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Fri 6th Jun 2014 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Carluccio’s to trial three different locations in Washington DC: Carluccio’s will trial three varied locations in Washington DC as part of its US debut. Carluccio’s said last month it would open its first American outlet in Alexandria, six miles south of Washington, but the group plans to open a total of three locations in the US capital, the company told the Washington Business Journal. Simon Kossoff, Carluccio’s chief executive, said the plan was to trial different styles of the Carluccio’s concept, an “upmarket suburban” location (Alexandria), one in an urban setting and possibly one in a mall. Kossoff said: “The plan is to get three up and running and prove the brand which will in turn open up wider opportunities.” The 125-cover, 6,500 sq ft Alexandria restaurant is due to open in the autumn opening. Building work has already started, and plans include a complete interior renovation, including creating an open kitchen, lowering the floors on the ground floor to create a more airy feel and moving the entrance further up the block. The site has been home to several failed restaurants in the past decade, but Kossoff said he was not worried about opening in a so-called “cursed space”. “We’ve opened in a few of those in the UK and they’re no longer cursed,” Kossoff told the newspaper.
   

Industry News:

Douglas Jack – the proposed regulatory code makes a big noise but small impact: Numis Securities’ leisure analyst Douglas Jack has argued that the proposed statutory regulation of tenanted pub companies will have little impact. He said: “As the beer tie has again been vindicated and retained, these proposals should make little practical difference for the quoted operators that already comply with the existing Voluntary Code. We believe estimates on tied versus free-of-tie costs are over-simplistic, utilising questionable data, comparing: wet rent (beer prices) on inconsistent product ranges and dry rent on different levels of asset quality; failing to properly reflect the value of substantial tied support and investment; and failing to reflect differences in risk. Overall, we believe the proposals should have a small negative impact. For Enterprise Inns (Hold; 140p) and Punch Taverns (Hold; 10p), it should bring £0.3-0.7m of extra costs and potentially undermine rent, but not to the extent the government predicts. This would be worthwhile if it could guarantee the end of regulatory uncertainty, but sadly that is not the case.”
   
Camra member – Llanelli pub closures are a worry: The area around Llanelli in Wales is suffering one of the worst pubs closure challenges in the UK. Felinfoel Brewery currently lists 26 pubs on its website as having tenancies available, 13 of which are in the Llanelli area. The chairman of Camra in Carmarthenshire, Barry Norman, said he is worried about the “slow but steady” decline in pubs in the county. “It doesn’t seem to end,” he said.
   
Boris Johnson calls on others to follow Starbucks lead: The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has called for more companies to join Starbucks and New Look under the HeadStart programme, which asks 16 to 18-yea-olds to commit to 16 hours of volunteer work before being guaranteed a job interview with the company. Lisa Robbins, HR director at Starbucks UK, said she is already seeing the benefits: “The calibre of people who are coming through the programme is very strong. Young people with volunteering experience pass four out of five interviews compared to one out of five without.” Johnson said: “I hope that more businesses of all sizes will recognise the benefit of volunteering as a valuable route to enriching their workforce and seeking out prospective new talented employees.”
   
The Independent – ‘industry’s suicidal addiction to debt main reason for pub closures’: The Independent newspaper has backed the government’s proposed statutory regulation of tenanted pub companies and the appointment of an adjudicator. In an opinion editorial, the newspaper said: “The adjudicator will cost about £2m a year when compared to the current system of self regulation, which the BBPA [British Beer and Pub Association] says costs about £100,000. Quite the price hike, then. However, compared to the cost of financing the industry’s debt, it’s no more than a drop in an ocean of stale lager. Punch, for example, recorded underlying financing costs on its £2.25bn debt mountain for the 28 weeks to 1 March of £87.3m. While the BBPA says the 50-pub closure estimate comes from the government’s own figures, that number is still dwarfed by the mass shutdown that’s been occurring up and down Britain as a result of the industry’s addiction to suicidal levels of debt financing combined with catastrophic mismanagement. The measures announced by BIS may ultimately save at least some pubs by levelling the playing field (a bit) between tenants – more than half of whom have been on less than minimum wage – and pub companies. We should raise a glass to that, even if it has taken a while for the pint to be poured.”
   
