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Thu 30th Jul 2015 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Loungers on track to hit 100 sites by end of 2016 with 66th opening: Loungers, the Piper Private Equity-backed cafe/bar group expects to open 34 more sites in the next 17 months to hit 100 by the end of 2016. It has reached 66 sites with the opening of Unico Lounge in Wilmslow earlier in the month closely followed by Pato Lounge in Orpington, which opened yesterday (Wednesday, 29 July). The group has invested £1.2m in the two Lounge openings, which are both conversions of former retail units. Unico comprises of 130 covers internally over two floors with a further 50 covers externally on a first floor roof terrace and Pato comprises of 120 covers internally with a further 40 covers externally to the front of the premises. The group is also set to launch its tenth Cosy Club that will open on Thursday 13 August in Manchester’s Corn Exchange following a £1m investment. Nick Collins, Loungers managing director, said: “We’re delighted to open another Lounge in the Manchester area and we expect to open a number of new sites in the north west in the coming months. There are a fair few places like Orpington so we’ll be watching Pato’s performance with interest and with additional Lounge openings this year due in Amersham and Egham we’re beginning to edge ever closer to London.” The group also confirmed three additional sites would open in September with two Lounge openings in Urmston, Greater Manchester and Amersham scheduled as well as the opening of a Cosy Club in Coventry. Further openings for 2015 are scheduled in Clevedon, Newport, Egham and Bournemouth (Cosy Club).

Industry News:

Mitchells & Butlers achieves nil increase on Brighton pub rent – after nine year wait: Mitchells & Butlers has achieved a nil increase on the rent of its Harvester site The Madeira, near Brighton Pier, after waiting since 2006. AG&G’s Anthony Alder said: “I was initially called in by Mitchells & Butlers to represent their interests in a 2006 rent review on The Madeira – a Harvester pub-restaurant in a prominent seafront position near Brighton Pier. It seemed clear to me that, although The Madeira appeared to have an enviable location, many of the surrounding units in the terrace’s retail development were empty and the scheme has had something of a mixed history, making trading conditions far from ideal. Perhaps because of this, the landlord was rather reticent when it came to negotiating the five-yearly rent review and the matter was dragging on. The 2006 review passed and eventually the 2011 rent review came and went too. Faced with the difficulty of reaching an agreement with the landlord, I decided to move things along by referring the matter to a third-party independent expert. This did the trick because a nil increase in rent was agreed for both 2006 and 2011.”

VisitEngland – domestic tourism hits record-breaking high: Domestic tourism figures hit a record-breaking high in the first quarter of the year, according to a report from VisitEngland. The Great Britain Tourism Survey showed 28.7 million trips were recorded in England between January and April. This is an 18% increase year-on-year and represents the highest number of trips recorded in the period since the survey began in 2006. Spending was 18% up on 2014, to almost £5bn. The number of holidays taken in the first four months also beat records, being the highest rise since 2012, at 7%. Meanwhile, April saw the number of domestic overnight trips rise for the fourth consecutive month, with a 10% increase to nine million trips and a 5% lift in spending to £1.5bn.

Host of industry firms take part in Live Your Life Day: A host of sector businesses are taking part in Live Your Life Day today (Thursday, 30 July) in memory of Franca Knowles, the late wife of Beds and Bars chief executive Keith Knowles. Knowles told Propel: “I’m really touched by the number of industry colleagues who are participating in Live Your Life Day in one way or another. I’m not sure there is another industry that compares in terms of the amount we do for good causes. I started to make a list of all the wonderful people and companies that are backing this initiative and frankly, it’s pretty much all-inclusive. Everyone I know is right behind what we’re doing. We are overwhelmed by the fantastic support and feel so very grateful. Our industry is doing something that I don’t see happening anywhere else, in any other sector. Live Your Life Day underscores what fabulous work our industry does for charity and good causes. It’s the reason why we set up PubAid to highlight the £100m+ that’s raised in pubs for charity every year. Live Your Life Day takes things to a whole new level; we have started something which we hope will continue to grow into the future for many years to come.”

