Southampton consults on late-night levy:
Plans for a controversial late-night levy on Southampton’s bars and clubs are set to go out for consultation. Council chiefs want to hear residents’ views on their plans to introduce a charge to help cover the cost of drunken revellers. But members of the city’s licensing trade have called on the city council to abandon the scheme, which they say will unfairly penalise pubs and clubs. The plans unveiled by Labour city council leaders and the Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Simon Hayes, would see venues operating after midnight pay an annual fee of between £299 and £4,440. Customer loyalty start-up wins award:
The UK-based customer loyalty startup Swipii has won a "Best New Venture for 2014” award from the Scottish Institute For Enterprise. Swipii is a customer loyalty company aimed at local independent businesses to use for customer relationship building and retention. Swipii's cards and mobile app let customers collect rewards and loyalty across multiple businesses. Swipii's chief executive, Chitresh Sharma, said: “Small businesses need more out of loyalty schemes. Loyalty means more than the paper punch card, which, due to cost, time and technical constraints, is all small businesses have.” US restaurant sales bounce up in March:
Restaurant sales in the United States posted a solid gain in March, and bounced back completely from their recent soft patch. Eating and drinking venue sales totalled $47.3bn on a seasonally-adjusted basis in March, up 1.1 per cent from February's upward-revised sales volume of $46.8bn according to preliminary figures from the US Census Bureau. The March sales volume matched the previous record high registered in November 2013, and came after three months in which sales were dampened somewhat by challenging weather conditions. Total retail sales also rose 1.1% on a seasonally-adjusted basis in March, while grocery store sales edged up 0.2%.
UK alcohol consumption fell again in 2013:
UK alcohol consumption per head fell again in 2013, new figures show. This is the seventh year in the past nine that there has been a fall. Consumption per head is now 18 per cent lower than it was in 2004, when the current trend began, says the British Beer & Pub Association, which compiles the new data every year, based on HMRC alcohol tax returns. In total, Britons drank over seven billion fewer units of alcohol in 2013, compared with 2004. Alcohol consumption per head was 7.7 litres per head in 2013, the lowest level this century. The chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, Brigid Simmonds, said: “We have now experienced a decade of falling alcohol consumption. While total consumption per head is not synonymous with alcohol-related harm, these are interesting figures, as the percentage of those drinking at harmful levels has also been falling, as have the number of under-18s drinking. The industry will continue to work to tackle alcohol misuse, but there are several encouraging trends, and accurate and up-to-date figures are important for the debate around alcohol.” Restaurant quarter planned for Norwich shopping centre:
More than 120 jobs could be created in Norwich as part of a multi-million pound project to transform part of the Castle Mall in Norwich with a restaurant quarter. The owner, InfraRed, has announced plans to attract six businesses into a new restaurant quarter surrounding the shopping centre’s Timberhill entrance. Paul McCarthy, general manager of the Castle Mall, said the investment would make it more attractive to families.
Company News: Ed’s Easy Diner Group reports turnover and profit leap:
Ed’s Easy Diner Group, led by Andrew Guy, has reported turnover rose to £17.59m in the year to 30 September 2013, up from £9.41m the year before. Ebitda rose to £3.88m from £2.09m the previous year. Pre-opening costs rose by around £450,000 to £696,000 as more sites were opened than in the 12 months to September 2012, reducing pre-tax profit to £230,000 from £540,000. The company reported it served almost 1.8 million customers in the year and membership of its loyalty club, Ed’s Club, almost doubled to 250,000 in the year, rising to 285,000 in December 2013. Capital expenditure doubled to £7m in the year with nine new diner and three Shakes ’n’ Dogs units. The company plans a total of 15 new openings this financial year. It said: “We have six diner sites either where heads of terms have been issued or in 'legals' for the first half of 2015, with other exciting opportunities being negotiated. In addition, there are sites where heads of terms have been agreed for 2016.” The company’s strategic plan anticipates an estate of 100 diners by September 2018. It had 24 diners and four Shakes ’n’ Dogs at the start of this month. Ed’s Easy Diner had three sites in mid-2009 when it was acquired by the current owners. Meatliquor exchanges contracts on Bristol site:
Meatliquor, the London and Brighton-based meat and cocktail concept headed by Scott Collins and Yianni Papoutsis, has exchanged contracts on a site in the Stokes Croft area of Bristol. Collins told Propel: “Subject to getting a liquor licence, we should be open in October.” The venue is the chain's first outside of the South-East of England. The business currently generates annual revenue of £10m. Bulldog Hotel Group rebrands Holmfirth coaching inn:
Bulldog Hotel Group, the seven-strong coaching inn operator led by Kevin Charity, has rebranded its 21-bedroom coaching inn the Old Bridge in Holmfirth, Yorkshire after a £300,000 refurbishment, which has added 60 covers internally and 70 externally. The venue, which the company has owned for 14 years, is now called Old Bridge Inn and Coffee House. Charity said: “It’s early days but takings have doubled since we reopened last Friday. We have added a big patisserie unit at the back, and cake and coffee are flying out. We did £10,000 of food and beverage sales each day on both Saturday and Sunday just gone. Yesterday and today have also been incredibly busy.” The re-branding comes after the company's £1.2m refurbishment of the historic Talbot in Oundle, Northamptonshire, a former Greene King site, where a modern conservatory extension has created a sizeable cake and coffee business to boost the morning and afternoon day-parts. The company added the 62-bedroom Three Swans in Market Harborough, Leicestershire to its estate last year.
