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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Thu 17th Mar 2016 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day: 

Coffer Peach Tracker – pace of restaurant openings slows as growth flattens: Managed pub and restaurant groups saw sales growth flatten in February, reflecting a “growing sense in the market that 2016 will be a tougher year than last”. Latest figures from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker show a 0.0% like-for-like sales rate for February against the same period last year. London enjoyed the best trading of all regions during the month, with like-for-likes ahead 0.9%, against a 0.3% decline in the rest of the country. However, total sales for the month were up 3.2% year-on-year, driven by new openings outside the capital. Peter Martin, vice-president of CGA Peach, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker, in partnership with Coffer Group, RSM (formerly Baker Tilly) and UBS, said: “The numbers will be a disappointment for the sector, coming on the back of a bright start to the year, with January like-for-likes up 1.9%, but they reflect a growing sense in the market that 2016 will be a tougher year than last.” Total sales for the month among the 31 companies in the Tracker cohort were up 3.2% on 2015, reflecting the continuing impact of new openings and investment in sites, particularly among restaurant groups outside of London. “However, we are also seeing the rate of restaurant openings slow this year, as the market perhaps becomes a little more cautious,” added Martin. Greater London had the best of February’s trading, with like-for-likes ahead 0.9%, against a 0.3% decline in the rest of the country. Martin said: “This may be something to do with the school half-term holidays. Casual dining chains collectively also did better than the wider pub and bar market, with like-for-likes up 1.6% on February 2016 against a 0.8% fall for managed pubs. Our CGA Peach Business Leaders survey, carried out among 260 senior executives in January, shows confidence about the market still high, with 75% either optimistic or very optimistic. However, that is down on the 93% recorded this time last year.” The underlying annual trend shows sector like-for-likes running at 1.7% up for the 12 months to the end of February, with out of London just marginally ahead of the capital. Trevor Watson, executive director, valuations, at Davis Coffer Lyons, said: “The market continues to show ‘steady as she goes’ progress in terms of overall sales, with like-for-like figures being pegged back by the rate of new openings. In spite of insatiable operator demand for sites, the rate of new openings does appear to be slowing slightly, which is a trend we expect to see continue for much of 2016. Although consumer confidence is steady, we expect to see some business investment decisions held back until after the referendum, which could lead to increased corporate activity in quarter three and quarter four of 2016.” Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at RSM, said: “Although disappointing, it comes as no real surprise that the surge in supply and convergence across eating and drinking-out formats is now starting to slow growth and put downward pressure on like-for-like sales. Competition among operators is set to intensify and the winners will be those who can best balance site expansion with innovative menu development and competitive pricing.”

Industry News: 

Budget 2016 – ALMR sounds note of caution over sugary drinks tax, BBPA, BII & SIBA welcome beer duty freeze: The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) has sounded a note of caution on the introduction of a tax on sugary drinks as revealed in Wednesday’s (16 March) Budget and warned costs for retailers may increase as a result. The ALMR also welcomed, along with the British Pub & Beer Association (BBPA), steps to reduce business rates burdens for companies, but called for more decisive and meaningful action to reduce burdens for licensed hospitality. The government plans to introduce a sugar tax in 2018 charged to manufacturers. It will be charged on volumes according to total sugar content, with a main rate charge for drink above 5g of sugar per 100ml and a higher rate for those with more than 8g. The Chancellor also revealed business rates relief will be more than doubled – the thresholds will now be a maximum of £15,000 for full relief and £51,000 to be assessed as a small business. The average rateable value of a pub is just under £35,000. Beer, cider and spirits duty were all frozen with wine rising by inflation. ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “We need confirmation that the tax on sugary drinks will be a true levy on producers and not a sales tax that will increase costs for retailers. The Chancellor has indicated that there will be a consultation on its introduction and the ALMR will be looking to liaise with the government to ensure that additional costs are not passed on to pubs and bars. Extension of small business rate relief is a welcome first step in reducing rates burdens for businesses, but more needs to be done to address a system that currently sees pubs and bars paying 15 pence per pint in rates compared with about one penny per pint in supermarkets. Changes to the administration of rates have been a long time coming, and the ALMR has campaigned for a switch to the CPI rating, but we are still looking for the ‘once in a lifetime’, root and branch reform of business rates that continue to hamstring many businesses. A move to take the lowest paid out of income tax and the abolition of Class 2 National Insurance contributions will succeed in putting more money in the pockets of consumers, but we are still looking for decisive and meaningful reform that will cut costs for businesses and free up money for investment in jobs and growth.” The BBPA, British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) and the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) all welcomed the freeze on beer and cider duty. BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “This freeze means that beer duty is now 17% lower than it would have been, had the Chancellor stuck with the escalator policy. To achieve three cuts and a freeze from the Chancellor over four Budgets, shows a real commitment and concern for both brewing, an important manufacturing industry, and our nation’s pubs.” BII chairman Anthony Pender added: “We welcome any support the government is willing to give our industry. Whilst times remain challenging, moves such as this will help our members to run successful businesses that are at the heart of their communities and vital to employment and career progression.” SIBA managing director Mike Benner said: “The end of the duty escalator and three cuts in beer duty since 2013 have helped to revitalise British beer and around 300 new craft breweries have opened since 2013 bringing thousands of new local beers for consumers to enjoy. Our members are typically confident about the future of their businesses and this move will help reinforce that and encourage greater investment.”

