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Tue 29th Jul 2014 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Molson Coors Europe boss Mark Hunter to take over as chief executive after Peter Swinburn retires: A Scottish born executive is to take the top job at Molson Coors. Mark Hunter, head of Molson Coors’ European operations, is to take over as chief executive when the current chief executive, Peter Swinburn retires at the end of the year. Swinburn, 61, who has worked in the brewing industry for 40 years, has been chief executive of Molson Coors since 2008. Molson Coors’ chairman, Peter Coors, said: “Peter has led the company through a period of significant growth and change, with milestones that include the formation of the MillerCoors JV in the US, the acquisition of StarBev in Europe, and the development of additional strong and growing global brands. Simply put, we are a stronger, more global and more dynamic company today as a result of Peter’s influence.” Recently Molson Coors, the world’s seventh biggest brewer by volume in 2013, has focused on cutting debt levels, while planning to boost dividends. The company has also sought to expand its portfolio of higher-margin speciality and craft beers. Hunter will join Molson Coors’s board when he takes over as chief executive after Swinburn’s retirement, the company said. He previously served as president and chief executive of Molson Coors UK. Before that, he was chief commercial officer for Molson Coors Canada with responsibility for all sales and marketing activities. Earlier in his career, Hunter managed the export markets and business unit strategy for Bass Brewers and marketing management of the Carling brand. He has also served on the board of Bass Brewers as marketing director and the board of Coors Brewers. Before joining Bass in 1989, he held sales positions with Hallmark Cards and Bulmers Drinks. 

Industry News:

Councils urged to offer free doggy bags to restaurants: Local authorities are being encouraged to provide free doggy bags to restaurants in a bid to cut food waste. The Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) is urging local authorities to follow the lead of Oxfordshire County Council, which is rolling out free take home boxes in 100 restaurants across the county. Research by SRA found that the average restaurant throws out 21 tonnes of food a year, with a third of all waste swept directly from diners’ plates into the bin. Mark Linehan, managing director of the SRA, said: “These simple, recycled, compostable boxes, provide the perfect means to deliver a simple message, transport a tasty meal, and help restaurants to throw away less food.”

Garden centres “picking up pub business”: Pubs are suffering at the hands of garden centre cafes, an expert has claimed. Chris Brown, a director at the catering and conference consultancy Turpin Smale, said: “I do subscribe to the view that cafes are the new pubs in terms of being convenient meeting places. Pubs are changing but not fast enough to compete with the all-day, good-value, open-to-all cafes in garden centres or high streets. The other change is that garden centres are realising they can become visitor-attraction leisure destinations where the catering offer is key.” Gary Carvosso, managing director of the Kent-based garden centre company Coolings, said: “We have grown catering by 20% this year. We’ve picked up local pubs’ lunchtime trade – you only have to see how quiet they are.”

Cask Marque reaches 9,000 pubs: Cask Marque, the industry watchdog responsible for assessing the quality of cask ale in pubs nationwide, has reached a milestone by awarding accreditation to its 9,000th pub. The Court Inn in Durham was nominated for Cask Marque by Timothy Taylors, and received two unannounced visits from Cask Marque inspector Jim Kerr in May and June. All beers on the bar were sampled for temperature, clarity, aroma and taste, and were scored out of a maximum of 20 marks. Paul Nunny, executive director at Cask Marque, said: “In 1997 when Cask Marque was founded, just 250 pubs in the UK displayed the Cask Marque plaque at the end of the first year. To reach 9,000 accredited pubs in 2014 demonstrates the great improvement in the quality of cask ale today, and how important Cask Marque is in helping to promote the importance of quality to drinkers.”

