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Thu 1st Oct 2015 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Luke Johnson – I want to turn Eclectic into one of the leading players in the late-night market: Sector investor Luke Johnson has set out his ambitions for Eclectic Bar Group, the operator of 19 premium bars that he now chairs after a £1.5m investment during the summer. The company will add late-night sites on an opportunistic basis but also seek to balance the business by making acquisitions with higher food content. He said: “I want Eclectic to become one of the leading players in the late-night market, significantly bigger than we are. We will look to diversify from late-night wet-led into food-led concepts. We will focus our acquisitions on bars in the late-night industry that we think can deliver a higher profit than they do now – like Coalition in Brighton. We will continue to focus on opportunities within the late-night bar industry and I believe acquisitions will become available, on a one or two-site basis, from time-to-time.” The company will also look to make acquisitions of businesses with more food content to create a “better balance for the business”, he said. Asked why he had invested in Eclectic, he said: “I’m an opportunist. One of the shareholders approached me. I thought it represented fair value and was a bit of a challenge – and I can never resist one of those.” Johnson said the company would sell one of its venues but that all others are profitable at site level although some of these are not as profitable as the company would like. Asked if there had been any surprises since his arrival, he said: “I did a reasonable amount of due diligence. It is a fundamentally sound business. I thought (the sector) is a lot nearer the bottom than the top and there will be opportunities for consolidation.” Yesterday (Wednesday, 30 September), Eclectic reported turnover dropped £400,000 to £22.3m in the 52 weeks to 28 June and made a loss of £5.8m after impairments.

Industry News:

Turtle Bay apologises for ‘offensive’ marketing campaign: Caribbean restaurant Turtle Bay has apologised for an “offensive” marketing campaign that invited customers to “rastafy” themselves. The company encouraged people to upload photos of themselves that would be edited to darken their skin tone and add dreadlocks. But the campaign, which launched last week, provoked outrage on social media with people claiming it mocked Rastafarianism. Turtle Bay has now pulled the campaign and deleted all traces of it from its Twitter account. It also claimed it had not given the green light to the campaign. In a statement founder Ajith Jayawickrema said: “An external person launched an inappropriate social media campaign on our behalf. We would like to apologise to all those people who got in touch to voice their concerns. We have taken steps to ensure that nothing like this happens again.”

Nottingham pub named CAMRA’s ‘Cider pub of the Year’: A Nottingham pub that reopened less than 18 months ago has been named winner of the Campaign for Real Ale’s (CAMRA) National Cider Pub of the Year 2015 award. The pub has a long history dating back to 1750, but closed in 2013 before having new life breathed into it in August 2014 through a partnership between Nottinghamshire’s Lincoln Green Brewery and Leicestershire’s Everards Brewery, under the management of Anthony Hughes and Lorraine Swain. The pub has become famous for its “real cider” which is made from pure fruits with no additives or chemicals and served naturally still, unlike commercially produced cider, which is force-carbonated to give it fizz. Real perry is produced in exactly the same way as real cider but with pear juice instead of apple juice. The pub’s cider wall features eight ciders and perries that are always from smaller producers rather than big brands. Hughes said: “We fully support CAMRA’s definition of real cider and acknowledge the recent amendment to remove the criteria that ‘no added flavourings to be used’ and to allow ‘pure fruits, vegetables, honey, hops, herbs and spices, yet no concentrates cordials or essences’ to be added.”

Reuters – AB InBev lining up $70bn debt for SABMiller offer: Anheuser-Busch InBev is asking banks to underwrite up to £46bn in debt financing to back its potential takeover of SABMiller, banking sources have told Reuters. The initial financing is expected to comprise bridge loans, which will be refinanced by bond issues, and longer term loans, the sources said. Banks working on the deal include AB InBev’s core relationship banks: Banco Santander, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank, ING, JP Morgan, Mizuho Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland, Societe Generale and SMBC, banking sources said. Reuters added banks remain highly liquid despite recent global market volatility and are eager to lend in size to core corporate clients such as AB InBev.

