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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Wed 20th Jan 2016 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Columbo Group plans to expand Blues Kitchen concept outside London – but only once Brixton site is ‘perfect’, eyes Manchester: Award-winning The Columbo Group, led by Steve Ball and Riz Shaikh, has plans to expand its Blues Kitchen concept outside London – but only once its latest site is “perfect”. Blues Kitchen was launched in Camden in 2009 before a second site in Shoreditch opened in 2014 with its third in Brixton following last October. Shaikh told Propel there were plans to roll-out the concept to other cities – with Manchester very much in its sights – but only once it was happy with everything at Brixton. He said: “Manchester is likely to be our fourth opening because the city has some huge character buildings and the culture is suited to it. It’s right for this product. I’d also love to open in Liverpool as it would be an excuse to see the football. Although I’m not sure whether that’s a great idea at the moment! Brixton only opened two months ago and has been a rip-roaring success. But we don’t want to rest on our laurels and there is much room for improvement. We therefore won’t even think about number four until this one is perfect.” Shaikh added the key to Blues Kitchen was making each site unique. He said: “It comes from our desire to create one concept but not a chain. We’ve said there would only be three in London and then we’d move outside. Our innovation was to turn it into a venue with Deep South Blues, barbecue and bourbon cocktails. What’s unique about Blues music is it’s timeless. It’s not a fad. It’s not a trend. Columbo Group is unique in not being fashion-led or fickle, which is the late-licence stereotype. Get them in and out, lots of vertical drinking. But those days are gone. All our sites are unique, otherwise you are operating a chain. We want a consistency in the roll-out but we’re not TGI Friday’s. It’s important not to bring a cookie-cutter approach to what we do as it could compromise the business. Camden is unique in London and every Blues Kitchen will echo its neighbourhood – that way it is more of a venue for locals.” Shaikh also reckons it is such a robust concept that he would like to expand it globally although there is no plan to do so at the moment. Columbo Group is also aiming to improve the offer at the Jazz Cafe in London – the group’s tenth outlet, which was bought off-market as part of a consortium that purchased all the music venue assets from Mama Group last year. “Any Londoner who likes music will have been to that venue,” added Shaikh. “We’ll leave it mainly as it is. It has just lost its way and we want to reinject the love and passion. We’ll improve the offer and reignite it. It’s one of the most exciting things we’ve done.” Shaikh said it was also unlikely more pubs would be added to the group and would instead concentrate on opening further Blues Kitchens and music venues.
 

Industry News:

AG&G reports London area pubs sold for average of £480 per square foot in 2015: Buyers paid an average of £480 per square foot for pubs within the M25 in 2015, agent AG&G has reported. The boutique agent reported it brokered £90m of pub sales last year, nearly all on a site-by-site basis. Director James Grimes argued site-by-site deals are laborious, but a targeted approach to marketing produces strong results. The average price of £480 per square foot for pubs within the M25 is down slightly on the previous year, which included notable deals such as the sale of The Harp, WC2 (£2,900 per square foot) and the Ten Bells, Liverpool Street (£1,000 per square foot). Grimes added: “Low interest rates and lack of supply continued to drive the market prices achieved in 2015. With ownership more fragmented than ever before, particularly of freehold investment properties, the London market has become more fluid and competitive. The polarisation continues between the very good and the not so good. Those sites that trade well, particularly within Zones One and Two, tend to see competitive bidding for continuation as existing use. Indeed, freehold managed house sales have almost dried up within the central areas and thus lateral thinking is necessary. With the Phoenix in Clapham for example, we managed to meet demand by merging both freehold and leasehold interests into a single entity. In other cases it was all about yield for investors. The All Bar One Richmond was one of the investment highlights where the buyer paid a net initial yield of 4.1% for security of the location and the Mitchells & Butlers covenant. The discreet sale of the New Inn, St Johns Wood, saw a net initial yield of under 3%. Of the pubs sold by AG&G within London during 2015, just under half remained as public houses use, which illustrates the resurgence in demand.” AG&G is offering four new freeholds and three leasing opportunities in London this month, with a further three to be marketed by the end of January.

