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Fri 30th Oct 2015 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

CGA – food and a quest for ‘experiences’ have become key elements of a big night out: Food has become a bigger part of a big night out, not least because restaurants have become better at keeping customers longer, CGA chief executive Phil Tate told the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers and Propel Bar and Nightclub Conference. The late-night universe has seen a 26% increase in the number of restaurant bars since 2010 – and a 13% drop in the number of circuit bars. Tate reported just 5% of customers never visit a restaurant on a night out. “Over 25s are starting their night in a restaurant and restaurants are getting better at keeping customers longer with live music and great cocktails as we see with Turtle Bay, for example,” he said. “It is ‘experience’ that is driving the mission and (customers) are looking for something different.” Tate reported a survey found 39% of late-night customers had been to a street food event, 38% to a music festival, 28% to a ticketed indoor large event, 22% had attended an “underground” event and 16% had visited an organised rooftop party. Tate reported, though, that late-night consumers, of whom 72% are aged between 18 and 34, spend 33% more than the UK average on a going out occasion. He said: “The days of heading aimlessly into town and going where the night takes you have gone. It is all about pre-planning and, typically, where to eat, and where to end the night are pre-defined and the cornerstone of the night. Also the circuit mentality of (visiting) seven bars and then the nightclub has been replaced by three venues maximum. For those 34% of late-night customers under the age of 24 there are differences. They typically leave the house after 10pm, not 7pm, go into the final destination later, and typically leave at 3am to 4am.” Tate forecast an even more fragmented late-night market will develop to meet consumers’ multiple and variable needs. He added: “We need to myth-bust. 43% of consumers in the 18-34 age bracket think a nightclub won’t meet their needs on a night out. They are basing this on old and out-dated perceptions of sticky floors and warm drinks. We need to educate them about the outstanding venues and experiences the modern late-night sector has to offer. Engage them early via social media midweek to make sure venues are on their route plan, then engage them in the venue with a compelling offer of high quality drinks and adaptive ranges. We are not blind to the business implications of this advice and the challenges on cost for both supply and staff. We need innovations in how can we deliver cocktails in a time efficient way that doesn’t erode margin and frustrate the customer in a busy venue? This is coming through with things like frozen cocktails or also barrel-aged drinks. 95% of consumers would try something new in venues, meaning partnership with brand owners are key.”

Industry News:

London Union opens fourth site, Hawker House, as it seeks to raise £3.5m on Seedrs, company valued at £35m: London Union, parent company of the highly successful Street Feast, has launched one of the biggest crowdfunding bids in history, looking to raise £3.5m to build a world-class permanent street food market in central London. The company is offering 10% of its equity, valuing the business at £35m. London Union opened its fourth site last night (Thursday, 29 October), Hawker House in Rotherhithe, offering more that 20,000 square foot of space, eight bars and 14 traders. It has a 18-month lease to occupy the site. Co-founder Henry Dimbleby told Propel the company is expecting 5,000 visitors a week but would not be surprised to see visitor numbers top its Dinerama site, which sees 12,000 visitors a week. London Union makes money by charging pitch fees, which are kept comparatively low to support its traders, bar revenue, charging a £3 entry fee after 7pm, sponsorship and private parties and events. Its food traders can earn between £8,000 and £10,000 per weekend and Dimbleby reports a number are making several hundred thousand pounds of profit a year. London Union’s street food markets were visited by more than 300,000 people over five months this spring and summer, generating £3.5million of revenue and £1.5million of market Ebitda (excluding overheads and costs). As many as 1.5 million people are expected to visit London Union markets in 2016. The company is looking for a 40,000 square foot site in central London to create the biggest market so far alongside 12 local markets. Dimbebly told Propel the current fund-raise would allow the company to move more quickly when the right site becomes available. He forecasts London Union will be working with about 100 traders by 2020 operating about 200 pitches at its various sites. “There are some amazing new people around,” he said. The model is also evolving so markets operate throughout the year. Jonathan Downey, co-founder of London Union, said: “We founded London Union to transform London’s food landscape, turning underused and derelict corners of the city into vibrant street food markets. In Lewisham, for example, we transformed Model Market – an abandoned 1950s market – into one of south east London’s most popular weekend destinations, with about 4,000 visitors each week.”

