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Fri 4th Dec 2015 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

JD Wetherspoon reports data breach to customers: JD Wetherspoon has reported a data breach to its customers. In a letter to customers, chief executive John Hutson said: “We received information on the afternoon of the 1st December that some customer data may have been stolen by a third party (often referred to as ‘hacking’). An urgent investigation by cyber security specialists was instigated. At 5.45pm on the 2nd December the security specialists informed us that the customer database related to our old website was breached (or hacked) between 15th and 17th June 2015. This website has since been replaced in its entirety. Our current website is managed by a new digital partner. The new partner has no connection to the website that was the subject of the breach of security. In respect of the majority of customers, the database contained the following customer information: the name of the customer, the date of birth, the email address and the phone number. For a tiny number of customers (100), who purchased Wetherspoon vouchers online before August 2014, very limited credit/debit card information was stolen. Only the last four digits of the cards were obtained, since the remaining digits were not stored in the database. Other information, such as the customer name and the expiry date were not compromised. As a result, these credit/debit card details cannot, on their own, be used for fraudulent purposes. The credit or debit card details cannot be used on their own for fraudulent purposes, because the first 12 digits and the security number on the reverse of the card were not stored on the database. The database did not hold any passwords. We cannot confirm whether any of your personal data was included in this breach. However, I wanted to make you aware immediately and apologise on behalf of the company. We have taken all necessary measures to make our website secure again following this attack. A forensic investigation into the breach is continuing.”

The Sky and Propel Christmas Advent Calendar competition:

Win a 46-inch HD Smart television in Sky and Propel Christmas Advent Calendar competition: A 46-inch HD Smart television is up for grabs (see terms and conditions here) on day four of the Sky and Propel Christmas Advent Calendar competition. To be in with a chance of winning, answer the following question: How many golf majors will be shown live on Sky Sports in 2016? a) zero b) one c) all four. Once you have chosen your answer, you can enter by clicking here. We will announce the winner in Monday’s newsletter along with providing the next question and the prize on offer. Congratulations to Alex Derrick, from the Lion and Lobster in Brighton, who was yesterday’s winner of two tickets to the 2016 British Grand Prix. Sky has partnered with Propel to give away a fabulous prize each working day until 22 December. Prizes still up for grabs include a free 12 months’ Sky subscription for a licensed venue, tickets to Barclays Premier League football matches, a rugby league match, a NFL match at Wembley as well as more tickets to the 2016 British Grand Prix. There are also M&S Christmas hampers worth £100 and further 46-inch HD Smart televisions to be won. Good luck!

Industry News:

Fair Deal campaign nominated for second major award: The Fair Deal for Your Local campaign to protect local pubs has been shortlisted for the Public Affairs Awards 2015, its second major awards nomination in recent weeks. The news comes just a month after the campaign, co-ordinated by Greg Mulholland MP, received a “Highly Commended” in the PR Week Awards public affairs category, held on 20 October. The winner of this latest award will be announced on Thursday (10 December) at a ceremony at the Park Plaza Riverbank. The Fair Deal campaign has been shortlisted for the Voluntary Sector Campaign of the Year category. The campaign comprised ten organisations – the Federation of Small Businesses, Forum of Private Business, GMB, Unite, Fair Pint Campaign, Campaign for Real Ale, Licensees Support Licensees, Justice for Licensees, Guild of Master Victuallers, and the Pubs Advisory Service. Mulholland said: “It is a great honour for us to be shortlisted in the Public Affairs Awards 2015. The Fair Deal For Your Local campaign was kept going by everyone who volunteered their time and effort to stand up for hardworking pubs and publicans, and it’s a proud achievement for us to have such an important law passed. This is the second major award we have been nominated for, now let’s hope we can go all the way and win it!”

