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Morning Briefing Strap Line
Mon 21st Jul 2014 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Alan Parker – the industry’s voice can only grow stronger: Former Whitbread chief executive and British Hospitality Association (BHA) chairman Alan Parker has argued that the hospitality industry’s voice can only increase in strength as its economic importance grows. Writing in the annual report, he stated: “As the UK economy begins to see the green shoots of recovery, now is a crucial time for our industry to step up and make good on the preparations for growth that were made in the tough times. In the past year we saw how unemployment figures contrasted with impressive job creation from the hospitality industry. As an industry we have always had one eye on the future and one on the past. We communicate and lobby; we learn from experience and we champion growth, change and innovation. We embrace the future generation through job creation. We will continue to work collaboratively to find solutions to the issues and challenges which stand in the way of economic growth and job creation. As the hospitality economy grows, our impact and voice can only strengthen. Politicians and mandarins are now gearing up for the 2015 general election, so it is more important than ever that as an industry, we rise above the competition with one united voice, showcasing our successes and demonstrating the significant economic impact that can be delivered. We want the UK hospitality and tourism industry to be recognised as world class. We will do this by connecting government and industry leaders to focus on securing valuable new jobs for our people, growth for our industry and competitive advantage for the UK.” Meanwhile, British Hospitality Association chief executive Ufi Ibrahim issued a rallying call for businesses to become more politically active. Also In the BHA annual report, she states: “If each hospitality business joined in our march towards shaping the future we would be unbeatable. If each business rallied around our call for streamlined regulation, policies for growth and a competitive environment for hospitality businesses to thrive, there would be no stopping us. Now is the time for action. Our political capital has never been higher and we must support the rebalancing of growth beyond London, driving exports, investment and jobs deep into local economies, as only our industry has proven it has done and continues to do.”

Industry News:

Crowdcube to double staff number and add offices after investment: Crowd-funding platform Crowdcube is set to double staff numbers and open new offices in London and Scotland after securing new investment. Propel reported on Friday that private equity firm Balderton Capital has taken a £3.8 million stake in the crowdfunding platform. Crowdcube plans to complete a £5 million fundraising round by pitching for £1.2 million from its 62,000 small investors via its own website. Crowdcube, named one of the hottest FinTech firms in Europe in 2013, will use the £5 million investment to further expand its operations in the UK and internationally. The firm is planning to double its team to 50 as well as open new offices in London and Scotland, while expanding its head office in Exeter. It is also expanding internationally beyond the seven joint ventures that it has already established.

Soho House to open biggest US site in Chicago next month: Soho House will opens its first Chicago location on 11 August, its largest North American location to date. “It’s got everything,” said founder Nick Jones. The space, a former 1900s-era leatherworking factory, will house a private members’ club, a 15,000-square-foot gym, complete with a boxing ring, a Cowshed Spa, a screening room, two public dining restaurants imported from London, Pizza East and Chicken Shop, the Allis Bar, named for the family that owned the factory, a 40-bedroom hotel and a rooftop 60-foot swimming pool with views of the city.

Camra website hacked: The Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) has had its national website hacked, the organisation’s 165,000 members have been told. In an email, the organisation’s chairman, Colin Valentine, said: “Our website hosting company has given written assurances that no personal information in the membership database – which links to the website to process membership applications and renewals – has been accessed. The server that supports the database was not subject to attack. However, Camra members are being advised to remain vigilant and carry out sensible online and offline precautions such as not using the same password for all your online accounts and checking bank statements for suspicious activity. Camra is seeking robust assurances that the security breach on the host server will not happen again and until it is confident about this, a limited website service is being operated on a different server.”

Company News:

BrewDog launches first major change to packaging since 2007, using metal and woodblock printing: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has launched new packaging, the first major change since 2007. The company stated: “When we set out to change our packaging, we did so with one aim in mind – to create packaging that better reflected the beer we make. That meant focusing ruthlessly on two things: quality and craft. We’ve done that by stripping the design process back to basics – going to one of the UK’s few remaining letterpress studios to hand-print our designs using 100 year-old metal and wood letter blocks (and) by moving to a thick, uncoated paper and applying layers of ink with as much personality and character as the beer inside the bottle. Aside from the design, you’ll notice a few things have changed on-pack. We’ve added beer styles to each product name and tasting notes on the caps to help craft beer newcomers find their feet. We’ve added a three-word tag-line to each of the beers to capture what they’re all about in an instant. And we’ve embossed the labels so they feel awesome in your hands. Over the next few weeks we’ll be updating our website, cans and other beers to fit the new style.”

