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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Tue 7th Jul 2015 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Casual Dining Group acquires Las Iguanas for circa £85m: The Casual Dining Group, led by Steve Richards and backed by Apollo Global Management has acquired 41-strong South American-themed restaurant group Las Iguanas in a deal valued at circa £85m. Richards said: “Las Iguanas is a proven, high-quality restaurant business that has been carefully developed over 25 years. It is clearly differentiated and is positioned for significant further growth. It fits perfectly with our strategy to create a scalable restaurant group comprising compelling brands, with broad appeal, which deliver industry-leading consumer and financial metrics.” The acquisition of Las Iguanas marks a further step in the rapid turnaround of CDG, which went through a restructuring last year that saw its debt cut from £258m to £91m. It also sold its Strada brand to focus on evolving Bella Italia and Cafe Rouge. In March, Richards revealed rapid progress on its plan to double profits from a platform of 200 “great leases in great locations”. Within the existing estate it plans to double profits and create 3,000 new jobs in a self-funded plan that will involve £140m of capital expenditure to refurbish 160 existing sites and add 70 to grow to 270 sites – and then look at doubling the size of the company to 500 venues. It is also looking at rolling-out its Belgian moules frites brand Belgo, which has been “very successful” over the years. The strategy for Bella Italia, which is led by Nick White, involves radical new design, repositioning “brown Bella” into “Bella blue”, moving it out of the crowded Italian and pizza market (“30% of its sales are pizza but it’s not an out-and-out pizza-based business”) and into the family-focused, traditionalists and teenagers-in-groups themed sector, alongside brands such as Frankie & Benny’s. Meanwhile, Café Rouge’s evolution project, which began ten months ago, is about “recapturing the past to some degree” than “re-positoning”, he said. “There is still a lot of customer affection for Café Rouge, especially among ladies who lunch but the décor and offer had become tired. It has some fantastic buildings and locations but there hasn’t been much investment over the past 25 years. It’s about taking it back to being hugely popular again with families and singletons. It’s about improving the food choice and the quality – and returning to the hero dishes and the Frenchness of it.” Richard also made clear in March that the future of CDG would involve a third brand. He said: “We have a vision to get to 500 units. It means Bella can get to 300 sites, international franchising will be important, we’re building a food development centre of excellence to build on our food credentials, bringing food experts into the business to ensure we never let that slip again. We will look at a third brand and acquiring different things.” CDG will open 30 restaurants over the next ten months, seven of which will be Las Iguanas venues. Mos Shamel, the CEO of Las Iguanas, will join the CDG board and will continue to lead and develop Las Iguanas. Shamel has worked at Las Iguanas for 12 years, in various roles, having joined when the business comprised just six sites. He said: “This is a great result for Las Iguanas, which is a hugely successful business, and I’m looking forward to the next stage of its development and growth as part of CDG.” Martin Robinson, chairman of CDG, added: “This is another significant step in delivering on our vision of creating the UK’s leading casual dining group. We are delighted to welcome Mos, who with founder Eren Ali, has developed an outstanding brand that is much loved by its customers.” CDG was advised by AlixPartners and Bowmark, by BDO.

Industry News:

CAMRA to meet with European Commissioner’s office to discuss proposed tax on cider producers: CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, will meet with the office of the European Commissioner Pierre Moscovici, responsible for taxation across Europe, today (Tuesday, 7 July) to discuss the impact of the EU’s request to remove a tax exemption for small cider producers, which could land them with a bill of up to £2,700 each year. The meeting was arranged with the support of MEPs Anneliese Dodds and Clare Moody and will be held in Strasbourg, France. CAMRA representatives, along with small cider producer Guy Smith, owner of Somerset Cider Company, will meet the Commissioner’s office to ask it to withdraw this request and to consider the impact the tax would have on the livelihoods of small producers across the UK. Smith said: “I run an established vineyard but am now looking at restoring our historic orchard. The legal change would make the restoration unprofitable without the tax breaks, and our business wouldn’t be able to grow. The personal and environmental impact will be huge, so I look forward to meeting with the Commissioner’s office to explain how this issue has a real impact on people’s livelihoods.”

