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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Wed 2nd Apr 2014 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day

Ian Neill – US market there for the taking by UK brands: Ian Neill, the former chief executive of Wagamama and current chairman of Las Iguanas, believes the US market is “there for the taking” for ambitious UK operators. Neill, writing in a Piper Private Equity publication which collected 30 insights from UK operators who have taken brands abroad, said of Wagamama's experience in the United States: “We had our challenges in the US – opening in 2007 as the American economy nose-dived was probably not the best timing. And there were issues getting certain samples of our food through US Customs. Our gyoza dumplings never made it, as they kept on getting confiscated. Instead, we ended up having to make a step-by-step video of our recipe for our American suppliers. But our US experience was generally positive. There’s a perception that America is almost impenetrable for British restaurants. But if you’ve got a great casual or fast-food concept, you understand the metrics and plan your move carefully, I don’t believe there’s any reason why you can’t succeed there. You do, however, have to play a long game. Let’s not forget, plenty of established American businesses didn’t crack it the first time round. Burger King tried twice, Domino’s Pizza had three different owners and Dunkin’ Donuts is on its third attempt. In my view, America’s there for the taking.” Neill added: “Not every foreign market is geared up for multiple restaurant operators. With those that aren’t, it’s probably wise to let someone else do the pioneering. If it works, you can always come in on the second wave.” 

Industry News:

Luke Johnson – almost 500,000 migrants have started business in UK: Sector investor Luke Johnson reported that research conducted by his think tank, The Centre for Entrepreneurs, found that almost 500,000 migrants have started businesses in the UK. In his Management Today column, he wrote: “Thanks to our partner, DueDil, we showed how such immigrants are behind one in seven UK companies, and that nearly half a million people from 155 countries have settled in Britain and launched a business. These migrants have created jobs, invested and innovated, and are grateful for the chances Britain has offered them to better their situation. Let us hope that, whoever is in power in the coming years, ours remains a nation where wealth creators thrive and talent wants to stay rather than flee.”    
Restaurateur urges more support for NFU Charter: Thierry Tomasin, the operator of the Angelus Restaurant and Bar, Lancaster Gate, central London, is urging more industry support for the National Farmers Union Back British Farming charter, which aims to reverse the decline in the UK’s self-sufficiency. Tomasin said: “When I pledged my support last year, I said I would aim to increase the percentage of my ingredients that is locally produced, and I have been working very hard to achieve this. But I still feel that there are supply and demand obstacles that need to be worked through and overcome in order for me to continue to achieve this, and more importantly for the thousands of other restaurants in the UK to follow suit. I would love to see the creation of a forum in which farmers and restaurants can sit down together and discuss the best ways of working together and, as the NFU has such a pivotal role here, this is something that I would love to work with them on. I am in full support of the charter and I strongly believe that as a nation we all need to work together in striving towards a future where Britain is more self-sufficient. Currently on average, around 65% of produce and ingredients served in restaurants is locally produced I am keen to work with the NFU to drive this up to 70%.”   
London Wine Fair to hold first dedicated beer section: The London Wine Fair will have a dedicated beer section for the first time in its 34-year history. Brewhouse will be a table-top tasting dedicated to small batch, specialist and craft beers. It comes after a hugely successful international beer competition tasting at the 2013 fair, which attracted large numbers of visitors, and reflects burgeoning interest in craft beer from the independent and on-trade sectors as well as multiple grocers. Brewhouse will be curated by beer writer Sophie Atherton, the current holder of the All Party Parliamentary Beer Group Beer Sommelier of the Year title, who will also present a series of themed tastings. Tables will cost £450 for the three days, with brewers able to show their full range of beers.    

McDonald’s responds to Taco Bell 'Ronald McDonald’ marketing ploy with grace: McDonald’s has responded to Taco Bell’s audacious move to sign up real life Ronald McDonald’s to front its first breakfast advertising campaign in the United States. McDonald’s responded on Facebook with the gracious reply. "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." The Facebook posting showed a photo of Ronald McDonald petting a Chihuahua, a corporate symbol of Taco Bell.   
