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Wed 9th Sep 2015 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Paul UK narrows losses, like-for-likes up 13.7%: Paul UK has reported turnover rose to £24,631,645 in the year to 31 December 2014, up from £23,773,540 the year before, with losses reducing to £31,601 compared to £115,496 of losses in the previous year. Operating profit was £82,227, up from £27,740 the year prior. The company stated: “The changes, improvements and controls put into the business over the last two years continue to deliver better trading results and establish a solid platform upon which to grow and develop the business in the UK. The directors are aware there is further ongoing work to be done with additional opportunities for the business to grow and increase market share. For the year ended 31 December 2014, (we) achieved like-for-like growth of 13.7% (2013: 0.7%). The gross profit margin also improved to 76.4% (2013: 74.4%). During the year under review, the company started to implement its strategy of opening new Paul shops both within and outside the capital. A new kiosk was opened during the year in Jubilee Place (Canary Wharf) as well as the first Paul shop outside of London. Paul Oxford opened in December 2014. In addition the first Paul Cafe opened shortly after the year-end in Newbury. Both shops demonstrate the appeal of Paul extends outside London and there is significant opportunity to expand both within larger popular tourist towns such as Oxford as well as smaller market towns where the customer base is local. Following the successful openings in Oxford and Newbury, Paul will shortly be opening two new retail shops in central London, at the Tower of London and Marble Arch and later in the year its first shops in the UK’s second city: Birmingham. The business will also open ‘Le Restaurant de Paul’ at Tower 42 in the City. This opening will be a step change for the business and will not only have the exceptional retail shop offer but in addition an all-day French restaurant and wine bar. This exciting project is the progression to the very well received relaunch of ‘Le Restaurant de Paul’ in Covent Garden during the year. The decision has been made to look to close a number of shops during 2015 either through disposal of or not renewing a lease. In a number of cases a new shop will be identified within the locality, which can better serve the local customer and support the Paul brand more appropriately. It is the intention of the company to close Old Compton Street and two further sites in 2015.”

Industry News:

Paul Harbottle to present at Propel Multi Club Conference: Paul Harbottle, commercial director at Enterprise Inns, is to present at the Propel Multi Club Conference on Thursday, 5 November at the Lancaster Hotel, London. Harbottle will talk about the company’s plan to develop a 750-strong managed pub estate and investment and progress in the leased and tenanted part of the business. Multi-site pub, restaurant and foodservice operators can book two free places per company. Anyone who would like to book places should email Adam Dickinson on

Dismaland provides tourism boost to Weston-super-Mare: The number of visitors to the Grand Pier in Weston-super-Mare has soared following the opening of Banksy’s Dismaland exhibition. Since opening last month, more than 4,000 tickets for Dismaland have been sold per day. This has had a knock-on effect on the Grand Pier, which had an additional 9,000 visitors in August and said the growth could “only be attributed to Dismaland”. Dismaland features the work of 58 artists from around the world including street artist Banksy, Damien Hirst and Jimmy Cauty. Paul Charalambous, pier general manager, said: “There is no question that Banksy’s work has brought more tourists to Weston-super-Mare who would not ordinarily visit. Dismaland has already welcomed 44,000 visitors since it opened less than two weeks ago, including international visitors coming to our town, which we have not seen in any great number before. This has had a positive contribution to the Grand Pier with an extra 9,000 visitors through our gates, who are spending longer enjoying our facilities.”

BrewDog funding-raising on Crowdcube passes £1m eight days after launch: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has passed the £1m mark in funds raised on Crowdcube eight days after launch. The company’s 6.5% interest-bearing four-year mini-bond is proving more popular than its equity in terms of funds pledged. So far, 256 investors have pledged £837,500 in mini-bond investment while 276 investors have committed to £169,290 of equity investment. The total investment stands at £1,006,790.

