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Mon 9th Jun 2014 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Simon Emeny – Fuller’s now selling one million cups of coffee a year: Fuller’s chief executive Simon Emeny has told Propel that coffee sales at the company have now hit almost one million cups a year, a four times increase in the figure four or five years ago. The company, which introduced its own coffee brand, Brewer Street, a couple of years ago, will open a stand-alone coffee unit next to a pub in Ealing in the coming year, which will primarily be used for training staff. “We will not be rolling out a coffee shop chain,” said Emeny. Fuller’s increased capital expenditure 29% to £38.1m in its most recent financial year – and Emeny said the company already had £36m ear-marked to invest in the current financial year, a figure likely to rise to above £38.1m as new projects are secured during the course of the year. The company will also create 15 bedrooms at its Mad Hatter pub in Blackfriars Bridge to add to its existing 622 boutique bedroom. The company stated: “We pride ourselves on offering a better experience and our added design touches ensure we stand out from the bland, standardised offerings that characterise parts of the British hotel scene.” Emeny told Propel: “It about quality rather than quantity – opening bedrooms in the right area.”

Company News:

Good Life Group adds eighth Diner site: The Good Life Group, operator of seven American-style diners in and around Central London, has completed on its eighth site. Located near Dalston Junction on The Kingsland Road, the former East Garden Noodle Bar will be re-branded during a 12-week refurbishment program. The site offers 2,400 square foot of trading and ancillary areas over ground floor and basement. The site is circa 1.5 miles north of the first Good Life Diner site, which opened in Shoreditch in 2006. Securing a site in Dalston follows the tradition of the group opening in areas with ‘great future potential, alongside opening in established locations’. The seventh Diner site opened in November last year in Spitalfields Market.
JD Wetherspoon pays £600,000 reverse premium to exit site: JD Wetherspoon has paid a reverse premium of more than £600,000 to exit the lease on its underperforming Swiss Cottage O2 leisure centre site in London. The reverse premium was paid to Land Securities, which was advised by agent AG&G. “The deal has worked for both parties,” said AG&G director Anthony Alder. “Wetherspoon can now concentrate their energies on other, more profitable sites, while Land Securities has 12,000 square feet of space on the first floor of the complex. Anchored around cinemas, the O2 also attracts an affluent demographic for its shopping and gyms, so the space will be refurbished into two or three units to serve them, such as Byron and Pizza Pomodoro.”
Wetherspoon lines up tenth Northern Ireland opening: JD Wetherspoon is planning to open a second pub in Belfast, located in Royal Avenue, according The Belfast Telegraph. The opening could coincide with the arrival of tens of thousands of students, who will move in as part of the University of Ulster’s relocation from Jordanstown into the city centre. Construction of the new campus has already begun and is expected to be complete by 2018. The Belfast Telegraph reports that the company is buying a former JJB store next to CastleCourt shopping centre, which will be its tenth pub in Northern Ireland. Company spokesman Eddie Gershon said it was keen to open new pubs in Northern Ireland but he would not comment on the specific site.
Yum! Brands trials banh mi sandwich shop concept: Yum! Brands, parent company of KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, is trialing an Asian sandwich concept called Banh Shop in Dallas, Texas, according to US media reports. The store is selling banh mi, a type of Vietnamese sandwich based on baguette-like loaves filled with items such as grilled pork, sardines in tomato sauce, brawn, pickled carrots and fried eggs. Dallas is the home of Yum!’s New Concept team, which trialed another new venture, Super Chix, selling chicken burgers, earlier this year.
BrewDog reports profit surge: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has reported a surge in turnover and profit in 2013. Turnover rose 70% to £18.1m in the year to 31 December 2013, compared to £10.7m in the previous year. Pre-tax profit rose 385% to £2.4m. The company raised £4.25m during the year, which will enable production capacity to rise to 250,000HL from 25,000HL. Co-founder James Watt said: “While tired pubs face closure and big breweries report disappointing sales, the craft beer revolution has never been stronger.” The company will open 11 bars and five beer shops this year.