Restaurants set to open in autumn at Silverburn extension: The real estate investment trust Hammerson has confirmed it is on course to complete its £20m leisure extension at the Silverburn shopping centre in Pollok, Glasgow in the first quarter of next year. However, many of the nine new restaurants could open as early as this autumn. Among those already signed up to the 10,900 square metre development, where construction started in 2013, are Carluccio’s, Cosmo’s, PizzaExpress, Chimichanga, TGI Friday’s and Zizzi. Almost half of the total footprint will be taken up by a 14-screen Cineworld cinema. Hammerson said the site is 91% let and added: “The majority of the restaurants are due to open in autumn 2014 with the remainder of the scheme open for business in early 2015.”

Matthew Fort is hired as food curator at St Pancras International: Matthew Fort, the food writer, critic and judge on BBC2’s Great British Menu, has been appointed the first food curator at St Pancras International railway station in London. The new position, which was created especially for Fort, will see him work closely with HS1, St Pancras International’s owner, to continue expanding the food and drink offer at the station. Fort, who is currently travelling around Italian islands looking out for new ingredients and dishes, said: “For me there is no better way to start a journey than sipping on a coffee with a sandwich or a delicious slice of cake while watching people walk by. Train travel is one of the most romantic ways of seeing the world and with its amazing Barlow Shed roof, St Pancras International has to be one of the most visually stunning stations in the world. There are more than 24 food retailers at the station, meaning that consumers can get their hands on a vast selection of products, sample the latest seasonal produce and enjoy their favourite tipple – all on the go. I’m excited to start working with the retailers to showcase the amazing food that is available at commuter’s fingertips whether it’s a panino for a trip to Paris or a cupcake for the journey home to Corby.”

Propel columnist publishes book: The Propel columnist and alcohol policy commentator Paul Chase, who is a director of the leading sector training company CPL Training, has published a book called Culture Wars and Moral Panic: The Story of Alcohol and Society. The book costs just £10 and signed copies are available by emailing Holly Carr on holly.carr@cpltraining.co.uk

Company News:

Whitbread trials takeaway at Brewer’s Fayre brand: Whitbread is trialing a takeaway service at selected Brewer’s Fayre sites. The takeaway menu includes 13 items. Of the offer at the Sidcup Place outlet in Kent, one blogger said: “Frustratingly, the takeaway menu doesn’t seem to have found its way onto the excellent Brewer’s Fayre website so you have to either order when you get there or swing by on a preparatory visit. When my food came, it was exactly what I’d hoped for; unsubtle but big and tasty. No one goes to Brewer’s Fayre expecting The Ivy, but you do get a good feed. For takeaway purposes, the packaging was spot on. Consideration was given to things like custard and salads, which were packed appropriately. The downside was arguably the price. My rack of ribs at £11.29 didn’t exactly break the bank but it is not what you would hope to pay for a takeaway meal and cost the same as it would have done had I eaten in and consumed it piping hot, with staff waiting on me.”

Kout Food Group acquires Coffee Snobs: The Kout Food Group (KFG) has completed the full share acquisition of Costa Coffee franchisee Coffee Snobs through its UK division, Kout Food Restaurants UK. Kout Food Restaurants UK already operates eight Costa Coffee shops in the south west, and also has a portfolio of more than 170 restaurants in the UK, operating brands such as Burger King, Little Chef, KFC as well as home-grown concepts such as Maison Blanc and Cha Cha Moon. This latest acquisition of a Costa franchise partner sees the addition of a further 14 outlets to the UK division. Coffee Snobs was incorporated in 2004 and is based in Ruislip, United Kingdom. It has Costa locations in Beaconsfield, Berkhamsted, Marlow, Potters Bar, Princes Risborough, Ruislip, South Harrow, Stanmore, Stockley Park, Tring, and Wendover. Fadwa Al Homaizi, chairwoman of Kout Food Restaurants UK, said: “We are immensely proud to welcome Coffee Snobs and all of its team members to the KFG family. We are looking forward to building upon their great success to date, and to growing the business.” Coffee Snobs director Paul Messenger added: “We would like to express our thanks to everyone who has demonstrated such loyalty and support over the past ten years. KFG is a highly respected restaurant organisation and existing Costa Coffee operator, and we are wholly confident that they will continue to nurture and develop the Coffee Snob business and its people in the years ahead.”

