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Fri 2nd Oct 2015 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Enterprise Inns launches segmentation strategy for its 5,200 pubs: Enterprise Inns has launched an pub segmentation initiative at two conferences at the NEC, Birmingham. More than 250 of its operations team and over 200 suppliers attended the Enterprise retail and supplier gatherings, which began yesterday and conclude today (Friday). Hosted by group commercial director Paul Harbottle, the conferences revealed how a more sophisticated approach to segmentation would underpin the company’s five-year strategy, and help unlock the potential of its 5,200 leased and tenanted pub estate, as well as its growing managed house division. Enterprise chief executive Simon Townsend set the scene by explaining that the pub segmentation initiative has been developed on the back of detailed customer research, industry benchmarking, and feedback from publicans. Addressing delegates, he explained that Enterprise is totally committed to working in partnership with its publicans to unlock the potential of every one of its pubs: “We will achieve this by putting each pub at the heart of the community they serve, and providing the right retail offer for their customers.” During the sessions, operations teams heard from a number of key speakers, including Deloitte UK, which has worked with Enterprise over the last 12 months to develop the new segmented approach. Suppliers were given an overview of the new, initiative, and an outline of how they will work with Enterprise to achieve its five-year plan and support its publicans. Enterprise sales and marketing director James Armitage provided an insight into key customer drivers, including demographics, trends, primary customer occasions, and location. Delegates were shown a video featuring regional managers piloting the initiative with publicans. He said: “We are encouraged by the hugely positive response from both our operations team and suppliers, and look forward to working closely with our publicans to help them take full advantage of this new initiative to further develop their pub businesses.” Paul Harbottle will be presenting at the Propel Multi Club Conference on 5 November. See bottom of email for more details.

Industry News:

CGA Peach – operators need to be ‘streetwise’ about ‘disruptive’ street food trend: Operators have been warned of the need to be “streetwise” against a new trend threatening to be the “biggest disruption to the industry”. CGA Peach vice-president Peter Martin said street food concepts and street food markets were set to be one of the top trends of 2016. He told the Fourth conference in London yesterday (Thursday, 1 October): “Street food is a real phenomenon. There’s no doubt we will see street food grow. We have got to get more streetwise about what is going on in the market. Is it the food? Is it the drink? Is it being outside? I think it’s the whole package – it’s the experience. The experience is a driver of many successful brands, not just in the street food market. Brands like Turtle Bay for example do this very well. We do love to be outside. The number of rooftop bars that have cropped up show that.” Martin said other key trends in 2016 would be premiumisation and scale. He added: “People are thinking big, eating big. You only have to look at the Grand Central shopping centre in Birmingham that opened recently. The 200-plus covered restaurant is not a rarity anymore.” Martin also said more hotels were adding casual dining concepts while, along with restaurants, they were also using alcohol to boost sales. A lot of concepts were aimed at the craft and artisan part of the market with 45% of under 35s making craft beer their first choice of drink, he added. Soft drinks should also not be ignored with juice bars becoming a real driver in the health market, which is “here to stay”. Martin also warned that operators faced competition from all angles, particularly from entrepreneurs starting new concepts in city centres away from London. He said: “It all comes back to one thing – the relationship operators have with their customers. It’s driven by word of mouth and social media. That’s how street food is managing to stay in touch – it’s about how we communicate.”

Deloitte reveals most active private equity market since 2007: A new analysis by accountancy firm Deloitte has found the most active private equity market since 2007. In the first nine months of 2015 there have been a total of 61 smaller deals (£25m to £100m) and 53 larger deals (in excess of £100m) involving private equity, according to the accountancy firm. This compares to 49 smaller deals and 29 larger deals in the same period last year. The total makes for the highest private equity deal volumes since 2007 where there were 105 smaller deals and 68 larger ones over the full year. The 114 deals completed so far this year have involved 78 different private equity firms with LDC, which has regional offices in Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Bristol and Nottingham, the most active (ten deals). Leeds-headquartered Endless backed the second highest number of transactions (five deals). Martin Jenkins, corporate financier and practice senior partner at Deloitte, said: “Interestingly, 61 private equity firms have done a single deal so far in 2015 demonstrating how fragmented and competitive the private equity market has become.” Since the start of 2014, 20 European restaurant groups have been bought by private equity firms in deals worth a combined $1.4 billion, according to data provider Dealogic.

