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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Wed 29th Jul 2015 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Greene King Leisure Tracker finds 25% of customers want to log on at the pub: Over a quarter of Brits would like to be able to log on from the pub as they look for alternative places to work, according to the latest Greene King Leisure Spend Tracker. The latest Tracker asked people what they would like to see local pubs do and 27% would like facilities to help them work away from the office or home, such as Wi-Fi. The report also found close to two in three British adults (64%) felt the pub was an important economic and social asset to the local community. Just 14% of people thought pubs should do more to contribute to the local community. Fiona Gunn, Greene King’s marketing director, said: “There is no doubt that the pub will always be the watering hole of choice for Brits but the report shows that it can be even more diverse. With flexible working on the rise, increasing numbers of people are now using the pub as a ‘third space’ establishing the pub as not just a second home but a place of work as well.” In June, the average British household spent £214.15 on leisure, up 5% versus the same time last year. Year-on-year, eating out and drinking out increased by 6% and 5% respectively in May while “other leisure” increased 5%.

Industry News:

Red Kiosk Company opens coffee pod in unused phone box in Birmingham opposite Starbucks: Red Kiosk Company, the Brighton-based concept that operates food and drink pods out of unused BT phone, has opened a kiosk in Birmingham. The company has launched the city’s first Red Kiosk Coffee Pod in Eden Place – right opposite Starbucks. The K6 phone booth is one of four next to the Council House that Red Kiosks’ associated charity trust Thinking Outside the Box has secured planning permission to convert into small business units. The new coffee pod is owned and operated by Jake Hollier who as well as selling coffee, tea, hot chocolate, juice and crisps hopes to introduce waffles shortly. He told the Birmingham Mail: “I would love all four phone boxes, selling all sorts of on-the-go street food and drinks, the options are endless. The pedestrianised street is perfect for tables and chairs.” Red Kiosk Company and Thinking Outside the Box, which were founded by Edward Ottewell and Steve Beeken, launched the first kiosk in Brighton in June 2014.

US craft beer production up 16% in first half of 2015, 1,755 new breweries are planned: American craft beer production volume rose 16% from January through to the end of June 2015 as compared to the same time last year, according to mid-year data released by the Brewers Association. “Industry growth is occurring in all regions and stemming from a mix of sources including various retail settings and a variety of unique brewery business models,” said Bart Watson, chief economist of the Brewers Association. In terms of barrels, about 12.2 million barrels of beer were sold by craft brewers, up from 10.6 million barrels during the first half of 2014. The Brewers Association reported 3,739 breweries were operating in the US as of June 30, 2015, an increase of 699 breweries over the same time period a year ago. The Brewers Association said another 1,755 breweries are planned. “The continued growth of small and independent brewers illustrates that additional market opportunities and demand are prevalent, although competition in the sector is certainly growing and the need for brewers to differentiate and produce world-class, high-quality beer is more important than ever,” Watson added.

RAI warns of ‘crisis’ in shortage of chefs in Ireland, investment in training urgently needed: The Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI) has warned there is now a “crisis” in the shortage of chefs in the country and an investment in training is urgently needed. It said some 5,000 new chefs are required each year by 2020 to meet the demand but the sector is suffering a severe skills shortage that is threatening the hospitality industry. The RAI has also called for CERT, the agency responsible for providing a trained workforce for the hotel, catering and tourism industry that was closed in 2003, to be re-established. A lack of commis chefs feeds into shortages at higher and specialist levels, the organisation said, and many of those applying for chef positions are not appropriately qualified. It is calling for ten new chef training centres to address the fact 1,800 chefs qualify each year leaving a deficit of about 5,000 chef trainees. RAI chief executive Adrian Cummins said: “We want to be able to market Ireland as a centre of food excellence, a true culinary experience with world-class chefs leading the way. Instead, we are finding ourselves in a position where we have a severe shortage of chefs in Ireland which is now threatening growth and expansion in the restaurant sector.” The RAI, which was formed in 1970, represents more than 1,400 members.