Eataly hires executive chairman ahead of IPO and London debut: Italian foodservice company Eataly, which had €350m in revenues last year, has hired Andrea Guerra — chief executive of eyewear group Luxottica for a decade and, for the past year, adviser to Italian premier Matteo Renzi — as executive chairman. Guerra, who starts today (Thursday, 1 October), is tasked with doubling Eataly’s revenues within the next couple of years, ready for a stock market listing in Milan. “We consumers take as given the functionality of products, and buy on emotions,” Guerra said. “Oscar Farinetti was one of the few who understood that the world today moves on emotion.” Eataly has just opened in Seoul and will open in Munich before Christmas. A second New York store is due to open near Ground Zero next spring, followed by Los Angeles and Boston. Its debut in the UK is planned for as early as autumn next year in the Selfridges department store on Oxford Street.

Government introduces largest ever rise to apprentices’ wages: From today, (Thursday 1 October), the apprentice rate of the National Minimum Wage (NMW) goes up by 57p to £3.30 and the NMW rate for adult workers will rise by 20p from £6.50 to £6.70 per hour. The boost for apprentices is the largest ever and means that those working 40 hours a week will now have £1,185 more in their pay packet over the year. The 3% increase in the adult rate is the biggest real increase since 2006. Business Secretary Sajid Javid said: “As a one nation government we are making sure that every part of Britain benefits from our growing economy and today more than 1.4 million of Britain’s lowest-paid workers will be getting a well-deserved pay rise. The increase for apprentices is the largest in history making sure that apprenticeships remain an attractive option for young people. While the National Minimum Wage will see the largest real-terms increase since 2007.”

McDonald’s renames build-your-own burger trial: McDonald’s has renamed its build-your-own burger trial in the US and replaced two unpopular flavours. Its name has changed to Chef Crafted from TasteCrafted. New flavours include maple bacon dijon and buffalo bacon, while hot jalapeno and deluxe were removed. “The original name ‘TasteCrafted’ did not resonate with consumers,” a spokeswoman said. “We decided to celebrate our chefs who have created these recipes and highlight the culinary expertise of our in-house and supplier chefs.” Chef Crafted is McDonald’s third attempt at a create-your-own sandwich programme. The company also is trying Create Your Taste, which allows customers to choose toppings via large touch-screen kiosks. Chef Crafted is being tested in about 200 restaurants, with more to come later this year.

Ed Byrne to host 2015 ALMR Christmas lunch: Ed Byrne will host the 2015 ALMR Christmas lunch, the industry’s largest yuletide gathering. The comedian will entertain over 1,200 delegates from across the licensed hospitality sector on Thursday, 17 December at Old Billingsgate in London. The 2015 lunch, which has been sold out since July, will once again promote and celebrate the hard work of the licensed hospitality sector through its slogan: one great lunch, one united industry. ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “Our annual Christmas lunch is a chance to reflect on a year of hard work and to celebrate the best of this industrious and pioneering sector. As ever, the lunch will be an opportunity to brief our members on some of our work over the last 12 months, reveal new initiatives and crown our operations managers of the year.”

British Museum of Food to be launched in London’s Borough Market: Design studio Bompas & Parr is launching the British Museum of Food, the world’s first cultural institution entirely devoted to the history, evolution, science, sociology and art of food. Opening for three months from 23 October, the museum is a proof of concept as it seeks a permanent home. Located in a building at Borough Market across two floors, Bompas & Parr is collaborating with the market’s managers, trustees and traders as well as a selection of different artists to initiate a new cultural institution for the capital. Through its exhibits and experiences the museum aims to showcase the most exciting elements of food. Fundamentally it will seek to change peoples’ lives by helping them consider what they eat and to spread knowledge around nutrition and health and to recognise its role in culture. As it builds a permanent collection, it will seek to become a globally recognised national resource, a platform for experimentation and innovation, and a body that can advise government policy makers on anything related to food. Harry Parr, partner of Bompas & Parr and a founder trustee of the museum, said: “Around the world there are various museums devoted to specific items of food and drink, such as herrings and absinthe, but nowhere has an institution been created that seeks to embrace this crucial part of human existence. This has long been an aspiration of the studio and we’re delighted to have been able to assemble a stellar cast to help us bring this to life. And where better than the spiritual home of London’s food culture?”

