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Mon 20th Jul 2015 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Starbucks plans exclusive concept shop in Covent Garden, £30m technology investment: Starbucks is planning to open a concept shop in Covent Garden under a new brand called Starbucks Reserve that will not bear its green mermaid logo and will instead be branded with a star and the letter “R”. The store will highlight different brewing methods including siphon, chemex, and a reverse French press machine called the Clover as well as exclusive Arabica beans. “If you are a coffee geek this is going to allow you to taste coffee in lots of new ways”, Kris Engskov, Starbuks European boss told The Daily Telegraph. The opening follows a similar site in Seattle and allows the company to reinforce premium credentials. The company is also planning to spend £30m over the next five years on a range of technology initiatives which will include the ‘fastest Wi-Fi on the high street’ and wireless powermat chargers across its 813 UK sites to combat the biggest fear of iPhone users – a dead battery. Engskov said that when the company trialled powermat chargers in its San Francisco stores they saw six times more internet usage. Over the next couple of months Starbucks will also be launching a mobile pay app in the UK which will mean people can pre-order and pay for their coffees on their smartphones, be told how long it will take to make their drinks and where the shortest queue is. “Queuing is such an institution in the UK but it’s an opportunity to disrupt that, maybe that’s what we want to do,” Engskov told the Telegraph. “I don’t think anyone really loves to stand in line – people are busy. You can always have the opportunity to come into the store and sit down, but we are giving you the option to do something else and free up your time.” Engskov also reported that the company’s progress in the UK has continued and it is building its profitability. “We learnt a few lessons a few years ago about unbridled growth. Every store in the UK is (now) custom-designed, which is very different to some of the cookie cutter design you might see in the competition.”

Industry News:

Host of companies sign up for Professor Chris Muller’s Multi-site Management Masterclass: A host of sector companies have signed up to attend the next Multi-Site Management Masterclass led by Professor Chris Muller, on Friday 2 October. Those attending include: Solent Pizza, Amber Taverns, Good Life Diner, Beagle & Co, Banwell House, Hickory’s Smokehouse, Brewhouse & Kitchen, Leeds Brewery, Benito’s Hat, PubLove, Paul UK, Maxwells, Gala Bingo, My Lahore, Taylor St Baristas, Roadchef, Corbin & King, K10, Forum Cafe Bars, McMullen, Small Batch Coffee, Fuller’s, Spirit Pub Company, Bulldog Hotel Company, and Baabar. 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 email: adam.dickinson@propelinfo.com. 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.”

Jamie Rollo – bar prices in the UK look in line with the rest of the world, JD Wetherspoon record margin squeeze self-inflicted: Morgan Stanley analyst Jamie Rollo has concluded that on-trade prices in the UK are in line with the rest of the world and JD Wetherspoon’s record quarterly margin squeeze is a result of awarding an above-average pay increase last year. He said: “Hong Kong, Paris, New York and Geneva have among the most expensive bar prices, and these average 6-7x the cost of beer in supermarkets. London bar prices average around 4.5x supermarket prices, close to the average of the 75 cities in GoEuro’s survey. Bars are clearly at a cost disadvantage given higher staff costs and overheads, and in the UK there is a VAT differential on supermarket food and restaurant food, which penalises bars and restaurants, but the UK does not look out of sync with the rest of the world on its on versus off-trade pricing. While UK pub operator Wetherspoon makes reasonable points on tax fairness, we think some of its profit downgrade this week reflects its decisions to put through an above average pay increase at the same time as reducing its prices, which caused a record quarterly margin squeeze.”

Casual Dining Group in exclusive talks to buy La Tasca: Cafe Rouge and Bella Italia operator Casual Dining Group, led by Steve Richards, is in exclusive talks to buy La Tasca for £26m, a few days after buying Las Iguanas. The move comes amid speculation that owner Apollo is preparing a possible stock market float, which would allow a quick return on its investment. La Tasca is owned by Icelandic bank Kaupthing and German bank Commerzbank. La Tasca was acquired by Robert Tchenquiz’s R20 for £123m in April 2007 with the current owners taking control in a debt-for-equity swap.