US trade body reports record number of US brewers: The Brewers Association (BA) has reported there are 4,144 breweries operating in the US, surpassing the previous record of 4,131, which dates back to 1873. 15 states have more than 100 breweries each, and new breweries are opening across the country at a rate of more than two per day. Research conducted by the BA shows that a product being “locally made” is an important factor for more than 5 % of craft consumers. Additionally, most craft drinkers said they value knowing whether a brewery is “small and independent” and that it influences their product choices. The majority of Americans live within ten miles of a local brewery, and there are also almost 2,000 planned breweries, the BA reported. The number of breweries in the country has already increased by 19.6% compared to 2014 (4,144 versus 3,464). Last year, US craft breweries produced 22.2 million barrels, an 18% increase over 2013. That accounted for $19.6bn in sales, and represented 19.3% of overall beer market share in the US. Craft also accounted for 11% of all beer produced in the country – the first time the segment earned a double-digit volume share. The BA also noted the Indian pale ale continues to be the dominating style among independent craft breweries, and is growing at a faster rate than the craft industry itself.

BrewDog’s Nordic crowdfunding adds €18,000 in ten days: BrewDog’s stand-alone crowdfunding campaign for Nordic countries, aiming to raise €1.5m through FundedByMe, has attracted €18,000 in the last ten days, bringing the total pledged by 57 investors to €49,640 – there are 59 days left to invest. The company stated: “We love the fact that we have such a loyal following in northern Europe, and FundedByMe has an awesome track record for crowdfunding. It’s going to be an amazing partnership, and the platform will truly help us put the craft beer fans of the Nordic countries in control, and give them a chance to become fully involved with BrewDog’s future.”

PizzaExpress’ application for first delivery site to be determined by planning inspector: PizzaExpress’ application to open its first stand-alone delivery site, trading under the name PizzaExpress Delivered, will be determined by a planning inspector after councillors failed to make a decision in time. The company first unveiled plans for the new concept in Hill Road, Cambridge, in April. But the city council has still not made a decision on the plans – giving PizzaExpress the chance to appeal to the government the application is decided by a planning inspector instead, on grounds of non-determination. Now the application, which has attracted opposition among council officers and residents as well a 200-strong petition supporting the scheme, will be decided by a planning inspector in the new year, reports the Cambridge News. In its appeal, PizzaExpress said the council will not be able to determine the application before the end of the year, having originally aimed to make a decision in June. The council also failed to reach an extended determination date in October. It added this determination date “is not compatible with the option agreement signed by the appellant in relation to the acquisition of the lease of the site”. Negotiations with the city council over the application have seen the restaurant’s proposed open hours cut from 24 hours to 11am-11pm.

Amazon extends restaurant delivery service in US to Baltimore: Amazon has extended its restaurant delivery service in the US to Baltimore, Maryland. The company is offering customers of its Prime fast-delivery service in ten Baltimore zip codes the chance to order food from 52 restaurants in the city for free. Amazon said customers can browse restaurant menus, place orders and track delivery statuses and expect their food in an hour or less. Baltimore is the fourth city to receive Amazon’s restaurant delivery service after Seattle, where the initiative was launched on 8 September, Portland, and Los Angeles. Amazon is able to launch quickly in Baltimore by tapping the Prime Now delivery network it built in the city earlier this year, said Gus Lopez, general manager of Amazon Restaurants.

European Commission to probe McDonald’s tax affairs: The European Commission has confirmed it has opened a formal investigation into Luxembourg’s suspected “sweetheart” tax deals with McDonald’s. The Luxembourg tax affairs of Europe’s largest fast food chain have already been subject to considerable scrutiny, attracting a French tax office investigation in 2013 and a critical report this year from a coalition of union groups. Officials in Brussels have been reviewing the report and gathering further preliminary evidence since March.

Company News:

Tesco Family Dining reports £14.7m loss: Tesco Family Dining, which now operates 292 restaurants and cafes after taking operational control of 266 sites operated by third parties in September and November 2014, has reported a loss of £14,796,168 in the 53 weeks to 1 March 2015 (2014: (£1,607,261). Turnover rose to £28,748,964, boosted by a few months of trading from a massively enlarged portfolio of sites, compared to £940,221 the year before. Former Mitchells & Butlers chief executive Adam Fowle joined the board in February 2015. In accounts filed at Companies House, it was stated: “ The company will continue to invest in order to improve the offer to the customer and create a profitable business for future years. The company was established in May 2013 and operated 292 restaurants and cafes at the end of the 53 weeks ended 1 March 2015. This represented a growth of 289 sites compared to the start of the year, with 266 cafes being acquired in September and November 2014 from previous operators. The number of restaurants and cafes being operated is expected to remain fairly consistent throughout the next financial period although some sites are expected to convert between brands.” Staff numbers rose to 1,311 from 78 the year before. The company recognised an impairment charge of £10,186,077.

