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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Mon 28th Jul 2014 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Moody’s rates PizzaExpress B3 and says future price rises may be difficult: Like-for-like sales at PizzaExpress have returned to positive territory in the financial year ending 2014, after three years of negative sales, but future price increases may be difficult, the ratings company Moody’s Investors Service has stated. Moody’s is rating the company for the first time after its purchase by the Chinese private equity firm Hony Capital for £900m. A Moody’s note said: “Whilst this ability to increase prices (is) a reflection of the underlying strength of the concept and brand, Moody’s considers (the opportunity for) future price increases to be more limited, particularly in the event of a further economic downturn.” Moody’s has assigned a corporate family rating of B3 to Twinkle Pizza Holdings, the holding company of the PizzaExpress group of companies, with a stable outlook. Moody’s said it sees the UK economic recovery to be consumer-driven, and therefore expects the company’s recent positive trading trend to continue at least for the short term. The rating agency said that PizzaExpress has grown to become a strong and trusted brand since it was established in 1965. “In comparison to its main branded competitors, PizzaExpress has a very focused offering and is therefore able to operate at the lower end of the pricing scale,” it said. In addition, Moody’s has assigned a (P)B2 rating to the new £410m senior secured notes due 2021 and a (P)Caa1 rating to the new £200m senior notes due 2022, to be issued by Twinkle Pizza Holdings. The outlook on all ratings is stable. PizzaExpress’s rating reflects its highly levered capital structure, sensitivity to the underlying economy and consumer spending and competitive market. But these negatives are partially offset by its strong brand recognition in its core UK market, extensive presence on the high street and competitive operating model, Moody’s said.

Company News:

JD Wetherspoon buys fourth Irish pub, decides against buying Capital Bars portfolio: JD Wetherspoon has bought a fourth pub in southern Ireland – a site in Swords, the county town of Fingal and part of Dublin’s commuter belt located eight miles north of the city. The company has, however, decided against buying the four-strong Capital Bars portfolio of super-pubs in the centre of Dublin, which were on the market for €15 million. It has already acquired sites in Cork and Dún Laoghaire after opening its first pub in Blackrock at the start of this month. Founder Tim Martin said Wetherspoon’s pub in Cork, may open “by Christmas”. He added: “We have a couple of planning issues with the pub in Cork that we’re sorting out. I’ve seen the plans for Dún Laoghaire but I’m not sure when it will be open. We’ve recently signed contracts on the pub in Swords.” Martin said it had also bid “on a few others” but it had no other firm deals in place. He said the group considered buying Capital Bars but did not bid in the end. “We looked at them, but they’re too expensive.” Martin said he did not know how long it would take the group to get up to 30 pubs in southern Ireland, and it depended on the performance of its initial outlets. He said Wetherspoon had looked at buying pubs in Limerick, Galway and “some smaller towns”. “As long as we feel accepted, we will plough on. We are a big tax collector for the state and we will provide a lot of jobs,” he told a local newspaper. Wetherspoon will operate its Irish bars without any Diageo-distributed products, such as draught Guinness, Budweiser, Carlsberg or Smithwicks, unless it negotiates lower prices from the brewer. Martin said the company wanted to stock Diageo’s products, but it was unwilling to pay the price charged for draught beer in southern Ireland. “I don’t want to put pressure on Diageo, but we simply baulked at paying a higher price for Guinness in Ireland than we do in the UK,” he said. He declined to comment on the price difference between the two markets, but it is understood the Irish price is up to 20% higher.

Jamaica Inn sees income up by a fifth under new owner: The Jamaica Inn on Bodmin Moor in Cornwall, the subject of a novel by Daphne du Maurier, has seen income rise by 21.3% since it was bought by a new owner in March. Allen Jackson has added bedrooms and refurbished the inn since buying it in March for a reported £2m, which, together with interest sparked by a recent BBC adaption of the novel, helped push turnover for the period from 1 March to 19 July 2014 up to £605,000. This was an increase of 21.3% the same period last year. Jackson said: “From the moment I set foot in the inn, I could see its potential and I am thrilled that my impulse decision to purchase this iconic piece of Cornish heritage is proving to be so successful so soon. I’m breathing new life into this legendary establishment and aiming to continue this rate of growth.” He hopes to increase revenues further after the DVD release of Jamaica Inn and when the series is aired overseas.