Starbucks reports Quarter Four global like-for-likes up 8%: Starbucks has reported that its global like-for-like sales rose 8% on a like-for-like basis in its Fourth Quarter to 27 September, driven by a 4% increase in traffic. Like-for-like sales in Europe, the Middle East and Asia were up by 5%, driven by a 3% increase in traffic. Consolidated net revenues were up by 18% on the Fourth Quarter of 2014 to $4.9 billion. Starbucks opened 1,677 net new stores in fiscal year 2015, ending the year with 23,043 stores in 68 countries. “Starbucks record Quarter Four financial results, highlighted by stunning like-for-like store sales increases of 8% globally, 9% in the US driven by a 4% increase in global traffic, demonstrate the strength and relevance of the Starbucks brand around the world,” said Howard Schultz, Starbucks chairman and chief executive. “Our results underscore the success of the investments we continue to make in our people and business, in new beverage and food innovation and in groundbreaking technology innovation that is deepening our connection to customers everywhere.”

Aaron Mellor – the government has reallocated its tobacco re-education cash to alcohol: Aaron Mellor, founder of bar and nightclub company Tokyo industries, has argued the government has targeted spare resource on an anti-alcohol push after finding UK citizens responded to the smoking in a surprisingly compliant way. Mellor told the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers and Propel Bar and Nightclub Conference: “The UK has grown up with alcohol as a release mechanism for decades. I don’t think anyone thought that would change as it has. Many of us, including the government, expected the smoking ban to be met with mass non-compliance, policing was upped, we all upped security and to, I think, everyone’s surprise, the country just accepted it with no real protest. As the government had allocated millions to tobacco re-education programmes it had a spare ‘health’ pot, which seems to have been refocused entirely on anti-alcohol campaigns.”

Cider makers call for duty cut: The National Association of Cider Makers (NACM), which is chaired by Thatchers managing director Martin Thatcher, has sought support for a cut in cider duty at a parliamentary reception. The NACM briefed attendees, including Liz Truss, the secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs, on the role played by cider manufacturers in the rural economy. The UK cider industry is thought to represent 48% of the global market, with 18,000 acres of orchard across Britain and about 265,000 million tonnes of apples produced each year. It also provides jobs for more than 7,000 people in the UK and injects £1bn over the life of its contract into the rural economy. A spokesman said: “Sales have continued to fall in the last year, a decline that started when the duty escalator was first introduced – naturally this is of grave concern to us as the UK cider industry is vital to the rural economy and the people who work in it. This event provided a platform to not only celebrate our cider makers but to put out a call in their name to secure support for a cut in duty which will enable investment, stimulate sales growth and ultimately protect this heritage product for generations to come.”

AB InBev hires bankers to explore sale of US assets: Anheuser-Busch InBev has hired bankers to explore a sale of US assets, in a move seen as crucial to winning regulatory approval for a proposed £68bn merger with SABMiller, the FT has reported. Lead adviser Lazard and Barclays have been appointed to sell SABMiller’s 58% stake in a joint venture with Molson Coors, which could fetch as much as $10bn, according to people briefed on the matter. The hiring comes as AB InBev and SAB agreed to extend Wednesday’s deadline to complete the terms of the deal, a move expected to be granted by the UK Takeover Panel, people familiar with the situation said. The extension highlights the complex nature of the deal and the amount of work and people involved, including 21 banks working on AB InBev’s financing. The sale of the US assets is considered fundamental to getting the merger past antitrust regulators in the US, according to analysts.