London Pasha nightclub to close: The London branch of the Pacha nightclub chain is to close in September, it has been announced. Opened in 2002, and named the capital’s Best Dance Club at Bar Magazine’s annual awards ceremony last year, the club will finally close its doors with a farewell party held on 20 September. In a statement, the club’s owners said: “It was a nightclub born from those famous silver Balearic sands, a piece of Mediterranean musical heaven in the heart of London. The wild child offspring that has hosted some of the most sought after DJs from around the globe, will close its hallowed doors in the last week of September.” The statement hinted at plans to “take a completely new direction to match the changing trends of music in the capital”. It continued: “Watch this space for the fresh, exciting beginnings and projects that are already in the pipeline. With such tight bonds forged as part of the Pacha family and an evolution underway, don’t be surprised if you have to swap the sultry dance floors for chic hotel foyers as plans for a boutique hotel unfold.”

Center Parcs reports profit jump: Center Parcs, the five-strong holiday park business owned by Blackstone, has reported a 4% rise in sales to £314.6m in the year to April, with profits rising 10% to £20.6m. The company has reported that trading at its latest site in Woburn has been strong in the first few weeks. Occupancy levels at its four other UK site averaged 97% in the year.

New Ecuadorian concept to open in Soho: A new Ecuadorian food concept called Tostado, created by Fernando Leon, will open in Soho’s St Anne’s Court later this year after securing a site through agent Shelley Sandzer. Tostado, which takes its name from a fried type of corn grain in Ecuador, will be serving high-quality Ecuadorian-style food specialising in ceviche and will also offer their own twist on an English breakfast menu in addition to a selection of soups and stews. Joshua Rose, at Shelley Sandzer, said: “This is a great location for Tostado, and we are delighted to have helped the brand secure their debut site in the heart of the one of London’s well established dining destinations. Tostado will offer a fresh approach to ceviche, which continues to grow in popularity across the capital. Shelley Sandzer has worked successfully to acquire debut locations for various international restaurants, including Big Fernand and Enrique Tomas, and we feel Tostado is another great concept for the restaurant market in London.”

JD Wetherspoon to open Cleethorpes pub with an open kitchen: JD Wetherspoon is to open a £1.7m pub in Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire, tomorrow (Tuesday 22 July) after converting a former snooker hall and nightclub. The pub will be called the Coliseum Picture Theatre and is located on High Street – it is named after a venue that closed in 1953. The building has been a local landmark since 1920, and has also been home to an indoor market, a branch of Woolworths, Arthur’s Snooker Hall, The Baton Rouge bar and more recently Amishi nightclub. It boasts two large bar and restaurant areas, as well as a rooftop terrace, and an open kitchen. It also has the option of a full open front, weather permitting.

McDonald’s advertises for 400 new drive-thru sites: McDonald’s has advertised in Estates Gazette for 400 new drive-thru restaurant sites, on main arterial routes or on retail and leisure parks. The company is looking for 3,600 square foot sites plus parking or a minimum of an half-acre site. A £20,000 introductory fee is paid and parties are asked to contact head of acquisitions Mike Williams on

TV presenter Kate Humble opens cafe at her farm: The television presenter Kate Humble, who fronts BBC series such as Springwatch and Lambing Live, has opened a cafe and shop at her Monmouthshire farm. Humble said the outlet would provide a showcase for food producers in and around Monmouthshire. She said: “The past two years we have been running courses for people who come to the farm to learn a new skill such as shearing, cooking and small holding courses. The shop and cafe is the next natural step for us to take.” The cafe will sell cakes created by pupils at Trellech Primary School. The pupils won a competition to bake a cake that could be sold at the farm, Humble by Nature. The Preservation Society will be supplying jams and marmalades to the shop. 

Whitbread chief joins homeware chain’s board: Andy Harrison, chief executive of Whitbread, is to become a non-executive director of the Homeware chain Dunelm from 1 September. Harrison has run Whitbread, which owns the Premier Inn hotel chain and the Costa Coffee brand, since 2010. Before that he was chief executive of the low-cost airline easyJet. He said: “Dunelm is a market leading retailer in an exciting phase of growth, so I am delighted to be joining the business at this time.”