Record 76 New York restaurants earn Michelin stars: A record 76 New York City restaurants have won Michelin stars in the latest guide. In the 11th edition of its New York City restaurant guide, Michelin handed stars to three more restaurants than the prior edition. “The impressive number of different styles of cuisine, a total of 61, found throughout all five boroughs, confirms New York’s position as one of the world’s most exciting dining destinations,” said Michael Ellis, the international director of the Michelin Guides. Michelin awarded three stars, its highest distinction for “exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey” to the same six restaurants as in the prior year’s edition: Eleven Madison Park, Jean-Georges, Le Bernardin, Masa and Per Se in Manhattan, and Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare in Brooklyn.

Saper – Eataly would not have existed if it was not for the financial crisis: Adam Saper, managing partner of high-end Italian foodservice emporium Eataly, believes the company would not have existed if it wasn’t for the financial crisis. The company, which opened its first store in Torino in 2007, now has 11 sites in Italy and others worldwide including New York and Sao Paulo, with one due to open at Selfridges in London next year. But Saper told the Fourth conference in London yesterday (Thursday, 1 October) that he thinks the company would not have been able to secure the sites it wanted without the downturn in the economy. He said: “I don’t think we would have been able to create Eataly without the financial crisis because the types of properties would not have been available. We like taking places with history and transforming them. We are going back to the past to bring the food market of the future. We sell what we cook and we cook what we sell. We have all these restaurants under one roof. You piggyback on the country that has the best brands. People want to eat like they are in Italy. We are expanding but we don’t want to be a chain – we consider ourselves to be a family.” Saper said the company was excited to be coming to London, although he wasn’t sure exactly when Eataly would open. He added: “We try to improve the quality of our food by having transparency. People want to see their food being made. When you see your food being made it tastes better and you appreciate the effort that went into it. The customer is not always right. Eataly is not always right. Through our differences we hope to create harmony.”

Fourth launches new ‘engagement’ mobile app: Fourth, the software partner to the hospitality and leisure industries, has developed a new “engagement” mobile app. The company announced the launch of Fourth Engage, which it said will revolutionise the way businesses are able to engage with their employees, at its annual conference in London yesterday (Thursday, 1 October). The app – which can also be viewed on a web browser – is expected to free up time for managers as well as keeping all employees “in the loop”. It allows managers to perform a host of tasks including sending messages to their staff, notify them of rota changes and available shifts, and approving orders – all at the click of a button. Employees can access, for example, HR documents and their payslips as well as use it to notify their manager they are unavailable or want to swap a shift. Any changes made are notified to all staff affected. Companies are able to add other information and functions to the app if they wish. Fourth chief technology officer Christian Berthelsen said: “We are extremely excited about the possibilities of this and can’t wait to go on this journey with you (its clients). This is all about simplifying the process and keeping that connection going. It’s about helping employees become engaged and productive.”

Asda – pubs are losing out to posh snacking at home: Supermarket Asda has claimed there has been an upswing in customers eating posh snacks at home during the Rugby World Cup. The grocer said almost 50% of Britons are entertaining at home rather than heading to the pub to watch the tournament’s matches. Nearly a third of the 1,000 adults they surveyed said they were shopping for gourmet party goods and canapés, while almost 15% are shopping to fill cheese boards. However, pizza and crisps remain among the staples for Rugby World Cup party hosts. Prosecco and rosé wine are becoming more acceptable match tipples, the research suggest, with 15% of men opting to drink the two while watching the action on the pitch. “Whilst we’ve seen the usual party foods such as pizza fly off the shelves for the Rugby World Cup season, it’s interesting to see a more gourmet trend for canapés, cheese boards, wine and prosecco for such an intense sporting tournament,” Asda said.