Glendola Leisure caps Covent Garden rent increase at 11%: Glendola Leisure has capped its rent review increase on The Crown & Anchor in Covent Garden, an Enterprise Inns pub acquired in October last year, to 11%. AG&G director Anthony Alder, who acted on behalf of Glendola, said: “We demonstrated that an excessive rent rise would be in nobody’s interest and the landlord accepted 11%. Both parties were satisfied with that. We know the local market in detail, down to individual streets, and were able to detail realistic trading expectations for the specific property. If you present an argument based on solid fact, rather than market averages, people will come to a fair figure – as this case demonstrates.”
Cubitt House Group plans Kings Cross opening: Cubitt House, which operates four high-end gastro-pubs with bedrooms, including The Grazing Goat and The Orange, is to open a fifth site next year in the redeveloped King Cross area. It will open a three storey bar, pub and restaurant complex in a building called The Pavilion. The new pub is likely to be called The Lighterman after workers who operated flat-bottomed barges on the Thames and in the Docks and will open in 2015. Food writer and former restaurateur Nick Lander, who is advising Kings Cross developer Argent, told The London Evening Standard: “Less than ten years ago this area was so dangerous it was said to have more CCTV cameras than anywhere else in Europe. Now people are moving in to work and study on a large scale. The plan is not to duplicate what is elsewhere but concentrate on independents and small groups – we want to bring in different flavours and different cultures.”
Douglas Jack – we’re upgrading our Fuller’s forecast by 2.5%: Numis Securities leisure analyst Douglas Jack has upgraded his Fuller’s forecast by 2.5% – and issued a Target Price of 1050p – after last Friday’s results. He said: “Full year adjusted PBT rose 10% to £34.1m (we forecast £33.0m; consensus was also at £33.0m). Due to this outperformance, expansion/refurbishment activity picking up and early 2015E managed like-for-like sales being up 8.0%, we are upgrading our forecasts by 2.5%. We reiterate our ‘Add’ recommendation. We are upgrading our forecasts by 2.5% (2015E PBT from £34.5m to £35.3m; consensus £34.5m) reflecting 2014 being ahead, a pick-up in expansion and refurbishment activity as well as strong recent trading. With five new managed pubs already scheduled for 2015E (versus four in 2014), we believe forecast risk remains on the upside.”
Losses on pub lease push Gordon Ramsay’s company into the red: A £6.7m provision on the lease of the York and Albany pub in London has pushed Gordon Ramsay’s company, Kavalake, into the red. The company made a loss of £6.4m on sales up 4% to £44.8m in the year to August 2013 – total one-off provisions were £9m. Exceptional costs to the company included £2m of legal expenses. The company is pursuing legal action over the lease. Ramsay’s business partner Stuart Gillies told The Sunday Times there was no reason why “we can’t do 50 new restaurants over the next five years”. The company is planning openings in Singapore and Macau as well as more openings in the US after the success of three outlets in Las Vegas. In the UK, a new restaurant off Regent Street is due to be unveiled as well as a new venue on the site of his debut restaurant, Aubergine, in Chelsea.
Antic London opens Deptford site: Antic London, led by Anthony Thomas and backed by Downing, has opened a new site, The Job Centre, on Deptford High Street. Prior to the opening, there was only one pub left open on the High Street, the Vietnamese-owned White Swan, previously a big old Irish bar. The company states: “Only a stone’s throw away from the newly developed Deptford train station, The Job Centre boasts a spacious bar, lounging and dining area on street level and creative events space and private hire room on the upper floor, allowing it to cater for all its community needs. Opening with the bar first, the kitchen will follow suit, serving snacking plates and hearty main dishes with a contemporary twist on British pub food.”
