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Morning Briefing Strap Line
Tue 1st Apr 2014 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Fuller’s to deliver beer to Heathrow flagship pub by pipeline: London brewer and retailer Fuller, Smith & Turner has unveiled the world’s first beer pipeline delivering beer directly to a new pub. Starting at Fuller’s brewery in Chiswick, The Griffin Pipeline will stretch to its new Heathrow airside pub – London’s Pride at Heathrow’s Terminal 2: The Queen’s Terminal. Passing through 8.3 miles of pipes, under the M4, London Pride will be the first ale, indeed the first beverage, to be transported by pipeline directly to a new pub. Tests have been conducted with positive results, the brewery reports. Additionally, The Mawson Arms on the corner of the brewery site, is now being served using a short-range pipe network. Ian Bray, managing director of Fuller’s Beer Company, said: “The Griffin Pipeline is a huge leap forward in our distribution capabilities. Moreover, this will play a vital role in our green initiatives as it will drastically reduce our West London carbon footprint. You might have noticed the road works on the M4 recently – we would like to apologise for any disruptions this venture has caused to motorists in the area. But we are proud to be at the forefront of green thinking with this pipeline and are excited about the possibilities of the technology for the future.” Ben Crowley, head of food and beverage at Heathrow, said: “It has been an honour working on this project and we are excited to be the first location to be served directly by The Griffin Pipeline. We selected Fuller’s for Terminal 2 for its innovative spirit and the company’s strong British heritage – and we are eagerly anticipating the opening of London Pride on 4 June.”
   

Industry News:

Two out of five adults never go to the pub: Two out of five adults never visit a pub and regular drinkers are going to their local less often, according to a new survey of 1,000 consumers. The Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) said it was concerned to find that over a third of pub-goers had cut back on drinking in a pub in the past year. The research also showed that four out of five regulars had never received any communication from their local. Camra chairman Colin Valentine told The Daily Telegraph: “Although many pubs excel in communication, it is clear that a lot of pubs need to engage more with their local community if they want to be successful. In 2009, 27% of adults never visited pubs and in just five years the figure has increased to 38%. Many of these people (40%) state the do not use pubs because they no longer drink or have reduced the amount of alcohol they drink.”
   
McDonald’s warns of Europe’s ‘stunted workforce’: McDonald’s has warned that Europe faces a future of ‘stunted growth’ unless employers do more to bring marginalised groups such as young people and older workers into the labour force. David Fairhurst, chief people officer at McDonald’s Europe, said the company, which employs 425,000 people in 38 European markets, was already starting to feel the effects of what he called the “workforce cliff”. “The workforce is shrinking at both ends of the spectrum,” he told The Financial Times. “There aren’t enough young people coming into the labour market and too many older people are leaving it.” Fairhurst said the shortage of workers would soon have an impact on economic growth, despite the EU’s current unemployment rate of 10.8% of the workforce and a youth jobless rate above 23%. After 2021, the European workforce is set to shrink by about 0.5% a year for the foreseeable future. Fairhurst said the “workforce cliff” would arrive even earlier in some countries, such as 2015 in the Netherlands and 2016 in Germany, whereas in the UK workforce growth would not turn negative until 2023. But he added: “If employers can enable the participation of more of the working-age population, the edge of the workforce cliff can be pushed back by as much as a decade.”
   
Adam Hyman – international investment may be pushing British talent out of the West End: Restaurant consultant Adam Hyman has questioned whether international investment in the West End is displacing UK operators. In his weekly bulletin, he wrote: “UK International investment into London’s restaurant market is at an all-time high, with Russian, Turkish and Chinese money surging into the city. This is creating new and exciting restaurants, such as Cafe Pushkin and Bocconinco, both opening in Mayfair later this year. However, I wonder whether it also means that independent British talent is being priced out. Some homegrown restaurateurs are launching east, beyond Zone 1, due to the high costs of West End leases. This in turn, though, means that other parts of London are seeing much-needed neighbourhood restaurants, enriching their communities.”
   
