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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Fri 26th Jun 2015 - Update: GK, McDonald's, Turtle Bay, Arc Inspirations, Ossett
Greene King to decide where to base operations following Spirit takeover by end of August: Greene King chief executive Rooney Anand has reported a decision will be made as to whether to base its operations in Burton or Bury St Edmunds by the end of August following its takeover of Spirit Pub Company. Anand told the Burton Mail “all options” were being looked at following the £774m deal, which was completed on Tuesday. The merger leaves Greene King with a decision whether to base operations at Spirit’s head office in Burton or Greene King’s headquarters in Bury St Edmund’s. Anand said: “This is my second visit [to Spirit’s headquarters] and it has fabulous facilities. The team is very warm and there is a great feel about the place. We have to look hard whether to base it here or in Bury St Edmunds and we will make that decision by the end of August. The first people to know will be Spirit and Greene King employees. We will look at all options.” Anand said it was Spirit’s strong performance that attracted Greene King to the takeover, which took 10 months to complete. He added: “They have fantastic pubs, a rich history and fabulous brands – some which have been developed recently. Most importantly Spirit pubs were performing really strong and have a good reputation for pubs they have built. It fitted really strong with Greene King’s – in terms of geography and style. We can create a clear sector leader for pubs. Spirit has been through so much change. But (its performance) is testament to the team and its assets and quality of the business.” The acquisition of Spirit leaves Greene King with about 3,100 pubs, some 1,800 of them under direct management.

McDonald’s reports rise in juice and milk sales after change to advertising:
McDonald’s removal of carbonated drinks from the Happy Meal section of its menu boards in the US has resulted in an increase in milk and juice sales, the company has reported. The number of customers choosing milk or juice with Happy Meals has increased to 46%, compared with 37% before the menu board change, McDonald’s said. The percentage of customers choosing carbonated drinks with Happy Meals has dropped to 48%, compared with 56% before the menu board change. McDonald’s promotes only water, milk and juice as the beverage in Happy Meals and on menu boards and in-store and external advertising. The numbers come from a report issued by the company outlining its progress on five nutrition goals to increase customer access to fruits and vegetables and help families make informed choices. The goals were set in 2013, in partnership with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, created by the Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Association, in part to address growing criticism from nutrition advocates that the quick-service chain was contributing to an epidemic of obesity among children in particular. “We’re making progress in areas that matter most to our customers, business and society,” McDonald’s chief executive Steve Easterbrook said in a statement. “Our actions demonstrate the influence of our scale and the impact of our partnerships. We’ll continue to work with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation to offer more choices to our customers around the world.” McDonald’s pledged to make nutrition improvements in 20 major markets, including the US, with the goal of reaching all markets by 2020.

Arc Inspirations to invest £1.5m in third Banyan Bar & Kitchen: Arc Inspirations, the Leeds-based operator of bars and restaurants led by Martin Wolstencroft, is to invest £1.5m in opening its third Banyan Bar & Kitchen, this time located in Manchester’s new Corn Exchange development, the company’s first opening on the other side of the Pennines. The company will open a 10,000 sq ft site at the end of September, offering 150 covers inside, two private dining rooms and 140 external covers on Exchange Square – it will employ 70 staff. Wolstencroft told Propel: “This is our biggest challenge – our first site over the Pennines.” Arc Inspirations, celebrating its 15th birthday this year, operates 12 sites currently, trading in four segments of the market: student bars, The Pit, offering craft beer and "sticky" food, aspirational neighbourhood bars and Banyan Bar & Kitchen in Harrogate and York. Of current trading, Wolsencroft said: “We’ve really attacked it the last few years, opening five sites in three years and business is booming. But this it’s a very competitive marketplace with customers looking hard for their pound of flesh.”

