Story of the Day:
Marston’s trials stone-baked pizza kitchens at Two for One pubs: Marston’s is trialing stone-baked pizza kitchens at sites within its Two for One estate. The company has previously fitted front-of-house stone-baked pizza ovens within its premium Revere Pub Company estate, where they have proven successful. Marston’s is now fitting ‘pizza kitchens’ within its mainstream new-build pubs, with the first one installed around four weeks ago. The Dapple Grey in Uttoxeter and The Yorkshire Rose in Huddersfield are the two most recent pubs to have “fresh stone-baked pizza” added to the offer. Una Beck Johnson, commercial marketing director at Marston’s Inns & Taverns, told Propel: “We are currently trialing the new pizza concept at a number of our ‘Two for One’ format pubs around the country. Testing and experimenting with new ranges, menu options and eating out occasions is essential for the evolution of our destination pubs – pizza is (now) part of the Two for One offer at these sites, which allows customers to mix and match between our regular menu and try something new. This flexibility is ideal for mixed group occasions. The theatre of the front-of-house kitchen, the customisation that is available in the fresh pizza toppings and the great value for money that is part of the Two for One proposition, are all, together, encouraging new customer visiting occasions. Feedback from customers is definitely positive, with the pizzas already driving incremental sales – we anticipate that we’ll extend the trial to other pubs over the coming months.”
University of Leicester to study disappearance of pubs: The disappearance of pubs in England is to become the focus of a new research project led by the University of Leicester. Academics from the University of Leicester are now looking into pubs in Leeds as part of a research project funded by English Heritage. A team from the University of Leicester will focus on 19th and 20th century pubs in Leeds with an aim to identify and highlight significant and threatened buildings and increase understanding and appreciation of urban and suburban pubs. Emma Dwyer, business development executive for Heritage at the University of Leicester, said: “This is a great opportunity to combine expertise from our School of Archaeology and Ancient History and our Department of History of Art and Film in a project that will have an impact on public understanding of how the pubs of Leeds have developed, and the risks they face from conversion and redevelopment.”
Battersea Power Station to feature cinema and street food during summer: A 250-seat outdoor cinema with a street food offer will be created at Battersea Power Station in South London this summer before the site is transformed in an £8bn redevelopment, the London Evening Standard has reported. The nine-metre-high screen will show films including Wayne’s World and The Wolf of Wall Street, and also the World Cup final. There will also be music and street food will be available, from jerk chicken and burgers to Prosecco and oysters. The site will be renamed Battersea Pop-Up Park between 10 July and 31 August. Park admission is free before 5.30pm or £5 after, and all weekend. Cinema tickets cost from £10 for adults.
Douglas Jack named top leisure analyst for small and midcap companies: Numis Securities’ leisure analyst Douglas Jack has been named top leisure analyst in the annual Oscars of the analyst community, the Extel survey. Colleagues Ivor Jones and Wyn Ellis ranked second and third. Numis was named top broker, followed by Panmure Gordon and Barclays.
Franchise body objects to Chicago plan to pay $15 an hour minimum wage: The International Franchise Association has voiced its opposition to part of a minimum-wage increase proposal under consideration by the Chicago City Council, arguing that legislators’ misunderstanding of the franchisee-franchisor relationship would unfairly penalise franchisee operators if the $15-per-hour proposed ordinance gets adopted. In a letter to the city council, the IFA’s president and chief executive, Steve Caldeira, suggested that the ordinance discriminated against franchisees by treating them the same as the large, national brands they represent, and not as locally owned small businesses.
US fast food consumers rank Pizza Hut and Papa John’s top: American fast food consumers are most satisfied with pizza chains Papa John’s and Pizza Hut, and least satisfied with McDonald’s, according to a new report. The findings were published in the 2014 restaurant report by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). Both Papa John’s and Pizza Hut had a ACSI score of 82 out of a possible 100 this year. Papa John’s score was the same score as last year, while Pizza Hut went up from its 2013 score of 80. Little Caesar and Domino’s Pizza followed closely behind: each received a ACSI score of 80. Little Caesar dropped from 82 in 2013 to 80, and Domino’s Pizza dropped down from 81. McDonald’s was again at the bottom of the year’s rankings with a score of 71, down from last year’s 73. Taco Bell performed the second-worst, as its satisfaction score also dropped from 74 to 72.
