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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Mon 14th May 2012 - Bill’s, Jarrow Brewery and Nando's

Story of the Day:

A good pub in the community is regarded as a status symbol: A third of people in Britain believe that it is important to have a pub close to their home as it demonstrates that they are part of a community, a new study by market research Mintel has revealed. Mintel found that even infrequent pub-goers agree that it is important to have a good pub near where they live. “It is almost as if a pub is a bit of a status symbol for a community, even if they don't use it much they want to know that they have the option to do so if they wish,” said Mintel in its report. Research by the company found that more than twice as many people find it more enjoyable drinking in a pub than drinking at home. This is because of the “atmosphere and theatre” of a pub environment, Mintel said. Despite their enjoyment of pubs, the research found that visits to pubs are falling. Mintel said that over six in ten adults over the age of 18 visit a pub regularly to drink. This is down from seven in ten people in 2007. The research company found that more people visit pubs to eat than to drink. Mintel said that falling pub visits “reflect the impact of the financial crisis, the subsequent recession and the austerity measures which followed the formation of the Coalition government”. The economic climate had damaged consumer confidence and reduced the amount of disposable income households had, Mintel added.
Free Report: Paul Charity has written a report on menu trends, the drivers of US dining occasions, the franchise business model and other key areas of the US foodservice market and their significance to the UK market. The report, based on a visit to the National Restaurant Association show in Chicago, is produced in conjunction with the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers and sponsored by CPL Training. It is free and is available by e-mailing Paul Charity on

Weekend catch-up:

Eggs for breakfast stave off hunger: RResearchers have found that eating eggs for breakfast can get rid of mid-morning hunger pangs. Those who eat two eggs for breakfast are less hungry – and eat less – than if they had eaten cereal, US scientists have reported. 

UK has one of the largest part-time workforces in Europe: More people in Britain are working part-time than almost any other country in Europe. The UK has 1.77m people who are classed as “underemployed” – want to work longer hours but can’t find the available jobs.

UK petrol prices fail to mirror European price falls: The AA has reported that petrol prices in the UK have fallen by barely half the rate seen in other European countries. Between 16 April and 7 May, petrol prices fell by an average of 6.1 per cent in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany Italy, Holland and Spain – they fell by just 3.16 per cent in Britain.

Marks & Spencer introduces no frills range: Marks & Spencer is hoping to attract thrifty shoppers with a new budget range of 500 items. The range will replace the existing “Wise Buys” offer and will be called “Simply M&S”. It’s seen as an attempt to compete directly with Tesco’s “Everyday Value” offer and Sainsbury’s “Basics”.

Simple obesity test is uncovered: Researchers have found a better way of measuring obesity than the traditional Body Mass Index (BMI). If your waist is less than half your height, you are a healthy weight. If it’s more than half your height, there is a progressive risk of illnesses traditionally linked with obesity. The weight-to-height ratio is nine per cent better than BMI in predicting the risk of cardiovascular disease in men, researchers claimed.

Company news:

Bill’s set to secure Horsham site: Bill’s Grocery and Produce Store is set to secure its eighth site – in Horsham, West Sussex. The concept is the preferred bidder for the town hall in the Market Square. Bill’s founder Bill Collison wanted to turn the town hall into his third site a number of years ago - but faced stiff opposition from local lobby groups who wanted the town hall to remain a community facility. Now the decision to let the town hall to Bill’s is set to be ratified at a council meeting tomorrow. Bill’s, which is now owned by Richard Caring, will invest £800,000 in the site with an opening planned for late summer. 

McDonald’s “unfathomable” success: A survey of food service franchised operators has shown how successful McDonald’s has been in the past seven years. A report in Franchise Times, which tracks franchise sales, stated: “McDonald’s has been unfathomably successful in recent years. In 2005, McDonald’s system-wide revenue was $52.95 billion. This year it was $77.38 billion – 46 per cent higher. In six years, McDonald’s added more revenue to its system than KFC makes in a year. Here’s what’s most amazing: almost all of that has been incremental store sales. The chain’s unit growth in six years was a modest 6.4 per cent. Yet it has leveraged its ubiquitous presence and unmatched marketing power to add a long line of new products, including snack wraps, higher-end coffee products and Angus Beef burgers. The result – McDonald’s has left competitors in the dust.”

