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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Thu 7th May 2015 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Tim Martin – ‘Beaconsfield motorway service pub has lowest bar sales we’ve ever seen’: Tim Martin, chairman of JD Wetherspoon, has told Propel that his company's controversial motorway services station pub on the M40 at Beaconsfield, open since January 2014, has the lowest bar sales he has ever come across within the estate. Martin indicated that average weekly bar sales were well below £10,000 a week. He said: “It has the lowest bar sales I’ve ever seen at one of our pubs anywhere – we’re trying to get it into the Guinness Book of World Records! It’s one in the eye for me – I thought we could make a buck there.” Elsewhere, Martin said that Wetherspoon has begun to be “wary of some pub transactions” because of high property prices, pointing to central London as an example, but that “overall the company is still able to buy pubs at reasonable prices.” Martin said that trading at the company’s first two pubs in the Irish Republic was “looking promising”, with two or three more sites now in the pipeline. “We will have spent €30m before we find out whether [Irish expansion] is viable,” he said. Martin reported that the company’s aggressive breakfast pricing strategy to expand volumes – it already has 13.7% market share – has also made a promising start. “I can’t say we are making a lot of money out of it yet,” he said. “But our busiest food club, the Steak Club, started off very slowly with couple of meals a week but is now our busiest, with a hundred meals per week per pub.” Martin also argued that pub company boards are in denial over why the sector is finding it hard to grow sales in the current economic recovery. He said: “They should take a walk around Aldi and look at some of these products they offer – the impact of tax inequality with the supermarkets continues. Beer and wine lines are their main promotional lines. The whole industry will be under pressure until there is tax equality with supermarkets.”

Industry News:

Host of investors and operators book for Propel Operators and Investors Dinner: A host of operators and investors have booked to attend the annual Propel Operators and Investors Dinner which takes place on Wednesday 17 June at the Banking Hall, London, sponsored this year by Britvic and Carlsberg. There are 100 places at the dinner for operators of multi-site companies and investors from major banks, private equity firms and elsewhere. Investors attending include Downing, Enterprise Inns, ICE Capital Partners, Maxcap Partners, NatWest, Santander, Metro Bank, Piper Private Equity, Kings Park Capital, Bowmark, Santander, Risk Capital Partners, Star Pubs & Bars, Barclays, True Capital, British Growth Fund, Panmure Gordon, Hawthorn Leisure, Beringea and Greene King. Operators who have booked include: Anglian Country Inns, Ed's Easy Diner, Flat Iron Steak, Dalziel & Vine, Distinct Group, Bulldog Hotel Group, K10, Steamin’ Billy Brewery, Malvern Inns, TCG, The Victorian Chop House, Oak Taverns, Casual Dining Group, Ignite Group, Hache, Luminar, Faucet Inn, Mamuska, Resolution Leisure, Crussh, Square Pie, Bill's, The Snug Bar, TLC Inns, Barburrito, Banwell House, Tortilla, Benito's Hat, British Street Food, Chozen Noodle, Big Easy, Oakman Inns and Restaurants, New Pub Company, Whiting & Hammond, Yummy Pub Company and Beds & Bars. Tickets to attend cost £100 plus VAT. Propel's managing director, Paul Charity, said: “The dinner is a great opportunity to extend mutual networks in an informal setting. We launched the event last year and it was a great success, so we’re delighted to hold another dinner this year.” Anyone who would like a ticket should email Paul Charity at
Street food arrives in Shrewsbury: Shrewsbury’s first street food event is being launched by the Shropshire celebrity chef Marcus Bean, bringing the latest street food produce to the town. Eat Street Shrewsbury will take place in the grounds of St Alkmunds church, off Butcher Row in Shrewsbury on Friday 22 May from 4pm to 10pm. Entry will be free. Among the eight traders that will be showcasing their street food will be the Beefy Boys from Hereford and London-based Dog Town London. They will be lined up alongside Shrewsbury’s Barkworths Seafoods, Eat Up’s big coffee van and Polly’s Parlour vintage VW ice-cream van.
Plymouth council block new takeaway because residents are already overweight: Plymouth council has banned a new takeaway from opening – because its residents are already too fat. Officials at Plymouth City Council have rejected plans for a fast food outlet because some of its population have an "excess weight" issue. Businessman Mohammed Rafic had applied to open a takeaway selling fish and chips, kebabs and fried chicken in the St Budeaux area. Around 60% of adults in Plymouth have been classed as overweight or obese, according to Public Health England. Overall, 64% of adults in England are overweight or obese, with a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or over. But councillors in Plymouth said no to the takeaway, after being told that residents in the suburb are already bigger than the average person.
Panera Bread becomes first US restaurant company to publish list of banned ingredients: The American cafe bakery chain Panera Bread has become the first restaurant company in the United States to publish a list of 150 ingredients it has banned or intends to ban by the end of 2016. The list includes artificial colours, flavours, sweeteners and preservatives. The company's chief executive, Ron Shaich, said: “Last year we unveiled our food policy, to hold ourselves accountable to long-held values and set the future vision for our menu. The 'No No List' is the latest step on our journey to clean food and a transparent menu. We are not scientists. We are people who know and love food, and who believe that the journey to better food starts with simpler ingredients. And to turn that belief into meaningful action, we consulted third-party scientists and experts to compile a list of common artificial additives that we are going to do without. Simplifying our pantry is essential to our vision, but it is not an end point. We want to be an ally for wellness for the millions of guests we serve each week.” The list also includes substances such as high fructose corn syrup and artificial trans fats.

