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Wed 18th Dec 2013 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Pubs and restaurants report 1.7% like-for-like sales growth in November: Britain’s pub, bar and restaurant groups saw stronger growth in November than in the previous two months. Showing no signs of a trading lull in the build-up to Christmas, collective like-for-like sales grew 1.7% in November compared with the same month last year, according to latest figures from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker. Total sales in November, including the impact of new site openings, were up 4.8% across the 27 companies contributing to the Tracker. Managed pub groups performed ahead of the market with a 2.4% like-for-like sales increase. “It was a better performance than in either October or September, when like-for-likes grew 1% and 0.4% respectively, with the market now showing sustained if slow growth,” said Peter Martin of CGA Peach, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker, the sector’s most comprehensive performance barometer, in partnership with Coffer Group, Baker Tilly and UBS. “Regionally, operators outside of London had a better month too, trading only just behind London, with like-for-likes up 1.6%, compared to 1.8% for the capital,” added Martin. “These are encouraging figures, especially as November 2012 had been a particularly strong month boosted by some school half term holidays falling in the month.” Overall, managed pub operators performed best with collective like-for-likes up 2.4%, with drink-led pubs in London producing the strongest results. “Drink-led managed pubs seem to be recovering, including outside of London. Part of that is down to more investment and better offerings, but also to groups disposing of poorer performers leaving a stronger core business,” added Martin. Restaurant groups had a tougher time, with like-for-likes flat last month. “While branded chains, busy opening new sites, are the main drivers of total sales growth, that doesn’t seem to be being converted into same-store growth,” he said. The longer-term trend for the managed pub and restaurant sector remains positive, with year-on-year like-for-like sales for the 12 months up to the end of November running at 1.4% up on the previous 12 months, with total sales growth running at 4.1% ahead. “This is almost identical to the position this time last year, showing the market remains remarkably stable,” observed Martin.

Industry News:

DHL – Christmas volumes up 5%: Christmas volumes are already up more than 5% on the previous year, according to the latest forecast from DHL Supply Chain. Distribution centres are processing millions of orders right through to the new year, some sending out over five million products each week. E-commerce orders continue to surge, with more than five million online orders placed during December. The supply chain firm reported increased volumes of drinks being delivered to JD Wetherspoon pubs across the UK.

US restaurant like-for-likes up 1.3% in November: The US restaurant industry saw like-for-like sales rise 1.3% in November, a slight slow-down on the previous month’s gain, as traffic softened across the industry, according to the latest NRN-MillerPulse survey. Despite an industry-wide “limping to the finish line” for the year, however, restaurant operators surveyed for the monthly report had high hopes that 2014 would bring a return to more normal, or pre-recession, sales trends, said Larry Miller, founder and chief executive of the MillerPulse report. “Operators are optimistic that 2014 will be a better year, a more normal year, with sales up 2.8% on average for the industry,” Miller said.

Pizza Hut Singapore debuts the double-decker pizza: Pizza Hut Singapore has launched a double decker pizza – one pizza stacked on top of another. The first pizza is a regular stuffed-crust pizza with chicken pepperoni and red and green bell peppers. The second layer is a thin, tortilla-like crust, tossed on top of the first, and topped with turkey ham, tomatoes, and zucchini slices.

Black Sheep Brewery founder issues ‘visit the pub this Christmas’ message: The founder of the Black Sheep Brewery in Masham, North Yorkshire, Paul Theakston has filmed a blog for the brewery’s website in which he urges people to visit the pub over Christmas. Theakston said: “The pub is the heart of many communities up and down the country. It is a proud tradition going back centuries. If every adult in the country visited a pub at least once this Christmas, it would be a huge support for your local. Pubs inject an average of £80,000 into their local economy each year. Almost a million UK jobs depend upon the beer and pub sector, accounting for £12bn in wages and more than £7.2bn in tax revenues.”

McDonald’s to sell coffee in US supermarkets to raise brand awareness: McDonald’s will start selling its McCafe coffee in grocery aisles next year in the United States to drive “greater awareness and sell more coffee in our restaurants,” according to the chain’s US chief brand and strategy officer, Kevin Newell. He said that more than 70% of coffee consumption in the US happens at home, and that the retail test will allow McDonald’s to tap into the demand that exists and “highlights how serious we are about elevating McCafe brand potential.” The company also plans to roll out more flavoured espresso drinks similar to the pumpkin spice latte it introduced in the autumn. It is likely that tea may be another McCafe priority, as several executives have flagged a growing opportunity in the category.

