Story of the day:
Luke Johnson sets out his sector investment tips: Sector investor Luke Johnson, who has built brands such as PizzaExpress, Strada, Giraffe and Patisserie Valerie, has set out his tips for successful investment in the sector. Johnson, who runs Risk Capital Partners, said: “If you want to run a business for fun then niche is fine. But if you want to build a big business and be ambitious then you need broad appeal. I worry about some of these new sectors people are getting euphoric over.” He recommended looking for high return concepts. “These are ones that have high turnover per square foot, high seat turnover and high gross margins, because a high return business can fund the new openings and you can afford to pay better wages and can afford better bonuses. Virtually all the successful restaurant businesses I have ever seen have got these high return margins.” Johnson described property choices as ‘incredibly important’. “It’s the thing most people get wrong. You’ve got to get property right. And I think again, nowadays, being the same as everyone else, looking for a classic 3,000 square foot space, all on the ground floor in an A3 unit – that’s tough. Because that’s what most people are after. That’s why I look for A1 sites.” He argued that “affordability is more important than ever in these austere times”. “I think Côte has got it right. These are hard times. We have got cost-conscious customers out there – so you have got to look for the value offer.” Working with numerate people is also high on the list of his investment criteria. “When I try to find people to work with I look for people who know the numbers. There are many inventors of concepts – but a number of them have lost their businesses because they cared too much about the food or the concepts but they didn’t care enough about the cash margins.” Johnson said he looked for entrepreneurs with “real domain knowledge”. “You get an awful lot of ex-lawyers and ex-bankers who come to me with the greatest food concept and they reckon they know how to do it, but they can forget it. You want people who know kitchens, who understand the regulations and who understand how to recruit and motivate people and to identify and cultivate talent. I don’t have much time for amateurs who come in at the top and haven’t learnt about hospitality and who haven’t been in the trenches.” Success is about mastering the ‘detail of retail’. “In the hospitality industry this phrase certainly applies. There are 500 items you could list for a restaurant manager to be interested in – it’s everything from theft to wastage, portion size, planning permissions and how much the builders are charging you. It’s important to get detail-minded people both at the administrative central level but also out in the field.” Luke Johnson’s comments were made at the Propel Multi Club Conference and a fuller version of his presentation appears in the summer edition of Propel Quarterly magazine out next week.
In today’s separate Friday Opinion e-mail: Paul Charity looks at the mistakes operators have survived, Ian Fozard argues the case for community pubs, Paul Chase examines advocacy groups and Suzy Jackson updates on efforts to change perceptions of the sector.
Tom Kerridge to star in BBC Two series on pub food: Chef Tom Kerridge, the first pub chef in the UK to win two Michelin stars, is to star in a new BBC Two series called Proper Pub Food, which will air in the autumn. Kerridge won his two Michelin stars at The Hand & Flowers in Marlow, a Greene King pub. His six-episode series will reveal the secrets behind dishes such as mussels cooked in ale, treacle-cured roast beef with ultimate Yorkshire puddings, and date and toffee pudding with caramelised banana. Kerridge has been filming at Rebellion Brewery in Marlow Bottom for the new BBC series. He cooked mussels in Rebellion’s own Mutiny ale. The programme will also focus on local suppliers and ways to use their produce in order to create great dishes.
John Sergeant to host the BBPA annual dinner:
TV interviewer John Sergeant is to host the British Beer & Pub Association Annual Dinner and Awards, which take place at the Park Plaza, Westminster, London, on Wednesday 9 October. To book a table, contact Sophie McIntyre on 020 7627 9155, email email@example.com
Pizza Hut closes stand-alone chicken wing concept in the US: Pizza Hut’s first stand-alone WingStreet site in Denton, Texas, selling chicken wings, chicken strips and sandwiches, has closed nine months after it opened. More than 3,600 WingStreet units already exist within Pizza Huts, but the unit in a strip-mall north of Dallas was first unit to stand on its own. A company spokesman said: “It was a pilot and we learned a lot from consumers that we’ll be able to now apply to the concept moving forward.”
BII shaves £311,000 off staff costs in 2012: The British Institute of Innkeeping shaved £311,000 off staff costs in 2012, spending £2,056,846 on staff compared to £2,368,293 the year before. Savings were made in senior staff pay. The highest paid executive earned between £100,000 and £110,000 compared to £110,000 and £120,000 the year before. There was also only one other executive earning more than £80,000 compared to two in the prior year. Overall head count dropped by ten staff to 39.8 full-time equivalent. Total income stood at £4,219,000 compared to £4,374,000 the year before.