Primark to expand Costa Coffee trial: The Primark/Penneys chain, which has 277 shops across nine EU countries, is to extend its Costa Coffee trial after the success of coffee outlets at Primark branches in Manchester and Bristol. Two more Costa sites will open at branches in Chester and Newcastle upon Tyne, followed by a possible estate-wide roll-out. Primark’s chief executive, Paul Marchant, said: “The reaction to those two has been really positive. Customer feedback has been great – they tell us that it’s a chance to recharge part-way through their shop. We have a bag check where they can leave their shopping in a cubby-hole and go and have a coffee, refresh, recharge and then carry on shopping. It’s definitely working from that perspective. We are looking at extending the coffee shop trial with stores in Chester and Newcastle, and from that we are going to make a decision as to whether we roll it out any further. There are plenty of coffee shops around, but it’s more about entertaining customers when they are in the store and encouraging them to spend more time. Mary Street [in Dublin] is the one that we’d consider. It’s the large stores, where you need a couple of hours to shop the whole store.”

New World Pub Company to open £1m Deansgate Botanist site next week: New World Pub Company will open the latest Botanist on Deansgate in Manchester next Monday (4 August) after a £1m refurbishment. The site formerly traded as Label bar and is the first site Tim Bacon opened in Manchester . Bacon owned the site in the 1990s when it was JW Johnson’s, his first Manchester bar. Bacon told the Manchester Evening News: “It is quite surreal walking back into where it all began 21 years ago. Manchester was such a different place then. A lot of memories of all sorts, emotional even! I look forward to breathing some new life into the old girl. This is the reinvented pub, we want people to walk in and feel comfortable, they know what they are getting with the menu, but then we exceed their expectations with what we deliver. If you were to nostalgically look back and think of what you would ever want from a local pub, that is what we aim to create here. It is everything for everyone.” The menu includes deli boards, comfort food such as pie and chips and scampi, as well as the “hanging kebabs” served at the company’s Oast House venue and roast chicken from a rotisserie. On the drinks menu there will be a range of 45 cocktails, four local real ales on tap and an “almanac menu” of 57 bottled beers.

Newcastle world buffet restaurant closes: A “world buffet” restaurant above Haymarket metro station in the heart of Newcastle upon Tyne advertised as offering “the ultimate dining experience” has closed. The Kingdom buffet restaurant, owned by Greenmoat Limited, opened in 11,818 sq ft of space in one of Newcastle city centre’s best known building to offer diners food from all over the world, including Japanese, Spanish, Chinese, Mexican and British dishes. Restaurateur Terry Ho, a Greenmoat director, has issued a notice in The London Gazette announcing a meeting of creditors, which will take place tomorrow (Wednesday 30 July). It is not known how many jobs have been lost in the closure nor why the business failed. The creditors’ meeting is set to be held at the offices of Rowlands Restructuring & Insolvency in Yarm, North Yorkshire, where joint liquidators will release a full list of names and addresses of the company’s creditors. A spokesman for Nexus, which operates the Tyne and Wear Metro service, said: “Haymarket Metro station is an important city centre gateway and we hope that the owners of this retail unit will find a new tenant as soon as possible.”

Intellectual property rights of Rennie Mackintosh tearooms company put up for sale: A piece of Scotland’s artistic and culinary heritage is being put up for sale with the marketing by intellectual property (IP) specialist Metis Partners of the assets of Miss Cranston’s Tearooms Ltd in Glasgow. The brand is “inextricably linked with the name of Charles Rennie Mackintosh”, Scotland’s internationally renowned architect and designer, the company said, and “redolent of Victorian and Edwardian glamour.” Mackintosh designed interiors, exteriors, posters and graphics for the cafes. Metis Partners has been called in to co-ordinate the global marketing of the IP assets of the Glasgow-based company, which also owned 13 branches of the artisan bakers and tearooms company HR Bradford. The company went out of business last year. Nat Baldwin, of Metis Partners, who is organising the global marketing drive, said: “The Miss Cranston name is synonymous with elegance, good taste and artistic innovation and integrity. The association with an artist of the stature of Mackintosh gives the brand an unprecedented international allure. We are anticipating an intense interest from around the world from people and enterprises operating in the hospitality, food and drink, events, tourism, heritage brands and arts sectors.” Assets in the Miss Cranston sale include a broad range of valuable branded domain names, goodwill in the brand and reputation and registered trademarks. A deadline for offers has been set at noon on 7 August.