Brewery numbers hit historic high in US: The Brewers Association has reported there were 4,144 breweries in the United States at the end of 2015, the most ever operating simultaneously in the history of the country. According to historians, the previous high-water mark of 4,131 was set in 1873. At the end of 2011, there were 2,033 breweries, or fewer than half as many as now. In 2005, there were only 1,447. The Brewers Association, a trade group for small and independent breweries, logged a mere 284 in 1990. The Washington Post stated: “So this is a golden age for beer lovers. It is easier than ever to find a great IPA (the most popular craft beer style in America), stout or session ale at a bar or liquor store. Previously ignored styles such as gose and Berliner weisse have become trendy, while brewers have a free hand to experiment with Belgian IPAs or saisons packed with unusual herbs. On the other hand, the expanding market – at least two breweries open every day – has created a new set of problems for brewers. New arrivals, riding the craft beer wave, are finding it difficult to stand out. And it’s not as if bars have doubled the number of their taps in the past five years. So not only do the new breweries need to squeeze past their rivals even to make it in front of consumers, but they might need to convince bars that they’re more deserving of a chance than better-known beers from Lagunitas or Great Lakes.”
 
Heineken management changes reflect growing importance of Star Pubs & Bars: Heineken announced changes to its UK management team structure yesterday (Tuesday, 19 January), reflecting the growing importance, investment and growth potential of its leased pub business Star Pubs & Bars. Heineken’s pub business will now be directly represented on the UK management team, with the creation of a new managing director, Star Pubs & Bars role. Lawson Mountstevens, currently managing director on-trade, has been appointed to the role and will continue to report to David Forde, UK managing director. Heineken said Lawson would use his extensive on-trade experience to lead Star Pubs & Bars to a highly successful future, and help lessees grow their own businesses within Star. Heineken has also created the role of director on-trade, with Chris Jowsey, trading director Star Pubs & Bars, promoted to the new position, also becoming part of Heineken’s UK management team and reporting to Forde. Jowsey will lead Heineken’s on-trade business, providing a strong focus on serving regional and national customers. Mountstevens’ and Jowsey’s roles will be absorbed into the new structure. The company said the appointments underlined Heineken’s long-term commitment to the UK on-trade and its Star Pubs & Bars business. Both appointments will come into effect on Monday, 1 February.
 
Greene King apprenticeship work recognised by government: Greene King, the country’s largest managed operator, has been recognised by the government for its commitment to apprenticeships and invited to 10 Downing Street to celebrate the launch of the new Apprenticeship Delivery Board. Rooney Anand, Greene King’s chief executive, and two of Greene King’s apprentices Mark Robinson and Jenna Stewart, attended a reception hosted by prime minister David Cameron and business secretary Sajid Javid. The reception brought together representatives of the UK’s top public and private businesses in recognition of creating a record number of apprenticeships. At the reception, Anand announced Greene King has delivered on its 2015 pledge, unveiled during National Apprenticeship Week 2015, to create 2,000 more apprenticeships within a year – two months ahead of schedule. This takes the total number of apprentices earning and learning with the pub retailer and brewer to 3,300. Anand said: “We are really proud of our apprenticeship programme and passionate about supporting our employees with their career development at Greene King. We were really pleased to have recently delivered on our latest pledge of 2,000 people starting an apprenticeship. Following our acquisition of Spirit Pub Company last year, we are now working to increase the number of qualifications available to our 42,000 team members. There is real enthusiasm for our apprenticeship programme and not only do we want to ensure the apprentice’s experience is a valuable one, we want to continue to improve the quality and opportunities for those who commit to the 12 month programmes.” Javid added: “Three million more apprenticeships by 2020 means even more life changing opportunities for our young people. More than that, apprenticeships make sense for business. That’s why some of the country’s top business leaders are coming together to bang the drum for apprenticeships. We are putting employers at the heart of quality apprenticeships so that young people get the skills they need to succeed. Today we are celebrating everything that apprenticeships have to offer businesses and young people.”
 
BMW to roll-out digital dashboard restaurant locator: BMW will push back against tech competitors with a digital helper that will allow drivers to locate a nearby restaurant with available tables, book seats and show the driver the best route to get there. The cloud-based BMW Connected service, which will also include applications such as home-heating remote control, will be available in the next few months, Dieter May, head of the luxury-car maker’s digital services and business models unit, told reporters in Munich this week. Carmakers are under pressure to develop digital features to retain customers as companies such as Apple and Google consider entering the automotive industry with connected vehicles. BMW Connected can be installed in cars equipped with ConnectedDrive dashboard electronics, Bloomberg reported.
 