Beer sales could drop by a third in five years: Beer sales could drop by a third in five years, according to market research firm Mintel. The research house said 31% of beer drinkers had cut back in the last year compared to 13% who were consuming more. Beer sales fell to 4.1 billion litres last year and could drop as low as 2.7 billion in a “worst case scenario” by 2018. Mintel analyst Chris Wisson reported that sales of mainstream lager had fallen in the past year with consumers opting for “premium” brands such as Peroni and San Miguel. Beer drinkers had the widest choice of beer they have “ever had” thanks to the increase in the number of UK micro-brewers.

Company News:

Brothers launch Synge & Byrne coffee shop brand: Damien and Adrian Garvey, owners of O’Brien Sandwich Bars in Northern Ireland, have launched a new coffee shop brand, Synge & Byrne. The Garveys will open “coffee kitchen” units in Newtownabbey, Belfast and Londonderry. They plan to open cafes in three new locations across Ireland every year over the next five years. The first Synge & Byrne Coffee Kitchen is at the Abbey Centre in Newtownabbey. Damien Garvey said the Synge & Byrne concept had been inspired by the new “artisan” movement across Northern Ireland. He said: “We have done extensive research before launching this and we believe there is a strong demand both here and outside Northern Ireland for a food and drink offering that has its roots very much in traditional Ulster cuisine. There has been strong growth in recent years by the big coffee shop operators such as Costa Coffee and Caffe Nero, and also solid expansion by some very nice artisans, but we see our planned ‘artisan chain’ offering sitting in between these two sectors. No two Synge & Byrnes will be the same. While there will be common features, for example the counter and backdrop, we plan to inject some individualism into every location, depending on the specifics of the particular building. Our approach to design will be about maintaining the architectural integrity of the buildings and creating complementary ‘old and new’ talking points in each place we develop.”

London wine bar operator reports jump in profit: London wine bar operator Davy’s has reported a sharp rise in profit after weaker sites were closed. The company reported a drop in turnover to £11.79m in the year to 30 March 2013, down 6.5% from £12.6m the year before. But pre-tax profit rose to £684,500 from £133,500 the previous year. Davy’s said: “The performance of the company made progress, delivering improved profitability from core units and benefiting from the closure of the weaker ones last year. Turnover fell, reflecting the prior closures, but was also adversely affected by the Olympics, which led to a significant drop in customers. Two bars were subject to compulsory purchase orders as part of the redevelopment of London Bridge station. The directors believe that trading conditions for the coming year are better and that the company will build upon the performance improvements of the last year.”

Starbucks, Greggs and Subway boost Euro Garages: The roll-out of Starbucks and Subway has helped to boost revenues at Euro Garages, the Lancashire-based forecourt retailer. The company, run by brothers Zuber and Mohsin Issa, said turnover for the year to the end of July, increased to £439m, up 40% from £314m last year. Sales were boosted by strong organic growth across the core estate alongside the acquisition in February of 45 Esso service stations, which expanded Euro Garages’ presence across the north west and north east of England, Yorkshire and north Wales. Total non-fuel sales for the year were £73m, a rise of 36% from £54m in 2012, with drivers buying food and drink from brands such as Subway, Starbucks and Greggs as they filled up their tanks. Profit (Ebitda) for the year increased from £13m in 2012 to £18m, a rise of 38%. During the year, Euro Garages’ portfolio of forecourts increased to 120. The company rolled out 32 on-site Starbucks and 34 Subway outlets, with 45 of each brand expected to be operational by the end of 2013.

Damson restaurants owners open first pub in Media City: The team behind the two-strong Damson restaurant brand, which has sites in Heaton Moor in Stockport and Media City in Manchester, has opened Media City’s first independent neighbourhood pub, The Dockyard. The Media City community includes 2,500 BBC staff. The menu at the pub includes spit-roast free-range chicken, hand-made pies and hand-made burgers by Mark Stanley, the company’s full-time butcher. The site will be open for breakfast, serving fresh juices and artisan breads. Steve Piling and Simon Stanley opened the first Damson in Heaton Moor in 2009. They also operate the Red Lion in Stockport.