Pizza Rossa lines up three sites in the City of London: Crowd-funded “better pizza” concept Pizza Rossa is close to securing its first three sites in the City of London. The first opening, which will be a pop-up, is scheduled for May. The brainchild of chartered engineer Corrado Accardi, Pizza Rossa, which will serve pizza by the square slice, raised 157% of the capital needed in less than half the time envisaged – £440,000 in 17 days from just over 100 people. The results broke the European record for a start-up through equity-based crowd-funding. Accardi said: “With Heads of Terms agreed, we are excited to move closer to our first opening. Pizza Rossa will be aimed at time-poor city workers, offering a delicious and healthier product, easy to eat on the go, conveniently available and served quickly – 90 seconds from ordering to eating it piping hot. Pizza is no longer regarded as junk food, but as a high quality option in the grab-and-go lunchtime market, because it provides a complete meal. Our pizzas will be akin to the quality of food found in an Italian deli, and aligned with foodie pizzas.”
Punch multi-siter to re-open Ellon hotel: The Newburgh Inn in Ellon, Aberdeenshire is set to open on 23 April after a major joint investment by a local publican and restaurateur, Martin Young, in partnership with Punch Taverns. The hotel, formerly the Ythan, was closed for more than three months while a refurbishment was carried out. The investment has created 20 new jobs. The hotel now has 11 refurbished letting rooms. The restaurant has been extended and the hotel will be launching a new food offer, featuring traditional pub classics and 'tweaked' regional favourites, all sourced locally and sustainably. Young also operates the multi award-winning Mains of Scotstown Inn and the White Cockade in Aberdeen.
PizzaExpress targets inspiring 1m children to cook: The interim Gondola Holdings report states that its lead brand, PizzaExpress, is aiming to inspire one million children to cook. The company said: “We continued our support for the Children’s Food Trust, to inspire a million kids to get cooking over the next 12 months. We have been passionate about getting kids cooking since the late 1990s, when a teacher contacted us and asked if she could bring her class into one of our restaurants to learn how to cook. Since then, PizzaExpress has been running free school visits for primary schools to get kids up and down the country into its kitchens and cooking. As part of our partnership, 25p from the sale of every Fiorentina pizza goes to the Children’s Food Trust to help get kids cooking.”
Waitrose opens grazing areas: Continental-style cafes selling wine by the glass, deli foods and gourmet cheese are being opened in some Waitrose stores in new "grazing areas". The first of the food outlets is at a new Waitrose in Keynsham, Somerset in a site acquired from the Co-op earlier this year, while more are planned across the country. Another opened last week in a new store near Swindon, which is also trialling a fresh juice bar and a wine tasting area. The "grazing areas", which include benches and tables, are provided next to the deli and bakery areas to allow customers to try upmarket, gourmet products that are on sale around the store. Customers can choose from platters serving ham, cheese and artichokes, together with a glass of wine for £7.50. Waitrose also has plans to double the number of conventional in-store cafes, serving hot food from lasagne to ham hock pie, taking the figure up to around 200. It is also opening 100 mini-gardening shops or pods outside stores this spring, selling grow-your-own vegetables as well as plants and other products.
