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Wed 2nd Sep 2015 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Technomic – UK’s 100 largest restaurant chains see ‘strong’ 6% sales increase, slightly down on last year: The 100 largest UK restaurant chains recorded a 6% annual sales increase in 2014, compared to 6.4% the prior year. According to data released by Technomic in its annual reporting on the top UK restaurant chains, the number of units grew by more than 4.3% in 2014, compared to unit growth of 4% the previous year. “Leading chains continue to expand at a fast pace, providing strong sales performance and creating a more competitive environment,” said Darren Tristano, executive vice-president of Technomic. “Ultimately, smaller, regional chain growth provide more options to consumers and greater access to broader tastes.” As a whole, limited-service restaurants among the Top 100 saw a sales revenue increase of 5.9%. Among limited-service restaurants, the menu categories with the largest percentage growth were coffee shops (11.6%), sandwich (9.1%), and Italian/pizza (7.8%). Full-service restaurants also experienced a healthy growth year in 2014 with an increase of 6.1% in sales. The bar and grill cluster lead the way in percentage growth (13.5%), followed by Asian (10.6%), and French (9.4 %). The chain with the largest sales increase was Costa (up £161m), followed by JD Wetherspoon (£109m), and Domino’s (£84m). Similarly, the brands that grew the most in units were Costa (176 units), Subway (155 units), and Domino’s (40 units). One interesting trend is that menus have become smaller – they shrunk 2.6% in a year-over-year comparison.

Industry News:

Sky’s Ian King to present at Propel Multi Club Conference: Ian King, the former City and business editor of The Times and current presenter of Ian King Live on Sky, is to present at the Propel Multi Club Conference on Thursday, 5 November at the Lancaster Hotel, London. He will examine the key economic trends over the past 12 months and the 12 months ahead and gives his views on their impact on the hospitality sector. Multi-site pub, restaurant and foodservice operators can book two free places per company. Anyone who would like to book a place should email Adam Dickinson on

McDonald’s UK to introduce pulled pork and peri peri chicken in menu revamp as it rolls out table service in October:
McDonald’s is to introduce table service in all its restaurants in October as well as revamping its menu with new items such as pulled pork and peri peri chicken wraps. Customers will be able to order and customise their meals on tablets and touch-screen digital kiosks and then a waiter will bring their orders to their table. The new wraps range will expand on the limited variety of chicken wraps currently available, with new additions including barbecue, sweet chilli and hot peri peri flavours. The company will also be serving pulled pork for the first time in the UK as well as a new breakfast wrap featuring pork, onion and ketchup. In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph, McDonald’s UK managing director Paul Pomroy said: “Things change and we want to keep our menu current with customers. Having said that, our Big Mac has been with us for 40 years and it’s still the most successful selling burger we have. I don’t see that changing in the next 40 years.” McDonald’s UK performance has been strong with 37 consecutive quarters of growth – serving about 3.5 million customers every day. Pomroy, who became McDonald’s UK chief earlier this year, added the company is still expanding and aims to open up to 30 new branches a year. Meanwhile, McDonald’s plans to start offering breakfast all day nationwide in the US on 6 October, after franchisees approved the plan this week. The company’s decision to start selling Egg McMuffins and other breakfast items at lunch and dinner represents a major shift in attitude for the chain, and arguably one of the biggest changes at the company in decades.

Millennials drive demand for craft beer, wine and spirits: Descriptions including “craft”, “small batch”, “custom”, “limited edition” and “artisan/artisanal” are more likely to influence the purchasing decisions of millennials than they are to sway older consumers, according to a recent Harris Poll. Millennials are driving much of the growth, as they seek out local, authentic and artisan beer, as well as wine and spirits, said NPD Group vice-president Warren Solochek. The trend in food and beverage in general is toward healthier options, but “healthy” means different things to different people, and in the case of beer, wine and spirits, local and artisan are much more relevant to millennials than calorie counts, he said. “It’s more true of millennials than others, but it’s also catching on with those of us who are a little older chronologically,” Solochek added. “There are so many variations, taste profiles, alcohol content profiles and so many cool little places producing beer, which makes it much more interesting. Meanwhile, the big producers are producing the same things they always have.”