Starbucks launches digital music tie-up with Spotify: Starbucks launched a digital music tie-up with streaming music service Spotify yesterday (Tuesday, 19 January). The service will allow Starbucks customers who download a mobile app to identify music being played in a participating Starbucks store and save songs to a Spotify playlist. App users will also be able to “love” songs to influence future Starbucks playlists and share tunes on social networks. The service will be available to customers at more than 7,500 Starbucks stores in the US, My Starbucks Rewards loyalty members, and US Spotify users. Starbucks will create a playlist every week to highlight new artists and albums. Howard Schultz, Starbucks chairman and chief executive, said: “Music has played a pivotal role in our stores for over 40 years and we have been at the forefront of how to integrate it into a retail environment. We are merging the physical and digital, providing new access points for Spotify as it continues to grow globally.” The new Starbucks music platform is available to iPhone and Android users via the Starbucks mobile app, with the features accessible on Spotify’s “Free” and “Premium” services. Spotify is a digital music service that gives users on-demand access to more than 30 million tracks. It has more than 75 million active users, with over 20 million paying subscribers.
 
Raise Bakery becomes 250th business in Brighton area to commit to Living Wage: Raise Bakery has become the 250th business in the Brighton area to agree to pay staff the Living Wage. Brighton Chamber has run the Living Wage Campaign for four years, making the case to businesses of paying a Living Wage. Launched in 2012, the Brighton & Hove Living Wage Campaign aims to persuade businesses to voluntarily pay all employees at least the Living Wage rate, currently £8.25 per hour. Raise Bakery is an independent family run business with nine staff, a shop in Hove and a bakery in Worthing.
 
UK’s second cereal cafe brand closes less than a year after opening: The UK’s second cereal cafe has closed less than a year after opening. The Cereal Bar, in Fife Road, Kingston, opened last year in the wake of Cereal Killers, which has branches in Shoreditch and Camden. At the Cereal Bar, customers paid £2.70 for a small bowl and up to £6 for large bowls. At the time of opening owner Ramon Mullan told the Surrey Comet: “I really like the Cereal Killer Cafe and have been there five or six times. But my prices are cheaper and we do milkshakes and crisps. I’m really into the marketing side of things and I think that Kingston is a great place to open this sort of business.”
 
KFC rolls out Nashville Hot Chicken, its most successful product test in recent history: KFC has rolled out its new Nashville Hot Chicken to all its 4,300 restaurants in the US in the run-up to the Super Bowl. KFC tested the spicy Nashville Hot Chicken at 32 restaurants in the Pittsburgh area and said it had been the most successful product test in the company’s recent history. As part of a major advertising push, KFC sent a food truck serving its Nashville Hot Chicken to cities with a variation of the name “Nashville” that have no KFC restaurant nearby. The truck started in Nashville Village, Ohio, and will finish the tour in Nashville Town, North Carolina, next week. KFC’s Extra Crispy chicken forms the base for the Hot Chicken recipe, which includes a Nashville hot sauce glaze spiked with cayenne and paprika. Television advertising to support the launch began during the NFL play-offs at the weekend.

Young British chefs land in Japan for Seven Samurai contest final: Seven young British chefs started an eight-day culinary tour yesterday (Tuesday, 19 January) to master the art of Japanese cooking. The Seven Samurai Chefs challenge finalists are competing to design a dish for Japanese airline ANA’s business class menu on its London-Tokyo route. Hosted by ANA and the British Hospitality Association, the competition aims to encourage more UK chefs to incorporate Japanese techniques and ingredients into menus. The chefs will visit some of Japan’s most-celebrated food markets and restaurants. David Loewi, managing director of restaurant group D&D London, chairman of The Restaurant Association and the judging panel, said: “We’re delighted to offer seven rising stars the opportunity to be inspired by the local cuisine, while discovering new ingredients and techniques they can put into practice on their return to the UK.”
 

