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Thu 8th Jan 2015 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Star Pubs & Bars promises to increase cider and beer discount for lessees for three years: Star Pubs & Bars, the operator of 1,200 pubs owned by Heineken, is to increase the discount it gives to its lessees on Heineken’s cider and beer brands for the next three years, starting from Monday 16 March. In the first year, Star lessees will see an increase of 4% on their rate of discount on Heineken brands. The discounts will be cumulative, so any further discounts lessees receive in 2016 and 2017 will be on top of the 4% first-year discount. The discount commitment is a first from a national leased pub operator. Star Pubs & Bars has written to all its lessees to inform them of the move. The company is backing the increased discount with a review of every pub’s product range and retail selling prices so that lessees can be sure they are maximising their sales and profitability. Star Pubs & Bars' trading director, Chris Jowsey, said: “We listen carefully to the views of our licensees and we know that rising costs and overheads from energy bills to business rates are an issue for them. This commitment is designed to help our lessees, both new and established, to maintain their margins and to give them the reassurance of knowing that their absolute discounts will rise every year for three years if Heineken cider and beer list prices increase.” Star Pubs and Bars is also investing £75m in its estate over five years. Last year it invested £18m. Its beer volumes are currently up 4%. Average ebitda per pub for Star Pubs & Bars is believed to be around £90,000, which indicates the quality of estate is similar to Spirit’s leased estate of former managed pubs. Four out of ten pubs in the estate are in the south east of England.

Propel Opinion: Star Pubs and Bars is emerging as a model of how a tenanted pub company and its licensees can work together. Investment levels at Star Pubs are as high as any in the tenanted sector. This three-year pledge to reduce prices is a great example of a large company using its scale to the advantage of its tenants. With 4% of beer volume growth, the company is already succeeding is growing the profit pie for its licensees. This commitment to increases discounts, should deliver its 1,200 licensees further market advantage.

Industry News:

Vanessa Hall and Steve Cash to take part in Professor Chris Edger's Multi-Site Management Masterclass: YO! Sushi's chief executive, Vanessa Hall, and the former brand director at Harvester, Steve Cash, are to feature in live sessions within Professor Chris Edger's Multi-Site Management Masterclass, being held in partnership with Propel, on Tuesday 24 February at One Moorgate Place, in the City of London. Professor Edger, who has just published his latest book, Leading at a Distance in Multi-Unit Enterprises, will focus on how area managers can create organic growth through the three-step process of engagement, execution and evolution. Professor Edger currently teaches at City University, Birmingham, where a number of the sector’s leading companies send their general managers to be taught. Darren King, last month’s winner of the 2014 ALMR Operations Manager award, graduated from its post-graduate Level 7 Multi-Unit Leadership and Strategy course in 2014, as did the 2013 ALMR Ops Manager winner, Barrie Robinson. Paul Charity, managing director of Propel, said: "This is a great chance for multi-site companies to refresh their thinking – and the thinking and expertise of key staff – as 2015 gets under way." Tickets are £295 plus VAT for ALMR members and £345 for non-ALMR members. CLICK HERE for more details or e-mail to book.
Crowdcube founder warns of shake-out as sector matures: Crowdcube founder Luke Lang has warned of a shake-out in the crowdfunding sector even as it continues to grow. Making predictions for 2015, Lang said the year was likely to see the first sale of a crowdfunded company, "an incredibly exciting prospect". He said: "The funding void that banks have left for start-ups and growing businesses will continue to be filled by the alternative finance sector." However, he warned: "There’s been a plethora of new platforms in the last 18 months, and the current number is unsustainable. Many of the new players are poorly executed and haven’t gained anywhere near the level of traction required to make a serious impact. I’m not convinced that niche investment crowdfunding platforms will ever be able to compete against the market leaders with hundreds of thousands of investors. There will be one dominant player, and then a small number of second-tier providers." Lang said, he believed that the "old firm" would stop flirting with crowdfunding, and get properly involved: "As crowdfunding matures as an investment model, and investors realise returns – particularly when the first exits start to happen – those investment brokers who were sceptical a couple of years ago will start moving into the crowdfunding space. Their clients will be demanding the opportunity to invest in early-stage start-ups and mini-bonds through platforms like ours, and brokers will seek to partner with providers. More established brands will look for investment through crowdfunding and mini-bonds, following in the steps of the Eden Project, River Cottage and Caterham F1, which all raised finance through Crowdcube last year." Investors’ appetite for niche, complex businesses will grow, Lang predicted: "We’re already seeing companies from specialist sectors. Biotech company Cell Therapy, for example, has just funded on Crowdcube – and this is the kind of business we didn’t expect to be approaching us four years ago. As the number of registered investors on crowdfunding platforms rises – we expect to have as many as 300,000 on Crowdcube by the end of 2015 – the understanding and range of interests of the investor base broadens and deepens, increasing the capacity for niche businesses to find their audience." Successful crowdfunding exercises in the hospitality sector in 2014 included Chilango, River Cottage, Pizza Rossa, Soupologie and Burger Bear.