Irish Examiner – M&B has abandoned expansion into Ireland: The Irish Examiner has claimed that Mitchells & Butlers has scrapped plans to expand into Ireland. The group had, reportedly, been running the rule over opportunities earlier this year, identifying up to six potential locations in Dublin and Cork. However, according to commercial property sector sources The Irish Examiner has spoken to, the company has now shelved all plans for Ireland, with it seemingly more concerned about integrating its recent Orchid purchase and further expanding in its core UK market.

Spirit non-executive director increases stake by circa one-third: Tony Rice, a non-executive director of Spirit Pub Company, has bought £152,506-worth of shares in the company, increasing his stake by around a third. The addition of the 206,984 shares, which were bought at 73.68p each, takes Rice’s holding to 810,000 shares. The purchase comes a few weeks after the group toasted a strong third quarter’s trading. Spirit’s managed estate grew like-for-like net sales by 6% in the 12 weeks to 24 May, which it said was ahead of the market.

Vinoteca secures fifth site: Wine bar chain Vinoteca has secured its fifth site, this time located within the 1 St Pancras scheme at King’s Cross. The brand was founded in 2005 by Charlie Young and Brett Woonton – it saw investment in 2012 from Hill Capital Partners, the investment vehicle of Paul Campbell. Current sites are located in St John’s Street, Farringdon, Beak Street, Soho, Seymour Place, Marylebone and Chiswick. The St Pancras Square scheme will also host an opening by Drake & Morgan next year.

LGA names five brands serving the saltiest meals: JD Wetherspoon, Jamie’s Italian, Carluccio’s, a Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant and Wagamama were found to serve the saltiest dishes in a survey by the Local Government Association. All five were found to serving dishes with more salt content that the recommended government limit of 6g salt consumption for adults per day. The salt reduction targets were launched five months ago but council authorities across the UK have accused restaurants and pub chains of “dragging their heels” over the new measures. Jamie’s Italian and Subway are the only two companies to commit to reducing salt in the food they sell to customers. The saltiest meal on any high street in the UK is gammon with eggs, chips and peas from JD Wetherspoon, which contains 8.9g of salt per portion. Jamie’s Italian game meatball dish had 8.1g salt per 570g portion, Carluccio’s spaghetti alle vongole in bianco had 8.0g of salt, Gordon Ramsay’s The Savoy Grill serves steamed mussels cider cream sauce and fries with 7.3g salt per 510g portion while Wagamama’s Yaki Udon has 7.0g salt per 620g portion. JD Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon, said: “Meals that contain gammon and bacon have a higher salt content, but are very popular with our customers and ultimately it is for them to make their own decisions. We are continually working in conjunction with our food suppliers and the Food Standards Agency to reduce the salt content in our meals.”

Toby Carvery offers 20% discount amid heatwave: Mitchells & Butlers carvery brand Toby Carvery is offering a 20% on all food across the estate this week – the brand normally sees subdued trading during hot weather. The offer exclude Sunday and its Frimley and Southend branches but is otherwise valid, with a voucher, for up to six guests on all food excluding breakfast and drinks. The offer started on Saturday (26 July) and lasts until this Friday (1 August). 

Sky reports revenues from pubs rose by 4% last year: Sky chief executive Jeremy Darroch has reported that the satellite broadcaster saw a rise in income from the pub sector last year, the year when BT entered the market. “Some pub outlets have turned to food, but I wouldn’t define that as a change in the sector as a whole,” Darroch told The Financial Times. Sky’s revenues from pubs rose 4% last year, with an increased number of outlets, he said.

