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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Tue 22nd Mar 2016 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Millennials continue to be most loyal customer group for restaurants and coffee shops but percentage falls, more prepared to share personal information: Millennials continue to be the most loyal customer group for restaurants and coffee shops, although the percentage has fallen, new research has shown. The findings by marketing and loyalty analytics company Aimia, which has monitored consumer attitudes quarterly since 2013, revealed over half (52%) of 18 to 24-year-olds said they are loyal to restaurants and food and drink establishments. That is down from 62% in December. The percentage of 45 to 54-year-olds who said they were loyal remained at 39%. The research also found the percentage of 18 to 24-year-olds who are members of a restaurant or coffee shop loyalty scheme fell from 31% in December to 26%. That compares with 16% of 45 to 54-year-olds, with the figure up 1% from December. The research showed millennials are also the most likely age group (18%) to plan increased spending on eating out in 2016 compared with the previous year. Only a quarter (26%) of 18 to 24-year-olds opt to entertain at home instead of going out. More than half of millennials (51%) said they would share personal information so that companies could send them relevant offers and discounts – up from 48% in the last quarter. Subway was the most popular loyalty scheme among millennials at 58% – up 10% from December – with Whitbread-owned Costa Coffee at 54% (59% in December), Nando’s 46% (49% in December), Caffe Nero 35%, and Starbucks 46%. Jan-Pieter Lips, president, Europe, Middle East and Africa at Aimia, said: “Millennials are a key market segment for restaurants. Our research shows they are willing to share their information with restaurants in return for offers and rewards, which are tailored to their preferences and habits. This will strengthen restaurants’ long-term relationships with millennials, enabling brands to benefit from this captive audience. At the same time, our data shows the opportunity for restaurants to engage with older generations is as yet under-utilised.”

Industry News:

Propel Premium subscribers to receive full Roberto Morretti interview on Thursday: Subscribers to Propel’s Premium service will receive a 30-minute recording of Roberto Morretti’s interview from this month’s Propel Multi Club Conference this Thursday. Morretti talks about trialling new formats, Bill’s approach to suppliers, the involvement of founder Bill Collison, the retail opportunity, its flexible approach to paying staff above market rates, developing talent through Bill’s Academy, and the current company view of franchising. 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 

BBPA to hold conference to cut energy burden for pubs: The British Pub & Beer Association (BBPA) will hold a Pub Industry Energy Symposium to help operators navigate the changes to energy taxation highlighted in last week’s Budget, while helping them to cut fuel bills. The symposium will take place at the DoubleTree by Hilton West End in Bloomsbury, London, on Thursday, 5 May. The event is free for all pub operators but there are limited places. As announced in the Budget, reporting on energy use is to be simplified. The Carbon Reduction Commitment is being abolished from 2019 but, the BBPA said, action was needed to “protect pubs from efforts to claw back the money it currently raises, through other measures such as the Climate Change Levy, which is set to increase substantially from 2019”. The BBPA added without exemptions, pubs could face large new bills. Guest speakers will include officials from the Department of Energy & Climate Change, experts from Manchester Metropolitan University, and leading pub operators. Attendees will be guided through key issues and the BBPA will launch best practice guidance on key areas for energy reduction in pubs. BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “Energy policy is becoming an ever bigger issue for pub operators, and there are many changes coming down the tracks. I hope those within pub operators responsible for their energy policy and purchasing will take advantage of this unique opportunity to keep on top of these big issues.” Email to book a place.
Government rejects possible coffee shop cup tax: The government has rejected the possibility coffee shop cups could be taxed to prevent millions of them being thrown away. Environment minister Rory Stewart had told MPs there was a “huge” problem with unrecyclable, plastic-lined paper cups. But the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs told PRW: “While the minister acknowledged more needs to be done to recycle coffee cups there are no plans to tax them.” According to some estimates, fewer than 1% of the 2.5 billion paper and plastic cups used in the UK each year are recycled, leading to criticism of high street cafes for stamping them with recycling logos. Answering a Commons question from Labour MP Rob Marris, Stewart said: “The government has tackled plastic bags – I hope everybody in the House would agree that the plastic bag tax has been a success – and coffee cups seem to be a very good thing to look at next.” Disposable coffee cups can be difficult to recycle because most are made with a combination of paper and plastic. Television chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has said he is “delighted” the problem of unrecycled coffee cups has attracted government attention. Fearnley-Whittingstall, whose #wastenot campaign has gathered more than 300,000 supporters, said Stewart’s intervention should “help focus the coffee companies’ minds on finding a solution”.