More than 300 restaurants launched through crowd-funding website: More than 300 new restaurants across the US have been funded with the help of crowd-funding website Kickstarter, according to a map released by the site last week. “I really think of them as being the perfect project because they are, obviously, so community-based, largely by physical location, but not always,” Kickstarter chief executive Yancey Strickler told Eater. “They’re great ways for communities to get together and to really have a closer relationship with a place that can be a pretty central hub to that neighborhood or town.”
   
ALMR welcomes relaxation of World Cup trading hours: The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) has welcomed the government’s decision to relax hours until 1am for four England games during the FIFA World Cup. ALMR strategic affairs director Kate Nicholls said: “This is a great result for the industry which will ensure that football fans can enjoy the excitement of the World Cup in the enjoyable atmosphere of the pub. The relaxation will alleviate the need for thousands of pubs and bars to apply for costly and time-consuming Temporary Event Notices, saving the industry and local authorities around £2,500,000 per England game and will ensure a much welcome boost in trade. The full, four-hour relaxation will also ensure that fans will be able to disperse in a safe and orderly fashion at full time. The pub remains one of the safest and friendly places to enjoy high profile sport, and we are pleased to see the government acknowledging this.”
   
Pubs and restaurants in line for £11m Wales business rates help: A £15m package to cut business rates for retailers, pubs and restaurants has been announced by the Welsh government. Minister Edwina Hart announced a £15m funding pot that includes an £11.5m funding package to help cut rates bills for retailers and food and drink premises. The Wales Retail Relief Scheme will provide a £1,000 discount on the business rates bill to all qualifying retail premises with a rateable value of less than £50,000.
   
CBRE – managed pubs enjoy full year of like-for-like sales growth: Property agent CBRE has noted a full year of like-for-like sales growth in the managed pub sector and hailed the arrival of new finance sources in the pub market. In its Pubs Market Quarter One overview, it stated: “Managed pubs and restaurants in the UK have registered a full twelve months of positive like-for-like sales (as measured by Coffer Peach) as the poor weather in 2012 and early 2013 unwound and consumers began to feel a little more confident. All of the major managed pub companies in recent months have reported strong performance with JD Wetherspoon and Spirit most recently recording recent like-for-like sales growth of 6.7% and 6.1% respectively. Clearly the good summer last year needs to be repeated for like-for-like sales to continue to make progress, but the capital investments made by many companies, and underlying growth in the market of around 2% (CBRE estimate), seems to be having a beneficial effect. The reduction in the pub population has been achieved primarily through sales of tenanted pubs. Punch Taverns and Enterprise Inns reported the sale of 861 pubs in their financial year to 2013 alone. The continual reduction in the tail has resulted in an improvement of trading performance as operators focus on driving returns from their core sites. In their need to seek high yielding investments in a competitive market we are seeing new finance sources entering the pub market. Cerberus’s acquisition of Admiral paved the way in early 2013 and in February 2014 Trust Inns announced a new financing package of £130 million with Macquarie Bank. This is an exciting development in a sector which has borne the brunt of the impact of declining personal income and cheap supermarket alcohol.” 
   
New York Eataly owners fined $500,000 and ordered to close wine store for six months: The co-owners of Eataly in New York, Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich, will close the wine store inside their Italian food emporium Eataly for a six-month duration and pay a $500,000 fine to the state. Batali and Bastianich reached the settlement with the New York State Liquor Authority after the agency accused the duo of skirting a law prohibiting liquor-license holders from also being producers of wine, locally or internationally. Bastianich and his mother, Lidia Bastianich own a winery in Friuli, Italy. The ruling does not affect any of the restaurants at Eataly.
   