Starbucks to launch fizzy drinks range globally and expand ‘rare coffees’ line-up: Starbucks is launching its new fizzy drinks range globally, expanding its range of rare “exotic” coffees and offering customisable espressos. The first premium coffees from its own farm in Costa Rica will launch in September, with other “world” coffees under its Reserve high-end range on the way. Fizzy drinks, which have been launched under the Fizzio brand name, will also be rolled out internationally, after successful tests in the United States, Japan and Singapore. The company piloted three flavours last month – lemon ale, golden ginger ale, and spiced root beer. Starbucks also plans to launch new customised espresso beverages and cold coffee drinks, while new store layouts are being introduced to showcase different brewing methods. It also plans to pilot its mobile ordering service in a “major market” in the United States later this year. Howard Schultz, Starbucks’ founder, told analysts on a conference call last week after the company revealed another consecutive quarter of global like-for-like sales increases of 5% or more: “It’s clear to us in our research that express order and pay is a big, big idea.”

Pizza Hut reveals success of Xbox pizza ordering app: Pizza Hut’s tie-up with the Xbox game platform, which saw a Pizza Hut pizza ordering app appear on the Xbox dashboard, delivered almost 16,000 game players to its pizza order page in a month, at a cost of just £33,000, it has been revealed. The app also offered exclusive Halo 4 avatars, much appreciated in the gaming world, and special battles for one-off prizes including branded controllers and headphones. The Pizza Hut Delivery app, launched in 2013, smashed the Xbox category click-through rate record, with twice as many people clicking through from the homepage tile ad to the branded area that its nearest rival app. In one month, more than 45,500 people clicked on the Pizza Hut Delivery ad tile, with 15,497 people requesting Pizza Hut Delivery branded content and 15,828 going on to the pizza order page. Developer SMG said: “The in-game delivery app was the perfect fit for a savvy, young audience who crave pizza and want it in the fastest, easiest way possible.” 

Cabana founder Jamie Barber raises £5m: Cabana founder Jamie Barer has raised £5m towards the expansion of if his three-strong Hush brasserie and five-strong Cabana Brazilian barbecue brands, The Sunday Times has reported. Investors include Zoopla founder Alex Chesterman, serial investor Nigel Wray and French Connection chairman Stephen Marks. Cabana, which opened its first site three years ago, has openings lined up in Leeds, Manchester and London O2 arena. Hush first opened in 1989. The two brands have a combined turnover of almost £20m. Barber has also agreed a new £2m loan with HSBC.

Gus Evans to open second London gastro-pub: Gus Evans, owner of The Butcher’s Hook in Fulham, will open his second site at the location of the old Thatched House in Hammersmith, west London – called The Butcher’s Hook Ravenscourt Park, it opens its doors on 11 August. He plans to serve an array of fresh, hearty food in a relaxed setting in the heart of the ‘pocket’ between Shepherd’s Bush, Chiswick and Hammersmith. Originally from New Zealand, Evans’ early career included stints running Deals in Chelsea Harbour and The Big Easy on the King’s Road in the early 1990s, before becoming operations director at Adam and Kate Robinson’s group of restaurants – The Bollo gastro-pub in Acton, The Chiswick restaurant and The Salt House in St John’s Wood. In 2003, he was appointed restaurant development manager at the Hoxton Apprentice, the government-sponsored training restaurant, and in 2005 he went on to set up The Butcher’s Hook. Gus’ wife Laura now works alongside him, and is playing a key role in the transformation of the new site in Ravenscourt Park. 

McDonald’s abandons drive-through plans after building gets Grade II listing: McDonald’s has pulled out of plans to open a drive-through restaurant at The Blue Boys cafe in Matfield, near Tunbridge Wells, Kent, after a successful campaign to have the historic building listed. The property was granted a Grade II listing by English Heritage on 15 May this year, just two days after its owner, Rexton Investments, demolished the oldest part of the structure. Rexton launched an appeal into the decision, but the Department for Culture, Media and Sport refused a review and instead asked English Heritage to amend the building’s entry on the National Heritage List for England to reflect the special architectural and historic interest of the former inn. As a result, McDonald’s has abandoned its interest. A spokesman for the chain said: “I can confirm we will not be proceeding with plans to develop the site in Matfield.” The decision is a victory for residents who have fought tooth and nail to prevent McDonald’s opening a restaurant in the village since the plan was announced in January this year.

