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Wed 3rd Jul 2013 - Breaking News - Brewdog, Cote, Domino’s, JDW and Luminar

Story of the day:

Andy Bassadone wins Restaurateur of the Year at the Cateys: Andy Bassadone won Restaurateur of the Year at the Cateys last night. Judge James Horler, chief executive of 3 Sixty Restaurants, said: “To achieve a system-led roll-out of a uniquely propositioned casual dining brand is very difficult. Most people do it once and very few are able to do it twice. Andy has done it three times with Strada, Cote and now Bill’s. This is a real talent.” Judge Paul Ettinger, business development director of Caffe Nero, said: “From the moment one walks into Cote it is obvious this is a successful, systemised business which has been brilliantly executed and rolled out. It is a case study in how to develop a casual dining brand from concept to exit.” Karen Forrester, managing director of TGI Friday’s, was shortlisted in the category. Simon Rogan won Restaurateur of the Year – Independent. James and Kate MacKenzie, of The Pipe and Glass Inn in Beverley, Yorkshire won the Pub and Bar Award. The Pig, Brockenhurst, Hampshire won Hotel of the Year – Independent. Judge Andrew McKenzie, managing director of the Vineyard Group, said: “The Pig hits the mark on so many levels and offers exactly what today’s young, wealthy hotel guest wants – unbuttoned style with a very credible back story, which gives it integrity and makes it believable.” The Sticky Walnut in Chester, opened by chef Gary Usher in January 2010, won Menu of the Year. Judge Rob Kirby said: “It’s a confident, edgy, urban menu with food you want to eat without being stitched up on price.” Michel Roux Jr won the Special Award.

Industry news:

French – ‘the eating out market is through the worst’: The UK eating out market is “through the worst”, according to Panmure Gordon leisure analyst Simon French. French said he is “cautiously optimistic” about the UK’s eating out market going forward. He explained that despite difficult economic conditions eating out has remained “remarkably robust” in the past few years. Looking back at data on consumer confidence since the “torrid” 2008 period, French noted consumers are becoming more resilient because of more positive consumer sentiment on two key factors: job security and personal wealth. A growing sense of consumer confidence on personal worth can be attributed to more positive media coverage around rising house prices. “It always makes people a little bit more confident to go out and spend.” Operators will have a better understanding of the market in September, “but I think we will be pleasantly surprised,” he said. “I do think things are getting better. Rising house prices, low mortgage rates and cost of living initiatives are all helping.” However, French also argued that the sector still faced challenges. French predicted some “fairly chunky” petrol price increases this summer, which is slowly leading to a more American mentality. “People visit out of town retail parks to go to the supermarket or cinema and to have a meal – we need to work on ways to stop driving people out of town centres,” he told the Propel Multi Club Conference. Regulation is also an area throwing up new areas to keep operators on their toes. Consumer awareness around hygiene issues, and, in particular the Scores on the Doors initiative, is growing. He referred to the view of Mitchells & Butlers chief executive Alistair Darby who has stated Score of the Doors at venues will be an increasingly important factor in determining where people choose to eat.

Multi-buys and buy-one, get-one-free targeted by government: Multibuys and buy-one, get-one-free offers on snacks high in levels of fat and sugary drinks could be scrapped as part of an anti-obesity drive by the government.The move could feature in a voluntary responsibility deal that the Department of Health is working on with supermarkets and the food industry to encourage shoppers to choose healthier food. Another suggestion involves big retailers and food companies setting aside some of their marketing budget to promote healthier products. A new code could also see a ban on the use of cartoon characters aimed at children on food that is high in sugar and salt.

Luke Johnson – ascendancy of women in business seems certain: Serial sector investor Luke Johnson has suggested that the age of patriarchy in business may be ending. In his Financial Times column, he wrote: “I think patriarchy in entrepreneurship is ending. Surveys indicate that women in the west are narrowing the gap with men in terms of personal wealth. Moreover, they are also responsible for more than 80% of all purchasing decisions and so are probably better placed to supervise new product development, marketing, customer relations and many other aspects of business operations. Meanwhile, I have found women tend to have a higher emotional quotient than men, and hence are well-equipped for the modern workplace. Frequently, they are less egocentric and better at team-building. Women now make up the majority of graduates in many professions, including law and accountancy, traditionally the source of many business leaders. Their ascendancy seems certain.”