McDonald’s to celebrate four decades in the UK next month with a party at City Hall: McDonald’s will mark four decades of trading in the UK next month with a party at City Hall. Evening Standard columnist Lucy Tobin said: “The party is hosted by the Greater London Authority – the same politicians who are warning that children in London are more likely to be overweight or obese than children in the rest of England, that the capital has more fast-food outlets per secondary school than any other part of the country, and that a fast-food outlet within 0.1 miles of a school increases the probability of child obesity by 5%. How lucky, then, for those confused GLA politicians, that McDonald’s will be handing out champers to the London Assembly within their own offices. Yes, the fast-food chain is a big London employer that does at least pay its dues in tax. But some of our politicians are leaping into bed with calorie-pushing corporates while publicly claiming to be promoting a healthy diet.”
Red Car Pubs launches Orderella: Orderella, the leading mobile ordering app which allows its customers to order and pay for drinks and food with their phone, has launched at the chain of six Red Car Pubs based in the City of London. Red Car Pubs is the latest in a string of successes for the Orderella team, after recent launches with Oakman Inns, Bar Sport and Star Pubs. Tony Barry, owner of Red Car Pubs, said: “Red Car Pubs are popular with City workers and during the summer months, it’s crucial for us to serve all of our customers quickly after their day at work. We’re delighted to be offering the latest ordering technology as we know that it will enable our customers to feel completely relaxed by avoiding busy queues.”
Scoff & Quaff invests in loyalty scheme: The Scoff & Quaff group, which operates six pubs, has invested over £3,000 in a customer-focussed initiative, which will offer regulars savings on food and drinks. The Worcestershire-based pub operator has a portfolio of premises across Worcester, Bromsgrove, Leamington Spa and Cheltenham, including the historic Crown and Sandys in Ombersley. Customers in the new Loyalty Scheme, a first for the group, can sign up for the swipe-card for free – during each pub visit points can be accumulated equal to two% of their total bill. The unveiling of the new scheme is the latest investment by Scoff & Quaff and closely follows the recent £70,000 overhaul of The Kings Head in Worcester, which also created ten new jobs. Nick Mossop, director at Scoff & Quaff, said: “The Loyalty Scheme is about rewarding our regulars. We focus on giving a first-class service to our customers and great hospitality. But the new scheme aims to take things further. It will save people money and is already proving to be a hit for those who are redeeming their points when they visit for special occasions. From a business perspective, the new scheme will also help us build more knowledge about our customers and their preferences. That will help our head chefs with planning menus – keeping favourite dishes or introducing something new.” Mossop, who co-owns Scoff & Quaff with business partners Brian Hulme and Stephen Ballard, said the Loyalty Scheme will also see seasonal rewards and special offers being released at certain times of the year.
Chaophraya opens first Thaikhun: Chaophraya has opened its first Thaikhun fast casual offshoot, inspired by the street food stalls of Bangkok. Co-owner Kim Kaewkraikhot said she trawled markets and her family’s own homes in Thailand to create the perfect interior of the new venue on Spinningfields. Kaewkraikhot devised the menu from her cooking roots in Thailand and shipped over decorations to create the eclectic interior of the restaurant.
YO! Sushi – Heathrow opening designed to meet passenger needs: YO! Sushi has reported that its new restaurant at Heathrow Terminal 2: The Queen’s Terminal has been designed to meet passenger needs – offering quirky pod seating, circular takeaway fridges and innovative service. The new 2,000 square foot restaurant has a circular takeaway counter and for the first time ever at YO! Sushi, airline passengers are able to pre-order their food online before they arrive, ensuring their takeaway order will be ready to pick up in-store as soon as they come through security.
Mitch Adams takes over reins at Bull brewpub in Highgate: Mitch Adams, formerly of the Thatchers Arms in Mount Bures, Essex, is taking over the reins at The Bull, the London Brewing Company’s brewpub in Highgate, North London. The move comes as LBC owner Dan Fox takes over his second outlet, the Bohemia in North Finchley, with plans to turn that into a brewpub as well. Adams said: “This is exactly the opportunity I was looking for upon leaving The Thatchers. They’re both stunning pubs and I am really proud to be joining such an exciting company and to be part of its growth. The Bull is already a much-loved, vibrant and thriving ‘country pub’ in North London. There is a brilliant team behind it, serving some of the best food and beer in the area. Look out for more food pairing dinners, tasting events and maybe even our first beer festival, too.”
