth and development of the company’s bar network, franchising, USPs, training and plans, while Kerb chief executive Simon Mitchell will provide an overview of the UK’s food market scene including developing street food operators and the company’s first permanent street food site, in Covent Garden. Crepeaffaire founder Daniel Spinath will talk about the genesis, development and potential of his brand, backing from the BGF, airport locations and franchising, while Simon French, of boutique management advisory and research firm Bixteth Partners, will look at major trends affecting the sector and what lies ahead. Meanwhile, leading barrister Sarah Clover will examine the major legal challenges the sector faces and Andrew Gallagher, former marketing director at Cote and Ten Pin, will give his top ten tips to maximise the impact of your marketing budget. David Sweeney, UK head of business development at Dodo Pizza, will reveal how the company created a new pizza offer underpinned by innovative technology, while franchise industry veteran Ian Saunders will answer the question, should I take my UK business overseas and, if so, how? Andrea George, head of retail and leisure at developer Bruntwood, will talk about the company’s foodservice incubation space Hatch, the importance of experiential dining, the rise of food halls, and the role of food and drink in creating a destination. 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
 
More than a quarter of UK adults cut down on drinking in January: More than a quarter (27%) of UK drinkers reduced, or completely stopped, drinking in January, according to research by independent alcohol education charity Drinkaware. The study found almost three quarters (72%) of those people who said they drank less or stopped drinking last month, plan to continue doing so in the long term. In this group, 59% said they plan to continue to reduce their drinking in the long term, while 12% said they plan to stop drinking completely. The research, carried out by YouGov on behalf of Drinkaware, also found taking drink-free days is the most popular technique to cut down on drinking. More than a third (38%) of these drinkers who are planning to cut down in the long term said they would take drink free days during the week. A third (33%) intend to avoid alcohol on a “work” night while more than a quarter (26%) intend to set themselves a drinking limit. Drinkaware's chief executive Elaine Hindal said: “With a growing number of people cutting down on their drinking or cutting it out completely, operators will need to continue to adapt their drinks offer.”
 
BBPA appoints new chairman: The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has appointed Phil Whitehead, managing director of Molson Coors Western Europe, as its new chairman. Whitehead succeeds Simon Emeny, chief executive of London premium pubs and hotels business Fuller's, who was chairman of the BBPA for two years. Whitehead has been at Molson Coors for the past 14 years, where his previous positions include chief supply chain officer for the brewer’s European operations and managing director for the UK & Ireland business before taking up his current role as managing director of Western Europe. He has served on the BBPA's board since December 2016. Whitehead said: “The pub and a pint are a British institution woven into the fabric of communities across the country, but the sector is facing increasing pressures and challenges. The BBPA is a vital partner tackling these issues. As chairman, I’m excited to play a role in protecting and promoting our unique industry. Working with (chief executive) Emma (McClarkin), and the team of industry ambassadors and innovators at the BBPA, we will look to champion new ways for our industry to remain a relevant, vibrant and valued part of the UK economy, while safeguarding the legacy of British beer and pubs – a cornerstone of our history and culture.”
 
Operators should ‘educate consumers to reinvigorate wine sales’: Operators should educate consumers to boost wine sales, which have fallen 5.9% year-on-year, according to new research. CGA’s Next Big Thing For Wine report found two-fifths (40%) of out-of-home wine drinkers have an active interest in the category but only 6% consider themselves “very knowledgeable” about it. The report highlighted ways to increase the appeal of wine to different age groups. The 18 to 34 age group feels most knowledgeable about wine and is much more likely to be influenced by bar staff recommendations and wine-tasting events. Those aged 35 to 54 are more inclined to self-learn rather than seek advice, using educational wine menus to make their choices. Consumers aged 55 and over require staff knowledge the most and also have the highest average spend on wine. The report also revealed there has been a renaissance in English wine, with sales up 33% year-on-year. There is increasing innovation in serves, including self-dispense and canned wine, as well as growing interest in wine-based spritz cocktails, with almost three-quarters (72%) of cocktail drinkers saying they would drink one out of home. Mark Newton, senior partnership development manager at CGA, said: “We know wine can be a daunting category for consumers to navigate and this report shows a big knowledge gap is holding back sales. Tools such as recommendations, menus and tastings can help people feel more comfortable about choosing wine, with greater confidence leading to greater spending. However, consumers behave differently in this complex market and it’s crucial to know which marketing levers to pull for which age groups.”
 