Three brands close in Ealing, two to open: Ealing town centre is going through a big shake-up with three restaurants closing and two set to open. Tragus brands Bella Italia and Café Rouge have closed alongside the Green Mango Café in The Green, Ealing. Meanwhile, a spokeswoman from the Ealing Broadway Shopping Centre confirmed the all day diner Grillshack and Caribbean restaurant Turtle Bay will open in the centre, but could not say when. She said: “We have handed over access to both who are currently fitting in units.”

JD Wetherspoon plans new-build pub in Hatfield: JD Wetherspoon has submitted plans for a new-build pub restaurant in Hatfield – a purpose-built aircraft hangar-like building in Comet Square, near the town’s Aldi supermarket. Documents submitted to Welwyn Hatfield Council revealed the pub chain’s plans for the vacant 1,503 square metre plot. A planning statement read: “The proposal is to form a structure to loosely resemble an aircraft hanger, this design approach has been taken to project a modern and uplifting building and equally subservient to the surrounding structures. The new beer garden will be enclosed by a stainless steel and glass balustrade and planter box screening with up lighters. The beer garden is to be securely enclosed and landscaped with hard paving, Astroturf and drift planting with wood chipping finishes.”

Rosa’s secures £500,000 of new funding and two sites: Thai cafe concept Rosa’s, led by Alex Moore, has secured £500,000 of new funding and sites in Angel and Chelsea, which are expected to open in October. The new investment has come from three private investors who are members of the UK Angel Investment Network. They have taken a 10% stake in the company, which values it at £5m. Rosa’s, which was founded in 2008, hopes to expand from its current four sites to ten by the end of 2017.

Historic Sunderland pub to be restored in arts hub project: The Dun Cow pub in Sunderland, nationally famous for its carved wooden bar decorated with Art Nouveau-style woodcarving and plaster reliefs, has been bought on behalf of the Sunderland Mac Trust, as the first phase of its plans to turn the adjacent old Sunderland fire station into a centre for music, arts and culture. The pub, which went up for sale in February for £220,000 with agent Christie + Co, is in the Campaign for Real Ale’s list of outstanding historical pubs because of its Edwardian interior. John Mowbray, a trust member with the Mac Trust, which stands for music, arts and culture, said the pub has a significant role to play in Sunderland’s cultural future. “The aim is to create a cultural hub around the Edwardian Quarter which incorporates the Sunderland Empire, The Dun Cow and the old fire station, all of which were built between 1900 and 1910,” he said. The pub will now be closed for about three months as the roof is repaired and restorations are made to its period features. Once open, it will be a traditional pub as well as a venue for music and comedy, with plans in place to use its upstairs rooms.

Portman Group raps beer distributor for nine ‘rude’ beer names: The Portman Group has found nine beers sold by the beer distributor Direct Beers with vulgar names in breach of its standards. In a report, the drinks industry watchdog has criticised the beers for appealing to children and their reference to sexual activity. One beer, called Puke, was found to appeal to under 18s because of the use of a cartoon of someone being sick and the childish font on its label. The beers were reported by Newcastle City Council officers, who spotted that the beers were for sale on a market stall over the Christmas period. A city council spokesman said: “The labelling on these beer bottles was vulgar – but our main concern was that the immature artwork could easily appeal to under-18s. We had no hesitation in making a complaint to the alcohol standards people at the Portman Group.” Stephen Gee, who owns Direct Beers Limited, which is based in Belper, Derbyshire, said: “The decision by the Portman Group is merely an opinion, which they have provided no evidence to support, and it is an opinion which is not legally enforceable in any way.”