Merlin Entertainments to launch UK’s first loop-the-loop rollercoaster restaurant at Alton Towers: Merlin Entertainments will launch the UK’s first loop-the-loop rollercoaster restaurant at Alton Towers in May. Diners will have to travel along two “gravity-defying loop-the-loops” before reaching their tables. The 150-cover restaurant is on the site of the former Air shop in Forbidden Valley and is set below a rollercoaster track, where diners will see their orders take on two loops and drop eight metres down a tornado spiral to their table. The dishes will be tested to make sure they can withstand the force of flying down the rollercoaster, while the restaurant will be available for pre-bookings. Alton Towers has just reopened after its winter break. The tourist attraction announced plans to make up to 190 employees redundant ahead of the 2016 season, blaming falling visitor numbers following The Smiler crash last year, which resulted in two people having a leg amputated and which also contributed to Merlin Entertainments suffering a 12.4% fall in revenue in its theme park operating group for 2015. However, following the consultation process only 98 staff have been made redundant. An Alton Towers spokesman said: “This has been a very difficult time for everyone at the resort but we are now focused on the start of the new season.”
Blanc to honour Jamie Oliver with ‘Sustainability Hero’ gong: Raymond Blanc will honoured chef Jamie Oliver at the Food Made Good Awards for his “unrelenting passion and commitment” to use food as a force for good and improve the nation’s health. The president of the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) will present Oliver with the Raymond Blanc Sustainability Hero award at the Food Made Good Awards at the Royal Horticultural Society’s Lindley Hall in London today (Tuesday, 22 March). Blanc said Oliver’s tireless work and ability to communicate with everyone, from a child in the school dinner queue to the prime minister in Downing Street, combined to make a winning recipe for positive change to how we eat and relate to food. In the past ten years he has poured his energies into finding solutions to a huge range of issues including childhood obesity, depleting fish stocks, the welfare of chickens, and the loss of basic cooking skills. “Since he first burst on to our television screens as the Naked Chef, Jamie’s enthusiasm has been utterly infectious and compelling,” said Blanc. “So whether he is challenging school caterers head-on, here or in the USA, or throwing himself into campaigns with an unrelenting passion and commitment to persuade the nation to buy higher welfare chicken, Jamie carries people with him, leading them to a better place.” 

Beds and Bars brand Belushi’s takes record-breaking £48,000 in day at Paris site: Belushi’s, the brand operated by Beds and Bars led by Keith Knowles, took a record-breaking £48,000 while hosting the O2 blueroom in Paris as England achieved the Six Nations Grand Slam. Belushi’s Gare du Nord hosted the O2 blueroom at the weekend, with 1,200 England rugby fans getting through 3,500 pints and 700 burgers. Television personality Vernon Kay hosted quizzes and prize draws throughout the day, with the first 250 guests receiving a free England rugby shirt, a Belushi’s classic burger and a pint of beer. An O2 fan bus also took guests on one-hour tours around Paris, including blasting out Swing Low, Sweet Chariot up the Champs Elysee. The evening ended with the playing of We Are The Champions on the hour from 11pm during post-match celebrations. Belushi’s previous record takings in a day were £20,000. A spokesman for Belushi’s said the company hoped to continue the partnership with O2 for events across Europe.

Company News:

UK franchisee consortium leads Papa John’s into the Netherlands: A consortium of five Papa John’s franchisees in the UK, led by Tony Kalsi, has been awarded exclusive rights to open the first Papa John’s venue in the Netherlands this summer under a new restaurant development agreement. The entry into the Netherlands is part of Papa John’s expansion strategy in Europe. Papa John’s International has 320 restaurants in the UK and will soon open restaurants in Spain and France. Papa John’s is also seeking potential franchisees in Belgium, Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic. Tim O’Hern, Papa John’s international senior vice-president and chief development officer, said: “The Papa John’s brand continues to grow and we are pleased to extend our growth with our successful franchisees from the UK into the Netherlands. We now have close to 4,900 restaurants in 40 countries and territories, including over 1,500 internationally, and we are very proud to add the Netherlands as our newest country.” Kalsi said: “We look forward to introducing everyone in the Netherlands to our quality ingredients.” In its most recent accounts for the year to 28 December 2014, the company reported pre-tax profit more than quadrupled to £2,315,000, compared with £523,000 the previous year. Turnover increased 17.1% to £38,323,000, compared with £32,724,000 the year before. Earlier this month, Papa John’s reported it had topped its record for new UK store openings with 44 new sites in 2015.