McDonald’s Steve Easterbrook – there’s more to come on turnaround plan: McDonald’s chief executive, Steve Easterbrook, has insisted that Monday’s turnaround plan details represent just the first step in directional changes, with more to come. “We have only been in place for two months,” Easterbrook said. “I’ve been very clear that my number one priority has been to address operational issues. These are the initial steps. There’s more to do and more to come.”
MatchPint data backs up success of Box Office boxing match for pubs: Boxing fans made almost half a million searches on MatchPint for venues showing the fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao in the small hours of Sunday morning. The fight, which was marketed as the "Fight of the Century" was available via Sky Sports Box Office. A total of 493,000 searches were made for pubs showing the fight on MatchPint's website and app, making it the most searched-for event on the platform since MatchPint launched in 2011. MatchPint co-founder Dom Collingwood said: "The interest in this fight far surpassed our expectations and the feedback from pubs that bought the fight has been overwhelmingly positive. Despite the 4am start time, many venues were fully booked weeks before the fight. Numbers were definitely boosted by features in the Independent, Mirror, and the Mail Online, but the clear message from us is that pubs and bars remain the best place to watch major sports events in the eyes of the public. And it's probably easier to stay awake in a bar than on your sofa."
ALMR funds advertising campaign for Pub and Bar Careers: The Perceptions Group's Pub and Bar Careers programme has received funding from the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers to run an advertising campaign promoting pub and bar careers. The online display campaign, which launched on Friday 1 May, is to run for a month on the websites of three national newspaper titles, the Daily Mail, the Daily Telegraph and the Guardian. The Pub and Bar Careers initiative aims to inform the public about the vast array of worthwhile and rewarding career paths that are available to young people, and to change the common perception that a career in the hospitality industry can only be short-term.

Company News:

