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Thu 17th Dec 2015 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

YO! Sushi boss Robin Rowland joins board of ALMR, sets up new Casual Dining CEO forum: The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) has underlined its position as the UK’s voice for casual dining businesses with the appointment of YO! Sushi chief executive Robin Rowland to its board and the establishment of a new Casual Dining CEO Forum. The new forum, which Rowland will chair, will meet quarterly and provide much needed representation and profile, particularly with government, for the growing casual dining sector. It will operate under the umbrella of the ALMR, which already successfully represents managed pub and late-night operators, bringing the whole of the eating and drinking out-of-home market together in one organisation. ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The landscape of licensed hospitality has evolved significantly over recent years and casual dining businesses have helped drive a high street renaissance. Sophisticated and inventive eating-out options have provided a real boost to all sorts of licensed hospitality businesses and the ALMR is committed to supporting this vital part of the UK’s economy. We have welcomed a host of casual dining brands into membership this year and will push forward with work on a new Casual Dining CEO Forum, address the concerns of our casual dining members in a more focused and nuanced way. We are very pleased to have Robin on board and we are all looking forward to working with him over the coming years.” Rowlands said: “The ALMR is at the forefront in the campaign to push for a fairer, more flexible deal for licensed hospitality businesses and is the preeminent voice for the casual dining market. The sector is revitalising high streets up and down the UK, but faces a number of stumbling blocks in the form of reactionary legislation and unhelpful planning systems. I am therefore delighted to join the ALMR board and am looking forward to working closely with other ALMR members on the new Casual Dining CEO Forum to address the concerns we have and promote the best of our great industry.” The ALMR has welcomed a number of innovative eating-out operators into membership this year as it continues to consolidate its reputation as the UK’s only voice for licensed hospitality. Food-led businesses now account for a third of overall membership, with one in five being casual dining chains. The ALMR now represents 6,600 restaurants. 

Sky and Propel Christmas Advent Calendar:

Win two tickets to 2016 British Grand Prix in Sky and Propel Christmas Advent Calendar competition: Two tickets to the 2016 British Grand Prix are up for grabs (see terms and conditions here) in today’s Sky and Propel Christmas Advent Calendar competition. To be in with a chance of winning, answer the following question: Which Briton ended the ATP tennis season ranked number two in the world? a) Andy Murray b) Tim Henman c) Greg Rudsedski. 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 still up for grabs include tickets to an NFL match at Wembley and a Barclays Premier League football match. There is also a 46-inch HD Smart television to be won. Good luck!
 

Industry News: 

CBRE – ‘there are widening opportunities in the pub sector’: Agent CBRE has argued there are widening opportunities in the UK pub sector. In its market view quarter four 2015 research, the company said UK monthly all property initial yield was up 5.10%, compared to 4.98% in the previous quarter. London corporate prime and independent yields remained at 4.25% and 5.25% respectively while regional corporate prime and independent yields had also stayed the same – at 5.25% and 10.0% respectively. On tenanted pubs it said: “Punch Taverns, Enterprise Inns and various others have recently suggested that one of the effects of the proposed Market Rent Only legislation, as it currently stands, is the virtual ending of the longer term tied lease. And while phrases such as ‘a return to traditional tied tenancies’ seem to be ushering in a new golden age of pubco and tenant partnership, there could be a bumpy ride to get there.” On managed pubs, it said: “As we come to the end of a busy year in the commercial property market, we have seen some significant transactions in the pub sector. Looking ahead, where will the mergers and acquisitions activity come from during 2016? The scarcity of stock in the market and the consequential lack of activity means it is difficult to call an improvement in values. Operators will be looking more widely to find opportunities for growth. The JD Wetherspoon units, which we have been marketing, have attracted interest from a broad range of corporate buyers. The recent opportunity to invest in Cubbitt House Group attracted wide interest despite the units being held leasehold. As freeholds in London so rarely come on the market, the likes of Fullers and Young’s are seeking leasehold opportunities. The new Young’s unit at Spitalfields is a great example of this. Marston’s continues to successfully develop its new-build pub restaurants. Single unit acquisitions take up significant time and resource though and a larger corporate transaction is preferable. There is no doubt that the managed operators are keen to grow and the means by which they achieve this is challenging.”

