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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Tue 25th Mar 2014 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Asian, bakery and coffee cafe categories lead sale growth among US largest 500 restaurant firms: The 500 largest US restaurant chains registered a 3.5% annual sales increase in 2013, a significant decline from 4.9% the prior year. According to data released by insights firm Technomic in its annual reporting on the top US restaurant companies, US system-wide sales for the Top 500 chains grew to an estimated $264 billion in 2013, up more than $8.8 billion over 2012. “Although we have seen overall growth within the Top 500, the pace has slowed since last year,” said Ron Paul, President of Technomic. “Competition for share of stomach is getting more and more challenging. But brands that have found a way to differentiate themselves are gaining market share.” Among limited-service restaurants, the highest growth came from the Asian, bakery cafe and coffee cafe categories. Segment leaders were Panda Express (10.7% sales growth), Panera Bread (11.8%) and Starbucks (10.6%). McDonald’s, the largest US restaurant chain, saw minimal sales growth of 0.7% in 2013, to reach annual sales of $35.9 billion. Subway is the second largest restaurant chain in the US, followed by Starbucks, Wendy’s and Burger King. As a whole, limited-service restaurants saw a sales bump of 3.9%. Chicken chains, which grew 5.1%, represented another limited-service sub segment with above-average sales growth. Chick-fil-A grew 9.3% with 2013 sales of $5.1 billion and surpassed KFC as the top chicken chain. Full-service restaurants experienced a 2.4% sales increase in 2013, a slight decrease over the 2.9% seen in 2012. The full-service steak category continued to show healthy growth, with an increase of 6.2%. More than 67% of the Top 500 restaurant chains posted at least nominal sales increases. Only 156 of the Top 500 chains suffered sales declines in 2013 compared to 168 in 2012. Both winners and losers appeared in every segment and menu category. These widely mixed results demonstrate the overall competitiveness of the industry and the need for suppliers and operators to carefully identify and focus on the winners. International performance by the Top 500 restaurant chains continued to outperform domestic growth in 2013. International sales increases (4.4%) outpaced US sales growth (3.5%); international unit growth was up 9% versus 2.2% for US units.

Industry News:

Company plans to open PoundPubs: A company, Here for You Hospitality, is planning to open a number of PoundPubs, with the first set for Stockton. The PoundPub – which promises “more round for your pound” – will sell halves of beer at £1 and pints at £1.50. According to the Good Pub Guide, the average price of a pint in the north east last year was £3.05. The company plans to convert a mid-market pub called Georgia Browns, in Stockton town centre, into the first PoundPub. It is seeking a licensing variation that will allow the new pub to sell alcohol from 8am. Mike Wardell, a director at Here for Your Hospitality, insisted that the pub would take part in responsible drinking campaigns and would challenge anyone who looked under 25 for identity. He pointed out that supermarkets are able to sell their own value beers at 40p a can, something which is not monitored by councils. Wardell said the PoundPub is aimed at the kind of person who would have frequented Working Men’s Clubs in a previous generation and not the night-time market. “(We have) an eye-catching logo and, I suppose it’s a bit cheesy, but the phrase we’re going for is ‘get more round for your pound’. At a time when 12 pubs a week are closing across the country we have to think outside the box a bit.” The PoundPub is expected to open over the Easter period and will have traditional pub games like darts and billiards. Another PoundPub is due to open in the Manchester area. Alcohol campaigner Colin Shevells, director of Balance, said: “Drink is already too affordable, too available and too heavily promoted. We know that problems are caused by it being too cheap. The PoundPub is just part of a much bigger problem. We need to wake up to the problems cheap alcohol is causing both in the short and long term.”