Whole Foods Market to shed 1,500 jobs to reduce costs: Whole Foods Market, which has nine sites in the UK, has reported it would cut circa 1,500 jobs, or about 1.6% of its workforce, over the next eight weeks to reduce costs as the company invests in technology upgrades. The affected positions were mainly in stores, but “back of house” positions that were not customer-facing, the company said in an email to Reuters. Whole Foods said it would offer employees options including transition pay, severance, or allow them to apply for other jobs. The job cuts come as the retailer is working to shed its “Whole Paycheck” nickname and its reputation for high prices. Whole Foods said in May that it would launch a new chain of smaller, more value-focused shops next year. The company, which dominates the natural and organic grocery category, faces increasing competition from speciality and mainstream retailers.

ALMR – Sober October an opportunity to showcase sector diversity: The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) has encouraged its members to utilise the Go Sober for October campaign as a chance to showcase their diversity and vitality. ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The Go Sober for October campaign is great opportunity for the licensed hospitality sector to help raise money for a good cause and showcase the vitality and variety of its fantastic offering. The campaign has grown from strength to strength over recent years and our venues should approach it as an opportunity, not a threat. Pubs and bars are about much more than just alcohol and we have seen a real renaissance in the eating out market over recent years. There is an opportunity here to spotlight the great things this sector is achieving in terms of premium soft drinks, artisan coffee and inventive non-alcoholic cocktails. Customers have a chance to discover everything that we have to offer and we are in a fantastic position to remind them that great nights out in our venues needn’t revolve around alcohol.”

Crowdcube reports funds now raised for 300 companies: Equity crowdfunding platform Crowdcube has hit a new milestone, with 300 businesses successfully funded, 13% of whom come from the food and drink sector. A spokesman for Crowdcube said: “Today we have over 200,000 members and an ever growing network of growth stage businesses approaching Crowdcube, and we remain as market leaders in the equity crowdfunding industry. Just this year, we have raised £50 million for 109 businesses, with 14 raising over £1 million.”

Company News:

Brewhouse & Kitchen secures Sutton Coldfield site for first Midlands opening: Brewhouse & Kitchen, the EIS-backed brewpub operator, is set to open its first site in the Midlands after exchanging contracts on a Mediterranean restaurant in Sutton Coldfield. The company, led by Simon Bunn and Kris Gumbrell, has bought the Cambaz restaurant in Birmingham Road – its tenth site. Cambaz director Cemal Hamit told the Sutton Coldfield Observer the restaurant was initially closed for refurbishment but then received an “offer they couldn’t refuse”. He said: “We were initially going to do a refurbishment and had made all the plans to do so. This was for around two to three weeks. All of the customers had been informed, signs and banners were put up and we were ready to go. But we were then made an offer from Brewhouse & Kitchen, which we could not turn down. We are still in the process of emptying the premises, and will be out by the end of next week. Brewhouse & Kitchen will then start to move in, but I am not sure when they will be reopening.” The move will see the former The Cup venue return to being a pub after it ceased being so in June 2011. Earlier this year, Gumbrell told Propel it was aiming to have 18 sites by 2019. Kris Gumbrell and Simon Bunn will be presenting at the Propel Multi Club Conference on Thursday 5 November. See bottom of email for more details.