Casual Dining show short-listed for two awards: This year’s new launch Casual Dining has been shortlisted for “Best Trade Launch Show” and “Best Tradeshow Exhibition under 2,000 sq m” by the Association of Event Organisers (AEO) in its annual Excellence Awards. Casual Dining, the first dedicated trade show for the UK’s £6.9bn casual dining sector, is the first event in years to have been shortlisted by the AEO as a finalist in both categories. The double award nomination reflects the show’s broad appeal. A total of 3,655 people attended the event.
McDonald’s to create 8,000 jobs in three years as it marks 40th anniversary of UK arrival: McDonald’s will announce today that it is to create 8,000 jobs in the next three years as it marks the 40th anniversary of it arrival in the UK. The new jobs, created from new openings and investments in existing sites, will push its UK workforce past 100,000. The company is to publish a report on its economic contribution to the UK that shows it has provided jobs for 1.4 million employees and spent more than £26bn with UK suppliers since it opened its first store in Woolwich, east London in 1974. The company has 1,225 sites in the UK and is opening circa 30 restaurants a year. McDonald’s UK claims to have contributed £3.1bn in tax revenues in the past five years. Jill McDonald, chief executive of McDonald’s UK, told The Times: “There seems to be a jobs snobbery, not just aimed at McDonald’s but at the wider hospitality industry and retail.”
River Cottage Canteen raises £1m mini bond in a matter of days: River Cottage Canteen has been successful in his bid to raise £1m through a bond issue, paying 7% interest, on Crowdcube to expand to high footfall sites across the south of England. The money was raised in a matter of a few days from 284 investors. A spokesman told investors on Crowdcube: “We have been overwhelmed by your support and delighted that the fundraise hit target so quickly. Thank you again for being part of our future and we look forward to seeing you in a River Cottage Canteen shortly.” The River Cottage group, which is headquartered at Park Farm in Axminster (Devon), currently operates canteens promoting local produce in Axminster, Bristol and Plymouth. It is also behind a string of TV series starring Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, more than 20 books and a cookery school. Fearnley-Whittingstall is the creative director for both the River Cottage group and the River Cottage canteen and deli business. He is actively involved in developing the canteens, creating menus and new dishes for the venture, and hiring key staff including head chefs. Meanwhile, the Chilango mini-bond, paying 8% interest, has raised £597,500 from 183 investors, meaning it is 59% funded. The River Cottage Canteen was launched several days after the Chilango mini-bond.
Reza Amini opens fourth site an eco-friendly restaurant: Reza Amini, who founded the El Torito Mexican restaurant chain, has opened his latest venture – Henry’s Kitchen in Bridge Road, Hampton Court, Surrey – the first independent eco-friendly and sustainable restaurant in the Elmbridge borough of Surrey. He has been in the restaurant business for over 15 years. “The food industry has changed drastically during that time,” he said. “It’s become more apparent that we have been affecting the climate and following the horse meat scandal last year, I realised how concerned the public is about where their food comes from. This led me to join the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) and open my first sustainable restaurant. I am working with the SRA to achieve my goals and I want to inspire other restaurateurs to follow my example.” Henry’s Kitchen (www.henrykitchen.co.uk) has been designed to minimise the impact on the environment. Rainwater is used to flush the lavatories. All the reclaimed wall cladding is sourced locally in Surrey. The table tops are made from reclaimed scaffolding boards from Brighton. Menus are printed on recycled paper by a local printer. The menu at Henry’s Kitchen is a combination of modern British and Mediterranean dishes as well as British favourites such as fish and chips every Wednesday. It will be changed regularly to reflect what is in season locally. Reza Amini is a well-known restaurateur in the area, as he also owns Square Olive, an Italian restaurant, in Hampton Court, Casa Nostra in Wimbledon and Clarence Brasserie in Windsor.