Tesco weakness is out-of-town superstores: Analysts have suggested that Tesco like-for-like sales may have dropped by 6% at its 238 Tesco Extra superstores and 438 other larger supermarkets as shoppers become reluctant to journey out of town for a bag of groceries. The Times said: “Tesco’s answer is to add restaurant brands and fancy coffee shops. But it will take more than a juicy Giraffe chicken schnitzel to neutralise the combined impact of Aldi, Lidl and shopping from the sofa.” Adam Fowle, the former Mitchells & Butlers executive who now runs Tesco family dining group, told the MultiSite Management Masterclass, organised by Propel and Professor Chris Edgar, that shoppers had begun to view visits to large out-of-tin sites as a chore after they became much larger.
   
Admiral Taverns owner buys Lloyds loan portfolio: The American private equity firm Cerberus, which owns Admiral Taverns, has bought a book of UK commercial property loans from Lloyds Banking Group for £352m, a 34% discount to their gross value. The move makes Lloyds the latest European lender to offload non-core loans onto a private equity firm. Lloyds said the loans had a gross value of 536 million pounds and were being sold to Promontoria Holding 109, an affiliate of Cerberus Global Investors. The portfolio generated a £17m loss last year, Lloyds said. In November, Lloyds sold £812m portfolio of commercial property loans to Cerberus at a 2% discount to their nominal value.
   

Company News:

Shepherd Neame shareholders approve share restructure: Shepherd Neame shareholders have voted in favour of a share restructure with 81% backing a plan to convert all A and B shares to a single class of ordinary share that aligns the economic and voting rights of all shareholders. Former vice-chairman Stuart Neame withdrew a threat to seek an injunction against the move. He argued, though, that the 20% jump in the company’s share price announcement indicated that the market expected a takeover bid.
   
Tim Foster – Charles Wells is an exceptional partner: Yummy Pub Company founder Tim Foster had praised his landlord, the Bedford-based brewer and retailer Charles Wells, in the wake of news that the companies are to open a third pub, the Victoria in Bow, East London. In his blog, Foster said: “With the support of Charles Wells as a partner, not a landlord, I can see nothing but opportunities and growth for Yummy. We’ve both worked incredibly hard at the relationship. It’s not all a bed of roses – it’s professional, honest and business-like. [But] our word is our bond – that’s how we’ve been since day one and I don’t intend to let anybody down. They’re also, in my opinion, the most progressive family brewer in the market. We’ve looked at lots of partners, had many, many conversations, looked at hundreds of pubs, price lists, product lists, support packages and I can’t find better.” Of plans for the new pub, he said: “The old brick building will be getting some much-needed TLC, a makeover for the garden, a new speakeasy in the cellar, a total makeover of the first floor to our Ssshh rooms and plenty more.”
   
Matthew Mooney acquires third Knutsford venue: Restaurateur Matthew Mooney has taken over a third venue in Knutsford, Cheshire, the Freemasons Arms, and is planning a full refurbishment to start at the end of this month. Mooney, who already ran the Belle Epoque restaurant on King Street, acquired the nearby Rose ’n’ Crown pub in March last year and relaunched it as a chop house. Mooney said: “We have enjoyed an incredible 14 months at the Rose ’n’ Crown Chop House, and it is the team there that have led us in to taking over the Freemasons and creating a sister pub. As it is practically a neighbour to us, and adjacent to our own car park, logistically it makes sense. As with the Rose ’n’ Crown Chop House, food will be sourced locally from our well-established network of suppliers and farmers, but the way it will be presented and the surroundings in which you enjoy it, will be quite different. In addition to great food, we shall be offering a broad selection of cask ales, expanding the wine selection and introducing cocktails following our refurb.”
   
