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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Fri 4th Mar 2016 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

HVS – UK strongest driver as record €23.7bn spent on hotel purchases in Europe: The UK was the strongest driver as a record €23.7bn was spent on hotel purchases in Europe in 2015, an increase of 66% on the previous year. According to the annual European Hotel Transactions report by global hotel consultancy HVS, the UK accounted for 48% of total volume, with London seeing 63% of all single asset transactions. Significant deals in the capital during 2015 included the sale of the Ace hotel London Shoreditch by Starwood Capital for €206m (€800,000 per room), the sale of the Holiday Inn London Kensington Forum for €540m (€596,000 per room), and the purchase of the St Ermin’s hotel by the Chen family’s Sunrider International for €213m (€700,000 per room). The year outperformed pre-downturn levels driven by an extremely active portfolio transactions market. Investors from Europe accounted for €10.9bn-worth of transactions with activity from the Middle East up 140% to €4.4bn, and from North America up 46% to €5.5bn. Report co-author and HVS associate Dayk Balyozyan said: “Investors were attracted by continued revpar growth in hotels across most major European markets while the opportunity to achieve higher investment yields than other property types kept hotels an attractive investment class.” Of the €23.7bn spent on hotels, portfolio volume accounted for €14.6bn, more than double that of 2014, while single asset volume reached €9.1bn, a 21% increase on the previous year. The report said given the UK’s recent dominance within the European transaction landscape, attention this year is likely to shift to other markets such as Germany, France and Benelux.
 

Industry News:

Readers sign up to Propel Premium service: Operators, drinks companies, law firms, accountants, distributors and marketing firms are among the first companies that have signed up to receive the Propel Premium subscription service, which launched on Tuesday (1 March). The current free service to all existing readers remains the same, but readers can opt to upgrade to receive the Propel Premium service. Propel Premium subscribers will be able to receive the Morning Newsletter, which is sent at 6.30am each weekday, 12 hours earlier at 6.30pm the day before. Subscribers will also receive a copy of the Propel database of 500 multi-site companies, which will be updated every six months, and receive a digital version of Propel Quarterly magazine a week before publication. For operators, annual subscription costs £345 plus VAT per year, with an extra £50 per additional subscriber at each company. For suppliers, annual subscription costs £445 plus VAT, with an extra £50 per additional subscriber at each company. To subscribe to the Propel Premium service, email adam.dickinson@propelinfo.com

KFC unveils new city centre restaurant design as it makes Newcastle return, first to showcase ‘hook-on’ menu boards: KFC will unveil a new design for its UK restaurants as it makes its return to Newcastle city centre after a two-year absence. The company is opening its new venue next to Whitbread-owned Costa Coffee in Northumberland Street on Saturday (5 March), which will feature an “arty” new look. It is the first KFC in the UK to have the new city centre design. The famous Colonel logo will be the focal point but inside the idea has been to create a contemporary, friendly and informal atmosphere. There will be bar stool seating, new colours and materials and bright artwork. Besides the familiar chicken on the bone dishes, there will be new additions to the menu including lighter options such as burritos and “riceboxes” in recognition of healthier food trends. A KFC spokeswoman told Chronicle Live: “The restaurant will be the first KFC in the country to feature the latest restaurant design, which has been created especially for bustling city centre locations like this one. The restaurant will also be the first KFC nationwide to showcase ‘hook-on’ menu boards near the entrance to inspire customers to make their selections before arriving at the counter.” KFC closed its last city centre branch at the top of the Bigg Market in 2014. Until now the only remaining Newcastle outlets have been drive-thru branches in Cowgate and Byker.
 
Luke Johnson among new IFB2016 ambassadors: Sector investor Luke Johnson is among a group of innovators, investors and leaders from world-renowned brands that have given their support to the International Festival for Business 2016 (IFB2016). This new cohort of ambassadors for IFB2016, taking place in Liverpool later this year, covers technology, venture capital investment and enterprise, reflecting Britain’s international appeal in these areas. They include: Eileen Burbidge, partner, Passion Capital and chair of TechCity UK and Paul Lindley, founder and chairman, Ella’s Kitchen. Max Steinberg, chairman of IFB2016, said: “The calibre of business leaders supporting the International Festival for Business 2016 is testament to the widely anticipated impact of what will undoubtedly be the greatest global business showcase of the year. Our ambassadors have unrivaled business success records and will play a crucial role in championing the benefits of international commerce as well as ensuring the legacy and impact of the IFB2016.”
 