Village raises £300,000 to save chef Keith Floyd’s favourite pub: Bristol chef Keith Floyd’s favourite pub has been saved from closure after it was bought out by its village community. The late TV chef was a regular visitor to the Grade II-listed Tally Ho Inn and once described it as the business he “always wanted to buy”. The historic pub was shuttered in 2011 to make way for new housing. However, the close-knit community of tiny Littlehempston in Devon – population 207 – were not going to give up their 14th century boozer without a fight. Nearly 100 people have bought shares in The Tally Ho, eventually raising the £300,000 needed to purchase and run it as a cooperative.
   

Company News:

Enterprise Inns offer pubs with ready-made retail content: Enterprise Inns has begun to offer pubs with ready-made retail content. The company sent out an HTML e-mail to the Propel database on Friday advertising three pubs for which it has identified retail trading formats. The e-mail stated: “The Cross Keys, Rotherham, The Crooked Spire, Chesterfield and The Stoops, Dronfield are just three of the pubs we have identified for major development. The Cross Keys and The Crooked Spire are both soon to become pub and pizza kitchens, and The Stoops is primed to offer high quality coffee, cask ale and British tapas. We’re looking for partners with experience in catering and retail to support these significant investment opportunities, which all include new commercial kitchens and comprehensive pub refits.”

Marston’s boss – duty cut given us the confidence to invest: Marston’s chief executive Ralph Findlay has argued that the consecutive Budget cuts to beer duty has given his business the confidence to invest with 3,000 new jobs to be created in the next two years. During a visit to its Wolverhampton brewery by Chancellor George Osborne, Findlay said: “Marston’s is creating 3,000 new jobs over the next two years in its programme to build new pub restaurants across the UK. Two consecutive Budgets have been positive for the pub and brewing industry, which gives the business the confidence to plan continued investment and provides clarity for forward planning.”
   
Whitbread plans £5m hotel in Lake District, wins two licences for £19m investment Edinburgh: Whitbread’s Premier Inn plans to open a 64-bedroom family hotel with an on-site restaurant at a former University of Cumbria property on in Ambleside, Cumbria, in the heart of the Lake District. It has bought a property called Hilltop, on The Struggle in Ambleside, subject to planning permission, and held preliminary talks with the Lake District National Park Authority ahead of tabling a full planning application. Premier Inn will unveil its plans this week at the Parish Centre in Ambleside. Company representatives have told locals the hotel’s “small on-site restaurant” will be “predominantly aimed at providing guests with breakfasts and light meals but would not compete with existing restaurants and pubs in Ambleside”. The hotel would create 30 full and part-time jobs. However, while Cumbria Tourism said the new jobs should be welcomed and that a national hotel chain would help lure more visitors, the Lakes Hospitality Association said national budget brands could harm the “character” of the area and that a price war would be unwelcome at the cheaper end of the market. Meanwhile, Whitbread won grants for two provisional licences, for a 131-bed Premier Inn and an adjacent 127 hub by Premier Inn with a total capitalised investment of over £19m, in Edinburgh yesterday. The new hotels are located within the city’s controversial Caltongate redevelopment opposite the City Council’s new offices. The Caltongate hotels are expected to open in late 2015. An application for a further Premier Inn development in Edinburgh city centre has recently been submitted and is likely to be heard by the Board at its April hearing. Whitbread was represented by solicitor John Gaunt in Edinburgh.
   
Luminar looks to roll-out Girls United scheme across estate after successful Ipswich trial: Nightclub company Luminar is looking to roll-out its Girls United scheme, aimed at keeping young and vulnerable customers safe during a night out, across its estate. Town centre nightclub Liquid & Envy, in New Cardinal Street, Ipswich has been hailed for setting up Girls United, thought to be the first of its kind in the UK. Emily Palmer, the club’s manager, said the initiative is designed to give female customers the tools they need to stay safe on a night out in Ipswich. The venue has installed free mobile phone charging points in permanently manned cloakrooms and approved taxi firm numbers are clearly displayed at reception. In addition, the Liquid & Envy team has been trained to look out for vulnerable young females, offer support and question anyone leaving the venue alone. Two fully qualified female door staff will now be on hand every Friday and Saturday night. Posters and flyers have also been spread across the nightclub, reminding female customers to stay safe. The club is also urging customers to download a ‘Find My Friends’ app, designed to help people track down missing friends.
   