LGA – every restaurant and pub should be displaying calorie counts: Every restaurant, pub and cinema chain should be displaying the calorie content of their food and drink, council leaders have said. The Local Government Association (LGA) said some UK outlets already do so, but the industry must do more. A mandatory scheme in the US has given large restaurant chains until the end of 2016 to put calorie counts on menus. The LGA, which represents councils in England and Wales, has called for voluntary action. Izzi Seccombe, chairman of the LGA’s community well-being board, said: “We are calling on cinema, restaurant and pub chains to step up and show leadership in tackling the obesity crisis, by providing clear and graphic signs at counters and on menus. In many cases, people are unaware of how many calories they are consuming. Food and drink outlets should be doing more to provide clear and prominent labelling which spells this out clearly.”

Nottingham BID to continue for second term: The Nottingham Business Improvement District (BID) is to continue for a second term after companies and organisations in the city centre voted overwhelmingly in favour. 89% of those that voted by number and 94% by rateable value backed the BID, which was formed in 2013, with turnout 45% by number and 55% by rateable value. Chairman Jeff Allen said: “It means that £5m of investment will be generated for the city over the next five years which will be used for the benefit of businesses in Nottingham as well as for people who live, study and work here. We now look forward to delivering the services and initiatives set out in our business plan to put Nottingham firmly on the map as a regional and national city of choice for shopping, leisure, work and education.” Projects include working with businesses to establish a strong and viable late night trading economy, creating a digital platform to reconnect online customers with visits to the high street and continuing to be a strong and influential voice for businesses in the city centre. The activities will be funded by an annual levy of 1.25% that is applicable to those businesses in the area covered by the BID that have a rateable value of over £25,000.

ALMR welcomes three new operator members including first based in France: The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) has welcomed three new operator members, including its first based in France. FrogPubs, which has nine pubs, bar and microbreweries in France, has signed up along with London-based cocktail bar group Adventure Bar and the family-run south west London hotel, pub and restaurant company McLean Inns. In its latest update the ALMR said: “For the first time we welcome a new retailer member based in France, as our status as the UK’s representative to HOTREC sees our influence felt on a continent-wide platform.” The ALMR represents 185 retail businesses accounting for more than 17,500 outlets across the UK and employing in excess of 375,000 people.

Norwich’s largest nightclub faces closure in noise row: Norwich’s largest nightclub faces closure over a seven-year-long row which has cost more than a million pounds. The wrangle between Mercy nightclub in Prince of Wales Road and Norwich City Council began in 2008, with a city council planning decision to allow an office block next to the 2,300-capacity nightclub to be turned into homes. Toby Middleton, manager of Mercy nightclub, claims that noise complaints began as soon as residents moved into the new homes, and said he was now instructing solicitors to bring a case against the council. He said the club had closed for nine months for a costly overhaul to improve soundproofing measures, but it was impossible to solve the problem completely as the homes abut the nightclub and bass lines reverberate through the wall. The total spent to date, including lawyers and acoustic consultants, exceeded £1m, he claimed, and it was quickly becoming financially unviable to keep the club open. Since the office block in St Faith’s Lane was turned into homes, the council’s environmental health team has served Mercy with noise abatement notices to the tune of £80,000.

Hipsters condemn arrival of ‘muted’ Pret A Manger in Shoreditch: The London Evening Standard has reported local opposition in Shoreditch to the arrival of a “goth” Pret A Manger. The company has abandoned its normal maroon livery and adopted a mute black livery for the site. Opponents claim the opening is a sign of the Shoreditch area’s gentrification and called for the protection of independent businesses. The outlet, on the corner of Bethnal Green Road and the north section of Brick Lane, was formerly the Von Tromp pub, which closed in 1990, and was most recently the Benets of Cambridge ice cream parlour. Lucy Hunt, 32, a TV producer, told the newspaper: “It shows what’s happening to Shoreditch. It is becoming more mainstream and commercialised, which means prices will go up. Shoreditch will probably be the new Notting Hill. It’s gone from being a bit grungy to very desirable.”

