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Mon 14th Sep 2015 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Charles Dunstone acquires UK rights to US better pizza brand MOD Pizza: Charles Dunstone has acquired the UK franchise rights to Seattle-based ‘better pizza’ concept MOD Pizza in a new joint venture with its US owners. Its founders Scott and Ally Svenson, lived in the UK for 11 years and created the Seattle Coffee Company that they later sold to Starbucks. London’s Mod culture helped to inspire the pizza chain’s name when it was founded in Seattle in 2008. “There’s a coming-home component to it,” said Ally Svenson. MOD, which stands for “made-on-demand”, uses high-quality ingredients and allows customisation while ordering at the counter. Dunstone and his business partner Roger Taylor launched Five Guys in the UK in 2013. Dunstone said in a statement that “MOD will translate extremely well across the United Kingdom”. MOD has raised more than $70m from investors and has 69 sites in 12 US states. It expects to have 100 by the end of the year, mostly by opening new stores itself, but also by partnering up with others. The UK openings will be a 50-50 partnership between MOD and Freston Ventures, an entity owned by Dunstone and Taylor, Svenson told The Seattle Times. The partnership is likely to open a “bunch” of stores in the first year of operations, starting in the first half of 2016, Svenson said. He added that the number of locations might be similar to what Dunstone and Taylor did with Five Guys: perhaps five or six in the beginning, then 20 the second year. Eventually there could be “hundreds” of locations, he said. Svenson said MOD practices “enlightened capitalism”, which means competing aggressively but also treating employees well. For example, its pays relatively high salaries compared with prevailing restaurant wages, starting at around $11 an hour, although it’s more in some places, says a company spokeswoman. Svenson told The Seattle Times that staff members get more leeway in self-expression and decision-making than they typically do in the food retail sector. Opening stores in London, perhaps the ultimate global city, gives MOD visibility all over the world, and could be a platform for further expansion. “It’s a door to the rest of Europe, and also to the Middle East,” Svenson told the newspaper.

Industry News:

Restaurant data guru Mike Lukianoff to present at Propel Multi Club Conference: Data expert Mike Lukianoff, founder of Czar Metrics, now owned by Fishbowl, will present at the Propel Multi Club Conference on Thursday 5 November at the Lancaster Hotel, London. Lukianoff will talk about the ground-breaking work his company is doing in the US with a host of well-known restaurant brands, using data to shape menu and price engineering, media efficiency and trade area analytics. 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

Sector companies are invited to benchmark themselves: More than 70 companies took part in the first sector Benchmarking Survey last year, conducted by Propel in partnership with accountants haysmacintyre. All contributions are confidential and go to haysmacintyre without being seen by Propel. Companies are invited to take part in this year’s survey by clicking through on the link below (it should take about 15 minutes to complete) – all contributors receive a copy as soon as it’s published: Deadline for inclusion is this Friday (18 September).

Research finds restaurants are first choice for Christmas meal among two-thirds of consumers: A survey into by guest experience management experts HospitalityGEM has found that 68% of UK consumers plan to book a restaurant for their office Christmas party over celebrations at pubs, bars and hotels. Some 70% of respondents choosing to dine in a pub stated they would spend between £15 and £45 per head, whilst 47% of diners choosing a restaurant environment would be willing to spend between £30 and £45. A resounding 98% of respondents would expect to have their table for a minimum of two hours, but also expect to stay as long as their group wanted. Only 2% of respondents would be happy with a table for just one hour. When booking a Christmas meal with friends 42% would choose to book by phone (with roughly the same proportion choosing online). 72% expect the process to take between one and five minutes and 38% would choose to make the call between noon and 3pm. Steven Pike, managing director of HospitalityGEM, said: “Christmas is a make or break time for operators as guests are expecting one of the most memorable and amazing hospitality experiences of the year. With two thirds of guests looking to try somewhere new, it is even more important that operators get the offering for each party spot on every time, as it could turn into the first visit of many for a new diner. But securing the bookings in the first place is essential – remember that the most common time for people to make booking enquiries is during the busy lunch period.”

