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Mon 18th Jun 2012 - Wadworth, Sugar Hut and The Restaurant Group

Story of the day:

Host of industry figures recognised in Queen’s Birthday Honours: A host of sector figures have been honoured in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list. Whitbread Hotels and Restaurants managing director Patrick Demsey was awarded an OBE. Restaurant group Peyton & Byrne’s founder Oliver Peyton was awarded an OBE for services to the hospitality industry. Tim and Kim Kemp, co-founders of Firmdale Hotels, have both been given a MBE for services to the hotel industry. Kellie Rixon, brand development director for De Vere Group and head of the De Vere academy, has been awarded a MBE. Peter Salussolia, the founder of the Foundation Group and Glendola Leisure, has been awarded an OBE for services to hospitality. Nick Bish, chief executive of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR), said: “This is undoubtedly for the success over many years of Glendola Leisure but is also for his selfless chairmanship of the ALMR, for five years in the 1990s – the Association’s formative years. He is determined that our industry should be recognised for the good things it does and indeed be given the chance to succeed. It was this quiet, polite but utterly single-minded approach that characterised his leadership of the ALMR as we were finding our feet.” Bish added: “Peter was then and is now at the heart of the movement of pub entrepreneurs that think further than their own balance sheet. It is brilliant that this recognition comes to the sector and with his typical modesty Peter will want to share the glory with the other outstanding business leaders we have.” Salussolia’s Glendola Leisure operates the Waxy O’Connor brand and Rainforest Café off Piccadilly Circus, as well as a number of unbranded pubs. His other business, Carlton Hotel Collection, operates ten hotels, located across Europe. 

Industry news:

Pretzel shops join pasty tax row: Pretzel shop owners have warned that they will be hit by the plan to add VAT to hot food. Auntie Anne’s Pretzels managing director Robert Burton said: “Those at the front of the queue could probably have a fresh pretzel straight from the oven for £3 but those a few places down the line will have to pay £3.60 as they have to get theirs from a warming draw.” Burton has written to the Treasury to say the system is unworkable. The Treasury has reported that it is still considering industry arguments and that a final ruling is imminent.

Olive oil good for the heart: Researchers have reported that just two tablespoons of olive oil a day almost halves the risk of a heart attack. The conclusions are based on a study of the diets of nearly 41,000 adults. Data showed that heart attack victims were among the lowest consumers of olive oil. Those who consumed 29 grams or more a day – just over two tablespoons – were 44 per cent less likely to die from cardiac problems.

Chefs attend Love British Food reception at Buckingham Palace: High profile industry chefs, including Jamie Oliver, Georgio Locatelli, Rick Stein and Brain Whiting, who runs Whiting & Hammond, have attended a reception at Buckingham Palace in honour of Love British Food, the campaign to celebrate British ingredients. Whiting told Morning Briefing: “At Whiting & Hammond we feel strongly about buying British food. Schools across the UK were asked to come up with a menu for the Queen – winners were invite to come down to London to cook for the Queen. I had the honour of meeting the Queen – I told her I met her mother 26 years ago when she attended the re-opening of The Savoy Hotel where I was working as a chef.”

Government outlines Low Pay Commission remit: The government has written to the Low Pay Commission to outline the remit for its 2013 Report, asking it to focus on youth employment and review the regulations around both low-paid salaried workers and the provision of accommodation by employers. Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) strategic affairs director Kate Nicholls said: “The ALMR lobbied strongly to secure a freeze in the National Minimum Wage rate for under-21s and will be similarly vocal this year in campaigning to prevent potentially harmful rises in the minimum wage and secure an increase in the Accommodation Offset which is so valuable to both operators and staff. The industry has a strong record of job creation, particularly for young people, with one in six of all new jobs for under-24s being created in the hospitality industry.”

Horizons lists top five growth areas of the market in 2011: Food sector insight and consultancy firm Horizons has listed the top five growth areas of the market in 2011. They were: 1: Pub restaurants (where food accounts for 50 per cent or more of sales); Managed branded pubs; 3: Hotels with 200 or more rooms; 4: Mexican restaurants; 5: Holiday camps. For more information contact Peter Backman on

Four in ten eating breakfast on the run: A survey has found that four in ten of us are eating breakfast on the way to work or at our desks. Those who buy breakfast after leaving home spend an average of £3.09 a day.