Company News:

Le Pain Quotidien to launch first out-of-London site: Belgian restaurant and boulangerie Le Pain Quotidien (LPQ) is opening its first out-of-London restaurant in Bicester Village, Oxfordshire. Launching in “early 2016”, the group’s 26th UK site will be located at Unit 82, serving 155 covers inside and 60 on the outside terrace. Last year, LPQ celebrated its 25th anniversary and launched its 25th London site. LPQ Bicester Village will serve the restaurant’s signature artisan baked bread, healthy recipes and organic, seasonal dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The menu has been devised to use locally sourced produce, with offerings including soups, salads, hot dishes, tartines, and homemade pastries, with vegan and vegetarian options. The interior will feature a communal table as its centerpiece – an element seen across all LPQ restaurants since founder Alain Coumont opened the first restaurant in Rue Dansaert, Brussels, with a communal table built from wood salvaged from the floors of old Belgian trains. LPQ will also launch its baking classes in Bicester Village, which range from fresh artisan bread recipes to seasonal cakes and cookies.
 
Loungers to open at former McDonald’s site in Wellingborough: Loungers is set to take over the former McDonald’s branch in Wellingborough The venue has been boarded up for several months, but it is set to be reopened by Loungers, which will name the site Castello Lounge. A premises licence for the unit has been approved and Loungers has now applied to install a new shopfront and new fascia signs. Documents submitted as part of the application stated: “Loungers will be occupying this unit following its vacation by the previous occupants, McDonald’s. They offer a prestige use and have won awards for both the quality of their units and their offering. The Loungers group source produce from local suppliers wherever possible and this will benefit the local economy.”

Urban Leisure group plans four openings in 2016 after 15.8% like-for-likes in December: London-based Urban Leisure Group is planning four new openings this year after reporting a strong rise in sales for December. It is to open a third venue under the name of The Alice House in Putney East after the success of the first in Queen’s Park and then West Hampstead. The brand combines creative cocktails, craft beer and relaxed dining in vintage chic interiors. It is also planning to open a new site focused on gin in Hackney Wick and also to take the company’s “love affair with the 1970s to the next level” with the newly acquired wine bar La Brocca in West Hampstead. The announcements follow this month’s sale of its brasserie and bar Central & Co in Great Marlborough Street in Soho to an overseas operator that plans to launch a burger concept. Urban Leisure Group, which operates eight bars and restaurants, reported like-for-likes rose 15.8% in December. It is due to launch Heist Bank, serving wood-fired pizza, local beer and fresh flowers, in Paddington in late February or early March. The bar and restaurant in North Wharf Road is being created in a former commercial space with Woolf Interior Architecture & Design. The group’s most recent opening was Coin Laundry in December, bringing 1970s-inspired cuisine and cocktails to Exmouth Market in Clerkenwell.
 
Affinity Bars & Restaurants to open all-day venue in central London: Affinity Bars & Restaurants is opening its fourth venue, Dickie Fitz, in Newman Street, Fitzrovia, in late February. The all-day dining room will be open seven days a week, offering a full menu from breakfast through to dinner, with dishes inspired by the flavours and ingredients of the Pacific. At the helm will be Matt Robinson, who headed up the kitchen at Bluebird Chelsea prior to spending time across a number of Gordon Ramsay Group restaurants, Marco Pierre White’s Criterion and Skylon. Dickie Fitz will cater for 45 covers on the ground floor, with a further 45 upstairs and 14 on the terrace, with a semi-private space available on the top floor seating up to 14. James McLean, Affinity Bars & Restaurants chief executive, said: “With its exciting and fresh Australasian concept, a menu created using Matt Robinson’s global experience and palate, and featuring weekend brunches, Sunday roasts and contemporary cocktails, we feel it’ll be a welcome addition to the thriving neighbourhood.” The other venues in the London-based firm’s portfolio are The Henry Root, Princess Victoria and The Lady Ottoline. 
 
Ponti’s to open first site outside London in Sheffield: London-based Ponti’s Italian Kitchen has unveiled its first opening outside the capital with a new site planned at north Sheffield’s Fox Valley development later this year. The family has sites on Duke Street and Oxford Street in London – it opens in Sheffield’s new £50m city centre development in June. Boss Stefano Ispano said: “We have been looking to find the right landlord to partner with in a location for our first Ponti’s Italian Kitchen outside London. With Mark Dransfield and the Fox Valley development we believe we have a perfect partnership; it really is the ideal spot for a new development in a beautiful location in north Sheffield.” The development will have 32 retail and restaurant units as well as high specification office space and a housing development with 114 homes.
 