MillerCoors makes first craft brewery acquisition in the US: MillerCoors has bought its first craft brewery, Saint Archer Brewing, based in San Diego. Saint Archer expects to sell 35,000 barrels of beer this year. Recent acquisitions have valued craft brewers at more than $1,000 a barrel, which would value the San Diego brewery at more than $35 million. The deal, which is expected to close next month, is the latest in a series of craft brewery acquisitions by large brewers. Last week, Heineken bought a 50% stake in Lagunitas Brewing Co, the sixth largest independent brewer in the US, and Anheuser-Busch InBev NV has bought four craft breweries since 2011. Craft beer’s share of the US beer market rose to 9% last year from 3% in 2003, while share for mainstream beers collectively fell to 77% from 86% over the same period, according to industry tracker Beer Marketer’s Insights. MillerCoors found Saint Archer appealing because the brewer is located in a strong craft beer market, has a leading India Pale Ale known as Saint Archer IPA and has no distribution outside California, which will allow MillerCoors to spread it across its network of distributors nationwide.

Tim Martin sets out admiration for Sam Walton’s business philosophy: JD Wetherspoon founder Tim Martin has set out the reasons he admires the business philosophy of Walmart founder Sam Walton. In an interview for the Talking Newspaper for the Blind, he stated: “He started in a small town of four or five thousand people in Arkansas in the USA. He had a certain philosophy of business. He wasn’t egotistical and had a reputation for looking after his staff and he offered reasonable price. He was also very good at taking people along with him, rather than being dictatorial. In general, he had a high talent in a collection of areas which you need to be, to be a good retailer – although supermarkets are very different from pubs. I thought the range of skills that he had, the fact that he was in tune with the public and didn’t talk in business jargon was a pretty good role model for anyone in any type of business.”

Crawley lays claim to most ubiquitous Costa Coffee town with 17th outlet planned: Crawley is laying claim to having the most ubiquitous Costa Coffee presence in the UK with a 17th outlet planned for the town. Whitbread plans to convert a meeting room at its Premier Inn site on Fleming Way, in Manor Royal, into a Costa Coffee outlet. It was recently revealed that a new Esso garage in Broadfield will have a Costa Coffee counter, which will become the 16th place in Crawley to buy the brand.

Restaurant companies move to introduce sugar tax could breach competition laws: The Jamie Oliver move to convince other restaurant companies to introduce a 10p sugar tax could break competition law, it has been claimed. So far two other firms, Leon and Abokada, have introduced the tax. Dominic Watkins, from law firm DWF, said: “Discussions about selling price between businesses at the same level of the supply chain carry a significant risk of being anti-competitive. A breach of competition law can result in fines and imprisonment.”

BrewDog mini-bond on Crowdcube raises £1m: The BrewDog mini-bond, paying 6.5% interest over four years, has raised more than £1m on Crowdcube. The company is looking raise more than £6m via the mini-bond – 318 investors have pledged £1,061,000 so far. Meanwhile, its parallel equity offer on Crowdcube has raised £223,335 from 352 investors.

Company News:

Mayfair Equity Partners in pole position on YO! Sushi auction: A new investment firm Mayfair Equity Partners, led by former Lloyds bank buyout specialist Daniel Sasaki, has taken pole position in the £100m auction for YO! Sushi, according to reports. The suggestion is that previous front-runner Inflexion began to chip at the YO! Sushi asking price, but could still return with another bid. Earlier this month, YO! Sushi UK reported turnover rose to £75,813,083 in the year ending 30 November 2014 compared to £71,046,785 in the previous year. In Companies House documents, it reported pre-tax profit fell to £3,847,758 from £4,693,872 the year before. Underlying like-for-like sales grew 3.8% for the year with Ebitda of £10,061,000, an increase of 7.8%

NYC Bar & Grill to open third site: East Midlands-based NYC Bar & Grill, which was founded in Bawtry in December 2013, is to open it third site. NYC Bar & Grill, which specialises in burgers, hot dogs, ribs, chicken, ice-cream, pancakes, waffles and bagels, has confirmed its third opening will be in Lincoln but hasn’t indicated where yet. The company also operates a site in Wood Street, Doncaster and states on its website that more openings are planned for early 2016. 

Carluccio’s opens on London’s South Bank development: Carluccio’s has opened on London’s South Bank development, NEO Bankside. The brand occupies a 4,420 square foot unit in Pavilion A of the development, directly opposite the Tate Modern. Carluccio’s joins Prescott & Conran-owned Cafe Albion, situated in Pavilion B of NEO Bankside. James Henderson, development director at Native Land said: “Carluccio’s is a welcome addition to NEO Bankside that will enhance the range of food and beverage available not only to NEO Bankside residents but to many thousands of people that visit the Bankside area each day.” The 119-cover restaurant was let by NEO Bankside’s agent Davis Coffer Lyons. Simon Kossoff, chairman of Carluccio’s said: “NEO Bankside is positioned in a thriving area and we’re thrilled to have opened Carluccio’s within the development.”

