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Morning Briefing Strap Line
Thu 12th Apr 2012 - Fuller’s, City Pub Company and SSP

Story of the day:

New Fuller’s flagship pub sets company record: The Parcel Yard, the largest train station pub in the country opened by Fuller’s in the middle of last month, has set a company record on cask ale sales. The venue, which occupies 10,000 square feet and overlooks the platform in a Grade 1 listed area of the original station building, is selling more than 70 firkins of cask ale a week. Fuller’s group managing director Simon Emeny told Morning Briefing: “It is doing really well, busy seven days a week and at every session. It’s selling over 70 Firkins of cask ale a week, which is a Fuller’s record, (and) customers love the design. “We expect things to keep growing as the new station layout becomes more familiar and as the Olympics approaches.” The Parcel Yard is the only Fuller’s pub in London to stock the full range of Fuller’s ales, including all available Vintage Ales – bottle-conditioned beers brewed annually from the best of that year’s malt and hops – as well as hand-picked guest ales from British brewers. Head chef is Ray Corrie, formerly executive head chef of Bumpkin, serving a modern British menu of classic dishes. The venue has a double-height atrium giving an airy feel to what was once storage for mail freight arriving through King’s Cross. Fuller’s worked closely with Network Rail to use as many reclaimed materials in the building as possible such as doors and panelling, as well as exploring each companies’ archives for artefacts to showcase both the building’s interesting past, and Fuller’s heritage as a renowned London brewer.

Industry news:

5,000 pubs now have food accounting for 50 per cent of turnover: Food service market insights firm Horizons estimates that there are now 5,000 pubs in the UK where food accounts for 50 per cent of turnover. Horizons classifies pubs that reach the 50 per cent of turnover mark as “restaurants”. Founder Peter Backman said the number of pubs reaching the 50 per cent mark has “speeded up” because of the growth in food and also because of the relative shrinkage of wet sales. Last week, Morning Briefing reported that Spirit has two brands, Chef & Brewer and Fayre & Square, where food sales are 61 per cent of turnover and a third, Flaming Grill, where food is 50 per cent of turnover – 350 sites out of its total of 800 managed pubs. On-trade market information specialist CGA has reported that the number of pubs that are food-led – where food drives the majority of sales – now stands at 11,597, up 0.7 per cent in 2011. 

US study finds most effective restaurant adverts: Television adverts by casual dining restaurant chains dominated a study of the first quarter’s most effective TV commercials, as measured by Ace Metrix. The research firm ranked all restaurant industry commercials based on its proprietary Ace Score, which measures how persuasive and watchable advertisements are based on ratings from surveyed viewers. Casual-dining chains accounted for seven of the 10 top-scoring commercials that were shown from January to March. Most of the spots broadened their appeal to several demographic groups, especially women, by incorporating food photography and other cues for food quality, as well as low price points conveying a value message, according to Jonathan Symonds, executive vice president of marketing of Ace Metrix. “Advertisers have found a solid framework that’s working well: strong creative built around food shots, coupled with a strong value message,” Symonds said.

Burger King to reinforce new menu message in US with fleet of trucks: Burger King is to deploy a fleet of food trucks later this month that will serve up free samples of new menu items. The sampling trucks will hit the streets in a number of yet-to-be-identified cities. The Burger King vehicles will dish out crispy chicken strips, smoothies and frappes, part of the most radical changes to its menu in its 58-year history as an attempt to compete with McDonald’s and Starbucks.

Older types of fruit more healthy: Older varieties of fruit and veg may be a lot healthier than their modern equivalents, researchers have reported. A study discovered than an unfashionable dessert apple dating back to Victorian times has ten times more phloridzin, a disease-preventing chemical, than it newer, shiny-skinned equivalent.

CPL Training reports record market share: CPL Training, the leading hospitality sector training company, has reported a surge in its market share for training people in the national qualification that allows a personal licence to be obtained. The company posted a 33 per cent increase in market share in the last two quarters of 2011 compared to the year before. The company trained one in four of all people seeking the Level 2 Award for Personal Licence Holders (APLH) in the third and fourth quarter of 2011, the most recent quarters for which figures are available. The 24.4 per cent market share of all individuals who obtained the APLH qualification compares with an 18.4 per cent market share in the same two quarters of 2010. Daniel Davies, chief executive of CPL Training, said: “In the second half of 2011 we achieved our highest ever market share for the APLH qualification, achieving a 33 per cent rise on the same two quarters of 2010.

McDonald’s to franchise in Russia for the first time: McDonald’s has chosen Rosinter to franchise its sites in Russia. Rosinter, which is the country’s largest restaurant holding company, will open sites in non-traditional locations such as airports and train stations. There are 300 McDonald’s restaurants in Russia with plans to open 40 to 45 sites a year. Rosinter operates TGI Friday’s franchises and is a joint-venture partner in Russia with Whitbread to develop the Costa Coffee brand.

