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Wed 11th Jun 2014 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Big-name investors rush to back £1m Chilango ‘burrito bond’: Big-name investors behind Chilango, the award-winning Mexican food chain, including Simon Kossoff, chief executive of Carluccio’s and Chris Moore, former chief executive of Domino’s Pizza, rushed to back the brand’s £1m Mini-Bond yesterday, signing up within the first few hours of subscriptions opening. As well as Kossoff and Moore, other well-known names from the hospitality sector who were already Chilango investors and who had signed up to its Mini-Bond before 1pm yesterday included Kevin Bacon, former managing director of Jamie’s Italian International, Mike Dowell, former managing director of Costa Coffee, Don Henshall, former chief executive of Krispy Kreme, Laurie Morgan, former vice-president of marketing, McDonald’s UK and Frank Bandura, chief finance officer at Carluccio’s. Founders Eric Partaker and Dan Houghton, who started Chilango – slang for someone from Mexico City – in 2007 and now run seven fast-food Mexican restaurants around central London, are looking to raise £1m through the bond, the first Mini-Bond to be launched through the crowd-fundraising site Crowdcube, to help roll out more restaurants across the capital. Two more openings are already lined up, in Brewer Street, Soho and Camden High Street, with an offer accepted on a tenth site. Each new restaurant costs around £500,000 to launch, the company says. The bond offers investors 8% fixed interest per annum over its four-year term, with a £500 minimum subscription and the initial investment repaid in one lump sum at the end of the term. However, Mini-Bonds are unsecured, non-convertible and non-transferable and regarded as risky. By 5pm yesterday the bond had already attracted £146,000 from 35 investors, with the largest single investment being £50,000. The invitation period for investors runs for 60 days, and the first 100 investors in the Burrito Bond will be invited to an exclusive bondholder party at one of the company’s restaurants. The minimum target for the bond is £500,000 and the maximum £3m.
   

Industry News:

Luke Johnson – the planet is awash with capital and asset values are at record levels: Sector investor Luke Johnson has argued that the globe is awash with capital looking for a home after central banks began money supply stimulus in the wake of the 2008 crash. In his Financial Times column, he wrote: “Is there just too much capital? Asset prices are at record highs – be it London property or stock market indices – yet still the surpluses rise. What is happening? In a world with no scarcity of finance, then assets in limited supply are bid up in price ever further. Fast-growing companies, rare chunks of real estate, fine art, businesses with high and sustainable margins and quasi-monopolies. Given the stratospheric prices being paid now for such desirable nuggets, their prospects for future performance must be doubtful unless there is further earnings multiple expansion, or the equivalent. Valuations have probably never been higher relative to traditional metrics. Weight of money seems the principal driver of asset price appreciation in this era. While the statistics suggest corporate profitability is at high levels, on the ground I see more competitive business conditions than ever before. Costs are inflating and rivals are more prevalent. Unsurprisingly our firm experiences more bidders in auctions for attractive companies than ever before. One suspects that some acquirers are doing deals for the sake of it. It cannot help that the level of corporate transactions has not recovered as expected: in the UK in the first quarter of this year, merger and acquisition activity was at a record low. Instead of selling out, owners were doing initial public offerings on the stock market.”
   
Landlords face ‘unlimited’ fines for selling alcohol to under-18s: Magistrates’ courts are set to be given the power to levy unlimited fines for the first time for crimes that include selling alcohol to under-18s. The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 allowed for magistrates to be given the power to impose unlimited fines for some offences, but the government is only now tabling legislation to put that into effect. While most magistrates’ court fines are going up fourfold, those regarded as the most serious crimes dealt with in the lower courts, which at present attract penalties of up to £5,000 or more, and which include selling alcohol to children, will now have no ceiling on the possible fine. The justice minister, Jeremy Wright, said the dramatic rise, the first since 1991, would give magistrates the “greater powers” needed to punish offenders. The vast majority of offences under the Licensing Act 2003 are affected by the changes. The increase in the levels of fines will also apply to a number of offences under the Companies Act 2006 for which directors may be found liable, such as a failure to lay accounts and reports and a failure to deliver an annual return, as well as other criminal offences directors and businesses could commit, including under health and safety legislation. The new levels of fines still have to be approved by Parliament.
   