Pret A Manger signs franchise deal to open in UAE: Pret A Manger has signed a deal to open the UAE with a franchise partnership with Emirates Leisure Retail. The first Pret outlet in the UAE will open later this year in the new Concourse D, Terminal 1 at Dubai International Airport. Pret A Manger currently operates 374 shops in the UK, United States, France, Hong Kong and Shanghai, and its expansion announcement comes as the company revealed 2014 group sales of £594m last week. Pret A Manger's chief executive, Clive Schlee, said: "The UAE is a brand new territory for us, and with Dubai International now the busiest international airport in the world, we believe the new shop will present an exciting opportunity for Pret. Our airside shop, with its large on-site kitchen, will offer the best of Pret's menu to passengers as they transit through the terminal, or stay and enjoy our comfortable seating area between flights. We've worked hard to source the best quality ingredients for our new menu, and look forward to hearing what customers think when we open later this year."
Two MasterChef finalist launch crowdfunding for Asian takeaway brand Hokkei: Two MasterChef finalists have launched a crowdfunding drive on Seedrs, looking to raise £275,000 in return for 25% of the equity in their takeaway concept, Hokkei, which "flips the traditional Chinese takeaway on its head". The business was set up by Dale Will and Larkin Cen, who opened the doors to their first site in Cardiff in November 2014. So far, £141,020 has been pledged by investors. The company has a pre-money valuation of £825,000. The pitch says: “Hokkei is a modernised and reinvented Asian takeaway with the potential of growing into more than one site through business improvement and product innovation. We found that the market is dominated by independent, family-owned Chinese takeaways and we believe this is largely down to the skill factor required, usually retained by the site's proprietor. From an original idea early in 2013 Hokkei was tested as a concept in the five-star Celtic Manor resort, fully booked for its sellout four-day pop-up. Another successful pop-up followed, and, a BBC TV series was commissioned to follow the story of taking the business from an idea to a trading business – it aired on BBC Wales last month. From a standing start, the business has turned over more than £150,000 in three months, trading with a limited menu and a soft launch, averaging a product GM of 60%. Now fully operational, the business is gearing up to propel forward, taking into account all of the lessons of the first three months' trade.”

Former Whitbread chief executive take stake in kitchen waste company: The former Whitbread chief executive Alan Parker has invested in the tech start-up Winnow, which helps commercial kitchens reduce waste. Parker has taken a minority stake in the company, joining its board. He said: “I’ve been in the hospitality industry all my life and food waste has been a continual and systemic issue. We now have the opportunity to save customers money, reduce waste and make the planet a nicer, greener place, so it’s win, win, win.” Winnow has created a system that weighs food waste bins, recording what items are binned and why, to help restaurants and hotels to order and prepare produce more effectively, and stop using foods that are repeatedly left uneaten by consumers.
Faucet Inn boss – first Kupp site exceeding expectations: Faucet Inn's managing director, Steve Cox, has reported that the first opening for the company's Scandinavian-influenced cafe brand Kupp, in Paddington Basin, West London, is exceeding expectations. The concept, which occupies 5,500 sq ft, opened at the end of March after an £800,000 investment. Cox told Propel: “It's out-performing expectations currently – we are very pleased with recruitments made, customer feedback and ultimately covers turned and revenue performance.” Kupp serves artisan drinks and a strong coffee offer with a grab-and-go-element and a freshly prepared menu with dishes inspired by Scandinavian classics.
Wrap it Up proves runaway crowdfunding success: Wrap it Up, which was founded in 2006 by Tayub Mushtaq and aims to become the "Subway of wraps", has turned into a runaway crowdfunding success on Crowdcube. It has so far raised £629,390, mor5e than one and a half times its original £400,000 target, with 433 investors putting up money, and fundraising still has ten days left. The company forecasts turnover of £5.94m in the year to December 2017 and Ebitda of £781,000. It turned over £3.1m last year. Its exit strategy is via either a trade sale or a stock market listing in around five years.
Mezze re-launches 'challenging' White Lion site in Portishead: Mezze Restaurants, the West Country operator led by Alex Tryfonos, has relaunched its site in Portishead, Somerset, the White Lion, after a £125,000 investment. The site first opened in 2013 and was Enterprise Inns' largest single capex investment that year, involving £600,000. A new Carte D’Or ice-cream parlour and a refurbished terrace have been created, as well as a VIP entrance to its revamped upper-level restaurant. The ground floor has been refitted and rebranded as the Lazy Lion bar and cocktail lounge. Tryfonos said: “Mezze has a great track record for cleaning up and transforming pubs across the West Country. However, Portishead has proved slightly more challenging than others. We underestimated the level of growth and development taking place in Portishead and so to meet popular demand we have transformed downstairs into a high-end cocktail bar to run alongside our already successful Mezze food venue.” Meanwhile Mezze is close to securing a date for its refurbishment of Campbells Landing in Clevedon, Somerset into a boutique hotel and restaurant.
Pub operator Castle Group opens wine bar: The pub operator Castle Group has branched out and opened a wine bar called Palate in the Chorlton area of Manchester. It offers a winelist with more than 60 bottles, draught beers and Prosecco on tap. Owners Jonny Booth and Jamie Langrish have devised a menu with platters of charcuterie from Cannon and Cannon, cheeses from Neals Yard, sandwiches, salads, bar snacks, desserts and a hot menu with dishes such as mussels, pig cheeks and English white onion soup. All furniture is hand-built from repurposed pallet wood, light fittings are made from recycled cardboard, and wine glasses are suspended from rakes beside each table. The Castle Group's other bars and restaurants include the Parlour in Chorlton, Gullivers and the Castle Hotel in Manchester's Northern Quarter, The Eagle Inn in Salford, and the Baker's Vaults in Stockport.