Multi-site pub operators acquire fifth site: Multi-site pub operators Alastair Brown and Adam Bere have acquired their fifth site – the Anchor Hotel in Warminster, Wiltshire. The duo, who own four other venues in the West Country, has bought the grade II-listed former coaching inn for an undisclosed amount. The sale was handled by Christie + Co’s Bristol office director Nicholas Calfe, who said: “The Anchor has attracted continuous offers and interest since coming to the market with bids from a wide range of buyers, including private investors who were keen to convert the hotel into a restaurant or a retail unit. We also received interest from corporate pub operators attracted by the property’s high street location. Alastair and Adam are looking to dovetail their business to compliment their other existing operations and as a result The Anchor will now serve as a homely and individual pub providing a local hub for the community. I wish them all the best with their new venture.”

Ossett Brewery to launch third bar concept in Leeds: Ossett Brewery is set to launch its third bar concept in Leeds – a stone’s throw from its other venues. The company, which operates the Candle Bar and The Hop in the city, is opening Archie’s Bar & Kitchen at the former Wasabi Teppan-Yaki site at the end of August. The £350,000 spend takes the company’s investment in the Granary Wharf area of the city to over £1m. Archie’s, which takes its name of its location underneath the Dark Arches, will offer customers traditional food in a “laid back and contemporary setting”. One of its more unusual features will be its full-size 1974 VW campervan that will serve coffee and juice. There will also be a large bar and a separate dining area that can seat 100 diners, along with funfair mirrors and even a sailing boat. Archie’s, which has created 15 jobs, will serve a range of drinks including cask and craft keg ales. Operations director Sarah Lawson told the Yorkshire Evening Post it would have a “completely different vibe” from the company’s other two bars. She said: “The term that’s been coined is a ‘chameleon’ bar, with a morning and lunchtime trade for commuters and city-types and an evening trade for the Friday and Saturday night crowd and out-of-towners.” Managing director Jamie Lawson added: “Granary Wharf is already such an exciting location in Leeds which features some of the best hotels, bars and restaurants. The new Leeds Station south exit opens into the area in November making Granary Wharf even easier to access and creates a unique canal side location right in the heart of Leeds city centre.”

Turtle Bay targets Huddersfield site: Carribean restaurant Turtle Bay has lodged plans to open in Huddersfield. The company has applied to Kirklees Council to take over the site of the former Cotton Factory cocktail lounge and club in King Street. The proposal submitted by Fusion Design & Architecture on behalf of the company is to fit out a new bar and restaurant in the existing space “retaining the historically significant elements” of the grade II-listed building. The Cotton Factory had been a mainstay of Huddersfield’s pub and club scene but shut at the end of last year.

Bulldog Hotel Group invests in leaders of the future: Independent coaching inns operator the Bulldog Hotel Group has launched a training programme to find and fast-track future leaders of the hospitality industry. The award-winning Group, which recently announced plans for a £20m expansion across the UK and acquired its eighth hotel in April, has opened the training programme to staff from across the group in a bid to fast-track careers and train the industry leaders of the future. Bulldog Hotel Group managing director Kevin Charity said: “We pride ourselves on our staff retention levels and on the number of employees who have worked their way up with the business. However, as we grow we know that retention and development of our best employees becomes increasing important.Last year we launched a joint programme with CPL Training to offer courses tailored to individual staff members, with over 1,000 completed to date. This year we wanted to go one step further, finding those staff members who could be future industry leaders and offering them the opportunity to fast-track their careers.”The first three successful applicants for Bulldog’s fast-track programme are Dan Hollis from the Talbot Hotel in Oundle, Jenny Buckley from the Admiral Rodney Hotel in Horncastle and Emily Dawson from the White Hart Hotel in Boston. All three will also complete a Level 5 Diploma in Management and Leadership, through Intec Training. The fast-track programme will see staff undertake an intensive six months’ training, covering operations, food and beverage, conference and banqueting, along with learning skills in sales, personnel, finance and leadership.Group training manager Lee Melton added: “This year is very much a pilot scheme for what we intend to be an annual programme. Targeted initially at team members currently within in the Group, next year we will be opening the programme up to applicants outside of Bulldog.”

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