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Tue 13th Jan 2015 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

JD Wetherspoon applies for first stand-alone hotel next door to its proposed pub in Huntingdon: JD Wetherspoon has submitted plans to create a 22-bedroom hotel next door to a proposed pub in Huntingdon – the first time it has ever applied to build a pub and a hotel at the same time. Previously, Wetherspoon has offered hotel bedrooms when they were already available at sites it has bought. More recently, it has begun to apply to create bedrooms in vacant space above existing pubs. The move in Huntingdon indicates a further step in the direction of creating co-located pubs and hotels where it makes economic sense. In Huntingdon, it wants to redevelop the former post office, sorting office and The George Hall just off the ring road in George Street to make way for the hotel, alongside a pub. The company has two separate planning applications lodged with Huntingdonshire District Council – one for the pub and one for the hotel. The hotel would be located on the site of the former sorting office and it would be standalone close to the pub, but not directly above the pub itself. The pub could serve up to 631 people, and it is expected to create about 40 jobs. The application also proposes a new extension and a ‘link’ building between the George Hall and the old Post Office plus two new beer gardens – the application site is within a Grade II-listed building and within the Huntingdon Town Conservation Area. In September, chief executive John Hutson confirmed that Wetherspoon is taking a more pro-active approach to opening hotel bedrooms to make use of void space. He said: “Hotels bedrooms have been quite stable in terms of trade and it’s not too difficult to run them.” He gave the example of a pub in Newbury where Wetherspoon had added two bedrooms in a listed building in the pub’s grounds before adding 14 bedrooms above the pub. “Adding a few more bedrooms seems like an opportunistic thing to do. There are a lot of properties with void space and we thought putting in a few bedrooms is a good use of space.” Last week, Propel reported that Wetherspoon has applied to turn unused upstairs space into hotel bedrooms with a £2.7m scheme to create 35 bedrooms above its site in Grimsby – 19 years after first opened. The company has applied for planning permission to restore the unused first, second and third floors of the Yarborough Hotel in Bethlehem Street to create accommodation.

Industry News:

Mark Derry to present at Propel Multi Club Conference in March: Mark Derry is to present at the next Propel Multi Conference on Thursday 12 March, held at the Lancaster Hotel, London. Derry, chief executive of Brasserie Blanc, which was founded 20 years ago in Oxford, talks about how the company is evolving its brand, and the points of difference and learnings from its current focus on expanding in the pub market. Operators of multi-site companies can book up to two free places by emailing

US restaurants saw best December trading uplift in eight years: US restaurants saw their best month in eight years in December, as low petrol prices, rising employment and weak comparisons resulted in a robust period for both footfall and sales, according to the latest NRN-MillerPulse survey. Like-for-like sales rose 4.6% during the month. “It was a good month,” said Larry Miller, co-founder of the index. “It was better than what people thought it was going to be – and everybody was ready for a good month.” Improvement during the month was felt across sectors, with both casual-dining chains and quick-service restaurants reporting strong same-store sales growth, of 4.4% and 4.6%, respectively. Footfall rose 1.9% during the month, according to the survey, the best traffic number since March 2012. Quick-service traffic rose 1.3%, while traffic increased 2.2% for casual dining.
Nine new companies join waste scheme: Nine new members have formally signed up to the British Beer and Pub Association-operated SUSTAIN waste packaging compliance scheme. The new members include Molson Coors, and, for the first time, two leading pub companies. Membership is set to rise further, says the BBPA, as all brewers count the benefits of the scheme. Joining the SUSTAIN scheme will reduce the cost for BBPA members of buying Packaging Recovery Notes (PRNs), as well as providing comprehensive support and industry-specific expertise. The nine new members are Molson Coors, Frederic Robinson, Harvey & Son, Joseph Holt, St Austell, JW Lees, Spirit, Enterprise Inns, and Daniel Thwaites. These join Charles Wells, Hook Norton, Black Sheep, Fuller’s and Shepherd Neame, which were the first five members of the scheme. Brigid Simmonds, BBPA chief executive and a director of SUSTAIN, said: “This is a great start to 2015, and shows that the SUSTAIN partnership is making the business case to BBPA members as well as delivering for the environment, by reducing waste. We look forward to recruiting further new members.”
Employment minister visits Whitbread site: Esther McVey, minister of state for employment, has visited the Whitbread-owned Premier Inn and Brewers Fayre in Birmingham Street, Stourbridge to meet some of the 16 employees who had graduated from the government-backed sector-based Work Academies. The aim of the government initiative is to provide unemployed youngsters with training in the hospitality sector and the chance to have work experience for a number of weeks, with a guaranteed job interview at the end. The scheme graduates were among 60 new jobs created at the site, which opened on 18 December last year.

