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Fri 12th Dec 2014 - Update: Arkley, new gastro company, Pizza Rossa, M&B plus
Alistair Arkley and son buy brace of Lake District inns: Alistair Arkley, the founder of New Century Inns and currently chairman of Chameleon Bar and Dining, and his son David have bought a brace of residential inns in the Lake District. The Arkleys acquired the Horse & Farrier and Salutation Inn at Threlkeld, near Keswick, from their owner, Julie Harrison, who is retiring from the industry, for an undisclosed sum in an off-market deal. David Arkley, who has more than ten years’ experience of managing similar high-turnover food and beverage outlets, and his father, who is also currently a non-executive director of the Cardiff brewer and pub operator SA Brain, will be moving to Threlkeld from Darlington. Haydn Spedding, an associate director in the hotels agency at the North West office of Colliers International in Manchester, who conducted the sale, said: “The Horse & Farrier is a landmark residential inn, known throughout the Lake District not only for exceptional food but also for its 12 high-quality en-suite letting bedrooms. Julie also owned the lease of the similarly successful Salutation Inn, recently renamed The Sally. This is the third business in and around Keswick that we have sold within the past month and is further evidence of increasing transactional activity in the hotel, hospitality and licensed sectors in the Lake District where Cumbria Tourism’s recent research figures show significant increases in visitor numbers during 2014.”

New gastro-pub company Distinct Pubs formed after Punch acquisition:
The team that runs the North London gastro-pubs the Adam and Eve in Mill Hill and the Prince Albert in Camden has taken on a third venue, the Three Compasses on Hornsey High Street, and created a new company, Distinct Pubs to run all three pubs and look for more acquisitions. Gareth Leakey, group manager for the operation, said he had been given £5m by Distinct Pubs' unnamed ultimate owners to pay for a refurbishment and fund further expansion. He said the Three Compasses, a Punch assignment, was "an absolutely fantastic site", and Distinct Pubs would now be looking to add one to three pubs a year to its portfolio, in London and the Home Counties.

Pizza Rossa 45% of way to new £150,000 fundraising target:
Pizza Rossa, the artisanal pizza by-the-square-slice operator which has opened two outlets in London after a crowdfunding campaign which raised £440,000 in just 17 days from 119 people, is now 45% of the way to raising another £150,000 from the public on Crowdcube. The company, founded by Corrado Accardi, wants to raise the money to support working capital, focus on expansion opportunities, and support a concession in West London, a presence at street markets and food festivals, and pop-up sites in shopping malls and supermarkets. With 50 days left for the fundraising exercise to run, 23 investors have already pledged almost £68,000, in return for 10.2% of the company's equity. The largest single investor so far in the current round has pledged £21,000.

New Papa John’s franchisee set to open six sites in six months:
New Papa John’s franchisee Erol Ayvas has opened his fourth Papa John’s in Lowestoft, six months after opening his first. Ayvas has opened franchises in Cambridge, Peterborough and Corby since joining the pizza network in the summer and has further launches planned this month in Newcastle-under-Lyme and Lichfield. He plans 16 sites by 2016. Ayvas said: “Support is a key ingredient when setting up and running a multi-operation franchise like this. In this regard, Papa John’s has been phenomenal. The team has been instrumental in helping with negotiations on sites and opening plans. My area manager and our individual store managers are highly motivated to look after our staff. Working together and supporting each of our team members will ensure we can always deliver the best pizza and customer service in town.”
Nick Batram – we’re upgrading Mitchells & Butlers to buy: Peel Hunt's leisure analyst Nick Batram has upgraded Mitchells & Butlers shares to “buy”. He said: “The shares are trading circa 12% below our fair value and this, combined with the potential for a return to dividend payments, warrants a move from Hold to Buy. Slow top-line progress, lack of income and pension uncertainty have held back the shares. However, the pension issue has been clarified, a dividend looks a real possibility in the current year, and the platform is in place to drive the long-awaited top-line growth. The reclassification of the pension finance charge means it will no longer be treated as an exceptional. In FY2015 this amounts to a £16m hit (non-cash) to our PBT forecast, while we have also increased the underlying net interest charge (£3m). The shares are trading c12% below our fair value and this, combined with the potential for a return to dividend payments, warrants a move from Hold to Buy. Top-line progress has been slower than hoped, but the platform is now in place to drive through an improvement in revenues. Meanwhile, a prospective EV/ebitda of 7.5x looks undemanding and provides room for a useful re-rating. M&B’s relatively pedestrian top line has been a little frustrating and there is still much to be done. It is also fair to say that others with more consistent track records in the restaurant space trade on deservedly higher multiples. However, M&B’s re-rating potential is real and 2015 could be the year that it finally comes through. This is based upon the potential return to the dividend list, infrastructure and cultural improvements finally coming through, and the removal of the short-term pension uncertainty. A good January trading statement could be an early catalyst.”
Brazilian rodizio start-up plans to open four more in Berkshire by 2020: The entrepreneurs behind a new restaurant in Newbury, Berkshire, Rodizio Brasileiro, plan to open four more Brazilian-themed restaurants around the county in the next five years. The new restaurant opened inside a Grade II-listed building at 5 Inches Yard, Newbury, with co-owner Steve Deards saying the appearance and character of the building was what made the partners choose the location for their first restaurant. “We looked round Newbury with head chef Fabio,” he said. “He liked the listed building, the style and atmosphere and we knew we could make it work. We would like to welcome customers to come and experience the new and exciting Brazilian-themed restaurant.” Deards, who owns Rodizio Brasileiro with his business partner Kantila Solanki, said the pair want to open four more restaurants in Berkshire over the next five years. The restaurant, which serves rodizio-style, where freshly cooked meats are carved and served at the table, is open for lunch between 12 noon and 2.30pm Tuesday to Thursday, and for dinner from 6pm till 10pm, and all day Friday to Sunday from 12noon till 10pm.

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