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Tue 1st Dec 2015 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Burger King becomes first UK fast food company to be awarded alcohol licence: Burger King has become the UK’s first fast food restaurant company to be awarded an alcohol licence. The company’s Bury St Edmunds branch in Suffolk will be the first to serve alcohol but there are stringent conditions in place over fears that children would be put at risk. It has been granted a licence to sell alcohol from 10am-11pm, but will only be allowed to serve one beer per adult up to 9pm. In addition, patrons will not be allowed to take drinks outside over fears from police of increased crime and disorder. Burger King has also applied for alcohol licences for its restaurants in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Blackpool and Hull, but these are still under consideration. The Bury St Edmunds decision sets a precedent in the UK fast food industry, and potentially opens up the market for other big names to follow. Prior to the UK licensing decision, Burger King already sold alcohol in some parts of the US, Singapore, Venezuela and Spain in its high-end Whopper Bars, launched in 2009 as a more playful template that can compete with fast-casual and casual dining restaurants.

The Sky and Propel Christmas Advent Calendar competition:

Win 12-months’ free Sky subscription for a licensed venue as Sky and Propel launch Christmas Advent Calendar competition: The Sky and Propel Christmas Advent Calendar competition kicks off today (Tuesday, 1 December) with a 12-month free Sky subscription for a licensed venue up for grabs. To be in with a chance of winning, answer the following question: How many Barclays Premier League games will Sky Sports show live this season? a) 16 b) 116 c) 1,116. Once you have chosen your answer, you can enter by clicking here. We will announce the winner in tomorrow’s newsletter along with providing the next question and the prize on offer. Sky has partnered with Propel to give away a fabulous prize each working day until 22 December. Prizes up for grabs also include tickets to Barclays Premier League football, rugby league, the 2016 British Grand Prix and an NFL match at Wembley plus M&S Christmas hampers worth £100 and 46-inch HD Smart televisions. Good luck!

Industry News:

Pub and restaurant reservations for Christmas dinner up 45%, new research reveals: The number of pub and restaurant reservations for Christmas dinner is up 45% on last year, new research has revealed. The huge rise according to data from online reservation OpenTable is down to people being increasingly put off cooking at home by the pressure to do everything just right. The cost of fancy puddings from supermarkets means it is not necessarily cheaper for people to produce a lavish spread in their own kitchen, it said. According to the OpenTable figures, the majority of those eating out on Christmas Day will be choosing something considerably less traditional. Only a quarter are likely to go for a roast with the expected trimmings – with the rest split between alternatives including Indian or south Asian for 15%, and some 11% for Italian and the same for French.

Curry houses closing at rate of two a week because of chef shortage: Curry houses are closing at the rate of two a week because of a shortage of tandoori chefs, according to experts. Restaurant owners said there was no lack of demand from customers, but that they could simply not find enough chefs to go round. They added second generation British migrants were turning their backs on a career in the kitchen, while immigration rules were keeping new recruits out and called on the government to allow two-year working visas so experienced chefs can fly in from abroad, reports The Telegraph. Recent changes in migration rules had worsened the situation they argued. Britain has put a cap on skilled migrants arriving from outside the EU and chefs coming in must be paid at least £29,570 a year – £5,000 more than the average salary in the industry. These skilled workers cannot also work in a restaurant that also does takeaway food. Earlier this year, industry experts expressed fears that up to one third of the 12,000 curry restaurants and takeaways in Britain may close. The industry, which employs more than 100,000 people, is in jeopardy – and previous government-led ideas to train British, Czech and Polish people as curry chefs had not worked, according to Bangladesh Caterers Association president Pasha Khandaker. It can take up to five years to train as a curry chef. The Home Office said it wants to “nurture more homegrown talent and recruit resident workers to meet staffing needs”. Earlier this year a submission to government from restaurant owners warned that 90% of curry restaurants in the £4bn industry are now “under the threat of a chef skills shortage”.