Agent Bruton Knowles – ‘maturing’ of food offer on high street is making some marginal sites ‘redundant’ for restaurant use: Agent Bruton Knowles has said the “maturing” of the food offer on the high street is making some marginal sites “redundant” for restaurant use. The company has just let the former Chinese buffet restaurant Big Wok in Lincoln to a children’s indoor play operator, which it said reflected the change. The 5,000 square foot unit in Beaumont Fee is close to the High Street and the University of Lincoln campus. Bruton Knowles associate Sam Spencer told Propel: “It’s symptomatic of the changes in the high street, when the food offering matures and renders some marginal sites ‘redundant’ for restaurant use.”
 
JD Wetherspoon chairman reignites feud with Daily Mail’s City editor over ‘fine aroma of stale beer and urine’ comments: JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin has reignited his feud with the Daily Mail’s City editor Alex Brummer, who claimed the pub company’s customers receive “coffee served with the fine aroma of stale beer and urine by workers on zero-hours contracts”. Responding to a customer’s letter in the spring edition of Wetherspoon News, Martin said Brummer’s comments were “disgraceful and disgusting” and he was not “man enough” to apologise or retract the statement. Customer Peter Willmott wrote: “Dear Tim. Invite Alex Brummer for breakfast and coffee at a Wetherspoon pub. I can assure the Daily Mail’s City editor that I have never encountered his stated ‘fine aroma of stale beer and urine’ when enjoying a coffee in Wetherspoon. ‘When Tim met Alex’ would make an excellent feature in the Daily Mail. I like you, Tim; I like Wetherspoon; I also like Alex Brummer and the Mail. You write that ‘Brummer is a ‘competent journalist’. He’s better than that. His viewpoint is a higher-strength version, like a pint of Exmoor Gold Export. Paninis at dawn may be the only way to settle your gentleman’s dispute. Such fun.” In response, Martin said: “I can only assume that you have been sampling Exmoor Gold before writing this note. Brummer said what he did, which is disgraceful and disgusting. He has had every opportunity to apologise for, or even retract, what he said, but is not man enough to do so. We have no differences to settle over breakfast, as you suggest. Brummer should just apologise to our staff and customers.” Brummer wrote his comments following the publication of JD Wetherspoon’s half-year results in 2015.
 
East London’s ‘biggest’ street food market banned from selling alcohol: East London’s “biggest” street food market has been fined £25,000 and banned from selling alcohol after allegedly making neighbours’ lives a misery. Pump Shoreditch, which describes itself as east London’s “biggest and best street food market”, has been a popular late-night hangout since opening in the former Texaco petrol station in Shoreditch High Street in May 2014. But the venue, which has 11 food huts and a bar, has now been ordered to stop serving drinks after a court ruled it did not have the proper licence. Drinks were sold inside the former petrol station shop, which was only licensed for off-sales, and then consumed in the courtyard. Hackney Council eventually revoked the licence – and Thames Magistrates’ Court has now upheld that decision after the business appealed. District judge Angus Hamilton said the venue had “clearly demonstrated contempt for the laws and regulations that govern the transformation of a petrol station and minimarket into a bar and eating place, selling up to £5,000-worth of alcohol a day”.
 
Research finds moderate drinking creates no threat of heart attack or stroke: Having up to six alcoholic drinks a week does not pose a long-term risk of heart attack or stroke, according to a Harvard study. The research follows tough new drinking guidelines from the chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies, who said drinking “any level of alcohol regularly carries a health risk”. While drinking alcohol is linked with an immediate higher risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke, the danger wears off after 24 hours for those who enjoy an odd glass or two, the study found. Within one to three hours, drinking alcohol increases heart rate and disrupts the heart’s normal pacing. But by 24 hours, moderate alcohol intake improves blood flow, blood vessels’ lining function and reduces clotting. This in turn was linked to a lower risk of having a heart attack or stroke from bleeds and within the week was associated with a lower risk of strokes from clots. But heavy drinking – when men consumed 15 or more drinks per week and women more than eight drinks – was associated with higher heart attack and stroke risks at all times. It found six to nine drinks in a week nearly doubled the risk and 19 to 30 drinks in a week elevated the risk by up to six times more.