SIBA launches Export Club for members: The Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) has launched a new Export Club to help its members export their beer across the world. The club aims to open more doors for independent breweries to sell the “best beer in the world” outside the UK. SIBA, which represents more than 800 independent breweries, is offering them five different streams of export support: Information Conduit – SIBA will offer introductory advice and guidance and work closely with the UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) on a variety of export activities; Administrative support for brewers – SIBA is able to provide members with UK-based administrative support including Excise Movement and Control System management for their individual export opportunities; Cooperative Export Sales Agency – SIBA is able to purchase any beer brand from member brewers and sell to export customers on a commercial basis, giving export customers a one-stop shop. SIBA is not seeking to replace existing UK-based exporting sales companies, but to provide initial or additional commercial opportunities. SIBA will seek beer brands and brewers’ prices, make offers to potential customers, collate delivery to one UK depot, administer export logistics and receive all monies; SIBA is prepared to co-ordinate the administration of export missions/events whereby specific SIBA members will be attending and marketing their own beer brands; Generic exhibition stands – SIBA will participate in UKTI export missions, with SIBA representatives attending foreign embassies and events. SIBA will promote generically British beer, by exhibiting selected brands from Export Club members.

New York restaurant pays waiting staff $500,000 ‘service charge’ it kept: An upmarket New York City restaurant has settled a complaint that it added a 20% charge for banquets and failed to pass on the extra money to waiting staff. A $500,000 settlement covers the period from January 2011 through to September 2012. State attorney general Eric Schneiderman reported that Per Se added a 20% service charge for private banquets. Schneiderman said the surcharge should’ve been paid to waiting staff. But, he reported, Per Se funnelled the money back to restaurant operations instead. Per Se said the violation was an unintentional oversight. The restaurant’s owners say they updated its private dining contract in September 2012 and have been in compliance since then.

Serviced apartments gain higher profile but will continue to grow: Serviced apartments have gained momentum across Europe as new openings, branding activity and a number of significant transactions have raised awareness of the sector among guests, investors, lenders and developers, according to a new report from global hotel consultancy HVS London, a leading expert on the sector. Speaking at this week’s Serviced Apartment Summit [7-8 July], report author and HVS director Arlett Oehmichen said that while this fast-growing market has become more high profile, moving from being a niche offer towards the mainstream, its rapid and continued growth means serviced apartments are still evolving. “Looking to the future we are likely to see continued changes in the offer and differences emerging between leading brands,” she said. “The next generation of serviced apartments is likely to focus on better use of technology, more efficient use of space and a tendency towards smaller units. We have already seen this with Zoku, the new brand from HotelsAhead, which claims to be a home-office hybrid targeting so-called ‘bleisure’ travellers.”

Meantime launches brewing masterclasses: Meantime Brewing Company has launched “The Knowledge”, a series of public masterclasses aimed at offering anyone who wants to learn more about beer and brewing the chance to gain an insight into the world of modern craft beer. The classes will be hosted and have been devised by Meantime’s master brewer Alastair Hook and Beer Sommelier of the Year Rod Jones. Hook said: “Meantime has been at the forefront of the modern-craft movement in the UK since we commenced brewing in early 2000 – leading the way in brewing innovation and quality. Now, 15 years on, we are one of the oldest and biggest craft brewers in the country and have spent a huge amount of time perfecting our knowledge of how to brew great beer.”

Gordon Ramsay ranked by Forbes magazine as world’s richest celebrity chef: Chef Gordon Ramsay has been ranked by Forbes magazine as the world’s richest chef – he is ranked 21st on the current Forbes Celebrity 100 list. He has estimated annual earnings of $60m according to the business publication, sharing his position with musician Sean Combs and radio and television host Ryan Seacrest. Ramsay reportedly makes more than $400,000 per episode of Hell’s Kitchen for being the shows’ host and producer as the same time, Forbes said. Of his restaurants business, Forbes said: “Those restaurants generate $150m in revenue, a 270% increase from five years earlier, including new outposts in Asia, the Middle East and Atlantic City.” Ramsay now enjoys his spot on the Forbes list as the world’s richest celebrity chef.