BrewDog secures two new sites, offers £1,000 site finder’s fee: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog will open its fourth London site in Clapham in the summer and has found its first site in Brighton, which it expects to open in late August. A site in Liverpool’s Colquitt Street is expected to launch in the summer. The company has offered its customers and shareholders a £1,000 site finder’s fee for helping it identify additional sites to add to its 14-strong UK bar portfolio. The company is looking for 2,000 to 5,000 square foot locations in Edinburgh, York, Leicester, Cambridge, Oxford, Reading, Norwich, Southampton, Portsmouth, Canterbury, Plymouth and Exeter. Within London, BrewDog is scouting for sites in Brixton, Soho, Camberwell, Stoke Newington, Hackney Wick, Dalston, Wimbledon and Peckham. It also looking for new BottleDog off-licence sites, offering 500 to 1,200 square foot, in Glasgow, Manchester and London. Meanwhile, BrewDog will open in Florence, Italy on 26 June, its fifth site outside of the UK.
Smiths of Smithfield re-opens after major fire: Smiths of Smithfield has re-opened after a fire last October at its premises in Charterhouse Street, near Farringdon, central London forced it to close. The restaurant’s management said the rebuilding process had been a learning experience and underlined how important it was to have the correct insurance in place and manage the relationship with the insurance company in order to ensure the return to business after an event such as a fire is as swift and effective as possible. Owner Rolf Munding said: “I couldn’t say that this hasn’t been a difficult time for us but we are resilient and, importantly, we have learnt from this. We have drawn positives from what could have been a truly dreadful thing and we are now match-fit. Business Interruption is the key part of our policy. Being forced into closure does not mean that your outgoings instantly stop. Our insurer, Mitsui are a company that make payments on account in the event of a claim. For a small company this is paramount to support cashflow. We also want as a business to retain our key team players and as such wages and tronc cover featured highly. On our annual renewal in 2013 we also opted to take a Claims Assist policy, which provides us with a loss adjuster to deal with our claim.”
Beds and Bars reports three weeks of 21% like-for-likes in the UK: Beds and Bars, the pan-European bar and hostel provider led by Keith Knowles, has reported that its UK sites have produced 21.62% like-for-like sales growth in the past three weeks, worth an additional £175,000 in turnover. Its total business, including European sites, is up 14% in like-for-like terms over the three weeks, which is worth £245,000 in sales. Its Barcelona site has been star Europe performer with 17% like-for-like growth.
Hawthorn Leisure owner takes on new partner: A former managing director at CVC Capital Partners has become a partner at the pub sector investment firm May Capital. Hugh Briggs, who spent eight years in the financing team at CVC, has been made a partner at Noah Bulkin’s May Capital. He has also taken the role of chief financial officer at Hawthorn Leisure, the newly created pub group backed by May Capital and the US alternatives firm Avenue Capital. Hawthorn Leisure was established in November 2013 to acquire and invest in and pubs across the UK. In May, it announced that it had acquired a portfolio of 275 tenanted and leased pubs from Greene King. Earlier this month it said it was buying a further 88 tenanted and leased pubs from R&L.
McDonald’s UK looks to beef up agriculture liaison function: McDonald’s UK is looking to hire an “agriculture consultant” to support the function of the McDonald’s UK Agriculture team within the supply chain department, including the development and delivery of the Farm Forward programme. The role will include responsibility for the delivery of key sustainable supply groups including R&D programmes and building relationships with key industry stakeholders, including farming unions, assurance schemes, levy bodies, government departments, NGOs, universities, food and farming media.
Stonegate continues estate investment with re-opened Slug & Lettuce: Stonegate Pub Company will re-open the Slug & Lettuce on the High Street in Beckenham, Kent on 28 June after an investment of £250,000, which will see the creation of ten new jobs. The venue will reopen with an extended food offer including dishes such as the S&L Burger, a 10oz ribeye steak with king prawn skewer and lamb ribs. It will sell breakfasts and a range of lunch and dinner items which include the “under 500 calorie” menu, the popular platter range and fish, vegetarian and seasonal options. The opening will also see the introduction of Costa Coffee.
Drake & Morgan launches consumer magazine for customers: Restaurant and bar group Drake & Morgan has created a new consumer publication for its customers: D&M Edit. The 12-page magazine has been distributed across its seven bars and restaurants, from the Fable in Farringdon, central London to the Drift at Liverpool Street in the City, and was produced by the group’s long-standing PR and marketing agency, Roche Communications. The magazine, created specifically for Drake & Morgan’s target customers, young, professional, aspirational Londoners, covers everything from food and drink to trends, travel and interiors. Lisa Yearwood, head of marketing at D&M, said: “D&M Edit is all about giving more to our customers, from travel tips and interiors inspiration to recipes for our best-selling dishes and drinks. Our discerning customers are always asking about the little touches that make our product so special, and this is our way of enabling them to take a little bit of the magic home.”