Bangor imposes a curfew of under-16s: Children are to be banned from the centre of Bangor between 9pm and 6am to tackle anti-social behaviour. The curfew is to be introduced despite violent crime falling by a quarter in the city. Inspector Simon Bassford defended the move, a joint initiative between police and the local authority: “Many people are working very hard to improve and regenerate the city centre as well as just wanting to enjoy their daily lives without being harassed and I have no doubt dispersal order areas will assist in that endeavour.”

Company news:

Wadworth reports 2011 saw “an improvement in all departments”: Devizes-based brewer and retailer Wadworth has reported a better year for the company in the year to 30 September 2011. Turnover rose from £52.090m to £55,027m and profit from on-going operations after interest rose eight per cent to £4,492,000. Key factors were described as a seven per cent rise in its own beer sales, a reduction in headcount in the second half and better recruitment of “good new licensees for our houses”. The company reported that volumes in its 202 tenanted pubs, where it invested £1.8m in 19 schemes, are still in decline. It sold eight tenanted pubs and moved five managed pubs to tenancy. Chairman Charles Bartholomew said: “That decline is now lessening with good licenses showing the way and some really excellent new ones who have immediately turned around the trade in their pubs.” The company’s 42 managed pubs grew sales by two per cent with food sales up ten per cent and accommodation up 20 per cent. Bartholomew added: “Our focus for 2012 has to be real growth in both tenanted and managed which are the largest profit providers.” Pre-tax profit was £3.590m compared to £3.677m the year before.

Propel Opinion: Wadworth has managed to reverse a five-year trend of profit decline from on-going operations. Back in 2007, the company was achieving a £9.3m profit from ongoing operations on turnover of five million pounds less than last year. Its profit before tax in 2007 was £7.3m – slightly more than twice last year’s level.

Sarumdale blames collapse on two million pound swap: Sarumdale, the West Sussex multiple pub owner headed by Rodney Hall and Mike Lloyd, have blamed an expensive and “compulsory” interest rate swap for their business being forced into administration last week, ITN has reported. The two directors report the company was forced by Barclays to take a ten-year swap alongside a business loan in 2006. The swap, an “explicit condition” of taking out their loan, was meant to insure against rising interest rates – but became very expensive when interest rates plunged. They calculate the swaps have cost them more than two million pounds, including extra interest payments and fees. A Barclays spokesperson told ITN: “We are sorry to hear that Sarumdale Limited is dissatisfied with the products they purchased from Barclays. Sarumdale entered into these products six years ago and first raised a formal complaint to us last week.” The Financial Services Authority is considering whether to launch a full investigation into swaps and will make that decision by the end of the month.

Freehold of the Sugar Hut goes to auction: The freehold of the Sugar Hut nightclub in Brentwood, Essex, which features heavily in The Only Way is Essex, is to be sold at an Allsops auction on 11 July. Sugar Hut is paying a rent of £71,797 per annum and has a 21 lease starting in 2004 that is subject to RPI rent increases. The guide price is £1.25m to £1.35m and the vendor is thought to be Enterprise Inns. The company is also thought to be selling the freehold of Tantric Blue nightclub in Colnbrook, Berkshire. A rent of £70,000 per annum is being paid on the property and it has a guide price of £975,000 to £1m. 

Restaurant Group lines up two openings for Coast to Coast: Restaurant Group will open new Coast to Coast sites in Liverpool and Newcastle after its first site in Brighton Marina, opened last November, was successfully launched with takings in the region of £50,000-per-week. The site in Liverpool will occupy 5,000 square foot of space in the £160m Central Village development. 

New Brighton nightclub will feature bearded ladies and contortionists: The team behind London venues The Bathhouse and The Baby Bathouse, Tava O’Halloran and Daniel Wright, are planning to open a new nightclub in Brighton called FunFair in Kings Road on 30 June. FunFair wants to recreate the atmosphere of Victorian carnivals and is looking for bearded ladies, belly dancers and contortionists. Other positions vacant include a magician’s assistant – costume essential – a harlequin maitre d’, and a strong man for work behind the bar. A spokesman for the chain said: “Influenced by the move to Brighton, FunFair seeks to recreate the spectacular opulence and vintage mystique of the Brighton Pier and rambling fun fairs of old.”