Stonegate Pub Company launches £380m bond offer: Stonegate Pub Company, which is owned by the private equity firm TDR Capital, is launching a £380m bond offer. The company indicated that proceeds will be used to repay debt under its senior facilities and under an existing shareholder loan. Stonegate is rumoured to be considering an initial public offering (IPO) at the end of this year or early in 2015.    
Whole Foods to open own on-site brewery: Whole Foods Market, the US supermarket chain that currently has eight outlets in the UK, is to open its own brewery at one of its new stores in Texas. Whole Foods already runs in-store bars at several dozen of its more than 360 supermarkets across the United States, and sells beers from more than 500 different breweries. It is now looking for a brewer to run a brewery at its outlet in Post Oak Boulevard, Houston, which is due to open in the summer. Kate Neu, a marketing coordinator at Whole Foods Corporate, told the Huffington Post that while Whole Foods currently has no plans to open further breweries, there was a precedent for a local experiment like this one to expand if it is successful. "That's what started to happen with in-store bars," Neu said. "In a few regions, the stores started playing with it, and it became a widespread practice that's working really well. So that's definitely a hope the same thing could happen with breweries."   

Company News:

Mezze plans 20 more sites in five years: Mezze Restaurants, the six-strong West Country operator led by Alex Tryfonos, is eyeing 20 new openings within the next five years. Clevedon in Somerset and Tetbury in Gloucestershire have been identified as the next areas for expansion and the company directors are currently looking at potential sites. These follow the 2013 openings at the Anchor, Ham Green, Somerset in May and the White Lion, Portishead, Bristol in July. Mezze founder Alex Tryfonos said: “While 28 pubs across the country are closing their doors every week, we at Mezze are trying to buck this trend and guarantee the future of these great old community pubs. With our significant investment into failing pubs, we are helping to turn around their futures and secure their place as the social hub of their local community. We are confident that we will be able to announce the venue locations in Clevedon and Tetbury within a matter of weeks and hope to open both sites this year.” Mezze's menu covers dishes from the Mediterranean, the Middle East, Morocco and Spain.
Lowlander founder Jim Fallon takes stake in Eclectic: Jim Fallon, founder of the Lowlander bar in Covent Garden, London, has taken a 3.3% stake in the premium bar company Eclectic as part-payment for the acquisition of his venue. The company said: “As previously stated, Jim Fallon, the company's chairman and one of the vendors of Lowlander, is to receive a tranche of consideration of £100,000 payable in Eclectic shares. This tranche will be satisfied by the issue to Jim Fallon of 60,241 new ordinary shares, at a price equating to £1.66 per ordinary share. Jim Fallon will be interested in 422,116 ordinary shares in the company, representing approximately 3.3% of the issued share capital of the company.”   
Wetherspoon to open in Warminster at end of month: JD Wetherspoon is to open a pub in Warminster, Wiltshire (population: 19,036), The Bath Arms, on 29 April after a £2.3m refurbishment. The pub, which has been closed since July 2012, will include a ten-bedroom hotel, and around 45 to 50 jobs will be created. Wiltshire Council approved the planning application submitted by Wetherspoon for a refurbishment of the Grade II listed building and a new beer garden in September last year. Wetherspoon's chief executive, John Hutson, said: “There are already a number of successful Wetherspoon pubs in Wiltshire and we decided to open one in Warminster after we identified a very good site in the Bath Arms. It is an iconic pub in the town and one which we believe people will be glad to see in use again. The location is in the heart of Warminster and a lot of work has gone in to its sympathetic restoration."   