More than 30 US states now voted to raise the minimum wage: More than 30 US states have now voted to increase the $7.25 federal level minimum wage – Missouri voted in a $13-an-hour minimum wage earlier this month and New York has now backed a $15-an-hour minimum wage to be phased in over three years. Melissa Fleischut, chief executive of the New York State Restaurant Association, said it was “an extremist policy that will force business owners in this low-profit-margin industry to cut hours, lay off employees and use technology to help offset skyrocketing labour costs”.

London’s first Michelin-starred delivery service Supper launching in September: Supper, the first Michelin-starred delivery service delivering food and wine from London’s finest venues, is launching in September. The concept will be using state-of-the-art Japanese bikes featuring bespoke boxes, which are thermally lined through to the containers where the food and drink is placed. The high-tech boxes are kept at a constant temperature, either hot or cold, as needed and each vehicle can hold up enough food to cater for up to 20 people. 19 restaurants in London have already signed up with Supper aiming to have five Michelin-starred restaurants on its books by autumn. These include Michelin-starred Indian restaurants Tamarind and Benares in Mayfair and Ed Baines’ Soho seafood venue Randall & Aubin. Supper is also offering an in-house sommelier service with a curated list of wine, prosecco and champagne available with pairing recommendations for each dish. The service will be available daily from 11am-11pm.

Company News:

Frederic Robinson starts talks on funding for five-year plan to boost profitability: Newly-filed full year accounts for brewer and retailer Frederic Robinson for the year to 31 December 2014 shows a pre-tax profit of £3,574,000 (2013: £3,112,000) after a £2,052,000 profit on property sales (2013: £821,0000). Turnover was £59,552,000, up slightly from £58,624,000 the year before. The company sold 15 underperforming pubs in the year to realise a total of £2.3m to produce the £2m profit over carrying value. “Although there will be further disposals, the number will decrease,” the company stated. Operating profit was £963,000 compared to £2,261,000 the year before. The company produced just over 58,000 barrels, the busiest year for 15 years. The end of the year saw the end of an era with the final 36 gallon barrels being filled with all draughts ale now in kilderkins (18 gallons) or smaller. Robinson’s plans to invest £23m in about 200 of its 300 pubs in the next five years. The company stated: “Despite significant improvements in operations and savings, the operating profit has fallen in 2014 and is only expected to increase once the additional investments in our estate are completed with the implementation of our five-year plan. The current level of profitability and the requirement, as set out in our five-year plan, for significant additional investment in our estate over those five years to increase sales and profitability will require the company to seek external funding. The company has already commenced negotiation for this funding.”

Geraint Williams set to become managing director of Butcombe Brewery: Butcombe Brewery has hired Geraint Williams as its next managing director, taking over from Guy Newell this autumn. Williams will have responsibility for Butcombe’s sales, distribution and brewing operations in the UK. He moves to Butcombe after ten years with Carlsberg UK, where he is currently national account manager with a strong track record in the West Country and south Wales free trade, wholesaling and national accounts business. He is very familiar with Butcombe Brewery and also the Liberation Group’s Channel Island business, having managed the company’s account for the past six years. Mark Crowther, chief executive of Liberation Group which owns Butcombe Brewery, said: “I am very pleased to welcome Geraint into my senior management team, to help us drive forward with our longer term ambitions in the UK. I must also pay tribute to Guy Newell. Guy has made an enormous contribution to Butcombe Brewery and to the wider industry and we wish him well in his retirement.” Earlier this year the company announced the appointment of Stuart Howe as director of brewing.

Drake & Morgan pays tribute to Franca Knowles with ‘random acts of kindness’ day: London premium bar operator Drake & Morgan is to pay tribute to Franca Knowles, the late wife of Beds and Bar chief executive Keith Knowles, by taking part in Live Your Life Day, set up in her memory, by holding a “random acts of kindness” day today (Thursday, 30 July). The company told staff: “Franca was a close friend of (Drake and Morgan founder) Jillian Mclean and a big supporter of Drake & Morgan from the vey beginning. On this day, let’s make a point to perform random acts of kindness to our customers and each other to keep her memory alive. Whether it’s a free coffee for your favourite regular, an extra few squares of brownie, a dessert for a group of girls to share or a bouquet of flower for your colleages, let’s be extra-kind to each other on this day.”