KFC seeks fifth outlet in Reading close to McDonald’s: KFC is looking to open its fifth outlet in Reading, on the Forbury Retail Park, a few hundred yards from a McDonald’s outlet. Landlord Standard Life Investments has applied for planning permission to erect a 246 square metre building within the existing car park to be used as a drive-through KFC restaurant. The application has been called in for consideration by Reading Council’s planning application committee over concerns relating to the loss of car parking spaces and the anti-social behaviour which could arise in the surrounding area.

Square Pie launches retail push: The London-based pie chain Square Pie, which currently has five restaurants across the capital, is launching its pies into the retail market. A contract with Ocado and Selfridges will see the firm selling its original range alongside a mini version – the Canapie – to target the sharing and slimming markets. Founder Martin Dewey told The Daily Telegraph: “Canapies are only around 200 calories each, so you can have two and a salad for lunch if you’re watching your weight. We’ve spent five years getting the process just right. It’s cost me a lot of grey hairs but we own the trademark and we’re the first people to launch a mini pie in this way.”

Bath Ales opens Beerd pop-up in Bristol: Bath Ales has opened a pop-up version of Beerd, Bristol’s first craft beer bar, in the Bristol suburb Clifton Village. The Beerd pop-up, based in the former Havana Cafe site on Clifton Down Road, will be open for eight weeks, selling a wide range of different styles of Beerd beers will be on offer. Robin Couling, the managing director of Bath Ales, said: “We had to move quickly to get this pop-up ready and we’re excited to do something different. Beerd is extremely popular in Bristol and really making a name for itself. This is a great opportunity to showcase the variety of different styles of craft beer which Beerd brewery has to offer and we think it will appeal to the people of Clifton.”

Bounce lines up second site: The ping-pong bar operator Bounce is due to open its second site, this time in Shoreditch, East London. The original Bounce opened in Holborn, central London in 2012, offering cocktails, pizza and 17 table tennis tables in a 12,500 sq ft site. The new venue will work under a similar format, with 18 ping-pong tables, and a capacity of 440 people. The company is understood to be considering a car park site below Sainsbury’s on the corner of Old Street and Pitfield Street. Bounce is the brainchild of the entrepreneur and table tennis player Dov Penzik and Adam Breeden, the co-founder of the All Star Lanes restaurant and bowling concept.

Hotcha lines up tenth opening, this time in Bath: The ambitious Chinese takeaway chain Hotcha is opening its 10th outlet in Lower Bristol Road, Bath. Last month Hotcha unveiled plans to open more than 100 stores in the next five years through the launch of a new franchise scheme. The chain, which serves freshly-made Chinese dishes for collection or delivery, was founded two years ago by entrepreneur James Liang, who had a vision to create the UK’s first national Chinese takeaway brand. It now has six outlets in Bristol, and one each in Swindon, Stroud and Yate, Somerset. A second Bath outlet is believed to be planned on the London Road.

