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Mon 16th Feb 2015 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

First UK Project Pie opens on Valentine’s Day, a total of 60 planned for UK: The first Project Pie pizza restaurant in the UK opened in Dundee on Saturday, Valentine’s Day. The 60-seater, £500,000 restaurant, at 48-54 Reform Street, Dundee, is planned to be the first of more than 60 Project Pie outlets in the UK and Ireland. Customers choose from 28 toppings, including cheeses, meats, vegetables and herbs and spices, to create their own pizza. Up to 20 pizzas, each 12 inches in diameter, can be cooked simultaneously in the custom-built oven, with the full process taking under three minutes. The concept was created and developed by James Markham, a serial entrepreneur and pioneer of the fast casual pizza movement. He created two other artisan pizza brands. Mod Pizza and Pie-ology, on the US West Coast, before establishing Project Pie in Las Vegas in 2012. It now has dozens of outlets across the United States and also in the Philippines, where it has eight stores. The UK and Ireland franchise was purchased last year by the property developers John and Susan Canavan with Niall Howard, former chief executive of the international restaurant group Hakkasan. Howard, who is based in Edinburgh, was recruited to the project last year after the Canavans decided to bring the concept – which combines fast, freshly-prepared pizza with stylish surroundings – to the UK. Howard told Scottish Licensed Trade News: “I went out to California to see [the Canavans] just over a year ago and went to the first Project Pie store in San Diego to meet them and James Markham. The bottom line is I loved what I saw there and thought it would very easily translate into the UK without any problem.”

Industry News:

Figures show record inbound tourism: Official figures showed that foreign traveller numbers to the UK rose by 6% to 34.8 million last year compared to 2013 with spending up by 3% to £21.7 billion. Arrivals from the US, the most valuable market, were up by 4% to 3.7 million – the highest level since before the recession in 2008. The figures indicate that numbers are on par with prime minister David Cameron’s forecast of welcoming 40 million visitors per year by 2020, but that they are likely to supersede this projection by 2017 if the 6% annual growth rate can be maintained. Minister for Tourism Helen Grant said: “I am delighted that tourists from overseas are coming to our country in record numbers, spending more and enjoying the very best of Britain. It confirms that our tourism strategy is working and highlights the important role the industry plays in the government’s long-term economic plan.”

US restaurant industry reports very strong January: January was the best month for the US restaurant industry in ten years, according to the latest MillerPulse survey. Restaurant like-for-like sales rose 6.5% in January, due largely to a 3.3% increase in traffic, the industry’s best traffic performance in five years, according to MillerPulse. Casual-dining restaurants led the way, outperforming quick-service restaurants for the first time in four years, said Larry Miller, co-founder of the MillerPulse survey. Casual-dining like-for-like sales rose 6.7% in January, according to the survey, compared with 6.1% for quick-service restaurants. Miller said: “Business is picking up (and) traffic is picking up – that tends to be a little bit longer lasting.” At least part of the reason for the strong sales in January was weather a year earlier which was much harsher and affected sales, make for easier comparatives.

New crowdfunding “supermarket” launches: A new crowdfunding supermarket has launched that allows people to invest across the sector in one place. InvestUp, which is backed by a group of former bankers, pools crowdfunding and peer-to-peer investments in one place so people can scan the market and lend through a number of sites in a single portfolio. A range of 13 peer-to-peer sites will be accessible through the supermarket, and InvestUp is still in talks with a number of other platforms.