Company News:

Bakery experts to launch new licensed bakery cafe concept in Bristol: Bakery experts Steven Whibley and Troels Bendix are to launch a new licensed bakery cafe concept in Bristol. Whibley, who was previously managing director of cafe bakery chain Gail’s Bakery and Le Pain Quotdien, and his business partner Bendix, who founded Hungry Guest and Breads Etcetera, are set to open Pinkmans in October. The duo has secured a prime restaurant site in Park Street that was formerly home to Café Rouge and Flavour Sensation. Pinkmans is a fully licensed bakery cafe, serving breads, pizza, coffee and cakes for takeout, as well as eating in, throughout the daytime and evening. Whibley said: “We are delighted to be opening Pinkmans here in beautiful Bristol and are very much looking forward to becoming part of the great quality food and baking scene that is burgeoning here and in the south west. Great bread is not about nostalgia and yesterday, it is a food for now and for the future – and we intend to have a lot of fun making, baking and serving it here.” Agent Fleurets acted on behalf of the vendor while Pinkmans was represented by Clear River. “The Pinkmans concept is the ideal addition to Bristol’s rich leisure scene, a city which continues to attract innovative, independent brands, in addition to more recognised names, which is creating significant competition for high footfall locations,” said Kevin Conibear from Fleurets. “The property was under offer within days of going to the market, further highlighting Bristol’s popularity and demand for the city.”

JD Wetherspoon sells Surbiton pub to Isle of Man-based company: JD Wetherspoon has sold The Cap in Hand pub, off the Ace of Spades roundabout in Surbiton, to an Isle of Man-registered company linked to pub acquisitions around London. The JD Wetherspoon pub, formerly the Southborough Arms, is due to close on 28 August. Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon said: “We can confirm The Cap in Hand has been sold, with the deal completing on 4 September. The pub has been sold to Mendoza Limited. The Cap in Hand will remain open until a week before the completion date. All staff working at the pub will be relocated to nearby Wetherspoon pubs. We appreciate the pub customers will be disappointed, however Wetherspoon has made a commercial decision to sell the pub. We would like to thank them for their loyal custom since the pub opened in 1998.” Mendoza has overseen a number of pub acquisitions, including some closures, across the capital in recent years. Two8Six in Lewisham and The Peacock in Battersea have closed.

Punch Taverns lines up sixth conversion to Champs sports bar format: Punch Taverns is lining up its sixth conversion to its Champs sports bar format. The Railway pub in Ainsdale, near Southport, is set for a £350,000 relaunch as a sports bar and grill this summer. A spokesman for Punch Taverns told “The Railway is currently closed for a £350,000 investment which will see the pub transformed into a Champs Sports Bar and Grill. We hope to have the new look Railway reopened for the August Bank Holiday.” The new-look pub will offer a US-style menu, serving chicken wings, ribs, hot dogs and steaks. It also features an outdoor drinking terrace.

Supermac steps up battle with McDonald’s to have company name registered in Europe: Irish restaurant chain Supermac has stepped up its battle with McDonald’s to have its company name registered across Europe after managing director Pat McDonagh personally handed in a submission to the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (OHIM). The company operates over 100 venues serving chicken and burgers in Ireland and McDonagh said it has requests to open in 15 cities in Europe. Its plans have been met with opposition from McDonald’s, which earlier this year lodging a 41-page objection to the OHIM, which oversees trademarks and designs, because it “takes unfair advantage of the distinctive character and repute” of McDonald’s earlier-won trademarks. McDonagh has responded by personally delivering Supermac’s submission to the OHIM headquarters in Alicante in Spain, reports the Irish Times. He said: “I am optimistic that common sense will prevail. Supermac’s has traded successfully alongside McDonald’s in Ireland and Northern Ireland for over 30 years and I don’t believe this could be any different in other countries.” McDonagh based the name of his business, which he set up in 1978, on his nickname from his schooldays when he became known as “Supermac” in deference to the Newcastle United and England footballer Malcolm MacDonald.

