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Mon 28th Sep 2015 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Soho House withdraws £200m bond offer after lukewarm reception: Soho House, the private members’ club and restaurant business led by Nick Jones, has withdrawn a planned £200m bond after investors baulked at the company’s high leverage and limited free cashflow, Reuters has reported. Soho House has an estimated 50,000 members, with a global waiting list of over 30,000 potential members. The bond issue seems to have failed because investors liked the trends of the underlying business but were concerned about debt levels. “While (Soho House) makes for an attractive equity story, high yield investors should remain focused on cashflow,” a credit analyst told Reuters. “In the end, we feel investors (were) being asked to take equity-like risks for a high yield return.” Soho House was looking to refinance a £145m 9.125% 2018 bond callable in October 2015 with a new £200m five-year note. Ultimately, the company’s leverage was a stumbling block for many. Soho House reports it has a net debt to Ebitda ratio of 6.6x, but its Ebitda figure has large adjustments based on management’s estimates of how its recently opened members clubs will perform. The debt figure also does not include leases, which the majority of the company’s properties are under. This means that many in the market estimated the company’s true leverage around the 9x mark. One investor told Reuters: “Investors just have more economic sense than to lend to a business with almost 9x leverage and limited free cashflow.” The £200m raise was aimed at accelerating Soho House’s growth plans, opening six new houses and up to 30 new restaurants over the next two years. The fundraising, which is led by Barclays, was designed to repay existing debt and continue the expansion of the leisure company, which is majority-owned by US billionaire Ron Burkle. Investors were given unaudited accounts, which show the group generated sales of £246m in the 52 weeks to the end of June, with a loss of £17.4m. The previous year the group lost £28.4m on sales of £202.8m.

Industry News:

Cambridge nightclubs hires “ladies in red” as Customer Care Ambassadors: Two Cambridge nightclubs have hired Customer Care Ambassadors. Dressed in red, the female Customer Care Ambassadors are manning the doors at Kuda, on Sidney Street and Ballare, at Heidelberg Gardens. Trained in first aid and customer care, they will be on-hand to help keep clubbers safe, with a particular focus on vulnerable women. A ‘We Care’ scheme has been introduced following consultation with the police and representatives of Cambridge’s student population. It involves a number of initiatives inside each club, designed to make nights out safer. Simon Wilson, general manager of Kuda, said: “You will be able to charge your phone for free in the cloakroom, and we will walk you to a taxi at the end of the night. The door staff have had extra training to identify vulnerable people, and if you have lost your phone we can help you find it, or we can offer you the use of a landline to phone your friends.”

Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen boss extols virtues of “servant leadership” in achieving turnaround: Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen chief executive Cheryl Bachelder, who has overseen a dramatic turnaround in the company’s fortunes, has extolled the virtues of “servant leadership” in achieving this, Nation’s Restaurant News has reported. The best leaders set a “daring destination” and focus on results but along the way they are humble enough to serve others on the way to that destination, she told a conference in Dallas. She suggested there should be a “new rule of leadership that delivers superior results”. That leader would be “courageous enough to take people to a daring destination, yet humble enough to serve along that journey”. Her company had four chief executives in seven years and years of falling like-for-like sales. She said the company set out to improve unit volumes to $1.2 million from below $1 million per unit – it is achieving $1.4m. It made a key decision to focus its ‘“servant leadership” on its franchisees. “We chose to serve franchise owners as our first and top priority,” Bachelder said. “It’s the franchise owner who borrows money, who invests in and builds restaurants, hires and trains the team, and builds relationships with communities and the guests we serve. They have more at stake than anyone. They have a 20-year commitment. They are married to the brand. Our most important people were not our favourite people. Franchisees can be frustrating. They have opinions. When they’re upset, they can create commotion. It was truly a game-changing notion, to love the people we lead.”