Hakkasan to open Jewel in Las Vegas in May: UK-based Hakkasan is to open Jewel nightclub, a dual-level, 24,000 square foot nightclub at Aria in Las Vegas in May, occupying the space formerly occupied by Haze. The venue will have a capacity of 2,000 in two spaces – a main club and mezzanine level with five themed VIP skybox suites. Tall, mirrored doors will welcome guests to Jewel, while the mezzanine level will feature five themed VIP skybox suites – the Blind Tiger, the Studio, the GOAT (Greatest of All Time), the Prestige and the Gallery – with bar, dance floor and views of the first-floor main club. Each skybox suite includes exclusive entrances for VIP guests. Guests of the Blind Tiger, a modern-day speakeasy, will enter through a secret doorway disguised as a custom-carved armoire. The Studio, a suite with velvet-lined walls, will feature album covers and artist-commissioned murals. Sports memorabilia and artwork set against brick will line the lounge-style suite the GOAT, and the Gallery will display walls of fine art photography alongside leather seating. The fifth skybox, the Prestige, an interpretation of the finer things in life, will be a jewel box-inspired space with champagne-hued tufted walls and seating with sparkle beneath a polished, brass-beaded chandelier.
Nando’s and Gourmet Burger Kitchen set to be first tenants of new Oldham development: Nando’s and Gourmet Burger Kitchen are set to be the first tenants of a new development in Oldham. The two restaurant brands along with Whitbread-owned Costa Coffee have agreed heads of terms deals with Oldham Council at the Old Town Hall complex. The scheme, which is transforming the grade II-listed building into a multiplex Odeon cinema with 800 seats and seven screens, will include seven family restaurants when it opens later this year. Oldham Council leader Jean Stretton told The Business Desk: “It is our flagship regeneration scheme and that’s why we only want great quality, popular, trusted, and sought-after brands. Both Nando’s and Gourmet Burger Kitchen clearly fit that bill. Interest remains extremely strong in the other units and talks are ongoing with potential tenants with more announcements set to come in the summer.” Work started on the restoration of the Old Town Hall in October 2013. The scheme has restaurant units to let ranging in size from 2,500 square feet to 6,000 square feet.

Multi-site operators to transform Bath city centre hotel: Husband-and-wife team Ian and Christina Taylor will transform the former Carfax Hotel into a 40-bedroom luxury venue with cocktail bar in Bath city centre. The purchase of the grade I-listed site in Great Pulteney Street takes the couple’s portfolio to three, alongside the Abbey Hotel and Villa Magdala. The venue will become a “stylish place to stay and a meeting place for local residents’ relaxed and comfortable, with a touch of modern glamour”. Ian Taylor told the Bath Chronicle: “We are thrilled to be bringing this building into our portfolio. Since arriving at the Abbey Hotel four years ago, there’s been no doubt that Bath would be the focal point of our business, working closely with the local community. Our new property has one of the best addresses in Bath and incredible potential. We will retain the integrity of the building, in an up-to-date interpretation with a nod to the history of Bath.” The Carfax, a former temperance hotel, was listed by agents Savills last year with an asking price of £4.5m.

Subway opens 5,000th European store: Subway has opened its 5,000 store in Europe, with the launch of a new site at a shopping centre in Livingston, Scotland. The store, which is based in The Centre, covers more than 1,400 square feet, seats over 50 customers, and employs 15 staff. It is owned by franchisee Haj Atwal – his 16th site with the brand. Justin Goes, Subway regional director – Europe, said: “We’re absolutely thrilled to be announcing the 5,000th Subway store in Europe. It is a fantastic achievement and reflects the strong entrepreneurial spirit of our franchisees who work hard in their local communities providing a great product and excellent customer service to all our customers. Subway has an incredible support system for franchisees, which allows them to benefit from over 50 years of the brand’s experience.” The first Subway store in the UK and Ireland opened in Brighton in 1996 and since then the brand has expanded its operations to more than 2,300 sites employing over 23,000 people. One of the largest areas of growth currently is the development of stores in non-traditional locations, such as on forecourt sites, within convenience stores, universities and hospitals. The UK and Ireland is the brand’s third largest market, behind the US and Canada. It has also increased its presence across Europe with stores now open in over 30 countries.