KFC UK sign for data analytics software: KFC UK and Ireland has signed an agreement to license Applied Predictive Technologies’ data analytics software in a bid to drive profit and increase customer satisfaction. “APT enables us to clearly understand the cause-and-effect relationship between our business initiatives and outcomes,” said Paula MacKenzie, chief finance and development officer at KFC. “We now have a deep understanding of how remodelling a restaurant affects our customers and helps to grow our sales.” MacKenzie said that APT helped KFC to make its trials more accurate, efficient and process driven. Chris Holmes, KFC’s commercial director, said that previously it had been difficult for KFC to determine whether a specific product was having an impact on sales. “APT enables us accurately to measure the ‘halo’ and ‘cannibalisation’ effect of new product introductions, manage menu complexity, and by doing so, ensure that the items we introduce not only drive profitability but also increase guest satisfaction,” he said.

Intertain opens £1m new concept in Birmingham to cater for “ever more sophisticated customers”: Walkabout operator Intertain has opened a £1m new concept, “6 on Broad Street” in Birmingham, a conversion of its Bar Risa site. The new concept houses six individual rooms: a ‘Cabana Beach Bar’ serving up fruit smoothies, cocktails and Ibiza classics; a pop room playing tunes from the 80s through to the 2000s, which guests will enter through a neon tunnel and dance on the illuminated floor; a rock room playing classic rock and indie; a club room which starts with Jongleurs comedy and follows with dance anthems; a speakeasy cocktail bar called ‘Suds ‘n’ Duds’ which can be discovered only by a hidden entrance within the venue itself and contains a mock-up of a launderette; The Terrace – an informal atrium area, linking the outside with the in, creating a space for informal and relaxed drinks and dining. The investment has created 40 new jobs. Intertain chief executive John Leslie said: “6 on Broad Street is a very exciting development for us. Our research has shown us that consumers – who are more sophisticated than ever before – are looking for increasingly exciting entertainment solutions. This new venue will provide something for everyone, from a sit down meal to comedy and a club night.”

US entrepreneur plans Soho House rival in Shoreditch: US entrepreneur Michael Achenbaum is to open a £70m private members’ club in Shoreditch to rival the site operated by Soho House group nearby. Achenbaum, president of the exclusive Gansevoort Hotel Group, owns two of New York’s most fashionable hotels – Gansevoort Meatpacking and Gansevoort Park Avenue. He plans to open The Curtain Hotel and Private Members’ Club, his first members’ club. The club on Curtain Road will have nine storeys, including three basement levels and will open next year. The new venue will have a 1,600 square foot rooftop pool area, cafe and bar with views across the City. The hotel will have 120 rooms, compared to Soho House group’s Shoreditch House’s 26. A multi-Michelin star chef has been signed to host his first London restaurant at the hotel, The London Evening Standard has reported.

Hakkasan to open 12th site in Bahrain: UK-based nightclub and restaurant company Hakkasan Group has partnered with Kerzner International and Sevens Holding to open a Hakkasan restaurant at the One & Only resort opening in Seef, Bahrain. Located on the resort’s private beachfront, Hakkasan at One & Only Bahrain will be overseen by Michelin-starred international executive chef, Ho Chee Boon. “We are delighted to be partnering with One & Only in Bahrain to open our 12th Hakkasan restaurant,” said Hakkasan group president Nick McCabe. “One & Only shares many of the same philosophies that we hold such as providing unrivalled and memorable experiences to guests.”

Bakery brand Paul opening second restaurant, in the City of London, containing first wine bar today: Artisan bakery and patisserie Paul opened its second London restaurant in Tower 42, the City skyscraper, on Friday (11 September). Following the opening of the first Le Restaurant de Paul on Covent Garden’s Bedford Street – part of a new brand extension last autumn – Tower 42 is the second site in the company’s restaurant portfolio and will also house a bakery, hosting monthly bread-making masterclasses as well as the brand’s first destination wine bar. Located on the ground level of the tower, the new 4,144 square foot site is the largest restaurant yet, with 93 covers inside and a further 40 outdoors. Open all day, with a budgeted average spend of £18 per head, Le Restaurant de Paul Tower 42 will be offering breakfast, brunch, afternoon tea and sharing platters using produce from artisan French cheesemongers and the Queen’s butcher Donald Russell.