BrewDog confirms Brighton site acquisition: BrewDog has confirmed its has acquired the former Blind Tiger site in Brighton. The property, which has been closed for some time, is on a prominent site close to the University of Brighton Faculty of Arts and the proposed Circus Street development, which lies behind it. Kate Dowd of the letting agent Fleurets, said: “With the lack of sites coming to the market in the city, particularly leaseholds that are free of tie, we are extremely pleased to have secured this site for BrewDog.” Stephen Hogan of BrewDog said: “We are hugely excited to finally acquire a Brighton venue, as we have been looking here for some time. Brighton’s cool independent vibe, along with a growing craft beer scene, makes it an incredible place for us to open a new bar.”
Mothership Group to re-open Brighton nightclub on 14 May: Mothership Group will re-open Brighton’s former Audio nightclub as Patterns on 14 May, with a food menu by Brighton’s Street Diner in the upstairs bar and terrace. Heather Pistor, creative director for Mothership Group, told the Brighton Argus: “We're excited to have taken on such a well-respected Brighton music venue. The dream is to create a thriving social hub for drinking, dancing, eating, hanging out with friends, but most of all a place for forward-thinking music. Local promoters and artists will sit side-by-side with national promoters and headline acts, producing what we believe to be an innovative programme of club nights to rival the top clubs across the country.”

Ground Espresso to expand Next partnership at three more stores: The 13-strong Irish coffee chain Ground Espresso is to expand its partnership with the clothing retailer Next, with three new stores in Next stores at Bloomfield Shopping Centre, Bangor, Lisnagelvin Retail Park, Co Derry and Enniskillen. The company said: "We are also delighted to be expanding our partnership with Next and these new concessions will see Ground feature in six of Next’s department stores before the end of 2015, with exciting plans in the pipeline to partner with Next on a considerable number of new sites as well.” Ground Espresso Bars was established in 2001 in Coleraine.

Alton Towers to create 40 jobs with new 163-seat restaurant: Alton Towers wants to open a new 163-seat restaurant to refresh its offer creating 40 jobs. It is looking to transform an existing shop next to the Air rollercoaster into a 163-seat themed diner. The resort hopes to start work in November when the resort closes, before opening the following May. An application produced on behalf of Merlin Attractions Operations says: "Alton Towers is the UK's most popular and largest theme park, making it an important generator for tourism. The resort is also a major employer offering a range of permanent and seasonal contracts. To continue to attract visitors and meet their diverse demands Alton Towers must continuously refresh its facilities, including enhancing existing buildings and facilities on site."

Cream tea concept Creams expands into Leeds: Creams, the upmarket cream tea concept founded in Huddersfield is to expand into Leeds, opening on Saturday, 16 May. The brand will open in the Core shopping centre, just off The Headrow. The Core is currently undergoing a £2.4m facelift to try to boost it from a forgotten site into something more modern and vibrant. The venue will have four chandeliers and live music from classical pianists. Creams has set up a "royal carriage" selling cakes and coffee inside the shopping centre to offer shoppers a taste of what is to come. The pop-up will move to Lands Lane, one of the busiest shopping streets in Leeds city centre.