Senior civil servant – the economy could take 20 years to rebalance: Senior civil servant Sir Jeremy Heywood has suggested that the UK is in a “20 year generational battle” to rebalance the economy. He also suggested cuts made to public services to date were not sufficient and that austerity measures will have to continue for at least another four years.

Company news:

Domino’s reports like-for-likes up 6.1%: Domino’s has reported sales rose by 11.7% to £147.6m and like-for-like sales were up 6.1% (2012: 8.1%) in the 13 weeks to 30 June, its second quarter. E-commerce now accounts for 63.3% (2012: 52.4%) of UK delivered sales for the first half. This figure is expected to rise further as the company continues to develop its in-house web and digital marketing expertise and launches the latest version of the website in the second half. These actions will result in ‘even better communication with our customers, an ever easier customer journey through the ordering process and greater efficiency at the back end of the online and Apps ordering system’. Domino’s opened ten sites during the quarter (2012: 13), making a total of 15 (2012: 19) in the first half of the year. As in 2012, the site opening programme is heavily weighted towards the second half of the year and the company anticipates opening a comparable number of new stores to last year.

US food concept makes UK debut in Liverpool: US fast food franchise Broaster has made its debut in the UK market on Liverpool’s Lodge Lane neighbourhood. Broaster has been brought to the city by entrepreneur Moe Ahmed in a £200,000 investment. Ahmed said: “Broaster has more than 300 outlets in the US and is a different kind of fast food restaurant. We can see a lot of life returning to this part of the city and are glad to be making a contribution towards making it a genuine alternative destination to the city centre, and a thriving local neighbourhood in its own right.” Broaster began in the 1950s and is headquartered in Wisconsin. The concept behind ‘broasting’ is to deep fry under pressure, sealing out more of the oil in the cooking process. The broasting method begins with quality chicken, which is then marinated and coated with special Broaster ingredients, placed inside a Broaster pressure fryer. Each piece of chicken is then cooked with its own natural juices.

Simon French – it is disappointing that new Whitbread brand will not add to Whitbread total room target: Panmure Gordon analyst Simon French has expressed disappointment that Whitbread’s new budget brand, Hub by Premier Inn, will not add to total room numbers planned by the company. He said: “Whitbread has announced the long-awaited launch of its new hotel concept, ‘Hub by Premier Inn’. This is a smaller room (11.4m2) hotel focussed on customers who value price, location and design over space; to us it sounds strikingly similar to the highly regarded Z Hotels (www.thezhotels.com). ‘Hub by Premier Inn’ will be targeted at major UK city centres such as London and Edinburgh with the first hotel due to open in Summer/Autumn 2014. Build and operating costs will be 25% lower compared with a Central London Premier Inn. Disappointingly, in our view, the 6,000-room target is not incremental to the existing 75,000 room Premier Inn target by 2018.”

Carluccio’s sets July date for new Aberdeen site: Carluccio’s has set a 19 July opening date for its second Scottish opening, in Aberdeen. The second Scottish restaurant in located Union Square, taking over a site on the shopping mall’s upper floor. Carluccio’s Glasgow restaurant opened in 2011.

Buffalo Wild Wings to debut own brand beer: The 925-strong US-based Buffalo Wild Wings chain will start to sell its own proprietary brand of craft beer, Game Changer, on 15 July. The beer is a pale ale with an amber colour. “We’re all about wings, beer and sports, and we are always looking for new offerings to enhance the guest experience at our restaurants,” Kathy Benning, the chain’s executive vice president of global marketing, brand and business development said. “Our guests, above all, are sports fans, and they’re looking for that social environment to enjoy the game with their friends.” Buffalo Wild Wings offers more than 50 brands of beer, including 30 craft labels. Company officials have previously discussed their intentions to sell more craft beers because of its higher price points and growing popularity among consumers.