Tesco to launch diet service with guidelines and calorie controlled meals: Tesco is launching a range of calorie controlled meals labelled “My fit lifestyle” that will be colour coded, ranging for 100 to 500 calories, allowing consumers to create a meal plan for the day that accumulates to under 2,000 calories. Customers will also be able to enter their height and weight details into Tesco’s Health and Wellbeing website to receive fitness advise and personal eating plans. The range has been developed to imitate trends in the US revolving around healthy eating plans. Jill Easterbrook, Tesco’s chief customer officer, said: “By combining fresh, healthy, delicious meals with a personal eating plan, we can support our customers and help them to achieve their health and well-being goals.” The scheme will be launched in London and will also feature on the Tesco website.
Mitchells & Butlers converts Nottingham nightclub site to Sizzling Pubs: Mitchells & Butlers is converting a 1980s-themed nightclub, Revival, in Nottingham to its Sizzling Pubs brand. It will now be called The Three Crowns. The venue, on Upper Parliament Street, opposite the Theatre Royal and Cornerhouse, will re-open its doors on Monday (23 June). A spokesman for the company said: “We want there to be a social atmosphere at The Three Crowns, and for it to be a venue that appeals to everyone. It won’t just be male dominated, it will be a real family environment. It will also be affordable.”
Newcastle Assembly Rooms in line for further investment after successful trading: The historic Assembly Rooms in Newcastle upon Tyne could be in for further investment after a successful first month in business for its new £1m bar and lounge, Bonbar. The venue, which serves food by day and cocktails in the evening, was launched in May after a £1m refurbishment of the 238-year-old Assembly Rooms. According to owner Antony Michaelides, “thousands” of diners and partygoers have visited in the past month, prompting him to consider further investment. He said: “This is the first time we have ever been open to the general public, as we were previously only a function and event venue, and it’s a move we are pleased to have made. We are growing day by day. Our food in general, and particularly our Sunday lunches, have been very well received.”
Barrow floating nightclub acquired by mystery buyer: A former floating nightclub that closed four years ago has been sold to a Scandinavian buyer, though its future remains a mystery. The Princess Selandia, which held 2,400 clubbers, was a popular spot for revellers for six years until it closed for the final time in August 2010. The converted Danish passenger vessel has sat in Buccleuch Dock, Barrow, ever since, after plans fell through for it to be towed back to Copenhagen to be part of a historic dockland attraction. Richard Lane, managing director of Capital Boats, which sells commercial vessels, has now confirmed the 63-year-old former railway ferry was sold more than 18 months ago to a Danish buyer. The vessel was put up for sale for £650,000 by Barrow nightclub mogul Rick Lucas, who brought it to Barrow in 2004.
Council opposes plan for street cafe at front of Wetherspoon pub: Plans by JD Wetherspoon to include a street cafe at the front of its new Bath Arms pub in Warminster, Somerset have been universally opposed by the town’s planning advisory committee. The cafe would be located behind the pelican crossing in Market Place. The committee expressed concerns that it would block the pavement. The application will still be considered by Wiltshire Council. Wetherspoon opened the Bath Arms on 29 April after a £2.3m refurbishment. The pub had been closed since July 2012.
Wyn Ellis – first quarter Whitbread results very strong: Numis Securities’ leisure analyst Wyn Ellis has described Whitbread’s first-quarter result as very strong. He said: “The quarter one (trading update) is very strong and may lead to some upgrades in consensus numbers. Total sales growth in Q1 was 12.7% with like-for-like sales growth of 6.9% (Premier Inn up 9.5%. Restaurants up 4.4% and Costa up 4.5%). As Premier Inn generates circa 70% of Whitbread’s profits, by our estimates, it is ideal that there is ‘a buoyant hotel market driven by continuing growth in London and clearer signs of economic recovery in the UK regions.’ We would expect the shares to respond positively. We are holding our forecasts as this is only a Q1 update (the first 13 weeks). However, we are encouraged by: 1) the company trading ahead in Q1; and 2) it being ‘well positioned for another good year with our strong brands continuing to win market share, reinforced by ambitious organic network expansion’.” He has a target price of 4300p.