Ministers to speak at Hospitality Apprenticeship Showcase: Michelle Donelan, minister for children and families, and Helen Whately, minister for arts, heritage and tourism, will speak at the Hospitality Apprenticeship Showcase in the House of Commons on Tuesday (4 February). The ministers will also hand out certificates to apprentices. More than 200 representatives from hospitality businesses across the UK are gearing up to attend the fourth annual showcase, which coincides with National Apprentice Week. Keith Knowles, chief executive of pan-European hostel and bar operator Beds and Bars and chairman of Perceptions Group, an industry collective responsible for organising the event, said: “Hospitality is unique in the UK job market. We have a huge range of diverse opportunities available, from the kitchen, to HR, marketing and finance. On top of this companies in the sector are dedicated to the training and development of their people, uplifting employees and encouraging career progression. This is an industry where it’s not unusual to start at grass roots on minimum wage and progress to senior management positions – and we see many examples of successful industry leaders who have done just that.”
 
Job of the week: COREcruitment is seeking an operations manager on behalf of a small hospitality group. The individual needs to have experience of financial accountability and in-depth knowledge of the London bar and dining scene. The position offers a salary of between £70,000 and £80,000. For more information or a confidential chat, email Hollie@corecruitment.com
 

Company News:

Marlon Abela-led restaurant businesses in administration, placed on the market: The restaurant businesses owned by Mayfair tycoon Marlon Abela have been placed into administration and put on the market, Propel understands. It is believed RSM has been appointed administrators to Marc Umu – trading as Umu; Daily Rare – trading as The Square; Mortons The Restaurant; and Marc (Greenhouse). Propel understands property advisors Lambert Smith Hampton has been appointed to market properties owned by these companies – the Mayfair-based restaurants Umu, The Square and The Greenhouse; and Berkeley Square members’ club Morton’s. Hot Dinners reported over the weekend both The Square and Morton’s had closed, with the former understood to have been closed down by bailiffs midway through lunch service on Friday (31 January). It is thought Abela may look to buy some or all of the sites back, although Richard Caring has also been linked with an interest in the businesses. It comes just over a year after Abela was forced to inject millions of pounds as the business went into liquidation — pulling it out of insolvency. The company told the Sunday Times earlier this month it had been a “challenging time for the hospitality sector”, adding Abela was looking at options to restructure to “ensure the best outcome for all stakeholders”.
 
Chilango promotes operations director Richard Franks to MD: Mexican restaurant brand Chilango, which earlier this month had its company voluntary arrangement (CVA) proposals approved, has promoted its operations director Richard Franks to managing director, Propel has learned. Franks, who joined the business from Gather & Gather four years ago, was formerly managing director of Apostrophe Cafes. He also spent a year at Harris + Hoole, and before that almost eight years at EAT. Last September, Chilango’s founders Eric Partaker and Dan Houghton, acting as directors, decided to make their co-chief executive roles redundant and the search process for a managing director started in October. Houghton’s co-chief executive role was made redundant on 1 October, with his notice period ending on 31 December. Partaker was to remain chief executive until the new managing director joined the business, at which point his role would also be made redundant. Partaker and Houghton both remain as non-executive directors and major shareholders in the business. Houghton was to explore interim head of data roles going forward, and is currently working with Vita Mojo and City Pantry. As part of the CVA proposal, the company will exit leases for unopened sites in Bristol, Leeds and Brighton, plus its former site in Camden, now sublet to German Doner Kebab. It also proposed to cut rents by 40% at its sites in London’s Leather Lane, Birmingham and Boxpark Croydon. The steps are part of the company’s plans to get a grip on its finances and its £6.9m debt pile.
 