Davenports to open second Dares bar in a fortnight after no new sites in three decades: Davenports has revealed plans for its second bar launch in the space of a fortnight. It announced earlier this month it had secured £10m in investment to broaden its estate of pubs and bars, refurbish its existing property and expand the brewery. It has now lodged plans to open a craft beer and cocktail bar, restaurant and ten-bedroom hotel in a former HSBC branch in Moseley, the Birmingham Post reported. Davenports announced earlier this month it would open Dares Cafe in a former police station in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter – its first new bar for three decades. The Moseley project will also be branded Dares, after a craft beer founded in the 1920s recently resurrected by Davenports, which was taken over by Smethwick-based Empire Star ten years ago. In addition to the £10m secured funding, Davenports was awarded £100,000 match funding from the Birmingham Post Growth Fund, which it is using to support the launch of the two bars, with the creation of more than 20 jobs.

Wagamama hires new property director: Wagamama has hired Stephen Boyce as its new property director. Boyce is currently head of property at Arcadia and will be joining later in the year – he is taking over from interim property director John Ritchie. Boyce has also served as head of property at Sainsbury’s Convenience Division and oversaw an aggressive expansion drive involving 75 units a year. 

The Social Company’s Jason and Irha Atherton to launch seventh London restaurant: The Social Company will launch its seventh London restaurant, Sosharu, a 75-cover Japanese izakaya-style venue in the Turnmill Building, Clerkenwell Road. The restaurant, which will open in March, will add to Jason and Irha Atherton’s repertoire of critically acclaimed, Michelin-starred venues. A 40-cover cocktail bar, Seven Tales, will open in the basement. Sosharu is a collaboration between Jason Atherton and executive head chef Alex Craciun, who spent a year immersed in Japan’s top kitchens in preparation for the launch. Jason Atherton said: “Sosharu is a complete departure from anything I’ve done before, which makes it that much more exciting for us. This restaurant has been a long time in the making as we wanted to get it right. Alex has dedicated himself to learning everything there is to know about Japanese food in the past couple of years and the result is some incredible cooking.” Serving Japanese cuisine using British seasonal ingredients, Craciun’s menu will comprise small dishes with sections dedicated to different specialities, including temaki, hibachi grill, yaki grill, tempura, and sashimi. Kisetsu will be a separate dining space with its own kitchen, with a tasting menu served in the “omakase” tradition. Diners will be offered a bespoke daily changing menu chosen by Craciun. Seven Tales’ cocktails have been inspired by Japanese culture and philosophies, such as Yugen, containing rose vermouth, citric acid, hibiscus salt and sparkling sake.
 
Activity centre We Are Vertigo opens ski-themed, licenced restaurant: Activity centre We Are Vertigo is opening a ski-themed, licenced restaurant at its site in Newtownbreda, on the outskirts of Belfast. The new restaurant will create four jobs as part of a £100,000 investment at the centre, which is aimed at the corporate and leisure markets. The We Are Vertigo complex, which includes a trampoline park, adventure centre and ski slope, opened in 2013. Owners Gareth and Lorna Murphy, who have invested £2m in the brand, said the new restaurant would complete the We Are Vertigo offering for companies and families. Two months ago, the complex created ten jobs when it opened a spa. It currently employs more than 100 staff and hosts Northern Ireland’s only trampoline dodge ball league. Lorna Murphy said the addition of the restaurant and spa would “bridge the gap for parents”, simplifying their busy lives while their children were entertained.
 