New York backs $15 an hour for fast food workers: New York has approved new laws that will raise the minimum wage for fast food workers to $15 (£9.67). The state wage board passed proposals that will increase the pay of restaurant staff by 71% from the current $8.75 (£5.64) an hour. The move represents a victory for 200,000 workers who will benefit. But the restaurant industry warned of job losses and said some businesses would have to put up prices while some would be forced to close entirely. The measure will now be sent to New York governor Andrew Cuomo’s labour commission, but its approval is expected to be a formality as he backs the proposal. The wage hike will apply to workers in restaurants that have 30 or more locations around the US. It will be phased in over three years in New York City and six years elsewhere, but will not apply to workers in other low-paid industries in the state, who will still be on a minimum $8.75 an hour.

Company News:

Wagamama outsources IT support to prepare for expansion: Wagamama has outsourced its operational IT function to technology firm Wanstor. Richard Tallboy, director of business development at Wagamama, said: “Our teams had dozens of services and systems to support and different numbers to call, all going to third party support desks, depending on the fault. Once logged, the calls needed to be tracked and managed. The vision for Wagamama was to have a single point of contact for a restaurant IT support desk that provided support, monitoring and ownership, from the initial fault to the final resolution whilst at the same time meeting the key business objective of achieving ‘excellence in restaurant and head office IT support services’. Wagamama has a busy period of development ahead and needed to add scale to the service team in order to support this. For the senior team at Wagamama, quality of service was of paramount importance. It was also important that a process of continual improvement was in operation that not only resolved issues as they arose, but looked into why problems manifested themselves and sought to avoid future repetition. Wagamama relies on technology to help deliver a positive experience to our customers. As such, it was vital that we partnered with an organisation that had an in-depth understanding of the hospitality industry and which had the right people, systems and processes in place to help us meet our customers’ demands. Our new fully outsourced restaurant IT support model will help Wagamama continue to set ourselves apart at a time when we are looking to focus on growing our business.”

Enterprise Inns chairman buys 160,000 more shares: Enterprise Inns chairman Robert Walker purchased more shares in the company last week, one day after Numis Securities upgraded the stock as it expects the new strategy to enhance the level and quality of earnings from 2017. Walker bought 160,000 shares at the British leased and tenanted pub company for an individual price of 123.5p, spending a total of £197,600. Following the transaction, the chairman holds 435,000 shares in the company, which represent 0.09% of its issued shares. Numis said on Wednesday the group’s new strategy should have a “substantial long-term impact on its earnings composition, even if the impact on earnings is likely to be limited over the next two years”.

Novus Leisure relaunches two London sites: Premium bar operator Novus Leisure has relaunched two new sites in the heart of London. The 300-capacity Fifty9, formerly known as Babble, is located in Berkeley Square, Mayfair. With a focus on premium drinks and late night dancing, Fifty9 is split across two floors, with a bar on the ground floor and a club in the basement. A classic sharing menu has been introduced at Fifty9, with a cheese and charcuterie collection alongside a homemade pizzetta and grilled sandwich range, satisfying both day and night customers. Meanwhile, PI Bar, located just off Piccadilly Circus, is situated on the ground floor in Novus Leisure’s five bar, two club venue; Piccadilly Institute. PI Bar, which has a capacity of 60, replaces what has been a coffee shop for the past few years, but has now been transformed into a modern space, with warm tones, industrial style elements and neon lighting. Toby Smith, chief executive of Novus Leisure, said: “Our 2015 investment programme has been extremely successful so far and we’re proud to introduce the new Fifty9 and PI Bar to our portfolio. We know that at the heart of these refurbishments has to be great customer service. Our teams have therefore undergone extensive training to maintain our service values, whilst also learning to continue to surpass the expectations of our customers. It is important to us that our teams are bursting with personalities, with storytellers who are knowledgeable, attentive and passionate about what they do.”

Burger King like-for-like growth the best in nearly a decade: Like-for-likes increased 6.7 % at Burger King in the second quarter in the chain’s best quarterly performance in nearly a decade, parent company Restaurant Brands International (RBI) said on Monday. Those results include 7.9% like-for-like sales growth in the US and Canada, the best for the brand in nine years, RBI chief executive Daniel Schwartz said. He added the sales strength comes from a four-pillar plan involving improvements in the company’s menu, marketing, operations and reimaging. “We’re seeing strength across multiple day-parts,” Schwartz said. “We really attribute this to our four-pillars plan, and driving consistent execution on that plan.”