Domino’s UK takes step forward in creating new supply centre: Domino’s has moved a step closer to creating a new 117,000 square foot supply chain centre in Warrington, which would provide jobs to more than 120 workers. Domino’s Pizza Development and Omega Warrington have submitted a reserved matters planning application for the facility at Omega South. The application for new business premises includes space for production, storage and distribution, a two-storey office, parking and a substation. It covers a 5.5-acre plot directly to the east of the new Asda unit. Michael Botha, commercial director at Domino’s Pizza Group, said: “This state-of-the-art facility will balance our supply chain infrastructure nationally and enhance our business resilience. In addition, it will support our planned growth in the region and bring our fresh, handmade pizzas to even more people. Subject to planning, Domino’s Pizza Group is investing circa £30m in the new facility, which will service 450 Domino’s stores across the north and provide jobs to over 120 people in the local area.”
Des McDonald to reopen rooftop restaurant residency Forest at Selfridges in London on Thursday: Restaurateur Des McDonald will reopen his rooftop restaurant residency Forest at Selfridges in London on Thursday (24 March). Forest will have a new look and feel, along with a spring-inspired menu, which will use locally sourced, British seasonal produce, and each month celebrate a particular seasonal fruit or vegetable, reports Diary Directory. Lee Bull, group executive chef for Des McDonald Restaurants, and head chef Steve Wilson, previously head chef for Vintage Salt Upper Street and Liverpool Street, will run the kitchen and continue to oversee the menu direction, giving fresh dining options to customers. Head pastry chef Siobhan Ambrose will again be creating a range of desserts for Forest. The Terrace bar, which has a separate entrance and a wooden bar decorated with spring blooms, will serve a bespoke sharing cocktail list, magnums of wine and champagne. Floral themed potting sheds will be also available for hire. Last week, McDonald, who also has restaurants in Edinburgh and York, revealed he is opening izakaya-style venue Rofuto on the 16th floor of the Park Regis Birmingham hotel next month. The £3m venture will offer a modern Japanese menu with 360-degree views of the city skyline at more than 141 feet.

Tony Singh opens new restaurant in Edinburgh: Celebrity chef Tony Singh has opened a new restaurant in Edinburgh. Singh has returned to the city following his pop-up festival restaurant Road Trip last August and has launched the new venture at the Apex Grassmarket Hotel. The eponymous restaurant promises a “mash-up” of food styles and cultures based on the chef’s 25 years of experience. The menu features classics such as haggis pakora and new dishes including fish balls poached and fried from the Philippines. Singh told the Scotsman Food and Drink: “I am really looking forward to returning to Apex Grassmarket, it was so much fun in August with Road Trip. It’s all about the food, so get down to the Old Town for a mash up and chow down.” Apex Grassmarket general manager Stuart Douglas added: “We’re delighted to be working with Tony Singh who has a fantastic reputation.”

Former Belfast restaurant director gets nine-year ban after company enters liquidation owing more than £1m: A former Belfast restaurant company director has been given a nine-year ban after two venues she ran entered liquidation owing more than £1m. Lynda Coulter, of Deramore Park, was director of Loughgall, the trading company of Bourbon Restaurant at Great Victoria Street in the city and Charlys in Coleraine. Coulter, a former business partner of Michelin-starred chef Michael Deane, opened Bourbon in 2002 but it fell into administration in 2009 before finally being liquidated four years later, reports The Irish News. The High Court in Belfast heard Coulter acted as a director for the business despite being bankrupt. She also operated a so-called phoenix company where she repeated “a pattern of unfit conduct and failure to learn from a previous insolvency”. The company, which also ran the Charlys Restaurant in Newbridge Road, Coleraine, went into liquidation in May 2013 with assets of £247,500 but owing creditors £1,169,522. The court was also told Coulter allowed the firm to retain £311,806 in various taxes due to the state between 2011 and 2013.

Chef James Sommerin launches five-star boutique B&B rooms at Penarth restaurant: Chef James Sommerin has opened nine rooms at his eponymous restaurant at Penarth, near Cardiff. Restaurant James Sommerin with Rooms offers nine luxury rooms, some overlooking the Severn Estuary. The rooms have been given a five-star rating by the AA and Visit Wales following the numerous accolades won by Restaurant James Sommerin, including three AA rosettes and being the highest ranked restaurant in Wales in the Good Food Guide 2016. Sommerin said: “Opening and running the restaurant has been a lot of hard work but tremendously rewarding. Now we hope to be able to take the diners’ experience to the next level. The Rooms allow diners to enjoy themselves to the max without having to worry about how to get home. It also means we are able to attract and accommodate guests from further afield.”