McDonald’s hires Facebook executive as first European digital chief: McDonald’s has hired former Facebook client partner Lex Bradshaw-Zanger as its first European digital chief to accelerate the rollout of mobile and web-based services across the region. Bradshaw-Zanger is tasked with fast-tracking mobile payments and ordering tests alongside developing loyalty, ecommerce and customer relationship initiatives. He is based in Paris and reports to Pierre Woreczek, senior vice president and chief brand and strategy officer for McDonald’s Europe. It is understood he will initially work on launching a mobile app that offers personalised vouchers following a successful trial in the Netherlands last year. A spokeswoman for McDonald’s says Bradshaw-Zanger’s appointment is “part of an ongoing investment in [digital].” McDonald’s has been slow to embrace digital due to a lack of case studies proving it can drive significant sales increases. The majority of McDonald’s digital work to date has been focused in North America, Asia, France and Sweden. However, it is now applying those learnings in other markets.
   
Ask Italian launches Spring menu with a #RespectThePasta message: Ask Italian has launching a marketing campaign, under the banner of #RespectThePasta, to support the introduction of the group’s new Spring menu and underpin its culinary credentials by highlighting how much care goes into creating and preparing Ask Italian’s pasta dishes. Brand new dishes on the menu, which was created with input from retained expert Theo Randall, include ‘Pasta Fresca’ – a range of fresh egg pastas dressed with special ingredients, such as tagliatelle with luganica sausage and porchini, and tagliatelle with lobster and king prawns. The Spring campaign includes a survey into the pasta-eating habits of the British public, recipe placements and pasta cooking tips. Short films showing how Ask Italian staff respect the pasta can be seen online. In May, the British public will be encouraged to say ‘no’ to spaghetti, and try Ask Italian’s signature Fettuccine Bolognese – the way they eat Bolognese in Rome. Alongside this, Ask Italian will be launching new branded boxes of dried fettuccine pasta, which will retail at £2.50. Steve Holmes, managing director of Ask Italian, said: “We feel that in the UK, pasta has become undervalued and often over cooked, nothing like the amazing dishes we know from Italy. With the launch of our new Spring menu we’re excited to be introducing our new ‘Pasta Fresca’ range, which has been a huge success in trials, and supporting it with our #RespectThePasta message.”
   
Wetherspoon drops plan to name pub after Ernie Wise after polite no thank you from his family: JD Wetherspoon has dropped plans to name its new pub in Morley, Leeds after comedian Ernie Wise. The company had intended to call the pub The Ernest Wiseman – Ernie’s real name. Now, though, it has emerged that the idea has been given a polite thumbs-down by the late entertainer’s family. The new pub, on Queen Street, will instead be called The Picture House. Wetherspoon announced last month that it wanted to pay tribute to Ernie. A spokesman for Wetherspoon said: “We contacted the Wiseman family, who sent a nice letter back declining, which we appreciated.” Ernie made early stage appearances in Morley, where he is the subject of a statue. Wetherspoon confirmed plans in January to set up in the former Blockbuster and Arthritis UK stores.
   
New sector investor buys Punch Taverns freehold in London’s Colliers Wood: The Prince public house in Colliers Wood has been acquired by new sector investor PPR Estates, through agent Davis Coffer Lyons, from Punch Taverns. The property development and investment company bought the freehold off an asking price of £1m. The 7,773 sq ft pub includes an open plan bar and central server on the ground floor with customer toilets, kitchen and washroom as well as an additional bar and function room to the rear. Living accommodation is situated on the first floor including six bedrooms living room, kitchen and bathroom. There is also an outside terrace and patio area to the side and rear of the building and it also benefits from a 2.00 am licence on Friday and Saturday nights. Paul Tallentyre, director of pubs and bars at Davis Coffer Lyons, said: “The Prince’s prominent location and spacious layout – which includes considerable outdoor space which is unusual for Greater London – meant that it was extremely popular, with a wide range of buyers looking for change of use for redevelopment. PR Estates is an exciting new investor/developer in the pubs market and has considerable funding in place. They are extremely active in the market at the moment and we are continuing to work closely with them to find further sites.”
   