Company News:

Caffe Nero is to invest 20 million euros opening as many as 40 sites in Ireland: Caffe Nero is planning to invest €20 million in Ireland over the next five years to open 40 stores and create up to 350 new jobs. Founder Gerry Ford said that this was a show of “faith” in the Irish economic story. “We’ve been looking at Ireland for several years but we’re only really now beginning to feel comfortable with our international expansion,” he told a local newspaper. “We’ll open about eight to ten stores a year in Ireland.” The company will open a cafe in Boston next month, its first site in the US, bringing to seven the number of countries where it has operations. “We won’t have a high price point. We’ll have free newspapers, free water, free Wi-Fi and music in store,” he added. The company is scouting locations in suburban Dublin and Ford said it would, over time, consider opening in airports and other main transport hubs, and partnering with retailers. It also plans to open cafes outside the capital. Caffe Nero’s first Irish outlet opened on Merrion Row in Dublin on 13 March. A second will open this summer, also in Dublin. Ford expects the cafes to trade profitably within three to six months of opening but it is likely to take about three years for the group’s overall operation in Ireland to enter the black. He said it would also seek to sell its own coffee beans for home consumption through supermarkets and other outlets here within 18 months.
   
Draft House reports ‘phenomenal’ March: Draft House, the five-strong London operator led by Charlie McVeigh and backed by Luke Johnson, has reported a ‘phenomenal’ March. Like-for-like sales rose by 19% and were 2% higher than were achieved in December, which was also a five week period. McVeigh told Propel: “We have two sites in the pipeline for the next six months including one to be announced imminently.”
   
Beds and Bars celebrate 50th birthday this month: Beds and Bars, the pan-European hostel provider led by Keith Knowles, is celebrating its 50th anniversary on Tuesday 15 April. Meanwhile, the company has pushed back the opening of its new sports bar, The Dug Out, until Tuesday 8 April. It occupies the basement of its existing site in London’s Borough High Street. A spokesman said: “We’ll be creating The Dug Out sports bar, separate to but complimenting the existing and on-site St Christopher’s Inns backpacker hostel and Belushi’s bar.”
   
Former banker takes second freehold Chestnut Inns site: Former banker Philip Turner has secured the second freehold site for his Chestnut Inns vehicle. Turner has acquired the freehold on Enterprise Inns’ Rupert Brooke pub in Grantchester through agent Everard Cole – offers were invited in excess of £725,000. The business has struggled recently after Greene King refurbished its Red Lion site in the village last year. Turner will refurbish the site and it will trade in a similar style to his first pub, The Packhorse Inn in Moulton. Turner, who worked for ARM Capital and RBS Financial Markets, raised £700,000 in April this year through an Enterprise Investment Scheme. He bought the freehold on his village local in Moulton, formerly a Greene King pub. Turner said at the time: “My vision was to create a great local pub, but also to develop the blueprint for a style of hostelry, which defies pigeon-holing into the classification of pub, hotel or restaurant, to achieve a blended definition of all three at their very best.”
   
Marston’s sets July opening date for new-build Sheffield Milestone Carvery, gets Welwyn go-ahead: Marston’s will create 60 jobs when it opens a new-build Milestone Carvery just off the Sheffield Parkway in July. The Winter Green will be just inside the Rotherham district border on Mitchell Way, Waverley. The development is due to be completed towards the end of July. Meanwhile, Marston’s is set to open a new pub and restaurant on the outskirts of Welwyn Garden City town centre after planners gave it a thumbs up. Last week, councillors unanimously backed the bid for a venue on the corner of Bessemer Road and Bridge Road East.
   
Bravo Inns to open flagship site this week: Bravo Inns, the 34-strong pub company led by Ken Buckley and backed by Albion Ventures, is to open a flagship site in Warrington this week after a £250,000 refurbishment. Bravo Inns has refurbished The Warners Arms and created a pre-night club venue called the iBar, re-opening this Thursday (3 April). Ken Buckley, managing director of Bravo Inns, told the local newspaper: “It’s been a long haul from acquisition to opening the doors but we are very pleased that the finishing line is in sight. The Warners will be a ‘sports orientated’ pub featuring darts, pool and dominos and the iBar will be a music-led venue for parties.”
   