Stevie Thomas closes ping pong concept after attack on bouncers:
Stevie Thomas, the son of nightclub veteran and Luminar founder Stephen Thomas, has closed ping pong concept The Game on Earl’s Court after an attack on bouncers by customers who refused to end a late-night game of ping pong. One security worker was said to have suffered a slashed ear, five missing teeth, a black eye and a fractured toe following the brawl at the retro games bar. Kensington and Chelsea Council suspended the club’s licence at the start of the month. It was ruling on whether to make the closure permanent at a meeting this week — but Thomas said they have already closed permanently. He told the London Evening Standard: “We are absolutely gutted that we have had to close through no fault of our own. It was a family business and we have had around 30 staff who have now lost their jobs. It is so disappointing, we did make submissions to the council but there had also been complaints from some neighbours who wanted us out and this incident was the last straw.”

BrewDog breaks through £3m barrier on Crowdcube: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has broken through the £3m barrier on crowdfunding platform Crowcube. Yesterday (Thursday, 29 October), the company had 771 investors pledging £2,217,000 towards its 6.5% interest yielding four-year mini-bond. A further 1,050 people have pledged £789,070 in terms of an equity investment. The offer has two days left to run having been extended by 14 days earlier this month.

New foodservice brands boost Heathrow’s catering income by 17.2%:
London Heathrow Airport has reported a 17.2% rise in food and beverage income for the nine months ended 30 September thanks to a raft of new openings. Catering income rose to £34m, compared to £29m for the same period the year before. The sharp rise in revenue was driven mainly by enhancements in T5 and the strong offering in T2, which includes The Perfectionists’ Café, created by Heston Blumenthal, and YO! Sushi. Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said: “Expansion at Heathrow fills the gap in the UK’s long-term economic plan, by connecting all of Britain to global growth. Today’s strong set of results demonstrates that we’re moving closer to our goal of giving passengers the best airport service in the world and that we’re well-placed to make the private investment to fund expansion. Let’s make it happen.”

Consultation on Pub Code implementation welcomed by ALMR: The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) has welcomed the opportunity offered by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills’ (BIS) consultation on the statutory Pubs Code “to get the details right and ensure the code’s timely implementation, thereby providing stability and certainty for those working in and investing in the sector”. ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “This has been a polarising debate and the ALMR has continually emphasised a pragmatic and moderate approach. We have been working closely with BIS over the summer to ensure a workable solution for businesses and to secure investment across the sector, from both landlords and other sources, to secure funding for lessee investment and will continue to make the case in these consultations. Following this we hope that government will set out the details of the code implementation in a timely fashion to provide the sector with some degree of certainty going forward, particularly for those going ahead with rent reviews.” British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “I do welcome that the government appears not to be proceeding with parallel rent assessments, which we always argued strongly would be too costly and complex to operate. We also welcome proposals to allow for an MRO waiver in return for a significant capital investment. Over £200m is invested by BBPA members in their leased and tenanted pub estates, each year. It is essential that this investment continues.”

Company News:

Loungers to open first Suffolk site: Bristol-based cafe bar group Loungers is to open a new site in Bury St Edmunds – its first in Suffolk. The company is investing £600,000 in transforming the former Officers Club unit at the top of St John’s Street, which is planned to open on Wednesday, 16 December. The site, which will be over two floors, will create 25 jobs and be called Edmundo Lounge. It will be “a retro home from home, where dramatic art work will sit next to oversized vintage sofas and statement light fittings,” the company said. Loungers operations manager Craig Williams told the Ipswich Star: “Bury St Edmunds is the perfect location for our Lounge concept. There’s already a thriving and vibrant community and we’re really looking forward to playing our part in the foodie scene here.” Ourburystedmunds Business Improvement District group chief executive Mark Cordell added: “I’m really pleased that a long-term vacant unit in such a prominent position will now have a vibrant new business that’s chosen to open it’s first restaurant in Suffolk in Bury St Edmunds.”