Late night levy proposed for East Yorkshire: East Riding of Yorkshire Council is considering introducing a late night levy across the county. The authority is proposing to force pubs, bars and clubs to pay for the extra policing and licensing costs it says that late opening causes. The proposal, which is due to be discussed by the council’s safer and stronger communities overview and scrutiny sub-committee tomorrow (Thursday, 10 September), said a post-1am levy would see 650 licensees pay between £209 and £4,440 a year, depending on their business rates and whether they are in a council accreditation scheme. If the levy was effective from midnight, a further 202 premises would be affected. In a written report, the council’s director of environment and neighbourhood services Nigel Leighton said such levies elsewhere looked to have been effective in raising money, but said their impact on crime and disorder was not yet clear. He said 70% of any revenue would go to the police and suggested the council seek an assurance from Humberside Police that the extra income would be used on late-night policing before introducing any levy. Council projections suggest a post-1am levy could make £104,000 a year for the police and £45,000 a year for the council. If the council agrees to impose a levy, it would be subject to public consultation. Newcastle, Cheltenham, Islington in London, Nottingham, Chelmsford and Southampton have all introduced such levies.

SRA to launch campaign to help diners make ‘good’ choices when eating out: The Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) is launching a consumer platform to help diners make “good” choices when eating out. The trade association is launching the Food Made Good campaign at the Abergavenny Food Festival on Friday, 18 September. It said while consumers can consult packaging to guide their choices at home, they are often left in the dark when eating out. As well as providing a guide to good places to eat out, Food Made Good will also campaign on key issues and encourage a conversation between diners and the industry about the issues that matter to them. SRA managing director Mark Linehan said: “Food Made Good celebrates everything that goes into making eating out a genuinely good experience. Foodservice businesses that ignore their customers’ interest in sustainability or fail to communicate about the good things they do, do so at their peril.” The SRA, which was formed in 2010, will continue to operate as the association for its 5,000 members, while Food Made Good will be the consumer champion under which all of the consumer campaigns are run.

Company News:

Brunning & Price looks to add ten sites in 2016, expand geographic spread: The Restaurant Group’s gastro-pub brand Brunning & Price is looking to add a company record ten sites in 2016 and expand its traditional geographic spread, retained agent Christie + Co has reported. Over the past two years Brunning & Price has acquired 11 new sites with Christie + Co assistance and is still looking to acquire another ten sites in 2016, with four sites already in the pipeline. Most recently it has acquired another three sites including The Wobbly Wheel, near Banbury, The Jolly Farmers, Betchworth, and The Fox Revived, Horley. Christie + Co continue to be retained to search for suitable properties and Brunning & Price is looking for locations between Lancashire and Kent in rural, semi rural or urban sites within plots of at least 1.25 acres with the ability to create a bar restaurant venue seating at least 120 people. Simon Chaplin, director, corporate pubs and restaurants, Christie + Co, said: “As they continue with expansion outside of their current core area of the north west and the south east, we are looking for suitable buildings and sites throughout the West Midlands and around locations such as Milton Keynes, York, Stratford-upon-Avon, Oxford and Cheltenham as well as along the M4 to bring their individual style and quality to a wider audience.”

