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Thu 13th Nov 2014 - Update: Brewery sold, bar operator hits 20 sites, Domino's award
Weetwood brewery sold as founders retire: Weetwood Ales, which was founded in 1993 near Kelsall, Cheshire and now supplies beer to more than 300 outlets, has been sold in a seven-figure deal to enable its owners, Adrian Slater and Roger Langford, to retire. The brewery has been acquired by Cheshire Cat Management Limited, (no relation to Cheshire Cat Pubs and Bars), which is owned by Philip and Robert Mclaughlin, and Philip Mclaughlin, who is now sales director at Weetwood, told Propel the new owners planned to “carry on the good work Adrian and Roger have done and just brew great beer.” The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. In the year to the end of March, Weetwood’s sales were just under £1.1m. Its range includes Eastgate Ale, Cheshire Cat and Mad Hatter. Paul Thompson, project director at the Sale-based corporate finance boutique Camlee Group, which advised Slater and Langford on the sale, said: “We were delighted with the significant level of interest in Weetwood right from the start of the process. Although the early signs suggested that a larger brewery would acquire the business, Cheshire Cat Management’s determination to get this deal done was evident throughout the entire process.”

Fever Bars set to open 20th site, opening a new site every eight weeks: Fever Bars will open its 20th site late this month on Thursday 28 November, a £500,000 refurbishment of The Hobgoblin, in Kingsbury Square, Aylesbury. It will be a three-room venue, hosting R&B, pop and dance music. The premises will include a cocktail bar, with a Tiki theme. Duncan Squires, marketing director for Fever Bars, said: “The rooms are all so different that there is something that will appeal to everyone. The whole venue is being transformed and going to be magical. This is the 20th site and we are opening a new club every six to eight weeks. It is all going to plan, and we are excited to be open in time for Christmas, We are well ahead of schedule with the works. This is going to be like nothing else in Aylesbury, we are bringing the party back to the town, and we hope that everyone will come and try it out.”

Charles Wells debuts pop up concept in France: John Bull Pub Company, Charles Wells’ French division, has premiered a new “pop-up” concept in its tenth site across the channel. The pub company, which has successfully brought the authentic English pub experience to five French cities, purchased its third site in Bordeaux earlier this year. Previously named Le Chabi, the new site had traded as a café and was earmarked for an ambitious internal and external refurbishment to transform it into a traditional English pub. However, delays in gaining planning permission led to the company taking a radical change of tack and opening Bordeaux’s first urban craft beer bar as a pop-up venture. Aptly named DNA @ Le Chabi after Charles Wells’ one-of-a-kind craft beer, the venue has been transformed into an edgy, contemporary bar. The team have given the bar an industrial feel with exposed ceilings, steel surfaces and bare walls complemented by a number of quirky features from seats made from metal kegs through to walls of modern art and posters. There are eleven draught beers and ciders, an extensive bottled beer range supplemented by wines, spirits, cocktails and soft drinks on offer and the concept has proven popular with locals. Ed Robinson, communications and marketing manager at John Bull Pub Company, said: “We wanted to turn the delays we were facing as part of the French planning process into an opportunity. While awaiting the necessary permissions, we decided to trial a completely new concept for us in France and create a quirky, contemporary pop-up bar. DNA @ Le Chabi has been incredibly popular, it created a lot of intrigue locally and we were packed on the opening night. Although we’ve only been open just over a month we’ve been trading really well and if this continues we’ll be considering making it a permanent fixture for Bordeaux with the possibility of rolling out across other French cities in future”.

Domino’s wins Best Use of Digital award: Domino’s Pizza UK has been awarded The Best Use of Mobile award at The Econsultancy ‘The Digitals’ Awards 2014. Nick Dutch, head of digital at Domino’s Pizza, said: “As a brand that embraces all elements of digital, Domino’s is thrilled to be recognised by a community leading the way in modern day marketing. We’re always looking to be ahead of the curve in ways to engage with our audience, so our award for ‘The Best Use of Mobile’ is further validation that we’re making the digital footprint we set out to create.” Kay Tasker, group business director at Arena Media, said: “Domino’s understands the importance of digital to its consumers and has been working to improve the customer experience in this space. It’s fantastic for us to be recognised by the industry for delivering great work as a collaborative client-agency team where digital is integral to what we do.”

Michelin-listed tapas bar El Gato Negro to move from Ripponden to Manchester: Simon Shaw’s El Gato Negro tapas bar in Ripponden, recently awarded one of only three Michelin Bibs Gourmand in Yorkshire, is to move to a site formerly occupied by Raymond Blanc’s Brasserie Blanc chain in Manchester. El Gato Negro’s current lease in Ripponden expires in 2015 and the tapas restaurant will be moving its entire operation to units five and six in the walkway joining King Street and Chapel Walks in Manchester city centre, which have been empty since Blanc closed his outlet in 2010. Shaw said: “We are delighted to announce an exciting new chapter in the story of El Gato Negro: we will be bringing our award-winning food and drink to Manchester city centre in 2015. We’ve achieved so much since we opened our doors in 2005 – awards and accolades have increased our reputation and appeal to a wider audience. Sometimes working out of a small kitchen in the restaurant here in Ripponden has constrained our creativity, and our size has limited the number of diners who’ve been able to experience our food. The lease for our current building expires in 2015. This has led me to explore options for the future, and after careful consideration I believe I’ve found the perfect opportunity by opening a larger and better equipped restaurant in a prestigious site in central Manchester. We’ve seen more customers travel from Manchester to enjoy our take on modern Spanish cuisine, and have had a brilliant reception at pop-ups we’ve attended in the city. It’s definitely the right time to bring our northern, homegrown take on modern Spanish cuisine to a city where we know we’ll feel right at home.” Shaw is also behind the Leeds-based rotisserie chicken concept restaurant Bird and Beast, which is due to open its second UK site in Manchester next year.

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