Chipotle to open seventh UK site tomorrow: Chipotle Mexican Grill is set to open its seventh restaurant in London – and its first in The City – at 49 London Wall tomorrow (Wednesday, 8 July). Chipotle opened its first restaurant outside North America, at Charing Cross Road, back in 2010. Jerome Tafani, executive director of European business development for Chipotle, said: “We are delighted to open our first Chipotle restaurant in The City, an area where we feel customers will respond very positively to what we are doing. We are changing the way people think about and eat fast food, and we think that is a commitment that really resonates with people in London.”

CPL Training buys Abv Training: CPL Training has bought a Staffordshire hospitality training company for an undisclosed sum. The purchase of Abv Training is expected to bolster CPL’s portfolio of e-learning products. The business will become a wholly owned subsidiary of the group, while its brand name and staff will be retained. It is the first deal that Merseyside-based CPL has made since it revealed it would strengthen its market share through acquisitions. CPL chief executive Daniel Davies said: “As a competitor of CPL Training Group, we have watched Abv Training with interest over the years. The company has established a strong brand over the last decade, building a talented pool of training staff. This acquisition is an excellent fit for CPL Training and we look forward to welcoming the team from Abv and continuing the legacy of its founders by delivering excellence in training across the hospitality sector.” Abv Training founder Cathryn Hawbrook added: “This move represents the next stage in the development of Abv Training and I am delighted that the Abv brand will continue to lead the way in delivering exceptional service within the field of hospitality training.” Hawbrook formed Abv Training in 2001 with late husband David.

Grind hits crowdfunding £750,000 mini-bond target: Coffee shop cum cocktail bar brand Grind, which launched a £1.5 mini-bond on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube last month, hit its £750,000 target yesterday (Monday, 6 July) with the money raised from 243 investors. Grind, founded four years ago by Australian DJ and musician Kaz James and entrepreneur David Abrahamovitch, is raising the funds to open a sixth site as well as a new roastery and central kitchen in east London. The company has four sites, which also double up as cocktail bars, located in Shoreditch, Holborn, Soho and London Bridge, with a fifth site set to open in Covent Garden later this summer. Grind, which counts Links of London founder John Ayton among its backers, said the four-year bond will pay an annual interest rate of 8% every quarter.

Old Mill Brewery to sell three more pubs: East Yorkshire brewer and retailer Old Mill Brewery, based in Snaith, is to sell three of its 18 pubs. The venues are The Riveter pub in Henderson Avenue, Scunthorpe, which is on sale for £150,000. It was the first pub to be opened in 1986 by the company following a £250,000 conversion of the former Park Social Club. It is up for sale along with the Rutland Arms, Grimsby, (for £160,000) and the Station Inn, Hull (for £145,000). Last month, Old Mill sold The Kingfisher in Rotherham for an undisclosed sum.

Michelin-starred chef to open own restaurant: Head chef of Michelin-starred Simpsons in Birmingham, Matt Cheal, is leaving the restaurant to launch his own venture. After spending the last 16 years at Simpsons in Edgbaston, he is to open a new fine dining restaurant in Henley-in-Arden. Cheal is taking over the High Street building that formerly housed Edmunds restaurant, where Andy Waters (himself a former Simpsons chef) won a Michelin star. He said: “It’s always been my dream. I want a successful business – that’s the most important thing – and of course a Michelin star would help with that. I’ve been working in a Michelin star restaurant for the last 16 years and I’ve eaten in most of the Michelin star restaurants in the country. It’s definitely something I want to aim for.” The new restaurant is a joint venture with his father Tony. The pair plan a complete refurbishment before opening as Cheal’s of Henley in September offering “fine dining in a relaxed and informal setting”.

