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Thu 16th Jul 2015 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Flypay to accelerate expansion after securing £7m funding from Time Out: Flypay, the award-winning pay-at-table technology company, is to accelerate its expansion after securing £7m ($10.7m) Series A funding from global multimedia discovery platform Time Out. The company has experienced significant growth in recent months as restaurant operators look for innovative smartphone technology to deliver an exceptional experience to customers. The technology allows customers to check, split and pay their bill from their smartphone, without needing to find a waiter, all in under a minute. Flypay chief executive Tom Weaver said: “It’s been a phenomenal two years for the business, as operators within the hospitality industry look to become early adopters of our technology to greatly enhance the dining out experience for their customers. This investment, coupled with a strategic partnership with Time Out, will allow us to rapidly deploy our solution for both operators and users around the world.” Time Out European managing director Noel Penzer added: “Time Out’s mobile engagement is up 200% year on year, proving we don’t just inspire our mobile users with the biggest, best and newest things to do in a city, we also enable and simplify their experience of going out. This investment exemplifies the transition of Time Out from a traditional media brand to a truly engaging hyper local mobile commerce platform.” Flypay’s technology is currently available in over 100 restaurants and bars across the UK including Wahaca, Cabana, Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Jamie’s Italian, Burrito Mama and Drake & Morgan, and will be available shortly in Dirty Burger, Chilango and selected Fullers pubs. The demand for innovative mobile payment technology has led to up to 30% of all transactions in some restaurant partners being processed through Flypay according to internal data and this is expected to increase with the expansion of Apple Pay and other mobile payment platforms. Flypay recently announced it has been working with Apple on a number of new initiatives around mobile payment while the company has also seen major growth in adoption of new technologies, including ordering for collection, ordering at the table, and rewards.

Industry News:

Wales begins consultation on minimum pricing: Wales has begun a consultation on the introduction of minimum pricing. Commenting, Nick Walton, at Poppleston Allen, said: “Separate from the current Public Health Bill which deals with the use of e-cigarettes in public places, the Welsh government has introduced a further Public Health Bill which would require that all alcohol be sold at a minimum price of 50p per unit. Research carried out for the Welsh government estimates that the 50p minimum would lead to at least 50 fewer deaths per year and prevent at least 1,400 hospital admissions. Sheffield University, which carried out the research, has suggested big gains for the Welsh economy if such a minimum pricing were to be introduced due to a reduction in crime and disorder. It suggests the greatest impact would be on those ‘high risk’ drinkers where an anticipated fall in consumption will be seen. Tactically, Wales has decided that the proposal should be covered by a separate Health Bill as an EU judgment is awaited in respect of a challenge by the Scotch Whisky Association with others to similarly proposed measures in Scotland. The consultation on the proposals will run until December 2015.”

US restaurants post 4.3% like-for-like sales rise in June: Restaurant industry like-for-like sales rose 4.3% in June, according to the latest MillerPulse survey. Sales during the month accelerated 70 basis points from the 3.6% growth in May, and improved at the highest level since January. Like-for-like sales improved for both quick-service restaurants and casual-dining concepts, and traffic increased for the industry as a whole, according to the monthly survey. “Business is in a very healthy position right now,” said Larry Miller, cofounder of the MillerPulse survey. “It was a strong quarter and a strong first half of the year.” The housing market has improved, petrol prices remain low, consumer confidence is high and the economy continues to add jobs. All of those factors are correlated with strong sales that could continue, Miller said.

Franchisees in California set to receive legal protection from predatory franchisors: A California bill aimed at giving franchisees more protection from predatory practices of franchisors looks set to pass into law after trade groups representing franchisors and franchisees came to an agreement on the language in an amendment. Assembly Bill 525 restricts the ability of franchisors like Subway, McDonald’s or Taco Bill to terminate franchisees unless there is a substantial violation of the franchise agreement. Franchisees would also be compensated, or their business sold, if the franchise agreement is terminated. The law also ensures that franchisees that substantially comply with their franchise agreement can have that deal renewed when the time comes.