Byron set to make Scottish debut: Better burger brand Byron is set to make its debut in Scotland. The company has signed up to open a restaurant at the Union Square shopping centre in Aberdeen, which is owned by property developer Hammerson. The 3,751 square foot unit is located on the first floor of the centre next to Handmade Burger Co and it will join other restaurant brands including Thaikhun, Giraffe, Cosmo and PizzaExpress. The restaurant’s design will feature pink neon signage, vintage furniture and sleek leather seating, providing customers with a light, bright and modern dining environment. Byron’s founder Tom Byng said: “We couldn’t be happier to be bringing proper hamburgers to Scotland. Over the years we’ve had more and more customers ask when we’ll be opening here, so it’s a real pleasure to finally be able to give them the answer they’re looking for. We can’t wait to welcome the people of Aberdeen to our first Scottish home in Union Square.” Head of restaurants and leisure at Hammerson Sarah Fox added: “We are delighted that Union Square will be welcoming Scotland’s first Byron. The brand is a fantastic addition to the centre’s diverse line-up of restaurants and is testament to the popularity of the centre’s dining offer within the local community.”

Le Pain Quotidien offers 25p coffee to mark 25th birthday:
Le Pain Quotidien is to offer customers 100% organic, Peruvian coffee next Friday (6 November) at all its London sites for 25p to mark its 25th birthday.

Greene King to host first pie festival in November with pie developed by Tom Kerridge:
Greene King will host its first pie festival throughout the month of November at more than 130 of its pubs across the UK. From 1 to 30 November, customers can sample a wide range of specially created pies at their local pub. One highlight, at selected pubs, will be the British beef & ale pie, created by the team at the two Michelin-starred Hand & Flowers pub in Marlow, owned by chef Tom Kerridge. This pie features a polenta and hot water pastry crust, with caramelised British beef shin, slowly cooked in IPA gravy. Further options to try, available across the board, are a Norfolk black chicken and woodland mushroom pie, a pulled lamb shank shepherds pie and a smoked haddock pie. Anthony Hemmerdinger, managing director of Greene King’s Local Pubs division, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for some wonderful pies to take centre stage at our pubs in November. We are excited about all the pies we have on offer through the festival, but anticipate particular interest in our new British beef and ale pie which definitely has that Tom Kerridge magic.”

Restaurateur Des McDonald set to open new bar and restaurant at York hotel: Restaurateur Des McDonald is set to open a new restaurant and bar in York. McDonald, who is former head chef at the Ivy Restaurant, has conceived and developed the Chapter House bar and Refectory Kitchen & Terrace. It will form the cornerstone of the renovation scheme being carried out at The Royal York hotel by Starwood Capital following its acquisition of the site. “We set out with a very clear vision for the Refectory, to create a warm, distinctive restaurant at the heart of York,” McDonald told Business Insider. “The space is inviting and relaxed for eating and drinking as we wanted our guests to be as comfortable coming in for a coffee on their way to work in the morning as they are celebrating a birthday in the evening. Over the months our team has collaborated with the world-class suppliers that Yorkshire has to offer, meaning we’ve coupled the fabulous produce of York with our own unique approach. This is a perfected combination and we’re proud to bring the Refectory experience to York’s thriving dining scene.” The hotel renovation include refurbishment of all 159 bedrooms and suites, the hotel lobby and the creation of a Garden Room looking out to York Minster, due for completion by December, creating up to 90 jobs.

Bristol-based Scarlett Pub Company opens second site in city:
Bristol-based Scarlett Pub Company has opened its second site in the city. The company, owned by Alex Major, has launched Nettle and Rye after refurbishing the former Hophouse in the suburb of Clifton Village. The bar area has been moved to the back wall, an open kitchen has been created, while a new fine dining restaurant upstairs will open next month. Major told the Bristol Post: “I think it’s a great site. The thought process was that if we were going to take on another pub it would need to be Clifton. I then wanted a free house and the Hophouse site is the biggest so that had to be it. Beer fans will be able to choose from what we’re confident will be the widest array of beers in the village, but maybe most exciting for us will be taking the local suppliers we’ve built relationships with and creating an innovative fine dining menu for the restaurant upstairs.” Scarlett Pub Company also runs the Famous Royal Navy Volunteer in King Street, which opened in July 2013.