Geof Collyer upgrades The Restaurant Group to ‘Buy’, a winner compared to JD Wetherspoon:
Deutsche Bank leisure analyst Geof Collyer has upgraded his share recommendation on The Restaurant Group to ‘Buy’, with a price target of 785p. He said: “The two main concerns in the pub and restaurant sector at the moment are the space race (too much supply eating away at like-for-like growth); and the potential impact of the National Living Wage on margins and therefore earnings. The Restaurant Group’s analysis of the space race within the confines of the restaurant sector should assuage most fears of any impact from the former, and our analysis of the latter suggested back in mid-July that the company should be better able to cope with the National Living Wage than most in the sector. We believe the weakness in the share price caused by these two factors has provided a good entry point for the company, which we have upgraded from ‘Hold’ to ‘Buy’. We have conducted a case study looking at The Restaurant Group and JD Wetherspoon, the two groups in the pub and restaurant sector that have driven their business primarily by organic site-by-site rollout. We conclude that The Restaurant Group is the winner, appearing to deliver better, more consistent growth up and down the profit and loss (compounding in double-digits), mostly driven from within operating cash flows, and with returns based on Ebitdar/lease-adjusted net capital employed remaining stable at 21%. In addition, The Restaurant Group is also returning half of post-tax profits to shareholders in the form of dividends, generating a comfortable above-market dividend yield (at the current share price). At a time when JD Wetherspoon seems to be scaling back its rollout plans, The Restaurant Group reaffirmed its target to double its portfolio of restaurants. We value The Restaurant Group on 16x 2016E EV/Ebita, around a 10-20% premium to the rest of the quoted pub and restaurant groups that we follow, which we believe is justified by the conservative balance sheet, high return on capital, and its consistently superior performance.”

Patisserie Valerie to open 34th London site in Fulham Broadway: Patisserie Valerie, the company that has sector investor Luke Johnson as executive chairman, has completed on its 34th site in London. The company will open a venue at the former Guaca Mexican restaurant on Fulham Broadway in south west London this month following a deal negotiated by CDG Leisure. CDG Leisure’s David Kornbluth said: “Patisserie Valerie has been a well known name on the high street for years but there is definitely now an element of them being boosted by the nation going baking mad. The Great British Bake Off has definitely lifted interest in the kind of cakes on which Patisserie Valerie success is based.” Originally opened in Soho by Madam Valerie in 1926, surviving a bombing during World War Two and reopening on Old Compton Street, the company now has over 80 outlets nationwide.

Zeh-Noh Group to launch Japanese restaurant concept in London: Zeh-Noh Group, the business arm of Japan’s largest agricultural cooperative JA, is to launch a Japanese restaurant concept in London. The company is opening Tokimeitē, which takes its name from a colloquial Japanese expression describing a sense of anticipation or “butterflies”, in Conduit Street, Mayfair, this autumn. The 70-cover restaurant will be set over three floors and feature an open kitchen, Josper charcoal oven and robata grill. A Chef’s Table private dining space for up to eight guests is also planned, and will be available shortly after launch. Internationally renowned chef Yoshihiro Murata, who holds a total of seven Michelin stars across his three restaurants in Kyoto and Tokyo, will oversee a modern authentic Japanese menu based on authentic “wa-shoku”, or Japanese cuisine. An extensive range of premium sakes, shochu and whiskies will complement the food. The restaurant is being designed by acclaimed designer Yasumichi Morita and will take inspiration from Japanese festivals, shrines and temples, and the colour palette will be based on warm woods, rich browns and golds.

Enterprise Inns publicans produce own-brand coffee: Publicans from Enterprise Inns’ Brasenose Arms in Cropredy, Oxfordshire, have added an authentic offer to their pub – their own brand of coffee. Husband and wife Michael and Jill Ward, daughter Tazelle and husband Johan Smal, who have been running the 17th century country inn for a year, are serving the new coffee to customers, as well as selling it for home-use in branded bags. The Brazen Bean coffee is produced fresh on-site using three roasters specially built by Smal, who is originally from Namibia. He said: “Tazelle and I spent a lot of time admiring coffee farms in South America, and began roasting for a hotel in South Africa. Back in the UK, we felt inspired to start our own little business, and felt The Brasenose was a great place to develop the offer. The roasted beans must rest for four or five days before we serve or sell it. It’s our own little personal touch to the pub.” Enterprise regional manager Nigel Moore added: “It’s fantastic when we see one of our pubs taking the initiative to do something innovative and original to give their business stand-out and a USP.”