McDonald’s backs Farmers Weekly scheme to attract young farmers: McDonald’s has sponsored a Farmers Weekly competition designed to find and recruit new talent within the UK's farming industry. The Farmers Apprentice initiative operates via a bootcamp style competitive process where one overall winner will receive financial support to set up in business. The competition is administered by Farmers Weekly with investment and support from McDonald's. The scheme aims to create a new generation of farmers that is able to build sustainable, profitable and innovative businesses. The campaign supports a drive to recruit thousands of new entrants into agriculture over the next ten years. Through the campaign, the sponsors hope to identify ten stand-out young apprentices to take part in an intensive, five-day farming bootcamp. The individual who impresses judges the most will win £10,000 in cash to help kick-start a career in farming. Anyone between the ages of 18 and 25 year who has a passion for the outdoors, food and farming, may enter the competition.
Iconic Newcastle bar to triple in size at new location: The Tyneside cocktail bar Popolo is set to re-open at a new Newcastle Quayside venue "three times the size", it has been revealed. The Pilgrim Street venue shut its doors after more than ten years in Newcastle city centre last month, with the loss of 21 jobs, when the company went into administration. Now, Popolo Leisure UK, which includes the San Lorenzo restaurant in Gosforth, has said it plans to open a new venue, using the same name, at the Quayside. The new venture is expected to create 50 new jobs. A spokesman said the location of the new venue could not yet be disclosed but was expected to open in the coming months. He said: “It is three times the size and it has two floors. Popolo has history in the city and has been making cocktails for over ten years. Long may that continue.”
Four restaurant brands lined up for Swindon leisure centre: Four restaurant brands are signed up for a leisure complex in Regent Circus, Swindon, due to open later this year. The site will house a multi-screen Cineworld cinema and a Morrison’s supermarket as well outlets for Nando’s, Coal, ASK Italian and Prezzo.
Bill’s to open in Eastbourne this month: Bill’s is to open in Eastbourne later this month, occupying the former Terminus Pub premises in Terminus Road within the next few weeks. Bill Collison, who founded the company and started it from a shed in Lewes, said: “Eastbourne has been winking at me for a long time to open a Bill’s. I wanted to get it right – find a great location – which we have now done. Formerly a pub, this building right in the middle of town is a gem for us and we’ve been unearthing all sorts of original features.”
Tom Gibson re-opens Cat and Mutton: Multi-site operator Tom Gibson has re-opened the Cat & Mutton on Broadway Market in East London with food by Licky Chop. Gibson also operates Ruby's in Dalston, East London. He told Harden’s he wanted to restore the Cat & Mutton pub to its former glory with the addition of Pearl’s cocktail lounge on the first floor and a new menu from Ben Denner, the man behind the popular pop-up Licky Chop in Climpsons Arch, Hackney. The menu includes oysters (fresh or smoked); burnt broccoli, yoghurt and pickled mustard seeds; pulled pork roll, American cheese, coleslaw; bucket of mutton chops, bean salad, mash, mint sauce; smoked haddock, charred leeks, aioli, toast and rhubarb sorbet with prosecco.
PoundPub opens in Stockton: A PoundPub has opened in Stockton on Tees, occupying the former Georgia Brown’s site on Dovecot Street. The pub sells half-pints of beer at £1 and pints at £1.50. The pub reported it had sold the same amount of beer by mid-afternoon as it had during the whole day the previous week. Joe White, the pub manager, said the increase in trade had been pleasing, but was not dramatic. The pub's owner, Here For Your Hospitality Ltd, has applied to vary its licence to sell alcohol at 8am, but it closes at 10pm on weekdays and 11pm at weekends.
Coke’s 'game-changing' Freestyle machine being tested at McDonald’s: US newswires have reported that Coca-Cola's Freestyle beverage machine, which can dispense 146 different flavours, is now being trialled by McDonald's at a number of New York City locations. "Freestyle is a game-changer," Jennifer Mann, vice president and general manager of Coca-Cola Freestyle, told USA Today. “This is one of the largest investments in innovation in the history of the company. This is a way to grow the brand." Some fast-food chains that have installed Freestyle, including Burger King, Five Guys, Moe's Southwest Grill and Wendy's, have seen an average 6% to 8% increase in beverage purchases, Mann said. At Moe's Southwest Grill, which has Freestyle in about 400 of its 450 locations, Freestyle is boosting same-store sales by 4% to 6% annually, according to Paul Damico, the chain's president. "We're converting water-only customers into beverage customers," he said. "I love this machine." There are currently 19,000 machines in about 10,500 locations globally, including most US Burger Kings.