Charity entrepreneur teams up with restaurants to trial scheme to tackle food poverty: A charity entrepreneur has come up with a solution to tackle food poverty in Britain, The Independent on Sunday has reported. Every time a “Foodinate” branded meal is bought in a participating restaurant, another meal will be donated to those in need. The innovative social enterprise is currently being piloted at restaurants in Manchester, Nottingham and Birmingham. Caroline Stevenson, from Manchester, started developing the programme shortly after graduating from university. Once the trial scheme is finished, she plans to expand the idea nationwide – and thinks it has potential to work on a global scale. Stevenson said: “It’s all about giving the consumer the choice. In the UK, we are already choosing to go out to eat 1.4 billion times per year so why not make the choice to eat at a Foodinate-partnered restaurant, knowing that every delicious meal we enjoy will provide another meal for a local person in need? If everyone made that choice, just think of the impact we could have.” Money for the donated food is given by the participating restaurant to a pre-selected local charity and covers the cost of a hot, nutritious meal. Restaurants choose around three high-value dishes on their menus to flag as “Foodinate”, so that customers can make an active choice to participate. The pilot includes Rub Smokehouses in Nottingham and Birmingham and the Blue Pig and the Odd Bar in Manchester. 

Beer Group launches “Beer with your MP” campaign: Andrew Griffiths MP, Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group, has visited the Molson Coors Brewery in his Burton Constituency to launch the Beer Group’s new “Brew with your MP” scheme. This new Beer Group initiative encourages MPs to visit their local brewery and brew a beer. The purpose is to increase Parliamentarians’ understanding of how our national drink is made and the crucial role brewing plays in the local economy. Griffiths said: “As an MP it is vital to understand the issues facing local employers, so it was a great opportunity to be invited to brew a beer and discuss some of the issues facing the sector.”

Company News:

Prezzo reports £29.8m proceeds from freehold sale and leaseback: In Companies House documents, it has been revealed that Prezzo’s private equity owner TPG Capital sold and leased back 19 freehold sites on 30 March this year, a month after acquiring the business, for £29.8m – 25-year leases were signed on the sites for annual rental commitment of £1.9m, subject to five-year rent reviews. Prezzo saw sales increase 14% to £189.9m in the year ended 28 December 2014. Adjusted profit before tax rose to £22.7m (2013: £20.4m), excluding the impact of a £4.8m (2013: £1.9m) charge for non-trading items. The company, which added 22 sites to grow its estate to 259 venues last year, stated: “Our strong internal cash generation means that going forward we will be able to fund expansion at a rate of 25-30 new restaurants each year without recourse to external financing and we anticipate this rate of openings again in the year ahead.” Of last year, it added: “New restaurant openings were funded wholly from internal cash generation. After interest and taxes there was £30.3m (2013: £26.9m) available for investing and financing. After total capital investment of £24.1m (2013: £26.1m) there was cash inflow of £8.9m (2013: £1.5m) and net cash on the balance sheet stood at £14.8m (2013: £5.8m).” The company added: “While the more uncertain environment of recent years has actually favoured cash-rich businesses such as Prezzo, competition for high quality sites has begun to increase again.” Meanwhile, Prezzo is looking for an agency to handle its creative activity, following media coverage of restaurants holding on to staff tips, Campaign magazine has reported.

PizzaExpress to debut new Reys rotisserie chicken concept on 14 October: PizzaExpress is to open its eagerly-awaited rotisserie chicken concept in Cambridge, Reys, occupying the site of Orchid Pub Company’s former Cow pub, with a launch party on Wednesday 14 October. It specialises in slow-roasted, succulent rotisserie chicken, served with an array of sauces, including Reys gravy or double mushroom gravy, Reys BBQ sauce or, Reys XXX hot sauce. Diners can choose between quarter, half or whole chicken served from a 25-bird rotisserie spit at the front of the restaurant and carved with giant cleavers. Sides on offer will include Asian slaw, kimchi, fries and light salads, and there will be brunch at the weekend too. Earlier this month, Propel reported that PizzaExpress is working with the former Waitrose innovation chef Neil Nugent to launch Reys. Nugent oversaw the launch of the Heston Blumenthal range of meals at Waitrose during his three years with the company as executive chef of innovation. The chef, who also co-owned iconic York bistro J Baker’s for a period, also launched the Gary Rhodes meal range when he worked at Asda as executive innovation chef. His most recent position has been executive chef of product development at Morrison’s. He started his own consultancy, BullDogFish in September 2014. Reys is committed to the higher welfare and treatment of chickens and only uses RSPCA-approved Freedom Foods chicken, ‘reared in the best conditions available with compassion and respect for the flock’.