Burger and lobster restaurant concept SkyFall launches in Hove: Hospitality brand Barrow and Thomas Restaurants has collaborated with Guy Piper Architects to launch a burger and lobster restaurant concept in Hove, East Sussex. The two companies have teamed up to open SkyFall, which also features a jazz lounge, in Church Road. Lindsey Brett, from Barrow and Thomas Restaurants, told The Argus: “In this area of Hove there are a lot of culture based restaurants. You’ve got Thai, Indian, Chinese and Italian, but nobody has opened a British burger and lobster restaurant, we wanted to be the first. SkyFall is something different; it’s something unique and combined with fashionable interiors, relaxing music and exceptional food. We are bringing sexy back to Hove! We’ve created a live music lounge, so rather than somewhere to go and watch an artist perform, we’ve created a space where artists perform in order to deliver background music to our customers.”

Gary Rhodes restaurant scores hygiene zero: Celebrity chef Gary Rhodes’ waterfront restaurant Rhodes @ The Dome in Plymouth has received the lowest hygiene rating of zero out of five. A statement from Rhodes @ The Dome said: “Rhodes @ The Dome operates to the highest environmental health standards and probably has one of the most advanced food technology kitchens in the region – the low score relates to not having a head chef in post at the time.” A new head chef was apparently being trained at the time of inspection, meaning no one was available to demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of the food hygiene act. Rhodes @ The Dome is expecting a retest soon and anticipates a “perfect five” score.

Bitters ‘n Twisted to launch US-bourbon diner concept in Birmingham: Birmingham-based bar operator Bitters ‘n Twisted is to launch a US-style bourbon diner concept in the city. The company is opening Buffalo & Rye next month following a £150,000 investment in a former bank at Burne Jones House, next to its existing Bodega bar and restaurant. The diner, which will have a “stripped back, urban feel”, will seat up to 50 people and offer a range of rye whiskeys, dirty burgers, gourmet hotdogs and smoked pitt meats, including ribs and beef brisket. Bitters ‘n Twisted founder and director Matt Scriven told the Birmingham Post: “We’re very excited about the launch of Buffalo & Rye, which you could describe as a bourbon diner. Our ethos is all about bringing something different, whilst making it right for the city. We don’t believe in a ‘one size fits all’ approach and we make sure that our ideas are right for our customers. We are proud to have created a group of venues that are fuelling the spirit of quality independence in the Midlands.” Bitters ‘n Twisted was founded by Scriven in 2006 and operates eight other venues across Birmingham and the West Midlands including The Victoria, Island Bar, The Jekyll & Hyde and The Rose Villa Tavern, employing a total of 170 people.

Dragon’s Den star Duncan Bannatyne buys Bury St Edmund’s hotel and spa:
Duncan Bannatyne, star of the BBC show Dragon’s Den, has added a hotel and spa in Bury St Edmunds to his portfolio. Bannatyne Group, which already owns hotels, spas and health clubs across the country, has purchased Clarice House from The Clarice House Group for an undisclosed sum. Facilities at the 20-acre site in Horringer Road include a hotel, a day spa with a 20m swimming pool, a state-of-the-art gym and an AA Rosette award-winning restaurant. The Neo-Jacobean mansion will be an addition to Bannatyne Group’s growing East Anglian portfolio, which includes spas in Norwich and Peterborough and a health club in Colchester. A Bannatyne Group spokesperson told the Bury Free Press: “This is a small local investment for an undisclosed sum. We are happy with the local management and the facilities will operate as normal. Terms and conditions of existing membership agreements will be honoured.”

Turtle Bay set to open first inner London site in Brixton: Caribbean restaurant Turtle Bay is set to launch its 20th site – and first in inner London – in Brixton. The company is investing £800,000 opening the 4,000 sq ft restaurant in Brixton Road next month, creating 60 jobs. It is also planning to use local artists, music and produce from Brixton’s Caribbean community. Turtle Bay’s operation manager Eddie Coyne told the Brixton Guardian: “The best things about Brixton are the people and community – Turtle Bay is a family and we are looking forward to employing great people from the local area.” Turtle Bay, which was founded by Ajith Jayawickrema in 2011, has restaurants across the UK including in Nottingham, Bristol and Southampton.