Iconic Brixton nightclub wins first round in battle to challenge housing plan: Barrister Philip Kolvin has reported the legal challenge to Lambeth Council’s decision to grant planning consent for a controversial housing development that would lead to the closure of one of Brixton’s best known nightclubs has cleared the first crucial legal hurdle. He said: “The High Court has granted permission on all grounds to challenge the decision of Lambeth Council to grant consent for development which would have resulted in the closure of Club 414 in Coldharbour Lane, Brixton. Jonathan Clay and Matt Lewin, of Cornerstone Barristers, drafted the application, acting for Louise Barron, the manager of the internationally renowned Brixton nightclub. Grounds in support of the application include that the council should not have granted consent for the development by officer’s delegated decision instead of in public, at a committee meeting. There had been large-scale public opposition to the new housing development that would replace the club, which opened after the Brixton Riots in the 1980s. Other grounds included failure to consider relevant planning policy and the council officers misdirecting themselves that there were no valid reasons to protect the existing use.” A date will now be fixed for hearing in the planning court in the new year.
 
Hospitality Jobs UK signs exclusive three-year partnership with ALMR: Leading online advertising job board Hospitality Jobs UK (HJUK) has signed an exclusive three-year strategic partnership with the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR). The deal means HJUK has been chosen by the ALMR as its “recruitment advertising job board of choice for pubs and casual dining companies” across the UK with ALMR members able to advertise their current vacancies and benefit from exclusive discounted rates. HJUK is also expanding its online proposition providing information services “to become the leading hospitality hub of information”. HJUK has hired a new digital marketing agency to continue to enhance its services. Its website will feature a new “industry news and advice” section, offering real time news from Propel and a blog section covering legislation and government news, hospitality industry news, and a section called “chit chat and current conversations”. HJUK head of operations Marian Stredwick said: “We are delighted to have been chosen to partner with the ALMR as its preferred digital online recruitment job board. The ALMR has become the leading trade body for multi-site pubs and casual dining operators and as a nationwide advertising company, our mission simply is to supply thousands of job opportunities for job seekers from entry/trainees, and chefs at all levels, through to senior management and director positions and we are uniquely positioned to assist in providing the ALMR and their members with cost-effective digital online recruitment solutions.” ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “This is a great opportunity to promote the excellent range of employment and training opportunities the licensed hospitality sector offers. We are very proud of the fact that pubs, bars and restaurants provide employees with opportunities to work and learn and open up a wide range of careers paths. We are pleased to partner with Hospitality Jobs UK to promote the great work of our members and the sector at large. We are looking forward to aiding employees in their first steps in a rewarding career and unearthing tomorrow’s leaders and entrepreneurs.”
 
Taco Ball unveils game focused loyalty programme: Taco Bell, owned by Yum! Brands, has unveiled its new game-focused loyalty programme. The company has introduced Taco Bell Explore, Season 1, where users earn rewards by ordering on the app or linking social media accounts to the programme, reports Nation’s Restaurant News. Those who register can immediately begin earning puzzle pieces toward a reward – from a free Freeze to $100 gift cards and more. But unlike most loyalty programmes that reward customers for their spending or restaurant visits, Taco Bell didn’t want to “tell people what to do”, said Taco Bell vice-president of digital innovation and on demand Tressie Lieberman. Those who link their social media platforms will be surprised with puzzle pieces toward rewards as they go about their lives posting on social media. Taco Bell Explore’s algorithm will recognise certain words that indicate the guest is “Living Mas,” referring to Taco Bell’s “Live Mas” tagline for living large. The actual puzzle starts out simple, but gets more complex as users play. Lieberman said an estimated 4.7 million users have downloaded the Taco Bell app since it was launched in October 2014 with users spending about 30% more than non-mobile guests. In addition to free food and gift cards, some users may also win experiences, like getting a dedicated booth at their favourite restaurant or visiting Taco Bell headquarters in Irvine, California. Lieberman added. “This is a game that we believe will drive true loyalty with our community.”
 

