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Tue 15th Sep 2015 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Shortlist of UK best late-night operators unveiled: The short-listed finalists for the 2015 Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) Late Night Awards have been announced. The nominees include businesses from right across the late-night sector and represent the best of an innovative night-time economy. ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “This year’s nominees are the strongest group yet and we have been overwhelmed by the number of responses. We are seeing nominations from across a broad spectrum of businesses, highlighting what a fantastically varied sector and exciting time this is. The ALMR’s Late Night Awards are judged by a panel of industry leaders and peers making them the most comprehensive awards of their kind. We are all very much looking forward to the final stages of the judging process and honouring the businesses that are at the cutting edge of the late-night economy.” The nominees are: Late Night Food: Dirty Martini, Grand Union Bars, Blues Kitchen (Colombo Group), Reds True Barbecue and My Lahore; Late Night Drink: New World Trading Company, Bierkeller (Burning Night Group), TCG, Eclectic Bars and Revolution Bars Group; Entertainment: The Deltic Group, Steam and Rye, Mama & Co, Ministry of Sound and DHP Family: Service and Team: Beds & Bars, Stonegate Pubs, Inception Group and Be At One; Marketing and Promotion: Tokyo Industries, Novus Leisure, Intertain and Manhattans; Best Venue: Koko (Mint Group), Fabric, Egg London, Forge (Novus Leisure), Oceana, Southampton, Casa Stafford, Opium (The Breakfast Group) and Bierkeller, Cardiff (Burning Night Group). Industry peers can now cast their votes for their top nominees in each category before the judging panel makes a final decision. The winners will be announced at this year’s Dusk ‘til Dawn ceremony, in association with Propel Info, on Tuesday, 27 October at Cafe de Paris, London. The judging panel consists of: Kate Nicholls, ALMR; Paul Charity, Propel Info; Michael Troy, Matthew Clark; Dean Ince, Molson Coors; Jerry Shedden, Bacardi; Jamal Hirani, Orderella; Olivia Fitzgerald, LiveRes; Dan Davies, CPL Training; Craig Brew, Nicoccino and Phil Tate, CGA Strategy.

Industry News:

Ann Elliott to present on leadership survey at Propel Multi Club Conference: Ann Elliott, founder of leading sector public relations and marketing firm Elliotts, will present at the Propel Multi Club Conference on Thursday, 5 November at the Lancaster Hotel, London. She will present the findings of a large-scale survey of senior industry executives on the subject of “outstanding leadership”. 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 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 haysmacinytyre 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).

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

Starbucks expecting to complete mobile ordering and payment roll-out at US company-owned sites this month: Starbucks is expecting to complete the roll-out of mobile ordering and payment to all its 7,400 company-owned sites in the US by the end of September. The company has also said mobile ordering and payment will also be available this month to Android users, reports Nation’s Restaurant News. Starbucks chief financial officer Scott Maw told the 22nd annual Goldman Sachs Global Retailing Conference in New York: “We know we have a winner, and it’s running ahead of our expectations.” Maw also predicted the roll-out would boost membership of its My Starbucks Rewards scheme. Mobile ordering and payment was first introduced in the US in Portland, Oregon, last December. In July, Starbucks said mobile ordering and payment accounted for 20% of transactions, or about $9m every week. The company has already announced it will start moving into delivery with sites in New York and Seattle set to begin trialling the initiative before an anticipated roll-out next year.

Daily Mirror claims Whitbread boss Andy Harrison earns £1,000 an hour: The Daily Mirror has launched an implicit attack on Whitbread chief executive Andy Harrison, who, it claims, earned £1,000 an hour last year whilst warning that his business will need to raise prices if the National Living Wage is introduced. It then claimed he earned £25,000 a day over a 15-month period (which is more like £3,000 an hour). The newspaper stated: “This year, on top of his £4.5m pay and bonus package, he has netted nearly £6.9m from selling tens of thousands of shares in the firm. That means he has enjoyed an income of more than £11.4m in 15 months – £25,000 a day. Harrison, 58, provoked uproar last week when he claimed that while Whitbread supported the minimum wage, the scale of the increase would ‘pose a challenge to the firm’, which made pre-tax profits of £464m over the past year. Around 16,000 of Whitbread’s 39,000-strong workforce will qualify for the 70p-an-hour rise. Harrison said it would add between £15m and £20m a year to the firm’s wage bill.”