UK pubs missing out on £333m because of poor-quality draught beer: Pub operators are losing out on a potential £333m profit on draught beer sales, according to a new report by Vianet and Cask Marque. The Beer Quality Report 2016, published on Wednesday (16 March), showed British pubs are missing out on an average profit of £6,416 per pub every year, due to beer quality issues impacting on pouring and till yields. The report stated operators were missing an extra £111m in pouring yield and a 2% improvement in till yield of £222m that could be gained by maximising the beer sold from each barrel. The research reveals that on inspection only 71% of beer lines are perfectly clean, which has a significant impact on pouring yields. Other key findings revealed there are too many beer taps on Britain’s bars – with pubs over ranging by an average five pumps; 60% of consumers would rather be offered a smaller range of beers served at better quality than have a bigger choice; 72% of consumers if served a poor quality beer in a pub would not drink it, complain and ask for a different product; and 87% of cask handpulls have a low throughput – dispensing less than 144 pints per week. The report combines data from an online survey of 2,145 consumers and Cask Marque’s annual visits to more than 22,000 pubs, plus Vianet’s devices that measure beer quality and waste management.

Boris Johnson orders six-month inquiry into London’s night-time economy as clubs close: London Mayor Boris Johnson has ordered a six-month inquiry into London’s night-time economy the day after the Office for National Statistics ejected nightclub entrance fees from its inflation basket due to club closures. The Night Time Commission will make recommendations on how to “protect and manage the night-time economy” and will start in the autumn, shortly after the launch of 24-hour weekend London Underground services. Britain’s night-time economy is thought to be worth £66bn a year, employing 1.3 million people. However, it has been estimated half of Britain’s nightclubs have shut during the past decade, including well-known names in London such as Vibe Bar in Brick Lane, Madame Jojo’s in Soho and Club Colosseum in Vauxhall. Johnson told the Evening Standard: “The night-time economy is hugely important to the prosperity and life of our city but there is insufficient oversight of the way it is managed and problems are mitigated. It’s brilliantly successful but night-time activities can be seen as causes of noise and nuisance, while businesses complain that rising property values, the need for housing, licensing requirements and red tape are damaging their operations, even leading to closures. If we are to compete against other world cities it is vital we develop policies to reconcile the needs and concerns.” The commission is expected to include representatives from Transport for London, the Metropolitan Police, businesses and local government. Its projected cost is £90,000.

