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Morning Briefing Strap Line
Thu 28th Jun 2012 - Leon, Krispy Kreme and Prezzo

Story of the day:

No Saints plans £1.7m new-style “technology” nightclub in Milton Keynes: No Saints, the ten-strong nightclub company run by former Luminar boss Steve Thomas, will re-open the former Oceania nightclub in Milton Keynes as its first Wonderworld mega-site on 25 July. The new venue will feature two separate nightclubs – Yesterday and Tomorrow – and make use of the latest in new technology. An app for the nightclub, which already has 7,500 followers on Facebook, will allow customers to download vouchers that can be read off mobile devices at till points, automatically re-calculating drinks prices. The club will also operate a digital golden and silvers keys scheme – the former provides access to the club’s Secret Garden area and VIP lounge with the latter still offering access to the Secret Garden. Thomas told Morning Briefing: “Nightclubs are coming back because customers have realised very few bars do late-night entertainment properly. Equally, we’ve decided against opening a bar at Wonderworld although there has been one in the past – we’re a nightclub company.” No Saints plans to open a site in Norwich at the end of August and has a third Jam House opening scheduled for Cambridge in November. No Saints is the first operator to win a new late hours licence in Cambridge since 1979 – Thomas himself obtained the last one.

Industry news:

Livebookings launches phone bookings service: Livebookings has launched a telephone reservation service to ensure no telephone reservation goes unanswered. Diners calling the restaurant are automatically redirected to the Livebookings by a phone service which works with the restaurant’s electronic reservation book to enable the diner to book one of the available tables. Once the diner has made a reservation they receive an instant confirmation by SMS. According to a study by Kleos Marketing, 63 per cent of reservations are still taken by telephone and 29 per cent of operators believe they miss reservation calls regularly. Additionally, a Livebookings survey has found a third of operators do not have a website, which costs each an estimated £30,000 per annum in lost revenue. 

Cautious consumers revealed in mortgage repayment figures: Mortgage repayments outstripped lending in May for the first time on record. Experts claimed the net repayments indicated a weak housing market and consumer caution as consumers chose to pay off debts rather than spend money. Meanwhile, an Office for Budget Responsibility forecast suggests the real average family disposable income will drop by £1,700 per annum by 2015 – compared to £800 last year. 

Nation’s Restaurant News names top five US growth chains: Nation’s Restaurant News has produced a list of the top five growth foodservice chains in the US. They are: 1: Five Guys Burgers (sales up 31.84 per cent to $950.6m with 918 units and estimated sales per site of $1.15m); 2: Jimmy John’s Gourmet sandwiches (sales up 30 per cent to $1.01bn with 1,329 units and average sales per site of $824,700); 3: Chipotle Mexican Grill (sales up 23.56 per cent to $2.26bn with 1,225 units and estimated average sales per site of $1.96m); 4: BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse (sales up 20.82 per cent to $620.9m with 115 units and average sales per site of $5.72m); 5: Cheddar’s Casual Café: (sales up 20.45 per cent to $438.3m with estimated average site sales of $4.47m). The top restaurant chains are: McDonald’s ($34.17bn of sales in the US); Subway ($11.43bn of sales); Starbucks ($8.49bn of sales); Burger King ($8.13bn of sales); Wendy’s ($8.11bn of sales); Taco Bell (£7bn of sales); Dunkin’ Donuts ($5.93bn of sales); Pizza Hut ($5.5bn of sales); KFC (4.43bn of sales) and Applebee’s $4.43bn of sales).

Sixty pubs, restaurants and cafes sign up for Leicester’s Big Eat: A total of 60 pubs, restaurants and cafes have signed up to take part in a Big Eat promotion in Leicester. Some restaurants are providing 50 per cent discounts and others offering two-for-one deals to coincide with the Olympic torch relay passing through the city next Monday. The event aims to show people coming in to the city for the relay what Leicester has to offer in the evenings and to provide a boost to the night-time economy. It will be the third Big Eat – and is set to be the biggest yet.