M&B to transform Orchid pub in Cheshire into Harvester: Mitchells & Butlers is turning one of its Orchid “All-Inns” venues in Middlewich, Cheshire, into a Harvester. The Salt Cellar in Holmes Chapel Road will close on Sunday, 3 April and reopen as Harvester Salt Cellar on Monday, 9 May, the Middlewich Guardian reports. The new venue will seat more than 120 diners and create 20 jobs. Harvester has more than 230 sites around the UK, with the Harvester Boddington Arms in Wilmslow the closest venue to Middlewich.
Starbucks adds steak wrap, cakes and snacks to US spring menu: Starbucks is adding a steak wrap to its US menu from today (Tuesday, 22 March) as well as new pastries and a broader selection of packaged snacks. Starbucks’ new Southwest-Style Steak Wrap is made with grilled fajita steak tossed in a chimichurri sauce with fire-roasted corn, peppers, jicama, lettuce, and a black bean spread in a sweet potato tortilla. The wrap is paired with a creamy chipotle sauce and blue corn chips. Starbucks product development manager Melodie Beal said: “We wanted to include a lean meat in the wrap and thought steak would be a nice complement to our wraps with chicken. When we decided on a tender steak similar to what you would find in a fajita, our next idea was to make the wrap Southwestern style for broad appeal.” Starbucks has also launched a new collection of pastries and cakes – chocolate marble loaf cake, chocolate chunk muffin, apple fritter, and cinnamon raisin bagel. Additions to its snack collection, which include vegan and gluten-free options, are Torie & Howard Chewie Fruities in three flavours, Buck Wild Snacks in four flavours, and three flavours of Chuao Chocolatier chocolate bars.
Fifth Tom’s Kitchen opens on HMS Belfast: Tom’s Kitchen, the group of restaurants and delis founded by chef Tom Aikens, has launched a new deli and bar at iconic London landmark HMS Belfast. The venue, located on the quayside, is the fifth Tom’s Kitchen to open, and is operated by Levy Restaurants UK. It features a 58-cover rooftop bar as well as a 46-seat deli. The deli’s menu includes chicken and chorizo sandwich with beef tomato and spiced mayo on pumpkin bread and homemade sausage roll with piccalilli and lambs lettuce. There are also freshly baked cakes and pastries as well as a range of teas, coffees and soft drinks, beers, wines and ciders. The rooftop bar offers a menu of nautical-themed cocktails, such as The Black Pearl, consisting of blackberry-infused Beefeater gin, lemon, and Chambord blackberry liqueur, served on crushed ice. A range of wines, beers and ciders are also available, as well as a selection of nibbles and sharing boards. Aikens said: “The opportunity to create a Tom’s Kitchen deli and bar in such an extraordinary space is a real privilege. Launching a new destination bar at one of London’s most iconic landmarks is very exciting and we hope it will become a new favourite on the South Bank for Londoners and visitors alike.”

Hall & Woodhouse holds own brewed cask ale prices for seventh out of past eight years: Dorset brewer and retailer Hall & Woodhouse has held the wholesale price of its draught cask ales to business partners for the seventh year out of the past eight. The company said it would also add new soft drinks and lagers to its venues as well as a wider selection of bottled products through the spring and summer. Hall & Woodhouse also said it had introduced a free first aid course for business partners. Chris Chapman, Hall & Woodhouse business partnerships commercial manager, said: “We are proud to have held our own brewed draught cask ale prices for the seventh year out of the last eight, which shows a real commitment to helping our business partners control costs and increase profits. All the developments and improvements are as a direct result of feedback offered by our business partners during our recent focus group research and we are pleased to be in a position to have reacted in such a positive way.” Hall & Woodhouse operates 194 pubs across the south of England – 141 business partnerships and 53 managed houses. It is run by the seventh generation of the Woodhouse family.
Subway franchise director banned for seven years for deliberately failing to pay required amount of VAT: The director of a Subway franchise has been banned from company boardrooms for seven years after deliberately failing to pay the required amount of VAT. Jasmina Gordhan, from Harrow in north west London, was disqualified for not properly dealing with the taxation affairs of Leatherco throughout its trading, resulting in at least £169,286 being due and not ensuring adequate and complete accounting records were maintained. The secretary of state accepted an undertaking from Gordhan this month not to act as a director of a limited company for seven years from Monday, 28 March. An undercover investigation by the Insolvency Service established Leatherco had been paying 7.5% of what should have been paid. Once the true position was clear, Gordhan didn’t do anything to ensure either the tax affairs were brought up to date or any more payments were made to HMRC. It found the VAT had been under-assessed by at least £83,052. Leatherco then went into liquidation on 1 September 2014 after the business and assets were transferred, before a liquidator was appointed, to another company of which Gordhan was a director. HMRC said Leatherco’s records were not delivered up, so it wasn’t possible to identify the recipients of, and reasons for, £612,432 expended from the bank account, and what happened to assets that had been valued at £87,371 in accounts to December 2012 and subsequently sold to the connected company for a purported price of £9,675.