Greene King begins hosting opening days for prospective tenants at brewery: Greene King’s tenanted division, Pub Partners, has begun hosting regular open days for prospective licensees at the home of its main offices and brewery in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. Taking place every three months, the free event includes a tour of the historic brewery and new St Edmund craft brewery, cask ale tasting and an opportunity to meet Greene King Business Development Managers (BDM’s). Clive Chesser, business unit director for Greene King Pub Partners, said: “For anyone interested in running one of our pubs, we think it is really important to get to know the heart of our business; our brewery and most importantly our people. We have firm family roots in Bury St Edmunds and these informal open days allow us to proudly show off what makes us, in my mind, the best in the business.” Since starting the open days, Greene King has welcomed people who have travelled to Suffolk from all over the country to find out more about running a pub business with Greene King, Ed Barker was one of the first visitors to the open days, and now runs The Alexander Arms in Cambridge under a Local Hero agreement. He said: “I thoroughly enjoyed it, especially the brewery tour. It was an ideal way to find out a bit more about how the company works and what being part of the Greene King family means.”

Teahouse chain opens third venue: Waterloo Tea, which runs the Waterloo Gardens Teahouse in Penylan, Cardiff and Washington Tea in Penarth, is opening its first city-centre venue in the Wyndham Arcade in Cardiff. The new two-floor outlet will have full table service and a “much more involved” food menu. The upstairs seating area “will be made in the image of a beautiful hotel lounge … refined quality”, the company said. Finance was provided by NatWest as part of the government-backed Funding for Lending scheme. Company founder Kasim Ali said: “We opened Waterloo Gardens Teahouse five-and-a-half years ago with the goal of redefining cafe culture. Cafes had become so popular and it was a bit of shame that everything was moving towards big chains and identikit cafes, and people had forgotten about things such as product quality and customer service.” The company opened its Penarth branch in July 2013 on the site of a former cinema.

Carluccio’s and Nando’s say ‘no thanks’ to Hertford venue offer: Both Carluccio’s and Nando’s have turned down the offer from a developer of a former Clinton Cards outlet in Hertford, each saying the premises were too small. The disused store, in Maidenhead Street, Hertford, is being marketed by Agility PR, which has applied for planning permission to turn it into a restaurant. Hertford Town Council’s planning sub-committee has objected to the restaurant proposal, on the grounds that councillors “regretted the change of use from a retail site” and believed the town had reached “saturation point” with restaurants and bars. The planning application will be determined by East Herts Council in due course.

Greene King wins bid for homes in pub car park: Greene King has been granted planning permission to build four two and three-bedroom terraced houses on land behind the Rifleman pub, in Rifle Hill, Braintree, Essex, currently used as a car park and pub garden with patio. The victory comes after previous plans to knock down the pub and replace it with one building and four terraced houses were rejected by councillors in January. This time councillors unanimously approved the plans at a Braintree Council planning committee meeting.

Interior designer buys South Downs venue: Interior designer Nina Mastriforte has bought the 16th century Exceat Farmhouse, in the Seven Sisters Country Park in East Sussex from previous owners Andrew and Victoria Davey off an asking price of £599,000 through the property agent Christie + Co. Andrew Moore of Christie + Co Maidstone, said: “Exceat Farmhouse was previously run mainly as a restaurant and tea room, so it’ll be exciting to see how Nina takes the venue and hotel aspects of the business forward. I for one will definitely be keeping an eye on this one.”

McDonald’s to spend 18 months re-branding: Bloomberg Businessweek has reported that McDonald’s has “told investors this week it is taking the next year and a half to regroup” and that the change “won’t necessarily involve the typical hallmarks of a rebrand, such as a new logo or total design overhaul.” Instead, the chain will focus on improving customer service, adjusting its menu, and retooling marketing efforts, particularly online and in social media. According to the social media analysis firm Infegy, 38% of online conversation about the brand last year were negative. McDonald promises to add “sustainable beef” and more fruit and vegetables to its menu. In addition, it will be remodelling its restaurants, adding more locations, and offering Wi-Fi.

Former Chicago Rock Cafe site in Burton to be turned into restaurants: Plans have been submitted that could see a former Chicago Rock Café site in Burton upon Trent turned into two restaurant units. Proposals have been lodged with planners at East Staffordshire Council to revamp the one-time Chicago Rock Cafe in Middleway Park, Guild Street, so that two restaurant or cafe businesses can move on to the site. However, despite speculation, Nando’s confirmed that it had no plans to move into the town “in the near”. The site has been empty since Chicago Rock closed its doors suddenly in December 2010.