CBRE – Fuller’s paid around £4.3m for latest two London pub acquisitions: Property agent CBRE has reported that the London brewer and retailer Fuller Smith & Turner paid around £4.4m for its two most recent London pub acquisitions. The agent said: “Fuller’s acquired the freehold of the Distillers Arms in Hammersmith for £3.4m and the leasehold interest of the Albannach on Trafalgar Square for a premium rumoured to be up to £1m.”   
Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurant wins prestigious European award: The Fifteen Cornwall Apprenticeship Programme, based at Jamie Oliver's Fifteen restaurant in Newquay,  has been honoured at the RegioStars 2014 Awards Ceremony as one of Europe's most promising and innovative regional projects. The initiative was recognised in the category "Inclusive Growth". The restaurant, built with financial support from the EU and owned by the Cornwall Food Foundation, gives unemployed, disadvantaged 16 to 24-year-olds the opportunity to train as chefs. The restaurant is part of a public-private social enterprise and started its nationally-recognised 15-month intensive apprenticeship programme in 2006, in an area where youth unemployment is particularly high. In seven years, almost 130 young people, many of whom were dealing with serious challenges such as suspended prison sentences, criminal records, substance misuse, mental illness, disability or domestic abuse, as well as a lack of education and training, have passed through the kitchen doors. Just under 90 graduated as chefs with professional qualifications and more than 90% of former Fifteen Cornwall apprentices are still in employment after leaving the programme. The restaurant invests around £1m a year back into the local economy through a local produce sourcing policy, creating around 15 jobs in the restaurant’s supply chain.
Award-winning Essex restaurateurs take second site: Award-winning Essex restaurateurs Cameron and Claire Marshall have taken a lease on a second site, Barn Hall in Thorpeness, Suffolk. The venue is a new-build completed in December 2013 by owner Urban Resolve, replacing an older building situated on the site since 1925. The Marshalls have operated The Boathouse in Dedham over the past 12 years and their venue will be called “The Kitchen @ Thorpeness”. Clare Marshall said: “The style of The Kitchen will be a more laid-back dining experience, with great locally sourced food, friendly efficient service with The Boathouse standards.” Simon Jackaman, who oversaw the letting, said: “This letting demonstrates that confidence has returned to the restaurant sector and despite challenging trading conditions and the continuation of a number of restaurant closures around the county, for the right opportunities located in exquisite areas such as Thorpeness interest from experienced operator’s remains very healthy.”
McDonald’s to receive top marketing prize: McDonald's will receive the Creative Marketer of the Year Award at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in June for its "creative excellence in brand communications", according to Marketing Week. The company has been credited by the Cannes Lions for placing creativity at the heart of its advertising and communications. The award is awarded to brands that "inspire innovative marketing of their products worldwide" and which instil creativity in their agencies. McDonald’s senior vice-president and global chief brand officer, Steve Easterbrook, said: "McDonald’s is honoured to be named creative marketer of the year. This award recognises the enduring and inspiring relationships we have with our agencies around the world. It’s a nod to our creative heritage and the power of the brand to connect with customers around the world with a local accent."   
US rap star in talks to franchise Manchester milk shake brand: The American rap star The Game is in talks to franchise the Manchester diner Archie’s in Los Angeles. The Game, real name Jayceon Terrell Taylor, was in the city to play at The Ritz earlier this month when he headed to Archie’s milkshake bar and diner on Oxford Road. Taylor liked it so much he is now discussing with the bar's owners, Imran and Amer Rafiq, about franchising the eaterie in his native LA, in the exclusive shopping district of Melrose. Taylor posted on his Instagram account: “Stopped by @archiesmcr to get a shake and talk to the owner about franchising one on Melrose $$$$ #StayTuned.” Imran Rafiq said: “When The Game came to Manchester to play at the Ritz, his manager came in for a burger. He came back the next day and said he was interested in the place because they’re looking at doing something like it in LA. He liked that we have different celebs coming in and making their own shakes."   