Gourmet burger brand Belted starts cross-border expansion with Edinburgh opening: Gourmet burger concept Belted, which opened its first venue in Carlisle, has started expansion with the launch of a second site in Edinburgh. The 90-cover restaurant has opened in Frederick Street, just off the city’s main Princes Street. The original Belted opened in Warwick Road, Carlisle, in July 2014 as the brainchild of Scottish couple Jenny and Steve Gilchrist, who always intended it to be the first in a chain. Further branches are planned for Newcastle, Aberdeen, Glasgow and Dundee. The Gilchrists enlisted the help of former Michelin-starred chef Ian McAndrew, who owns the Blackaddie Hotel at Sanquhar, as a menu consultant. Belted offers a monthly special as well as quirky items such as Irn Bru and pulled pork burger, haggis balls with whisky mayo, and deep-fried Mars Bar with whisky and salt caramel ice cream. Belted operations manager Evan Taylor told the News & Star: “Carlisle has been a great training ground for us and we’ve been able to develop our menu by listening to feedback from our customers.”
Castle Pubs to launch 12-week craft beer festival: Castle Pubs, the Mitchells & Butlers brand of 115 landmark pubs with a premium offer, is launching Craft Keg Fest showcasing the best of British breweries. The festival runs from 3 April to 26 June and is expected to serve more than 50,000 beer enthusiasts between 16 and 30 rotating craft beers throughout the 12 weeks. Beers on offer will include Siren Soundwave IPA, BrewDog Ace of Chinook, Four Pure Vienna Lager and Meantime Raspberry. There will also be a host of exclusive beers such as Hogstar Pale Ale and a new beer created by the Castle pub managers in collaboration with Cloudwater Brewery in Manchester. Craft beer fans will also receive a “Crafty Fox” reward card as part of the festival – buy six pints and get the seventh free. Ben Lockwood, craft beer and cider procurement manager for Mitchells & Butlers, said: “There’s a huge appetite for craft beer at the moment. Some of the lesser known breweries will be able to get their beers in front of a completely new audience and grow their fan base.”

Meantime reveals 2016 seasonal beer range: Meantime, the Greenwich-based craft brewer, has revealed its seasonal beer offering for 2016. The range features three new beers – the Cali Pale Ale, a Southern California-style pale ale, which is coming in April; Meridian Lager, made with German-style Pilsner malt, which is June’s offering; and Lucky Hop, a single hopped ale that can be tried in August. There are also two previous seasonal offerings – the deep-golden Fest Bier, which is brewed in line with Bavarian traditions, is returning in September; and Winter Sun, which combines European and American hops, which will be available in October. The seasonal beers will be available on draught at Meantime’s retail outlets and in a select range of pubs, bars and restaurants. Meantime marketing director Richard Myers said: “We’re incredibly proud of our seasonal range as it continues to give us the opportunity to do what we love most; innovate and experiment with different styles and flavours.”