Innventure’s Wellington venue receives rave review: The Wellington coaching inn in Welwyn operated by Innventure, the six-strong company operated by former Mitchells & Butlers executive Chris Gerard, has won a highly favourable review in the Daily Mail. The “An Inspector Calls” column stated: “A fire burned the Wellington to the ground three years ago. I don’t know what it was like then, but what’s here now is a triumph. There may be few other choices in Welwyn, but this is definitely top of the pops.”

Coca-Cola loses Malvern fight: Coca-Cola has lost a trademark battle to stop a small company producing Holywell Malvern Spring Water, which is sold in restaurants. Coca-Cola owns the Malvern trademark. It closed its Malvern Water site two years ago – but refused to sell the Malvern trade name.

Gordon Ramsay opens his Las Vegas restaurant: Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay has opened his Las Vegas steak restaurant, Gordon Ramsay Steak at Paris Las Vegas. It has a restaurant-wide Union Jack ceiling mural. Menu items that nod to his UK roots include: British Ale Onion Soup made with Boddinton’s Pub Ale, caramelised onion broth and Welsh rarebit; Smoked Beef Tartare accented with lemon zest, red onion, capers and Guinness-infused mustard seeds, served with Yukon Gold herb chips; and Colorado Lamb Chop complimented by flavors of Shepherd’s Pie, lamb meatballs, peas, carrots and potato puree.

Jarrow Brewery acquires fourth pub: Jarrow Brewery has bought its fourth pub – real ale and music venue The Magnesia Bank in Camden Street, North Shields. Launched in 2002, Jarrow Brewery already operates The Robin Hood in Primrose Hill, Jarrow, The Maltings Brewery Tap in Claypath Lane, South Shields, where its brewing operations are based, and The Isis, in Silksworth Row, Sunderland, the latter pub opening last October, after a £500,000 revamp. Meanwhile, Jarrow Brewery is also pressing ahead with its plans to convert the former St Andrew’s Church on Hebburn riverside into a brewery. A planning application to turn the Grade 11-listed Victorian building into a brewhouse was due to be submitted to South Tyneside Council this week.

Enterprise Inns offers ten pubs on free-of-tie leases: Enterprise Inns is offering ten “hand-picked, prime” pubs to let on free-of-tie leases to licensees. The ten pubs are: The Pink and Lily, Parslows Hillock, The Highland Laddie, Guisborough, The Red Lion, Wheelton, The Saracens Head, Hogsthorpe, The Admiral Nelson, Braunston, The Dun Cow, Stratford-upon-Avon, The Talbot, Hartlebury, The Live and Let Live, Worcester, The Bedford Arms, Lindslade and The Bell Inn, Stow-in-the-Wold. 

Elysium Group plans sixth site: Elysium Group, which operates six bars and restaurants in Colchester, has submitted plans to open a 74-bedroom boutique hotel and restaurant overlooking the River Colne, Colchester. Founder Ash Afzalnia said the hotel, designed for land between The River Lodge pub and Trotters bar at Middleborough, would benefit the Colchester economy. Elysium Group owns The Dirty Penguin, Qube, Bar 19 and Circle bars, and has recently opened Mimosa restaurant on Severalls Business Park.

Former Ivy chef Mark Hix to open Tramshed in Shoreditch: Mark Hix, formerly of The Ivy, is to open his Tramshed restaurant later this month only serving chicken and steak. It will serve whole chickens for two or three people to share and “Mighty Marbled” beef in multiples of 200g. “A table of six could have a whole chicken and a kilo of steak to share at under £10 a head,” said Hix. There will also be a takeaway menu.