Dishoom to open in King’s Cross: Dishoom, the “Bombay cafe” with outlets in Shoreditch and Covent Garden, London, is to open a 9,000 sq ft restaurant in King’s Cross, London. The restaurant will occupy a “heritage” space The Stables, on Stable Street. The Dishoom concept recreates the Irani cafes that were formerly a feature of life in Bombay. The first opened in London in 2010, with the second, in Boundary Street, Shoreditch, opening in 2012. The Stable Street venue, due to open in the autumn, will be Dishoom’s largest to date, and the largest restaurant opening at King’s Cross so far. Dishoom’s founder, Shamil Thakrar, said: “We’re so pleased to be joining this iconic development at King’s Cross and our new restaurant will be as unique as the environment that we’re moving into. We love the rich history of the area, the shared spaces and the growing sense of community – all of which make King’s Cross a perfect fit for us.” The Stables was originally used to house horses to move goods and wagons around the Granary complex from 1850 to 1900 and it retains vaulted brick arches and lofty trusses that speak to its early life as an industrial building. Jessica Marsden-Smedley of Argent, asset manager for King’s Cross, said: “We are delighted to be working with Dishoom in one of the most wonderful and unique spaces within the heritage heart of King’s Cross. The Dishoom team bring a passion for food and culture which makes them the perfect partner to bring the Stables unit to life.”
   
Wetherspoon bids for pub in Wellington old town hall: JD Wetherspoon has applied to Taunton Deane Council for permission to convert the Grade II listed old town hall in Wellington, Somerset into a pub. The plans include seating for more than 120 customers, incorporating a beer garden on the Cornhill side of the building. The bar and kitchen would be on the ground floor with a mix of fixed seating, stools, tables and drinks shelves. Customers will primarily use the main entrance from Fore Street but access would also be available from North Street. A meeting of Wellington Town Council’s planning committee this week saw the majority of councillors agreeing it would benefit the town. The meeting also heard that ITV was looking at opening up a regional hub in the former town hall above the proposed Wetherspoon outlet.
   
Drinks promotion complaint upheld against Utopian Leisure nightclub: A complaint has been upheld against the owner of The Box nightclub at the Odyssey in Belfast about one of its drinks promotions. The Independent Complaints Panel (ICP) administers a code on the promotion and retail of alcohol. It found that a promotion called Loko encouraged irresponsible drinking and used offensive language. The nightclub’s owner, Utopian Leisure, led by Bob Senior, said it believed the promotion was compliant with codes of practice. Utopian Leisure said it had worked with the panel, but believed the promotion, which has ended, was fully compliant with the retail codes of practice.
   
UK brands to feature in new Dubai airport concourse: British brands will feature in the new Concourse D at Dubai International Airport, which is scheduled to open in the first quarter of 2015. Many brands will be appearing in Dubai and, in some cases, the Middle East, for the first time, including celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck, Camden Food Company and Butlers Chocolate Cafe. Other new food outlets include Yo! Sushi and CNN News Cafe, where travellers can stay up-to-date with world affairs, the Lebanese restaurant Sharwarmanji, Taqado Mexican Kitchen and Taste of India. Giraffe will open its second outlet at Dubai International. Other openings include Starbucks, KFC, Krispy Kreme, McDonald’s, Brioche Doree, the Noodle House, Caviar House & Prunier and Costa Coffee. Dubai Airports’ senior vice-president, Eugene Barry, said: “We are passionate about this new offering, and believe it will deliver value and variety. In Concourse D we will offer clear choices for those who want to either relax or refuel, whether travelling alone or in groups.” Once complete, Concourse D will increase Dubai International’s capacity to 90 million by 2018. It will be linked to a refurbished Terminal 1 by an elevated rail system, which will offer transfer times between the two facilities of under two minutes. 
   
