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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Thu 24th Apr 2014 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Harry Ramsden’s reduces losses: The 18-strong fish and chip shop chain Harry Ramsden’s, which is owned by Boparan Ventures and led by Joe Texeira, has reduced losses in the year 29 December 2013. The company made a loss before tax of £1,286,759 on turnover of £12,930,612 compared to a loss of £2,446,632 on turnover of £14,216,386 the year before. Three sites were sold in 2013 and one more has been sold this year. The company stated: “Franchising will continue to drive the expansion of the business. Significant progress has been made in this area.” The company reported signed agreements to cover Yorkshire and Scotland are expected to deliver 100 sites over a five-year period, with 20 sites expected at Welcome Break service stations – two are open and one is under construction. An agreement has been signed with Two Sisters Food Group to leverage the brand into the multiple supermarket sector. The company now has losses of £6,385,000 to carry forward against future taxable profits. The company also sold six sites in 2012. Last week, Harry Ramsden’s reported 6.2% like-for-like sale growth in its first quarter to 30 March 2014. The sales growth underlines the ‘ongoing advances being made with the proposition and customer engagement initiatives’, the company said.

Industry News:

Propel 3 July Multi Club Conference and summer party opens for bookings: The Propel Multi Club Conference on Thursday 3 July at the Oxford Belfry, which will be followed by the Propel summer party in the evening, is now open for bookings – operators can claim two free places each. A full-day conference will be followed by the summer party, to include go-karting, a BBQ, the top live covers band the All Stars (which includes Simply Red’s guitarist and Rod Stewart’s bass player) and Lucky Voice karaoke. To secure places or get more information, email Jo Charity on
Yum! Brands trials in-house coffee shop in India: Yum! Brands is trialing an in-store cafe to improve sales at Pizza Hut restaurants in Kolkata and Chennai in India. Called Hut Cafe, the concept looks promising, according to Niren Chaudhary, India president of Yum! Restaurants. “The concept [offers] the perception of variety inside a Pizza Hut restaurant, and it also helps build an additional day-part for the brand,” Chaudhary said. The company will launch ten more Hut Cafes at restaurants across the country.
Jamie Oliver foundation gets grant to train youngsters: Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s apprentice programme has been awarded a £8,000 grant to train youngsters in Hackney, East London. The Fifteen Apprentice Programme, providing culinary training to disadvantaged Londoners, received the grant from the bank Santander to help more young people access its year-long training. Oliver offers unemployed, aspiring chefs between the ages of 18 and 24 on-the-job experience and college qualifications. Neil Lovell, chief executive of the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation, which runs the programme, said of the grant: “This support will give some of the most disadvantaged young people in London an opportunity to turn their lives around and build successful and rewarding careers in the food industry.” The foundation also works in local schools, educating children about eating a balanced diet and how to cook basic, nutritious meals.

Company News:

Patisserie Holdings – we’re positioned in the two key fastest growth markets: Patisserie Valerie owner Patisserie Holdings, which announced its intention to float on Aim yesterday, has argued it is “favourably positioned” across the two fastest growing sub-sectors of this market. Within the coffee shops segment, hot drinks and cakes accounted for 66% of the group’s revenue for the year ended 30 September 2013. The UK branded coffee shops sector is forecast to grow from £2.3bn in 2012 to £3.1bn in 2015, representing a 9.8% compound annual growth rate (CAGR). Within the casual dining segment, food and other beverages accounted for 34% of the group’s revenue for the year ended 30 September 2013. The UK branded casual dining market is forecast to grow from £3.2bn in 2012 to £3.9bn in 2015, representing a 7% CAGR. The company said: “The structural growth in the UK eating-out market is being driven by a number of factors, including long-term growth in consumer affluence, driving discretionary spend choice and, consequently, a greater propensity to eat out; busier working lifestyles, leading to increased snacking; the changing nature of the UK High Street, reflecting retailers’ active management of their bricks and mortar estates, freeing up potential sites; and eating out becoming more widely accepted as a mainstream leisure activity.”