Company News:

CG Restaurants reports Ebitda rockets 328%: London bar and restaurant operator CG Restaurants has reported Ebitda rocketed 328% to £1,606,378 from £375,052 in the year ending 31 December 2014. Turnover was up at £16,775,853, compared to £15,764,112 the year before, according to accounts filed with Companies House. Pre-tax losses fell to £284,005, compared to £1,314,037 the previous year. The company stated: “During the year the group acquired two London-based bar sites as it continues to expand its bar position in the city. In addition the group continued to focus on controlling its administrative costs and improving the overall performance of the group. The businesses acquired in 2013 and 2014 proved successful and as a result, the group’s turnover rose by 6.4% to £16.78m (2013: £15.76m). The group’s gross profit margin increased from 54.6% to 56.3% and Ebitda increased by 328% to £1,606,378 (2013: £375,052). The business has continued to concentrate on offering a unique experience to the customer both in terms of product offer and customer service, which is reflected in the level of customer feedback received. The group has also continued with its advertising and promotional campaign to maintain its existing clientele and also to attract new clientele. The directors aim to improve and maintain the management policies resulting in the group’s growth, and aim to continue the plans of expansion where opportunities arise, providing superior quality food and service in order to maintain a strong relationship with regular customers. The directors regard these as prerequisites for success in the long term.”
 
Miller Brands UK reports turnover and profit boost: Miller Brands UK has reported turnover rose 5% to £261.6m in the year to 31 March 2015, up from £247.5m the year before. Pre-tax profit rose to £31.2m from £23.8m the year before. It stated: “The company continued to deliver growth against an overall growth in the UK beer market of 0.4%. Miller Brands’ growth was achieved through innovative marketing and investment in its brands, notably the House of Peroni for Peroni Nastro Azzurro, as well as expanding distribution of tank beer for Pilsner Urquell.” 
 
Spaghetti House reports losses, will close Dover Street site: London restaurant company Spaghetti House, owned by the Lavarini family and operating the Spaghetti House and Pescatori brands, has reported it made a pre-tax loss of £222,407 in the year to 29 March 2015, compared to profit of £32,136 the year before. Administrative costs rose in the year by circa £900,000 to just over £12m. Turnover rose to £15,523,036, compared to £15,182,971 the year before. The company stated: “The directors are content with the group’s results. Despite the current challenging UK economy, London’s property market and the increase in the number and styles of eating out establishments with the catering sector, the group achieved revenue of £15.5m, an increase of 2.2% from the previous period.” The company reported it will close its Dover Street site in February 2016 and an amount of £189,000 will be received in consideration for the lease surrender.
 
Brighton ethical chicken brand Hen closes crowdfunding round after hitting £150,000 mark: Hen, the ethical chicken brand founded in Brighton by Philip Ilic, has ended its fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube after hitting the £150,000 mark. The company was offering 11.76% equity as it looked to raise £100,000 to expand into London by opening a second site among other projects. It has closed the round after 150 investors pledged £150,000 – with nearly 50,000 being added in the past 48 hours. The largest investment was £32,360. The pitch stated: “Hen is a much loved, ‘honest’ chicken shop, with an ethical twist and big plans. For too long we have had to endure the unethical and unhealthy high street chicken shops, Hen is here to change this. We opened our first restaurant in Brighton in December 2014 and we are now ready to build on this initial success and expand the concept with help from the ‘crowd’ and confirmed angel investment.”

French artisan patisserie Orée to launch on London’s Fulham Road: Sloane Stanley Estate has announced that Orée, a premium French artisan patisserie and boulangerie, is to launch its first UK flagship cafe. Due to open in March 2016, the 2,949 square foot space is spread over two floors and marks the beginning of an expansion programme in London. Founded by Laurent d’Orey, Orée stands out for its artisan recipes and the high quality interior design of its bakeries. The new space on the 275 – 277 Fulham Road offers a unique modern concept but with a traditional French bakery feel, including a large open decorative storefront to display fresh produce. The new bakery cafe will include a 38-cover internal seating area. All bread will be freshly baked on-site, with a working bakery being part of the ground floor design that customers can see in action. Laurent d’Orey, the founder of Orée Boulangeries added: “Of the many options available to us, Chelsea was the most exciting and we are thrilled to be moving into a prestigious and established location on Fulham Road. We selected Fulham Road for our first UK store as it attracts a vibrant community and strong retail footfall. It was the obvious choice for our brand to further develop our premium French artisan bakery concept. We can’t wait to see the site open, as well as to secure more sites for the serious expansion plans that Orée has for London.”
 