Desilu Estates loses London pub licence over ‘illegal’ hostel: Desilu Estates has had the licence of its Lord Brooke pub in Walthamstow, East London revoked over claims of drug dealing and illegal use as an hostel. Waltham Forest Council’s licensing committee was told that the pub was raided by police and council officers in March, who found drugs dealers, drug paraphernalia, and illegal immigrants living upstairs. Desilu Estates took over the running over the pub in 2010. The company applied to turn the pub into a hostel the same year but planning consent was denied. However, during police investigations it was discovered that it had been running an operation called the East London Hostel above the pub. There were four rooms, each with two bunk beds advertised online for £15 per person per night. PC Matt Brown said: “We have absolutely no faith in Desilu. The company lacks the required skills to responsibly manage a pub. It would be very difficult for someone not to notice drug dealing in this pub. I can only imagine that the customers were in control of the pub, not the licensee.” Desilu Estates has 28 days to appeal.
   
Hummingbird Bakery set to open third Dubai site: Hummingbird Bakery, the cupcake specialist operating six premises in London is to open a third site in Dubai and is looking at expansion outside London. A spokeswoman for the bakery chain told the Belfast Business Telegraph: “We currently have six branches in London and two, soon to be three, in Dubai, as such we are looking at other urban areas in the UK for potential opportunities to grow the business.”
   
Big brands join Sutton Coldfield’s drive to set up ‘Restaurant Quarter’: Five restaurant chains have signed up to a bid by the town of Sutton Coldfield to become the Midlands’ latest dining destination with the launch of its own Restaurant Quarter. The five – PizzaExpress, Nando’s, TGI Friday’s, Ask Italian and Jimmy Spice – are among 15 restaurants in the scheme, which has been launched by the Sutton Coldfield Town Centre Business Improvement District (BID). The BID has developed a map directing visitors from Sutton Coldfield’s railway station and car parks to 15 restaurants on or just off the Birmingham Road, including ten independents, as well as recommending pubs and the historic Empire art deco cinema. The Restaurant Quarter has its own logo that will be used for promotion, featuring on outdoor signs, window stickers and leaflets. Mike Bushell, Sutton Coldfield’s town centre manager, said: “We have 15 really good restaurants and there’s an awful lot of competition in the restaurant industry, both within Sutton and the wider area. The great thing here is that we’ve got such a wide range of choices. Not every town can offer tapas as well as Italian, Mediterranean, steak houses, Chinese and curry houses, and the range of budgets is important too.” There are plans to launch a reward card giving incentives to eat in the Restaurant Quarter more often, and the town is also applying for purple flag status, a national standard that signals the success of an area’s night-time economy
   
Opening date set for Arc’s new Pit in Harrogate: Arc Inspiration’s third outlet for it’s the Pit brand is due to open in Harrogate on 28 June, after a £1m investment. Unlike the bar’s new neighbour, the Harrogate branch of Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s Italian, The 7,000 sq ft bar will be partly buried within the newly reconstructed Harrogate House on The Ginnel, off Parliament Street. It will have a main bar, a dining area, two private dining rooms and a games area with table tennis and table football. It will have an “American style” menu and its own house beer, The Pit Canary. Martin Wolstencroft, managing director of Arc Inspirations, which already runs the Banyan Bar on John Street, Harrogate, said: “‘We are really proud to be opening our newest venture in Harrogate. The location of Harrogate House has given us a blank canvas to tailor The Pit to how we like it. We are creating an extraordinary dining and drinking experience that merits its position in the centre of this very special spa town.” The other branches of The Pit are in Merrion Street, Leeds and Chapel Allerton. The new venture takes Arc’s portfolio to 12.
   