London restaurant app Uncover hits 110,000 downloads, has over 300 venues on books: London restaurant app Uncover, which allows users to discover and book the capital’s most desirable restaurants at the last minute, has now reached more than 110,000 downloads and has over 300 venues on its books. Among the new restaurants to offer last minute cancellations through the app are Fenchurch at the Sky Garden, The Delaunay, The Shed and Andina. As previously reported, the app has delivered over £650,000 of incremental revenue to its portfolio of venues since launching in February after securing £1m in seed funding last year.

Company News:

The Restaurant Group hires Savills to find sites for Joe’s Kitchen: The Restaurant Group has hired Savills to advise on new acquisitions across the UK for the development of its Joe’s Kitchen brand. An all-day casual dining concept, Joe’s Kitchen is focusing on expanding in prime high street locations, as well as shopping centres and major mixed-use schemes. The brand is targeting national cities including London, Edinburgh, Manchester and Birmingham, as well as other key regional locations and affluent market towns. Ben Chislett, retail director at Savills, said: “Starting with the first store in Borough a number of years ago, Joe’s Kitchen has been very successful and has scope to open up to 100 restaurants over the next eight to ten years. We’re looking forward to working closely with The Restaurant Group.” Paul Hitchcott, group property director at The Restaurant Group, added: “We are delighted to have instructed Savills retail team to act on our behalf in a measured roll out of our new all day casual dining brand Joe’s Kitchen.”

Nando’s head of learning and development Tamara Griffin joins Leon: Nando’s head of learning and development Tamara Griffin has joined Leon as head of people. Leon co-founder and chief executive John Vincent said: “When companies grow fast, culture can suffer. One of the things we think about in the shower is how to improve how we live at Leon as we grow. We knew we needed someone world-class to help us do that. Tamara is the one. We looked at all sorts of candidates in brilliant organisations of all shapes and sizes – and Tamara won the dance off. Can we be the best place in the world to work? We won’t stop until we are.” Griffin added: “That Leon puts the well-being of its people at the heart of everything it does is consistent with my own beliefs about life and business. To come on board at this pivotal stage of Leon’s growth is hugely exciting. We will be looking for brilliant people to join our family, and getting ready to welcome them to a place where they can develop, work hard and laugh a lot.”

Charles Dunstone – MOD Pizza has the ability to disrupt the UK pizza scene: Charles Dunstone has claimed MOD Pizza, which he will launch in the UK in a joint venture with founders Scott and Ally Svenson, has the power to disrupt the UK pizza scene. He said: “With its compelling combination of superior food quality, value, speed and its culture of leveraging the business as a platform to do good, I believe MOD will translate extremely well across the United Kingdom. As one of the fastest growing food concepts in the United States, I see a tremendous opportunity for MOD to disrupt the UK pizza scene with its ‘super fast’ pizza experience.” Ally Svenson added: “Launching MOD in the United Kingdom feels, in many ways, like we are bringing it home. While we are very proud of the incredible pizza that we serve, the MOD movement is about so much more. We judge our success not by the number of stores we open, but the number of lives we can impact, which is why we are so excited to continue our growth. Our product may be pizza, but our purpose is people.” To date, MOD has supported over 60 non-profit organisations with a focus on at-risk youth and families in need. MOD Pizza will reach 2,500 MOD Squaders and approximately 100 stores by the end of 2015.

Muffin Break to launch first grab-and-go store: Artisan bakery Muffin Break is launching a new grab-and-go initiative to further expand its offering and cater to the growing needs of busy commuters who are looking for quick and healthy food options. The first store to implement the initiative will be opening at the Grand Central Shopping Centre in Birmingham on 24 September – it will also be the first Muffin Break store to open in a train station location. Recently appointed general manager at Muffin Break Lisa Brook said: “There’s a real demand for quick meal options from busy commuters who will be passing through the train station every day, so our new grab-and-go service will give them access to healthy on-the-go dishes. The introduction of modern street food, combined with increasingly busy lifestyles, has made grab-and-go food options an expectation for almost all catering establishments.” Muffin Break is planning to open 16 new stores before the end of the financial year, some of these will be offering the grab-and-go service and the company is also keen to open further stores in transportation hubs.