BrewDog to have trading platform for shares in place by June: The Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog is aiming to have a trading platform in place by June for its 14,500 shareholders. Co-founder James Watt told Director magazine that those shareholders who bought in 2009 will have seen a four-fold increase in their investment, which they will soon be able to cash in. He said: "We're going to have a trading platform in place by June, and we aim to have a full AIM listing in three to five years' time. So this is not just about fluffy, cheap benefits. This is about equity in a business."   
Tampopo to open pop-up for duration of Corn Exchange closure: Tampopo, the chain of Asian restaurants founded by David Fox and Nick Jeffrey, is to open a pop-up outlet while its 124-cover venue in the Corn Exchange, Manchester is closed for nine months for refurbishment. Fox said Tampopo was working closely with the landlord, Aviva, and Manchester Council to mitigate the impact of the closure, which is scheduled to begin in May. The plan is for the restaurant to operate a smaller, 40-cover pop-up space on Exchange Square for the duration of the refurbishment, which Fox said would help protect jobs. He told The Business Desk: "It's clearly not ideal for us. The site does well for us due to its proximity to the Phones 4U Arena: we can be as busy on a Sunday night as a Friday night." Fox also welcomed the arrival of Reds True Barbecue next door to the Tampopo restaurant in Albert Square, Manchester. He said: "The addition of Reds is a positive thing, rather than more competition: it's driving footfall to this part of the city." The outlet was also seeing the benefit of the reopened library, "which is welcome after a tough couple of years," Fox said. While the company has no short-term plans for new sites, he said, later this year it will look at opening further sites in the North West or London. "There are other Manchester locations or Liverpool, and we've been pleased with London too, so these are our focus," he said. Last week the company, which runs five restaurants in Manchester, Reading and Bristol under the Tampopo fascia and one in central London under the East Street name, revealed results for the year to the end of July 2013 which showed sales increasing 2.5% to £7m and an operating profit of £99,000, a turnaround from a loss of £267,000 in the previous year. Fox said: "Generally we are more positive now than we have been for the last couple of years."   
CH&Co buys remaining 50% stake in Apostrophe: Contract caterer CH&Co has bought the remaining 50% stake in the healthy eating brand Apostrophe, two years after it entered into an equal shares joint venture with founder Amir Chen. Chen, who founded the company in 2001 with its first outlet in Shoreditch, East London, had grown the business to 18 sites in the capital, Heathrow and Gatwick, before entering into the JV with the contract caterer. He will stay on with the business until a “smooth transition of ownership” is complete. CH&Co's chairman, Tim Jones, said: “As I forecast two years ago, this joint venture has offered new horizons for CH&Co commercially and wider choice for our clients and now it is time for us to take the next step.” Apostrophe reported turnover down to £4m in the year to the end of March 2013 from £6.23m in the previous year. The company reported turnover up 7.3% at retained sites. Losses before tax fell to £220,000 from £734,000 the year before.   
Tennis star Andy Murray opens own hotel: Tennis star Andy Murray has opened his hotel, Cromlix House, located near his home town of Dunblane in Scotland. The former country house, acquired last year has been turned into a 15-room, five-star luxury hotel, which includes a restaurant overseen by the  chef Albert Roux. The hotel, which also has its own loch, chapel and tennis court, is already fully booked for the Ryder Cup. Cromlix had previously been a private residence and then a five-star country house hotel before closing in 2012. Murray was best man at his brother Jamie's wedding there in 2010.
Manchester restaurant and bar couple plan suburbs site: Manchester restaurant and bar owners James and Katrina Kitchen, who own the city centre bar Neighbourhood and the Southern Eleven restaurant, have bought the former Man Zen Chinese restaurant on Ashley Road in Hale, which they are to transform into a restaurant and bar called Victor’s. The new eatery, planned to open in June, is to be themed around the up-market American holiday area of the Hamptons. It will include a 200-cover restaurant, as well as a DJ booth and a 1am licence. The menu will include Asian influences, as well as the New York-style dishes that proved popular at Neighbourhood.