Daily Mirror forecasts coffee shops will outnumber pubs by 2026: The Daily Mirror has forecast that coffee shop will outnumber pubs by 2026 if current rates of respective growth and decline continue. Referring to figures produced by Allegra and the British Beer and Pub Association, the newspaper said: “The recession was actually good for coffee shops – at least, it coincided with a sharp rise in the number of coffee shops in the UK, from 10,685 in 2008 to 15,213 in 2011. (The recession also coincided with a rise in British imports of coffee … suggesting there's something in the connection between economic problems and hot drinks.) However, the recession has been harsh for British pubs: 4,500 pubs closed between 2009 and 2013. In the same period, 3,800 coffee shops opened. A lot of that's been down to expanding chains like Starbucks, Costa and Caffe Nero, but also independent coffee shops setting up. Other factors that have hit pubs have been an increase in supermarket booze sales and strained relations between publicans and pub owners within the pubco model. If current trends do continue, the number of coffee shops will overtake pubs in Britain by 2026."
Premium crisps double snack category penetration in five years: Premium crisps have almost doubled their penetration in the snack category in less than five years, according to new figures from the CGA Trading Index. Premium crisp brands now represent a significant and growing opportunity for operators in terms of price/margin premium and rate of sale against "standard" and "value" crisps, the research suggests. Alex Albone, founder of Pipers Crisps, newly voted Britain’s Best Brand of savoury snack for the third consecutive year, said: “Over the last few years, greater taste sophistication among consumers has led licensed outlets to premiumise their food menus, enhance their flavours and improve provenance. This trend has also driven the ‘premiumisation’ of the snacks category; as our own sales, and now these independent figures, confirm. Premium crisps’ share of the overall ‘all snacks’ category, including crisps, nuts and other confectionery, has grown from around 13% in 2010) to about 25% in less than five years. During the same period, against all other crisps, premium crisps have almost doubled their penetration, from 15% to 29%. This is an incredible growth figure in such a short space of time, and the trend is still rising. The growth is happening across all UK regions, in all kinds of pub, whether managed, branded or independent. We’re not only satisfying the well-heeled, country/cask ale sector in London and the South East. It’s also about community and venue pubs in towns and cities across the country, as well as food pubs. Closer analysis shows that outlets are stocking, on average, a higher number of lines, offering customers a broader choice from a wider portfolio. In particular, operators are increasingly experimenting, and finding success, with premium lines. In fact there is now much greater polarisation in snack choice as outlets are tending to offer a premium crisp at the expense of the mainstream ‘standard’ offering whose penetration has declined dramatically, from 60% to 40%, from 2010 to 2014. The success that licensees are having with premium crisps is clearly illustrated by the rate of sale ROS and average price figures. The rate of sale and average price for premium crisps overall is 60 packs and £65 per outlet per week. In fact the leading premium brand does even better; Pipers Crisps’ rate of sale and average price is 90 packs and £100 per outlet per week, 50% higher than the category average. Premium crisps command around a 30% price premium over quality mainstream products, the average sale price having risen from £1.02 in 2010) to £1.16 in (2014.”