Heathrow publishes UK’s first airport sustainable restaurant guide: Heathrow has published the UK’s first airport sustainable restaurant guide. Created in partnership with the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) and in collaboration with foodservice operators at the airport, the Ingredients for Success guide combines operators’ own sustainability goals with those of Responsible Heathrow 2020 – the airport’s plan to enhance “economic and social benefits of Heathrow in a sustainable way”. SRA founding director Simon Heppner told Airport Business: “The public’s appetite for a sustainable dining experience is increasing significantly – wherever they are eating out. So for Heathrow to put sustainability at the heart of the passenger experience is a very welcome and positive move.” Jonathan Coen, Heathrow Airport retail director, said: “Ingredients for Success is a call for action for the food and beverage retailers who wish to join our airport on its journey to become the world’s most sustainable hub airport.” The guide sets sustainability targets for all foodservice operators at the airport, including cutting energy use by 10% for every person served, implementing a systematic approach to saving water, and contributing to the airport’s efforts to recycle 70% of all food waste.

SIBA – global interest in UK independent craft beer at all-time high: British independent craft beer is in high demand on the global market, according to the UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) and the Society for Independent Brewers (SIBA). UKTI, the government department that helps UK companies succeed abroad and supports overseas companies wanting to invest in Britain, organised Meet the Buyer events at SIBA’s BeerX conference in Sheffield this week. It said British beer from small, independent craft-brewers had never been so popular, with almost 200 confirmed one-to-one appointments taking place between UK brewers and 26 international buyers from 13 different countries. SIBA managing director Mike Benner said: “British independent craft brewers are seizing the global demand for their flavoursome, unique beers with both hands and exporting in higher numbers than ever before.” Stephen Noblett, of UKTI Yorkshire and the Humber, who organised the export sessions, said: “The record-breaking attendance reflects recent research by UKTI which showed about 75% of food and drink exporters expected overseas sales to increase over the next quarter.” BeerX, which showcases beer from UK independent craft brewers, runs until Saturday (19 March). 

BT Sport launches referral commission scheme: BT Sport has launched a scheme where members can earn commission by referring potential customers for its television channels to its commercial division. BT Sport wants companies already delivering services to commercial premises such as pubs, clubs and hotels to join its Referrer Commission Scheme. Once a company joins, it can refer prospective commercial customers to BT Sport and receive commission if those customers sign up. BT Sport said there was no limit to how much members could earn from the scheme, with commission for each signed-up customer equivalent to one month’s subscription, excluding VAT. A company referring a 300-bedroom hotel that wanted to take BT Sport in its bedrooms and bars, for example, could earn more than £1,300 commission.

Liverpool ONE owners ‘relentless’ in getting to the bottom of mice problem as another restaurant closes: The owners of Liverpool ONE said they would be “relentless” in getting to the bottom of its mice problem after Thai Leisure Group-owned Chaophraya became the latest restaurant forced to close over hygiene issues. Chaophraya closed this week with a sign on the door blaming a “maintenance issue”. However, the Liverpool Echo reports the real reason for its voluntary closure was “mice droppings” found by environmental health inspectors. YO! Sushi, Casual Dining Group brand Las Iguanas, and Azzurri Group-owned Zizzi have all been forced to close voluntarily in recent weeks. All venues are on or near the food terrace, which faces Chavasse Park. All have since reopened. Liverpool ONE estate director Chris Bliss said: “We have been relentless in our exploration of any problems that have been brought to our attention. Our own pest control officers have remained on site continuously since separate problems were identified.” Thai Leisure Group managing director Ian Leigh said the company was working with the city council closely to “ensure any issues are resolved”.

Company News: 

Rooney Anand – ‘home entertainment one of our biggest challenges’, family market key area for growth: Greene King chief executive Rooney Anand has said home entertainment is one of the biggest challenges for the company and sees the family market as a key area for growth. Speaking at the Numis Travel and Leisure Conference in London on Wednesday (16 March), he said: “Investors ask who we see as competition. Obviously other chains, but we start with a look at staying at home – what can you get delivered? What can you can get from a takeaway or restaurant?” Anand added branding was a key growth area for the future. He said. “Branded pubs have gained share. One thing we will be increasingly thinking about going forward is what is the role of the brand – how do you mimic characteristics of restaurants at the same time as recognising pubs are slightly different.” He believes the solution is to continue to broaden the range in pubs to make them relevant for different people to go to at different times of the day. Spend on different products is absolutely crucial in moving the industry forward, he added. Anand also said the family market was where the company was seeing the main growth. He added: “As an industry, we’ve got to get young people to see pubs as a go-to destination. Families are the mainstay for our industry.” The acquisition of Spirit last year has also prompted the business to push forward with digital to find out customer insights, allow them to talk to customers and understand what they want. Anand said: “We are not cutting edge in the area of digital but need to be. The purchase of Spirit has given us a much-needed boost. There will be real advances from us over the next few years.”