David Page – Brixton Market is a great test-bed for new brands: Former PizzaExpress chief executive David Page has argued that Brixton Market is the perfect low-risk place to test new brands. Page, who has Wild Caper, Bukowski Charcoal Grill, Franco Manca, Roca di Papa, Chill Box, and Chicken Liquor sites in Brixton Market, told Property Week: “Quite frankly, we don’t want to go into big schemes because we’ll be beside Prezzo, PizzaExpress or Nando’s. What’s happened [with food] is a repeat of what happened 20 years ago in retail where you would have M&S, Next, Boots and Halifax on the same stretch and quite frankly it gets a little boring. That’s why we decided to start so many of our brands in Brixton Market where it’s much more exciting. The beauty of Brixton is that they’re small units so you can experiment with something and if it doesn’t work you can change it to something else and it doesn’t carry the same risk as opening a unit in Knightsbridge.” As for the next big foodservice trend, Page foresees the rise of delis with restaurants bolted on, representing the many communities from around the globe that are making their homes in the UK. “So you’ll have Croatian, Greek, Lebanese and Peruvian delis,” he said. “In terms of diversity, the future is even more exciting than it’s been in the last ten to 20 years.”

New group editor sought for M&C Report and Publican’s Morning Advertiser: A new group editor is being sought for leading sector publications M&C Report and Publican’s Morning Advertiser. The current group editor Rob Willock is leaving to pursue an opportunity in Dubai after just over three years in the position. Deadline for applicants is 12 February. 

Company News:

Shepherd Neame to invest £2.4m in Tunbridge Wells site: The Royal Wells Hotel in Tunbridge Wells is to receive a £2.4 million refurbishment by owner Shepherd Neame. It will be the single largest refurbishment project to date for the Faversham-based brewery, which bought the Grade II listed 18th century hotel in September 2012. The 15-week programme of work will begin this month and will include replacing the current restaurant with a spacious orangery, which will be able to accommodate up to 70 people. Guests will be able to enjoy alfresco dining in the large courtyard garden which is being created outside the orangery, and will offer seating for up to 52 people. The bar will also be given a fresh new look, with character features added including a wine cave which allows bottles to be stored at different temperatures. Four additional en-suite bedrooms are being added to the hotel, taking the total to 27, and all the rooms are being completely refurbished in a contemporary, elegant style. The hotel will close while the extensive programme of work is carried out, and is expected to re-open in April 2015. Shepherd Neame chief executive Jonathan Neame said: “The Royal Wells Hotel is a building of great character which has a fascinating history. Our planned redevelopment project will ensure that the hotel’s heritage is preserved, while introducing the latest contemporary facilities to ensure it remains one of the town’s most popular destinations.”

PubLove takes over sixth site: PubLove, the London pub and hostel provide led by Ben Stackhouse, has taken over it sixth site, The Exmouth Arms in Starcross Street, Euston – it’s also the company’s fourth Enterprise Inns site. A major refurbishment by award-winning design and build firm Concorde BGW begins on 19 January, creating a “Pub for PubLovers” specialising in beer and gin with 50% of product from London. The company’s Burger Craft better burger operation is to start to serve breakfast this month, beginning at the Exmouth Arms. Stackhouse told Propel: “Funding is by Lloyds Bank funding – the bank has been a revelation and will be our banker going forward. This new site is the realisation of everything we have been working towards and marks the next step in our PubLove evolution.”
Burning Night Group to evolve offer at fourth Bierkeller opening: Burning Night Group, the operator of three large capacity multi-themed Bierkeller venues in Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester, is to evolve its offer at the fourth opening, a 1,000 capacity venues scheduled for The plaza at Cardiff’s National Stadium. The venue will feature its Around the World in 40 Beers, Shooters Sports Bar and Bierkeller offer but will be augmented with an increased food offer featuring open serveries for rotisserie chicken, a pizza zone and a bratwurst station.
Fleurets offers 21 Punch pubs to let: Agent Fleurets is offering 21 new letting opportunities on behalf of Punch Taverns. The properties, which span from Selby to Falmouth and Canterbury to Swansea, are all available on new leases. In many instances, major investment is planned by Punch Taverns to assist the incoming tenants. The properties range from town centre pubs to village pubs with letting accommodation. Simon Hall, director and head of agency at Fleurets, said: “These new lettings offer the opportunity for publicans to secure high profile sites across the country on new leases and in many cases the landlord plans a major refurbishment of the site in tandem with the operator.”
Coventry in line for first boutique hotel: A new boutique hotel could open in the same historic building as Coventry’s Establishment bar, becoming the city’s first boutique hotel. A planning application for a 15-bedroom hotel at the former County Hall in Bayley Lane has been submitted to the city council. The 18th century former court building is currently home to The Establishment Bar and Grill and although the bar is trading well, the owners of the building – County Hall Properties – say they need more income to keep the whole building up and running. The proposals, which will not affect The Establishment, include converting a ground-floor function room into a twin bedroom with wheelchair access, and creating a further 14 bedrooms – two suites, two one-bed and ten double/twin rooms – in the vacant first and second-floor office space.