Casual Dining launches design awards: Casual Dining, the award-winning trade event for the UK’s casual dining sector, is now accepting submissions for its 2015 Design Awards. The awards will be showcased at Casual Dining 2015, which returns to the Business Design Centre in London next month on 25-26 February. The deadline for award entries is 24 January, with design projects invited to compete for the top spot in the following three categories: Best Designed Independent Restaurant, Best Designed Multiple Restaurant, and Best Designed Casual Dining Pub. Projects will be judged on their innovation and uniqueness, brand consistency, impact, the degree to which the final design reflects the brief, and proven evidence of the success of the design/re-design in increasing revenue and/or customer satisfaction levels. Casual dining operators who have completed a design/re-design during the past 12 months are invited to enter the awards online at The winners will be announced after a dedicated design panel session in the show’s Keynote Theatre on Wednesday 25 February.

Company News:

Shake Shack IPO could be biggest in restaurant history say US experts: The planned initial public offering for the American better-burger chain Shake Shack could be the biggest initial public offering in restaurant history, according to experts in the United States. Shake Shack, which has more than 63 outlets in 30-plus cities including London to Dubai, is planning on going public in late January or early February. According to John Hamburger of Restaurant Finance Monitor, it "will undoubtedly be the hottest IPO the restaurant industry has ever seen," for reasons that include high sales volumes – Shake Shacks in Manhattan generate average unit volumes of $7.4m; high margins – the Manhattan Shake Shacks generate store-level operating profit margins of approximately 30% and the non-Manhattan ones approximately 22%; high engagement with the Millennial generation, including promoting sustainable ingredients, and all-natural, hormone-free and antibiotic-free beef; and a hot market for restaurant industry shares in the US, with Chipotle trading at 20x ebitda and the average public QSR restaurant chain valued in excess of 13x. Shake Shack aims to raise $100 million in its IPO, and could receive a valuation of $1 billion, according to Bloomberg News, a figure Jonathan Maze of Nation's Restaurant News called "astounding for a 63-unit concept". According to Maze, "The environment is friendly for IPOs, and investors are willing to fork over exceedingly strong valuations to small, up-and-coming concepts. Over the past two years, restaurant offerings have had first-day pops [rises in their share price] of nearly 70%."

Antic Pub Company plans to develop Walthamstow site as mega-entertainment venue: The Antic pub Company plans to develop the former EMD cinema in Walthamstow, East London as a mega-entertainment venue. The pub company purchased the building in Hoe Street last year from the United Church of the Kingdom of God. A spokesman for Antic told the East London Guardian: “I can confirm that both the listed nature of the building and a 1,000-seater auditorium are, and will remain, key elements of our proposals. We have always intended that the building should once more be an entertainment venue, not just an enormous pub, and thus if it is to succeed in the decades to come, it must have a varied, wide ranging and sustainable offer, which is relevant to modern Walthamstow. Our current proposals include the 1,000-seater auditorium, bars/pubs, restaurants, jazz/cabaret/cinema club, boutique B&B, rooftop garden and summer performance/cinema space, cafes and some residential to assist in providing the financial wherewithal to deliver it all. We hope to provide a little bit of something to everyone and to do so in a significantly shorter timeframe and with greater surety than the expensive and less than certain CPO route previously proposed.” The United Church of the Kingdom of God finally sold the venue after two failed attempts to gain permission to convert it into a place of worship after its closure 12 years ago. Waltham Forest council threatened to force a compulsory purchase after a long-running campaign to retain the building as an entertainment venue.

Pho food shots stolen by Australian brand: Food shots taken at the UK-based Vietnamese restaurant brand Pho have been stolen to publicise an opening in Melbourne, Australia by an unrelated brand called Mama Pho. The pictures had been taken by the leading food photographer Paul Winch-Furness. Mama Pho, which is planning to open its first outlet at the Westfield Doncaster shopping centre in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, used the images to promote its business across a number of social media sites. Winch-Furness told local media: “Pho commissioned me last year to take the photos, of their food, in their restaurants. We had no dealings with Mama Pho. The majority of stolen photos were from Pho Restaurant, but when we used Google’s Image Search on the other food photos they were using, they were all stolen – from restaurants in London, New Zealand, and Australia – even the photos purporting to show freshly made spring rolls and a bun. They eventually removed the photos from Instagram and Facebook. They took most photos down from Twitter, but are still using some – none from Pho Restaurant anymore. All photos of food were not theirs.”