McDonald’s seeks to build trust in food quality with new advertising campaign: McDonald’s is continuing to invest in dispelling myths over the quality of its food with another installment in its advertising series intended to build trust in the brand, The Drum has reported. The ad campaign, developed by Leo Burnett London and OMD UK, follows on from the myth busting approach adopted in ‘The Cow’ advert released earlier this year and aims to promote the quality of McDonald’s core products – fries and chicken. It will consist of three 40-second TV ads and represents the company’s biggest investment in a quality and food provenance marketing campaign to date. The trio of ads adopts an upbeat mood while acknowledging the common apprehensions people hold over the quality of McDonald’s food through a central character who is subsequently convinced otherwise by farmers, butchers or teachers. The ads will be accompanied by the brand’s ‘Good to Know’ ethos which aims to provide customers with more information on how the food is sourced. A new website has been created by Razorfish for the initiative which provides more content on the campaign’s message.

Jamie Oliver plans Budapest opening: Jamie Oliver is opening Jamie’s Italian in Budapest, Hungary next spring in the former premises of the Hadik restaurant in the Castle District. Hungary will become the third European country after Turkey and Russia in which the brand has opened. It will be introduced to the Hungarian market by local restaurateur Zoltán Roy Zsidai, owner of the Budapest venues Spíler and ÉS. The Hungarian hospitality expert is also planning to launch the Jamie Oliver ‘Feed me Better’ school lunch programme in Hungary and hopes that a similar school canteen scheme will start in Hungary.

Brandasia Group to relaunch Metro Bar and Grill in Birmingham as pan-Asian restaurant: Brandasia Group, owner of the Indian restaurant chain Asha’s, will relaunch its Metro Bar and Grill site in Birmingham as a pan-Asian restaurant next year. The company, which acquired the site in April, will close the Cornwall Street venue for a month in January for a £500,000 refurbishment before reopening as Zen at Metro. Director Paul Bassi told the Birmingham Post that, after investigating the market, it became clear the city lacked a quality pan-Asian restaurant option. Restaurants like Nobu and Zuma have become popular in London but there is not presently an equivalent in the second city. Bassi, who is also chief executive of property firm Real Estate Investors, added: “Birmingham needs an independent, iconic, business bar. All the others are chains and they will come and go. We want Zen at Metro to be here in another 20 years. It will need a fit-out or two but we want Birmingham to have something like this.”

Downing investment vehicle operated by Pub People Company buys Nottinghamshire site: Autumn Pubs, a Downing EIS-funded pub company, has acquired a closed freehold pub in Nottinghamshire for £325,000. The Chequers Inn, a canal-side country pub located in the village of Ranby, Nottinghamshire, will undergo a £250,000 refurbishment which will see it reopen in early 2016. The pub will be relaunched under operator Pub People Company’s ‘Fresh & Local’ brand, offering freshly made good value food with ingredients sourced from local suppliers. Pub People, led by Kevin Sammons, operates circa 50 sites in total. The brand has already been successfully introduced at four existing Autumn Pubs sites. To date, Downing Pub EIS has invested over £6m into Autumn Pubs. A spokesman said: “We are delighted to have been able to assist an excellent pub operator in expanding its estate and continue to support the team’s growth ambitions.”

Byron to sell burgers for 25p next Tuesday: Better burger brand Byron will be selling burgers for 25p next Tuesday (6 October) after partnering the One Feeds Two initiative to help provide children in developing countries with the provision of school meals. Every burger special sold at Byron in the future will mean a donation of the price of a school lunch to those in need, which works out as 25p. To celebrate the launch of this partnership next Tuesday, Byron is offering all burgers for just 25p for one day only. However, customers need to become members of the Byron Burger Club before 9am on Tuesday.

Nidderdale Inns to open Ripon’s first micro-pub this weekend: Nidderdale Inns, led by Mark Arrol, will open Ripon’s first micro-pub this weekend, called Wilfrid’s. Arrol said: “It has been converted from an empty former cafe in the shadow of the cathedral and, following a four-week refurbishment, will be the city’s first micropub, serving cask and kegged craft beers.” Nidderdale Inns currently operates the Malt Shovel, Brearton.