Gideon Joffe secures second Chooks site: The son of the founders of the Giraffe chain, Russel and Juliette Joffe, is expanding his Chooks restaurant brand. The Aussie slang for chicken, Chooks was created to offer customers the perfect union of marinated and grilled chicken, all at a great price. Chooks has taken a 20-year lease on a 1,900 sq ft unit at Haven Green in Ealing. London-based Restaurant Property advised on the deal. The rent is not disclosed. The new 60-cover eatery is due to open on Monday, 19 October and will replace Pizza on The Green. The brainchild of Gideon Joffe, Chooks is a chicken-centric restaurant and takeaway that offers the eponymous bird fried or grilled by the quarter, or half or whole. Chooks also serves a secret family “buttermilk fried chicken” recipe. Gideon, who operates two other restaurant concepts, MonkeyNuts, a steakhouse in Crouch End and Whetstone, and Chez Bob, a bistro in Belsize Park, plans to launch a number of Chooks units in the UK. The first Chooks restaurant opened in Muswell Hill in 2012 and the new Chooks in Ealing will be the brand’s second restaurant.

Robinsons opens second managed pub this morning: North west brewer and retailer Robinsons has unveiled its second managed pub, The Bulls Head at Hale Barns, following the launch of The Airport pub, which is five miles away. Featuring a lodge with 21 bedrooms that were refurbished earlier in the year, the brewery has returned a much-loved local pub to the village with a refurbishment scheme as part of its pledge to plough company profits back into its pubs. William Robinson, managing director (pubs division) for Robinsons Brewery, said: “2015 has been a phenomenal year for our emerging managed house business. The Airport pub, which opened in January, and The Bulls Head are both examples of the high level of quality that Robinsons is known for. We are proud of everyone who has contributed to this project so far and know that these developments along with our future plans will continue to solidify and raise the perceptions of Robinsons as an industry leader.” The Bulls Head, Hale Barns opens from 7am today (Tuesday, 15 September) serving a premium food offering, along with breakfast menu, and a rotating range of award-winning Robinsons cask ales.

Starbucks UK launching Youth Action 2015 programme today: Starbucks UK is launching its Starbucks Youth Action 2015 programme today (Tuesday, 15 September). The programme, now in its fifth year, supports young people aged 16-24 from across the UK not in education or employment to make a difference in their communities by applying to Starbucks Youth Action for funding to get their projects off the ground. Successful applicants are given access to an app that guides them through the planning and delivery of their project. As well as a copy of UK Youth’s employability toolkit, they are provided the opportunity to accredit their project through UK Youth’s leadership unit and learn about job opportunities available at Starbucks. The programme runs until next March. Starbucks communications director Simon Redfern said: “Many young people start their career with us and through our partners and through Starbucks Youth Action we know they want an opportunity to work and to succeed more than anything else. Our message to those young people is: ‘If you’ve got a bright idea, we’ll back it’. So get in touch.” Since launching in 2011 across the UK and Ireland, the Starbucks Youth Action programme has supported 260 projects with over £450,000 worth of funding.

Sharp’s Brewery reports turnover up, profit down: Cornwall’s Sharp’s Brewery, owned by Molson Coors, has reported sales rose to £7.9m in the year ending 31 December 2014 from £36.9m in 2013. However, pre-tax profits reduced to £1.5m from £2.3m the year before. The directors said profitability dipped as “more sales were made to the parent company as opposed to being made directly to the end customer at a higher margin”. During the year the company increased its tank farm with four new 150-barrel fermenting vessels and a 390-barrel conditioning tank. The new racking line has been delayed but is expected to increase capacity by late 2015. The brewery took on its first pub following the acquisition of The Mariner’s in Rock, which is managed by Nathan Outlaw Restaurants. The company stated: “Since acquisition in 2011, the company has maintained a continued strategy of capital investment to increase the company’s brewing capacity to the current maximum of 195,000 barrels. As a result of this investment, Sharp’s has been able to grow volume in 2014 and will continue to do so in 2015.” It added the strategy going forward was to increase capacity to “meet consumer demand for the main brand Doom Bar, whilst continuing to develop a wider portfolio of brands”.