Businesses in York vote ‘yes’ to BID: Businesses in York have voted “yes” to a Business Improvement District (BID) for the city centre after a year of consultation. 76% of businesses, by number, were in favour, and 80% of businesses by rateable value agreed. The BID will be business-led, but has the backing of City of York Council and York’s destination management organisation Make it York. This means that a not-for-profit BID company will be formed, and a £4m fund will be created from the proceeds of the BID levy to spend on projects over the next five years. There will be a 1% levy on the rateable value of each business premise in the city centre. York BID chairman Adam Sinclair told The Business Desk: “I am delighted so many businesses and professions have voted to back our proposal. This gives the York BID a clear mandate to make improvements to York city centre over the next five years. We will now respond to our members and focus on street cleaning, rubbish collection, safety, the public realm, car parking, Christmas lights, street events and the evening economy. York city centre is ambitious but needs to inspire and satisfy its marketplace and thereby attract fresh investment.” The team will now begin setting up the York BID, recruiting a director and preparing to start delivering services from next April.

Up to half of Britons admit skipping breakfast – twice as many as three years ago, new survey shows: Up to half of Britons admit to regularly skipping breakfast – twice as many as just three years ago, according to new research. Two in five of the 2,000 adults surveyed by oat producer Flahavan’s said they did not bother to make time for breakfast, compared with one in five in 2012. The research showed the worst offenders were in the north east and Northern Ireland, where only about half had breakfast each day, whereas in the east of England and Scotland, 70% found the time to eat every morning. Flahavan’s nutritionist Lucy Jones insisted eating first thing is good for your health. She told the Daily Mail: “Breakfast really is an important part of the day, and missing out on a nutritious start to the day can affect your health and your mood. A balanced breakfast helps to fuel you through the morning, meaning you feel fuller for longer and are less likely to snack on unhealthy foods throughout the day.” Research by the BBC Food Guide magazine earlier this year found 18-to-24-year olds were most likely to skip breakfast with 42% of the 5,000 surveyed admitting they missed it every day.

Chain restaurants in New York City forced to label highly salty dishes with special symbol from today:
Chain restaurants in New York City will be forced to label highly salty dishes with a special symbol from today (Tuesday, 1 December). The first-of-its-kind rule will require a salt-shaker emblem on some sandwiches, salads and other menu items that top the recommended daily limit of 2,300 milligrams – about a teaspoon – of sodium, reports Associated Press. It’s the latest in a series of novel nutritional moves by New York and comes as health advocates, federal regulators and some in the food industry are trying to get Americans to cut down on salt. Experts say most Americans consume too much of it, raising their risks of high blood pressure and heart problems, with the average American consuming about 3,400mg of salt per day. Dishes that will feature the emblem will include TGI Friday’s New York cheddar and bacon burger, which has 4,280mg of salt and a Chili’s boneless Buffalo chicken salad that has 3,460mg. Restaurateurs argue healthy-eating initiatives shouldn’t single out any one ingredient and that the city shouldn’t create its own salt-warning scheme when federal regulators are working on new, national sodium guidelines. The regulation will apply to an estimated 10% of menu items at the New York City outlets of chains with at least 15 outlets nationwide, according to the Health Department. While eateries are expected to comply as of today, the city won’t start collecting fines until 1 March.

UK drinks businesses suffer from colder temperatures in 2015: UK drinks businesses have suffered from colder temperatures in 2015, according to the latest Wilson Drinks Report (WDR). The mean UK temperatures for 2015 were at least 1°c colder than the equivalent month in 2014 for nine out of ten months in 2015 (January to October 2015), it said after looking at official Met Office data. Changes in the weather have a significant impact on the UK drinks industry, with warm, sunny conditions usually being the most beneficial in driving sales of beers, wines and spirits. WDR managing director Tim Wilson said: “As global leaders congregate in Paris to debate global climate change at COP21, it is interesting to look at what actually happens a bit nearer home. Most drinks businesses include comments about the weather when either explaining upturns or declines in their performance. Our own research confirms that many key drinking occasions are directly impacted by the weather, so we like to keep an eye on the Met Office monthly data to see how changes in sunshine and mean temperature correlate to changes in drinks sales.”