Boston Tea Party set to open in Moseley suburb of Birmingham:
Cafe company Boston Tea Party is set to open a new site in the Moseley suburb of Birmingham. The company has been granted a licence by Birmingham City Council to convert a derelict garage in Alchester Road into its latest venue, which is expected to open early next year. Boston Tea Party managing director Sam Roberts told the Birmingham Mail: “We are firm believers in not compromising on the quality of our produce or the socially-focused ethics of our business, and we aim to ensure each new Boston Tea Party is a completely unique venue, designed especially to complement its community, and to directly benefit the people who live and work there. We’re delighted to have been granted a licence to renovate a former garage in Moseley and create a new café-bar, which we hope will become a cherished hub for this vibrant community.”

Wagamama opens in Coventry: Wagamama has opened its new site in Coventry city centre. The company has opened the 160-seat restaurant at the Cathedral Lanes Shopping Centre in Broadgate, creating nearly 60 jobs. Global brand director Simon Cope told the Coventry Telegraph: “We are very pleased to be opening the doors to our new restaurant in Coventry, where Wagamama will continue to reinforce positive eating by using fresh ingredients, served in atmospheric surroundings.” Wagamama has joined Casual Dining Group’s South American-inspired restaurant Las Iguanas at the site while Loungers brand Cosy Club is due to open at the end of next week. Coventry is experiencing an explosion of foodservice outlets, with 124 new restaurants and takeaways opening across the city in the past 12 months.

Eddie Rocket’s set to open second Northern Ireland site in Belfast: US-style diner and burger bar Eddie Rocket’s is set to launch its first outlet in Belfast – its second site in Northern Ireland. The company, which operates 35 outlets across Ireland, is opening its latest franchised restaurant in Lisburn Road, creating 40 jobs. The new venue is currently going through the planning process, but the company has already started advertising for staff. The Irish-owned company first set up shop in Northern Ireland at The Quays shopping centre in Newry in January as part of a £1m investment, bringing 25 jobs. Most of the stores are operated as franchise businesses, which cost anywhere between €500,000 (£365,000) and €1.2m (£880,000) to get off the ground. That includes building and design as well as staff training. Founder and chief executive Niall Fortune told the Belfast Telegraph: “The group has plans for further expansion and is always keen to hear from potential franchisees. The chain hopes that by 2018, there will be 100 Eddie Rocket’s and Rocket’s by Eddie Rockets throughout Ireland and Europe.” The company currently has nearly 40 sites across Eire and Northern Ireland.

Nomura – SABMiller and Diageo should merge: Analysts at Nomura have argued the case for a SABMiller and Diageo merger. A note stated: “We see strong pressure on both Diageo and SABMiller management to create value for shareholders. In our [recent] SABMiller review we discussed potential benefits from a more entrepreneurial culture as well as margin upside from a tighter focus on costs. In our Diageo review we investigated ways to create value through spinning off businesses such as beer or Reserve Brands. [But] would it be enough in a world in which forex and slower macroeconomic conditions are creating more headwinds for profit growth? A report in the UK press (Sunday Times, 29 August) that SABMiller has been consulting new advisors about a possible bid defence appears to show that the company feels under threat still from a bid from AB InBev; for Diageo, updating for forex moves last week, we now estimate slightly negative earnings per share growth this year in what was supposed to be a recovery year. That made us think about SABGEO, a merger of equals of Diageo and SABMiller. Although Diageo is now making less of its total beverage alcohol strategy, we believe that a more balanced portfolio of beer and spirits could produce material upside. With broadly similar market capitalisations, we see such a deal adding 18% to combined net profits, assuming £1bn of cost synergies and some benefit on tax, with minimal regulatory issues to subtract value.”