McDonald’s is top restaurant operator in animal welfare report as Burger King, Whitbread and Mitchells & Butlers come bottom: McDonald’s has been ranked the top restaurant operator in the global annual farm animal welfare Business Benchmark report, moving up into “tier two”, and assessed as “showing leadership in its approach to managing and reporting on farm animal welfare”. The company was just ahead of Subway and Wendy’s in tier three, where animal welfare was “established but with work to be done”, while Yum! Brands, owner of KFC and Pizza Hut, is in tier four, “making progress” on implementing animal welfare policies, and Domino’s Pizza, Gregg’s, JD Wetherspoon and Starbucks are in tier five, where animal welfare is “on the agenda but [with] limited evidence of implementation”. Burger King, Whitbread and Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) are all in the bottom tier six, where “animal welfare does not appear to be on the business agenda”. M&B fell one tier since the last report, while McDonald’s and Subway both rose. The only companies in tier one were Marks & Spencer, Waitrose and the Swiss Co-op.

Austerity drive makes the government Travelodge’s biggest customer: The austerity drive by the government has seen it become Travelodge’s biggest customer. Chief executive Peter Gowers told The Daily Telegraph: “The government books hundreds of thousands of rooms with us each year. We’re there to offer unbeatable value and a lot of government departments now are saying that they have got to be seen to get value-for-money.” Travelodge sold 70% of its rooms last year for less than £50. Sales of circa £500m last year showed 17% growth in like-for-like revenue per available room.

Company News:

Corney & Barrow Bars reduces losses: London wine bar and restaurant operator Corney & Barrow Bars, led by Ed Gardner, has reported it reduced losses in its most recent year to 30 April 2014. It made a pre-tax loss of £807,453 compared to £1,544,531 the year before. Turnover reduced to £14,876,100 compared to £16,325,262 the year before. Although headline turnover was down 9%, like-for-like sales grew 2% compared to a 7% like-for-like drop the year before. Staff cost percentage fell by 2.5%. Meanwhile, Corney and Barrow, the wholesaling wine business, reported pre-tax profit of £2,096,674 (2013: £1,943,954) on turnover up 4% at £51,542,660.

Nicola Horlick to open oyster bar with crowdfunding cash: Former Societe Generale fund manager Nicola Horlick is to open an oyster and cocktail bar in Clapham South London next month using crowdfunding money raised through almost 170 investors to open a restaurant in Chiswick. Horlick raised £150,000 on the Seedrs platform in November 2013, with a business plan to open an upmarket brasserie in Chiswick. The intended location in Chiswick fell through at the end of last year, so her business plan has changed fundamentally. In a new business plan sent to investors, some of whom have expressed unhappiness at the change of plan, she described the new venue, The Walrus Room, as a “concept cocktail and oyster bar”, with the theme and interior based on Lewis Carroll’s poem “The Walrus and the Carpenter” from his novel Through the Looking Glass. Horlick told The Daily Telegraph: “There were no alternative sites in Chiswick that were suitable. I told investors that if I didn’t secure a new site I would return the money. I stand firm behind my decision. I hope the small number of investors who were unhappy will change their mind once the venue opens next month.”

Camden Town Brewery hits £500,000 mark: Camden Town Brewery, which is seeking £1.5m of investment in return for 2% of its equity, has raised £506,890, with 481 investors pledging investment, 33% of the total sought within a week of launching. On Friday, the brewery won one gold, two silvers and a bronze in the National Brewing Awards.

Little Cotswold Pub Company takes on third outlet: The Little Cotswold Pub Company, based near Stroud, has taken on an Enterprise Inns outlet, The Double Gloucester in Longlevens, Gloucester. Tina Foster, one of the founders of the Little Cotswold Pub Company five years ago with her husband Chris and fellow directors Denise Jeffreys-Jones and Tony Barnfield, told The Gloucester Citizen: “We want The Double Gloucester to be everything a pub can be.” The previous landlord of the pub, in Cheltenham Road, Christian Farmer, left earlier this year, blaming rising rents, beer prices and a downturn in the trade for his departure. The Little Cotswold Pub Company also operates The Royal William in Cranham, near Stroud and The Duke Wellington in Bourton-on-the-Water.