Brits drink 14,841 pints of beer and 13,923 glasses of wine every minute according to study: Brits are drinking 14,841 pints of beer and 13,923 glasses of wine every minute, according to a new study. Researchers at online savings website voucherbox.co.uk have produced a snapshot of how much alcohol is bought and consumed every minute in Britain. Beer and wine are now virtually neck-and-neck with Brits drinking 247 pints of beer for every 232 glasses of wine every second. Britain spends over £15bn every year on alcohol, according to the research. In on-trade sales, beer makes up 54% of all drinks with wine 19% and spirits 14%. In off-trade, Brits enjoy more wine at home (36% market share) compared to beer and spirits at 24% each. Brits also drank 279 million litres of spirits last year – the equivalent to 353 shots per second. Shane Forster, UK manager for Voucherbox, said: “It is fascinating to see just how much we enjoy a tipple and how much we get through between us per minute. Now the recession is behind us, some Brits have a bit more cash to enjoy a bit more of what we fancy – and it seems that includes opting for a nice pint or a glass of chilled white wine.”

Company News:

Chi Kitchen to open first venue in Debenhams’ Oxford Street store this autumn: Chi Kitchen, a new pan-Asian restaurant concept being launched in partnership with Debenhams, is to open its first venue in the retail company’s flagship Oxford Street store this autumn. The brand, by the owner of the Thai-inspired Mango Tree restaurant in Belgravia Eddie Lim, is exclusive to Debenhams and further sites are planned to open within its stores across the UK. Chi Kitchen will serve a diverse all-day dining menu influenced by Thai, Chinese, Malaysian, Japanese, Vietnamese and Korean cuisine. The 68-cover Oxford Street restaurant, which will be open during the store’s normal hours, will have its own designated entrance from Henrietta Place as well as access from within the store’s Beauty Hall. It will have a range of seating options; deep upholstered window booths, high stools at a dining counter that will double as a sushi bar, and surrounding timber tables and chairs. An open-plan robata grill will also allow guests a glimpse into the kitchen. Lim said: “Our aim is to build a brand exclusively to Debenhams, which is going to offer not only good pan-Asian food but also good energy to Debenhams loyal and new customers. The food will be exotic, colourful and incredibly tasty.” Debenhams UK director of space planning Mark Jordan added: “We are very proud to be working with Chi Kitchen exclusively on this new concept and look forward to introducing it to our customers in the coming months.” Debenhams first announced the partnership with Chi Kitchen during a trading update last month.

Gaucho steak house chain put up for sale: Argentinian-inspired steak house chain Gaucho has been put up for sale. The company’s majority owner, Dutch businessman Zeev Godik, has hired Canaccord Genuity to run a sale and a deal is likely after the summer, reports The Sunday Times. Godik and his private equity backer ICG are likely to set a price target of between £140m and £150m, according to the report. A sale is likely to bring a windfall for Godik nearly eight years after he led a management buyout of the company from Phoenix Equity Partners. Godik put together the deal with debt investor ICG after Gaucho abandoned a listing on London’s junior Alternative Investment Market. Gaucho was formed in 1976 and specialises in South American meats, which are paraded in front of customers. The company operates 18 restaurants under the Gaucho brand including in London, in Buenos Aires in Argentina and Dubai. Its parent company Gaucho Group also operates the Cau brand, which has venues across Britain as well as one in Amsterdam in Holland. The Argentine food specialist made a loss of £1.3m in 2013 according to accounts filed for Gaucho Group at Companies House.

Belfast-based coffee shop California Coffee to start expanding with second site complete with specialist burger restaurant: Independent Belfast coffee shop California Coffee is to start expanding with a second site in the city, complete with a specialist burger restaurant. The company, owned by brothers Edmund and Ronan Byrne, is opening the £1m cafe and restaurant in St Ann Street, creating 40 jobs. The cafe, which would be located on the ground floor, is set to open in August with the burger restaurant on the first floor following about three months later. Edmund Byrne told the Belfast Telegraph: “Our decision came after looking at Dublin, making inroads in that direction. But truthfully, Belfast has performed brilliantly and we didn’t want to move. This is a significant investment, and is monumental for us. We see it as a long-term investment.” The Byrnes have been running California Coffee in Arthur Street for the past 15 years, which is also about to be refurbished.