Cut rates burden on licensed hospitality, ALMR urges government: The current business rates system needs “root and branch reform” to reduce the burden on licensed hospitality, the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) has told the government. The government’s consultation on the administration of business rates, which invited ideas from stakeholders on long-term reform to the way in which rates are set and processed, closed on 6 June, though any changes will not take effect until after 2017. The ALMR’s strategic affairs director, Kate Nicholls, said: “The ALMR is urging the government to go further than an administrative review and press ahead with root and branch reform. Changes to the system need to be brought in coincide with the 2015 revaluation and shouldn’t wait until 2017. We want to ensure that this is a genuine tax on business, not just a property tax and that the burden of raising funds is shared more equitably. Pubs bear a disproportionate burden compared with online or retail. At present, pubs are paying 15p per pint in business rates compared to around 5p in supermarkets. There needs to be a far greater degree of consistency and fairness when it comes to calculating valuations which underpin the method for calculating rates. Rateable value is supposed to be based on assumptions of fair maintainable trade, which value property equally irrespective of occupier, but increasingly actuals are being used, which penalises successful pubs. There is also a lack of transparency regarding the methodology for determining rates for individual pubs.”
   
Sky launches dedicated European football channel: Sky has launched what it says is the first-ever television channel dedicated to European football. Sky Sports commercial customers will receive the new channel, Sky Sports 5, from 12 August as part of their existing subscription. Sky Sports 5 will screen more than 600 live European football matches next season, including UEFA Euro 2016 qualifiers, UEFA Champions League, La Liga and Copa del Rey, and exclusive live coverage of the top division in the Netherlands, Eredevisie, plus other European football programming including Champions League Weekly. Sky Sports 5 is being launched this week, backed by a nationwide marketing campaign starring David Beckham.
   
Chili’s installs more than 45,000 tablets in 823 restaurants: The American fast-food restaurant chain Chili’s has just completed the largest rollout of tabletop tablets in the United States, installing more than 45,000 Ziosk tablets in 823 company-owned restaurants. Austen Mulinder, chief executive of Ziosk, said: “This rollout marks the first time a restaurant company has installed communal tablets at this scale, and we were able to complete it two months ahead of schedule, bringing up to 6,600 tablets online per day. We are focused next on installing Ziosk in the remaining franchise-owned Chili’s. By this fall, guests at nearly every Chili’s in the country can place orders, play games and pay their checks from our tabletop tablets.” Ziosk’s seven-inch tablets let Chili’s customers to easily browse the menu, order drinks and desserts and quickly pay their bills. Ziosk tablets also feature entertainment, including news from USA Today and interactive games. The company now has 95% of the installed tabletop menu, ordering, entertainment and payment market in the US, totalling more than 55,000 tablets across 46 states and more than 1,000 restaurants. On average, 80% of guests in a Ziosk-enabled restaurant use the tablet, and over 60% of credit card users opt to pay their bill through Ziosk.
   

Company News:

Subway loses hot sub VAT case: Subway has lost its battle with HM Revenue & Customs after failing to convince a court that toasted subs are the same as cold sandwiches. The company had won the right to take a test case to the Court of Appeal, despite a judge ruling in October 2013 that it is fair to levy a 20% sales tax on toasted subs. Subway argued this interpretation of the law is illegal because it puts them at an unfair disadvantage when competing with other high-street fast food rivals, such as pasty shops. The dispute centred on the definition of hot food. Items that retain heat from the cooking process – such as a pasty baked on the premises and left to cool while on display – have traditionally not been classed as hot food and so escape the tax. More than 1,000 franchisees were involved in the action. The ruling is expected to be worth £1bn to the public purse.
   
Coca-Cola to launch first new cola for eight years in the UK: Coca-Cola is to launch the first new cola in eight years in the UK – a naturally sweetened drink that will contain a third less calories and sugar. Coca-Cola Life, which is sweetened with a blend of sugar and stevia leaf extract, will go on sale in the UK in September following a trial in Argentina and Chile. Stevia leaf is naturally sourced from the stevia plant, which is native to South America. A 330ml can of Coca-Cola Life will contain 89 calories and 22.1 grams of sugar – Regular Coca-Cola has 35 grams of sugar. Coca-Cola Life is the first launch in the UK since Coca-Cola Zero in 2006.
   