Foresight Restaurants and Jospeh Holt to open £1m joint venture site: North west-based Foresight Restaurants and brewer Jospeh Holt are to open a new £1m pub in Cheadle Hulme on 23 February. The former Cheadle Hulme pub next to the train station on Station Road has undergone a million-pound transformation to become Platform 5. It is the third site for Foresight Restaurants. Platform 5 is described as a ‘more than just a pub’ offering craft ale and artisan food inspired by North America and the Mediterranean. The 7.30am opening is aimed at attracting commuters for an early morning coffee prior to getting their train into Manchester. Pat Breslin, Foresight director, said: “The pub will be a unique addition to the drinking and dining repertoire in south Manchester and Cheshire.”

Venture Pub Company takes on first site with Star Pubs & Bars, eighteenth in total: Multiple operator Venture Pub Company has taken on its first pub with Star Pubs & Bars, The Bricklayer’s Arms in Leicester, bringing its estate to a total of 18 sites. The Bricklayer’s Arms, its first site in Leicester, is to re-open mid-March following a £167,000 refurbishment. The pub, which has been closed since mid-2013, is on Welford Road near the Leicester Tigers and Leicester City grounds. Funds are being spent on a complete overhaul of the interior and exterior of the pub to broaden its appeal to students, nurses and families living nearby, creating a light modern pub with comfortable seating, Wi-Fi and large screens to screen live sport and live music entertainment. Therese Gallacher, director of Venture Pub Company, said: “The Bricklayer’s Arms is the first closed pub that we’ve taken on. Whilst it is a new departure for us, we believe it is a risk well worth taking as the pub is in a great location on a main thoroughfare into Leicester, near Leicester Tigers and Leicester City grounds. A large number of students and nurses also live in the area, so we’ll be putting on live music as well as screening sports. Whilst our estate is predominantly wet led, the introduction of food and quality coffee is right for this location. We’re looking forward to working with Star Pubs & Bars on turning around the fortunes of The Bricklayer’s Arms and hope this will be the first of many.”

Enterprise finance director sells 100,000 shares: Neil Smith, chief financial officer at Enterprise Inns, sold 100,530 of the company’s shares last week at an average price 106.99p a share for a total of just over £107,500. Smith joined the company four years ago.

Jamie Oliver to open Tunbridge Wells Trattoria in the spring: Jamie Oliver is to open a Trattoria site in Tunbridge Wells, Kent in the spring. The venue was given the nod by council planners in October last year, and now it is recruiting for staff. The restaurant is set to be located at 46 to 50 High Street in the town.

Award-winning pub boss takes on his third site: The former frontman of the punk band Anti-Pasti, now running two award-winning pubs in Derby, is to take on a third venue, in Burton upon Trent. Martin Roper, landlord of The Exeter Arms and The Silk Mill, both in Derby, will take over the former Caliente restaurant, in High Street, Burton. Although its original name was The Blue Posts when it was a pub, it is being renamed The Crossing because it was next to an old railway crossing. Roper, who was lead singer with the Derby-based punk band Anti-Pasti from 1978 to 1984, said he would provide “cutting edge, contemporary food and drink” in his new venture, which will also boast eight different cask ales. He said: “Up until a few years ago, I had three fashion retail shops in Derby which I ran for 25 years. But, after Westfield centre came along and the popularity of online retail, I just saw my business going down the pan. I also had a massive interest in food, have been on television and I am a freelance food writer for the BBC. I started working in a friend’s kitchen in his pub, The Exeter Arms, in Derby, and eventually he asked me if I wanted to buy it.” Under his leadership, the venue has been voted the best food and drink pub of the year in the Derby Food and Drink awards for the past three years.