Prezzo and Dean’s Diner to join Frankie & Benny’s and Nando’s at new Yate development: Prezzo and Dean’s Diner, which is owned by Richoux Group, are to join Nando’s and The Restaurant Group brand Frankie & Benny’s at the new 100,000 sq ft £25m Yate Riverside development in Gloucestershire. They have agreed to take up units at the complex owned by Crestbridge Corporate Trustees, which is being built on the former overflow car park in Link Road. Shopping centre manager Andy Lowrey told the Gloucestershire Gazette: “Frankie & Benny’s are looking to open on November 16 and others will open in the first two weeks of December. We are really pleased with it and although we still have one retail unit and one restaurant still to lease, we are confident we will do that very quickly.” The site will also be home to a six-screen Cineworld cinema, which is due to open next Easter.
JD Wetherspoon buys Grays site: JD Wetherspoon has acquired a site in Grays, Essex (population: 36,600). The company has bought the former State Cinema in George Street for an undisclosed sum. Chief executive John Hutson told the Thurrock Gazette: “We have been keen to open a pub in the town for a number of years and are pleased that this is now moving in the right direction. Our aim is to invest £3m in developing the former cinema into a pub, creating up to 100 new jobs. We believe that a Wetherspoon pub would be a great asset to the town and also result in further investment from other businesses.”
Manchester-based On The Wall to launch second restaurant next month: Manchester-based On the Wall will launch its second restaurant in the city on Friday, 30 October. The company, which also owns the Chalk Bar and Grill in Didsbury, is opening fine-dining restaurant Quill in King Street. It is investing more than £1m to transform the former Duo unit into what it describes as an “opulent oasis” in the heart of the city. Split over two floors of the four-storey building, the restaurant will seat up to 60 diners upstairs and feature an open kitchen. The 200-capacity venue will also boast a 21-cover private dining room as well as a ground floor bar and cocktail stations. Diners will be able to choose an eight-course tasting menu as well as an a la carte selection, both following a modern British theme with European influences. On The Wall chief executive Chris Longmate told the Manchester Evening News: “King Street really is the new location when it comes to high end venues and Quill will be an integral and central part to this. I see it as the place to escape to, an opulent oasis in Manchester. Now as the opening approaches we are just really excited and can’t wait to see guests inside enjoying Quill.”

Agent offers three freehold investment pubs in London with total value of £7.5m: Agent James A Baker have been instructed to sell three central London public house investments. The properties are all located in prime north and east London locations, Angel, Islington and the City of London. The Old Red Lion, Angel, has barrelage of around 469 and £3,100 per annum rental income from Vodafone. The pub is let until January 2043 and there are annual CPI linked reviews and it has a guide price of £3,500,000 plus VAT. The total income is £79,990.16 plus barrelage. The tenant is the Old Red Lion Theatre Pub and benefits from a personal guarantee. The Chapel, Islington, has a passing rent of £78,785 and additional income from Vodafone of £3,100 per annum. The pub is let until November 2023 with annual CPI linked reviews. The property is being sold on a freehold basis of £1,800,000 plus VAT. The tenant is Public Arms and benefits from a personal guarantee. The Brown Bear, Leman Street, City of London, has a passing rent of £48,437 with additional income from a tie with barrelage of around 225. The pub is let until July 2023 and there are annual CPI linked reviews. The property is available on a freehold basis with a guide price of £2,200,000 plus VAT. The pub is let to individuals and also benefits from a personal guarantee.

Hogs Back Brewery appoints Gordon Thompson as sales director:
Surrey-based Hogs Back Brewery has appointed Gordon Thompson as sales director. Gordon Thompson has worked for a number of years across the drinks industry, launching Red Bull and Sol at Ubevco before moving to Bulmers and then Heineken, working in a number of regional and national sales roles for both. More recently, he has worked at soft drinks start up company Freedrinks, giving him first-hand experience of a smaller, entrepreneurial business akin to Hogs Back. Gordon Thompson said: “Working in the drinks industry – and living just minutes from the brewery in Farnham – I was aware of Hogs Back and impressed by both the quality of their established ales such as TEA and their more recent product innovation, particularly Hogstar English Lager, Montezuma’s Chocolate Lager and Hazy Hog Cider. These non-traditional beers, and other developments such as the hop garden, set Hogs Back apart from other brewers of similar size. The brands, and the business, have huge potential and I’m confident I can help them to realise it over the next few years.” Hogs Back Brewery managing director Rupert Thompson added: “We’re delighted Gordon is joining us. He brings with him a wealth of experience and an evident passion for beer and cider that will help us to take the Hogs Back range to a wider audience. He joins us at a pivotal time, following significant investment in the business over recent years, and with plans for more to follow, including new product development.”