Marston’s and Frankie & Benny’s get Great Yarmouth green light: Marston’s and The Restaurant Group’s Frankie & Benny’s brand have been given the green light to move into Great Yarmouth, bringing nearly 100 new jobs and boosting a major gateway into the town. Marston’s and Frankie and Benny’s are set to build new outlets on the plot of disused and overgrown land off Jones (GC) Way, and in front of Tesco Extra. Outline permission was also given for a drive-through coffee shop/restaurant to be built on the site. Julia Howard, from Great Yarmouth Chamber of Commerce, hailed the developments as “very positive” for the town. “When you see the big chains move into the town it does reflect their confidence (in the town) and it normally means that others follow, and I think Yarmouth has been waiting a while to see some more,” she added.
   
Masterchef judge Gregg Wallace £300,000 out-of-pocket after restaurant closure: Gregg Wallace is reported to be almost £300,000 out of pocket after the parent company controlling the now-closed Wallace & Co restaurant in Putney went into voluntary liquidation. Companies House documents showed that Wallace Cafes Ltd owes £93,000 to creditors. A sale of stock, fittings and other assets is expected to raise around £65,000. Wallace & Co closed in January this year. His greengrocers business West Veg had £500,000 worth of debts when it went into administration in March 2013.
   
Gordon Ramsay refurbishes The Narrow gastro-pub: Restaurant consultant Adam Hyman has reported that Gordon Ramsay’s gastro-pub The Narrow in Limehouse has been refurbished. He said: “The restaurant and bar have been overhauled and a lounge area has been added to the conservatory. Ramsay refurbished his flagship restaurant in Chelsea last year.”
   
St Aubyn’s Estates set to unveil £2m upgrade at flagship Cornwall pub: Property owner St Aubyn’s Estates will unveil a £2m upgrade to its flagship Godolphin Arms pub in Marazion, Cornwall next week. The Godolphin Arms is ready to open its doors on Wednesday 2 April when it will unveil a transformed dining area and brand new menu. An open plan dining area over two floors complete with sofas and a log burner has been created. The key feature of the redesign is a two-storey glass extension, which will give customers a panoramic view of St Michael’s Mount and the bay. An outdoor beach terrace will also cater for al fresco dining. Lord St Levan, chairman of St Aubyn Estates, which owns The Godolphin Arms, said: “We are proud to be building on the success of The Godolphin Arms by seeking to maximise its wonderful location. I hope that this project will bring added economic activity and vibrancy to the town of Marazion, as well as creating a destination of choice for people looking to enjoy themselves in west Cornwall.”
   
Schultz donates $30m to US war veterans: The chief executive of coffee chain Starbucks, Howard Schultz, is donating $30 million to benefit the rehabilitation of US war veterans. Schultz’s contribution has been earmarked for research into brain trauma and PTSD suffered by thousands of returning soldiers. This follows Schultz promise last year to hire at least 10,000 veterans and military spouses over the next five years. He promised that the donated $30 million would be used to fund research and treatment for post-traumatic stress syndrome and traumatic brain injuries suffered by veterans of overseas conflict such as Afghanistan and Iraq. Schultz added that rehabilitation is the key to utilising traumatised veterans as they are ‘incredibly valuable to American business’.
   