Nando’s, Frankie & Benny’s and TGI Friday’s line up for Inverness: Plans have been lodged for a new Nando’s Frankie & Benny’s and TGI Friday’s in one of the busiest shopping centres in the Highlands. The proposals for Inverness Business and Retail Park, next to the A96 on the outskirts of the city, involves the conversion of the former Comet store, situated next to Boots. The former Comet store has been empty for two years and the application proposals would provide a major boost to the local economy creating around 180 jobs.

Wildwood confirms Chichester site: Wildwood has confirmed it is to open in Chichester, West Sussex. The brand has lined up a Grade-II-listed building in South Street vacated by Cafe Rouge. Wildwood has succeeded in having a planning application for internal alterations to the building accepted. The restaurant is hoped to provide up to 40 jobs when it is up and running. Meanwhile, Giggling Squid has lined up a site on South Street, taking over the building vacated by clothes shop Rowlands of Bath, at 57-58 South Street.

Knightsbridge restaurant Racine closes: Knightsbridge restaurant Racine has closed after 12 years of trading. Chef Patron Henry Harris has sold the business and has resigned as its director with immediate effect. A spokesman said: “An increase in running costs and a rapidly shifting residential demographic in the Knightsbridge area has resulted in a multitude of new operational challenges, in light of which, the decision was made to evolve the brand and take it in a new direction. Henry is not privy to the new owners’ plans but the Racine sign will remain above the door for a short duration, prior to undergoing a refurbishment. He will now look to take the Racine Kitchen brand elsewhere in London in 2015, as well as exploring other opportunities for business consultancy in the interim.”
Gordon Ramsay to open fourth Las Vegas restaurant this spring: Chef Gordon Ramsay will open his fourth Las Vegas restaurant, Gordon Ramsay Fish & Chips, at The Linq Promenade in the spring. The takeaway-style British restaurant will feature fish and chips, among other types of traditional British comfort food. “My play on fish and chips coupled with a fast, casual environment is perfect for The Linq Promenade, and I am delighted to be opening another venture in Vegas which is becoming a second home,” said Ramsay. In addition to his signature fish and chips, other traditional British comfort food will be served, including bangers and mash, chicken and sausages.
Harlequin reveals restaurant investment plan as it pays down debt: Harlequin Leisure Group plans to invest in upgrading the fabric of its Ashoka restaurants as it prepares to become debt free for the first time in a decade, the Herald Scotland has reported. Owner Sanjay Majhu revealed the final payment on the ten-year loan he took out to acquire Harlequin from Charan Gill will be made to Bank of Scotland in March. The entrepreneur said paying off the loan will free up cash to invest in capital expenditure, allowing the firm to freshen up its 13 restaurants around central Scotland. Majhu said: “Our plan, as it was last year, is to consolidate and spend money on the units. [We had] ten years of biting our nails, paying the bank and worrying and making sure that payment is done. Now we can use all that spare capex. That is going to be essential for the Ashoka brand. We rebranded Ashoka Livingston as [tapas brand] Las Ramblas, which is doing fantastic for us. We do find that some of the units that are maybe not performing we could rebrand, so it’s capex and rebranding we’re looking at this year. We’re looking at putting the money back into the units and making the restaurants really nice.”
Landar and Morganthau open Portland: Portland, the new dining venture from Will Lander (co-owner of The Quality Chop House) and Daniel Morganthau (previously of 10 Greek Street), has opened at 113 Great Portland Street. Agent Shelley Sandzer, secured the 1,725 sq ft site, which is split over ground floor and basement levels. The restaurant, created by Lander and Morgenthau and head chef, Merlin Labron-Johnson, serves 45 covers and also has a private room for 16 available. Portland is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner from Monday to Friday, and lunch and dinner on Saturday. It is also open for lunch on Sundays. Kit Alexander at Shelley Sandzer, said: “The team has done a fantastic job with the space and we are confident that Portland will be a great success.” 