Whitbread shares droop after Costa slowdown: Shares in Whitbread fell 3% after a sudden slowdown in growth at Costa in the past 11 weeks sparked fears growth at the country’s biggest coffee chain may have peaked. Sales from Costa stores that have been open at least a year grew by 0.5% in the last 11 weeks against growth of 3.7% in the first 40 weeks of the financial year. Finance director Nicholas Cadbury said: “Some of our stores are so full that it’s difficult to find a seat in them. The coffee market is more competitive but if you include our new openings we still grew at 14% for the year. We still have a long way to go to catch up with our continental neighbours who drink twice as much coffee as we do.”

Company News:

Liz Phillips departs Mitchells & Butlers to take post as interim human resources director at Krispy Kreme: Liz Phillips has left Mitchells and Butlers, where she was director of resourcing and employee relations, to take the post of interim human resources director at Krispy Kreme. Phillips has also worked at Orchid Group and Six Continents. Krispy Kreme has reported pre-tax profit surged to £7,274,000 in the UK in the year to 1 February 2015, up from £3,166,000 the year before. Turnover was stable at £52,192,000 compared to £52,393,000 the year before – store numbers were static at 50. Adjusted Ebitda before exceptional costs was £10,281,000 (19.7% of sales), compared with £9,419,000 (18% of sales) in the previous year.
 
Barclays Bank faces £6.87m shortfall in wake of Utopian Leisure administration: Barclays Bank faces a shortfall of £6.87m on the £7.285m it was owed by north east nightclub and restaurant operator Utopian Leisure, which was led by sector veteran Bob Senior. Administrator Deloitte has reported the assets of Utopian were sold to Hot Buddha and Ulysses Leisure in a pre-pack administration for £512,000. Barclays was paid £415,000, leaving the £6.87m shortfall. A Companies House report states: “The administrators submitted a return on the conduct of the director to the Insolvency Service on 18 March 2015 – this return is confidential and the contents will not be disclosed to creditors.” Unsecured creditors will receive nothing and Barclays receipts amount to 5.69p in the pound. The administration is now complete and the company will now be dissolved.
 
Pierre Koffmann protege and former Young National Chef of the Year Ben Murphy launches first restaurant: Former Young National Chef of the Year Ben Murphy, who worked for the renowned Pierre Koffmann at the Berkeley, has launched his first restaurant. Murphy has opened the 100-cover The Woodford, in South Woodford, Greater London. Backed by Essex-based restaurateur Steve Andrews, the site spans two floors, with a dedicated oyster and seafood bar. Dishes include lamb with aubergine and toasted peanut, with desserts such as olive oil cake with lemon thyme sorbet and buttermilk. The team also uses a variety of long-aged meats. The a la carte menu includes signature dishes such as hay-smoked pigeon breast, confit egg yolk and burnt brown bread consommé and the venue also serves a dedicated grill offering. Murphy, 25, worked at the Berkeley for three years before moving to France to work at two, three Michelin-starred restaurants – Michel Guerard’s Les Pres d’Eugenie in south west France and Epicure at Le Bristol in Paris, working under Eric Fréchon. He won the Young National Chef of the Year title in 2013 and appeared on BBC2’s Chefs on Trial. He returned to London to work at The Greenhouse in Mayfair, which holds two Michelin stars.
 
Fuller’s reopens Bridport hotel home to original Stable restaurant following ‘extensive’ refurbishment: Brewer and pub retailer Fuller’s has reopened The Bull in Bridport, Dorset, following a “significant” refurbishment. The company has completely revamped the East Street boutique hotel during the eight-week closure, which has the original Stable pizza and cider restaurant attached to the site. Every room of the hotel has been refurbished including The Venner Bar, which has a new look to give it the “added feel of glamour and charm found in the very best cocktail bars while remaining an intimate, cosy venue”. The new restaurant menu, created by head chef George Marsh, features fresh, homemade food with seasonal ingredients from local suppliers. Meanwhile, the attached Stable restaurant, which remained open throughout the refurbishment, will continue to serve original Italian classics with a handpicked selection of ciders made both locally and further afield. Fuller’s head of hotels Mark Fulton said: “The Bull Hotel is a unique site with a fascinating history and this refurbishment has breathed fresh life into this historic hotel. This investment has been in keeping with the site’s heritage, the familiarity is charming and welcoming, yet the modern upgrades and the added luxurious touches will further enhance the customer experience. It is exciting to play a part in the next phase of The Bull’s story and we look forward to welcoming customers, once again.”
 
