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Fri 25th Sep 2015 - Update: Peach, Las Iguanas, McDonald's, Oakman, Byron
Peach reports 7% turnover increase, negotiates £4m extra banking facility: Peach Pub Company has reported turnover increased 7% to £22.0m in the year to 28 December 2014, up from £20.5m the year before. The company said strong organic growth from its existing pubs and a profitable performance from its newest site had contributed to a “set of solid results” as it prepares for its next stage of growth. Its new addition, The High Field in Edgbaston, Birmingham, delivered almost £600,000 of sales in the last quarter of 2014. Peach traded well ahead of sales and profits targets and consistently outperformed the market,  2% ahead of figures from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker. Co-founder Hamish Stoddart said: “It’s been another great year for Peach and we are excited to tell the story of the last twelve months. Not only are we reporting a very good set of figures for the year, with an especially strong performance over the second half of 2014, we are also getting ready for even greater progress in the year ahead. We recognise the challenge from the casual dining sector and the growth in the number of restaurants and are continually evolving to carry on winning. Peach is the largest independently owned gastro-pub group in the UK, with 17 fantastic pubs and negotiations in full swing towards the next. We currently have three banking offers to provide us with an extra £4m of banking finance to fund additional growth via leasehold gastro-pubs and pubs with rooms, and have relationships with the EIS providers to fund freehold growth. 2014 and 2015 have been a time of us getting ready to go to the next stage. We’ve had some brilliant successes, like being named one of the best places to work in our industry for the fifth year running and we’re hoping to take home the trophy again. Peach intends to offer our expertise to other investors and small groups in 2016 and will announce more news on this later in the year. In the meantime, all of this and our unstinting focus on great food provenance, being a great employer and investing in our people, systems and processes, mean we are more optimistic than ever at what the next year has in store for Peach.”

Intertain opens second new Walkabout: Walkabout operator Intertain has opened its second newly acquired Walkabout bar of the year following a £485,000 investment. The move, which saw Walkabout move into Lichfield’s former Après bar, follows Intertain’s acquisition of a new site in Brighton in May – the company’s first since 2009.The company is set to open its third newly acquired venue next week, also in a former Après site, in Solihull. Intertain, which exchanged contracts on the venues in mid-August, has pushed to complete the venues in time to take advantage of the Rugby World Cup, where it is now possible to pre-book front row seats to watch the games.  The bar, which has been designed as a ‘new style’ Walkabout, has undergone a complete transformation, benefitting from VIP areas, pre-bookable booths and an impressive new ‘reef bar’, where giant linked screens show footage of a coral reef. In response to residents’ preferences, craft beers are also being served on tap. Intertain chief executive John Leslie said: “It is great to be able to add another new venue to our portfolio and we are very pleased to be in Lichfield.We’re renowned as the best sports experience on the high street, so it’s great to be open for the Rugby World Cup.”

Las Iguanas changes tips policy after staff survey: Las Iguanas have unveiled proposed changes to its tips policy. The move follows the Latin-American restaurant business’ recent acquisition by Casual Dining Group (CDG) and comes after a staff survey.The company plans to introduce an automated ‘tronc’ system.  The key details of the proposal are: 100% of all tips (cash and credit card) to be shared amongst staff; no administration fees; tips shared only amongst hourly-paid staff; No part of tips to go to company or management; exact split of tips pool between servers and bar/back-of-house to be determined by staff; Las Iguanas hopes to bring the proposed changes in for November.  The changes follow an independent survey of the Las Iguanas team conducted by Morar Consulting, a leading independent research and insights firm.  All employees were asked to take part, with 700 completing an anonymous questionnaire.  It found that while 32% wanted to retain the current policy, 42% favoured a switch to a tronc system.  In addition, some suggested a variation on the current tips policy. Las Iguanas managing director Mos Shamel said: “We are very pleased to make this announcement – we have listened to our team and the results speak for themselves.  We will now undertake further consultation with our people to discuss our proposals and understand their views. We will also be reviewing our industry-leading staff benefits and incentives, with the aim of minimizing any impact the proposed changes may have.  Our incentives are a key pillar of our award-winning culture and help us stand apart from our competitors so we’ll be working very hard to defend them.” Las Iguanas hopes to introduce the proposed changes for November, following input from HMRC and the further consultation with Las Iguanas staff.  For clarity, under the new proposed system, all customer tips would be fully distributed among the hourly-paid restaurant teams at each Las Iguanas location only.  Under the proposals, the split of all tips between servers and bar staff/ back-of-house staff would be determined by the Las Iguanas teams at a local level.  The proposed move to an automated tronc system would bring the business into line with CDG’s other restaurant chains Bella Italia, Café Rouge, and La Tasca, ensuring a single, consistent approach.