Yum! Brands reports UK sales rise: Yum! Brands has reported that like-for-like sales at KFC in the UK in the first quarter of 2014 rose 12%. The UK accounts for 8% of total KFC global sales. The UK sales growth comes as the company saw a 4% like-for-like drop in the United States. Meanwhile, Pizza Hut sales in the UK grew by 2% in like-for-like terms. The UK accounts for 5% of total Pizza Hut global sales. By contrast, Pizza Hut like-for-like sales fell by 3% in the US. Chief executive David Novak said: “We also delivered solid sales and profit performance in Russia and Africa, as well as developed markets like KFC in the UK and Australia. However, we experienced disappointing US results, which were impacted by unusually severe weather. We have confidence in our plans to drive balance of year improvement and are particularly pleased with the initial results of our recent Taco Bell breakfast launch.”
Bulldog ‘coffee shop rebrand’ produces £54,000 of takings in first week: The re-branding of a Holmfirth coaching inn by Bulldog Hotel Group, the seven-strong coaching inn operator led by Kevin Charity, as the old Bridge Inn and Coffee House has produced £54,000 of takings in the first full week, around £15,000 more than previous record takings in the 14-year history of company ownership. The site has 21 bedrooms but the addition of a patisserie unit and a new emphasis on coffee saw food and beverage takings account for £49,000 of the total. A £300,000 refurbishment has added 60 covers internally and 70 externally. Charity said: “There’s no doubt that the re-emphasis on coffee and the creation of a large external area has added a whole new dimension to the business with morning and afternoon day-parts performing exceptionally well.”
Tim Martin divides opinion with attack on pubco chiefs: JD Wetherspoon founder Tim Martin divided opinion yesterday with a scathing attack on the financial track record of fellow pub companies – and their unwillingness to support the campaign to reduce VAT in the sector. One senior sector figure told Propel: “I think it’s terrific that Tim is prepared to call it like this.” A second industry figure said: “The comments are slightly disingenuous in that Wetherspoon has been reluctant until very recently to take a participatory role in sector associations. Governments like to deal with associations rather than individual companies. Remember the fuss about Greggs and hot sausage rolls. Think of the sort of voter power JD Wetherspoon could have brought over the years. However, I think he’s right on VAT, like he has been on so many issues over the years.” A third industry figure told Propel: “I thought it was a rather undignified rant and too personal in places.”
Prezzo directors sell shares: Two of Prezzo’s non-executive directors, Adam Kaye and Sam Kaye, have each sold 1.4 million shares at a price of 145p per share, while chairman Michael Carlton sold 145,000 shares at the same price. The company also announced that Phillip Kaye has sold 3.9 million shares, leaving him with 103 million shares, representing 44.23% of the issued share capital of the Italian restaurant chain. Meanwhile, finance director Alan Millar exercised options on 300,000 shares which he sold for 145p and executive director Kuldip Sehmi exercised options on 200,000 shares, which he also sold for 145p.
St Austell Brewery opens first Brewer and Bean coffee shop: St Austell Brewery has opened its first Brewer & Bean coffee retail outlet at the Great Western Hotel in Newquay, Cornwall. The south west brewery launched the Fairtrade Brewer & Bean brand earlier this year, in response to what it said was growing consumer demand for high quality coffee. St Austell Brewery says it wants to provide “high quality convenience coffee” and establish its pubs as an alternative to big-name coffee shop chains. The Great Western Hotel in Newquay is the first of the pubs and inns to open a dedicated Brewer & Bean outlet, separate to the main bar and restaurant. The new coffee shop, created by the interior design company 3iDog, offers a wide range of coffees, Tea Pig Infusion teas and Fairtrade hot chocolates to drink in or takeaway. The opening of the first Brewer & Bean outlet comes after the Future of Pubs 2014 research, which found that 33% of customers would not return to a pub where they had been served a bad cup of coffee. Jeremy Mitchell, St Austell Brewery’s marketing director, said: “The astonishing growth in the coffee sector has meant that customers are demanding a quality product and an extensive selection, but they increasingly want to enjoy their coffee in a pleasant location with a greater selection of hot and cold food. Our estate of pubs, hotels and inns across the South West are in a perfect position to cater for this demand.” A full menu of Brewer & Bean coffees, including classic espressos, lattes and cappuccinos, as well as slightly more unusual options like bianco mochas and café con hielos, available to either drink in or take away at St Austell Brewery pubs across the south west, with further dedicated outlets planned in several locations.