Simon Emeny – The Stable serves the best pizza I’ve ever eaten: Fuller’s chief executive Simon Emeny has told Propel that six-strong The Stable brand, in which the company has acquired a 51% stake, serves the best pizza he has ever tasted. “These are craft cider and pizza restaurants with a bar serving draught products – they have the feel of a really sociable pub.” Emeny said Fuller’s had been watching the UK market evolve and The Stable premium pizza and cider offer was in line with key trends. Fuller’s has spent five months forging a relationship with founders Richard and Nikki Cooper. “Richard and Nikki have identified a number of new sites, including one in Falmouth,” said Emeny. “This is a sensible extension for us – our premium pubs are getting close and closer to becoming restaurants. First and foremost with The Stable is that its pizzas are simply outstanding – I’ve never eaten a pizza as good.”
      
Robinsons – we will re-build fire-destroyed Lake District pub: Stockport-based brewer and retailer has vowed to rebuild the Queen’s Head Hotel in Troutbeck, Cumbria, which was destroyed by fire at the weekend. At its height, 11 fire engines from Kendal, Windermere, Ambleside, Coniston, Milnthorpe, Staveley, Patterdale, Ulverston, Penrith and Barrow – counting nearly 60 fire-fighters and specialist equipment including a water bowser and aerial appliance – were all drafted in to tackle the blaze at the 17th Century Grade II-listed building. Although the hotel has been badly damaged, it is thought it can be rebuilt after the ground floor and the historic bar area was saved. Managing director William Robinson said: “We’re all devastated about what’s happened here but what is important is that everyone made it out alive. We are extremely grateful to the staff and fire services for all that they’ve done. After all the people were safely evacuated, the firemen worked tirelessly through the night to protect and preserve the most historic areas of the pub for which we and our licensees are extremely thankful.”
   
Fat Cat founder opens combined pub and furniture showroom: Matt Saunders, who founded the Fat Cat chain of bars in the 1990s, has reopened a pub in Leicester High Street as a combined drinks venue and soft furnishings showroom. The Queen of Bradgate, which has been closed for several years, has re-opened after a £200,000 revamp. The new venue, which employs 20 staff, combines providing cask beers with off-the-shelf, bespoke and recycled furniture and furnishings. Saunders, 46, founded the Fat Cat chain of bars in the 1990s, and is also a co-owner of the Candy Stripe nightclub, in Belvoir Street, Leicester, as well as a partner in the Moleface Pub Company, which has five venues in Nottinghamshire. He said: “People who come to my pubs always said, ‘Where do you get your furniture from?’ So I decided I was going to go into furniture. I saw the Queen of Bradgate pub and thought it was a great spot. I went home to talk to my wife about it and she said, ‘Why don’t you use the pub as a showroom?’” Saunders said the vast majority of sales would take place online, but some items could be bought direct from the pub. “It functions primarily as a pub,” he said. “We have a website and that’s where most of the business will come from. But you can order from items from the pub itself. We have some stock upstairs.” The Fat Cat group, which owned 12 bars and gastropubs, went into administration last year.
   
Fine & Country Inns reopens Strafford Arms after £500,000 co-investment with Punch: Fine & Country Inns, run by Gary Hunt, has reopened the Strafford Arms in Stainborough, Barnsley after a £500,000 co-investment with the pub’s owner, Punch Taverns. As well as a new interior design, which included the restoration of the pub’s original historical features, the Strafford Arms now has a modern British food menu, with all produce sourced locally on a daily basis and cooked fresh by the team of in-house chefs. Hunt said: “We have been extremely busy and the dramatic transformation has been well-received by everyone. They have been particularly thrilled by the new décor and the overall feel we have created.” Punch Taverns’ partnership development manager, John Laite, said: “We’re delighted to be in partnership in sites such as this. Gary and the whole team have some great plans to deliver a fantastic customer experience and they have our full support. I also look forward to working in partnership with Gary and Fine & Country Inns going forward on the many other projects we have planned.”
   
YO! Sushi to open second Cheshire site this Friday: YO! Sushi will open its second site in Cheshire, located this time at the Cheshire Oaks shopping centre. The new 2,300 sq ft, 74-seat venue opens this Friday (13 June). The brand has signed a partnership with Chester Zoo, pledging to support its colony of 35 penguins. Katie Crossfield, marketing manager at YO! Sushi added: “We’re thrilled that YO! Sushi is the first official restaurant partner Chester Zoo has ever had and delighted to be supporting the colony of over 35 penguins that live there. YO! Sushi has proved popular in Chester and we’re very happy to be opening our second restaurant in the local area due to the fantastic demand and support we’ve received from the local community.” 
   