Punch expands use of cloud computing applications: Punch Taverns has expanded its use of cloud-based business process management software from Appian Corporation to cover commercial leasing and dealing with the stream of processes needed to bring new lessees into the fold. Kevin Dalley, business process and IT director at Punch, said: “Appian Cloud allows us to focus on business innovation, not IT development and support. The platform has radically changed how we think about the relationship between enterprise data and business process. As a result, we are finding new and better ways to work that are having a measureable impact on our business performance and our partner experience.” Punch initially used Appian Cloud to speed up the complex processes underpinning the acquisition of new properties, which included everything from marketing assessments, property planning and contractor selection to the development of a financial case and operational plan, detailed project management and launch planning. The newer deployments of cloud computing applications have focused on the company’s relationships with its lessees. Punch is now using Appian Records data management software to centralise pub data, and is using Appian’s Tempo event stream interface to handle processes and prompt awareness and action, something that was previously done manually. All the data, related collaborations, and process execution is available through Appian’s mobile apps, something Punch says is essential, as 50% of its workforce is field-based.
   
Greene King beats attempt to close noisy Hungry Horse pub for two months: Greene King has beaten a move to close a noisy Hungry Horse pub for two months. Civic chiefs were presented with a police report that listed a spate of rowdy incidents at The Old Farmhouse in Ringwood Road, Totton, and called for the pub to be shut down for two months. But police officers attending the meeting said major improvements had taken place since the previous Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS) was sacked in December. They also confirmed that Greene King, had agreed to abide by a series of conditions aimed to prevent further trouble. The district’s council’s licensing sub-committee ruled that the pub should remain open.
   
Brasserie Blanc opens 20th site: Brasserie Blanc has opened its 20th site, occupying a central position in Old Beaconsfield. The venue has over 180 seats including 140 brasserie seats, up to 40 outside spaces and a 40-seater bar area.
   
Nando’s and PizzaExpress line up for Doncaster leisure park extension: Contractors have moved on to Doncaster Leisure Park to extend the town’s Vue cinema to 11 screens and also create two new restaurants, which have been let to PizzaExpress and Nando’s. Those behind the project claim it will reinvigorate the leisure park near to The Dome and create one of the region’s premier leisure venues. Geoff Moore, group property director for Vue, said: “Vue will deliver to the people of Doncaster the best cinema in the region in terms of technology, comfort and offer.” The development will see a 6,000 sq ft extension to Vue to create an additional four screens to the existing seven. A further 6,000 sq ft of restaurant space will be created.
   
Camerons offers customers choice over 1p beer duty cut: North east brewer and retailer Camerons Brewery is giving customers of its 12 managed pubs the option to receive their 1p back after last week’s beer duty cut – or donate it to the WaterAid charity. For every 1p donated Camerons will match this with a penny of their own. Camerons pub estates and operations director Joe Smith said: “Following the cut in beer duty, as announced by the Chancellor on Wednesday, it is only right that this saving was passed on to our customers. It is difficult to change price points in our pubs for the reduction of 1p so we came up with the solution of offering customers the opportunity to take their 1p saving or donate it to the WaterAid charity which Camerons supports. In addition we are matching every penny we receive from our customers with a penny of our own so we will raise some much needed funds.”
   
Caffé Nero and Pret A Manger sign up to City of London clean air initiative: Caffé Nero and Pret A Manger are among 18 firms in the City of London that have pledged to take action to improve air quality in the capital’s Square Mile, in an effort to help the UK meet its legal pollution limits. Wendy Mead, deputy chair of the City’s port health and environmental services committee, said: “It’s important to do all we can to make London’s air healthier to breathe. The commitments that these businesses have made are a crucial first step on the path to improved air quality in the Square Mile. If we are to secure the improvements that are needed in London, we all need to play our part.” Measures include plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve energy efficiency in buildings and encouraging walking or cycling among workers.
   