McDonald’s to make marketing more focused on key products: McDonald’s will change tack on marketing to focus on its core range of products. The company has admitted that its marketing has become too disparate and looked to shore up short term margins rather than focusing on long-term customer insights, according to Marketing Week. Key items such as the Big Mac, McMuffin and French fries generate 40% of McDonald’s global sales and represent an opportunity to “provide a constant drum beat of communication” rather than communicating “disparate” messages and chasing “a few too many limited time offers”, according to chief executive Don Thompson.
Foxton’s founder to launch restaurant next month: The founder of the estate agency Foxton’s, Jon Hunt, will launch a restaurant, champagne bar and deli called Pavilion on 31 May on Kensington High Street in West London. Head chef will be Adam Simmonds, who has previously worked under Raymond Blanc and Marco Pierre White. Hunt already owns the adjoining Pavilion members club, which customers will have to join if they want access to the restaurant’s private 40-seater terrace. Membership is £95 a month. Takeaway food will be available from the deli, which will stock over 50 varieties of cheeses and British cured meats sourced from Cannon & Cannon of Brixton Market, as well as Pavilion’s own chutneys, jams, bread and pastries.
Sambuca to open in Perth: The north of England-based Italian restaurant chain Sambuca is to open in George Street, Perth, Scotland next month under the La Lanterna fascia. Work on the outlet, in premises previously occupied by an Indian restaurant and, before that, a bar called Stangeways, is to resume shortly. A spokesman for La Lanterna said: “We have been concentrating on a number of restaurants in the north-east of England lately. However, we will be returning to work in Perth and should be open next month.” The company acquired the La Lanterna name when it bought La Lanterna in Hanover Street, Edinburgh in July last year. Sambuca runs around a dozen restaurants in towns and cities such as Newcastle upon Tyne, Blyth, Whitley Bay, South Shields, Sunderland and Durham, and is planning three outlets in the south of Spain.
CAU plans Reading opening: The Argentine steak chain CAU is planning a new restaurant at the Oracle shopping centre off Minster Street in Reading. Developers want to convert an area at the Holy Brook entrance of the shopping centre into a two-storey restaurant overlooking the waterway. The planning application submitted to Reading Council proposes a two-storey glazed extension to the Oracle, which would form the front-of-house restaurant area. It says: “During the day it will become a picture box, providing views out into the re-landscaped Holy Brook environment, and during the evenings it becomes a glowing box highlighting its function as a restaurant from within. This will create new interest for shoppers coming to the Oracle and a new destination for residents.” CAU, which is owned by the Gaucho restaurant group, currently has branches in Cambridge, Guildford, Blackheath in South East London, Tunbridge Wells, Kingston upon Thames and Amsterdam.
Loungers confirms appointment of Andrew Percy as finance director: Loungers, the Bristol-based cafe-bar group led by Alex Reilley and Jake Bishop, has confirmed the appointment of Andrew Percy as its new finance director. Percy, who will leave his current role as finance director at Peach Pub Company, will join Loungers in mid-May and will take over the finance director role from Nick Collins, who is stepping up to be chief operating officer. Percy, whose previous experience also includes roles as finance director at Burt’s Bees and financial controller at Mill House Inns (up to the point of the business being acquired by Punch in 2006), has been hired by Loungers after an extensive search. Speaking of the appointment, Collins, who led the recruitment process to find his successor, said: “Andrew has great sector experience, most recently at Peach Pub Company and previously at Mill House Inns, and culturally he is an excellent fit with the business. Andrew joins at an exciting time for the business, is well placed to lead and develop the finance team through a further period of significant growth, and I look forward to working alongside him.” Reilley said: “Andrew joins Loungers at an extremely busy and ambitious time and, coupled with Nick stepping up to COO, represents a significant strengthening of our senior management team as the business looks to achieve its goal of growing to 90 sites by 2017.”
Reading launch for first of chain of Coconut bars: The first of a planned chain of Japanese bars under the name Coconut Bar & Kitchen is due to open on the site of the old Glo bar in St Mary’s Butts, Reading on 3 May. Coconut Bar & Kitchen will specialise in yakitori skewers using authentic recipes from bars and restaurants in Japan, and more than 50 cocktails will be available. It will offer a combination of seating, standing and private dining for up to 180 customers and will open until 2.30am on Fridays and Saturday. Barry Walker, marketing manager for Coconut Bar & Kitchen, said: “The partners putting this venture together have bars and restaurants in Oxford, but this is a new concept. They have chosen Reading as the first place to try this and they plan to roll it out elsewhere.”