Sarah Barber launches London’s first dessert restaurant – at Hotel Cafe Royal: Hotel Cafe Royal’s executive pastry chef Sarah Barber opened London’s first dessert restaurant on Thursday (3 March). The Cafe at Hotel Cafe Royal in Regent Street offers three dessert tasting menus from 6pm to 10.30pm and swaps the traditional starter and main for several courses of sweet treats – each with a wine pairing. Barber, former head pastry chef at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, told the Evening Standard: “Desserts have been big news and have got huge in the past five years. There is a massive gap in the market here in London for any decent places to get dessert. In many top restaurants, dessert is an afterthought – it is never the reason you go there. Here, cake is at the forefront and all of the dishes are light so you can eat more of them.” Dishes on the five-course Sarah In Wonderland menu include Queen of Hearts, with raspberries, Champagne and roses, and Eat Me, Drink Me (Snickers with chocolate malt shake). The three-course Childhood Memories menu includes Barber’s take on favourites such as rhubarb and custard, while the Pick N Mix allows guests to choose four dishes from across the menu. Barber said: “For most people they are happiest when they are reliving childhood memories, so I have used that as an inspiration.”

YO! Sushi set to roll-out new 100-dish menu: YO! Sushi is rolling out a 100-dish new menu across all sites on Tuesday (8 March). Group executive chef Mike Lewis said: “I’m really excited about this new menu – it hosts a bigger range of species than we have ever had before and it really celebrates all the different food we have available, from sushi and salads to desserts and also hot food. Everything on this menu has been inspired directly from my research trips to Japan – when I visited in 2014 I tried an amazing Chazuke again and have since been trying to develop a recipe that works for us to finally have it on the menu. Four months ago, I tried some of the best chicken wings in Nagoya that made me realise we should have them on our menu, sitting proudly alongside the Tuna Katsu I ate in the outer Tsujuki fish market.” New dishes added to the menu include okonomiyaki (a Japanese savoury cabbage based pancake), buta no kakuni (Japanese braised pork belly), octopus and mackerel sushi, and a matcha swiss roll.
 
New owner of Kentish Town pub plans to add backpacker-style hostel: The new owner of the Lord Southampton pub in Kentish Town, north London, is planning to add a backpacker-style hostel to the site. No Limit Hostels, which has sites in Spain, Cuba and Puerto Rico, has acquired the Southampton Road venue for its first venture in London. It said it would keep the pub pretty much the same except for the conversion of rooms upstairs into a backpacker-style hostel with 46 beds. Manager Marie Hanks told the Camden New Journal: “We will not be serving any fancy new beers or ales from microbreweries. We’ll just keep our best-selling lagers. We won’t serve food, either. There isn’t the room. Having a hostel upstairs will bring new life into the building and help us maintain a traditional pub. Otherwise the Lord Southampton may not have survived in five or ten years’ time.”
 
City Pub Company buys Hayling Island pub for £1.5m: Agent Savills, on behalf of a private vendor, has sold the Inn on the Beach on Hayling Island in Hampshire to the City Pub Company for £1.5m. The property was sold as going concern with all staff transferring under employment regulations. Located directly on the beachfront in South Hayling, the Inn on the Beach is a detached two-storey property with multiple trading areas including seating inside for 150 covers and a substantial 3,000 square foot (279 square metre) beach facing trading patio. Adam Bullas, director in the Savills licensed leisure team, said: “We’re pleased to have secured the sale of the iconic Inn on the Beach, which has become a year round destination on Hayling Island. We are seeing strong interest in pubs on the south coast and expect values for the best assets to continue to grow.” 
 