Expatriates miss the pub the most: The pub is the part of home most missed by those who leave the UK for life abroad. A survey, undertaken by Global Visas, found 36% of respondents most missed British pubs, followed by high street fashion, with 21% of votes, and tea (14%). Gary Smith, global sales and marketing director at Global Visas, said: “We may not have the warmest weather, but we know how to pour the perfect pint, keep up-to-date with fashion trends and we have mastered the art of brewing a good pot of tea.”
The Guardian partners Alastair Sawday to offer two-for-one pub lunches: Tomorrow, The Guardian will team up with Alastair Sawday’s to offer readers two for one pub lunches at 50 Sawday’s pubs across England and some in Wales. In addition, Sawday’s guides editor David Hancock will select ten great pubs worth visiting this summer in The Guardian Travel section.
France proposes food outlets must serve meals made on the premises to be called restaurants: French food outlets that do not make food on the premises could be banned from using the word restaurant in a draft law, to be tabled next month, that aims to help consumer identify outlets that serve meals that are simply heated up. Fast food outlets took 54% of the French eating out market last year compared to 40% in 2011.
US concept Rita’s Italian Ice seeks to expand into the UK: Another US concept, Rita’s Italian Ice, is looking to break into the UK market. Rita’s, led by Jonathan Fornaci, currently operates 625 units in 21 States. It also has franchised operations in China, Pakistan, Canada and Costa Rica. New territories due to open sites are Libya and UAW. Fornacci told Propel: “Rita’s is currently seeking franchisees and master developers in the United Kingdom. Rita’s multi-outlet development method offers the opportunity for an individual to purchase a minimum of five outlets. This package consists of one standard production outlet, three fixed satellite outlets and one mobile outlet (cart, trailer or truck). All satellite and mobile outlets are supported by the main production outlet and are within reasonable proximity of the main production outlet. Rita’s has developed business model that focuses on collaborating with qualified “Master Franchise” candidates who have the resources to acquire the license to open and operate our Rita’s franchise. The master franchisee has the option of developing the business or developing through their own subsidiaries and network of independent operators. Master franchising with Rita’s allows people or corporations to purchase the rights to sub-franchise within a certain territory. This allows the master franchisee the opportunity to grow a decent business in a fairly short time frame.” Jonathan Fornaci is to present at the Propel Multi Club Conference on Thursday 20 June at the Oxford Belfry.
Giggling Squid sets sites on national roll-out: Giggling Restaurant, the owner of the Giggling Squid brand, has set out plans to become the UK’s first national chain of Thai restaurants with an estate of 80 sites within the next five years. The company, led by Andy Laurillard, has five sites and is set to open in Reigate and Marlow in the coming months – it also is in talks over five more sites set to open within its current financial year. Net sales for the latest financial year were £2.7m with Ebitda of £595,000. Sales are forecast to hit the £5m mark this year with Ebitda of circa £1m. The group was founded at a site in Hove and has added sites in Brighton, Crawley, Tunbridge Wells and Henley-on-Thames. Work on the new Reigate site, previously a restaurant called Puccinos which closed four years ago, has been delayed by the discovery of a 60 cubic metre cave - but it will open at the end of June. The Crawley restaurant is rated sixth out of 97 restaurants in the town. A typical TripAdvisor review states: “Fantastic authentic Thai food served by friendly Thai staff. Highly recommend it.”
Spirit closes in on 1,000 apprenticeship landmark: Spirit Pub Company is one step closer to achieving 1,000 candidates on its apprenticeship programme after a further 90 apprentices were recognised for their success at a celebration ceremony held at Alton Towers. The apprentices were invited to the award ceremony to receive their apprenticeship certificates from Spirit’s HR director for operations Ian Marchant, and head of learning and development Mark Peters. The latter said: “It was an honour to meet some of the best and brightest of our pub teams and personally thank them for the hard work they have done. An apprenticeship is not something that can be taken on lightly and the commitment they have shown to earn their qualifications more than deserves some recognition.” The company expects to hit the important 1,000 milestone in the next two months, which has been driven by the company’s ambition to have an apprentice in every pub on one of the five available programmes it has across all brands.