Oakman Inns and Restaurants reopens Ampthill site following £1.3m investment with Punch Taverns: Oakman Inns and Restaurants has reopened the White Hart in Ampthill, Bedfordshire, following a joint £1.3m investment with owner Punch Taverns. The White Hart is an 18th century grade-II listed coaching inn in the centre of the town that had stood empty for a number of years after various tenants tried and failed to make it as a bar, a nightclub and even a Chinese restaurant. The site has been fully refurbished to restore the character and history of the building. The design inspiration was drawn from classic English designs, such as Chesterfield button back chairs, exposed timbers, log fires, and woodland-inspired patterns. Signature furniture pieces were used instead to create style statements, such as leather and chrome bar stools, leather furniture and reclaimed bar furniture. The bespoke oak bar and traditionally inspired artwork featuring stags heads also added to the sense of character. Oakman Inns’ chief executive Peter Borg-Neal said: “The White Hart is probably the nicest building in Ampthill. I believed the townspeople deserved to have their famous inn restored back to its former glory, so it could once again become an important part of Ampthill life. Our vision was to create a welcoming all day every day ‘open house’ concept to meet the needs of our local customers while adhering to our traditional concepts of value, service and community.”

British McDonald’s executive promoted to new senior management role: British McDonald’s executive David Fairhurst has been appointed to a new senior management role – just months after a previous promotion. Fairhurst, who earlier this year was named McDonald’s corporate senior vice-president, international human resources, has been appointed corporate executive vice-president and chief people officer, reports Nation’s Restaurant News. The Lancaster University graduate started with McDonald’s UK in 2005 and then played a critical role driving the company’s results and building trust in the brand across Europe. Fairhurst will oversee global human resources and training in his new position and report directly to chief executive Steve Easterbrook. He replaces Rich Floersch, chief human resources officer, who will retire at the end of the year. Meanwhile, McDonald’s has also named Chris Kempczinski, previously executive vice-president of international at Kraft Foods Group, as corporate executive vice-president of strategy, business and innovation from 26 October. Kempczinski will be responsible for all aspects of strategy development, planning, innovation and new concepts to drive growth and also report directly to Easterbrook.

Michelin-starred restaurant Simpsons extended following three-month refurbishment: Michelin-starred restaurant Simpsons in Edgbaston, Warwickshire, has been extended following a three-month refurbishment. The venue, owned by Andreas Antona, now features an extended main dining area and the decor in the grade II-listed building in Highfield Road has also been updated. The refurbishment coincides with the restaurant having held a Michelin star for the past 11 years, which it retained when the guide was published last week. The refurbishment was organised by the building’s owner, Calthorpe Estates. The main dining area has moved into what were the lounge and private dining room and the restaurant remained open throughout the work. Antona told the Birmingham Post: “The refurbishment has been a huge undertaking but I’m very happy with the changes. It’s a new era at Simpsons. The style of dishes has stayed the same but with a different presentation. It all underlines our ambition to remain at the forefront of Birmingham’s dining scene.”

Byron opens new site in Newcastle featuring company’s first full bar: Better burger brand Byron has launched its new restaurant in Newcastle – and its first featuring a full bar. The company has opened the venue in Grey Street on the site of the former H&M fashion shop. Each Byron restaurant has a unique design, and in Newcastle, the interiors take their inspiration from the building’s historical features, including art nouveau stained glass and a central staircase. Byron Grey Street is also the first company site to feature a full bar alongside the restaurant, meaning customers can have draft beer, bourbons, cocktails and hard shakes in a setting inspired by the bootleg glamour of 1920s America, particularly New York’s famous Cotton Club. Tom Byng, who founded Byron in 2007, told Chronicle Live: “I’m really excited to be opening in such a grand setting at the heart of this dynamic city. It’s clear that there’s a real appetite for proper hamburgers here, and I can’t wait to welcome customers to our newest restaurant over the coming weeks.”

Wagamama set to open third site in Wales, this time in Newport: Wagamama is set to open a new restaurant in Newport – its third site in Wales. The company, which has two restaurants in Cardiff, has secured a unit at the new Friars Walk development and is expected to open the venue in December. A spokesman told the South Wales Argus: “Upon the restaurant opening, visitors will be able to enjoy a variety of new and classic dishes from the iconic menu including Wagamama’s famed ramen; bowls of fragrant soup filled with noodles plus meat or vegetables, plus, a range of curries, noodle dishes, sides, salads and fresh juices, all made fresh to order.” Wagamama will join companies including Cineworld, Nando’s, Prezzo and Topshop at the 390,000 sq ft shopping and leisure park, which is due to open on 12 November.
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