Turtle Bay seeks opening in Preston: Turtle Bay, the Caribbean-themed restaurant chain, is looking to open in Preston, Lancashire. The chain has applied to Preston Council for a licence for an site at Crystal House on Cheapside close to the Flag Market, and has already started recruiting staff for the planned outlet. No details on when the restaurant might open, in what was formerly a charity shop, have been released, but the licensing application says Turtle Bay wants to stay open from 10am until midnight on from Sunday to Thursday and until 1am on Fridays and Saturdays. The brand already has outlets in eight sites in towns and cities including Milton Keynes, Southampton, Bristol, Leicester, Leamington Spa, Birmingham and Nottingham. A Preston councillor, Drew Gale said: “I’m always happy to welcome new businesses into the city centre, it helps with the local economy and jobs.” 
Gourmet burger joint to open in former Little Chef: A “gourmet takeaway burger” entrepreneur is opening his first restaurant in a former Little Chef outlet in Burnley, Lancashire that has been closed for the past four years. David Hankerson is set to launch his own diner in the former Little Chef building after the success of his takeaway, Kenank’s, which is styled on the hit US food show Man versus Food. Hankerson said: “The business is doing really well. Sometimes the wait on food can be quite long, because we have so many orders and we only have one grill and two friers. The takeaway will become so much better when the restaurant opens. We want to be bigger and better.”
Marston’s to invest multi-millions in Waterloo site: The Fire Station in Waterloo will close for a major refurbishment project. Operated by the Revere premium pubs and bars division of Marston’s, the bar and restaurant will re-open in late 2015 with a brand new look following a multi-million pound investment. The 4,700 square foot, 200-cover building will undergo extensive restructuring work, as well as new décor throughout and upgraded food and drink menus. Managing director Colin Sadler said: “The Fire Station has always performed very well but the time has come for significant investment. We are looking forward to welcoming back our customers next year to a better than ever Fire Station.”

Fire and Feathers to open this month: Fire and Feathers, a new restaurant and bar devoted to authentic Portuguese piri-piri chicken, is to open on 17 June on the Fulham Road. It will specialise in serving spatchcocked chicken, with a selection of spicy hot sauces, served informally on platters to share. Fire and Feathers will use only specially sourced small style chicken, sourced within the UK, with an average weight of 600g for optimum flavour. Also on the menu will be sharing starters of garlic prawns, chorizo, and cold meats; main dishes include steak Bavette, sea bass and a signature chicken sandwich as well as four types of salads, for those who are vegetarian.
Ossett to open fifth Hop: Ossett Brewery is to open its fifth Hop bar and restaurant, in The Old Tramshed in Saltaire, Yorkshire. The brewery will be spending £200,000 installing a wood-burning pizza oven, a new stage and dance floor and an outside seating area. The Hop Saltaire will also be the second, after the Hop York, to have an eco-friendly wood fired pizza oven burning sustainable sources for making stone-baked rustic Italian pizzas. Jamie Lawson, managing director of Ossett Brewery, said: “We’re proud to be re-launching The Old Tramshed site in Saltaire. We’re well aware of our building’s history and importance to the local community and are excited to introduce something a little different to the venue. While there is no doubt that there is a lot of love for the bar locally, in recent years it has been somewhat neglected so we have invested carefully to ensure we not only provide great food, drinks and entertainment but also that the interior design is brought up to the highest quality. Simple things like new roofing and windows will ensure the venue stands for another 100 years, enriching the building’s history even further. We believe the refurbishment has a real wow factor that we sincerely hope everyone will love, and the new interior design reflects the high standard the Hop concept has been founded on.” Ossett runs a dozen pubs, including three leased from Punch Taverns, as well as Hop bar-restaurants in Leeds, Sheffield, York and Wakefield.