Former Masala Zone MD Tim Selby joins Gusto as its new operations director: Italian casual dining group Gusto, which has been backed by Palatine Private Equity since 2014, has appointed Tim Selby, former managing director of Masala Zone, as its new operations director, Propel has learned. Selby has joined the Matt Snell-led, 18-strong business, after almost three years leading the Masala Zone business, which includes its eponymous chain of sites, plus high-end, London-based restaurants Chutney Mary, Veeraswamy and Amaya. Selby also previously had stints at Fuller’s and TGI Friday’s. Speaking to Propel last year, Snell said the business was ready to resume its roll out and explore non-traditional locations for the brand after reporting a slight rise in full-year sales. Snell told Propel as the group entered the second year of its three-year strategic plan, expansion was back on the table, with the company already in discussions on several potential sites. He told Propel: “We would hope to open two to three sites in the next year. We are looking at opportunities in the south and want to develop hubs. Gusto has traditionally been in high streets but we want to start exploring new types of location and look at shopping centres, new schemes and transport hubs.”
 
TRG adds pie-based virtual delivery brand to Frankie & Benny’s estate: The Restaurant Group (TRG), the owner of Wagamama and Chiquito, has introduced a further virtual delivery brand into its Frankie & Benny’s estate. Propel understands the company has launched PIE (Guys), which offers classic pie and mash for £9.99; pie and mash for two at £18.99; plus an assortment of pies, with names including the drunken cow, blue bull and foraging chick for £5.99£ to £6.49. Sides, dips and drinks are also available. TRG has launched a number of virtual delivery brands over the past year through both its existing restaurant estate and out of dark kitchens. Chiquito so far offers the Chicken Cartel, Cornstar Tacos, Levi Roots’ Kitchen and Kick Ass Burrito virtual brands, while Frankie & Benny’s has Stacks and Birdbox. Out of the Foodstars kitchen in Battersea, it also operates virtual brands K-Bird, Pyjama Hotel, Daily Naan, Baragara and Jumping Pans.
 
Pho lines up Nottingham opening: 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 Nottingham. The 29-strong group is believed to be close to securing a site in the former National Videogame Arcade in Carlton Street, in the Hockley area of the city. The company, which will soon open its 30th site in Sheffield’s mixed-used Leopold Square development, recently signed 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. It’s understood Pho is also working to secure a site in Edinburgh 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.
 
Greater Manchester-based Tre Ciccio acquired out of administration: Tre Ciccio, the southern Italy-inspired restaurant that operates three sites in Greater Manchester, has been acquired out of administration, saving 60 jobs. The company’s restaurants in Altrincham and Ramsbottom have been acquired by Acorn 20 with new investors. The restaurants will be led by Ian Templeton, who takes on non-executive chairman and financial director roles. The move comes after Patrick Lannagan and Conrad Pearson, of Mazars, were appointed joint administrators earlier this month. Tre Ciccio was founded by Francesco Scafuri, Alan Ritchie and James Gingell in 2016 and is Italian for “three chubby friends”. It opened its first restaurant in Altrincham in 2018, with further sites launching in Bramhall and Ramsbottom. However, the Bramhall site shut last month for what owners called a short period “while we restructure”. Lannagan said there had been expressions of interest in the Bramhall site and he hoped it would reopen “soon” under new ownership. He added: “The sales of the businesses and assets of Tre Ciccio’s Altrincham and Ramsbottom restaurants have been completed, securing 60 jobs. Both have been sold as going concerns. We are now proceeding to deal with the potential sale of the presently closed Bramhall restaurant.”
 