Bebo couple add fish and chip shop to pub and hotel in Devon village: A couple who made millions from creating social network Bebo have opened a fish and chip shop in a Devon village. Michael and Xochi Birch, who sold their pioneering firm to AOL for £550m, are based in San Francisco, but have invested heavily in the village of Woolsery where Michael Birch’s family have had links for 300 years. Last year, they bought the derelict village pub, the Farmers Arms, as well as the local manor house, which they intend to convert into a hotel. And now they have also refurbished the fish and chip shop, which is located next to the Farmers Arms. Birch, 45, said that he bought the shop in a fit of nostalgia for his British upbringing. “It made me feel very English,” he said. “Being American one has to keep clinging onto these things. It was a relatively small project compared to the pub, but it is an important part of the village nonetheless.” He added he is keen to visit the re-opened cafe as soon as possible – because he cannot find good fish and chips in Silicon Valley. The shop manager Jay Oyarzarbal said the shop made everything in-house, using sustainable fish and local meat. He added: “We’ve had a really good response so far and we’re happy to be here.”

Legal update: Solicitors John Gaunt has produced a useful summer legal update. It can be read HERE.

Company News:

Busaba Eathai reports Apple Pay integration: Thai restaurant group Busaba Eathai has reported it has integrated Apple Pay via its partner MyCheck, claiming to be the first restaurant to offer in-app payment by fingerprint and point of sale integration. Customers will be able to pay for the whole bill, or even split the bill with friends, with only a click of a button and swipe of their fingerprint. This seamless user experience is instantly recognisable and easy to use. In February, Busaba Eathai was first to reveal positive impact of mobile technology and set the benchmark for mobile loyalty in the hospitality industry. To date the app has 75,000 Busaba customers who use it to pay regularly. Loyalty rewards continue to drive repeat users, with return visits as high as 68%. Through the app customers are able to check in, receive relevant offers and use Pay-at-Table technology – no need to wait for the bill. The app includes a loyalty scheme called “Path to Enlightenment”, which uses gamification to provide customers with incentives, such as their favourite dish for free. Jason Myers, chief executive of Busaba Eathai, said: “We’re very pleased to be at the forefront of Apple Pay coming to the market and working with them to create a faster and safer payments system in our app. We’re committed to putting the customer first and providing tools to create an exceptional experience for our guests. We have been really encouraged by the number of downloads sustained over time and the volume of repeat visitors. We continue to learn about our customers and for them, better means simple and convenient. Early adoption of technology that adds value to our guest experience, such as Pay-at-Table and Apple Pay, is just one way that we plan to deliver on this. We are continuing to build our development roadmap for the future and have some exciting features ahead. Watch this space.”

Brew reaches £180,000 target on Crowdcube: Brew, a new concept that is described as “a pub for tea”, has reached its £180,000 target on crowd-funding platform Crowdcube. The company, backed by a team including leading food entrepreneurs Giuseppe Mascoli, founder of Franco Manca and Roast, and Cinnamon Club founder Iqbal Wahhab, has seen 227 investors pledge £187,120 in return for 27.8% equity with eight days left and is now “overfunding”. The company, which aims to tap into the nation’s love of a cuppa by pairing it with alcohol and food, said in its pitch: “With successful completion of crowd-funding we should be ready to launch the first Brew in South London, opening this autumn. We aim to build on the first outlet by opening another Brew in East London a year later. Building on the experience of two successful outlets, we plan to raise further finance in 2017 and expand rapidly with directly-owned and franchised outlets across London and other major centres in the UK.” Brew’s business plan forecasts turnover of £4,494,970 by the end of June 2019 with Ebitda of £853,740.

Two Michelin starred Michael Caines gets go-ahead for hotel and restaurant in Devon: Planners have given the green light to award-winning chef Michael Caines’ ambitious scheme to transform a country house into a luxury hotel and restaurant in Devon. The chef, who holds two Michelin stars at Gidleigh Park, near Chagford on Dartmoor, wants to secure a third star at the new venture. The chef had been frustrated that East Devon District Council had delayed the application to transform Courtlands House, a country house on the Exe estuary in Lympstone. Caines applied for the renovation, restoration and extension of Courtlands House from a wedding venue into a hotel and fine dining restaurant. The application was approved, with conditions, following a site visit to Courtlands House by the council’s development management committee. The proposed work will include staff accommodation and kitchen facilities, landscaping of private gardens and parkland including a nature trail, tennis court and croquet lawn. Following the decision, a spokesman for the council said that the development would provide a great economic boost for the area, attracting more visitors and bringing in around 80 extra jobs to the district.