Krispy Kreme to open new Swindon store today: Krispy Kreme will open its new store in Swindon, Wiltshire, today (Tuesday, 15 September). The company is opening a venue at the Swindon Designer Outlet shopping centre in Kemble Drive. Chief marketing officer Judith Denby told the Swindon Advertiser: “We are excited about bringing a taste of Krispy Kreme to Swindon, the Designer Outlet is a fantastic location and we can’t wait to welcome shoppers in for doughnuts and coffee.” Swindon Designer Outlet centre manager Tina Cumpstey added: “The new addition will fit seamlessly to the current selection of cafes and restaurants on offer such as Patisserie Valerie, Soho Coffee Co and Wagamama. We’re confident the opening of the Krispy Kreme store will prove to be a big attraction for our shoppers, enabling us to enhance our eating and drinking experience at the centre with their fantastic doughnuts and coffee.”

Young’s and Geronimo launch recruitment roadshow: Young’s and its gastro-pub sub-brand Geronimo have launched a new recruitment drive to find the rising stars of the hospitality industry with a series of roadshows throughout September and October. From entry-level management, chef apprenticeships and hotel receptionist jobs to head office positions in marketing and finance, potential candidates can head to The Windmill, Clapham (23 September), The Bull, Westfield (30 September) and Finch’s in the City (7 October) from 10am to 8pm, to find out more about working with the company.

Wahaca, Turtle Bay and Red’s True BBQ line up for Liverpool One: Grosvenor Fund Management has reported that Wahaca, the Mexican street food brand co-founded by Thomasina Miers, Red’s True BBQ and Turtle Bay, the Caribbean restaurant, are to open on Liverpool ONE’s Hanover Street. Wahaca and Red’s True BBQ are sharing two floors of 111 to 116 Hanover Street, with 6,833 square foot and 4,336 square foot respectively. Turtle Bay will be located at 123 to 124 Hanover Street, the two units combining to create a 3,066 square foot restaurant. Together totalling 14,235 square foot of new dining in Liverpool ONE, all three brands will be making their debut in the city. Wahaca and Red’s True BBQ will open before Christmas, with Turtle Bay following in the New Year.

Grasmere beer festival attracts 5,000: The Lakeland village of Grasmere has reported its most successful beer festival ever, with more than 5,000 visitors attending the ninth annual “Grasmere Guzzler” event. Held from 4 to 6 September in the grounds of Dale Lodge Hotel and Tweedies Bar, the weekend’s record numbers saw a 25% increase in visitors on last year. The “Grasmere Guzzler” beer festival started in 2006, offering eight craft ales and receiving just 100 visitors. Tweedies’ director Alex Goodall said: “We are absolutely delighted by the success of this year’s ‘Grasmere Guzzler’ beer festival and are stunned by the sheer volume of visitors. Many attendees were repeat customers, some of whom have attended every year and we’ve already taken bookings in the hotel for next year’s festival from 2-4 September – our tenth anniversary. With such an increase in visitors and the sun shining all weekend, we have much to live up to in 2016!”

Chestnut hires first group general manager: Chestnut Group, the operator of two gastro-pubs in East Anglia with a third planed for Bury St Edmunds next year, has hired Steve Smith as its first group general manager. He was most recently a general manager with Sodexo Prestige looking after the St Edmundsbury Collection group of five contracts. Chestnut Group currently operates The Packhorse Inn in Moulton, near Newmarket, and The Rupert Brooke in Grantchester. Chestnut owner Philip Turner said: “As we continue to grow at a rapid rate, pivotal to our future success is the focus on developing our people. There is a real opportunity to position the Chestnut Group as one of the best employers regionally in this sector and Steve joining the business, is a huge step in the right direction.” Smith added: “It is always exciting to be a ‘first’ and in at the beginning of a business clearly going somewhere fast. I am really looking forward to being able to bring to bear all my past experiences for this broad-ranging and central role.” The Chestnut Group central core team includes Turner as owner and managing director, David Minchin, director responsible for finance, and Nick Bridges as business development manager.