Wellington Pub Company successfully appeals to have ACV status removed from Isleworth pub: Wellington Pub Company, the UK’s largest free-of-tie pub company with 800 sites, has successfully appealed to have the Asset of Community Value (ACV) status removed from one of its pubs. The company applied to have the ACV revoked at The Red Lion, in Linkfield Road, Isleworth, which was listed by Hounslow Council in May following a campaign by regulars after they learned the leasehold was up for sale. Wellington Pub Company was successful with its appeal after arguing the council had failed to follow the proper procedures when making its decision, reports Get West London. The company said it had not been contacted by the council before the decision was made and the Facebook group Red Lion Future did not meet the criteria for applicants because it was not a previously established organisation. The listing was revoked following an internal council review. Owners wishing to sell an asset of community value must allow community groups six months in which to prepare a bid, though they are not obliged to accept the offer once that time is up.

Twizoo launches Twitter-based restaurant booking system in London: Twizoo, the London-based start-up that pulls restaurant recommendations from people’s tweets, is now letting them make reservations at some of the city’s venues. The company is using the same algorithm to pick out details of any reservation request to a London restaurant that uses the Twitter hashtag #TweetToBook, reports Business Insider. Twizoo automatically checks the restaurant’s booking system and sends the customer a tweet straight back with confirmation details. That confirmation is stored on the app so customers can show it to the restaurant. The company has teamed up with restaurant guide Hardens, which has its own traditional online booking system for lots of restaurants and also links to other booking sites like OpenTable and Bookatable, for #TweetToBook. It means only venues on Hardens’ platform will be available to make reservations through the system. Chief executive Madeline Parra said both Twizoo users and the restaurants they want to visit have been asking the company to help them with Twitter reservations for a while. Customers would tweet at a restaurant to ask for a table, only to find that the venue was not monitoring their Twitter feed in real time or an external company or social media manager didn’t have access to the restaurant’s booking system.

New study reveals proposed policy in New York to regulate fast food kids’ meals with toys may make them healthier: A new study has revealed a proposed policy in New York City to regulate fast food kids’ meals that include toys may end up making them healthier. The research reported if the policy in New York City is approved, fast food meals that come with toys would contain fewer calories overall and fewer from fat and salt. The policy, which was proposed in August last year, would mean fast food meals that come with a small toy must include a serving of fruit, vegetable or whole grain. The law would also limit meals with toys to no more than 500 calories, and it would place additional restrictions on fat and salt. To estimate the effect of the proposal, researchers analysed food purchases made by 358 adults for 422 children at Burger King, McDonald’s and Wendy’s restaurants in New York City and New Jersey in 2013 and 2014. About 35% of the children ate kids’ meals that came with toys – and 98% of those meals did not meet the proposed guidelines. If all the meals with toys met the proposed standards, children would consume 9% fewer calories and there would also be 10% reductions in salt and calories from fat. “We can create policies that will nudge us toward healthier behaviors,” said senior author Marie Bragg, of NYU Langone Medical Center in New York.

Company News:

BrewDog takes the Crowdcube route to top up investment towards £25m target as own fund-raising slows down: BrewDog has partnered Crowdcube to offer a £6m mini-bond as well as equity in the business as investment via its website seems to be stalling. The move to combine equity and bonds, a first for Crowdcube, will contribute to BrewDog’s current target of raising £25m. The company raised £5m in the first 20 days but only about £3m in the three months after that, leaving funds raised via its own website at almost £8m to date. In another first for Crowdcube, there is also no live time reporting of how much has been raised by BrewDog, only the total number of investors. Asked about the slowdown in investment, BrewDog co-founder James Watt said in an email to Business Insider: “Over three previous rounds of Equity for Punks we raised £7m, and in Equity for Punks IV alone, which launched in April 2015, we have already raised £8m, breaking our own historic record in the process. Furthermore, we raised the first £5m in the first 20 days of launching, which was an epic response to our most ambitious project to date. The partnership with Crowdcube enables us to offer both equity and the first ever BrewDog Bond to the platform’s 200,000-strong community, and will help us push even further towards that ultimate target of £25m. Response so far (having only launched an hour ago), has been crazy awesome, with healthy investment rocking up already.” Luke Lang, co-founder of Crowdcube, added: “This is the first time that a combined equity and bond crowdfunding raise has been launched and it is fitting that it’s BrewDog, which has been at the vanguard of pioneering crowdfunding globally. BrewDog’s raise on Crowdcube continues a trend towards more established companies partnering with us to secure growth finance. I’ve followed BrewDog and enjoyed its craft beers for many years and it’s great that they’re the first company to work with us for this historic raise.”