MOD Pizza names John Nelson as UK chief executive: MOD Pizza, the rapidly expanding pioneer of fast casual pizza, has named John Nelson as chief executive of its UK operations. Nelson joins from Nando’s UK to lead MOD in bringing the company’s made on demand pizza and people-first culture to the UK. Nelson will be charged with overseeing the growth and development of MOD Pizza’s first international market. He will work closely with MOD Pizza joint venture partner Sir Charles Dunstone and his long-standing business partner, Roger Taylor, ahead of MOD Pizza’s first UK restaurant opening in 2016. “We are thrilled to be welcoming John to the MOD Pizza family. His track record of developing culture-lead companies will be of tremendous value to MOD Pizza as we build a strong infrastructure ahead of entering the UK market,” said Scott Svenson, co-founder and chief executive of MOD Pizza. “John’s rich UK experience and respect for the MOD Pizza mission to create opportunities for growth and giving back, provides us with a true ambassador to lead us to success in the United Kingdom. We look forward to working closely with him to bringing MOD Pizza and the MOD Squad culture to The UK in the coming year.” Nelson has over 20 years of experience developing successful restaurant and retail concepts across the United Kingdom, joins MOD from Nando’s where he was the operations director and accountable for over 350 restaurants. At Nando’s, he oversaw operations, strategy execution, team development and new restaurant openings, centered around Nando’s core values of pride, passion, courage, integrity and family to drive the team’s success and loyal consumer following in the UK. Prior to Nando’s, Nelson held several leadership positions for one of Europe’s largest consumer electronics retailers, Dixons Stores Group (formerly Curry’s), including central operations director, divisional director and customer operations manager. “I am really excited to be joining such a high growth brand and look forward to working closely with the MOD Pizza team to shape and drive our entrance into the UK market,” said Nelson. “When I started with Nando’s, I was really attracted to the opportunity to be part of and grow a restaurant concept that put emphasis on its people, both the team internally and broader community. The chance to introduce MOD Pizza internationally reminds me of that culture and growth potential, and I see tremendous runway for the brand in the UK market. I’m eager to open the doors of our first location next year to show UK pizza fans what the buzz surrounding this great brand is all about.” Nelson will join MOD Pizza beginning 5 January.

Chapman Group more than doubles pre-tax profit: Pub, restaurant and hotel company Chapman Group, led by Chris Chapman, has reported pre-tax profit more than doubled to £1.1m in the year ending 31 March 2015. The company saw turnover also increase to £9,465,579, compared to 8,403,547 the previous year, according to accounts filed with Companies House. The company stated: “Income has increased due to the continuing efforts of the company and an improvement in the economy. Drink income has increased 7% and accommodation income has seen a large increase of 21%. This can be attributed to continued advertising of the accommodation, an increase in the number of rooms and the ability to react better on pricing and occupancy levels through the use of cloud based property management software. Overall operating profit has increased to £1,581,143 from £1,271,622 due to a relative decrease in the proportion of administrative expenses compared to total turnover. The gross profit percentage has increased slightly to 76% (2014: 75%). This increase is attributable to a relative decrease in the ratio of wet purchases to total turnover as the company has seen improvements in the outlets stock control. Profit before tax has increased to £1,106,767 from £537,038 in 2014. Once again this is attributable to a relative decrease in the proportion of administrative expenses compared to total turnover. In particular the company has seen a marked decrease in repairs and maintenance expenditure. The reduction in loan interest payments in the year has also been key to the increased profit before tax. Return on capital employed has increased to 6.87% from 5.59% in 2014. The company continues to work hard to reduce costs whilst at the same time seeking to improve efficiency throughout the company.”

Thorley Taverns reports pre-tax profit nears £1m: Kent-based pub operator Thorley Taverns has reported pre-tax profit of £924,867 in the year to 30 June 2015, up from £409,911 the year before. Turnover was £11,621,264, a marginal increase from £11,533,463 the year before, according to accounts filed with Companies House. The company stated: “Turnover and gross profit have improved in comparison to the previous year whilst reductions in overheads and a significant profit on disposal of property has resulted in an increase in operating profits from £484,786 to just under £1m. Excluding the profit on capital disposals and last year’s property impairment adjustment, operating profit has increased by 69% following last year’s increase of 58%.”