Plan for Northampton Ed’s Easy Diner ‘falls off the schedule’: Plans for an Ed’s Easy Diner in Northampton have “fallen off the company’s schedule”, the retro-American chain has revealed, after problems with the chosen site, the former Disney store in Northampton’s Grosvenor Centre. The store was announced in August last year, and due to open last month. However, Legal and General, which owns the 32,000 sq ft Grosvenor Centre retail space, said while the multi-million-pound internal renovation of the centre in Northampton is on track to be completed by May, plans to turn the Disney Store unit into an Ed’s Easy Diner had stalled. A spokesperson for Legal and General said: “We weren’t able to deliver a store for Ed’s Diner during 2014. However there is a desire by both parties to have them in the Grosvenor Centre and those discussions are ongoing.” A spokeswoman for Ed’s Diner said its plans to bring a diner to Northampton had “fallen off the company’s schedule”. The chain currently has 28 outlets, with new restaurants due to open in Blackburn and Cambridge in March, and Inverness, Islington and Aberdeen in April.

Blumenthal bans flash photography in Australian Fat Duck: Chef Heston Blumenthal has banned diners in Australia attempting to capture their meals from using flash photography. A spokesperson for The Fat Duck, which has temporarily moved to Melbourne whilst it’s original Berkshire premises is refurbished, told The Daily Mail: “Diners can capture their experience as long as it doesn’t affect the other guests’ dining experience or interfere with service. We avoid flash photography, and guests shifting around the dishes and standing to shoot. Customers have taken to using flashes, tripods and even standing on chairs to get the perfect shot. However, photography is not forbidden entirely. Customers, who can only make a reservation through an online lottery and pay £267 for a tasting menu, are more than welcome to take photographs together. We appreciate that it is a special occasion and will ensure that guests can capture every moment.”

Metro Inns takes tenth site: Metro Inns has opened its tenth site, The Maids Head, King’s Lynn’s following a £190,000 joint investment with Enterprise Inns. The company, headed by directors Sean Driscol and Gary Wood, already operates nine pubs across East Anglia, including The White Horse, in Gaywood and The Masons Arms, Bury St Edmonds. Enterprise regional manager Martin Obey said: “We saw an opportunity to invest in The Maids Head and reposition it to take advantage of the town centre improvements that have made a huge difference over recent years. We’re delighted to have attracted experienced operators in Sean and Gary, who recognise the potential to develop the pub into a quality destination for a drink and meal out.”

KFC makes second bid for drive-through at Gatwick’s South Terminal: KFC franchisee Cobra Restaurants and Gatwick Airport have put in a second application for a KFC restaurant on a site at the airport’s South Terminal. The previous application last July was turned down by Crawley Council, despite the council’s planning officers having recommended the application be approved, on the grounds of the loss of woodland, trees and related ecology which would occur if the application were granted. The developers say they have taken this on board and created a new scheme that would protect more trees through building a smaller restaurant and reducing the size of the planned car park. The council’s planning officers are due to announce a decision on the plans by 31 March. 

Stonegate invests £400,000 to evolve flagship Slug & Lettuce in Canary Wharf: Stonegate Pub Company has invested £400,000 to evolve its flagship Slug & Lettuce, located at the South Colonnade in Canary Wharf. The site has introduced new food and drinks menus, adding a range of fresh breakfast dishes and lighter lunches. A total refresh of the bar has seen extra space added to the bar to demonstrate the bar’s cocktail masterclasses. A new drinks menu features an extended selection of award-winning wines, craft beers, cask ales and premium draught lagers. A greater range of cocktails using premium spirits brands has also been added. World beers such as Estrella Damm, Peroni and Vedett are on the drinks menu along with some new and interesting craft beers such as Portobello London Pilsner, Longhorn IPA from Purity and St Mungo from West Brewery in Glasgow. These products will join some local cask ales from breweries such as Redemption, Siren Craft Brewery and Twickenham Ales.