Mitchells & Butlers launches money-saving app for sports fans: Mitchells & Butlers has launched a money-saving app for sports fans to use at its Sizzling Pubs, O’Neills, Crown Carvaries and Oak Tree Pubs brands. The company has partnered with technology company Eagle Eye Solutions to offer customers discounts and freebies on selected food and drinks during major televised games through its “Green Card” app. The free app has a host of features including fixtures lists, live results, a “Find your Local” map and a digital wallet so customers can store their offers and rewards for use at a later date if they choose. It also links up with the Sky Sports News homepage so users are kept up to date with the latest sports news. The launch comes after a successful season of paper loyalty cards, also supported by Eagle Eye, which resulted in 2.7 million redemptions taking place across the period. Mikey Duffy, marketing manager of Sizzling Pubs, O’Neill’s, Crown Carveries and Oak Tree Pubs, said: “We have seen some fantastic results since we piloted the card based scheme last season. It’s really exciting to be working with Eagle Eye to provide innovative solutions that help us stay connected with our customers and reward their loyalty.”

Loungers Cosy Club and Soho Coffee Co sign up to £30m Cheltenham development: Loungers brand Cosy Club and Soho Coffee Co have signed up to the £30m The Brewery retail and leisure complex in Cheltenham town centre. A 5,000 square foot Cosy Club site is planned on the first floor while Cheltenham-based Soho Coffee Company has taken a 1,200 square foot unit on the ground floor, reports Property Week. Earlier this year, Whitbread-owned Premier Inn announced it would open a 104-bedroom hotel, meaning the first block of the phased redevelopment is almost fully pre-let 12 months before completion. Once finished, The Brewery will be the biggest mixed-use scheme in the town, comprising more than 300,000 square feet.

Five restaurant brands agree sites at Staines-upon-Thames shopping centre: Five restaurant brands have agreed sites at the Two Rivers shopping centre in Staines-upon-Thames, Surrey. Wagamama and Gourmet Burger Kitchen have taken 3,760 square foot and 3,500 square foot respectively at the complex, which is jointly owned by funds of Aberdeen Asset Management and M&G Real Estate, reports Property Week. TGI Friday’s has exchanged on a 7,190 square foot unit, and Pret A Manger and US-style dessert cafe Kaspa’s have taken a combined 6,450 square foot of space. The lettings, which also include four other retail companies, has seen more than 84,500 square feet of new space exchange, bringing the scheme to 99% let. Lunson Mitchenall and Morgan Williams are the joint agents for Two Rivers.

Freehold of boutique hotel in Leeds on market for £2.5m: The freehold of boutique hotel The New Ellington in the middle of Leeds city centre has been put up for sale through agent Colliers International with an asking price of £2.5m. The hotel is being sold on behalf of RBS which recently completed the development of the hotel which is located at 23-25 York Place within Leeds’ central business district. The New Ellington Hotel offers a bar and restaurant as well as meeting and conferencing facilities. It has 34 en-suite bedrooms, alongside contemporary boardrooms and a popular bar called the ‘Gin Garden’. Julian Troup, head of UK Hotels, Colliers International, said: “It’s not often that hotels in the centre of Leeds come to the open market, so we expect to see a great deal of interest from a wide range of potential buyers.”

BrewDog to open first site in Belgium, second bar in Finland: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog is set to open its first site in Belgium this month and a second bar in Finland before the end of the year. It is launching BrewDog Brussels to its Equity Punks shareholders on Sunday for a special preview evening before opening to the public next weekend. The company stated: “When it comes to beer, there’s nowhere quite like Belgium. Its styles have influenced the world. It is a melting pot of ideas and history; brewing innovation is undertaken in what in other countries would be considered living museums. Beer permeates into every level of society. It is, quite simply, unique. And we can’t wait to play a part in it.” Located at Putterie/Putterij 20, BrewDog Brussels is across the road from the Central Station, in a curving listed building that served for 40 years as the downtown check-in centre for the Belgian national airline, Sabena. It added: “While we’re on the subject of new European BrewDog bars, we can also reveal the location of another hop hideout! Before the end of the year we will have our second bar in Finland. Step forward, BrewDog Turku!”

