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Mon 10th Jun 2013 - Greene King, YO! Sushi and Wildwood

Story of the day:

Fuller’s to open stand-alone coffee shops: London brewer and retailer Fuller’s will open a couple of stand-alone coffee shops, showcasing its own Brewer Street coffee brand, next to its pubs later this year. The company will use property it already owns next to its existing pubs for the coffee shop developments. Group managing director Simon Emeny told Propel: “These are high footfall sites where we have property adjacent to our pubs. We are really pleased with the course we took on coffee. The branded route wasn’t right for us - we decided we’d try to be different and have found a fantastic coffee blend.” Fuller’s serves its Brewer Street brand in eye-catching crockery with a menu offering all the popular variants and indulgent snacks, such as “delicious chocolate brownie”. Emeny also revealed that Fuller’s will invest £1.7m in its proposed London Pride pub opening at London Heathrow airport – it has a turnover lease at the site, which is 8.3 miles from the brewery in Chiswick. “Heathrow staff visited our pubs in trade – and spent a lot of time at The Parcel Yard at King’s Cross,” reported Emeny. Fuller’s is also investing £3.4m opening two new-build freehold pubs on greenfield and brownfield sites in Farnham, Hampshire and Key Bridge, London in partnership with Waterside – the pubs will open early in 2014. The company reported that it has increased the bandwidth of the Wi-Fi on offer in its pubs after it proved so successful it was affecting manager’s back office access to broadband. Emeny said: “We first stated offering Wi-Fi in our managed pubs three-and-a-half years ago. It was so successful that the pressure of demand on the Wi-Fi was so great we have had to upgrade it – we now have a much more powerful system that we had originally.” The company also negotiated with its provider 02 to ensure its tenants now also offer free Wi-Fi.

Industry news:

Mintel – it’s murder on the dance floor: Nightclub revenues have dropped from £1.8bn in 2007 to £1.3bn in 2012, according to a report by research company Mintel. Taking higher drinks prices into account, the slump was 40% in real terms. This downward trend will continue according to Mintel, who forecast that the nightclub sector will be worth just £1.1bn by 2017. Peter Marks, managing director of Luminar, told The Financial Times: “People are going out less often, but want to spend more when they do.” Unemployment among 18 to 24 year-olds – which stands at almost 20% – will continue to hurt the sector. “We are 75% reliant on under 25s,” said Marks. “This is my third recession and the under-25 market is the first to be hit and the last to recover.” A 12% dip in the number of university admissions in 2012 has increased the pressure on the sector. “That’s not a one-off,” said Mintel’s Paul Davies, author of the report. “It will hit years two and three as well.”

Average family dinner takes nine minutes: The average family diner now takes just nine minutes, according to a new survey. Breakfast, meanwhile, takes six minutes and lunch eight, meaning many adults consume their entire day’s meals in around 23 minutes. The study also found that a typical adult plans only three meals a week out of 28. In a sign of the pace of life, 16% of those surveyed said they would prefer to skip a meal or take it with them rather than miss a bus or a train. 

Japanese restaurant in New York scraps tipping: A Japanese restaurant in New York has gone against the city’s tipping culture by saying that tips are no longer being sought and will be returned if offered. Sushi Yasuda, one of the city’s most popular Japanese restaurants, recently decided to stop accepting gratuities. A note on the bottom of each receipt states: “Following the custom in Japan, Sushi Yasuda’s service staff are fully compensated by their salary. Therefore gratuities are not accepted. Thank you.” Tips were not going to staff at Sushi Yasuda in the first place. Employees instead received higher salaries and benefits, while the restaurant took the tips. The restaurant will make up for the lost tips by raising the food prices by about 15%.

McDonald’s to trial “McDonald’s After Midnight” menu: McDonald’s in the US will begin rolling out a broader “McDonald’s After Midnight” menu of breakfast and dinner items in select markets at participating 24-hour locations, available between midnight and 4am. “Our customers want convenience around the clock, and we’re making it easier to eat at McDonald’s with more 24-hour restaurants open than ever before,” a spokesman for the company said. “Our new McDonald’s After Midnight menu features a selection of our customers’ favorite breakfast and dinner menu items with the option to mix and match to create Midnight Value Meals and select limited-time offerings.” Items reportedly available on the After Midnight menu include the Big Mac, Chicken McNuggets, the Egg McMuffin, hot cakes, French fries and hash browns.

UK faces ten more years of austerity plus tax rises: The UK faces ten more years of austerity with public spending cuts likely to dominate the next two elections, according to two leading think tanks. In a joint study, The Institute of Fiscal Studies and the Institute for Government warned that a further 250,000 civil servants may lose their jobs because of sluggish economic growth. 