Beer writing competition adds young writer award: The British Guild of Beer Writers has launched its annual competition for beer writing, with the addition this year of a new award for the Best Young Beer Writer, designed to foster new writing about Britain’s national drink. The awards now include eight categories with a total prize fund of £9,500 for winners and runners-up. All entries will be judged on how well they further the guild’s mission “to extend public knowledge and appreciation of beer and pubs”. Guild chairman Tim Hampson said: “Our annual awards have grown in stature over the years to the point where they are now coveted for their kudos more than the cheque that comes with them, and our awards presentation dinner is one of the most eagerly anticipated events on the drinks industry’s pre-Christmas calendar.”
Largest Pizza Hut franchisee buys more Wendy’s units: The largest franchise operator of Pizza Hut restaurants in the United States, NPC International, is buying its fourth lot of Wendy’s restaurants in a year, NPC has agreed to buy 56 Wendy’s restaurants in North Carolina and Virginia in a $58.2m deal with Carlisle Corp. NPC is owned by the private equity firm Olympus Partners, and currently has 1,261 Pizza Hut locations in 28 states and 90 Wendy’s units in three states. The restaurants in the Carlisle deal generated about $77m in net product sales in the year ended December 29, the company said. The restaurants will be acquired and operated by NPC Quality Burgers Inc, which NPC created last July in its first acquisition of 24 Wendy’s restaurants.
Russon family buys Pershore area pub: The Russon family have bought The Swan Inn at Birlingham, near Pershore, off an asking price of £439,950 freehold through agent Colliers international – they plan to refurbish it and re-open later in July. The Russon family has operated many pubs in the area including The Howard Arms in Illmington, The Ferry Inn in Alveston and Russons fish restaurant in Stratford.
Carluccio’s takes Woking site on a 25-year lease: Woking Shopping has announced Carluccio’s as the latest leading restaurant to join its rapidly growing retail and leisure offer. Carluccio’s has signed a 25-year lease to open a 4,099 sq ft restaurant, food shop and deli on the newly paved and pedestrianised Commercial Way, which leads to Peacocks and Wolsey Place shopping centre. Carluccio’s will open in November this year. Commenting on the Woking Shopping debut, Simon Kossoff, Carluccio’s chief executive, said: “We look forward to the opening of Carluccio’s in Woking later this year and hope the new restaurant will be as successful as our other Surrey locations. Woking town centre is undergoing an extensive refurbishment and we are excited to be a part of the plans.” The news comes after the recent announcement that the cookery school Tante Marie Culinary Academy is relocating to a new, larger 8,000 sq ft location in Woking Shopping, featuring a restaurant and training theatre across two floors in Alexander House.
Scenic Scottish hotel offered: The property agency Christie + Co is offering the freehold of the scenic Kintail Lodge, overlooking Loch Duich, on the west coast of the Scottish Highlands, for £860,000. The hotel is just off the road to Skye and only six miles from one of the region’s main tourist attractions, Eilean Donan Castle, said to be Scotland’s most photogenic castle, which attracts many thousands of visitors each year. Kintail Lodge has 12 bedrooms, along with a bar, restaurant, conservatory and lounge.
YO! Sushi rolls out experience hub to create ‘guest-centric’ focus: YO! Sushi is rolling out an “experience hub” in its 70 restaurants in the UK to try to improve the customer experience, according to Marketing Week. Customers are encouraged to describe their experiences on an online form via their smartphones in exchange for entry into a prize draw. Marketing Week said: “The insights are then collated by a system, developed by InMoment, formerly Empathica, the business says will steer the in-store marketing and customer experience in all its restaurants. Employees can access the feedback from tills, mobile devices and desktops. Observations on the menu, restaurant layout and background music are just some of the areas YO! Sushi claims it will be able to act on quickly. Loyal advocates are being targeted initially, although the restaurant expects ‘strong’ buzz around the ‘immediate tweaks’ it makes to stores to intrigue new diners. Ultimately, YO! Sushi plans to plug the system into its social sphere in order to scrape daily chatter about the brand into something that regional managers and marketers can act on. The company’s operational unit handles the tool but its marketing team will also have access as well promote it.” Suresh Banarse, head of people at YO! Sushi, said the “experience hub” was a shift away from “cumbersome” insight to something more “immediate”. He told Marketing Week: “We’re now able to see what our guests are saying during specific shifts and take immediate actions. Over the years we’ve had varying degrees of success with other things we’ve tried but now there’s the scope to make our restaurants really reflect what customers want at a granular level.”