Handmade Burger receives £600,000 cash injection: Handmade Burger, which has 23 restaurants, has secured a £600,000 injection from Finance Birmingham to fit out its latest branch in Grand Central, the £150m leisure development set to open in September. The money will also allow Handmade Burger Company to refurbish two of its existing Birmingham sites at Brindleyplace and Touchwood Shopping Centre. Handmade Burger Company’s Grand Central restaurant will be its largest to date with a 200-seat capacity and will create 20 jobs when it opens later this year. Owner Chris Sargeant said: “As a business, our ambitions were first brought to life in Birmingham so it is fitting that our growth continues to be fuelled by the city that has long supported us. Finance Birmingham took the time to understand our business, growth plans and the speed at which our industry moves. They are an agile and highly experienced team that have allowed us to make huge strides in our nationwide expansion plans in a short space of time, starting in the Midlands with a prime site in the city’s Grand Central Station.” The investment was sourced from Finance Birmingham’s £9m regional growth fund. Investment director Clive Broadhurst added: “Handmade Burger Company is a true example of how the Midlands creates and supports entrepreneurial businesses. From a single family-run restaurant in Birmingham in 2006, the company has grown to a national brand with an incredibly loyal following. This funding deal will allow the business to realise ambitions to open in the UK’s newest premiere leisure destination at Grand Central in Birmingham. It’s a homecoming of sorts, but one that marks the beginning of a new period of growth for a company on the up.”

Costa Coffee franchisee aims is to double 20-strong store count after £2m finance package: A Costa Coffee franchisee business is aiming to double its store count with the help of a new £2m finance package. Sim Trava has secured the package from HSBC’s franchise unit allocated through the bank’s national £8bn SME fund. The company, which operates 20 Costa Coffee shops and opened the first Pita Pit outlet in the UK under franchise in Manchester city centre, has already created 275 jobs to date but hopes to more than double its store count within the next five years. It opened a new Costa Coffee store in Openshaw on Tuesday, creating ten local jobs. Husband-and-wife team Simon and Tracy Vardy own and operate the business. Simon Vardy, managing director of Sim Trava, said: “We are an ambitious business. We started with a single franchise in Northwich ten years ago, and are looking to grow significantly over the next five years.” Andy Brattesani, HSBC’s head of franchising, added: “One of the great benefits of the franchise model is that it is possible to operate a solo franchise or a sizeable chain. Simon and Tracy Vardy are a great example of what can be done in running a chain of franchises, including creating a significant number of local jobs. We have a longstanding relationship with Sim Trava, which makes it all the more pleasing to provide them with support that will help them in their next phase of growth.”

BrewDog FD – ‘we aim for 24 to 36 month payback on our bars’: BrewDog finance director Neil Simpson has told Financial Director that the company aims to get a payback on its new bar openings of between 24 and 36 months. He said: “We have a standard template, but within that template we have outliers so we might have smaller or bigger, higher profile sights that fall out with the norm. But that norm means we set a benchmark where we look for payback of our costs within 24 to 36 months. That’s not hard and fast but it’s a good guide to which we work.” Simpson said the company’s export business also provides a good indication of where international openings will work. He added: “Through our distribution network we know which countries we are already selling a lot of craft beer into and therefore what areas of the world are well established and that gives us a good feel for which countries can substantiate a craft beer bar in front of our branding because of the sales that are already there.”

Russian brand Jean-Jacques set to debut in Soho in August: Jean-Jacques Brasserie & Wine Bar, the renowned French all-day dining restaurant, will launch its first UK site in Soho’s Frith Street this August. Originally heralding from Russia, the new brasserie and wine bar will offer traditional French cuisine combining simple, well-sourced ingredients. Dishes will include French classics such as steak tartare, salad Niçoise, grilled poussin and Provençal puff pastry tart with spinach and chocolate fondant. A spokesman said: “Jean-Jacques will evoke a lively social centre, hosting regular cultural gatherings, talks by artists, writers, journalists, and film directors alongside cinema screening in a relaxed and friendly setting.” Jean-Jacques has 12 branches in Moscow and St Petersburg and was founded by the Table Table Group, which operates 35 restaurants, cafes and pubs – the first Jean-Jacques site opened in 2004. Jean Jacques London chief executive Nick Borisov said: “I’m thrilled to be in London to open our first European project, especially in the legendary Soho area with its diverse cultural and social scene.” 