Company news:

Punch Taverns offers revised debts terms: Punch Taverns is seeking to end a row with senior bondholders over plans to tackle its cash-draining securitisation structure by offering them cash to allow them to exit their positions. Senior bondholders have previously threatened to block the negotiations on the basis that it prioritised junior lenders who should be lower down the pecking order. Executive chairman Stephen Billingham said: “Our profit performance for the year to date has been in line with our expectations, with improving trends in the underlying business. Our trading performance has benefited from recent operational improvements through continued investment in our core pubs and increased field team support and we are on track to meet our full year profit guidance. The revised restructuring proposals reflect the results of an extensive process with stakeholders. Importantly, these proposals achieve an equitable solution by directing more of the group’s finite cash resources to the senior classes of notes, whilst still providing good value recovery for the junior classes of notes. Support is required from a number of stakeholders who will have a range of views on the revised restructuring proposals. We will continue to engage with all stakeholders and will be inviting all stakeholders to attend a meeting this week to discuss the detail of the revised restructuring proposals and next steps before progressing to implementing a restructuring in June 2013.” The company reported like-for-like sales were down 0.7% in its third quarter to 25 May. A total of 246 pubs were sold for £84m, slightly ahead of book value and 18x Ebitda.

Grand Union plans to treble in size after Luke Johnson investment: Sector investor Luke Johnson has taken a 50% stake in London bar operator Grand Union Group, the company founded and headed by Adam Marshall, who now thinks the company is well-placed to grow its seven-strong estate to at least 20 sites. Johnson, who becomes chairman of the company, has taken the stake in a private capacity rather than through Risk Capital Partners, the private equity firm he heads – Johnson also holds a private stake in Draft House, the pub operator headed by Charlie McVeigh. Marshall has not sold any of his shares in the business, suggesting Johnson has bought-out an investor. Grand Union opened its first site in 2006 and trades in Brixton, Islington and Paddington among other places. The company has five tied and two free-of-tie sites – three of its tied sites produce between £300,000 and £450,000 Ebitda per annum. Grand Union’s most recent opening was Grand Union, Paddington and Marshall reported last year that it is performing very well with around £25,000 to £28,000 per week of net takings and annualised site Ebitda of £260,000. Grand Union’s last reported Ebitda, pre-central overheads, was £1.4m. Marshall said: “We are very excited to welcome Luke on board as an investor and advisor. I believe his experience will help us grow the business to at least 20 sites in the near to medium future across London’s villages.” Johnson said: “We have provided the resources that Adam and his team need to grow their brand. He has successfully restructured the business in the last 18 months and is now poised to expand once more.”

Tokyo Industries buys Leeds site: Tokyo Industries, the 22-strong bar and nightclub business led by Aaron Mellor, has bought Lounge Bar & Grill in Leeds. Joint administrators from Begbies Traynor completed the sale of Lounge (Leeds), which traded as Lounge Bar & Grill, in a deal which has saved 15 jobs. Administrators were appointed to Lounge (Leeds) before Christmas and the venue has continued trading since then. Tokyo Industries venues include Factory and South in Manchester, Magnet in Liverpool and The Castle in Oldham.

Wildwood lines up Oakham opening: Tasty has applied to open a Wildwood site in Oakham, Rutland. The opening is lined up for the former Furleys furniture store in High Street in a move that will create about 35 jobs. A planning application has been submitted to Rutland County Council. Samuel Kaye, joint chief executive officer of Tasty, the parent company of Wildwood, said: “We’ve had a look at the site and it seems like a lovely little town. The site is beautiful and we just fell in love with the town when we visited. It has real character.” The restaurant would seat up to 100 customers over two floors. There would be a garden at the back of the venue. Tasty has 20 venues in the UK, with the nearest being in Market Harborough – it opened its first restaurant in Gerrards Cross in 2008.

Greene King accused of cultural vandalism: Suffolk-based Green King has been accused of cultural vandalism after replacing traditional pub signs at around 200 sites with modern signs. Former mayor of the brewer’s home-town Bury St Edmunds, Mike Ames, said: “Traditional signs are being replaced by bland, modern ones that are more appropriate to a shopping mall.” A spokesman for Greene King said that traditional signs had been retained but some of its family-oriented pubs had “more contemporary” signs. The company’s new Pub and Flame Grill brand sports the more contemporary signs, for example. Meanwhile, Greene King will open a Hungry Horse on a Longbridge town centre site. The pub will boast outdoor seating and a mezzanine floor providing views of the £2 million, tree-lined Austin Park. Ken Millbanks, group property director at Greene King, said: “We have chosen Longbridge as it provides us with an excellent location in a new residential, leisure and business community near to a number of other busy retail outlets.”