Black Dog Ballroom opens new Manchester site; unveils Black Dog Bowl plan: The Black Dog Ballroom bar group has opened its second nightspot in Manchester and has unveiled plans for a tenpin bowling alley in the city. The three-storey Black Dog Ballroom, a New York-style pool hall, diner and cocktail lounge on New Wakefield Street, was launched after a £900,000 refurbishment of the building. Black Dog's next venture is The Black Dog Bowl, a tenpin bowling venue on Whitworth Street which was previously home to the Cocotoo restaurant and is due to reopen in the autumn. Black Dog opened its first Ballroom in Manchester's Northern Quarter in 2009. Director Ross Mackenzie said he believes having activities such as bowling and pool in his bars are an attraction because visitors like to do more than just drink. He added that he is aiming to roll out the brand beyond the north west. “I hope to go national eventually,” he said. “In five years' time, I would like to have 12 or 15 operating sites, or be looking for a profitable exit.” The Black Dog Bowl is inspired by similar venues in London and New York and Mackenzie is currently working to find sites which can host pool and bowling, with Leeds, Liverpool, Chester, Sheffield and Huddersfield high on his hit list. The group is backed by business angel and founder David Atherton.

Yorkshire restaurant owners launch Mud Crab brand: Neil Lawrence and Ged Lynch, who operate the six-strong Felicini restaurant brand, have launched a new brand, Mud Crab bar, on Sheffield’s Ecclesall Road. Mud Crab sells burgers and an eclectic mix of New York and Australian food. “If ever I go anywhere I eat a burger and I’m perpetually disappointed,” said Lawrence, who says he has never had one to equal the one he ate at Ed Debevic’s in Chicago 30 years ago. “It’s the hardest dish to get right, that’s why many people have never been served a great hamburger.” He added: “Mud Crab is born out of our love of fresh, simple, innovative global cuisine, Australian café culture and New York’s gutsy, no nonsense dining.”

Nando’s offers “ultimate experience” in Harlow: Nando’s is to re-open its newly refurbished premises in the Water Gardens, Harlow this week. The expanded eatery, which opens on Wednesday, now boasts South African-inspired decor and an additional 60 seats. Regional manager Ben Hibbard said the revamp was needed to meet the demand from customers, which often resulted in queues lining the walkway outside the restaurant. “We are very excited to be re-opening the restaurant for the Harlow community,” he added. “The refurb will allow customers to enjoy the ultimate Nando’s experience.”

Smoothie maker Innocent posts £10m loss: Innocent, which is part-owned by Coca-Cola, has posted a £10m loss on turnover up 25 per cent to £162.7m. The company put the losses down to investment in European subsidiaries and the launch costs of its fruit juice range. 

Mark Sands to open authentic US eatery Lowcountry in Fulham: Restaurateur Mark Sands is to open an “authentic” US bar/restaurant in Fulham this week. He will open Lowcountry at the site of a former pub at the junction with New King's Road this Thursday (17 May). It will feature cooking from the American south, such as cracked crabs, shrimp and grits, seafood gumbo, slow-cooked beef brisket and cheese and meats smoked in the back garden. Sands said: “I'm fed up of eating the same old junk which isn't really a true reflection of the States, the deep-fried, huge portions of frozen food which just isn't good enough. I want to bring real American food to Fulham and I think people will love it.” The site, which has a good-sized garden, will have a open plan kitchen with surrounding bar so people can get up close to the chefs, while a large tank will be on display housing live fish for cooking. But Sands is keen to emphasise the venue is not a restaurant but a bar and 'eating house', where people can come to drink, snack and watch sport on request in the adjacent bar.

Hook Norton to rebrand and launch new beers: Oxfordshire brewer and retailer Hook Norton is to adopt a new slogan: “Handcrafted beers from the Cotswold hills since 1849.” Its flagship Hooky Bitter will drop the bitter in its name and reduce in strength to 3.5 per cent abv.

Whitbread in London expansion: Whitbread will open 20 stand-alone Premier Inn sites in London this year. A new 83-bedroom Premier Inn, costing £12m, is due to open just off Leicester Square today. The company has also secured a site just off Trafalger Square in the past fortnight. Whitbread wants to double its London bedroom count from the current 7,200 to 14,000 by 2016.

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