Desmond brothers to begin Ireland roll-out of Five Guys this weekend: Five Guys’ Irish franchisees Brett, Ross and Dey Desmond will begin the roll-out of Five Guys in Ireland on Sunday (6 December) with the opening of a site in Belfast’s Victoria Square Shopping Centre. The Irish franchise has been purchased by the brothers and the opening of the Belfast restaurant is creating more than 50 jobs. The brothers added they are working on opening a number of outlets in Ireland and outlined the reasons behind launching in Belfast. “We chose this location as it is such an iconic shopping centre in the heart of Belfast city, with a really strong tenant mix,” they said. “We hope that it will be a big hit with shoppers and will give people even more reason to visit Victoria Square. The restaurant unit has been extensively extended, now spanning 2,800 square foot, and we’re incredibly excited for the unveiling pre-Christmas.” The Desmond brothers hope to roll out ten restaurants over the coming two to three years, with Dublin being the next location for a restaurant. The ultimate plan is to have Five Guys located in all the major cities in Ireland and Northern Ireland with Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway and Derry/Londonderry being high up on the agenda.

New Korean barbecue restaurant concept, believed to be the first of its kind in Scotland, to open in Dundee: A new Korean barbecue restaurant is set to open in Dundee in what its owners believe is the first concept of its kind in Scotland. Jason Haxton and Ryan Beattie are launching their first venture Haxton and Beattie in Reform Street, having spent time working and holidaying in South Korea. The pair have both worked in licensed premises and cafe businesses in the city over the past ten years and decided it was time to strike out on their own. The restaurant will have 80 covers and is expected to open in February. The offering at Haxton and Beattie will see the customer’s chosen meat cooked sous vide – in a sealed bag in a water bath – before being cooked to their preference on a barbecue. Food will then be served with rice and vegetables and is being billed as healthy dining with a difference. Beattie told The Courier: “It’s based around meats and steaks but it is also really healthy. Korean people have a very healthy and balanced diet. I think it will be something new for Dundee. There are very few Korean barbecue restaurants of this type around and we think this will be the first of its kind in Scotland.”

New Italian restaurant concept opens in Newton Abbot: A new Italian restaurant concept has opened in Newton Abbot, Devon. Adam Koc has launched Ricca’s in Queen Street after buying two adjoining retail premises and transforming them in a £500,000 refurbishment. The restaurant has 130 covers and created 18 jobs. Diners can enjoy a traditional taste of Italy in contemporary surroundings, and watch pizzas being cooked in a specially imported flame oven in the open kitchen. Koc, whose family run a restaurant in Burnham-on-Sea in Somerset and have 25 years experience in the business, told the Torquay Herald & Express: “The buildings were in a pretty poor state of repair but we could see through this and recognised the space could be converted into a beautiful restaurant. We have retained many of the original features and introduced different material and finishes to give a contemporary but very comfortable feel.”

Delicious Dining Group opens new Spanish restaurant concept in Southampton: Southampton-based hospitality company Delicious Dining Group has opened its new Spanish restaurant concept Tapas Barcelona in the city. The company has launched the £1m restaurant in the Arts Complex in the new Cultural Quarter, which will also be home to six other brands including Gourmet Burger Kitchen and Nando’s. The new 5,000 square foot venue, set over two floors, offers Spanish fare from Iberico ham, croquetas and patatas bravas to paella. The open kitchen, downstairs bar and dining area is on the ground floor while there is a mezzanine lounge bar upstairs. Delicious Dining Group chief executive Steve Hughes told the Hampshire Chronicle: “We wanted to create more than just a tapas bar, we want our diners to have a Spanish dining experience on all levels from the authentic menu to the surroundings.” The company has six sites in Southampton including Banana Wharf and the Grand Cafe.