Euston Tap operator to open barbecue and beer concept in York in mid-November: Pivovar, which operates the Euston Tap, Sheffield Tap, and York Tap among other sites and is led by Jamie Hawksworth, is to open a barbecue and beer concept called Pavement Vault in York’s White Swan building in mid-November – the site has been empty for 30 years. Andy Annat, a world barbecue finalist and three-time UK champion, will be in charge of the food, developing the menu and training up a new team in the kitchen. This will be a smokehouse and the kitchen and butchery will be visible through a replica of a vintage shop-front, modeled on those in the nearby Shambles. There will be 20 beers on the bar, covering keg and cask, sourced from around the UK, Europe and beyond.

Fat Buddah to open third site in Seaburn early next year: Fat Buddha, the north east-based Asian-inspired restaurant owned by Hot Buddha, will open its third site in Seaburn early next year. The company, led by industry veteran Bob Senior and Eddie Fung, is spending £2m developing the restaurant on the seafront as part of a scheme to refurbish the promenade shelter in Whitburn Road, creating almost 50 jobs. As well as the restaurant upstairs, the building will include public toilets, a cafe, disabled changing facilities and a new office for the RNLI on the promenade level. Work on the building is now almost complete and the £750,000 interior fitting out will begin shortly. Senior told the Shields Gazette: “We are desperate to get in – I don’t think there’s a better site on the north east coast.” Fat Buddah also has restaurants in Durham and Newcastle.

Blumenthal to reopen Fat Duck restaurant tomorrow with new ‘story-telling’ menu and £150,000 sweet trolley: Heston Blumenthal will reopen his three Michelin-starred Fat Duck restaurant tomorrow (Tuesday, 29 September) with a new “story-telling” menu and a £150,000 sweet trolley. The restaurant in Bray, Berkshire, has been closed for six months for a £2.5m refurbishment, during which time Blumenthal relocated the restaurant and its staff to Melbourne in Australia. It is reopening with a new menu is to take diners on a “story-telling” journey aimed at capturing childhood feelings of adventure, discovery and curiosity. However, the new-look menu does not feature Blumenthal’s famed snail porridge and egg and bacon ice cream because they had both “evolved as far as they could”. He has built a sweetshop, at a cost of more than £150,000, to go round on a trolley at the end of the meal. Blumenthal has even turned to magician Derren Brown for tips on how to personalise people’s dinner choices by using auto-suggestion techniques so diners get what they think they most crave. The set menu will now cost £255 a head – up from £220 – and guests will be expected to pay when they book using an advanced ticketing system. Tickets for this year are already sold out with the next round for January 2016 going on sale on Wednesday, 7 October.

Coffee#1 wins coffee shop chain of the year award: Coffee#1, the coffee shop brand owned by Cardiff-based brewer and retailer SA Brain, has been named Cafe Life’s coffee shop chain of the year. The company, which operates a portfolio of 56 coffee shops in Wales and the south west and south of England, beat off competition including Boston Tea Party and Starbucks to win the accolade. Within the coffee chain category, comprising businesses that operated more than ten sites, judges sought to recognise companies that consistently set and maintain high standards, from the quality of the products they offer to the friendliness of staff. Coffee#1 chief executive Scott Waddington said: “This is thoroughly well-deserved recognition for the outstanding Coffee#1 team, who have set an exacting focus on product delivery, customer service and operating standards during the past 12 months. Our strategy of whole-heartedly concentrating on our customer has served us well in the last year and will continue to do so in the portfolio of stores already in our pipeline for the next 12 months.”

Fleurets sells freehold of Bexley pub for 20% over guide price: Agent Fleurets has sold the freehold of the Ye Olde Leather Bottle in Belvedere, Bexley, London, for 20% above the guide price of £600,000 to £700,000. Simon Bland, of Fleurets, said: “Interest in the Leather Bottle was both immediate and very keen, resulting in the number of offers received easily reaching double figures and the final price achieved exceeding initial expectations. This is further clear evidence of the strength of demand we are experiencing and consistent with a number of other recent successful sales we have completed in south east London and into Kent.” The property is a 17th century, grade II listed building, situated on Heron Hill, a stones throw away from Lesnes Abbey Woods.