Rex Restaurants sets Brasserie Zedel opening date: Rex Restaurants, which runs The Delauney and The Wolseley, will open its much anticipated Brasserie Zedel, off Piccadilly Circus, a week today, Monday 25 June. The new venue is described as a “large bustling Parisian brasserie transported to the heart of London”. It will offer “remarkably low prices” and feature Art Deco interiors and host a “Bar Americain”, a live music venue, and “The Crazy Coqs”, a live music and cabaret venue. The venue, due to open in the summer, occupies the site of the former Atlantic Bar & Grill.

Marston’s buys an acre of land in Wakefield for pub scheme: Midlands-based Marston’s has bought an acre of land at developer CTP's £100m Wakefield Waterfront scheme. Marston’s has purchased land known as The Island adjacent to the River Calder to the south of Wakefield City Centre where it will develop a 6,250 square foot pub and restaurant due for completion in December this year. Meanwhile, the company is re-opening the former Coopers Arms in Pevensey, an historic village with a population of 3,152 five miles north-east of Eastbourne in East Sussex as a Milestone Carvery today – the pub also has a new name, The Holy Blue, a type of indigenous butterfly.

Carlsberg axes production of Ansells Mild: Carlsberg has ended production of the cask version of Ansells Mild although it is still being produced in small quantities for keg sales for the social club trade. Ansells Mild, first produced 131 years ago, was brewed under contract by Marston’s.

Mystery Dining Company expands: The Bath-based Mystery Dining Company, founded in 2003, has reported a 25 per cent increase in business in the past year. The company, which has moved to larger premises, provides customer intelligence for Carluccio’s, Hotel du Vin, Prezzo, Wagamama and Travelodge. In the past year, The Mystery Dining Company has added names such as Young’s, La Tasca, Malmaison and Le Pain Quotidien to its client list.

Rocky Raj acquires site: Rocky Raj has bought The King Edward VII, a traditional pub in the heart of Stratford, East London, from the New English Pub Company off an asking price of £250,000. Stewart Harkness, of agent Christie + Co’s Enfield office, said: “King Eddies is widely acclaimed to be the best pub in Stratford, on which the new owners should be able to build thanks to its prominent location close to Westfield Shopping Centre and the Olympic Park.”

Inventive Leisure virtual freehold in York goes to auction: A site in York part let to Revolution Vodka Bar operator Inventive Leisure is to be sold at an Allsops auction on 11 July with a guide price of £2.1m to £2.2m. The site in St Martin’s Courtyard is paying a rent of £190,000 per annum. It’s a virtual freehold paying a peppercorn rent for 185 years.

Couple turn around failing pub with focus on cask ale and fresh food: A couple have turned around the fortunes of a failing pub by focusing on cask ale and fresh food. Chris McClung and his wife Christine opened The Black Bull, in Ainsworth, Bury, a year ago – and are now turning over £10,000-a-week. Chris said: “We don't cater towards teenagers, we don't have kids’ meals, football, karaoke or live acts. People want to come to the pub to enjoy a drink or a meal and feel at home, and this strategy has worked. We wanted to create an atmosphere where we knew who our customers were so they would feel comfortable returning.”

Wagamama set for largest site: Wagamama will open its largest UK site in Leamington Spa this coming Saturday (23 June) – it will have 153 covers. It will also be the first site outside of London to offer a full sushi menu. The Leamington Spa site will also be the first to include a new bar offer which will have Wagamana cocktails designed to complement the food offer. 

Jamie Oliver – restaurants can be a driver in returning confidence: Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has argued that restaurants can provide a boost in difficult economic times. Speaking at the opening of The Taste of Dublin show, he said: “Optimism is so important in a recession, and the restaurant industry can be a real driver in terms of bringing confidence back.” Oliver will open a Dublin Jamie’s Italian in the autumn and he also appealed for locally-produced beers, meats and vegetables to put on the menu at Jamie’s Italian. “Come and show us what you’ve got,” he said. “We want local produce, both for the main menu and the specials board.”

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