Chefs plan quayside pop-up: Two chefs in the small Northumbrian town of Amble are planning a summer pop-up restaurant close to their original outlet. Richard Sim and Martin Charlton, who opened the Old Boathouse bistro in the town last year, have submitted plans to Northumberland Council for a restaurant in a single-storey venue constructed of two containers cut and welded to form a single unit at the Quayside at Warkworth Harbour. It would be open during the summer months, serving local fare and complementing the Old Boathouse, which is nearby. The proposed opening hours are 9am to 9pm, Mondays to Saturdays, and 10am to 8pm on Sundays and Bank Holidays. Sim said: “This restaurant will be something a little bit different. Amble is really taking off and according to statistics, the new harbour village development will bring in 30,000 visitors, so we thought that we should build something else to feed them.”
   
St Austell Brewery joins canned craft beer trend: The craft beer revolution continuing to sweep America has resulted in the unexpected return of the beer can as the container of choice for more than 400 US breweries, and the trend is now crossing the Atlantic. St Austell Brewery has launched its 4.8% craft-brewed Cornish lager, Korev in a 330ml can. Korev (named for the traditional Cornish word for beer) was launched in summer 2010 in a 500ml bottle and on draught in 2011 and has become one of the brewery’s leading brands. Roger Ryman, brewing director and head brewer at St Austell Brewery, said: “During the recent Craft Brewers Conference in Denver in April there was much debate about the move away from bottles. It may seem funny, but the can is back. Historically, traditional independent brewers have used bottles, but our American counterparts are moving away from glass and I think we will see a huge shift to cans over the next few years here in Europe. Often people say that bottles provide a better flavour and that cans give the beer a metallic taste. But this is a misconception, as cans actually maintain the quality of beer far better than a bottle. The metal in a can is given a protective coating to stop any tainting of the liquid. A primary move toward cans stems from the fact they are better for the environment, as there is less packaging waste with no need for labels or bottle tops; cans are 100% recyclable and as they weigh much less than bottles they are easier to transport are more durable and can be taken to places where glass is prohibited.” The rise in the use of cans is also down to the overall costs associated with brewing, which have risen sharply in recent years. Cans also prevent oxidisation, and stop the beer from being affected by the light, which can alter the taste.
   
Build-your-own menu concept set for launch: Entrepreneur Jamie Barr, whose parents oversaw the development of Hazelwood Foods, is to open a new concept with a “design your own” menu at Spinningfields in Manchester, in the former Eat on the Avenue site. It opens open later this month offering healthy food largely using UK-sourced ingredients. The venue has 98 covers and will see a £300,000 investment, opening from 7am to 11pm serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.
   
Hollywood Bowl to open at Cheltenham’s The Brewery: Hollywood Bowl is open at the Brewery complex in Cheltenham, occupying 23,000 sq ft and filling the empty unit previously occupied by Gala Bingo, above Nando’s, Prezzo, Frankie & Benny’s, and Harvester. Hollywood Bowl’s marketing director, James Mawer, said: “We are incredibly excited to be bringing a premium bowling offer to the people of Cheltenham. Our newer concept takes bowling to the next level.” The new bowling venue, expected to open in October 2014, will be the first of its kind in Cheltenham, since Cotswold Bowl closed its doors in 2010. Demelsa Coleman, marketing manager for The Brewery, said: “It’s further proof that The Brewery is the leading destination for entertainment and leisure in Cheltenham town centre.”
   
Just Falafel opens first US restaurant: Just Falafel, the UAE-based fast food chain that has six outlets in the UK, has announced that it has opened its first restaurant in the United States, as part of a major expansion drive in the country. The franchisee-operated restaurant in Fremont, in the San Francisco Bay area, is the first of 160 new restaurants planned for North America over the next five years. The restaurant will launch a new menu, “The Californian”, mixing traditional falafels with fresh beets, cucumber, tomato, mixed salad, beetroot labneh, and a spicy salsa. It will also launch a protein burger, sweet potato waffle fries, a breakfast egg muffin and freshly squeezed juices on its menu. Fadi Malas, Just Falafel’s chief executive, said: “Our love and passion for Mediterranean and vegetarian food is growing and we expect this cuisine to prosper in highly competitive markets such as the US.” The company has signed franchise agreements with partners in New York, New Jersey, Kentucky, Texas and Los Angeles in the US, and in the Greater Toronto area in Canada. It will open branches in Canada this month and New Jersey in August. Last month the company announced plans to open 57 restaurants in Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.
   