West acquires new site in Glasgow’s West End: West, the Glasgow brewery-bar and restaurant, has acquired a new site in the city’s West End. Petra Wetzel, West’s founder and managing director, said: “After years of searching for a West in the West End of Glasgow, we have found the perfect spot at 160 Woodlands Road. The site has been home to a bar for over a hundred years and until recently traded as The Halt. In my student days at Glasgow University I lived two doors up from it, and it is a wonderful twist of fate to end up back on my old doorstep with our second West venue. The Halt bar has had many owners and managers over the last few years and sadly has not been loved for a very long time. Love is something we believe West is really good at, so we have set aside a significant budget, have gathered the best designers, architects and, most importantly, tradesmen in Glasgow, and we will bring back the bar with a bang. We have just received the keys for the premises and are eagerly awaiting planning permission and our building warrant.” The bar will be opening on an interim basis this Friday, 25 July, as Pop Up West, which will see the launch of West Woodlands Red, the brewery’s Munich Red lager matured in a Skallywag whisky cask. Wetzel said: “I think it’s fair to say we have fallen in love with maturing our beers in casks by our wonderful friends at Douglas Laing, and we think this project is our best to date – and that’s saying something given the success of Opus 6.”

Brasserie owner to open second branch in Preston: The owner of the Olive Tree Brasserie in Lytham St Annes, Lancashire is to open a second branch in the Miller Arcade in Preston. Dean Wilson, who has run the Lytham business for nearly seven years, said: “I’ve been looking for a while and I’ve finally found the right venue. It’s a Greek and Mediterranean upmarket restaurant and bar.” Wilson said the new outlet, in a former clothes shop, would be similar to the Fylde restaurant but with its own identity, with a cocktail bar downstairs and seating upstairs with a restaurant and open kitchen. Plans have been submitted to Preston Council for a change of use from a retail shop to a restaurant, and the use of the pavement to provide seating. Listed building consent was also applied for to make internal alterations. A decision is due to be made under delegated powers.

Second Italian Farmhouse restaurant opens in Sunderland: A second Italian Farmhouse restaurant has opened at the Best Western Roker hotel in Sunderland. The first was opened four years ago in West Rainton, County Durham, by Mark Hird, who also owns the Roker Hotel. Hird said: “The Italian Farmhouse offers contemporary dining, true to how Italians really eat, not available elsewhere in Wearside. Our emphasis is on a great quality Italian food with no compromise. Using what is available on our doorstep, working closely with our suppliers to ensure we get the freshest and best produce available, together with genuine Italian produce, makes really great tasting dishes.” The restaurant has an authentic wood-fired pizza oven, and the menu also includes cicchetti, Italian tapas. Hird added: “The decision to invest in and import the wood-burning pizza oven means we can really offer true authenticity in our pizzas. It’s quite a spectacle when it’s all fired up, but the main thing is the flavour you get from cooking the pizzas in this way. It is unrivalled.” The Sunderland Italian Farmhouse has opened on the site of the former Tavistock Retro Italia restaurant and is part of a site-wide refurbishment, which includes re-launching the hotel as a boutique, four-star, Best Western Plus property by the end of 2014.

Thaikhun opens in Aberdeen with Buddhist ceremony: Five Buddhist monks performed an ancient ceremony to bless the new Aberdeen branch of the Thaikhun restaurant chain before its opening today (Monday). The blessing, which was performed in front of staff, relates to the start of new things. Kim Kaewkraikhot, owner of the Thai Leisure Group, said: “The ceremony is considered a spiritual blessing, offering good luck and best wishes for a new beginning which could be a new home, new business, wedding, even a new car.” The new outlet is the second Thaikhun, the first having opened in Spinningfields, Manchester in May.

Antic plans late-summer opening for Woolwich Equitable pub: The London-based pub company Antic London is planning a late-summer opening for the transformed former Woolwich Equitable Building Society building in General Gordon Square, Woolwich, which will open as a pub-restaurant called the Woolwich Equitable. The building, which was the building society’s headquarters until it moved to Bexleyheath in 1989, has kept its marble cladding and vintage decor. In a statement, Antic said it “will be a welcome addition to the daily buzz of General Gordon Square”. As well as a regularly changing drinks menu featuring local brews, the Woolwich Equitable will also serve main meals and snacks with “a contemporary twist on British pub food”. Antic said the pub will start by opening only at 4pm each day, closing at 1am Thursday to Saturday. The company was originally refused a licence for the premises in September last year by Greenwich Council on the grounds that there were too many other licensed premises in the area, but granted one on appeal in January this year. Antic London currently runs 34 outlets, with several more planned, including the Railway Tavern in Bromley.