Soho House gets planning consent to convert Midlands Bank Building: Soho House and New York-based hotel developer the Sydell Group has won planning consent to convert The Midland Bank Building in the City of London. The building will become a hotel featuring 255 rooms, as well as restaurants, bars, a spa and gym facilities, and a swimming pool. The banking hall on the ground floor will be remodelled as the hotel’s reception area, while retaining its period features. Its huge vault will become a below-ground bar. Further bars will be created in the building’s seventh-floor domes, and on a rooftop terrace, which will have views across the City towards the Bank of England opposite. Soho House has a members-only policy with its clubs, but the hotel will be open to all.
   
Mark Hix to open second site: Chef Mark Hix is to open a second Hixter restaurant at Great Guildford Street on Bankside, opening in summer. The first Hixter opened in Devonshire Square near Liverpool Street station in December last year. The new site is close to the Tate Modern gallery and Borough Market, and will be located in what was a Victorian tin box printing factory. The 7,000 square foot venue will be divided into two dining rooms, with a Mark’s Bar in the basement.
   
Stonegate launches new menu at Slug & Lettuce: Stonegate Pub Company is launching a new menu at Slug & Lettuce tomorrow (2 April). New items include the ultimate S&L Burger, spicy pork pad Thai and beef Madras. Sharing platters will see the addition of sliders, a range of mini burgers, southern-fried chicken, pulled pork in a sticky tabasco sauce and beef topped with smoked mozzarella cheese and served with chips and dips. Pulled pork has also been introduced in new dishes across the menu, including sharing nachos with spicy sticky pulled pork, the pulled pork sandwich served on artisan bread with melted smoked mozzarella cheese and crunchy chilli coleslaw and Tostada flatbreads now have the new option of pulled pork in Spicy tabasco sauce with Jalapeno, melted smoked mozzarella and tomato salsa. Two new dishes have been added to the ‘under 500-calorie’ menu – the spicy pork pad Thai (498 Cal) and grilled asparagus and king prawn salad (350 Cal). “The new Slug & Lettuce menu offers something for everyone from brunch options, sharing dishes, sandwiches and wraps to classic main course choices, salads, curries, burger and pasta dishes,” said Nicola Stuart, senior brand development manager for the Slug & Lettuce. On Sundays the ‘Kids For A Quid’ promotion means that for every adult dining at full price a child can eat for £1. Guests can also receive 50% off their food bill on ‘Happy Mondays’ and ‘Tikka Tuesdays’ offers 2 for 1 curries.
   
Fat Duck to close for six months while team work in Australia: Chef Heston Blumenthal is to close his three-Michelin-starred restaurant The Fat Duck, in Bray, to allow his team to work a six month stint in Australia. It will close its doors in December and re-open at The Crown Melbourne Resort, Australia, for six months before returning to the UK at its original but up-dated site. Blumenthal and group executive head chef Ashley Palmer-Watts will stay behind to open Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, taking over the site at The Crown Towers hotel in Southbank, Melbourne, used for the pop-up Fat Duck. Blumenthal said: “This is an incredible opportunity and I am thrilled that it has worked out the way it has.”
   
Pret A Manger opens tenth Paris site two years after entering the market: Pret A Manger is opening its tenth store in Paris this week, two years after entering the market. The tenth site is in the Madeleine district and the company plan to add three to five more by the end of the year.
   
Marston’s re-opens Derby Pitcher & Piano after refurbishment: Marston’s has re-opened its Derby Pitcher & Piano, the latest in the estate to undergo a refurbishment. Designed by BGW Concorde, the 108-cover bar has been stripped-back to achieve an industrial feel throughout, ‘softened with pops of decorative colour’. The refurbishment has also made an impact at the bar with a new real ale display. Colin Sadler, managing director of Pitcher & Piano, said: “The focus to invest in our premium bar brand, Pitcher & Piano, continues in Derby. We are delighted with the results of this refurbishment and feel that it has created a relaxed and welcoming bar and restaurant for any time of the day. We are looking forward to further developments across the UK in the future”. 
   