Two late-night venues close in Exeter: Exeter’s nightlife scene has suffered a double blow with the apparent closure of two music venues. The Tobacco House on the Quay has announced the cancellation of all future events, just over three months after it opened. It comes just days after Charlie’s Live Lounge in Cowick Street announced its closure via Twitter. The club, which opened in November 2013, previously advertised itself as an-over 25s nightclub but dropped its age limit by seven years in January. The Tobacco House, a 550-capacity entertainment venue and restaurant, opened in the former premises of Havana and Thirst, in Commercial Road, in February. But the venture appears to have been short-lived, with the owners announcing that unspecified problems have put paid to their efforts. Earlier this year the Tobacco House was taken on by Yiannis Solomou, who has many years’ experience in the industry and previously owned a club and restaurant in Plymouth. He said he was keen to establish a major live music and entertainment venue for the city.
   
McDonald’s store in Lincolnshire cuts anti-social behaviour with StaffSafe: The franchisee of the McDonald’s in Ryhall Road, Stamford, Lincolnshire, Matt Jarrett, has reacted to customers’ fears over anti-social behaviour incidents at the restaurant by installing the StaffSafe safety system. Jarrett said: “We were receiving an increasing number of customer comments from people who said that they love to visit our restaurant with their families, but certain groups of youths were making the visit less than pleasant. We do not want to start banning individuals or particular groups of people, so instead we hope that by introducing StaffSafe into the restaurant everyone can enjoy a pleasant and fun experience.” StaffSafe is a safety system which allows restaurant staff to get assistance from an external monitoring company in dealing with disorder and anti-social behaviour in their restaurant at the touch of a button. Once someone hits the button, an operator will advise the staff and can link into the audio and CCTV systems at the restaurant to assist further and make announcements over the restaurant PA. The operator can also call police or other emergency services if required and will stay on the line until the situation is dealt with. Jarrett said since the installation of StaffSafe there has already been an improvement in behaviour at the restaurant. He said: “We have accomplished this by testing the system at peak times and allowing word of mouth to spread the message that we will no longer tolerate our customers being upset and disturbed.”
   
Former Wetherspoon barman opens own brewery – and qualifies as a doctor: A former JD Wetherspoon barman, Adam Hague, has fulfilled two ambitions since leaving the company five years ago. Hague, who worked at the Joseph Bramah in Barnsley while studying at medical school, left to pursue his medical career. He qualified last year and is now a full-time junior doctor. In January this year, Hague also opened his own brewery. Hague, director of the Stancill Brewery, Sheffield, said: “It was while working for Wetherspoon that I gained my passion for real ale and for business enterprising. After I completed my medical degree in 2013, I began working as a full-time junior doctor in Sheffield and, at the same time, opened the brewery, one of the largest in the city by capacity. Opening this brewery in such a prolific city of brewing is one of my proudest moments.”
   