‘Papa’ John Schnatter opens 300th UK store: Papa’s John’s founder ‘Papa’ John Schnatter has personally opened the UK’s 300th Papa John’s pizza store in Wimbledon. Gareth Davies, managing director, Papa John’s UK, said: “It was a thrill to welcome our Founder back to the UK; and to Wimbledon to open the UK’s 300th Papa John’s store. I’m proud of our franchise partners, their teams and our team members who have all contributed to reaching this milestone. I’m glad that the Wimbledon locals had a chance to experience the passion our founder has for making pizzas.” Papa John’s was founded in the USA in 1984 and there are now 300 stores across the UK, each fulfilling John’s “Better Ingredients. Better Pizza” philosophy. Internationally Papa John’s has more than 4,600 stores in 37 countries.

Young’s pub The Bull in Streatham reopens after £1.4m refurbishment: The Bull in Steatham, owned by London pub and hotel retailer Young’s, has reopened following a £1.4m refurbishment. The pub, which was originally built in 1768, has a new interior and refreshed garden with the addition of a “Burger Shack” as well as a new menu. The inside of the pub now boasts a mixture of wood and quirky butcher shop tiling, leather armchairs and Chesterfield sofas while the new contemporary corrugated iron “Burger Shack” serves four types of burger in locally-baked, artisan, Brioche-style soft buns, craft beers and sodas. The garden also includes a bespoke “Shepherd’s Hut” and open plan sheds for eight to 12 people each named after a British breed including Galloway, Dexter and Devon. The menu features steak specials such as Black Angus sirloin, fillet and Chateaubriand along with dishes like pan-roasted sea bass and Sunday roasts with all the trimmings. Young’s established ales are available behind the bar as well as locally brewed craft beers, an international wine list and cocktails.

TGI Friday’s trials new menu items at two locations: TGI Friday’s is trialling new menu items at two locations in the UK, one of which is a site in Bristol. The new dishes include the green chilli cheeseburger, the scorpion chicken sandwich and the tomahawk steak. Terry McDowell, TGI Friday’s head of food development, said: “Friday’s food is all about personality and our new dishes have it in spades. I took inspiration from food from right across the globe as well as exploring sweet, hot and smoky trends and brought the best flavour sensations I could find to the new menu. It’s all in there and ready for those in Bristol to try now.”

Hull pub landlord behind new craft beer bar set to launch in city centre: Hull pub landlord Ian Allott is behind a new craft beer bar set to launch in the city centre. Allott, whose Chequers pub has won a number of awards since opening two years ago, is among a group of businessmen behind Furley and Co. The 3,175 sq ft bar, which is named after a shipping firm that once occupied the building in Princes Dock Street, is set to open in the next few months once refurbishment work is complete. Allott told the Hull Daily Mail: “What we’re trying to do is create a modern, contemporary-style bar restaurant within a three-storey Victorian quayside warehouse. Like Chequers, it’s going to be like a revolving beer festival. It’s going to be on a much grander scale. It will have revolving cask beers and craft beers, not just locally but from across the world.” Allott said the food menu, offering high-end pub food rather than formal dining, would also change frequently. He added: “We’re going to have a kitchen in the bar so people will be able to see in and it would be great to be able to put on different chefs every week. We’re trying to create a bit of an element of surprise, really, so when people turn up they’re not sure what they will be eating or drinking.” The building, owned by Hull City Council, was let through agent NPS Humber.

Simon French – Cote deal makes The Restaurant Group look undervalued: Cenkos leisure analyst Simon French has argued the sale of Cote makes The Restaurant Group’s shares, for which he has a 696p target price and a ‘Buy’ recommendation, look undervalued. He said: “Restaurant Group trades on a 2015E EV/Ebitda of 11.3x and appears under valued based on (the) acquisition of Cote by BC Partners from CBPE for an estimated £250m. This implies a historic (to July 2014) EV/Ebitda multiple of 15.3x and based on current trading run-rates we estimate that the current year (to July 2015) EV/Ebitda multiple paid was in excess of 12.0x. The acquisition also signals another new entrant into the casual dining market with BC Partners joining Apollo, Bridgepoint and TPG as recent acquirers of Casual Dining Group, The Azzurri Group and Prezzo respectively. We continue to expect more activity in the space over the coming months with multiples likely to move higher still as demand for restaurant assets outstrips supply, ironically a reverse of the trading situation where supply is outstripping demand.”