Starbucks becomes first high street chain to back more parent-friendly approach by signing up to NCT campaign: Starbucks has promised to support mothers with young children using its 800 UK outlets, making it the first high street chain to back a more parent-friendly approach. The company has signed up to a campaign by the National Childbirth Trust (NCT) to encourage businesses to do more to help those feeding children, whether by breast, bottle or high chair. Baristas have been given training in understanding the needs of parents with young children or babies and in how to support them “without judgment”. Vice-president of operations for Starbucks EMEA Rhys Iley told The Guardian: “We recognise that parents out on their own with very young children, sometimes for the first time, appreciate some support. Our collaboration with NCT and its members builds on our existing customer service principles and through working with NCT we have already refreshed our training and improved our facilities. We hope parents of young children visiting our stores will let us know, there and then, if there is anything we can do to improve their experience.” 
 
Simon French – Whitbread’s trading update is disappointing: Cenkos Securities leisure analyst has described Whitbread’s trading update as “disappointing”. Issuing a ‘Buy’ recommendation regardless, with a 4,049p share price target, he said: “Whitbread has reported another disappointing trading update with Premier Inn revpar (driven by London -3.6%) and Costa like-for-like sales of +0.5% (driven by lower footfall and warm weather despite price increases in January) below expectations. Restaurants performed well with like-for-like sales growth of 2.3%, ahead of expectations and the market and the group appears to continue to tightly control costs as it expects to report FY profit in line with expectations (£537m profit before tax, Cenkos £544m). The group will invest £15m in the year ahead so combined with weak exit rates we expect 2-3% downgrades to FY2017 forecasts of £597m. The stock trades on a current yield 2016E price-earnings ratio of 15.8x pre-downgrades so is not expensive relative to hotel and restaurant peers but the group has lost momentum and its premium rating evaporated as the market has lost confidence in the execution. However we reiterate our ‘Buy’ recommendation given the market leading positions and still robust Regional revpar growth of 1.5% and strong restaurants trading, together circa 50% group profit before tax and are encouraged by the group’s disclosure that it will carry out a sale and leaseback transaction during FY2017 to demonstrate the value it has created through its freehold development programme.”
 
BrewDog bars to accept grapefruit for payment for launch of new beer: BrewDog bars are to accept grapefruits as currency to mark the launch of the brewer’s new IPA, which is infused with the fruit. Customers will be able to swap a single grapefruit for a half-pint of the zesty American-style, Elvis Juice, at the group’s 28 bars around the UK from Friday (4 March). BrewDog will send the grapefruits to its brewery to be used in the next batch. The offer, which goes live at 6pm on Friday, will be limited to one beer per grapefruit-wielding customer. Elvis Juice is the second new beer to be launched by BrewDog since the start of 2016. It follows Jet Black Heart, an imperial stout that launched last month with a parody of the iconic Guinness advert, Tick Follows Tock. James Watt, co-founder of BrewDog, said: “Elvis Juice is full-throttle, pummelling punchy fruit flavours to the fore, and is set to headline over the summer months. This beer is absolutely dominated by grapefruit, and we wanted to give beer fans the heads up on its arrival by crowdsourcing the ingredients for the next brew day – by swapping a grapefruit for a taste of the hoppy action.”
 
Byron to open new restaurant in Salisbury on Saturday: Upmarket burger brand Byron will open a new site in Salisbury, Wiltshire, on Saturday (5 March). The company is launching the restaurant at the Old George Mall shopping centre, creating 35 jobs. The restaurant’s design has been inspired by the historic 19th century Spread Eagle Inn with the interiors featuring warm woodwork, rich colours, vintage and bespoke fittings and furniture and an open kitchen. Byron’s founder Tom Byng said: “We’re looking forward to bringing our love of proper hamburgers to such a charming and historic city – we’ve really enjoyed designing a restaurant that reflects Salisbury’s history and tradition’s but with a proper Byron twist. I can’t wait to welcome Salisbury’s burger lovers through the doors.” Old George Mall manager Jon Osgood added: “It’s great to welcome another prestige addition to the offer at the Old George Mall and it is a testament to the investment which has been made here which, along with our high footfall, has made us a very popular location. We have an excellent food offer now and a really good mix of stores and that is what attracts shoppers so there’s a very positive picture for the future.” Byron announced ambitious plans to open at least ten new restaurants a year after it was acquired by Hutton Collins Partners in 2013 for £100m.
 