Coffee Republic opens franchised Odeon site: Coffee Republic has opened its first franchised site in an Odeon cinema, at Braehead in Glasgow. The company has also opened four new franchised sites in London, at Marble Arch, Bromley, Wood Green and Putney, in its most recent quarter. Another six franchised sites are currently contracted to open in London and the Home Counties in the next couple of months. Coffee Republic, which runs five directly managed sites in the UK, has just opened franchised sites in Islamabad and Lahore in Pakistan. Coffee Republic is already established in Kuwait, Romania, Cyprus, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Jordan. The Coffee Republic site within the Odeon offers a large selection of hot and cold drinks as well as baguettes, sandwiches and panini.

Gresham Inns sells Old Street site: Gresham Inns has sold the newly refurbished Royal Star, near Old Street, on the edge of the City of London, through agent Davis Coffer Lyons to Ibrahim Opuz and Mehmet Coskun, the pair behind the TCR Lounge Bar on Tottenham Court Road in central London, off an asking of £175,000. The sale is part of Gresham’s wider strategy to look to expand its Cork & Bottle wine bar concept in central London, the first of which is on Leicester Square. The Royal Star is located a quarter of a mile north of Old Street underground station. Chris Bickle, associate director at DCL said: “Old Street is considered to be one of the capital’s up-and-coming areas and more accessible than neighbouring Shoreditch, which is much more established. Pub and late night venues in the area are increasingly in demand and this is reflected by the extensive interest and good premium we achieved. Old Street is home to a number of other independently owned businesses, including Nightjar and Michael Belben’s Three Crowns.” Gresham Inns also owns the Pride of Paddington and recently acquired The Eagle on Ladbroke Grove, both in West London.

British KFC franchisee opens the world’s first KFC Select: Soul Restaurants, which operates 200 KFCs in Canada and more than 45 UK sites, has opened the world’s first KFC Select in Toronto, a new fast casual restaurant concept with an open kitchen that serves up premium chicken fillets and burgers, grilled chicken burritos, rice bowls, salads and “irresistible” desserts. Soul Restaurants was voted KFC UK franchisee of the year in 2010. The KFC Select menu also features Crispy Strips, hand-breaded premium chicken breasts with a choice of dip; warm soft flour tortilla burritos filled with grilled chicken, cilantro and rice; and the KFC Select Fresh Deluxe, a crispy chicken fillet burger topped with coriander mayo, mild cheddar and crisp lettuce.

Seafood wholesaler Wright Brothers open fourth restaurant: Wright Brothers, the oyster specialist and seafood supplier, has opened its fourth restaurant, Wright Brothers Spitalfields, its most ambitious to date, in Old Spitalfields Market in East London. The new restaurant is a “sea-to-plate” dining experience where diners are offered crab, lobster or oysters from large saltwater tanks set across two floors, containing more than 10,000 live shellfish. Wright Brothers Spitalfields serves a menu of fish and shellfish, including a daily fish board. The shellfish menu is prepared on a central 20-metre dining counter in front of diners and features extensive oyster varieties served naked or dressed, as well as whole brown crabs, Canadian or native lobster (depending on the season) and classic fruits de mer platters. Wright Brothers sources oysters direct from its own Duchy Oyster Farm, part of the private estate of the Prince of Wales on the Helford river in Cornwall, where it cultivates more than 15 million native and Pacific oysters. Wright Brothers’ other sites are Oyster & Porter House in Borough Market and Soho Oyster House, both in London, and the Ferryboat Inn in Cornwall.

Just Falafel launches breakfast menu: Just Falafel, the six-strong falafel restaurant group, has launched a falafel-based breakfast menu featuring the new “breakfast falafel”. The new dish is a falafel and potato hybrid similar in texture to a hash brown but with the added nutritional benefits of falafel, and created by Just Falafel’s culinary operations director, Gerard Murphy. According to the company, the breakfast falafel “introduces falafel to the British breakfast menu for the very first time and offers customers an alternative to traditional morning foods.” The new 100% vegetarian Just Falafel breakfast menu includes breakfast falafel muffin, a potato and falafel patty, seasoned with herbs, with a free range egg and served in a hot toasted wholemeal English muffin; breakfast falafel bites, hot falafel and potato bites served with a breakfast dip; breakfast wrap, a free-range egg omelette and courgette fritter, served in a soft whole wheat tortilla; and warm halloumi breakfast wrap, grilled halloumi cheese, fresh tomatoes and a sprinkle of za’atar, a traditional Middle Eastern spice mixture, wrapped in a soft whole wheat tortilla. Michael Biggins, Just Falafel’s chief executive, said: “We spotted a gap in the market for a tasty and nutritious vegetarian breakfast range beyond the limited offering currently available. We are confident we have created some truly innovative and delicious recipes. As well as tasting great, our breakfast falafel, made from potato, ground chickpeas and fava beans, is an excellent source of fibre and vegetarian protein, which provide slow-release carbohydrates, so will help to keep customers feeling fuller for longer.”