Freehold of Sutton Coldfield building home to Loungers sold for £1.6m: The freehold of a building in Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, which is home to cafe-bar company Loungers, has been sold for close to £1.6m. Lingfield Assets has disposed of 21 to 23A Birmingham Road to a private family trust. The ground floor of the building, which totals 11,822 square foot, is let to Loungers, which runs Quinto Lounge, on a 15-year lease while a further retail unit is let to a local coffee shop Under Pressure Espresso. Two first-floor offices are also let on shorter leases. The total income is £126,500 per annum reflecting a net yield of 7.5%. Shortland Penn + Moore (SP+M) acted for Lingfield Assets, while the purchaser represented itself. David Allen, of SP+M, told The Business Desk: “The investment market in the West Midlands is pretty robust and this deal further underlines that.”
 
Fish conservation groups target JD Wetherspoon and Casual Dining Group: Conservation groups are urging three pub and restaurant brands to pledge their commitment to using only responsibly caught fish on their menus. The Marine Conservation Society (MCS), Fish2fork and Sustain are targeting JD Wetherspoon, and Casual Dining Group’s Cafe Rouge and Bella Italia brands in their Point the Fish Finger campaign. Each of the companies is being asked to promise to take “appropriate steps” to buy and promote sustainable seafood in order to protect precious marine environments and fish stocks, and also “good fishing livelihoods”. To measure progress, the trio will be assessed by Fish2fork and given a sustainability rating. According to MCS, the three groups serve more than 185 million meals a year and represent about 12% of the high street restaurant market. An estimated 28,000 people eat fish and chips every week as part of JD Wetherspoon’s Fish Friday promotion alone. A recent survey by MCS and Fish2fork found several restaurant chains were “failing to demonstrate publicly that the seafood they were serving was sustainable”. MCS fisheries officer Sam Stone said: “Our supporters tell us that they want to see sustainable fish on the menu, but high street restaurant chains just aren’t doing enough to either buy sustainable seafood or to inform diners about the seafood they’re selling.” Fish2fork managing director Tim Glover added: “The choices restaurants make about which fish or shellfish to use have a direct impact on the health of our seas.”
 
Nick Batram – Domino’s UK has found a neat solution to its German problem: Peel Hunt leisure analyst Nick Batram has described Domino’s UK’s joint venture in Germany as a neat solution to its challenges in the country. He said: “The strategic joint venture with Domino’s Pizza Enterprises and acquisition of Joey’s Pizza looks a neat solution to the problem child that was Germany. Not only has a major management distraction been removed but the group has given itself a much better chance of creating some value out of Germany. The deal doesn’t make a material difference to fair value in the short term, but we do view it positively and retain our ‘Add’. The joint venture has also agreed to acquire up to 15 of the 20 stores currently trading in Germany. There is likely to be some payment for these but we don’t expect this to be above low single digit millions. The balance of shops will be closed, along with the head office and commissary. In total, the exceptional cost is expected to be circa £7.3m, which will be taken as an exceptional in 2015. The acquisition of Joey’s, will give the business the scale it has seriously lacked to date. With 212 stores, Joey’s is the largest pizza delivery business in Germany. In the year to December 2015, Joey’s is expected to achieve system sales of circa €143m (£104.2m) and pro forma underlying Ebitda of €7m (£5.1m). Therefore, the exit multiple is a reasonable 6.4x. Whilst Joey’s does bring scale in terms of store numbers, there is still much to be done with the operation (no commissary) and sales per store (circa 50% of a mature Domino’s Pizza Group UK store) very different from the UK model. Nevertheless, Domino’s Pizza Enterprises has significant European infrastructure through its operations in France, Belgium and Netherlands. Germany will now be treated as discontinued and therefore the £3.9m loss we had pencilled in will be added back to our adjusted profit forecast. The impact of this is to upgrade 2015 earnings per share by circa 5% and circa 4% in 2016. There will be a higher cash cost given the restructuring and joint venture investment but given the strength of the balance sheet this is not a problem. Management deserve credit for finding a neat solution to the German problem. It is true that Domino’s Pizza Group is having to put more money in but the risk has reduced and the chances of making a positive return have increased. Given this we retain our ‘Add’.”