Kew Green Hotels buys Bromsgrove site: The 4-Star, 110-bedroom Holiday Inn Bromsgrove has been acquired out of administration by Kew Green Hotels. The hotel was brought to market earlier this year by property adviser Christie + Co on the instruction of David Oprey, Richard Toone and Adrian Hyde from Chantrey Vellacott, joint administrators of Pederson (Bromsgrove) Ltd. An extremely high interest in the hotel saw multiple viewings and offers, with the final sale price being above the £3.95m asked for it. Gavin Wright, director of hotels in Christie + Co’s Birmingham office, said: “The Holiday Inn Bromsgrove is an excellent acquisition for Kew Green Hotels, adding to its 18 other Holiday Inn-flagged hotels. It is a well-invested, purpose-built hotel with extensive leisure, meeting and conference facilities, so meets all the requirements of the serious operator. The sale above the asking price is indicative of a growing strength in the UK hotel market, with sites both in London and regions such as Birmingham generating great interest and good prices.” Paul Johnson, chief executive of Kew Green Hotels, said: “We are very pleased to have added this hotel to our growing portfolio of 24 owned and 12 managed hotels throughout the UK. We look forward to working with the hotel team to reinforce its position as the leading full service hotel in Bromsgrove, for both business and leisure travellers alike.”
Douglas Jack – ‘we’re expecting a strong trading update from Greene King’: Numis Securities leisure analyst Douglas Jack has forecast a strong trading update from Greene Kin next Wednesday and issued an ‘add’ recommendation with a 925p price target. He said: “Wednesday’s trading update should be strong, a theme we expect to be repeated by other managed pub companies over the next month. In Greene King’s case, being a full year update with managed pub trading likely to have moved further ahead, there should be a good chance of upgrades. We reiterate our ‘add’ recommendation. After 36 weeks, the managed estate had added 28 sites, with a further 19 expected in Q4. 2015E guidance is for 62 new sites. We believe the risk to forecasts (2014E PBT: £171.9m; consensus £172.2m) is on the upside, given that trading was ahead after Q3 with easy, snow-affected managed pub comps in Q4. Our Add stance reflects: an 8% three-year earnings CAGR forecast; upgrade potential; and a 3% dividend yield.”
Doncaster’s largest nightclub re-opens: Doncaster’s largest nightclub, Trilogy in Silver Street, has re-opened its doors for a third time. The club originally closed in 2010 after seven years in business and then briefly re-opened in the winter of 2012 under new management for a few weeks before shutting down once again. Michael Clarke of T3 Nightclubs, the firm behind the re-opening, said: “We have re-opened and we’re here to stay. We have refurbished the club, we’ve got new sound equipment, new lighting and we’ve got a lot of plans for the future.”
Marston’s submits plan for Leek new-build: Marston’s has unveiled plans for a new-build pub restaurant on the Churnet Works site, off Macclesfield Road in Leek, Staffordshire. The site, which includes a Sainsbury’s superstore which opened in 2013, has recently seen planning approval granted for 39 houses. Marston’s reports the development would lead to 50 new jobs for the area and has applied to Staffordshire Moorlands Council for permission to carry out the work. “The site is within walking distance of surrounding housing, shops and other commercial facilities and has established public transport links with Leek town centre and other nearby towns,” Marston’s said in its application to the council. “Marston’s proximity to the Sainsbury’s superstore and other development emerging on the adjacent business site will encourage linked trips, which will be mutually beneficial and encourage fuel conservation.”