BrewDog – there’s definitely demand for a hotel on our doorstep: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has reported that it is confident of demand for its proposed hotel close to its Ellon brewery, near Aberdeen. The company stated: “Our hotel is still at the ideas stage at the moment – but it’s something we are committed to making a reality, if we reach our Equity for Punks IV target. Currently, every night of the week we have two-dozen rooms booked in Aberdeen-area hotels for staff, importers, engineers and our customers – having everyone stay under one roof simply makes sense. And it also means we can offer hotel rooms for BrewDog fans and shareholders to stay in when they are visiting our brewery and Aberdeen bars.”

Riley’s Fish Shack sets up permanent base after crowdfunding: Popular north east street food operator Riley’s Fish Shack, run by Adam and Lucy Rules, has opened in a permanent base, at King Edwards Bay, in Tynemouth, after crowdfunding. The business was previously operating in the area from a mobile cart. The couple started a crowd-funding campaign and managed to raise around £20,000 towards the project. More than 200 people made financial contributions of various amounts. The largest sum was around £2,000. The scheme offered backers a range of rewards based on the value of their donation, such as having a lobster cooked at a location of their choice or catering for a special event. Now the newly-built Fish Shack has opened comprising two 20ft containers with balconies – one is used for dining and the other as a kitchen. The site has a barbecue grill and a wood-fired pizza oven to cook flatbreads to accompany dishes.

Batemans opens first ‘manchise’ pub with Coffee Republic coffee offer after biggest refurbishment ever: Lincolnshire brewer and retailer Batemans has opened its first “manchise” pub, a hybrid model of a managed pub and a franchised pub. The Woolpack pub in Wainfleet, Lincolnshire has re-opened after a £150,000 refurbishment. For breakfast, Coffee Republic drinks will be available to enjoy with homemade cakes and muffins, a first for a Batemans pub. Stuart Bateman, managing director of Batemans, said that nowadays customers want more from pubs than just a drink. He said: “You have to move with the times and realise people’s aspirations are changing with them. We have carried out the biggest and most extensive refurbishment of any pub in Batemans history at The Woolpack, and it is now a truly magnificent quality local pub which the brewery and community can be proud of. The Woolpack now boasts an excellent public bar area and lounge/dining room, perfectly in keeping with its magnificent presence overlooking the historic Wainfleet Market Place, the Wainfleet Medieval Butter Cross where John Wesley preached from, and the clock tower.”

Nottingham’s Lace Market Hotel and Cock & Hoop pub to re-open after acquisition by London investors: The Lace Market Hotel in Nottingham is to re-open after being acquired by unnamed London investors. The Lace Market Hotel in High Pavement collapsed into administration in May last year. New owners based in South Africa unveiled plans a year ago to reopen the hotel, but put it up for sale in March this year as an unfinished project, saying they were unable to manage the redevelopment from so far away. It has now been bought by two private investors from London who have brought in a specialist hotel management company to get it up and running again by the end of October. The management company which will run it is Compass Hospitality, which is based in Bangkok and runs hotels in Thailand and Malaysia. Contractors are on site finishing off the refurbishment work at the 42-bedroom hotel, which will also include a restaurant and the adjoining Cock & Hoop pub. Compass has already appointed a new general manager for the Lace Market Hotel, Denny Keane, and a new head chef, Ben Chaplin. Chaplin, who is originally from Nottingham, has previously worked in kitchens run by Michelin-starred chef Aiden Byrne and in the Malmaison Hotels group. The Lace Market Hotel was originally opened by Robert Beacham and John Whitehead, the entrepreneurs behind the Le Bistrot Pierre business. It was later bought by hotel group Finesse Hotels, run by James Blick.

Freeholds of two pubs let to Spirit goes to auction: The freehold of The Farmer’s Arms in Northenden, Greater Manchester is to be auctioned on Monday, 19 October with a guide price of £1.7m to £1.9m. The site is held on a lease by Spirit that expires in 2034 and has a current reserved rent per annum of £200,847 with annual 2.5% uplifts. The freehold of the Deers Leap in Kings Lynn, Norfolk, which is also let to Spirit, is to be auctioned at the same event with a guide price of £690,000. Spirit holds a lease that runs until 2028 and pays £66,000 per annum.