Restaurant worker launches first venture in joint £700,000 investment with Star Pubs & Bars: Savan Patel, who worked in his father’s Indian restaurant, has taken on his first venture in Wembley, a pub owned by Star Pubs & Bars in a joint £700,000 investment. Patel has taken over the running of The Arch in Harrow Road, which is being transformed into a bar, restaurant and 15-bedroom hotel, on a 25-year lease. The site, formerly known as The Greyhound, will reopen in mid-October after a three-year closure, creating 15 jobs. It has been renamed The Arch in reference to its arch shaped windows and the arches of Wembley. The outside of the building is being repaired and its 45 windows replaced. A garden and patio area will be created at the front and side replacing the car park. The inside is being stripped and knocked through into one large space. A new kitchen is being installed and dining area created. It will serve an Indian menu, with a street food inspired lunch offering, all with an Indian twist. Patel, who worked in his father’s Indian restaurant Club 2000 in Rayners Lane, Harrow, told the Kilburn Times: “We’re there for the long run. It’s such a prominent and iconic building, it’s been sad to see it boarded up for so long. All it needed was an investment of time and money and I’ll certainly be giving it both.”

BrewDog founders respond to transphobia criticism: The founders of BrewDog have responded to a petition calling on them to remove an advert accused of transphobia. More than 8,000 people have called on BrewDog to remove an advert many have labelled transphobic. Thousands of customers have promised to boycott the company unless the offending video is removed. The video – called Don’t Make Us Do This – asks fans of the company to become “investors”. In order to “avoid embarrassment”, co-founders James Watt and Martin Dickie then beg viewers not force them into damaging or humiliating experiences. A few examples of such experiences are then given – such as begging for money on the streets or becoming a trans sex worker. Watt and Dickie are then shown standing in a brothel window in women’s underwear and a wig. Watt and Dickie then say they “need a bath”. Now, in a statement sent to the Drum, Watt said: “The video we created was to launch the CrowdCube aspect of Equity for Punks and was made in the spirit of fun and sending ourselves up – it’s a shame that some people have taken offence where none was intended. We have a history of supporting and championing the LGBT community, and will continue doing so – watch this space.”

Multi-site operator in talks with Enterprise Inns to take on Clevedon pub: Multi-site operator Nick Wring has started talks with Enterprise Inns to take on one of its pubs in Clevedon for his Tiffin brand. Wring, who already runs a tea house at The Beach on Clevedon seafront and a restaurant in Jersey under the brand, wants to take on the lease of the Campbell’s Landing pub on the seafront, which has been closed since early 2014. He plans to convert part of the first floor – currently hotel rooms – into a restaurant area and aims to open the new pub in April next year. An Enterprise Inns spokesperson told the Bristol Post: “We are currently reviewing options for the site and hope to provide a further update as soon as possible.” Wring also intends to open an upmarket fish and chip tea room for one summer season from next March at Portishead Open Air Pool in Somerset – in a space occupied until recently by burger business the Radical Burger Company. He is already opening a new Tiffin restaurant at Clevedon Pier’s new £2.25m visitor centre, which is due to open in December this year, as well as a Tiffin ice cream parlour and bar in the pagoda.

Simon French – Greene King results ‘slightly better than expected’: Cenkos Securities leisure analyst Simon French has issued a ‘Buy’ note on Greene King shares in the wake of yesterday’s (Tuesday, 8 September) trading update which he described as “slightly better than expected”. He said: “Greene King has reported a slightly better than expected trading update with like-for-like sales in retail up 1.9% over the last ten weeks, ahead of expectation of broadly flat, to bring year-to-date like-for-like sales growth to 1.3%; Scotland continues to act as a drag on the group with the impact of drink-driving regulations having a 50bps negative effect at group level. Pub partners have reported 2.0% like-for-like net income growth after 16 weeks and own-brewed volume in brewing and brands has increased 1.7% year-to-date. The acquired Spirit business, where integration is going well, generated 0.8% like-for-like sales growth in managed and like-for-like 1.1% net income growth in leased year-to-date. The stock is inexpensive trading on a CY2016E adjusted EV/Ebitdar of 8.7x and yielding 4.0%. With fairly predictable circa 8% three-year compound annual growth rate in earnings per share, underpinned by synergy delivery, we reiterate our ‘Buy’ recommendation.”