Pizza Rossa holds open crowd-funding evenings: Today (Tuesday) and Friday (16 January) will see Pizza Rossa founder Corrado Accardi holding crowdfunding evenings for potential investors keen to learn more about crowdfunding the business. Potential investors are invited to meet the Pizza Rossa founder between 6 and 8pm at the newest shop, located at 168 London Wall, London EC2M 5QD, for an evening of networking, food tasting and talk. The invitation has also been posted on Facebook Offering artisanal pizza-by-the-square-slice, Pizza Rossa has already raised over £107,000, representing 71% of the £150,000 target fund using the CrowdCube platform. The pitch is accessible via The crowdfunding campaign aims to support working capital, focus on expansion opportunities, a concession in West London, a presence at street markets and food festivals, and pop up sites in shopping malls and supermarkets. Investments are eligible for EIS (Enterprise Investment Scheme) tax relief. A total of 10.2% of the company’s equity is offered.
Security boss takes over former Luminar site: A security firm owner has taken over a Sunderland nightclub to save it from closure. Les Ojugbana, who runs Gbana security, has taken over The Basement in Green Terrace, which once traded within the Luminar business. He has taken over the lease at the bar and nightclub from the current owners, who re-opened the former Diva site after it had previously stood empty. Ojugbana, whose business portfolio includes Fitness 2000 gym in Roker, said: “I run the door at The Basement. The family-run business who own the bar called me to say they were considering closing the venue, unless I wanted to take over the lease and run it as a bar and club. My major concern was that I knew 25 people would lose their jobs if it closed.” The site has had mixed fortunes. Upstairs was formerly Liquid, and downstairs Diva nightclub, before Luminar went into administration in 2011.Hundreds of thousands of pounds was ploughed into the venue to transform the Grade II-listed building into The Basement in 2012.

Simply Crispy cafe opens in Belfast selling crisp sandwiches: A cafe selling crisp sandwiches, Simply Crispy, has opened in Belfast. On the menu, at the venue at 8 Bedford Street, are combinations that include traditional flavours such as cheese and onion, prawn cocktail and spring onion, alongside Monster Munch and Frazzles. There is then an option to also add cheese or ham. 
Starbucks removes Tazo tea products from US stores: Starbucks in the US has begun selling its Tazo tea products exclusively in non-Starbucks retailers, a company spokeswoman has stated. The company has replaced Tazo tea in its outlets with products from Teavana, the US retail tea chain it bought for $620 million in 2012. Starbucks will continue to sell Tazo products in grocery stores, big-box retailers such as Target and Wal-Mart, as well as natural foods market such as Whole Foods, Starbucks spokeswoman Alisa Martinez said. Starbucks bought Tazo for $8.1 million in 1999. Current sales are not available, but Starbucks said in 2012 that the business brought in more than $1 billion in annual sales.
Newcastle first cat cafe to launch after crowd-funding push: Newcastle first cat cafe, Pretty Cat Parlour, is set to open later this year. Following a craze that’s popular in Japan, cat cafes provide a petting experience for those who don’t have pets. They were first created in Japan where most inhabitants are unable to keep pets due to lack of space. The venue is set to be opened at a unnamed in Newcastle this May by entrepreneur and cat lover Katie Jane Glazier, who has raised private investment and also plans to use crowd-funding platform Indiegogo to top up the £40,000 start-up funds needed to launch the business.

Camden lists Faucet Inn site on the market for £1.8m as asset of community value: Campaigners who want to stop developers selling off a community pub for housing have won a bid to get it listed as an “asset of community value”. Camden Council accepted an application by customers of The Dartmouth Arms pub in Dartmouth Park Road, Dartmouth Park, to have it listed. The status means that the community now has the right to make an offer to buy the pub, known as Labour Party leader Ed Miliband’s local, from current owner Faucet Inn. It is currently on the market for £1.8 million.