Food and Drink Federation criticises MPs support for sugar tax:
The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) has criticised the Health Select Committee’s support for the so-called sugar tax. Speaking in response to the Health Select Committee’s report on childhood obesity, published yesterday (Monday, 30 November), FDF director general Ian Wright CBE, said: “It’s disappointing that the committee has missed its chance to add a robustly independent voice to the obesity debate. The committee has swallowed whole the agenda of the pressure group Action on Sugar. Their report also simply endorses and reproduces at great length the recommendations already made by Public Health England (PHE). This despite the fact that, as the report itself noted, the committee did not subject PHE’s report to any scrutiny or questioning. The fact that the report calls on manufacturers voluntarily to label ‘added sugars’ in products, in the form of a teaspoon graphic, when to do so would be illegal, is characteristic of a worrying lack of understanding. The inquiry held only three evidence sessions, all within the space of one week. At best, only six of the eleven committee members actually attended those sessions. No dietitians or behavioural change experts were heard. The committee came into the inquiry with a clear agenda and they have chosen to hear only the evidence that supported their preconceptions. No one seems to have considered hard-pressed consumers in all this. Consumers already pay billions in VAT on food and drink. As a result of the arbitrary new tax recommended by the committee, which, if introduced, would inevitably be increased year-on-year and extended to other foods, would leave consumers paying significantly more, every week, for the products they love.”

MPs call for end of business rates levied on pubs: Members of the All Party Parliamentary Group Save the Pub have called for the reform of the business rates paid by pubs. The parliamentary motion, EDM 759, tabled by Save the Pub chair Greg Mulholland MP said the high business rates were an “unfair and onerous burden” and called on the government to “look at further ways directly to support British pubs through the tax system considering their importance to local communities as well as the local and national economy”. Mulholland said: “It is simply unfair that pubs, which are important for the local and national economy, as well hugely important in their local communities, currently pay such high business rates, six times more than is justifiable on the actual turnover figures. There needs to be real reform of the business rates system for pubs including looking at retail relief but also looking at pub-specific business rate relief to recognise the value of pubs to their communities. It is easy for ministers to say nice things about the importance of pubs but it is time this was acknowledged in the tax system, starting with fairer business rates.”

ALMR launches tenth annual benchmarking survey: The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) is launching the tenth edition of the annual ALMR Christie + Co Benchmarking Report survey and is calling on licensed hospitality businesses of all trading styles to contribute. The annual report, produced in partnership with specialist property adviser Christie + Co, provides a complete overview of operating costs for pubs, bars, nightclubs and restaurants and is used extensively by the ALMR in its lobbying efforts. Past benchmarking reports have been used to effectively influence policy on issues such as service charge, National Living Wage, business rates reform, PPL proposals and changes to gaming machine stakes and prizes. It is recognised by government and the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors as providing accurate information on rental valuations for commercial and industry leases. ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “Our annual benchmarking report is one of our most useful tools for operators in benchmarking their own performance and also in day to day rent reviews and business valuations. But more importantly, it is widely respected within Whitehall and has underpinned our engagement with policy makers. This year in particular it has been critical in our negotiations with the Valuation Office, delivering a fairer deal on business rates. The benchmarking report remains the most authoritative and extensive of its kind due to the widespread participation of ALMR members and non-members alike. It is the largest survey of its type and is unique in drawing information from individual site P&Ls and we are delighted to be partnering with Christie + Co to provided added value commentary and insight.” A copy of this year’s survey can be downloaded here.

Register for tomorrow’s menu pricing webinar: Mike Lukianoff, chief analytics officer at Fishbowl, presented on menu pricing at the most recent Propel Multi Club Conference. Propel has arranged a complimentary live webinar hosted by Lukianoff, where he will go into more detail about menu pricing and the science behind it with an opportunity to ask questions. The webinar will be held tomorrow (Wednesday, 2 December) at 2.30pm GMT. Simply register to attend using the link here.

Company News:

Turtle Bay reports turnover up 250% to £26m: Caribbean restaurant chain Turtle Bay, which is backed by Piper Private Equity, has reported a surge in turnover and pre-tax profit in its latest financial results after opening a series of new sites across the UK. During the year, it added nine sites to its estate – in Bath, Leamington Spa, Birmingham, Manchester, Crawley, Preston, Ealing, Guildford and Walthamstow – taking the total number of restaurants to 14 as of the year ending 1 March 2015. Since the year-end, it has opened restaurants in Cheltenham, Derby, Huddersfield, Liverpool, York and Brixton. Turtle Bay also plans further sites including Exeter, Sheffield and Leeds and has secured additional funding from Santander to support its plans for 2016 and beyond. In the company’s latest accounts, turnover rose to £25,962,936 from £9,906,728 in the previous year. Pre-tax profits also grew to £4,495,750, compared with £1,945,228 the year before. The pre-tax profit figure is after one-off costs of £1,458,053 relating to the pre-opening period and launch of the nine new sites as well as partial pre-opening costs for other sites in the pipeline. Operating profit was £4,644,861 compared to £2,063,701 the year before. As a result of the new openings, the number of employees rose to 598 during the period from 207. In their report accompanying the results the directors said: “The performance of both new and existing sites continues to exceed expectation, with a consistent approach to managing margins and efficient cost control. The successful expansion into some of these locations is encouraging and opens the door to other towns and so the opportunity for growth remains high. During 2015 we have continued our focus on development of people both internally and through recruitment. This includes adding to the senior management team.” Turtle Bay was founded in 2010 by Ajith Jayawickrema, who previously launched the Las Iguanas chain.

Three Michelin-starred chef Eneko Atxa to launch first UK restaurant at London hotel: Three Michelin-starred chef Eneko Atxa is set to launch his first UK restaurant at a London hotel. Eneko At One Aldwych, an informal Basque restaurant and bar, is being opened next summer at the One Aldwych Hotel London. The restaurant at the Covent Garden hotel will feature Atxa’s inventive interpretation of traditional Basque country cuisine, inspired by his restaurant Azurmendi but delivered in a relaxed and friendly fashion. He said: “We aim to create an unpretentious modern take on rustic Basque cuisine, based on quality ingredients, simplicity and culinary heritage. One Aldwych Hotel is the perfect partner for this joint creation.” The restaurant is the brainchild of Atxa and One Aldwych’s general manager Kostas Sfaltos who said: “Eneko has incredible vision and passion for Basque cuisine and shares the same standards of quality, quest for innovation and respect for traditions as we do.” Eneko’s Azurmendi restaurant is currently ranked number 19 in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants and his Bistró Prêt À Porter has a Michelin Bib Gourmand. One Aldwych Hotel, a member of Leading Hotels of the World, opened in 1998.

TGI Friday’s opens £3.5m global flagship site in Leicester Square: TGI Friday’s has opened its £3.5m global flagship restaurant in London’s Leicester Square – its largest to date and most expensive in terms of rent. The company has launched the 10,000 square foot venue below Capital Radio on the former Yates’s site. The new restaurant is described by the chain as the “Friday’s jewel in London’s crown”, and the 70th to open in the UK, providing 260 internal and 60 external covers, as well as 150 jobs. Landlord Criterion Capital was seeking rent of £2m a year for the 25-year lease. The Leicester Square restaurant boasts a £3.5m refit, and features an open kitchen, allowing guests to see their burgers, ribs and steaks cooked before their eyes. Cocktails come courtesy of a large four-sided standalone bar, which is the focal point of the restaurant. In addition to the Leicester Square opening, the brand is continuing to grow the Friday’s footprint in the UK with eight restaurants set to open in 2016.

Simon French issues Greene King ‘Buy’ note ahead of results: Cenkos Securities leisure analyst Simon French has issued a buy note on Greene King shares ahead of half-year results tomorrow (Wednesday, 3 December). He said: “Consensus is for £98.5m profit before tax as the period includes a part contribution from the recently acquired Spirit Pub Company. We expect more focus on comfort with synergies and an update on the likely brand profile of the enlarged group moving forward. Current trading is likely to be relatively muted, in line with recent industry updates but we remain positive ahead of the key Christmas trading period. The stock is inexpensive trading on a CY 2016E adjusted EV/Ebitdarof 8.8x and yielding 3.9%.”

St Austell Brewery’s annual Celtic Beer Festival attracts over 3,000 attendees: St Austell Brewery’s annual Celtic Beer Festival attracted over 3,000 people at the weekend. The event, now in its 17th year, saw people pack the wine cellars and vaults of the Cornwall brewery. Revellers were able to sample a wide selection of beers, ales, stouts and lagers from the four bars alongside 20 new and limited edition ales brewed by the St Austell team just for the festival. The festival is the biggest fund-raising event of the year for the St Austell Brewery Charitable Trust, which has raised well over £500,000 for charities and good causes in the south west in recent years. St Austell Brewery’s marketing and communications director Jeremy Mitchell said: “This year’s festival was a huge success with an amazing turnout, we are hoping to top last year’s record amount raised for the St Austell Brewery Charitable Trust to support local charities, which is what the event is all about. We had people queuing from 9am and the whole event was at capacity within a few hours of opening.” The 2016 Celtic Beer Festival will take place on 26 November.