Pesto to open in Star Pubs & Bars site in Sutton Coldfield – with parking compromise: Pesto, the Italian chain led by Neil Gatt, is to open in Sutton Coldfield next Monday (31 March), occupying the former Reddicap Tavern on Hollyfield Road South after a £550,000 joint investment with landlord Star Pubs & Bars. When it opens on 31 March, the property will operate with a new system for the private customer-only car park, which will be run by management company Parking Eye. A spokesperson for Pesto said: “After getting local feedback we have realised that parking in the area is a significant challenge due to limited spaces and a high volume of traffic and that local people have become accustomed to using the pub car park when they visit the shops opposite. Clearly our expectation is that our new bar and restaurant will attract significantly more customers with many of these travelling by car. This extra demand means that we will need our car park to be fully available for Pesto customers, particularly at peak times. However, there will be times when the car park is not fully occupied so, in the interests of the local community, we’re also making it available to those who just want to pop to the shops or pick up their children from school. We wanted to find the fairest and most practical solution for all, so with the Parking Eye system, members of the public not visiting the restaurant will also be able to park in our car park free of charge for a maximum of 20 minutes.”
   
Steakhouse brand CAU to join Cote on Kingston’s Riverside Walk: Steakhouse brand CAU will be opening next to Cote on Kingston’s Riverside Walk next month on 21 April. The opening follows launches in Tunbridge Wells in February and Blackheath in November 2013 and is CAU’s fifth opening. Graham Hall, operations director of CAU, said: “With the roll out of CAU now gathering pace I am really pleased that it is being so warmly received by customers in each of the areas we have opened so far. They’ll be further openings this year.” CAU Kingston will seat 150 covers across the restaurant and outside terrace.
   
Stonegate Pub Company evolves offer at former Bramwell pub with £300,000 investment: Stonegate Pub Company is evolving the offer at a Bramwell Pub Company site acquired out of administration with a £300,000 investment. Sheffield city centre pub, The Bessemer, is known for its Motown and soul party nights. “The pub is being totally re-designed with new décor and furniture throughout, as well as a bigger dance floor to accommodate party nights,” said general manager Andrew Baker. Meanwhile, The Slug & Lettuce in Albert Square, Manchester, closed yesterday (Monday, 24 March) and will re-open on Friday, 4 April after an investment of £230,000, which will see the creation of four new jobs. The investment will also see the introduction of Costa Coffee, as well as new décor, furniture, toilets and back-bar.
   
Proper Job Pub Company puts “quality freehold” on market: Proper Job Pub Company has placed a “quality freehold”, The Throckmorton Arms, Coughton, Warwickshire on the market with agent Fleurets. Paul Newby, Fleurets Birmingham Office’s director, said: “Quality freeholds such as this have been a rarity over the last few years and there is much to offer here to a new owner at a freehold asking price of £725,000 plus VAT if applicable.” The large site covers more than four acres, offers considerable potential for developing trade both internally and externally, subject to the required consents. Situated on the main A435 between Alcester and Studley, The Throckmorton Arms comprises a freehold pub, an 80-cover restaurant, ten en-suite letting bedrooms and separate cottage and living quarters.
   
Domino’s Poland – “we’ve made significant progress in proving model”: Domino’s Poland has reported significant progress in Poland with double digit sales growth continuing and an increasing number of stores hitting monthly break-even. The company has 16 corporate stores and one sub-franchised store operating in Warsaw and two corporate stores operating in Krakow. Like-for-like Store Ebitda has improved by 52% and like-for-like Order Count is up 39%. There’s also been a significant increase in brand awareness with over 50,000 Facebook fans. Chief executive Peter Shaw said: “2013 has been a year of substantial progress for the company as we continue to prove our business model in Poland. We have grown our estate, announced our first sub-franchisee and opened our first stores outside of Warsaw. As sales volumes have grown we have also focussed on growing gross profit margin through improved food costs and we have devised a new store format, S2, that delivers significant cost reductions both in fit-out and rent. Our immediate focus remains on building brand awareness, driving sales, reducing costs and proving the business model. Our roll-out strategy for 2014 will be adjusted accordingly. We will shortly open two more stores in Warsaw and Krakow and will take the decision at the mid-year point on further openings, based on store performance. The board will resume a more aggressive store roll-out once the new S2 store format is proven.” Nick Batram, leisure analyst at Peel Hunt, said: “Results came in slightly ahead of our expectations with the key KPIs going in the right direction. However, it is fair to say that trading has been mixed and the pace of momentum is slightly behind expectation. Therefore, the decision to re-evaluate the pace of roll-out at the mid-year point is a sensible one. In the long-term, we continue to believe that Poland has all the right ingredients for a successful Domino’s Pizza business and hence retain our ‘Buy’ recommendation.”
   