Enterprise signs Beacon pubs to MatchPint: After the success of a soft-launch last month, Enterprise Inns has become the first major tenanted operator to sign up with MatchPint, launching the service across 100 outlets in its Beacon pubs estate. The MatchPint website allows customers to check which venues are showing a particular sporting event, highlighting any linked promotions at the same time. MatchPint and Enterprise ran a promotion for customers who came to watch the UEFA Champions League final last month. Customers could enjoy a free pint of John Smith’s ale or Fosters by checking in on the MatchPint app and generating a one-time redeemable voucher. The offer, which was supported by Beacon, Enterprise’s “fully supported” tenancy scheme, on behalf of tenants, was redeemed 267 times across 42 outlets. The partnership is now being rolled out to 100 outlets with further promotions run during England’s World Cup warm-up matches. MatchPint has worked closely with Enterprise during the app’s implementation, running group training sessions with both area managers and their tenants. Andrew Parker, retail operations manager for Beacon at Enterprise, said: “MatchPint is a fantastic platform which allows both the publican and the customer to make the most of sport in their local pub environment. It’s incredibly easy to use and also offers a great way for our publicans to drive footfall by running promotions to tie in with noted sporting events.”
   
Starbucks unveils ‘reimagined’ La Boulange concept: Starbucks is due to unveil a “reimagined” version of the La Boulange bakery-cafe concept it bought in 2012 for $100m tomorrow (Thursday). The coffee chain is looking to transform the morning-focused San Francisco-based operation into an all-day eatery with sandwiches, burgers, beer and wine. The first of the new stores is opening in Los Angeles with a menu described as “affordable, approachable and delicious”, with brunch items, salads, sandwiches and burgers ranging in price from $5.95 to $10.95. The Los Angeles Times reported earlier this year that sandwiches on the Los Angeles La Boulange menu will include a BELT, or BLT with fried egg and aioli on ciabatta; a steak sandwich with tomatoes, rocket, Swiss cheese and grilled onions with tarragon aioli; and the classic croque monsieur. Since it bought the chain, Starbucks has also rolled out La Boulange-branded bakery products on its menu, which is reckoned to have boosted like-for-like sales by 2% for the second quarter alone.
   
Spirit boss Mike Tye welcomes new pub lease regulations: Mike Tye, chief executive of Spirit Pub Company, has declared himself “pleased” with the proposals to regulate the pub-company-tenant relationship. The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills launched its statutory code for leased pubs last week, which will involve an independent adjudicator to settle disputes between publicans and pub groups. Spirit has 450 leased pubs out of 1,200. Large pub groups had feared that increased regulation would prove expensive, or even outlaw the beer tie. However, Tye told the Financial Times yesterday that he welcomed their final form: “Actually, I’m pleased. There is a cost, and some bureaucracy, but on balance it is good for the industry. Everyone is on the same page.” The proposals are likely to cost Spirit about £60,000. “We do all this stuff already,” Tye said. “It really isn’t a problem.”
   
Ex-MKAP Leisure nightclubs sold: Three nightclubs in Clacton, Loughborough and Peterborough formerly belonging to MKAP Leisure have been sold by Christie + Co on behalf of MKAP’s administrator, Zolfo Cooper. Tom Peppers in Marine Parade West, Clacton, Essex was sold as a going concern and will be operated as a bar/nightclub by its new owners. Vice Versa in Loughborough High Street is also expected to re-open as a nightclub, while the new owner of Pulse 8, formerly the Faith Nightclub, Geneva Street, Peterborough is still to consider options for the site. Nick Cropper and Ryan Grant, partners at Zolfo Cooper, were appointed administrators at MKAP Leisure, formerly Matterhorn Capital Leisure Ltd, in August 2012. Cropper said: “I am delighted that we have completed the sale of the three properties. While it has been a lengthy process, we have always been confident that a sale would be achieved provided we found buyers with the right expertise.”
   
TGI Friday’s announces opening date for Gloucester venue: TGI Friday’s has announced Friday 1 August as the opening date for its new 170-seat restaurant in the Gloucester Quays development. The restaurant is housed in a red-bricked, glass-fronted, waterside building, with an “island kitchen” allowing customers to sit at the grill and see their food cooked, with cocktails courtesy of a “shotgun” style bar. The chain is holding recruiting days next Tuesday and Wednesday for the 80 staff needed.
   