Brewery sees ginger beer sales leap after rebrand: The West Country brewer and pub owner Palmers has seen sales of its traditional bottled ginger beer brand soar 60% after a successful rebrand. Palmers has brewed its own ginger beer for more than a century, but decided it needed to raise the brand’s profile and give it the same premium packaging standards as Palmers’ ales and compete against other soft drink options. The new branding was created by the design agency Logo Marketing & Design. Cleeves Palmer, sales and marketing director at Palmers Brewery, said: “We have been delighted with the work carried out by the team at Logo and one year on, pack sales are up by 40%. This equates to 60% in drinks terms, as we moved from a 275ml bottle to a 330ml bottle. The new-look ginger beer is now selling well, not only through our own pubs, but also in the free trade, as well as farm shops and independent food stores between Plymouth and London. This sales increase really is testament to the power of good design.”

Brasserie Blanc branch offers breast-feeding mothers free cup of tea: The Brasserie Blanc restaurant in Cheltenham, Gloucester has made headlines by offering breast-feeding mothers a free cup of tea. The restaurant hung a chalkboard on an umbrella outside its establishment which read: “Breastfeeding mums – pop in & have a free cup of tea if you need a pit stop … no need to eat, no need to ask – please relax :)” A picture of the signboard was posted to the parenting Facebook page RefreshMe, and was promptly shared almost 8,000 times and liked 11,500. The breastfeeding-friendly sign was the brainchild of the restaurant’s general manager, Emma O’Connor. She told a newspaper that the sign was inspired by a tired mother: “I made her a cup of tea and she looked like I’d given her a million pounds.” Brasserie Blanc spokeswoman Kathryn Coury said that O’Connor “was prompted by the fact that it was so hot. She appreciates that you get thirsty and tired when breastfeeding and wanted to make people feel that they were welcomed to come in for a pit stop.” Coury said that while the other 19 Brasserie Blanc restaurants have a “policy of being welcoming and accommodating” for those either breast-feeding or bottle feeding, they do not currently offer the free tea.

Marston’s left waiting for green light over new pub in Leek: A decision on a controversial new pub Marston’s Inns and Taverns wants to build in Leek, Staffordshire has been postponed by the local council. Leek Town Council had recommended that the plan for a food-led pub-restaurant, with 150 covers internally and 40 externally, on land at the former Churnet Works, off Macclesfield Road, be refused on the grounds of highway safety and vehicle access off Churnet Way, as drivers cannot see over the bridge. Leek Council said it also considered that the 43 planned parking spaces were inadequate and that it was an inappropriate use of the land as it resulted in the loss of 52 mixed-category houses. Planning officers at Staffordshire Moorlands Council recommended the pub plan be approved, albeit with 22 conditions on the application, including an updated contamination site risk assessment, after a housing scheme was withdrawn for another part of the Churnet Works site when traces of asbestos were found. However, on Thursday, Staffordshire Moorlands Council’s planning applications committee deferred the application to a later committee hearing. Marston’s subsequently issued a statement saying: “We are still very much committed to the proposal, which will serve the local community, generating new jobs and investment.”

St Peter’s seeks tenants: The St Peter’s Brewery is looking for tenants for St Peter’s Hall, the venue it runs near Bungay, Suffolk. Colin Cordy, the company’s managing director, said the half-moated medieval Hall, dating from 1280, the brewery’s home, “has always been run as a bar, restaurant and wedding venue. Unfortunately, our last tenants have flown the nest and we are now looking for new tenants to take on this business for the future.” The hall, near Bungay, has a formal 55-cover restaurant, a library bar and other licensed rooms on the first floor. It is licensed for civil wedding ceremonies and comes with a well-equipped catering kitchen and extensive maintained grounds. 

Stratford pub sold off £625,000 asking price: The freehold of the Live and Let Live in London’s Stratford has been sold off an asking price of £625,000 by agent AG&G. The new owner, a local investor/developer, has acquired a substantial property of probably mid-Victorian origin – there has been a pub on the site since at least 1874 – with total internal usable space of 386 sq m (4,153 sq ft). The site is also large by London standards, at some 505 sq m. (5,434 sq ft). It is situated in a good residential area, within walking distance of Forest Gate, Maryland and Stratford stations. From 2018, Forest Gate will connect to Crossrail, giving easy access to the West End and Heathrow Airport.

Pizza Hut makes way for Nando’s in Rotherham: Planners in Rotherham have passed an application by Nando’s to build a new restaurant at Parkgate. The retail park’s Pizza Hut will be demolished to make way for the 372 sq m flame-grilled chicken outlet and an adjacent Subway sandwich outlet, covering 93 square metres. The officer’s report stated that the further development of Parkgate “prejudices the vitality and viability of the town centre and future investment”, but added: “No evidence exists to demonstrate that the proposed development would have a significant adverse effect on the town centre.”