BrewDog and Social Bite launch craft beer to fund clean water projects: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has teamed up with fellow Scots entrepreneurs Social Bite to launch the world’s first clean water craft label – Brewgooder. All profits from sales of its Clean Water Lager will be donated to charity projects, with the purpose of supplying clean drinking water to one million people in the first five years. The label has tie-ins with Oxfam, WaterAid and MercyCorps. Clean Water Lager is being launched on World Water Day today (Tuesday, 22 March), with a campaign to fund the production of the first 200,000 cans on crowdfunding platform Indiegogo. It is also available on tap in BrewDog’s UK bars. Brewgooder is the brainchild of Alan Mahon and Josh Littlejohn, founders of the Social Bite sandwich shop chain. Mahon said: “We’re offering beer drinkers the chance to help others by doing what they love most – drinking good beer.” Littlejohn added: “There is a lovely symmetry of drinking good beer and giving clean water. We are excited about teaming up with a business of BrewDog’s scale to make a significant impact.” Brewgooder will offer perks to “founder members” who support the crowdfund on Indiegogo. The Brewgooder team plans to introduce a number of additional perks throughout the campaign in the UK, US and Australia.
Revolution Bars Group to open first Revolution vodka bar in three-and-a-half years with £1m Stafford site: Revolution Bars Group has revealed more details about its vodka bar in Stafford, which will open in May following a £1m investment. The bar, the group’s 61st site, is in the Riverside area of Stafford, which is undergoing a £70m redevelopment, with new retail units, a six-screen cinema and a 1,000-space multi-storey car park. The venue, which will open on the site of The Litten Tree pub, closed since 2012, will feature a riverside dining area, and has created more than 45 jobs. The opening is the latest stage in Revolution’s development strategy, which saw three Revolución de Cuba sites open in the final quarter of 2015. However, Stafford is the first Revolution vodka bar to open in three-and-a-half years. Revolution Bars Group chief executive Mark McQuater said: “We have an ambitious development plan for the year ahead in place as both of our brands have real potential for growth and we are keen to expand as much as possible. The new location is brilliant, and we are sure our customers will love it. The redevelopment will bring some great bars and restaurants to Stafford, and we are so excited that we will be based alongside this.”

Carlsberg UK adds to cask ale range: Carlsberg UK has launched the 2016 edition of its Tapster’s cask ale brochure with a new look and an extended portfolio that now includes almost 250 ales. Now available to Carlsberg UK’s on-trade customers, the brochure has been redesigned to reflect the fact cask ale is enjoying a renaissance in the UK. An enhanced selection of beers from craft cask brewers has been introduced, increasing the total number of cask ales permanently available by 31 to 87. New “Tried and Trusted” brands  include Adnam’s Mosaic Pale Ale, Golden Sheep from Black Sheep Brewery and Oliver’s Island from Fuller’s. New “Local Heroes” feature Upham Brewery’s Punter and The Rev James from SA Brain while among the “Craft Selection” additions are Titanic Brewery’s Plum Porter and Citra from Oakham Ales. The Tapster’s “Extra Choice” range comprises more than 150 additional ales available on monthly rotation. For the first time this year, the brochure also features premium bottled ales such as Robinson’s Trooper and bag-in-box traditional ciders including Westons’ Old Rosie.