Jamie Rollo – Costa demerger is already priced into Whitbread shares: Morgan Stanley leisure analyst Jamie Rollo has argued that a possible demerger of Costa Coffee by Whitbread is already priced into its share price. He said: “Whitbread has consistently said Costa is core, but there is little obvious synergy with hotels and restaurants, and Costa is now self-funding. Costa’s closest competitors are Starbucks and Yum (13x /10x Dec-16e Ebitda), with a premium perhaps warranted given Costa arguably has greater potential overseas where it currently breaks even. (The) hotels and restaurants (division) can be compared with European or US hoteliers (10-13x December 2016 estimates, with Whitbread Hotels arguably worth more given property backing and superior unit growth), and UK Pub Restaurant operators (8-10x). If we use 14x for Costa and a blended 12x for hotel and restaurants it gives an equity value of £51, 3% above the current share price. This suggests a split in itself would not add value.”

Wetherspoon returns with the third set of plan for Helston, Cornwall: JD Wetherspoon has come back with its third set of plans for a pub in Helston, Cornwall (population: 11,700). The company has revised its previous planning applications and submitted a new set of proposals to Cornwall Council – it has bought the former Oliver and Sons home furnishing store in Coinagehall Street. The first set of Wetherspoon plans raised objections from people living nearby. Concerns included noise and disturbance from two planned roof terraces. The second application did away with the roof terraces but the company also withdrew those plans. It has now come back with another roof terrace added, but said it hoped to have solved the neighbours’ concerns by moving the roof terrace away from the residental area. The company needs planning permission and listed building consent, as the building forms part of the conservation area. Helston Town Council has yet to discuss the plans. A final decision will be made by Cornwall Council planners.

Couple take over Shepherd Neame pub to support zoo: Andy and Kelly Cowell have taken over Shepherd Neame’s Fenn Bell Inn on the Hoo Peninsula to support 300 rescued animals. The couple, who previously lived on a nearby farm with their menagerie, are creating a mini zoo in the pub garden, which they hope to complete and open to the public by April. Andy Cowell said: “Kelly and I always loved animals so we began adopting unwanted pets, and the number grew and grew as more people approached us with animals in need of homes. It is very fulfilling, but also very time-consuming – we haven’t had a holiday for years! They are all rescue animals that have been captively-bred so they wouldn’t survive in the wild. Our aim is to give them a good quality of life while also allowing customers to view them and learn more about them.” The couple will be using the pub profits to pay for the animals’ care. Andy Cowell added: “The whole purpose of this project is to fund more work with the animals. We are using the pub to support the animals, as opposed to using the animals to support the pub. It will be free for customers to see them, and we are also planning to add a small steam railway for children around the garden, and open a children’s play area, to create a unique family-friendly experience.”

Dunkin’ Donuts to make Cronut a permanent part of line-up: Dunkin’ Donuts has announced that the croissant donut – also known as the Cronut – is going to become a permanent menu item in its US line-up. Since the item was introduced as a limited time offering in November, Dunkin’ Donuts says it has sold 8.5 million croissant donuts. The chain also said new flavours of croissant donut were on the way, beginning in March, when select locations in New Jersey will be selling a Boston Kreme Croissant Donut, with more options in the works. John Costello, Dunkin’ Brand’s president of global marketing and innovation, said: “With Dunkin’ Donuts’ unrivalled donut heritage, the Croissant Donut platform will allow us to bring even more new and exciting flavour options to our fans.” Costello has been firm in his insistence that the Croissant Donut is not a knock-off of the Cronut, invented by the New York-based pastry chef Dominique Ansel.

New bar to kickstart redevelopment of Milburn House in Newcastle: A new champagne bar is to open at Milburn House in Newcastle in a Grade II-listed building close to the city’s Quayside. Later this month The Glass House will open in the building after a 3,000 sq ft space was transformed into a bar serving champagne, wine and cocktails with tapas and canapés also on the menu. Refurbishment works are currently being undertaken, with bar owner Mark Nigrelli investing £250,000 in a deal struck by chartered surveyor and property consultancy Sanderson Weatherall. In addition to the wine and champagne bar offering, the Glass House will also include an outdoor courtyard area and a whiskey cellar. 