Innis & Gunn raises £2.86m through mini-bond offer: Brewer and retailer Innis & Gunn has ended its mini-bond fund-raising on crowdfunding platform Crowdbnk with 1,109 investors pledging a total of £2,864,500. The independent craft brewer offered investors an interest rate of 7.25% gross per annum. The mini-bond will fund the creation of a state-of-the-art brewery, bottling line and barrel store in Scotland. Dougal Gunn Sharp, founder and chief executive of Innis & Gunn, said last month: “We have been delighted with the response and the levels of investment coming in. We always wanted this project to bring us closer to our fans and the wider craft beer community and it absolutely has – the feedback we have had has been phenomenal.”

Hakkasan closes Beverly Hills restaurant: UK-based restaurant and nightclub company Hakkasan closed its site in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, at the weekend. Saturday night was the last evening of service for the Beverly Hills site, which had been plagued by middling reviews ever since it opened. In a note to staff, president Nick McCabe said the site was underperforming. It opened just under two years ago.

McDonald’s franchisees in US report weak sales outlook in survey: McDonald’s franchisees in the US have reported a weak sales outlook according to the latest survey from restaurant industry analyst Mark Kalinowski. The survey also reports of franchisees’ diminished relations with the company and financial weakness brought on by years of renovations and equipment upgrades – and worsened by rising labour costs – reports Nation’s Restaurant News. The franchisees said same-store sales in June declined 2.3%, which would indicate the company’s second quarter sales are lower than many Wall Street analysts expect. The franchisees expect same-store sales for July will be better – but still negative – with a fall of 1.2%. “They continue to struggle in the US,” Kalinowski said. “McDonald’s is a big market share donor to the industry.” The quarterly survey features 29 franchisees that operate more than 200 restaurants. McDonald’s has 3,000 franchisees and 14,000 locations in the US.

Premier Inn offers to help build 40 homes in return for 88-bedroom hotel in Lake District: Whitbread-owned Premier Inn has offered to help build 40 new homes in Ambleside if it gets planning permission for an 88-bedroom hotel in the Lake District honeypot town. The company said it has joined forces with not-for-profit housing provider Home Group for what would be the town’s biggest hotel and the homes – 24 of which would be for affordable renting – in a field opposite Ambleside Rugby Club. The hotel, which would create 30 jobs, would fund the building of the affordable houses, which would not be viable without the Premier Inn, reports The Westmorland Gazette. Premier Inn has come up with the proposal after last year withdrawing plans to open a £5m 64-bedroom hotel at the 19th century University of Cumbria Hill Top building. It hopes the scheme will gain the support of the public and ultimately decision-makers at the Lake District National Park Authority. Representatives for the scheme will present their idea to Lakes Parish Council this week before a two-day public consultation in August. A planning application is expected to be submitted in the autumn.

Vaulkhard Group and Durham Distillery form Newcastle Gin Company, city’s only working gin still to be installed in bar: North east leisure company Vaulkhard Group has formed a partnership with Durham Distillery to create The Newcastle Gin Company, which will see the city’s only working gin still installed in one of its bars. The 400-litre custom-built copper gin will be in Vaulkhard’s new Bealim House bar that was previously sports pub, Fluid Bar and Kitchen. The 8ft still – one of the largest in the country – will be set behind bullet proof glass as a fully functioning feature on the ground floor of the bar, which is undergoing a £590,000 revamp to give it a more female-friendly theme and is due to reopen in September. Director of Vaulkhard Group and The Newcastle Gin Company Harry Vaulkhard told ChronicleLive: “The vision for the new bar has grown naturally and we wanted to create something a bit different to offer customers as well as providing a sociable experience with an unusual talking point.” As well as producing The Newcastle Gin Company’s signature gin, the on-site distillery will offer masterclasses to learn about distilling and the chance for people to create their own unique gin. Durham Distillery managing director Jon Chadwick added: “Small-batch craft spirits have slowly been moving from the niche to the mainstream and are becoming regarded as a premium offering within the leisure market and gin particularly is currently undergoing a significant renaissance.” Bealim House – the original name of the building – will also sell food, local guest ales, wines and cocktails.