Greene King freehold sold to private investor for £2.55m: Savills, on behalf of Greene King, has sold the Sydney Arms in the London borough of Kensington and Chelsea to a private investor for £2.55m, representing a net initial yield of 2.78%. The ground and basement public house occupies a prominent position at the intersection of Sydney Street and Britten Street, and includes a traditional U-shaped bar, dining area for 50 persons, trade kitchen and small external seating area. The property is let to The Thoroughbred Pub Co, on a 15-year lease expiring in 2024 and generates a current rent of £75,000, due to increase to £80,000 in September 2015 and £85,000 in 2016. Nick Lyell, associate director in licensed leisure at Savills, said: “This is a prime London pub in a fantastic location and we received a high amount of interest, which is reflected in the strong price received for our client. The pubs market in the capital is in robust health with investors keen to acquire the top quality assets.”

Jamie Oliver to launch into India by opening first standalone Jamie’s Pizzeria: Jamie Oliver is launching into the India market by opening the first standalone Jamie’s Pizzeria this month. Oliver is opening the restaurant at Ambiance Mall, Gurgaon, which in all other markets is an extension of Oliver’s Jamie’s Italian brand. Oliver is also launching a Jamie’s Italian in New Delhi’s Vasant Kunj in October and both are promoted in India by a joint venture between London-based International Market Management (IMM) and Carnation Hospitality of Delhi. IMM founder Jasper Reid told The Economic Times: “India is the first market in the world where Jamie’s Pizzeria will be opening as a standalone restaurant. That is how much India matters to Jamie. The market for pizzas here is proven. When we thought about India, we thought that maybe there is an opportunity of doing something that is affordable as well as of good value.” The 1,000 sq ft Jamie’s Pizzeria will have seating for about 60 people and a “simple” menu of pizzas, salads, sides, desserts and drinks. Reid said there are plans to open other Jamie’s Pizzerias in the country’s National Capital Regions next year and added: “Logically, you can expand the Pizzeria format quicker than Jamie’s Italian. We are thinking of having a larger number of Jamie’s Pizzeria and a smaller number of Jamie’s Italian.”

Gaucho reports Ebitda of £11m in 2014:
Gaucho Holdings has reported that Ebitda before pre-opening costs rose to £11m in the year to 31 December 2014, up from £9.9m the year before. Company sales rose 11% to circa £61m, up from £55.5m the year before. Finance director Gary Mann said both the sales and Ebitda growth was driven primarily by the expansion of CAU UK with Gaucho continuing to trade in line with expectations. Key activity in 2015 is the continued roll-out of the CAU brand with eight sites opening in the UK (Wilmslow, St Katharine Docks, Reading, Liverpool, Didsbury, Glasgow, Bath and Manchester Media City), taking it to 17 CAU sites by the end of the year. He added: (“The company will) invest in the continued evolution of the Gaucho brand, including refurbishments of Manchester, Sloane and Dubai as well as an exciting bar partnership on the mezzanine level in Dubai. (We saw a) successful opening of the Hong Kong Gaucho (opened in October 2014) and to continue to look for other international expansion opportunities in and around existing operations.”

Stonegate buys East Sussex pub: Stonegate Pub Company has completed the acquisition of a pub in East Sussex, The White Hart in Crowborough, East Sussex. The pub, will re-open as The White Hart on the Green in early October following a £500,000 investment. Refurbishment work will begin this week with the pub opening under Stonegate Pub Company’s Classic segment. Twenty new jobs will be created. Simon Longbottom, chief executive of Stonegate Pub Company, said: “The White Hart is an excellent fit for our business. The investment in the pub will give the people of East Sussex a stunning new pub with a premium offer at pub prices.”