Peel Hunt issues 'Buy' note on Domino’s Pizza Poland after positive AGM statement: Peel Hunt's leisure analyst Nick Batram has issued a 'Buy' note on Domino’s Pizza Poland, with a price target for its shares of 35p, after a positive AGM statement. He said: “The positive momentum that began to come through strongly in Q4 2014 has been maintained into 2015. LFL system sales (PLN) rose 17% in Q1 (year on year), representing the 10th consecutive quarter of LFL sales growth. Even more encouraging was the 29% increase in LFL gross profit – driven by some significant improvements in buying and robust pricing. LFL volume growth was 16%. The positive progress delivered in H2 last year has continued into Q1, with a particularly impressive acceleration in LFL gross profit. There is still much to be done but it looks increasingly likely that DPP will succeed in building a sizable national footprint. With a market cap of just £18m, the upside is substantial if the group delivers as we expect it to. 2014 looked as though it was a point of inflection for the business and the performance in Q1 appears to confirm this. There is still much to be done but we are increasingly confident that Domino’s Pizza (DPP) will succeed in building a sizable national footprint. Buy.”
Hermes says Shake Shack and Five Guys interested in proposed Newcastle restaurant site: Hermes Real Estate has applied to Newcastle Council to turn what is currently an opticians on the corner of Northumberland Street and New Bridge Street in Newcastle upon Tyne into a two-storey restaurant. The company claims in planning documents that it already has interest in the site from Shake Shack and Five Guys. Surveying executive Heather Muddiman said in the company’s application: “It is proposed to change the ground floor and first floor use of two to four Northumberland Street from use class A1 shops to use class A3 food and drink.” It is intended that a new occupier for the unit be identified before Vision Express vacates.

Soho House rumoured to be eyeing third LA site: Soho House, which recently announced a second location in Los Angeles, is rumoured to be eyeing a third location in the city, Arts District. The third suggested location is inside the former Nikita Malibu, according to the Hollywood Reporter. A Soho House spokesperson told the newspaper: "We are always being shown new buildings ... this is just still a rumour. No deals have been signed."

Pieminister to open tenth and biggest site next Monday:
The Bristol-based Pieminister chain will open its tenth and latest site next Monday (11 May) in Leeds. The outlet is in the former Oxfam shop on Duncan Street, opposite the Corn Exchange. Co-founder Jon Simon told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “It has been far and away our most ambitious. This restaurant is three times bigger than anything we have done before, and it’s certainly been three times more expensive The others are small coffee shop types but this is a whole different experience, moving into the fast, casual dining territory ... with cocktails!” The restaurant is over two floors and includes a quirky indoor "shed" dining area. It will serve 15 different pies as well as hot pots, salads and ice cream pies. The drinks menu includes classic cocktails, sours and specials, wine, Prosecco and a comprehensive ale, lager and cider list.
Rick Stein opens Newquay ‘surf food’ restaurant: The chef-entrepreneur Rick Stein has opened a new restaurant at Fistral Beach in Newquay. The restaurant specialises in curries and dishes inspired by Stein's travels in India and the Far East, as well as traditional fish and chips. He told Newquay Voice: “We have been interested in opening a restaurant at Fistral for a long time because it is such a special beach. It seemed to me and the whole team that good-quality fish and chips on the beach would work really well. Newquay is a fun place to be, and we’re thrilled to finally be here. The restaurant will offer the sort of food I would want after coming out from a surf. As well as the traditional fish and chips, we’ve got curries and flavours from the Far East.”

Fuller’s runs free pint for tweet campaign: The London brewer and pub operator Fuller Smith & Turner is building on the success of its recent #EmptyPint promotion with #TweetAt12. Drinkers are invited to take part in what the brewery is calling "London’s biggest quality taste" test by tweeting the hashtag #TweetAt12 to @London_Pride from 12 noon until 12.12 daily. All valid entries will receive a code to redeem at a Fuller’s pub for a pint of London Pride, which can be used before midnight the following day. Fuller's head of marketing, Jane Jones, said: “We taste beer at the brewery every day to ensure its high quality is maintained. We wanted to give our loyal followers the chance of joining in those tasting sessions in whichever Fuller’s pub they’re in. To that end, as well as the code for a pint at the pub, tweeters will receive a short video on the best way to taste beer. The #EmptyPint Twitter activity generated a lot of noise and showed real resonance with our fans. We expect to see a similar response to #TweetAt12 – and we can’t wait to see just how many quality taste checks happen throughout London every day.” The promotion will run initially for a two-week period up to 17 May and is supported by above-the-line advertising in the London area.