Hall & Woodhouse pubs win three tourism awards: The Hall & Woodhouse pub estate has come away with three awards at the inaugural Dorset Tourism Awards 2013. The Inn at Cranborne picked up gold in the Tourism Pub of The Year category, while the Lulworth Cove Inn, West Lulworth and the Old Granary, Wareham were awarded joint bronze in the same category. Anthony Woodhouse, managing director at Hall & Woodhouse, said: “We are thrilled to have won multiple awards at the Dorset Tourism Awards. We are constantly developing and investing in our houses and these awards are a fantastic testament to the ambition and dedication of our teams and business partners to make people’s day.”

Bobby Chinn to open first UK restaurant in January: Bobby Chinn will open his first UK restaurant, the 90-seat House of Ho, on Old Compton Street in London on 6 January. Chinn operates restaurants in Hanoi and Saigon. The London opening will feature a modern Vietnamese menu. A soft opening has begun and runs until 4 January, with the restaurant only open for dinner and offering a 50% discount on the food.

Giggling Squid to charge 1966 prices on drinks for a day: The seven-strong Giggling Squid Thai restaurant chain, headed by Andy and Pranee Laurillard, is to charge the same prices as those found on a 1966 drinks menu by builders during renovations at its Stratford site. Giggling Squid has been able to date the menu, which was found with a scrap of The Daily Mirror newspaper of 29 March 1966 – two days before the general election of that year. On Monday 20 January, Giggling Squid will offer dinners accompanying drinks at 1966 prices. Spirits were ‘half a crown’, that is two shillings and sixpence or 13 pence at today’s money. A glass of wine was three shillings (3/- or 15p). A bottle of lager was two shillings (10p). Liqueurs were three and six (18p). Mixers were a shilling (5p.) There was no mineral water on the menu.

Turtle Bay founder – there’s money and there’s money: Turtle Bay founder Ajith Jayawickrema has explained why he chose Piper Private Equity to invest in his business rather than other private equity firms that were offering more. In a column in The Times, he wrote: “When it came to the recent investment, we were approached by a number of private equity houses. As usual in this journey, I took part in the courting ritual. We had coffees and lunches to get to know each other. Luckily for Turtle Bay, all the firms wanted to invest in the business. We decided to go with Piper, the consumer brands specialist that had previously backed my Las Iguanas restaurant chain. The 100-day action plan reminded me why we decided to choose Piper, despite the fact others may have paid more. It is probably because I think the money is not really the point. During this journey it is vital to think about the quality of the money. What I mean here is, simple questions such as, do the investors really get your business? Do they have a tangible track record? Can you get on with them? Will they have a learning curve to go through? Do they fit with you culturally? If all the answers to all these questions is yes, then the money becomes less important after all.”

DHP’s Oslo in Hackney finally set for January opening: Oslo, a new food, drink and music “hub” in the old railway station at Hackney Central in Amhurst Road, East London, which was forced to postpone its opening on December 6 after the street was hit by subsidence, will now be starting up on Friday January 17. The new venue is being run by DHP Family, the live music promoter behind Rock City in Nottingham and Thekla in Bristol, which currently hosts more than 1,200 musical events a year. The 7,000 sq ft premises, built in 1870, will have an all-day restaurant and cafe with a 3am licence, and live music. The food menu will be based on locally sourced ingredients, with beers from London brewers Redemption, Five Point Brewing Company and Sambrook. Oslo’s general manager is Arman Wysocki, who previously worked at Shoreditch House and House of Wolves. DHP, which turned over £15m in 2012, up 66% from 2009, was granted a new 15-year lease on the site from Network Rail.