Everards partners local cider company: Leicester’s Everards Brewery has linked up with a local craft cider producer, the Bottle Kicking Cider Company of Hallaton, Leicestershire. Bottle Kicking Cider, which is made in small batches by Rob Morton using Leicestershire apples blended with Gloucestershire cider apples, is now available at 35 of Everards’ 175 Midlands pubs, and growing. Nick Arthur, Everards' operations director, said: “Rob introduced himself to us by bringing us a large Melton Mowbray pork pie embossed with the word ‘Everards’! It was a personal, attention-grabbing approach that cleverly played to our ‘local’ principles. We like Rob’s craft cider and believe in supporting local producers. Since that meeting we’ve visited Bottle Kicking Cider in Hallaton for several tasting sessions of Rob’s 7% abv Scrambler and 6% Rambler. We asked Rob to create a lower-alcohol cider, which is ready now. It’s called Full Back and at 4.5% is a good option for many of our licensees.” Morton, who set up Bottle Kicking Cider in 2012, said: “The association with Everards – another family brewer with roots in Leicestershire, albeit much bigger than us – is fantastic for us.”
Former PizzaExpress chef takes company to industrial tribunal: A former PizzaExpress chef who claims constructive unfair dismissal because she wanted to return to work on reduced hours after pregnancy has taken the company to court. Jennifer Sammut, who has a two-year-old daughter, Bella, discovered 18 months ago that her job at the restaurant in High Street had been replaced. She had wanted to cut her hours from full time to work 16 hours a week from 8.30am to 5.30pm. Sammut told an employment tribunal at Lincoln Magistrates' Court: “The basis of my claim is that my employer never had any intention of allowing me to go back to my job. They had put in a replacement.” The hearing began yesterday morning.
Traditional Scottish Ales re-brands as Black Wolf Brewery: The Stirlingshire-based Traditional Scottish Ales Ltd (TSA) has re-launched as Black Wolf Brewery. The owner of the brewery, VC2 Brands, made the decision to rebrand TSA, which has been operating for seven years from its site in Throsk near Stirling, after the expansion of its management team, with the addition of director and investor Andrew Richardson. Richardson, the former managing director of Johnston Press Scotland, has experience in the brewing trade from his time at Courage. Black Wolf has marked the relaunch with a new range of craft beers.
Pop-up chef helps relaunch Hertford restaurant: The London pop-up chef Carl Clarke is partnering Hertford House in Hertford for its relaunch. The bar/restaurant has been owned by the Shipton family for 20 years and is being relaunched this Sunday as a British diner, bar and cocktail lounge with an East London twist. Co-owner Nick Shipton said: “We’re really excited to be working with Carl and bringing a slice of the cutting-edge East London bar and restaurant scene to Hertford. I think the time is right and will create a progressive new chapter for Hertford House. In the past we’ve always striven to associate ourselves with the pioneers of the latest drinks and music trends and having an edgy new chef on board will align us with some of London’s hottest bars and restaurants. There’s a huge buzz around excellent street food and diner-inspired dining concepts right now. Bringing this element to Hertford is an exciting step.” Clarke’s pop-up restaurants have included Rock Lobsta, God Save the Clam and Disco Bistro. Clarke said: “I met Nick last summer and immediately loved the idea of a project outside of London."
Wyn Ellis – we’d be adding SAB Miller shares: Numis Securities' leisure analyst Wyn Ellis has issued an "add" notice on SAB Miller shares with a target price of 3500p. He described SABMiller as a strong business facing headwinds and challenges. Ellis said: “SABMiller is facing a number of headwinds, including FX weakness (resulting in weaker profits on translation and reducing consumer disposable income via imported inflation), excise increases and regulatory change. Political uncertainty is also apparent in a number of emerging markets, notably Ukraine. Europe showed signs of improvement in 4Q14 but in the context of 'challenging' market conditions. On an organic basis total volumes were down 1%. In the Czech Republic, FY14 lager volumes were down 4% and in Poland they were down 9%. Volumes were down in Italy too; by 1%, although this represented market outperformance. We remain positive on the medium term growth opportunities in emerging markets, turnaround potential in Europe and for further value-creating M&A. However, in the near term, concern over the impact of weakening emerging markets and adverse currency movements seem likely to weigh. We reiterate our 'Add' rating and 3500p price target.”