Former marketer buys two Cotswolds sites in less than a year: Former marketer Paul Denton has acquired two Cotswolds sites in less than a year after embarking on a career change. Denton took over the Seagrave Arms, in Weston-sub-Edge, at the beginning of February. Last year, Denton, who works with his brother and sister-in-law, also bought The Malt House, an historic 16th Century country guest house in Broad Campden which is run by his mother June. The Grade II-listed former malting house re-opened just before the Cheltenham Festival last month, after a £500,000 refurbishment.
Manchester bar entrepreneur to open El Capo: The Manchester bar entrepreneur Peter Skelton is to open the South American-themed El Capo, on Tariff Street in the city tomorrow (3 April). The new venture by Skelton, one of the owners of the Whiskey Jar, will offer 70 tequilas, 21 craft cocktails, specially designed share drinks and a tapas-style menu based on the flavours of Mexican street food. The restaurant will not open until late April, in the cellar. Skelton said: “Sometimes I feel that customer service is thrown by the wayside; there is an expectation that people will come just because you’re the new place in town. I plan to personally ensure all our guests will feel more like they’re at a mate’s house and not just another ‘hip’ Northern Quarter bar.”   

New Moon Pub Company to open new gastro-pub this week: The Cheshire-based New Moon Pub Company, led by Living Ventures co-founder Paul Newman and chef Dave Mooney, will open its new gastro-pub, Beef and Pudding, this Friday (4 April) – its fifth site. It will offer Tatton Brewery’s Crowning Glory. Mooney told the Guardian: “Our new place used to be called the Crown so we thought it would tie in quite nicely. The new place is very urban and very different for us. We wanted to stick with Tatton and not lose everything Cheshire just because we are going in to Manchester.” The pub promises “fine quality, fresh home cooking and carefully sourced wines of distinction … brought together in informal, relaxed surroundings, creating an ambient drinking and dining experience.”   

City Pub Company adds two more sites: City Pub Company has added pubs in London and Brighton to its estate. The two pubs, which will bring the portfolio total to 17, will be split between City Pub Company (West) which is headed by Clive Watson and Alex Derrick, and City Pub Company which is headed by Clive Watson and Rupert Clark. The Lion and Lobster, one of the oldest and most traditional pubs in Brighton and Hove, is set over three floors and includes a restaurant, three bars and two beer gardens and as a result has a high level of barrelage. Last year’s annual sales were in excess of £2.4m. City Pub Company paid £4.5m for this premium freehold site. The Lion and Lobster will be part of City Pub Company (West). The Cock and Bottle, situated on Needham Road in Notting Hill, West London, is made up of two bars and is listed by Camra as a pub with a historic Interior. The Cock and Bottle will go through a full refurbishment and will reopen later in 2014. City Pub Company paid a £500,000 premium for the 33-year lease. The Cock and Bottle will be part of City Pub Company (East). Clive Watson, chief executive and co-founder of the City Pub Company, said: “Today’s acquisitions are great additions to our estate and once again underline our intent of building an estate of high quality, managed pubs. In the last year we have grown from six pubs to 17 across Southern England. Each of these pubs has been selected for their individual attributes and our vision of what they can become in the future. We continue to seek new sites and with our new banking facility have the flexibility to reach 25 pubs by mid-2015.” The Lion and Lobster was sold by Irish actor Gary Whelan, who has made a name playing police officers on shows such as The Bill, EastEnders and Prime Suspect. James Grimes, of the property agent AG&G, who acted for City, said: “As a quality, traditional pub with a reputation for delicious food, it will fit perfectly with their portfolio of carefully selected properties. Essentially, [City Pub Company] wants to stick with the formula that has made the pub such a success over the years.”   
Chichester multi-siter expands into Bognor Regis: Chichester pub operator Alan Frith, who operates the Vestry and Fountain in Chichester, Sussex is expanding into nearby Bognor Regis after securing the William Hardwicke pub, a Star Pubs and Bars site that will see a co-investment of more than £100,000. Frith said: “I’ve had my eye on the William Hardwicke for a number of years and was delighted when it became available. It’s a great place to start and I am hoping that my team will be able to make the William Hardwicke even better.”