Intertain’s Walkabout partners V Festival in music competition: Intertain’s Walkabout brand has partnered with V festival and Jack Daniels to send an unsigned band to this year’s V Festival, in a nationwide battle of the bands competition. Commencing this week, “Highway to V Festival” will take place in Walkabout bars across the UK and will see bands compete to play the opening slot of the festival on the Sure Arena at Hylands Park, Chelmsford. The winning band will be rubbing shoulders with the likes of Kasabian, Calvin Harris, Hozier, Ellie Goulding, Tom Jones and Sam Smith. Walkabout venues nationwide will be hosting heats for the competition, with nearly 500 bands competing at 24 events. The final takes place at Walkabout in Temple, London, in August. John Leslie, chief executive of Walkabout operator Intertain, said: “Live music is at the heart of the Walkabout brand which is why we are delighted to be hosting this competition. It’s a great opportunity to showcase fantastic local talent and give the winners an incredible platform to perform. This is a really exciting time for Walkabout. We’re investing in our current venues, on the hunt for new ones, and sending bands to V Festival. The Walkabout brand is evolving and we’re very positive about the future.”

Couple open new smokehouse concept in Darwen, Lancashire: Paul and Karen Bradley are opening a new smokehouse concept, Smokies Southern BBQ, offering beef brisket, pork shoulder, chicken, home-made sausages, fries, coleslaw and ranch beans, in Darwen, Lancashire. Karen Bradley said: “People in the UK are becoming a little more adventurous in their food tastes and want more than just a cheeseburger or bucket of chicken – and that’s where we come in. We grew up in Darwen. We have travelled for quite a while and we want a place to come back to where we are near our friends and family. My husband has always been keen on different types of food. He can take a relatively cheap cut of meat and cook it very slowly on a low heat and produce something that melts in the mouth. The meat is cooked for between six and 14 hours and it’s a 24-hour job, six-days-a-week.” The couple have taken over the former Oliver’s Coffee House in Duckworth Street.

Jeeves Hospitality buys well-known Co Antrim restaurant: Pub and bar operator Jeeves Hospitality has bought well-known Co Antrim restaurant Bureau by the Lough. Owners Damien and Dona Curran have sold the restaurant to focus on their nearby Lighthouse bar and wine business. Omagh-born actor and wine maker Sam Neill described the view from Bureau By The Lough as one of the best to be seen from any restaurant in the world during a visit in 2012. The business includes a seafood restaurant, as well as a cafe bar. The restaurant’s 25 staff will be kept on with the transfer of ownership. Damien Curran said selling the restaurant would give him time to “sink his teeth” into his specialist bar and wine and beer shop, Lighthouse, which is located just metres away from Bureau By The Lough.

Douglas Jack issues ‘Reduce’ recommendation on JD Wetherspoon shares: Numis Securities leisure analyst Douglas Jack has issued a ‘Reduce’ recommendation on JD Wetherspoon shares, with a target price of 700p, after downgrading his 2016 earnings forecast by 6% in the wake of yesterday’s (Wednesday, 15 July) trading update. He said: “Like-for-like sales have slowed to 2.9% in quarter four, during which margins fell by 130bps. As a consequence, over the first 50 weeks like-for-like sales were up 3.4%, with Ebit margins down 80bps (to 7.4%). With the company increasing starting-pay by a further 8% on 3 August, we are cutting our 2016E and 2017E profit before tax forecasts by 6%, bringing total 2016E downgrades since 1 January to 14%. Like-for-like sales rose 2.9% in quarter four, supported by slightly easier comparables (quarter one 3.7%; quarter two 6.7%; quarter three 6.2%; and quarter four 5.2%) and increased promotional activity, particularly for breakfasts/coffee (since 18 March). Year-to-date, like-for-like sales are up 3.4% with total sales up 7.6%. We continue to question whether the resultant volume growth from discount-driven coffee and breakfast campaigns will be sufficient to offset the inevitable hit on margins. Ebit margins fell 130bps (to 7.0%) in quarter four with low price increases (1% on drink) having hurt margins more than they benefited volumes. The combination of slower like-for-like sales, limited drinks price inflation, rising labour costs (including a 5% increase in pay for hourly paid staff in October) is undermining margins. Since 1 January 2015 we have cut our 2015E forecast by 8% (profit before tax £77.9m; consensus £78.2m). As feared, we are now downgrading our 2016E forecasts by 6% (profit before tax from £85.2m to £80.5m; consensus £85.7m) to assume Ebit margins fall by 25bps (to 7.15%). This reflects a proposed 8% increase in starting-pay, against a backdrop of ‘heightened’ competition from supermarkets and restaurant groups, and increased staff, repairs, bar and food costs. JD Wetherspoon expects profit before tax to fall in 2015E; and ‘a trading performance similar to, or slightly above, the current year’ in 2016E. Our target price equates to 8.2x EV/Ebitda (historical average rating: 7.5x). This assumes that the planned disposal of 20 pubs causes limited dilution and provides some support to margins and Ebit/pub, which fell by 5% in half one.”