North Bar joins forces with restaurateurs to launch Leeds brewery: Yorkshire craft beer company North Bar and the team behind the Belgrave Music Hall and Headrow House restaurants have joined forces to launch a new brewery and a 200-capacity tap room in the city. The 15-barrel ale brewery has opened at Taverner’s Walk Industrial Estate initially serving the eight sites in the city belonging to the two companies. Seb Brink, formerly of Golden Owl, and Darius Darwell, of Bristol Beer Factory, are behind the new range of beers. North Brewing Co director Christian Townsley told The Business Desk: “We’ve been talking about opening a brewery for over ten years, to finally see it become reality is amazing and we’re all really excited about the future.” Belgrave Music Hall opened in 2014 and the team has followed that with the opening of Headrow House in October of this year. North Bar, which launched in 1997, operates six venues in Leeds and is undergoing a significant wave of growth with work underway on a new venture in Harrogate and another site in Leeds city centre.
 
Gino D’Acampo to open Manchester restaurant in partnership with Individual Restaurants founder today, eyes further sites both in UK and overseas: Italian chef and television personality Gino D’Acampo will open his new restaurant in Manchester today (Thursday, 17 December) and is eyeing further sites both in the UK and overseas. D’Acampo has joined forces with Individual Restaurants founder Steven Walker for his foray into fast-casual dining with Gino D’Acampo – My Restaurant. The venue, located at The Corn Exchange, will seat 250 diners, with a cicchetti and kitchen bar as well as two large outside terraces, including one leading on to Exchange Square. D’Acampo already has My Pasta Bar to his name, with three branches in London, but this is the first My Restaurant, although he said he has his eye on more sites around the country and internationally. He told the Manchester Evening News: “I always said I wanted to come to Manchester but I wanted the best site I could get. I think the Corn Exchange is awesome. I’m going to give Manchester a proper Italian restaurant with proper Italian food.”
 
Fuller’s artisan pizza and cider brand The Stable opening first Gloucestershire site today: The Stable, the artisan pizza and cider brand in which Fuller’s holds a 51% stake, is opening its first site in Gloucestershire today (Thursday, 17 December). The company is launching the restaurant in Clarence Street, Cheltenham, on the site of a former nightclub. The pizza menu includes The Pittville Piggy, with chorizo, salami and rocket, and The Cotswold Lion, featuring marinated lamb, sweet potato and goats’ cheese. There are also more than 80 varieties of cider. Co-owner Nikki Cooper told the Gloucestershire Echo: “I think it’s the fourth opening that we have had in as many weeks. We’re really excited about Cheltenham because it’s such a beautiful building we have got. And it’s been quite a challenge design-wise to give it The Stable feel. Cheltenham has been a town we have earmarked for about three years.” The Stable, which has 13 sites, was created in 2007 by Richard and Nikki Cooper and Richard’s brother Andy Briggs.
 
Frankie & Benny’s opens new site in Uxbridge: Frankie & Benny’s, the brand owned by The Restaurant Group, has opened a new site in Uxbridge, west London. The brand has launched on the second floor of the Intu Uxbridge shopping centre by Debenhams. A spokesman told GetWestLondon: “We are thrilled to be opening at Intu Uxbridge, with the team priding themselves on outstanding hospitality and service along with great food at affordable prices. We are looking forward to offering a fantastic range of freshly cooked food to our guests by our talented and enthusiastic team of waiting staff.” Intu Uxbridge marketing manager Natasha House added: “We’re thrilled to welcome Frankie & Benny’s to Intu Uxbridge, joining our fantastic range of shopping and leisure venues in-centre.”
 