Teesside-based Chilli Cake Deli opens third site in Hartlepool: Teesside-based Chilli Cake Deli opened its third site in Hartlepool yesterday (Tuesday, 28 July). The company, owned by James Stoker, has opened the venue in Upper Church Street, which also has an alcohol licence. The deli, which is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10.30am-4.30pm, serves sandwiches, paninis, salads and cakes as well as fresh pressed juices and smoothies. Stoker told Gazette Live he is planning on opening for evenings from next month. He said: “We’re going to be selling craft ales and good wine as well as having a cocktail menu. We want people to see Chilli Cake as a place to start their night out. It’s a great location in Hartlepool – there’s a lot of regeneration going on in the area which we’re hoping we’ll see the benefit of too.” Chilli Cake’s original site is in Baker Street in Middlesbrough and it opened its second venue in Middlehaven last year.

Soho Coffee Co expands leisure centre presence: Soho Coffee Co has expanded its presence at leisure centres with an opening at Yate Leisure Centre. The coffee shop has previously opened in Bradley Stoke Leisure Centre and also opened a coffee pod at Longwell Green. The Cheltenham-based company’s arrival in Yate is part of an ongoing programme of improvements at Active leisure centres across south Gloucestershire. The coffee chain has created a protein shakes menu to cater for fitness enthusiast customers, as well as salads and a lighter food range alongside its usual fare. Ben Beasley, director of commercial development at Circadian Trust, the not-for-profit organisation that runs the Active facilities, said: “We are always looking for ways to improve the leisure centre facilities and add to the customer experience. Soho Coffee has done a fantastic job in Bradley Stoke and we are sure the Yate community will equally enjoy the new facilities.”

Bridgehouse Brewery reopens Airedale Heifer pub in West Yorkshire after £450,000 refurbishment with new brewery set to follow: Bridgehouse Brewery has reopened its Airedale Heifer pub in Sandbeds, West Yorkshire, after a £450,000 refurbishment – with its new brewery behind the building set to follow. The pub in Bradford Road has undergone a major transformation while work is continuing on the new brewery that will allow an increase in production of about 50% on current capacity. The overall project is creating 30 jobs. Customers at the pub will be able to see the beer being brewed in the brewery once it opens via a video link while they sit and enjoy a drink at the bar. The brewery has hired award-winning chef Stephanie Moon, who has worked at The Dorchester in London, who has created a themed menu that will include many dishes incorporating its range of ales, and it will also begin producing cider, to be served from oak casks. At the front of the grade II-listed building is a specially commissioned galvanised-wire sculpture of the Airedale Heifer cow that has been produced by Yorkshire sculptor Emma Stothard. Brewery sales and marketing co-ordinator James Kelly told the Bradford Telegraph and Argus: “We hope the pub will become a focal point for the community and we have plenty of exciting plans lined up for the coming months.” The Bridgehouse Brewery was founded in 2010 and merged with the Old Bear Brewery in Keighley in 2014, at whose premises its beers are currently brewed.

Former Deltic Group Oceania site in Swansea to be demolished: Demolition of the former Swansea nightclub Oceana is set to begin in October. Swansea Council will invite shortlisted contractors to submit final tenders for a scheme to demolish the 48-year-old building. The 27-week demolition project is scheduled to start by the end of October this year. The council bought the site in May as the first step of a plan aimed at transforming the city’s Kingsway into an employment district. The building, originally constructed by the Rank Organisation in 1967 for a cinema, has been home to a number of bars and nightclubs over the years, including Ritzy and Icon, Time and Envy, and Oceana.

BrewDog wins planning consent for off-licence in Edinburgh: BrewDog has won planning consent to open a BrewDog off-licence in Edinburgh’s Dundas Street. Promising “a new take on the bottle shop concept”, the venture, called BottleDog, would feature such innovations as tastings and educational events. Company bosses even wanted to host live music in a bid to draw as many customers in as possible. The plans initially drew a furious response from locals, who branded them “detrimental to health” amid fears over noise and antisocial behaviour. A spokeswoman for BrewDog said: “We’re so pleased that common sense has prevailed and are excited to open our next BottleDog in Edinburgh.”