School caterer takes over Oxford restaurant: A school catering firm has taken over a restaurant in Summerstown, Oxford. Cucina Restaurants, which supplies the catering to schools from Kent to Northamptonshire, is refurbishing the former Florio’s restaurant in Banbury Road, which will reopen as The Oxford Kitchen between Christmas and the new year. Florios closed down in June after just a year in operation. The premises have now had a complete redesign and refit to create a two-level restaurant. It will also have a garden area and a “kitchen table” next to the kitchen pass, allowing diners to choose from a six-course taster menu while they see and engage with the chefs as they work. Steve Quinn, managing director of Cucina, said it would be his first high street restaurant. Quinn said: “This is not so much a new direction as a natural extension of what we have always done. We are essentially going back to our roots, providing food which puts the customer first, but doing it in a high street location. It is a fantastic location, with such a busy high street, with a strong local community that we want to tap into.” The newly appointed executive chef is John Footman, who has worked with Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons in Great Milton, near Thame. The restaurant manager, Tom Wood, used to be manager of the 13th century Cotswold Manor House Hotel in Moreton-in-Marsh.

KFC’s Christmas TV ad accused of mocking Christians: KFC’s special Christmas television advertisement, which called on people to forget their arguments and get together in a KFC restaurant, has drawn 25 complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority from people who claim it mocks Christmas hymns. The offending line, sung by the KFC choir as they stand in front of a Scrooge-like character’s house, speaks of “all our stupid songs”. KFC says the line was not meant to cause offence, and it was a reference to the Scrooge character’s perception of Christmas. The chain said: “This is a tongue-in-cheek advert which sends up the schmaltz of Christmas, and the brutal reality that the festive period can be a time of huge stress and a lack of goodwill to men. It looks at things from the perspective of a grumpy old man who is usually irritated by carol singers, but this year he sees the error of his ways. It was certainly not our intention to mock the Christian faith, and we are sorry if this offended anybody.” The advert, a spoof on Christmas music videos, has seen more than 500,000 plays on YouTube and hit more than 900,000 likes on Facebook since it launched. The ASA said it was assessing the objections to establish whether there were grounds for an investigation.

Enterprise Inns music venue in Blackpool re-opens: The Blue Room in Blackpool, a live music venue, has re-opened just months after it was threatened with extinction. The venue, opposite the Syndicate nightclub, shut its doors in July. On the re-opening, landlord Roger Binney said: “It was excellent. There were a couple of hundred people in there, if not more, right from when the doors opened until 2am. It was full of the old regulars as well as some new faces. Everything was really positive. I reckon next weekend will be even bigger.”

Casino plan for Preston: A Lancashire businessman wants to turn a former bar and restaurant in Preston into a casino. Edgar Wallace, owner of the former Fives bar building in Guild Hall Street, and the Tens cafe bar and restaurant and Perfect 10s nightclub in the town, is working with the National Casino Industry Forum to help push a motion currently going through the House of Commons to make casino licences portable, meaning that Preston would be able to use a permission for a casino currently granted to a town or city that has not been exercised. Wallace, who acquired the Fives building, built in 1878 as the Preston Conservative Club, in 2012, has put together a team which hopes that if the motion is passed, a major casino name will open early next year in the two upper levels. Graham Parr, agent for Mr Wallace, said: “At the moment you can’t open a casino in Preston because the city doesn’t have a licence. There are 40 places, including places like Lytham, that have one, but nobody is interested in opening a casino there. So this portability motion is aimed at transferring the licences from these other towns to places where there is interest. We’re hopeful that the portability motion will go through early in the new year, and in the meantime, we’re organising a case for planning consent, ready for when Preston gets the go-ahead. Preston needs a casino. It’s a different experience to pubs and clubs – it’s a night out.” The building ran as Fives and 49s bar and restaurant until it closed in 2006. The basement reopened as the Cocktail Factory in 2007, with the Vintage bar and restaurant opening upstairs, later joined by the Priory. These venues later closed and the building has been unoccupied since August 2011.

Douglas Jack – the Domino’s business model is intact: Numis Securities leisure analyst Douglas Jack has issued a buy note on Domino’s UK shares, with a price target of 710p, ahead of a trading update on 8 January. He said: “The Quarter One to Quarter Three forecast trend was slightly negative, with upside from strong UK like-for-like sales being outweighed by slower expansion and higher German losses. Despite this, we believe that: the model is intact; the shares are cheap relative to historic average and potential growth; but with the company in flux, much depends on the new chief executive and how that influences strategy. Recent weakness (18x 2014E P/E; 23x historic average) reflects the churn in senior management, slower expansion and higher German losses. However, we believe all of this could be rectified if the right new chief executive is appointed, in addition to which 2014E should benefit from Germany becoming a growth tailwind, very easy weather/sport comps and relatively benign food costs.”