Multi-site operator takes fifth site in Berkshire: PS – the Pub Company Limited has taken a second pub with Star Pubs & Bars, The Red Lion on the High Street in Bracknell, bringing its current estate to a total of five sites. The pub, which reopened this week, has been renamed Blue’s Smokehouse, a new American-themed brand that PS – the Pub Company Limited intends rolling out to other sites. It has invested £250,000 on refurbishing the pub to recreate the relaxed feel of the American South, including cladding part of the exterior in distressed wood to create a traditional smoke shack. Blue’s Smokehouse features a 700 square foot bar focusing on lagers, continental beers and real ales, an authentic 140-seater American BBQ restaurant and an Italian/American ice cream bar also selling milk shakes and smoothies. Blue’s Smokehouse will also offer live music featuring the Blues, soul, Bluegrass and even Country music. The operator was attracted by The Red Lion’s prominent position at the southern gateway to Bracknell town centre, which is set to benefit from a £750 million redevelopment. Said Carlos Maidana, director of PS – the Pub Company: “The cost of pub ownership is high. Leasing provides a low cost way of expanding our business and getting great sites in prime locations such as The Red Lion. Star Pubs & Bars’ support of our new concept and flexibility in the way they work have made our development at Bracknell possible. We are great believers in the wet trade. Everyone bangs on about food, food, food, but it’s actually far more cost effective to deliver a great wet offering, the food should be a balance to a great bar and Star Pubs & Bars association with Heineken has been a real asset.”
Masterchef wins slider competition: 2011 Master chef winner Tim Anderson has been named the Slider Decider 2014 champion. Fifteen of the UK’s most creative chefs took part in the competition at The Gun Docklands, but it was Anderson’s “Dalstonburg Disaster” that was crowned best of the bunch by judges Rebecca Seal of Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch, restaurant critic Tracey MacLeod from The Independent, London Evening Standard’s Food Editor Victoria Stewart and editor of Restaurant magazine Stefan Chomka. Anderson’s winning creation combined a host of impressive ingredients: a craft beer gua bao-style bun, Kewpee mayo and gochujang hispi cabbage slaw, aged mince with bone marrow and umami butter, craft beer burger cheese, brisket braised in craft beer, chipotle, and tonkotsu ramen broth, fried fermented onions, fermented heritage carrot and locally foraged seasonal nasturtium burger sauce.
Father and son cafe bar owners launch third site: Dan Brown and his father Dean, who own two Browns Cafe Bistro and Bar outlets in Mansfield and Newark, Nottinghamshire, have opened a third venue in West Bridgford. The Parlour cafe bistro and bar, on Bridgford Road, is only just open, but has outperformed “all our other venues at the same stage by some considerable margin,” Dan Brown said. “We have been overwhelmed by the Parlour’s popularity and it all points to a positive future for the venue.” Brown said he and his father had plans to open another venue in Nottingham city centre in the near future. Leah McSherry from Cleggs Solicitors, who acted for the Browns in negotiations with the landlord, said: “We are definitely very busy with commercial property work at the moment, which is a sign that the sector has picked up.”
New restaurant planned for Belfast women’s fashion site: The fashion chain SuperGroup has lodged a planning application to convert the SuperDry Womenswear Outlet store in Royal Avenue, Belfast into a two-floor restaurant and apparently failing to find tenants who wanted to run it as a shop. Nigel Jobson, head of property at SuperGroup, said the store had been marketed “without much joy”. Despite the application for a change of use, he said no agreement had yet been made with any restaurateurs to operate in the listed building, which it occupies on a leasehold basis. If approved, the application would permit a restaurant on the ground and first floor of the listed building, at 73-87 Royal Avenue. The Belfast Telegraph restaurant critic Joris Minne said another new restaurant could only be a good thing. Around 15 new restaurants had opened in Belfast since before Christmas, he said. “I believe the more the better because it’s good for the customer in terms of choice but also in terms of Belfast’s reputation as a foodie destination.” The lower end of Royal Avenue was “kind of a forgotten part of the city centre and anything that encourages footfall should help drive further regeneration into that area,” he said.