Kornicis strengthens senior management team, new brand being created to roll-out in 2016: Kornicis Group, owner of the Jamies and Smollensky’s branded bars and restaurants, has strengthened its senior management team with the appointment of Nikki Ritchie to the newly created role of head of sales and marketing. Ritchie has joined from Eclectic Bar Group where she spent seven years as head of marketing and purchasing. She also previously worked as development manager at Marston’s. Kornicis chief executive Richard Stringer said: “This is a hugely exciting appointment for the company as, following hot on the heels of the appointment of Lisa Marie Harrison as head of food, it ensures the right level of passion, ability and structure within our team to meet the challenges which we have set ourselves. We are creating a stunning new brand to roll-out across a portion of our estate in 2016 before starting to look to acquisitions in following years.”

BrewDog boosts benefits for higher levels of investment in Equity for Punks IV: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has launched new benefits for higher levels of investment in its Equity for Punks IV fund-raising platform, with three types of rewards – “Beer, Spirits and Experiential”. The new benefits are available to those investing more than £5,000, £10,000, £20,000 and £50,000, with current investors able to top up to hit the new reward levels. The benefits stack, so if someone invests £20,000, they can choose a reward from each of the £5,000, £10,000 and £20,000 tiers. Beer benefits are “Free Beer for Five Years” (£5,000); “Free Beer for Life” (£10,000); “Your Own Sour Beer Cask” (£20,000); and “Be The Brewer” (£50,000), where the investor can design and brew a beer, which BrewDog will serve in all its bars and sell in its online shop. Spirits benefits for those who invest in the Lone Wolf Founders Club include differing amounts of vodka, gin and whisky, rising to a full barrel of Lone Wolf whisky, with £50,000 investors deciding how long it is aged for and when it will be bottled. Experiential benefits include a behind-the-scenes tour with BrewDog founders James Watt and Martin Dickie; attending a VIP pre-launch party at its US brewery in Columbus, Ohio; and “Beer Truck Party”, where £50,000 investors will have a BrewDog beer truck roll up to their house for an organised party. 

Casual Dining Group reduces annual energy use by 17% through Carbon Statement partnership: Casual Dining Group, the operator of the Bella Italia, Café Rouge, Las Iguanas and La Tasca restaurant brands, has reduced annual energy use by 17% since 2012. The reduction, which has been delivered by identifying and targeting energy waste across its restaurant portfolio using iC analytics from Carbon Statement, means the group is now one of the most efficient operators in the sector – as measured by the Hospitality Sector Carbon Reduction Forum energy benchmark. Following a successful pilot in 2011, Casual Dining Group rolled out iC analytics across its restaurant business and is now achieving the piloted results across the group. The iC analytics tool uses hospitality-specific metrics to identify where energy waste is occurring and provides restaurant teams with actionable information to reduce energy waste through engaging reports. An ongoing co-ordinated operational programme also includes regular communication, training, auditing and team incentives to maintain the focus. Casual Dining Group chief financial officer Tim Doubleday said: “Working with Carbon Statement has enabled us to eliminate unnecessary energy use across the group. As well as minimising our environmental impact, this work clearly has a significant commercial impact, which is very meaningful across a national business comprising almost 300 restaurants.”

Dubai hotel launches British-American gastro-pub, sausages by the metre: Amwaj Rotana hotel in Dubai has opened a new dining venue, JB’s Gastropub, which will offer mainly British-American cuisine. British chef James Hitchens will lead the kitchen team at the venue, the first of its kind along The Walk on Jumeirah Beach. The fourth of the hotel’s signature restaurants, JB’s menu includes smoked meats, barbecues and roasts, and features a host of sharing platters with the unique concept of sausages by the metre to promote communal dining. Diners can also make up their own platters of artisan cheeses and cured meats. The 200-cover venue comprises an outdoor terrace, bar, dining area and a high-table welcome space for diners and drinkers. Amwaj Rotana general manager Mark Deere told the Rotana Times: “Having enjoyed huge success with our three award-winning restaurants and taking in the feedback of our guests, we felt the need for a fourth restaurant, especially one such as JB’s that enjoys an entrance right off the street from The Walk.”