Company news:

Greene King reports 8.6 per cent increase in pre-tax profit: Suffolk-based Greene King has reported an 8.6 per cent rise in pre-tax profit to £152m on sales up 9.4 per cent to £1.140bn in the year to 29 April. Retail division like-for-likes rose four per cent with food sales growth up 17 per cent. The tenanted division saw average Ebitda per pub up four per cent. Its brewing division grew volumes by eight per cent. Like-for-like retail division sales have grown by seven per cent in the most recent eight weeks. Coffee sales have grown by 20.1 per cent, aided by the roll-out of Illy coffee. Chief executive Rooney Anand said: “Our team has once again delivered record results and attractive returns to our shareholders in a difficult environment. We have achieved strong growth and made further strategic progress. All our businesses are building customer loyalty by delivering industry-leading value, service and quality as we strive to be Britain’s best pubs and beer business. We are in the middle of an exciting summer for Britain, despite the unpredictable weather, with the Diamond Jubilee, Euro 2012 and with the Olympics still to come. However, looking further ahead, our customers’ spending will continue to be squeezed and concerns remain about job security. Our strategy is tailored for these difficult conditions as we focus on providing ‘everyday treats’ to our customers and delivering sustainable growth in earnings and dividends for our shareholders.”

Punch – third quarter sales down 6.4 per cent in core estate: Wet April weather contributed to a 6.4 per cent decline in like-for-like net income in Punch’s third quarter - like-for-like income is down 3.4 per cent for the 40 weeks to 26 May. The company stated: “Despite the impact of weather on recent comparatives, underlying performance in the business is robust with like-for-like net income in pubs on full substantive agreements down just one per cent over the 40 weeks to 26 May 2012.” The company has seen an uplift in sales in the first four weeks of the fourth quarter, which included the Queen's Diamond Jubilee weekend and the start of the UEFA European football championship. Chief executive Roger Whiteside said: “Having worked hard to contain costs, we remain on track to meet management's full year profit expectations. Our anticipation of a difficult third quarter, because of strong comparatives last year, has been compounded by the exceptional wet weather this year. Encouragingly, we have made a good start to our fourth quarter and notwithstanding recent difficult market conditions, the underlying business remains robust. We have a clear operational plan to return the core estate to growth in the medium-term and we remain on-track to maximise value from our non-core assets.”

Losses widen at Leon Restaurants: Leon, the healthy eating chain headed by Henry Dimbleby, has reported a pre-tax loss of £704,589 for the year to Christmas Day 2011 – the company lost £508,177 the year before. However, Ebitda before pre-opening costs, a “good measure of the underlying performance of the restaurant portfolio” according to the company, stood at £441,945, up from £410,313 in 2010. Turnover rose to £12,050,427 from £10,268,096 in 2010. The company opened an eleventh site in Soho’s Old Compton Street. This year two sites have opened in association with its franchise partner HMSHost – they are located at Kings Cross and Heathrow Terminal Three. 

Krispy Kreme reports more than 100,000 people eating its donuts each week; sales jump 26 per cent: Speciality donut company Krispy Kreme has reported sales jumped 26 per cent to £42.3m in the year to 31 January 2012. Profit before tax rose to £1,019,000 from £589,000 the year before. Ebitda grew to £4.191m from £3.4m the year before. The company opened seven retail stores during the year to make 45 in total. The company stated: “There are plans to grow this considerably over forthcoming years. Three further stores opened in April and May at sites in Merryhill, High Wycombe and Hull.” Management bought out the company for £16m in October last year supported by Alcuin and Indigo. 

Jamie Oliver opens takeaway pod at Bicester Village: Jamie Oliver has opened a takeaway unit, Fabulous Feasts, at Bicester shopping village, serving “informal and rustic” takeaway food. He said: “It’s a first of its kind. It’s like a miniature restaurant in a way – doing takeaways but obviously really top-quality stuff. I suppose it’s also different because we’ve done it in a low-key way, which has meant that the public have had to almost stumble across the pod by accident.” Meanwhile he opens ‘grab and graze’ Jamie’s Italian Bakery at Gatwick Airport next Monday (2 July).

Loungers wins Christchurch opening appeal: Loungers, the 24-strong café bar company headed by Alex Reilley, has won a planning appeal to convert a former Superbuys shop in Christchurch to a new site. Last year, councillors refused Loungers’ first application for the site due to a policy which advises no more than 20 per cent non-retail uses in the town, despite a survey carried out in May last year revealing there was already 25 per cent. A second application was made at the suggestion of planning officers who advised Loungers to apply again after a similar plan had got the go-ahead. Frustratingly, this second application was then refused under delegated powers - decided by officers rather than the council’s planning committee. An appeal to a planning inspector has seen the application passed.