CBRE Investors books profit on Camden freehold pub after rent review: Landlord CBRE Investors has booked a profit on the sale of a Camden freehold, the Monarch, hiring agent AG&G to represent it in a rent review – the resulting jump in rental income meant they were able to sell the freehold for an enhanced price. “The pub is a highly-regarded music venue in an up-and-coming area close to London’s world-famous Camden Market,” explained AG&G’s Anthony Alder. “It’s a thriving, bohemian location that is performing strongly. We were able to show that the strength of the local market justified an increase in rental value from £98,374 to £162,000 per annum. CBRE Investors was then able to sell the freehold off the back of this rise and make itself a substantial profit.”

Jamie Oliver’s aunt and uncle set to open £200,000 seaside-themed cafe in Southend within next fortnight:
Jamie Oliver’s aunt and uncle are set to open a new £200,000 seaside-themed cafe on Southend seafront within the next fortnight. Mary Leggett, Colin Oliver, and his partner, Tina Gibbs, are launching Olivers on the Beach, which will serve some of the celebrity chef’s dishes, in Western Esplanade, Westcliff. The finishing touches are being made to the venue – which is replacing the former KJ’s Kiosk cafe near the Genting Casino – that is being decorated with a seaside theme. Colin Oliver, who has previously run the Chequers Inn in Canewdon, and the Cherry Tree pub in Rochford said the cafe would employ ten to 15 staff. He told the Braintree and Witham Times: “Mary and I are both feeling very excited about it and can’t wait to open. I just think it will be nice to have a new independent on the seafront and some lovely cooking and cuisine.” They are also looking to submit a planning application to expand the cafe with a decking area looking out over the sea in the next three months.

Birmingham Mail – Marston’s new Ebb & Flow pub-cafe brand borrows heavily from Loungers:
The Birmingham Mail newspaper has reviewed Marston’s new Ebb & Flow pub-cafe brand, visiting the site in Solihull. In a review noting the debt to Loungers, the newspaper stated: “Ebb & Flow is a new name quietly conjured up by Marston’s to create a pub-cafe brand, seemingly in the wake of the success of the rival 50-strong Lounge brand from Bristol. There are only two Ebb & Flow public houses at the moment (the other is in Southampton, with two more to follow in Chichester and Sutton Coldfield) so visiting now and passing comment is a chance to shape the future. ‘We look after the ebb, so that you can go with the flow’, goes Ebb & Flow’s blurb. But the big difference is on the inside, where it’s now very reminiscent of the Lounge bar formula, only with less of an urge to clutter the walls with too much tat. As long as you are not expecting a high-end dining experience, this Ebb should let you go with the flow – though it’s worth noting that by using readily available online discount vouchers we could have had a superior, sub-£40 meal at Pizza Express.”

Citigroup issues ‘Buy’ note on Greene King:
Analysts at Citigroup have issued a ‘Buy’ note on Greene King, with a target price of 1,050p on its stock. This would indicate that the analyst believes there is a potential upside of 23.5% from the opening price of 850p. Greene King has a 50-day moving average of 848.86p and the 200-day moving average price is recorded at 824.10p. The one-year high stock price is 856.71p while the year low share price is currently 7.12p.

British Country Inns reports £4,000 of Ebitda: British Country Inns, the EIS company that bought freehold country pubs at the height of the market in 2007, has reported £4,000 of Ebitda in the year to 31 January 2015 after turnover rose 6.5%, an improvement from negative Ebitda of £61,000 the previous year. There was an operating loss of £165,755 compared to £816,159 the year before. The company’s strategy is to sell its smaller pubs – it sold the Three Horseshoes at a small discount to carrying value. Two other sales were aborted and it prove impossible to achieve satisfactory outcome, which means the company still has bank borrowing of £350,000.