Krispy Kreme, Bill’s open in Leicester in February: The American doughnut chain Krispy Kreme is opening at Leicester’s Highcross shopping centre next month. A kiosk with a seating area for customers will open on Saturday 14 February on the ground floor of the East Mall. Around 12 jobs will be created. As the opening date approaches, staff will be giving away complimentary doughnuts in the city centre. Two weeks earlier, a new outlet for the Bill’s restaurant chain is due to open on Shires Lane in the Highcross centre. The 2,500 sq ft ground floor restaurant will throw open its doors on Monday 2 February. The chain now has 53 outlets, with another four due to open in the next few months.
Wine bar operator opens second outlet after 30 years: A wine bar operator and wine merchant who has been running in Ilkley, Yorkshire for more than 30 years is to open a second outlet in neighbouring Bingley. Bradford Council has granted a licence for the new venue in the town’s former Conservative Club. It will include a shop, bar and an upstairs function hall. Jonathan Cocker, owner of Martinez Wines in The Grove, Ilkley, which has a wine bar in the cellar, said: “We are very pleased to be opening a second shop and wine bar in Bingley.” Cocker said he hoped to open the new shop and bar in the first half of 2015. 
California judge backs Soho House California class settlement: A California judge has given final approval to Soho House West Hollywood’s deal to pay $2.8 million to settle class claims that it underpaid more than a thousand employees. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Kenneth Freeman said he would grant final approval to the agreement, pending the submission of distribution reports by the parties.
Wetherspoon to open yet another cinema conversion: JD Wetherspoon is to open yet another cinema converted into a pub, this time in Bloxwich, in the West Midlands. The Bloxwich Showman, which has been named after Pat Collins, a former mayor and MP and known for his involvement in the funfair industry, will open its doors on Tuesday 27 January in the former Electric Palace, which was previously used as a cinema. The opening comes after £1.5m investment that will create 45 jobs.
KFC closes Newmarket branch: KFC has closed its branch in Newmarket High Street, Suffolk. A company spokesperson said: “We’re always evaluating the location of our restaurants to ensure they are in the best possible areas to meet consumer demand, and have taken the decision to close our Newmarket KFC store. All staff have been relocated to restaurants nearby and we hope our fans in the area will visit our stores in Cambridge and Mildenhall.” 
Spirit to spend £300,000 on oldest pub in Lytham St Annes: Spirit Group is to spend £300,000 upgrading the Victoria Hotel in Lytham St Annes, Lancashire, the oldest pub in the town, dating back to 1897. The upgrade will see 20 new jobs created at the outlet, which currently employs just seven people. The Victoria was the subject of closure fears three years ago, and was listed as a community asset under the Localism Act in a bid to ensure it continued as a pub after a proposal to knock it down and replace it with retirement flats was blocked by planners. Scaffolding went up around the Church Road pub this week and it will close from 2 to 17 February. The bar will be completely revamped, with new signature pieces of furniture and contemporary fixtures and food will be reintroduced, including a specials’ menu. The pub’s manager, Jordan Sadler said: “We’re hugely excited to be undergoing such a huge transformation. The Victoria Hotel is a big part of the community, so we’re pleased to be able to offer even better surroundings and a new menu alongside a wide selection of real ales and craft beers to our loyal and new guests alike.”
New better burger brand to open in Torquay: A new better burger concept, Meat 59, is to open in Torquay’s Abbey Road on Friday, 16 January. Co-founder Jenna Heasman said the restaurant will have a ‘rustic West Country feel’ and will support local suppliers. She said: “I’ve been working for the NHS but I’ve always had a passion for food. We wanted to bring something a bit different to the area. There are a few places like Meat 59 in Exeter but not down here. We’ll be offering burgers, sides, milkshakes, craft beers and British wine.”

Nando’s to hit double figures in Ireland: Nando’s is to open its tenth Irish site in the former homeware store Meadows & Byrne on Academy Street in Cork. Nando’s will be joining a string of other newly opened restaurants in the city quarter, which is undergoing a revival, including Coq Bull and Zamora. Its arrival in the city centre follows last week’s announcement by Starbucks that it was opening in Princes Street.