US cafe bakery chain aims to create 'polished' fast casual experience with Panera 2.0: The American cafe bakery chain Panera Bread Co has completed technology and operations upgrades under the name “Panera 2.0” in about 100 of its restaurants as it aims to occupy a "polished" fast casual market space. Panera 2.0 offers significant changes in technology and operations, including allowing customers to sit, place online orders via the website or mobile app on their smartphones, and have food delivered to their table. The 2.0 conversions also include kiosks for ordering and dedicated areas for picking up takeaway orders. The order-at-the-table alternative to traditional counter ordering is a major impact on the guest experience, said Ronald Shaich, Panera's founder and executive chairman. “Customers can just go and sit down after ordering, avoiding the mosh pit all together,” Shaich said. “This higher-quality experience differentiates Panera from fast food, and even much of fast-casual. We think of it as a more polished version of fast-casual.”

JW Lees accounts show pre-tax profit slide: The Manchester brewer and retailer JW Lees has filed full-year accounts that show pre-tax profit of £5,134,000 in the year ended 31 March 2014, down 13.7% from £5,947,000 the year before. The company has already reported it grew sales by 6.2% in the year to 31 March 2014 to a record level of £62.9m while ebitda was £7.5m, down from £7.9m in 2013, a fall of 4.1%. The company bought two new tenanted pubs, the Old Station in Llandudno and the Ship in Haskayne, Lancashire during the year as well as opening its second managed Duttons cafe bar in Albert Square opposite the Town Hall in Manchester. This expansion and estate maintenance and improvement cost £6.6m. Seven bottom-end pubs and the last of the company’s two pubs in France were sold during the year for a net profit of £521,000. JW Lees is looking to grow sales to £100m over the next few years and sees “great opportunities for adding quality pubs to both our managed and tenanted estates”.

Knot Coffee and Pretzel opens fourth site, plans another five:
Knot Coffee and Pretzel has launched its fourth site in Victoria Station, London, serving "artisan" coffee and pretzels to commuters. Knot's usp is what it claims is a unique "artisan" soft pretzel, handmade and freshly baked every day at each store after delivery of the raw pretzels from its South London bakery. Since opening its first stall in2011 at Ancient Market, Kingston, Surrey, Knot has gone on to open outlets in Clapham Junction and Richmond stations. The new site at Victoria has been designed by Mark Lawson Bell, and claims to take inspiration from a classic champagne bar, incorporating a chandelier and a reclaimed wooden counter which can seat up to eight. Co-founder Vincent Pierrot said: “We really like the station environment and believe we can offer something more interesting for those on the move. We are looking to open a further three to five sites over the next 18 months and are actively seeking sites from 300 sq ft.”
KFC franchisee reports pre-tax profits of £7m: The company led by the Northern Irish businessman Michael Herbert that holds Europe's largest KFC franchise has reported pre-tax profits of £7m. Accounts show that Herbel Restaurants recorded a large increase in spite of revenues falling by 18% to £23.53m and a £1.9m tax settlement with HMRC denting profits. In 2013 the firm generated £21.99m from KFC sales, with £1.5m generated from rental income. The directors state that the KFC franchise business "continues to trade strongly despite the economic downturn". It has KFC outlets in the Republic of Ireland, the Isle of Man, Scotland and the south west of England, as well as Northern Ireland. However, staff numbers are down, at 456 in 2012, from 525 the year before. As well as running fast food firms, the company holds a substantial investment property portfolio throughout the UK.