Company news:

Punch Taverns to step up investment: Punch is to increase investments in its 3,000-strong core estate to around 400 pubs per annum with the aim of increasing food sales in the core estate from 20 per cent to 35 per cent of turnover over time. During its first half year period the company invested in 130 core pubs, spending £12 million with a focus on improving the food offer and enhancing the customer environment. Average new income per pub rose 0.8 per cent in the 28 weeks to 3 March with pubs on substantive agreements in profit growth. Profit before tax was £33m. Roger Whiteside, chief executive, said: “Despite weaker consumer market conditions in recent months our teams have worked hard to contain costs and deliver profits in line with our expectations for the first half and we remain on track to meet our full year profit expectations.”

Restaurant Group suffers major fire at Tally Ho: The Restaurant Group has suffered a major fire at its Tally Ho pub at Fleet Hill in Eversley near Finchampstead. The pub trades as part of the Home Counties clutch of pubs, a sister operation to Brunning & Price. A statement on the pub website said: “We experienced a serious fire which has destroyed most of the roof and the upper floor, so will be closed for a month or two while we rebuild the pub.”

Wetherspoon’s Martin renews VAT attack: JD Wetherspoon founder Tim Martin has renewed his attack on VAT rates in an interview in the Daily Mail. Martin said: “Gordon Brown had a very, very poor understanding of economics – particularly pub economics – and I’m not sure George Osborne understands it that well either. He can increase the amount of tax he levies by encouraging people to use pubs. He gets £1.20 a pint in tax for every pint consumed in a pub. He doesn’t get anything like that – much less than half – from supermarkets. Pubs also generate three jobs per pint compared to a supermarket.”

Whitbread to launch Costa in supermarkets: Marketing magazine has reported that Costa Coffee will begin selling its coffee and other products in supermarkets in a move to compete with Starbucks. The range, to be called At Home, has been trademarked by Costa Coffee. The At Home range will launch under Costa's Enterprise unit, its innovation division, which is headed by former marketing director Jim Slater.

New micro-brewery set for Ipswich’s Isaacs on the Quay: A new micro-brewery looks set to be built next to Ipswich’s Isaac Lord venue on the Quay after planners recommended the scheme be given the green light. The proposals are for a new microbrewery and tasting area at 70 Fore Street, a former bank built in the 1950s, next to Isaac’s on the Quay. In a statement, agents Nicholas Jacob, for applicant and Isaac’s owner Aidan Coughlan, said: “With its open-plan design, this building is the most suitable structure to house the micro brewery which will further enhance the Isaac Lord complex and hopefully bring a disused building back into current use.” Isaac’s Quay offers four bars on Ipswich’s Wherry Quay, an area previously used as maltings.

Spirit opens Flaming Grill site on its doorstep: Managed pub company Spirit has invested £250,000 in opening a Flaming Grill venue on its doorstep in Burton. The re-opening of the Corner House on Second Avenue, Centrum One Hundred, was attended by Burton and Uttoxeter MP Andrew Griffiths. The pub is located opposite Spirit’s support centre. Chief executive Mike Tye added: “Flaming Grill is a fast growing brand for us, with over 80 now open across the country. We’re well on our way to creating a national brand. Flaming Grill is our third investment in Burton, after the two recent award winning Fayre & Square transformations. We see the potential in the town.”

Douglas Jack – Buy Spirit shares: Numis Securities analyst Douglas Jack has issued a buy recommendation on Spirit shares with a target price of 80p a share. He said: “(Next) Wednesday’s first half results should indicate strong underlying trends for the managed pub estate. Despite this, 2012 earnings profit-before-tax should be heavily (two-thirds) weighted to the second half, hence we are forecasting a maiden interim profit-before-tax of £17.5m. We expect to hold our forecasts, which assume 30 per cent earnings growth over the next two years, which is not fully reflected in the valuation, in our view.”

Restaurant to open selling only champagne and hot dogs: A UK chef with experience working at the world’s top restaurant is opening a venue selling just champagne and hotdogs. James Knappett will serve ten dishes at Bubbledogs, including a BLT dog wrapped in bacon and served up with truffle mayonnaise. He will also have a Jose dog with guacamole, sour cream, salsa and jalapenos, and a regularly changing chef’s special from just £6. In the same building his Kitchen Table restaurant will showcase some contemporary European cooking. Dishes will include chicken skin, grilled onion and burrata milk; beef, nettle and carrot; and hay, strawberry, malt and sweet cicely. Knappett plans to open Bubbledogs in London’s Fitzrovia area in central London this summer. He has worked under Gordon Ramsay and at Noma in Copenhagen – which came top in the list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants.