Norfolk operator invests £2m into second site: Norfolk operator Mike Minors has invested £2m into creating a paradise wedding venue and destination pub restaurant in the heart of the Norfolk Broads. Minors, who built his career as managing-director of Hugh J Boswell, an insurance broker in Norwich, has sunk more than £2m into the two-year project to convert the former Eels Foot pub on the bank of Ormesby Broad near Great Yarmouth. The venue, renamed the Boathouse, will provide jobs for 35 full and part-time staff and is being hailed as a symbol of the resurgent confidence in Norfolk tourism. More than 75 weddings have already been booked, with brides being offered the chance to arrive at the venue, in a site of special scientific interest, by Edwardian launch. Minors and his wife Belinda also run the Waterside, a restaurant and boat trip venue on neighbouring Rollesby Broad which they opened after a £500,000 investment four years ago. Minors said: “The Eels Foot came up for sale two years ago and, originally, the idea of buying it was to protect our investment at the Waterside. However, I saw an opportunity to develop it further into a wedding and conference venue as well as retaining the existing pub and restaurant.”
Piccadilly’s Pigalle jazz nightclub re-opens as Werewolf: A jazz nightclub in Piccadilly, central London, Pigalle, re-opened last night as Werewolf, promising to evoke the Rat Pack era mixed with 80s “sleaze” and futuristic holograms. The new venue aims at a “fusion of performance art and clubbing” created by the Tower Hamlets-born brothers Richard, Anthony and Reg Traviss. The 400-capacity venue also uses 3D technology to create projections similar to holograms that will feature on stage alongside performers. Richard Traviss, who previously owned Brown’s in Covent Garden, told the London Evening Standard: “A lot of people from Frank Sinatra to the Beatles have performed here, and we’ve always known about the site and the potential it had. Most nightclubs at the moment are basement-based with low ceilings. This has a unique layout with a mezzanine floor, high ceilings and lots of original art deco architecture, from mirrors to seating. The crowd we’re going to look at are the people who appreciate an artistic show and a creative clubbing experience.” The freehold to the building, on the eastern edge of Piccadilly, is owned by the Crown Estate. The former Pigalle club closed in 2012.
Three brothers plan Chorley’s first micropub: Three brothers have unveiled plans to turn a former newsagents in Chorley, Lancashire into the town’s first micro pub. Stuart, Graham and Thomas Hardyman have submitted a planning application to Chorley Council to turn a former newsagents, in the Shepherds Hall Ale House building on Chapel Street into a bar. The brothers have taken inspiration from a landlord in nearby Leyland who opened a micropub there last year. Thomas, a former employee at BAE Systems, said: “This is a completely new venture for all three of us. We are from the town and we want to bring something different to Chorley.” The micropub is to keep the name Shepherds Hall Ale House.
Spirit converts Derbyshire pub from John Barras brand to Flaming Grill: Spirit Pub Company is converting a John Barras community pub to Flaming Grill brand, creating 25 jobs. The Nags Head, in Mickleover, Derbyshire will close its doors at 8pm on Sunday for 12 days so that it can be refurbished. The pub in Uttoxeter Road will reopen on 9 May. Ben Shaw, general manager of the Nags Head, said the pub would remain “a hub for the community”, still showing televised sports in a bar area for people who just want to relax with a drink.
BrewDog installs fifth brewing vessel, orders canning line: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has installed its fifth brewing vessel at its Ellon brewery and ordered a canning line. The company said: “We’ve just installed a new vessel in our brewhouse, giving us the extra capacity we need to brew enough wort to keep up with the insanely huge demand for our beers. With our fifth vessel, our brewhouse can now brew ten times per day. We’ve ordered our canning line. Hopefully this will be installed and ready to press the start button in time for the summer sun!”
Guyzance Hall buys Scottish borders premier hotel: Ednam House Hotel, a premier hotel on the Scottish borders, has been acquired by the award-winning hotel operator Guyzance Hall through the property agent Christie + Co. The hotel has 32 bedrooms, bar, restaurant and ballroom and is situated in three acres of ground on the banks of the Tweed. Guyzance Hall operates the award-winning Doxford Hall Hotel, Dalhousie Castle Hotel, Eshott Hall and Guyzance Hall, together with a number of venues throughout England. Operations director Eric Kortenbach said the company is planning a major investment in the Ednam House Hotel. Ken Sims, of Christie + Co in Edinburgh handled the sale. He said: “Ednam House is one of Scotland’s premier country house hotels, which has been nurtured and developed over many years.” The sale price of the hotel was not disclosed.