Mandalay takes second site: Burmese restaurant concept Mandalay has taken a second site, a new 15-year lease on the 2,997 square foot unit 12 at West End Quay in the Paddington basin, London. Shelley Sandzer acted on behalf of the landlord, whose asset managers are Avignon Capital. Mandalay’s first site is located at 444 Edgware Road. The family-owned restaurant has won many fans with its authentic cooking best described as a fusion between Chinese and Indian cuisine with a slight influence from Thai food. In 2009 it was voted the winner of Time Out’s London’s All Time Cheap Eats award. Henry Wilson, agent at Shelley Sandzer, said: “Mandalay Restaurant has won plaudits worldwide for its traditional Burmese food. This second site for them is in a great location in a strong scheme and provides more space for additional diners.”

Douglas Jack – we think Wetherspoon prices are now 11% below sector average; increases target price: Numis Securities analyst Douglas Jack has reported that Wetherspoon prices are now 11% below the sector average and raised his price target for its shares to 675p from 600p. The company reports on its fourth quarter sales on 17 July. Jack said: “We expect like-for-like sales to have slowed from 6.7% due to comparatives becoming tougher in Q4; and prices increases towards the end of Q3. The company needs to open 14 pubs in Q4 if it is to achieve its full year target of 30 new openings. However, margins are the area of greatest interest to us and, due to the Q3 price increases, we are upgrading our margin expectations and therefore our profit before tax forecasts by 5%. Recent ‘continuous (operational) improvement’ includes hosting bigger and better drink festivals, improved menus (including local variations) and better cutlery. In March, the chairman Tim Martin said prices would have to increase in response to rising costs. The latest CGA data shows JDW’s average lager, stout and soft drink prices are up 5% over the last year, with the vast majority of the price increases occurring in Q3. We estimate JDW’s average prices are now 11% below the market average.”

Horizons – Hungry Horse, Domino’s Pizza and TGI Friday’s winners in 2013: Foodservice consultancy Horizon has named Hungry Horse, Domino’s Pizza and TGI Friday’s as examples of eating out “winners” in 2013. At Propel’s Multi Club conference, Horizons’ Emma Read, flagged up Booker, Pod, Costa Coffee, Ed’s Easy Diner and Jamie’s Italian as sector companies with winning strategies. “Booker is good at seeing what the market is doing, such as its move from cash & carry to delivered,” she explained. Read highlighted Costa’s ‘segment and target’ strategy which has produced successful tweaks in format such as Costa Express and Ed’s, which has adapted for its market and recorded strong growth. Jamie’s “goes from strength to strength” with successful pop-up ventures into markets such as festivals and events, she noted. She praised Domino’s for its on line strategy. “It is phenomenal in digital marketing and it isn’t afraid to try new things,” she said.

Atul Kochhar denounces staff poaching by rival on Twitter: Restaurateur Atul Kochhar, who runs Benares, has used his Twitter feed, which has 13,079 followers, to denounce the poaching of his staff by a new restaurant Trishna opening nearby. The chef told Trishna: “Good luck for new opening but be creative with your HR rather than poaching @Benaresofficial staff.” He also wrote: “Trishna is opening a new restaurant in the vicinity. Good luck to them. But it will better if they lay off and stop poaching my staff.”

Brewdog creates social media beer: Scottish brewer and retailer Brewdog has created #MashTag, a beer whose contents were voted on using Facebook, Twitter, and the Brewdog blog. Fans voted on the style, malt, alcohol percentage, hops, special flavor, label design, and even the name of the beer. The resulting beer is 7.5% American Brown Ale with New Zealand hops aged with Hazelnuts and Oak chips. “We handed the keys to the brewery over to our fans,” Brewdog spokeswoman Sarah Warman told ABC News. “Every single element of that beer was decided by the public.”

CD Pub Co adds third site: CD Pub Co, the gastro-pub business run by the operators of The Stag at Offchurch and Moorings at Myton, has bought the freehold of The Lygon Arms in Feckenham near Redditch. The 80-seater pub, previously owned by Enterprise Inns, has been closed since the beginning of the year but is set to re-open in August as The Forest at Feckenham. Charles Harris, operations director of CD Pub Co, said: “We’ve been looking for the right venue to complement our other two pubs for over a year now and the opportunity to introduce our hallmark Anglo French cuisine to Feckenham and Worcestershire, was just too good to miss.”