Robinsons reports 17% volume increase in 2015 limited edition seasonal ales: North west brewer and retailer Robinsons has reported a 17% volume increase in its 2015 limited edition seasonal ales. The company said across its 300-strong pub estate and nationally through listings across the country, over 728,000 pints of Robinsons seasonal beers were drunk throughout the year – the equivalent of a pint every minute. Brands manager Gill Yates said: “2015 has been brilliant for Robinsons. We’ve launched several high profile beers including Wizard and Trooper 666 and we’ve had one of our most successful years for seasonals with our spring seasonal, MOJO, and our summer beer, Dizzy’s Twisted Sister, becoming our fourth and fifth best-selling seasonals of the past five years. If this year is anything to go by, our customers are in for an exciting 2016. Over 100,000 more seasonal pints were sold in 2015, which shows that our limited edition range is a hit with our customers. Next year, we’ve got a brilliant seasonal line-up along with a couple of very big surprises that we know our customers will love.” Robinsons seasonal range in 2016 will include Red Jester, a 3.9% ABV red ale with a distinctive blackcurrant hop flavour, and Bonjeuros, a light refreshing blonde 4.2% ABV beer brewed using Cascade, Ella and Goldings hops. 
 
Searcys to collaborate with Monica Galetti to open pop-up restaurant at The Gherkin: High quality caterer and champagne bar operator Searcys is collaborating with MasterChef presenter and Le Gavroche chef Monica Galetti to open a pop-up restaurant in The Gherkin in London. The pop-up will be housed on the 39th floor and be open for daily lunch and dinner services from 8 January until 12 February. Having worked as senior sous-chef at Le Gavroche in Mayfair since 2009, Galetti’s dishes at the Gherkin will focus on seasonal British winter produce. The menu, which includes starters such as black curry scallops and mains featuring short rib of beef and pumpkin tart, will be cooked by the Searcys team, overseen by head chef Renee Miller. Galetti said: “The Gherkin is such an iconic landmark in London. It’s an exciting concept to create a menu for a limited public opening of this interesting venue.” Karim LeCloarec, of Searcys The Gherkin, added: “While our restaurant is primarily for tenants of the building and members of our club, this exciting collaboration with Monica Galetti allows us to host a star of London’s vibrant culinary scene and showcases the menu to a wider audience for a limited time.”
 
New pan-Asian style buffet restaurant concept opens in Stoke: A new pan-Asian style buffet restaurant concept has been opened in Stoke. Bon Pan Asian has launched its first site at the Intu Potteries shopping centre and is the latest brand to open in the complex’s new £20m Hive development. It has signed a 25-year lease on a 13,750 square foot unit, creating 40 jobs. The 300-cover restaurant, located on the first floor, has specialist chefs creating an array of different Far Eastern dishes for the buffet including sushi, noodles and Thai curries. Director Fiona Chen told the Stoke Sentinel: “We’re going to be selling what we call pan-Asian cuisine, which is cuisine from all across Asia. We’ve got Chinese, Japanese, Thai and Indian. At dinner we also have a Teriyaki station where you pick the fresh ingredients from the counter and the chef cooks them right in front of you. We were always looking for opportunities when we came here to look around we saw it as a good chance for us. There aren’t really many other buffet restaurants around here.” Bon Pan Asian has joined restaurant brands including PizzaExpress, Gourmet Burger Kitchen and Chiquito and Frankie & Benny’s, both owned by The Restaurant Group, in the Hive complex.
 
Box Steam Brewery gets into festive spirit as reindeer delivers its beer: Wiltshire-based Box Steam Brewery is getting in the festive spirit by using reindeer to deliver its beer. The company has two reindeer – named Cupid and Comet – pulling the traditional wooden sleigh as it aims to add a little Christmas magic to its daily rounds and reduce its carbon footprint into the bargain. The sleigh, driven by the brewery’s head drayman Tony Lockyear – who normally drives a van -– made its first drop at the Cross Guns pub in the village of Avoncliff this week. Box Steam Brewery managing director Andy Roberts told ITV: “We use an energy-efficient steam kettle to produce our ales, so this draydeer-powered service is really just an extension of our commitment to maintaining a low carbon footprint. Small breweries like ours are meeting the public demand for authentic, well-crafted ales with personality – locals want local at their local.”