Heartstone Inns buys Monmouthshire freehold: Heartsone Inns, led by James Birch, has bought the Anchor Inn, Monmouthshire from a private owner for an undisclosed sum. The acquisition brings the number of pubs within Heartstone’s estate to 12. It sits next to Tintern Abbey and The River Wye in the village of Tintern. Birch said: “We are delighted to have secured the purchase of the Anchor Inn which fits perfectly into our current estate and reinforces our commitment to building a group of quality, freehold food-led pubs in the south and south west that offer opportunity for development and growth.”

Wildwood operator agrees new debt facility: Wildwood operator Tasty has renewed and extended its existing facility. The amended facility is for £8m, consisting of a £3m revolving bank facility and a £5m term loan. Both the revolving facility and the term loan are available to the company for five years. The debt provider is Barclays. The extended facility provides an additional finance stream, in addition to the company’s existing cash resources, to allow continued expansion of its restaurant estate.

Former head of development at Benugo launches Neapolitan pizzeria concept in Brighton: The former head of development at the restaurant and cafe operator Benugo Rupert Davidson has launched a Neapolitan pizzeria concept in Brighton. Davidson, who opened the Bread and Milk cafe in the city two years ago, has launched Fatto a Mano in London Road in Preston Circus. Davidson told the Brighton & Hove Independent: “I’ve been in love with the Italian way of eating for a long time, particularly the culture of sitting and enjoying food as a family. From the moment we decided to open Fatto, we wanted to be a great-value neighbourhood Italian restaurant, local and friendly, that people of all ages could drop into any time of day.” The menu consists of ten pizzas – and two weekly specials – plus sides and salads. The dough is freshly made on site every day and the pizzas are baked in the mosaic-clad, domed oven for about one minute at 450 degrees. Children aged under ten also eat free when dining with an adult – something no other restaurant in Brighton is believed to offer. Davidson added: “We’re somewhere people can drop by regularly, not just on special occasions, and enjoy a handmade pizza and a craft beer or glass of wine for under a tenner. We just want people to enjoy themselves and come back time and time again.”

Carluccio’s to open in Birmingham this month: Carluccio’s will open its 93rd UK restaurant at Grand Central, Birmingham, on Thursday, 24 September, as part of a busy quarter three expansion for the Italian restaurant group. With 90 covers and 11 bar seats, the 3,840 sq ft restaurant is the second Carluccio’s in Birmingham, after the Brindley Place restaurant that opened in 2010, and creates 55 local jobs. It is the fourth launch for Carluccio’s in recent months, following Cheltenham (May), Barnet (June) and Bankside (July). Simon Kossoff, chairman at Carluccio’s, said: “The opening of Grand Central Birmingham is an exciting time for the city and we’re very happy to be a part of it. This new retail hub adds a huge amount of variety to the Birmingham dining scene, for locals, visitors and commuters. Following the popularity of our first restaurant here at Brindley Place, we hope that our second restaurant will be a welcome addition to the area and we look forward to opening our doors.”

Whitehaven fishery business plans first restaurant: An established fishery business in Whitehaven is expanding with plans to convert an empty pub into a high quality seafood restaurant. Richard Donnan, of Donnan Quayside Fisheries, North Shore Road, in Whitehaven, currently supplies fresh fish to hotels, pubs, restaurants and private customers. The business has been in the family for two generations, established by his father who also operated a number of trawlers. Donnan has acquired the Distressed Sailor in Egremont Road, a venue that has been closed for about 18 months. He plans to turn the pub into a seafood restaurant, to be run by his wife Anne. Significant renovation work will first need to be carried out, with an official opening expected to take place in the autumn. Donnan added: “There is no doubt the fishing business has changed drastically while we have operated Donnan Quayside Fisheries, and it is vital to move with the times and diversify in order to remain successful. We have built up a great reputation for quality and we were very keen to expand our offering. The Distressed Sailor was a great fit for us. It has a great location for passing trade and we are now starting on a fairly extensive overhaul of the property. Ultimately we aim to transform it from a bar-focused venue to a restaurant serving our fresh fish, locally sourced.”