Gloucester restaurateur plans upmarket curry house: Gloucester restaurateur Robin Chaudhury has revealed plans to expand his business at the Docks by launching a new wing to his already successful Vinings buffet restaurant. Chaudhury, who had already run the Monsoon restaurant in Worcester, opened the Vinings all-you-can eat Indian and Thai restaurant in Gloucester Docks in March 2004, when the Docks was still largely empty and the Quays was a derelict wasteground. Since then the area has become home to a host of food and drink outlets including Nando’s, PizzaExpress, TGI Friday's, Loungers, JD Wetherspoon and Zizzi. Now Chaudhury plans to use the dining area in the basement of Vinings Warehouse as a separate curry restaurant. He told the Gloucester Echo newspaper that the concept would be to offer a more up-market dining experience than the sociable fun Vinings already offers, with food and a setting that will lift it above the average curry house.

Wetherspoon turns picky in Somerset, rules out pubs in Shepton Mallet and Glastonbury: JD Wetherspoon has declared it is no longer interested in having pubs in either Shepton Mallet (population 10,400) or Glastonbury (population 9,000) in Somerset after it opened in nearby Wells (population 10,500) last year. A spokesman said: “We were looking at the town, but are no longer interested in opening a pub there. It was felt that with the opening of the Wetherspoon pub in Wells there was no longer a requirement for Shepton Mallet.” The spokesman said the company was also “no longer interested” in opening a branch in Glastonbury, for the same reason. There is a Wetherspoon pub in Street (population 11,800), just across the River Brue from Glastonbury.
Starbucks joins paper cup recycling group: The recently-established Paper Cup Recovery and Recycling Group (PCRRG) has signed Starbucks as its first new member of the year, while WRAP has come on board as one of its inaugural Supporter Members. The PCRRG, which was formalised in July last year, has extended its reach to organisations indirectly associated with the paper cup supply chain with the creation of the new Supporter Membership, which also now includes the green energy company Bio-bean. The manager and coordinator of the Group is LRS Consultancy, whose managing director, Dee Moloney, said: "Supporter Membership brings a whole new level to the PCRRG that will enable other sectors of industry to engage with developing sustainable solutions for the paper cup supply chain. We expect to see all sorts of organisations accessing and joining the group now, including venue operators, facilities management companies, transport hubs, trade associations, charities and the media." The PCRRG has the aim of identifying new opportunities and innovative projects to limit waste and recycle paper cups. It is also organising market trials of new recycling solutions and submitted a joint funding application to Innovate UK to help the sector move towards a circular economy. Starbucks Coffee Company's director of environmental impact, Jim Hanna, said: “Starbucks is committed to doing business responsibly. Becoming a member of the Paper Cup Recovery and Recycling Group is a way for us to engage, collaborate and openly communicate with the key stakeholders across the value chain, as well as share our best practices at finding real solutions to paper cup recycling in other geographies.”
New better burger brand to open in Manchester: A new better burger brand, Filthy Cow is to open in Manchester, taking over the former Lounge Ten fine dining restaurant in the city centre .The Filthy Cow venture is taking shape inside the former restaurant at 10 Tib Lane in the city centre, and is due to open on 28 November. The new owners are creating a “farmyard industrial crossed with Soho-neon” interior, which includes stripped back floorboards, exposed brickwork and graffiti art. The concept has been put together by Jordan Gallimore, 23, who is backed by two existing business owners in Manchester. Gallimore has worked in the kitchens of Manchester restaurants, and has spent the past 12 months researching the burger world alongside a "local development chef and bloggers who specialise in the burger world".