Center Parcs advert banned for encouraging term-time holidays: An advertisement for Center Parcs resorts has been banned for “irresponsibly” encouraging parents to take their children on holiday during term time. The television ad, promoting four-night midweek breaks, showed families with school-age children taking part in various activities, with small print stating that the offer excluded school holidays. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said: “We considered the emphasis of the ad was on a family break and that the overall impression was that families could take advantage of the advertised offer, which was not available at weekends or during school holidays. We also noted the final on-screen text stated “Your family. Your time”, which we considered was likely to be an encouragement for parents to take up the offer.”
Manchester restaurant property sells for £15.9m: The London-based investment fund Mayfair Capital Investment Management has confirmed its £15.9m acquisition of a building in Manchester’s Deansgate housing restaurants. It has acquired the 47,800 sq ft number 86, home to the Mexican restaurant chain Las Iguanas and Cafe Rouge, through its flagship fund, the Property Income Trust for Charities (PITCH). The vendor is understood to be Brooklawn Deansgate, a company controlled by Phil Hodari. The deal reflects a net initial yield of 6.2%. The property produces an annual income of £995,000. Nearby, the 33,400 sq ft 76-80 Deansgate, which is home to La Tasca, The Botanist and the lap dancing bar Baby Platinum, is on the market for £8m.
One in five residents unaware their town has a lap-dancing club: More than a fifth of residents in towns and cities with lap dancing clubs do not know they are there, research by a University of Lincoln academic shows. Lecturer Dr Rachela Colosi, herself a former lap dancer, carried out the research into how clubs were perceived with Professor Phil Hubbard from the University of Kent. Despite the many negative stereotypes of the venues, their research found that more people were concerned with crime, disorder and antisocial behaviour from pubs and clubs than with problems from lap dancing clubs. Colosi, 36, has had an interest in lap dancing and the stigma attached to it for many years. She took up a job as a dancer when she was a student and continued to dance while researching the industry for her PhD. Colosi said: “We looked at four different case studies to gauge how the public felt about clubs. Lap dancing clubs were not seen as the greatest source of nuisance. They are not regarded as a significant source of nuisance by the majority, but a significant minority feel such clubs are inappropriate because they promote sexism. I was surprised as to the extent it was not lap dancing clubs that were seen as the source of antisocial behaviour and crime and disorder.” Only 10% of the 941 respondents to the research survey felt that there was no place for lap dancing clubs in the community.
Starbucks to open first La Boulange outside of San Francisco: Starbucks is planning to open a La Boulange location in Los Angeles, marking the first opening outside of San Francisco. The company has filed building permits for the La Boulange location and was not able to give a specific date for the bakery’s opening. Starbucks, which bought La Boulange bakery owner Bay Bread Group for $100m in 2012, has 22 La Boulange outlets in San Francisco and has national aspirations for the chain.
Subway becomes Liverpool FC’s official training food partner: Subway has signed a multi-year commitment with Liverpool Football Club to become its “official training food” partner. Manaaz Akhtar, regional marketing director for the Subway brand in Europe, said: “As a brand, we are committed to supporting everyone to be more active in their everyday lives and our partnership with Liverpool FC provides us with the perfect opportunity to demonstrate this and take it to the next level. Whether playing at the top of the Premier League or just having a kick about in the park, the Subway brand can offer a wide range of nutritious options to help you deliver your best performance.” Billy Hogan, chief commercial officer for Liverpool FC, said: “ We’ve worked closely with the Subway team over the last few weeks and have seen first-hand value they place on giving back to local communities. We are excited to be joining forces with a global organisation who are just as passionate about making a positive difference to their communities as we are.”
Wadworth to donate penny duty cut to charitable causes: Devizes-based brewer and retailer Wadworth is to donate the penny duty cut on beer in March’s Budget by donating it to charitable causes. Until 30 June, a penny will go to a charity for every pint of draught ale or lager sold in a Wadworth managed house. The pennies will accrue in a house “penny pot” and when customers buy a pint they will receive a voting slip to nominate their favourite charity. The votes will be counted at the end of June and the “penny pot” will be donated to the house charity with the most votes. “We could be helping 44 charities if every managed house decided to nominate a different charity,” said the brewer’s sales and marketing director. Paul Sullivan. “We are delighted that the government listened to the campaign to reduce beer duty which Wadworth actively supported. It will certainly make a difference in the trade and after all, beer drinkers are famous for their active support of local charities.”

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