New pie restaurant concept opens in Forest Gate: A new pie restaurant concept has opened in Forest Gate, east London. Sonny Sanger, Shaidul Hussain, and Siraj Patel have launched Pie Republic in Upton Lane. The pies on the menu include the Royal Victoria – British chicken and creamy mushrooms, and the Hakka – New Zealand lamb and vegetables. Sangar told the Newham Recorder: “There’s a market for pie shops here, but we wanted to bring it into the modern-day. We thought ‘Why not have a go at making homemade pies, but with flavours that reflect the area?’ We’ve got a real mix of backgrounds and cultures in Newham, so we’ve got Indian flavours, Caribbean flavours, and eastern European flavours too.”
 
Maclay Inns fined £100,000 after firefighters’ fatal fall into basement: Maclay Inns, the Scottish pub company has that went into administration last year, has been fined £100,000 for failing to padlock a gate to a basement, leading to the death of a firefighter. The company appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Thursday to admit failings under the Health and Safety Act following Alan Brown’s death at Bert’s Bar in 2014, reports STV. The company admitted it had failed to ensure staff were aware of the importance of a gate at the William Street premises, which was used to allow access to a keg hoist leading to the basement, being secured with a padlock. Investigations revealed the need to secure the gate had been “forgotten about” and it had been routine for it not to be locked since April 2012. Sheriff Kenneth Maciver QC fined the firm £100,000, reducing the sum from £150,000 due to its early guilty plea. He acknowledged the health and safety breach had not been deliberate but said: “Nevertheless it is a case where there had been, over a number of years, a serious and obviously dangerous omission where the practice of padlocking the gate had been ignored by laziness and inattention. It was an accident waiting to happen.” Watch manager Brown, who was off duty at the time of the incident, died after falling through the gate into the basement in the early hours of April 4, 2014. Maclay Inns, which had no previous convictions, went into administration on January 23 last year. The administrators estimated about £700,000 might be available for creditors.
 
Simon French – we’d sell Domino’s shares to lock-in recent gains in share price: Cenkos Securities leisure analyst Simon French has issued a ‘Sell’ note on Domino’s shares, advising investors to “lock-in” recent gains. He said: “Domino’s Pizza Group (DPG) has this morning announced final results for 2015 in a year that has seen the business continue to make substantial progress both operationally and financially. Group system sales increased by 15.8% to £877m while core UK like-for-like sales increased by 11.7% with growth further supported by an ambitious store roll-out programme that saw a record 61 new stores opened. Adjusted pre-tax profits increased by 16.6% to £73.2m – ahead of £68.2m forecast and above the consensus of £71.0m. Adjusted earnings per share also surpassed expectations, increasing by 19.4% to 35.7p – ahead of our 33.2p forecast. The dividend was raised 18.6% to 20.25p – below our forecast of 22.2p. The business continues to benefit from a favourable consumer economy and growing disposable income driving increased spend in the UK takeaway market. Furthermore, DPG is improving share both through increased brand penetration and awareness funded from increased marketing and promotion along with further expansion of the store portfolio helping reach a wider catchment area of consumers. The continued push to generate orders from e-commerce rather than via the telephone continues apace with 77.7% of all delivered sales now generated through via e-commerce and importantly 48.6% of these orders coming via the Domino’s Pizza app – albeit this is still less than the 66%of orders Just Eat generated in 2015 through its apps. The business has also readdressed its struggling German operation during 2015, transferring ownership into a joint venture that should help reduce operating complexity and bring in additional local expertise. On balance, 2015 has been another very successful year for DPG and the growth prospects continue to look favourable supported by the resumption of share buy-backs. That said, despite this and the forward EV/Ebitda rating around 20x at DPG we believe Just Eat offers investors a better profile of reward relative to valuation and we continue to recommend investors lock-in gains in DPG following the share’s recent good run.”
 