Juniper boss extends brand with pub opening: David Gill, who operates Juniper’s Pantry deli in Barnes and sister deli in Sea Road, Fulwell, has extended his brand by opening Juniper’s at The Cavalier, Silksworth. “I see this very much as an extension of Juniper’s,” he said. “I will be overseeing the kitchen in all three, so certainly won’t be neglecting the other two. This will be a gastro pub, not a restaurant with fuss. We’ll be serving the classics that have proved popular in the delis.” Customers can expect British favourites such as home-made pork scratchings and duck and black pudding sausage rolls as bar snacks, and fish and chips made with beef dripping and pies for mains. He added: “When I first opened Juniper’s in July 2011, it was always my intention to try and build a brand. That continued with opening Juniper’s in Sea Road last summer and now we have Juniper’s @ The Cavalier.”

Pasty couple branch out into pizzas at £1 a slice: Lesley Bunce and Malkolm Park, who already operate the successful Oggy Oggy Pasty Company eatery in Mayflower Street, Plymouth are opening a new venture, Slice A Pizza, just yards away in the city’s Armada Centre which claims to be the only outlet in Britain selling pizza at £1 a slice. The former Jessop’s camera shop opposite Wilkinson’s is being transformed into a pizza parlour where customers will be able to eat in or take away a slice of pizza for as little as £1. The pizzas will be cooked in electric ovens by Italian-trained staff, with some special topping ingredients being imported from Italy. Bunce said: “We aim to make up to 35 kinds of pizza, with up to 12 available at any one time. You can have as much or as little as you want, and we believe there is nowhere in the UK you can buy a slice of pizza for as little as £1 and nowhere in Plymouth city centre where you can buy pizza to go.”

London’s first porridge restaurant to open in March: What is claimed to be London’s first porridge restaurant is opening as a pop-up on 2 March in Paul Street, near Old Street, in the City. The restaurant is being run by Nik Williamson, co-founder in 2013 of Bow Street Kitchen, a street food operation that uses a converted Mercedes van to deliver “British street food” at events. The Porridge Cafe pushes the concept of porridge wider than just oats, with 11 grains being used, including arborio rice, rye, polenta and quinoa, to make dishes including slow-cooked beef ragu with feta and roasted pepper, chorizo and chilli. Williamson said: “After a trip to Scandinavia we noticed a trend for high quality and interesting porridge using anything but traditional recipes. When we got back we did lots of research and found no one was running a place that sold really interesting porridge so we set about to create London’s first porridge cafe. Lots of the research led us to articles that show how amazing porridge is as part of a balanced diet. It’s high-fibre, high-protein, low-GI, and eating it regularly can also help reduce stress due to the presence of magnesium in many grains. We discovered the huge amount of grains that are used to make porridge all over the world along with the different methods to make it.” The Porridge Cafe will be open between 7am and 6pm.

Busaba Eathai linked with Manchester sites: Busaba Eathai, the casual Thai dining chain founded by Alan Yau in 1999, has been linked with two sites in Manchester as it looks to grow to 20 outlets within the next three years from its current 13. According to local media reports, the chain, which is backed by Phoenix Capital Partners, is said to be lining up a unit in either the Printworks or in one of very few spaces left in the fast-developing Corn Exchange. A dozen restaurants have already been confirmed for the Corn Exchange, which is currently undergoing a £30m renovation and is due to open by the end of June. They include Wahaca, Pho, Cabana, Cosy Club, Byron Burger, Tampopo, PizzaExpress and Zizzi Ristorante.

Subway reveals details of Welsh openings: Details have emerged of some of the dozen new openings being planned by the sandwich chain in Wales during 2015. Currently Subway has around 75 stores in Wales, all owned and operated by franchises, with 19 coming from a successful partnership with AF Blakemore and Son Ltd, a family-owned company that operates Spar convenience stores. Six of the openings will be in North Wales, mostly within convenience stores. They are in Gresford, within a Spar store; Llanberis, also within a Spar, Bangor Services; Bryn Llwyd Service Station on Caernarfon Road in Bangor; Chirk; and Llangefni on the Isle of Anglesey. This year the sandwich chain expects to open 260 new outlets, creating more than 2,500 jobs. It recently opened its 2,000th UK store, in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire.