Boston Tea Party opens second cafe-bar, fifteenth site in total: Boston Tea Party (BTP) opens its second cafe-bar at The School Yard in Harborne today, its fifteenth site. Following a ten-week build, the new cafe on the unit has been transformed into a space that can seat 100 guests inside, with a further 50 outside in a private walled garden at the Grade II listed landmark. Sam Roberts, managing director of BTP, said: “Following the opening of our existing cafe-bar in Birmingham city centre in 2012, our customers have been suggesting we look at the surrounding areas too. We’ve been searching for suitable locations and buildings, and Harborne fitted the bill perfectly. The School Yard is a great scheme with bags of character and enables us to have an outside seating area, which we were very keen on. The transformation that the unit has gone through is incredible and we hope everyone enjoys the finished cafe. We’re very proud of it.” EDG Property managing director Neil Edginton said “This is another great name for Harborne and shows yet further confidence in Birmingham generally. Boston Tea Party is a great brand and adds strength to the mix of operators already open. This is the fifteenth site for Boston Tea Party and the first to have extended opening hours, from 7am to 11pm each day. We are really proud of The School Yard and are now extremely focused on the new contemporary residential building at the scheme, which will start on site in the coming months.”

Inventive Bar Company hires head of sales as turnover rises 19% year-on-year: Inventive Bar Company, the leading national premium bar operator, has appointed Mandy Higgins to the new position of head of sales, responsible for the continued growth of pre-booked sales for the Revolution and Revolución de Cuba brands, which are currently enjoying 19% year-on-year growth. Higgins joins Inventive Bar Company from David Lloyd Leisure Group, Europe’s leading racquets and health and fitness provider, where she held the position of regional sales manager. Her remit across the Revolution and Revolución de Cuba brands will include driving the strategic objectives for pre-booked sales, managing sales teams together with driving operational best-practice to increase sales performance and margins. Kate Eastwood, director of business development at Inventive said: “Mandy has a wealth of experience in delivering a clearly defined strategy to hit financial targets, whilst also bringing best-practice principles from outside our industry, which is always refreshing. Head of sales is a new position for the business and represents a significant commitment on our part to pre-booked revenue to reflect the change in the market from walk in sales to pre-arranged group visits. Mandy joins the business at an extremely exciting time, with the Revolution and Revolución de Cuba brands enjoying exceptional growth in pre-booked sales and further initiatives scheduled for this year to drive continued growth in this category.”

Bradford brewery and brewpub plan gets go-ahead: Plans for a new brewery and brewpub in Bradford City Centre have been given the go-ahead by Bradford Council. The application was approved under delegated powers to change the use of the former Shaw’s Moisture Metres factory in Rawson Road, Bradford, and create the new Bradford Brewery and Brewfactory pub. Managing director Matthew Halliday said this means that contractors should be appointed within the next three weeks and work on the site could then begin in August – with the aim of opening the brewery in November. He said: “We’re absolutely thrilled with the decision and I’d like to thank the Bradford Council staff and councillors who were involved in ensuring this application was processed so quickly and effectively. We’re aware it’s a hugely ambitious scheme but the council were really supportive and positive about what we’re trying to achieve. We’re now looking forward to getting builders on site and turning this lovely old factory into a fully operational brewery and pub.” The £400,000 development is at the heart of the Bradford City Centre Growth Zone and the major refurbishment of the historic factory is part funded by a Bradford Council Growth Zone grant. Planning officers said the development was ‘welcomed’ as it would create a business unit in a vacant property, bringing growth and employment. The scheme will create 11 full time jobs in the long term and many more will be involved in the design and construction of the brewery.

Starbucks looks at second Worthing site: Starbucks is looking at opening in Worthing town centre, a few weeks after it won a bid to open in Broadwater, on the edge of the Sussex seaside town. The coffee chain has put in a planning application to convert the Bliss clothes shop, next to Debenhams, in South Street. Worthing town centre manager Sharon Clarke said: “Worthing is known for its great independent cafe scene and this will still be vibrant in the town but as town centre shopping moves toward becoming a leisure activity, places to sit and socialise are becoming more important.” 