Camra member plans micro-pub in Derbyshire: A former bank in Melbourne, Derbyshire could be transformed into a micro-pub by a real ale fan. Campaign for Real Ale member David Carpenter hopes to add to the increasing number of micro-pubs in the county by bringing one into Melbourne. Carpenter, 52 and a semi-retired geophysicist, is one of three men who have put in an application to South Derbyshire Council to transform the former HSBC bank on Melbourne High Street. He will have the help of his wife, Elaine, in the project. Carpenter said the micro-pub would be about the size of a "large living room" and the rest of the space in the former bank would be used for meeting rooms. He said: "We really want to simplify things and stick with tradition so there will obviously be an emphasis on real ale and creating a really good atmosphere for conversation. We started to think about the project because of the decline of real ale pubs and the rise in pub chains. I joined Camra in 1979 as a student and I've always had a keen interest in real ale." The micro-pub would have limited opening hours, which would start at 3pm.
TGI Friday’s unveils new UK transport hub concept: TGI Friday’s has announced that its next opening will be the company’s first at a key UK transport hub, with a new-concept Friday’s "Fast Track" due to open in Manchester’s Piccadilly Station in June. The outlet will serve food within a restaurant environment tailored to the needs of busy travellers, with power points, wi-fi, and individual seating. The move into fast-paced high-footfall transport hubs is part of chief executive Karen Forrester’s vision to double the number of Friday’s in the UK to 120 by 2020, with around eight openings a year planned. The company said Manchester Piccadilly provides the perfect location, with a footfall of 24 million passengers a year, an average user age below 40, and an average passenger dwell time of nearly half an hour. Horizon’s "Ones to Watch" report suggested that "quality food on the go" will be a key growth area in the UK eating-out market, with new concepts emerging in places such as transport hubs, as consumers increasingly want to eat when they want, where they want. The new Friday’s outlet will be in the station's upper concourse. It has an open-plan kitchen that will offer people walking past the restaurant a glimpse of the food as it is cooked, including the new handcrafted burger range and what the company calls "classic American-inspired breakfasts with a Friday’s twist", including waffles, maple bacon and Jack Daniel’s-candied sausages. The food has been designed by Friday’s award-winning development chef, Terry McDowell, with "clever innovations" to ensure that all main meals can be delivered to customers within ten minutes of order. The restaurant will create 40 jobs locally and will be able to serve 135 diners at any one time. It will include a rustic colour scheme and memorabilia inspired by travel, with a particular nod to the most famous railway station in the world – Grand Central Station. Forrester said: “This is the dawn of a very exciting new phase for Friday’s. We have been looking for the right location to launch our new concept for some time and Manchester Piccadilly is the perfect place for us, with its high footfall and dwell times. Whether guests are looking for a quick coffee or a succulent sandwich we’ll have lots of options for anyone passing through the station.”
Hakkasan reports losses of £31.9m: Hakkasan, the international restaurant and nightclub company founded in the UK by Alan Yau, has reported that its losses widened to £31.9m in the year to 31 May 2013, against £4.52m the year before. Turnover rose 70% to £47.72m in the year from £28.13m to the end of May 2012. The company reported an ebitda loss before exceptionals of £2.6m, which was £2.5m down on the same period a year earlier, with improved performance at its UK restaurants and significant profitability from its Las Vegas nightclub offset by underperformance in the New York and San Francisco venues. Overall profitability has been hit by significant pre-opening and development costs as the Hakkasan brand is expanded as well as non-cash fixed asset impairments with respect to underperforming locations of £15m. The company reported that its Chrysan restaurant in London, which opened in September 2012 and closed in April 2013, saw trading fall “significantly below expectations”. The leasehold interest in the site in went on the market last week. Companies House documents indicate that the company has agreed to buy its restaurant in Dubai previously operated under a management agreement, as well as the Pure nightclub in Las Vegas and HKK Hospitality, a third-party management company which provides strategic services to the group. Hakkasan now has a total of 27 sites it either operates, manages or licences to third parties. A further Yauatcha is due to open in Calcutta in mid-2014 under a franchise agreement. Hakkasan will also open a new restaurant this month in New York under the Beautique brand through a majority interest in a joint venture with a local partner. The company has accumulated losses of £48.9m and has net current assets of £22m. Hakkasan received £95.1m (2012: £49.5m) from its shareholders in the year to provide working capital and the build-cost of new Hakkasan operations in the US and China. Turnover in the UK was £31.1m (2012: £26.21m) and £16.5m in the rest of the world (2012: £1.19m). It earned £1.21m in royalty fees arising from franchise arrangements. The company made a £470,000 onerous lease provision. Hakkasan is owned by Tasameem Real Estate. It opened eponymous restaurants in Beverly Hills in September 2013 and Shanghai last month.