Former Domino’s Pizza franchisee appears on Dragon’s Den: A former Domino’s Pizza franchisee, Tej Randeva, appeared on Dragon’s Den on Sunday night, offering 10% equity of his business in exchange for a £75,000 investment in his curry concept Spice 2 Go, which he aims to franchise. Randeva failed to attract investment after reporting that both of his current sites are loss-making, he has invested between £900,000 and £1m already and turnover at his busiest site had been £93,000 in the full year.

Survey shows pub raised more than £100m in last year: The latest survey by PubAid, the organisation dedicated to highlighting the great work pubs in the UK do for charity, has revealed that in 2013, pubs raised more than £100m for charity. The survey, which was also carried out in 2009 and 2011, has consistently demonstrated that pubs in the UK and Northern Ireland raise on average £2,000 each a year and total annual fundraising tops the £100m mark. Keith Knowles, one of the founders of PubAid and chief executive at Beds and Bars, said: “It’s amazing and a tribute to licensees that even through what are unquestionable testing times across the retail sector, they still invest so much time and effort into fundraising – I think that says so much about the selflessness of licensees. While in real terms the total was slightly down on the survey we completed back in 2011, there are of course fewer pubs around two years later.” The research showed that 96% of licensees engaged in one type of fundraising or another, from a collection box on the bar though to large organised events.

Just Falafel opens first outlet in India: Just Falafel, the UAE-based fast food chain, which has six outlets in the UK, has opened its first outlet in India, in the city of Bangalore. The company, which began with a single store in Abu Dhabi in 2007, offers ethnic varieties of the Middle Eastern snack falafel. It has teamed up with the property developer and hospitality company Prism Properties to open the Bangalore store, which will offer the chain’s core menu, and also “flavours of Bangalore” to deliver an “authentic street food offering”, the company said in a statement. Suvidh Chordia, Just Falafel’s director of operations, said he saw “growing demand for eating healthy, organic and wholesome food making Just Falafel an attractive brand for the Indian market.” The chain is planning to roll out in 18 countries around the world, with ten new outlets due to open in Oman over the next five years, and 160 new restaurants across the United States and Canada. It has also signed franchise agreements to open 57 restaurants in the Benelux region, and has opened two restaurants in Australia.

McDonald’s faces official inquiry in Hong Kong over ‘rotten meat’ scandal: An official inquiry is taking place in Hong Kong into whether the company knowingly sold potentially tainted food to the city’s public over a four-day period last week. McDonald’s has acknowledged it imported raw meat from the Husi Food Company plant in Shanghai, that has been found to have reprocessed and repackaged rotten meat. However, it initially denied there were any problems with food safety, before admitting after four days that it had imported chicken and pork from the Shanghai plant. The chain then suspended sales of items including chicken nuggets and McSpicy burgers. Officials from Hong Kong’s Centre for Food Safety, which is conducting the inquiry, said that samples collected during 48 visits to various fast-food chains, including McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, Yoshinoya and Burger King, had all passed as safe. However, it said, it had sealed off 59 tonnes of Husi Food Company products imported from the mainland, all of which were from McDonald’s. Officials said that over the past year, Hong Kong McDonald’s branches imported 380 tonnes of chicken and pork from the Shanghai plant. A company spokesman told The South China Morning Post that McDonald’s had stopped importing ingredients from the affected Husi supplier. He would not reveal the new supplier, but said: “All food supplied in McDonald’s at the present time is safe because it has passed safety checks and regulations.” McDonald’s said its restaurants in Japan had stopped selling products made with chicken from China.