Coffee concept Elephant Coffee doubles up: Award-winning coffee shop company Elephant Coffee, which was founded in Neston, Lancashire, has taken a second site. The company won gold at the Cafe Society Awards and owners Emma and Adam Mitchell will open a second branch of the coffee shop in Parkgate next March. They have recently completed their purchase of the building that formerly housed The Parkgate Coffee Shop on The Parade. An outbuilding currently on the site will be converted to use as The Elephant Espresso School. 

Brunning & Price adds West Midlands site: Brunning & Price, the gastro-pub concept owned by The Restaurant Group, has acquired The Inn at Shipley near Wolverhampton. The company will also open the Sparrowhawk in Merseyside at the end of the summer – its first opening of 2013 was the Bull’s near Wilmslow, which opened its doors in May.

Cheshire Cat Pub and Bars opens fifth site: Cheshire Cat Pubs and Bars, the north west operator led by veterans Tim Bird and Mary McGlaughlin, has opened its fifth site, the freehold Church Inn in Mobberley, Cheshire. It re-opened after an eight-week refurbishment and now offers ‘great food’ in a ‘country tavern’ environment. The site’s website states: “The pub has a main bar with intimate small dining rooms, there is a ‘boot room’ for muddy boots and a private dining room upstairs with our ‘chef’s library’ meeting room adjacent.”

Punch Taverns holds forum with licensees to drive cask ale: Punch Taverns has held a forum with licensees to discuss wine and cask ale initiatives to drive footfall. Glenn Allen, who has been running The Red Lion in Bakewell for nine months, said: “It was an ideal opportunity to talk directly to Punch staff as well as other publicans to see what they had to say. It was an extremely positive initiative and I got a lot out of it as there were so many different types of pubs to provide a different angle. I found the discussions around cask ale and Finest Cask particularly interesting and I look forward to seeing how my ideas and input will be addressed and taken forward.” Garry Fantom, who has run The Rutlands Arms in Holmesfield for almost four years, added: “I found the forum extremely useful and I got a lot out of it. It’s always good to share best practice with fellow licensees, especially in regards to cask ale, wine promotion and boosting footfall.” 

Luminar to invest £500,000 in re-branding Preston site: Nightclub company Luminar is to invest £500,000 on re-branding its Preston venue. Lava & Ignite in Church Street, Preston, closed on Saturday and will re-open to the public as Evoque on Saturday 10 August. Manager Zane Woods said: “Not only is our name changing but everything internally is changing too, from new dance floors to increased seating areas and raised VIP booths.” Already employing 50 people, Evoque will be recruiting 50 additional staff to deliver table service throughout two distinctly styled music rooms and VIP area. Meanwhile, Luminar has signed a new three-year supply deal with Matthew Clark. The agreement, worth £25 million per annum, covers the supply of all drinks and spirits to the 53-strong nightclub estate. Commenting on the new supply agreement, Luminar’s chief executive Peter Marks said: “Historically, Matthew Clark has delivered a great service. When The Luminar Group acquired the business 18 months ago, Matthew Clark was incredibly supportive and put together a one-year deal to ensure continuity of supply. The move to a three year deal is significant, as it allows us to work with the team to further develop our product range and drive efficiencies through our supply chain.”

Former Sarumdale directors take over two Enterprise pubs: Mike Lloyd and Rodney Hall, whose former business, Sarumdale, collapsed after alleged mis-selling of interest rate swaps, have secured their first two pubs, both Enterprise Inns sites, through a new company R&M Inns. The pubs are The Great Harry in Belvedere, Kent, and The Europa, East Molesey, Surrey, both subject to five-year agreements. Lloyd told Propel: “The Great Harry has been under temporary management for some time and in need of new momentum and investment. It’s in poor condition but has lots of potential to build from local community. The Europa is lovely site but needed some love and attention. It’s good location and should grow steadily.” The partners are close to securing a third site next Monday.

Developers buy Old Maldon and Hillingdon pubs for conversion to flats: An unnamed developer has bought The Manor pub in Old Malden, Surrey to convert into flats – it is understood he paid more than the asking price of £625,000. “It’s money well spent – a handsome, period property near Kingston-upon-Thames and in a mixed retail and residential area called Maldon Manor,” said James Grimes, of agent AG&G, who handled the sale. “The new owner has told us that he’s thinking about converting it into flats and possibly commercial use, subject to consents.” Meanwhile, another developer paid “significantly more” than the guide price of £950,000 to buy Tommy Flynns in Hillingdon – it has a total area of 28,850 square feet.