YO! Sushi to open in Intu Derby: YO! Sushi is to open at Intu Derby later this year. Marketing manager Tania Vesty said: “We are pleased to confirm that YO! Sushi are due to open in Intu Derby. YO! Sushi will be a fantastic addition to our restaurant and leisure offering and we are very much looking forward to them opening towards the end of November.”

Aromi lines up third Cambridge opening: Aromi, the family-owned brand serving Sicilian food with branches on Cambridge’s Peas Hill and Benet Street, is to open a third outpost in the city, this time on the Grafton Centre side of town on Fitzroy Street. The brand serves pizza slices, home-made foccacia and spianata, arancini and Sicilian coffee. “We’ve had a fantastic response to news of Aromi opening in Fitzroy Street,” said co-owner Francesco Genovese. “Residents are excited about having freshly made Italian specialities on their doorstep and local businesses view us as a great addition to the retail offering in and around The Grafton Centre.”

Team Margot Foundation launches international awareness day: Team Margot Foundation, the stem cell donor registration charity that was supported for the industry’s first Live Your Life Day, is launching an international awareness day on Wednesday, 7 October. The charity was set up in memory of two-year-old Margot Martini, who died from leukemia in October last year, a few weeks before Franca Knowles, the late wife of Beds & Bars chief executive Keith, who instigated Live Your Life Day. Team Margot Foundation has already received generous support from across the licensed trade and co-founder, sector executive Yaser Martini, hopes pubs, bars and restaurants will once again join the team in raising awareness on 7 October. He said: “It’s a very personal day for us, but by reaching out to others to help make this awareness day a success, it’s our hope that as a collective, we can assist others, that right now, don’t even know they need a stem cell or bone marrow donor – if you think about it, that’s a very powerful thing and it could be you, or a loved one.” The day is another step towards achieving Team Margot Foundation’s initial goal of having 2.2 million people – 4% of the population – on the UK stem cell register. There are only one million people currently registered.

Scottish hospitality group Manorview set to open £1.5m bar and restaurant in Hamilton: Scottish hospitality group Manorview is set to open a new £1.5m bar and restaurant in Hamilton. The company, which owns various pubs, bars and hotels throughout Glasgow and Lanarkshire including The Windsor Bar in Hamilton, is planning to convert a former Salvation Army church building in Keith Street into a new venue called The Citadel. Manorview director Steve Graham told the Daily Record it hopes to start work on the development next spring once planning permission is granted. He said: “This is a really exciting project for us and we have great plans to bring Hamilton a new upmarket bar and restaurant with function room in the basement. The building has a lot of character and we really liked the location. We are delighted to be able to add it to our portfolio.”

English brewpub company based in France wins top beer award: Frogpubs, the 11-strong operator of English brewpubs operating in France and led by Paul Chantler, has won the award for the Best Black IPA at the World Beer Awards – its wha...Wack, Black IPA (5.5%) scooped the title. In addition, a gold medal for France was awarded to its Inseine Best Bitter, the company’s first ever beer, inspired by British cask ales, originally brewed back in 1993. Ginger Twist, a seasonal amber ale flavoured with fresh ginger and citrus, also received a Gold medal for France in the Herb and Spice beers category. Natural Blonde, FrogBeer’s best-selling style of all time, was awarded silver for France rounding off a successful competition in first year of taking part. For sales and distribution enquiries for the UK contact

McDonald’s to source all potatoes in the UK from next month: McDonald’s is to start sourcing potatoes from British farmers only, as the company looks to appeal to customers more conscious about where their meals come from. While most of its potatoes are already supplied from Britain, McDonald’s currently sources 13% from countries across Europe, including Germany. The move, which starts later this month, will mean an extra £9m for British farmers on top of the £70m McDonald’s spends with them each year. McDonald’s is one of the largest buyers of British potatoes, and the company expects to buy a quarter of a million tonnes of potatoes this year. The group also sources all its pork, eggs and milk from British farmers. “A succession of wet harvests has caused the British potato sector great uncertainty in recent years, so I hope our long-term commitment to only source from this country will give farmers the confidence to innovate and invest for the future,” said Connor McVeigh, ‎supply chain director at McDonald’s UK.