JD Wetherspoon pub in south London suffers severe fire: A fire has severely damaged a JD Wetherspoon pub in south London. Some 100 firefighters were called out to the building in Bellegrove Road, Welling, where the first floor collapsed. The fire spread throughout the building and the roof caught alight, London Fire Brigade said. Crews were called at 9.25am on Sunday and the fire was under control four hours later. Seven people left the building before firefighters arrived and there were no reports of any injuries. Martin Freeman, from the London Fire Brigade, said: “Staff at the pub had a lucky escape as they heard the smoke alarm sound, left the pub and alerted the brigade.” He said had the firefighters not had an early warning “there could have been a very different outcome”. A JD Wetherspoon spokesman said: “The pub is closed and we have no reopening date yet – staff will be relocated to other Wetherspoon pubs in the area.”

KPMG to open new private members club in Mayfair: Accountancy company KPMG is launching a new private members club in Mayfair next month. KPMG is opening No. 20 in Grosvenor Street following the conversion of a five-storey townhouse, boasting a restaurant, presentation suite, business lounge, meeting rooms and a bar with a terrace on the fourth floor. The venue can only be used by clients or partners of the company. UK chairman of KPMG Simon Collins told the Financial Times: “We thought we’d create a West End space for people to meet, mingle and touch down. Non-execs who have lots of meetings can often find it pretty lonely if they don’t have a base.” No. 20 will be one of more than 50 private members’ clubs in Mayfair.

Harry Ramsden’s to open second franchised site in Yorkshire: Harry Ramsden’s is set to open its newest outlet in Sheffield tomorrow (Thursday, 3 September). Located at 833 Ecclesall Road, this latest opening marks the continued expansion of Harry Ramsden’s in Yorkshire, which was home to the brand’s eponymous founder. Representing the brand’s second opening in Yorkshire in less than six months, the new 1,800 sq ft outlet will offer the opportunity to takeaway as well as sit in, with seating for 24 diners. Ecclesall will also be the first in the chain to introduce the new Harry’s ComboBox, which gives customers the opportunity to “mix and match” selected products from the range available. This is the latest in a line of new openings planned in the area as part of the master franchise agreement for Yorkshire, which was awarded to Dimple and Vikesh Patel of JVP Ventures. Joe Teixeira, chief executive of Harry Ramsden’s, added: “We are delighted that the brand continues to go from strength to strength in Yorkshire, carrying on the tradition which Harry himself started in 1928.”

Indian entrepreneur launches new concept Papadoms with view to national roll-out: Indian entrepreneur Sanjeev Sanghara has opened a new concept in Sunderland called Papadoms with a view to a national roll-out – it serves Indian tapas and street food. It has opened in the Limelight Complex in Sunderland’s High Street West, a conversion of the former Ask and Mex Cantina restaurant. After running a successful pilot Papadoms near his home city of Glasgow, Sanghara decided Sunderland would be the perfect place to launch the chain. He said: “We launched the Papadoms pilot in Ayr to test new ideas on the market in an area where there’s a lot of competition from other Indian restaurants. We wanted to see if there was the potential for longevity, to grow as a business. It ended up being the number one restaurant on TripAdvisor for the whole time it was open. We developed a really good team, and the opportunity came to scale up and to come to Sunderland. It’s a great opportunity for us. This site appealed to me because it’s in a specifically built leisure unit. Also the council here is similar to Glasgow in that it is trying to regenerate the area. It’s also a chance to bring a new style of cuisine to Sunderland. A lot of the Indian restaurants are Bangladeshi-style food; this is Punjabi-style. What people perceive to be Indian food isn’t that authentic, but this is diner and street food, it’s what people in India eat every day.”