Oakman Inns launches Christmas party portfolio across 13 pubs: Oakman Inns and Restaurants’ 13-strong estate of Home Counties pubs has launched its Christmas party portfolio under the banner “100% Christmas”, together with its “House Rules” dedicated website ( and booking system. This is the first menu devised entirely by Oakman’s new chef director, Ross Pike, former co-owner of the multi award-winning British Larder in Suffolk. In line with Oakman’s Mediterranean-inspired menus and reflecting Ross’ affection for the spirit of Christmas, he has incorporated elements from around southern Europe and Great Britain to produce a range of festive menus and party packages to suit an all-encompassing range of budgets and tastes. Pike said: “Christmas is a great opportunity for my brigades to really show off and to present their food as if they were cooking for their own family – with real heart and love.” Oakman Inns founder and chief executive Peter Borg-Neal said: “We have already had enquiries at all 13 of our sites and with a dedicated Christmas co-ordinator at each pub, we can ensure that we deliver the best experience for businesses, friends and families alike. Ross and I share so many of the same values and his creativity is already inspiring our brigades at every level. You always know when a menu is right when you are excited by the various permutations of starters, mains and puddings. I think I’ve already had my first Christmas present with Ross joining us.”

Property agent Christie Group reports operating profit doubled in first six months of 2015: Property and professional services company Christie Group has reported sales up 8% to £31.7m (2014: £29.4m) in the six months to 30 June 2015. Operating profit more than doubled to £1.7m (2014: £0.8m). It reported advisory work was buoyant in its first half with over 5,500 businesses valued. Chief executive David Rugg said: “Our first-half performance demonstrates a continuation of the progress we are making in a market place which offers plenty of opportunity for the future and immediate encouragement for the remainder of 2015.” Within its stock and inventory systems and services division, it reported new contracts with Ash Pubs & Taverns, Bath Ales, Drinks Group, Enjoy Pubs, Innovation, Hawthorn Leisure and others in a period of strong growth.

Chi Kitchen to debut in Debenhams store in Birmingham this month: Chi Kitchen, a new pan-Asian restaurant and champagne bar concept launched in partnership with Debenhams, is to debut in the retail company’s new-look store at the Bullring shopping centre in Birmingham. The brand, by the owner of the Thai-inspired Mango Tree restaurant in Belgravia Eddie Lim, is exclusive to Debenhams and will open its first site on the third floor of the store on Thursday, 24 September. The menu, designed by group executive chef Ian Pengelley, includes unique pan-Asian dishes such as Korean omelette with seafood and rice porridge with chicken. The restaurant will have a range of seating options – high stools at the dining counter that will double as a sushi bar and lower level deep booths. Li said: “Growing our business by partnering with the right brands is central to our strategy. Our aim is to build a dining experience exclusive to Debenhams offering, not only fantastic pan-Asian food but that also delights Debenhams customers. The food will be exotic, colourful and incredibly tasty. Birmingham’s food scene is exploding and we are excited to be launching the UK’s first Chi Kitchen there.” The second Chi Kitchen is due to open at Debenhams’ flagship Oxford Street store in London this autumn with restaurants planned across the UK.

Greene King’s Flaming Grill launches customer vote on next challenge dish: Greene King’s Flaming Grill brand is encouraging customers to take up the opportunity to test and vote for the next challenge dish to feature on its menu. Flaming Grill, which has more than 140 pubs across the UK, has today (Tuesday 15 September) launched a Challenge Festival featuring two new mammoth dishes for guests to try and then vote for which dish they’d like to keep. The Challenge Festival, available in all pubs until Monday, 5 October, is the final stage of the brand’s Create-A-Challenge competition, which asked the public to suggest a new foodie feast to join the existing range of challenge dishes. After hundreds of entries and thousands of votes across the top five dishes, Sarah Bell’s Bumper Burrito and Clemma Tagg’s Triple Burger Challenge are now going head-to-head in a bid to win their dish a permanent position on the menu and £500 cash. Guests can vote via the website on or by sending a snap of their challenge attempt to FlamingGrillPub on Snapchat.
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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