Brothers to invest in former Punch pub on the market for two years: Robin and Steve Reid have snapped up the Kettledrum Inn, Red Lees Road, Cliviger, Burnley after it was on the market for more than two years. The brothers, who have spent most of their lives in the village, backed by investor Steve Crawford, are planning a “substantial” makeover for the venue in the new year. The three owners, who paid £150,000 to buy the pub from Punch Taverns, will start a re-fit in January with a view to a re-opening at the end of the month. Robin Reid said although investment in the pub trade was a risk, he was confident the Kettledrum could still be a success. He said: “We think there is still a business there to be had, based on good beer, good food and good service.”

Brindisa opens pop-up in Brixton: Brindisa, the London-based Spanish tapas chain, is opening a pop-up outlet this weekend in Brixton on the site of what will be its fourth outlet in the capital when it starts properly next year. The pop-up will be in the currently half-completed railway arch at 41-43 Atlantic Road, just around the corner from Brixton Market, and will sell ingredients including jamon Iberico de Bellota, chorizo, aged Manchego, tinned fish and other items. The final fit-out will include a bar selling Catalan-style snacks, in what will be called the Brindisa Food Rooms, while the food store alongside will also be selling take-away rotisserie chicken. The chain currently has four outlets: Tapas Brindisa in Soho and at London Bridge, Borough; Casa Brindisa, in South Kensington, and Tramontana Brindisa in Shoreditch, which opened in 2012.

Costa and Subway to open in new Wakefield station: Costa Coffee and Subway will open new stores when Wakefield’s new £8.1m railway station will open on Sunday, 22 December. The new station has been built about 300 yards north of the original buildings, with access now from Mulberry Way.

Dunkin’ Donuts promises UK drive-thrus: The American coffee shop chain Dunkin’ Donuts, which returned to the UK after more than a decade yesterday (Tuesday), opening its first store in Harrow, North London, intends opening at least 15 drive-thru doughnut stores in Britain in the next five years. Nigel Travis, the Essex-born chairman and chief executive of Dunkin’ Brands, confirmed that the company plans an initial 150 stores in the UK within five years, telling The Daily Telegraph he hoped that at least 10% would be drive-thrus: “We are going to start out in London and spread out from there. Within a minute of opening in Harrow we had letters posted on our website thanking us for coming back. People see doughnuts as an ‘affordable luxury’ and they are very familiar with the brand.” The Harrow branch, operated by franchisees Ram Javia and Neil Patel, sells hot and iced beverages, sandwiches, baked goods, all-day snacks and “grab and go” products including some tailored to the UK, such as sausage sandwiches, porridge and sausage rolls, for £1.19 each. The site is typical, the company says, of the cheaper locations that Dunkin’ Donuts wants to build its UK business around in its second attempt. The opening was celebrated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony by the Mayor of Harrow attended by hundreds of people, live entertainment and giveaways for customers. Its new shop in St Ann’s Road is the first of 50 planned across north and east London. Although the official opening was today, the Harrow shop opened its doors on Saturday, when it made £574 for charity, with the shop and the company each donating £1 to St Luke’s Hospice in Kenton, North London for every doughnut sold. Jim Johnson, UK managing director for Dunkin’ Donuts, said: “The grand opening was fantastic. It was full of fun – that’s what we’re all about.” The Harrow store is run by DDMG, a partnership formed by three experienced US Dunkin’ Donuts franchisees from the Baltimore/Philadelphia area and two local UK operators, which have signed an agreement to develop 25 Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants in North London between now and 2018. The Court Group, chaired by British businessman David Sheepshanks, founder of the company Suffolk Foods, has signed a franchise agreement with Dunkin’ Donuts to open 25 restaurants in East London over the next five years. In September the parent company in the United States said it was in “advanced discussions” with other potential franchise partners to develop 100 more Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants in the UK by 2018. The next two openings are in Chelsmford and Cambridge. Travis, who worked previously with Burger King and Papa John’s, said: “I’m not going to say we’re better or worse than any other business but we compete well around the world with Starbucks and McDonald’s, and one of the reasons we came to the UK was the success of coffee, which is much larger than tea now. One of the things we are famous for is speed of service and I do think we serve our customers faster than most of the competition.”

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