Bath entrepreneur acquires third site and hires Michelin-starred chef: Bath businessman Giles Thomas has acquired his third site in the city, The Porter pub, and will give it a £500,000 refurbishment. Thomas, who already owns The Halcyon Hotel and Circo bar in South Parade, said: “I literally walked the streets of Bath looking for an old pub I could do something with.” The new venue will see Clayton’s Kitchen restaurant on the ground floor, run by double Michelin-starred chef Rob Clayton, who has previously worked at the Priory, serving a gastro-pub style menu. There will also be a relaxed bar area on the first floor, private dining and conference rooms on the top floor, as well as an underground bar with live music.
Richard Bailey becomes new boss of Arkell’s Vintners: Richard Bailey has been named as the new manager of Arkell’s Vintners wine and spirit department, a part of Arkell’s Brewery. Bailey is only the third person to be appointed to the position in 51 years. He said: “I have been trading with Arkell’s for 20 years and know the business very well. When this role became vacant it was a welcome and rare opportunity to work within an old and established family business.” Bailey was the catering manager for the National Trust in Avebury before buying The Crown Pub in Marlborough. Prior to joining Arkell’s he was head of catering at Stanton House Hotel. Arkell’s Vintner was established in 1962 and has become one of the leading private suppliers of wines across Wiltshire, Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.
Gordon’s Wine Bar to open a second site – after 123 years: London’s oldest wine bar is to open a second branch – 123 years after the first site opened. Gordon’s Wine Bar is preparing to launch on offshoot just five doors down from its Villiers Street home near Charing Cross station. The new all-day Villiers Bar & Café will be run by the Sophie Gordon, a niece of the current generation of owners. Unlike the famously dark original, where drinkers sip their wine on rickety tables in candlelit “caves”, the new wine bar will be light and airy and above ground. Matt Ashman, of property consultants Cushman & Wakefield’s, which advised the Gordons, said: “Gordon’s Wine Bar is synonymous with quality food and drink – I’m sure this new venture by the family will become a London favourite in its own right.”
Molson Coors to launch £9.6m Carling campaign: Carling adverts will launch this weekend that aim to appeal to what it describes as the “iPhone generation” of drinkers. A new “Refreshingly Perfect” strapline will support the positioning and will also be extended to the Carling’s Zest and Chrome beers as well as its British Cider brand. Carling senior brand manager Rob Hollis told Marketing Week the revamped focus targets those drinkers “who readily share YouTube clips and content on their smartphones as part of bar room banter”. He added: “We made this ad with the idea of a pint in one hand and a smart phone in the other. We wanted to recapture some of the best advertising campaigns – like the “I Bet He Drinks Carling Black Label” – we’ve done in the past in an understated tone of voice.”
Barnsley restaurateur launches his own ready meal range: A Barnsley restaurateur is boosting his business by launching a range of ready meals, cooked in its kitchens. Jaz Boparai, who opened Chilli Restaurant on Market Street in 2004, said: “Although the restaurant is doing well, we are in challenging economic times so it’s about finding alternative revenue streams. It also helps customers who may be feeling the pinch. Our meals are quite different as Indian food is normally Bangladeshi or Kashmiri but our meals are Punjabi so we use much less oil. They are made in the kitchen from the restaurant recipe so people get restaurant quality meals at home.” The meals are on sale in 12 outlets around Barnsley, ranging from Costcutter to farm shops and Boparai is now planning to expand the range to include bhajis and samosas.
The Guardian opens its own coffee shop: The Guardian has opened its own pop-up coffee shop in Shoreditch. It features iPads and a live digital dashboard of coffee sales. It aims to let the public know more about the Guardian’s “innovative approach to storytelling”. It is looking for a retail operations manager to run the site, on a salary of £25,000 to £30,000 per annum: The job advert states: “The retail operations manager will be responsible for the smooth running of our new venture #guardiancoffee, a single site operation which is both a coffee shop and a space for journalists to work in.”
Ossett Brewery and Leeds Brewery set to get go-ahead for new pubs in York: Plans for two new pubs in York look set to get the given the go-ahead next week. Councillors will be asked to approve proposals to turn the Fossgate building, which once housed Italian restaurant Fellini’s and Leila’s tearooms, one of the largest empty properties in the centre of the city, into a pub which would be operated by Ossett Brewery. City of York Council planners have also recommended granting permission for Leeds Brewery to open a “family-friendly” pub, The Duke of York, at St Trinity House in King’s Square, formerly the home of Your Move estate agency.