Mayfair restaurant first to serve wagyu steaks since 2001: Wolfgang Puck’s steak restaurant Cut has become the first restaurant in the UK to serve Wagyu steaks since 2001 following the lifting of a lengthy import ban; the first three head of wagyu cattle allowed back into Britain have been bought by the restaurant. Executive chef David McIntyre said the six-ounce fillets had met with an enthusiastic response despite the £125 “as it comes” price tag — with side orders and vegetables on top. “It is so rich and moist with beautiful flavours,” McIntyre said. “This is very high grade meat so every once in a while it is worth it.” Wagyu, which translates as “Japanese beef”, is famed for its unusually high levels of fat marbling, which give it a distinct “melt in the mouth” tenderness and strong flavour described as having “peach and coconut tones”. Only about 4,000 Japanese cattle a year are classified as wagyu quality and only a small fraction are made available for export.

Greene King strengthens board: Greene King has appointed Rob Rowley to the board as a non-executive director with effect from 18 July. He will also become a member of the audit and nomination committees. Rowley is currently the senior independent non-executive director and chairman of the audit committee at Taylor Wimpey and chairman of the audit committees of Group and Morgan Advanced Materials. He was formerly at Reuters Group where he held various roles including that of finance director. Tim Bridge, chairman of Greene King, said: “We look forward to welcoming Rob to our board and believe that his background and experience will be a great asset to us.” This appointment brings the number of non-executives to six, including the chairman.

Chestnut Inns double bedrooms at first site: Chestnut Inns, the EIS-backed company led by Philip Turner, has doubled the number of bedrooms at its first site, The Packhorse Inn at Moulton, near Newmarket. The company has added four new en suite rooms in the former coach house of the inn – the rooms have been named Kennett, Lark, Ouse and Stour after four of the rivers which flow nearby. “It was a gamble to continue with capital investment before we had an established trading pattern, but, with weekly turnover achieving 60% more than originally predicted, we soon knew it was the right thing to do,” said Turner. The Packhorse Inn near Newmarket, which opened October 2013, was the first site for Chestnut Inns. The second, The Rupert Brooke in Grantchester, Cambridgehire, a former Enterprise Inns site, is currently being refurbished.

M&J Seafood reports rise in operating profit: UK foodservice distributor M&J Seafood saw its operating profit rise by 83% in 2013, as parent Brake Bros reported a revenue hike to pass £3 billion for the first time. The specialist seafood unit of the foodservice company, acquired by Brakes in 1999, reported an operating profit of £2.16 million for the year ending 31 December, up from £1.18m in 2012. Gross profit was £6.19m, up 12.8% year-on-year. M&J’s turnover also bounced back, after three consecutive years of falling sales. The company reported turnover of £116.33m in 2013, up by 3.7% year-on-year. This was a turnaround from 2012, when M&J posted revenues of £112.23m, down from £117.82m in 2011 and £125.14m in 2010. “We are enjoying continued success at M&J mainly in the most discerning part of the market place of the independent customers,” Martin Bott, chief executive of M&J told Undercurrent News. “2014 is also positive for us so far, with great interest in our Skipper’s Catch activity,” Bott added.

JD Wetherspoon quits the BBPA: JD Wetherspoon has resigned from membership of the British Beer and Pub Association, it has emerged. The company, which was a member of the BBPA for less than two years, tendered its resignation just over a year ago but was required to provide a year’s notice, meaning its membership lapsed only recently. Wetherspoon is the latest high profile managed operator to leave the organisation in favour of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR). The company follows Mitchells & Butlers (M&B), Spirit and Greene King in resigning from the BBPA – M&B and Spirit have joined Wetherspoon in focusing their efforts on the ALMR. Greene King has chosen not to join any trade body. A source close to Wetherspoon told Propel: “It was explained to the BBPA that our departure is nothing personal – it’s just that it was felt better to devote our resources to a trade body focused on representing retailers.” The ALMR, led by chief executive David McHattie and chaired by Tragus chief executive Steve Richards, has enjoyed several years of 30% per annum membership growth with large numbers of new multi-site pub and restaurant companies joining it, including TGI Friday’s, La Tasca, LT Pub Management, Loungers, Smith & Western and Lovely Pub Company. An ALMR source told Propel: “Over the past two years the ALMR has worked hard to offer a clear, distinct voice for retailers without a conflict of interest and established a broad coalition of vibrant, dynamic operators spanning the whole retail spectrum. If you operate in licensed hospitality, we are now the go-to organisation and the focal point for retail representation with government.” In May, the ALMR reported it now represents 170 companies, between them operating 14,000 outlets and employing over 350,000 people in pubs, clubs, bars and restaurants. Income in 2013 grew by 26% with membership income increasing by 25% and event income also growing by the same figure. ALMR chief executive David McHattie said in May: “Last year (was) a fantastic year for the ALMR, with our membership breadth and depth continuing to expand and the incorporation of dynamic and vibrant new members. That is reflected in the makeup of our council and we are delighted to welcome Eddy Passey, of Red Hot Buffet, one our newest members, to join the vital work our council does. We have seen some major political gains and have had enormous success getting our message across to politicians and policy makers – firmly underlining our standing as the leading voice for licensed retailers.”