D&D Restaurants to refurbish flagship Pont de la Tour site: D&D Restaurant’s Le Pont de la Tour venue will close on 2 August for a major refurbishment and will reopen in late September with a series of new restaurant, bar and retail spaces and a new head chef at the helm. Le Pont de la Tour will have a new interior, designed by Russell Sage Studio. Le Pont de la Tour is one of three extensive refurbishments planned by D&D London this autumn, the others being Sartoria in Mayfair and the dining spaces within the historic Royal Exchange building in the City.

JD Wetherspoon to open fourth Irish pub this week: JD Wetherspoon is to create 85 new jobs with the opening of its fourth bar in the Republic of Ireland this week. The company said has spent €2.8m developing The Old Borough, which is situated on Main Street in Swords. The new outlet is on the site of an existing pub, The Old Boro and prior to that was a school for 191 years until its closure in 2000. The company currently runs three pubs in the Republic – The Three Tun Tavern in Blackrock, The Forty Foot in Dun Laoghaire and The Old Wood in Blanchardstown. JD Wetherspoon is set to open its first bar outside of Dublin ­– The Linen Weaver in Cork city – shortly. The company has acquired a number of other properties in the Republic including a former homeless hostel on Camden Street in Dublin. The group is to invest more than €4m developing a new pub and hotel at Camden Hall. JD Wetherspoon plans to open 30 bars across Ireland over the next five years.

Bristol leisure freehold sold for £2.15m: A landmark Bristol building, currently home to tenants including the Syndicate nightclub, has been sold for £2.15m. The retail and leisure investment has been sold by Deeley Freed, advised by Hartnell Taylor Cook, to a London-based property company. The block comprises 15-18 Nelson Street and 3-11 Fairfax Street and features a total of 31,883 sq ft of space on a 0.35 acre site. Its seven tenants currently generate an annual net income of £204,541 per annum. Gemma-Jane Ogden, of Hartnell Taylor Cook, said: “The site provides a significant development opportunity due to its close proximity to the major developments currently being undertaken around Nelson Street, which will eventually provide over 1,000 new apartments. There was substantial interest in the property from a variety of investors and developers, reflecting the strength of the Bristol investment market, and consequently we secured a price which exceeded the asking price.” Hartnell Taylor Cook was appointed to sell the property in February 2015 with an asking price of about £1.75m.

New pure vegetarian Indian restaurant concept Singh’s launched in Gravesend: Singh’s, a new pure vegetarian Indian restaurant concept, has launched in Gravesend in Kent. The restaurant, set up by husband and wife Parvinger and Jaspreet Lalli, has opened in Milton Road after the couple secured start-up funding from NatWest. It aims to introduce a new generation of Indian and Indo-Chinese dishes to the vegetarian community, including the town’s large Sikh population, reports Kent Online. Jaspreet Lalli said: “We believe the vegetarian community in Kent has been crying out for a restaurant like this. Vegetarianism is an increasingly popular lifestyle choice in the UK and yet there are no restaurants of this type within an hour’s drive. The growing Asian community in the Milton area of Gravesend means there is a demand for pure, freshly prepared, trustworthy vegetarian food. One of our primary aims is to appeal to families to come and spend some quality time together in a friendly environment. We warmly invite all customers, whether you’re stopping by for a hot drink or dining with us.”

Itsu opens its fourth regional store: Itsu, led by Pret A Manger founder Julian Metcalfe, has opened its fourth site outside of London, this time located in Cambridge. The brand opened in the former Austin Reed shop on Sidney Street, next door to Jack Wills and Next – just a month after Japanese fast food chain Wasabi came to Cambridge. Said Takhamt, director of development at Itsu, said: “We’re delighted to be opening in Cambridge. We chose to bring our ‘eat beautiful’ menu to Cambridge as the city’s bustling and innovative culture fits perfectly with our own. We’re looking forward to bringing our light, green and good for you food to the people of Cambridge, which is freshly prepared in store each day.”