Squire Hotels makes second acquisition: Squire Hotels, which was formed earlier this year, has made its second acquisition – The Etrop Grange Hotel near Manchester Airport. Squire Hotels, which was launched by Manchester-based lawyer Chris Eddlestone, plans to fully refurbish the 64 bedroom hotel. Eddlestone, who is a partner at law firm Squire Sanders and is also the founder of the Annual Hotel Conference, said: “We are delighted to bring Etrop Grange in to the Square Hotels group. Etrop Grange is a first-rate hotel and wedding venue with an excellent reputation – under our ownership we will improve every aspect and take it to a whole new level.” In April, Squire Hotels bought The Preston Swallow, a 78-bedroom hotel in Samlesbury.

Lease on Mayfair’s Suze restaurant sells for more than £500,000: The lease on Suze restaurant in London’s Mayfair has been sold to three private investors for more than £500,000 – it will re-open as a French tapas operation. Suze closed in late June this year having been owned by Tom and Susan Glynn for the past 24 years. The lease on the 2,000 square foot site, which runs for 15 years from 2008, has been sold to David Bellaiche, Gabriel Cohen, and Jeremy Coste, in a deal brokered by Restaurant Property. Rent on the site is £62,500 per year.

JD Wetherspoon set to secure third pub in Gloucester: JD Wetherspoon is set to open its third site in the city of Gloucester, with an opening in Gloucester Docks on the cards. The independent Gloucester Brewery has lost out to Wetherspoon in a battle to turn the former Coots cafe, off Llanthony Road, into a venue. It means Gloucester will have three Wetherspoon pubs – it already has The Regal, at the former cinema in Kings Square and The Water Poet, in Eastgate Street. The deal with JD Wetherspoon will be sealed this week. Eddie Gershon, spokesman for JD Wetherspoon, said: “We are very keen to open here. We already have a good presence in the city and we are interested in this site too. We can’t yet say it’s a done deal for us, but we are getting very close.” He added more details about the plans for the pub would be revealed in the coming week. Jared Brown, owner of Gloucester Brewery, which makes premium ales at its Llanthony Warehouse micro brewery next door to Coots, said: “We are obviously disappointed that their plan is going ahead rather than ours.”

Arc Inspirations sets opening date for ninth site: Arc Inspirations, the Leeds-based operator of eight bars and restaurants headed by Martin Wolstencroft, will open its ninth site, Banyan Bar, in York’s on 12 July. Wolstencroft started his career at 20 working at The Skyrack bar in Headingley, Whitbread’s biggest pub, and became the company’s youngest manager aged 22, and rose through the ranks to area manager and marketing manager for the north east, managing 1,500 pubs, including York’s Lendal Cellars. He said: “I have a strong vision of what I’m looking for. Location is very important and I have a vision of where I think the market is at the moment.” By the end of the year, the business will have 400 members of staff, 50% of whom are part-time. The firm works hard to keep good staff. “We do two big incentives each year and take 20 team members skiing to Meribel every year, and in the summer we take 20 to Ibiza, and really give them a fantastic experience. York is such a strong market and very similar to Harrogate. We love the building and the area and it is a fantastic opportunity.”

Paramount restaurant sues Centrepoint landlord over redevelopment plan: The owner of the Paramount restaurant at the top of the Centre Point tower by Tottenham Court Road is suing its landlord, Mike Hussey’s Almcantar, over his approved plans to turn the office block into 82 luxury residential flats. Century Projects, the owner and manager of Paramount Restaurant and Bar, which occupies the top three floors of the tower on a 36 year lease, said it would sue the landlord “to recover its losses for the disruption to its business and to ensure that it is able to operate for the remaining term of the lease without further disruption or interruption.” The restaurant has 30 years remaining on its lease, and said it spent more than £5 million and four years planning and developing the venue. It said it is legally entitled to stay in the venue. The Pierre Condou-owned restaurant attracts over 200,000 customers a year. 

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