Former River Café chef to open crowd-funded restaurant in Dalston: Former River Café chef Stevie Parle, who also worked at Moro and Spotted Pig, is to open the crowd-funded Italian restaurant and bar Rotorino on Dalston’s Kingsland Road next month. The new venue will serve dishes such as grilled whole turbot, homemade pasta and ice cream-filled amalfi lemons. Parle said he came up with the idea two summers ago when he was travelling for a TV show but now was the “right time” to open in the area. He told the London Evening Standard: “I was just imagining this simple Italian restaurant that you can eat in every day. Going back to my River Café roots in a way. It feels like what the area needs.”
   
AG&G sells Grape & Grain freehold in Crystal Palace for far in excess of guide price: The freehold interest in the award winning Grape & Grain pub in Crystal Palace has been sold by agent AG&G for far in excess of the guide price. The pub overlooks the Grade II listed Crystal Palace, which is undergoing a long-term upgrade to return the 73-hectare park to its original Victorian design. A Chinese company, ZhongRong Group, is planning to reconstruct the Crystal Palace itself and pledges to “also fund the restoration of the wider park in line with the approved masterplan to create a modern 21st century park of national importance”. AG&G director Anthony Alder said: “The knock-on effects for The Grape & Grain from the extensive renewal on their doorstep have proved to be huge – the sale price achieved was far in excess of the estimate. The interest was phenomenal and our clients are delighted. The original Crystal Palace pulled in visitors and investors from all over the world and the new one is having the same effect. Crystal Palace is very much on the up – in more ways than one. European Bars currently run the pub. It is free of tie and they have introduced several real ales and developed an excellent reputation, winning several awards and appearing in the Good Beer Guide for the last four years running.” Permission was previously granted to turn the pub and an adjoining property into a two-screen cinema with cafe/bar and foyer. But the buyer is a pub company and The Grape & Grain is not expected to change use. The new freeholder will get a rent of £55,000 a year, rising to £60,000 a year this December.
   
Whitbread pension chief short-listed for award: Whitbread group director of pensions Lesley Williams has been short-listed for “Outstanding Individual Contribution to Pensions” in a Financial News awards ceremony taking place on 14 May. The citation stated: “According to peers in the industry, there are few in pensions with more passion than Williams for talking to those people about pensions in a language they understand. She has led a successful auto-enrolment drive at Whitbread, with only around 4% of the 21,000 staff the firm enrolled last year opting out of the scheme – a vindication for Williams’ “keep it simple” approach to communications. In October 2013, Williams became chairman of the National Association of Pension Funds’ new Defined Contribution Council.”
   
Five Guys confirms Birmingham Bullring site: US burger brand Five Guys has confirmed a new site at Birmingham’s Bullring, the brand’s first in the Midlands . Bullring general manager Tim Walley said: “We’re delighted to be expanding our catering offering at the centre with the arrival of Five Guys. It’s a great high-profile brand to have on board, and we’re sure that the restaurant will prove extremely popular with our customers.” John Eckbert, director of Five Guys UK, added: “We are thrilled to be a part of Bullring and the other great eateries in the centre. We are looking forward to building a great relationship with West Midlands patrons.”
   
Nando’s and Zizzi set for Manchester site: Nando’s and Zizzi are lined up for a new development that will see the fire-stricken former Woolworths site transformed into a £20m hotel, restaurant and shopping complex – creating more than 100 jobs. The building in the heart of Piccadilly Gardens, will also house a 157-room Travelodge. It has become an eyesore in recent years and is currently home to an amusement arcade. The revamp is being led by the building’s owner Associated Property Investors (API) and will be finished by December.
   