Salford’s Lowry Hotel profits near £1m: Profits have risen by 169% to almost £1m at the Lowry Hotel, the landmark five-star hotel in Salford, in a year that saw it change hands. According to its latest set of accounts, the Lowry Hotel has posted pre-tax profits of £951,000 in the year ending 30 April 2015, up by 169% year-on-year. Turnover climbed by 6% to £12.5m over the same period. The Lowry Hotel, which is located on Dearmans Place next to Trinity Bridge, was first put up for sale in 2007 with a reported £50m price tag before being withdrawn from the market in 2013. Then in January 2014, it was put back up for sale for a rumoured £40m. Westmont and investment partner Mount Kellett Capital Management then agreed to buy the hotel from Rocco Forte & Family (Luxury Hotels) a year ago for an undisclosed sum. The accounts show that Rocco Forte’s shares were sold to North Low SARL, a company registered in Luxembourg, and on the same day the Lowry Hotel took a loan with Abbey National Treasury Services for £20.5m and fully repaid the £22.4m sum owed to Rocco Forte. In the accounts, the directors added: “A refurbishment programme has started and is expected to be completed in 2016. While this will impact trading in the next financial year, the directors expect the company to benefit from the refurbishment in the future years.”

Loungers opening new site in Urmston tomorrow: Bristol-based cafe-bar brand Loungers is opening a new site in Urmston, Greater Manchester, tomorrow (Thursday, 3 September). The company is launching the Bevano Lounge at the Eden Square shopping centre, creating 25 jobs. It has spent £600,000 on the site transforming it into a retro “home from home” with dramatic artwork and statement light fittings hanging above comfy vintage sofas. The menu includes sandwiches and burgers as well as tapas dishes while there are also vegan, gluten-free and children’s options available. Operations manager Jenny Arnot told the Manchester Evening News: “Urmston is the perfect location for our Lounge concept. There’s already a thriving and vibrant community and we’re really looking forward to playing our part in the foodie scene here.” Loungers has a number of venues in the Manchester area including The Cosy Club at the new-look Corn Exchange and the Expo Lounge in Didsbury.

Boutique hotel plan for Belfast unveiled: Plans have been revealed for the redevelopment of a vacant site on Belfast’s Bank Street to create a boutique hotel. A “significant investment” would be made to create the four-storey venue that would accommodate 33 guests in 17 en-suite rooms. The hotel, which would also have a ground floor restaurant, is expected to provide “much needed economic activity” for the area. MM Developments (NI) has been appointed to the project. Social development minister, Mervyn Storey, said: “The developer’s proposal for a boutique hotel will be the final piece in the jigsaw of regenerating Bank Square in Belfast city centre, and will complement the £3m regeneration work recently undertaken in the area by my department. The hotel development will provide an active frontage for Bank Street that will further enhance the new streetscape and contribute to the physical and economic renewal of the area. It will create job opportunities and attract tourists, which will benefit businesses both locally and in the wider city centre.”

Walkabout reopens Sheffield site after £1m refurbishment: Walkabout operator Intertain has reopened its Sheffield site after a month-long £1m refurbishment, creating 20 additional jobs. The company has given the Carver Street venue a complete overhaul including a full redesign of the main bar and the creation of a canopied outdoor decking area. The former Methodist Chapel’s original features have been highlighted including its centrepiece organ, galleried seating and original preacher’s pulpit that now serves as the DJ booth. A new menu providing a greater emphasis on food has also been introduced as Walkabout puts more focus on daytime trading. Intertain chief executive John Leslie said: “Walkabout in Sheffield now has a real sense of individual style and in combination with such an iconic building, we’re certain it will achieve a great return on investment.”

Matthew Clark reports 30% increase in gin sales: National drinks supplier Matthew Clark has reported a 30% increase in gin sales for the 12 weeks to 15 May, outperforming the market, which has seen sales rise by 13% in the same period. The company’s market share of the on-trade gin market is 28%, up 4% from last year. It attributes the gin revival in the on-trade to the rise in popularity of premium gin made in the UK with volume sales of super premium gins from England up 81% year-on-year. Matthew Clark’s product marketing manager for spirits Stuart Westwood said: “It’s great to see so much variety when it comes to gin now with so many small independent distillers popping up across the country. Consumers are much more gin savvy and are showing a greater care as to which G goes in with their T. We are really proud of our fantastic gin range and delighted to have such interesting producers on board.”