‘Open brewery’ Ubrew hints at expansion into Europe: ‘Open brewery’ Ubrew, founded by Matthew Denham and Wilf Horsfall, has said it plans expansion in the UK and a “key European city”. The company passed its £75,000 target on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube in 2015, with 125 investors pledging a total of £110,730. Ubrew has since launched its first brewery in Bermondsey, south London, and filled its 150 membership slots within the first three months, with a waiting list “of several hundred more”. Members use Ubrew’s equipment to brew their own beers. The company, which started out selling beer-making courses, now employs eight staff. Ubrew said it had seen an “incredible nominal valuation rise from the original £750,000 to about £2.3m in just over 12 months”. Ubrew stated: “Just last week we installed our bigger brewing equipment, which will enable 15 new breweries to launch on to the craft beer market, as they have already signed up to the pre-sold commercial membership scheme. Around half of these were members of our smaller equipment or avid home brewers, so we are now helping to produce a craft beer incubator or accelerator scheme. It will also mean we can brew our exciting range of beers at scale. We’re also close to announcing another site in London, a further one in another part of the UK, as well as building our following in a key European city.”

Manchester multi-site operator MAD acquires eighth site: Manchester multi-site operator Mark Andrew Developments (MAD) has added an eighth site to its portfolio after acquiring Chalk Bar and Grill in Didsbury. The company has bought the 150-cover venue in Wilmslow Road for an undisclosed sum and will take over from Monday, 21 March. MAD owner Mark Andrew said the site provided an opportunity for his business to complete its ambition to run a large, all-day bar and food spot in Didsbury. He told the Manchester Evening News: “From the moment Chalk opened it stood out, and we love the brand. It’s nice to be able to take hold of something that doesn’t need much doing to it. We were looking for something like this in this area, but it’s quite difficult with planning issues in Didsbury, and there aren’t many double-fronted places around here either – and this is a triple-fronted site with a fantastic terrace.” MAD’s other venues are restaurant Rosylee, 1950s-themed Infamous Diner, late-night bars The Fitzgerald, Tusk, and Walrus, all in the Northern Quarter, plus Hula sites in the city centre and West Didsbury. The company is also currently redeveloping Habib House in Stevenson Square into an events and social space.

Former Jamie Oliver head chef opens restaurant inside Cornish vineyard: Former head chef at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurant in Cornwall Andy Appleton has opened a restaurant inside the county’s newest vineyard. Appleton, who left Fifteen last month after more than ten years, has launched his new venture at Trevibban Mill Vineyard & Orchards, just outside Padstow. Appleton’s at the Vineyard offers an Italian-inspired menu, including dishes paired with Trevibban’s organic wines and ciders. It is the only vineyard in Cornwall with its own restaurant on site. Appleton told Business Cornwall: “When I left Fifteen, I had some really great offers, a lot from London, but I went with my heart and my gut. It just felt right, and still feels right. It’s all here: the venue, the kitchen, the vegetable garden and the wine.” Trevibban owner Engin Mumcuoglu added: “We always had a good working relationship with Fifteen so when we heard Andy was leaving we got straight on the phone. As it turns out, he was chasing us down at the same time – it was meant to be.”

Rosa’s Thai Cafe appoints PR agency to help develop brand: Rosa’s Thai Cafe, which aims to combine “modern London with modern Bangkok”, has appointed PR and marketing agency Tonic PR & Communications to help develop the brand. Rosa’s founders, husband and wife team Alex and Saiphin Moore, have asked Tonic to seek new and innovative opportunities to publicise its Thai food as well as several new developments for the brand. Alex Moore said: “We’re very excited to appoint the Tonic team because they seem to share a similar philosophy about life and business to Rosa’s. Their experience in the industry was a key factor in our decision to work with them, and we look forward to getting started.” Rosa’s, which began life as a market stall in Brick Lane, east London, in 2006, now has six sites in the capital – Angel, Carnaby, Chelsea, Spitalfields, Soho, and Westfield Stratford. Earlier this year it secured an £1.8m cash injection from Santander to open three new venues in 2016.