Somerset-based Italian restaurant concept Castello set to start expanding with second site: Somerset-based Italian restaurant concept Castello is set to start expanding with a second site in the county. Jay Marchetti, who launched the concept in Frome two years ago, has been given permission by Bath and North East Somerset Council to convert the former NatWest bank in Radstock town centre into a restaurant. Marchetti told the Somerset Guardian: “This will be something very good for the town and the Radstock community. We hope it will bring in people from Peasedown St John and Midsomer Norton as well.” The restaurant is permitted to open from 8am till 11pm Monday to Saturday and 10am till 10.30pm on Sundays and bank holidays.

Mission Mars’ £3.5m Albert’s Schloss concept to create 80 jobs: Mission Mars, the vehicle by Revolution Vodka Bar founders Roy Ellis and Neil Macleod having acquired a 50% stake in Manchester-based bar operator Trof Group, has revealed its new Albert’s Schloss concept will create 80 jobs. The £3.5m Cook Haus and Bier Palace is being launched on the ground floor of the grade II-listed 3,000 capacity Albert Hall, which offers a total of 24,000 sq ft of space, on Peter Street, in October. The menus will be curated by group executive chef director Dan Mullen and will feature Bavarian, Bohemian and Alpine inspired dishes served with a contemporary twist, and fresh bread, pretzels, pastries and puddings made in the in-house bakery. Albert’s Schloss general manager Andy Marshall told the Manchester Evening News: “We want to recruit the best of the best, great people who are passionate about working for us and excited about being part of our Bohemian pleasure palace.” The Trof Group has been running the 2,500 capacity upstairs area of the Albert Hall as a live music venue for two years.

Starbucks refused permission to demolish church and build drive-thru cafe in Swansea:
Starbucks has been refused permission to demolish a 102-year-old church in Swansea and replace it with a drive-thru cafe. The company wanted to bulldoze the Gendros English Congregational Church in Carmarthen Road and build a 1,800 sq ft “coffee house” but Swansea City Council rejected the proposal on road safety and conservation grounds, reports the South Wales Evening Post. Cardiff-based applicants Douglas Gregg LLP had proposed a “modern and visually appealing” Starbucks venue, which would create 30 jobs, but the council said the new unit would increase congestion on the already-busy Carmarthen Road. The council also agreed with conservationists who said demolishing the church, which was built in 1913, would harm the character of the area while residents claimed there was no need for another local coffee outlet.

Topland Group extends Hallmark Hotels brand by uniting portfolio: Topland Group is bringing its Hallmark Hotels and Menzies Hotels portfolio of 20 properties together under one brand from this month. The company, led by billionaire Sol Zakay, is uniting the two under the newly extended Hallmark Hotels brand. To complement the expansion, a new website will be launched, where all the hotels can be directly booked. Topland has committed to investing millions in the portfolio, including a refurbishment of bedrooms, complimentary high-speed Wi-Fi, and state-of-the-art gym equipment. Zakay said: “I am delighted to see the continued growth and development of Topland’s hotel investment with the expansion of The Hallmark Hotel brand. Whilst ensuring consistently high standards are maintained across the existing portfolio, Topland will continue to operate with a mandate to seek out properties of similar quality with the objective of building a £1bn hotel business.” Topland’s owned and managed portfolio stands at 29 hotels approaching 3,000 rooms.

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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