Premier Inn harnesses big data insights: Whitbread’s Premier Inn brand is harnessing a series of ‘big data’ insights drawn from a host of branded apps to overhaul its Android proposition – a similar move saw conversion rates on its iOS version double within weeks of relaunch. The Whitbread-owned hotel chain is using an insights tool offered by mobile app development agency Grapple Mobile to publish and update its existing Android offering. Grapple’s analytics tool, Insights Engine, aggregates user behaviour gleaned from over 250 apps, across almost 100 different brands, to produce analytics to help brands decide on how best to optimise for mobile audiences. Premier Inn used the same analytics service to optimise its iOS app within the last month and since then conversions rates, i.e. the number of people to have used the app and then booked a room, increased from three to 5.9%.
Gloucester to get its first pub dedicated to cider: Gloucester licensee Paul Sodden, who runs Café Ren in the city, is to open the city’s first cider pub. The Coach and Horses will have 14 ciders and perrys on tap and another 22 bottled varieties - it will also sell real ales. The kitchen will serve up pork rolls – and there are plans to grow an apple tree dedicated to the pub in the back yard, where cider will also be made on site.
Real China buffet restaurant brand takes West Bromwich site: The Real China buffet restaurant chain has taken a site in West Bromwich’s £200 million New Square development. Real China, which has 19 branches across the UK, is taking a unit in the new piazza area, joining other food retailers, including Nando’s, Prezzo, Harvester and Costa.
UK noodle chain plans 200 sites in India: East Midlands-based Chinese food chain YoYo Noodle, is to invest £25m over the next five years to open as many as 200 outlets in India. YoYo Group founder Eric Ho said: “With Chinese cuisine being so popular here, we are set for a great start. We are in the process of picking our key franchise partners and hope to have 200 stores in the next five years.” YoYo Noodle opened its first franchised UK site in Newcastle in March this year.
Snoozebox raises extra £10.1m: Snoozebox, the provider of portable hotel accommodation whose chief executive Robert Breare stepped down recently, has raised £10.1 million through a placing of 42,273,000 new ordinary shares. Chief executive David Morrison said: “We are grateful to our institutional shareholders for their continued support for the business. The placing will enable the company to fulfill its contractual commitments this year and next, as well as provide necessary fuel for growth. Notwithstanding the problems of recent months, we believe that the potential of the company remains undiminished and we look forward with optimism.”
Scoff chooses IBS for EPOS solution: Scoffs, a brand new food-to-go concept, has commissioned Intelligent Business Systems (IBS) to provide an EPOS solution in anticipation of a roll out across the south in the next two years. Co-founded by Chris and Adam Hutcheson, Scoffs’ first retail store opened in Victoria, South London, last November. Once the brand concept and operational aspects have been fine-tuned, the duo, according to Adam, will roll out additional outlets as they compete for the lucrative lunchtime market with “an array of ‘British’ tastes as an alternative to sandwiches.”
New gourmet kosher restaurant opens: Adafina, a gourmet kosher food brand in the UK, has launched a Glatt Kosher restaurant inside the oldest synagogue in Britain, Bevis Marks Synagogue, which opened 312 years ago in 1701. The restaurant is called Restaurant 1701.
Top Diageo marketer to leave after 15 years: One of Diageo’s top marketers, Matthew Barwell, is leaving the company after 15 years. Barwell was marketing and innovations director for Western Europe and was responsible for brand and creative strategy across its portfolio in 16 of the company’s biggest markets. All category marketing teams reported into him following a 2011 restructure that saw the previous territory-based structure scrapped.
Camino Group opens cava bar: Camino Group has opened a cava bar, Copa de Cava, in the brick vaults beneath its existing Camino San Pablo site, close to St Paul’s Cathedral in London. It claims to offer the widest range of cavas in London with 28 different varieties on the list. Camino also runs sites in Canary Wharf, Monument and King’s Cross.
JD Wetherspoon battles with microbrewery for Gloucester site: Local media reports that a microbrewery is competing with JD Wetherspoon to open a new ale house at Gloucester docks. JD Wetherspoon is thought to be considering adding a third pub to its Gloucester portfolio by acquiring the former Coots cafe, with Gloucester Brewery hoping it can step in if a deal falls through. “We are very interested in it,” said brewery boss Jared Brown.
Earl of Sandwich eyes UK expansion: The Earl of Sandwich sandwich shop brand is set to expand in the UK after success at the first site in the city of London. The company, a partnership between the 11th Earl of Sandwich John Montagu and Planet Hollywood founder Robert Earl, was launched in the US in 2004 and opened its first UK shop in Ludgate Hill in 2011. The business will target high footfall sites such as airports, motorways, shopping malls and railway stations.