Itsu opens new site in Leeds: Itsu, the healthy Asian food chain created by Pret A Manger co-founder Julian Metcalfe, has opened a new site in Leeds. The company has launched the venue on the corner of Commercial Street and Trinity Street on the former Barratts shoe shop site. Diners are able to pick from 64 protein-packed, low carb options, such as smoothies, salads, soups and sushi. Itsu director of development Said Takhamt told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “It’s an exciting time for the city’s fast-growing food and drink scene and we look forward to being a part of it.” Last October, Itsu, which has 66 sites that are mostly in London, secured £40m of funding from HSBC to drive ambitious expansion plans.

Leasehold of Lancashire canal-side pub goes on market: A country pub and restaurant on the banks of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal has been brought to market. Christie & Co has been appointed to sell the Saracens Head in Halsall, west Lancashire, with offers sought in the region of £175,000. The property is available leasehold, subject to a passing rent of £66,000 per year on a ten-year lease from February 2014. The current lease is offered free-of-tie on wines, spirits and minerals and 50% free-of-tie on real ales with Punch. The two-storey detached property, which is more than 100 years old, has undergone a full refurbishment in recent years. It features front and rear beer gardens and a children’s play area, with owners’ accommodation including four double bedrooms. Keith Stringer, of Christie & Co, told Insider Media: “There is currently a demand for quality dining in scenic locations, and the sale of the Saracen’s Head presents a superb opportunity to acquire a quality and thriving business in an excellent waterside location.”

90% of drinkers demand to know more about what’s in their beer: A new study of British drinking habits has revealed consumers have become more selective in the beer they drink as the rise of craft-brewed ales continues to rise, with 90% interested in learning more about different beers and two-thirds wanting to know more about the ingredients. In the report by the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA), 53% of respondents also believed it was important beer was brewed in the UK, with 46% believing craft beer is “made by small brewers rather than large corporations”. The report also revealed 24% of women are drinking more beer than they did two or three years ago. In total, 900 people were surveyed as part of the report that will be presented today (Thursday, 17 March) at the BeerX conference in Sheffield, organised by SIBA. Managing director Mike Benner said: “Just as wine drinkers understand the importance of different grape varieties, today’s beer drinkers are increasingly curious about different styles and what gives each beer its unique flavours. There has never been more choice and quality available to beer drinkers than there is right now and this is clearly reflected in the attitudes presented in this consumer research. For the vast majority of men and women who say they don’t like beer, what they really mean is ‘I haven’t found a beer I like’ – which was understandable when the choices were so limited. But the fact is we now have more different styles of beer being brewed in the UK than ever before. The flavour spectrum of beer has expanded massively in recent years and this has gone a long way to attracting new drinkers, including women.” BeerX, which showcases beer from UK independent craft brewers, runs until Saturday (19 March).

Slug and Lettuce adds Asian-style street food and cocktails to new menu: Stonegate Pub Company brand Slug and Lettuce has added Asian-style street food and new cocktails to a menu it will launch on Wednesday, 23 March. The new Fast and Fresh menu, available until 4pm, will feature dishes from across the globe, including Superfood Salad and BBQ Pulled Pork Burrito. To meet “increasing demand for dishes which can be shared or offer lighter bites”, the Asian Platter comprises pulled pork steamed buns, hoisin duck spring rolls and butterfly king prawns. The cocktail menu also has a new section – Ten of Our Best – including The Flat White Martini and Strawberry Bellini. Slug and Lettuce commercial director Suzanne Baker said: “We pride ourselves on creating aspiring and accessible menus which complement every social occasion, from the working breakfast or a casual lunch through to the best nights out.” Stonegate operates 84 Slug and Lettuce sites across the UK.