Peel Hunt – we recommend buying Greggs shares: Peel Hunt leisure analyst Ali Navqi has issued a ‘Buy’ note on Greggs shares with a target price of 1,320p. He stated: “This note highlights the opportunity in the bakery network and strategic investments being undertaken in the group, as we believe investors underestimate the impact of these changes. There were two key takeaways from Greggs’ FY2015 results. First, £100m investment in the bakery network demonstrates management confidence in the prospects for corporate store growth. Second, positive current trading is +4.3% against a tough comparative +6.3%. Accordingly, we upgrade FY2016. Investment in the bakery chain signals the group’s return to net store growth. We forecast an acceleration in net corporate store growth, together with franchise openings, and we expect the estate to reach circa 2,000 sites (from circa 1,700 today) by 2020. The majority of shop refits will be completed by FY2016, which should contribute circa 1% to group like-for-like sales (on top of market like-for-like sales growth). The group is investing circa £100m over the next five years to increase capacity in the supply chain; at the end of the process (expected 2020) Greggs will be able to support ‘substantially beyond 2,000 outlets’. For the medium term, we upgrade our store openings to circa 2,000 by 2020. Greggs saw improved current trading, +4.2% from +2.3% in quarter four 2015 (versus previous year comparative, +6.3%) and believe there is further upside potential from menu refreshes and promotional activities. Given this, we upgrade our FY2016 like-for-likes from 2% to 3% and see risk to forecasts being firmly on the upside. Greggs will be a different business in the medium term, transforming itself from a regionally run bakery chain to a sophisticated and centrally managed food on the go retailer. The shares trade on circa 18x FY2016 price-to-earnings ratio, with a yield of 2.7%.”
Agent Savills reports City Pub Company paid £1.525m for new Southampton site: City Pub Company (West), advised by agent Savills, has purchased the freehold interest in the former Varsity pub in London Road, Southampton, for £1.525m from Brightbeech Property. The 9,836 square foot (872 square metre) property is located in the centre of the city, on the corner of London Road and Carlton Crescent, and close to Vodka Revolution, the new BrewDog and JD Wetherspoon pub The Giddy Bridge. The four-storey pub features a large open plan trading space over the ground and first floor, and manager’s accommodation on the second floor. Chairman of City Pub Company Clive Watson said: “We’ve been looking to get into Southampton for quite a while and are delighted that we have acquired a great freehold. The site will be refurbished and we hope to reopen it some time during the late summer.” Kevin Marsh, head of licensed leisure at Savills, added: “Benefiting from such a prominent position in Southampton, this was a good opportunity for City Pub Company and we are very pleased to introduce another strong leisure operator to the city.”
Artisan gin maker seeks investment: Artisan gin maker Warner Edwards is seeking investment as it forecasts revenues of £5m by 2018. Warner Edwards produces artisan gins from its base in Harrington, Northamptonshire. The business is the brainchild of friends Tom Warner and Siôn Edwards, who met while studying at Harper Adams University in Shropshire. After selling its first batch of dry gin in 2012, the company has since gone on to create sloe, elderflower and rhubarb flavoured ranges. “It’s aimed at people like us,” Edwards said. “Traditionally, gin had been drunk by those aged 55-plus but people’s tastes are becoming more discerning.” Warner Edwards generated sales of £680,000 in 2015 and is hoping to turnover £1.4m this year. By 2018, the company is aiming to achieve revenues of £5m. Edwards also said the business partners were now seeking investment in a bid to cope with demand. He added: “We’ve been doubling volume year-on-year, which is tremendous growth. We’re now looking to get investors on board. We’ve come so far, but the next jump will be really big.”
Halva Bakery launches exclusive range at Fortnum & Mason: Halva Bakery & Patisserie, which opened its first site in Fulham less than a year ago, has launched an exclusive range at Fortnum & Mason, its first official stockist. The food and drink retailer, founded by William Fortnum and Hugh Mason, will stock a range of the French bakery and patisserie’s products, including Valrhona chocolate tart; peanut butter and raspberry jam tart; apple, cinnamon and pecan cake; lemon tart with crunchy meringue; and coconut, passion fruit and mango dome. Halva owner and head baker Lila Sarhang said: “We are thrilled to be working with Fortnum & Mason, it’s the perfect fit for our bespoke offerings and will be great for brand awareness, as well as helping us to reach out to more customers.” Halva’s venue in Fulham Road prepares fresh produce free of preservatives or stabilisers to eat in or take away.
Sourced Market starts expansion with second London site: Sourced Market has opened its second London site, in Marylebone, following a successful Crowdcube fund-raising campaign. The company, led by Ben O’Brien and Dan O’Niell, passed its initial crowdfunding target of £750,000 in December, and extended the offer to target £1.5m for further sites, with £960,000 raised when the campaign closed. It hopes to launch its third venue in Victoria in September. The first Sourced Market opened in St Pancras International station in 2009. The new venue in Wigmore Street will feature a coffee bar offering speciality filter coffee and pour-overs as well as Sandows nitro cold brew on tap. The venue also features a bakery, juice bar and deli with locally produced charcuterie from Cobble Lane and cheese from Wildes Cheese. There is also a selection of platters and small plates to eat in, while the kitchen deli has a daily changing menu incorporating a full salad bar and hot counter. A new feature is a bottle shop in the basement. O’Brien told Hot Dinners: “We’ll have an expanded range of craft beer showcasing the best of London’s craft brewers as well as a selection from the rest of the UK and further afield. As well as bottles we will have eight kegs on tap available to fill growlers to take away.” The venue also has eight wines on keg.

Host of companies sign up for Advanced Social Media Masterclass: A host of sector companies have signed up for the Advanced Social Media Masterclass being held next month. They include Thai Leisure Group, Enterprise Inns, Be At One, FrogPubs, The Deltic Group, The Big Chill, Camino, MyLahore, ETM Group, Coaching Inn Group, Maxwell’s, Ignite Group, JW Lees, Pebble Hotels, Everards, Novus, Snug Bars, Anglian Country Inns, McMullen, Gaucho, Wright Brothers, Star Pubs & Bars, Burning Night Group and Signature Pub Group. 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. To book email

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