Bath Ales’ parent company reports return to profit: Bath Ales’ parent company Hare It House has reported a return to profits and an increase in revenue of almost £5m. In the latest accounts for Hare It House Holdings, covering the year to 31 August 2014, the company posted a pre-tax profit of £77,300 compared with a pre-tax loss of £27,302 in 2013. During the period, turnover grew to £14.6m, from £9.8m the year before. The directors said the pub operation had “again experienced an improvement on the volume of meals served”. In the report accompanying the results, the directors said: “Another challenging year for the brewing industry has seen Bath Ales grow barrelage once more. Although cask ale sales remain strong it is growth in keg beer products and bottled beers that has led the growth, notably Gem in keg and Dark Side Stout. Plans are well advanced to attempt to consolidate brewing and packaging into Hare House and to that affect we are reviewing our options. There is an expectation that we can build a new brewhouse, upgrade the bottling and add extra capacity to kegging as well as exploring other avenues of current packaging trends.”

Nando’s concludes two-year planning battle by opening in Headingley: Nando’s has concluded a two-year planning battle by opening its doors in Headingley in a venue which had previously proved controversial with some local residents. In 2013, campaigners had fought against the restaurant chain’s bid to open a branch at St Michael’s Court, in the same building as Headingley Medical Centre. Councillors and residents had voiced fears over parking and traffic, as well as litter and noise. But this week, Nando’s officially opened its new restaurant, which boasts an extension and an outdoor seating area. The company is understood to have invested £1m in the branch, which has also created 30 jobs.

Pieminister produces list of target cities after Leeds opening: Pieminister has produced a list of target cities following the success of its latest restaurant in Leeds city centre. The new unit at 15/17 Duncan Street – the Bristol-based business’s 10th outlet – opened in April and now new sites are being sought in Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham, Brighton, Cambridge, Bath as well as further locations in London. Stuart Williams of property agents Williams Gunter Hardwick is leading the hunt for the new sites. He said: “The Leeds location has certainly demonstrated that there’s a real appetite for the company’s gourmet take on pies. Now we want to build on that success in other major cities – typically in lively bar and casual dining areas.” Pieminister is looking to triple its current chain size up to 30 restaurants by 2020.

Casual Dining Group’s Bella Italia brand invests £200,000 in HR tools: Casual Dining Group’s Bella Italia brand has invested £200,000 in its HR and recruitment tools to ensure it further improves the management of its staff, as they apply and then throughout their career. This has included the launch of an applicant tracking system, a learning management platform and talent management tools. Those aspiring to work for Bella Italia can now visit a dedicated, stand-alone recruitment website, which details the roles available as well as giving an insight into the company, its ethos and working life. Applicants can also “meet” actual team members, and watch videos that give a real sense of the brand’s personality. Managers at Bella Italia restaurants can now control their own recruitment requirements using the applicant tracking system, posting vacancies that are instantly advertised on key job sites, and monitor candidates as and when they apply. Furthermore, the platform allows those at the Bella Italia support centre to build talent banks and proactively match people to jobs as they are created. Bella Italia has also partnered with CPL Training to launch a new learning management system that drives skills and engagement by providing employees with a training and development plan that they can access at any point throughout their time with the company.

Tossed founder – it’s exciting to invite customers to become shareholders: The founder of 24-strong salad concept Tossed, Vincent Mckevitt, has spoken of his excitement about giving customers the chance to become shareholders through its current £750,000 crowdfunding campaign on the Seedrs platform. He said: “There is something very exciting about inviting existing guests, and guests of the future, to actually be part of our growth story. We believe there is a place for a healthy food operator amongst the big players in the food industry, and that Tossed should be that challenger brand. By increasing store numbers, we will reach a wider market and offer a healthy choice to more people. We’d love for you to be a part of that journey.” Rod McKie, chief executive of Welcome Break, which operates Tossed in six motorway service stations, added: “Tossed was the missing piece of our jigsaw, to have a really great brand that delivers healthy fresh food. Bearing in mind we have an 80m footfall, a lot more people are going to get to know about it.”