European hotel transactions up 58% year-on-year, UK produced 55% of transactions, reports HVS: Transactions in the European hotel sector have seen a big increase with volume reaching €12bn in the year to date, according to Charles Human, HVS managing director, speaking at the Hotel Investment Conference Europe at London’s Jumeirah Carlton Tower. Human reported a 58% year-on-year volume increase. The UK, he said, had seen the biggest number of deals, with €6.8bn-worth, representing 55% of total European volume. Some €5.2bn had been portfolio deals, with well over €1bn still pending. “The market is stronger than it was a year ago with the upturn driven largely by continued recovery combined with increased liquidity,” said Human. “We are now seeing much more interest from investors in the hotel sector and we expect this to continue. Since the start of 2014, about 20% of total group-owned or managed UK hotel stock has changed hands. That could rise to nearly 30% by the end of the year. The all-Europe average hotel cap rate stood at 6.1% last year and has decreased to 5.9% this year, indicating continued yield compression, while private equity funds accounted for 25% of all European purchases in 2014. The ratio is up to 35% this year – the most active investor category and predominantly driven out of the US.” Asian buyers have accounted for about 15% of all acquisitions since the start of 2014.

Company News:

Starbucks launches Mobile Order & Pay in the UK: Starbucks is launching Mobile Order & Pay in the UK, allowing customers to pre-order their favourite drinks and food in over 150 London stores. Rolling out from today, the new feature, available exclusively within the Starbucks app, offers customers greater convenience and the ability to customise their drink and food orders as well as time savings of up to 10-15 minutes. Users of the app are also rewarded with exclusive opportunities to earn Stars with the My Starbucks Rewards loyalty programme. The app has received a very positive response from customers in the United States where it has been available since December 2014. According to customer feedback, the app typically saves commuters and working people 10-15 minutes in their day; parents with young children find it easier to order ahead than stand in line, while speech- and hearing-impaired customers have hailed the app as a “game changer” in helping them to get their correct order, fast. “We Brits are famous for queuing, but in an age of such sophisticated technology ‘why wait?’. With more people leading busier lifestyles than ever, saving minutes can really help, so we are excited to be bringing Mobile Order & Pay to our London customers – the first to have this feature outside of the US,” said Ian Cranna, vice president of marketing and category for Starbucks EMEA. “We think the easy-to-use feature will meet our customers’ needs for convenience and customisation at any time of the day.” Mobile Order & Pay is initially available on iOS in 150 stores in London for the first trial phase of the technology. The launch of the UK trial follows a successful pilot in the US where Mobile Order & Pay surpassed all expectations and has just extended to over 7,000 stores nationwide as well as to the Android platform.

Leeds street food brand to expand into Nottingham: Leeds-based Thai street food brand Zaap is set to open a new site in Nottingham. The new 4,500 square foot restaurant will open this November, after a refurbishment costing in excess of £500,000 is completed, on Bromley Place, next to the Oaks and Kaplan residences. Boasting 200 covers, the new restaurant marks the brand’s second site, after launching in Leeds city centre in May and will create up to 75 jobs in the local area. Ban Kaewkraikhot, the brand’s owner, said: “Everyone at Zaap is thrilled and excited at the prospect of bringing our Thai street food revolution to Nottingham. We can’t wait to give the people of this great city a true taste of Bangkok and have them share in our passion for all the wonderful flavours of its food and give them an experience of real Thai culture and traditions.”