Belfast-based US-inspired frozen yoghurt concept Spoon Street set to start expanding: Belfast-based US-inspired frozen yoghurt concept Spoon Street is set to start expanding with its second site in the city with a third also in the pipeline. The company, owned by Katie Waddell and Harry Wang, is due to open its second store in Ann Street next to Little Wing Pizza in September, creating about 15 jobs. The duo is also in talks over a third location for the concept where customers get to pour their own so-called “froyo” with a selection of different flavours and toppings and then plan to roll-out the business to other areas. Waddell told the Belfast Telegraph: “From the outset, it was never just going to be one shop. We wanted to expand from the start. It’s been great, and a lot better than we had initially thought. There was nothing else like it in Northern Ireland. We are hitting this one with a bang and are going above and beyond.” Spoon Street opened its first store in the Ballyhackamore area of east Belfast in October last year.

Cirrus Inns acquires Cotswold site: Cirrus Inns has acquired the 17th century Cotswold inn The Trout at Tadpole Bridge, Bampton, Oxfordshire, in a deal brokered by agent Colliers International. It offers six letting bedrooms alongside berthing for up to six boats along its River Thames frontage. Peter Brunt, a director in Colliers International’s Bristol hotels team, said: “The Trout is a great addition to the Cirrus Inns portfolio, which already includes its flagship; the Admiral Codrington in London’s Chelsea and the King’s Arms in Didmarton, Gloucestershire. With the Thames Path running alongside the property, The Trout stands in some of the most beautiful and historic countryside in England and is handy for exploring the Vale of the White Horse and William Morris’ Kelmscott Manor.”

Revolution launches ‘female-friendly’ brunch menu at 25 sites: Premium bar operator Revolution Bars Group has launched a new brunch menu, with a focus on “fresh, vibrant dishes packed with worthy ingredients”. This new menu is available at 25 Revolution sites nationwide. Customers at Revolution bars in locations such as Brighton, Cambridge, Leeds, Manchester and London can enjoy the 11 new brunch dishes and a selection of cocktails specially created to complement the menu. Key dishes include Avocado Brunch; smashed avocado and poached egg on malted sourdough toast, with vine tomatoes, passion fruit, pomegranate, maple syrup, and dressed pea shoots; and Brunch Club; lemon and garlic chicken breast, streaky bacon, mayo, fresh basil, guacamole, slow roasted tomatoes, and poached egg, between malted sourdough toast. Revolution carried out extensive customer research before launching the menu and identified the trend for simple serves on clean, white plates as crucial to its development. This research found that brunch has a more female demographic, with simple, fresh dishes packed with colour and using worthy, wholesome ingredients, and designed a menu to reflect this. Mark Rush, executive chef for the Revolution brand, said: “This is a big step for us and one that has required considerable operational focus to ensure our teams can meet customer demand for this menu and are confident with our new dishes and their ingredients. We think Revolution is the perfect venue for a relaxed, fresh, chef cooked brunch enjoyed with our selection of fine cocktails and see this as a very significant and important development to our offering.”