SA Brain to invest £1.25m in Mermaid Quay pub: Terra Nova, the Brains-owned Mermaid Quay pub, has closed ahead of a major £1.25m four-month refurbishment. After trading for 12 years as Terra Nova, the site closed on Sunday 13 December ahead of a major development program. An extensive period of guest research has informed the development of a modern new venue that is expected to open in late April 2016 and ready for the summer trading period. Bruce Newman, group head of marketing at Brains said: “Terra Nova has been a hugely successful business for Brains over the years, however, our guest research indicated the need for change. It was very apparent that users of the Bay felt that Terra Nova had become dated and failed to make the most of its stunning waterside location. We’ve tested a number of different ideas, with guests clamouring for a high quality, premium bar with a strong and unique food offer. Our plans to meet that need are at an advanced stage and the team are confident that the new business will become a favourite of Bay visitors.” The venue will also carry a new name, The Dock, acknowledging the heritage and uniqueness of its Cardiff Bay location and the interior design scheme will tell guests the story of Cardiff Bay, with a modern eclectic twist.

Virtual Jukebox hires Fleet Street Communications: Leading interactive music service, Virtual Jukebox, has appointed Fleet Street Communications, specialists in the hospitality, leisure and retail industries to support its growth in the UK on and off-trade markets. November marks the beginning of an extensive PR programme for Virtual Jukebox. Fleet Street Communications’ role will involve driving awareness, securing listings within the hospitality and retail sectors – alongside building the brand’s profile as the industry’s leading music provider. Virtual Jukebox chief executive Andy Hill said: “This is an important step in the development and growth of Virtual Jukebox. The Fleet Street team’s in-depth knowledge and strong relationships within the sector are a fantastic asset – we’re confident they will help us engage custom and boost interest in the service throughout 2016.” Mark Stretton, Fleet Street Communications managing director, added: “We’re delighted to be working with Virtual Jukebox – a dynamic and high-quality business, providing innovative interactive music services to help retail and hospitality brands achieve higher customer spend through digital venue experiences. Our strategic campaign will help Virtual Jukebox build its UK presence and unlock further opportunities within the leisure market.”
 
Arc Inspirations to invest £400,000 refurbishing Banyan Bar & Kitchen in Harrogate: Arc Inspirations is to invest £400,000 refurbishing its Banyan Bar & Kitchen site in Harrogate. The company, led by Martin Wolstencroft, will revamp the site before relaunching it in January. The project will bring the venue in line with the look and feel of the Banyan Bar portfolio with an approachable, relaxed and welcoming atmosphere serving fresh, local food and premium drinks. The relaunch comes with Arc Inspirations having recently announced the opening of Banyan Bar & Kitchen in Leeds city centre in March 2016, extending the brand to four sites with locations in Harrogate, Manchester, Leeds and York. Wolstencroft said: “I am extremely proud of the Banyan Bar & Kitchen brand and am looking forward to revealing the refurbished bar in Harrogate in the new year. We will be investing £400,000 to bring the site up to date with current market trends, with the development based on our learnings from the launch of Banyan Bar & Kitchen in Manchester. Banyan Bar & Kitchen in Harrogate originally opened in 2006, so in its tenth anniversary year we felt it was the right time to rejuvenate and refresh the bar loved by many in the town. We hope that we can continue to bring our customers exceptional service, beautiful food and drinks in a far more sophisticated setting.”
 