Greene King to hold first Oktoberfest this weekend: Greene King is holding its first ever Oktoberfest, a three-day beer and music festival, in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, this weekend. From Friday 2 October to Sunday 4 October, the Greene King on-site pub, the Brewery Tap, and the surrounding gardens, will open to the public for the three-day event, which will be free to attend and coincides with UK Cask Ale Week, a ten-day celebration of beer, and with the final weekend of the world’s largest annual beer festival, Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany. The Greene King Oktoberfest will offer a mix of leading, craft and specialty beers from the brewer’s Westgate and Belhaven breweries, alongside real ales from other local and microbreweries. Greene King brewers in Bury St Edmunds are also handcrafting a special Oktober Festival Ale, which will be available for this weekend only. Cathy Truin, Greene King brewery visitor centre manager, said: “Our Oktoberfest will be a fantastic opportunity for people to try something new during Cask Ale Week. We will have 30 draught beers on sale, from golden and pale ales to stouts and porters, and our beer elves will be on hand to recommend something for everyone. We are looking forward to a fantastic weekend celebrating Great British brewing and quality cask ale.”

Nando’s and London’s Roundhouse sign partnership: Nando’s and London’s Roundhouse have agreed to a two-year partnership, which will focus on supporting up-and-coming young musicians, whilst providing industry support and mentors. The deal marks the beginning of Nando’s Music Exchange platform, which is part of the restaurant brand’s long-term vision to nurture up-and-coming talent, providing platforms for performances whether in-restaurant, through its Nando’s Rule the Roost music festival activation, or fuelling artists on tour. As part of the programme, a Nando’s studio will provide a space to forge collaborations amongst musicians, as well as a base for artist and student mentor sessions. Keri Perkins, head of music for Nando’s, said: “This is an exciting partnership for Nando’s as we look to evolve the Music Exchange over the next few years. Music has always been at the heart of what we do, from our very own Afro-Luso inspired in-restaurant sounds, to giving artists such as Rizzle Kicks and Example a platform to perform or feeding backstage for the likes of Years & Years, Rudimental and Snoop Dogg. Our aim is to continue to fuel the music industry by supporting emerging and established musicians, with this partnership being a natural step in taking this further.”

Cote to open new site in Bishop’s Stortford on Monday: French brasserie Cote is to open a new site in Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire, on Monday (5 October). The company has spent more than £1m refurbishing the site in North Street, which is part of the former Pearsons department store, creating about 40 jobs. Cote’s joint managing director Harald Samuelsson told the Herts & Essex Observer: “Bishop’s Stortford has a distinctly village-like and local feel and we are thrilled to be opening here. We look forward to becoming a part of Bishop’s Stortford’s community, and we’re confident our friendly customer service and our great-tasting and excellent-value menu will be welcomed by local residents and those from neighbouring towns.” The other part of the unit will be occupied by Bill’s cafe, although Marshgate developer David Warburton said its fit-out might not be completed by Christmas.

Wetherspoon confirms commitment to Chester hotel: JD Wetherspoon has confirmed its commitment to converting a Chester city centre site even though the building has been boarded up for more than a year. The company took possession of The Bull and Stirrup in Upper Northgate Street, Chester, last autumn with the promise of a £2.3m investment to create one of its pubs with bedrooms. However, the hotel has remained boarded up since it closed last August. Spokesman Eddie Gershon said there was ‘no real reason for the delay’ other than the company ‘has numerous sites which it is developing/set to develop and they go into a schedule’. He added: “To date, the Chester site has not been given on-site or opening dates. Wetherspoon is as keen as ever to develop the site and will do so.” Planning and listed building consent has already been obtained, allowing a single-storey rear extension and internal alterations to provide ten refurbished hotel bedrooms with en-suite facilities and new WC facilities to upper floors.