Douglas Jack – there’s no catalyst for M&B shares:
Numis Securities leisure analyst Douglas Jack has held his forecasts on Mitchells & Butlers after yesterday’s (Wednesday, July 29) trading update – he has a 450p target price and a ‘Hold’ recommendation on the shares. He said: “Like-for-like sales rose 0.8% (food 2.5%; drink -1.0%) in quarter three and are up 1.3% after 43 weeks. Comparatives have been soft, and will remain so in quarter four. Following recent 2016E and 2017E downgrades to reflect the National Living Wage, we are holding our forecasts. There should be medium-term upside if the company’s operational efforts gain traction, but there is no immediate catalyst, in our view. Ebit margins fell 67bps in half one and are still down year-to-date. This is due to initial dilution from the Orchid acquisition and food growth being driven by volume. Our forecast of 20bps margin growth in half two reflects easier like-for-like sales comparables (0.1% in quarter four) and easing cost pressure. Previous guidance was for the National Living Wage to take over £30m off profit before tax in 2017E, based on a 5% increase in all outlet-level labour costs, with no offsetting benefit from labour scheduling and increasing consumer cash flow. The company is now stating that it is ‘assessing a wide range of options to mitigate the impact’, but it claims it is still not in a position to say how much mitigation there will be. M&B has a high quality managed estate, which is currently valued on a price-earnings ratio of 11.3x and an EV/Ebitda of 9.3x. The EV/Ebitda would be 8.1x if the pension deficit (equivalent to £1.20/share) did not exist, a scenario that could emerge if interest rates rise. We believe there should now be limited downside risk to forecasts and valuation, but it is likely that investors will have to continue to be patient if they are waiting for a positive catalyst (such as a resumption in dividends).”

Marston’s set to build 27-bedroom hotel next to pub in Llanelli: Marston’s is set to build a new 27-bedroom hotel next to its Sessile Oak pub in Llanelli in Wales. Construction on the hotel, which is expected to create up to 15 jobs, is due to start in September before opening in February next year. The project will centre on land next to the pub in Parc Pemberton, which is close to the stadium of rugby team Scarlets. Sessile Oak general manager Alex Budge told the South Wales Evening Post: “We’re excited for the development of our new lodge to begin and we’re confident that it will appeal to visitors to Llanelli, especially during the busier match days at the Scarlets.” Planning permission was given for the hotel and pub in 2013, but due to various factors, only the pub was built at the time.

Admiral Taverns launches training plan to develop its top licensees: Community pub group Admiral Taverns has unveiled a new development programme for its top licensees, to help them further build and drive the profitability of their pub businesses. The Advanced Business Development Programme (ABDP) is targeted at Admiral’s leading licensees, who are typically at least 12-18 months into their relationship with the award-winning tenanted pub group, and are operating established and successful pubs. The initiative is designed to address the challenge of how successful licensees unlock further sales or profit growth from what may already be a high quality business. Suzanne Smith, head of recruitment and people development, said: “The ABDP supports licensees in looking at their pub operation strategically, helping them to ensure that they work on their business – not just in it. It’s been conceived to look at the commercial levers our licensees can pull in order to drive further growth or to re-establish momentum at a pub where sales or profit maybe plateauing.” In addition to financial analysis, and a review of their own businesses, issues covered in the programme include: competitor market analysis; reviewing and understanding the local customer base; and the best methods and channels for licensees to market their business. The ABDP includes a workshop – typically attended by seven to ten licensees from the same region – and a pub development plan, which provides a framework for on-going strategic work for licensees to reference and implement, in partnership with their business development managers. The cost of the course is entirely funded by Admiral. The community pub group expects between 150 and 200 of its licensees to go through the programme each year. Smith added: “The development of the ABDP programme recognises the need for established licensees to take a strategic approach to driving the performance of their business, and the intense competition that licensees face not just from other pubs but from casual dining and the wider leisure market.”

Cineworld backs out of Southend scheme after restaurant brands object to cinema height: Cineworld has pulled out of the £50m Southend town centre development mooted as the town’s answer to Bas Vegas. Developer Turnstone Estates’ director Tim Deacon said: “We have started to talk to alternative cinema operators. The response has been good and we are confident about securing a tenant shortly after the summer. It is likely this will be the same quality, size and number of screens as previously planned.” It is understood the dispute was because Cineworld wanted a 14-metre-high cinema building – five metres taller than Turnstone had proposed. Leases have already been signed on three of the 11 restaurant units, with Restaurant Group’s Chiquito, Coast 2 Coast, and Frankie and Benny’s due to move in. The companies had voiced “considerable concern”, Deacon said, at the taller cinema, as it would have been above their restaurants.