Juliette and Russel Joffe resign from Giraffe: Juliette and Russel Joffe, co-founders of the restaurant chain Giraffe, bought by Tesco last year, have announced their resignation from the group they started in 1998. The Joffes, alongside their lifelong friend Andrew Jacobs, successfully built the brand over the past 16 years to a portfolio that now includes 60 restaurants in the UK, five of which are located in airports, and two in the UAE. The Joffes will assist with the process of finding a successor and will continue to have an on-going consultancy role with Tesco, which acquired it for just under £50m in February 2013. Fellow founder Andrew Jacobs will continue to be “very much involved in the business”, the company said. The Joffes said: “It’s been an incredible journey from our first restaurant in Hampstead to where we are now. Having seen through the Tesco sale over a year ago and started Giraffe on its next phase of growth, we know we are leaving our baby in safe and capable hands. We have really enjoyed working with Tesco, who have given our brand the opportunity to expand, improve and evolve. It’s been an incredibly emotional decision to step away from our business. We have raised an amazing family here at Giraffe and watched many grow into hugely talented individuals and we are confident the business will continue to thrive.” Adam Fowle, chief executive of Tesco Family Dining and chairman of Giraffe, said: “I’d like to thank Juliette and Russel for all they’ve achieved in making Giraffe one of the most popular and exciting family restaurant brands in the UK. Juliette and Russel have overseen a growing and successful business which still holds at its heart the same spirit and ethos on which it was founded. We’re really excited about what the future holds for Giraffe, and we owe a huge amount to Juliette and Russel’s vision and expertise in making Giraffe the business it is today.”

CGA – Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool matching London for new openings: London is not the only driver of growth in the UK eating and drinking out market. Cities like Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool are also seeing big increases in new restaurant, pub and bar openings, according to research from out-of-home insight specialists CGA Peach. With pubs evolving from drink to food-led businesses and branded restaurants becoming ever more popular, UK cities beyond London are playing a key role in that change. Data from the CGA Outlet Index uncovers a migration of openings away from towns and suburbs to the big cities. Total numbers of licensed premises, including pubs and restaurants, in town centres have fallen by 9% over the last ten years, with the suburbs down 20% – but city centre numbers have risen by 8% on the back of new openings. That mirrors a more general decline in the public’s use of smaller high streets, thanks in part to the rise of online shopping. But it has also helped to create vibrant city centres around the UK that have become even more compelling destinations for eating and drinking as well as shopping. The rise of the food and drink scene in these cities suggests that the much-discussed north-south divide in the UK might be more nuanced. Although the country outside the M25 has seen a much bigger decline in licensed premises than inside, big cities have bucked that trend. As CGA Peach’s data shows growth in new openings over the last ten years has been nearly as steep in Manchester (17%), Liverpool (15%), Leeds (14%) and Cardiff (13%) as it has been in London (19%). Senior account manager at CGA Peach Jamie Campbell said: “Much has been made of the decline in drinking pubs over the last decade, but that only tells a small part of the story. Our figures show that managed, branded and food-led pubs and restaurants are thriving, and are helping to make cities around the country, and not just London, exciting and dynamic places to be. They suggest that as the economic recovery continues to gather momentum, pub and restaurant operators have plenty of reasons to look forward to the years ahead.” Overall, the research confirms the widely publicised story of closures in the drink-led pub sector, with their numbers falling by 15,000 in the last ten years. But it also reveals a very positive trend in the number of food-led licensed venues – which have increased by 6,000 in the same decade. The decisive shift in emphasis from drink to food is confirmed by figures from different segments of the licensed market. Food-led managed pubs and restaurants have been the biggest winners of all over the last ten years, with their numbers rising by 39%, compared to an 18% fall in the number of leased pubs. Last year alone saw 9% growth in restaurant openings, driven in part by recoveries in the economy and consumer confidence. Other trends emerging from the research include the rise of all-day, ‘hybrid’ style concepts that give customers the flexibility to eat or drink what they wish at any time of day or night. Openings in this category have leapt 80% in the last ten years, and have accounted for 11% of all growth in that time.

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