Manchester-based blues and bourbon bar concept to open second site today: Manchester-based blues and bourbon bar concept Bourbon & Black will open its second site in the city today (Friday, 4 December). The concept, which was launched in Didsbury, is opening on the corner of Mount Street and Central Street on the site of the former Velvet Central bar, reports the Manchester Evening News. The bar-restaurant is set on two floors and a mezzanine level is reached via a spiral staircase. The restaurant in the basement has 70 covers and a service bar, and the ground floor and mezzanine can accommodate about 100 drinkers. The interior design is a reference to the traditional American rick house, where freshly filled barrels of bourbon are stacked up on rows of rough wooden shelving to mature. Above the bar, there are rows of Woodford Reserve whiskey barrels laid out while the copper bar reflects the stills found in distilleries. The space has been completely restyled to fit in with owner James Alexander’s passion for blues music, American bourbon and Deep South cuisine. There is also a live music stage under the mezzanine with performances played over speakers in the restaurant.

Oak Taverns and Punch partner for second pub: Oak Taverns and Punch have partnered to open The Queen Charlotte, Windsor, following a £500,000 investment, creating 20 jobs. The Church Lane pub, formerly The Blarney Stone, is the 22nd pub to be opened by Thame-based, family-owned pub company Oak Taverns. It is the second joint investment between the two operators, the first being The Black Horse in Barnet, which opened two years ago. Punch’s new business development manager Sam Price said: “Oak Taverns has an excellent reputation for superior pubs specialising in cask beer and good quality food. We enjoy working with the team and are confident the Queen Charlotte will be a success.” Oak Taverns’ director Simon Collinson said: “The Queen Charlotte is in a fantastic location in the heart of Windsor. Our focus is on offering customers the key elements of a traditional British pub – from a menu of quality, classic dishes to an extensive range of real ales and craft beers as well as a gin offering which we believe is unrivalled in the area.” The Queen Charlotte features two new stylish private rooms with full audio visual facilities and high speed broadband, ideal for business meetings or private dining, with stunning views of the castle. Oak Taverns is a family-owned multiple pub company, which has operated quality pubs for over 20 years. The business includes a wide variety of operations and different trading formats including three breweries.

Drinks industry expert to launch new cocktail bar concept in Bath today: A new cocktail bar concept is opening in Bath today (Friday, 4 December). Louis Lewis-Smith, who has spent 17 years working in the drinks industry visiting bars all over the world, is launching The Dark House in Kingsmead Square on the site of the Kilted Chef restaurant that closed 18 months ago. He has signed a ten-year lease for the 1,000 square foot site with landlord HPH. The bar will serve beers and ciders from the south west, cocktails created from locally foraged ingredients, and English wines and liqueurs. Lewis-Smith told the Bath Chronicle: “I’ve worked hard to create something that’s relevant here, that offers something unique and interesting. I hope it will be welcoming, comforting and, most importantly, unpretentious.” Tim Brooksbank, of Carter Jonas, which acted for HPH, added: “The Dark Horse is a welcome addition to the Bath bar scene. Finding the right property for our clients is key to what we do and we’re pleased to have been able to assist Louis and his team in finding the perfect premises.”

Loungers to open new site in Swansea on Wednesday: Bristol-based cafe-bar Loungers will open a new site in Swansea on Wednesday (9 December). The company is launching the Zinco Lounge at Unit 4 in Princess Way, creating 25 jobs. It said it has invested £650,000 transforming the new venue into a “retro home from home”, where “dramatic art work will sit next to oversized vintage sofas and statement light fittings, in the eclectic style much loved by Lounge aficionados”. Loungers operations manager Jeremy Burton-Dickie told the South Wales Evening Post: “Swansea 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. Whether you’re looking for the best coffee in town, a business lunch with colleagues or a lazy all-day brunch, Zinco Lounge is the perfect place to relax and unwind.” The opening will be Loungers’ fifth site in Wales with three venues in Cardiff and one in Newport.