Timothy Taylor reports profit dip: Brewer and retailer Timothy Taylor, the brewer of Landlord based in Keighley, Yorkshire and headed by Charles Dent, has reported pre-tax profit of £2,116,878 on turnover of £22,149,168 in the year to 30 October 2012. Turnover was £22,0555,255 the year before with pre-tax profit higher at £2,735,419. The dividend was £774,604 compared to £756,590 the year before. Shareholders’ funds stood at £27,378,430 compared to £26,905,375 the year before. Mike Bramley, former head of Mitchells and Butlers pubs and bar division, joined the board as a none-executive director after the year-end. 

Peterborough’s best restaurant moves to city centre location: Peterborough’s highest rated restaurant is to move to a former pub in Cathedral Square. Clarkes restaurant, which is currently based in Lincoln Road, has announced that it will move to the city centre and open on 2 July. The restaurant, which was last year awarded a prestigious Michelin Three Forks Award, is to take over the old Grapevine pub. Clarkes head chef Lee Clarke said: “The new location puts us right in the heart of Peterborough’s restaurant scene with fantastic views across St John’s Square. With the larger restaurant we are able to offer more intimate dining and are adding both outside dining and a private dining room hosting a Chef’s Table experience.” As well as the restaurant, the new Cathedral Square Clarkes will also provide a cookery school.

JD Wetherspoon to double the size of its Gatwick South Terminal site: JD Wetherspoon is to almost double the size of its Red Lion pub in Gatwick’s South Terminal. The refurbishment will take advantage of works at Pier 5 to add around 1,000 sq ft of space. The airport will also welcome a new, high-profile restaurant from October, with an announcement expected shortly. Redevelopment work at the redeveloped international departures lounge will see 22 new shops opened by the end of 2013, including a Caviar House Seafood & Champagne Bar and a 6,000 square foot Harrods, which will open in August. Meanwhile, JD Wetherspoon has bought the 18th century Manor House Social Club in Royston. The £1 million sale, will bring 40 new jobs to the town as well as a complete transformation of the dilapidated listed building which has sat empty for two years due to a lack of membership – it could be open for Christmas.

YO! Sushi launches YO! Burger UK marketing campaign: YO! Sushi has launched a ‘Taste the Future’ marketing campaign across TV, press, PR, experiential and social media to promote its new YO! Burger product in the UK. The campaign was created by creative agency Kent Lyons and uses the strapline ‘It’s rice, but not as you know it’ – a take on the classic Star Trek line ‘It’s life Jim, but not as we know it’ – to promote the rice burger product. The TV advert will shown on ITV2, Channel 4, Sky 1 and MTV. Marketing manager Katie Crossfield said: “This is a completely new concept for the UK so it was important to develop a fun campaign which would really stand out, capture everyone’s attention and get them talking about the YO! Burger.”

Multi-site Gastro Pubs sells Suffolk site to farmer: East Anglian multi-site operator Gastro Pubs has sold the freehold of the Stansfield Compasses, near Bury St Edmunds, to a Sudbury farming family. The Dennis family, of H E Dennis of Stansfield, has created a new beer garden using some spare land owned by the farm business, providing views of the local landscape. Gastro Pubs bought the freehold in 2007 from previous owner, Scott Chapman. The new business fits well with some other diversifications from the main arable operation at the farm. New and developing businesses include a turkey-rearing enterprise, a rare pig operation, and a “woodland weekends” business where fishermen and wildlife lovers can get away from it all camping in a log “pod” .

Everards opens third Project Artisan pub: Leicestershire brewer and retailer Everards has opened its third Project Artisan pub, The Stamford Arms in Groby. The Stamford Arms has a stone-baked oven and a new deli, working with artisan producers, many of which are local to Groby and Leicestershire, offering tapas dishes, deli sharing boards and artisan sandwiches. Many dishes from the deli and the full menu are available to buy and take home, from the artisan dressings and chutneys to the tasty selection of olives and homemade fresh pasta.

Marston’s launches craft lager; reports drinkers will pay a 33p a pint premium: Marston’s is set to quench a growing consumer thirst for crafted, distinctive premium beer as it launches the first in a series of craft keg beers - Revisionist Craft Lager, available in 30-litre keg format. The Revisionist beer series has been developed as a showcase for Marston’s five regional breweries. It’s given their expert brewers a chance to ‘revise’ beer styles and create their own, new interpretations, using contemporary ingredients and techniques to deliver memorable drinking experiences. Other styles planned to receive the Revisionist treatment later in the year are a wheat beer and a Saison beer. James Coyle, sales director for Marston’s, said: “Whilst the overall beer market continues to decline, more premium formats of beer including cask ales, world lagers and ‘craft beers’ continue to deliver opportunities for growth. CGA are reporting ‘craft beers’ growing at 86% year-on-year. This is being fuelled by many consumers moving away from mass market and commodity beers, looking for products that deliver more of an experience when drinking in the on trade. Our annual drinker survey revealed that consumers see ‘craft beers’ as delivering more taste and flavour than standard beers. They are found in more limited distribution and are produced by smaller, regional and less well-known international brewers, with a passion for process and ingredients.” The growth in ‘craft beers’ is helping retailers to differentiate their range and better complement a more premium food offer, with beers that consumers are willing to pay an average premium of 33p per pint compared to standard beers.