Euro Garages now operating 44 fast food outlets as turnover passes £800m: Acquisitions have helped to boost turnover by a quarter to more than £800m at forecourt operator Euro Garages. The chief executive of the business, which recently secured a private equity investment that valued it at £1.3bn, has hailed another strong year of trading and told Insider Media the company will “continue to assess opportunities and acquire sites across the UK”. According to its latest set of accounts, Euro Garages posted a total turnover of £815.6m in the year to 31 July 2015, up by 26% on the prior year. Fuel sales contributed £674.3m in 2014/15, up from £540.2m in 2013/14, while shop and fast food sales generated £141.4m during the year up from £106.2m a year earlier. Pre-tax profits increased by 127% to £34.8m over the same period. Chief executive Zuber Issa said: “As we look ahead in 2016, our priorities include integrating the new sites and completing an extensive investment programme to improve the existing convenience offer. We will also continue to assess opportunities and acquire sites across the UK to bring our market-leading offer to even more people. Our partnerships with the UK’s leading fuel and convenience brands, alongside our commitment to investing in our portfolio, will ensure we continue to increase our market share.” In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors said: “The company now successfully operates 199 petrol stations and convenience stores following the block acquisition of 33 sites in June/July 2015, together with 42 fast food outlets.”
 
D&D London promotes Igor Tymchyshyn to head chef of Orrery: D&D London has promoted head chef Igor Tymchyshyn to chef patron of Orrery, which has achieved three AA Rosettes this month. He joined Orrery as head chef in April 2008 from his role as head chef at the Michelin-starred Mirabelle restaurant in London’s Mayfair, a capacity in which he had worked since 2005. Previously, Tymchyshyn joined Mirabelle as a sous chef in 1999 before quickly being promoted to senior sous chef in 2000. Earlier experiences also include other Michelin-starred establishments such as sous chef at L’Oranger (1998) and head chef at Maison Novelli (1996). D&D London’s managing director David Loewi said: “We are absolutely thrilled that Igor has accepted the role of chef patron at Orrery. His passionate approach to cooking has established Orrery as a beloved destination among Marylebone locals and Londoners alike and truly deserves its recent three AA Rosette accolade.”
 
Former ALMR staffer launches own consultancy: Former Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) membership manager Matt Steinhofel has started his own consultancy in the hospitality sector, On Trade Consulting. Steinhofel had worked at the ALMR for eight years until November last year. He said: ‘’I look forward to starting this exciting chapter in my life, the ALMR gave me a great grounding in this vibrant sector and I want to build on that. I can also announce that I am working with Pub16, the dedicated trade show for the pub industry in the capacity of Pub16 ambassador.” Pub16 is taking place between 9-10 February at Olympia in London, the show is free to attend and registration is available by clicking here. On Trade Consulting will focus on creating a bespoke service for clients and full details of its services can be found at www.ontradeconsulting.com
 
Jimmy’s Farm to supply sausages to Shake Shack: Jimmy’s Farm is to supply its Cumberland-style sausages to Shake Shack UK. Shake Shack culinary director Mark Rosati said: “We couldn’t be more excited to work with Jimmy’s Farm. We’ve long admired their commitment to crafting delicious, high-quality sausages made from free-range and rare breed pork.” Owner of Jimmy’s Farm, Jimmy Doherty, added: “Jimmy’s Farm are so proud to be supplying Shake Shack. It’s a very cool brand, who take fine casual dining to a different level of quality and we’re really excited to see our name on their menu. We’re producing our delicious Cumberland-style sausages, made from our very own free-range, rare-breed pork.”
 
Marston’s to build 180-seater pub and restaurant in Skelmersdale: Marston’s plans for a 180-seater pub and restaurant in Skelmersdale have been granted permission by West Lancashire Council’s planning committee. The pub will be built in Ingram, Birch Green, on a site currently being used as an overspill car park for Asda. Marston’s said it wants to build a traditional-looking pub that will support 40 to 50 full-time jobs. A planning application has also been approved for a car park and a three-bedroom manager’s flat. There will be a covered terrace and a children’s play area at the front of the pub. Marston’s said the aim of the pub is to “provide eating and drinking facilities for all age groups of the local communities, including families with children”.
 
Papa John’s to enter Spanish market by opening more than 100 restaurants in Madrid: Papa John’s announced the signing of a development agreement yesterday (Tuesday, 19 January) to open more than 100 restaurants in and around Madrid as it enters into the Spanish market. PJ Espana Pizzerias, a fully owned subsidiary of Drake Enterprises and owner of the Papa John’s franchise in Chile, is the master franchisee for the agreement. The first unit is set to open in the second quarter of 2016. The entry into Spain continues Papa John’s strategy of business development in Europe. Papa John’s already has more than 300 restaurants in the UK and recently announced plans to open in north east France. The company said it was seeking potential franchisees in other areas of France, as well as Poland, Czech Republic and Belgium. Jose Maria Fernandez will lead the operation for PJ Espana Pizzerias. 
 