‘Ethical’ coffee house, bakery and deli Manhattan Coffee Club to launch in Reading: Manhattan Coffee Club, an independent “ethical” coffee house, bakery and deli, is set to launch its first venue in Reading, Berkshire, tomorrow (Wednesday, 8 July). The company will open the shop in the upper mall of The Oracle shopping centre that aims to send customers to New York in the early 20th century with its industrial steel tables and chairs and reclaimed wood counters. Gary Barnett, one of the owners, told Get Reading it has teamed up with Kingdom Coffee, Toybox, Latin Link and Tearfund “to provide drinks with a conscience”. He said: “Our ethical coffee ensures that, with the assistance of our charitable partners, funds are made available to those who live within the vicinity of the coffee growing regions and not just the producers.” Manhattan Coffee Club will be serving freshly baked pastries from 9.30am through to 11am each morning followed by sandwiches and superbowl salads. 

Punch Taverns to reopen former Marco Pierre White pub in September following £300,000 revamp: Punch Taverns will reopen a pub that was formerly run by Marco Pierre White in September following a £300,000 refurbishment. The company had expected to reopen The Pear Tree in Whitley, Wiltshire, in May having said in February it was in “advance stages of negotiations”. However, a Punch spokesman said the reopening has been postponed until September and added: “Whilst negotiations with interested parties took longer than expected, a £300,000 investment will commence at the Pear Tree on 10 August. We anticipate the works will be concluded and the new look Pear Tree will reopen by the end of September bringing the pub back to the heart of the community.” The Pear Tree has been closed since Pierre White shut the venue last September having run it as a gastro-pub from August 2011. The pub has also been made a community asset by Wiltshire Council after Melksham Without Parish Council applied for it to have the status earlier this year.

Prezzo opens new restaurant in Rickmansworth: Prezzo has opened a new restaurant in Rickmansworth in Hertfordshire, creating 20 jobs. The company has spent £750,000 on the venue in the High Street that has replaced pizzeria Remo’s Piazzo, which left the town after 34 years. Prezzo has taken a 25-year lease on the building from a private landlord for the 3,700 sq ft site, which spans the ground and first floor, having paid a premium to obtain the site.

Peyton and Byrne renews National Gallery contract worth £36m: Restaurant and cafe operator Peyton and Byrne has extended its contract with the National Gallery for an additional eight years, for an estimated value of £36m. Peyton and Byrne will continue to provide catering across The National Gallery’s two restaurants The National Dining Rooms and The National Café as well as two cafes and a private dining room. Peyton and Byrne has held the contract for nine years during which time it has won several awards for its innovative approach to public catering services at the gallery. The company plans to redesign and develop new concepts for The National Café and self-service areas in the next year. Future years will see the company work with the National Gallery to develop and invest in other space. Chief executive Siobhan Peyton said: “We are delighted to continue providing quality catering at the fourth most visited art museum in the world. Peyton and Byrne’s strategy to significantly invest in our people and strengthen the management team has led to several new contract extensions with The National Gallery being our crowning jewel. We plan to continue enhancing and building upon our successes going forwards.” Douglas Gilmore, trading director of National Gallery, said: “We have ambitious plans to enhance the public catering offer at The National Gallery and believe our well established relationship with Peyton and Byrne, who understand our visitor requirements, will be a significant factor in helping us realise these plans.” Oliver Peyton, founder of Peyton and Byrne added: “The National Gallery is one of the greatest museums in the world and it is critical that the dining experience is world class too. Following nine years’ experience, Peyton and Byrne is perfectly placed to continue enhancing the service and food standards at this iconic venue and as such we have big plans to evolve the current restaurant and cafe concepts. London is the greatest city in the world with one of the best culinary scenes, which inspires our creativity and innovations. We intend to lead by example and keep ahead of the competition with our originality and focus on quality and exceptional provenance.”