New Lebanese bar and lounge concept to be opened in Hampstead on Wednesday by Lebanese entrepreneur: A new Lebanese bar and lounge concept will open in Hampstead, north London, on Wednesday (4 November). Sacha Kardar, who previously owned the Sofitel Hotel in Beirut and top food halls in Lebanon, is reopening the White Horse in South End Green. It will serve hot and cold mezzes, grilled seafood and meats, cold cooked stews, assorted salads and a selection of desserts. Drinks will range from wines and spirits to craft beers and coffees. Kardar said: “We are opening a Lebanese gastro-pub with a lounge bar feeling. We have done everything to change the mood to a trendy modern style. We shall be having lounge music, good wines, champagne and cocktails.”

New French restaurant to launch at former Strada site in Barnes: A new French restaurant Edith Artois is to launch at the former Strada site in Barnes, whose freehold is owned by Wellington Pub Company. The contemporary French restaurant is opening in the three-storey building, having agreed a new 20-year lease. The property, previously occupied by Strada, is located at the intersection between Barnes High Street and Lonsdale Road, close to Barnes Bridge station and with prominent frontage to the River Thames. Nick Lyell, associate director in leisure and trading at Savills, which acted on behalf of Wellington, said: “Benefiting from a strong corner location in the affluent location of Barnes makes this an excellent site for this new restaurant to open and we are pleased to have secured this new tenant for our client.”

Sector investor Downing backs digital wholesaler: Sector investor Downing has backed a new digital wholesaler Starstock. The company is the brainchild of former Molson Coors employee Sam Ulph, who is looking to update the current labour intensive business model. He said: “Our aim is to build a portal specifically for the industry to connect buyers and sellers, therefore widening the trading opportunities and delivering growth. We aim to become the global go-to marketplace for trading drinks online.” Recently appointed chief technology officer Greg Barnett said: “I’ve been involved in launching the marketplace model in similar industries and seen it boom – this is no different. Sellers and buyers need each other, 24/7, and we can provide that service.”

Greene King appoints Zone agency for new digital strategy: Greene King has appointed Zone agency for a new digital strategy and build brief. The company has asked Zone to improve its website design and navigation and enhance its mobile responsiveness as well as create a more joined-up user experience. The brief also asks for a content management system refresh to support user journeys for the multiple audiences. Greene King communications director Greg Sage said: “We want to develop a seamless, enhanced online experience which meets the needs of our customers, people interested in working with us, our investors, suppliers and the media. Zone’s experience acting as a strategic partner to other large, consumer-facing companies means they are the ideal agency to help us achieve our goal.” Zone won the account after a four-way competitive pitch.

JW Lees catering director Christina Lees-Jones step down: Christina Lees-Jones, JW Lees catering director, has decided to step down from day-to-day operations at JW Lees to become a non-executive director of the JW Lees family business from the 1 December 2015. Managing director William Lee-Jones said: “Christina joined JW Lees in 1993 and, over the past 22 years, has led the creation of a significant catering business within JW Lees, predominantly in managed houses of which we are justifiably proud. Christina will now be using her extensive catering skills to work in the charitable sector, teaching people to cook proper nutritious meals. We look forward to working with Christina in her new role where her vast experience will help to challenge and support the JW Lees team with the future operation of the business, including the education and development of the seventh generation of the founder’s family as they start to join the business over the next few years.”