Geronimo Inns recruits for plan to open 15 pubs in the next three years: Geronimo Inns, the gastro-operator led by Rupert and Jo Clevely and now owned by Young’s, is recruiting head chefs on a salary band of £30,000 to £35,000 as it gears up to open 15 new sites in the next three years. Each pub menu is different at Geronimo with head chefs producing menus specific to customer needs, location and style of the pub – kitchen turnovers across the estate range from £5,000-a-week to £25,000-a-week.

Herring boat nightclub come to London: A former East German herring storage boat, The Stubnitz, converted into a nightclub will be docked in London’s Pleasure Gardens from early next month for the Olympics. The hull of the boat is now the dancefloor and the refrigeration pipes, according to reports, “break and diffuse the sound amazingly - it's a sound you can't reproduce digitally”.

Devizes expresses concern over coffee shop over-supply: The Chamber of Commerce in Wiltshire town of Devizes has expressed concern about the town homing excessive numbers of coffee shops. The issue has arisen in the wake of Caffe Nero applying to convert a former Currys electrical shop into the town's twentieth café or restaurant. Anthony Brown, the president of Devizes Chamber of Commerce, said: “Any new business coming to town is good news. The last thing we want is empty shops, but it is not good if we become a town of coffee shops and charity shops.” A recent Caffe Nero in nearby Marlborough caused controversy, having opened before securing planning permission.

Wetherspoon gets Newcastle pub go-ahead after police withdraw objection: JD Wetherspoon has got licensing consent to convert a former YMCA shop in the Byker area of Newcastle into a pub after the police withdrew an objection. Local residents and Northumbria Police objected on the grounds that the area was already a hotspot for drug and alcohol-related crime and disorder. But Northumbria Police withdrew its objection on June 20 after talking to local residents and finding them generally in favour of the pub. Newcastle City Council's licensing committee approved the application on Tuesday.

Nightclub plans to target over-25s market: A nightclub in Rawtenstall plans to target the over-25s market after closing for a substantial refurbishment. Rhythm Station and its twin Route 66 nightclub in the Lancashire town will close on 30 June and plans to re-open with a new image during the last weekend of July. Owner Vincent Hardman said: “We’re looking to move away from the traditional nightclub environment. We have various things planned and we’ll be focusing on the over-25s market.”

Prezzo appoints marketing director: Restaurant group Prezzo has appointed Christian Poole as its marketing director. Poole, 37, was previously marketing director at Novus Leisure and has also held senior marketing roles with Greene King, Luminar Leisure and The Tussauds Group. He will be responsible for marketing Prezzo, Chimichanga and Caffe Uno restaurants across the UK. Prezzo chief executive Jonathan Kaye said: “Christian is a great addition to the company and I am delighted that he has joined us.”

Thwaites appoint veteran Derek Mackey to sales director role: Industry veteran Derek Mackey will join Thwaites next month as sales director. Mackey has previously worked as sales director for Greene King as well as working in sales and marketing roles with Global Brands and Heineken.

Orchid’s seven key dates plan produces sales boost: A plan by Orchid Pub Company to target seven key dates and events this year has produced a £1m boost to sales – a 13.3 per cent like-for-like uplift in the company’s first two quarters. Strong results include: Pizza Kitchen & Bar sites have seen 51.6 per cent like-for-like sales growth; Free House Dining venues have produced 15 per cent like-for-like sales growth; total Jubilee long weekend sales rose 32.6 per cent in like-for-like terms; total Easter weekend sales 3.2 per cent like-for-like (even with the rain). Commercial and people director Simon Dodd said: “It just goes to show that by being aware of major dates on the calendar and helping everyone work together we can create sales events that encourage more people through the doors, without the need to discount.”

Couple open second pub: Licensees Ian and Tracey Williams have taken on their second pub, The Sportmans Arms in Tattenhall, a Thwaites pub. The pub has been transformed into a cosy, traditional village pub following a two-week refurbishment. The couple also run the award-winning Bickerton Poacher in Bulkeley. Chef Andrew Parry and partner Emma Hopwood have been appointed to manage the day-to-day running of The Sportsman’s Arms.

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