YiFang secures Manchester site: Taiwanese fruit tea concept YiFang is to open its debut site in the north west – and second outside London – in Manchester this spring. The company is opening the 1,700 square foot outlet at the University Green development in Oxford Road following a deal brokered by agent Shelley Sandzer. More than 20 varieties of traditional and contemporary tea – including fruit tea, fresh milk tea with tapioca pearl, and the signature brown sugar “Mud Flip” – will be served from the Manchester cafe, which is focused around a “green” concept and features regular customer-centric events, such as floristry and painting, with space to display the creations within the cafe itself. Since its launch in 2016, YiFang has opened more than 600 stores across the globe. Its tea range is made with no preservatives or additives and is harvested from its own mountain plantations, while fruit comes from its own farms or from local markets. YiFang owner Pokai Wang said: “The spotlight is very much on Taiwan’s food and drink culture, and since launching our first permanent store in the UK in 2018, we have experienced an overwhelming affection for our teas. Opening in Manchester is the right step as we expand the offer across the UK.” Etai Page, leasing agent at Shelley Sandzer, added: “We’ve been part of YiFang’s UK expansion from the very start, and this first move to the north west marks a big stepping stone for the brand. University Green is an exciting development in a vibrant growth area of Manchester, and YiFang will bring another dimension to its existing line-up.”
 
Takeaway.com declares £5.6bn Just Eat takeover unconditional, CMA investigation ongoing: Dutch firm Takeaway.com has declared its £5.9bn takeover of Just Eat unconditional. The companies said in a statement the combination, which will create the largest food ordering and delivery service in Europe, has been renamed Just Eat Takeaway.com NV. Shares in the combined company will begin trading on the London Stock Exchange on Monday (3 February). The companies said an investigation by Britain’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is still ongoing and the two businesses must continue operating under separate management and branding until the investigation is complete. The CMA investigation centres on whether Takeaway.com might have re-entered the UK market, which it quit in 2016, if its takeover of Just Eat had not succeeded. Takeaway.com said that is not the case. Last month Takeaway.com claimed victory in its all-share offer for Just Eat, worth 916p per share – beating a rival 800p per share cash bid from technology investment giant Prosus. Takeaway.com said on Friday (31 January) 92.2% of Just Eat shareholders have now tendered shares to its offer. Takeaway.com said it intends to start a squeeze out process to acquire the rest.
 
Everards reveals hotel plan: Leicestershire-based Everards has revealed plans to build a hotel next to its new headquarters near Fosse Park. Managing director Stephen Gould said the company wanted to spend £3.5m on the 50 to 80-bedroom hotel on its new Everards Meadow site. He hopes a planning application can be submitted this year. Everards is halfway through building a brewery, 200-capacity beer hall, head office and shop on the 90-acre site. They will complete in the autumn and complement a cafe and cycling store that opened in the summer. The new brewery will have capacity to produce about 16,000 barrels of beer a year for Everards’ 173 pubs. Previous plans for a distillery next to the brewery have been dropped in favour of a “pilot brewery”, which would allow members of the public to brew small batches of beer. Gould told Leicestershire Live: “Everards will make an application for a small hotel on the meadows site, which will be an Everards application rather than on behalf of another hotelier. I would imagine it would probably be between 50 and 80 rooms and we would want to do something in keeping with the development at Everards Meadows. With the connections the site provides to the city centre and beyond, we think the hotel would be more of a family oriented hotel rather than strictly business.” Last week Everards reported revenue from its 173-pub estate increased 3.5% year-on-year. Group Ebitda was £5.9m for the year ending 30 September 2019, a 1% increase from the prior year reflecting “good trading performance and a reduction in overheads”. Profit before tax and non-recurring items of £2.1m decreased year-on-year, primarily because of an increase in interest charges associated with the group’s refinancing.
 
Shaftesbury – F&B businesses have ‘generally’ seen turnover growth during Christmas period: Shaftesbury, which is landlord to 315 pubs, restaurants and cafes in the West End, has reported its food and beverage tenants appear to have “generally” seen turnover growth during the festive period. The company said it experienced “high footfall and good trading” during Christmas. It stated: “Traditionally, the period leading up to and throughout Christmas and New Year has always seen the highest footfall and busiest trading – this year has been no exception. Early data indicates our occupiers, particularly food and beverage businesses, have generally seen turnover growth over the period in contrast to reports of static or declining revenue and footfall nationally. There are early signs of increasing activity in institutional property investment markets, although in our locations private owners remain reluctant to sell assets which, in common with our portfolio, offer security and potential for income and value growth.” The company also reported “stable occupier demand” during the three months to the end of December. A total of £8m of leasing transactions completed during the period, achieving rents at or above September’s estimated rental value. Half the commercial space is pre-let at its new 72 Broadwick Street development and Shaftesbury reported “encouraging interest” in the remaining space. The development will provide retail, restaurant, leisure and office space.
 