The Guardian claims tipping policy at Jamie’s Italian has upset staff: Waiting staff at Jamie’s Italian are in dispute with the company after complaining that changes in the company’s tipping policy are exploitative and have left them out of pocket, the Guardian has claimed. The company requires its waiting staff to pay a 2% levy from table sales they generate on each shift. The money is taken from credit card tips, the company says, to be redistributed among kitchen and door staff. This means that if waiting staff sell £1,000 of food and drinks in an evening, they have to pay £20 back from their credit card tips to the restaurant regardless of how much they have actually made in tips. Some shifts can bring in as little as £20 in tips, they have claimed. A number of staff members have told managers the new tipping system is unfair because it bears no relation to how much they actually earn in tips, and is run without staff input or transparency. On occasion, they claim, waiting staff have to “pay to work”. A spokeswoman for Jamie’s Italian confirmed to The Guardian it had received a complaint from staff members and was attempting to solve the dispute, but added the company used a fair and HMRC-compliant tronc system independent of head office. She added: “Staff contribute a maximum of 2% to the tronc system and under no circumstance would they ever have to contribute more than they receive in tips. Since the implementation of the new system, we have only had one complaint from some staff at one of our restaurants who believe that the front of house staff deserve more of their tips – resulting in less for non-front-of-house staff. This issue is currently being resolved internally at that restaurant. Our waiters are some of the highest earning staff in the sector and they are rewarded exceptionally well.”
 
Spirit handed £150,000 fine over sewage treatment offence: Greene King’s Spirit division has been handed a £150,000 fine by the Environment Agency after sewage treatment works at one of its north east hotels polluted a nearby stream. Spirit Pub Company was prosecuted after an investigation by the agency found sewage was not being treated adequately before being discharged at the Cross Keys Inn pub and hotel at Middlesbrough Road in Guisborough. The inn has a permit that allows it to release treated waste into a nearby stream but last year a “brown, foamy effluent” was seen running into the water. The company was fined £150,000 – £50,000 for each of the three offences – and was ordered to pay costs of £4,596 and a victim surcharge of £120. Since the incident, Spirit has taken steps to ensure the efficient discharge of sewage, including an alarm to alert staff of faults. A spokesman for the Cross Keys Inn said: “We have apologised unreservedly to the local community and acted immediately to rectify the problem. We would like to reassure our customers and the community that the pub now meets all environmental standards. We take our environmental responsibilities very seriously and are disappointed that this incident occurred. We have taken a number of steps to ensure there will be no repeat.”

Second Canteen and Cocktails venue to open, this time in Newcastle: North east leisure entrepreneurs are to open a second Canteen and Cocktails site, this time in Newcastle’s Dean Street, in a £500,000 investment. The bar and restaurant will create up to 40 jobs – the first venue opened on Teesside last year. The concept mixes the industrial north east with the American Deep South. Director Barry Faulkner also co-owns La Pharmacie, the accompanying Medicine Bar in Middlesbrough’s Corporation Road and the town’s Empire nightclub. For the Newcastle venture, Faulkner has teamed up with John Adamson, director of the Ramside Estates group, which includes Ramside Hall Hotel and Golf Club, in Carville, County Durham. Canteen and Cocktails will be serving authentic American pit barbecue food – such as “Crock ‘O’ Bones” and “Kentucky Piggy Treat” – cocktails and showing all major sporting events. Live music and DJs playing at weekends are also planned. The decor at the Norton venue has an industrial edge with exposed light bulbs, large stripped back solid wood tables and Victorian washroom toilets.
 
Deltic Group to add £250,000 ‘retro’ room to Tamworth nightclub: Nightclub and bar operator Deltic Group is adding a new £250,000 “retro” room to its Kuda site in Tamworth, Staffordshire. The company is opening Vinyl in the downstairs of the venue in Spinning School Lane on Friday, 23 October, creating 25 jobs. It will play hits from the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, have a flashing dancefloor and five party booths, including a super booth with its own private dancefloor. Stacey Penney, general manager of both Vinyl and Kuda, told the Tamworth Herald: “Vinyl is going to be a big hit as there is nothing else like it in town. Kuda is really popular but Vinyl is targeted at a more mature audience who want to let their hair down to hits that were once Top of the Pops and have a good ‘ol boogy.”