Marston’s promises to start work on Rutland new-build: Pub chain Marston’s has confirmed it is likely to start work on a new venue as part of the Oakham Heights development in Oakham, Rutland in the next year, two-and-a-half years after it was granted planning approval. Developer Larkfleet was given permission for a 60-bed hotel at the same time. The company has said it is still looking for a partner for the development before work starts. The green light for building work was given in April 2012. However, the developer BBE Corby Ltd wanted to wait until the first phase of the 1,100-home estate had been built before it started work.
Three London restaurants stop serving rabbit over cruelty claims: Three restaurants in London have stopped serving rabbit dishes after it was claimed the animals were being subjected to animal cruelty. Terrace, at the National Theatre, Los Molinos, in Hammersmith, and The Queen’s Head and Artichoke, near Regent’s Park, have all stopped buying the meat after cutting contact with their suppliers. A two-year investigation carried out by charity Animal Equality went undercover to expose conditions at four slaughterhouses and 72 farms in Spain. The charity posted a graphic video of the appalling conditions rabbits were forced to live in. Footage shows the animals being smashed against the ground, hanging alive from a fence and cooped up in dirty pens.
McDonald’s closes Chiswick branch over ‘changing trading patterns’: McDonald’s has closed its branch in Chiswick High Street, West London after more than 30 years because of what the chain called “changing trading patterns”. The area has see an influx of more up-market eateries in recent years, including branches of Hare and Tortoise, Jackson & Rye, Pho, Byron, Vinoteca, Bill’s and Villagio. McDonald’s said: “This is not a decision we have taken lightly but it has become apparent that trading patterns in the area have changed and therefore we have taken the difficult decision to cease trading at this site. We are pleased to say that all staff have been offered transfers to neighbouring restaurants and would like to thank all of our customers who have supported the restaurant over the years.” The nearest stores are the drive-through McDonald’s in High Street, Brentford, which was awarded a “gold” status for its toilets earlier this year, and the McDonald’s on the High Street in Acton, both more downmarket areas than Chiswick.
Costa Coffee opens second store in Alnwick: Costa Coffee opened its second store in Alnwick, Northumberland (population: 7,950), on Saturday. The new store is at Alnwick Motorway Services, at Cawledge, attached to the Shop ’n’ Drive store at the Rontec-operated garage. It has seating for 42 people, opens from 6am to 10pm daily and offers Wi-Fi. The coffee shop is the latest addition to the Cawledge site, which is also home to the Hog’s Head Inn and has outline planning permission for a fast-food drive-through. Costa already has premises in Bondgate Within in Alnwick.
South Korean coffee chain prepares to challenge Starbucks around the world: The South Korean coffee chain Caffe Bene, which has opened more than 900 outlets on its home turf since the first in 2008, is preparing to take on Starbucks in the US, with plans to have 10,000 locations globally within six years. The chain’s founder and chief executive, Kim Sun-kwon, started up at a time when Starbucks had 600 outlets in South Korea. Caffe Bene has since passed the Starbucks total, and is now looking to open 600 outlets of its own in the US to add to the 1,500 it currently has world-wide. The first US Caffe Bene opened in Times Square in New York in 2012, and the chain now has 13 stores in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and Dallas, with plans for 86 US stores by the end of this year. It claims its USPs compared to its rivals such as Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts are a service-oriented franchise business model, a worldlier menu selection and elevated ambiance. John Barry, US director of franchising for Caffe Bene, said: “We believe we have a better mousetrap than what’s currently out there,” pointing to the coffee shop’s desire to create an environment that feels more like entering someone’s living room rather than another grab-and-go retail offer in the middle of a hectic city. As well as the traditional coffee menu, Caffe Bene’s international menu includes Belgian waffles, Italian gelato, fresh sandwiches, bubble tea and traditional Korean desserts such as misugaru, a drink made with rice and barley, and patbingsu, a shaved ice dessert with sweet toppings. Barry said: “We’ve seen great successes with those kinds of dishes, which we originally felt would be a little intimidating to people who weren’t familiar with them.”

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