Douglas Jack issues ‘Buy’ note on Revolution Bars Group: Numis Securities leisure analyst Douglas Jack has issued a ‘Buy’ note on Revolution Bar Group, with a target price of 265p, after yesterday’s (Monday, 6 July) full-year trading update. He noted “strong trading” and that expansion is “revving up”. He said: “Over the year to June 2015, like-for-like sales rose by 3%, the highest rate for any quoted licensed retailer with a national presence, ahead of a 1% increase for the Coffer Peach Tracker’s pub constituents over the same period. We are holding our forecasts, ahead of September’s results. Like-for-like sales rose 3% in 2015 against a comparable of 3%, aided by growing demand for food, cocktails, wine and spirits. Between June 2013 and December 2014, Revolution like-for-like drink sales rose by 2%, with food like-for-like sales up double-digits. There is no reason to assume much change in these trends in 2015E. We are retaining our full year forecast of 13% profit before tax growth, anticipating margins growing by 60bps in half two as well as half one. We expect gross margins (up 60bps in half one) to have risen despite food sales growth outpacing drink sales growth. The most likely possible area for margins to exceed expectations is in property costs, in our view. The company has traditionally over-provided for property costs in half one, and then negotiated better than expected terms on review. In addition, we believe there is scope for the depreciation charge rate to gradually fall from 5.5% of sales, the highest rate in the sector. The company should now resume expansion. Our forecasts assume the opening of one large and two standard Revolución de Cuba bars in 2016E. The Revolución de Cuba brand is currently generating an average cash return of 54%, so any progress exceeding this target could be material. To this end, Revolution is making ‘significant progress’ in developing a new site pipeline, and should make ‘some exciting new bar openings before Christmas’. We are holding our forecasts which anticipate 46% self-financed profit before tax growth over the three years to June 2017, based on cautious assumptions of slowing Like-for-like sales, gross margins no longer growing, and expansion including just one large opening pa. The company’s EV/Ebitdar (8.0x) and EV/Ebitda (6.3x) are the lowest in the licensed retail sector, even though its lease-adjusted Cash return on cash is the highest.”

Bank set for shortfall over hotel group administration: Bank AIB Group (UK) is set for a “multi-million” pounds shortfall on its £36m lending to Prima Hotels, administrators Alix Partners has reported. The company, which operates The Stanneylands Hotel in Wilmslow, Nunsmere Hall Hotel in Northwich, The Quorn Country Hotel in Leicestershire and Hellaby Hall Hotel in Rotherham, went into administration in May. A further appointment was made over the Royal Terrace Hotel in Edinburgh. Meanwhile Prima Hotels owes £2.2m to unsecured creditors. None of the unsecured creditors are expected to receive any money following the administration. AlixPartners has engaged Legacy Hotels & Resorts to operate the hotels. The administrators reported that all bookings have been fulfilled and future bookings will continue to be honoured as they seek buyers for the hotels. The administrators said: “The value of the hotels will be maximised by selling them as operating hotels, rather than vacant properties. The administrators’ strategy is therefore to trade the hotels with a view to formally commencing marketing in early to mid-September 2015 to sell the hotels as going concerns.”

Propel hosts Professor Chris Muller for Multi-site Management Masterclass: Propel Info is hosting the US’ leading thinker, teacher and author on multi-site foodservice management, Professor Chris Muller, at its next Multi-site Management Masterclass on Friday 2 October. Leading UK businesses such as Mitchells & Butlers and TGI Friday’s have sent staff to be taught by Professor Muller at Boston University’s School of Hospitality – now Professor Muller is returning to the UK to lead this bespoke day. His interactive seminar will include contributions from Welcome Break chief executive Rod McKie and Sticks ‘n’ Sushi UK managing director Andreas Karlsson. The event will provide valuable insights for founders and area managers of small and medium-sized multi-site companies and area managers of large companies. Tickets are £345 plus VAT and £295 plus VAT for ALMR members. To download or view the leaflet as a PDF file please CLICK HERE. To book tickets please contact: Tony Hughes, non-executive director at The Restaurant Group, said: “Chris is THE world authority on the restaurant industry, the go-to man if you want expertise and knowledge and this is a rare opportunity to see a true master giving a Masterclass presentation.”

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