Ryan Giggs wins permission to extend restaurant: Former Manchester United star Ryan Giggs has been granted planning permission to extend the restaurant he runs in Worsley, near Salford with two old school friends. Salford Council passed plans this week for a new first floor dining terrace for 40 diners and an extension to the wine cellar at George’s Restaurant, which is named after the Victorian architect Sir George Gilbert Scott, who built St Mark’s Church in the village. Concerns raised by residents about the application, which also include the relocation of the bin store and fire escape in the historic Victorian building, included parking problems and noise pollution. However, architect Tim Broom, on behalf of Giggs and his partners in the venture, Kelvin Gregory and Bernie Taylor, said noise survey showed the plan was acceptable. The council approved plans for the L-shaped dining area on the condition that it should be open until 10pm Monday to Friday, 11pm on Saturdays and 9.30pm Sundays and bank holidays. George’s, which has a menu created by head chef Andrew Parker, formerly of Michael’s Nook and The Devonshire Arms, both of which have four AA rosettes, now has space for 210 customers.
   
Nigel Haworth advises Brazilian pop-up: Nigel Haworth, boss of Ribble Valley Inns and chef-owner of the Northcote restaurant and hotel near Blackburn, has been advising the entrepreneurs behind a pop-up Brazilian restaurant planned for Lytham St Annes to celebrate the World Cup. BBQ Brasilia will be running at the town’s ParkView4U Cafe from Thursday 12 June to Saturday 14 June. It is the first event organised by a new venture, Bite Club, launched by Grace Hepwood who co-founded the House Pub & Dining Room, an award-winning gastro pub in Islington, London, and the chef Shannon Kuspira, which is looking to run “creative dining opportunities” using pop-up catering in venues around the Fylde coast in Lancashire. Next week’s event involves a sit-down three-course barbecue menu of Brazilian dishes, starting with Brazil’s national cocktail, the Caipirinha. World Cup matches will be shown on a plasma TV each night. Hepwood and Kuspira visited Haworth’s Northcote for tips and guidance, and Kuspira said: “Nigel said Brazilian food is incredibly trendy right now. We talked through our menu with both Nigel and Lisa Allen and they gave us some fantastic advice on the best cuts of meat to use and how to cook it to get it really tender and full of flavour.”
   
Burger King closes Taunton site: Burger King has closed its site on the High Street in Taunton, Somerset. In a statement, the firm said: “In the course of normal business, Burger King Worldwide continuously reviews its restaurant portfolio and makes strategic decisions based on many factors, including market conditions, restaurant profitability, lease length and overall brand presence. We do not comment regarding specific development opportunities.”
   
Rum brand launches first cinema campaign: Kraken Rum, the UK’s fastest-growing spiced rum brand, has launched a six figure cinema and digital advertising campaign. The new commercial was animated by Blur Studio, the CGI powerhouse behind the bleeding-edge animation featured in films like “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and “Avatar” and games like “BioShock Infinite” and “Halo 4”. The spot was produced by New York based agency Dead As We Know It (DAWKI). The brand, distributed by Proximo Spirits UK, launched in the UK three years ago and is currently recording 50% growth year-on-year.
   
Backpacker’s hostel plan in Norwich stalls: A plan to convert a prime riverside site in Norwich that includes the former Ferry Boat pub into the city’s first backpackers’ hostel has stalled. Father and son Alister and Jason Borthwick, who created the award-winning Deepdale Farm campsite on the north Norfolk coast, hoped to open the hostel. Now it could be turned into a residential development, after it was sold for more than £500,000. The King Street site has full planning permission for a five-storey warehouse-style building over the existing car park, and a complete refurbishment of the existing pub and the boat house that runs down to the River Wensum. The 0.44 acre site was marketed by Arnolds Keys, with a freehold guide price of £575,000. Craig Knights, a partner with the firm, said: “Although the new owners have not put in a formal planning application, they will probably be looking for other, denser uses for the site. It’s not going to be a backpackers’ hostel. However, I understand that the new owners could work something into the scheme along the lines of a local facility such as a cafe or restaurant.” The Ferry Boat was one of the most popular rock music venues in Norwich before it closed in 2006, and the Grade II listed pub has been vacant ever since. Planning permission was granted in 2011 to build a 45-bedroom independent backpackers’ hostel, a cafe overlooking the river, cycle and canoe hire barn, and a four-bedroom flat on the site.

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