BrewDog adds takeaway BottleDog bars to Leicester and Liverpool sites: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has added BottleDog takeaway bars to its sites in Leicester and Liverpool. The company has opened the BottleDog in Leicester with 250 bottles and cans available to take away. The site also includes an upstairs area, which has been converted into a dedicated music and comedy venue. Meanwhile, the Liverpool BottleDog opens on Thursday (3 December), which has 300 beers available to take away. Both BottleDogs will also stock homebrew kits. The company stated: “We love our network of BrewDog bars – but we also get that sometimes, the party just needs to continue somewhere else. That’s why we have a solution for those moments – and others similar like when you need a #trainbeer or three, or are hosting a barbecue, or simply fancy something special to drink in your underground sensory tasting chamber. That solution? BottleDog. And we are adding two new BottleDogs to our existing bars. And like with our other bar-based BottleDog in DogHouse Merchant City, you don’t have to go anywhere if you don’t want to – everything on the shelves can be opened and enjoyed in the bar for a small corkage fee.”

Robinsons reveals success of estate’s Wi-Fi scheme: Robinsons Brewery’s Wi-Fi scheme, in partnership with EvolveODM, AB InBev and Diageo, has received over 850,000 connections within the first 12 months. The Wi-Fi, which is offered to all pubs within Robinsons’ estate, has so far been taken up by 82 pubs with the vision to roll-out to every site within the brewery’s 300 strong estate. David Bremner, director of marketing for Robinsons Brewery, said: “Whilst there are several other Wi-Fi solutions out there, what is fantastic about Evolve is that we get to customise every step of the user experience from log-in pages to advertising a promotion or event specific to the pub. Our pubs also get the details of our customers – including gender, age and time spent at the pub – to further improve their offers.” With over 65,000 unique Robinsons Wi-Fi users clocking over 2,030,777 hours online – equivalent to 231 years’ worth of browsing – it’s clear that having internet connectivity is no longer a luxury but a need to most pub customers, the company said. Recent research shows 61% of people search for a Wi-Fi hotspot when out eating and drinking whilst 27% said they would visit a venue more often if they could connect to a hotspot. Bremner added: “We are safeguarding our pubs for the future and ensuring that the next generation of drinkers, who see internet connectivity as a ‘make or break’ facility, have no excuse but to choose our pubs.” The breakdown of users also shows it’s not just “Generation Y” that are taking advantage of the access to the internet, in fact, the most popular users are in the 46-to-60-year-old demographic with 18-35 only slightly behind. The Wi-Fi scheme is also helping drive beer sales with pubs selling, on average, an additional two barrels of beer each when compared to pubs that do not offer free Wi-Fi to their customers; leading to an additional 41,600 pints of beer being quaffed across the 80 sites per year. With an average of 2.42 hours spent online with each connection, customers are staying in the pub longer and are ordering more at the bar.

Oakman Inns launches Oakmanology career development pathway: Oakman Inns and Restaurants, which is led by Peter Borg-Neal and operates 13 sites, is rolling out its new online training and development career pathway platform for its some 500 employees, known as Oakmanology. Jill Scatchard, head of human resources at Oakman Inns, who has been the driving force behind Oakmanology, said: “The best way to describe Oakmanology is as our new ‘Online Craft Academy’. The Oakman Inns’ ethos to ‘Be the best you can be’, is embraced by everyone from team members to our chief executive. We have approached all the training and development levels with the first question an employee will want to know: ‘What do I need to learn to be brilliant at my job?’ We have taken a fresh approach to career development by focusing on the personal strengths, skills and talents of each individual whether it’s mixology, butchery, being a wine connoisseur or leadership. The progress of each individual can also be tracked in real time and is linked to our ‘Passport to Success’ incremental pay programme which is based on achievement.” Inspired by chief executive and founder Borg-Neal, the software for Oakmanology has been designed from scratch by CPL Online to mirror the company’s existing HR programme and to support all the Oakman employees in progressing along their chosen career pathways. “We could have bought our online training platform off the shelf, but what was available didn’t reflect our company’s ethos which, as well as investing in traditional management development, has always been focused on getting high level craft and technical skills back into the industry,” said Borg-Neal. “It’s a natural human desire to want to learn new things, to develop new skills and to become more capable of succeeding in life. I sincerely hope that Oakmanology will give everybody at Oakman Inns the opportunity to do just that. Not everyone wants to go through the management route so it’s important to us that we bring out the very best in every employee by encouraging and helping them to build on their interests and to develop their skills.” The online Oakmanology training programme has been designed to reflect the ethos and personality of the company in both aesthetics and language. After a compulsory “induction” stage, each individual follows one of the six core craft-based “Foundation” modules leading to an “Intermediate” stage including tailored coaching and master classes; followed by an “Expert” level where they can qualify to train others and become an “Oakmanology Craft Champion”.