Marston’s aims at August opening for new Broadstairs pub-restaurant: Marston’s is aiming at an opening in August for the Canterbury Bell, its 180-cover pub-restaurant currently being completed at Westwood Cross in Broadstairs, Kent. The pub will operate under Marston’s Milestone Rotisserie brand, with an extensive pub-restaurant menu with all of the usual, alongside a fresh chicken rotisserie offering spit-roasted chicken throughout the day. Marston’s also has planning permission for a 27-bedroom hotel on the site, work on which could start after the pub opens.
   
Punch relaunches and rebrands licensee training programme: Punch Taverns has rebranded and relaunched its licensee training programme, at the same time promoting the company’s wider training offer. A key aim for the re-launch, Punch said, is to sell the vital importance of training in an industry that attracts a wide range of people with different skills, knowledge and experience, with high business failure rates across the sector often linked to the way new licensees underestimate the expertise they will need to run a successful pub. The programme, now called “Punch Progress – Your training partner”, is clearly signposted, flexible, modular and, in what Punch says is a first for the industry, most of it is free. The first part, “Set up”, is an intensive one-week foundation course, covering the core knowledge, business skills and compliance requirements a new licensee needs. The “Support” programme provides a follow-on six months of training for licensee partners and their pub teams. “Advance” gives tailored training for more experienced licensees and their teams, including e-learning packages, residential courses, one-to-one sessions and portable slide presentations. “Accelerate” focuses on improving profitability, with webinar sessions and “best-in-class” workshops designed to help partners make the most of their business opportunities. Punch’s human resources director, Jackie Burn, said: “The re-launch represents a major commitment of time and resources for Punch Taverns. We developed the project because we had a strong message to send, as these days training isn’t just a forced one-off-activity for new licensees or a last resort for businesses in trouble – it’s essential to business success.”
   
BrewDog bar freehold sold: The freehold of 15-19 Goldhawk Road, Shepherd’s Bush, West London, where a BrewDog bar occupies the ground floor and basement, has been sold within a few weeks of going under offer to a private investor. It is believed to be the first time a freehold has been sold with the controversial Scottish brewer and bar operator as the tenant. James Davies from the London office of the property agent Fleurets, which handled the sale, said: “This project was venturing into the unknown, as no one quite knew how the BrewDog covenant would be received. But the combination of their first class operation and the general demand for a property in Shepherds Bush achieved excellent interest in the market which resulted in the forecast yields being achieved”. Fleurets was marketing the freehold at a guide price of £1.25m, which equated to a net initial yield of 5.3%, rising to 5.7% on 31 July 2014 and then 6% on 31 July 2018 until the fifth year rent review. BrewDog opened its bar in the property in December last year.
   
Castle Rock to brew series of First World War charity beers: Castle Rock, the Nottingham-based brewer and pub retailer, has announced plans to brew 12 beers in the five years to 2019 to mark the major incidents, personalities and centenary anniversaries of the First World War and raise money for charities that help those affected by conflict. The brewery will make a donation from the beers’ sales to charities including the Royal British Legion and Amnesty International. Both were represented on the Castle Green at Nottingham Castle at a moment of respect and wreath-laying as the first beer, a strong ruby mild called The Great War; a world undone, went on sale on Monday, 9 June. Andy Gregory, the Royal British Legion’s Nottinghamshire County Chairman, said: “We’re grateful to all Castle Rock customers and I encourage them to support this project by having a pint and remembering what each brew stands for.”
   
Manchester City signs deal with KFC to promote football brand in Thailand: Manchester City FC has unveiled plans to team up with KFC to help grow Thailand’s biggest 7-a-side youth football tournament. Now in its sixth consecutive year, the KFC Seven Shoot 2014 aims to encourage children to play football and will see over 3,000 Thai youth teams – comprising 50,000 youngsters aged from 12-15 – compete to be crowned nationwide champions. As part of the two-year deal, tournament marketing collateral including pictures of Manchester City stars such as Vincent Kompany and David Silva will appear in over 500 KFC restaurants and on billboards throughout Thailand.
   