Gloucester-based C and W’s African Experience set to start expanding with second site in city: Gloucester-based restaurant C and W’s African Experience is set to start expanding with a second site in the city. Co-owners Charlie Odhiambo and Wanja Odhiambo, whose existing restaurant is in Westgate Street, are looking to renovate the grade II-listed three-storey Park House in Gloucester Park. The ground floor would be used as a lounge restaurant area with sofas and contemporary African themed decor while the top two floors would be used for meetings and functions. Odhiambo told the Gloucester Citizen: “We had needed to grow for a long time because we were turning away people because we don’t turn tables. We want an authentic African dining experience where you can relax. In Westgate Street we can now take around 40 people, but we’re still turning people away. The Park House is in a fantastic location and it has a really nice garden, which looks out onto Gloucester Park. We want the place to be comfortable, with relaxed music and be somewhere people can stay for longer if they like.” The new Gloucester Park restaurant would open for lunch and for food and cocktails in the evenings from Tuesdays to Saturdays.

York hotel places on the market with £20m price tag: A three-star York hotel located on the bank of the River Ouse has been placed on the market for offers in excess of £20m. Colliers International has been instructed to sell the Park Inn by Radisson in York on behalf of LR (York) Ltd. It is currently let to Park Hotels Management for a term of 25 years, with nearly 16 years unexpired. Located on North Street on the southern bank of the Ouse, close to York’s central business district, the hotel comprises of 200 rooms over seven floors, with part of the hotel located over the adjacent building, known as Riverside Block. Furthermore, the hotel includes a PACE health centre and parking facilities for up to 90 cars. Initially constructed in 1969, the building has benefited from extensive refurbishment programmes in 2009 and again in 2012, with ongoing improvements being made since on a rolling programme. Julian Troup, head of UK hotels at Colliers International, said: “York is a key UK hotel market, with its strong regional business centre and reputation as a popular leisure destination and university town.”

Malhotra Group hires Dan Duggan to oversee food offer at key site: Newcastle-based Malhotra Group has hired chef Dan Duggan, former head chef at Newcastle’s Blackfriars restaurant, to head the team at one of its most popular gastro pubs, the Sandpiper, Farringdon Road, Cullercoats. Malhotra Group’s director of operations Atul Malhotra added: “Dan has the experience and the enterprise to really build on the Sandpiper’s reputation and the innovation and energy to inspire his kitchen team to achieve great things.”

Plans for £20m hotel, restaurant and conference centre in Bromley receive approval: Plans for a £20m development of a historic building in Bromley, Kent, into a hotel, restaurant, wedding venue and conference centre have been given the go-ahead. Developer Cathedral Hotels has had its proposals approved by Bromley Council to transform the grade II-listed old Town Hall in Tweedy Road. Two independent restaurants and a five-storey block of 53 flats with basement parking would also be built on the adjacent South Street car park. Work on the 94-bedroom hotel, which will create 120 full-time jobs, is expected to begin in the second half of 2016, with opening later in 2017.

Premier Inn further strengthens property team in bid to deliver 85,000 bedrooms in UK and Ireland by 2020: Whitbread-owned Premier Inn has further strengthened its property team with a series of new appointments as it bids to deliver 85,000 bedrooms in the UK and Ireland by 2020. The company has created 20 new roles in the past 18 months and also re-organised some of its core functions in the team: acquisitions, asset management, construction and maintenance, and development. It said this would help to enable the fast-paced expansion of the Premier Inn estate while also “ensuring all hotels are refurbished and maintained to the highest standards”. The key changes are three new acquisitions managers across the London, north and south regions as part of a wider re-organisation of the team while it has created a new going concerns acquisition function that will focus on bringing existing trading hotels into the Premier Inn portfolio. It has added an additional asset manager, made a series of changes to its construction and management team, and created a development management role. The new appointments and strategic re-organisation will also support Premier Inn’s expansion into Germany, where it is currently developing a hotel in Frankfurt, and its hub by Premier Inn brand, launched in Covent Garden, London, last October. Whitbread plans to open about 5,500 UK and Ireland bedrooms this financial year and its secured development pipeline now stands at more than 14,106 bedrooms. There are currently over 700 hotel locations across the estate.