M Restaurant Group to launch M Victoria Street on Saturday: M Restaurant Group, led by Martin Williams, will open its second site M Victoria Street on Saturday (5 December). M Victoria Street will include the first high end restaurant to open in Victoria. The new restaurant is split into two areas. The first is a theatrical oval-shaped, triple-tiered M Grill dining room, specialising in steaks from around the world, including the highest grade of Kobe and Wagyu beef available anywhere in London. At its centre will be an aging room where diners can choose their cuts of steak. The second side will house M Raw, offering lighter, delicate dishes including sashimi, grains and bento boxes based on an “eat clean” philosophy. Williams said: “I’m delighted to be in a position to open our new restaurant six months ahead of schedule. I’m really proud of the new additions to the menu where ingredients will be the hero – and excited to be one of the very first luxury restaurants to open in Victoria as it becomes the next London hotspot for work, food, drink and play.”

PizzaExpress opening at Intu Potteries shopping centre today: PizzaExpress will open a new restaurant at the Intu Potteries shopping centre in Hanley, Stoke, today (Tuesday, 1 December). The company is launching the site in the complex’s new £20million leisure development. Intu regional director Martin Breeden told the Stoke Sentinel: “We have an 850,000 catchment without a PizzaExpress, so it’s sure to trade fantastically. We know that our customers are crying out for great restaurants for the whole family.” PizzaExpress will be joined at the new leisure development by a nine-screen Cineworld cinema and six other restaurants, including The Restaurant Group brand Chiquito, which opens on Friday.

New £1.5m undercover family entertainment centre Matel Play! set to open in Liverpool: A new £1.5m undercover family entertainment centre is set to open in Liverpool in the spring. Matel Play! Liverpool is the first branded attraction of its kind in Europe and will feature Thomas & Friends, Bob the Builder and Fireman Sam. The new interactive 13,000 square foot facility will be installed in the Grand Hall at the Albert Dock and will be operated by Heritage Great Britain. Albert Dock chairman Sue Grindrod said: “The investment made by Heritage Great Britain in Mattel Play! Liverpool is considerable. This attraction adds an exciting new dimension to the diverse and family-friendly offer at Albert Dock, which is the north west’s most visited tourist attraction. We are confident that this addition will bring a positive impact on the wider waterfront.” Julie Freeland, senior director, global live events and attractions, Mattel, added: “Our brands are known and loved by children around the world and the architectural splendour of Albert Dock provides the perfect backdrop for launching our first Mattel Play! This is a relatively new concept for us. We know this is going to be extremely successful and then we will plan to roll the centres out hopefully across the world.”

Fortnum & Mason reports record sales and profits driven by new website: Fortnum & Mason has reported record sales and profits for its last financial year – driven by its new website. The food and drink retailer, founded by William Fortnum and Hugh Mason, said it achieved sales of £88m in the 12 months to July 2015, with profits rising to £5m. It said its new website, launched during the period, helped online sales rise 22% while like-for-like sales enjoyed a 13% increase, reports Sky News. Fortnum & Mason, which first opened its flagship store in London’s Piccadilly in 1707, has expanded since opening its second UK store at London’s St Pancras station in 2013 – with retail space in Heathrow’s Terminal 5 and in Dubai. Its latest restaurant venture 45 Jermyn St, was “trading ahead of budget”, the company said. The company said it was looking ahead to a “record” Christmas. Chairman Kate Hobhouse said: “We are delighted with these figures, which are the reward for the programme of enhancements we have brought to the brand during the year. The past few years have seen us expand as a store, and I am particularly pleased that we have managed to do this without compromising the essence of Fortnum & Mason, and our focus on quality of service and authenticity of our products. I am confident that the upward trajectory of our business will continue.”
 