Steakhouse chain secures Richmond site: The Buenos Aires restaurant chain has secured the former FishWorks premises on The Square in Richmond, where it’s planning to open its ninth steakhouse. “Buenos Aires may specialise in steak but they are very different from the traditional British steakhouse of the past,” said Richard Negus agent AG&G, who acted for the vendor, seafood restaurant and fishmonger group FishWorks. “Their mix of prime Argentine steak and Latin American favourites is totally modern and proving a hit in other metropolitan centres. So we’re sure it will go down very nicely in well-heeled Richmond.” The company has sites in Chiswick, the City, Fulham, Maidstone, Purley, Reigate and Wimbledon – and is planning another opening in Horsham, West Sussex. 
   
Pesto opens first site in the West Midlands: Pesto opened its first site in the West Midlands yesterday, a Star Pubs & Bars site on Sutton Coldfield’s Hollyfield Road that has seen a £500,000 investment. The refurbishment has included the creation of a 600 square foot bar within the 120 cover Italian restaurant. Co-owner of Pesto restaurants Neil Gatt said: “We know our customers enjoy our grazing-style menu, relaxed atmosphere and friendly service style and, as this is our first Pesto restaurant in the West Midlands, we look forward to bringing our distinctive dining experience to prospective diners across the region.”
   
Aberdeen nightclub closed with immediate effect: An Aberdeen nightclub has been closed with immediate effect. The move comes following a meeting of the city’s licensing board. Police Scotland reported to the board that the current management of Chaplins in the Adelphi did not hold the license and could not legally operate door stewards. Members of Aberdeen City Council’s licensing board closed the venue after police warned public safety was at risk. Aberdeen City Council’s licensing board will reconsider the decision in August.
   
Marco Pierre White to open at Hilton’s Syon Park Hotel: Marco Pierre White is opening a new Steakhouse Bar and Grill at Syon Park’s Hilton hotel, Brentwood, Middlesex. The hotel in the grounds of the Duke of Northumberland’s house. An extensive medley of steak cuts and meats celebrating local, seasonal produce will be the focus in the grill, and the bar will have its own food menu for guests who prefer a quick bite, as well as drinks freshly prepared by the head mixologist.
   
Orchid reports busiest day in company’s history: Orchid Pub Company has reported Mother’s Day was the busiest day in the company’s history with sales of £866,000. The weekend was boosted by the busiest Saturday in Orchid history the day before, with sales of £762,000. Top performing pubs on Sunday 30 March included: Moby Dick (Great British Carvery) in Romford – £14,000 (net); Mons (GBC) in Bootle – £11,500; Young Pretender (GBC) in Kings Langley – £10,500; Spirit of Endeavour (All Inns) in Boston – £8.500; Three Nuns in (All Inns 2-4-1) in Mirfield – £7,800. Highlights for the company and divisions include: +10.9% like-for-likes with Mother’s Day 2013; +22% like-for-likes at All Inns; +20% like-for-likes at Great British Carvery pubs; and +16% like-for-likes at Thai Dragons. The company sold more than 23,000 carveries and more than 32,000 glasses of wine. “Each year we plan bigger and better activity around key calendar dates as part of our Magnificent 7 initiative,” said Orchid Group Commercial & People Director Simon Dodd. “We run activities around seven opportunities in the first half of the year, and then a further seven in the second half, and results are always outstanding.” The concerted effort to push for increased covers and additional sales on such days has brought in some great figures, including Orchid’s best-ever Christmas trading in 2013 with more than 8% like-for-like growth. “Customer spending is tight, but on key dates like Father’s Day, Easter, Bank Holidays and so on customers are keen to celebrate with their family and often choose a pub as a relaxed and enjoyable place to do so without breaking the bank,” Dodd added. “The key to our continued success is clear – well-planned events and the right consumer offer flawlessly executed by exceptional managers and their teams. Our next Magnificent 7 push is Easter and we hope to break a few more records!”
   