Jones Bar Group to host pop-up cheese restaurant at Lab bar: Jones Bar Group, the Leeds-based operation run by brothers Matthew and Ben Jones, is to host a pop-up cheese restaurant at its Lab bar. The company has teamed up with cheese club Homage2Fromage for the venture at its Merrion Centre venue for the next six months. Homage2Fromage launched four years ago and is now in five cities, attracting over 350 people every month. Vickie Rogerson, from Homage2Fromage, said: “Melted molten cheese is something to worship and we’ve always wanted to dedicate a restaurant just to the joys of oozing fromage, so to be able to actually launch a pop-up dedicated to everything we love is very exciting.” Matt Jones added: “This is a totally unique concept.”

Two leisure schemes involving restaurants given go-ahead in Peterborough: Two major mixed-use developments in Peterborough, which are both set to be anchored by cinemas, have been given the go-ahead by planning bosses. Hawksworth Securities has secured permission for its £100m scheme to regenerate North Westgate with an eight-screen cinema complex and a new public square around Westgate church. The development, which is expected to create 1,500 jobs, will also include homes, offices, shops, restaurants and a hotel. Peterborough City Council’s planning committee has also approved Lendlease and Invesco’s £30m revamp of Queensgate shopping centre. The scheme will include series of new shops, a restaurant hub and a multi-screen Odeon cinema.

Matthew Clark commercial director joins Zenith board: Zenith Hygiene Group has hired Ian Smith as a non-executive director. Having started with City Vintagers in 1978, Smith has a 35 year career within the drinks industry. He is currently the commercial director of Matthew Clark, one of the largest drinks distributors in the UK with annual revenues of £900m. Smith, added: “I am delighted to be joining Zenith Hygiene, at such an exciting time for the company. I believe that Zenith has many opportunities for expansion, both in the UK and internationally, and I look forward to utilising my experience to assist the further develop the commercial capabilities of the group.”

Ballymena hotel plans £11m expansion: A luxury Ballymena hotel has unveiled its £11m expansion which will create almost 80 jobs. Galgorm Resort & Spa’s development includes the creation of the ‘thermal spa village’ plus an additional 48 guestrooms and suites bringing the overall room offering to 122. Managing director Paul Smyth said: “This project was undertaken to create a world-class addition to the already outstanding guest facilities here. This latest chapter in the Galgorm story is a testament to the drive and vision of the team not just at Galgorm Resort and Spa, but also to [construction company] Martin and Hamilton and the 100-strong construction team, and our architects Douglas Wallace who all worked together bring the development to life.”

Greene King offers free meals to mark World Smile Day and launch of new chicken items: Greene King’s Fayre & Square brand will be rewarding cheery guests today (2 October) to celebrate the release of its new Chick N’ Mix menu and World Smile Day. The family pub restaurant brand will be giving away free main meals per pub to the first ten people who say ‘Happy Smile Day’ when ordering. Free meals are only available on the Chick N’ Mix menu. World Smile Day was founded in 1999 when Harvey Ball, an artist from Massachusetts decided that on the first Friday of October each year everyone should dedicate the day to smiles and acts of kindness. Fayre & Square want to spread happiness this year with free chicken for cheerful guests. Fayre & Square’s senior brand manager Carol Rhead said: “What better way to celebrate World Smile Day than to make our guests happy with a free main meal from our tasty new menu? We can’t wait to see our guests beaming on 2 October while they tuck into a Chick N’ Mix meal for free.” The new menu offers half or whole chicken or a crisp schnitzel-style chicken breast with one of six sauces from around the globe, including sundried tomato and garlic, beer-can BBQ, or peri-peri hot, which packs a real Portuguese punch. Guests can pick two sides, from seasoned fries to BBQ beans, or ‘dirty’ rice cooked with tomato, celery, peppers, black turtle beans seasoned with smoked paprika and herbs.

Community plans to buy Hawthorn Leisure pub: A community campaign to buy the Black Bull pub in Lowick, a Hawthorn Leisure pub, looks set or success. An offer to purchase the Black Bull has been accepted from Lowick Community Ventures, the company set up to help the village to buy its pub. Hawthorn Leisure put the property up for sale, but campaigners successfully applied for it to be made an Asset of Community Value which means it cannot be sold for any other purpose than as a pub until 2019. Lowick Community Ventures’ offer of £150,000 plus VAT (£180,000 total) was accepted in early September.