Carlsberg to review future of Special Brew and Skol Super: Carlsberg is to review the future of Skol Super and Special Brew after the brewer became only the second supplier to sign up to a Responsibility Deal pledge to stop selling any product containing more than four units of alcohol in a single-serve can, The Grocer has reported. The nine per cent abv Special Brew is currently available in 550ml cans, which are in breach of the pledge, as well as 450ml cans and 250ml bottles, which are not. The Skol Super brand is currently sold only in 500ml cans and would also breach the pledge, which Carlsberg has promised to honour by the autumn. Carlsberg UK corporate affairs director Bruce Ray told The Grocer: “As part of our leadership role within the UK alcoholic beverage industry, which has seen us sign up to 13 pledges to date, we recognise the important role packaging can play alongside other factors in creating a responsible drinking environment.”
Celebrity chef closes Foxhunter after 13 years: Celebrity chef Mark Tebbutt has closed his Foxhunter restaurant in Monmouthshire after 13 years of trading, citing work commitments. It will revert to being a pub. Matt’s wife, Lisa Tebbutt, said: “It’s very sad, but a necessity because of Matt’s new show. He is going to be cooking in some amazing locations round the world. We are leasing the Fox so it will go back to being a pub. He also has a couple of restaurant ventures in the pipeline, in London and on the south coast, but Cardiff is also a possible future option.” Matt said: “It’s a very sad decision after 13 years at The Foxhunter, but I have got a very exciting year ahead and we will stay living in Monmouthshire. I’d like to thank all our regulars for their support and hope to see them before we handover in January.” Tebbutt presents Food Unwrapped on Channel 4 and champions forgotten foods on Great British Food Revival on BBC2. He co-presented Market Kitchen with Tom Parker-Bowles and Matthew Fort and is the guest presenter of Saturday Kitchen.
BB’s Coffee and Muffin site owner fined £15,000: The owner of a BB’S Coffee and Muffins cafe in Pentagon Shopping Centre in Chatham, one of more than 50 sites nationally, has been fined £15,000 after a “widespread” infestation of mice. Mohammed Qayyum, who trades in the Pentagon Shopping Centre, Chatham, appeared before Medway magistrates as a director of Ahmed & Brothers Ltd who own the premises. Court papers revealed council officers found an active and widespread infestation of mice and ready-to-eat food contaminated by droppings and gnawing. Officers were granted an emergency order to close down the cafe, which is in the middle of the main shopping arcade, on June 7, 2013. They revisited the cafe shortly afterwards and reopened it with a clean bill of health.

Horizons – eating out sales to grow by 2% this year: Trading through the eating out sector is likely to improve further this year, although it’s still a long way off peak 2008 levels, according to foodservice consultancy Horizons. The UK’s restaurants, hotels, quick service dining outlets, cafes, contract caterers and takeaways saw sales improve around 2% during 2014 with similar growth anticipated for 2015. “It won’t be a meteoric rise this year, but sales are likely to see steady growth if consumer confidence continues to improve, prompting a rise in average spend,” said Horizons’ managing director Peter Backman. However, consumer confidence is fragile particularly with current global uncertainties such as the ebola virus, the threat posed by Islamic extremists, the UK’s presence in Europe and the outcome of the general election in May. Such issues could weigh on people’s minds and negatively affect their confidence limiting any projected growth in foodservice sales. In terms of the types of outlets likely to increase their presence in the market, Backman earmarks limited product takeaways such as juice bars, Mexican street food and bakeries and coffee outlets for further growth. These occupy small outlets in high traffic areas and mean that consumers can satisfy their need to buy food when they want, where they want. “We envisage this trend continuing as entrepreneurial operators come up with novel ideas for brands. It is these operators who will bring new food trends to the market by renting small, cost-effective spaces that larger brands can’t,” said Backman. Horizons also envisages a year in which the bigger eating out operators are likely to grow further through acquisition with smaller players the inevitable targets. “The larger players are now at the point where they will start to ask where further growth will come from. The eating out market in some sectors is reaching saturation and overseas expansion is difficult for most, so acquisition through 2015 and into 2016 is the obvious answer. Investors are much keener on the eating out sector than they were and obtaining finance for deals will get easier,” Backman added.
Vanessa Hall and Steve Cash to take part Professor Chris Edger to hold Multi-Site Management Masterclass: YO! Sushi chief executive Vanessa Hall and former Harvester brand director Steve Cash are to feature in live sessions held within Professor Chris Edger, 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 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 Operations Manager winner Barrie Robinson in 2013. 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 email to book.

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