Imbiba Partnership firm to open new event space: The Imbiba Partnership-backed Camm and Hooper is to open a new event space in the City of London in May. Banking Hall, on Cornhill Street, will cater for more than 600 guests and is aimed at those working in the Square Mile. Camm and Hooper said it would offer a range of market-style food stalls instead of "run-of-the-mill" finger-food buffets at the Banking Hall. Claire Lawson, managing director of Camm and Hooper, said: “Following the successful launch of Tanner & Co in April 2013, we are very excited that our second project is now under way. Banking Hall will revolutionise the choice of events spaces on offer in the capital by providing a unique, elegant and adaptable venue in one of London’s busiest business locations.” Imbiba Partnership also backs Darwin and Wallace.   
Admiral Taverns tops tenanted pub company survey: Admiral Taverns has emerged ahead of its peer group as the highest-rated national pub company in an independent survey. Three out of four  licensees declaring they would recommend Admiral to another publican as a great partner with which to work. Nine out of ten licensees also only had positive things to say about their Admiral business development managers (BDMs). The independent research shows that out of all of the national pub companies, Admiral Taverns has: the most valued training for licensees and staff; the most valued food support and development; the fairest agreements; and the highest-rated recruitment process. Kevin Georgel, chief executive of Admiral Taverns, said: “We are incredibly proud of our Tenant Track results.  That so many of our licensees would recommend us as a business partner is a great indication of the strong working relationships we have with the people that choose to run an Admiral pub.”   
Greene King acquires London freehold for Realpubs format: Greene King has acquired the freehold of the Tulse Hill Tavern in south east London for around £2m. The company is understood to be planning to re-open the pub in the summer under its Realpubs premium format. Realpubs operated 14 pubs when it was acquired by Greene King for £53.1m in 2011 and the acquisition will bring the company close to doubling the estate, with an estimated 26 pubs operating within the division.
Professional magician partners Everards in £280,000 pub investment: Professional magician Chris Stevenson and his partner Yolande Rees have re-opened the White Lion, Whissendine, Rutland after a £280,000 co-investment with the Leicester-based brewer and pub operator Everards. The White Lion now offers local and national cask ales on rotation, hand pulled ciders, wines and spirits. Stevenson is the British Close up Magic Champion of 2012 and 2013.
Enterprise pub hosts giant vending machine: An Enterprise pub, The Cock Inn at Clifton in Derbyshire, has made national news headlines after installation of a giant vending machine which stocks a host of household essentials, designed and created by a local electrical engineer. The first-of-its-kind vending machine, created by local man Peter Fox, managing director of Villagevending, stocks more than 80 products including baked beans, toilet rolls, locally produced milk, eggs and bread in addition to shower gel, cereal and tea. Since its launch earlier this month, the small village became a media hub with reporters and film crews from media outlets including the BBC, Sky News, ITV, The Daily Mail and The Times flocking to cover the story. When licensees Andrew and Lorraine Garside, who have run the pub for 11 years, were asked by the local inventor if they’d like to try the vending machine in the pub car park, they jumped at the chance. Lorraine said: “Our village had a shop for 104 years but it closed in 1999 and it’s quite a way to the nearest town. Our village has a pub, a village hall and a cricket team but a shop just wasn’t viable to run. We looked at opening one as part of the pub but staffing would have been a problem, so this seemed like a great alternative.”
Technomic and Propel Info partner to launch UK and US foodservice perspectives conference: The leading insights and research firm Technomic has partnered Propel Info to launch the first ever full-day conference to compare and contrast current eating-out trends in the UK and the US. The day will look at some of the most innovative foodservice launches in the United States 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 will 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's 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 Stationers' Hall, Ave Maria Lane, London EC4 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

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