Obica opens fifth London site with flagship venue in St Paul’s: Mozzarella bar Obica has opened its fifth London site, this time in St Paul’s. The company has launched the flagship venue in Limeburner Lane. The open plan restaurant features Italian marble alongside copper and stainless steel whilst oak wells are offset by blackened steel, rough stone and fine leather, reports The Handbook. It has a copper pizza oven with chefs cooking pizzas with toppings including burrata and N’Duja (spiced sausage from Calabria) and prosciutto di parma and rocket. Focusing on fresh, seasonal, organic produce and traditional Italian regional cuisine, dishes include Tartare di Tonno – knife-cut Ahi tuna, prepared with taggiasche olives, pantelleria capers, heirloom tomatoes, lime, chives and avocado puree; and Branzino – sea bass with solfino white beans, seasonal vegetables and roasted datterini tomatoes. Twice a week mozzarella di bufala DOP will be imported from Italy and is served at the mozzarella bar with black truffle, caviar or olive oil. Obica’s other London sites are in Canary Wharf, Charlotte Street, Poland Street, and South Kensington. It also has venues in Italy, the US, Japan, and the United Arab Emirates.

Colmans gets go-ahead for £1m transformation of bandstand into second South Shields site: Award-winning fish and chip restaurant Colmans is set to start expansion after its £1m plans to turn a bandstand into its second South Shields site were approved. Colmans owner Richard Ord will start work soon to turn the Sea Road bandstand and public convenience – known locally as Gandhi’s Temple – into a new restaurant, which will also include a cocktail bar and takeaway. Ord said he hoped the new family venture would be open by the end of the year, creating 35 jobs and apprenticeships. The new restaurant will be called Colmans Seafood Temple, a sister venue to Colmans in Ocean Road, which opened in 1926 and won best restaurant in the National Fish and Chip Awards. Ord told The Shields Gazette: “I’ve not heard of any others setting up in a former bandstand. My great-grandfather started up his business Frankie’s on the beach in 1905, just a stone’s throw from the Temple, and I love the idea of restoring a piece of our town’s history and heritage too.”

Canada Water Cafe owners to open sister site: The owners of the Canada Water Cafe in London are to open a sister site in the capital. They are launching Italian restaurant Plough Way Cafe in Seafearer Way, Deptford. The site is being fitted out with 100 square metres of Italian marble in advance of opening in May. The company said: “We are hoping to make a big impact in the area. Sister restaurant to the already successful Canada Water Cafe, Plough Way Cafe is looking to serve its own interesting and high quality Italian menu. We call this launch a ‘café’ because we plan to serve traditional English breakfast and superb coffee – but we are also looking to deliver top quality Italian lunch and evening menus that major on great ingredients cooked with passion for discerning locals.”

Kaspa’s to open Exeter city centre venue, first Devon site: US-style dessert parlour brand Kaspa’s Desserts is set to open a site in Exeter city centre, its first in Devon. It is believed the venue will be in Market Street, the Express & Echo reports. Kaspa’s offers waffles, speciality ice-creams, sorbet, frozen yogurt, sundaes, milkshakes, smoothies and crepes. The company operates 18 sites, with 22 to “open soon”, according to its website. The nearest site to Exeter is in Bath.

Tapas Revolution opens fifth site in Sheffield: Spanish television chef Omar Allibhoy has opened the fifth Tapas Revolution – in Sheffield’s Meadowhall shopping centre. Madrid-born Allibhoy wrote the fastest selling Spanish cookbook of 2013 – Tapas Revolution – and has made numerous television appearances including MasterChef, The One Show, Sunday Brunch, and This Morning. Allibhoy said: “Tapas Revolution in Meadowhall is my version of the tapas bars back home in Spain, that act as a social hub for the community as well as providing delicious traditional food. Sheffield has a great food scene that’s growing and is gaining a really positive reputation. I wanted to get involved in the buzz happening here and bring a real taste of Spain to the north of England.” The other Tapas Revolution sites are in Shoreditch, east London, and three shopping centres – Bluewater in Kent, Grand Central in Birmingham, and Westfield in Shepherd’s Bush, west London. 