Edinburgh restaurant formerly run by Galvin brothers closes after 95 years: Edinburgh’s famous Pompadour restaurant in the Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh has closed after 95 years. Between 2012 and 2019 the restaurant traded as Pompadour by Galvin under the group headed by brothers Chris and Jeff Galvin. The group cut ties with the restaurant last year and since then it has been run by chef Dan Ashmore. A statement posted on the restaurant’s website stated: “Following careful consideration, we confirm we have closed. We are proud of the achievements and memories over 95 years.”
 
Arro Coffee and Yeda secure Seven Dials sites: Italian-inspired Arro Coffee has secured its fourth site in London, in Seven Dials. The concept will open a site in Monmouth Street in early February, adding to its outlets in Bayswater, Fulham and Marylebone. The new 647 square foot site will offer its signature Italian-inspired coffee alongside a brunch menu and traditional panettone breads and Spanish Modica chocolate. Meanwhile, vegan takeaway vendor Yeda has launched its first permanent site, in Neal Street in the former Nordic Bakery premises. Yeda is the brainchild of young entrepreneur Elena Luzhkova and is now serving its plant-based menu from the 930 square foot site. Spread across two floors, it offers a grab-and-go service on the ground floor, and a lounge downstairs. Julia Wilkinson, group restaurant strategy executive at Shaftesbury, which owns both sites, said: “Seven Dials is becoming increasingly synonymous with one-of-a-kind experiences, which both Yeda and Arro Coffee enhance from a dining perspective. As pioneering brands, both reflect our curated and considered leasing approach across Seven Dials, and sit firmly among the high calibre of operators that we maintain throughout our community.” Nash Bond and Cushman & Wakefield represented Shaftesbury. Yeda dealt directly, while TK Retail acted for Arro Coffee.
 
High Spirits Leisure Group reopens Coniston pub for fourth site: Cumbria-based High Spirits Leisure Group has reopened a Coniston pub for its fourth site. The company has relaunched the Yewdale Inn in Yewdale Road. The group has completed an extensive refurbishment of the restaurant and bar including the introduction of Enzo’s Caffe & Pizzeria featuring a traditional wood-fired oven. It offers authentic Italian cuisine including Neapolitan pizza, pasta and salad. Alex Mauro, managing director of High Spirits Leisure Group, told the Cumbria Crack: “We have ambition to be the best in the business, offering quality food and drinks alongside exceptional customer service.” High Spirits Leisure Group also operates the Lakeview Garden Bar and The Howbeck in Bowness-on-Windermere as well as The Nook & Cranny in Bolton.
 
Drinks delivery platform backed by BrewDog founder hits £250,000 crowdfunding campaign for UK expansion: Drinks delivery platform Drinkly, which is backed by BrewDog co-founder James Watt, has hit its £250,000 target on crowdfunding campaign Seedrs as it looks to expand into 150 UK locations within the next 12 months. Drinkly, which aims to deliver chilled beer, wine and spirits to customers in Glasgow, Edinburgh and London within an hour, is offering 7.22% equity in return for the investment, giving the company a pre-money valuation of more than £3.2m. So far, 314 investors have pledged £250,205 and the campaign is overfunding with eight days remaining. The company plans to use the funds to recruit sales staff, invest in marketing, and update its technology to optimise revenue streams. The pitch states: “Drinkly was born out of frustration – how was it we could order a takeaway pizza, a taxi or a restaurant-quality meal but couldn’t get our favourite bottle of sauvignon blanc delivered chilled? The UK drinks market is huge – it’s forecast to be worth £55.5bn by 2022 with the e-commerce portion growing 16% year-on-year. There’s no denying the food delivery market is thriving but we haven’t seen similar growth in the drinks delivery sector. We derive revenue from two sources – we earn between 10% and 25% of each sale plus we earn revenue from drinks brands by providing marketing, data and product testing. Since we started we’ve more than tripled our revenue. We’re on the cusp of an ambitious expansion that will help us achieve our mission of becoming the market leader in drinks-on-demand delivery in the UK.”

