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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Mon 18th Mar 2013 - Breaking News - Wetherspoon goes peri peri and hot dog route
JD Wetherspoon launches new menu with ‘Nando’s flavours’ and first hot dog; updates on customer complaints: Managed operator JD Wetherspoon, which saw food sales increase by 13.4% in its most recent half year in the 26 weeks to 27 January, has launched a new menu with a host of additions. The company is on track to record £400m of food sales this financial year - food sales are currently growing more than three times faster than drink sales (up 4.1%). Ribs, peri peri chicken, southern fried chicken, a gourmet foot-long hot dog and fresh coleslaw are among key additions. New menu items are: a full rack of ribs with BBQ sauce, coleslaw, beer-battered onion rings and chips, a peri peri half roast chicken with onion rings and chips, Southern fried chicken strips with a Jack Daniels honey glaze, coleslaw and chips, a classic and gourmet foot-long hot dog smoked over beechwood with onion rings, sweet American mustard and chips (the gourmet version offers cheese and chilli con carne), a Tennessee Burger served with a Jack Daniels glaze and a chicken burger, a honey glaze gammon steak. Its children menu sees the addition of cheesy pasta, a hot dog, spaghetti bolognese and a banana split. Its Indian Club menu, offered between noon and 10pm on a Thursday night, has a new Indian Sharer dish and a poppadum tower. The company’s Sunday Club has added a large char-grilled roast half chicken. On Friday, Wetherspoon reported that all its pubs are open by 8am for breakfast with some open at 7am. Food sales have increased from 23.2% of sales in 2003 to 32.5% this year. The company also published its in-pub magazine today, outlining the areas where customers have been “venting their anger”. Customers have complained that its latest menu had less gluten choice, there was slow service in pubs and that some of its promotions were a “bit too popular” and items were unavailable. Dirty tables were, again an area of complaint. “It’s still an issue but we are pleased to see fewer complaints in the mailbag,” the company said. One customer complained of dirty cutlery. Founder Tim Martin said: “There is some truth in what you say, I have to admit. I went into one of our very well-run pubs the other day – and the cutlery was just not ‘it’. We’ve had a lot of initiatives in this area, including spending a couple of million pounds on cutlery polishers, but the improvements we expected have not materialised (although many of our pubs do very well, I should emphasise). There’s no magic dust available, but I’m going to go back to the drawing board and will make sparkling cutlery a main priority.” There was praise from customers for its club nights and Christmas Day meals. Last Friday, Wetherspoon reported the details of a Peach Brand Track survey which showed that it came top of a brand choice survey – 11% of respondents would choose Wetherspoon given a choice of major brands compared to Nando’s (9%), Harvester (8%), PizzaExpress(7%), Pizza Hut (7%) and Frankie & Benny’s (7%).

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