Bettys appoints Search Laboratory to provide search engine marketing: Bettys, the Harrogate-based tea room brand owned by Betty & Taylors Group, has brought in Leeds-based Search Laboratory to provide search engine marketing. The company has asked Search Laboratory to raise the digital profile of its Bettys mail order business offering, which sells many of the products served in the tea rooms. Bettys chose to work with Search Laboratory as a result of the agency’s “ethical yet results-driven approach to PR for SEO and content marketing”, reports Prolific North. Rory Mason, who is leading the campaign as account manager at Search Laboratory, said: “It’s a dream to be able to work with such a well-known company as Bettys. I’ve been going to the tea rooms since I was a boy and I know the whole team can’t wait to help them expand and develop its online offering.” Search Laboratory’s appointment comes following a competitive pitch process.

BB’s Coffee and Muffins to open first site since Brentwood Investments takeover: BB’s Coffee and Muffins is to open its first site since being taken over by financial company Brentwood Investments earlier this year – this site in located in Kings Lynn, Norfolk. The company is opening a venue at the Vancouver Quarter Shopping Centre in Broad Street on Wednesday, August 12, creating ten jobs. As well as serving coffee and muffins, which are made and baked on site every day, the shop will sell baguettes, breakfast rolls bloomer sandwiches, a variety of pastries and pasties and its newly launched summer drinks range. Vancouver Quarter Centre manager Abbi Panks told the Lynn News: “BB’s is a fantastic company known for its great products, design and customer interaction. We are delighted to be showcasing one of their newly-styled cafes, they will be a welcome addition to the town.” The company, which has more than 50 coffee shops across the UK and Ireland, was bought by Brentwood Investments from businessman Denis O’Brien earlier this year for about €10m.

Zizzi and CAU set to open as part of Birmingham development: Two restaurant brands are set to open in new units being built in Brindleyplace in Birmingham. Italian restaurant Zizzi and CAU, the South American brand owned by Gaucho, are due to open as part of a development on the ground floor of office block Three Brindleyplace. It would be CAU’s first site in the Midlands and both restaurants are due to open in autumn 2016. The redevelopment includes the installation of new dedicated entrances and creation of outside seating areas. Talks are also underway to attract a third tenant to occupy the rear of the building overlooking the canal, reports the Birmingham Mail. Existing tenants on the ground floor would be transferred to an alternative space within the building. CAU has 13 sites nationwide, mostly in the south east, while Zizzi is already set to open a new restaurant in Birmingham having submitted plans for a 132-cover venue in the former ABC cinema in New Street.

Krispy Kreme opens first store in Leeds city centre: Krispy Kreme opened its first store in Leeds city centre yesterday (Tuesday, 28 July) – its fourth in Yorkshire. The company has opened a venue at Trinity Leeds shopping centre with doughnuts being supplied from Krispy Kreme’s nearby Hotlight store at Birstall Shopping Park. Krispy Kreme chief marketing officer Judith Denby said: “We were excited to bring Krispy Kreme to Trinity Leeds as it is a great location for the store. We’re looking forward to welcoming even more shoppers in for fresh doughnuts and coffee.” Marketing manager at Trinity Leeds Paul Smith added: “Krispy Kreme choosing to open a store in Trinity Leeds is a testament to our ongoing success and commitment in diversifying the retail and food and drink offering in the city.”