Former Scottish & Newcastle boss to open Edinburgh Beer Factory’s first retail site via new partnership: Edinburgh Beer Factory, the craft brewery owned by John Dunsmore, former chief executive of Scottish & Newcastle and C&C Group, is to open its first retail site. Edinburgh Beer Factory has partnered with Nonna’s Kitchen owner Gino Stornaiuolo for the project. Paolozzi Restaurant & Bar will launch in a former Royal Bank of Scotland branch in Forrest Road in March. The venture will combine beer, food and art to “celebrate the Scot and wider Italian Scottish culture”. The menu, developed by Stornaiuolo, will feature antipasti, salads and cheese plates. There will also be Neapolitan-style wood-fired pizza and classic larger plates. Dunsmore launched Edinburgh Beer Factory in his home city with wife Lynne and daughter Kirsty in 2015. The micro-brewery is housed in a converted industrial unit in west Edinburgh and produces craft lager Paolozzi, which is named after an Edinburgh artist. Stornaiuolo told the Edinburgh Evening News: “This partnership evolved from two family businesses with shared values of independence, accessible quality and a love of Edinburgh’s international culture and creativity. We hope to enrich the city’s thriving independent food and drink scene while promoting one of its great unsung heroes.”
 
Ainscough’s to exit Alderley Edge pub: North west-based operator Ainscough’s is set to exit its pub in Alderley Edge. The company is coming to the end of its lease at The Wizard Inn, which it has run for about 20 years. The pub, which is owned by the National Trust, will close on Sunday, 9 February. Martin Ainscough, managing director at Ainscough’s, told Alderlyedge.com: “Our lease from the National Trust runs out in a few months so, as it wants the pub back for other purposes and aren’t going to renew our lease, we are negotiating to leave early.” A National Trust spokesman said: “The building’s future use hasn’t been determined and we will work out exactly what’s next. However, the intention is the building will be accessible to visitors.” Ainscough’s owns three other pubs and three hotels in the region.
 
Leith’s trials nose-to-tail menus at Edinburgh International Conference Centre: Catering company Leith’s, part of Levy UK, is trialling nose-to-tail menus at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC) in a bid to cut food waste. The move comes after Leith’s extended its contract with EICC, which sees it continue to be its official food and hospitality partner until 2025. As part of an ongoing project, the culinary team is trialling the concept of whole carcasses to cut food waste, where they are developing nose-to-tail menus for beef, lamb, mutton and pork. Levy UK managing director Jon Davies said: “Our vision is to continue developing exceptional culinary offerings by creating a greater proportion of healthier choices on menus as well as integrating technology to further enhance the guest experience.” EICC chief executive Marshall Dallas added: “The extension of our partnership reinforces our long-term commitment to providing sustainable, responsible and healthier choices to guests at the EICC, while giving back to our community.”
 
Independent Indian craft brewer launches in UK: Indian independent craft brewer Bira 91, manufactured by B9 Beverages, has launched in the UK. The beers – made using Belgian recipes and brewed in India, are Blonde Lager, White Ale and Indian Pale Ale. All three are available UK-wide in 330ml bottles, with cans in development and Blonde Lager available on draught, to order in a 30-litre keg. Bira 91 founder Ankur Jain said: “We are delighted to welcome Bira 91 to the UK market. Globally, Bira 91 has had a disruptive presence in the craft beer market and we look forward to exploring some invigorating and refreshing partnerships with on-trade partners across towns and cities that fit with the brand.”

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