Viva Brazil wins Birmingham go-ahead: A planning application by an award-winning Brazilian restaurant chain to transform a property on Bennetts Hill into its latest venue has been approved by Birmingham City Council planners. Viva Brazil revealed in July 2015 it would be launching the Birmingham branch, its fifth in the UK, as part of a £1.2m investment. The move is expected to create 40 jobs. The restaurant will be located in a grade II-listed building in Bennetts Hill at the corner of Waterloo Street. New documents revealed the application for change of use and internal alterations was approved on Wednesday (2 March), subject to the submission of extraction and odour control details and work begins within three years. Viva Brazil serves food in an all-you-can-eat Rodízio style, with more than 15 meats on offer. The group was founded by Andy Aldrich in Liverpool in 2010 and also has restaurants in Glasgow, Cardiff and Newcastle.
 
Multi-siter Hamblin to launch new gin bar concept: Multi-site operator Stephanie Hamblin is to open a new gin bar concept in Market Harborough next Friday (11 March). Gin & Fizz, located above The Waterfront off Leicester Road, will serve a range of speciality gins supplied by Leicestershire producer Burleighs as well as cocktails. Hamblin, who also owns The Waterfront and Foxton Locks Inn, said: “We are very excited to be bringing the first gin bar to the town. Gin has become a hugely popular and hip drink over the past couple of years, and there is a real demand for high quality gin based drinks. We are also delighted to be stocking Burleighs Gin, which is made nearby and is a brand highly respected by gin connoisseurs.” Gin & Fizz will be open from 5pm on Wednesdays to Saturdays.
 
Charles Wells awarded renewal of UK sales and distribution rights for Estrella Damm: Charles Wells and Damm have signed an extension to their contract, which sees the Bedford brewer retain sales and distribution rights for the flagship Spanish beer, Estrella Damm. The partnership was first formed in 2009 and sales of Estrella Damm, titled the Beer of Barcelona, have increased 1,100% in the UK under Charles Wells’ management. The contract sees Charles Wells retain marketing and sales responsibility for Estrella Damm in the UK on an exclusive basis, remaining custodians of the brand and continuing to cement its premium positioning for a further five years. The beer is a leading brand in the world lager category and the two companies will continue to work closely together to secure distribution that supports and boosts its premium status. Justin Phillimore, chief executive of Charles Wells, said “Estrella Damm is a wonderful premium Mediterranean lager rooted in its Barcelona heritage and its light, pilsner style is proving irresistible to a growing consumer base. It drives good cash margin for upmarket outlets and, as the fastest growing premium world lager in the UK, offers compelling profit potential for retailers.”
 
French and Italian restaurant concept Melange eyes Kentish Town for third site: Melange, a restaurant concept serving French and Italian food, is eyeing up its third site in Kentish Town, north London. The company, which has sites in Crouch End and Barnet, is set to open in Kentish Town Road on the former Yazmina cafe site if Camden Council grants permission for work on the property. Paperwork submitted with the application said Melange was a potential tenant but it was “essential” a kitchen extraction unit is installed first, and the “outdated and old” shopfront is refurbished, reports the New Camden Journal. The application added: “Granting the applicant the consent would mean that a tenant with a good reputation will occupy the premises, not only improving the building, but also improving the overall area’s look and feel.”
 
Hotel Management Company launched by industry veterans: The Hotel Management Company has been formally launched at Hotelympia. The Hotel Management Company is a new venture in the hotel management and asset management arena headed by a number of the hotel industry’s most influential and experienced leaders including Jeremy Logie OBE (chairman), Roddy Watt (chief executive), Alan Murray (chief financial officer), Charles Prew, Peter Lederer CBE and Jill Chalmers. Logie said: “We are delighted to announce the launch of The Hotel Management Company. Together with a number of industry colleagues, we have identified an opportunity to provide practical, personalised and professional management services to owners and investors in the hotel sector. We have a particular focus on high net worth owners and investors who have a desire to invest in but not operate hotels as well as banks, real estate houses and other financial institutions. With the support of The Buell Group, which provides unrivalled access to high quality advisory and service partner companies, we offer a truly unique combination of knowledge, expertise and resource.”
 
Pickled Radish opens second restaurant in Wales: The owner of The Pickled Radish in Bridgend has opened a second venue – in the Cardiff suburb of Llandaff. Nick Collins has started expanding the concept by launching the venue in the High Street on the site of the former Mulberry Street restaurant. The food is locally sourced and has a constantly changing seasonal menu. Every breakfast dish, except the vegetarian option, contains bacon. Collins told Wales Online: “We don’t want to be in the city centre, we want to be a destination restaurant. It was very important for us to open in an area that suits our style. We feel that we’re going to be very different to what’s on offer in Cardiff.” Collins opened the first Pickled Radish last May.
 