Esquires Coffee plans 200 UK sites with launch of franchise website: Esquires Coffee has launched a dedicated franchise website. As part of the brand’s plans for growth in the UK, the new website will provide prospective franchisees information on the opportunities in the UK. The new website will also provide regular news updates on Esquires Coffee’s expansion, as well as information on the current UK coffee market and trends in the industry. Esquires Coffee aim to be operating 200 stores in the UK by the end of 2020 and is actively recruiting new franchise owners.

Bristol-based steakhouse brand The Ox reveals details of second site in Cheltenham: Bristol-based steak brand The Ox has revealed the details of its second site in Cheltenham. The concept, which launched in 2013, is opening in Cambray Place in the basement of the building that is home to hairdresser Vanilla’s, in October. Work has started on transforming the site into a 100-seat restaurant and the company is advertising for staff. Managing director Nathan Lee told the Gloucestershire Echo: “There are some really strong independent restaurants and bars in Cheltenham and we want to join them and balance out the food and drink offering which has been largely dominated by large national chains.” Lee set up Bristol bars Hyde and Co and The Milk Thistle with two business partners five years ago before launching The Ox in Corn Street in November 2013.

Blumenthal-trained chef to launch first restaurant this week: Chef Christopher White, who trained under Heston Blumenthal, will launch his first restaurant this week. White, who worked for Blumenthal at The Fat Duck and The Hinds Head in Bray, Berkshire, is opening The White Spoon in Cheltenham on Friday (18 September). The 42-cover venue is based in Royal Well Road on the site of the former Cheltenham Dandy restaurant. White told the Gloucestershire Echo: “I’m not trying to be the next Heston or follow in his footsteps. Instead, The White Spoon will be a restaurant of its own style entirely and will simply draw on my learnings from Heston’s team including Clive Dixon, who was a huge mentor to me. My restaurant will bring a little touch of Heston’s magic to Cheltenham, but serving dishes to savour and enjoy, rather than scientific experiments on the plate.” White will run the restaurant with his wife Purdey Spooner with the name of the venue taking its inspiration from their last names.

Maida Vale pub operator starts expanding portfolio with second site: Andrew Fishwick, who operates the multi-award winning Truscott Arms in Maida Vale, has started expanding his portfolio by launched his second site – the Truscott Cellar wine bar. Fishwick has opened the venue on the site of one of London’s first Chinese restaurants, The Weng Wah House, in Haverstock Hill. Set over two floors with “a sustainable British wood theme”, the 60-cover site has a menu cooked up by the former head chef at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal Aidan McGee, which includes mushroom Welsh rarebit, creamed haddock and spring onion, and slow braised beef cheek with smoked mash. The wine list features 50 choices of wines by the glass, championing both small and rare producers. There is also a British charcuterie, artisan British cheeses and a Billingsgate fish board featuring house potted shrimps, cured eel, whitebait and pepper crackers. Fishwick opened the Truscott Arms in 2013.

Modern Pantry opens second site in London: The Modern Pantry, the restaurant run by chef Anna Hansen, has opened its second site in London. The concept has launched in The Alphabeta Building in Finsbury Square. The menu fuses classic ingredients with modern flavours serving breakfast, lunch, dinner and afternoon tea. Hansen, who received an MBE for services to the restaurant industry in 2013, opened the first Modern Pantry in St John’s Square, Clerkenwell, in 2008.

Chef to co-launch new steakhouse and beer restaurant concept Beef & Brew today: Beef & Brew, a new steakhouse and beer restaurant concept, is to launch its first site in Kentish Town, London, today (Monday, 14 September). The venture is the brainchild of Jessica Simmons, who set up the kitchen at London Fields Brewery and is Beef & Brew’s head chef, and Daniel Nathan. The menu shies away from loins, ribs and fillets and instead embraces rumps, flat irons and onglets. There are also non-beef dishes including crispy fried chicken and vegetarian options. The drinks list is beer focused with Simmons, who worked as a chef for Angela Hartnett at both Murano and the Whitechapel Gallery Dining Room, using it in a number of her recipes. “Beer flights will offer the chance to sample a range of brews from across the country while there will also be a range of wines and cocktails.”