London fine-dining Bulrush supper club founders to launch first Bulrush restaurant in Bristol: The founders of London’s fine-dining Bulrush supper club, George Livesy and his partner Katherine Craughwell have acquired their first restaurant, Juniper, in Cotham, Bristol through agent Christie + Co. Set over two floors with a total of 70 covers, Juniper Restaurant has served the Bristol community for 14 years. Previous owner Nick Kleiner was keen to sell in order to focus on his new business venture Sandwich Sandwich. Livesy has spent several years working alongside some of the top chefs in London including the Roux brothers, Michel Roux Jnr and Dan Cox – the executive chef at Fera, Claridges. Craughwell’s previous experience is predominantly front-of-house, most recently working at the White Rabbit in Dalston. She said: “We were both keen to move out of London and were drawn to Bristol because of its vibrant restaurant scene. Our intentions are to retain the character of the site but rename the restaurant Bulrush, serving creative modern British food.”

Scottish multi-site operators acquire award-winning Ullapool gastro-pub off £1.5m asking price: Scottish multi-site operators John Erasmus and Richard Drummond have bought the award-winning Seaforth Inn in Ullapool off an asking price of £1.5m through agent Christie + Co. The pub, located in a prime position overlooking the harbour, has been owned by Harry and Brigitte MacRae and Campbell and Annette McKay for the past 20 years. During this time they have won Best Pub of the Year, Best Seafood Bar of the Year and BBC Best Takeaway. John Erasmus said: “We are delighted to take over The Seaforth Inn. The business has a wonderful reputation as a meeting place for eating, drinking and entertainment. This acquisition will give us a significant presence in The Highlands. It has great synergy with another of our businesses, McKays in Pitlochry, and will allow us to develop both into first class tourist destinations.” Ken Sims, director at Christie + Co’s Edinburgh office, said: “We are delighted to have successfully sold The Seaforth inn. There were a number of operators interested in this asset and we received multiple offers, highlighting the demand for quality, well-managed businesses throughout Scotland.”

Staycity hires Barry Hickey as development director: Dublin-based Staycity, one of Europe’s leading aparthotel operators, has announced the appointment of Barry Hickey as development director. A chartered accountant by profession, Hickey joins Staycity with a strong property background having spent 13 years with Irish developer Ballymore, most recently as finance director UK and Ireland. “Staycity is a growing brand in an expanding sector,” said Hickey. “I’m delighted to be joining the company as we embark on a strong expansion programme over the next 12 months. We are actively seeking sites both in the UK and in key cities across Europe.” Hickey brings a combination of experience to Staycity including that of strategy development, financing and property acquisition. He has also held financial director roles in several large companies over recent years. Staycity is currently in a period of rapid growth. Later this year, the company will open aparthotels in Lyon and Birmingham Newhall Square with further openings in Marseille, London Covent Garden and York due for 2016 as well as a significant expansion of its Heathrow property, which first opened in 2012. Barry Hickey replaces chief commercial officer Anthony Carragher who is leaving Staycity after two years to pursue his own interests.

A vegan and vegetarian restaurant offering yoga to open in Cardiff: A vegan and vegetarian food and yoga studio will open in the city centre of Cardiff later this month. Inspired by Cardiff’s rising street food scene, Atma, will open at the old Positano Italian restaurant site near St John Church. A spokesman said : “It’s not just a cafe it’s much more than that, that’s why we’ve decided to call it just ‘Atma’. We want to bring vegan and vegetarian street food from around the world to Cardiff. This venue came up right in the centre of town so we took advantage of the location and decided to launch Atma there. We wanted to get a balance between eating and yoga and to promote conscious and peaceful living.”

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 Pub And 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 adam.dickinson@proplinfo.com

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