Nando’s seeks head of brand communications: Nando’s is seeking a head of brand communications. The role, which would be based at an unknown location, was advertised by Nando’s UK head of digital innovation Jonathan Hopkins on Twitter. He tweeted: “Job klaxon! We’re looking for a head of brand communications at Nando’s UK.” The job role was lauded as an “amazing” one by the company, with free chicken promised to the person who gets the position.

Harrison to design second Burger Shack venue for Young’s: International hospitality design specialist Harrison is to work on a second Burger Shack venue for premium pub operator Young’s following the success of its design for the new brand’s first permanent site at The Windmill pub in Clapham, London, which launched in May this year. Harrison’s scheme for The Swan at Walton on Thames, which will open in November, will focus on boosting fast-casual dining options for Young’s in the premium pub market and will follow the thriving Burger Shack blueprint of an innovative beer garden food experience. “Burger Shack is all about engaging a more urban, modern demographic and wowing them with a bold, attractive dining experience which fits in with their lifestyle,” said Harrison designer Elsa Nugent. “The brand started life earlier this year in an Airstream travel trailer which visited Young’s pubs serving amazing burgers, but Young’s have extended the concept with resident shacks that are more permanent, but with the same quirky, innovative approach to eating out.” Harrison’s designs for The Swan will have roots in the agency’s launch work at The Windmill, which transformed an existing outside bar and used an individually designed shepherd hut for seating as well as outdoor reclaimed timber sharing tables. Young’s retail director Patrick Dardis said: “The new Burger Shacks allow us to extend our quality food offer significantly whilst providing our customers with a more fast-casual dining experience. The designs are not just innovative and refreshing for our customers, they are also operationally effective, ensuring our service is efficient during high capacity periods.”

YO! Sushi gets go-ahead for Chelmsford site:
YO! Sushi has been granted permission to open a site in Chelmsford – its second site in Essex. The company has been given the go-ahead by Chelmsford Council to open in a vacant shop in the High Street, which was previously occupied by shoe company Stead & Simpson. The restaurant would create about 25 jobs and would open from 11.30am-10pm. A spokesman told the Essex Chronicle: “YO! Sushi is always looking at new opportunities and locations, and is delighted to bring a slice of urban Tokyo to the wonderful town of Chelmsford. We are extremely fond of the warm and engaging local community so cannot wait to open our doors and let everyone have a YO! dining experience.” YO! Sushi’s other branch in the county is at the Intu Lakeside shopping centre in Thurrock.
 
Restaurateur Terry Laybourne consults on new Fenwick’s restaurant: North east restaurateur Terry Laybourne has consulted on a new Mediterranean wine bar and restaurant that has opened in Newcastle department store Fenwick. The Fuego Bar and Restaurant has been launched as the first phase of a multi-million pound revamp by Fenwick of its food hall. The menu for the 70-cover restaurant has been influenced by the food hall’s focus on charcuterie, cheese and delicatessen as well as the popularity of its wine selection. The concept and menu have been created by Fenwick executive chef Kelly Richardson, supported by prominent north east restaurateur Terry Laybourne of the 21 Hospitality Group, who has acted as consultant on the project. The revamp by Fenwick will see the addition of several new eateries including a seafood and oyster bar and south east Asian street food outlet.

Zizzi, Pizza Hut and Toby Carvery sign up to new online discount voucher platform: Restaurant brands Zizzi, Pizza Hut, and Toby Carvery, owned by Mitchells & Butlers, have signed up to a new online discount voucher platform by radio broadcasting company Bauer Media. The brands feature on Dabbl, which has been launched by the company to give consumers the opportunity to purchase discounted deals for shopping, restaurants and events. Bauer said Dabbl was part of its continued focus on digital product development and follows the launch in 2013 of Radio Offers, the consumer discount site that offers deals in its radio network’s key areas. Digital development director Jo Baldwin, who led the 12-month development of the site, said: “Dabbl is a prime example of our agile approach to product development – something that continues to be a real focus for the company. It also demonstrates our deep understanding of consumers and their shopping habits, allowing us to work closely with national advertisers.”