Decision postponed on plan for 100 homes behind Enterprise Inns pub: A decision on a proposal by Enterprise Inns to build up to 100 homes on a site behind The Full Pitcher pub on New Street, Ledbury, Herefordshire has been postponed by Herefordshire Council. The land is currently leased to Ledbury Cricket Club, and Enterprise, together with a developer, the Silverwood Partnership, submitted an outline planning application for 100 new houses on the site last summer. A decision on the application was deferred by Herefordshire Council’s planning committee last week after councillors called for more information from the council’s highways department on its possible impact. 

Junk food cafe planned for Manchester: The UK’s largest “junk food cafe” project, using ingredients that are fresh and edible but due to go to landfill, is being planned for Manchester. The plan takes its inspiration from the first Junk Food cafe, which opened in Leeds in December 2013 and collects 50 tonnes of unwanted food every year and now feeds thousands of people, many unable to afford a nutritious meal. The Real Junk Food Manchester project is being run by Corin Bell, a sustainable food consultant and Adele Jordan, director of Cracking Good Food, an organisation based in Chorlton that tackles food poverty and teaches low cost cooking and recipes. They are currently in talks with Manchester Council to take over a building in the city centre that would have room for 65 diners. All the dishes would be served on a “pay as you feel” basis, meaning people either pay the amount they think it is worth in cash or volunteer their time in return. The Manchester project would work with the food waste charity FareShare, based at New Smithfield Market, and also aim to collect ingredients from city centre shops and restaurants. There are also plans to open a training kitchen to offer cookery qualifications to people who are unemployed.

Brasserie Group signs training partnership with Gloucestershire College: The Brasserie Group, which runs 15 restaurants in and around Gloucestershire, has signed a partnership with Gloucestershire College that will see six students from the college’s catering school receive training at the Chelsea Bar & Brasserie in Cheltenham. The students could be any age and will spend one day a week there for six months. Abdul Mannan, chief executive of the Brasserie Group, said the first students would join the restaurant on 23 February. He said: “It’s about giving these students real-life skills for their future. We’re giving them practical skills for experience, for when they get their own job.” The aim was to have all of the students qualified as chefs and front-of-house staff by the end of their course, with various qualifications. 

SIBA calls for third duty cut: A third cut in beer duty in next month’s Budget would be a further boost to growth, employment and investment in British brewing, while increasing tax revenue to the Treasury, claims the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) in its submission to the Treasury, which calls for more support for Britain’s 1,500 breweries. SIBA is calling on the Chancellor to deliver a third cut in beer duty, which is needed to build on the momentum of the historic duty reductions of 2013 and 2014 and the end of the devastating beer duty escalator. SIBA managing director Mike Benner said: “Britain’s independent brewers reacted to the two consecutive beer duty cuts by investing for growth and creating jobs, which must surely be the response the Chancellor was hoping for, but the outcomes have been even greater than expected, particularly with lower prices at the bar and an increase in government revenues. In this pre-Election Budget, generating jobs, particularly among young people, and reducing the deficit, are high on the Chancellor’s agenda. With a third beer duty cut, he would help achieve both goals, while also supporting a great British manufacturing industry which is in growth, and keeping a pint of beer affordable for millions of pubgoers. Backing Britain’s independent brewers at this exciting time for British beer makes sense.” SIBA’s submission also calls for further measures to support Britain’s independent brewers, including a commitment to retain Small Breweries’ Relief to at least its current levels. It also asks for UK government support for changes to the EU Excise Directives to enable member states to: introduce progressive cider duty; set preferential duty rates for draught beer sold in the on-trade; increase the 2.8% limit for low-strength beers; increase the upper threshold of progressive beer duty over 200,000hl.

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