Punch licensees help create new beer: A team of Punch Taverns licensees has created their own beer, with the help of Everards brewery in Leicester, which will now be exclusively available on Punch’s Finest Cask guest ale programme this autumn. Punch organised the “gold cask ale champion course” in conjunction with Everards, with Graham Giblett, Everards’ head brewer, leading the team of licensees through the brewing process, from the raw materials and ingredients. A spokesman said: “Punch partners were then able to plan the hops, malt, ABV and colour to create their recipe with inspiration on hand with the fantastic range of beers.” The end result was a new beer called Brief Encounter. Punch’s Finest Cask guest ale programme will run from October to November, at all Punch pubs.

UK beer sales rise at the highest rate since 1997: UK beer sales increased at the highest rate since the quarterly survey began in 1997 according to the latest UK Quarterly Beer Barometer from the British Beer & Pub Association. Following the historic second cut in Beer Duty there was growth in both the on- and off-trade, with April to June bringing pubs their first quarterly beer sales increase in over two years. Pub beer sales saw a positive quarter for the first time since 2011, with the 2.6% increase representing the highest rate of quarterly sales growth in the 21st Century. A combination of a later Easter and the World Cup is believed to have helped boost trade, along with the duty cut in the Budget. Beer sales in off-licences and supermarkets saw the greatest boost in the quarter, with an increase of 16.9% on the same quarter in 2013. It also represents the first twelve month period where off-trade sales of beer were higher than on-trade sales. Chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “It has been a good quarter. These figures show in dramatic fashion the continued impact of the government’s decision to cut beer duty again, to encourage consumers towards our low-strength, British-made national drink. The boost for pubs is especially welcome. Two previous World Cup tournaments were unable to turn around declining sales – these new figures indicate that the industry is moving in the right direction. With further cuts in beer duty, we can deliver on investment, growth and jobs.”

Freehold of Cardiff Burger King goes for £990,000: The freehold of a Burger King drive-through restaurant at 473 Newport Road, Cardiff has been bought for £990,000 by a private investor. The single-storey building, let to Burger King on a 25-year lease expiring in 2024 with an annual rent of £75,000, was sold by Chadwick Holdings. The £990,000 purchase price reflects a net initial yield of 7.2%. Alder King acted on behalf of Chadwick while Savills represented the private investor.

Restaurants plan proposed for Burnley: Ambitious plans are being drawn up to create a leisure park complete with nine screen cinema, six restaurants and a coffee shop in Burnley town centre. The multi-million pound development has been earmarked for the former Pioneer site, off Active Way, currently being used as a car park. Experienced leisure and retail developer, Terrace Hill, part of Urban and Civic plc, has bought the site from Burnley Borough Council. A car park for 287 vehicles will also be created, which developers want to see completed by the summer of 2016. Burnley Council leader Mark Townsend said: “This is excellent news and we will work closely with Terrace Hill to make this happen as quickly as possible. It’s part of a far bigger picture of investment in Burnley town centre, which will transform the way it looks and make it even more attractive to shoppers and visitors.”

Addiction campaigners want brewery to back alcohol-free pub: Addiction campaigners are looking for a brewer or large corporation to help fund an alcohol-free pub in Sevenoaks, Kent, which is claimed to have experienced the highest rise in drink-related hospital admissions in the county. The claim is based on figures that show a rise in the town, population 29,500, over ten years of 25 extra alcohol-related hospital admissions a year, or two a month. The district’s Community Safety Partnership made an unsuccessful bid to Comic Relief’s £500,000 Give it Up Fund, designed to back projects that combat drug and alcohol dependency. Now it is looking for help from a large corporation, or even a brewery. A draft report prepared for the partnership, which is made up of health professionals, local authorities and the emergency services, said: “Kent has seen a steady increase in alcohol related hospital admissions over the past ten years. Sevenoaks has seen the sharpest rise in numbers during this period, 45.5%, 25 additional residents, making a total of 80 alcohol-related hospital admissions.”