Des McDonald’s Fish & Chip Shop becomes Vintage Salt: Des McDonald’s Upper Street restaurant, “The Fish & Chip Shop” changed its name to Vintage Salt, Islington yesterday (Wednesday, July 15). To coincide with the name change a new head chef has been appointed – Brian Mbabazi, previously of The Ivy and Bob Bob Richard. The name change follows the success of McDonald’s latest restaurant opening at Selfridges, On the Roof with Vintage Salt. Since opening at the beginning of May, Vintage Salt has been fully booked, serving seasonal British dishes to more than 500 diners per day. It also reflects the evolution of The Fish & Chip Shop by Des McDonald, from serving “posh fish and chips” to the sophisticated seafood restaurant and bar it is today. McDonald said: “The name change to Vintage Salt is the next logical step for the Fish & Chip brand. It is more reflective of what the Upper Street restaurant has become and will continue to evolve too, especially as we look to expand and open further Vintage Salt restaurants outside of London.”

Douglas Jack – the winners and losers from the National Living Wage: Numis Securities leisure analyst Douglas Jack has set out his winners an losers from the National Living Wage. He said: “We are altering our forecasts across most of the managed pub and restaurant sector to reflect the new National Living Wage (NLW), set at £7.20 in April 2016 versus a National Minimum Wage (NMW) which is currently at £6.50, rising to £6.70 in October 2015. We have downgraded 2017E earnings forecasts: by 14% for Mitchells & Butlers (from ‘Add’ to ‘Hold’; TP from 500p to 450p); by 6% for JD Wetherspoon (‘Reduce’; TP 700p); vs +1% to -3% for most other operators. Around half of the employees earning the NMW are 25 or under within the pub/restaurant sector; and are therefore not covered by this legislation. As a result, whereas typically a third of staff are currently on the NMW, accounting for 20-25% of labour costs, over-25’s on the NMW account for 10-15% of labour costs. We believe c.35% of outlet employees are over-25’s earning below the NLW, accounting for 25-30% of labour costs. The key to determining the level of costs increases will be each company’s desire to maintain pay differentials internally (under vs over 25’s) and against the competition. Most companies should show restraint from maintaining almost all differentials, resulting in 0 to -3% changes in 2017E PBT. Mitchells & Butlers is assuming it will maintain wage differentials throughout its outlets, resulting an incremental 5% increase (£34m) in total outlet labour costs in 2017E and a 14% PBT downgrade for that year, by our estimates. JD Wetherspoon will increase hourly-pay rates by 8% on 3 August 2015, resulting in an estimated 6% PBT downgrade for both 2016E and 2017E.The new legislation does not directly affect franchised, leased and tenanted companies, but it could undermine the underlying profitability of their franchisees, lessees and tenants. Offsetting tax benefits should compensate smaller, wet-led pubs with few staff (good for tenancies), and increase the downside risk of larger, food-led leased pubs which choose the Market Rent Only option, removing themselves from pub company support. Companies are likely to invest even more in labour scheduling systems to offset rising labour costs. The proposed changes should boost disposable income for some customers, and create a more inflationary environment in which the more premium operators should be most capable of passing on rising costs. Discounters, which are also more likely to be affected by welfare cuts, are more likely to struggle to pass costs on. In summary, the changes for most companies are minor. They coped with a 31% increase in the National Minimum Wage between 2000 and 2004, and they should adapt to cope with a 38% increase for over 25’s during the next five years.”