Punch launches new online HR toolkit for publicans: Punch has partnered with management consultancy The Compass Partnership to create a new free online HR toolkit for its publicans. The toolkit is maintained and updated by a team of employment law and HR professionals and provides guidance on recruiting, inducting, developing, managing and retaining employees. Situated on Punch’s Buying Club website, it can be quickly and easily printed for reference. It uses practical, tried and tested processes and documents alongside simple, step-by-step how to guidance and flow charts. In addition, publicans can make use of unlimited, all-day legal advice from a team of over 60 qualified lawyers, thanks to a dedicated legal advice line. This provides guidance on employment law and consumer law matters, as well as subjects including health and safety, trading standards, licensing, and taxation. Punch learning and development manager Helen Willis said: “We hope this HR toolkit will make life much easier for our publicans and help them to build a team that delivers a consistently outstanding consumer experience every time. It will ensure procedural consistency and continuity, allowing publicans to develop and retain valuable business talent, while highlighting training and development needs. Publicans can be confident that they are up to speed with the latest legislation and managing their team in the very best way to achieve success.”

JD Wetherspoon chief executive earnings top £1m: JD Wetherspoon chief executive John Hutson earned a total of £1,194,000 in 2015 after the vesting of £602,000 in long-term incentives on top of his basic salary of £486,000 – he earned a total of £741,000 the year before. Chairman and founder Tim Martin earned £355,000, compared to £353,000 the year previously. Personnel and legal secretary Su Cacioppo earned a total of £683,000 after £338,000 of long-tem incentives vested to top up her basic salary of £273,000. Both Hutson and Cacioppo received a 10% pay rise in recognition “of their continued high performance and commitment to the company”.

Stonegate Pub Company opening new ‘premium’ gay bar on former Reflex site in Cardiff today: Stonegate Pub Company is opening a new “premium” gay bar in Cardiff today (Friday, 4 December). The company has spent £250,000 converting its Reflex site in St Mary’s Street into the new bar called Mary’s. Described on its website as “Cardiff’s newest premium gay bar”, it will specialise in premium gins and cocktails. Stonegate head of marketing for venues Alan Armstrong told Wales Online: “We’re thrilled to be launching this premium venue to the people of Cardiff. We hope to bring a sense of luxury to the city with the opening of Mary’s, with a luxe interior and high quality drinks offering and look forward to opening the doors to the public.”

Zenith reports profit boost: Zenith Hygiene Group, the supplier of cleaning and hygiene products to the sector, has reported sales increases 10% to £29m in the year to 31 August. Profit before tax increased by £300,000 to £700,000. Like-for-like sales revenue increased by 3.4%. The first half of financial year 2016 continues to see Ebitda growth exceeding managements expectations. Chief executive Ringo Francis said: “Our ongoing strategy to substantially grow the business profitably has started to deliver outstanding results. I am pleased to report these numbers and a strong pipeline for the second half of the financial year. The group is on track to achieve its second consecutive year of positive earnings per share. We continue to focus our future growth across various sectors and geographies whilst remaining particularly strong in the hotel, restaurant, licensed and catering segments. The strong cash position allows the Group to remain acquisitive as well as achieving our projected organic growth.”

Ambleside leisure entrepreneurs buy Ambleside Lodge: Ambleside leisure entrepreneurs Derek Hook, his brother Raymond and their sister Dorothy, who own Zeffirelli’s cinema, restaurant and jazz bar in Ambleside, have bought the Ambleside Lodge hotel in the Lake District off an asking price of £1.4m through Colliers International, acting on behalf of owner HMD Services. The site has 18 en-suite letting bedrooms in two acres of grounds and gardens. Ambleside Lodge was built in 1875 as an army general’s residence and originally named Rothay Holme after the River Rothay between Grasmere and Lake Windermere. It subsequently became office accommodation for the local council and National Trust before being refurbished to provide luxury bed and breakfast accommodation in 1997. Haydn Spedding, associate director, hotels agency at the Manchester office of Colliers International, said: “The acquisition of Ambleside Lodge represents a significant purchase for the Hook family who are already carrying out significant improvements to the property.”

Spouse of JD Wetherspoon executive director sells shares: Simon Cacioppo, husband of JD Wetherspoon personnel and legal director Su Cacioppo, has sold 30,000 of the company’s ordinary shares at a price of 719.15 pence per share. Following this transaction, the joint holding of the pair is 22,846 shares.