Punch Taverns’ £20,000 support funds crucial home visits: Vital home visits to people in difficult circumstances are set to continue, thanks to Punch Tavern’s continued £20,000 annual support of the Licensed Trade Charity’s Support and Care Volunteer Visitors Programme. This will be Punch Tavern’s seventh year of continued support for the scheme, which enables volunteers to give their time and services for free, by funding the volunteers’ training and travel expenses. Last year, Support & Care gave 744 people financial support worth a total £931,000. “We are enormously grateful to Punch Taverns for continuing its sponsorship of our national Volunteer programme for another year. It is good that they understand the crucial role this scheme has in turning peoples’ lives around,” said Liz Gaffer, director of marketing and charity services at the Licensed Trade Charity. Jackie Burn, human resources director for Punch Taverns said: “We are delighted to continue our funding of the Support & Services’ Volunteer Visitors. We see this sponsorship as a ‘no brainer’, as it simply enables volunteers – who are giving their time and expertise for free – to continue their excellent work. Many of the people asking for help have hit hard times through no fault of their own, and this support is the beginning of helping them to turn their lives around.”

Noble Inns hires Neil Rankin as executive chef, outlines new brand: Noble Inns, the London-based, award-winning gastro-pub operator, has announced the appointment of Neil Rankin as group executive chef and enlarged upon its future plans for its newest brand “Bad Egg”. Managing director Simon Holroyd: “Over the last few months we have been reviewing our expansion plans and the structure needed to compliment those plans. Asking Neil to join us on the senior management team was the logical step in ensuring our food offer is amongst the best in London. Neil has done tremendous things with Smokehouse and has a rare understanding of food, provenance and the physical dynamics of running a kitchen. We want to utilise those skills and help us continue to enhance our food offer across our businesses both present and future. Neil has now redesigned and launched a new food offer at The Princess of Shoreditch which remains very pub faced but more modern and bold in its approach.” Scott Hunter, founder of Noble Inns, added: “Our expansion will see us continue doing what we are doing and also look in new directions for our customer offer in future sites, its great to keep things interesting and Neil is just the man to help us do that. We have created a new concept “Bad Egg” that we will be launching in the City toward the end of the year. This new concept will retain all the standards and touches that have made Noble Inns great over the years but be a bar / restaurant as opposed to a pub. It will be bolder in its approach to design and food and will take a new look at how international diner food can be approached. As well as Neil’s expanded role within Noble Inns he is a partner in this new venture so we look forward to working with him for many years to come.” Neil Rankin added: “The last year with Noble Inns has been the highlight of my career so far. Smokehouse has performed better than we could have imagined and working with a company who have such strong values has been a reward in itself. I’m very proud to be working with them for the foreseeable future and taking on my new role. The Princess is a well-established business with great customers and a good reputation, so it’s exciting to look at new ways of developing the food offer. The ‘Bad Egg’ project is something that’s keeping me up at night thinking of new dishes and new ideas. I have a feeling it is going to shake things up a bit. People keep asking me what its like and I firmly believe it’s not like anything I’ve seen before.” Noble Inns was established in 2008 and currently operates the award winning gastro-pubs The Princess of Shoreditch and The Lady Ottoline which focus on delivering hearty and wholesome pub fare with excellent service standards, innovative drinks lists and guest beers. The Pig and Butcher in Islington focuses on ethically sourced ingredients, rare breads and fish caught off the south coast by day boats. Meat is butchered and hung on-site and prepared carefully and cooked on a Robata grill. Smokehouse in Islington is steered by acclaimed chef Neil Rankin who smokes, barbeques and roast his meats using sustainably sourced English Oak. Smokehouse guests can also enjoy a range of 20 draft ales from all around the world.

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