Holmfirth bar operator opens champagne and cocktail bar:
The operator of the Voda bar in Holmfirth, West Yorkshire has expanded with the opening of Voda Bar and Cellar, a champagne and cocktail bar. Gavin Pearson, who owns the bar alongside partners Chris Charalambous and Kanwarpreet Singh, said a Facebook page for the new bar already had almost 700 likes and people were excited about the new venue opening. He said: "There's a gap in the market in Holmfirth. There's been more going on over the weekend in the last year, I've been out in Holmfirth myself and it's been so busy. We specialise in cocktails so we wanted to move the brand up here."
Nick Batram reiterates ‘buy’ recommendation on Cineworld shares ahead of forecast improvement in 2015 box office: Peel Hunt's leisure analyst Nick Batram has issued a "buy" note on Cineworld shares. He said: “2014 was a tough year for the UK box office, as yesterday’s data revealed. However, this comes as no surprise in a year of relatively few real blockbusters and the distraction of a World Cup. While the rerating at Cineworld, on the prospects of a recovery in box office in 2015, has come through quicker than expected (shares up circa 30% since October), the potential upside to forecasts is significant. Although there may be some short-term share price consolidation we are happy to retain our 'buy' recommendation, given the potential outperformance over 2015. We continue to believe that the recovery in box office during 2015 could be significantly higher than consensus forecasts suggest. In addition to the box office recovery, we also see room to trigger a rerating as the company demonstrates that returns are coming through in CEE [Central and Eastern Europe]. While the 2015 prospective EV/ebitda multiple is now at a premium to most listed US peers, it remains below that of the sector leaders. Given this, likely positive news flow and potential upgrades we are happy to maintain our Buy recommendation and move our target price to 440p (8.5x 2015 ebitda on our mid case upgrade scenario outlined in our October note).”
Punch to start improvements at three more pubs: Punch Taverns has announced improvements to two pubs in Kendal, Cumbria and a third in Staffordshire. The Dun Horse on Stramongate, Kendal has closed its doors temporarily for Punch to spend £250,000 renovating the site in order to "reposition the pub in a changing market place". A spokesperson for Punch said: "We are planning a significant investment at the Dun Horse and have earmarked over a quarter of a million pounds to spend on the refurbishment, developing the pub into a more food orientated venue with quality letting rooms. We are actively seeking a new long-term tenant and, once recruited, we will begin work." The company said it would also be spending £150,000 on improvements at the currently closed Ye Olde Fleece Inn, on Highgate in Kendal. At the same time the Plume of Feathers, in Barlaston, Stafford has closed for a major refurbishment that include installing a new roof, fencing and a pergola, and internal work to provide a "modern and comfortable pub and restaurant". Punch has agreed to donate the pub’s two litter bins and two bench seats to the village for community use.

Freehold of Robin Hood pub comes on the market: A pub that is home to the Hardraw Scaur Waterfall, the highest single-drop waterfall in England, is on the market. The Green Dragon Inn in Hardraw is in Upper Wensleydale in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. The pub offers the only access to the waterfall and visitors' centre. The Green Dragon Inn, which dates from the 13th century, has been owned by D Mark Thompson for the past 14 years. He will retain ownership of the waterfall and the visitors’ centre. The waterfall featured in the film, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, which starred Kevin Costner. The Green Dragon Inn also has 14 letting bedrooms. The site extends to around 15 acres in all and includes a camping and caravan site. The Green Dragon Inn is on the market for £675,000 freehold or £100,000 for a new free-of-tie lease with freehold purchase option with the Leeds office of the property agent Davey & Co.

Developers plan 97,000 sq ft of extra restaurant and cafe space at Bristol's Mall: An application for a massive extension to the Mall shopping centre at Cribbs Causeway in Bristol that includes 97,000 sq ft of extra restaurant and cafe space has been submitted to South Gloucestershire Council. The £316m scheme would see another 380,000 sq ft of shopping space added to the existing 728,000 sq ft of retail at The Mall, as well as a 120-bedroom hotel, a bus station, a new car park and 150 homes, and the new space for food and drink outlets. The Mall's owners, M&G Real Estate, Intu and JT Bayliss, said in their application that tenants wanted different store sizes now than they did 20 years ago and there was more demand for cafes and restaurants too. A study by the applicants suggested the scheme would be a major economic boost, bringing an extra £212m in from visitors, as well as £3.5m from new residents on the site. The scheme would create 3,750 permanent roles in the shops, restaurants and hotel once opened, it said. The study also claimed the extension would not have a big impact on Bristol city centre. Building work is due to start in 2017 and the extension, if approved, should be fully open by 2021. Current food and drink outlets at The Mall include Yo! Sushi, McDonald's, Krispy Kreme, Wagamama, Carluccio's, Starbucks, Nando's, Patisserie Valerie, Spud-u-Like, Cafe Rouge, Pret a Manger, Pizza Hut, KFC and Costa Coffee.