Hubbox to open fifth site in Plymouth, hunts investor for further expansion: The better burger brand Hubbox will open its fifth site in Plymouth next month and is on the hunt for an investor to help with further expansion. The company, founded by Richard Boon in 2003, will open in an empty unit in Old Town Street, just outside Drake Circus Shopping Centre. The new two-storey Hubbox will open in the former Whittard tea and coffee shop, between Nando’s and Costa. Whittard of Chelsea went into administration in late 2008 and the unit has been empty since. Boon hopes the latest restaurant will see the company reach a £5.5 million turnover, but is now looking for an investor to help continue expanding the concept. He told the Western Morning News: “We want to keep our product right, keep the price right and treat both our customers and suppliers well. These are our core values and we aim to keep it that way. But we are keen to see an investor come on board to help us take the company forward.” The company’s flagship restaurant, the Hub, on St Ives waterfront recently invested in a £12,000 electronic coffee machine. It also has restaurants in Truro, Exeter and St Austell.

Al Tayer Group to operate first Serendipity 3 sites outside the US in Dubai: Al Tayer Group will launch the first two Serendipity 3 outlets in Dubai in December that will see the New York diner operate outside the US for the first time. The outlets will be at Dubai Festival City and The City Walk and are under an exclusive franchise agreement. Serendipity 3, founded by Calvin Holt, Patch Caradine and Stephen Bruce, has been one of New York City’s most beloved eateries for more than 60 years. The Dubai venues will offer the same menu as seen in the US with unique desserts including ornate sundaesand the famous signature Frrrozen Hot Chocolate as well as foot-long hot dogs, pizzas, pastas, burgers, sandwiches and breakfast options all with a twist. Bruce said: “This is an exciting chapter for Serendipity 3, to be launching our first overseas venture, in the Middle East. Serendipity 3 is an expression of Calvin, Patch and myself and has been an iconic New York City landmark for over 60 years. We hope that our outlets at Dubai Festival City and City Walk will also become landmark destinations, and look forward to delighting both our loyal customers there, who have enjoyed happy moments with us in New York, as well as introducing our beloved concept to new patrons in the UAE.” David Singleton, Al Tayer Group vice-president of hospitality, added: “The beauty of Serendipity 3 lies in the unique experience that it offers, with its massive, universal appeal to people of all ages and from all walks of life. Truly innovative, presenting decadent and delicious sweet and savory treats, all beautifully presented with a touch of whimsy, Serendipity 3 is a New York City treasure and we relish the opportunity to offer up the same world class experience to our Dubai patrons.”

Star Pubs & Bars to invest £230,000 in Corbridge pub: Star Pubs & Bars is to co-invest £230,000 in the historic Golden Lion in Corbridge with new licensees Mike Withington and Gill Hodgson. The investment will transform the tired local into a quality pub serving great food. Work is expected to take five weeks with the Golden Lion scheduled to reopen in mid October. Having returned from Greece where they ran restaurants, Withington and Hodgson spent months searching for the right pub before finding the Golden Lion. “Gill is from Newcastle so knew the area. We feel very lucky – the Golden Lion is a beautiful pub in a beautiful location and we fell in love with it as soon as we saw it. We’ve had a great welcome from the town and are looking forward to giving something back,” said Withington.

PizzaExpress rewards customers with ‘Memorable Moments’ campaign: PizzaExpress is running a campaign this month to reward more of its customers who share their “memorable moments” at its restaurants. The company has lined up treats including free meals, bottles of champagne and even Rugby World Cup tickets as part of its “Memorable Moments” campaign. It is aiming to turn even the most ordinary of moments into special memories having watched customers enjoy countless celebrations in its restaurants over the past 50 years. The campaign’s tagline “these are the moments worth sharing” is inspired by the constant stream of food shots, group pictures and “selfies” shared by customers through the company’s social channels using the #PizzaExpressMoments. Restaurant teams have also been asked to keep an eye out for tables celebrating something special. PizzaExpress head of communications Parveen Johal said: “Over the last 50 years we’ve been hugely privileged to be the place where so many of our customers have either marked important life occasions, or enjoyed a moment they will never forget. From first dates to engagements, they’ve all taken place in our restaurants. Our customers are constantly capturing these special moments and sharing them online so this is our way of creating even more exciting moments for them to share, and demonstrating how much we’ve enjoyed being part of their lives since we opened in 1965.”

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, 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, David 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, Luke Johnson, founder 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 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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