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Wed 10th Dec 2014 - Update: Simon Dodd, Nathan Outlaw, Whitbread plus
Simon Dodd to join Fuller’s as operations director: Simon Dodd, the highly regarded former chief operating officer at Orchid Pub Company, has been lined up to replace Justin Carter as operations director at London brewer and retailer Fuller’s, according to industry sources. It is understood that he will become operations director of the premium division, reporting into Jonathan Swaine. He is set to start next month when Carter, who joined Fuller’s in February 2011, is due to leave to join Loungers as chief operating officer. Dodd was a founding director of Orchid in June 2006, working as its group commercial and people director initially. He oversaw the development of Pizza Kitchen and Bar and other brands. The company achieved consistent 3% plus like-for-likes sales growth before being sold to Mitchells & Butlers in June this year. Earlier in his career, Dodd worked as head of marketing at Yates’s and Ha Ha Bar & Canteen before which he had worked in various marketing functions at Mitchells & Butlers. 
Nathan Outlaw to move two-Michelin-star restaurant to Port Isaac: Nathan Outlaw is to move his eponymous two-Michelin-starred Restaurant Nathan Outlaw at the St Enodoc Hotel, Rock Cornwall to new premises five miles away in Port Isaac. Outlaw has bought The Edge, a restaurant at the top of the village with sea views across the bay that is a favourite with the actor Martin Clunes. After refurbishment over the winter, the new Restaurant Nathan Outlaw in Port Isaac will open in the early spring. Outlaw’s at the St Enodoc Hotel will remain open, with head chef Tom Brown and restaurant manager Daniel Southern and their team continuing to serve a seasonal menu under Nathan’s direction. Outlaw said, “We’ve had a fantastic five-season run at St Enodoc Hotel and I’m sure Outlaw’s will continue to flourish in Rock, but for our two-Michelin-starred Restaurant Nathan Outlaw it felt right to look for larger premises to grow the business. The Edge building became available at just the right time, so we snapped it up. It’s the perfect place. Also, Port Isaac, with its rich fishing heritage, is the ideal location for us to open a restaurant specialising in fish and seafood. Our guests will be able to see the fishermen working and then come and dine on their catch. I hope, too, that the local community will view our new restaurant as an asset to the village and support us as they have Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen.”
Simon French – the smaller ‘hub by Premier Inn’ brand could remove the final barrier to demerging Costa: Cenkos Leisure analysts Simon French has argue that Whitbread’s new “hub by Premier Inn” format could provide the company with the impetus needed to finally demerge its Costa Coffee brand. He said: “We have harboured long-term concerns over the ability for Premier Inn to grow to 75,000 UK rooms by 2018 without cannibalising its own sales. The launch of hub by Premier Inn not only allays those fears but also provides a genuine growth opportunity. The first hub opened on St Martins Lane in November and the hotel seems well sold with no short-term availability, unusual for a budget hotel. TripAdvisor scores are also high and compare favourably with other hotels in the area. However, we are not surprised when one considers the success of Yotel, Z Hotels, CitizenM, Hoxton plus Tune and Easyhotel. Expansion plans are rightly aggressive for the new brand and the group expects to have 3,000 rooms trading by 2018 as part of its 75,000 room target. The total committed pipeline is already 2,157 rooms representing nine hotels in London and three in Edinburgh. Thereafter we expect the brand to be the primary focus of UK expansion given the footprint Premier Inn will then have in the UK. hub is suitable for city centres and will therefore not reach the numbers achieved by Premier Inn which started as a roadside business. The economics of hub are as yet unproven given the infancy of its trading but simplistically a room that is circa half the size of a Premier Inn but charges circa three-quarters of the room rate should be higher returning. Whitbread has been trying, unsuccessfully, to export Premier Inn for 10 years accumulating circa £25m losses and with just eight hotels trading at the half-year. Initial forays into the Middle East and India have been disappointing, albeit Revpar is now growing strongly in the Middle East. Recently the group has moved towards an asset-light strategy in South East Asia and will shortly open in Indonesia and Singapore. Closer to home the group has acquired a site in Germany to convert to Premier Inn and plans to open circa six sites in four to five years. We are sceptical, and corporate memory must be short, given the group’s previous disappointments in Germany including Costa, Maredo and Marriott. We think hub is a more viable international export, particularly for Asia where there is greater consumer acceptance of smaller room properties and a likely higher willingness to embrace technology-led concepts. Plus with higher margins and returns there is greater incentive for franchisees to open and operate under the flag. Current expansion plans suggest therefore that there should be circa 50 international Premier Inns trading by 2019. One of the reasons we believe management has historically been reluctant to demerge Costa is because shorn of that business, group growth will begin to look anaemic, particularly when the hotel Revpar cycle turns down. However, if hub is a genuine growth brand and it increases the likelihood of international expansion being successful then we believe this removes the final barrier for setting Costa free.”

Cinema and cafe bar plan for former Harvey’s depot: A three screen digital cinema with a cafe bar could be built in the former Harvey’s brewery depot in Lewes if the South Downs National Park Authority planning committee gives the scheme the go ahead. Councillors will consider a proposal to convert, adapt and extend the former Harvey’s Depot building in Pinwell Road to house the cinema, film education/training facilities and multi use room for training and community use. The proposal received overwhelming support from the community with 140 people writing to the national park in support of the scheme. Screen one would have 140 seats, screen two would have 129 seats and screen three 37 seats. The cafe bar would have space for 60 covers. The site was previously used as a depot for Harvey’s Brewery, although it has been unused for some time.

ALMR continues to push for business rates overhaul: Following the publishing of the government’s interim findings on the administration of business rates, the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers has welcomed the pledge for further engagement with the pub trade, and reiterated its call for regular, up-to-date valuations. The government has today published its interim findings on the administration of business rates in England. The government has stated that it has no immediate plans to change the current individualised approach to valuation and has resolved to engage regularly with the pub sector. The document also noted that the majority of respondents were in favour of more regular valuations. ALMR chief executive, Kate Nicholls said: “We are pleased to see the government committing to further engagement with the sector on business rates through a regular forum and a further review of the business rates structure over the coming year. The ALMR has been vocal in its call for a root and branch review of business rates and these early findings, coupled with the Chancellor’s pledge during the Autumn Statement, will allow us to make the case for an overhaul of a system which is not currently fit for purpose. Like the majority of respondents, we are in favour of more frequent valuations to ensure a much more responsive and up-to-date system which does not penalise high street property businesses. The ALMR will be engaged with the government to ensure that the current system, which places unfair burdens on licensed premises, is succeeded by one which promotes a fair and flexible market.”

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