London pub entrepreneur Gareth Lloyd-Jones adds prime London pub to portfolio: London pub entrepreneur Gareth Lloyd-Jones has added The Bridge pub in Barnes, West London to his portfolio. The pub was assigned by agent Colliers International, on behalf of the Administrators of The Town & Country Pub Limited. Lloyd-Jones, who also operates neighbourhood dining pubs in London, including The Canonbury, The Hansom Cab, The Spencer & The Althorp, said: “We have acted promptly to add another fine pub property to our portfolio. The Bridge in Barnes is an excellent house with more potential over the medium term. We look forward to welcoming new and existing customers back, after completing a short period of refurbishment. Plans will include enhancing: the garden, internal dining room, kitchen and drinking areas.” Ross Kirton, director of Colliers International said: “There has been a lot of interest in the Town & Country Pub estate since we brought it to market in October, especially in the London sites which were all located in sought after and diverse suburbs. Gareth and his team put forward an offer which proposed to upgrade the Bridge at Barnes ahead of the forthcoming Oxford and Cambridge Boat race, gaining further support from the Star Pubs.”
   
Hotel-apartment complex to create 50 jobs in Carlisle: A new luxury hotel-apartment complex will create up to 50 jobs when it opens in Carlisle in June. The Halston Aparthotel will offer 16 apartments, including penthouses. They will contain features such as kitchens, living areas and LED televisions. The building will also include a bar-bistro, a restaurant, a function and events room, a meeting room, as well as a hair and beauty spa, which is leased to another party.
   
KFC goes for total makeover after China crisis: Yum! Brands is attempting to put the crisis that hit its KFC outlets in China behind it with a total makeover, including a new menu. Sales were badly hit last year after a report late in 2012 on Chinese TV said some of Yum!’s suppliers were giving chickens unapproved levels of antibiotics. KFC’s new menu in China will feature ten new items and five revamped versions of existing products. These include three rice dishes, two chicken burgers, four snack items, and six drink or dessert items. The menu will have 66 items in total. Sam Su, chairman and chief executive of Yum Restaurants China, said in a release that the chain will undertake similar menu updates “at least once a year”. In addition, the product packaging and staff uniforms will be updated, and a new design for stores will roll out gradually. KFC will also launch a new mobile app and a pre-pay takeout option, while also increasing marketing effort, using new celebrities. Yum! has consistently stated that it is committed to the Chinese market in the long run, calling it the top retail opportunity in the world. KFC’s like-for-like sales in China finally turned positive in December, after being down 32% a year ago.
   
Technomic and Propel Info partner to launch UK and US foodservice perspectives conference: Leading insights and research firm Technomic has partnered Propel Info to launch the first ever full-day conference that compares and contrasts current eating out trends in the UK and the US. The day will look at some of the most innovative foodservice launches in the US in the past year – and provide analysis of the US brands currently looking to enter the UK market. Technomic’s vice-president Darren Tristano will examine best practice in menu, concept and service among growth concepts. There will also be insights on today’s foodservice consumer, current key UK industry metrics and forecasts and beverage trends in the UK and the US. Panel discussions include leading UK and US culinary directors and consumer insights directors, as well as a case study of a new beverage menu roll-out. Technomic’s Patrick Noone will provide insights on current UK trending menu flavours and preparations and consumer priorities and attitudes. Don Fox, chief executive of Firehouse Subs, the 750-strong US-based, fast casual restaurant chain that specialises in hot subs, will offer lessons from a leading US growth chain. Propel managing director Paul Charity said: “The conference offer a great way to understood both UK and US foodservice trends, with panel discussions involving leading operators from both countries.” The conference takes place on Tuesday 10 June at Stationer’s Hall, Ave Marie Lane, London and tickets are priced at £345 for operators and £395 for suppliers. Those attending will also get a free copy of a Technomic report on the performance of the 250 leading US restaurant companies and the UK’s leading 100 foodservice brands. To book a place e-mail jo.charity@propelinfo.com

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