Antic London set to have plans for new Norbury site blocked despite 155 letters of support: Antic London is set to have its plans for a new site in the capital in Norbury blocked despite 155 letters of support – because of issues over its design. The company, led by Antony Thomas, is proposing to open a pub in Norbury Mews. But it has been told by a Croydon Council planning officer that issues with the design means the application, which has attracted just one objection, would be rejected outright and not go to committee. They also said the 155 letters of support would not be considered when assessing any new application. Thomas told the Croydon Guardian: “It does seem peculiar. In principle they seem to be supportive. It’s a slight difference of opinion, but that’s why we thought it should go to committee. It’s about democracy. 155 people took the time to write in. You would think the council would take the time to listen to them.” Thomas said Antic would appeal the decision before making another application. A council spokesman said: “We want to work with the applicant to resolve the issues with the planning application, and have recommended they engage with the council’s pre-application service to progress this.”

Former Marco Pierre White pub in Wiltshire to be reopened by Punch next week: The Pear Tree Inn, Whitley, Wiltshire, which was run by Marco Pierre White as a gastro-pub from 2011 until August last year, when it closed suddenly, is to be reopened next Friday by owner Punch Taverns. The pub has undergone an extensive refurbishment to reflect its original 17th century farmhouse origins and includes eight double en suite bedrooms and two dining areas. It will be run by Jackie Cosens with chef Adrian Jenkins, who have 25 years’ experience in the industry. The menu will be “quintessentially British”, featuring seasonal flavours and ingredients that are locally grown and reared. Cosens told the Wiltshire Times: “We cannot wait to open a new chapter for a pub that has been at the heart of the village for centuries.” White ran the site with business partner Paul Clark as one of six pubs from the Maypole Group, which went into administration. He was criticised for removing draught lagers from the bar and stocking one lager costing £4.20 a bottle.

M Restaurants wins two awards at Harpers: M Restaurants has won awards for best new opening and best front of house/sommelier, going to M Wine director Zack Charilaou, at the annual Harpers awards. The first M site was shortlisted for “Best Newcomer 2014” in the BMW Square Meal Awards and will open its second site, M Victoria, six months ahead of schedule before the end of this year. Ahead of the Victoria opening, M will open a specialist wine shop in Victoria. Devised by M chief executive Martin Williams and Charilaou, M Wine Store and MWinestore.com will mirror a retail shop offering premium and unusual restaurant wines to enjoy at home from the six countries from which M sources its steaks (USA, Argentina, France, Italy, South Africa, and Australia). The store will also feature state-of-the-art tasting machines. Daily tastings will take place on a mezzanine-level tasting table that can accommodate up to 20 guests.
 
Foodservice company supplying Japanese favourite mochi to restaurants expecting to double sales to £2m: V&H, the foodservice company that supplies Japanese favourite mochi to restaurants, is expected to double its sales to £2m this year. The company, founded by former City employees Vivien Wong and brother Howard in 2008, has two lines: Little Moons frozen mocha ice cream and Tsuki Mochi truffles. Mochi is made by steaming and pounding rice flour until it has a chewy texture like a gummy bear or soft toffee, only with a more complex flavour that doesn’t depend on sweetness. It supplies about 15,000 individual mochis a day to restaurants, including Wagamama, ramen restaurant Tonkotsu and French chain Sushi Shop, which has an outlet in London, reports Bloomberg. At YO! Sushi, the mochis are the best-selling dessert, with eight ordered every minute while Nobu serves a bespoke range. The company aims to have retail make up 50% of its revenue in five years and has an agreement to sell Little Moons in Whole Foods, while Selfridges stocks Tsuki Mochi.