Shaftesbury extends West End property reach: Key West End bar and restaurant landlord Shaftesbury has acquired Jaeger House, 57 Broadwick Street, for £30.75 million. Jaeger House is on the eastern boundary of the company’s ownership of 4.1 acres in Carnaby and close to its growing holdings in Soho, which now extend to 1.1 acres – these holdings have a combined book value in excess of £860 million. Broadwick Street is an increasingly important east-west pedestrian route through Soho, linking Carnaby and Berwick Streets. The property, built in 1970, currently comprises 24,900 sq ft of office and retail accommodation on lower floors, together with 37 flats sold on long leases above the commercial space. Commercial tenancies, which expire in June 2015, currently produce rental income of £0.9 million per annum. Shafetesbury said the building offers a number of interesting options including the potential, subject to planning consent, to increase and reconfigure space and introduce new planning uses. Chief executive Brian Bickell said: “Jaeger House is a valuable addition to our substantial holdings in Carnaby and Soho, which now have a combined book value in excess of £860 million. Broadwick Street is a few minutes from the Dean Street entrance to the new Tottenham Court Road Crossrail hub. Our long-term strategy for the building will reflect the growing popularity and importance of this location for businesses, visitors and residents”.
   
CAMRA boss quits to lead brewers group: The Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) has named Mike Benner, currently chief executive at the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) as its new managing director. Benner’s appointment follows a strategic review of SIBA that will see it combine the management of the trade association and the commercial arm to create a unified organisation. Under the new structure, approved by members at its AGM earlier this month, Benner will lead a SIBA Executive to run the organisation with the Board of Trustees continuing to provide oversight, direction and ultimate control of SIBA. The 24 trustees are drawn from the eight SIBA regions. SIBA chairman Guy Sheppard said: “I’m delighted that Mike is joining us to lead our expanded organisation. His political astuteness, proven campaigning ability and passion for great British beer make him uniquely well-placed to take SIBA forward. Our trade association and commercial arms have a shared goal of helping our members to thrive within a favourable political, social and trading environment for British beer. Aligning our activities into one unified structure puts us in a stronger position to realise this ambition.” Sheppard added: “As a long-standing trustee of SIBA, I am proud of the organisation’s growth from small beginnings 30 years ago. The position we now occupy, as a respected trade body with considerable political clout, is thanks in large part to our chief executive Julian Grocock, who has raised SIBA’s profile immeasurably over his last seven years at the helm.” Grocock, who chose not to apply for the new managing director role, continues as chief executive until Benner’s start on 16 June. Nick Stafford, SIBA’s commercial director, will continue his valuable work with the organisation under Benner’s direction. Sheppard said: “Without Nick, SIBA’s commercial venture would not be the huge success it is today. Nick has worked tirelessly to help SIBA brewers find a market for their beers, most notably creating the Direct Delivery System (DDS) which over the past decade has placed local beers in thousands of pubs that would otherwise have been closed to them.” Benner has been chief executive at CAMRA for ten years during which time the organisation’s membership has doubled and it has been placed on a financially stable platform. He has been at the forefront of many campaigning successes including the scrapping of the hated beer duty escalator and planning reforms to benefit pubs. Benner said: “I’m very proud of CAMRA’s achievements and it’s been an honour to be part of such a great organisation. I leave in the knowledge that CAMRA is fit for purpose to continue its success. I am very excited to join SIBA at a time when there is such enormous opportunity for independent brewers and I look forward to working towards its vision to build the future of British beer.”

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