Muffin Break unveils expanded breakfast range: National artisan bakery chain Muffin Break, is set to expand its breakfast offering in stores nationwide from Monday, 21 March, with the launch of a new breakfast range. The range will include a nutritious breakfast smoothie and three non-vegetarian options: bacon and egg roll, breakfast burrito and breakfast scroll. Two choices for vegetarians will also be on offer: the vegetarian breakfast burrito and vegetarian breakfast scroll. Muffin Break marketing manager Gemma Sandells said: “At Muffin Break we are constantly looking to expand our ranges, to continue to satisfy and delight our customers and ensure that we stay competitive in our market. The new breakfast range is designed to keep our customers energised throughout the day and adds fresh flavour combinations to our menu. It is very much on trend with current consumer demand.”
 
Harrogate’s £10m restaurant and cinema complex set for May openings: Harrogate’s £10m restaurant and cinema complex at the former Beales department store is expected to be completed by April, ready for openings the following month. Restaurants confirmed for the complex in Albert Street include Azzurri Group-owned ASK Italian, YO! Sushi and Argentinian-inspired restaurant brand CAU, which is owned by Gaucho. However, the five-screen, three-storey cinema will not open until September. Paul Lancaster, of developers 4Urban Consulting, said completion of the development was scheduled for Monday, 18 April. He told the Harrogate Advertiser: “We have given access to one of the restaurant tenants, CAU, to commence fit out and on this basis they will be trading by the end of May. We are also handing over to YO! Sushi and ASK on 21 March, with remaining tenants commencing their fit out on practical completion.”
 
Britain’s first vegan tapas restaurant to double in size: Rootcandi, the country’s first vegan tapas restaurant based in Brighton, is doubling in size by taking over its award-winning sister restaurant Iydea. Rootcandi was launched above Iydea’s venue in Western Road last summer. It will now take over the whole site, allowing it to double in size to 70 covers, with a new bar and menu, ready to reopen during Easter weekend. Iydea’s site in Kensington Gardens will remain open. The business launched a decade ago and won gold at the Brighton and Hove Food and Drinks Awards in 2014. Steve Billam, Rootcandi and Iydea founder, told The Argus: “Rootcandi has taken off and we need to expand. We are booked out three weeks in advance and turn away enough people to fill the whole building. It was always in the back of my mind that Rootcandi might take over the whole site if it went well. This is more about Iydea transforming into Rootcandi than Iydea closing.”
 
Friday Beer Co raises £174,000 as it completes crowdfunding offer: Brewer Friday Beer Co, founded by Gerald Williams, has completed its fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube. The company aimed to raise £150,000 and has now closed the campaign having raised £173,930 from 269 investors in return for a 25% equity stake. It was originally offering a 16.67% stake but increased the amount of equity at the first of three extensions to the campaign. The largest investment was £15,000. In its pitch, the company said it aspires to be the UK’s next “BrewDog style of business” and sees it expanding over the years towards “Friday” branded city-based bars with novel “beer tank” dispensing systems selling its premium ales.
 
Propel partners with Digital Blonde for Advanced Social Media Masterclass: Propel is partnering with digital marketing company Digital Blonde for the Advanced Social Media Masterclass, building on last year’s Social Media Masterclass with all-new content. The event takes place on Wednesday, 20 April at One Moorgate Place in London and will provide a comprehensive overview of how to make the best use of social media. Digital Blonde founder Karen Fewell will share research into the importance of social media in customers’ lives as well as insight into the psychology of food and drink marketing in order to produce persuasive social media activity. The day will also include advice on using storytelling techniques to achieve stronger results in marketing and social media campaigns as well as how to use analytics to develop a social media strategy. There will also be a first-look at Digital Blonde’s “Love, Lust and Trust” research, which will unveil the best loved pub and bar brands and what can be learned from their social strategies. Tickets are £295 for Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers members and £345 for non-members and to book email adam.dickinson@propelinfo.com

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