Whitbread partners with Springboard to offer work experience opportunities at restaurants: Whitbread has partnered with hospitality industry charity Springboard to offer on the job training within its restaurant brands. The company wanted to develop an individual work experience opportunity for its restaurants by targeting people in schools and colleges with an interest in hospitality. It has partnered with Springboard, a charity that supports young, unemployed and disadvantaged people into a life of sustainable employment in the hospitality, leisure and tourism industry, in the hope of encourage more people into kitchen jobs. Springboard’s flagship program KickStart is open to school and college leavers who are undecided about their career plans and aims to help them in their career decision making. Ten 16-24 year olds from Birmingham who joined the programme, received a week of industry-related training before completing a two week work placement at one of Whitbread’s restaurant brands, which led to one student being offered a part-time job at a Brewers Fayre site.

Shelley Sandzer secures second Gravity trampoline parks site for Maidstone scheme: Agent Shelley Sandzer has acted in a deal on behalf of landlords Land Securities in a deal that will see Gravity trampoline parks take a 22,926 sq ft site at the Lockmeadow Leisure Complex, Maidstone. This is Gravity’s second site in the UK and is due to open in early November. The brand incorporates wall-to-wall trampolines to create large open play areas. The spaces can be used by people of all ages for a variety of entertainment and fitness activities including free jumping sessions, “AIR-obic” classes, specialised versions of basketball and dodgeball and hired parties. Henry Wilson, leasing agent at Shelley Sandzer, said: “This deal showcases the work that Shelley Sandzer do with high profile landlords across the country as well as the diverse nature of leisure brands we work with. Gravity is an exciting concept and we are pleased to secure its second location for our client.”

Grantham operator expands with speakeasy concept: The owner of drinks retailer Trickling Tap in Grantham, Lincolnshire is expanding with a speakeasy cocktail bar and lounge that will open in the town in November. The new bar is in a building behind the Trickling Tap shop in Market Place. It will be called the Tap and Tonic and is due to open on 7 November. The speakeasy will be reminiscent of those bars opened during prohibition in America in the 1930s. There will be room for 40 people on two floors and it will be table service.

Speaker programme for Propel Multi Club Conference unveiled: The full speaker programme for the Propel Multi Club Conference on Thursday, 5 November at the Lancaster, London, the best-attended conference series in the sector, has been unveiled. Ian King presenter of the Sky News show, Ian King Live, and former business and city editor of The Times, looks at the key economic trends over the past 12 months and the 12 months ahead and gives his views on their impact on the hospitality sector. Peter Hansen, founder of leading mergers and acquisitions advisory Sapient Corporate Finance, which has advised on sector transactions worth more than £2bn in the past five years, looks at the key sector trends in 2015 for those buying and selling businesses. Andrew Ball, of accountancy firm haysmacintyre, offers his top tips on tax minimisation for multi-site operators. Paul Harbottle, commercial director of Enterprise Inns, talks about building a 800-strong managed pub estate and investment and progress in the leased and tenanted part of the business. Toby Smith, chief executive of Novus Leisure, explains how the company is evolving its food, drink and entertainment offer, along with digital capability, to stay at the forefront of the late-night market in London and the regions. Martin Wolstencroft, founder of Arc Inspirations, arguably Yorkshire’s most successful independent bar and restaurant operator, talks about running multiple concepts, overcoming challenges, best-in-class profit conversion, innovation and expanding over the Pennines in the company’s 15th year. Scott Shaw, founder and chairman of marketing and information analysis business Fishbowl, explains how US restaurant businesses are using guest information to drive marketing and sales. He is joined by data expert Mike Lukianoff, founder of Czar Metrics, now owned by Fishbowl, who 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. Nick Collins, managing director of Loungers, talks about evolving the brand, maintaining company culture, fulfilling growth ambitions, new trading locations and stepping into the shoes of founder Alex Reilley. Kris Gumbrell and Simon Bunn, co-founders of Brewhouse & Kitchen, talk about how they have developed the UK’s largest brewpub chain, food quality, recruiting brewers, brewing experiences, EIS funding and the market potential for the company. Ann Elliott, chief executive of Elliotts, presents the findings of a survey of senior industry executives on the subject of ‘outstanding leadership’. Elliotts strategy director James Hacon talks to former Spirit chief executive Mike Tye, Thorley Taverns operations director Phil Thorley, Ego Restaurants chief executive James Horler and Ann Elliott about the principles of high quality leadership. Operators on multi-site pub, restaurant and foodservice companies can claim up to two free places by emailing Adam Dickinson on

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