Revolution Bars signs exclusive deal to stock Mahou: Revolution Bars Group will be the first UK national bar company to serve exclusively the super-premium Spanish beer Mahou. Mahou will be available across both the Revolution and in Revolucion De Cuba estates and be available in both schooner (475ml) and pint (568ml) sized servings. Revolution will list this exclusive premium draft beer under a new two year contract. Mahou will be launched with comprehensive team training and a customer interaction programme including sampling in every venue and masterclasses with Mahou’s master ham carver Jose Sol. Mahou will replace Estrella in Revolution’s extensive beer offer and refreshes the premium draft range available by bringing a new, exciting and exclusive Spanish beer to customers. Mark McQuater, chief executive of Revolution Bars Group, said: “This is another demonstration of how Revolution Bars is leading invention in the premium drinks range in the UK drinks out market. We are absolutely delighted to introduce this very high quality new product into our business. It is a genuinely innovative move that extends and brings a further new and high-quality product into our bars for our customers to enjoy.”

Hybrid pub and off-licence Ten Green Bottles opens in Newcastle-under-Lyme: A hybrid pub and off-licence, Ten Green Bottles, has opened in Merrial Street, Newcastle-under-Lyme. It will stock a wide variety of bottled beers for people to take away, as well as offering seating where they can relax and enjoy a beer. Manager Richard Hancock said: “We’re hoping to be a little different. There is going to be a retail side to the store and we will have over a hundred bottles of beer, cider and ale for people to pick and choose from. During the day, we’ll also have coffee so people can come in, grab a few bottles and grab a drink. Because we’ve got an on and off premises licence, there will also be a bar with ten draughts. We’ve got a good amount of room for people to sit down and enjoy a drink. We’re going to have three sections, British, American and Continental beers, as well as ciders. We’ve got quite a few Belgian beers, including Trappist beers, as well as from the Netherlands, Germany and elsewhere. As well as bottles, we’re going to have a good variety of cans, which are becoming more of a feature in the craft scene.”

Franchise business opens two Starbucks sites in Bristol, plans to roll-out more across south west: Family-owned Ethical Franchise Guild has opened two new Starbucks branches in Bristol with plans to roll-out more across the south west of England. The company has opened the sites in Wine Street and Clifton Down after buying the franchises. The Ethical Franchise Guild is operated by Stuart Montgomery who opened his first franchise, an Irish pub, in Thailand in 1995. He established the company in 2014 to open and operate Starbucks throughout the south west, with Gloucestershire his target for further expansion. He told South West Business: “A franchise, like any other business, takes time to grow and I’ve found it pays to move steadily in the early years until you know the ins and outs of the brand you have taken on. After a couple years, you are able to develop faster due to a deeper understanding of the business and its customer.” Montgomery secured a six-figure funding package from Clydesdale Bank to launch the Bristol sites with more money available for further expansion.

Debenhams to launch Chi Kitchen in London next month: Chi Kitchen, a new pan-Asian restaurant, will launch on the ground floor of Debenhams’ flagship Oxford Street store on Saturday, 7 November. The dining concept and brand are exclusive to Debenhams, with a further site now open in Debenhams Birmingham. Debenhams has enlisted restaurateur Eddie Lim, owner of Mango Tree restaurant in Belgravia to develop the concept. Chi Kitchen will serve a diverse all-day dining menu influenced by Thai, Chinese, Malaysian, Japanese, Vietnamese and Korean cuisine, guiding guests on a culinary journey through south east Asia. Lim said: “We are absolutely delighted to be collaborating with Debenhams on this exciting new project, Chi Kitchen. Our aim is to build a brand exclusively to Debenhams, which is going to offer not only good pan-Asian food but also good energy to Debenhams loyal and new customers. The food will be exotic, colourful and incredibly tasty.” Debenhams UK director of space planning Mark Jordan added: “We are delighted to be broadening our food offer and partnering with a fantastic, unique brand such as Chi Kitchen to offer our customers an exceptional, new dining experience. We are very proud to be working with Chi Kitchen exclusively on this new concept and look forward to introducing it to our customers in the coming months.”

Simon French issues ‘Buy’ note on Just Eat: Cenkos Securities leisure analyst Simon French has begun coverage of Just Eat with a ‘Buy’ note and a 425p share price target. He said: “We have initiated overage of Just Eat with a note entitled ‘The leading dine online experience’. Just Eat is the leading global operator for online and mobile takeaway food delivery. Backed by a strong brand, experienced management and leading technology, the business is seeing rapid growth in order numbers and revenue driven by an increasing shift towards mobile ordering. With strong cash generation we believe the business has very attractive prospects and begin coverage with a ‘Buy’ recommendation.”