Award-winning managed pub licensee takes on leased pub: Leeds licensee Carmel Daly Fletcher, who won several awards when she ran The Skyrack in Leeds as a managed pub, has taken over The Bay Horse, Meanwood, an Enterprise Inns pub, with her husband Paul. The pub has been restored throughout creating a warm, welcoming, traditional environment. “The historic pub has been at the centre of Meanwood for centuries and a focal point for the local community,” said Daly Fletcher. “It is our aim to ensure that we revive that community spirit and facility for the benefit of all our customers.”

Prezzo to open in Bath tomorrow: Prezzo will open its latest site in Bath tomorrow (Tuesday 11 June) and will create 20 new jobs. The restaurant is opening in two adjoining Grade I listed arches, which were originally designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel and date back to the 1840s. The restaurant has cost £500,000 to develop – it seats 110 diners, 70 in the restaurant and an additional 40 in an outside area.

Former Yellowhammer site in Taunton to re-open as an Hawaiian-themed cocktail bar: The Taunton nightclub Bliss, closed earlier this year when Yellowhammer Bars went into administration, will be split into two late-night venues this summer as part of a £250,000 transformation. The East Street site will have a Hawaiian-themed cocktail bar called Aloha and a nightclub called Khode all under one roof. New owners 241 Leisure also run Okoko nightclub on Bridge Street in Taunton. Manager Michelle Andrews said: “This will dramatically change the nightclub scene from the eyesore as it stands. It is the only one of its kind in the surrounding area and somewhere for everyone to go.” Thirty jobs will be created from the project and work is to be completed towards the end of July.

Inventive Leisure adds board member: Revolution vodka bar operator Inventive Leisure has promoted Jimmy Del Giudice to operations director, joining the main board. Del Guidice has worked in the business for 21 years working his way up through a number of operational levels. Prior to his latest appointment, Jimmy held the post of operations manager. He was heavily involved in the development of the Revolucion De Cuba brand, of which there are currently five in the company. Chief executive Mark McQuater said: “Jimmy is a highly talented person who has contributed a significant amount to the development and growth of our company over the years. We recognise he has extensive knowledge of both the front line operation of Inventive Leisure and the highly competitive market that the company operates in.”

Market Town Taverns launches its own beer awards: Market Town Taverns, the 15-strong operator of cask beer focused pubs in Yorkshire, has launched its own beer awards, the ‘Market Town Taverns Yorkshire Beer Awards’. Over 100 Yorkshire-based breweries were invited to submit their beers for blind judging undertaken by a panel of beer professionals - finalists in six categories were selected by a panel including Annabel Smith of Cask Marque and local MP Greg Mulholland plus selected pub managers. Now customers will be asked for their views with voting forms in pubs. “We really value our customers’ opinions on our beer and this is their chance to tell us what they think are the best cask ales and craft beer in Yorkshire,” said Market Town Tavern’s managing director Simon Midgley. “We went to great lengths to ensure the integrity and consistency of the blind tasted judging and I am happy the category finalists represent the best beers we tasted on the day,” he added.

Brian Thomas – “Anyone want my pub on a peppercorn rent?”: An industry veteran has issued an appeal to find a tenant to run his Wales freehold pub on a peppercorn rent – the pub faces closure otherwise. Brian Thomas told Propel: “I have recently tried to “hand over” my pub to the “community” on a peppercorn lease, but unfortunately things have not progressed as we had wished and at the latest meeting between the various individuals interested in keeping the pub open, we decided that due to a lack of people coming forward to help out, I should probably try some other course of action. The consensus was that rather than trying to force the community pub deal on everybody, I look for a tenant to take over the running of the pub. Most people still feel that there is a desire for the pub to be open, but they don’t have the time or inclination to help towards the running of the pub. The pub is a small boozer in the middle of nowhere on the Mid Wales border. We currently only sell food if it can hang off a hook on the wall and open six evenings per week. I run the place with the help of a few friends, but with my other work commitments and youngish family it has all become too much. I am rapidly approaching the date when I either relinquish day-to-day responsibility for the running of the pub or it closes. I imagine that the freehold is virtually worthless and I do not need to sell to carry on with my life.” Brian Thomas is on 07799 346 182.

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