Meantime offers customers chance to join its founder Alastair Hook on a trip to Washington State: Meantime Brewing Company has announced a major on-pack promotion that will give consumers the chance to win a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the Yakima Valley in Washington State, the prime hop-growing region in the world. The promotion will run throughout August, and will offer three lucky winners the chance to accompany Meantime founder and brewmaster Alastair Hook on his annual hop sourcing trip to the USA via some of Seattle’s best craft beer bars and breweries. Meantime said this is the first time the pioneering craft brewer has launched such a major promotion with the opportunity to join a specially guided tour with Brewer of the Year 2015, Hook, a highly coveted experience amongst craft beer lovers nationwide. The Yakima Valley has long been regarded as the powerhouse of hop growing in the US and the spiritual home of Meantime’s Yakima Red.

Laine Pub Company launches craft beer event at North Laine Brewhouse:
Laine Pub Company, led by Gavin George and backed by Luke Johnson, is to launch #BrewedInBrighton at its North Laine Brewhouse site. #BrewedInBrighton is a programme of events, promotions and happenings aimed at sharing knowledge of both craft brewing and Brighton itself. It will run from August well into 2016 celebrating all aspects of Brighton life and have an integral social media campaign and competitions with a host of prizes. #BrewedInBrighton starts with a series of Meet the Brewer evenings where beer aficionados, home brewers and anyone who wants to know how good beer is made can come along to hear about the process, tour the North Laine Brewhouse microbrewery and sample the wares while receiving a masterclass in brewing from the North Laine’s master brewers. In September, the North Laine will host the #BrewedInBrighton Oktoberfest. It will feature a range of specially brewed North Laine beers, old favourites and specially commissioned brews from a host of other local brewers. It takes place between 25 and 27 September. A spokesman said: “It will be a celebration of all that is good in Brighton brewing with a German beer hall twist: foaming steins, fancy dress, oompah music and more.”

Starbucks returns to Loughton: Starbucks will return to Loughton in Essex next week after a four-year absence. The company, which will replace Caffe Latte, which closed down in early 2014, is set to unveil the new High Road store next Tuesday. Starbucks left the town in 2011 claiming rents were too high.

Simon French – M&B’s third quarter was ‘slightly soft’: Cenkos Securities leisure analyst Simon French has described Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) third quarter, the 11 weeks to 25 July as “slightly soft”. He said: “Mitchells & Butlers has released a slightly soft trading update reporting 0.8% like-for-like sales growth (food +2.5%, drink -1.0%) for the 11 weeks to 25 July against our expectation of 1.3% growth. We think this reflects a relatively strong May and June offset by weaker weather-impacted trading in July. Year-to-date total sales growth is 8.2%, like-for-like sales growth is 1.3% and operating margins remain lower year-on-year as expected. The group has converted 32 Orchid sites, a further 11 existing M&B sites and opened 11 new sites. All appear to be trading well and we expect no material change to full year consensus expectations of £336m Ebit (Cenkos £334m). The group comments that it is assessing a wide range of options to mitigate the impact of the national living wage (circa £35m per annum and we think the group will be able to offset all but circa £10m of this (circa 4% profit before tax in FY2017). We remain positive on the stock given the visible earnings growth through Orchid conversions and synergy realisation combined with an inexpensive valuation trading on a CY 2016E adjusted EV/Ebitdar of 7.0x and a price-earnings ratio of 8.9x.”

Liverpool nightclub blocked from reopening as a cafe and bar: A Liverpool nightclub that was shut down by police in a drugs raid will not be allowed to reopen as a cafe and bar. Republik on Bold Street was closed in February after a Merseyside Police investigation found drugs were allegedly being dealt at the venue. Licensee Michael Palombella has since applied to reopen it as a cafe and bar, promising stringent security and anti-drugs measures. But the bid was blocked by Liverpool City Council’s licensing sub-committee. Councillors came to their decision after police said they had genuine concerns it would add to crime and disorder in the area.