Chimichanga set to be first restaurant brand to open in Chester’s new city centre dining quarter: Tex Mex restaurant Chimichanga, which is owned by Prezzo, is set to be the first brand to open in Chester’s new city centre dining quarter. Chimichanga is due to open on Wednesday, August 12, creating 20 jobs, and will be one of four new eateries in the Pepper Street complex. The company has spent £600,000 on the restaurant, which can seat up to 180 guests and includes an external terrace and small balcony overlooking Pepper Street. It has been designed to reflect the vibrancy of Mexico and its contemporary street culture. Texas is also reflected in the decor, with one wall clad in double height back-lit saloon style doors, a distressed leather clad bar front and cowhide fabrics. Restaurant manager Mark Finlay told the Chester Chronicle: “We are looking forward to opening in Chester and believe the restaurant will appeal to a wide range of people and be a great addition to the city’s social scene.” The development is also set to house South American-inspired restaurant Las Iguanas, which is owned by Casual Dining Group, American-themed bar and eatery Coast to Coast and Individual Restaurants’ The Restaurant Bar & Grill.

Restaurateur Terry Laybourne consults on Fenwick’s restaurant plan: Prominent north east restaurateur Terry Laybourne is involved in a new Mediterranean wine bar and restaurant set to open in Newcastle department store Fenwick. The firm recently announced plans for a multi-million pound revamp of its food hall which will see the addition of several new eateries including a seafood and oyster bar and South East Asian street food outlet. The firm has now announced plans to open Fuego Bar and Restaurant this September as part of the department’s makeover. The menu for the 70-cover restaurant has been influenced by the food hall’s focus on charcuterie, cheese and delicatessen as well as the popularity of its wine selection. The concept and menu have been created by Fenwick executive chef Kelly Richardson, supported by prominent north east restaurateur Terry Laybourne of the 21 Hospitality Group, who has acted as consultant on the project.

Harry Ramsden’s campervan to tour seaside resorts: Harry Ramden’s mascot Harry the Haddock will be travelling across the country in a fully branded Harry Ramsden’s campervan this summer. Kicking off in Bournemouth on Friday, where Harry’s boasts the world’s largest fish and chip restaurant, the Harry’s campervan will travel almost 700 miles on “Route Chip to Chip”, making stops in Eastbourne, Great Yarmouth, Scarborough, Blackpool, Worthing and Brighton before returning to Bournemouth at the end of August. Joe Teixeira, chief executive of Harry Ramsden’s, said: “With more and more families continuing to holiday in the UK, summer is undeniably the season when we record our highest footfall levels so it is the ideal time for us as a brand to get ‘up close and personal’ with our customers. Our #lovesummer campaign, and ‘Route Chip to Chip’ specifically, offers us the ideal opportunity to further engage with our customers face to face and add some extra fun to their summer break.” Harry Ramsden’s #lovesummer will also be complemented off and online with exclusive competitions, offers and giveaways to ensure that all customers can take part in the campaign.

Enterprise reopens Tolkien pub after £200,000 refurbishment: An historic Cotswolds inn, famed for having been visited frequently by JRR Tolkien, has reopened following a £200,000 investment by Enterprise Inns and publicans, John and Deborah Longbottom. The Bell Inn, Moreton-in-Marsh – which is said to have inspired the author’s Prancing Pony pub in The Lord of the Rings – has undergone a major refurbishment. The 200-year-old coaching inn is a new venture for the husband and wife team. John Longbottom, who has worked in the leisure industry for 35 years, said: “A significant amount has been spent on refurbishing The Bell, in the main pub area, the rooms and cottage, and outside in the garden and courtyard. We’ve got a range of cask ales and have produced a whole new menu, which will feature home-cooked dishes, presented in an imaginative way. Both chefs are from local establishments, and have helped us develop a great children’s menu too.” The site has five rooms to let, in addition to a self-catering cottage.

Papa’s Fish and Chips set to open flagship site in East Yorkshire today: Papa’s Fish and Chips is set to launch its flagship restaurant in Willerby, East Yorkshire, today (Wednesday, July 29). The company is opening the venue on the site of Woody’s Bar And Grill in Great Gutter Lane East, creating 40 jobs. Owner Sid Papas bought the site for £1m and has spent another £250,000 on refurbishment work for the 280-seater restaurant – the company’s first in East Yorkshire. A museum about the UK’s favourite dish that features a traditional chip shop to give guests an insight into the origins of the trade is opening alongside the restaurant in the near 10,000 sq ft building. Papas previously told the Hull Daily Mail: “It’s going to be quite a big deal, hopefully, and people should be coming to the museum from miles around. With Hull being UK City of Culture 2017, and with it being a historic fishing port, it just made sense for it to have our biggest restaurant as well. The museum will look amazing.” The restaurant will focus on traditional battered fish and chips, but there will also be prawns, mussels and grilled seafood on offer. Famous Hull patties will also be sold. Papa’s produces batter to a “secret” recipe developed in 1973 and said it uses only regional produce and sustainable fish. The family-owned company, which was founded in 1966 in Margate, Kent, has about 15 restaurants nationwide.