Dip & Flip set to open third site, eyes further expansion: Dip & Flip, the roast meat sandwich specialist, is set to open its third restaurant in south London – and is eyeing further expansion. The company has completed the purchase of a property at 115 Tooting High Street for its latest venue. It also said following a “very buoyant summer” in its restaurants at Battersea Rise and Wimbledon, it “remains in negotiations with landlords in respect of further sites”. Director Tim Lees said: “We were always hoping to purchase a good site in Tooting, and we are very excited to be opening our third restaurant near The Broadway in the coming months.” The company secured a £750,000 investment last December to help with its expansion plans.

More details emerge on Easyhotel plan for Liverpool: More details has emerged about Easyhotel’s £3m scheme to create a “super-budget” hotel following its purchase of a property overlooking Derby Square in Liverpool city centre. Fresh plans show that 77 en-suite bedrooms are being proposed while the existing restaurant within the nine-floor building would be unaffected. Easyhotel UK has submitted a full planning application to change the use of 47 Castle Street, which is located on the corner with Harrington Street, into a 77-bedroom hotel with a ground-floor entrance reception and staff facilities. The design and access statement accompanying the application indicates the hotel accommodation would have a gross internal floor area of 14,833 square foot. There would be 12 bedrooms on the first floor, 16 on the second floor, 16 on the third floor, 16 on the fourth floor and 17 on the fifth floor.

Enterprise partners Midlands operator for second site: Enterprise Inns has partnered Worcestershire publican Anthony Palmer for a second time, and invested £150,000 in The Star Inn in the Georgian town of Pershore. Palmer, who also has Enterprise Inns’ The Berkeley, in Spetchley, said: “We’ve completely changed direction. What once was an ordinary, local pub, is now a contemporary, premium pub and dining offer, with room for 60 covers inside, and 30 out. We’re serving a mixture of pub classics and gastro-style dishes, as well as sandwiches and snacks. Behind the bar we have premium cask ales, lagers and ciders, world beers and quality wines. I’m looking forward to a continued partnership with Enterprise to really drive and grow both businesses.” Enterprise regional manager Paul Vavasour said: “Anthony is well-known locally for running his other Enterprise site, The Berkeley, which is just five miles down the road. It has a fantastic reputation, which I’m sure will work in this pub’s favour.”

Barclays supports Wirral coast hotel acquisition: The grade II-listed Leasowe Castle Hotel overlooking the Wirral coastline has been purchased with the support of a seven-figure commercial mortgage. Leasowe Castle Hotel has been acquired by HDK Leisure, which is owned by Bhupendra Gandhi. Built in 1593, possibly as an observation platform for the Wallasey races that took place on the sands in the 16th and 17th centuries, it was owned by Wirral Borough Council between 1974 and 1980 before reverting into a hotel and being bought by Lawton Hotels. HDK Leisure completed the deal with the support of a £1m-plus commercial mortgage from Barclays. Gandhi said: “There were a number of trade buyers who were keen on purchasing this unique opportunity. As a result, it was imperative that I engaged with a lender who would be responsive and execute swiftly, whilst providing support and guidance, throughout the acquisition process.”

Beds and Bars names employee of the year: Pan-European hostel and bar operator Beds and Bars has named Jennifer van der Linde as its employee of the year. The company, led by Keith Knowles, chose van der Linde, hostel manager at St Christopher’s at the Village, London Bridge, as its winner with Hamish McNeil, Tristan Chittleborough and Darian Creasey named runners up. Van der Linde had been nominated for its monthly employee of the month award four times in the past financial year. She was primarily recognised for her work as a hostel ambassador – her title during her time at St Christopher’s Inn Greenwich. PR manager Robert Savage said: “It was a very intense process with candidates from across the sites in ten cities and seven countries nominated by their managers for exceptional achievements – above and beyond the call of duty – in addition to embodying the Beds and Bars mantra – Live Your Life! We couldn’t be happier for Jennifer, who in addition to receiving a generous cash prize, will also enjoy an extra week of paid holiday.”

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 an 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 leading sector public relations and marketing firm 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. Multi-site pub, restaurant and foodservice operators can claim up to two free places by emailing Adam Dickinson on adam.dickinson@proplinfo.com

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