Boutique hotel plan in the Lake District turned down by planning inspector: Plans to extend a private Bowness-on-Windermere villa into a boutique hotel, bar and restaurant have been rejected by a government planning inspector. A proposal to change the use of St Andrews, on Lake Road, to a bar, restaurant and hotel suites was approved by the Lake District National Park Authority two years ago. However, new plans which included a gabled extension and an orangery were turned down by Lake District planners last year, and their decision has been upheld on appeal. The inspector ruled that the plans would turn the “modest” Italianate-style villa into a “statement” building, harming the character and appearance of the detached house and Bowness Conservation Area.
Luminar recognises top performers: The UK’s largest nightclub operator, the Luminar Group, has announced its national champions at its annual conference. The company, which operates 53 nightclubs across the UK, held its annual awards ceremony at Whittlebury Hall in Northamptonshire. The conference included a review of company performance, demonstrating a 50% increase in profits. In total, 13 members of the team were recognised, with key awards including regional director of the year, (Martin Winter from the East and Scotland), general manager of the year (Russell Quelch from Oceana Southampton) and Deputy Manager of the Year, Simon Wilson from Club Batchwood. Nick Jackson, general manager at Evoke, Chelmsford was presented with the Graham Peel Award which is given in memory of former employee Graham Peel to an individual who displays outstanding energy, enthusiasm and entrepreneurial flair. The company’s head of club development, Eric May, walked away with the Special Contribution Award, recognising his achievements over the past 12 months. During that period, May has project-managed 16 nightclub refurbishments out of an estate of 53, maximising a budget in excess of £5m.
McEwan’s wins two awards from Marketing Society Scotland: Charles Wells’ Scottish division, McEwan’s Beer Company, scooped two prestigious awards at the Marketing Society Scotland Star Awards 2014 in recognition of the development and launch of McEwan’s Red in 2013. After being shortlisted for no less than four accolades, the Scottish beer company beat off stiff competition last week to take home the Brand Development award in the Strategic category for the creation of Red. The team later took to the stage once more to pick up the top award for marketing effectiveness in the food and drink sector. Wells, based in Bedford, acquired the McEwan’s family of beers in 2011.
Micro-pub bid for Pendle: A planning application has been submitted to Pendle Council in Lancashire to change a former bank and toy shop at the bottom of Pasture Lane, Barrowford, into a micro-pub. The application, by Tracey Holden of Blackburn, will be determined by council planning officers using delegated powers. Holden said: “After 28 years of working in financial services, I have decided to follow my dream of running a people-orientated business and open a micro-pub. It has taken me over six months to find the perfect spot. It is a lovely building and will make a great venue, bringing something new to Pendle. As well as supporting local micro-breweries, I also aim to serve wines from up-and-coming vineyards and will not be stocking the big brands usually found in supermarkets.” Holden said if her planning application is approved, the new micro-pub would open between 5pm and 9pm Tuesdays to Thursdays, noon to 11pm Fridays and Saturdays and noon to 9pm on Sundays.
Punch pub in Rotherham sold for in excess of £225,000 asking price: The property agent Fleurets has sold The Florence in Rotherham on behalf of Punch Taverns. The successful purchaser was Mr Shabir, a property investor who plans, in the immediate term, to continue to run The Florence under its previous use as a Chinese restaurant. The Florence was sold for an undisclosed price after attracting offers in excess of the asking price of £225,000.
Spirit sells single pub for £27m: Spirit has sold a freehold pub, The Black Lion, on Bayswater Road in central London, to 123 Bayswater Road Limited for a total cash consideration of £27m, which will be reinvested in the retained Spirit business. Spirit has also entered into an agreement with 123 Bayswater Road Limited to continue to run the pub for an agreed period. In the financial year ended 17 August 2013, The Black Lion generated Ebitda, before the allocation of central overheads, of £700,000. As at 1 March 2014, the pub had a book value of £7.6m.