Glee Hospitality Solutions hires Stefan Dragomir as operations director: Dubai-based Glee Hospitality Solutions, a leading hospitality consultant and operator, has appointed Stefan Dragomir as its new operations director. The appointment is a step towards revamping the growth strategies in order to cater to a larger set of consumers in the region, said a statement from Glee Hospitality Solutions. In previous roles, Dragomir has worked in five different countries and comes with an experience of over 15 years in the hospitality industry. He has also been part of projects with JW Marriott, Hard Rock Café, TGI Friday’s, Burj al Arab, and Carluccio’s. Abdul Kader Saadi, the managing director, said: “We welcome Dragomir to our team as we plan a major overhaul in developing, implementing and monitoring training programmes across brands. We are excited about the food and beverage market in the region and strengthening our team with experience will intensify opportunities for us,” he added.

Douglas Jack – we expect a tough third quarter at Enterprise Inns: Numis Securities leisure analyst Douglas Jack has issued a ‘Buy’ recommendation on Enterprise Inns shares, with 160p price target, ahead of quarter three results on Thursday, 6 August. He said: “In half one, like-for-like net income rose 0.6%, but we expect it to be flat in quarter three due to tough World Cup-related comparables. We expect to hold our forecasts, which assume 0.3% like-for-like net income over FY2015E. Enterprise’s new strategy is ambitious, targeting the development of 750-850 managed pubs, building a commercial property estate of 900-1,000 outlets and selling circa 1,000 tail-end leased pubs by September 2020. Here, we believe the greatest challenge rests in making circa 200 Bermondsey (mainstream) managed pub conversions. It is too early to expect much progress, but this is an area investors are likely to focus on in future updates. With management targeting like-for-like net income growth over the full year, we expect to hold our forecasts (2015E profit before tax £121.4m; consensus £122.7m). Overall, we agree with the company’s new strategy and retain our ‘Buy’ recommendation. Even if the company falls behind in its managed pub conversions, the strategy should undermine the number of Market Rent Only conversions, which should be is primary objective.”

Intu hires Colliers to bring more restaurants to its Norwich shopping centre: Intu has appointed Colliers International as sole catering and leisure agent to market an enhanced casual dining offer at Intu Chapelfield shopping centre in Norwich. Rebecca Ryman, regional director of Intu, said: “Norwich is listed 16th in the CACI retail rankings of retail footprint and retail expenditure. In addition to local residents, many of the shoppers in the city are students or tourists, especially day trippers. This gives great potential to strengthen the choice of restaurants for all visitors to Intu Chapelfield, increasing dwell times and benefiting our retailers and restaurateurs so their businesses can flourish. We are looking forward to working with Colliers International and bringing new names to the city of Norwich.”

TGI Friday’s set to double number of sites in India, revamp country’s existing restaurants: TGI Friday’s has announced plans to double its number of sites in India from 15 to 30 over the next four years. The company’s expansion strategy, which it is investing Rs 85 crore, also includes revamping the layout and appearance of its existing restaurants in the country. TGI Friday’s India chief executive Rohan Jetley told the Deccan Herald it would continue to focus opening in large cities. He added: “Our restaurants are a combination of high street, standalone and mall formats in the areas of 4,000-8,000 sq ft, and will continue to remain so.” TGI Friday’s will also revamp its existing restaurants over the next three years with its venues in Chennai and Hyderabad already carrying the new look. Jetley added: “There are three principles behind the new design. First, the bar has been placed in the centre, secondly, we’ve incorporated a live kitchen, along with an open wood fire pizza oven, and lastly, we’ve integrated multiple customised dining levels. Being a traditional American-style restaurant, our interior decor was largely akin to the 1950s USA. But we’ve grown into a more contemporary restaurant chain, needing an urbanised adult-oriented, sophisticated and dynamic decor, reflecting a modern Manhattan, New York sort of character.”