City Pub Company plans Cambridge re-opening: City Pub Company, the new EIS company led by Clive Watson and David Bruce, will undertake a substantial refurbishment of the Mill in Cambridge’s Mill Lane with a new-look to be unveiled ahead of the summer. City beat 50 individual parties to tenant the pub, which is owned by The University of Cambridge. A spokesman for letting agent Everard Cole said: “We generated a huge amount of interest and undertook six block viewing days to allow 50 individual parties to inspect. Due to the high level of interest we had to reduce this to a short list where detailed business plans, references and projected P&Ls were requested.”

Norwich pub diversifies into B&B to survive: A Norwich licensee has had to diversify to stay in business - a £350,000 makeover at his pub is nearing completion with the upstairs now converted into bed and breakfast accommodation offering six stylish bedrooms. Brothers Ilir, Ben and Paolo Duraj first took on The Trowel & Hammer in St Stephen’s Road in 2005. The downstairs has remained a pub, but Paolo Duraj said it would become more food-orientated in the future. Paolo also runs Paolo’s Italian in Norwich’s St Giles Street.

Marston’s changes mind on Dormouse name change: Wolverhampton-based Marston’s has changed its mind over plans to rename a pub near Wrexham. Marston’s wanted to change the name of The Crown Inn, Llay, near Wrexham to The Dormouse. But Llay Local History Society claimed the pub and its name were “rooted in the past and the history of the area”. A diplomatic Marston’s spokesman said: “We have listened to the people of Llay and have agreed that it would be wonderful if we could not only preserve and improve on this historic pub for the community, but that we could also keep its historic name.”

Enterprise sold three more free-of-tie freeholds: A Morning Briefing examination of recent commercial auctions has found three more freeholds let on free-of-tie leases sold by Enterprise Inns. The company sold a freehold let to Café Rouge in Tenterden, Kent on a rent of £67,500 per annum for £910,000, a yield for the buyer of seven per cent. A former pub in the Market Place, Stokesley, North Yorkshire, let to Costa Coffee on a rent of £30,000 per annum, was sold for £505,000, a yield for the buyer of 5.6 per cent. A third site, in Lordswood Road, Southampton, let to Tesco on a rent of £55,000 per annum was sold for £877,000, a yield of 5.9 per cent. All three sites were sold at a CBRE auction.

Licenses twins double up with second pub: Twins have acquired two village pubs with twin names. Adam and Darren Miles have owned The Golden Fleece pub in South Croxton for over three years and have now taken ownership of The Golden Fleece pub in Upper Broughton as well. The pub and restaurant, formerly owned by Diane Logan of Belvoir Brewery, is undergoing a refurbishment. Adam said: “It’s about striking the balance between keeping the drinkers in and creating an upmarket pub.”

Motley Fool investment website picks out Greene King as best large performer: A stock-picker on the Motley Fool investment website has named Greene King as the best-performing stock during the recession among companies with a market capitalisation over one billion pounds. The column stated: “Greene King has proven itself to be a reliable investment over a period that can be measured in decades -- the company has increased its dividend to shareholders every year for more than thirty years. Despite the fact we are frequently being told trading conditions are proving fatal to community pubs, Greene King is demonstrating how some companies seem to be perennial winners. Its success looks to continue, as a trading statement issued in January reported a bumper Christmas with sales up 17 per cent, driven partly by a whopping 11 per cent rise in food sales and increased thirst for the company’s flagship ale, Old Speckled Hen.”

SSP introduces local concept at Leeds Bradford airport: Travel food concessionaire SSP is to introduce a new local concept to Leeds Bradford International Airport - a new bar called The Saltaire. The Saltaire bar is named after the nearby town of Saltaire - a world heritage site, famous for its architecture, food and award-winning beers. Designed to celebrate the best of the region, the bar will serve cask-conditioned ales from the Saltaire brewery and two North Yorkshire breweries, Theakston and Black Sheep. It will also offer an extensive wine list and a range of spirits.

St Austell licensee opens barber shop in the pub: Malcolm Putko, landlord of The Western Inn, St Austell, is to move a barber shop to his pub and re-name it Ronnie’s at The Western Inn. The pub-turned-barbershop, which will also offer shoe shines and wet shaves, will be the second of its kind in the country. Said Putko: “We are so confident this will work that we have been speaking to other pubs nationally about rolling out Ronnie’s to other areas on a franchise basis.” The brewery’s trade marketing manager Marc Bishop said: “The pub business has been hit hard in recent times, so we do encourage our tenants to think of different ways to attract custom and this is certainly different.” Ronnie’s at the Western Inn opens at 9am on 21 April.

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