Douglas Jack – Spirit ‘arguably undervalued’: Numis Securities’ leisure analyst Douglas Jack has reiterated his ‘Buy’ recommendation on the shares of Spirit Pub Company after the firm’s third-quarter trading update yesterday, declaring: “Given the company’s momentum and upgrade risk, we would buy the shares at current, arguably undervalued, levels.” Managed pub like-for-like sales rose 6% in the third quarter, driven by brand development, digital marketing and rising service standards, with food up 4.8%, drink up 7.1% and both machine and accommodation in positive territory, and were up 5.2% after 40 weeks, Jack said, and on those figures “we are holding our full-year forecasts (£57.6m PBT; consensus £56.2m) but expect consensus to rise. In our view, the 7.7x EV/ebitda rating does not properly reflect Spirit’s management and brand quality, earnings growth (13% in H1), progressive dividend (up 6% in H1) and de-gearing (to 4.4x net debt/Ebitda this year). We believe volumes, prices and average spend are all in growth, with London and value food pubs continuing to outperform. Managed Ebitdar margins (up 30bps in H1) should be up. Food costs inflation should have slowed to under 2%, but this benefit should be offset by the start of the Carbon Levy (at a cost of £2m pa) in early H2. We expect total cost inflation to be a manageable 2-3%, net of mitigation. Leased LFL net income rose 5.3% in Q3. April-May trading must have been very strong given that March LFL net income was flat due to changes in the supply network ordering process (in February). LFL net income was aided by investment, disposals, increased training and innovative agreements. After 40 weeks, LFL net income is up 3.6%. The pace of Flaming Grill conversions is accelerating, with 50 projects expected to be completed by spring 2015. These lower-capex investments should benefit cash returns, which already average 28%. Two new sites have been acquired, with further pubs likely to emerge from the Orchid estate. We are holding our forecasts, which assume 3.3% managed LFL sales and 2.1% leased LFL net income. These forecasts allow for tough LFL sales comps in Q4 (Q1-3: 0.7%/Q4: 4.1%). We believe we are being cautious, but it is important to remember that one third of Spirit’s annual PBT is usually generated in Q4.”
   
Gluten-free draught beer importer looks to raise cash to boost business: A Kent-based supplier of organic, gluten-free Belgian beers is looking to raise £15,000 through a crowdfunding website to enable it to offer its products to pubs, hotels and retail chains across the country. Van Bulck, which sells Belgian organic craft beers to the UK market, currently supplies about a dozen local pubs and hotels including the Tunbridge Wells Hotel in Kent. The beers are produced in a brewery in Belgium. It is seeking to raise the funds through the crowdfunding platform Angels Den. Van Bulck said it plans to use £1,500 to upgrade its website, spend £5,000 on marketing and promotional activity and £8,500 on tap installations in pubs. It said it had already invested £25,000 in creating and developing the recipe and concept and, with the help of additional funding, aimed to transform Van Bulck beers into a well-known brand throughout the UK.
   
Bath Ales signs distribution deal with Bibendum: West Country brewer Bath Ales has secured a deal with Bibendum to distribute its innovative craft beer brand, Beerd. The deal gives Bibendum exclusive distribution for the bottled versions of two popular Beerd beers, Silvertip and Monocle, and begins immediately. This is the first time that Beerd Brewery has bottled Silvertip or Monocle since the beers were first brewed in 2013. Robin Couling, managing director of Bath Ales, said: “We’re very excited about this deal as we have secured an excellent distribution partner in Bibendum.”
   
Gerry Stonhill takes over Railway Inn at Fairford: Gerry Stonhill, the larger-than-life character who ran the Masons Arms in South Leigh, Oxfordshire, is now running a more compact and easier to manage pub, the Railway Inn at Fairford, in Gloucestershire. Stonhill made headlines repeatedly at the Masons Arms, which closed in May last year, most notably in 2008 when he was prosecuted for breaking the smoking ban at the pub, which had its own helicopter landing pad. He refused to let children inside and only accepted payment by cash and American Express card. Peter Brunt of the property agency Colliers International said: “Gerry wanted to find a nice smaller pub to run and the Railway, although not actually on the market at the time, fitted the bill. I was then able to arrange an off-market deal which suited all parties.”
   
Las Iguanas to open in Leamington Spa next month: Latin American restaurant group Las Iguanas is to open a site in Leamington Spa’s Regent Court on 7 July. Meanwhile, Las Iguanas is the first casual dining chain to be awarded Vegetarian Society accreditation. 

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