Staycity unveils 834 additional apartments for 2016: Aparthotel operator Staycity is to add 125 apartments to its London Heathrow property in 2016 and open five further sites bringing its total openings scheduled for next year to 843 apartments. The London Heathrow extension, due for completion in March 2016, will give the property 269 apartments as well as a larger lounge area on the ground floor with seating and a coffee outlet. For the first time Staycity will operate a restaurant on the site, offering breakfast and light lunches. “Heathrow is an important location for Staycity with strong corporate bookings from the surrounding business community,” said Staycity chief executive Tom Walsh. “The original Heathrow property, which opened in May 2012, has consistently traded well and there is certainly demand for further rooms from both the corporate and the leisure market. London Heathrow is also the ideal site to trial a food and beverage offer, given the surrounding area and its guest profile.” In addition, next year will see new Staycity properties in Birmingham New Hall Square, where 170 apartments open in January; York, where 190 apartments will open in June; and in Marseille, where 108 units will open in the summer. London Covent Garden with 106 apartments, and Lyon with 144 are also expected to open during 2016. “This year has been a strong trading year for Staycity across our entire estate,” added Walsh. “We are on target for a 22% increase in turnover for 2015, up from €32m in 2014 to €39m in 2015. On the back of this performance we are forging ahead with our European expansion plans, which will take us from 1,000 to 3,500 apartments over the next 24 months. Further sites will come on stream in 2017, with a number of new property deals yet to be announced.” Staycity was founded by Walsh in 2004 with just one apartment in Dublin. With strong bookings for short-let stays, Walsh added further outlets in Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, and London Heathrow. Since its inception, the company has been one of the serviced apartment sector’s fastest growing success stories.

Whitbread gets go-ahead for £5m Premier Inn in Letchworth: Whitbread-owned Premier Inn has been given the go-ahead to build a £5m hotel in Letchworth, Hertfordshire. The company has received permission from North Hertfordshire District Council for the four-storey 57-bedroom hotel and restaurant in Station Road. The Aspidistra Florist and Amron’s School of Sewing buildings will be demolished to make way for the scheme. Premier Inn head of acquisitions in the south John Bates told The Comet: “We are delighted that the district council has decided to give the green light to our Premier Inn. Once complete, the new hotel will deliver £5m in fresh investment and 25 new year-round jobs for the local area. We hope to start work on site in spring 2016 for an early 2017 completion.”

Enterprise invests £2.4m in East Anglia in partnership with multi-site operators: Enterprise Inns has invested £2.4m in key pubs across its East Anglia region in its last financial year (FY15) and early FY16, including one set to reopen in time for Christmas. The Wash & Tope, in the Norfolk seaside town of Hunstanton, opens its doors again on 10 December following a major £340,000 refurbishment. And a £195,000 spend – Enterprise contributing £150,000, and the publicans £45,000 – at The Woodcutters Arms, Leigh-on-Sea, has seen it reopen in time for the busy festive period. The Wash & Tope, a local landmark in Le Strange Terrace, will be run by Tim Joudrey’s Lifeboat Pub Company, whose waterside pubs offer ‘quality food and drinks at competitive prices’. He said: “I want The Wash & Tope to replicate what we’ve done at The Two Lifeboats, at Sheringham, and offer a very accessible, mid-range drinking and dining experience for couples and families. The local authority and people in Hunstanton are delighted with what we’re doing in partnership with Enterprise. They’re really pleased to see this sort of investment, saying it’s just what the town needs.” Woodcutter publicans Stephen Carey and Louise Devlin have four other pubs with Enterprise: another in Leigh-on-Sea, The Broadway; two in London, The Queens Head, Stratford, and Edmonton’s Crown & Anchor; plus The Old Courthouse, in Stanford-le-Hope, Essex. Another pub in the region that reopened recently following joint investment from Enterprise (£120,000) and publican Rod Benson (£20,000) is The Cock Horse, Lavenham. It is run by Rod and Joanna Knight, and manager Sam Morris. Other pubs across Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Essex that have benefitted from Enterprise investment during the past 12 months are the historic Maids Head, King’s Lynn (£190,000); The Black Bull, Godmanchester (£160,000); The Ship Inn, Caister (£140,000); The White Horse, Swavesey (£130,000); The Papillon, Southend (£75,000); The Red Lion, Kirby-le-Soken (£60,000); and The Boundary, Norwich (£50,000).

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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