Liverpool entrepreneurs set to start expanding portfolio by opening new Scandinavian cafe-bar, music and arts space concept in city: Liverpool entrepreneurs Richard McGinnis and Lewis Boardman are set to start expanding their portfolio by opening a new Scandinavian cafe-bar, music and arts space concept in the city. McGinnis and Boardman, who are behind alehouse and eatery The Shipping Forecast in Slater Street, are launching The Merchant in the former Mello Mello building in the same road. The Merchant will have a street level Scandinavian-feel cafe-bar, a multi-use event space upstairs and extensive garden to the rear, which will be presenting the UK’s best street food vendors all year round. Lewis told The Business Desk: “We look forward to adding to Liverpool’s vibrant bar and food scene with the addition of The Merchant.” Liverpool BID Company chief executive Bill Addy added: “The Merchant is another great example of an independent business gravitating to this area of the city centre and enhancing the quality of the night-time economy.” McGinnis and Boardman launched The Shipping Forecast about six years ago.

Propel and Thinking Drinkers launch second Craft Beer Retail Study Tour:
Propel is launching its second Craft Beer Retail Study Tour on Thursday, 28 January in London, this time focusing on south London. The tour, led by Thinking Drinkers, award-winning beer writers Ben McFarland and Tom Sandham, will visit seven of London’s leading craft beer retailers in an eight-hour tour. McFarland and Sandham will provide the latest craft beer facts and figures, market segmentation analysis, and spot up-and-coming trends. Site visits will include Q&A sessions with London’s leading retailers, looking at award-winning sites, a hybrid bottle shop and bar, beer-centric retail, mobile canning, beer sourcing, direct sourcing, menus, brewing on-site and a host of other issues. The day includes lunch and breakfast and travel between venues by coach. Tickets are £345 for Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) members and £395 for non-ALMR members. Email adam.dickinson@propelinfo.com to book or to obtain further details.

Final panel line-up confirmed for Propel and Elliotts Advanced Marketing Masterclass: The final panel line-up for the inaugural Advanced Marketing Masterclass has been confirmed. Elliotts strategy and development director James Hacon will leads a discussion with newly appointed Thai Leisure Group marketing director Iain White-Duncan, ETM Group group marketing manager Zoe Knowles and Greene King partnership director Russell Danks about where they see success, their plans for the future and other topics discussed throughout the day. Propel is partnering leading sector public relations and marketing firm Elliotts for the event, which takes place on Thursday, 14 January at One Moorgate Place in London. The day will provide an insight into all aspects of marketing including contributions from Novus Leisure and Brazilian barbecue restaurant Cabana about some of the marketing initiatives they have used to improve results for their business. It will also include the best ways to recognise and tell a brand’s story to maximise its PR or social media potential and how to develop and deliver effective digital initiatives. There will also be the latest insight into consumers’ behaviour to help companies develop marketing strategies around their customers as well as how to brief and work with an agency effectively. Tickets are priced at £295 for Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) members and £345 for non-ALMR members and are available by emailing Adam Dickinson on adam.dickinson@propelinfo.com

ALMR National Restaurant Association Study Tour to Chicago opens for bookings:
The Propel and Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) 2016 Chicago Study Tour is now open for bookings. The trip, sponsored by CPL Training and Sky, takes place between Thursday, 19 May and Monday, 23 May 2016. The National Restaurant Association (NRA) draws 58,000-plus industry professionals from all 50 states and 100 countries, seeking the newest innovations and up-to-the-minute information about trends and issues. The ALMR trip provides: insights from industry experts on the rise in fast-casual dining, social media, new and emerging brands, menu development, staff management and a host of other issues – with 70 free education sessions at the NRA show. It also involves two tours of Chicago’s hottest concepts and a market overview briefing sessions from US experts. Paul Charity, managing director of Propel Info, said: “The NRA show combined with our tour of Chicago is a fantastic opportunity to find fresh inspiration and understand the emerging trends shaping the fast-changing US market.” To get more information or to book, email jo.charity@propelinfo.com

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