Just Eat boosts marketing line-up with Carter hire: Online food ordering firm Just Eat has hired Ben Carter as UK marketing director, reporting to global chief marketing officer Barnaby Dawe. Carter was formerly global chief marketing officer of retail site notonthehighstreet and prior to that worked at Betfair and Setanta Sports. Carter said: “Just Eat has high and positive consumer awareness, both as a food utility service and a food destination. As UK marketing director, I will be looking to build on this by establishing Just Eat as a true storytelling brand, whether it’s for our customers or the thousands of restaurant partners – many of whom are able to thrive in a highly competitive restaurant marketplace thanks to the scale, breadth and huge range of benefits offered by Just Eat.”
 
Rum & Crab Shack reveals details of Exeter city centre opening: St Ives-based Rum & Crab Shack, which has proved a major success in Cornwall, has revealed the details of its new site in Exeter city centre for its expansion into Devon. Creating 23 jobs, the seafood bar and restaurant will move into the Gourmandine Creperie and Bistro site in Catherine Street. The Rum & Crab Shack serves a predominantly Louisiana-style seafood menu and almost 40 rums, including Dead Man’s Fingers, a spiced rum invented by the restaurant’s co-founders Neythan Hayes and Chris McGuire. Alongside the rums, the restaurant will also serve a range of guest cask ales and bottled Cornish and imported beers. According to the planning proposals, the restaurant would open from 8am to midnight. A spokesman for the restaurant told the Exeter Express & Echo: “The Rum & Crab shack will offer a great atmosphere, superb drinks and lots of good food.”
 
Full speaker programme for Propel Multi Club Conference on 16 March unveiled: The full speaker programme for the Propel Multi Club Conference on Wednesday, 16 March at Congress Hall, London, has been unveiled. Multi-site pub, restaurant and foodservice operators can book up to two free places by emailing Adam Dickinson on adam.dickinson@propelinfo.com. The conference series is the best-attended in the sector. Speakers are: Nicola Knight, analyst at insights firm Horizons, investigates the key trends in the UK foodservice market, including major menu trends, growth areas and discounting – and looks ahead to the key trends of 2016 and beyond. Adrian Blair, chief operating officer for Just Eat, provides an overview of the company’s role in the takeaway market, current key trends and future potential for operators to develop revenue. Steve Kenee, partner at investment firm Downing, talks about the firm’s long-term investment partnership with Antic London, developing an estate of more than 30 London pubs, the businesses USPs, the risks and rewards of operating near the leading edge of urban regeneration and the development of non-licenced premises. David Singleton, vice-president of hospitality for Al Tayer Group, provides an overview of the foodservice landscape in the United Arab Emirates, the brands that are winning, the potential for UK brands and his company’s approach to growing sales. Punch Taverns chief strategy director Neil Griffiths outlines the company’s evolved strategy, involving as much as £300m of investment over five years, developing operator and trading agreements, expanding its fledgling concepts and brands, taking greater control of its retail offer and realising additional value from its property portfolio. Simon King, managing director of Burger & Lobster, talks about the progress of Burger & Lobster in London and elsewhere, the unique thinking and philosophy behind the brand, sourcing quality ingredients, recruiting and training staff, evolving the offer, expanding outside of London and international prospects. Phil Sermon, managing director of Vapiano, talks about progress in the UK as well as the company’s fresh approach to recruitment, training and development of its people and interaction with its guests. David Mooney, co-founder of New Moon Pub Company, arguably the UK’s most versatile food pub operator, talks about the company’s approach at country and city pubs, its Beef and Pudding concept, New York-influenced The Bronx brand, its pizza concept Casa Matta, evolution and future plans. Roberto Morretti, managing director of Bill’s, talks to Elliotts managing director James Hacon about the brand’s USPs, trading all-day, developing a retail dimension and staying true to the brand founder’s vision. Henry Dimbleby and Jonathan Downey, co-founders of London Union, set out their progress in creating neighbourhood food markets based on experiential food discovery, crowdfunding, their plans to create the world’s greatest food market and the development of 12 London neighbourhood markets.
 
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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