Wild food brothers to go on tour with pop-ups: Richard and Oliver Gladwin, who operate the West London wild food restaurants Rabbit on the King’s Road, Chelsea and The Shed in Notting Hill, will take to the road this summer, with pop-ups serving foraged food to the rest of the country. Rabbit in The Shed will bring a taste of the countryside to music and food festivals. Rabbit in The Shed will pop up at festivals such as Wilderness, Latitude, Lovebox and Meatopia. The Gladwin brothers will kick off their summer tour with a dedicated pop-up on 28 May in partnership with the food writer and presenter William Sitwell in Northamptonshire.

PizzaExpress confirmed for First Street scheme: PizzaExpress and Sainsbury's have been confirmed as tenants of the £500m First Street scheme in Manchester, the first phase of which has been completed. The project has been delivered in partnership between Manchester Council and Ask Property Developments. Construction has been led by Carillion, with Wates Construction responsible for the creation of HOME, Manchester’s new contemporary theatre for film, art and theatre.
Admiral Taverns team raises more than £10,000 for Mind: A charity challenge that will see more than 50 Admiral team members scaling the UK’s highest mountain this summer has already raised more than £10,000. The Ben Nevis climb will see more than half of Admiral’s support centre team, including senior directors and a number of business development managers , make the ascent up Ben Nevis on 16 May. The fundraising climb is in aide of Mind, the mental health charity, and part of a wider, year-long campaign throughout 2015 called the Admiral Make a Difference Challenge, which encourages the pub group’s staff to raise money for good causes through active and demanding pursuits. Kevin Georgel, the company's chief executive, said: “As a business we were very keen to support Mind, as many people are affected by mental health issues at some point in their life, and the charity does fantastic work in addressing the stigmas that still exist around mental health, and provides amazing support and advice for people across the UK. We are so grateful to everyone who has supported us with a donation so far and would love to see if we can double the total before we set off later this month.”

Everyman Cinema set to open amid new restaurants at Canary Wharf’s Crossrail Development: An Everyman Cinema, occupying a 10,800 square foot space, is set to open within Canary Wharf’s Crossrail Place development on 15 May. The boutique cinema operator is to be located on the second lower level of the new development, where Crossrail is due to open in 2018. Everyman will sit alongside well-known brands including Psycle, Bespoke and Big Easy. Offering three screens in total, the cinema space will be comprised of two larger 105-seat screens and a more intimate 60-seat screen. In addition, a large bar and restaurant area is planned to accommodate around 60 people seated and 100 at capacity. Casey Phillips, acquisitions agent at Shelley Sandzer, said: “Historically, Canary Wharf has been extremely well sought-after as a leisure destination, due to its large density of office workers and high net worth corporate tenant mix. With impressive A3 and A4 operators such as The Big Easy, Breakfast Club and Sticks and Sushi forming part of the confirmed tenant line up, there is little doubt that the much anticipated Crossrail Place and its promenade will be extremely popular.”

Sainsbury’s to add hotels and flats at sites: Sainsbury’s is to add hotels and flats to its supermarkets in a bid to turn around a sales downturn. Excluding the one-off costs, sales profits were down by almost 15% to £681 million. Sainsbury’s now intends to add flats and hotels to some stores, while new supermarkets will be built alongside homes in partnership with house builders. The company believes it can raise £90 million by building 440 flats above a supermarket in Fulham and £60 million by building 750 flats near Battersea Power Station. It has a partnership with Land Securities in Wandsworth, London, which resulted in a store extension alongside a new Premier Inn. A store in Selly Oak, Birmingham, is being extended as part of a development that will include 400 student flats. These schemes could serve as a template for other sites owned by the supermarket around the country.

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