TGI Friday’s launches first restaurant in Denmark, plans further expansion in the country:
TGI Friday’s has launched its first site in Denmark after opening a restaurant in Copenhagen – and is planning further expansion in the country. The company has spent 30 million kroner (about £3m) on the venue located in Højbro Plads in the centre of the Danish capital. The Danish franchise is being managed by Nordic Service Partners (NSP), a Swedish company specialising in fast food chains and restaurants. It manages over 60 Burger King restaurants as well as several KFC’s in both Sweden and Denmark. Stefan Eriksson, vice-president for franchise operations at TGI Friday’s International, said: “We look forward to working closely with NSP to offer to serve authentic American food and exciting drinks and beverages in an atmosphere that gives you that special ‘Friday feeling’.” The company said it plans to open an additional four restaurants in Denmark over the next five years, but is still on the lookout for suitable sites. TGI Friday’s launched its first restaurant in 1965 in New York, and has since opened over 900 more venues across 60 countries.

Details of second M opening revealed:
Dining and drinking brand M, led by former Gaucho managing director Martin Williams, has revealed more details on its second site. M opened its first branch in the City of London last year. The M venue in Victoria will feature two restaurants (M Grill and Raw), a boutique wine store (M Wine Store), bar area, private dining rooms, and a private members’ bar complete with miniature cinema and personal lockers. M Victoria St, will open in The Zig Zag Building, 70 Victoria Street, making it the first of the area’s new breed of high-end restaurants to open in the area. M Victoria St will house an international grill restaurant specialising in the finest steak cuts from around the world, with the highest grade of Kobe beef available anywhere in London served. The second restaurant, Raw, will feature international small dishes such as tartares, sushi and sashimi, bao and tiraditos. The wine shop will offer speciality wines guaranteed to appeal to a wide audience and which cannot be found in the average off-licence. Regular tastings will take place around a central tasting table that can accommodate up to 20 guests. Land Securities has also announced the names of seven of the 18 food units that will open at Nova, SW1, when it is completed next year. New concepts by D&D, Jason Atherton, Will Ricker, Sourced Market, Village London and Bone Daddies will all contribute to Nova becoming London’s newest food quarter.

Hotcha raises almost £500,000 towards £1m mini-bond target: Hotcha, the Chinese takeaway chain franchise, has raised almost half of its million pound mini-bond target. Investors have been offered 8% interest per annum on their investment over a four-year term. Hotcha currently operates ten stores across the south west of England and aims to open another 22 sites in the next three years, which will see the company fulfil its ambition to become the first truly national chain of Chinese takeaways. Hotcha was set up in 2011 by London and Hong Kong restaurant entrepreneur James Liang. Having achieved circa £4m turnover and Ebitda of circa £265,000 in the financial year ending 31 March 2015, Hotcha now estimates turnover will grow to circa £19m by 2019 with Ebitda of £3.7m. The investment raised on Crowdcube will facilitate the opening of a number of new company owned stores around the country, with experienced multi-unit franchise investors opening a series of Hotcha outlets in large territories across the UK. For anyone investing £50,000 via Crowdcube, Hotcha will waive the normal franchise fee of £15,000, subject to the individual meeting the company’s normal franchise recruitment requirements. The total investment required for a typical Hotcha store is approximately £135,000. An average franchised store should be generating revenues of up to £500,000 per annum with a gross profit margin of 70-75%.

London Designer Outlet developer receives bid from Lone Star: Quintain, the developer behind the redevelopment of Wembley, has received a £700m acquisition offer from private equity house Lone Star. Shares in Quintain Estates and Development, which owns 85 acres of land surrounding London’s Wembley Arena and Stadium, jumped 24.5% to 131.50p yesterday (Wednesday, 29 July) morning after its board unanimously recommended the takeover offer from the US-based firm. “There was one single curry house here when we bought the land, that’s all it had to offer,” said Quintain’s chief operating officer James Saunders. “The area needed places to work and places to live.” The London Designer Outlet shopping centre now attracts 150,000 visitors a week, more than the stadium and arena combined. It has also attracted a number of chain restaurants and bars to the area, from Wagamama to Nando’s.
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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