Bedfordshire brewer plans micro-pub: John and Joseph Kearney, who run Red Brewery in Great Staughton alongside their business partner Robert Taylor, have submitted plans to open a micro-pub in Bedford town centre. Set to open in St Peter’s Street on the former site of Russo’s Hairdressing – now located in the High Street – the small establishment promises to bring a country pub feel to the heart of the town. Joseph Kearney said: “As a small brewery, the best way for us to continue is to open our own establishment. Due to our size, instead of taking over an existing pub, we felt that a micro-pub would be much better suited. We wanted to stay away from the drinking culture that tends to flood a lot of towns, and create a calmer environment for people who want to enjoy and savour their drinks.”

Burger & Lobster unveils opening date for Manchester site: Burger & Lobster is to open in Manchester on Friday 7 August, Manchester confidential has reported. The 200-cover restaurant will be the Russian-owned chain’s 12th and will occupy the back end of Ship Canal House on Brown Street – just off King Street. Burger & Lobster will be running a series of trail runs from 4-6 August. Meanwhile, Ed’s Easy Diner has decided against opening in Manchester’s King Street with its proposed site back on the market with a rent of £160,000 per annum.

BBPA tells parliamentary inquiry pubs paying £500m more a year in business rates than they should: The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has told a parliamentary inquiry that pubs are paying £500m more a year in business rates than they should. BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds said the figure equates to an additional 13p per pint. She also urged members of the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group inquiry into the business rates burden on pubs to consider extending Small Business Rate Relief to more pubs by increasing the current threshold to at least £18,000 rateable value. William Robinson, managing director of the pubs division of Frederic Robinson and chairman of the BBPA property panel, told the inquiry rates payable at the 300 pubs owned by Robinson’s had increased 19.5% between 2008 and 2015 – a rise of £580,000, or £2,000 per pub. The inquiry, chaired by All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group chairman Andrew Griffiths MP, also heard evidence from BII chairman Anthony Pender while Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers chief executive Kate Nicholls will be writing to the chancellor with its findings in due course.

Casual Dining Group upgrades training platform in partnership with CPL: Casual Dining Group (CDG), whose high street restaurant brands include Bella Italia, Café Rouge and Belgo, has transformed its employee training and development with the introduction of a new training platform, created by CPL Online. The restaurant operator has rolled out a company-wide online training console, also known as a learner management system, making it available to all CDG’s 6,000 employees via not only desktops but also mobile devices. CDG is the first client of CPL Online to opt to go 100% HTML5 and truly embrace mobile learning. Custom made by CPL Online, the leading provider of e-learning and bespoke business systems for the hospitality sector, the console manages the administration, documentation, tracking, reporting a delivery of e-learning courses and training programmes. The console hosts a company centric induction course as well as brand specific inductions for all new employees in a series of bite-sized training sessions taking less than ten minutes. The brand specific induction courses are compulsory for employees, however there is the option for employees to complete the various other CDG brand training modules. CPL Online has also developed a new bespoke authorisation tool for CDG. This tool allows employees to complete tasks designed to improve their knowledge and skill set. In order for the task to be marked as completed the user must complete actions such as watching video clips or reading assigned documents. The console which is now live, took just two months to develop and introduce thanks to CDG’s “clear vision and goals”. Additional features such as an appraisal system and a career pathway online structure are due to be rolled out over the summer. “We have been impressed with Casual Dining Group’s approach to employee development,” said David Dasher, CPL Online’s managing director. “They knew exactly what they wanted to achieve and have been swift in delivering it across their business. CDG are the first to use HTML5 technology across the board, enabling them to truly embrace mobile learning. This stands them ahead of competitors, and makes training more accessible for its employees.”

Heineken appoints UK marketing director as new managing director in China: Heineken has appointed its UK marketing director Jacco van der Linden as its new managing director in China. The company said van der Linden, who joined the UK business in January 2012 from Heineken’s Nigerian operating company, would take up his new role in mid-August. Heineken’s UK managing director David Forde, said: “His appointment is a reflection of his achievements over the last three-and-a-half years, and contribution to the wider success of our UK business. Under his marketing leadership, Heineken has strengthened its UK cider and beer portfolios, significantly increased our innovation programme and transformed our customer marketing organisation.” Heineken will announce van der Linden’s successor in the UK in due course.