Holiday park operator to upgrade facilities after securing £25.5m funding package: Holiday park operator Shorewood Leisure Group is set to make significant upgrades to its facilities having secured a £25.5m funding package. The company, which offers holiday homes ranging from luxury lodges to caravans at a mixture of coastal and countryside locations, has agreed the deal with HSBC to allow it to increase its visitor numbers by 30% next year as it makes major infrastructure improvements across its portfolio, reports Business Insider. Shorewood Leisure Group director Neil Wilson praised HSBC for taking the time to “get to grips with the opportunities and challenges facing our business”. HSBC’s James Jordan said: “We began working with Shorewood earlier this year and were impressed with the approach it takes to servicing its customers and improving facilities. The team has a clear strategy for growth, with the funding package from HSBC to deliver improved market share for the business in the future.” Shorewood, which employs a workforce of 100, celebrated 26 years in the leisure park industry this year. It has operations in Aldbrough, Hornsea, Bridlington, Guisborough, Richmond, Bishop Auckland, Morpeth, Berwick-upon-Tweed and Cockburnspath.
 
Luxury hotel group in administration to be split up: Luxury hotel group Prima, which has operations in Yorkshire, the north west and the East Midlands, is to be split up after administrators decided individual disposals would ensure the best result for creditors. Ryan Grant, Lee Causer and Catherine Williamson from AlixPartners were called into four hotels owned and managed by Cheshire-based Prima in May. They are: Hellaby Hall Hotel in Rotherham, The Stanneylands Hotel in Wilmslow, Nunsmere Hall Hotel in Northwich, and The Quorn Country Hotel in Leicestershire. A further appointment was made over the Royal Terrace Hotel in Edinburgh. Instructed by the administrators, Savills brought the four Prima Hotels in England to market, inviting offers in excess of £18m for the portfolio. The marketing drive generated four portfolio offers and 14 offers for individual hotels or pairs. Savills recommended the acceptance of four separate offers to maximise realisations and the unnamed buyers are conducting due diligence with a view to completing the deals by 31 December, reports Business Insider. Legacy Hotels and Resorts has been running the group on behalf of the administrators. Despite money brought in from the sales and the ongoing operation of the hotels, secured creditor AIB Group is facing a shortfall on its £36m lending. As previously reported, there will be no money for unsecured creditor claims of £6.6m.
 
Dalata agrees to buy Dublin hotel for €13.1m: Ireland-based hotel operator Dalata has agreed to acquire the Tara Towers Hotel in Dublin for €13.155m. The company is scheduled to complete the deal for the 111-bedroom three-star hotel, which also includes a bar, restaurant, car park and meeting/event facilities, in January. Dalata plans to invest up to €4.5m in an extensive refurbishment programme to convert the property into a modern four-star hotel, and will rebrand the property as a Maldron Hotel. Profits attributable to the hotel are expected to be €475,000 in 2015. Deputy chief executive business development and finance Dermot Crowley said: “The Tara Towers Hotel is a very well located hotel in Dublin that fits seamlessly into our strategic plan to grow our portfolio within Ireland and specifically the Dublin market. We look forward to upgrading this property in a manner similar to the recent refurbishment of Maldron Pearse Street Hotel, which is proving to be a very successful project for us.”
 
Itinerary unveiled for second Propel and Thinking Drinkers Craft Beer Retail Study Tour: The itinerary has been unveiled for the second Propel and Thinking Drinkers Craft Beer Retail Study Tour. The event, which this year focuses on south London, takes place on Thursday, 28 January and will visit seven of the capital’s leading craft beer retailers in an eight-hour period. It starts at the Four Thieves brewpub in Battersea, owned by Laine Pub Company. The tour will then visit hybrid craft beer and bottle shop We Brought Beer in Clapham Junction, which was founded by former BrewDog employee James Hickson, followed by the Craft Beer Co site in Clapham Manor Street. The next stop will be the Crown & Anchor in Brixton run by London Village Inns before heading to independently operated Stormbird in Camberwell Church Street, which was runner-up in the Timeout Love London Awards this year. The tour then continues to Late Knights Brewery’s micro-pub Beer Rebellion in Gypsy Hill and ends at Utobeer’s The Rake in Borough Market. The tour will again be led by Thinking Drinkers, award-winning beer writers Ben McFarland and Tom Sandham, who will provide the latest craft beer facts and figures, market segmentation, analysis and spot up-and-coming trends. 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. To book, email adam.dickinson@propelinfo.com
 
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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