Peyton and Byrne to host craft beer supper club at Royal Academy: Restaurant and cafe operator Peyton and Byrne is hosting a craft beer supper club at the Royal Academy in London on Wednesday, 29 July. The company is putting on the event, which features a five-course beer and food-pairing menu of the finest British produce, to celebrate Craft Beer Month. The supper club, which takes place in the Keeper’s House private dining space, will offer a range of craft beers in an exploration of London’s best breweries including Hiver Honey beer to a pale ale from Five Point Brewery. The food menu features slow-cooked belly of pork, raviolo of braised pork shoulder, fennel compote with honey and cracked pepper sauce. Guests can expand their knowledge about pairing techniques and specialist production methods with the company’s resident beer expert Alison Taffs. She trained with the Wine and Spirit Education Trust and has since created craft beer, wine and drinks menus for over 300 restaurants.

Burton nightclub owned by Punch set to re-open: The former Bullit nightclub, in High Street, Burton, is to be re-opened by an “experienced” but unnamed pub and club manager. Owned by Punch Taverns, the company confirmed the club is set to open under the new name of Ambience. A spokesman from Punch Taverns said: “We can confirm that we have reached an agreement with an experienced pub and club operator to re-open the premises formerly known as Bullit under the new name of Ambience and hope to be open for trade this weekend. Over the next few weeks the business will be looking at new ways of operating, including opening during the day for the local town centre custom.” Last year the pubco had to apply for a new licence with reduced opening hours after police highlighted the high level of calls received about trouble outside the venue. It has been up for sale before at a price of £395,000 and it was only back in November 2013 when Punch Taverns invested £20,000 into the then Bullit club.

Shepherd Neame bringing Angry Orchard to the UK: Shepherd Neame is bringing America’s best-selling brand of hard cider to the UK this autumn. Angry Orchard was first introduced in the US in 2011, and its Crisp Apple style (5% ABV) soon became the country’s number one hard cider. The drink is also suitable for vegans and gluten free. Brand manager Samantha Catford said: “We are really excited to bring Angry Orchard Crisp Apple to the UK. We hope that British drinkers will agree with us that it is the perfect thirst-quenching drink for summer.” Crisp Apple will be available on draught in pubs, restaurants and bars from September, and in 330ml and 500ml bottles from October.

Bradford and Leeds Brewery collaborate for Yorkshire Day brew: Bradford Brewery and Leeds Brewery have come together for a first-ever collaboration to create a special celebration local beer. The new brew will be unveiled during Yorkshire Day’s weekend festivities, after being brewed on site at Bradford Brewery by Bradford’s head brewer Anthony Barrett and Leeds Brewery’s assistant head brewer Will Warriner. The first pints of “Northern Powerhouse” will be pulled at Bradford Brewery’s Yorkshire Day Beer and Food festival, taking place at the brewery off Westgate, Bradford, on Saturday and Sunday 1 and 2 August. Managing director Matt Halliday said: “There has always been a cheeky bit of rivalry between Bradford and Leeds – including arguments about who can brew the best beer. But the truth is that the brewing industry is part of a proud tradition across the whole county – so, for Yorkshire Day, we decided to bury the hatchet and work together to create a powerful new brew which we feel sure will get everyone’s vote.”

Town and Country Inns to expand fledgling Fleet Street Kitchen, launch new brand in Birmingham: Town and Country Inns is set to expand its fledgling Fleet Street Kitchen brand as well as aiming to launch a new brand in Birmingham. The company wants to launch six new Fleet Street Kitchens in the west Midlands, Manchester and London over the next three years. It also aims to launch an entirely new brand in Birmingham after securing extra funds from an unnamed investor. Its main brand, Apres, has a site in Summer Row in Birmingham as well as locations in Solihull, Lichfield, Mere Green and Cheltenham. The company, which also owns Mechu in Summer Row, said plans were underway to create “mobile” versions of Mechu and Fleet Street Kitchen for corporate functions, dinners and balls. A new private members’ club is also set to open in the basement of its Fleet Street Kitchen city centre venue in Birmingham. The club would be pitched at corporate and individual members only and would have a 24-hour concierge. Operations director Mark Jones told the Birmingham Mail: “We think Fleet Street Kitchen is the jewel in our crown and we’re looking at rolling out six new venues over the next three years. The private members’ bar has real potential given that there isn’t one open yet in Birmingham although some are planned elsewhere in the city. The city is changing and there is a lot more going on – Birmingham is now ready for something like this.” In May the company revealed it had seen a £400,000 drop in revenue at its businesses in Summer Row as a result of the £500m rebuilding project around Paradise Circus, which will comprise a hotel, office buildings and new public space. 

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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