Nick Batram – we expect Domino’s shares to continue upward surge: Peel Hunt leisure analyst Nick Batram has forecast a continued upward momentum in Domino’s share price after impressive first half results. He said: “Domino’s Pizza delivered a highly impressive half one set of results against tough comparables. The UK achieved circa 10% like-for-likes and grew system sales to £427m, driven by 7% volume growth and 3% basket size. Ebitda margins grew to 15% (previous year 12.9%) from head office efficiencies and benign food costs. The group increased the dividend +15% to 9p and ended the period with net cash of £19m. The shares have surged +19% year-to-date and we expect the stock to continue to re-rate following this positive set of results. We put our forecast and target price under review following the strong half one. App downloads and mobile ordering helped drive the UK business. The investment in e-commerce initiatives and marketing helped drive mobile revenue with sales via the app greater than desktop sales. Circa 77% of all sales come from a digital format in the UK. System sales growth of £427m was driven by +7% volumes and circa 3% basket size as a result of the bundling offering and better upselling to customers. The Group is largely insulated from rising admin costs such as minimum wages and rental inflation, but equally has not seen a detrimental sentiment from franchisees who continue to invest in stores. The group opened 21 stores in the half (half year 2014: eight) and the benign food environment allows the Group to pass on head office costs, this along with strong average weekly unit sales growth (+12%), helps prove the success of the franchise and affirm the circa 50 store opening target for FY15. Margins rose to 15% from circa 13% as a result of head office efficiencies and franchisees driving upsell; pizza volumes +6%, sides +8%, and drinks/deserts +24%/+43% from half year 2014.”

Former Deltic Group managers to open Crawley nightclub with shiska smoking area: Two former managers of Deltic Group’s Crawley nightclub are to open the 700-capacity Six Degrees nightclub and cocktail bar on the site of the former JJ Whispers in the High Street. The venue is going to open next month with a dedicated cocktail bar and shiska smoking area separate to the nightclub. It is being run by Adam Foxley and Kieran Laville, who previously worked together managing Deltic Group’s Moka in Station Way. Foxley said: “We considered a few names for the nightclub but Six Degrees clicked instantly. It is linked to the phrase ‘six degrees of separation’ because Crawley is a town where everyone knows each other or at least knows a friend of a friend. We are Crawley people at heart and want this venue to be the best place for the people living here to go to on a night out.” Laville said: “When customers arrive there will be a cocktail bar at the front. That area was there at JJ Whispers but we don’t think the owners made full use of it then.”

Technomic and Propel partner for UK and US foodservice trends and direction conference: Insights and research firm Technomic is partnering Propel for a full-day conference looking at UK and US foodservice trends and perspectives. The event is on Friday, 18 September at One Moorgate Place in London and attendees will also get a free copy of Technomic’s Top 500 US Chain Restaurant Report and the UK’s leading 100 foodservice brands worth a combined £800. Technomic’s vice-president Dave Henkes will give an industry update on UK foodservice and compare it with the US as well as providing forecasts and beverage trends in both markets. Fellow vice-president Darren Tristano will examine best practice in menu, concept and service among growth concepts as well as looking at consumer demands. Technomic’s Patrick Noone will provide insights on current UK trending menu flavours and preparations and consumer priorities and attitudes. Paul Damico, group president of Focus Brands – which operates several fast-food concepts in the US including Schlotzsky’s Bakery & Café and Moe’s Southwest Grill – will share best practices around creating a unique positioning, culture and growth strategy. Propel managing director Paul Charity will also lead a discussion of senior executives about current consumer trends, menu and beverage trends. Those taking part are: Jon Yantin, commercial director of the ONE Group, Chris Gerard, founder of Innventure, James Nye, managing director of Anglian Country Inns and Ben Levick, director of operations, TCG Group. Tickets are priced at the two-week early-bird rate of £295 plus VAT for operators and £495 plus VAT for suppliers and are available by emailing

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