TGI Friday’s owners mull £200m sale of UK arm: The new private equity owners of TGI Friday’s are in the early stages of considering a sale of its British arm. The company, which has more than 900 sites around the world, was bought by a pair of US private equity firms for $800m (£468m) in May. Now the pair, Sentinel Capital and TriArtisan Partners, are looking to sell the 60-strong UK arm of TGI’s, according to the Daily Telegraph. The UK business, where chief executive Karen Forrester has led a revival in fortunes, reported EBITDA of £19.9m in 2013, which could mean it is worth around £200m, allowing the firm’s new owners to recoup around 40% of their outlay. It is thought that the owners have held a beauty parade of banks to lead a potential sale and are likely to appoint advisers in the coming weeks. The company was part of Carlson – the hospitality company that also owns the Radisson hotel chain – for nearly 40 years until its sale earlier this year. But the UK arm was only bought by Carlson six years ago, having previously been run by Whitbread. Under managing director Karen Forrester, the UK business has been modernised. The company grew turnover to £166.8m in the 53 weeks to 30 December 2013, from £147.7m the year before. Ebitda climbed to £19.9m from £17.2m the year before. Sales rose 3.6% on a like-for-like basis. The company finished the period with a cash position of £11.8m. Pre-tax profit was £11,788,000 compared to £10,893,000 the year before. Five new sites were opened in the period “which are performing in excess of expectations and the company is actively seeking new sites”. The latest profit increase at TGI Friday’s in the UK paved the way for an increase in new openings in 2014. The company will create 700 new jobs this year to add to its existing 2,540 staff with seven new openings. The firm will launch a new concept restaurant – Friday’s Fast Track – that aims to serve customers within ten minutes of ordering at railway stations and other transport hubs. The first Fast Track will open at Manchester Piccadilly station. The outlet will serve food within a restaurant environment tailored to the needs of busy travellers, with power points, Wi-Fi, and individual seating. The move into fast-paced high-footfall transport hubs is part of Forrester’s vision to double the number of Friday’s in the UK to 120 by 2020, with around eight openings a year planned. The company said Manchester Piccadilly provides the perfect location, with a footfall of 24 million passengers a year, an average user age below 40, and an average passenger dwell time of nearly half an hour. Horizon’s “Ones to Watch” report suggested that “quality food on the go” will be a key growth area in the UK eating-out market, with new concepts emerging in places such as transport hubs, as consumers increasingly want to eat when they want, where they want. The new Friday’s outlet will be in the station’s upper concourse. It will have an open-plan kitchen that will offer people walking past the restaurant a glimpse of the food as it is cooked, including the new handcrafted burger range and what the company calls “classic American-inspired breakfasts with a Friday’s twist”, including waffles, maple bacon and Jack Daniel’s-candied sausages. Forrester has also previously told Propel that a planned TGI Friday’s in Brighton’s Laines area later this year, in a former Post Office building, will allow the company to push the boundaries with the brand. She said: “By nature of its location it gives us a chance to push the boundaries even further – it will be a bit more sophisticated, a bit more bohemian, a bit more eclectic. We are going to develop the social sharing platform further, more tapas, more sharing food, even more sophisticated cocktails and grills.” Forrester revealed that open kitchens are now a standard feature of new TGI Friday’s openings. An opening in Norwich featured a fully open kitchen. She said: “It’s literally fully open on four sides, where the chefs can actually hand food out to our guests. The front window actually looks into the kitchen, so as guests are walking into our restaurants they can stop and look at chefs preparing their food.”

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