Newry is the fast food capital of Northern Ireland: Newry is the fast food capital of Northern Ireland with the highest number of restaurants for its population, a new study has found. By comparing the number of outlets to the population, it revealed Newry was the main fast food hotspot. It had six restaurants – averaging 0.30 stores per 1,000 people. That included three Subways, one Domino’s, two Costa Coffees, one KFC, one Burger King and a McDonald’s for a population of just under 30,000. Unsurprisingly, Belfast, with about 334,000 inhabitants, had the highest overall number of fast food restaurants with a total of 55. A breakdown showed there are nine KFCs, five McDonald’s, five Burger Kings, four Domino’s, four Costa Coffees and 28 Subway stores.

New cinema part of revised plans submitted for £30m development in Stratford-upon-Avon: Investment firm UK & European has submitted revised plans for a £30m development in Stratford-Upon-Avon in Warwickshire, which include a new cinema. The company is looking to redevelop Stratford Town Square with over 70,000 sq ft of retail, restaurant and leisure space, which now includes a four screen Everyman cinema as well as outdoor seating, new lighting and space for events, reports Property Week. John Stacey, asset management director at UK & European, said: “For many years, Town Square has been an under-used part of Stratford. There is now a clear window of opportunity to take forward this important regeneration project. Our revised proposals significantly improve upon the existing planning consent that was granted in early 2014 and, following our deal with Everyman, we are in a strong position to implement our exciting plans for Town Square. We believe that our proposals will create a high quality, well managed environment where both local residents and visitors to Stratford-upon-Avon can shop, eat, drink and enjoy their leisure time.” UK & European, which bought the site at the end of last year, would rename the development Bell Court and re-install the 14th century bell that was previously hung at the site. If planning approval is granted, construction will start later this year and Bell Court will open to the public in mid-2017. UK & European owns the lease to Stratford Town Square; two thirds of which is owned by Stratford District Council and one third by Stratford Town Trust.

Great Northern Inns set to open third Copper cafe bar in Nottingham: Great Northern Inns is set to open its third site under its cafe bar brand Copper in Nottingham. The company is converting the former Reflex 1980s bar on the corner of Upper Parliament Street and Market Street, creating about 30 jobs. Antony Wilson will be the general manager of the new venue, and is also a partner in Copper City, which comes under the Great Northern Inns umbrella. David Willans, a director of Great Northern Inns, told the Nottingham Post: “It’s taken many months of negotiations so we’re extremely excited to be able to progress with our plans and crack on with the refurbishment to create a fantastic city centre venue to add to the Copper portfolio.” Prior to being Reflex, which closed about two years ago, the venue was O’Neill’s, Café Royale and before that it was originally a Martins bank, which opened in 1932.

Domino’s applies to open site in Harwich: Domino’s has lodged plans to open a site in Harwich in Essex. The company has submitted an application to Tendring Council to become the new tenants on part of the former Bonmarche clothes shop at Harwich Gateway Retail Park. The venue, which would create up to 25 jobs, would have a seating area for diners as well as takeaway facilities, reports the Harwich and Maningtree Standard. Tendring Council had previously granted permission for the shop to be split in two and Costa Coffee opened a store on the site last month.

CG Restaurants & Bars opens seventh Dirty Martini site: London leisure group CG Restaurants & Bars has continued expanding its Dirty Martini bars with its seventh site in Islington. The company has opened the venue at the former XOXO bar and restaurant in Upper Street. The new bar features chic booths, low lighting and asymmetric wall designs and to celebrate the opening ten new cocktails are being offered. They include the peach and wild tea martini, the raspberry and cider apple martini and the pineapple and cardamom martini. The food on offer features chilli crumbed calamari with a lemon and chilli aioli, crispy vegetable dumplings and cucumber ribbons with soy and ginger dressing.

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