French artisan patisserie and boulangerie Orée opens UK flagship cafe in Chelsea: French artisan patisserie and boulangerie Orée has opened its UK flagship cafe in Fulham Road, Chelsea. Orée offers freshly baked viennoiserie, artisan bread and fine patisserie, alongside a selection of breakfast dishes, salads and coffees, to eat-in or take away. The 2,949 square foot venue includes a 38-cover seating area and a working bakery, reports Hot Dinners. Executive head chef Sebastien Charrier and head bakery chef Olivier Malebrera use a selection of 20 specialist French flours to create a number of exclusive recipes. Orée serves 12 different types of bread, as well as a seasonal bread of the month. The patisserie counter includes French classics such as pain au chocolat alongside traditional British options such as scones with jam and clotted cream. New offerings include matcha and raspberry tea cakes and lemon and yuzu meringue tartelettes. Breakfast and brunch options include chia pudding with seasonal fruits while at lunch, customers can choose from a selection of tartines topped with French and British classics. Coffee is supplied by Climpson & Sons, with tea from Parisian merchant Kusmi.

Twisted Burger Company launches bottled vegan sauces range as part of clothing partnership: Twisted Burger Company, which operates out of The Harley in Sheffield and has three franchises in Yorkshire, has made three of its custom-made burger sauces available for sale in collaboration with brand partners Drop Dead Clothing. Its Techno Burger Sauce, Jalapeno Salsa and BBQ Sauce are made in-house with recipes created by executive chef Alex Malins. All three sauces are registered by the Vegan Society, with the labels designed by Twisted Burger Company creative director Tom Newell. Operations manager Lauren Dyke said: “Vegan options have been a core element of our menu for a while now, as well as being a cause which is close to the heart of Drop Dead and its founder and owner Oli Sykes.” Launched in 2011, Twisted Burger Company’s franchises are at The Riverside in Sheffield, Vintage Bar in Doncaster, and The Yard in Ilkley.

Jameson launches ‘One From Me’ St Patrick’s Day drinks offer: Irish Distillers brand Jameson has launched a campaign with members of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers and global drinks business Pernod Ricard to have “One From Me”. Jameson is offering the 40,000 customers on its database and 100,000 online “fans” a Jameson, ginger and lime for St Patrick’s Day via its “One From Me” campaign. The offer, which is only available in England and Wales and runs until midnight on Sunday, 20 March, involves downloading the One From Me smartphone app to access a drink credit. Jameson claimed it is the first major brand to offer a cross-operator 100% digital redemption campaign, with insights around which customers engaged, who redeemed, and the ability to market to them with in-app and location-specific messages during the campaign. The participating operators are Walkabout operator Intertain, Luke Johnson-chaired Eclectic Bar Group, Yummy Pub Company, and Chris Wilkie and Karl Tisch-led Whiskey Whiskey Tango.
Pitcher & Piano confirmed for Sheffield site: Marston’s bar chain Pitcher & Piano has been confirmed as one of the future occupiers of the historic former National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) Building in Sheffield. Quest Property (Holly Street), a Barnsley-based property company, has secured the long-term lease of the historic former headquarters and the adjacent car park from the NUM. Pitcher & Piano will occupy one of the three ground-floor units fronting Barker’s Pool. Renovation of Sheffield’s historic NUM Building is now under way and is expected to be completed at the start of 2017. Matt Stephens, development director at Quest Property, said: “The refurbishment of this historic and prestigious building in Sheffield city centre will be a massive boost for the city. The refurbishment is a £5.5m investment and will employ up to 100 people during the construction works as well as around 250 staff in the office and leisure units once completed.”

New benefit for Propel Premium subscribers: Subscribers to Propel’s Premium service will receive a new benefit from this week – access to a new 30-minute audio recording every fortnight featuring a leading sector executive. The service will launch this Friday featuring the interview conducted by Propel managing director Paul Charity with sector investor Luke Johnson at the Casual Dining Show, discussing the economy, the pizza market, his investment strategy, and sector multiples. Recordings will be sent to subscribers once a fortnight. Operators, drinks companies, law firms, accountants, distributors and marketing firms have been among the first companies that have signed up to receive the Propel Premium subscription service, which launched at the start of 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 receive the Morning Newsletter, which is sent at 6.30am each day, 12 hours earlier at 6.30pm the day before. Subscribers 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, 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
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

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