Zebrano Group to offer fine dining concept with third site:
London-based Zebrano Group is to offer fine dining for the first time as it prepares to expand into the City with its third site. The company is opening restaurant, bar and late night lounge Zebrano in the City at Dukes House in Dukes Place, Aldgate, in October. The two-floor venue in the shadow of the Gherkin will span over 6,000 sq ft and offer drinking, dining and dancing all under one roof. The top floor will house a fine dining experience and private dining room for ten people while the ground floor will have more of a late night lounge ambience, serving smaller sharing dishes and cocktails. Zebrano will also be the only restaurant to collaborate with Taittinger Champagne on a Chef’s Table concept for up to eight people. The company, formed by the founder of Seymour-Valentine Coffee Cevat Riza and former head of hospitality for JP Morgan Don Cameron, opened Zebrano Carnaby in 2004 followed by Zebrano Soho in Greek Street in 2008.

Giggling Squid to trial Deliveroo home delivery service in Bristol ahead of potential group-wide roll-out:
Thai brand Giggling Squid is to trial a home delivery service through Deliveroo in Bristol, ahead of a potential group-wide roll-out. The company, led by husband-and-wife team Andy and Pranee Laurillard, is planning to follow up the Bristol pilot by extending the test to its sites in Brighton, Hove and Guildford. Customers can order via both Giggling Squid’s and Deliveroo’s websites or by using the delivery company’s free app for smartphones. The demand for home delivered meals increases as the warm summer months give way to the cold wet, weather of autumn and winter. “We are providing restaurant quality meals, not take away food,” said Deliveroo’s south west regional manager Nick Lonergan. Giggling Squid currently operates 13 venues, mostly across southern England. It is scheduled to open in Esher, Surrey, in October and has also secured a site in Warwick.

Classic Lodges to invest £500,000 in latest North Yorkshire hotel: Hotel operator Classic Lodges is to invest £500,000 into the Solberge Hotel, the grade II-listed North Yorkshire venue it acquired from administrators in July. The company plans to spend the money over the next 12 months on the large Georgian mansion at Newby Wiske between Northallerton and Thirsk, with some on improving its existing wedding facilities, including a new outdoor wedding venue. Classic Lodges managing director Richard Grime told the Darlington and Stockton Times: “We are looking forward to working with the team at the hotel to continue to develop its excellent reputation in the North Yorkshire market for weddings and family events.” Solberge Hall, which was built in 1824 by wealthy local landowner John Hutton, has 24 guest rooms set in nine acres of garden and woodland. It was placed into administration in 2011. Classic Lodges owns three other sites in North Yorkshire – The Old Swan in Harrogate, Grinkle Park in Easington and Bagden Hall in Denby Dale.

Speaker programme confirmed for The Bar and Nightclub Conference: The full speaker programme has been confirmed for The Bar and Nightclub Conference, which is being held on Tuesday, 27 October at Bafta Piccadilly. Speakers are: Kate Nicholls, chief executive of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR), Phil Tate, chief executive of CGA Strategy, Simon Chaplin, director and head of leisure and development at Christie + Co, Trevor Watson, executive director of Davis Coffer Lyons, Graeme Bunn, director of Fleurets, Glendola Leisure managing director Alex Salussolia, Riz Shaikh, co-founder of the Columbo Group, Dave Henkes, vice-president of Technomic, Peter Marks, chief executive of Deltic Group, Exeat Leisure founder Stephen Thomas, Tokyo Industries founder Aaron Mellor, Reuben Harley, chief executive of Eclectic, Alex Hazzard, co-founder of the Burning Night Group, leading licensing barrister Philip Kolvin QC, Luke Johnson, of Risk Capital Partners and Adam Marshall, founder of Grand Union Group. The conference, the first stand-alone event for this part of the market, examines the key issues affecting the market with contributions from key figures within the sector. Tickets are free for operators and cost £145 for ALMR supplier members and £195 for ALMR non-suppliers. Tickets can be booked by emailing Jo Charity on

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 £295 plus VAT for operators and £495 plus VAT for suppliers and are available by emailing

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