Rotherham brownfield site set to house six foodservice brands: A brownfield site in the Eastwood district of Rotherham, South Yorkshire, is set for a £2.5m redevelopment to house six foodservice brands. Wilton Developments acquired the vacant 104,544 square foot Mushroom Roundabout site, which was formerly home to a car dealership, in 2012. Now it will be home to a two-storey Mitchell & Butlers Toby Carvery, a drive-thru KFC and Costa outlet. KFC franchisee QFM has acquired the remaining land and is set to deliver three further food and drink outlets. Wilton Developments managing director Jason Stowe said: “The site lies just over a mile from the town centre and fronts a busy roundabout so we knew it had strong investment potential. We worked closely with the purchasers to secure planning permission for a change of use in order to redevelop the site, bringing it back into beneficial use and creating almost 100 new employment opportunities.”

Sales pass £40m at fish and chip shop wholesaler: Annual sales have passed the £40m mark at an east of England-headquartered fish and chip wholesaler in the year before it expanded with the opening of its sixth UK depot. Friar’s Pride is a family-owned business that supplies to fish and chip shops, fast food outlets and bakers across the Midlands, South Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, the east, the south, the south west and the south east of England. It employs about 140 staff and has depots in Peterborough (head office), Basildon, Norwich, Nottingham, Poole and Plymouth. According to its latest financial accounts, Friar’s Pride reported pre-tax profits of £1.96m for the year ended 28 February 2015, up from £1.57m a year earlier. This was on the back of turnover increasing by almost £5m – from £35.8m to £40.6m. Aside from fish and chips, the group also supplies bakery products, cooking oils, drinks, equipment, canned goods and condiments.

Planning permission granted for Marco Pierre White restaurant in chef’s home city of Leeds: Planning permission has been granted for a new Marco Pierre White restaurant in the chef’s home city of Leeds. Town Centre Securities (TCS) has been given approval by Leeds City Council for the development of a 134-room Ibis Styles Hotel – that will house the 4,000 square foot restaurant – at the heart of the Arena Quarter. TCS is transforming the former Merrion Hotel in Wade Lane to create the new Ibis Styles Hotel for AccorHotels. In addition, Marco’s New York Italian, a 90-cover restaurant will open on the hotel’s ground floor in December 2016, as part of a franchise agreement with Pierre White’s Black and White Hospitality business. Black and White Hospitality chief executive Nick Taplin said: “We are looking forward to starting work on this project, particularly because of the significance it holds for Marco with his debut site in Leeds. The Arena Quarter offered the perfect location for us in the heart of the city. Located next to the first direct arena, which has rapidly established itself as one of the most in-demand venues in the world, the Arena Quarter is Leeds’ most exciting leisure destination.” The hotel and restaurant will both be managed by Interstate on behalf of TCS, which will retain the ownership of both properties.

Brasserie Blanc launches Christmas cards to raise cash for Shelter: Brasserie Blanc, the 18-strong restaurant group led by Mark Derry and chef Raymond Blanc, will launch limited edition Christmas cards to raise money for housing and homelessness charity Shelter. Available from Monday (2 November), with all profits going to Shelter, each brasserie will receive approximately 100 packs of six cards, with a festive message from Blanc, retailing at £5. Photography of the cards was taken by Jill Mead, who also shot several seasonal food photography collections for Brasserie Blanc during its current rebranding programme. Derry said: “The work that Shelter does and the issues it deals with really hits home at this time of year. We hope to raise over £7,000 from the sales of our Christmas cards. Jill’s images are stunning so turning them into something our guests can enjoy and share, whilst raising money for a great cause, seemed the logical step.”

Speaker programme for Propel Multi Club Conference:
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. 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.

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