Premier Foods adds PizzaExpress boss to board: Premier Foods has hired Richard Hodgson, chief executive at Pizza Express, to join its board in the role of non-executive director with immediate effect. Hodgson, who has served as chief executive at PizzaExpress since 2013, has previously held senior roles with Asda, Waitrose and Morrisons. David Beever, chairman of Premier Foods, said: "I'm thrilled that Richard will be joining the Premier Foods board. His extensive experience of modern food retailing will be invaluable in helping the company to navigate today's rapidly changing marketplace. We very much look forward to his contribution and welcome him to the board."

St Austell hands over beer brand to fellow brewer: The Cornish brewer and pub owner St Austell has handed over the name of its Dartmoor Best cask ale to the Dartmoor Brewery of Princetown, Devon, as part of a deal that has seen St Austell become the sole wholesale distributor for Dartmoor Brewery. Dartmoor Brewery has now developed its own recipe for Dartmoor Best, while the St Austell version has been renamed Cornish Best. The beer was originally brewed by the Furgusons brewery in Plympton, Devon, a subsidiary of Allied Breweries, and known when it started as Plympton Best Bitter. After the Plympton brewery was closed in 1993, St Austell brewed the beer under licence, buying the brand name and trade mark in 2002. James Staughton, managing director of St Austell Brewery, said: “Dartmoor Best was a popular beer within our range for a long time. We feel it is now time to pass on the brand to Dartmoor Brewery, so they can continue producing a beer under this well-known name.” Philip Davies, chairman of Dartmoor Brewery, said: “The addition of the Dartmoor Best brand within our beer portfolio is a natural fit and provides customers with clarity – it is a Dartmoor branded beer which will now be brewed on Dartmoor. We have developed a new recipe for the beer, which has been well received in trials, and like all our beers it uses Dartmoor ingredients. We look forward to launching the new Dartmoor Best in Q1 with a new identity under the Dartmoor Brewery brand.” Dartmoor Brewery, established in 1994, claims to be the highest brewery in England, at 1,400 feet above sea level.

Struggling coffee shop owner fails in attempt to convert site to bar: A struggling coffee shop owner in Worcester has failed in his bid to turn it into a bar. West Mercia Police have scuppered an attempt by Coffee Warehouse, at 12 The Foregate, to turn itself into a Mediterranean-style bar late into the evening. The council's licensing sub-committee threw out the bid after Sergeant John Lawrence, from West Mercia Police, called the area "high crime" already, saying there had been more than 2,000 incidents within a 250-metre radius of the venue over the past three years. Owner Murat Can, speaking during the meeting, said: "At the moment as a coffee shop we are not making enough money, that's why we are trying this. At the moment we sell tea, coffee and cakes until 6pm but don't make enough, we also have a high rent to pay."

Jimmy’s opens Brighton’s biggest restaurant: The buffet chain Jimmy’s Restaurant has opened its new Brighton Marina restaurant, creating 70 news jobs. The restaurant, which is Brighton and Hove’s biggest, sells more than 100 different dishes ranging from Indian, Chinese, Mexican and Italian. Jimmy’s area manager Mukesh Driver said: “We’ve worked around the clock to ensure that the cooking stations and staff were prepared to meet the demands of the work place."

Hall & Woodhouse applies to build houses on pub site: A landmark pub in Horsham, West Sussex faces being demolished and replaced with five new homes under plans submitted to the council. The Fountain Inn in Rusper Road is still open, but according to the planning application submitted to Horsham Council it has been "trading poorly" for a number of years. The design and access statement reads: “The Fountain Inn is currently open, however it has been trading poorly for a number of years and volume has been steadily declining for the last five years by 20%. The owners Hall and Woodhouse have had three tenants during this period, and despite the best efforts of the latest tenant, the level of trade and custom from the local community has become so low that the business cannot be sustained.”

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